Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

How was your holiday? Did you go full turkey or settle for something less insane? Luckily, since Chris' family celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend I had like half of the dinner already done and in the fridge. I spent the most money I've ever spent in my life on cheese to make a super fancy Martha Stewart Mac & Cheese that was delicious and made an absolute ton of food. I had also made some quick green beans and an apple pie so today I just had to throw together a pecan pie, mashed potatoes, a Stouffers breaded chicken breast and some biscuits. It took about an hour and a half so that wasn't so bad.

I was sort of on a baking streak today. This morning I whipped up some banana nut muffins since I had a few bananas turning a horrible shade of black on the kitchen counter anyway. I also made cornbread muffins from scratch for the first time and I actually really liked them. I've always used the mixes before and they come out so disgustingly dry. This time they were light and fluffy and pretty damn tasty if I may say so.

I've also been doing some crafting and some Christmas planning. I've got my list together and the time line is possible but really tight. The list is only five items so that's already a massive improvement over previous years when I tried making 50 Christmas ornaments to go into all of our Christmas cards or had a list of 25 gifts to knit that included friends I hadn't seen in years and kids of friends and friends of friends. So this year we have:

1. Scarf for my sister

2. Matching gloves to go with scarf for my sister (if anything needs to be cut it will be this)

3. Surprise gift for Maddy (it's kind of ambitious so there's a chance you'll get it sometime in January)

4. Hobbes for Chris

5. Knit Elephant for Chris' niece

See, how reasonable does that list look? Super reasonable! The wildcard is that I didn't want to use the Lion Brand yarn that I can get cheap and already have a lot of and the local yarn shop barely carries any lower priced yarn. They're more high end so I ordered the yarn online from Knit Picks. Their yarn is affordable, machine washable and, in reviews, is supposed to be super soft. I placed the order yesterday but I just have to cross my fingers that they'll get it out on Monday and I'll, hopefully, get it in around the end of next week so that I can jump into the work. On an unexpected high note though I've already finished the scarf! It's a very simple crochet scarf that I saw on Ravelry. I started it last night and finished a few hours ago. Here's a terrible photo from my phone. I'll have to take a better one tomorrow.

Well, it's wicked late and I have to be at work at 8:30am so it's definitely time for bed. I've got my fingers crossed that it'll be totally dead tomorrow and I can zone out all day. I was told that it was dead last year and everyone watched a movie on someones computer. Although I am notorious for falling asleep during movies and I don't really want to inflict my snoring and drooling on my co-workers.

One thing that I'm so thankful for is your friendship. Happy Thanksgiving!


I woke up yesterday morning feeling tired, rushed and overwhelmed. I have had a rough couple of weeks and surely we just celebrated Thanksgiving Day a few weeks ago, right? At least that is what it feels like. So as surprised as I was, I couldn't help but be upset with myself for not being better prepared for the holiday.  I mean, it's not like my life is calendar free (2 mac's, an iphone, work deadlines).  I totally should have seen this coming, but I didn't.  So Thanksgiving was here and my brownies were not baked yet, I didn't buy/make any hostess gifts AND I had no idea what I was going to wear (this last one is huge)!  Right at that moment, the feeling of dread set in.  It was 6am, Turkey Day, and I was wishing for a time machine.  If my wish had come true, my week prior would have looked a little something like this:

Friday - Finish Holiday Runner that I haven't even started for my momma
Saturday - Hit Marshalls for 2 frames
Sunday - Needlepoint and a 5x7piece of fabric with a statement of why I am thankful for the hostesses of the dinners I was attending.
Monday - Place fabric in frame and wrap them up
Wednesday - Bake Brownies

But it didn't.  It looked more like, work, work, work and more work.  And obviously, I didn't spend my time when I wasn't working very wisely either.  That looked more like The Good Wife, Two Broke Girls, Parenthood, etc.  I really didn't have much to do.  I think since I normally host dinner at my house and have a million things to do in order to prepare for it, I figured I could knock out the tiny list I had in a second.  I just didn't plan on being mentally exhausted from work and other things going on in my life.  So what to do when overwhelmed?  N.O.T.H.I.N.G!  :)  And boy, that is what I did.

So back to 6am on Turkey Day.  I'm starting to panic, frantically thinking about what I can do to make the plans I had a reality.  That's when it hit me.  I'm focusing on the wrong things.  I am lucky enough to have family and friends that would be happy if I just showed up.  So I decided I would take a chill pill and still bake my brownies as planned and buy a couple of bottles of wine as hostess gifts before hitting their houses.  Have you noticed that a bottle of wine is the answer more times than not?  heeheehee

So once over that minor set back, this is how my day for giving thanks went.
We started the day meeting up with our cub scout pack at Riviera Church for breakfast. They host a yearly breakfast for their church members and community. After the boys filled their tummies they went to work setting the tables, organizing the kitchen and then serving the guests a yummy breakfast. They also washed dishes and cleaned up the dining room as needed. I am so proud of those boys!  My boog did serving duty, dish duty and greeter duty.  He was happiest serving and washing dishes.  Greeting duty was a challenge but good practice for him since he is very shy around strangers.

We headed home about 11am.  Our next stop wasn't until 1:30 so that gave me plenty of time to baked the brownies and find something to wear.  The latter being more difficult than it should have been.  But finally Boog and I were dressed, brownies packed and ready to head to our next stop - grandma and grandpa's!  Still kind of weirded out that I have so little to do on what is normally such a busy, crazy holiday for me, I drove to my parents house chatting with cookie about how we plan to spend our Christmas break.

At my parents house, dinner was not ready but my father and sister had everything under control.  Again, I had nothing to do so I hung out with my nephews and caught up with their lives.  I'm thinking I can totally get used to this way of celebrating a holiday.  No work - all eat and socialize.  I'm afraid I may never go back to hosting a dinner at my house again.  :)  We finally ate and everything was delicious.  Went for a walk around the block with the nephew and then it was time to say our goodbyes and head out to our next stop...Silvia's.

At my parents house

my seat at Silvia's

Silvia's house looked as good as it smelled.  She worked hard on her table decor for weeks prior to the big day and it paid off.  It was absolutely beautiful.  A lot of finishing touches came together at the last minute and couldn't have looked better if she had planned it that way.  Oh and the food tasted as good as it smelled.  We ate, the kids played, adults had great conversation, cleaned up and then it was time to head home.

On the drive home, my boog fell asleep so I spent that time thinking about how silly I was to allow myself to feel so badly earlier that morning.  It was a great day spent with family and friends that loved us with or without extravagant brownies and handmade gifts.  Did I still feel bad about not doing what I set out to do?  YES!  But something I really need to work on getting through my thick skull is that things don't always go as planned.  And that is okay.  It's not the end of the world.  At least that is what I'm trying to convince myself of.  :)

Hope you all had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I had.

Maddy =)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hiking in South Florida

Here is just a recap as to what I've been up to this month.

Earlier this month, our cub scout pack had a pack meeting where the boys receive any patches and belt loops they have earned.  This is always exciting for my cookie, but this meeting was way, way, way more exciting!  He finally earned his hiking stick.  He had to complete 6 hikes in order to receive it and finally that great day had arrived.  Now, we need to sand it and then stain it to his liking.  And any other hikes completed will earn him pins and accessories for his stick.  Needless to say, I'm a very proud momma.  Not only did he earn his hiking stick, but he is the youngest scout in the pack to do so!


Soon after, our cub scout pack did a pre-hike on Key Biscayne.  This is a good hike to get the boys ready to do the Old Cutler Hike that is 12.6 miles.  It also is a great opportunity for them to learn about our native plants here in South Florida.

Beautiful Key Biscayne
Some of the plants we came across during the hike were the Sable Palm (state tree),  Poison Wood (more poisonous than Poison Ivy I've heard), Sea Grapes and the Palmetto Palm.  Lately, I've been very lazy when it comes to taking pictures.  I promise to be good and take pictures of the trees mentioned next time we do this hike.  

Boog obviously brought along his hiking stick.  I mean what 8 year old boy that has worked as hard as he has, hiking over 40 miles in just 6 hikes, wouldn't bring his well deserved hiking stick?  Even if the only mountain we have here in South Florida is Mount Trashmore. :)  However, as excited as he was, I was certain he wouldn't make it past the first 10 minutes with the stick.  So, I was pleasantly surprised that he didn't ask me to carry it for him until almost the end.  As you can see from the first picture, it is a big stick that he still has to grow into.  :)  


The picture below was taken during the Old Cutler Hike last weekend.  As mentioned before, it totals 12.6 miles, starting at Bayside in downtown Miami and ending at the old Parrot Jungle in Pinecrest.  We almost didn't participate since it was pouring down rain at 6:45 that morning.  I don't know about you but I wasn't looking forward to hiking over 12 miles in wet clothes and sneakers.  But at 7am the rain stopped and we decided to take a chance and go for it.  We did have a chase car so if the weather got too bad, we could always hop in the dry car.  
Walking by the water in Coconut Grove

Its hard to tell in the picture above, but it ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day!  Which meant there was no need to seek refuge in the chase car.  But if we are talking honestly, as much as I hate getting caught in the rain, I started to wish for some around mile 8.  Boy were my feet hurting!!!!  Anyway, we persevered and completed the hike (sans the hiking stick) in 6 hours and with a feeling of great accomplishment.  This is our second year participating in the hike.  woo hoo!!!!


Well that is pretty much what we have been up to recently... leaving very little energy left to do anything crafty unfortunately.  Here's to hoping I can squeeze in some quality time with my sewing machine this weekend.


Wait, before I check out, I'd like to ask for your help with something.  My friend's mom gave me a ziplock full of old spools.  I know...she's awesome right?!  I just love them and am dying to do something with them.  I've googled it to see what others have come up with and the only thing I somewhat liked was to frame them and hang them on the wall.  I mainly liked the idea because hanging them on the wall would allow me to appreciate them whenever I want, but I'm not sold on it either.  If you know of any other ways to display/use these cool spools let me know.  Thanks!

Maddy =)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still in progress

Just sitting here working on this scarf while waiting for my son to get out of class. I should have been done a long time ago but I kind of stopped counting (shhhh...don't tell anyone) and had to take a bunch of rows out and start over. I'm hoping to finish it before 2012. Sheesh!

Here is a pic.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monkeys for a Good Cause!

I'm shocked that I was able to whip out a pirate monkey and a superhero monkey in just about a week! A co-worker let me know last week that she was pulling together an auction and dinner to raise money for her father's medical bills. She mentioned that she and her husband were planning to walk around the local shops and see if they could get some donations to auction off. 

I volunteered my limited crafting skills since I knew I couldn't afford to donate money and I went with my tried and true monkeys. They're a guaranteed crowd pleaser and I figured that they would appeal to people looking for cute Christmas gifts. This was the first time that I used the safety eyes that I got at Mary Jo's.  I've always used buttons before since they were the only thing I could find in New York. I was a little thrown with having to put the eyes on before I sewed the head to the body since the safety eyes have backing pieces that go on the inside. I'm so used to those details being the very last bit which allowed me to fuss and fidget with them more.

Sorry for the terrible camera phone photos but I snapped them quickly before running into work. 

Coming Soon: the Elvis monkey that I've been working on for about six months. I'm only a leg and a pompadour away from finishing him up.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Finally Finished Pumpkins

After way too long I finally finished all of the pumpkins that I was working on. They were finished up just a few days after Halloween so I guess that still counts as timely. The large pumpkin has eight or nine different velcro faces to change out. While I definitely wish that I'd been able to finish these sooner I'm really happy with how they came out.

I'm thinking about sending the second largest one to Alex as part of his crazy belated birthday present. I've had a stack of stuff to send to him sitting on a bookshelf for about a month. I also realized today that I've only got a month and a half until Christmas and I haven't even bought the supplies I would need to make the ridiculous amount of stuff that I want to make. Yikes. I'm going to sit down today and make a list of what I want to make and then cut that list in half to maybe resemble what I'll have time to actually make. Have you started your Christmas crafting? Maybe next year will be the year that we finally make a list in January and make something each month so that come Christmas we're swimming with finished stuff to give and totally stress free. Just thinking of it sounds so nice and so totally impossible.

Paid to Watch TV!

Sorry that I've been out of touch for so long. It's been a combination of overwork and pulling a muscle in my back. Just saying that I pulled my back makes me feel so incredibly old. I wasn't even doing anything crazy. I picked up a stack of magazines and then like thirty seconds later felt like I had torn something extremely important in my lower back. I then proceeded to pretend it wasn't that bad when it totally was and pushed myself to help with the cleanup of Chris' step-sister's wedding reception and hung out with the family for hours and hours until I got in the car to head to dinner with everyone and just the act of getting in the car hurt so bad I burst into tears. We skipped dinner and I lathered myself in icy hot and downed a few doses of Tylenol. It's been a week and I'm finally getting back to where I don't groan every time I stand up.

So let's catch up. Chris and I got to be part of the Nielsen ratings which was pretty cool. We initially got something in the mail about a month ago with $2 and a survey. We filled it out, sent it back and then got a follow up phone call. I guess they liked our answers and the following week we received our TV Diary and $30! So Nielsen paid for our dinner. I was really surprised that the process was as old-fashioned as just keeping a diary. I made sure to watch some Vampire Diaries since I totally dig Damon and need to get my weekly fix. I was surprised by how little House Hunters International and Real Housewives ended up in the diary. I feel like I'm constantly watching House Hunters. It felt really good to be able to support the shows that we really enjoy watching so, hopefully, they'll stick around a little longer and we only needed to pull out the white out once so the people at Nielsen won't think we're total boobs.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Like I mentioned the other day, I've started on handmade Christmas gift #2 - a crochet scarf.  I've been working on it during breaks from work, in the carpool line at Cookie's school and while I wait for my Cook to finish with his tutoring session.  While that may sound like it's in my hands pretty much at all times, I still wonder if my fingers should be hurting as much as they do.  I mean if this was the case for everyone, would there be as many crocheters or knitters out there working their magic? My fingers really do hurt so I'm guessing not.  Then what is the reason for my pain?  Old age?  Could be, but I'd like to think...NO.  Arthritis?  Man, I hope not.  Sprained finger?  I'd probably be having trouble typing up this post if that is what it is right?  Plus, what are the odds that I've sprained ALL 10 fingers???  :)  I'm thinking it's my form or technique.  Fortunately, unlike the other reasons mentioned, this I can resolve through learning to crochet properly.  Not to offend youtube and all its know how (it's my go to for everything!), but I may need to resort to taking an actual class where I am in the same room as the teacher.  

Hey, wait!  Jeanne, what if we skype?  Do you think you could tell if the way I'm holding the yarn, the hook or my glass of wine is the problem?    See, its times like these that I wish you were my roomie again.  Miss you girl!

If I can figure out how to make a video of myself painfully at work, I will post it.  That way any of you in blogland can give me your two cents too.  No promises though.  I'm still very new to all of this.

Maddy =)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Handmade gifts and stuff

It is an absolutely beautiful day here in South Miami.  The temperature is a cool 68 degrees with a nice breeze which makes it feel even cooler.  Unfortunately, Boogie Boo and I are a bit under the weather.  We were actually supposed to be camping with our Cub Scout Pack in Lakeland for the Wings 'n Things big event, but since the temps were supposed to be in the 40's up there and I was feeling too achy to pack up the truck with all our gear, I made the executive decision to stay home.  Although I know it was the right decision, I can't help but feel bummed about missing out on all the fun.  Well, there is always next month's campout at Oleta River State Park in North Miami.  Hopefully it will warm back up for that one.  Cook isn't into riding bike trails all that much so we will probably spend our free time at their beach.  But for now, we will have to settle for relaxing on the sofa watching Rio and Despicable Me.

Can you believe November is here already???  I can't!  It seems like yesterday was the beginning of summer vacation and I was telling Jeanne how I wanted to start on my handmade Christmas gifts.  Mind you, I had the same idea for last Christmas and only ended up making 1 gift.  Okay, so how many have I completed for this Christmas?  One.  Yep, you heard me right.  One.  But I'm not worried in the slightest.  If I stay focused, I may be able to......ugh, who am I kidding?  I have 24 23 gifts to make by Christmas Eve.  I think what I need to do is revise my list.  There is no way, I can make all of these gifts, especially when 1/2 are quilts.  Ay mama!   Yes, I'm going to have to revise THE LIST! 

Okay, off to breakfast with Boog and the girls.  Don't worry.  I am taking gift #2 with me.  Its a crochet scarf that I can work on while we are waiting to be seated.  I hope you have a wonderful Saturday.

Maddy =)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Good Advice for Christmas 2011 email

I received this email from my friend Wendy today.  I love the gift giving advice it has so I thought I would share it with you.  Let me know what you guys think.

Maddy =) 


Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.
Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups -- throw up a post on Craigs List in the Rants and Raves section in your city -- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?