Saturday, July 31, 2010

it's the little things

The grand gestures in life are, well, certainly grand. The exotic trips, diamond bracelets, new cars.... But let's face it ~ when in life are we afforded such luxury on a grand scale? And really? All the grand gesture takes is money. The small moments in life require so much more than money.

Surely, it's the small moments in life that deserve the most attention. The small moments that, if you are not careful, get overlooked. Let's zoom in the camera lens and focus on the small moment while I tell you a story.

For those of you who know me just a little bit know my love for Mexican food runs deep and wide. A daily dose of the culinary delight is not too often in my opinion.  When we go out to eat, we can frequently be found in front of a bowl of chips and salsa with mariachi tunes wafting overhead. In the early days of dating, something else was happening at the table of which I was completely unaware. You see, our favorite restaurant has largish chips. In a single-handed movement, Greg would break a chip in half in the bowl and take one half, fully intending to come back for the other now perfectly sized chip. But before he could, I'd see a perfectly sized chip and swoop in on it.  Every.single.chip he broke in half for himself, I took the other half. Yet he kept on doing it ~ kept on letting me take the other half. He could have been stingy and taken the large chip out to hold onto the second half while he munched on the first half. But he didn't. He let me have it. He let this continue for many a night out before he told me. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. We laughed a good about it.

To this day, he still breaks his chips in half ~ one for him and one for me. And every once in a while, he gives me a little smile as he breaks the first one in half. It is in these small moments when I am struck by the notion of the little things Greg does to show me I am important to him ~ to show me his love.

We need to quit looking for the grand gesture in life and focus on the small moments of each day. It is by the small moments that our lives are defined. It is in the small moment we find true love show its face.

Take a minute and think about a small moment in your life when true love was shown to you. Share your small moment in the comments if you like ~ I'd love to hear it!

  • The fact that this post comes on the heels of me breaking a sprinkler head while trying to do Greg a favor of mowing the grass yesterday is purely coincidental.
  • I'm not so silly that I would turn down a grand gesture, say to Europe. Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, July 30, 2010

reverse applique tee

Suzanne asked if I could make a shirt with a number one on the front for Aiden's first birthday. No problem. I've done appliques before, but decided to use this opportunity to try a reverse applique. The idea of a reverse applique had been a little daunting for me. This being my first time for the reverse applique and all, I decided to document the possible disaster it for you to enjoy. Maybe you'll get up enough gumption to do it too!


  • tee shirt of your choice
  • coordinating fabric
  • matching or contrasting thread
  • a number (or other figure) printed out or drawn on paper

I always prewash my fabrics and tees to minimize shrinking and funky looking appliques in subsequent washes.

Cut enough of the coordinating fabric for the image to fit on. If you want the image centered on the tee, fold it in half and pin at the center points.

Slide the fabric inside the tee with something underneath the fabric so you don't pin onto the back of the tee. I used one of my cutting rulers. You can use cardboard or anything else that will fit in there. Make sure the fabric lines up with where you will be placing your applique.

Place the applique on the front. You can see that I folded the number one in half so I can line the center point up with the pins that indicate the center point of the shirt. Pin the paper, the tee, and the fabric underneath together. Once you have it pinned, peek underneath to make sure you caught the coordinating fabric and everything is lined up the way you want it.

Stitch on the lines.

At the beginning and ending, you can backstitch a couple of stitches or you can leave a long tail, thread each tail on a needle and poke it to the underneath side of the shirt where you tie all the long threads.

Time to take the paper off. It felt like I was going to rip the stitches when I was ripping the paper away. So I wet the stitched area with a wet q-tip. The wet paper pulled away from the stitching pretty well.  I had to pick away a few small scraps.

In the center of the applique portion, pinch the tee to pull it away from the fabric underneath. You can pinch the fabric from underneath at the same time to make sure you've pulled them apart.

With small scissors, snip a hole in the center. Make sure you snip tee shirt material only!

Trim away the tee shirt fabric close to the stitching - about 1/8" close. Take your time so you don't accidentally snip the stitching. Snipping the stitching = not good.

After the front portion is trimmed away, trim the coordinating fabric to reduce the bulk.

And there you have a reverse applique tee shirt. I don't know what I was so afraid of because this turned out well and wasn't really that hard. What else can I stick a reverse applique on?

If you do a reverse applique ~ let me know, I'd love to see it!

I'm sharing this at Just a Girl's Show and Share Day.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

cute baby gift

Do you know someone who is having a baby? Need a gift? These cute baby items ~ receiving blanket, burp cloths, reversible bib, and diaper clutch ~ are available now in the shop. They are each sold separately.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

up a tree

Did you ever climb a tree as a kid? We lived for a while in a neighborhood with the most awesome trees. Our neighbor had the perfect climbing tree. Every once in a while I'd climb with a book in my teeth so I could read up there. Nerd! I know. 

A couple of weeks ago the kids declared they wanted to climb the ash tree in the front yard. My scaredy-cat-mommy instincts kicked in and I just about broke out in a cold sweat. Luckily Greg was there to approve the activity and give them a boost into the tree because there aren't too many branches low enough for these shorty kids. They were giving each other boosts, but then only one person could be in the tree at a time.

Heather climbed the highest. She was somewhat limited, though, because the tree is still a little immature for major tree climbing.

Stephanie found a spot she liked and pretty much hung out there.

The longer she was in the tree, the more comfortable she was with the idea of it.

Later they made tree house signs ~ warning boys to stay out. Yesterday Greg said their signs were still up in the leafy maze of the tree.

After Greg and I went inside, I think they figured out how to get both of themselves in the tree without any grown up help.

Crazy monkeys!

Monday, July 26, 2010

menu plan monday ~ july 26

It's been a while since I've planned an official menu. Since I have a little more time on my hands these days (yay, summer!), it's a good time to refocus my efforts in this area. I'm also going to be planning a cooking day in the next few weeks to get some meals in the freezer for when school and dance start up again. I'm also still hoping to shave our monthly grocery budget down ~ way down. I also want to explore bread making some more & try out some different recipes, especially since I bought the brick of yeast from Costco!

This week we'll have:

  • BBQ ribs in the crockpot 
  • crescent chicken
  • chef salad
  • tacos
  • homemade chicken noodle soup
  • roast with mashed potatoes & gravy

We are still working on eating the beef cuts that we had in the freezer prior to buying our quarter cow. Except for hamburger meat, we haven't used any of the new beef. The hamburger meat was really good, by the way.

As always, visit for more menu ideas or to participate in Menu Plan Monday yourself. I get some new ideas for meals by reading what other people are doing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

what have you been up to?

What have you been doing these last few days?

Heather made this Mickey Mouse. So cute. She used double-sided tape to stick the beads on the paper. Clever.

I made this skirt for Heather's friend Maddy's birthday. We paired it with a black tee-shirt. There's a little bit of a story behind this skirt.

Suzanne was making herself a skirt. She miscalculated, the skirt ended up a little small, and she didn't have enough of the black polka dot fabric to fix it. So she gave me the too-small skirt. I cut a little off the sides and moved the waist down and Stephanie was the proud owner of a new skirt. Suzanne also gave me the extra floral fabric as well. I had some red polka dot material so I used that to make Heather a skirt. It wasn't until I was all done that I realized I had the same black polka dots! Suzanne bought herself some more fabric to try again. The three of them wore their skirts to school on the same day ~ all with a black tee. Maddy told Heather she wanted a skirt like that. So, I bought more of the floral fabric and ta da! One for Maddy too ~ and a black tee.

Aiden's first birthday party was this weekend. I made him a Kidlet and filled it with books, a coloring book, and crayons.

I am a firm believer that children should be introduced to crayons when they turn one. You are never too young to start to create! This is my favorite gift for one-year olds.

I made some more dishwasher magnets for the shop. I also made a few patchwork zipper pouches. Head on over to check them out.

And as an added bonus, I've almost conquered Mt. Washmore. Someday. Someday soon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the one where greg's quick thinking and cool head saves the day

Yesterday we were doing a little cleaning up around here. It's Greg's favorite way to spend his vacation. Not!

Anyway ~ I walked into the laundry room to ask him what he wanted me to do with this (showing him) that I found on the kitchen island. Instead of heading towards the kitchen trash, as I should have, I headed across the living room to tackle another project. No sense in making two trips to the trash I guess, right?

That's when I stepped on something sharp and hollered a little cuz it really hurt. Knowing that I had just cleared this area for vacuuming, I couldn't imagine what I had stepped on.

Until ~ I realized ~ I just stepped on one of the NAILS that had slipped out of my hand. Nails ~ three inches long! Upon this realization, I screamed louder.

Then, as I saw that the nail was still in my foot I panicked and screeched and screeched louder and louder. The nail was sticking out of my foot at an angle in the crease between my big toe and my foot. All I could think is, "There is a nail sticking out of my foot!" Greg came running in the room, grabbed me and helped me down to the floor. Sitting. That makes perfect sense. Why didn't I think of that as I was standing on one foot screaming bloody murder?!

Knowing what was coming next, I turned my head away from him, cried, and practiced my child-birthing breathing. He quickly dispatched the kids to get what he needed ~ paper towels and the first aid kit. Somewhere in the middle of all this talking, he yanked the nail out. Holy crap! I'm pretty sure that hurt worse than the initial puncture. I then watched him wrap it ~ although he wisely obscured the actual wound from me. I didn't see it until later in the evening when he took off the wrapping and put on a regular band-aid.

While Greg was wrapping gauzy stuff and white tape around my toe, Heather asked him if he had to learn first aid before he worked in "constructing." He told her no, that Mommy was lucky there was a first aid kit available cuz on the job I'd get a toilet paper and duct tape combo. Classy.

Amazingly? There was very little blood ~ only a few drops.

Now I'm gimping around, favoring my big toe. Not so convenient during grocery shopping today.

Greg later reported that as my screams amped up he wondered what kind of trouble I could have gotten myself into in the 1.5 seconds I had been gone from the laundry room. Hey, it doesn't take long.

Greg figures I owe him $120 for emergency room copays and follow up doctor visit copays since he came to my rescue. I figure I owe him my undying love and affection, plus I'll continue to cook and do his laundry.

Thanks, honey. You're the best!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

another thirteen thursday

  1. And because I thought the last one was hard to fill, I thought I'd try it again. Practice makes perfect, right?
  2. I read two books in three days this past weekend. Awesome!
  3. That means I am more on track with my year-long goal that I was at this point for the last thirteen Thursday. 
  4. Since I have so much time to lounge around on the couch reading books, that must mean that school is out for the summer. Yes! 
  5. It is a loose goal of mine to spend five four three two days a week in my pajamas. I'm totally willing to accept a higher number, however. 
  6. I should probably mention that I am in my pajamas as we speak. 
  7. I've been reading all over blogland how crafters are getting ready for fall craft shows ~ Halloween & Christmas. I saw some really cute Halloween fabric at the quilt store last week. Really? Already? It's still hot out! Actually, I'm already thinking in that direction ~ I just haven't moved in that direction so much. I did just finish a cute receiving blanket, burp cloths, and bib out of a cute boyish print and a polka dot. Keep an eye out on the shop, I'll harass you in my posts add more things as they are completed.
  8. I think polka dots might go with everything. Either that or a stripe. 
  9. When you go to a craft show, what do you look for? 
  10. Greg has been so excited this week that dinner has been at a pretty reasonable hour. 
  11. I'm hoping to get some more freezer meals completed this summer. After my original attempt, I never made time in another weekend to do much else besides make some more refried beans and black beans. Homemade refried beans are so easy and cheap. You should try it.
  12. Do you keep lists of previous meal plans? I do because I like to review them when I feel in a cooking rut and see what I haven't made in a while. I found some of the lists (I didn't say I manage to keep them all in one place like I should!) today. So we are having King Ranch Chicken tonight. 
  13. Can you tell there was no official meal plan for this week? I'm winging it. 
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

a fish story

It all started in January.

The fifth grade teachers received the goldfish for the science kits ~ but the rotation of science kits had not been delivered to the school yet. After a couple of days, Stephanie and her classmates each trekked home with a goldfish in a baggie. We had a choice to make. Either we could get a smallish fish bowl, change the water constantly, get annoyed with the whole process and hope someone forgets to feed the fish soon. 

Or, we could go all out and make a nice home for the guy. 

We picked choice number two and bought a five gallon tank ~ and more fish ~ and habitat decorations ~ and a bubble maker ~ testing kits ~ chemical solutions ~ and rocks. We bought another goldfish, a fruit tetra, and five neon tetra (tiny, tiny little guys). Greg set up the tank and we established a feeding schedule. All was right with the fish world. 

A week later the original goldfish got sickly and swam down the porcelain whirlpool into the great unknown. 

Time went on and the new goldfish, named Nemo by the kids, grew and grew and grew. We joked around that he must really be a shark, not a goldfish. He went from being about and inch and a half long to about three inches long. Scary! 

And then the little neons started disappearing. We could only find four. We joked that Nemo must have eaten it. Greg emptied and cleaned the entire tank. Not even a fish carcass was found. Then another disappeared, then another. Huh? Still, we joked about the shark eating the fish since we could never find any remains.

One day we found a floater. As everyone gathered around to witness the circle of life and wonder why the little ones keep dying, Nemo nibbled a chunk of the little fish.! He really was eating the little ones!

Eventually, we were left with the shark and the fruit tetra until one day the kids and I came home from the library to find that there was just a little fishy left. No more Nemo. Hmmm. 

After a good tank cleaning, we went to buy more fish. No more sharks goldfish were allowed! These little bitty fiddler crabs caught our eye. They skittered all over the place and some of them waved their big claws in the air. We found out they are bottom feeders. Excellent! We'll take one. The fish guy asked if we wanted a male or female. 


Then he said the females do all the work and the males like to show off (hmpf, typical). Greg and I looked at each other and both said, "Male!" After all, it was the showing off that got our attention in the first place. 

There is some confusion as to this guy's name. The kids named him Snapper. I named him Crabby Patty. Greg thinks my name is funnier. One problem, he rarely shows off. We think he's lonely, but we didn't want to buy a whole pack of them in case it didn't work out ~ remember the shark?

Now that we've had him a couple of weeks and he's still alive and he hasn't managed to escape ~ he keeps trying ~ we think we'll go get a few more. Maybe one more male so they can have a show-off contest and a couple of females to give them a reason to show off.

We also got another fruit tetra so the other one wouldn't be lonely and five of these little zebra guys. The zebras love to swim fast, chase each other, and weave in and out of the grasses. Since the shark no longer lives in this habitat, they are not in danger of losing life and fin.

All this because of a ten cent goldfish that died within a week.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

bon voyage

One of our teachers is retiring this year. Bob is an avid boater & water skier. When our school first opened, some of the office ladies spruced up the chicks' staff bathroom with some sunflowers, bird houses, and picket fencing. Not to be outdone, Bob brought in a bunch of water gear ~ surf board, life jacket, etc. for the boys' bathroom. For the record, yes, I have seen it.

When the time came for the staff to plan Bob's retirement party, a nautical theme was really the only choice. Second grade was charged with desserts. The office manager found some cute stuff for us online.  Originally, we were going to have anchor & sailboat sugar cookies and cupcakes with life preservers. Then one day during a grade level meeting things got all topsy turvy because we couldn't find the cookie cutters on short notice, so we switched. Some made life preserver sugar cookies dipped in water chocolate. Suzanne and I were assigned cupcake duty. Because of scheduling issues, I ended up doing them myself.

Let me tell you that when I first thought of this task, I was thinking that it would be a piece of cake. Fondant? Never used it before in my life? No worries, I can handle it. How hard could it be?

As the time got closer and closer to actually making the cupcakes, I seriously wondered what sort of coma I was in when I agreed to this. People take classes to learn how to do this. All I did was consult my friend, Alana, on how to go about dyeing and handling the fondant.

It was not an easy job ~ there were snags along the way. As I was cutting out the pieces for the sails they were drying up. So I covered them with a damp paper towel. Then the paper towel dried and they stuck to the paper towel! Except I didn't realize this until I finished cutting out the blue discs and was ready to assemble.  A wash of panic rushed over me and he almost ended up with just blue frosted cupcakes ~ just the water. Luckily I was able to spritz the towels with water and they came off just fine. Crisis averted.

Fifty cupcakes later, they turned out pretty cute from twenty feet away. I am still critical about the close up view, however.

When I retold my experience to Alana, she mentioned using Crisco on your hands to cut down the stickiness and to moisten the fondant. Crisco? That's right, she did tell me that in our first conversations. I was using corn starch the way you use flour when rolling out cookies or pie crust. I'm sure that didn't contribute at all to the dryness, right? Ahem.

As Greg's dad says, "What did you learn from this?" I don't know if fondant is for me. But I won't rule it out in the future.

Maybe I should take a class....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

thirteen on thursday

  1. First and foremost, let me just say that I can count the days left of school on one hand now. That's right, just three and a half days left. Not that I'm counting.
  2. I went out to eat Mexican food and see Eclipse with some of the girls from work last night. I had a great time. The whole Team Edward or Team Jacob debate? Why do we have to choose sides? I say while we are indulging the nonreality of the movies anyway, we choose to be Team Both. 
  3. I'm way behind on everything ~ crafts I've promised, housework, laundry ~ everything. It always gets this way right before a school break. 
  4. I'm really ready for a break from school. Can I say that enough?
  5. As much as I am anxious for the school year to be over, I am sad that it will be over. These are Stephanie's last days as a "staff kid" at our school. She won't be there bugging me hanging out before and after school. Next year she will move on to the next step in her schooling and will not be coming to school with Heather and me. I am in a panic.
  6. I just added the 13th book I read this year to my list. Twenty-two to go. 
  7. It's getting hot here. Really hot. Every year about this time I wonder why we continue to choose to live in such heat. Ugh! 
  8. I thought I had a lot to say, but have realized that thirteen is a really big number when you apparently have little in your brain worth repeating. It must be the heat!
  9. I had my first rodeo with fondant while making some retirement party cupcakes this week. My hands are still blue and red. I'll share more of that with you later.
  10. It's my turn to bring lunch for the 2nd grade teachers tomorrow. We are having chicken salad (the kind with grapes and almond slivers ~ yum) on croissants, veggies & dip, and fruit pizza. All cool things.
  11. One of my students had his mom specially write me a note inviting me to his baptism this weekend. How can I say no to that!?
  12. Did I mention that school is almost out?
  13. Do you think it's too late to put up our 4th of July decorations around the house? This holiday always sneaks up on me because it's so early in the month ~ so the 4th. Ah, who are we kidding ~ everything sneaks up on me!
Happy Thursday!