Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food For Thought

"If we all did the things we are capable
of doing, we would literally
astound ourselves."
- Thomas Edison

How many imaginary constraints do we put around our lives?  How many "I can'ts" do we wrap around ourselves that are imagined?  How many opportunities do we let pass us by because we are filled with self-doubt?
Interesting questions, aren't they?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remember these?

I made these tiles a few weeks ago, remember?  They were quick, easy, and gratifying because they turned out well.

I was talking with Gail at My Repurposed Life as I was thinking about how to frame some of them.  (If you don't know her, you should get to know her, she is super handy, super creative, and super resourceful.)  She was worried that I'd do something that my be ill-advised.  (I wouldn't have, but she doesn't know me IRL, so she couldn't have known that.)  I decided making a frame was going to be more work than I wanted to do, so I ended up cutting pieces of wood to size and gluing my tiles on them.   Plus, I had a deadline, since I wanted a bunch of them to be gifts.  This is what I ended up with:

Then I added hangers to the back and put them on the walls. 

I think they turned out pretty cute, don't you?  (Sorry for the crummy photos...I just snapped them in a hurry.  They're hanging up in my home.)

Gail, thanks again for taking the time to answer me.  Don't worry...I'll be back with more questions, but not on this project! 

I don't know which is better...

...hearing my daughter use the word "ironic" or seeing that her observation was dead on!

Buttercup came home from her youth group last night with her Halloween goodies.  She showed me her awesome bracelet and said,  "Want to see something ironic?"  I said, "Um, sure."  "Look, my candy bracelet is strung on dental floss!" 

I had to admit she was right and then went on about my evening with a smile on my face.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It is a good thing...

...that Buttercup doesn't mind "people" reading over her shoulder.

(Photo credit:  Valiant) 
Bean's touch-up (furball red-eye) courtesy of Picnik.

Do You Want to See My New Nightgown?

Yeah, I knew you did.  That tantalizing glimpse of the flannel I gave you yesterday only whetted your interest, didn't it?  Oh, did you notice that the fabric was busy enough that it will hide spots (not that I ever get spots on my clothes...ever).

Well, here it is:

Isn't it pretty?  I just love it.  It is long enough and it is girly enough and it is NOT plaid and it IS flannel, so it will be warm.  (Can you tell I'm tall?...I had to hang it in a doorway so I could get the whole nightgown in the picture.)

I added this eyelet to the sleeves and the hem.

I didn't add the eyelet to the neck because I don't like a bunch of stuff at my neck when I'm sleeping.

 I couldn't find a nightgown pattern that I liked.  They all had busy bodices with buttons and lace and panels (which means seams across your chest).  I did, however, find this Halloween costume.  I ended up using McCall's M2337.
 Look at the black pilgrim dress and the blue prairie dress.  I added the elastic and lace to the sleeves the way the "B" view shows, but I kept the neckline and bottom simple, the way the "A" view illustrates.  Since I didn't add the ruffled band at the bottom of the dress, I went ahead and added eyelet at the very bottom of the gown.  The pattern is super easy to use and easy to assemble, but I didn't follow the instructions.   (I never like the order they want you to put your pattern pieces seems backwards to me.) 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Does Anyone Want Any Patterns?

I have some sewing patterns that we never ended up using and now I know we won't because a) we're not doing dolls or b) Buttercup outgrew the size of the patterns. 

So, do you want any patterns?  I'll send these patterns to you.  Just let me know.  In the event that more than one person wants the same pattern, I'll have the kids draw a name from a hat.  Got it? 

Two patterns for 18" dolls (American Girl dolls).  Aren't they cute?  (Look at the little Chanel-type jacket...too cute.)

Two patterns for Baby Dolls (S-M-L) ranging in size from 12" to 22" (or 30.5 cm to 56 cm).  These are Simplicity Archive patterns that were intending to use for my baby doll...I just loved these, but we never got to them. 

One pattern for a girl's Halloween costume...Simplicity #5372 - size A (2-4,6-8, 10-12). 

Finally, a pattern for Alphabet Pillows...again, a crafty thing we were going to do, but we never did.

All of these are unused and I'll ship them to you at my expense.  I'd just like to see them get used.  So, just let me know if you'd like any of these...

Truly Random

Same days are notable, with all kinds of accomplishments you can point to at the end of the day.  You look down a list and see so many items crossed off and you can clearly see what you've spent your time doing.  Others?  Not so clear.

We've been having a few of those days here.  I've been busy for what seems like days, yet I don't feel that I have much to show for it.  Then again, I thought it would be fun to share a little of what has been going on at our house this past week.

I made yet another batch of this caramel corn...I think I might have a problem.  Discovering that I could have freshly made caramel corn in under 40 minutes has NOT been a good thing for me.

I also made these Pumpkin Oatmeal Scotchie cookies, but the reviews were mixed.  My neighbor and my daughter loved them, but my other neighbors and my sons didn't think they were very good. Me? Honestly, I probably won't make them again.   Read the ingredients and see if they're up your alley.

Oh, I won one million pounds via the Mercedes Benz Sweepstakes...I got an email notifying me.  Haven't gotten around to providing all the information they've requested, but rest assured, I was excited to see that I won yet another sweepstakes.

My friends gifted me with a gift card to Hancock Fabrics, so I'm finally making myself a new nightgown.  Do you like the flannel I picked out?  I'm not much of a plaid girl and baby prints aren't my think, either, so I struggled to find something I'd like, especially since I needed 6 1/2 yards of it!  Anyway, it is just about done...I'll show you the completed project tomorrow (fingers crossed).

Does this happen at your house?  When I opened the refrigerator, I discovered this little baby in my egg bin.  Not sure what to do with her, so for now she's still sleeping there.

Have you seen these Matryoshka Dolls made out of gourds at Gingerbread Snowflakes?  They are amazing. Seriously...I've never seen anything like it outside of a specialty shop.  Pam is so talented. (This is the picture from her website...she made it!!) more thing.  Remember our tiny little kitten, Bean? 

This is what she looks like now.  Same carrier, same cat.  She'll be 6 months old at the end of the month.  She still loves sleeping in the carrier, but, as you can see, she doesn't fit nearly as well.

Told you today would be random...have a great day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Musings - Please Hang Up

Walking through a grocery store recently, my eyes landed on an adorable baby...gurgling and cooing and laughing up at its mother.  I immediately remembered all the trips to the grocery store that I took with my babies..."discussing" our grocery list, the quality of the produce, and making "conversation" during the entire trip.  It was a wonderful time with each of them.  The mother, unfortunately, never once even made eye contact with the baby, let alone responded to her baby.  Why?  She was on her blue tooth and carrying on an animated conversation with someone on the other end.  She was laughing and gesturing and her baby was trying to participate, but to no avail.  The mother was ignoring the baby in favor of her phone conversation.  It was so sad.  How long before the baby stops trying and just sits like a lump in a car seat?

This scene was not unique.  I see it all the time.  I see it when mothers are priding themselves on taking daily walks with their babies only to be on the phone during the entire outing and, again, not interacting with their baby at all.  Um, I don't think you really get kudos for isn't really "quality time".  How are these babies going to be socialized properly?  How are they going to understand the give and take of communication?  The lack parental response to the baby's attempts to communicate with them has got to have a negative effect on these children.  This is when synapses and neurons are making those vital connections in the brain.  It is when attachment is formed and, yet, the baby is being ignored.   It used to be that mothers and babies babbled to each other all day long.  Cooking, cleaning, shopping, visiting other adults and children...verbal communication was a constant give and take, even though the baby wasn't very verbal.   In that way, children learn the give and take of communication, as well as the nuances of unspoken communication.  All this is lost when mothers don't recognize/notice and fail to respond to these emerging communicators.  And we're sacrificing this so we can be on the phone longer?  Seriously? 

Washington has a hands-free law, too, which means people are driving around with blue tooth devices in their ears all the time.  In theory, this is a great thing, right?  Their hands are on the wheels after all.  Unfortunately, their attention is still not on the road.  I've been cut off by people talking on their blue-tooth devices more times than I can even guess.  If you're focused on a phone conversation, you're not focused on the road.  It is just that simple.  Oh, and to the person in the blue sedan who turned into my lane in the parking lot without ever even looking my direction because your phone conversation was oh-so-important:  You're welcome.  I saw you walking to your car when I was walking to my car with my kids.  I heard you talking on the phone as you walked to the car, and noticed that you continued your conversation as you blithely pulled into the traffic lane without turning your head. I told my kids to keep an eye on you because you weren't paying attention to driving and I was correct.  It was fortunate for you that I was paying attention and realized that you weren't, because, in a contest between my big Suburban and your little sedan, there is no doubt who would have won.

Oh, and let's not forget the people who are chatting away on their cell phones as they go through check out lines, go through drive through, and are just walking through the aisles of a store.  Why don't you notice that it is absolutely the height of rudeness to continue speaking on the telephone when someone is serving you?  Do people not realize that the person ringing up their groceries, taking their order, or processing their prescriptions or dry-cleaning are people and, therefore, deserving the courtesy of attention for the 2 minutes they will serve them?

So, this is my question:  What will it take to get all of you to just please hang up?  Seriously.  You're on the phone all the time.  The people in your ear are far more important to you that the people standing (or sitting) in front of you.  The conversation you're having is far more important that the road and the cars you're sharing it with.  What can be so important?  Please hang up the phone.  Interact with the people you're actually with.  Your children will thank you.  The other drivers on the road will thank you.  The people who serve you daily will thank you.  Just think of all that positive energy that will be headed your way.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Food for Thought

"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this:  decide what you want."

-Ben Stein

(Picture: Paper Exploits Blog)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stranger things have happened...

Remember the Fox and the Hound?   They were "the best of friends", remember?

We have our own improbable pair with Lucy and Bean.   These two love to wrestle.

Bean throws herself down, then Lucy lays down, too.

Bean pushes Lucy.

Lucy grabs Bean.  And yet, neither one bothers to get up.

I think they're evenly matched.  I anticipate hours of amusement this winter...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shoot Me - 30 of 52 - Birthday Edition

Yesterday was my 47th birthday.  I know, I know...I don't look a day over 46!

Anyway, my friends took me to lunch at Red Robin and the hapless gentlemen who held the door for us all as we were leaving got roped into snapping one photo.  While he had us all facing into the sun, the fact that we actually got a picture still makes me smile.  (Did I mention he was wearing biker gear and Harley Davidson written across his back?  It was really too funny.)

So, my Shoot Me for this week is a picture that was actually taken cool is that?  These are some really wonderful women who went out of their way to make me feel special on my birthday.  I am truly blessed.  (Oh, and because we're out of school, we didn't have to line up in height order...I don't have to be at the end of the line any more!  Woot!)

Head over to Carin's and join the Shoot Me party.  Just get in the doesn't have to be a special occasion.  It is just your life...real and uncensored.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If you missed 6 Chix in your local newspaper

yesterday, you'll definitely want to check it out here.  I actually laughed aloud when I saw it.  How is that for keeping it real?  Admit it...if your husband doesn't comment to you about your blog (offline counts!), you wonder if he even reads and you're a little bit hurt.  Come on, admit it!

Happy Birthday... me!!  47 years ago this evening, I looked like this...

A lot has changed in 47 years, hasn't it?  Just to give you a few numbers...I went from 20" to 70" and from 6 lbs 8 oz to, well, a lot more than 6 lbs 8 oz!!  My eyes are still brown, though, and I still have all my fingers and all my toes.  Not bad for 47 years of hard wear, right?

I am having lunch with some friends today and celebrating with my kids on Saturday, when Charming can join us.  (That whole "full-time job" thing is really interfering with his social life.)

See you tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Bullying is an issue near and dear to my heart.  Charming was bullied mercilessly when he was younger, making his middle school years nearly unbearable.  Valiant and Buttercup have run into their share of bullies as they live a life that many see as non-conforming.  As parents, we're supposed to tell our children to turn the other cheek, but when that one gets hit, too, the advice seems pretty darned stupid.  We send our children back to school to face their tormentors day in and day out, giving them very little recourse.  (Yes, I homeschool, but most children aren't homeschooled and the effects of this problem are faced by all of us, not just the immediate victims.)

Think about it.  If your place of employment made you feel unworthy, unwelcome, and unwanted, you wouldn't go back there day after day.  You'd find another job and the knowledge that you were looking for a job would help you deal with the situation at hand.  If the abuse really got out of hand, you'd call in law enforcement because your rights as a citizen would be being violated.  Our children don't have those options and we're not holding bullies and their parents accountable for their actions.  This leaves the children who do report bullying in even more precarious situations when they return to school to meet up with their tormentors.  Bullying has to become socially unacceptable.  Bullies are being "mean"...there is no pretty way to describe it.   They are being cruel to those they perceive as somehow weaker than they are.

As bullying seems to get more and more creative and cruel, with heartbreaking consequences, I was pleased to see that a young music artist addressed it directly in her most recent release.  Sometimes hearing someone "famous" talk about it helps the kids far more than hearing Mom and Dad saying the exact same thing.  If the media can possibly be a positive influence, we need to use that.  To that end, I'm sharing this with you.

If you're dealing with this issue at all, you might like this little song by Taylor Swift.  My kids said they liked it because it wasn't too preachy and it felt honest.  For more on this subject, you can also share "Love is Louder" with your kids.  Isn't it interesting how the most creative, the most unique, are the ones that are bullied the most...gee, I wonder why?

Sewing Clothing--Not Quite Yet

Sewing clothing has, so far, eluded me.  I don't think pajama pants count...they're pretty forgiving.  Having said that, I will say that I've spent a lot of time learning about how things go together...seeing the parts of an article of clothing rather than just the item in its entirety. I am a devotee of Wardrobe Refashion and love how so many people can many something amazing from something that seems so not amazing.  I've begun modifying clothing that we have to make it more usable and it is turning out to be easier than I thought.

Here I modified one of Charming's t-shirts for myself...I wanted it to be more suited to the female shape.  I still use the shirt for my work-outs, but it wasn't good enough for "real" wear.  Still, I was inspired.  Last week, I had the opportunity to do something about it, so I grabbed my cutting mat, my marking chalk, and my pins...I even got a volunteer to play "assistant" and I got to work! 


When Superman sent this shirt for Valiant, we quickly discovered a) it was far too big and b) when it shrank, it shrank up in length, leaving us a very large, very square shirt.  I figured I had nothing to lose, so I tackled making it fit.

I forgot to take a picture before I cut off the sleeves, but it was just a standard man's t-shirt.

Firstly, the shirt needed to be narrower, which meant I'd have to take in the sides.  Unfortunately, there were no side seams, it was just a tube.   Using one of Valiant's t-shirts to get a rough size, I figured out where I'd need to make the cut.  Oh, and I noted that the armholes were much too big for Valiant, so I changed those, too.  (See where the armhole curves now?)  (Using the shoulder seams assures your modification is the same on both sides.)

Then I took the sleeves I'd removed and made them shorter and fit them to the new armholes, cutting off the extra fabric (Valiant's arms aren't as big as a man's so the circumference of his sleeves needed to be smaller.)

Once I'd attached the newly fashioned sleeves to the newer armholes, I just lined up all the side seams and sewed the sides closed.

Now look!  Doesn't it fit Valiant well?  I'm getting closer and closer to trying to fashion something from scratch...

I know it might not seem like a such a big deal, but every time I do something like this, I understand more and more about fit.  To me, that is tremendously useful and worthwhile.  What about you?  Have you always known how to sew or have you learned it along the way?  Maybe you don't sew clothing at all?  I think there is a resurgence, but maybe that is because I am looking for like-minded people.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Loss of a Pet

Biscuit, Buttercup's beloved hamster, lived a really long and full hamster life.  Unfortunately, that life came to an end last night.  She came to our family in the spring of 2008, which means she lived roughly two and a half years...she died an old lady hamster.  In her life, she accompanied Buttercup (and our family) on numerous camping trips and two trips across the state of Washington.  We learned the hamsters can get motion-sickness (and she definitely suffered!).  She survived  several assassination attempts (we do have cats, you know) and unscheduled walk-abouts.  She was clever and gentle and Buttercup's beloved playmate (and Superman thought she was pretty special, too)...our family is sad today.

Dear Biscuit,

Rest in Peace...we will miss you...


Buttercup, Valiant, and Mom

Monday Musings - The Decision to Homeschool

The scariest thing I have ever done was NOT picking up and moving 1500 miles from a place where we'd been raised to a place where we knew no one. It wasn't marrying my husband a year-minus-day from the date of our first date. It wasn't having children. No, the scariest thing I've ever done was to decide to undertake homeschooling said children. Yep, that is the truth. Deciding that I was perfectly capable of providing my children with better than adequate early to middle education was the scariest thing I've ever done. When I homeschooled Charming, he was already middle-school-aged. I did it under the auspices of the local school district and I knew he'd be going back to high school. I just went ahead with the curriculum I was told to do. I was the quintessential substitute teacher and it was fine.  (It was more than fine...he's graduated from a four-year university and living on his own at 19!  Oh, and he actually likes his parents.  Obviously, I didn't mess him up too badly.)

Deciding to pull Valiant and Buttercup out of school meant that I'd be starting with younger children - Valiant had just finished 4th grade and Buttercup had just finished 1st grade. I wouldn't just be following along, I would be doing it all. That was and remains daunting. Can I really teach Valiant to write? What about Buttercup? Can I help her embrace her creative side without choking it with her desire for perfection? Obviously, I think the answers to those questions are "yes", but the truth is, I won't know for a few more years. By then, if I've messed up, they will be paying a tremendous price for my faith in myself, won't they?

This is our fifth year of homeschooling. Buttercup is now a sixth grader (by traditional measures) and Valiant is now an ninth grader. Has it been perfect? No, not even close. We've all had to learn new ways of communicating and getting along when things get strained and it hasn't always been easy or successful, but it has been worthwhile. Truthfully, even if they end up with an academic hole or blank, they've done what I'd hoped they'd do: they've embraced learning. They've become curious again. They are willing to dig, to search, and to question. To me, that is what education is all about.

(This post was originally published on the blog I shared with my sister in 2009 as we got to know each other after a lifetime on separate sides of the country...I've updated it for today's post.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Food for Thought

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."
- Ronald E. Osborn

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Caramel Corn (Cracker Jacks)...My New Addiction

You know all about the Divine Mrs. M.  She's the friend that showed us how to make Sun Dills.  She's the friend that lets me get my baby fix by spending time with her now-almost-year-old son.  She's also the friend that got me hooked on home-made Caramel Corn.  Seriously.  "My name is Erin and I have a problem with Caramel Corn."  The most surprising part of this all?  Before I tried Mrs. M's caramel corn, I would have proclaimed for all to hear that I didn't like caramel corn.  I didn't.  Now, however?  I am hooked.

In my extreme kindness, I decided to share my addiction with you all.  Why should I be the only addict?  I don't think I'm your dealer, but I'm definitely your enabler!

Try this caramel corn...if you dare.  Oh, did I mention that it is super easy?  Yeah, I knew you'd like that.

Caramel Corn (Cracker Jacks)
Shared by Divine Mrs. M (from

4 quarts popped corn (roughly 1/2 cup before popping)
1 16 oz container of peanuts (we left these out...we're not nutty)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 teaspoon salt

Set aside:
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 250F.

2.  Put popped popcorn in large bowl and set aside.

3.  Grease large cookie sheet and set aside.

4.  In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly (set time for 2 minutes).

5.  Remove saucepan from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda and vanilla.  The mixture will foam up.  Stir it down.

6.Add the mixture to the bowl of popcorn, mixing and stirring thoroughly with wooden spoon greased with butter.  [When pouring liquid over popcorn be careful...the mixture IS HOT and RETAINS HEAT.] Add peanuts (optional).

7.  When thoroughly mixed, spread the coated popcorn on a greased baking sheet.  Do not overload the baking sheet (bake in multiple batches if necessary).

8.  Bake 15 minutes at 250F; turn over using silicone spatula and bake another 15 minutes.

9.  Allow to cool thoroughly and store in air tight container.

The entire thing takes about 40 minutes from start to finish.  Oh, and clean-up is easy.  (I thought it would be really difficult, but I was pleasantly surprised.)

A new addiction?  Aren't you excited?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Uh oh...

Dear Dad,

Mom found the chainsaw and has gone mad with power. The yard may never be the same.


Valiant and Buttercup
Posted by Picasa

Fertilzer Friday - a cold wind comes...

Friday again?  Already?  Where does the time go?  This time of year, the time seems to speed up.  We're still working in the yard, but already looking ahead to the holidays.  The weatherman says we'll have freezing temperatures for a few nights beginning Saturday and I'm thrilled.  (Terrible, aren't I?)  

We harvested our final two zucchini today and those plants will soon be in the compost pile.  Valiant blew out our sprinklers yesterday and we've removed the dogs Lixit.  No more water outside.  Even though it is Fertilizer Friday, I'm not fertilizing anything!   Quite the contrary, in fact.   I've been pulling up my potted petunias and am bringing the geraniums and gerbera daisies in for the winter.  We're pruning trees and bushes and generally getting the yard ready for "bed".  We're almost there...some more pruning, burying some tulip bulbs and we're done.  Then, finally, we'll be ready to move indoors and I, for one, am ready!

In the meantime, Mother Nature gave us a little "fall color" show in our own backyard....

All the fall colors in one tree/bush...isn't it lovely?  I have been putting off pruning it because I think it is so pretty.  This week, however, this pretty little tree will get a much needed haircut and begin looking like a tree again.

Oh, and here is my "pumpkin tree" update.  It is really hanging from a tree.

Too funny, isn't it?

Our little pumpkin is now 5" in diameter.  With the weather changing this week, I don't suppose it will ripen, but it is just trying so hard that we're hard-pressed to interfere.

Our yard is pretty much done for this year, but it isn't that way in other places.  In places like Southern California, they're finally relaxing a bit as the heat abates and the blooms start to emerge again.  The stress from trying to keep things alive during oppressive temperatures gives way to enjoyment of balmy temperatures and cooler mornings.  When I lived there, fall would bring fresh blooms on my Peter Pans (Lily of the Nile/Agapanthis) and the anticipation of my Amaryllis blooming in time to paint my yard red for Christmas.  My Night Blooming Jasmine would be keeping the yard fragrant and my Impatiens would be happily enjoying the cooler weather.  My Bird of Paradise would be flaunting their feathers and it would feel like gardening season had just begun.  Different climates, different plants. 

Head over to Tootsie's place to take the weekly garden tour.  It is always inspiring and sometimes humbling!  (Did you see those topiaries she featured last week?  They were amazing!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shoot Me! 30 of 52 - New Photographer


Yesterday, while I was sitting at my desk in the "Macaroni & Cheese" room (aka our family room), Valiant gave the "Hey, Mom", call.  I turned to look at him and he snapped this picture.  He decided it was his turn to take my Shoot Me picture.  Again, I think I should hand over Shoot Me to my kids...I like the photo he snapped.

Shoot Me.  Time to get yourself in the picture.  It doesn't matter how you do it, just make sure your family record includes you!  Head over to Carin's place to see her amazing "hockey season" photo.  It is terrific.  Then head to over to see the rest of the gang.  So many people, so many ways to be in the picture.