Happy Halloween!

And... that's all.

My little Monkey is too busy for pictures. She's out Trick Or Treating with Bimmer Man right now while I man the door.

Pirate's Booty is this year's hand out for candy... I was too disgusted by the amount of candy that was going into other people's carts so I picked something out of the non-candy aisle (where I was the only person...). Hopefully all the kids will enjoy it as much as we do!

Happy Halloween!


Overheard In Our House This Morning

Me to the dog: Hey, Monster!! Stop! Stop licking your butt! I don't need to see or hear that!!!

The Monster Dog:::: Slowly looks at me and licks his asshole one last time::::

The Monkey: Mommy, I don't lick my butt.


Blerg. Wrist Pain. What To Do???

After making a pair of slippers my right wrist decided to rebel against me.

It hurts.

And I know EXACTLY why... but I just can't do what I'm supposed to until the middle of November.

It's because I'm using a small crochet hook to make slippers with bulky yarn. Does your wrist hurt just thinking about it? Because mine sure does...

My only problem is that I LIKE the pattern, I could totally use a different, less bulky yarn (which I think I will do in the future!), but I don't want to. So I'm rebelling against my wrist which in turn, is rebelling against me.

I'm not a huge fan of taking pain killers (ok, that's not true all of the time because I got Oxy when I had my C-section and that shit was AMAZING...), I don't like taking painkillers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen daily - it's a huge hit to your liver and I KNOW there are other better-for-me alternatives.

Last night I layered lavender oil over peppermint oil which felt really good for about an hour and a half while I finished a slipper, but then once it wore off, well, the pain was there.

I should also mention - this isn't about bones, it's just about using muscles in my wrist, hand, lower forearm, and fingers that I don't normally use this much and the repetitive motion of crochet.

I'M JUST SO EXCITED TO FINISH THESE THINGS BECAUSE THEY ARE FREAKING AWESOME. I'm the one causing myself this pain - this doesn't usually happen.

Overnight I used Tiger Balm (I found a recipe that I can make myself, but I have to order Camphor and Menthol, which I'm hoping I won't end up on a no-fly list for because they're really hard to find...). Tiger Balm worked really well - no pain this morning, just a little muscle-soreness.

Which brings me to the next thing - strong wrists. My wrists are so much better after I exercise them (I know, super weird!), but if you google "wrist exercises" a whole bunch of them will come up - I also stretch my wrists every few minutes of crocheting, make sure I get a break, etc...

But I still have three slippers left. So I need to resort to forcing myself to rest.

But I probably won't do that.

Do you do any repetitive motions like crochet that cause you pain or discomfort? What works for you?

2014 Homemade Christmas Gifts

I'm struggling with this.

I absolutely LOVE the idea of homemade gifts, but I HATE the idea of CHEAP homemade gifts.

Cheap, frugal, handmade... those three words can all sound alike to those that have no idea how much TIME goes into homemade gifts.

Now do you see why I struggle?

Today I made, ok, attempted to make a foot/hand cream. I need it to cool in fridge so that I can use a hand mixer and whip it. That should be interesting... It's for a birthday so we shall see what happens...

This year for gifts I'm going to attempt to make homemade body creams and salves and I'm going to try to make my own Burt's Bees lip balm. It may or may not work. I won't know until I try.

I also have a TON of leftover fresh Sage from my garden so I think I can infuse olive oil with it. My family does a "white elephant" gift party every year so I can bring a bottle of sage oil, balsamic vinegar, a bottle of wine, and a good cheese with delicious crackers from the co-op.

Or just bring a case of beer and 3 bottles of windshield washer fluid.

I'll still attempt the olive oil.

SO. After my holiday craft fair season, I will attempt to make:

Hand and foot cream with essential oils
Infused olive oil with sage
Lip balm

Maybe something else.

At this point, who knows??? I can only do so much with a toddler around...


Sad? No... HAPPY!!!

I was a little sad when I got a fun email from Etsy today telling me that someone bought this scarf

I know, it must be weird reading this (You're totally thinking "BITCH, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN!!! BUY MORE YARN!!!" Ok, if you're not thinking that, I totally would), especially if you view selling "stuff" in business terms, but let me tell you about this scarf.

It's made of the softest freaking yarn. 

I bought baby yarn for a friend when I found out she was pregnant. Only I incorrectly assumed she was having a girl. So I bought pink yarn. I pretty much screwed myself over because I went out and bought new yarn when I found out she was having a boy. I made her an awesome blanket. 

But then was suddenly stuck with yarn. 

And from the bottom of my disappointment in myself for getting too excited, I hunted for a stitch for a super soft scarf and came up with this. 

I still have half a skein left, but two full skeins in white and one full skein in pink. 

White is just too stark of a color for a scarf unless it's incredibly lace-y, and pink, well, is pink. 

So. Someone is getting a ridiculously soft scarf. I'm a little jealous. 


Also, in a week I will be putting my Etsy shop on "vacation" mode so that I don't have to run around hunting in various locations (er, packed up boxes for craft fairs) for items that might be sold. 

2014 Craft Fair Items

I'm planning on doing 3 craft events this year - the Brooklyn Park Armory, Finch's Boutique in NE Minneapolis, and possibly (if they will do another market this year) the Lakewinds Co-op Winter Solstice event. We shall see about the last one, I haven't heard anything yet, so that one may or may not happen. 

The items below will be sent to Finch's Boutique - I'll send 5-6 cowls, 6-7 children's owl hats, and several strands of bunting/garland, and possibly 5-8 pairs of boot cuffs/toppers. 

I'm getting nervous but excited, I'm not sure how I'm going to do set-up yet for Nov.8 at the Armory because I'll be sharing a booth - I want to bring a lot of stuff, but I don't want to set it all out at the same time (but at the same time I do because I really only make a limited number of each item). 

I dunno. We'll have to get together with all of our stuff and do a trial run to see what works.


De-Cluttering Children's Books

I'm really happy that there are a bunch of "Little Libraries" in our neighborhood. I've been able to dump a bunch of children's books and my old unread novels into the Little Libraries and not feel bad about anything - we also come home with books too.

Children's books can be hard to de-clutter. I have a ton of my own favorites that I like to read, Bimmer Man has his own favorites, and The Monkey has her own favorites. 

First, I de-cluttered the books that I can't stand to read anymore (unless it was an absolute Monkey favorite), next were the books that didn't really have a good lesson, and finally ripped and torn and un-usable books went into the recycling.

Next was to organize - I pulled out all the books that weren't season or holiday appropriate (Easter, 4th of July, etc...), but I set aside the Christmas books. I will wrap up 24 books for 24 days of Christmas - all books that we already have, nothing new. 

I then shoved all the books back into the bookcase - The Monkey has no idea how to alphabetize or whatnot so we'll deal with that later. 

After all of this, 75% of her books were still on the bookshelves, but I just went through all of her books in May for a garage sale so I'm not surprised that I didn't de-clutter much. As she grows, I can de-clutter more and more. Wahoo!


Need Meal Ideas?

Some days I feel like we eat the same repeats of the same meals. But then I also plan around freezer meals and I make 2+ portioned bags of whatever we actually like and eat. All of the meals below are from my freezer planning.

The Monkey will eat EVERYTHING below - I know a lot of kids are picky eaters and I don't put up with that crap - the rule in our house is: EAT OR STARVE. I DON'T CARE WHICH YOU CHOOSE BUT YOU WILL SIT AT THE TABLE DURING MEALTIMES. 

And so far it has worked. If lunch isn't eaten then dinner definitely is - if dinner isn't eaten, then we have a really big breakfast. 

Super simple crockpot pork with root vegetables. Just put it all into a crockpot with a beer, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, and then top with whatever fresh herbs you have. 

Italian sausages simmered in homemade tomato sauce. I serve this over pasta, or on a bun, with a salad and a steamed veggie.

This was the leftover picture, so you can't see the chicken - but I usually make a Mediterranean seasoned chicken breasts with curried cous cous and steamed or frozen veggies. The Monkey asks for cous cous now (and curried cous cous, not plain cous cous).

Super simple chicken marinated with teriyaki sauce and steamed cauliflower. 

Sesame chicken with steamed green beans and white rice. 

We eat a lot of steamed veggies. A lot.

My goal for the next month is to branch out from steamed veggies and try some new recipes - like sauteed greens maybe, more roasted veggies, and more sauteed veggies. I'll be perusing Pinterest and drooling I'm sure. 

Tonight's dinner will be chicken pot pies - The Monkey has been asking for "pot pies" for dinner for the last week and I have no idea if they are what she thinks they are or not. We shall see tonight, but at least she's asking for something different than mac and cheese.

Happy Sunday!


Super Easy Pumpkin Activities for Toddlers

Activities for 2 1/2 year olds are freaking nuts. Why? Because I read so many mommy blogs with activities for 2 year olds and over half of them MY two year can't do. Seriously - she can't cut out pumpkin faces or shapes, she can barely squeeze glue onto paper, she most definitely isn't interested in dumping fuzzy balls down paper tubes taped to the wall, she can't count (she's memorized 3....2....1.... UNDERDOG!!! and that's about it for counting), her flashcards are of no interest to her unless it involves throwing them into the furnace vents. Gah, I just need something that will entertain her so I can make dinner, do a load of laundry, or take the trash out to the bin. 

So I signed up for a Toddler Approved October craft event thingy.

Mostly The Monkey has improvised on all the activities and that's just fine with me since I refuse to spend 45 minutes on prepping an activity that will just last 5 minutes. Waste of time if you ask me.

I don't cut pumpkin shapes or faces. I may next year if she asks me too, but for now, she has NO CLUE that I can use scissors on paper to cut shapes and I'm planning on keeping it that way for as long as possible. 

I bought foam pumpkins at Target - $5 for 30 pumpkins, foam stickers are from Amazon, they were ridiculously cheap and have lasted since March. I then showed her pictures of jack-o-lanterns from the Halloween books that we already own and asked her to make her own pumpkin faces. 

We ended up with 15 random pumpkin face foam thingys. This afternoon I'm going to have her make more and then I'm going to tape the foam pumpkins up around our doorway from the living room into the dining room. Free home decor. Sort of.

We also made "pumpkin pets" or "pumpkin people" or whatever you want to call them.

Unfortunately The Monkey thought they needed a wet sponge bath and the glue unstuck the ears on the larger pumpkin. I need to do a small surgical repair to it. 

The stickers took up way more time than I thought - the entertainment value was super high, I think she spent close to 25 minutes "stickering" away at the foam pumpkins.

The pumpkin people took way less time, but I'm sure if I had more than 2 pumpkins to decorate it would have taken more - maybe 10 minutes tops.

Also, The Monkey doesn't quite understand the concept of glue yet, so we had a few handwashings during the pumpkin pets activity - she kept trying to move the puffy balls all around and stick them to other things. This activity will need a "closer eye" to watch if glue isn't a normally used craft item.

Happy Friday!!

More Stuff De-Cluttered. Including Cookbooks.

I'm going to be honest.

I don't even remember what is in these boxes. 

I do remember that I had two Book Club Cookbooks (which I never made a recipe from and my current favorite cookbook which has tried and true recipes is my Better Homes & Gardens Bridal Cookbook, weird, but true!). 

Also, another cookbook that went was my King Arthur Flour cookbook. I tried to make an apple crisp and thought this King Arthur book would have a fabulous recipe. Well, no, it did not. Instead I ended up using my Mark Bittman recipe (way better!!! way easier!!!). 

More clothes. Of course more clothes. I swapped out my summer stuff for my fall/winter wardrobe and in the process I ridded myself of clothes that no longer fit, clothes that I hate, clothes that weren't in style, and anything that I didn't feel good in. Which means that I also donated a few sweaters that I just held on to because they were sweaters and I live in Minnesota (and well, who doesn't need 15+ sweaters??). Into the box went 5 sweaters. Phew, I no longer need to dry clean 5 sweaters!

Last week after I did the last load of summer clothes, I also went through all of those and decided to donate 3 more pairs of shorts, 4 T-shirts, a sweatshirt, and a bunch of old college T-shirts.

I'm not really sure why, but I felt really guilty for putting old college T-shirts into the donate box. I mean, I just worked at Indiana University so I don't really have to much affiliation with the school, other than Bimmer Man. With my Golden Gopher stuff, I can't quite bring myself to go through that yet. There's definite shirts that don't fit, sweatshirts that have shrunk, hole-y shirts, shirts that are too small, and who knows what else is in my college T-shirt bin. So I stuck it into the back of the closet and I will re-visit that bin in a few months - if I've forgotten what is in it, then I won't even look at it, I'll just dump the whole thing into a trash bag and bring it to the donation center. That seems quite scary to think about right now, but I'll do it. I'm not ready yet to let go of my items related to my college years yet. 

And lastly, just a box of crap. Coffee mugs, extra pairs of mittens that I don't use (and I'm not sure why I didn't toss two pairs of gloves in there too.. those are for the next box), a hat that I was SURE I was going to wear all summer (which no, I didn't, instead I wore a straw bowler hat and my wayfarer sunglasses a ridiculous amount). I also donated 12 simple cream napkins, I mostly use our 18x18 inch homemade or purchased napkins from World Market anyway, so why keep those cream napkins when I don't use them? We don't even have enough company anymore to use 12 more napkins and I don't want to wash them plus they're not big enough. 

Time to let go. 

Happy Friday!

Is there anything that you're not ready to let go of? An item that is attached to memories? Something that reminds you of the past that you're not ready to part with yet?


My Minimalist Efforts Have Paid Off

Well, to a certain extent anyway.

Last night I folded and sorted 5 large Ikea bags of laundry plus one overflowing laundry basket.

Turns out...

There were only 12 pieces of clothing for me (not counting socks & underwear).

And only 8 items of clothing for The Monkey.

4 towels, 3 hand towels, 2 washcloths, 5 dishtowels, 2 dishcloths, 3 cleaning rags. Yes, there was so little laundry for the household stuff, me and The Monkey that I remember the count of laundry items.

The rest of the clothing was Bimmer Man's.

I spent and hour and a half folding mostly one person's laundry.

I quickly decided "what a freaking waste of time" as soon as I realized that I wasn't even going to be able to fit all of his clothes into his dresser drawers. So I just stacked everything on top.

And later that night I told him he had too many clothes.

I left it at that.

Not my clothes, he can decide what he wants to do with HIS stuff. It's not my job to de-clutter his stuff because I just can't make those decisions for him - but I can set an example and keep getting rid of MY stuff and pare down The Monkey's stuff. Maybe I'll inspire him to let go of things. I'm not trying to harp on my husband - we all see "things" differently and he likes his clothes, he WANTS his clothes (but my guess is that I also do the majority of his laundry and he has NO IDEA how long it takes to do laundry, if he did the majority of laundry then he may change his mind or he might still like ALL of his clothes, I'm not sure, but either way, de-cluttering his clothes is up to him).

I highly doubt that he will miss the 6 hole-y socks that I threw away OR the yellowed and stained white shirt that ended up in the trash.

My huge point for de-cluttering for myself is this: I have donated or tossed so many of my clothes, had it just been The Monkey's, mine, and the household laundry it would have taken me 15 minutes at the most to fold, sort, and put everything away.

I'm finally starting to see the benefits of not having stuff to take care of.

And frankly, it's pretty freaking awesome. I have less chores to do around the house (but the bathrooms, floors, kitchen, etc... still need to be cleaned and wiped and vacuumed), I have more time to do crafts and play with The Monkey, I have time to crochet and finish things that I need to do around the house, and I have time to blog again. It's pretty great, I must admit.

In fact, last week I had a friend over for lunch and it took me only 5 minutes to clean up, put stuff away and Swiffer dog fur.

I'm just excited that I get to be able to choose what I want to do instead of looking at household chores as something that I'm chained and handcuffed to. Clearing out clutter has been awesome, and I'm still motivated to do more. So I am.

What I've done and what I'm going to do this week:

  • Get rid of 4 more knives (I realized that after a week I mainly used 5 knives plus one crazy sharp one when sorting dog food);
  • I have one more sweatshirt that I don't like; 
  • One more pair of work pants that I'll never wear again; 
  • I think I can even go through my book case one more time this week and let go of a few more cookbooks
  • I even have a rug that I can say goodbye too
  • Maybe even 2 or 3 jackets.
This week will also be time to get the garden ready for winter

  • I need to pull out old tomato plants and annuals
  • Get the compost into the garden beds
  • Get some leaves raked into the new garden bed down on the boulevard so the plants will over-winter well
  • Mow the lawn one last time and leave the lawn clippings as mulch/fertilizer
  • Put up a few Halloween decorations
Monkey activities this week:
  • Pumpkin crafts
  • Painting
  • Button crafts
  • Working on counting UP from 1 not DOWN from 3. (basically working on numbers)
  • Learning farm animals in french

Happy Monday!!!