Friday, July 31, 2009

More criminal behavior (and a giveaway!)

My girls were recently introduced to the joys of stamping courtesy of a local garage sale. They purchased a couple of stamps and some ink pads. Then they got to work decorating every single piece of available scrap paper (and my wood floor to boot).

Yesterday the hubbie and I stepped outside to talk with the neighbor while the girls were stamping. Upon return we were greeted by this:

Yes. She had stamped her face, her arms and her legs. Only this was not one of the stamps the girls bought. It seems they ventured into the garden and plucked a seed pod off our oriental poppy. As it turns out these pods are perfect for stamping.

After recovering from the initial shock of her appearance I swelled with pride. We were raising innovative resourceful girls. Little did I know their actions would lead to criminal behavior.

I was so impressed with the kids' discovery that today I went to pick the remaining pods. They'll make nice gifts coupled with an ink pad for the nieces and nephews.

The first plucked pod spit out a bunch of tiny brown things. It took me a moment ... my brain is sometimes a bit slow ... and then it hit me - these are seeds. I ran back in the house and got my son. Together we plucked the pods and gathered the seeds.

Then I did an internet search to see if these seeds could be used. And the answer is maybe. It turns out oriental poppies contain opium. The seeds themselves are fine to eat and harbor a negligible amount of narcotic. They can be toasted and ground then used in muffins or breads or scones. However, thanks to the war on drugs, it may be illegal to harvest and use homegrown seeds. It's legal to buy them from the store but not to gather your own.

Therefore the boy had inadvertently entered the drug trade (thanks to the over-exuberance of his mother). This was not his first criminal offense. And the girl spent her day solidly covered with the mark of opium. This was also not her first offense. Should any of us be arrested I sincerely hope you will help to post bail. Really we are good people. Truly.

And now you must excuse me. I'm going to bake a batch of lemon scones which may or may not contain poppy seeds.


These pod stamps are super cool. They'd make great snowflakes and could be used to create excellent holiday cards. And the pods are seed and opium free. I am giving away a set of stamps and an ink pad in a homemade bag . Comment by August 7th for a chance to win.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What's Up?

Chicken Butt

You may have noticed I've been quiet lately. I am in an unfamiliar place ... the waiting place.  I am waiting for my shift to be over, waiting for the weekend to come, waiting for yarn to be delivered and waiting for paint to dry.  Just waiting. 

We are experiencing record heat and our a/c is still broken (it'd help if I'd call a repair man). I have little motivation.  I don't want to cook or clean or create and I most definitely do not want to exercise. I don't even feel like reading.  I am not depressed, per se.  I am not unhappy. But I'm merely going through the motions; my body is living life without me.  

I find myself looking forward to fall ... cooler temperatures, apple cider, football in the background.  I feel guilty for not enjoying the here and now.  I tell tall-tales like ... if only I didn't have to work then I'd be motivated. Then I'd have time to appreciate.   I know this is not true (though I'm not turning down those lottery winnings should they come my way). 

So here I sit.  Waiting.  Yet I have faith.  In the sage words of Dr. Seuss: 

Somehow you'll escape

all that waiting and staying.

You'll find the bright places

where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,

once more you'll ride high!

Ready for anything under the sky.

Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!

There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.

And the magical things you can do with that ball

will make you the winning-est winner of all.

Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,

with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.

Because, sometimes, they won't...

And that's it really.  Some days will be better than others.  

Friday, July 17, 2009

Frugal Friday - Homemade Mochachinos

Nothing beats an icy cold beverage on a hot summer's day; especially when one's air conditioner is on the fritz.   A frappachino would really hit the spot. However if one can't afford to repair the a/c unit then one can't afford Starbucks either.  Fortunately there is another way ... homemade Mochachinos!     

How to make homemade Mochachinos:

1) Make a pot of coffee.  Drink some and freeze the rest an ice cube tray. 
2) Buy a pink blender from an estate sale (well, okay, other colors are also acceptable). 
3) Blend one cup of milk, two heaping spoonfuls of hot chocolate powder and six coffee ice cubes.  If you are feeling really spry also add a banana. Please note I like my coffee beverages on the not so sweet side - alter the recipe as needed to suit your own taste.  
4) Pour into a mason jar/old spaghetti jar.
5) Enjoy!

Warning: Can be addictive!  Make at your own risk!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Frugal Friday - Lavender on my mind


This morning I read Angry Chicken's blog.  She is going to the Portland Lavender Festival.  Oh, I thought wistfully, I'd like to go to a lavender festival.  

Why?  Because this week I started a food blog and was introduced to Vanilla Sugar.  And a dear friend of mine chimed in and had to mention Lavender Sugar.  Lavender sugar?  Oh me.  Oh my.  I must get started right away.  Where can I find Lavender sugar? 

 You see I needed to go to a lavender festival so I could make lavender sugar. 

And then I realized ... Doh! (said in your best Homer Simpson voice).  I have lavender growing in my yard.  I GROW MY OWN LAVENDER.  But I never, not even once, thought to use it.  And lavender has all sorts of uses, fancy sugar for one. 

So today I started a batch of  sugar and picked two additional bushels to dry for sachets.  I did have to compete with the bees but it didn't cost me a cent.  

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Don't forget to use what you've got!

Happy Frugal Friday. 


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Rookie Kitchen

Over the hill and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go.   This week all three kids are gone.  The boy is at lacrosse camp and the girls are with their grandparents.  On top of that I only have to work one out of the five nights they'll be gone.  

What in the world am I doing with myself? Not what you'd expect.  You see when I got home I realized how horrific the carpet was in my son's room.  Old cat + carpet = not pretty.  So on a whim I decided to rip it out.  My initial plan was to replace the carpet with cork.  Well it turns out cork does not fit into my budget.  As such I went with plan B -- painting the sub floor.  Thus far I've cleared the room of furniture, ripped out the carpet and padding, hauled them to the dump (thanks to the hubbie for help), pulled up the tacking strips, removed all the padding tacks, filled in the cracks with wood filler, sanded and wiped the floors clean and painted with primer and an initial top coat layer.  Whew!  Why am I not lounging in the yard while being fanned with palm fronds?  Isn't that what normal people do when their children are away?

I still have to paint additional topcoat layers, add a Steeler's logo (because I am a crazy person) and polyurethane the whole deal.  All this only to do the girls' room next.  

And tonight, while the paint was drying, I began yet another project ... Novellino Cucina (The Rookie Kitchen).  This is my new cooking blog where I intended to cook my way through Italy ala Julie and Julia.  

And that is what I've been up to. Whatcha doing with your summer?  


Friday, July 3, 2009

Frugal Friday - I Spy Bag

My youngest was invited to a five-year-old birthday party later this month. The minute we got the invitation I knew what I wanted to make - an I Spy Bag. Of course the invention is not my own; it's been floating around the web for a while. I couldn't find a specific tutorial but the bag was easy enough to make without one. Here are the basic steps:
  • Go buy clear heavy-duty plastic from your local fabric store (I bought 1/2 yard on sale for $2.00 and still have quite a bit left-over).
  • Send your children on a scavenger hunt around the house for small treasures (this keeps the kids busy, clears the clutter from your house and saves you money).
  • Make a list of the trinkets to be included in each bag.
  • Find some fabric scraps (do you remember this project? I used left over fabric from that - once a curtain now a book bag and a toy).
  • Cut the fabric into two squares (or any other shape you wish).
  • Cut a window into the front square in any shape desired (I made a square window by cutting four triangular flaps and folding them over. This left a nice clean edge. )
  • Cut a piece of plastic in the same shape as your hole only larger, in and sew to the wrong side of the fabric using a straight stitch. (Note: on another I Spy Bag I cut the window as a star shape then used a zig-zag stitch to attach the plastic which kept the fabric from fraying).
  • Pin right sides of the fabric together and stitch the bag edges. Be sure to leave an opening to turn right side out.
  • Fold the edges of the opening in and iron to make closure easier after filling.
  • Fill the bag with rice and trinkets (a creamer pitcher works great for this).
  • Top-stitch to close bag. For a professional look top-stitch the entire border of the bag.
  • Print a list of the bag contents and laminate (I simply used clear packing tape).
  • Attach list to bag (I plan to use a pretty ribbon).
After we finished the I Spy bag I whipped up a quick draw-string gift bag ala Heather Ross. And voila - a quick simple inexpensive and original gift.

It turns out my kids also wanted I Spy bags so I made them each one too (they are five, nine and thirteen ... even the teenager wanted one of his own). And finally I made a bag for my niece. All told I made five bags in an afternoon. These would be great party-favors and are also perfect for summer car rides.

Happy Sewing and Happy Frugal Friday!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Love Thursday

(See if you can find the heart)

Today I Love:
  • Sitting on the porch and watching the girls "wash" the car.
  • The way the wicker couch vibrates as the labrador pants.
  • The rustling of aspen leaves as they dance in the breeze.
  • Finding a homegrown strawberry.
  • Dreaming of stuffed zucchini flowers.
  • Knowing how to spell zucchini.
  • Listening to chickens babble as they rid the yard of weeds.
  • Birthday flowers from the neighbor's garden.
  • Plastic Sponge Bob cups used as vases.
  • Plans to canoe and kayak on the 4th.
  • Friends coming to town (even if only briefly).
  • Pleasant summer afternoons to counter long nights at work.
  • New projects to contemplate.
  • Crafty stuff yet to share (stay tuned).

Thanks for the sympathy and love yesterday. I'm am feeling much less sorry for myself. Ahhh the joys of parenting!


Happy Love Thursday!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me.

Today is my birthday.  I've been on this planet for thirty-eight years.  I learned long ago that birthdays, though special, are also just one of 365 days.  And on that note I rang in my birthday with a midnight vacuuming of the living room.  This morning I ran a load of dishes and also managed to finish a couple of loads of laundry.  This afternoon I cleaned my daughters' room.  

On the bright side I squeezed in a morning bike ride (if you want legs of a behemoth try pumping a bike uphill with a 60# parachute, aka bike trailer). 

 My husband also took me to lunch; mmmm - crispy crab sandwich.   The family gave me a pepper mill and asian wire strainer.  These will come in quite handy when I attempt to fry up the zucchini blossoms growing in our garden.  

I thought the perfect end to my day would be to walk with the kids to the library and farmer's market (the husband had to work).  I thought wrong. 

Things started out innocent enough.  An ice cream truck passed as we left the neighborhood.  The girls were giddy and each bought a popsicle.  But the sugar high was short-lived. As we neared the library things went swiftly downhill.  Middle daughter was thirsty.  She was about to perish. And she desperately wanted her OWN library card.  

This is not a new discussion.  I like to keep all our checked out items on one card so I know what is due and when.  And middle daughter does not have a strong history of responsibility. She's been told that if she demonstrates responsible behavior then she could earn her own library card.  

"But how?" she moans (as if sounding like an injured seal is likely to make me change my mind). 

"By taking care of your room," I reply through gritted teeth. This conversation is all too familiar and I know where the trail leads.  

"But I don't like that!"

"Well part of responsibility is doing things you don't like." 

 (In an alternate reality I'd have already strangled her but in this world part of being responsible is avoiding public strangulation and as such I demonstrated my role admirably.  Her head remains firmly attached to her body).  

Middle daughter proceeded to pout and stomp her way though the library.  At checkout time my youngest daughter was taking the security cases off our movies.  It seems middle daughter also wanted to participate.  They managed to get into a SHOUTING MATCH in the lobby.  Then middle daughter shoved my son who was trying to reason with her.  I stood between them and shoved them both to break it up (Parenting 101: Proper Ways to Shove Children in Public).  

Gaaah.  So I threatened to go straight home and skip the market.  

"Noooo mom.  Nooooo! We'll be good."  

Yeah right.  When has a promise like that ever panned out?   But I wanted to go to the market and it was my birthday. 

They were each given a $3.00 spending budget.  Middle daughter immediately bought a drink for $2.50 that she didn't like.  It ended up in the garbage.  Then she borrowed a dollar from her sister to buy a brownie.   In the meantime little sister freaked out because she only had two dollars.  I gave her another dollar.  She wanted candy.  The farmer's market does not have candy.  They have cookies and brownies and rice krispy treats and candied nuts and lemonade and blueberries and cherries and all kinds of other goodies that most children would love.  But no.  Not her.  CANDY!

That was it.  We left.  Picture a woman, thirty-eight-years old (to be exact) lips pursed pushing a stroller.  In the stroller is a five-year-old frantically waving three dollars and shrieking, "I WANT TO EAT SOMETHING!  MOMMY I WANT TO EAT!"  

Lucky for us we still had a mile walk uphill.  So, yes, happy birthday to me.  Those same children are now peacefully playing Jenga together on our wood floor.  Go figure. 

And now it seems the laundry and dishes beckon.  They will pair well with an entire bottle of wine.  


I had another topic, another post, for today.  It seems it will have to wait.