Category Archives: Friends and Family

“You know Mommy? Some days I wish I could be in an all out Nerf War…”


You know son? Sometimes so do I….

(random thoughts from dear son in the car June 25, 2010…)

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“Mommy? I Wonder What the Largest Rainstorm in the World Would be Like…? I know it’s not possible, but what if the largest rainstorm in the world was a drizzle?”


(More random thoughts from dear son in the car, June 26, 2010…)

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“Mommy, I wonder what it was like for the first people who first experienced rain….? Maybe it was scary. Or maybe they were like: ‘Look – water from the sky! Wonder if it’s edible….?’”


(More random thoughts from dear son in the car, June 27, 2010.)

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“Mommy? You know what’s the one thing a person doesn’t want to see when they’re hungry? A Burger King…. And that happens to me a lot.”


(Random thoughts from Dear Son in the car one summer morning….)

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“Mommy? Remember that restaurant we went to on our trip where they throw rolls at people? I want to go back sometime. They never gave me a roll when I asked for one….”


(Dear son’s thoughts in the car one day…)

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Saving Vision…


Not everything is about money.  Being wealthy doesn’t always mean stock piles of cash.  Living abundantly doesn’t always mean you never have worries.  And being rich doesn’t always mean it’s at the expense of others or that you don’t care or donate or serve. There are many ways to measure happiness and wealth and I have always been a proponent for getting outside of the media box and ancient/out-dated religious outlooks on these things.  Money is not evil.  People who have money are not necessarily evil or happy for that matter.  People without money are not necessarily unsuccessful or for that matter poor.  “Money” is nothing more than a tool.  Many people really don’t realize where their beliefs come from and I often challenge them.  Believe what you want, but life is always better when you choose your beliefs, eyes wide open, deeply with thought and without emotional fervor, instead of falling into them.

However, there are times when money is the only barrier between you and a calling, between what’s right and what’s wrong.

As a mother I am at one of those impasses.  There are a few things right now that only a monetary income can help me with.  I’ve fought a great fight, I’ve been a good person and parent and I’m very successful in many, many ways.  That said, finances remain a concern and it’s time for me to grab the bull by the horns and get more serious about marketing myself online.  And if I’m really in business, to get out there and ask for that sale.

What’s changed?  Why am I suddenly ready to wrestle with this less gently?  My children need me.  Even if I can’t succeed for myself alone, I have to for them.

It’s my son.  And my daughter too.  It’s a lot of things.  But right now, something big is in my focus.  Though we’ve managed to get far with our son’s vision therapy, managed to actually improve his eyesight, we still need more funds to finish his treatment.  Funds we don’t have and that insurance apparently no longer covers.   Managing insurance petitions, etc. has been a full time job alone.  And I just cannot express how entirely stressful and discouraging at times.  Insurance we pay for, but that will not help my son with funds that will give him back the vision he needs to succeed in life.

So it falls to a mother to find a way.  When the future can be changed, when your child doesn’t have to live the life of someone legally blind enough not to be able to drive, when you have found the right doctors and the right treatments, when 90% of his vision issues are correctable and he doesn’t have to struggle through the rest of his school years for comprehension just because his brain and eyes are different – how can a mother not do everything in her power to find the money to make it happen?  The difference between right and wrong.  If you know someone needs help who cannot help themselves and you turn away when you could make that difference, how could you live with yourself?  And how much more so for a mother?  Blame it on the government; blame it on God?  Whine for fairness but never act?  These are not things I understand. I don’t have the time or the luxury.

I imagine in 20 years this kind of vision recovery treatment will be easily insured, just as it took time for chiropractic care to receive any respect or medical coverage.  It’s just too new to be there now.  His type of vision deficiencies too rare.  But the treatment is effective and life altering. The great news is that we have proof – our son’s vision has already drastically improved!  But we’re not done and the funds we managed to gather thus far have run out.  The tool that I need is currently missing.  His present growth could cause him to back-track if we don’t stick with and finish the therapy.

Medical bills, deployments….  There have been no extra funds in a long time.  (Were there ever?)  Smart, frugal decisions have kept us going along with a lot of hard work.  But sadly, hard work and a good heart doesn’t seem to be quite enough right now.

So it’s time to turn up the business a notch.  I’ve had to pass on local shows I would normally work and rely on for income, because most of my “studio” and supplies are necessarily packed away while our house is on the market.  Business goals for the year are having to be postponed to make room for other foci.  I had thought we’d be set with the sale of our house and able to start the next segment of our son’s therapy by now.  Instead, we’re having to wait.  And school starts in less than two weeks.

Which means my answers have to be found in more attention to my online business presence, planning and marketing.  And perhaps even in asking for help.  I meet with my son’s doctor in a couple weeks to discuss a revamp of his treatment plan, retest for new glasses and payment terms.  Terms I have no concept of how I will be able to meet right now.  We are alone in this.  There is no family to help, no funds from elsewhere, no doting grandparents with ample wallets, just whatever self-made outcomes John and I can produce.  We are two hard-working first-born, forging our way on our own.  He’s keeping us afloat on the bills we’re paying off.  I have to figure out the medical funds.  And I have to figure it out now.

Up until now, I’ve been a successful business owner largely via face-to-face sales and public speaking.  Not enough to be comfortable, but enough to help make ends meet, time and again.  Online, well that’s a different energy somehow.  I’m socially successful online, but have as of yet to make a financial dent equal to my physical face-to-face accomplishments.

So I guess it’s time to stop putting online business on the back burner to local shows.  It’s time to switch for a while from producing physical goods to creating an effective online network and plan.  It’s time to finally take full ownership of offering my services online and getting my voice heard.

All of it? In exchange for my children.  So I can have the schedule I need to see those doctors and seize those opportunities, and so I can have the income to pay for them.  I can’t be hesitant to market myself anymore.  And I can’t be worried about how others take that either.

I have a child’s vision to save, and I suppose as well… my own.

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“I’m Such A Genius…”


Son: “Mommy Look!”
Me: “What son?”
Son: “I’m such a genius, I created a robotic arm to pick my nose!”

O_o


Originally published on June 7, 2011 on Family Quirks

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A Mother’s Surreal Moment #5987…


This story originally published on “Family Quirks” on June 24, 2010…


So I go by Sprouts on the way to pick up the kids from school. (It’s kind of like a Trader Joe’s.) And they have these great crunchy Bavarian pretzels. Basically a larger gourmet size dehydrated pretzel.

So I pick up a bag of them and have it in the car to give some to the kids, because they are generally ravenous when I pick them up from school.

The kids get into the car, we’re heading down the road and they find out I have pretzels in the car.

“YAY! Those are my favorite!” my son quips.

And I start to feel the inner satisfaction a mother feels when she knows she got it right.

And then he goes on: “They have this interesting texture that when you break them makes the edges kind of rough. And when your lip itches from the salt, you can scratch your lip with the pretzel.”

…… :blink-blink: ……

Umm, gee – that was not at all what I expected to hear……!
My kid… go figure.

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Zombie Squad On Your Side


We were out and about in AZ on our family vacation when I saw this car next to us in Phoenix.  I busted out laughing and just had to share a pic!  Too cool, too cool! (Click on the photo to see it larger and up close!)

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My Owl – Keep Watch Tonight…


I spent a little time in KS with my brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew.  Their newborn, Lilly, was born by c-section, so we went up not just to visit, but to help.  There was plenty to do with three kids under school age in the house.  And dear Lilly’s sleep schedule hadn’t ironed out yet, as is par for the course.

Staying a week up there was a change of pace from home at the end of the school year and a joy to spend time fulfilling the role of “aunt.”  Over the last weekend of my visit I made a little owl amigurumi from a crochet magazine for my two-year old nephew.  I’d already been making flowers for my oldest niece and wanted to find a ball “recipe” I thought I saw in a magazine.  I was flipping through pages when my 5-year-old niece noticed the owl design.  “You know… Aunt Julia…” she said, drawn out with coy emphasis.  “I think you should make my brother an owl.  Maybe the little one….  (innocent pause)  Don’t you think?”  I looked at her with a barely veiled “is that so?” in my eyes.  And so it was that the simple ball toy for a boy that I was looking for became abandoned to a more involved ami owl.

I always bring yarn with me everywhere.  Trips especially.  I looked through all my bags and found enough navy blue yarn to complete the job.  “Ma’ owl,” my dear nephew kept saying as I crocheted, pointing to the photo in the magazine.  I worked on it all afternoon and on into the next day between chores and other activities.  Then on the second day, as the body was finally stuffed and starting to take form with the eyes sewn on, my nephew got real excited as he realized the owl was coming into being.  “Ma’ owl done?” he kept running up to ask as I sewed on each piece.  It seemed like every 5 minutes at this point.  “Not yet, still working on his feet/wing/beak,” I’d say each time.

Then finally the owl was complete and he was elated.  I managed to finish it right at his bed time, and he carried it around with him as he got ready.  “Owls are nocturnal,” his big sister said at one point.  Then referring to her new baby sister she piped up and said, “Maybe Lilly’s nocturnal!”  My sister-in-law and I shared a chuckle.

Then before they headed off to bed, my nephew put his new owl on the kitchen counter to keep watch.  Eyes on the fridge I guess – we’re not sure why.  The next night he had his owl sit on the banister outside his bedroom to keep watch.  I look forward to hearing more about where it roosts for the nights to come.

It’s a wondrous thing, to be able to create something special, while the kids watch, quick as a wink like that.  Wondrous indeed.

I’ll try to post which pattern this was when I find the magazine I used.  I don’t remember what it was or where I got it.

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Home To Market We Go!


1005 East Austin Avenue.  I can’t believe how good the colors we picked for the outside paint job look! There is a rock wall in front and in back of the entire property.

Actually, the house has been on the market a few weeks now.  But per expectation, life and the craziness of this selling process, along with the end of the school year and details inherent, I haven’t had a chance to post about it yet.

As you probably know by now, I’ve been talking about getting our house on the market and sold for…  awhile now.  It’s taken us a long time.  And aside from John’s deployments and even my car accident when I lost the use of my hand for awhile, the whole process leading up to this final culmination has been one of the most important and emotional challenges in our family’s history.  It’s been a healing experience as well.  It’s also been a LOT of work and a lot of funds.  In fact, as we filled out the seller’s disclosure and had to provide all the receipts we could, it was both amazing and cathartic to realize that we have indeed sunk over $45,000 into this place in the name of major repairs and necessary upgrades while we’ve lived here.  That is, from what I could quantify and find the receipts for, as unfortunately a lot of my paperwork is all packed up.  Holy cow.  I knew we have spent and updated a lot.  I knew it felt like life was eating us up at times, but I did not have a clear number on the total picture until now.  No wonder… about a lot.

I made the pot rack the first year that John deployed.

The last year in particular has been a year of tears and more work than I thought I could survive at times.  A lot of it was about letting go. But we’re here – the house is officially finished, our clutter is gone. She’s staged, on the market and everything was done right.  The way I wanted.  As long as it took, we did it! No future owners will ever have the headaches we have had.  Everything is DONE.  There is nothing major left and the house looks great.  Can it be?  We did it!  

More red pine on the ceiling of the master bath. This room is large enough to be a master bedroom.

The house is not only beautiful, but she feels like a confident and graceful lady in her prime now.  I’m in love with my home again.

That said, no, I don’t love her enough to stay.  That’s not the kind of understanding we’ve had, this house and me.  She’s cared for us and we have cared for her.  But it’s time to set us all free.

Original wood floors. And we preserved this corner with the bead board wall.

She has no room for the studio I need, the workshop hubby needs, or the separate bedrooms and closets the kids need.  Besides that, the property is about to become part of the new residential historical district in our home town of Round Rock, TX.  (Bit of trivia: the very same town where the original 1974 flick “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was filmed.)

The rock wall that has served as a back drop for so many of my photos.

It will be an honor to receive the historical note, but it also means this house needs someone who will love her 1950’s bungalow style, the coming tax breaks the city will give and someone who will keep her well-loved and preserved.  And on a more personal level, someone to love and care for her very old, giant trees.  The old oak in the backyard alone is somewhere around 500-600 years old.  A majestic old tree and my children’s favorite.  Then the two old pecan trees, some of the largest in all of downtown.  (sigh)  Not to mention the old rock wall that surrounds the property.  The rock wall I photograph many of my hats in front of.  I will miss a lot of this place’s charm.

More tongue ‘n groove wood. The biggest hallway I’ve ever seen.

It won’t be emotionally easy to leave here.  This is where my kids have grown up.  All their memories are here.  Climbing trees, forts made in the rock wall, dirt they fought over, slides combined with kiddie pools, neighborhood cats, the cardinal families that eat at our back yard bird feeder, bringing new babies every year.  The butterflies that fill our backyard trees every spring, the dragon flies that fill our front yard every summer.  Even the kid on the back side of our lot who plays in a band while we take turns lazing in the hammock outside.  The giant hallway the kids played in, the living room large enough for two pianos and ten floor puzzles, the garden tub they pretended to swim in, that bathroom large enough to accommodate an XL changing table next to tub, sink and shower.  So many unique things this house offered us.  So many stories.

Yes, there are two pianos in this living room. It’s that big. Tongue ‘n groove red pine planks decorate the vaulted ceiling.

Our kids have worked hard on this place and left their mark too.  They helped pack, paint and fix and even know how to run a good bead of caulk now.  And before saying goodbye, they feel the need to share their home with their friends.  And provide a meaningful closure to a chapter ending.  JT has had his friends over for his recent birthday party.  My baby is now 13.  Now it’s time for Jessica’s birthday party.  My 15 year old.  It’s going to sound funny, but having this last birthday party gathering with our daughter’s friends is really important not just to her, but to all of us.  She wants “Thanksgiving Dinner” for her birthday and we will enjoy baking and smoking a turkey just for her.

I’m not sure exactly what to expect, or what the summer brings for us.  We got it all done, and now it’s a waiting game of finding the right buyer, someone who would consider living in the historical district of one of the most “recession proof” towns in the US.  Or so we hear.  I hope that timing will work out so that we can move before school starts.  Find that someone who will be so excited to live in an older home that has nothing left that it needs anymore, aside from the typical carpet allowance, though we’ve already replaced most of that.  The rest is waiting on my antique pianos to move, since it costs more to move them than to carpet the entire house.  When we first moved here, the house was so not up to speed that American Home Shield wouldn’t cover anything.  Now it will cover everything.

And there she is, on display, ready to be bought for a price. I never imagined our house could look so nice. It’s been a blessing to see it through the eyes of others.

Living here has big city convenience with a small town feel.  We live at the heart of the community, middle of everything, but far enough away from the busiest street.  Quiet neighborhood, pleasant sidewalk strolls, 5-star dining, local library, my favorite coffee shop, the city pool, the monthly Market Days shopping (and vending when I have a booth), the new Main Street Plaza Fountains and Round Rock Donuts just a few blocks away.  Kind of awesome when I slow down and really think about it.  I’ll miss living just down the road from those donuts on the weekends I crave them.  Not to mention the light walk each year for the free music, cookies, hot cocoa and bonfire at Round Rock Christmas Family Night.

What I do know is that as summer break is here, I’m going to soak it up.  Sure, I need to have things 24/7 “show ready.”  But we can do that.  Not a problem.  Not really.  Flylady style routines go far to keep us on track.  And true, most of my life is packed up into boxes now.  But I can enjoy this last bit of respite, a simplified life with my pretty, pretty house.

Both my attitude and life has become more reverent.  Knowing that something sacred is taking place and a life-altering transition awaits for us all.  Awakening at each moment, drinking in each picture, capturing each step, smell, and emotion in this place, like a movie in slow motion.

She’s happy now… brimming with excitement.  And so am I.

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Have You Heard of The Five Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do) – From The Tinkering School?


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About 18 months ago I was introduced to an educational concept I’m completely in love with, called The Tinkering School. It’s right up my alley in a Maker Faire kind of way, calling straight to the heart of my inner child. As well, it sweetly validated a general sense of parental philosophy when it comes to learning what I call essential life-skills and the duty of parents to expose their children to the real world and humanity’s natural state of innovation.

Started by Gever Tulley, The Tinkering School concept provides an exploratory environment using real tools and real materials to get kids directly into the mix of experimenting and learning how to take an idea and simply make it. But also it stimulates kids to learn how things do work, might work and could work. A rather organic way of learning if you ask me – very, very natural. I love it! (Or is that just my inner steam punker?)

I am not new to the philosophy. If anything, it’s a part of the

Jack’s Key Blade (Kingdom Hearts)

code of life I carry in my heart. You can see an example of this in my daughter’s creative efforts pictured here. I didn’t design any of her key blade (based off a magical weapon in a popular video game called Kingdom Hearts). She did the whole thing herself. Hers was the spark, hers was the plan. About all I did was take her to the lumber store for the dowel rod and the dry cleaners for the cardboard tubes from hangers. Aside from a little cutting Daddy really had to do, this entire project, even down to asking a thrift store to help her find a piece of wood in their scraps so she could cut stars out of, was all her. On the one hand, I’m adamant about taking care of the things my kids can’t do yet, like driving themselves to the store. On the other hand, I’m adamant that if they have an idea, they should get creative and make a plan themselves too. Even down to “What kind of materials and how will I acquire them?” I love supporting them even though my pocketbook is not very thick, and I know better than most that where there’s a will, there a way. Figuring out how to afford things is a life skill too.

Halloween 2009 – Fan Fiction – Kingdom Hearts

So as you can imagine, finding the following video on Five Dangerous Things (Kids Should Do) just made me feel incredibly happy, validated and empowered in my principles of parenting! #1 on his list just flat out made me giggle. Then again, they all kind of did.

Austin is lucky to have it’s own version of the school called Austin Tinkering School. Though related in concept, the two schools are actually independent from each other. My son had the exciting experience of attending their boat making workshop (big enough for a kid or two to sit in) on his birthday last year and LOVED it. As my tween engineer, it helped make for one of the best memories he’s probably had in getting to just get right into the materials and try to make something without someone trying to lecture him first or slow him down.

So all the links are here – go check it out!

I found out about the Austin Tinkering School through mutual friends of Austin Area Homeschoolers. If you landed on my page because you’re looking for alternative educational approaches and life enrichment, etc., I do highly recommend AAH as a great local resource, whether you are a traditional homeschooler or not.

So Happy Tinkering Ya’ll!

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Oklahoma Earthquake & Asteroid Nears The Moon


Listening to the blessed soft patter of rain this morning (something of a rarity this year due to the crippling Texas drought), I’m struck by the surrealism of recent events.  An earthquake of 5.6 magnitude shook my hometown of Lawton, OK last night. Right about the time I was Tweeting that, why yes, I was going to take advantage of that extra hour of sleep afforded by going off Daylight Savings Time.  (I didn’t.) Reports of the earthquake flooded in from Kansas City, MO to Dallas, TX.  And I found myself logging into Facebook to see if my family was reporting it too.  They were.

Luckily, it has not seemed to have caused a lot of damage, but it is scary for Okies none the less.  Speaking from experience growing up there, I can tell ya – we’re used to tornadoes in the Great Plains.  Not earthquakes.  Houses aren’t built for that there.  And as a friend on Facebook pointed out last night, thank goodness there weren’t a bunch of broken gas lines from it.  That would definitely make for a very difficult winter.

Why on earth was an earthquake like that felt across so many states?  Well, in reading  the tectonic information available about this region, it seems that earthquakes east of the Rockies are not as deep as on the West Coast and they spread out more.  Not to mention they are way less frequent.  So even though the epicenter seemed to be near Oklahoma City, OK, the effect as far away as Wichita Falls, TX  and Kansas City, MO was still enough to knock walls.

By the way, if you felt the quake, be sure to report it.

It’s hard to fathom that actual earthquakes of significance took place in my home state this weekend.

You gotta understand, it’s like a joke that turns out to be real.  It’s not like I am not already seasoned (or the whole Comanche County residential area for that matter) to loud noises and the rumbles of the earth.  Lawton resides next to Ft. Sill, where the artillery practice was so common place when I was growing up there, that no one native to the area ever thought twice about it when the ground thunder rolled.  To this day, if I hear a rumble from nearby quarry, which is nothing like artillery fire, I have to think twice before it really even registers.

In Lawton, you could hear the artillery rumble approach your position, rattle store windows, etc. and then leave.  I remember once as a kid when apparently one of the shells went off a little closer to town than usual and some store windows broke.  Not to mention the loud chinook helicopters which seemed to make both the air and the ground rumble at the same time.  We always ran outside to watch those powerful buggers fly in.  All that thunder, rock and roll – not a big deal.

I spent a year of college out in LA and remember experiencing my first earthquake (5.7) Feb 1990.  I didn’t notice it at first and then it felt like a long artillery rumble, lasting about 10 seconds instead of 2-3 seconds at most.  There were girls around me screaming.  People dashing under school desks. I stood there blinking stupidly and said “That’s it? What’s the big deal?”     I was a little disappointed in the experience.  My edgy classmates griped at me, asking me what would it take to impress me.

I suppose I should have had more appreciation.  After all, I grew up up near the Wichita Mountains where a minor fault line does reside, complete with a seismograph somewhere out at Meers, OK, just outside of Lawton.  I remember watching it for awhile at the restaurant when I was a kid.  (By the way, Meers Burgers are the best!)  In spite of knowing about the fault line and seeing little bumps on the monitor, there was never anything of note.  The Wichita Mountains are amongst the oldest on the planet. Mt. Scott, a glorified hill to most folks, is even an ancient dormant volcano.  It was like a joke.

So of course, with all this perspective, it feels strange for the “joke” to become real.  They say this makes it the largest earthquake ever in Oklahoma history.

But if there’s anything that life has taught me, it’s that anything is possible, no matter how unlikely it might seem.  Even a giant asteroid approaching to skim past our moon.

That’s just the way the thunder rolls.

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Don’t Put That Spoon In The Microwave


“Don’t put that spoon in the microwave,” I tell my 12 year old son.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “Unfortunately I’m not a moron in that way.”

“Ummm…” I say. “You mean to say ‘fortunately’ son.”

“No, I don’t,” he tells me.

“I mean unfortunately. Because I really would like to see what would happen.”


Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )

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Back To School – Easy Homemade Cereal Bars


Here’s a recipe we love that uses up the last dregs of peanut butter in the jar and of cereal in the box.

You know… how everyone eats up most of the container and then leaves that little bit that no one ever seems to finally finish off?  I feel you sisters.

I prefer not to throw out good food.  So when the peanut butter is nearly gone, I scrape down the jar with a rubber spatula.  And when open cereal gets a little stale, I toast it (remove any raisins or other fruit, etc. during the toasting).

And I make these cereal bars with the last bits of unwanted scraps (with a little supplementing).  Actually you can toast the cereal and eat it as cereal if you want, but then I wouldn’t have the excuse to make these. 

The family LOVES this recipe.  (Just made a batch this morning in fact.)  You can mix nuts and other things in too, so this is a basic, bare-bones recipe that is customizable too.   And of course you don’t have to use stale cereal.

You don’t have to toast the cereal either, but we do think it tastes better since it soaks up the gooey liquid.  The crisper to start the better.

Homemade Cereal Bars
Quick and Easy No-Bake Recipe!

  • image7 cups toasted cereal (oatmeal, corn/bran flakes, granola, crispy rice, oat rings, nearly anything will work)
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
    (for a maple flavor, use pancake syrup or real maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or candy-coated chocolate

 To toast cereal, spread 2-3 cups in single layer on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes (watch it closely) under broiler.  Don’t toast raisins or fruit. (The second batch of cereal toasts much faster than the first, and ovens vary, so watching is key.)

Grease bottom and edges of a 13×18 pan with spray or a finger dipped in grapeseed oil.  Combine sugar and corn syrup in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla.  Stir until smooth. Fold in toasted cereal mix. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour mix into the greased pan. Use WET hands to press the mix into the pan evenly. Cool at room temperature or stick in the fridge. Cut into bars or tear into bites if you can’t wait.  (Pizza cutter works great!)  Store in an airtight container.

🙂 You may share my recipe as long as you include my name (Julia M. Chambers) and a link to my blog and/or this post. 🙂

Happy back to school y’all!

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.” You know you want to! : )


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I’m Not Just Crafty – I’m Handy!


I dropped off the Earth for a bit there. Sorry. There’s only been a little crochet in my life of late, as most of my every day reality has been about working with the home remodeling.

Want to see what I’ve been up to though?  I’m really excited – things are coming together for the house!

Oh, and there is a new crochet pattern in the works too.  Take a look below!  😀

The New Bath!

Since the last time I posted, we have redone most of the front bath.  So new floor, new sink and of course the new toilet I did a couple of months ago.  Yes ma’am, I installed the toilet.

image

Here’s the old front bath. This room used to be the front porch area until it was built in sometime in the late 50’s, early 60’s. Here we have already pulled up most of the old tile. Notice the position of the toilet, which practically sits on the (left) wall you don’t see. No one with long legs could really sit on it. We changed that.

image

And this is the old antique cast iron sink from the 20’s. It found a new home.

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Old Elgin tub faucets. These have to go. Still working on this one.

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Phone photos can be quite handy when you’re measuring and asking for help at Home Depot. Let me tell you!

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There was some old water damage around the toilet, which we rebuilt and completely fixed.

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We decided to keep the quaint old light and mirror.  Kind of reminds me of my grandfather. There was a light something like this in his old house when I was little.

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Here’s the new floor and we’re getting ready to turn the toilet so it’s not awkward like it was.

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Voila! We haven’t finished painting the trim, but here’s the new look!

New Energy Efficient Windows!

We had those old wood double hung windows in here and even with an extra layer of (old) storm windows over those, it really just wasn’t very energy-efficient. Not to mention we needed to change some of the framing so we can finish painting the trim outside.

Our new windows are so pretty, and we definitely notice a positive difference in the room temperature, in spite of the 107 degree weather outside! Also, the new screens  really don’t hinder the view at all. Can you tell there are screens on these windows?  Oh yes, and there’s my baby grand.

The New Carpet!

We started ripping up the old carpet. It was state of the art once upon a time with its textured look, but not today. We started with replacing the kids room and the hallway carpet, as it was in the greatest need of replacement. The living and bedroom will get done later since I received quotes for $300-$1000+ just to move my antique baby grand piano to another room temporarily and back for the carpeting project. It’s cheaper to move it across town! :\ The carpet company says the type we chose will be available at least through the end of the year, so we’ll plan on replacing the rest when we close and the piano actually moves out for good.

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That’s the old original wood plank floor underneath.

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The kids room – only the pad is in here and it already looks so much better!

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When the guys put the furniture back, I asked them to turn the kids’ bed for me. It looks so much better. Our son asked to just have his mattress on the floor so he wouldn’t have to keep cleaning under his bed while we get the house ready to show. LOL. 🙂  The room has so much more space now. Amazing.

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We have new cushy carpet! I never understood why people liked vacuuming until I realized it’s because my old textured carpet didn’t really let me see for sure what I have vacuumed. I can’t believe how quick this was to vacuum. I think I must have vacuumed the same spots over and over with the old carpet. :/ Who knew that new carpet might save you time?

Some Scratched Floor Patching!

I’m amazed at the amount of people who have recently come into my house and told me how much they like the distressed floors. 😕 The white washing has worn down.  I’ve even been told not to do anything to it.  However, I decided to see if I could touch it up a bit.  Here are photos of my test patch on one of the most distressed spots, next to the front door.

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This is the after patching photo of the same spot as the other photo, turned the right way. I just touched up the white washing some since everyone keeps telling me not to do much to the floor. This was my test spot to see how it would look.

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Somehow my photo was turned during the upload, but these are the hard wood floors in half the house. Lots of distressing in them.

OK – There’s Some New Crochet!

My hands only cooperate some of the time right now.  But I did manage to work on a new pattern, spurred by a request on Ravelry. She’s testing it for me now. It was more writing than anything, but I think this will be a good project to use in the future to teach a more advanced technique.

Unfortunately, though, my hands are too swollen to crochet right now. 😦

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Last Minute Boot Toppers Pattern, designed for a fellow crocheter’s need request. What do you think?

The New Laundry/Pantry Room!

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It still needs curtains and a new lighting solution, but my goodness this is a brand new room, looking better than it did when we moved in! Andrea gave me good ideas to continue with too. More photos later as I complete the steps.

My oldest friend Andrea drove down to help me with my laundry/pantry room. We’ve known each other about 33 years. I should have taken a before photo of the room, but didn’t think to. We were so busy and Andrea is really good at keeping us on track. Teaching middle school probably helps!

I also didn’t think to get a photo of us together. 😦 Which is sad, because we haven’t been able to spend time together in a while. And I like memories of things I actively do with others in life. Those kind of photos show the stories better than a posed one at a restaurant or something.

It’s easy to be so overwhelmed in your own home and her help was one of the best gifts anyone ever has given me. She helped me paint, organize and think about things in new ways.

I plan to write more about the organizing experience in detail. I learned a lot from Andrea.  Thanks so much girl!

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My hair is so full of paint spatters though. My kids say I look really old now. I always talk about earning my grey hairs and I certainly earned these! LOL

So all in all, it’s been a very busy and intense couple of weeks, but very satisfying! It’s like eye candy – so much accomplishment that I can finally really see the difference.

There are always those things in life that you work your butt off doing, but don’t always get to enjoy the evidence of. Like laundry and dishes which are never, ever completely finished. They are always there to be done. Which sometimes lends to the dissatisfying feeling that they are somehow thankless jobs with little proof of value.

Well until no one does them, that is.

But there’s nothing like the tangible ability to sit back, admire something, show it off and be able to say “Hey – I DID THAT!” 😉

Hope your last couple of weeks has been great too!
Check ya later and stay cool my friends!

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.” You know you want to! : )


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Thirsty In Texas: Finally Rain!


We finally got a real rain yesterday. Not just a sprinkle or a drizzle, but actual rain.  It only lasted about for 5 minutes, but it was real and a delight!
(For those who don’t know, we’ve been in a terrible drought for months.)

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YAY! RAIN!

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This umbrella hasn't been washed in forever!

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Wonder how much rain this could collect?

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She loves going out in the rain. She also loves her fedora. Hence, a hoodie over the fedora with an umbrella makes sense.

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A blue image creeps down the sidewalk as its sister looks on in amusement.

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With a snicker, our son dons a beach towel and grabs his Nerf cannon.

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I just thought this was a cool unusual shot.  The color contrast is fun!

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Cannon fired! Wait, the rain's stopping?

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Wait! Where'd the rain go? "That's not fair!"

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Where is the rain?

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Rain is gone, but she's pointing out that there are some beautiful clouds to look at.

See the contrast between the grass and the trees? The trees are green on our street because we live between two creeks with deep underground feeds. Some of the trees in this area are up to 900 years old, so I’m sure they will survive. But it has been a long drought and wild fires are eating Texas and New Mexico alive. A disaster few are talking about.

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Dear Diary: It’s An Aberrant Life – July 10, 2011


I wish I had something really interesting and well researched ready to go for a post this weekend. But I don’t. I do have some posts in the works, but they are not ready yet. It’s been a long week, that was at the same time too short. I’m tired AND I didn’t get enough done, dagnabit. (How do you spell that anyway?)

SO how did this week go? Well, though I got a lot done, less was physically about getting closer to moving and more was about catch up on regular chores and paperwork and such. Which always leaves me dis-satisfied.  Chores never stay done.  Neither does paperwork it seems.

imageDear daughter had her 14th birthday on July 4th.  We got together with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s and our daughter’s births, as always.  Sunday before I met with my fellow crocheter from NY, Maven who happened to be in Austin visiting family.  We’ve chatted with each other for a couple years now online and we finally met in person over coffee.  That was very enjoyable.  Saturday before that we spent time with extended family for a baby’s 1st birthday.  So the weekend was lots of family and friends with packing and demolition interspersed.

For those new here, we’ve been in the process of getting the house on the market this summer.  I update about our process occasionally and will be writing about our experiences.  We want to sell our two-bedroom home of 15 years even though we’re supposedly in a real estate slump.  They say it will be very difficult, we’ll see if we can beat the pattern anyway.

Tuesday I was a domestic goddess of power, accomplishing a weeks worth of catch up in mere hours.  Wednesday I was a handicapped dial-up modem as punishment, complete with blue screen moments.  There’s always a sacrifice, isn’t there?  What happened to my super-woman youth?  Oh yeah.  Lost her in college.  Why on earth didn’t someone tell me that it was not physically possible to hold down four jobs and 18 credits without breaking.  Until the day I woke up and couldn’t get up. Not sure I would have listened back then.  At that time, it seemed the only way to make it. Now I know better to appreciate my limitations and work with them, not against.  And to sleep.  That is a story for another time though.

The kids were incredibly helpful too, especially dear daughter.  imageI wrote out a huge list of items that needed attention, cut them out and created a job jar with some old party favor balls we bought one year. We each drew two at a time and tackled them until dinner.  Family teamwork is awesome when there’s no homework. imageI love summer.

During the kids’ piano lessons, I worked on another crochet shape for this square vintage pin I have.  I think I like this shape better for it.

Thursday I had to tackle repairing the upright piano again.  The kids can’t practice if the keys don’t work.  😦  The action had come apart on another key and while I was in there I found I needed to re-repair one I did a few months agoimageI guess Liquid Nails is not that great on an old piano, because it did not stay glued.  So I went with classic wood glue this time.  Back together again.  Back to working.  I tried to see if there was any way I could fix the baby grand too, but it appears a hammer broke off and fell deep into its bowels.  After taking everything apart that I could right here in my living room, it became obvious to me that the only way to fix the permanent sustain (a broken hammer piece is keeping the sustain engaged full-time) is to pull the harp, or pick up the piano and shake it and see if it will fall out, whatever is more likely possible.  😉  So back together it went and will have to wait until after we move, hopefully soon.  Oh and if you didn’t catch on, I’m talking about two different pianos.  Yes, I have an upright and a baby grand in my two-bedroom house. I did have a drum set too, but it’s packed now.  The guitars aren’t though.

Friday was put the house back together and have family for dinner day. Hubby fixed his most excellent smoked salmon served with brie and yummy rye.  So very yummy!

Saturday hubby worked on his closets while I worked in the garage.  We need to replace carpet in at least two rooms.  Whether we replace with more carpet, or go with the old original wood floor, we need to move furniture out of the rooms to do it.

After working out in the garage for the afternoon yesterday, I had a touch of heat exhaustion to deal with in spite of drinking a lot of water and wrapping my head in a Chilly PadWondrous things those, btw.  There is nothing like Central Texas heat to make mush of your body and brain.  Having the experience has made me think on writing an article about dehydration and heat exhaustion.  I wasn’t exactly very educated on these things as a kid and thank god to know better now.

Today, I’m trying to piggy-back off yesterday.  Trying to complete the tasks we began yesterday and get ready for our daughter’s week of National Ocean Science Bowl meetings.  And new contractors with new quotes. Hopefully more timely than the last.

My week in review. Ending the day with Tai Wraps and about 5 minutes of rain (finally). It was a celebration.  I’ll have to post some photos tomorrow.

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A Little Ami For Baby Ally


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Visited John’s god-daughter Sat to celebrate her little one’s 1st birthday. I made a lemon-lime with flower ears for her. Forgot my safety eyes, so cross-stitched face had to do.

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The Gift of a Mother


I don’t often share my poetry and prose.  But today, I finally share this as my Mother’s Day Gift to you, dear reader.  If you like it, please thumb it up and share the link back to my blog post.  Thank you for sharing.


The Gift of a Mother
06-10-2005


It just happened,
The Way
She was lying in bed
When I chanced
By her open door,

That her silhouette
Suddenly appeared
Just as that
Of her 3 year old self. 

I was about
Morning Chores

When Suddenly
Out of the Corner
Of my Eye,
I caught Her
Sleeping Visage. 

Back turned,
Laying sideways,
Head buried
In her pillow

Bedclothes piled around,
There she was…

My Toddling Little Girl. 

 I stood There,
Caught. 

The lighting
Trickery
Brought out her short
Tousled Curls,

Back when
It was just finally
Starting to grow. 

Head turned,
Her Face appeared
Smaller
And Younger. 

I felt the pangs
Of Beauty
Of Sorrow
Of Fear
As I turned to continue. 

Sorrow that Time
Seems to pass so quickly

That I Haven’t
Held
My Baby
As Much
As I’ve Desired. 

Fear that Time will
Escape
From my grasp
Completely

And I might
Forget
Or Lose
This Moment Forever. 

Beauty because a single Glance
Holds an Infinity
Of Joy
And Knowing. 


As I passed on
Through the house
Capturing
The Reflection in my Mind,

I Saw that it was
The Gift
Of a Mother

To see Her Child
So. 

To Know Her
So. 


For a Mother has the Privilege
To See Her Child in Ways
Even her own beautiful Child
Will never See. 

 To watch Her Child
Grow and Develop.

To Remember
The Quirkiness,
The Sweetness,
The Sheer Innocence,
The Purity of Heart. 

To Remember
Their Boldness,
Their Courage
And Determination,

Their Worries,
Their Challenges.

The Privilege to
Nurture them,
Teach them,
Guide them,
Protect them,
To Set Them Free… 

It’s all Summed
Within a Glance. 

As I came back
By her room…
There She was again.

Face returned,
Angelic in her dozing,
Cuddled into blankets,

Transformed
In a second

From
The Toddler
To the Girl. 

All that She Is,
Flooding Back
To Me
In Pride
And Joy. 

A rare Moment
Of Experience;
Remembering
With Feeling
Yet again,

How our Time
As Parents
Of Little Ones
Is so Small. 

I have Seen
Beauty
That no one else
Will See,

Nor ever can. 

I have the Privilege
Of the Truth:

You don’t know Her
As I Do.
You haven’t seen
What I have Seen. 

It is My Prize.
My Gift.
As a Mother. 

It is the Gift
Of my Mother. 

To See
The Face of God.

Copyright © 2005 by Julia Meek Chambers, All Rights Reserved.

She turns 14 soon, but it is still the same as 6 years ago.


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