Category Archives: Family- Life

My Dirty Little Secret

Local creamery, antibitoic & hormone free milk, and CHEAPER than the store brand milk!

Local creamery, antibitoic & hormone free milk, and CHEAPER than the store brand milk!

Is this a crochet post? No. But, something about me, and maybe even you. It is my dirty little secret, and maybe yours too.

Everyone has one. Some more than one.. and some say they do not have a secret, but I bet they do…  I did mention my “dirty little secret” in a past post, very subtly, without any explanation or elaboration.

Anyway…. Since most of my social life (not all) is on the internet, or well  work-life:  talking with testers, fellow designers.. editors etc. Most have had no idea about the secret – thus is that of the internet world. We can be who we want, pretend to be who wish to be…

Most of you who have read my blog over the last few years, and the old blog before I moved here.. know that naturally, I am pretty health conscious. I still have weight to lose, but for the most part, I have always ate healthy.

I buy antibiotic & hormone free milk. Heartland Creamy is what we get- aren’t the glass bottles so cool? I get a buck fifty back on each when returning the bottle.. I have kept a few, so I filter water, then pour the water in a couple of bottles. There we go, no plastic leaking chemicals into my water stored in the fridge.

Teavana Tea

Teavana Tea

Even before the big green movement, I was big on greens, big on buying organic and local… my pancake mix has always been whole wheat. Though I drink lots of coffee, I drink lots of green tea, as well as my yerba mate. Gotta love the Yerba Mate, though I have to admit, I think I like the taste of green tea better. And you know what rocks?

Two years ago my sister and her now husband got me some tea.. This place is so awesome, you can even mix different varieties to get that perfect tea! These little tin cans are resuable too and can store future purchases of tea..

Check it out, there are even little flowers in this Rose Garden tea. MMMmmm… Check out the Teavana website, in case you do not have one in a town near you (like me).

Tea closeup

Tea closeup

So anyway. How could someone be so healthy, yet have this dirty little secret? How could this person, who eats her veggies, is health conscious, almost neurotic to a point where she had a field day with her daughter’s preschool teachers for turning an eye to paint fumes infiltrating the building from another room, do anything that could definitely harm?

I am not sure. But life is full of oddities. Well what is this secret? Knowing Fire Child’s and Water Child’s teachers sometimes read this blog… knowing work-related friends and occasionally read here.. Is the reason why I have never mentioned.. nor ever felt a need to.

So what is this dirty little secret that I have been carrying around? I used to smoke.

Some may be mortified. Other may be like, “who cares.” Either way, it is subjective to each person if it really qualifies as a “dirty little secret,” and to me, it does. Some people will smoke to oblivion and blow the smoke right in your face and not give a hoot.. Some, do not bring attention to it and just a few people close to them know. Others hide it completely – closet smokers. I was in the middle.. I tried to only smoke when by myself, and only those select few people who either smoked themselves or that I felt at ease enough to smoke around and did not mind it.

I never ever thought I would be able to quit. I really didn’t. I was such a slave to them. Whenever I would go out, had to make sure I had a pack on me… Before I went to sleep, had to make sure I had some for the morning. If I had to go on a plane, my first thought was NOT would I crash (yes I have a tiny fear of planes), but rather, my first thought was, oh no how long would I have to go without a cigarette for.

Ah! How I polluted myself.

For the past couple of years, I had in my head that I wanted to quit before my birthday this past year (my bday was in December). Of course I put it off for as long as I could. For the last 4 years, I had wisdom teeth issues. To the point that I was taking advil on a daily basis, actually more like 3-times-daily basis. Finally, a dentist opened up that would accept my card, and scheduled an appt to have them looked at. He said 1 definitely needed to come out and would talk about the others later. I said fine. So the tooth extraction was set for Nov 18th.

I think I had the living kajeebers scared out of me, as people said NOT to smoke, it would cause dry socket. Well, I had a decision to make.. I decided that would be my quit day, as I could not smoke for 48 hrs. This was all on a whim. Had I not had that appt, I am not sure I would have really set a date.

From my mother's garden

From my mother's garden, that I will REALLY be able to smell this summer

I decided that to make it easier, I would use the patch. The last couple of times I tried to quit (which lasted for a day), I had horrible mood swings, to the point I was even scolding myself for something petty. That was my strongest withdrawal symptom – mood. Not cravings, not headaches, etc.. For me, it was my mood. No patience.. maybe it was psychological and I needed something to take it out on that I could not have a cigarette and so it just boiled up even more in my head.

So, the day arrived. I had my last cigarette before going in. Like, maybe 3 mins before going in. He takes my tooth out, packs it, out I go. In an instant, ALL of the pain I had in my moth was gone.. gone gone gone. My daily advil ritual ceased right then and there. I went home, and an hour or two later, put on the patch.

Could not believe it, no withdrawal, no no nothing. This is easy I thought.

Well, it did not last long. By the 5th day, I had to remove the patch. My bones (yes my bones) in my arms could not handle it. They ached.. to the point my arm would just dangle as it was too painful to even raise my hand. I guess joint or bone pain is a possible side affect, and my body did not take it in stride, at all.

So I took the patch off, but did not have a cigarette. There were no mood swings. There were some cravings. By the first month, most of those diminished. Now, only into the 3rd month, I never think about them. I never get the “oh I really want one.” No cravings. In fact, I cannot stand the smell of smoke now. I never ever ever thought I would be this way, as I was a smoker and I really liked my cigarettes :)

I know I will never smoke again. One of Water Child’s friend’s mother is a smoker, big time. I told him next time to bring a set of clothes here I can wash and keep for him when he comes over so he can change into.. because the stench just lingers, and lingers…

Yerba Mate Tea, check out those antioxidants!

Yerba Mate Tea, check out those antioxidants!

Even in the store, in an instant, I can tell if someone is a smoker.. or was around smoke recently. The post office is the worse.. for some reason that place when a smoker walks in, the smell is intensified. No idea why.

I feel like a new person.. It is so different being able to go somewhere and not have to check to be sure I have my smokes. I feel clean. It is healthier for me. And though I never smoked indoors, I am sure it lingered on my clothes.. So it is healthier for Water & Fire Child.

I now feel like I can do anything. I even told my mom.. if she decided to quit, I would move in with her for a month to get her through it. I think she is seriously taking me up on that offer :) I hope she does.

Sorry so long winded.. It is  just such a big thing to me, that I actually did it. I really, really did it. And I know because I told  myself I would not announce it anywhere until I was 100% sure I was a quit done never smoke again.

How To Make A Fork Flower

Here is something kind of neat, and great for young kids. I would say it would be suitable for 4-12 year olds. A 3 year old can have fun with help.

Fork Flower

I learned how to make “fork flowers” when I was in Brownies (like Girl Scouts). I think I was maybe about 5 or 6 years old. I have since taught my daughter how to make them and she loves it. Not only does she actually make something, it helps with her fine motor skills, dexterity, how to ask for help, color planning, creativity etc etc!

You can make a bouquet of flowers, use them as ribbon to decorate a gift, tie it around the wrist as a bracelet, cut them and glue them on to paper and other crafts, make fork flowers at a birthday party, have them as a classroom art project.. Mom can crochet a simple crochet headband, then weave the flowers onto it… Maybe I will add a pattern for that (will be free)!

Anyway, here is how you make your fork flower.


1. Fork (metal or plastic will do. Supervise young children so they do not go around running with forks!!)

2. 1 strand of yarn, 20 inches or as long as desired for the stem

3. Small amount of yarn for the actual flower.

For young children (3 and 4 year olds) I find that cotton yarn (like cotton-ease, or peaches & Cream) works nice. It does not “kink” up when twisting around, and does not split easily. In my example below, I am using Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Plum and Pink.


Step 1: Take your stem strand, and lay it in the center of fork, making ends even (in my example, it is plum).

Step 2: Take your flower yarn and lay it in first groove of fork from front to back, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2 inches down the front. The long end that is now laying down the back of the first groove will be your weaving strand. The stem will not be used until the end, just leave it be there. Note: Left-handers may want to begin with weaving strand in last groove instead of first.

Step 3: Take your weaving strand around the side to the front of the first prong of fork. Weave it in and out around each prong in the grooves. Tip: Sometimes, it helps me when starting to hold the short piece with my thumb as in photo below.

Step 4: At end of first row of weaving, repeat Step 2 by bringing yarn back to front but around last prong instead. Weave in and out between the prongs in the grooves.

Step 5: Continue to weave around prongs of fork, bringing yarn back to front again when reaching the end of each row.

Step 6: Continue to weave until reaching maybe a couple of millimeters from top.

Step 7: At end, cut weaving strand about 1-2 inches from top of last row.

Step 8: Bring strand of stem that is in back to front positioned in center groove of fork. You will then tie these 2 stem strands together on this side of fork.

Step 9: Tie 2 stem strands together tightly. Young children may need you to do this for them. You will see the woven strands begin to scrunch down in center where you are tying. Do not knot this yet.

Step 10: Slowly slide flower off of fork keeping ties taut. (If it is a loose tie, the flower may unravel). As in photo below, it will not look so much like a flower yet, and may appear kind of flat.

Step 11: Once the flower is completely off the fork, pull stem strands tight and you will see the flower begin to take form. Tie once more to knot.

Step 12: With fingers, gently shape “petals” to cover stem portion that has been tied around flower, and to also “puff” the flower out. Trim to short ends of weaving strand.


If a young child has difficulty weaving between each prong, try just aiming for the center prong as follows:

If children do not grasp the actual weaving part, do not worry! Just let them go at their pace and speed and make their flower a work of art! It really does not have to be woven through perfectly. They can twist around once or twice on a prong, maybe for a few rows miss the last couple of prongs all together.. it will still look like a flower, and it will be made personally by them:

I hope you enjoyed this… If you would like more tutorials from little crafty things like this to crochet tutorials, please let me know!

Things these can be used for:

– Pins (add safety pin) and give to someone as gift / brooch

– Make stems extra long and use fork flower as bow on a present

– Hair bands

– Gift bag enclosure

– Bouquet for mom or grandma (or anyone)

– Get creative, use different colors throughout the flower portion

– Many many more uses!

Happy Thursday!

I kind of lapsed this last go around of blogging.. but I am trying- honest!! I really need to ditch that all or nothing mentality I have… I either have to blog a lot, or not blog at all… for some reason, there is just no in between! So, even if there is only one word, I should blog it… but then, may lose a few readers with a one word blog post. hah.

So.. some updates… I know people have been waiting for a pic of my son bald after the team shaved their heads… here it is… though they did leave like a fraction of a millimeter of hair on his head, and the beautiful color just accentuates it, it really truly was bald!

Ok first a racap…

Before: Here is a photo at a swim meet: (A beautiful strawberry blonde)

First the whole swim team stripped their hair of color… most ended up a white brassy blonde.. some pure a real white white.

OK then each kid colored their hair to a color of their liking (or to their parents’ disliking). My son went aqua: (I actually kind of like this! Maybe it is because it matches my blog.. Nah… my son is handsome anytime, and the aqua is really cool looking )


I think he looks great… and with all the muscle he has built, when he wears jeans and a t-shirt, he looks so healthy. I think he is going to keep up with swimming. Even though the season is ending, they start practice again everyday after spring break, then also in the fall, right before the winter meets begin.

His hair is growing back fast. hasn’t been that long, but it looks great, and his friends are all like, “mine is growing at a snail pace..” So, he announced his not going to cut his hair again, until it is shaved off next year at nest year’s regionals (eek.) I was always partial to the clean cut look, sometimes, long hair with style.. what can I do? He is expressing himself and finding himself.. I can maybe drop my little hints here and there… and see if they will be taken… or maybe hide a tape recorder under his pillow “I like short hair… I like short hair…” nah……………….. lol.

Ok, on a sad note, Skyler’s test results came back a while back… it was cancer again. However, and this may be a good thing, or rather, the lesser of 2 evils and me looking at this in the best possible light that I can despite the big C word. It was a different kind of cancer. The other one was a mammary carcinoma… this one was a sarcoma, basically, a skin cancer. I find it odd that both happen one right after the other.. maybe a coincidence.. maybe something in medial science we have not yet discovered some sort of linked chain reaction in specific situations where there are some undefined common factors.. not sure. But, if it were the same cancer, it would be a poorer prognosis.

It has been a while since the surgery.. and I tell you, she is really now acting like her old self.. cannot take her outside without her 90lb body trying to fly in the air after every motor vehicle passing, giving my joints a test of their true strength… Yesterday, she rolled all over the backyard, in the snow.. then would get up play with me, as if wrestling.. Her spunk is back.. you can see her just sitting there, and panting like dogs do, and I swear she is smiling. I do believe dogs smile… and she has been smiling so much! So now, I keep a close eye. Now that she has had cancer twice in such a short period, need to watch her like a hawk. So, this is both bad news and good news.. I have had a while to come to terms with my feelings on it, and at the sadness when I first heard that it was cancer.. but after it was absorbed, it lots of fun, tlc, and thinking on the bright side.. it is a different cancer- and her spirit and everyday demeanor is evidence that she really is feeling better and not in so much pain when she did have the cancer…

Ok, off to get some work done.. I can see it is going to be a productive day today.. I blogged!

My son’s going bald, my weight loss.

I love Fridays… Kids are home, I do lots of cooking, and even though I still work, it is at my own pace. And what is great is I rented a couple of movies!

One of them I have been waiting forever to come out ever since I saw the first preview. It is definitely my kind of movie…. Becoming Jane– (link to website, and click play to see the trailor there) based on Jane Austen’s romance- the foundation of her wonderful novels. Ann Hathaway plays the role, and I utterly adore her… She was wonderful in Ella Enchanted… I HAVE BEEN WAITING SO LONG I could scream!! Sorry, I just cannot wait to relax tonigh and watch this while working on a dress pattern! What a better way to put me in the mood for designing.

No wonder Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel and movie! And my other favorite actress, Keira Knightley plays in it.. and you know what Pride and Prejudice is- it is one of Jane Austen’s novels! Ha! yes, sorry I am excited, hard to contain! Quite funny, when I went into the video store, I noticed they have 5 NEW copies of Pride and Prejudice in. I kid you not, I am sure it is because of me. I think I have rented that movie more than all the  movies I have ever rented combined, and I think I gave a few sour looks when I have them check several times to see if it is in since sometimes it was checked out.. LOL if only they knew it was me who created their chaos! haha

It is odd, many times, especially while writing my stories.. music or a movie, something that takes me away, sets the tone for my stories and projects. You know.. one of these days I should share some excerpts from my stories.. maybe even the novel I have been working on. I have bean soup cooking, the house smells lovely, an hour before I pick up the kids, another hour after dinner and clean up, then my movie time!!!

Speaking of the kids.. my son is coming home bald today! (eek). Yes, you heard it, bald, no hair… nada zip all gone. You see, my son is on the high school swim team, and it is time for regionals. A couple weeks ago, the team all bleached their hair. The subsequent week, they went color (some blue, some red, some black- my son went aqua!). Now the time comes, a week later to shave it all off. We went out to the store last night and got shaving cream and nice shavers, as he also has to shave off all the hair on his arms and legs. They do this to help their swim times… Even if only by a second or two, it could make all the difference.

So… ready to see? Here is a before, a bleach job, then an aqua job. You will have to wait for the bald shot though – That will be tonight when he comes home!

Natural Hair: Here is at one of his swim meets. See the nice strawberry blonde :)

Bleach Job: (egawds)

Bleached hair wet:


I have to admit, I think I like the aqua better than the bleach job. lol, go figure. What could I do? Say hey no you can’t do all these crazy things to your hair?! The whole team is doing it, they are all having fun… forming bonds and kinship to one another… It is the way they celebrate. Just like each day they have a swim meet, they all dress up in suits and ties going to school.. They are all such a great bunch of boys, and going down the right path.. they have to have some fun before their hair is all gone, right? I love ya kiddo!

So, on my last post, I talked about how I lost some weight.. I never really liked photos of myself – all due to my weight. I am somewhat happy with my body, but I am NOT photogenic, and well being “weighty” has definitely not helped the camera’s love for me… It is amazing, I never really knew how much I had gained until really looking at photos of myself. And it is not just a “beauty” thing.. but also a health thing too. I want to live a long, healthy quality life. So, that was it, right after my daughter’s birthday part in late October, I said it is now time. And the very next day I started. I dropped 30 lbs by Christmas. It may seem like a lot, but I think that was only because it was the beginning, and I really never stuck to a diet more than week.

Ok, so cannot believe I am going to show these photos! But hey, gotta have courage. Here I am in June of 06.

Here is a photo of me at my daughter’s party in late October.

Ok, and now here I am 2 months ago at Christmas! And yes these I think are the first photos of me with my hair down :)

I do feel I look better, and I know I feel better. I went from a size 18/20ish to now a 14. My 16s still fit, and the 14s are a bit snug, but I like to say I wear a 14 :) lol But the thing is, before, I could not even get a leg into my 14s and now I can snap them up no problem. I do not really have a goal.. I have a dream goal to be a size 6! But, I do not think I was a size 6 at 12 years old even… But hey, you never know! Anyone want to go in on this with me and be like virtual world losing weight pals??

Another goal is to start going to the gym more. I now have a YMCA pass for both the kids and myself.. I ought to start utilizing it! How did I lost this weight? No diet pills. No shakes, no deprivation. No gimmick fad, no anything. I had researched a lot of diets, and well, I just really hate restrictions. I definitely did NOT want something that could be unhealthy. The best diet I found was the South Beach Diet. It was originally designed by a medical doctor for his patients with heart disease, high cholesterol etc.

There are basically 3 phases. The first phase, all carbs are cut out, and lasts for 2 weeks. That means NO carbs of any kind, including fruit. If anything, the first Phase is the only part that takes any heat. It also includes sugar, (no sugar in the coffee), nothing starchy like potatoes, bread, pasta etc. It very much emphasizes LEAN meat, (not fatty meats like bacon and burgers). Fish, chicken breast, sirloin, etc. It also has a great emphasis on veggies- that part I liked since I am a HUGE fan of veggies.. think I put onions in about everything.

The main reason for this, (I am NOT a doctor, this is only what I learned through research) is to break the insulin dependence the body has on foods high on the glycemic index. Others have deduced this phase is not even necessary, but that it is good in that it teaches one different, but better eating habits.

This phase was hard for me, as I am a potato gal. Not so much chips and such, but I love sugar in my coffee, and I love potato anything. But I did it and followed the first 2 weeks to a T. I lost about 14 lbs.. and not just water, but I really did feel it in my waist line. Now, losing weight that fast IS NOT healthy, but since it is only for 2 weeks I think it warranted following in my case.

What did I eat during this week? I ate lots and very much enjoyed it. It was hard the first few days, but I simply put milk in my coffee and adapted fairly quick. Not sure if it was the motivation aspect, or if it was something else, but it soon was just fine. I ate lots of omlettes, loaded with reduced fast cheese and onions, ham (not the sugar cured, mind ya). I also ate beans, fish, baked chicken, lots of veggies, of course, chilli etc. And what is great is you eat until you are full!! I was NEVER deprived.

How did I feel? I was quite tired the first 6 days. Almost like you had just exhausted yourself exercising.. I think that is because carbs give you energy, and your body is now changing where it gets energy from. I could literally feel both good and bad during this first 5 days how bad my body was from eating so many refined things. By the second week, I was feeling much better and getting some energy, and really felt lighter in my step.

The second Phase, carbs are brought back in, but only healthy ones. Fruit, complex carbohydrates such as Whole grain bread, whole wheat bread ( notice the emphasis on whole) , fruit, etc. You do not lost weight fast on Phase 2 and you stay on Phase 2 until you reach your goal. You do not eat the birthday cake, refined carbs (white bread etc), but you stick with whole foods, whole grains etc. I continued to lose on this regime, maybe 1-3 lbs a week. The last 4 weeks I have not lost anything but have not gained anything. I attribute this to eating some refined carbs, not watching my portions as close as I should and lack of exercise but you know what the weird thing is??

I have NOT gained one pound back. So I really believe the first 2 weeks is needed to retrain the body how it uses energy. Every single diet I have tried, I always gained it all back, plus 10 lbs. This is the first I have ever kept it off and did not gain any back. I know if I cut out the refined carbs (have pizza with whole wheat crust instead of white, etc) I will start losing again. So, I plan to work harder at this and get back into the groove. Let me know if anyone wants to change their eating habits with me! Of course, always see a doctor before changing anything and ask your doctor if this diet would be good and safe for you.

Skyler’s Surgery

Well, I called at 11:30 PM yesterday to find out how the surgery went, and the lady said they were just finishing up and for me to call at 2PM. That was a long wait, and I was quite unhappy to have to wait.

I called at 2PM, and the vet said it looks exactly like the tumor that was removed 6 weeks prior. I asked him to send it in for pathology just to be sure it is not benign, and in case maybe it is something else. He said he was 99% sure it was malignant, and it was twice the size of the one he removes previously.

I brought her home at 4 PM, and she slept the whole day and night. Today she slept all day again but did get up this morning for some water. This evening she seems to have a bit more energy, in that she is lifting up her head more, and wanted to go out. She barked a couple of times outside, most likely as an animal or maybe someone walking near. It should be about a week before we get the pathology results. It will take a miracle for it to not be the cancer again. If it is, that is not a good thing at all.

I will keep you all posted on what I find out. Yesterday I have been trying to keep busy, trying not to think of it too much.

Other than that, we all have been dealing with colds, earaches, runny noses and the like. I do not think my nose has stopped running this winter yet! Between both of the kids bringing me their germs, and then all these crazy weather changes, it does not surprise me I am the eternal waterfall! hehe

Sorry so short, but time for me to get a few things done and maybe get a good night’s rest..

Happy 3!

We are back! As some of you may know.. we went away for a few days.. and then it was the happy catch up game with everything! Anyway.. on to the highlights!

Happy 3 to my darling little girl… What a celebration it was!! Cannot believe it. Where has the last 3 yrs gone?? We went to Chuck E Cheese for her birthday party. She really had no interest in Chucky the mouse.. but, she did have a lot of interest in the slide in the tot area! She tried to go down the big one, but she wasn’t yet long enough to climb up the vertical “steps.”

The cake was absolytely gorgeous. The photos just do not do it justice. My daughter has a fascination with butterflies and flowers.. so the whole theme was flowers and butterflies. (sorry Chucky!)

Here are some memories to cherish:


It was quite funny. Our party hostess lit up the candles. Immediately, Liv blew them out. So, he lit them again. And once again, Liv blew them out without hesitation… lol. So, once again he lit them. I told her to wait… we all sang happy birthday (the whole family was there), well she made it halfway through the song before blowing them out- luckily I got this photo right in time!! (Notice the butterfly wings on her :)

Playing the bee game with her big brother- she has to catch these balls flying all around in a net, them dump them into a hole to get tickets:

Another fascination: horses

And here she is with grandma picking flowers off the deck in the backyard at grandma’s house:

We all had a great time. Grandpa took her out back to show her the chipmunk he feeds everyday.. They sat there, she on his knee, watching.. waiting.. and then they both screamed when the little guy appeared. Later, grandpa had to change the oil in her auntie’s car.. so here she is giving grandpa a helping hand:

So, it was a wonderful time.. we got away for a bit.. and the kids had a blast. And the weekend was absolutely gorgeous, especially for October… in the upper 70s and lower 80s… and then of course, when we get back… it gets cold.. but at least not too cold.. 50s and 60s is my kind of weather!

And well.. I had to take this photo.. the way our dog sleeps/.. I guess she missed us so much she has to keep wrapping herself up in our blankets and sleeping on her back! Hehe…

Well.. I have lots more to catch up on and will write again in the next couple days.. maybe even tomorrow.. I had a couple deadlines.. which I will tell you all more about.. Off to finish playing catch up!!