Sunday, December 2, 2012

I love mail!

I'm a nerd. I wholeheartedly embrace it.
Major worldwide celebrities don't really excite me. I wouldn't believe that it was really handled by the celebrity if I received a response. I would assume that it was someone in their entourage.

But crafting celebrity idols? Definitely them. And definitely exciting.

Yesterday morning, I was looking through Delia's recent posts and noticed her husband's wedding band. Weird? Probably. But what caught my eye was that it's black. You don't see a lot of those out there. Except, my husband has one. So I emailed her to mention it and ask what her husband's is made of. And she replied!!! I got so geek excited, not just for the reply, but also because of the coincidence of the matching color/materials.

Then, a little while later, I was on Etsy adding to my Christmas Wishlist and I came across a treasury of orange items, nearly all of which were subsequently added to my list. So I decided to send the link to the treasury to Katy, another of my idols. No reply last night, but I figured she would be too busy to respond, and that's ok. But then this morning, I checked my email and she replied! And she liked the treasury!

Double score!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kudzu, King of the South

Today saw the return of the Kudzu Festival to my small town. It had been 6 years since the last one. Funny enough, just a couple of weeks ago, my husband and his cousins were talking about how we all grew up here but never went to the festival. Then a week later, I get a message from the PTO at the kids' school telling everyone that it was back!

Unfortunately, B&E were spending the weekend with their mom, so it was just me, the hubs, my father in law and Baby D (who is not so much baby anymore...waaaah)

First, we went to the petting zoo area. D has never really gotten to see a lot of animals beside cats and dogs, despite living out in the boonies. He got to see a sheep, a handful of goats (babies!), a duck, a hen, some puppies, a couple of rabbits...and a 2 day old piglet (squeeee!).
He's wearing his crown!
 After the petting, it was time to ride the pony!
He was so unnerved that I had to hold him up the entire ride...but it was so worth it :)
We were hoping to try some fried kudzu blossoms and any other kudzu delicacies, but sadly (or happily?) the only one they had was kudzu jelly. 
We tasted this one and bought a jar. It was actually really good - tastes like apples and honey. Check out the store, too. The original is in Valley Crusis, NC, just outside Boone, but there's another one in downtown Asheville, too. Seriously, check them out and buy some Kudzu Blossom Jelly while you're at it!

Finally, we wandered through the refurbished historic buildings and headed inside the main museum building to see the civil war history of our town. It was nice to have a break from the heat in the sun, and it was neat to look around a place I hadn't been since early middle school.

The hubs bought me a new ring 

and I bought him a small geode to break for B&E when they come home so they can see what's inside. We also made a deal to go visit the same historic site again with all three kids, and go visit the Andrew Jackson Park not far from here so we can go for a nature walk again, too. 

For more info on the museum that supported the festival this year, visit Andrew Jackson's Birthplace.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I DO Help!

Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, diligently doing my job, and I got this overwhelming sense of pride. No idea where it came from, but I was proud of my job and the way I do my job.

I work for one of the largest banks in the country in the bankruptcy department. Try saying that to someone who asks where you work and a slip of a look flits across their face. Then tell them what I actually do in that department - loan modifications - and the slip of a look turns into an out and out frown.

That look really bothers me deep down, even though I try not to let it. I know I do work that helps make the world a better place. But the media has painted the banks to be big greedy people grabbing houses out from under people trying their hardest to pay their bills.

I'm not going to lie. We can't help everyone save their home. It's not that we don't try (please remember that nearly all loans have more than one modification option that we try to get). We do. We try very hard to make sure that the documents we gather for the decision are just so in order to cut down on the total time it takes to get that decision back to the borrower. Because the group I work for is very specific, we get to know the borrowers and their situations, the sound of their voice, the desperation they're feeling.

When we get a denial, we all feel bad, and the team gets quieter while we work. When we get an approval, no matter how small, we get excited. It makes us hopeful that we've been able to do the one thing that could help a family stay in their home. I know of one borrower I had that I got to know very well during collecting his document package that when I was told of his approval for a mod, I cheered - when I learned that his monthly mortgage payment had been cut nearly in half (*not typical, just lucky), I cried. I knew that we had saved his home and given him piece of mind. He's not the only one this has happened for, and I can say he won't be the last for me, either.

A lot of times, people get so angry with us for taking longer than they want to review the documents they send in. I understand because there is so much uncertainty attached to a loan modification request. We try our best to be a team of superheroes, reviewing as many loans each day as we possibly can. We want to be able to do it all in one day, and unfortunately we can't. All I can say is that if you're in the situation of waiting for a loan modification, please stay on top of us and keep us aware of your loan - but try to have a little patience. You're not alone in your urgency, and we do take things personally.

Yesterday, while driving home, chewing on the inside of my cheek, thinking about why I was so proud of the work I do, I decided that I don't care about that look that people get when they hear I work on loan modifications. I know to the bottom of my heart that I do good work to help people stay in their homes. We, the bank, don't make the rules about what is and isn't allowed. We just have to follow those rules when we review all of the financial information. I know that I will continue to feel bad for the families we can't help in my group and cheer for the families we can help. I'll continue to imagine the ones that do qualify hearing the good news, seeing the relief on their face, maybe taking everyone out for pizza to celebrate.

I do good work. I am proud.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Big 2-8!

So. Tomorrow is my birthday.
circa September 1984
T claims I'm about to eat my sister up, like a lion devouring a gazelle. (Get it? Lion? 'Cause I'm a LEO?)
Being a Megan is tiring work!
Every SuperGirl needs her Duplo Bloks!
 And every super hero crash lands at least once...
I think I was a homemade butterfly until I was 7
2 weeks before T found me again
Can you believe it will have been 3 years next week?
My oldest and dearest bestie, at my baby shower
And that's me. I couldn't find the pictures of me from this past July 4, but I'll add them when I do. Now you're caught up on 28 years of yours truly!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dads R Gr8

I'm going to take a page from Katy's book (no big dill) and celebrate my dad and my children's dad. First up is my dad. These pictures are old - the only ones I have handy on the computer, but they'll showcase my dad at quite possibly his awesomest.
About a month after I was born, 1984
 My favorite Halloween costume. Not sure what he was supposed to be, but loved it nonetheless.
And then my husband, T. Father to my children. He's a great dad, loving to laugh with the kids and get snuggles. He shares his love and knowledge of comic books with the big kids, and he gingerly brushes E's hair after bath time. He had to grill his own steak tonight, but at least he loves it :) I'm horrible on the grill. I did make him a baked potato and a broccoli casserole. His dad came over and my dad got home from work just in time. 
  Our very first Easter together - look how young B and E were!!! (D was just a grape in my belly)
Happy Father's Day to my dad, my husband, and my father in law. And of course to all the other fathers out there that work hard for their families. I hope you know how much you're appreciated!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

1 month, 3 projects

So yesterday I was unloading some groceries in the kitchen when I realized it had been exactly a month since my last post. And in that month, I've actually done 3 projects (one last night!).

The first was a shirt for work. I have this problem where I have a large chest and a belly, and I'm longer waist, too. It means that long shirts are actually the right length when I buy them, but too short after I wash them (no matter how delicately I wash and dry). But I like to sew, so why not whip up some shirts that are work appropriate and will be long enough for my comfort?

I grabbed some royal purple and India green/gold knit fabric from JoAnn's ($4.99/yd, down from $19.99/yd!!!). The purple so far has been used to make a 3/4 length sleeve shirt with a v neck. I used some white cotton quilting material for a trim around the waistband, sleeves and collar. It's not too bad, for a quick work with no pattern. I think I may need to take it apart to repair a few things and tidy it up. The green/gold I used to make a faux wrap shirt. I love the wrap style, but they usually pull too low and show too much boobage. So I used a favorite tshirt as the guide and whipped up a tshirt with a decorative stitch along the edging. I still need to stitch the inside wrap to the outside wrap in the front so I can stop constantly adjusting it, but otherwise, it's a pretty comfy shirt. Oh, and the sleeves have some pouf pleats (totally accidental) which got complimented as soon as I got to work. Score!

The third project, begun and completed last night, is based off Delia's Easy Mommy Skirt. I love the skirt she created, and I would LOVE to have one. Green skirts have been a favorite of mine for a long time. BUT, I work in a corporate environment and have tattoos on the top of my feet. So pants are my typical wardrobe. Then, I saw this post and it combined my favorite swirly green skirts with Chucks. Wait...why haven't I thought of wearing Chucks with a skirt to work for casual week/day before? Genius!

Pictures will be forthcoming, following some of the aforementioned adjustments.

Hope everyone is doing well and good and stuff :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

First of all..I want to say Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are moms or will be moms...even those with furry children (like my sister). You (we) work hard and it's appreciated!
Me and my mom (don't tell her I used this picture!)
My mom came home from Mississippi to visit and it was nice. She's wonderful and I miss her so much. She spent all day Friday with T and D, and checked in on B&E. Then yesterday I took her into town so we could check out the local farmer's market and spring festival that was going on. 

T and I went to lunch with a cousin and his wife - they're currently trying to get pregnant - so we got them a "Future Mother's Day" gift :). It was fun because afterwards we ran a few errands on the way to the house and then played Wii til about 9. 

Today we all went over to my sister's house for lunch before heading out to window shop and pick up B&E from their weekend with their mom. Easy dinner and some laundry and here I am. Watching a movie and getting ready for bed before starting another week at work.

Oh, except E made me cry tonight with the presents she made in school. She and B planted some flowers at school and brought them home for me. It was the sweetest thing :)

And last, but CERTAINLY not least...Congrats to Jessica from Craftiness is not Optional. She's expecting a new little one this coming November. What better news to share on Mother's Day than that!

So night night, sleep tight, and thank Heaven for the mom that brought you into this world.

Friday, May 11, 2012



Ugh. I've sneezed enough for a small nation today. My manager came in last week sick, and though she wasn't in the office much or long, she loves to stand at my desk (I sit in the middle of our group).

Wednesday night sent me to bed feeling like I was wearing goggles coated with sand and jalapenos. I left work early on Thursday so I could try to get the swelling to go down.

Thursday night wasn't so bad. Lots of congestion, but no sneezing, no coughing.

This morning....I woke up sneezing.
I sneezed on the way to the shower.
I sneezed through the shower.
I sneezed after the shower.
Then I sneezed through work.
Finally, around 1:30, I hit my wall. My shoulders and back ache, my eyes are lined with sandpaper and tied with weights. My nose is raw and red. And I can't. Stop. Sneezing.

Welcome to Spring!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Slammin' Salmon

I hate salmon. Ok, I don't totally hate it anymore. But I used to.

Until a coworker discovered this nifty trivia bit about me and decided to win me over to the dark side. She grilled a couple of pieces and managed to keep her little guy (age 2) from gobbling it up before she could bring it in for me. And you know, despite having been reheated in the microwave, it was pretty tasty!

The past couple of days I haven't been feeling so good, so today when I actually ate all of my lunch I figured it was a good sign. I stopped on the way home and got some salmon, a thing of 4 artisan lettuces and some fresh baby bella mushrooms.

Since dinner tonight was so yummy (D ate a whole piece all by himself!), I figured I'd share the simple meal with you all.

First, I took some aluminum foil and laid the salmon fillets on top. I lightly brushed the bottoms with olive oil. Then I lightly sprinkled some garlic powder, coarse sea salt, onion powder and smoked paprika on top. I folded the sides up and made a nice, tightly sealed little pouch with the foil and T put them on the grill.

For the asparagus, I made them my usual way - trim off the bottoms, then lightly coat with olive oil. I sprinkled on some coarse sea salt, garlic powder and fresh ground pepper. T puts them right on the grill and lets the tips and some of the stalks get a little blackened. Mmmm...

And finally, the salad. I rough chopped all four of the artisan lettuces (really, why are they called that? Either way, that's what the box they come in says) and tossed them in my big mixing bowl. Then I washed and sliced the baby bellas, chopped up some cucumber and apples, threw in some grapes, shredded a carrot or two and added some French's Fried Onions. A little shredded cheese and that bad boy was ready to be dressed!

All in all, dinner was light, filling and tasty. Not too shabby for the first foray into grilling fish.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


My husband has a vlog on YouTube and since he recently reached 100 subscribers, he posted a video asking for his viewers to submit questions for him to answer. Since I don't have the time to commit to really posting lots and pushing for more subscribers of my own here, I figured I'd just answer some of the questions he's received.

1. What's your favorite movie?
It's a tie. My favorite musical movies are Labyrinth and Singing in the Rain. My favorite "chick flick" is Love, Actually. And my favorite Horrody (horror comedy) is Shaun of the Dead. Any of those movies can be watched repeatedly on any given day.

2. What's your favorite new tv show this past season?
I love New Girl, and (though it was season 2, it was new to me) Happy Endings was AWESOME. But I think my current addictions are GCB (and yes, my accent gets worse after every episode) and Once Upon a Time (who doesn't love a real life fairy tale book?)

3. What book are you reading?
Well, I started a few weeks ago on Beautiful  Creatures. But then my dad came home with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I snatched it (nicely!) and dug in.

4. Did somebody just say...BANANAS?!?
Nanananananana let's go bananas! My husband teases me for knowing all the words, including the rap, to this song from Fresh Beat Band. We're fans of the original Marina (no offense to the new one!), and he randomly starts singing the song in the parking lot while we're out because I can't resist singing along and doing the parts he doesn't know.

Well, that's all I've got for now. Soon there may be more, depending on time. I took today off for toddler appointments, so I figured I'd do a quickie post while waiting for the big kid bus. Good day to be not at work - it's so chilly and rainy. I've had my cuppa and snuggled in bed for a while and man...I needed that! 

Monday, April 9, 2012


Hi everyone!
So, recently I accepted a full time position at the bank where I was working as a temp. I'm really excited to have full time work (so much less stressful when you aren't worried about your contract ending!), and benefits, and I actually enjoy my job. My team is small (only 10, plus the manager, when we're fully staffed!), which makes us a lot like family.

The problem I'm having is with missing my blog and you all. See, I get up at 5:15 every morning so I can shower before I have to get the kids up. Then they get dressed while I'm getting myself ready for work. We have to be out the door no later than 6:10 to catch the bus and I don't even have time to come back inside once they're off to school. Shoot, I don't even have time to do makeup before leaving, unless I want to get up earlier (and really, who wants to do that?). After work is through, I head home and cook dinner, help with the bits of homework I'm better with explaining, and finally I get to relax for about 30 minutes before my bedtime. It's exhausting most days!

So now I don't have enough time to blog, much less sew. Hopefully as work slows down a bit with more people coming to our teeny group, I'll have more time on the weekends and less stress every day. But for now, I likely won't blog much. I just didn't want you to think I was ignoring you. I'm not. I miss you guys like I miss my kids when I head to work every day.

Hopefully soon I'll have something new to post. Maybe even a cross-post with my husband and his YouTube channel (he reviews metal music)

Discovery Place Kids

My husband's mom lived right down the street from this made-for-kids museum, which opened about 6 months before she passed. Unfortunately, we were never in good enough of a financial position to afford to visit, even when we were already in the area to visit her. Until now.
I have to say, this is an awesome museum and play area for kids. My problem was that it was a rainy Saturday (what better day to go?) and it was slam packed. Which made for a crowded, muggy, miserable time when you're trying to keep up and interact with your kids.
 Doctor Emily works sideways!
All tuckered out...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I'm Crafting!

I know it's been a while since I've done anything crafty. It's hard when you go from all this time not spent in the car while you're staying home with the kids, to spending an hour in the car going to work for 9 hours. And when you have to be up at 5:15 am, it makes those evening hours even shorter, too.

Soon (meaning after my lazy butt gets up to do laundry) I'll have a picture of a quick refurbish job I did on an old shirt I loved but didn't grow in size like I did.

But for today, who can guess what this picture shows? Besides the obvious of a blue disc and a silver disc in my tiny baby hand? Whatever will I be making from these? And why?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dexter Duck

This week is B's turn to bring home Dexter Duck. He comes in his own bag with a few books. And the kids get to take him with them everywhere they go over the weekend, taking pictures along the way. Then on Sunday night, the pictures get printed and a story is written, and the whole class gets to hear the adventure on Monday.
We took Dexter to dinner last night. B found his first real crush (a cute girl there for a Father/Daughter dinner party), and promptly forgot where he left Dexter. T found him under a coat and tucked him in next to him.
Then he snuck out for a quick photo op with Ms. E. B was looking the other direction, worried about telling his teacher that he'd managed to lose the class duck in a matter of hours.
HEY! Where'd you find him! No fair!
Today we took the kids on more errands, but included a trip to the jumpy play place palace. Yeah...that's what I'm gonna call it. Dexter spent most of his time on the couch with T while the kids played and I chased Baby D around. But he did get to play for a minute and enjoy a ride down the slide.
 Finally, before we headed home for the night, Dexter took a ride with Uncle Drew. E dug up quarters from the yard in the back.

My Rings Are HERE!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! I made mini cupcakes for my new team at work. They were yummy :)

I had a horrible night with a fussy baby that wouldn't sleep more than about 20 minutes at a time. And then I had to get up at 5:15 to shower before getting the kids up for the bus. Bleh. BUUUUUUT, T was the wonderfullest husband ever and left me a white rose and a white lipstick rose at the edge of my bag and a card so perfect I cried. A lot. :) So I left him his sappy card and a nice big cupcake.

How did you celebrate? Do you like to celebrate? 

My keyboard got soda spilled on it by an overzealous baby, so my keys stick. Boo.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Paranormal What?

I LOVE scary movies. The creepy ones that are more about suspense than gore are my cup of tea (not to discount the gorefest, though...I do have a soft spot for those as well). When Paranormal Activity first came out, I was beyond excited. It looked like something that would scare the poo out of me and leave me begging for more. I was right. Even the sequel didn't disappoint.

And then...they decided to change directors and capitalize on the hype. I wish they hadn't.

T brought home Paranormal Activity 3 last night, just for me. Maybe I was just so hyped up to see it that I had expectations that were too high. Or maybe they were in for the jump out and grab you scares instead of the subtle, nail biting, "did I just see that?" kind. I remember the first movie had a scene where you saw footprints in baby powder...actually, I should say hoof prints. And it also had bumps, and doors/cabinets moving on their own..and the creepiest thing: Katie (the main character) getting out of bed and standing there for hours staring at her sleeping boyfriend. The second movie takes place at the same time as the first, but focuses on Katie's sister and her family. It's just as creeptastic, with the focus on the toddler son. The dog barks at "nothing" in the room, the reflection in the mirror still faces out even though the boy is not facing the mirror, etc.

In number three, they move back in time to investigate what makes the first two stories happen. But it's a different director. Now, I enjoyed the movie Catfish, in a strange, what's going on sort of way. They weren't meant for the subtle horror movie. There are multiple times where the characters jump at the camera to scare you. They try to explain the strange noises and events as part of a game of Bloody Mary, or maybe witches lived in our houses? Or maybe...there were too many options so they decided to throw all of them at us.

Sorry for the mini rant about a horror movie. I know this blog is mostly for crafting and cooking, but this...I just couldn't let this go. I promise that I'll have another post about cross stitch (I have a Kat R. Pillah to share!) soon, and perhaps a jacket or shirt or something soon (I'm mulling a color block shirt like the dresses the celebs are wearing) when I get my sleeping schedule balanced and I'm not so tired. The moral of this post? Don't watch Paranormal Activity 3. Just stick with the first two and make up the third in your head.

It's good to have work

This past week was my first week with my new job, and of course it's nothing but training. So far, so good. It seems like it will be much like my last job, just more specialized, which is nice - I love the familiarity, but crave the challenge of something new. And the trainer is wonderful with all four of us.

Next week is more training before they turn us loose. The hours are 7 am - 4 pm. That makes it perfect to get the kids up and off to the school bus before taking off myself, and I still get home in plenty of daylight to make dinner and see everyone before bedtime. The downside is that I haven't gotten my sleep schedule worked out, and Baby D has gotten his all out of whack, so I find myself exhausted by 8 pm. Soon....soon it will be better.

Oh! And more news? I got to pick out new glasses frames today! Woohoo! No more crooked and broken metal frames! No more scratched and blurry lenses! I get to pick them up on Valentine's Day and I am SOOOOOOOOOO excited. Like, so excited, I might get bangs. (nothing like a Happy Endings reference to make my day).

Friday, January 27, 2012

News! I got a new pair of NEWS!

Ok, so I totally stole the inspiration for the title from the song off Yo Gabba Gabba (Shoes! I got a new pair of shoes! Shiny and clean, they're my favorite color green. A new pair of shoes). But it's ok, because I DO have two pieces of news to share!

First, I am happy to finally be able to share that this past December 30, T and I finally tied the knot. It was just a simple, quickie ceremony and we had no family there. My mom lives in MS for work and if one person couldn't make it, we didn't want any people to make it to avoid anyone feeling like we'd planned things so they were excluded. ('d happen). So we asked a couple of friends...and then an extra friend because one of our first choices was due any day then and I hoped if she planned on being there for us, then life would kick in and she'd go into labor. No such luck - she had to be induced a few days later.

Second, life has been tough the past month. When T lost his job, we were already pretty strapped from Christmas. We've spent the past month relying on the grace of God and the love and assistance of our already strapped families. Thankfully, we've already gotten our taxes filed and that wonderful child credit gives us something to float on for a while. Buuuuuut....the REAL second bit of news is *drumroll*
I got a job! Whoo! It's decent hours where I'll still get to see the kids and even make dinner, plus it's close-ish to home and the pay is great!

Unfortunately that last bit means I'll have to slow the crafting (could it really get any slower?) for a bit while I get life balanced back out from the job and whatnot, but I'll still be trying to make stuff in the spare time and on the weekends.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Year, New Addiction

My mom...she just knows how to enable me.

Last night, she sent me an email asking if I'd seen this site.

I checked it out and I am SO in love with 85% of the clothing on there. And the BEST part? They tell you which pattern/number to use to achieve the look you see in stores! YES! As I'm looking to return to the workforce, I will be needing new work clothes. I've always loved the classic lines and styles of the 50s and 60s (think Mad Men with less overt sexiness), so these are perfect for me. Yay!

Of course, it just adds to my list of fabric store purchases for our tax refund!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Who's Run? Ray's Run!

I'm glad I'm finally getting a chance to post this, though I deeply wish I didn't need to.

When I got pregnant with D, I desperately needed people to talk to that were also pregnant at the same time. I turned to and joined into the discussions with my birth month. During the pregnancy, I grew attached to a few of the hundreds of ladies, and eventually we all formed a private group. It was lovely, though for the first 4 months of D's life, I worked an odd schedule and couldn't join in much. And then, on January 14, I lost my job. I immediately turned to my old friends for comfort, but found myself doing the comforting somewhat.

September 1, 2010 brought the birth of an adorable little boy named Ray. His mommy, Erin, is one of the nicest people I know. She's very diplomatic (which is wonderful, except when you KNOW you're right and you want her on your side!), and she cares so much it's ridiculous. I got to learn more about her and Ray throughout our pregnancies, and we congratulated each other on our births (mine on September 9). Everything was going beautifully with the kids growing and learning more and more each day, with hundreds of pictures being posted to the group daily.

January 11, 2011 brought one of the worst tragedies a parent can ever go through. Ray was at his daycare taking a nap when his care provider realized that he wasn't breathing. She did everything she could, as did the paramedics who arrived insanely fast, but to no avail. Ray Gregory passed that morning due to SIDS. This was one of my biggest and worst fears with D. I still wake sometimes in the night just to make sure he's breathing and his blankets and pillow aren't over his face. I also sometimes prefer he nap on me, despite the inability to get anything done, simply because I revel in the feeling of his breath on my cheek or neck.

Erin and her husband decided that instead of wallowing in their misery and heartache, they were going to do anything they could to prevent this tragedy from happening to any other parent. They organized a charity run called Ray's Run. Last June was the first annual run, and the last I heard they planned another for this year, though their site hasn't been updated yet. I doubt this year that Erin will be participating, though...she's due with another son soon!

I also found out that a friend from high school lost her niece of 3 months to SIDS in 2011, too. Ms. Imogen Riley was very very loved, from the pictures I've seen (and really, how could you NOT love a little baby?) and is missed more every day. SIDS has hit me close to home, though thankfully not IN my home, so I wanted to take the time today to remember these two special babies, as well as all of the other lives lost to this syndrome.

Take a moment to snuggle your little ones, no matter how not little they are these days, and stop by Ray's Run to show your support.

Helena Hekiphump

When I was a kid, I had a hard time saying the word 'elephant', as I hear most kids do. My word for elephant was 'hekiphump' (pronounced heck-ee-fump). 

A couple of years ago, I gave my mom a small gift box from Barnes and Noble that was simple cross stitch projects. She needed something small and simple should could easily do while relaxing on weekends, or when work was slow (she used to work from home). Unfortunately, she never really got around to doing any of them, partly because she has rheumatoid arthritis and her hands hurt. So a few days ago, I was sitting in the living room and realized that D had pulled it off the shelf and it had just been sitting there with him walking all over it and the dog playing soccer with it. I picked it up, dusted it off, and decided I'd finally give cross stitch a good try. If I couldn't do it this time, well...there may have been no hope.

The first project I chose was the most adorable little elephant - and I don't even like elephants! The book names her Ella Elephant, and she's shown with grass and spraying water from her trunk. But me? I took one look and just knew she was a Helena. I must say, I'm very proud of myself. :)

Next I tried to do a zombie bride and groom (I LOVELOVELOVE zombies) from a kit T gave me last Christmas. Well...they only provide materials for the first three projects, and mine is like the second to last. So...I have to wait til I can make it out to get the thread colors I need to finish. Oh well, I needed to go out to get stuff to teach the kids basic cross stitch. We're going to make their mom book marks for Mother's Day. 

And today....I finished up the second animal: Darius Hutihu (pronounced hoo-tee-hoo). Why Darius? Because he's a Hootie (and the Blowfish) of course! :D You can thank T for that one. **pause here for shower due to D's seriously huge poosplosion**

I'm thinking I'll keep up with the cross-stitching...for now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Boy, that Jeopardy sure is hard!

Tonight was the east coast online test for Jeopardy! I wanted to do it last year, but with the working and the new baby, things just didn't time out for me. So this year I registered in plenty of time and managed to take the test on time.

Boy is it hard! I'm sure I didn't do so well, but you'll never know unless they call you for an audition. But I can say that the test made me realize just how much I don't know...and how much I needed a nap and a quiet room.

Oh well. Veggie and Roast Soup for dinner and kidlets sleeping early tonight has left some time for T and I, which is a rarity. He's working on his research for his vlog since Wikipedia will be down all day tomorrow, and I'm helping him research and giving myself a much needed semi mani/pedi. Oh, and listening to the rain come down before it turns all too cold again tomorrow.

A little bit of hope on the job front...but my superstitions force me to remain quiet for a little longer.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Personalized Birthday Shirt for Girls

This past September brought the celebration of Baby D's first birthday (eep!), and like every other new parent (B and E are steps, so I'm a first timer with D), I wanted him to have an adorable birthday outfit. Back when he was only 4 or 5 months old, my mom and I were shopping in Target and ran across their adorable appliqued onesies that just had a cutely boyish 1 on the front, and then the soft blue stretchy crowns for the birthday boy. So he was set.

Then when it got closer to E's birthday, my head cleared from the new mom clouds and I had sudden inspiration for a birthday shirt to make her day special for her.

First I grabbed a hot pink tshirt from Hobby Lobby (I think it was $3.99 and then I had a coupon from the newspaper for 40% off one item. Sweet!). Then I took a section of the newspaper that I wasn't going to read (sports?). Keeping the pages together, I unfolded the section top to bottom, so it looks like a closed book. Using the top half, I free handed a large 5, making sure to keep it's sizing within the size of her shirt (for E, the newspaper allowed the perfect amount of space for a 5 to cover her shirt without being too big).

Being VERY careful while cutting out, making sure to keep the pages together, I taped around the edges to make sure the pages stayed together and the shape stayed put. Can you tell I could only find painters tape when I needed it? :)
Using the number as a template, I used the bottom half (ok, so in the picture it's the top half) of the newspaper to create the number again. This one I am NOT cutting out, but instead using it to get the shape and size of my letters. I drew these in pencil first so I could erase, but then had to go over in permanent marker so I could see to cut them out. And so you could see them in the picture :)
Tape the edges of the letters, too so they stay together. I did this because I prefer a thicker pattern piece to trace and cut versus the tissue paper thin ones. If you're good with the thin paper patterns, feel free to skip the multi layers and the taping.
 **Ok, I appear to have stopped taking pictures for a while. But next I used the pattern pieces I just made to cut out the letters and number from the fabrics I'd purchased. I chose a pretty white material with a tiny white flower pattern for the number and then a fat quarter stack that luckily had 5 coordinating fabrics for the letters. Once those were cut out, I used iron on interfacing to attach the number to the shirt and then the letters on top of the number the way I had drawn them on the newspaper.**
Using thin black ribbon and Aileen's Fabric Glue Pen, I carefully outlined each letter to make them pop. I also outlined the 5, in order to cover the raw edges (it was a woven cotton and wanted to fray a bit). For the curvy pieces of letters, I had to cut teeny tiny little slits partially through the ribbon, allowing for the bends without the ribbon sticking up funny. Sometimes that meant sitting there holding the ribbon down on the curve for 3-5 minutes before carefully peeling my finger off. :)
You can see above where I had multiple ribbons going so that I could get it done quicker. The glue takes very little to stick and less time to set, so I ran several ribbons at once so I could alternate.

Finally, deliver to the birthday girl and go have some fun!
PS - E still wears her shirt to school on occasion, and it's gotten a few compliments from class moms.
PPS - I also sketched out numbers/names for a friend of mine, but I don't have pictures to share, and no permission yet to share them if I had pics! If I ever get pictures/permission, I'll share her work with you, too!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Peenybudder Cookies

I recently posted a recipe for my version of my mother-in-law's banana pudding cookies. The other cookie I remember her making (and disappearing first) were her PB&J cookies. They were delicious, like eating the best PB&J ever. Her cookies were thick and full of nutty goodness, and sandwiched in the middle was the Goober jelly spread - you know, the one where the PB and J are swirled together in the jar, so the J is a little thicker.

These were T's FAVORITE that his mom made, and I know he's been missing them. So I decided to take up the challenge to make my own version of these awesome treats. First I made the PB cookie batter and then decided to mix the J right in so it would cook together and be like a sandwich all in one bite. The way I did it turned out well, and I like them the more I ate them, but I think next time I'll follow the recipe I'm about to share and then sandwich some jelly between the cookies for a sandwich. Either way works wonderfully, but the recipe below is the best PB cookie I've ever tried. It stands on it's own.

Peenybudder Cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1  cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 giant scoops of PB, creamy or crunchy (I used approximately 12 oz of creamy PB)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, brown sugar, and blend well.
3. Whisk wet ingredients in another bowl until creamy: butter, vanilla, eggs.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients until mixed well. Add PB and blend throughout.
5. Refrigerate batter until firm (you CAN bake immediately at this point, but cookies hold shape and tend to bake better if refrigerated first), then spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 13-16 minutes, or until edges appear dark brown and top appears golden brown.
7. Loosen cookies from cookie sheet with spatula, but do not move to cooling rack (can move to a plate to use cookie sheet for more cookies) as the cookies will sag between the slats of the rack. Let rest at least 5 minutes.

To make into PB&J cookies, spread jelly on the bottom of one cookie and press another cookie bottom onto the jelly.

Otherwise, sit back with a big cold glass of milk and enjoy the best PB cookie EVER. Of course, I'm a little biased :)

**This recipe is also initially based off the Nestle Tollhouse recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag**

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gum. Bo. Gumbo!

I've know T since I was 9 and he was 11. We dated in high school, lost touch for 8 years, and have now been together for just shy of 2 1/2 years. In all the time I've known him, I had no idea he LOVES gumbo. Until now.

As I said a few days ago, I'm trying to use up the food in our pantry before going on the big haul shopping trip again. I had the andouille sausage left from the chili, and I had a 2 lb bag of shrimp in the freezer. What to make? At first I thought about making a yummy shrimp and grits dish with a chocolate red eye gravy (don't act like you're not interested!), but T turned up his nose at the red eye gravy. And then he suggested gumbo. Why didn't I think of that?!?

T's Infamous Gumbo
1 half link of andouille sausage, chopped small (by link, I mean the u shaped package in the meat section)
2 lbs 21-30 count shrimp (use whatever and however much you like! I say the more the better)
30 oz. V8 juice, spicy if you like...we used regular low sodium
2 cups of water
celery, diced or rough chopped
carrots, diced or rough chopped
onion, diced or rough chopped
garlic, rough chopped or pressed (I feel like I don't get all of the garlic when I press it, so I just rough chop)
Texas Pete
Ms. Dash hot and spicy seasoning
Knorr Chicken Stock
2 cans veggies (we used 1 can of corn and 1 can of green beans)

**T did the broth part of the soup, and honestly he just went through the cabinet and grabbed what he thought would be good. I encourage you to do the same, just to see what you come up with for YOUR tastes**
1. Start with garlic and your holy trinity: diced celery, carrots, onion. Get them sizzling in the pan and then add in your sausage and brown.
2. In your big pot, mix in the V8, chicken stock, 2 cups water, and all seasonings to your liking (obviously the spicier you want it, the more Texas Pete and spicy seasonings you add). When the sausage is browned, add to the pot.
3. While the soup is simmering, get your rice cooking.
4. In the pan you browned the sausage in, add more garlic (you can never have too much vampire protection!) and more of your holy trinity. Get those sizzling and starting to get a little translucent. Add in your shrimp, a little salt and pepper. If you have lemon or lime juice, throw in a splash of that, too. Once the shrimp are nice and pink, toss them into the simmering soup.
5. Let the soup simmer while you wait for your rice to finish cooking, stirring occasionally. Then serve over rice.

***DISCLAIMER: I know that this is probably the least concise recipe I've posted yet, but that's the thing about my cooking, especially when it comes to soups, stews and gumbos. I almost never measure, and I think that my cooking comes from my heart. I hope you can go into your kitchen and pantry and come up with some great soup for your family, based off my loose recipe here. And if you come up with something super awesome, shoot me an email so I can try it, too!***

Monday, January 9, 2012

Our New Years Resolution

I hate looking for a new job.

A few days before New Years, T's contract ended abruptly (he works through an agency at the moment). Yay! It's such a good way to start our new year off, right? It especially stinks because T was working to allow me to stay home and see D's first stuff, like first steps, first words, etc. He got to see those things with B and E, but I didn't meet them until they were almost 5 and barely 3, respectively. Now, it's back to whoever gets a job first, at least until Gramma moves back to NC.

So we're back to the drawing board and just trying to make it til one of us finds a job. I just finished updating completely redoing both of our resumes, and I'll be scouring the online sites again later this afternoon.

Do you know of a good site to look for jobs? Share it in my comments! Especially if you know of any work-at-home or telecommuting positions.

If anyone is looking for work right now, GOOD LUCK! And if you're in a stable position with work in your household, count your blessings!

(ps - a word of hope: I read an article last night about the national unemployment rate having dropped to 8.7%...that's WAY down from where it has been!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Project Run and Play - Pattern Remix

Hi! Voting is still open over at Project Run and Play for the first week's projects. I voted yesterday and WHEW! There are so many great ideas out there. I LOVE the little tartan dress and how the pattern was turned backwards to achieve an awesome look. And remember when my little blog here started back in October and I spoke about Jessica with Running with Scissors? She's a contestant, too! Check out her adorable little plaid overcoat inspired by the top of the dress.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Whatever You Have Chili

Last week, when the babe and I were so sick, T stayed home one night from work to help out and possibly take us to the ER (we wound up going a few days later instead). His managers decided that they no longer needed his services, and because he was not yet rolled over to permanent from the staffing agency, we're between a rock and a hard place. Yay!

Anyway, I've been trying to stretch the food we already have in the house as long as I can, and buying only a few things like the meats to fill out a meal if necessary. Last night I used some chicken tenders, broccoli from the fridge, and a Pad Thai kit. Pretty good...but what about tonight? CHILI!

I already knew that I DID have dark red kidney beans, great northern beans, taco seasoning mix, and sour cream. I did NOT have meat, tomatoes, or Fritos. After a quick survey of our pantry and a run to the butcher (it's like a quarter mile, instead of the 4 miles to the grocery store), I came up with this recipe. Enjoy, and feel free to try it with variations you might have in your own pantry!

Chili Whatever
1 large can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed lightly
1 small can great northern beans, drained and rinsed lightly
1 pack taco seasoning
1 can tomato soup
30ish oz. V8 vegetable juice
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Sour Cream

1. In a skillet, brown your ground meat with whatever seasonings you like to use. If you have fresh garlic and onion, USE IT. I used garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and chipotle powder. Also brown the andouille sausage (I did this after, without adding spices since andouille can be a little spicy on it's own).
2. Combine meats, V8, tomato soup, taco seasoning and beans in the crock pot. Stir, and set to high (3+ hours) or low (6+ hours). You want the beans to be a little softer than when you first opened the cans, and to give the flavors time to meld. Stir occasionally.
3. Serve over Fritos, topped with cheese and sour cream.

It's always interesting to me to see what I can come up with using just food we already have here. It's neat to figure out what will/can work together. So far it's been successful.

What can you make with the food already stocked in your pantry?

Nanner Pudding Cakies

T's mom passed at the beginning of July, last year. We had a rocky start, but she eventually came around to love me (ha!). I love her very much, and I miss her, wish she'd taught me some of her signature recipes. One of those recipes were her Banana Pudding Cookies. Oh. My. G.... They were so delicious, to the point that I could never eat a whole one (she made them nearly 1/2" thick!).

Before Christmas, I was doing some baking for the boys on T's shift at work, and T reminded me of his mom's cookies. I decided that I'd try my hand at those Banana Pudding Cookies once at for all.

Two things to remember:
1. Cakies was not a typo. :) My cookies have always and will always be cake-like. I like them that way.
2. These are my version of Miss Dianne's cookies, not her actual recipe. Still yummy and a good send up, but not the same.

Nanner Pudding Cakies
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder (it's supposed to be soda, but I somehow don't have any!)
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter or margarine, softened (I tend to have my at least half liquid)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (we're all fancy with our Madagascar Vanilla)
2 large eggs
2 boxes instant banana cream pudding
2 bananas, slightly overripe and mashed chunky
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and pudding.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients: brown sugar, butter, eggs, and milk.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients in larger mixing bowl and fold until wet. If your mixture is too wet and runny, add equal amounts of flour and granulated sugar slowly until you get a better consistency. Add in the bananas.
5. Spoon onto a cookie sheet and toss into the oven (ok, don't "toss". Place gently) for roughly 10-15 minutes. I didn't time mine very well, and wound up having to turn the sheets around halfway-ish through, so keep an eye on your cookies for the first round.

These cakies are not super sweet like you'd expect from cookies, but they're surprisingly addicting AND I think they'd be delicious as the base for a Strawberry Shortcake style dessert.

*This recipe was adapted from the Original Nestle Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsel Cookies recipe listed on the back of my chocolate chip bag.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Last Words

Tonight while making dinner, I had "How I Met Your Mother" on. I like having the noise in the background...or else I watch my pots try to boil. :)

It was the episode for Marshall's dad's funeral. The pastor that was to perform the ceremony left everything in his son's hands (Marshall's former bully), and the question is posed about the last words that his dad said. After several memories of the last words, and a pocket dial, Marshall settled on what he would share as the last words from his dad.

Every time I see this episode, it gets me thinking about what the last words would be from my parents, or my last words to T.

That brings me to a rule that I grew up with in my house. No matter what, even if you're so angry you can't speak, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS say I love you before you leave the house or hang up the phone. If you follow that rule, you never have to worry if something should happen, you'll never have a regret about saying something mean as the last words.

I'm not sure how long before this started, but the event in my life that solidified the rule in my head (and carried over into my relationships with boyfriends and even friends) was the car accident my sister and I were in when I was 8. We had just moved from the city to the country and she'd brought a friend home after school (we were finishing the year at our old school) and she'd only had her license for a month. On the way back into town to drop her friend off at home, she lost control of the vehicle and we slammed into a tree. She shouldn't have survived (thank Heaven she did), and took a lot of rehab. I had surgery, and have had some issues ever since. Scared that I almost lost my sister, I tell my loved ones I love you every time I leave the house or end a call.

Is there a rule like this that your family follows?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Merry Christmas?

This is how I spent my Christmas Morning.
Poor baby D woke up gasping for breath, super congested, and running a fever. After a few cough and some back rubs from Daddy, he was feeling better, but an ER visit was still in our future. I felt craptastic, too, but at least I could cough normally.
Then we drove across town (Mommy had car troubles) to get the big kids and take them home to open presents. Yay! E was so tired she couldn't resist a nap in the car. My sister spoiled all three of them with presents, as did Gramma and Grampa, but Daddy won with the most loved gifts for ALL THREE. Good job, Daddy!
Did you know that D made it all the way to his second Christmas without having his own stocking?! Crazy! So I "whipped" this one up with reverse applique using this amazing glorious green velvet that I bought when I was in 8th grade (I had just seen Gone With the Wind) and one of my dad's old shirts for the liner. This was NOT easy, but totally worth it. I think next year I'll find a different color velvet and do one for another kid, and so on until we all have matching stockings.

After all of these shenanigans, the bigs went back to Mommy for a few days before school. I missed them, but it was a welcome break since D and I weren't getting better. Friday, the day before New Years Eve, T and I spent some time with his cousin and his wife. It was fun...except D was snotty and fussy, and I was coughy and couldn't hear out of my right ear. I woke up early on NYE because my ear hurt and was making my jaw hurt. D and I drove into town to the new ER...O. M. G. We were in and out in under and hour and the staff was super nice. Come to find out, we both had ear infections and sinus infections. YAY! So we're both still healing, VERY slowly, and now I'm trying to nurse T back to health since he decided to join the sicko club.

I see lots of other bloggers out there spent the holidays sick, too. So if you're still sick, I hope you feel better. And if you're not sick, count yourself lucky!