Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Book Nook - revisited

My next series of books that I am going to read is the Harry Potter series. Actually, I am going to re-read them. I received the set of Harry Potter movies for Christmas along with the newest one that was released after Thanksgiving...."The Half-Blood Prince". I am re-reading the series as the previous movies were very close to the books in their interpretation but I do not believe that this latest movie is. So, my curiosity is up and I have to do something about it.

The Book Nook

Over the past week, we've had a lot of snow and we spent most of the time cooped up inside the house. That's the perfect time for some reading, in my book. I started out with a few Harlequin romance books. One of my sisters brought me several boxes of these. I have to say that there's nothing like a good romance novel every now and then. It's so comforting to sit down and lose yourself in one for awhile.
My daughter had picked out a couple of books from a new series the last time we went to Barnes & Noble. She hadn't read them yet and was wanting to know if I had. Since I hadn't, I got them down off the shelf and started to read the first book. I loved it! The first book is called "Moonlight" by Rachel Hawthorne and it's from the Dark Guardian Series. Believe it or not, but this series is not about Vampires. This is one is about werewolves or shapeshifters. The second book is called "Full Moon" and I loved it as well! The third book is called "Dark of the Moon" and I will be trying to purchase it when we go to the mall on Friday. This series is a Young Adult series and I enjoy reading them just as much as I do an adult series of books.
Then I read a couple of the books that I got for Christmas. The first one is called "Magic to the Bone" by Devon Monk. It's the first book of a series. The next two books are called "Magic in the Blood" and "Magic in the Shadows". I do not have these two books as of yet. The book that I read, "Magic to the Bone", is not about a witch, instead the book is about "Magic". It was a good book but not a great book. If asked, I would probably give it three stars out of four.
The next book I read was called "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire. Several times last year, I picked this book up to buy it and then didn't. So I was really surprised to get it as a gift. I want to say that this book is NOT something for young adults to read. In fact, I detested this book. The first two pages were of a shocking sexual nature and by the time I finished reading the book, I realized I would not be continuing to buy and read the rest of the series. I do NOT recommend this book at all. It's amazing how someone can take a movie "The Wizard of Oz" and flesh it out by making up a history for some of it's characters and do it in such a bad way. If asked, I would not even give it one star out of four. I am 43 years old and in those years in which I was reading, I have only found two books that I detested and this is book number 2.
So those are the books that I have read lately. I received several other books as gifts as well, but I've not started on those yet as my daughter is reading them. They are "Hunted" and "Tempted", books 5 and 6 of the House of Night series. She is working on book 6 as I type. I wrote about these in a previous post. We love this series! Of course, it's about Vampires!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Delectable Shell Afghan

My latest crochet project is the "Delectable Shell Afghan" which is actually a baby afghan. It can be found here . It is a free pattern. The yarn I'm using is Bernat's Baby Coordinates in white. I am on Row 19 and I have to say that the pattern is really pretty and it's working up nicely. It's for Skill Level Easy. This will be the first of many items that I will be making for my great-nephew that is due to arrive in May. Two days before my birth day. I will try to post a photo when I get it finished.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Husband and I

I thought that I would include a photo of my husband and I on the blog since I've put the rest of the family on there today. This photo was taken at parent's night or senior night at a basketball game last February. That's our oldest son with us. I was going to put a different photo on here but alas! it seems that the computer gremlins have hidden it from me. It's probably on my husband's computer. That's usually the case.

My Comedian

Every family has one don't they? A Comedian? My youngest son, aged 15, is ours. I was trying to find my favorite photo of him in one of his many hats, but it's on my husband's computer instead of mine. Anyway, here is a photo of my youngest son with a great big smile. He took his own picture. LOL This child of mine has a love for hats...any shape, kind or form. He has a bomber hat that he wears all the time as well as a jester hat that he can be found in around the house quite frequently. I wonder if it started out when we gave him my dad's old hat that was an army or calvary hat or something like that. You just never know, do you?

A Boy And His Car

My oldest son graduated from High School back in May. As his graduation and "going off to college" gift, we bought him a car to replace the "junker" we made him drive around town. Here's a photo of him and his car. What do you think? Do you think he likes it? I know that he's very proud of it. He likes having "snappy" wheels. LOL By the way, he's in a tux waiting in front of his date's house for the trip to Prom. The car is a PT Cruiser, in case you can't tell.

Pepper and Cocoa

I thought I would include a picture of my lovely little doggies on my blog. I haven't wrote about them before because I try to keep my blog on the topics of family, books and crochet and I had this thought a bit ago..."my dogs are my family too" so here they are. They are both two years old right around Thanksgiving this year. They are cousins born one day apart and their moms are sisters. Aren't they cute? They are Shih Tzu's. And they have their sweaters on so they can go outside to potty. Cocoa is on the left and Pepper is on the right.

Baking Day

Today is officially "Baking Day" in my house. I am getting to all those Christmas cookies that I wanted to make for the holidays. So far this morning, I've been working on the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies and the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies. Up next is the Oatmeal Raisin and the Snickerdoodles. By the time I get these done, it will be time for my mom to show up. We'll be making Pumpkin Bread, Peanut Clusters and White Chocolate Dipped Pretzels. I think we are also going to make Peanut Butter Fudge. I guess it depends on whatever my mom brings over for us to make. She loves all this baking and cooking but seldom does it anymore since she's the only one in her household. What is everyone else making for their holiday goodies?


The day after Thanksgiving, my 12 year old daughter got her first set of hair highlights. She's been lobbying for them for almost a year now and with her ash blond hair, I've been loathe to let her do anything to it. My oldest son also has ash blond hair and he got red highlights once and they turned pink. Yikes! Not too good for a high school boy. Anyway, her hair has been darkening up as the winter progressed and there was less and less sun out, so I finally agreed to the highlights but they had to be blond. The blond highlights really brightened her hair up and she looks wonderful. She wasn't too thrilled with the whole process though. Here's a picture of her during the whole episode. Isn't she cute?

Christmas Dinner

We had our family vote over a month ago, and Christmas Dinner this year will be: Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, Salad and Rolls. About five years ago, I started the "Family Vote" for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners. Everyone gets to suggest ideas and then we take a vote to see what makes the cut. Of course, we try to make sure that the side dishes go with the main course. No funny stuff. And they always have the option of the traditional dinner fare. That's what they voted for at Thanksgiving. I have found that the kids really enjoy getting to vote on the menu and I like having their input as well. Why make something that they really don't feel like eating? So what is everyone else having for Christmas Dinner at their house?

Crochet Project - Little Baker's Set

I found this adorable crochet pattern on the internet. It's called the Little Baker's Set. And it's a free pattern. Here's the addy for it http://www.innerchi ldcrochet. com/patterns/ files/little_ baker_set. pdf . Anyone that has a little girl with her very own play kitchen would love to have a set of these for her own. I made two sets yesterday. One was pink and one was blue. The set has oven mitts and pot holders in it.

Project Finished

The TV Lapghan is finished. I completed it yesterday. A couple of things I would like to note though....I only used 2 skeins per color instead of the 5 that the pattern calls for. I am wondering what I did wrong as I followed the directions to the T. Here is a picture of my lapghan. It's not the best picture as the lighting was funny. But it's just big enough to cover all of my legs when I sit in the recliner and still have some for my middle section to be covered up too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Book Nook

I found the time to sit and read a book today. It was one of a series that I gave my oldest son at Valentine's Day this year. The book is called "Witchling" and it's by Yasmine Galenorn. I must say that it's pretty good. It's a distraction from the every day supernatural or fantasy books that I have been reading for the past year and a half. The next book in the series is called "Changeling" and I am looking forward to reading it. So that means that the book gets 3 thumbs up out of 4 on my rating scale. However, be warned that these are for mature readers as there is some sex involved in the telling of the story. But it does have everything I'm looking for in a supernatural book - vampires, witches, shapeshifters, demons, dragons, fairies, etc..

TV Lapghan

My newest crochet project is Lion Brand's Vanna Choice TV Lapghan . It is a free pattern. I am using the following colors to make this: royal blue, white and pumpkin. The pumpkin color actually looks like hunter orange. I am using Red Heart Worsted Weight Yarn.
I am on the seventh row and I have to admit that the pattern is very easy to follow. The colors don't look bad together and my husband says he loves the color combination. The only reason I chose these colors is because I had enough skeins of yarn in each if the colors plus they didn't go together too badly.
This will be the first of the afghans or lapghans that I will be making for the year 2010 and I will keep this one for my household as I always give the things I make away or to the kids and none of the afghans ever stay upstairs in the family room/living room.

Christmas Vacation

School got out at 11:20 a.m. today for Christmas vacation. By noon, I already had one that was bored. *sigh* I hope I will not be hearing this for the next few weeks.
On a good note, I have baked a few cookies today, sent a child off on an evening at the ski slopes with a school organization, wrote and mailed a few letters, and started a new crochet project.
Isn't Christmas vacation grand?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Season For Me

The Holiday Season for me is a wonderful time of year. I love getting up with the kids Christmas morning and opening presents. Being with family means everything to me during this time of the year. But, I also enjoy having some down-time as well over the holidays. I will be using my "me time" to re-read The Harry Potter series. I love this set of books! My daughter has become interested in it as well lately and I'm hoping that she can be encouraged to read the series too. She's been watching the movies with us and a month or so ago we had a Harry Potter weekend and viewed all the movies we had plus we watched the newest one out on video just last week "The Half-Blood Prince". She had loads of questions that we will not answer completely as this last movie is so different from the book. We keep telling her to read the books and she'll figure it out. So maybe if I break the books out off the shelf and am reading them myself, she will pick one up. So, anyone that has a child that loves to read and hasn't yet read this series, maybe you should consider picking it up and giving it a go.

Christmas Vacation Approaches

Christmas vacation is rapidly approaching. Tomorrow, school gets out at 11:20 am. The kids will be home until school restarts on Jan. 4th (I think). Whatever that Monday is after the New Year. I will have to take the time later on to look at a calendar and find out for sure.

So I got to thinking about what am I going to do with the kids for the next couple of weeks and I came up with the following ideas:
1. They can help me make the Christmas candy. We will be making peanut clusters and dipped pretzels.
2. They can help me bake the Christmas cookies. I have 5 types to bake up: M&M, chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodles, and white chocolate macadamia. My youngest son is in FFA and they sold fruit, etc. a couple of months ago and I bought 5 of the tubs of cookie dough. So I only have to bake the cookies instead of mixing the dough up as well. It's a huge time saver.
3. We are going to dust of the games and break them out of the closet for some fun gaming.
4. Several of them need to read during the holidays for their AR points at school. My daughter just started a series that she's been dying to read and she's finished the first book and is chomping at the bit wanting to start book number two. The series is called "The Vampire Academy". I've already read the first three books and I'm going to be buying book #4 after the new year when we go on our annual book run to Barnes & Noble. My youngest son is reading the "Fablehaven" series and he's almost done with book 1 and needs to start book 2 during the vacation time so he will have a head start. He's a bit of a slow reader and he seldom finds a book that he likes and finishes, so this series has been a life saver.

This is my list so far. I don't want to overdo it with finding things to keep them busy as I know they will want to just be lazy for most of it. The kids are very busy during school with sports, activities and of course, homework, so I feel that they need time to regroup and recharge. I'm the same way as I am frequently worn out just keeping up with them.

So, with all this said, I wish all the other mothers out there a Happy Christmas Vacation!

My Christmas Shopping is Finished!!!

My Christmas Shopping is Finished!!! Yippee! I even have everything wrapped and either under the tree or hidden in my bedroom. I cannot believe I'm so organized this year! I'm very proud of myself. This feeling has me inspired to change my tactics for 2010 and the Christmas shopping. My pledge for the new year will be: I will try my hardest to shop through the year so it won't be caught unawares at the last minute. I realize that with having older children, not everything can be purchased early in the year. However, I have already started their "wish list" for 2010 just by listening to them talk about things that they are interested in or things that are their favorites and wish they had. Now, I only have to keep this up in the coming year and do a bit of shopping here and there and I will be one prepared mother in 2010!

Latest Crochet Projects

In the last week, I have finished three crochet projects.....2 Christmas stockings (for a niece and a nephew) and a "Luna Lovegood Scarf" for my daughter. The pattern for the stockings is here and the pattern for the scarf is here . Both are free patterns. With these projects finished, I have now completed my 2009 list of items to crochet. Yippee! *doing a little dance* For your viewing pleasure, here is a photo of the finished "Luna Lovegood Scarf".

I have started my 2010 list of things to crochet now. I know, I's still several weeks off, but I'd like to be prepared. My list is already growing by leaps and bounds. At the very top of the list though, is a bunch of baby items that I want to make for my niece who's expecting in May. In the end though, I will probably only make some blankets and booties for the new baby. I don't know if I have the patience to do some jackets and hats. I will just have to see if I can find a pattern that "inspires" me. The rest of my list consists of different afghan patterns that I am dying to try. Probably the one that's foremost in my mind is the one called the Magic-ghan. Basically, it's where you crochet a basic pattern holding two yarns together with the two yarns being a solid color and the other color being a magic ball of yarn that is made up of all your scraps tied together. Another pattern that I really want to try is for an American Indian inspired afghan. Since my husband and my two youngest children are of the American Indian heritage, it's only fitting that I make one of these. I'm also going to do afghans that are in the ripple pattern, the basketweave pattern, and a patchwork pattern. I also decided that these afghans would be staying in my household instead of being given away like I usually do. I have never made an afghan for my husband so this is going to be the year that I do so. Has anyone else started a list for 2010 of the craft projects that they are wanting to do?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family Cookbook

I wanted to mention in a bit more detail our family cookbook. If your family doesn't have one, you should consider making one. I did one for my family and gave them as Christmas gifts in 2000. They are very handy to have around. But basically, I contacted all of my family members and gave them a deadline for recipe submissions. After I got the recipes, I typed them up on my computer in the format I wanted (including title pages for the sections), then had them printed off at the printer's. I then bound them together but putting them into three ring binders. I used a 3 hole punch to punch the holes evenly. It takes a lot of time to get it all together but in the end, it is well worth it.

As a bonus, I'm including another famly recipe here.

Mexican Dip

Refried Beans
Taco Seasoning
Sour Cream
Taco Sauce
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Onion
Chopped Tomato
Shredded Cheese
Tortilla Chips

Mix refried beans and taco seasoning together. (I will do one packet of taco seasoning per can of beans). This is spread on a round platter and usually just takes the one can of beans. Next, spread the taco sauce on the bean mixture. Then put sour cream on top of that. Layer on lettuce, onion, tomato and cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sharing Another Recipe

I thought I would share another recipe while I have our family cookbook out. It's for Kidney Bean Salad.

Kidney Bean Salad

2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 small chopped onion
salt and paper to taste
enough Miracle Whip to mix.

Mix it all together and refrigerate until time to eat it.

Black Friday

We're hitting the Black Friday sale at Wal-Mart once again this year. It has become a tradition for our family. Everyone gets into it. Last year we even took one of our sons. But usually it's my husband and I and all my sisters. Lots of fun and we go out to breakfast afterwards. Happy shopping everyone! Be safe too!


Thanksgiving is just two days away. The kids are on vacation at school until Monday now. The ladies and I at work, worked super hard the past two days and we got everything done plus some, so we do not have to work tomorrow. We are also off Thanksgiving as well as Friday. So it's a five day weekend for me. Yippee!
Tomorrow, husband and two of the kids and I are doing some errands out of, cellular provider shop, Wal-Mart, etc.. We have to pick up medications, pick up a repaired cell phone and turn in the loaner, and then do a variety of things at Wal-Mart. I would also like to go to Dollar General but I can't remember what it is that I'm looking for. I will surely remember when I've had time to let my brain think.
Tomorrow afternoon, we will start in on the cooking for Thanksgiving Day. I'm making 24 Hour Salad, cooking the hams so we can slice them up and reheat them on Thursday, baking the pies, and making the hot rolls. That's a lot to do, but it will be ok as I don't want to do it all on Thursday morning. We'll be cooking the turkey then and making all the side dishes as well. Those sides are mashed potatoes and gravy, noodles, stuffing, corn, green beans, and deviled eggs. I've probably left something out. LOL
Thanksgiving Day is a family day for us as we also like to watch the Macy's Day Parade, watch football games, and eat. LOL I also like to try and fit in a viewing of "White Christmas" before the evening is over. It's my favorite Christmas movie and we've watched it almost every year since I was a kid on Thanksgiving Day.
We will be having some company for dinner as well. My mom, of course, as well as my Uncle, and who ever else shows up. That makes a total of 11 so far when you count my sister and her three kids that live with us.
Hope everyone has a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

I wanted to share my recipe for 24 Hour Salad. It's a family favorite that my sister-in-law has made for years.

24 Hour Salad

Head of Lettuce
Head of Cauliflower
Head of Broccoli
1 lb. bacon
3/4 C. Parmesan cheese

2 c. mayonnaise (small jar of Hellman's)
1/2 c. sugar

Tear lettuce into pieces. Break off the cauliflower and broccoli heads. Chop onion. Fry bacon until crisp and break into pieces.

Layer in a big bowl as follows:
Bacon pieces

Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top. Mix dressing and spread over the top of the parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Stir just before serving. If you stir it too early, it will get "soupy" too fast. You don't want that.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recipe - Dipped Marshmallows

I wanted to share a very simple holiday recipe that we make every year. It was given to me by my friend Lynda Downes from Northern Ireland. Once she told me about this, I wondered "why didn't I think of that before?".

Dipped Marshmallows

Big Marshmallows
Chocolate Bark

Melt the chocolate bark in a double boiler. Once it's melted, insert a toothpick into each marshmallow and dip the marshmallow into the chocolate to cover. Place on waxed paper for the chocolate to harden.

Optional tip: Once you've coated the marshmallow with chocolate, you can then dip it into various toppings like coconut, sprinkles, chopped peanuts, etc..

Crochet Lip Balm/Chapstick Holder

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote my first crochet pattern. It's for a lip balm/chapstick holder. I am giving three of these out as gifts to some of my nieces at Christmas time. I thought they were really cute and interesting so I wanted to share my pattern with everyone. Here it is. If there are any mistakes, please feel free to let me know. I went back and tested it by making another holder, but I could always still make a mistake.

lip balm/chapstick holder

small amount of worsted weight yarn.
size I hook.
needle and thread
key ring

ch 2.
row 1: work 8 single crochet in 2nd ch from hook. join with sl st to first sc made.
rows 2 - 10: ch 1, 1 sc in each sc around. join with sl st to first sc made. at the end of the last row, after sl stitching to join to the first sc made, ch 1.
row 11: sc in the next 4 st. ch. 1. turn.
rows 12-16: repeat row 11.
row 17: sc in the first st, ch 2, sc in the last st, ch 1. turn.
row 18: sc in first sc, 2 sc in ch 2 space, sc in last sc, ch 1. do not turn.
sc evenly down the side of the "flap" then around the top of the "circle" then backup the other side of the "flap". sl st to join in the first sc of row 15 which is the last row of the flap.
finish off. weave in ends.
insert chapstick into the holder, fold flap over, figure out where the button hole meets the front of the holder and mark the spot where you need to sew on a button. then sew on the button.

i'm going to attach a key ring to the holder so it can be hung inside of my daughter's backpack so she won't lose it. or she can hang it inside her purse.

Baking Today

Well...I'm baking today. Or I should say that I baked today. I'm finished now. I am the Band Booster President for our school band and our yearly fundraiser is a monthly movie night for the kids at school. The K-6th grade views their movie first and the 7th-12th grades view their movie afterwards. Part of the movie experience is going to the concession stand and the band parents provide baked goods for sale. We also have popcorn and pop. So, my contribution to the baked items are peanut butter cookies. Normally, I would bring brownies but other parents are bringing them this time. With my working every day now and also the kids having a home ball game tomorrow night, it meant that I would have no time to get the baking done on Monday. So, today was baking day.
The cookie baking got me into the mood to bake, so I made the family blueberry muffins as well as chocolate chip muffins for breakfast this morning. This is something they really like and I seldom make. I ended up with a total of 5 dozen muffins and whatever isn't eaten up today will be put in baggies and froze for later on. They are easily thawed and make great on-the-run breakfast items as well as quick items for lunch boxes.
This in turn led to me think "Shelly, do you want to bake some brownies now?" and I almost did it. But I have to draw the line somewhere. LOL So the baking experience ended for the day and I cleaned up the kitchen so I could get back to my computer and the blogging I need to accomplish today.

Christmas Is Coming

Christmas is coming and I'm getting into the spirit of things quickly. On Nov. 1st, we put up our Christmas tree. I know, I know....we got it up really early this year. But with the kids involved in sports plus all the school activities and also my working back out at the farm during the pecan season, things are very, very hectic around here.
Yesterday, my husband completed the "putting up" of all the outdoor lights and decorations and I finished up all the Christmas cards that we will be mailing out.
We have simplified the list of cookies that we will make for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays this year by purchasing the buckets of pre-made dough from the kids' fund raisers this past month. We will make a few extra goodies like peanut clusters, dipped marshmallows, chocolate covered pretzels and buckeye balls but most of these items will be given as gifts.
About three or four weeks ago, we had our annual family meeting (those that live in our house get to vote) and we decided on the Thanksgiving and Christmas menu's. Thanksgiving will be a traditional meal of turkey and ham and all the trimmings. Christmas will be non-traditional and will consist of steaks, twice baked potatoes and a variety of other favorite dishes that we seldom have.
I am diligently working on the homemade gifts that I will be giving out. I'm getting more and more of the gifts done and now I just have a couple of afghans left to crochet and one altered book to make. The baked gift items will be made closer to the actual gift giving time. I'm sure that somewhere between now and then, I will decide on a couple of more gifts that I want to make so I have to leave myself plenty of time to do them in.
My mom has been over to visit several times this week as she needed to view our Christmas decorations so she could start getting in to the spirit herself. She has had a small tree the past few years and has decided to go all out again this year with her bigger tree. Even my sister Marie has gotten into the spirit of it all and has put up her tree early as well. She said it was a huge relief to have it up already as she also has a place to put all the presents she's been buying early. Our whole family gets into the shopping early thing and then we put the presents away so no one will find them and we all have a tendency to misplace something and not be able to find it when it's time to bring them out. I still haven't found the poster we bought for our daughter last year. *sigh*
So, what are you doing to get ready for Christmas?

I'm stuck on...the Ugly Duckling Blanket

As you can tell by the title of this post, I'm stuck on the Ugly Duckling Blanket crochet pattern. I have found that it is so easy to customize this pattern to fit your needs. By the way, here is the pattern link for it again. It's not actually called the Ugly Duckling Blanket. It's called the 4 1/2 hour crochet afghan. So, what makes it the Ugly Duckling Blanket? You use all your leftover yarns and hold two strands together of two different colors while crocheting. You can make it striped or you can make it a solid color. I've done both. At first, I didn't think that the striped ones would be cute, but they were. I've done two of these for two of my nieces. Each stripe was 10 rows and then I switched off. The solid ones that I have done also look nice. I've done them in my niece and nephews favorite sport team colors as well as my two sons. I have a Raiders blanket in gray and black, a Colts blanket in royal blue and white, a Yankees blanket in navy and white, a Mizzou blanket in gold and black and am now working on a Longhorns blanket in orange and white. That will leave me two blankets to go...a red and white one for our school colors and a purple and white one for a friends school colors. As for the edging, I took the darker color of the two yarns and used it. The pattern calls for two rows of edging but I did four rows instead. Now, for the younger kids, this pattern works fine. The blanket will turn out more like a lapghan or throw. For the older kids, I made it a half size bigger by chaining 96 at the beginning and doing a total of 90 rows instead of 60. I think this is a great all around pattern and if you haven't given it a try, you should sometime. I plan to use these blankets at outdoor sporting events when the weather is cool or cold. The younger kids will be using them in their mom's vehicle during cold weather as well as at the football games. The blankets are easily folded up and stored in the vehicle. They also make good throws for the couch when you're curled up reading or watching TV. So...if you are looking for a project to work on sometime, this might be a good one to try. It works up really quickly.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our New Camper

Well, we've gone and done it. We've bought a camper. No more tent camping for us! We are thrilled to have the camper and can sleep up to 10 people in it. There are three queen bed "pop outs" as well as two double beds inside (the couch folds down and then the dining table and seats convert to a bed). It has so meany features and extra's that it would be hard to list them all but my daughter is thrilled with the bathroom...complete with shower and toliet. LOL So it looks like we'll be camping even more in the coming years than we have been doing. The three weeks we were gone in June ended up being very hot for us so we now have A/C and can stay out longer. We also have heat in the camper, so camping in the cooler months is possible too. I just wanted to share our excitment in our new purchase.

Bagpipe and Drum Corp

My daughter is in marching band and they performed in a nearby festival a couple of weeks ago and we had the good fortune of seeing and listening to a bagpipe and drum corp from a city about two hours away. I must say that they were quite enjoyable and I was thrilled to see that they traveled so far away to participate in a small festival. As you can see, they all had kilts on. Even the teens in the marching band enjoyed listening to them.

The Scrapbooking Class

I wanted to post a bit about the scrapbooking class that my daughter, my sister and I took a week ago yesterday. It was the first time we had attended a class like this and we are all three new to scrapbooking. The cost was $10 per person and the "class" was from 10 am to 6 pm and you could stay all day or just for a while. When we arrived, there were grab bags for everyone. Plus lots of tables in the classroom so each person could have their own table to work at. We all brought projects to show so that got us into the hourly drawing or give away of scrapbooking supplies straight off the store shelves. The whole idea of the day was to come and scrapbook and work on your projects without interruptions from the kids, the husband, etc.. But while you were there you could sit in on the demonstrations being given of new techniques and products. We got to practice using rub-on's (and keep the extra's) as well as use spray tint to color chipboard cutouts (and got to keep the ones we "made"). There were also a cricut set up for our use as well as lots of different die cuts, stamps, and other products for our use while we were there. There were also free refreshments. By the way, my daughter won a clear stamp set with the base. I won a set of ribbons and my sister won a set of brads. We ended up taking home more product from the winnings and grab bag than we spent on the class. Our grab bags had flower embellishments in them along with journal cards, tags, small pieces of paper, and much more.
I am really glad I went as I learned a lot from these ladies. There were a lot of great tips and ideas and I actually learned how to make my own scrapbook from start to finish. It's about an 8x8 size and I made the cover, put the pages together, punches the holes to bind it and then ran ribbon through to not only embellish it but hold it all together. I'm very proud of it. The book is titled "Give A Girl A Camera" and features 10 photos that my daughter took of herself in the car (with my digital camera) while I was driving us from one campsite to the next this summer during our big camping vacation in June. I guess when you're really bored, if you have a digital camera and are a 12 year old girl, you can easily amuse yourself. LOL
The next class is in October and this time it will cost $7 each since we attended the first class. If you don't miss a class, then you will continue to pay the $7. If you miss one, you will pay $10 for the next one you go to. I am looking forward to attending the next class and I can't wait to see what all new things we will learn.
I also wanted to share the best tip of the day (in my opinion). We live in a rural area so we all have hunters and fishermen in our family. So rather than putting these pictures in your yearly albums, this lady has one album dedicated to hunting and fishing photos. By using the smaller sized album she has spotlighted each photo. She has also used outdoor themed papers and embellishments so it retains a masculine feel to it. And it's easy for the guys to pull out when they feel like bragging.

My Current Crochet Project is.....

a crayon bag and and amulet bag. I am trying out two free patterns that I found on the internet and I'm liking the way they are turning out. It is unusual that I am working on two projects at once but I am missing a box of crayons at the moment in order to fit them in the crayon bag so I can continue on with the pattern. As for the amulet bag, I only need to piece it together and make the handle. Both of these will also have to have a button sewn on the front. Easy enough to do. But since I'm not feeling well, and haven't for the past month or more, I am very slow with my crochet projects this month. The amulet bag pattern can be found here . As for the crayon purse pattern, just google it and see what you come up with. I have the pattern printed out but did not get the address on it for some reason or another.

Child's Furry Purses

These are a couple of little furry purses I made. Of course, they are crochet. I held two colors of yarn and one furry yarn together to make this purse. It's quite sturdy. They are smaller in size and just right for a little girl. The colors didn't show up very well, but the one on the left is a mixture of teal, silver and blue and the one on the right is a mixture of hot pink, royal blue and other tidbits of color. I took a pattern that I was using for another item (a paperback tote) and altered it to make the purse. The paperback tote pattern is a free one off the internet. I liked the way the base was made so I just ran from there. These will also be gifts for my nieces. They are all going to get a purse or something from me this year. Can you tell?

Child's Retro Purse

This is another purse that I made. I think it has a very retro feel about it. I used a free pattern I found on the internet and then made a few changes to the fringe. I have found that the adults in the household love this purse where the younger family members think it's weird. LOL My daughter (aged 12) said that if I add beads to the fringe, maybe it will look better. What do you think? It's a gift for one of my nieces.

Child's Purse or Clutter Bag

This is a purse or clutter bag that I made from a free pattern off the internet. It uses an empty, clean, whipped topping tub as the base or bottom of the bag to make it more sturdy. I have made this for my 4 year old niece as I think she'll be able to put her crayons and things like that in it and not have them fall through. The top part of it will collapse down but I put it up for the photo. It was pretty quick and easy to make. The hardest part was punching the holes around the top edge of the container with a hole punch. I'm not as strong as I used to be. LOL

The Ugly Duckling Blanket

This is the Ugly Duckling Blanket I made and posted about earlier in my blog.

It was a basic pattern that I altered by doing stripes instead of making it a solid color. I also added a bit more of the border. And I made it longer than the original pattern called for. I held two different colors of yarn together for each stripe as I was crocheting. I think this has a very homespun look about it and I actually like it when I didn't think that I would.
Once again, a big thanks to the lady that told me about the Ugly Duckling Blanket and gave me the inspiration to do one of my own.....Elizabeth.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My house is full of ...

sick people! UGH! This has been going on for a couple of weeks now and it seems like it's never going to end. It started out with allergies and has gone on to bigger and badder things lately. I just finished a round of medication treating me for pneumonia and the day after I took my last pill, I started feeling even worse and came down with more symptoms. *sigh* I'm feeling worse again today after a couple of days of feeling a bit better. But, until today, only a few people at a time were sick in my they are ALL sick. I should buy stock in the cough drop, tissue, and allergy medicine companies as I would be making some big bucks right now. I hope everyone else is managing to stay well during this allergy time of year.

I'm so excited!!!

I'm going to my first scrapbooking class tomorrow and I signed my daughter and sister up to go as well. I can't wait to learn new techniques and see all the great ideas. I am not a scrapbooker per se, but a person that does altered books. I have started one scrapbook and that was my oldest son's senior year scrapbook last year. I haven't finished it up yet but I've made pretty good headway on it. I will let everyone know how the class goes and what types of new things I learned to do. I can't wait! I'm so excited! LOL

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crochet Corner

Let's see....I've been doing some crocheting whenever I can find a bit of time to think and relax. I've made several cute little purses for my niece Cleo as Christmas gifts (she's 4 and really into carrying a purse). The most unusual one I made started out as a pattern for something else and I ended up altering it a bit and adding fringe and it turned out fabulous. The base pattern I used for it can be found on the Lion Brand website . I also made one that uses an empty whipped topping container as the base for the purse to make it sturdier. It turned out pretty well. Here's the link for the pattern . I made a few changes in it to suit my needs but otherwise I followed the pattern exactly.

My current crochet project is called an "ugly duckling blanket". I cannot take the credit for it as an aquaintance is the one that shared the idea for this. It uses a basic pattern found here . At the other lady's suggestion, the blanket is made using scrap yarn which turns it into an "ugly duckling blanket". What I did differently is that I held two different colors of yarn together when crocheting and I switched off the colors every 6 rows to make it a striped blanket. I have a lot of yarn for which I have either one skein or less per color. So this is really using the yarn up and it's turning out quite interesting. I am also making the blanket longer by using more than the 57 rows that it calls for. I will also add more of a border to the blanket than what the pattern calls for. I started this blanket last night while I was talking to my sister Marie and within a couple of hours, I had it over half done. This will be another Christmas gift and I'm seriously considering making another one as well. Now, these are not big blankets, but small ones...suitable for a young child to use as a cover up while watching TV or something like that.

I have one more project in the works right now. It is for a crayon purse. The pattern came off the internet and I'm sure you could type in the words free crayon purse pattern on google or another search engine like that and find lots of patterns to choose from. This pattern uses very little yarn, so it's another way for me to use up all those odds and ends of yarn that are just lying around looking at me.

I'll let you know when I get these finished and if I can get some pictures loaded on here, I'll post them as well.

The Book Nook

I have finished reading the rest of the books that have been published in the series "The Ranger Apprentice". That means I have read books 2, 3, 4 and 5. I had thought that book 5 was the end of the series but I was wrong. With the way it ends, there is most definitely another book in the making. These books are definitely worth the read for anyone interested in rangers, fighters, wizards, and so on. They are a young adult series that I bought hoping to interest my sons in a bit of reading and I have enjoyed them immensely. This is my second time reading the series and I hope that others will enjoy these books as much as we have. They are a worthwhile addition to my library here at home.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Book Nook

The last book I read was "Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan" by John Flanagan and it's one I re-read and have in my personal library. In fact, I have the entire series consisting of five books. I really enjoyed this book and it's something that appeals to your pre-teen boys in particular. Here is the excerpt off the back of the book.
The Rangers with their shadowy ways, have always made him nervous. And now fifteen-year-old Will has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. But what he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom and who will fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time he will not be denied...."
If you are interested in this type of thing, you should give it a try. It's a very good read and I'm on Book 2 right now.

Newest Crochet Project

My newest crochet project was something I made from a pattern I had but altered it to fit the concept I was going for. It's a little purse for my niece Cleo aged 4 years old. Cleo is a purse carrying little girl and already has a nice collection of them. The pattern I made was based on the paperback tote I was previously making but I altered it to accomodate a larger width, added a third yarn (fun fur) and a cute handle to make it into a shoulder bag. I liked them so much that I made two of them (one in hot pink and one in a teal green, silver and blue pattern) and I've already had "offers" to purchase them but turned the offers down as they are for Cleo's Christmas gift. I find that whenever someone sees me working on something cute like this, I get a lot of my things bought and then I have nothing to give like I was planning. So I'm being more selective with what I do actually sell this year.
My next crochet project is going to be another purse for Cleo but I'm using an empty cool whip tub (not including the lid) as a base and crocheting my purse around it in a circular shape. I will let you know how it turns out.

Altered Book

I am really proud of myself. I have finished my first "Altered Book". My friend Trudi got me interested in this and I've been working over the summer on a book for a friend of mine and I have finally finished it. I am really proud of my efforts even if I'm not too thrilled about a few of the pages I did. My daughter has also done a book of her own and she is a real inspiration to me. I even borrowed a few of her techniques for some of my pages. She really thinks outside of the box with her ideas and I'm glad she has an artistic bone since I do not. I'm thinking of starting another book but I do not have a theme for it yet. I'm sure something will come to me. My daughter is almost finished with her first book and already has plans for 2 more. I think I'm jealous. LOL
For those of you that don't know what an altered book is, it's a form of scrapbooking that uses a premade book as the base for gluing your pages in. I have typed in "altered books" in my search bar and found a lot of inspiring pages to view as well as many beautiful creations by artists. It's a popular method of scrapbooking that I never knew existed.
I have been lucky recently in that a new source for scrapbooking supplies has opened in our small town. It's actually a quilt shop but they have a section for scrapbooking supplies as well. They have reasonable prices and my daughter and I have enjoyed looking at all the pretty things and have even bought some paper from them. We have also signed up for their monthly "scrapbooking class" and are looking forward to it as we are just beginners and there are many techniques that we would like to learn more about. I will keep you all posted about our future endeavors in the world of altered books and the new things we are learning and trying.

Rain, Rain And More Rain

As you can tell by the title, we are having a lot of rain around here. In fact, the rain is falling in the area of 5 or more inches at a time. It's putting a damper on a lot of things around here but more important, it's unusual for our area at this time of the year. We have many crops that are needing to be harvested but the farmer's are not able to get in to them, baseball games being cancelled because of wet fields, some road closings because water is over the road, yard work not getting done, and more importantly, my not being able to walk the track like I'm used to. Not that it's important, but I've come to really enjoy my walking time. Of course, the ground around here is already saturated from the past two years of excessive rain and flooding due to all the levy breaks so there just isn't anywhere for the water to go once it hits the ground. I think our climate is changing all over the world, but it's only my opinion. With all the rain, we've also had a rather mild summer with just a few weeks of really hot temperatures compared to the entire months of July and August being sweltering. Well, that's my report on the local area and our weird summer.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Going For A Walk

I wanted to talk about my struggle with losing weight. It doesn't seem like the title of this post has anything to do with this subject, but it really does. Back in May, I decided that I needed to find a way to exercise that I could do with my daughter who could also stand to lose a small bit of weight. Our school has a track and people are allowed to use it whenever it's empty so I thought we would go for a walk. We started out slow and it was a huge milestone for me to make the 4 laps around which was one mile. I became a walker after that. There are times when I walk every day and times when I walk a couple of times a week. I am currently walking 2 to 2 1/2 miles each time we go now. And it's become a family thing. My mom, two of my sisters, my daughter and sometimes my youngest son (almost 15 years old) joins me. My goal now is to be able to walk the 3 1/2 miles of the 5K Run/Walk held in our town the first Saturday of October. I am thrilled with the walking because I have developed more endurance for activities even though I have only lost "one" pound over the summer. So if you think you can't do something simple like walking to get some exercise, just come by my town each night around 7 pm and join me at the track. I'm living proof that you can fit in exercise one step at a time. My mom will walk a lap, sit out a lap, walk a lap, etc. the whole time we are there and she is disabled due to her hip and her ability to breathe. I figure if she can do it, then I definitely can!

Household Chore Day

I figured out last night that we have "nothing going on" today in regards to activities related to school, so we are going to have "household chore" day. This is not going over well with everyone, but hey...a Mom has to do what a Mom has to do in order to get the work done. In fact, I have been a bit overloaded the past two days and I fell behind on the laundry. So I can expect around 12 loads of laundry waiting on me when I venture down to the laundry area. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Plus, my husband cooked dinner last night and he said he would clean up afterwards, but didn't, so that means I will have to undo all the mess he made last night. Why do some men have to dirty every pot and pan in the house when cooking a simple meal like sausage and eggs with hash browns? It's something I have always wondered about. The house could use a simple de-cluttering after a week of being busy so once I put everyone on it, it should be done in no time at all. We had rain again so we won't be able to get the yard mowed as planned so the boy's are really lucking out on that one. Wish me luck with getting everyone motivated today....I will need it. LOL

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm In The Mood For ...

Christmas! I am working on a variety of crafts that I will be giving as gifts to my family and friends this year. I have started my annual "idea list" on my computer and when I hear someone say something that they are interested in or would like to get as a gift, then I add it to my list for future reference. I've even found myself thinking about what holiday decorations we have and where they will go in the house and whether or not I need to replace lights. I am putting together a list of what goodies I would like to possibly bake as well as what we may or may not have for Christmas dinner. We have taken to holding a family meeting and having a vote on what is being served. So it's not always the traditional turkey or ham. When you think about it, we have several months until Christmas arrives, but for some of us, that's not too far away. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I love the whole spirit of the season thing and I just can't get enough of it and I find myself looking forward to it months in advance.

I thought I would talk about a couple of things I am "making" as gifts. First, I am learning how to scrapbook and/or journal. So I'm filling these little books I found at a thrift store with pages that I am making out of scrapbooking supplies. These pages usually have a special quote on them as well as a photo or image and then I'm decorating it up pretty. I want these books to mean something special to the person I'm giving it to, so I try my very best to make it apply to our relationship or their life. It's been a lot of fun looking through photos to find something to fit a page and I've had an interesting time finding suitable quotes on the internet. My friend Trudi taught me how to do this and I thank her bunches for the idea and inspiration.

The second thing I'm making are these little "booklets" for my sister's, niece and daughter. I put the information into page protectors and then those go into 3 ring binders that I have purchased. An example is the one I'm putting together for my niece. It contains simple yet cool instructions for making a variety of jewelry and other accessories using easily found materials. I will give her this booklet along with some craft supplies. I think it's something she will really enjoy. Another booklet is for my sister that is a bartender. Her booklet contains a variety of little known drink recipes. I will add some bartending towels or shot and jigger glasses to it for her gift.

I will add one last craft to this post. It's my own "primitive family portraits" and I'm making one for my mom that is of all of us kids. It's done in very basic needlepoint on muslin and then framed. My kids call these my "stick figure" drawings and that's basically what they look like. But they are quite cute and of course, very original.

Just so you know, there are 125 days left until Christmas! Happy Holiday Planning Everyone! I'm off to search some more for that perfect ornament to craft.

The Book Nook

I'm into the whole "Vampire, Werewolf, Witches, Angels, Fairy's, etc." scene right now, so it only goes to follow that the last two books I read revolved around these subjects. I'm also one who buys a lot of books for her own library here at home and I buy both new and used books. My teens and I read quite a bit and we share a similar taste in what we like to read. I'm really big on starting a series and then collecting all of the books, so it goes to say that if I can find a book that is actually a collection of books 1 and 2 in a series, then I buy it. It not only saves me money, but I get to read the first two books at the same time. That's what the last two books I read were....collections of either the first 2 or first 3 books in a series. These books were:
"Wicked" by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie containing the books "Witch" and "Curse"
"Thirst - Human Urges, Fatal Consequences. No. 1" by Christopher Pike containing the books "The Last Vampire", "Black Blood", and "Red Dice"

Over the summer, I have to say that I have read a lot of books and the ones that really stand out to me are:
The Harry Potter Series - I have always wanted to read these books but never got around to it. I loved them!
The Vampire Academy Series
The House of Night Series
I've also read several other books, but these are the ones that I enjoyed the most and can think of at this moment.


The pears are starting to fall off our tree. That means it's time to start preserving them. Our favorite way to use the pears is in Pear Honey. This is the recipe I use:

3 lbs fresh pears, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a 6 quart stainless steel kettle combine all ingredients.
Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally.
Simmer 40 minutes.
Spoon into sterile jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.
Wipe jar rims, adjust lids.
Process in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Makes 7 half pints.

*This is not my own original recipe but one I found and have used off of the Recipezarr website. The recipe can be found here .

We enjoy this recipe a lot and is the best method for us to use up all the pears. Of course, we always have extra to share and swap with our friends and neighbors.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crochet Project - paperback tote

My current crochet project is a paperback tote. The pattern can be found here . It's a cute pattern and it works up easily. I'm making some of these as Christmas gifts for my sister's. They all love to read. I will post a picture of my completed project as soon as I get them done.

Adventures in Meal Planning

As some of my friends know, I have taken a different approach this month to feeding my family. I'm a late bloomer in doing some of the things that many women do, but I've taken a lot of advice to heart and started planning out my meals. I do this in a two week block. It has saved me both time and money. Both are important to me, but saving money is a really big incentive in itself. This month alone, I cut our food budget from almost $1200 (in July) to around $600 this month. Included in my food budget is also dog food for our dogs plus toliet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, etc.. I am feeding my family of five plus my sister and her son. So I think I'm doing pretty well this month.

I am including a sample of this week's menu for those that might be interested.
Sunday - turkey, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, noodles, stuffing, and 24 hr. salad
Monday - "salad night" of chef salads
Tuesday - beef hot dogs, chips (This meal was requested by the kids)
Wednesday - "leftover night" of hot turkey sandwiches served with mashed potatoes and gravy and side dishes of noodles, salad, and stuffing
Thursday - sloppy joes, cole slaw, brownies for dessert
Friday - "breakfast for dinner" night of eggs, sausage links, and hashbrowns with onions
Saturday - hot ham and cheese sandwiches, cole slaw, chips for those that detest cole slaw

I have to say that it's been a week of several sandwiches and I try not to do that very often, but my kids lead a very busy schedule and sometimes that is all we have time for. Plus, sandwiches are very portable and can be eaten on the run when necessary. I've even put my sloppy joe mix in a thermos type container and taken it with us for dinner in the past. So I say, whatever works, works.

As for the menu, I have also let every person in the house suggest meal ideas as well as choose a meal each week. That way everyone has something that they like fairly often. So far, it's working out great for us all.

I will try to post each week's menu for anyone that is interested. And yes, I do shop the sale ads whenever possible to save even more on the groceries.

School Is Back In Session

Today marked the second day of school in our household. There is one in college, one in high school, one in junior high, and one in elementary (my nephew that lives with us) we are covering all the bases. Homework was light yesterday but today it has settled in with full force. I have been in hot demand for question answering for an hour now and it hasn't let up yet. But that's ok. I'm here to help however I can. At least everyone is at the same place...the dining room it makes for easy access to each of them when they holler my name.

With the start of school, activities and sports have also began. Today was activity day at school and that's where all the kids make the rounds for class meetings and attend the meetings of the organizations they are involved in. Everyone has lots of information for me on dues, activities, uniform/clothing requirements, and so on. Plus one of the boys has been attending baseball practice for several weeks now and his first game is coming up quickly. It is never dull around here, that's for sure.

After school today, one of the organizations held an Ice Cream Social as a "getting to know you" activity to recruit new members. My jr. high and high school kids attended this. It's a fun activity for the kids and they seem to like it.

One of the things I do not like about going back to school is that my child in jr. high (my only girl) has severe food allergies and has to carry her lunch each and every day. She hates doing this and she's also a picky eater, so it's a struggle to put together a well-balanced lunch for her that she will eat. Plus, being a young girl that's fashion conscious, she refuses to carry anything that even resembles your average looking lunch box. We solved the lunch box problem by purchasing a hip new lunch carrier at Wal-Mart that is soft-sided and looks like a purse. When it's empty you can fold it up into a fairly small size and stuff in it your backpack. It's a "byo" lunch bag.

So...I think that's about it concerning the first couple of days of school. Happy "Back To School" time everyone!