Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Check In

Costumes completed!


This morning I made the Satchel Bag for Jack, finishing it minutes before leaving for our playgroup's Halloween Party.

Isn't it funny how all the little kids are looking every which way? They had no clue what they were doing there, but I was pleased with how well they were sitting. I wished I'd had my voice to tease them into some smiles, but it's still fun to see them doing their own things.

Here are the boys with our homeschooling-neighbor friends.

The Monkey costume is from Old Navy. I was in charge of the other four costumes... getting Amy's help with the gloves and hats for the two Ash costumes, and teaching her while making the Witch. That was sure a lot of sewing to get through!

I'm most pleased with Jack! He looks so stinkin' cute in his Indiana Jones costume!

I bought each of the boys a surprise accessory which was waiting for them this morning... A Light-Up Crystal Skull for "Indy" and Pikachu for The Pokemon Trainer! I told Tom that "costumes are all about accessories... what's Vader without his chest box, belt or light saber?" Tom smirked.

Even with the $15-20 each on the boys "accessories" I made both costumes for under $50. We couldn't have bought one of these costumes for that price! I'm so pleased with myself... and modest too!!! ;P

Frank was so happy with his Pikachu!

I'll get some better costume pictures of the boys a little later, especially all the details that you can't see here on Jack's costume, but for now, I thought I'd share the beginnings of our fun Halloween. :D

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Update from the Nearly-Mute Girl

I'm feeling better still today... not so congested.

Tom took yesterday off, but today he's not had ANY calls... so, he's been able to spend the whole day playing on the computer... I mean resting!

Jack and Frank seem to be fine. Hard to keep tabs on their rambunctiousness while nearly Mute myself.

As of this morning, I've finished sewing FOUR Halloween costumes (pictures of all the kiddos will come after they wear them tomorrow) and am about 1/4 done on the second sock to make my FIRST PAIR of socks.

Also, I made my family's Zucchini Brownies Recipe and mixed in some chips / Reese's Pieces. They all sank to the bottom! My neighbor told me I should bake 1/2 the batter for 5-10 minutes, and then sprinkle the goodies on, and top with rest of the batter. I guess every so often, I need to have a cooking attempt flop! Oh well! You live and learn and they still taste good.

I'd thought about carving our pumpkin this afternoon, but it's a VERY tall and skinny pumpkin and I just don't feel like I have the energy at the moment, so, we'll see!

How did October get over? I have so many fun Halloween-y things to do and I did so few of them. I never even got out my Halloween decorations, and I know right where they are and I can reach them... it just didn't happen. And quilting, I have plenty of projects to do for Halloween that involve sewing... but wait, I did sew, and sew, and sew! Costumes times four kids! Se-la-vi (did I spell that right).

Oh yeah, and today's Heather's birthday! I hope you're having a GREAT DAY!


Suzy :D

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Recipe - A Couple O’ Bowls of Chicken Soup

Since we've been feeling yucky, I've come up with this Delightful Little Diddy. It's Just Enough Soup for the day, without making you feel like you'll be eating soup all week... even if you will! I know it's simple, but I'm just delighted by my discovery of it and wanted to share with you, for when those inevitable sniffles come. This is simple and quick enough that you can make it even when you feel like... well, when you don't feel well!

A Couple O’ Bowls of Chicken Soup

This is simple and quick enough to make, even when you’re not feeling well. When you’re not feeling great, this makes “just enough” soup, without having buckets of leftovers! I use leftover chicken and pasta if I have them, otherwise, I use frozen components. If your chicken is seasoned, you won’t need as many of the extra spices.

4 c water*
4 t chicken bouillon
1 chicken breast
½ c carrots (frozen) or other veggie
1 t parsley, dried
2 t onions, dried chopped
1/8 t celery salt
1 pinch garlic powder
2 pinches ginger powder (thanks to Celise's comment!)
4 oz pasta (dried)

1. Put water and bouillon in sauce pan on high heat; bring to a boil.
2. Using microwave, defrost frozen chicken breast just until it's soft-frozen, then cut into small bits (or cut up cooked meat). Drop it in the pot.
3. Add veggies of choice and seasoning to taste.
4. Bring to boil again.
5. Slowly add pasta. Return to boil. Cook however long your pasta calls for.

1. When I use broken (chopped) angel hair pasta, this feels like a Hearty “Lipton Cup O’ Noodles”.
2. Substitute rice or barley for the pasta.
3. Add another cup or two of water (plus bouillon) for when you need the broth, or just go easy on the pasta/carbs!

* We save our vegetable broth (from whatever veggies we eat) in the freezer. If you have veggie broth, you may substitute it for the water.

2-3 Servings
Prep: 5 min, cook 10-20 min (depending on the type of pasta)

Let me know if you try this and how you like it. :D

PS: The "egg yolk looking things" in the bowl are sliced carrots! :D

From the Sick House

We've all been under-the-weather for over a week now. Here's the Doctors' Reports:
  • Jack - Double Ear Infections on Antibiotics for 6 days now. Says he "feels not good" if you ask him, but I think that's mostly for the attention. ;)
  • Frank - Spider Bite at Dorsum of Nose... needs more aggressive treatment to keep infection away from donor bone (also at the bridge of his nose). Begin taking antibiotic for 14 days. Frank chose PILLS (over liquid). Here's hoping he does well with learning to swallow them (if not, we can crush and put in applesauce). If nose is not improving in 3 days, we'll need a CAT Scan to check the bone. If it's not cleared in 2 weeks, we'll see Dr and probably have imaging done.
  • Suzy - Sinus Infection. Trouble speaking (yesterday I spent most of the day Mute, using Baby Signs, Wild Gestures, and Floor Stomping to communicate with the boys). Begin antibiotic for 5 days.
  • Tom - Throwing up whole way home (2 hour drive) yesterday. Home sick from work today. Sipping Coke, Peppermint Tea with Honey and Homemade Chicken Soup (mostly broth).
  • Internet - Main line is down. Local company has a specialist in working on it. They don't know when we'll have reliable service again! :P
So. How are you feeling?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recipe - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I was reading a blog requesting muffin recipes. So far I've only tried one, but we are LOVING IT! Here is my HIGH ALTITUDE Adaptation of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with High Altitude Adjustments
Oct 2008
Regular IngredientsHigh Altitude Adjustments
4 eggs4 eggs
2 cups white sugar2 cups LESS 2 T sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin15 oz can pumpkin

2 T water
1-½ cups vegetable oil1-3/8 cup oil
3 cups all-purpose flour3 cups PLUS 2 T flour
2 teaspoons baking soda2 t baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder1-¾ t baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*1 t pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon salt1 t salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips1-2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (410 degrees F). Lightly grease two 12 cup muffin pans, or line with paper baking cups.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, and mix in the sugar, pumpkin and oil.

4. Blend flour mixture into the egg and pumpkin mixture.

5. Fold in the chocolate chips (I use about 1 to 1½ cups). Transfer to the muffin pans.

6. Bake in the preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pans, and cool on a wire rack.

* To make your own pumpkin pie spice equivalent to the 1 tsp the recipe asks for add: 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and a pinch ground cloves.
If you try this, please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crusing through the Holidays with FLYLady

If you haven't heard about FLYLady from me before, prepare yourself!

FLY stands for "Finally Loving Yourself". FLYLady teaches you about organizing. Organizing what? Your home, your life, your family, your mind and even your body! She does this in a fun and encouraging way.

One of my favorite things about FLYLady is her "Cruising Through the Holidays" plan. Basically, she starts you in October with preparing for your Holiday Celebrations. The goal is to be ready for whatever you celebrate by December 1st, so, you can pretend you are "going on a cruise" December 1st and arriving home the night before your special holiday... and everything is ready and in place.

I discovered FLYLady in 2003. I have yet to get *everything* ready by December 1st, but, I've certainly been getting more done each year and in a calmer way.

The Cruise Program started this week. I invite you all to join me in preparing to Cruise Through the Holidays. Go check out her website, and maybe even sign up for the encouraging, helpful emails. I'll see you on board! :D

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For... Keith!

What you are about to see DEFINITELY falls under the "Be careful what you ask for!" Mantra.

Our Incredible Friend, Keith, was recently released from the Hospital in Massachusetts. He went in for a "simple" back surgery in July and FINALLY, last week, (this is October folks - JUST THREE MONTHS after going in for "about a week") was able to go home.

I blame what you are about to see on the fact that Keith is still in a frequent, drug-induced-delirium. {He's probably bored too.}

Keith mentioned it.

Tom created it.

I'm just the messenger here, folks!

Here, by request, is "Jack with a Goatee!"

I don't know. I just don't SEE any of Tom in Jack.

Do you?


Jack IS His Father's Son.

There has never been any doubt about that. This just helps to confirm what we've all known (and at times feared). Tom has replicated. He always says "a little chunk of him broke off and is starting to grow."

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

"Luke... I am you're..." Oh! Never mind!

"Some things are just better left to nature to occur on their own."

I think facial hair on a three year old falls into this category.

PS: The Three-Year-Old Facial Hair was Photoshopped in, not drawn on the person himself. :D

Costume Update - Indiana Jones Coat

So. Since I constantly hear Jack wandering around "singing" the Indiana Jones Theme Song, I decided to offer up to him the option of being Indy for Halloween. Of course, he jumped on it!

He already has an Indy-Like hat, plus a whip (Tom made out of a piece of rope to stop Jack from hitting things with his leather belt). Pants aren't a problem. I still need to find a plain button-up shirt. The "biggie" was the coat. I decided to find a leather coat at a thrift store and then to make a satchel out of some canvas/denim-type fabric. Here's the main reference picture I'm using for the project...

Here's the leather coat I found at a Goodwill in California.

I paid just $5 for the coat! As you can see... it's big enough to fit me (and I did think about keeping it for me, because it's a nice coat!) Instead, I found Jack's "Lumberjack" Fleece Coat.

Which is a little big for him (that's okay though, if I'm going to the work of making him a leather coat, it would be nice if it fit more than a year!)

Here's a reference of the Lumberjack coat that I made the pattern off of, and the Leather coat to be cut up. As you can see, it looks like there will be plenty of material!

Before cutting anything out, I removed the front placket, zipper, collar, cuffs, and waistband.

This should give you an idea of how the pattern pieces are cut out of the coat.

Then. I started cutting.

Foolish me, today, I started sewing but didn't take any pictures of the pieces pre-assembly!

Yesterday, I watched my friend's kids for something like 7 or 8 hours. Today, she took my boys for 5 so I could sew. She's also planning to watch them again tomorrow morning. Here's what I accomplished so far today...

Shoulder seams, collar, zipper, armhole seams, fake pocket flaps.

Indy's coat has patch pockets with flaps. The coat I'm using had side-seam entry to it's pockets. I cut the front pieces so that I could use the existing pockets. I had everything else done today and Tom came in. I ask his opinion on adding the fake pocket flaps. As you can see...

...we decided I should put them on.

The pocket flaps "only" took about 1 1/2 hours to design, sew, and attach (my one broken needle (so far) happened while attaching the first pocket flap).

I was going to modify the collar to a smaller, size, but decided to use the original, and just enlarge the neck-line. I've never seen it before, but the collar had an extra "facing?" piece on it... I'll have to get a better picture.

In any case, it made modifying the original collar shape a very challenging prospect, so, I just used it as it was. Which means it has a nicer patina and character and all the original stitching on the points... which I like.

Here's a snapshot of the inside of the coat. I've labeled some of the parts, to make it easier to see what's what.

I found several things about the original interesting, and I'm trying to recreate them. One thing was that they snipped the armhole seams to ease the leather before topstitching. I did that too, but whenever a seam intersected, I just let that area lay straight, instead of folding it back and creating a lot of bulk.

Tomorrow, I'll sew the side seams, finish the lining, attach the lining, waistband, turn it right-side-out, hand sew lining, topstitch zipper facing down.

I'm very pleased with how all of this is going! So much so, I think I'll ask Tom to make dinner and I'll head back up to My Studio! :D

Monday, October 20, 2008

Knitting - Sassy Stripes Sock for Suzy

I JUST finished the FIRST sock of my first pair of knitted socks!

{Yeah Me!}

I'm making them for myself. I started this last November. Yes. It's slow going. But. Now that I've finished this, and done much more knitting in the process, and have some
wonderful, delicious new yarns (from my trip to California) I'm far more motivated to finish the second sock and get working on other projects.

I'm delighted with what I've accomplished so far...

This is a little taller than my "usual" socks... but actually, I should say than my "Arizona" socks, because last winter I discovered that I needed taller "boot" socks for my riding and snow boots. So, I made this sock the same height as the boot socks I started wearing for Wyoming.

This uses Moda Dea Sassy Stripes Yarn, colors 6946 Crush (red/pink variegated) and 6930 Stormy (gray/white toe). It uses the Knitted Socks pattern LM0131 by Grace Alexander, with a few modifications of my own (at the cuff and the heel).

When I started this sock, I'd only "successfully" worked one scarf... and two other "flop" projects. This knitting thing for me has been self-taught, primarily using and occasionally stopping in the local knitting shop when I have a question I can't figure out on my own.

If I can do this, so can you!

Although, I've discovered (from talking with other knitters) that it is best to learn to Crochet (something else I taught myself (before the web, so from a book)) first, and then pick up knitting second. Something about the flow of them, if you learn knitting first, crocheting is near impossible to do.

Any yarn-crafters out there want to second this?

Which skill did you learn first?

How did you learn to do it?

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Few Free Things I've Found

BofA Giving Away Free Doses of Culture in 2008
With a
Bank of America Card, you can access Museums free on the first Weekend of every month in 2008.

Staples helps you Help Your Pocketbook AND The Environment!

Staples offers a $3 store credit for each printer cartridge you turn in for recycling.

You simply take in the cartridges along with a Staples Reward Card (like a membership card at a grocery store... there is no charge, you just fill out a form). Periodically (once per quarter, I think) you will receive a Rebate Check (Coupon) good at Staples. You may only turn in three cartridges per day per day per card.

Even if you only turn in one cartridge a month, you'll wind up with $9 back each quarter or $36 per year... which is nothing to sneeze at!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Delicious Dinner

Yesterday I started cooking dinner at one in the afternoon. I continued working on it until it went on the table at 6:45. I was on my feet from the time my friend arrived to help at 3, until 6:45. Today I'm sore and tired, but the dinner was DELICIOUS! Here's our Menu:

Actually, the dinner was so delicious, that even thought the pie looked amazing, we still haven't tasted it. After lunch we'll cut into it! ;)

Here's the recipe for the Au Jus & Roast:

Au Jus ala Jessica
by Jessica Cecrle

Summer 2007


1. Rub generous amounts of salt & pepper into roast.

2. Roast in oven 2-3 hours low heat (250 F' ish) to internal temperature of 145F.

3. Once the roast reaches about 145F, remove from the oven, be careful not to overcook this roast. (It's easy to do!) It should be a little pink when it comes from the oven because it will continue to cook a bit more on it's own. Let sit 10-20 minutes.

4. Thinly slice the meat (which will still be a bit pink – if it's too pink, just warm it a little in an oven),

5. Melt 2 T butter over medium-low heat. Add onions. Sauté slowly, adding more butter as needed until onions caramelize. At the end, add Mushrooms to onions or cook mushrooms separately.

6. Use drippings plus water to make Au Jus sauce according to directions on bottle.

Serving Suggestions:

1. Serve over steamed white rice.

2. Serve with Asparagus or other fresh green veggie.

8-10 Servings

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A little something fun.

I found this little video "EepyBird's Sticky Note Experiment" on Thoughtstream's Blog.

It made me smile.

I thought I'd share!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Freemotion Quilting

I was just reading a comment on Amanda Jean's Blog, Crazy Mom Quilts, and it got me to thinking about taking classes to learn things. I've never been big on taking quilting classes... mostly, I figure it out on my own, with books, the internet, or for a while from Videos of Simply Quilts. In a nutshell, here's what I think about what you need to "do" to learn how to Freemotion Quilt.
  • Lower your Feeddogs (if you can, if not, cover them with something like a piece of plastic).
  • Be willing to play with your tension to "get it right"
  • A stippling foot (either clear plastic or metal shapped like a letter "C") will help TONS!
  • A pair of gloves with Rubber Grips is VERY HELPFUL.
  • Get your brain past the fact that you have to rev your sewing machine engine, but move your hands slowly.
Maybe take some junk fabric and do some practice pieces, and then donate them to your local animal shelter... the biggest thing about machine quilting is PRACTICE!

That's all I can think of. Does anyone else have any ideas on Freemotion Quilting, or Tips that Help Them? Do Share! :D

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Productive Day

I like it when I have productive days. Today was one, even though, by the end of it, I've realized that just like Jack (Saturday) and Frank (this morning), I'm coming down with a head-cold. Now. As far as The Law of Attraction, I TOTALLY called these colds too us... about four days ago I found myself thinking "it's pretty amazing (considering how busy we've been) that none of us has been sick on this trip." Then I thought "I'm glad that we're all feeling well though." So, whether the thought brought the colds, or I just recognized that we were all completely run down, I knew we were about to be sick.

Even with colds all-around today, here's what I accomplished:
  • Made bed (easy)
  • Sorted LOTS of laundry with Jack's help
  • Washed, Dried, and Put away 3 loads with 1 more still drying (remember, my machine does about 2 to 2.5 "normal" loads... for example, one of my "permanent press" loads had 23 articles!)
  • Unpacked and putaway all contents and suitcases - THREE suitcases worth.
  • Unpacked another large shopping bag.
  • Made Well Visit Appointment for Frank (actually, made it last Spring, but the Pediatrician left town, so I had to find another doctor and make a new appointment).
  • Packaged and shipped two boxes to my Aunt.
  • *Forgot* to pick up the mail at the Post Office when shipping the boxes... picking up our held mail was the whole reason we'd gone out! Whoops!!!
  • Researched Halloween Costumes. Looks like I'll be sewing:
    1. Jack - Indiana Jones Pouch & Leather Coat
    2. Frank - Ash (Pokemon Trainer) Shirt & Hat & Gloves
    3. Jacob - Ash (Pokemon Trainer) Shirt & Hat & Gloves (I'll just cut and sew these at the same time, Jacob's a size smaller, so, I'll probably serge a bigger seam allowance to make his a touch smaller).
    4. Ariana - Witches Costume - My neighbor friend wants to learn to sew and her daughter wants to be a witch. Mom doesn't want a "normal" tunic witch with a green face. She wants something cute and spunky. The costume she likes is quite pricey ($70). So. Desire + Deadline = Perfect teaching opportunity.
  • Had School Bookwork Time with Frank
  • Cleaned out the boys' clothes. This was a biggie for me! It included:
    Eliminating a whole laundry basket of size 3.
    Loaning another basket full of size 6 clothes to Jacob.
    Emptying four boxes (with smiley faces).

    Sorting "keep" clothes by size and season, then folding and storing in smiley face boxes, with labels.
    Sorting through four pair of cowboy boots to find a pair for Jack and one for Jacob to wear.
    Hanging up all the new winter clothes I just bought and/or had on-hand.

  • Dishes
  • Garbage
  • Visited with neighbor for an hour.
  • Watched Pokemon movie with boys - TWICE! (We weren't feeling well).
  • Editing and uploading at least 2 dozen photos to have printed for Aunt Lou.
  • Called and talked with my Mom.
Through it all, I had a congested/drippy nose, developed a tender throat, AND used my Xopenex inhaler three (or four) times... I've used it more in the past two days than the last six months. Not liking that and trying to determine what the stimulus is that's causing my airway to constrict. :P

I *guess* that about does it for today!


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Quotes and Thoughts about "HOME"

So, on the drive back to Wyoming I REALLY resisted referring to our new house as "Home". I called in "our house" or "back in Wyoming", but my heart aches at the thought of calling this "Home." Which confuses me, for, I certainly want my boys to have a "home". I just think of MY home as being in Arizona.

By the way, we arrived back at 10:30 pm ... after JUST 14 hours on the road today!

In any case, being so tired from this trip, I wanted to get back to my own bed and my things. But my feeling of rest and home points me back to Arizona. Luckily, my Mom helped me paint a mural with a Sonoran theme. When I saw it I smiled and felt better... I also thought that I should put a heat lamp in the room it's in to make it feel more like a desert (the house was 67 and outside was almost down to 40.) Also, all around Shadona Central Speedway, I have Arizona paintings and pictures. Whenever my eyes rested on one of my Sonoran things, I smiled and felt better. At least I can keep pieces of my home around me.

In any case, I think some of these revelations came after searching out "home" quotes online. Here are some that I found:

  • "Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." – William Morris, 19th Century Designer
  • A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.- George Moore
  • The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes. - Harold B. Lee (1899 - 1973)
  • Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
    Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. - John Howard Payne (1791 - 1852)
  • My home is not a place, it is people. - Lois McMaster Bujold, "Barrayar", 1991
  • Every house where love abides
    And friendship is a guest,
    Is surely home, and home, sweet home
    For there the heart can rest. - -Henry Van Dyke
  • "Having some place to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing." – Unknown
  • "Home is a magical word - within that mystical circle are comforts and warmth never found outside it." – unknown
  • "Home is not where you live, but where they understand you." – Christian Morgenstern
  • "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." - Robert Frost
  • "Home is where there's someone to love, and someone to love us." – unknown

The quote that finally "hit home" (no pun intended) was this one:
  • "Home is where your favorite memories are." - Peter-Dirk Uys

and these followed closely behind it:
  • "Home is where your story begins" – Unknown
  • "Home is where one starts from." - T.S. Eliot
  • "May your home be a place where friends meet, family gathers and love grows." – UKNOWN
  • "Mighty proud I am that I am able to have a spare bed for my friends." - Samuel Pepys
  • "My home is where my books are." - Ellen Thompson 1909
  • "Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion." - Leigh Hunt

In any case, I've been pondering the simple little word "HOME" and what it means to us. It's strange how I resist using it because I just don't want to accept this Barren Wasteland as My Home...

So tell me, what does HOME mean to you?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Smallville Series Seven and Eight

Smallville… Last summer I was turned on to it. I watched all the seasons, stopping two episodes before the end of 6. I preordered Season 7 on Amazon and got it a few days before we left on our trip. Each evening, after putting the boys to bed, Tom and I watch an episode… this is the first season he’s watched; Tom saw just a few episodes, here-and-there, before this.

We've now finished a WHOLE season (7) of Smallville, in under three weeks. We accidentally watched the Season Finale last night... usually, we stop one or two episodes before the end of the season and wait for the next disk set to be released...we didn't realize disk 6 is all Extras.

So, this year, Amazon is offering the episodes one-by-one as they are released on TV for $2 each, or the whole season for $16. Tom and I are debating ordering the series on Amazon. It would be kind of fun to watch it week-by-week and be "up with the world" this year. Especially since I hear that this is likely the last Season. What do you think? Is Smallville worth $15 + $30 for the Amazon releases and the box-set? Or, do we wait eleven months to see and new Smallville? Remember, we don't have a TV to watch it on, so, it's Amazon or nothing...