Saturday, August 24, 2013


A few posts ago I posted about my day.  A few days later, one of the blogs I love to read posted about how she laughs when she reads blogs make the author's life sound perfect.  She then proceeded to tell us some of her faults.

I'm pretty sure her posting wasn't a comment on my blog (she probably doesn't even read my humble postings!) but I thought about it.  I thought about my failures, my faults and the little things that make me the loveable person I am (you can chuckle here).  I started writing this blog to share ideas and (confession) to make some money.  I have done both (one more than the other!)

So, in an effort to be blatantly honest and upfront and so you get to know me a little better, I am going to share.

1.  Many Most of my projects don't turn out like I had envisioned them.  Actually, almost all do not.  I have an idea for a project and it's perfect in my head.  My methods are not perfect.  They're sloppy.  Most times I am happy with the outcome.  If I'm not happy, I can usually live with it.  If I can't, I usually toss it or pass it along to my daughter to try to do something with.

2.  I love to eat out.  I like to cook but I like to eat out more.  We eat out more than we should because my husband is sweet and knows how much I love it.  There's something about food that you don't make.  It tastes better.  As I type this, Firehouse Subs is making sandwiches for my family.  I will have to save this draft and go get them in a minute.
The Italian.  Notice the grapes?  My attempt to "healthy it up" for the kids.
3.  If you ever come to my house, chances are that it will look clean.  Don't open up any closets or any rooms with the door closed, though.  I love clean, organized rooms but I hate the "upkeep" it takes to get there.  I try to tackle a closet or a room or a drawer once a week and get it organized.  It doesn't happen often.  It's easier to just keep the doors closed.

Yes, my shoes look like this again.  I have the rods but they're empty.  It's easier to toss them in the closet.
 4.  I hate to drive.  I hate it with a passion.  I would rather get a ride or walk.  The roadtrips I take every year with the kids?  I DREAD them.  It's the driving, not the actual visit.  I would rather fly but, holy cow, it's not cheap!  So we drive.

5.  When I hurt myself badly, I push air between my teeth and my cheeks and make fart noises.  It doesn't help with the pain, at all, but it gives me something to focus on other than my broken toe or gushing cut on my hand.  Plus, it's kind of funny so my kids always laugh and my daughter has one of those laughs that you want to laugh with.  That does help with the pain.  Unfortunately, the fart noises are a habit so I've been know to push air between my teeth and cheeks in public which really embarrasses my giggling kids.

6.  I'm lazy.  I will take the easy way each and every time, unless it breaks the law.  (I'm also one of those people who NEVER, EVER break the law. . . the prospect of jail is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.  I don't even speed.  Never had a speeding ticket.)  Back on topic. . . I'm lazy.  I don't understand why people take twenty minutes to do something that takes three minutes when the outcome is the same.  (This could be the reason for confession number one.)

7.  I hate my birthday, Halloween, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving.  I hate my birthday because the fuss embarrasses me.  I hate Halloween because it's kids begging for candy.  Most times they don't even have manners when they're doing it.  I hate Valentine's Day because it's sappy and stupid and I was always the kid whose Valentines were tossed because I didn't put candy in mine.  I hate Mother's Day because of the fuss towards me. . . though I always make a fuss for my mom.  I hate Thanksgiving because it's two days of cooking for an hour long eating fest and the leftovers are overwhelming.

Lots of safety pins and a crap-load of glue holds Princess Leia's outfit together. 
8.  I hate talking on the phone, especially when I feel like I have to.  I will email the crap out of you but, please, don't expect you can call me and talk for an hour.  It's not my idea of a good time.  I hate the obligatory phone calls my husband thinks we need to do on the holidays to all of our extended family.  I generally send people a text and have him call the ones who don't get texts.  I do text. . . I can talk to someone without actually talking to them.

9.  I punish my kids by taking away minutes from their bedtime and I let them earn it back through "hard labor".  This means I get chores I need to do done by them.  I will admit that there are times I feel exceptionally lazy (see number six) and have assigned penalties for things I would normally ignore just so they want to earn the time back.

10.  I have a weak stomach.  When my kids hurt themselves, I close my eyes and have them look and let me know if there's blood.  If they vomit, I do, too.  If I hurt myself, I will make my kid look and tell me how bad it is before I look at it.

There you have it!  I stopped at ten. . . that should be enough to convince those that don't know me that I'm not perfect.  If you do know me, you know perfection isn't even a goal of mine, let alone reachable!  I've "confessed".  I feel that I've met the challenge that my favorite blogger unknowingly tossed at me. . . but in my own way - laying in bed, eating a sub sandwich and letting the dog lick my plate while my son unloads the dishwasher.  Perfect.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

So You're Taking a Roadtrip. . . .

Every summer, I take the kids and drive two days to visit my parents for a week.  We do this without my husband since vacation time is at a premium in the summertime for his job.  Every year, I have people who shudder and ask how I do it.  I've been blessed with two very good travelers but I do have a few tips and hints that I will share.

Before the trip:

~Get your car ready.  I always take it into the dealer for a tire rotation and an oil change.  While I am there, I tell the mechanic that I am leaving on a twelve hundred mile road trip without my husband and to please let me know if there is anything I need to be aware of.  The wonderful mechanics at our dealership always take a little longer to go over my car and make sure things are working well.
~Pack several bags.  I have our big bag with all of our clothes that I take on the trip.  I also have a smaller duffel bag that I pack for the hotel during the trip.  I don't want to have to unload the car at the hotel and reload it the next morning, all for a change of clothes.  When we get to the hotel, I pull out my duffel bag and we're set for the night.
~I give each of the kids their own bag to pack.  This bag sits at their feet and is filled with their things they want for the trip.  They pack books, games, headphones and iPods themselves.  They are responsible for it.  I also make them pack their own charger and they are responsible for charging their devices at night.
~Toss a case of bottled water into the car.  This saves us a TON of money.  The kids drink it during the trip and we don't end up buying drinks at gas stations.  We also do a lot of hiking and outdoorsey things while we are gone and having a disposable water bottle saves me a lot of heartache.  It's not as cost effective as it could be if we used washable water bottles but it's definitely not as big of a deal if/when one is lost.
~ Make hotel reservations.  Join a point club, if you aren't already a member.  We are Hilton Honors members for when we travel without the dog and Comfort Inn members for when we do.

Packing for the trip:

~As stated, I pack a duffel for the hotel and a big bag for our trip. 
~Pack enough.  Idaho has the ability to experience all four seasons in one day so I have to bring a variety of clothing!  I make sure to have at least one sweatshirt and pair of jeans per person so I don't end up buying something if they're too cold.
~Load your car the night before.  I have a small tote bag with my "everyday" stuff.  I use it the morning of my trip to get ready so I just toss everything in there and throw it in the back of the car the morning of.  Everything else is packed.  The Everyday Stuff Bag also goes into the hotel room.  It has my contacts, curling iron, make up, shampoo, conditioner, hair brushes, deodorant and a few other odds and ends.  I also put everyone's toothbrushes in there.
~Pack a place for dirty clothes.  I bring a hamper that folds flat because it grosses me out to put dirty clothes with clean ones.  A bag would work, too. . .
~Pack shoes in a separate duffel.

During the trip:

~Fill up with gas the night before you leave.  It sucks to stop before you start!
~Make a plan for fuel and food.  Since it's just me and the kids, I will pull into a gas station and I will fill up.  We then hit a drive thru for lunch and stop at the next rest area down the road to pee.  I don't like having the kids wandering around a gas station waiting for the bathroom.  I don't travel at night and, where we travel, the rest stations are well used so I feel safe enough.
~Pack for your drive.  Are you a good driver?  Do you get tired?  I have a little box that I have sunglasses, wipes, water, tea, my cell phone, my iPod, sunflower seeds, empty cups and kleenex and it travels right next to me.  I chew on sunflower seeds and straws when I am bored (I know. . . ) and I sing along to my iPod (which is why the kids have headphones).  It keeps me awake and alert.  I also walk when we stop at the rest areas.
~Check In.  Make sure someone is expecting a phone call from you when you stop for the night and when you get there.  It's a safety thing.

You are there!  You've had a fantastic vacation. . . . now what? 

The return trip:

~Wash laundry or not?  I pack for five days and plan on washing mid-stay.  Dirty clothes are tossed into the hamper I've brought with us.  Mid trip, I wash clothes and put them back into the suitcase.  At that time, I also set out two outfits. . . one to pack into the Hotel Duffel and one to have for the first day on the road.  We wear the rest of the clothes during the rest of our vacation.  The night before we leave, I toss everything (dirty or not) into the suitcase and load it into the car.  The Hotel Duffel is already packed and the outfit for the next day is laid out.
~Restock your box.  I always make sure to have enough tea and sunflower seeds.
~Make your reservations!
~Gas up the night before you leave.

A few tips:
1.  Pack a power strip.  The hotels usually have only one or two accessible outlets.  The kids fight over the remaining ones after I plug in my iPod and my phone.  We fixed this by bringing a power strip with us.
2.  Pack a pillow and a small blanket for everyone.  This means I can blast the AC and no one cares. . . they're cuddled up in the backseat!
3.  Pack a few washcloths and hand towels.  Also pack baby wipes and Clorox wipes.  Things will spill.  If you give the kids the means to take care of their mess, they will.  You won't have to pull over.
4.  Stop when you are tired.  Walk a bit.  Wake up.  Stop for the night if you have to.
5.  Stay at hotels with indoor pools.  You are exhausted.  Your kids are wired.  Toss them in the pool and lounge in a chair by the edge.  I will usually dangle my legs in the hot pool while the kids are playing in the regular pool.
6.  At the hotel, insist that everyone bring their headphones into the room.  I turn off my light and go to sleep early when I've been traveling but the kids aren't tired.  I let them lay in bed and play their iPods with their headphones.  It's a special treat and it doesn't keep me awake.  They are tired in the morning but they're not driving!

I'm sure there are a ton more tips and tricks people use when traveling.  I'd love to hear them!

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Blog Title

Just a quick update. . .

If you followed my other blog. . . the one with bulletin boards and other boring teacher stuff. . . I want you to know I changed the address.  And the title.  And, in a few days, the banner.  Oy.

My old blog with the new title is: (drumroll, please) TEACH THE BITS AND BYTES.  You can find it here:

Someone suggested that I change my name so people can figure out that I'm a technology teacher from the title.  She suggested it would make it easier for people to find me.

She's right.  I appreciated the comment and I got to thinking.

I wanted something that reflected the tech part.  And something that was witty.  And something that was a tad funny.

That title was taken.

So were the next twenty I thought of and tried.

This one was available and I kind of liked it.  Change your bookmarks!  Update your Google Reader.  We've moved on from making them think to teaching the bits and bytes.  It's a good move.

See you all there!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cleaning an Outdoor Rug

I have the prettiest rug for my patio.  It's an indoor/outdoor rug and I love the colors.  I love the feel.  I love the look. 

It got gross.

See the ick?  There's mildew and mold and rust and dirt and grass and gross on the rug.  It wasn't pretty anymore.

I took it out to the driveway and hosed it off.  That didn't do much.

I sprinkled some Comet bathroom cleaner on it and scrubbed it in using the brush I use in the bathtub.  I let it sit in the sun for a few hours.  I rinsed and let it dry. . . .

It didn't do a thing for the rust but the rest off the grossness is gone!  Yeah!

If I do it again:

I'll probably go straight bleach and hope it doesn't ruin the rug.  Mildew really grosses me out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Curtains: Thinking Outside the Box

This project was created by my lovely sis.  While visiting my folks, my sister broke the thirty year old mini blinds they had hanging in the guest room.  Whoops!
We packed up the kids and headed to WalMart to buy some replacement blinds.  At some point, they quit manufacturing blinds that were two feel long by fifty some odd inches wide.  The widest we could find was 48 inches.  Custom blinds were too expensive so she decided to go the curtain route.

Curtains were also impossible to find in those crazy dimensions so she planned on shortening two sets since there are two crazy dimensioned windows in the room.

Instead, she found these.

Way too long but super cheap.  The stripe goes length-wise.

She bought a set of two, folded each panel in half. . . .
. . . cut. . .

. . . . pressed a new casing for the curtain rod. . . .

. . . sewed it up and hung.

Purdy!  These actually turned out great and at the perfect length.  Of course, dad managed to fix the blinds so the curtains were completely unnecessary but they look very nice and darken the room for little ones' naps.

She even did such a great job measuring that the stripes line up when closed.  That is something that I would (1) never be able to do and (2) wouldn't particularly care about but (3) think looks great!  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marshmallow Frosted Brownies

I love baked sweets.  A lot.  I especially love things if they are squishy.  It's a texture thing, I think.

I have some squishy brownie mixes.  They're a tad bland so I like to frost them with marshmallows.

Make your brownies up and bake.  Five minutes before you are to take them out of the oven they should look like this:

Take these:

and sprinkle a half a bag or so on top.

Pop them back into the oven for the remaining five minutes.

Almost done. . . .

. . . oh, yeah!


If I do it again:

If it wasn't summer and I wasn't trying to get these done fast so the oven didn't heat up the house more than necessary, I would pop them under the broiler to get that nice, brown, toasted marshmallow topping.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Day in the Life of Creative Thriftiness

I am often asked if I use all the stuff I make.  I was also asked how I find time to do what I do.  I thought I would share a day.  I picked a Sunday to share with you.  During the summer it's a typical day.
It's Sunday and the hubs has to work.  He works until midnight on Saturdays so I try to wait up for him.  This means I sleep in on Sunday.  The kids and I go to church on Saturday night so sleeping in is an option.

I woke up and stayed in bed until 10:00 reading the news and writing.  After that, I got up and mowed the lawn.

The kiddos helped out with the yard work.  My son used the weedeater and did a lot of the trimming.  Front and back yard. . . done!  We also do the neighbor's yard.  Her husband died a few years ago and it's a good lesson to teach the kids.  Done and done.

I came in and made lunch for the kids.

Yeah, not a lot of thought went into it.  For myself, I pulled the leftover copycat artichoke dip out of the fridge for my lunch. . . .

Too bad the kids think it's yucky.  My lunch wasn't wholesome, fat free or healthy but it was very, very good.
Old Chicago Copy Cat Artichoke Dip

1 12 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
1 brick cream cheese
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1 green onion
1/4 teaspoon creole salt (seasoned salt with a bite)
1/8 cup shredded Parmesan cheese.
couple shakes hot sauce

Whip your cream cheese in the mixer until a bit fluffy.  Add 1/8 cup of the marinade from the artichoke hearts.  Add the minced garlic, salt and hot sauce.

Chop the green onion fine, including the "green" parts.  Roughly chop the drained artichokes.

Mix artichokes, cheese and onion into the cream cheese mixture.  Put into a microwave safe bowl and microwave until hot and the cheese is melted. 

Serve with bread and vegetables.
After lunch I loaded up the dishwasher and started it, using my homemade dishwasher soap recipe.

While it was washing, I took out some beads from an old necklace that I had washed with vinegar and baking soda.  They dried for a week:

. . . and I turned it into a rosary for my sis.

I got to sit down and watch an NCIS rerun while I did this.  No rest for the weary, though. . .

My kitchen floor was covered in sticky yuckiness, thanks to my husband's midnight forage through the fridge.

Yuck.  Yuck.

I figured I needed to do it right so I cleared out the kitchen. . .

. . . and gave the floor a good scrubbing with my Citrus Vinegar. 

Not too bad!

I started a load of towels in the laundry using my laundry soap. 

We're getting ready for a trip so I started packing up the clothes my kids and a few toiletries.  I made up some lotion for myself since I was running low.

I found a smaller bottle to put it all in.

I ran the vacuum, using my carpet refresher.  

I made dinner a bit more wholesome than lunch.

Garlic Shrimp Skewers

1 cup olive oil
1/8 cup fresh minced garlic
hot sauce (I use the Chinese hot sauce and use a good squeeze of it)
Bag fresh, uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp

Put ingredients into a zip lock bag.  I put my shrimp in the bag frozen and thaw it in the refrigerator.  Marinade for at least an hour.  Thread the shrimp on to skewers and put on a hot grill, about five minutes each side or until cooked through.  Serve hot!

We had Raspberry Lemonade Cake for dessert (tutorial and recipe to come soon!)

After dinner found me folding the laundry and unloading the dishwasher.  The kids had their chores done so I made a few phone calls to plan a "play date" for tomorrow.

There was also an NCIS marathon on so I sat down and watched a bit of it while I folded clothes.  I want to be Ziva when I grow up!  Anyone know where I can take knife throwing lessons?

It was a great day!  Tomorrow will be a bit more relaxing and I should be able to get to some crafting after we swim!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wide Headband/Kerchief Tutorial

Did you see that cute headband my daughter was wearing?

It reminds me of the kerchief mom used to wear when we were camping.

Here's how to make your own!  You need some fabric and five inches of elastic.

Cut two pieces of fabric.  The first piece is 12 x 18 inches.  The second is 12 x 3 1/2 inches.

Fold both pieces of fabric lengthwise (like a hotdog) with the right sides touching.  Sew up the long sides of each.

Flip them both right side out and press flat with the seam you just made in the middle.

Take five inches of elastic.  I used one inch elastic.  Thread through your thinner casing and tack the elastic on both ends.

Fold the unsewn edges in about a half inch and press.

With the seams facing each other, sew the elastic piece on to each side in the middle.  You want the seams hidden by your head so they will face each other.

So that looks weird.  We will take some of the weirdness out by folding the edges in.

Sew in place.

I found this easier to do with the "ugly" side facing out.  You will have to flip it over before wearing.

If I do it again:

I will make it thinner for myself.  This looked really weird on me but totally cute on her!  We will also make more with some different fabric. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Taking Off Some Length

I found this skirt:

My professional photographer got me mid stride.

And mid turn.  I gave up and took it off.  Here it is on the table.

It was too long, the waistband had some weird fake tie thing on it and the elastic was a quarter inch wide.  Weird.

I chopped off the top.

I then folded it over and sewed it to make a new casing for the elastic.
 Leave a space to thread your elastic through.

Measure out your elastic and thread it through. 

Sew the elastic together, sew up your "hole" and wear it!  It's now a great length!  I'd try it on an show you a pic but my photographer had to go to bed.  Maybe next time. . .

If I do it again:

I would sew the elastic right to the fabric instead of making a casing.