Rambling and Rummaging

Call this a "hail Mary" blog entry so that I don't look like such a slacker for the month of February. My excuse is that I've been busy. Also, every time I sit down at the computer I wander off into passiveaggressivenotes.com and then forget why I sat down at the computer in the first place (yes, I've gotten to that age). I also recently discovered a site called Regretsy - Where DIY Meets WTF. So yeah, productive time at the computer has mostly fallen by the wayside. But wait, I have another excuse. I've been busy doing stuff like . . .

Last Monday I picked up two Boxers that were sprung from a shelter north of me. The rescue didn't have a foster home open right away and both dogs were in need of veterinary care (vaccinations, heartworm testing, neutering, etc.), so I dropped them off at my clinic for boarding. Then came the job of finding foster homes for these two very nice chaps. Spencer is 10-12 and Jake is 6-7. They were dumped at a shelter because the owner has a toddler and, as you may be aware, dogs and children cannot (apparently) exist in the same house.

[Begin rant] If you are going to get married and have children (or even have delightful little offspring out of wedlock), and don't think you can handle a dog and a child at the same time, please do not get a dog. Seriously. I'm so tired of it I could scream. Week after week we hear the same story. People console themselves by saying that the dog will be "better off with someone who has more time" but believe me, your dog would rather make do with less of you than to be homeless. [/end rant]

The good news is that we did line up foster homes for both dogs and the boys are doing well. I was particularly concerned about Spencer because of his age.

In other news, I participated in a rummage sale yesterday. It was held in a local mall and the sale was specifically geared towards infant and children's clothes and supplies. I shared a booth with a friend of mine and a friend of hers. We got swamped early on and the early birds mostly wiped us out. I had brought some toys (in addition to the clothes) and those were gone within the first half hour or so. By noon, things had settled down and sales were sporadic thereafter. I made around $140.00 which, as my friend Jennifer would say, "is better than a poke in the eye."

I only had a few people try to talk me down on prices. If they were buying multiple items, I was happy to discount. If they were just buying one, fuggetaboutit. Another item I brought along was a vintage (early 80s, I think) Sesame Street lamp that I had in A's room when she was born. I can't remember what I spent on it, but I seem to recall it was quite a bit. That was in those heady "I'm finally a mom!" days right after she was born. Anyway, I actually think this lamp is worth a decent chunk of change, but I'm way too lazy to ship it (the shade would require a lot of special packaging and whatnot). People poked at it all day and then I finally got a buyer at the end of the day. And I was happy, because I did not want to haul that bugger back home.

We ran into a few catty moms early in the day, but most of the people were nice. The oddest exchange was this:

Random old man (holding up a Micky Mouse plate that I was selling for a buck): What IS this?
Me (wondering if this was a trick question): Um, it's just a plate.
Man (setting it back down and then looking at me with one eyebrow cocked): Uh huh. Just a plate, eh?

He then walked away slowly and deliberately, as if to prove that I had been unable to pull the wool over his eyes with my tricky plate.

Pottery Giveaway!

Here is the piece I chose for the
Pie in the Sky Anniversary Giveaway.

This is a high-fired stoneware bowl with a classic Japanese Tenmoku style glaze that we call "Hamada Brown Black." It measures 8 1/2 inches in diameter and is 3 1/2 inches tall.

I chose this bowl because it is one of my earlier experiments with texture. I used a rope to make a textured surface on the outside of the bowl where the glaze could pool (black) and "break" (brown).

The bowl is safe for use in the oven, microwave and dishwasher.

A chance to win this bowl is fun and easy! Take a look at my very first post and post your entry in the comment section. If you discover a wrong answer you can always enter again. Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. The contest is up until Monday, March 1. So far the odds are good for winning!

P.S. Yes! "Cheating" is allowed!

Tasting Cake and Throwing Stones

I had another consultation with a bridal couple yesterday to plan their wedding cake. It's been a good month and I have booked four more wedding cakes.

One of the things I enjoy about making wedding cakes is the contact I have with people planning their weddings. I really like being one of the behind-the-scenes people at an event like a wedding. I carry a lot of responsibility which can cause me to occasionally wake up in the night with a panic attack (What day is it? Did I forget someone's wedding?) but I get a tremendous feeling of satisfaction when I can present a delicious cake that is the centerpiece of the wedding celebration.

The consultations are always interesting matters. I've had every kind of meeting including brides alone, brides with their mothers, brides with their betrothed and brides with their entire wedding parties. Yes, one time I had nine people at the cake tasting. The parents, the siblings and best man were all included and voiced their opinions about the cake. It was an Indian wedding and there was even talk of having a cake that looked like the Taj Mahal. As I recall they had three different kinds of cake and filled cupcakes and had me write up three different estimates for all three kinds of cake. In the end they decided not to have any wedding cake since it wasn't an Indian tradition anyway. All of that and no booking! The funny thing was, that summer Mr. Dirtywrench and I were strolling downtown and happened to walk by their wedding rehearsal dinner celebration on the sidewalk of a hotel restaraunt. The bride looked lovely in her traditional Indian dress and jewelry as she was attending to guests with concentrated devotion. I sighed wistfully as I had been looking forward to serving the cake at what I was sure was a very interesting wedding celebration.

Wedding consultations can be tricky things. Usually the bride and groom have never planned a wedding before and I have to help them find out what they want in a wedding cake. Sometimes the bride knows exactly what she wants and the groom spends the time nodding his head. Sometimes it's the other way around and the groom is the creative and assertive designer with so many ideas that they can't be narrowed down to one flavor and cake style. It is always interesting to see the dynamics of the couple and hear a bit about their story.

A couple of weddings have been canceled when the wedding planning became the demise of the marriage.

The latest consultation has given me cause to contemplate. This couple was from out of state and all of their guests will be coming from far away to attend a destination wedding at a fancy hotel. That is quite an investment in the first day of a marriage. Since the meeting I have been pondering the Bible passage that says, "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." I am not a marriage counselor, just a baker, but I have been married for over twenty-eight years and have learned a bit about this house called marriage.

If our marriage is like a house, we want to spend our efforts building it up and making it strong. Words are powerful things and the tongue is a forcible instrument. With our words we can either add stones to build up our house or we can tear the stones out. We can fortify or we can weaken the structure. I know that an engaged couple is still discovering how to become a unit and learning how to work together, but when I spend time with a couple that I have only just met and they feel comfortable bickering in my presence, it gives me a bit of pause. Awkward? Apparently only for me. When it happens so freely, it seems that the habit is so ingrained that it isn't noticed any longer by the two participants.

Maybe I notice these things because I have a husband who is so patient and loyal. His words are always the kind that build up our house. Every night, regardless of what is on the dinner table, he ends the meal with "That was a very good supper." In twenty-eight years he has never cut me down with his words, or said something in a ridiculing, sarcastic way. When I hear someone else talk to their spouse with such words, I am taken aback. Do people talk that way? In front of strangers too?

What this observation and pondering really does is make me look at myself and realize how often I am guilty of tearing the stones out of my house. My words, even in private, need to be more careful, more fortifying. In a marriage, two become one. When we each build up the other with our words, we build up ourselves.

Local Kids Eat Free Places

Hey moms! Here is a list of some local restaurants that have great "Kids Eat Free" deals.

Boston Market
Souper Salad (3-5yrs eat for 99 cents)

Chick-fil-A: Germann
Rock Bottom Brewery

Rock Bottom Brewery

Jason’s Deli
Riga Tony’s

Chick-fil-A: San Tan
Village Inn

FRIDAY: No Places yet in the area


Pie in the Sky Anniversary Contest!

Time's up! Winner will be announced Tuesday morning!

One year ago today, February 25, 2009, I wrote my very first blog post.
My kids made me do it.

So to have some fun and to say thank you to all of you who read along and especially to those who bless me with your comments, I'd like to give away a piece of my pottery!

Uh...I intended to show you a piece of my pottery to entice you to enter the contest, but I forgot to photograph something. I promise I will do that today and get it posted so you can decide if it's worth the trouble to enter the contest. But still....I hope you'll join in the fun and enter anyway, even if you hate handmade pottery!

Here's what we'll do. Following this is a rerun of my very first blog post that only about three people saw. I thought it was worth a chuckle to post again. I know I still chuckle when I read it. It is pictures of my pies accompanied by well-known movie quotes with a certain word substitute. I think they sound much better (i.e. funnier) with my word in them. For the contest today, the challenge is to go to the comment box and tell me the names of the movies that these almost right quotes came from. You should have ten correct movie titles in the comment for one entry in the contest. I will take all the correct answers and randomly choose a winner for a piece of my pottery. I will only use one right answer per person for the drawing but you can enter as many wrong answers as you'd like! The contest will end Monday, March 1 at 9:00pm Pacific time so there will be plenty of time to ask your kids for help or check out Wikipedia if you don't like movies and don't know all the answers!


Name that movie!

(1) "I'll make him a pie he can't refuse."

(2) "You're gonna need a bigger pie."

(3) "Look Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his pie."

(4) "You can't handle the pie."

(5) "May the pie be with you."

(6) "Show me the pie."

(7) "Leave the gun....take the pie."

(8) "Go ahead....make my pie."

(9) "I'll get you my pretty....and your little pie too!"

and one more:

(10) "I feel the need....the need for pie."

Hanging out with Meemaw

Sorry for the dearth of new posts - my muddah was in town. I ferried her back to the airport (two hours away, in the snow, because I am just that kind of daughter) today and she's headed home to Oklahoma.

Highlights from her visit:
  • A trip to the mall, wherein I scored two big Yankee Candle jar candles and a very cute spring jacket, courtesy of the 'rents. Happy birthday to me!
  • A night out at the roller derby. A friend of mine is a derby chick so I thought it would be fun to take my mom to something different. We had a good time, though we're both still a little fuzzy on the actual rules of roller derby.
  • On Monday, we kept the kid home from school and she spent the afternoon with her Meemaw while P and I were at work. Apparently they played games and drank hot chocolate. I didn't get a lot of details about what they did, as there seemed to be a "don't ask don't tell" policy in place to which they were both adhering pretty firmly. From what I gathered, copious amounts of marshmallows were consumed.
  • On Tuesday, we surprised A at school by having Meemaw pick her up while I waited in the car. The kid was way excited to see my mom coming across the blacktop. She ran towards her grandmother, arms outstretched and then . . . some little brat pushed her down. We then went to Chuck E Cheese. A had a gift card sent to her by Fritz, our former foster dog (that is one generous pooch, let me tell ya). So, we played games and earned enough tickets to buy some worthless crap. The usual. Finally, we headed to the fabric store. I had been avoiding this endeavor since my mom's arrival. If you know anyone who sews or quilts, you know what I am talking about. I even tried telling her that all the fabric stores in town had closed and that it was all very tragic. However, she spotted a Hancock Fabric and I couldn't get out of it. The reason I was dragging my feet is that you cannot get my mother out of a fabric store once you have allowed her to enter one. You'd have an easier time extracting an addict from a crack house. She was buying fabric to make my daughter a dress, though, so I had to keep my protest rally pretty low-key.
As she was packing last night (and this is not a woman who travels light), I made this helpful suggestion: "Be sure to wing a slipper under the bed!" Meemaw always leaves a slipper behind and then I have to ship it to her. After she was all packed this morning, I got on my hands and knees and found two pairs of shoes under the bed in the guest room. Good try, lady!

Note to my mom: Thanks for visiting us! Now, would you like to explain to the nice people why you left dozens of popsicles in my freezer?

Mom holding five whole tickets at Chuck E. Cheese. Frankly, the kid and I really had to carry her when it came to ticket winnings.

Tour of NYPD (New York Pizza Department)

We had a great tour of the Chandler NYPD restaurant. They opened early for us to come and and see how their pizza was made. We also got to see how they set things up for the lunch crowd and where the food is stored. The kids got to touch the dough and see it start out as a ball and be stretched into a large pizza. We all got to enjoy some pizza and had fun hanging out at the restaurant.
Yummy Menu Choices
Off to the kitchen to see where the food is prepared and cooked!
Feeling the dough!
Making a large pizza!

Checking out the freezer!

Waiting for our pizza!

Stretching the pizza dough!

One little tool, so many ideas...

Earlier this month I did a post about my latest experiments in the studio. Using a trimming tool I faceted some mugs with grooves to catch the glazes.

I started out small and simple. These are the mugs.

I tried the same thing on some bowls.

A few vases.

None of these pots have been fired yet. This is how the clay looks when it is "bone dry" ready for the bisque firing.

All of the marks on all these pots were made with the same simple tool.

I learned a lot about the technique with my experiments.

One thing I learned is that the stages of drying are important in how the cuts look. I'm letting this one dry some more before finishing the carvings to the bottom and then I'll take off all the rough edges with a wet sponge. I think I'll put a handle at the top too.

These will have more done also.

I also really like how the cuts look on the rims of large platters.

I'm definitely doing more of these.

This week will mark this blog's one year anniversary.
I'm going to have a little contest to celebrate.
Stay tuned for a chance to win a piece of pottery!

my beautiful sister, rebecca

After my Mom left, my older sister, Rebecca, came out with one of her daughters to help with the kids. It was so wonderful to have her. She cooked and cleaned, cuddled with my kids, took care of Elle at night so I could sleep, and took my kids to Disneyland for the day so I could just enjoy Elle. Thank you so much for coming Rebecca and Anna. We love and miss you both already.

A Few Things

It's Monday again.

Schoolwork. Laundry. Dishes.
Rinse. Repeat.

I still haven't picked a color to paint the bedroom.

Tonight I lounged on a leather couch in a dimly lit bar with my honey and had a Limoncello Collins. Two of them.
Limoncello Collins. It's a Good Thing.

I booked three more weddings this month. This year is looking better than last year.

I found these pictures and many more like them on my camera.
Should I wonder how they got there?

It's still February.
A slow news month.

kate's thoughts on the baby

Kate told me yesterday:

"Let's send the baby back. Back to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus."

She also told me that she misses me when I didn't have owies because I can carry the baby now, but I can't carry her.

It's sad to see her so insecure. I know she'll be fine and that tons of people have younger siblings, but it's still sad to see her wondering where she fits in.

Happy Birthday, Jay-rad

"It's our birthday!" we always exclaimed every February, as though we were twins (and as a matter of fact we did later hatch a plot to be adopted by each other's parents). Born a scant five days apart, Jared and I have been friends since we were 14. And, today is his birthday.

We met in 9th grade, in GT English, I believe. I might be making that up. We met in one class or other our Freshman year at Robert E. Lee High school. Over the years we had gym and English together, and maybe a couple of other random classes. You couldn't help but want to be Jared's friend. With his sky-high IQ and sharp wit, it was easy to be drawn to him. 26 years later, he's still the funniest guy I know.

A few memories from days of yore:

  • During our Freshman year, Jared and I made a vow that we would make it all the way through high school without playing an organized team sport of any kind. And, we kept that vow. When we were allowed to choose different activities in gym class, Jared and I always chose either recreational games or archery. One time, we were playing ping-pong in the gym (one of the "rec games") and we lost several balls under the bleachers. Mrs. Rowe told us that if we lost another ball, we were done. Moments later, our ball rolled under the bleachers, far out of reach. So, we just raised our paddles and continued to bat them into the air with no ball in sight. Mrs. Rowe never noticed.

  • Our first job was at Kids R Us. We didn't work there too long, because we didn't have cars and we both lived on the other side of town. I was in the accessories department, spending countless hours straightening headbands and plastic earrings so that God's littlest angels could come along and demolish the displays. Jared, on the other hand, was given more responsibility: he got to run a cash register. We also used a label maker to create code names that we adhered to the back side of our name badges. Jared was, as I recall, Mr. Windex.
  • When we were Juniors, I was dating a red-headed boy named Clint. He was a theater type, as were many of our mutual friends. One day, at the lunch table, Jared noticed that I was wearing a red twill shirt with over-sized pockets in the front (keep in mind that this was 1987). He leaned across the table and asked, "What do you keep in those pockets? Besides Clint's hands, I mean?"

  • The summer after our Junior year, we set about the task of finding part-time jobs. I walked to Jared's house so that we could then head across the street to Springfield Mall. For some reason, it still brings a smile to my face when I think of his mom saying, "And don't come back 'til you're gainfully employed!" as we walked out the door. I got a job at Show Off (a women's clothing store) and Jared was hired by a store called Sport & Hobby, which sold model airplanes and whatnot. Honestly, I think we'd both still work at those stores today if they hadn't closed.
There was a lot of post-high school frivolity as well. Like the time we went to an Irish Pub and I was generously over-served. So much so that Jared was somehow able to convince me to yell "FREE BIRD!" to the nice young man playing classic Irish music. Or the time we visited a "haunted" barn right before Halloween, when Jared snuck under the ropes and re-arranged two gigantic rats so that they were fornicating. What a treat for the young families that were filing in as we made a hasty exit.

Happy birthday, Jared! Thank you for being my friend all these years.

Picking a paint color...

....is harder than choosing a name for a baby.

At least it is for me.

Even though I won't live with the color as long as I'll live with the name, somehow a baby grows into their name no matter what. A room will never grow into a color that is not right for it.

I've made some mistakes with room colors and had to live uncomfortably with the results. Maybe because I have an artistic nature, color matters to me. For instance, I really, really hate beige hotel rooms. So benignly boring. So lacking in imagination. Are hoteliers really so worried about losing a customer offended by blue or green or {gasp} a nice, sunny yellow?

So since I have lived with colors I wasn't happy with, I've decided to no longer commit to a color until I'm sure it's the right hue, tone and shade. I have determined to test, sample and cogitate before draping the furniture and popping the lid on a paint can.

When we painted the exterior of house it took weeks to decide on the color. We took trips around the valley looking at newly painted houses. I painted sample colors on poster board and nailed them to the house. At least eight times. It worked. We like the final choice.

Now I'm working on the bedroom- because it's winter and in winter I have uncontrollable urges to make changes and improvements. I'm almost done with the kitchen and moving on to the bedroom before the crocuses bloom and the urge dissipates.

We live in a little country cottage of a house. The rooms are small and have posed many challenges for a family of nine. This bedroom is crammed with furniture and the clutter is suffocating me. I have big plans to rectify this problem and Ikea is helping me with that. But first I need to paint!

The design experts recommend choosing a color by matching it to an object. I did that last time by looking for the green that was in the bed quilt. I ended up with a minty green that I hated from the first swipe of the paint roller. I hadn't sampled the paint on the wall first to make sure it was what I wanted and I paid the price by living with the mint ice cream color for years.

My first thought was to simply repaint with a better shade of green. Ha! HAhahahahaha!!!!

Green, you say? {snort}

I know I don't want minty green...

how about "grey" green?.....

....or yellowy green?....

....or a "heritage" green?.....

And what tone of that hue is right? Dark, light, medium? Medium dark, pale light?

Oh, nevermind!

How about gold?

Or soothing steely blue?

But which blue??