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My Green Velvet Life

Where everything sticks.

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life & family

A (Salty Wisconsin) Spring in My Step

While much of the country is enjoying green grass and budding trees, us northerners are thrilled just to glimpse the geese flying bravely in the whipping March winds while we make mad dashes through our salt covered parking lots to our still frozen cars.  Salt is our friend all winter.  It keeps our roads and sidewalks safe.  It is the secret to outsmarting Cold Mother Nature.  But aside from all that important stuff, it drives us crazy with its ability to stick to e.v.e.r.y.thing.  In March, we’re so ready to wash away the salt and season our eyes with color once again.

The other day I did stop in the parking lot long enough to catch a few pictures of the lovely stuff.  Perfect material for a little Photoshop fun.  See the faded cracks?

So what’s under your feet this time of year?  Bet it would make great art . . .

This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth. — from the Japanese statue of Sadako

our folded hands
fly like warm cranes of comfort
spreading sacred shawls

 

The people of Japan need our help in so many ways.  If the only thing your circumstances allow you to do is pray, do not feel helpless.  A wise friend once told me, prayer is not the least you can do for someone;  it is the most you can do. 

Have you ever heard the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadako_and_the_Thousand_Paper_Cranes

Making paper cranes would be a meaningful activity to do with your kids as you help them deal with their sadness and worry over the tragedies in Japan.  Here are instructions:

http://www.wikihow.com/Fold-a-Paper-Crane

Fold your hands.  Send the Japanese people your love and peace.

The Stuff of Life is Glitter

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.  —Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), Lebanese American artist, poet & writer

Happy Birthday to My First Lady
 
She is the little girl who dreamed
she would grow into life–
The comforting, beautiful shell of life.
But she grew so fast and so big
she shattered the fragile glass.
She could glimpse horizons
beyond today.  But not today.
Today she’s too busy catching
the lovely, falling glitter.
 
 — ©2010 poetgranny
 

Happy New Year!

This is the time of year for pondering the purpose in our lives and the stuff cluttering our lives.  Yay!  Do I sound too perky?  Yes?  Probably because I love to organize.  It’s therapy for me all year long.  I actually feel a bit haughty, like the lady who shows up at church every single week and then has to put up with the clumsy holiday-goers a couple times a year.  Yeah. I’m so ahead of you clueless-plastic-bin-shoppers-at-Target!  Surely heaven has reserved special-plastic-bin-angel-wings just for me the faithful!

Seriously, this time of year I’m on to more serious stuff, like fine-tuning my picture organizing.  I’ve also been thinking a lot about pictures and life lately:

  • The big picture of my life.  I turned 50 today.
  • Playing with pictures, aka altered art.  I’m learning Photoshop Elements, which is the non-pro version of Photoshop.
  • How a seemingly meaningless object in a picture can wrench a heart with its story.  I posted what I thought was just a baby picture of my niece K. on Facebook.  Well it was so much more to her.  To her it told the special story of her Lamby, a favorite toy given to her by her Granny.

Yet even the most beautifully organized and displayed pictures cannot begin to tell the messy stories of life.  If our days and minutes were indeed as neat as our photos we’d all be, well, just flat.  And boring.

So I am paying homage to my 50 Years on Earth with my Very First Lady.  My very first digitally-altered (Photoshop’d), vintage photo lady, that is.  If you are not familiar with altered art check it out!  Think doodling, glittering and tattering old pictures and text (“real” or digital).  I have several links on my list, including http://www.artchixstudio.com/shop/home.php?dir=home and http://www.timholtz.com/.

I’d like to thank Jane at http://pixie-gypsy.blogspot.com/ for her inspiring artwork.  I happened upon her blog a few nights ago and haven’t been the same since!  She’s now on my list too so visit her any time.

May Your Shells Be Broken and Your New Year Blessed with Glittering Goodness!

What’s on Your Christmas List?

Are you feeling it? That longing for simplicity and joy in the midst of running around like mad trying to keep up with the season? What is on your wish list? I have a feeling it’s not something from a department store. Most everyone is feeling the pressure of producing lovely Christmas memories on an increasingly smaller budget, while of course the dollars we get hold less and less value. Time to take a deep breath and think about all the things that make you smile at Christmas time.  Here are some of my favorites. (Cliche warning!  If you venture beyond this paragraph don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Enjoying the views of Wisconsin winter from our house on the hill.

Off to the woods to cut down our tree.  Okay, the woods aren’t ours.  They belong to the Christmas tree farms.  We’re lucky to have so many beautiful places here in Wisconsin.  This year we got ours extra early so no snow . . .

Our tree filled with memories of a lifetime.

Christmas carols.  We all have our favorites.  Here are some of mine:

That Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
December Child by Cyndi Lauper
A Baby Just Like You by John Denver
Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Music Box Blues by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (anything by these amazing people!)
Bluegrass, White Snow by Patty Loveless
Santa Train by Patty Loveless
Suzy Snowflake by Rosemary Clooney
Frosty the Snowman by Fiona Apple
Face of Love by Jewel
Here was a Man by Johnny Cash
Cool Yule by Louis Armstrong
Winter Song by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
Winter Light by Linda Rondstadt
Mary Had a Little Lamb by Garth Brooks
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Patty Loveless
Go, Tell It On the Mountain by BarlowGirl
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd
What Child is This by Tanya Tucker
While Roving on a Winter’s Night by Darol Anger
 

Making cookies with the kids.  It’s always a mess and there’s usually yelling at some point.  This is actually an old Easter picture but you’ll get the idea of the craziness.  Don’t worry.  No human mouths touched his finished cookies.

Christmas cards, a dying tradition I just can’t let go.  I save all of my favorite cards and dream over them during the season.  What a sap I know.  But don’t knock it.  It’s a great way to relax and simply enjoy beauty–no standing around in an expensive art museum, plus you can drink hot cocoa if you promise not to spill.

Handmade gifts.  When we were young newlyweds, we made most of our presents for family members.  Nowadays I try to at least make ornaments for all of our kids and grandkids each Christmas.  Here is one I made in 2008 using an old greeting card and painted cardboard.

Finding gifts in unexpected places.  My daughters and I love to spend the entire year keeping our eyes open for presents at rummage sales, Goodwill, St. Vinny’s  and small thrift shops.  No amount of mall shopping could have unearthed this little treasure.  Does anybody know more about these beautiful containers?  I’m picturing a little granny with her crochet hook . . . The cards all have a similar look.  I’d love to know who the artist is.

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Attempts to get all the grandkids in front of the tree and smiling at the same time.  We came close in 2006!

Remembering the excitement of getting ready for Christmas when my girls were little.   I can still smell their little shampooed heads.  My doll babies.

Wishing all the hurt away.  Let us remember the beauty of Christmas can be a source of great pain for many people.  But don’t stop celebrating because we have sadness and worry.  Just add a little compassion and gentleness to your gift list.  It’s the ultimate gift you can afford to give everybody, even yourself.  It’s free and personal.  It’s the original Christmas gift, recycled for over 2000 years.

The Water’s Fine

Three months of blogging today.  I have bravely waded in the online waters.  My feet are wet and I’ve even stomped through a few mud puddles.  To date I have not drowned or gotten stuck in the mud . . .

So what do I know so far?

Blogging is about giving to others.  On the surface, writing a blog may seem self-centered, but the best bloggers are all about sharing (granted it might be as simple as showing off your awesome taste in clothes or spouting your bad hair day).

It is hard work.  Clicking away at the keyboard every thought that speeds through my head is easy.  Clipping away at the 85% that the world doesn’t care to hear about is a different story.  Trust me.  There is a very fine line not to be walked by the insensitive.  Only the truly talented can cross the line and get away with it.  There is also of course the technical part of editing, which is an impressive yet extremely undervalued skill in my opinion.  I am brazen.  I break grammar rules all the time.  There is nothing any expert can say to make me afraid of a comma.  This is what happens when you spend a lifetime mastering a skill.  You become the master.

Writing a blog is more about reading than writing.  As any good writer knows, the same is true for writing itself.  You must be a voracious reader and soaker-upper to be an effective writer.  Soaked would describe my life these last few weeks.  Most nights I spend hours on my blog.  If not writing I am checking out sites and reading blogs about writing, blogging and just-about-everything.  There are so many amazing bloggers out here!  The subjects are as endless as people’s personalities.  I highly recommend doing a little blog surfing once in a while, especially if you’re feeling a little jaded.  It will renew your faith in the human spirit.

There is a LOT of competition.  This is very helpful to remember when my daily reader count falls below 10 views.

A little progress is exhilarating!  You cannot imagine the feeling of knowing that I have somehow reached those 10 people.

Blogging is about bravery.  It’s scary to put myself out here. Period.  You might be thinking, how hard can it be to talk about painting cardboard?  Well, try it some time.  And it’s especially scary when I ponder all the things I really want to talk about eventually.  Messy things like God (yeah God I think you’re a huge, perfect mess), politics (aka taking part in the leadership and well-being of our world), the mysteries of our universe (like how math is the language God gave us to figure it all out, and I mean ALL out–messy but infinitely clever), and of course all the chaotic people issues . . .

What I’m not so sure about?

Focus.  As many of us do these days, I have serious ADD issues.  One day I will die of explosion (not a bad way to go).  I want my every second to explode with creation and love of life.  If there was a drug that would keep me awake and productive 20 hours a day I would buy it.  Oops.  There are drugs for that.  They are illegal and very bad for you.  Horrible idea . . .

Structure.  It’s really hard to structure what you can’t focus on.  But wait.  If I structure first would it help me focus?  Should I keep my one kitchen-sink blog or branch off into nine sharply-focused blogs?  Should I keep it light and fluffy or dig for the uncomfortable?  Should I write my blog entirely in poetic form?  Today I bought new jeans / a size up / Ugh / Tonight I’ll eat no beans.  Should I add annoying music?  Should I buy a better camera in the interest of looking more professional?  (Yes it’s on my list).  Should I add the link of lovely-appearing charities?  (I don’t have time to research every single fact about any of them.)  I really need to work on reader interaction.  Will I sometimes hurt the feelings of someone I love when I write exactly how I feel about an important issue?  (Most likely yes which makes me sad.)  Should I change my blog template so I can use fonts I really like?  Should I tell everybody what I’m making for supper?  Do my friends and family think I’m a spy, just waiting to exploit their every move?  Should I blast to the world my anger at yet another newly purchased glue stick that doesn’t work?  How will I find time to create my new art project?  How will I find a foot of space for it on my art room table?  Will people think I’m a lunatic if they see my messy art room? Should I add the polling feature to my blog?  (With readership patience at about 3 seconds, a technical mishap could be fatal.)  Hmm.  That line of sensitivity.  Maybe I should cross it once in a while?  Or move the line?  Wait!  I am all-powerful out here. Maybe I should just go ahead and define it.  Maybe I could learn to actually draw a straight line (daughters laughing).  Should I Twitter?  Maybe I should just go to bed because I’m being self-absorbed.  Maybe the world doesn’t want to hear from me?  Surely other bloggers have these feelings.  Hey.  I could write a blog about that.

So . . . even if you come across an eh . . . blog, please at least appreciate that most of us are cutting out our hearts and brains and eyeballs behind the scenes.

What I love?

As a blogger I am a real live published writer.  I’d like to think if my parents were still living they’d be emailing and stumbling around in Facebook, embarrassing me with their blatant bragging.  I am also an  art director, a counselor, literary agent, editor, photographer, teacher, community link, brand manager, product manager, business manager, copy writer, retailer, Web specialist (hubby laughing), entertainment commentator, reality star, granny-to-all and public relations specialist.  I am in the driver’s seat of my own organization.  Every decision is made by me alone, which also means I can take me down fast (lots of responsibility which I also love).

I love that (usually) at least 10 people are counting on me each day.  I try to put myself in your place every time I write a post or add a new link.  I try to think about the things we all think about.  The things that connect us.  I want to share all the goodness in my life; my much-tested, almost-50-year-old wisdom, thoughts and passions (yes our passions are tested); and my nice collections of information.  But most of all, I want to create a little place where you can relax, get a few ideas for supper or something fun to do, enjoy pictures and poetry and maybe a laugh; and sometimes even think hard on tough issues.  But always leave with the sound of your warm heart beating in sync with this beautiful project we call life.

What’s the next brave thing I do?

Ask for your feedback.  Yikes I’m jumping off the high dive . . . What do you think?

Feeling Giggly? Try Cardboard Therapy Fit for a Gaggle of Princesses

My daughter was so inspired by our fun cardboard witches, she expanded on the idea for my grand-daughter’s birthday party. (See my September 7 post: “Feeling Witchy?”) The children made cardboard princesses. It was an enchanted affair. Check out her pretty decorating:

For the cardboard creations, it didn’t take much to transform the witches into sparkly princesses. She used the same cardboard but painted them in time-tested little girl colors and sprinkled them with glitter. She did this beforehand to prevent staining up any of the royal gowns.

I love how she used the cardboard for part of the centerpiece.

She displayed assorted paper shapes, flowers, gems, yarn/ribbon and faces ready for little princess hands to work their magic.

She made these lovely faces using our balloon punch. Who’d have thought a balloon face could be so pretty?

And, ala! Each little girl made a new princess friend to take home:

And a little time for princess cake . . .

And painted on princess crowns and bracelets. Tul-le-lu-jah go Beans girl! I love the fairy tale of you.

And they all lived happily ever after . . . Let life be sweet for every five year old . . .

Feeling Witchy? Cardboard Therapy is the Place to Make New Friends

 

Did you have a nice Labor Day weekend?  Here at our house we didn’t do much other than hang out together, which is the best ever.  I had taken off work Thursday and Friday in order to  . . . ahem . . .  clean up my flower beds and get a little serious housecleaning done.  Well, other than attacking a jungle of six foot weeds in the front yard (special thanks to Boy, my newly hired garden man) and cleaning out my art room, I didn’t get much work done.  I could write a list of all the things I didn’t get done, but you don’t want to see it.  I’m sure you have one of your very own.

But my play list!  I accomplished so much!  On top of my list was holding and feeding my newest grand-daughter, shown here with her mom.

And enjoying my five other grandkids.  Didn’t get any pictures of them (I think I was too busy holding the baby–oops sorry kids!)  Beans, my other grand-daughter, managed to snap some of her own pictures though.  It’s always interesting to see the world through the eyes of an almost five year old.

 

We went shopping at Michael’s, our favorite craft store, where I stocked up on my favorite acrylic paint:  Folk Art Metallic Sequin Black.

Which brings me to the title of my post.  To top it all off, tonight I went to Cardboard Therapy.  I really didn’t have a clue what I was going to make.  I just starting painting and playing.  Cardboard is so amazing and so free!  When you paint it, it gets all wrinkly and beautiful.  Love.  It.

And how cool is it when you accidentally spill something like, let’s say, orange glitter, and it couldn’t look more perfect if you had planned it?

Well, before I knew it, I had a brand new friend.  I won’t go into the details of how I made her.  I stayed up way too late already, plus I’m going to make more of them for an upcoming village festival, so I’ll sound very official and say it’s a trade secret for the moment.

One hint though, I used painted cardboard.

Okay, you knew that already, so here’s one more hint:  One of the most fun gifts you could ever give somebody (kids, teens, college students, little old ladies, etc.) is a little box of cardboard pieces along with a few bottles of acrylic paint and a paintbrush.  You could easily give this unforgettable gift for less than $10. For this project, I obviously used a few more items than cardboard and paint, but trust my grandkids–you can have loads of fun with just the paint and cardboard alone.  Try.  It.

The School of Life: You’ll need glue.

Of this our true individual life, our present life is a glimpse, a fragment, a hint, and in its best moments a visible beginning.  — Josiah Royce (1855-1916), American philosopher

We visited a friend the other day.  She has Alzheimer’s.  I am ashamed that it took me many months to gather the courage to go.  Very lame.  But I finally went.  It certainly helped to go with other family members.  Now I know that it doesn’t matter how scared I am.  It just matters that she feels loved and cared for.

On our way home, we all wondered, does someone with Alzheimer’s really not recognize people?  Do they really not know what they want to say?  Or do they know, deep inside, who you are and what they want to say, but simply cannot express themselves outwardly?  At first, everything she said seemed bizarre.  She stared away and showed no emotion.  But as we sat and listened for a while, some of her still very fragmented statements started sounding familiar.  It seemed like she was trying to tell us certain things but could not organize the words.  It was if she were trapped in her own body, desperately trying to catch and toss to us the pieces flying about inside her heart and mind.  A terrifying thought.  It would be much easier to believe that she’s simply living in a happy fantasy land.

It seems like we are all slightly trapped at times.  We have the input spinning around with our thoughts and emotions but sometimes find it difficult to express ourselves effectively. Or perhaps worse, we believe we are communicating clearly but those around us are wondering . . . Each of us is limited by our language, opinions, emotions and our bodies.  Even with Google, how could any one of us understand everything?  How amazing that we very often actually manage to say or do exactly as we intend.  And when our words fumble or hurt, well, that’s when real friends love us anyway.

After visiting my friend I knew the perfect art project for this post.  I save foil candy wrappers.  Holidays are the best time to get different colors–I keep a special “wrapper basket” next to my candy dish.  These tiny bits of color flying around (at my house they literally fly around), so often discarded, can be made into shiny paper mosaics.  You can make paper ornaments, greeting cards, banners, fridge magnets, etc.

I made a couple of greeting cards.  Please keep in mind I’m not nearly as talented as most kids!

Directions:
Coat your paper with glue and quickly press torn bits of wrappers onto the paper to make your picture.  Then, if desired–while the glue is still sticky–sprinkle with glitter or sand.  You could also do on cardboard, wood or whatever.
 
If you’d prefer to go a little slower, you could glue your wrappers on the paper, then coat the glue around the wrappers for the glitter.  I’m lazy so I do it the faster way.
 
For greeting cards, try using sandwich-size zipper plastic bags for your envelopes.  It’s a little kooky and will be much easier for the receiver to open the card without tearing the paper or causing too much glitter to fall off.
 
I added stickers, and on the first card below I added a little bit of leftover Christmas garland.
 

 

Thank you friend for a perfect lesson in listening, patience and friendship.  I will visit you again soon.

I’ll catch your fragments.
I will paste them into my
own fine mosaic.

         — poetgranny

Whadup?

That’s how Boy, my freshly turned twelve-year-old grandson, greeted me the other day.  Or to be more exact, he said “Whadup?” and then smiled a great big little boy grin.  Who could resist?  He still got a sloppy kiss from his granny, although I sternly reminded him I’d rip his hair out if he thinks for one second any kind of gang stuff is cool.  And then I started wondering, just exactly what does “Whadup?” mean?  It seemed obvious, and he’s a wonderful, affectionate kid with lots of equally sweet friends.  Life is good.  But it pains me to know he’s at that age when things could get perilous in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the terrible worries of parents and grandparents, especially with the new school year already underway in many parts of the country.  Violence is too real.  The healing must start.  Now.  Let’s keep hugging and kissing our overgrown adolescents even when they shrug us off due to their coolness, or whatever it is they call it these days.  It’s all about them, for they will be the healers.

So, I’m going to share a link with you and you’ll probably think I’m a massive idiot after my little speech on healing our society.  I thought long and hard about whether or not I should.  It is full of extremely nasty, disgusting and offensive language:

http://www.urbandictionary.com

I have several reasons for sharing tonight (but not listing as a regular link):

  • I don’t believe you can be truly educated on anything unless you are brave enough to read everything.
  • I believe in free speech.
  • It’s very hard to relate to the younger generation if we’re clueless about their lingo or humor.  Humor, however twisted, always hints at the real gist of an issue.
  • I am a G-rated person, but I am not perfect.  (I did say in the tagline of my blog title that this is a messy place.)
  • You’ll even find a little G-rated funny.  For instance, I learned that I have been guilty of Muffin Topping.  (Yikes.  I’m telling this to the world?)

And “Whadup?” just means “What’s up?”  Whew Boy.

Make Room for Your Convictions

Words are the voice of the heart.  — Confucius (551-479 BC), Chinese teacher, philosopher & political theorist

Do certain words just rub you the wrong way?  I certainly I have my little list.  I cannot stand to hear one more person on HGTV say  “I just love what you did with this space”.  Since when did a room become a space?  (I suspect since interior decorating shows hit the big time.)  Are we too regal for a few cozy walls?  Is room a bad word?  Too plain?  Too corny?  Hey, I like plain and corny.  It’s solid and vivid. Space is just . . . space.

Here’s another on my list: window treatments.  I’ll try to be clever here with an illustration of my point.  I hope the spirit of Charles Bukowski understands that I’m not mocking him or his poem:

 Curtain Window Treatment
the final curtain window treatment on one of the longest running
musicals ever, some people claim to have
seen it over one hundred times.
I saw it on the tv news, that final curtain window treatment:
flowers, cheers, tears, a thunderous
accolade.
I have not seen this particular musical
but I know if I had that I wouldn’t have
been able to bear it, it would have
sickened me.
trust me on this, the world and its
peoples and its artful entertainment has
done very little for me, only to me.
still, let them enjoy one another, it will
keep them from my door
and for this, my own thunderous
accolade. 
 
—Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), American poet, novelist & short story writer

 

And it’s not just words.  Have you noticed a common, spacey tone of speech in the last few years?  Taylor Mali has:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmLE2bliXCI&feature=player_embedded

Speaking with conviction isn’t just about making speeches on important issues.  It’s about being yourself and speaking from your heart.  You can be strong yet respectful.  Colorful yet simple.  Use your own words.  Your own voice.  Your own tones.  The world wants to hear from you, not another space cadet.

Painful, sweet life.

Every heart has its secret sorrows which the world knows not, and often times we call a person cold when he is only sad.  — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), American poet & educator

There is so much sadness in the world.  Let’s all be gentle with each other.  Let’s not assume others are inconsiderate or selfish or lazy.  Assume they need a little TLC.  I’ve never met anyone at the grocery store with a sign that says I lost my baby son today.  One single act of  kindness could save somebody from going over the edge.

Don’t let people fall within your reach.  Maybe in your patient smile they’ll find a place to grab onto life again.  How many falling stars did you catch today?

Get Fried with a Friend

Fried Green Tomatoes.  Either you love them, hate them or really don’t care (and your response probably has a lot do with you being a southerner, at least at heart).  But you absolutely must love the movie!  My daughter Tara and I watched it once again on Sunday.  It’s the perfect movie for a lazy summer afternoon.  It’s about non-perfect people and friendship.  Who can’t relate to that?  Okay, if you think you don’t have one friend in this world, I promise you that is not true.  The world is full of people just waiting to be your friend.  Maybe you’re shy.  Well then take a class or volunteer, or start a blog for shy people.  Maybe you’ve hurt people.  Well then stop hurting people and ask for forgiveness (it’s never too late).  Maybe you’ve been hurt.  Well then cry, let go and move on.

Or.  Maybe you’ve just been cranky and depressed.  Well then remember Tawanda!  (And just maybe you need to get you some hormones?)  You don’t need to smash into any cars or knock down your bedroom walls.  Just smash into life and knock down your I’m-scared walls.

If you’ve never had fried green tomatoes, here is Tara’s yummy recipe.  She is like her mother and often struggles with being specific on quantities and measurements.  Don’t ever be afraid to eye-ball it.  Just be careful not to let it get out of hand like Idgie and Ruth did.  

 Tara’s Fried Green Tomatoes
green tomatoes (unripe red tomatoes)
flour (Tara recommends Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour)
milk (can add egg if you like)
salt & pepper (optional)
vegetable oil (we like canola oil best)
1 to 20 friends, depending on the size of your living room
1 Fried Green Tomatoes movie
a few paper towels (to drain tomatoes after frying)
1 box of Kleenex (to drain tears after crying)
 
Slice tomatoes to whatever thickness you like.  Dip each slice into a bowl of flour, then milk, then flour again.  Heat approximately 1/2 inch of oil in skillet and fry tomatoes, turning once when nice and golden.  Drain on paper towels.
Note:  When frying anything, do not crowd the skillet.  You’ll get much better results by making just a few at a time.

 

and here’s my recipe:

Recipe for a Lazy Gardner

I went to my garden today, looking for my supper.
It had been a hard season and I have been neglectful
so I didn’t even bring a basket.
Besides, weeds and mosquitoes would be waiting–
stealing the show, my energy and my time.
 
I found a few surprises, as we often do
in life and in gardens.
My tomatoes, even forgotten, grew.
Beefsteaks–big-shouldered and sweet.
Lovely heirlooms–classy and dependable.
And Roma’s, those saucy little mamas!
 
I smiled, until I saw the busted ones.
No excuses.  Only regrets.  Move on
to what I was really looking for.
The sassy young ones
without spots or bruises,
still smug with secrets of life.
 
Long ago, somebody was brave
or hungry or crazy enough
to throw them in a skillet
and call those tarties’ bluffs!
 
I went back for my basket,
thinking of oozy goodness
all melty under a salty crust
you can only get from frying
after milk and seasoned dust.
 
I’ll get better at tending my garden.
I’ll consider it a social routine,
because tomatoes grow like friendships,
and some kinds just best fried green.
 
–poetgranny
 

 

Thriftie Gifties – dedicated to Mom.

Out of clutter find SIMPLICITY.
From discord find HARMONY.
In the middle of difficulty lies OPPORTUNITY.
     — Albert Einstein (1879-1955), US (German-born) physicist
 

I don’t want to scare you away by saying the word “crafts”.  I am really not a crafty person at all.  Not artistic either.  I am actually quite sloppy and in many ways even impatient.  This is exactly why I love organizing, cleaning and poetry.  I can find simplicity in the midst of chaos.   And the coolest thing about it is that in the process of finding simplicity, I am being creative.  I am creating simplicity.  A basic statement, but really think about it.  Creating simplicity!

What does all of this have to do with my Thriftie Gifties title and my mom?  When I was in grade school, I was invited to quite the shin-dig of a birthday party, at least it was in those olden times.  (I am almost 50 in case you’re wondering.)  The entire class was invited and they even had a clown for entertainment.  My very busy mom of eight (last baby brother not yet born) somehow managed to buy a lovely, modest gift for my birthday friend.  I don’t remember a thing about the gift, but what my mom did with it stuck with me forever.  We had no wrapping paper in the house.  I was mortified.  My mom went to the messy stack of newspapers in the corner of the living room and pulled out the funnies.  By then I was in tears.  She assured me it was a very neat idea.  I did not believe her.  I hated her.  Of course I had no choice but to nervously march into the party with my ridiculous funnies-wrapped package.  What did all the kids say?  I don’t even remember (because they probably didn’t even notice).  I do remember being mad at my mom for a long time.  Yet . . . deep down . . . just a little . . . I was proud that my mom was so darn smart!

Well of course she was smart.  Wouldn’t our parents and grandparents be rolling their eyes at how nowadays we “re-purpose” our old bath towels, etc. and then write glamorous blogs about it?  I’m sure many people have used nothing but newspaper for wrapping paper all their lives.  Simple ingenuity has always just been about playful common sense.  It’s there for everybody.  A game we can all play.

So in memory of my mom and all of our smart elders, I’m sharing some fun gift bags you can make for absolutely free.  A reminder that I am a bit sloppy and impatient.  I am happy getting the idea but not so much making it look perfect.   If my amazing, artistic daughters would have been in charge of this project we’d have Martha Stewart squirming.  Tonight you’re stuck with just me.  But that’s okay.  I’ve shared the simple idea and hopefully thrown in a few harmonic thoughts.  Just do your own thing.  Decorate with magazine cut-outs or search the junk drawer for string and doo-dads.  Whatever.  It’s now your opportunity . . .

Save, wash and dry all kinds of paper/foil/plastic bags.  (This drives my hubby crazy!)  You’ll need to turn them inside out, unless you want to be super funky and leave as is.

For bows and ribbons, you can use almost anything.  I am fond of cutting (or just tearing as I did here) pieces from the ends of bags.  May not be very strong though so be careful when tying.  The best thing ever is large dog food bags.  The material is super sturdy and looks cool too.

For bows, just scrunch the material, then tie with whatever.

Use the fun dog picture or turn it over for silver.

Stryofoam sheets from shipped products is fun stuff to.  I made a bow but it ended up looking a little strange.

Oops I think it’s a headless angel (an idea for future post?)

Purple bow helped a little (or is it now a headless angel with a purple bow?)

Okay hopefully by now you get the idea!

Bits and pieces of fascinating possibilities.

Love Life. Or What?

Every child begins the world again. –Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), US author, naturalist, historian & philosopher (I really like him!)

I just added a new link to my site.  It’s for National Right to Life.  I think now is a good time to tell my readers (who I suspect so far consist of my sisters and daughters and maybe my curious hubby–all who know this already):  I love life and I love life for all people, especially for beautiful little babies.   I’ve never known one who wasn’t a perfect little human.  Sadly, many unborn have very poor prospects of a happy, healthy life if their mothers choose not to kill them.  Yet we all know many adults who’ve had the best of everything: attention, money, education, etc. but who still have very sad prospects of ever finding that health and happiness.  At what point do we decide who is worthy of living?  I had my oldest daughter three days after I turned 17.  I did not for one instant consider killing her.  Now there were a few times–probably when she was around the ages of 13, 15, 17–that I figured if I could’ve justified it so many years ago why couldn’t I justify it now?  Just take her down to Planned Parenthood and explain that she’s ruining my life.  Easy solution.  They can suck her brains out and throw her in the garbage can.  I wouldn’t even have to deal with the messy body.  Anyway, all the worry and fuss over a hormone induced teenager was surely enough to affect my health and well-being.  We certainly didn’t have much money, and I was trying to go to school when my kids were teenagers, plus a full-time job and a terminally ill mother.  What the heck.  Why not just throw in her two sisters as well?  I could always have more children when my life was more stable.

Okay I’m being dramatic.

Please consider this: How can we save our broken society with love and peace if we say it’s ok to mass murder babies?  How do generations of young adults and children now live with the knowledge that they exist purely because they made the don’t-murder list?  To me it seems they might have deep fears, not only about our ability to take care of humankind but of society changing its mind about their life-worthiness.  To me it seems a warped paradigm for their journeys of life.  Try asking one of them about it.

Baby (21 weeks) holding doctor's hand during a procedure in the womb to correct spina bifida.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. -Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), American poet, novelist & short story writer

I can do this.  I can write a blog.  I am smart.  Thank you Sylvia.  I just wish you would have taken your own advice and used it about life itself.  It makes me sad to think of all you have given the world yet cheated your own children. The worst enemy to life is self-centered pain.  Each of us must use our pain for others.  Learning to heal is the whole point of living.  And by the way, it takes guts to live (although you can improvise).  Sylvia, I’m sorry I just can’t get over the selfishness.

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