Monday, November 28, 2011

The Top Bunk

This is what the girl's bed normally looks like:

All those fuzzy friends tend to hide my handiwork though, so today while she was at school I climbed aboard the top bunk, pitched her pals to the floor, and proceeded to cram myself into some uncomfortably tight corners in order to take the following pictures:This is my first crocheted blanket and it only took me about 8 months to complete. Although in my defense, there were a few months where I didn't work on it at all. It's done in a double crochet stitch which I learned via a YouTube video.

Like all my work, this blanket isn't perfect, but I'm okay with that. I've long since learned that if I waited for my work to be perfect, I'd get nothing done. The gauge is off, especially towards the bottom so the blanket isn't exactly square and the edges are not as straight as I'd like them to be. (How to make perfectly straight edges was in the second part of the YouTube video and I only felt the need to watch the first half.)

But you know, every problem has a solution and if I tuck the sides under like so...........

My shoddy work is hidden and no one is the wiser!

I also made the girl this pillowcase:

Initially the plan was to have the blanket and the pillowcase done at the same time, but the blanket took a bit longer than I expected so she's been using the pillow for months now.

Now, minus the sheets, the girl's bed stuffs are almost all handmade. Well, except for the fuzzy friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Problem of Too Much

The main thing my son wanted for Christmas was a new Ipod. His old one has been temperamental for a few months now and in his mind it was time for an upgrade. We told him we'd make it happen but the rest of his gifts would be unexciting, things like games the whole family can enjoy or stuff I would have bought anyway like clothes and shoes.

Being the type of person that I am, I had our Christmas shopping done weeks ago. In fact, the main reason we had to get a tree as early as we did was because I needed a place to put the gifts. The arrival of the new Ipod under the tree came about three days after the old one died for good and at the exact same time the boy began to beg to open one of his gifts (can you guess which one?) early.

Jay and I put up the fight for a while but eventually caved on the one condition that the boy act super thrilled when he opened all of his non-Ipod related gifts on Christmas morning. The boy ripped into his package, set everything up, and began to download all of his songs. But then something went wrong. The Ipod seemed fine but not even half of his music library would download. Out of over 100 songs, he was only able to get 11. My first thought was Wow! We've shelled out a lot of money in the last year and a half funding this kid's love of shitty music. (Such as My Balls. Click it, you know you want to. Actually, it is kinda funny.) My second thought was Fuck! The one thing my kid wanted and we can't even get it to function properly. The next day and a half was spent Google-ing the problem and trying out different solutions. Eventually, we found the source of the issue and everything was fine but over that day and a half I was so stressed out. I just wanted everything to be easy and I wanted my son to enjoy his gift.

This was when it occurred to me how much I've come to hate stuff. Not all stuff and not all the time, but I hate it when I get stressed out about stuff. I hate when stuff distracts me from more important things like my kids or my husband. Or myself. I hate it when I just want to relax but I find myself having to deal with stuff.

A few years back Daphne posted about some new electronics gadget she had gotten and how she couldn't get it to work properly. I forget the specifics of the post and I'm quite sure that I'm completely paraphrasing (sorry Daph!) but I remember her mentioning that basically this was a problem stemming from having too much as opposed to the bigger problem of having too little. That stuck with me.

Here's the thing: I know that I have a lot less than a lot of people. I'm no longer a home owner. We're saving for a second car. My savings account isn't as substantial as I would like it to be. Yet, most of the everyday irritation in my life comes from too much or stuff.

As I get older I realize that the things that are making me the happiest are usually not related to stuff. The other night I spent four hours at a non impressive restaurant because I loved being with the people I was with and the conversation was so good that I didn't want the night to end. This Thanksgiving my family will be celebrating at the home of another family, we'll all be sharing the holiday. Together. I have friends to call, friends to write to, friends to send care packages to, and friends to email. I truly, genuinely love all of the people in my life right now.

When I think about it that way, who needs stuff?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Tree-2011

Don't tell us it's too early to go cut down a Christmas Tree. Last year we did it right around this time too, but for some reason this year we had a hard time finding a place open and ready for tree selling.

We ended up at a Christmas shop/tree farm not far from where I work.The shop was at the bottom of a very steep hill, a hill we had to climb in order to pick our tree.It didn't take us long to find the one we loved.The girl is completely infected with holiday spirit. She loves everything about this time of year. The boy of course likes it too, but more for the gimme-gimme aspect. (Side note: The boy isn't in any of these pictures because he chose to spend the day with his friends rather than us. I didn't really mind at the time, but now that I look at these pictures, it feels as if something is missing. In general, I usually enjoy watching my kids grow up and I love how every year they become more and more independent, but sometimes, every once in a while, it hits me that I'm not number one in his life anymore.)

Random picture of me, taken by the girl.

She always seems to take nice pictures, without putting much thought at all into it. Maybe the secret to good photography really is just to point and shoot.

Later that night, when the whole family was back together, we were able to decorate the tree. Everyone was in a good mood and it felt like the perfect beginning to the holiday season.
Jay's pal, Jesus, even made an appearance:
Yes, Jesus, indeed it is.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Orange Cheesecake

This is the Pumpkin-Orange Cheesecake from a recent issue of Sunset Magazine, which I do not subscribe to but fortunately for me, Jay's dentist does.

There are many very fatty, very bad for you things in this cheesecake, but you only live once. Indulge. You can't tell by the picture, but it also has a caramel topping.

This is only the second time I've made cheesecake. (You can read about the first time here.) I always anticipate cheesecake making to be much scarier and harder than it ends up being. I think a lot of folks feel that same way and are hesitant to make their own. I get that. Cheesecake ingredients can be pricey and no one wants to spend that money only to end up with something inedible. So they go out and buy some grocery store garbage cheesecake.

But I'm here to dispel the myths. Cheesecake making is tedious and usually takes a few hours, but it's not hard. You can do this. Don't fear the cheesecake.

The recipe can be found here. And, yes, I have a ding bat plate.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween

My October 31st couldn't have been better. I swapped shifts with a co-worker and worked six days last week just so that I could have the entire day off to spend with friends and family.

I took the girl to school and then walked to my pal Kim's house and we set about de-cluttering her kitchen. Does it sound crazy that we had a blast doing this? We drank coffee, chatted, and listened to 70's music. Five hours and four trash bags later, Kim had counter space to spare and a liquor cabinet she could actually get to. What more do you need out of life?

After picking the girl up from school, I had to listen to her repeatedly ask, "Is it time to go Trick or Treating yet?" for the next three hours. Eventually I gave in, she put on her costume, and we got an early start.

On our way out the door I caught a glimpse of our own candy bowl:
Yep, that's Jesus. Watching over our candy.He was discovered earlier in the day on the top of Kim's refrigerator. OF COURSE I had to bring him home. And OF COURSE Jay had to make a speech bubble for him. I have a feeling Jesus will be with us for a while.

Anyway, Lucy and I hit a few places in our neighborhood before making our way back to Kim's house to meet up with her family:Even though we live in a rental community, so many of our neighbors treat their homes as if they own them, doing things like maintaining gardens and going all out to decorate for the holidays.

Walking the tree lined street:The weather was beautiful and brisk.

Lucy and Isabella, Kim's daughter.
I love that Lucy and Isabella are friends. Not only does it make it easier when Kim and I want to hang out, but Isabella is really good at getting my girl interested in girly things. A few weeks back Isabella was visiting and I caught the girls whispering and giggling. When I asked them what was up they mentioned something about 'fairies' and ran off. In a house with a 13 year old male with a strong personality, there isn't much room for fairy talk. It was refreshing to hear.

After meeting up, we all walked over to the fancy neighborhood where they were handing out full sized candy bars. Because, hey, full size.

The girl and I got home around 7:30 to find only Jay and Jesus. The boy's friends had called him and at the last minute he threw on a bunch of clear trash bags and went out as a condom. As Kim said, "At least he's being safe."

Happy belated Halloween to all of you and I hope you were able to get your hands on at least one full sized candy bar.