Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I did get to spend my birthday in CO though, which was fantastic. We crossed over the the state line at around 10 pm, so it definitely counted in my book. I joke that it's the most expensive birthday gift I've ever had. I'm exaggerating slightly though, because it's also the most expensive (and best, but not because of the expense) Christ-mas gift I've ever had. We are all so incredibly grateful to be back in the sunshine and under an azure sky. We were a little disappointed to not have snow for Christmas, but after nine months of nearly constant precipitation, I think we can just deal with it. We'll just have to console ourselves with 50 degree weather and sunny days at the park.
But I digress, I'm deathly short on original material to share with you guys (my camera cable is hiding in a fully-packed storage unit), so instead I'll share some of the truly amazing things I've run across in Blogland over the past month or so.
Felted Ball Garland from Say YES! to hoboken
Modern Gingerbread Houses
Christ-mas Ornament Mobile from Not Martha
Snowflake Table Runner from V and Co.
Snowflake Pillows from Noodlehead
Christ-centered Advent-ures from I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar and Delia Creates
Christ-Centered Christ-mas from A Lemon Squeezy Home
Baby Jesus in a Manger also by A Lemon Squeezy Home
Felt Ruffle Wreath by design*sponge
Oh! Christmas Tweed Wreath by Spincushion, which if you haven't checked out before, is definitely worth a visit. I know I'll be putting the Scrubby Buddies on my to-do list.
--There are several others, but maybe I'll get around to posting them tomorrow. This should get you excited for next year at the very least. Can you imagine the tweed wreath in pink and red tweeds for St. Valentine's Day? Mmmmm. Yummy. I love fabric. And decorating just makes my heart sing. I can't wait to try these ideas out in our own house next year. This year we've been blessed to have some time to just soak up being with family.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I was lamenting this weekend how little the holiday season felt like ... well... the holiday season this year. We spent all of Thanksgiving week packing, spent almost a week getting here, and now we're locked down in my in-law's basement (no, not really). It was hard when my daughter cried as she saw the Christmas tree box go back into a storage unit and not come out for display. It's hard for my wee ones to understand a lot of things right now.
"No, no. We're not going back to the dirty house," I tell them. "Not ever?" my son will ask. "No, darling, you don't have to go back," I reaffirm. "But where is our house?" he asks.
By the way, I can't tell you how shocking it was to find out that our little ones had been referring to our Washington residence as "the dirty house." Out of the mouths of babes, I guess.
I was thinking over these things, while simultaneously trying not to let any of the play dough crumbs from the afternoon's escapades make their way to the bright white linoleum floors of my in-law's kitchen, as I heard my daughter telling my son about Santa Claus, yet another internal debate I'm having with myself. And I realized that we were going to have to start reigning this in quickly. Almost every toy on the television is now a "gotta have." Which I mostly find ridiculous, because the last thing my children need is another toy that they won't pick up or play with right now. If it were humanly possible to get friends and relatives to listen, I would probably ban toys from all birthdays and major holidays (along with candy) for the next five years. Books are great. Games are wonderful. Art supplies are fantastic. --But please, please, please don't give my children any more toys.
I mean, honestly, can Christ-mas possibly get anymore convoluted and complicated? As if it isn't difficult enough during a normal year ("No honey, the Christmas wreaths aren't for Jesus, they just put them up to look pretty."), but now we're hunting for a job, homeless, and all but broken in so many ways. I can't decide if I'm ready to chew nails or break down and weep half the time. But the simple fact remains that we just aren't home yet, and right now we aren't sure if we ever can be or will be again. My husband is determined to be within a 15-minute driving distance of home, which is literally impossible with where our house is. He thinks he might possibly settle for 30 minutes, but it would be cutting it close. So now every time he talks to me about us moving, it's always to a new house, a new "home," which never was, and probably never will be our "home." My home is being occupied by strangers, for the lovely benefit of me paying out of pocket every month on top of their rent to cover the mortgage, and my absolute terror that they are destroying my home, which is surrounded by "friends" who came to beg, "borrow," and flat-out steal from us before we moved. Joy. Is my home perfect? No. Is anything? Absolutely not. I'm not expecting perfection, but what I desire more than anything right now is to go home and be left alone.
I want my walls to hang pictures on, my floors to clean, and some space where I'm not constantly being shoved in a corner. I want my kids to be able to run, play, and laugh, and enjoy the beautiful sunshine that they haven't seen in 9 months. I want them to enjoy the fresh air that they haven't breathed. I want to be around family and friends that really and truly appreciate us for who and what we are, not constantly push us away, lock us in separate rooms, or compare us to other family members or friends. But since that last one is never going to happen, I'm content to let that one go. I'm beginning to relish the thought of becoming a loner. Being a hermit has never sounded so good. Even my husband is seriously tempted at this point. He keeps talking about compounds with ten-foot walls and shotguns. I'm not worried quite yet, but if he comes home with a shotgun for Christmas, we'll have to send up some emergency flares. But honestly people, that's how bad it is.
Friday, December 3, 2010
So, for those of you who were wondering if we were moving, and if so, where we were moving to, you now have the official unofficial answer: we're in Colorado, but don't know where we're going to. My hubby has a contract job in his old position in CO before we got transferred halfway across the country to WA, but some benefits and a permanent full-time position would be greatly appreciated (and necessary) before we figure out what happens after that. Ideally, we will be going back to our house in northern Colorado (NOCO for those of you in the know). I think that's exactly what will happen, but the time line is a little iffy. For those of you that are the praying sort, some prayers (or happy thoughts) would be awesome. ; ) I know daughter would be ecstatic to be back in her "purple house" by her birthday at the end of next month. Hubby and I are planning on painting her room purple when we move back in (hush, it's a secret).
So, now that we're out of the storms in Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming, and internet access has been fully restored, hopefully some sunshiny-type things will be coming soon. In the meanwhile, you may just have to settle for some round-ups of my favorite Xmas-y and happy type things. I know, it's depressing, but true. My only disappointment (and it's a very *small* disappointment in comparison) is that I won't be able to finish the kiddos their Christmas gifts in time. But hey, maybe we'll just have our own Thanksgiving and Christmas when we move back in. My Savior knows that that would be more than enough to be grateful for this next year. Truth be told, I have a whole laundry list of things to be grateful for right now. :-D
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
There are some gorgeous crafts coming out of MADE right now, and she even has a beautiful acorn craft round-up going on here, including her own beautiful acorn wreath.
And look at this lovely acorn ball coming out of I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.
Then there's this amazing acorn display from delia creates, which if you haven't run into yet, you will absolutely fall in love with. --Guaranteed.
Sewing: There's been all kinds of fun things floating around lately, and many that I have just discovered. Am I the only person who didn't know about Disney over at ~Ruffles and Stuff? I feel seriously ridiculous. I can't believe I just found her. And she's in my (new) neck of the woods too. Sheesh. Oh well. Her tutorials are *gorgeous* and very well made and directed. I really love this "She's a Lady" Cardigan Tutorial, but her amazing-ness doesn't stop there. If you aren't a follower already, I would definitely add her in and go through her past posts. They're simply too beautiful to look at to not add, even if you aren't big into sewing. I'm actually in the process of making this "Bouquet" T-Shirt Tutorial for Ande as a dress, although I had a terrible toss-up between that and this "Gardens at Dusk" shirt remodel. I don't know. I may actually do both. She's such an incredible inspiration that I'm not sure I'm going to ever stop sewing again!
Then there's this great tutorial on Made By Lex on how to make a pleater board. This is beyond fantastic. I desperately wish that I had found this a week ago before I finished daughter's pillowcase dress; it would have turned out differently. But that's a different story, and a different tutorial for a different time. Made By Lex is fantastic though, and another one of those that is absolutely fantastic eye candy even if you aren't in a sewing mood. She specializes in refashions, and if you follow through to her tutorials, I promise that it will be a fun experience, especially for all of you Anthro-loving fashionistas out there.
Cooking: There are several fun things going on here too. I'm especially in love with Delia's tortilla chip leaves; they just look like so much fun. And Brooke over at the Cheeky Kitchen has an absolutely to-die-for looking white chicken chili. Um, yum. I'm making this for dinner, and if you follow me on Facebook, then you can catch the review tomorrow. But heck, how can you go wrong with chicken, green chilies, sour cream, and bacon? I've also fed my kiddos baked decorative pumpkins from Gingerbread Snowflakes in the last couple of weeks, and while I can't honestly say that my kiddos were thrilled, I certainly enjoyed my baked Jack-O'-Lantern (and it's a great idea for getting rid of those extra pumpkins today and tomorrow too!). And while we're on the subject of pumpkins, I can't go without mentioning these fantastic looking baked pumpkin doughnuts, which I can't help but think are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Anywho, this is all the fun I've gotten put together for this week, but there will be many to come. Especially if I still can't find my USB cable by the end of the week. Hmmm, I'll have to keep working on that. But, rest assured, I have many (not-so-beautiful) photos on the way, a couple of tutorials in mind, and some re-do's that I hope will be helpful *and* informative. And yes, yes, I promise, I am working on my photography skills. Am I a blog-her in the making, no, probably not, but it's sure fun to pull together the best of the web for all of you lovely ladies. ; )
Have fun and let me know: Do you like the round-ups? Should they become a weekly feature?
Thanks and feliz dia de los muertos. ; )
Thursday, October 14, 2010
A few months ago when I was really struggling, as in struggling so badly that I still felt like I needed validation from a paid psychologist (or "rent-a-friend" as I call them), this wonderful, well-meaning woman told me that I needed to learn how to be happy, and that essentially, all of my life's struggles could be tied back into my not having learned the art of happiness. I was shocked. I was angry. Of course I knew how to be happy. I had been happy loads of times. There were many periods of my life where I was really, truly, and serenely happy, if not entirely content. Why did I have to choose to be happy when I had obviously been given a bad deck. --It was unfair. I wanted a do-over. I wanted to call "foul," and have the hosts of Heaven come rescue me in what was obviously an egregious error on someone's part.
Boy was I conceited, huh? I'm fairly certain that there's nothing quite like a psychologist to make you self-centered. Go pay someone $100 an hour a couple of times a week or month, and see how small your world becomes. Sometimes I feel like my time in therapy was like having an affair with myself. This is not to say, by the way, that all therapy is bad. I can just say that the couple of times that I have been in therapy, while I'm sure have helped me in some ways, I feel like they have always left me worse off in so many other areas as to make the totality of the experiences negative. So much so, in fact, that I can't honestly say that I would honestly be able to support any of my children going to get therapy, or my spouse, and indeed, we pulled our daughter out of therapy for just that reason.
I realized, and I'm sure that many of you are rolling your eyes right about now, that what I needed wasn't external validation, or a rent-a-friend, or any other kind of friend really. What I needed was someone to seriously sit down with me and go through the Book of Mormon, so that every time some idiotic thing popped into my head about how Heavenly Father obviously loved all of His other children so much more than He loves me, or that Heavenly Father was punishing me, or that I was unworthy, or that I was so inherently bad from the pre-mortal existence that I needed this much refining now, I could have someone sit down and point out scriptures. I could be shown real, tangible evidence of my Heavenly Father's love for me. And yes, I'm sure I would have struggled quite a bit against it at first, and had to balk, and cringe, and swallow my enormous pride to admit that we all have sorrows and suffering to go through while here, and that there is no lifetime maximum allowance on trials and tribulations. In fact, I'm coming to understand that there's really quite a bit more choice in just how many trials and tribulations we go through in the first place. Some of them are unavoidable, certainly... but how we react to them isn't predetermined, unavoidable, or written in stone at all. We can change ourselves, our priorities, our perceptions, our patterns, our very thoughts, at any point in time. And sometimes, sometimes I think that's exactly what our Heavenly Father is looking for in the first place.
I can't believe how much more perspective I have on Heavenly Father now that I have children. When my daughter struggles against me, refusing to eat her vegetables, which I know will help her to be healthy, and strong, and to have joy, and prevent future problems, and instead throws gigantic, fist-throwing, floor-stomping, table-banging temper-tantrums, I go "Oh! So *that's* what I've been doing this whole time!" --Just because we can't always see, understand, or even don't want to believe that what we're going through is for our benefit, that doesn't mean that it absolutely isn't divine intervention that's happening in your life to give you the ready-made plans and tools to turn your lemons into lemonade for you. Sometimes Heavenly Father even provides the lemonade stand for you if you let Him. I'm still learning this.
It's so difficult for me to believe sometimes that out of the literal billions of spirit children that He has had that have lived on this world alone, of countless worlds untold, that He can find the time to love *me.* Maybe that is because I grew up feeling so estranged from a loving Heavenly Father, maybe it's my own pride in wanting to feel *special* (don't we all), or maybe, ironically, it's my lack of self-esteem, which seems to make everyone else seem so very much more special than I could ever possibly be in the first place. There have been so many times, and are still moments, when I look around at all of the born-and-bred Molly Mormons with their perfect children, perfect husbands, perfect houses, and seemingly perfect lives. And it is only now that I am truly beginning to understand that these seemingly perfect women, whom I have been comparing myself to since I walked into my first Fast and Testimony meeting, maybe aren't quite as perfect as I first thought they were. And maybe, actually, Heavenly Father needs me to be who *I* am, and not just a carbon-copy convert. I think that it is such an inherent quality in women (I won't argue nature vs. nurture on this one) to compare ourselves to others. I compare myself to my mother, my mother-in-law, and all of my sisters-in-law with all of their numerous children. I compare myself to the women in Relief Society, and in Primary, and at Stake Functions. I do it, mostly, because I'm trying to make sure that I'm measuring up. I do it, mostly, because I'm scared. I do it, mostly, because I haven't learned that my Heavenly Father loves me... no matter what.
It's so funny to me that I have such a strong, powerful, life-changing testimony of the Savior and of the Atonement, and have so very little in my lamp when it comes to my Heavenly Father. The perfect, all-loving, all-powerful Spiritual Being who took time out of the Eternities to create me, I lash out at more often than I thank. I get so angry that really, when I compare myself to my daughter, the similarities are so striking that I can't help but laugh most of the time. At first I didn't really realize that I was putting my emotions between myself and my Heavenly Father, now I do it and cringe. I know that what I'm doing is wrong, and I know that it's going to hurt me, but sometimes I want to shout out just for the sake of shouting, and because I have no one else to be mad at but myself. And really, who of us wants to be mad at ourselves all of the time anyway... especially when us "silly women" (see Sister Julie B. Beck's talk), can't help but keep comparing ourselves against every other woman that walks in the door. I want to know that my Father loves me. And really and truly, I know that He does-- I just don't always remember that when I need to.
I am grateful for my Father, and for all of the gifts that He gives me, even if I don't always recognize that they're gifts when they come. And I can count my blessing all day long and sometimes not feel a change of heart. It was heartbreaking the day that I realized that while yes, my psychologist had been wrong in a lot of ways, she had also been right. I have learned the art of temporal happiness, I have not learned how to be eternally happy; that happiness is a gift of peace and joy that comes from having a testimony of our individual worth as spirit daughters and sons of our Heavenly Father, of our ability to overcome all obstacles through the tools that He has given us, and of His deep and heartfelt desire to have all of us rejoin Him and become perfected like Him. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me; I just don't realize how much.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Right now we're in a debate. Should it be crepes (hubby's idea), special sweet rolls, or a fruity coffee cake (yes, I can appreciate the irony of a non-coffee-flavored coffee cake during General Conference). But we'd have to come up with a different name for the cake, because I can see that leading to some very strange conversations with the kiddos later: "No daughter, it's not coffee, it just has the name in it." Eeesh. I think I'll avoid that one as much as possible thank you.
I'm a big fan of tradition. And since marrying hubby, a lot of my old traditions have gotten quashed. I'm thinking that now is the time to start creating some of our own. But since "favorite casserole" (a baked combination of hot dogs, cheddar cheese, and spaghetti) is *not* one of my favorites, I'm a little lost on where to start. I love traditions, but the general idea here is I want to create a tradition that my children will actually look forward to, not dread for weeks to come beforehand. I guess the real difficulty is in trying to find something that you really, really like, but that you don't like so much that you're guaranteed to want to make it more than twice a year. Hmmmm. That'll be a toughy. I'll post some recipes later today as I keep working on this one.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I couldn't believe how ridiculously fun it was to play with this stuff. Add two parts corn starch to one part water, and you have instant, ooey, gooey, quicksand-like goop. Daughter called it her "goobey," and was hugely disappointed when it spilled off the table. Thank goodness, her "goobey" was as easy to clean up as it was to make. A quick sweep of the vacuum cleaner, and all was well in the kingdom.
We're all super excited over here about General Conference coming up this weekend, and I've been on the hunt for kid-friendly "conference activities." There's a Nursery and Junior Primary packet at Sugardoodle.net, and the church has a couple of different print-outs available here, but I think they're a little beyond my wee ones at home. I was desperately seeking out a puzzle of the First Presidency, or of President Monson alone, but no luck. Deseret did have a couple of beautiful puzzles of the Savior available, but they were all 500+ pieces, or "tray puzzles," whatever that means. The packets from Sugardoodle at least have some coloring pages, but I don't really know what to do aside from that. They're too young to take notes, and I don't want it to be a mad-cap game of "let's see who can still reverently the longest." Last year the kiddos got to take breaks to go run outside on their swing-set. I'm not sure what on earth we'll do this year. John fixed the kid's trampoline for them last week, but Daughter broke the elastic cord while showing me what a big strong girl she is and doing "super giant jumps." Aside from that, the kiddos get next to no physical activity, and I'm not about to run them to the play place at the mall to go run around for an hour when they get antsy during conference. Hmmmmm. I think this definitely counts as an exercise for my problem-solving skills. What are your favorites for keeping young ones busy during conference? I read a great post last night about a family that gave a Family Home Evening lesson about King Benjamin, and how all the families that came to listen to his speech turned their tents toward him so that they could listen to him better. After their Family Home Evening, they set up their camping tent in their living room with the door open towards the television to watch our modern-day prophets give their own speeches to the people. I thought that was such a cute, and memorable idea. What kid isn't going to remember the time that they got to watch General Conference inside their tent?
Anywho, I'll keep up the watch for great ideas, and try to repost all the good ones that I find here. Have a fun week until then.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I love our prophet. And my heart sorrows for him at the weight that I know that he must carry on his shoulders; the burdens of a world gone astray, and the iniquities of those both within and without the church. I am grateful for the General Relief Society Presidency, and I know that Sister Julie B. Beck is a truly inspired representative of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that she and her counselors are striving to do the Lord's work and to lead our worldwide sisterhood of women to embrace our essential roles as women and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with those roles.
That being said, I think that both Sister Beck and President Monson had quite a few interesting things to say last night, and just in case you missed it then, you can catch it now here. I pray that we all can prepare ourselves for that which is yet to come, and that when the time comes, that we will be prepared to meet our Savior walking uprightly before him, with dignity. I don't know that it's appropriate for me to discuss what I personally got out of last night's broadcast last night in this medium except to say that I think that our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and Sister Julie B. Beck had some very strict words for us sisters. And I am sorry to say, that I don't think that they believe that we are living up to our true potential as representatives of Christ in these latter-days. I think that our General Authorities are disappointed in us sisters, and that saddens me greatly. I know that I certainly have fallen short of the mark in a number of the areas that they touched upon last night. I especially loved President Monson's use of the quotation from Mother Teresa: "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
I hope that we can all keep that in our hearts over the next year as we continue striving to do and fulfill the Lord's will for us as individual, worthwhile, beautiful spiritual daughters of our beloved Heavenly Father. I know that I will be keeping my own eyes and ears peeled during General Conference this next weekend, and I hope that you will all join me in listening to the words of our Lord direct from His appointed speakers for this day and age.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The link I had found, from goodness only knows where now (that's what I get for trying to blog while simultaneously attempting to entertain my children), was to make pillowcases for children with long-term illnesses who are stuck in the hospital. I did find the picture at least:
Cutie-pie aren't they? And I'm just willing to bet that if *you* or someone that you dearly and desperately love were stuck in a hospital bed for longer than a week, especially a small child-type person, then you would really, really want them to have one of these happy-looking pillows. Here is the direct link for the project.
I know that this seems kind of random, but I absolutely love projects like these. As a child, I was in and out of a wheelchair for years, with several recurrent hospitalizations, most of which lasting for weeks, and I will be one of the first to tell you that a hospital, even a shiny happy children's hospital, is *not* a very happy place to be. --Not at all.
Most hospitals do not have the facilities or space for parents to spend the night, or even have rules against it. Children are left alone for hours, or days. Very often without anyone to talk to, anything to play with, or anything to do other than watch whatever trash T.V. is on during the day (Maury anyone?) or whatever Disney movies haven't been stolen by the previous occupants (which yes, surprisingly is a real issue in many hospitals). Hospitals are lonely, sad, cold, ucky places, and I don't think that there's anything worse than a child that should be happily running around instead fighting for its life in someplace barren, and absolutely devoid of the spirit. I know that the deadline for this project is over, but ladies, gents, anyone and everyone with sewing / crafting talent, would you mind maybe making a few of these and sending them on to some kiddos who need them?
I know that we all have a *lot* to do, and seemingly never enough time to do whatever our *lot* is, but this is one of those things that I promise will be absolutely worthwhile. I can't think of a single child that I met in any of my hospital stays that wouldn't have been over-the-moon ecstatic for a splash of color in an otherwise winter-white sanitized world. Thanks in advance.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Here are some of the things that we have been up to lately:
Fall has officially descended upon the greater Seattle area, and we've had rain for four or five days straight now. Today, I finally got the kiddos to go play "puddle ducks" outside.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Maybe there really is something to the whole "love yourself" mantra we keep hearing about. ; )
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Oh my goodness. My Mom and Dad took the whole family on Saturday to see "Despicable Me" for Kyle's birthday (omgoodness, totally can't believe that he's two now!), and we *loved* it. When I say "loved," I mean loved like "you're totally not going to finish that box of Godiva chocolates, are you?" I mean, "yes, yes, of course I'll take that Joann's gift card off your hands" kind of love. It is adorably cute. It may be a Universal Pictures release, but it's cute enough to be a Pixar. Anywho, for those of you with the ticket monies and the 95 minutes to spare, it's excellent. I was shocked at how well the kids did through the movie too. They really, really loved it. The minions weren't always, um, well behaved, but thankfully I think my kids were too young to really understand most of the crudeness. They would just lean over and poke me to say "Mommy, that man's being mean." So, full disclosure, there are mean men. And an angry shark. And cute girls in tutus. Totally worthwhile.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Bee Movie: The Fate and Future of the American Honeybee from Fay Laverty on Vimeo.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
And, since I'm in a sharing mood, here's part of my bee documentary. Yes, that's right. I really and truly did do a documentary on the honeybee. And well... all I can say is that I tried. Here's part one for you:
A fun, weird one from Vimeo:
ANTS in my scanner > a five years time-lapse! from françois vautier on Vimeo.
Look, here is how they started:
Yeah, and now they look like this:
Sorry Amy : (
Anyway, such beautiful delicious caramelly, white chocolate, toffee goodness absolutely *must* be shared with the world. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it, lol.
Want to eat them, oh yes you do. –Even if you don’t like blondies, you will be totally deliciousfied. Yes, I just created a new word for the caramelly goodness. Deal with it. ; )
These actually started in an effort to try to recreate the Starbucks toffee bars of old.
• 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), plus more for the preparing the pan
• 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for preparing the pan
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
• About 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I used Godiva, it was on sale), 1/2 cup toffee chips
• 1 bag of individually-wrapped caramels
• 1 can of evaporated milk (you’ll only use about a 1/2 cup though)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
In a small sauce pan melt the butter. Put the light brown sugar in a large bowl, add the butter, and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mixing just until a smooth batter is formed. Stir all of your yummy delicious chips and pieces into the batter.
Over medium heat, melt the caramels (I used about 20) with the half-cup of evaporated milk. Stir until melted into gooey goodness.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Then dump all that gooey caramel on top. That’s right, you heard me. Don’t ask questions, just do it. Trust me. You’ll like it. ; ) Swirl around the yummy-ness and then bake until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in the center come out clean, about 20 minutes.
Cool the blondies in the pan slightly before inverting them onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. Cut into 8 squares and serve.
That’s it folks. Enjoy. Hopefully there will be much more goodness where this came from now that finals are done. That’s right hooray!!!! I’m celebrating all over the place. I get to go play like all the big kids now. :-D
Monday, July 19, 2010
I began this blog to talk about Carrick; the good and the bad. I still feel like that's important, but now I'm wondering if this is, indeed, the right medium to do it in. I can't help but thinking that so many people I know would heave a collective sigh of relief if I just… stopped. I started this to help others. Instead, I think I've found myself running circles, with no map to where I'm going. I think I'm honestly upsetting people more than I'm helping.
I hate being sad. I hate that it makes my children sad. I hate that almost every time I sigh Ande asks me, "Mommy, what's wrong?" I hate that I feel like nothing I do, I do right, or that even when I do do something right, it's met with resistance, anger, and even loathing. There are people out here, and at home, who shy away from my story. Some people avoid the subject, some avoid Carrick's name, and some avoid me completely. It's ridiculous. I am a person. I am sad, and alone, and in a strange new world, where apparently "friends" won't discuss the fact that my son died. It's old news. So what? I even had one person go so far as to ask me why it mattered. I don't know, maybe it's because my son, and it sucks. Maybe it's because even though it's been four months, and feels more like four years, I still can't say his name sometimes without choking up. Maybe I slightly resent everyone's apathy. I'm moving on. I get it. I'm working on it. I tell people I go to counseling, and they think I'm nutters. Some people think I shouldn't go. Some people quietly suggest (under their breath) that maybe I need more. Gee. Thanks. That's helpful.
But truth be told, I'm not that sad anymore. I don't walk around weepy. I don't tear-up at every little thing. I don't tear-up at all. I'm straight-faced McGee, okay. Some people tell me that I need to have more kids. Some people tell me how great it is that I'm "waiting." Gosh. Glad to know that this is public discussion but my son isn't. (Has anyone ever noticed that from the moment a woman gets pregnant, until she's through menopause, her uterus is public domain?) Weird. Anywho….
Yes, I still get sad, but apparently, that's healthy. (So they tell me.) No, I don't do it in public settings –unless it's completely unavoidable, and then it's so sudden and unexpected that there's nothing I can do about it anyway. I ran out of Sacrament meeting during a baby blessing. Woohoo. I didn't ask anyone to run after me, did I? No. And guess what, I bet most of you never would have noticed anyway.
There is so much more to me than my grief. There is so much more to me than the role that I play in my family. I'm in school. I love art. I love children. I love doing art with children at school. There might be a fox in a box somewhere in there too, but that's just ridiculous.
My point being, I didn't start this blog with the intention of it only *ever* being about Carrick. Carrick was, and still is, a part of my life. He is a part of our family, and always will be. He is also not all-encompassing in my life. Yes, I think about him every day. Usually quiet, happy little thoughts. Sometimes thoughts of Carrick barely even register. I know I have them, I know I think of him, but they skim over things. Thoughts of Carrick are ephemeral, not insubstantial. I really truly want to put together tons of crafting tutorials. I want to talk about all of the fun things in life. I wanted to write reviews about the places we visited in Hawaii. I want to write about the sun filtering through the upper branches of the pine trees in our back yard and illuminating our glassy bird feeder. I want to talk about the nasty, slimy, fat slugs that the Elders found in our garage yesterday while they were helping us mitigate the mold damage that's eaten away the better part of our belongings.
But I have a problem in that I don't want to write about everything. My daughter is having real, honest problems right now. My marriage is holding on by some bare threads and some super-glue. Our housing situation is an absolute disaster. Our house is completely infested with mold, and we can't afford to move. We're trying desperately to figure a way out, but we have lost all hope that we'll get our deposits back. Our landlord was supposed to remediate both the mold problem and the leaky roof, but that's apparently never going to happen. I found grey patches of mold the other day all over Kyle's crib when I went to wash his bumper pad, and now I'll have to throw it away. –There's no way that I could ever put a baby, even a stranger's baby, in a mold-covered crib. Not after what we went through. The bassinettes in the garage were the same: more mold. –And Kyle's new car seat. Ande and Kyle came down with croup over the weekend. We (mostly John) had seemingly endless hours of sitting and watching her breathe, listening for any wheeze or cough, feeling her chest for the reassurance of movement when we couldn't hear her any more. Ande's been running a non-stop runny nose since we moved in. I'm certain it's the mold. And now I'm trying to figure out how on earth we're going to replace every porous article in our possession so that I don't kill another baby. What do you do in a situation like that? We can't move, but we have to. We can't afford to move, and now I have to try and figure out how to replace almost all our belongings.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Truth be told though, life has gotten just a wee bit more overwhelming than I was planning for the last couple of weeks. My two summer courses got turned from 10-week classes into 8-week classes. That doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, but really, what it means is that two of those 8 weeks, I do twice the work (you know, we wouldn't want a professor to actually have to rearrange their curriculum). And since I have two courses, it's looking like it will be four weeks of twice the work. Joy. At least they're not overlapping. Honestly, it could be worse.
I think I've found a job. Maybe. Possibly. If the owner-operator will return my phone call before the next month is over I'll be able to tell. Maybe. Possibly.
The housing situation has gotten a little... er... um... interesting. Yes. Interesting. Interesting is a very safe word.
We started dog training. Wow. That is really and truly unbelievably cool so far. We just had our first session on Friday, and if this works out, I will be shouting to the rooftops how awesome these people are. So far though, it's very cool. I'm hoping that it will cure my labby-australian-cattle-dog mix of her aggressivenss.
Anywho, long story short, my blog is not making it to the top of my list of priorities. I have about four-hundred pages of reading to do in my grammatical texts (which yes, I actually do enjoy), not to mention the final draft I just turned in of a memoir about the night that Carrick died. I'm not thrilled with it yet, there was a 2,000 word maximum on the paper, and I think it's definitely going to turn into at least twice that by the time I'm really done, but for now, it's a good start. It was very ... well, healing, I guess too. I'm a living cliche` at this point.
Life is good, in a weird sort of way. But I'll just keep plugging along for now. Honestly though, I do have some really, really fantastic ideas for this beautiful little widget that I call a blog. And if I'm really, really good, one day, I might even deserve all of you fantastic readers!
Ciao for now. ; )
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I promise, I wouldn't totally harass you like this if it wasn't completely worthwhile.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
these off of the camera today. I figured that if I didn't get them off
now, then I probably would never take another picture again, and that's
not what I want. I'll let these go without the commentary.
The Seattle Aquarium
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Check out the narcissistic personality quiz
Friday, May 28, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
There are literally hundreds of projects that I want to get done for my kiddos. I have bought tons of crafting books on top of it, and literally probably have 100 more in my Amazon shopping cart under the "saved for later" category. If I had all the time in the world, I would just sit and craft all day, both with my kiddos and without. Unfortunately, I am lacking in the time department, and so I never seem to have enough prep time to get things put together to craft with my kiddos, and I seem to never have time alone to work on my own projects. This is besides the point that I am seriously hampered when it comes to coming up with craft ideas for my own two small widgets, because I have no idea what they're really capable of doing. If I hand my 21-month-old a pair of scissors and some construction paper, will I end up with a child masterpiece, or a seriously frustrated toddler? If I give my three-year-old a glue stick, will she figure it out, or just make messy glue "pictures" on my kitchen table? I don't know. I'm working on it. I love making things. And I by no means count myself as one of the incredible creative people who help make our world a little more beautiful every day, so I kind of sit, lost, waiting for my kids to grow up enough for me to know how to have fun with them. The only art projects I know of for right now are pipe cleaners, beads, play dough, markers / crayons, and finger paint. All of which are unfortunately hiding in boxes somewhere in the general vicinity of the house, but until I get hubby to bring in my craft cabinet, I have no where to put them (seriously depressed me).
The most terrible part of all of this is that crafting, even when what I do is absolutely ridiculous and juvenile, is such a huge lift to me. So when I have incredibly gloomy, sad, miserable days like yesterday and today, all I want to do is craft. So instead, I settled for some instant gratification via craftzine. There are some absolutely fantabulous postings up within the last week or so, and since I hardly ever get a chance to check them out anymore (at least not on a daily basis), it was so fun to be able to get a hardy, concentrated dose of the crafty-goodness.
Today I think I'll take my MIL to a fun little fabric store in Renton, I haven't been before, but I've heard good things. I'll give you guys a review after we go. I'm also hoping to hit up the garage sales up on Snoqualmie Ridge. Their once-a-year sales are supposed to be incredible. I'm hoping to find both a couple of lamps for the house, and a wedding present for my niece. I'm actually hugely disappointed to find out that her wedding is no longer cowboy themed. I even bought a fun (and expensive) cowboy hat from a fantastic store in downtown North Bend last night. But I also found a fantastic book on edible plants, which I'll pretend is for my preparedness kit, and not just for fun reading. Seriously though folks, I might just have to get a job if I ever go back in there again, because I will definitely carry out half of the store on my back given the option.
We're also hoping to hit the Seattle Aquarium this afternoon given the chance. It is so much fun to go to with the kids. I am madly in love with their tide pool / petting zoo exhibit. I would take the In-Laws to the Zoo, which while tons of fun, isn't as big as the Denver Zoo, but it looks like it'll be another drizzly day in the Gray Town today. (By the way, the squirrels at the zoo completely make up for whatever lack of exhibits there might be, and the brown bear, sea otter, and apiary exhibits are so much fun, I think we could spend an entire day just at those three displays.) I have no idea if we'll have enough time to take the kiddos somewhere fun like that though, because we got a little sideswiped last night with the news that my nephew is running in a track meet a full 90 minutes away from here at some unknown time after 4 pm today. So now I'm trying to readjust the schedule so that my kiddos still feel like they got time with Grandma and Grandpa before the wedding extravaganza this weekend, because G&G fly out early Monday morning.
Monday, May 17, 2010
We don't always get to make the choices that we want to make. Free agency is a wonderful thing, but it can be hard to embrace and revel in that gift (or even remember that it is a gift) when you don't like the choices that are handed to you. I always tend to get really down on myself when life isn't going well (or as I had hoped, I should say), and I was wondering this week if my lack of happiness was a lack of embracing my agency and utilizing it to its full extent. There are times when it is hard to choose to be happy. I am the type that functions well in emergencies, but easily gets bogged down by the day-to-day. Right now, I have a really hard time choosing to be happy when Ande throws her fourth major meltdown in two hours of doing laundry. The first time I'm patient, and loving and kind. The second time, I'm sympathetic, and sit down with her to help explain the situation. The third time, I try helping her to rationally see that beating her brother into submission isn't the best way to help her be happy. By the fourth time though, wow. I really kind of have to restrain myself, because honestly, sometimes I just want to hit her. So when she blew up as I was talking with our realtor on the phone about renting out our house in Colorado, and my predictably huge apprehension over letting other people into our house, I had a really hard time trying to be as patient and loving as I want to be, and as I know I should be with her. I know Ande needs me, but yikes! So free agency is a double-edged sword if ever I've seen one.
Hubby and I are trying to learn how to regroup in the aftermath of all of our recent events. I think we're finding out that we aren't nearly as close-knit as we want or need to be. And since neither of us feel like we grew up with wonderful husband-wife relationships to model our own marriage after, we feel like we're creating ours from scratch, and are generally completely lost on how to go about it. I'm not sure that either of us even knows what a genuinely happy marriage really looks like, let alone how to get there ourselves.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I think our cat officially got
I'm in a really funky mood the past two days, but at least I'm moderately happy. I have totally and completely freaked out Hubby though. Maybe we'll chalk this up as a "strengthening exercise" for him. Something, man, yikes. All I know, is that I don't care if the way I've felt is my fault, or the world's fault, or no one's fault at all, I just don't ever, ever, ever want to have to live that way again. Even if I'm totally psychotic the rest of my life; I'd rather be happy. I'm done with that part of my life, and I want sunshine and happiness. I'm struggling with the general idea, but I'm actually starting to believe that maybe I really do deserve some sunshine in my life. And moreover, if I can't depend upon someone else to provide it for me, well then maybe I'll just have to put on my "big girl" boots and go out and get it myself. I've even decided to go and get a job. I have no idea how I'll make that work, or where even I want to work. All I know is that I'm done constantly stressing about money and whatever all else, so I'll just go start providing by myself for myself. Wow. That sure makes it a lot simpler, now doesn't it?
I can't even tell you what an incredible relief it was yesterday as I got to spend some time by myself in the car, to be able to think, to be allowed to think, that life didn't have to be this way anymore. I have some strength in me somewhere. I have to. I've been through a ton in my life. I really have. And I must have come through it moderately well, because when I tell people even a small portion of it they go, "Wow, you're really put together. I never would have had any idea that you'd been through all of that." So there. All you naysayers and skeptics (especially those living within the general vicinity of my own cranium), I really can do stuff. And sometimes, occasionally, I can even do stuff really well. I really like thinking of myself as a moderately capable woman. I can be strong. I have been strong. And if I've been through all of the other junk in my life and handled it fairly decently, then I can do more than "just survive," I can
I am so incredibly, terribly, devastatingly sick and tired of "just surviving." Even the thought makes me absolutely want to yak. Really, it does, no exaggeration included here (though that could partially be the massive tummy cramps). And if that freaks Hubby out, and he thinks my britches are getting too big, or whatever, then maybe he needs to go put on his big-boy britches too.
And, if I'm really on top of things, I might not even back down on myself this time. That's it, my own personal goal: sunshine, lots and lots of sunshine.
My therapist asked me a couple of weeks ago how I was able to survive everything in my life, and that question really bothered me. I had never thought about it before. Survival wasn't a non-option. Survival had always been an expectation. But then that got me thinking, maybe survival had been the only option. Maybe, in between random, horrible, life-altering events and all of the "fillers" which have constituted my life, maybe I was so accustomed to "surviving" that when real life comes around, that's the only expectation that I have for myself. And really, I think that it is. I think that surviving is all that I have ever really expected. I want more, but I have no idea how to go out and get it. I have no expectations of success or happiness, just of surviving; of eking out one more day, every day. If survival is all that you feel you deserve, then why strive for happiness? If you feel like you have to feel grateful for all of the lemons, are you even going to try for lemonade? I mean, I know that this probably sounds ridiculous, but honestly, I would sit in a corner (figuratively speaking) and go "Oh, wow, thanks HF. These are some fantastic lemons, and wow, they're really tart, but at least they're a pretty yellow color, so I'll just sit them over here in a nice little pile in the corner with me and collect them. Thanks, that's very thoughtful of you."
I mean, maybe I'm just the biggest bonehead that ever existed, but I'm not sure that I've ever even tried for the lemonade. I think that I just look at my pretty little pile of lemons and stare sorrowfully at the other girls who have a bowl of cherries. It's too bad that I don't have any cherry pie recipes to post here, because now would probably be a great time. :-D