Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Cold Thrill of the Deal

Last week we purchased a brand new Cuisinart ice cream maker off Craigslist. The previous owner had received it as a wedding gift and never used it. We took that treasure off their hands for $30.

Today we are making our first batch of frozen, delicious goodness. We're starting out with the basic recipe included, but I'm sure we'll make quite a few modifications as we experiment. 
Look at that deliciousness. Nothing but milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and cold. Simply wonderful.

And since this is a series of experiments I feel completely comfortable calling this activity science. 

Thankful Day 4

I am thankful I live in a country where I get to vote. Simple, but true. 

Friday was the last day of early voting and while J was at his Web Design class I went to cast my ballot. I guess everyone in the free world had the same idea judging by the lines.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I drove in to the parking lot and nearly ran over a campaigner (shame that) to take one of the few spots left to park. I was at the same time horrified by the line and proud as all get-out that so many people were there to vote. 

After an hour of waiting and voting, I took my "I Voted Early" sticker and left with a full heart and tired feet.

I am blessed.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankful Day 3

Today I am thankful for my mom. Well, I'm thankful for her every day, but today I will say it loud and proud. My parents divorced when I was 2 so we have always been close. There was a brief teenage rebellious period on my part, but with surprising little fanfare we transitioned to an adult relationship. 

My mom is someone I can tell anything to and not worry about her reaction. I laugh until I cry when I'm with her. We spend a lot of time sewing, thrift store shopping and eating out. All the things you'd do with a BFF. Pretty cool that my bestie is also my mommy.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful Day 2

I am thankful that I get to spend so much time with my sons.

I left my job after I had my first son back in 1999. I actually went on maternity leave at the end of 1998 because of complications with my pregnancy. I had fully intended to return to work after my 12 weeks of leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, but my plan wasn't the one we were to follow. 

After 36 hours of labor my OB informed me that I wasn't progressing as much as she would like. Actually what she said was the baby via c-section since his fetal heart rate was showing signs of distress and I agreed by telling her I didn't care if he came FedEx just make sure he's okay. Within 10 minutes I was under the bright surgical light. We spent the next 8 days in NICU and then the fool hospital sent that helpless baby home with us. What were they thinking?!

The first week was spent in the hospital so by the time 8 weeks rolled around I wasn't sure I could turn my baby over to someone else. My husband knew at this point that I wouldn't be going back to my job, but he had to wait for me come to that conclusion on my own. I was a child of the Working Girl 80's and I could do it all! 

But I didn't want to it all. I wanted to do with less to be able to stay home with my baby and then later with my second baby.

This month marks my 14th year at home with my kiddos. I've done work along the way that has allowed me to remain involved and available in their lives. I surely haven't made a lot of money, but I think the time together has been worth it. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Day 1

Today starts the annual "30 Days of Thankful" and I'm getting in just under the wire. 

I am thankful for my big crazy family. I love that a Sunday lunch with my husband's side of the family is 25 people. I love that we the ladies on my mom's side of the family meet once a month for lunch. Not a lot of people can say they know their aunts, uncles and cousins from their great-grandparents down. 

I grew up with cousins that were as close as siblings and we always have a session of "remember when" the times we get together now. We've all stayed pretty close to home so the family roots are deep and wide. 

For all this I am thankful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Costumes

This is where I would show you the cute costumes my kids are wearing for Halloween this year. Well, if they were wearing them at all. It seems 12 and 14 years have no interest in tapping their inner zombie. Luckily for me I have a 31 year old brother who has no such reservations. 

On Wednesday my little brother comes over to drop off a t-shirt and his vision of his Captain America costume. He wants to go more "old school" C.A. a la The First Avenger. It's more of a military look than tights and a cape.

 This is what I came up with for his top. He already had the cargo pants, jacket, helmet, goggles and shield (doesn't everyone).  My mission was cut out and stitch out a star, create the red & white torso and get it all done in a day. 

Done! So now who's the superhero?

Fine he can be the superhero this weekend, but I'm taking my day.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thrift Store Score: Vera Bradley Bag

I went shopping at Savers! It was a 50% off day and look what was on the rack. 
Yes indeed, that is a new-with-tags Vera Bradley Hipster bag. It's from the Purple Punch collection, which is now retired, but so very cute! 

Now if I could just find a Vera Bradley eyeglass case for my readers. I've broken three pairs recently and it's getting expensive!

Thanks for letting me share!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Huntsman: Feline Edition

Doesn't he look sweet? How could an angel like this possibly do anything wrong?

Pretty easily as it turns out. All the lizards, birds and even the squirrels have been talking about "El Loco Lucky". They're saying he's a mama's boy and is trying to please the alpha cat.
That would be me. Unfortunately.  

It would be okay if the cat didn't love me quite as much as he apparently does. This is the third "present" he's left for me this week. Thankfully this time he decided there was no point in continuing to try to teach me how to hunt and finished the job himself.
I bet you wish you didn't come visit today. Hey it's all about the good, bad and the ugly. Really ugly.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Thrift Store Score: Pressure Cooker

I have a stove-top pressure cooker, but I've been coveting an electrical version for at least a year. Sure I could let my impulse take over and just go buy one, but there's no sport in that purchase.

After I go see one of my clients each week I stop off at a thrift store in that area. It's one of my favorite haunts and the best deals I've found over the years have been at this particular store. 

And the tradition continues...

I was prepared to eventually throw down somewhere in the neighborhood of $100, but I've found a much better 'hood. The price you ask?

Yep, that's $12.51. For a brand new not-in-the-box Cook's Essentials pressure cooker (model number CEPC600S iffn you were interested) with the accessories (but minus the manual). I was able to download the manual online and took my new toy out for a culinary spin.
After 16 minutes in a water pressure bath this potato came out fork tender. I can't wait to try some Reduced For Quick Sale meat!

Thanks for letting me share.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

One of Life's Little Inequities

I don't say "it's not fair" very often. Hardly ever. Really not since I was just a wee one growing up on the rough (now hipster) streets of East Austin. My grandma told me that life wasn't fair and nobody ever said it would be. 

So as I was saying, I get it, life ain't fair. Still it's hard to get over how all of the pets over here at DBCC seem to have been given a bigger piece of the fair pie. 

It's been raining off and on for two days in Texas, not that I'm complaining; we need the rain, and the slug in everyone is coming out. I guess that includes the cat. There is thunder clapping outside of the window and Mimi is sleeping through it all.

It's not fair.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Even A Frog Wants to Feel Pretty

I love thrift stores. If this is news to you it shouldn't be to my husband of twenty years. Lately he's been telling me, nay warning me when I head out to the Treasure Stores that I am not to bring home any more chairs or tables. I'll admit I have brought home more than my fair share of chairs lately. I have a plan for each of them. Sort of. I know I want to paint and reupholster the chairs with fun fabric, but I'm a busy, busy girl and sometimes projects get pushed to the wayside.

Or the garage in this case.

Which is why I was told NOT to bring home another project to sit in the garage that I'm supposed to be cleaning out because we're having some major work done to the house after the first of the year. 

But I digress.

So I hit my very-favorite-thrift-store and saw a gorgeous rocking chair that would look great on my front porch once it had been painted. Still heeding my honey's parting words (and the fact the chair had a crack in one of the arms) I passed on the $14 deal. When I was walking away my eyes settled on this work of art.

Really there's no other way to describe him but to say he's lovely. Admittedly that's not what my husband said when he finally met Croqui, but no matter. Croqui and I had plans. 

A bit of cleaning and coat of primer then it was Go Time. The boys and I debated what color makeover our little frog friend should enjoy. I thought a watermelon pink would be fun, but neither boy was digging that color. Green it is, but they did agree that it would be a BRIGHT green. Not neon, bright.  

Tah-dah! Croqui is loving his new look! Hubby still wants to know why the hell we need a giant green wicker frog in our entry hallway.

For shoes of course. Duh. When we come in the front door we kick out shoes into Croqui's mouth and either sing the "Croqui" song from Dora the Explorer or call out "Frrrrooooooggggggyyyyy" from the Froggy books. 

And I will remind my husband that I brought home neither a table no a chair just as he requested. 

This time.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Searching for the Perfect Brownie Mix

I'm currently on the hunt for a brownie mix. Not from a box off the shelf, but the kind I mix here at home and then use as the craving dictates. Which is frequently.

I was inspired by Pinterest to make master mixes. I though I'd start off using a master mix to make a brownie mix. I started with Pioneer Biscuit & Baking Mix and the recipe on the side of their box.

The boys weighed in after the taste test and decided they were just fine. I planned to share a just-out-of-the-oven shot with y'all, but it's hit or miss around here getting to food before they do.

I'm not sure it's exactly what I was looking for since it was a bit more cakey than I was looking for, but if that's what does it for you then give this one a try. I'll keep looking and let you know what I find. In the mean time this will work nicely as a chocolate fix until we meet again.

2 1/2 C. mix
2 C. sugar
4 large eggs
1 C. pecans
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 C. butter (they say or margarine, but I don't think so)

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease 9x13 pan
Combine mix, sugar, eggs and pecans.
Melt together chocolate and butter.
Add to mix.
Stir until blended.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Sweet Geek Organizes

One of my favorite, well other favorite, hobbies is to decorate cookies. It's art on a cookie; how can that be a bad thing?

I haven't done a lot of decorating lately because it's hotter than Hades down here in Texas. Baking, or simply turning on an oven, is reserved for the months of October through April. If one must cook in during the hot months, one must use a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, a toaster oven or a standard oven at 3:00 a.m. I choose the first 3 options since the rest of the family is asleep and the sound of my mixer in the early morning hours might disrupt their REM.

What I can do during the summer is organize. And collect supplies. And take classes. And pin cookie ideas on Pinterest. Tons of fun to be had and not feel like you're a cookie in a 350 degree oven.

Today Z and I organized icing tips. We have two of those plastic boxes used for embroidery floss or beads that were collecting dust. We washed the boxes and then separated the tips by number. Since we don't have that many tips, or rather we use the same type pretty regularly, we organized in groups of 10. All the tips in the 40's went in one cubbie, the 50's in another and so on. 

We have the giant Wilton poster, but I think we'll put a picture of each of the designs the tip makes in the cubbie. I haven't quite figured out how we will accomplish this idea, but if we live with this for awhile I think the answer will come to me.

Thanks for playing.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

We Shall Call it Computer Science Day

Ah, the joys of opportunity. 

The MicroSoft store near our home was offering a workshop on their movie making software. For free. We like free. So since fun is more so with others we met up with other homeschooling friends to learn about editing video.

The plan was to drop the kids and then grab a coffee at the Starbucks across the street. Once the workshop started the grown-ups couldn't pull away. The basics of the editing a video covered the workshop leader went on to show us some really cool features of Windows 7. I can't wait to see what Windows 8 is going to bring. Hopefully they just add and not change the features since I've been impressed with the ease of use in Windows 7.

The other fun part of the day? The MS Store was promoting their new phone and offered to race me on my Android and my friend's iPhone to find information. Of course we both lost, not because our phones were lousy, but because we didn't have any idea how to use our phones to achieve the result. No matter. The MS store gave us each a $25 gift card just for being good sports. 

After we left the workshop we dropped by Sur la Table. Super cool gadgets, but a little pricey. 

Right outside the store we saw metal animals as art. I decided to get my peacock on and my friend, Tracy, snapped a picture of me in my feathered finest. I keep meaning to update my facebook page with this photo, but I forget. 

Thanks for visiting our little spot on the web!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Birthdays Are For Other People

I asked The Dad what he wanted to do for his birthday. He said he didn't care. Again. This is not at all a helpful guidance. 

Usually we keep birthdays low-key. We come from a big a family. Some people would call it extremely large. If you think that lunch for 25 (which includes only the brothers and sisters, their spouses and kids) large then I'll give you that one. The point is that with multiple birthdays every month the last thing the birthday adult wants to do is make it hard on others. The catch-22 is that we want to celebrate the Birthday Person.

This year the boys and I knew we wanted to get The Dad a tablet. He wanted one for play, but needed one for work. We're not an Apple family so the iPad was out (besides they're ridiculously expensive). After much research we decided on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10" version. 


J and I went to purchase the new toy the day before The Dad's birthday, because it wouldn't feel right if we didn't wait until the very last minute, and J hid it in his room. 

First I must say that the boys and I are night owls. I've tried to change, but I get a second wind at 10 p.m. and get so much accomplished it's hard to give up that productivity. The boys are in teenage-land so they're up all hours of the night regardless. 

The Dad on the other hand has a honest to goodness job that requires not only his physical presence, but his mental one too. Because of that he finds it necessary to go to sleep after the news. For some reason on his birthday, I'm guessing it had more to do with his excitement than the fact that we were still up making noise, The Dad woke up at 1:30 a.m. Not ones to let an opportunity pass we decided that since he was up anyway, and it was officially his birthday, we would present him with his present.

This totally looks like the face of a man who is not only pleased to be away at 1:45 in the morning, but also tickled by the thoughtfulness of his family. That's what we are telling ourselves anyway.

Happy birthday, hon! 


Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Menu Madness

I love it when I get up early and tackle the day. This morning I spent prepping food for the freezer and the weekly meals. One of my favorite finds is when stores reduce their meat for quick sale. It's a timing thing, but I've gotten some deals buying meat RFQS. 

This week boneless, skinless chicken breasts were RFQS down to $.98 a pound. I had a Dr. Pepper sauce that was also on clearance with coupon. Put the two together  marinate in the fridge for an hour and then transfer to the freezer. With the other breasts I sprinkled lemon pepper and added oil and vinegar to the back. It marinated and moved to the freezer with it's Dr. Pepper buddy. Later I'll cook the DP chicken in the slow cooker and pour over rice. I'll probably grill the lemon pepper chicken and serve it with pasta or quinoa. 

The other think I do at least once a week is make beans. I use pinto beans in a pressure cooker. I'd like to get an electric pressure cooker, but what I have is the stove top version. Some people are afraid of using a stove top pressure cooker, but this is what I learned on, this is what I've always used so no fear! The only reason I want the electric version is that it gets hotter than Hades in Texas during the summer and not having to turn on the gas stove to make something I make all the time would be super. 

Once I'm done with the beans I use them for a main dish (ground beef, beans & cornbread), a side dish (enchiladas with rice & beans) and then I blend what's left for a meatless meal (tostadas or loaded nachos). Beans go a long way and they're relatively inexpensive. Sometimes I mix it up and do black beans, but for the most part pinto beans are part of our weekly repertoire. 

I didn't take a picture, but I did make a master mix for quick breads and biscuits. I made it with flour I got on clearance because the packaging changed. I don't care what the package looks like because I decant most of my bulk into large food storage containers. I love a bargain!

Thanks for joining me in my productivity!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mid-century Table Redo

Years ago when my grandmother was moving from her home to a retirement community she gave her table with a black & white metal top and seriously painted over wood. It was wobbly and the drawer was being held together by duct tape. 

My grandmother passed away on 28th birthday, while I was pregnant with my first son. I lost 3 grandparents in the space of a year (my maternal grandfather had died back in 1984) so the items that I have from my grandparents are all the more special to me. It's probably for that reason that I've been afraid to redo this table. 

This is a picture taken at my MIL's birthday dinner a few years ago. That's my beautiful SIL on the left, me in the middle and my MIL on the right. Next to my MIL is a hand that points to the table. What table you ask? Yeah, I know, but for as long as I've had this thing I can't believe I don't have a better picture. Still you get the idea.

See the hand pointing to the table?
I've had this table in various places in my home over the years. I've moved it to different homes at least three times and around my current home annually. I've always thought that I'd put my own touch to it, but like I said, I was scared of ruining it. Finally this year, with the creation of our homeschool classroom I decided to just tackle the project. 

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Some sanding, a coat of primer, more sanding, 3 coats of Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze and top of clear coat. I repeated the process with the drawer using Krylon Banner Red. I had left over metallic silver auto paint from a car we had long since sold so I used it up by touching up the handle. 

While I was painting the table I repaired the broken drawer with wood glue and small finishing nails. The Dad helped me by tightening the rusted bolts that were making the table wobble.

I'm really pleased how this came out. Thanks for checking out the lasted and greatest around these parts.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Week Back to School in the Books


That's me breathing a sigh of relief that our first week of school is done. We homeschool so "back to school" is when we make it.  I decided that since, in Texas where we live, it's hotter than Hades we might as well school while it's hot and play when the weather is nicer.

In anticipation of starting back to our school routine, we've relocated our classroom. We were at our individual computers because we were using an online program, but the boys are not quite ready for self-enforcement. That's okay, it's a tough one to learn, but in the mean time I needed to put them where I could work and monitor their lessons. The answer was the formal dining room. 
If you know us even a little bit, you know that we are not the formal dining room type. So we moved things around, added some light, set up a work system and tah-dah...a classroom! The boys weren't nearly as excited as I was, but the space is functional and, as their dad reminds them, there's always public school. That always seems to give them a slice of perspective.
The work boxes where the boys pick up their assignments for the day.
We are more of a School at Home homeschooling family. I think some people might call it "eclectic" too because I do use curriculum for math and language arts (grammar, handwriting, writing and vocabulary), but we do unit studies for science, social studies, geography and History. I send my kids to classes and workshops for elective classes. 

I have to admit that I'm totally geeked out about this white board. I found it at the local used business supply store. It's not really white, but more gray/beige. It's not so um, striking as a normal dry-erase board. And I can stick things to it with cute magnets. Love it! Squee.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the tour!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Life Gets in the Way

::taps microphone::

Testing 1..2..3...testing...1..2..3...

Is anyone still there? I would be surprised if y'all were around anymore. I've been mostly gone for a year. I would have given up on me too. But if you are still around I wanted to say good to see you! So where have I been, you ask? A few things kept me busy:

Working - Self-employment, but still working for clients. I started bookkeeping again last April. It's been awhile since I've been in the accounting biz and the recall curve was mighty. For me at least. Also the work-life balance (or rather the lack of) threw me off completely. I had to adjust how I lived based on reports that were due, forms that must be filed by a certain date and exactly how long it took to get these things accomplished.

Homeschooling - At the end of 2011 I brought my boys home to school. I work from home so they can surely school from home. There were a lot of reason and some of them are on another blog, but I will continue to reflect on this subject. I started blogging the adventures on another site, but I've decided I'm not one of these people that can maintain multiple, dedicated blogs. I'll do my best to label so feel free to sort based on your interests. I'll probably refer back to some of the items on the homeschooling blog, but going forward all fun and games can be found right here at A Disco Ball in a Chicken Coop.

Projects - Yes, in spite of everything going on I still found time to craft, sew and repurpose all kinds of things. I thrifted and spray painted and altered regularly, I even took pictures of many projects, but I just didn't find time to blog it all. Now that we're back together again I hope to share with y'all some of the crafty goodness.
Meet JayZ
So I leave you today with an introduction to my office/studio mate, Jay Z. The Blogress has Beyonce so it seemed fitting that my mascot (given to me by a bookkeeping client) would be keeping with the theme of mega-mogul, singing fowl. Don't you agree?


Friday, May 4, 2012

Longhorn Wedding Garter

I wanted to share the special order garter that I made last year. Last year you ask? Well I was waiting for the bride to show all her pictures first so that I didn't steal her thunder. Now that it's been over a year I feel pretty safe sharing.

The bride had been looking for a University of Texas Longhorn garter at all the traditional outlets, but she didn't come up with anything. I had the ribbon on hand from some other project and I had white lace and satin to spare so I whipped these two custom garters. 

I made one bridal garter and one garter to toss. The bride's keepsake garter had a bit more detail and I added her initial (she was taking his last name) to fancify. Fancify IS a word in Texas thankyouverymuch. 

So there you go. Thanks for stopping by for a visit.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mad Science

What happens when Daddy gets his hands on a block of dry ice? Science experiment, of course.

The boys (and I do mean all 3 of them) trolled the internet to find a suitable (read, diabolical) process. Hypotheses were made and lab equipment gathered. And by lab equipment I mean my giant stainless steel bowl that I make cookie dough in and my kitchen tongs.

In the end their hypothesis did turn out to be correct. The dry ice and water did not explode, but it surely did get steamy. I wanted to know where the wicked witch was that went with that cauldron? 

My ever-safe teenager is concerned that they're not following proper lab procedure. I don't think he envisioned the trampoline as the site of scientific discovery. 

The experiment that the boys did is the "fog effect". I wish they had a laser light to create a rock show atmosphere. I guess it was enough that we had 80's music playing in the background. 

Look at her bubble!
You'll note that eventually I made them move to solid ground. I just felt safer with them on tierra firma or at least brick pavers. 

J looking concerned.
Thanks for stopping by to play.