Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More tutorials?

I've started my St. Patrick's Day crafting! And it looks like it's going to be just as adventurous this time around. My internet is acting up again. We're going to switch companies. We've decided. But Ranger has some connections at the company we're going to switch with and they get a bonus if "they" sign us up, so we will end up taking the long way getting everything switched around.

Plus, although there's easily 17 projects TO DO for St. Patty's day, I don't know if I'm really excited about committing myself to 17 tutorials. It was kind of a pain to commit myself to 14 for V day. And my blog is for me, not for tutorials. I have been so much better at blogging this year because I put ME in charge and not the blog (weird dilemma, I know). It does give me something to do (You know, because moms aren't busy enough... I mean it gives me something FUN to do) and something to write about. So there will be some. But I'm not committing to how many. I have a life. My blog doesn't.

So... Yeah. That's where we stand. You know, in case it was weighing on your mind. I know it was...

Oh! And I decided to call them Pinch Day tutorials, even though that's the WORST part about St. Patrick's Day, because St. Patrick's Day is a long name and my daughter calls it Pinch Day. We'll work on the name and the reasons behind it when she's actually a homeschool kid, until then all public school will teach her about is the pinching and the mischievous leprechauns anyway and everything I say will get lost in translation. I can wait. I'll mean more next time.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Growing

I've been processing things lately, something's going to give soon. I feel it coming. Change. It's not a calm before a storm feeling (calm? What's that?), it's more of a pressure buildup. I can sense the pressure change. It might have something to do with my bestie moving away. Or her kids moving with her (it has really affected my girl! In a big way). Or maybe all of the pressure from visitation is finally going to cause more than a metaphorical air leak. But I can see the pieces of some grand puzzle falling closer into place, even though the picture is still fuzzy and out of focus. I wish I knew what that picture is, so I could prepare; but oddly, I feel more like I am just meant to be the spectator of my life for now. I guess others Would call it a "be still and know," kind of feeling. And for a girl raised to believe that if anything was going to get done I had to do it and do it instantly... to be okay with being still and letting God work is a huge step for me. I've NEVER mastered being still. At all.

I guess I should thank Katie. We found each other through my friend Reta, and she is a true and solid rock. She is real. And I know real people. I surround myself with them. Katie helped me balance some things in my life today. She helped me see and replace some of the lies I tell myself. I'm really in awe at how much peace I feel after talking with her. I mean, it's not like suddenly the world is spinning the other way... But maybe *I* am. I feel... Balance. Somehow my foundation feels a little more sure. I'm terrified that the healthy thinking won't stick, but I shouldn't be. I should embrace that it's here now.

But I think there's more. Something's coming. Something big. Something personally earth shattering. Some huge blessing that is going to be hidden in some huge trial. Somehow it will bring all the answers I am seeking and all of these "preparatory contractions" will culminate in some searing pain that will bring blessings I can't describe. I wish I just knew what it was!

It's a feeling of the wolves moving in. And I can't just hunker down and let them draw closer, but that's the only way to survive. The best escape route is right on through them, at exactly the right moment. But I'm no good at timing things (remember the "right now" bit about my lies to myself?). Oddly, though, I feel safe just waiting. Like I have nothing else so important than to sit and analyze the opponent, whomever that may be.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Thoughts on St. Patrick's Day

I've been trying to decide which holidays to decorate for and which days not to decorate. It's actually a silly thing to consume my brain, but it is. My dilemma lies mostly in St. Patrick's Day. It's become such a drinking holiday in the US, that I struggle with celebrating it. I don't want to celebrate a day of lewd and unbecoming behavior. I'm not a believer in the "party all you want and today only it's okay" mentality. Really? Do Christians buy that garbage? That they can sin all they want on one day and not the next? It helps that my friend Rita likes to points out the irony that public schools love St Patty's Day, but downplay Easter. So I did some research. And analyzed my own heart. My thought are, if I'm going to exonerate St. Valentine, for any of his rumored actions and fully embrace and celebrate his life, I should do the same for St. Patrick. I think they were both good men, even if they were a little misguided in their desires to convert the world to Catholicism. Forced conversion is no conversion, which is why most Celts and Wiccans hate St. Patrick.

The irony of all this drunkenness is that until recently, bars in Ireland closed for St. Patrick's Day. And Ireland isn't even the world's most imbibed nation. The Czech Republic is. It doesn't make any sense why March 17 is so renowned for partying. I guess I could blame misguided Catholics who like to undo everything they gained from Lent (note that I did not say ALL Catholics. I have dear Catholic friends. They don't party stupidly on March 17th). Or I could blame commercialism. Blame probably falls mostly there. But any way you look at it, I think we stupid Americans have once again messed up a perfect holiday to reflect on Truth.

And I know that many Christian holidays were put into place to cover up pagan holidays. No, I'm not happy about it. That's the real reason we HAVE Valentine's Day and St Patrick's Day. And why Christmas is in December and not in the spring: So that Christians who were Pagans could keep their holidays. But that doesn't mean there weren't reasons to celebrate, for instance, the coming of spring. the dilemma lies in separating truth from falsehood. Some Celtic beliefs have truth. Some, not so much. Little men who like to play tricks? I'm struggling with finding truth in that idea.

And is it right to celebrate Ireland when I'm not even Irish? I don't celebrate anything to honor my predominantly British heritage. So if I don't drink and I'm not Irish, and I don't worship any Pagan god, why should I celebrate?

With all of these questions in my head, I've been doing a lot of thinking.

You know the shamrock? It traditionally had 3 leaves, not 4. St. Patrick supposedly used it to teach the Irish. 3 petals, one plant. The Trinity. 3 Gods form one Godhead. I won't get into any Nicene Creed discussions, although that is the direction my brain takes on any discussion of the trinity. I can focus on that.

How about The Celtic knot? It began to appear about the time of St Patrick (although there's no connection made to him) and symbolized that there is no beginning or end. Sometimes it represents the soul, sometimes earth, and sometimes the Trinity, depending on its shape.

And green is the symbol of new birth and nature. Its symbolic of things whole and healing. Yes, it's roots are pagan, but I'm okay with that.

But what about the rainbow? It's traditionally linked to pots of gold which are traditionally linked to little Irish men. But the rainbow is such a happy symbol of promise, I don't want to discredit it! To me, rainbows mean promises and covenants and baptism. But is that putting a symbol where it doesn't exist? And what about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow... Doesn't it serve as a symbol of hard work for something that seemed unattainable?

But little fairies... It's not that I am anti-fairy. In fact, that was my favorite literature topic as a kid. I don't think we should be so judgmental and ruin everything for our kids. Imagination is great. But should I celebrate them? I struggle with Santa and the tooth fairy! At least there's symbolism and good will in Santa. So where's the line?

I guess at the end of the day, St. Patrick's Day is about sharing the gospel like St Patrick did (only not so forcefully and obstinately), about faith and hope in things unseen, and about the beginnings of new life. So in all of my confusion, I guess that's what I can hold on to. I guess that is my truth.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Holy Ghost Helps Me FHE



The Holy Ghost Helps Me
Compiled by Keira


Possible Songs: I Know My Father Lives, Children’s Songbook page 5; Listen, Listen, Children’s Songbook page 107; The Still Small Voice, Children’s Songbook page 106; The Holy Ghost, Children’s Songbook 105; Let the Holy Spirit Guide, hymn 143

Possible Materials: Wordart for the quote from True to the Faith and the quotes by President Joseph Fielding Smith; A picture of the Ascension of the Savior; Graphic story of President Lee hearing a voice and President Woodruff avoiding danger (Or pictures of President Harold B. Lee and President Wilford Woodruff as prophets).




Preparation: Begin with prayer. What experiences in your own life have taught you about the roles of the Holy Ghost? Ask yourself ­­­­­if you feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in your life. If not, bring that gift back into full effect.  Read the suggested scriptures and any articles listed in Resources, making sure to read the entire section in True to the Faith and the Guide to the Scriptures. Allow an old piece of clay to harden.
Children: Get an old piece of clay and let it dry out so that it is hard. Then watch this video of the Holy Ghost and Spiritual Gifts and King Benjamin. Also listen to this story of President Lee and this story of President Woodruff.

Lesson:

Introduction: Give a family member some fresh clay. Tell that family member to mold it into a specific shape. Then, give someone the hardened piece of clay and ask that person to make the same shape. Talk about how we need to be “moldable” so the Holy Ghost can direct us to do Heavenly Father’s work. Discuss what it takes to be moldable. Watch this Mormon Message about being in tune.

Discussion: Remind the family about the lesson on Heavenly Father answering prayers. One of the ways he answers prayers is by a feeling. That feeling comes from the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is one of the members of the Godhead.  The Holy Ghost does not have a body like Heavenly Father does, because he needs to speak to our spirits. He couldn’t do that if he had a body.

The Holy Ghost has many important responsibilities. Some will be discussed in depth in the lesson on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Discuss each in turn, based on your audience. They are:


  • ·         Witnesses of the Father and the Son, see 3 Nephi 28:11
  • ·         Comforter, See John 14:16-27
  • ·         The Gift of the Holy Ghost
  • ·         Inspiration and confirmation (Give you words to speak, and bring things to your remembrance, an audible voice)
  • ·         Discernment (Confirms right choices, guides, protects you, Revelation, Teaches and testifies of truth)
  • ·         Touch hearts, soften hearts
  • ·         Gifts of the spirit, see D&C 46:7-33
  • ·         Sanctification and Sealings (binding on Earth and in Heaven), see Ephesians 1:13 and D&C 132:19
Activity: tie a visual to each of the roles of the Holy Ghost. For instance, a picture of the Savior symbolizing witnessing of the Father and Son, a favorite blanket for comforter, a  big gift for the gift of the Holy Ghost, lip gloss for inspiration and confirmation, heart for touching hearts, flashlight for discernment, lots of little presents for gifts of the spirit, rope to tie things together for sanctification,

From True to the Faith: This quote from true to the Faith is just too powerful not to share:
“His communication to your spirit carries far more certainty than any communication you can receive through your natural senses…As the soothing voice of a loving parent can quiet a crying child, the whisperings of the Spirit can calm your fears, hush the nagging worries of your life, and comfort you when you grieve.”

From a prophet’s voice: President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 2:151).

President Smith also said, “Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:48).

From the life of the Savior: Read John 14:16-27. Discuss how Jesus knew his Disciples would miss him when he was gone, so he said that he would ask Heavenly Father to send a Comforter to help them deal with their grief. Discuss how that comforter is the Holy Ghost and he can comfort us when we are sad and lonely, too.

From the Book of Mormon: Read Mosiah 5:1-6. Discuss how King Benjamin and his people had just had a great meeting. It was sort of like a big General Conference. He wanted to know how the people felt after his words, so he sent messengers. They all felt a change come upon them because of the Holy Ghost. It testified of truth.

From Church History: Read this story {the link takes you right to the paragraph to read. Otherwise, it’s the 5th paragraph} by Elder Harold B. Lee and discuss how the Holy Ghost is a voice of warning. Sometimes, but not always, the Holy Ghost is a voice we can hear. For younger children, use this story with pictures that is found in the friend. You may also like the article that he talks about his mother using the Holy Ghost.

From Church History: Tell the following story about how President Woodruff listened to the Holy Ghost and it kept him safe. For younger audiences, use this graphic story. For older audiences, it is found in originally, but is retold starting in the 14th paragraph of Prayer and Prompting by Elder Packer.

From Church History: There is an amazing story of Brother Brigham Young summarized in The Unspeakable Gift of the Holy Ghost. It starts under the heading The Importance of the Holy Ghost, and is the 2nd story shared. Discuss the story and why the Holy Ghost is so important.

From your own life: Tell of a time that the Holy Ghost gave you guidance or answers. Discuss feelings. Feelings speak to your audience truer than words do, and those are the stories that will stay with them in times of need.

Further discussion: The spirit is not always with us. It never abandons us, instead we make it leave. Discuss times that the spirit withdraws from our lives and what we need to do to get it back. Focus on profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, sin, and anger. Discuss what would have happened in any of the previous stories had the people not been receptive to the Holy Ghost?

Challenge: Hand each family member a note card. Have them think of one way they can better prepare themselves this week to hear the Holy Ghost.

Resources:   Behold Your Little Ones lesson 6; Sunbeams Manual Lesson 7;  Come, Follow Me lessons on the Holy Ghost on; Gospel Principles Chapter 7; True to the Faith section on the Holy Ghost (Page 81); Harold B. Lee: A Polished Shaft in the Lord’s Quiver, by Petrea Kelly, Prayer and Promptings by President Boyd K. Packer, The Unspeakable Gift of The Holy Ghost by elder Jay E. Jensen (the whole talk is amazing, but this lesson only focuses on the first 2 parts. The second half is covered in The Gift of the Holy Ghost lesson).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finished Projects

I've decided to spend some time in the craft room again lately. You know, like rediscover the table that always collects junk. And while I was in there, I realized I'd have a lot more room if I'd just finish a project or two. Or throw some away (just don't remind me I did it). So I grabbed the project on top of my immense to-do pile. Some odd bumper pads I've had laying around because I just knew they'd make great baby blankets. It only took about 2 hours (and most of that was picking out stitches when the tension went loopy and then I had to figure out how to fix the tension), and now I've got more blankets. They're a bit too little for a seven-year-old so as soon as she will give them up, I'll probably store them in the baby stuff taking up room in my laundry waiting for "finally."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sorrow

I've made it to Ecclesiastes in my scripture study (finally) and I LOVE this book. The irony is, the "Preacher" knows what I just learned. Ecclesiastes 7:3

Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

I don't think he's saying that sadness is really better, but that sadness is necessary, and better than false happiness.

It's catharsis. Sadness and pain and fear are necessary. They're healing. If we experience them, it's like eating the food before it gets moldy and stinky and festering. Otherwise, it just gets stuck in the fridge and no one wants to clean it out, because even though it's no longer edible, it reeks. It creates stink everywhere. It contaminates everything.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dinner of Love

Valentine's Day Menu

Appetizer:
Strawberry Chocolates

Salad:
Heart Gelatin Salad

Entree: 
Specialty-Marinated Steaks
Heart-felt Beef Ravioli
Hearty Potatoes

Dessert: 
Red Velvet Cupcakes






To make Strawberry Chocolates: Ingredients ~ Chocolate (the good stuff, not almond bark. This is a special occasion), strawberries, quartered (if I did it again, I'd just include lots of tiny chunks of diced strawberries. There was a bit too much chocolate. Even for me.

  1. Melt chocolate
  2. Spoon some into ice cube trays (the more angular and the less square the easier it is to get out when it's done). 
  3. If I could do it again, I'd dip the strawberries into the melting chocolate. maybe not so much if I really did use lots of smaller berries...
  4. stick the strawberries into the tray, gently pressing down so that the chocolate in the bottom of the tray comes up around the berries.
  5. spoon chocolate on top. 








I'd like to label this picture "why I only photographed 3 cavities in the beginning of the tutorial. 
To make heart Gelatin: You will need a  few varieties of gelatin, a cookie cutter, a few shallow pans, and plain gelatin (Like Knox). Follow package instructions for jigglers in desired number of varieties of jello. We used 4. Pink, light red, red, dark red. pour into shallow pan. Let chill based on instructions (usually about 3 hours). select a heart cookie cutter that is about 1 inch wide (we didn't have one that small. I'll work on that). Cut as many hearts in the gelatin as you can get. Save the scraps. Place the hearts along the outside of the  bowl (if I did it again, I'd do a couple individual-servings bowls. It's fancier). Make plain gelatin according to directions (we included pineapple juice. It was too strong of a flavor. Pick something milder. Maybe apple?). Let cool (we skipped that step, and I wish we hadn't) to room temperature. pour onto hearts. Let sit in refrigerator 1 hour. Add any remaining hearts, reserving a few for the very top, and the scraps. Try to get them at a variety of depths. If they sink to the bottom, wait a bit and try again. After 2 hours, place all leftover hearts so that they are barely covered by the gelatin (if they're not covered, they sort of shrivel. Not that I'd know or anything...). Chill one more hour or until it is time for the meal. 

To make Ravioli: 
For filling:
  • 1/2 lb Beef
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small onion
  • parmasan cheese to taste
  • parsley, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
For pasta dough:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
Instructions:

  1. Mix ingredients for pasta dough. kneed about 20 times. the dough should be solid and not crumbly or gooey. stiffer than bread dough, but still maleable. let rest.
  2. Dice garlic and onion (I puree'd mine. Picky eater.)
  3. Brown garlic, onion, beef, and seasonings
  4. Roll out 1/2 the dough really thin (thinner than mine, trust me...) on floured surface
  5. Add egg to beef mixture.
  6. Gently press a heart cookie  cutter into the dough so that it doesn't break through but creates an outline to set the filling into. 
  7. Spoon onto hearts in dough, keeping meat together and dough as clean as possible. 
  8. Roll the second half of the dough on floured surface and gently lay it over-top of the beef-centered hearts. Don't drag the dough! Place it gently and keep it there. 
  9. Take the cookie cutter and center the meat mixture in the cutter and push down, cutting out all of the layers at once. Then press the edges together with your fingers to seal it a little more securely.  Repeat steps 6-9 until dough or mixture is gone, being careful not to get too much flour in the dough so that it's too stiff. 
  10. Let sit 20-30 minutes to dry pasta a bit. This will help it not fall apart when cooking.
  11. Place water in a pot and gently add ravioli one at a time so they don't stick together. Simmer pasta in enough water to cover the pasta until done. Cooking time will depend on how thin you made the shells. If they're thin enough, they'll need about 5 minutes. Ours needed a bit more. Everything harmful was previously cooked, so you're really just worrying about al Dente


Untitled


To serve, drizzle a little marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce over them. I used some of my homemade spaghetti sauce from my freezer and boiled it down a little longer.

For Potatoes:
Let me just say these were the best ever! I'll make them again, even if I didn't use the hearts. The recipe is here, and she deserves the credit. First slice the potatoes, then cut them out in desired shape. We didn't have a heart cookie cutter we were satisfied with, so we used a flower and a petal cutter from a Wilton set. She boiled hers a bit before baking them. We got a little overzealous and added them to the oil mixture before we remembered to boil them, and they were still delicious. Also, when broiling, don't leave them in too long. I might have slightly burnt some of the edges (okay, really I didn't burn them, I burned the stuff stuck to the pan.  And I just have to say, this was the best part of dinner! They were amazing.




True Love

I spent most of yesterday helping my best friend move. It's really bitter-sweet. She has been my lifeline this past few years, helping me put my past behind me and helping me embrace my future. I know she'll have huge opportunities with this move, it will create  better schooling options for her kids (she's a fellow homeschool mom, but she'll be in a big community with options), it will give them a fresh start (she's had a hard life lately). Better job, better life, better education options. Win win. But MAN, I don't want her to go!

Since I didn't have a date for V-day, I spent the whole day packing boxes and keeping Reta sane. It's amazing what another woman in a room can do when everyone else is all men. Just someone who thinks like you and who can understand those knowing looks of "men really are stupid."

Honestly, though, it was the best thing to do on a Valentine's Day. That's what it's truly all about: Love is serving others. It is sacrificing your desires without sacrificing yourself. It is being God's hands. And it is being a part of another's soul. She's the Mary to my Martha. She's the Betsie to my Corrie Ten Boom. She's the mercy to my justice.

Afterwards, I had a Valentine's Day party with a bunch of women who didn't have husbands home, either. It was so nice to be there, I was honored for the invite. These were REAL women. These were women who have had life handed to them on a dirty shovel instead of a silver spoon. These women had souls and knew truth. One was the bubbly sort, one was the nurturing sort. But all were real. God needs more women like that. 


Jesus Christ is Heavenly Father's Son

Purpose: To help family members understand who Jesus Christ is and how to follow Jesus’ example when they make their daily decisions.

Possible scriptures:Due to the nature of this lesson, the magnitude of scriptures makes it impossible to list or limit the choices to a decent list. Therefore, I leave it in the hands of the lesson preparer to research their own scriptures, and give only these 2: Doctrine and Covenants 110:4; Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24;

Possible Songs: I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus, Children’s Songbook page 78; Jesus Said Love Everyone, Children’s Songbook page 61; Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, Children’s Songbook page 57; Teach Me to Walk in the Light, Hymn 304 or Children’s Songbook page 177; Come, Follow Me, Hymn 116; I Know that My Redeemer Lives, Hymn 136;

Possible Materials:He Lives” by the Apostles; As many pictures of the Savior as possible (Make full use of the Gospel Art Kit, especially this picture of Jesus at the temple). This booklet found on A Year of FHE ;or these flashcards by ldshandouts.blogspot.com; or theseflashcards by beinglds.blogspot.com Wordart with “What would Jesus Christ have me do?” on a small card.


Preparation: Begin with prayer. Ask yourself ­­­­­if you have a testimony of the Savior. If not, work on it this week. Think about the Savior’s life and ministry. Think about all He did for you and your family. Read the suggested scriptures, study some of your favorite scripture passages about the Savior, and any articles listed in Resources.
Children: look at pictures of Jesus. If there is a story that interests you, learn more about it. Watch the bible video about Jesus as a boy in the temple.

Lesson:

Introduction: Turn out all the lights in the house, or use a blindfold if it is still light. Ask one of the family members to perform a difficult task, such as writing a sentence on a piece of paper or finding several household items and putting them in one place. Then turn on the lights or remove the blindfold, and show how easily the same task can be done in the light. Have a family member read aloud John 8:12. Ask, “How is Jesus the Light of the World? (He is the one who lights our way.) How does he give us light? (He gave us his example and teachings.) Why is it easier to make the right decisions with the aid of Jesus’ light? (His examples and teachings light the way for us. We can see the paths we should take more clearly.)”

Discussion: Who is the Savior? How do we come to know Him? Discuss that he is our brother, a mortal son of God. Discuss characteristics and attributes of his life. Remind the family of the role he played in the Plan of Salvation that we learned about last week.

From the First Presidency: Watch this video as a family. Discuss the feelings that come from this video. It is truth, from men who know. Also discuss The Living Christ, paragraph by paragraph.
            Activity: print off the booklet from A Year of FHE (I’m kind of irked… it’s a copyright thing. She takes all credit for the work, and the coloring pages are from the friend… I’ll keep credit where it’s due, and thank her for her compilation, but know that these pictures come from The Church) or the flashcards from here.

From the New Testament: Read Luke 2:41-52; show the pictureof young Jesus at the temple. What “Father” is Jesus talking about? What is his Father’s business?

From the life of the Savior: Pick a few stories from the life of the savior, noting that there is an entire lesson on his mortal life in the coming weeks, as well as a Christmas and an Easter lesson. Discuss how everything he did was perfect and can be an example to us. Discuss his divine characteristics of love and loyalty, always doing the right thing, and serving others. Use pictures.
            Activity: For younger children, have them pick a picture, draw a story out of a basket, or some similar activity.

More from General Authorities: Read this talk by Elder Oaks and discuss what Christ has done for us, study the names of the Savior and his various roles by looking in the bible dictionary, and companion it with this talk by Elder Packer.

Further discussion: Discuss what it means to us that He lives again. How has He set the perfect example for us? What are some ways we can show Him how thankful we are? Discuss again how He is the perfect example for us, and that whenever we are unsure of what to do in our life, we can look to Him for answers. Come up with personalized scenarios and ask what Jesus would want a person to do in each circumstance. 

Challenge:  Hand out the little reminder cards and/or a CTR ring for each family. Invite each member to ask themselves what Jesus their older brother would have them do in problems that arise in their lives this week.  Tell them to write their most meaningful decision in their journal and be prepared to share one next week (it can be a less personal one if they would rather).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How Not to Make The Yarn Heart Wreath

If you're looking for how TO make a yarn heart wreathe, spare yourself. This is not that tutorial. This is how NOT to make it. It's funnier, but not as useful. You want this post

Approximate prep time: 3 weeks. 
  1. Get your supplies together. I used a small bottle of school glue, polyester yarn, and 2 bendy balloons. Oh, and a plate.
  2. Take a picture.
  3. Blow up the balloons. 
  4. Know that somehow you managed to grab the 2 gimpiest balloons that came in the package because they won't blow up more than half way.
  5. Twist the ends together like you know what you're doing.
  6. Take a picture.
  7. Look at the tutorial and realize she tied her ends together. Undo step 5 and tie gimpy tiny tie-spot from blowing the balloon all the way to the end of the tube to the incredibly long, somehow-the-balloon-can't-make-it-past-halfway end of the balloon. 
  8. Mix too much water in with the glue. Use it anyway. 
  9. Realize you should have cut the yarn before covering your fingers in glue.
  10. Wash your hands. The glue comes off easily when it dries, but man is it a bugger to wash off while wet. 
  11. Dry your hands. They're still sticky, but close enough. 
  12. Cut a few strands of yarn.
  13. Take a picture.
  14. Wrap yarn haphazardly around the balloons.
  15. Run out of yarn. 
  16. Wash your hands.
  17. Cut more yarn.
  18. Continue wrapping glue-y strands around the balloon.
  19. Wash your hands.
  20. Take pictures you can't find anywhere for the life of you. 
  21. Hang them up to dry.
  22. Wash your hands.
  23. Take some more pictures that will disappear into Little Big Planet dreamworld. 
  24. Realize you are not really a big fan of the yarn because it looks ... quilter-happy and homemade.
  25. Run to the store for crochet thread (weight 3)
  26. Repeat step 12 but cut a lot more thread. Manage to cut most of them too long to work with.
  27. Repeat step 3, confirming you really did have the 2 gimpy balloons last time, because these blow up beautifully. 
  28. Twist the ends together like a real pro this time. See, you're learning.  
  29. Wrap the thread around the  balloon. This time, trying to find a method to the madness, but still not finding it. 
  30. Hang these balloons up to dry, too. 
  31. Google the real tutorial instead of the one in Mandarin and realize that in her tutorial she says that the amount of string she put on in the picture wasn't nearly enough.
  32. Take the balloons back down, cut more strings and load it up.
  33. Wait.
  34. Wait. Wait.
  35. Next morning, pop the balloons.
  36. Take a picture.
  37. Realize how much work is in front of you, because these balloons do NOT want to hold their shape. 
  38. Cut the end of the balloon any way. cringe at how much it wants to fall apart.
  39. Take a picture. Fake that it's working...
  40. Wrap the heck out of the balloons, waiting every few hours to let the soft maleable creation dry a bit before you force it into submission. 
  41. Wait. 
  42. Stall.
  43. Think maybe it's because you watered the glue down too much. So you add straight glue directly to the weak spots.
  44. Take a picture. Documentation, right? 
  45. Wait.
  46. Almost cry that that didn't work.
  47. Brainstorm. spray adhesive sounds messy, but you're desperate. There's also spray starch. Does it need heat? What the heck, it's worth a shot, because you can still see the glue you applied earlier anyway. At this point, you have nothing to lose.
  48. Try the spray adhesive.
  49. Leave it sitting overnight in hopes it'll be less sticky. 
  50. Wake up the next morning to know that it still didn't work.
  51. Try the spray starch.
  52. Wait.
  53. Come back and realize it still didn't work.
  54. Throw it in the garbage. There's no hope for the sticky mess now.
  55. Focus on the pink one. use the entire rest of the string in hopes you can save it. 
  56. Consider that maybe you're just squeezing out too much of the glue.
  57. Leave the very last few pretty gooey in hopes that it helped (I think it did a little, but I didn't realize it soon enough.
  58. Run out of pink thread.
  59. Get some semblance of structure, even if it dried a little ...malformed
  60. Resign yourself to it's fate.
  61. Tie a ribbon around it
  62. Hang it up.
  63. Take a picture.
  64. Let it eat at you for a few days as it continues to sag more and more.
  65. Stall.
  66. Still stall. 
  67. It wont let you quit. You HAVE to beat this thing.
  68. Tell your daughter you're going to give up.
  69. Listen to her tell you it's against the rules to give up.
  70. Curse your parenting.
  71. Research (see, now we're using our brains like a woman is meant to!). Google "yarn balloon hold shape," and "Yarn balloon fail," and about 10 other search phrases in hopes that someone will tell you how to fix it.
  72. Come across the one line on the one site that finally has your answer. Chuck the yarn. only 100% cotton will work. 
  73. Tell yourself you can try again.
  74. Blow up the balloons.
  75. Answer the door for your cousin to come in.
  76. Go to the store for the right yarn.
  77. Come back to half of the rest of your balloons popped and this:
  78. Silently stew that your cousin needs to learn to keep his hands off of your stuff. curse at him in 3-year-old whiny voices in your head. 
  79. Start over. 
  80. Breathe deeply. You can do this. 
  81. Next photo op. (Disregard the other red one, I was debating making another one out of crochet thread. The debate lost). 
  82. Cut a bazillion strands of yarn. Many are too short, but you don't care.
  83. Re-prep your glue. Barely any water.
  84. Meticulously dip the glue in the yarn.
  85. Breathe.
  86. Pull the gluey gooey yarn strand out and gently wipe off the excess.
  87. Breathe.
  88. Meticulously wrap it around the balloon. Try a method. Maybe short coils the entire length will give it structure?
  89. Take a picture. Forget about washing your hands. It takes too long and your camera's waterproof.
  90. Wrap the second coil tighter.
  91. Take another picture so that you can pretend all the other mess just didn't happen.
  92. Realize that the meticulousness is causing problems. Mostly because the 2 men that have seen it both comment that it needs yarn going up and down, not just around.
  93. Tell them that would be ugly.
  94. Use your brain and realize that if you make wider coils in opposite directions, that will give it the structure of "up and down" strands, while not being ugly like a man did it. 
  95. Move on to the next half of the balloon.
  96. Wrap yarn in your new ingenious way.
  97. Constantly think of new ways to wipe hair out of your face when your hands are covered in glue. 
  98. Note how well it's working. 
  99. Contain your relief. You must not tell the men they were the inspiration for your victory.
  100. Let both balloons dry.
  101. Keep letting them dry. There's no way you're messing up this one.
  102. Pull them down and pop the balloons. Again.
  103. Test out the structure. That one half looks GOOD!
  104. Mini celebration in your head. 
  105. Look at the other side and say, well half is better than none.
  106. Cut the top of one and the bottom of the other.
  107. Even the break in the top joint doesn't phase you any more.
  108. Take a picture.
  109. Put the pieces together and take another picture.
  110. Brace it.
  111. Brace it some more.
  112. That side's getting weak. walk away.
  113. Come back and reinforce again.
  114. Take a picture
  115. Add more glue strands. 
  116. Finally realize it's enough.
  117. Finally. Something that worked. 
  118. Because there was NO way you were going to try it again.
To see the finished product of the red one (you know, the one I'm happy with) check here.

Hope I made you laugh. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Yarn Heart Wreath

In an earlier post, I said I was going to make this wreath from michelemademe.com. It was my favorite wreath. Well, I made it. It's really not as easy as it looks... Check out my "How NOT to Make a Yarn Wreath.

Here's the easy instructions. Spelled out in hopes I can save you some anguish.

You will need a whole bottle (or two) of school glue (doesn't have to be Elmers. I'm not a fan of their "new formula" but it's all I had), 2 long skinny bendable balloons, and some 100% COTTON yarn (I suggest Sugar n' Cream).


Cut tons of 2-3 foot strands of yarn (longer than hand to elbow, but shorter than hand to shoulder). Put your hair up or in a headband (believe me, you'll thank me for that tip when your hair gets in your face while you're looking down at your craft and your hands are covered in droopy oozy glue so you can't brush it  back). Pour the glue into a bowl, add a smidgen of water and mix it in.


Dip a strand in glue, let it soak for a second (really not too long, but don't just set it in and lift it out), and then wipe it off a bit (don't squeeze all the glue out, just get it a bit less messy). Wrap a loose coil of yarn all the way down one side of the balloon and just shy of halfway down the other side of the balloon. Then make a second coil going the opposite direction, crossing over the first and forming a ton of x's. You'll need them for structure. Then go back and wrap a tight coil over the stretched one. Don't be neat. Believe me. Mine is too neat. I also forgot to do the big x's on this half, and I noticed a huge difference when it was done.


Continue to wrap. You want gaps and spaces, but not lines. and cracks. The left side of my heart below is a great example. The right side, not so much.


<-- see the gaps?

<--- here's a big one.

<--- here's another.


<--- here's another under my blog name.


Can you see how the light can still show through the left side, but that there's no slits like in the right side? That's what you want. 

Then let the balloon dry for 24 hours. When it's dry and hard, pop the balloon. Handle it carefully so as not to twist it while it's still on the balloon and you can hear the tension. It will save your ears and your nerves, and I'm betting it really does damage, though I have no scientific proof. Instinct just says so.  Pull out the deflated balloon (did the bang scare you?), and cut the yarn edges to get it to make a heart shape. I found it best to cut a straight line out of the top of one and then cut all of that yarn off carefully (more carefully than I did. Remember, though, that that is the side I didn't make all the big coils and x's in), and then cut a diagonal cut out of the bottom of the second balloon. Look above to see how they fit together. 


Wrap a few more strands over the problem spots you found after the balloons were popped, but go CAREFULLY because the underlying structure is gone and the yarn will soften when you apply new wet glue strands. then wrap yarn around the top and bottom joints.


What do you think? I hope you like it, and I hope it stores well, because I'm never doing it again!


There is still a gap right next to the top joint. I'll fix it later. Maybe. It's still cute. 

P.S. Printable found here.

What a Weekend

Sorry I'm behind on the crafty Valentine's Day posts. It's been a LOOOONG weekend. Ranger took me out on Friday since he wont be here in enough time to do any V-day festivities with me on Thursday, and I risked a restaurant. Didn't work. Barely touched my food and still got sick all weekend. And then his brother was in town, so once again, I was faced with the dilemma of going out to eat. But I thought I'd outsmart the allergies this time, so I called ahead to the restaurant. I had my whole menu worked out!

And then they changed restaurants. Luckily, to one I had already eaten at and knew something safe on the menu.

And then, very last minute, they changed it again. And this one, I was CLUELESS. So I had to make a fool of myself in front of his family by asking if there were any ingredients they couldn't pronounce in any of their dishes. They said I'd be safe with the ranch. It made my tongue numb. And I could only handle a few bites of spaghetti. I hate it. Ranger always comments on how I'm too thin and don't eat enough. He doesn't get that food kills me instead of keeping me alive.

So Saturday I was sick. And ONLY felt like blogging. Something productive and yet I didn't have to move any achy muscles in my body and I didn't have to talk with my sandpaper throat. And that's the day our internet crashes. So I have to call our internet provider, with my raspy throat. They tell me I'm not authorized for the account, call my husband on his dead-battery phone, wreck the internet even worse, and then say, "sorry, we're stumped." Thanks guys. That made the day better.

So I went all weekend without internet. Used tons of data on my phone and published the rough draft of the post I was working on to upload on Sunday before the internet crashed,  but I was glad I had something to post. Then Sunday night, Ranger's boss asks him if he's ready for the business trip he's supposed to be leaving for in a few hours. You know, the one he was supposed to not have to go to because he had asked for a bit of time off (FINALLY!). He reminded them he was supposed to be home, told them we had planned a Valentine's Dinner for Monday (Remember, Ranger's too busy for Thursday. And it was Family Home Evening, anyway).  And they guilt tripped him into it anyway. I was IRATE. They promised he'd be back by dinner, I said, "yeah, right, because you guys make sure he's here for the important events (he'd missed Christmas morning and the day we actually intended Christmas already, as well as a few other important events I had planned)."

 So then Monday I waited all day for the internet provider while preparing our amazing Valentine's dinner I'd mentally prepared for a whole month in hopes that Ranger might actually prove me wrong this time. Like he said he would and his boss promised. I worked my tail off. Seriously, the food was perfection (I'll show you). I said we'd be eating at 5. Then when I locked myself out of the house for an hour (seriously!) I pushed it back to 6:30. I never got the "groove" back, so it ended up taking a lot longer than that, still. At 8 I called Ranger to see where he was at, because he still wasn't home. Hadn't even left to come home yet. 5 hours away. I was beyond irate, now. I just spent all day cooking. Everyone said he'd be home. And now it was all wasted.

At least I can share it all with you.

I'll try not to be bitter about it in the posts...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Its a Soapbox Kind of Day

I've had a lot of things festering lately, and I've held them in because no one wants to hear them, and I'm sick of the festering, so while I'm sitting here waiting for the Internet tech guy to be here an hour after he said he would, I'm going to vent. I'm warning you do that if you don't want to read my venting, you don't have to. I'll even put the break in it to save you from reading my rantings! So nice of me, huh? ;)


Why do we live in a world that if we're late for a doctor's appointment, we are just out of luck, but the doctor can keep us waiting all day?

Why do we live in a world where we must be tied to our houses for four hours waiting for a service repairman to show up when if we leave it for the one minute he decides to show up, we're stuck waiting for another week?

Why do the people who never go to the doctor still have to buy insurance, when those that have free government insurance go more than they need to?

Why do we let schools take away our children's agency when our parents and grandparents and American ancestors fought so hard for the right of freedom?

Why are we bickering about gun control when we're losing our agency in every other respect, too?

Why do we balk at the idea of formaldehyde and cyanide, but not at calcium disodium EDTA, which is derived from them? Or limestone that can cause erosion and deformation in our skin, and therefore our esophagus, stomach, and intestines, yet we eat it regularly? How can our trusted FDA allow such a thing? And we're still worried about lead paint. At least I don't eat the paint.

Why is actually cooking an entire meal and eating it together such a rarity?

Why aren't we allowed to teach our children how to work anymore without facing a child labor law infraction? It's not like the schools teach work.

Why can't our children get to embrace their differences instead of being told they must all learn the same thing at the same time and in the same way? Why does my turtle have to learn how to climb the tree? It didn't work for Einstein.

Why can't our children play tag and chase, but they can bully in the halls and tattle on their "friends?"

Why does the court system think duel-custody ever works? If it does, it's the exception.

Why is physical abuse recognized, but emotional abuse is proven to cause more damage and gets ignored by the courts?

Why are we still trying for equal when what we really want is fairness, justice, and mercy?

Why do we fight so much for feminine equality when they've proven women were happier before the suffrage movement? I am grateful for my rights, and that I CAN do anything that I need to do, but just because I can doesn't mean I should. I have just as much right to raise my kid as you have to send them to daycare. But it's worse than that. Now women are overworked and spread too thin, and men don't know who they are. Women aren't trying to be equal, they're trying to be both women and men. And if they're both, they're overwhelmed and men have no purpose. and then we wonder why they get drawn into addictions so easily.

Why do "minorities" get special privileges, when all it does is keep them segregated? We cannot be equal if we're still catering to a difference. We cannot embrace differences if we treat someone differently because of them.

Why do we allow so much smut on tv and say "that's just the way it is?" why do people still pay for programming when it's filth?

Why do we have to buy an entire package if we choose cable when we'd be happier with fewer channels? Why can't we pick and choose and avoid those stations that are full of filth?

Why are the public channels so awful, too?

Why do we allow shows in our home that the parents are idiots? Do you know what message it sends to our kids? And you really expect them to come to you in times of need? They think you're stupid! The tv told them so.

Why do we wait for the world to educate our kids instead of teaching them long before the world has a chance?

Why do we allow government to rule our children and call it "education?" and why do we hope that they'll grow up and believe they have any semblance of control? Why do we think they'll be able to fight for their rights if we never tell them they have any?

Why do we have an institution in place for our kids, when the kids hate it, the parents hate it, and the teachers hate it? Why aren't those 3 voices allowed to dictate? They're the only people affected, yet they're the people with no voices.

Why do we buy into so much false advertising from our government but sue food chains when they don't label their poison as "hot?" why are we still buying their poison, anyway?

Why are we letting the system rule us, when we should rule the system. I just don't get it! I've tried it their way. I was empty. I felt nothing. I was just a Cow being prodded into the next stall and the next one until its my turn to be slaughtered, for the good of the system. WE are bigger than the system. We have brains! Why can't we be allowed to use them?

I've commented before about how I love the one guy that stands up when Loki says we like to be ruled. But sometimes I think Loki is winning. We are losing our liberty. And we are doing it to thunderous applause. We see all the evil and we aren't stopping it! We're losing our rights in ways we didn't even know we had. And it's got to stop. But it won't. It can't until we remember that the system works for us, we don't work for the system.