Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sewing Projects

While my camera was away at the shop, I got a few small sewing projects done.

This is a cute little zipper bag.  You can't tell from the photo - but it's a tiniest little thing.  It would be good for make-up.  I think, next time, I'll attach a strap.  This was so easy, though, if you have everything you need.  I think it took me 30 minutes, tops.


Magoo was invited to a birthday party of a female friend from school.  Her parents said she was into arts and crafts so I made this colored pencil case.  (This project is in SouleMama's book, The Creative Family.)  She makes hers with felted wool so you don't have to turn it - but I already had this fun fabric so mine might rate as slightly more complicated on the sewing scale - but only slightly.


Then I decided that I needed a kicky little summer bag - just something for my cell, wallet and keys.  I'm getting good use out of this IKEA fabric that I bought on sale.  It's a little heavier canvas.  I have to get back there and buy some more - I love this stuff!  The design is modified from this tutorial.

I'm having so much fun sewing little bag.  I wonder who's birthday is coming up???

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tire Swing

It's a rainy day today - well, it started out rainy.  I think it's shifted to damp now.  But I thought I'd pull out a couple picks from the weekend of the new tire swing.  Taking snapshots of my little Tarzan on a moving object turned out to be a bit of a challenge, but some of them turned out cool.  Like this one.
I never could quite catch a smile though.  But trust me, he was smiling.
See, smiling eyes.

Although I have no pictures of this, yesterday, Magoo and I went to see Nim's Island at the movie theater.  I love movies and Magoo loves them too.  It was fun to sit, just the two of us, in an otherwise empty theater and share some (home-popped) popcorn and watch his little eyes take it all in.

In some ways, he's such a big kid.  But seeing that small body stretched out in the huge chair, he was still my little boy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Yellow Cupcakes

Magoo was invited to two birthday parties this weekend.  He had been to a small party, a few weeks ago, for a close friend and the friend's mom made a gluten-free, casein-free, yeast-free honey cake b/c she's moving into the gluten free world too.  So that was very nice.  But this weekend there would be regular cake and regular pizza that all the kids would be eating them - except Magoo.

Now I had already mastered GFCFYF pizza.  I didn't know if Magoo would want the other pizza, but at least I knew he liked my option there.  But the cupcakes were new.  Also, there's a difference between getting a cupcake and gelling a slice of the Thomas cake with a candy wheel on it - you know?

So we talked about it ahead of time - me, being unsure if he really understood.  But he was fine. He usually is.  I worry - he's fine.  He ate his own pizza.  He ate his own cupcakes and didn't complain once.  At one party I even heard one of the other kids go, "I want a cupcake."  :)

So here's the recipe, modified slightly from the Living Without webpage.

YELLOW CUPCAKES

1/4 cup canola oil (or you can use 6 Tbsp vegan spread)
2/3 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
1 cup white or brown rice flour
6 Tbsp potato starch
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice with enough rice or soy milk to equal 3/4 cup
*it also calls for 1 tsp vanilla extract, but Magoo can't have that b/c of the alcohol content so I just added a bit more fresh lemon.

Preheat oven 325F.  Line muffin tins.

In one bowl mix (electric mixer): oil (or spread) and eggs.  Add grated lemon peel.  Mix.

In another bowl mix: flours, xantham gum, baking powder, baking soda  and salt.

In another bowl (I know, too many bowls, right?) combine lemon, milk and honey and vanilla, if you're using it.

Okay - now you're going to combine these things, but you're going to do it gradually.  Bowl #1. with the oil and egg mix, that's you're main bowl.  Add a little dry (flours), mix, add a little wet (milk, etc.) mix, add a little dry, mix, add a little wet, mix, end on adding dry, mix.

Spoon about 3/4 full in cups.  It will puff up in the oven, but when it cools, it will shrink to the right size.  For Magoo, I topped with a thin coat on honey and some shredded coconut.  For me, pictures, a thin coat of honey and blueberries.  (Raspberries would be good too.)  They turned out very well, they are lemon fresh and my husband thinks they more more like the consistency of a pound cake.  They're nice and light and great for the summer!  

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tulips at Elizabeth Park

My camera is back!  To borrow a quote from Sweeney Todd, "At last my arm is complete!"  (Although I'm not sure what that says about me that I'm relating to Sweeney Todd. Oh well.)

We have had such nice weather here and my neighbor informed me, earlier in the week, that the tulips were coming up in the park.  Anxiously, I awaited the return of my camera so I could take Magoo over there and snap a few shots.  And I brought a cookie to bribe him!  Good thinking, huh?

This is the lovely little green house (they also have a much bigger one) that sits next to the tulip garden.

Magoo gets a wiff.
OOops - one yellow bulb got mixed in!  (I should note that while some of the beds were in full bloom, many others hadn't started opening yet - therefore, so wide shots.)

And here's my guy, posing for cookies.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Author Photos

On Tuesday I had a local photographer, Bill Morgan, take my photo for my author shot.  (Yeah, vanity!) Viking will use it in their catalog and maybe on the inside of the dust jacket of the book.  (And probably the New York Times will want one for their cover story on awesome picture books.)  And since I'm starved for images for the blog b/c my camera is still not back, I'll share the best two.

I think I like this one is my favorite.  We did a ton of shots and sometimes Bill would ask me to close my mouth.  I always felt like I was emoting a happy feeling even with a closed smile, but mostly I just looked pissed off.  I don't want the kiddies to think a mean lady wrote the book - so I think smiling is best.  Plus this is my favorite necklace.

This one is good too.  I have some of these with a closed mouth and some of them look really good but they read like I'm promoting a serial killer thriller and not a picture book.  This is nice though - a little milder in my glee.  Viking might prefer the lighter background.  We'll see.  Either is fine by me.

And can I just say, all my mad Photoshop skills came in handy retouching these babies.  Oh, yeah!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hand Made Paper

The universe was telling me to make my own paper.  This is something I used to do - pre- marriage, pre-child, but I hadn't done it in quite some time.

As we all know, being "green" is a big thing these days and I've been trying to do my part and consume less and create more.  So a few weeks ago I thought - maybe I should make some of my own paper again?  Then, through my leisure blog browsing I came across this tutorial.  Finally, while watching the kid's science show, Beakman's World, with Magoo - they made paper too!

So, you see, I was commanded to do so...
Ta-da!  Hand Made Paper!


The first thing I had to say is that Magoo showed very little interest in this.  He helped with one piece.  But, after pressing a few myself, I realized that it is a bit of a complicated and delicate art.  He likes his art more sturdy so I can't really blame him.  Besides, he had a new tire swing to play on.

I pressed about ten pieces in an hour and stuck them to the sliding glass door to dry.  (If I had my camera, I would have taken a picture of it b/c it was kinda cool.)  I thought that when the paper dried, the pieces would fall, gently, to the ground.  No, no.  They stuck.  They stuck good.
So around 8pm I was cussing and doing my best to peel them off without ripping them - only tore one piece - collage bin!

So I have a nifty stack of hand made paper that will most likely become cards.   It was fun - but it is a process.  And a set-up.  And a clean-up.  So it was high - maintenance fun.



Monday, April 21, 2008

No Images

It was a beautiful weekend.  We all had a lot of fun and got a lot of things done.  And I couldn't snap a singe picture of any of it.  :(  But the bright side is that Canon said they would, indeed, fix my camera for free so I'm hoping, hoping, hoping to have it by Friday or Saturday.

What we did:

On Friday, the whole family (Michael, Magoo and I) went to visit Mike's sister, Pam, in her new place.  She lives in the country and it was a beautiful day to play squirt guns in the yard.  Pam also lives close to a very cool playground.  Unfortunately, there were a decent amount of bees there and Magoo has developed a new fear - although he was not stung.

Saturday, I got a call from the gallery in town and they sold my big koi painting (the one in the banner.)  So that's great.  I have to get started on more and I have to start clipping those Michael's and JoAnn's coupons so I can buy some new frames 40% off!

We also put up Magoo's tire swing!  (Although it wasn't finalized until Sunday.)  Yeah!  It's very fun and Magoo loves it.  I'd post pics of him swinging - but, you know, no camera.  Hopefully soon.  Sunday afternoon there were 7 neighborhood children in my back yard all playing on the tire swing and the hammock.  Maybe a few too many - it's not a big yard.  But it also made me come to the realization that I'd probably better not put a lot of effort into reseeding back there b/c the kids are just going to destroy it anyway.

I also made: a tote bag, 2 pairs of shorts and 1 very cute colored pencil case for a birthday party we are going to next week.  (It kills me that I don't have a camera!!!)  And a TON of great food!

Friday, April 18, 2008

How to Make a Button

I'm offering up a video today. I can't remember where I found this: angry chicken? soulemama? But this is a Miranda July video and if you know who that is, most likely you will enjoy this. If you don't know who that is - I really can't say. But I just love the way this girl thinks.

How to Make a Button

Have a great weekend, everyone. Or rather, Shirley.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Visit to the Farm

We're having a gorgeous week.  And it's a good thing too, because it's April Break and I have to keep us both entertained.  Yesterday, we met up with some friends at the farm.  


Before we left, I thought, "I wish I had my camera."  Then I saw that I hadn't yet returned my neighbor's camera - so I re-borrowed it.  Te he.  So here's the farm.  Most of the animals were out in the field.  What you see in the lower right corner is a black sheep in a white T-shirt.  I can't say for sure why the sheep is in a T-shirt, but my theory is that b/c it's black it doesn't absorb the heat like the white sheep do.  (Because they weren't wearing T-shirts.)  Or maybe it's just very fashion forward? 

Here's Magoo walking the line.

If there's one thing that Magoo is very sweet about, it's sharing.  Magoo is going through a growth spurt right now.  He's eating, eating, eating.  So I make sure to bring along a snack.  His buddies didn't have a snack so he was very nice to give out his chips.  I don't think I was this generous when I was five.

I love this shot!  We found a lovely little clearing in the woods outside the farm and the kids all just ran around in there.  I think we all really enjoyed the sunshine and the feeling of nature and Spring.  This image just captures it perfectly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly

With all the diet changes we have been making in the house - it seemed appropriate to do a papercut of an old lady who was going through a similar change.  (No flies in our diet, though!)

This was fun, but I really enjoying making the ones with the folds.  There's always something magic about opening it up and seeing the symmetry.  I'll have to start thinking of a new design.
Hmmmm....

Other things:
My kitchen is hoppin' at 8:20 am this morning.  I have fresh gluten-free, casein-free, yeast-free bread backing in the over and pasta sauce cooking on the stove.

I shipped my trusty Canon Powershot off in the mail yesterday, back to the company, for a repair.  If it is the glitch I think it is - they will fix it for free.  Here's hoping...

I'm taking three more paintings into the gallery in town.  So if those sell, and Canon does not repair my camera for free - maybe I'll be able to afford a new one.  

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Little Bit of Planting

Ha!  I had a pic in the pile and a couple that I took with my neighbor's camera, so I can still post a few photos.

This first one was taken about a week and a half ago.  I had saved a couple egg cartons to make starter gardens for marigolds.  I've always liked marigolds because they're hardy.  I'm not the best gardener in the world.  My interest wanes pretty quickly - so I need a plant that's going to do most of the work for me. 
Here's Magoo giving me a helping hand with the watering can.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Here's my little starter garden in the back "sun" room - which is really the small enclosed place behind the kitchen where most of the crap goes.  But I cleaned it out a bit to let my little lovelies get some sun.  (All marigolds and 1 carrot that Magoo planted at Kindergarten registration.)
And here's a close up of the sprouts.  Isn't it exciting!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Eggs

An egg is still a food on Magoo's new diet - good thing he likes them.  So almost every morning we make him a nice scrambled egg.  And he likes to help too.  (Although this weekend we did make GF pancakes - not bad.)

I don't know if I'd ever used an old fashioned egg beater to beat eggs before in the past.  Magoo picked this out at the grocery store and it was at a time when my electric mixer was on the fritz - so it's worked out well.

Enjoy this photo - because now my digital camera is on the fritz and I have to send it in to the good people at Canon.  (I'd better get back to the paper cutting b/c I won't have any photos for awhile. Or maybe I'll simply have to go back through my old ones.)  Time for some creative blogging!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Couple Things

Saturday, I am taking a couple of my koi paintings into the Center Framing and Art Gallery in West Hartford to hang.  This will be the first time I've had work in a gallery-for-sale setting.  Should be interesting.  I hope they sell.

And if they do - I can paint more koi!!!
In the front garden the daffodils are up and poppin'.  I have some lovely crocuses too, but they are in back of the bushes - how'd they get there?  I think once they start to die off I'll try to move them to a better location.  Also, I have not mulched back there so it's still full of old leaves.  Maybe this afternoon?


I love that it's warming up and the kids are all out playing now - but it also means I have to take a good hard look at the yard.  It's not pretty.  We refuse to use chemicals and with all the kids running about on it - well, let's just say that the people with the lawn businesses ALWAYS drop a flyer off at out house.  :)  Still, we'd rather have kids running around then a beautiful lawn.  But it'd be nice if we could have a decent one - at least.  I need to buy some seed.  Oh, Lowes?

I hope the daffodils are blooming for you!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Clay Time

A couple weeks ago, in our Monday morning art class, Magoo and I worked with clay.  The first project was a pinch pot.
I have to confess that I didn't win a mothering award this outing.  Magoo isn't used to working with clay like this and I think he needed more time to just explore it's textures and what he could do with it before it became project oriented.  But the teacher was showing the kids how to make a pinch pot so I was pushing the project.  Well, it ended in a melt-down.  I learned a very good lesson that day - a lesson I already knew but had to be reminded of - art isn't fun if someone is cramming it down your throat.

We went and settled down and then, of course, he wanted nothing to do with the clay.  The class had moved on to making masks - so I just sat down with his clay and began to work with it.  I made the face form and the nose and brows, then he came back over and added a mouth and put smiley faces on the cheeks I had built up.  I would have never thought to do smiley face cheeks!!!  In the end, the mask was a joint project and I think it turned out well.  He painted it all on his own, though.

When I hung it - originally in the kitchen, but it's too active in there and it fell and broke off a couple hair pieces (all but one repaired) - Magoo said, "That's a cool mask."  Yes.  Yes, it is.

It's new hanging place in the living room.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In Your Face, Toys R Us!

Yesterday was a gorgeous day!  Warm, sunny, and look how the green is coming back to the grass.  I'm loving it!

It was the afternoon when I saw some of the neighborhood kids playing with a couple old tires.  My neighbors had cleaned their garage out and were getting rid of them.  I called "dibs" on two because we want to make a tire swing for Magoo.  But there were two left.

The kids were trying to roll each other in them and stack them and get in.  Then they asked if they could borrow my two - SURE!  They set up a series of games - running through them like a football team - this (above) is a jumping game.  Oh, and there's the high tech - card board box in the middle.  

Not a battery needed.  Not a dollar spent.  Just kids using their imagination and playing together.  It was great.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

You know you're hard core when you're making your own chicken nuggets from scratch - right?!  I have to say - up front - this was a time consuming recipe.  But it makes a big  ol' batch and you can freeze them for later.

(Notice my beautiful new stainless steel skillet!  It's so pretty!)
CHICKEN NUGGETS

1 lb. chicken cutlets (I used breast meat) - cut into chunks
1 large onion, diced (You can taste the onion, but it's not overpowering.  But if you really don't want to taste it - cut it back to 3/4 of the onion or use a small one.)
2 tsp dried parsley
1 small pear, peeled and grated 
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (I made GFCF and Yeast free bread that morning.  That stuff's just not tasty.  But it was good for bread crumbs.)

Breading:
More bread crumbs and crushed potato chips (Check the oil on the chips!  Cottonseed is bad if you have yeast sensitivities.)  I don't really know how much I used, I just kept crushing chips and bread until I had enough.

1. Chop everything.  This is the time consuming part.

2. Put chicken, onion, parsley (Oh, I forgot, I added some mixed Italian herbs for flavor - that's up to you), pear and 3/4 cup bread crumbs in a food processor and mix those babies up.

3. Press small balls of the chicken mix into a nugget shape with you hands.  Place bread crumb/ smashed chip mix on a shallow dish and press the nugget in the "breading" to coat it. Have a few plates ready to hold the coated nuggets.  I filled three dinner plates.  

4. Heat up a skillet and pour in enough oil (I used Safflower) for shallow frying.  I used a Med. High heat.  Fry those nuggets up - about 8 minutes per batch - turning constantly.

The whole thing took me about 90 minutes start-to-finish.  But I fed the three of us for dinner and have about 3-4 servings in the freezer for Magoo.  All in all, I'd say they turned out well.

Friday, April 4, 2008

At the Beach

Today it is rainy, so I will showcase some photos from last weekend when we went down to the beach.  It was an evening beach outing.  We were staying over at my mother-in-law's and we thought a little after dinner exercise would be a good idea.  When we pulled into the parking lot, Magoo looked sad and said, "We didn't bring our bathing suits."  Heck no!  It's much too cold!
Magoo and Mike choose rocks to throw.
This is Poppy, my sister-in-law's dog.  Poppy needed some exercise too.  She was very excited to be there and it was a challenge to get her to sit still long enough for this pic.
A little rock climbing...
Then it got cold so Mike carried Magoo back to the car.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sugar-Free Zucchini Muffins

The biggest challenge in my life at present is that we are trying to go yeast free for the health benefit of my son. This is a HUGE change. Because on a yeast free diet - and we are mainly on Stage 1 of this diet - we have to eliminate: yeast, sugar, chocolate (fermentation), peanuts (mold), maltodextrin and other "malts" (which are in everything), vinegar (which is in everything else) and certain fruits: apples, grapes, bananas and any products with apples, grapes (raisins) and bananas. Oh - also, no aged cheese. AH! Right? Well, it certainly takes some getting used to and I spend a lot more time at Whole Foods. (My pal, Shirley, calls it Whole Paycheck.) But at least it's down the street.

But Magoo LOVES muffins. Do you know the muffin man? Yes, it's my son. So here's a recipe from Feast Without Yeast for Zucchini Muffins.

ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

4-5c. grated zucchini
1 c. unprocessed honey (unprocessed honey retains more nutrients than processed)
1/3 c. melter butter (no margarine)
2 large eggs
3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. baking powder
5/8 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans.

Grate the zucchini and place in a colander to let it drain. Occasionally, press on it to smush the extra liquid out. Set aside.

Beat (by hand or electric mixer) honey, butter and eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Then fold the zucchini in by hand.

Fill muffin pans 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes. (If you're doing bread loaves, bake for 35-45 minutes. Loaves will come out denser than muffins.) Makes about 24.

Magoo took one look at the zucchini on the top and said, "That's seaweed." I assured him it was not seaweed and he gave it a try. He loved them! *phew* Keep a few in tupperware and freeze the rest.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kicky Tote Bag

Oh - how I love a good tote bag! My husband can tell you - I love bags of all sorts. Some women love shoes. I love bags and boxes. So when I saw this tutorial from the Purl Bee - I got very excited.
But this bag is not for me - oh no. I love to give of the tote bag too. This bag was made especially for my wonderful sister-in-law Pat for her birthday. We'll say her 38th birthday! The outer fabric is a good, strong canvas that I got on clearance from IKEA. (the only drawback is you have to wait 15 minutes for an IKEA employee to make it back to textiles. I was about ready to cut and price the thing myself.) And inside is just a standard yellow cotton. I got the straps from Jo-Ann fabric. Not including time to wash the fabric - the whole thing took 2 hours start to finish. And I think it came out pretty nice. My husband said it looked so good he thought a 14 year old Indonesian girl made it.

Happy Birthday, Pat!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

And the Winner Is...

"You wanna get with this?"

Congratulations Aimee!

So many great entries, so hard to choose. So I went with the one that gave me the most immediate laugh upon reading it. Honorable Mention prizes will go to Aki and Teo for being the youngest entrants - we'll call them Winners in the Under 10 category.

A little background: because I sell my art at shows and such, I have to do quarterly sales taxes which often find me on the phone to the IRS because I really don't know what I'm doing. One of these times, while on hold, I started doodling this lady, which was basically capturing the way I felt at the time. (Not the cigarette.) My own personal caption was: "A lady always wears earrings."

My husband's was "Got milk?"

Aimee, I'll get those cards out to you this week! Thanks again to everyone who played!