January 30, 2011

Momma's Got a Brand New Bag

It's amazing how even part-time work cuts into blogging time.  Free Computer Smileys Fortunately, I Love my job with a capital L. If I had made a list of all the things I wanted in a job, it would fit that list perfectly. Sadly, there's just less time to visit everyone out there in bloggy land and I haven't been able to focus on posting anything recently.

My favorite cousin was in town and we spent some time together, eating (Cheesecake Factory), shopping, eating (Charleston's), visiting, eating (Pizza Picasso's) and ...

getting pedicures with the Granddaughter, too.  So much fun. Oh, I dearly loves me a pedicure!

My cousin and her hubby come from coooooold weather, so I knitted them each a hat to take home with them ...

Low-Sew Boutique: 25 Quick & Clever Projects Using Ready-MadesAnd I've done a tiny bit of sewing. Bought this cool book "Low-Sew Boutique" written by Cheryl Weiderspahn on a Walmart clearance rack for $3. The idea is to make things like tote bags and handbags from other things that are already made like rugs, place mats, oven mitts and potholders. I think this is called upcycling and it's such a terrific idea.

I went to Anna's Linens and got a place mat on the clearance rack for $1.39 and a couple of linen napkins that looked good with it for $1.99 each. Then on to JoAnn's where I got wooden purse handles for $5.99. (The handles would have been less if I'd had a coupon but I already used it for yarn.) The Place Mat Purse shown in "Low-Sew Boutique" actually uses a potholder for an outer pocket but I couldn't find one that I liked so I decided to go ahead and wing it, making several pockets from the napkins. Here is the picture shown in the book ...

Here is what I bought and a few pictures of the process ...

The great thing about using place mats is they're already backed, which creates the lining for your purse and they're usually made of pretty sturdy fabric (if my kids were any indication of how well place mats can hold up under constant use and abuse). This particular place mat caught my eye because it has my youngest daughter's favorite colors in it and it's just so darn cheerful! I did have a magnetic catch (in the little baggie upper left) that I was going to use, but not only did the purse not need it, I really don't know where I would have put it. I added A LOT of pockets to this thing, inside and out, because I believe you can never have enough pockets to hold all your crap.

Here I've folded the place mat in half and marked the fold with pins ...

I started cutting and folding pockets, just making them up as I went along ...

I decided to put double pockets on the outside of each side of the bag ...

I also put a huge double pocket on the inside of the bag and stitched individual pockets for cell phone and sunglasses ...

The book calls for handles with removable rods, but I couldn't find any so I just went with some cute oval wood ones by Everything Mary and jimmy-rigged how they were attached ...

And here's the finished bag ...

I love it and, more importantly, YD loved it. She came to the house while I was running an errand and saw it hanging on the cupboard. She told me she'd noticed the colors were her favorites and was hoping it was for her. Yay!

There are other great ideas in this book like luggage tags, eyeglass cases, sleep masks and a curling iron caddy, but my next project will be a large tote bag made of woven rugs, like this ...

or this ...

Are those cool bags or what???

The Gift of Rain: A NovelAnd I've been reading. I read for 4 straight hours in bed this morning (starting at 5:30 a.m.) with a pot of coffee and finished my book for book club next Wednesday. Our February selection was "The Gift of Rain" by Tan Twan Eng and it was so good! I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, especially war time and this is set during World War II, but the author did such a wonderful job with the characters and the story just sucked me in and kept me turning pages. It is the tragic tale of Philip Hutton, the son of a British father and Chinese mother, who lives on the island of Penang which becomes occupied by the Japanese during the war. Great story (432 pages) with so much fabulous history and culture mixed in. I would highly recommend it.

And can you believe January is nearly over? Already! Hope it was a great month for everyone!!!

January 26, 2011

January 22, 2011

I Have a Mean Streak

I have come to realize that I really have a mean streak and by come to realize, I mean that I actually believe it now. I heard occasionally from Mom when I was growing up, "You have a mean streak a mile long." Even though I don't ever remember hearing her say this to my sisters, I'm pretty sure it wasn't just me. I was the oldest of three girls so I had a lot more opportunity to be mean, although I do remember this table-turning scene involving my baby sister who is 11 years younger.

I was upstairs laying on my bed doing homework and she came into my bedroom (we had to be about 14 and 3 years old at the time). She started touching my stuff; you know, the important girly things on my dresser. I'm sure I asked her very politely to get out of my room. After a few minutes of me still verbally throwing her out but never touching her, she walked to the top of the stairs and called out to Mom that I had hit her. I definitely got in trouble and probably got grounded. Which reminds me, I'm going to really smack her the next time I see her. I don't care how old we are now!

I have a pretty sarcastic, slightly warped sense of humor, which does run in the family. As much as I love my sweet Hubby, he is a man and therefore looks at things differently. Remember that whole Mars and Venus thing in the book by Dr. John Gray? I've always been the disciplinarian in our family, as in the one who flips out when the kids do something wrong. He's always been the sucker good guy. He told me once when the girls were in elementary school that they had come to ask him if they could ride their bikes to the park. He told them to go ask Mom and they said, "Oh, never mind. She won't let us do anything." Even today, the Granddaughter has learned to work her Bampa first when she wants something.

Yes, he is a man, which is why I've threatened to stick a pillow over his face while he's sleeping numerous times over the years. If anything ever happens to him, you know who they'll look at first.

Just in case you're feeling sorry for Hubby, let me assure you that the acerbic wit runs both ways in this house. Once, when I was being a 
little over-dramatic about something one of the kids had done, I said I was going to go float face down in the pool and just end it all. Hubby turned to me and said, "Oh, good. The insurance will pay off if it looks like an accident."

Feather pillows aside, my new weapon of choice would apparently be a taser. I seem to find myself saying more and more often about various situations and people -- rude sales clerks, idiot drivers, annoying contestants on reality shows. "I'd just tase 'em." And Hubby or the Daughters or the Granddaughter just shake their heads and tell me I'm mean. Of course, they're laughing the whole time but I'm still mean.

Last year we saw a news clip on TV about a 72-year-old woman who was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. The whole thing was caught on tape. I believe she was running late for an appointment at the beauty shop which, of course, made her completely exempt from all laws. She was speeding through a construction zone and got pulled over, then argued with the cop, cussed him out, wouldn't sign the speeding ticket and resisted arrest. She was a total pain and when the cop threatened to taser her, she pretty much dared him to. So he did. Plain and simple and legal. Hubby was absolutely horrified. I was surprised he waited that long to take her down.

I admit it. I am short on patience ... always have been. I'm still amazed that I owned a retail store for so many years where we worked with a lot of brides. Bride brain can be an ugly thing and I truly don't think that most of them realize it when they're acting crazy and bridezillaish. Even if they do, they just can't seem to help themselves. And the mothers of the bride can be even scarier. We once had a bride and her mother in an all out screaming match because the bride wanted a purple border on her wedding invitations and the mother said she wouldn't pay for them because she hated them. The father moved the fight outside the store, which was almost worse because they stood on the doorstep and continued to fight which not only prevented other customers from entering the store, it freaked out everyone in the neighboring businesses. Oh, good times. We joked about getting a pair of those big blow up boxing gloves for those situations but now that I think about it, if I had had a taser ...

We even laughed about me asking for my own personal taser for Christmas last year but I'm sure Hubby could see his life passing before his eyes just thinking about it and with his hair sticking straight out electrified, no less. You know, I'd never really taser anyone -- I'm a firm believer in what goes around, comes around. But I have great visual skills and a very good imagination ... and they even come in blue!

January 19, 2011

Louie, Louie Poo Pooie

In celebration of Louie's 4th birthday today ...

Happy Birthday, Louie!

(FYI ... this was my first attempt to create a slideshow, set it to music and export it.)

January 17, 2011

Fear of UFOs

We had one of those really nice lazy dazy weekends with lots of jammie time, blanket cuddling, reading, napping, movie watching, a little cooking and some knitting thrown in for good measure. We got our Christmas decorations packed up and stored away on Saturday and it finally felt like we were over the holidays again for another year, which was much needed. Some years it seems like the holidays, as much fun as they are, are harder to get through than others.

I've been reading about UFO challenges on various blogs. If you do any crafting, you know that UFO in this situation stands for Un Finished Objects, which really means a project you started, then stuffed in a bag and ditched in the back of a closet somewhere. Or is that just me? It could be any type of project - knitting, quilting, crocheting, sewing - something that either became boring or scary or who knows what your reasons are.

Here is mine ...

In November of 2007, I received some birthday cash from Mom and Dad and this is when I had gotten all jazzed about knitting again. I made nearly all of our Christmas gifts that year (8 scarves, 2 shrugs and a hat) ...

{Sorry about that last picture. It's a black scarf for my nephew knitted in chenille yarn with pockets sewn into each end and there was no way to get a decent photo of it, though I tried.}

So after I'd done all this knitting of fairly simple items throughout the year, I had birthday cash to spend and decided I'd make myself a sweater -- the Brushed Lace Cardigan that I found in a knitting magazine. And it started off great. I bought all these beautiful colors of Caron Simply Soft yarn to make this 3/4 length sleeve cardigan. This is a sweater that is knit in individual pieces and sewn together. Got the back done ...

Got the two front pieces done and one sleeve. And there the story ends, my friends. Sad, but true. I think I intimidated myself with the idea of seaming it all together and decided to put it away for awhile. Let's see, started in November 2007 ... *$@&%)~^ ... that's me calculating that it has been 3 years and 2 months since I started this beautiful sweater!!!

I am thoroughly flabbergasted and disgusted with my abandonment skills and this is my UFO project that will be finished in 2011, come hell or high water. You know, hell is only a few months away in Phoenix when we creep back up to Face of the Sun temps. High water? I have been caught in a flash flood in a wash once ...

So do you have any UFOs stuffed in the back of a closet?

January 14, 2011

Friday Funny - Ruff Rhumba

Here's a 15 second video clip I took of Miles having a fit behind the baby gate in 2007 when he was still a puppy (see this post for the explanation). He was dancing back and forth, all bow-legged, and I thought how fun it would be set to Latin music. You can see our old guy, Skyler, in the background, probably thinking, "Why did they stick me in here with this nutjob? Sit down and shut the hell up!"

January 12, 2011

Puppy Brain

Have you ever had a dog that wouldn't come when called? Our fourth Yorkie, Miles (a.k.a. Miles Davis, Miles of Smiles, Mr. Miles and Milesyoulittlebastard) is the one. He was already 6 months old when we got him from a Yorkie breeder. They had considered keeping him, then decided he wasn't show quality. In the meantime, though, he'd been living with each new litter of puppies so he came to us a little wild, not house trained, with no manners and somewhat skittish.

We got him the first week of November 2006 and found out right away that even though he would use the doggie door to roam the back yard, he really preferred going potty in the house. This was when we had wall to wall carpeting and it was soooooo frustrating. So we started corralling the dogs with a baby gate in the kitchen/family room area when we were at work. They had their food, water, doggie door and the entire family room of furniture to lounge on. We had just lost our 14-1/2 year old Reggie in October and Skyler was the same age. Here is a photo of Miles (on the left) and Skyler getting to know each other ...

On Christmas morning 2007, we were packing up the car to go visit Hubby's brother and Miles escaped through the garage and took off down the street. We live at the dead end of a cul-de-sac, so I figured we'd just go out and grab him and be on our way. Oh no ... this was his first great escape and he made the most of it. What a fun game, having everyone running up and down the street, trying to give him treats and coax him to them. He is wily and fast, though, and managed to make it all the way to the other end of the street where there is traffic and ran directly in front of two cars. Of course, I am shrieking and waving my arms like a crazy person, hoping they'll stop before they smash him flatter than a pancake right in front of us. What a Christmas memory that would be.

Over the months, he managed to slip out the front door when we were signing for a package or bringing in the newspaper, the garage door when I was bringing in groceries and the back yard gate as we were wheeling the trash can through. And each time he played the catch me game with obvious excitement and glee. I'd think it was funny if I wasn't so aggravated. So I signed him up for obedience training class at PetSmart. I actually dreaded going because, come on, nobody wants to have the big idiot loser in the class and I was pretty convinced Miles was going to be sporting the dunce cap.

Surprisingly, he was very good, proved he was smart, breezed through all of the tasks like heeling, staying and coming when called looking like a little prince. He was so adorable. I'd tell him to stay and walk to the other end of the long aisle at the store. Then I'd face him and make him wait for a torturously long moment, crouch down and call him. He would come sailing down the aisle, hair blowing in the breeze, literally flying through the air right into me. I learned to brace myself after he knocked me over the first time and was very glad he only weighed 7 pounds. And everyone would laugh and awwww over how cute he was.

Then we'd go home from class, he'd escape out the door and make us chase him all over the cul-de-sac again. What the??? Where did that good little obedient dog from class go? And this is where he got his nickname Milesyoulittlebastard.

There was a female Rottweiler puppy in the class that was probably triple his size and something about her used to just make Miles crazy. We couldn't stand anywhere near each other because he would turn into a spitting, snarling, slathering beast and act like he was going to attack her. He never bit her, but he would carry on like a raving lunatic. Even though I was mortified, the trainer acted like it was no big deal and simply had me step on his leash, then pull up on it until his neck was on the floor next to my shoe.

He never seemed to care about any of the other dogs in class, but we went through this crazy thing with the Rottweiler for 8 weeks. During one of the last classes, I was wearing an ankle length summer dress. We had to walk in lines that formed big loops and would occasionally pass the Rottweiler -- and Miles would just go off. I yanked his head to the floor so many times that night, I thought I was going to either wear out the leash or my sandal. The trainer just said keep doing it until he stops. We were, of course, the focus of the class while this drama was going on and I really wanted to kill Milesyoulittlebastard. After about the 6th time in a row of downing him with the leash, when I let him up, he kind of sighed and literally walked underneath my skirt and sat down. Exhausted? Dejected? Humiliated? Who knows. All you could see was the leash disappearing under my hem and his front feet. What a total hoot that was. He brought the house down!

Surprisingly, he graduated from obedience class with flying colors. That dog would do anything he was supposed to as long as we were at PetSmart in class. However, get him home and apparently all new rules apply.

Louie's favorite thing is to lounge on the couch under a blanket

This doesn't always work with Miles, but we've found how to make Louie come when called without fail. Louie was cuddled up on Hubby's shoulder recently and the Granddaughter wanted to see if she could make him abandon her Bampy to come snuggle on the couch with her. She called him over and over, "Louie, Louie, Louie," in every sweet and cajoling tone of voice she could come up with. He was comfortable and content and just plain ignored her. Then she switched tactics and called Miles who started heading her way, but Louie ran over Miles and nearly killed both of them getting to her first.

So how do we get our dog to come when called? Just call the other dog!

January 9, 2011

Coffee Shop Humor

I did something yesterday that I've never done before ... camped out at Starbucks in Barnes & Noble with my laptop for a few hours. I had dropped the Granddaughter off at Dave & Buster's for a birthday party that was only supposed to last for 2 hours, then I hit Kohl's and saved Hubby $61.00. He's so funny. I texted him that actual phrase -- "Great news. I saved you $61 at Kohl's!" I think it took him a while to realize that if I saved $61, I probably spent a lot more.

But, hey, I finally did the thing I've been whining and complaining about for the longest time. That thing I truly dread. Bra shopping. Just shoot me now. I always have to be in just the right mood for any kind of clothes shopping or it's torture. It gets so hot in the cramped dressing room and I simply hate the process of changing and trying on clothes.

But they have some good deals at Kohl's. Got 3 bras, 6 pairs of panties, a pair of tan dress slacks for work and a birthday gift for a friend's little boy. So it was a successful shopping trip. Then I grabbed my laptop bag out of the car and headed on over to Barnes & Noble, got a mocha frappuccino, found a comfortable little table for one and fired up the MacBook.

Looking around, there was just one other person who was there alone and appeared to be working. She had her laptop open in front of her and seemed to be dictating something into her phone or iPod. She was there before I got there and was still sitting there when I left 2 hours later. Everyone else was there to eat and chat and it was pretty busy.

Don't you love a bookstore? Sitting in the cafe on the fringe of the bookstore is so much fun. Lots of distractions with people coming in and out, kids running around and outfits to critique. Oh girlfriend, who told you those low rise jeans looked good? A muffin top is only supposed to be seen as actual baked goods, not spillage on the fashion highway. I remember when the guys used to call it a Dunlop (as in tires) because it dun lop over. And, dude, I've heard of bedhead, but seriously ... buy a comb!

So Hubby was out of town last week and had called to tell me what happened at Paradise Bakery at the airport. He ordered a plain old cup of coffee and the barista set a to go cup in front of him with a lid on it. When he picked it up, it was so weightless that he commented, "Hey, this cup feels empty."

And she told him {wait for it}, "It's just our light roast!"

Bada bing, bada boom. Ha!

Then she directed him to the coffee bar where you apparently fill your cup yourself.

Way back when, when I was drinking decaf due to PMS issues, we went into a Starbucks and I ordered a decaf coffee with skim milk. The barista called it a Why Bother?

I found a website called The Lite Side of Coffee which has all kinds of coffee jokes and this list, which I love ...

78 Ways to know if you drink too much coffee...  
  1. You answer the door before people knock.
  2. Juan Valdez named his donkey after you.
  3. The only kitchen appliances you own are made by Mr. Coffee.
  4. You ski uphill.
  5. You get a tax cut for all the coffee you bought.
  6. You get a speeding ticket even when you're parked.
  7. You speed walk in your sleep.
  8. You have a bumper sticker that says: "Coffee drinkers are good in the sack."
  9. You haven't blinked since the last lunar eclipse.
  10. You just completed another sweater and you don't know how to knit.
  11. You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
  12. The nurse needs a scientific calculator to take your pulse.
  13. You sleep with your eyes open.
  14. When you open your dish cabinet, and there is only mugs.
  15. You have to watch videos in fast-forward.
  16. The only time you're standing still is during an earthquake.
  17. You can take a picture of yourself from ten feet away without using the timer.
  18. You lick your coffeepot clean.
  19. You spend every vacation visiting "Maxwell House."
  20. You're the employee of the month at the local coffeehouse and you don't even work there.
  21. You've worn out your third pair of tennis shoes this week.
  22. Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
  23. Your coffee cake, must have coffee in it.
  24. You chew on other people's fingernails.
  25. Your T-shirt says, "Decaffeinated coffee is the devil's blend."
  26. You're so jittery that people use your hands to blend their margaritas.
  27. You can type sixty words per minute... with your feet.
  28. The only gift you get for Valentines Day you get chocolate covered beans.
  29. You can jump-start your car without cables.
  30. All your kids are named "Joe".
  31. Your only source of nutrition comes from "Sweet & Low."
  32. You don't sweat, you percolate.
  33. You buy 1/2 & 1/2 by the barrel.
  34. You've worn out the handle on your favorite mug.
  35. You go to AA meetings just for the free coffee.
  36. You walk twenty miles on your treadmill before you realize it's not plugged in.
  37. You forget to unwrap candy bars before eating them.
  38. Charles Manson thinks you need to calm down.
  39. Every shirt or blouse you own has a coffee stain on it.
  40. You've built a miniature city out of little plastic stirrers.
  41. People get dizzy just watching you.
  42. You've worn the finish off your coffee table.
  43. The Taster's Choice couple wants to adopt you.
  44. Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.
  45. You're so wired, you pick up AM radio and people test their batteries in your ears.
  46. Your life's goal is to amount to a hill of beans.
  47. Instant coffee takes too long.
  48. When someone says. "How are you?", you say, "Good to the last drop."
  49. You want to be cremated just so you can spend the rest of eternity in a coffee can.
  50. You want to come back as a coffee mug in your next life.
  51. Your birthday is a national holiday in Brazil.
  52. Your hand is permanently shaped to hold your mug.
  53. You'd be willing to spend time in a Turkish prison.
  54. You go to sleep just so you can wake up and smell the coffee.
  55. You're offended when people use the word "brew" to mean beer.
  56. You name your cats "Cream" and "Sugar."
  57. You get drunk just so you can sober up.
  58. You speak perfect Arabic without ever taking a lesson.
  59. Your lips are permanently stuck in the sipping position.
  60. You have a picture of your coffee mug on your coffee mug.
  61. You can outlast the Energizer bunny.
  62. You can jump to the moon.
  63. You short out motion detectors.
  64. You have a conniption over spilled milk.
  65. You don't even wait for the water to boil anymore.
  66. Your nervous twitch registers on the Richter scale.
  67. You think being called a "drip" is a compliment.
  68. You don't tan, you roast.
  69. You don't get mad, you get steamed.
  70. Your three favorite things in life are...coffee before, coffee during and coffee after.
  71. Your lover uses soft lights, romantic music, and a glass of iced coffee to get you in the mood.
  72. You can't even remember your second cup.
  73. You help your dog chase its tail.
  74. You soak your dentures in coffee overnight.
  75. Your coffee mug is insured by Lloyds of London.
  76. You introduce your spouse as your coffeemate.
  77. You think CPR stands for "Coffee Provides Resuscitation."
  78. Your first-aid kit contains two pints of coffee with an I.V. hookup.
Number 17 made me laugh out loud!

January 7, 2011

Dry Skin Begone!

Even though we live in a climate with warmer weather, I still go through my annually annoying dry skin nightmare every year when the furnace goes on. I continually slather on various types of creams and lotions and I swear some of them make me itch more than if I'd not used them at all.

Well, my sweet and beautiful friend, Loren, over at The Magoos News posted a recipe in November (http://themagoosnews.blogspot.com/2010/11/homemade-lotion-recipe.html) for a concoction that combines 3 simple ingredients and, people, I have not had one episode of dry skin mania this winter. Not one! It feels rich and creamy and even Hubby is sold on it and has insisted that it's helped his psoriasis. The Johnson's Baby Lotion that I bought has shea and cocoa butter and smells absolutely wonderful. My skin feels so good all the time that it just amazes me.

Here's the funny thing. I gathered all these ingredients together on my kitchen counter, got out the hand mixer and a big Tupperware bowl and started blending. This was in early December when Hubby, the Granddaughter and YD's BF were in the garage getting out our tubs of Christmas decorations. They all came trooping into the kitchen and I had the mixer going full speed. And they're wondering what kind of special treat is in store for them because normally when they see a big bowl of creamy white stuff being mixed it means lemon meringue pie or cake and frosting or something equally great. You should have seen their faces when they realized it was just a big batch of lotion.

Loren mentions that this recipe makes a lot of lotion. She was right about that! I refilled the baby lotion pump bottle and every one of the 4 Vitamin E containers as well as several other empty lotion bottles we had sitting around. You can't beat the price. I bought everything at Walmart and figured out that the cost for 49.5 ounces of this lotion mixture came to exactly $13.68, which is a terrific deal. I also bought several of these little travel bottles at Walmart for just under $1.00 each so we'd have them for our suitcases, cars and desks ...

The trick to filling all these small-mouthed containers is to scoop the lotion into a big ziploc baggie, then snip a corner and pipe the lotion in just like you were decorating a cake. When Hubby saw how much lotion this made, he said we'd have enough to last about 16 years. Now that we've been using it for a month, I think that's exaggerating just a bit ... we only have enough to last 12 years!!!

I am so grateful that Loren posted this recipe and I wholeheartedly recommend it as my favorite cure for dry skin, although I now plan to use it all year long, not just during the itchy winter months. When you pop on over to The Magoos News for the ingredients, please tell Loren that jayaycee said "Hi!"

January 6, 2011

Just Takin' Pictures

Hubby pays attention. He really buys great gifts, even when I don't throw out elaborate hints. He even buys me things I didn't know I wanted, like this ...

Which turns into this ...

And allows me to do this ...

This is so cool! It's a portable lighting studio to help me take beautiful pictures of things for my blog, for when I start my etsy store, for eBay, maybe even for posterity! It has the blue background that also reverses to a gray background and it came with the telescoping lights and a camera tripod. It all folds up into a handy carrying case and the lights/tripod fit into the pockets on the front.

Come on, is that cool or what? We played with it the day after Christmas. Fortunately, I had been trying out my camera's flash settings just a few days before so I knew how to turn off the flash. The Granddaughter bought Youngest Daughter's Boyfriend a peppermint striped plate and mug, some biscotti and peppermint tea for Christmas so I used them to try out the lighting variations.

Here's the vignette with my flash on so nice bold color, but no shadows, no depth ...

The next three photos were taken with the spotlights in different positions -- toward the front, center, then back ...

I just love the way the change in light direction adds depth and creates different shadows! Here's one more example -- the changes are subtle, but they're there. Look at the way the light hits the taper candles ...

I have a feeling this is going to be a lot of fun and plan to be snapping lots of photos and cramming anything in there that I can -- so run, puppies, hide!