Monday, June 29, 2009

Holy Crap, My World is a Swirl

Ok, I've landed, back from vacation. A bit more relaxed and refreshed than usual. Just pick up where I left off, right? We are in desperate need of a schedule, or a direction, or a unified goal, or at the very least some compromise on just about anything over here! In my mind, it looks like a constant series of explosions, and I'm running around cleaning up after everything.

It was all I could do today to get to a doctor's appointment today at 10:30! When we were all in school, it was an up and out by 7:30am, well oiled schedule with very little room for error.

It somehow seems that the addition of so many more free hours in my kid's days have led them to believe that they are endless. Productivity has reached a new low. Time for some changes. Calendars. Schedules. Expectations.

I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Birthday at Cabbage Key

My only birthday request was that we go to one of my favorite places, Cabbage Key, for lunch. There there are no cars there, it is an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Getting there requires a boat. Life happens at a much slower pace on islands, I have found. The daily requirements are simplified to sunscreen and water. The place exudes a strong sense of community and an air of self reliance. The sign out front says that this is where Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise".

The bar requires a bit of an explanation: (I have heard a few versions of this story, but this one is my favorite.) It is said that when a fisherman would have a good day fishing out here, and he had made some money, he would tack a dollar bill on the wall of the bar while he was there knocking back a few. When the fishing wasn't so great, the fisherman could still have a beer by pulling down a dollar and using the money that he had "banked".

As a result of this "tradition" , the walls (and the ceilings, and the door jams, and everywhere else) in the bar are absolutely thick with money. Dollar bills with people's names and dates are written all over them. Most are US Dollars, but there are quite a few foreign currencies. I saw a dollar from Saudi Arabia, and one from Australia on this wall. The whole scene is mind boggling at first. There is money taped everywhere. (They had to put up a sign that asks the patrons NOT to tape money to the piano!).

The kids each put up a dollar...won't it be fun to come back and find it again!?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Collect Your Buttons Girls

You know all of those buttons that you have floating around in the jar of loose change in your laundry room? Sort them out and maybe exchange some. We've got a girls day out project.

Look at this cute bracelet made entirely out of stacked buttons and a bit of leather cord.
Look how easy the lacing is. Make sure that the knots are glued for an extra durable bracelet.
They are great for Moms and daughters alike. I can't wait to root through my discards and see how they stack up.

I'm thinking some shell buttons would look beautiful.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Wonder Why Wednesday: Wondering Why I Can Look at These Things All Day and Never get Bored

I have fallen under the trance of Captiva yet again. The days are one big blur. Not a lot happening, yet lots to see.

Here's a kayak floating on an almost calm inlet. What makes this so interesting is that the water goes on forever, but it's only inches deep in most spots. It's like paddling through a puddle.
A spoonbill looking for lunch.
Some gnarly driftwood that pools some shells and ocean water as the tide allows it.
Another fisherman.
Oh yes, and the sunsets. It's never the same twice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here's a Novel Idea: Teach the Kids Economics, Firsthand.

We were recently visiting relatives in West Palm Beach, Florida. We decided to take the kids to this new indoor park. It's called Wannado City. Here's how it works: At the entrance, the kids receive $160 Wongos. Then, they are set loose on the streets of Wannado City. There is an actual kid sized city, with every kind of shop you can imagine. The kids then get jobs with training programs, like a firefighter, for example, and they are dispatched to an actual (fake) fire.The firetruck and the recent trainees are sent to zoom through the streets of the city with the siren wailing and the lights flashing. When the job is complete, they are paid. Dangerous and difficult tasks pay more that less strenuous jobs. There are also opportunities for the kids to spend their Wannado bucks, like at the bakery where they can make their own cookies.

I thought it was a marvelous concept and a great teaching opportunity at many levels.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Wonder Why Wednesday: Packing.

I was wondering why whenever you ask kids to pack for a trip, they generally get out their suitcase and roll it around the house, fill it with nothing except a few toys, and pronounce that they are ready to go.

They must be awfully disappointed when they reach their final destination and there are CLOTHES in there. (Packed by you know who in the wee hours.)

Maybe in their world, a few matchbox cars are really all they need. In my world, I'd like a clean shirt!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Amish Cornbread

There is something about a giant slab of buttered cornbread...something irresistable. I made some chicken rice soup yesterday, and cornbread as the accompanyment. I got my recipe from an older Amish gentlemen that was selling cornmeal that he had ground himself. I'm not sure how he had typed copies of recipes to hand out. I'm pretty sure that the Amish have sworn off computers. But, if there is anything that I know for sure is that the Amish, and farmers in general, are very resourceful.
Amish Cornbread:

Preheat oven to 450.
Grease a 8" square pan.
In a bowl, combine:
1 cup corn meal (I prefer very course meal)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
In a seperate bowl, blend together (beat one minute):
1 cup plus 2 tblsp. milk
4 tblsp. oil
1 egg
Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the milk mixture; stir until blended. Pour into pan, bake for 25 minutes.

Perfect every time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Come Walk with Me Along the Historic Harmony Trail

We went for a walk yesterday along the Harmony Trail. A destination that is within 10 minutes of my home, but I never knew this trail existed. Thanks to my new found love of Letterboxing, the whole family is getting out and excitedly running down trails. Along the way, we've seen deer, rabbits, groundhogs, beavers, ducks, and other wildlife. The kids are fascinated.

This trail took us to an old cemetery. It is one of the oldest in the whole western half of the state. Some of the graves here date back to 1815. I just love old cemeteries. The gravestones are so beautiful, so intricately carved. I like to read the names and imagine what kind of lives they lived. I like the wording, usually listing to the day how much time this soul had here on Earth. I try to imagine how people with such little technology were able to chisel out names in such intricate fonts. The Mennonite Meeting House is probably the most original in the nation. We just happened to be there while the caretaker was mowing the grass. Seeing that we were taking an interest, he asked if we'd like to look inside. We got an unexpected private tour.
Here's the date on the building. I wonder why they put dates on old buildings. (Sounds like a question for Wednesday...)

We came across caves.

And cliffs.

And an immense tree that had fallen. We counted the rings, and if that truly indicates age, this tree was over 160 years old.

We strolled through town on our way back, and had dinner. We ate on the patio, near the fountain, at the Harmony Inn. This is a historic site where you can sit on the porch with your iced tea, or have a few beers at the bar. Many say the place is haunted. I've heard tell that the ghost will often appear in the mirror behind the bar. The kids and I strode slowly past and checked it out. No ghosts today. Just a reflection of the bikers knocking a few back.

We strode on a bridge over the Connoquenessing Creek on the way to our final destination. It was nearly sunset and the ducks were out in force.

Here are some duck butts...somehow I like the blurryness....

Our final stop was Rapp's Seat. The Harmony Society's leader, George Rapp, used this isolated seat carved into the outcropping for meditation. It was also a good vantage point for watching over the town.

If you'd like to take this walk, make sure you print out the historical information on Atlas Quest.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm back to my Machine

Yes, sewing, that is. I've been pretty busy lately with sleep overs, kids birthday parties, end of school stuff, doctor check ups and the like. But, if that machine is on the counter, I seem to always make time. Here's a brief list of my most recent projects.

My daughter had two pair pants that were favorite #1, and favorite #2. Within a month before the end of school, she had put the knees out in both of them. We are all such sensible Mom's and buying more pants for the remaining month or so, seemed ridiculous. So, she limped through her last school days on her two remaining pairs of pants (not her favorites).

I decided to make lemonade out of lemons, er,... Bermudas out of pants. Enough time had passed, and she thought that I had gotten her two entirely new pairs of shorts. Score one for Mom.
The Treat Girl had made a few skirts for Juniper for her birthday. I loved the pattern, so I borrowed it. I made this super cute skirt for myself. I have to tell you that the picture does this no justice.
I even lined it! (I'm hearing some distant ooooh's!)

Then, I made this cute sundress for my daughter. They have this easy as pie fabric that already has the elastic top. All you have to do is sew one seam. I took a little fabric from the bottom, and made some thin straps for this dress. She's so proud of it, she picked the fabric herself.

I packed up the sewing machine yesterday, so maybe I'll be able to concentrate on everything else that needs done.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Fun List

My kids are in the midst of scrawling their MUST DO list for the summer. I'm pretty sure that reading, keeping the multiplication tables fresh in their minds, and practicing their foreign language will not be on their list. (It is on mine!) Take my poll (to the right) and give me some input about what's on your list! I need some fresh ideas.

I don't want to hit August 31st, and find that we have done nothing. But, then again, maybe "nothing" is on the list!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Repeat After Me

There is nothing better than a peony!
I seriously do have my kids say this.
I wait all spring for these. They tease me with balled up blossoms that ever so slowly grow . The promise is there early, you just have to wait for it. Finally, they start to pop. The smell is perfect. The flowers are huge and you can fill a vase with just 3 blooms. The glossy leaves are a bonus. They are perrenials. Very little maintainace.
When we were in New York a few weeks ago, they were selling them on the street for $6 a bloom. I am rich in Peonies!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Wonder Why Wednesday: Signing Casts

My daughter has recently gone through the process of breaking her arm, having it casted for 6 weeks, and now she's good as new. The first day I sent her off to school with it, she clutched a brand new Sharpie marker, so that her whole class could sign it. I'm wondering why we do this?

I know that we write well wishes, and get well soon's. Probably to cheer up the person who's stuck with the heavy thing for the next endless weeks. But, how did the practice start? In my breif internet search, I was able to find nothing.

My guess is that it started when Doctor's first started using casts for broken limbs and Mom's guilt kicked in, and she wrote "I love you sweetie, and I'll be thinking of you today, and I'm sorry that your arm is broken, and somehow, even though there is no reason for me to feel responsible, I am a Mom afterall, and I'm able to twist events so that I can somehow feel badly about not protecting you enough." Either that, or the kid got a huge goop on the pristine white cast, and Mom (smartly) wrote over it to make it seem like it was on purpose. Here's my daughter holding a dandelion curl.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Today I Am...

GLAD TO BE TURNING THE PAGE!This is my May calendar page. Busy is good, productive is great, crazy is just plain crazy!

Today, I am taking a huge cleansing breath and letting the warm breezes of June overtake me! June is marked with a giant red line through 2 weeks and is marked "Florida"!

Happy Birthday Treat Girl!

The weekend started off just right with a Birthday Event for our very own Treat Girl. I designated myself as the driver, so that we could all go out downtown together. I thought that since the party was essentially, going to take place in my car, that I should decorate it! I used chalk paint to draw cupcakes, polka dots and obnoxious requests!
Inside, I strung a homemade banner. I punched out the letters for "Happy Birthday"and clip art of lots of cupcakes, and hung them from a garland that I wrapped around the ceiling of the car. The inside was just as gaudy as the outside! Perfect for a Treat Girl Party!

Here's Treat Girl's gift. The standard girlfriend gift guide was in place: No more than $10 should be spent, and the gift should be homemade. I made a fused glass cupcake ring (with the help of my immensely talented husband). These fused glass and wooden rings are available in my shop. Request a cupcake if you'd like!

We went out to Enrico Biscotti's for a Big Italian Throwdown! Twice a month, Enrico hosts a dinner at his shop. You essentially eat in the kitchen at a long communal table. The place was packed, and dinner was endless. Just when you were stuffed, they would bring out another course. We answered thought provoking questions from Juniper's "Girl's Night Out" card deck.

And, here is our Treat Girl with a beautiful frame from Juniper. Imagine, it has a cupcake!
A terrific and very fun night was had by all. Thank you to all of my beautiful friends.