Grapefruit and keys

Kim or Matt related January 25th, 2014

This is a story of grapefruit and keys, and while those may seem an unlikely combination, I cannot really tell the story of one without the story of the other, so both stories it is, then.

Once upon a time, my keys looked like this:

keys 1

(Sorry about the blurry photos; I had to take these shots in a hurry because Matt needed to take Philip to acupuncture (itself a whole other story) and my car was parked behind his in the driveway, and thus, he needed my keys. Could I have retaken the pictures later? Yes, but it’s a blog, for heaven’s sake, and they’re pictures of keys, for heaven’s sake, and I decided if I don’t care, you shouldn’t, either. Anyway, back to the main story. . .)

I keep my school keys on a wrist coil, so I only had the car key and my house key. And then Kevin bought his not-even-a-mile-away house, and I got a spare key. Knowing my fondness for Phineas and Ferb, when he saw a P&F key, he had to buy it. . .

keys 2

. . . even though it was ginormous. And I love it, so I kept it, even though it dwarfs all the other keys and doubled the weight of my keychain. I kept it, that is, until today. Kevin has a grapefruit tree in his backyard that is (a) raining fruit and (b) feeding rats, and he wanted to harvest the fruit so as to stop both (a) and (b). So off we went, to East Sac Hardware, in search of a fruit-harvesting solution that didn’t involve purchasing a taller ladder. We found it, in the form of a fruit picker, but Kevin had a Home Depot gift card, plus he wanted to look for a pole that could fit different types of accoutrements in addition to the fruit-picking basket, so he didn’t get it. I, however, got several items (a toy rake for Sophie, as she’s afraid of raking noises and Nancy thinks smaller raking noises will help her adjust; a Microplane grater, as the handle of ours, which Henry chewed up a while back, just fell off; and, most importantly to this story, a new key.)

keys 3

While Kevin was browsing hardware, I was browsing keys. And when I found this cute panda key, it seemed like a no-brainer to make the Phineas and Ferb key (which I really do love, but it’s so heavy!) into a spare and carry the panda key every day.

So that’s what I did. And then off we went to the Home Depot, where it turned out the fruit picker was more expensive (ha!) and the multi-functional telescoping poles did not come with fruit picking baskets anyway. Which meant we would have to go back to East Sac Hardware, which was good for me, as I was thinking about how unfair it was that the key to Kevin’s house was cuter than the key to my house, meaning I needed to find a cute key for my house, too, and Home Depot’s supply of keys was vastly inferior to that of East Sac (double ha!) So off we went, again.

keys 4

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I got a ladybug key for my house, and possibly how cute it looks with the panda key. You, however, are wrong. I got a ladybug key for Kevin’s house, and a panda key for my house. Why? Because the panda key is cuter than the ladybug key, and it didn’t seem fair for the cutest key on my ring to open a house that wasn’t even mine (although it might as well be, because I swear I spend more time in it than Kevin does at this point). So, long story short(er), I gave the panda key to Kevin to give to Mom, cut a new (ladybug) key for his house, and cut a new (panda) key for mine. Good thing keys are cheap.

Kevin bought the fruit picker, and we headed back to his house (finally!) to harvest grapefruit, which wasn’t nearly the dreadful chore I thought it would be, and was actually rather fun.

picking grapefruit

It was a little dangerous, though, as many of the grapefruit were so (over-)ripe that they came tumbling down at the slightest provocation, meaning you had to duck to avoid being clobbered by, well, grapefruit-sized missiles. Also, did you know grapefruit trees have thorns? I did not, although I do now, and to add insult to injury, I also got grapefruit juice in my eye, which hurts, by the way. At any rate, we managed to harvest most of the accessible fruit and trim some of the branches hanging over Kev’s roof, and he has friends who apparently really like grapefruit, so he even has a way to get rid of the boxes and boxes of grapefruit we harvested.

eating grapefruit

I like grapefruit myself, but not boxes and boxes of it. I took home four. Although I do have to admit that the grapefruit was pretty darn tasty.

Kevin now believes he owes me dinner again, because dinner last night was bribery for the Ikea trip that preceded the Great Hardware Store Odyssey and did not take into account two hours of making sure he didn’t fall off his roof and break his pelvis plus grapefruit harvesting. I don’t really figure he owes me anything (he has helped us so much in the past that it’s kind of nice to be able to do stuff for him), but if it makes him happy, well, I’m hungry. Besides, one can never have too much family togetherness. Or something.

“Recent” quilts

Quilting & sewing January 5th, 2014

In spite of the slightly ominous noise my sewing machine has been making lately (yet another sign it really, really, really is time to get it serviced), I’ve been on something of a quilting spree. Realistically, at least some of these are from summer, and others I don’t even remember when I finished; they just never got photographed. But I won’t tell if you won’t.

1. Undesignated, gender-neutral, stash-busting quilt

Because really, you can never have too many of those.


2. Baby quilt for Alexis

I’m late, as usual; Alexis was toddling around at New Year’s when she got her quilt. In my defense, I started planning way in advance, started a quilt, and realized the solid fabric I’d bought was a cotton-poly blend when it shrunk during pressing. Oops. Since the print fabrics are an assortment of beautiful Liberty of London fabrics printed with Hello Kitty motifs that I’d purchased from Japan, it seemed a shame to pair them with the magical shrinking solid. So I ordered more Hello Kitty fabric, recast the original blocks for the back of the quilt, and came up with this:


Alexis’s mom, my cousin Stacy, loves both pink and Hello Kitty, so it seemed appropriate. Heck, I’m not a huge fan of either, but even I have to admit, the fabric is really, really cute. (So is Alexis.)



3. Baby quilt for Harper

My colleague Steve and his wife Amanda just had their second baby. I managed this quilt on time! I adore this fabric combination, which I got in a bundle from Fabricworm, one of my go-to sources for quilt fabric. (FYI Mom, they have a brick-and-mortar location in Paso Robles.)


I spent a lot of time pondering how to quilt this one, and I finally went with outlining the stars, flowers inside the stars and on the solid blue blocks, and a continuous-line leaf pattern everywhere else. Time-consuming, but thematic. I likes it.



4. One of my favorites from the reserve pile

Justifying my policy of always having quilts to spare, Matt’s rowing friends Dan and Rose recently had a baby girl. (It’s a good thing they had a girl, actually, since I think I’m fresh out of boy and/or gender-neutral quilts.) So we went digging through my pile of finished quilts and decided on this one:


I just love this pattern; it’s simple to make, but doesn’t look boring, and it has just enough white space to look fresh and light and modern without making you think, “Look at all those places a baby can vomit!” Plus, the fabric is by Kate Spain, one of my favorite designers. And I’m really proud of the vaguely-scrappy binding, the placement looks very intentional, even though it was a total accident.  :)

I’d really like to do more quilting, actually, but between going back to school, the ominous sewing machine noise, and the fact that my cutting table is covered with Christmas tree ornament boxes, it’s probably going to have to wait for a while. (Sad face.)

Post-Christmas in Monterey

Greyhound related , Kim or Matt related January 3rd, 2014

Matt and I spent a low-key Christmas at home this year, with exactly the same menu as the last time we did this. It was a very relaxing holiday, which was really just what I needed. Besides, there was no shortage of family togetherness, since Kevin just bought a house near us, and the whole family helped him move in on the 26th.

Fox and Goose family photo

(Matt took this frankly frightening photo of us at breakfast the next day, at the Fox and Goose, which has, bar none, the best corned beef hash I’ve ever had. I also strongly recommend the scones. With Devonshire cream.)

After that, Matt and I took Sophie to boarding. Why did only Sophie go to boarding, you ask? Because she has become, as insanely improbable as this may seem, still more crazySince last I wrote, she started refusing to go outside. No walks, no car, no dog park, no, no, no, no, no. Finally, we just gave up, Sophie became a shut-in, and frankly, all of us were happier. (I did call Nancy back in, and she did have some recommendations, and we are working on it, and we did go back to the behaviorist, and Sophie is on new meds, and this is really a story for another time.)

Long story short, Sophie was going to have to be boarded for New Year’s anyway, as there was no way she could: a. travel to Fresno, or b. deal with the Fresno family gathering. So Matt and I decided to board her a few days early and take a Philip-only vacation. We chose Monterey because it was on-the-way-ish to Fresno, we haven’t been to the aquarium in years, and it’s pretty dog-friendly.

So we got a nice little hotel room off the main drag, and spent a few nights in Monterey. Matt and I were happy because it had a refrigerator and microwave. Philip was happy because it had an extra bed.

Philip's bed

Every morning, we’d get up at our leisure (except for the morning we got up before sunrise because Matt wanted to “catch the nice morning light”) and wander down to the harbor, stopping for a coffee along the way.


Matt liked the harbor for the boats.


I liked it for the seals.


Philip liked it for the opportunities to sniff and pee.


We spent a few afternoons in Carmel, on the off-leash city beach, where Philip proved he can still run (albeit slowly, as I can keep up with him now).


And after a few days, Philip was so exhausted, he would sleep just about anywhere.

Matt and Philip


When we got to Fresno, Philip slept for two days straight. “Kimberly,” my mom would say. “I think your dog is dead.” But he wasn’t. He was just really, really tired. He is old, though, so we’re glad we took this little one-dog vacation.

Blog backlog: I’m not dead yet! edition

Kim or Matt related , Quilting & sewing November 30th, 2013

School is kicking my butt like you wouldn’t believe this year (I have my contractual maximum of 170 kids, and it’s murder), plus I’m just generally a bad blogger. So sue me.

In case you were wondering, Halloween has officially been my least favorite holiday since I began teaching middle school. (It’s closely rivaled by Valentine’s Day.) There’s a lot of hype and a lot of sugar, resulting in a lot of rowdy kids and candy wrappers everywhere. I hate it. Nonetheless, when the ASB kids made Halloween week a spirit week, I jumped right in (I love spirit weeks), even though it meant I had to come up with not one, not two, but three costumes.

Actually, I ended up making four. Monday was Pajama Day.


I’ve been obsessed with Phineas and Ferb ever since my kids last year chose to watch a Phineas and Ferb movie for the last two days of school. So when I found this fabric at Joann’s at the same time I had a 60% off coupon, it was a no-brainer.

Tuesday was Teacher-Student Day, explained as “Teachers dress like students, and students dress like teachers.”


I found leopard-print leggings at a discount store. (They’re my new favorite pajama pants, so I’m not even wasting them. In fact, I’m wearing them right now.) The gigantic hoop earrings are from Target (and they hurt!), and the rest of the effect is just details — high bun, lots of eye makeup, and my phone. :) I must have done well; my kids periodically suggest that I should wear the leopard print leggings again.

Wednesday was Rock Star Day.

rock star

The skirt I made — Halloween discount tulle (with skulls!) and clearance fabric with metallic raised dots. The shirt was a fortuitous Target clearance find, the jacket is Matt’s, the necklace has a glittery spider on it and I had it from Halloween last year. I did have to buy red lipstick, though, and it is not fun to wear. (Difficult to apply and gets everywhere.) The kids preferred the student look, but this was the favorite of the teachers.

Thursday was Halloween, and the sad thing is, the costume I spent a great deal of time on was totally eclipsed by the student and rock star looks. Oh well.

Still, this one has a tail. You can’t beat that.

The original pattern came with a ruffly skirt, which I omitted. (Although. . . guess where I got the inspiration for my rock star skirt?)

Long story short, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing and very little blogging. I wouldn’t expect that to change any time soon.

Blog backlog: Anniversary and crazy Sophie

Greyhound related , Kim or Matt related August 19th, 2013

Matt and I took our customary jaunt out to the coast for our anniversary (7 years!) during the first week of August. Since Sophie did well at the ranch on our last trip, we figured we’d be fine taking the dogs along. (Side note: Someone at breakfast commented, “You have videos of your dogs on the internet.” Well, yes, but how did you know? Answer: She found my video of the dogs while doing internet research on the Howard Creek Ranch Inn.)

We did our usual, taking lots of walks on the beach,

Beach walk

and Matt did some geeking out at a different beach, where he spotted a geological feature called an anticline.


Sounds good, right? Well, it was. For us. And for Philip.

Philip tidepool

Not so much for Sophie, however, who has become, improbable as it may sound, still more crazy.


She’s always been afraid of people, but now it seems like there’s no safe distance — if she can see them, she’s upset. As if that’s not enough, she’s become very sound-sensitive, too — if she can hear people, she’s upset. So in addition to her Zoloft and her weekly training class, we tried a Thundershirt and Calming Cap to see if they helped alleviate her anxiety.

Sophie's traveling gear

The answer was yes. . . and no. They helped (although Sophie really hates the Calming Cap and spends a great deal of time trying to remove it when it’s on), but not enough to keep her calm if, say, she heard anyone upstairs. Or if we went through a drive-through. Or stopped in a busy parking lot.

(One thing she doesn’t care about, though: My personal space.)

Sophie on my legs

When we got home, we scheduled another appointment with our vet behaviorist, who upped the dose of Zoloft and added another medication to Sophie’s regimen (trazodone). So far, no good, so the next step is likely to be to wean her off the Zoloft and try a different medication. In the meantime, she’s gotten worse again, and now she won’t go out the front door. So no walks, no dog park, no nothing. I now have an agoraphobe. (And you thought it couldn’t get worse. . . well, me too. More fool we.)

So I got another training book, and have a one-on-one consultation with Nancy next week, and in the meantime am trying to implement tips from both. So Sophie is being rewarded any time she looks at me (Nancy’s idea) and I’m training her to target (both the book and Nancy’s idea) and to relax on a mat (the book’s idea). Naturally, this called for a homemade mat.

Sophie mat front

It’s reversible, too. And made entirely from scraps!

Sophie mat back

So wish me luck, I guess. Sigh. (Double sigh.)

It’s summer. . .

Greyhound related July 23rd, 2013

. . . and the greyhounds are hot. . .

Philip fan

. . . so they get their own fans.

Sophie fan



Kim or Matt related July 21st, 2013

Matt and I normally hit the farmer’s market on Sundays, but he has a regatta today, so we went yesterday, mostly for tomatoes. I’ve been craving gazpacho.


We found some fabulously ripe heirlooms (with one of my students working the stand, no less), and they were already oozing juice by the evening. So I made gazpacho last night. At midnight. I’m glad I did, though, because now, guess what I’m having for lunch?

(For the curious, I used, loosely, this recipe. No tomato juice, though, because you don’t need it if the tomatoes are good enough, and if the tomatoes aren’t good enough, why are you making gazpacho?)

On “commission”

Kim or Matt related , Quilting & sewing July 16th, 2013

In addition to my recent garment sewing kick (and I have a finished dress that’s just awaiting photography, so stay tuned), I’ve been doing some quilting this summer. Actually, I got a head start on summer quilting thanks to a “commission” (there was no money involved) — my principal retired this year, and the VP organizing her party thought she’d like a quilt.

Mary closeup

Since I didn’t get much lead time (“So. . . how long does it take you to whip out a quilt?” my VP wanted to know, two weeks before the party), I decided to keep it simple. I bought a charm pack in colors that theoretically match my principal’s RV, and gave the staff cream solid fabric, taped off into five inch squares. It’s not really to my taste, but I still thought it came out well. And thus ends “commission” number one.

(There’s no full quilt shot because I didn’t manage any decent photos. But if you want a bad one. . . here you go.)

“Commission” number two should probably have come first, because I accepted it about a year ago. Jen wanted a quilt to display Aiden’s special baby clothes, which I was happy to do (and to be fair to me, I did warn her it would probably take forever). I was a little apprehensive about starting it, because I didn’t want to make any mistakes with irreplaceable special clothes, but once I did start, it pretty much flew by. And I love it.


Ohmygoodness, where to start? I had two major challenges with this quilt. For starters, not everything was t-shirt material, which is pretty easy to work with. There were a few (adorable) fleecy outfits, and a few with fasteners through the main motif. On top of that, all the clothing pieces were different sizes and shapes.

I finally decided to use each piece as a base and fill out around it with coordinating stash fabric; each block finished at 12″ square. That solved the size and shape problem, and also meant that I could place zippers and fleece in the center of the block, and not have to deal with it when I joined blocks together. (That was a good decision. Sewing over zippers is a bear. Not just any bear, either. A very angry bear who just had his fish stolen.)

I’m especially proud of the vampire block and the fleecy lion block (brown striped background), because both came from onesies with super-cute feet. The vampires are, well, vampires, and the lion onesie said “Mommy’s mane man” on the soles. I appliqued both on a background piece to make them easier to include in the quilt, and I’m so glad I did; it’s a nice touch and keeps the blocks from looking too angular.

Those aren’t my favorite blocks, though. I put my favorites in the center: the lion block and the Mario block.

Mario block

The green mushroom is from a onesie Matt and I bought Aiden, as a Christmas present, I think. The fire flower and red mushroom are pieces I made to 1) match; and 2) fill out the block. (Thank goodness for 8-bit, and that’s all I have to say about that.)

lion block

I love the symmetry (thematic and visual) the blue elephant brings to this block; it’s fussy cut from a fabric I’ve had in stash for years (I think I made shorts out of it when I was in college. . . or maybe high school?), and I’m a big fan of bright primary colors. I’m also super happy to have found a deserving home for these elephants.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m enormously pleased with myself, so I hope Jen and Andrew are just as happy. And Aiden, of course, but personally, I think Aiden is going to prefer the other half of his birthday present:

birthday rawr

Happy Gotcha Day, Sophie

Greyhound related , Kim or Matt related July 7th, 2013

Or, “How can it have been a year already when she’s still so, so, so crazy?”

Sophie head shot

Here’s to our one-year anniversary with our independent, willful,

hide and seek Sophie

high-energy, comfort-loving,

Sophie in pool

little ball of crazy.

sleeping Sophie

(Sophie’s gotcha day is always bittersweet, because it’s also the birthday of my grandmother and Henry, both of whom have passed away. So, happy birthday to Grandma M and Henry. RIP x 2.)


Celebrating the Fourth with peace and quiet

Greyhound related , Kim or Matt related July 6th, 2013

Philip fears very few things. Fireworks, though, are one of those few, and they’re legal in Sacramento. Thus, as much as possible, we spend the Fourth on the road. We opted, once again, to spend this year’s Fourth on the beach in Point Reyes.

This is our first Fourth with Sophie, so we weren’t sure quite how it would go. As I feared, the first few hours were trying; she got splashed on the side by a rogue wave, so now she won’t go near the water (the same wave, I might add, knocked Philip off his feet and was pulling him in when Matt got to him, but you don’t see Philip complaining); and she spent most of her time looking around fearfully to keep an eye on the movements of nearby strangers (as well as changing position to better monitor same). We gave her lots of treats, and she was relaxed enough to take them, so overall, she did pretty well, but it wasn’t exactly fun.

That is, it wasn’t fun until Sophie had an idea.

Her idea was to move to a little inlet close by, walk as far up it as possible, and lay down there. At that point, we had a pile of driftwood to the back of us, plus hills on either side, leaving only one, easily visible, entrance. After pulling me determinedly toward her desired safe spot, Sophie finally went to sleep.

Matt and Sophie nap

Philip, naturally, had other ideas. Primarily because he was hot.

Philip naps

Because he’s a trustworthy old man, we opted just to let him stay down there. And sure enough, he slept there until he got cold, at which point we bundled the dogs into their coats, moved into what was left of the sun, and all huddled together.

Kim and Sophie

Well, that was the plan, anyway. Sophie declined to cuddle. Philip, as always, managed just fine.

Matt and Philip

Our normal course of events is to stay on the beach until the sun sets or we get too cold, whichever comes first. This year, it was the latter, aided by a strong sand-bearing wind blowing into our faces. Since looking at the setting sun hurt, Matt and I decided to put the dogs in the car and watch the sun set from there.


(The sun was setting, I swear!)


All told, we had a very nice Fourth of July. No fireworks and no 113° weather. I call that a win.

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