Friday, December 04, 2009

Workin 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'...

WELL! Now that I have fed the dogs, hidden the gifts, checked in on the kids at various locations, kicked off my socks, and sat down with a plate of Italian greens with tomato and cheddar and cottage cheese on the side (fancy, no???)... I think I'll take a breath in between bites to say hello.

The dinner is not fancy because I'm.. well.. fancy (ha), or because I'm on a diet (although I should be, but that's another post)... it's because after my first day back at the office, followed by Mom's Taxi service and some secret Christmas shopping. So it was just the quickest thing I could throw together! Good, though. Anyway, I thought I oughtta check in. :)

The craft show went well. Saw a lot of old friends who stopped to say hello or sit a minute with me. Made a miniscule profit but hey, it's my favorite thing of the year and some profit is much better than none in a time where people are a little more cautious with spending. I could sort of see a trend right there at my table; while 3 years ago, lots of folks bought jewelry for themselves, this year there was more of a lean toward the handmade chalk mats and lunch kits (I make those to keep utensils clean). People love those chalkmats, and I'm so glad! Enough stuff is imported; sometimes it's nice to see folks supporting local artisans.

Last weekend we did get a replacement van, which is a little newer and in really good shape, thank God. But we had to buy new snow-tires (up here we absolutely have to use studded snow-tires to survive the winter) since the ones *already on* the totaled van would not fit this van. :(

OH, AND... you know things are not good when you speak to your kids on the phone after school and the first thing the 13-yr old says is, "Mom, what would you do if, lets say, _____ (little sister) had broken the glass in the door with her hand and she was bleeding all over the floor and there is glass everywhere? Don't have time to go into the story just yet, but what would you do?" So, first aid was recited over the phone, since I couldn't get there... then I got the story.

...Well as it turns out, my youngest PJ accidentally broke the plate glass in the front door last week by banging on it when her sisters were not quick enough to let her in (they came in the back door and she was at the front door banging on the glass and saying "Let me in!" and they were saying "Don't bang on that glass, you're gonna break it!") and then SMASH... yup... she was scared but luckily it was only a tiny scratch, poor thing... she felt so bad!!! I heard this all over the phone just after it happened, as I'd been at an MRI that same day and had gone over to L's house to wait for the hubby to pick me up after work. She was more worried about getting in trouble than her hand!! I had to reassure her that although that was not a good idea (ya think?), and one really should knock (bang) on the WOOD of a door, that I was more concerned about her being OK! Sheesh!! AND since replacing the glass was going to run about $200, she will be doing some extra chores for just this week. I mean, I feel like at nearly 12 yrs old, there has to be some accountability.. but I'm not going to drag it out, I'm sure she learned a pretty good life lesson right there already! :)

Also the first day back at work was pretty good, considering I'd been dreading it. Bit of refresher reading within my systems, bit of cleaning out email and older communications, bit of training on new things recently developed - a lot of them good improvements. And so nice to see coworkers who are more like friends and family after you all work together for several years. So, all in all, a pretty good day.

And my mom is coming back home the day after tomorrow! I miss her.

So anyway, I've posted a few photos from my table at the craft fair (it was an especially big hit with little girls, especially the purses and ribbon barrettes and the sample chalkmat I leave out for kids to doodle on!!).

Hope you are all keeping warm.
Enjoy the holidays! :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ketchup day.

It's been awhile so I need to have a big catch-up day. Been kinda busy.

Anyway, not much really going on, but boy it feels so busy! Geeting ready for the upcoming huge arts-n-crafts fair going on in 2 weekends from now, so that's a lot of sewing, tagging, labeling everything "MADE IN CANADA" (you have to do that now to bring your stuff over the border, found out the hard way last year)... also finishing up jewelry projects that I want to include... revamping and refreshing my displays, airing out the cloth table-covers, setting up a mock table (that was fun, actually) and fixing up my old antique trunk that I use to display jewelry.

OK that is a lot to do, when I go back and read it! So pretty busy there...

Also taking care of the insurance forms and Dr forms and all that since I had to fill and fax them all to my company's insurance folks to get some partial payments out of the plan while I was out on medical leave... that's done and we'll hope it's approved to get some backpay... but most important is that I feel better now, and have been checked for med dosage and all good there, and my Dr even called a couple weeks ago to let me know we're good to go and that I was OK to drive, YAY! So I feel OK except for a cold that has hit me broadside (just a cold, no flu!!)

Speaking of broadside, on Friday night, got hit while driving my friend home (after we had such a nice night out at the movies, BAM)... I was turning left onto her street from the main road (that's an intersection) and a young lady driver tried to pass me... on the LEFT... while I had my left blinker on. DUH. I swear, some PEOPLE...
Anyway, she of course hit us while trying to come back into her own lane, and she took off my entire front bumper in the process. We all pulled over, the police were called, everyone is uninjured (thank God, 'cause seriously, a few more inches on that turn and I & my friend would have been writing this from the hospital. Or worse.)
She told me, "Madame, you didn't have a blinker!" (yes, you bet your ass I did). and "Well Madame, I thought you were just stopping in the road!" (Who the #$%* stops in the road, in front of a left turn, at night.. for no reason?!??)
And by the way, she was French (that makes no difference but it explains why she called me Madame. ha). I felt bad for her once she explained that she was driving her grandfathers car, and he was only insured for liability not for himself, and she had to pick her boyfriend up from work, and she had a baby at home.... etc.... but on the other had, you CANNOT PASS AT AN INTERSECTION ON A SOLID LINE, and that's just the way it is. So my insurance had just confirmed that the other driver is 100% at fault (yup) and they are going to fix our van and provide a rental. I am thankful that we are fully covered!!!

So along with all that I'm just sewing and trying to enjoy time with the kids while they're home. Pretty darn thankful to be in one piece, and same for my dear friend who had to ride along on that need-for-speed hellride.

So it is what it is. And once the craft show is done, I get 4 days off... then back to work at my office where they'll no doubt need to show me all the new developments (yech) before I get back on the phones (double yech). Take care, friends.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Pardon me miss, I mistook you for someone else.

Ok. First of all just need to say thanks for all the being-there-ness and support (and yes, I would even go out on a limb and say love) I've felt over the past few days when there just didn't seem to be any light at the end of this tunnel. I am grateful. For these friends and these blogger friends who do really feel like family.

It's true, you know. After so many months (in some cases, years) we do feel like we know each others stories, homes, kids and families, really bad days... really good days. Each others lives (for anyone just popping by, this blog has been up a good long while but the content had to be deleted recently so... it looks fairly shiny and new, ha). So thanks, guys. And a special thanks to a friend who stepped up to help, you know who you are, and I am eternally thankful. Thank you.

So. Having said that, I also really want to share a phenomenon I have just encountered in a dark cafeteria. Yes.... cafeteria. I'm getting there.

If there is a word for this phenomenon, tell me what it is. I'm mystified and smiling and somewhat saddened while also feeling proud and melancholy and happy and bittersweet. And it all took place in a dark cafeteria surrounded by Batman and ghosts and fairies and Lady Gaga and scary creatures and Goldie Locks. Hmm. Can you guess where I was?

OK. I was dropping off Justice Fairy, 13 (who ironically was dressed as a fairy) at the middle school dance. Already there was my youngest, PJ, 11. She had gone home with a friend after school and "gotten ready" there, and had gone to the dance with said friend's mom before I arrived. So... while dropping off Justice Fairy, I needed to bring in PJ's green plastic leaf garlands and little bird on a wire for her Mother Nature costume... having just purchased the above-mentioned items at the dollar store, having been begged mercilessly for above-mentioned items by the girl in question... countless times... the previous day.

OK then. So I go in to bring the garlands and bird to her in the cafeteria where the dance is being held. I enter with my Fairy who brightly smiles goodbye at me and flits over to a group of friends. PJ spots me from across the room, and very slowly moseys over to me at the door (as if I want to go in any further, no thanks). By the time she gets to me, I'm surrounded by a motley half-circle of her little girl friends, all coming over to say Hi. She finally shows up and I hand her the stuff. Which she's been asking me to bring to the dance... fervently.

At that point she takes the items gingerly from me as though I were freshly arrived from the Leper Academy, and looks sort of away toward the floor. I say something short like, here's your stuff, bye, have fun, see you tomorrow (it's a sleepover for her). I'm not being grabby and huggy. Just saying "here ya go". She mumbles "thanks, uh huh" to the floor, or the wall, or both... and melts back into the circles of middle-schoolers. Huh. Ok then.... I smile on my way out. "BRINGS BACK MEMORIES HUH?" I say to the assistant principal who is sitting at the entrance door. He barely hears me but smiles back. Good sport.

Is this my kid? The same one I helped put together a rocking Mother Nature dress complete with pale pink dress, cape, stuffed yellow silk sun and moon dangles (made on my sewing machine, and which she loved) for her belt made of leaves? The same kid who beamed when I mentioned her hair was very gorgeous flowy and Shakira-esque? Who posed celebrity-style for my camera this morning and gave me a hug and kiss at the door? The same kid who asks for a hug every night at bedtime (and the occasional shared storybook just for the sake of snuggliness)?

Woah. Wow. I think I just noticed something. That kid is a middle-schooler. And subject to change without notice or warning. And of course she's going to play it cool in front of her friends when she's out in "public" (yep, the dance counts as public when you're 11 going on 12).

Well... sigh. It was definitely a life moment. She's the youngest so... I suppose I don't have many of these middle-school moments left, and I'm cherishing them. I am. I understand, I get it. I still remember those dances and telling my mom to just drop me outside, I'd be fine. Wow. Stuff sure does fly by when we're not looking, huh?

So. What's the word for this feeling? I don't know. Guess I'll give it a name.


Take care folks. Hug your kids today. Hug your pets today. Hug yourself today.

***update: when I stopped back in to the dance at pickup-time, my little Mother Nature child came running up to me. She yelled over the music, "MOMMY! MOMMY! I WON FIRST PLACE FOR THE COSTUME CONTEST AND LOOKLOOKLOOK I GOT A SUBWAY GIFT CARD!!!!!"
heh heh... yep, that's my little girl alright. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

confuzled. but ok.

Haven't posted in a while, just haven't felt like it. But right now, with a warm cup of coffee next to me, already had breakfast, so I think now's the time. And the hubby is sleeping - scratch that he just came down - well he'll be busy for a while anyway. So..... can we talk?

I'm going to delve into some feelings here, folks. If it's too scrunchily-feely-uncomfortable to read, well go on over to another site. Won't bother me. I won't even know.

First of all, a little girl about 6 hours south of here has recently passed away and I just read about it, and it is making me so sad. A sparkling, vivacious, sweet, bubbly, girl by the name of Shiloh who brightened up everyone's world. Never met her, saw her story on TV but in this area she still feels "local" to me; meant to send a cheerful card and never got to it; anyway she was only 10, and that's so young, and it's so sad. So I read it in yesterday's paper, which I just got to today, that she had passed. And I'm very blue.

And then I take my coffee over to the desk to check email as I do in the morning, and sit down to my computer, where I had opened the Google homepage earlier, and here is what I see typed into the search-bar box:

"i love you mommy ~s****~" (her name was signed there at the end)

My youngest daughter, 11, must have written this as I was in the kitchen, yelling for everyone to get their shoes on, already, you're running late, etc, and don't miss that bus.

Huh. How about that.

And then I cried a hundred more tears it seems, for sometimes taking for granted the great and wonderful thing that is being the mom of 3 fantastic girls.

I'm so glad I gave them smiles at the door, and at least the youngest stopped for a quick hug on her way out.

So yeah... that was the past hour.

Please. Again. Plenty of warning here. You might want to go about your day. It's gonna get bad and dark going forward. It involves my frustration and money and medicine and will be quite boring, I'm sure, but therapeutic. For me. So here goes.

I'm a strong, adaptable person. First one to cheer you up and tell you everything will be fine. Usually. Ask anyone.

But.... still dealing with this recent epilepsy diagnosis and how the medicine is working and IF the medicine is the right dosage, if I can go back to work etc.... which we will know *after* I go in for follow up bloodwork and tests, only next week. So next week I do tests, then the system here is quite slow, and they would have the test results in about 2 weeks after that, to check the dose and any changes to me. And my Dr will say... well do you feel like you can go back to work yet? And here's the cliffhanger...... NO, I don't feel like I can, since I'm still having extreme tired patches, still having sensations of someone actually lifting up my brain inside my head, and still confused at times, which is one of the side effects of just-having-had an absence seizure.

So my answer would be no, not quite yet, however the dosage is not up to full dose till end of next week so we'll see.... However (!!!) my employment insurance for sick leave thru EI has run out as of next Tuesday. Far fuch's sake. So here we are swinging over a big gape, a virtual canyon, of no income (!!!) for, I don't even know, 4 to 6 weeks (!!!) until my company's insurance plan takes over to start giving me small compensation (I have, by the way, paid into this disability plan like every other employee). And they can't do that until my Dr. has filled in their form. Which she just did... and I can pick it up anytime for... $50.00 (!!!!!!!) Which I don't have till next week. Which delays my company insurance from kicking in even longer. Which is so f***ed up, isn't it all? For crying out loud. So yeah, basically I'm screwed for the next month or so with no income and waiting to see if the meds will work right and THEN if I can go back to work. Wah, wah, WAAAAH. Are you tired of reading this yet? I sure am tired of doing it.

OK that's my rant for today. Hey, I did warn way back there that this would contain some emotional shit, and it felt good to write it all down. So it is what it is. And we wait.

I'm going to take a deep breath, and go upstairs to my "studio" (close enough) to work on a special order of barrettes. At least my family is remaining cheerful, and my friends, and for the most part my health, right? And at least I have my Etsy shop which cheers me up also (I thank God for my little shop at times, seriously). Someone ordered 6 barrettes yesterday in special colors and that made me really happy so... off to braid barrettes and watch a good movie.

See ya, be well, love each other, and appreciate every day.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

A First Birthday Is Very Special.

So! Hi!
Wanted to put these pics up here since I've been working on this quilt and pillowcase for like a week and finally finished last night, washed and dried. Was up till nearly 2 am playing online farming games and trying to stay awake so it could dry all the way, and now it's packed up and ready to give to a special little baby girl who's turning 1 today! This photo above shows the top before the backing was added. Luckily I had some sun this morning, so I ran out into the frost-covered yard in my nightgown to snap these pics on the clothesline!!! Sorry, neighbors!!!

I wasn't sure what to put on the back, but finally settled on a dreamy light purple flannel, it looks almost like a wispy cloudy sky. But purple. :) I figure it's so cold up here, Mamma might want to flip cool crispy side to warm snuggly side now and then.

This is the back of the pillowcase, it's also the back of the quilt. See my pitiful cornrow back there in the garden? Stupid me, planted too late, an d the poor corn could not produce any good ears. Aaargh. Well I'll know next year. Anyway at least the quilt turned out OK! I decided not to iron any parts as it just came out of the dryer, got folded, and today it got rolled into a little ball for the gift bag anyway. Ironing seemed a little... useless.

All tucked away and going to her party this afternoon. I love 1st birthday parties. They have way too many relatives, way too much noise, way too many small children running around all crazy, and a little baby-face happy and smeared with "first chocolate cake" at some point. Fun times. Seriously. This is what memories are made of.

Well, off to get ready.... have a nice weekend. Try to eat some cake.


Monday, October 12, 2009

A medical update.

Hi friends.

Wanted to put up an update, it's been a little crazy.... so I'm posting the info I had put into an email which I had recently sent to all you family members (and friends who were close enough to feel like family). Just to let you know what's up, as I know you, meaning those few who "visit" me here about as often as I visit you and who have come to feel like friends over the past couple years, wanted some news.

My family Dr. has been testing a lot, trying to figure out why I've been missing pieces of my day, feeling disoriented for hours at a time, etc... referred me to a neurologist... he ordered, finally, an EEG.

Nearly 4 weeks later, after my family Dr. made a follow-up call to get the ball rolling, he (neurol) read the test results.

This is what I've been diagnosed with a few days ago: epileptic absence. See links below for a bit of info... The neurologist is trying a medication on me that he says is commonly used to treat this (Tegretol I think is the brand name), and will monitor to see if any improvement or if I can maybe go back to work after this month. Not that I want to go back... still dizzy a lot and worried how I'll do it.... but I've been on medical leave since July so... would be nice to get things stable again, would be nice to have my paycheck again too. Worried, of course, about financially feeling secure. Just like everyone else in the world. So... still at a crossroads about how that will turn out...

Till we know if this medication works, no driving for me for a while longer. No swimming in the deep end, etc. :) Don't worry, I'm being careful. Not even using my stovetop if I'm home alone, for now at least. I've already boiled my coffee over in the microwave by hitting "333" instead of "33" seconds while my mind had "stepped out", so... being more cautious.

Hopefully this will work. I'll keep you posted if any different news. Thanks for your support as I figure this all out. I welcome any advice from those who have dealt with this before, as it is completely new to me.

I'm also posting a pic of my "sewing studio" (aka one corner of my bedroom reserved for crafting only) since I just sorted out all of my fabrics (ok, I know I don't have a lot... but at least now what I have is color-organized) and I needed to share a bit of cheery news along with this rather grim news. This place is where I sit to sew, and look out my second story window and dream and wonder about the future and if everything will be OK.

And I added a pic of me just because I'm silly. And it's the closest thing I can do, besides having you over for a cup of coffee. :) So... please have a look at my little sewing area and let me know what you think! Thank you for allowing me to share something so personal. I appreciate my blogger friends, I truly do.




Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lessons from the Garden

Edited to add pics: The pink cornsilk I mention....

As opposed to the "dressed for daytime" cornsilk on most of the other plants...

The pink dandelion leaves next to some green ones. WEIRD HUH?

HI! A little teeny bit of gardening wisdom I'd like to impart...

The summer is over (yes, it's true, sorry to disappoint those who were not paying attention).

And I've pretty much pulled up the little garden except for the corn (still hoping we may get one edible ear off those plants) and the cabbage (which is doing fabulously well with no help from me, just waiting for the heads to get bigger and up they'll come).

So... while I was out there over the past few weeks, in my old flannel shirt and rippy jeans, I was thinking of all the things my garden has taught me this year. Keep in mind, it is only my second year of gardening, and I spent more time in it then reading or researching about it, so I did learn a lot of "practical knowledge" as I went. I also found the more time I spent online looking up gardening advice, the less I was actually gardening! So I just went out and winged it (wang it? wung it??) most of the time. It may not all be right or correct for every area, but it works for me.

Therefore, here, to the best of my swiss-cheese memory, is the best of the wisdom my little plot has shared with me this harvest year. I think of it as a little Gardening for Dummies guide that I'll refer back to next year!

Here goes:

<> Peas and beans and radishes grow faster than turnips, cabbage, carrots and corn... root vegetables and fall vegetables in other words... So next time I'll plant these summer things on one side of the garden, and keep the fall veggies over on the other side. Less stomping around and disturbing them that way.

<> Cucumbers need a LOT of room to climb and spread out. Next year, the fencing for them to crawl up needs to be a lot taller. Maybe even vertical.

<> Corn does better when planted in triangles (threes), and mine were planted all in one row. Only learned this after they were 5 feet tall. Oops.

<> Sometimes cornsilk is bright pink. Sometimes dandelions are bright pink. *Nope, I do not live near any nuclear power plants. *

<> I should have planted everything earlier. I waited until end of June. Next year, May 15 to June 1, definitely.... even though I'll be freezing my butt off up here.

<> EARWIGS LIKE CORNCOBS. A LOT. **shudder** Careful when you peel them down to check... and shake them all out BEFORE you go in the house.

<> I don't know what the little tiny gray globs in my cabbage outer leaves are, still need to look that up. I'm guessing caterpillar poop. Or alien poop.

<> Rows in general need to be wider next year... so I'm not turning sideways to shimmy between the corn and the cucumber patch, praying that an earwig doesn't fall on my sleeve.

<> Kids will help in the garden. They like it. It's fun. Don't mention anything about the earwigs.

<> If your tomato plants get a disease, you need to pull them right out and get them far away from the rest of the garden. That shit is airborne.

<> If you do like I did and mark all your rows in Sharpie Markers on plastic tabs, good luck to you. Mine washed away with the first rain, leaving me with "mystery crops". Someone let me know if you have a better way, please.

<> A few radishes, if left in the ground after the others are ripe and ready, will crack and look awful and grow pretty tall flowers... but they'll make more radishes deep, deep underground.

<> Keep your eyes open and your wits about you (aka don't be upside down for too long). I was bent over pulling weeds and jumped out of my skin at the gigantic brown animal directly behind me... saw him from the corner of my eye and thought I had a(nother) moose in my yard... but after my hysteria it just turned out the be the chocolate lab from next door.

<> If your hose is old and busts, don't panic. Cut the darn thing off and put your thumb over the end. It sprays just as well as an attachment.

<> And when all is done, and your plants have all withered, pull them up and lay them all down over your garden plot... then lay a bed of dried leaves from your yard over top of them. It puts the garden to bed for the winter and the leaves contain a lot of nutrients that melt into your soil for next year. Simple way to fertilize, compost, and recycle all at the same time. Turn it all over in the spring and work it in.

Happy Fall. It's my favorite season. I'm going to the neurologist later today for my test results. Will keep you posted, friends.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So this is old age...

Two days ago the SmileyDad broke his glasses. His cool ones with the wide cool-guy frame. The one he likes. The frame just went POP and broke.

So this morning he has a day off. I'm in the living room, he's in the kitchen. I hear him make a phone call. Mumble mumble. Mumblemumble mumble.... MUMble. Silence.

Then he comes stomping through the living room looking Very. Upset.

Then the phone rings and he says to me, Don't answer that! I don't want to talk to her!

(Ring, ring)... Talk to who? says the very befuddled me.

(Riiiing)... HER! Don't answer that! OK get that but I'm NOT talking to her!

**uh, WTF is he talking about?**

So I look at the caller ID (this all occurs in about 5 seconds) and it's the eye doctor. I answer it and I say, Um, he's... busy right now? Is this about his glasses?

Yes, she says, please have him call me back. Um, OK then, thanks. Hang up.

SmileyDad comes back in. I give him the so-confused look (I use this look so often, he can read it pretty well). He explains to me that THEY have it on THEIR records that HIS last pair of glasses was purchased there in 2006 and that CAN'T be right because he DISTINCTLY remembers getting them last summer in 2008. And he told me that he... sorta hung up on the receptionist... 'cause he was so mad that they had lost his records.


Now I think back but can't remember, I have a lot of memory loss lately. At that very moment, I just so happen to speak to my friend down the road, because she called to say hello, and she then remembers how I said something about his new glasses... last summer. Okay then, so we all agree... he got these glasses last year. So we should look for a receipt.

Because his warranty is only good for 2 years. Hence he's all stressed out. But at least he has a spare, albeit not "as cool", pair to wear.

So... dig dig dig through paperwork, look up old tax folders, even call the insurance company.

Well guess what... they all say the same thing... last VISIT for an exam was 2008. Last pair of new glasses? 2006.

So we take a little drive over to the eye doctor where SmileyDad, who is generally a very nice guy raised by a good mama, sheepishly apologizes to the receptionist for the above-mentioned hang-up.

And we figure out that if he wears his spares till next June, his insurance will at that point just let him get a new pair. No out-of-pocket repairs needed, then.

So we're all good. Everybody breathe puh-leeeeease.

Except for the whole bad-memory thing. That may not be so good.

Now.... what was I supposed to be doing? hmmm... no idea.

:) Have a good one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm not internationally known, but I'm known to rock a microphone...

OK I'm not really a rapper. Gotcha? Yes? No? Oh you already knew that?? Well the things blasting out of my radio/CD player while I cook and clean may be a surprise... ;)

But anyway! On to more important things... the reason I have old-school Rob Base in my head, for one.

Yesterday I started cleaning out ALL my recipe books because I actually have time to do this for the first time in years, and I'm putting them all on a kitchen bookshelf instead of hiding away in a cabinet.

So anyway, I found The. Most. Wonderful. Thing. Ever.

And it did not come from a fancy cookbook. Or a celebrity cookbook. Or a diet cookbook, cooking magazine, or subscription service.

It came from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, circa 1987, in the form of a tall skinny bound cooking guide called "Homemade Master Mixes".
----->(see? Master Mixes... Master Mixer... Rob Base... well in my head at least, it makes perfect sense)--------

So anyway in this gem of a typed-up little book, there is a recipe for an ALL PURPOSE MASTER MIX. From this mix, which incorporates powdered milk and can be stored up to a month refrigerated, you can make just about anything. It's super. It's fantastic. I'm in baking heaven.
And not like I'm a 24-hour baker, but hey if it's convenient and I'm home, then sure, why not. Saves $ on pre-packaged snacks and desserts and makes the house smell nice, if nothing else.

I've tried the Coffee Cake last night, and the family was coming back for seconds, it was GOOD. See photo. So here is the recipe, and a few variations. Might want print and keep as this book is nowhere to be found anymore, pretty sure.

All Purpose Master Mix
9 cups flour
2 and 2/3 cups dry milk (I use skim)
1/3 cup baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 cups shortening (you can get 2 cups and more from a little rectangle of shortening)

Combine flour, dry milk, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir together. Cut in shortening (I use 2 butterknives) until the mixture is smooth. Store in airtight container. If lard is used, refrigerate and use within a month (i used Crisco but still refrigerated the mix). Makes 12 cups of Master mix.

So here's a few ways how you can use it:
3 cups master mix
about 1/2 c water
Add water to mix, blend lightly with fok to form soft dough, turn on floured board, knead then roll or pat out to not less then 1/2 inch thick. Cut out circles and bake on cookie sheet about 450 for 10 min or so, good for shortcake too.

1 1/2 c master mix
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 c water 1 egg, beaten
Blend mix and sugar. Stir water and egg into mix until blended. Drop batter onto hot greased griddle, cook one side till puffy and full of bubbles then flip and cook other side. Makes 12 pancakes.
1 cup amaster mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 egg
1/4 cup water
Grease 8-inch sq. pan. Measure 1 c master mix into bowl, add margarine and work it in with clean hands or fork. Mix in sugar and cocoa. Add the egg and water. Beat 25 times. Pour into greased pan. Bake 20 min. at 350.

Coffee Cake:
3 cups master mix
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
3/4 c water

Measure 3 cups master mix into bowl. Add sugar, stir well. In smaller bowl mix egg and water together. Add this to the flour mixture all at once. Mix till blended. Pour into greased 9 inch baking pan and sprinkle with topping.
Topping: 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour, mix well till fine and crumbly and sprinkle over cake.
Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 min.
This is SO good.

I figure, while I'm not working in the office due to medical leave, and therefore sort of a homemaker (due to not having any other choice at the moment), I'll try to make the best of it. Coffee cake makes the house smell like Fall, anyway.

Enjoy, folks. Warm wishes.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

End of Summer Beach Day, Pics

Time to share some pics. We visited the beach (the REAL ACTUAL BEACH I say), which is 5 hours away in Shediac, NB, on Labor Day - the day just before school started. We had once chance to do this before life went back to normal, so we just packed up a picnic basket and took off at 5 am. This is a very big deal for kids who live closer to the woods than to the beach, ya know.
Here are some photos! And I have decided I'm going to move here someday. Totally.

Pensive PJ over a sandcastle in progress. (photo has been removed)

It was a perfect day but very, VERY windy. Ever have fried chicken, sliced cucumbers, potato salad and cream soda with a light topping of sand? MMMMM. :)

Nature Girl found a friend - I like to call him Hermit the Crab. he popped out for one second and I got the shot and then he was like OHH NOOO PEOPLE..... I'm going back in!!!!!

Quite amazingly, I found this rare species of Sand Mermaid washed up on the beach. She told me to take her picture and we have a 50/50 deal with the Weekly World News. Ha...

Me. Happy feet.

We had the infamous Sandy Picnic on the Beach, but I've removed that photo. It was all still good, let me tell ya.

PJ finding treasures on one of the many "islands".... there was even a live starfish and sand dollar.

Busy busy, and well-covered with sunscreen, while Mom and Dad relaxed on blankets.

My view of SmileyDad's day at the beach. :) I like this photo.

OK... my girls like to sew. Nature Girl, the oldest, hand-sewed this little critter on the drive down. Isn't he CUTE?? Of course she owns the "plushie-copyright"... she is very protective of her creations!

I LOVE this, a sign at the Big Stop rest area/gas station on the way home... for those of you who are not local, just a friendly reminder that MOOSE ARE BIGGER THAN CARS and like very much to cross the highway. :0)

And the most beautiful sunset over Western New Brunswick at twilight, on the drive home. A peaceful end to a lovely day.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share our photos!


Friday, September 11, 2009

We remember.

I was teaching preschool. September 11, 2001, mid-morning. A father dropping off a child told me some strange and offbeat comment (and I'm quoting here, please forgive the way he put it, it's just how I remember him saying it): he said to me at the front door of the school, "Oh those Arabs have done it now."

I could not understand what in the world he was talking about, and we had a wide variety of cultures in our little town, including some very nice families from middle-Eastern countries... what was he talking about?? His weird comment just did not make sense to me. Then, to my puzzled look, he told me what had just happened in NYC. And that it was an act of terrorism. Apparently from overseas.

I then had to keep it together and remain very calm and continue teaching, and arts and crafts, and snack time... basically act as though the world had not just changed... because 4-year-olds need comfort and familiarity, not chaos and worry.

Only when they had all gone home and I went home did I look at the news for the first time, and break down.

Where were you?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cat-sized rats and fanged frogs. Freaky.

GOOD MORNING! Want to start your day as freaked out as I am????

Well OK then! Here's a link to an article found this morning on sync.... about new species found living in a volcano... that had not been disturbed by humans in several thousands of years... and they found all these new species of parrots and spiders and lizards and rats in there! Spiders that can drop a net on you like freakin' Spider-Man! Tiny parrots only 9 cm tall! Are they making this up?? NOPE!

Giant rats, tiny parrots found in 'lost world'

Oh my gosh I hope this link works. Very, very cool stuff. If not, then go do a search for "Papua, New Guinea", or "40 new species in volcano".

It boggles the mind.



Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Did it.

"Harvesting Your Own Apples is Easy! Just find a Kid in your house who's willing to stand on a Wobbly Stool with an Old Rake and Knock them out of your Tree!" Ha.... I snapped this as PJ was trying to reach that ONE SPECIAL APPLE that she just had to get down. Oh and today was their first day back at school... YAY!!!!!

Well I actually did make my own granola bars, imagine that. Let me just say that this is not going to turn into an organic living/ cooking blog... I have enough of those that I like to read, no need to make another one myself, I figure. Besides I'd never have the mental capacity to maintain such a thing. :)
But I did want to do a little blip on these bars as they came out great (I ended up using the first recipe from the last post, the one that incorporates crispy rice cereal and mix-ins). I got reviews from the kids ranging from "They're OK" to "These are AWESOME!", so I guess they're good... I like them! Turns out the ones with raisins are the sweetest and chewiest.

Also wanted to brag on... ahem, I mean "share with folks"... the things I was able to make over the course of the weekend, using (drumroll please).... STUFF IN MY OWN YARD. Yeah, right, you say? Well sure! just keep reading! :) The bold type is all organic things growing in my yard (and maybe in yours)!

I got the little half-size snack bags and labeled them so we'd know which ones contained peanuts when it came time for school snacks. Yeah yeah... I'm using a lot of plastic, I know. But I have to pick my battles. At least I recycle everything I can, normally. We do have an allergic classmate so we (hopefully all the parents) are very careful no to send peanuts or tree nuts. Hence the labeling and separate preparation.

Ta-Da! Not too freaking bad, huh? They're all in the freezer now and we can pull them out as needed. Cool. I remember my mom used to make granola in the oven and I've never tried it, so I think I'll try that next time and bag it for cereal or snacking by the handful.

I've also looked up different tea-making sites (and I can assure you there are at least 179,502 out there) so I took the best complied info I could find, and went out to pick and dry my raspberry leaves for raspberry-leaf tea. Not to be confused with raspberry tea... the leaf-tea is pretty tasteless but has more benefits. I'd recommend that you look it up sometime for more details, but for me it helps my stomachaches that seem to accompany my neurological issues lately.

On top of the leaves is a bundle of dried dandelion root. Yes I DID go out in my yard and dig them up and tie them with a string like it was 1840. Oh I went there. I'm just that kind of girl. If the dandelion root (cleaned and dried) is ground up and steeped with the raspberry leaves and drunk three times a day or so (well who's got the time, but I drink it occasionally at night) it is purported to be a detoxifying, cleansing tea. I just like the taste of it with honey and it makes my tummyache better. :)

These apples, which after doing some research we believe to be New Brunswick apples, grow on two trees in my side yard. They have yielded about 3 large bowlfuls so far that were good to use, after peeling and cutting into 5000 tiny pieces to be sure there were no worms. I am very, VERY picky about my food. I have made two streudels and have frozen 2 bags of chopped pieces, and still have another large bowl to peel and freeze later! I can't believe we used to let so many of these drop and go to waste... we would just donate them to farm horses... this year we are making a daily effort to collect as many human-edible ones as we can, to freeze for later.

I just peel and chop and inspect them, then throw in a bowl with sugar and sometimes add any wild raspberries I found that day, toss around and they go into a freezer bag. Because.... what if it's February and I can't take the long cold winter for one more day or I'll absolutely lose my MIND unless I get some warm apple pie to remind me of summer????? Then I can pull some out and make it!


And I bring in any ready garden veggies daily, wash and leave them out for the kids to munch on, then I chop any remaining and freeze them for cooking later, or make them into soups. So far I've made 2 with chicken-broth base and pasta mixed in, and I made 4 with tomato/beef boullion broth and potatoes mixed in (along with the carrots, green beans, yellow beans, turnips, and peas). I seal them into glass jars re-used from spaghetti sauces..... but I learned the hard way that you have to let them cool ALL THE WAY before sealing and freezing or the jar cracks (in my case, it was two jars, dammit). So now I won't put them in warm again. OOPS.

These are the soup jars, veggie bags, granola bars, and apple-piece bags in my freezer. I also freeze lots of raspberries mixed with sugar or plain, to add to pies or muffins, breads, etc in a few months. OK so that's it!

Wish I had more "organic stuff" in my yard... or at least how to identify it... I'm still looking it all up so maybe I'll be able to make different teas once I'm 100% sure what I'd be picking is non-toxic - I don't want to learn THAT the hard way!

To those in my area - Hope you all had a good first-day-back-at-school day! I did! :)


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Ye Old Granola Barres

Wow, my 2nd post. How weird is that. I was up to like, 300 or something, oh well. Here we go again! Unfortunately I don't maintain any kind of blogroll (for lack of time and technological know-how) so I have no idea how to find those folks I love to read. So if you drop in please leave a comment, even if its only a tiny thing, so I can find you again, boo-hoo!!!

Yesterday we went to a tiny open-air market nearby, and there were about 10 tables lining the street. Not much but I had not gone yet this summer, and it was our 17th anniversary so... that's where I wanted to go! We got a bakers-dozen big sack of corn cobs, and a sack of new potatoes, and one very nice large onion. I don't need any crocheted slippers, hand carved furniture, or passport holders at this time. I'll come back if I do. I'm a simple girl.

One of my pet peeves is when you approach a table at any kind of craft fair, garage sale, market whatever, and the people start harping about the item you are looking at in non-stop sales-pitch make-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out vivid description. Leave us alone, I think, we're shopping! This is what I'm hearing: "Well you look for your passport and you can never find it and it's at the bottom of your purse and if you carry it in this little holder then you can always find it and blah blah blah....." OK, OK! Please stop! I truly understood your sign stating "passport holder" and I can see that you've put a lot of glue-gun time into these... but jeez, I can read! :)

Anyway, I'm probably done venting. We shall see.

So today the plans are to make home-baked school snacks, seeing as how I'll be home for the next month and trying to find ways to cut costs and provide more wholesome munchies for school. Did you know some granola bars contain more ingredients than an average bottle of shampoo?

So I looked up several recipes and I'm going to try my hand at these today. Most homemade granola bars are easy to bake and freeze for a long time if well sealed, and you can use home-made granola and throw in your own mix-ins like chocolate chips, or sunflower seeds, or honey, or peanuts, m&m's, raisins, dates, almonds, whatever. If you search for "granola bar recipes, you'll find a lot that have been tested and have photos or tutorials, and there is such a variety that there's bound to be something for every taste and for houses with allergy restrictions. Here are a few I liked:

~The Supper Sisters' recipe, which mixes in crispy rice with the granola and mix-ins...
~The Half-Assed Kitchen with a great granola recipe for cereal or to make into bars, why not...
~Good natural granola recipe from Kiss My Spatula (I like how they use lot of organics, and you may only need to bake for 20 min instead of 30, fyi)
~This granola bar recipe from Pennies On A Platter (via Barefoot Contessa from the credit given on her page)... I like this one because you don't need to make the granola beforehand and can substitute condensed milk for honey if allergies can't work with honey.... the only thing that raised an eyebrow was the wheat germ in here. I don't usually have wheat germ in the house however, so here are things that Mr. Internet told me you can substitute for the wheat germ: ground flax, ground t'eff (or flour), ground Kasha (buckwheat), brown rice cereal, or ground chia seeds. Or just leave it out.

So off I go to try these out.... think I'll try each bar recipe and see which ones we like more. I've got a bag of trail mix ready to be thrown in too. :) Hope you all have a nice Labor Day... tomorrow we go to the beach for our last-blast picnic! Take care!


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Fresh slate.

To those who may be alarmed at seeing my blog gone... I've made the decision to delete all previous posts, and start fresh. Circumstances beyond my control. I also luckily remembered to save it all, so it's not so bad.

**Anyway**, I'll still be here from time to time with updates and assorted ramblings. I'm not going anywhere. I'll also update when the neurologist gives me some kind of confirmed news after reading the EEG. So far all i know is that the lab tech said the scan showed I was sleeping several times during the test, when in fact I remained awake and alert. So.. we now check for anything seizure- or narcolepsy- related.

Thanks for those who pop in to check on my little corner of the world from time to time. I'll be back soon.