Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Rejoice!  He is risen!  May joy fill your heart today, whatever your troubles, because glorious things await you and His love will never leave you. 

Eat chocolate for breakfast and be glad!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Back from Chicago!

I've returned from the Windy City, where I had the pleasure of hanging out with a good friend and a kind cousin.

I liked Chicago.  It was friendlier than I had expected, fairly easy to get around in on public transportation, and it has a energetic, going-places vibe that I loved.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Year Round Gardening--WIth Unusual Veggies

One practical aspect of spring-and garden dreaming I'm doing is trying new foods.  I bought The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year by Niki Jabbour for my husband for Christmas, but I am starting to realize that I might have purchased it for myself.  Anyway, I figured that if this woman who lives in Canada can garden year-round, I should be able to at least stretch the growing season out here in the Midwesterm state where I live. 

The problem is that most of the vegetables that she marks as winter crops are ones I've never heard of.  So I have made two lists.  The first is the list of vegetables that I am already willing to eat.  (My beloved accuses me of being singularly unadventurous...)


I am willing to try:
pak choi
Swiss chard
parsnips (maybe)
rutabagas (maybe)

He bought arugula at the grocery store on Saturday, so we'll see how that goes....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Who Knew?

Because the studio expected it to bomb, the budget of Casablanca was so low that the plane used in the background of the final scene was a small cardboard cut out.  To give it the illusion of being full-sized, the producers hired midgets to portray the crew preparing it for take off.

The above tidbit is quoted from the book Who Knew? Things You Didn't Know About Things You Know Well by David Hoffman.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Green Onions

We like to use fresh green onions in a lot of our meals.  While they don't cost a lot at the grocery store, one doesn't have to purchase a bunch every week.  Instead...

1.  When you are at the grocery store, look for a bunch that have a good root structure.  Don't pick ones that have tiny root stubs as they won't grow very well.

2.  When it's time to use it, chop your green onion only down to a short bit above the white part.

3.  Use an old yogurt container or a small vase, fill up with some water, and drop the green onion stub in.

4.  Place somewhere where there is a bit of natural light.  The green onion will continue to grow.  When it grows long enough, chop down what you need and repeat.  It will keep growing and growing...


 If you leave the stubs submerged in water too long, they will begin to disintegrate.  What you need to do is every three days or so, pour out the water and add only enough to cover the roots lightly.  Leave the water that low for two or three days so the stem material can dry out.  Then you can add more/a higher level of fresh water the next time around.  Just repeat this process and your green onions will grow and not fall apart.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Land-Locked Mid-Life Crisis!

Yes, my beloved has lost it.  His youth, that is.  And he wants it back.

He bought one of these hamboards:

This is why allowances are such a good idea--because people we love buy ridiculous things!  He assures me that every penny will come out of his allowance over the next few months to pay back the cost....

Question 1.:  So what do you think?  Should I just be glad he can still move around?  Or that he hasn't bought a Ferrari?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dreaming of Spring

It is March, so it is time to start fantasizing about our garden.

This is our current garden:

This is our fantasy garden:

Yes, that is what I thought, too--we have a long way to go.  The other problem is that I usually prefer to make changes in smaller increments, and the fantasy garden requires taking a big plunge, at least in terms of fencing off the total area of one plans to garden.

One of the things that I want to think about this spring is what our goals for the garden are.  Do we just want occasional fresh vegetables?  Do we want vegetables plus enough left over to attempt canning?  Do we want to be like this blogger and use gardening to take a major chunk out of our grocery budget?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who Knew?

If Jell-O is hooked up to an EEG, it registers movements are virtually identical to the brain waves of a healthy adult.

I'm not sure if that says really bad things about our brains, or really good things about Jell-O.  I'm also wondering why someone tried it...

The above tidbit is quoted from the book Who Knew? Things You Didn't Know About Things You Know Well by David Hoffman.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Birthday Gift.... or Christmas?

I'm making an original, illustrated children's book for my godson Alex.  It was supposed to be for his 6th birthday, which is April 10.  The text is written and formatted, and all I have left to do is draw the pictures and do the binding.  However, I worked for a good four hours yesterday and this is as far as I got:

Since there are 62 pages total, I'm thinking maybe it's a Christmas present.....

I am pretty pleased, though, as drawing stuff that is supposed to look like something in particular has always scared me.  It's satisfying to do something that scares you and discover that you can do it reasonably well.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekly Round-Up

It's been a topsy-turvy week.

Last Saturday, at three o'clock in the morning, Grandpa Don died five days after a failed attempt at heart surgery.  I was one of many grandchildren (my mother was one of 14 children), and so I never got to know him very well, but he was invariably kind and welcoming to me.  It feels like a sort of general benevolence has left the world.  I seem to vacillate between sad and moody...

On Monday I did some volunteering at The Best Thrift Shop in the World.  Twice a year they have a massive series of sales, ending in a free day.  That's right -- everything on the shelf is free.  Help yourself.  Here is my haul.  Most of it is going to be raw material for various crafting projects.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Over the weekend I went to go so see The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.  Cast includes Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi, and James Gandolfini.

Going into this, I knew this was going to be a rather cheesy comedy.  And that it was.  It was still quite fun and enjoyable.  Magicians will enjoy it even more since they'll recognize the amalgom of magicians the characters are based off of as well as all of the back and forth theoretical bickering found at places online like the Magic Cafe.

Steve Carrell had some funny moments but I think Jim Carrey and Alan Arkin were the best.  Ha, and I laugh just thinking about the birthday party and the puppy scene...

Should you go see it?  If you like cheesy comedies with a thin plot then you won't be disappointed.  I don't mean that as a bad thing. Sometimes we all like a simple comedic piece that's a fun movie to waste some time by.

Here's the trailer...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Upcoming Projects

Two hints about what I'm planning to tackle next in the wonderful world of creative DIY:

They aren't the same project... although that would be pretty cool, I have to admit.

Now I offered to help The Magician with dinner because we are going to the circus with our goddaughter and her family tonight, and I know he's thinking I'll forget. So I'm going to surprise him and go saute some mushrooms before he gets home.....

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I’ll Take History for 500, Please.

The secular media keeps writing about the Catholic Church being “troubled” or “in crisis.”  At first I thought this was amusing.  But it’s starting to annoy me.  This is what happens when no one read Dante’s Divine Comedy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shhh... Project Is Done!

I still can't post anything because I haven't given the gift yet, but I spent three hours problem-solving in my studio and it is finished. 

It's something I'd never made before.  I didn't meticulously plan it either, so that added to the excitement as I didn't know exactly how I was going to pull it together!  I'm really pleased with how it turned out :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Life Hack #3: How to Organize Almost Anything

1. Hoard boxes of the same shape and size. 

2. Label said boxes. 

3. Include "catch-all" boxes with labels like "unsorted," "assorted," and "miscellaneous."

Here's the original mess, from my work on the Mosaic Angel:

Here are my organizing raw materials (plus some cardstock, not pictured)

Here's the final result:

This trick also works on a large scale, as you can see below. I have lots of fabric and misc. craft materials.  (Yup, I save stuff 'just in case.'  This also means that my husband is a saint.)  It's not pretty, but I can find what I need.

If you are interested in trying to this trick, one type of uniform-sized box that would be easy to accumulate would be cereal boxes.  Just cut off the tops at whatever height you need.  Granted, they would not have lids, but depending on what you're storing and how, that isn't necessarily a problem.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shhh... continued

I'm not going to be blogging as much these days because I simply must finish that secret gift!  But don't worry, Spring Break is next week, and I should have lots of time.

I'm not exactly sure how that project is going to work.  I've never made one before and there's some figuring things out still left to do.... I'll keep you posted.  :)

Budget Numbers for February

If it hadn't been for the car repair, I think we would have put a record amount in savings.  As it was, I'm just grateful to have put something in savings, and that we managed to pay the mechanic without breaking open the piggy bank.  But with the car expense in February and taxes coming up in April, I'm kind of hoping that March will be free of financial excitement.

Passive income: $2.81.

Payoff date for the mortgage: February 2020
Financial Independence: not any time soon

Monday, March 4, 2013

Life Hack #2: How to Fight Less with Your Beloved about Money

Don't you hate it when you are trying to live frugally in order to meet some important and long-cherished financial and personal goals, and your spouse goes out and buys something stupid that he or she plans to use frequently, but that you know perfectly well they will be bored of in a week?  After all, little things add up.

Our solution: allowances.  It sounds a wee bit juvenile, no?  But it is figured into the budget.  And I know as long as we are staying roughly within our budget, we are making financial progress.  So if my husband wants to buy complicated card/board games with too many rules, wizards, odd-ball dice, and creatures called Feral Ferrets, that's OK.  He is probably equally mystified by my spending my entire month allowance on a haircut and eyebrow wax. 

Allowances are done in cash, and can accumulate over time in order to save up for big purchases.  They do not include necessities, and semi necessities, like razors, socks, and getting ice cream together.  (If you're curious, the first gets lumped in with groceries, the second is in the fluid category "J./The Magician’s personal," in the last goes under "entertainment.")  The allowances need not even be the same size.  When we were first married, my allowance was $200 a month, and his was $35.  Now we both get $40 a month, although now we tend to just use allowances for things that we want to get that the other person thinks are silly, whereas before things like clothes used to come out of one's allowance.

Anyway, the upshot is that the other person's spending no longer feels like it's cutting into our financial progress.  We each have the freedom to indulge in those behaviors that make no sense to the other person.  Isn’t part of the adventure of marriage the fact that another person is never really going to make perfect sense?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Angel Mosaic Given at Last

Today the Magician and I gave the Angel Mosaic picture to the expectant parents.  They really seemed to like it (and it will match the nursery!), which is a really nice feeling.  Just a few more weeks.....

Life Hack #1: How to Eat Boring Cereal

I started doing this to wean myself off of sugary cereal.  I would combine sugary cereal with one that was a little bit more healthy (Honey Nut Cheerios in combination with regular Cheerios) and over time would gradually shift the ratio from about 50-50 two gradually having less and less Honey Nut Cheerios.  Since our house is now as gluten-free as possible, I am doing the same thing with Chex.  It is the most boring cereal imaginable, and I don't add any sugar to it at all, but by mixing up the flavors it is slightly less boring.

The phrase "life hack" is borrowed from one of my favorite web sites, which is also a good place to start if you are new to the whole frugality movement: