Thursday, July 31, 2008

Whatever You Want - part deux

If you read this post a week or so ago, you know how frustrated I was with trying to find a new sewing machine. E-freaking-gads.

Well I exhausted all my resources, made enemies out of long time friends, distanced relatives and basically drove my husband to drink (mom prophesied he smoke some day, I suppose drinking is just as bad, oh well.). So Thor has been hitting the rootbeer floats pretty hard lately. He says it's from his work, but I think there's residual stress from having to listen to me vent for two months.

One thing we have learned from all this is that whatever you want in life will take twice as much as you expect it to. When you're a kid you think "Hooray! I'll graduate from high school and then it will be over!" Until you realize that you still need an additional 4-6 years of formal education; and then there are those "required" continuing educational classes or seminars that one must attend if they expect any kind of increase in earnings. Mothers are another good case for this. They think "Sure, it's going to be nine months of agony, but then the baby will come and things can never be as bad as that pregnancy." Well until you realize that your body just stores up all that it put on hold for nine months, and lets you deal with it as you feed another person from your own physical resources. Don't get me started on potty training or getting rid of that sippy cup.

Thor and I went to Utah. Along the way we saw a really nice little boat. Thor said, "That's a really nice little boat!" It only cost $600.00 but we were both sure that it would be the perfect size for a vacation on a lake with a couple of the kids, or for them to borrow a family at a time. The trouble is, everything is always twice as much as you expect. $600.00 for the boat, and a trailer to haul it around in would be at least another $600.00. 1,200 reasons why Thor and I do not have a boat.

We drove down the road a way and saw a canoe! A really nice canoe for only $300.00! I said, "Hey, how 'bout a canoe? Only $300.00!" Thor looked at me and said, "Yes, but you'll need another $300.00 for a roof rack on the car; and do you see the flat back on the canoe? That's for a little outboard motor. Those don't come cheap either. With fishing licenses for everyone, bait, rods, reels, tackle boxes, renting a cabin at the lake and food for a week, etc. we're looking at more than the boat cost!"

It's the same with fast food. You get the dollar hamburger and they tack on another dollar for the soda. We're dead meat. All of us.

I finally ended up buying a sewing machine. I had originally decided that I had saved (well over) $350.00 and that would be my budget. In the end the dumb machine cost $745.00. Holy Toledo. I get the wonderment home and for the past two days reading the (War and Peace sized) manual has consumed my every minute. This new machine is computerized! Wahoo! To a point. Now the darned thing is smarted than I am.

Today I sat down to see if I could push all the right buttons and give the little lady a test run. I went to my scrap fabric. Hmm, silk, felt, heavy Teflon coated quilted fabric for a new ironing board cover, ummm, (dig dig dig) oh! um, (dig dig dig) no -can't use organza, tulle? nope. Stink! I have nothing but weirdo fabrics in my scrap bag! No worries, I'll grab ten bucks and head down to the store, I need a few other sewing things to get officially started.

I run down to the fabric store... I grab a half yard of plain cotton, 70% off (orange tag!), and then remember I need "special" bobbin thread, grab some of that, also, if I am going to test the embroidery, I will need "embroidery" thread, on sale -buy two get one, oh and the stiff backing stuff so that the fabric doesn't pucker, oooooo.k. Done. $25. and change.

St Petersburg! This is getting ridiculous! But there you have it, everything doubles!

All in all though, my happiness doubled as well. You see, for the first time -ever- I made button holes without cursing! I also (machine) embroidered the first try and the second try without any complications! Who knew this was possible? Raise of hands??? Yeah? Me neither! I wrote names and companies and titles and love notes and drove that fabric all over the place with stitches that looked like leaves and hearts and small tiny crocodiles -all without swearing!

It's a Festivus Miracle!

I (machine) smocked! I 'drew' a dish!
I blind hemmed, and made a fish!

I wrote monograms and "Mickey Mouse",
and 'his -n-hers' and "Welcome to our House!"

I'm giddy and hysterical!
I sat all day and played!

I puffed a little baby sleeve!
(for 750 paid!)

From now on I'll be sewing
so much they'll think I'm lost.

Baby clothes and backpacks,
equal to Prada's cost!

Between the price of fabric
and machine's (that do inspire),

I'm afraid I'll have to tell Thor:
"Sorry Babe, you can't retire!"

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Oy. and a Grrrrr.


About a hour or so after Tuesday's earthquake here in SoCAL, I put up a video -The Happy Cows and their foot massage- Yeah well it's what, like Thursday, and the thing is still out in space somewhere around Pluto. I can guarantee it will pop in sometime, usually when I really don't want it to. This has happened once before and frankly, it's frustrating. I keep checking the blog so that when it does pop up at the wrong time (timing is everything and the joke has long passed) - I can take the dumb thing down.


As a side note I should remark on how a 5.4 is really just a good shake or bump or "Monster Stomp" (or foot massage), no injuries or significant damage. Nothing stable fell from shelves, well if you go to You Tube there is a cosmetics (?) store where it looks as if the small products bungee jump off the shelf in one mass college prank, but for the majority of us, just another small "wake up call", because we all know the "big one" is lurking.

An interesting thing to note is that, although there was little damage, about 20 minute after the quake cell phones went down, computers began to hiccup, and that was a drag. (maybe that's why you tube is messed up?) Lesson here? Don't count on the internet or phone service tied to the internet during or after a quake. Have those numbers on a zip drive and also hard copies so that you can reach who you need to however possible as soon as you are able.

So, there you go. Thanks to Mother Nature for putting an exclamation point on Tuesday's post on self preparedness!

Also a big "thanks" and shout out to Rynell , who contacted me to check on the family. That was great! Another standard "emergency prep" idea, have an out of state contact so that when your phone lines are down someone can contact you or vice versus. Did anyone check in on your family? Did you call and check on anyone? 75 points to Rynell for Doing One Thing!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do One Thing! Book Review

I have two book suggestions for you to think about. I like them both. The first is:

"It Wasn't Raining When Noah Built The Ark - Family Preparedness Hints" by Tami Girsberger

Tami's book is a small 5x5 inch guide to gathering and storing those things we may need in the event of an emergency. It's small, but pretty thorough! 162 pages filled with ideas and instruction for preparing our home, vehicle, office, first aid kit, family finances, water, food, cooking without electricity, sheltering, staying warm, and on and on! She tells how to build stoves and toilets! (I could have used this that summer the septic tank decided it needed to be replaced!) She encourages engaging our block/neighbors in preparedness and to become a CERT volunteer for 'after the fact' service in your community, and she lists by state Government Emergency Agencies.

Tami writes in a very easy to read manner and most of her chapters are about four pages (two if they were in average book size). A lot of things to think about.

The second book is:

"12 STEPS To Build Your Own Personal Ark - A Simple and Inexpensive Guide to Food Storage and Family Preparedness" by Emily Freeman

Emily also has a small booklet type book with great information. Her 5x7 inch, 23 page book has a monthly system to obtain a year's supply of food essential for two persons in a 12 month period. She gives FHEa lesson ideas, motivational quotes, and exact numbers of supplies to acquire each month. She also includes additional information if you choose to do more than the basics. Emily includes simple charts to check your progress. Emily's writing is also very easy going and motivating.

Both of these books are discussing the same subject, but with completely different focus. Tami's is an overall basic home and family prep; while Emily's is just basic food storage. I feel both are excellent resources and both can add to our education of what and how we need to prepare.

I purchased these books for myself and for each of our 5 children, so they too, could begin to prepare in their families. This would make a good gift! One or both of the books in a backpack to be filled by the recipient as a 72 hour kit, or on top of a case of canned peaches or whatever. Think about it.

a - FHE: Family Home Evening. A once a week family gathering where parents and children learn together, play and generally have fun with each other exclusively, focusing on the family. Lessons, activities, field trips, and 'treats!', etc. are typical for FHE.

It Wasn't Raining When Noah Built The Ark - Family Preparedness Hints, by Tami Girsberger, Leatherwood Press (sold exclusively at Deseret Book or at Leatherwood $12.95

12 STEPS To Build Your Own Personal Ark - A Simple and Inexpensive Guide to Food Storage and Family Preparedness, by Emily Freeman, Sound Concepts, Inc. 15 East 400 South, Orem, UT 84058 (I ordered this booklet through a Deseret Book distributor) $7.95

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Ann Cooper

Another fabulous video. In this 49 minute speech Ann Cooper explains why she decided to leave the prestige of being a hoity toity chef and go into a hoity toity school to be their lunch lady. After seeing the possibilities for changing the eating habits in this school for privileged children she felt she could do more. She packed her bags and went to work at a public school and was able to change those children their as well. She remarks on how she has to teach parents as well, and how the way we eat has gone off track.

Are you aware that Monsanto and Dupont control the majority (like 60/70-some percent) of the seeds in the world? She explains why this isn't a great idea and why, perhaps, it would be better if we got back to eating a tad more local, or even better, home gardens.

Ann also has websites (below in the left side bar under "Galley" Chef Ann Cooper and also Lunch Lessons) where she freely gives her ideas to those who want them. I found this video to be very informative and a bit motivating. I hope you do too!

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what's wrong with what we eat?

I guess you can call this Part Two, after Ann. Mark Bittman gave this talk at TED a while back. He refers to Ann in his talk, which is why I posted her video. I think they say much of the same thing, but each adds things the other leaves out. Ann is a bit more laid back, Mark a touch more acerbic; but not so much that it turns you off, he's just passionate about his food.

Please take some time to watch them both. Enjoy.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch

Today, one of the good guys graduated. Having passed all his tests Randy Pausch died leaving his wife and three children. If you haven't yet, click on the above link or on the screen below to watch and to listen to his Last Lecture. It's is worth the 104 minutes.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

memories, migraines, and dead meat in your bed

One of the memories I have of my Gramma is of her sitting on the "Davenport" -feet apart, elbows on her knees, bent over leaning in to listen to Vince Sculley on the radio or on t.v. as he commented on the Dodgers. "Hot Damn!" she would exclaim as she slapped her knee when she saw or heard a great play by "one of the boys." Listening to the play by play meant it was time to clean something special. She had a chrome cigarette lighter that resembled the Chrysler Building, or maybe the Empire State Building, I don't know, I was 4, at the time it's what I thought they might look like.

The lighter was heavy for it's size, about 4 inches tall, rectangular, and at the base 3 or 4 'steps', the tall mid section and then, again 3 or 4 more 'steps' to meet the cap that had spring loaded hinges that snapped open and closed. Inside was the magical little wheel that she would spin with her thumb, a tiny mechanism with grooves around its' edge for friction, spin it just right and it would ignite the same flame, blue and yellow, that was on the tin of Ronsonol.

I would watch as she would load the minuscule tabs of red flint into the cartridge and soak the felted lining with bright chemical smelling lighter fluid. Anyone who touched it would leave dull gray fingerprints smudged on the shiny chrome. Gramma would methodically and almost ritualistically wipe the chrome down with fresh Kleenex as she listened to Vince talk the Dodgers into a victory.

She would stop to smoke, and I can remember how she would blow the smoke high into the air through her wrinkled and pursed lips. The smoke would shoot almost straight up, then begin to curl and dissipate, the gray soft curls of her hair a faint reminder of the 'magic' she just blew away.

Grampa also smoked, a cigar on occasion, but more often a pipe filled with cherry tobacco. He too would clean the pipe while listening to "the game". Multi coloured pipe cleaners would be pulled from their clear plastic bag one by one and carefully twisted through the stem hole. Not the thick chenille stems people call "pipe cleaners", but the actual pipe cleaners. The bowl would be tapped and the unburned contents removed. It would be cleaned before repacking it with more tobacco, fresh from a large round tin with a deep red label and large white lettering. He also, would use a fresh Kleenex to polish the deep burgundy coloured wood on the outside of the bowl until it shined. Packed and readied, he would carefully light the interior and blow large thick puffs of 'cherry scented' smoke balls into the small apartment. It took me several decades to realize the scent of their home was actually that of Lysol, LifeBouy soap, and stale tobacco, seeped and almost steamed into their immaculate furnishings.

Mom and dad also smoked. I am not sure of the habit count, was it a pack a day or more or less? All I know is that when mom decided to quit it seemed to happen without incident or remorse, although it was then that she gained her weight; weight that would never come off. Dad was another case. His habit drug on (literally) for years. He would try to quit. Claim to have quit, only to be discovered at work during a surprise visit or to have the claw of dependence dig into him during times of stress or crisis. It was years before any of us truly believed he had kicked his habit. I can remember the cigarette breath and now when I smell it on a stranger there is a familiarity to it as to almost make them an immediate acquaintance. The smell of smoke drenched clothing sends me to home closets and the smell of Aquanet and cigarettes makes me think of mom's Beehive hairdo dotted with spring daisies and carefully wrapped each night in toilet paper to keep it looking nice.

High school would not have been complete without the smoke in the girls' room or the "smoke" out in the field. But by the time I was in high school there were already rumors and those trying to convince the public about the dangers of smoking.

Seeing the trouble my family had when trying to quit I decided to never start. I had plenty of bad habits to keep me going a lifetime, I didn't need this one. As the years went by I found myself, as most adults do, surrounded by people I chose to be with rather than forced to be with. That group of associates was sans smokers. There are still a few smokers in the family, however even they prefer to smoke alone and away from the group. I am just not that exposed to smoke anymore.

Several years ago I realized that I -somewhere over the years- developed a keen and nasty allergic reaction to smoke, any smoke. My sensitivity in regard to smoke is like Spiderman's "Spidey-sense" or perhaps Obi Wan's connection to the force. I can tell if someone is smoking in a car two cars ahead or in the lane "over there" before we have physical proof. I smell it in malls or parks or at the beach when most people are not aware of it. And smelling most smoke gives me an immediate migraine headache complete with nausea and vomiting. Burning tobacco products, pot, or (real) weeds or wild land fire smoke will induce immediate throbbing in my (usually left) temple. The pounding, if left untreated will radiate down into my eye and then into my stomach where it violently tries to exit my body via my stomach and throat.

The only solution is to (within 5 minutes, seriously) of smelling the smoke, ingest 2 Excedrin with a large glass of (as cold as I can get it) milk. The milk is really just there to stave off the eminent nausea on an empty tummy. If it goes any longer than the five minutes I can count on trouble.

This morning (now yesterday...I wrote this about 11:30 at night) I woke up to someone in the neighborhood burning their weeds, which kicked a headache into gear. I was asleep at the time so I missed the window of opportunity to stop the sledgehammer of doom from cracking open my cranium. It was the throbbing in my eye that initially woke me and I knew I was going to have a bad morning as soon as I stood up. The room began to pitch and swirl, the light from the morning sun began to poke me in the eye like a dull finger intent on touching the back of my skull via my orbital socket, and I had an immediate urge to sacrifice to the porcelain gods.

The dry heaving began before I could reach the bathroom, and once there I began the gag inducing reflex exercises that rival a morning workout with Jillian Michaels.

I decided to head to the kitchen for a glass of milk and then remembered that I had run out the night before. (Lesson learned: Listen to the Little Voice when it tells you to go to the store now, not later.) I got dressed and put my head into the shower. Two reasons: One, because ever since cutting it short I have amazing bed head in the morning, but I'm not brave enough for my 15 minutes of fame -even with a migraine; and Two; Cold water would help alleviate some of the pain until I could get some meds in me. I made my way to the local store and grabbed a carton. Obviously, I didn't learn my lesson and again ignored that Little Voice when it told me to grab a bag of frozen peas while I was there. I get home, down two Excedrin and a couple of swallows of luke warm milk. It makes me gag and I think I need to get my head on a pillow and into a dark room pronto. I go to the freezer to get the last of the required ingredients to save me from tearing my head off in search of relief when I notice I am out of frozen peas.

Frozen peas. The saviour of gray matter during these times, frozen peas, are not to be found. I can't take it anymore, I run to the sink and gag a few more times, and turn to grab anything frozen in there. Walk to the drawer that houses tea towels, wrap a rock hard slab of ground beef and press it to my forehead and eye as I make my way down the hall and into the bedroom. I get undressed, because even though I am sick I still need to be undressed to lay in bed, it's weird, but yeah. I also know that I am going to need to be under the covers, so I turn the fan on, knowing I will burst into flames without it and tuck my head under a pillow, adjusting it just so. I need enough room as to not feel my own hot breath and enough coverage to block out any light. Freezing my eye into a solid dull aching orb and feeling the icy brick against my head I fall into a fretful, yet grateful-to-have-it sleep.

All this, because of smoke.

Why the photo of the green spiky ball? 'Cause I didn't have any other picture to grab your attention.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am off in search of the towel wrapped piece of (now thawed and warmed) beef, I have forgotten until now, that is buried somewhere in my bed. I sense another gag coming.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Into the woods

Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

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Do One Thing!

We finished week 12 last Tuesday. Today go over the following list provided by to see if you want to add anything they suggest. I like the idea of having maps and bikes. Next week we will begin to explore books and other links on the net that can provide more great info.

Disaster Supplies Checklist
The first 72 hours after a major emergency or disaster are critical. Electricity, gas, water, and telephones may not be
working. In addition, public safety services such as police and fire departments will be busy handling serious crises.
You should be prepared to be self-sufficient — able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones
— for at least three days following a major emergency. To do so, keep on hand in a central location the following.

Water — One gallon per person per day
(a week’s supply of water is preferable)
Water purification kit
First aid kit, freshly stocked
First aid book
Can opener (non-electric)
Blankets or sleeping bags
Portable radio, flashlight and spare batteries
Essential medications
Extra pair of eyeglasses
Extra pair of house and car keys
Fire extinguisher — A-B-C type
Food, water and restraint (leash or carrier) for pets
Cash and change
Baby supplies: formula, bottle, pacifier, soap and
baby powder, clothing, blankets, baby wipes,
disposable diapers, canned food and juices

Sanitation Supplies
Large plastic trash bags for waste; tarps and
rain ponchos
Large trash cans
Bar soap and liquid detergent
Toothpaste and toothbrushes
Feminine hygiene supplies
Toilet paper
Household bleach

Safety and Comfort
Sturdy shoes
Heavy gloves for clearing debris
Candles and matches
Light sticks
Change of clothing
Knife or razor blades
Garden hose for siphoning and firefighting
Communication kit: paper, pens, stamps

Plastic knives, forks, spoons
Paper plates and cups
Paper towels
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Camping stove for outdoor cooking (caution: before
using fire to cook, make sure there are no gas leaks;
never use charcoal indoors)

Tools and Supplies
Axe, shovel, broom
Adjustable wrench for turning off gas
Tool kit including a screwdriver, pliers and a hammer
Coil of 1⁄2" rope
Plastic tape, staple gun and sheeting for window
City map

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Don't Try This At Home! Try It At A Friend's House!

Well, as long as today's theme is water I thought I'd set up this video for you. It was pointed out to me by my Sis, Chronicler. You see, she is the mother of three daughters. I have three sons and two daughters.

The thing with boys is this, they discover things, they have adventures, they act before they think things through. They freeze amphibians because they have watched one too many National Geographic Videos ("Beaver Pond" - I don't recommend it.)

If these were my boys I can tell you right now, things in this video would have been different. After each of the boys involved had a trial run, things would have been kicked up a notch. Say, surf style (standing up), or after dark with sparklers. I know, because when we had the advantage one summer of living where a pool was in the back yard and accessible, swimming was JUST. SO. BORING. yawn. No , we had to figure out ways to propel our bodies into the pool from various and sundry vantage points, like the roof. Or fence. Or off a moving bike. The diving board was just a means to an end, an additional tool in the arsenal of dangerous toys. Anything that could float was employed as a surfboard. Including your best friend. Contests and feats of strength were invented, and commentary was sometimes pre-scripted as to make sure nothing got left out. Boats were made, slides were invented, rules were constantly changed to promote manhood and the growth of chest hair. And the loss of cousins. kidding. I think.

We only lived in that house one summer however, so learning and testing had to take place in other arenas. Little sisters were also used as tools or physics experiments. Their smaller bodies lent them to be used as keys ("Shove your hand through the hole and turn the nob!"). Their cat like legs begged to be dropped from trees to see if they too (girls) landed on their feet. Or as human propellants ("As soon as you get this high...JUMP!) Poor little things were flung across the yard, into pools, off of trampolines and skate boards, and onto old mattresses or boxes ( in the movies!)

One summer our then 16 year old was at his best friend's house. No parents. No sisters. Just the two of them. They had spent hours and hours filming each other trying out the newest tricks on their skateboards and decided to go indoors. One thing led to another and they began to wrestle each other while on the boards, in the house, in the living room (probably while eating something). My kid lost. He went elbow first through the fancy glass coffee table severing all the muscle systems, the ligaments, the tendons, and chipping the bone in his dominant arm about two inches above the elbow. When I first saw it, his arm muscle looked like a red sea urchin. Lovely. His brother drove him to meet me at the local ER and I have been informed that along the way the injured one managed to flirt with a girl in the car next to them at the stop light. (Never miss an opportunity.)

Long story short, he also severed the nerves, so he wasn't in pain, but that night he had an 8 hour appointment with a neuro surgeon who had to reconnect all of the above. He had an amazing recovery (one for the books actually) and a few months later had a "ligament transfer" (read: The neuro plastic surgeon harvested the extra ligaments in both of his arms and rewired his hand so that he could use it again, like the bionic man, only without the cool noise and slow motion, and um, six million dollars paid by the government.) He had 33 "entry points" in his one hand and after 130+stitches we stopped counting. Again he had a miraculous and amazingly quick recovery and he was the youngest patient to ever have this procedure at the time.

So yeah. Boys. I could go on, but suffice it to say, keep your eyes and the first aid kit open, never leave them alone for a second, and if you do, make sure your medical insurance is paid up!

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water, water, everywhere

Big Cottonwood Canyon

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


Look who has decided living on the property is a great idea! Jack and his family are currently out by our shed, however every morning Jack likes to wander about (much like his famous cousin from England, Peter). I am sure his mom worries about us becoming the McGreggors, but that isn't too likely. Thor's not much on rabbit stew and frankly, we don't have much of a garden for him to ruin.

Isn't he adorable?

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's a Boy!

Meet Toby, my new, um, grand kitty? #4 and his wife welcomed this new little bundle of fluff into their home (end evidently ours) last week. #4 brought him up to see us and visit for a while.

He made himself at home and has a fun time trying to figure out how to walk on the wood floors without sliding. Kittens are dang cute! He loved Thor, which is pretty funny, cuz ta feelin' tain't moochel! (or so he protests) This is a very laid back cat. Years ago #4 had another little boy kitty who was named Prozack, because of his very relaxed personality. Toby seems to be the long lost brother to Prozack. He loves to ride on #4's shoulders the same way Prozack did, like a collar. He loved the ride in the truck, and if he stopped moving he feel asleep...he has a bad case of narco-sleepy.

That's him, asleep on Thor.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Things were good in the old days

Yes, they were. I'm actually old enough to remember fuel being called "Ethyl" and I remember when it was only 25 cents a gallon. Yes, I also remember the actual dinosaurs that sank into the earth and melted into crude oil for us all. His name was Larry. I'm old.

Thor and I had to make a short trip this past weekend that took us through the tiny town of
Helendale, a town so small that there isn't anything to google, you need to go to wiki instead. It is on the old Route 66 however, so that's somewhat interesting. As is the time warp as evidenced by this sign, still in relatively good shape, that offers Tire Repair, Towing, Firewood, and gasoline for 18.9 and 21.9 cents per gallon! The only problem is that there is only a sign. The gas station left the planet years ago.

That takes us to Boron and, no offense, but their website makes this town look fascinating, fantastic, actually someplace you could spend the day...well not so much. But hey, whoever designed their website deserves whatever amount of money they demanded! But the one redeeming value of the place was the local recycling center which offered Liquor Ice Cream. Hey! It's a small town! What else are the kids supposed to do?

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

FHE (or whatever you need) Peg Chart

During Relief Society last month we had an Enrichment Nighta focusing on clever ways to spruce up your Family Home Eveningb. One of the gals went to the local lumber shop, bought a plank of pine, and had the Bishop's wife saw it into small 2 foot boards for us. (that Bishop's wife is pretty crafty!) So we came up with a cute way to paint the Family Home Evening jobs.

I was busy helping the ladies paint so I just paid for my boards and came home. I just got around to painting mine and this is what I came up with. I have a little family that I do work for from time to time and I thought they might like a job chart. I know she is very young and likes trendy things. Her home is decorated with burgundy and forest green. I thought she might like the Bohemian look. I was going to paint it burgundy (it has hearts and all, figured burgundy was appropriate) however my bottle of burgundy paint was dried out. Sadness and gloom.

Not to worry I just went with the green. I started out with the creamy coloured board they had at the church, then took a few rubber stamps and stamped a brocade background using a light tan. I added metallic gold swirls and blended the dark green with the gold and scrolled out some swirls and green vines, added a few medallions and there you go.

I painted the hearts green, added some stamped filigree to the edges, painted the drawer pull knobs gold and went to work embellishing. I had black wire and some beads in gold and green, a few copper, black and pewter swirl paper clips,and used that for the hangers. I painted names and jobs and then gave everything a coat of acrylic spray to protect it. They dangle and sparkle just a bit.

I think this is a great project, fairly easy and adaptable for any family. It would look adorable as a chore or helper chart, or a place to hang keys, whatever!

I hope they enjoy it as much as I did making it for them!

a. Enrichment Night (or Home, Family and Enrichment Activities) The Relief Society women get together and have all kinds of organized fun! There are few requirements; at least three ladies interested, an activity that enriches the lives of those who participate, and regularly scheduled. Some of the activities we have in our ward/stake are the "Alleluia! Breakfast" (held the first Monday after the kids go back to school at a specific restaurant!), Whine and Dine (1st Tuesday night each month), knitting, crochet, scrapbookers, "Hens without chicks" (any gal, kids stay home, and we go do something fun), cake decorating, book club, community calendar, humanitarian aide (a monthly project to help out where needed), self reliance, etc. It just goes anywhere!

b. Family Home Evening. Members of the church have, since the mid century, been setting aside Monday evening as "family night". NO meetings, a special time when the phone isn't answered, the focus is mainly on the family and being together. Many families use this time to teach various principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sing songs, pray, play games, generally take care of family business and have a great time together. Charts are a fun way to keep track of who gets to do what job on FHE! It's an awesome program!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

all I wanted was to make a baby dress

Have you purchased a sewing machine lately?

As a new bride my mother decided I needed my own sewing machine. She scrounged around and found an Italian brand machine. A Bertinelli, ever heard of it? Nah, neither had I, or any of the repair shops I took it to. It was about 20 years old, but had been reconditioned and was about 88 pounds of sea foam green hardware. The motor sounded much like Mussolini's tank invading France, and it left destruction in it's wake the majority of the time. I look back on that machine as the tool that taught me to swear.

Time went by and we decided to take up with the allies and remove Italian machines from our home. We searched out what my mother and other's had said were good brands, Bernina, Pfaff, Viking...hey Viking, they sound like they could take on any sewing chore and do very well. After doing much research we decided that a Nordic made machine would be great, however the Euro had not yet been created, the iron curtain was still hung, and no matter how we thought it out, we could not afford a "good" machine. We went with a Singer. Yikes. It was a higher education to be sure:

Singer Sewing/Swearing 202. The Sewing/Swearing Technology program provides students with the technical and practical training necessary for work as a seamstress or sailor in a variety of settings, including homes, church, and/or but not limited to submarines, along side drunken sailors, long shore-man or bartenders frequented by the above. Students will examine the sewing machine (over and over and over), material becoming ground up into the feed dogs, thread entanglement and breakage, bobbin tension malfunctions, the use of scissors to extract clothing from the machine and seam ripping on all articles made.

Courses are not necessarily offered in the sequences in which they appear in the catalog. Oh no no no! Students will be thrown for a loop every time they begin to sew! No two projects will ever be the same and multiple application in regard to the same pattern will also turn out different as the machine is possessed by Satan.

Prerequisites for this course are previous work on a Bertinelli Machine, serving 2 years with the merchant marines, or surviving a coup d’├ętat. Testing out is possible if you can go two rounds with...with... heck, my mom! (sorry mom, but yeah, I learned a lot at home!)

30 years have gone by and it's time to buy a new machine. The kids are (relatively) out of the house, we can eat food storage for a month, and save to buy a new (cherubic choruses singing) machine of Nordic heritage!

I thought. Have you seen the price of a new machine? The first store I went into we had to call in paramedics. The sales gal asked me what my budget was. I know I was going to shoot low, I mean really, I know I can't afford even a mid range machine, but all I need is a low end model, so I say (somewhat proudly) $350.00! The poor woman fell over backwards and knocked herself unconscious on a bolt of heavy duty denim.

After the medics took her off, her second came in and politely told me, trying very hard not to laugh, that the LOWEST price machine they sold was $500.00. She could show me a "craft" sewing machine, they come in a cardboard box, third shelf in the scrapbook isle. (swearing is coming back to me) "O.k. well show me what you do have in the bottom of the barrel category. It's been a while."

She takes me over to a "...really nice little machine that has been used as an upgrade. The owner bought it knowing they would return it within 90 days as a trade in... (WAIT! Did she just say "trade in"? as in "I want to trade in my station wagon for a minivan."?) it has only 3 months usage! It retails for $5,000.00 but we are putting out for $1,500.00!" Holy cow, I am dead freaking meat.

When I gasp, she senses my surprise and informs me that to get a "really good quality machine I need to invest, not just buy." I am SO in trouble. She walks me over to -if it were a surf board- would be a long board. "This (she pauses for dramatic effect, arm pointing to the beast) is the Turbo-tastic computerized embroidery/quilting 350! It retails for (please sit down if you aren't already) $25,000.00." (and yes, I am exaggerating a lot in this post, but this price? um, no. THAT WAS THE ACTUAL PRICE!) She waits for a response. I am, frankly, hoping those paramedics haven't left the parking lot because I am feeling my left arm go numb. "You see, you need to invest!" She waits again for me to say something, anything, but I am still trying to get the elephant off my chest. "You can purchase a car, or a sewing machine...." Her voice kind of fades and gets echo-y and at that the room kind of swirls around and begins to turn black.

I woke up (in a cold sweat) with her standing over my (presumably dead) body. "S'mee? S'mee? Oh perhaps I have overwhelmed you. (ya think?) Oh dear, (she begins to giggle) you were serious about wanting a bottom of the line!" She walks me over to a rolling chair and sets me down to look at what she has never touched. Seriously, it had cobwebs between it and the other 3 machines on that desk. There were cobwebs and I think I heard eerie organ music in the background, it was a dark and scary place, the kind of place you just know something bad is going to happen.

"This (she is suddenly channeling Ben Stine) is the WhyBotherSewingAtAll 200. It sews. This model here (moving over one machine) is the Sure,IfYouWantEveryoneToLaughYouOutOf TheSewingGuild 180, it also sews, but it has reverse too. It starts at $550.00, but it's on sale, today until (what time is it now? 12:35) 1:00 for $399.00. This next one, the I'mSoEmbarrassedToEvenBeSittingByIt 450xl3 is also on sale, regularly $800.00, for $499.00. It sews, go backwards, and also makes zigzag stitches. (she begins this speech with those soothing, melodic tones one uses while trying to coax someone off a ledge) Now you see S'mee? Do you see why you need to invest? Why these machines here, well they just sew a straight stitch, maybe a button hole, but those over there, well, all you have to do is throw folded material at the machine and (in a strict German accent) command them to "make a toddler dress, size 4!"- and it's done! No cutting, no sitting at the machine, just done!"

I go through this process with four other sewing centers. Ladies and gentlemen, I have some career advise: Forget being an astronaut. Put down that dream of being a brain surgeon. Don't even think about being a rock star. The real money on this planet is in sewing machines!

I am still in the market for a machine I can afford. (please, for the love of Pete, stop laughing!) I have a few more places to explore before I finally commit to just killing myself. I'll let you know how it goes. Mussolini? Hitler? heck, if they knew how to do it right they would have just forced their enemies to try and buy a sewing machine.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Do One Thing: Week 12

Week 12:
feeding bowls,
leash, etc
any meds they take.

We live where it gets blistering hot during the summer months, wet and sometimes snowy in the winter. With that in it would be a god idea to add a carrier large enough to accommodate your animal(s), a pop up shade or umbrella for weather protection, some of those doggie shoes if you think the pads of their feet will burn if exposed to long, some kind of a pad for sleeping.

And with that ladies and gentlemen, you should complete your 72 hour kit with little or no expense! Now how 'bout we tackle some other preparedness items? You can always add to your 72 hour kit to make it less emergency disaster and more "glamping" during an event, it just depends on how much you want to do!

Next week we'll start a new series that will also help you on a weekly basis to gather without breaking the bank.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

One more reason Thor is amazing.

Dandelion Momma writes beautifully on summer happenings in her home and feelings that bring moments of relief in an often overwhelming life; one of which is the thought that perhaps someday she will be able to hang her laundry on a clothesline outside to dry and fluff in the warm summer sun. She makes it sound lovely.

One of my best friends hates to see the weather change to the point where she has to take her laundry indoors. She is a firm believer in the benefits of sun dried sheets and clothing that takes on the scent of the outdoors. She becomes slightly depressed during the long winter months of rain, or the threats thereof that chain her shirts, socks, and sweaters to the energy efficient dryer in the laundry room.

Me? I have issues.

For the first six and a half years and three children of our marriage Thor and I budgeted every penny trying to buy a house, feed little people and keep ends at least within a few feet of each other. Part of that budgeting was me lugging laundry and 1, then 2, then 3 children twenty minutes into town and doing laundry at the mat. I detested most every minute there as, at that time, it was the least expensive of the auto-mats in our hamlet, and being such, attracted those who could least afford the better machines and interiors. But I went dutifully. Thor was sacrificing (he had to live away from home for work, many times living in his car to save money rather than sleeping in a hotel), and this was my part. Many times the children were not allowed away from my sight lest an inebriated parent in the room engage them in a somewhat less than appropriate conversation.

After a while Thor saved enough and came home with a washer. It was small, the smallest one they made in the line he chose. It was a fabulous machine that lasted us well over 20 years in the long run. On average, with the kids and the size of the washer, I would do 3-4 loads a day over those 20 years. We hadn't yet afforded a dryer, so those loads were hung outside in the summer weather to dry. We had 1/2 acre of land, completely void of vegetation due to the high cost of water. The backyard was a vast flat piece of sandy dirt and gravel with foot high foxtail weeds in the spring until Thor could plow them down. But the line was well above the danger of the weeds and dirt and with the heat of the day, even the heaviest pair of denim jeans would be dry in a matter of minutes. In the winter laundry hung like Salvador Dali's "Persistence of Memory" all over the house furniture. When it finally dried it would come off the particular piece of furniture cast in its' shape, crispy and often oddly shaped even after putting it on. If I didn't take care to properly place the clothes once dried you could have a permanent "bubble" shape in an arm sleeve or the small of your back, or worse.

Along with saving for dryers we needed to save for other items. As a young bride and groom we received zero towels when we married. Z. RO. We got 5 hand mixers, 10 salad bowls, 6 chip and dip sets and 2 blenders, but no towels (or sheet sets for that matter). Thor's mother generously gave us her older towels and sheets which we gratefully took once we saw the price of new ones. It took me about six and a half years to finally save enough to buy brand new thick lovely towels!

I brought them home and cut the tags off of them, I put them in the washer and anticipated their thick fluffy loops drying us all later that night. I hung them out on the line and after 20 minutes or so went out to gather our new treasures! Instead I walked out to find the line post had broke at the base and fell to the ground. The line had twisted over and over in the wind and the towels had flopped and mopped up thousands of foxtails into the terrycloth. I unclipped each towel and wash cloth and cried crocodile tears as I surveyed the damage. Not one was saved, they all were covered so thick with the foxtails there was no hope of pulling them out without destroying the terry loops. I blew. After waiting almost seven years it was all I could take. The towels were gone. Worse, the money was gone with them.

With all the kids down for their naps I went to the garage. I found the hedge clippers and I went to work. I went to the downed line and chopped it into foot lengths of rope confetti, crying and yelling at the ground for all I was worth. I had lost my new beautiful longed-for and months of saved for towels and I was hysterical. I exhausted my emotion in that line and then picked up the destruction and put it all in the trash.

I walked into the house, took a shower and waited. Thor came home two days later and I showed off the towels and my handiwork. If we went into hock or hell, I was Scarlett O'Hara and as God as my Witness I would never use an outdoor clothes line again! Thor gave me the "Frankly my dear..." look, but before he could begin the look on my face told him not to say a word.

Poor Thor took all my wrath and then some. It was not his fault but I didn't know who else to blame and I needed to spend that rage. It took two more weeks but, Thor brought home a small dryer and kept me from chopping up anything else. It's been 30 some years now and I tell ya, there are just some things a wife needs; and for me, it was a washer and a dryer!

So I put it to you, is there any silly thing that pushed you over the edge of reason, for which your better half has saved you by providing a solution?

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Friday, July 11, 2008

stroke of genius

I saw this on TED (lower left side bar under "looking off the port bow")when it first came out and loved it. Last week Jill Bolte Taylor was interviewed on NPR as the book she has written is being released. This is a fascinating true story of a brain scientist who falls victim to a stroke. She speaks of how at first she doesn't realize what is happening, only that it is beautiful. Eventually she figures out something is wrong and eight years later she is able to express her struggles and what she learned as a scientist who observe the stroke from the inside out.

This talk is well worth the 18 minutes it takes to view. I guarantee you willbe glad you listened to her. Awesome.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

um, yeah. It's 98 degrees outside. And it's raining. Do the math.

The water (swamp) cooler is less effective today.

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You're o.k. I'm o.k.

Olly with the ladies
Originally uploaded by Oliver Steeds
I've been out and about lately, reading, pondering. Seems we bloggers have aging on our minds. So who wants to be America's Top Model? I guess, in a way, we all do. But then there's me. I'm some what low maintenance.

I met my best girl friend years ago. She is tiny in height in shape, but never in hair, nails, or ideas. She is huge with ideas. And generosity, but that's another post. My best girlfriend has always tried to "girlify" me, you know, help me dress better, wear make up, do something -anything- with my hair and generally fem up a bit. o.k. It's not like I'm a lumberjack, but that I am more the hippy chick wanna be. If I had my way I'd look similar to Dharma's mom, Abby Fincklestein, but I'm no where near that cute.

I gave up make up in the 70's because it was just to suffocating on my skin and after a couple of hours I looked like a raccoon anyway. Back then I was 105lbs. with stick straight hair. In the 80's I wanted big hair (read BIG HAIR) like everyone else. So I fried the juju out of it. I also gained a lot of weight so I ended up looking much like a before photo of Richard one wants that, so I eased up on the perms.

Most of the 90's and, up until recent dates, I lived in the perma-pony tail, still sans make up, and let my casual dress lead the way. I wear a suit to church on Sundays because grown up ladies are supposed to do that, but frankly, I'm not a fan. I would love to wear my peasant blouses, broomstick skirt and berks, but I do know that I don't look like Abby enough to get away with that. I don't dye my hair. I have really nice colour anyway, who cares if it is going gray now. I'm 50, deal. I both fell into the "beauty" trap and avoided it, I'm an enigma, go figure. But I am aging and with age comes wisdom, or at least one can hope.

There are wrinkles now. There is the funky stretchy skin all over and the bread dough tummy... probably from eating too much bread. I lose more hair on the pillow than Thor ever will. I shed. Holy cow, do I shed!

But then I think about the women on my favourite t.v. show, the women of the Kombai and Mek tribes. Beautiful black women who have lived their lives in the wilderness of their countries, no make up, no lotions, no Victoria Secret, no Spanks, no toothbrush or nightly showers, no clothes or shoes. No models to speak of, no bill boards or infomercials, no make up counter at the center of the village, nothing. What would Carrie Bradshaw do? Probably throw her Prada pursed, Manolo Blahnik shod and Victor and Rolf draped self off the nearest cliff.

I look at my face in the mirror and see the crow's feet beginning to hop around, I see the laugh lines and my still crooked 'period' teeth. I see the "highlights" of gray in my charcoal hair. I feel the aches and pains from standing on a ladder one too many times. But I also see the wisdom that is coming with each year, the not worrying about the little things anymore, the ability to let things go that are no longer important.

I look to the women who see me as the young kid, and who laugh out loud at all the fuss about carbs, low-fat yogurt and the number of inches on your heels. One of my dear friends, in her 80's, just last week shared with our lunch group how she just looked straight at her doctor and told him he could jump in a lake, she was fine with her weight and at her age she wasn't about to go on a diet. Don't get me wrong, she does water aerobics three times a week, and takes full care of her ailing hubby all the while pulling off a pretty stressful and time consuming church job. She takes care of herself, but she doesn't worry about the outside too much any more. "It's great to go to the pool now. No one cares if you're too fat if you're in your 80s!" She says with a laugh. "You should see those tiny little 25 yr olds! They worry about every little jiggle. They don't realize men LOVE jiggles!" With age came confidence in her true self; added pounds and all.

We live in the U.S. The birthplace of feminism, which was supposed to give us all the "go ahead" to be what we wanted to be rather than having to be what someone else decided for us. And yet, for all those grandiose ideas we all still look to Carry as the role model, as the "it" girl. (a women, I might add, who has wrinkles, smokes like a freaking chimney, colours her hair, and -for all her liberated lifestyle- only wanted what most of us already have, a husband.) What happened to being o.k. and good enough in our own skin? What happened to being revered for who we are and not for what we own, wear, or how large or small certain parts of our anatomy are?

Look at the women in the photo above. Confident, learned, knowing, even sassy. These women grew into themselves not a size 0 designer label. They grew into what they were divinely designed to do. As young women they had full round hips and breasts. As their children grew away from a mother's need, these women's bodies changed and adapted to their new age. Are these women wistful that their bodies have changed, drastically? Maybe. But they go with it anyway. They add to their dog teeth necklace, honours and trophies for their abilities and skills, not for their collection of Jimmy Choos, snow white teeth, or size two body after fourty.

They sag. Their legs are scarred and pocked. The skin drapes over their ligaments and tell the struggle of their existence and experience. Their hair is a ball of woolen snarls, but their eyes... look at their eyes.

I'll give you a minute, go on, click on the photo and check it out as large as it comes. Look at the women.

I'll tell you right now the two on the outside, well, I would love to talk with them. Don't they look fabulous? They look like they have something to say! All three of them look smart, confident, strong in opinion and ethics, interesting and humourous. Wouldn't it be grand if someone saw a photo of us, no clothes, no make up, looking straight into the lens and could say that about each of us?

Now that gal in the middle, don't mess with her, she knows what she wants and I bet she gets it...every time. She doesn't look angry or overbearing, but defined, focused, purposed, and even humble. I bet she is a good friend. Dependable. Sure. The gal on the left, seems like the gal in high school who had it all together, a bit of attitude - the good kind- and always on the edge of laughter, the gal who went to work and got it done. The cutie on the right, I want to know her the most. She just looks like she is ready to share a good story, such smiling eyes.

In their tribe these women will be worked literally to death. Yet in that work will come their honour also. They will be praised for the children they bring into the world, rear and train. As they become older their knowledge will be sought after, and as elders they will be regarded as wise and powerful. Even in their death they will watch over their children and grandchildren and the tribe as a whole. They are revered because they are women. That's enough.

My point is this: Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, keep moving, stay involved, but for heaven's sake, take a look in the mirror and give yourself a break. You were designed to wrinkle, gray, and shift your body weight. It happens, it's o.k. Embrace the fact you are aging, it's certainly better than the alternative! Dye your hair if it makes you feel better, but don't feel bad if you don't. Diet if you like doing that, but it's o.k. to buy a size larger (or even more!) than you did when you were young and single. Relax, you're going to be fine the way you are.

Being you is enough.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

picturing excess

Please take a 11:00 minute break and watch this fascinating video, either here or at This artist has come up with his "examples of anesthesia", ways that we as a nation go about everyday without consciously being aware of things that we participate in, either by acquiescence or purpose because that's the way things are done. He does not judge or say we are "bad" he justs wants us to be more aware of certain things. He also points out his subjects are not a priority list of ills, just a few things that caught his personal attention in staggering ways.

Some of his subjects are the amount of paper cups we use in a day.
The U.S. prison population versus those from other countries.
Death by cigarettes.
Prescription drug use and abuse.
Elective Breast Augmentation.

He, I feel, effectively "translates numbers and statistics into visual images" so to invite and motivate us to first recognize and then if we are a part of the problem to accept our responsibility in these things and asks us to think how we can personally change them.

Please watch and enjoy.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Do One Thing: Week 11


battery operated radio,
ham radio if you have the license and know how.
walkie talkies with fresh batteries (I think we added these a few weeks ago)
hand/small mirror (for reflecting the sun and getting attention)
maps (gps if you have one)
fresh charged cell phones
a flash drive with cell numbers, addresses, etc. placed on your key chain ( I think we already talked about this one)
a small address book with all the above info in it tucked into your kit in case you can't access you computer and need those numbers and info.
a permanent black marker. This is creepy, but writing your ssi# name and other info on your arm is a good idea for i.d.-ing in the event of disorientation, being lost, or even death. Write this info on the backs of small children, just below their neck.)
Any other items that come to mind when you think of communicating during an emergency event.

We're getting down to the wire! One more week and your kit should be complete!

And as long as we are preparing, I got this link in an e-mail. (Thanks Jill!) It's a test to see if you know what to do during an EarThQuAke! aaAAHHhhhh! Well screaming isn't one of them... the music and graphics are goofy, but the questions make you think. It's especially good for kids and teens who may not fully understand what to do or those who think they have it all covered. You may even learn something new yourself!

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Oh What Do You Do In The Summertime...

When all the world is green? Do you fish in a stream, or lazily dream on the banks as the clouds go by?
Do you swim in a pool to keep yourself cool, or swing in a tree up high?

Do you march in parades or drink lemonades, or count all the stars in the sky?
Oh what do you do in the summer time, when all the world is hot? Do you drive with Grampa, pet a bear with big claws? or pretend to be Dan'l Boone? Do you you to the park before it gets dark and see the log cabin there? Do you eat M&Ms, and make cool new friends and wish that the day never ends? Is that what you do?

So do I.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

all's well that ends well -or- we all do stupid things in our youth

Note the rocky shore line. Note the irregular wave sets. Note the shark like fin of one rock. (o.k. so I pointed that out yesterday, I still think it's cool.) Note the "triple dog dare you". Note the idiotic look of "where'd my board go?" Note the "What the hell, chicks dig scars" attitude.

Note the tale this is going to grow into over the summer... just don't tell mom.

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