Before you make comments about tree hugging and animal loving... Um, not that kind of animal loving.  I want to say that I'll not be giving up my leather shoes, coat, or bracelet. I also won't be out saving whales, or helping to liberate a flock of chickens from the evil corporate giants that stuff them in tiny cages. Those are fine and dandy reasons for some people, just not me.
My Mother's side of the family has a high rate of cancer. Breast cancer also runs in that side of the family. My Dad's side has a history of other fun things like heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Osteoporosis, Strokes and Diabetes. I'm really not a fan of any of that. I am a fan of keeping both my girls right where they are, and cancer free, not to mention breaking a hip holds no appeal to me.
Does going vegan reduce the risks of that? I can quote you studies that have been done, and someone else can quote studies that say the opposite. What I can say is that after reviewing one of the studies that was done over a 20 year time period, and not in this country where lobbyists and special interest groups have more say than real science, yes it does reduce the risks.
Is it for everyone?  Nope.  I don't care what you eat, as long as it's not my brains.
Will I cheat now and then?  Probably, and I'm ok with that.
Do I feel better?  Yes.  We had some concern over what my food was eating (soy - I can't have it) as I was still getting sick from certain things I was eating with no explanation.  Since giving up meat I feel better.  Easily better than I have in years.
Next Friday I'll be posting the menu for the week as well as a few recipes we've tried and really like.  This week I'm only posting one, but it's such an important one around here.  We implemented a tradition of sundaes on Sunday years ago.  It has successfully kept the boys from wanting ice cream as a dessert every night for a few years just by making a big to do out of it once a week.  Without having to go out an buy some expensive non dairy, non soy ice cream you can have a nutritious and economical treat with a few bananas.

Banana "Ice cream"
Huge list of ingredients:
1 medium to large banana for each person  - that's it.

Slice up the bananas and lay them flat on a plate or tray depending on how many people you're treating.
Put the tray in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
Add the frozen bananas to your blender and blend.  And blend.  This is a bit of a process, so don't get discouraged if it seems like you end up with banana shavings.  Just squish them back together and blend some more.
Suddenly, the bananas will turn into something that looks like soft serve.  Seriously, it's banana magic.
Scoop it out of the blender and serve.

Hippocrates: 'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food'

I've been meaning to do this for some time, but just haven't gotten around to it.  Today, it seems was the lucky day to get it done!  This tutorial will show you how to make three bags.  2 smaller ones for smaller veggies or things like kiwi, lemons and limes.  And one larger wide one for bananas or whatever else fits.
You can play around with your shirts and sizes you cut to suit your needs when you shop.

What you need for this project:

  1. A few old t-shirts - the one for this tutorial is kid size large
  2. Fabric Scissors
  3. Sewing machine
  4. Thread
  5. Pen

I also used: (optional)

  • Self healing mat
  • Rotary cutting blade

First thing you want to do is lay your shirt out flat, then make a marking line and cut it in half.

Then, take the bottom section and cut it in half again.  

Taking one section of what you've cut, fold it in half and even out the edges as best you can.  Choose one of the edges to be the top and cut a rounded shape in it to be the bag's handle.  Then open it back up and pin the right edges and bottom together.

Once you have the sides and edges pinned it's time to sew.  I chose to do French seams to make them a little stronger since it's knit and going to be carrying some weight about.  No idea what a French seam is?  No worry, it's easy.  Again, we have wrong sides together here, like it would be when it's finished.  We're going to use a zigzag stitch just at the edges to close them.

Now, turn your bag inside out.  We're going to finish the French seam by sewing a straight line about a 1/4" into the bag from the zigzag seam we just made.  Pin it again if you need to to make everything even and straight.  Then sew.  Turn inside right again, and your seams are done.  No more sewing on this bag!

The next steps are just cutting.  Lay your bag out flat once again, and mark a spot for the handle.  If you have a cutting mat and rotary cutter, it starts to come in handy about now.  I made my cuts starting about 2" down from the handle and staggered them.  Each cut is an inch with a half inch between cuts.  They don't have to be perfect, just do what works for you.  When you're finished you'll end up with bags that look like this:

Make your other two bags the same way.  I cut the sleeves off my t-shirt for the wider bag and evened it up with the rotary cutter.  Then used the same steps for the smaller bags.

You can find this tutorial and a few others here! ThriftyThursdayModernButton1 Thrifty Thursday Week 77
A long time ago, in what now seems like a galaxy far, far away I was a summer camp counselor.  If you've never had the pleasure of dealing with other people's kids en mass, it's one of the hells no one talks about.  I went back to that special place today, but only to visit, when I volunteered to chaperon a field trip for Minion #2's 4th grade class.
Field Trip to the MuseumThe trip was to the State Museum of PA.  I chuckle each time we go there (mostly to myself) about the exhibits not really changing.  I'm fairly certain most of it was in the same spot when I was there, in the 4th grade.  The motley crew of 4th graders I was issued were really pretty great.  Fun kids that weren't yelling, running all over the place and being generally a nuisance.  I kinda felt bad for some of the other parents, for about a second and a half.  Then, our little group wandered about the museum, took in the exhibits and enjoyed ourselves.
I was wandering about in some really comfy Easy Spirit flats, a pair of Theory cargos that allow the bottom hem to roll up and button to make into capris and a plain linen shell.  I accessorized with some turquoise, wood and silver jewelry and made sure to pack a few necessities into my big brown bucket bag.  The list included a tiny first aid kit, water bottle and lunch.
I didn't take many photos.  What I did take, I used for instagram.
William Penn Statue
Flags in the main gallery
1965 Light fixture in the main gallery

Need some additional outfit inspirations?  
pleated poppy

By request from Allison, I'm also here!
Long weekends are great times to do a little local sightseeing and taking in things you may not have time to do otherwise.  This weekend we were without the minions and restless.  Too much time spent indoors of late and we needed to get out and stretch our legs.  And so we ventured across the river to ArtsFest on Saturday.  It was hot and sticky out, but it was a chance to get out and enjoy ourselves.
Walking bridge over the
Susquehanna River
I want to say it was a great experience, a chance to see some fantastic artisans and buy a few things for our home as we are redecorating.  Alas, that's not exactly what we found.  What we did find was a trade show filled with booths and vendors of many different artistic varieties.  What we didn't find in abundance were the actual artists.  Many just sent their booths and hired people to sit there and read or look bored.  Some just ignored you, not even looking in your direction.
A few were true artisans who made their living from their art, were there with their items and happy to tell you all about them.  We found three of those.  One did pendants in sterling silver with an insert of stained glass.  Another was making bracelets out of antique silverware.  They were very cute and something I'd love to try someday.  The last was making jewelry as well.  Sterling silver with Morse code punched out of it to spell names, etc.  It made for something very interesting to look at.  Their booth were nicely set up, and actually doing some business.  Most of the others were not.
Brooch, gone a fowl
Perhaps the next time we get restless we'll stick to antique shops.  Who doesn't want to find jewelry made from chicken feet?

Do you wander locally?  What little things have you found interesting?
Ok, the unmentionables, which will remain unseen and unmentionable were purchased new.  The rest of my outfit, however was not.  Today, I am head to toe thrifted, consigned and upcycled!

I was at my favorite Salvation Army store the other day and found this ensemble.  A cute sundress from Tommy Hilfiger.  The waist is a little higher than I normally wear, but hey, for $5, who's complaining?  Not I.  I could hide a food baby in there, and it sorta looks like I did without the jacket.  This is why I wear structured clothing, my friends.  The jean jacket was another find at the same store.  Finding a structured jacket in Keebler Elf (size 2) was a huge win.  Finding it for $3 - priceless.
My shoes, you may recall from previous posts such as Fantasy vs. Reality in the Land of Polyvore.  They were also $3 (Also NEW!  I want to mention I'm not a fan of thrifted footwear unless it's new or near new).  I was running a bit late this morning or you'd also be seeing my $8 Relic handbag.  It's orange, matches the shoes and has awesome braided leather handles.  If Becky ever finishes her application to the Midvale School for the Gifted, she can tell you all about it!
The necklace wasn't thrifted, nor was it consigned.  I stumbled across a huge bag of glass beads at a flea market a while back.  For $8 I've been making some interesting things.  On display today are a necklace, and hoop earrings and if you squint in the photo of the sundress, you'll see the matching bracelet.

What little treasures have you found at your local thrift shop?

P.S. I'm officially coming out of the designer closet today. I'm Dawn and...
Meet Virginia Design

You can find this post here!
Too Much Time On My Hands
Continuing on the theme of garbage, recycling and what happens with all kinds of stuff when we're done with it, I thought I'd touch on upcycling.  I can honestly say I'm a huge fan of this movement.  It's not new by any stretch of the imagination.  Our grandparents and great grandparents upcycled things until they couldn't anymore, and I'm fairly certain that a few enterprising cavemen were making tools out of useless rocks before that.
If you're not familiar with the term upcycling, it's the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.  So many things that get tossed out everyday could be finding a new purpose.  You just need some imagination or the power of the internets for an instructable or two.  Here are a few ideas from everyday items you get started with.

  • Are you the proud owner of an ugly old light fixture?  Turn it into a terrarium!
  • Has your old grill given up the ghost, again?  Turn it into a planter.
  • Do you have kids?  Do you also have a 5 gallon bucket?  Make them a new swing.
  • If you're lucky enough to have gotten a cruzer titanium 250MB USB drive and broke it in your car door, it makes a great beer bottle opener. (Thanks Sam!)
  • Have a Kindle, e-reader or other tablet type gadget?  Make a cozy for it out of materials you already have, like a sweater and some material.
  • Have a pair or two of jeans that have worn spots or just don't fit?  Perhaps you also have a budding paleontologist and some household items like a paint brush, trowel, string, flashlight, etc?  Make them a Palentologist Tool Kit!
  • Make yourself a few produce bags from old t-shirts.
  • A rag rug from old sheets.
  • Potholders from your old socks.  I love this one, and honestly - there will be some serious justice in the world when I teach the boys to do this from the amount of socks they create holes in.
  • And lets not forget wine bottles.  Corks can be used for a bath mat, the bottles can be turned into tiki-torches, or glasses, or refilled if you're really, really lucky.  Which won't happen in Pennsyltucky, because it's against the law (check number 42)
What have you upcycled?
Minion #1 is our trash collector around here.  Each Tuesday without fail he gathers up all the trash in the house for the week and puts it in the overly large toter in the garage.  He's such a fantastic garbage man he even sorts the recyclables out and puts them in the recycle bin.  The important part of that is that he's not a big kid.  Maybe the size of a small 10yr old, but he can easily do it because we just don't make that much garbage.
A few small things that we've adopted around here to cut down on the waste are:
  • Making our own laundry soap from eco friendly components that come out of cardboard or paper containers that can be composted.
  • Taking our own shopping bags with us everywhere. (I swear I'm going to make veggie bags too)
  • Buying things second hand where we can, and it's safe to do so. 
  • Buying what's needed, and not what's wanted.
  • Reselling, donating, or freecycling items we are done using.
  • Not buying individually packaged items, especially lunch items.  We use reusable containers as much as we can.
  • We also avoid disposable cutlery and plates where we can.
  • Choosing items that have less packaging to begin with or that can be recycled and not thrown away.
  • Educating our children as to why we do all this.

What are a few ways you've cut down on waste?

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I'll just throw that away.  How many times have you said that, not really thinking about where away is?  Does your thought of away end when you close the garbage can?  Maybe your away is at the curb, where you leave your garbage for the nice garbage men to come take it away?  Is the landfill away?  Is the incinerator away?  Granted, some of you may not care where away is.  It's someone else's problem to deal with, right?  Turns out, it's not
This question has been plaguing me since I stumbled on the Zero Waste Home.  So I started doing a bit of research into the mystical, magical, land of "Away".  The easy answer is that there is no "Away".  Everything goes Somewhere.  And Someone has to deal with it.  In our neck of Pennsyltucky, we're serviced by York Waste/Republic Services, so I contacted them to get an answer about where their "Away" is.  Apparently their customer service is located in "Away" because I've not heard back yet.
But here is what I did find out: the average person creates 4.4lbs of garbage a day, or 1,600lbs/year.  It gets compacted down into about 2 cubic yards and dumped in a landfill.  For those of you wondering how much space that uses, it's just bigger than the average refrigerator size.  In just a few years time, a family of 4 will throw away the entire volume of a house.  And it's not as though any of that garbage is going to "Away".  It will stay in the landfill, not really decomposing, for your entire lifetime and that of your grandchildren's grandchildren and beyond.
Now that we've mentioned regular garbage, what about electronics?  Where does your ewaste go?  Some of it goes to places like this.  Locally, we have a company that does have a DEP permit, just not an EPA one.  They won't tell you where any of the e-waste goes (other than it's exported to Away), nor do they audit any of their downstream recyclers, but they will offer evidence of due diligence that things are disposed of an in environmentally friendly way.  So, the bottom line is, no one really knows where it goes.  But, they are duly diligent in their hope for the best.
All this week I'm going to take a good hard look at my own garbage and habits of throwing things "away'.  I'll let you see what happens as our family of consumers goes through an average week and what we recycle and throw away, how we shop, eat, and if I get any answers back from the companies I've sent emails to, I'll be posting them as well.

In the mean time, what do you do to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle before throwing things "Away"?

Found a local company that does do eco-friendly recycling!
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Shaggy-headed minion
I have three guys I live with.  The king and the two minions.  The King keeps his hair in a high and tight style as does minion #2.  Minion #1 though has a little more flair and likes his in a nice tapered fade.  The upkeep on these alone would set us back about a hundred dollars a month, every month.  If you're like me and can't bear to part with that much of your hard earned money on haircuts, here's what you do.
First, get a set a clippers.  They don't have to cost a fortune, the one I have retails for about $30 (US)  and comes with scissors and a barber cape as well.  If your clippers didn't come with a set of scissors, get those and a barber cape as well. (I've had my set for almost 20 years, so they do last if you take care of them.) Then, sit your minion down, and take a good look at his shaggy little head.
Less shaggy minion
Put a drop or two of oil on the blades of the clippers.  They'll cut better and it keeps then sharp and conditioned as well.  Then, figure out where you want the fade the start.  I start his at about an inch above where his ears meet the head.  Turn on your clippers and using the bare blade with no guard, shave up from the bottom to the imaginary line about an inch above the ear.  Be careful around the top and backs of the ears.  You have to move the ear slightly especially when the kids are small because the clippers are a lot larger than the area you're dealing with.  Just be careful not to nip the skin accidentally.  Strangely, the minions are a bit apprehensive about sitting for the next cut if you nick them.
Almost normal minion
Next you're going to put the clippers down and get your scissors.  I use the thickness of my fingers as a good measuring tool, you can also use a comb if you're so inclined.  Basically, starting at one side or the other, comb a small section of hair so you're holding it between your fore and middle finger and cut it.  This isn't rocket science.  Again, I use the thickness of my fingers as a guide for length.  Do this over the entire head, except for the very front.  The bangs, for boys you can do one of two things depending on what your minion likes.  Leave it longer so they can spike it up a bit in the front, or cut it straight across so it lines up even with where the line is for the fade.  Your choice, or theirs if they're old enough.  Mine likes his straight across.

Cutting the front straight 

Next, we move on to the taper part.  I won't lie, this is the hard part.  Oh, and not cutting your fingers.  That's not an easy feat either with a squirming kid.  While they get their squirm on, grab the clippers and take off any strays that you may have missed earlier.  One you're done with that, get your trusty scissors and convince your minion to hold still again.  Put your comb almost tight to the head and draw it up though the hair until the bottom of the comb is just above the fade line.  Using the clippers, draw them over the comb to cut away what sticks out through it.  Do this the entire way around the head (except the front, or your minion will look weirder than usual).
Tidied up minion

At this point I usually take the clippers and with a bare blade even out the taper.  It may be a bit bumpier right where the taper and fade meet up.  Just make it look nice and even.
That's it.  It takes a little practice, so don't get discouraged if yours doesn't look like they just stepped out of the barber shop the first time through.  Remember, stylists go to school or something for this, by the time you do it about five times it will look perfect too.

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There are a number of ways to say you've been pushed over the edge of sanity and reason and are having a complete mental and emotional breakdown.  Personally I like off your nut, losing your religion, a few sammiches short of a picnic and when you've strayed over the line where the crazy bats are, well my friends, you've gone and lost your schmidt.  (No Shandy, you're pregnant, not bat schmidt crazy)
I've had a few occurrences this year that have pushed me to the edge of my rope (also a great colloquialism).  There's been Day of the Grandmothers (to be fair that was last year, but it was a holiday so it counts as double), the ongoing crazy that is my digestive tract, tearing apart my house, the entire IEP fiasco with my eldest child, and then that woman reared her ugly head again the day before heart surgery.  That woman, she has no other name in my vocabulary, is my MIL.  She's been that woman since I cut off contact with her in October of '95.  And as with things like nasty infections and unimaginable pain, I can't say I miss her.
Due to some of the more amazing things she's said and done over the brief period I had the unpleasure of her company, we've cut off all contact with her and her husband, what's his face.  If you can't imagine what would make you do something like that, you should take a gander here, for a six part look into some tamer MIL's.  Read them knowing I can easily top them.  That woman is the cherry on top of their crazy, and the whipped cream, and sprinkles... you get the idea.
The day before Minion #1 was headed 3 hours away for heart surgery, we get contacted by that woman.  We've asked numerous times to be left alone, don't call, don't write, don't send things.  The King sent her an email in November of last year that requesting yet again that there be no contact(mostly because I didn't want another Christmas gift that had a label on it saying it causes cancer, I schmidt you not).  But no, that woman has a bad memory apparently, perhaps the crazy interferes with it, maybe it's more like the Grinch, her shoes are too tight, head's not screwed on right, or her heart is just two sizes too small.  Like the Whoo's, no one quite knows the reason.
So there I stood red faced and angry in my kitchen.
Thinking of nothing more than an hours worth of bitchin'.
I growled with a snarly little Keebler-Elven sneer,
Tomorrow is pre-op testing day, and it's nearly here.
Could that woman not have waited, found something else to do?
Someone else to bother, someone else to piss off through and through?
No, I didn't think in cute Dr. Seuss rhymes at the time.  In fact, language was beyond me for a bit., I was so far past losing my schmidt.

Once we were back home and more settled, I sat down and logically starting thinking about the situation.  How do you handle someone that won't leave you alone?  Yeah, you start by writing another letter.  So I did.
It will be sent certified mail, and hopefully my schmidt will stay in one place for a while.  At least until IEP season begins anew.
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I think everyone has a love/hate relationship with their cable company.  We all loves us some trashy tv, but no one wants to shell out at least a hundred bucks a month for the overrated privilege of watching Snooki.  When our cable bill was inching towards $150/month.  We said enough is enough.
So, the King put on his crown, picked up the royal telephone and called the neighboring kingdom of Comcast.  He asked about different plans (there really weren't any we wanted to pay for) or just lowering the rates.  Being the powerful kingdom they are, they said no.  "Okay", says my King.  "Then we'd like to cancel our cable service".  The Court Jester of Comcast told us how much it would be to turn it off.  Yes, you have to pay to have your cable turned off.  It's a one time disconnect fee because they have to pay someone to come out and physically throw a switch on the cable box.  Fine, we agree to pay the disconnect fee just to make them go away and be free from the oppressive kingdom of Comcast. (Help!, Help! We're being repressed!)
Funny thing about paying for the disconnect fee.  We were never disconnected.  To be fair, we did disconnect our cable box and return it to the Royal Comcast Cable box Stables.  Our TV's however are still picking up cable, to this day, two years later.
 Pretty much to scale.
In the mean time we've been using XBMC to stream video, etc to the tv, but the fan died in the PC that was running it, and one can only take just so much Anthony Bourdain until you have find an alternative.  And find one we did.
Roku has been on our radar for a while, but wasn't quite robust and polished enough until just recently.  The Roku XS retails for under $100, and if there is a channel out there streaming content you'll have access to it.  It's super simple to set up, super easy to add channels, and if one remote isn't enough for you, there's an app for your smart phone to turn in into additional remotes.

Now, each time I sit down to watch tv, I smile and think to myself, 'Comcast, you can Suck It!'
I say that a lot.  This past week I think more so than usual.  There was the minion #1's wound not really closing from surgery a month ago.  Then, the subsequent infection, more meds, bandages to change.  So the drama.  My cats ate one of my Mother's Day presents.  Not that the morning glory stood much of a chance with me around, but still.  It was growing, and looking good.  Now it just looks like green stems with one nibbled on leaf.  How good can a potted plant really taste?
And then there was the opossum.  Oh, yes.  An opossum.
Not playing possum.
We thought the opossum was playing possum at first.  He (or she, I'm an equal opportunity opossum person) was all snuggled up in the leaves in our yard peeking his head up now and then.  The King came to alert me about the opossum, in the middle of the afternoon which prompted a 'Wait, what?', from me.  Being a nocturnal critter, I had never seen one of the varmints in the daylight outside of a zoo.
I walked outside to gawk at it, expecting it to be playing possum.  Happily passed out in the yard, having been scared by something, probably minion #2.  But no, it was awake.  Someone had shot it, and not done a very good job of it.  Shooting something on a Sunday is a no-no in Pennsyltucky.  Also a no-no to not dispose or collect your target, not to mention we do live in a neighborhood.  Even in Pennsyltucky you can't discharge a firearm in a residential area.
We had a bit of an opossum memorial service, and put the poor thing to rest.  We're now referring to Mother's Day as Sad Possum Day here.
Today dawned coldish, dreary and raining.  As the King walked minion #2 to the bus, another opossum awaited us on the driveway.  This one was also shot, he gasped his last on the cold, wet, asphalt as he bled out.  Who knew Sad Possum Day was a two day event?  He joined the other one in our back yard.  There was talk of a tombstone for the possum brothers by minion #2.  Only half hearing the conversation, my inner mom voice said 'Wait, what?', before I smiled and went back to what I was doing.
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Today is my 16th Mother's day.  No, I don't have a budding driver on my hands.  Nor do I have to worry about that issue for a few more years.  The oldest minion is 14.  The younger one only 11.  I know, the math doesn't add up.  Granted math isn't my best subject, but with a calculator and my fingers, sometimes my toes, I can add and subtract.  In this case I'm -1.

Minion#1  6 days old, 3.5lbs
There was a minion that never opened her eyes, or drew her first breath.  She never got to have skinned knees, or great days.  There was no wrapping her daddy around her little finger, or shouting how much she hated me because, well, I was her mother.   Her heart however, was beating.  And then it wasn't.

There is nothing that compares to the elation you experience when you find out there is going to be a new life joining you.  Nor is there anything that can prepare you for the utter desolation and helplessness with the loss of a child.

Minion #2  2days old, 6lbs
There will always be an empty place in my heart where someone belongs.  That will stay with me always.

There is this wonderful poem by e.e. cummings called [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in)].  It's really for lovers, but the final stanza resonated with me in this case.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(icarry it in my heart)

And I always will.
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Yesterday, I wrote about the things that I learned from my grandmothers.  A few were big life lessons that have stuck with me, ingrained into my psyche like a pricing sticker on a gift you’re trying to wrap.  While we learn things that we are supposed to do from people, we learn how not to do things too.  These lessons have been imparted to me very well by my mother in law.

Never treat the girl your son brings home like the enemy.
She isn’t.  She loves him too.  Not like you do, and that’s ok, you’re his mother, the first love of his life.  You can never be replaced as Mom, but you’re not the most important woman in the world to him anymore. When you insist that you keep that role, you will alienate her first, then your own child.

Let your child live their life their own way.
I </3 my MIL
It’s ok to offer advice and guidance, especially when they aren’t adults.  When your child is living on their own, and no longer relying on you financially, you don’t get to make sweeping decisions for them and then make a scene when your will isn’t followed. 

Conflict resolution should be just that, a resolution.
Everyone is fallible.  Just because you’re the parent doesn’t mean you’re right.  You may have more experience, you may know a lot.  You also may not have all the facts.  Make sure you do have them all before you pass your judgments, scream at people, and cause even more damage that your answer to is say you’re sorry for whatever it is you think we’ve done.

Never attempt to control another person.
If your ideas and wants aren’t followed, put on your big girl panties and deal with it.  If you escalate matters and start demanding things that aren’t yours to demand, don’t be surprised if you meet even more resistance.   And, for the love of all things, whatever you do, don’t call someone’s parents and demand they control their daughter, they will laugh at you.

Do not insert yourself into your child’s relationship with their significant other.
A normal romantic relationship has two people in it.  Not two people and one’s mother.  Don’t call every night at bedtime and talk until the significant other gives up and goes to bed.  Don’t advise your child on their sex life.  Don’t overlay your moral values on their relationship either.  Everyone is different and you have to accept that, even if it means you don’t agree with it.

Speak softly and without regret.
Words that I had with my in-laws were frequently done in very angry tones, language that would make sailors blush and at volumes that could be heard for miles.  To this day I regret none of what I said, and perhaps I should have said more, to more people so they could understand some of the horrors I endured at their hands.  Think carefully about what you say, because words once uttered can’t be taken back, only forgiven.  There are some words, and actions that can never be forgiven at all.
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With Mother's Day coming up on Sunday, I'd thought I write a little about my family and the lovely women that have shaped us all into who were are.  I'm lucky, I got to know both of my grandmothers as I was growing up.  My dad's mother I saw most every weekend and nearly all summer, every summer.  My Mom's mother though, I only saw every few years, and for one special summer in my early tweens.

Both made an impression on me in their own ways.  They didn't lead glamourous lives.  They didn't have fabulous careers.  But they lived, full, rich lives with much to impart on all of us, some of it wise, some of it not.  But, there was something to be learned in all of it.

My Dad's Mom - Edith
At the end of the day, it's your family that matters.
My family isn't overly affectionate, barely at all really.  But, affection and importance aren't the same thing.  That was the big lesson.  Over time they've integrated in our household and we have both.  Hugs are freely given and done so often.

Digging in the dirt is good for your soul.
I still can't grow things, but both grandmas taught me how to plant, weed, mulch, get rid of aphids on your roses and dig holes in the dirt when you're mad.  But remember, if you're in upper Michigan in the middle of the summer, randomly digging holes, near a pond - watch for baby turtles.

There is always someone in need, so do what you can.
Share things.  Volunteer.  Give of your time.  Both volunteered for causes, both made things for others.  I learned to hand sew on a lap quilt that one made for the church and destined for someone's lap.  'We old people get cold', she said as she corrected my wavy stitches for probably the 80th time that day.

Learn to really live.
People go through the motions of life.  Showing up for a job, doing it, going home and going through more motions before turning off their lights and repeating it all the next day.  Figure out where your passions lie and do that.  Paint, explore, be whatever you want to be, but be happy, and have no regrets.

Exercise you body as well as your mind.
Both of the grandmas had their schedules they kept to each day.  The routine was a comfort as well as a way to keep their bodies in motion.  One watched Wheel of Fortune, and she was so good at it, the other read, a lot.  The one summer I spent with my mother's family, I was amazed at how well she knew some poetry.  We were in her vast gardens and as she was explaining the importance of finding your way in life she launched into Do not go gentle into that good night.
To this day, I still Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Take time for yourself.
Get your hair done, paint your nails, get a new pair of shoes.  Maybe that last one was me, but it's true.  You enhance the quality of your life and of those around you by taking a small amount of time for you each day and feeling good.  Chances are you'll make others feel good too.

First Impressions are Important.
It doesn't matter if you're talking about you, your home, or how you speak.  No, you're not supposed to judge people, but we do.  So, says both the grandmas, always be neat and clean.  Keep your home neat and clean.  Watch the words you use, for once spoken they can never be forgotten, only forgiven.
And wear a dress on a first date!
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My friend Becky over at Broken Pencils Are Pointless (cool name isn't it?) had a great post today about Polyvore. Never heard of Polyvore? It's digital paper dolls for grownups!  Anyway her post was all about how Polyvore can just suck the day away from you if you let it.  It can.  But, as with most things, in moderation it can be a great tool as well.
I use it a lot on this blog.  All of the outfits are put together in Polyvore and displayed here and on Pinterest as well.  The one thing I do dislike about Polyvore is that while I can get my outfits close, they're not exactly the same.  For Fashionista Friday, I thought it might be nice to see what a Polyvore outfit I made up compares to the real thing.
Casual Fridays in Spring
The Polyvore Collection.  Clicking it will take you to a list of all the pieces and prices.

And here is what I actually wore today:
Yes, those are daisies on my toes.
Cardigan and Capris - White House Black Market  $88 & $78 respectively.  But not really - credit card points into gift cards made them free.
T-Shirt - Target  $8
Sandals - Bakers via the Salvation Army (never worn!) $3.
Scarf - Banana Republic $15
Jewelry - Gabriel Brothers $10-12.  Total for all 3 pieces.
Purse - Aldo $35

And there you have it.  A cute outfit for spring, what it actually looks like on, and the subtle reminder that it doesn't have to cost you a fortune to look really good.  Be sure to check your neighborhood thrift stores.  You never know what you'll find.

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For any of you with gluten intolerance, soy issues, have a 'thing' about latex, or just can't stand milk or lactose, this one is for you.
It took me forever to figure out all the things that were making me sick when we first figured out I had gluten issues.  The stuff is in everything.  Then, as it turns out, I have soy issues too.  Soy really is in nearly everything, more so than wheat.  Add issues with milk and latex, and you have a huge ball of misery when you're not finding out exactly what's in everything you're using.  Unfortunately you can't trust companies to tell you either.  Some will claim that it's super secret formulation (Cover Girl Cosmetics) or depend on someone in India who barely speaks English to tell you if there is wheat in your products but really has no idea, so they give you wrong information (Avon).  A few actually are nice enough to list all the active and inactive ingredients on their stuff (Thank you, E.L.F and Neutrogena).  But the reality is, you have to learn some really big words, and what they mean.  You also have to learn where and in what stuff can hide in.  For example, tocopherols are a big one for soy.  That's vitamin E for you non sciencey folks.
My Favorite Things - The Bathroom Edition
My Favorite Things - The Bathroom Edition
I had some crazy reactions to what seemed like everything for a long while.  Hives, rashes, mild infections were a way of life for years.  I really had no idea that my food issues were active in my skin as well.  Once I started removing products with wheat, soy, milk and latex, and their derivatives, I got to be mostly normal again.
Here's the stuff I use that works well for me:

  • Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner Nature Fusion Smooth Vitality
  • Caress Sheer Twilight
  • Yardley of London English Lavender Soap
  • J&J Body Care Lavender and Chamomile AKA Bedtime Lotion
  • St. Ives Timeless Skin Moisturizer
  • ELF Cosmetics - I use their mascara, eyeliner with shadow on the other end, lip gloss and powder.
  • Neutrogena Cosmetics - foundation, powder and concealer
  • Revlon - lip liner
  • Kotex recently came out with Natural Balance, cotton, wood cellulose, aloe and non soy vitamin e.  Very little plastic too if you're sensitive to that.
  • Kleenex Cool Touch Tissues.  No tocopherols for when you have a sore nose.
  • Lifestyles Skyn.  Non latex and no lactose in the lubricant.  

Bet you didn't know most lubricants have lactose in them.  Now you do.

I probably shouldn't have to say this, but make sure you check your products every time, just to be sure.  You never know when a manufacturer might reformulate their product.


I got to wondering about this when I was writing the about me page.  I very much dislike trying to summarize myself, or things that I like or do. Lists are a bit easier for me to write, so I did.  Here are a few things that make me, well, me.

Yarr!  Thar be birthday cake.

  • I can recite almost the entire book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by heart.  Also...Goodnight Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, and most of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • I bake better than those little Keebler elves.  No one gets a store bought birthday cake around here.  No siree bob, we get pirate ships, swimming pools, dinosaurs with chocolate scales, you get the idea.
  • My attraction to shoes and the color purple is legendary, but did you know about my love affair with hats? 
  • It takes me forever to fall asleep.  My brain has no slow down or off function so I literally fall asleep some nights mid thought.
  • The only movie that ever made me remotely sick to my stomach was fight club.  Human fat in a bag...the thought is making me gag even now.
  • The only movie that has ever made me cry, Forrest Gump.  Stupid Jenny, why do you have to die every time?  *sniff*
  • I still look in the mirror and wonder who that lady is looking back at me.
  • I never wanted kids growing up, but I'm pretty good at being a mom.
  • About the kids thing, I might have a small mama bear streak in me.  Don't mess with my kids.  I will hunt you down and make you wish you never met me, or my children in this life, or the next if you even think about it.
  • I can freakishly recall details about people and places or conversations from years ago, word for word sometimes.  Phone numbers too.
  • I organize things alphabetically.  Even my spices in the kitchen.
  • I really dislike not being on time.  It makes my nearly have an anxiety attack. 
  • I won't fill out forms for people who already have my info.  My info hasn't changed, just the paper you want it on.
  • I have to be sick to nap in the daytime.
  • I really, really hate it when people look at me, then look at me again and say...you look so familiar.
  • I go out of my way to smile at old people and kids with obvious special needs.  I love it when they smile back, it makes me happy.  
  • I would so make Alex Trebek my bitch if I ever get on Jeopardy.
What are a few things that make you, you?

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