Monday, November 30, 2009

Ornaments, family style

Baked Salt Dough Ornaments

Do not eat the "cookies", which taste REALLY bad. Just ask Eric. Heehee. (In my defense I told him what was in it and that it would taste awful before he tried it.)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water

Mix ingredients together and knead. Roll out flat and stamp with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased sheet and bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees (F). You could let them just dry out like play dough but that would take too long and I'm impatient.

After the ornaments are finished cooling lay out paints and brushes and give the kids painting shirts. Have fun! Oh, and butcher paper or newspaper would also be a pretty good idea. Just sayin'.

We have bought 4 little trees for the kids' bedrooms and they'll get to decorate them with their own special ornaments. I helped paint for Keith since he was still napping but everyone else painted their own and we had a ball. The kids ended the evening covered in paint (hence the painting shirts) but it all washes off the kids easily enough so that's okay.

The painting in the living room is finally finished. Yay! Yay! Yay! (Not that I'm relieved or anything). I have the garland up on the staircase and the tree will go up this week. Then I will have pictures of the painting and Christmas all rolled into one because it's, um, more efficient that way. Yes, that is the real reason and it has nothing to do with the toy tornado that ripped through the house this weekend...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Made my morning!

I was over at GreyStreetGirl's site this morning and she pointed out one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. They have actually translated most of the bible into lolcat speak over at Oh, and I want this shirt!

Here is an excerpt from Genesis 1:

Boreded Ceiling Cat makinkgz Urf n stuffs

1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

Why are you still here? Go check it out!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's almost time

My favorite holiday is almost upon us and I don't mean Thanksgiving (with a working single mom we just had mac n' cheese for Turkey Day more than once anyway). But Christmas is another matter all together. It's about family and being together. It's about those very pretty lights and childhood memories that warm me up on a cold gray day. About that incredibly annoying chirping bird Christmas ornament that we all love to hate and the bubble lights that I could watch for hours. And all of those great Christmas traditions that I need to pass on to my own kids.

For years mom made Lee and I a doll each Christmas (the clowns above and the pink and blue dolls below) and I think I'd like to find a pattern for Erin this year. Instead of putting names on individual stockings my parents put everyone's presents in one giant stocking and then a scrap of paper taped to the mantel with names on the style of paper that was ours. We then dumped it all out together and started digging into the pile for the matching paper that wrapped up gum, jacks, and silly putty.

Now as an adult I'm wondering what happened. Christmas was magic and memories and now it's scheduling and negotiating. I am probably going to have 4 different Christmas gatherings with family this year (at home with the kids, with mom, with dad, and with E's family) and it makes me a little sad. I want my kids to have the magic that is Christmas and Christmaspalooza just feels lacking in the spirit of it somehow, never mind that part of it may not happen until February between one parent's trip and another's surgery. Is it still Christmas if it happens in Feb. because it doesn't feel like it...

I don't know. Maybe once I get the tree up on Friday I will be able to find the Christmas spirit in all of it because I want my magic back.

And these happy little faces are going to get their magic and tradition because childhood has no do-overs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boo on Walmart's color matcher

I normally use Walmart paint. It's a lot cheaper (only $13 per gallon) and it has generally held up well but on occasion it's very frustrating. Like this week.

We picked out two colors of blue for the living room. This room (including the attached entry way and halls) is using 8 gallons of paint. Seriously. 8 GALLONS. Anyway, we got a couple of sample cans to figure out where we want the lighter blue and where we want the dark blue. We picked one large wall and the upstairs hallway for the dark blue. Well it turns out that when mixing the quart cans Walmart's fandeck match is correct and we get the right blue. When mixed in gallons, rather than say it can't do that, it makes purple.

The red circle is the gallon size, the blue circle the quart size. Do they look like the same color to you? Because apparently WalMart thinks they're the same.

Unfortunately we had already painted the upstairs hallway (don't mind the bad cut-in or the unfinished picture in the middle) by the time we discovered this (thinking it would dry differently) so as you can see the room now has a purple wall. Dammit!

So now we have to either buy 8 quarts instead of two gallons (at a really stupid price) or go try the color matcher somewhere else since I already had the room cut in with the right blue and I am NOT climbing up a 20' ladder for 2 hours again. In the meantime my living room looks like a serious bomb went off. Argh!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thoughts of Snow (and some Beaded Snowflakes)

I was in love with snow. I was. For many years I lived in Oregon, in the Willamette Valley, which is absolutely beautiful because it's so green and alive. It's so green because it rained all the time and while living there I desperately wished for a little snow to change things up a bit in the winters. We hung crafted snowflakes from our ceilings every year (they were ginormous) and my mother said that they were our "snow prayers". I wore a necklace all winter long with a snowflake charm on it and I waited. And when the water would finally freeze into those rare fluffy bits I would go outside and enjoy how beautiful it was and dance in the snow.

Now that I live in Nevada I get snow in the winter, every winter, and somewhere in the 6+ years I've been here I started to not love the snow. I've been very unfond of being stuck in it and the accident on the ice (my poor truck). I was stuck thinking "it's cold and wet and when will it be summer already?". And then a couple of weeks ago I remembered that I loved snow. And it's all starting to come back. So this year I will hang my snow prayers from the ceiling and when it finally snows I will be outside dancing in it. Join me?

I've also included a quick DIY how-to for Beaded Snowflakes. These are very simple to make with beads and wire and the pictures truly don't do justice to how lovely they are when they catch the sunlight.

First you start with the wire. I believe this is around 20 gauge but unfortunately the spool isn't labeled anymore so I'm not positive. The important thing is that whatever wire you pick must fit through your beads and be strong enough to hold them up. For an 8 pointed star (pictured above) you will need 4 wires each about 7 inches long. For a 6 pointed star (pictured in blue at the bottom) only 3 wires are needed.

Using a thinner wire (I used 26 gauge for this) wrap the middle of the thicker wires together until they don't move around much. This doesn't have to be neat as it can add a little extra visual interest and look like another bead. At this point the wires can still slide sideways but once we add the beads and twist the ends that won't happen anymore.

Here's a closeup of the middle:

Start adding your beads. Try to use a few different sizes/colors to mix it up a little and add some interest.

When you get to the end of the wire use a pair of round nosed pliers to round off the leftover wire. This will also give you a place to insert string to hang the snowflake.

Here is an example of a simple six-pointed star. This project is also good for keeping little hands busy though you may have to help them make the original form since it can be a little tricky to wrap the thinner wire while holding the 4 thicker wires in place.

Add a little ribbon and your creations are now ready to adorn your tree, catch some light in the windows, or hang from the ceiling as you wish for new snow.

Let me know if you make these as I'd love to see what you've done.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What if your name wasn't your name?

With the passing of my last grandparent recently I've had grandparents on my mind a lot. This man here was my mother's father, Louie Glen. Grandpa was a farmer in Oregon and my mother was raised on that farm. We all spent a lot of time there and one thing we learned is that there is nothing like a potato soup when the potatoes and everything else is fresh picked. Yum. We also learned to look at the back of the lettuce leaf and not just the front when checking for slugs. I think my little sister may still have a little slug stuck in her teeth...

When Grandpa was born his own grandfather had wanted him to be named George Washington since he already had a family tree named after this countries fore fathers (Thomas Jefferson, etc) and also because this baby was born on Independence Day. His mother, however, said no. This baby was to be named Louie Glen and, after what is suspected to have been some argument, he gave in and let it be. Or so she thought.

When my grandpa was getting along in age it occurred to him that he should get a social security card. His mother was still alive and doing so while she was still here would make it a little easier. The paperwork was filled out and sent off but instead of a social security number he received a letter. It said that a baby boy had been born to the people he said are his parents on the day he said he was born. BUT his name was NOT Louie Glen. Upon further investigation he discovered that his grandfather had filled out his birth certificate more than 60 years ago and named him George Washington. All of these years he had been going by this name, raised his children (and given one the middle name of Glen) and run his business and had never known that his name wasn't really his name. Now, because of the business, he had his name legally changed to Louie Glen. My middle child is named for him and my uncle (who passed shortly before Glenn was born) and I think it a little funny that he was named for someone who wasn't really named that for most of his life.

What would you do if you discovered your name wasn't really your name? Would you change it to what you thought it was? Leave it? If you have to change it anyway would you pick something new?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Always trouble when those two are together...

I've known "Mackey" for as long as I can remember. She has always been my mother's best friend and my other mother. She never had her own children and the joke is that she spent a couple months living with us while my mother was in another state for training and that after that she didn't want kids anymore. Well, it was mostly a joke.

It was not safe to let her and my mother go anywhere without supervision as they always got into some kind of trouble, some of which it's probably not safe to mention even here. ;-) Once they went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and didn't come home until several hours later after arresting the store owner for selling liquor to minors (they were both law enforcement).

When I was around age 10ish my mother decided that she wanted to build a garden with a rock wall. To do this she needed a lot of flat and wide rocks and she knew just which mountain to get them on. So she loaded up my little sister and I into the back of the Ford Ranger pickup truck (the bed, not back of the cab) and she and Mackey jumped into the front and off we went. At that time of year it was still snowing up there and the snow was a couple feet high in some places. She drove to the top of this mountain and turned around the truck. Then my little sister and I got out and put down the tailgate. She drove down the mountain at about 3-5 miles per hour as Lee and I ran behind grabbing snowy rocks (with our bare, unmittened hands) and tossing them into the back of the truck. Our hands were freezing and red but we did this for miles.

Eventually deciding that a ton of rock was enough (in a half-ton pickup, mind you) she allowed us to get back into the bed of the truck to ride back down the mountain. We were now sitting on a large pile of cold wet rocks with no heater. So we begged. We asked mom and Mackey to let us sit up front but the seat was only meant for 3 and so they said no. But we kept pounding on the window at regular intervals and asking again. Eventually we wore them down and they allowed us to get in the front.

We started down the mountain again and Lee and I started warming up. Then I noticed something funny on the hood. There was an orange spot on the hood of our green truck. And it was growing. I asked my mother why the hood was turning orange and she whipped the truck off the road and hit the brakes so fast I was wishing we'd had a fourth seat belt. She commanded us to immediately get out of the truck and run to the tree line as apparently the brakes were now on fire.

Mom and Mackey knew not to open the hood as they would only be feeding the fire a better supply of oxygen. But they had coffee cups and they threw the coffee up under the wheel well to try and douse the flames. Up in the trees Lee and I found a couple of discarded 7-11 cups and we ran down to use them to scoop up puddle water to help with the flames. We managed to put out the fire but now we were stranded on a snowy mountain, miles from help and behind the forest service gates, with a broken truck. And it was freezing and getting later in the afternoon.

Luckily a man came by on his bicycle. What he was doing up there I'll never know. My mother tried to yell to get his attention as he went right on by. Then she changed to yelling some very colorful words... As he got a few hundred feet past us he turned around and looked back. Then my mother recognized him as someone she had arrested a few months back (not sure what for). He hadn't responded because he's deaf and hadn't heard her yelling. He came back and we managed to communicate that we needed help and he should go to the forest service station for help.

Well, the station was closed (being a weekend) but I guess he managed to get a hold of someone who tried to call out the ranger on duty. Unfortunately, that was my mother who, of course, couldn't be reached. So they called the sheriff, who was my step-father. He had started to worry a couple hours ago when we hadn't returned on time like we were supposed to. Now he got a call about two women and a couple of children stranded on a mountain with a truck that had caught fire.

When he arrived the expressions he went through were completely priceless. At first he was all business. His face said "I'm the sheriff and I'm in charge here". Then he saw us. His face turned to immediate worry as he realized it was us and wanted to make sure everyone was okay. Then he saw that we were okay and his face turned to rage with an exclamation of "What the hell did you do to my truck!?!".

It turned out later that the brake pads for that year of Ranger pickup could be put in backwards and the shop had done just that. My mother swears that this is the reason that the truck caught on fire and not because she was driving down a mountain while carrying a ton of rock in a half-ton pickup and riding the brakes. I'll let you decide. Either way, we refused to help in any of her later rock wall projects.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Owl and Elephant collage

I found this idea from Martha Stewart's website via Mod Podge Rocks. The instructions are actually for taking paper and Mod Podging it onto a piece of wood. I instead used textured paper for the entire collage (including the backing) and then used an 8x8 frame. And I used plain old Elmer's glue. They are a beginning to livening up the first section of the kid's bathroom (This is just the sink area. The toilet and shower are behind another door).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Unhappy or Dissatisfied?

There's blog I used to read fairly often, before it ever occurred to me to make my own blog and regularly follow others, that I had forgotten about. So I looked in on his blog today (and added it to my follow list) and came across a very interesting post (here) on the difference between being unhappy and being dissatisfied.

To partially quote Ed:

An unhappy person is:
* Grumpy or agitated: unhappy people bitch.
* Needy: unhappy people take from those around them.
* Mopey: unhappy people suck the energy out of a room.

A dissatisfied person:
* Sees something that’s not how it should be
* Doesn’t want to accept that the problem exists


Unhappiness causes you to miss out on being present. Here’s the thing: you can be dissatisfied and still be happy. Being unhappy causes you to focus on yourself- on your own lack of happiness or whatever it is you’re bitching about, and meanwhile the whole happy, amazing, wonderful world of possibilities goes on without you. You can be a dissatisfied person and still appreciate that world, take part it in and receive what it has to offer.

Go here to read the rest of what he said. It will definitely give you something to think on.