Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not judgin'-just sayin'

I just had to walk to another building on campus, taking me by a smoker's outdoor alcove. Two ladies were smoking and having a conversation. One of the ladies was complaining about a product she had tried that "was supposed to soothe my throat but didn't do a damn bit of good." And then she took a good long drag on her ciggy. I'm not judging; I'm just saying.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunshine and flowers

The sunshine is really helping with the depression I've been feeling of late. It's still cold here in central OH, but I can deal with it as long as I don't have the battle gray days, too. We went to COSI Saturday to see a dolphin movie on the Extreme Screen (some 67 feet tall!), and Scott's Lawn Care was hosting a theme day at the Center. They were giving away little flower greenhouses. BonnieBlue got a zinnia that we planted Sunday morning. I forgot to take pix, but I'll try to remember to today so we can track its growth. I love zinnias.

Last week I posted on facebook about the difficulty of being a Buckeye hosting a party because of the lack of appetizing scarlet and gray food. Now that the Bucks lost, I don't need to worry about hosting a party. Not that I would have. But sometimes it's nice to think about.

BonnieBlue's birthday came and went, relatively fulfilling for her (I think). I have a friend who moved to Atlanta within the past year, and in keeping with the "Gone With the Wind" theme, she'll be known as Aunt Piddy. You know who you are.

Aunt Piddy sent BonnieBlue a birthday card. Quite the involved birthday card. It had a princess theme with little windows you could open that held glittery stickers that you can use to decorate little cardboard jewelry. She also tucked 2 sheets of princess stickers into the card that also had a laminated pull-out background to put the stickers on.  BonnieBlue is crazy for stickers.

I would like for Aunt Piddy to consider this an official "shout out" thank you. You see, part of my self-directed therapy for my current depression is taking some things off my own plate, and thank you cards are one of the items coming off my to-do list for awhile. I still haven't finished the Christmas ones. I can't wait till BonnieBlue is old enough to write her own. Anyway, thanks Aunt Piddy, for loving our little BB like one of your own. It means a great deal to us. 

Another fun thing that Rhett did this month was bring home a huge box from the hospital and told BB they were going to make a barn. So last week (maybe 2 weeks ago?) they painted it red.

 She took her job very seriously.

So did Rhett. He needs to learn that letting a 4-year-old paint means there will be some mess. After this shot, he cut doors in and figured out a roof. I was told that it's my job to paint the white trim. Maybe after it gets a bit warmer!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm not cut out for blogging

You see, I don't so much enjoy the "every-day-ness" of blogging (and therefore; do not do it everyday; have you noticed?). I have a mental list of things I hate doing everyday that I don't so much mind doing on any one individual day. Seriously, if it has to be done--or should be done--everyday, I get all twitchy about it.

When Rhett and I were first married, we used to have a paper route that really wasn't so bad, but I figured out pretty early on that what I didn't like about it was that it had to be done everyday. Hence, the term "every-day-ness." The killer was days that it rained--and I mean poured buckets--and the one winter that the snow was up to my thighs. Oh, and the winters when it was below or close to zero degrees outside. But you know, delivering papers in the summer is not bad at all.

I finally walked away from it and told him I couldn't do it anymore. He kept it up for about another year.

As a result, I do only those things daily that I absolutely must. It's also why I think I like teaching so much; no two days alike in my job!

So anyway, here's that list of things that I dislike merely because of the every-day-ness of them:
1. brushing my teeth
2. washing my face
3. making my child's lunch/meals
4. making dinner
5. checking my email (I try really hard not to on Sundays, but usually I do just so I don't have a hundred to deal with on Monday)
6. praying (I know, crazy, right? I should love doing this!)
7. reading scriptures (see parenthetical insert to #6)
8. cleaning my kitchen (to be fair, Rhett will occasionally do this and do a much better job than I do, but man, this chore is Sisyphean to me (impressed with that reference aren't ya'?!)

I'm sure there's more, but I'm tired.

I'm feeling so overwhelmed with work and life and everything. My usuals arent' working: to-do lists, prioritizing, scheduling an occasional "no meeting" day to try to get through a bunch of my to-do items, daily exercise (even if it's just a 15 min walk), etc. My insomnia is becoming more frequent and it's getting harder to get out of bed, which for me are the tell-tale signs that the stress is overtaking me. I talked to a colleague today as we were walking out of work, and he brought up the issue of a breakdown. I told him I was about to have mine anyday and he shared that he had one last week. His doctor has him on a heart monitor now and anti-anxiety medication. Yikes. I think I'm going to schedule an appt. to see a therapist before I lose it.

Well, now, isn't that a happy end note?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Art Quilter Jackie is doing another giveaway!

And these fabrics are even prettier than the last ones!  Click HERE to go to her blog.
By the way, she's trying to get 150 followers before the end of March, so head over there. I follow very few blogs (5, I think), though I stalk quite a few. I think her work/art is cool. Read the March 14 entry to see some examples, but be sure to read the sweet story that inspired the last quilt pictured. I admit, I teared up a bit.

Trailer for Who Does She Think She is

I don't know why I didn't think to embed the trailer for Who Does She Think She is in my last post, so here it is.

I found out that the Columbus PBS stations aren't airing the documentary. Cleveland is though. If you want to see if your public television station is airing it, you need to check their website(s).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who Does She Think She Is?

 You HAVE to check this out!

I'm not usually so didatic about most things, but this will inspire you, make you proud to be a creative woman (especially if you have a child or children), and of course, it will make you think.

It's a documentary called, "Who Does She Think She Is?" Wonderful. W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! Here's the website:  http://www.whodoesshethinksheis.net/ . At;least watch the intro trailer. It's supposed to be on PBS soon, but I can't find it on their site. See if your library has it, and if they don't, ask them to buy it. It'd be great for universities to have it, too.

The reason I got interested in it is because a friend is one of the featured artists. Janis is the ceramics artist. Her work is...well...unusual would be a good word. I didn't fully understand it until I became a mom. Here's the one piece I have of hers.

See what I mean about unusual? It speaks to me about the unspoken, verboten even, duality of motherhood, how I can go from wanting to smother my child with kisses to smothering her with a pillow in seconds. That pillow thought doesn't occur often, and of course I would NEVER act on it (so don't be calling Child Protective Services), but when I'm lacking sleep and she's being a typical irrational child, I'm on the edge. I'm just saying, we all have our moments, and this is the artistic embodiment of that moment. Her art is about her interpretation of motherhood in the context of her life. I wish I had the words to describe her and her art.

Most of her work is considerably larger than my piece. Check out her site: http://www.janismarswunderlich.com/ .

I heard years ago that Demi Moore bought one of her pieces. Not that that legitimizes her art, but it is pretty cool.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Birthday-St. Pat's day classroom treat

I couldn't get it together in time for Friday, so BonnieBlue will take in a birthday treat to her school friends on Monday.

Her preschool 'prefers' that birthday treats be prepacked/store-bought in some way so that they can be sent home. I'm not sure if it's the nutrition factor or the uncertainty of the the hygienic conditions of homemade stuff (though they don't seemed concerned when it comes to class parties).

Since it's close to St. Pat's day, I thought I'd get my crafty on and paint a bunch of small baby food jars black to evoke a pot and add gold foil-covered chocolate coins so that each child could take home a "pot o'gold."  Then I went to the party store and found a package of 12 plastic pots for $1.99. So far so good.

Unfortunately, the coins were six for $1.99 and I estimated I needed about 6-7 per pot. Too rich for my blood, so I bought only one package (to use for her teachers on the tops of their pots) and filled them with Hershey's Kisses (gold foil-almond) and Rolos. Pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

I made little tags out of cardstock with the foil shamrocks you see there in the background. They say, "Lucky you, it's my birthday - Lucky me, you're my friend!" I wrote "teacher" instead of friend for the teacher pots.

I sometimes think about how she won't remember these kinds of things at her age, and hope that when she's older and will remember that I'll still find the time to do them. I also want her to have these kinds of things to remember me by, should I die while she's young (not an outrageously unlikely event given my age and bout with breast cancer). As I said in my last post, I remember fondly my mom making our birthday cakes. I also remember that she loved holidays and would mark/celebrate them in some way. Good memories.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No more store-bought birthday cake!

BonnieBlue will be four this Sunday.

I promised myself when we adopted BonnieBlue that I would NEVER buy her a store-bought birthday cake. One of my fondest memories of my mother is that she made our birthday cakes for us. Sometimes quite cool; more often just a 9x11 inch single layer with "Happy Birthday [name]!" That's a memory I hold dear.
Didn't take long to cave on that promise to myself (as is true with oh-so-many of those). I made her first birthday cake. I've tried to find a picture; I know I took one. But I can't find it. No biggie. It was a typical 9x11 with pink and cream (store-bought) icing. Her second birthday, though, was a bit of an event. I was extremely busy that year, so a friend offered to throw her the party and another friend offered to buy the cake. God bless such dear friends.

But never again, I said that year. So here is her 3rd birthday cake.

Yeah, I know. I rocked the house with this cake. It's Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. I think I blogged about it, but I'm too lazy to check. Although, maybe I haven't been blogging that long. I think I took step-by-step pics, so I'd be happy to provide a tutorial if anyone cares. Here's a close(r)-up with a screen shot I used as a model.

She didn't even like dolls, but I'm an overachiever sometimes.

I almost caved again this year. I was going to "cheat" by buying a Costco round layer cake and just put tiny horses on top (she's nuts about horses, thanks to me...I've encouraged this, being a horse-nut myself).
These Costco cakes are supposed to be so good, some people buy them as their wedding cakes. Well, I went earlier this week to price them but couldn't bring myself to buy such a huge cake! BonnieBlue's party will be very small this year: Grandma, Uncle JoJo, one friend and that friend's parents, and us. The Costco cake could feed 20, easily. Also, it was $17.99. Yikes.

So I went to Kroger. $7.99 for a single-layer chocolate cake. Now, I can make a cake for less than that (mix= $.99, 2 tubs of store-bought icing @$2.39 each for a total of  $5.77), but factor in my time and it'd be well worth the price. But when push came to shove, I just couldn't do it. I want homemade birthday cakes to be one of our family traditions.

So here's what I did.

I made 2 round cakes. I used wax paper for easy removal and low crumbing. I froze the cakes for 3 hours. This step is critical. Reduces the crumbing and you can handle them easily.

Cakes tend to mound when they bake. I remember my mom dropping a cake pan with batter in it from waist high to the floor to 'flatten' out the batter. I don't know if it worked, but I've taken on the habit. Only I drop it onto the counter, though. Unfortunately, the cakes still 'mounded.' So I shaved off the mound (that's what you see in the foreground here). Bonus, though, as frozen devil's food cake is awesome! It may go on my island. See earlier post here called My Food Island (from Wed. Feb. 9 of this year).

I placed the first layer top-side down for a flat surface to sit the top layer on. I used store-bought tub icing (homemade icing is not at all my forte), in this case Betty Crocker milk chocolate made with Hershey's. I am not an icing person, but I was eating this from the tub. Yes, it's that good. I iced the top of the bottom layer to the edge. I placed the second layer top-side up so that it was flat surface facing flat surface. This is important for when the cake warms to room temp. This reduces the chance the top layer will slide around (and possibly off), which by the way my catered wedding cake did.

When you bake round cakes in wax paper, the edges aren't smoothly round so sometimes I take a knife and round off the sides of the cake. You would do ths step after assembling the layers. A frozen cake makes this much easier and less messy (those pesky crumbs, you know). But given I was mimicking a field or meadow or something, I didn't mind the rustic nature of not-so-even edges. Besides, icing can really mask that flaw.

The other tub of icing was fluffy white. I colored about half of it green to mimic grass for my horses and iced the top of the cake. Then I took the rest of the chocolate icing and iced the sides. I have learned not to be a perfectionist when it comes to icing a cake. I am all about it actually looking homemade.

I'd been trying to figure out a way to make a fence. I'm not happy with what I came up with, but hey, she's four. She's not gonna' care. Rhett made a comment when it was done and I about knifed him with butter knife I used to ice the cake. I reminded him that a husband's job was to be supportive when wifey is being creative, and he apologized quickly, adding an appropriately appreciative remark.
 Here's the completed cake:

I had to abbreviated 'birthday' because I hadn't planned on writing on it. And the gel stuff was a little too thin to be neat; I am actually quite adept at writing with an icing bag, but again, she's four, what will she care. I also don't have the energy or know-how to fuzz out her name, so oh well, anonymity foiled for this entry.

It's not a doll cake, but it's homemade, and truth be told, looks a heckuva lot better in person.

I swear, if this child as an adult doesn't say a hundred times how much she loved it that her mom made her homemade birthday cakes, I'm going to haunt her.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jackie's Art Quilts fabric give-away

I am amusing myself by signing up for give-aways on blogs that I find through my friend, Mama Pea at peas-in-a-pod. The amusing part is that the bloggers doing the give-away ask that you blog about the give-away on your blog, but Mama Pea is the only regular reader so there's some kind of internal blog cycle going on with this approach. Poor bloggers aren't really getting anything 'value-added' from me. Mama Pea was on a win streak to envy a few months ago; it seemed like everyday she was posting about a give-away she won. If I were her, I would have booked tickets for Vegas and headed west. But she's responsible and has a job, hubby, and kid and all. Plus, she quilts or crafts like, EVERYDAY! I'm lucky if it get to it once a month. Anyway, her streak inspired me, so I entered the give-away, hence I'm blogging about it.

It's Jackie's blog-i-versary (one year) at Jackie's Art Quilts (kudos to Jackie for a pithy blog title) so she's giving away some fabric to some lucky winner. She has a laudable goal, also: to get 150 followers. I dig art quilts, though I prefer folk art quilts (along the lines of Gee's Bend quilts), so I'm going to follow for awhile to see what she's up to. Here's the fabric:

It sure is purty.

Blogger is acting up again, allowing only one picture per blog entry, so this is the one picture I get. I wonder what I did this time. Of course, you get what you pay for.

I do have a URL that I bought years ago for about $9 and have been renewing every year. It's called behaviormodcast.com. I'm a behavior analyst (in the loosest sense of the word) and had this idea when I was hired for my first job post-ph.d. in academia to do a podcast making behavior analysis accessible to the masses. Ha. That was before I realized that (a) there is no time during your first few year as an assistant professor to do ANYTHING other than teach and write, and (b) it would do nothing to help me gain tenure. My idea: 15 minute conversations with other behavior analysts talking about common behavior scenarios (in school, at work, at home) and some succinct explanations of why they might be happening and how maybe to "fix" them. But really, it's not that easy. Behavior is never that easy. But I still have hope that it might work. But now it's a post-tenure kind of thing - see (b) above.

So, since I can't add any cute pictures of my child, I shall end here. Ta for now, reader(s).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blog stalking adventures

Most of the amazing quilting blogs I find, I find through my friend, Mama Pea over at Peas in a Pod. Today, I found another one, called Pleasant Home. Mama Pea wins just about every give-away she enters, so I thought I might give one a try and see if the luck rubs off. Check out this adorable quilt (and the adorable story that goes along with it).
from pleasanthome.com
Since Mama Pea is my only reader, Jo at Pleasant Home won't get much mileage out of my post, but I get another entry into her give-away by posting. So there.