Monday, October 19, 2015

Nightmares Can Be Good

Apparently it's been a year since I posted. Ok.
Don't have really much to say about why the long break. I guess I just forgot about this OR I was depressed, OR just busy; but it was probably all three.
These guys keep me busy.

I have been creative lately with "Making Halloween". Those that know me well, know that there are few things I love in this world besides Disney. Ya, ya, I know. It's a giant faceless, evil corporation out to suck the last pennies from your wallet, using your nostalgia for their movies and family visits to Disneyland to make mountains of money. Very unpunk rock. So what. I love it. I will happily fork over mucho bucks to Mickey Incorporated, so shut your fat mouth. I don't want to hear it.

It's ok, Mickey says "fuck the haters" too
Besides Disney, I love theatre. Since I work in the industry, as a scenic carpenter, prop maker, occasional director, and sometime lighting designer (although this is new to me), everything about Disneyland's theatricality inspires me. It is truly amazing to see HOW much theatre is there, from the sets on the dark rides, the same lighting instruments I use, the costuming, the attention to every single detail helps you feel immersed in the "land". The ultimate theatre that is Disneyland and how much I adore it is the subject of another blog post in the future. Another blog post needs to be our Haunted Mansion bedroom. Seriously.

Anyway, when you are a theatre carpenter/prop maker and your husband is the Master Carpenter in the same joint, sprinkle some obsession with Disney and stir in some Halloween; our decor game gets pretty damn legit. On top of all this, we love the movie "Nightmare Before Christmas". Yes. How totally expected for two old punk farts like us to love this. It borders on obscene.
Snow White's Scary Adventures. It's all theatre baby.

I like to set up our Halloween indoor decorations as soon as October starts because it is my favorite holiday ("Naturally", you say, and I agree). We have the usual decor for Halloween, lots of skulls, creepy bottles with super neato labels, purple lights, creepy cloth for hiding our less spooky stuff, spiders, pumpkins, skeletons, you know, standard. Stuff you can buy at any store, and lots of you probably have the same.

So this year, I decided to make some cool props from "NBC" for Halloween, and some that will come out when the Christmas decorations arrive. The plan is to leave our Halloweentown swag up and add the Townspeople's version of Christmas in December. Oh yes, a very creepy Christmas! Here are some photos of my fun time projects.

First up, the spider snowflake Jack cuts out while trying to understand the whole Christmas thing in his tower home. I cut it out of paper to begin with, and then used those cool foam sheets that are super thin and come in lots of colors. I plan on cutting many of them and hanging them from fishing line.
What's this?

Next: Jack's chalkboard. In the movie he is standing at a chalkboard doing a very complicated formulation to try and scientifically understand Christmas. Mine is small, the chalkboard part itself is about 8 1/2" by 11".
It's an exact copy of Jack's formulations.

Then I decided to go bigger: the cute snake that gobbles the Christmas tree. He's about 8' long and poseable. Careful, cause he's lying in wait in our Halloween tree. There are more, but I'll share that on another day. I am waiting for paint to dry on some other things. I have some bigger props and some smaller ones that are completed or in various stages of completion. Plus the Husband is making a life size Jack!
He doesn't have a "name" in the film.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Quiet and Still.

Ya. October 2012 is the last time I posted. Let us just say there has been too much stuff to deal with. Way too much stuff.  Last time I posted, my son was living on his own and doing great. Then he had a major depressive episode, and ended up in the hospital for a few days. Upon his release, he moved back in with us. My husband was looking at being laid off, and by the skin of our teeth, he kept his job. My husband's ex wife's son (not hubby's bio kid) got kicked out by said ex-wife and had nowhere to go so we opened our doors to him. The youngest's former daycare provider is in a really rough patch in her life and in between housing; her dog needed a place to live for a few months, so we have a white husky living with us as well. 

Sometimes, especially when I'm feeling depressed, everything feels very hard. Physically difficult. Just breathing is about the speed I can handle. While I haven't had a big depression in a long time, over the past few months I certainly was in a darker place than I'd like to be. This makes it harder to just deal with regular stuff, let alone the kind of craziness that was going on around me. I am great in a crisis. I just put my head into the situation and deal. I get things done. It's the aftermath that is tough. I know its because I am "hardwired" to dealing with anxiety and stress due to the unhealthy family of origin I come from. Crazy, stressful situations are "normal" to me. When things are going along quietly that's when I get depressed or anxious. Basically I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Seriously, socks?

After years of therapy, and really working on this issue, I am much better now. I don't get as freaked out by "quiet times". I am still learning, don't get me wrong, but I can do things like stay home and work on my projects  and breathe. It seems weird that stillness is hard; that the quietness in my mind is unfamiliar, but it is getting more "normal"!

All moms have to juggle a dozen things at once. Dads too. Our life zooms along with school, texts, work, cleaning, running errands, the busy stuff. People want more, better, bigger stuff, and they get caught up in this cycle of earning money and wishing for more. Money is awesome and amazing and I will never turn it down, but I can't buy my most treasured moments because those were spent with people. People who I have a deep and sincere friendship with. My children who are my life. My husband who reminds me that I am amazing. Dear friends who will listen to me unload. I am happiest when I am surrounded by my very large, self made extended family. 

Surrounded by family and Miss Goo. She makes me smile with my heart.

Today. Our guest doggy, Nanuk, the white husky got out. He's an escape artist, and Miss Goo is happy enough to tag along right behind him. They are back home and cuddled with me as I type this. When I am done, I will do my morning/daily chores, garden, and do some mending. I will do this in quiet. I will do this alone in my own head, and I will be happy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's Been a While

My 19 yo son moved out. It was a scary thing for me. He has severe ADD and was diagnosed as having Aspergers when he was 10. He takes medication for the ADD and it makes a huge difference for him. He can concentrate and focus on the task at hand, but even with the medication, he is still very inattentive and well, he's a classic absent minded professor. He's on medication for anxiety and depression. My fear about him living alone is justified, I worried about him being able to get up on time to get to his classes at the local community college. I had nightmares about him leaving the oven on. I was freaked out thinking about him trying to keep on top of all his medications. What if he had a panic attack, or was feeling depressed?

He loves animals. Always has.

Incredibly, he has risen to the task, proving himself to be responsible and able to manage. He has kept up his little "pad", doing the dishes, taking out the trash; all the "normal" things that I was concerned about. He is taking his medications, and has been proactive in the "set up" of his new place. He has asked me to get him items to help him remember the basics, and to help him stay organized. He's had friends over (and they are super jealous of his place) for gaming and snacks.

When Dylan was little, I knew something was "off". I didn't know what it was, but there were little clues all along, like not wanting to make eye contact, the way he clung to me so anxiously, like a drowning child around new people or situations. Things that other children loved he wanted no part of. Disneyland was a nightmare. Too loud, hot, stinky. The rides terrified him. He had to be told over and over to do everyday tasks. He could never remember to brush his teeth or wash his hair when he was in the shower, but he could tell you in great detail about his favorite dinosaur, using a vocabulary that was greatly advanced for a boy of 3.

In school, he struggled so hard with everything. Dylan was and is a voracious reader, but he wanted no part of the early readers handed out in kindergarten; but read "The Hobbit" at home. Math on paper was impossible, but he could do complicated math problems in his head with no problems. He was obstinate and defiant with his teacher. I didn't know what to do because he was such a sweet and loving boy at home, albeit there were some attention issues, and the inability to control his impulses; but nothing that caused me significant distress. Our family just worked with his strengths, and helped him with his weaknesses.

Finally, after getting the third call in one week from his teacher, we went to have a battery of tests done. The pediatric neuropsychologist spent one month administering one test after another. The conclusion: Dylan was exceedingly intelligent with an IQ of 145, but had zero attention span and very low impulse control. He had thoughts of death regularly. He had obsessions (which we all knew about) that were definitely not within the "normal" range. He had sensory processing problems.

When we finally got his diagnosis, I felt such a conflicting mess of emotions. On the one hand, I felt relieved, finally knowing that I was not a bad parent, which is what the school would have liked me to believe. On the other, I felt grief, crying for days. I was full of guilt. Was it my DNA that caused this for him? I knew he was going to have to work harder and push himself further to make a go of it in the world. I worried he might not be able to do this. I was afraid the outside world would crush his self esteem. Anxieties about medications, physical therapy, psychologists, and speech therapy swirled in my brain.
Proud Mama and her beautiful son.

With a lot of patience, perseverance, and most importantly, unconditional love, he's matured into an amazingly creative loving young man with a great sense of humor. I am so happy for him right now. I am proud that he is adjusting to this next phase of his life. I feel such joy when I see him so happy and confident. It is a relief to know that despite all the struggle, he's come out on the other side with such a positive outlook.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crockpots. Yes.

Jeez. I got caught up in my life and forgot to post! Too much stuff happening. Looks like my 19 yo son is moving out in a week, which I find frightening and at the same time, I have a sense of relief. It's time.

Wait, this kid is ready to live alone?

My old boss from work called me and wants me to come back, but I had to stick to my guns and make it clear that I am only interested in working no more than 8 hours a week. Honestly, I am enjoying my time at home and the ability to work on my home improvement projects and spend time with the pets. I finally finished the tee shirt quilt, which I will probably never do again, but IF I ever do, I will use interfacing to make the process go much smoother.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to sew jersey?Especially when the cats won't get off...

Today's topic has NOTHING to do with any of the above, but instead I wish to talk about the beauty of the crock pot.
I never understood this appliance until recently.

Growing up, my mom never had a crock pot. She cooked her roasts in a pressure cooker, and they were divine. My gramma used a roasting pan and baked the roasts on low all day for a tender, flavorful roast, and this is the method I've been using for years. The downside to this method is the heat from the oven on a hot day. Plus, you can't just walk out of the house and go do errands with the oven on.

Eric's mom used a crock pot. As a single mother, working long hours with two boys, she relied on the all day cooking power of the crock pot to feed them. When Eric and I got moved in together, he brought a small crock pot he'd had for years. I viewed it with a skeptical eye and put it in the "forget it cupboard" (this is the cupboard that is so high up I have to get out a small ladder to reach it. This cupboard also holds a sake set, two back up lunch boxes, and my turkey roasting pan). Eric never mentioned the crock pot again, and I figured it was only a matter of time before it made its way to Goodwill.

Then one day, I was on the hunt for a recipe for bbq pulled pork. Guess which appliance I would need to use? Yes, the crock pot. So I pulled out a ladder, got it out and realized the amount of food I would need to cook would necessitate a much larger pot, since his is a tiny little pot, perfect for a bachelor. Off to Target I go, and came home 40 minutes later with a huge pot, ready to cook up some pork. The meal was amazing. The pork was so tender, soft, and delicious. On a kaiser roll, with some fresh apple coleslaw on top of the pork, my sandwich was heaven.

If you have never cooked with a crock pot, my suggestion is that you purchase one, and make friends with it. They come in all sizes, but I found that for my army, the biggest one is the right one for me. In case you've never used one, I am posting two recipes for your maiden crock pot voyage.


Pork butt or shoulder. (I made 3 pounds)
1 large sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Your favorite BBQ sauce (16 oz bottle), home made or store bought.

Put half the onions on the bottom of the pot. Add pork and 1/2 cup of water into the crock pot. Add the remaining onions and the garlic. Cover the crock pot and cook it on "low" for 9 hours. When it's done, pour out all the water and onions. Tear the roast up with forks (or use your hands, carefully cause it will be hot). Pour the BBQ sauce on top of the shredded meat, making sure you coat all the meat evenly. Serve on buns or eat as is. (We like it with kaiser rolls). 

To go with this delicious pork, make apple coleslaw. It's sweet and tangy, and goes so well with the BBQ!


3 cups chopped cabbage (about half a head)
1 unpeeled apple (your choice, any kind, I prefer Fiji)
1 grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (any color is fine)
2 finely chopped green onions
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice.

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, apple, carrot, bell pepper, and green onions. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Pour dressing over salad.

I've found that you can make the coleslaw in the morning, just don't dress it until it's time to eat. It took me 30 minutes to prepare this entire meal, and then we went out to do fun family stuff, came back, I shredded the pork, dressed the salad, and YUMMY! My family like to serve the pulled pork on the bottom bun, put a scoop of coleslaw on top of the pork, and top it off with the bun top. Super good, easy, and cheap.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday. I took a day off from writing yesterday because I was busy with my newest project, a t-shirt quilt made from my husbands old concert tees. Naturally he didn't want to get rid of them. Lollzpalooza 1992? No way we're donating this to Goodwill; however, they are all super trashed, worn thin, or just don't fit anymore.

I saw a picture of a T-shirt quilt during one of my Internet searching sprees; somehow I went down a rabbit hole and ended up looking at this:

We don't have college tees, but ya.. you get the idea

I figured I could just cut up the tees, sew them together, and we'd have a new snuggle blanket. Me being me... well, I couldn't bother looking up a tutorial. I just went ahead and cut up the shirts and started sewing them together with the trusty Hello Kitty sewing machine. If I had bothered to look up a tutorial, I would have known to use interfacing on the tees to make sewing it together easier. Now I know. In any case, the tees are all sewn together and this weekend I will sew the lining to this and then the back (which is a fuzzy blue flannel).

I've always been terrified of the sewing machine. Hand sewing is my speed. BUT... after sewing a cute curtain for my bathroom cabinet by hand and wanting to do some other projects, I decided to investigate easy, beginner sewing machines and just conquer that fear.

Cutest sewing machine ever. Nothing to fear here.
This machine got great reviews on Amazon, and my dear friend who is a sewer said Janome is a really trustworthy brand, so I jumped on it when I saw it again at Target (dear Target, how I love you). It was just over 100$. I have now done another set of curtains, two pillow cases, a tote bag, and the tee quilt! I am not a tutorial person, I just go for it and if it looks ugly, well, I try again. I keep learning tricks while sewing and using the machine.

My next project is a dress. For me. I have a dress I like that I would like to make a bit longer. I have no pattern. The existing dress is going to be the pattern and I am crossing my fingers that it will work out. I figure its kinda the same thing as when I would make little dresses for my daughter's rag doll. Stay tuned. I'll post a photo when I'm done!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday is House Cleaning Day

I finished cleaning the house. If you read yesterday's blog, you heard all about my hatred of the bathroom and having to clean it, but you also read about two of my favorite things to use to help clean faster in there.

Today, I will share with you one of my other all time favorite things to use for cleaning around the house,  the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. These are the shit.

Oh yes...

These things are perfect for cleaning the stove top and hood, wiping down the fridge, countertops, and all those other greasy grimy places in your kitchen. I like the multiple size ones, since you can choose which size you need for which job.

The stove top gets gross. No doubt about it. Everyone's does, but I am blown away by how many friends don't wipe down the stove top every cooking happens. Just get used to doing it after doing the dishes. Use your sponge and some warm soapy water after every use and it simply doesn't get as gross by the time you get around to really cleaning it. Takes just a few minutes!

I use the Magic Eraser once a week to get the stove top sparkling, and the hood grease is wiped off so easily with this product. Same with that weird greasy film that gets on your counter tops... just wipe it off with the eraser. 

The fridge can be neglected, and I understand. Who wants to wipe that crap down? I found that putting some plastic mats on the shelves can cut the clean up time. Pull it out, wipe it down with the eraser, and bam. Done. I have some cute sushi placemats in there.

Microwave disgusting? Put a bowl with one cup of water, 2 teaspoons of white vinegar, and one toothpick. Put this bowl in the microwave on high for 5 minutes, and then leave it inside the mirco for another 2 (don't open the door). After two minutes, open the door, take a sponge or rag and WIPE all the grossness away. AHHH! The power of steam has done all the work for you. The toothpick is important as it keeps the water from boiling over.

Hope your Monday was productive. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I Hate Cleaning the Bathroom

Happy Sunday to you! Tomorrow is my "Clean the House" day, and while I don't mind most chores, I despise, really and truly hate cleaning the bathroom. First of all, I share it with 3 dudes. Yes. Three. The husband (who is very conscientious and careful in the bathroom so I know it's not him making the mess), my 19 yo who becomes a dolphin in the shower, and my 8 yo who thinks aiming into the toilet bowl is impossible. As you can imagine, the bathroom gets wrecked, even with having the 8yo wipe down the seat (PLEASE lift it up!), and the 19 yo cleaning up the splash zone.

So when I found this little post on Pinterest I had to try it. Anything that gets me done cleaning the shower faster and with little to no effort is worth a try. First you will need a scrubby sponge dishwasher thingy. They look like this:
Find it at Target. Do not get distracted by the pretty frames.
I got mine at Target for two bucks, it doesn't matter what it looks like, it just has to have a scrubby pad and a holder that can contain the magic shower cleaner, which you will make with just a couple of things.

Put one cup each of white vinegar, dawn dishwashing soap (I used the Target brand I and it was fine), and warm water in a jar (or whatever you want to store the extra solution in); and SHAKE. After it's all mixed up, pour your solution in the handle of your scrubby, firmly screw the cap on.

Now this is where I love my shower scrubby. While I am in the shower, waiting for the conditioner to work its wonders on my hair, I scrub the walls with this stuff. Then the tub part, and then the fixtures. I rinse it off, rinse the hair, and I am done with the shower.

Honestly, it works. Really, and it is so easy. There's no chemicals, no residue, it blasts through the film and general nastiness you find in the shower, and its cheap to do.  

Next, the dreaded toilet. First, 8 yo Iggy needs to lift up the seat and pee with some precision, but until that day miraculously occurs... I keep Lysol wipes under the sink for quick cleanliness, he can do it himself, and it kinda reaffirms that pee is gross, and it's nasty to wipe it up. I keep a blue puck in the bowl because it cuts down on the toilet brush scrubbing time, and I like seeing the pretty blue water because I get easily distracted by colors.

As for the general gross dirtiness, on Mondays I wipe down the entire bowl with Lysol wipes. I get some Comet in the bowl and brush it clean. The sink is easy, scrub it out with Comet, do a good wipe down of the sink top and I'm good to go. 

The floors get pretty disgusting around the bowl. First I tried the little carpet thingy around the toilet but that was a huge mistake, it was basically a piss sponge, and made the bathroom smell. So that went into the garbage. Now I vacuum in there, and use the incredible steam cleaner. Get one. It kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses with steam. 

So totally worth it.

Yes, before you ask, I got mine at Target. It's a Eureka Enviro Care and it was $65. It comes with good instructions, and I cannot begin to tell you how awesome it is to know that the floors in the bathroom  are seriously clean. Since my entire house has hardwood floors, I use it everywhere. Besides the 8 yo, the 19 yo and his buddies, and the three cats, I have a puppy who is still learning the whole "don't use the house as your toilet" thing.

Because I do live with three guys I get the toilet seat wars, but really, as long as the pee gets into the bowl and not in the general area, I'm ok with lowering that seat myself.