Friday, December 14, 2007

Turbo

I have a lot to do today. A. Lot. And what have I started? Why nothing at all! Why is it that the more I have to do, the less I am motivated to do it? Talk about putting ones self under the gun. So I figured maybe I need more energy than my breakfast toast and tea could supply, and had a bowl of cereal for lunch. But not just ANY cereal. DD's sugary cereal that looks like little toasts, and tastes like sugar laminated cardboard pieces. If anything could give me a burst of energy it would be that cereal. Usually we don't have sweet cereals in the house. I am not a fan of them, neither is dh. We usually have some combo of corny flakey things, oaty oh shaped things, maybe some waffle weaved wheaty deals. Then there is the fibery cereal that DH likes to eat. I like it too, but it costs like a buck a bowl to eat so I leave it for him. Every once in a while (if there is a sale or I have a coupon - which is not very often) I indulge in something with flakes and clusters and dried fruity bits. But in general, plain cereal is what we have. Now that DH is paying for the groceries (didn't I mention that? Since I am out of work DH is for the first time, paying every bill and for everything we buy) there is a learning curve to work out. Whenever DD asks for sugary cereal, I always answer NO. Not because I have any real problem with it (look at the nutritional content, and be as amazed as I was that the nutritional info is not much different than the plainer varieties) but rather I know she is not going to eat it. The box will be ripped open the minute we get home, before the rest of the groceries are even unloaded. She will pour herself a big bowl and fill it to the brim with milk. Then she will eat two spoons, realize she doesn't like it, and proceed to play around in it for several minutes, pretending to eat it but really just pushing it around the bowl. Then, once the cereal is so soggy and mushy that it is unrecognizable, she will announce that she is done. And that box of cereal will sit up there, untouched and mocking me until it becomes so stale it all melds into one single piece. If it was particularly expensive and not overly heinous in colour, sometimes I try to eat it so as not to waste the money. But I have a low tolerance for sweet things in general, and kiddie breakfast cereal is usually quite gross on top of being over-sweetened. The textures are usually horrid - slimey mostly. And some of them have more candy-marshmallow pieces than cereal bits in there. Once in a while I encounter a recipe that calls for it, and I will try that out in a last ditch effort. I have no idea why my feeble brain thinks I can possibly make sugary cardboard more palatable by coating it in even sweeter sticky marhsmallow and tossing in some chocolate chips or raisins. My latest effort - just so you know - will involve mixing the aforementioned recent cereal aquisition, melted white chocolate chips, and chopped jelly candies (also leftover, but from halloween candy picks), pressed and cut into bars to make some christmasy looking concoction. These will be packaged into the christmas card boxes, wrapped in holiday waxed paper and nestled into pretty ruffled paper liners and sent to school as christmas treats for the kiddies in DD's class. They may have to peel the kids off the ceiling afterwards, but I will be rid of the cereal, the candy, AND the white chips that have been haunting me. Too expensive to throw away, too disgusting to eat. Since DH now is controlling the grocery purse strings, he made the wise decision to allow DD to get that box of sugar coated toast bombs. After all, there was room in the budget. Of COURSE there was room in the budget. Because though he bought sugary cereal and cheetohs and pretzels and frozen mini-pizzas, he didn't get any of the NON-essentials. Like bread and milk and meat and eggs and stuff. How silly would THAT be, to waste money on actual ingredients? Dh opened the fridge last night and exclaimed he has never seen it so empty. For the past couple of weeks, it has been a litany of stuff we do not have on hand. Where is the bread? We are out. Where is the milk? We are out. Where is the cheese? Well, you get the picture. The pantry cupboard is bare, but for the small can of pineapple and a tin of escargot that seem to have come with the house. There is nothing but the crust ends in the breadbox, no milk or mayonaise or mustard or ketchup - not that it matters because there is nothing to put it on. The freezer is practically empty as well, save a few packages of frozen veggies and some freezer pops they didn't like that have been abandoned in the back. You see, I have handed the finances completely over to DH. He has control of the budget and the shopping and the supplying and the planning, and everything. For the first time he is paying ALL of the household bills and expenses. And it has been quite a learning experience. He had no idea what utilities cost here. Not that they are high in general (energy star appliances, and I conserve where ever I can) but higher than he expected apparently. I guess maybe he understands why we shouldn't leave the stero on all night (muted and forgotten), the basement lights on 24/7, and let the hose run on the lawn for two days straight. The hardest thing for him to handle, however, has been "groceries". Not just food, but all the items a person supplies a house with over the course of a week or month. Toilet paper. Shampoo. Light bulbs. Laundry supplies. When you buy milk on Sunday and eat two bowls of cereal and drink a glass of milk a day, by tuesday you are out of milk and need more. See his idea is that you shop ONE TIME per week, and buy no more than one container of anything, even though you know you use more than that in seven days. Then you expect it to last, and become astonished and angry when it does not. "We never ran out of anything before!". Of course we didn't. Because when I noticed on Tuesday we were running low on milk, I got more when I was out for stamps. And while I was making a Costco run for toilet paper and cheese, I bought bread and fabric softener because we were almost out. I did this while working more than 40 hours per week, dealing with DD, and taking care of the rest of the house. It wasn't a big deal and required no advance planning or logistic diagrams. While I was out doing something else, I tacked on the other tasks. DH is not so great at that. If I ask him to stop and get something on the way home from work, his entire day becomes geared towards that task. It's like, dude, it's just milk on the way home from work. Chill baby. Oh. So back to the cereal. I decide to try a bowl of the sugary cereal for lunch, to give me enough energy to at least start what I need to do. Only it kind of backfired. No extra energy, just a sore stomach, the jitters, and now we are out of milk again. I wonder if I can get DH to stop on the way home from work......

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hurt feelings and cute craft

I happened to see a link somewhere for instructions on making tiny boxes out of old christmas cards. I would love to give credit where credit is due, but I simply cannot remember where I saw that link. I thought it was at the KT, but I did a search and it must be under an odd name because nothing remotely familiar comes up when I enter certain key words I would expect to find it under. So if you know the link, please pipe up! I really like how there is no waste, you use the whole card and there are no cut out pieces or scraps. I hate throwing out our christmas cards every year because it seems like such a waste of such beauty. But really, I don't need several totes full of old cards. I thought maybe this year DD and I could make ornaments or something, then I saw the link for the boxes. Perfect for little treats or small gifts. And as a bonus, they are fun and addicting to make. Here is a link to instructions and a demonstration I found after doing a google search: http://www.pedagonet.com/blog/2006/12/mini-christmas-card-box.html I have to warn you though, it IS addicting. I found myself, after completing one entire batch of old cards (enough for a treat box for each child in DD's class, Brownie troupe, all the cousins, and a few extra) eyeing the cards I have received THIS year. I came to my senses just in time, however. They make such cute little boxes, and it is so easy to do. All you need is the card, a ruler and pencil, a pair of scissors, and some tape. You could glue them instead, which I think would be prettier, but let's face it. Does the instant gratification queen have time to let glue dry? I don't think so. Besides, in this house glue is next to impossible to find. Oh, we HAVE glue. I am sure of it. Thousands of bottles. Special glue, too. Some especially for paper. Some meant just for foam. I have tacky jem glue, elmer's glue, gorilla wood glue, glass glue, and some silicon stuff that will hold just about anything on a bowling ball. Two part expoxy glue, super crazy glue, hodge podge, that odd golden glue that comes in the bottle with the rubber nipple, some thin clear glue in tubes with a felt applicator, sparkle glue, and of course rubber cement. I can never find any of it. It must be hiding with the many rolls of tape, spools of sewing thread, and all the nail clippers I have ever bought. If I ever find that spot, I am never leaving it. Anyhow, DD and I were happily twittering away and folding cards to make little boxes, making little exclamations of wonder and surprise when a card design had a particularly lucky placement and came out perfectly centered on the box. Yes, we are easy to amuse, but we weren't bothering anybody. My chores and her homework were done, and what harm were we causing? Then comes in DH. "What are those?". Boxes made from christmas cards. "Why?". He had such a snide look on his face when he said it. "because they are cute and fun to make, and uses up old christmas cards instead of throwing them away. I think we might use these to hold the different candies in the cookie boxes". I figured we could package each kind of truffle separately, and the little boxes would look really festive in there. "Don't make any for the people in my family. They would freak out if they knew you were cutting up their cards". WHAT?!?!? "You are supposed to just keep them forever". Then he went on to give suggestions about the folding, and not using certain cards because the design wouldn't be perfectly centered blah blah blah. I asked him what his problem has been lately. He has been really critical of everything DD or I have done. He has made comments on my knitting, some pieces I was painting, some baking we did for a senior's group, and now these boxes. I said I know that the idea of making something for somebody for no real reason or reward is a hard concept for him to imagine, but some of us actually LIKE doing things like this. And when he comes in and acts like what we are doing is stupid and useless, it hurts feelings. So from now on if he doesn't have anything nice to say, he should just keep quiet. And as for the cards sent from his family? Fine. I won't use them. But HE can keep them. Otherwise I will toss them every year. If they aren't being sent for my enjoyment then I don't want them at all. But back to the boxes, I have a good idea for the ones I got THIS year to use NEXT year. I want to make enough boxes to make one of those christmas calendars, with a little treat inside every box. I can go to the bulk food store next year and get some different little candies and things to go inside. Maybe some fun rings or pony holders for DD, things like that. I think it will be fun. Maybe I can even hang them from a ribbon or garland strung across the mantle or down the bannister so they can do double duty as decoration. We will see next year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For those who love those who knit

Or really, for those people who love somebody that does ANYTHING - craft, knit, sew, crochet, bake, scrapbook - anything creative. I have some sage advice for you. There comes a time each year when a person who DOES something decides to use that skill to create gifts. This is usually around Christmas, but we have been known to try and create presents for other celebrations (such as birthdays, baby showers, and so on). What better to share with friends and family than the fruits of our labour? How appropriate to give the gift of time and attention, something made just for them requiring more effort than trudging to the mall and picking up the first thing that is on sale and comes with batteries included? While we love our craft, there are still times when under a time pressure (I mean come on, we know what day christmas is on and it comes every year. But why does it insist on sneaking up on me every year?) we might act like we are not having fun. That is all part of the process, my dear, and nothing to worry about. Just ignore the swearing, the hair pulling, and the accusations that somebody has been messing around with the calendar trying to confuse us. It will all turn out in the end. And if not? There is always the mall. Anyhow, and more to the point. If your loved one is, say, knitting a pair of gloves. And said gloves were being knitted in expensive hand painted yarn that is a zillion stitches to the inch and finer than a cobweb. And just say that there have been several very fiddly parts to the pattern but the knitter is absolutely thrilled with them so far and is seriously thinking of keeping those gloves herself since the last thing she produced with so much labour is eight years old and dresses herself. This is not the time to share with your loved one that you don't like the colour, ask if that puckering around the wrist is normal, and remind her that one can buy a perfectly nice pair of gloves for 99 cents at the dollar store. When she puts the gloves away for a bit and starts working on a stole, do NOT refer to the lace edging that nearly caused blindness as "that raggedy part" nor insinuate that if you stopped now you could call it a doily and save yourself some work. See those pointy sticks she is using? One quick jab and you are wearing an eye patch, Bucko. Now. Take a deep breath, and put a big smile on your face and repeat after me: "What a lovely pair of gloves. They look nicer than anything I have seen in any store. Any person would be lucky to be the recipient of such a pair of gloves. Your knitting skill astounds me". "Is that a (gasp!) LACE stole? How gorgeous. I hear they are all the rage this year. And that edging? Marvelous. How ever do you do it?" Was that so hard? And you still have both your eyes. You will thank me later!