kids art: decoupage fun!

I have been thinking about what to do to spruce up the kids playroom table for awhile. It's a great little table we got at IKEA but the top of the table has seen better days. It needed a little pick me up. Decoupage to the rescue! I'm not sure if I ever decoupaged before. I feel like I must have but, cannot recall. So, I looked online for some guidance and found out how to decoupage at about.com. I also stumbled upon the awesome Etsy shop Bombus, who is saving the planet through decoupage! Really neat stuff. I thought a map, atlas or music sheets were all neat ideas to put in the kid's room. I was getting ready to print some pages out and then it hit me. If I print pages I will lose a perfect opportunity to do my part and help reduce waste. So, the hunt began - what did I have in the house that would look nice and utilize paper we already have.

Ah-ha! I have a stack of wonderful preschool projects Ethan has done all sitting in a draw. I can display his work proudly, recycle paper and make a beautiful piece of art - it's a trifecta!

Ethan & Hudson chose some artwork, I cut and glued down the papers. Ethan was out for his day with Nannie by this time so, Hudson happily helped me apply the glue medium.

Just a few more coats of glue!

The boys have a fun new playroom table created with Ethan's school work and Hudson's help!

cookie bonanza

Today, Hudson and I made cookies while Ethan spent a nice day at the movies with his Nannie.

Pouring the flour and oats

Adding the raisins

Mashing the banana

Putting them in the oven ~ 12 minutes till cookie time!

Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
From 365 Favorite Brand Name Cookie Recipes

1 cup flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 banana mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Combine flour, oats and raisins, cinnamon and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Beat margarine and sugar in a large bowl until well blended. Add egg, banana and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened
  3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet
  4. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 12 minutes.


tempe festival of the arts

Bert and I were out and about around the valley today. After dropping the kids off at preschool we headed out to do our weekly food shopping. Then, we ventured out to the Tempe Festival of the Arts. After some big time ooooing and ahhhing and a bite to eat we stopped by booth #5571 to see our friends Carla and Mark of Black Mountain Jewelry. They fitted me for a gorgeous necklace they are designing for me! They were located in a corner position and the booth looked great! The setup was really welcoming and their jewelry shined. We did not get much chatting in because they were so wonderfully busy!

Bert fell in love with this painting by Phil Lewis of his dog, Merlin. Phil's artwork was bright and full of fun. I have to agree with Bert, Merlin is a wonderful piece. He looks a lot like our pooch Chloe and really made us smile. I fell in love with a framing technique I saw by another artist (description: small canvas with black painted sides set into a slightly larger box wood frame with the background painted black). I started thinking of how I can achieve a similar look but, possibly using some salvaged wood. It would have been lovely to peruse their all day but, we had an important event we were off too!

This afternoon Bert & I volunteered our time at Washington Elementary in Phoenix to help with their Accelerated Reading (AR) "Store". Students participate in an AR program which encourages them to read independently at a reading level that is appropriate for them. The students read and accumulate points. These points can be used to "purchase" prizes as a reward for their good reading habits. We worked in the "store" and assisted the kids with their "shopping" and the usage of their points. The easiest way to explain this is we were like Chuck E. Cheese ticket people - taking the awarded tickets and explaining which prizes the child can choose. I know that position all to well as I worked the Chuck E. Cheese ticket booth in high school! It was a nice way to get out and help in our community and be together. I really enjoyed helping out and doing so along side Bert made it even sweeter.

I belong to a volunteer meetup group that posted this opportunity to help on their calendar. It was my first event with the Phoenix Philanthropists and am looking forward to the enriching opportunities I'll have with them!


inspiring true story

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

This true story was inspiring. The story of one incredible man's love for mountain climbing, that leads to the adventure of a lifetime. He and his wife (who is also a hero in her own right) are awesome.

I LOVE ...

* Stories about far-away places and learning the variety of cultures.

* People with crazy missions who stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. It is amazing how much one person can change so many lives.

* The way Mortenson adapted to the Islamic culture, learned the languages, dressed the part, and even learned to pray to Allah.

* Most Importantly, I love the idea of fighting the war on terror through education instead of violence.

It found it interesting to read how the Taliban is using the same tactics as Mortenson in order to win support in these rural areas - and they are winning. They have already established tons of schools called madrassas, barring women and teaching only Islam and warfare. Giving these people schools where you learn basic skills instead of extremist propaganda would be the best step toward a long-term solution for peace.

Purchases of Three Cups of Tea made through this link on Amazon.com will generate up to 7% of proceeds to benefit CAI. Click Here

To learn more and donate to a worthy cause, check out the author's non-profit organization Central Asia Institute.


great-grandma's soda bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

To celebrate, I baked my great-grandmother's Irish Soda Bread. Her recipe originated in Ireland and has been passed down to my grandmother, then my mother and now me. There's no doubting that soda bread tastes best still warm from the oven and spread with butter. It was even better tonight then I had remembered it to be! So delicious and so easy to make:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of raisins (omit for traditional "plain" soda bread)

Mix all the ingredients together. Knead for a few minutes on floured surface. Place in a cake pan. Make a cross with a knife in dough. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Short history

Soda bread is a quick bread dating back to approximately 1840 in which baking soda is used for leavening rather than yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. Some believe that the cross was placed in the bread to ward off evil and some say the cross is used to help with the rising of the bread.

After some research I found that my great-grandmother's soda bread could actually be named "Spotted Dog" due to it's addition of raisins. Originating in Ireland, the Spotted Dog is a fruit bread made using the same key ingredients as traditional Irish Soda Bread with the addition of sugar and dried fruit. Typically, raisins or currants, which make the bread look "spotted" and thus the name.

However, my great-grandmother's recipe contains no sugar so, maybe it's a cross breed between spotted dog and plain soda bread? Either way it is yummy and the kids agree!


organize ... zen



I'm a Leo. Which means I pretty much obsess over organizing things. I get uncomfortable in messy or cluttered spaces even if it's not in my view. I know it's there and it eats away at me. That was the case with our hallway closet. It was being neglected and things started piling up. I knew it was happening for weeks but, motivation to clean it just escaped me. Finally, I tackled it head on yesterday.

... organize ... zen.

Now, I need to tap into my inner organizer and be one with my computer files. Boy is that a monumental task! The rewards of taking time to do this will be great though ... computer peace.

Over at simple mom blog there is a nice article 7 organizing myths debunked written by a guest blogger, Mandi, who is also my new favorite blogger at organizing your way.


"When You Feel Like you Just Don't Measure Up"

Over at a blog I read - Modish Biz Tips - there was a great article I read today and wanted to share: When You Feel Like you Just Don't Measure Up

I needed this. I always need this on Fridays so, I'm glad I stop to read this today. I've had a tough start to this year, as many have, and it has me questioning myself, my goals, my self worth in all different ways. Thanks to Modish for saying that it's okay, we all have times like that and even so we are fantastic in our own ways!

garden statues and silly stories

I found these photos that I took in college. These prints me smile and I thought ... I should hang these. The 2 statues are from my parents garden in the house I grew up in. Both pieces have a story behind them which made even more sense for me display them.

The gnome was stolen from a neighbor's yard by my sister's friends. Neither my parents nor I knew this until many years passed. The gnome was in our front garden for so long ... no one ever questioned how he got there. I wonder if the neighbor ever saw it and knew it was theirs.

The donkey lived on our front lawn. Strangely, the donkey became a legend of sorts. We were away for a holiday and returned home to a empty front lawn ... the donkey was gone. My mom replaced him with a large milk jug. The following year, we again went away for the holiday and when we returned the milk jug was gone but, the donkey had returned. This went on for years! It was a mystery. One day, when talking to a friend my address came up in conversation and he confessed! When we moved into our home, the friends of the kid that lived there before us were sad he moved and in silly moment they decided to swipe our donkey and the yearly ritual began ... they took our donkey, then our milk jug, then our donkey and so on.

Now I can enjoy these lovely garden statues and think of those silly stories and every day.


custom invitation design


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ode de phish

"ode de phish"
acrylic on wood

With all the hoopla around Phish's reunion shows this weekend and the fact that we are not there I needed to channel my desire to be there with a painting inspired by my favorite band.

It’s been 5 years since Phish's breakup. That was in 2004, when the jam band played one last summer tour. They returned Friday for a reunion long awaited by me, Bert, our phriends and many other loyal phans. Now, with three shows this weekend at Hampton Coliseum in Virginia and a summer tour; I could not be happier (well being able to actually see one of the shows would make me happier)! I love going to a show, seeing my friends and cutting loose with Phish's exploratory free-form music. So far the closest the shows are to our home is Wisconsin - a 25 hour drive. Rumor has it they will be out west after June but, they have yet to announce that. I sure hope they get closer to us and we can score tickets for a show before the end of the year!

my phish stats

5 songs I've seen the most:
  • Chalk Dust Torture
  • Character Zero
  • David Bowie
  • Reba
  • Simple
Commonly played songs I've never seen:
  • The Landlady
  • The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony
  • Buried Alive
  • Fire
  • Glide
  • My Friend My Friend
  • Big Ball Jam
  • Take the A-Train
  • Mound
  • Alumni Blues
Shows I've seen:
  1. * 6/23/95 Waterloo Village, Stanhope, NJ
  2. * 6/28/95 Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh, NY
  3. * 6/29/95 Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh, NY
  4. * 12/30/95 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  5. * 12/31/95 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  6. * 8/16/96 The Clifford Ball, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Plattsburgh, NY
  7. * 8/17/96 The Clifford Ball, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Plattsburgh, NY
  8. * 10/21/96 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  9. * 10/22/96 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  10. * 12/29/96 Corestates Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
  11. * 12/30/96 The Fleet Center, Boston, MA
  12. * 12/31/96 The Fleet Center, Boston, MA
  13. * 8/8/97 World Music Theater, Tinley Park, IL
  14. * 8/9/97 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI
  15. * 8/10/97 Deer Creek Amphitheater, Noblesville, IN
  16. * 8/11/97 Deer Creek Amphitheater, Noblesville, IN
  17. * 8/13/97 Star Lake Amphitheater, Burgettstown, PA
  18. * 8/16/97 The Great Went, Limestone, ME
  19. * 8/17/97 The Great Went, Limestone, ME
  20. * 11/26/97 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
  21. * 4/2/98 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
  22. * 4/3/98 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
  23. * 10/30/98 The Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
  24. * 10/31/98 The Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
  25. * 12/28/98 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  26. * 12/29/98 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  27. * 12/30/98 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  28. * 12/31/98 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  29. * 9/18/99 Coors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA
  30. * 9/19/99 Irvine Meadows, Irvine, CA
  31. * 12/30/99 Big Cypress Campground, Big Cypress, FL
  32. * 12/31/99 Big Cypress Campground, Big Cypress, FL
  33. * 9/29/00 Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
  34. * 9/30/00 Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
  35. * 10/1/00 Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ
  36. * 2/15/03 Thomas and Mack Center - Las Vegas, NV
  37. * 2/16/03 Thomas and Mack Center - Las Vegas, NV
  38. * 7/7/03 The Cricket Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ
  39. * 7/8/03 Coors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA
  40. * 7/9/03 Shoreline Amphitheater - Mountain View, CA
  41. * 7/10/03 Shoreline Amphitheater - Mountain View, CA
  42. * 7/12/03 The Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA
  43. * 7/13/03 The Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA
  44. * 8/2/03 IT, Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME
  45. * 8/3/03 IT, Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME
  46. * 8/9/04 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
Shows by year:
  • 1995- 5
  • 1996- 7
  • 1997- 8
  • 1998- 8
  • 1999- 4
  • 2000- 3
  • 2001- 0
  • 2002- 0
  • 2003- 10
  • 2004- 1
Shows by State:
  • NY - 14 (30%)
  • NV - 6 (13%)
  • CA - 5 (11%)
  • ME - 4 (9%)
  • IN - 2 (4%)
  • WA - 2 (4%)
  • AZ - 2 (4%)
  • MA - 2 (4%)
  • PA - 2 (4%)
  • FL - 2 (4%)
  • WI - 1 (2%)
  • NJ - 1 (2%)
  • CT - 1 (2%)
  • VA - 1 (2%)
  • IL - 1 (2%)
A dream it's true
But I'd see it through
If I could be
Wasting my time with you