During the month of July I'm teaming up with Becky over at Broken Pencils are Pointless for a little crafting challenge. If you're a craft-a-holic, enjoy re-purposing or up-cycling things, then breathing new life into them this challenge is for you!

Here's the challenge. Find something that was never meant to be used in a kitchen. You can get said item at a thrift shop, yard sale, anywhere used goods are sold. We're not picky, so you can even use something you already own, as long as its not currently being used in the kitchen.

Once you've chosen your item, refurbish it into something for your kitchen. We will be showing off our fabulous "new" items at the end of July in a co-sponsored linky party.

If you saw this on Pinterest please repin and get the word out! The more the merrier. If you have questions, just pop them in the comments section and I'll answer them directly.

We're still debating on a prize and how to choose a winner, but I'm thinking about a custom designed bracelet for the craftiest gal or guy who submits to the linky.

For example, this is our kitchen/mudroom bench, coat rack, mail bins and shoe storage.  It's made from narrow shelves turned sideways with another shelf bolted to it via L brackets.  A nice little shelf with coat hooks topped it off.   


Embracing the yellow and gray trend

wearing // gray chiffon top - Ann Taylor Loft - thrifted - $3
               buttery yellow jacket - Ann Taylor Loft - thrifted - $5
               capris - White House Black Market - $78
               bag - Aldo - $35
               shoes - Kensie Girl - $25
               sunglasses - Cole Haan - $20
               necklace - my own design - peridot, smokey quartz and buttery yellow ribbon with a dragonfly clasp

You can find this outfit and many others at The Pleated Poppy.

reading //  I never read just one thing at a time.  I know it's confusing for some, but not for me.  Right now I'm into The Scottish Prisoner- Diana Gabaldon, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Steig Larsson and Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand.

watching // I'm not a big fan of reality tv, I get enough drama in real life thanks, but we are watching The Colony at the office over lunch time.  At home we're watching Flash Forward via netflix and I'm still working on my addiction to True Blood.  Don't judge, at least my fixations don't sparkle.

listening to // You could say my music tastes are eclectic.  Right now I have everything from Nina Simone and Patsy Cline to Seether and Niki Minaj (yeah, someone will be all over my hoopty hoopty hoop about that one) on the ipod.  I am a huge fan of Matt Nathanson and Adele as well.

eating // I'm not eating meat, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy and potatoes.  Probably a few other things too due to some allergies and intolerances.  What I am eating tonight is some awesome salad and stuffed mushrooms.

laughing about // Same thing I always lol about.  The antics of sheeple.

working on // The family room, still.  It's almost done though.  Once the room is finished I'm going to be working on getting my Image Consultant Certification.  So, if you want some help editing your wardrobe and updating it and are in the Central PA area, drop me a message.  I need a few guinea pigs people to start my portfolio with.

anticipating // The plans from the landscape architect.  I'm so excited to see them.  Our yard literally looks like we've been testing missiles in it.  I am not good with plants, so I had to bring in the big guns.

wishing // As with anyone else I have plenty of these, and few are really to do with me.  I tend to wish for things for others, and probably always will.  What I fall back on, in the back of my mind when I get asked questions like this is Dr. Seuss.  "You've got brains in your head and feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose."  It's not the wish you need.  It's the gumption get out and make it happen.

What are you wearing, reading, watching, listening to, eating, laughing about, working on, anticipating, and wishing for today?

Let me know in the comments!

While the minions were away with my parents they went to visit the Museum of Geology and Natural History in Morgantown, West Virginia.   The museum houses the only fossilized dinosaur in the state of West Virginia, and serves as an education center as well.

This is the second visit the boys have had there and both times the curator of the museum has taken time out of their day to go over exhibits, answer questions patiently and explain geology in depth to a 10 year old.  Which by the way is a huge thing when you've already planned out that your undergrad degree will be in geology and then you'll be a paleontologist after that and work at the Smithsonian.

The minions also came away with some really nice fossils complements of the curator and the museum.  While we're sending them a nice thank you, I thought it would be great to give them a mention here as well and if you live in the vicinity, or are just looking for a day trip, check them out.  Don't forget that it's people like Patricia Johns that inspire and help educate your kids.  Be sure to thank them, and if you can, give generously to places such as this so they can continue to do wonderful things, like encourage your kids to follow their dreams.

Fossilized plant
Fossilized Ferns
We've been childless for more than a week.  It's been unnaturally quiet, clean and food isn't randomly disappearing at disturbing rates.  I'm also a little lost.  No one has been in to wake me in the mornings.  No phone calls through the day to let me know that Minion #1 is being a pest. I can actually get things accomplished without stopping at least half a dozen times to find something or intervene in a brotherly squabble.

It's really, really nice to have had some adult time.  I got to play catch up on some housework, got a few little projects accomplished without 'help' and didn't have to listen to whining about when dinner would be ready or how it wasn't what they wanted.  Which is really one of the only things that my minions do that actually bothers me.  Yes, I dislike that they leave their dirty socks in the living room, and wet towels on the bathroom floor.  But, those are a dislike, not a that hurts me to the soul sort of thing they way the food is.

I spend a good portion of my week and days planning menus and making food that contains things that everyone likes and that won't make me sick.  It's not as easy sometimes as you'd think.  So while I do keep in mind that minion #1 has autism and lying about how good something is really is beyond him.  It does stab me a little when one or both minions refuse to eat something because it's new and they've already decided they won't eat it and won't like it.

We don't make two dinners around here.  Not anymore.  I used to.  A lot.  In fact, some nights I was making three and sometimes four dinners.  I just don't have the energy for it, and honestly it's rather silly.  So now we just have a rule.  You don't have to like it, but you do have to try it.  If you refuse, you go to bed, there is no compromise, and I'm trying to stop caring about them going to bed hungry.

I'm sure the rest of you struggle with the same sorts of things.  What rules do you have to get your minions to try new things, or just eat what you've made with minimal fuss?
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I used to giggle each time Fox had a new special on when the network was still new.  They had catchy titles like When Giant Squids Attack!  or World's Deadliest Swarms! and always ended with Next, on Fox, with a Shatneresque cadence.  So, this week it's When Picnic Lunches Go Vegan!  sadly, not on Fox.

There's a state park close by here with a really nice lake that has boat rentals as well.  The plan was to pack a lunch, enjoy the day and spend some time kayaking around the lake.  The big decision is what to pack as food. Peanut butter and jelly makes for something easy, but I wasn't in a sandwichy mood and was really jonesing for some pasta salad.  As I was digging about in the refrigerator figuring out what all was going into the pasta salad I realized we had a distinct lack of hummus as well, so I figured I'd whip of some of that quickly.

Pasta, for those of us who are gluten free is a bit of an art.  Rice pasta, for lack of a better way of saying it is really kind of yucky.  It doesn't taste like much and tends to fall apart and stick to itself when it cools.  I've found that a company called Ancient Harvest that makes a corn/quinoa mixture works much better.  Tastes better too IMO.  I only had some elbows in the cabinet instead of the cute little multi-colored pagodas, but I made do somehow.

Gluten Free, Soy Free, Veggie Pasta
1 box of pasta cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water
1/3 cup each of veggies of your choice.  I used:
yellow pepper
1/4c of gf/sf greek salad dressing of your choice, or use red wine vinegar and evoo with some spices mixed in.

Mix your veggies into the cooked pasta (2 quart bowl should hold it all) and add the dressing.  Toss to coat, chill for at least an hour.
Quinoa pasta

Yes, I do know how to use the Chef's knife


The hummus is just as easy, maybe more so.
Ingredients are:
1 can of garbanzo beans.
1 lemon
2 tablespoons of tahini
cayenne pepper (optional)
roasted red peppers (optional)

Drain your garbanzos, but reserve juice.  We're going to use that instead of oil later.  Put the beans in your food processor.  Cut your lemon in half and juice it, pour into the processor.  Add 2 tablespoons of tahini to the processor and then add cumin and turmeric for your taste.  If you like it spicier add a few shakes of cayenne, then blend!
You'll get a nice paste with small chunks in the first go round of blending.  Add about 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid from the garbanzos and blend again.  You should now have a smooth paste.
Add your hummus to a 2 cup bowl and top with a tablespoon of roasted red peppers if you like.

See my Ninja?

Hummus with Roasted Red Peppers

The rest of lunch was made up of sugar snap peas, an orange and some Nut Thins, almond crackers.  I use silicone cupcake thingies a lot in our lunch boxes for dip, or small things I don't want spilling into other stuff.  The minions especially love it when I tuck the pink ones in their lunch boxes, complete with a note from me telling me how much I love them.

What did you all do with your Saturday?

This week's tutorial is for any of you parents who have a child with an IEP, It will show you how to navigate an IEP and if you have a dispute, how to do so properly and to your child's advantage.

A few of you are aware that Minion #1 has Autism, or PDD-NOS.  Those of you who weren't, well...you are now!  He has an IEP  in place with the public school system and at the review and renew this year I found a few discrepancies(that's the start of the saga).   The saga has continued into the summer, yay </sarcasm>.  In addition to filing a claim of insurance fraud with the Attorney General's office I've had to file a complaint with the PA Dept. of Education as well.

What we were up against was this:
A therapist that...

  • was not competent.
  • refused to communicate with us about the speech sessions.
  • was fraudulently billing medicaid.
  • thought it was therapy as long as she was in the room.
  • was cheating a child out of 10 minutes of therapy in each session.
  • was using a verbal child as a tool to give therapy to 4 other non-verbal autistic boys.

A Director of Special Education that:

  • thinks it's ok to break the law as long as you don't mean it (or get caught).
  • refused outright to tell any of the other parents that were involved in the fraudulent billings (20+ therapists in the end, or so we were told, no idea the number of students)
  • refused to switch the therapist for another one.
  • thought what the therapist was doing was ok, she just used poor language choices to 'splain it to me
  • thought we would go away if she delayed and denied enough things.
  • sends out legal documents she wants us to sign with incorrect names on them,  essentially voiding the document and ending a dispute.

First things first.  When your child has an IEP never go to an IEP meeting alone.  Don't put yourself at a disadvantage, especially if you're new to the process.  You are allowed to dictate who attends these meetings, if you want an advocate there, bring one. Bring ten if you want, it's your call.  They can be anyone, from your BFF to your family doc.  And by the love of all things holy, get EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING in writing.

If you do not agree with any part of the IEP sign nothing other than the paper stating you were there.  No matter what anyone tells you, you don't have to do squat at the meeting other than say you were there.

Be very specific about your disagreements.  If you don't feel that the services they are offering are enough, or are enough time to be helpful, say so.  If they refuse anything additional tell them you will dispute it and have your child independently evaluated for whatever service it is.  If that evaluation doesn't match theirs you will take it to mediation.

If they are offering a service you don't think your child needs, hear them out.  But, you know your child best.  Most of these people only see your child once, for 20 minutes and that is what they are basing their evaluation on.

At the end of the IEP meeting you should either be okay with what they are offering, or have a plan in place with the IEP team to rewrite certain sections as per your child's needs.   Again, do not sign off on the IEP until it reads the way you want it to.

Once that IEP is signed you, your child and the school district are obligated to follow it, to the letter.  I'd like to believe that the world is an ideal place, but it isn't.  You should check on the IEP at least twice a year.  Drop by for a session with the therapists, if your child has an aide, observe them.  Be involved, know what is going on.  Speak with their classroom teachers.  Generally if something hinky is going on, they'll find a way to tell you.

If you get to the point of having to do what we did.  It's actually pretty easy.  In PA you report insurance fraud, or suspected cases of it to the Attorney General's Office.  You should have everything you can documented.  I can't state that enough here.  I do most of my talking with the school via email, so I have all of it, or I take copious notes while I'm on speaker phone with another person there.  Then you just submit all your documentation to the agent.

Should you have to go to mediation, or file a complaint that the IEP was not followed, here is what you do:
Get your Procedural Safeguards notice.  The school has to provide you one at the IEP by law.  In there it will tell you who to contact.  In PA it's the Department of Education.  They have a nifty form, you fill it out and send it in.  Their agents then call you and take it from there.

If you have any questions, or not sure what you're allowed under the laws and just want someone to answer a few legal questions for you there are advocacy agencies in each state to do just that.  In PA it's the Disability Rights Network   They will also help you out with finding an advocate for IEP's if you need one.

Do not feel as though you are all alone when navigating IEP's and the school system.  You're not.  You just need to know who to ask for help.

To quote Dumbledore  “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”


I'm fairly certain the King got all excited reading that title, but the truth is this article is less about clothes this week and more about beauty products.   Not to worry, there's an outfit and a Polyvore put together for reference too!

Most of you can go into a store look at something think 'hey, that's neat, I'll try that' and do so.  Those of us with allergies or issues with gluten, wheat and soy, can't.  I know a few of you are thinking, they make products for that, just go buy them.  You're right, they do, and Afterglow Cosmetics is one of them.  To get the bare minimum of what I wear day to day (powder, gloss, eye liner and mascara) I'd be staring down a $140 bill.

You can however, find other options.  ELF is one of them.  The same products will run you $29 direct from ELF.  Some of their products do contain tocopheryl acetate, but a quick email to ELF and they were willing to tell me that it was not soy based.  For day to day makeup, you can't beat ELF in my book.

I had the same issues with soaps, shampoos, lotions, laundry detergent, and fabric softner.  You can buy some really nice specialty products, but I have this thing called a budget.  Some of you may have heard of one, I stay within it so we can do things like eat.

After some trial and error (hives and itchiness) I've found that St. Ives makes some nice shower gels and lotions.  Pantene and Garnier make a few products without wheat, soy and milk, but as with everything, read the labels carefully each time you purchase.  Neutrogena Naturals are nice as well.  Face wash, lotion and lip balm. All free from wheat but has some tocopherol in the lotion and lip balm.  I've not reacted to it, so it's either VERY low, or not specific to soy.

Laundry detergent I gave up on and I make my own.  A few brands of fabric softner are out there that don't have soy in them, most are store brands.  The big name expensive ones almost all do.  Need a pre treater?  Use Fels Naptha, it's a laundry soap bar, they tell you exactly what's in it and it actually works better than the spray it on stuff.

When you visit the salon, be sure the products that are used on you are GF and soy free.  Don't forget about the little things too, like waxes, their towels, and finishing products.  If they don't know, or aren't willing to learn, find a new salon.  Same thing with your manicurist.  Some of the polishes are now soy based, same with removers.

You can also call ahead to hotels to check their linens and products.  Fairly certain Embassy Suites thinks I'm a total nutcase, but I wasn't itchy after sleeping in their beds and using their linens and bath products.

So, that's what I'm not wearing against my skin today.

What I am wearing is this:
Extreme Heat Today- hence the shorts

Tucker is ready for his closeup

White linen blazer - consignment
Turquoise linen tank - consignment
Those two were part of a suit, with a pair of lined white trousers - $15
Navy trouser shorts with a deep turquoise stripe - Thrifted $2
White Life Stride Slides - Marshalls $15 
Tucker - Adopted at the Helen O. Krause No kill Animal Shelter - Priceless

Sweltering Heat of the Summer

P.S. You can find this outfit and a ton of others for more inspiration this summer over at The Pleated Poppy!
I liked the idea of my blog looking like a journal, in theory, when I installed the current theme.  I still do.  However, now that it's been put into practice for 6 months, I feel as though there are a few things it needs.  You know, like better graphics that are more me.  A larger space for writing would be great, one less column and nicer ways to display the information that I have. Overall, something that is a bit more functional.

So...I starting playing around with some graphics and came up with a few things.  Becky over at Broken Pencils are Pointless had a look at it and gave me her opinions and I went from there.

I thought I'd let you all take a look at it as well, and let you comment on the header for the new design.

This week has really been a whirlwind around here.  The minions were off for their first full week of summer.  We made it to the pool, which was nice for those of us who don't look like a fork in the microwave anytime their skin comes in contact with UV rays.  I'm beginning to think the King is hiding some sort of secret from me. I wear dark sunglasses anytime I'm out in the sun, so it's hard to tell if that's sparkles or not.  Had a good bit on my plate with work, the family room is ready to paint, and we had a load of mulch show up that was literally bigger than my car.  About a third of that pile has been allocated to 'flower' beds and lining the driveway, but there is still more to go.
Holy Mulch Pile Batman!
My parents took the minions with them for a week, so we celebrated Father's Day here on Thursday evening.  You might have seen the cool Super Dad wreath from duct tape and other household items, but the other gift he got was a really nifty keepsake book from Picaboo.  I didn't even get a chance to get a photo of it before it too was whisked away to the office to show off to the guys.  But, it was super easy to make.  The hard part was picking which photos to use.
The rest of today will probably be set aside to let the King enjoy his day as I go about cooking, cleaning, and getting some yard work done at my own pace.  With the minions away I don't have to stop for snacks, to break up squabbles, find things like a missing sock or have meals at regular hours so the minions don't revolt.
I'll miss spending the day with my dad, but I've heard all is well where they are.  Valhalla, dad's personal tree house was explored by Minion #1 and deemed to be pretty cool, a 400 lb black bear was seen, the sand pile aptly named "This Land" has been restored to it's dino filled glory and cherry cheesecake will be made later today.

Happy Father's Day guys.  I hope you all have a great day with your little, and not so little minions!
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Made in a Day - Go there!!
I saw this amazing wreath over at Made in a Day, and loved it.  Truly loved it, but I wanted something a tad different with Father's Day coming up.  So, as I was carting mulch around half the day today, and cracking the whip on my minions to pull weeds faster I came up with an idea. (A terribly Grinchy idea!)
I didn't have half the stuff Miss Kim used on her wreath.  But like any good Pennsyltuckian, I have me some duct tape, old clothes and a nearby dollar store.  I was set!
What I wanted was something cool, but not cute.  Not frilly, and certainly not in pink.  I took inventory of what I had lying about and decided I could pull this off with an old pair of cargo pants, some curtains I was pitching and an old shirt.
This really is starting to sound like some Hill Billy Frankenstein creation, but here's my parts list:

A pool noodle. (found at dollar tree)
Duct tape
Cargo pants
An old shirt from the man of your choice
One curtain panel
(I'm reading over this list and cringing as I type)
Ribbon (dollar tree in the 4th of July section)
Wire garland with stars (also 4th of July @ Dollar Tree)
An 8X10 picture frame (yeah...Dollar Tree)
This Printable
Fabric scissors
A hot glue gun

Get one of your minions and the pool noodle.  Have them hold the ends together so it makes a circle.  Duct tape it together.  Presto!  Wreath form.

Cut your material into 3" wide lengths.  On the cargo pants, cut out the pocket on one of the pants legs and set a aside.  We'll come back to that later.  You'll need about 3 lengths of cargo pants.  3-6 of the shirt, and if you're using a curtain panel, one and a half lengths of that.

Plug in your Hot Glue Gun.

In the meantime, print out your printable.  You'll need to cut it down slightly to fit in your frame.  Before you close up the frame, slide your ribbon through the top.  You'll be affixing that to your wreath later.

Once the glue gun is oozing, get a length of your cargo pant, glue it to your wreath and start wrapping it.  You'll want to glue the material to itself on each wrap so it doesn't come apart or move.  It doesn't take much, just enough to hold it in place.  Cover your noodle with enough of the pants to span just a bit longer than the pocket we set aside.

Next wrap your shirt and curtain panel alternating until you're back to the cargo pants.  Then, get that pocket we set aside and glue that puppy on over the cargo pants.

Cut a length of the garland and wrap your wreath.

Affix your photo frame to the wreath via the ribbon.  I tied mine.  Feel free to glue or anything else you can come up with.  Fairly sure this project can't get anymore backwoodsy unless you decide on duct tape to use as ribbon.  Finally, hot glue the frame in place.

Happy Father's Day to all of you guys out there.

P.S. You can find this lovely tutorial, along with a number of other fantastic ideas over at Made in a Day! & Just Us Four
First off, this isn't my normal office attire.  I tend to dress up a little more for day to day. For those of you not in the know, I'm a computer geek in my day job.  Today, however I'll probably be crawling under people's desks and figuring out where wires go, instead of sitting behind my desk making decisions.  So, I'm wearing something a little different.

Inset - pattern on the seersucker

Jacket - Gap via Salvation Army - $5.99
This poor thing was stained, all over.  It was like someone had no clue how to actually do laundry.  The spay on crap doesn't work people, and it's expensive.  Get yourself a bar of Fels Naptha and use it.  It will remove your stains.
The shirt - Old Navy - $10ish
Seersucker capris - Kohls via Salvation army - $1.50
Shoes are Easy Spririt and were a lovely Christmas gift from my parents.

Jewelry is simple today, gold and sapphire earrings and necklace to match.  Nothing to get in the way, or fall in my face if I'm half upside down trying to rewire a switch under a desk with a few dozen cables.  So if you don't hear from me for a few days, please send help.  The cables may have eaten me.

Another Day on Site
The Polyvore Version if you want it for reference.

I've linked up again this week with The Pleated Poppy! You can find this outfit a bunch more there for more inspiration.
There are days around here where the autism wins.  Sometimes, it completely triumphs over the life of minion #1.  There is about as much point to trying to reason with it as there is with a newborn.  Most days it just lies in wait, searching for its opportunity to strike and really take hold.  Thankfully, those days are fewer now.  Sometimes though, it creeps in when we least expect it to and unlike most times, the results to those watching are sheer hilarity. 

Minion#1 wandered into the kitchen Friday evening as the king and I were making dinner.  I was happily carving up veggies as he was doing up the pizza crusts.  The king looks down at the minions feet for some reason and realizes he only has one sock on.  Now this isn't all that unusual, odd things like this happen often around here.  What is a bit different this time is the answer we got when the question of where that sock is was asked.

"My brother took it",  the minion proclaimed.
The king and I looked at each other, blinked once, and turned to look at the minion.  "Go get your sock back", the king directed.  "You ARE the big brother after all."

Dobby, from Harry Potter
Minion #1 disappears upstairs to retrieve the stolen sock, and minion #2 appears.  After a brief discussion about the current state of dinner and when it would be magically appearing on their plates, I asked the other minion about the thievery of the sock, and why it was taken.

With a completely straight face, he looks at us and says, "Um, it's probably better you just don't know".  Now, in most households, that answer probably wouldn't fly, but in this one, it does.  One, we probably don't want to know, but two, who can argue with that reasoning?

Minion #2 was instructed to go help the other one find his sock, and find it they did.  I'm happy to report that Connor the house elf, is now free!

While you may be thinking our parenting style is just awful, and we probably should have demanded a better answer from the secondary minion, we didn't and won't.  Conflict resolution requires a bit of finesse and practice to do well with for anyone.  It also requires people skills which are sorely lacking in most autistic people.  It takes years and years of practice for some of them just to ask a simple question or hold a conversation.  So, even though they are brothers, and minion #2 is used to dealing with him, it does take a lot to get them to work together, find an amicable solution and make up.  We just make sure it happens, the hows are up to them.

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Last week I promised I'd make a list of what we ate this week and give you a few recipes as well.  If you missed last week's post about food it's here.  But, the gist of it is that our family has chosen to go vegan for a number of reasons.  I'm not pushing it on anyone else, but I'm offering our menu and some recipes if there's anything you think you might want to try.  Next week I'll probably be publishing something the kids decided they really like and the full recipe.  It's difficult to find things that are vegan that Minion #1 will eat.  The autism sometimes wins that battle :(

Cereal - Uncle Sam Cereal, Shredded Wheat & Bob's Red Mill Muesli combination  (corn and honey nut chex for us GF people) with bananas
Veggie Pad Thai  I tossed a few handfuls of veggies I had in the fridge in with this as well.
Pasta  Quinoa pasta and sauce.  The kids had the last bag of the frozen meat balls as well.

Pumpkin Pancakes - Bob's Red Mill pancake mix.  Flaxseed meal and water instead of egg and a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin and cinnamon to taste.  We use almond milk at our house and love it.
Portobello Mushroom burger panini  - Marinate in some balsamic vinegar and olive oil with salt and pepper.  On our paninis we had hummus, lettuce, tomato and pickles as well, just like a hamburger.
Shepherds Pie  
Banana "Ice Cream"

Baked Oatmeal - the kids adored this and are begging for more, so I'd say it was a hit.
Shepherds Pie Leftovers
Black Bean and Sweet Potato enchiladas 

Cereal and fruit
Enchilada leftovers
Fish Sticks Mac and Cheese and Sweet Potato fries

Pad Thai and GF hot and sour soup (I picked out the tofu, blech)
Shepherds pie leftovers and Rice

Oatmeal with peaches and blueberries
Veggie korma
NatureValley Almond bar
Gobi Mutter and Naan   Not in English, but it's kind of fun to make stuff up.  Turn the volume down and use the Sweedie Chef Voice, you'll amuse yourself the entire video!
Carrot cupcakes - no frosting.  These are awesome enough to stand on their own.
Donated Hat Cake!
These are the frozen leftovers from a GF carrot cake I made a while back for the spring fair, right before Mother's Day.  It was donated to the school as a prize.

Cereal with strawberries
Mexican out - I had grilled Veggies and adobo sauce with veggie beans, rice and corn tortillas
Homemade pizza with  Bob's GF pizza crust.  We don't use the yeast packet.  Pizza sauce is usually Del Grosso's (they're also family owned and local!) Nutritional Yeast in place of cheese and whatever veggies we have on hand.

For those of you thinking, "Hey!  You cheated and had fish!"  Yep, we sure did.  We'll probably will eat up the rest of the meat that's currently frozen in the larger chest freezer in the garage too.  I'm not going to throw food away, unless I have to.  I am however planning on getting some canning done this year if I can talk my mom into teaching me how and maybe using her gobs of canning jars.  So, mom, if you're reading this, wanna can some stuff?

Sundance inspiration
I was flipping through the Sundance catalog the other day on my ipad and I came across this lovely gem.  Cute isn't it?  I thought so too, and I've been wanting to make myself something in leather for a while.  Then, I saw the price tag and I choked on my chocolate mint coffee.  I showed it to the King so he could laugh too, and he says, "Why don't you just make one?" I have plenty of leftover beads lying about, so I figured, why not.  While I'm at it, I might as well show you all to do the same thing.
This week's fun tutorial is how to make yourself a $720 necklace.  Oops, let's move that decimal point two spots,  $7.20 necklace.

Here's what you need (or a close approximation):
Some leather cord.  (I used 44" worth)
2 larger bore metal beads (your leather needs to be able to pass through them)
Toggle closure
2 lengths of wire about 6" each for wrapping.
Jump Rings (2 large, 5 medium)
Large-ish circle (can be metal, acrylic, wood, whatever you have)
3 Short lengths of chain (I used (2) 1" lengths and (1) 1.5")
Headpins 9 total (I used 6 plain and 3 decorative)
3 different findings (I used a dragonfly, and 2 little green, blue and turquoise ones that say love and joy on them)
Everything you need
3 freshwater pearls
3 round gemstone beads
3 glass beads
3 seed beads (to end the plain head pins, makes them prettier)
5 small metal beads

For tools you need:
Round nose pliers
Straight nose pliers
Wire snips

If you have some broken jewelry, jewelry that you just don't wear anymore, or even some scrapbooking findings you can use them in this.  If you need any of the parts, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and even Walmart sell the pieces you can use, some even have them in convenient jump ring, head pin, toggle packages for about 3 dollars.

Let's get started. 
Cut your leather to your desired size.  I made mine 44" so I would have enough to wrap twice around my neck and still have plenty to dangle.  
Attach the large circle to the leather using a simple hitch knot, and keeping the ends even.
Slip your large bore bead onto the end of one side of the leather.
Open one of the large jump rings and attach it to the large bore bead, put the toggle on and close it.

Knot the leather back on itself leaving about a 1" tail. I used a simple slip knot.

Take one of the lengths of wire and wire wrap the end of your leather cord.

Repeat on the other side.
On one of the sides, attach one of the cute findings to dangle from the toggle.

Open 3 of the remaining jump rings and attach each of your lengths of chain to a jump ring, check each ring of the chain to make sure it's closed.
Attach the jump rings to the circle and close the jump rings.

Lay out your beads and findings in some approximation of where they will go on the dangling chain to see what it will look like, adjust until it pleases your eye.

Choose a bead to start with and a head pin.
Slide the bead on the headpin and wrap your headpin, attaching it to the chain BEFORE you finishing the wrapping.

Repeat until all your beads are on the headpins and attached to the chain.

Open the 2 remaining jump rings and attach them to the findings.
Attach the findings to the chain and close the jump rings.

Finished version

That's it!
You now have yourself a fabulous new piece of jewelry that's uniquely yours.  Wear it like it cost you $720.
Who pays that for some silver, beads and leather anyway?

P.S.  You can find this tutorial along with a bunch of other great ones over at A Glimpse Inside and Saved By Love Creations
Yep, you guessed it, my outfit is once again thifted.  At least in part.  I'm a firm believer that you don't have to spend a fortune to look fabulous.  Each Wednesday I'll be posting a new thifted, consigned, or at least minimal cost look that you can easily find, afford and copy for yourself.
The dress is BCBG Max Azria - $5.99 @ Salvation Army
Kelly & Katie shoes - $25 @ DSW
Bag -$ a lot @ Harrods (In my defense, it was 10 years ago)
Necklace - $5.99 @ Marshalls  I wear it backwards because the clasp is so pretty!
Bracelet - gift
Earrings - Vintage from Mom

I'm linking up at the Pleated Poppy again this week to show off my look.  
What are you wearing today?

How many times have you thought about how nice it would be if the average person would just be nice.  Nice to you, even.  What about if they did something nice for you?  What would that something be?
Yesterday, while I was out doing my weekly grocery shopping I had the chance to stand back and do nothing or make the choice to make someone's life a whole lot easier, happier and more joyful.  For me the choice was easy.  I didn't know the guy.  It didn't matter if I did or not.  Another person needed a hand so I gave them mine for a brief moment.
For those of you with kids, do you teach your kids to be nice to people?  Do you teach your sons to hold doors for ladies?   Do you teach them to smile at people they don't know?   Do you teach your daughters to smile and say thank you to those holding a door for her?  Or do you teach them your indifference?  More than any lesson you can teach your kids, your attitudes and actions about people and things are what sticks with your kids.  Not your words about what you should do.

So, if you're that guy that's now eating his bananas and bread and whatever else I paid for the other day, you're very welcome.  What little thing have you done to pay it forward?
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One of my all time favorite kids movies is A Bug's Life. I don't know if it's the silliness of Dennis Leary as a ladybug called Francis that pulled me in or the caterpillar, Heimlich.  He loved to eat, spoke with a German accent and was morbidly obese, yet convinced that someday he would be a beautiful butterfly. No matter which character you like best, at the heart of the movie it was about rooting for the underdog.
A while back, we decided to gut our family room (mostly because it was covered in 70's era paneling) and start fresh. Part of that renovation included selling our bar, which were some old, very heavy, but unique jewelers cases. We decided we'd find some new furniture and re-purpose it into a bar. So, I found us some of the ugliest furniture I could.  Under all that nasty is some WWII era waterfall furniture.  How do I know that?  I stripped it!
Dresser - in all its spray painted glory

More of the beautiful paint job

Grain in the top of the dresser

Sides still needing a bit of work

I used Motsenbocker's Lift Off.  It's green, water based, low-VOC and biodegradable.  You still need to wear gloves (just not latex ones, if you're stripping latex paint, it will eat the latex in the gloves too) because it strips the oils from your skin, kind of like clay does.  You paint the stuff on, wait five to ten minutes and use a stripping pad to start rubbing the paint off.  Take a rag with some warm water over it to wipe off the mess and scrub a bit more.  In no time you're down to the wood.  The dresser took me about three hours to strip, which wasn't too bad, it's a fairly big piece.
While the furniture isn't quite done yet.  It still needs some sanding, priming and white paint.  It is my Heimlich, and my underdog.  Soon it too will be a beautiful butterfly.