Thursday, July 31, 2008

Loco V. Toco

When Magoo watches TV it's usually PBS: Curious George, Cyber Chase, things like that. But on Saturday mornings, he's allowed to watch some shows on Fox. And, as a result, commercials on Fox. Every ten minutes when there's a break, there's an add for a big Monster Truck rally.

"Monster Trucks! Monster Trucks, Mommy!" he screams, jumping up and down. Yes, he's very much into Monster Trucks right now.

And that's what he's been making with his LEGOs.


He and his father LOOOOOVE LEGOS. And it's really a great toy because it allows him to be creative and unplugged.

It's also allowing him to try to work out some functional aspects of things. It's just good all around.

But the best part, for me, are the names he comes up with for these truck. Now the first one has a classic Magoo truck name, Loco V. Toco. But sometimes he gets very formal with his names, like a race horse or the winner of the Westminster Dog Show. The second one is Bowling Ball V. Taurus Scratcha Monster Truck. (I asked him twice and wrote it down so I'd get the name just right.)

The names usually have a dinosaur aspect and the initial V.
Magoo uses V. a lot in his speech. It's kinda like his own version of "fa shizzle."

If you answer a question right, you'd be "V. correct!"
A dinosaur with a long neck is a "Necka V. saurus."

He seems to do it just for the sheer joy of the sound Veeeeeeee.

So everyone, I hope you have a loVeeely V. day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lazy Days

It's really been a lazy summer around here.  So many kids are in camp all day or on vacation. Poor Magoo often asks, "Do I have a play date today?"  Somedays we do.  Some days we don't.  So I'm trying my best to keep him occupied.  The other day we did some outside collaborative painting.
 
Our neighbor, J, stopped by briefly to help with the art.  This is their masterpiece.

I like it.  I think it's good!

And here's another work of art...


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bag Pre-Sale

The Sale is now CLOSED.  Thanks to all my wonderful buyers!  I really appreciate it.









Monday, July 28, 2008

Soynut Butter Cookies

A few months ago, my friend Shirley recommended that I pick up a copy of Living Without Magazine. It's not perfect for our diet issues - but it comes darn close. And that's where I found the recipe for Sunbutter Thumbprint Cookies.

Now these are not actually those cookies. Sunbutter has sugar in it - so we can't use it. But unsweetened Soyut Butter is okay. Also, in the original - you add jam to the middle. Personally - I would like that a lot. But not so much for Magoo. And since these are cookies for Magoo - I went for the tradition fork design.

Here's my version:

SOYNUT BUTTER COOKIES

Ingredients: 2 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour mix
¾ tsp. xantham gum
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) Earth Balance “Buttery” Spread
½ cup agave
½ cup honey
1 cup soynut butter, unsweetened & creamy


1. Mix dry ingredients together.

2. In separate bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add agave and honey and beat until fluffy. Add soynut butter and blend.

3. Slowly add dry mix to the soynut butter mix. Blend. Cover and allow to cool for AT LEAST an hour. Overnight is even better.

4. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Scoop out golf ball sized cookie batter onto sheets. Bake 8 – 10 minutes.

6. While cooling on the baking sheet – make criss-crosses with fork. You may want to have a small dish of flour to dip your fork into to prevent sticking.

7. After 5 minutes – transfer to cooling rack.

These cookie are best when stored in the fridge. They freeze well. And they're really good. They're not just Gluten-Free cookie good - they're Mmmmmmmmgood!

IN OTHER NEWS - I decided that instead of waiting until I had a complete set of bags to open the Etsy shop - that I'd present a few tomorrow and see if there are any takers. Let's call it a pre-sale. I'll snap pics today and they'll be up tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Bathroom is Finished

Anyone who has been to my house knows that I had paint samples up on my bathroom wall for months. I wanted something blue. Maybe a little like Tiffany blue - but with a touch of green. I wanted something lively - but calm. And I wanted the 1940's ice cream parlor wallpaper gone.

I didn't really think ahead to take a good BEFORE shot. But you can see the stripes. They're not the most awful thing in the world and I lived with them for 6 years - but it was time for a change. And see those tulip sconces? Yeah - those were going too.

So I ripped a few pieces of wallpaper off thinking it would motivate me. Nope. I just lived with that for awhile. Finally I think my husband got so sick of my procrastinating that he started working on it. Then I felt guilty so I started to help. Then he left. He's slick - that one.

Anyway - it's done. Ta-da!

It's hard to get a good picture, because it's not a large space. But I went with a color called Porch Swing Blue and - lucky for me - Linens N Things were having a going out of business sale, (not lucky for Linens N Things) so I got some new towels and accessories too.

New sconces. You can't really see them - but they are just simpler, cleaner. New cabinet for over the toilet. And I wanted to pump a little color in there so I did a couple pieces of collage.

I feels really nice to be in there. My house is so "lived in" that it doesn't really feel decorated most of the time. But this room - for now - feels DONE. I'm really happy with it.

And it's always nice to have new towels.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cover of Vogue

I was visiting Angry Chicken the other day.  She found a very fun and addictive program that lets you upload your own pics in fun scenerios - like the Cover of Vogue!



He looks good - doesn't he?

Of course - this meant that I had to take a picture of myself to do it too.  And that meant about 20 minutes of taking picture after picture until I got one where I didn't look like a dork.


This is a total time waster - but it was so much fun!!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

T-Rex Sighting

There's a big dinosaur show in New Haven.  But with big dinos come big prices.  So we opted for the free mini-show at the mall.  We got there early enough to get a good spot - but bone head Mom didn't bring any comics or activities - so by the time the dino came out - Magoo was just about at the end of his patience limit.

It's a pretty cool puppet - I have to give them credit.  This is the baby T-Rex.  I guess all the dinos in the show are life sized.  Can you imagine?


The T-rex stuck around for about 10 minutes - posing, roaring.  I don't think any of the kids cried.  Magoo certainly didn't.  He may have covered his ears when it shrieked.  Otherwise, he loved it.  

Then there was a brief raffle for tickets - we didn't win.  :(  We moved on to some mall related fun of riding the escalators and spinning in the chairs at Macy's furniture showroom.

Check out the video:

video

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Book Barn Frogs

We usually stop at the Book Barn when we are visiting my mother-in-law.  There are two stores: Book Barn Downtown and the orignal Book Barn.  The original is my favorite because I just love everything about this place.  It just grows.  Wagons of books crop up here and there. Little houses are constructed to hold more books.  But the best part is that there are gardens, playgrounds, goats!  It's like a whole other little world.

This post is primarily about one of the gardens.

Magoo and I had to inquire where the bathrooms were and we were directed through this garden.  When Magoo was done takin' care of business, we noticed a frog in the fish pond.  The man who had given us bathroom directions said, back in the garden, there were a whole bunch of young frogs and one still had his long tail.  We went back and found them - and sure enough - long tail.  (Which I think amused me much more than Magoo.)

Because we had planned on going to Book Barn Downtown and not here -  I didn't have my camera.  OH - and these five frogs sunning themselves on a rock where so perfectly placed!  It would have been gorgeous!  So when the shopping was done, I went back and fetched my Powershot.

The five frogs were gone - of course - but I still got some frog shots.


See them all in the water?  They were hard to spot at first - when you you focused in, you could see a ton of them.


Now here's where the story gets a little gory.  I think there was a reason those five frogs were no longer sunning themselves.  See, I saw this cat laying right here and next to it was a frog - a motionless frog who still had a tail.

I think there was a cat attack.  So all the little froggies thought it best to blend into their surroundings.  A lesson learned too late for one.

Oh well.  Circle of life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hazy Beach Day

It was hot on Saturday.  I'm sorry - let me rephrase.  IT WAS HOT!  
I don't do so well in the heat.  I'm cranky and my husband knows not to touch me.  So it was a good thing we were heading down to the beach.  It would have been a rough day at home.

It was overcast - which was nice.  And there was a breeze.  Really, it was just what the doctor ordered.

The visit started out with footprints.

These aren't even that good.  But boy, he made a lot of them.

Then - as always - we moved onto sand castles.  This one was Mike's design with Magoo and I working as crew.  I was the landscaper!

Magoo was helping with canals.

I can remember a time when the strong wind and the noise of the waves used to upset Magoo. Those days are long gone.  We still have the occasional beach surprise - like jellyfish - or a sudden drop off as we're walking along.  But for the most part - this is a beach kid.  There's water.  There's rocks.  If you're hot, get in the water.  If you're cold, stay on the sand.  Pretty perfect.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tidbits on a Hot Day

It's hot.

It's 9:57 am and I already have that first layer of light sweat - mmmmmm.  Sexy.

And I'm baking.  
Magoo has a birthday party later today so I had to make some pizza and cake that he could eat.  I really don't mind doing it.  I just wish it wasn't so hot.

Here's some exciting news (for me - maybe not for you.)  Amazon has my book up for pre-order ALREADY!  I took a look as a sort of lark - but there it was - no image yet, though.

I liked my little bird bag so much I decided to make one for myself!  It's not exactly the same, in design.  I wanted something that was a little wider for snacks and such.  I put a pocket inside and a strap to hold a water bottle.  It's customized to my needs. 

And I made a TON of bone headed mistakes on it.  I didn't have much time to work on it so it was a little stitching here and a little cutting there and as a result I put the pocket on upside down and stitched things right side to wrong side - OY!  But I did finish it and I can take it to the party today and look ever-so-cute!

The embroidery is supposed to be an old fashioned bicycle.  Mike says like looks more like a tricycle.  (Shake fist at Mike!)

And last night I visited Magoo's karate class and snuck some pics.  I was so proud!


Here's a little video of him working on his front kicks!

video

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and we all get through this heat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Couple More Bags

Summer is a busy time.  Not a whole lot of free time to sew.  And when I do have it, I have to ask myself - do I want to hole up in the basement when the sun is shining in the windows up here?  Usually, the answer is no.  But I do love a completed project and since I bought this book and went and picked up supplies - I was highly motivated to make a clutch.

And here it is!

This was a FIRST for a couple of things.  First magnetic snap.  First bag with a flap.  The directions were very clear and I think it turned out well.  

See, there's my snap!
The lining seems a little grey here, but really it's more lavender.

And here's a close up of the fabric.  It's a textured light cream.
And, I made another bag - and another first - a tote with some embroidery.


I was blogging around and saw some fabric with birdcages on them and I thought - hey, I bet that would look good in embroidery!  And I just bought some red fabric at a tag sale - so it all came together.

I'm still not a whiz at embroidery - but I like the way it turned out.


So these will go into the shop, when I get a shop going.  How many bags do I have now?  Five, I think.  There should be more than five - five is kind of a cheap-ass shop.  So I have more work to do.




Monday, July 14, 2008

Home Invasion

Friday morning, I made some hand pies.  What are hand pies?  More on that later.  For now, they are a baked good.  It was after lunch on Friday.  Magoo was home from summer school, chillin' on the couch and I went out to get him a pie from the back sun porch.  That's when I saw...

A FRIGGIN' SQUIRREL IN MY FRIGGIN' HOUSE!!!


AHHHHH!

Well, I scared it as much as it scared me, because it starts hopping all over the place trying to find a way out.  The screen was closed.  The door to the garage was closed.  I ran back into the kitchen and closed that door as well.  So now I am safe - but I can't get to my pies!

So I run around to the garage and open that door and run away really fast.  Because - in my mind - the squirrel is going to leap forth and dig its claws into my face.  I could hear it jumping around again, so I think it was more likely that I gave the thing a heart attack.

But it didn't leave.  Old Stupid kept bashing itself against the closed screen.

So then I ran around to the back of the house and opened the screen door and ran away - again, to avoid any claw on face action.  I ran back into the kitchen and the dim-witted thing is STILL in there.  But this time, when I rattle the door handle, this time it runs out the open screen door.

Okay. So here's the pie it got: 


Rotten little friggin' fraggin' #%@!*.

But HOW did it get in?  I couldn't figure it out until I saw this:

It ate through my screen!  The smell of these delicious hand pies drove a squirrel to eat through my screen!

So I sewed that shut (poorly) and put some tape over it as best I could and enjoyed a hand pie.

What is a hand pie?

They are kinda like Hostess Fruit Pies.  A pie totally surrounded by crust so you can eat it with your hands. (Well, you eat it with your mouth, of course.  But you can hold it in your hands.) I made half a batch pear and half a batch rhubarb-strawberry.   I used the Angry Chicken crust recipe and altered the fruit filling.  But I used the baking directions for this one.

I can officially call these Squirrel Stealin' Good!

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Have an ISBN Number

My editor sent me the first round of color proofs of my book yesterday.  Very exciting.  The wrap around of the cover art has an ISBN number on it - and, for some reason, that makes it all really real for me.

So this is the cover.  The book is called, Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed.  It's about a ninja student, Wink, who has a hard time with being stealthy at school and has conflicts with his teacher over it.

I dropped the art off at Viking last month and they quickly sent it to China for production.  The pages I just got are so shiny and pretty!  My job was to look through them and see if I had any issues with color, smudges, etc.  I found a few minor things, but on the whole, it looks really good.

Here it is on my dining room table.

Now I have to start designing the webpage for the book.  It's been a lot of work - but so much fun - doing the book.  But now I have to start thinking about promotion!  That's a whole other ball of yarn.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Poetry Night

Last night, Michael, Mary (you might remember her as the Big, Fat Liar a.k.a. my mother-in-law) and I went to hear the poet Billy Collins at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT.

The ground were beautiful and the crowd was immense - but I'm not going to bother with any of that because I want to get to the poetry.

Billy Collins
was the United States Poet Laureate from 2001-2003 and New York State's Poet Laureate from 2004- 2006. He's won a ton of prizes and published eight collections of poetry. Impressive, yes. But the really important thing - to me - is that he's funny.

I laughed so hard I almost cried. And even though it is really difficult to pick out my favorites - I have chosen two to share.

Mr. Collins gave a little intro to the poem, Tension, that I will paraphrase. He said that he was bored one day and was reading a simplistic book on fiction writing that had some basic do's and don'ts. One of the don'ts was "Never use the word "Suddenly" to create tension. If you read a lot of fiction, he went on, you will find this cropping up quite a bit - more often in bad fiction. He said one of his favorite examples went like this:

She pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger. Suddenly, shots rang out over the countryside.

This point of writing inspired the following poem.

Tension

“Never use the word suddenly just to
create tension.”
Writing Fiction

Suddenly, you were planting some yellow petunias
outside in the garden,
and suddenly I was in the study
looking up the word oligarchy for the thirty-seventh time.

When suddenly, without warning,
you planted the last petunia in the flat,
and I suddenly closed the dictionary
now that I was reminded of that vile form of governance.

A moment later, we found ourselves
standing suddenly in the kitchen
where you suddenly opened a can of cat food
and I just as suddenly watched you doing that.

I observed a window of leafy activity
and, beyond that, a bird perched on the edge
of the stone birdbath
when suddenly you announced you were leaving

to pick up a few things at the market
and I stunned you by impulsively
pointing out that we were getting low on butter
and another case of wine would not be a bad idea.

Who could tell what the next moment would hold?
Another drip from the faucet?
Another little spasm of the second hand?
Would the painting of a bowl of pears continue

to hang on the wall from that nail?
Would the heavy anthologies remain on their shelves?
Would the stove hold its position?
Suddenly, it was anyone’s guess.

The sun rose ever higher.
The state capitals remained motionless on the wall map
when suddenly I found myself lying on a couch
where I closed my eyes and without any warning

began to picture the Andes, of all places,
and a path that led over the mountain to another country
with strange customs and eye-catching hats
suddenly fringed with little colorful, dangling balls.



Me again. Okay, one of my other favorites - that you must ABSOLUTELY read if you are a mother - is The Lanyard.

It was such a lovely evening and now I think I have to go buy some of Billy Collins books!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Peace, Love and Tie-Dye

One of the gifts that Magoo received for his half-birthday was a tie-dye kit.  He was very excited about it.  (I don't know how he even knew what tie-dye was.  He must have hippy blood in his veins.)  On the day we decided to pull the kit out, I washed the 2 t-shirts that came with it but realized that it could handle 6 items and this was a one time deal.  No doing 2 shirts here and 2 shirts there.  So we made a whites run to Salvation Army.


I did a quick read through of the directions - very important but not always done.  (I should know better though.)  And I was in charge of the twisting and rubberbanding.  Magoo was in charge of the dyes.  And what a great thing too because he could just go crazy and who the heck knows how it's going to turn out!

Side note: these are Magoo's jammies that he's wearing.  But he's so "into" his camouflage pajamas that he often wears them for playclothes. 

This is what I learned about tie dying in bare feet.

I also learned that it's best not to wear a beloved white shirt when you are tie-dying.  Oops!

I tied the shirts up in plastic and let them stew for a day, then I washed them out.  Magoo was very happy with the results.  Peace!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Little Bit of Funny...

My husband sent me this video a week ago - very funny. (I always wondered what those lyrics were - suddenly it makes sense!) Everyone Hoggify!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Lovely Day

Last week, Wednesday I think, I had a lovely day.  It was the kind of day every day in summer should be.  It was unplanned and easy - relaxing.  The weather was comfortable.  I was calm.

It started with a spontaneous play date.  One of the neighbors, D, came over to play.  D is actually about 2 years older than Magoo, but he's about 1/2" shorter and they get along very well.  They played on the tire swing out back and eventually made their way to the dreaded Japanese Beetles that have come to munch on my rode bushes.  OH - how I hate them!   (The beetles, not the boys.)



So I got a jar and encouraged the boys to catch as many as they could.  D was very good at catching them.  Magoo is a little more like me - jumpy around bugs.  He'd try, but when he touched one, he'd jump.  But D was catching them and Magoo wanted to at least hold one.  So I had to get over my aversion and catch one for my boy.  The things we do for our children.  
Most of the time I could sit and enjoy watching them and work on my first EVER embroidery project.  The jar, above, is sitting on my project book, Doodle Stitching.  I basically just wanted to learn a few stitches because every so often I see a craft that appeals to me, but I really had no idea what I was doing.  Now, at least, I have a clue.

After Magoo got a little frustrated at not being able to catch as many beetles as D, he decided to make his own.  An impromptu art project!  I love it!  So I guided him through some steps but he did the cutting and piecing together.

I think it looks pretty good!

And, by the way, this is the lovely rose bush that those dreaded beetles are eating.

As the afternoon passed, more kids came by to play.  I love having about 4-5 kids running around, emptying out the garage of all toys and chatting with the moms.  That's a good time for me.

And I also love these days that just creep up on you and blossom and you don't have to do a thing but enjoy them.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July

No big fireworks for us.  Magoo is sensitive to loud noises, so I didn't think it's be the best idea.
But we did attend a fun BBQ at a neighbor's house (thanks, Sara) and had lots of good sparkler fun in the front yard.




We hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July.