29 September 2010
If you have never had real, homemade, honest to goodness, sweet and spicy apple butter, it's about time you get off your backside and make some. It is soooooo easy, and soooooo good. You can can it easily, or you can freeze it, so there's really no excuse to not give it a go. Besides, what could be more fun than a trip to your local Farmer's Market or apple orchard and then make some of this spicy goodness.
I make mine in very small batches, about three 8 ounce jars, at a time. But you can double this recipe if you want a bigger batch (and remember, my recipes are not written in stone, you should play with them and make them suit you). Here's what you need to make about 3 half pints...
A couple (2) of pounds of apples, really good, firm, tart ones. I love using Macintosh or Granny Smith.
Spices... cinnamon, ground cloves, all spice, nutmeg and ground ginger.
Glass jelly jars, or plastic containers to freeze it in. If you are using jars, you need the bands and the lids for them.
Tongs, you need them to lift the hot glass jars when sterilizing them, paper towels, I use a cookie rack to set the filled jars on so air can circulate all around the jar after the canning. I also use a fork to handle the lids (you really don't want to use your fingers if you can help it, especially not where the rubber seal is). You may also want to use a jar funnel, I don't but lots of folks feel more comfortable using it, and a ladle to put the sweet and spicy apple goodness into the jars.
Two large, dutch type pans, and one small sauce pan, a cookie sheet and a kitchen towel.
If you are going to can the apple butter, start to prepare your jars. You need at least 3 half pint jars, and just in case, I always prepare 4. Wash them thoroughly, along with the bands (bands, not the flat lids) and put them in a pan of water that covers them by at least an inch. Bring this pan to a boil, and let the jars boil happily in it for about 10 minutes (longer will not hurt). While they are sterilizing turn your oven on to about 250 degrees and put the kitchen towel on the cookie sheet. When the jars have boiled at least 10 minutes, use the tongs to pick the jars up out of the water and sit them upright on the towel covered cookie sheet. Put them in the oven with the door slightly ajar until you are ready to fill them.
I peel and core my apples, but if you prefer, you can leave the skin on. Cut them into chunks that are relatively the same sort of size, and put them into a large dutch oven type of pan. Add a couple of cups of water ( 2 or 3, you can add more if you need to) and bring to a boil. You want to cook these apples until they are soft and the majority of the fluid is gone. If you have left the skins on you may want to put them through a ricer to remove them, or, if you have cooked them with the skins off, like I do, and like your apple butter like I like my apple butter... a bit on the chunkier side, smoosh them with a good old fashioned potato masher. Do smoosh them pretty good though, while chunkier is good, great big old chunks aren't.
At this point, measure how much apple moosh you have. You need 1/2 cup of white sugar for every cup of apples. Remember, it sounds like a lot, but your sugar is as much a preservative as it is a part of the flavor of your apple butter, so it's important not to skimp on this too much. Put your apples back into your pot, along with the sugar and the spices you want. I use about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon (love the stuff, what can I say?), 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, and you know I love my ginger, so 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger, and I use a fresh grating or two of nutmeg. Consider it about 1/4 of a teaspoon if you are using powered. Stir well, put a lid on, and let this cook over a relatively low temp for about 10 minutes. It should thicken up and smell wonderful. (Before I put it in the jars, I always take a spoonful out and taste it to make sure I have the spices the way I want them.)
While the apple mixture is cooking, make sure the pan you used to sterilize the jars in has enough water to cover those jars by at least an inch, and turn the heat up to bring the water to the verge of a boil. You also need to put the flats into the sauce pan with about a half an inch of water and heat them, not to boiling, just near simmer.
When you are satisfied with the flavor of your apple butter, using the the tongs, remove one jar from the oven, fill it to within half an inch of the top. Make certain that there is NO jam on the rim of the jar, use a paper towel to wipe any that may be there away, and then go over it with a damp paper towel to make sure all is removed. Use a fork to lift one of the flat lids and place it on the jar of apple butter, then screw on one of the rings. Tight, but not tightened until it cannot move.
Use the tongs and VERY CAREFULLY put the filled jar into the hot pan of water. Do the same with the rest of the apple butter. When all of your jars are filled and in the hot water (make sure it is covering the jars by at least an inch), bring it to a boil and boil for at least 15 minutes. Set the cookie rack on your counter while they are boiling.
When they have finished boiling use the tongs to remove them (CAREFULLY again), and sit them on the cookie rack. In no time you will hear "pop"... that is the sound of the seal forming between the jar and the lid. When you hear that, and the little hump in the middle of the lid is flat, you know your seal is good, and the apple butter is canned safely. If all of the jars don't seal (I've never had one not seal), you can reboil it. If it doesn't seal then, put the jar in the fridge and use within about 3 weeks.
If you are going to freeze the apple butter rather than can it, fill the freezer containers, leaving that half inch of head space, and put in the freezer until you are ready to use. Thaw it in the fridge when you are ready to use it.
I'm tellin' y'all... this is the richness of autumn in a jar. There's pumpkin butter on that cookie rack too... and I have peaches just waiting to be turned into jam... and you know what this means... I'm going to have to be baking lots of biscuits...
28 September 2010
The young man who is running the ball down the field to gain a 51 yard touch down is no different than most young men who play football on a high school team... other than the fact that he has Down's Syndrome. Ike Ditzenberger scored the touchdown... the only points scored for Snohomish High School (in Washington) against their opponents Lake Stevens.
My congratulations go out to Mr. Ditzenberger for such an amazing play... and my heartfelt gratitude goes out to the coaches, teams, parents, supporters, and players who make dreams like that come true.
27 September 2010
Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2010-09-27 09:28:46 UTC
Normally, I'd think it were fishy, considering the response is someone I consider a family member... but, you know, I didn't put any stipulation into the context of the give away, and since it is just too early in the morning to keep trying for another number... I'm sending a phone case off to my Bonus One... who can use it for whatever she wants, or hand it off to someone else... (besides, it gives me a great reason to put together a "care package" for those grumpys that the cold, windy, blustery days are blowing in up north)... I'm going to work on a few extra goodies to add, so y'all expect it soon.
26 September 2010
It's phone contract renewal time here, and, as always, the Little One just HAD to have a specific phone... you know, their world ends if they don't have just the "right one". Last time it was "the shine", this time it is the HTC Aria. Admittedly, it is a great little phone. And, while I was absolutely not impressed by the folks manning my local store, I was amazingly impressed with the folks online. We got a great deal, and the phone was delivered the very next day.
As she went out shopping for protective gear (carrying case) for it, she realized how darned expensive they are, so I suggested we just make one. Very simple to do, and really a pretty fast project. And, since we were doing it, I was going to have an added bonus for her. She carries a purse the size of Texas, and is forever digging in it to find the things she needs, so this little case would have the bonus of having a clip that she could use to clip the case to a zipper inside, so she wouldn't have to dig as much.
Since I was making one, or two... or maybe a dozen, I thought I'd share with you how it's done.
Here's what I used... fabric of your choice (you can get about 4 out of a quarter yard), quilt batting, a large split ring (like for a key chain, I used 1" ones), and a spring clip (like the clip at the end of a dog leash, you can find them at your local craft store, or much cheaper at your local hardware store), and velcro to use as a closure.
You will also need a ruler, paper and pen or marker to make your pattern. While I am making these as a phone case, remember, they could be anything... I made one for my camera too.
First step, taking the measurements to draw the pattern. This phone is 2 1/4" wide, by 4" tall, and 1/2" thick.
For the outside, I need a flap and a body, I used coordinating fabric, but you can use the same if you prefer. I want my flap to be almost as long as the body of my case, so I decide on 3 1/2". To that I add the thickness of the phone, or 1/2", and I add 1" for seam allowance (that gives me plenty to work with all around and know I will have plenty of room).
So... Flap= length (that you want it) + thickness + 1" seam allowance
The body needs to be enough to wrap around the phone to make a "pocket" more or less... so... Body= (length of phone x 2) + (thickness of phone) + 1" seam allowance
The inside is almost directly the opposite...
The lining back is the length from tip of the flap to the bottom of the "pocket"... Lining back = length of flap + thickness + length of phone + 1" seam allowance.
The short part of the lining= length of phone + thickness + 1" seam allowance.
Draw both out on paper, and wrap the pattern around the phone to make sure you have plenty of length and width to work with, and make any changes you need during this phase. Once you are happy with your lengths, I curved the flap edges by folding the flap pattern in half and cutting the edges rounded.
Whew, I hate math... This is the hardest part of the project. I know it sounds complicated, but when you are drawing it, I promise it is much easier. If it were all that difficult, I wouldn't be doing it. Pin and cut your pieces from the fabric(s) you want to use. And cut a length of batting that fits your length and width. I cut one long piece, not one for the flap and one for the body. Also cut one piece that is 1 1/2" wide by 2" long, this is for your loop that will hold your spring clip.
Now that everything is cut out... let's start sewing...
First, sew and turn the short piece of fabric that will be the loop. Press it, and fold it in half with the spring ring in the middle of it.
Sandwich this between the body and the flap fabric, and sew across. Press the seam open.
Place the batting and the wrong side of the fabric together, and sew. Trim batting to fit the fabric, and press from the fabric side.
Pin the lining to the flap
Sew (from the batting side so you can tell where the flap is) the lining fabric to the flap fabric, ONLY around the flap, not beyond (like in the photo).
On the opposite end, attach the lining to the outer fabric in a straight line across the edge. Press this seam open.
You will now have fabric that is covered with batting, and two sections that are plain fabric.
Fold the fabric that is covered in batting so that it forms the pocket that the phone will fit into.
Sew a seam straight down (matching its width to the seam you stitched around the flap), then do the same with the other side.
Do the same with the fabric that has no batting. You should end up with a Y shape, with the end where you sewed the plain fabric together open. This is where you will turn.
Clip the edges and the curves, and then turn. I turn the flap first and bring it out of the opening, then turn the pocket part.
Once everything is turned, you should have the same Y shape, only all of the right sides of the fabric are now showing.
You can fold the lining (the part with no batting) back onto the pocket portion to see how short you need to hem it.
Trim the fabric to leave only 1/4" to 1/2", and fold to the inside.
Run a seam across it, and then tuck it down into the body (pocket) of the case.
Press it well... then close the flap and press it down well too. (And when you take a photo of it, don't let your camera strap get in the way...)
Position and add the velcro dot (mine was sticky backed and to make sure it REALLY stuck, I ironed it to meld the sticky stuff to the fabric)... and... ta-da-da-daaaaaa... You have a phone case... or a camera case... this one is large enough to fit an iPhone... Just add the clip through the split ring, and clip it to an inside zipper, then you can always find it in your bag... especially if you are like the Little One and carry a bag the size of Texas...
I'm working on getting this all into a PDF with diagrams and photos for y'all... I'll let you know when it is ready.
And... tomorrow morning, I'm going to be visiting random.org someone who leaves a comment on this post will be the new owner of this one... so if you haven't left me a comment about how you began your weekend... what are you waiting for?
25 September 2010
Just look at all this fabric. I'm working on a couple of different things I'm going to share with you... I even have a little tutorial in the works... in the mean time, I am sharing this week's ArtsyBlogger links... Y'all go visiting, and enjoy!
Beading Arts Have you seen what you can do with macrame? Don't think hemp, think colorful and modern!
Crafting When You're a Freelancer Tips for making time to craft when you're a freelancer writer.
Eileen - The Artful Crafter Remember the chewing gum twins, "Two, two, two sticks in one"? Well, Eileen set out to make a monoprint - which means one single print - and ended up with two!
24 September 2010
Is what relief looks like... (courtesy of my local news channel WKYT) Temps this afternoon hit the mid 90s, by tomorrow morning, they are predicting 59 degrees. Considering we are in a drought, and about 8" behind in rainfall this year... this is so welcome!
Tell me how your weekend has begun... there just may be something in it on Monday morning for one of you who comments...
And bonus points to anyone who can tell me what the heck this white thing is that is NOT meant to be a part of my post, but will NOT go away....
23 September 2010
22 September 2010
It's fall here, the days are HOT, very hot still in the 90s... but the nights dip 30 or more degrees into the very comfortable 60s. Sadly, we aren't likely to have a very colorful fall, it's been far too dry and far too hot this summer, but the season is lovely...
On the other hand... Sarah Lou (whose blog I have long followed), and Joan (whose blog I have just found, thank you for leaving a comment so I could!) are celebrating the coming of spring.
So often, we don't even realize that what is going on across town may well be different than what is going on where we are... it fascinates me that, as we all go about our lives on our beautiful planet, we can be be celebrating more than different days...(it's already tomorrow in some parts of the world, does that mean I am living in the past???), we are welcoming completely different seasons.
Truly fascinating how very different things can be, and yet, even more fascinating how very much alike...
I'm off to sleep, I hope... y'all have a wonderful day.
21 September 2010
20 September 2010
It's difficult sometimes to define ourselves, maybe because who we are is such an unfolding concept... the more we learn, the more we grow and change... and I am curious as to how others define themselves...
So... who are you... and what makes you who you are?
There are obviously no right or wrong answers to that question, and we aren't grading here... just a curiosity about what defines us as people... (from our own perspectives, not someone elses)
19 September 2010
My little town has been in the news of late...
CNNMoney.com just did a story on the best places in the US to retire... and it turns out, Lexington comes in third. Here's what they had to say:
% over 50: 29%
Median home price: $144,200
State income tax: 6%*
Where to take classes: University of Kentucky
Downtown Lexington boasts plenty of entertainment options for retirees, including the circa-1922 Kentucky Theatre -- which shows independent and classic films -- the Lexington Farmers Market, dozens of restaurants, and the Rupp Arena, home to the university's storied basketball program. Plus, for the equestrian minded, the city isn't far from Kentucky's famed horse country and is just 90 minutes from Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.
In addition to a deep-seated horse and bourbon tradition, the city also has strong roots in life-long learning. In 1964, before retirees became regular fixtures on college campuses, the University of Kentucky invited them to take up empty seats in classrooms. Today, the school continues the tradition, offering locals 65 and up free access to university classes that have open space.
While most fellows choose to audit courses, many have pursued degrees. A sister program for area residents 50 and over organizes about 100 classes a year on topics ranging from painting to U.S. history.
Very flattering, isn't it... although, I wonder how they came about their median housing cost... seems a bit low to me. (The links in the story were added by me.) The lovely photo that they used with the story is one of Calumet Farm... one of our most beautiful and most recognized horse farms.
I would also add, had I been writing the story, that we have a host of historic homes, including Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, the Mary Todd Lincoln House, the Hunt-Morgan House, Waveland, to name only a few of the many historic sites town, and that doesn't even touch the areas within a few miles. And, in October, we will be adding another theatre opening. The Lyric Theatre, is scheduled to open again on October 27th. It has been a long and hard fight battle to restore this African-American cultural icon.
We also have an abundance of natural beauty here and near... McConnell Springs and Red River Gorge stand out and we have a man made lake just an hour away. Cave Run was created by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The construction began in 1965, and it was filled in 1973. I grew up in the area, and still remember standing on a hill with my grandfather, looking over at a white farm house and its orchard near by. He was explaining to me that, soon, all of that farm land would be gone, covered by a lake. I'm not sure if he thought it was a good idea or not, but it was inevitable. Now, it is a gorgeous lake, really not well known except to the locals...
There's a downside though... the October issue of Men's Health Magazine ranks Lexington in 100th place in their sexual satisfaction survey (out of 100 cities), the article touts "America's hotbeds of sex" and apparently Lexington isn't one of them. I'd give you the link to their to their site, but try as I might, I cannot find it. (It was featured on one of our local news shows on Friday.) I know they used condom sales, birth rate, and sex toy purchases as some of their criteria in measuring sexual satisfaction... but I can't recall the rest of the criteria... On the other hand, over in Texas, they are having lots of sex... they have 7 cities in the top 15.
I guess you can't have everything...
18 September 2010
Anyway, after I finished up with that I spent time watching the sun come up while having my coffee on the back step. It may not erase ALL of the negative impact from that email so early this morning, but this spectacular sunrise sure does go a long way to.
I am going to go start my play day... Saturday is my day to do nothing but be creative, and that is what I am going to do. After I finish my coffee and watch this beautiful morning unfold. In the mean time, let me share with you the ArtsyBlogger links for this week, they'll inspire you too!
Eileen - The Artful Crafter
Many artists and crafters find it helpful to set goals for their art but do so in different ways. How about you? Do you have any goals or methods for improving in your art?
Wool roving for a necklace? Cyndi's tutorial is finished!
Cthulhu Fireworm Scarf - Free Crochet Pattern
A fast and easy crocheted scarf for the geek in your life.
Jack o Lantern Pumpkin Cheesecake Balls
A fun treat to make for those fall and Halloween parties.
17 September 2010
Annnnndddd... here's some exciting news! I hit a hundred followers yesterday! And this morning it soared to a whopping 101! Thank y'all each and every one, I am so, so, SO very appreciative! To celebrate, I am currently tracking each and every one of your blogs down and creating a separate page just to share your links with everyone! (Hopefully, the page will be up next week!) Now, to that end, as I go through and search down your blogs, if you have more than one, only one of them will be listed on the page. So, if you would prefer another of your blogs up, rather than the one I share the link to, please let me know so I can switch that out.
Again, thank you all for reading, thank you for following, thank you for the very kind comments, you really do just make my day!
(The puppy in the window was enjoying a beautiful day while watching all the strange folks walk by... could it get any better than that?)
16 September 2010
I know, for me, I visit a lot of long established blogs with lots of followers, and, frankly, am never really sure my comment would make a difference. I mean, if it's one of 100 or more comments, does it? Maybe, maybe not. OOooorrrrr... am I intimidated by all the comments and the popularity of the blog, and that's why I don't leave comments? That's an interesting question for me to ponder...
So, anyway, here's my challenge for this Thursday... as I go randomly blog hopping today, I am going to leave comments on all of the ones I visit, whether there are already a hundred of them, or if there are none... whether it is a well established blog or brand new and just starting out.
Sort of like mingling at a party.... just without as much face to face interaction.
So, that is my challenge to myself, to put on my party shoes and mingle. Y'all put on your party hats and join me... today while you are out blog hoping, say hi to the folks you visit and let me know if you find anything fun and interesting out there, I may want to go say hi myself!
15 September 2010
One of my best-est, BEST-est buddies emailed me a list of one liners that "make you smile"... and one of them inspired me to pop it into publisher and make it something special. So Larry... this is for you.
(I just wonder if the nut is you or Keith...??? doesn't matter, I love ya both!)
Sooo... how about you guys? Tell me about your great friends... or the nuts in your life (aren't they often one in the same?)... who inspire you...
14 September 2010
Me: "I'm taking a picture of a snake."
Her (After a few seconds of total, stunned silence in which I am pretty sure she thought I had lost it): "Momma, do you need us to come rescue you?"
Me: "Nope, I'm good."
Her: "Well, ok then, I'm impressed."
She was probably more than little shocked, she knows how I dislike these creatures.
Saturday evening when I was taking the dog out back, I happened to look to my left and thought... "Wow, the holly tree is going to have lots of berri"....when the brain engaged midway through a word and screamed to itself... "OMG what is that?"
I looked a bit closer and, sure 'nough, there was a snake making its way from the ground up a branch. "Huh", I thought, "that's a snake."
Then the rational little voice in my head goes, "You know, you're standing about two feet from a snake." To which I thought, "Yep, I am... and would ya look at me, I'm not screaming." So proud of myself I was. I even looked closer to see what kind of head it has. Roundish head, not flat and triangular... not poisonous then. So, trying to remain rational, I thought, "Ok, it's outside, and looks like it's not gonna rush me, I guess I can deal with this." As if I actually had a choice.
Dog comes loping back toward me, NEVER having noticed the snake, and into the house we go. Him happily snuggling into his chair for a nap as though all was right with the world.
Me, so very proud of myself that I hadn't freaked out. (Really, you have no idea how much of a huge feat that is for me.)
So, Sunday, when I took the dog out, I wasn't surprised to find the snake still there. It's been cold at night here you know, and the silly thing isn't in a position where it's really warming well when the sun is up, so I guess it really isn't moving all that much. However, the snake has moved up the branch a bit and has entangled himself amidst the branches. I guess a strategy that will prevent it from falling if it is too cold. It's amazing how well camouflaged it is there. If I hadn't seen the critter start the trek the day before I'd have no idea that it was even there.
When you give that some thought, it's really sort of scary...
Monday morning... while taking the dog out before going to work, of course I looked for the snake. By now some sort of strange connection had developed and I was curious to see if it was still there. It wasn't on the branch where it had been earlier. Two seconds later though, I noticed that it had moved up the branch just a bit. I got a much better photo of it this time. Looks huge doesn't it? At least until you consider the perspective... those holly berries are about a quarter of an inch.
It's curious, I'm really not a fan of snakes... despise the icky things really, but this one is more of a curiosity to me. Am I going to make friends with it? Absolutely not. But I'm pleased that I'm not in hysterics about it. And I think I can deal with it... as long as it comes no closer to the house than the tree. Shows a great deal of growth on my part I think. (OR... maybe the Little One and this guy are in cahoots... that "motion sensor" was just preparing me!)
Although, now that we've developed this "bond", I don't think I can go on referring to the snake as "it", so I think I'll have to name it. Perhaps something fluffy to somehow offset the cold and icky stereotype I have of these creatures. "Fi-fi" maybe?
You know, I was telling Connie about this adventure at work. Very calm and rational, showed her the pictures... She thinks that maybe I've had a some sort of a break down.
I guess that's a possibility too.
13 September 2010
Last week, while she was at her father's, I stepped into my Little One's room to grab the laundry, and my heart stopped... I could have sworn that I heard a snake hissing. Y'all have no idea how much I dislike snakes. They're just fine in their environment, I really just prefer them NOT to be in mine... I turned to see if I could search out the culprit (the dog had abandoned me by the way, at the first hint of trouble), and I saw this.
She had purchased herself one of these "automatic air fresheners".
Who came up with the idea that children should have their own spending money before they move out of your house?
Once my heart had calmed down and the adrenaline level had evened back out I realized her plan. This little device is so innocent looking, but really, it's an ingeniously designed device meant to get rid of me I think. And I think I've unwittingly helped facilitate her plan ...
This particular brand of automatic air freshener wasn't the one she had wanted to find, but it was what the store had on the shelf while she was there. It seems this one has a "motion sensor" on the side of it and the other doesn't. Now, keep in mind, this motion sensor has an off position too...
It happened that, when I was at the grocery, I found the type she had wanted, and it was very reasonably priced, so I thought... "gee, you know, it's not a bad idea to have in the house... I'll get this one and see if she wants to "trade". She did, so now the one she had purchased sits downstairs in the dining area. Where I am constantly walking through. After the second time it hissed at me with that damned motion sensor as I walked by, I turned it off. Now it just sprays every 36 minutes.
Or, that's what it is supposed to be doing...
When I came home from work on Friday, after she'd gone to her dad's... I walked through the dining area in the dark... I wasn't expecting it... that "hiiiissssss" right after I walked by. Someone had turned on the motion sensor...
I'm on to you girlie... and as soon as I get my heart calmed down again... we're gonna talk...
12 September 2010
So, I'm going to give this a shot instead, I'm going to write a post about transition.
Our lives are filled with so many transitions. We transition through our days, through the weeks, months and years, and sometimes those transitions are so subtle we don't even realize they are happening until we look back over our lives and wonder how in the world we got here. This has been a banner year for me as far as transitions go. My eldest has moved, my youngest has begun college and I am learning much about being alone. Even as I write this... day is moving into night, summer is moving into fall, and I realize, life is always in transition.
Myself, I am moving through the phases of my own life... I've gone from maiden to mother, and now, I stand on the cusp of the crone phase of my life. There once was a time when that meant something, being older and having lived through much of the experiences of life I would have been seen as a "wise woman". But so much of the sacred feminine knowledge has been lost in our society that now I'm just considered old.
We are a culture who worships youth, the firm flesh and bright eyes that incite the heady thrill of lust and desire are sought rather than the beauty of true intimacy. We have put so much emphasis on it that we have our faces surgically lifted and we inject ourselves with botulism... something that can kill you, just to paralyze the wrinkles in your face so they can't be seen. We add plastic pouches filled with saline to our breasts to make them large and firm, we spend billions of dollars on creams and potions that promise us the impossible. We strive to keep the illusion of youth so desperately that we have lost the understanding of what real beauty is... the depth and soul and heart of a woman who has lived. One who has experienced joy and sadness, birth and death, love and loss... the things that give you those wrinkles we try so hard to rid ourselves of. True beauty can finally arrive at this age I think. It comes when we accept who we are and finally appreciate our own strengths and weaknesses and love ourselves in spite of them both. Then you can appreciate the way your eyes crinkle when you smile rather than look at them and hate the wrinkles.
This transition into the first phases of menopause hasn't been a particularly difficult one for me physically. At least not yet. (Of course, I have only been late once since I turned 50, and that was just a week...so "officially" I am not "in" menopause yet, just facing it.) So far, I haven't dealt with all of the horrible things I read are possible. I'm not dealing with hot flashes or losing my hair. My boobs may not be where they once were, and I may be a tad more moody some days, and there are times I just am not as tolerant of idiots as I wish I were, and there are momentary visions of removing them from the face of the earth, but overall, it hasn't been awful so far.
What has surprised me is the sadness I have found. It has shocked me really. I realize that I will bear no more babies, and I find myself grieving that I won't know that feeling of my baby being born or suckling my breast ever again. I won't watch them sleep, breathing ever so softly, I won't hear the first giggles...I miss the children I wanted to have but didn't, and now can't.
There is a sudden awareness that more of my life is behind me than in front of me, and I'm sad that I didn't concentrate more on me and my needs along the way. I find myself grieving the loss of who I wanted to be. At the time I should have been making a career for myself I was home rearing children. I don't regret for a moment staying at home and being a mother to my children, what I do regret is that I didn't demand more from my then husband in regard to our relationship. I asked for time together to build our relationship, I begged for it, but when everything else for him was more important, I gave in. And, like a flower that isn't nurtured, the relationship wilted. It didn't really die, it just couldn't be revived. So here I am at this stage of my life, when I should have my life partner beside me to spend these years together... but I am alone. I don't know if that scares me or not.
I have also learned that having regrets is not worth the memories or the dreams you hang them on. My friends very often hear me say that life moves in only one direction, and that is forward. There is nothing in the past that I can change, and, frankly, even if I could, I wouldn't. I have walked my path to this point as well as I could, and I will continue to, because that is all I can do.
As I move into this phase of my life I have enough life experience and knowledge that I now know what is truly important, at least from my perspective... and while I know no one has asked me, I am going to pass some of what I have learned so far along...
Love, REAL love, not the imitation stuff, really is the only important thing in this world. Love unconditionally, otherwise it really isn't love... love deeply and passionately, feel things to your very soul. If it doesn't work out, that's ok, not all things are meant to be forever. Life is about transitions, remember? Grieve for a time, then let go. Keep the good, learn from the bad, and try not to make the same mistake over and over. And when you tell someone you love them, meant it. Don't just say it, feel it.
It is important not to be tolerant of others. That implies that you don't like them but deal with them anyway... It IS important to be accepting of others. That means you accept them, regardless of differences, for who they are and you acknowledge their worth in this world. It's a little tougher sometimes than being tolerant, but the results are worth the effort. For you if not for them.
Words matter. Not just what you say, but how you deliver it. THINK before you say things, think about how you would feel if you heard those words and temper your tone. Words can inflict wounds that are far deeper than any physical action, and those wounds are far more difficult to heal.
Before you get angry about something that someone has done, ask yourself... will it matter in a day? Will it matter in a week? Will it matter in a month? Will it matter in a year? If you can say no to ANY of those questions, it really doesn't matter now.
Do nameless good deeds. Don't do them for the pat on the back, do them just because they are worth doing. There is enough anger and hurt in this world, don't add to it... take away its power instead. Nameless good deeds are a great way to contribute in a positive way, and somehow, just knowing you did something tends to make your soul feel good too.
Count your blessings. And take the time to realize all the things that are blessings... look at the world and realize the wonders that surround you. The way the sun hits the tops of the trees when it rises over them, the beauty of the flowers, the sound of a child's laugh... there are so many blessings around us that we never take the time to see. It's so much easier to keep a tally of the things that are negative, but if you do that, those are all you see. You'll be surprised how much better you feel about your world if you take time to look at the good.
Celebrate. Celebrate the really important things in life... like it's Tuesday, and you are with someone you love. Or celebrate the sun shining, or the moon rising. Celebrate the blooming of the first crocus with as much joy as the birth of the first baby. This one goes along with the counting of your blessings... do them both often and well.
And finally, and this one is important... realize that YOU are enough. As long as you are TRULY doing the very best you can, that is all you can do. You do not have to live up to the expectations of others, nor do you have to set expectations for yourself that are just too high to reach. Remember too that all those other people out there... THEY are enough as well. Don't write their expectations for them, you cannot expect everyone to be like you. Celebrate that they are not... it is what makes this world so very interesting.
Now, enough lecture... go, spread good in the world, make it a better place by just being in it...
11 September 2010
So, when last we left each other, the pumpkin was wearing a witches hat... now it's time to do the arms and legs, and make the boo banner... then put it all together.
The arms and legs have to be formed (instructions on the pattern for the forming). When they are done, you choose where you want the arms, and legs, to be on the body. Mine are about "shoulder" level for the arms, if pumpkins have shoulders, and closer to the front of the body for the legs (makes it easier for the pumpkin to sit when finished, experience speaking, you can trust me on that one!). Using the sharp, pointy end of scissors, poke holes where you decide... CAREFULLY. You don't want the holes to get too big.
Insert the tip of the glue bottle into the holes, and then GENTLY, but firmly, insert the arms into the arm holes, and the legs into the leg holes...into the glue that you just squirted inside the holes... and then leave it alone for at least an hour. (More patience... argh). But, while that is drying, it's a great time to work on the banner, so let's do that.
Cut three banner pieces in a solid color, and the contrasting fabric that you will use with them. I used black for the part of the banner I was going to put my B O O on, and two other fabrics. You can use any solid color you want in place of the black, and you could use only one contrast if you prefer. I would have gone with three contrasting fabrics, but it would have made it far too big. I trimmed the first contrasting fabric with pinking shears before I layered it all together because it would have been very difficult to do it after.
Sew the layers of each banner piece together, and do the final trimming with pinking shears to create the triangle shape.
Then, sew the ribbon across the tops of all three (leaving about an 1 1/2" to 2" on the ends to tie to the pumpkin) to create the banner. Trim off any extra stray fibers that you may have sticking up anywhere and move on to the "b-o-o".
Using the orange acrylic paint, paint the letters B, O, and O on the triangles. Before the paint dries, cover in the glitter. When it dries, tap the glitter off so that you see the letters, and then tie the banner to the hands of the pumpkin so that the message can be read.
Set your cutie somewhere to make you (and others) smile... Mine will be going in my office window, looking out over the grounds, so everyone who takes their walks by it can see it. We have lots of people who walk in our area of campus, and I've actually had folks come into the office from outside asking to see things that I sit in my window. How cool is that?
Now, on to the pattern... Here's the deal... if you would like to have the pattern and instructions for creating the Boo pumpkin email me and I will happily send them to you in a PDF format.(email@example.com)
Here's the "fine print"... Remember that you can use this pattern for personal use, but you may not take credit for creating it. Feel free to use the pic of the finished pumpkin on your blog if you like (linking back to me and giving me credit) so that others can email me for the pattern too. The pattern is free.
And here is a very important note: IF you email me to request this pattern, you do not get put on any email list, and you won't get continuous emails from me about new things or other "promotions", I hate it when that happens to me...ugh... and I refuse to do it to others. So, rest assured that you won't be on any list (unless you ask me to put you on the Creativity Invitation mailing list, then you get emailed the prompt every month.)
Now, in return I am going to ask you a favor... If you use the pattern, send me a pic of the pumpkin you make... or, upload it to the flicker group so I can share them with everyone!
Even finer print... I hold the copyright to this pattern and reserve all rights.