Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Library

Veering off of the topic of crafting for a minute…

I got an e-mail from a coworker yesterday… a forward, really. It was one of those ‘when I was your age…’ type of e-mails about kids now-a-days with cell phones and the internet, etc… Here was one point:

When I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

It made me think. Do they even have card catalogues anymore? It’s probably terrible but as much as I have this deep down love for libraries, I haven’t stepped foot in one in close to 5 years.

Awful I know. But I just don’t have (make?) the time to read anymore. Not like I used to. I used to spend hours of multiple days a week (and nights under the covers with flashlights!) escaping away into the lands of fiction.

But the card catalogue; is it weird that I really love them? Haha… I do, though. Those big boxy cabinets with all the little drawers, little trays of scrap paper on top with pencils to notate where the book you’re looking for is shelved under the Dewey Decimal System*. And then there were the cards. The ones that listed the bibliography’s worth of information to help you find the exact book you’re looking for.

*I used to have the Dewey Decimal System memorized.

I loved those little cards! Some of them were so old they were starting to turn brownish from age and use. Typed on with an actual typewriter, loved and used and leading you to the information that was just what you needed for that paper you had to write in the seventh grade. They were sitting next to the brand new cards almost as if to show them the way…

Is all of that just computerized now? Is it all in some big search engine like Borders (or Barnes and Nobles or Hastings) uses? Do kids even know what a card catalogue is? Dare I ask if they know how to use one?

I wonder if I could find one somewhere. At an antique store? That big boxy cabinet with all of the little drawers; that thin metal pole in the bottom that used to slide into the punched out hole so the cards couldn’t be stolen… I’d use one in my house (someday when I have a house). I’d re-memorize the Dewey and categorize all of the books I own/will own in the future.

Then my (future) kids would know how to use a card catalogue…..

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baking Craftiness: I Get Inspired...

Every single time I visit I Am Baker. Every time there is inspiritation overload! I read the blog and see the photo’s and instantly want to go home and try my hand at whatever it is she had created!

But the day I saw this post, it was just before throwing a wedding shower for A. And I always wanted to try out decorating cookies with Royal Icing. And I was apparently feeling very brave… I used Amanda @I Am Baker’s sugar cookie & icing recipe and I found a very detailed ‘how-to’ at Sweetopia’s site here! Of course Amanda also has a great tutorial up as well right here… it just wasn’t up until after I made A’s cookies!

Let me start by saying the sugar cookie recipe was delicious! Not overly sweet, they complimented the icing recipe very well! My friend R-Jo came over to help me decorate them, and I think we did a pretty good job for our first time! What do you think?

(R-Jo's Masterpiece's)
(we made this one specifically for A. The initial's represent her and her new hubby. It was a joint effort that we were really quite proud of!)

We were so nervous, I think it took us 4 hours to finish decorating them, but I will definitely try making them again! Hopefully I’ll have a reason to soon…

Thursday, March 18, 2010

#48 a.k.a. My Grandpa K.'s Craft

I’ve mentioned my Grandpa K before. Not just in my blog about my 101 in 1001, but also when I told you about my Grandma K. I don’t really remember off the top of my head what my grandpa did before he retired (although I’m sure I’ve asked before). What I do remember, is that after he retired, he painted. And he baked. And sometime after he passed away, my family got the Joy of Cooking book that he used to cook. And then when I moved, I moved it with me!

So, I’ve had this cookbook in my possession for a little over 5 years and not once have I cooked anything from it which is why, on my list of 101, #48 was to make one of my Grandpa K’s bread recipes. He just made the best breads and now that I've tried that, I want to make one of the pie recipes. I can only hope to make a pumpkin pie as good as Grandpa's!! But one thing at a time, and the other day it was bread! Take a look at the process and my results!

My roommates have recently moved out, so the first thing I did was unpack some of my cooking things starting with my nesting bowls! I just love using this for baking!
Next is the Joy of Cooking book opened to the page for the French Bread recipe. Can you see all the fingerprints and bits still left all over the pages? *sigh* dreamy...
Ok, so the first step was actually scalding the milk? I had never done that before, so I actually looked up what in the world that meant and then I was so nervous that I was going to burn it, I didn't take a picture =o( But then you let the milk cool to 85 degrees, and that was less stressful, so here it goes!
While it was cooling, I started to activate the yeast with some warm water in another cup. I had to let it sit like that for 10 minutes!!
 While waiting to mik all the liquid together, I mixed the flour salt and sugar together, then made a hole for the liquids to pour into... It always makes me thing of building sand castles...
mix it up!!(see that little pile of flour? I'm really proud of myself because that's the only flour I spilled the whole time I was making this bread!)
Then you have to let them raise and shape them into loafs and slice them a little with some scissors! Then they have to raise AGAIN! You have to have patience to make this bread...
Cook it for a while and 'voila'! Looks good doesn't it? My friends (aka guinea pigs) thought it was!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In Awe

My mom taught me to craft.

I remember all the while growing up times of painting and stenciling under her tutelage. Chalk was a big form of entertainment whether it was on a chalkboard or concrete. And I couldn't begin to count the hours I spent with a big box of crayons and coloring books. Coloring can still keep me entertained =o) I spent a lot of my life watching my mom and learning from her. Seeing all she did to sew and help create things for church... so it would probably surprise you to know that there were times she surprised me!

I always thought I knew how capable my mom was... and then I was in Brownies where my mom was a troop leader. Our other troop leader was pregnant and my mom put together a project for us. I mean most people would probably just throw a shower. Buy some gifts. But we made a quilt! My mom, in turns, had each of my fellow Brownie troop friends over to our house to stencil a quilt square and before my very eyes, I watched my mom take all of those squares and turn them into a beautiful memory quilt!

And then, in the fourth grade, I learned how to knit. We learned for a class project after we read a book. It was called the Ernie and the Mile Long Muffler and, to be quite honest, I still remember all that it was about and I LOVED it! haha Anyway, for class everyone had to knit a square. Just a small square, but it was an assignment. We all learned how to do it and did it! So at the end of the time, my teacher had around 30 knitted squares and she asked MY MOM to put them together! So she used yarn to stitch the squares all together and then put fabric all the way around  to turn it into a blanket that my teacher hung on the wall for the rest of the school year!

My mom did that! And do you know how many people (besides me) think its awesome that my mom used to sew pretty much all of my dresses and halloween costumes when I was a kid? Not to mention all of the stenciled borders in our house and homemade curtains and everything else she used to do. My mom was DIY before DIY was popular!

It's pretty cool.

I hope that someday I'm the kind of mom that my kids are proud of...

Monday, March 8, 2010


I remember…

I think that's how a lot of these National Craft Month blog posts will start. My memories. As accurate as they can be. Which is really only as accurate as my mind has made them. Some of them are recent, some are older, and some are from my childhood, remembered by that part of my brain that houses childhood memories… that makes them more precious.

And here I find myself back to my opening statement… I remember.

I remember my Grandma K. She was sweet. Lovely. She wrote poetry. She grew up on a farm. My grandpa loved her very much and referred to her as the "Queen Of Them All". She signed some of her things QOTA. She loved gardening, especially her roses. She had a fountain in her garden and while I can picture it, I can't begin to say anything about it other than it was stone. There was a big swing, I think it was red. I remember swinging on it with my grandma. I remember doing bunny ears, sticking out my tongue and kick-lines for the 8mm video camera with her and my aunts. I remember she loved Olga the Walrus that lived at Brookfield Zoo; Grandma had a picture of Olga stuck to a cupboard in her kitchen.

But what I remember most of all, was coloring with my grandma. After we finished our meal and after we had cleaned up the dishes and washed off the table, it was time! I knew what drawer held the white typewriter paper and where to find the little tupperware (I think it was yellow?) that help those treasured colors. I would get them and sit at the table with Grandma all set to draw…

In my mind, we always drew the same thing… I'm sure there were times we didn't, but I always remember starting with an apple tree; a good strong brown barked tree with big loopy green 'leaves' and bright red apples all over it. Then there was grass… there should always be a lot of green grass under your tree. It's more comfortable for when you nap underneath. The sun was next. A big yellow circle with yellow rays that came streaming out of it. We liked sunny days best =o) Sometimes there were birds in the sky! One of us would be climbing a ladder and there would be a basket under the tree to catch the apples that we picked. On another limb, there was an occasional tire swing and sometimes in the background there was a little garden or some little piggy's or cows. But the most important part, the thing that was always there, was the apple tree.

It may sound silly, but to this day if you see me with a plain white piece of paper and some crayons you can rest assured that I'm about to color myself climbing a ladder into an apple tree with a basket under it to catch all the ones I've picked.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Month to Craft

Do you know what I heard on the radio this morning? Probably not, so I'll tell you!

March is National Craft Month!

If you're not a crafter (I did not think that was a real word! I thought I was going to get the red squiggly underline!) you probably aren't very excited about this. But I am! I grew up with a mom that liked to sew and paint and color and she taught me to love sewing and painting and coloring. And over the years I added a love of photography and decoupage and stamping and (sometimes) knitting …

As a matter of fact, some of my favorite memories have to do with crafting with my mom and my grandmas and my cousins and my friends... I mention this because I plan to blog once or twice a week this month sharing stories of crafting memories and photos in honor of National Craft Month!

Do you have any favorite crafting memories or stories or projects? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mental Health Day

Have I told you, FBR's*, how much I like my boss (M)? I really do. She's very caring and concerned and she just wants us to be happy and healthy and she doesn't just mean that about our work situations.

(*faithful blog readers)

She cares about our lives outside of work.

She cares about me.

So yesterday when I went to her office to ask what she needed me to do, she asked how I was doing. I think I said, "Ok. I mean everything at work is fine." She responded by asking how I was. So I told her… and held back a few tears…

I was having a rough time. As busy as I've been as much as I've been doing; somewhere along the line, I feel like I lost me. Like I don't know who I am, my purpose… I kind of lost who I was. In a conversation with my (former) roommate A, I think she summed it up well…

A: the past 1-2 years has revolved around big life change events for a lot of the people close to you
A: you've poured yourself into those events, even when you struggled with wanting "you" time
A: it's defined you
A: now it's time to find a definition that doesn't involve preparing someone for a wedding.

So M, upon hearing this, looked at me and told me point blank that she wanted me to go home for the day. That she wanted me to take a 'mental health day'. That I was not allowed to do anything for anyone else, and that I was only allowed to do things for myself. It was my job for the day. It wasn't easy… I immediately thought about cleaning the house or taking soup to a sick friend. I thought about seeing if my (moving out) roommate needed help with anything, but then I remembered M telling me that I needed to focus on myself for once.
So I did! It was AMAZING!!!

  • Got a pedicure
  • Got a massage
  • Went to see The Book of Eli
  • Painted pottery (tomorrow's Wordless Wednesday)
  • Ate dinner at Chili's
By far it was one of the best "me" days I think I've ever had.

 All thanks to my boss and my forced mental health day. =o)

Almond Crusted Chicken

Before I moved to Tennessee and long before I became a vegetarian, I used to cook dinner once or twice a week for my parents to 'practice' cooking meals. This was a HUGE hit! I found it in Fitness magazine (they always have such good recipes!) and served it with green beans and spanish rice. I hope you enjoy it as much as my parents did...

1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp garlic salt
Black pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 oz each)
2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Sprinkle pepper all over the chicken. 
3. Combine almonds, brown sugar, and garlic salt in a bowl.
4. Dredge chicken in the almond brown sugar mixture.
5. Arrange chicken on a baking sheet. Firmly pat any remaining mixture on top of each chicken piece.
6. Bake for 18 minutes, or until thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 180. (18 minutes always worked just right in our oven)
7. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Serves 4*

Calories 254, Fat 8g, Protein 29g, Carbs 15g, Fiber 1g
(I wish I had a picture!)

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