Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Quilt Storage Solution

The thing I love about quilts is that they are like a magnet...get one out and everyone wants to snuggle in them.  The thing I don't like so much about quilts is that all the pets love them too!  So if you leave a quilt out on the couch from where you were watching tv last night or something, there's a very strong chance that in the morning it will have dog hair, cat hair or both all over it....

Naturally, if you remember to put away the quilts in between usage, you don't have to worry about it, right? But we never really had a good place to put them (plus all the other snuggly blankets....I mean the built-ins only hold so much, right?).

To PINTEREST, HO!

There were a lot of options, quilts draped over ladders, repurposed airmoirs/dressers to hold/display, baskets on the floor, etc... but all had some down side...rustic ladders don't really blend with this modern-ish decor, I'm not adding more furniture to the space and a basket on the floor would just entice the kittens to sit in it even more!

One thing I kept thinking about was our entry room cloak closet...it's a very deep closet that's built under the stairs with just a single hanging rod in the middle.  We make good use of the sloping space behind the rod by storing our 10 pieces of luggage back there, but other than that..there's some good room in there.

Finally, I came up with an idea based on some things I saw on Pinterest that I thought was:
1. Easy and simple enough that I could actually do it
2. Solved the problem and used minimal space
3. Cheap
4. and I could acquire any materials I needed from ONE trip to Home Depot and what I had in the garage.

The idea actually came from looking at horse saddle and pad storage!  There was a PVC option (and you know how I love working with PVC) but then an even simpler one using a towel rack. A towel rack? I thought. PERFECT. Surely I can install a simple towel rack...even though I've never actually used any of the 3 drills we have in the garage, nor messed with dry wall anchors nor stud finders. But how bad could I mess it up really? It was going on the inside of the closet, so if it was really bad, no one would hardly see it anyway.




So..after a trip to Home Depot where I selected very simple towel rods and holders (I figured I didn't need anything fancy or ornate since once the quilts were on it you weren't going to see it and when the quilts were off the closet would be closed anyway, right? So, for $9/each I got 2 rods and all the installation hardware needed. Grabbed some tools from the garage and I was ready to go:



After some extensive measuring (and side comments to Shay and Reese explaining how I was using math in my project as they were working on some school work), some quick research on how to use a drill, stud finder and dry wall anchors (thank you interwebs!). I dove in. And turned out to be SUPER EASY!!  I'm so excited! The boys came over to check out my handiwork and gave me high fives all around.

Here I now have a place to store my quilts when not in use, where they will be very accessible by the humans and safe from all the non-approved pet snuggling! TA-DA! Yay Pinterest!






Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Being Significant

I struggle every damn day trying not to value myself by the size of my paycheck. The Mommy Wars are real and not just between the moms, but a strong, daily, intense internal battle for this particular mom.  Currently, I'm choosing to work on projects that do not pay in money. But that can be hard when much of the world (and yourself) equates value to financial value. I DO believe power and success is creating opportunities to have a choice...regardless of which way you choose. And yes, there is also a level of fortune, but fortune favors the prepared, no?

There are many nights I toss and turn, sleepless, wondering if I'm making the right decisions for my life right now...am I doing the right thing for me, for my kids, for my family, for my part in this crazy world?

And sometimes...if you listen...sometimes the world answers you back.

At our cast party for Riverplace Student Theater's production of Aladdin this week, I got an answer.

Unbeknownst to me and my partner in crime, Creative Director, Kristina Rehling, some of the parents and kids got together to prepare something special for us at the cast party.  Even Devon was in on it, and some how, he managed to keep the secret.

Jill Sheppard, a parent of a young girl who has been a part of the theater program from Kindergarten to a graduating 5th grader began by speaking to us. She thanked us for our years of service, for sharing our gifts with the children....but the thing she mentioned that stuck with me the most was "not only are you successful but SIGNIFICANT. Because our kids knew you, they have been changed for good. Thank you."

And then this happened:



Lyrics from "For Good" from Wicked:

I've heard it said That people come into our lives for a reason Bringing something we must learn
And we are led To those who help us most to grow If we let them And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true But I know I'm who I am today Because I knew you…
Like a comet pulled from orbit As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you I have been changed for good

It well may be That we will never meet again In this lifetime So let me say before we part
So much of me Is made of what I learned from you You'll be with me Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end I know you have re-written mine By being my friend…
Like a ship blown from its mooring By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you
Because I knew you I have been changed for good 

And just to clear the air I ask forgiveness For the things I've done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know There's blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore...

Like a comet pulled from orbit As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder Halfway through the wood
Like a ship blown from its mooring By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood

Who can say if I've been Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been Changed for the better
And because I knew you… Because I knew you…
Because I knew you...I have been changed for good…

Thank you to all the parents and kids of the theater program as well as my friends and family who support me in this crazy endeavor. This has definitely been a valuable and rewarding life experience.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup


For the past 3 years I make an emergency text to my friend Tamara, to get the recipe she shared with me 4 years ago for this turkey tortilla soup that was delicious and most importantly EASY!

I figured I need to put it some place where I can get to it after each holiday instead of bugging her again..and again...and again!!

Ingredients:
  • Leftover turkey carcass with some turkey meat left on it
  • Chicken broth (low sodium)
  • Regular size can of Rotel
  • Can of Black Beans (low sodium) -drained
  • 1/2 Large onion - diced
  • Avocado - diced
  • Poultry seasoning/rub
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese



  • Put turkey carcass in crockpot with enough chicken broth to cover most of it. Cook on high for several hours until remaining turkey falls easily off the bone. I stirred occasionally and helped break the carcass up a bit. Sprinkled some poultry rub in for a little extra seasoning.
  • Remove turkey bones, use slotted spoon to get the little pieces.
  • Add in Rotel, drained black beans, onion cook for 3-4 hours on lowland let all the stuff meld together (the longer the more tastier it got!)
  • To serve: I like pouring mine over a handful of tortilla strips then garnished with avocado, and some shredded cheese

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Break String Art

While planning some spring break activities for me and the boys, I came across a string art project on Pinterest and thought it would be someething cool and fun for us to try. I remember doing this type of project as a kid (maybe Girl Scouts or something?)

I mean, boards, hammers, nails --- what's not for the boys to like??

We began with a trip to Hobby Lobby..(and following my friend Holly McKee's suggestion) downloaded the iPhone app and found some great coupons to use!  I let the boys pick out their boards, board colors and string colors. (Ok, so I may have picked up a few other items for another project I've got my eye one...coming soon!)
Next, we decided on what we were going to put on the board. Devon immediately called for his "signature symbol"...which we then found out was a dog paw print. Shay, somewhat non-enthusiastic about this particular project acquiesced with his name, and I choose...the M-Dot. (Well since I'm not getting a tattoo, I just put it everywhere else I could find.)

Using Powerpoint, I made copies of the images and sized them for each board, printed them out and then we we had all our materials ready to go. (For all my uber Type-A friends, I suppose you COULD create your template with marks for all the nails so they are perfectly spaced and geometrically aligned...but we were just going to roll with whatever the boys came close to here. Fun...not perfection.)

First we painted the boards, then let them dry. Those cheap little foam brushes work really well for distributing the paint evenly.
Then we simply placed the templates on the boards. I nailed in the corners for the boys, so the template would be in a good place to start and then they hammered in the nails by simply following the lines on the paper.  I've seen some tutorials where you can cut out the shape and then nail just around the outside of the shapes....but that seemed like a lot of extra prep time, and we're looking for fun, not perfection here.

Here's Devon is response to Shay making some comment about his technique:

Here's a look at my template with all the nails put in:
Next we began the stringing process. The fun thing about this, is you can't really mess it up. Choose a specific pattern, go zigzag or just willy-nilly....it all comes out great! Even the little guys can do it! (Boco was providing supervision.)
The nice thing about string, is you can start and stop as needed. Just tie off, when you need to take a break and then begin again! In the end, everyone did a great job and it was a fun activity for the afternoon!
Here are our finished versions:



FUN!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Village for Kate


Last week we lost a friend and neighbor in a terrible accident on 2222. That road continues to be a source of tragedy for those who use it regularly.  As with most tragedies, there is a deep sadness and loss….but this one particularly hit close to home with me and in a way I wasn’t really expecting.

Barb was a neighbor and acquaintance, but most relevant to me, was that she was the mother of one of my cheerleaders. I knew her as the supportive mother who had encouraged her very shy and athletic daughter to join cheerleading with some of her other considerably more extroverted friends.  In the beginning in practice and games, Kate was most likely to voluntarily stand in the back row, her cheer voice could not be heard above the other girls and her motions were good but tentative. It was exciting to see throughout the season, her growth and development, not just as an athlete, but as little girl gaining confidence in herself, day by day. By the end of the season, you could always count on her to be where she was supposed to, she was always willing to play whatever role she was asked and lo and behold, she would actually smile and her face would light up with enthusiasm, especially when she saw her parents watching her.

Following the accident, I reminisced about those days and was so deeply saddened to know that Kate would not get to see her mother’s smile cheering her on, clapping exuberantly as she tackled and overcame new obstacles, garnered new successes and continued to develop, mature and become the wonderful woman we are all sure she will become.  How do you tell a little 11-year old girl that Mommy’s not coming back?

Eleven is such an influential time in a young girl’s life. The impact of her mother’s death will be immeasurable. Kate will never again be the Kate who woke up Tuesday morning, hugged and kissed her mom as she left for school. She has by a quick stroke of fate been ushered hurriedly and unwantedly into a new life. I feel such grief for the loss of her mother Barb, but I feel even more for the loss of that other Kate.

I don‘t know that there are any words to soothe her, and hugs that will make her feel better. How do you tell her you know it’s going to be very hard and it is going to hurt so badly, but you hope that somehow, some way, she will find her way through these toughest of times?  Does she need to know that her life will never be the same, but she will make it and she will make her mother proud?

When I saw her yesterday outside on the steps following her mother’s reception, I had no idea what I was going to say or what I was going to do. I simply scooped her into my arms and hugged her tight. I told her I was so sorry. I felt her nod quietly in my chest. I said “Be Brave…..and when you can’t or don’t want to, come find me and we’ll be brave together.” We squeezed each other a little tighter for a little bit longer and then I let go. I didn’t want her to see me cry. I want to be a place where she can come for support. Someone who can be strong when she can’t be.

In many cultures, children are collectively raised by the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and all the women of the village. I know Barb has lots of wonderful women friends, many who are much closer to her families’ lives than I am. I know that we will all come together and support Barb’s family, not just in this immediate crisis, but as a stabilizing force moving forward.

It takes a village. I will be in that village for Kate.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Resolution: Do Something with the Holiday Cards!

Just do SOMETHING with THEM already...sheesh!

I absolutely LOVE getting photo holiday cards from friends and family over the years, but I never know what to do with them. For a couple of years, I tried to be crafty and I made a Holiday Scrapbook for each year...but that was EXHAUSTING. And really, as much as I've tried, I'm just not a scrapbooker....I wish I was, but it's time to face facts. I'm just not....and I'm (sorta) ok with that.

So after those couple of years, I just kept holding on to the cards because I knew I wanted to do SOMETHING with them, but couldn't figure out what!

Enter.....PINTEREST!! omg. I've just recently joined and I'm having so much fun being inspired and getting some really creative and most importantly EASY things to do for the craft-challenged.

Over the holidays, I came across this pin:





 
..and I thought...HEY! I can totally manage that!!

So, I grabbed my various boxes of cards and my friendly neighborhood helper, and set to work:
The only thing I had to run to the store for was the binder rings...everything I had stashed somewhere in the house.

The kids and I had a blast looking at all the old cards and remarking on how the kids and families have grown over the years.  So, if you've sent me a holiday card over the last 8, yes EIGHT years.... we gotcha covered!!



This was really fun and I've already had a few guests comment on how great they turned out! I'm so excited! I can't wait to make them part of my Holiday Decor next season! So, now if I can do it..I know YOU can do it too!!

Happy Holidays!

(maybe next Christmas, I'll actually send OUT holiday cards.....baby steps, baby steps.)

2013 Resolution: Cook More!!


It was one of those days where I just didn't feel like leaving the house again, especially to battle the grocery store. (Tell me you don't have any of those kinds of days....) But it was a good day to actually cook, since we were all home together without any evening activities.

So there I am doing the thing I holler at the kids for doing....standing with both the freezer and the fridge door wide open, just staring....hmmmm...what do I have in here that I can cook?

Shrimp! I have shrimp! ..and sundried tomatoes (recently found how yummy these are! Super delish on sandwiches...) ...and surely I have some pasta.... (hurdle over Ohso who thinks the best place to park herself is in the middle of wherever I am...)...stare into pantry.....YES! I have pasta! Perfect!

Grab fancy new iPad I got for Christmas, google search: Shrimp sundried tomato pasta.....and BOOM!!

Found this great recipe...that had me at "EASY".

SPICY SHRIMP and SUN-DRIED TOMATO PASTA
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 4 large shallots, sliced
  • 3/4 cup sliced drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 12-ounce package linguine
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preparation

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sauté until pink, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to medium bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to same pot. Add shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic, lemon peel, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until shallots are soft, about 4 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and simmer until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Mix in basil. Return shrimp and any juices to sauce; stir to heat through, about 1 minute.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender, but still firm to bite. Drain. Add pasta to sauce. Toss over medium heat until sauce coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl; top with cheese

Find the complete Recipe and Reviews on Epicurious!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was, in fact, relatively easy. I made a few minor mistakes...er...changes.

I sauteed the shrimp with the olive oil AND the garlic. Just seemed like the more appropriate thing to do. The sauce was a little spicy...ok for grown ups, but the kids did not like it at all. Maybe a little less red pepper flakes next time? And I didn't have any shallots, or olives and feta cheese (which I don't like anyway), so I just skipped those parts. :)  ....and ok, truth be told, I didn't have any canned diced tomatoes technically...so I used Ro-tel!

Other than that...it was YUMMY!!! ..and most importantly EASY! I think it was relatively healthy as well? Worst part was probably just the pasta. Was going to start go with our whole wheat pasta but didn't have enough for everyone, so ended up using a package of bowtie that was in the pantry.