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!