Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Last year, I shared with you how much Halloween is a source of conflict for me. (You can read about here.)   In a world where childhood obesity is on the rise, where we're learning more and more how sugar negatively affects our bodies, I find it difficult to be a supplier of candy to children.  I don't have conflicts about it being Satan's day or whatever (no disrespect to those of you who do), all my conflicts come from the mass amounts of candy that are piled on top of already candy-holic children.  I just can't do it.  Honestly, I have warm memories of Halloween, both my own childhood recollections and remember my children adorably decked out as Power Rangers, princesses, mermaids, and Star Wars characters.  My house is still decorated for Halloween and I even had a Candy Corn-scented candle burning for this month (which I've completely used was super cool!)  I'm not a Great Pumpkin Grinch, I swear! 

Buttercup was a LadyBug this year.

Still, I admit to a great sense of relief that Buttercup has reached the ripe old age of 12 and really doesn't want to trick-or-treat anymore.  The issue is made so much easier when you don't have your own child chomping at the bit to go door-to-door in search of the next sugar hit.   Each year, she seems to be invited to at least one Halloween party, so she can pretend to be something/someone else for a few hours and my mother's guilt is assuaged...she still has a "fun" childhood.  (Phew!)

Pretty cute, isn't she?

As for giving out candy,  this is the third year we won't be doing it.  Instead, this is the 3rd Annual Celebration of Dress-Up for Halloween.  Yes, once again this year, we will be putting on our finery and heading out to a real restaurant and enjoying a meal together.  In fact, this year our little tradition has grown and will include some friends of ours who decided it was a pretty good idea.

What a difference a year makes!!!

So, stay safe and have fun and enjoy whatever you all are doing.  It's all good, you know?   Oh, and if you do get some candy, I'd really like a Snickers Bar. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seasonal Silhouette Silliness

I know there are tons of very cool projects you can do with your Silhouette machine, but I've also discovered you can have fun of a more seasonal nature.

For example, you can just ignore the spiderwebs.

Watch the cars play on the stairs.

Enjoy Jack-o-Lanterns with no clean-up.

You can even watch mice frolic.

Yes, those more lasting projects are super cool, but some seasonal fun is pretty cool, too.

The best part?  I don't have to figure out how to store them away for next year...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do You Ever Think About Cars?

It occurred to me the other day, how much cars take me to the person I associated them with.  Much like old songs can send me back to a different time in my life, seeing certain cars immediately brings certain people to mind.  Maybe it is a Southern California thing, but cars really take me  back.

This is Chevy Berretta...Superman drove one when I first started dating him.  He hated that car, but I loved it.   I called it the Batmobile. We drove it for years and years and it had the best air conditioning of any car I've ever driven.  I wonder if he still hates it?

When I see anyone drive a big blue Ford Excursion around town, I think of "Heather, Heather, Heather" and french fries, early dismissal afternoons with all the kids and the way her phone used to pocket dial me all the time and hearing her drive through order with her mom and the kids at Taco Bell. I haven't seen Heather in more than six years as she and her family picked up and moved to Indiana right before we headed to the Pacific Northwest.  Still, one glimpse of one of these cars takes me back to a time of toddlers.

 (The interesting thing?  Angelica had one of these, too, but seeing one doesn't bring her to mind.)

When I see one of these little minis, I think of Heather's mom, who was so excited to get one of these...

She loved that car...but I heard she doesn't have it anymore.  Still, she'll always be a Mini-Cooper girl to me.

When I see a forest green Ford Windstar, I think of my friend Karen.  This car turned out to be such a blessing for her, I always associate these with her.  Truly, though, I should associate it with Superman's sister, because Karen's car used to belong to the Steel Magnolia.

But for Steel Magnolia, I think of her whenever I see a silver Toyota Highlander.  I remember all kinds of funny things about her getting this percent financing, how excited she was after being a mini-van mom for so many years.  It just suited her.

When I see one of these on the road, I think of Mr. R.  With Mr. R. working in North Dakota, the trucks I see on the road aren't him, but still, I think, "Oh, there he goes off to work."  He loves that truck...I think that for him it represents his family coming out of a difficult time and being on the other side.

And lastly, when I see one of these, which I very rarely do, I think of a younger Superman.  This Camaro Z28 was his car before he had me and when we were dating, he would drive by to "visit" it at Costco,(where the young man who bought it from him worked) just to make sure it was being cared for. (I am sure I actually have an incorrect wrong picture, but this is as close as I could come.)  The funniest thing? I never actually saw Superman with this car, I just know how much he loved it and that love always comes to mind when I see one of these.

Cars are funny, aren't they?  Or maybe it is just people who are funny...

Updated Pillars - A couple coats of spray paints gives cupboard dwellers new life!

Years ago, I liked the sleek look of brushed nickel/silver.   I loved these pillars.  Since then, however, my tastes have changed and these candlesticks have been relegated to the cupboard.  Still, I liked the shape of them and they came to mind when I was looking for a way to update my fall mantle.

I took advantage of the unseasonably nice weather we've been having and headed outside with my candlesticks, a flattened box, my bench cookies, and two cans of spray paint.

The bench cookies let me get the candlesticks up above the cardboard to get a nice coat of paint all the way to the bottom of the candlesticks.

The first coat was black.

Then I sprayed on a light coat of metallic brown.

 Ta Da!  Updated candlesticks that look fabulous with my Fall pillar candles.

Now, I just need to wait until Halloween stuff gets put away and my beautiful candlesticks and be part of my Fall mantle.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Food for Thought

This made me cry for oh so many different reasons...

How powerful a concept it is:  If you don't quit, you don't fail.  Think about it.  Roll it around in there.  Pretty profound, isn't it?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Paleo Pie Crust

One of the struggles I've had since giving up wheat and other grains is how I can have celebrations like birthdays, holidays, parties, and other random occasions.  Like it or not, dessert is part of these things and, if I do say so myself, I was really, really good at dessert.

Still, I feel so much better since I gave up grains, especially wheat, that I'm trying very hard to stay away from them entirely.   I was super excited to get my copy of Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield.  Everything I'd heard said there would be some hints to help me solve my conundrum and what I'd heard was correct.

Tried the Nutty Pie Crust (page 114!) last week and, while it wasn't a complete success, I was pleased enough to keep it on my list.  It was really easy and quite tasty.

Frankly, the pie crust was quite flavorful, but not flakey like a flour crust.  More like a graham cracker crust.  Unfortunately, the crust didn't hold up to a wet pie, like the apple pie I chose to make (had apples from our tree that had to be used).  Also, it didn't lend itself to a top crust, so I had to come up with a crumble topping on the fly.  Still, the flavor was fantastic and this pie crust would work really well with a custardy pie, like a pumpkin pie or a cheesecake.  If you're at all interested in something like this, I highly recommend this recipe.  It was definitely worth the effort.

If you want to know more, head over to Paleo Comfort Foods and check out some of the recipes.  You'll be amazed at what you can make.

I can hardly wait to try these Morning Glory Muffins!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do You Want To See My $20 Table?

Bought this table for $20 last February.  It was a Craig's List find.  When we went to pick it up it was in pieces and had no hardware.  Once I got it assembled (without hardware), I realized that it was way too short.  For what it is worth, it turns out that a standard table is 30" tall and my little bargain was topping out at 28".  So, it lived in the garage waiting for me to deal with it for 8 months.

In the meantime, last spring I took a woodshop class at a local high school so I could learn how to properly use all of Superman's cool garage toys.  (Made a folding Adirondack is super cool.)  I really enjoyed the class and the instructor allowed me to sign Valiant up this fall.  While he's been busy learning to use the tools and making his own Adirondack chair, I brought my table to the experts for a little guidance.  One 'lift kit' later, I have a table that is almost counter height.  (Hearing them tell me I needed to make a "lift kit" immediately made me thing of "Pimp My Ride" and, ever since, I've been thinking that I was pimping my table.  Weird, I know.)  Anyway, the lift kit was made of scrap wood and a few of my hours, so the newly lifted table is still a $20 steal. 

I didn't even have to refinish the just needed some orange oil and elbow grease.  It worked out so beautifully...I finally became one of those people who found something fabulous on Craig's List.

Don't you love it?   The table ended up being 33" inches tall, which might be too tall for a lot of you, but actually worked out to be terrific for us.   (Oh, and the chairs are from it is NOT a $20 dining room.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today is my birthday!

I can't believe it...I am 48 years old already.  I remember when I was a little girl, thinking that I'd be too old to appreciate anything when the new millenium came.  I was 37 when the calendar flipped over to 2000 and I was definitely not too old to appreciate anything...

Fast forward 11 years and I still feel young.  Vibrant.  Joyful.  Downright happy.  My life is so wonderful (which is not the same as there such a thing?).  I just feel so fortunate to have been blessed with all that I have been given.  It is humbling, how fortunate I am...surrounded by love and laughter to insulate me from the trials and tribulations that touch all of our lives.

So, Happy Birthday to Me...I am a lucky woman!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Labeling Everything

tr.v. la·beled or la·belled, la·bel·ing or la·bel·ling, la·bels
1. To attach a label to.
2. To identify or designate with a label; describe or classify

I'm thinking that maybe I'm having a little too much fun with my Silhouette machine.  The real question:  How much is too much?

I've used it in the kitchen.

I've used it in the little dining room.

I've used it in the family room for sewing stuff,

for office supplies,

and for old photographs.

Oh, and let's not forget my bathroom.

But now I have to ask:  Can you have too much labeling?  Is simplicity and clarity a bad thing?

A place for everything and everything in its place? much is too much?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Too funny!

I bought a new painter's tarp because I want to make some pillows and an ottoman cover.  While I was sewing, the unused portion was on the floor.  (I know, I know.  I should have picked it up and immediately folded it...but I didn't.)

The tarp was quickly claimed and became the source of quite a few minutes of entertainment for the kids and me.

Lucy becomes fascinated by the tarp.

"What is it?"

It stopped moving, but she's not letting it out of her sight.  Getting closer didn't help.

 Maybe a different perspective will help.  She came around to the other side and waited.

 And waited...and waited...and harumphed the way dogs will.

The wait was finally rewarded!  At last...movement begins again.

"Ninja, come out!  I got you fair and square!"

Lucy's persistence pays off and Ninja finally comes out to play.  Oh, I scooped the tarp up and folded it neatly.  That will teach me to leave things on the floor, even "for a minute".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coolest Thing Ever!

So, this might not be a big deal to you, but figuring out what to do with our bikes as the weather turns is a big deal to me.  We have four bikes to accomodate and I have some constraints to how I want to store them:  I want them out of the way, but accessible (because we don't always have snow on the ground).  We don't have rafters, so we can't use a pulley system to get them up out of the way.  We do have a shed in the corner of the backyard, but getting them in and out of there is a pain in the rear.  So, imagine my surprise when I solved my dilemma for $34 spent at Harbor Freight!  (I had a coupon...they're normally $47.99.)

Let me introduce you to our Bike Tree.  It is holding all four of our bikes (bikes for tall people take up a lot of room!) and is easy to maneuver.  It can be rolled out of the workshop area of our garage whenever I want to use it as a workshop and quickly rolled back in when I'm done.

It took me half an hour to assemble it and then it was ready to go.  Had one of the kids hold the tree steady while I got the first bike on the tree and after that, it was easy to get the rest of them up there.  Notice that the seats are on alternating sides of each other...that makes the bike tree stay balanced.  The best part?  The footprint of the bike tree is 30" square.  Yes, our bikes stick out more than that, but not enough to make it be a problem and smaller bikes wouldn't extend past the base of the tree.

 Come on!  Admit it.  This is pretty darned cool!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don’t Do CrossFit if…

First, my disclaimer:  I think everyone should do CrossFit.  My first week at our CrossFit gym, I met a woman was almost ten years older than I and who'd had two knee replacements and a hip replacement and she kicked my butt.  CrossFit is not only for those already in shape.

Still, the kids and I were having fun coming up with "reasons" people might say they shouldn't do CrossFit, so we decided to share them with you.

You know David Letterman's Top Ten Lists? I thought it would be fun to use the same idea to tell you why you shouldn't do Crossfit. (Not that I believe any of them, but they all sound good, right?)

Top Ten Reasons NOT To Do CrossFit

10.  Like me, you're old enough to be pre-Title IX*. You didn't do sports in school. CrossFit looks like something "boys" do.
Ramp up?  I was struggling with this our second week at CrossFit!
9. You like your old gym. You and your friends have all been going together for years. Your body hasn't improved, but, still, you like your old gym.

8.  You don't want sore muscles, callouses, or the occasional bruise.  Why work that hard?

Man-makers are fun, right, Charming?
 7.   You like being anonymous at your gym.  You don't want people noticing you and you certainly don't want the owner paying attention to you!

6. You are afraid of heights…rope climbs? Too high!

She's how high off the ground?
5. You get head rush if you turn upside down. Hand stands? Not happening.

Stepping out of your comfort zone isn't always easy!
4. You like losing mobility and strength. Isn't that why you got married? So your husband could lift heavy things and open jars for you?

3. You don't want to get dirty. Pushing a tire around will make your hands all dirty.

Oh, yeah, tires are dirty!
2. You sleep just fine…you don't want to have more energy and better sleep. What would you do with more energy? Sheesh.

…and the Number 1 reason NOT to join a Crossfit gym?

  1. You don't want to look better naked. That is what clothes are for, right?

*Pre-Title IX means before there was mandated funding for Girls' sports in schools.  You can read all about it here.