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!