Monday, December 31, 2007

Mom's gotta brag, if ya don't mind

Yep, uh-huh, I am very, very proud! My daughter took the Suffolk County Police Exam quite a while ago--maybe in the spring? She's been waiting for some kind of response. NYC sends out a a notice. Well, she found out yesterday that Suffolk simply publishes the scores on line.

They only publish the names of those who passed. In this case, we're talking 27,000 applicants. That's thousands, folks.

My daughter got a 90!!!

And her rank was just a bit under 3400. I'm terrible at math, but that surely puts her close to the top 10%!

Now, they take students into the police academy here every six months. There are other tests that have to be taken, which will narrow the playing field. And Katherine does have to work on her weight issues. She says this is great motivation! I can see her in the academy in about a year, maybe 2.

Oh, and for the record...the next police exam isn't until 2011!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

After Christmas Sales

I'm not buying too much 'after Christmas' stuff this year. I need to downsize as much as possible, since we'll be moving with the next few years into a much, much smaller house. That is...when the adult kids finally move out. (I'm in no hurry. Don't tell my husband...but my kids could live with us forever, for all I care.)

Still, I did pick up a few things. CVS and Target are both at 75% off here. I had been collecting snowman plates, etc. for Christmas Eve. I had one serving bowl, but I bought another one for about 1.50. You can never have enough bowls. I had a surfeit of wrapping paper for several years now, also bought on clearance, but noticed this year that I've almost used up my stash. Tonight, I bought a big box of paper, ribbon, bows, etc. for less than $4. It's supposed to wrap 30 gifts, but I guess that depends.

Regarding gift wrap, try to find some that is 'non-Christmasy' to use through the year. Don't forget that red is great for Valentine's & Fourth of July and Green is perfect for St. Pat's or the background of any spring or summer-themed package.

I picked up some fabric ribbon for $3-ish. The colors are various and so are the widths, so this will go into my sewing supplies. This particular package had 5 spools. If you sew, or make hair ribbons for a little girl, it's a great buy.

I would recommend checking Target for some nice ornaments to put away for a wedding shower gift. My mother used to give sets of ornaments, and they were always appreciated. Most of us remember having 'Charlie Brown' trees as newlyweds because ornaments are expensive, and the last thing you're thinking about when first married.

I bought a set of fabric-lined, nesting baskets. They are white wicker and the fabric is red, green and white striped. I'm using them for sewing storage in my office...which I have been rearranging this week. But that's a whole 'nuther post.

Enjoy the rest of 2007! And if you figure out where it went... let me know!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

That Green Blouse

See, I really did finish it. Which is good, 'cause it's been hanging in my closet forever. Well, maybe for six months or so. As you can see, I'm wearing it with a lacy t-shirt. It is my own design from an altered pattern, as you already know. Which means I'll never make anything like it again, LOL!

When I say I altered the pattern, btw, I mean from a design standpoint, not structurally. That is very, very easy to do. Easy or not, I'm glad I'm done with it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Christmas Dress

I actually finished it. Don't laugh at me, but the belt is from a satin robe. I needed 'something.' I got a lot of compliments on it. One of my daughter's friends said she never knew I had such nice legs (I live in jeans or longer skirts), but I disagree. My legs are my most hated feature--they are short and stumpy, LOL! This is why I will never, ever wear shorts, no matter how hot it gets.
I would make this dress again because it went together so easily, but I'd make some changes. A)I'd make it a half size smaller--just cutting between size 18 and size 16. If you sew, you'll know that pattern sizes are nothing like retail sizes. I'm certainly not an 18, or a 16. (Mostly I'm a 14, sometimes a 12.)
I'd also add at least an inch to the bottom. I could get away with something this short when I was 16 (and it does have a '70s' look to it, doesn't it?), but not at 51. Sitting gracefully in a short dress is a talent best left to the very young.
Actually, since I don't 'dress up' much, I might add something around the bottom of this to give it a little length, so I can wear it as a work dress.

BTW, I did finish the green blouse, which I wore Christmas day. I'll post about that on a future date.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Reindeer Pup takes it back

No need to mail your gifts to Mom2fur. Mom2fur is freaking-out happy this Christmas morning.

Mom2fur's family made a dream come true!

They gave me an HP Pavilion Laptop Computer!!!!!! And a photoprinter to go with it!!!!!

It plays DVDs and does all kinds of cool things. So far, I'm not on the internet (so I'm doing this on my desktop), but my oldest son will help me with that later...after he finishes watching "A Christmas Story."

May all of your Christmas Days be as joyous as mine!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Great Reindeer Pup Commands You... are under my power.

You will send all your Christmas presents to my mommy, Mom2fur...
You can not resist...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday: Dress

Please visit Shereen's Blog "Waiting for Him" for more Sew Crafty Friday goodies!

This might be my Christmas Eve party dress if I can finish it in time. It's hard to tell from the photo, but it is a princess line dress. I find that silhouette very flattering. I think it is a little plain, so I have to figure out what to do with it. I actually have a burgundy-colored velveteen blazer that looks nice over it.

All I have to do is the hems, neckline and zipper. I plan to hand baste the zipper in place today. If I have time, I'll sew it in.

I'm still working on the green blouse. I have the binding pinned around the neckline, so it's just a matter of a few minutes to sew it on. That will be my Christmas Day top, which I wil wear with black pants.

I haven't worn a dress in years. I'm more of a skirt person, if I'm not wearing jeans. But this was so easy to put together. And if I don't do it up too fancy-shmancy, I can wear it to work, too. Being Sorta Frugal, if I'm going to spend money and time making something...I want to get good use out of it! anyone else as NOT ready for Christmas as I am?????

Wanna Play Tag?

I found a fun 'meme' over at Susan's blog, "Blackberry Creek." Here's what you do:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

These are my answers:

A. Some of you know this already, but I'm a published author. Back in the 80s and early 90s, I published 12 books in the horror/supernatural genre. About 4 years ago, I published 3 books for a series called "Journey to America." They are aimed at the 9-12 year old reader, and each book is about a child who immigrated here from a different country: Ireland, Poland and Cambodia. Chances are pretty good they are in your local library.
Alas, the market for historical fiction has been replaced by wizards and dragons. I'm not currently working on anything. Oh...and I'm fairly broke. Between taxes and life, I didn't make a lot of money on any of my books. It's pretty hard to be a really successful horror author in the shadow of Stephen King.

B. I have a 'thing' about Vincent D'Onofrio and am a BIG Law & Order: Criminal Intent fan.

C. I hate sports and I hated gym. Totally s*cked at it. I'm not a total klutz but I'm not the very graceful, either. (I can't skate either, Susan.) Back then, you got a grade in gym, not a pass/fail like now. I like today's system better.

D. The first time I saw my future husband (I was 15, he was 17), it was from across the street. He was mowing the lawn and all sweaty with his long hair hanging around his face. I thought, 'yuk.' The only reason my friend pointed him out was because she was hoping to date his best friend. The second time I saw him, which is when I was actually introduced to him, I thought he had the most beautiful eyes I'd ever seen...and I somehow knew I'd be with him. It was just a gut feeling, but boy, was I right!

E. I am a Beatles fan, Susan--but my tastes really lean towards Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. I love Broadway musicals. I've been a 'Sweeney Todd' fan for years. I can't wait to see the movie, although I doubt Johnny and Helena pull it off as well as the originals, Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury.

F. I bet you sounded darling when you sang "Oh, Holy Night," Susan. My Christmas 'stage' experience was to dress up as an elf when I was in the first grade and hand out goodies in the classroom. I don't remember it much. I just have a feeling I wasn't embarassed by the costume--like I would have been by second or third grade.

G. Even though I'll be 52 in January, I still like chocolate milk and sweet cereals. Bring on the Nesquick and Cocoa Puffs! (But my drink of choice is Folger's with French Vanilla Creamer.)

I'm supposed to tag 7 people, but I'm going to do it the way Susan did wanna play, then TAG! You're IT!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WFMW: Christmas Folder

Shannon's hosting a Christmas Hints Works for Me Wednesday today:

Here is my tip. It's one of those, 'why didn't I do this years ago?' tips. This year, I'm keeping a Christmas Folder!

In it, I have my menus, my shopping lists, craft ideas, recipes and anything else related to Christmas. My food lists are divided into columns: 1. Recipe Name 2. What I have on hand 3. What I need to buy and 4. The status of the recipe (is the dough made? Is something already cut up and ready to cook? Or is it frozen and ready to take out Christmas Eve?)

For gifts, I keep record of what I've bought, what I have already, and what projects I'm making--with notes on what I need to finish.

Everything is in one place. I actually misplaced the darn thing a few days ago, but happily found it exactly where I'd left it--only buried under some circulars.

It's nothing but a green plastic folder left over from school supplies. I'm going to put ideas in there for next year, too. And I'll make notes as to what worked, and what didn't. All I'll have to do then is just put the folder away in one of my Christmas Boxes. (Probably with the Manger, since that's always the first decoration that comes out!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If you want to see something I made...

...pop over to "She's Sew Pretty." I sent Betty my gift for the "Pay It Forward" swap last week. I'm glad that she likes it!

If I get reeeaaaalllly ambitious, I'll do a tutorial on it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

Gee, maybe I'll actually finish this in time to wear it for Christmas Eve. I only have to do the binding.
Trying it on, I found two things: one, the neckline is waaaaay too low. The second is that the sleeves look choppy on me.
Solution to neckline problem: layering. I happen to have a lightweight, rose-colored t-shirt with a wide lace trim around the neck (also a v-neck). It goes perfectly with this.
Solution to sleeve problem--shoving the sleeves up to my elbows. It just made the whole silhouette look much better on me.
I've been working on this off and one for ages now, and will be so happy when I finish. I altered it in both design and fit. If I use the basic pattern again, I'm going to add at least an inch around the neckline.
Please visit Shereen's blog, "Waiting for Him" for more fun with Sew Crafty Friday! And play along, too!

Gosh, I thought I was more like Eeyore

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

I mean, Eeyore's my favorite. I can be very mopey like that. Well, it does say 'even if you are a bit slow sometimes.'
My favorite "Sesame Street Character" is Mr. Snuffleupagus. You know...floppy and cuddly. Like Eeyore and Pooh Bear. That's me...floppy and cuddly. I would live in flannel pajamas, if I could.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Meme

I found this over at a cute blog called I thought it was a lot of fun!

1.What is your favorite Christmas carol? "Oh, Holy Night."

2.What is your favorite secular Christmas song? I keep thinking of ones that really aren't secular, like "Carol of the Bells." Hmmmm...I guess ""Winter Wonderland."

3.What is your favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and White Christmas--I couldn't choose one!

4.What is your favorite Christmas memory growing up? Going to New York City with my mom. We'd hit Radio City Music Hall almost every year. Can you imagine--$5 for reserved seats, and we got a movie with the show! Oh, and every bank and department store had some kind of little show or Santa, and you always got something to bring home. And nobody made you pay a fortune for a photograph.

5.Do you shop early or are you a late shopper? Somewhat late, but it isn't my fault. My family isn't all that great about letting me know what they want. It was easier when the kids were little!

6.Is your tree real or artificial? Real

7.Do you still put tinsel on your tree? No. My mother used to lay it on our tree one strand at a time. We kids would just throw handfuls and let them fall where they may. Used to drive mom nuts.

8.Do you read the Christmas story every year on Christmas day? Only when my kids were little.

9.Would you consider yourself to be a Grinch? I'm not as generous as I'd like to be, due to lack of funds. But my heart is as big as the reformed Grinch and I do the best I can...wanna come over for hot chocolate and cookies?

10.Are you more like Scrooge or Father Christmas? When it comes to shopping malls...Scrooge. Bah, humbug to crowds! (I love shopping on line, LOL!) Otherwise, definitely Father Christmas--or can I say, "Mrs. Santa."

11.Do you make homemade gifts for friends and family? Yes. Which you'll know if you read this blog.

12.What was the worst Christmas present you ever received? I can't think of anything. If someone was nice enough to give me something, I appreciated it. Oh...I do have to mention the chestnut roaster for a fireplace that my bil gave us. Much appreciated, since I love chestnuts. Useless...since we don't have a fireplace.

13.What was your favorite Christmas present ever? I'm supposed to choose? The most recent one would be a sapphire and diamond necklace from my husband. A nice set of dishes from my kids. My Kitchenaid stand mixer. A kitten named Nutmeg (who is now a big fat cat).
As a teen...a stereo system from my dad. A heart-shaped ring with a little ruby inside from Mike.
As a little kid...a doll named Honey Claire (my name is Clare, btw) with white hair you could color with Markers.

14.On the average how many presents do you buy for each of your kids? There were more when they were little and you could find things cheap. As big kids, 3 or 4 with a few stocking stuffers.

I tag anyone who wants to play!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Gift for my Nephew

If there's one thing my two-year-old nephew John has plenty of, it's toys. So I asked his mother what to give him for Christmas, and she said, 'nothing.' Well, okay, we went a little further and I learned that he does like to draw pictures. (Scribble, I should say.) So I made up another crayon roll, this one with big crayons made for little hands. I had all the fabric and the ribbon on hand, so the only purchase was the crayons themselves. Isn't the 'harlequin' print fun?
I'm also making him a fleece top and pants, which I will photograph and show when I'm done. The only toy I'm buying him is a set of those gigantic cardboard bricks that come in colors. He loves building blocks (his mom says he plays with the "Thomas" blocks I gave him all the time), so this is a toy I think will encourage creativity and that he'll really enjoy. Honestly, when we visit, he seems to prefer our company to anything in his toy box. He's very sociable.
The big blocks come unfolded, and there are 24. I plan to make up about 6 or 8 of them to wrap for Johnny, and to give the remainder to his parents to store for the future. I doubt a kid that young needs 24 blocks to play with--he mostly just likes to line them up and stack them.
Anyone out there making anything for a child this Christmas?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beauty by Becka

The lovely Becka of made this swag! I bought it from her Etsy shop a while back (for a very reasonable price, I might add!) and now it decorates the top of my stair rail. It measures more than 2 feet across.
I'm hoping to do Etsy--eventually. But if you are looking to support some very nice people (many of them moms!) who make wonderful handcrafts, Etsy is the place to go. Becka's got some nice new things on her blog, so check them out! (And enjoy her blog, too!)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday: Cookies!

My daughter's friend's daughter came over today and we made spritz cookies. I got to use my new cookie press that I bought on sale at Michael's a while back. It's a Wilton and really nice. My last one 'died' and I'm glad, because this one is so much nicer. Angelina, who is 8, had a ball helping me.

Hey, and don't forget to visit Shereen over at "Waiting for Him" for more Sew Crafty Friday fun!
Here is the recipe:
Spritz Cookies
(Makes about 7 dozen)
1 Cup butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (this really makes them taste good, but I suppose you could double the vanilla instead)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 Cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and extracts.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
Fill cookie press and press dough shapes 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Decorate with colored sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes* or until edges just begin to brown.
Cool on wire racks.
*6 minutes works in my oven but adjust time for yours.
Now, if you really want to make this easy, gather all your ingredients ahead of time. I put my dry ingredients in a large bag and put in two wrapped sticks of butter and an egg (unbroken--duh). I put my sugars in a smaller bag and put this inside the big bag. Then I clip my recipe to the bag. I did this 2 weeks ago. The only thing I left out was the extracts, until I made the dough.
Then, yesterday, I mixed it all together. That way, when my little friend came to visit, all we had to do was fill the cookie press and start having fun!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Last Minute Meals

Shannon over there at Rocks in My Dryer has a cool topic for this week's "Works for Me Wednesday." What do you do when you have a headache, the kids and husband are hungry, it's dinnertime--and there are 3 ingredients left in your pantry? There are quite a few fun and interesting solutions over there, so please visit!

Here's mine:

Ground beef
Jarred spaghetti sauce
Pasta--usually spaghetti

Yeah, this is an Italian house. And my husband makes 'from scratch' sauce that would knock your eyes out. But that's for Sunday. It simmers all day long and is generally loaded with sausage, beef, meatballs, brasciole or any combination of these. Definitely not a last-minute meal!

Another easy one:

Cut up chicken or pork--brown it first, please! Or use leftovers
Gravy a la Alton Brown*

Alton Brown makes the easiest gravy on earth. It wasn't until I saw this on "Good Eats" that I could make gravy. All you need is: 1/2 stick butter (2 oz.)--1/4 Cup flour (2 oz.)--1 can broth (about 2 cups.) See the 2-2-2 theme? Just keep that in mind if you want to double this! Melt the butter. Add the flour and stir with a whisk for 2 minutes or so to make a roux. Dump in the broth and stir until thick. Dump in the meat. Cook about a half hour, maybe less. I rely on my meat thermometer for everything.
Serve over noodles.

Both of these meals assume you either have salad or vegetables in the house!

Now...the real trick to surviving last-minute meals? Prepping ahead! If you bring home ground beef, don't put the package in the fridge. Brown it first, then bag it according to how much your family would need in a recipe. I even add my spices and label the bags (Taco Meat or Chili Meat, for example). The only time I don't brown my g.b. is if I plan to make meatballs with it. Meatballs are more of a production, since I also add freshly ground pork tenderloin to the mix. I make those when I'm ambitious.

If you bring home chicken, clean and trim it! Mike brought me home 2 nice Top Round steaks this week, and I picked up 2 more on the way home from the doctor yesterday. (Half price, btw!) One went into last night's dinner. The others I cut up for stew and chili, then put in the freezer.

Take a tip from Rachel Ray: Prep your fruits and vegetables ahead of time, too. (I don't know why, but I hate the word 'veggies.') Just don't do this with berries, since they'll get moldy.

Believe me, in this past week when I was sick, it was a blessing to take things out of the freezer and have them 85% ready to go! You don't have to prep the moment you get back from the grocery. Hey, I'm a mom--I know you're tired! Just make sure you do the meat within a day or two.

PS--we eat pizza almost every week. And there are nights that mom's line is: "if you can find it and make it yourself, you can eat it." Believe me, much as I like to cook--I don't cook every night!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm still talkin' fuddy...

...sort of like Cartman in Southpark. But I did go to the doctor today. I have arithromicin (sp?) and guafesin (sp again--it's glorified Mucinex, I think!) and I hope these will knock this cold out once and for all. Thanks for all the good wishes. My doctor says my lungs don't sound too bad. I really feel I'm on the road to recovery.

Speaking of which, my mother is doing much better. I need to call her, when I can talk!

I also have 8,000,000 other things to do. This is a crummy time to get sick.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I've got my second cold in a week...or maybe it's a continuation of the first one? I was feeling fine when I went out with Mike on our anniversary. No more sore throat, just coughing a little. Then my voice started to 'go' as we were driving around after. Sure is almost completely shot now. My chest feels like I swallowed a brick. I slept on the couch most of the night so my coughing and wheezing wouldn't keep my husband up.
LOL...maybe that is why we are still married after 27 years. I do my best to let him sleep at night.