Thursday, June 28, 2012

Completely Unprepared

While I hated Girl Scouts for most of the 8 long years I was in it, I did learn a couple things.  One, you can easily start a fire by sticking a maxi pad onto a log and setting that on fire and two, always be prepared.  While I've had very little opportunity to start fires with feminine products, I have continued to buy larger and larger purses to be prepared for just about anything. Band-aids, tissues, reading material, bottles of liquor, a yoga know, the essentials!  Chances are if you need something, you can find that in my purse. But once in awhile something catches me by surprise and renders me speechless.  The graduation card section in Target is the location of the last scene of unpreparedness.

I was looking for a college graduation card for our cousin.  I hate picking out cards because they are usually too cheesy, too wordy or way too spiritual.  If something is going to be too cheesy and too wordy, its gonna be this girl so I usually get a blank one in order to have the most space possible for the cheese and words. I do not appreciate competition when it comes to cheesiness. 

When I came across this card, I thought it would be perfect:

Expecting a simple "congratulations" on the inside I opened it up and found this....

Seriously?  I was completely knocked of guard because the card wasn't labeled funny, adult, or a "shoe box" card.  It was just sitting there innocently among all the other cards.  Since I have no control over the looks on my face, it must have been classic.  When you think about they type of people who buy a graduation card, it's usually a family member for a younger person.  Can you imagine getting this from your grandma?  Maybe your creepy Uncle but what are the chances of that guy showing up with anything other than his girlfriend who graduated the year before you. 

So Target, quit it with the sleeping with teachers references.  From now on, I'll have to make my own super wordy super cheesy but completely appropriate cards. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mentor Monday: Old School Friendship Bracelets

It is now time for the least read post I write.  Out of my huge readership of 30-70 readers, Mentor Monday usually only gets about 10 hits.  But it's an important one to me so here goes.

This week's Mentor Monday turned into Tuesday due to scheduling problems.  We went a little old school and made some friendship bracelets.  Back in the day, the Garcia cousins were pretty awesome at friendship bracelets.  Every family get together revolved around what color floss we had and the latest braiding style we learned.  At these events, it was usually 6 girls to 1 boy so my poor cousin Michael learned how to make all these bracelets along with us.  We also used to sing "The Rainbow Connection" while we slept outside in my screen porch, but now I'm just embarassing myself.

Back to the bracelets, I figured we would do the easiest friendship bracelet I could remember (ie the only one I could remember).  "A" never made a friendship bracelet before so she wasn't quite sure all the work that went into them.  I picked three colors and used two strands of each in my bracelet.  She chose 6 colors and did a fancy, colorful layout with the 6th color in the middle and the one strand of the other colors straddling in on either side.  So basically, way too many strands for the first friendship bracelet.  After going through the first color weave, she basically gave up as it was a tangled mess.  Since I'm a bit practiced in this and only had a few strands, I had gotten pretty far on mine.  Instead of letting her give up, I had her switch with me and practice on my bracelet which had a well established pattern.   Once she "got it" she got really into it and got pretty far.  I only made it half way through her color scheme in about 30 minutes but the strands are pretty well organized so she should be able to pick it back up where I left off.  "A" ended up getting really into it and claims she is going to make some progress this week.  I can't wait to see how far she gets because, as you can see in the picture below, she has a lot of work ahead of her. 

My simple, yet effective bracelet

"A"s super creative, complicated, bracelet

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Things I'm Learning in the Garden: Part 1

Things I'm Learning in the Garden: Part 1

1.  Start with a plan but go where it takes you.  Just like everything else in life. (Notice I didn't actually get to the actual garden)

2. Wheel barrows are God's gift to your lower back.  If you have one, use one.  If you don't have one, get one.

3.  No home project is complete without a trip to the hardware store.  Good call on buying a house only 5 minutes away from one.

4.  Buy more mulch.  Always buy more mulch.  And next year, have it delivered!

Time for another HD trip!

5.   I can try to start with gloves but I know there will be a time when I'll whip those babies off and just pull    things out of the grown.  I'm less delicate and more washable than I give myself credit for. And now I've lost my gloves.

6.  Grass is deeply rooted...think carefully ripping it up.

Notice the clumps of grass I wrestled to the ground.  They didn't stand a chance.

7.  Take a before makes the after that more satisfying.
Before - with all the pretty tulips!

8.  You too, can grow where you are planted.

The pretty half of my house.

9.  No matter how pretty it all looks, there is always more to do...




Saturday, June 16, 2012

WIP it Up: Baby Blanket

I want to add a little knitting flavor to this blog.  I recently changed the tag at the top to "A complicated girl living the simple life."  I've changed this tag a gazillion times at this point because, like I said, I am a complicated girl.  Hopefully this one will stick, but if it doesn't, who cares.

So my current work in progress on the knitting front is for my dear friend Jen who is expecting her second child and first girl this fall!  Most of my friends are having boys which is great and all but handmade gifts seem to be better for girls.  I am getting an early start so that I can make lots and lots of cute stuff for this future cutie!

When I found this pattern on the blog Knit 1 LA  I fell in love because is was so pretty, so simple and a very manageable size.  My mother and I typically make bigger blankets for babies and they just take forever.  My sister recently showed us a beautiful leaf patterned one she knitted that was just big enough to wrap around the baby.  That little sis is pretty smart some times!
From K1 LA
Baby Iselle's Blanket  is the same idea, beautiful pattern, nice yarn, manageable size.  I picked up some pretty pink Lion Brand "Baby's First" yarn at Michael's and got to work.  It is a soft cotton and a number 5 bulky weight so it is whipping up quickly.  A nine row repeating pattern, a car ride from Utica, and some jury duty helped me make the progress you can see below.

Here is my WIP:

A few more lunch hours and episodes of "Hatfields and McCoys" and this little blanket will be all set. 

The next thing to decide is the edge...should I go green or possibly brown or cream?  Maybe I should ask the Momma to be....Jen what do you think?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals - Mango Madness Edition

Foodie Pen Pals- Mango Madness Edition!

I'm a little late this month on the Foodie Pen Pal post. We usually post the last day of the month but things have been a little busy lately.  This month's pen pal was Andie at Sea Salt 'N Peppa   don't you just love that name?   She sent me some goodies from NYC pictured below:

First of all, I asked Andie for chia seeds.  I've seen just about every health food blogger talking about these things and I wanted to give them a try.  I haven't been able to find them locally so she helped me out.  Chia seeds deserve a post all of their own.  So far I've used them in smoothies, yogurt and even made a chocolate pudding with them.  The Townie thinks they are weird but I think once I get him to try them he will like them.

The chia seeds in themselves would have been enough to make this girl happy but Andie also sent along some Mango Madness from Trader Joe's.

We don't have a Trader Joe's yet but supposedly one is opening in Albany on August 3rd (Happy Birthday to me!) and I just can't wait.  I haven't tried the mango ginger chutney yet but really, there is no way it can be bad.  I ripped open the dried mangoes right away and they were awesome.  Sweet and sour depending on the slice.  I love that there is no extra sugar.  I hate that it is added to things that don't need it.  Anyone else get annoyed when products say sugar free or 50 % less sugar and you think you are getting something less sweet and what you end up with is artificial sugar?  Like  that Trop50 stuff.  If I wanted fake sugar I would have a diet orange soda, not juice thank you very much.  Rant over.

Last but not least was the Thai Sweet Chili sauce. This stuff is great for shrimp, egg rolls, and I am assuming Thai Food (don't get much Thai food here in Townieville).  The first time I ever used Sweet Chili sauce in cooking was making this Bangin Good Shrimp from  When it says Bangin Good it means it.  Gina came up withe recipe to recreate an app at a place near her called Bonefish Grill.  You can find this at Ruby Tuesday's as Typhoon Shrimp or at a sushi restaurant as Rock Shrimp.  Its deep fried and slathered in mayo,sriracha and sweet chili sauce but Gina's lightened up version is amazing! Try it today, seriously!

Well this post is long enough!  Thanks Andie for the great box of goodies.  If you want to join FFP check out  Lindsay's blog at The Lean Green Bean!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mentor Monday: Fun and Games

 Mentor Monday:  Fun and Games

I was sprinkled with sarcasm powder from a very early age.  That's why one of my favorite games growing up was this one:

Seriously, what is better than pulling one of your pawns out of start, knocking out an opponent who thinks they are almost to the safety zone of home and saying "Sooorrryyyy!"?  It is awesome.

In this week's addition of "Mentoring Monday" we played board games.  A said she wanted to play games that weren't video, electric, cellular etc.  I thought this was a great idea.  A good old fashion board game.  I hope those don't get lost because they facilitate some really great times and tons of laughter.  

When I arrived I was surprised to find a mini version of  A there, her name was F and she was the elementary school aged, bus missing, little sister.  Oh how I remember those days.  My sister learned from the early age of 5 that anything she left behind in her half day kindergarten class would be sent home in the afternoon with me.  So she basically left every thing she didn't feel like carrying.  Show and tell objects, the containers that used to hold her birthday cupcakes, her backpack if she was feeling especially lazy.  This is what little sisters do and we love them anyway.

So little sister F got to hang out with us and she kicked our butts.  Seriously.  I never had such a bad game of Sorry in my life.  It took about 15 turns to even get one pawn out of Start.  By then F already had one home.  Once we finally got to the bottom of the cards and reshuffled, A and I were able to get some pawns around the board.  We made a slight comeback when we teamed up on F (that's right, the grown up and the high school-er picking on a little kid) and thought we might have her.  But alas, her lead was too great, the divide to vast, and A and I had to admit defeat to an 11 year old. 

It was fun to see the dynamic between A and her little sister.  It is cute to see the attitude little sisters give big sisters because we are always right (because we are).   I can definitely tell that A takes on a lot of responsibility but she really could get F to help out if she needed. I will talk to her more about that next week.  Next week, we go back to ZUMBA!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mentor Monday: Catch Up Time!

It's a rainy, yucky day and I'm up early for once.  It is also Mentor Monday so I figured I should get on here and blog since I've been away so long.  I really want to keep up the practice of writing but I have a feeling early mornings and late nights are going to be needed to accomplish that.  So with out further ado, I give you
Mentor Monday:
I've been meeting pretty consistently with A, my mentee.  Holidays tend to fall on Mondays so we had to adjust the schedule.  Since I am behind I think I'll break it down:

How it is going:

A is a talented, funny, artistic girl who is very much 15 years old.  15 is apparently a very hard year to live through.  I seemed to forget this but when talking to K the intern she reminded me, "Kelly, every day is the worst day of your life when you are 15."  Thinking back, she is right.  10th grade, not so fun.  Moving on.   

It is a challenge to get A to say what she wants to do rather than worrying about what I would like to do.  One meeting we spent coming up with a plan for our meetings because the hour goes by very quickly and I also need to know what to wear.  Doing Just Dance 3 in a black dress and bare feet is not something I want to repeat again.  It took the full hour to come up with a three session plan, which shows you how difficult it was to get her to just say what she wants.

What we've been doing: 
Me trying to copy A's art

A's art...much better than mine
I had to make one for Dolly, K the intern got one too!
The world's worst sugar cookies
Some day, I promise to learn how to do a photo collage, I am sure Picasa makes it easy.  But it's early Monday morning and that is just not happening right now.   
As you can see above, A is an artist so we spent one session drawing, one session coming up with a list, after planning so I could bring work out clothes, we started a ZUMBA video series with the instructional party which really informative.   I've been doing ZUMBA for a few years and for the most part I've just learned as I went along.  Having them moves broken down and taught one by one helped me realize why I trip up some of the steps.  Next time we'll do one of the work outs.  The last session we baked cookies.  The world's worst sugar cookies that everyone else claimed they liked. I  didn't realize that sugar cookies from scratch (as opposed to Betty Crocker) need to set.  These did not set and we had to mix them with a hand mixer because that was all we could fine (at first).  Hand mixer, you know one of these puppies:  
Not the best way to create cookie dough.  They were thick and dry so we slathered them with homemade lime frosting (once we found a real mixer) and called it a day.  Hopefully her younger siblings enjoyed them, with a big glass of milk.

Going forward:
Tonight I am looking forward to a game night, probably Apples to Apples and then adding to the schedule.  We are going to exercise every other week so next week will probably be ZUMBA.  I am going to continue to encourage her to speak up for herself and tell others what she wants. It isn't an easy thing to do, especially when she takes on a lot of responsibility for her younger brothers and sisters.  Hopefully our sessions are a place where she can be free, confident, and have time to focus just on herself.