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Monday, August 31, 2015

Back To School... Again...

School started this week...

             When? Who? What?

                         I'm not ready! No fair!


And why start it right before Labor Day and then give the kids Labor Day off. Explain that...?

So with school starting, life gets so much busier. Rushed mornings, "did you get your homework done"? questions, packing lunches, following up with teachers... ugh..

The best thing of all? This is our second time around for 9th grade. We think my son has Asperger's. The problem with Asperger's? The almost impossibility of anyone to positively diagnose it. Many visits to the doctor, visits to a psychologist and still no one can say definitively what he has.

Asperger's is a form of high functioning Autism.  

My son is very smart. He LOVES talking to people. The problem, like many people with Asperger's is the difficulty in reading social cues. It makes it hard for him to make friends. It makes it hard for him to know when he should be quiet and when it's appropriate to talk. Most of his teachers find him absolutely charming. He is very polite. He opens doors. He knew how to say please and thank you as young as 2 years old.

But with kids, reading cues get tricky and as anyone that has kids knows, kids can be really cruel.

..And this was the reason my son said he intentionally failed 9th grade. He simply didn't want to be with the kids in his current class.

Is that sad or what?

When I see "My kid is an honor student at XYZ school, I often think that there should be an ode to the parents who's kids are not "perfect" in the eyes of the school/public. We want our kids to succeed too. We spend endless nights playing catch up with homework and emailing and phoning teachers trying to make sure our kids are doing what they are supposed to.

And we worry.

We worry that they don't see how their actions now drive their success in the future.

We worry what kind of future they will have.

But we look to the future with hope. Hope was the last thing in Pandora's box, it was the only true gift there.

Maybe 9th grade will be better the second time around.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Mmmm Homemade Tortillas

Have you ever not done something because either you thought it was too much work or it wasn't really possible to do?

I love learning how to do things. Even if it may have been a cheap alternative to just go to the store and pick up something, I often find out that the homemade item is generally so much fresher and tastier than the store bought equivalent.

Besides, you never appreciate something more than when you know how to make it.

Last week was one of those weeks that fell when neither of us got paid due to when our pay schedules fell so it was time to get really creative in the kitchen to feed ourselves.

One of the items that we have constantly is tacos or burritos. We had no burritos/taco wraps however. Being broke, going to the store was out of the question.. so it was time to roll up my sleeves and take the plunge.

And I'm glad I did.

These are SO much better than store bought. A word of caution though, they do take a bit of time and will get your space messy,  so if you are going to make them, make a lot all at once. I quadrupled the recipe and froze them for future use. We used them last night and even after thawing, the quality is was far superior to what you buy in the store-probably because there wasn't any preservatives.

Mmmmm Homemade Tortillas!

The recipe I took from a book I bought from the library discard sale, The Home-Cooking Cookbook by Natalie Sylvester. This book appears to have been written in 1972 and the book is  the author's attempt to document her family's recipes. Honestly, the majority of it was desserts but this little recipe was a gem.


3 heaping Tbsp of shortening
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 to 2 cups water

Mix together and until dough forms a ball.

Divide into about 9 balls. Roll out to a tortilla shape, if not perfect, that's perfectly fine. It'll taste perfect!

Heat up a skillet big enough to handle to tortilla.

No grease in the skillet, no oil, we are after a dry heat.

Drop your rolled out tortilla on the dry skillet. When it appears to be drying out, flip it.

Once you can move it around in the skillet, you are all set.

Remove it, let it cool then use for tortillas, enchaladas, breakfast burittos, flautas, etc.

I found that this was no more difficult than making cookies and when you make a bunch and freeze them they are not only economical but so much better tasting than store bought! They taste very fresh even after thawing from being in the freezer. They also are a lot "lighter" tasting than the ones you buy in the store.

Overall, a win/win!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Eggs! Glorious Eggs!

Eggs! Glorious Eggs!

I was starting to believe that I had the only chickens in the universe that didn't lay eggs.

Then it happened..

                                              The clouds parted and universe smiled.

My son went to check on their water and there they were, two beautiful and perfect chicken eggs.

You could have knocked me over with a spoon.

To use my niece's phrase, I was one happy chicken-mama..

So proud of my girls.

They weren't very happy with us taking the eggs.

I've noticed since they've started laying they think they're all grown..

And voice their opinions quite readily.

Really! Do you know how long we've been up?
They let me know each morning that they've been ready to start their day for HOURS...

Even when it's only 7:30am... they sit in their house and grousing about not being able to go out on their own.

Having a curfew at their age!.. Humf!

"Get on it lady, let us out!"....

But they do a great job... we had three with double yolks.

Farm fresh eggs!

Love these stupid chickens! Totally, unequivocally, love these silly girls.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Graphic Glasses


We got these at "Dog Town" in Rochester, NY.

 I admit it... I'm addicted to pretty graphics.

...And I LOVE these!

They are just so nostalgic but fresh about the graphics that really appealed to me. I know they are just bottles but I hate to throw out something that is actually quite beautiful.
I don't know why, I have a thing for glass. Old glass windows, old glass bottles..I probably need a self-help group....
And another confession... I have always wanted to get one of these. Hippy craft maybe but I always thought this was neat.. and macramé.. but not the owls... those things were in every house I think I went into as a child...but I digress....
Cutting bottles always scared me. I guess I thought they would just explode in my hand. But it's actually really easy...

Set your spacer so that the cutting line is where you want it. I wanted it just above the "Cane Sugar". Slowly, pull the bottle TOWARDS you to get a good score line. You may need to adjust the small cutter wheels to get them to touch the bottle to score it.

Showing the score line... and the pretty graphics!
Won't these make pretty glasses?

Now you need a candle and preferably an ice cube. My water had gone out and I was waiting for the plumber to call (which he never did the !@X&!) so I was improvising with a popsicle and a lunch box freezie.

Hold the bottle about 1/8-1/4" above the flame. Don't put in in the bottle in the flame as I learned the hard way. It will still break but not as cleanly and more than likely you'll have little off breaks into the glass making the glass unusable.

Quickly take put your ice cube (or popsicle, although it makes a big mess!) Keep alternating
between the two. The glass breaks along the score line due to thermal stress.


Who hoo success! It really happens before you realize it. You'll hear little pops as you are going through the heating and cooling process but don't fear, it literally just falls apart at some point, there is no big explosion or pop.

The kit comes with some jeweler's grit as well as a piece of glass sandpaper. I found the sandpaper worked fine but at some point I may go back and actually sand them on the grinder. I was a bit concerned it may ruin the bit as the glass is so much heavier than stained glass I typically work in.

Now isn't this just neat?

I just love it. It's something I wanted to do since I was a kid and I think it's such a fun recycling craft.

I guess everything that was old is new again. Try it, it's really fun (and hopefully you won't have to resort to using a popsicle!)

Monday, August 3, 2015

April Showers Bring AUGUST Flowers!

Me, like my light fixture, was in quiet need of mending.

Forgive the radio silence please. I'm afraid the past month or so (actually six months)  has been rather frightening and frantic. Unfortunately, I had an enlarged thyroid and had a thyroidectomy three weeks ago.

After removing it, we discovered that while the side that was huge and causing issue was free of cancer, the side that was "normal" in all aspects, had 2mm of cancer. Very little but still very scary. Still the evil "C" word!  Needless to say, all wells that ends well and with the thyroid removed, I am able to resume normal life.

In my time off recouping, I was able to finish one rag rug and finally this weekend, the quilt that would never end's top has finally been completely pieced. I had anticipated that this was going to be my May quilt but with the multitude of pieced blocks, it gobbled away four months of time! In the end I do like it, but now on to starting the quilts I'm making for Christmas gifts!

Quietly recouping...

Groj Cat says it's nice but needs a bit of cat hair to be perfect.
He'll assist in that.
When I decided to make the Peony Quilt, I knew I wanted to make it a different color than the traditional red. The red quilts are beautiful, but I like to be different. I had my heart set on a deep aquamarine/teal blue quilt and had planned that but I'm a girl that loves color so a one color quilt, although beautiful, is something I would get bored with fast. Instead I choose to do all solid colors but many different colors. Then just when I thought I was all set and had them pieced, I started thinking, "This quilt needs some apple green flowers. Then, maybe I should add some red... then.. well, you get the picture.

So this quilt is another Quilt in a Day confection.
Three of each block set is pieced, with a total of five of each of these blocks being pieced before joined to the other two to create the three peonies. A wall hanging could be done in a day and maybe if I had been smart and choose to do the 24" block set instead of the 12" with stems I may have had a better chance, but I love the final result.

After a hard, long winter, you want May to bring bright an cheery flowers. Hopefully your "May Flowers" quilt doesn't take you until August to finish it!

Here is how it is pieced.

First step is to make the individual blocks. As you see Eleanor's block is created with flying geese and a log cabin block in the center. Four small white blocks are added in each corner.

Next take three of these and add one white block if you are adding a stem and leaves. If not add another flower.

Sew down the stem on one side.. Keep your step a little to
to the left...... 
Then rip out a small section on each side flower and using her template or in a free form style, add some bias stems.

Then flip over to cover your raw edge with a finished edge.

Rip out a small section and tuck in. Sew down.

Now, again rip out a small section of the top flower and tuck in the stem. Sew down the straight bias stem. When you sew your stem in, sew the opening closed on the back side.

Showing the fusible web side and the front side.

Create the side leaves by tracing them onto fusible webbing and sewing them with the glue side facing the right side of the leaves. Turn inside out and sew down the leaf veining. Now fuse to the block and sew around that.

Now do that 15 more times.

Yep, that is why it took 4 months.


Of course, supervision had to be there the entire time to make sure everything was done up to proper standards.


And quality control joined him...

I wanted to keep the palette simple so I choose a mint green border to give it that 1930's feel without going too pastel. I love the fact that it feels so "fresh" and bright. This is the quilt you put on the bed after "Spring Cleaning" to just perk up your spirits!

If I may be a little immodest, I think this is a stunner. I love the colors. It's bright without being gaudy.

Eventually it will get quilted. I think I'm going to put the Grandmother's Garden quilt on the back of this so it will be reversible (and I get two quilts quilted at once!).
Have you ever made one of these quilts? Did your grandmother have one or make one? What is your favorite quilt pattern?