Turkish towel or diy linen pool towel?

Trying to think of alternatives to buying several big beach towels this year.  They take forever to dry and take up so much room.  I don’t want to have to buy a new tote bag just for pool towels!

Turkish towels (37″ x 70″) can be had for under $20 on amazon, but could I possibly save more by hemming my own linen fabric?  Am I crazy to be considering that?  Yes, I think so.  I probably can’t do better than $10/yard for two yards per towel at my local Joann . . . plus time to hem them.

OK decision made: I’ll order a few Turkish towels to try them, but I do love linen dishtowels in the kitchen.  This remodelista roundup shows me I’m not the first one to think of linen beach towels.

meal planning with a vengeance

This semester I’ll be teaching an evening class that hits on one of the same days as my other class, so I’m trying to figure out how (and when) to feed everyone that night, including me.  I decided that the simplest thing is for us to eat soup and rolls every week on that night. There are about 16 weeks of classes–wonder how many weeks of soup and rolls can I pack into my chest freezer before the semester starts?

I’m hoping to make lots of soup in the next week. I’ll be using these storage containers.

I’m not wild about using plastic, but I’ve had several of my quart-size Bell jars break after coming out of the chest freezer.  They broke so that the bottoms came off in one piece like they were sliced off.  (What did I do wrong?) Anyway it made me nervous. These are like heavy-duty deli containers and have been working fine. The manufacturer says they’re BPA-free.  Hoping they are . . .

My soup ideas:

“Green” soup as we call it in our house. Broccoli is great, and I had a lot of leftover asparagus at Christmas, which works well instead of broccoli.
Pioneer Woman’s carrot soup, which is supposed to freeze well.
Red lentil coconut soup, which can cook in the slow cooker while another one goes on the stove.
My friend’s tomato soup recipe. It looks like this one.

footnotes like skyscrapers

If you want to know what happens if you basically ignore your wordpress blog for 4 months, you end up with about 1500 spam comments gathered together in the “pending” file.  Thank goodness they’re set aside there. The same spammers send enormously enormously long comments, and the frequency and repetition of certain senders (Louis Vuitton, Nike Air, nike pas cher, cheap Uggs, etc.) yields an amazing nonsense text when taken all together. I know the words must all be automatically generated, but their silliness is almost admirable. Also, kind of amazing that most bloggers in the world must be reading these same nonsense verses.

As I kept marking all the comments as spam, actually not “all”–I’ll just chip away at them for a few days–I was thinking about what my blog would be like if wordpress didn’t have a spam filter and it just let all those random voices in.  Those robot spam authors were making me think of some pages in Diaz’s Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao where the footnotes get longer and longer and utterly take over the page and end up climbing all over the supposed primary text like an overeager vine.

There was another image in my head–the massive number of spam comments accumulated into a kind of stalagmite skyscraper.  My blog’s spam, Nabokov’s footnotes.  Not the same, just letting my mind wander while I clean up around here.


“I want translations with copious footnotes, footnotes reaching up like skyscrapers to the top of this or that page so as to leave only the gleam of one textual line between commentary and eternity.”

Vladimir Nabokov quoted in “Problems in Translation: Onegin in English.” Partisan Review 22, no. 4 (1955): 512.


Thos. Moser’s “customer-in-residence” program

Doesn’t this look interesting? The idea of taking a skills-building class in Maine or somewhere else out of town appeals to me. With this program you come out with your own piece of furniture that you helped build.

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Really though, what I want to do someday is to go to the SAGA conference. A similar idea of skills-building classes combined with an out-of-town trip, but all for the love of smocking and sewing.

The Thos. Moser thing looks like all men; the SAGA conference would be all women.  If it’s anything like my local smocking guild meetings, it would be the most fun, sweet ladies of all different generations.  Someday!

I’m almost through the busiest part of fall term . . . looking forward to coming back to the blog soon.


why I don’t keep a journal any more

Well, maybe part of why I don’t keep a journal any more.  David Brooks’s recent editorial about introspection versus narcissism gets at one of my longstanding personal questions.  Brooks asks, “How do you succeed in being introspective without being self-absorbed?”

My regular journalling stopped about 6 or 7 years ago. I feel like I’ve had less weight on my shoulders since then, too.  I didn’t make an active decision to stop writing in my “black books,” but I did make a decision to stop revisiting and rehashing the tiniest details from the past, and it seems to have meant that I stopped writing in my journals very much.  Up until then, I always spent much more mental energy thinking about the past and worrying about the future than enjoying the present.

There are cultural keywords which get at the same situation: “being present,” “living in the moment,” and “mindfulness” among them, to which my reflex response is blergck!  The phrases annoy me, which is because my desire to take more notice of the present moment apparently makes me a twenty-first-century American cliche.

But to be sure a fraught one–to feel more content and happy I put aside something at the core of my identity, my writing. I have had an awful feeling, since stopping the regular journal writing, that I’m not fully pressing out of my daily experience some more essential and vivid understanding of my life and world.  It is truly a pleasant feeling to drift through the present tense, but for me, a former journal writer, a disconcerting one.

Writing this blog is my attempt to capture something of what I’m thinking about and aware of, but the format itself helps me moderate some of the self-absorption of my journal writing, since I always write aware of the fact that I have an audience reading. It’s strange that writing personal thoughts on a blog or other public electronic format is generally understood to be a fairly self-absorbed thing to do, when it’s the very nature of the writing as a public act that makes the format less self-absorbed for me.


poetry apps and a “feedback” app for college instructors

The NY Times does a quick review of three poetry apps here.  The best of the three looks like the $14 IPAD app for The Waste Land, which I bet is what ebooks are increasingly going to look like in a few years: nice visual design and formatting, links to textual references, and links to various audio recordings, which are especially relevant (and fun) when you read poetry.  I’m not particularly tempted by this app since there are a wealth of similar (and free) internet resources for The Waste Land, but I can imagine being interested in other texts handled in the same way.  I’ll have to see whose app this is and if they’ve built anything similar for other texts.

I’m starting to think about teaching since the end of July means August is coming and school will start in a few weeks.  It would be interesting to teach something via an online text like this.  $14 seems overpriced for an app, but it asks the same investment as buying a paperback book at the university bookstore.  Thinking about the logistics of using an app / etext as a required text though–I’m not sure all students would have a credit card or paypal or otherwise be able to procure an app, but I feel sure the day is coming soon when we will ask students to buy online texts like this.

Also re: teaching, I’ve just learned about an app called kaizema. It lets you leave comments on documents with a link to your written comments, to relevant internet links you want to show the student, or to your audio remarks recorded in response to specific places in the document.  This app is relevant to me because up to now I have always either handwritten comments on students’ printed papers or I’ve used the Microsoft Word comment bubbles within “track changes,” which definitely become ungainly and pretty confusing pretty quickly.  Kaizema looks more streamlined, and leaving recorded remarks might be an interesting way to give students my feedback on their writing.  I’ll try it this semester.

Kid Gear Review: Scooter Boards

wonderincubator's kid gear review: scooter boards
wonderincubator’s kid gear review: scooter boards

This past Christmas, we got the boys scooter boards.  Scooters were one of my favorite things from gym classes growing up, so I thought the boys might have fun with them.  I was thinking they would be a good way to burn off energy in the cold weather, but my younger son is only really ready to use his now.  And they have been fun in the hot weather!  We have a hardwood hallway where they can ride them–sitting down or on tummies only.  So far no injuries, although someone is bound to get a finger rolled over sooner or later.

I wanted to recreate the wood scooters I remembered from my childhood so I got these, but amazon also has colored ones that look just as fun.

Newbie Blogging Goals 6 month checkup

June 2014: time to check in with my blogging goals at the halfway point of the year.  Here’s where I blogged about my goals back in December.

How am I doing?

1. I will leave comments for other bloggers several times a week.

I have not left comments on other blogs several times a week, but I have left some comments here and there.  It would be easy to improve in this area.  Instead of leaving comments “several times a week,” I’ll make my goal more specific:

1. I will leave 3 comments a week on other blogs.

Next.  2. Write two posts a month that have great content and are between 1000-2000 words.

Oh dear.  I still think this is a good idea.  But I still seem to be casting around for focus in my subject matter.  I’ll save this goal for later and ease up a bit:

2. I’ll write one longer blog entry per month with great content and good images for Pinterest.

3. Find a way to write guest posts on 5 different blogs.

I think this one goes along with #2. It’s a good goal, but I’ll save it for later in my blogging career.

And 4. Think more about joining Facebook or Twitter.

Soon it will be necessary for me to join Facebook just to keep up with kid activities, so I can set this goal aside as accomplished: I did “think” about it.  I’ll revisit the idea of actually joining the fall.

So in summary, I really only have two goals now for the rest of 2014:

1. I will leave 3 comments a week on other blogs.

2. I’ll write one longer blog entry per month with great content and good images for Pinterest.

Fewer goals are better, don’t you think?




encouragement and brain food for moms