Friday, December 6, 2013

Just Another Cooking Post

Weeknight Edition. 

This post really has no point other than to state that I tried a new recipe and I really liked it.  Just like every other house we have our weekly go-too menu.  This includes classics like spaghetti, tacos/burritos and some sort of breakfast.  Last night I tried something new and it totally rocked.  We tried a variation of Honey-Soy Braised Pork.  Now, I can't claim that I found this recipe on my own because I didn't.  Hubby did.  I did make a few tweaks though.

For one, I didn't realize that we didn't have anymore Sriracha.  I was only going to use half what the recipe called for anyways since Clover doesn't have an appreciation for spicy foods yet.  I think the tip got gunky and I threw it out with every intention of picking up more.  But since we didn't have it, I left it out.  I also added in some mushrooms about twenty minutes before I was going to serve dinner.   

I also did not have fresh ginger.  But I do keep a knob of ginger in the freezer.  It comes in handy and freezes very well.  I use a small grater and just grate it into recipes.  It's one of those things I don't buy every week but need it in recipes.  I also like a little grated into some green tea with honey. 

The only question I had about the recipe was the timing.  My crock pot runs a bit hot.  Even on "keep warm" it can still burn stuff.  The recipe calls to cut the pork and then leave it in for 7-8 hours.  If you were making this while you were at work I would say skip the cutting part and just shred the pork when you get home and mix it in the cooked sauce.  I chopped up my pork and it was done by hour 5.  Then again I know my crock pot runs hot so I prepared for that.           

Although I messed with the recipe, it still came out really tasty.  My husband devoured his.  I'm not sure if it was because he spent all day in two airports trying to get home or if it was because he actually had a home cooked meal in front of him.  Left overs today were just as yummy.  Clover ate it too and requested that the noodles be in her lunch box.  I didn't have rice to I made some rice noodles I had in the cupboard from the Asian market.  I cooked them according to the instructions and added a little sesame oil to it.  Instant Sesame Noodles.

I think that since this recipe was so easy and only had like four ingredients I can add it to the weeknight menu.   


Friday, November 22, 2013

Sometimes I Feel Like I Need A Bullhorn!

I'm a bit ranty this morning.  My computer is telling me that ranty is not a word but I assure you it is.  So why am I so fired up this morning? 

Because I witnessed yet another parent taking their child to school without a proper seat harness on!

Now, I am a firm believer in not telling people how to parent their kids.  I may offer suggestions or tell you what worked for us but in no way do I doll out the advice anymore.  I have learned my lesson.  No one likes unsolicited advice anyways.  But this isn't advice. 

This is plain o freakin common sense!


Yes, I understand that you ONLY live a few blocks from school.  I DON'T CARE. 

Okay, let's say that you are a great driver and you have confidence that nothing will happen.  Guess What?  I still don't care.  There is a reason they are called accidents.  You can trust yourself all you want but that doesn't stop anyone else from hitting you.

It's a school zone, people drive safe.  Really?  Then why did our city hand out over two hundred tickets during their crackdown the first week of school?  

ANYTHING can happen in those few blocks and heaven forbid you get t-boned or rear ended, YOUR KID is going to be the first one who gets injured because they weren't strapped in properly.  If your car is in motion your kid should be strapped in.  You love them don't you?  Then stop playing the cool parent and letting your child play in the back seat or hang out of the damn window.  It is YOUR responsibility.  Not your five year olds.  I see you buckling yourself in but not your kid?  What is wrong with you?  Do you really need a list of things NOT TO DO? 

DON'T put them in the front seat if they are not old enough. 
DON'T let them hang out of the window.
DON'T throw them in the back seat and drive off.  (I'm looking at you red truck with the lift kit and the racing stickers)

MAKE sure your child is in the proper car seat and buckled in.  

This morning I saw someone take their kindergartener to school in the front seat.  EVERY single day I am watching multiple parents leave school without making sure their child/children are properly seated and buckled in.  It takes two minutes of your time and could save their life if anything happens.  So I don't understand why parents would take that unnecessary risk.  That is why I am so fired up.  It's so simple but seems to be something so many people are missing.  I feel like a crazy lady on the corner with a bullhorn.  I may start screaming at people.

CDC-Child Passenger Statistics

California Department of Public Health-Car Seat Basics

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Try The Gray Stuff...It's Delicious.

While looking through my pictures, I found some random shots I took from the last Disneyland trip.  This last trip seemed to be all about the food.  I'm already a self proclaimed foodie.  I love trying new stuff!  A few years ago, before we had a kid we ventured to Disneyland and hated the food.  We tried a couple of places and we were totally grossed out. 

I am happy to say that the park has stepped up their food game. 

So the gray stuff I was talking about?  The Worcestershire Cream Sauce on the Cajun Meatloaf.  This was from the French Market.  I love Worcestershire sauce already but they turned it into something very yummy.  We recently rediscovered the French Market.  It has become one of our favorite stopping places.  We hang out there for snacks at the Mint Julep Bar and relax under the shade.  If you wait around long enough the live band comes out and plays.  This is one of Clover's favorites.  She loves dancing to the live music. 

Also gray? The seasonal dessert!  

I did manage to work off any desserts that I had.

Before our trip I picked up a FitBit Flex bracelet.  I've always been curious to how much we walk around the park.  One small hiccup in the device is that I noticed that it doesn't do a good job of picking up the steps while I am pushing the stroller.  Yes, my child is five and I still use a stroller.  It works really well at navigating the crowds and gives her a place to take her twenty minute power naps.  

Speaking of navigating, it was a little tricky navigating my food options this trip.  I have still been having tummy troubles and have temporarily given up dairy.  So that means no afternoon ice cream.  Yeah I was totally bummed out too but I found lots of alternatives.  Some of them of the not sweet variety.  One of our favorites...

 Yum!  Take some time and enjoy a corn break. 

 Our buddy was very fond of the corn also.

 At one point I was feeding the duck out of my hand which I think makes me a true Disney Princess.  

This sauce, y'all!  Hot and Spicy on a Banyan Beef Skewer.  Seriously...this sauce.

We have our favorites that we start drooling over on the drive down there.  We affectionately call this "Meat on a stick".  We usually hit this the first day in the park.  I had never been here until last year when my friend mentioned the bacon wrapped asparagus at the Bengal Barbecue.  It's that place that makes Adventureland smell so good.  It serves...meat on a stick.  There is some gratifying about walking around the park all day and then sinking your teeth into some meat on a stick.  My favorite is a Banyan Beef.  But seriously that sauce is hot.  So this time to save my tastebuds and my grumpy tummy, I ordered a Bengal Beef and ordered the Hot and Spicy on the side.  It was a lot easier to control the heat on my meat.  Does anyone have the recipe for this sauce?  Because I feel like that hole I am missing in my life could be because I can't make this sauce at home.  Tie your napkin around your neck cherie, because this stuff gets messy.  Maybe next time I should just bring a container and take it home.  Think they would sell it to me by the gallon?

I would love to go on and on about my favorite park food but the five year old is currently barking at my chair.  So off I go.  And just in case my title gave you and earworm here is the song from Beauty and the Beast.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hey Juju, Why Do You Love Tacos So Much?

So Clover's school had a book fair.  I originally had planned on NOT buying anything since we just did an old school paper book order the week before.  I thought I had went in with an iron willpower not to purchase anything and that was quickly thrown aside because hello...books!  I firmly believe that you can not own enough books.  So this one caught my eye.  It's called Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin.

I love it!  Why?  Because I love tacos.  If you replaced the word "dragon" with the word "Juju", you would have the entire first chapter of my autobiography!  

Friday, November 8, 2013

So What is Wrong With Your Head?

Recently, I've had a few questions about my neck/head so I thought I would do a quick write up.  

Hi!  My name is Juju and I have a Chiari (key-are-ree) Malformation.  You can read up on the link if you really wish but I will give you a bit of a run down.  My brain stem sits a little lower than it should. It's amazing how a few millimeters can make that much of a difference.   

I've more than likely always had this.  It is possible for people to live with this condition literally their whole lives and not know they ever had it. 

Out of nowhere I started presenting symptoms.  Two years ago in December I was driving my daughter to dance class.  We were already running late and I can tell you I was pretty stressed out.  Looking back I'm not even sure why I was stressed out.  Clover was yelling at me from the back seat.  She had dropped something and in typical lil kid fashion it was the end of her world.  I whipped back around and handed her her toy, when I turned around to drive, I got dizzy.  Like the world is spinning dizzy.  Within a second it was over.  I turned the corner to dance class and waited it out.  After a little while I felt better but this spurred three months of doctor visits to figure out what in the heck was wrong with me.  Doctor number One said it was my ears.  Doctor number Two said it wasn't.  Doctor number Three sent me to a heart specialist.  Doctor Number Four said it was a panic attack.  Doctor number Five put a heart monitor on me for twenty four hours.  Doctor number Six put my head under a machine and found my Chiari Malformation.

So about three months later they had me somewhat figured out.  So now there was a diagnosis.  What is the treatment?  There really isn't any.  Other than having brain surgery.  There are two different types of surgery they can do.  They can put a shunt in to help the fluid flow more smoothly into my brain or they can push my brain back in my head.  Fun stuff right?  Not to mention pretty scary.  Right now my symptoms are manageable.  The list of things that I can do is far longer than the list of things I can't do.  And for that I am happy.  This may change in the future and that thought scares me but for now all I can do is take it one day at a time. 

Yes, sometimes my neck hurts.  My shoulders ache and some days I just feel totally off.  But I can still go grocery shopping, take care of the house and blog!  I am still taking care of my family and myself.  I have learned how to make adjustments to my life and some of my initial symptoms have faded.

Because my doctor does not want me aggravating my neck, she has me on restricted or short distance driving.  This has been the biggest hurdle.  Not to mention it has killed my social life.  It sucks.  I am very lucky to have a small but great group of friends who don't mind driving all the way over here to hang out with me.  I am very blessed that I have family and friends who don't mind taking a trip to the craft store or helping me get my daughter to dance.  I feel like every time something comes up I am conducting an orchestra to get us where we need to go.  I have swallowed my pride on more than one occasion.  I have also bought my share of gas cards.  My poor husband who hates shopping has taken his fair share of trips to Target.  It's been really challenging letting go of my independence.  To ask and rely on someone to help me out has been a very humbling experience.  It has also shown me how appreciative I am to have great people in my life.  My only hope is that someday I can repay their kindness.

I know in the beginning there was a lot of "why me" conversations with myself.  There was a pity party or two where the only person there was me.  I should have at least made myself a party hat!  Even though I have to wear a neck brace for five hours a day and can't jump on a horse and ride off into the sunset, I like to think I still sit on the positive side of things. 

Not that there is a whole lot of sitting going on around here.  I've got stuff to do!               




Thursday, November 7, 2013

Being Proactive on the Woman Issues

Disclaimer:  This post is going to talk about women issues so this is your warning.  If you keep reading that's on you. 

I used to dread going for my yearly physical.  I wont even try to lie.  I still dread it.  Even if you are prepared there are a hundred and one things you would rather do (like listen to dubstep) than getting a pap smear.  But I go. 


Because it's important.  It's preventative.

I used to not always be so preachy about getting poked.  Then my husband's aunt got diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.  Here is the part where all the smarty parties tell me that a pap smear doesn't screen for Ovarian Cancer, and you are right.  It doesn't but it will all make sense by the time I get to the end of the post. 

She was diagnosed right around the time we found out we were pregnant with Clover.  I spent more than a few afternoons sitting and knitting in a hospital room while his aunt was working hard to recover.  Originally she went in because she was having stomach issues.  Turned out that a mass the size of an orange that was in her uterus was pushing on her intestines.  She was in her sixties and had never had a physical.  She just didn't believe in them.  Had she even gone in a few years before, they could have felt it as part of her pelvic exam before it was as large as it was.  She had many surgeries to try to remove it all and in the end it bought her a couple of years.  She was a very strong and stubborn woman.  We tried to make the most of the time we were given and I'm glad that my daughter got to meet someone I had admired.  Unfortunately, three years after she was diagnosed her body could no longer keep up and she passed away.

If I took anything away from that experience other than to cherish the time we have, it's to be proactive and make sure I get my yearly poke.

I know it sucks and it's uncomfortable to sit there and for some reason the doctor always wants to talk with your legs in stirrups.  But go do it!  If not for you than for a random internet stranger.  Buy yourself some good chocolate after as a treat or get a pedi as a bribe.  Whatever you gotta do!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Never Ever Again Ford

I was so excited when we got Rojo Grande, our big red truck.  I fell in love with being a truck girl.  It just seemed to fit me and we just seemed to be a natural fit.  And then...heartache.

We are breaking up.  Do you hear me Ford.  We are never ever getting back together!

Since we drove it off the lot it has been one big headache.  First the springs in the door broke.  Oookay I will just take it to the dealer.  Who then proceeded to accuse me of basically She-hulking the door open.  Then two months later I get a post card in the mail about a recall.  Guess what got recalled?  The damn door springs.  The emblem fell off the back.  The hook on the gas tank broke and it wont shut.  The windshield has a traveling crack.  And then earlier this year the truck left us stranded on the side of the road.  It's only four years old.   

It just left me stranded again for the SECOND time this year!  I am so mad I can't even put it into words.  Which is unusual for me because I am good with the typing.  I don't even know what in the heck is wrong with it other than it's "chuggy".  It's currently sitting at school because I couldn't trust enough to drive it home during the school rush hour.  So we walked home. Thank you to the few people who called to check on us and make sure we were okay.  It's not that long of a walk and I'm glad I was close to home but walking across two fields in my cute flip flops which have no arch support has left me more than slightly grumpy.

I just hear echos of "get an American car".  Memories from when we were shopping for a new car.  I can tell you from experience, it's not about quality.

You know you have those moments where you wish you could go back in time and change something...this would be it.  I wish I could go back and keep my Honda!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stinking Addicting Potatoes

Hubby wanted to kick the weekend off right and have a fire in the fire pit.  I was all about it.  Nice and relaxed hubbies are good things.  He said he wanted some appetizers for dinner and that I should just pick something up from the freezer section.  I know he was trying to make dinner easy for me but the thought of putting greasy pre fried food in my stomach wasn't sitting right with me.  Especially not after the McDonalds the night before.  Me and fast food just don't get a long anymore.  Not that it's a bad thing.  I probably shouldn't be eating this stuff anyways but Clover was sick and wanted Chicken Nuggets so that is what we had.  I have started to just pick up happy meals lately.  I get a smaller portion and an extra toy for Clover to play with so it works out.  Even with a smaller portion the nugget/fry combo didn't sit well that night.  So my stomach was already out of whack.  I decided that it would be better just to make my own appetizers.  This would take a bit more time than just popping some stuff in the oven but in my head, my stomach would thank me.

So I found this potato recipe over at Diethood - Loaded Baked Potato Rounds.   Here is where I admit that I didn't follow the recipe exactly.  I skimmed it and in my hurried state didn't get to the bottom where it says they precook the potato.  Whoopsie.  But you know what?  They came out perfect anyways.  I sliced them pretty thin.  Not potato chip thin but still thick enough to hold the toppings.  And to shorten the cooking time I micronuked the bacon.  I layed out the rounds on a lightly greased tin foiled covered sheet pan.  I used about three potatoes.  Then I sprinkled on some cheese and bacon.  I cooked them for about twelve minutes and then added some more cheese and cooked them for ten more minutes.  They were done all the way when I pulled them out and still had stability to hold up while dipping them.  They were soooo yummy.  You get the same flavor as a baked potato without having to wait an hour to cook them. 

I was a little worried about reintroducing dairy back into my diet since I have been weened off it for awhile due to the gastritis but I didn't have a problem at all.  I'm going to have to take it easy though or else I might dive into the diary isle head first.

Between the three of us we ate the entire half sheet pan.  I will admit that I snacked on a few before the plates made it out to the fire pit.

If You Give Juju A Cookie...

Have you ever read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?  It's an adorable story about giving a mouse a cookie that leads this kid on a little adventure.  Like this kids whole day is blown because they gave a mouse a cookie.  It's pretty much the premise for my entire life.  Like if I go to the grocery store, I will have to make a list...then I will have to find a pen and paper...I will have to shop...take the bags to the car... take the bags in...unpack...clean out the fridge...and take out the garbage.

It's like this with ALL the projects I want to work on.

I wanted to string up lights this weekend.  They were these cute blacklight Halloween lights.  You know the tiny bulbs that everyone just calls Christmas lights?  So I bought four packs the other day while I was waiting for Clover's meds to be ready at the pharmacy.  I went to grab the ladder that had been outside only to find out that a bird had tried to make a nest in it.  So I sweep off the nest only to find a bajillion tiny bird droppings all over the ladder!  Ick ick and tripple ick.  So now I have to wash the ladder.  So I have to take it over, find the bleach and spray that sucker down.  So even though I had my heart set on putting up the lights I know that a wet, metal ladder and electricity do not mix.  I'm smart like that.

So now I have to find a plan b.  Why another plan?  Because I have this weird tick where when I set my mind to finish something I am going to gosh darn finish it!  I call it a tick, my husband thinks I'm insane.  Tomayto...toemato.  Most people would give up and try another day.  Not me.  If I don't have a tool I need, I will improvise.  I have duct tape!  Enter the step ladder and a stick.  Not just any stick but a Y shaped stick.

So after I figure out where the thing is going to plug in, I start stringing.  And then I get to the top of the garage.  The highest point on the house.  Which again would have not been a problem had the ladder not had a metric ton of bird crap on it.  So then a light bulb goes off in my head.  I grab Clover's Barbie fishing pole and my thinking is that if I fling the bobber over the light on the garage I can just reel them over.  Sounds good in theory right?  Nope.  Three attempts and nothing.  The lights are just too heavy for the fishing pole.  The string snaps.  I guess the people making these kiddie fishing poles think that these kids aren't going to catch anything bigger than a minnow because the string that comes on those things snaps after about two pounds of pressure.  Now a mental note to restring the bright pink Barbie fishing pole.

So I am already invested in this project.  And I mentioned earlier that my husband thinks I am insane right?  Probably because I am.  So the Y shaped stick of light stringing doom is about an inch too short to make it over the light on the top of the garage.  Enter mental rage because I couldn't really rage with my daughter playing in the yard.  At this point another light bulb goes off in my head.  I'm surrounded by them at this point.  I have duct tape!  So I grab a marshmallow roasting fork with a U in the top.  Then I duct tape it to the stick.  Not kidding here people.  I already told you I was invested.  To top it off it was pretty duct tape not that silver kind!  Back on the step ladder with the Frankenstick of light stringing doom.  Finally cleared the light and finish stringing up the house.

Seriously all of that just to put some lights on the house.

I think I deserve that cookie now!        

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Our Song

We were poking around the pharmacy and our song came on.  I mentioned it and Hubby kept walking.  So naturally I said something when we got out of the store.

Me:  You didn't even notice that our song was playing.  How sad!

Hubby:  What did you want me to do?  Grab you and dance with you in the isle?

Me:  Yes, yes I did!

So to make up for it, he grabbed me and tried to dance with me in the parking lot.

Clover:  What song was it?

Me:  A song by Savage garden.

Clover:  Sandwich Garden?

Laughter ensued until everyone was strapped into Rojo Grande.

So here is one of our songs by the newly retitled Sandwich Garden.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Speaking of Autumn M & Ms

We bought one of those large trail mix containers the other day.  It was good and didn't last long.  The only problem I had with it was that it had a lot of sugar in it.  We're talking M and Ms, mini chocolate chips AND butterscotch chips.  So I decided to make my own fall trail mix.  I toasted some coconut flakes and almond slices.  

I ended up toasting the whole bag because we eat it by the handful around here.  I used half of the bag for the trail mix and about two cups of sliced almonds.  

I added a cup of white chocolate M and Ms.  Along with a cup of autumn color M and Ms.

I also added a couple handfuls of Spanish peanuts.  

It made a lot.  I divided it up and put it in snack bags so we can snack and go.  It's a little bit healthier than the other stuff we bought.  I wanted to add some raisins but it looks like we ran out.  I still thought it was pretty tasty. 

Over Analyze

Clover has been into Bubble Guppies lately.  I'm glad it isn't Dora anymore.  I have never liked that show.  Why is that kid running around all by herself?  A lot of the times these cartoons leave me with questions.  This show confuses me to no end.  Why?  Because I'm an adult.  I over analyze things. 

Are they mermaids? 

Are they in a tank or the ocean? 

Why is there gravity? 

How do things fall out of trees when there are under water? 

What is the purpose of the fire truck?

I get it.  It's a cartoon.  I will admit that it took me three episodes to figure out the running gag at lunch time.  For three episodes I was wondering what the heck was wrong with that kids parents.  Why do they keep sending him to school with an inappropriate lunch?  Are his parents on drugs?  That's not even funny!  Why haven't the mermaid equivalent of child services checked in on this kid yet?  By the third episode that we watched it was a different kid with a funny lunch at the end of the joke.  Yeah, it was one of those smack my head moments.  I need to stop watching cartoons.   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting Back to the Human Connection

I think the lack of blog posts can be attributed to my hatred of my keyboard.  This one is tiny and sleek but my fingers do not seem to stay on the keys.  It's a pretty keyboard, but not very functional.  As a matter of fact I just decided that life is too short to deal with a keyboard that isn't right for me so I fished one out of the keyboard death box.  Yes, we have a cubby for keyboards.  It has three in it right now.  We keep them just in case a friend needs one while over or if one of hubby's project boxes need one we have a box full of spares.  It's a Microsoft keyboard that I am using on my Mac...I feel a bit of a traitor just saying that sentence but life is all about finding what works for you.   

So now that all of that is handled I can get back to the rambles in my head.  I noticed myself really attached to my computer and phone last week.  I don't even know why.  I kept checking my usual websites.  Even when there was nothing else to read or look at I still found myself rechecking to see if I had missed anything.  I should have gotten up and done something productive instead of sitting in my computer chair.  So once I noticed this I started spending time reflecting and really looking at myself.  What was I trying to gain from spending so much time online?

I was trying to make a connection. 

With Clover in school and Hubby at work, my mornings are mostly pretty quiet.  If my husband goes to the office my mornings are very quiet since he takes his chiptunes and dubstep with him.  So was I lonely?  I don't think so because even when they were both home I still found myself checking in on my phone.  I think it's so much easier for me to be active on social media because in real life I lean a bit more towards the introverted side of things.  I look at outgoing people and envy them.  I wish I had a tenth of my daughters ability to be an extrovert.  She puts herself out there and says hi and is super friendly to everyone she meets.  And I will admit that there are times where I want to be more like my five year old.  So after the third time of checking my phone in what seemed like a half hour, I decided that it was time for me to get back to being present in my life.  I need to stop leaning online for my social interactions and get back to making more of a human connection.

I guess I just wanted to say that I am working on it.   

I have also decided that life is too short to eat the fruit snack flavors I don't like.  Why should I bother my taste buds with grape or banana flavored anything?  Same thing goes for Skittles.  I bought a bag to see what all the hullabaloo was about with the green apple vs. lime debate.  I now have a baggie full of grape and orange Skittles on the candy shelf and have to make sure I don't confuse those with my autumn M and M's.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Things I Find On The Internet

I have to imagine that when the creators sat around high fiving themselves because they just invented the internet, they were imagining the many educational and intellectual ways people were going to be able to share information from all over the world.  My husband even gets nostalgic and happy when he shares his early bbs days.  Then it morphed into the age of information where you can literally get information on anything with a few keystrokes. 

It's amazing.  It's also eye opening.  You have access to all sorts of information and cat pictures.  Don't forget the cat pictures.  Those are a big player in the internet scheme.  Somehow while I was in random internet search mode, I came across a debate I didn't even know existed.

The Great Toilet Paper Debate.  It's real.  There is even a wiki on it?  I didn't even know this was a thing!  Here is the info-graphic on the debate.  

Around here we don't really care what way it's facing.  With two girls in the house it doesn't last long on the roll anyways.  And as long as it's on the roll (and not on the counter) my husband doesn't care which way or the other.  He is just happy it's on there.   

So now I just feel somewhat uncultured.  I also feel kind of like a bad host since I may have inadvertently offended or possibly annoyed someone with the direction my toilet paper was facing.  My apologies to any guests I may have offended.  Also I will work on being better at making sure there is a hand towel in the bathroom. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Simple Rambles

We have finally settled into a fairly routine schedule.  Weekdays can get a little crazy and I wish the weekends were filled with lazy bliss.  But, alas there always seems like there is something to do.  Even now with Clover gone during the days I realize just how big my to-do list was.  I am now realizing how long I have put some of this stuff off.

When I'm not trying to tackle the To Do List of Dooom (tympani drums bom bom bom bom), I have been left with a lot of time to think.  I'm actually quite surprised some of it didn't end up here since this is one of the places I come too when I need to hash out what is in my brain.

Most of it is positive thinking.  A lot of it is self reflection and trying to figure out where I fit into the larger scheme of things.  For the last five years I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a Stay at Home Mom (thanks Hubby).  a SAHM for short.  I never know why they include the "a" in the acronym, since most times it's left out.  I guess SHM sounds a little to close to something you would do in the bedroom?  Whoooo knows?  Anyways, back to my ramble on where I fit into the universe. 

Part of me wants to work on the book I have been putting off.  Part of me wonders if I should get a job.  Should I go back to school?  Finish my degree in Child Development?  Then I wonder if there is something wrong with me because I don't have a passionate answer.  I never really knew what I wanted to be when I was a kid.  I hadn't really picked anything for certain until I was in High School.  I would pick an career and then find out more about it and then nope out of there.  Hubby on the other hand pretty much knew what he wanted to do since he was 9.  One time when he was driving me home from a date he said he wanted to work for the largest telecommunications company in our area.  About five years after that he was.  I have always admired his determination and focus. 

Career wise, I picked one while I was attending a vocational high school.  They told us that what made this school different was that we would be able to join the workforce straight out of high school.  For most of the careers that is true.  I started working in the daycare at my high school helping take care of the kiddos of my fellow classmates.  It was fun.  I liked it.  I seemed good at it and it was fairly easy.  So from there I decided to go into Child Development.  In most states you need a set amount of college credits to get a job (legally) in a day care.  I went to school and was a nanny for a bit until I earned enough credits to get a job.  I learned a lot from every person I worked with.  From there I continued my education, racking up units and sharpening my skills as a teacher.  Up until the day I left I still enjoyed being in a classroom.  I left to start the greatest adventure I have been on.  Being a Mom.  So now I have this break in my day where I no longer have to focus on being a Mom.  So how do I transition roles during the day?  This is what I am currently working on. 

That and the "what do I want to do with my life?" question.  I've been thinking about it for a bit now.  In it's simplest form, I want to be a good person.  I want to be happy and make others around me happy.  It makes me happy to know that I made someone's life a little easier or made some smile.  As Gandalf mentioned in the movie The Hobbit:

 “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.”
I'm sure I have quoted that before.  That's how much I love that line.  Because I pretty much see myself like that.  Now, I know I am a realist and I know I have one heck of a cynical and judgmental side to me.  But I also know that I am a pretty positive person.  I don't see the glass as half full or half empty.  I see it more of "It has something in, so be happy for that" kind of a stance.  I have seen others play the game and run the rat race.  It's simply not something I am interested in participating in.  I watch everyone hurry out after dropping their kids off and they are all racing somewhere.  They all have somewhere they were supposed to be five minutes ago.  Racing around a school zone, ignoring traffic signs, double parking, getting frustrated while waiting in the line to get out of the parking lot and going left even though the sign clearly says "right turn only".  And there I am in my big red truck blaring my country music.  I've been on a country kick lately.  I don't look so stereotypish when I am playing Darren Hayes or Kylie.  I think being in a truck and blaring country does something to seal the deal.  I am just missing the pig tails and cut offs.  Possibly boots too if I wasn't so in love with my flip flops.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Freak Out That Never Happened

I heard a lot of things about Clover starting the big K.  People were full of suggestions to make it easier.  Encouraging words from parents that had been there before and teachers that had been on the other side were heartwarming and helpful.  All of the other comments I had heard...not so much.  Just like any other time in your life, people are going to say something about it.  Sometimes these people mean well and don't realize what they are saying could be taken every which way but the right way.  Those people I have given the benefit of the doubt.  Cuz I'm nice like that.  Then there seems to be the group of people that increase the anxiety you didn't even know you had.

The not so positive things I heard before starting:

You are going to freak out.

Have you started panicking yet?

The guys at work are worried about what you are going to do once Clover starts Kindergarten.

YOU ARE SOOOO GOING TO FREAK OUT! (yes, all caps was necessary)

So let me just say that I am not really the freaking out kind of person.  I am usually pretty cool, calm and collected (most of the time).  There are times where I get upset, complain or vent.  But there have been few times I have freaked out.  I also have this glitch in my personality where I feel the need to correct people's opinion of me.  I have to prove them wrong.  I realize that this glitch has been around for awhile.  For example: my chemistry teacher in high school told me he didn't think I would get that far in the class.  I walked out of that class with a high B/almost an A.  So hearing that all I was going to do was freak out did the opposite.  I'm not sure if I didn't freak out because I really wasn't that worried or because everyone only told me that I was going to. 

I think the anticipation of Kindergarten was the worst.  Yes, I will admit I was a bit nervous.  Especially when I realized that her Kindergarten was indeed ALL DAY.  It was way easier to plan out the day knowing she would only be in class for three hours.  Oh how times have changed.  Having people to run my worries by helped.  There were a lot of people I reached out to that calmed my nerves down and I appreciate that.   

Clover was apprehensive at first.  Mostly because she thought she was going away to school.  Like boarding school.  I think she got this idea from Harry Potter.  So when we talked about school, she thought she was getting on a train and going away.  Preschool helped with this.  She finally figured out that we do come back for her every day and she gets to come home and sleep with her "babies".

Then the big day came and went.  We went down and dropped her off and she kissed us and waved us off.  The first couple of days we didn't linger.  I know from my teaching days that sometimes it confuses them and makes it worse.  The second day she kissed me and told me "I'm going to go and play with my friends Mom, you can go now!" and ran off.  I loved that she was so independent.  She has been from the beginning.  Part of me was a little sad that she didn't need me but I was glad that she was loving her new teacher and classroom.

The only hiccup we had was on the sixth day.  She asked me how many more days she was going to to have to go to school.  I let her know she had about 10 more months.  She looked a little shocked.  I think she figured out that it was a long term thing.  That morning she begged me to stay until the bell rang and got teary eyed when it was time to line up.  My heart broke.  I really didn't want to leave her.  But the grown up voice in my head told me that I had to.  I wanted to hover when she went into her class but I resisted.  So I emailed her teacher to check in on her instead.  Of course, she was fine.

I was pretty lucky that she adjusted pretty quickly.  She is my social butterfly so she loves making friends.  She even likes that she has classwork to do.  The one thing we need to work on is helping her to learn that it's not okay to interrupt her teacher.  All in all she is doing great.

Just in case anyone is wondering, I'm doing just fine too! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To My Congressman/Woman or Person In Charge of These Things

You see I am a parent of a brand new Kindergartener.  Being that this is our first year I have some new observations.  I was a little shocked to see the new classroom sizes for this year.  Now, I have met our teacher.  I have seen her in action and I believe that she can indeed handle 33 five year old.  Buy my question is:  Can you?

You see, I also heard that this number is not final this year.  I also heard that you may increase this number.  So before you do this, I have a proposition for you.  Why don't you take a month off of your important law making job and put yourself in the teacher's position, fully.  Not observing or helping out.  I'm talking 100% the whole enchilada teaching.  For a month, you will be a Kindergarten teacher.  You will dry their tears when they miss mom and dad or wipe their snotty noses or tie their shoes, all of that now times it by 33.  And an added twist to the situation, you only get paid a teacher's salary.

I understand that you see education as a place where the budget can get cut.  I get that at the end of the day it's all a numbers game.  There is a larger argument to be made about how much we are investing into our future generation, which as a whole doesn't seem to be a lot.  But for the sake of making this short...I seriously doubt that by the end of my proposed month you will think that 33 kids in a classroom is a feasible idea.

Last Bit of Summer

Looking back I can't remember all the things we did.  It didn't seem like we did a whole lot but looking over the pictures it seems that we were busy enough.  And just like that it was all over.  We did manage to get two vacations in before we entered the official school year.

We took a break from our lovely weather and headed to the coast.  There is something about going over that hill and rolling your windows down to get that beach are in the car.  It was so calming until the redhead in the back seat started screeching about her hair.

That serenity that comes from being on vacation at the beach was quickly ended by the hotel informing me that they did not have my reservation.  I figured that I didn't need it since everything is digital anyways.  So the pdf I saved with my reservation number was on my hard drive on my laptop at home, four hours away.  Since we were only staying the weekend, I didn't bring it.  Why bother?  I was at the beach.  The hotel was very good about finding us another room.  They even offered us 20% off.  So we not only got a beach front room but at a better price than the regular room I had booked.  There was someone behind the counter mentioning that she couldn't find another reservation either so I think there was a glitch in their system.  But did that stop me from stressing out the entire weekend?  Of course not!  I spent the entire weekend thinking I had gone crazy.  One desk clerk mentioned that there was another hotel by the same name in Santa Cruz.  So I had to look up my credit card statement to make sure that I didn't book the hotel in a place we weren't even remotely close too.  So then I spent the weekend worrying about myself and my sanity.  Did I make the reservation?  Was I multitasking?  Is my focus not what it used to be?  Do I need to go back to the doctor?  So I tried my best to calm down.  Hubby was really good about the mix up but I couldn't help but stress that I almost ruined our first vacation of the summer.  So I stressed for three days.  I came home and opened my laptop and quickly searched for the pdf.  I found it in about three seconds.  And there in all it's glory was my hotel reservation a long with my confirmation number.  Even though it was their screw up the hotel did everything to make it right and we had a lovely weekend.  I was mad but more at myself for doubting everything and stressing out all weekend.  Some things you just have to learn how to let go.

I did manage to get some snapshots in.  In no particular order...

Our empty purple bucket.  

Feet in the sand picture.  But check it out I'm in a skirt!   

My favorite product of the Summer!  Neutrogena didn't pay me to say that.  It really is my favorite sunscreen.  I HAVE to wear it because even on a cloudy day I will burn!  I buy the four pack from Costco.  This stuff is nice because it is dry touch so it doesn't feel greasy at all.  I can't do greasy.  If there is anything on my skin I wig out.  It gives me the heebeejeebees.  Like wearing straight leg pants that hug my calves.  ick!   

Our bucket quickly filling up.  Clover hunted while I hid from the sun in our beach tent.  I hid from the sun so I don't end up a Crispy Fried Juju.    

This isn't another foot picture.  Well it is but it's more to point out that I was wearing a dress!    

The beach. 

What is a beach trip without a Cinnamon Roll?  Pecan roll with frosting!  Yum!  I shared and we still only killed about a quarter of it.  

It was pretty windy the whole time we were there.  So why not pick up a kite?
Hubby had vacationed there as a kid.  So it was really fun to check out all his old haunts and hear stories about his family vacations.  It was fun to share all of that with our daughter.  She was so excited to hear about Daddy when he was younger.  It was nice that we all got to connect before Summer came to an end and our baby started Kindergarten.  But that freak out is for another post.  Just kidding I didn't freak out!  Sort of.   

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In Which I Totally Want To Throw A Tantrum

I tried.  I really did.  I tried to not let it affect my day.  I tried to be in a better mood but I just couldn't help it.  It sucks.  My day was totally destroyed.  I'm not sure it was destroyed.  More like the idea of what I thought today was going to be, was destroyed.  I handled it like an adult.  When in reality I wanted to handle it like a kid and whine, kick, scream, and throw a mega tantrum over it. 

Ice cream helped.  It seemed like an Cookies and Cream kind of a day.  Or if you are Clover or Grandma a Reckless Sherbert kind of a day.  They earned their ice cream.  They dealt with me all day. 

So Sunday, my tooth fell out.  It had been a bit wiggly and then just fell out of my head.  This tooth was the one I had the root canal on two years ago.  After my tooth broke in half I had a root canal and a shiny new porcelain crown put on.  It wasn't that bad of an experience considering that I don't even like dentistry.  It was kind of a big deal for me.  Then there is the money aspect.  I had to pay a percentage of the root canal/crown/dentist time.  Over all close to $1500 out of pocket.  Only to have it fall out two years later and currently sitting on my dresser in a baggie.  

So now I am having the hard sell put to me to get an implant.  But to tell you the truth I am so over it.  I'm not sure what I am going to do but I'm upset that I let it ruin my day.  I should have just accepted it and gone with the flow.  Which I usually do.  But for some reason today was different.  I couldn't let go of what I wanted today to be.  I'm not even sure why that was important to me. 

Do you think that if I put it under my pillow the Tooth Fairy will help reimburse my loss? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

We've Been In The Kitchen

It's hot here.  And if you can't stand the hide inside and find stuff to do.  No really you do.  So a couple of weeks ago while brainstorming things to do I came across some kids cookbooks.  It sounded like a good idea.  I love that I can find a lot of variety on Amazon but waiting for everything to come in is torture.

They came in one by one.  As soon as we got our first one, we got to cooking!

 Clover picked the Soy Needles.

 From the Feed Our Small World Cookbook for Kids.
The recipes in this book are fairly simple.  Even though Clover is only five she could make several of the recipes.  They all have full color pictures.  I boiled the noodles and Clover mixed everything together.  She tried to chop the green onions with a butter knife but gave up because her "hand got tired".  She also measured all of the ingredients but insisted that she taste everything before it went into the bowl.  

This was our end result.  Even though she made it, she didn't like it.  I thought it was pretty tasty.  She got points for trying it at least.     

Then my Tiana book came in!  Now Princess and the Frog is one of my favorite Disney movies but I am not THAT  big of a fan where I would pay $80 bucks for a cookbook.  Luckily I found the only one listed for $6 and bought that one.  The corner was bent but that was the extent of the damage that was done to it so I thought it was a pretty good deal.   Clover went through the book and picked out a recipe.  She wanted to make "Dumbo".  Took me a minute to figure out that she wanted to make Gumbo.  But mostly because she wanted shrimp.  I made two versions of this because I don't do seafood.

Check it out I'm a drink!  Okay really it was the snake.

 I've never had gumbo before but with only five instructions I figured I could give it a try.

 Baking the rue instead of stove cooking it.  Clover measured and stirred the rue.  She also had to try each ingredient before she added them to the pan.  I popped it in the oven.  Took about thirty minutes to darken the rue.  But I was able to cook the base and chop veggies while this was in the oven.

 Clover chopped the sausage with her butter knife.  mmmmm.  Smells Yummy!

How Clover ate hers.  She's not one for mixed up stuff.  

It was pretty delicious.  We even had it the next day for lunch.  It made quite a lot.  We have a couple more books we are making our way through.  I bought one of the Rachael Ray for kids cookbooks and I wasn't impressed but maybe it is for older kids.  The first recipe is for bagel pizzas with ketchup and hotdogs.  Maybe our pallet is more refined than that.

And for some reason when we get in the kitchen we get this song stuck in our head.  Since her cookbooks are now on the shelf it's the first lyric she sings.  

Also here is the bonus episodes of Good Eats that involve cooking with kids.  My kid is a lot younger so she doesn't have her own knife yet but she does have her own measuring cups and a cutting board.  



Sunday, July 21, 2013

It's A Short Summer After All!

I have been conscious of time this Summer.  This is in fact, Clover's first Summer vacation.  The Summer to start all Summers.  The Summer before she starts Kindergarten.

We took a small break after our wonderful dance show and all of the sudden I have been stressing that we aren't doing enough stuff.  As it turns out we have.  Not to mention I have the pictures to prove it.  I can breathe a little bit better now.  The stress has started fade.
It hasn't been an in your face Summer but we have been pretty good at keeping up with the fun.  We've had some water fun, and some movie fun too, and a few days to just lounge around the house.

Clover got her very first smash book! Her Aunt sent it to her in the mail.  That was very exciting for her.  

So she has been smashing. 

 We made some fruit punch playdough and she made something that resembled Jabba the Hut.

 Princess game night.  So of course she was in her princess night gown.

 Who will win Pretty Pretty Princess?

 And the Princess version of Yahtzee Jr.

 Yeah, I lost that game too.  I made my comeback with Hi-ho-Cherrio!

So why the stress?  I know that parents have been sending their kids to school since way before my parents walked up hill in the snow both ways to get there.  I guess it dawned on me that soon we will have a schedule to stick to and things to get done.  The last five years we haven't had to worry about that and now in a few short weeks we will have to adapt.  And adapt we will.  I know that we wont stop having fun just because she starts school but I still want to make this Summer special.  

I think we are on the right path.  

What are you guys doing this Summer?   

Side Note:  I typed this whole thing up and didn't capitalize the word summer.  It looked funny so I looked it all up and found this from  So I went back and changed it all so now it looks right to me. 

Should I capitalize the names of seasons, such as Spring and Summer?
The seasons of the year are not capitalized as a rule, except in some literature like in poetry when a season is personified. However, it is certainly ok to capitalize the names of the seasons, especially when doing so often makes it clearer that you are talking about a season. Spring is the first season of the year, astronomically from the vernal equinox to the summer solstice. In the US, it is generally thought of as March, April, and May. Spring's etymology is from Old English as 'the place of rising or issuing, esp. of a stream, river, etc.' The second season, Summer, is astronomically from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox and the word's history goes back to Old Norse sumar, though the word has cognates outside Germanic languages. Autumn, the third season, is astronomically from the autumnal (descending) equinox to the winter solstice, popularly September, October, and November. Autumn derives from Latin autumnus. The term Fall is used in North America as the ordinary name for Autumn; in England it is rare except in literary use and some dialects. Winter, the fourth season, extends astronomically from the winter solstice to the vernal equinox and is considered to be December, January, and February. Winter's etymology goes back to Gothic wintrus.

Late Night Cooking With Juju

A long time ago I had a friend share a recipe and I was hooked.  It has become one of my comfort foods.  It's also wicked simple to make.  The other night I decided I wanted to make it for breakfast.  It was also about 11:30pm when I decided to whip this batch of French Toast Casserole up.  I don't have my own cooking show so here is the pictorial.

Slice your bread into cubes.  I usually use an 8x8 pan because there are only three of us.  I used a baguette.  It's nice and chewy and soaks up the custard well.   

 Add some cream cheese.

 Mmmmm Nutmeg.  Not that canned stuff!  Fresh is the best!  I don't think that Nutmeg is in the recipe but I add it to any cream base.  It makes it just that much yummier!  And coffee, it's so yummy in coffee.

 Custard!  I usually add a bit of maple syrup to the custard instead of sugar.

Make room in the fridge for a couple of hours.  It will be there waiting for you in the morning to pop in the oven.

 All browned up and delicious looking!

A little bit of real maple syrup and I was in heaven.  It was even pretty good the next day.  Now I am making myself hungry all over again.   

Knit One, Times A Thousand

In 2004, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands.  This time led to boredom.  Which then led to curiosity and then to research and then finally knitting.  If at that stage you could call it that.  In the beginning there was a pair of needles, a lot of yarn, and patience.  Lots and lots of patience.  I had started out watching a lot of D.I.Y. network.  I found myself glued to the tv watching Edith Eig on Knit One, Purl Two and Vickie Howell on Knitty Gritty.  During one of our trips to L.A. I took a detour and went way out of my way to visit Edith's shop, La Knitterie Parisienne.  It was a very cute shop.  Her husband helped check me out and guided me over to have my book signed.  Of course I clammed up like a lil kid and didn't say much.  I was too busy geeking out over having my book signed.  The ladies at the round table were a bit snobby though.  They didn't like the fact that Edith stopped to sign my book.  That kind of put a damper on things.  But I had new needles, yarn and a book to thumb through while on vacation.

I dabbled here and there and found online videos of the knit stitch and the purl.  I practiced those over and over and over again.  Really when you first start, just hold the needles and figure out how to get them comfortable in your hands.  It took me about a year before I figured out that my purl stitch was backwards.  I guess that's the downside to teaching yourself.  I didn't know anyone who could teach me and I didn't know that yarn stores have people built in to teach you.  I thought that since I lived in a smallish town that there wasn't any yarn stores nearby.  I now know that this is false and we have a couple in town.  It's one of those "If I knew then, what I know now" kind of situations.  I could have saved myself the heartache of the twisted stitch.  I also could have stopped myself from buying the chenille yarn (it worms y'all, don't buy it).      

In the beginning there was a lot of scarves.  A lot!  Pretty much everyone I have known has gotten a scarf.  I eventually worked my way up and found that I really love making baby blankies.        

 The first completed baby blanket.
"The Shelby"

 I got a little more daring with the borders.

Pattern and color

 Go Idaho!

My new favorite, the Mitered Square.

The mitered square has become my go to square.  Knitting a blanket row by row can seem tedious sometimes.  I know that when I sit down and knit I can kick out a square in an hour so I feel like I get more accomplished with my time when I can see my progress.  The latest one I completed was patchwork of blues.  I know I need to get better at taking pictures because I have made so many more than these I just get so excited to send them out that I forget to snap a picture.  I'm not sure what it is but the repetitive motion is really relaxing for me.  I admit that I do get carried away with purchasing yarn and I know that I need to start getting through the stash in the garage. 

Writing or knitting can sometimes be a tough choice.  I wonder which one will win out tonight?           

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


There isn't anywhere safe.  Clover can reach the top shelf of the fridge now so I can't hide anything up there anymore.  I'm starting to learn that if I don't use it right away, it wont be there when I go back to pull it out for dinner.  Last night I let her pick the one tomato that our plant produced.  Which was on the Beefsteak plant but was neither beefy or steaky.  By the time we got to the back door it was half gone.  I'm glad that she loves her fruits and veggies so much but right now she is sitting next to me eating raw green onions.   

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hair Rollers and Glitter A.K.A. I'm a Dance Mom - Year 2

I would say "Yay! I survived!" but that might imply that it was difficult.  We seemed to find our groove this year, so it really wasn't that hard at all.  Sure I had to deal with some attitude this year.  And I admit that it was something I wasn't prepared for and I really didn't know how to handle it.  But in the end I just laughed it off because some people tend to take themselves too seriously.  By the end of the year I realized that their bad attitude really had nothing to do with me.

That is when I realized that I was too chill to be a Dance Mom.  Or at least the stereotypical Dance Mom that you think about when you hear the phrase Dance Mom.  I was just there to watch my baby girl dance and have fun while I was at it.

Two years ago when we started this journey it was a little crazier.  I had no idea what I was doing so I was totally out of my comfort zone.  Clover loves her dance class so much that I sucked it up.  Ah the things we do for our children.  That and the toe taps are still just as adorable.

Once again this year I found myself backstage.  I'm not sure if it was because Clover had asked me or if it was my insane want to be helpful.  Either way there I was for the second year in a row.  These kids made it so easy.  By the end of the week they knew the routine and we were at the door waiting before we were even called.  The stage director for that door looked at us surprised that we were lined up and ready to go.  I take like a tenth of the credit because it was all the kids.  We had a small hiccup when one of our poor darlings got sick 2/3rds of the way through the show.  She went home and rested and was much better the next day.   Minus the hiccup our night went pretty smoothly.

When I'm backstage with the group, all those years of child care training kick in.  I'm doing a head count every two and half minutes.  That fear of losing a kid keeps me on my toes most of the night.  Even though there were three of us backstage with the kids I was still counting heads.  Darn training!

I had an extra treat this year.  One of the families I had in my class many years ago had joined our dance studio so I got to watch the youngest of their family up on stage dancing her heart out.  I got to watch from the side of the stage but it was such a treat to see this little girl who was just a toddler many years ago up there on stage too.

The big show at the end of the year can get a little crazy but it's fun.  I love watching Clover put together everything she has learned throughout the season.  Not only does she get to put it all together but she gets to show it off.  For everyone in the audience to see because she is "on the big stage".  If she would have her way, she would want to hold classes on the stage because she loves it that much.

She loves all of it.  The costumes are now fair game so she wore one of them to the grocery store today.  Her flowers lasted until this week and then she picked all the petals off so she could save them.  Luckily Grandma made her a silk bouquet to insure that we didn't have a replay of last years flower meltdown.

I'm glad that she has found something that she enjoys so much.  I have come to accept the fact that I am a Dance Mom.  Maybe we can start working on redefining it or something.  I don't think I will be running out and buying myself a bumpit anytime soon.  

Block by Block

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love to throw a birthday party!  I spend a ton of time looking into ideas or craft projects or food.  Hubby's birthday was no different.  After spending a ton of time brainstorming we settled on a Minecraft themed party.  I mentioned I'm a nerd right?  Do you really need that disclaimer?  So, you know how much I love my themes right?

Here piggie!  I also decorated the glass in the house to look like the glass in the game.

The glass was done with white electrical tape.  All I had to do was snip it into squares.  The piggie was constructed out boxes and wrapped with pink wrapping paper.  It was fairly easy to construct since I had duct tape.  I also let Clover color her own boxes green and we made a creeper with them.  Speaking of creepers...   
I made para-chord bracelets for Survival mode. 

I made the dangles out of Shrinky Dink plastic.  

I don't have a jig rigged up for bracelets so the paperclip worked great. 

I've made para-chord bracelets before.  This time I was able to find most of the supplies that I needed at the local craft store which made things a lot easier.  I did order the green off of amazon.  I thought it fit with the theme.  I made several different kinds.  I used this tutorial for the hearts one. 

There were so many ideas that I bookmarked but I just wasn't able to squeeze into the time frame.  Also I do like to keep to a budget.  So I do have to pick and choose what I am doing.  The candy and the bracelets where a big hit!  

I also found a free printable site which helped with the budget.  Free decoration?  Yes please.  I also used Pixel Papercraft for the grass blocks.  I wish I had taken a picture of the food table.  

I also whipped up a wreath so it was the first thing that the guests saw when they walked in.  It's still on the door so maybe when I get around to taking it down I will put up how I made it.  This Summer has been crazy busy I haven't even gotten around to taking the tape off the glass.  No one seems to mind.  We also have to fix the screen door because it just isn't a party around here until someone walks into and destroys the sliding screen door!