Saturday, February 27, 2010

OoOoooh! Shiny!

On Flickr I belong to a group called Solidarity League of Creative Women Distracted by ooooh! Shiny! And here's why. This morning I was online researching snow globes. My research led me to this post which led me to this post.

Suddenly I NEEDED to cover a jar lid in paper. Had I ever considered this before? No. Of course not. And yet the desire was present and strong. So I went with it. Fortunately I already had origami paper, mod podge and jars. Above you can see the result.

Now off to find some pencils .... OoOoooh! Shiny!


What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Frugal Friday

As I sit here typing there is a mild burn on my shins. And no, it's not from running (though I did hit the trail this week). No. I decided to try an alternative to shaving. Something like this. Only today is Frugal Friday. I didn't want to go out and purchase something. Instead I went shopping in my garage -- for sandpaper. Yes. I just ground down my legs. Literally.

It seems sandpapering is a tried and true technique for hair removal. Women buffed their legs during WWII as no metal was available for razor production. Many women still tout the benefits of buffing: hair removal, exfoliation, smooth legs and softer return hair growth.

Who doesn't want sexy smooth frugal legs? Certainly I do. However I recommend a touch more research before embarking on this particular adventure. Me? I used fine sandpaper - it's what we had.

As it turns out I should have gone with extra-fine or 600 grit paper. Perhaps then I'd still have that extra layer of skin (I'm exaggerating a bit -- my legs are irritated but not raw, at least not yet). I also must place a caveat here. I have extremely sensitive skin; just look at it weird and it breaks out in unsightly plaques. In other words I may not be the best guinea pig.

I can tell you this. Sandpaper exfoliates, very well. And my legs are smoother (though not as smooth as I'd like).

Here's my plan. I'm going to give my skin a few days to heal. In the meantime I'll go and find some extra-fine sandpaper and, once healed, I'll give it another whirl.

Have any of you tried this? What was your experience?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Love Thursday

Today I'm loving:
  • Halloween in February (which may even end up in a book!)
  • Bright hearts constructed by an awesome teacher
  • Chickens who have decided they do indeed lay eggs
  • Glorious warm sunny days tucked into winter
  • One Peculiar Momma who started running again (albeit slowly)
  • Swans paddling through the river
  • Geese squawking overhead
  • Birds chirping and rustling through the reeds
  • The smell of granola baking in the oven
  • Little girls who love to snuggle
  • Little boys who aren't so little anymore
  • Grandparents who take the kids overnight so parents can work
  • Being halfway through our rough schedule
  • Starting a new book with my daughter
  • This post (I wish I was part of it!)
  • A weekend off

Happy Love Thursday!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You have to eat to cook

“You have to eat to cook. You can’t be a good cook and be a noneater. I think eating is the secret to good cooking.”

~Julia Child

It's funny the places and things I'm drawn to on any given day. Sometimes it's needles and wool; creating something from nearly nothing. Sometimes it's vintage sheets finding new life via the sewing machine; toys, dresses, bags and aprons. Sometimes the camera and I while away our days chasing the perfect light. Some days my nose is buried in a book. And often I'm drawn to the kitchen. Lately the kitchen is where I've been spending my free time; born from necessity and desire.

We are striving to *live within our means* and *meet our budget*. This means cooking at home and cookhouse creativity. I've been challenging myself to make do with what we've got (i.e. no more daily trips to the grocery store). To be frank I've been rather pleased with the results.

Last night I made the casserole pictured above, loosely based on this recipe. Yogurt, parmesan, onion, hash browns and lemon filled the base. Diced red pepper, fresh dill (procured from leftover salad) and eggs garnished the top. It was perfect for dinner, lunch and dinner again.

I also delved back into winter vegetable pot pies -- this time with homemade crust. You see I made a deal with myself; if I assembled the crust (for which I already had the ingredients) then I could purchase a small bunch of daffodils. It was the right choice. The crust was delicious. We had enough crust for two nights and had even more filling to freeze for later. Plus I had a touch of sunshine on an otherwise gray day.

We also managed three loaves of sandwich bread, a loaf of banana hazelnut chocolate chunk bread, chicken nougats, a bottle of lemonade and a batch of coffee-flavored ice cream (well technically ice milk as we didn't have any cream on hand). One night was simple vegetables and rice. Another night grilled cheese and tomato (on homemade bread).

In other words we are eating well and saving money. I feel in no way deprived and I'd venture to say my husband feels the same way. I can't speak for the children -- they flat out refuse to try many of the things I make. Yes. Child can live on noodles alone.

Of course, on the downside, there are tons and tons of dishes to contend with. I'm learning to be a cleaner cook. I'm a bit of a slow learner.

Now let me tell you one more thing. This week I logged fifty-five hours at work (in fact I'm in my scrubs now). Why do I tell you this? Because I'm not wonder woman. Not even close. Not even a smidgen to close. My point is most cooking is simple. If you are an eater you can be a cook. Julia ought to know.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love Thursday

The day wherein I cleaned the kitchen then proceeded to mess it up again (i.e. you should see it now). And the day wherein I choose photo montages over a shower before a share holder's meeting. It's all about priorities.

Now off to that meeting ....

Happy Love Thursday!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."

~Warren Buffet


Mr. Peculiar and I both worked last night. Our friends watched the children. This morning the older ones were in school and Little watched tv while I slept on the couch. After I took her to school I recorded another book* because we get to do it all over again tonight.

*This is me. Still in my scrubs. No makeup. Hair disheveled. This is typical. Me.


This afternoon Mr. Peculiar was doing dishes while I packed sandwiches for dinner. The pipe to the garbage disposal came undone and filthy water spewed all over our wood floor. This is our life; overwhelming, flooded.

Now that section of floor is unnaturally hygienic. The remaining floor feels left out, embarrassed, inadequate. Who knew it could sparkle so? If only someone had the time.


How much longer can we put our heads down and march through the deluge? At some point our minds or our bodies are going to give. Nobody told me "it" would be this hard.

What is "it"? Take your pick: life, parenting, marriage, housework, love.


Today the sun poured through the trees and painted the walls with light and shadow.


The mail brought me a treasure -- How Not to Write A Novel. I'm told it's a good read.


And now I'm off to work. For lack of a better plan I'll keep planting trees and hope that someday I, too, will get to sit in the shade.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,

Hello. How are you? I know you've a lot on your mind. There's much strife in this world and I have no reason to be talking to you about this. We have everything we need, and then some. And yet I can't help myself. It's hard to squelch desires. So I thought I'd just put it out there -- you know, just in case.

Our carpet is gross. More than gross it's flat out disgusting. Eight years of children and pets have taken their toll on the builder grade flooring. It can no longer be cleaned (believe you me I've tried). Shampooing brings out an enchanting fetid odor that lingers for weeks. The carpet is covered in holes, stiff glue spots, regions that were inadvertently painted and areas the pets have baptized. It needs to go.

And truth-be-told we are not carpet people. We need a solid surface that can withstand abuse. I know just what I want, desire. Wide-plank reclaimed wood flooring. It's perfect in so many ways: green, hypoallergenic, easy to clean and pre-abused. It would be AMAZING!

So I just thought I'd put it out there: if at anytime you come across such flooring in need of a place to live we'd happily provide a home. Really.

Thanks for listening.


Peculiar Momma

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open."

~John Barrymore


What I'm loving today:
  • Petite seamstresses embroidering felt
  • Handmade hearts tucked into corners.
  • Plans to make Valentine's cookies.
  • A weekend full of marvelous friends.
  • Enough love to go around.
  • Radiolab and This American Life.
  • Brief periods of sun on an otherwise gray day.
  • Bwok bwok chicken chicken -- and other silly things said by my kids.
  • A budget that might just work (fingers crossed).
  • Three days with no alarm clocks.
  • An upcoming sledding date (see here and here and here for our last adventure).
  • Gray squirrels with ginormous fluffy tails.
  • The distant honking of geese and the mournful call of the train oh so early in the morning.
Here's hoping you have a scrumptious weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All of My Love -- A Bedtime Story

Mr. Peculiar and I work non-traditional schedules. I'm on duty nights, weekends and holidays. Mr. Peculiar has weekends off but switches between day, swing and graveyard shifts. We are currently both working nights; it's arduous to say the least.

This type of schedule can be problematic for us parents. What is one to do with the children? Life would be much easier if we had relatives in town. But we don't. It'd be great if we could afford a nanny. But we can't and won't.

We briefly considered leaving the kids alone but quickly thought better of it after a night of mayhem where even parental authority wasn't enough to keep all h*ll from breaking loose (if you've seen my marbles let me know!).

Luckily we have amazing friends who are willing to shelter our children. This keeps them from destroying a) our house and b) each other. And it keeps me from losing any more marbles.

This care does not, however, keep middle daughter from being sad. She misses me and wants me home when I'm at work (of course when I am home the term mother is synonymous with persona non grata but that's a different story). The other kids miss us too but not with the same intractable longing as Middle.

Anyway the other day we saw a Hallmark commercial for recordable books. Ah - the perfect solution! I'll put my voice to a story, pack it off for the overnighter and contented bliss will prevail. Not.

You see these books cost upwards of $100.00. And like it or not the Peculiar Household is on a very strict budget. Expensive books are not part of our balance sheet. Another solution was in order ... one that didn't drain our hemorrhaging bank account.

Then the light bulb went off. I have a computer (a Mac, a Mac, a Mac -- I love my Mac). My lovely computer has a web cam and a recording feature. So what did I do? I made a little movie; me reading a book. And I'm so hip that I uploaded it to YouTube.

Now the next time my twenty-first century progeny have a sleepover they can get online for their bedtime story. Total cost? Zero dollars and zero cents. (And no I'm not counting the cost of my computer because I would have bought it with or without that little YouTube feature).

For those who are interested the video is posted below. I'll not list all the ways it embarrasses me.

Happy Love Thursday and Frugal Friday! Here is all of (or Olive) my love.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How to make a felt heart

Here I am at 6 pm; still in my scrubs from last night. Soon I'll need to change clothes and head back to work. In the meantime chili is simmering in the crockpot, Little has her feet tucked in my lap, we're watching the Super Bowl (sort of) and sewing hearts.

The act of drawing needle through fabric is cathartic; I feel the pull of women past. I may be a "modern working woman" but am a nurturer first; it's genetically encoded. And when I'm in the middle of difficult shifts I need to pull my family close and act, well, motherly. Thus the sewing, knitting, cooking and baking. Of course men can and do all these activities (my son is taking sewing in school). And, obviously, women are not defined by their homemaking skills. Yet homemaking and nurturing are very important tasks and are duties I'm proud to shoulder.


How to make your own felt heart:

  1. Take a piece of felt and cut out a heart (I fold mine in half and cut it out just like in grade school.)
  2. Using embroidery floss sew a blanket stitch around the border.
  3. That's it! Easy peasy!
Check out this link for making a knot in your thread. Indeed this is my new favorite knot!


I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's all about heart

"...the secret of the care of the patient
is in caring for the patient."

Francis W. Peabody, October 21, 1925

Tonight it's a blanket stitch on felt. Tomorrow it may be a Ford-interlocking suture pattern on skin. Either way the technique is the same; bound with love and care.

Things I'm loving today:
  • Wonderful, stupendous and spectacular friends.
  • My new felt bookmark.
  • Books, books, books.
  • A project in the works (under wraps until I'm sure I'm capable).
  • Validation.
  • Snuggling under the covers on a cloudy morning.
  • Heat seeking lover kitties.
  • Snacks.
  • This chair
  • And this chair
  • This roof which kept the rain off my head today.
  • This fireplace which is keeping my feet toasty.
  • This day which saw me through from one end to the other.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Potato, Fennel and Shallot Pizza (plus recipe!)

A couple weeks ago I saw a special about pizza on the travel channel. For the life of me I can't find a link or I'd send you there. At any rate one of the featured pies was potato and cheese. It sounded heavenly and I wanted to give it a go. Not only could I not find a link but I also couldn't find a suitable recipe.

If you google potato pizza you'll find several recipes but none quite what I was looking for. So I made up my own: Potato, Fennel and Shallot Pizza. It turned out pretty good so I'm sharing the recipe with all of you.

First you should know a few things about me. I am a thin crust girl. The thinner the better. Here is my favorite dough recipe. Now don't get me wrong. I've had deep dish pizza - from the master. It was completely and absolutely delectable. But at home it's thin crust all the way.

Given that the crust is thin I prefer my pizza without much sauce (though I made this topping the other week -- very very good!)

You'll need a pizza stone and a peel. A mandoline is also very helpful to get thin slices of potato and fennel. Plan to eat this as soon as it arrives out of the oven otherwise the crust will get soggy.

Now, without further adieu, the recipe:


Pizza dough

Fennel bulb

2 to 3 yellow potatoes

2 to 3 shallots

Sharp white cheddar cheese

Fresh grated Parmesean Cheese

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground Pepper

Olive oil

Corn meal


1) Place pizza stone in oven. Preheat to 450 degrees (this works best if permitted to heat for 45 minutes).

2) Cut shallots into thin slices. Place ~ three tablespoons olive oil in a skillet (I just add a splash to cover the bottom of the skillet). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill onions until lightly browned.

3) Take a fennel bulb and cut in half. Cut out the triangular core. Using a mandoline to thinly slice.

4) Wash potatoes. Thinly slice wilth mandoline. (I left the skin on).

5) Roll dough thin (~1/8th of an inch).

6) Sprinkle small amount of corn meal on pizza peel.

7) Place dough on pizza peel.

8) Place thin layer of shallots on dough.

9) Place layer of fennel.

10) Add layer of potatoes.

11) Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

12) Drizzle with olive oil.

13) Sprinkle with both cheeses.

14) Slide onto pizza stone and bake until lightly browned and crust crispy.

15) Remove from oven, slice and eat immediately!


Note our fancy dining table (a child's chair). We were recently gifted a television (thank you Mom and Dad!). This contraption now sits on what was our coffee table. The dining room table is covered with a sewing machine, knitting implements, valentines and other assorted junk. As such we are stuck with the ever so fancy chair - an antique from the LA School district. That's how we roll, folks, nothing if not fancy. And no, there isn't a bite taken out of that photo. The beauty of hand rolled crust lies within the imperfections. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Happy Monday!