"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Don't Do What Donnie Don't Does- Scary Caricature

OK, so I warned you that I didn't do well when planning a birthday party without a theme. Without the necessary structure and guidance that a theme provides, I go a little, well, let's just say I get a bit goofy and random, or in this particular case, a bit weird and spooky...
Finny Knits wrote a post explaining her inability to do anything without a clear mental vision and I think that this is exactly the sort of thing she was talking about. I identified with her when I read it, but clearly, I had no idea what I was actually capable of doing when left to my own devices. The picture above of the watermelon on my toilet (the only place dark enough at midday to show the true splendor of my work) shows exactly what happens when I proceed without a clear vision. Scary, isn't it?

So, here's how this happened. Last night as I lay in bed, I thought and thought about Randa's birthday party's lack of theme. So, I decided that what the party really needed was a watermelon carved with the words Happy Birthday. OK, sounds cool. But not really really cool. Not, "hey I went to this awesome party and you wouldn't believe what her mom did!" type of cool. What I needed to do, I thought, was carve a face on the the watermelon. As I thought some more I realized that I wanted to carve a watermelon with Randa's face on it. What could be more fun that to see your own face smiling back at you from a big glowing watermelon? I once read an article about how to carve pumpkins to look like specific people and it was with that happy plan in my head that I drifted off to sleep.

This watermelon, I must say, looks nothing like Randa. Here's the picture I was working off of.

It just turned out to be a scary, demented version of her. How I wish it was Halloween right now. It would be so perfect. I am so going to do another one of these in October.

I did briefly consider not adding a real picture of Randa. Then, those of you that have never met her, might not realize what a crap job I did on the carving. You might just think that I have a creepy daughter with huge eyebrows. I don't. But, that's just not the kind of person I am. Go ahead, scroll back up to the watermelon and laugh a little. I don't mind.

So, I did also carve a watermelon that says 'Happy Birthday'. Luckily I had just reorganized everything in storage so I knew exactly where my pumpkin carving tools were. Yes, I do have a set of pumpkin carving tools. And I love them so don't laugh.

I believe that my sister took a picture of the happy birthday watermelon when it was lit by candles. It's extremely difficult to both host a party and get pictures. I'll add that in after I ask her nicely to upload it to Flickr tomorrow. Too late to call tonight.

But for now I'll leave you with the following advice... save any scary watermelon (or pumpkin) carvings for Halloween. They're just insulting if you give them as birthday presents. It's like saying, "Hey, you're ugly." And no one wants to hear that on their birthday.


Related Posts
Stephen King Pumpkins
Secret Window Pumpkins

Friday, June 29, 2007

What? No Theme?

This year, Miranda wants a birthday party without a theme. She just wants to eat BBQ and have a slumber party with her friends. What? How am I supposed to plan for that? What kind of cake should I do? What color decorations should I use, for God sake?

So, having said that, here are pictures from her birthday last year. That birthday had a proper, if not original, theme... a Luau.

This is my sister about 3 months before she gave birth to her beautiful son. We've never been particularly shy about our bodies and given an opportunity to show off our bellies, especially when full of baby, both my sister and I will do it. One of these days I'll dig out and post pictures from a Luau we had for my cousin's birthday when I was pregnant with Joey. Sarong and bikini top for me too. And about 6 months pregnant as well. Weird. Some women crave strawberries when pregnant, we crave luaus I guess.

And here is the ice cream cake that Jeff and I made. We formed the cake in a Barbie cake pan using layers of frozen chopped raspberries and pineapple in between the sherbet layers. It worked beautifully and was super easy and yummy!

We made the lava by cooking sugar and water to the hard crack stage and then added food coloring.

Then we dripped it down on a silpat in the most lava-like shapes we could figure out. That was super fun and really not all that difficult. We also poured some of it down the sides of the greased empty cake mold, in order to give it the proper contours of the cake.

Volcano Ice Cream B-Day Cake

I suggest you click on the picture above to see how cool the lava on top looks.

I'm just sayin.

Here is a shot of what it looked like on the inside. At the last minute before putting it in the freezer I decided that it needed Skittles on the very bottom. I thought it would add more flavor, but all it really added were frozen, rock-like chunks that hurt your teeth when you bit into them. I suggest you skip those if you try to recreate this cake.

Volcano Ice Cream B-Day Cake

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Update on Lasagna Gardening

I completely forgot to add an important link when I originally posted about Lasagna Gardening and I think it's so helpful that I'm doing another post on the same subject.

It's an article from Mother Earth News (I told you I loved them) called 8 Strategies for Better Garden Soil and although I did my front yard before I read it, it has some wonderful advice. I, myself, currently employ 6 of the 8 strategies that they suggest and it is so worth the effort, as you can see here...

This is a thoroughly composted area that I did the winter before last. Joey and I planted a bunch of bulbs there this spring. Because the soil is so gorgeous, it was super easy to do. Literally, you could just poke your finger into the ground and move the soil. It has the perfect texture and is the most beautiful color.

I also want to include the titles of two books that I've found especially helpful. They are Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway and Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! by Patricia Lanza.

Happy planting!
Key Words & Phrases-
Sheet Composting, Layered Composting, Lasagna Gardening

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From Miss Thomson's "Laughing Monster" series

This is kind-of a repost for those of you that read both this blog and my Yahoo 360. Sorry, but I do love these monsters and Blogger lets me put more pictures in. My absolute favorite is this tiny guy that has all that huge laughter coming out of him. So very symbolic.

This balloon monster is great too.

Recently, I've been going through boxes and boxes out of storage and decided to sort out all of the artwork and pictures that the kids have done. I'm bummed that I didn't do a better job marking the date on these guys, but I'm just grateful that they didn't end up in the trash. Not that I regularly throw away the kids art, it's just that if it gets left out, eventually it gets pretty beat up and not really recognizable as art anymore. For some reason, the fridge is especially hard on them. Luckily, I put these away in the box while they still looked fairly good.

Joey did these when she was about 4 or so. For months she would draw these monster/ameoba beings and I really love them. I love the different colors and shapes and designs.

This one, with the curly dialog bubble is especially cool. It's weird how she was able to convey so much meaning by wrapping it around. Like it was just going on and on and on.

And this one makes me think of Nelson on the Simpsons, "HA, HA."

One of these days, I might get these printed onto some t-shirts for her, but for now, they're safely tucked away into her box of artwork.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lasagna Gardening

So for those of you who don't know this about me, I'm sort of a Mother Earth News, modern hippie sort of gal. I believe that we can live well, do the things we love and still take into consideration the importance of our actions, specifically how those actions affect others and the world around us.


Case in point, where have all the honey-bees gone? Many of you probably know this already, but honey-bees all over are disappearing. Just gone. Not leaving dead bodies, just leaving. And no one exactly knows why. There are many theories as to why this is happening, and people (especially farmers that rely on them for pollination of their crops) are panicking. Some people are actually stealing hives. Personally, I think it's a combination of pesticides, genetically engineered plants and loss of habitat. At our house, though, we seem to have plenty of bees. I took this top picture just this morning, as I sat in our front yard 'habitat', listening to the drone of at least 50 or so bees. It took me forever to get this picture; I'm working on improving my photo taking skills and bees are quick. But, I'll get to the story of our 'habitat' momentarily.

Here's my point about ecology... how in the world can we spray tons, literally tons, of pesticides on our crops, trees and landscapes, genetically engineer plants that actually produce their own pesticides, deplete the soil till the only way it can grow anything is with massive amounts of chemicals, cement over everything that's not precisely landscaped and then expect everything to be OK in our ecosystem? Um, duh. It just doesn't make any sense. Pesticides kill things. Why are we surprised?

So, here's what I've been doing for my part. I've been reading about Sheet Composting (also known as Lasagna gardening) lately. Really cool stuff. Basically, you just layer all the stuff that you normally would put in a compost bin on the ground. Worms and soil microorganisms work their way through it and eventually, you get beautiful black soil. I've done it in the back yard; it really works. And faster than any compost bin I've ever done too (I always forget to turn them). So, I finally got sick and tired of fighting against the crappy soil in our front yard, the grass wouldn't grow and it just looked awful. So, I took advantage of free labor (my kids- aged 8 to 17) and started sheet composting the entire front yard.

Our oldest was working off a massive punishment, so he got to spread last years pumpkins (which I collected from neighbors and have been frozen in several trash cans all winter) as one of the layers. It was bad, but no worse than one of the many awful diapers I've changed in my time. This is it...

We continued with the rest of the yard, laying down a quarter inch of soaked newspaper (to smother the grass), followed with manure and then hay. Once the hay goes down, you can't smell the stuff underneath, so we did it in batches. I found an excellent source of horse manure which is free of both antibiotics and de-wormer. Usually, you shouldn't use horse manure because almost all horses regularly get treated with the de-wormer, which, as the name implies, will kill worms, even the ones in your soil. Bad, bad, bad. So I found a lady that raises her horses organically (not that she's going to eat them- they just get treated with herbs instead). A very lucky find.

Here's a picture of all of us after we finished. The girls were volunteering; Sean was forced labor. I'm grateful either way. You can see that we ran out of shovels, and since I was the foreman, I took the snow shovel. Not so good for shoveling horse poo, though. I would also like to mention that we live in a non-covenant controlled community. And even with that, neighbors slowed down and pointed at us throughout the day. If you do this, I'd start in the backyard. Once you see how wonderful the soil is, you won't mind all the pointing. It's worth it.


After the last freeze date, we threw down a bunch of wildflower and cover crop seeds (mustard and radish mostly) A month after finishing the layers, we had this...


Those larger plants are sprouted pumpkin seeds. (And speaking of volunteer seeds, last year we harvested 3 pumpkins from plants that grew from compost. I can't even begin to tell you how great that was. Harvesting pumpkins that I didn't even plant.) This summer we should have a yard full of wildflowers and by fall our entire front yard should be one giant pumpkin patch (there's like 8 or 9 plants out there).

It started off as crappy, depleted soil and now it's a jungle. And full of bees. Yay!


Related Posts

Friday, June 22, 2007

Free Music!

I recently found a pretty cool website with free music. It's called Pandora. I know there's a lot of free music out there, but this one is great for those of us that are tired of the same stuff we've got on our playlists and want something new.

Basically, you enter a song (or an artist) and it creates a music station tailored to you. You can add more songs and also rate each song that plays to further customize. I like it because it plays stuff that I haven't heard too much of and am, therefore, tired of. You can create multiple stations for your multiple personalities (I guess that should be... multiple moods).

BTW, David Bowie makes a good first choice (thanks to my 8 year old daughter for suggesting him. What can I say? She's got pretty good taste in music).

Happy Listening.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Present Idea for Kids

Recently, my daughter and I put together a pretty cool birthday present for one of the cousins (if we do say so ourselves). We thought of it for her specifically, because both of her grandparents are artists, (her "Pa" is Richard Wallich). But I think it would be good for most kids. It's a fun, and easy gift and I thought I would share it here as I was inspired to pass along this information by Mundane Super Hero who was asking for suggestions for just such things.

Basically, it's whatever craft supplies you find at the store (we got markers, paints and a big pad of paper) along with the book, I Ain't Gonna Paint No More, by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow. It's a book about a little guy that paints all over his house and gets his paints taken away from him. Eventually, he swipes back the paints and uses his own body as a canvas. One of my favorite pages is at the beginning... all the walls and floor and even the family pet is covered in paint, but there is a nice, white, spankin' clean piece of paper on the easel. So cute. And so funny.

Also, Joey and I wrapped all the pieces individually with recycled craft paper that we decorated ourselves with markers. We would have used paints, but we didn't have the time for them to dry.

I only have one suggestion about this present... give it to kids over 5 years old or so and even then, only to relatively well-behaved ones. It would really suck to get blamed when the birthday boy or girl decides to decorate their own room with paint.

But that's a call you'll have to make.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Getting What I Want

I recently posted about painting my bathroom. I complained about how the paint had bubbled up on the walls in some places. I thought it was because I showered in there too soon after painting, but most paint stores that I've called since believe that I didn't clean the walls well enough. Actually, what happened was I cleaned the walls just fine, I just didn't rinse the bleach off well enough.

Anyway, this post is about how I ended up with the paint. It's as much about my personality as anything. And I was inspired to do this post by a post on Bella Knitting, titled Obsessions which was about how your personality comes through in your knitting (and other projects). First of all, here's the tile that inspired me when doing this room. It belonged to my mother, but I don't remember ever seeing it up in our house. It's a Mary Englebreit from 1976 and I just love it. I'm not a huge fan of ME's later stuff, but I love this one. I had to take it off the wall and photograph it under my light tent to prevent massive glare spots, so you can't see how it looks next to the wall color. Sorry.

For me, choosing colors to paint is always somewhat painful. There are just so many beautiful ones to choose from. For some reason, for the bathroom, I just picked a color that I immediately loved and stuck with it. I just stopped at the paint store and bought it. right there. on the spot. with no second guessing. This was a big deal for me.

So, I got home from the paint store, looked at the paint swatch, looked at the dot of paint on top of the can, looked at the swatch again. They were different colors. Not very different. But different enough. I asked Jeff, and he said they were the same color. I asked my daughter, and she said they were the same color. I asked my sister, and she agreed with me. It was missing the pink. The color that I wanted doesn't have a lot of pink, just the tiniest bit, but it was missing from the paint I now had.

So, I decided to go ahead and paint the bathroom (a friend was coming over to help and I just wanted to get it done). The color was fine. It looked nice. It was livable. But, as I lay in bed that night, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I got up and took the next picture to document my madness.

Do you see the difference? (Besides the texture and glossiness, that is.) So, I realized that my problem wasn't really about the paint color. It was about getting what I wanted. I've always been the one to accept things as they are. Once, when I was little, the shoe store didn't have the velcro shoes that I wanted. So I made up a reason to make me feel better, "Well, they would probably snag on the branches when I climb trees" and my dad was so proud of me for accepting things as they are, for inventing this justification of why I didn't want them anyway. Instead of asking to go to another shoe store, I took what they had and went home with lace-ups. My sister, on the other hand, once threw an absolute fit because the paper towel my mom gave her was missing the corner where it hadn't torn off evenly. Mostly we are this way because I am much lazier than my sister; she will do whatever it takes to make something happen. Me, not so much. But, I wonder how much deeper it goes than that.

So, I decided that I wanted the color that I had ordered and I was going to do my best to get it. I was going to make the effort, just to see what it felt like. I brought back the can, which was half empty, and explained myself. The clerk was in agreement with Jeff and Joey that the colors were very very very close to the same color. He told me he could add a bit more red to what I had, but he couldn't make any promises. I started to go when I realized that I hadn't tried very hard. I told him that the color was not what I had ordered, and while it was somewhat dumb of me to paint an entire bathroom a color I didn't like, still, I felt that I deserved to get what I paid for. I was nice, not ranting or anything, but I just kept repeating myself. After a minute or two, he decided to color match the swatch that I had brought in. And guess what... the formula for the color match of the swatch was not he same as the formula for the swatch. It should've been, but it wasn't. So, there in black and white, I had proof that I wasn't imagining things. It even had different colors (blue instead of black, gold instead of yellow), not just different proportions.

So, he mixed up a new batch of paint, which I used to repainted my bathroom. I'll not get into the unpleasantness with the bubbles because I am feeling rather proud of myself right now and would rather not dwell on the fact that sometime soon I'll have to re-repaint the bathroom after I sand the bubbled paint and reclean the wall.

So, here is one wall, with the new towels I bought, with the framed tile sitting on top of the towel rack because, well, I couldn't get one picture that showed all the things that I like about my new bathroom at once.

It felt good to do this. to make the effort. to get what I want. I doubt that I'll become obsessive and uptight and nit-picky because, like I mentioned, I'm fairly lazy. But it does feel good to know that when I really want to, I can get the things that I want.

Note- Jenny, just to be clear... I don't think you're obsessive, uptight or nit-picky. Thanks for your help with everything.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Barcelona Baby!

I just took a quiz that was suggested by PicPerfic. It tells you which European city you belong in. Because it was only a few questions, I didn't think that it would be all that accurate, but my results sound perfect for me. I don't know though, I bet any European city would sound good to me, especially the ones that have siestas.

You Belong in Barcelona

When it comes to Europe, you don't want to decide between culture and fun. You want art by day and a big party by night.
Barcelona is ideal for you. You can check out some Picasso, eat some tapas, take a siesta, and then dance all night!
What European City Do You Belong In?

BTW- this post was a little test to see if I could work with the html that the quiz websites give. Not bad, me thinks.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


This all started yesterday when I made some chai iced tea. I decided to get out my Great Muppet Caper glass, the one with Kermit on the bike, because I thought it would look cool filled with iced tea. It did. Anyway, three hours later, I was on eBay, looking at the rest of the Muppet glasses that I don't have. I looked at Fisher Price dolls, record players with those little plastic records and Strawberry Shortcake. Holy cow, it was amazing. I'm not sure what happened chemically in my brain, but just looking at the Fisher Price hospital, with the ambulance and scale and wheel chair, wow, it literally made me feel good all over, like I had a rush of endorphins or something. I briefly (like for 10 seconds) considered actually spending the $100 they were asking for the set. I could remember exactly how the wheels moved and how satisfyingly snug the little people fit into their various round holes.

When Jeff got home, I showed him some of the stuff that I had found, which started him on his own search for guns and bionic stuff. Eventually he ended up on PlaidStallions blog which includes pictures from 1970's catalogs. The photos are funny enough on their own, but the comments megomuseum adds are hilarious. The reason I'm mentioning it here is that some (OK, a lot) of the pictures reminded me of clothes that we wore ourselves. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I actually had pictures of us in those clothes. So, here they are.

This is the first of the catalog pictures titled Amish Lingerie.

Followed by a picture of me and my sister in dresses that our mom made.

Here is the next of the catalog pictures. Notice that this Foxy! shirt comes in "Chubby" size for one and a half bucks more.

And here's me in a shirt that my aunt made for me. My favorite part about this photo (besides the fact that I'm wearing a shirt that says 'Future Fox', of course) is the fact that this was a professional picture. My mom actually paid money to have someone take a picture of me in this shirt in 1977. How wonderful is that?

I've also got various pictures of my parents in matching sweaters, which PlaidStallion covers well on his site in a section titled Couples Shouldn't Dress Alike. You should check it out. The pictures I've included here don't do it justice... I'll include links to my favorites.

They're Called Spaceboots, Dur!
The Terrycloth Jumpsuit: Designed by Satan
The Adventures of L'il Larry Flint

Hope this inspires you to look through all your old photos, or burn them.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Don't do what Donnie Don't does- Painting

One of my favorite things about reading other people's blogs is learning new things. I love it when someone describes a project that they've been working on, either giving helpful tips for doing it or just inspiring me to try new things myself. When I started this blog, it was with that in mind. I try an awful lot of things around my house. Some of my projects work, many do not.

So with that in mind (and having just royally screwed up my latest project), I have decided to include a new section in my labels, "Don't do what Donnie Don't does". These are things that I suggest you do not do. (If you don't get the reference- it's from the Simpsons.)

The first bit of advice I would like to humbly offer is the following. After you paint your bathroom, DO NOT shower in there for quite awhile. I'm not sure exactly how long you need to wait, but I can tell you it's longer than 24 hours. I know this because 24 hours after I finished mine, I was overcome by the beauty of it. I simply *had* to hang up the shower curtain and take it for a test drive. As I washed my hair, I looked up and noticed tiny little bubbles forming all over the surface of the wall. Yep, in several spots, the paint had actually bubbled away from the wall. I'm assuming this was from the moisture from my somewhat steamy shower, since the bubbles were not there before. Jeff did read the back of the can of paint for me after I threw open the bathroom door mid-shower in an attempt to remove moisture. He jokingly said, "Not for use in bathrooms." Ha ha ha. Isn't he funny? Well, actually he is. But the point is, the can said nothing about how long you need to wait before exposing the wall to atmospheric moisture.

Originally, I had planned that my next post here would include a beautiful picture of my finished bathroom, complete with the story of how I ended up with the exact color that I wanted, but fate sent me bubbled paint. Maybe I'll get to the more inspiring post later, but for now, the moral of the story is this... after you paint a room and you think you've waited long enough to use it, wait longer.

Added Note- I actually don't think it was that I didn't wait long enough. All the paint experts I asked believed that it is because I didn't do a good enough job cleaning off the bleach that I used to kill the mildew before painting. So, don't do that either.