Tuesday, January 31, 2012

31/366: The Derby

It's that magical time.

When grown men become boys.

This year, the grown women became boys as well.

I am still amazed to hear from parents things like "They just put you with fast cars to make you look slower." or "Why haven't you raced, this ____ car has gone three times already, that's not fair?"

This is Cub Scouts, they aren't intentionally trying to make you look bad, you are doing that just fine for yourself.

Big Boy's car made it into the finals and all the cars were really close.  There never seemed to be one that was much faster than another.  I'd love to see the splits, tenths of seconds I'm sure.  Due to the closeness in speeds, we had a Race Off...never before seen (by me). Big Boy and another car did two heats by themselves...very exciting, for everyone.

And in the end, the black car won third overall, Big Boy's Turtle car (yes, I know it is blue) came in Fourth Overall, but won a First Place in his Den.  I think he was happier for the first than he would have been for Third Overall.

He is a good kid.  He is a good sport, didn't show a ton of emotion, didn't jump up and down at the wins, and didn't pout at the losses.  I love this boy.

Oh, and the Little Guy, too.

Incidentally, they both told me they were really happy, I just need to look at their eyes.  The mouths don't show happiness.

Here is a quick video of one of the heat wins for Turtle Car.

Monday, January 30, 2012

30/366: New Life

A very good friend of mine decided after she had made 21 blanket squares that she had enough of crocheting and it wasn't for her.

Along with all her needles, hooks and yarn, came those little squares.  In pink, white and yellow, they didn't have much use in a home with two boys.

Two weeks ago, I was "hanging out" in the basement with my son and started organizing some things in my studio.  I came across the squares and decided to finish this blanket for my friend, who just happens to be pregnant with a girl.

I had planned on making a bunch more squares when I realized...blech, I don't like making these squares.  So, I changed it up a bit and made the squares bigger with two rounds of double crochet.  I stitched them all together and added a pale pink scalloped edge.  It's smaller than a bath towel and I think it's the perfect size for everything! 
But, the best part of giving and receiving a handmade blanket, was that two friends worked on it together.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

29/366: Santa Fe Chicken

Food photos are not my forte.

Although this appears somewhat edible, it tastes so much better.

I was inspired by this link from Pinterest:

The above dish has more fresh ingredients and was made in the crock pot for 8 hours, neither of which I had.  So, I improvised.

Gluten Free Santa Fe Chicken
8-10 Skinless Chicken Tenders
3 cups of Salsa
1 can black beans
2 cups frozen corn
Shredded Cheddar to top

I cooked the chicken on the stove top in a skillet with a little orange juice.  I like the acidity of the OJ infused into the chicken.  As that was nearly done, I shredded the chicken in the pan in big chunks.  This also helps it cook faster.  Then I added the salsa and let that cook a bit.  Then I opened up my spice cupboard and started adding:  Cumin (always), onion powder, little garlic powder, Forward Seasoning from Penzeys (a tex mex type seasoning, you could use a chili seasoning), salt and pepper.

Add in the beans and corn and let simmer until you are ready to eat. 

The chicken was super tender, the cheese on top was just the right amount.  My photos are leftovers that I microwaved...just as good, if not better.  See the steam on my camera lens?


Saturday, January 28, 2012

28/366: Monsters


It is late Saturday, windy and cold, nursing a migraine, and I am too lazy to do a 'proper' post.

I am sharing a photo that my Big Boy took this afternoon. He is obsessed with these key covers ever since I got them for Christmas (again, when I received them).

Friday, January 27, 2012

27/366: {this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

26/366: Nutella Cookie Adaptation

I can't necessarily claim this one as my own, but I will say, I made a lack luster product shine!

Wegmans, our amazing grocery store in the Northeastern USA, carries a ton of Gluten Free products and recently tripled their offerings. 

One item that caught my attention was frozen sugar cookie dough.  It was expensive...but the convenience!  Each week when I go shopping, I try to find one new item and give it a shot.  This was the cookie dough week.  The dough is made by Gillians, here is a stock photo:

The can I bought was the same size, the colors were less green and more yellows and pinks.  The next day, I cracked open the container and decided to make a single batch.

Oh.  Blech.

One more.

Eh.  It was very "gluten free tasting".  That bland, crumbly, blah.  That said, I still ate them on those occasions you just need a little cookie.  Then my cookie met Nutella.  They were so dry, I dipped the last two into Nutella.

Hello Cookie!

Can you guess what I did next???

My cookie met Nutella BEFORE it hung out in the oven.  With absolutely no measuring, I added one part Nutella to 3 parts cookie dough...very mathematical people.  Mixed it up in my hands and formed balls.

I lightly pressed them flat and stuck them in the oven.  Once they came out, I sprinkled a bit of sugar on top.

That is a pleasant cookie.  It isn't the best I've made, but it's a cookie.  With Nutella...need I say more?

And, they are pretty to look at.

The remaining 4 dough balls were rolled in sugar and not pressed flat...not so good. 

But I still ate them.

All of them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

25/366: Audra Mae

I am having a love affair.

With the Sons of Anarchy.

All of them.  The big jawed one to the chubby one and most importantly, the hot one.

One episode used this a version of Forever Young with Audra Mae.  The video is random bikers, not the Sons.

Love it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

24/366: The Box

I have a little pond in my backyard, fairly close to the house.

We put it in to eliminate all the greenery that we had near the house that housed a plethora of little mice.  Mean mice.  Mice that found a way into my home, under the heater.  With those creepy nails scratching at my carpet.  Luckily, they never made it into the living space, but we heard them and saw their little freaky feet.

Back to the Pond.  During the winter, I change out the fountain and filter with an aerator.  Simple pump with a tube that has a spongy looking hard block at the end that creates bubbles.  The pump is stored in this tool box that was modified with a couple holes and an exhaust tube that resembles a periscope.

Last year it worked great and I only lost one fish (I didn't expect that one to make it anyway, he was an indoor fish).

This year, the pump has been running hard.  Making a loud humming noise as if it were knocked around or suffocated.  (Do you get were I am going?).

My mind began to imagine that cute little family of mice, taking up residency in my pond pump box.  The warmth of the pump, the shelter, I didn't think it was a stretch.

I had asked Tom to open the box for me as I am frightened of what I may find.  I worked myself up so much that my heart was racing when I finally got up the nerve to go out and check yesterday.  I had a clear path for running as I slowly listened and flicked open the latch.  Deep breath. 

With my nervous hands, I flung open the box and knocked it a bit and jumped when I saw the frozen frog!

A frog fell right out at my feet.

The resin frog.  The decorative frog that is my fountain in the summer.  Nicely stored in the box.  I had forgotten I stored it in there.

I'm such a dork.  I was scared of something I did myself.

And the mice?

None.  The box had some water on the bottom and I believe the noise was due to an un-level footing for the motor.


Monday, January 23, 2012

23/366: Hand Warmer Tutorial

This is such an adorable little craft for Valentines Day.

It has simple stitches and minimal supplies.

You can find the entire tutorial right here...if you make one, show me!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

21/366: Lazy Saturday

We have no plans, other than hanging out together.

Perhaps some origami for Big Boy.

Writing homework for O.

Reading something other than pharmaceutical books for Tom.

And for me, a little crochet, perhaps some extra day job work to decrease my enormous pile, but most importantly to snuggle under my snuggle and dream of things to come.

Friday, January 20, 2012

20/366: {this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

19/366: Boys

We had some new putter patter feet in our home on Monday.

It was fantastic!  I love this little boy.  I only borrowed him for the day to remind myself the joys of parenthood.

In the morning, I told Tom how I 'could do it again'.

By the fifth hour, I had changed my mind.

Boys are a lot of work.  Especially at this mighty age of one and a half.   Always moving.

I loved it.

Took a nap after he left, but loved it.

The best part of the day, was that my Big Boy stayed with me and our friend the whole day.  He played next to us and helped me out.  He talked to our friend as if he was 10 years old.  Important questions, observations, and instructions.  It was great.  BB has always been good with little ones, this time, was even better.  It made me wonder if other ADHD boys react the same way to young people.  Many parents worry about the tantrums and anger, but when sitting next to our friend, BB was sweet, caring and protective.

I asked the Big Boy if he thought we should have another kid. 

He said, "Yes.  But he needs to be 5 or 6 years old."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

18/366: Kindness of Somewhat Strangers

My boys aren't all that fond of their afternoon bus driver.  They say he is mean. 

The examples they give me are that he doesn't allow them to switch seats after the bus leaves the school.  He doesn't allow them to stand while bus is in motion.

They can't yell, stick their heads out the window or pretend fight with each other.

Poor boys...they aren't allowed to act like animals in a moving bus with no seat belts.

It wasn't until I heard from other parents that this bus driver isn't mean to just my boys.  Apparently, he is somewhat nasty.

That said, if I were to be driving a bus load of kids around, I might be a tad on the nasty side as well.  Heck, an hour in the car with only two children, strapped in, is enough to make me go wacky.

Yesterday, O got off the bus giggling.  It wasn't until the bus doors closed and he was close to the house that I noticed he didn't have his backpack.  He left it on the bus.

So I sent them through the backyard to the next street to wave the bus down and retrieve the backpack.  Had I thought for a second how much rain we have had in the past day, I may have abandoned that idea.  Big Boy came back with wet pants up to mid thigh. 

With no backpack.

He looked at the bus, but never waved him down or talked to the driver.  Note to self:  explain expectations prior to releasing big boy into a water bog.

I called the bus garage and the lady was very kind.  Unfortunately, the garage would be closed when the bus driver arrived after the high school drop offs, so we would have to come retrieve the backpack the following morning after 7:00 AM.  Ugh.

I had a discouraging day at work, and then the backpack debacle really set me off.  I just couldn't see that it was only a backpack and we can get it back, not a big deal.  But when it is combined with other factors, that is one big backpack straw.

Since I was already in a mood, I had the boys write a couple thank you cards that were severely late.  As we were writing, a school bus stops in front of our house!

The Bus Driver was dropping off O's backpack!

I have never in my life heard of such a thing.  I am ever so grateful that not only was the back pack intact, but returned without any issues.  Evidently, it is easier for a bus driver to return the backpack to the child's house, than it is to deliver it to the bus garage, most likely due to the closing of the office before all buses return.

Thank you kind bus driver.  I'll stick up for you always.

And O had one more thank you note to write!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

17/366: Hearty Giveaway - The Results

We (I) had a WHOPPING THREE comments for the Hearty Giveaway.  Not sure how I feel about this.  I mean, 3? 

Although that is dissappointing, what is more disappointing is that I LOVE all three of my peeps that commented.  What's a girl to do?

In order of comment posting time.

Here goes...my eyes are closed, I'm not picking favorites....

List Randomizer
There were 3 items in your list. Here they are in random order:


Timestamp: 2012-01-17 15:38:37 UTC

It may not be pretty...but Liz, by way of Random.org, you are the winner!

I expect some dark chocolate hearts with mousse in them soon!

Ha...just kidding. Thank you so much my three friends, for validating my work.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

15/366: Old Chicago

Chicago is such a great city. Modern and antique, kitsch and fashionable.

The brand new Trump Tower sits in the morning shadow of the Wrigley Building.

The bricks of the Allerton Hotel exterior are weathered and wise.

A giant Marilyn Monroe sculpture stands with dress in the air and snow on her face.

The folks asking for money are kind when you pass by.

Every single person in the hotel elevator wished each other good day as if we were all there as a big family.

It's a city that will always feel like home, no matter how many times I fly away from it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

14/366: A New Lens

 My husband got me a great new lens for my camera that I had highlighted.  Only it didn't work with my camera, so I exchanged it for one that did.  It came to me on Wednesday and I can't wait to really get into it.  It is for really close up photos.  I love how close I can get and the photo still firing.

Really, really close.  The soft blur all around is super cool.  Love love.

You know what else I love?  That boy up there.  The cool rocker with the headband.  I love that heart of his.  And Tom reminded me the other day that this boy is the original long eyelash boy.  They amaze me at every blink.

Today is the last day to include your comment for a chance to win a felt heart!  See this post to enter.

Friday, January 13, 2012

13/366: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

12/366: Leaving On a Jet Plane

Away from the office.
Away from my boys.
Away from this city.
Just for a little while.

I wish they were coming along.

Maybe next time.


You still have a couple days to include your comment for a chance to win a felt heart! See this post to enter.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

11/366: Perspective

I was able to spend a little one on one time with the little guy this morning.  Big brother has Morning Fitness at the school for 40 minutes, so O and I spent that time at Tim Horton's across the street.  O has been so excited for this.  The alternative, riding the bus without big brother brought him to tears on Monday and I had to drive him in anyway.

The coffee shop has Wi-Fi...I love that feature in a coffee shop, library, book store.  O hadn't read his homework book so after a couple quick TimBits, we got to work.

As lovely as this was for O and me, I couldn't stop thinking about some friends facing terrible health issues.  It surely takes the hustle and bustle and planning and driving and normal everyday tasks that, at the time, feel so important and puts those into perspective.  What is important?  Really, truly important?  Committees, a spotless home, the perfect store bought gift? 

None of it.

Family is what is important.  Quiet time spent with the ones you love.

Praying for my friends and their family.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10/366: Hearty Giveaway

Remember this? 

You can find the tutorial right here.  But, if you like this and don't want to get all Martha...I have one to give away.  Just leave a comment here (or on the Facebook post) and tell me your favorite Valentines Day gift to give, or that you have received or wish to receive.

I'll pick a name at random via my Random Number Generator Picker Name Out of Bag Boy.  I'll close comments on Saturday evening.  And ship this out to the lucky winner.

Monday, January 9, 2012

9/366: My Boy and His Eyelashes

I love these cheeks, this button nose and those eyelashes.

One of my New Year's resolutions, in combination with getting into a daily routine with my blog, is to take more photos.  Mostly, to take better photos.  Candids, how I love a candid.
Maybe even get in one or two this year.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

8/366: Toffee Tutorial

Candy making.  It can go either way.

My family never ate peanut brittle after the time my mom was making it and the brittle starting spewing all over the kitchen.  Cupboards, curtains, floor, my mother.  I don't recall it happening, but remember the stories about it.  To this day, I've never had a piece of peanut brittle.  Perhaps that will be the next candy attempt.

So this is my Toffee.  The recipe, all worn and coffee stained, is simple.
2 cups butter (yup, four sticks)
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Combine those ingredients in a heavy pan and heat on medium heat.  Once the butter melts, stop stirring.  I know, doesn't make sense...that sugar will burn! You will stir occasionally, but the less you stir, the faster the toffee turns dark. 

The following pictures show how the color changes in the butter/sugar mixture.  Each photo was taken 3 to 5 minutes after the previous:

The recipe calls for the mixture to reach 285 degrees.  That is the third photo.  Either my candy thermometer was wrong, or I like dark toffee.  Probably both.  This time, I didn't even use the thermometer.  The trick is...as soon as you think it's ready, leave it on for another five minutes.  And when you think that is ready, give it another couple minutes.  I have taken it off many times too early and the toffee doesn't have the snap, it's more of a crumble.  

While the toffee is cooking and you are not stirring (stay away from that spoon!), line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.  I really like using parchment paper, gives the toffee a very smooth bottom, and who doesn't like a smooth bottom???

You can also chop your nuts.

Any nuts will do.  These are the Cocoa Roasted Almonds...good stuff.  Be careful, the almond skins will stick to your teeth, so there is no sneaking a little piece before you give it to your cousin for Christmas because her husband will point out 'there is something in your teeth, right in the middle" (true story, grateful for the point out, Chris).
Okay, if you think it's done, and you smell a touch of burning smell, it is probably ready.  The sugar will look like lava erupting in little puddles with dark rings around them.

Now pour onto your cookie sheet (make sure it has sides!) and let it set for a bit.  Here is the humdinger...add two cups of chocolate chips.  BUT wait...I put the chips on too fast and they sunk!  See this photo, center piece has the two divots from the chips.
You want the chips to melt from the heat of the toffee, but not be swallowed by the softness of the toffee.  Sing your alphabet, it should be ready for the chips.  Sprinkle the chips best you can over all the toffee and wait.  Yes, wait.  I know, it's hard.  I hate waiting.  The chips will begin to glisten. Ahhh lovely sight.  Then take your spreader knife and smooth out those chips.  Lick your fingers, then sprinkle the chopped almonds (any nut would do) on top of the chocolate and take your spreader or a plastic baggie over your hand to lightly press the nuts into the chocolate.

Stick in the refrigerator till all parts are hard.  The chocolate will take the longest to harden.
Once this is nice and hard, smack it on the counter.  Or gently break it up and put it in a cute dish.  Go ahead, after all that waiting you surely deserve a piece. 

But don't forget to check your teeth. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

7/366: Gluten Free at Red Robin

If you are gluten free, or know someone who is, may I suggest the gluten free roll at Red Robin?

I've had enough bad gluten free rolls in my 9 years of being gluten free to know what is good.  And this, my friends, rocks!

The folks at Red Robin grill up this bun and it was delivered by the manager, assuring me that this was the gluten free bun.  It was airy and filling at the same time.  Just delicious.

It was much prettier all wrapped up in the paper instead of flat on a plate.  Red Robin also offers lettuce wrapped buns, but I find those to be so messy and frustrating.

Try it out...now, if they would just carry real ginger ale, this would be MY place.

Friday, January 6, 2012

6/366: Initial Mug Tutorial

I made a couple mugs for our neighbors and Grandma's this Christmas.  They are so cute.  I was inspired by this post.

The porcelain Pebeo paint in the tube is really easy to use and I barely made a dent in the tube.  I chose the outliner paint for it's long tip.  I didn't have the option of choosing a pen as the shop I was at was in the rearranging process and they were no where to be found.

This is simple, you print out your picture or letters from the computer, cover the back of the paper in pencil (yes, just like you did as a kid) and tape it on to the mug.

Taking a pencil, trace the letters onto the mug.  After removing your paper, you will see the faint graphite from the pencil.  Begin tracing your letters with the outliner paint.  For the inside, I squeezed a little paint, then pushed it around with the tip to give it a scratched look.

I made one for myself, too.  They are so quick and easy.  The original poster found their mugs at the thrift store, but I went to a big box store and found these for $2 a piece.  I love the big size.  This would also be cute with a colored mug.

We will definitely do this again, this time, the kids will draw a picture and I'll assist them in tracing the lines on the mug.  The best part, if they mess up or don't like it, you just wipe off the paint and start over.

Once you have your final product, you allow the mug to sit for 24 hours, then put it in a cold over, set for 325 degrees.  Once the oven is warmed to 325, continue to bake for 35 minutes.  Then done!

Dishwasher and food safe (not sure about the microwave).

This was one of my favorite holiday crafts, so simple and quick!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I have my 'set' of blogs that I read daily.  I have another set that I read once in a while.  I have a couple websites I go to often, some only when a link from Facebook looks interesting.

One of those sites I visit from links on Facebook is Regretsy.  My cousin turned me onto Regresty a couple years ago when the main topic was making fun of handmade items.  I still wonder if one day one of my monster purses will show up...but so far, so good.

What has happened with Regretsy is remarkable.  This woman, April, has taken her mockery of DIY and moved people to action.

This Christmas, she, with the support of her readers, gave Christmas gifts to 200 children that weren't going to get many/or any gifts this year.  She has a group called "April's Army" that supports Etsy sellers that are barely making ends meet.  If April says, "This poor girl needs a new car so she can take her elderly mom to the doctor", she will get endless offers of money within minutes of posting.  It is quite amazing.

During the Christmas giving for children, PayPal did some crooked things to the donations, assuming they were bogus and April was doing something illegal.  Turns out, PayPal apologized and gave each family a $200 gift card as an apology.  It was a big scandal.

This evening, the Regretsy post was from the Mailbag.  A note from an eBay seller that used PayPal to complete the transaction.  Seller sold an antique violin.  Buyer felt he/she was scammed and the label was fake.  PayPal claimed the violin was "counterfeit" and ordered Buyer to smash the violin.  In total destruction.

I can't believe the Buyer, that spent $2,500 on this instrument, would simply listen to some schlocky at PayPal and physically destroy this.  You can read about it here WITH WARNING...adult language abounds. 

But what I really want to point out to you today are the comments that follow this post from Regretsy.  After I closed my dropped mouth and took in a breath, I started reading the comments.  Rage, utter confusion, disbelief were all common threads.  Then the magic of Regretsy readers started.  They offered help, monetary help, without prompt.  Donating handmade crafts, offers to purchase crafts, offers to send money for legal costs.

One reader happens to work next to the Museum of Musical Instruments and posted this story on the Facebook page of members of the Museum and is following up in person tomorrow. 

Another reader was a lawyer, offered his advice and future assistance.

I am inspired by Regretsy. 

It's like finally meeting that huge biker dude with all the tattoos that you were afraid of all summer, then meet him only to find out he is a knitter.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


One down...one to go.

The foot works up quite fast.  Hope to have the completed pair to show you tomorrow.

Also working on a couple things in my head, that's where all the preliminary work happens.  Thinking some linen blanquilts and some baby girl sewing.  I love having TWO baby girls to make for.

Hope your day back to work or school was productive and tolerable.

Monday, January 2, 2012


On the road home from Macomb, MI, working with a wool sock yarn. I rarely ever use a variegated yarn, but saw this sock yarn for 50% off and tossed it in my basket.

I wanted to make socks for a new little girl that will grace our good friends in a couple months.

I researched, envisioned and dreamed of the most adorable little tootsie covers. I wanted socks, not booties.

Fighting the norm.

When will I ever learn?

I may just have learned my lesson this weekend.

1st attempt: Hooked through both loops of cuff instead to back loop. Rip out.

2nd Attempt: Tried to follow directions with 44 stitches off the cuff of sock. Too many, rip out.

3rd Attempt: Adjust spacing off the cuff to two stitches per row for about 32 stitches (minus 12 from pattern instructions). Continue with three inches of single crochet, not liking how blousey the single crochet looked coming off the cuff. Rippit.

4th Attempt: Crochet two together to attempt to decrease the blousiness of the sock. Dislike, but continue to heel. Stuck. Can't follow darn pattern for nothing. Get hit in head with rubber ball from back seat. Ripppppiiitt.

5th Attempt: Dislike this project, yet trying to salvage something. Double crochet off cuff to make leggings! No heels in leggings! Stupid, looks wrong, unwearable. Frog it.

6th Attempt: New pattern, new day.

My lesson: Sometimes following a pattern doesn't work, and sometimes it does. And sometimes winging it works and sometimes it doesn't. It makes no difference if I wing it or follow a pattern, the odds are even.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The day it begins.

I am going to attempt to post everyday for this entire year. 

And...it's a Leap Year so you get 366 posts.

They may be little quotes, single pictures or little projects.  This won't change your life, but it might just change mine.

Happy New Year!