Monday, December 31, 2012

A craft made by Mrs. Frakes

I love me a good project. And earlier this month, my son's student teacher was graduating. She had finished her internship and was getting ready to move out into the "real world" of teaching. So of course, I had to make her something!

Have I mentioned before that I am a teacher? I say "am" because although I'm not in the classroom anymore, it's in my bones. It's part of who God gifted me to be. And I have a huge heart for the men and women who go into schools every day to mold minds, tend boo-boos, counsel, and yes, protect. Oh, and they also teach. Your kids, my kids, and even the children who are hard to love. Some of my favorite students are the ones whose name never made my short list on baby naming in my own home. Too many crazy teaching moments were associated with those names. And no, I won't tell you what they were, to protect the innocent. ;)

But back to sweet Miss B, who hadn't yet had to come up with money in her own family's budget to buy classroom supplies, or hide her kids under desks for a "stay put drill" while secretly shaking inside about what these drills represent. She has much she will learn, very soon, about children. About families. About parents doing the best they know how to do and not even knowing it's not enough. Teaching is hard work. It strains your wallet, your family (if you have one), your mind, your time, and mostly your heart.

So I wanted to send Miss B off with a gift with which she could always fondly recall her first group of little loves. I got one when I student taught and then went on to make one for myself every year I taught. 9 in all. The kids loved looking at them, guessing what they would look like, and coming back the next year to see how they would remain in infamy. So without further ado, let me share with you my fingerprint art.

I went in on a day Miss B was gone and took a canvas, a sharpie, and some tan paint. Each kid came one by one to put their "print" on the canvas, with me guiding their landing. Then I wrote their name underneath it and took it home.

There, I began turning these little blobs into people with personalities! I used a sharpie for that, too.

I filled in pony tails with sharpie, added a ribbon to the edges of the canvas, and wrote on the front in my favorite font-like handwriting.

I also added jewels to the corners because HELLO, who doesn't need some sparkle in their day? True story: I had a big sparkly chandelier hanging over my desk last year. It was the talk of the building (since we had no walls). I'm not sure if everyone thought I was kooky or cool, but it made me happy. And that made the kids happy.

See those little cutie patooties? I ran out of room, so I threw ones of those sweet little gals on her bff's shoulders. Perfect solution. What I DON'T have a solution for is how to turn these pictures upright. Grrr. See? An imperfect blog, written by an imperfect lady. Truth.

Then I added a ribbon by hot gluing it onto either side at about the same height. After I had the loop, I tied a bow on with a separate ribbon.

Do you know that when the kids surprised her with a party and gifts, she cried? Yes, she will make an excellent teacher. Her heart is there.

Miss B and my sweet little guy. Her favorite. I'm sure. Okay, okay, I know you're not supposed to have favorites. But if she did.... ;)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The last of the great Christmas decorations

Well good grief. I was just looking back through my blog and realized I had made a promise to show you my Christmas decorations and never did! I'm pretty sure you were DYING to see them. So I'm going to show you today, without words. Even though you are probably so done with looking at Christmas decor you can't stand it. To you, I extend an apology. To anyone still wanting to see, scroll on, my friend! :)

Merry Belated Christmas, friend! And to all a good night.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Naked Truth about Running

Have you ever read that? --------------------------->

Well, it says I like to tell you the truth about what I think about all sorts of things. And I'm getting ready to spill the beans, people. Be prepared. I'm going to lay it all out there about running. And if you don't care about running, then I suppose you can move on to your other favorite blog now. ;) wink wink.

I have been running for about 3 years now. In fact as I cleaned out my closet yesterday (another post, soon to come), I pulled down all the bibs I've been collecting on a pin board in my closet. I decided to take some stock of this sport I've voluntarily joined.

Turns out, I've been running a lot. I ran 5 races in 2010, 7 races in 2011, and 11 races in 2012. Included in that 11 were three half marathons. All of which did a number on my body and my mind. In completing that last one (No Limits in the Texas Motor Speedway, October 2012), I lost it. I literally lost the joy in running. I was tired. Emotionally, physically. I was sick of running for a purpose. I didn't want to train anymore. I just wanted to RUN FOR FUN. I was officially BURNED OUT.

The course was hillier than you would imagine for a flat track. And the farther I went, the more I hurt. The cold temps didn't help. And the pain in my right hip was not getting better. So by the time I rounded the corner and descended into the Motor Speedway, knowing I still had three miles to cover in that small space, weaving and bobbing through the infield, I was DONE. My body was ready to give up. And my brain began telling me things like: Kim, why are you so tired? Why are you so slow today? Brenda is going to beat you. Again. Why can't you pull it together??

And then all of the "tricks" I normally used to psyche myself up failed. I stopped praying for legs that wouldn't grow weary and I started asking Jesus to walk with me, because I was finished running. Not just in this race. Just finished.


So when I crossed that finish line, I was sad. I was angry at myself. It was my worst time yet. Ten full minutes slower than my first half marathon six months earlier. And like a dream, my joy in running floated away that day quietly rising and vaporizing in the cold Texas sky.

Let me show you that race in pictures. You'll get an idea of how that day went.

This was the view as we drove in. The race began inside the speedway, went out, looped, and came back in.

I was ready. I had my gum (see it in my mouth? Nice.). I had my music. And most importantly, I had my favorite running buddy. I was emotionally weary, but I was ready to go. I had hopes for a 2:24 - 2:28 race time. If only.

This is the view from the outside looking in, snapped in about the 9th mile. I was hurting and ready to stop to take a pic.

See that smile? It's fake. I'm not happy. Not happy at all. But I don't know how to take a picture without smiling, so here I am, in all my false glory. My time was 2:34:16 and I was as disappointed as I could possibly be.

BUT! Here's something that made me happy that weekend! Central Market! I LOVE CENTRAL MARKET!

So here's what I want you to know about this event in my life. I stopped running. Not completely, but one run a week is not what I consider consistent. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Starting January 1st, I am going to start again. It's my New Year's Resolution. I'm joining a gym, because cross training is the one thing I honestly never did and I believe it's part of the cause of my slower times. I'm also changing my diet, including starting a new product called Zeal. And I'm getting back in the running game. I'm putting the HAPPY back in running! And I am counting on 2013 to be my banner year for running. Because even if I gave up on running, it never gave up on me.

This is the ornament I had made to celebrate my first three half marathons.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

White Christmas

Oh my goodness, people! It snowed here in lowly Norman, Oklahoma on Christmas day!! Just so you know the odds, since they've been recording snowfall in Oklahoma (about 100 years), it's only snowed 5% of the time on Christmas day. Now you may remember that just a couple years ago we had the Blizzard of 2010 which produced 14 inches that day. This was no blizzard. In fact it was a weak showing (maybe almost an inch??). But the folks south of us got a lot more. And I'm happy for anyone who gets snow in these parts at Christmas. IT'S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!

So, the temperature here is about 28 degrees and yesterday morning it was a balmy 14! I was quite worried about our feathered friends in the backyard. They have a heating lamp inside the coop, but the minute I went out and opened the door to add some bedding, hoping that would help, I was attacked! No kidding! Those birds were tasting their freedom and a big open door provided it, even though Mama was IN THE WAY!

I thought I'd share a couple of pictures to show how the girls are doing. They stick together, but they are surviving. I'm comforted that if they were to die, they'd be frozen in death, and be a lovely meal in the pot later. :)

So here I am on my way out there... BBBRRRRRRR!!!!

Their water was frozen solid. So I had to pour a tea kettle of boiling water on it to thaw it out some. Don't worry, no chickens were harmed in the thawing of this water container.

Here they are huddling around the water cooler heater dispenser.


So of course, I had to come back in and thaw out by the fire with this:

And yes, there actually IS some hot cocoa in there with those lovely marshmallows.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y'all!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Book Club

I know you probably can't believe it, but I'm in a Book Club. We've been meeting since 2006. And we've covered the gammet of genres. We've had friends come and go, moving to different states. But four of us remain. The constant in an unstable world. Friends.

So today I was excited to make dozens of cookies for these girls. Every year we skip the book and make cookies instead in December. For several years I've made a family recipe of Kisses. They're meringue. And DELISH. And these girls are so sweet, I've never really figured out if they like them or not, but they accept them willingly and with a smile. And I love them for that. :)

This year I decided to try a new recipe I got in my email inbox. It's from Food Network's 12 days of Cookies. And it's Trisha Yearwood's White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. I'm sharing this with you because these things turned out so yummy!! And I know you'll want to try them if you're looking for a new cookie to bake.

And while I'm here I want to give a big plug for my favorite piece of machinery in the kitchen. This gal:

Who can help you make these yummy treats:

Using this recipe:

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Bon Appetit Y'all!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

a little bit o' dis, a little bit o' dat

I have a secret to confess. I really like Martha Stewart. I like that she has her feet dipping in many waters, like gardening, cooking, decorating, and more. I think I like her because I can relate. I love all those things. Oh! Oh! And she and I are both raising Easter Egger Chickens! Just sayin'.

Anywho, back to me me me. I'm always trying things out. Most things stick, but some others don't. Like the Chore Chart I made this summer. It has stuck. When my kids want money, they clean. When they don't, they don't. And then there was the Christmas Smashbook. Remember how that made it onto the Advent Sock Calendar, Day 1? Yah. One excrutiating family meeting of the minds later, it sits in a drawer. Ouch. So you see, everything I do does not meet with success.

But back to Martha. There's another famous Martha, you know. The one in the bible who, like Martha Stewart, runs around getting the house and meal ready for their famous guest, Jesus, while Mary sits with him and chats. I have a hard time with this story. First, because WHO WOULDN'T prepare for a guest like that to arrive?? But second, because I think I'd be a little annoyed with Mary, too, if I felt like I did all the work and she got to have all the fun. But isn't that the lesson there? Get ready, but then plan to sit back and relax in the joy of company. I'm actually pretty good at that. I love to entertain. And after I've done all I have time to do beforehand, I always step back and realize something I WISH I had done in advance. Like vaccuum the floorboards. And then I literally (or figuratively) say to myself: OK! You've done all you can do. Now, enjoy your friend's company because I'm sure they could care less about your dust. And then I invite them in, relax, and enjoy. It's freeing, really. Try it sometime.

So I thought I'd take this time to tell you about something I'm trying out right now. Today I made homemade laundry detergent. Use the link to find the recipe I used, but know that I ended up choosing scents that I liked. And Walmart in Norman, Oklahoma doesn't carry Zote. But they have something comparable right there in the laundry aisle with all the other things you need in one place.

I saw the recipe on pinterest. And let me tell you... if you want your house to smell like you just cleaned it, even though it CLEARLY hasn't been cleaned, MAKE SOME HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP IN YOUR KITCHEN! It was awesome! I made it, left to pick my son up from school, and when I came back I literally did a double take on my kitchen to see if my husband had sent in a cleaning lady while I was gone. This is not a far fetched idea, by the way. The Man owns his own commercial cleaning business. We have people who clean at our fingertips. So why don't we get our house cleaned by someone besides me? Ask The Man. I'm dying to know.

Plus, I know they're more qualified for the job.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Retro Christmas

Speaking of favorite things, do you have a favorite Christmas decoration? I do! I do! In fact, I have two. One is from my childhood and the other is from The Man's. I'm going to let the pictures do the talking here. But I want you to know that the angel carousel came from a Base Exchange in Germany in the late 1960's, where my parents lived. Without me. I was still a speck in the belly of a mama who didn't plan on having me. Yet. :)

Next stop on the Christmas tour: the rest of my decorating prowess. Pshhhhh. You know, no big deal.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

let's take a peek inside...

I have warned my kids: see those wrapped presents under the tree? If you touch them, they will disappear. I will return them from whence they came if you pick them up. Why would I be so grinchy about the gifts? Because, friend, when kids get older, their presents become more obvious when wrapped. For instance, if you picked up one of those boxes, you could tell it is shoes. And my dear daughter has been begging for a pair of Sperrys for several months. Do I want her to know she's finally getting them?! NO! So, I threaten. And so far, they have steered clear. Whew!

Speaking of, I negelected to tell you when I posted my Advent Sock Calendar what was inside! I know at least some of you are wondering, because you've asked me! And so without further ado, let me explain the innards of my calendar.

I have a busy family. My son plays multiple sports, and my daughter is a singer/dancer. They are doing something virtually any day of the week. So in order to pull off my calendar, I have to get out the planner. I have to check it twice. Just like Santa. And then and ONLY then can I get my poop in a group and make this whole gig happen. So what you're about to see are the plans for this year. But I will tell you, they are based on nights that are free vs. nights that are busy. You'll see what I mean. I'm giving you more than 24 ideas here, too, because some of these may not work for you. And I because I know we're 4 days into the calendar. Use what you'd like and scrap the rest! :)

Dec. 1 We started a Christmas Family Smashbook. It will include scripture every other day that relates to the season. It's like scrapbooking Christmas. I found a list of Christmas scripture on pinterest. But here it is if you can't find it.

Dec. 2 one piece of candy each
3 bake cookies with Mom
4 Go to Bricktown for sledding in the ballpark!
5 walk the dog together
6 hot chocolate by the fire
7 $1 each
8 Starbucks run!
9 make pizookies at home! See BJ's
10 home movie night
11 $1 each
12 candy
13 game night
14 sleep with Mom or Dad
15 candy
16 bake cookies with Mom
17 drive around with hot cocoa to look at Christmas lights
18 Eat Out
19 candy
20 Have a single friend and her family over for dinner
21 Chickasha Festival of Lights
22 get a soda from Dodson's
23 bake cookies and deliver to the fire station
24 $5 each

*McDonalds for an ice cream cone
*get somethings (anything!) from the Dollar Store

Now, are you seeing a theme here? I try to focus on being together more than on treats. And that's because we are a busy family with lots of places to be without each other. I try to help us look outside of ourselves as well. And I love FREE! But mostly I believe Christmas is a time to be with family and focus on the real reason we celebrate this fun holiday to begin with. JESUS! I love that guy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

You're my favorite.

Well hello dear reader! Have I told you lately how much I like you? How I appreciate that you would ever once look at my blog? And twice! {gasp!} I'm happy if you're here for visit number two! I have some things to share with you today. Some things that I love. They are my favorites. Like you! And they make me happy. Like you!

So let's get started. I've been all kinds of jolly this weekend, enjoying some of my favorite things. Let's start here, where all my days start. When I've been mostly rested and wake up, knowing God's mercies are new each morning. Thank goodness because I'm sure I screwed some things up yesterday. Like my kids. But today I have a fresh start! I get to try again! So let's head over to that happy place...

That coffee there? It's pumpkin spice. Another favorite.

And the mug. Ahhhh the mug. My sweet mama bought that for me a few years ago. It must have been 2-3 years now. She bought it because it was like a chalkboard (fitting me because I was The Teacher back then. Well, as things happen when you're a working mama, I thought it was superdy duper cute, but like a tatoo, I could never decide what to write on it. So I left it alone. It sat in my cabinet for months. Then I used it plain. For years. And then the other day I saw my mug on pinterest! And I was finally inspired to write! So here's what I came up with.

I used words to describe me. Like Urban Farmer and Wife, Mom, and Sister. And of course, Crafter, Decorator Extraordinaire, and Redeemed Sinner. But lest you think I'm amazing, I added Clumsy, Loud, and Silly.

Now, on to my favorite place to sit and drink that coffee in that mug.

Ahhhhh. That happy place makes me smile. Do you see all it's yummy goodness?

Excuse me now, while I retire to my happiest of places. I've got more in store for you! I just need to rest first. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm plain vanilla.

One of my favorite things to make is vanilla. Yep, you heard that right. I make my own vanilla. And bottle it. And give it to friends and family. Do you want to know how? Well that's what I'm here to tell you today, my dear reader.

It all started waaaayyyyy back in July. Seriously. Don't think you're going to go whip up some vanilla today. It ain't gonna happen. But what you CAN do is mark your calendar now for some vanilla making fun in July. Or June. But don't wait til the end of July, you'll be behind the eight ball.

First, go to Sams and buy a gallon jar of pickles. THAT, you can do now. They cost around $5. Do you know why you want pickles to make vanilla? Because it's the cheapest gallon glass jar you will find anywhere. Look on amazon and you'll see they aren't $5. So, get the pickles, dump the contents (or eat them, whatever. But if you eat them all at once, prepare to blow up like a blowfish with all that salt.), and soak the empty jar in a bleach water solution. You may do this a couple of times before you lift it to your nose and no longer smell pickles. Frankly, the lid may be harder to remove the smell from than the glass. Beware. On second thought, you should get started now.

Next, order 1 1/2 pounds of vanilla beans. I get mine on amazon, but there are many merchants on the internet that can hook you up. I prefer Madagascar vanilla beans. You'll also need brown glass bottles, 8 oz. size. Again, the internet is your friend. Here's an option for you. This recipe will make you 13-14 bottles, so keep that in mind when ordering. And last, head to the liquor store. You'll need 2 liters of vodka. I've done this both ways, using the cheapest brand and then a pricier version. There was no difference at all. Seriously. So buy the cheap stuff.

When you get home with all your items in hand, grab a friend, because this is way more fun to do with a friend (isn't everything in life??). And sit down at the table. You'll need about 30 minutes to snip your beans. You're going to take a sharp pair of scissors and begin cutting the beans vertically from the bottom up. BUT, when you get about an inch from the top, stop cutting. You want them to look like a wishbone when you finish each bean, halved, but still connected. This allows the inside of the beans to saturate your alcohol. So drop them into the jar as you go.

When you're finished cutting, pop open those bottles of vodka and pour them in. Fill it all the way to the top. And then put the lid on, pat yourself on the back, and stick it in the back of your pantry. You're done!

Once a month, as you remember, go back to that bottle in the pantry. Pick her up, invert her a couple of times, and set her back in the corner again. You'll notice the first month the liquid is still pretty clear, but as the months pass, it will get darker and darker. Yippee! It's steeping! And since you have months to prepare, get on etsy and find some cute labels you can have printed to put on the front of your bottles once they are complete.

And then the day will come (in December, or 6 months after you began) when you will need to bottle those babies up and pass them out. Here's how that looked for me today.
I gathered my bottles and vanilla, along with my ribbons and labels and went to town.

I used a funnel to help me pour. It's kind of messy anyway.

Before putting on the lid, I stuck one bean inside each bottle and cut it down to size. Just for fun. And then it was time to add labels and ribbons, both of which are optional. But cute.

And now, having read this, you are an expert, too! Get out there and make this mama proud!

Monday, November 26, 2012

O Holy Night

I have been going a little nuts this week. I get all Christmas spirity and something happens. I'm a project completing fool. Perhaps it's the desire to create a home that my family likes to be in. Or maybe it's the fact that I have 20 friends coming over in 5 days for a party. Not sure which.

Anyway, my favorite way to create is to use something I already have and repurpose it. I'm all about a "free" project. Sunk cost, and all.

So today I dragged an old canvas out of the garage and made it new! It was inspired by a picture I saw on pinterest. And frankly, I'm a little afraid of posting it for fear of the pinterest police coming after me and shutting down this silly blog I have going. So, go search, people. You'll know it when you see it.

Here's how the whole thing began...

That was a sassy little number I did about 5 years ago. Aaaand, it has sat in my garage for about 2 years now. That can there? It's chalkboard paint.

I gave the whole thing two coats and got to chalking!

Of course I made a couple mistakes along the way. Because I'm a perfectionist. And imperfect (see previous blog). So I decided to incorporate the mess into the final look. I'm sure it could be nicer. But I like it, just how it is. I hope you do, too.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Time to get our Christmas on!

Oooooh Boy!! I am so excited for Christmas this year. I caught the bug about two weeks ago, which I know was way to early. But I couldn't help it. I started printing my Christmas cards, planning my parties, and anxiously awaiting the day that was socially acceptable to erect my tree. And yippee! It's here!

This week I have slowly but surely put out all the decorations. But my very favorite thing to hang is my Advent calendar. And let me tell you about this calendar. Many years ago (10, I believe?), Martha Stewart had a picture in her magazine, which of course I subscribed to. It was a darling white mantel with a string of socks hanging across it. The socks were those muted greens, greys, and blues she used to do everything with. And they were CUTE. I mean, I was inspired. I started thinking about where I could put my socks on a string. I had no mantel at the time (house #4) but I was undetered. I set my mind to having the Martha Stewart sock Advent calendar.

And that was when I happened upon Gymboree. They were selling their end of season socks for 75 cents a pair. And these socks were adorbs (as my daughter says). They were not anything like Martha's socks, but they were perfectly appropriate for kids. And so I bought my 12 pairs and went on my merry way.

I came home and filled these socks with junk from the dollar section at Target and candy. Lots of candy. I hung them on a string from my closet and I clothespinned them on with old clothespins in my house, some of which had letters on them from my "teaching" days. Who cared. They were fun. The kids loved them! And all was well.

Through the years I've altered my initial mission. No more toys that go in the trash a month later. Now it's filled with the occasional dollar bill and piece of candy, but mostly with strips of paper that represent something to DO. Like what? you ask. Well, one may have "bake cookies with mom" or ""starbucks run with dad." I also have things like "game night" and "walk the dog with mom" and "hot chocolate by the fire." The point became doing life together, not spending money.

But this year, I looked on these socks with a longing. To make them cuter. To make them look nicer. More me. And that's when I headed out to Hobby Lobby and Michaels to find some number stickers. I tried this last year also, but strangely, number stickers were hard to find. ??!!

Then I cut a new jute line, spray painted the ugly clothespins, and strung her up in her rightful place.

Isn't she cute?! I'm in love. And I can't wait to fill her up this week with missions to complete and joy to be had. Merry Christmas y'all!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm not perfect, just forgiven.

This is my motto:

See that tree? It's a little off. Kinda like me. I like to stand tall and look pretty, but actually, I'm less than perfect. Like WAY less. In fact, my older, bigger, wiser sister once told me something very meaningful. I was lamenting over a friend that I loved dearly, but whose perfect life always made me feel inferior. And that's when Beth told me this:

Everyone shows you what they want you to see. She may have perfect hair and makeup all the time, and her baseboards may never have dust on them. But there are things you're doing that she's not! So what your baseboards aren't dust free? Your kids are happy! Your home is fun and loving! You can't compare yourself to what you see on the outside of someone else's home!

And this is my advice to you today, as we venture into the month of parties and plays and gifts, oh my! The world of Santa and reindeer and elves on shelves. Remember this, dear reader! YOU CAN NOT DO IT ALL! AND IT'S OKAY!! If the elf doesn't move for a few days... did the world really end? Only take on what you can handle. And say NO to the rest. You can do it. I believe in you!!

But most of all, keep it real. Your REAL friends know your heart. You don't have to worry about your floor being spotless, because they aren't looking at it! Your baseboards maybe. But never the floor! ;) wink wink!

I soooo can't wait to get out the decorations this year. Don't judge me.