Monday, January 30, 2012

Alice in Wonderland party - the hegehog

Today I am working on the hedgehog (before I go back to taxes - ugh)... you know, the one that they play flamingo croquet with in the Disney movie? I think he came out pretty cute. He's no more than 3" tall. We have 10 flamingos... so I'm not sure how many of these little guys I'm going to make. Not sure I'm up for making 10 of them.

If I find the time, maybe I'll do a little tutorial too. He's a ball... although is snout gets in the way of him rolling forward. He rolls on his side just fine though.

Friday, January 27, 2012


My daughter's birthday is on the 11th. Up until yesterday, I was pretty comfortably with where I was in preparing for her party. Then I looked at a calendar. I can't believe we are only a few weeks away! This means I have invitations to get out, decorations to make, food to plan and wardrobes to make. Yep, wardrobes.

My daughter has chosen an Alice in Wonderland theme (which I couldn't be more excited about) and along with that she has asked that we each be a different character. I started with her figuring if the others don't get done, there won't be any feelings hurt.

So today I started the Alice dress. I love a good challenge and I am determined to do this party on a budget - so I am using all re-purposed materials. So, the main pieces I used are a woman's dress, a men's t-shirt, a white window valance and a remnant of tulle - all found at the thrift shop this week.

I'm about half way done and have only used some white t-shirt scraps in addition to the above materials. However, I have decided to use a 2" white satin ribbon for the apron tie (which I'll probably have to buy at the regular store - bummer it won't be all re-purposed materials) and I'll be adding a white ruffle on the bottom using more white t-shirt scraps.

The "remnant" of tulle I picked up at the thrift shop actually ended up being about tree yards (yay), but not as stiff as I had hoped (boo). But it's doing what I want in giving the dress just a tiny bit of poof. I made it a separate petticoat-like skirt for underneath so that we can use it again if we need to (who knows what costumes she'll have me make for her in the future).

Anyhow, fairly happy with how it's coming along. A little bummed that it took me a whole to day to get this far. I'll also be sharing the other elements of the party as I complete them or as the party gets near.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pinterest - Clean Windows

Okay, so I've recently been obsessed with Pinterest. It's been perfect for my new veggie obsession... and it fuels my garden dreams during this cold winter. And, it gives me ideas in all areas from organizing to cleaning and from cooking to sewing. So I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things that I find there and do (granted, most of the things I pin on there will never make it to fruition). A girl can dream though.

So today while I was at the sink washing the dishes, I noticed that the sun was actually out... but it was having a hard time getting through our window. This is embarrassing, but really I have no shame. I used to tell myself that our kitchen window is so dirty because of all the rain we get. But it had been a while (perhaps since we moved in 5 years ago) since I've cleaned it.

Enter Pinterest. I don't currently have any window cleaner. So I looked up "window cleaner" ini their search function and found a homemade version. I whipped up a batch (with a little less lemon since I only had one tablespoons worth) and gave it a try.

This mixture did a great job. At first though I wanted to just spray it on and squeegee it off. Of course, if you wait 5+ years to clean your window, that's not going to be an option even with the best window cleaner. However, with a rag and this mixture, the window came clean with not a lot of effort.

Before (no, that is not snow):

I learned a few things from this. 1 - the dirt was on the inside, not the outside as I had convinced myself. 2 - cleaning this window does horrible things for my back as you have to lean over the sink - this will be come a kid chore. 3 - I really need to do more normal house cleaning chores as having a window you can see out does good things for your mood.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Obsessed with veggies

Okay, I might be a little obsessed with vegetables right now. Even the snowman today did not escape my obsession.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Planning my garden

It's getting really cold here and all I can think about is my garden. I really want to work outside again to finish up my yard. I'd love to be able to enjoy it this year without the field of weeds (okay, a field is a huge exaggeration since we live in one of those new developments with small back yards). Last summer we started covering the lawn area with pavers. We finally admitted to ourselves that we can't maintain a lawn. And the space was way too much space for me to maintain with plants. So we used pavers and made a checker board for the kids. I put aside a few areas for some raised planter beds.

The area on the right that is unpaved will be paved this spring with larger pavers. I have a dream of having a small trellis over it covered in grapes. I might have to settle for wisteria or something though as I'm not sure what the success rate of grapes is here.

But I would like to start planning what I'm going to plant in the few areas I have. The first area is this area around my only green plant in the yard. I can't really do flowers as my husband dislikes bees. I know they are beneficial in a garden, but they will have to survive on the flowering vegetable plants. If there are too many bees (or any stinging insect), my husband (and the kids) prefer to stay inside. Besides, I'd also like to have the little planting areas I have to have useful plants - like herbs. I love herbs. They make the yard smell awesome and I love to send the kids out for herbs when I'm cooking.

So, I'm wondering what I should plant in this spot. And whatever I plan there needs to be protected or be able to withstand slugs as they come by the masses from under the deck. I'd welcome suggestions for this area... and how to combat my slugs. I have a copper tube along the other side of the deck and I'm thinking I might have to do the same thing on this side - but they are so pricey. Did I mention that I'm on a budget (really, it's that I'm cheap).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting out of our Veggie Rut - Brussel Sprouts

Our family is in a veggie rut. It has a little do with the kids and what they'll eat and it has a little to do with convenience. But now that I'm trying to work more veggies into my diet (and the family's), I'm bored with broccoli, carrots, corn and the occasional pea.

So I've decided to start experimenting with different vegetables. I'm trying to do this early so that if we find that we want to start including them in our normal rotation, we can think about growing them this spring and summer. My first vegetable of choice is the brussel sprout. I have to admit that I hated this veggie as a kid. I only had it a few times (that I can remember) but those few time left an impression of a mushy, bitter vegetable that I felt like I had to gag down.

Why chose it? Well, I know a lot of people that love them. The recipes I've read sound like they could be good (like they won't end up mushy). I like the health benefits that they offer. And I really want to step out of my box.

So I've been buying brussel sprouts. Lots of brussel sprouts. The first time I tried them was at Thankgiving and I roasted them with olive oil. They had potential (they weren't mushy and not as bitter as I remember). The second time I did it with bacon - because everything is better with bacon, right? I liked them much better (and so did my son - husband is still on the fence). But it would be great if I could find a way to make them that doesn't involve bacon.

I also learned that the small the sprout, the less bitter. I had no idea. I was buying larger ones because that's the size I remember. Of course, I also remember them being bitter. So I'll be looking for some smaller ones and new recipes. I welcome advice and suggestions - including preparation and recipes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another New Year

and another chance to get this blog up and running. I lost a bit of steam, motivation and time last year when I tried to move my old blog over (ultimate goal of deleting the old one once I get the tutorials moved over). But it's important to me and I really need the outlet again... so I'm giving it another try.

This year hasn't been like most New Years. I normally have a whole list of things I want to do, changes I want to make, new ideas I want to explore. But this year... I'm a bit unmotivated. I think I'm still recovering from the busy year. The rush of activity in my shops from September through December wipes me out no matter how prepared I am (and I have to admit, I wasn't as prepared as I would have like to have been).

I try to steer clear of the word "resolution" because I think far to often it equals failure. So I like to go with more of a theme.

Here are a few simple things that I plan on doing this year;

Maintain the blog - this used to be easy for me... it was never a chore. I want to get back to that place.

Prepare for the end of the year - I told myself last year that I was going to start making costumes at the beginning of the year... and of course, it never happened. I didn't make any until right before I left for vacation at the end of August, so it was a mad rush to finish them and keep up with custom requests (most of those costumes never got posted in the shops). Not this time. I NEED to prepare better this year. I've already started jotting down ideas.

Eat more veggies - I know I can't maintain a diet at this point. But I'd really like to start eating better again. I don't eat all that poorly... but I would like to get out of my veggie rut and eat more than carrots, broccoli and corn.

Grow our own veggies - Last year was our best year in our garden... and this year I hope it's even better. We finally gave up on having a lawn and we paved our back yard (with a giant chess board) and added a few well placed raised beds. I hope to fill them with lots and lots of yummy veggies. A friend of a friend just started a blog Urban Food Warrior and reading it has rekindled my desire to have my own vegetable garden. You know, one that produces food that we actually eat. I can grow a mean tomato plant... but we don't really eat them.

Get my health under control - I have lots of health issues. I classify a lot of them under my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. And I know a lot of my difficulties are also due to the herniated disk in my back. But I think even with these things, I should be in much better health. The veggies are one step... and exercise (I feel like there should be a "dun, dun, dun" every time I say that word) is the other. I have a dream of hiking with my family. You know, exploring this beautiful state that we live in, without it putting me in traction.

Take more pictures - I used to have an awesome camera... and I loved using it. Right now, our camera is primarily for product shots, so it's not the best on-the-fly camera. But this year, I won't let that stop me. Good picture, bad picture - I'm going to take them anyway.

Send more letters - I started the 52 weeks of mail and I'm motivated to finish it. So far, so good. My favorite is sending to people who would never expect it.

These are all things that are more for me than for growing my business. So I guess this year, my theme is "ME".


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