Saturday, December 15, 2012

Its Been a While..

I feel like the events of the last 24 hours warrant dusting the blog off and doing some writing.  

I cried myself to sleep last night.  I couldn't let my children see me cry.  A senseless tragedy and I am stuck in a place of denial.  It cannot possibly be true, the news on every TV channel, the deluge of posts on Facebook, the pictures, the 911 calls...  I don't want to believe that this is what our world has become.  

As a mother of two wonderful little boys, I have never been more thankful that they are still too little to understand much of the world around them.  I am not strong enough as a person to find the words, to keep the tears from flowing.  I don't have to ruin their idyllic view of the world just yet.. 

But sadly... I know that this won't be the last tragedy.  Someday, I will have to explain to my angels about bad things that don't make sense...  How will I continue to be able to make them feel safe, to keep them from being scared when, I don't feel safe?  How can I teach them to be strong, when I just want to curl into a ball and shut out the world? I am grateful that this time I am spared.  

My heart just breaks, the children that won't be home for Christmas, the parents and siblings that have been thrown into this vortex..  The families of the survivors.. My prayers go to all of them.  Their worlds are forever changed in a way that we will never understand..

This morning as I watched the boys play, I feel like I got some answers...Pray...  Light a candle... hold your children tightBut don't hold them so tight that they cant live and experience life.  You never know what tomorrow is going to bring.  You don't know when it will be your last opportunity to say I love you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Fake Patrick's Day

     Yes I am aware that it is only the 15th of March and that the 17th is the appropriate day for the celebration of forceful eviction of snakes.  However, being that the 17th is a Saturday and I work in a very small office that is inhabited by even smaller numbers on Fridays, we have embraced today as the day for green!
I am also on a quest to be one of the few that actually follows through on their pins to Pinterest.  So when I saw this recipe, I knew it was gonna get done!  So I present to you……

Leprechaun Mint Brownies!!

     First let me say… The original Pinterest link had a list of ingredients that was not accurate.  There was also limited source information.  All the poster said was that it was a Betty Crocker recipe.  Having never been one to be out done by a bad link, I started my research.  The original recipe was easy to find and thankfully the ingredient list was only off in quantity, so I had everything I needed.  The concept was easy: Bake some brownies and slather multiple layers of ooey, gooey decadence on top!  The implementation was many hours of waiting.  The brownies needed to cool completely (90 minutes), the cream filling needed to set (2 hours), the ganache needed to set (2 hours).  After everything had cooled, and layered, and set, and then warmed back up again, I had to get it out of the pan!!!  This led to a couple sacrificial pieces, though the husband and children didn’t seem to mind.  It was a big challenge to get the brownies out of the pan intact.  The next time I do a layered anything I will definitely be using a springform pan!

     The finished product, however, more than made up for the time and the struggle.  They look impressive on the plate and are beyond decadent. I have also decided the following:  Due to the amount of effort put forth, let be decreed: “These brownies are CALORIE FREE!!!”

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Making "The Box" Yummy

So I know it has been a long while... Life just gets in the way. With two little boys under the age of two and two jobs, I always have good ideas for writing, but the time always disappears.  I wanted to share a quick and easy weekend morning recipe. This morning I wanted to make a nice breakfast for the boys and I without spending the whole morning in the kitchen. I immediately turned to the old standby of pancakes and even faster felt the guilt of making "box mix" pancakes. In my dreams I am one of those moms that walks around a perfect house and makes pancakes from scratch.... But reality is so far from that it's not even funny!!!  So I embraced the box and tried to think of a way to make it just a little yummier...  The result:

Sweet Apple Pancakes
(makes 5-7 pancakes)
1 cup instant pancake mix
3/4 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Sweet Apple Sprinkle (unfortunatley no longer available from The Pampered Chef - see variation below)
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Conf. Sugar
Sliced Apple

Mix pancake mix, water, vanilla, and apple sprinkle together.  Do not over mix as this can cause the pancakes to get heavy.  

Heat pan or griddle on medium low (until a splash of water will sizzle).  Spray pan liberally with olive oil.  Pour on batter to desired size.  When the top of the pancakes begin to bubble, its time to flip! Serve with sliced apples, chocolate chips, and dusted with confectioners sugar

Variation: If you don't have Sweet Apple Sprinkle (which sadly, I am running out of) replace the water with 3/4 cup of applesauce and 1 1/2 Tbsp of cinnamon and 1 Tbsp of sugar).

Making the pancakes this way, makes me feel a little less guilty about just "opening a box"!   ENJOY!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Battle of the Bluge

     **Warning.. There will be no WWII references in this post**

Our family is fighting this battle on a daily basis and in many ways. In the obvious... We are no small people!  Both my husband and I could use to lose a whole person each, my oldest looks like Godzilla next to other children of his age (even though he is quite slender), and my youngest is doing a fabulous impression of a red headed King Kong!  This "bulge" however prevalent in our family and in society as a whole is not the same over abundance I want to share about today....

                In my family we are rookie hoarders. When my husband and I took two very full lives and joined them to be one, all of our stuff came with us. Shortly after we got married, we were forced into downsizing from a lovely condo to one room in my in-laws house, following with my parents moving out of my childhood home, and inheriting almost the entire contents of the houses of two sets of grandparents....  WE HAVE A LOT OF STUFF!!!!
                Our current living space is a one bedroom second floor walk up. The adults occupy the bedroom and the boys live in a space outside our room that serves as a landing at the top of the stairs. It has a lovely bay window that for the last year and a half has been the most wonderful changing table. We have crammed to cribs, stacking storage and the children into this space. We also have a very small living room kitchen combo that also is used as: my office, the boys’ playroom, the formal dining room and craft headquarters. Phew... I think I feel the walls closing in as I think of all that we cram in here!  We have also been blessed with having access to storage with a couple different family members. They are holding furniture and wedding gifts etc at no cost (unless you count the cost of familial guilt!)

                For the last year or so Dear Husband and I have been questing to rid ourselves of the baggage and the. Irene of all of this stuff!!  It is not as easy as it seems, and for each of us different reasons. For him, the first time he moved out of the room in which he grew up was to live with me. He never had a need to purge or make the tough choices. For me, I have carried a lot of these items with me for 20plus moves over the last 15 years. If I didn't part with it during all of that time, why should I get rid of it now!!!
I have learned some important things about the clutter and piles. 
                                It makes you more stressed - a messy room with piles everywhere doesn't foster a calming environment to help you unwind at the end of the day. When finally come into the bedroom to end my day, I immediately get stressed. There are piles of clean laundry and clothes the kids have grown out of. Already I have a huge stack of Christmas presents. There are boxes of items that have already been sorted to be donated and just still haven't left. If you are stepping over piles all the time how can you possibly go to the sleep peacefully?
                                You waste your time - I am amazed at how often I can't find my keys or my wallet when it is time to walk out the door!  I know that it is because I don’t have a solid system. When I come home the keys and wallet should always go in the same exact place....
                                You spend more money – When you can’t find something, you are more likely to buy it again!  This has not been a major issue with our family.  Luckily we both have good memories for know what we have on hand, it is just hard to find it  J
                                You get stuck in the past – By keeping yourself surrounded by all of the items from your past, you have no room to discover your future.

We are fighting the good fight... some days we win, and some days we dont!  We do not have a dirty home, but it isnt one that I often welcome people in to visit.  I am looking forward to the added space that fighting the battle of the bulge and winning will provide!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Returning to Pioneer Days

So I have been having a lot of fun on Pinterest lately.  This is a great site where I can save things that I see on-line and also see other things that people are putting on their "boards".  This has given me some really fantastic inspiration.  I very much love the DIY fad that is going on.  there are a lot of resources available on-line that is free and still leaves a lot of room for customization!.  I took on two really great projects in the last two days..  One, a single time project, and one that I hope will blossom into a great future for me!!

One: A basket crocheted from clothesline!!  The inspiring post can be found on a great blog; "Making Chicken Salad".  I am not going to re-right the pattern however......  I found this whole project very challenging.  I would say that although I have only been crocheting just shy of 2 years, I am a pretty advanced with the medium.  I have yet to find a pattern that can really best me!  That being said, I struggled here.  I used cotton clothesline as opposed to the nylon brand as called for on the original pattern.  In creating the bottom, the pattern did not take into account the needed increases to keep the piece flat.  As I fudged through to try to keep it relatively symmetrical I was changed by the stubborn nature of the cotton line.  As I worked through, my hands began to tire quickly.  Alas, I "finished" the basket.  I am unsure of how I will truly finish it however.  I may line the basket or I may try to add a sophisticated bow.  I may try it again, but maybe with a larger hook and better attention to how tight my gauge is.  Following is a really bad picture.  I will try and edit to post a better pic tomorrow!!
Two:  Liquid Soap.  Yes I know... Soap has been done!!  Soap can be bought in any store...  I know what you are thinking.. but when I can take a $0.99 bar of soap and a couple of other items and turn into a half gallon of liquid soap, I am all ears!  I will try just about anything to become more economical and save money.  I am also looking for nice Christmas gifts that I can make and give.  Again, to the rescue!  The tutorial can be found on another amazing site: "The Farmer Family".

        My supplies:
I really enjoyed the ease of the process. I am now totally intrigued in experimenting and learning more about the science of soap making.  Today I went and got some basic supplies and will be continuing to play.  Tomorrow, 12 lucky people will be getting samples of The Starving Llama's very first Oatmeal Almond Liquid soap!  :)

The samples:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Herbert the Hug Monster

Let me introduce to you... Herbet.  

He is a hug monster that is ready to attack anyone in need of a hug.  Herbert was inspired by another Hug Monster by another crocheter.  I have a dear friend from childhood that was in a tragic car accident and is struggling with her recovery.  She lives many states away, but I still wanted her to know that we were thinking about her and wishing her a speedy recovery.

Here is the pattern:

Herbert the Hug Monster
     By: Sarah Greller
            Herbert is a very simple crochet project that can be completed in one sitting.  I made him using up some of my scrap yarn. 

Materials needed:
·         4.0mm – G Hook
·         Any Worsted/10ply yarn (I was using up some of my Sugar n Cream cotton) - Feel free to use any combination of colors.  I used one color for the body and two colors combined for the arms and hair
o   Main Color – Approximately 50 yards
o   Contrast Color 1 and 2 – Approximately 10 yards of each (depending on how long you want the arms and how much hair you want)
o   Contrast Color 3 – very small amount, just for stitching on the face
·         Safety Eyes in desired size
·         Stitch Marker (if you don’t want to count as you work)

Stitches Used:
·         Magic Ring – method for minimizing the hole created by the first round.  A tutorial may be found here:              How to use a Magic Ring
·         SC – single crochet
·         Dec2sc tog – Decrease 2 single crochet together

          Using main color
Rnd 1: Create a ring using the magic ring method and 8 sc Place stitch marker into the first stitch on each round, continue to move stitch marker into the first stitch made to help you know where the next round begins.
Rnd 2: Sc in the next sc, 2 sc in the next sc.  Repeat around.   (12 sc)
Rnd 3: Repeat Rnd 2 (18sc)
Rnd 4: Sc in next 2 sc, 2sc in next sc.  Repeat around.  (24 sc)
Rnd 5: Repeat round 4 (32 sc)
Rnd 6: Sc in the next 3sc, 2sc in the next sc.  Repeat around.  (40 sc)
Rnd 7-16: Sc in each sc around. (40 sc)
Rnd 17: Sc in the next 3sc, dec2sc tog.  Repeat around. (32 sc)
Rnd 18: Sc in the next 2sc, dec2sc tog.  Repeat around.  (24 sc)
Rnd 19: Sc in the next 2sc, dec2sc tog.  Repeat around.  (18 sc)
Rnd 20: Sc in the next sc, dec2sc tog.  Repeat around.  (12 sc)

Start Stuffing, place eyes in the desired position and embroider on the mouth using Contrast Color 3. 

Arms and Hair – Using Contrast Colors 1 & 2       
          This is totally up to your preference.  For the arms I cut 6 lengths of both colors that were twice the distance from the center of my chest to my fingertips.  Three strands of each color were put of either side of the face.  To attach the strands I used a larger crochet hook.  Fold the three pieces of yarn in half.  Pick the spot for the first arm and push the larger hook through and pull the folded loop through the body.  Bring the tail through the loop and pull tightly.  Braid the arms with one strand of each color in each of the three sections.  Braid to the end and tie an overhand knot to secure the end and trim.  Repeat for the second side.

          For the hair cut the desired number of piece and attach around the crown in the same manner as the arms.

Rnd 21: Sc in the next sc, dec2sc tog.  Repeat around. (8 sc)

Finish stuffing and dec2sc tog till closed.
Weave in ends and begin hugging!!!!

This Pattern is for personal use only, Please don't sell the pattern.  Please contact me for permission to sell the finished product. Thank-you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A shiny sink makes everything better

Tonight was Halloween!
     This was Ben's second but Alex's first. Ben was so much more into it this year. He walked hand in hand with his cousins up to each door and held up his basket. Each time he would come running back to me with a big smile! The glee in his heart reminded me of how simple life is for him. He loves to be surrounded by his cousins, and is happiest when he has a sippy cup full of milk and his monkey by his side. He seemed amazed that with every new door he approached the strangers inside would repeat the same actions. And with a big smile I got to see me little big boy gain an understanding of the magic of the night. Laden down with a heavy basket of goodies we returned home to Nanny's house to crash from exhaustion.

     My little boy, who isn't so little at almost 35 inches tall is growing up so fast and will tomorrow be starting a new chapter in his life. About a month ago, Ben was diagnosed with being severely delayed in both his speech and cognitive abilities. This was a very difficult thing for me to hear. I knew that something wasn't right; he didn't speak, didn't seem to care if other people were around... He was just different. A mother always knows. So Ben was evaluated and found to be very behind... At the 6-9 month level, the same level as his little brother. Tomorrow Ben has his very first appointment with his speech teacher. I have so much anxiety wrapped up around this visit. Will the house be clean enough, will she notice the dirt under Ben's nails, will she determine that Ben is behind solely because of inadequate parenting??? I know that she is coming here to help Ben, not to judge me. But I can't help my mind going there.
     In the end, no matter what this woman thinks of me, I know I am doing the right thing. This can only help him. Plus, as I said at the beginning of this, a shiny sink makes everything better. How can you stay in a bad mood when there is a pretty, shiny surface staring back at you!!!!