So, here I am.....

The girl that said she'd never blog. The far from computer savvy girl that is always up for a challenge despite a serious lack of time.My blog goals. Do I have blogging goals? Hmmm, I guess I should. So I pledge to be funny, lighthearted, not vent or complain to much and maybe just maybe share a crumb of wit and wisdom on occassion.I will most likely chat about etsy, my addiction and muse. the incredible artsists and friends I have found in a community that oozes with creativity, friendship, support and a home for all things handmade.You will hear me ramble about the insanity of my life including my 3 boys, ages 12, 16 and 53. Yes, that last one I am married to, but trust me, he is just as much boy as man. After 17 years of marriage I find myself raising him along with them. Then again, he would probably say the same of me at times. I will often speak of friends I would go to the ends of the earth for and a family that more often than not defines dysfunction. Then again, I strongly believe a functional family is the stuff legends are made of.I am a lover of music of all kinds and not so much the TV ( except maybe Glee). I have an addiction to handmade glass, especially venetian and lampwork beads as well as unique pottery. I have made a concerted effort to tame my jewelry fetish with my own creations which can be seen at http://www.kjbeads.etsy.com/If you haven't figured out by now, I can jabber my jaws and my fingers as if someone could care what I have to say.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Whole Week

without a post. Where has it gone? The holidays, family, craziness has just taken its toll I guess. Then again, 65F in December is enough to make any Chicagoan get out of the house. Unfortunately it didn't last. Nows we have over a foot of snow melted and frozen as an ice pond in the back yard. Luckily, no flooding in the basement. I don't know if I could deal with that at this time of year.

Mark is home for one more week and I am making a wish list. He would condider it a "honey-do" list but I don't care. Surely there is more on it than could ever be accomplished, hence, the "wish" part. Hopefully we will figure out the basis for reworking my workroomtoday. Actually accomplishing the rework is a whole other story. We should finish the painting upstairs and the boys bedrooms forst but I may comit hiicide if something in this room doesn't give soon. Elfa systems cost as much as raising a child, so it will be the Markaroo system for us (would you really expect anything else?)

It seems everything we do the past few weeks is a money pit. Painting, Christmas, planning vacations, organizing. Geesh! I hope we find that $$$ tree soon. It all needs doing, I just don't know how. Truth be told, no one can blame us for not doing our part for the economy!
See what happens when I don;t post for a week, my fingers start babbling all over the map. non cohesive ramblings.
posts to come:
Grandma kicked butt
The Johnsons go to Washington
dysfunction fest '08
Why is my meanager still alive?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Few Favorites

for a few of my favorites!
It's the time of year for yummies and these are some tried and true favorites fro over the years.

Bacon Wrapped Waterchestnuts

1 lb Bacon
2 cans whole waterchestnuts drained
1 cup catsup
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
wooden toothpics

Cut bacon strips into thirds. Wrap each chestnut in bacon piece and secure with toothpick. Place in flat pan and bake 30 minutes at 350○. Drain fat. ( can be refrigerated at this point and finished on day of use). Mix catsup, sugar and wrocestershire sauce. Pour over Bacon and let sit for 20 minutes. Bake 25 mins at 350○. Serve hot.

These are a sure hit so be sure to make more than you think you'll need!



Spinach Squares

4 Tbsp butter
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 (10oz) packages chopped spinach (thawed and drained well)
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, grated (I use cojack or cheddar)
1/4 cup chopped onion

Preheat oven to 350○. Melt butter in 9x13 pan. Beat eggs and add flour, milk, salt and baking powder. Mix well. Stir in spinachm cheese and onions. Spoon into buttered baking pan. Bake 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and cut into small squares.


For a great hot spinach side dish try this family favorite. Even those that don't like spinach like this one.

Spinach Souffle


2 cups cottage cheese
3 eggs, beaten
3 packages (10 oz each) frozen shinach, thawed and well drained
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salt

Mix cottage cheese and eggs. Add remaining ingredients and pour into greased pan. Bake uncover at 350○ for 30-45 minutes.
( I save a small amount of cheddar to sprinkle on top)


and no Christmas is complete without the Rum Pudding with Raspberry Melba Sauce. I don't remember ever there being a Christmas Eve dinner without this dessert. For those that don't like eggnog, vanilla icec cream or a decadent cheesecake makes a great host to the thick and sweet raspberry sauce.
However, that one I will scan and add in. just click and enlarge.

Friday, December 19, 2008

For Moms Everywhere

especially if you have managers.
Snow shoveling and cookie baking have me quite busy today but I must leave this for you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Never to Late


I had the pleasure and shame of writing a most overdue note today. This past summer, I received a request to send a congratulatory greeting to a most special person. I don;t know if I misinterpreted the request or felt the need to say more than a quick, "way to go!" but the bottom line is, I never did it. I didn't ignore it, I just set it aside. The time passed and the event took place without my sentiments, still, I left that request in my "to do" pile. It was too important to ignore but needed the time to be done just right. Well, the year is closing and as I wrote my holiday cards I decided this was the time. I had been too long overdue and needed to be said. I would have to bite the bullet and say what needed saying. As a lesson learned from this lovely person, take time for the small stuff. Slow down and appreciate the world that surrounds you every day. And so I did. It ended up being almost a two page letter and I'm still not sure that my heart was reflected. Here's why.

There are two very special people in my life. Not my parents or my children, but two very special nuns. Now, you know if you read this blog with any regularity that I could use a little help in the spiritual department. Then again, maybe that;s what has kept me out of major trouble considering some of my antics. I do believe that despite my life as a punk and my ability to be a royal bitch at times, these two loveliest of souls have also shared in my ability to be patient and understanding and charitable, not to mention an advocate for all children.

Sister Miguel and sister Louis have been a major influence in our family since before I was born. Having taught my mother, aunt and uncle in Kindergarten and 1st grade, sister Miguel has shared her life with us. She became fast friends with my Grandmother as a young parent and has stayed close to all of us her entire life. All 93 years of it. She has just celebrated her 75th year in the order and her 93rd birthday. What an accomplishment.

Now, it must be said that these sisters are not your typical Catholic nuns. They may have worn a habit and wielded a ruler back in the day but I find the ruler part hard to believe. Sister Miguel spent many, many years as a primary grade teacher and not always in the best of neighborhoods. Her gentle spirit and genuine kindness touch more souls than can be counted. If that wasn't enough, she went on to profess early childhood to another generation (or three) at what is now Concordia college outside of Chicago. Sister Louis earned her law degree and passed the Bar in her fifties, going on to represent many a wayward youth in the family court system and beyond. Working for gift of doing for others rather than a paycheck, she has touched just as many lives in her lifetime.

These ladies have had a significant influence in my life. They can throw back a Manhattan over a poker table with the best of them. They will indulge in the sweet richness of a good fried walleye cheek and dance the hula at a luau. Someday, when old enough to actually get the joke, my son will smile at the comment, "I've been waiting for that my whole life, now I can die happy" when he said, I have a lei for you at the last Luau for my grandmother's 90th birthday. You see, that is the humor and life they have taught us to so enjoy. I know many a teenager that would love to be able to hit a wiffle ball the way Miguel did at seventy five, sleeves rolled up in the backyard with a couple five year olds. I do believe that if she had her eye sight today, she'd be out there with my kids, giggling at her curve ball.

So, in addition to watching 3 generations receive sacraments and comforting us through some tough losses over the years, the woman have been great friends. Actually, they have been family. There for the good and the bad. They have comforted, guided, consoled, celebrated and rejoiced with us. Holidays, birthdays or just a good old family meal.
Today, I took a lesson they taught me. I slowed down to appreciate life. The everyday life we seem to not have time for. I reflected on some of these thoughts and stopped my busy life to share them. I had the privilege of expressing what they've meant to me. How they have influenced me and my gratitude. They are the embodiment of friendship in every sense of the word. Wise, gentle, caring souls that have blessed my life in an indescribable way.
Thank you Louie and Miguel! You will never know what you mean to me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No Time Today

As usual, I have quite a "to do" list. Blogging was definitely on that list but my day seems to be taking on a life of its own. Today is my cyber Monday, it seems. Orders I have been hoping for are finally coming in droves. Everytime I try to accomplish something, I hear that little email ding and there is another order.

I must say, I am just a little anal when it comes to orders. I have even been known to hit the post with orders more than once in the same day. I want to get them packed with care and off to the post office as fast as possible. The post office is conveniently located adjacent to the kid's school, so not a bother to go. I wish I could say as much for the lines and one of the desk clerks there. People may think of me as considerate to let them jump line on me but the truth of the matter is, I do anything to avoid him. I just don;t need another rude, obnoxious jerk yelling at me.
Today I am under the gun time wise. I have food to make for Mark's Christmas party at work in the morning. It's not like i can put it off til later in the week, but I also have orders that just MUST get mailed. Aterall, what if they are gifts. People need time to do with them what they must. I also have a mess of a house and laundry to do (like that ever changes, ha!)
So, I am off and running once again. If you see one of my boys in dirty jeans or fussing for a clean shirt, please comfort them and let them know the world will not come to an end if they wear a pair of pants more than once. Spin that "be green" theme on them and remind them I do love them more than life itself but I also have customers to tend to and they pay. (I will know you have run across them and done this when they try to pay me to cook them dinner)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Saturday Morning Catch-Up

You know the past few days must have been a little nutso. I haven't posted for nearly a week. Oh, the humanity! Well, let's see if we can tie up a few loose ends before I move on to cleaning the natural disaster we call home, wrapping gifts by the dozens and head out for a night of girl fun and gambling. Ohhh, that last one sounds a bit precarious doesn't it? So, Alex made it to the concert. I was so happy for him and bursting with pride. He did a great job, especially considering he could barely breathe from congestion. How he blew that horn I'll never know, but he did.
videoOf course, the mental not to not turn the camera sideways because I don't know how to rotate it once uploaded went completely out the window in all my excitement.
video

So, a concert, 2 board meetings, catching a kid up on homework, Christmas shopping, attending the Gem & Jewelry show and a host of other adventures have left me reflecting on a week that zoomed by at warp speed. The excitement of the concert tempered with the sadness of a wake and funeral that came out of the blue, completely unexpected and all the in between has left me feeling a little jostled and out of sorts this morning. So, I will don my supercape and head in at full speed. I refuse to let this full moon get the best of me. I have a list and I plan on tackling it today.
Today, I vow to,
wrap gifts
clean house
do laundry
return DS' slippers ( that should be fun this time of year on a Saturday)
make an appetizer
call mom
pay bills
complete show applications
address and write Christmas cards

oh, I have to stop. I refuse to defeat myself by putting more on here than I can do. I guess I need to make a list for tomorrow also.
balance checkbook
do paperwork
file a mountian
grocery shop for cookie baking supplies
help with homework
more laundry(it never ends)
cook dinner
complete jewelry orders

and on and on and on and on

I better get started!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

To Be or Not to Be..........a Mom

that is the question. Anyone raising teenagers knows that's the question more often than not. You just really don't know how diffucult watching someone fail, fall on their face, screw up, live with consequences, and sometimes make bad decisions is until you're the mom of a full blown teenager. It's part of the game. Some call it payback, some call it God testing you. There's no denying it's tough.

I have had friends convey raising daughters as 24 hour hostage negotiations. You see, I do believe that girls leave the human race for about 7 years. Alien life forms. Then I count my blessings and thank the good Lord I have boys! Okay, one of them has the propensity to PMS like a 16 year old alien invaded mean girl, but I soooo know it could be worse. Then I tell him, " you know, the worst part of all this is that you make me feel the need to call your grandmother on a daily basis and apologize." He grins.

If you have read anything in this blog, you have read that I was (repeat WAS ) a self proclaimed punk with a capital P! For me, and the pure enjoyment of my mother, this is payback. The highly intelligent student pulling low C's (of course there's no valid reason!), the mumbling, eye rolling facial contortions only a body between 13 and 20 can make, the "why is my life so hard" whine. Oh, and the new one, at least to me, "If I had a cellphone!"

Well, today, I need to be the Mom. The loving, caring, compassionate, wish i could make you all better, MOM! I can't even bring myself to refer to him as a meanager today. Today, I just want to hug him and make him feel better. Even more so, I want him better. I want the miracle cure for the common cold today. You and I both know, its not going to happen but I have to be positive, hold out hope and make lots of chicken soup.
Alex is home with a terrible cold. Maybe the flu, but probably just a cold. The headache, stuffy nose, can't breathe, exhaustion inducing cold. It's going around. Seems more are sick than well. I should be glad it's now and not during Christmas, right? Well, normally I would be, but tomorrow is his big concert. His 8th grade year, star of the Jazz band, 3 solos in 3 songs concert. He has worked so hard this year. Moved to the tenor sax, helping out the younger band students, taking on bigger and tougher solos. His biggest role in the band to date and only one more concert after this before moving on to the high school. Many family members are schedule to attend the performance. He is proud. He is playing the best he ever has. Now, I don't even know if he can blow a horn much less make it through a solo.

So, I am cooking soup, administering liguids, and zinc, and motrin ( even the decongestants have been flowing) and feeling my heart break for him. this is not like those tough ones aI mentioned earlier. This one is harder. He did everything right, he put in the effort, he gave it his all, he even took advice and that's no easy feat at 14. yet, he is almost certain to be disappointed. This is one of those bittersweet mom moments. The more you love 'em the more your heart breaks.

So let's make it all about me and will him back to health so I don't feel so bad, hehe

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hug a Tree, Drink a Pint


My latest exciting find on etsy is onewintrynight. I am just loving these mugs! The fact that her customer service is stellar and her warm, friendly personality just shines through are added bonuses to these mugs that I just love, love, love.
What better way to stay warm all winter than to hug a treehugger mug full of coffee, cocoa or tea. Oh, and your secret is safe with me, I won't tell anyone that wassil your drinking is really Glugg.
So, once again, the pottery fetish has reared it's ugly head and I am addicted to the gorgeous purple/reds, blues and earthones in all of these pieces. Not to mention the leaf impressions. What a fantastic decoration for the table a casserole dish full of warm, creamy broccolli and rice or spinach souffle would make.
Could someone please call my husband and turn him on to this little shop? We all know he's not going to hunt through etsy himself. Not to mention, finding my favorites and then ordering from them. At this point, it's obvious that getting a gift I covet could actually kill me, but a girl can dream; especially at the holidays.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


show that tree a little love with one of these great felted ornaments by Ohsewhannah

The Holiday Season is irrevocably upon us. The tree has been going up for what seems an eternity. I have finally started shopping. I must admit, shopping in December is new to me. I am usually close to if not done shopping by now. The crowds make me crazy. I do enjoy the Christmas music, decorations and atmosphere though. I would always make at least one trip to the store at this time of year just to get that "silver bells" feeling. It is decidedly more enjoyable without the pressure of searching for the perfect gift.

Renegade was an funfilled experience yesterday also. Snow, blowing wind, no parking, huge crowds. Just what a good craft fair should be filled with. However, this is NOT and everday craft fair experience.
Mucca pazza
yet an experience to NOT be missed. What a fantastic treat!

But, I digress. I must get back to the mini lights and boxes of ornaments to be hung, along with stockings and holly and maybe a few cups of cheer. (OH crapstain, I think we drank all those last night). There is homework to finish, dinner to make, jewelry orders to complete and that Nekkid tree in my living room. Something just must be done about that Nekkid tree.
stay tuned for pictured of the transformation

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm a Renegade!

or at least I'm headed there. Today and tomorrow are the Renegade Art Fair in Chicago. I am headed out shortly in hopes of some great handmade finds for holiday gift giving, and myself of course.
I can't wait to meet some fellow etsians ther also. I already have choices picked out form shanasays ,

cookoorikoo


and ellembee.

Did I mention, lunch with the gals and no kids/husbands for the entire afternoon.

I am dancin' in my chair!
wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Friday, December 5, 2008

Awesome Wishes

How utterly adorable are these?

by bubbletime
and trust me, so is their creator. Bubbletime is a shop full of surprises and cuteness and adorable items for children of any age ( you know. That 1 to 99 thing Nat sang about). Well this kid wishes for these cuties to adorn her holiday decorations someday.
I started talking about wishes the other day and somehow got a little sidetracked. It must have been the pottery. If you know anything about me, you know I love, love, love pottery. ( and glass, and jewelry, and.....) Well, that list does goe on and on. My glass fetish doesn't stop at beads or the above mentioned for that matter. You see, I have an affinity for many things handmade. Here are a few of my latest desires

by sticknymph
and just to make things even better, I recently discovered that sticknymph art is available on cafepress in many other forms. woot.


by clandestinearts
I do believe my tree needs a few of these designs. It truly gives a whole new meaning to fold and cut, don't you think?

but who could resist this dude?

by Studiomarcy
reserved for another breaks my heart, but I covet none the less. (I wonderif marcy could be persuaded to make a pen full of these coolest of swine?)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Baby it's Cold Outside

Someday I'll figure it out, but for now I'll have to link it

I am really feeling the bone chilling today. 11 degrees. It's just too cold! Nothing by Chicago winter standards but each year I seem less able to bear winter. Maybe I'm just getting old.
Now, my 11 year old had a great idea the other day. Snow in summer. See, he loves the snow and ice skating, sledding, building snow men and forts and all other fun winter activities. He gets that from his mom. It's the cold we share a dislike of. Why can't we do all those fun things and not freeze out keisters off?

Oh, to be 11 again. At 11, I probably still dreamt of the possibility of Mr. Peabody's way back machine. I know I did plenty of dreaming. Oh, the things you can think of when you have innocence, imagination and time. At least I still have the fun of hearing my kid's dreams and imaginations. Today it is this.




Not just another in the long line of drawings, doodles and rambling my boys covet (and store all over the house, the car, their school lockers, etc). This is a full blown, Inconvenient Truth inspired, renewable energy system
compliments of Erik C Johnson.

I really have to make a mental not to share more of them with all of you. These boys of mine can really be quite entertaining.


What, you're still looking for an explanation?
Why it's a lightning harness. Can't you tell? It captures all the lightning and distrubutes the massive energy to all the wires running through town.
Oh, no! don't worry about the voltage or heat or sporadic, unknown location of the source at any given time, He's got it all figured out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Are You Smarter Than a............

5th grader? 7th grader? How about a 2nd grader?

Now, as a substitute teacher with fair intelligence and a history of decent grades (effort of course could have improved them, but past posts indicate my propensity for being a punk), I can make it through most assignments. Truthfully, I can usually do much more than babysit and enjoy it.
I still have the ability to figure slope and slant, teach the FOIL system to help a kid with the distributive property. Heck, I can even get through teaching a Spanish lesson on indirect objects.
Today, however, I may have met my match. I always thought it would be Algebra or Geometry that brought me down but I do believe it is science. Molecules, atoms, amino acids, protein strands, etc.
Not completely foreign to me, I do understand what these things are. Through many years of dieting and nutrition reading (yes, knowing it and practicing it are very different) I can expound on the benefits of eating complete protein strands in a meal. I can follow along while watching Alton Brown **swoon** explain the reaction of an acid on a protein, etc. Believe me, if knowing and understanding were equal to doing, I would be a size 3!
So, how did this skunk me, you may ask. Well, today, they are actually building molecular structures of varying foods. Yep, the actual amino strands, etc. I may know what they are, how they work, the need and purpose but constructing them properly is a whole new ball game. Even in the depths of my brain, I am at a loss for some background knowledge here. I am wondering the purpose of needing to learn this in depth of a subject at 12 years old but I'm sure there is. I don't know that I have needed to use this information over the years but I am sure it has some purpose.
with that, I return to my reading. Who says you don't relearn something new everyday?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Wishbook


Do you remember the "Wishbook"? It would arrive in the mail just around this time of year and all the kids would clamour for a view. Each of us would have our trusty sheet of notebook paper on which to write our list, not to mention our own system of prioritizing our hearts desires.
Many a letter to Santa (and grandma) was born from the pages of that thick as the phonebook Sears and Roebuck catalog. By the dawn of the new year it was tattered and torn, marked in and dogearred. For my siblings and I, it was the Christmas dreammaker. From a new pair of skates to an Easybake oven, that was the place to find it, mark it and add it to the list.

Well, times have changed and this lovely desktop contraption has moved our global existence into a new frontier. We now have the ability to make wishlists around the world and for all to see. This makes me wonder how discerning I need to be on my wishlists.
You see, my wishlists are not just my wishlists anymore. I tend to use them to mark things I am considering for others. I fill them with potential purchases in an effort to make one shipment purchases. Then there's etsy. Oh, the myriad of reasons for that list of favorites. treasuries, gifts, supplies, admiration and plenty of my own desires. I hope and encourage many to look to this list for shopping inspiration. It meets all the requirements.
Buy Handmade
I'm sure to like it
Probably One-of-a-Kind
Support independent artists
Get to know etsy better
It's full of awesome choices

So, when people ask me what I want for Christmas, I generally don't have an answer. No Wishbook list these days,though, it could still happen given the right catalog full of magic (oh wait, I have that in etsy and handmadefuzion )I often reply these days with "nothing. Well, you can always check my favorites on etsy".
I may end up getting items I think are perfect for others, or look great in a certain treasury but the bottom line is, I will still love them. There is just no limit to the possibilities.