Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Monday; What are you Reading?

Joining in again at Book Journey; come and see what is being read by others!  I like to check out the posts by others to get ideas of what to read in the future, although my "Books I want to read" list just grows exponentially!  So many books, so little time!  I feel a little odd reporting that I am STILL reading the same book I posted 2 weeks ago.... A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

I am really enjoying it!  Along with delighting in the amazing prose of Dickens, I am learning a bit about the French Revolution and a period in history I didn't know much about.  I usually read through books more quickly than this, but... well there was a Thanksgiving Vacation thrown into the mix, and then an injury to my shoulder (which actually gave me MORE time to read, but the pain medicine made me drowsy so I would fall asleep while reading!)  But also, I am just taking time with this book.  It's like a delicious home cooked meal made by a master chef.... something to be savored and eaten slowly to fully enjoy every flavor.  Sometimes I go back and re-read a paragraph a few times just to let the words swirl around my brain a few times the way that one would taste a fine wine.

"The mill which had worked them down, was the mill that grinds young people old; the children had ancient faces and grave voices; and upon them, and upon grown faces, and ploughed into every furrow of age and coming afresh, was the sign, Hunger.  It was prevalent everywhere.  Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among it's refuse, of anything to eat.  Hunger was the inscription on the baker's shelves, written in every loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for sale." - from A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Also lately, when I am not reading I am listening to music.  When a song strikes me, I like to look up the lyrics and read along while I listen to the song.  So here is what I have been reading/listening to today; Amanda Palmer!
I really enjoyed the lyrics to Ukulele Anthem so I will share them here for you; Enjoy!  Oh and I might actually ask Santa for a Ukulele for Christmas, just because of this song!

Ukulele Anthem
by Amanda Palmer

sid vicious played a four-string fender bass guitar and couldn’t sing
and everybody hated him except the ones who loved him
a ukulele has four strings, but sid did did not play ukulele
he did smack and probably killed his girlfriend nancy spungen

if only sid had had a ukulele, maybe he could have been happy
maybe he would not have suffered such a sad end
he maybe would have not done all that heroin instead
he maybe would’ve sat around just singing nice songs to his girlfriend

so play your favorite cover song, especially if the words are wrong
‘cos even if your grades are bad, it doesn’t mean you’re failing
do your homework with a fork
and eat your fruit loops in the dark
and bring your etch-a-sketch to work
and play your ukulele

ukulele small and forceful
brave and peaceful
you can play the ukulele too it is painfully simple
play your ukulele badly, play your ukulele loudly
ukulele banish evil
ukulele save the people
ukulele gleaming golden on the top of every steeple

lizzie borden took an axe, and gave her father forty whacks
then gave her mother forty-one, and left a tragic puzzle
if only they had given her an instrument, those puritans
had lost the plot completely
see what happens when you muzzle
a person’s creativity
and do not let them sing and scream
and nowadays it’s worse ‘cause kids have automatic handguns
it takes about an hour to learn how to play the ukulele
about same to teach someone to build a standard pipe bomb

so play your favorite cover song, especially if the words are wrong
‘cos even if your grades are bad, it doesn’t mean you’re failing
do your homework with a fork
and eat your fruit loops in the dark
and bring your flask of jack to work
and play your ukulele

ukulele, thing of wonder
ukulele, wand of thunder
you can play the ukulele, too
in london and down under
play joan jett, and play jacques brel
and eminem and neutral milk hotel
the children crush the hatred
play your ukulele naked
and if anybody tries to steal your ukulele, let them take it

imagine there’s no music, imagine there are no songs
imagine that john lennon wasn’t shot in front of his apartment
imagine if john lennon had composed “imagine” on the ukulele
maybe folks would have more clearly got the message

you may think my approach is simple-minded and naïve
like if you want to save the world then why not quit and feed the hungry
but people for millennia have needed music to survive
and that’s why i’ve promised john that i will not feel guilty

so play your favorite beatles’ song
and make the subway fall in love
they’re only $19.95, that’s not a lot of money
play until the sun comes up
and play until your fingers suffer
play LCD soundsystem songs on your ukulele
quit the bitching on your blog
and stop pretending art is hard
just limit yourself to three chords
and do not practice daily
you’ll minimize some stranger’s sadness
with a piece of wood and plastic
holy fuck it’s so fantastic, playing ukulele
eat your homework with a fork
and do your fruit loops in the dark
bring your etch-a-sketch to work
your flask of jack
your vibrator
your fear of heights
your nikon lens
your mom and dad
your disco stick
your soundtrack from “karate kid”
your ginsu knives
your rosary
your new rebecca black CD
your favorite room
your bowie knife
your stuffed giraffe
your new glass eye
your sousaphone
your breakfast tea
your nick drake tapes
your giving tree
your ice cream truck
your missing wife
your will to live
your urge to cry
remember we’re all going to die


released 31 October 2011
Written and performed by Amanda Palmer (hear the song here; )

It's Monday!  What are You Reading?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tinsel Tissue Box "Gift" Decorations

So I saw this idea on Pinterest, but can't remember who pinned it or what website it came from!  But I could remember enough to try and make my own, even without instructions!  These turned out GREAT, it was fun to make, and I love how they look in my home!
Here's what you need;
empty tissue boxes
Tinsel Garland (your choice of colors)
Some pretty holiday ribbon & bows.
A hot glue gun & hot glue sticks
How to make it:
Start by wrapping the tinsel around the tissue box.  Use the hot glue gun to hold it in place, and layer it together close enough that you can't see very much of the tissue box showing through.

.....around and around you go.  Glue, Tinsel, turn, repeat.

Back and forth with the tinsel garland across the top of the box.  I didn't cover the bottom of the box, so it sits flat.

Wrap with ribbon and add a pretty bow, just like you would a present!  Use the hot glue gun again to hold the ribbon and bow in place if needed.

Here is another one I made;

So Pretty!

Here they are on display!  Pretty sparkly presents!  And I up-cycled those tissue boxes, they won't go in the trash but will continue to live on as Holiday decorations for many years to come!
Oh, and if you are interested in the pinecone vase centerpiece between the two gift box decorations, click HERE to see my blog on how I made that!
Interested in another UPCYLCLE Holiday Craft?  Check out the Holiday Wreath we made out of plastic grocery bags!

Easy Holiday Centerpiece

To make a really simple Holiday centerpiece, all you need is a big glass (or plastic) vase that you're not using right now.  Then get some small "bulb" or "Ball" Christmas ornaments and some pine cones;
We had these pine-cones from last Christmas.  They were cinnamon scented and some of them are glittery or gold!  I found the pretty green ornaments at the dollar store, where I also found the "Holiday Pick" which adds the "spray" coming up from the top.

I simply filled the vase up with the pine cones and Christmas ornaments!  Very simple and a pretty centerpiece for your Holiday table!

This only cost me $2.  It was $1 for the green bulb ornaments, and $1 for the pretty tinsel spray coming out of the top.  I simply re-purposed a vase we have and the pine-cones from last Christmas!

Up-cycled Holiday Wreath

Yeah, I know if you are like me, you fully INTEND to take the re-usable canvas bags with you every trip to the grocery store, but 9 times out of 10, you forget and end up using the awful plastic bags.  Also, if you are like me, you hate throwing them away, so you save them.  I mean, they make great liners for the bathroom trash bins. And they come in handy when cleaning out the cat's litter box.  But honestly, you will use.... what... 3 or 4 in a week, but bring home 18 more from your next trip to the grocery store.  These things MULTIPLY and before you know it, the pantry is overflowing with plastic bags, you finally get frustrated and throw them all away, only to have 30 more sitting in a chair in the corner a week later.  That is, hypothetically, if you're like me.

So here is a super-easy, cute holiday craft idea to use those plastic bags.  This isn't recycling, this is UPcycling!  Because this is WAY better than using the bag to line the bathroom trash bin and putting it in the trash after saving it because you didn't want to throw it away....

You will need;
An old wire coat hanger
About 25 - 30 plastic shopping bags
A nice pretty bow.

Here's how to make it;
Bend an old wire hanger into a circle. Or you can use any other type of wire that is sturdy yet can be shaped into a circle.   For mine, I simply twisted a wire hanger in half and bent it into a circle, leaving the hook on the top.

About 25 plastic grocery bags.  Any color will do, most are white or brown.  I had a bunch of the brown ones so that is what I used.

Scissors.  Cut each plastic bag into 4 strips.  Cut from the bottom of the bag to the top, and leave each strip folded in half the way it was when you cut it.  (so it's a double layered strip)

Tie each strip around the circle part of the clothes hanger or wire frame.  One knot is enough, and the ends will be sticking out.  It doesn't look pretty... yet.
Every 4 bags I tied a little piece of tinsel.  You could also add bells or other ornaments.

Once you have tied all the plastic strips all the way around the wire frame, trim the ends off.  I ended up cutting 2 or 3 inches off of the end of each strip.  Then you kinda "fluff" the edges out.  We added this pretty bow to the top.  Bend the hook of the clothes hanger down a bit, it's now the hook from which you hang your wreath!

If you wanted to get really fancy, before adding bows you could spray-paint the whole thing green or gold or whatever color you want.  But we were happy with ours just like this.  (my 13 year old daughter did most of the work on this one)  These would make great gifts for the kids to make for their teachers or grandparents!  More decorations could be added to make them more festive... use your imagination!  But hey, a great way to use those grocery bags!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thirteen Vacation Memories

It's time for another Thursday 13; a list of 13 things (anything!) on a Thursday!  (Yeah it's not Thursday yet!  But I missed last Thursday because it was Thanksgiving and we were ON this vacation!) Since we just got home from our wonderful family vacation, I thought it would be cool to share with you 13 of my favorite pictures/memories from our trip!

Our Thanksgiving Family Vacation! 2012

Brother & sister reading books in the car!  this was the longest road trip they have ever taken!  6 hours in the car is a LONG time!

Along the way we stopped in Cabazon, CA to see the big dinosaurs on the side of the road!

We arrived in San Pedro, CA and settled in to our cottage where we spent the next 3 nights!  It was so lovely!  Plenty of room for all of us!  The kids played kick ball in the front yard for awhile, they needed it after the long drive!

"Girl Time Bonding" with my mom!  We traded socks, now she has one of mine and I have one of hers.  Our "mismatched" pair of socks will always remind us of this vacation!

Thanksgiving Day, we walked to a park where some very fat squirrels would come right up to us for some bread crumbs!

There was a beautiful pond with lots of ducks to watch and feed!  And some very noisy geese as well!

Taking a walk around the neighborhood with my uncle.  My youngest son really bonded with his great-uncle, it was so sweet!

Waiting for the Thanksgiving Feast!

Day after Thanksgiving; Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.  At the "touch tank", petting some starfish and sea anemones!

more fun at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium!

Daddy and Daughter in the ocean!

Exploring the tide pools at Cabrillo Beach!  We found some really cool shells, starfish, sea-slugs, and had a great time!

We had some car trouble on the way home!  But it's just another memory... an "adventure"!  All worked out okay!  Being stuck in the desert was no fun but it just made us all the more grateful for our wonderful, safe, happy family vacation!

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I found this blog meme at Book Journey and thought I would join in!  Since I am pretty much ALWAYS reading something! 

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?

I was looking through books on my Nook last night to find something new to start reading.  I have several Terry Pratchett Discworld novels on there I haven't read yet, but since I have read like 7 of those already this year, I kind of wanted something different.  Neil Gaiman? Hunter S. Thompson?  Chuck Palahniuk?  While these great authors are certainly considered Classics in my mind, I decided I wanted something really classical.  Something I should have read, because it's considered a Classic.  So I browsed through my Classic book collection.  Emily Bronte'? neh. I tried reading a few pages of Wuthering Heights, which I read in High school... but I just wasn't getting into it.  Back to the Nook library.  A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.  Hmm... maybe?  I hang my head in shame when I say this; I have not read this novel before.  So what the heck, I will give it a try.

The first chapter; pure magic.  Dessert for my eyes, a magnificent treat for my brain.  Yes, yes!  Give me more!  I am really going to enjoy reading this, I can tell already.  And I've already chosen what book will be next on my reading list.  Just in time for the Holidays... after A Tale Of Two Cities, I shall read A Christmas Carol!

I would love to know what my followers are reading!  Leave me a comment and tell me what you are reading right now!  And check out It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? To see what other bloggers are reading right now too!


I should actually be getting ready for work right now.  But before I go, just a quick family update!  We are all excited about our upcoming family vacation!  We have never taken a family vacation before, and thanks to the generosity of my parents, we are finally able to do so!  So, there might not be many blog posts this week, I just wanted to take the time to wish you all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Easy Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

This is what I am making for dinner tonite.  I thought I would share the recipe, because it's really easy, and a recipe to fit a tight budget.  Cheap and Easy, just the way I like it!

Easy Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

You Will Need;
4 - 6 large chicken breasts, thighs, or legs.  Bone-in or boneless, whatever you have available!  You can either cut the chicken into smaller pieces, or leave it in big pieces... whatever!
1 large can (26 oz) Cream of Chicken soup (condensed)
1 large can (26 oz) Cream of Mushroom soup (condensed)
2 cans buttermilk biscuits.  You know, the refrigerated kind of biscuits that come in a tube that you peel open?  What are those called?  Canned biscuits?  I've never really thought of it before.
Various chopped vegetables.  Your choice.  Carrots, onion, celery, potato, mushroom.  All of those would be good but in a pinch I would choose the celery and carrots.
your large crockpot
4 to 5 packages of Ramen noodles, any flavor but for this recipe I am thinking Chicken would be best :)  These will be used later, and are optional.


Thaw the chicken.
In the crockpot, mix the condensed soup (both cans) and one can of water (26 oz).  Mix until there are no lumps.
Add the chopped vegetables and the chicken.
Mix well and turn the crock pot on low heat for 4 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

About 30 minutes before you want to eat (and when you have checked that the chicken is fully cooked), open the canned biscuits.  Separate the biscuits and cut each biscuit into fourths.  These are your "Dumplings" Mix the biscuit pieces into the crockpot.  They will float on top.  Stir well, replace lid, and turn the crockpot to High.  Let cook another 30 minutes.  ** Check the dumplings.  They should be soft and doughy on the outside, but cooked in the middle like bread.

Serve on top of pasta, or in a bowl like soup.
Enjoy!  :)

** If you want to serve this on top of noodles, cook your noodles while the dumplings are cooking.  I usually just use chicken flavored Ramen Noodles but you can substitute any kind of pasta you want.



This ever-working, always-moving, on-the-go
is tired.
My core aches and even when I
stop to rest,
I feel the Earth is moving still-
spinning, orbitting.
It will pass me by if I don’t move with it.
Look, another year
another candle on
another birthday cake,
and children run, laugh, scream
and pass me by.
Let me hold you,
look at you,
cradle you one more time
before I’m too tired
to remember.
If I could stop the Earth’s rotation
and just float
with you in my arms,
sleeping and laughing and smiling
I would never grow

Wendy J. McDowell
August, 2010

Looking through some old files, I found this poem I wrote back in 2010, and wanted to share it here.  I hope to maybe find some more of my old poetry to share here as well...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Home Organization Challenge - The Kids' Closets (week 8)

So I have been loosely following along with the 14 Week Home Organization challenge over at A Bowl Full of Lemons.  About 2 weeks ago I did the Kid's Closet Organizing Challenge, but hadn't posted it on my blog.... until now!

Check out the great advice and beautiful inspiring pictures at A Bowl Full Of Lemons - Organizing The Kid's Closets post! 

And here is what I did with my kid's closets!

My son's closet;


bought some hangers and hung up his shirts on one side, and his sweaters/jackets on the other side.  On the top shelf is one pair of shoes that are too big for him (in the box), and the other box is empty.  There is a duffel bag/backpack (empty) on the top shelf also.

The Bottom portion of his closet - BEFORE
Pay no attention to the big white stain on the carpet.  A bucket of paint got spilled after we painted his room.  But this picture is just to how you the mess... as a boy... when he is told to "go clean your room", it involved picking stuff up and throwing it into the closet!

The bottom portion of his closet - AFTER
I got him some bins to keep things in.  The plastic drawer thing used to hold his clothes, but we moved a different dresser into his room for his clothes and this one is now used for toys.  Each drawer holds a different kind of toys... green is the play tools and play dishes for playing house.  Red holds all his toy dinosaurs, and yellow drawer is just all the various small plastic toys.  On top of the dresser are two other boxes... one holds toy cars (Hot wheels/Matchbox) and the other one holds plastic army men.  The large bin on the right (behind the pirate ship) holds all his larger toys that are too big to fit on the drawers or small boxes. 
Two weeks later - he is still doing a great job keeping his room clean, with some gentle reminders from us of course!  But when he does clean up, he is putting everything in it's proper box!
The girls' closet.
My two daughters share a bedroom.  This "Before" picture isn't really the Real Before Picture.  This is after the girls, myself, and my husband had to go in there with trash bags and clear out their room because no one could walk through it.  It was a complete disaster... so this "before" picture doesn't look too bad considering the room had a major overhaul the week before!  But there was still room for some improvements!
Girls' Closet - BEFORE

Girl's Closet - AFTER
moved the metal bed frame to the back yard.  Got some more plastic bins for their smaller toys and organized them.  9Barbies, Barbie clothes, ponies, tea party)  Went thru the boxes and threw most of the contents away, filed the rest.

Girls' Closet - top shelf BEFORE

Girl's Closet - top shelf AFTER
Hmm... lots of room! All that remains is one box with some keepsake school parers, and I moved the sheets that the girls use on their bed to their closet, freeing up more space in my linen closet!
Fellow Procrastinators, listen up! These projects took A LOT LESS TIME than I thought they would.  I was able to complete both projects on my day off, just working a little at a time until they were done.  Once again I revisit the lesson that it always looks worse than it is, and doesn't take much time to fix once I focus and just do it!

Home Organization Challenge - The Office (week 4)

I actually did this Home Organization challenge a few weeks ago, but I am just now finally getting around to posting it on my blog.  These challenges are a part of the 14 week Home Organization Challenge posted by A Bowl Full of Lemons.  You can check out the Home Office Organization post to see the tips and advice... this was my inspiration for getting my Home Office area organized!  There are lots of great tips and ideas here please check them out!

My Home "Office" is one of those rooms that is ALWAYS getting cluttered and messy!  It was pretty much a disaster when I began this process, but disaster was pretty much the norm for this room!  Since I have gotten it decluttered, it has been much easier to maintain.  (Although right now as I type, I am looking around and I see it needs some work!)  But even when it does get messy, it's been so much easier and less time consuming to clean.  This is because; 1) I got rid of LOTS of Clutter... so there is less "stuff" to junk up the place.  and 2) Everything that I kept now has a "home", or a place it belongs.

First of all, getting rid of the junk and organizing everything else meant pulling EVERYTHING into the middle of the room and sorting thru this huge pile;

Then I spent a long time sorting through everything, throwing a lot of stuff away, and sorting the "keep" stuff into piles so that similar items would be grouped together. This kind of decluttering can be time consuming, don't expect to get thru a pile like this in less than an hour.  It helps to break it up into small 30 minute work segments, and give yourself breaks.  My whole office organizing project took me all week, because I would work on it for an hour or tow a day, 30 minutes at a time.

Here are the before and after pictures;

Side of Entertainment Center.  BEFORE

Side of Entertainment Center AFTER
The upper shelf now holds all photo albums & scrapbooks
The lower shelf has two plastic bins, one for photos that have not been placed in photo albums or scrapbooks, and the larger bin holds all of my scrap booking supplies.  These scrap booking supplies used to be in a different bin under the craft desk, which you will see in later pictures.

Under the entertainment center - BEFORE

Under the Entertainment center - AFTER
Just DVD's and CD's.  All that other stuff either got thrown away or found a new, more organized home to live in! (organized elsewhere in the office)

The corner behind the door.  BEFORE

The corner beside the couch - BEFORE

I am showing you these two areas, because well, obviously I wasn't making very good use of these spaces.  The corner by the door held NOTHING, it was just where random stuff would get placed and where cobwebs would collect.
The bookshelf next to the couch?  Well it wouldn't fit anywhere else in the room, so it had to go in sideways.  Which resulted in it not being used very well for a storage area, because it was NOT accessible.
BUT! When I realized that I could move our File Cabinet to the empty corner, I also realized that if I moved the file cabinet... it would give enough room to place this bookshelf along a different wall and it wouldn't have to be placed like this.
The problem was, this is where the file cabinet was;
Corner Shelving - BEFORE
Yep... the messy corner.  This is where the majority of that stuff piled in the center of the room came from.  I took everything out of this corner, threw it in a pile in the middle of the room, and started sorting it.  THEN....

Corner Behind the Door- AFTER
I moved that file cabinet (with help from hubby) to that empty corner.  Using the top of it to store board games.
With the file cabinet moved out of the way, I was able to move that ill-placed bookshelf from the corner by the couch (push the edge of couch into corner) and place the bookshelf over here in the corner....
Corner shelving - AFTER
This, obviously, I also after sorting through all the clutter and labeling everything!  Art supply bins, school/homework study supplies, children's educational books, and a box holding my stationary, envelopes & stamps.

Once again, just for emphasis;

Just to the right of these shelves is our art/craft/homework desk. 
Top of desk - BEFORE
As you can see, not much crafting was going on here, and the kids have been doing their homework at the kitchen table.  And yes, those are my husband's work boots on the table.  Don't ask me why.  Although, when messy is the norm, and a surface looks as cluttered as this for so long, it basically INVITES things to be placed on it that don't belong there!  Lesson learned!

Top of desk - AFTER
Paper & coloring books stored in magazine bins. Supplies such as crayons, pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, etc held in the little bins.  I even found curtains to match the new bins I got!  (All found at Big!Lots)
Under the desk - BEFORE
Remember the scrap booking supplies in the box under the entertainment center "after" picture"?  And the Art Supplies in the bins in the corner shelf "after picture"?  Well this is where all that stuff used to live!


Under the Desk - AFTER
yep, nothing left!  All that lives here now is this purple bin which holds my daughter's Girl Scouts supplies.
Well, that was my week long organizing project in a nutshell, finally here for the world to see!  I hope this has given you some ideas!  No matter how messy and cluttered a part of your home is, I hope this post can give you hope and inspiration and show you that YES, it CAN be fixed!  Don't forget to stop by A Bowl Full Of Lemons for some more great home organization & home decorating tips and ideas!