Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recognize Her?

This morning Sadie had her first haircut.  We weren't sure what to expect and I probably sounded like a complete moron when the groomer asked, "How would you like her hair cut?" and I replied, "Ummm...I've never owned a dog so I really don't know what the options are."

Remember a couple days ago?

Scruffy.  Honestly though, I really liked her hair this length.  I only felt bad that she was probably blind.

This is who greeted the kids after school:

She can see again!  Actually we all think her eyes look huge. 

She lost all the black off her back.  There's still some left on her tail.  But the first thing Mike and I couldn't believe was how much lighter she looked.  We expected it, but it was still surprising.

She got a little bandana to wear from the groomer.  Maddie thinks this is awesome.  Maddie and I both really love her paws too.  We're weird.

The new 'do is growing on me, but I won't mind if it gets a little longer.  We are shocked at how much smaller she looks!  Seriously - I think she's half the size she looked with all that fur!

In the day's other news, I started a new project!  It involves this:

I intended to get so much done today but ran into snafu's like not having a table saw or having slightly warped wood, and mostly not knowing where any of Mike's tools/jigs/bits were hidden stored.  After lunch Mike and I assembled his table saw and I got to work.

I drilled these holes for the shelving units.  I also got one of the bottom pieces started and Mike helped get a lot more accomplished on it tonight. 

Tracy is coming over tomorrow to help put everything else together.  Well....maybe not everything but we are certainly going to give it our best shot!  I'm so excited to get these built...wait until you see what we put together!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doggone Comfy

About a zillion years ago I received this huge pillow from my aunt.  Actually, my brother and sister, and all my cousins received one of these.  I think it was before high school or shortly after entering high school.

This pillow is amazing.  It forms to any comfortable shape you need.  It came with me to college and back home all those years in a row.  It came with me when we got married.  Mike eyed it suspiciously, but we seriously lacked furniture and I promised him this would come in handy when someone was relegated to the floor.

It's not really pretty.  It's crazy dirty.  I have no idea what it's stuffed with.  Magic, I assume.  It instantly refinds it's original shape and molds back to whatever you need.  It's handy to lay against on movie night or to prop your baby up when they want to sit and you're arms are numb from holding them. 

And it's the perfect napping spot for your little dog who sinks into the middle of it.

Sadie has taken over ownership.  One night while I taught, she got a little too excited and peed on a corner of it.  Mike and the kids scrambled to clean it up because they thought I would be totally distressed over it since I've had this pillow longer than I've been married, much less thought about being married.

However, Sadie likes to dig in this pillow.  She's trying to find the magic, I'm convinced of it.  But it only has a light cotton material and those claws of hers could do damage to something so antique.  My friend, Sheri, to the rescue!  She had emailed me a link to a site explaining how to make envelope covered pillows and SWORE to me it was incredibly easy.  I think she made eight pillows in one day for her daughter's apartment.

So, I went to Joanne's and last night created a top.  Here's how:

First, measure what your size pillow is.  Add 2 inches to the length and 2 inches to the width.  This is your front panel.  Cut that.  Next take half the length and add 2 1/2 inches.  Keep the width the same.  This is one of your back panels.  You need two of those.

My pillow was huge so I had to buy wider fabric.  I found this "Duckcloth" which is almost indestructible.  I did my cuts and made sure everything was going to fit.

I added a step here.  I wanted this to be "accident proof".  When I told the lady at Joann's my plan to find something water repellant she handed me this plastic stuff.  She originally told me I needed to buy a teflon foot for my sewing machine (which was not going to happen...I wanted cheap!).  I told her I thought I could leave the paper on and sew on that side.  She thought it was just crazy enough to work.

It did work.  Great, in fact!  I made sure to sew inside my finished seam allowance so I think I was roughly around 1/4'.  Or more.  I also made sure to add puckers.  It's what I do best.

You take each back panel and fold over an end about 1/4 inch, then fold over again.  Here I got anal; who knows why.  But, I actually pinned this, then ironed it.  My mom has accused me of being an "over-pinner".  She's totally right.

But just to prove that I can do something without pinning, I followed the next step which was to roll it over again and iron that down.

I're thinking, "Good grief!  She's still got that crazy ugly ironing board!"  Ironing is not a priority here.  Though it should be with how often this board is featured on this blog.

Anyway - with right sides together, layer the back panels on top of the front panels.  Your back panels should an envelope.  Clever, huh?

Sew around all edges.  I started praying.  Without thinking I had already removed the tissue paper from my plastic and I wasn't sure if it was going to move across my sewing machine plates easily or just get stuck every couple stitches.  It ended up working fine, but I'd definitely leave the tissue paper on next time just to be certain.

When you are finished, stuff your pillow inside.  Here's a hint: turn the pillow case right side out before you stuff 75% of the pillow inside.  I'm just trying to be helpful.

My pillowcase turned out great!  The directions said to use 1/2" seam allowance for this part, but I honestly used about 1 1/2".  I needed to allow some extra space for some mischevious sewing that happened with the plastic.

As a result my envelope back doesn't overlap quite as much as it should, but if I'd done it correctly from the start, I have no doubt it would have fit exactly as it should have.

This whole process took about 1 1/2 hours.  I added some extra steps with the plastic, so I anticipate this should go much faster for someone else.  The cost was about $10 and some change.  Normal dog beds that we've seen are around $40 and they aren't accident proof.  Or washable. 

The verdict?

I brought it down to where Mike and Sadie were hanging out.  She hopped on top a little unsure as to where her original pillow went.

But she made herself comfortable.

Tomorrow she gets a haircut.  She's a mop.  Her hair will be so short, I'm afraid and she'll lose some of her color.

But she'll probably appreciate being able to see again.

Thanks, Sheri for the awesome link!  I talked to Maddie and we plan to make some other pillows (minus the plastic...I think we are safe) for her room!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ode to Grass Stains

Welcome back, my dear old foe
I can’t say that I missed you.
I enjoyed my winter holiday
But Spring has come on cue.

And so begins our little tryst –
Our game of mouse and cat.
You stain the knees of my kids’ pants
With “Shout” I do combat.

Each stain is different, some are light
They come out in one spin.
But others are the deepest greens -
They’re like an evil twin.

It’s these I hate especially;
The ones I wash and spray…
And wash and spray and wash again
One pair can take all day!

Here I cry out in despair,
"You are so very cruel!"
You stain pants that are way too short
But must last through end of school.

So I have to wash those pants again -
I just cannot compete!
You lure my kids to hit the ground,
Slide, roll and then repeat.

Come summer I will hardly care
If you should try to please.
Shorts will be the newest fad...

And then I repair knees.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Last week we had the opportunity to go to a Twins game at the new Target Field.  The kids' school had gotten tickets for a discounted price.  My dad went with and we got to sit near our friends from the neighborhood.

We got there early to walk around.  We entered the gate and saw this:

These people had some pretty nice seats.  That wasn't where we sat. 

We were in section 333.  Way in the top section underneath the giant screen.

This was our view:

It wasn't a bad view but keep in mind that the above shot is actually my camera zoomed in all the way.  We actually couldn't see the center-field guy unless we stood up and leaned over.

We got there early so we could walk around and check out the new digs. 

We thought it would be fun to attend a game at night and watch this sign light up when they got homeruns; apparently the baseball players "shake hands". 

It was a good game against Kansas City.  There were some exciting moments.  See the blurry, little white speck below at home plate? 

That's Joe Mauer up to bat on the last out of the inning with bases loaded.  I think most people were whooping it up at that point. We were hoping for a grand slam.  We were hoping one of our kids caught it.  We told them to hold on to it if they did because it was going in their college fund.  Unfortunately Joe got a double.  Two players in, but alas - no college fund.

The food was okay.  The cheeseburger I had was only mildly warm, but the fries were pretty good.  Jake had a foot-long hot dog that didn't look that great and Mike tasted it saying it wasn't that great.  Mike and Maddie dined on corn dogs which looked like the best bet.  They also tried cheese curds.  While those weren't State Fair quality, they were okay too.  I tried to get ice cream, but there was only one place selling it anywhere near us and I bet it would have taken 30 minutes to get to the front of the line. 

I think we all enjoyed the game outdoors.  There was an occasional breeze which actually felt great.  We were in the sun and it was starting to get really warm; I can't imagine how those July games are going to feel.  I know some ladies who attended the same game, but sat behind homeplate in the shade; they never took off their jackets.

We'll have another game later this summer we get to attend sponsored by Mike's work.  Maddie is going to another game in May with school.  I guess we better start hoping for good weather on baseball days!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Training the Next Generation

Sunday afternoon Mike and Jake worked on getting the lawn mower prepared for the summer ahead.  Jake loves doing anything with Mike that involves anything with tools.  And now - pouring oil?  Sign this kid up!

Soon I heard the lawn mower revving up and caught this action in the backyard:

They had already completed the front yard and were on the home stretch of the backyard.

Everytime they got to the hill on the side of the house Mike would make a sound like he was revving an engine and he and Jake would take off running to get up the hill.  At one point they got to the top and Mike told Jake, "That was all you, man!  You got it up there yourself!"  Jake's grin was a mile wide.

Then they got to the back and I heard, "Just make sure you watch out for...


I think Mike has started a countdown for when he can retire from mowing the grass.  But he walked most of the way helping Jake one-handed.  Mike said his arm was so sore the rest of the night.  I guess that's the price you pay to train good help.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grillin' Season

Last weekend Mike made a new first - he grilled ribs on the spit for his grill.

After much research, he chose a Memphis Rub from "The Barbecue Bible".  I was a little disappointed because I'm a ribs-with-sauce kind of girl.  This is a dry rub.  But we are always telling Jake to try new things so it was time to practice what I preached.  (I hate those moments.)

By the way - if anyone runs across "Sweet Paprika" could you let me know where you found it?  The rub called for that and we only had regular Paprika.

Here they are all set up and ready to start cooking.

Do you know what he originally tried to do?  He was going to take my insulated jelly roll pan (of which I have only one) and lay it on the grill to catch the drippings.  I saw it there and gave him the evil eye.  He said, "I need something to catch grease - can I use this?"  I told him he certainly could as long as he bought me a new one.  Then I remembered these super cheap pans which were going to be returned to Target anyway.  These are now the official grilling pans and we are both happy.

Anyway - two hours later they looked like this:

Except they weren't on fire.  Honestly, I'm not sure where that flame came from because I never saw a flame when I took this picture. 

That's right - "Photographer for hire - doesn't miss a detail!"

Soon these babies were on the table and we dug in.  Jake has a deep-seated fear of fat.  But even he managed to find some pieces that were edible for him.  Maddie was shocked by how spicy these were.  Mike was surprised too.

Me?  I thought they were kind of sweet and gobbled them up.  I had taken a different section than Maddie and Mike.  I guess mine had the most brown sugar which wasn't a bad thing.  By the time I got to my second helping, I was in agreement that they were getting spicy.  But we managed to eat all but about 1/4 of a section.

Mike took notes for the next time around; which will include actually finding Sweet Paprika.

And I'm excited for this weekend because he's going to try Beer Can Chicken.  I plan on getting out of at least one meal to cook each weekend!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sweet Love

The other afternoon the kids were feasting on a "snack".  We told them they could eat their M&M's but only if they shared with Mike and I.  We each got seven candies.  Then Mike stole some from Jake and I got some more because Jake didn't think it was fair that I didn't get as many as Mike.

As I've posted before though, my kids can't just eat M&M's.  They must make pictures or do some sort of sorting.  Jake sorted by colors.  Maddie did this:

There was one for each of us, including Sadie.  (It would be the small dog face above the green and blue candies.)

She was telling us a story of how each color represented each person and was picked because it resembled the closest "favorite" color of each of ours. 

Then she swooped her arms together and gathered all of the M&M's together, formed this and said,

"When we are all together we have this."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beer - Series Finale

On Saturday Mike opened one of his bottles of beer.  Most have been sitting in the boxes carbonating.  He kept a few upstairs for easy access and possibly to watch.  I'm not sure what he was watching for, but Saturday was the lucky day.

I simply said, "Is it carbonated enough?"

He proceeded to expound upon the science of it and what happens when...and..."

All I heard was the teacher voice from Charlie Brown.

Then I said, "How does it taste?"

He said, "Not bad."  Then offered it to me to taste.  He's secretly hopeful I'll someday find a beer I like.  It would make our date nights much cheaper.

I tried it.

It tasted like beer.

So, if you like beer and happen to stop on by, we'll be happy to offer you a tall cold one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

No Running

A couple weeks back Tracy and I helped my mom decorate for a party she was hosting.  The party was with her quilting group.  I guess that at the beginning of the year they had decided on a challenge to make skinny table runners because it was the only way any of them were going to follow through on a resolution that included the words "skinny" and "runner" together. 

Unless of course their resolution was to run over any skinny runners they saw outside - but these ladies quilt; I'm sure they are nicer than that.

Anyway, I called Tracy who came up with a fantastic slogan for the party.  I had an idea for an invitation, but wasn't sure it would fly.  Instead I made an invitation that, while it screamed "spring" and possibly even "quilting" it didn't match Tracy's party slogan.  I don't think either of us were in love with decorating a party around it.

So I just decided to throw out the original idea.  Tracy and I thought it would be much more fun to design a party around this:

Mom liked it too and we were off to the races.

Over the next couple weeks Tracy and I collected miscellaneous items to complete the decorations.  The morning of the party we met at mom's at 9am and started putting it all together.

Two tables were set up similar to this:

These were the party favors and placename holders:

Here is our place setting.  We cut up a brand-new bath towel and Tracy found these perfect sweatbands online for napkin ring holders.  They were child sized and worked great!

Because we wanted everyone to be able to see who they were talking to, we didn't want large centerpieces.  We came up with anti-exercising flags.  Tracy spent the night before defacing magazine cut-outs.  She told Rob she had a hard time doing this.  She actually likes to exercise and believes people should try to live healthy lifestyles so it went against a lot of her beliefs.  Even still some of these really made me giggle.

(It says, "I bet she's hungry.")

(Devil horns and blacked out teeth...I'm sorry but wouldn't most people
like to post this on their fridge some days?)

This was the centerpiece for the buffet:

And I wish I had taken pictures of these candlesticks before.  They were old brass candlesticks my mom had waiting in the garage sale pile.  I pulled them out and painted them with some Rustoleum black texture spray paint.  That stuff is awesome!  These are no longer in the garage sale pile and I believe mom is going to reuse them in her house somewhere.  If she doesn't I'll be stealing them!

All the food was labeled:

Unfortunately we left before mom put out all the food so I don't have an after picture of that set-up.  But I bet it was pretty and yummy!

In the end I think what we all liked was that while it was a quilting party, it didn't revolve around the idea of little old ladies sitting around sewing. 

If you would like to see the ladies' finished quilts, go to my mom's friend's blog here.  She has a picture of everyone's quilts; it's neat to see all the different patterns!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making Money Hand Over Foot

I love our "new" laundry room.  Seriously love it and I actually fold clothes down there now whereas before I hauled the baskets full of clean clothes upstairs to fold.  They usually sat in those baskets for a couple days, so this system is much faster.

That being said, it still isn't a room I want to spend tons of time in.  And I was having to spend a great deal of time there on Mondays while I sorted the clothes.  The reason?  Clothes that were inside out as well as clothes that were inside other clothes.  All this had to be turned out or separated or turned out and separated.  This took forever and started giving me a backache.

So one night I pulled my other three roommates aside and told them the buck stopped here.  Literally.  For every part of clothing I had to turn inside out I was going to be charging them five cents.  One arm of a shirt?  Five cents.  One leg, one sock, one piece of underwear - five cents each.  I put a limit at 10 cents per clothing item, but if things were inside other things (even if they weren't inside out) it was an automatic 10 cents.  I also told them that I was going to have first dibs at keeping anything I found in pockets, which included any and all cash.

Then I told them I was going to start charging them for leaving lights on in their bedrooms or closets when they leave. 

The results?  For the last three weeks I've been able to sort all laundry within 10 minutes instead of the 25 it was taking me before.  The first week Maddie actually brought her dirty clothes down in her hamper folded.  Awesomeness.

Today was the first day I've actually had to collect anything.  Jake had left lights on and owed me 20 cents.  Maddie had a few laundry pieces and lights that totaled 25 cents.  Maddie questioned me, but begrudgingly handed me a quarter.  Jake started crying.  He didn't think it was fair.  Let's remember that this is the same kid that a couple months ago offered me $10 to turn off one of his lights.  I told him the bill came due at bedtime and if he didn't pay it I was going to start charging interest.

I also told them not to feel too bad.  Mike left $20 in his pocket.  I'm saving up for a camera.  I might get there sooner than I thought!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Into the Crafty Crapper

Not all my projects turn out so well. 

Take my latest idea.

I had seen a bowl made from yarn on the internet.  They were supposed to resemble some bowls that Pottery Barn has or had available:

This woman decided to use yarn and stiffening goo and came up with this:

I didn't think it was a terrible rendition.  I thought I might try a thinner "yarn" or whatever I found available, but I liked it and thought it would look okay in my living room that needs some accessories.

And really, the whole process looked kind of fun so I kept it in the back of my head.

You may remember back to me making the fabric flowers for our door wreath.  It was the first time I used the glue gun I've owned for seven years.  I was having a really great time with it and started thinking how if I could drip the glue over a balloon, let it dry, then spray paint the results black I, too, could have a bowl like the above.

I just was nervous that the HOT glue would pop my balloons instantly.  But while I was waiting for my flowers to dry I read this:

It was like a sign that this project was meant to be.

Luckily we happened to have a few balloons lying around.  I don't even know why, but we did.  So, I came up with this stand and got to work.

I loaded a new glue stick and started swirling the glue around the top.  I was really hesitant at first because I was sure it was going to pop the balloon.  Then I was sure I was going to be cleaning up the accident the dog was sure to have when she thought she was being shot at.

This part was really fun.  And I was really starting to see how my bowl was going to rock.  The only problem I saw in design was that the bowl was a little wider than I wanted, but I found another balloon and just didn't blow it up as big.

I added more and more glue to these and tried to go further down the sides to make the bowl rounder or taller, however you'd say it.  When I was finished I set these aside to let fully dry and harden up a little.  I couldn't wait to slowly let the air out of these balloons and see my lovely bowls. 

When I thought everything was ready I cut a small slit in the bottom of the balloon and watched it start deflating. 

And I ended up with this:

What?  That was NOT in the master plan.  I think I stared at this for about a full minute willing it to return to a bowl shape that I could spray paint and pat myself on the back over.

But I shook it off (and Mike's silent snickering) and realized I still had one balloon left.  I consulted my better (though slightly meaner) half who suggested that I put the other balloon in the freezer.  I thought that was a BRILLIANT plan and he was back on Santa's nice list.

Here's what I realized.  I had forgotten I was using glue.  Glue.  Here's a key fact about glue: glue is sticky.  Even though the directions tell you that it's safe to use on balloons, they forget to tell you that it's still going to stick to said balloon.  If this was going to work, I was going to have to freeze it off the balloon.

So my balloon sat in the freezer for a couple days. Jake and I took it out to start working on it.

When we removed it I got right to work and start slowly and carefully peeling the glue off the balloon.  It was tricky in some spots, but other popped right off.  I was just telling Jake that this might take a couple tries of freezing/peeling/freezing, but I thought it was going to work...


All I could think was that I was very happy the dog had been outside at that moment.

So we don't have a bowl, much less two.  I still plan on trying to make one, but I think I'm going to have to buy the stiffening goo and follow the actual instructions.  However, I'm still going to buck the system and try a thinner yarn....and more layers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Purple Pain

Yesterday Jake came home from school and told me he hurt his finger in gym.  When I went to take a look, it was SO swollen.  I thought his little fingernail was going to pop off from the pressure.

We got ice on it, and I told him to go show Mike to see if we needed to take him to the doctor.  We decided against it and Jake kept his finger on ice for the next few hours.

At dinner we asked what happened in a little more detail.  He was in gym class and they were lifting weights.  He lifted them above his head and his weights came together and smashed his finger in between them.  I asked him if he cried (I would have).  He said, "No, I didn't.  I was a man about it."

This morning his finger is slightly less swollen, but no less painful.  It looks like this:

Everytime we asked Jake to see his finger, he would flip us the bird.  Unintentionally, of course, but it made us chuckle each time.  This morning before heading downstairs to work Mike told Jake to make sure he wasn't showing everyone his finger in school and just left it at that.

On the way to school Jake told Maddie of his latest dilemma with this finger situation.  Last night while trying to play the Wii he couldn't figure out how to push the buttons when he had to use a nunchuck because it hurt so much.  I suggested he maybe lay off the Wii for a couple days.

He actually whimpered louder than when we first poked and prodded his finger to examine it.