Back to School.
Three words that can cause joy for parents and nervousness, excitement and fear in children…and me. All of those emotions and more for me.
After being out of school for (cough)16(cough) years, I am going back. Or going -period-, I guess, since I’ve never been to college.
I’m sure some of you are shaking your head in puzzlement. I have kids! A family! Also I can obviously put words together to make semi coherent sentences, right? So why school? Why now?
Well…honestly, because my children are getting older, definitely on the road to being trusted enough to be left at home alone for periods of time. When I was pregnant with my first daughter and working at a low paying but fun for a 20 year old clerk’s job, we agreed that the cost of childcare matched up against my meager paycheck just wasn’t worth it. Why hand over my entire pay check to a stranger that gets to spend all day with my child, when I could do the same thing and be able to really be there for her growing up? When my second daughter came along a little over a year later, it was a sealed deal. No job on my pay grade was worth it. It was a choice that we made, but one I have never regretted.
Except maybe on those few days when all my children were all small, and I was sick, and suffering from a combination of fever induced delirium, cabin fever and ‘hey mommy, look what I just drew on your freshly painted wall with marker?’
Have you ever seen Overboard? That movie with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell? There’s a scene where her husband comes home and she’s sitting in a chair, after a hard, crazy day with her rambunctious children (boys, naturally) and she’s staring off into space making nonsense noises. This is what I have most often referred to in those days. Heck, I felt that was last week. 😛
(Watch this: It’s hilarious.)
Anyway, my husband just recently went back to college, to train for a job that didn’t include plunging stranger’s toilets. He is absolutely enchanted with college and the whole process and so proud of himself for finishing and finishing well, he really inspired me to want to do the same. Just don’t tell him that, ok? Then he’ll get a big head, and know that I actually listen to what he says…and I’ve spent a really long time disabusing him of that notion. But really, he worked full time, went to school full time and came out of it with a good degree, and honestly a better attitude about everything. So it only took a little gentle prodding for me to fill out the paperwork and do the things necessary to begin.
And now, with only a few days left before the start of the semester, I can share with you that I am about 80% scared out of my mind, 15% sure I’m going to bomb this whole thing like I did my entrance exams for Math (HA! a 19! I didn’t even think they grade that low! Should have paid more attention to middle school math) and maybe the last 5% can be reserved for being excited. Not about school, maybe, but more about learning a new thing. I’ve always been self-taught; if I wanted to learn something I picked up a book or researched it until I was confident. Or, if I started and needed to set it aside for a while, I did. Now…now it will be different. There will be instructors and tests and (Good Lord!) group projects.
And time management! Can I even do that?
I think I can. With the part of my brain not paralyzed by fear, I know that my confidence will grow as these first semesters progress. My friends and loved ones are totally stoked for me to have this opportunity. I am totally stoked to have their support and my own personal cheering squad. Even my kids are excited by the prospect of mom going to school, though I think that excitement will wear off after about the second week. We’ve had many a discussion about how I will need them to pitch in more around the house, how when you see a stray sock on the floor or a displaced toy, you should pick it up, rather than step over it. And they have all nodded their heads with angelic faces. And all the while I knew they were going to turn around, step over that sock or that matchbox car and go on about their business in blissful oblivion.
I may survive two years of school. I still have doubts about whether or not my house will be standing at the end of it.
My lunch break/bathtub reading at the moment is Under the Dome by Stephen King. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan, but I like a good number of his books, especially The Dark Tower series, which is about as extreme in the direction of fantasy as he’s ever gotten. This is probably why I like that particular series so much.
I’ve only just started Under the Dome, but so far I’m enjoying it. It looks a bit daunting at one thousand pages, but Stephen King has a very comfortable writing style that makes his books easy to read. I’m sure I’ll blast through it in no time.
The premise is basically a “dome” of sorts (in quotations because I’m told it’s not exactly spherical in any sense of the word) closing off an entire town from the outside world. I haven’t gotten too much into the mechanics of how the dome itself works yet, but it’s been made clear that one cannot get through it simply by walking.
The beginning of the story depicts the dome falling into place from the viewpoint of several different characters: a pilot and his student, a drifter who is only feet away from getting out of town, and even a woodchuck, among others.
I find different points of view on the same scene to be fascinating, so obviously I’m enjoying myself. I’ve been spoiled by fantasy authors and their love of introducing as many characters as possible, so any time I can get this outside of the fantasy genre I get excited.
I’m looking forward to getting to know all these characters and finding out what they’re going to do and how they’re going to interact with each other once the knowledge sinks in that they can’t leave. And, it goes without saying (but I will anyway, naturally) that I’m also looking forward to finding out the who, what, when, why and how of the dome itself. I’ll let you know when I get to the scary thing hiding in the sewers waiting to eat the children.
Once I finish the book, I’ll dive into the show, though I’ve heard that it’s very different, even a few episodes in.
Read this book? Stephen King fan? Fan of the show? Tell me about it! (but try not to spoil anything for me, ok? 😉 )
Tomorrow’s prompts: you today/ green/ shoes/ this happened today/ look down/ fitness/ leaves
Suffice it to say, real life is a bitch. A lot has happened over the last few months that has kept me from writing for this blog, and feeling creative in general.
I’m hoping to get back in the groove of things, and to do so I thought I’d try some writing prompts. Turns out they’re not so easy to come by, but I did find quite a few photography prompts and I was able to think of some things to say about a few of them, so I’m going to adapt them to suit my needs. I may use a few, or just one. We’ll see.
So the prompts I’ve pulled for today’s post are: something colorful, stash, homemade. These fit perfectly with a project that I’ve been considering for a while now.
I’ve been looking around for skirts to wear at my new job (selling medical equipment to emergency medical personnel), and I’m finding the selection in stores to be quite lacking, so I’ve decided to make my own.
Being the nerdy gal that I am, I of course turn to my hobbies for inspiration. I tend toward more vintage and historical fashions, and I frequently think about ways I can bring my favorite bits of those styles into my modern wardrobe. Of course, then there are the fashions in my favorite books, though they’re usually at least somewhat based on real styles. The Wheel of Time is no different, though there happens to be a LOT of talk about clothing in the series and who wears what and why. There are a lot of wonderful specifics.
In the spirit of the series, I’ve crafted a pattern for a skirt in a style that I’m going to call Aes Sedai Modern.
I went through my fabric stash, and found a nice brown wool(ish) fabric that looks like it has enough for a skirt. This seemed like a sign, seeing as I’d definitely be a Brown Sister if I had the choice. You know, and if it were a real thing.
The skirt is planned to be a pencil style, with a ruffle at the bottom, and I decided to add pleats with colored inserts, each one a color of an Ajah. Fat Quarters from Joann’s were on sale, so I had a bit of a look through at them. I decided to play it loosey goosey on the patterns, but sticking to things like spheres, vines, flowers or just thread like squiggles. Very low stress.
All told I’m happy with my choices, and I can’t wait to see it come together!
Tomorrow’s prompts: light/change/in my cup/bubbles/cozy/car/lunchtime. No real idea yet which of those I’ll choose or what I’ll write about, but that’s the point, right? 😉
How do you break through your blocks?
Are there any styles from books, shows, history, or anything else that you’d love to wear if you had the chance?
I do not like to cook.
I know, I know. It’s a shocker. I LOVE to eat, but the cooking part is not so much fun.
That being said, I have found a few recipes lately that I love enough to share. This, too, is a shocker! What probably won’t surprise you, though, is that they’re easy, fast and delicious!
The first recipe is one I found on Pinterest. I started a board there called Nailed It! for the recipes and patterns that I have actually used, loved and are willing to do again. So, I found this recipe, but the link was kind of blah, so I went in search of a better link and a good clear recipe. I found it with Kim over at Makin’ it Mo’ Betta . You can head over there for her recipe, trust me, it is worth your time! My family of picky eaters gobbled this one up!
Bubble Up Pizza
The next recipe is one that I got from a family friend during a pool party. She made this Spicy Crackers and we ate until our mouths were on fire! But they were sooo good! Every other month or so I get a craving for these crackers and I end up eating probably the entire thing by myself.
1 bx saltines (or oyster crackers)
1 pck of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix (2tbs if you have the giant container)
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs red pepper flakes
1 Cup vegetable oil (or light tasting olive oil)
Put the crackers in a sealable container, like Tupperware or whatever.
Mix together your oil and other ingredients. Add more pepper flakes if you’re feeling particularly spicy that day. Pour the mixture over the crackers and close up your Tupperware. Shake and turn your container, making sure to coat the crackers as thoroughly as possible. Repeat the shaking and turning every 15 minutes or so for two hours.
The third recipe was found –somewhere- (internet, food magazine, I have no idea anymore) and since then my aunt has made it often for potlucks and birthday dinners. My picky eaters don’t usually like red pasta sauce but they do love ravioli so…Lazy Day Lasagna has become a staple. I have a family of 7, and we always have leftovers.
Lazy Day Lasagna
(feeds 10, at least)
2 packages cheese ravioli
2 jars pasta sauce
1 package frozen spinach
1 package mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350°. Microwave the spinach and wring out the excess water. Spray two glass casserole dishes with the Pam. Spread a little sauce on the bottom of each dish to keep the ravioli from sticking. Begin layering each pan with the following:
A layer of frozen ravioli (no, you don’t have to cook them before hand)
A layer of spinach
A layer of sauce
A layer of cheese
Repeat until the dishes are full. End with a layer of sauce. Top with extra cheese. Throw in oven for 25-35 minutes. When the sauce is bubbly and the ravioli’s are cooked through, it’s ready!
There you have it folks! Two meals and a snack, I hope you enjoy!
Please post comments if you have made these before or make them now! I’d love to know how you liked them!
In the way that most preteens do, my daughter decided to wait until the very last moment to inform me that she had to have something for science on Monday that:
1. Had to fit into a brown paper bag bag the size of a lunchbox, and
2. Could be experimented upon.
The rules and regulations for said experimentation were dodged around and avoided, and then I learned it was because no matter what her teacher had suggested, she had decided she only wanted to experiment on those grow your own dinosaur tablet thingies. You know…the things that look like medicine and you put them into water and watch them burst out, roaring mightily! (or at least, they did in my imagination…)
So one trip to the Dollar Store later, we had dinosaur tablets and nothing to do with them. We decided she could try and see how they developed in water, salt water and….hey! How about slime?!
Oh. My. God. Do you have any idea how many recipes on the Internet are for Nickelodeon type slime?? Do you know how many of them involve Borax, Clear glue, liquid latex or anything else not easily found under your kitchen sink on a Sunday afternoon? Finally, when I was in the middle of reaching for the wine bottle in desperation, we came across one that stated it was borax free and perfectly safe! And so…a blogpost was born.
Ask.com‘s version of Borax free, Nickelodeon Slime.
(btw…when I think of slime…I thought of THIS. This,however, is not what my daughter wanted. We will definitely be making that though, on a very in the near future time frame. Cause that stuff is rad.)
Anyway, The ingredients are:
2 cups water
4 cup cornstarch
Food coloring of choice.
The first thing I learned about making slime was this: my daughter can -not- scoop cornstarch! She had white powder substance -everywhere!- But that was ok…what experiments are neat and orderly?
We warmed the water on the stovetop, slowly adding in cups of cornstarch. I stirred, she poured, and we both waited. I’m not sure what exactly we thought was going to happen, but we were a little dissapointed when all that we could see was white water.
So, we deviated from the plan. We added in a cup of flour, because surely 4 cups of cornstach was a lot?
We turned down the heat on the stove because that’s what the instructions said to do. It didn’t make sense to me, since every time I’ve used cornstarch in gravy you’re supposed to wait til it boils but…who am I to judge? I’m certainly not the expert in slime development!
Then we stirred. And stirred. And it just stayed…..blah. Milky. Weak!
So we added another cup of flour. And another cup of cornstarch. And we stirred.
I think it was about at this time that my daughter looked at me and said, ” Are you sure you didn’t just make this up?”
It was also at this point that I said to myself, ” The Internet lies!!!”
All in all, it wasn’t too bad. It came to a consistency very much like gravy, so we decided it into two bowls and added food coloring.
My eldest daughter, by the way, despises the color pink, and of course insisted that I have no idea what I’m talking about and used an entire container of red food coloring proving to us both that I was right and no amount of red food coloring is going to make white goo red. Instead it just becomes more vibrantly pink!
She was not amused.
But I was!
A few hours later we took the slime out of the fridge and stirred. It seems the longer its cold, the firmer it gets. Nice to know!
Oh, and the science project? Success, though we inadvertently also learned that it goes bad after a week, fridge or no.
And when it goes bad, it smells like moldy death.
Hello, Readers! It has been quite some time since we’ve touched base with you! Things over here have been crazy and busy and we are so SO sorry to have neglected you! And so, as an apology, please enjoy reading about the mess I got myself into over the summer!
At the beginning of summer I made a post about all of the crafts I was super excited to try during the summer. With it being January and all and the kids back in school I can successfully report that we have tried none of them. Yes…you read that correctly, none of my Top Ten Crafts were done this summer! Looking back, I think perhaps that list was a bit overzealous, considering the amount of other stuff we had going on this year. Visits and pool time and babysitting, oh my! We did however, get some things started.
First, in preparation for our summertime Grammy visit, I saw something I thought might be neat (probably on Pinterest) and immediately decided that was a fantastic craft to accomplish while my niece was here. I bought wooden letters for each of the kids first initials and some paint. I figured they could each decorate their letter in their own style, with a variety of decorations to do so with. Well….then I actually took stock of my dwindling craft box. I planned to stop at the craft store(s) before they got here…and then I didn’t. So I planned to go to the craft store while they were here, and let the kids pick out what they wanted to decorate with. Well…that didn’t happen either. Before I knew it, it was the last week my niece and mother and law would be here and was still hadn’t done our craft!
On top of that, my niece had called me before they left, challenging me to help her create a jewelry holder, like those fancy metal dress forms. Challenge accepted, little girlie. We brainstormed, came up with a fantastic idea for a tree shaped hanger (more on that in a minute) and I told her I’d pick up molding clay.
Which…I didn’t…because well, it involved a trip to the craft store.
So there we were, craftless and sad. After a trip to the zoo, I had my husband stop at the craft store and I grabbed some shinies for the letters and the required clay for the jewelry box. I really wanted this big brick of clay from Mexico, but the entire package was written in Spanish and I only know the swear words so…I went with something a little smaller but whose directions were plainly in English. Then a day (or maye two) later we started on the letters. The paint jobs were varied, the painters all chose something totally their own, and I got to stand back, take pictures and not get painted on. Then we agreed that the letters should really have a day to dry, in case we needed a second coat.
(as an aside, I really wish I would have bought some kind of sealer or primer or both, because the paint dried way lighter than it showed wet and it was matte…lame!)
Then my niece came down with a cold. And we went out. And we went to urgent care (for the cold). And then we went out again. And sooner or later ( or, you know, two days before they were leaving) we realized we had to start the jewelry holder! So we put aside the letters to be completed during Thanksgiving break and took out all the goodies for the jewelry container.
This was so rad! I really wish we had started it earlier and also that I had made one for myself because it was way too much fun!
First we took a wire hanger and cut it into various lengths. Then we took a pair of pliers and twisted them together, Ina vague tree shaped form.
Once we had the limbs going in the direction she wanted and tied them together with tape, we had a pause, because what on earth were we going to use to hold it up?
Enter my husband, who has a crazy love for molding things with liquid plastic and very little opportunities. He said, “Hey, why don’t I just mold the base?” And so, he was in charge of that.
Except not really, because of course I didn’t like his tentative plan for using a bowl and had to stick my nose into it.
His job, not…you know, the mold…because who wants a mold of their nose?
Eventually there was a fine metal tree imbedded in an equally fine plastic bowl…and it was 11 o’clock at night. So we had my niece put it away for the night…and in an incredible crafting fail, ran out of time to finish. I ended up sending the molding clay home with her, with instructions for her to send me pictures when she finished it.
Things I learned from this:
1. I am totally not Martha Stewart.
1A. My niece is ok with this.
2. My crafting eyes are bigger than my crafting stomach.
3. I need to learn the difference between acrylic, tempra, water color, oil and water based paints. It would take the guesswork out of life but leave me less likely to make up cuss words when painting anything.
So, I have an interest in blacksmiths. I will admit that Perrin Aybara is top of my list of fictional characters that I’m in love with. I’m sure 75% of it, is that blacksmiths are like the green beret of making things, and I enjoy watching a project come together. Probably the rest of it is the fact that they, by way of their profession, naturally seem to be in control of themselves and the world around them. I guess in an era of impulse control issues, someone who is the antithesis of that type of behavior is attractive to me.
So at the library today I didn’t have anything specific I was looking for, so I wandered and did random searches on the computer. (Am I the only one who misses a proper card catalog, by the way? It seemed so much more straight forward than trying to find a computer and navigating the website, especially since my library is part of a network and any books you find may or may not be at that branch. Anyway.) One of the searches I did was for “blacksmith” under fiction.
Happily, one of the books on the first page was “Black Blade Blues” by J.A. Pitts. The description reads thusly:
“Sarah Beauhall is a young woman who has loved fire and the lure of the forge all her life. She is now living her dream as a blacksmith, by day creating works that are practical and fanciful, and working nights as a props manager for low-budget movies to pay the bills.
When Sarah’s favorite sword is broken on the set of a new movie, it sends the director into fits, and Sarah agrees to repair the blade to avoid reshooting scenes. One of the extras – who claims to be an actual dwarf – shows up at her forge and offers to help Sarah with her destiny.
That’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be magic, as he claims? Are dragons really living among us as shape-shifters, and are evil power brokers controlling our world? And why would he think that Sarah would be willing to kill a Portland investment banker just because he says that the guy is one of those supposed creatures?
She refused to believe…and then one of the dragons makes its move. Suddenly, what was unthinkable becomes all too real.
And Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine that is needed to save her world.”
The short blurb that was on the library’s computer also mentioned that Sarah is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I was intrigued.
As it was pouring out, I waited in the car and started the book before going in to my next errand. (Amusingly, I was waiting for it to stop raining so I could go buy a gallon of water. Lol) I’m now seven chapters in.
Not only has the SCA been mentioned a couple of times, but also Renn Faires, conventions, and the like. So we’ll have to play the “Was this written by a SCAdian?” game while I read the book. Obviously this is an author who has heard of these things, and has a passing knowledge (enough so far to know that SCAdians don’t use real swords, anyway), but we will have to see!
Aside from looking for the things that had initially captured my interest, I have to say that I can tell this is going to be a quick read. Not that it’s short. Just shy of four hundred pages, it’s a decently sized book, but the writing style is easy to follow, and so I’ll probably fly through it. The characters so far have been introduced smoothly and reasonably, and I don’t really have any questions about the plot. Except, perhaps, which group Black Briar is associated with, since Sarah seems to be involved in everything nerdy in order to sell her swords.
I’m loving that the main character is a female blacksmith. That just tickles me. Especially since it was written by a male author. I am kind of missing the apron in the cover art, but I guess I can forgive that. What’s the leather collar for though? I’m pretty sure that won’t protect her from anything a forge might throw at her.
Perhaps it will become apparent as I continue reading.
Want to read it? Click here to go through the author’s page: http://www.japitts.net/buy-the-books/ I’m not sure if he gets some kind of kickback if you buy it through their website, but it couldn’t hurt!
As a side note, I found this receipt in the book after I got it home. I’m always interested in what people use for bookmarks, and what those things might say about them. Looks like this person was travelling while reading, and bought a newspaper and a bottle of water at LAX back in July. Neat!