Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's Hot + What's Not

My dear friend strongrrl has been putting out some great posts on what's hot and what's not on her blog over the last few months. I thought it would be fun to play along. So here's what's happening in my world lately that I'm either digging or not, and why.

What's Hot
Glassblowing. On Wednesday, Turtle and I went on a homeschool field trip to Sunspots. We saw an inspiring glassblowing demonstration by Daniel, a very talented artisan. We watched him turn one blob of molten glass into a colorful long stemmed lily, and another into a drinking glass with a multi-colored rim. It was a great introduction into an art form that I know very little about. Did I mention they offer classes? Hrm...

Math. I know you must be thinking I've lost it completely with this one. Math has always been my weakest and most disliked subject. That being said, it's really important to me that I have a strong math program for our homeschooling. Enter Teaching Textbooks Math. It's a really nifty interactive math curriculum that includes a printed workbook, teachers booklet and four computer-based learning cd's filled with fun instructive lectures and self-grading lessons. They have free demos on their website at each grade level, which is a great way for your kids to try it out. They also have downloadable/printable placement tests to help you determine which product your child is ready for. I scored a used copy on ebay last week and so far it's a hit. Hats off to these guys for developing this incredibly creative and savvy approach to learning math!

Ganache. Chocolate perfection. It. Is. Luscious. Where has this been all my life? I mean, I've tasted it before but I'd never made ganache frosting myself until last weekend. It was J'daddy's birthday and Turtle wanted to make her dad a cake. I remembered seeing the recipe on vanillasugar's blog. Though I will warn you; Dawn's blog, much like the ganache, is highly addictive but in the BEST way! I got lost in the deliciousness of this drizzly delight.

Hallelujah. If you didn't catch this performance of Hallelujah by Justin Timberlake, Matt Morris, Charlie Sexton & band on Hope for Haiti Now, it's worth checking out. I watched it live and was really moved by it. The heartfelt harmonies, beautiful arrangement and talented instrumentation are spot-on in my opinion.

Invisible Thread. My wonderful neighbor Bonnie introduced me to this over the holidays. It's amazing! I don't know why I didn't know about this sooner but it's really a wonderful way to put a clean top stitch on certain projects. It's a bit deceptive when you're sewing; I kept looking at the needle thinking the thread had broken because I couldn't see it. But it's really quite durable. I was curious to see if it would melt if it got hot. My sweet friend obliged; she put invisible thread on her machine, stitched a line of it on some cotton fabric and popped it in the microwave to see what would happen. We overcooked the fabric and nearly set it on fire but the thread was unharmed. You never know what we'll get into when we're together. ;-)

What's Not
Overreacting. When something happens that causes you concern and it's coming from a source that you know is usually honest and trustworthy; don't overreact. It throws common sense out the window. It's much easier to calmly ask that person what's going on and work things out amicably. Hitting people with accusations and threats does not build-up anything; it simply tears down.

Cold weather. I am so over winter. The severe cold and heavy snows are trying my patience. I wish I was enjoying it more but I'm not. It just feels oppressive. I am longing for warmer days where we can throw open the windows, hang the laundry on the clothesline and go for walks in short-sleeves.

Bye-Bye BaNilla. It seems that all my local grocery stores have stopped carrying my favorite flavor of Stonyfield Farms yogurt, BaNilla. I don't know if you've ever tried this but it's really tasty. It's funny because I'm not typically a big fan of banana-flavored anything, but for some reason I really love it! BOO to Kroger, Martins and Food Lion for not carrying it anymore.

Simplicity vacuum cleaner. My old s24 model continues to be a huge disappointment. With our house now on the market, vacuuming has become an almost daily activity. I spent months researching vacuum cleaners before we bought this piece o'crap six year ago. The first two years it worked great, but since then it continues to fall apart and need expensive repairs/replacements on a yearly basis. I decided last year I wasn't going to put any more money into it. A few months ago the hose split and after that the length adjustment on the handle stopped working. My husband taped them both up with electrical tape and we forged on. Then last week the handle section came apart while I was vacuuming, exposing the wiring and nearly zapping me. Seeing as we can't afford a new one, J'daddy taped it up yet again and I'm still using it. I really, REALLY need a new vacuum and would LOVE for a company to contact me about reviewing one. A giveaway would be awesome: one for me and one for a loyal chickaboom reader {hint, hint}. Miele? Electrolux? Oreck? Will someone please help me out here?

Friday, January 22, 2010

It Is What It Is

I hadn't intended on a disappearing act being my entry into the new year. It's been a seriously challenging time for us over the last few months; which has really intensified in the last few weeks. Much has changed and is still changing. It's hard to write creatively when you're emotionally overwhelmed and stressed out. Best laid plans and all. The short version is all that I'm ready to go into right now. For now, here's what's been happening:

We've made the difficult decision to put our house on the market. The economy has cut our family fairly deep and we, like so many of you, are having to do things that wouldn't normally be our first choice. We've got it priced to move and are hopeful a buyer will come along quickly. We've already started the process of looking for a home to rent. It's quite a different mindset after owning for many years. I'm sure we'll land on our feet but this was not something we would have wished on ourselves.

My husband started back to college (part-time), working towards finishing his degree after many years hiatus. James Madison University accepted nearly all his credits from his previous stint at UCA back in the early 90's. (Looks like UCA is still using the logo I designed for them back in 1995, huh). I am blown away by his courage and determination. Not to mention his excellent study habits. It's a new dynamic in our lives but we believe it's worth it.

About two months ago we made the decision to pull our daughter from public school. It was a decision not made lightly but was entirely necessary for her well-being. I gave her about a month to detox mentally and emotionally. I'm seeing her come back around which is incredibly hopeful. Since the new year we've been digging in much deeper with studies and it's been going well. Our son is okay where he's at right now but with a move coming up soon, we'll plan to homeschool for the remainder of this school year. We will re-evaluate for next year once we're moved and settled.

I guess it goes without saying that through all this my anxiety-level has been through the roof! Like alot of things we go through in this life, this series of lessons is pushing me back to a closer relationship with God. My faith is being renewed and for that I am most grateful. I'm working hard, internally, to see this situation as a fresh start for us. Not that we were looking for one, but here it is anyway.

January was to be the opening of my zazzle shop and the relaunch of my etsy shop. I did alot of sewing in December getting things ready but it'll have to wait until we get resettled. My blog giveaways and illustration projects are on hold as well though I will continue to work on design projects throughout the move.

Thanks for hanging with me through this very lean time. I hope to be feeling more inspired soon!
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