Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Funday

I got to spend the evening with two very special friends.

They are master Connect Four, Candyland, and puzzle players. (Please notice 'my helper'-I like her style. Grab 'em all, and see if you can get them in without your partner noticing.) They also reminded me that sometimes it's not about winning. Sometimes it's fun to just take turns putting the chips in the rows, and making patterns. Sometimes it's exciting just to flip over a candyland card and see an ice cream instead of a color. Sure, it may move you back to the beginning of the board, but you got the 'card with the picture'....and who really cares who crosses finish first?
My request for babysitting sweet little Mary Margaret, and Kate was that I got to bring some crafts. I have it on good authority (good authority being-their Mom, a friend of mine at work ) that Mary Margaret would like to bake every day, and twice on Sunday). The first order of business. Crayons!

I found this silicone heart mold tray at Target. MM helped me break the crayons, select the colors for each heart, and monitor them as they baked.

And with Mom's permission, we made some chocolate dipped marshmallows (all left over pieces of past crafts I had at home). She's a pro.



I was going to take these two cute little bugs home with me, but I don't have a line on my Dave Ramsey budget sheet for two little girls. Plus, I think Mom and Dad are pretty happy with the status quo of two daughters.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beach Body?

Amber, Sonia, and I went scrapbooking this evening. Amber was giving me the run down on her spring break plans to visit Belize with her boyfriend. (I too am going to the beach over spring break....::cough cough, with my Mom, cough cough::.) She was looking at her pictures from the marathon she ran this last fall in Chicago. (I too ran a marathon this fall. Yup, I recorded all the episodes from last year's Ace of Cakes, and I sure did watch that Marathon in one little sit down marathon session. TV series marathons aren't for sissies.) Anyway, she was reminicing about her post-marathon self. (I too....no wait, I didn't lose my 'marathon body', I'm every bit as 'glamorous' and 'sleth' as I was last fall. ::Picking self up off the floor, laughter can do that to you.::.) I, of course, psshawed skinny woman for her self deprecation-puh-lease, see the below pictures, some of us are ridiculous. She assured me this really was a concern, and claimed, "I have to get in a swimsuit by spring break." Once the words cleared out of her mouth, she lifted this little beauty to her lips to take their place.

I asked her if she was going to include a coverup with that swimsuit? If so....I have a few dozen she can borrow. I love that she doesn't take life, or calories too serious. Fine...I had a piece of cake too, look, we were celebrating a birthday! Whose? I don't know, I'd never met the lady before in my life-her friend brought her a cake, and she offered us a piece, and at the risk of being rude, we took it....and ate it....and licked the plate. I've already got my coverup for my beach vacation, and it fits just fine, thank you very much!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Poor Pea-nut


Poor Peanut had a life altering surgery today. At the risk of being too descriptive, I guess you can chop off half of his name now too to better describe the little fellow. I feel so guilty, even knowing it's the best thing for Casanova, I wish I could speak dog so I could have explained what was happening. Scratch that-I'm glad I don't speak dog. I don't want to know what he has to say about this whole experience. He shook when he was dropped off in the morning at the vet, and when I picked him up in the afternoon he didn't even have the heart for his little body shudders any longer. His little ears lay flat for hours at home. The first thing he did when I put him down was go curl next to Lilly's side. I guess he was just checking to make sure she still loved him. She ignored him, so things are right in his world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do

Dear Gym,
This isn't 'working out.' I think we should break up.
Love,
Your Unfaithful Girl

Monday, January 25, 2010

Classroom Conversations

I get to spend my day with MANY special friends, some a little more special than others. It's never boring. This afternoon I had a hodgepodge of first graders from three different teachers that I was trying to help increase their reading fluency. One of my little readers had some trouble being a part of the group today. At the end of our lesson I talked to him, and told him what was expected of him within the group, and that if this continued we'd need to talk to his teacher, and then I asked if he thought he can come the next day and pay attention, and participate in our learning? He quickly replied, "Yes."....Then there was a brief pause, and he said, "In case I have second thoughts, my teacher is Ms. H*****." Tomorrow should be interesting!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just Another Friday Night


Things in my house just got a little noisier. I was only along for the ride-or rather, I was the ride. I have strummed an imaginary note....or two since the guitar made it to my house. Jason picked up the guitar again after setting it aside for about 12 years, this should be interesting. He had a weekend, one-man-jam-fest. He said that it was something to do when the weather was too bad to fish (since fish like rain, I guess he means when it's sunny?). Side note: I was walking through the store selecting what instrument I would purchase if someone made me-I was really torn between the harmonica, and the cowbell, and I think-it would be the cowbell-you don't really have to find the note on that, just the beat. It could be fun. This is assuming they stop selling fabric, and stickers, cupcakes, and cell phones, so my other hobbies are not available, and I need to find something new. I wish I desired to be more musically inclined. I certainly appreciate a great musician. I just...can't...practice. I have a lifetime of faked piano lessons, and dusty french horn cases to prove it. Thank goodness amps have low volumes, or I might be looking for another place to live....I've given up hope that Jason will, ;o).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is It Too Early For An Ornament?


I've made 5 ornaments since Christmas, this is the only one I can post right now due to my 'don't show gifts before you give them' strategy for 2010. My tragic story is I did not have time to shop when I was in Germany this summer. (Where are those violins when I pull out these stories?). This means I didn't get my required ornament, what? Fortunately, I DID get some pictures. I saw different versions of this type of ornament this last season, and decided I needed to make one. I have some 'old' printer friendly overheads from the days when teachers used overheads, and I was one of them. I printed off this picture in color, cut out the shape of the 'inner ornament' then slipped it inside. In this case, I added some little roses I found at the craft store (because they were all over Germany) there are more than four, but that's all that showed in the photo, and I could NOT get the glare off the photo to show what the photo really looks like, but you get the point. Anyway, here is my Germany ornament....it'll have to do until I get back to Germany and can get some shopping done the right way!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ready to Do Dishes?


I'm obsessed with sewing this week.....I...can't....stop. I have made many projects, some that look suspiciously close to this, but please note, I'm actually not posting them since they are going to be gifts for people I know have this blog address (not that they check it, but they could), BUT this little apron is going to a non-blogging friend (aren't I sooo good for not ruining gift surprises? It's my goal this year). My friend (who this is for) cleans when she's angry....oh, how I envy this! I cry, and then I sleep when I'm angry.....I wish I cleaned, I wish I didn't get angry and just cleaned because I should...maybe with a happy song sprouting tunefully from my imaginary fabulous singing voice, or even off key in that charming way some people have, just not me.... Anyway, I've wanted to make aprons for a long time, it seemed really 'doable.' Cut a trapezoid, attach a ruffle, and a waist band-create your own pattern-my kind of thing. "Real" patterns make me angry, and really-didn't I just go over this? Of course, the aprons could be much more complicated....but I thought I was really industrious trying out the 'circular' pocket, whatever....it was fun. The good news is I could make quite a few of these with some of the left over fabric from past projects littering my house. The bad news is, I'm not going to do that b/c each apron must say 'your name' which means I 'need' to go to the fabric store to find 'you.' Then I will sew you, and we will call it a gift, not a crafting problem I refuse to admit to and address. Brown says Heather...in a good trendy way, of course. I was going for a 1930's look, and somehow, this came out off the cutting board instead when I was finished selecting 'her' fabrics. All right, this'll be the last apron I post for awhile, but now you know-what I do on Tuesday nights instead of cleaning.

Saving a Seat

In the Beginning:

This chair belonged to my great GREAT grandparents. It has been in my Aunt's garage for years now, and they gave it to me thinking I might be interested in repairing the rocker. After years of use, and many more of sitting, the bottom had fallen out (it was originally a thick cloth material crisscrossing and holding in the cushion. The sides had popped out so that the arms were out of their holes, the fabric had faded, etc. I didn't really capture all this, BUT the wood was solid, and intact. Conveniently, I know a carpenter, who also happens to be related to me, and he agreed to fix the base when I bought some wood to reinforce the cushion, and he managed to get the slates back into place and reinforce them with wood glue. Next it was time to recover the faded fabric. Sure, I could have picked something befitting this rocker's history but, I think it's important to add a little 'me' to it so that in a hundred years, when my great great-someone recovers it, they will wonder about this funky fabric I chose. I wanted to stain the wood darker, but at my Mom's request, I left it the original color, so....I can deal, for now. OK, really, I don't know if it will hold up even A year b/c I pretty much made up how to do all the repairs, but I can because there are no furniture police allowed access to my house, and I could list all the things I did wrong times ten, but I'm OK with that!
The Finished Product:

When I sit down, and hear the creaks, I have to wonder about my grandparents, and their parents, AND their parent's parents who sat here and rocked, and were soothed by the rhythm. I like to imagine who sat here and rocked, who was rocked in this chair, and I look forward to adding a few of my own stories to be saved inside these creaky wooden slates.

Monday, January 18, 2010

List Check Up, and Travel Advice


visited 40 states (80%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
I've been working on hitting all 50 states, and I'm down to 10, how about that?!? This summer, the plan is to visit 4 more of these. My Mom, Holly, and I have begun the planning process, but I thought I'd throw this out there, b/c I'm always asking people their opinions, advice, etc before heading places out of town...and in town. So, if you have any advice, here are a few places I'm researching, and questions I have, I thought I'd throw them out there into the world of the internet, see if I can rustle up some travel advice for anyone who has traveled these roads before.
*I've been to Branson, but I didn't go to any of the shows, do you have any advice for shows in Branson? A few people have told me about a family show called Presley (a variety show), and someone else told me about a 360 degree Noah's Ark show...?
*Have you ever been to Green County in WI? Monroe? New Glarus? I'm looking for a little swiss experience in the exotic land of Wisconsin, maybe a cheese tour or two, and Monroe is mentioned in 1,000 places, but I also saw a little town called new Glarus listed, but it's listed by their convention center, so....I'm looking for someone who has maybe BEEN to tell me where to stay/what to do. Wisconsin is new to me.
*Any Chicago tour recommendations? Don't miss pizza stops in Chicago? We will only be there one night, so....I'm packing the important 'stuff.'
*Any tips on what to do in Mackinaw Island? I'm hearing carriage rides, and fudge....I think that might can fill my day, but any tips are great!
*Another place in my 1,000 Book is Door Country Wisconsin. We wanted a pretty place to stay along the great lakes on the way from Mackinaw to St.Paul, and they mention this is a pretty area with lots of light houses, but it seems like a big 'area'....I'm hoping to pinpoint more of a 'spot.'
*We are also planning on heading to the Mall of America is St Paul, MN-so....there has to be a good way to do this in a day, any place else I can't miss?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Complete Medicine Park Album

I have posted a few pictures on facebook, but....I'm much more complete with my shutterfly album...there is only so many photos you want to share with 200 of your closet friends, plus some of my friends have canceled their facebook, accounts. :O) Here are most of the pictures I took from the weekend. :O)
http://share.shutterfly.com/share/received/welcome.sfly?fid=72ea5e582dc716720031ecd658bfd733&sid=0AZMmrNw0YsmLJrA

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge #8


Sunday morning we got up and headed a few miles down the road (don't listen to Mapquest, it's just about 4 miles from the town of Medicine Park to the refuge, NOT 39, like the site says). Holly has been wanted to go to this refuge for years, and I read about it in 1,000 Places to See Before you Die in the USA and Canada by Patricia Schultz, which I got for Christmas last year,and love! :O) I also thought this would be a fun opportunity to use my new zoom lense! The refuge is one of those projects built during the depression by the work force the government created. The mountain ranges are very old, and eroded much more than the newer Rockies, but they are really pretty, even in the winter. We were able to make the easy drive to the top of Scott's Mountain with a really pretty view from the top. The road is really great, and there were some people making the hike up the mountain along the paved path, which looked pretty relaxing, though we opted to drive this go 'round and stop at the various lookouts.

We also drove past many pretty prairies, and lakes, recreational areas, and a really nice visitors center.

(I also saw there was a town nearby, Holy City, that has the longest running Promise Play. Something I may look into the next time we head this way. I went once in the past in Texas, and really enjoyed the biblical, outdoor play.)
The entire time we drove through the park we saw the reason behind the park's purpose-lots of wildlife. Their main wildlife are Elk, Bison, Longhorns and Prairie Dogs (which we saw) as well as Cougars, Coyotes, Hawks, etc. Here are a few of the animal photos I took during our short stay.
Bison

Longhorns

Prairie Dogs

I loved watching hundreds of these playing, digging, and barking in a little controlled area, as well as throughout the prairies nearby.

Medicine Park, Oklahoma


This Saturday morning Mom, Holly, Lois, and I drove 4 hours to Medicine Park, OK. http://www.medicinepark.com/ My Mom had a friend that visited this little location almost a year ago, and recommended it, AND there is a nearby Wildlife Refuge that is listed in the book 1,000 Places to See Before you Die in the USA and Canada by Patricia Schultz. We didn't really know what to expect upon arrival. Medicine Park is a small town surrounded by rivers, and lakes. Native Americans once felt like the waters in the area had medicinal powers, hence the name. In the early 1900's this was a swinging resort town for the rich and famous, and what's left are the shells of those buildings, now given characteristics of the last 100 years, while keeping their cobblestone faces. There are a lot of walking, and 'looking' opportunities, a swimming hole, and trout fishing nearby. There are little shops along the river and throughout the little town streets with lots of personality, and friendly owners. They appear to only be open on Saturdays, so we were in luck.

This isn't my typical shopping experience, though I managed to find a few things, I think the feel is more relaxation. Things move slow, there is lots of character in the local's houses-lots of yard art, and a mecca for plastic animal fun-in a good way. It's a lot of fun, and definitely somewhere to go and relax. We only had the chance to try out one restaurant called The Plantation, and it was actually REALLY excellent home cooking (yummy rolls), and it's located in what used to be the 'Grand Hotel' across from the main swimming hole. http://www.theoldplantationrestaurant.com/
We stayed at a little place called the Blue Eyed Coyote.

http://www.blueeyedcoyote.com/ My best description is that it's like a B&B, but separated from the owner's house, so....also, think cabin. It has a little bedroom, living room with dish TV, and a propane fireplace (it can sleep up to 6, but I think 4 was a pretty comfortable number), restroom, kitchen, and eating space with lots of great windows. Pots and pans, silverware, towels, etc are provided (though we did find there are no cookie sheets or casserole baking dishes-which we needed, but were creative, just....fyi). There is also another guest house in the works. The best part is the view-a huge yard, and wrap around porch, and patio overlooking the Wichita Mountains with lots of seating, fire pit, grill etc....and....the best greeting party ever.

There are lots of little cottages for rent in Medicine Park (some include stays from famous outlaws who passed through-like Al Capone, and Bonnie and Clyde), but....I definitely recommend this one. :O) After touring the little town of Medicine Park, and taking a little survey of the nearby Wildlife Refuge (my next post), we spent the evening playing games.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Open for Interpretation

I rarely remember my dreams, just that I have them! When I was little, some of them were so scary that I didn't want to go to sleep out of fear of 'dreaming.' Anyway, this one was just weird, but I had to share it, or rather the most interesting piece, it was a long one.
I was in Europe, which looked suspiciously like somewhere around here, and my Mom and brother were with me. We were taking a 'train' through Europe, and during the most interesting part, we were in Paris (again, looks like McKinney or somewhere, no Eiffle Tower in site). BUT the train our group was on was actually a big green tractor with a bunch of Big Red Wagons on the back, and we each sat in one and rode along. The first person had to hold on to the back of the tractor so the rest of us could move. At one point I was in front, and boy, was it hard holding on to that John Deere while everyone behind me tagged along. Anyway, in Paris, we made one more stop by the sticker store, and I was ready to leave, but Mom wasn't done looking (trust me, Mom has never outlooked me at a sticker store, it's not her thing at all, it would be like me wanting to stay longer at an autoparts store-yuck). We told her we'd meet her at the train station. She didn't show up! Our group was going to Montmartre (which is just a little part of Paris, but in my dream, it was another town, really quite far). We decided to go, and that she would catch up (ya right!). There were some adventures along the road (I dropped her purse off the train...because I was holding it, I guess you don't use cash in dream sticker stores. I had to hop off the moving red wagons to retrieve it, this also meant she couldn't contact us), but we (Jason and I) finally arrived at our lunch stop-a Mexican food restaurant....uhhh....becasue they are sooo prevalant in France. We sat down to eat our burgers and spanish rice, and good news, my Mom showed up when lunch was almost over. She sat down to eat, and she pulled out her five dollar off coupon for this restaurant that she had found. Whew, I thought we were going to have to pay for our burger at the Mexican Food restaurant in Paris at full price!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Monkey Diaper Cake #2

I made this 'cake' months ago, and it's a long story, but because of that long story, it's been sitting on a shelf in my closet. There is NOT room to store completed diaper cakes in my closet, so....I've been on the hunt to get rid of it since it didn't serve it's purpose. I've attended several showers, but it just wasn't the 'right cake' for those showers. Thank goodness, someone at work asked me about how to make them because she is hosting a shower this next weekend. I told her I'd be happy to show her to make them (they are sooooo easy), but PLEASE take this off my hands! I got a taker, and now....I've got a little more room in my closet for 'more' crafts....ha, double purpose! I made one awhile back that looks almost exactly like this, but this guys a little bigger, I think I added a few things like a first aid kit to this one, and a few more cups. I do love the diaper cake, but I do NOT love storing them for unknown amounts of time.
Front of Cake

Back of Cake

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Learning to Speak Baby Grunts


The highlight of my Friday was spending some time with Carrilee and her family. She was in town for the holiday (from Washington), and I truly enjoy getting to spend time catching up, and watching her in her mommy element. I learn so much through others as they interact with their kids, and I appreciate her being real. It's fun to watch her little ones grow, and today I learned to speak baby grunt. Jorja slowly rode this car across the room, after giving herself a 'shot' and carrying her doctor tools, and blanket, and then she stared at me, motor still (pressed down by her finger) running for about four minutes until someone explained to me this meant I was supposed to turn her car in a new direction. Sure enough, I moved her little car in a new direction without the table obstruction, and she rode off into the sunset, or rather-the lamplight. Anyway, it was pretty cute, she's so serious, I can't wait to see who this serious little, traveling doctor grows into! I also got glimpses of Henry as he baked cookies with Grandma, and lots of chat time with Carrilee, one of my all-time favorite friends from Baylor. There could not be anyone sweeter! I hope the next visit is sooner than we think! :O)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Jo's Retirement



Thursday evening I baked a cake, and made a flower arrangment for a gal my Mom works for that is retiring, and they are hosting a reception tomorrow. I just did 'pot luck' at Sam's with the flowers. I was going for blue (her favotie color), but....uh....they didn't have any, so I just got something I thought was pretty. I then had to figure out how to work them onto the cake, and I just didn't have the right color green, but hopefully it'll be demolished soon, and the insides will taste great. Another project complete.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Paper Doll Cuteness

http://babalisme.blogspot.com/2009/12/doll-printableagain.html
Check out this link, it's sooooo cute. This gal has a blog where she gives away free printable designs for all sorts of little gift boxes, stationary, and paper dolls, INCLUDING boy, and girl paper dolls. They are soooo stinking cute! I printed off a few for 'something' I'm doing....but....seriously....so cute, and free?!!?!? How fabulous is THAT?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mystery Gift in a Bag


Let me see....who in my life has the first initial B? To be fair to me, this is only the outside of the beginnings of Blythe's birthday gift (May 5th is coming quicker than you know it). I will refrain from posting any more on the gift (which is actually what goes inside this bag) for after it has been received, but....here is my starting point. I found the fabric at JoAnne's, which I really loved, and the bag there as well. I used the double bonding stuff to put the B down with, but I also etched around the sides with a fat stitch,always a struggle for me. Now....on to the innards, which just require 'collecting' items. :O)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Banana Pie

I don't have a picture for this one. I was telling my pal, Jolene about the caramel sauce I discovered (a few post back) and she already knew about it! What? Anyway, she gave me a recipe that's super easy, and I did have an extra pie crust (see my last post). I didn't take pictures, but I thought I'd share it anyway since it, too, was yummy (add extreme diet to my New Year's Resolutions). Anyway, make a pie crust as instructed. Cut up bananas and fill the bottom of the crust (2-3, depending on your love of bananas). Cover the bananas with the caramel sauce (prepared as described in prior post). Cover the caramel with whipped cream, and sprinkles with walnuts. Slice and serve. Yummy=bananas and anything.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Toffee Pecan Pie


http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/english-toffee-pecan-pie
If you like Pecan Pie, you must try this one out, but don't expect the same pecan flavor you are used to if you use the toffee. I tried this out for Christmas, and it was sooooo good. Everything came out perfectly, despite my ability to mess up most recipes, so....add 'easy' to the reasons you should try out this recipe. Instead of the 'homemade pie dough'....I bought a box at the store, and used one of them as my crust (don't tell Martha). I've tried the whole homemade crust, and even with all my attempts not to 'overwork it'...it's too chewy for me, and this taste great. The rest of the recipe I followed as given. This pie won first place on a recent pie show. If you are in pursuit of a new pie, or a more perfect pecan pie, try it out.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Welcome to the World, John Donovan Thomas!

Maurine and Derek have exciting news to share on their blog! I'm so excited they welcomed their little man into the world on December 30th. He's precious, and he looks very holdable. :O) I can't wait to squish him in March, in only kind squishy ways! I was out today shopping through these little boutiques in Downtown McKinney and I already found a little goody screaming "Donovan"....that's what cute baby things do-they scream out to me when I walk by. My cousin, Jimmy asked me this Christmas, as I played with Blythe, took a million pictures, showered her with homemade goodies, and introduced her to the world of crafting if I was going to pay as much attention to his next baby. Uhhh, yeah, has he not spent anytime with me? If there is a baby, or a puppy in the area, you bet I'm playing with them. I heart babies, and animals, they represent the best in the world-innocence, and magic, and trust. I can't wait to be a part of Donovan's world, and keep it full of the wonders of childhood as long as possible! Congrats, family and extended family!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Mama's Daughters' Diner


This past week, my Mom and I tried out this little diner. There are four locations, we went to the one on Industrial, and then perfected the outing with a stop at the 'big' Half Price Books. I had never even heard of this diner, but I think I must be the only one in Dallas....the parking lot was completely full at 1 pm. There was a wait in the door, and they slam the food on the table so quickly, and move you through in speeding fashion (with a smile). I was talking to a friend one day, and her friend was coming into town, and she just mentioned the list of places her friend always had to go when she came back through town (she's moved to Seattle from Dallas as an adult), and this was one of those places. It was really good homecooking. They are open most days from about 8-3 (hours are on their sites), and some locations have weekend dates. The meals are served with homemade rolls, and cornbread (no complaints here). I got a meal with three sides, and a soda for about 10 dollars. The inside is nothing fancy, very 'diner', but there are cute little sayings you might have heard your mama say as a child. It reminded me of Poor Richards in Plano. Anyway, if you are in the area, I agree, it's worth a stop.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Christmas Toy Photography #7

I got a new zoom lense for my camera, and I took it out to Lake Lavon today while Jason (unsuccessfully) tried out his new fishing pole. There weren't too many birds enjoying the winter weather, but I have more plans for this lense in the months, and years to come. Here are a few photos from my outing.
Winter Home.

Crane. Jason's fishing company.

Peanut, and his friend, the Shadow.