Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Punk Snowman

For my birthday, I got to spend the day with my two boys. Normally, I would have been thrilled, but today was the second day in a row that school was closed due to a winter storm. Let's just say the boys didn't behave quite as perfectly as I would have liked. Sadly, the boys had a case of cabin fever that could only be cured by playing outside, so as soon as it stopped raining (which it did all morning until a little after 2:oo pm) we bundled up and went outside.

Kendall, below, built a "punk snowman". What Mom could ask for a nicer 40th birthday present?

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Perhaps the Internet Hasn't Killed the English Language After All...

I had a post all planned for today and even posted a part of it on my IndiePublic page, but then I saw this video, and just HAD to write a post about it instead.

There are three sisters, Lizz, Alexandra and Invisisis (she's invisible because she's only 12), who have a YouTube channel under the username sistersalad. They have made several videos, but this one is by far my favorite!

As many of you know, incorrect grammar and spelling are huge pet peeves of mine, and I really dislike it when people type in all caps. I don't think it's cute or clever to ignore capitalization or any of the other online offenses people commit in the name of brevity or expressing themselves. I understand if you're texting and are in a hurry, or don't have a full keyboard, but otherwise it doesn't seem to me like it should be all that difficult to manage to write things more or less correctly. Computers even have this lovely little feature called "spell check." Sadly, not enough people take the time to use it.

I've never been a fan of rap music. I have nothing against those who do, it's just not my thing. I do, however, have a soft spot for the Beastie Boys (yes, I know many people will tell me they're not really rap) and Sir Mixalot. The affinity for Sir Mixalot has much to do with the fact that he's from Seattle. So, in addition to the content of this video, the fact that it was set to a Sir Mixalot tune, gives me yet another reason to love it.

Judging by the number of views they've had, it seems others share this pet peeve of mine and perhaps there is still hope for the English language to be used correctly online after all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Homemade Hot Chocolate and Musings on a Snowy Morning

There's just something about snow that always seems to put me in a reflective mood. Perhaps, it's just because it elicits memories.

When I was young, my sister and I (and later our brother) could never wait to go out and play in the snow. We'd do all the typical things kids do in the snow - make snow angels, build snowmen, throw snowballs, sled... Once, we had grandious plans to build an igloo but never got very far before abandoning it for more fun pursuits. When we came in from the cold, Mom always had a steaming pot of homemade hot chocolate waiting for us. Somehow, it's not quite the same now that I'm older and have boys of my own. I take them out to play in the snow, get cold and often wet, then have to come in and make the cocoa myself.

The picture in this post was taken on January 18th, during our last good snowfall. This is my view while I sit at my computer typing. Snow still remains on the ground but most has melted. Today, it's beginning to snow again and if the weather forecast is to be believed we should have up to 6 inches before it's through. So, for all of you who'd like to make homemade hot chocolate of your own, here's the closest I've been able to get my Mom's recipe (she uses a big spoon to measure hers, not measuring cups):

Homemade Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. salt
5 cups water
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 cups milk

1) Combine sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large saucepan and mix well.

2) Add a small amount of water to the above mixture and stir until a paste is formed, then slowly add the rest of the water.

3) Bring mixture to a boil.

4) Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat, add the milk, and stir until everything is heated.

Use a ladle to pour into mugs, top with a marshmallow if desired, or some whipped cream, and enjoy!

For a more festive, adult version, stir a bit of Peppermint Schnapps into each cup (we called this version a Ski Lift when I was in college).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A New Year, a Fresh Start, and a Feature on Another Blog

Quail, in my parent's backyard, taken over Christmas.

Normally, the pictures I select to accompany my blog posts relate directly to the topic I'm writing about. I'm quite certain that the majority of you are wondering how the picture of the quail relate to anything. Keep reading, and by the end of the post, the meaning behind the picture should be clear.

I find myself, at the beginning of each new year, reflecting on the past year and making plans for improvements in the year ahead. I've never really been one to make official resolutions, but do have what I like to think of as "New Year's Good Intentions". I feel as if I'd be setting myself up for failure to resolve to do something as things never quite go as I fully intend.

So, here I am, with January already practically past. I had intended to write at least one blog feature each week, but have been so busy with other of my New Year's Intentions that this is the first chance I've had to write all month. On the upside, my studio space is slowly taking shape, new art projects that had previously only existed in my mind (or as I like to call it "the other world I live in where the sky is purple") are steadily coming to life, and a dear crafty friend (Lynne of Charmed by Nature) taught me how to use silver metal clay. If silver metal clay was more affordable, I fear a new craft addiction may be forming, but for now I'm focusing on incorporating polymer clay sculpting into my work. Once I become more confident with working with clay, I'll return to the silver metal clay. Lynne wrote about it on our Etsy Pittsburgh Team blog after she first worked with it, so please check out her post if you're curious about working with this fascinating material.

Not only is January the first month of the new year, but it's also my birthday month and this year I hit a big one. On next Wednesday, the 28th, I will turn 40. I don't feel old, but the number is a bit daunting, and I know many people will tell me that I'm not old at all. I feel like I've finally begun to figure out what I want to be when I grow up though, so I suppose I can seek solace in that fact. I feel that I'm finally allowing my creative voice to be fully heard and am no longer listening to the little voice that tells me I can't do something. Instead, I choose to forge ahead and try. I figure the worst that can happen is a glorious failure, but from our worst failures come our greatest successes.

I feel as if I've achieved a small measure of success already this year. On Friday, January 16th, I was featured on The Handicrafter, a blog about the world of arts and crafts. My Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock Earrings were selected as one of the Top 10 Handcrafted Picks. I always feel incredibly honored whenever I am chosen to be featured, and am grateful to The Magickal Ewe for choosing one of my items for the Top 10 list.
Still asking yourself what the picture has to do with any of this? The picture is symbolic of fresh starts and resourcefulness, and serves as a reminder to stop to enjoy the simple beauty present in the world around us. Resourcefulness is a trait I admire, and something I strive toward. Quail, in my opinion, are a stellar example of this trait. When this picture was taken, my mother and I had been sitting on her couch, enjoying the view from her family room. Even though it had been a few days since the last snowfall had covered the ground in a blanket of white, everything still looked fresh and new. Suddenly, we noticed a large group of quail, making their way down her hillside, foraging for food. Shortly after, it started snowing and several new inches of snow soon covered the ground. The quail could sense the impending snowfall and knew they needed to forage for food while they could still find it. This is just one of the many miracles nature constantly reveals to us if we only pay attention. I use this image to serve as a reminder that fresh starts are possible and to make the most of each moment while being mindful of the future.


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