Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Fantastic Michigan Artist

And now, a quick word about Facebook. One of the things that I love about Facebook is the ability to find people and friends that you have lost touch with over the years, including the ones that you really liked... whether you meant to lose touch, or whether it just kind of happened in the course of a decade and moves across the country.

One of these friendships that I really enjoyed was with a girl in high school who, when I previously knew her, was named Bethany. She was famous for her 'give 'em hell' attitude and I absolutely adored her for it - and was a little envious. Dark hair, gorgeous eyes, she was that rebel type that I, as the editor of the paper, yearbook, soccer player, cheerleader and really all around goody two shoes, wanted to be - or at least let that side out of me, which - trust me - is certainly there.

Now, having found the very talented Bethanne (with a new, grown up name, no less :) ) on Facebook, I have discovered that we still share that same attitude problem... hee hee... and also a love of art and mixed media art. While I knit, sew, and dabble in painting, Bethanne is a great painter and does fantastic mixed media pieces. She was recently selected to participate in a Purina (yes, the cat food people) art exhibition featuring pieces composed of and with Purina products... talk about repurposing!

You can check her out at her blog - click here, or follow her on Twitter here. She also does exhibits and shows in the East Lansing area at a gallery/show space called (SCENE) Metrospace - check them out here!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Baseball Season in Oregon

Welcome to Spring Training... in Oregon. This means that more practices get rained out than actually get completed, the majority of the practices you do have are held either under a covered area at a local elementary school or in the drizzle... and it usually doesn't get above 55 degrees.

I have decided that we need to move baseball practice to Arizona. Take these kiddos (fee free, of course, due to the extreme generosity of a random millionaire benefactor) down to where it is warm and sunny for a week or two and let them practice there. Great idea, huh? OR... we could always delay the start of the season for a month and start at the end of April instead of the end of March? Maybe finish at the end of June instead the beginning? I would be okay with that...

All of this aside, a few seasons ago, Ethan played for Clackamas Little League... as in official Little League, Williamsport, Little League World Series and all that. I hated it. I grew up in New England (Portland, Maine), where Little League - Portland North, thank you very much, is king and everyone plays, and everyone takes it SERIOUSLY. Like, scary seriously. It was so sad to see here that they really don't. Perhaps at the upper levels, but I remember it stared from the time they were 5, in T-Ball. SO, I switched him to Clackamas Junior Baseball, which, essentially is a travel league that develops players for the Clackamas High. So far, we have really enjoyed this league. There is more structure, without feeling pressure to work at the "snack shack" or do fundraisers.

In addition to that, if you have been reading this, you know that I lost my job over a year ago, and my husband lost his just before Christmas. He has since found a new position, but getting back to a good place financially after being on unemployment is difficult. Due to the type of winter we have in the Northwest, it makes off-season baseball training hard. The league has several camps that are being held over the next two or three weeks to get kids back in the game, for lack of a better way to put it. Many, many thanks to Jackie Long for allowing Ethan to participate in the camps "on scholarship".
I am looking forward to this season... hopefully we get the car fixed soon so we don't have to ride in the rain to get to practice...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Portland Police Department and "Police Brutality"

Tonight, the Rev. Jesse Jackson flew into our fair, very liberal city. As usual, the media was there to greet him and his entourage. Why, you might ask, was the venerable Rev. Jackson (who, I freely admit, has done some great things for civil rights in this country - there is no doubt or argument about that) making his second appearance in Portland in the last few months?

Earlier this week, the police were called with a report of a man who had threatened a woman and her child at a popular recreation area - Hoyt Arboretum. This wooded hiking area, which is extremely beautiful, and is located within the vicinity of several neighborhoods, the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Rose Gardens, and Washington Park. When the responding officer arrived, he discovered an individual, covered in blood, and wielding a box knife - or a "razor knife" as the local media was calling it. When the office asked him to relinquish the weapon, the man moved toward him in a threatening manner... and the office shot him. Sad? Of course.

A few weeks ago, there was another officer involved shooting involving a man who was believed to have a weapon (it was later determined that he didn't), who again, moved toward a larger number of officers - it was a "standoff" type of situation - and was shot and killed. Again, sad? Yes, undoubtedly - especially considering this man's brother had died earlier in the day, and part of the reason officers were called was due to the domestic disturbance that had resulted from the events of the day - this particular individual was creating the issue.

People in the Portland area have been "protesting" for the last week. Some peacefully, some not. One of the great things about our country is that we, as citizens, have the freedom and right to do this. One of the other great things about our country is that we have laws that not only protect us, but that also protect our law enforcement officials. While yes, have there been what seems to be an excessive number of police shootings in and around the Portland area in the last few years; for some reason this week, people have been seeming to focus on the shooting of one individual that was deemed a threat, not only by an officer, but by a fellow citizen, instead of looking at the five or six different gang related shootings that have happened in the same time period - including one at a local shopping center.

I respect the right of every citizen to have a voice and to be heard. I also respect the rights of the police officers that are entrusted by the citizenry to enforce the laws that we, as a people, have created. Do the officers tend to over-react, perhaps by using a "kill shot" as opposed to perhaps merely disabling the individual by say, shooting them in a leg, or arm? Sure. It happens. However, my question is this: if you were that mother who called in on a beautiful sunny day, in a busy park - knowing that there were other children around you - what would you want done? If there was an individual threatening your safety and the safety of your child, how would you want that officer to react?

More importantly: If you were that officer, with all of your training and experience, knowing, that no matter what you did, someone would be there to criticize your decision, what would you do? Would you try to restrain the person threatening you with a knife, again, knowing full well that the individual could run into the woods, and possibly harm someone else?

I am all for national attention to crime, safety, police brutality. Although, I am also all for someone calling attention to gang related violence, gang recruitment, gangs retaliating against other gangs... which one really has the greater effect on a city - several shootings in a year by trained law enforcement professionals or several shootings in a week by young adults in a mall, or in a neighborhood?

For related articles head here. To visit the Portland Police Bureau, click here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Break

After my tirade in my last posting about the kids... I am ready for Spring break to be done and over with.

I had a bike accident early in the week, which kind of shot all of the plans that I had for me and the kids to do. I cut open the bottom of my chin, road rash and bruises in other spots, and I messed up my neck pretty badly.

Hopefully the week AFTER spring break will be far more productive in terms of getting spring cleaning (and cleaning out) types of things done.

Off to AT&T to pay the cell bill! Check out the other blog for pics of the latest knitting project - a gorgeous unisex baby blanket - in NON-PASTEL colors!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let's Start by Saying...

Alright, so I love my kids, I do. I might even like them sometimes... when they are listening. I would be lying however, if I said I am not insanely jealous of my friends that don't have kids and have the time to sit down and read a book without interruption, or work on a quilt (for my friend Brooke's gorgeous stuff - go here), or do some home renovation, or painting, or hell, read a book, go for a walk, or go to a movie...

When I had Ethan, I knew what I was giving up, and I don't regret the choices that I made regarding the kids. Sometimes though, I look out the window, or watch TV or a movie, or hear a song that makes me wonder what would've been had I never moved to Texas (speaking of, JoDee Messina's "Heads Carolina, Tails California" just came on at the coffee shop).

I really think things will be better when Xavier is old enough to head to preschool for a couple hours a few days a week... I think I'm just suffering from too much mommy and me time... I think I need some time by myself and perhaps some friends to hang out with... so the cartoon to the left doesn't happen...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yummy Carrot Oatmeal and dried fruit bars!

Super YUM! You can find the exact recipe here... however, I made a few changes.

Because my family tends to be slightly hungrier than what she said to make the size... I made mine slightly larger - about 4"x1" and when they were done, they were about 4.5x1.5". Also, her recipe calls for unsweetened applesauce. I used homemade applesauce, which has extra cinnamon and nutmeg, etc. in it, as well as extra brown sugar. This didn't do anything to the baking process... but it did add apple chunks and some extra spices. (Really, who doesn't like extra cinnamon and brown sugar?) Here is the batter...

Be aware... it looks kinda yucky...
And shaped into the bars:

The dried fruit I put in mine was cranberries, apricots, and raisins. Again, because I used the homemade applesauce, it also added some apple chunks. These also got REALLY big when they were done baking. These are great for breakfast, hiking, or car snacks! Easily portable, and super good for you. :) Enjoy!

Awesome Honey Wheat Bread

Let me start by saying that this isn't my recipe. I can't remember where I found it, but should the developer come across my little corner of the internet, please leave me a comment so I can give you credit and link back to your site. Please. :)

That being said... here is the best, easiest, no knead honey wheat bread I have tried. (it's even better when you make it yourself, because then you get the fantasticness that is the smell of freshly baked bread through your house!)

(All measurements are US, as well, I'm from the US... if someone can convert them to metric, let me know! I'm an equal opportunity baker. :))

Super Easy Honey Wheat Bread

4cups Warm Water
1 TBSP Sugar
2 TBSP Yeast
(Keep these separate)

2/3 c Sugar
2/3 c Vegetable Oil
2/3 c Honey
4 tsp Salt
6-8 c Whole Wheat Flour - if you can find it, Bob's Red Mill is fantastic
4-6 c All Purpose Flour - I prefer unbleached, personally

Add the warm water, sugar, and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside. Leave this alone for about 5 minutes.

Add the Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Salt, and Honey to your mixer bowl. Add sugar and yeast mixture, lightly blend.

Add Wheat flour 1 cup at a time. It should start to look like this...

Side Note: I have a Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer. This is a LARGE recipe for this size of mixer. It is quite possible to do the whole thing at once, however, you do have stop fairly frequently to clean your dough hook and give the motor a break... OR, half it. :)

After you have added all of the wheat flour (I usually wind up with about 7 cups), change from your paddle attachment to your dough hook.

Add Unbleached flour 1 cup at a time... and dust as needed. I let it mix for a bit as I add each cup. Now, DON'T WORRY if your mixer starts to look like this...

As I said, just take a second to scrape it down. I don't set the speed over a 2 when it gets to this point.

While this is mixing, set your oven to its LOWEST setting, whether that is Warm, 150, doesn't matter. Prep a metal or oven safe bowl with vegetable oil and pull out some plastic wrap.

After the dough is done... trust me you'll be able to tell - it will pull from the sides and stay that way. Lightly coat your hands in either flour or vegetable oil and work the dough out of the mixer bowl and into the bowl you have prepped. Cover with the plastic wrap and pop in the oven, making sure you TURN IT OFF. You just want it warm in there. Leave dough in the oven for about 45 minutes.

While this is rising... CLEAN UP! :) Also, prep 4 bread pans. I like to use glass for at least one of them so I can keep an eye on what is going on in there. At the end of 45 minutes, pull the bowl out and punch down.

Separate into 4 loaves, and while you are doing this, reheat your oven.

Place loaves back into warm oven for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, pull loaves out, increase heat to 365, and bake them for 25-30 minutes (here's where the glass comes in handy!)

And, Voila! Now, when you make four loaves, one of them will wind up smaller. If you want 3 perfect ones, you can do that too, but I like to have one to snack on after I've made them. These freeze really well, and defrost just like any other bread... toss them on the counter. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cooking Day

Lately, I have been completely wrapped up in my art projects that I have been neglecting my other creative love: cooking. I love my Kitchen Aid, I love getting my hands yucky, and I love having a tangible product. That is the one thing that makes reading and riding difficult for me lately. Not being employed (other than as a mom), it is hard to find things to do that produce something. Sure, the laundry gets done and the dishes are clean, beds made, etc., but there is no production of something of value or of substance. Cooking and crafting at least produce something. So that being said... here's what I've done today...
Granola Bars!
This is a crazy easy recipe...

4.5cups of oats

1c Flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat and half unbleached)

1tsp Baking Soda

1tsp Vanilla

2/3c Softened Butter

1/2c Honey

1/3c Brown Sugar

Whatever fruit/nuts/chocolate you choose

Bake at 325 in a 9x13 pan for 18-22 minutes - longer if you want them a little crunchier.

This is a great basic recipe, however, I did add some cinnamon and if you look at the picture, they are a little on the crumbly side. Next time I would probably add a little extra honey and maybe an egg as a binder. Great flavor though!

Also, I decided to try some breakfast cookies... and you can find this recipe here. The only modification I made to this was instead of banana chips (which I didn't have) I added 1/2 a banana in with the wet ingredients, and omitted nuts (our family isn't crazy about them)

And now... back to my knitting... oh, and did I mention I also made spaghetti sauce too? :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Sheesh. That's really all I have today. I put a freebie up on Craig's and on Freecycle and immediately, I was inundated with responses. Great, right? Well, the first guy didn't email me back, making it so I moved on to the next guy... then I had ten more people I had to email back saying "Sorry...", some of which weren't happy. At All.

For whatever reason, I've noticed that people expect handouts. My theory is that people are generally good and are willing to help when they can, however, there are those that tend to take advantage of that. I don't know what I have done to irritate the gods, or if it's just their way of telling me I need to go back to being my unusually cynical self, but for some reason, these people have just been thrown in my path lately.

I wanted this year to start out optimistically - new business, new opportunities, etc. I have found it is getting harder and harder to remain positive and upbeat... I think I need to go back to meditating and yoga every day. Perhaps that will help....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Potty Training... Round 2

This time the potty training process is going much better... we have been dry, with only one accident since LAST Wednesday - including overnight! It seems to be that he really doesn't want to get his trains or Buzz Lightyear wet. It probably doesn't hurt that he wants to be exactly like his big brother either.

One of the ideas that we have found that works really well - many thanks to a friend of a friend for this little gem, when you leave the house (or at night) you put a pull-up over their little undies. This way, they still feel wet, but without the mess!!! This was fantastic plan that has worked out wonderfully.

Now, when I say that we haven't had an accident, we also really haven't left the house in a few days, and he's been running around in a t-shirt and underoos, but hey, its working! No treats, candy, munchies, toys, anything really. This morning, he wanted breakfast, and I told him he had to go the bathroom first, and he did... I don't really think that counts though!

We have the first part pretty much down... on to the second part, which we haven't really had any success with yet, but one step at a time...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Announcement time!

I have decided to start a second blog that is dedicated strictly to knitting and other various creative projects. Doesn't mean they won't pop in here from time to time, but this is going to be a "personal" blog. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Yup, I'm aware that I shouted. :) Coming up at the end of April, I have been invited to participate in the Portland State University Earth Day Festival! Check them out HERE! I am super excited about having the chance to showcase some of my sustainable projects - both the ones that I have completed and the new ones that I'm working on...

- Cool washcloth soap holders... haven't decided what to call these yet, and they are still in production. I know when Ethan was younger, he wanted to wash himself in the bathtub, but the soap would slip out of his hands. Johnson's made a kids bar soap with a scrubbie coating, but you would just throw it away when the soap was gone. This way, you just replace the soap! I will post a FREE PATTERN for them here when I get some images.

- Additional colors and patterns of washcloths and lunchbags

- Some fun slippers... these are in the prototype stage, with some test ones going out to a friend in TX for her little girl to try out for me.

- Maybe some sling backpacks? I have a cool pattern, but haven't decided how much time this is going to eat up... not sure on this yet...

I'm open to more ideas.... Check out the works in progress and some awfully cute kidlets wearing some of my stuff here.

Number One...

I have a few different things to talk about today, and I'm going to do them individually, simply because it is easier for me to organize my thoughts...

The first thing for me to bring up is Xavier's speech therapy. We have been going to Portland State University's Speech and Audiology Clinic for just over a year now. We have been exceedingly happy with the results that we have gotten, and all of the grad students we have worked with have been great (a big thanks to Lisa, Emily, Mago, Jillian, and Sally)... interested in learning more? Check them out here. I know they also welcome financial contributions. Just because they are part of a University doesn't mean that they necessarily get everything that they need or deserve!
The second thing related to PSU is SALLY! Oh my gosh... this girl is absolutely amazing. Xavier has decided that he cannot have another speech clinician. EVER. So, today I talked to Ellen Reuler (our advisor) about having her again next term if possible... we gave Sally her "end of term" present on Tuesday, so today, Sally had presents for us (which was completely unnecessary). She very offhandedly says, "oh and the beads on the necklace are from the orphanage I started in Africa" I'm sorry... WHAT!?!?!?!?!

Here are some of the kids...

Here is Sally with more of the kids...

After finding this out... I encourage anyone who might read this to check them out on their website... it really is an amazing story and well worth a looksee - either on their site or on Facebook - their group is Musana Children's Home.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yikes, that layout was funky....

Wow, I'm not really sure what happened there, but that last posting was weird... Here is what I'm currently working on...

These fun little cuff bracelets are available here for a mere $10! They are 100% wool and felted for a sturdy feel and embellished with a variety of fun little goodies...

Also, I'm going to be trying to do some new marketing type stuff - hitting the pavement to advertise in some local shops, and doing as many shows as I can possibly afford. Exciting news on this front... I have been invited to attend the Portland State Earth Day festival as a vendor - now I just have to figure out a way to afford it - and FAST!

Hopefully, this is the start of some local recognition that I can work with and build on. I'm knitting as fast as my little fingers can take me!