Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One for Now and One for Later


My first foray into the whole freezer cooking thing. I felt like making enchiladas so I made two pans and am putting one in the freezer. Since this was a spur of the moment cooking adventure it wasn't as cost effective as if I'd planned my shopping to take advantage of the best deals but I had a lot of the ingredients on hand already.

Unfortunately, when I was trying to make a flat spot in my freezer to put my enchilada pan, I realized that I have a lot of random food items in my freezer that I should really use up. So the rest of my freezer cooking adventure is going to have to go on hold while I spend a couple weeks trying to use up the contents of my chest freezer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aprons, Aprons Everywhere


(An apron for my future SIL and a cute little matching pinafore apron for her daughter. )

So far this year I've made Christmas aprons for Grandma, Aunt L, Wonderful Crazy Aunt G, Honey's Aunt C, Cousin A's Texas themed Apron, Honey's BBQing Apron, a Gingerbread themed apron for my sister, and a gingerbread man apron for my nephew. And last night I finished my last aprons of the year. A set of mother and daughter aprons for my maybe future sister in law and her daughter. Future SIL has been trying to learn how to cook so I thought this would be a great present to encourage her and give her something pretty and homemade.


(a matched set of aprons I made for my sister and nephew. Hers is a basic apron with gingerbread print fabric and his is a little gingerbread man.)
Of course now that I've made all these aprons and the year is almost finished I realized the one person I didn't make an apron for this year is me. Oops. Guess that can be my first new years resolution.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I like cooking, sometimes, and the rest of the time I hate my kitchen with a passion. My husband laughs because one day he will come home to pot roast, veggies, homemade rolls, and cookies or brownies. However, the rest of the week we're eating hamburger helper or those skillet insta' dinners. Instead of continuing this feast or famine style of cooking, I'm going to try freezer cooking/once-a-month cooking. Hopefully, I can have a big cooking day when I feel like cooking, freeze a bunch of meals, and then just drop them in the oven on the nights I don't feel like cooking.

Unfortunately, I've had mixed experiences with recipes I get from the Internet so if I'm cooking really big (read expensive) batches of dinners I want to be sure the recipes are worth cooking. I got one book at the used book store - Linda Larsen's "Meals for a Month" and I have the "Super Suppers" Cookbook on hold at the Library. The book I have so far has some really good looking recipes in it. I'm having a hard time picking just 10 recipes to try first. They all look so yummy. I've seen the website for Super Suppers and they have some tasty looking dinners too but I'm too cheap to buy their dinners so I'll just try cooking their recipes at home :)

If anyone has any freezer recipes they've tried, liked and are willing to share, I'd appreciate it. Otherwise wish me luck with my new experiment and I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A poem I found on Craigslist

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
With no thought of the dog outside filling their head.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Knew he was cold, but didn’t care about that.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Figuring the dog was free and into the trash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of midday to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Santa Claus – his eyes full of tears.
He unchained the dog, once so lively and quick,
Last years Christmas present, now thin and sick.
More rapid than eagles he called the dog’s name.
And the dog ran to him, despite all his pain;
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Let’s find this dog a home where he’ll be loved by all”
I knew in an instant there would be no gifts this year,
For Santa Claus had made one thing quite clear,
The gift of a dog is not just for the season,
We had gotten the pup for all the wrong reasons.
In our haste to think of giving the kids a gift
There was one important thing that we missed.
A dog should be family, and cared for the same
You don’t give a gift, then put it on a chain.
And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight,
“You weren’t given a gift! You were given a life!”

—Author Unknown

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!!

Merry Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, and late Chanukah to everyone out there on the web!!! Blessings to you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday - Merry Christmas Eve

This Christmas Eve I am thankful for ...

1) Getting to spend Christmas Eve with family and Christmas day with family and friends
2) I finally finished my MIL's wall hanging (just in time)


3) Honey is home
4) Cuddling
5) Having a wonderfully white Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Watching Youtube to avoid Working

I'm supposed to be stitching around the letters in my MIL's wall hanging. I'm avoiding it. But in the process of avoiding my project I've found some really cool videos on YouTube :) The first video is actually my Belly Dance teacher at last year's New Years Eve Fire and Ice festival in Anchorage (I'm going this year and looked it up just for fun and came across her video). She's doing an improve fire poi dance. Sometime I dream of taking up fire poi, but then I remember two very important things. First I'm a klutz and second I like my hair. I have the feeling those two facts might be mutually exclusive if I add fire poi to the picture.

The second is the video for the FloBots' song "Handlebars." It's one of my favorite music videos but you have to pay attention to get the back and forth. I get all warm and fuzzy when a group uses their music to convey a message instead of just to get a paycheck.

Maybe I should get back to work now ... nah

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Very Domestic Solstice and Chicken Barley Soup

Today was a good day. I'm sitting at my computer, sipping raspberry herbal tea, smelling the wonderful soup I have simmering in the crock pot, and I can't help but think that today was a very good day. Honey got off work early and we were able to spend a couple hours just hanging out an watching silly cartoons. I got half-way done with the wall hanging I need to finish before Christmas for my MIL. I have my favorite soup in the crock pot. Honey cooked a wonderful dinner/mini-feast for us to share and then we performed our Yule ritual. As I said, A very good day.

(What I've accomplished so far on my MIL's wall hanging. I still need to put bias tape around the edges and get some brick red thread as the red parts are the only ones I still need to stich around)

My Favorite Chicken Barley Soup
(a big batch for putting up in the freezer)

- 5qt Crock Pot
- 4 large Chicken Breast Halves (boneless, skinless)
- 4 cans chicken broth
- 2 C Water
- 2/3 C pearl barley
- 1 Large Onion (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves minced (more if you like garlic)
- 4 large carrots (grated or shredded)
- 4 large celery stalks (chopped)
- 1/2 C chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 tsp ground celery seeds
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- salt to taste (optional)

combine all ingredients (except salt) in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 hr. Change to low and cook an additional 7-8 hrs.

Remove chicken breasts. When cool enough to handle cut into bite size pieces (usually they are soft enough for me to shred them with a fork). Return chicken to crock pot and cook an additional 20 min on high. Add salt if desired.

I always eat one bowl of soup to celebrate the completion of the batch and then divide the rest into freezer safe individual portion bowls. Let the soup cool in the fridge and then freeze. If you keep it in the fridge it only lasts 3-4 days but in the freezer it can last for months (but I like it so much it usually doesn't).

(My batch of soup all ready to go in the fridge and then the freezer)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pay-It-Forward Giveaway (Finally)

Now, that I have a working computer I am excited to start my own Pay-It-Forward Giveaway.

For those of you who might not be familiar with this type of crafty give away, let me explain. If you enter this giveaway you will receive something home made and crafty from me. Once I let you know that it is in the mail, you then get to start your own pay it forward giveaway on your blog and make three wonderful crafty things and send them to three readers of your blog who in turn start their own pay it forward giveaways. Basically, we are trying to cover the world in crafty goodness :)

A couple months ago I entered the Pay-It-Forward giveaway at Sara's blog Blessed Simplicity. She made me a wonderful fillet crocheted bookmark.
new camera 193

I wont say what I'm making for the pay-it-forward giveaway but I will say I already bought the fabric and I'm really excited to make them. If you are interested, post a comment letting me know and I'll contact the first three posters to get your addresses and such. I'll be honest and admit that it will probably take me a month or two to finish the crafty surprises once I have your information.

Thankful Thursday !!! I have a working computer again!!!

****Warning - Really Long Post - I have a lot to be thankful for ******

I have so many things to be thankful for this Thursday I'm having a hard time deciding where to start ...

- Honey is home. My honey got home at 1am Wed morning. And I can't stop grinning like a idiot.

- I have my computer back!!! I got so frustrated with the old broken down computer I decided it was time to take a few weeks off from the Internet but now I'm back!

- I have a ton of cookies from my families Cookie Party

- Last week Mom and I had a sewing night and I got a ton of stuff done.

- Dad and I got a ton of stuff done on the MIL apartment over the last couple weekends

- I can finally start my Pay-It-Forward give away since I have a reliable computer

- I made wonderful Chicken Barley soup tonight. (I always have a bunch of servings in the freezer for quick filling meals)

- Christmas Decorations

Monday, November 30, 2009

Make a Flake !!

I found a great website that lets you make your own paper cut snowflakes without all the mess and with an undo button when things don't come out quite like you envisioned :) Check out Make-a-Flake and make some snowflakes of your own

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Very Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday

This year I am most thankful for ...

-My wonderful honey. He's sweet, patient, cuddly, handsome, weird, funny, mine :)

-Being back in Alaska. You never think you'll miss -40 until you spend time +100

-Having my family nearby.

-Our wonderful, complicated, not-quite-finished new house

-All the help our family and friends have given us toward finishing our house

-Belly Dance and Jazzercise classes

-Titlewave Books

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Computer is Possesed ... Or Just Really Freaking OLD

I've been using our old laptop as MY shiny new laptop is in GA with honey (that's how he knows I love him). This laptop dates from honey's days in the barracks and has been dropped off an armored vehicle (or two) so it's not surprising that it has some issues. Mostly we've learned to work around them on the rare occasion we have to use it. However, last week it started crashing every few minutes. I've tried everything I can think of and a few things honey talked me through over the phone but I think it's time to accept that fixing it is beyond my skill set and wait for honey. To that end I haven't been on the Internet much (bumming computer time from friends). Here's what happened in the last couple weeks.

- MIL is recovering nicely. She's back home and self sufficient as long as I can come every few days to help with the things she can't manage yet. We managed to live together for two weeks without killing each other :)

-I'm still going to Jazzercise. I went three times last week. It still kicks my butt but I love it.

-I bought a treadmill on Craigslist for a great deal. I bought it from an older couple who live rather out in the sticks (that's saying something since this is Alaska). It's an older model but sturdy as hell and works great. From the sounds of it they never really used it as anything other than a treadmill shaped coat rack. I've been using it for low impact walking while I watch TV.

-Dad and I are still going strong on the MIL apartment. (I've got some pictures of all that we've accomplished I'll put up once I have a computer of my own again). Last Saturday I got insulation all over myself from crawling in the roof space and dirt all over me from working in the crawl space. I should have been miserable but I had a lot of fun working with my dad all day.

-I've got five aprons almost finished for Christmas gifts. I just need to put on the ties and they will be ready to send.

-I've been making snowflake kanzashi (another set of pictures I'll put up once I have access to my own computer)

-Last week was my last Belly Dance class until the new cycle starts in mid January :(

-Expect post to be fairly erradic for the immediate future. Sorry.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for ...

-Being Alive. I was in an accident and could have easily ended up not-so-living. While I was driving into town, the first big storm of the winter hit with limited visibility and wet snow that was freezing to the roads and making them really slick. Since I'm not an idiot, I slowed down to a decent speed for the road conditions. Unfortunately, I was sharing the road with one or more idiots. Someone decided I was going too slow and whipped around me and then tried to change lanes into my lane. Actually, they tried to change lanes into the very spot my car was occupying. I'm pretty sure they bumped me but I can't tell since I put that side of the car through a very large snow bank immediately after. I ended up spinning around, sliding into the median backward, and almost sliding out the other side and into the opposite lane of traffic. Thankfully I plowed into a large snow berm and it slowed me down enough to stop me before I slid onto the other side of the highway. I was very scared and am very, very thankful it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

- My MIL is getting better and is much happier this week.

-I found a reconditioned fridge at Home Depot for the apt for about half what it would cost me otherwise.

-Cell Phones. With honey on the other side of the country, I really appreciate that we can use our cell phones to keep in touch and make kissy noises at each other.

-Jazzercize. It's really fun (in a drop dead tired half way through sort of way). I've gone three times this week!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holy Crap ! I've become my Great Aunt!

(this is not my Jazzercise class but it's close enough to be it's twin sister or a cousin who looks really similar)

Yesterday I joined Jazzercise. Before going into the center the only thing I knew about Jazzercise was that my great aunt used to do it when I was a little girl (scary leotard and all). However, living in a smaller town gives me limited options. We have the overgrown Fitness Club that is all over AK and has put most of the smaller gyms out of business, a Curves, and a Jazzercise center. I refuse to patronize the big fitness club. I've seen too many great, small, family-run gyms pushed out of business because of them. I went to the Curves and was pretty interested until they sprang a $200 joining fee on me and then explained that most of the benefits they'd told me about (working out at other locations, putting membership on hold while injured, transferring if you move, etc) only applied if I signed a 1 year contract. I was a little miffed that they waited until the very end of a 1 hour spiel to tell me about the membership fee and 1 year contract but I probably still would have considered joining if the Curves employee hadn't been so pushy in trying to get me to sign up right then and there. I understand that businesses have quotas for their employees and that the employees are put under a lot of pressure to fill them but I also understand that they make most of their money off people who are no longer coming to the gym but still trapped in a 1 year contract. I have a personal policy that once pressure to buy is applied (on a car, appliance, gym membership, etc) I leave and decide whether I want to buy that item at home away from the pressure. So I walked out of the Curves after thanking the employee for her time and letting her know I would contact her if I decided to join the gym. In the end I decided that I was not ready to make a year long financial commitment. So that left me contemplating how my size 18 body would look in a leotard :) I did some research online and discovered Jazzercise has updated their program from the one I was envisioning. Their music play list includes ones I hear on the radio on a regular basis and no one on the website was in a leotard (Thank the Divine). The website was very upfront about their fees and how the classes were structured. So I threw on some gym clothes and went to a class last night.

I had a blast. It kicked my ass and I was sweating like a pig but it was really fun. When I got there and explained I'd never been before, I was invited to participate in the class for free so I could decide if it was something I wanted to do. The moves were fairly easy to follow. It actually reminded me a little of Tribal Belly Dance with a leader and followers and a fairly set structure of moves. You could tell some people were experienced and would start the next move almost before the teacher and there were others, like me, who were a little behind but still following along. I'm also really excited that Jazzercise is going to build my Cardiovascular endurance which has always been my weakest area. And as an extra bonus, it's helping build the same muscles I need to Belly Dance well.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Cute Baby

This is our Baby. No kids yet (maybe ever) so he's pretty spoiled. He's pretty cute when he's not being an absolute terror.

Baby will make a cave out of anything (blankets, gambesons, clean laundry, a pile of penguins) but I'm still not quite sure how he managed this one. You can't really see but the gambeson he is curled into is on top of a huge pile of armor (honey and I do medieval reenactment). Somehow he manged to get to the top of the pile without it all crashing down and make himself a little cozy cave :) Did I mention I love my baby :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for...

-Honey got to GA safely
-Left over Halloween Candy
-I have not killed my MIL yet (though it's been close a couple times)
-my desire to avoid the 24 hr Soap Net marathon going on in my living room has helped me get a lot done toward my Christmas craft projects.
-So far there have been no complications w/ my MIL's surgery and she is recovering nicely (if slowly)
-Got to go to Belly Dance class last night (I had to miss it last week and was really bummed)
-I have 4 turkeys in my freezer :P (a long story for another post)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Update on the Dreaded Christmas List

Today I worked on some of my Christmas sewing projects. My MIL is still in the recovery stage where she can't really move around by herself so I'm doing a lot of the cutting for various projects since I can do that on the table in the dining room and still be near enough to be on hand. When I get all the cutting done I'll probably drag one of my sewing machines out to the dining room and work on it. When I get the sewing projects done, I'm going to work on some kanzashi Christmas ornaments. Kanzashi are the beautiful fabric flower hair ornaments worn by apprentice Geisha in Japan. Recently, at a craft fair, I saw where a person had made some out of blue and silver fabrics to look like snow flakes and turned them into Christmas Ornaments. Since I've already made a few for my hair, I'm going to try and make some for Christmas presents this year (hopefully using fabrics I already own).

Mom - ?, homemade jam, kanzashi ornaments
Sister - ?, homemade jam, kanzashi ornament
BIL - ?
Nephew - exercise video game
Brother - ?
future SIL - matching mother and daughter aprons
future niece - refurbished used Doll House
name present A - Hand crocheted chenille scarf (what she asked for, she might still get the apron too if I have time)
name present J - Funny character ties and several first books in series honey and I like to introduce him to new series
G & M - homemade apron & cookies

MIL - ?, homemade apron, kanzashi ornament
L BIL - books
K SIL - cool photo spinney thing (thrift store)
M BIL - ?
J SIL - Pretty homemade necklace and earrings, kanzashi ornament
Aunt and Uncle - homemade jam and apron, ornament?

M & S - homemade cookies, bath salts
C & J - homemade cookies, bath salts

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Probably not going to be on for a couple weeks

I'm currently the full-time caregiver for my MIL while she recovers from getting both knees replaced so my posts the next couple weeks will probably be pretty limited. No pics. Nothing long. :(

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I decided I better do my "Thankful Thursday" post early today before I send honey off to GA for a couple months to avoid the potential of whinyness (too late).

This week I am thankful for -
-My MIL came through her surgery OK
-honey gets to go to a much needed training school (I'll miss him)
-cuddling together watching "Castle"
-The one week a year where I get to dress up in any of my "pretties" with no strange looks

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Peace, Calm, Tranquility

My husband will recognize those words. They are his mantra when things are going wrong or he gets frustrated and needs to stop and center himself. After today, I've decided to stop teasing him and admit that sometimes he's a little smarter than I give him credit for. Today, I had to wake up at 4am to take my MIL for knee surgery (way too god-awful early). But wait there's more... Hubby is leaving tomorrow for a couple months of Army training and until yesterday we thought it was cancelled. I spent the day bouncing back and forth between my MIL at the hospital and trying to get all the last minute stuff for hubby. (Did I mention I'm irrationally afraid of hospitals?) Suffice to say it was a stressful day and I actually stopped a couple times in various parking lots between hither and yon, took a deep breath and focused on "peace, calm, tranquility."

I think sometimes I get so focused on the trappings of rituals, sabbats and esbats that I forget the best chance to commune with the Divine can be a few minutes in a parking lot and three little words.

Thanks Honey.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for ...

- dinners with friends
- my new hutch
- Sheetrock in the apartment
- Maple cookies

A New Pretty For My Kitchen

I've been looking for a baker's rack or hutch since we moved into our new house. I love my kitchen but it's a little lacking in the storage department. Currently, I've got a bookshelf against the wall between my kitchen and dining room with my cookbooks, canning supplies, and kitchen appliances. We found a nice hutch at the thrift store in a light colored wood that matches the rest of the kitchen and dining room.

So far I've managed to put all my cookbooks in it and a bunch of boxes of bulk food in the bottom that will go in the pantry once it's done, and a few of my special dishes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Homemade Bath Salts

This evening I made some homemade bath salts. When I was picking up supplies, I accidentally grabbed a container of fine Sea Salt instead of coarse. It doesn't really make a difference in how the bath salts work I just prefer to use the coarse sea salt because it looks better. I decided to use the fine salt to make bath salts for myself and save the coarse for presents.

The Recipe -
1 part Coarse Sea Salt
2 parts Epsom Salts
1/2 part Baking Soda

I usually take all of the ingredients and mix up as big a plain batch as possible. Then I gather all the jars and such I'm going to be putting the salt in. I fill each jar with as much salt as I want in it. Sometimes that's full and sometimes it's just partly full. Then I take the jars one by one, dump the salt in a big glass bowl, add scent and color to suit (it only takes a drop or two), and then I pour it back into its jar. I use soap colors and scents that you can pick up really cheap at most craft stores. I'm pretty sure you can use any essential oils for the scent though. I made a jar of Raspberry Green Tea bath salts and a jar of my favorite Sandalwood Rose.
On a completely unrelated note I did a lot better today on my "money-free" week goals.

Crash and Burn

Didn't do so great on the "money-free" thing this weekend. I went to the fabric store and spent $20 on fabric for a Christmas present. (I know. I know. I promised not to do that). I've still got 4 days to go maybe I can do better for the rest of the week. Of course it's pretty pitiful when I've spent money on 2 out of 3 days I've been trying to go "money-free" so far. I probably do better than that in a normal week.

Alright, that was depressing. I think I'll focus on something happier now. How about a picture of my favorite find in the MIL apt so far? They are vintage paper doll dresses. Some of them are even fuzzy to imitate velvet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday - Some Good, Some Not So Good

I ended up breaking my "money-free" week on the first day :( I had to buy a rotisserie chicken to feed hubby and helpers 'cuz they showed up this evening after not getting a lunch and the dinner I was going to make would have taken too long. I'll have to plan better for tomorrow.

Otherwise today was a complete success. Dad and I worked through the morning and afternoon while we waited for everyone else to get off work. We got the old heater units pulled out, finished putting Visqueen and insulation in the ceiling, added more insulation to the walls. Once the rest of the guys got there, they put the new Sheetrock on the ceiling (that stuff is heavy).

When we were pulling off the back of the old baseboards, we found quite a few papers and odds and ends that hinted about the houses past. I don't think any of the stuff we found dates to when the house was built but at least to the 70's and maybe 60's.

A collection of random bits lost behind the heaters over the years. Some old math homework, playing cards, cut outs from magazines, Sunday School materials with very cutesy old-style illustrations.

An old magazine cutout talking about visiting the author's daughter at the foot of (a very intact) Mt. St. Helen's. (Kinda hope she moved before 1980).

A beautiful old stamp from Hungary.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thankful Thursday

- I did not kill my husband while hanging the visqueen in the MIL apt. (I wanted too though. I'm pretty sure the feeling was mutual)

- The MIL apt is coming along nicely and we got a lot done last weekend.

- I went to Belly dance class even though I almost skipped and I had a blast.

- Homemade bath salts (blog entry to follow ... eventually)

- The give and take of living near family again.

I Am Officially Declairing a Money-Free Week

This week I am challenging myself to go "money-free." No spending. Nada. No trips to the thrifts stores. No trips to Joann's for the fabric I just have to have to finish a Christmas project I haven't even started working on yet. No trips to the grocery store to buy the missing ingredient for a recipe I want to make instead of using what I have to make something a little harder. I've noticed lately I'm spending a little too much time looking for good deals on Christmas presents and deals for the house. Trying to find good deals is great but getting too dependant on shopping and "retail therapy" would be a big problem. One I need to nip in the bud.

I'm hoping hubby will join me in this little venture (although he honestly doesn't have as much trouble with spending as I do). I will, however, make exceptions for the things he needs for the MIL apt. We're working on a timeline and have friends coming to help this weekend so if they get more projects accomplished than I've already bought supplies for, I am more than willing to buy supplies for the next step.

Wish me luck and I'll let you know how it went next Friday.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Weekend We Cut a Hole in the Side of My House

The MIL apartment attached to our house started with a terrible floor plan. The door brought you right into a cramped kitchen which brought you into a small living room and then a small bedroom. We tore out the terrible built-in entertainment cabinets that divided the living room and bed room. They were no longer functional and took up about 3X10 of floor space. Even after taking out that eyesore we were still left with three small rooms that all felt cramped. We decided to change the floor plan to make the space flow better and feel more open. We moved the old kitchen wall to turn what used to be a kitchen into a nice little bedroom with its own door and little patio area outside. We took out the wall between what used to be the living room and bedroom and will now be one big open area for the kitchen/dining/living room. (note none of these walls we're doing away with are load-bearing. The walls that divide the rest of the house from the MIL are the load bearing ones). To make this new floor plan work we're putting a door back where we found the frame for one when we pulled off the walls. This new (old) door is probably where the door was in the original cabin that was changed around as the rest of the house was added on. (I love having a house with history). Mom and Dad came to help me with this project since Hubby is at work all weekend.

We took out the framing for the old door and put in a new frame since some of the old wood was a little questionable.

We cut off the metal siding and exposed the beautiful wood siding from a renovation or two ago.

Isn't it beautiful. They don't make siding like this anymore.

We cut around the opening and suddenly there was a hole in the side of my house.

They seem a little too excited about the hole in the side of my house. (Thanks Mom and Dad for all the help.)

Look a door!!!

I think my next project had better be stairs for that door.

My Hero

Check out the NY Times article on The Phoenix Commotion. Dan Phillips' started a company that focuses on building beautiful and affordable homes for low income families using salvaged and recycled building materials. The sideshow has amazing pictures of some of the things they've done.

I've always been a big proponent of reusing or thrift storing instead of buying new (it's quicker for me to point out the things in my house that were bought new than those I got used or made). As we renovate the MIL apartment on our house we've been trying to stay true to our convictions by finding materials used or reusing the original materials as often as possible. Unfortunately, we are completing this project on a deadline (MIL is moving in for a bit to recover from a surgery) so when I can't find something by the time we need it to proceed on the project I've had to buy new (like the door from our weekend project that I will hopefully blog about tomorrow).

So far I've been able to find a used (but almost new) Range, a reconditioned microwave/stove vent to save counter space, more than half my cabinets on craigslist for $60, an interior door at the ReStore, and hope to hear back about some flooring from craigslist. I'm still looking for a refrigerator, the rest of my cabinets, counter tops, flooring, carpet and Sheetrock. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I am not a Christian ... But

Caution - extreme danger of whiny rant ahead

I am not a Christian although I grew up in that faith and hold a degree in Biblical Studies. My belief system has evolved based on my experience and research into something other than traditional Chrisitianity. I usually describe my beliefs as Ecclectic Paganism because it is the closest "name" to what I believe.

I am not a Christian but sometimes I miss the trappings of that belief system. I miss worship services. I miss having a definitive document of my faith. I miss that feeling of having all the answers and not having to figure them out for yourself. I miss the history and feeling like part of it. Mostly I miss being able to find people who believe exactly what I believe.

Paganism is a little more variable than Chrisitianity. Even my husband and I practice different aspects of Paganism. He is Wiccan and I am Ecclectic.

Mostly this post is just my way of whining that I miss the comfort of the religion of my childhood. There are some days where that lazy bum in the back of my mind just wants to follow someone else's direction. But the rest of my mind says I can't. I'm the teenager who almost got her family thrown out of their church for telling the pastor that his sermon was borderline heresy and then proving it. I couldn't even blindly follow when I was trying to be a Christian so I guess "the good old days" are just an illusion and I should stop ranting at unsuspecting blog readers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I really appreciated the idea of taking one day of the week and concentrating on just the good. Credit goes to "today I asked for a god" for giving me the idea.

So this week I am thankful for -
- Belly dance class and a teacher that finally made playing zills make sense to me
- friends I run into at the fabric store
- having a nephew to borrow for trick or treating
- my husband having tomorrow off
- finding half the cabinets for our remodel for $60
- finally finding Pagan blogs that deal w/ homesteading, homemaking, head covering, etc.
- cookies (everyone should be thankful for cookies)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Dreaded Christmas List

The advantage of having a (for the most part) anonymous blog is that I can put up things like my chistmas gift list and don't have to worry about a relative reading it.

Honey - Don't you wish. Sorry honey I know you read my blog.

Mom - ?, homemade jam
Dad - ?, Worst Case Senario Book
Sister - ?, homemade jam
BIL - ?
Nephew - excercise video game
Brother - ?
future SIL - matching mother and daughter aprons
future niece - refurbished used Doll House
name present A - Pretty apron out of blue and white fabric (got at the thrift store) and red trim
name present J - ? movies ?
G & M - homemade apron & cookies

MIL - ?, homemade apron
L BIL - books
K SIL - cool photo spinny thing (thrift store)
M BIL - ?
J SIL - homemade bath salts
Aunt and Uncle - homemade jam and cookies

M & S - homemade cookies, bath salts
C & J - homemade cookies, bath salts

Ok... I'm a little bummed. I'd hoped to have a better handle on my Christmas list by now but I see a lot of ?s up there. I'm trying to do everything homemade or repurposed. All the non-homemade things on the list so far are things I picked up used and spruced up. Wish me luck. I'll post pics of the homemade stuff as I finish them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Boys

Honey and Baby. They were just too cute. Baby has been pretty stressed lately with all the commotion related to the renovation on the apartment (not to mention it's getting pretty cold here and he is most definitely a hot weather dog) so we are making sure to spend cuddle time with him as often as we can.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Donut Sprinkles Fabric

This evening, after a long day of working on the house that I will probably write about tomorrow when my brain is working a little better, I went to one of my happy places. .... Oh no! you think. Drugs? Alcohol? ... Fabric Store!!! I had a 50% off coupon burning a hole in my purse and I wasn't afraid to use it! Despite the impulse shopping disaster waiting to happen this could have been I actually had a legitimate use for the coupon and was very glad to have it. I've been trying to use up some of my fabric stock and it just so happened that I have some really great Christmas apron fabric just waiting for backing and bias tape (I make my own) to become wonderful homemade Christmas presents. I got a nice dark green to back the aprons (I hate thin aprons they don't do the job) and make the bias tape out of. I'm looking forward to making the aprons and hopefully sending them out a little early so they get some use during the Christmas season. I'm always a little sad when I get a wonderful Christmas themed gift on Christmas morning and have to wait until next year to really use it.

My other reason for going to the fabric store was to find a contrasting fabric for some fun and playful fabric I picked up at the thrift store a while ago and really want to work with but have had a terrible time finding an accent fabric to go with it. The fabric is really playful and I like to refer to it as my "stripey candy fabric." Fortunately, I ran into a friend at the fabric store and she acted as my second opinion and helped me pick out some "donut sprinkle fabric" to go with my "stripey candy fabric." I'll put a picture of my finished project up once I get to it. I'm suddenly very hungry.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting Off My Lazy Butt

I've been a little lax the last couple weeks about my excercise. It's been cold and rainy so I didn't really want to go out walking but today I decided that I'm going to end up sitting on my a$$ all winter if I use cold as an excuse. I walked down to the store to pick up some veggies and stopped by the library to get some reading material. Fate decided to reward me for walking and both of the books I wanted (but didn't dare hope to find) were sitting on the new arrivals shelf waiting for me. I love these authors and reread their books almost every year but I'm too cheap to buy them in hardback so I get them at the library and read them. Then I have the leisure to find them at a used bookstore for adding them to my home library.

Birthday Party Wrap Up

Well, just because a birthday party is absolutely wonderful and went off with minimal issues doesn't mean it didn't take a lot of work and require a recovery period after :P

My nephew's birthday was last week and we went a little overboard (I blame the grandma) for the party. It was awesome. A Circus theme was chosen so we had face painting (my long suffering and good sport of a husband), a clown making balloon animals (me), bean bag toss, a petting zoo (two goats and two little pigs), a little race car track, a jumping jupiter, and a bunch of games. If most families tried to pull this kind of party off it would take quite a bit of money but we did it for hardly any. The most expensive part of the party was probably the Jumping Jupiter and that only cost $100 to rent for the weekend because we could rent if from the base recreation dept. Every member of the family was able to contribute something whether it was cooking, crafting, making a bean bag game out of scrap wood and paint, or getting some friends to lend their animals to the cause. I love my big crazy family especially when we're being crazy in a good way.

Me in all my clowny glory. We were talking about the costume and realized that Mom made it more than 20 years ago. It's been worn by almost every member of our family at one time or another and been everywhere from a VBS in Barrow, AK to a children's cancer ward in Romania.

A bad shot of the wonderful bean bag toss game Mom made out of a piece of scrap wood.

My sister being a good sport about all the random flower balloons her son wanted her to wear that we eventually just made into a hat to free up her hands.

My hubby painting a "pink sports car" on my (hopeful) future niece.

My nephew and his Grandpa playing in the jumping jupiter.

The duck pond.

Mom makes the best birthday cakes.