Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cookies are made of butter and love. ~Norwegian Proverb

It's that time - Christmas Treats Everywhere!  At the office - At home - At the parties - At school - You can't avoid them - I don't even try.

Below are some helpful tips and recipes I've twiddled across during my distracted forays into the web:

From one of my favorite sites - TipNut.com - Bake Cookies Like A Pro and 12 Quick & Easy No-Bake Cookies

Martha's always good for some great tips and recipes - She even has an App for cookies!

Betty Crocker and Pillsbury (Those two are both owned General Mills.) are timeless classics - Check out Betty's Homemade Gift Section too!

Better homes & Gardens (or BHG) even gives you the very basics of baking along with great recipes.

Paula Deen's is also a good resource.

Oh! and if you're looking for some last minute DIY's - You should definitely check out some of my recent Pinterest Pins! for Reinbeers, I-Spy Bottles & Ornaments, Lavender Sachets and Bath Soaks, Sweater Sleeve Wine Bags, A DIY Ice Cream Sundae Kit and Gift Bags to wrap it all up!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seven Helpful Habits for ADDers

Every adult with ADD has special talents. The trick is to uncover them–and use them to achieve important goals.  by Edward Hallowell, M.D.

Do you sometimes worry that attention deficit disorder (ADD / ADHD) will hold you back? There’s no need. Everyone has special interests and abilities that can help them reach their goals. The trick is to identify these often-hidden passions and talents—and put them to work.
In more than two decades as a psychiatrist, I’ve known countless people who have managed to thrive in spite of—and often because of—their ADD. I’m thinking of people like my friend R.L., who parlayed a gift for gab and an ability to stay calm in chaotic environments into a dynamic career as a television anchorman.
Of course, I’ve also met plenty of ADDers whose careers and personal relationships were hijacked by their condition. What explains this “success gap”? Why do some ADDers struggle, while others succeed? I think it’s a matter of habits. That is, successful ADDers tend to be those who have learned to focus on their strengths and who have developed these good habits:

1. Do what you’re good at.

Everyone is good at some things, and not so good at others. Often it’s more productive to focus on improving your strengths rather than on trying to shore up your weak points. And when you must do something you’re not particularly good at? Work with family members, coaches, or tutors to find coping strategies that help you become “good enough.”

2. Keep in touch with your friends.

Good friends are essential for happiness. And friends can provide you with valuable perspective.

3. Ask for advice.

Life is tricky, but there’s no need to go it alone. Figure out whom you trust, and confer with them on a regular basis—and especially when problems arise. Ignore naysayers and finger-waggers.

4. Get enough organized.

You don’t have to be totally organized—perfect files, no clutter. That’s too hard for most ADDers and, in my opinion, nothing but a waste of your time. You only need to be organized enough so that disorganization doesn’t get in your way.

5. Find an outlet for your creativity.

What’s your hobby? Music? Karate? My outlet is writing. Life is always more interesting and fulfilling when I’m engaged in a writing project.

6. Learn to delegate.

If you’re faced with a task or responsibility that you find particularly difficult, ask someone else to do it for you in exchange for doing something for him. And don’t assume that someone else will pick up the slack for you when you don’t get things done. Ask him or her to do so. Asking for help is especially important within the context of marriage; failing to acknowledge that you are leaving the not-so-fun stuff (housekeeping, bill-paying, and so on) to your non-ADD spouse invariably leads to resentment.

7. Stay optimistic.

Everyone has a dark side, and can feel down sometimes. But do your best to make decisions and “run your life” with your positive side.

This article comes from the April/May 2007 issue of ADDitude.

Copyright © 1998 - 2010 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm full of it...

I am full of it - Gratitude - that is.

I refuse to go even one single day without consciously being thankful for something - usually it's several things.

My family. My awesome son. My amazing husband.  My job.  My health. And on and on.
I am even grateful for much that I don't have!   

It's easy to find things not to like.  It's easy to complain.  It's even easier to find bright sides. 

To CREATE your own gratitude is to find happiness.  There is a measure of peace to be felt in everything we can find to be greatful for.

I challenge everyone who reads this to start a list and add to it at least one thing everyday.  Make it pretty!

DESIGN your own gratitude!

Monday, November 14, 2011

What I'm making - Wine Cork Board and Beer Cap Tack Tutorial

Remember I told you I was going to be making some wine cork board/trays for my mother and sisters-in law?  Well I got two of them done this weekend and thought I'd share.  I also made some beer cap tacks to go with them.  I was unusually lucid and I had the rare forethought to take some pictures of my progress so I could post a tutorial about the tacks. - I'm thinking I might also have to include some wine charms to hang from those beer cap tacks. 

I gotta say that this whole thing was super easy - in fact the hardest part was puzzling the corks together so they fit nice and tight in the trays.

I had originally planned on using picture frames that I picked up at the thrift store, but on a recent foray into my local Ross, I found these beautiful trays for $6 each.  They're really too nice to cover with corks, but there ya go. 

So the rule for the day - If you want an amazing end result, you have to start with quality ingredients/supplies.

Box o' corks and my $6 tray - I used real corks rather than the rubber variety, simply because I think they have more character and it's easier to insert tacks in to them.

Lay them all out.  You may need to cut one or more in half or thirds with a sharp utility knife to make them fit snugly.

Keep your band-aids handy! 

Then hot glue them in one at a time - To the tray and to each other - Use the High Temp glue in case it's used as a trivet so a hot casserole dish won't undo all your work.

For the beer cap tacks, you'll need flat and round pliers, strong adhesive, beer caps, a straight pin and some resin.  I used Mod Podge Dimensional Magic.

First bend your pin at a right angle

Then use the round pliers to bend, first one way, then the other, to make a swirl - You can do an actual swirl or whatever - the idea is to give your pin more substance for a base to hold it in the cap.


Use your super strong glue and stick the pin to the cap.

When it's dry, fill the cap with the resin to cement to whole thing.

Allow to dry at least two days. 

Tack on your tag, wine charms, gift certificates and GIVE!  = >

Cheers! Salut! Prost!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What're you making?

I ususally make most of the gifts I give to family - The exception being my husband and son who prefer electronics, sporting equipment, toys and gadgets - But everyone else gets goodies I make. 

In years past I've made gift sets of Dip & Rub mixes and mixes for soups and breads all packaged with my meal saver and wrapped in handmade burlap sacks, dish towels or oven mitts.  I've made liquers and ornaments and hand woven rugs, crocheted scarves and yummy soaps too.  (A lot of these can be found in my shop)

I usually make too much.  Enough so that I inadvertently make my relatives a bit uncomfortable.  In fact that's how my Etsy store came about - With my husband asking what I intended to do with all the stuff I made.

This year I'm making wine cork boards/trivets with beer bottle cap tacks for the grown ups and manicure and travel baglets for the nieces.  (I was considering some funky monster fur leg warmers, but simply don't have time to test my sketchy sewing skills.)  I've also been making jams, jellies, salsas and loaves of bread that I've frozen to bring for the holidays.

I'm very interested in what others give for presents.  One never knows what will inspire the next fit of manic creativity.  I'm posting this question on here and on my FB @ adcdpage, on my twitter feed @idahocrystals and I'm also pinning any pictures that I can find that may inspire you on my Pinterest boards.

So - What are you giving?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brutal HonEtsy...

...Some unsolicited observations
from an Etsy underachiever...
You know those posts on the forums of Etsy?  The ones where people whine because they're not selling anything and they can't understand why people aren't lining up to throw money at them for making those profound works of art and amazing macaroni bracelets?   When you visit their site, you're speechless because you can't think of where to start? 

I've seen a couple from some obviously left-brained crafters that made me close the thread and back away - I couldn't possibly spend the rest of the day giving them the same tired advice they could have found in the thousands of other threads from similarly dissillusioned, asthetically- challenged crafters - and still be nice about it.  (Regretsy anyone?)

 Some of these poor "Martha-bees" had some pie-in-the-sky expectations about selling hundreds of creations and having product fly out of their shops as soon as they created the listing.  Some are truly mystified as to why they're not eeking out a living wage with their Etsy shop.

The Quit Your Day Job Series is a wonderful aspiration, and I've seen a few snippets that do a pretty good job of glossing over the Raman-Mac N' Cheese budget most of the actual subjects have finally attained.   Those articles make them sound so romantic!  Seriously, no mention of health insurance or vacations or retirement planning or other "luxuries" that most evil capitalists consider important. 

Remember, there's a reason they're called starving artists and, just like celebrities and professional athletes, the one's who do make bank are the exception, not the rule. 

If you're really mystified as to why you're not selling more of your stuff, here are some questions you might ask yourself:

1* What are your goals? - Do you really want to quit your day job?   Can you plan on working night and day until you can?  Do you need a regular paycheck, health insurance and a retirement plan?   Are you a stay-at-home parent and is it realistic for you to spend 8 - 12 hours running your business or will your TV be taking your place with your kids?

2*What do you know about starting or running a business?  Like any other venture, you get out of it what you put in to it.   Working full time online, might  earn you a part time income.  Running a successful business online or in a brick & mortar store will always take far more time & effort than if you work for "The Man".

At last Google, there were over
half a million results for
so you can get some input from
people who are undoubtedly
more driven to sell than I am...

3*Is your market saturated? - There are literally millions of jewelry listings and hundreds of thousands "photos" or bath and body products.  What's going to make your thing rise above all the rest?  Where and how will your creation stand out? 

And speaking of unique -
4* Can anyone make what you're selling?
   - If it's pretty easy and requires very little time or skill to produce, why would anyone pay to have you make and ship it to them?   There are litterally thousands of jewelry makers on Etsy and 10 times that many beads strung on to widely sold findings or those "ooak" pieces of mass produced crap hot-glued or jump-ringed together - (Cabochons?!  UHG! I can't be the only person to think these things are creepy!)
         If you started making stuff as gifts for friends and relatives and they suggested you start selling it, you have an idea.  If you do the research and find out your product makes a nice gift, but people just won't pay you enough to make it profitable or you can buy something that looks nearly identical elsewhere for $2.00 - it's time to rethink.

And finally - Lights, Camera, Blah -
5* WHAT is that?! ~vs~ I didn't even see it
    - You're making an amazing and really unique product - but who would know because it looks like you took those pictures in your basement.  You've obviously seen the pictures Etsy (and buyers) seem to love.  Those muted color, bright, clean, glossy magazine-type photos can be of your product, no matter what kind of digital camera you use.  Really!  My phone takes better pictures than my camera!
*Does your camera have an exposure adjustment?  -Turn it up.
*How about that Macro? - Play with your close ups.
*Do you spend time editing your phots? - You don't need Photoshop - just a regular FREE program like Gimp or PicNik or Photscape or any of these others.

These are just a few things to think about -  The next step would be marketing - But that is a whole other can of SEO worms and will definitely require a post all it's own...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wait!... Don't eat that! It hasn't been tested!

Every year it happens - One of the biggest threats to the physical and emotional health of parents and children alike, all over the U.S.   People are forced to walk for miles, knocking on doors, dressed in clothing not fit for the light of day, begging for tooth-rotting, hyperspastic-coma-inducing, pre-packaged sugar.
The parent tasked with supervising the minature walking dead is especially troubled when that strange, awful day happens on a Monday.  A school night.  When it's even more pressing that all the little goblins must be repeatedly chastised to "Wait." 

"Wait" is the four-letter word of the evening.  It is the mantra of parents everywhere.  Wait until after dinner.  Wait until it's dark-ish.  Wait for us to catch up.  Wait to eat the candy. - It's that last bit that's the hardest for the munchkins.  But the threat of the poisoned treat; The razor blades in the apples, (As if anyone gives out apples anymore.) The LSD-laden candy bar - Those are the threats parents rely upon. The urban-legends of scary wrong things hiding in those sweet, chocolate-covered pieces of bliss that help us keep our children fearful and safe until we can fulfil our parental duty to "Check the Candy".

It is a truly thankless and vital responsibility we must shoulder.  Many parents just can't or won't step up and take the bull by the horns to do whatever it takes to ensure our children remain safe and healthy.  Many of these so-called caring adults actually allow their offspring to eat un-inspected food gathered from strangers! 

It's a burden I'm willing to shoulder to ensure the safety and well-being of my own demented spawn.  Even if I must test each and every piece of chocolate myself, I will persevere.

For I am the parent of a Trick-or-Treater and that makes me:  The Official Candy Tester.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's just so "Out There"...

To post or not to post - Or - That which is seen cannot be un-seen...

Being new to this blogging platform, but not so new to life online, I've experienced the epiphany of just how careful one must be when putting things "out there" on the web.  There's always that hesitancy to post anything because of the weight of knowing what I write and send in to the vastness of cyberspace cannot be taken back. 

Moderating myself isn't really a new concept for me, but it is something I admittedly need to practice.  I've spent my whole life saying things out loud that a more diplomatic person would instinctively know not to say. 
A lot of those thoughts can be chalked up to not engaging brain before mouth.  Many times, what I think is a completely neutral observation is someone else's insult.  I have, on many occasions, skipped out on giving feedback about something simply because I had nothing nice to say.  I can be brutally honest - please don't ask if you don't really want my honest opinion.

I’m also conflicted about moderating myself too much – I mean, on the one hand, it’s my blog and I’ll write what I dern well want to write and on the other, I'm thinkin' how silly it is that some people are so quick to let their hackles rise or get their feelers bent.  Sometimes I think they just enjoy the drama.  I mean really, a lot of people could be a lot happier if they didn't hang on to stuff so much. Grow a thicker skin. Ya' know?

I don't have too many thin-skinned friends. Most of my friends understand that I am a really nice, loyal, fun person with less than my share of tact.  I don't say purposely hurtful or mean things, but I may say something that can be taken much differently than I intended. 

Does it bother me to burn a bridge?  Rarely.  What bothers me more are bridges to nowhere.  Loose ends. Dangling participles.  Closed relationships without closure.  Those situations are where my brutal honesty works to my advantage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Randomness - Eye Candy

Going through pics on my phone - thought I'd share a few with ya'.  = >

Snowmobiling through Togwotee (ToeGuhTee - Sometimes I just like saying it out loud)

Clyde, the sweetest camel ever!  He lives right here in Nampa, Idaho!

From my front yard - The gold at the end of the rainbow
Whipped Soap Body Frosting - Birthday Cake!  Yum!
Jasmine givin' me the eye
Crank/tilt your head to the left to properly view some of my son's artwork in my office

Giant Jolly Rancher Suckers

Tilt/Crank head again - Just before I jumped out 'the plane...
Cedar Groves in Northern Idaho
Because people can hear the smile in your voice...

Wallowa Lake near Joeseph, OR

Seven Devils Mountain Range - Hells Canyon

Friday, October 14, 2011

Learning to Live with Grey Areas

Grey Areas - They're especially tough for me.  Everything is so much simpler when it's black and white.  Right or wrong. Yes or no.   When your thoughts tend to be as crowded as mine, those grey areas become a layer of Dead Sea mud in the Missouri River of my thinking.

Grey Areas are uncertainties.  They're effusive, elusive and shifting.  They're not outlined like coloring book pictures.  Their shapes are nebulous and move like smoke or water.  Bottom line:  The complete lack of definition in Grey Areas are unsettling for me.

Over the years I've come to realize that I am a grey area

I am also constantly changing, adapting and learning new ways of flowing through this space and around the lives of others.  Often I've run into great walls of rock solid opinions or cliffs of my own making.  I may have splashed, like a great wave upon someone else's shore, only to find that I've created the jagged peaks simply by my over-aggressive approach.  At other times I've encountered tranquil lagoons of stillness in others, where I wanted to stay, but the currents running through me made it impossible to remain so calm.

Lately my own Grey Areas are returning to a more centered, even flow.  While my shores and boundaries may shift, I am aware of my own banks and will more often take the path of least resistance.  I am still learning to keep more of myself together rather than splitting off into emotional or creative tributaries.  I am still learning to moderate how my will is perceived by others - to try to be aware of when my opinion is a tsunami or a changing of the tides - and to adjust.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The not-so- SECRET to Being a Great Parent

   It's a thankless labor of love with absurdly high risk, extreme emotional and financial costs and no real rate of return.  It's a paradox of feelings.  It's a personal sacrifice.  It's a great big delusion.


A lot of people out there have questions.  There are hundreds of thousands of books offering advice about parenting.  Some parents who should ask, don't. 
 "Should we even have kids?" 
"They're going to cost how much?!"  
"What can I do about my kid's behavior?"  .
"How can I help my son/daughter get better grades/make better choices?"   "Why doesn't my teen give a crap?"  
"Did they lose their *&^%$ minds?!" 
"When did I get so old?" 

I'm going to share with you the single most important thing you need to do, to be the absolute best parent in the world.
 Spend more time with your kids.

That's it - That's all you need to do. 
FOCUS on them.  Make sure you're present and the time you spend is all about your kid and you.  Spend time playing, listening to and talking with your kids.  Skip your workout.  Eat at your desk so you can leave a little early.  Spending a solid hour a day will help strengthen your relationships and give your children a more solid sense of self, stronger self esteem, a greater desire to succeed and better relationship skills. 
It will also make you younger! (OK, honestly, you'll live longer, be more hip and have more fun, but you're gonna look a lot older...)

I was going to explore reasons why it might be hard for parents to give more time, ways people might find more time to spend with their kids;  Maybe give some reasons why anyone should take my advice and some other stuff, but if you're reading this, you're probably a parent too or, at the very least, you're thinking of another parent who might benefit from a little more kid-therapy, so you already know this stuff - or you can just pass it on or hit the highlights - but all that other stuff is just going to take up more of the time you could be spending with your kid. 

Go play already...!   = >