Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beach Bag And Electronics Bag From His Military Uniform

I am still undecided about how permanently earn money while staying at home full time with my homeschooled children but for now I have an interesting project lined up.

I used patriotic fabric and an old army uniform to create a great beach bag, just in time for the fourth of July. I have been carrying it around on our day trips. It is wonderful and holds everything, and more for a day out and about with two active boys. It is a bit floppier than I wanted but still great. I will make my next bag a bit firmer.

BDU bag.

I got the idea from Wow! What a woman. She makes amazing bags, called Hero Bags and quilts for families whose husbands have been killed or seriously wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. She does not charge for these beautiful bags. She also sells various styles of bags.

I also created a smaller bag to hold the chargers and accessories to their Nintendo DS games. That was the most brilliant idea I have had in a long time. I do not know why I did not think of it sooner. The “battle of the cords” was always a pain. Now I drop everything in and have no worries. As an added bonus, I no longer have to be careful to keep the toys out of sight. Anyone looking in the car window will not know that the bag contains electronics.

Inside view.

I have a shirt pocket and plain fabric from the –ex’s old army uniform and more patriotic fabric. It is ready to be sewn together for a smaller, everyday bag. I hope to put that together this week.

My son will be sending me his wore out Navy uniform soon. I will create a neat bag (or two) for myself and a few samples for his friend’s girlfriends and mothers as advertisement. Everyone wants to support their soldier/sailor, right?

Also, my girlfriend has commissioned me to make two custom purses for her daughter and a custom scrap booking bag for herself. She picked out the fabrics and the basic design of each bag. I will be working on that this week also.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rubbing Alcohal Removes Ink From Fabric And Other Items

Today I learned that rubbing alcohol is an excellent solvent when removing ball point pen ink from carpet, sofa fabric and various other items including skin.

A pen broke in our pen canister yesterday. I discovered this when I pulled out a pen and promptly discovered blobs of sticky blue ink on my hands. I immediately threw that broken pen away, but foolishly left the rest of the pens in the canister, along with the inky mess in the bottom.

Later that day I discovered a big blob of ink on the cream colored carpet in the master bedroom and the following day I found several smudges of ink on my vintage sofa. I am the only one that likes this sofa, but I am sentimental about it. It is not ugly; it is just out of style…well, other people’s style because it is exactly my style. I fell in love with it when I saw it and when I learned that is was for sale for only $25 I had to have it. It is really a love seat, but my living space is very small so it is perfect. It is covered with varying shades of a textured, gold floral print. Some parts have a satiny sort of look and others have a rougher look. It reminds me of my beloved grandmother’s blue and green furniture before she upgraded to an ugly tan and brown plaid sleeper sofa. As you can imagine I was very upset to see my lovely sofa damaged.

I immediately Googled “how to remove ball point pen ink” and discovered many ways of cleaning this mess. Most people recommended spraying the area with aerosol hair spray and blotting the area, repeating until it is clean. I had hair spray but not aerosol kind. I decided to try rubbing alcohol.

I filled the cap with alcohol then poured a bit on the stain then blotted it with a paper towel being careful to use a clean area of towel every with every dab so I would not re-stain the carpet. I continued to wet the area with more alcohol when it became dry or the towel appeared clean when I dabbed it. When I finished, I fluffed the carpet a bit and I could not tell that there had ever been ink there.

Since that worked so well I thought I would attempt to clean my beloved sofa. Thankfully it came completely clean too! And, it did not discolor my sofa or carpet.
My next job was to clean the canister that started this whole mess. I put the pens on a paper towel and poured a bit of rubbing alcohol in the bottom of the canister and swished it around a bit. The canister is a vintage Kodak D-78 Developer can left over from my fathers dark room when I was a child so I did not want to throw it away. As the alcohol continued to do its work dissolving the ink in the canister I cleaned the pens and markers.

Several pens had a lot of ink gooped on the bottom so I soaked those in the alcohol in the canister while I cleaned the other, less inky pens. I moistened a paper towel with rubbing alcohol and rubbed each one until they were all clean. I used about half a roll of paper towel and half a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

After cleaning the pens I carefully ( this is a vintage can so the inner edges are sharp!) wiped the inside of the can. I did not have the patience to get every speck of ink off the bottom. I put a sponge in the bottom of the can to prevent the damage of future pens so I am not worried about more mess right now.

I did manage to stain my fingers and hands, but scrubbing them with alcohol and a clean paper towel removed all the ink except a tiny bit around the edges of my fingernails. I will attempt to remove that ink with q-tips and alcohol tonight.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer Fun and Fathers Day

My boys and I have been enjoying this summer weather so much that I am having difficulty sitting down at my desk to write before I am too tired to keep my eyes open. The weather is beautiful. Last week we finished putting in our garden. I got badly sunburned that day, but it was great fun anyhow. We have attended barbeques and bonfires. We have taken road trips and enjoyed lots of ice cream.

Last night we stayed up late snuggling and watching movies. My girlfriend came around 11pm and stayed until 2am. I cut out the fabric for my next bag while we chatted. This morning we struggled to get out of bed to go to breakfast with my dad, but had fun anyhow. After breakfast we all went shopping and found some great, cheap books at the Borders Outlet. Then we dropped my dad back off at home and visited a long lost friend. While my friend and I lounged around chatting, the boys washed our cars and sprayed on another with the hose. On the way home we had ice cream desserts and french fries for dinner.

Tomorrow we will go to church with my father then head to my brothers for Fathers Day lunch with his family. It will be another fun day.

Give your fathers hugs and kisses and tell them that you love and appreciate them. Life is precious, you may not get another day.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Growth Hormone Treatments are Working!

We went to the pediatric endocrinologist today. He is wonderful! We love him and his staff!!! (Dr. Jabbar and Amanda – we love you!) My twelve year old has “low growth hormones” also known as “idiopathic short stature”. To further complicate the issue he has advanced bone age, which means he has less time to grow than if he had a “less mature” bone age. He had been seeing the pediatric endocrinologists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Michigan for several years. They monitored his growth and checked his GH levels regularly for six months then administered a “growth hormone stimulation test”. His growth hormone levels were consistently very low. The stimulation test showed that his body was capable of producing growth hormone in the high range of low levels when stimulated so they recommended continued monitoring of blood and growth. Since his body was capable of producing the hormones (even though it was not doing it on its own) the insurance companies would give a hassle to cover the treatment and we could not afford it (at $30,000 a year minimum), so we waited.

After several years of minimal growth he had another growth hormone stimulation test. This time it showed that his body produced amazingly low amounts of growth hormone when stimulated. This was wonderful news for us. It meant that he was finally able to get the treatment he needed. We were not happy to learn that his body was not functioning properly, but we already knew that. It was also good timing because his self esteem was beginning to be affected. People generally thought he was two to three years younger than he really was. Thank GOD he is home schooled and was able to avoid daily teasing.

He has been receiving daily injections of Genotropin, a growth hormone for over a year. He has grown 4.5 inches in the past twelve months! It is a miracle
The body produces growth hormone while we sleep, so to more closely mimic how our bodies work, we give the hormone right before bed. Actually, my son prefers that I give it to him after he has fallen asleep! Occasionally he will wake up, go to the bathroom and come back a bit groggy but ready for the injection. He says that having it after he has fallen asleep alleviates any pre-injection anxiety.

Around nine months old he began to fall out of the “average” height range on the growth charts and has been way below ever since. The doctors estimated that he would be lucky to reach 5’3” without treatment. The last time we visited the pediatric endocrinologist he had finally entered the “average” height range for his age. This time he is about in the middle of the average height! It is absolutely amazing to see the spikes on his growth chart after seeing it barely moving for most of his life.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Forget-Me-Nots Are Going To Seed

The Forget-Me-Nots are going through another transformation! I was so surprised to see tall, lavender, powdery stalks waving proudly above the green foliage and little blue flowers below. It looks as if they are going to seed. I wonder if I should have dead-headed the blooms like I do the roses. I look forward to seeing what this amazing plant does next. I wonder if they will explode and reseed the garden to produce an even more extravagant display next year.

That makes me think of the deep, dark-red Sweet Williams at the big house. They were a gift from a very talented gardener friend. I knew they were annuals so I was pleasantly surprised when they came back the following year. I watched them closely and learned that after the flowers faded a seed pod grew and eventually “popped” and flew seeds everywhere. It was amazing! They were my favorite of all my flowers in my garden. Sadly, I was not able to take them with me when I moved and have not been able to find that color again. Maybe someday that velvety variety will cross my path so we can share our summers once again.

The garden in the big house was a wonderful experience. My friends donated many annuals and perennials to my garden the first year. Every year after that my friends and acquaintances exchanged seeds, cuttings, roots and transplants every year. I even had people I didn’t know pull into my driveway and ask for a cutting! It was difficult to leave that garden. Every flower and plant reminded me of a friendship or a get-together. It was like a floral scrapbook! I hope to have the same sort of experience when I finally get settled into my home in the country.

Super Easy Layered Nacho Dip

This has become one of our Sunday afternoon favorites. It is yummy, quick and super-easy. Oh, I would like to add that this recipe is adapted from Tupperware TupperWave Stack cooker recipe. This meal provides dinner for two days for our tiny family of three.

1 lb. ground chuck
I can refried beans
1 jar salsa
4 oz. shredded cheese
Nacho style chips
Sour cream, black olives and other desired toppings

Brown ground chuck and drain.
Spread refried beans in the bottom of a round casserole dish. Heat for two minutes in the microwave.
Put ground chuck evenly on beans.
Pour ½ jar salsa evenly on ground chuck.
Put shredded cheese evenly on salsa.
Heat in microwave 1 minute at a time until the cheese is melted.
Let sit for 5 minutes.
Serve with nacho style chips, sour cream and other yummy toppings.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Boyz Best Banana Splitz

On really hot days when we don’t feel like eating a heavy meal we will often enjoy fresh fruit, cheese and crackers and ice cream desserts. The boyz love this, especially when served in those long, skinny banana split dishes

Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream
Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
Hershey’s Caramel Topping
Banana – 1 each
Strawberries – 3 large each
Sugar – 1-2 teaspoons each
Maraschino cherries
Banana split dishes

Rinse strawberries and cut into small-ish pieces. Sprinkle sugar over strawberries then smash with a fork to release the juices and make the pieces smaller.
Warm the caramel in the microwave 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until warm and easy to pour.
Peel and cut the banana lengthwise and place in banana split dish.
Place one scoop of each flavor ice cream in a row over the banana.
Drizzle chocolate syrup over the chocolate ice cream.
Spoon strawberries and juices over the strawberry ice cream.
Drizzle caramel over the vanilla ice cream.
Squirt a mound of Reddi-Wip over each scoop of ice cream and place a maraschino cherry on each mound of cream.
Serve immediately.

Usually I encourage purchasing off brands or discounted items…but PLEASE do not skimp on ice cream or toppings. If you are going to pamper yourself with a treat…then really pamper yourself! I recommend Breyers Ice Cream and Edy’s Grand Ice Cream. Kroger has Private Selection which is good for the price.

You can prepare this in a regular bowl but the kids love it when the ice cream stays nestled on top of the banana slices.

My Favorite Hot Fudge Sundae

On really hot days when we don’t feel like eating a heavy meal we will often enjoy fresh fruit, cheese and crackers and ice cream desserts. This is my favorite hot fudge sundae recipe. It is just not the same without Hershey’s Special Recipe Hot Fudge.

Vanilla ice cream
Hershey’s Special Recipe Hot Fudge
Maraschino cherry
Sundae dishes or 1 cup glass measuring cups

Heat the fudge in the microwave 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until warm and easy to pour.
Place 1 – 2 scoops of ice cream in the dish.
Pour hot fudge over ice cream.
Spray Reddi-Wip on fudge and ice cream.
Top with a maraschino cherry.
Serve immediately.

Usually I encourage purchasing off brands or discounted items…but PLEASE do not skimp on ice cream or toppings. If you are going to pamper yourself with a treat…then really pamper yourself! I recommend Breyers Ice Cream and Edy’s Grand Ice Cream. Kroger has Private Selection which is good for the price.

You can prepare this in a regular bowl but I find the fudge melts just the way I like it when snuggled against the ice cream in a tall, thin container.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Easy Baked Ravioli and Toasted Garlic Bread

We had baked ravioli this Sunday afternoon. This is one of my favorites. It tastes like I spent all day in the kitchen but takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. I recomend serving this with a side salad or another steamed vegetable and homemade garlic toast. We ate just the ravioli and were happy. There was only three of us so we have plenty of leftovers for lunch or supper tomorrow.

I purchased everything for the ravioli and garlic toast from Aldis. I prefer to get my vegetables from a roadside stand or Walmart. I will add a breakdown of what this meal cost another day.

Baked Ravioli

32 0z bag cheese stuffed ravioli
26 oz. jarspaghetti sauce
½ jar (12 oz.) warm water
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375
Dump ravioli in casserole dish.
Pour sauce and water over ravioli.
Arrange ravioli so most are covered with the sauce.
Bake uncovered in oven for 1 hour till hot and bubbly all the way through.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
Bake another 10 – 15 minutes till cheese is bubbly and turning brown in spots.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Toasted Garlic Bread

This is a great way to use up your day old bread.

Preheat oven 450 or broil
Sliced bread
Garlic salt
Garlic preserved in olive oil in the jar, and salt

Thinly spread butter on both sides of bread
sprinkle garlic salt lightly on bread
spread small amount of garlic from jar with spoon and sprinkle with salt
bake at 450 till golden and crispy turning half way through
broil till golden and toasty
if you do not want to turn on your oven you can brown these in a pan just like grilled cheese

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Is Your Family Important? Do You Show It? What Are You Doing About It?

“Who are the most important people in your life?”

“If it’s your family…are you showing it?”

“If not…what are you going to do about it?”

These questions are the essence of a wonderful book called “What Kids Wish Parents Knew About Parenting” by Joe White, recommended by Gary Smalley and Josh McDowell. This is an in-your-face book. It does not tiptoe around. It encourages parents to go straight to our children for an evaluation (included in the book) of our parenting skills and to do something drastic about it. He says “…I urge you to strip away – with dynamite, if necessary - everything in your life that doesn’t look like family gold.”

That comment stuck with me. Everything I begin to do I ask myself "Is this family gold?". Everything I touch or look at in my home I have to wonder if it is family gold. I am determined to get rid of all things that are not.

I read hundreds of parenting books and listened daily to family and parenting advice programs while my 18 and 19 year olds were young. I wanted to be the best parent I could be. My full time job was being a quality mother. Somewhere between dealing with a mentally ill and abusive husband and moving around and my own battle with depression, I forgot how to be a quality mother.

While watching Super Nanny, my boys told me that we should call her. Curiously, I asked why. They said she could help us. They wanted her to help get their father back into our family. I firmly said that was not possible. But, they also wanted me to devote more time to them, to make them feel important to me. Ouch! I decided I need to make some changes in my behavior but I was not sure where to start.

The next week while watching Super Nanny they suggested that we call her again. I asked them to be more specific as to what they hope she would do for us. They said that they want me to spend more time with them, play games and do projects with them and other things which are basically quality time.

I am a full time, homeschooling stay at home mom. My life is supposed to be devoted to my children. I felt that I was giving them enough of me, but their comments tell me that I am very wrong. I thought that much of their troubles were from tragic life circumstances (that is another blog) but I was terribly wrong. I have been too involved in myself and chores that I had forgotten to stop and fully listen and respond as I would any other human being, instead I had been somewhat blowing them off when it was not convenient for me to listen ( such as while I am writing this ).

I decided that I need a refresher in quality parenting. Thank GOD for Super Nanny. Thank GOD for my children’s ability to tell it to me like it is. Thank GOD for putting this book in my hands at the perfect time. I picked it up the other day at a book sale for a quarter and thought I may read it someday. Well, someday is now.