Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Friday

Ah, the joy of the holidays.  We look around us, feeling grateful just to be there enjoying the company of others--okay, maybe not this weekend, and then again...

First, let me say, I love Thanksgiving.  Yep, that's right--LOVE it.  It's a great holiday.  Most of my favorite foods are all served in one meal and in large quantities--which means two things 1) I can eat as much as I want and 2) leftovers (at which point, I can repeat item 1).  There's only a couple days of anything remotely looking like stress (unlike Christmas), everyone's too busy eating to even think of arguing (unlike a family reunion) and I don't have to try and coax Stars out from behind the television (unlike the 4th of July).  Pies are made with my mom's crust recipe, aka actually tasty and edible.  Yams are cooked in an apple yam dish that does not involve marshmallows or brown sugar.  And the turkey is always moist (the key to this is not to slave over basting like a Martha Stewart clone, but I'll tell you that later).  The only really unpleasant part is clean-up and, whenever possible, we con politely ask my dad and brother to take care of the dishes.

The following day is Black Friday.  Sounds omnious, I know, but really its just a super sale kick-off for the retail industry to manipulate more money out of consumers in hopes of somehow recovering a shred of their money in this economy.  I appreciate their efforts, really.  I show this by attending at least one or two sales.  And while I admit, the last few years I have not been inspired by potential savings enough to get up at pre-dawn hours to stand freezing in a never-ending line of people all just a little rummy from minimal sleep and abnormally chatty, I still enjoy getting a deal and having some fun while doing it.  And granted, the chumminess shown earlier in line when we were all freezing together quickly disappears in the frenzy of grabbing and cart stealing.  Still, good times.

What are my favorite sales?  Well, the first, obviously, is going to the JoAnn's Superstore for super deals on fabric.  My dad has sworn this one off after he found out that we had to stand in two never-ending lines--first to get the fabric cut and then to check out.  Still, I love it.  Okay, I'll admit--I have a fabric obsession.  But, if you're going to offer bolts of flannel, polar fleece, quilting cottons and fashion fabrics for 1/2 off or less, well, I'm going to want to check it out.  And, hey, no one ever got trampled to death on a Black Friday sale at a fabric store--Walmart can't say that!

The second is the classic Fred Meyer (Kroger's for you Mid-Westers) sale at which time socks are 50% off.  I know, can you believe it!  Laugh if you will, but I never run out of socks--and I have to contend with not just the typical sock-eating dryer, but also a mischevious border collie who thinks he should accumulate all socks within sight for the building of a sock mountain.  I also find it tremendously funny that we all line up at 4 am to save on socks.  There's a part of me that wants to run into the store, grab a cart and run off towards the clothing department madly yelling "Socks!  Socks!" followed by hysterical laughter--trust me, it would be hilarious.  I'm pretty sure that I'd get at least 20 people following me just to see what was so great over there.

So, all you sale seekers, have fun out there--and all of you lined up at Walmart, try to behave this year for a change!

Psst, here's the secret to a guaranteed moist turkey--buy one of those Reynold's plastic turkey bags (over with the ziplock bags), throw in a tablespoon of flour and some herbs, close the bag with the tie and poke a few holes on the top side.  Cook until the pop-up pops or the meat thermometer reaches the proper temp (just follow the directions for the weight of your bird).  Cut the bag open near the closure.  After removing the turkey, you'll have lots of juices that can be used to make a delicious gravy--just carefully lift the bag and (over a pan) clip a corner and let it drain into the pan.  Use cornstarch or other ingredient for thickening.  Yummy!
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friend Extraordinaire

I thought I'd introduce you to Stars--after all, I talk about him, so you should have a face to go with the name.  Here he is:

Isn't he so beautiful.  Not only is he the best kind of friend to have, but he has super powers.  Yep, I said it, super powers.

Stars is faster than a speeding bullet--or pretty close.  If he is at the far end of the yard, and you are about eight feet from the door and you say, "Let's race," he will be past you before you can turn, run to the door and grab the handle.  (Our house sits on about 1/4 acre.)  And people wonder why no one sneaks into our yard--hello, delinquents aren't that stupid!

Stars also has a super bark (And you thought only Bolt had one!)  Stars will walk up to you, where you are innocently sitting minding your own business of creating a plan to take over the known universe, and bark in your ear.  Loudly.  So loudly, in fact, that your head rings.  No, I haven't had any hearing loss yet.  Wait, what? 

His most sneaky power is his eyes.  Those gorgeous carmel colored eyes are a powerful weapon.  With just one look, Stars has the ability to do things like:
  • guilt trip you out of your last few bites of pie
  • weasel half your McDouble burger
  • get you to take him outside in the pouring rain and 50 mph wind because he might have to go potty
  • instantly forgive all the muddy footprints across the papers you were working on, because, well, it was your fault for having them on the floor
  • get you out of bed on a very cold morning to take him outside to smell every last bush and piece of grass
Some might say that this level of power would corrupt any individual, after all, look at governments, Wall Street CEOs and lawyers.  But, no.  Stars has one last gift that goes beyond all of this and protects him from becoming one of the despised of the world.

He has the most loving heart. 

If you accidently step on his hand, he gives you the kisses.  If you are working and can't go out into the perfectly lovely sunshine, he lays beside you for support in your time of trial.  And if you've been gone for more than 15 minutes, he will get crazy enthusiastic and give tons of kisses, because he missed you.

Stars, I love you.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Ever watched Indiana Jones:  Raiders of the Lost Ark--of course you have, it's a classic.  I'm pretty sure it was required reading for college, or maybe that was The Illiad.  But whether or not you'd actually 'fess to having sat through the entire film, you will admit to having seen the scene where Indy takes the treasure causing traps to trigger including the giant stone ball.  Why even bring up Indy and his near catastrophic adventures?

Well, as much as I think using a leather whip to swing from various overhangs would be a very cool and useful skill (trust me, I'd find a way to use that skill if I actually had it), the real reason is that the stone ball scene is what it is like removing dishes from the drain after my mom has washed them.  (And yes, the complaint of no dishwasher was lodged long ago, but sadly fell on deaf ears.)

That's right, my mom is the kitchen equivalent of ancient civilization architects.  She washes and carefully stacks the dishes into one of those wire rack drains in such a way as to make it two things.  Things that an unsuspecting viewer might not realize until it was too late.

The first being a setup.  That's right, my mom creates a clever scenario where everything you actually need is on the bottom, thereby requiring the searcher to put away just about every stinkin' dish to reach the one they actually wanted.  A perfect example--today.  All of the bowls were dirty and had been washed, meaning none in the cupboard, all in the drain.  But, you can't just come in, snag a bowl and get yourself some artificially flavored Lucky Charms.  Oh no.  First you have to remove all the pans, mixing bowls, pie plates, plastic storage containers (which should be banned by the government to preserve sanity, that or the lids should be permanently attached) and mixing cups.  Then and only then, can you reach the neat line of bowls--by then its almost lunch.  Okay, I confess--sometimes I just have toast.

The second thing, and this is the real insane part, is booby trap.  Yep, its a trap.  Just walk away.  While removing the aforementioned pans, mixing bowls, pie plates, plastic storage containers and mixing cups, you must be on constant alert.  Your vigilence is necessary because no matter which item you move first, at least one other (usually breakable) item is ready to bail out and break for the nearest hard surface.  To get a glass for juice, I had to balance a saucepan and catch an old Corel pie pan. 

There is of course, a third idea.  Secretly, my mom works for the goverment and this has been an on-going test of our coordination, agility and intelligence.

Personally, I think they're waiting to see if we crack under pressure.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

Nothing like a few days of downpour.  Oh, and that occasional rumble of thunder--adds that extra special something, don't you think.

I'd feel bad for Stars (the world's most awesome border collie) because, well, having to go potty outside can't be that great, but he also uses most trips as an opportunity to check on all 20 balls and the garden and his pool and the bush over there, oh and that one too, oh and that one...  There is now an umbrella hanging by the door--at least I'll stay sort of dry. 

In the mean time, I'm catching up on lots of work (oh joy) and my crafts that got put off all summer long.  My two latest dolls are finished (pics coming soon) and I've almost got some more softies done.  Designed a softie pattern and a quilt pattern.  Just got to finish the samples.  Digital scrapbook designs and templates too.  Let's just say, my Etsy store will soon be stocked up.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

51 Days 'Til Christmas!

You'd think that when a holiday comes at the same time every year, somehow, someday, I'd be ahead--yeah, right.  Why?  Because it takes me forever to decide what I want to do for Christmas presents.  It's not that I'm indecisive--well, maybe... ;)

No, it is definitely the fault of others.   (Rule #134:  Those not currently present to defend themselves may and often will be made solely responsible for any and all current issues.)  I ask for lists of suggestions months in advance.  Never, not once, has anyone actually given me a list.  Nope.  Christmas present conversations at my house go something like this:

Me:  So, do you have any ideas of what you'd like for Christmas this year?
Them:  Oh, you know the things I like, just make something.
Me: Okay, would you like a quilt?
Them:  I have enough blankets for my needs.  (Yes, I actually have gotten this one.)
Me:  Well, how about some scrapbook pages (I digital scrapbook old family photos)?
Them:  Naw, that'd just be something more to move around if I change locations. (Yep, got this one too.)
Me:  Well, what would you like?
Them:  You got lots of talents, just make something.  (Are they for real?!)
Me:  Never mind.

Got to love family.
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Just a quick hello and welcome to my latest blog--I'll do my best to keep adding to it. Here at our house, we love the handmade, homemade, made up and customized!  Whether it's adorable rag dolls or a beautiful painting, it finds a place in our hearts.  We love to create our own works of art and we love to enjoy what others have made.  So welcome to a blog that celebrates art created everyday by hand--enjoy the tutorials, reviews, freebies and be sure and check out the adorable Raggies and other softies created!
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