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B is for Burnt Sienna July 2, 2012

Filed under: she's crafty — gleefulbarbarians @ 4:18 am

I don’t think Crayola even makes Burnt Sienna anymore. Did you ever read the book “All I ever need to know I learned in Kindergarten?” Was that required reading for camp counselors? There’s a chapter in the book about how comforting the crayons were because Crayola hadn’t changed anything for like a million years including Burnt Sienna (of course, right after the book was published, Crayola went nuts on the colors, which is why Hello Kitty shines in shades of macaroni & cheese, Inchworm and Razzle Dazzle Rose.)

This year for end-of-year gifts for Ainsley & Brenna’s teachers, I decided to make something we all could do. So we made melted wax art. Have you ever done it? Hot glue gun a whole lotta crayons as straight as possible across the top. Paint some kind of image if you’d like (we added words with stamps), start the hair dryer and sit for a very long time. Each color melts at a different rate, which is interesting. For Ainsley’s teachers, we wrote what she said about them “Lisa has a beautiful voice, Christine is silly and fun.” That was a little two obscure for the 2 year olds, so Brenna’s teacher went with a wild theme.

7 in all. By 4, it started to cause aches and pains. I think I was assembling them in my sleep for days. The teachers thought they were cool, as each was totally unique to them. We had fun giving them and I’m hoping they enjoy them for at least a little while.

Ainsley’s teachers’:

Brenna’s teachers’:

I am still a great fan of crayons. Back to the aforementioned book, here are a few quotes from it, to either enlighten you, or remind you of the fun read:

“What I notice is that every adult or child I give a new set of Crayolas to goes a little funny. The kids smile, get a glazed look on their faces, pour the crayons out, and just look at them for a while….The adults always get the most wonderful kind of sheepish smile on their faces–a mixture of delight and nostalgia and silliness. And they immediately start telling you about all their experiences with Crayolas.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.”
Robert Fulghum

“if you want an interesting party sometime, invite your friends over, serve cocktails and then hand out crayons.”

Speaking of Kindergarten, Ainsley begins school in less than 7 weeks. Of course, school only goes from 8-10:45 in the morning (which I’m thankful about so that I can have fun with her, or she can have fun with our new au pair and Brenna in the afternoons.) She will enjoy school, but I want to give her a lot of time to move her body, to explore and discover in a more non-traditional way. I’m sure I will cry on her first day. What a change it will be.

But we’ve still got some summer, and I’m working to enjoy it. On Friday, I finished a big grant. I treated myself by going to the movies after–Hunger Games, which I am slightly obsessed with. Going to the movies by oneself in the middle of the day is divine summer behavior.

So how are you?


Two steps back January 11, 2012

Filed under: she's crafty — gleefulbarbarians @ 4:50 am

Dear Julie,

I’m feeling a little frustrated with myself and my lack of good time management skills and general laziness.  I decided over the weekend that I needed to go to bed earlier so that I could get up earlier and get some exercise in before the boys get up.  Once they’re up I’m on the clock.  Excellent plan.

And then the alarm went off.  At 7am. I hit snooze 3 times (apparently my ipod gives me 6 minutes of snooze??), and then I just didn’t want to put my contacts in first thing in the morning so I decided to review the kids’ work from the previous day over a cup of tea and set up the schedule for today.  At which point it was 830, the boys were up and I needed to keep them on task if they were going to get their work done in time for us to leave for the park in the afternoon.   Dan’s cousin MB flew in on Saturday with his grandparents who have a winter “house” on the other side of the city.  The boys really wanted her to go with us to the park and she was willing to go.  That meant a 40 minute drive to go get her followed by 45 minutes to the park.  Working backwards, that meant leaving around noon if I wanted to get gas, pick up lunch (because I haven’t been to the store in 5+ days because of assorted things going on, so while there IS food in the house there isn’t “easy to make for lunch” food), pick up MB and get to the park around 2 so that we could play for several hours.  We left the park at 5, got home at 6 (yay!  Rush hour traffic!), picked up dinner (nearly devoid of nutrition) and ate.  That brought us to 715.  The kids asked to use computers until bedtime (at 8 ) and Dan took MB home.  I put the kids to bed with several rounds of “it’s a toilet, not a library” and “the floor is not a hamper” and now it’s 930 and oh look – almost time for bed.  Exercise = 0.

I should look at the kids’ work NOW so that I don’t have to do it in the morning.  I should look at it as soon as it’s done (and update the next day’s schedule appropriately – I’m using an online schedule tracker this year to see if that’s any easier, and it is in some ways).  I just don’t want to.  I want to be off the clock now.

So, I’ll go sit in the couch and knit some socks for a little while and then put myself to bed.  I’m going to need to come up with some plan other than “exercise first thing in the morning” because I’m realizing that  contacts problem is a recurring one – I just don’t want to put them in first thing if I don’t have to.  It’s much nicer if I’ve been up for a couple of hours first.   I’d consider exercising (right now I’m just thinking “walk steadily around the neighborhood for 30+ minutes) in the afternoon, but  I can’t do that Tuesday or Wednesday because of other commitments.  Maybe i could do it after dinner those nights?  I talked to Morley once and she would run three miles after dinner most nights while John dealt with dinner clean up and evening house things.  Perhaps I just need to buck up.

How do you fit exercise into your schedule?  Do you have some suggestions for me?

Running out of things that fit,



Belated finishing November 2, 2011

Filed under: she's crafty — gleefulbarbarians @ 5:49 am

(which is better than premature….  well you know what I mean).

Dear Julie,

I know it’s your turn and I’m sure you’re as busy as me or probably more so, but I’m cutting in line.  Maybe to get us back in the habit or something.  It’s nothing exciting, but “they” say blogs need pictures, so you got some.

I knit.  I’m inconsistent about completely finishing things.  It often depends on how badly I want to wear or mail the thing I’m making.  MONTHS ago I posted on the Facebook about some yarn I had and didn’t know what to do with it.  Emanon said her youngest could use a sweater.  I just checked.  It was April.  I probably made the sweater in April (it’s a baby sweater – they usually go quickly)  It needed buttons, though.  It probably took me a month to get the buttons (this is not a monumental trip – I just never brought it to Joann’s when I went there for other things).  I sewed the buttons on TODAY.  November 1.  I now need to find a new home for this because E’s baby is much bigger (what with that growing thing babies do).


Picture quality = crappy.  It’s after 10pm in my kitchen, and I’m using the crappier camera.

Also, every Tuesday when it’s under 100F (so October to May, generally speaking) we go hang out with a wonderful group of homeschoolers at several different parks around the city.  The kids go play or ride bikes or sit (somewhere ELSE) while the parents chat.  Some of us work on handcrafts (I’ve been watching a quilt be pieced for a couple of years now), some do other work, some just chat.  I usually bring knitting because that’s my thing.  Today, continued working on this (it will never end) blue hooded sweater for Thing 2.  I’m up to the armpits and currently working on the sleeves.  When I couldn’t stand doing that anymore, I finished some socks I had been putting off finishing up.  When you’re done knitting, you aren’t supposed to just put a knot in the end and call it done.  You weave that end back and forth in the stitches a bit to sort of lock it down without creating a lumpy knot.  In the picture that follows the two mostly red pairs were done over the summer (the adult ones while I was in NY, the baby ones were started there and finished here, but done in August) and the green pair were started last Christmas.  My dear friend Terri and I were in Joann’s on December 22.  She says to me, “Hey!  If we get this yarn, we could knit socks together to have for Christmas!”   See that date?  Also, Terri has never made socks.  They generally take me 2-3 weeks.  Maybe I could do them faster if I could ignore everything else in my life.  Still.  What the hell was I thinking?  I said, “Sure!” and bought yarn.  Terri didn’t even bother to start.  I don’t remember when I finished them, but definitely not in time for Christmas.    I took care of the ends on all three pairs today.  So, 2 “new” pairs of socks for me, and one for some baby (again, the baby for whom I made them?  Much bigger now).


This picture?  Super crappy.  Bad lighting.  Camera that doesn’t like to focus on variegated yarn.  The weirdo background of my kitchen table:  Nicholas’s halloween loot in the upper left corner, new KnitPicks catalog at center top, placemats I’ve shoved out of the way on the right.

All of this to say, I finished some stuff.  And now, I’m finished and going to bed.

Audiobook: From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris.  Daniel’s listening to the Hitchhiker’s Guide series and enjoying it.  I didn’t think my kids would find this really funny, but they do.   Nicholas is reading anything left around the house.  I don’t think he even knows what all he’s reading.




The washing up June 1, 2011

Filed under: Brain Chatter,Children & Insanity,she's crafty — gleefulbarbarians @ 6:05 am

It’s bathing night here, so I’m currently sitting at the top of the stairs with one kid in each shower (one in mine, one in theirs), while I periodically inquire, “What are you doing in there?  Are you nearly done?”.  It’s great that they can bathe themselves, but it’s still a process.  Nicholas has a running commentary going in his.  I think he’s talking about NHL 11 (video game for the playstation) or just the playoffs because I swear I heard something like “that’s a bad word in sign language [??], and you should get fined for using that, but nothing happens if the ref doesn’t see it…” and now he’s talking about how people should pass the puck, and playing positions.  Of course, with all this talking and the water running he can’t hear my periodic shouts.

We’re on day 2 of “do the dishes before going to bed.”  This is a task I dislike, and yet I like the end result.  Night Gal hates doing the dishes.  Morning Gal likes waking up to a tidy kitchen.  Of course, Morning Gal gets up after the 3 other people in the house have already had breakfast many mornings, so it’s no longer exactly “tidy,” but at least it’s not littered with roasting pans and kitchen knives.  It was rough going over the weekend (“it’s a holiday – I don’t want to do dishes!”), particular since I made (not terribly good) cookies which made extra dishes.

I’ve been wanting oatmeal cookies and I’d had good results before with the recipe on the Quaker Oats can.  It is only now that I remember I have at least one canister of instant oats (from when my grandmother was here) plus the industrial sized box from Costco (regular rolled, not instant or quick), and that one or both of those probably has the recipe.  I’ll go see how that compares with the one I found on the Quaker website.  The end result was a mostly alright cookie, but kind of dense.  It’s a sad testimony to how rarely I make cookies that the boys were thrilled, even with mediocre cookies.

I noticed on the Quaker site that in the “recipes” tab, there’s a link to “oatmeal topping ideas.”  Score!  I thought.  I could use some new ideas.  Oatmeal does hold me longer than some other breakfast choices we have (one of my other favorites is a fried egg on a piece of toast – simple, but delicious).  I clicked and the page didn’t load.  I immediately thought, “If the Quaker people can’t come up with new things to do with oatmeal, what hope is there for me?!”  And then I hit “reload” and all kinds of things loaded. The other day I did chopped roasted almonds (take away my hippie card – my nuts aren’t raw), dried cranberries and some cranberry apple butter Trader Joe’s had over the winter.  It’s been living in my fridge, but wasn’t moldy and hadn’t expired.  Super.

[Showers done, teeth brushed, jammies on.  Soundtrack featured “Are you done yet?” and “What are you doing in there?”  and “Leave your brother alone!”  and the ever popular “Stop reading and finish up already.”  Now they’re returning from saying goodnight to Dan who was last spotted making no-carb chocolate mousse for himself for dessert]

Tell me more about the brain candy you’re reading.   I read brain candy nearly exclusively, and my audiobooks (my background noise while I do housework) have to be.  The fact that I’m doing this “Game of Thrones” book as an audiobook is a big switch for me – I have to pay more attention than I normally do with an audiobook, but I could get this faster (it’s a library download) than waiting for an actual print copy of the book.  One of my first audiobooks?  The entire (oh yes, all 10+ books) Princess Diaries series.  I also end up reading books that are related to television series or movies because I can’t think of things to read on my own.  It’s how I found Charlaine Harris (she writes the Sookie Stackhouse books that are behind the “True Blood” series on HBO).  Also, my library subscribes to this database called NoveList which has this great “author read-alike” feature.  I read the “Confessions of a Shopaholic” series and then found a whole mess of Irish/UK chick lit to read.   Janet Evanovich is another fun read.  In the “not exactly brain candy” category, I’m still a huge Stephen King fan.

You asked about books I would write.   For fiction, maybe something with a mermaid as a the main character.  WIth all the vampire hype, people might be ready.  Also, I thought MaryJanice Davidson’s 3 book series about a mermaid named Fred was good.  I’d have to not copy her.    For non-fiction I have no idea.  Probably the best I could do would be a collection of essays.  You know – like this thing.  I don’t know enough about any one thing to want to write a book about it.  Things I’m sort of involved with (like breastfeeding or knitting) are already done so well that I don’t feel drawn to try to invade that yet.  Plus, with the knitting?  By the time I thought about writing essays on that (because it surely won’t be a pattern book), the bloom will be off that literary rose.  I might have better luck going right to e-publishing, but I’m not that interested.    I would like Thomas Hale to release his Medications and Mother’s Milk book in a better format. CD-ROM would be nice, wider pages would be nice.  That book has like 1500 pages or something, but it’s only 4″ wide.    OKay.  I thought I might be exaggerating, but I looked on amazon.  It’s 1262 pages, and 8.4 x 4.4 x 2.2 inches.  Basically?  A brick.  It’s a pain in the neck to copy from it or scan it, I’m not certain the margins are wide enough so that I could get it 3 hole drilled….  ARGH!  And it’s such a good reference.  Oh, and you definitely need to read The Wind in the Willows.  I read it two summers ago – it was on that 100 books everyone should read from the BBC.

I often have a hard time just letting the boys make a mess of stuff.  Sometimes it’s balanced by the level of laziness I’m feeling: let them make a mess making their own breakfast and I get an extra 30 minutes in bed OR get up and make them breakfast.   I try to manage the science experiments mostly so there isn’t fighting over who does what and so that we actually do the experiment (rather than spilling a jar full of cabbage juice all over the kitchen floor).   The outside dirt is easier for me to manage.  I generally don’t care too much about how dirty they get outside.  Our backyard is one big dust pile because the boys have killed the grass via hockey playing and bike riding.

I’m nearly done with the sleeves for my sweater.  The other day I showed Dan the sleeve progress and he shot back, “I’m no longer impressed unless you’re doing two at a time.”  At which point I showed him that I was, in fact, doing both.  HA!  His public statement is that knitting is “witchcraft” because “there’s no way you can turn one piece of string into a sweater without tying any knots.  At any point the whole thing could unravel!  It’s witchcraft.”

Remember when we had mashed potatoes with m&ms in them?







Jumping in May 27, 2011

Filed under: Children & Insanity,she's crafty — gleefulbarbarians @ 6:13 am

Dear iGEL,

I had mentally started a note to you Tuesday night because we’d had two relatively smooth days.  YAY!  And then Wednesday broke with “Thing 1 elbowed me in the head” and a steady bout of mid-level skirmishes.  Why is it that children lull you into that false sense of “well alright!  things are moving along nicely” only to broadside you into “why did we think that ‘childfree’ was a bad option?”  It’s really been going on since Day 1.  Nursing going well?  Time to go on strike, or nurse every 3 minutes for 24 hours.   3 days of toddler eating new foods?  Time to live on nothing but 2 cheerios and carpet lint for a while.  Preschooler sharing toys?  Time to start biting anyone who comes in the room.  Ugh.

We’ve been schooling slackers this week for various reasons.  Monday was okay.  Tuesday we had a meeting in the morning and normally we’d go to the Homeschool Park Day in the afternoon, but Thing 1 ended up with an upset stomach, so we came home.  Of course he was cured by the time we got home, but I’d already planned an abbreviated day of stuff they could get done during the meeting (because we were scheduled to be out of the house from 10-6), so instead it was play hockey and go swimming for the bulk of the day.  Wednesday morning was rough (what with the elbowing and continued skirmishes) and then the afternoon was spent at art class, the library and the grocery store.  Today is Thursday and I was hoping to get back on schedule, and then a friend called.  She had just picked up her daughters from their last day of school.  Could they come over and play?  We’ve missed seeing them, so sure.   Tomorrow will either be a busy day, or we’ll end up moving things to next week.  Sigh.

Normally I wouldn’t care too much, but it’s the end.of.May and I kind of want to be done.   So, bleh.

On the plus side, tonight was stitch and bitch.  I had a lovely evening.  I’ve been working on making this sweater for myself: – mine will be blue and (shh!)  100% acrylic.  Yeah, I know.  We could talk about how artificial it is, and yet how wonderfully machine washable and dryable, but at the end of the day, I think acrylic comes from oil which comes from dinosaurs or something, so really, it’s all good.  Maybe not vegan (what with being from dinosaurs), but as someone who had turkey AND bacon on my sandwich tonight, this is clearly not a problem for me.

Holy cow.  Oil doesn’t come from dinosaurs!

I neglected to mention – that sweater from a couple of paragraphs back?  I have a goal (it’s a geeky thing and I can explain if you’re interested, but it involves a message board and a popular children’s book series) of finishing it by the end of July.  I’m not done with the sleeves yet, and I still have the back, the fronts, the hood and all the sewing up.  I started earlier this month.  Guess who’s behind?  This guy.    At the same time, I want to knit these next month: and have them done in time for the season premiere of True Blood.   At the beginning of the month I said that I wanted to have them done in time for the release of the newest Sookie Stackhouse book, but that was the 8th or something so that goal was quickly abandoned.   I don’t remember being this geeky in high school or college.   I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons.  I swear.

Just because I’m feeling rambly and this post is all about me (and because I’m always interested in what other people are reading), my currently active books are:

  • The Land of Painted Caves by Jane Auel – i started this out of a sense of obligation.  i’ve read the rest of the series, so i’m reading this too.
  • The Gift by James Patterson – this is young adult fiction about a witch and wizard sibling pair and the New Order regime that’s hunting them down.  James Patterson and his 2 page chapters make for very quick reading.
  • Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich – an audiobook that’s nearly finished.   I’ve read it as a paper book, but I like audiobooks for background “noise” sometimes.   My “on deck” audiobook is A Game of Thrones: Song of Fire and Ice by RR Martin (I think).  We’ve started watching the series on HBO, so I downloaded the book.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to follow it as an audiobook, but we’ll see.
  • I’m considering read The Warlizard Chronicles.  The author is a friend, and we have the Kindle version of the book to read on the computer or my ipod, but I’m not sure I want to know that much about him.

What are you reading, making, doing, eating?