Friday, January 17, 2014

A tree grows in Winslow

I was just commenting on my need for desire to get in my garden and maybe even do a little composting when the mailman knocked on my door.

Among the packages was a weird note from South Jersey Gas company. Oh boy........what is the problem?

The letter starts with...."perhaps terminating your service will allow you to be as concerned as we are about the issue at your property" ......................what the what? Please read your meter and call us. Oh, I am on it! They do not know who they are sending letters like this to! (disclaimer....I had thrown out a few notes from said Gas Company because they want me to buy insurance from them which I am not interested in) Surely I didn't toss some important note? (right?) Anyhoo......I did what any self respecting, decision making woman would do and instead of grabbing my phone I gave it to the big guy and asked him to call and straighten them out!

2 minutes later I see him go out the front door and in 2 seconds he is calling me! "Nic, I need ya out here!!"

Oh geez........must be big if we have to double team!! Slippers on my feet....out I went! "What is the problem??" Um....welll......this....

Ok, ok.....before I continue, let me just tell you that I am in love with this fat girl right here! Yes I am! I found her at an auction. Yep, an auction. I drove an hour and checked in to get my bid number and then I scoped out what I could use and got ready. I had 2 criteria............that it was alive and that it was CHEAP! I wanted to fill a lot of space and I had very little patience! After grabbing a couple of lots for $15-$20 I figured it was time to go......but this lil Charlie Brown tree kept getting skipped! I snagged her for about $1. She was cheap but had little life at about 24 inches high. She was skinny and scared and she didn't fit in well where ever we put her. My family (read, husband) hated her and one day she was pulled up and set out for recycling. NOT SO FAST! I rescued her again and popped her on the side of the house out of the way.

2 years later I opened my office windows greeted by her wonderful scent. She had made it up to the window sill! She is home to many a chipmunk and even more little birdies. Occasionally she will wiggle a branch into my window to wave hello and remind me she is out there. I love her!! And 2 years more and she has gone on well past the window, the second floor, and well.....covered the Gas Meter. Oh boy!!

SO......back to the present and she is a BEAST! With my husband on the phone I am going in........

Open space above was as good as any....head 1st, hoody up......I pushed and moved and yelled out the meter reading. I could almost feel her laughing at my husband....."remember me? You know the scrawny thing you were gonna toss?" Katy Perry's Roar playing in my head, I started laughing as my husband started planning on her murder. "Gonna have to chop it down, Nic," he warned. I gave him a look of amusement.

She's going nowhere. Perhaps a trim to please the ever so threatening Gas Company. Perhaps a hard pruning....perhaps. As he shook his head in defeat (come on now, he knows he will not win this argument. He couldn't get rid of her when she was a baby....surely can't get rid of her now that she is a force to be reckoned with)  I smiled to myself. This 15 minute crisis had given me just what I was longing for earlier this morning.....a lil bit of Spring and just a touch of my garden. There are no coincidences.....just chances to have your problems solved. Real talk!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cracked, Jacked Ottoman is now Newest Addition to the Family Room! Check her out!

Ok neck and arm feel like they may be forever in pain but I think it was worth it! The family room ottoman is complete!!! Woop! Before I give you the deets......a lil background...

I hate replacing things I already have! Oil changes and air filter replacements? HATE! New tires? HATE! It feels like such an investment for something you already have.....I know....gotta do it but I hate it! So after 7 years my beloved (and expensive) leather topped ottoman had started to peel. Yup. Nasty!
I ignored this for a few months. Even pushed her into the corner for my annual Christmas Eve party. (Nobody puts baby in the corner!!!!) Then as it started to really bother me I started looking for a new table. Problem was.....I really like the one I have! Of course I find one that is out of this world fabulous!
This baby here can be yours for $1600. Even if I hit the lottery I wouldn't pay $1600 for a coffee table. (OK, let's be serious....if I hit the lottery that scrumptious table would be in my new house with a lot of other great things....) I digress. Paying that amount was not an option. The cheaper options were looking, well....cheaper and I was getting an attitude fast! So I went to my trusty friend Craig to see what was on his List! Even here my choice was in the $300-$350 range...I mean me and Craig are cool but not that cool! So....I decided to take ole girl apart and see what I could do. Me and my jacked up neck and arm...but I am woman....blah blah blah!

As a sign that the universe was leading me further into the DIY solution, my team at work had given me a gift certificate to Jo-Ann's fabric for Christmas. Cha Ching! Gift card in hand....I hit the road. Took my throw pillow with me from my couch as a color swatch and was on the hunt. Straight to the bargain bin! Yep....even with a gift card and coupons I cannot pay $49.99 a yard....CAN NOT DO IT!

Just when I was about to give up I spy a bargain wall with full upholstery bolts.....and 50% off the red tag! OK universe....I hear ya!! $9.99 a yard, plus 1/2 off!!  I went wild with it and got 2 whole yards. (hee hee.....I crack myself up!!) Also grabbed 2 button kits and the biggest needles I have ever seen in my life! is how it went!!

Took her apart.....took pictures because experience has tough me that what comes apart doesn't always come back together.....pulled out a gazillion staples.....made 16 custom buttons using my couch's weight as the pusher.....feeling optimistic!!

Go to use custom buttons and they start popping apart (these cannot be reused...WASTE! OF! MONEY! )  My neck is on a 10 pain wise......making buttons and flipping solid wood tables is light work...but hey, it catches up with ya!! Feeling discouraged. Scooch my mess into the corner and take a week to regroup. ( is back in the corner!!!)

A week later........I'm BACK!!
OK so I had to use the old buttons from the ottoman because....well, you know what happened. Ummm, tufting ain't easy. If you do this or any tufting project I suggest a partner. My partner is a naysayer so I did it solo. My neck and back are paying for it! staple gun was $3 at a yard sale....yeah, you get what ya pay for!! (In all fairness to my $3 gun....she got it done! Just would have been easier with a better tool)

And after pulling, and pushing, and tugging, and stapling................I have a new coffee she is!!
Love it! Here's the thing...I would have put off getting a table for a while.....too much $$, yadda yadda....for $20 bucks I have a great table and....did you spy the matching pillow???? OMG!! Deets tomorrow! My 1st sewing project! 
I give my 2 Bernhardt sofas another year or two for my family room......wherever they end up this table and the pillows will still have plenty of life left!

Don't have a table of your own to do? Check out your boy Craig for a cheap table and imagine the $20 possibilities! Real talk!!

Partying here:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

PINNEDIDIT!!! Chicken Tortilla Soup

That's right! I PINNEDIDIT! And OMG was it good! Chicken tortilla soup! Under $10 and under 30 minutes! Say it with me....what, what!! Yep!

There has been a lot of ohhhing and ahhing and a whole lot of Pinning but......I wasn't doing anything. You know, where you put into action what you It's a new year and I can't have a year full of would of, could of, should of's. So, dang on it....I went and PINNEDIDIT! Yep....I looked, I shopped, and I did! Here is the skinny................

Peeked at pins......(there are a ton and I hope you make it a ton plus one by pinning this!) Went for ease and speed and came up with this....

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 1.5 pounds of chicken breast
  • 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • big spoon full of Jalapenos (and a lil juice too)
  • 1 big ole onion
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can corn
  • salt and pepper (and I like red pepper too!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin 
Shredded cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips make this a WINNER!

OK, cook your chicken. You can boil, bake, or grill. Just don't overcook it. Needs to be ready to shred. In a rush? Rotisserie baby! Soften your peppers, onions, and garlic in the bottom of your stock pot and then just start dumping! (I know.....these are not engineer friendly directions but that is really what I did) 

Cook for 25 minutes and eat! YUMMY! Add a few toppings if you like! Want dinner when you get home from work......Dump it in the crockpot. Come on! This is so so good! Don't just peek.....PINNEDIDIT for yourself! Real talk! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Slogans don't save kids from bullets....better parenting does!

“Good night. Don’t be rude. Say it back,” followed ten hours later by, “good morning,” followed by a gun shot at 3 pm the same day, that will be followed by nothing else.
These were the last Facebook posts from a 13 year old boy shot on his way to school.

What morbid curiosity led me to even look at these posts? What was I expecting to see?
Something…….something to offer an explanation or to stop my heart from breaking at the senselessness…..but really…..would anything be an answer to a life ended before it began?

The news is full of stories like these so why my outrage at this story? I didn't know this child or the shooter…..another life over for all intents and purposes.

I am outraged not by the senseless shooting……….but our community’s commitment to being trifling.
Let the backlash begin. I do not care. It needs to be said. And I am clearly not talking about every single person in the community, so stop….before you even start. But instead of saying NO to guns we need to be saying YES to parenting.

Wrong is the new right. Trifling is a way of life. We even have funny names for it…Ghetto...or Rachet; as if changing the name makes it something to aspire to. We have become entertainment. We post fight videos of our children and populate urban websites that do the same. We tune in to reality TV that tells of a reality I don’t see in the hard working folks I know.  We have allowed the story of brown people to be told by the most slovenly of our race and that is the story that is repeated. And that obscure story is quickly becoming the truth for far too many.

I know the many perils of our communities and won’t diminish them. I know that drugs and poverty have taken center stage and are the star in many a show. I know all of this but I still find no reasonable excuse for the blatant lack of parenting going on and anyone highlighting this issue getting torn down with all of society’s woes and excuses. So instead of saying no to guns (really….this should not even have to be in a normal conversation) let’s try saying yes to some of the basics:

  •             Say YES to monitoring your child’s social media pages. 13 year-olds talking proudly about not going to school, smoking weed, having sex…….where is the parent?
  •       Say YES to some sort of structured religion. Along with the liquor stores and check cashing joints we have churches…….not a bad place for Sunday morning and definitely better than the streets
  •       Say YES to READING! Before any video game, cell phone, boot or sneak….can I see a BOOK?
  •      Say YES to curfews. Ummm……sorry, this whole idea that 10, 11 o’clock is an ok curfew? For who It’s not. Come on people
  •       Say YES….my child did it. Because they all do….make mistakes, cheat, bully…’s how we approach correcting mistakes  that makes us into responsible adults or adult bullies and thugs
  •       Say YES to modeling decent behavior yourself. "Do as I say, not as I do," is a great saying but it does not work. If you are a laid up, lazy, weed smoking, Jerry Springer watching, cussing someone out at the store parent, chances are your child will follow suit
  •       Speaking of Jerry Springer……Say YES to turning the channel. I know we all have our guilty pleasure shows but can we agree to a lil less TV
  •       Say YES to getting some help….we all need it sometimes. A mentor, a confidante…..someone to ask question about how to do this parenting thing better
  •        Finally…we all need to say YES… you are worth having, loving, LIVING! The amount of negative commands and comments our children hear are as deadly as some bullets. They don’t show immediate, bloody wounds but the pain can be terminal and the aftermath just as deadly.

Forget about saying no to guns. Children shooting each other on the way home from school is a symptom of what is happening every night and day in the home they were headed to.  We need to focus on parenting…..our parents and their parents did better with less.

Only then, maybe, can this child’s words make a little bit of sense to me.
 “Good night. Don’t be rude. Say it back.”