Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vote For ME!! (again!)

Hey Guys!!

Its time to vote for the Vintaj Designer of the Year!! Since I won with my Caribbean Sun Set design earlier this year I'm in the running!! So please vote for me! My piece is #7.

http://vintaj.com/wpblog/?p=14010

Thank you SO very much for your love and support! And if you haven't seen our new website yet you need to go check it out!!

www.beadsjustforyou.com

Cheers!!
Ami

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Router: 2.5; Me: 1

So Santa has been EXTREMELY generous to me with the early Christmas presents this year. So far I've been given a laser sighted miter saw, a random orbital sander AND a wood router and bit set. ROCK ON!!

Well today was my first experiments using the router. Its a different thing to do it yourself rather than watching my father and grandfather use it from several feet away. Don't get me wrong the router was VERY easy to use. I'm extremely pleased with it but, and this might sound really obvious, the dust is dramatically worse up close than it is from a few feet away.

As in I dramatically underestimated the vision protection required to use this tool. I knew the dust would be bad and came prepared with a really high grade particle mask that I use when sawing or enameling but I just grabbed my good old safety glasses that I use for all my previous wood work.

Ha hahahaha hahaha ha.

Yeah I figured the dust would hit the front of the glasses and just bounce off like it does when I saw.

NOT.

More like it just laughs at my feeble efforts to not get saw dust in my eyes and proceeds to coat both the front AND back of the lenses, my eye lashes, eye brows and finally my eye balls.

At which point I had to stop, grab the hose and spend some quality time very gently washing my face and eyes out. *sigh*

THEN I remembered that I'd bought some chemical grade safety goggles for my book shelf project (I'll post about that soon), so I went and grabbed those.

Those were MUCH much better. Absolutely no dust made it in with those. The problem tho? I was wearing my glasses (was afraid saw dust + contact lenses = BAD), and they promptly fogged up so bad I had drops of condensation running down my lenses before I was finished with my task.

Thankfully I could kinda see around the edges (and where the drops ran down the lenses and cleared the condensation temporarily) and with the edge router bit I don't so much have to SEE exactly what my path is I just gently push it against the edge until it stops and then go forward.

So I got the job done and I am TOTALLY thrilled with the results. (I'm working on Christmas presents so I don't want to give things away) but I totally got pawned in the eye department by the router. Twice. BUT I got the job done.

The router gets another half a point tho for abusing the paper cut on my finger. Today's hot tip: put a frickin bandaid on ANY and all small cuts on  your fingers before routing b/c scrubbing that super fine dust out of the cut later is NOT fun.

And ya know I really should have known better. I watched a bunch of how-to videos on YouTube before we got the router and most of them just used the basic glasses and mask like I tried the first time but this one dude busted out this full face shield and like respirator/gas mask lookin' thing. I was like "Wow OVERKILL". And now I'm like "I gotta get me one of THOSE!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Manure Tolerance

I think I might be getting crotchety in my old age.

That or I'm developing a severely limited tolerance for bull shit**. Its like I just go, "You. Yes, you. You elevate my stress. Therefore I refuse to deal with you further. BE GONE DEMON!!!"

Maybe not exactly like that but close.

And see the thing is that its just so amazingly liberating. And invigorating and refreshing and like this massive load if off your back that its kinda like poppin' the top on a can of pringles: you just can't stop!

So then when the next bearer of a shit bucket comes a long and elevates my stress - I just look at them with this glint in my eye and go, "I ain't takin this from so-and-so, who I have way better reasons to take it from than you, so, there ain't NO WAY I'm gonna take it from you either! BE GONE DEMON!!!"
......
Lemme take a minute to explain a very important bit of my personal theology. Aka "The Shit Bucket Allegory" (if I'm misusing the word allegory I don't want to know) *ahem*:

I once had it explained to me by a very wise friend that there are people in this life that run around handing steaming buckets of shit out to other people. And they actually expect you to take this steaming bucket of shit from them, thank them for it and then dump it on your own head for them. And they become very irate when you refuse to do so and want to brow beat you into feeling bad that you're not taking their shit bucket and making it your own.

It is a VERY important life skill to learn to recognize these people and their shit buckets for what they are. It is very, very good for your mental health to be able to say, "I know what this is. This right here is a shit bucket and I don't have to take it."

Seriously. Start looking at your life and your interactions with people, especially the ones that leave you feeling like mud afterwards and start trying to identify the shit buckets. If you're up to your neck in shit this may be difficult so I'd recommend consulting with a friend. A good friend can help you to identify shit buckets and validate your feelings.

Just remember and say it with me "That is a shit bucket and I don't have to take it".

Personally learning the Shit Bucket Allegory was a BIG step in my personal growth and development. And I've remembered it for all these years because it made me laugh. The image was just so bizarre. B/c theres simply no way in heck I'd ever dump a literal bucket of shit on my own head, and yet emotionally thats exactly whats going on. And equating one with the other was what I needed in order for me to realize that I didn't/shouldn't/wouldn't take that from people anymore. It validated me. I had that right. And that this was WRONG and I didn't have to take it. B/c believe it or not but your very own Ami was once a door mat.

I realize people who know me now find this shocking. But its true. I was a door mat. I was an enabling, codependent doormat. Yup. ME. And ya know it took me a bit to identify that as an actual change in my personality and not just a change in my self identity.

Because before my mission, I would have described myself as "mellow, laid back and easy going" but on my mission I discovered that I was only mellow in comparison to my mother and sister and that I am my very own little fire ball.

But as I've gotten even older and looked back more (ahhh hindsight) I've realized that theres more too it than that. I wasn't "easy going". I was a doormat. And yes I am a fire ball now. But once upon a time? Ha. I was a punching bag for the popular crowd in grade school.

And I have to say this: I really like me a whole bunch better now. And I'm a whole lot happier.

Its fun. Identify and reject a shit bucket today! Its GREAT.

** For those who object to profanity - and yes I usually try to keep myself from using it - I'm using it intentionally here for the shock value of the mental image of "a steaming bucket of shit" because that is the reality of what these emotional terrorist are trying to do and I want that jarring image to invoke the strong reaction because thats what it took for me to wake up and realize I had a right to defend myself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Working for Zen

So the sh1t-eth has been hitting the fan-eth. And I'm trying very, very hard to not freak out about it because if I freak out about it I kinda wind up in the fetal position alternating between hyperventilating and wanting to beat people upside the head with a baseball bat for things that may or may not be at all their fault.

And I've got a whole bunch of questions and not a lot of answers. And I've got a whole bunch of things that need solid plans and need them asap and I am powerless as of yet to plan them for reasons entirely outside my control.

I think thats the biggest issue I"m having at the moment is feeling powerless. There is so much about my situation that is making me crazy and theres so very little about it that I have any power to change. Well... short of running away and joining the circus and there by leaving the whole kit and kaboodal behind. Which is more one of those "you ALWAYS have a choice, even if its a really chitty choice" moments.

And so in my efforts to keep myself from giving into my anxiety attacks and curling up into a giant ball of depression I am currently really focusing on being grateful for the things that I do have. I do have the cutest baby boy ever. I do have a husband who loves me. I do have some amazing friends and really wonderful family. I do have this beautiful house that is looking better now than at any time previous.

I'm also trying  to focus on my relationship with my Heavenly Father and trying very hard to let go of all my fear and worry and to just trust my God that it will work out okay in the end. Its hard to do. Its definitely not my natural inclination. I know that worry just robs me of the strength that I need today, to work on having a better tomorrow.

And so I take deep breaths, say my prayers, read my scriptures and try very hard to trust God.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oh Lord.

Holy god that nut job Duggar is pregnant with kid #20. You can like her but I think she's nuts.

I think my biggest issue is the way they "Leave their family planning up to God". I'm like I don't think you should confuse the will of your Heavenly Father with biology. God allows us to reap the natural consequences of our actions. And like I learned in heath class, sperm + egg = baby. I think God gives us a brain and expects us to use it.

Now I'm not saying that God would never, ever tell a person to have a bunch of kids. But I think each and every child should be sincerely, and intently prayed about before embarking on that journey. And from what they've said, that is not what they're doing.

I also have serious doubts because that woman is 45. In my opinion thats wayyyy too old to be having kids on purpose (I do understand that accidents happen). She had SO many problems with the last one. And yes gall bladder problems and preeclampsia can happen to anybody but the odds of both of those problems increase dramatically with age.

The unflattering 3 F's of the odds of gall bladder issues are "Fair, Fat and Forty" and while I wouldn't call her fat, she wasn't the ideal BMI and she's definitely "fair" and "forty". And preeclampsia is a SERIOUS condition, and the risks increase with age. And the odds of her having a whole slew of issues increase dramatically starting at 35. She's 10 years PAST that.

You're allowed to like her, but I am just plain not a fan...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Corporal Punishment

Go read this article (go ahead, I'll wait): http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/pastor-corporal-punishment-advice-scrutinized-child-deaths-160004793.html

Done? Ready to puke? Me too.

For starters I would like to note that biblical scholars have claimed that, "spare the rod, spoil the child" is actually a mistranslation (I apologize for not finding the reference perhaps if I'm not so lazy in the future I'll dig it up). The correct translation is actually "Spare the crook, spoil the child". Now if you know anything about animal husbandry - this makes LIGHT YEARS more sense.

The allegory in use is herding sheep. Now if you've ever worked with sheep you know a rod does exactly NO good whatsoever. Why? B/c if you hit a sheep on the head they might wonder what that fly was bugging them. Keep in mind that sheep regularly run at each other full tilt boogie and ram their heads together. Hitting a sheep in the head accomplishes NOTHING. Hitting a sheep anywhere else is futile as well since they're running around with a good 6 inches of wool padding. You're not going to get their attention, let a lone bring them in line that way.

This is why ever shepherd ever depicted has been drawn carrying a shepherds crook. A big long stick with a big hook on the end. How does one use a crook? Sheep have a natural herd tendency (as do people) and so the idea is that you hold on to the straight end and when one of the sheep starts to wander off you just reach out, hook it around the head w/ the crook and guide it back in line with the rest of the flock. 99 times out of 100 they'll then stay in line.

Did you hear what I just said? Instead of beating a child into submission, you reach out, grab them and guide them back to the path they should go.

Ponder THAT for a minute.

Now I'm not one to say that you should never, ever under any circumstances strike a child. However I will say that I think by far the gross majority of the time, theres a better way to parent. At the risk of sounding horribly cliche I was spanked as a child and I think I turned out okay. But I will say that if my mother spanked you, which was very rare, it was almost without exception because you did something dangerous. Things like running out in the street, hiding from Mom in the store, trying to shove stuff in an electrical outlet AFTER she told you repeatedly not to, would earn you a spanking. And you better believe that it was a shock and awe experience. I knew she was SERIOUS because that never happened.

Now according to the Gospel of Ami - Thou shalt NEVER, EVER strike a child with anything other than your hand, and I'm talking open palm, smacked with the flat of your hand. Why? B/c your parents should never hurt you. I know from being a stupid kid that if you slap somebody or something with your palm - it HURTS. Man that stings! You're wayyyy less likely to make somebody else hurt when its hurting you back. Using an object creates a level of separation. You can do damage using something to hit and not feel a thing yourself. That is NOT okay. I don't think you should ever, ever, ever, leave a mark on a child. Never. If you leave a mark you've officially gone too far.

Now there are some times when I think striking a child is just dumb. And no matter how much I thought about it the first time my toddler reached out and smacked me, intentionally, I will admit that my gut reaction was to reach out and smack him right back and go, "No hit!". At which point I did a total face palm over the stupidity of that logic. lol

Since then, I have now trained myself that if Caleb hits me, my reaction is to grab his little wrist and I get right up in his face and in my mean voice I say, "No HIT! That is not nice!" and if he tries again he gets a time out. He very rarely hits now.

I like this system and it makes good sense to me b/c I once read that what you're really teaching them in your reactions is what is the appropriate way to respond to violence. I don't want my kid to automatically meet violence with violence. Don't get me wrong I definitely believe that there is a time and a place to stand up for yourself and whats right and you can and should defend yourself. But I don't want the snap reaction to be to punch back. Especially since Caleb is liable to be a BIG kid and an even bigger man. So I am completely okay with him stopping the other person from committing more violence (grabbing the arm) and getting in their face and going "This is not acceptable".

I think the whole world would go a little better if we did that in all our dealings with other people. When someone does something mean to us if we stop them, say, "No thats not okay," and have a chance to talk it out and give them a chance to choose their next action before we assume the worst and smash their faces in. But I digress...

I just think that positive reinforcement is a much, much, much more powerful and above all effective tool for teaching (both animals and people), and theres a metric crapload of research that supports this that I almost can't fathom why you would think the regular use of corporal punishment would ever be a good idea.

And while I personally fast once a  month for religious reasons (unless I am pregnant or sick), I definitely don't think "fasting" is a safe, healthy or good teaching tool for a child. I won't allow my children to join me in my fasting, if they so chose, until they're at least 8 years old (I define fasting as going for 2 meals - breakfast and lunch - without food or drink).

This is not to say that I wouldn't send a kid to bed without supper if they're refusing to eat what every body else is eating. You eat what the family eats, my house is not a restaurant. However, should you decide you're willing to eat that evil green bean, or what have you after all, your food will be waiting in the fridge for you. Thats just how I was raised. You definitely weren't getting desert until you ate all your veggies and that was final. But short of that, I really can't fathom why you would think withholding food from a child is a good idea. I do think desert and juice and other sweets are a privilege, and can be lost or earned, but a good solid meal with a big tall glass of water or milk is a right. I'm willing to negotiate on what veggies are eaten (a double serving of x instead of the icky y) but the veggies have to be eaten. Sorry.

So the using fasting to "train" a child bit of that article makes me wanna puke and beat the parents in question about the head and shoulders. But I'm clearly being judgmental.

And I'm okay with that.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I hate Gray

I just have to take a moment to vent my feeling on the latest disturbing color trend.

Grey.

Its EVERY WHERE. Hell, I'm this*close to stopping reading one of my favorite blogs b/c the woman is grey obsessed and the whole damn house is going grey.

I hate grey. Its depressing. Its penitentiary grey. Battle ship grey. Mortuary Grey. I really, really, really hate grey. Its dirty grey.

I mean I can kind of get behind charcoal grey - nice and dark and almost black. But ash grey? And all the shades in that family? UGH. NO THANK YOU.

I don't know, maybe its because I've dealt with major depression in my life but I shy away from colors which I find depressing so me and grey do not talk - short of a pair of sweat pants or two - I don't do grey.

And I REALLY, REALLY hate the grey and yellow combination. Its supposed to be "cheerful". I think its this odd combination of depressing/dirty/jarringly bright. It so doesn't work for me.

And dear God Almighty if this woman isn't doing grey in every fricking room!!! In major permanent, hard/expensive to change places. Its making me twitchy. I mean I know its her house and if she loves it then more power to her but I just don't wanna watch. Their first house was SO my style. And I do like to read the blog b/c she has great ideas even if they're now in the dread color more often than not, but dear Lord when will it end?! The new house is going so very modern and I'm just a little too traditional for that. I mean I like a good mod/traditional mix but this here is just plain out to blow that the frick away ya know?

Okay. I just needed to get that off my chest. If grey, white and yellow is your most favoritest combination EVER then you can go right on loving it but here and now I'm taking a stand: I hate it and I think its fugly and depressing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I believe in inventing words

and phrases. I definitely believe in inventing new words and phrases. And I'm entirely willing to adopt good ones from other people. I also use slang, and I shamelessly abbreviate words I think are too long. Part of this comes from a core inability to spell, part of this comes from reading too much, and I'm also sure that being raised in the South (and being American) doesn't help either.

I'm not sure I appreciated just how often I do this until I installed Lion this weekend and discovered Auto-Correct. Now I'm sure you've seen the websites (like this one) where in we mock those poor hapless autocorrect users who inadvertently send out a missive with some sort of horribly embarrassing typo.

Then my OS started doing it to me... Or more like I started trying to talk with my usual "Ami-speak" and discovered that I was gonna have to beat my computer to death if it stopped changing my wording into something that I didn't want it to be.

Of course now that I'm writing a whole blog post dedicated to the subject (and have thereby guaranteed that I will draw a complete blank) I'd like to give some examples of what I'm talking about and perhaps some rationale for why I use them.

1. Fauxnamel - faux enameling. B/c saying those two words as separate entities makes my tongue trip up. Where as "fauxnamel" just rolls off the tongue. I mean just say it with me "faux enamel" and "fauxnamel". It works. For those who don't know what on earth that is - enameling is done using powdered glass (super toxic do not inhale) and then fired with either a torch or kiln (danger will robinson!). Fauxnameling uses acrylic paints, alcohol inks and resin to achieve the same look in a completely non-toxic way (depending on which resin you use - the one I use is non toxic). See example of fauxnamel work here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/74023757/yellow-green-fauxnamel-necklace, and an example of torch fired enameling here: http://ilikesparklyobjects.blogspot.com/2011/08/little-gardens-of-glass.html .

2. Frickin, beotch, chit - all forms of wooden swearing. Yes I really do say these in real life. I don't just type them to get around electronic censors.

3. Crackberry - this one is so not mine but so amazingly descriptive I've happily adopted it but it too gave my auto correct a run for its money. Ditto for WoW and World of War Crack.

And thats of course all I can think of now that I'm typing this list. Before I started typing I had this whole lovely long list of ideas which I can now no longer think of. Bah hum bug.

I'll update this later if they all magically come back to me.

Update: I'm also adding words like "fugly"and "bat chit" to the list.

I have ADHD

I don't so much have a specific direction to this post. But I miss my blogging and so here I am posting. So we're just gonna let the ADHD do the talking and see where it takes us:

I have this huge giant to do list and a head ache that is impairing me from being able to get'er'done.

I'm irked b/c I decided to sit down and bite the bullet and transfer over to my new phone. My Dad got an iPhone so he gave me his EVO 4G which is WAYYY better than my little Blackberry curve (which I would describe as an excellent smart phone gateway drug - the "crackberry" is well named). So I'm excited about the upgrade - but I'm nervous. B/c that little black berry - limited tho it is - is my right arm. And I really can't afford to not have it fully functional.

So first I try to activate it online and it tells me I have to call and speak to somebody. So then I call on my blackberry and it tells me I have to call from a phone OTHER THAN the blackberry. So then I call from the business phone and discover I can't hear JACK on that thing unless its on speaker phone (good to know), I try 8+ times to get it right - but theres no "oops I hit the wrong button can I please do that over" option so you have to hang up and go through the whole damn thing AGAIN and thats when I decided I either needed to blow the phone the frick up or just wait until nap time is over and go to the sprint store and deal w/ a human being.

Also - graph paper pads may just trump yellow legal pads as my new favorite for list writing. I love that no matter what direction I'm coming from I can get nice, super straight lines (which helps keep the OCD at bay).

Item B: I'm impressed w/ the battery life on the iPhone 3G (the business phone) that I'm babysitting while the boss is out of town. The boss decided to upgrade to the iPhone 4 and get a new phone line on her family plan and make the old phone the business line and credit card machine (love Intuit GoPayment). So for 10 bucks a month we have a business line and credit card machine (and the boss doesn't have to give up her iPhone when she goes out of town).

#246 part A: The family dinner at my house on Sunday was very good for my ego b/c I got all sorts of compliments on my redecorating efforts in the living room and dining room. Which of course made me feel like a million bucks.

22. The headache is improving but will require more drugs. I hate the POS drugs you can take when you're trying to get pregnant (no I am not pregnant yet to the best of my knowledge but b/c its physically possible atm we're playin' safe). For starters these particular pills taste like a** and don't work worth a chit (no pun intended).

And last but not least on this random post: I should so be mowing the yard to get the grass seed down ( you have to over seed w/ rye grass here if you want a green lawn in the winter and that has to happen like NOW), cleaning and reorganizing so when I meet the chick tomorrow to see if she wants her kid to come play w/ my kid a couple times a week for a part time babysitting gig she won't run screaming the other way. Upside - the house was just cleaned for the family this last weekend so its not as bad as it could be. And my kid survives it every day right? .... yeah.....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Talking to myself

The more I read, and learn and study about government and politics and policy and religion and race, welfare and states rights vs federal rights and medical coverage and the deficit the more I find contradictions in myself.

For example - I was raised with the bedrock belief that its not the governments job to take care of us. That is the responsibility of the local communities and churches b/c "those shmucks in congress have a 14% approval rating and can't do anything right and tax us like they're trying to bleed us dry and waste half the money on bureaucracy". I'm over generalizing but you get my point.

But then I have several thoughts: 1. Where the hell are the churches and local communities supposed to get the cash from? We'd bankrupt the church taking care of EVERYONE.

2. So if its not the governments job to take care of its people (and I am all for self reliance I think its by far the best route in terms of emotional/mental health for the individual and by far the best route for us as a society), but do we have a duty to be our brothers keeper? That one you could write volumes on. Its this terrible balancing act between saying people have a right to live their lives the way they want to live them and yet, I believe one of the best measures of a society is how it cares for and treats its weakest members. The young, the elderly, the infirm.

So the quick and easy answer is "Of course we should care for them". But historically, prejudice tends to enter in to this equation rather quickly and we wind up institutionalizing people b/c they're from the currently unpopular demographic. Which is where we come to our current system of "Unless they are an eminent danger to self or and eminent danger to others" we legally cannot interfere. They have a right to destroy their minds and bodies and starve to death on the streets. Even if the person is so far gone they can't even feed themselves anymore, unless they have a family member who is willing to go to court and file all the proper petitions and pay out the cash (ooh yes money can still trump all), we currently say that if they won't come willingly then they have a right to die. But not really b/c if you ACTIVELY help them die then we'll throw you in jail.

Confused yet? Yeah so am I.

I think thats probably the next biggest thing - is you can look at just about any good plan that has been tried through out history and you can see how horribly quickly it gets twisted and case after case of where it goes terribly wrong.

For the last hundred plus years - up until about the 70s - people decided it was their duty to care for others, so we institutionalized people left and right. 150 years ago that meant being chained to a wall to rot until you died. People then came up with some largely more humane options for care, but it was still often grim and abuse was rampant. The biggest problem was that just b/c a person has one psychotic break doesn't mean they're going to stay gone forever, but back in the day if you got thrown in there they threw away the key. Or better yet the courts would throw you in there just for being "fill-in-the-blank-unpopular-group". And there you stayed. Forever.

Well enter the 70s and one of the guys who got thrown in there, got out and sued was able to prove that he was entirely mentally competent in court and they had no right to keep him there for years and years like they did. So enter the "de-institutionalization" of America. Basically - we let all the crazies out. We claimed we'd provide outpatient services for them, and in SOME cases and areas that has happened but for the most part - I'd give a conservative estimate that half the people on the streets are there because they are severely mentally ill and have not received care for their disease.

It really doesn't help that theres a massive stigma attached to mental illness STILL in our society. People who have never experienced mental illness are quite often (in my experience at least) at a complete loss to understand why these people don't just "think themselves well". Even those who have experienced it are often shackled by the cultural basis they were raised with. The very same people who would have no problems at all if you needed to take medication to correct a liver imbalance will give you hell if you need to take medication to correct a brain imbalance.

So in a perfect world - we could institutionalize - in a wonderful, caring, compassionate setting, those who are no longer able to care for themselves and help them live out their lives in the best way they possibly can and have full outpatient services available to help treat those in the general population, before it becomes a major problem.

Sounds great and lovely. But 1. Who pays for it? 2. Who runs it?

Having the local community pay for it is great if you live in a wealthy neighborhood, but what if you and all your neighbors are poor? In a perfect world everybody who works hard would succeed and get their very own house with a white picket fence. But the world isn't perfect and every last person is at a different level.

I don't think socialization is the answer. If nothing else - historically that one is a JOKE as it plays out. And we WANT people to be motivated to work hard to take care of themselves because that is so, so good for their mental and emotional health.



So once again the circle I'm talking in comes back to "where does the money come from?"

And since this is getting ridiculously long I'm going to say - the problem with keeping things strictly local is that we have rich states and poor states. Rich neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. Should a child who has no control over where he or she is born suffer b/c of that? Which is why I'm more in favor of doing things - like funding education - at the federal level and not the state level and I think it can be done with less waste than in the past if we use modern technology and keep things transparent.

Yes 200 years ago things really did need to happen so much more on a local level because communication and transportation were not what they are today. Thats why county size used to be limited to "the furthest a man can ride on a horse in a single day". And that was necessary and good then. And some communities left to themselves become models of what we all want to strive for. But some communities left to themselves become the Jim Crow south.... Just sayin.

So Federal level - with LOTS of transparency using modern technology to make it efficient. I think it could work. There will be a whole lot of initial chicken little squawking about the sky falling, b/c the first goal of every organization - regardless of what their mission statement is - is the perpetuation of its own existence. But change can be a very healthy thing if done right.

So yeah. I think I'm in favor of intelligent change using modern technology to aid in transparency and efficiency. And I'm in favor of changing to federal funding instead of state funding for things like mental health, disability services and education. And I'm sure there are people who would call this socialism or at best a "robin hood" plan. But I think the over all measure of us as a nation is how we care for the weakest among us, and I think that education is ultimately an investment in our national security in every respect and that we can only benefit by bringing the whole nation up above the board in education.

And I think while yes we need to really play catch up on math and science b/c the rest of the world is currently kicking our butts and its just plain embarrassing (and stupid in the long term), I think that music and the arts are the tools to get there. Creativity breeds innovation. Innovation is a core ingredient in creative science and technology research and discoveries. Music teaches perfection and mathematics. Physical activity, recess and play time are all critically important to mental, emotional and physical health. You can't think upper level thoughts with a down and out body. Your brain doesn't operate in a vacuum. If the body isn't healthy and fit it can't support the brain to the best of its abilities. Teaching exclusively to a test is cutting your nose off to spite your face. My mother would call it penny wise and pound foolish.

And while all this sounds very liberal to some I'm sure, by the same token I think that our current welfare systems are horribly broken and need to be completely revamped with a focus on creating self sufficiency. I think that work is good for the soul. I think that unless you are a vegetable there is a way that you can contribute and that to do so can only benefit yourself and those around you. I think people need to be rewarded for working smart and working hard with a focus on working smart. Which winds up sounding pretty conservative, imo.

I think the environment should be protected (liberal). But I also think we need solid research and not chicken little scare tactics to decide what is and is not safe (conservative).  I know that adds more costs to our businesses, but I for one like that most of our rivers don't catch on fire anymore and actually have fish living in them. And ultimately a healthier environment makes for a healthier people, which lowers medical costs (and insurance payouts for businesses). So I think you're gonna spend the money one way or another - you're just picking how you spend it. Healthy, happy employees live longer and work harder with less whining.

 (Side note - Thats kind of the conclusion I've come to with my eating/weight loss. It costs a bit more to eat healthy and to pay for this Weight Watchers program to teach me how to eat - but I figure that I'm either gonna spend it here or I'm gonna spend it on medical bills later so I might as well feel better while I'm at it).

And for the record - I've yet to find a political movement or party that is exactly in line with my thought process. At least all the ones you see in the news - tea party, dems, reps, libertarians, etc - I have some major ideological differences with. Maybe I'll find somebody I can get behind 100%. Or maybe its time for a new party. Other countries do that all the time. Why should we be stuck w/ just 2? Just sayin...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Collage is DONE!!

I've FINALLY got it done! My living room wall collage is DONE! One of the pictures printed way dark so I'll have to fix that but we're filing that under "obnoxious details" and declaring it DONE anyhow. lol

Check it out! I'm totally in love with how it turned out!



And THATS how you cover a big honkin piece of wall without having to buy farking expensive grande sized pieces of art!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Procrastination

UGH. I feel like college during finals. I have a MASSIVE to do list and I'm feeling absolutely compelled to find ways to avoid doing the things I'm supposed to do.

Make that EXACTLY like college, b/c when I was in school it was only during finals that I understood the complete and total NEED to paint my toe nails and clean out from behind fridge. Or in this case I want to go weed the yard and do the edging and pretty much ANYTHING that isn't on my to do list. lol

Yes yes I am a perverse little creature. I don't just procrastinate by doing nothing I do it by being VERY productive with things that are pretty much no where on my priority list. lol

So this is me. Wiggin. I've got a web site launch and a dining room redo looming and I don't even wanna think about or touch either of them right now. Ugh.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Aldrich Guest House

So I just wanted to take a minute to give some SERIOUS props to the B&B where I stayed in Galena last week. I stayed some place else last year and was significantly underwhelmed. About the only positive I could say was the bed was VERY comfortable.

So this year I decided to try some place else to stay and after reviewing my options online I picked the Aldrich Guest House. Can I just say "Wow"? Not only was the house BEAUTIFULLY decorated, the hosts Fran and Brian were delightful.

Breakfast was amazing EVERY morning. I mean WOW tons of good food (which they were kind enough to serve me 15 minutes before everybody else on the first 2 days I was there and had class to get to by 9). The first morning there was sausage, fruit salad, quiche, blueberry bread, a potato cheese hash and big pitchers of OJ, ice water, hot water for tea or hot chocolate, coffee etc. Second morning was bacon, a huge pile of french toast stuffed w/ blueberries, bananas and cream cheese, a different fruit salad and a little crock of a hot apple crumble. And the last day was a big slice of fruit pizza, sausage, a big slice of some sort of eggy breakfast casserole that was very tasty, and I know there was more but its all starting to glaze over in a delightful haze. lol. Seriously- GREAT food and wayyyy more of it than I could eat in one sitting.

My room was spotlessly clean, thoughtfully appointed, beautifully decorated and cozy. And I'm glad to report that the walls were plenty thick enough I didn't hear a peep from my neighbors (ya never know with a house that old).  Oh and the price tag? EXCELLENT. In consulting w/ some of the other ladies in my class I definitely scored the best deal price wise.

Oh and they had good WiFi which was a requirement. lol

For the record I'm not being paid or perked to write this I just liked these folks THAT much.  I will happily stay with them again on my next trip to Galena. I took a bunch of pictures but haven't gotten them on the computer yet so when that happens I'll post some for ya. For anybody to checks out their website I stayed in Clara's room.

Friday, September 23, 2011

See what I made today!

Well I'm here in Galena, IL again to attend the 2 Day Comprehensive workshop at Vintaj. Its AWESSOME. Having so much fun! I had a nasty migraine this morning so I missed going out to lunch and about an hour of class b/c I just had to lay down and let the meds work. Thankfully I already know everything htye wer going to teach so we're good. So here's what we've made SO far. Most are still works in progress but either way its fun!

Here is a stamped blank on the right with brass, Arte Metal and copper. ANd i'm not usually a big mixed metal person but I do like the flower and vineon the left. 


These little beauties are a faux patina on Arte Metal. They'll get a layer of sealer tonight and be ready for play (we're making earrings) tomorrow.


And these little earrings wer made this morning. Cute w/ some good basic techniques. Great to keep us occupied while we took turns discovering the DecoEtch and DecoEmboss plates. (SO COOL)


Speaking of the Etch and Emoboss plates:  Some more works in progress:


And here's a little teaser pic in preparation for tomorrows class: Image transfers in progress. :)

Did a couple hours of shopping after class. Met some of the lovely ladies from my class fro dinner at One Eleven Main (yes thats the name). So good. Now I"m fighting to keep my eyes open to type and minimize typos. lol

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Penal System: USA vs Norway

I keep having a train of thoughts that chase themselves round and round in my head on this subject. So I've decided to regurgitate them here in the hopes that they'd then leave me alone.

I have such mixed feelings about our current penal system. Because on the one hand we have one of the highest rates of recidivism in the world. We have the highest prison population on the entire planet. And there are very many stories about how a stay in our system seems to turn nonviolent, misdemeanor offenders into hardened, violent career criminals. Clearly something is amiss with the current way we deal with people.

And then I see prisons in places like Norway (for example: http://prasetio30.hubpages.com/hub/The-Most-Luxurious-Prison-In-The-World-Complete-With-Pictures) that are so beautiful they look like a high end dorm room on a rather nice school campus. And part of me rebels at this idea b/c I've been thoroughly indoctrinated that prison is PUNISHMENT and as such it should be unpleasant and you should do hard labor braking rocks all day and spend your nights in a bare 8x10 foot cell b/c you're being punished for doing something wrong.

And yet, Norway is clearly doing something RIGHT b/c their prison population is one of the smallest in the world (not really that impressive given they're pretty tiny to begin with) but far more impressive is that their rate of recidivism is a FRACTION of ours. Norway's recidivism rate is about 20%. Thats less than a third of our roughly 67% (http://pcr-consultants.com/2011/07/norway-v-american-criminal-justice-statistics/).

Now THAT impresses me. That says to me we should pay attention. B/c as far as I'm concerned the point of punishing people with prison is so they won't want to do it again.  But clearly we're failing at that b/c all we really have is a revolving door.

And so I wonder if there isn't something to this "soft" handling of prisoners. And yet I've still got this "but they're there to be punished b/c they did wrong. They have to pay".

Part of me thinks back to the stories that I've read in the Book of Mormon. When ever they had prisoners of any kind there they basically tried to teach them the error of their ways (rehabilitation?) and if they learned and promised to be good then they would let them go, but otherwise they would put them to death so that they wouldn't be a drain and a threat to the people.

Kind of an interesting thought there. Granted I don't think massively expanding capital punishment is necessarily the answer (although I'm all for it in the case of repeat sex offenders who show no signs of or desire for rehabilitation but thats just my opinion).

I don't know. I don't have the answer. I just have a really hard time with the concept of the maximum prison sentence no matter how heinous the crime is being 21 years w/ parole at 14. That just doesn't seem remotely just to me. And yet their statistics speak volumes all by themselves. Clearly they're doing something right by their people.

And so I am in conflict. These ideals that I was raised with vs this incredibly compassionate system that focuses so much on rehabilitation (don't get me wrong - I have NO problem w/ the rehabilitation focus. I LIKE that part and think we should work on it more here, I'm balking at the short time frame and the high end accomodations). But the overall standard of living there is through the roof. I'd be really, REALLY hard pressed to justify that kind of luxury living for criminals here when there are children starving in our streets ya know?

One of my girlfriends is living in Norway and was telling me about the crazy benefits you get from the government if you have kids. You get a few thousand dollars just for having a kid. More if you had a job before you had the kid. You automatically get a generously paid maternity leave, as does the father. And more than that the government basically pays you child support every month for the next 16 years!!

Thats just mind blowing.

My next question was "How much do you pay in taxes?" and the response was "About 30%". And I'm like "THATS IT??!!" We pay more than that here and don't get CRAP back in comparison.

This just boggles the mind. OH and the medical care? Completely paid for.

And as far as I'm aware Norway isn't currently in the middle of a fiscal crisis like the rest of the planet so I want to know what the heck their secret is. B/c right now they're makin the rest of us look like the redheaded step child and personally I'm a proud American and I don't much care for that sensation. lol

Friday, September 16, 2011

In Defense of "Despicable Me"

So the other day we were experiencing technical difficulties with the DVD player and the bonus features on "Despicable Me", which is Caleb's current favorite movie.

Yes mother of the year here lets her 2 year old watch tv even tho the American Academy of Pediatrics says not to. But if they'd like to come play with my kid so I can get the kitchen clean then they can knock themselves out doin that.

But I digress... SO, problem with movie, so of course I Google and I discover this Pro-Adoption website (http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/thumbs.php) which was seriously anti-"Despicable Me". They claimed that the movie depicts the orphans as dirty and shameful and bad and that the guy takes the kids, uses them and then sends them back when he's done.  They say anybody who cares about adoption should NOT see this movie.

........... I almost don't know where to start so we'll just dive right in and hope it comes out quasi-coherently.

1. If you don't think "Despicable Me"is laugh out loud funny you should remove the stick from your butt and try watching it again.

2. I LOVE adoption. I love it like I love cake. I'd need to use several other peoples thumbs in addition to my own in order to give the required numbers of thumbs ups that I'd need to START to express how much I think adoption is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing. No I am not adopted, nor is my son. However, my sister placed a baby for adoption when she was 16 and I've got several friends/relatives who have both adopted children and placed children. I donate my time and my jewelry to the Birth Mother Pamper Night of the local adoption support group, for several years now.

So I like to think I'm at least slightly more qualified than the average bear to venture an opinion here.

3. I personally did not think for one minute that this movie conveyed anything negative about being an orphan. Or rather that there was anything wrong with the kids themselves. You do get kind of an 'Oliver-esque' feel to their lives. A lot of the adults in the movie are depicted very negatively. Mrs. Hattie is just horrible. Gru's Mom is the reason he's a villain. Dr. Nephario is the reason Gru ever gives the girls back. And Gru himself starts off as so evil its just plain comedic.

But the catalyst for good in this movie, the thing that causes Gru's heart to change and for every last person in this movie (except maybe Miss Hattie) to become good and wonderful - is having those beautiful little girls in their lives. Through this adoption, which admittedly Gru only ever does so he can use them to further and evil scheme, he unwittingly invites into his life the people who are going to make it worth living.

These orphans are depicted as good and sweet and funny and real. And it shows how beautiful little spirits brought into your home can change your whole world for the better. I'd even give it bonus points for showing a positive adoption of older kids, instead of just babies.

Yes its done in a funny way. Yes, Gru does at one point give them up. But he gets them back and says that he so sorry and that it is the worst mistake he ever made. He loves these girls and they love him. He becomes the parent he wishes he had.

So before you go off half cocked and shun this movie thinking its bad, I ask you to watch it with an open mind. You can come back and tell me I'm wrong (I'll tell you to remove stick and try again, but you can do it).

I think its one of the best movies I've seen in years and I'm happy to let my kiddo watch it and I only let that kid watch PBS Kids for a couple hours in the mornings. And I don't buy very many movies and I bought this as soon as it came out. Its that good.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Bad Wives Club

I have half a mind to start a new website and call it "The Bad Wives Club" b/c I will state here and now that I am a "Bad Wife". And I want to support other women in relieving themselves of guilt over being "Bad Wives".
-----
B/c my Grandma is HORRIFIED that I do not get up when my husband does every morning and make him breakfast. 

My response: "He can't pour himself cereal? Are his fingers broken? Legs?" Cuz seriously that man doesn't eat breakfast half the time. When he does its a protein bar or cereal. AND its actually happened once or twice that I happened to be up and hungry when he was getting ready to go and I made this nice breakfast and yeah he either wasn't hungry or didn't have time to eat it as he was rushing out the door (and yes I threw it in a container so he could take it with him but still).
-----
My cousin is angst ridden now that she's a stay at home mom with two small children, that she doesn't "contribute" anymore so she doesn't want to ask her husband for help around the house even though she's overwhelmed b/c "he works all day".

My response: He gets to LEAVE work and come home. I NEVER LEAVE work. My work goes on 24-7-365. Granted right now that my hub is doing work full time PLUS grad school at night I'm cutting him some slack during the week. But that doesn't mean he does NOTHING. I mean if he helps me out a little then we can both relax, together. And quality time? Thats important.

Also do you know how much it would cost to replace what you do?? We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here ladies! Premo child care is NOT cheap. Hundreds to THOUSANDS of dollars a month and you still can't pay somebody to love your child like you love them. And you can hope that they're teaching your kids the values that you value and want them to have. And in addition to that add the costs of a laundry service, cleaning service (full time, live in), cooking service (3 meals a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for multiple people). Oh and a lot of the mom's I know also do SOME sort of cottage industry to try to bring in some extra cash so don't forget to add that too. Oh and a grocery service to do your shopping for you. Oh and for those ladies who do the couponing thing - add in the extra costs of non-coupon food to your budget. Oh and add an accountant/book keeper to keep track of the budget and pay the bills. A yard service. A car washing service. A taxi service for the kids. Tutors to help with homework.

I'm probably missing a few things in there. I know my sister would have to add a 1 on 1 personal attendant for my special needs niece...
---
My other cousin is all apologetic b/c her husband asks "Honey do I have any clean jeans?" and she's all "Ooops I didn't get to the laundry yet b/c I've been cleaning x, y and z".

My response: "Did you wash'em?" B/c hello, I don't wear your clothes (unless you happen to then hey whatever makes you happy). So if you notice that you're running out, ask me nicely and odds are I'll be happy to bump that up my priority list. Or better yet, go start a load yourself and odds are good I'll be happy to finish it.
----

But no I'm not opinionated or anything. Why do you ask?

Update: If you have the perfect husband who comes home after a long day of work, and mows the lawn, fixes the pipes, washes the car, and keeps right on working hard, then GOOD for you. I'm happy and delighted for you. However, I'm not talking about THAT guy. So please don't freak on me. You're clearly not a bad wife.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cat Puke

Okay so I've got a problem and its making me TWITCHY. And I think I'm a bad person for even thinking this so you can go ahead and tell me I'm a horrible person for typing it: But as much as I love my kitty cats and think that they're wonderful I'm almost ready to get rid of them b/c I can't stand having them puke EVERY WHERE all the damn time.

I need some help.

Maybe its just b/c I've never had a long haired cat before (I have one short hair, one medium hair and one long hair cats) or I've never had indoors only cats before but I am NOT exaggerating when I say that at least ONE of them pukes EVERY DAMN DAY.

They're on Science Diet Indoor Lite food. We've tried putting them on the Sensitive Stomach diet (expensive and didn't work). We've tried the Hairball formula (also expensive, didn't work and made the short haired cats acne on his chin flair up).

I've tried feeding them Vasaline (only the short hair will take it - and he likes it like crack but he still pukes).

The long haired cat REFUSES to be brushed (she WILL bite you) and I can't afford to have her shaved (think 100 bucks) and the other two are not fans of the brush either and either way I don't have time to sit and spend an hour twice a week grooming these stupid cats.

So please ANYBODY if you have an idea, solution, magic wand to make it all better, PLEASE I beg you tell me what to do.

Maybe I should try a completely different brand?? I'm just SOOO tired of cleaning the floor and washing my rugs and waking up in the morning and stepping in a puddle of cat puke on my way to the bathroom. Its just REALLY not okay.

Help. Please.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Master Bathroom Light Fixture

Hail the conquering Heeeroooo!! Nahhh nah nahhhh na na nahhhhhhhhh!!

*takes a bow*

Yes, its true. The dastardly electrical box may have won the first battle but by golly I won the WAR!! BWAHAHAHAH!  *ahem*

Neways so I forgot to take a true "Before" pic b/c thats just the way we like to fail at life around here. So here's the I-already-took-the-funky-glass-and-copper-shade-circa-1970-off and unscrewed all the little mini round clear bulbs shot I took when I realized my mistake:


So the adventure really began when I got the cover off this baby and got a look at my wall. Yeah my junction box cover (little round circle sticking out of the sheet rock that was oh so expertly cut RIGHT UP to the edge of the circle (hahahah NOT ANYMORE!!). Leaving visible ONLY the 2 HORIZONTAL screw spots (yes thats a technical term. Shut up).

Wellllll, this was a problem, b/c my new fixture has VERTICAL screw spots (you can't see what I'm talking about in pictures b/c I didn't take any during b/c it was night, I was tired, and I *thought* it was gonna be a generic boring install job and theres LOTS of those on the web *dies laughing*. Which is why it was a special growth experience. ) SOOOO I had to figure out how to get the circle to change orientation to the vertical.

So we took a time out. Failed at google (takes talent I tell you). Called Daddy (mercifully he was still awake). Figured out what we were doing after staring at a bunch of pictures of junction boxes and covers on home depot (okay so odds are my screws are going to be.... there annnnnnd THERE).

Then we shoved our fingers in the hole in the wall (always kinda nerve wracking if you ask me) and felt around until I discovered I had one screw in the lower left corner and one in the upper right. So then I used my hammer and flat head screw driver to chisel through the sheet rock (definitely the intended purpose of the tool) to find said screws. And I tried very hard not to take any more sheet rock than I absolutely had to b/c I was greatly afeared that my new, much smaller base plate wouldn't cover the holes I was making. But I told myself some minor sheet rock repair (which I totally know how to do) was nothing to be able to install my gorgeous $4 (no thats not a typo I really paid 4 bucks for this fixture at a local thrift store) light fixture.

AND it worked. I found my screws, undid them, chiseled out some more wall to buy myself room to turn the plate to the vertical, screwed it down in its new position and 5 whole minutes later my wiring was all done and my new fixture was attached to the wall!!

So after we stopped w/ the victory dance and the yells of "Whose Da WOMAN??! I'm DA WOMAN!!" I took a few more pictures. Please excuse the horribly yellow cast of the walls. My sister was demanding pics and didn't want to wait for day light. And I swear that the fixture is level even tho it doesn't look like it in this pic. Thats just my mad camera skills winning at life for ya. And I know my middle bulb is different than the outer 2. That will be fixed when I hit up Wallymart tomorrow.

And with out further disclaimers: Here we go!


Yes I look EXTREMELY attractive in these pictures. Please remember this was late at night, w/ an experimental (and FAILED) hair do thrown back in a pony tail. Also the fixture will look even better once the wall gets painted. The master bath is on the renovation list but the wrecking crew hasn't made it there yet. This was the first of many baby steps.

Monday, September 5, 2011

These are both completely random

 and in honor of a conversation I had with a w/ a British friend of mine last week:


Annnnd this little gem:


M'kay you may now continue w/ your regularly scheduled life. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lookie What I Made!!

So I took this AMAZING class on Saturday with Deb Sengupta of Keepsake Blossoms. I learned how to make flowers out of this amazing new clay called Decoclay (I *think* that was it). Its super light weight, has a velvety soft finish when dry and is surprisingly strong/sturdy and it air dries! That last one REALLY rocks living here in Phoenix where turning on an oven in summer is just ... masochistic. But I think I'm in love with these flowers. Seriously - if I had known about them 4 years ago when I got married I would SO have had my bouquet done with these. They look THAT good. Also I now refuse to buy fake flowers for decoration purposes. When you see these pics you'll understand (please keep in mind this was our VERY first time, so we will get better). Also please forgive me for not posting any of the flowers my friends made. At like 11 images I thought it was getting a little long...













Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In a funk

So I'm kinda in a funk. On the upside, I managed to get the kitchen completely clean today (before mucking it up again making dinner), I made REAL food for dinner (not quickie sandwiches or leftovers or anything) AND I'm thrilled to announce I have now lost 7 lbs doing Weight Watchers (rock on!), which gets me half way to my first goal of losing 5% of my body weight (if you figure out that math, don't tell me).

And yet, I'm in a funk. It was super, duper nice to have Adam home from work at 4 pm today. I think I'm really gonna like that part of his new schedule. But its going to suck to have him gone ALL DAY until about 9 pm tomorrow AND the next day.

On the upside I've got a play date over at Kathleen's house tomorrow. I'm going to take pictures of all the stuff I made last week to post for sale on the new site (more on that later), which does mean more photo editing *gag* but I can get my tools and wire which means I can start working my way through the Intermediate Series of wire jewelry design. Which I am SUPER excited to get started on. I'm not 100% in love w/ all of the designs in the series but I do think its uber important to know all of the techniques and to be proficient in them. And who knows, maybe they look prettier in person? It could happen.

I guess my funk is mostly the blahs b/c my sleep has gone to crap. I really miss sleeping well every night and waking up feeling refreshed in the morning. Its a lot harder to motivate myself to do stuff when I just wanna go "BLAHHHHH" and curl up and take a nap.

Neways, I guess I don't have much of a point to this post (shut up! I do occasionally have a point). So I'll just stop rambling now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ugh

We're thinking about trying for baby #2 sometime soon. And so in preparation for that I've had to give up all my lovely sleep meds.

This SUCKS and I mean BLOWS. I miss not feeling like a zombie all the time. I miss being able to go to bed at the same time every night and just crash out in 30 mins or less and then wake up in the morning, BEFORE my alarm goes off feeling refreshed.

I sincerely hope we get pregnant like the first try just so we can get this dog and pony show OVER WITH and I can return to feeling like a human being. It was SO frickin cool to feel that good and be that productive. I really miss it.

I'm just scared that its going to be like last time I got pregnant where it takes 6+ months just to get pregnant and then 10 months after that to actually have the kid.

Hi, I'm Ami and I believe in better living thru chemistry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dining Room Part Deux: Design Dilemma

Okay so heres my big problem:

We have a 3 bed, 2 bath house with one large living room and one large kitchen/dining room. Right now the arrangement goes largest/master bed/bath is mine and Adam's (obviously), middle bedroom (smallest) is the nursery,  last bedroom (middle sized) is the "office". I use the word office loosely. B/c "office" in my mind implies function. Where as that room is more like the pit-o-filth. And the pit-o-filth has a love/hate relationship w/ my dining room b/c they sort of feed each other. B/c the PoF no longer functions at all as a work space so when I need to craft/work/sort papers/etc I do it in the dining room (occasionally the living room, but the stuff gets stashed for the day out of reach of the kiddo in the dining room).

And many a time I have deep cleaned the dining room only to have it get funked right back up again in record time and I blame the PoF for the back log b/c things can't get processed through and filed/shredded/put away like they should. In my ideal, perfect world, there should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place and right now that JUST AIN'T HAPPENIN'.

So I'm having the realization that in order to tackle one I HAVE TO tackle the other.

And it seems reasonably easy. I should have PLENTY of room in my office to craft, store books (5 BIG bookcases FULL of books mind you) AND deal w/ my paperwork mess.

Here's the little monkey wrench tho: We want to have another baby in the next year or so. Theoretically we could put two kids in the same room. BUT right now the nursery is our SMALLEST bedroom and you'd better believe Mr Caleb and all his crap sucks up every last inch of it. So at the very least we'd need to try to cram our already packed to the gills office into the SMALLER of the two rooms, in order to have enough room for a bed, crib, 2 dressers, changing table, etc into one kids room.

The other problem with trying to put 2 kids in 1 room is that the baby will undoubtedly wake Caleb. That means crabby Caleb b/c he's been woken up repeatedly by his crying sibliling. NO thank you.

ALSO Caleb will turn 3 next year, that means he's going to start playing w/ all the toys that are for 3+ (aka contain choking hazards) so he's going to need his own play area where he can keep all his toys safely away from his younger sibiling.

So we need that 2nd bedroom. That means I've got to clear out my stuffed to the gills office and COMBINE it with my dining room (b/c theres no way in heck I can put all that stuff in my living room. Its FULL). My single scariest thought right this second is: where the HECK am I gonna fit my (absolutely essential) filing cabinet!

GAH.

The first thought I'm having is that the bookcases are going to get doors and get moved into the dining room. Like do a whole wall with them maybe? But ours are the Billy bookcases from Ikea in the brown black. Yeah I didn't pick that color. Adam had 2 of them when we got married so when we bought more we just bought them to match. So a whole wall of DARK book cases sounds very oppressive. I mean I might be able to pull it off like we did in the office by sticking w/ this pretty robin's egg blue on the walls and white trim but I'm not sure I want it in my dining room... I could theoretically paint them all white and just buy white doors for them but MAN that would be a pain in the TUSH.

Maybe I could replace my filing cabinet w/ one of those Effektiv systems from Ikea... Of course that would mean parting w/ my perfectly good, only a couple years old filing cabinet... *sigh*

I dunno. But I think this TOTAL revamp is going to be the ultimate answer. *SUCK*

Oh and if the office becomes Caleb's bedroom I just have one question: where the heck are the litter boxes gonna go???

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Collage Update

I've got ALL but one of the frames hanging (have to make a trip to Ikea to score that last one). Now I just need to finish picking photos to go IN the frames (amazing how THAT works).  Isn't it pretty?!


Glass Fusing

So I took another amazing class at Art Unraveled last week. It was taught by an awesome artist named Peggy and I learned how to cut glass, how to layer it, do inclusions, dichroic glass, how to set up and run a kiln and how to fire the pieces we made. It was super duper cool. We only had time to fire one piece per person during class and the rest our teacher took the rest home with her to fire in her kilns and then mail them back to us. I haven't gotten my piece mailed back yet BUT I did finally get around to photographing the one piece I took home.

I also learned that photographing glass is harder that photographing silver (which is hard) and its also VERY helpful if you clean the finger print smudges off the glass BEFORE attempting to take a picture. You know you appreciate these little pearls of wisdom.


I'm definitely not in love with the color combo here but the glass changes colors some as you cook it so it was a learning experiment.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Living Room Photo Collage: Take 1

Okay so I first saw/fell in love with framed photo collages at my friend Jayne's house. The woman has a gift I tell you. I love her house. Every time I go over to her house I promise myself that the next time I will remember to bring my camera so that I can take photos of the perfection that is her house so I can study them and possibly glean there from the wisdom of the decorating sages. Yes I love her house that much. 

Alas I digress, so I wanted one of these lovely, amazing, beautiful photo collages for my very own! And so here is the giant piece of bare wall:


Well, I've been buying up frames for the last week or so to go on this wall (along with a couple other things I already had). So since the hub and the kiddo both went to bed relatively early tonight I decided to take advantage of the floor space and lay out all the frames and trace and cut them out on to news paper. The first place I ever saw this method for arranging frames with newspaper mock ups was on http://www.younghouselove.com/2011/03/the-hallway-full-monty/ . I've since seen it several places but this was the first. :) 


Annnnnd  here's our first attempt. Tip: Use masking tape not painters tape for this. Its cheaper and it sticks a heckuva lot better to the news print. Lesson learned.


I'm cool (mostly) w/ the left side of things, but I'm not loving the little center frame on the far right side. I think what I REALLY want there is one of these. I'll hang it horizontally to get me some more variation in the line and visual interest. I think I even know which series of photos I'm going to want to put there. :) I can't go any lower down the wall b/c the cute but evil child would undoubtedly diss the frames. But I think I like whats going on here so far. I'll stare at it for another day or so to make super duper sure and then start putting holes in my freshly painted wall. *shudder*  But I think it will be real purdy!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

1 Hour White Bread

So I had this glorious amazing life changing class on how to make white bread, from start to finish in 1 hour. And its GOOD. Like REALLY good. So since I mentioned this on FB I've been getting requests for the recipe. So here it is folks. The recipe that breaks all the rules and yet it works out SO well.

One Hour White Bread

10 1/2 cups white bread flour (do NOT use all purpose flour)
1/2 cup sugar (you can swap for honey, agave etc but you should probably cut it back to 1/3 c)
1 TBSP salt
3 heaping TBSP SAF Instant Yeast (You WANT this brand. Keeps forever in the freezer)
3 quarter sized drops of liquid Soy Lecithin (this is NOT a fine science you can go up to a silver dollar size and still be good but don't try to measure cuz its heck to get off measuring spoons its THAT sticky. Its your replacement for eggs and oil. Keeps fresh forever.)
4 - 4 1/2 c HOT tap water (don't wimp out on me here you need it HOT to wake up that instant yeast and dissolve the lecithin, not boiling but the hottest water you can get out of your tap)

Mix the dry ingredients (thats right throw the yeast in there dry straight outta the freezer and mix it w/ that flour). Then add your lecithin directly to the flour, pour 4 cups of hot water in there and start mixing. Keep your mixer on LOW b/c this stuff is thick and sticky and you don't wanna kill your mixer. You want the dough to be SUPER sticky. I mean REALLY sticky. So keep adding water a tablespoon at a time until you get it good and sticky, and once you do DO NOT add more flour not even to knead it or prep it). Then mix it for 5 more minutes or knead it for 10 minutes.

So how do I handle it with out flour? The answer my friends is PAM (or other non stick cooking spray). Just spray the counter, rub your hands in it and voilĂ . Once you've got it all mixed pull it out on your nice sprayed down counter, give it a knead or two and form it into a nice round ball. Grab your knife and cut it into 4 big pieces.

Each one of those pieces can be made into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf of bread, you can make boules, baguettes, cinnamon rolls, rolls whatever. Let it raise for 25 mins then bake at 350 for 25 minutes. You know its done for sure when the bottom is nice and golden brown. If you want the bread to be nice and crusty then spritz the top of the loaf with water and put a bowl of water in the oven with the bread while its baking. The steam will make it nice and crusty. Otherwise I endorse brushing the top with butter or herbs or an egg wash, whatever makes you happy.

Enjoy it!

And I'm SUPER excited b/c I take a class on how to do wheat bread with these folks in 2 weeks!! :-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Little Gardens of Glass

aka - My Torch Enameling Class I took Weds. I'll post more about it later but here are the pictures. Please note I'm not happy w/ my wood block. She wasn't exactly descriptive about the size in the class supply list so I just took a stab at it. I'll be changing the base/arrangement and you'll get final pics at some point in the future. 




Here are some close ups. You can definitely see where I need more practice but all in all not a bad first attempt. I did the leaves last and you can tell by the last couple I was really starting to get the hang of things. Also I'm in love with the blues. I want to do a whole little bunch of nothing but blue flowers. I resisted the urge this time so I could experiment with more colors.








 See these were the last 2 leaves I did and I definitely thing they turned out the best of everything.





Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why I love making Jewelry

I often get asked what exactly it is that I love so much about making jewelry. And the answer is both hard and simple.

Partially I love it because I'm good at it. My whole life I've been drawn to creative pursuits. I've tried drawing, painting, calligraphy, clay, sewing, flower arranging, knitting, crochet, singing, dancing, piano, hand bells, writing, acting, all manner of crafts, etc etc etc. And some things I was good at, some things I wasn't so good at. Somethings I was good at if I worked VERY hard at it. But nothing was completely natural. And most things I was only good at parroting other peoples good ideas. I can play a beautiful piece of music well on the piano but I could never create my own no matter how hard I tried. I've seen people who can't even read music, sit down to a piano and the notes seem to just flow from their hands into beautiful melodies.

And it frustrated me. I was decent at most of the visual arts, but nothing ever came close to the picture in my head. And that too was frustrating. I can sing moderately well but I've never had the voice to do the music justice. And I am rarely capable of writing lyrics that don't suck.

It was frustrating. I had the soul of an artist with none of the talent.

I love jewelry. I've always loved jewelry. I have been all about the sparkly objects for as long as I can remember. Even as a little girl I was all about my bling.

And then I was on my mission in 2003 and went with an investigator to an activity where I was taught how to make a bracelet. It was just a simple stringing job but it was beautiful and so much fun. And it was an absolute revelation. After that I had a hard time buying jewelry from the stores b/c I'd look at how it was made and go "I can SO make that!".

So when the opportunity presented itself to join Kathleen and Lynn and I finally got to sit and just CREATE, the experience was life changing. For the first time ever my art finally matched the picture in my head. In fact it was often even better than the image in my mind. The delight was tangible. I could so do this and it was EASY. It just flows.

I can make beautiful, wearable art and I relish every minute of it.

And I've always been a kudos person. I will work like a squirrel after the last nut on earth to get kudos from other people. Jewelry gets me LOTS of kudos which is just the icing on the cake for me. I've had so many problems with low self esteem in my life that having something that gives me amazing levels of positives is just... wonderful.

Even if I can't make jewelry as a profession I will make jewelry for the rest of my life b/c I love it. Its a passion, obsession, love affair and a real joy.

On one other level, I like jewelry b/c I don't get bored with it. There are always new techniques to learn. I can geek out learning all the properties and applications of a new material we're using. I learn the compositions of the metals, their different qualities and why they are alloyed the way they are. I get a new idea and make version 1. Usually while I"m making version 1, I get ideas for alternate versions and I make 3 or 4 more (or more) until I've tried every possible combination and I get bored. Then I move on to my next design. And the possibilities are endless. I get bored VERY easily which is why this is such a big deal for me.

So I'm good at it, I dont' have to fight for it, it just flows naturally and gets my creative mojo out. I get lots of kudos. And I can't get bored. What is NOT to love about this?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I lack FOCUS

I swear I have the attention span of a caffeinated squirrel. Maybe even a caffeinated squirrel that has just discovered speed.

I just have SO many things that I want to do and get done (many of them fun, some not so much) that its really hard to prioritize and not just go w/ what I feel like doing at the moment - although that is what winds up happening a lot of the time and can be good b/c I tend to be VERY productive when I do what I WANT to do.

So just to give you an idea of the things I want to do (with some notes on why I can or cannot proceed):

1. I want to paint the hallway (but I need to unbury my dining room post living room painting).

2. I want to paint the dining room (need paint. already spent paint money on hall/living room paint). I also want to refinish all the cabinets in my entire house but I lack the tools (and the money to buy the tools and materials) to do so.

3. I want to finish redecorating the living room. (budget issues there too, also I need to move a few thousand photos over to the other computer b/c my poor lappy is getting old and starting to wheeze. And I'm kinda on a photo editing strike atm).

4. I NEED to finish editing photos, take MORE photos and edit those and get all of them up on Etsy. But I'm REALLY tired of photo editing right now. I've done several hundred and don't want to do more for a little bit.

5. I want to open a new Etsy store selling handmade components. I think this will be a lot of fun to make and will sell well (better than finished pieces). However, this requires sitting down and making more stuff, photographing said stuff, and MORE of the dread photo editting. Hence the delay.

6. I wanna cross stitch. I just found these AMAZING patterns for Tiffany windows that somebody turned into cross stitch patterns and I'm in love. I WANT to do these. I haven't done any cross stitch in a couple years and I've got the itch. I think I want to do a series of them and hang them like on the wall in the dining room or something. But I need something else to suck up time like a hole in my head. BUT maybe I can do it during church to keep my hands busy instead of my usual knit/crochet project? I dunno. But w/ like 50+ colors used in the patterns it ain't gonna be cheap thats for sure. I'll have to think on this one a little more I guess.

7. I want a new knitting project. My only concern is the new pattern I wanna do is a bit more complicated and uses nicer (more expensive) yarn so I'd have to learn how to read upper level knitting patterns (I know crochet it can't be THAT much harder) and afford a chunk of expensive yarn...

8. I wanna spend some time making more pretty jewelry things. Firstly for the therapeutic value, for the creative outlet and stress relief and for the obvious monetary reasons. Downside is the creation of more photos that requires more photo editing.... (are you noting a theme here?)

9. I want to get myself published in a jewelry magazine. This requires hunting down submission requirements (mostly done), coming up w/ submission ideas (some mags want specific things) and creating the submission documents and photos for those need edited etc. Also you need new stuff for like EACH magazine. Can't submit the same thing to every one. And it needs to all be original work (and depending on the type thats easy for my multimedia stuff and not so easy for my wire work stuff b/c I so far have stuck to patterns from other people) so that means I need to sit and get really creative. Its involved. And some have dead lines any time and some only at certain times of the year... We'll see. Either way I need to do more #8 and #4 in order to do this one. Heck I'd even like to write a book but thats like at LEAST 25 magazine submissions plus hunting down a publisher so lets start small shall we?

10. We need cash flow (part of the idea behind #5) so I either need to get #5 off the ground like YESTERDAY or I was thinking of doing some free lance work online. I'll do anything, minor graphics work, databases, heck I'd even do data entry at this point. I just need money and I'd really prefer to not check groceries again ya know? But the free lance thing requires business cards, and a website and portfolio and a LinkedIn profile etc. And thats a whole bunch of brain work I've not been able to wrap my head around b/c my head wants to paint and redecorate and cross stitch.

11. I need to conquer the office. I think I'm at that point. I think the big garbage bag is going to come out and I will show no mercy. But its just so icky in there and will require sorting paper. A job I loath more than photo editing right now. But it has to happen. And sooner rather than later would be good b/c then I can use that space to make big jewelry messes! See there are perks!

12. I wanna quilt. But I really need one of those big cutting mats and thats another 50 bucks I don't have.

13. I want to redecorate my bed room and bathroom. Once again theres the whole money issue.

14. I really wanna DIY some art for the living room. I've discovered Pinterest which is the awesome sauce and I have a bunch of ideas from Etsy and heck right now I'd love to go buy a $600 cutter that is like the Cricut except you can design anything you want on the computer and it can cut it out for you and that would just rock my socks but I need to take on another money/time sucking enterprise like I need a hole in my head.

15. Also I really want to start doing more w/ the kiddo - go to the library, go swimming, meet w/ the play group from church. And I want to start going to the gym regularly (they have an awesome kids area) but the issue I'm having atm is that since I stopped my sleep meds, my sleep deprivation level has been accumulating and is starting to reach zombification levels which is so annoying and means my mojo in the mornings is ZILCH. Which sucks and means I can't make times for things that are non critical. Its dissing my chi.

So yeah, these are just a few things swimming around my head. It would help if I was a person of limited interest. Then maybe I could focus and really achieve in any ONE area. But right now I've got my fingers in so many pies its hard to do anything...