Monday, January 31, 2011

Musing: Birthdays!

This time of year all everyone seems to be talking about is the upcoming Super Bowl and when spring will get here.  I, on the other hand, am entering a weekend of birthdays.  My mother, friend, and a different friend's mother all have birthdays on February 6th.  My son's birthday is February 7th. 

The kiddo turns eleven this year.  Eleven!  I think that's even worse than hitting double digits last year.  It's just proof that he is growing up, I guess.  Next year he goes to middle school and he's already going through the hormone changes and attitude extravaganzas.  We cycle birthday parties.  One year it will be themed with party games, etc, and the next it will be at a pizza place with games.  Our mainstay birthday place in town closed for good after last years flood, unfortunately, but a different place opened a few years ago.  

I'm not even going to think about how old my mom or friends are.  I'm sure they would all hurt me for saying anyway. :) 

At this time of year, I try to show my kiddo and mom just how much they mean to me.  We may yell and fight and scream at each other, but we are still family, still loved, and still special. 

I'm going to be making my mom lunch before her Superbowl party.  The kiddo and family are going to celebrate at Perfect Games, a pizza/arcade/bowling/laser tag place (we're going to have pizza with mafia type names.  It's fantastic.  The pizza section is called Kingpin Pizza). 

Do you do something special for birthdays?  How do you show your love?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mused: Recycled Frame

Sorry for the late post today, ladies and gents, but I got sick and didn't get it done last night.  There will also be a lack of pictures as I need to get a new device for my memory card. 

Do you remember this photo from last week?

This week I intended on showing you how to make that frame so you could hang up your oaths and pledges for the coming year. 

I always forget to buy picture frames and when I do, I blanch at paying more than a few dollars for them.  So I've taken to making my own mat board-type frames for my crafts.  Given that we go through a lot of thin cardboard at work, it makes perfect sense to me.

The frame above was made from the cardboard container for large manilla envelopes.  I measured out how big my actual design area was and then figured out how big I wanted the frame to be.  This one was, I think, 5.5" x 7".  I added an inch to each size and cut out a rectangle that was 7.5"x9".  Then, with a rotary cutter, I cut out the center rectangle, 5.5"x7".  Another piece was cut that was just under the larger amount, that way it would cover the back and edges.

I cut the material to fit, glued it to the frame, and then glued the backing in place.  I had a slight mishap with the glue as you can see from the discoloration on the bottom right corner.

Then I slipped it under a heavy box for awhile (I happened to have a new box of dishes I received from xmas sitting there).  I used tacky glue but hot glue would work fine as well.

This is a quick and easy way to make sure that I do something with my finished work.  I hope it will work for you too!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Musing: A Candle Gleams

A candle gleams
the flame magnified across snow
darkness retreats
and the sun returns
warming the earth
to awake the seeds of spring.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Muse: Imbolc and Groundhogs

February 1st  is Imbolc, Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day, and others.  It is a cross-quarter day, not assigned any special astrological event such as the equinoxes and solstices (that I know of).  It is one of those holy days that marks the in-between time.  Of course, depending on your tradition, this holiday could be anywhere in the time around
February 1st.  Maybe you celebrate it on the nearest full moon or when the snow drops first appear.  Lupercalia, a Roman festival associated with Imbolc, is somewhere towards the middle of the month.  And of course, Anthesteria is around the same time.

And, of course, we here in the US can’t forget that February 2nd is Groundhogs Day.  If the groundhog sees his shadow and hides when he comes out, it heralds six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t and just hangs out, then spring will come soon. 

Imbolc is a time of getting ready for what is to come.  Traditionally it would be the time for farmers to move their cows and ready their fields for the spring thaw.  For me, I consider it a time to finally wake up from the winter.  The earth has been sleeping, and we have been taking stock of what remains and preparing in darkness, now the candles are lit and the sun is awake longer and longer, we get ready to move and shake about the warming earth. 

Imbolc is my new year.  I get excited for what is to come when the snow finally disappears.  A lot of years, I over estimate what I will be doing, thinking I’ll go camping every weekend or do this or that.  This year I will keep in my word of Action and make plans that are feasible and include the things I want to do.

Do you have plans for Imbolc?  Do you watch the groundhog peeking out of his home?  If neither, what symbols do you associate with this time of year? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mused: Basket Liner: A Tutuorial

With winter came the piles of gloves, hats, and scarves.  I had pulled down the box of accessories but I didn't like the way it looked cluttering up my hallway and closet.  So I decided to put one of my baskets to use and put the box away. 

What else did it need?  A liner!

I took some fabric from my stash and tried to fancy up my basket.  I looked up a couple different ways of lining baskets but none of them quite applied to my basket.  My basket bows out at the sides, is not even around the edges, and some parts are broken.
These instructions are vague because baskets are all different.  Mine is an odd shape.

Basket Liner:

Enough fabric to go wrap around your basket outside.  This makes sure you have enough
Sewing supplies
Scrap paper
Glue gun (because this project began to annoy me)

Lay out your scrap paper and trace around the bottom of your basket from the outside.  This will give you some seam allowance. 

Then hold your scrap paper up against the outside of your basket and trace across the top, or use a measuring tape and measure the sides.  Add another couple of inches to your pattern for seam allowance and to fold over the edge of your basket.

Pin your patterns to your cloth and cut them out.  My side pattern is only for half of the basket, so I cut out two of them.  Since I was going to fold my fabric over the edge, I had to think about how the handles were going to fit in there.  To create a hole, I sewed up the sides of the pieces but left several inches free at the top, enough for fold over.  You should probably iron the seams flat.  Iron them all the way to the top so that you can sew the seam flat against each side. 

This way your fabric won't unravel at the handle.  Fold over the top edge and hem to keep the rest of the fabric from unraveling. 

Now you should have a tube of fabric hemmed at the top and a solid bottom piece.  Now we gather! 

My basket needed more fabric in the center than on the bottom, so I got to play with gathers.  The way I tend to do gathers is to pin the bottom piece to the outer piece in one spot.  Then, pin on the opposite side.  Pin halfway between those and then halfway between those.  This divides your extra material into small areas to gather rather than doing funky things like, oh, math but yet keeps them mostly neat and even.  You keep dividing your sections until you get to the size you want your gathers.  Then fold and pin the extra fabric down.

Then pop it in the sewing machine, hand sew, or staple (I'm joking but you possibly could use staples) around the bottom of your liner.  Once done, pop it in your basket and see how it fits.  If you need to make adjustments, now is the time.  Mine fit pretty well.

Now that your liner is in, there are a couple more options.  I starting sewing with a needle and thread at where the sides met around the handles.  I found it was difficult to go through the basket to the other side with any degree of ease.  It wasn't bad getting the fabric tacked down in those spots, but I couldn't see going all the way around and making it look neat.  So I fired up my xmas present from Santa, my new glue gun.

Lay out the fabric like you want it to be.  One site I saw suggested using clothespins to hold the fabric in place and just take a couple off at a time to glue it down.  My basket was too big for that option, so I held it in place.  Once I got my section figured out, I lifted the edge with my hand on the back to hold the fabric in place, laid down a line of glue, and pressed the fabric back down.  I only glued the front edge of the basket but you could glue the inside first if you want to hold it down more.

Go around the entire basket a little at a time and end up back where you began.  Now you have a fabric lined basket.

Good job!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Musing: Reminders

Mother Nature reminds us,
makes herself known
in the two day snow,
on slick roads and heavy winds,
she is the master of our fate
We call her sleeping
under the winter blanket
but she leaves us reminders
she is a light sleeper.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Muse: Ah! Get Organized!

If you have read this blog for awhile, you know that keeping things in their place is not a strength of mine.  I try and achieve good results, then sink back into the depths that is clutter.

I signed up for FlyLady a while back and it worked pretty well to begin with.  I cleaned a couple areas of the home and kept my sink clean.  But then I didn't have time to follow the areas and kind of fell out of it again.  I mostly kept my sink clean, but this week I haven't.  Sigh.

But when it was clean, when I did follow her and take the time to clean up, the house looked great.  Was it still cluttered?  Yes.  But the clutter was contained in it's space.

I think my downfall was not following the baby steps.  I am going to change that this week and actually sit down and keep track of what needs to be done.  I am out of my "Oh my gosh I have so much to do!" funk and I should be ready to go.

Have you tried to get organized after the New Year?  How is your plan going?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mused: Something to Die For

Dang it.  I had meant to make a big deal out of my 200th post, but it slipped by me just like 100 did.  Bah.  Oh well.  Welcome to my 202nd post! 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. left us with a lot to remember him by.  He stood up for civil rights and peaceful protest.  He gave us amazing speeches that are still quoted today.  I chose one of those quotes to cross stitch for this week. 

The quote reads:  If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

It's a little harsh, and I haven't done soul searching to discover if my beliefs are something I would lay down my life for.  But I know I would come close.  And of course, I would die for my son.

I chose this quote as a way of reminding myself that I want to focus on Action this year.  I believe in a lot of things, like equal rights for all, and I firmly deeply believe in it.  I sign petitions and try to teach my son about it.  I vote for it.  But yet I have trouble getting out there and standing up for it in a sense.  I don't always speak up when I hear someone bashing equal rights.  I don't go out and volunteer at the phone banks or at protests.  And I want to.  I want to believe that I can make a difference by my actions, and I want to push my actions as far as I can.

Have you discovered something you would die for?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Musing: A Manifesto

I am... only me.
I can... make my voice heard.
I will... stand up for myself and my beliefs.
I believe... I can make a difference.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Muse: I Have a Dream

MLK Jr. Day, coming up on January 17th, isn't something that America typically celebrates.  When I was in school, I'm pretty sure we had school that day.  It wasn't until I was in high school that I really got into the idea behind the whole thing.  I helped put on a presentation one year with skits and essays.

Since my word for this year is Action, I decided that I would follow the prompts and make this year a day on and not a day off.  I signed up to help make blankets for Project Linus at the public library in the afternoon.  I meant to have my son sign up as well, but the computer didn't like me.  When I finally got it figured out that I would have to do it on a different computer, the thing was full.  So we will see if he helps me out or not.

But my taking action on this day is not based on my belief that all races should be equal.  I believe that we can morph MLK Day into something that this country desperately needs - equality for all.

The message of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of peace and equality and justice for everyone.  The same things that our country was built on (mostly, minus non-land-owners, slaves, and women.  But we fixed that.).  Our legislatures now want the Constitution read before they begin their work.  It sounds like a fantastic thing, doesn't it?  Maybe they will realize that they work for the country and not for the organizations/companies that fund them. 

Here in Iowa, we need people to realize that it doesn't matter what color your skin is, or who you love, everyone deserves the right to be who they want to be.  We ousted three Iowa Supreme Court justices over the fact that the court ruled unanimously that homosexual people have the right to marry.  Now there are campaigns calling for the resignation of the remaining justices and the threat of impeachment.  Several freshman legislatures are drafting articles of impeachment.  Impeachment.  Because the justices followed the constitution and are therefore acting as activist judges against the will of the people.

So this MLK Day I will remember Dr. King with pride that he could change the nation, and with hope that we can do the same. 

Do you have plans for MLK Day?  Is it celebrated in your neck of the woods?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mused: Mmm Bread

I have a weakness for bread.  Seriously.  I love nothing better than bagels or a good loaf of wheat bread.  Growing up it was always white sandwich bread, but I didn't care much for it.  But I would always try to get the 'other' kinds of bread at the store.  French bread, mini baguettes, etc.  But I've always felt like making bread from scratch, not bread machine, was hard and I couldn't do it.

But this week I was proven wrong!

I found this great recipe on It Starts with Me for hamburger buns.  My mom had mentioned grilling out (in the cold) later that night when I came over to do laundry, so I thought I would whip up some buns for us.  This recipe was simple to follow and simple to do.  And the buns tasted pretty yummy too.

Then, I rented Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day from my local library again.  I had read it before but never put it into practice.  I was put off by the amount of material I thought I needed, most especially the container.  But my friend and I scoped out a couple different stores in our shopping spree and found the perfect container.  Yes, it's plastic, but it's a plastic that will not be thrown out when I am done.  And I don't think it was coated in plastic wrap either.

So I finally followed the recipe in the book and made this fantastic bread.  It's very yummy and even more simple than the hamburger bun recipe.  I am definitely enjoying having an easy way to make my own bread and to get away from the plastic wrapped store bread. 
This weekend when I make up a new batch of dough, I think I might make it an herb bread.  I think I'll also make smaller baguettes and make meatball subs for my son.  I'm excited!
Do you have something that you make at home rather than buy?  Where do you get your recipes from?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Extra! Extra! Noumenia Goals

Wow, I can't believe how fast this month has passed.  That is the reason why I feel having goals is important.  Without them, I would constantly be in the "I will do it some time soon" phase rather than working on getting things done.

Of course, that doesn't mean I always accomplish them. :) 

Last month I made myself the goals of having an exercise and devotional plan.  I did make one, planning out the hours of my day to make sure I fit them in.  Did I follow it?  Not really.

But I have been exercising a bit the past two weeks.  And I have started lighting a candle and praying in the morning and when I get home.  So I am working on it.  I've also started reading and following Flylady which has helped in other ways.

So my goal for this month is pretty simple, but oh so hard to follow.  My goal this month is just to keep up with my previous goals and to make sure I have a plan in place to accomplish everything I want to.  So that means that I will exercise, devote time to my religion, finish my year strategy planner, and finish my to-do lists every day.  (Tonight I am only missing one thing!  Of course, that's a fairly important one, but if I look through my notes, I may have accomplished it already.)

Do you set yourself goals every month?  How do you get things done?

Musing: Bound Constellations

The stars above,
infinite in number,
pour out their blessings
and lead me a dance
across the sky
until I, tired and weary,
return to earth
amid constellations
bound to the plains.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Muse: A New Beginning

The first post of a new year!  And almost my 200th post as well.  I'm excited! 

The new year is typically a time for people to make resolutions and 'start over.'  I've never been a person to make resolutions, partly because they seem made to be broken.  I'm not sure I've ever met someone who has followed their resolution all the way through.  It also seems like resolutions are made on the spur of the moment. 

But I do believe this can be a time to take stock of where you are and where you want to go. 

Now, I'm not saying that resolutions are bad things.  In fact, at Imbolc I will be pledging something to myself, my community, and my world as I have the past two years.  This year they are going to be a bit more specific than before, but they are things to focus on.  This year I also think I am going to be making an oath to the gods at Anthesteria, a Hellenic festival at the end of February.

For all that I'm making plans and pledges and oaths, I want to follow them not just because I said I would, but because I want to.  I want my life to go that way.  I want to grasp the threads that have been flowing through my head for the past year and actually put them into action.

Someone at the UU recently posted their plan for the new year, and I found a reference to a similar practice on a blog lately, and so I think I will join them.  Instead of making resolutions at the new year, they choose a focus word.  This word they take with them through the year and refer back to.

My word this year is Action. 

And so I will go forward into a new beginning reminding myself to take action for the things that matter to me.

What are your goals, resolutions, or focuses for the new year?