Monday, October 31, 2016

Chemistry - Do You Love it or Hate it?


     Raise your hand if you are a fan of chemistry! My mother would tell me that chemistry is just like cooking, that you just put recipes together. Ummmmmm, no. That was not my experience. There was way too much math, lol!

     I AM a fan of happy though! The charm on this bracelet is a serotonin molecule. How cute is that??

Serotonin (happy) molecule

     This bracelet was made using beads that I handmade using a vintage chemistry textbook.

Bracelet made using a vintage chemistry textbook


      There is a kind of chemistry that I am a fan of though - the kind of chemistry that brings people together! I seriously love making new friends, connecting with old ones, and hanging with my family.

C.G. Jung quote

   
Happy

     Who do you know that is a fan of chemistry?







Thursday, October 27, 2016

We are carving pumpkins today! Bella is taking her role as Halloween cat very seriously today. What are you all up to on this Thursday? We are expecting rain today and I CANNOT WAIT! Yay for fall!!

Bella, my little green eyed Halloween kitten

Friday, October 21, 2016

This is Me: Part 2



     Yesterday you saw my story, part 1. Here is my part 2.

     Back in 2002, I moved to a cute little house on twenty acres. I am a country girl, so this was my heaven on earth. It was a boarding stable and my horse was there. There were three other families living there on the property - it had a total of four homes plus pastures, barns, and an arena for riding. I lived there with my second husband and things were very good for a while.

One of the barns

I rode my horse in this arena countless times over the years I lived here

     I lived here for about five years, mostly happily. But, then, we began having problems paying the bills. My then husband and I had a lot of stress and we were fighting a lot. In the middle of 2005, he left after a big fight and never returned home, except to pick up his things. My world turned upside down. I struggled to continue paying the rent for our home, barely manageable for the two of us and impossible for me on my own. I found a reliable roommate and things were going okay, I was figuring it out. Then my car was repossessed. I was supposed to be going to meet my sisters as I watched my car drive away, back in the possession of the lender. My kids and I walked to the bus stop and went to meet my sisters anyway. I didn't know what else to do. 
     As I was still reeling from the loss of my vehicle, my landlord gave me a sixty day notice to move. They were moving back in to the property and I had to go. This was the lowest point in my life and I felt completely, utterly helpless. 
     I ended up finding a little single wide mobile home (we called it the Tin Can) out in the mountains. The location was gorgeous and charming, and fairly remote. It was peaceful and lonely at the same time. We struggled. When my kids were not with me, I left the heat off in order to save money. The inside of the home was 40 degrees in the winter and I would invite the dogs into bed with me so I could share body heat with them. We often did not have enough to eat. 
     As the holidays approached, I was quite agitated about giving a Christmas to my two young children. I took a leap of faith and quit my job, partly so I could have my vacation pay-out for the extra cash. My gamble paid off and I found another job and eventually made enough money to be able to provide for my little family. 
     Fast forward three years from this and at this point, I had keys in hand for my own house. We were at the bottom of the housing crash and I had lost nothing (I had nothing to begin with) and I had been able to save for a down payment. I benefited where others had lost, unfortunately, and was finally able to afford my own house. 
     My kids are adults now, my youngest having just turned eighteen. We are still in our house and we now have plenty to eat. I am married again, to an honest, hard working man and we hold the title to our cars. 
     During my tumultuous years, besides my kids and my horse to keep me busy and happy, I had books to turn to. I was ALWAYS in the library, checking out new stories to read. It was then that I discovered Nicholas Sparks. I discovered historical romances. I discovered Ken Follett. Reading was my hobby, my greatest escape, something to keep my mind busy as I warmed my body during those 40 degree nights. This is when I discovered what a book hangover is. I mourned the loss of a character as if they were a friend who left me. This is why I do what I do. I love creating souvenirs, if you will, of your favorite literary experience. A reminder of the emotions that you felt while reading this book. Whether it was passion, pain, discovery that you felt, my handmade items will keep these experiences close to your heart. I once had a customer say that wearing my bracelet was like keeping her favorite characters close all the time. Reading a good book is a delicious experience and being able to wear a piece of that book can really extend the experience and heartfelt emotions, providing a way to gently ease your book hangover. My literary hair-of-the-dog. 
     So, to finish the story, my dog, Murphy, and my horse both crossed the rainbow bridge. My other dog from the Tin Can days is old and struggling. I don't think it will be long before he joins Murphy. Of course, I never saw my cars again but I did scrape together cash to buy an old Ford Explorer 4WD that I continue to drive now. That car is twenty one years old now and I still love her dearly. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This is Me: Part 1



     So, I am going to tell you my story. Not the highlight reel, but the authentic story that made me who I am today. I am still an unfinished product, for sure, and I have been actively working on myself this year.

      I was born in Illinois, in a Chicago suburb and moved to California the month that I turned seven. So, I have memories of snow, tornadoes, picking rhubarb from people's yards, and of beautiful, wonderful thunderstorms. We moved in 1976, so I have been a California girl longer than many of you have been alive :)  I am a mid-western girl at heart, but cannot stand the thought of living too far from the ocean. So, I stay here on the west coast.
   
My sisters and I on Halloween in Illinois. I am the leopard!
     I am married and have two kids, plus an extra kid. My youngest is eighteen, so we live in a home with five adults! The food expenses are everything you imagine them to be.

We also have seventeen pets! We have:
  • eight cats (Beethoven, Bandit, Francesca, Honey, Tobi, Ash, Bella, and Hachi)
  • three dogs (Rusty, Sandy, and Dixon)
  • one parrot (Geordi)
  • one rabbit (Thor)
  • four aquatic turtles (Kiki, Pepe, Tina, and Charlie)
You will see photos of everyone from time to time. We also had our dog, Murphy, and our cat, Autumn, cross the rainbow bridge this summer. 

Murphy

A silly photo of me and Bella


     From the time I could pick up a book, I indulged in reading as often as I could. I devoured Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series and when I was old enough, I moved on to John Steinbeck, Stephen King, and James Herriot. When we would visit family, I would raid their bookshelves. Even now, I can hear my uncle saying, "There's Chrissy, in the corner with her nose in a book!".
     Besides books, my other great love was, and remains, animals. I loved them all - cats, dogs, horses, birds, rabbits, etc. My dream was to be a veterinarian when I grew up. That didn't happen, however, I did spend 15 years in the animal care business. Eight years of this time was spent at the west coast's largest (at the time) animal shelter. Some of you may not like me after this, or will unfollow me, and that is okay. This is my history and, like I said, makes me who I am today. It is also the reason that I have so many pets. Back in the '90s is when I worked for the animal shelter. Part of my job was putting animals to sleep. For anyone who thinks "I could NEVER do this, I love animals too much!" let me say this. You DO NOT want someone who hates animals doing this job. Let that sink in for a moment. Anyway, we had a feline distemper outbreak in the community, and at the shelter. Kittens were literally dropping dead from sickness. I had the most unpleasant job of euthanizing all of the kittens. It was HORRIBLE. I still cannot tell this story without crying (hell, I can't even write it without crying), even twenty years later. It is this, and other experiences, that lead to my pet "collection". Most of our babies were found, and there will be more, I expect. I have actually never, in my life, purposely sought after, and adopted, a cat. They were all found. 

My daughter helping our late horse, Missy, take a selfie

Murphy and Ash

Sandy and Rusty

Bella

Me and Bella


     For a long time I was somewhat hiding my pets from social media. I worried that if people knew that my business is pet friendly, perhaps they would not want to buy from me. This is such a major part of who I am though, and I want to show these guys off to the world!

     This is the who I am part of my story. Tomorrow I will have the why part! Please come back and check it out!
     

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Master Bath Update on a Budget!



I'm beginning a master bath update. To give you a little history, this bathroom is about 15 years old. There had been carpeting in the bathroom (I am NOT a fan of carpeting at all, but especially in the bathroom) and we tore it out a while ago. Hence the bare concrete floor. My plan is to:

  • paint the cabinet doors and drawers
  • install cabinet hardware and drawer pulls
  • change out the faucets
  • install flooring
  • change out the light fixture

Budget bathroom before

The cabinets are builder basic in oak. They have definitely turned that orange-y color over time.

Budget bathroom before

Check out what has happened to the doors closest to the shower! They've bleached themselves from the errant shower sprays!

Budget bathroom before


Wish me luck, everyone! Please, I'm gonna need it.

Budget bathroom before




Saturday, September 12, 2015

Wholesome Food Plan and Apple Banana Einkorn Pancakes



I was clearly born in the wrong decade. I have more of a 1900's body type, not a 2015 body type. I haven't been "skinny" since I was in second grade. And, then, I was called "too skinny". As if there is such a thing anymore in popular media. I am saying this because I am tired of trying to conform to someone else's idea about the correct body type. As Clinton Kelly once said on What Not to Wear, "there is no wrong way to have a body".

1906 swimsuit model from http://bancsurvey.blogspot.com.br/

I'm this girl: with boobs, a belly, legs and I have a butt too. While I have never suffered from a bona fide dangerous eating disorder, I did have some habits that destroyed my insides. I have been allergic to pasteurized milk since I was a child, but didn't realize that I had the allergy until I was 39 years old. My dairy habit wreaked havoc on my system for my entire life. I was a vegetarian for eight years, thinking that I could make my body submit if I didn't feed it meat. After some painful injuries, I took enough ibuprofen to fell a horse. And, I grew up eating processed foods. 

This is me with the hubs. Morro Beach, California. August 2015.


This is me, at Morro Beach, California, in August 2015.

I believe that a combination of all of these things led to my gluten intolerance. And, it's not only gluten. It is corn, processed sugar, and sometimes potatoes. Oh, and any processed gluten free foods, such as rice bread and cookies! While I have been working on improving my diet lately, I thought that I could share it with you all if anyone is one the same journey that I am on. From now on, I will strive to be healthy. If I lose weight, great! If I don't lose weight, great! Whatever. I am going to be the healthiest, strongest me that I can. Here is my plan:

#1. Exercise - I joined the gym in December 2014. While I am not as committed as I was earlier this year, I do still go to use their treadmill, pool and yoga classes. When this oppressive California heat lets up, I expect that I will go more. There is just something about the heat that makes me say "naw" to doing ANYTHING! Here is the thing with exercise. I think it helps to have a goal (besides weight loss) to shoot for. I need help with relaxation and tight muscles, so the yoga is so helpful here. I also want to go hiking when the weather cools so the treadmill is a great trainer to prepare me for more challenging hikes. And, the pool. Swimming is just plain awesome :)

#2. Foods - NO MORE pre-packaged or boxed gluten free foods. I feel terrible after I eat them and I know that I am not the only one. I have been gluten free for over 7 years. It's not easy giving up bread of any kind. I know, for myself, I can restrict, restrict, restrict, and then I go nuts over a craving. I refuse to do that roller coaster anymore. It's back to the basics now. Real, wholesome foods. Real bread made from ancient einkorn flour. Since I am not an autoimmune celiac disease sufferer, I am able to tolerate this flour. Raw milk diary. Whole fruits and veggies. Bone broth. 

Here are some ideas for eating real foods.

Bone broth: Bone broth is easy to make. You can use the leftover bones from a roast chicken (this is what I usually do) or pick up some beef bones and feet from the butcher. Cook them with lots of water (like, 6-10 cups) in your crockpot for 24-48 hours. I have to hit the go button a couple of times. Sometimes after the broth has cooked overnight, I will add some carrots and celery. When the broth is done, I love poaching an egg or two in some hot broth and drinking it like an egg drop soup. It makes a great breakfast!

Juice and smoothies: Weekday mornings have me juicing carrots, apples, and romaine lettuce. I will then use this juice as the liquid for a smoothie including fresh spinach leaves, frozen bananas, and frozen berries. This is amazing! I also add some food grade diatomaceous earth to the smoothie. 
*The smoothie alone is too much natural sugar for me. I need the protein so I will drink the smoothie plus have some of the bone broth or a hard boiled egg.

REAL food: grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes and bacon, egg salad sandwiches, meat and veggie dishes with bread, hamburgers, you name it! As long as the food is the best quality that you can afford, it's real (not processed) and wholesome, its good stuff. 

I will leave you with a fun recipe - Sugar Free Apple Banana Pancakes! They are sugar free because the banana provides it with the sweetness.

Makes 7-8 large pancakes
2 apples (your favorite), chopped
coconut oil, olive oil, or butter
1 1/2 cups einkorn flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large ripe banana
1 1/4 cups milk (I used unsweetened cashew milk)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Saute chopped apples on meduim-high heat using the oil or butter. When cooked and softened, set these aside. Mash the banana in a large bowl. Add milk, eggs and vanilla and whisk well. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Drop batter onto hot, oiled or buttered pan. Add a spoonful of the cooked apples and top the pancake with a bit more batter. Cook until bubbles have formed on the entire pancake. Flip and cook until browned. Repeat until batter and apples are gone.

Apple banana pancakes

Here are the cooked apples that go into the pancakes.


Apple banana pancakes
Apple banana pancakes

These pancakes are every bit as delicious as they look. We top them with 100% natural, real maple syrup.

Apple banana pancakes



Saturday, September 5, 2015

Kitchen Shelf Curtain



Do you remember my mexican sunflower pillow covers that I wrote about recently? I had fabric left and a messy kitchen cart that needed covering.

Kitchen cart

My poor little kitchen doesn't have enough storage for the oft used appliances such as my crockpot and stand mixer so these things live in my cart. As nice as this cart is for extra storage, it is not nice to have to look at that mess.
Since the extra fabric I had left from my pillow covers was the right size, I took a few minutes to make my curtains.

Kitchen cart curtain

Since I don't tend to take myself, or my decor too seriously, and since I have never seen an interior of a Mexican restaurant that I didn't like, I have fun with a bit of south-of-the-border flair to go with my vintage. This fabric fits in perfectly, with the vintage-ness of it, the orange color that appears throughout my home, and the Mexican sunflowers!

To make the curtain, I did the easiest possible thing (outside of leaving a raw hem) and used fusible bonding for the hem. Here is what I used:


Kitchen cart curtain

I have a spring rod, cafe curtain clips, fusible bonding, and scissors to cut the fabric and bonding tape. Be sure to follow the instructions on what ever web you use if you make these curtains....all I did was fold my fabric, iron down my intended hem, cut the bond to size, slip it under the hem and iron it down. LET IT COOL BEFORE TOUCHING IT. I remembered this the hard way. The end of the spring rod popped off so I could slip the curtain rings on. Then just clip the fabric however you want to to make your curtains. This is really the easiest decor change ever.

Kitchen cart curtain

On top of the cart, keeping the soda stream company, are my vintage Mexican clay bean pot and a silverplated coffee pot holding a small mexican sunflower and lavender bouquet. 

Pssst! I use the clay pot to hold paper napkins. Cute, right? It gets moved to the table at mealtimes and back to this display spot when we are finished. I cannot use a "normal" napkin holder because the cats will steal the napkins when I'm not looking.......