Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Pepsi!

Somewhere back in my blog, I told you about this shirt.

How I ended up with a Pepsi shirt, I really can't say. I don't drink Pepsi. I don't drink Diet Pepsi. I am a Diet Coke from the tap kind of girl. This shirt is a boxy man's t-shirt and its unattractiveness is only increased by the word "Pepsi" on the chest. Since it doesn't say anything on the back, however, I've been wearing it...false advertising in action. Anyway, I saw a tutorial on how to cut down a man's t-shirt (which I can't find to link for you!) and make it more wearable for a female and thought I'd give it a try. Plus, I'd been itching to try my hand at free-form applique and thought covering the Pepsi name would be the perfect opportunity.

First I used a seam-ripper and removed both sleeves. Then, I narrowed the cut of the shirt and, in so doing, cut smaller arm holes. Then I cut down the sleeves to make them cap sleeves and reattached them to the new arm holes. Sewed up the sides and I was done with the technical part.

For the fun part (the flower appliques), I just cut out some flowers I liked from a piece of fabric and sewed them on. (Presser foot UP...)

I like the way the shirt turned out, but now I'm wondering if I should cut off the ribbed collar and change the neckline and finish it up with bias tape...hmmmm...I am just using it for exercise, but I do like to wear cute things.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fertilizer Friday

Fertilizer Friday?! Again? I wasn't ready!

Well, we don't have a lot going on in our garden these days. We've got a ton of leaves to take care of this weekend and we're hoping to get the compost pile turned before the snow comes, but for now, the outside is done. Still, the barren landscape gives me a minute to show you two of the things I love in my backyard.

First, this post used to hold our pool cover (for an above ground pool) when we would swing the reel off the pool so the kids could swim. It was concreted in for stability and Superman didn't want to dig it up after we got rid of the pool. What to do with a pole in the middle of the yard?

Ah! A place for the birdhouses my kids have made for me, painted for me, or I've made with them. The house on the left was painted by Valiant when he was little-little (that means I don't know how old he was, but I'm thinking kindergarten) can't see it, but it has a bluebird and a sun and lots of other sunshine-y details. I love it. The house on the top? That was made by Buttercup as a Christmas gift. She used scrap wood Superman had in the garage and refused to let her dad help with much of anything. I think I painted the other two, but I can't be certain. I love looking out and seeing the treasures my children have created. It makes my heart happy.

This other view is looking towards our koi pond and Buttercup's "clubhouse" (which doubles as the "area under the deck that was going to waste until she claimed it"). The window you see looking out towards the pond is the one where you'd see me at the computer, if you were peeking over my fence and had good eyesight! The "No-Fishing" sign just cracks me up because our fish have such weird names: Bait, Filet, Bobo, and Guppy 2.0 (Guppy died). The little house behind the sign? That actual covers the pump for the pond and made, again, of scrap lumber from a neighbor's fence. The rocks around the pond? Oh, they came for free when we bought the house...they were in the dirt everywhere...weren't we fortunate?

As you can see Buttercup has begged, borrowed, and stolen construction supplies, unused landscaping materials and even the rug from her room to make her area nice (I thought we were saving the rug for another decor iteration of her room, but she says the dogs "need" it!). The dogs sure like appreciate her efforts.

P.S. Did you know, as long as we keep a hole in the ice for oxygen, the koi will survive the winter just fine? They just go dormant, almost hibernating, until the ground warms up again. Cool, isn't it?

Friday Photo two days ago...

So, I know it is Friday Photo Flashback and I'm supposed to be digging out photos from my pre-digital camera days, but I just can't. Instead, I decided to show you how much Buttercup is enjoying the PE portion of our school days.

Awfully nice of her to clean the treadmill for me, don't you think? Or maybe she's so exhausted that she's sleeping on the treadmill bed? Oh, I've got it...she's so excited about PE that she sleeps on the treadmill so she can be first in line to exercise every morning! Did I mention she's christened it the "dreadmill"?

Having said all of that, she was on the "dreadmill" for 93 minutes because she wanted to finish a movie and the only way she could watch the movie was if she was moving her body. Oh, the price we pay to watch television.

To see what people actually dug up, head over to More Than Words and join Alicia's Friday Photo Flashback party. Most people really do go back farther than two days...Happy Friday!
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kindness...Pass it On...A Challenge You'll Want to Join

Instead of my planned post, I decided to share this post from Syl at Live, Smile, Run. This is a challenge like no other and I urge you to participate.

So, here is what Syl wrote:

Hi all! Happy 300th post to me!

I wanted to this one to be special. There will be no balloons, no horns, no prize give aways but I am here to spread a very important message. I hope that if ever you wanted to join one of my challenge this would be the one!

Have you ever been in need?

Have you ever been down on your luck?

Have you ever wanted to make someone smile?
Have you ever wanted to let someone know you care?
Have you ever wanted to make someone feel special?
As you all know I lost my dad unexpectly and was dreading Christmas last year. A few things happened to me in November last year to prepare me for celebrating my first Christmas without him.
It all started as I headed out one night to do my Christmas shopping for the kids. I sat in my car outside of a toy store and balled my eyes out, I couldn't catch my breath. All I kept thinking was who would put the toys together for my kids, that was my dads job. He would sit on a chair with a screw driver and millions of packages of batteries and made sure that the kids played with their toys till the late hours of the night.

I left the toy store without a single toy, but on my drive home I knew that my dad would be so upset with me. He would of wanted Christmas to go on.

A few days later I was in a line up at a grocery store and there was a person in front of me. All the items on the line heading to the cashier were marked down items. I could see that this person was of very limited income and was only buying the essentials or what he thought he could afford. The bill came to approximately $19.00 and you could see him turn pale because he didn't have enough money to pay for everything, he started to hand the stuff back to the cashier. I stopped him in his tracks and payed for his full order. He said thank you and I said there was no need to thank me, that my pay back would be if he was able to do this for someone else one day.

This is when the Christmas bug hit me. From there I came home and posted an event on Facebook for my friends. I told them of my story and asked them to do something for someone small this holiday season. Even if it meant to buy some scarves and hats for the homeless, or something small like saying "Good morning" just something to brighten someones day.

For selfish reasons I needed stories to warm my heart. I did it in honour of my dad. And I can't tell you how this whole thing blew up. People became alive, the stories were heart warming. Everyone helped me in my quest, big or small, they made it happen. My kids got involved by shopping for less fortunate children, and dropped off toys. We picked a homeless person and put together a care package and dropped it off at the shelter. But my story doesn't end there, this event went so far as MEXICO, where some of my friends bought back packs for children, so they could attend school.

I knew that I wanted to continue on with this again this year. Not only for me but for Jen and anyone else who has lost loved ones. I know the holidays can be a tough time for people. It's hard to celebrate when there is someone in your heart and you are hurting.

So I challenge all of you my readers, to reach out to someone starting right now. Like I said it doesn't have to cost anything. You can be really creative. I wanted to continue this because I showed my kids that Christmas isn't just about material gifts, it's about gifts from the heart.

Here are some ideas:

Tell someone you don’t know that they look nice

Help someone across the street with their groceries

Open a door for someone

Let someone in front of you in line

Smile at someone and tell them to have a nice day

Buy someone behind you at a drive through a coffee

Go into a coffee shop and hand the drive through lady a $10.00 bill and tell them to use it on the orders that come through until it runs out

Make some sandwiches and deliver them to a homeless shelter

Go through your old toys and bring them to the children’s hospital

Phone your parents, siblings, friends and tell them how much they mean to you

For those of you who would like to join this challenge please spread the word and please share your story with me. This will run right now, through Christmas. Please share your stories so I can share them with others. Lets make this holiday season one filled with as much happiness and love as we can.

When the Nagle Family first left California in 2005, we truly felt lucky. We had sold our house at the top of the market and had quite a bit of extra money. Frankly, we felt blessed with good fortune and wanted to pass it along. One of the first things we did in our new home town was to participate in the Tree of Sharing, where disadvantaged people of all ages put wishes on a tree and someone else fulfills that wish. Instead of finding the little dreams, however, we spent our money on the big dreams. The one that sticks most with me and the kids is this one: We went so far as to buy a little girl a bike. When we imagined that little girl finding out that she really, truly got that bike she'd dreamed of, our hearts were filled with joy. The next year, we adopted a military unit overseas and added our huge package to others being sent to those who serve our country, away from home, at Christmas. We haven't always been able to fulfill the big dreams, but no matter what, we try to fulfill a few dreams. So, I can say with certainty, the Nagles will be joining Syl's challenge...and we hope you will, too.

To Make You Laugh...

When a woman wears a leather dress,
A man's heart beats quicker,
And his throat gets dry,
He goes weak in the knees,
And he begins to think irrationally.
Ever wonder why?

It's because she smells like a new truck.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Have you ever thought about denial? Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see when someone else is in denial, but incredibly difficult to see when you, yourself, are in denial? I've been grappling with the issue of denial for a while now. Denial = rationalizations for me. Recently, I've come to the uncomfortable realization that I've been rationalizing away a number of concerns, the most pressing of which has been my weight. It is too is just that simple.

I was anorexic for a number of years, during which I also abused laxatives. To say I don't have a healthy relationship with body image would be an understatement. For years, relative youth kept my weight at a place I could, well, ignore. My muscles were tight and I didn't care about my abs because I was busy having and raising three children. I'm not relatively young anymore and I'm done carrying babies. My last baby was born more than 10 years ago.

Something happened this year...this summer saw me rationalizing away my flabby bottom, my bra strap bulges and my protruding lower belly. Maybe I was dealing with too many other issues, maybe I just wasn't ready. Whatever...the truth is: I was in denial. I've gained weight and I'm out of shape. Naked, I don't recognize myself. I can't see the younger woman I used to be.

Well, enough is enough. Beginning October 1, I committed to myself (and only myself) that I'd work out every day in October without fail. I made it until the 14th, when I got really sick with the flu. (I think I made myself sicker by thinking I was better on the 17th and worked out...not a good idea when you have the flu - I am really not 25 anymore and my body didn't forgive me for that one!) I stopped while I recovered, but starting yesterday, I was back at it. Just like the kids, I have 45 minutes minimum a day of exercise (but I'm shooting for 60+) .

No more denial.

I weigh too much and I'm out of shape, but I'm committed to doing something about more excuses. I still won't get on a scale because the numbers don't matter the way the inches do. I will do this because I am dealing with reality...I need to do this to be the person I am inside...I need to make the inside match the outside. It is just that simple.

Thanks for listening...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Your Home Sing Monday

You might have noticed that I'm not jumping on the MYHSM bandwagon every week. Some weeks our rhythm is so terrific, I don't feel inclined to mess with anything and I just want to leave things as they are and enjoy the flow. This week isn't one of them, so part of my promise to myself was to get it back on track and join Making Your Home Sing Monday until we're there again.

Nan says that Making Your Home Sing can be an attitude or an action. Motivation, our attitude, baking, encouraging our husband or children (if we have either one), organization, cleaning, saving money....the opportunities are endless."

Her post this week is all about persevering..."if at first you don't succeed, try, try again". I guess we're on the same page. After three weeks of chaos - first the kids got sick, then I got sick, then Superman got sick, then everyone was excited because I had a birthday (um, yippee?). Let's not forget a bit of a stress over Superman's job, either. Truthfully, we lost all semblance of a rhythm. Yes, I kept up with the chores (barely), but the kids didn't keep up with schoolwork beyond the absolute minimums (math and spelling and some history reading). It wasn't their fault...I just was too darned tired and overwhelmed to enforce anything. I was thrilled each night that they were fed (all day!) and that I was keeping up with the laundry and the dishes. The beds got made each day--I think. Vacuuming wasn't happening as often as it should, nor was dusting...and let's not talk about the bathrooms, okay?

Look, it happens to us all. That is where we're all the same. Where we're different is how we respond to the breakdown of our routines. Do we throw up our hands and say, "Well, it doesn't matter now because I've let this go and that go, so I can't ever catch up, " or do we say, "Well, this is fine mess. Where shall I start?". Remember that line from the Cat in the Hat: "...And this mess is so big and so deep and so tall, We can not pick it up. There is no way at all!" That is how our house felt when I was looking around Saturday after Game Night - I'd spent the day at a Baby Shower and then we'd hosted Game Night - six adults and eight kids in the house (yes, including us). Truly...I was overwhelmed and mentally exhausted - it was 11:30 p.m. and I just went to bed - I left it all however it was.

But, just like the story, I wasn't going to leave it that way. The Cat in the Hat comes back and says, "I always pick up all my playthings and so...I will show you another good trick that I know!"

Like the Cat in the Hat, I always pick up all my playthings. It is a good trick that I know. So yesterday, I began. I took charge in the morning by making a terrific breakfast (French Toast made from the one-hour bread), I changed our sheets and got two loads of laundry done. I got the kitchen cleaned and our bedroom cleaned up. I vacuumed the leaves up off the carpet (don't ask) and scooped up all the various debris that a family leaves all over the place. Then I headed downstairs and sat at the computer for two hours doing the kids' syllabus for the week and I did it better than I have for a few weeks. I added links to movies and web pages that would reinforce the lessons, I wrote notes about each topic. I didn't just go through the motions. I took charge.

Can I just say, when I take charge, everything happens the way it is supposed to? Here we are, Monday afternoon and the kids are engaged in their school work. They weren't distracted by a morning appointment at the oral surgeon (poor Valiant). Because I am on task, they are on task. They started bickering and I nipped it in the bud. The chores have been done and order has been reestablished.

Oh, and the song they're singing? Are you ready? They're singing the Taxonomy Oratio to help Buttercup learn the taxonomy for all living things...Oh, and they're also singing the Classification Rap. (Hey, I'm nothing if not thorough!)

So, head over to Nan's to see what everyone else is doing to Make Their Home's Sing today. You'll find inspiration at every turn!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Can you tell my sister thinks my life is thrilling?

This is one of the birthday cards my sister sent me.

Obviously, she's dialed in to the high points of my daily life...

Do you do this when you're bored?

Look at what Buttercup drew while we were watching a movie. Pretty darned cool, isn't it? Imagine what she'll be coming up with when she's actually trying. Did I mention she's 10?
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

It's Friday and Alicia has us all digging through boxes pre-digital photos to remember those times and share them (rather than keeping them in boxes in the hopes that we'll get them into photo albums).This time, I dug through and found pictures (bad pictures, but pictures none-the-less) of a trip I took to NY to introduce Charming to my birth family. Charming was 11 months old and I remember being in a panic trying to figure out what kind of clothes a baby would need in NY and Pennsylvania in January. (Remember, my kids were 4th generation natives to the San Fernando Valley!). I had to buy him "real" shoes. He needed "warm" clothes, but since we'd never need them again, I refused to spend much money on them. I was working for Citicorp at the time and my NY trip was a stop-off before I headed for training in Delaware. Superman was meeting me in Delaware and he was happy to have the opportunity to introduce Charming to his grandmother and some cousins. So, it worked out that I was going to be traveling with an 11-month old for 3 weeks, however, so I needed a bunch of stuff--oh, and Charming was already wearing 2Ts and 3Ts !!!

Anyway, it was important to me to take Charming to see her, even though I'd not met her in person myself until I was 24. Because of my grandmother, I stayed connected to that side of the family and I've always been grateful for her efforts. I know my siblings didn't care for her and maybe if I'd grown up near her I'd think the same things, but she was the only constant in my childhood. (Plus, she made no blood distinctions and sent my little brother birthday cards and Christmas gifts, so I was that much more loyal to her--pretty progressive for a woman born in 1901, don't you think?)

This is a four-generations picture. Even more cool? It is mother-son-mother-son. That is my grandmother, my birth-father, and me with Charming. I noticed when I was scanning it in that behind us is pictures of me as a child and a picture of Charming I'd sent to my grandmother. I remember photocopying it on the art-departments color photocopier at work (the guy who worked in media was super sweet - he died of AIDS - sad thought there...). Charming was her first great-grandchild, but she lived until after Buttercup was born. My two cousins each had two children, so when she passed on, she had 7 great-grandchildren. Pretty cool for her.

This other shot is when my sister Kate got to meet Charming. She was home from college (but not done, I don't think - because she was 21) and I think she was pretty taken with him.

She doesn't know it, but whenever I think of her in my mind, this is how I see her... This wasn't the house she grew up in, though...they'd recently moved to a rental house and I have no real memory of this house...all my memories are linked to her childhood home.

So, there you have it. The pictures aren't the best, but the memories are pretty good. For more trips down memory lane, head over to Alicia's for Friday Photo Flashback to see what everyone else dug up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fertilizer Friday

Okay, so we're supposed to be showing off stuff from our garden or our indoor plants for Fertilizer Friday, but I just couldn't resist showing off the lovely bouquet my sweet SIL and brother sent me for my birthday Tuesday.

This is what it looked like the day it arrived. Isn't it pretty?

But look at what the roses looked like Thursday evening: Aren't they fantastic? I wish you could see them in "real life" They are just so pretty with the red edging out the yellow and the pure white roses slowly opening.

So, this is my entry for Fertilizer Friday. I know I didn't do any of the work myself, but it my flowers sure are gorgeous this week. Head over to Tootsie's to see everyone else's flowers and gardens and the like.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake...doesn't that sound fabulous. I saw this recipe on Tasty Kitchen, the new recipe blog started by Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman. It was posted by Cheryl at Cooking, Dunkin Style. If you haven't found Cheryl's blog, you've missed a great cooking blog and I urge you to head over and take a look.

Anyway, today is Friday Delight on Thursday and I sent Superman off with two Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes. I didn't taste them, but they looked amazing (and the batter was fabulous, too). This recipe is really quite easy and the pumpkin makes it perfect for fall, don't you think?

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
from Cheryl at Cooking, Dunkin Style

· Crust (see Notes below): (I used two graham cracker crusts.)
· 2 cups finely crushed ginger snaps cookies
· 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
· 6 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

· Filling:
· 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
· 1 cup sugar, divided use (I used extra fine sugar)
· 1 tsp vanilla
· 3 large eggs at room temperature
· 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) OR 1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
· 1 tsp ground cinnamon
· 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
· 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (300 degrees F. for a dark springform pan) and position the oven rack in the center of the oven.

For the Crust (see Notes below):
Mix ginger snap crumbs, pecans and butter; press onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch springform pan.

For the Cheesecake Filling:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla until well blended. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing each time just until blended.

Remove 1-1/2 cups of the plain batter and set aside.

To the remaining plain batter, add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Using a large spoon, stir to combine.
Pour 1/2 of pumpkin batter over crust in springform pan. Spoon 1/2 of plain batter over pumpkin layer. Repeat until all batter is used.

Using a long butter knife, gently swirl through all layers of cheesecake batter without disturbing crust to achieve a marbled effect.

Bake for 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Do not overbake. Use a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust.
Cool completely on wire rack.

Remove outer pan and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.

Notes for Optional Pie Crust: If you don't want to bother with a springform pan, purchase or make two small or one 10-inch oversize graham cracker or gingersnap pie crust shells. Skip the crust part of this recipe above and proceed to the fillings. Divide both fillings equally between the small pie crust shells or use same instructions for large crust and swirl. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 40 minutes for the small crusts and 45 to 50 minutes for the large.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today is my 46th Birthday and I think I'm excited...

Seriously...I am now 46 years old. Superman has been worried about me because I've been talking about how I'm closer to 50 than I am to 40. He thinks I'm freaking out about getting older, but that isn't it. I was talking to my sister via Skype this morning (I was opening the present she sent in front of her, it was super fun to do it that way) and I was still struggling to explain my thoughts at this birthday.

"46" isn't a milestone in any way. I don't feel particularly old, either. As I explained to my sister, however, I am recognizing that a season of my life is ending. My youngest child is 10 and there are no more babies coming my way. My oldest child has moved on and is on his way to be a successful adult. While I will always be "mom", the time where that is my "job" is winding down. I see this clearly and yet, I don't know what my life looks like when children aren't my focus. Especially during the past 11 years, my world has gotten smaller (deliberately, mind you) as I focused exclusively on the needs of my growing family.

Now I can see a time when they won't need or want that level attention. When, in fact, it won't be good for anyone if I devote that kind of attention to the minute details of their daily lives. But that leaves a big question mark...what will I do? Who will I become? What will my life look like?

Even as recently as three months ago, I saw us staying in this part of the country for at least 10 more years. Now, however, I'm not so certain. Superman's job situation isn't as stable as we'd thought and employment opportunities aren't terrific in this area. I'm having to revise all my future plans to take into account the possibility that Superman will be looking for a new job far from this area. Plans for the house? On hold. Instead of talking about buying land further out of the city, now I'm wondering if we'll have to pick up and move yet again. All my plans now are focused on paying down debt and giving us maneuverability should the worst happen.

I really didn't see this, but I can't say I'm surprised. Change has been in the air. I've felt it.

So, I turned 46 today and I feel like I'm on the cusp of change. I'm excited and I'm scared. I'm impatient with the not knowing and I'm exhilirated by the unknown. I feel life unfolding in front of me, even as I can't yet see the road.

So, Happy Birthday to Me...this year will be a good one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Glove/Mitten Organization

We're finally getting over whatever bug took over the Nagle5 last week, but I have no MYHSM post, nor do I have a wonderfully creative hand-made gift idea for you. What I do have is a clever idea for glove/mitten organization that I'm sharing with you all.

Moving from a one-season climate like Southern California to a four-season climate like we have here in Eastern Washington has left me scrambling for ways to organize our seasonal clothing. Truly, we need to shift our clothes from spring/summer to fall/winter each year and we have more clothes than we ever had before. One of the things I've struggled with is how to control the gloves and mittens throughout the season. Kids need numerous pairs of gloves/mittens because they get their gloves and mittens wet, which means they can go through three or more pairs per day. (Some in the dryer, some on their hands, etc.) This year, I think I've come up with something that will help us a) keep control of our own belongings and b) eliminate the often heard phrase "I don't know where my gloves are!".

This was a free solution, too, so you can jump right up and do it, too!

All you need is gloves and mittens, a few old skirt hangers, and ten minutes.

Skirt hangers normally have two clips.

Take the post off your first hanger and don't remove the clips. Take the post off your second hanger and remove one clip and immediately slide it onto the post that you've left the clips on. (It just takes a little tension to get the post out without breaking the plastic hanger.)

(Keep the clip squeezed together so the tension in the mechanism doesn't make it sproing apart!). Remove the second clip and slide it onto the post. Do the same thing with the third hanger. Then put the now-6-clip post back into the skirt hanger and, viola, you have a great way to store 6 pairs of gloves and mittens! (You can use fewer clips, too...if you notice, the one pictured is Buttercup's second one and it only has five.)

Pretty cool, isn't it? (Oh, yeah, don't forget to immediately throw away the metal posts that are now empty because your children might think they are weapons. Not that mine would ever, you understand, I'm just saying!)

We had enough skirt hangers hanging around from my used-to-wear-skirts-to-work days that we were able to do four mitten hangers - two for Buttercup, one for Valiant, and one for me.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Food for Thought

"To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

It is Friday Photo Flashback, the time that Alicia at More Than Words asks us to dig through our predigital photos and take a walk down memory lane. Sorry I'm late, but I do have some fun photos today. When you're done looking at mine, go see what everyone else dug is always fun.

My youngest brother and his wife welcomed their first child on October 8. Thumbelina was born a bit early and is tiny, but at almost 5 pounds is doing fine. Isn't she a cutie? (I think she looks like Charming's baby pictures, but I really can't say yet.)

Thinking about them bringing home their new baby, I couldn't help but think about how it felt when I was bringing home new babies. That season of our lives passes so quickly, yet, as we're living it, we can't see it ending. So, hopefully, Thumbelina is keeping her parents on their toes and they are availing themselves of their digital camera every chance they get, because she's truly changing before their eyes and, before they know it, she won't be a baby any more.

In 1991, we had Charming. He was one week old in this picture. Look how small he was compared to Superman's hands. (Who would have guessed this tiny little baby would have become a 6'5" man? I certainly couldn't have imagined it.)

When we had Valiant in 1996, we finally had to admit that Charming wasn't a baby anymore. This picture was taken when Valiant was 5 weeks old and Charming was 5 years old. We were doing the Derby Days 5K in Santa Anita. It was so fun. Look how tiny Valiant was...Charming was a big boy...almost through kindergarten already.

And, three years later, we welcomed Buttercup to our growing family. In this picture, she is three weeks old and sleeping on Superman. (Dad is always the most comfortable bed.)

It had been 8 years since we'd brought Charming home from the hospital. A lot can happen in 8 years, can't it? Charming was in 3rd grade and Valiant was 3 years old.

(Buttercup looksa bit concerned at Valiant's grip, doesn't she?) This picture was taken more than 10 years ago...Charming is a man now and Valiant is already almost as tall as I am. Buttercup doesn't think she's the baby of the family (and won't accept it when we tell her she'll always be the baby of the family.)

So, all I have to say to my brother and his wife? Just don't blink, because before you know it, that baby girl will be all grown up and you'll wonder where the time went.

Fertilizer Friday

It is Fertilizer Friday, but I've got nothing to fertilize. Instead, I thought I'd show you some of the Fall projects we've had going on the past few weeks. Aren't you curious?

The garden is gone. A few nights that dipped into the teens took care of that. Sprinklers are blown, hoses are put away, lawns have been winterized, and perennials have been cut back for the long winter's nap. Frankly, the yard looks barren and it is difficult to get used to after spending 42 years in So Cal where the difference between perennial and annual was never quite clear to me.

Now we're focusing on next year. We've really wanted a greenhouse, but it just wasn't in our debt-reduction budget. Then we saw this post about a $50 Greenhouse and Superman was up to the challenge. Ours ended up costing about $150, but that is including our "milk house heaters" and leaving us plenty of extra 6 mil plastic to cover possible damage during winter. The floor is insulated and separate from the deck (which is partly on dirt). This is our "starter" greenhouse and if we feel like we can make it work, we'll go forward with a more substantial one, but this is the greenhouse that will be wintering our potted plants and housing our seedlings in the spring. I think Superman did a great job. What do you think?

Now this little beauty is what I teased Tootsie about. I had pointed out a smaller version in a neighbor's yard and at Harbor Freight, but Superman felt he could do better for a lot less. Well, since he built this out of scrap wood from a neighbor's old fence and pieces of 2 x 4 he had saved, I'd say he did just that. How much did it cost? $0! Can you believe it? Free (besides his labor, which he gives freely.) And since we had little tree that didn't survive last winter's snows, we had the perfect spot for it. Can't you just picture wave petunias pouring out of a big galvanized steel bucket in the spring?

Superman is just the best, isn't he? He did this without plans. We're letting the wood get seasoned this winter and then we'll decide if we want to stain it or just leave it be...what do you think we should do? This is how it looks in relation to the house:

(See, all my flowers are gone...sniff, sniff.) So, Tootsie, pretty cute, isn't it?

Don't forget to head over to Tootsie's Garden to see what everyone else is doing these days...not everyone is dealing with snow-is-coming-blahs.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Friday Delight (on Thursday)...

Until Superman's work gets back to normal (keep your fingers crossed that it does, please!), I'll be making Friday Delight for Thursdays. (Confused? That means on Wednesday I'll be cooking for Superman to bring goodies to work for the team meeting on Thursdays, instead of cooking on Thursdays for the team meeting on Fridays. Got it? I know, it is confusing...)

Anyway, this week I made these Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins and they turned out fabulously. I must confess that I made these a week or so ago and whined mightily to my friend Melissa about how they were confusing and didn't turn out well. Ooops. I guess if I'd read the instruction carefully, it would have all made sense. I found this recipe at And Then I do the Dishes, who adapted it from Sweet Savory Southern recipe. (Recipe sharing is so cool and I want to be sure to give credit where credit is due.)

These muffins are really a good breakfast muffin, especially if you leave off the chocolate chips. They have a hearty, robust flavor that would go well with a morning cup of coffee or that glass of juice before you head out the door.

Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins
(by And then I do the dishes adapted from Sweet Savory Southern)

Makes 16 Muffins

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I use powdered buttermilk and just follow the directions on the package)
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat flours)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

In a bowl, soak oats in buttermilk for 15 minutes. Add eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla to the oatmeal. Stir well.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into oat mixture just until moistened.

Fill prepared muffin tin three-fourths full. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, if using. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Simple, aren't they? (And they turn out really well when you follow the instructions!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WIP Wednesday... (UPDATED)

You didn't think that just because I am sick that I've been sitting around doing nothing, did you? Good! I've been working on a few things and here are two of the things I've been working on.

Here is my version of Tootsie's candle wreath. I was so impressed with her clever idea that I blogged about it here. I'm happy to report it was just as easy as Tootsie promised. As you can see, my potpourri was bigger, but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. It still needs to dry a little, so the wax paper is a necessity. I think it will be really pretty with a green or white candle. What do you think?

Then, in an effort to use up stuff I have had for a while, I pulled out this pre-printed wreath project for Buttercup. If you look carefully, you can see the date on the fabric says 1991 (!) and I know for a fact I bought it before do the math. Anyway, I spent my time cutting out all the leaves, the wreath itself, the ribbon and the berries. Then I pinned all the leaves and the wreath for Buttercup, who'll be sewing this week. I'm embarrassed how long I've had it, but I'm happy Buttercup is going to finish it.

So, there you have it...a few of the things that we've been working on. What about you? What have you been up to these days.


My sister, the brat, says my picture of the candle wreath isn't very good and doesn't show it as pretty as she's sure it is (nice save there, Kate) , so I thought I'd give you an
other one.

So, what do you think? I still think it is pretty. And the Modge Podge did not do away with the Paperwhite scent. It is all good!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Improving Food Safety? Not Really...

If you might remember this time last year, people were fighting tooth and nail to "Save Handmade", threatened by the passage of a well-intentioned, but poorly executed CPSIA. The grass-roots efforts worked and hand-made goods are still available for your enjoyment.

You may have noticed that I don't jump on a soapbox here. I try really hard not to impose my political views, my societal concerns, any of those things, on you. Occasionally, as was the case with Save Handmade, I feel I must let you know of things that our concerning me. This is one of those times.

This time, however, the threat is to the local farmers, to those people who provide an alternative to grocery stores and give you the opportunity to try something new - doing it the old-fashioned way. The Food Safety Modernization Act (Senate bill S.510) is aimed at industrial food producers and major food importers. Unfortunately, it is written in such as way that it will cripple the Local Farmers and Small Organic Food producers. That means your local Farmer's Market, your CSA, the provider of your grass-fed beef, and non-industrial poultry.

Look, like anyone else, I was appalled by the recall of peanut butter, the recall of spinach, the recall of melamine tainted pet food, toothpaste, and baby formula. As I see it, however, none of these problems were caused by our local farmers. No, these horrific lapses of food safety were the result of poor oversight over the industrial food complex and, therefore, any bill that passes should be targeted at them, not the small farmer selling his goods at our local farmer's market. This bill currently before the Senate seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to eliminate local farmers, our CSAs, our local providers of eggs and dairy - all of is a frontal assault by the industrial food complex aimed directly at those who are providing an alternative.

According to Pete Kennedy, Esq - President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, these are some of the problems with the bill facing the Senate right now:

"Food safety problems lie with the industrial food processors and food imports, not with local producers. FDA should not be given any additional regulatory power over the local food system than what the agency has at present.

S.510 calls for federal regulation of how farmers grow and harvest product. Farmers selling food directly to local markets are inherently transparent and accountable to their customers, and there is no reason to impose these regulations on them.

Based on FDA's track record, it is likely that such rules will also discriminate against diversified sustainable farms that produce animals and crops in complementary systems.

S.510 expands FDA's powers over food processors, regardless of their size, scale, or distribution. FDA oversight of small, local food processors is overreaching and unnecessary.

Small processors selling into local markets do not need federal oversight, unlike the large, industrial, multi-sourced supply chains that are the cause of most foodborne illnesses and food recalls.

S.510 applies a complex Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system to even the smallest local processors, imposing onerous paperwork and record-keeping on these small businesses.

Applying a HACCP system to local foods facilities processing for local markets, as well as farmers making value-added products, could undermine and extinguish these emerging small businesses attempting to bring healthy local foods to American consumers.

In fact, when HAACP was applied to the meat packing industry, it was instrumental in reducing the number of smaller regional and local meat packers, yet failed to increase the number of independent, objective inspectors in giant meat slaughtering and packing facilities.

Bottom line: One size does not fit all when considering food safety bills!

Local foods businesses are not the same as animal factories or mega-farms that sell products into industrial scale national and international markets, and should not be regulated the same way!"

If you're anything like me, this isn't a topic you've spent a lot of time thinking about. If we don't start thinking about it now, however, our rights to determine where we want to source our food will be taken away from us, under the guise of looking out for the common good. I urge you to look into the bill currently in the Senate. I think you'll agree it will not do what we intend to have done.

If you do agree that this bill would not be good for our local farmers, please contact your Senator and urge him/her to vote NO on S.510. If you want to find out who your senator is, just go to If you'd like to read the bill in its entirety, please click here, if you want to read a summary, click here. (Oh, and don't be confused...this bill was in the House of Representatives as H.R. 2749, which has already passed!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

No singing or crafting today...

This week I won't be making my house sing. I won't be sharing craft projects. Honestly, I won't even be trying. Nope, this week I am playing the role of Florence Nightingale aka "Doctor Mom". Yep, you guessed it. My house is an infirmary this week. Buttercup is sick, Valiant is sick, even Superman is sick. I'm doing everything I can to get everyone better. Me? I'm doing everything I can to fight it.

The house is a wreck from the weekend, however, as sickness didn't stop us from racing the against the weather. (The nighttime temperatures dropped into the teens this weekend.) The adults were pruning back the plants that we'll see again in the spring, ripping u the vegetable gardens and turning the soil, rescuing the potted plants by getting them into our new greenhouse (which Superman was racing to finish) and getting "milk house" heaters set up in it. We've still got to get the sprinklers blown (today!), as well as getting the windows sealed up for winter (which will wait until later this week). In between all this, we found ourselves telling the kids things like, "What are you doing outside with/without a jacket/shoes/shorts/flip flops? You are sick! Get back in the house." The kids, in the meantime, felt well enough to challenge all efforts to keep them warm, dry, and calm. Thus, they wore themselves out and are both feeling quite poorly today.

We probably didn't help ourselves by hosting Game Night again on Saturday, but, as always, it was super fun and all the neighborhood kids have colds, so it really seemed pointless to try to separate them after the fact.

So, if I just hum along while the rest of you sing today, I hope you'll understand. Head over to Momstheword, cheer her on as she gets ahead on her cooking, and see what everyone else is doing this week to make their homes sing.

P.S. If you do a Google Search to find a cute picture for "Nurse Mommy" you get the weirdest images! A sexy pregnant nurse?! What is up with that?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Life is Simple

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~Confucius

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sam-I-Am keeps busy...

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Sam likes to keep busy. When he's not busy ghost writing my blog posts, he's practicing his "Dracula" impersonation.

When he's done straightening me out (and when he's happy with his impersonations), then he moves on to Buttercup. Buttercup needs a lot of help to play her online games. ("Watch that mouse, Buttercup...they can be tricky!")

As if the people haven't worn him out completely, he moves on to the dogs. "Stay, Lucy, Stay" you can see, he's got her trained pretty well.

It's all in a day's work and it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The last of the garden crop...

has yielded lots of green tomatoes (they'll ripen in paper bags), a few zucchinis, and one more little pumpkin. By the end of this coming weekend, the plants will be pulled up and the compost will be laid in preparation for winter and next spring's planting season.

In the meantime, I have one more recipe that uses summer's bounty. This Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake is to die for, seriously. I have to tell you, Superman was not happy to hear that he was getting a cake that had zucchini in it. Truly. He thought it was going to be awful and he tried the first piece under duress. (What? You thought he'd willingly eat cake with zucchini in it? Oh, please!) And what about the kids? Yep, you guessed it. They were right there with Superman. So, imagine their surprise when they all LOVED it. Seriously loved it.

So, where did this amazing recipe come from? I found it the same place I found the one-hour bread recipe. Yep, La Fuji Mama came up with another winner. How often do you get to eat your cake and your vegetables, too?

If you've got a little bit of zucchini left, give this recipe a try. I promise you'll be thrilled you did.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake
Sourced from La Fuji Mama who adapted it from
Makes 1 standard size bundt cake

6 Tbsp. cocoa
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini, packed
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I left these out...we just don't like cinnamon with chocolate)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease bundt pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine cocoa, butter, and sugar. Add eggs, oil, grated zucchini, and vanilla; beat well. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. (Remember, I left the cinnamon out.) 3. Place chocolate chips in sifter and toss with a bit of flour (sifting off the excess) (this is to help your chocolate chips from all sinking to the bottom of the cake batter once your cake is in the oven).

4. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.

5. Bake in preheated oven for about 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.

6. Let cool for several minutes, then unmold cake onto cake plate to finish cooling.

See what I mean? This cake is gorgeous. Seriously, what is not to like? I ate it all by itself, but the rest of the family added vanilla ice cream to their servings. Either way, listen to Superman, Valiant, and Buttercup and make this'll be glad you did!