Thursday, January 27, 2011

She's Got Brass Balls

And now, the first winner of our Brass Balls award has one to show it off to the world.  This award recognizes "an exemplary post that took an amazing amount of guts to not only type out but put out there for the world to see".   When we introduced this award I wrote "There are plenty of people looking for attention through drama...but you can sense real from a mile off."  It actually smacks you across the face and leaves you stunned.  You feel the person's experience seep into you and it leaves you changed.

The first recipient is this post on Band Back Together titled "That Which is Left Behind, That Which Must be Said" by Guilty Squid. In her post she discusses the devastating loss of father's suicide, the isolation she felt because of it, and the taboo nature of suicide: 
"Suicide is a topic that no one wants to be connected to. People don’t want to talk about it. They can’t hear about it. They don’t want to comfort you because they don’t know how. It’s not something that they want to believe can happen to you. They don’t know what to say. They don’t have the answers either, and that makes it difficult for them."
Honest and raw, Guilty Squid confronts her past and a subject very few will discuss.  I encourage you to read the post in its entirety, as the point was to not only help others who have been in this situation, but to encourage those who may be on the brink to get help. 

Guilty Squid, this award is given to you for the touching, honest and helpful way your piece was written.  May it help others the way you intended.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Steeler Nation

Divine and Little Man's cooking class wraps up this week, so I spent the day helping them make all the recipes they hadn't yet.  Then taking pictures to record it.  Helped Divine complete her final project, which is to make an entire meal with recipes from the class.  She did a great job, but the piles of dishes loomed high after dinner. 

Truth be told, we'd made 6 recipes for the class.  I was dead tired. 

For those who don't follow sports, it's NFL football playoffs.  We're a Steeler house, which means my husband and Little Man were glued to the TV.  After I'd finished the mountain of dishes strewn about my kitchen, I flopped into my chair in the living room.  As is par for the course, Little T runs in seconds after my ass hits the cushion.

"Mom, can we have dessert?"

I told her to give me a few minutes.  Steelers score a touchdown.  A few plays later, they score again.  Tie game. Awesome.

My husband pops up to get dessert for the kids.  I get up to help him and he booms,


He must've noted the confused look on my face.

"DON'T MOVE!!  I'll get the kids dessert."

He's all emphatic about it too, pointing to my chair with authority and all that.  Wow, it's nice to have someone step in to help out after you've had a hard day!  Insisting I take a break?  Cool!  I know how much watching the Steelers in a playoff game means to him, so this must say a lot about how much he cares about me, right?

"The Steelers have been playing like shit the entire first half of the game.  You sit down and they start winning.  YOU CAN'T MOVE UNTIL THE GAME IS OVER!!!" (Arms waving, pointing to chair, arms waving some more.)

You take it where you can get it, right?  The Steelers won too.  Maybe I'll start bargaining for what I can get out of next week's game.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Luma/Patrick Star Cake

I'm not really good at frosting cakes.  So when my kids ask for a type of cake for their birthday, I get kinda nervous.  Because what's in their mind's eye isn't in my 'mad skillz'.  So when Little T asked for a Mario-themed cake, I was glad when she didn't give specifics.  The Yoshi-head we attempted to pull off last year almost looked like he was turning into dracula.  I'm still not sure how that happened; but it would have been cool if it had been Halloween.  Which it wasn't.

But anyway.

One of our favorite games in our house is Mario Galaxy, so I decided a Luma would be perfect for our little star.  Lumas are little 'baby stars' with cute little pot bellies.  It was surprisingly easy, and the template can double for use as Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants.  But (SHHHH!) don't tell my son because that's the cake he's getting for his birthday.  He just doesn't know it yet.  

I made the template for use with a 9" round and  an 9" square pan.  The 9" round stays completely intact.  The square is what you'll create the head, arms and legs with. 

Since Lumas have a pot belly, you don't have to trim the round when it comes out of the oven.  I arranged my template on the square cake so the parts that connect to the body somewhat match the girth of the round at the connecting points, although you may have to trim these a little. 

Lumas have very large dark eyes.  They generally don't have a mouth, but do when they're sucking in the star bits in the game.  Now black frosting is an option, but chocolate seemed so much easier.  To make these, I used an oval template my husband had in his drafting materials and traced them on wax paper.  Next re-trace your ovals with a black marker and let dry.  Flip the wax paper over.  Have a toothpick handy and melt some chocolate chips in a ziplock baggie, making sure as much air is removed as possible.  Put it in the microwave at 15 second intervals until chocolate is just melted.  Snip the corner of the bag and slowly squeeze onto your template, using the toothpick to get the chocolate to the edges of your ovals.  For the star bits we used some 'flower' shaped sprinkles and placed them on the mouth.  Stick in the freezer for a few minutes.  When they come out they should easily peel off the wax paper.

Voila...your cake is ready to frost.  Lumas are different colors, so it's suitable for a wide range of kids.  And they're darn cute.  After it's frosted place the eyes & mouth right on.

Monday, January 10, 2011


'Panpakes' are Little T's favorite food.  She still calls them 'panpakes' even though she's 7 and knows better.  It just is and it's damn cute. 

Today's post started out as a joke when I found The Batter Blaster.  Because 'organic' pancakes should never come out of a whipped cream aerosol can.  Somehow it seems more natural when I actually go through the process of putting ingredients in a bowl and mixing it together.  I'd probably go through about a dozen of these babies just to feed my kids.

So as we perused images of T's precious panpakes, we found this precious Etsy shop with various patterns for sale.  Definitely worth the look!

Then I found this very cute pancake bag...not for sale, but the person who made these did very fine work!

Did you know that Yankee Candle makes Maple Syrup Pancake candles?  Little T tried to dig into her piggy bank for this one. 

But this little stuffy has to be the cutest things I've ever seen:

Wishing you all a happy Monday morning.  How about some pancakes?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dysfunctional Jeans

Some things defy explanation. 

This is an actual pair of jeans my daughters received as gifts for Christmas.  Yes, I was lucky to get two pairs of these.  You may be thinking "Geez, Rys!  KWITCHERBITCHIN!"

What's that?  Let's see what that little tag says:


You know, shirts, chairs, couches, car seats?

They came with a disclaimer.

This has got to be the most rediculous thing I've seen in a very long time.

The beauty of jeans is that everything matches with it.  They've effectively eliminated whites, yellows, and about half the color wheel.  It's guaranteed disaster.  Because little girls don't think of this stuff when they're yanking clothes out of their dressers.  Nope, I'm lucky if they match.  Am I really supposed to tell them "No honey, you can't sit on that tan couch"?  By the time the words came out of my mouth they would have plopped their ass on it, probably leaving an indelible blue butt print.  And you know it would have been, say, GRANDMA'S couch.  It wouldn't be mine, because it's you-can't-stain-me-dark-brown, to go along with my marbly-brown-carpet-that-hides-everything-but-lime-green-play-doh.  And yes, that's been proven. It's the kind of rug I could lose my cat in:

See?  If it wasn't for that neon toy, Betty might be a pancake.  But with kids, they'd never ever spill a drink on that rug.  Oh no.  It would be a big ol' glass on Mrs. Smith's sterile white rug, as the dye from the jeans left droplets of blue everywhere that make Stainmaster sorry they ever had guarantees. 

Because that is reality. Which is why I returned them.  With the tag prominently displayed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brass Balls and Brass Tacks

Putting yourself out there for global view on the internet is a scary thing.  Because even if you use a pseudonym, you still wrote it.  You feel the words from the comments seep into you.  Every piece you write is a part of you, whether it's a story or a fictional piece.  It's your life or your creation on display for the world to stepping onstage naked.  Will the curtain rise to crickets chirping?  An audience who laughs at you in ridicule or the way you intend? 

For some writing comes very easy.  They can entertain with their vignettes of playfully strung words.  For others it's a difficult process as they agonize over topics and word choices.  It takes brass balls to put yourself out there in any creative outlet, but in blogging we put our lives on display with every post.

That being said, before BlogHer last year I had this idea for a Brass Balls award.  I bounced it off of Kristin, and the ideas just sprung to life.  Bouncing back and forth we came up with a plan.  Happily, that plan is about to come to fruition.  

The Brass Balls Award itself had to have merit.  Not just a pair of friends choosing from on high.  We attempted to create a system to it.  To achieve this, we enlisted the help of Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka to figure out how to get this off the ground right.  Kristin and I decided it needed a physical award too...a momento that recognizes, in its small way, that their courageous contribution was appreciated.  So I collected some supplies and placed them into Kristin's magically crafty hands.

The recipient had to be an exemplary post that took an amazing amount of guts to not only type out but put out there for the world to see.  As bloggers we virtually meet a lot of you through your blogs and comments; we travel with you through your trials and leap with you in your joys.  But you can feel it when someone has really gone the distance and emotionally trudged themselves out.  It took a set of brass balls to post expose and share something about their life that's so close in such a bare and raw way.  There are plenty of people looking for attention through drama...but you can sense real from a mile off. 

This realness is what I think draws people to blogging.  Real people discussing real life.  We paint pictures with words...but it's the brass tacks that hold the canvas in place before the pretty frame hides it and hangs it on the wall.   Soon we'll be revealing the first recipient and unveiling the prize we've created to go along with it.

Caffeine Addict

Lately, Divine's thing is to make the coffee.  It makes her feel big, and since she was doing it anyway (which led to many, many post-cleanups), I taught her how to do it right.  This way she could feel big, and having us 'ask' her to do it was better than getting spontaneous pots of coffee in the middle of the day.  You ever get the shakes because you've just had way too much caffeine in your system?  My eyeballs shoot in all kinds of weird directions. It's a scary thing to behold.

Anyway, this week my husband has been back to work.  This means he gets up obnoxiously early, like around 4 in the morning.  So when Divine was moping around looking for something to do, I asked her if she wanted to make a pot of decaf.  I explicitly told her it was in the green container.  She got all excited and skipped into the kitchen.

You think you know where this is going, don't you?  Oh no, it couldn't be that simple.  It's far worse than that.

Kristin from Dragondreamer's Lair sent me a link a few weeks ago for Kahlua-Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies.  You seriously need to check out this link...don't they look scrumptious?  I combed two food stores for the Espresso powder needed to make them.  I found a small jar tucked away on some unrelated shelf at the grocery store (NOT in the coffee section, where one would think it would be).  I bought a small jar and put it on the very top shelf of the cabinet.  Like one shelf higher than my regular cans of coffee are, as in, children would require a tall chair or ladder to reach it.

So I went in to pour my husband and I a cup of Divine's coffee.  She was sitting at the table, beaming with pride as she announced that she used the special coffee called espresso.  An 'oh shit' look poured over me as I peeked under the coffee maker lid in horror to see that it was indeed empty.  (Espresso powder is instant granules).  Judging by the jar, she used about 1/3 cup. 

Oh yeah, we're wired.

And while I could have dumped the whole thing out and remade a pot of decaf, Divine would have been crushed.  She saw look on my face and launched into apologies.  She thought she was doing this really cool thing.  She had no clue that Espresso was a fancy term for 'you'll be up all night' in a 12 cup pot.

Divine's mission is to revamp herself this year, and criticizes herself harshly.  She was so disappointed when what she thought was so cool actually wasn't.  Really it was just a learning bump in the road, and the last thing we wanted to do was crush her enthusiasm.  

So we drank it. 

With darting eyeballs, I can say that it tasted pretty good.  Divine judged the amount perfectly.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

This year my kids decided they were old enough to ring in the new midnight.  I'm waiting for the crankies to set in, but they are convinced they should stay up out of sheer determination.  It's T's first New Year's celebration and she's already thrown up her drink...of water.  Her New Year's snack is Pepto Bismol.
Today they decided to try their hand at creating lyrics.  They found a tune on one of their video games and created and started singing. 

"It's complicated, Global Warming...
"It's something big...very confusing"

Those were the only lyrics, sung over and over again.  The precious part?  The tune they were singing to was called 'Cold Wind'.

Ah yes...since it's the time to write out those resolutions, this might be a good time for it:
  1. So obviously my first New Year's resolution is to teach my kids to write lyrics about things they understand.
  2. After two years, I'll finish stitching Tree of Life.  I'm motivated because there's another piece I wanted to start but promised myself I wouldn't until I finished this one.
  3. I'll pay more attention to the Clutter Queen.  I've always wanted to spruce this little piece of online real estate...improve the design to something that's more 'me'.  And certainly something more interesting.  I'm striving for more time to actually write; because while the desire is there, the time usually isn't. 
Wishing all of you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.  May 2011 be easy to remember on your checks...because I always forget and write the previous year until like June...and then little scribbles on them crossing it out.  Tipping my glass to you all!