Saturday, June 7, 2014

A (Grand)Mother's Life

I've reached my breaking point...again.

I desperately need to escape, if only for a few days.  But I know it can't happen.  There are messes to clean, meals to cook, laundry to wash, and children who need a little guidance and a lot of love and attention.

I'm tired.  I'm lonely.  I'm broke (financially).  I'm broken (emotionally). And I'm under more stress than I ever thought I could survive.

But I'll wake up tomorrow and take care of business as always.  Because somebody has to do it.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tomorrow

I've been going through an overwhelming struggle for a while now.  Most of my days are consumed with depression, loneliness and isolation.  I can't quite figure out how I got here.   And I can't seem to find my way out.

I'm old and tired.  I've been raising children for almost four decades, and I still have another ten years until the youngest finishes college.  We've been struggling financially since the economy tanked, and our nest egg flew the coop long ago.  But I also know I have received many blessings.  My husband has a job (actually two--thank God for a hardworking man).  The children are healthy, and for the most part stay out of trouble (driving your Nana crazy isn't a crime, although maybe it should be).  And even though it's crumbling after nearly 25 years, I do have a home, albeit one with several non-working appliances, a leaky roof, and a septic tank that needs thousands of dollars worth of repairs.  Yes, sometimes life stinks.

And I feel God's love every day.

But it's still hard.  The closer I get to God, the more I think I'd rather be in His presence than in the presence of so many unkind, selfish and sometimes evil people.  But that isn't my choice to make.  God placed me here for a reason and it isn't my job to question that.  So for now I need to suck it up and complete the task I've been given.  If Jesus could do what was asked of Him, who in the world am I to wimp out now?

There's a song I love, "Before the Morning" by Josh Wilson, that sums it all up in such a beautiful way.   I hope you'll watch the video below.  It isn't easy suffering through the trials that make us who we need to be.  But God knows what He's doing.  And He's here to hold us up every step of the way.

I'm sitting here in the dark before the morning.  I'm ready to watch the sun rise and face whatever tomorrow brings.  I know God will be there waiting to accompany me on my journey.  And that gets me through the day no matter what happens.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Toddler Matching Game

I wanted to make my two-year-old grandson a small gift I could mail inexpensively, so I decided on a matching game.

I started with a double-sided 12x12 sheet of cardstock, and cut it into 3x3 inch pieces, which gave me 8 sets of cards.   I used the Cricut cartridge Boys will be Boys to cut images that I knew would be perfect for Logan.

After piecing the image layers together and attaching them to each card, I realized the cardstock wasn't really as sturdy as I had hoped.  I decided to cut another heavier sheet of 12x12 cardstock and glue it to the back of each card. 




I then laminated all the cards using my Xyron Creative Station and the two-sided laminate cartridge.



Did you know you can cut the laminate right up to the edge of your paper?  I only recently learned this in the product description on the Xyron website.  I do suggest that you make your layered image small enough that you have a wide, flat margin around the edges of the card to allow the laminate to stick firmly to the card base. 


Eight pairs of cards is probably a lot for a two-year-old, but I figured his parents could start him off with only a few and gradually add more as he progresses.  (Okay, I admit that as his grandmother I think he's a genius and can match as many cards as you put in front of him.)

I thought a small drawstring bag would be the perfect container for the game, so I dusted off my sewing machine and made one.  I decided to personalize it with iron-on vinyl.  I used the Cricut Craft Room design program to size and arrange my letters (from the Cricut cartridge Plantin Schoolbook) so that I could easily transfer them to the fabric bag. 


In hindsight (which seems to be my preferred method of looking at things), I probably shouldn't have used the cord lock since it could possibly become detached and create a choking hazard.  I guess I just got carried away because I was actually making something!

My sweet grandson sharing his new toy with his sister.  






Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Journey...so far

This is the story of who I am.  It's about God's grace and redemption.  And how it's there for everyone.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my fragile mental health and just how much time I have left before my impending complete nervous breakdown.  I struggle to get through most days.  The reasons are complex and span 55 years.  Suffice it to say...I'm broken.

Some nights things are so bad I lie in bed and hope to take my last breath.  I don't want to live.  I don't deserve to live.  I've let so many people down.  So many people have let me down.  Life is hard.

Sometimes I have a good day and I feel like the pieces of me are starting to mend.  Then something happens and I come unglued.  God keeps picking up the pieces and carrying me to where I need to be.  I don't know why He doesn't just leave me where He found me, and move on to someone with more potential.  But He loves me.  For some reason, He loves me.

I've tried too many times to navigate my life without my GPS (God's Plan for my Service).  I veer off course, but He's always waiting for me to turn to Him to help me find my way.  Usually I listen for a few minutes, then my mind starts telling me, "We got this.  Bootstraps.  Pull.  Yeah, we can do it."

I can't.

I've been asking the wrong question.  It isn't "Why is God allowing me to suffer so much pain?"  The question should be "Why am I not willing to listen until I'm completely broken?"  And broken I am.

My heartache and disappointment aren't God's way of punishing me for my sinful, willful ways.  It's His way of calling out to me, "I'm still here.  Just reach out for Me."

God has a plan for each of us.  We might never know exactly what that means.  At least not here on earth.  But we aren't here by accident.  Each of us is here for a reason.  I try to recognize that fact each and every day.  But more often than not, I convince myself that I'm not making any difference in the world.  In my self-centered, distrustful way, I believe I'm God's one big mistake. 

I always feel like such a failure.  I let God down on a daily basis.  Multiple times.  But God doesn't really need any of us to do His work.  He allows us to do so for our own good.  He can do anything He wants without any help from us.  He wants us to need Him.  He wants to be our friend.

I might never be bubbly and happy, or the person who lights up a room.  That just isn't who I am.  I'm human and I carry a lot of baggage.   Huge, heavy baggage.  But deep within me, joy exists.  I know God loves me.  And that gives me a sense of peace like nothing else.  Maybe I can't find a reason to LOL.  But within my soul there's happiness.  Sometimes it's buried deep within.  But it's there.  God loves me.  Me.  He loves you, too.  I hope you know that.  I hope you feel it.

I've heard it said that even if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have died just for you.  If you can wrap your mind around that, you will understand what keeps me going.  Honestly, I have a hard time comprehending that most days.  I feel insignificant.  I feel unworthy.  I am unworthy.  But Christ died for me anyway.  Or for that very reason.

Sometimes I think my existence on earth hasn't made even the smallest difference.  I'm raising my granddaughters, but I'm doing a lousy job.  I'm tired and resentful, and unfortunately, it shows.  I try to be loving, but honestly, I'm simply burned out.  But in the midst of the chaos of our lives, both girls are growing into loving, thoughtful young ladies who strive to be Christ-like.  I'm not sure how much of that is because of me or in spite of me.  But I do know that God can use even the most flawed humans to do His work.

Despite my reluctance to go on sometimes, I'm still breathing, thanks to God's neverending grace and mercy.  If you haven't already, I hope you will reach out and take God's hand.  He's there waiting just for you.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mason Jar Tumbler

I had seen so many cute Mason jar ideas that I decided to save my empty Classico spaghetti sauce containers, which just happen to be Mason jars.  We must eat a lot of spaghetti because I have amassed quite the collection.  I wasn't sure what to do with them all.  But then I saw the cutest Mason jar tumbler for sale, complete with a flower cutout in the lid, and an idea popped into my head:  Maybe I could use a steel-rule die to cut a design in the lid of one of my many jars.  Unfortunately, they were all the really large 32 ounce containers from Costco.  Oh well, this was just an experiment.  I can always save the finished product for those really bad days when I need a Cougartown-size glass of wine.  (Yes, Doctor, I allow myself the recommended one glass of wine per day for health benefits.)

Looking at the depth of the lid (these aren't the two-piece lids that come with empty canning jars), I decided the Movers & Shapers dies from Sizzix would probably work best. The only one I had that might possibly work for my project was a small keyhole die. It was almost the same depth as my lid, which was about the depth of an original Sizzix die, so I knew I could safely feed it through my Sizzix Big Shot.



Once I had the Movers & Shapers die in place inside the lid, I realized it wasn't as tall as the sides of the lid, which meant it wouldn't make contact with the die cut machine.  I knew I needed some rather thick shims, so I reached for another Sizzix die to cut a few circles from heavyweight chipboard.

 
One pass through my Sizzix Big Shot provided enough circles to create the height I needed.
 
I placed the lid and keyhole die between two cutting plates and ran them through the Big Shot.  It cut through the lid pretty well with just a small piece that didn't cut completely.  I used gentle force to separate the stubborn areas.
 
Now for a word of caution about using the die in this manner.  The steel-rule shape in my die pushed through the wooden die base slightly, either because the total thickness of my shims created too much pressure (looking at the picture above, I think I got carried away with the circles) or because I needed to use a more solid shim to provide a sturdy base for the die (or both).  My die still works fine, though. 
  
 
The cut edges of my lid were a little rough, so I used a file to gently smooth them.

Since my lid was gold, I decided to use Martha Stewart Craft paint in gold to cover the lettering.  Nobody really wants to know they're drinking from a spaghetti sauce jar.


A few coats of paint later, my jar was ready to serve as a very large tumbler.  I make no claims as to how well this will hold up to repeated uses (or the dishwasher), but it was fun to experiment. 
I think these would be cute to make for an outdoor summer party.  The lids would help keep those pesky bugs out of the lemonade and iced tea.  I would suggest using a smaller jar, preferably one that can be safely gripped with only one hand.

Sadly, the Classico Spaghetti Sauce at Costco is now sold in a slightly different style jar.  Time to move on to a new obsession.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines for the Grandchildren

The past week has been difficult, to say the least, and I didn't get cards made for my grandchildren.  (Chatty Cathy was definitely disappointed.  The Princess doesn't care because she has a date!)
 
These are from last year.  The monkey and sentiment are from the Cricut cartridge Sweethearts.  For extra fun I used googly eyes and attached the head with a homemade version of action wobbles.  I embossed the background using the Cuttlebug folder Heart Blocks (pink paper for the girls and red for my grandson). 


 
 
Thanks for visiting my blog!


Valentine's Day Card for my Husband

 
 
Since it's actually February 14th already, I'm starting to doubt I'll get a Valentine's Day card made for my husband before the day is over.  I haven't had a spare moment all week.  Chatty Cathy came down with the flu on Saturday, and about the time she started feeling well enough to go back to school the snow started piling up outside.  It's been a crazy week with kids and hubby underfoot, and cardmaking just wasn't a priority.
 
This is the card I made my husband last year.  The background paper is from the Recollections stack Love Letters.  The die cuts are from the Slice design card Je t'adore. 
 
Thanks for looking! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wives with Knives

I'm tired.  My granddaughters made it clear to me yesterday that they think I do nothing around here.  I did a lot of nothing today.  And by "nothing" I mean seven loads of laundry, picking up crap all over the house, helping my granddaughter with a last-minute craft for tomorrow, repackaging the six pounds of ground beef I bought at Costco, cooking dinner, etc., etc., etc...

I thought I'd get a break from cooking today.  Usually we have take-out for Sunday dinner, but since tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday I was planning to cook all the fattening foods that are taboo the rest of the year.  I don't watch the Super Bowl, but I try to make it a fun day for my husband since he does.  Anyway, I figured if I was cooking tomorrow we'd get take-out today.  Made perfect sense to me.  But I guess I was alone in my thinking.  So I ended up cooking a fancy meal of hot dogs and cole slaw.

I doubt most married couples fight over cole slaw.  My husband and I do.  I like onions in mine and he doesn't. 

The fact that my husband hates onions is usually only a mildly annoying issue.  Until he ticks me off about something else.  Then it feels like grounds for divorce.

While I was doing my early preparations for dinner this afternoon, I made a comment to my husband that made him angry.  Suffice it to say I was right and he was wrong.  Trust me on this.

Well, he thought he could get snippy with me.  Not a good idea when I'm holding a chef's knife.

I grabbed the ingredients for the cole slaw:  cabbage, carrots, mayo, etc.  I started chopping and grating and mixing.  I was tired.  I was hurt.  I was angry.  So I did what any self-respecting wife-with-a-knife would do: I grabbed an onion and started chopping.  And then I dumped the whole thing into the cole slaw.

Revenge is a dish best served with onion.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tile Photo Coasters

For the past few years I've given my adult children gift baskets for Christmas.  It's hard to know what to buy them, and I can't afford lavish gifts they can't buy for themselves, so making gift baskets just seems to be a nice way to give them gift cards or cash without it seeming so impersonal.

Mostly I've been filling the baskets with homemade candy or cookies.  But after a while it just gets stale (literally and figuratively.)  This year I decided to take a stab at making candles for my daughters in addition to the usual junk food.  I tried making small candles for my granddaughters last year, but it didn't end well.  For some reason I thought I could make even bigger candles for my daughters without having practiced once in the past 365 days.  Yes, I did the same thing over again expecting different results.

Insanity.

But those candles made it into the gift baskets anyway.  (Maybe I'll post about that another day, just for kicks.)

Since I couldn't imagine my son-in-law lounging in the tub with a scented candle, and he would be sharing the gift basket with his wife, I decided I should make something a little more manly that he could appreciate.  Or at least something he could use.  Tile coasters with pictures of their children seemed like the perfect handmade gift.  Yes, chunks of stone sitting on the coffee table in a brand-spanking-new home with two children under the age of two is the perfect gift.

The tutorial I used can be found at leelala.net.  Here's my take on the project:

I purchased 4 x 4 inch tumbled stone tiles at Home Depot in a package of nine for just under $5.  I liked the rustic look of these.  They looked like they would hide mistakes imperfections well.


After editing my photos to the color and size I wanted, I taped tissue paper to cardstock and printed them. (This can be tricky with some printers, so be prepared to make multiple attempts.)  I then trimmed off the excess tissue paper.  Using a foam brush, I coated each tile with Mod Podge and gently applied a photo.

As you can see, bubbles and wrinkles will happen.  I gently pressed the wet photos to smooth them.

I allowed each tile to dry completely, then applied the first coat of Mod Podge over each photo.  I applied a total of three coats of Mod Podge, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Due to the irregular shapes of the tiles, there were a few photo edges that had to be either trimmed down or glued and pressed down against the sides.  I waited until after the initial coat had dried to do this.  I also brushed a couple of coats of Mod Podge around the sides to help seal everything.

After my final coat of Mod Podge had dried, I sprayed a couple of coats of clear acrylic sealer over each photo to further protect the coasters, allowing the first coat to dry complete before applying the next. 

When the sealer was completely dry, I cut four pieces of felt to apply to the undersides of the coasters.  A standard sheet of felt I purchased at Michaels was large enough for all four coasters.  I used Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive to glue the felt to the tiles, but I'm sure many other brands of glue would work just as well.

Who wouldn't love to see these adorable faces peeking out from under their coffee cup?


In hindsight, being that it's 20-20 and all, here's what I learned:

Don't attempt to work with tissue paper and Mod Podge with too little sleep and too much coffee.  Shaky hands, glue and tissue paper aren't a good combination.  Especially when you've run out of time to try printing the photos again and the home improvement store has closed for the holidays.

Which brings me to number 2:  Don't wait until Christmas Eve to get started.

Be gentle with the tissue paper when placing it onto the Mod Podged-tiles.  Now is the time to kick your perfectionism to the curb.  If your photo isn't perfectly centered, just go with it.  Trying to move it could cause you to utter foul words you didn't even know you knew.

And again, perfection isn't your goal.  When you get bubbles in your tissue paper photo, and you will, just gently work them out as best you can.  And the crinkles that will appear out of nowhere?  Those just give it character.  Keep repeating that until you believe it.





Saturday, January 4, 2014

Man vs. Woman

I woke up feeling sick yesterday morning, and today I'm feeling even worse.  In the ensuing 30+ hours I've completed 7 loads of laundry, loaded and emptied the dishwasher, shopped for groceries and, when I realized the only thing I felt like eating today was soup, I chopped up a whole bunch of potatoes, onion, celery and ham and made myself ham and potato soup.  In a few minutes I'll start repackaging the economy-sized meats I purchased yesterday so I can freeze them.  And I'll wash the pots and pans I used earlier to make the soup.  Then I'll start dinner.

My husband woke up sick this morning.  He spent the first few hours lying on the sofa watching movies.  When that got to be too much for him he announced he was going back to bed, which is where he is still.  Oh, and he did manage to eat a bowl of my homemade soup before going to sleep.

Who says women are the weaker sex?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Penguin Christmas Card


Last Christmas I helped my granddaughter make a last-minute card for her teacher, who loves penguins.  And by "helped" I mean that I made a last-minute card for her teacher. 

The penguin is from the Cricut cartridge Winter Frolic.  To create the snow, I cut a strip of white cardstock the same width as the red background and tore the upper edge to give it a fluffy, "snowy" look.  I then enhanced it with the Cuttlebug embossing folder D'vine Swirl.

Because I can never seem to get anything done in a timely manner, my holiday cards will always be posted a year late.  After all, who really wants to see a Christmas card on December 26th?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pretend Babies and Life Lessons

For a while my now-15-year-old granddaughter has being telling anyone who will listen just how much she wants a baby.  I can't possibly convey how alarming these comments are to me, a woman who already finds herself finishing out the last years of her life raising someone else's children.  I can't live forever.

A few days ago we learned she would soon be bringing home an electronic baby doll as part of a class at school. I've always thought this could be a real eye-opener to a teenager who thinks only of how cute babies are, and doesn't consider the never-ending (and I do mean never ending) work involved in raising children.

The baby was delivered early.  I thought I had a few more weeks until the big day, but due to circumstances beyond my control the baby arrived yesterday.  My family has being trying to find time to drive to the mountains and enjoy the fall scenery for several weeks, and finally we thought this weekend would be a good time.  Not so with the unexpected arrival of our great-grandchild. Already the new mother complains about any attempts we make to get her into the great outdoors; I can't imagine making her go hiking on a chilly Saturday with a newborn in tow. Some things just aren't worth the struggle.

Last night we went out to dinner as we usually do on Friday nights.  (No date nights for hubby and me--it's almost always a party of four, one kids' menu, please.)  I thought maybe the baby would cry all through dinner giving my granddaughter a taste (no pun intended) of trying to eat with one hand while soothing a screaming baby with the other and fending off angry looks from other diners.  That's always been my experience with small children.  But no, my new great-grandson never made a peep throughout the entire meal.  My granddaughter enjoyed her meal without interruption and with the use of both hands.

After dinner we did what we always do to round out a nice, romantic evening with the kids--we went to Costco.

We were quite the sight-- a haggard old couple followed by a teenage mom carrying her baby through the store, and an embarrassed younger sister hanging as far back as possible. A few unpleasant looks were thrown my way by the other patrons who didn't seem to notice this wasn't a real baby. (Being the "mother" of this teenager, I'm sure this unfortunate pregnancy was my fault, just as has been every other bad thing that's ever happened in the history of mankind.)  But the baby never cried or whimpered at all.  My granddaughter's arms got tired after a while, but since she wasn't doing the grocery shopping she had the freedom to find a comfy chair and sit a while.  So far I was seeing nothing that would discourage my granddaughter from jumping into motherhood prematurely. 

This morning when I had so hoped/needed/planned to be enjoying a crisp, autumn day surrounded by God's beautiful handiwork,  but stranded at home with my granddaughter and faux great-grandson, I listened with astonishment as my granddaughter took a leisurely 45 minute shower, using all the hot water that I had planned to use for my own shower, and preventing me from getting started on the 7 loads of laundry I had to do today.  And her baby slept through every single minute!  I haven't had an uninterrupted shower in over 35 years.

I seem to be the only person who has been taught a life lesson this weekend:  even fake babies have a way of interfering with my plans.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Birthday Card for a Young Man

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My nephew was turning 18 and I couldn't come up with any ideas for his birthday card.  I knew I wanted to emphasize this milestone birthday, which eventually led me to the numbers theme.
 
Using Cricut Craft Room (CCR) and the free cuts available in Cricut Craft Room Basics, I welded numbers from 1 to 17 in different sizes and orientations to fit on a 5x7 card front.  It was a little tricky because after welding quite a few numbers together the program started to act a little unpredictable.  I think I saved my project and exited the program a time or two in order to get it to work correctly.   Also, to help me size my number shape to fit the card, I added a 5x7 rectangular shape from CCR Basics on a separate layer prior to beginning my number shape so that I would have a visual aid to help me plan my design.
 
After I was pleased with my number design (or when I began to fear that CCR would lose all functionality if I kept tweaking the numbers), I cut just the layer that held the number shape.  I wasn't satisfied with the color of the cardstock I had chosen so I used a brayer to roll ink onto a Darice embossing folder called Dot and ran it through my Sizzix Big Shot.  I cut the number 18 from the Cricut Cartridge Calligraphy Collection.
 
To assemble the card I glued the number shape onto a patterned cardstock rectangle from the DCWV Timeless Type stack, which I cut at 4 3/4 x 6 3/4.  I then wrapped hemp cord around the middle of the rectangle a few times and knotted it on the left side of the card front.  I adhered the number 18 to the right side using foam dots, then glued the card front to a 5x7 kraft paper card base. 
 
Thanks for visiting!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Precious Legacy

I've been struggling against God and His will for my life for a long time now.  I guess it's human nature, and contrary to popular opinion, I am human.  But I had other plans, and I couldn't convince Him to get on board.  Trust me---in these situations, it's a losing battle.  God always wins.

I love my granddaughters more than life itself.  But I always thought that when I finished the task of raising my own children (and it wasn't an easy one), I'd have many good years left to spend with my husband having all sorts of exciting adventures.  But before our baby finished high school, we found ourselves raising our first grandchild.  And then our second.  Fifteen years later, our lives are consumed with school, after-school activities, post-after-school activities, and all the expenses that go along with such an exciting lifestyle.

I've been known to grumble about these responsibilities (sometimes on this very blog!).  But once in a while, when I pull myself out of the black hole of despair and back to reality, I realize the task God gave me isn't without its rewards.  I have two beautiful, kindhearted, loving granddaughters who warm my heart and make me feel hopeful for the future.  They have persevered during some very difficult times and are becoming wonderful young women.  And somehow, my selfish outbursts during times of extreme distress don't seem to have harmed them.  They are thriving.

When I read stories in the Bible of all the great men and women who came before me, I feel shame.  My time on earth will only be remembered, briefly, by those in my very close circle of family and friends.  I won't go down in history as a remarkable person.  I doubt a Google search of my name will yield any results five years after I'm gone.  But if my greatest legacy is that I gave two precious children the best life possible, I can live with that. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Another Giraffe Card for Teresa



I've written several times about my sister, Teresa, her love of giraffes, and the tragedy that changed all our lives.  She recently had another birthday, which under the circumstances is both heartbreaking and a blessing.    As much as we hate to see her suffer, as long as she lives we have hope that God will give us a miracle and bring her back to us.

I thought I had used every giraffe image on every Cricut cartridge I own until I remembered Noah's ABC Animals, which I had only recently purchased (and by "recently" I mean within the past two years--not nearly enough time to have actually used it.).  It was nice to have something new that I hadn't sent to Teresa before.  I'll always make cards with giraffes for Teresa, at least until the day she wakes up and tells me "Enough with the giraffes!!!"  I long for that day.

In addition to using Noah's ABC Animals to cut the giraffe, I used a Spellbinders die from the Labels 25 set for the blue background.  Adding a little ink and twine made me feel like an artist.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hey, Dude

I'm starting to look like a dude.

I thought I hated it when I was called "ma'am", but I'm pretty sure the first time someone addresses me as "sir" will push me completely over the edge.

I've noticed a degree of masculinity creeping into my face and voice.  Even my body no longer has womanly contours.  And I seem to be developing a bad case of male-pattern baldness.  It's sad. Really, really sad.

Today my granddaughter came into the room and addressed me by her grandfather's name.  I corrected her, but she didn't even realize what she had done.  It just seemed so natural to her.

Old age sucks.  Becoming an old man isn't going to make it any easier.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Adventures through Corn Relish


 


I wanted a little more adventure in my life.  Since world travel is out, I thought I could use my cooking talents to add a little excitement to my daily existence.  Wrong.
 
My family says I'm a good cook.  I have no reason to think they're lying.  They've been exposed to "outside" food, so it isn't that they have nothing for comparison.  Yes, they could lie to prevent me from screaming, "Well, if I'm such a bad cook I just won't do it anymore!".  But think about it--if they hated my cooking, wouldn't they want me to stop?  So yes, I have some degree of talent in the kitchen. 

Why, then, won't they branch out a little and eat something besides tacos and spaghetti?
 
No matter what's on the menu, there is at least one out of three who won't eat something.  And I'm not talking about toddlers.  The youngest is in middle school and the oldest is...well, supposedly a grown man.  And I have a chef's knife.  A chef's knife!  By definition, that should mean I'm a chef.  Every chef I've ever seen gets to spread his wings and fly.  I'm still perched in my nest watching the world pass me by. (That sounds like the beginnings of a great poem.  I think I'll work on that later.)
 
We were walking through Costco after church this week at sample time.  (You know, mid-day when the store is packed with people looking for a free meal, one tiny paper cupful at a time.)  I usually try to avoid sample time because I hate crowds, especially those that knock over small children to get that one last mini cup of ravioli.  But it was necessary this week, and I'll admit I partook of a few offerings myself.  But what really got my goat was when my granddaugher and my picky husband both tried pretty much everything that was offered!  My husband actually came to tell me how good the hummus was.  Hummus!  I can't tell you how many partially-eaten containers of that very hummus I've thrown out because I'm the only person in the house who eats the stuff, and after a couple of weeks straight of trying to finish it by myself, even I get tired of eating it.  And don't get me started on the spring rolls...
 
Well, I decided after watching the two of them scarf down a variety of semi-exotic foods (by their standards, at least), I would once again try to expand their horizons by getting them to try something new at home.  I decided to start with corn relish.

I've made corn relish (or salsa, or salad--call it whatever you want if it will get someone in my house to taste it) several times in the past and couldn't get anyone to try just one little bite. Yesterday I decided to make crab cakes for dinner.  Ever since the first time I had crab cakes and corn relish in a restaurant (I have to eat out just to get a satisfying meal), I've been trying to perfect my own version (since I can't eat out every day).  I even decided to sort-of follow a recipe, figuring my family would be more willing to try it if they knew it was a socially-acceptable dish and not just something I made up.
 
Nobody even tried it.
 
What is the harm in tasting a new food?  Even I don't like everything.  But I'll try anything once (unless its primary ingredient is an insect).  I'm not a big fan of barbequed chicken.  But I fix it for my family once in a while and I eat it.  I'm not particularly fond of pulled pork sandwiches.  But a few times a year I'll buy a pork roast and go through the painstaking process of cooking and shredding it.  And I eat it. 
 
Tonight we had hot dogs. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doll T shirt and Yudu Cardshop




As someone who can't resist a bargain or a new crafting toy (or a bargain on a new crafting toy), I recently purchased a Yudu Cardshop.  Okay, I confess, I purchased several of these.  I first purchased two from the Cricut.com website when they were on sale for $3.99 with free shipping.  As usual, I was less-than successful on my first few screenprinting attempts.  But that didn't stop me from purchasing 5 more of these from Cricutmachine.com when they had a buy-one/get-four-free offer.  I'm not insane.  Well, at least my insanity played no part in my decision...

I reasoned that I could use the extra mats, screens and inks that came with the kits.  I also bought some multi-packs of ink (another buy-one/get-four deal), which came with emulsion remover.  I hoped that I could use the remover to reclaim the pre-burned screens that came with each Cardshop, and I would then have several to use with vinyl designs (instead of needing to burn emulsion-coated screens, which isn't possible with the smaller Yudu system without purchasing or making a light box).  Even after paying a rather high shipping rate, each item came to less than four dollars.  And I now have a lifetime supply.

After successfully cleaning one of the pre-burned screens, I cut a stencil from vinyl with my Cricut using the Mickey and Friends cartridge.  (There are several Youtube videos and blogs that explain how to use vinyl in screenprinting.)  The most difficult part of the experience for me was getting the vinyl to adhere to the screen completely.  Also, it was frustrating that each vinyl stencil can only be used once since water breaks the bond with the screen, and with each failed print it was necessary to cut another piece of vinyl. (Luckily, I have a lifetime supply of vinyl.)

I had heard from a couple of different sources that the inks can be washed out if done so prior to heat-setting.  This was just the information I needed to get the courage to try my first fabric project.  The project was a fail.  So was removal of the ink, even though I immediately put the shirt in cold water.  There was still a dark stain from the ink.  Not willing to give up, I then soaked it in Oxi-clean and ran it through a wash cycle.  Still there.  I finally soaked it in bleach for a full day, to no avail.  Eventually, I made a second attempt at printing and just made sure I lined up my design to cover the remains of the first one.  And this time it was a success.  The shirt has a slight pink tint and a few faint smudges, but overall I was pleased with the results. 

As a side note to further prove I have an obsessive need to collect a small stash of supplies for every type craft known to humankind, I finally used my heat-setting tool (that I just had to have a few years ago because everybody else was buying one) to affix a few crystals to the jeans that came with the t shirt.  Two crafts in one project.  Yeah, I'm ambitious like that.  
 
(As of today, Cricutmachine.com is still offering the BOGO deal on the Yudu Cardshop and inks.  I am in no way affiliated with them except to the extent I shop the website way too often.)
 
Thanks for visiting!



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Scraplifted Halloween Card




 
 
Yes, I totally scraplifted this idea last year. 
 

 
I fell in love with Amy's card the minute I saw the little monsters peeking around the edges inside.  I had to make a few substitutions on my version, such as using an embossing plate to create the spiderweb background and replacing the twine embellishment with a spiderweb border (this was prior to my amassing a lifetime supply of baker's twine).  I couldn't find the stamps she used, but I found some little creatures I thought were cute and worked especially well for children's cards. And since I was too lazy to even come up with my own idea, it should surprise no one that I simply stamped my monsters in black ink and called it a day.
 
Amy has a great video tutorial on her blog if you'd like step-by-step instructions on how she created her card. 
 
Thanks for looking!
 

 
 


 
 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mr. Potato Head Birthday Card

 
 
Since I haven't been crafting much lately, I dug around and found a picture of a card I made last year but never got around to posting.  When I simply can't come up with an idea for a masculine birthday card, I usually resort to something silly and childlike.  Since most of the men in my life act like children (at least once in a while), it's all good.
 
Mr. Potato Head is from the Cricut cartridge Toy Story.  The Cuttlebug Happy Birthday folder was used to emboss the black background.
 
Thanks for looking!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Welcome, Sweet Pea

 
 
My daughter, along with her husband and young son, recently welcomed a daughter into the family.  I was so blessed to be asked to be there during such a special time, but since I was staying for ten days after the birth I was a little late getting the congratulatory card to the family.  (Yes, another more punctual person would have prepared it sometime during the nine months prior, but that isn't who I am.)
 
I used the Cricut cartridge New Arrival for the pea pod baby and the words "Sweet Pea".  I used a tiny flower with a liquid pearl center to adorn the baby's head (she's a dainty little girl, after all).  The name was created with the font from Cricut's Baby Steps cartridge.  I used a Martha Stewart border punch to create the lacy strip at the bottom, and then layered some washi tape onto it before adhering the name.
 
Please allow me to introduce baby Adaleigh, who looks so very much like her mother did many years ago:
 
 
 
Needless to say, we have all fallen madly in love with her.
 
Thanks for looking!
 
 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ceiling Fan with Vinyl Accents

 
 
After months of incessant whining, it seems only fair I should post something craft-related for a change.  Unfortunately, I had to go way back in time to find something that I had actually completed.  We'll just call it a "vintage" creation.
 
 
 
A few years ago the ceiling fan in my granddaughter's bedroom stopped functioning.  (Yes, it took me that long to post this.)  Anyway, we took her shopping for a new one, but as usual, the price-gouging for child-themed products was alive and well.  I wasn't going to participate.
 
We found a basic white fan that was within our budget.  Not one to enjoy seeing a child's dreams crushed, I convinced my granddaughter that we could dress it up with my Cricut and vinyl.  I would let her choose the designs, and I promised it would be cuter than any of those we had seen in the store.  (Until they reach the teenage years, children are pretty easy to please.)
 
From the Cricut cartridge Create a Critter she chose five animals.  I measured the blades of the fan to determine what size to cut each critter and its accessory.  I then cut all the layers from vinyl and used clear Contact paper (instead of transfer tape) to layer the pieces and apply the finished designs to the fan.
 
I swear it didn't take me as long to complete the project as it did to post it to my blog.  A lot of life has happened since I took this picture.  The fan blades are caked with dust.  Light bulbs have been replaced.  My granddaughter graduated from elementary school.  But the vinyl is still going strong.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Good Deeds with Bad Consequences

God help me, I'm one Facebook insult away from losing it.

As I've written about many times before, my husband and I have given up most of our dreams and aspirations (and our entire life savings, home equity and retirement funds) to raise two of our granddaughters.  The grandmother of the youngest seems to have given her family the impression that we wrenched the child out of her grasp and have been holding her hostage ever since.

About once every three months or so, usually around a holiday or birthday, Granny sends me a Facebook message asking if she can pick the child up for a day or two.  We almost always comply without hesitation.  There have been very few times we already had something planned, but in those cases I have always suggested the following weekend, and always make it clear that we can work out a different time if necessary.  Much more often though, Granny cancels because she doesn't have money to buy gifts for whatever holiday she's trying to celebrate.  And I'm left to make excuses to the child, and often to smooth over the disappointment.

Daddy pays no child support.  Never has.  Actually, many years ago we loaned him a large sum of money to "start a business", which nearly resulted in criminal charges against us.  Details are unimportant to the story, but it does lend credence to the saying "No good deed goes unpunished."  Daddy never arranges his own "playdates".  He lets Mama do all the work and he tags along.  And sometimes he brings his girlfriend-of-the-month.  Good parenting.

Granny likes to post on Facebook every time she has plans to pick up her granddaughter to show the world how wonderful and devoted she is to the child and how much her granddaughter loves and lives to spend time with her.  (Lots of embellishment goes on over at Facebook--or as I like to call it, "Fantasyland".)  Granny's sister seems to enjoy posting nasty comments about how "they" don't let her see Granddaughter often enough.; Granny loves her granddaughter so much she "deserves to see her more'; and how terrible it is that she isn't allowed to spend more time with her.  Somehow Sis has been led to believe that Granny isn't being allowed to see her granddaughter as often as she'd like, rather than the truth--that Granny sees her as often as she wants.  No more, no less. It's all very much like repeated slaps to the face.  I don't wish harm to come to anyone (most of the time), but if these people dropped off the face of the earth I doubt I'd lose any sleep over it. 

I don't even feel that I can defend myself against these unfair comments.  I don't want to create an unpleasant atmosphere.  But I'm sick of feeling attacked for doing nothing more than taking on the responsibilites of others and arranging "playdates" with those who couldn't be bothered to do the hard work associated with raising a child, and often having to be the voice of reason who encourages the child to go spend time with these people when she'd much rather be doing something else.

There's a remote island somewhere on this beautiful earth and it has my name on it.  I hope I find it.  Soon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sometimes Nanas Get the Blues

A few days ago my daughter gave birth to her second child.  I gladly traveled a few hundred miles to stay with my 18-month-old grandson while his parents were at the hospital.  I don't see him nearly often enough, and it was definitely a nice diversion from the stresses at home.

Lately I've been suffering from severe depression and anxiety.  Though they've been long-term members of my psyche, only in recent months have they been keeping me awake at night.  Between the frequent nasty comments directed at my husband and me on Facebook (more about that never-ending drama here), the stress of living out of a suitcase for much of the summer, children constantly reminding me of my every real or perceived imperfection, and just the fact that I'm completely exhausted by life, it's hard to quiet the voices in my head long enough to fall asleep.

I took my grandson to meet his new baby sister shortly after her birth.  He wasn't as thrilled with her arrival as the rest of us were.  At first he simply seemed confused.  He had been hearing about this "baby" and "little sister" for what seemed like an eternity (and in reality, half his life), all the while his mama's stomach had been getting bigger and bigger and looked more and more like his favorite toy, a ball.  But now Mama was holding this tiny little thing instead of him, and it didn't look at all like a ball.  And come to think of it, she'd left him alone with this strange woman who looked only vaguely familiar. What in the world was going on??? 

What is that tiny creature Mama is holding?  Hey, wait!  That's my spot!  That's my Mama!  Yeah, that's right...put her in that little basket and let her cry a while.  Oh, no!  Why are they giving her back to Mama???  This can't be happening!  I'll show her!  I'll show them all!!!

My daughter tried to get her son to sit next to her on the bed.  He had been betrayed, left alone with a stranger, and he would have no part of this blatant pandering.  He turned and ran toward me.  I promise you, this has never happened before in the 18 months he's been here.  As a matter of fact, he usually runs in the opposite direction. 

No doubt, he was mad

At some point and with enough coaxing, his love for his Mama and his need to be near her got the better of him.  He climbed up for a quick hug and a sneak peak at Little Sister.  He wasn't impressed.  Besides, there were still lessons in loyalty to be taught.  He regained his composure and ran back to me.  It took all he had, but he managed to avoid climbing into Mama's arms and reclaiming his rightful place.  He finally gave her a perfunctory kiss and we headed home for the night.

At bedtime my anxiety got the best of me.  My heart was racing.  The pounding in my chest was unbearable.  I turned on my computer just to take my mind off my body, and then I heard my grandson crying.  I waited a few minutes to give him time to calm dawn and fall asleep, to no avail, then went upstairs to get him.  We rocked for a while.  He would close his eyes and start to drift off, then quickly glance up at me to be sure I was still there.  This had gone on for 15 minutes or so when I realized my breathing had slowed and my heart was no longer trying to escape the confines of my chest.  I was calm.  And then he was sound asleep.

It seems we both just needed reassurance that we were wanted and loved.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Poptarts and Water Bowls

I heard my husband go into the bathroom just outside my craft room door.  A short time later I heard the dog scratching at the bathroom door, most likely thinking, "Why is the master's husband doing his business in my water bowl???"

This scratching went on for several minutes.  I found it oddly rewarding.  Finally, after the 35 years I have spent dealing with kids of all ages rattling the locked bathroom door as if their needing a poptart constituted an emergency, my husband got a small taste of what I've been through.