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?