Monday, May 31, 2010

I've Discovered Nirvana...

in a cookie. I realize that everyone's tastes are different but let it be said that I whipped these up for a bbq we went to tonight and the kids never even got a taste. The adults engulfed the whole container of them and the kids got Creamies.

I found this recipe in a magazine a few months ago and cut it out waiting for the perfect time to try them. It was tonight.


"Cowboy Cookies" otherwise known to me as
"Delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies"

2 cups oats
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 Eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder,
baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

2. In a separate bowl, blend the butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs
and continue to beat until fluffy (about 1 1/2 minutes). Blend in the
vanilla extract.

3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dry mixture into the butter mixture one
half at a time. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Refrigerate the
dough for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Heat the oven to 350. Line a large baking sheet then grease with foil.

5. Shape the dough into balls (1/4" works well for these cookies) and place
them on the sheet about 2" apart.

6. Use your fingertip to slightly flatten each ball to 1/3" thick. Bake the
cookies in the center oven rack for 13-14 minutes, turning the sheet about
half way through. When they're done, the cookies should be very lightly
brown and still look moist. Don't over bake them.

7. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a
wire rack.

**here's where the nutrition info is supposed to go but trust me, you don't want to see it**

Cooking Tip: Variations can be: 1 cup coconut, 2 cups chocolate chips, 1 cup
chopped walnuts OR

1 cup each of white chocolate chips and dried, sweet
cranberries, OR

2 cups of peanut butter chips, or 1 cup each of peanut
butter chips and chocolate chips

You won't regret it. That's a promise.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What's Up Sunday

My house was trashed from the bbq last night and I felt bad going to church this morning and leaving the whole mess for The Marshmallow to clean up. He would have done it and not complained but why take advantage of that Goodness? I can use it a better way later, hehe.

So I stayed home. Which really wasn't that hard considering it was beautiful outside today and I had hostas that needed planted. Speaking of which, can I tell you the coolest thing ever? I ordered a combination of 25 hostas from Gilbert H. Wild and Son, a company in Missouri for about $50 (a really amazing price!). They came the other day and I was so excited to plant them in a very shady place in my side yard. I really love hostas. They just make me want to take a nap - don't ask me why. They invoke coolness on a hot day - I guess they remind me of big green fans. So I got them all planted today plus a few annuals that I've been wanting to get in the ground and the dirt under my fingernails and ground into the knees of my pants made me feel earthy.

I love annuals - the bright colors, their ability to grow so quickly in such a short amount of time only to give up the ghost a few short months later. They give it their all with nothing to lose and there must be a life lesson there. But perennials are where my heart is. I plant a few new ones every year, selected carefully. That way each year brings something new to my gardens. I love the way perennials appear to die at the end of the summer but earlier than usually expected each Spring, you can dig under the dead leaves and cast off rubble from the winter and lo, there are tiny sprouts coming through the earth. It is literal hope springing from the earth. A little green promise of coming beauty just when we need it most. My gardens are slowly turning over to perennial beds and it makes me happy to see what's coming and going next.

Later as I lay in the shady grass and stared up into the canopy of trees over me I realized why Native Americans and Aborigines believe that the earth has a Spirit. I felt it - like the earth breathing, all the life under and around me as I lay there. It was like church, only I didn't wear a dress.

On a sadder note, Betty Lou, the new sewing machine is not doing well. Please don't tell me she's a lemon because I would be extremely sad. There's a little mechanical lever that raises and lowers the feed dogs and for some reason, it isn't working. No feed dogs, no movey fabric through the presser foot, no sewey. I had sent out a message to the universe that my old green machine was Freecyclable and I got a few hits but none felt perfect to me so I still have it. And now it's out and I'm using it again. It's not as bad as I remember but it's not Betty Lou.

Regardless of which sewing machine I use, my next project is this..It's a sort of re-made DownEast Outfitters basic tee. Well actually it's two of them, one of which is cut up to make the ruffles for the other one. Mine will have a base of cream with pink ruffles or maybe I should do a pink shirt with cream ruffles. I'll decide later. This project is the one I'm going to do tonight. You know, now that I'm thinking of it, I do have two of those cream shirts and I think one color would be better than two. Hmmm. A cream ruffle shirt sounds cute. Isn't this shirt wonderful? I made a necklace last night that will be perfect with my cream shirt once it's done. I love this stuff!

6 - What Am I To Expect From You

From the age I mean. Bugs is now six. She woke up six and while I don't lament the passage of five, I have trepidation about what to expect from six. I do hope that it is less arguing and more maturity but we rarely get what we hope for, rather the wonderful changes are in new and unexpected ways that please nonetheless.We surprised Bugs this morning by taking her to the Discovery Museum at Gateway which she loves. This was Tinker's first time as well and it was good times all around. The phrase "divide and conquer" became our creed as The Marshmallow and I managed the chaos. I failed and misplaced Tinker once. The child is fast. I lost my Mommy badge and was permanently grounded from taking both children there again by myself. Not that I would anyway.We had a small family bbq in which my mom, grandma, sister and her kids came and had hamburgers and a menagerie of other fun things. I created an ice cream cake roll for dessert that is sort of a family tradition on my side and taking a bite of it tonight took me back about 20 years in time. Evidently I made the cake correctly because no one complained, especially Tinker who took matters into her own hands when my sister failed to feed her fast enough.I remembered another family tradition that we do. Bugs loves treasure hunts so I create an extensive one that places presents at various clues. She loves it and it draws out the fun of opening presents. I've decided also to take it a step further and do it with Christmas as well which will also build up the anticipation a bit. I'm looking forward to that.

Bugs was the star of the show today and I have hardly seen a more tired girl by the end of the day. She was absolutely exhausted. The day was hers from beginning to end. I just don't know how I got such a fantastic little girl to be my very own. I told her the story of her birth last night and I rehearsed it as if it happened yesterday, everything so vivid in my mind. To me, it was yesterday. And now here she is...a little friend just for me.On another note, I vow right here and now to never wear a white shirt again. As much as I love white shirts, they don't love me. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stand Up Cake Dragon Part 2

Meet Lucy, named after her friend

Wow. Definitely not an easy cake but actually not as difficult as anticipated. The "Wow" relates to the extensive amount of time I had to dedicate to this project. Well worth it in the end, and especially worth Bugs' wide eyes of pleasure as she inspected the final result.

My first project of the day was to melt some candies and form them into the scales shape. I've never even remotely worked with meltable candy so this was an experience but not bad, all in all.
frozen dragon with ears cut off and emerging tail

Then I had about 4 tons of icing to color - that was a project. My hands are stained a nice shade of pink with black tips. Goth. All I need are some black lace gloves and dreds. O, I forgot the cape.

The tail was the hardest part. I used cupcakes and large marshmallows to get the shape but had to fill in a lot with icing to make it a smoothish shape. Somebody that asks for a piece of the tail is going to be very surprised by the combination of flavors. Barf.

Some icing completed, the tail in its final state before icing

It took me about 3 hours to complete the decorating. Tink was up again...again, up to no good. Gotta love her.
Like mother, like daughter (where'd she get that?)

Bugs and her friend Lucy were in and out of the kitchen periodically checking on our progress. It was magical.What was not magical was the state of my kitchen at the end. I wished for a magic wand - and got arms. Beggers can't be choosers.Oh, and thinking back about my post from the other day about birthday traditions, I guess this is ours. I do cakes. I love doing them. I love letting my kids pick out whatever they want (Tink has yet to do this of course.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Stand Up Cake Dragon Part 1

Today was allocated to getting the cake baked. A formidable task if you ask me since the cake is thick especially around the belly and according to the directions, you need a ton of batter.

The directions start off by stating you'd be better off to use a pound cake batter and then combine it with a cake mix batter. So you need to make two mixes - one from scratch. No biggie except that I used every last egg in my house, all my flour (how did that happen?) and I had batter coming out of my ears! Not to mention all of this was going on with Tinkerpot awake and enjoying every bit of the distraction I was throwing at her. Is that batter up her nose? Ew!The cake tin was a double tin (front & back) which you grease and flour heavily, clip together and pour the batter into his nether regions. I think I filled it a little too much but it was still okay. Bake for about an hour and at this point, there's really no way to check if it's done - you can't stick a toothpick in that far and besides, the directions were specific about not overcooking.And now it's done. It's cooling on the counter and I can breathe a sign of relief because the front and the back came off without sticking and now it can just cool down and freeze to await the frosting on Wednesday. Phew! I'm glad I didn't have to do it over for some reason.

Birthday Traditions

Since Bugs turns 6 this week, of course my thoughts are turned toward birthdays and the fun of them. I think I enjoy them as much as she does because I'm the one that makes the magic happen! Being a mom, in this respect, is delightful.

And since I now have two kidlings that I get to make magical, I thought it might be fun to make some actual birthday traditions that they can look forward to. Because kids just love traditions, don't they? It's one of the things they anticipate most about Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc.

I read that one family, on each birthday gives one new privilege and one new responsibility. I really loved this idea because it's a perfect time to let them know how much you think they've grown, and then a natural time to add chores that would otherwise and inevitably be given at another time. I might make a birthday box and put them on slips of paper or something that they could open like a present.

What are birthday traditions at your house? I'll bet there are some cute things out there!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sewing Faster

It's about time for me to venture into the realm of sewing for myself. I have enough confidence now that I'm sure I could pull off a few really cute things and I'm eying a skirt at DownEast Outfitters that looks incredibly easy and also incredibly cute. I checked it out today to see how it was made and found that I've made several for Bugs just recently that make use of many of the same techniques. Now all I need is the perfect fabric.Here are a few things I threw together this weekend in a couple of spare hours. The skirt is one I've been looking at in different patterns and finally decided I was ready. Not that it was hard, not be any stretch. It just took a little time to get all the squares cut out. I'm getting cheap lately with fabric and everything here was pulled from my growing stack of remnants. There are some great fabrics out there but I'm sticking to lower cost ones even if they're not quite as cute. I think it turned out great and Bugs looks adorable as ever in it.I bought this yellow pillowcase at the thrift store for a quarter. I added some ribbon for the arm holes and a white broadcloth ruffle at the bottom. I think I'll add some fat ric rak to it or maybe even a cloth flower and it's all done. It was by far the least expensive project I've done so far. Best thing is, someone had that pillowcase a looooong time. It's 100% cotton and so very very very soft after its' use. I love how it feels.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bug's Birthday

sooooo, on a less personal note that is less about my reproduction and more about my children (and aren't you so glad to not be talking about condoms anymore), here is the cake that Bugs has requested for her birthday this year.

I definitely have a funny little girl turning 6 this year. Not only did she NOT want the girl room at Kangaroo Zoo this year, she opted for this funny little dragon over butterflys, princesses, kitty's and all the other girl related stuff. I don't care, I think it's cute and rather quirky. Maybe we'll make Mr. Dragon pink and purple or something.

This is my first stand-up cake and I'm really excited to try it. Other than making sure the actual cake turns out okay, it will be easy to decorate. And the tail is made out of big marshmallows. Fun! I'm excited for next week to make this!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More On The Mirena IUD

It can't have been more than about 6 weeks ago that I was complaining about my all-over-body rash. I managed to mostly conquer it although it raises its head every now and then and I have to beat it down with allergy meds. If that were my only problem, I'd gladly live with it.

But increasingly over the past few weeks I have been feeling extremely agitated. And not only that but people are making comments. Like The Marshmallow and my sister specifically. It's not like I haven't noticed. My post from the other day about my job is likely not really due to the stress I'm feeling at work - anyway not ALL of it.

I am angry all of the time. I feel it just below the surface about ready to burst out. Talk about a short fuse, now I know what that really means. I have absolutely no tolerance and even the slightest thing can make me snap and when I snap, watch out. I'm not liking it. I just don't know who I am! I feel so out of control, so far from The Lord, and really just barely getting by. I was even thinking of talking to my doctor about anxiety medication. I'm really just not a pleasant person to be around (or to be!)

So for no reason in particular I started looking at the Mirena bulletin boards again checking side affects and such. Turns out that nearly all of the women complaining of side affects listed anxiety, irritation, intolerance, anger ..... at least one of them or a combination of them but there they were! I'm not losing my mind! Perhaps I am an intolerance person by nature but this IUD is doing nothing for me if side affects are causing my birth control to be abstinence because I'm freaking my husband out!

I've decided to take it out. I really feel like I've given it a good shot. It's not for me. I hope that I can go back to who I was before and that the hormones can cleanse through me quickly. I hope the vasectomy is still on the table...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Strawberries & More Strawberries

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted a dedicated strawberry bed. Every house I've lived at, I've searched for the perfect place to put one knowing that they go crazy and invade every square inch of wherever you put them. They need to have borders and you have to be diligent about keeping their runners out of places you don't want them.

Until now, I've never had a place even at this house with all it's corner niches and my ample yard space. But The Marshmallow has been working on our side yard for a few weeks and he made me a fairly decent sized bed for the strawberries and I am so excited.

A good friend was thinning out her strawberry bed and told me I could come take some of hers and so today I showed up with trowel and gloves and went to work. I didn't think I was taking as many as I did but when I got home to plant them, I realized that it won't take long for these to overtake my bed but that's okay. I'd rather it be sooner than later that I have to start thinning. Then I'll have some to give away too!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My kindergartener does this little jump, arm swing, skip hop whenever she comes down steps. I don't want to ever forget that cute little dance.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When Work Becomes Work

I woke up this morning knowing it would rain the entire day. I dressed for it because I knew I'd be in and out of my car all day as I made my rounds. To say the least, I wasn't excited. I have to work and only one person's gonna do it. Me.

I had eleven patients lined up to see today. Count them...eleven! That's a HUGE amount of patients for one day and even under the best of circumstances, I would have been hard-pressed to see them all. I managed to fit 8 into my day and I dragged one tired, and soggy girl through the door at around 4:45 pm. Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I doing this to my girls?

We neeeeed the money. It's that simple but it is more complicated than that. I really only need to see 5 patients per day in order to make my modest budget. Why then am I trying to shove 11 into my day? At the end of today I'm really wondering.

Every SINGLE morning, Bugs asks me if I have to work and her sign of disappointment on days when I just am not going to be there when she gets home literally tears my heart out. And then my babysitter posts pictures of my kids on Facebook while she's tending, and makes status posts about what they're up to and I want to cry in frustration that it's not ME that's seeing them do this or that. And now summer's coming and I see it disappearing into a huge vat of home exercise programs, arthritis counseling, pain management and blah blah blah...stuff that is important but NOTHING compared to how my kids are going to spend their summer with someone else. It is killing me!

You see, in my profession it's totally feast or famine. It wasn't long ago that I left my house only to see 3 or maybe 4 patients per day stressing the fact that I'm not meeting the minimum. And only a few short weeks later I'm pushing the envelope with what one sane person can accomplish in a single day. I could get help or tell my agencies that I can't take on this or that particular patient right now. I don't because they WILL find someone who can take them. They won't cancel my contract but there will be another somebody there hoping for patients and the agencies will be obligated to split my caseload with the new person which means in the end, I'll end up with less even during the famine times. I just can't have that! I need exclusive access to my agencies so that I get first rights of refusal. Without that, I might as well go get a regular job.

But days like today (which have become more than norm) are awful. I remember when I first negotiated with my awesome babysitter to come when I very first went back to work after Tink was born. My schedule had me leaving my house at 8:45 am and back at 11:30 when Bugs got home from school. It was only a few months and I pushed it back to noon, then one, then two, three and now it's regularly 4:00 when I come through the door - TWICE A WEEK. That's two full days, two times a week! How can I even consider myself a stay at home mom with that schedule? What's weird is that when Bugs was Tinkerpot's age, I worked that schedule all the time and thought nothing of it at all.

Now, it's all different. I've had it. I don't want to do it. I don't NEED to do it. I enjoy it but not as much as being home. I've got to change it. I have no idea what to do but I'm even thinking of employing an OT assistant to take on my caseload when I have too much. I don't know the ramifications of having an employee and it makes my head ache but I'd still be making money if I did that, AND I'd still have access to all patients coming down the pike which is by far the most important aspect at this point. I just don't want competition at all. I feel my job's too lucrative to allow another therapist even their toe in the door. I hate this. There has to be a solution.

Monday, May 10, 2010

At Least There's That

I'm fortunate in that if I make a shirt for Bugs and the armholes continue to be too small (a problem I find that I keep having...gotta figure that one out), it will fit Tinkerpot as a dress. Nothing wasted. Onward and upward.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Baby Carrier - My Version

I have a girlfriend who is having a baby boy in just a few weeks and I've wanted to do something for her since she is so good to me.

I love the baby carrier covers that everyone has now. I never had one but that's because I never would cough up the cash and didn't have this fabulous sewing machine (haha, nor the capability to make one).

But with a renewed sense of confidence in my sewing skills, I decided to make one and they're easy. I modified the instructions to suit what I wanted and it turned out pretty well - good enough to gift.

If anyone would like the instructions, I'd be happy to put up a tutorial since it was difficult for me to find a tutorial and then I had to change it quite a bit (velcro vs. buttons, larger straps, longer length, etc.).

I wish I could have found cuter fabric but I was on a strict schedule and had to go with what was there but it's cute anyway.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Off to the zoo we go with a herd of kindergarteners! Fun fun fun!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another Skirt

My sewing skills are definitely improving with every sewing project I do. Less use of my seam ripper and more educated guesses as to how things are going together.

Actually I made this skirt yesterday but I was foiled because I didn't notice a pretty critical piece of information at the bottom of the instructions. It made a fairly significant difference in how it turned out vs. how it was supposed to turn out but I don't mind because the end result is pretty cute anyway and Bugs looks adorable as ever in it. I would like to make her a top to go with it and try this pattern again the way it's supposed to be because that skirt is even cuter.

My next project has to be another cat tank for Bugs since the original one fits Tink instead. She's been asking about it every day and it literally will take me 2 hours to whip it up.

Then, I plan to make the shirt to match this skirt, another to match the skirt I made last weekend, and then start learning to make leggings because they look incredibly easy and are incredibly cute with these skirts.

Onward and upward!