Thursday, November 12, 2009

Moving Day

I've decided to move my blog to WordPress simply because it seems easier for me to use and I like the ability to layer pages and other geeky stuff.

Lots of roundy letters in that, huh?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This Christmas I Promise...

1. To take nature walks and enjoy the Winter season.

2. To create something every day.

3. To affirm something positive and wait patiently for the world around me to acknowledge it.

4. To sing.

5. To let my friends know they are important to me all year long but I especially cherish them at the holidays.

6. Celebrate Christmas like a child.

7. Hide gifts for people that would have never expected them from me and not tell them who they came from.

8. Carry an extra child's coat and hat to give away when I see a mother with a child who may not have one.

9. Say "Merry Christmas" to people and really mean it.

10. Hug people often.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A taste of my busyness

It's a Little Lamb sweater (pattern by Leisure Arts from the book Precious Layettes). The checkerboard variations are my own. The buttons are also checkerboard. You now, I'm not even fond of checkerboards. Hmmm...

More pics on the way. I've been very busy but taking most of my time is this damned sweater by Debbie Bliss called "Ribbed Sweater".

I've just decided that I hate knitting flat paneled items so I'm converting the majority of patterns I'm working on to working in the round.

Next item on the needles? A Wallaby Sweater. It's so cute! And fast! And easy!

Here's someone else's :

Toasty! I hope mine looks as nice as hers!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

I can't believe it's already the end of August and I haven't written anything all summer!

Well, maybe that's a good thing. We've been busy and enjoying the summer.

From Katy's Worship Dance Camp to the boys' sailing camp at ODU... it's been action packed.

So... what's new on the craft scene?

I've finished three sweaters and am working on a 4th. Two are to donate. The other two are for Connor. I've also crocheted a guinea pig. Too cute.

Anyway, I've knit a Little Lamb sweater (pattern by Leisure Arts Precious Layettes), a 5 hour baby sweater (which is SUCH a lie. It ALWAYS takes longer than 5 hours ), and a guernsey. The guernsey was my first experiment in changing sizes (since this was for a 3 year old and it only goes to 24 months). I also knit it in wool.

I'd post pictures but my camera cord has gone into hiding. As soon as it comes back, I'll post pictures of the knitting creations!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Kinder, Gentler New York

Hats off to you, Mr. Bloomberg!

Five years ago I went to New York. It was a depressing and aggravating trip. Typical rudeness, filthy, bums everywhere, and to top it off, we got stuck in the middle of the Puerto Rican Day parade (you may remember this on the news where women were being sexually assaulted in the middle of the parade.)

Street preachers yelled at passersby as they openly smoked pot, "You better change your ways before you blaze that haze!" My children can still recite that one. Sigh.

This last weekend was completely different. We stayed in Long Island and took the subway into Manhattan. I was apprehensive. My last subway trip was less than comforting. Addicts standing up to ask for money. Although, I have to admit that the one man who stood up and said, "I'm not going to lie to you. I need money for a drink." got five bucks from me. I felt the same way after being on the subway for just 10 minutes.

This time, though, the subways were clean and devoid of panhandlers. A few stops had musicians playing for their supper. Saxophones playing soft jazz in the subway almost made it feel like a 1940 train ride. I looked around for Bogart.

The city was different too. Friendly New Yorkers saying hi and holding the door open for me. The kindness infected the subway system too where strangers were literally arguing over offering a seat to my children and me.

This infection seemed to carry into Central Park where street musicians asked my son and husband to play with them... and later, running into that same musician at the Staten Island Ferry terminal, the infection actually caused him to give us a free CD.

Things got really weird when the waiter at Carnegie Deli said he wasn't charging us for "sharing".

I started wondering if pod people had taken over. Even the taxi drivers were nice. SO nice in fact, that we DROVE in Manhattan.

With that said, I was glad to be home. New York, in all its splendor, is just too much input for me. Central Park was a needed refuge and I found myself mentally shutting down after being exposed to so much sound, lights, signs, smells (one thing that does need improvement, Mr. Bloomberg - the urine smell from the dogs and the homeless), and touches (people bumping into me.)

I needed the solace of home where I could control the input.

Even so, New York earned its title of "The City So Nice, They Named It Twice" this weekend.

We had a blast.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Has Sprung


It's true what people say about me. I'm a Jill of All Trades but I'm master of quite a few. It's very rare that I don't succeed at something I set my mind to. That's not conceit. That's just how it happens for me. Positive thinking, timing, the Divine... all of them play a role.

Yes, I can conquer most tasks... most tasks, that is, except for gardening.

Where gardening is concerned, I am a total and complete failure. A black thumb. The aphid on the rose of life. Simply put, I suck at gardening.

This year will be different, though! I have my seedlings ready to go. Every seed I bought said, "Hard even for Shell to kill." so I bought them. Several said, "Even when people like Shell forget to water me, I will grow." I was sold!

I love to see people's gardens. I love to watch them sprout from seeds into hardy plants that can actually sustain people. How amazing is that? How God-Like is it to "create" life? I can't imagine how one couldn't feel close to their Creator while gardening.

It was an envy I experienced for years. My neighbor brings me tomatoes, squash, even pears all with that sympathetic, "I'm sorry you can't grow anything and how pitiful is it that when WWIII happens, you'll have to eat other people." look.

But not this year.LOOK! CUKES and PEAS!!!

This year the children are involved! I can't fail if I have a TEAM, right? Right? RIGHT?

We started with newspaper planters that I found on Instructables

This was so easy that all the children helped out - even Connor who found great delight in filling the pots with dirt.

My hostas and wisteria - the only two things I can grow because I don't
have to do anything. :o)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Create Your Path

Things at my "normal job" are slow. Very slow. Policy changes are making it difficult to earn a living. My once filled classes are down to nothing and nothing equates to no pay.

So what do you do when life hands you lemons? Well, since I love lemons, I'm more likely than not to make a lemon cheesecake or lemon meringue pie.

When I'm full, I create my own path.

And so I did. I called a local establishment and asked them about teaching a class in flower making (out of icing) there. I was approached about this idea a couple of years ago but now it was time to revisit this idea. I was met with enthusiasm and excitement.

I was in shock.

Instead of naysaying my idea in my mind before I even called or filling myself with doubt, I just *did* it.

My challenge to all of you today is don't think about what you want. Just get it. Don't hesitate or overthink the situation. Don't play out scenarios in your mind of what will happen when "they say no" or "they can't help me". Instead, talk as if it's already yours.... it's already done.

I never thought it would actually work but hey, we're having lemonade for lunch.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Every Story Under the Sun

I have to make a full disclosure here - my family includes law enforcement.

With that said, I need to express my feelings about the Moat's incident.

I honestly cannot fault the officer and for the life of me, cannot understand why society at large is out for this officer's blood.

Let's really take this to the root of the issue. An NFL (National Felon's League) player was demanding preferential treatment for breaking the law.

Here's the fortunate thing - no one was killed when he ran a red light. No one in Moat's car - no innocent bystander because of his reckless and illegal behavior.

He deserved to be pulled over and cited just like anyone else that breaks the law.

Let's face it, people run red lights all of the time. I see the aftermath every day from someone's accident because their "life" was so much more important than someone else's. These offenders are often armed with a quiver full of excuses. "My wife's in labor." "I didn't have time to stop." and the ever popular "I have diarrhea." People lie ALL OF THE TIME to get out of tickets. It's just what our society does. I'm sure this officer has heard every excuse in the book and then some. Is it any wonder then, because we are a less than honest society, that he doubted the story?

A competent officer (and I believe this officer to be) investigates a story and moreover, investigates the person he has detained - that includes a warrant check and VIN check. If this innocent traffic stop had yielded a child molester just because he ran a red light, we'd have been singing this officer's praises! Many violent offenders, drug lords, etc. are caught on simple traffic violations. That's a fact, people.

I also find the hospital to be partially at fault in all of this. Encouraging a "speedy" trip to the hospital for final good-byes isn't the brightest move to make... unless they're hoping for more business.

While I sympathize with and offer my condolences to the family, it doesn't make what Moat's did any less illegal and potentially DEADLY.

Officer Powell should rest assured that many people support him and his decisions to follow protocol. He had no way of knowing if the situation was made-up or potentially volatile. I am sickened that he was made to apologize but I admire him for doing so.

The media has repeatedly found a way to vilify police officers who risk their lives to protect complete strangers every day.

This is one citizen who is sick of it. I challenge any of you who are critical of the police force to join and change it - of course, that would mean you'd be willing to take a bullet for me and every other stranger on the street.

It's easier to curse the darkness than to light a candle though.

... yeah, I didn't think you'd go for it either.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let them eat cake!

Thanks to Lydia Netzer, writer extraordinaire, there's an article about my cake classes on

Lydia is doing cover stories about working homeschooling mothers (and fathers) and how they manage to work and homeschool at the same time.

I have to say, I love teaching my cake decorating classes at Michael's. It's the "Mommy Time" I need most nights and my students and I always seem to bond immediately.

At the risk of shamelessly plugging myself... if you've always wanted to learn to how to decorate cakes, it's so much fun and it's so easy. Those of you that know me personally, know that I love to make people laugh and this class is no exception.

While I always tease about starting the first night of class with icing all over my face just to see what the new students say, rest assured that we have fun in a professional and educational setting. We just giggle a lot while we do it.

In this economy, learning this one little skill is invaluable. You'll never pay $35 or $40 (and up) for a sheet cake again. And almost all of my students go on to make cakes for other people so it's a great side income!

What's more, it's so easy a child could do it which is a good thing because I teach classes for children too!

At any rate, it's a nice night out and chocolate... what more could you want!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

To everything, there is a season...

When I was very little, my mother and her father had a falling out. I never really knew my grandfather because of that. A few years ago, my mother and her father reconciled and the family was technically united but the strain of not being part of his life for almost 20 years took a toll on how the relationship should have been.

Granddad is a wonderful man. Very funny. Very handsome. His looks are similar to Lorne Green... so much so that his boat was named "The Ponderosa". Master of the martini, tells a joke with a twinkle in his eye. An all around good guy.

Two years ago he and my step-grandmother (affectionately known as "Granny Good Witch") moved to West Palm, Florida.

Try as I might, I just don't feel the familial connection with them that I should. It doesn't mean I don't love or care about them. It's just that without the routine of talking to them, we never really reconnected.

A few nights ago, my mother told me that my step-grandmother let her know that my grandfather (all 6' 3" of him) was now bedridden with Alzheimer's that was progressively getting worse. His mother had the same thing.

It is not lost on me that this is hereditary and that I should be doing things NOW to prevent being part of that chain. I already forbid drinks in cans (aluminum has been shown to cause Alzheimer's.) I do word puzzles and keep my mind active to help keep it stimulated. Still, it's in the back of my mind how cruel this disease is.

Today, my mother told me that his family said they'd be surprised if he lasted 24 hours. Such a quick strike.

I'm most concerned about my mother and what role guilt may play in his death for that long absence they shared.

When I asked about a funeral, my mother told me that he was donating his body to science. I was surprised because I have made arrangements for this for myself.

Hopefully, he can shed some light on this terrible disease.

I wonder if my Nana will be in Heaven waiting for him... complaining about that "damned boat."

Monday, March 2, 2009


I taught my son how to take pictures of snowflakes today.

Wanna' know how?

Actually, it's much easier than you think.

First, you'll need a dark fabric. Black works the best but any dark color will do.

Next, put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. If you start with cold fabric, it makes it easier for the snowflakes to land and not melt right away.

Even if you don't want to take pictures, this is a great way to study and admire them.

You'll need to be a good 3 feet from the snowflakes unless you have a macro lens.

Remember, use your zoom. From there, you can use a photo program like Adobe Photoshop to enlarge it.

These are some examples of what you get:

It looks like jewelry, doesn't it? Gorgeous! No wonder I love them so!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Socks, Unity, Retro Soda, and Recycled Greenhouses

As you can tell by my title, I've got a touch of Shiny Object Syndrome this week.

Lots of things going on but we'll start with socks.

I like sock knitting. It's probably my favorite thing to knit but I have a confession to all the yarn snobs out there, I've only recently knitted with sock yarn. No, it's true. I've been using worsted weight because it's fast and I can whip them out in two days time.

Earlier this week, I decided to break out the size one needles (which are only slightly smaller in diameter than a toothpick for those of you that don't knit) and the sock yarn which is well, thin and went at it. I started easy, though. Toddler socks.

I love making things for Connor. He's just the most appreciative little boy in the world. If you tell him, "I like your socks!" He says, "Meshu! Mommy made it!" (Meshu is toddlerese for "Thank you.")

Socks... yes... where was I? Two pairs of socks for Connor out of the way.

Next on the needles? I need to finish these tweed socks for Alan. They've been a UFO in my bag for over a year. Worsted weight, though. It should be easy.

That brings me to my newest knitting buddy - Kerri. Kerri's son and my son play in our church band. It's a groovy band. Her son (13, I think) plays AWESOME (like a hot dog) drums! This kid ROCKS! It's fair to say he KICKS ASS on the drums. Beside him on lead guitar is my son, Jake. It's been funny to hear parents tell me, "Wow, if I was a 13 year old girl." My son's a heart throb? Seriously? Him and the drummer may want to think about this band thing. :o) Enter, the girl singers. AMAZING vocals. 11, 15, and 19. BEAUTIFUL girls. Pretty is as pretty does. Wonderful family! Then there's Alan (yes, hubby) on bass. He's reliving his teenagehood. :0D On piano - John... another grown up and next to John on acoustic guitar? That's Canda. She's a joy to listen to and watch. You can just see that the music moves her.

Kerri has no guilt in knitting in church. I, on the other hand, am still trying to shed my great-grandmother's adage, "For every stitch you do on Sunday, you take out 9 in HELL!" Really, that lost it's scariness to me years ago. I'm queen of frogging it.

So... Unity Church. Wonderful place - concentrates on the positive message of Christ. I really like it there. "The Band" plays upbeat Christian music but a lot of pop music that's appropriate to the message. Today was "Love Train". Yes, the funky 1970 song featured on many an episode of Soul Train. I felt it my duty to buy fuzzy hats for everyone to wear and wild sunglasses. I mean, if you're gonna' funk, you gotta' funk it up big.

The choir (that sings more traditional songs ) was in full form today too from what I hear.

Unfortunately, I wasn't there to see it today. Connor had a 102 temp and was throwing up. That brings me to Coke. (See how it all relates? No red car here, my friends!)

Coke is something that's a Southern staple when you're sick. "You need some coCOla?" Something about the syrup being settling to the stomach. Now remember, we don't do HFCS so it's not something I'm happy about when it's the only thing to settle one's stomach. Never fear, though. If my thoughts are correct that the government is indeed monitoring my activity (that's a joke... I think... ) Pepsi got wind of my anti-HFCS stance and now has "Pepsi Throwback" - a soda with pure cane sugar instead of HFCS! YAY! Hopefully, it's not so sickening sweet.

Sweet... peas... peas... beans... beans... garden and now we're up to recycled greenhouses! This is how my mind works, people... you gotta' keep up!

Mother Earth News' newsletter came to my e-mail box today and in it an idea for turning plastic containers (that hold things like fruit or salads from salad bars) into little greenhouses! How cool! Not having one, I realized I had two rotisserie chickens in plastic containers that would be PERFECT for starting some lettuce. Yay!

Tomorrow, we'll be making newspaper planters for beans and little beds for lettuce. I've gotta' do SOMETHING to get out of this Winter funk. 35 and sleet right now, my friends. 65 on Friday. It's more than my brain can take.

If I don't start seeing some new growth soon, I'm going to go crazy. Not that I have far to travel. :o)

I'll post pictures of our progress - rest assured.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

K-Mart/Sears Rent A Cop Disaster

Where to start?

Valentine's Day and my thoughts were of the great sushi dinner my husband was making, the brownies we'd be gobbling later, the chocolate bliss...

Not so fast.

I needed to grab something from the store so I went up to K-Mart (which also has a grocery store in it) on Military Highway in Norfolk, VA.

To start, this K-Mart is always a hassle. Long lines because out of 16 registers, usually only 3 are in service. It is not an exaggeration to say that you cannot just get a jug of milk and get out of there in less than 25 minutes. Tonight was no exception. Tayeda (the cashier) was on a personal phone call about where to find something in the house (next to the door to the laundry room we finally realized). She puts the caller on hold only long enough to bark the amount due and go back to her phone call.

No worries. I have sushi at home! Chocolate, even! No amount of teen angst is going to keep my from my nice dinner.

My eldest son, Jake, and I cheerfully discuss chocolate and its benefits. We discuss Joseph Schmidt truffles. We leave the store.

Normally, this is a feat in itself. Apparently K-Mart/Sears hasn't gotten the memo that most thefts are done by the employees. Actually, the MAJORITY are. Leaving K-Mart requires your receipt and the K-Mart employee on duty to check out your groceries and compare it to the list. I've often wanted to buy $300 worth of condoms with a few bottles of Boone's Farm thrown in just to see the reaction. The humiliation this causes as they prove I'm not a thief is more than my Libertarian stomach can handle.

But I digress.

Cheerfully, Jake and I walk to the car. Hop in. Start the car... nothing but clicks. UGH! This has been going on for a few weeks now - off and on. First we were told it was the battery. That checked out. Then, it was "the cold." I'm guessing starter solenoid but I'm just a girl. What do *I* know? (she asks sarcastically)

Valentine's Day is now starting to upset me greatly.

I try the ignition a few more times. Lights. Radio. Everything is working - but the starter.

click click click click click click click - like a machine gun with a silencer.

I lift the hood because we've all been taught that's the sign for, "My car won't start and I need someone with sense and compassion to help me out."

I'm not amused. People walk by. I can hear a few of them say things like, "Damn, her car won't start." It's all I can do not to yell out the window, "Really? Ya' THINK?" Because about 40 people walk by and no one offers to help.

Click click click a few more times. It starts to turn over but then reverts to that clicking noise again.

At this point, I tell Jake, "Don't worry. The security guard will drive by and see us and help." Jake wants to eat too.

Well, I'm half right. The security guard drives by not once... but THREE times but he doesn't stop.

Okay, hood's up. He doesn't even stop.

Thankfully, a good Samaritan does. We can't get it started. I thank him and give him a box of Girl Scout cookies (that I have now bought for him) for being the only person to stop and help.

But wait! The security guard is just a few yards away! He has to see what's going on. The Good Samaritan is in the middle of the road. That has to at least have gotten his attention.

Nope. The Samaritan makes sure I have someone on the way before he'll leave. I assure him AAA is on the way (and they were but it's Valentine's Day and the wait is at one hour.) I thank him again and wish him good night.

I try a few more times to see if it miraculously wants to start because of the Divine Power of the Goddess Venus and her influence over this day... nope. Screw her.

By now I'm angry. I turn to Jake and shake my head.

Then, the fact that we're in the 21st century hits me. I have a video camera!

At this point, the security guard has parked right across from me. I'm sure he's now going to get out and help but as you'll see in the video, he doesn't.

I sit in the car with my son with no heat for almost 45 minutes. Shift change with the security guards and the new security guard gets ready to get into the parked car and looks over at me. I'm so jaded at this point, I'm sure he won't come over to me. I start wondering if maybe they're not ALLOWED to help people like this. Maybe their only job is to keep people out of the fire lane.

But just then, Mr. Davis (the new security guard on duty) comes over to me and asks, "Are you alright Ma'am? Do you need any help?" Faith in humanity restored.

I tell Mr. Davis about his predecessor's lack of compassion and my shock that he drove by me 3 times AND looked at me as he could hear me try to start the car but not be able to and then WALK AWAY.

Mr. Davis remained professional. (God Bless him!) He apologized for my troubles, laughed at my sarcastic comments in a good-humored way, and got his own car to help jump mine. (I know many companies won't let the security guards use the "company car" to do this.) As we worked together, I noticed he was missing part of his right arm. A further look at his car showed me he was also a military man. Iraqi War wound? Is he doing this piddly job because Uncle Sam isn't paying him enough to stay alive? I am so thankful for this man on so many levels that I lose focus on what I'm supposed to be doing.

Mr. Davis managed to get my car started. In my not so humble opinion, this man should be recognized for picking up the slack of his co-worker who couldn't bother to see if I was okay or whether or not I needed assistance.

Mr. Davis gets a box of Samoas and my never-ending thanks for being polite, helpful, cheerful... maybe he was a Boy Scout too.

I've never spent $3.50 more enthusiastically in my life.

And K-Mart/Sears and Securitas?

Here's the license plate number and car number of the officers on duty tonight.

I don't know the name of the first work-a-brickle (lazy good-for-nothing) but Mr. Davis should be in management. You're missing out on having a good man in a place where he's appreciated and acknowledged.

Mr. Davis? Tonight, you're my special Valentine.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pull up a pile

An online friend asked me yesterday "How do you keep your house immaculate" and while I haven't answered her personally yet, the thought made me chuckle as I looked at the piles of books all over my room... and the bins of yarn.

You see, I have 4 children.

I also have a 3 bedroom house.

Because we have 6 people in one house, this house is hardly ever immaculate.

I often think about my mother that I've often joked is Martha Stewart on crack. You can eat off the dust in my mother's house - but first, I dare you to find any. She lectures me about the "clutter" and "shit" everywhere but there are some important differences in my childhood and the childhood of my children.

First, I homeschool 4 children. Actually, it's even more basic than that. I *HAVE* four children.
My mother had two and we went to school so we were gone for 8 hours a day NOT making messes in the house.

I have 3 boys... who, God love them are walking tornadoes.
My mother had two girls. Girls are eager to please (at least in the pre-teen years )

I had one grandparent who bought me things or made me clothes. Just one. (Not that I didn't have more grandparents but this is the relationship I had with them.)
My children have my parents who spoil them lovingly with EVERYTHING and my husband's mother who does the same.

Birthdays look like Christmas. Christmas looks like a toy drive for needy children. LOTS of them.

So if you ask me ideas for "cleaning", I will tell you the following:

  • Downsize the amount of clothing your children have. Do they really need two dressers full of clothing? Freecycle the clothing to those who need it. Sell it on Ebay for extra money.
  • Downsize the amount of toys you have. If they get two of one thing at Christmas (Hannukah or birthday), don't exchange it.... DONATE it. If they have so much stuff that they are getting duplicates, they have too much stuff.
  • Use the 6 month rule. If you haven't touched it in 6 months, throw it away, recycle it, freecycle it. This excludes holiday decorations.
  • Get rid of the paperwork by taking pictures of favorite drawings the children made. Scan documents (that don't have to be in hard copy) onto a disk. Scan pictures and put them on a disk.
  • SEND THEM OUTSIDE! If you're tired of your house looking like a wreck, make them move the mess outside! We hardly ever played inside when I was little. Therefore, we weren't INSIDE to make a mess.
  • Rotate the toys. Put out only a few at a time. Put the rest in storage bins (in the attic, in the shed, in the garage.)
  • Lose the sentimentality. Can you take a picture of something that you're holding onto just because it was your Aunt Gertrude's? If you want to honor Gerty, give it to someone who will use it.
  • Make THEM clean up. Seriously. There's no reason why your 7 year old can't vacuum, your 5 year old can't pick up dirty clothes, or your 3 year old not put toys away. If you think they're too young, let me ask you this: Aren't you too young to be a maid? Teach them responsibility. When they learn to pick up after themselves, they also learn empathy for making YOU have to do it. Have teenagers? They should be cooking by now. It's not slave labor. It's life lessons. No man wants a wife that can't cook. No woman wants a husband who can't plunge a toilet. Let me rephrase that. No woman wants a husband that can't cook. No husband wants a wife that can't plunge the toilet. Teach them to be self-reliant and that starts with taking care of themselves and their household. That's a GIFT!
  • Invest in "hidden" stowaways (baskets that can go under furniture/furniture with hidden storage bins). Once they are filled, THEN clean out the stuff.
  • Plan your menu ahead of time. Cook for a week on one day. Learn to love your crockpot/dutch oven. Teach your children to make salads, side dishes, desserts. Teach your teens to cook one night a week.
  • Keep busy with one task at a time. If they are finished playing with something, it gets put away before you are ALLOWED to take out something else. Also, keep busy with things that require more than 15 minutes to do. Idle hands are the devil's play thing - so to speak. And bored hands create one Hell of a mess.
The big lesson in all of this is learning to work together as a team. The Mom isn't the slave. The children aren't the slaves. The husband isn't the slave. You are all cogs in a household machine and if one of you isn't oiled and working properly, none of you function at 100%.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Weird treasures in my garage...

I seem to collect eclectic things.  My garage is a testimony to that.   Today, while discussing sewing machines on a homeschooling list, I realized I might have one of the machines they were talking about.

I say, "might" because I'm never sure exactly what's in my garage (or attic for that matter).  Sometimes things appear that I don't know from whence they came .  Sometimes someone puts things in there. (Like my family members - not strangers on the steet... although sometimes I wonder.)

And sometimes I can't remember what I've freecycled or given away.

That, on top of the fact that I have 8 or 9 sewing machines... I can never answer the sewing machine tech correctly when he asks me the model.  (It's the same with my four children when someone asks me what their birthdays are.)

Anyway, here's the machine I "rediscovered" in my garage.  It comes in an attractive wooden carrying case, has gold filigree, and lots of little knick knacks that go with it.

If you click on the picture, you can see the detail in the enlarged version.

... somewhere in my garage I have a WWII container filled with Wheat/Weed pennies.  Maybe one day I'll find it when I'm looking for a cake pan.  :oD

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mercury Whip

About 3 years ago, we gave up high fructose corn syrup.  It was a Lent sacrifice.  Now, before you roll your eyes, bear with me here.

You see, unlike the idiots in the corn industry sponsored high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) commercials, I really DO know the dangers of HFCS and so should you.

First of all, it contains mercury.  You know, the stuff in vaccines that was outlawed?  The stuff that USED to be in thermometers before they realized how dangerous it was?

As if that's not bad enough, there's really no health benefit in HFCS.  It's genetically engineered.  It's higher in sugar than just plain cane sugar.  It is directly linked to increases in diabetes.

If you didn't know about HFCS either, you should.  As a parent, you wouldn't feed your child rat poison (unless you're Casey Anthony) so why would you poison your children with mercury or genetically engineered sugary poison?

Now, that's not to say my children can't have sugar.  Really, it's just the opposite.  Pure cane sugar?  The answer is almost always yes.  Chocolate bars, cookies, cake.   All good.  (Well, good tasting anyway) 

With all things, moderation is the key.   The problem is, you shouldn't moderate poison... in any amount.

Soda would be the worst offender of HFCS.  It's horrible for you anyway - especially for girls.  It leeches calcium (osteoperosis anyone?)   Most things are easy to figure out if they have HFCS.  Any flavored drink pretty much has it.  All soda.  But there are some things that you wouldn't think of normally.

Here's a short list of "hidden" common products:

Miracle Whip
Pancake syrup
Salad Dressing
Chocolate Syrup
Tomato Paste
Tomato Sauce
Spaghetti Sauce
Baby food (Which I've never understood buying instead of making anyway.  I mean, how hard is it to mash bananas or blend peas?  Seriously, how lazy do you have to be?)

But there is good news.  Organics don't have HFCS and more and more grocery store chains are offering affordable generic organics.

There's organic soda if you really can't do without, organic ketchup (which tastes better anyway and isn't so daggone watery), organic salad dressings (that taste like restaurant-made specialties).

Or why not make your own?  It's cheaper.  It tastes better.  And you know exactly what's going in it.

Homemade Miracle Whip 

SERVES 68 , 1/2 liter
  1. Using a blender or food processor, blend egg yolks, salt, paprika, garlic, sugar and 1 tablespoons of the lemon juice.
  2. Slowly pour in 1 cup oil, a few drops at a time, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Add remaining 1/2 cup oil a little faster, carefully blending in each bit before adding the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  4. Mix the flour, mustard, boiling water and vinegar together until smooth.
  5. Pour into a small saucepan and cook until smooth and paste-like (but not too thick).
  6. Slowly add this hot mixture to the mayonnaise and blend well.
  7. Pour in a container and cool in the refrigerator.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I know you love me but....

Okay, I want to sit with you and talk with you about something. You see, I love that you think of me. I really do. It makes me smile to see your name in my e-mail inbox. I get so excited! I think, "Oh cool! I wonder what she's/he's up to!?!?" and then, devastation...

a chain letter, a virus warning, an urban myth

I think to myself, well, the intention was good but you know that saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

So let me tell you a little about my day... really, a little about my life in the virtual world.

I run a charity. It is the world's largest and oldest online charity. It is not an exaggeration that I get HUNDREDS of e-mails from that a day as we all work together to try patterns, talk about needs, and work out how to help others. Important e-mails. Pertinent e-mails.

I homeschool. I have e-mails coming in from lists to help me do this. I have newsletters that come in that help me educate my children, let me know about upcoming events that will enrich all of us, newsletters that keep me aprised of local happenings and national laws. Very important. Very relevant.

I am a youth leader. Girl Scouts, 4-H, Book Clubs, Sunday School. E-mails fly in from and about these organizations so that I can make sure we're all on the same page. Timely e-mails. Necessary e-mails.

I work. My bosses in New York and Virginia rely on e-mails to get in touch with me, schedule, and relay information important in keeping me employed and paid.

That's just my virtual world and even then, only a small part of it.

In real life, I have four children, a husband, a job, a charity, and I work with children. I am always busy. Time spent in leisure is well planned for the optimum result.

Time with my friends is precious. Hearing from you is very important. But I want to hear from YOU.

That is why I plead with you - visit this site: Thanks, No

Once you've read that, I'd like to invite you to visit THIS site. I ask you to go there because you've OBVIOUSLY got a lot of time on your hands and you're itching to do something with it. Learn to knit. Make something for a homeless person who is freezing. Make a burial gown for a preemie that has died. Make a blanket for a veteran in a VA nursing home. Heck, I don't care if you make a willy warmer. But do something productive.

... and one more thing? Snopes is your best friend. Before you send me another story about people hiding under cars or peeing in Coke, check it out.

I love you too but...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

So much creating - so much relishing

So much going on that I've been overwhelmed in a great way.

The first month of the year has been a productive one.

With two birthdays in January (my daughter and eldest son), I go right from Christmas to birthdays. Truth be told, I'm never quite on top of having a birthday party one week after Christmas. I try every year but it just doesn't work out that way.

This year had a double whammy. Katy got sick on her birthday and this wasn't just any sickness. This was a debilitating stomach virus that went through the family not once but twice. Trash cans were everywhere - just in case.

Once the illness seemed to have run it's course (for the second time), windows were opened, the house was bleached and Lysoled and life slowly started back to normal.

With life back to normal, I proceeded to do 7,000 loads of laundry. While things washed and dried, I knitted. First on the needles - scout socks for my eldest son, Jake. Second, scout mittens.

So here's the deal. Scout socks in the scout store are cotton or nylon. Anyone that camps, hikes, or has any sense knows that cotton and nylon get wet easily and get cold. The camper/hiker is MISERABLE. The seasoned knitter knows that nothing is warmer than wool... or cooler. It sweats with you but maintains its temperature so even if you crash land in the middle of the Hudson (and was that a miracle or WHAT?!?!), your feet will be warm... or warmER anyway. This same principle applies to mittens.

And of course, since the majority of heat is lost from your head, he needs a scout hat too. That's almost done.

All three of these are birthday gifts. He knows about them. I had to get his feet measurements (which seem to increase weekly) and his hands. But he is grateful nonetheless.

Thankfully, my children are appreciative of handmade gifts.

Next on the creative list was a boppy. Caleb's rough-housing tore Connor's boppy so it was time for a new one. I was disappointed to find out that my pattern (since I made the original) was missing. I donated a lot of patterns so I can only surmise that it was in one of those lots. No worries. I took apart the old one and used it as a pattern.

Jake and Caleb came in to let me know that THEIR boppies are torn too and would I please, please, please make them new ones? These were actual name-brand Boppies. Again, no pattern so I took them apart and made a pattern from them.

It's funny that I have a teen and a tween who still love their Boppies.

From that... the patchwork skirt. I found a great online pattern maker that gives you the measurement to make a peasant skirt.

J Caroline Creative has a formulary that gives you each tier. Too cool!

I made a patchwork skirt for Katy who has decided she wants to be a Hippie. I'm so cool with that.

And then... there was the huge freeze! It doesn't usually get really frigid here but that last blast of Canadian air really did a number down here!

We took the opportunity to make ice sun catchers since it hardly ever reaches the freezing point.

We're anticipating snow on Monday night. We'll see. The weather guessers don't get a lot of weather forecasts correct. Let's hope they guessed right here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Great Start to 2009!

The first day of the year is proving to start the year off great!

Tree is down. I usually keep it up until Epiphany but I needed space. I was happy to have it out even though it was a beautiful tree. It is now on its way to be a dune protector for the Chesapeake Bay.

Unfortunately, there was an apartment fire nearby and 5 families lost their home but I was able to help one family provide for their baby. I had a bunch of 3-6 month clothing for a boy, diaper bag, blankets - all brand new. I was blessed by being able to help them. It makes me feel good to know he'll be toasty tonight and Mom will have a new diaper bag and other goodies for him.

Last but not least, I have gotten two cockatiels (well, I'm picking them up later this evening). I love birds. My cockatiel passed away before Christmas and it was devastating. As much as my mother complained when she called that she couldn't hear because of "that damned bird" singing, I miss the singing and chirping and his funny little antics.

Most people don't think of birds as having personalities. They think that to cuddle something, it needs to have fur. Now, my Irish Setter is a 95 pound lap dog that thinks he weighs 10. The cat lets us live here. But the birds are a delight. They are curious, social, sing to you, squawk when you've made them mad. They're adorable.

Cleaning the house has commenced to clean out the "old year" and prepare for the new. This has been very empowering as I get rid of "attachments" of things that really need to get out of my house. Dust gatherers. Hot spots of papers. Gone!

I'm looking forward to the New Year.

I hope you are too!