Wednesday, February 29, 2012

the february bed

 Eeps! It's the last day of February and I finally remembered to post pics of The February Bed, you know, the one in the tiny casa. I have no idea what I am going to do for March. The mister and I are leaving for L.A. tonight and I'm feeling a smidge under the weather. I am also feeling utterly defeated in the crafty job realm but I'll save all that mess for later...or not. Happy Leap Day!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

just like old times

 Seven years ago I decided i wanted to send packages out to people. Not just any package, an awesome color coordinated package full of handmade goodness. so, I created a swap-group called coloriffic swap-o-rama and all you had to do was send an awesome package within the color theme and it had to include at least one handmade item. Anyone could join. I had a lot of people join who felt they weren't crafty at all. I encouraged them to try their hand at making something, anything. They could make marble magnets or stationery and if they couldn't craft, they could purchase a handmade item to include in their package. It was a fantastic success! I received lovelier than lovely letters from women who had never made a thing before and who now run their own craft businesses. People knit, sewed, crocheted, sculpted and drew all sorts of swoon-worthy bits. We sent packages in solid colored themes, rainbow themes and kooky combos thanks to the ever fabulousness of paint swatches. Each month I would announce the next color combo and folks would sign up in a frenzy. At one point there were over one thousand members in the group! The largest swap we did had almost 500 people in it. Zoinks! It was fun and we had a blast and my mailbox was quite content. The last swap was in 2008 as school took over my life and pocketbook. It was then end of a craft swap era and I miss it.
 Since I have moved into the tiny casa, I think I have received all of two pieces of fun mail and one of those was solicited. My mailbox was sad and empty. I began to pine for the good old mail days of happy packages and so when I spied the Craft Social Mug Rug swap, I signed up! It would be good to make a little something I've never made before and to wrap up a happy little package just because.
 Never one for sending the minimum, I searched through my fabric stash for some happy fabrics and stitched up a happy mug rug with a wee nod to The Doctor. I scored an awesome handmade mug at the bins and turned the little pocket into a temporary pin cushion.
 This being a mug rug swap, I added some tea and chocolate and then whipped up this happy tea garland. I had been sitting on these wrappers for years and have been wanting to make this garland for just as long, yay!
 All the goodies got wrapped and stuffed into the mug which I then wrapped and sent off to my partner. I hope she enjoyed it!

Pics of what I received to come shortly. I need to eat up some breakfast and wrestle with these allergies of mine. It's been a bad week for breathing. Oh and if yer up for a swap of sorts, lemme mailbox could still use a little love.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I wasn't a winner

this became a $30 cake
let's play!
free coffee and two cards
so close!
happy coffe house decor
But we did have some fun! Ya gotta love a good game of BINGO.

Friday, February 24, 2012

cake, clues and cards

 For my birthday we wandered over to the homestead for a little birthday dinner. There was bbq, rootbeer floats and a surprise scavenger hunt. Tonight I hit up a local coffee spot for some benefit BINGO...whoo-hoo!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

41 things

It's my birthday, whoo-hoo! I am now officially in my forties. Yeesh! My mamos dreaded 41. I have vague eleven-year-old memories of her telling me she would always be 39 and me not understanding it at all. I remember making her a birthday card book where I expounded on her 41-ness. I even wrote out a lot of (incorrect) arithmetic. There was Ms. Pac-Man eating 41 dots and 41 candles on her picture cake. I told her when I bought a car, my license place would read PAW41, etc, etc. I was an awful, awful daughter and now I am the one who is 41. I'm not freaked out about it, I just find it baffling I made it this far. I'm also doing that awful thing where you look back at your accomplishments and cringe at the lack of...oh the life I didn't lead...ya can't look back though, what's the point, right? So today, here is a list of 41 things I want. Some are realistic, some I will purchase for my self and some are off the charts ridiculous and silly...

*a magical makeover of sorts, new hair, new face (less chins) and new frames like these.
*these blocks
*a wee video camera
*an instax mini (plus film)
*petticoats, lots of petticoats
*this garlic house
*a cake tin like this
*a road trip to somewhere, anywhere really
*a morning wander to photograph L.A. or Santa Cruz, or...
*happy plates
*a bench kinda like this
*a jasmine plant
*a tea plant
*a garden of my own
*really good indian food
* an awesome apple pie
*a pound of amazing coffee
*a vintage pin the tail on the donkey game
*to see the Northern Lights
*a new alarm clock
*paper straws
*happy washi tape
*too many new picture books to count
*Pippi to see and to read
*a weekend in a yurt
*a photobooth jaunt
*a skirt like this one
*game night at my place
*oodles of happy postage stamps
*new laptop
*a cherry limeade
*go on a picnic in wildflowers and have a croquet match (too much?)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

forty years and counting

 Tomorrow is my birthday, I will be 41. Yikes! I meant to publish a post of 41 things I would like to have or do but methinks, due to lack of sleep, oxygen to the brain and my old age I have lost my focus as if it were my reading glasses propped atop my head. I plan on baking myself a cake, A pretty cake. A picture worthy-cake. I am also going to make a I will snap oodles of pics and write up a how-to so you can make one as well. I am also going to clean off the tiny kitchen table so that my happy birthday cake can sit in a happy picture-worthy spot. That is, as long as I get my arse in gear and reorganize the wall unit behind it so the new tiny casa can look like a picture-worthy home instead of the crafty cluttered mess it really is.

So yep, for my birthday, I am cleaning, baking my own cake  and giving in to the brain fuzz and not planning anything else. Tomorrow may involve rootbeer floats and a nap or some pie and a movie adventure. I can't think, so don't ask me what I want or what I want to do...surprise me.

Friday however, there is a wee plan and it involves BINGO, coffee and baked goods! It's official...I'm old{er).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

little bits of happy

 My brother has quite a collection of fisher Price Little People. Since I had a lot of time to kill, I took oodles of pictures of them and more...

Monday, February 20, 2012

the stand-in for the february bed

 I have yet to take a picture of the February Bed and being that I spent a good two weeks down at my brother's, not to mention that he is the guy who built my bed, I thought his would make for a nice stand-in. He even said I should take a picture of it. 
 If you thought my bed was nifty wait till you check this out. Mine is just an awesome headboard, his is the whole shebang. Four posts, crystal door knob details, iron work and scalloped wood all has me swoony-swoon-swooning.
  I'll get you a picture of the February Bed at home later but for now, enjoy!

**if you live in the Los Angeles or Pasadena area you can order up a headboard from this guy...he's awesome. Yay for recovery! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

guest blog: the pink couch

 Hello - hello! It's Tara from The Pink Couch! Since our friend Jessica is a bit busy down in LA, I thought this would be the perfect time to hi-jack her blog and post something pretty for the weekend! My daughter Alaina and I just wrapped up a very long science project for her 2nd grade class this week. We were testing the strength of paper against the weight of fruit. Subsequently, I now have ALOT of left over fruit in the kitchen. So while I played around with different fruit-dessert ideas I remembered an old favorite - Infused water or as we call it Spa water. (From my days of working in a Spa. :))
The best part of making Infused waters is creating a combination of fruits that will suit your taste. My absolute favorite is Cucumber - Strawberry. Sweet but with the freshness of the cucumber. I think it's the perfect summer water to have on hand - and it's pretty too! 

Here's my super simple recipe! 
You will need: 1 pitcher of cold water, half of a peeled cucumber - sliced and 6 sliced strawberries

Push the fruit down into the water and let set for just a few minutes. Of course the longer you let the fruit and water blend together the stronger the flavors will be. If  you're planning on making this for guests, make it right before you'd like to serve it. I've found that the strawberries tend to use their vibrancy when I leave them in the water for too long (3+ hours) and they don't look as pretty as when I first slice them! I like fruit to look fresh! 
Since infused water has been around forever I'm sure you all might have some combinations that I haven't yet thought about! So, if you feel like sharing with us, what is your best and most favorite Spa water?  

Happy weekend everyone and thanks for having me!  ~ Tara

Thursday, February 16, 2012

on the oddness

of returning back to normal...

My brother is home in his tiny casa surrounded by homemade guitars, fishing decoys and other odds and ends. His fluffy-spotty cat is chirping up a storm and things are kinda-sorta back to normal. He cannot walk very well or use his hands (he was in restraints for eleven days) and his brain still has some residual fuzz but every hour he is a bit more clear in the noggin and steady on his feet. Food doesn't sit well with him and he is starving, sleep doesn't come easily and he is exhausted and so we banter and watch old movies on television and talk of guitars and childhood stories and attempt to drink coffee or tea and see how it sits. I've been trying to untangle his hair, it is long. Longer than it has ever been and matted as if the elves came in a did macrame through his tresses. He says it doesn't bother him but it would give me something to do other than scold when he gets up too quickly without our assistance or the walker.

So, what now? My brother got sick and gave us all a scare and suddenly now he is well and home and what next? My brain is fuzzy and I am slow at figuring out how to get back to normal. I do miss my tiny casa and the sites and sounds of home but I'm far too fuzzified to figure out the next step other than to take it moment by moment and maybe for now, a nap.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

frankenstein shoes and bad hair days

 I don't think I've ever had so much free time to peruse the internet or read or even write but my mind is lacking in focus and wanders so easily skipping from one memory or idea to the next like a lopsided bumblebee flitting from flower to flower. my eyes are quite tired, my lips chapped and my mouth has been parched even though I have been guzzling water like crazy and applying the bonnie bell like a tween on her way to the mall. My hair is a bit more sorry than usual, dry and frizzle-frazzy from this experience and the nose is once again without scent. So I am tired in more ways than sleep deprived and I have time, sort of, to tap into any stores of creativity that may be awake and all I can see is the evidence of last nights insomniac shoe search where I somehow believed it a good idea to fully embrace the idea of old lady shoes. You know...part frankenstein boot part nursing shoe all neutral and ready to blend in with sand. A solid shoe, a walking shoe and an admittedly quite unattractive vessel for one's foot. Thanks to the marketing wonders of the technological age I see these shoes pop up on every page and tab I read that allows ads and each time I think, man that is one ugly shoe...until I realize I almost, almost purchased that ugly shoe.

I did break down and buy a pair of jeans from Target as my one and only pair was in need of washing and I needed to be at the hospital. The pair I picked up fit for the most part but the waist hits my waist in a most uncomfortable spot and makes me feel squishy and a bit bumpas-like or rather kinda like kin to the Pilsbury Dough Boy. Bother.

I sit here in my brother's hospital room as he gently snores and drools his recent walk away. His body is still cradling one enormous cocktail of drugs and he is loopy and uncoordinated. I am a bit too warm in this window seat and feel a bit of a doze coming on and I am looking at those ugly shoes and thinking that maybe they aren't that bad. I am also wishing I could have overalls or coveralls...vintage style of course and found some on etsy and wouldn't they be awesome with a pair of stompy-clompy shoes or boots and pintucked blouse and wavy hair and...and...and...and then I thought I should get a perm! So if next time you see me and I look a fright just take my advice and do your best to never operate under stress and lack of might end up with an unfortunate tattoo, piercing or perm as you stompy-clomp around in frankentstein shoes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

i'm in need of a nap

 My brother is officially out of the CCU! So happy and relieved. Now that the meds are slip, slipping out of his system this new part of the journey is going to be a doozy. Nobody likes a hospital, at least not as a patient and especially my brother. Today was a roller coaster of yays and uh-ohs. He is s l o w l y recovering but still loopy from the meds. He has moments of clarity and assertiveness and then more moments of confusion and obstinance. I had to forcefully restrain him from getting out of his bed while we rallied up a nurse or two to do it in a more official way. He was quite unhappy with me and that was hard, not in a "poor me" kind of way but more in a...oh...I can't really explain it but roller coaster works for now. We had a small crowd at one point today and managed to offer up a few laughs. His personality is there and pushing to the front of his consciousness and with time and rest I am certain he will be walking out the door but first we have to ease him up and out and he is not a guy who eases...if today is any indication, he is going to give the entire floor staff an experience.

Today I almost, almost fell asleep sitting in my brother's new room as he slept soundly beside me. It rained today and the view out the window was quite pretty. My body is tired and my brain is fuzzy and I am certain I am forgetting to call people and eat and keep hydrated. I am so sleepy and full of so many emotions...all those residual memories of other hospital visits and traumas and near misses and tragedies. I am trying to remember to take care of myself and admit that it is okay to want to flee and return to my tiny cluttered casa full of fabric bits and unswept floors. It will happen soon enough and until then I need to embrace normalness. It's okay to eat a treat, read a book, play on pinterest or laugh with friends. It doesn't take away from caring for my brother or myself or the mister. With any luck and good thoughts, I will manage a nap, a hug and maybe, just maybe, finally get that coke I've been craving. Thank you again for your words of support and encouragement. I'm going to post a pretty picture just because and maybe tomorrow I can write about something less exciting.

yesterday was a good day

 Thank you for the good love and wishes. Really and truly, I have been so anxious and scared and lost and it helps to simply put my thoughts out there and received good thoughts back. The mister drove all the way back up to SLO last night and I was a wreck waiting for his call. He'll be driving back down today and we'll be staying, staying, staying. The positive news is that my brother was extubated yesterday with success. I have not heard word from the hospital since we left so I am hoping that this is still the case. My oldest friend and I were in his room keeping him company and he really began to respond to the sounds and voices around him. his nurse got him to open his eyes, nod his head and squeeze his hand they decided he was pretty close to being on his own and the doctor on duty was called in. We removed ourselves from the room both to give them space, my brother privacy and me the freedom to not see bow awful the experience as going to be. I think he fought it as when we returned, his nurse had a large knot on her head. Oh brother! But...yay, he is breathing without the respirator! He was still super groggy but with his eyes opening and a lot of mumble mumble. His personality still shines through all those drugs and we were one joyous little party in that room. My gal is going to be picking me up for a squeeze and a chauffer and I will be at the hospital until mister returns from up north or I finagle someone else to pick me up or bring me food or steal me away. Thank you again for all of your support both near, far and new. You gotta love this tech world we're in, thank you!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


 My brother is on life support. There is a long plastic hose snaking in through his mouth, down his esophagus and into his lungs. It pushes air in and moves air out causing his chest to pump erratically in time with the hnkhnkhnk of the respirator. His blood pressure cuff whirs and tightens every twenty minutes or so and it is followed by a loud announcement of beeps and chaotic shrills that make me and the mister jump each time they go off. The first time it happened I panicked. I was alone in the room and no one came rushing in to attend to the alarm. Thank goodness his nurse explained what it was when I asked. Now we can sit, prepare and wince when the familiar whir of the cuff begins to squeeze my brother's sadly swollen arm. He is sedated, but not too much. He is restless and moves with such grace it is mesmerizing. He is tall, taller than the bed wants him to be thus his legs wander and slip, slip. slip off the edges. He also is slightly defiant in his continuous quest to slip out of that bed. It could simply be the meds, the lack of movement or maybe and I do hope this is the case, he wants up and out of there. Keep it up big brother, we want you out of there as well. The curiousness of his illness is that he should be able to breathe on his own. The damage from the asthma and lung disease is not so great there is no hope. The big guess is that he pushed himself too long, too hard and this is his time to rest and recover. I hope more than my heart can bear that this is the case. They are doing a test on him this morning that began with weaning him from sedation through the night to see if he could be roused and breathe on his own. We can be there now and visit after 9am but I need to protect my now weakened crunchy coating. I'm not so crunchy right now and I've cried a lot last night. In a fit of petty whininess I want to shout out that this isn't fair. Not for him, not for me, not for our family. I lost my mother in my 20s and my granny in my 30s and I really want my 40s to be free of losing loved ones. I like to think I am too young to have had these experiences but obviously that isn't the case as they have happened.

Be strong big brother, you still need to build me a desk and paint me a picture and let me steal away some of your pottery collection. You still need to visit us up in SLO, move up there and carve your fishing lures, cook us tri-tip and dazzle the town with an awesome family-owned cheese shop. You, me and our sister need to fall into a pile and crack up over our favorite Bugs bunny Cartoons again. You and the mister need to build outsider instruments together and we all need to sit on the sofa during our weekly breakfast for dinner night and play ridiculous songs on our homemade ukes. So be strong big brother, be patient, let those who love you help you and embrace our love and adoration. You so very deserve it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

i could use a little love right now

See that guy up there in that picture? That's my big brother. The most influential person in my life. He is amazing in so many ways and he in the critical care unit of a hospital down in Los Angeles. I'm down in L.A. now as  well. He has severe damage to his lungs from asthma and other lung diseases and he is a smoker (bad, bad, bad brother)! He has been intubated and on a respirator for the past seven days. He is unable to breathe on his own and not recovering as quickly as other people in his situation. It is scary, he is sick and I am beyond worried for his life.

I am so very grateful for the powers of our social networking. My brother took himself to the hospital on Saturday without telling anyone. He's a fairly solitary and private kind of guy but when he did not show up for work for a few days, concerned people went to his house, texted and called to see what was going on. One of those amazing people had the foresight to call the closest hospital and it was discovered he was there. Another co-worker and fortunately old childhood friend and neighbor had the foresight to contact another friend who is close with me who then stepped up to tell me what was going on. My brother's ex also contacted me just hours before. It's been confusing and scary and very unpleasant. I have the warm fuzzies knowing my brother has people who love and care for him. I'm not sure what I am doing and I hope to do the best I can by him. For now, we're talking to him, getting visitors into his room and within earshot. I'm going to find his ipod and get some music going and we're hoping to find a quiet uke to strum as well. Small steps, tiny steps, recovering steps is what I am hoping for first. This guy is so amazing, he needs to know this and he needs to recover so he can continue to amaze us. Thank you for allowing me my space to feel safe and share. This is how I process, this is how I recover. good vibes are and will always be welcomed.

Random brother fact #1: He is the guy who married my husband and I. He stepped up, got ordained and I love him for that.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

say cheese!

 Thank you for the get better vibes. Last night I only snuffled and hacked a handful of times. In other words, I slept until 4am without a fuss but then the brain turned on overtime and I couldn't lull myself back to dreamland until 6am and then I was up after 45 minutes or so. Drats! So, I mentioned I made cheese last week, paneer to be exact and I took photos because well, I'm me and it's cool and so very easy I think you should make some if you do the dairy thing...check it out, I used this recipe from The Kitchn.
Squeeze a bunch of lemons to get about 2-3 Tablesoons of juice. Set aside.

Pour a half gallon of whole or 2% milk into a large pot. Turn on heat and bring to a boil but watch it, it foams up uber quick. My milk never actually boiled in a bubbly way, it just foamed up. Once that happens, remove from heat.
 While milk is heating, double line your colander with  cheesecloth (muslin will work as well). If you have a large tub or bowl, pop the colander on top of that so you can save your whey for future uses. I did not and am now wishing I did. Off!
Add your lemon or lime juice, 2-3 Tablespoons or more if you feel like yer not getting enough curd out of your milk. The milk will curdle and hopefully keep curdling as you add all of your citrus juice. I also added a couple of cranks of sea salt at this point just to see how it would turn out.
Pour the curds and whey into your collander and allow to sit until cool enough to handled.

Once cool, wrap it up and squeeze excess moisture out with your hands. Pop the ball o' cheese now flattened by you, it will be crumbly, onto a large platter with a rim to hold any remaining liquid, placing a heavy cutting board  or other weighted bits on top to press, kinda like when you press out tofu. 
 After an hour or so it is good to go. I kept mine in the fridge for a few days, we ate it last night with curried lentils and it was delicious. It does firm up oodles i nthe firdge. OYu can also store it in water but the water needs to be changed daily. I sadly have no photos of the pan fried goodness as it was dark and I was hungry. Enjoy!