Vampires were sexy way before Gary Oldman, Twilight, and True Blood. My apologies to the non-sexies: Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Blacula, the cast of Salem's Lot (the creepiest vampire movie ever made - especially when you are 8), Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and most specifically Nosferatu.
If you haven't seen it, record it (it's on AMC on Saturday at 2:45 AM): Frank Langella. Dracula. 1979. Awesome music. And guess what - he didn't wear pretend fangs. Apparently Frank has the real thing, baby. Check out his crazy flicking eyes.
The crayons and stapler are out. The super thickly iced and sprinkled cookie is in hand. The jitters are gone. A wink and a thumb's up proves that we whipped the swine flu out of the little boy. See his kissing spot on his left cheek? I can't resist.
Aidan and I finally did something fun today! I knew he was feeling better because he did something besides sit on the couch or be a touch crazy.
Last night we made cookie cutouts and today we iced them. Too many witches hats and not enough pumpkin faces. I wasn't nuts about the cookie recipe I used but I was too lazy to look in my recipe bin (yes, sadly I have a bin) to look up a tried and true one. However, I did like the icing recipe so I thought I would share.
Look who same to help eat the cookies. Why its Mucha!
White and Chocolate Icing for Sugar Cookies
This icing gives a nice glossy sheen when dry, sort of like a royal icing without the fuss or salmonella.
The recipe called for a tablespoon of vanilla. Hey, if you want brown icing, that will be just fine. I halved the vanilla and still had brown icing. If you want white icing, either don't use any extract or use a little almond or lemon.
Also, I have a little tip for using butter. If you forget to soften your butter as I often do, just beat the heck out of it in the mixer while its on its own. Then add your sugar to cream it. Do not use the microwave to soften it.
Want to color your icing black? Use chocolate icing and then add your black coloring.
I enjoy gel coloring.
White Butter Icing for Sugar Cookies
modified from All Recipes
3 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon lemon or almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon milk
Cream butter in your mixer. Add extract (optional). Alternately add confectioner's sugar and milk. Add more milk if you want a little thinner icing. Divide into smaller containers and add coloring. Mix with a spoon.
Chocolate Butter Icing for Sugar Cookies
modified from All Recipes
3 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1-2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 tablespoon milk
Cream butter in your mixer. Add extract (optional). Add baking cocoa to confectioner's sugar. Alternately add confectioner's sugar and milk. Add more milk if you want a little thinner icing. Divide into smaller containers and add coloring. Mix with a spoon.
Ah, the days of freezepops, cannons, tomatoes, Betsy's garage, sunshine, Jeff's garden wall, marigolds, and sunflowers. I wasn't even thinking ahead to the day I would be writing a letter to Tamiflu. No - it isn't a girl with a bad name. It is that wonderful medication that, when taken within the first 48 hours, stops the flu virus from replicating.
Thank you for quite possibly saving Aidan's life or at least a hospitalization. Thank you for stopping the H1N1 virus from replicating. Thank you for easing my worries. However, you have been a bit rude of a houseguest. Let me point these things out for you before I throw away your last pill with Aidan's pediatrician's permission.
While I appreciate what you have done for us, please forgive me for saying that I hope to never see you again.
Entered this post on Scribbit's November Write-Away Contest.
All this weaving has me excited! When I was in third grade, my art teacher taught us how to make a simple loom with drinking straws and yarn. I haven't tried the technique since then and I certainly haven't mastered it but I did come up with this small piece.
I used 5 drinking straws and warped them with cotton cable cord (a cotton twine). I then started weaving in and out a 1" fabric strip. It is mostly a test piece so when I felt comfortable with the length, I pushed it off the straws and knotted the ends. I love it!
I am not sure what to do with it, though - should I make it a bracelet? If so, what would I attach it to? It is about belt-buckle size. I do not wear belts because as far as I know, it is not attractive to belt a donut.
Oh how I love my new loom from CraftSanity. Jennifer from CraftSanity decided to make her own wooden looms and they are lovely!
I must confess I bought a coaster-sized loom from the CraftSanity shop so Aidan could make coasters for Christmas gifts. However, weaving with fabric is a little too complicated for him (and for me at first) and I am now hogging the loom. These wooden looms are much better than the metal and plastic ones your remember from your childhood.
This particular coaster is warped with muslin and woven with a garage sale fabric. I think using a woven fabric (no wrong side) might have a better effect but I really love this one all the same.
All sizes of looms will be available in her shop next week including a small ornament size, coaster, pot holder, placemat and rug-sized ones! I would love to buy one of the larger ones. Jennifer also includes instructions on how to weave with loopers or fabric and has a video how-to on her blog.
Not every Martha Stewart craft goes up in flames. Perhaps that is because this was created by Robert Mahar of mahardrygoods.com as linked to by marthastewart.com. Yeah, I still watch the Martha show with Aidan even after being seriously dissed by her craft department because of smoking hand warmers.
Whew - that paragraph was full of links.
Anyway, Aidan and I were watching Martha's show and saw them demonstrate making this sock skeleton. We loved him! Despite his sour looking face, he was actually easy to make. The only oops I had was that I bought socks with a nice yellow stripe along the toe. I'm pretty sure I specifically looked for socks without any golden toes but I must have spaced out. So I cut off the toe and made a little rounder head.
Look how lovely our tree is in the background! I'll be raking that loveliness come next weekend. Then we can depend on a barren tree for months and months and months.
With Love, Wisconsin
Children's Hospital called this morning to confirm what we figured out at our emergency room visit last night - Aidan has the H1N1 virus. This is despite my very best efforts. He even had the vaccine 9 days ago. His doctor's office - more specifically, his nurse Tracy - was kind enough to hear a mother's fright that her son with a heart condition needed to be vaccinated and they gave him the single dose they had left from the doses they used to vaccinate their staff.
I'm going to say that I feel in my heart that the dose he got has permitted him to be tolerating this virus better than he would have without the vaccine. It could very well have saved his life. We feel lucky if this is as bad as it is going to get.
I have many anxieties related to Aidan and his health and this is like a nightmare come true. But I feel so positive because while Jeff and I didn't have a fit night of sleeping, Aidan slept very sound. The vaccination and the Tamiflu are doing their best to help him fight this virus.
So Aidan is home with me this week. I hope to have some fun times with him so that he doesn't know he is missing his holiday party. I really hope that Jeff and I don't get sick but we are pretty much sitting ducks.
On Friday morning, I made my way through the headlines of our local newspaper and saw that a Wisconsin man had been killed in a plane crash in Tennessee. Why I clicked on that headline to read more, I don't know. When I did, I was struck that the Wisconsin man killed was someone I have known since I was a kid and was best friends with in my late teens to early twenties.
Adam was learning how to pilot a plane so he could be a missionary in Africa. He and his wife sold most of their belongings and were preparing for a three-year journey. I only met Adam's wife once and didn't even know he had children. I haven't seen him in 10 years so I'm going through some strange emotions of mourning for a friend that I haven't had in a long time. Our friendship waned before he met his wife-to-be.
I don't necessarily have the right to grieve and I don't want the burden. But I can't stop thinking about Adam and how his parents, siblings, wife and children must feel. It was a terrible crash. Memories of church studies, our time together the summer after high school, time at college, letters and phone calls when he was in the Navy, one-sided unrequited love and working together have been trickling through my mind. His gentle countenance and acerbic humor stand-out.
Adam and I enjoyed a lot of the same music and movies. My brother reminded me of the time we went ice skating - Adam's first (and probably last) time. He broke his ankle within 30 seconds. Adam was a romantic. I'm sure the times that he watched When Harry Met Sally numbered in the dozens. He expressed his interest in being a pilot to me so I bought him Wind, Sand, Stars by Antoine de Saint Exupery, the aviator that wrote The Little Prince.
However, I think a lot of young adults aren't true to who they are to become and I didn't know Adam as a true grown-up. I didn't know him as a husband or father. I didn't know him to be so brave. He only lived 38 years but it sounds to me that in the last 10, he really lived. So I will finish this entry with a quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery that seems to sum up the Adam I didn't know:
The notion of looking on at life has always been hateful to me. What am I if I am not a participant? In order to be, I must participate.
I don't think I quite have this Amigurumi thing down yet. Boo is a little big and overstuffed. However, Aidan doesn't care and loves him. He was fun and quick to whip up and loves parsley.
Pattern is here at Lion's Brand. You'll need a login to view it. Search for Genie the Ghost.
Isn't this pretty? It doesn't look too much like the Lily pattern. I didn't do the last step and I didn't change yarns. However, I still like it! I like it so much that it seems like a waste to clean my dishes with it.
Oh, just another mundane conversation in the Sassy household with Aidan making all the plans:
Inspired by this craftbits post, I cut apples in half, squirted acrylic paint on a paper plate, used a foam brush to put the paint on the apple and pressed the apple onto the paper. No Honeycrisps were harmed in this project. Just some Paula Reds. I tried to avoid the obituaries. That would work better for a Halloween bunting.
I then took the folded paper and placed it over some cotton cording and sewed the newspaper around the cording.
This may not last forever but it was fun to make and it will be fun until I can get my spooky stuff up.
My Paper Crane posted her awesome crepe paper garlands yesterday. I just happen to have a few rolls in the house so I whipped up an orange and yellow one last night. It is a matter of stitching a line through the center and gently pushing the crepe paper as you sew to make a ruffle.
Visit My Paper Crane for better pictures and super easy instructions.
This is the most delicious soup I have ever had. It is even better the second day. I will try to add a picture soon. We've had a few blustery days here in Wisconsin and this soup will warm you right up! I used lovage and herbs from my garden and it felt so good to do so!
Sassy Priscilla's Excellent Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
3 Boneless, Skinless
6-7 cups of water
Penzey's Chicken Soup Base (or your favorite soup base)
2 whole carrots, pealed and chopped into rounds
Any other vegetable you enjoy
Handful of fresh chopped Lovage or chopped celery
*Sprigs of thyme, sage, and oregano or marjoram
*2 teaspoons ground ginger
Ground pepper to taste
Egg noodles (homemade - easier than you think and see recipe below, or packaged)
*If you don't have fresh herbs, use poultry seasoning instead of asterisked ingredients
Add everything but the noodles to your crockpot and set it to cook on low. The chicken should be cooked in 5-7 hours. When the chicken is cooked, take two forks and shred the chicken.
Cook your egg noodles separately and add to your crockpot chicken soup. Enjoy with some Beer Batter Bread or another crusty bread. It is an awesome dinner on a blustery day.
from All Recipes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
The photo makes it look wonkier than it really is. As you might be able to tell, I need a walking foot and I also need to learn how to quilt. However, I thought this turned out kind of cute.
My inspiration was from Patchwork Style : 35 Simple Projects for a Cozy and Colorful Life. I picked this book up from the library and while pretty to look at it, I didn't think the patterns for the hot pads were that helpful.
I used linen, some vintage fabric, fabric I can't remember what it is, and awesome Amy Schimler owl fabric. I used three layers of batting. The outside batting is the Insul-Bright used with the shiny side facing out and on both sides. The middle is a layer of cotton batting but cotton/poly would be fine since the Insul-Bright is cotton/poly and mylar.
It wasn't difficult to sew through the layers or even to turn the fabric but my lack of a walking foot made things shift a little and the top of the pad (to the left of the hang tag in the first picture) is a little bumpy. The walking foot would have been nice for the top-stitching (see the shifting stripes in first photo). Finishing with bias around the holder might give a more polished look.
I loved making the patchwork pieces. There wasn't a rhyme or reason. I cut the linen in 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 squares and made the patchwork pieces however I felt like it. Then I randomly attached them to the linen and when it came time to finish, recut my new squares to 9 1/2 x 9 1/2.
I can't wait to make more and may come up with a tutorial. Don't hold your breath.
Who knew Aidan would be quite the salesman? I guess new Legos were at stake. It doesn't hurt that his freckles are adorable and he NEVER GAVE UP. This picture sums up his tenacity for the sale. He brought people in like a carnival barker.
His first customer got about 1/4" of lemonade. That really cracked the guy up and he refused any more. 50 plus glasses later (seriously), we were out of cups and lemonade so we called it quits. At 25 cents a glass, the profit wasn't huge but his lesson was learned. New Legos were purchased today along with a small gift for a boy at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin (a tradition we started when he started using his money to buy his own toys).
We fared as well at our yard sale. We sold some tough things (Aidan's crib and baby toys, my old sewing machine). But it feels good to clear up some space and the extra money will really help.
I'd like to throw out a big thanks to all the people that kindly stopped by to buy a glass of lemonade. They didn't have to do it and some bought more than one glass and some gave tips. It made a little boy's day.
I feel like I could end it at that sentence and all moms out there will know what I am feeling right now.
I have had the privilege of being a full-time mom to Aidan. We have hardly been separated - he only went to nursery school for four hours a week when he was 4 and half-day kindergarten last year. So this separation is very hard.
I knew I would dread this day after I first met him. All summer, I have had September 1st nagging at me. But lucky me, Aidan snuggled into bed with us this morning and told me he wanted to snuggle with me a little longer today because he was going to go to school full-day and was going to miss me. Even luckier, I don't think he will. He has so much to look forward to and I know he'll have a blast. But he said the right thing and as I held him closer, I knew he would be ok.
I'll be ok, too. I've spent quite a bit of time planning what I'm going to do during the school hours. My business will start back up again and I can't wait to start sewing on a regular basis. I can garden. I had to quit the gym temporarily but I can work out from home. But to do all these things without Aidan's sweet voice in the background breaks my heart.
There were some good photos to choose from but my love for The Godfather made this one the best (but what is up with all the pictures of #4 in a dress?). This year differs for us Packer fans quite a bit. Last year we were scorned and confused. This year we are pretty ticked.
He who shall not be named's true colors are wide open for everyone to see and now they are hued in purple. I look forward to October and November. He's all yours, Vikings. Enjoy the drama.
I'd like to give a shout out to Millard and Marilyn. They are the fine neighbors that gave us tickets two years ago to see a Packers pre-game. They did it again but they gave us 3 tickets and we made a family adventure out of it and had a great time this past weekend with an overnight stay and a trip to the darling Bay Beach (what other amusement park can you go to where the rides are a quarter or fifty-cents?). Our family was in dire need of a pick-me-up (more on that later) and this gave us a respite from some of the stress. It was a true treat. Aidan was a hoot at the Packer game and lasted three quarters. He was full of the sillies and his freckled face was darling in amidst the Green and Gold. Plus, the Packers won and look good!
Photo credit: Dave - Milwaukee
The day the world waited for finally came. Aidan turned 6. Did you feel the earth move and hear the angels sing? What about the fireworks?
We had a Lego themed birthday this year. Since it is nearly impossible to find Lego fabric, Aidan and I brought some of his Legos to the quilting shop to pick out matching fabric.
I'll post more about the party boy in the next couple days with promises of vomiting and head-thunking. You would think he turned 21 instead of 6...
Pretty cheeky for a kid whose 6th birthday is in 27 hours. Yes, we are counting in hours now. We have been counting down for 30 days. Aidan says, "15 days until my birthday!" I say "15 more days of sassiness!" Yesterday he suggested that we have fireworks for his birthday. You know, the kind they have at parks for the 4th of July... I kid not when I mention his sassiness. He is now working to earn back his birthday parties that were taken away. Last year my threat was to take away his super powers. That worked and still kills me that he believed it.
May has been a very long month. I was sick for 3 weeks with the Parvo virus. I thought I had the flu and then I figured I had some rare bone disease with only hours to live. Turns out I was suffering Rheumatoid Arthritis-like symptoms that makes me feel very sad for my elders. I'm getting caught up on business and housework and all the other crud I let go of while I wallowed in self-pity and could hardly move.
Yesterday I sewed a couple applique t-shirts to get ready for Aidan's birthday. Today I cut out a Spacebot pattern for a sweet present and tonight I intend to make my annual birthday bunting for him. I just finished making M&M cookies for school treats. Tomorrow I'm making Prince Cupcakes for the resident prince. I'll be bringing them to a friend's house on Saturday who is graciously hosting a small birthday party for him. In fact, I don't have to host any type of birthday party as my mom and dad are hosting his family birthday party!
Aidan is doing great! He just had his cardiologist check-up and walked on the treadmill. He walked 3 minutes longer than he did a year ago. As usual, he charmed everyone. Dr. Frommelt says he is one of her more active patients! He may need to get his fenestration closed but there is now rush. If we see him tire more frequently, then we shall proceed with it.
Aidan loves math, science, art, Legos, Lego video games, books, his daddy, his grandma, Junie B. Jones, swimming lessons, digging in dirt, baseball, talking, pushing his boundaries, every single toy he has ever owned and can't bear to part with, Star Wars, and asking questions. He loves to try new food. He likes to help his daddy. He loves to play fetch with Mucha. He loves to traipse around in flip-flops. He has freckles. He is built like his daddy and has his hair and skin coloring but looks like me. He loves to snuggle and crawls into bed with me in the morning which is fun except for the mornings where he moves NON STOP. He has lost 2 teeth. He is a smart-aleck. He argues very well. He is thoughtful, sweet, silly, smart, sassy, goofy, crafty, loving, precious and just plain fun. See Aidan - I remember some things!
This week also marks Jeff's and my 8th anniversary. I have an awesome husband, a healthy boy, great family and friends, my health, and a wonderful house and home. What more could a gal want besides tickets to Broadway?
Good heavens. How can I plan a trip to New York? Who can pay for it? How will I get tickets? What will I wear? Should I change my last name to Broccoli? How do I get backstage? Roses or lilies? Swoon.
Oh yeah, Wolverine, the man who wrongly beat out Daniel Craig as sexiest man alive, will also be there.
Remember this little critter? Well almost exactly 8 months later, she decided to take her sweet time and reveal her wings. Or should I say wing? She looks a little lopsided. But she is glorious and it is a remarkable feat of nature.
We kept her in a butterfly tent in our protective back porch over the fall and winter and much of spring. Over the last few weeks, I kept checking to see if she was ready - I would have felt terrible if she emerged only to starve. I lifted the leaf she was under and removed half of her cocoon. I was very worried that I killed her but her chrysalis looked shiny and healthy and I felt sure she was still alive.
I finally put her butterfly tent outside with the zipper open so that is she did emerge, she would not be stuck. Yesterday I checked on her and couldn't find her chrysalis. Upon further inspection, I found her at the top of the butterfly tent. I was so happy! Ask Betsy - I squealed with glee.
Today I found her the same position. Worried that she was with us for the long haul, I did a little flick and was able to get her onto the grass. A trip to school to pick up Aidan and she had found her wings.
Yay for mother nature.
I'm an American Idol fan. I am not embarrassed to admit it. I was hyped up when I saw that there was a contestant from Milwaukee that was getting a lot of attention from the auditions on. I told Jeff that if Danny Gokey made it to the top 3, I was headed to the parade that Milwaukee would give him.
So Danny made it into the top 3 and came to town on Friday for Gokey Day. Our local Fox news network freaked out and entire broadcasts were devoted to this event. You would think that the Packers were in town or something. Oh yeah, they were in town and only got an inch of coverage because they were there to support DANNY GOKEY!!!!! You can see a couple of the Pack in the background of this picture, actually.
One of the things Danny was going to do was sing at the Summerfest grounds (Milwaukee has the world's largest music festival every late June/early July) which I dubbed Gokeyfest (at these grounds, Milwaukee also has several ethinic festivals during our brief summer such as Germanfest, Irishfest, Polishfest, etc). I decided I was going to take Aidan down. Then I chickened out and became depressed. Too much traffic. Too big of a crown for Aidan. No one wanted to come with us - not my mom, my sisters, nephews, or Jeff.
So I called Jeff a little sad. 20 minutes later he called me and said he was heading home and we headed downtown. It was crowded and a little warm in the sun. It was a little long for a 5-year-old. But it was totally worth the fun and hype! The Packers were there (where were you Aaron Rodgers?). Rick Springfield was there (in town to give a concert). Marvin Hamlisch was there (new Milwaukee Pops conductor). Tons of screaming girls holding Go Go Gokey signs adorned with glasses were there. Danny Gokey was there and performed great. It was a blast!
Though he may not win (is Adam a shoe-in?), he is a classy, talented guy. He is even assured by the director of Summerfest to have a headlining show next year at Summerfest. All this so I could be one degree separation from Simon Cowell.
Once again I am in one of those funks. When I saw this creature in the yard, I knew I had to have a picture as I felt a kindred spirit.
I have been enjoying so much - baking, gardening, yoga, spring. But I'm kind of over the Internet. I don't feel like emailing, blogging, or reading blogs. I guess I don't feel like sharing. But here I am sharing...
So I am kind of non-posting posting here on my blog. I would rather be planting some overdue marigold seeds so that is what I am off to do.
Are your hard-boiled egg yolks too green? Well, they are overcooked. How about a dark yellow? Then they are undercooked. Want to do it perfect? It is perfectly easy.
I'm pretty sure I learned this from Southern Living so don't be thinking I'm all genius.
How to Perfectly Hard Boil an Egg*
*My apologies to Scott in case you are a vegan
Meet Wool Flower Heart Daniel Craig Daniel. To be fair, I did not name him. Also, so you don't think my Daniel Craig love has gone too far--Aidan's middle names are Daniel Craig after uncles and his grandfather. AND I never heard of the stud actor Daniel Craig until years after Aidan was born. So there.
You may notice a few things different about Wool Flower Heart Daniel Craig Daniel. First of all, his head is on upside down. I sewed his vintage button eyes on before placing his head on his body (button eyes are a change from the pattern). I did this twice and removed them once only to do it again. I didn't notice the second time until the cockeyed ears were on so I just left it. And you know what? I love it. He looks a little more sheep to me than cow.
What killed me about his pattern was that his coat is removable (it has a zipper) so that you can shear the sheep. Once I found that out, I had to have the pattern. Wool Flower Heart Daniel Craig Daniel's coat is made from chenille and so is his head. I'm not sure about the name of his body and hoof fabric but I got it at Patched Works in Elm Grove.
The best part of the experience (outside of the name) was just how thrilled Aidan was with him. He loves him so much. I love sewing for him. It is one of the best things in my life.
First blogged about here.
I made my favorite recipes for scones for our St. Patrick's Day celebration. I don't know if scones are Irish fare but I don't care! I got this recipe last year from the Elmwood Inn website. Everyone really enjoys them and they can be made without sugar for those who would prefer a recipe without. My notes are in brackets.
Elmwood Inn Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted cold butter
1/2 cup currants or white raisins [1 cup Hershey's Cinnamon Chips]
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cream
1 tablespoon [sugar pearls]
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and soda. With a pastry blender, cut in butter, mixing it until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in currants [cinnamon chips].
Whisk buttermilk and egg together, then add to flour mixture. Stir together until a soft ball of dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently, turning five or six times.
Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thickness. Using a heart-shaped [clover] cookie cutter, cut scones out and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with cream and sprinkle with sugar [sugar pearls - I sometimes use cinnamon and sugar].
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. Serve warm with lemon curd, clotted cream, or preserves. Makes one dozen scones.
Time Saving Hint: Raw scones may be frozen and then baked fresh as you need them.
See my Scones photo album for more photos including who helped, who didn't and a surprise guest!
First blogged about here.
Doesn't this look fabulous? It was! Very dense and moist with a great crust. This recipe is from A Little Irish Cookbook from Appletree Press. This recipe is a keeper! I've added my comments with brackets.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar (optional) [not optional]
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk [buttermilk]
Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Scoop up handfuls and allow to drop back into the bowl to aerate the mixture. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough [I used about 1 3/4 cups]. Now work quickly as the buttermilk and soda are already reacting. Knead the dough lightly - too much handling will toughen it, while too little means it won't rise properly.
Form a round loaf about as thick as your fist [if your fist is as big as the jolly green giants--this was about the size of 4 of my fists]. Place it on a lightly-floured baking sheet and cut a cross in the top with a floured knife. Put at once to bake near the top of a pre-heated oven, 450°F, for 30-45 minutes [30 minutes]. When baked, the loaf will sound hollow when rapped on the bottom with your knuckles. Wrap immediately in a clean tea-towel to stop the crust hardening too much.
The leprechaun trap worked in the sense that he dropped some of his gold but we didn't nab him. In fact, he played a trick and changed his gold into gold foil wrapped chocolate!
Sorry about the lousy picture. It really is a rainy day so that accounts for the lousiness of it. However, I am not unhappy to have a rainy day. It isn't a snowy, thank goodness, and I can't help but love that it is washing away residual snow, salt, and grime and maybe Spring really is coming. Spring is my very favorite time of year! So much hope, such vivid colors, fresh smells, tulips, daffodils, robins...
So on a rainy, cold Wisconsin day, what could be better than a warm breakfast? With a little help from Midwest Living's Mix and Match Muffin recipe, I came up with this concoction. If you don't have whole wheat flour, don't sweat it. Just use 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour. Don't want oatmeal? Just use 2 cups all purpose flour. Buttermilk not in your kitchen? Just substitute an equal amount of milk. Have fun making muffins to suit your taste!
The recipe is how I made it but In brackets, I have put possible substitutions.
Today I made my little cowboy a mail carrier bag. We went to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum last month and Aidan got a kick out of mail sorting and delivering.
For the last month, I've been saving return envelopes I've received in the mail for us to repurpose. I also spent a little time researching how to make this bag. I finally found a tutorial that I based my bag creation on at Craftster. I used fabric from my stash - I think it is Robert Kaufman and it is a lightweight corduroy.
I took pictures and notes along the way as well as measurements for this particular bag. If anyone is interested in a tutorial, please let me know and I'll put one up. This was fun and sewed up quick once I had the measurements.
I swear I don't keep track of his birthday. Really!!! This time, I was reminded by Carmen. Carmen is a DC fan that thinks I have a direct line to Daniel. Oh Carmen, I really understand your need to connect to Daniel. I also really wish I could get your birthday greeting through personally.
Anyway, here is Daniel looking almost like he did the day he was born. I know I've used the mankini picture before but what a picture!
Looking for a digital or analog recording studio in the Milwaukee area? Visit Magnetic Sound. Magnetic Sound is a full service analog and digital recording service in Milwaukee located within National Recording - The Record Lab Studio. In an era when MP3's are considered good quality and "basement studios" are on every block, Magnetic Sound is dedicated to high quality sound recordings.
Tom Gorichanaz started Magnetic Sound and has over ten years of studio experience and fifteen years experience playing guitar in bands. Tom's taste in music is as eclectic as the artists he works with.
Tom's partner, Danny Zelonky of National Recording, has over 30 years of professional experience as an artist and engineer worldwide. He also has a truly amazing collection of vintage analog keyboards and synthesizers. For this reason, the studio is highly sought after by people who want the "real thing" and not a software copy. In fact, many of his keys were used by Native Instruments Co. to model their digital synths from! Danny also founded Cosmo Elliptic, his independent record label. Cosmo Elliptic recently signed a distribution deal for 40 online digital music sites.
Whether you are a band or solo artist, Magnetic Sound will help you to realize your vision of your music. A comfortable setting with a lot of cool vibe is what they are about. Check their website for updates, current and past projects, and to make an appointment to see the studio.
My good friend, Monica, asked me if I could join her as she wanted a female companion along with her husband to help her through labor and delivery. Me?! What a thrill, an honor and I am so glad it worked out that I could be there.
When I was pregnant with Aidan, I developed pre-eclampsia. At 37 weeks, I went into the hospital to be induced. It took 2 days to get my cervix to make any sort of movement and I was sick on magnesium throughout. The magnesium and some other drug I can't remember also made me groggy and when my contractions came, I didn't know how to cope. I was given an epidural but it didn't take. Luckily for me, it went fast. In fact, my mom sent Jeff home to get some rest when they started the pitocin and we had to get him back in. Sadly, Aidan had the cord wrapped around his neck and a team from the NICU was present due to his hypoplastic right heart diagnosis in utero. Though they let me kiss Aidan, he was whisked away to the NICU. I could never nurse him and instead pumped and fed him for over a year.
I have always been a little saddened by Aidan's birth story - as he may likely be my only child, it has made me sad that his birth didn't have a little more normalcy. I regretted that I wasn't really alert until it was time to push. I was proud that I listened to my body and was able to tell my nurse I needed to push and fortunate that I didn't have a c-section but I felt as if I didn't remember my story. I used to watch A Baby Story or whatever the name of that show is on Lifetime a lot so I could try to pick out the details.
Monica's baby, her third, was a surprise. She and her husband decided to let the gender be a surprise, too. I got a call one morning two weeks ago when I was at the gym from Monica stating her water might have broken. I freaked out a little and couldn't concentrate too much on finishing my workout. I went home, packed a bag, waited for my mom to come watch Aidan, hot-rolled my hair for the baby and picked up Monica.
What a special time the next hours became. For a long time, it was just me and Monica. She couldn't have looked more lovely. She is such a beautiful person inside and out and just lovely pregnant. She has a quiet strength and confidence that allowed her to tell the doctors that perhaps they could wait to induce her because her water broke with her two other children and she had the babies within 6 hours. She was admitted to a room and we laughed and she showed me yoga poses. In fact, she made labor look pretty darn easy... for a little while.
Monica's husband showed up and the show began. We began walking the halls to help her with the discomfort. I noticed that her contractions seemed to be happening very fast. I had read two doula books and couldn't remember a darn thing about how to help her but I became suspicious that her labor was moving rapidly. When we got back to her room after a trip around the hall, Monica decided she needed an epidural. I went to tell her nurse that Monica's contractions really picked up and if the anesthesiologist needed her signature, he should get it now as she was asking for an epidural.
Things happened pretty fast after that - anesthesiologist came in and says he has another more urgent case but he'll try to fit her in. Monica says, maybe you need to check my cervix. I stand there not knowing how to help Monica. Monica is checked and is ready to push. Anesthesiologist irritatedly says he can't help hew now. We all wait for the NICU team to arrive as there is meconium in the waters. Someone hands Monica papers to sign for treatment of the baby while she is contracting. I try to help and ask them to get the signature from the father. Monica is in such intense pain and there is no relief. I don't know what to say or do. I just tell her it is almost over and she is doing a good job. Luckily her nurse grabs a leg, Otto and I hold onto the other and the winking doctor tells her to push. Three good pushes later and the baby boy arrives. He is beautiful and her biggest. This entire turn of events seems to happen all within 2 minutes but it was probably still only in 15 minutes. She pushed him out in under 5.
I get to see the placenta be delivered. I got to watch a father hold his son for the first time. I got to see a baby nurse on his mother for the first time. I am seriously impressed with this amazing process and my amazing friend.
Selfishly, I feel as I was given a huge gift from Monica. The missing memories from my own delivery seem to be filled in. I remember things, feelings, PAIN, fear, love, strength.
Here's a cool thing that happened. Monica and I share an OB. He had told her there was a picture of me and Aidan up on the mom and baby floor. I knew nothing about it. I knew there was a chance that Aidan's picture could be up there but was told that there was a budget at the hospital and they couldn't afford it a few years ago. I went up to the mom and baby floor and sure enough, an enormous picture of Aidan and me is in the gallery of pictures. He is one years old in the picture above and just beautiful. He went through so much in that single year - 3 heart surgeries - and just look at that sweet face.
Another cool thing - Monica and I are sure to be lifelong friends. I had that hunch before but now I feel it in my heart. Monica, thank you for sharing with me such an intimate, miraculous, beautiful event. I don't know if you will understand how much it has helped me. I have been so sad over not having more children and to witness this event has really helped. I hope I helped you, too, as it was really my only intent going into this. I knew I would get something out of it but not to the magnitude that I did.
Today is my birthday. It doesn't quite have the zing that it did when I was little or even in my 20's. The weather is glum, Aidan is home sick from school, Jeff is teaching until 9:00 tonight, and I can safely say I'm not in my mid-30's anymore.
Ah well, I am meeting my mom and sister for lunch and I'll be darned if I have to fix my own birthday dinner so since Aidan is on the upside of strep throat (and not contagious), I'm taking us out to dinner. My good friend, Monica, is taking me out for tea tomorrow. I'm hoping to maybe sew tonight. The day is looking up.
At left, Toulouse wondering when Spring is coming.
I don't like it when guests arrive early and this is no exception. I adore Spring, I cannot wait for it. Even though we had a record temperature February day here this week (close to 60F!), Wisconsin is simply not ready to hand over Spring. Wisconsin has up her sleeves some more super cold days and I am betting a bunch of snow.
So bulbs, I kindly covered you with some leaves and look forward to meeting you again in April.
I'm not talking about easy things, I'm talking about the actual phrase "easy peasy." It grinds my chaw everytime I see those words written and I have no explanation why. Overused on craft blogs, perhaps?
At left is our neighbor squirrel, Acorn, doing something that is not easy peasy. She is munching on our spent sunflowers (picture taken on a warmer, less dismal day).
What phrases annoy you and why?
The last two days we've had "cold days" (think snow day except replace "snow" with "-12F with -40F wind chill"). So Aidan I decided to warm up the oven and make a twist on our playdough cookies by making them in Valentine colors.
Instead of the red, blue and yellow colors, I used food coloring gel in the colors of pink, hot pink, and red. We couldn't tell much difference between the pink and hot pink so I'm thinking a third contrasting color would have worked better. However, dipped in red sanding sugar, these cookies were a fun treat!
Adapted from All Recipes
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
assorted colors of gel food coloring
white sanding sugar
This is a re-post from February 13, 2008. It is such a great technique that I thought I would share it again. In fact, I love this garland so much I leave it up all year.
I really have a thing about garlands and buntings. I find flags/garlands/buntings so hard to photograph so I apologize for the quality of my photos. However, I'm so excited! I used my new stiff fabric technique that I learned about to make fabric paper airplanes and made this fun garland out of fabric.
Last week I saw on Chicago Apartment Therapy and then on bb-blog the fabulous heart flag garlands designed by Cori Kindred. Her garlands are made of vintage paper and really are so wonderful. Looks like she sold out of them in her Etsy shop (see her image at right - you can click on it to enlarge). You can now find them in Cori's web store.
I decided with my new stiff paper technique that I wanted to make some of my own and had fabric on hand that would kind of replicate her papers. So I set to work and am really tickled with how they turned out!
First of all, I want to say that I felt a little funny about blogging about an item that I basically copied the idea from. So I contacted Cori to ask permission to blog about mine and show hers and she was kind enough to give me the OK.
I used the fabric origami technique I mentioned in this post to stiffen the paper. When dry, I cut out the fabric in various square and rectangle sizes. I used a large heart paper punch to punch out the hearts. I then steam-ironed the end of the fabric over a pencil so that I would be able to string the fabric pieces. When complete, I strung the garland over hemp twine.
There are larger pictures here and below. Sorry about the craziness of my mantle. I have Aidan rocks (he gives me rocks and pebbles from every place he visits), Ephraim pottery, a dusty clock, dead daffodils, chalkboard Valentines from Aidan and paper Valentines
Today we are staying home and playing games including board games and LEGO STAR WARS video game. I almost regret ever getting Lego video games or letting Aidan watch Star Wars or have him play Lego Indiana Jones as our life has converted from being about Cars (Lightning McQueen) to being about whips, lightsabers and the like. However, it is just too dear. We haven't let Aidan watch Indiana Jones but he was so enthralled with the game that he made his on whip out of paper. He asked Santa for a whip and we told him that we wouldn't allow it but once your kid starts making his own whip and lightsabers (lifesabers, as Aidan sweetly calls them), you kind of break down and remember a few things you didn't get as a little girl (I'm talking Easy Bake Oven here).
Oh shoot - where was I? Oh yes, I'm quickly writing this post as Auntie Heather stopped by to visit Aidan. We made lavender playdough and it is wonderful! Those specks in it are lavender buds. There are tons of make-your-own playdough recipes out there so you could just use your own or the one below which I got from Aidan's school (sorry - I don't know who to credit).
Lavender Scented Playdough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cups water
red and blue food coloring (or purple)
lavender essential oil
dried lavender buds (optional)
Put flour through water ingredients in medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir constantly. After it is nicely mixed, add 8 drops blue and 10 drops red food coloring. When it starts thickening, add about 1/4 cup lavender buds if you like. Remove from pan when it becomes a soft doll.
Put ball on lightly floured countertop and surface. Let cool for a minute. Make a well in the middle of the ball and place 15-20 drops essential oil in the middle. Fold ball over itself, dust top with flour and knead. Let ball cool and store in a plastic container or zip top bag.
There are so many things you can do with playdough. You can make smaller balls and color differently after you have removed playdough from the pan. You can use other natural scents such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, peppermint extract. Other dried flowers can be added or even confetti and glitter. Go to town.