To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is it wrong....

to eat this for breakfast? I swear, if you had been at my house this morning you would have eaten it too.

Something woke me up at exactly 5:38 this morning. Then I couldn't go back to sleep because I had to wait for my friends and their dog to show up to convince me everything was okay. By then I was wide awake so I fired up the oven to roast the cauliflower. It looked and smelled so good I just had to have a plate for breakfast. It's Roasted Cauliflower in Lemon-Tahini Sauce and I got the recipe a while ago from one of you, I don't remember from whom, but you can find the recipe here.  I've made this a few times and I always wonder why I don't make it more. Again, super easy and oh, so tasty.

A blooming Cyclamen in my house tells me we're well on our way to Spring. Not too close, but the days are noticibly longer and brighter.

By the way, I finished purging one whole room in my house. Holy cow! It's hard to do. I might post some before and after pics, but I dunno.....there are so many things I want to post about that this might have to wait for a big post when I'm finished with the house. Just know that I was successful in one room so far. Fortunately, I did a major purge in my bedroom, the bathroom and the hall closet last year or I might feel like I'll never get done.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Don't rush me, please.

Because I'm not done with my wintery season. Mother Nature needs lots of time and frigid weather to make the world this beautiful so we can't rush her. It was cold out here, you can be sure of that, but it didn't stop us. It never does. And the sun was shining brightly all weekend long.

Lunch, on the beach, in the sunshine. Perfect!

Beautiful isn't it? Wanna go with us next time?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On making Valentines.

Just so you know, I don't like Valentine's Day. I have serious issues with it being used as a holiday that requires two people to show their love for each other by 1) buying cutesy cheap trinkets that aren't necessary or practical or 2) buying overpriced flowers that die in three days or 3) using gifts as a measure of proving 'how much do you love me?'. Really, I don't like it. I'm just saying.....

So, now that I've properly trashed the day, I must tell you that I do love the day for the kidlings and I'll use any opportunity to make fun little tokens of love for them. Heck, I'll use any excuse and sometimes I don't even need an excuse. Anyway, getting back on track, I spent my evening creating Valentines for the favored little ones. Yep, these were fun to make. Here's the process for how I made them:

1. Using white cardstock, cut out as many hearts as you will need. I used a die cutter so they are all the same size, but these would look great if you cut them free hand as well. For mine I made 3 and 4" hearts.

2. Stamp each heart with a love message using embossing ink.

3. Emboss the message using clear embossing powder. This makes the message hidden, but permanent.

4. Decorate the back side (do not cover the message) using bits of ribbon, more hearts, stickers, sparkles, etc., really, anything you wish. I used this as an opportunity to use up some of the bits and scraps I had acquired from other projects.

5. Give to your special Valentine with instructions to paint over the white side with watercolors to reveal the hidden message.

What I really like about giving these Valentines is that while I was able to have some creative fun making them, the kidlings will also have crafty fun when they use watercolors to reveal the hidden messages. How fun is that?

This is where I found the basic original idea. BHG says to use a white crayon, which would work great, but I happened to have the embossing ink and powder already, and while these turned out adorable, you might want to use decorator scissors to jazz up some of the edges a bit.

See that cute little fabric envelope? Yep, borrowed that idea from Mary Beth. A similar envelope held the postcards that were part of the give-away that I won on her blog. Did I mention how surprising and cool it was to win? Oh, it is. The envelopes are super simple 5x7 pieces of scrap fabric sewn wrong sides together along 3 edges. Ok, one of the pieces is really 5x8 with one of the short ends turned under a 1/4 inch, pressed, turned an additional 3/4 inch, sewn along the edge and then sewn to the other piece, wrong sides together, but you don't have to do that part if you don't want to. (I did it to honor the spirit of Mary Beth's very generous gift to me.) So that's it, and they're perfect for holding the Valentines. Geez, sometimes it really is the simple things that work the best. Whodathunk?

Speaking of Mary Beth, this jar is holding the wonderfully decadent 85% dark chocolate she included in her package to me. It's the perfect Valentines treat and I'm trying to be very deliberate about eating it. Delicious!

Ack, now I want more chocolate! Can't wait to see what the rest of you have come up with.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is there anything they can't do?

Or that they aren't willing to try...if I ask them? You may remember that Maris learned to do simple embroidery back here. She was so proud of herself. What's interesting is that when I brought her home, her 11 y/o brother saw what she made and he seriously said, "I want to learn how to sew,"  and I'm thinking, "Darlin', you're speaking my language." Unfortunately, with the holidays being so crazy busy, we didn't get around to it right away. But then, oh yes...but then I saw this project on Sew Mama Sew and it fairly shouted at me to be used to teach all the kidlings how to do simple embroidery. They love doing things for their parents and they love doing crafts...perfect, right? Yes indeed! Each of them drew their message on tracing paper and then put the image onto the material using a transfer pencil. However, next time we'll draw directly onto the material with a water soluble pen because some of the transfer pencil shows through the embroidery. There was a lot of needle rethreading and getting knots out, but still, will you look at all this fun and concentration?

Spencer soon found that the light from the aquarium helped him see where his needle should come up.

Maris took to it like the old pro she is now.

I think the tongue sticking out helps Konner with his concentration.

Talk about persistance! We began the project Saturday evening and though I left them with instructions to help each other finish, I was fretting that it might be too difficult or frustrating to do by themselves. So, I called Sunday morning to see if the kids could come to my house to finish and my d-i-l said they were already parked in the upstairs hallway working away. Really? How cool is that?

They did come over for a while and managed to get all the embroidery completed before they went back home. I worked on the envelopes, but each of them worked diligently to finish their letters.

I couldn't resist this one. Do you think she's had enough embroidery for the night? That's exactly how I feel some days when I've spent too much time sewing on difficult projects.

Konner kept saying, "this is so cool! This is so cool!" Shoot, even Spencer stuck with it in spite of it being pretty tedious for him.

I have to attach buttons and make buttonholes, but otherwise, the Valentines are ready for the parents. Mom and Dad are going to be so surprised. I ask myself, why didn't my mom do projects like this with my kids? Drat!
Isn't this just the coolest thing?

Monday, February 1, 2010


Yippee!! I won the give-away at Mary Beth's blog. I'm both surprised and delighted. When I initially commented on the give-away, it was to let her know that I was going to copy her idea for a give-away of my own. I had no inkling that I might win hers. How cool is that? I've already emailed to tell her that I have plans for all the goodies, but the first thing I'm going to do is nip a bit of that yummy chocolate bar. Oooh, can't wait!

And now, for the real reason I'm here today. As you know, I've joined the One Small Change project and my January change was to compost all of the scraps that I normally toss in the winter. I don't know why I had been tossing scraps in the trash because I compost all Spring, Summer and Fall. Did I think they wouldn't decompose? Was it too much effort to walk across the yard in my boots to dump the bucket? (haha....I laughed when I originally wrote that last sentence because I said I walk across the yard to dump the bucket in my boots. Too funny. I don't dump the scraps in my boots. Seriously!)  Anyway, the composting has been going great. I have made a concerted effort to separate out the scraps that the ducks will eat, and they've been enjoying their little treats, but everything else has been going into the flower garden. I'll be curious to see what the pile looks like when we have the Spring thaw, but I'm sure it will all turn under quite nicely.

I posted this last Wednesday about my change for February and then I came back to say the produce bag didn't turn out quite like I wanted because the cheesecloth was too thin. Jennifer quickly replied that she edited her tutorial to include using a heavier cloth, but I didn't see that until this morning...after I had bought mosquito netting and had another go at the produce bags.

Oh, it worked up great this time and the material was so easy to work with. I salvaged an old shoe lace from my sewing notions for the drawstring and now the bag is light, see-through, very inexpensive and quite sturdy so it should hold up to multiple uses. I've got a few more to make and then I'm ready for my February change. I need to get my hooks up by the back door so my shopping and produce bags are handy and within sight when I leave for the grocery store. This is fun! Please tell me you're participating too?

If you decide to make the produce bags, please use Jennifer's tutorial. It's very easy to follow and the bags really are quite sturdy.

I've got another great post for later this week that features a Sew Mama Sew tutorial. It was a special Valentines project that I helped the grandkids make for their parents. Beautiful and so much fun!