Friday Fun

Friday Craft: Decorating for Easter

Easter is nearly here! Time to break out the pastel colors and the plastic eggs!

Believe it or not, my boys still participate in Easter egg hunts. Shh. Don’t spread that around – they’ll get cranky. *grin* My parents host an elaborate Easter egg hunt over at their house every year; the boys end up finding about 30 eggs a piece before it’s all over. My mom, er, the Easter bunny also hides one huge golden egg for each boy to find which is definitely the highlight of the hunt!

In addition to finding candy in their eggs, they also find money, which is a HUGE hit with four teenage boys. Though they grumble and roll their eyes whenever grandma “makes” them participate in the hunt, they really have a good time and Easter at the grandparents will always hold a special place in their hearts.

I’d like to pass along some cute and interesting Easter crafts that I found over at Family Fun:

Tie-Dyed Egg

egg-tie-dyed

For this decorating trick, use any unwanted neckwear from Dad’s closet, or buy silk ties from a thrift shop. A bath in hot water transfers the tie’s patterns to the eggshell with magical ease.

CRAFT MATERIALS:
Old silk necktie
Raw egg
2 rubber bands
Long-handled slotted spoon
Paper towel

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. Cut 5 to 6 inches off the wide end of the silk necktie and unfold the fabric.

2. Snugly wrap the fabric, right side against the egg, and secure it with the rubber bands.

3. Place the wrapped egg in a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes.

4. Take the egg from the pot with the spoon. When the egg is cool enough to handle, unwrap it and set it on a paper towel to dry.

How clever! I wonder if this would really work?


Rock-a-Bye Birdies

egg-birdies

For a centerpiece your family will flock to, anchor a tree branch in a pot of sand or pebbles, then dangle a bunch of these little swingers. We glued on some green tissue paper leaves for an extra touch of spring.

CRAFT MATERIALS:
Egg carton
Hole punch
1/4-inch-wide ribbon
Colored tissue paper
Pinking shears or decorative-edge craft scissors
Blown eggs
Glue stick
Colored feathers
Colored card stock
Marker

Time needed: About 1 to 2 Hours

1. For each, cut a cup from the egg carton and punch 3 holes as shown.

2. Cut 3 pieces of ribbon, each about 9 inches long. Thread an end of each piece through a hole in the carton and knot it, then tie the other ends of the ribbons together.

3. Cut two 2- by 6-inch rectangles of tissue paper, one with the pinking shears. Lay the pinked rectangle on top of the other. Wrap the papers around a blown egg so that the pinked edge peeks out from behind the straight edge. Secure with the glue stick.

4. Place the wrapped egg in the cradle. Use the glue stick to attach a small tuft of feather and a card stock beak and eyes to the egg. Make pupils on the eyes with the marker.

We have an indoor (fake) tree in the corner of our living room. This would be so cute to hang the birdies from!


Fancy-Feathered Friends

egg-friends

With a snip of your scissors and a bit of paint, ugly-duckling cartons blossom into graceful swan cups. Use colors that match your dyed eggs for a simple but beautiful display.

CRAFT MATERIALS:
Egg carton (paper-based works best with paint)
Acrylic paint
Paintbrush
Tacky glue
Colored feathers
Small, black seed beads
Dyed eggs

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. For each egg holder, cut a cup from the egg carton as shown.

2. Paint the cup inside and out. Let it dry, then paint on the beak.

3. Glue on the tail feathers and bead eyes and put a dyed egg in the cup.

NO excuses not to recycle the egg cartons now! 🙂


Washcloth Bunny

(All of these crafts reminded me of the time I made a bunch of washcloth bunnies for the boys’ preschool class. They are super easy to make [they are much cuter than this picture] and they have a space to insert a plastic egg into them. The kids loved them!! Super easy, fun and cheap to make.)

egg-bunny

Here’s the great little bunny craft that everyone loves to make from a washcloth.

You Need:

* White Washcloth
* Pipe Cleaner
* Small Pink Pompom
* Small White Pompom
* Two Wiggle Eyes — 10mm
* Scrap of Craft Foam
* Low Temp Glue Gun, or Tacky Glue

Instructions:

Lay the washcloth on the table diagonally so it looks like a diamond. Beginning at the top point, roll down the washcloth to the middle. Roll the bottom up to the middle. Fold it in half so you have a long strip.

Fold the strip in half. Bunch up near the ends to make a head, tying a pipe cleaner around the bunch to make a head. Fluff the ends to make ears.

Glue on wiggle eyes, pompom nose and foam strips for whiskers. Glue on pompom tail.


Fluffer Bunnies

egg-fluffer

Mold marshmallows into sweet mini bunnies that are a treat to eat.

CRAFT MATERIALS:
Marshmallows
Scissors
Toothpick
Food coloring

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. Using scissors, make a diagonal cut in the upper left corner of the marshmallow.

2. Gently lift the corner and make a snip down the middle.

3. Use your fingers to separate the ears and angle them outward.

4. From the point where the first cut was made, snip to the middle of the marshmallow.

5. Pinch the cut end slightly to form a rounded tail.

6. For the bunny’s face, make an 1/4-inch horizontal cut midway between the base of the ears and the bottom of the marshmallow.

7. Create the feet by making a diagonal cut in the lower left corner of the marshmallow. Divide the feet as shown.

8. Using a toothpick dipped in food coloring, draw on the eyes, nose, and whiskers.

**I also just found some great links to some Easter fun tips on Parent Hacks.


Have fun!

Life-condensed

Freaky Car Accident

Well, this is a surreal image.

springfield-music-break

This is the music store we bought MK’s saxophone, the day before this woman drove headlong into the building.

In fact, we were there at the time of day this lady had her accident. If we had waited just one more day to buy his sax, we’d likely be kissing her grill right about now.

Apparently, this woman had a seizure and lost control. I have no idea about the second car in the picture but I’m assuming it was parked in front of the store and she pushed it into the store front.

She must have been hauling @$$ to have that much momentum to push not only her, but the parked car, into a concrete building.

This is the second time someone has had a seizure and rammed their vehicle into a business in the past three months in these parts.

Question: WHY are people who are susceptible to seizures even permitted to have a driver’s license to begin with?

Thank God no one was hurt (other than the lady who caused the accident, but I don’t think she was even seriously injured). This could have been so much worse.

One of my nieces works at this store. Again, thank God, she wasn’t on the clock when this happened.

Freaky stuff like this really makes you pause and appreciate life, doesn’t it?

UPDATED: I just found out, from family, that this woman was traveling around 70 mph when she hit the parked car, and then pushed it into the building. There was an employee sitting at the front desk when it happened and narrowly missed being squished. This poor woman crossed TWO busy intersections, mid-day, before hitting the music store. It really is a miracle she wasn’t killed, or killed someone else.

This story reminds me of a lady I used to work with. Her 19-year old daughter had a history of sporadic, unexplained seizures. And then suddenly, they stopped. She didn’t have one for one year and was on the verge of passing her driver’s test when she had another one.

From that point on, she was insistent on never getting her driver’s license. For even though her seizures were unexplained and she would go through periods of time when she didn’t have any, she didn’t want to take the chance of having one while she was driving and possibly injuring, or even killing anyone. She said she simply couldn’t live with herself if that happened.

I thought that was incredibly brave and mature of her and I respected her even more for her decision not to drive – ever.

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen – Be Happy

Sounds easy, doesn’t it. Just wake up one morning and be happy. And in some respects, it is, if you just believe it to be so.

However, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. My advice? Evaluate your life. What areas, exactly, are making you unhappy? Is there anything YOU can do to change that situation? Be honest. Sometimes it takes a mental adjustment on our part to make situations change; don’t be selfish or stingy with your desire to be happy.

Don’t whine about it. Be proactive in your quest to be happy.

The bottom line? Make the change. Life is too short to be sad and unhappy all the time.

Here are some tips to get you started on your road to happiness:

1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.

2. Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything, and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortune that befalls other people.

4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.

5. Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself.

6. Do things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.

7. Never borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than real ones.

8. Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish jealousy, avoid people who make you unhappy.

9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places.

10. Don’t hold postmortems. Don’t spend your time brooding over sorrows or mistakes. Don’t be one who never gets over things.

11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.

12. Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.

13. Happiness can not be inherited, purchased, rented, imported, or bargained for. It must be home-grown.

Visit the new Thursday 13 hub for more TT participants.

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Life

Happy Birthday to Our Saxophone Player

We finally did it!

We finally found a new saxophone for MK!

New Saxophone!

It’s a beautiful black and silver Cannonball Intermediate sax and we got the best deal on it! We’re very pleased.

Black Cannonball

MK especially dug the etching on the bell:

Black Cannonball Bell

That’s about as masculine as you’re going to get on the etchings. 🙂

We shopped around. We went to a different music store and sampled their inventory. MK really liked a gold Yamaha pro sax and though the price was a bit high, it was still lower than we had priced them at other times.

He loved the saxophone and really wanted to buy it. But we talked him into visiting the music store we had rented his beginning sax from to see what they had in stock.

And we’re so glad we did!

When MK played the black Cannonball, I could tell, right away, it was a perfect fit. He just handled it like a pro and all of the notes were so rich and full … there was no need to shop around anymore.

Because we were long-time customers of that music store, we were able to cash in the equity in the sax we had been renting from them for the past three years and apply it to the Cannonball – let’s just say, it was LESS than half of what we would have paid for the Yamaha!

We were ecstatic.

AND, we had such a low balance left on the rental, that we went ahead and paid that off, so now he can play his old rental in marching band and save the Cannonball for concerts and competitions next year.

Win – win situation!

MK spent most of the day playing his new sax. When he wasn’t playing with it, he sat with the case, and when that got old, he opened it up and polished up the silver parts.

He absolutely loves it. He can NOT wait to show the rest of his band members when he goes back to school on Monday. He says he feels very special now and he will definitely stand out from the rest of the saxophone players. Considering he’s first chair, he really likes the idea.

I’m hoping this enthusiasm carries into the summer and he practices hard for his audition into the high school jazz band next fall.

This purchase couldn’t have come at a better time because today, is MK’s 14th birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SON!! We’re so proud of you and your musical talent!

Cool Sax Player

In My Opinion

In My Opinion: Take Four

If you played, please insert the DIRECT link to your video response in the Mr. Linky box below. I’ll convert these links tomorrow so Google and Technorati will pick them up.

Welcome to the FOURTH In My Opinion!! Did you answer the questions? I hope so!

Here are the questions for this week:

1. What would you like to change about your relationship with your family?

2. Which of your teachers has had the greatest impact on you?

3. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

And here is my video response to these questions:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "In My Opinion – March 25th on Vimeo", posted with vodpod

I had too much fun taping this and I hope you had fun watching it; I also hope my children/grandchildren treasure it someday. Because really, that’s what In My Opinion is all about – leaving a bit of you behind.


Ready for next week’s questions? Brace yourself …

April 1st Questions

1. Should the individual or society be of primary importance?

2. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?

3. If you could spend tomorrow doing anything you desired, what would you do?

Need to know about this video meme? Check this entry out.

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Follow me on Twitter By the by, I changed my username on Twitter, you can now find me @writefromkaren. I made an account before I realized that I could simply change my username on my existing account – yes, I’m a dweeb. If you follow me, I’ll follow you! Please follow me? I’m lonely over there.

Fiction Fix

Fiction Fix: The Smell of Freedom

“Mama,” I swallowed the tickle from the back of my throat and forced myself to take slow, even breaths, “I’m leaving.”

I quietly set my bags down next to the sagging front door. It was time. I wasn’t, until this very moment, sure that I had the courage to actually go through with it.

Breathe in, breathe out, I silently reminded myself. I could feel my heart slamming against my ribs and a low squeeze in my kidneys.

I suddenly had to go to the bathroom.

My mother continued to sit on the living room sofa, a cigarette dangling from one hand, her other hand buried deep into a bag of potato chips. The room was dark save for the small, lonely light above the stovetop and I immediately wished I had thought to turn it out before making my announcement; I felt exposed and raw, like a weeping wound. The light shone directly on my face; she would be able to see my hope, my deep seated need to leave the hellhole I was forced to call home.

I wished with all my heart the light would simply flicker and die in that moment, somehow that would have seemed fitting – a perfect summary of my life.

My mother snorted and roused herself from her television-induced stupor. The bluish-gray light from the box sliced across my mother’s large frame and cast ugly shadows across her hard face. She didn’t turn around to look at me, nor move from her position on the sofa, but her voice projected so clear and sharp I felt like she was standing right next to me.

“Come here, girl.”

I had expected the summons, but I jumped, nevertheless.

I shuffled my feet across the dirty, threadbare carpet, my secondhand moccasins making a soft swishing noise as I moved to stand near her, but far enough away that she couldn’t reach me if she were to reach for me. I had learned, from years of experience, to always be on my guard around my mother.

“What did you say?” she asked as I completed my journey across the room.

I knew she had heard me, she had excellent hearing. In fact, her hearing was almost canine in nature. She could hear the slightest sigh or the softest mumble the entire length of our trailer, with the doors closed and the television volume turned all the way up. In fact, her hearing was so acute, that I used to wonder if my mother didn’t somehow have super natural powers.

“I, uh,” I mumbled and I jumped once again at my mother’s sharp tone of voice.

“Speak up, girl. You know I can’t stand it when you act like a whipped dog.”

Now there was an apt description, I thought bitterly to myself.

I stood next to the ratty, stained sofa and absently stared at the reddish-brown stain that nearly covered on threadbare arm. That stain had prompted several questions and numerous jokes over the years – the stain remained a mystery.

I could feel my mother’s coal black eyes staring a hole into my face. My answering blush only teased my sense of anxiety and small beads of sweat began lining my upper lip.

“You better answer me now, girl. You’re making me miss my soaps.”

I could feel my shoulders slump and my body curl inward, my confidence began to ebb and I forced a dry, blob of nervousness back with a swallow. My counselor told me this might happen. He also told me what to do when it did.

My eyes shifted toward the TV, now boldly airing a commercial for a female hygiene product. I wanted to laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity of the situation – didn’t they know that women like my mother would never elect to spend their precious cigarette money on something as inconsequential as feminine wash?

And as if the thought provoked the smell, or maybe the smell had been there all along and I only now recognized it for what it was, I could smell my mother’s sour body. The origin of the smell originated somewhere deep beneath the dirt, sweat, beer, smoke and oily skin – it was somewhat yeasty and not altogether unpleasant.

“Damn it!” She pounded a meaty fist on top of the mysterious reddish-brown stain and I involuntarily flinched at the movement. “Are you trying to piss me off, girl?”

Girl. I straightened at the term, for that was all my mother every called me. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time she had actually said my name.

“She will likely mock you,” my counselor’s voice rang in my ears. “Do not allow her to make you feel guilty or insecure. You deserve this. You deserve to start your own life.”

I smiled at the thought. Not because of the unkind things my mother has said over the years, but at the thought of someone having faith in me, in my future.

My mother’s brow arched at my smile. “What the hell is wrong with you, child. Are you on drugs?”

No, that’s your thing, mother,” is what I wanted to say, but instead I simply cleared my throat and repeated my earlier words. “I’m leaving, mama.”

She stared at me for long moments. Her face was expressionless, her eyes cold and hard, her lips a thin, straight line of disapproval and then, without warning or provocation, her mouth began to tremble and a low rumbling sounded in the back of her throat.

For a split moment, I thought she was going to start choking and I quickly ran various emergency procedures through my head.

But I needn’t have worried; my mother wasn’t choking, she was laughing. The sound that squeezed past her fat lips was a cross between a squeaky wheel and a burbling brook.

“Yer what?” She repeated, gasping for air. “You ain’t goin’ nowhere. You ain’t got no friends and you certainly ain’t got no man,” she stopped abruptly and narrowed her eyes at me. “You ain’t got ya a man, do you?”

“No mama,” I said quietly and she nodded once in approval.

“I didn’t think so. Don’t you go and git yerself tangled up with no man. They ain’t nothin’ but trouble, hear me?” She lifted a pudgy arm and swiped the back of her hand across her nose, smearing a thin line of mucus across her upper lip. “They’ll screw you, take yer money and then leave ya high and dry.”

I couldn’t help but wonder which of the long line of men my mother might be referring to. None of them had been any better than abusive beggars.

Continue reading “Fiction Fix: The Smell of Freedom”

Monday Stuff

My Daybook: I Smell Gas

Morning. Er. Afternoon.

It’s Monday. Already. Where did the weekend go again?

From The Simple Woman’s Daybook:

Outside my window… it’s windy. Spring winds are blowing in and I see our Maple trees are starting to bloom. I have mixed feelings about this – one on hand, spring is nearly here and it’ll be nice to hear the soft rustle of the leaves once again. But on the other hand, this means the four huge oak trees in our neighbor’s yard, just across the street, will also be blooming soon. And that means severe allergies for MK. 😦

I am thinking… that I have finally figured out why I’ve been so … brain-dead these past several weeks when it comes to blogging. I’m way too invested in the social networking time wasters. Don’t get me wrong, I ENJOY Twitter and I LOVE Google Reader, but that’s my problem, I love these programs too much. I’m spending way too much time on them and not enough time documenting my thoughts and life here on this blog.

And of course, THAT is way more important than building online friendships. (I’m kidding in case you didn’t catch that note of sarcasm).

I’m also thinking I probably shouldn’t share this video with you, but dang it, it’s funny AND true. In fact, I finally had to unfollow one gal on Twitter because her updates came every five seconds and were the most mundane tweets in the history of mundane tweets.

Tweet in moderation, folks. Please.

From the learning rooms… I’m really excited about this new blog design:

writeanything.wordpress.com

Dale, my buddy and pal over at Write Anything, graciously spent his Friday working on this re-design. Ain’t it da bomb?? LOVE it. I wanted something gender-neutral because we have both men and women writing for the Write Anything blog and I think the orange figures are perfect for that. I also love the orange guy mopping at the very bottom of the template: how fitting!

I’m looking forward to dissecting his code to find out how he configured the sidebar. I’m thinking I might have to use the same WordPress theme (Vigilance) here at Write From Karen in future designs. It’s very clean and easy to read.

I am thankful for… Kevin is finally going to the doctor. He’s a very poor sleeper and is tired all the time as a result. He’s had sleeping problems his entire life and has tried just about everything you can possibly think of to try and get a good night’s sleep.

Nothing has worked.

He’s going to his general doctor today, because the sleep clinic requires a doctor’s referral (don’t you hate all of the health care hoops you have to jump through?), but I’m thinking that when he gets to the crux of the problem, it’ll be sleep apnea. The man stops breathing – it’s so scary.

From the kitchen… Kevin made us BBQ fajitas for dinner last night. Oh. My. Gosh. They were so delicious. My husband is such a fabulous cook. He truly is! I wish I had half his patience when it comes to putting meals together. We’re having crockpot chicken tonight. Making crockpot meals is about as creative as I get when it comes to cooking.

I am reading… Nothing, at the moment. Which is another reason I think I’ve been spending way too much time on Twitter and Google Reader. I miss reading.

I’m getting ready to read a Harlequin romance on my Kindle. I haven’t read anything from Harlequin in quite some time. And the only reason I’m doing so now is because they had a promotion a while back giving free e-books away.

I thought, at one time, I’d like to write for Harlequin, but I think I would get bored with the formulaic approach to that market. I prefer to insert some twists and turns in my story and sometimes, life doesn’t always end happily ever after.

I am hoping… That I have finally figured out my digestive problems.

For those just tuning in, I’ve discovered, in just the past few years, that I’m not able to eat the same foods anymore. They affect me differently and well … let’s just leave it at that because for me to go further would push that information into the “too much information” category.

Suffice it to say, I’ve been taking Digestive Advantage and that stuff seems to really be helping me. I’ve been watching my diet, I’ve been walking on a regular basis and I haven’t had any problems for the past few weeks.

This has been such a huge blessing, and a relief, I can’t even begin to tell you. There are a few … unpleasant side effects from my adjustments, but again, let’s just say I’m dealing with them in the most natural way I know how.

I refuse to go to the doctor. I have no desire to be put on synthetic drugs – not when I can find a more natural alternative. If it gets any worse, I promise I’ll go to the doctor.

*fingers crossed*

I am creating… A week-long story to post for when we go on our cruise. I’d like to post a steamy romance story. My problem? Trying to make it PG-13 and not R-rated. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, but I hate to put too many restrictions on the story, either.

I am hearing… Kevin mowing our lawn for the first time this season. He’s also flattening mole hills. Our neighborhood moles LOVED us this year. Our yard looks like someone planted landmines all over it. In fact, I just went outside to ask Kevin a question and I nearly twisted my ankle because our yard is so uneven.

Picture the dude from Caddy Shack chasing the gopher – that’s my husband chasing our moles exactly.

Around the house… Kevin put a sump pump under our house last weekend. It’s sort of a pet peeve of his having water under the house. Because then it’s moist and we start breathing mold spores. So he put a sump pump in to help alleviate that problem.

He went back under the house earlier today (he has today and tomorrow off from work), and in the process of plugging any leaks in our duct system, he stumbled across a gas leak.

Yeah. Not good.

He says it’s not very severe and there is enough ventilation under the house to disperse the fumes, but he’s very glad he found it before he sealed it up, that could have been very dangerous.

We’ve got a guy coming at 3:00 to fix it. It’s always something, isn’t it?

One of my favorite things… Dried pancakes.

I know, weird right? But honestly, it’s low-fat and it fills me up. I make a batch about every two days and between me and MK munching on them, they’re usually gone in 24-hours.

If you go that route, don’t dip them in syrup then you’re sort of defeating the whole low-fat portion of this equation. 🙂

A few plans for the rest of the week… The kids are on Spring Break this week. So, we don’t really have any plans, per se – just whatever we feel like doing.

But there are three things I’d like to get done this week:

1. Take GD to the DMV and have him take his learner’s permit test.

2. Find a new, better quality, saxophone for MK.

3. Replenish GD’s t-shirt supply. (They are getting too small and he says he feels “gay” in them. LOL)

I’d also like to get some writing done … but how many times have you heard that one?

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you…

Jazz Festival - Pittsburg - '09 - Informal

MK is the blonde boy in the front holding his saxophone up over his head like it weighs a 100 pounds. And he’s such a scrawny thing, it probably does! 😀