"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These chocolate chip cookies are a family favorite. I always make them at night after the kids and after the hubby has fallen asleep on the couch because that way I can eat about 1/3 of them without anybody bothering me.  Don't judge me, I have to do it that way otherwise I would never get any at all. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick salted butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1 box vanilla instant pudding mix
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag (16 oz.) chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375­°.  In a large mixing bowl cream shortening, butter, eggs, vanilla and sugars.  In a second bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla pudding mix.  Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the first mixing bowl.   Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly sprayed cookie sheet.  Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. 


My trips to Wal-mart usually are few and far between and typically consist of me heading straight for the produce section or the pharmacy aisles.  It's not that I don't like Wal-mart, I just don't really have much use for it.  I don't go grocery shopping all that often and when I do I usually go to our local Meijer.  So, the fact that I took a meandering walk through Wal-mart last night was pretty unusual for me but I'm happy I did because I found some really cute buttons and picked up some fairly inexpensive yarn at 2 a.m.   Really can't do that at too many other stores. At least something good came out of these bouts of insomnia.

 So while I was sitting awake looking at my new little baubles I decided to put them to good use and made a crocheted bracelet.  I used a simple pattern of just plain double crochet with a single crochet border, it was 3 in the a.m. by this point after all, intricate patterns were just not feasible accomplishments that early in the morning.

The button really makes the bracelet, I think.  I have several patterns now saved in my Ravelry favorites folder that include more intricate patterns and some knitted patterns.  It's kind of nice to spend a  little time making things that are just for fun every once in awhile.   Time well wasted.  :)

On Track

Our decluttering is going well.  So far we have way more than the 14 items required by the challenge inour little bag heading for the veterans truck. It really isn't hard to find items when you have 3 young kids and a mother in law who cannot pass up a department store sale.  About a third of the clothes they outgrew were ones they only got to wear once or twice.  All this and we only went through two of six (yes, SIX) dressers of their clothes.  Ugh.

I'm Jumping In

I've decided to go ahead and join the declutter challenge mentioned in my previous post.  If anybody else wants to join in go ahead to Hoof 'n Barrel where I heard about it first or head directly over to the Single Saver blog.  
Around here we have a donation truck that stops by every so often where you can donate items to various causes (veterans, lupus, or the kidney foundation).  You place a bag of items out by your front door, mailbox, garage door or whatever and some time during the scheduled pick up day they come and whisk the bag away leaving you a brand new bag and a thank you  note. Since the goal is to donate 366 items in one year, I'm aiming for 1 item per day.  Which meant that when the truck pulled up to my house this morning I intended to have at least 8 items to give away to the truck.  In my house, 8 items really weren't hard to find and I easily met my goal.  Yay for progress! 

While I'm saving my sanity by clearing some of the clutter in my house I decided to also try to save what's left of my old, worn out furniture and crochet some coasters for the coffee table and end tables.

The picture came out a little dark but I'm to lazy today to try and fix it in photoshop.  You'll just have to imagine it a little brighter.

I had previously thought of buying new coasters until I found out that a set of four, simple, cork coasters cost around $7.50.   Needless to say I was a little appalled by that.  I'm not really a cheapskate or anything but, yeah, there was no way I was going to spend that much money for a few chunks of cork board.  I decided to crochet the coasters instead of simply cutting out cork board circles because I thought it would be a lot prettier and it was a way to use some some of my spare cotton yarn. 

I used regular old Lily Sugar and Cream Cotton yarn in ecru and warm brown.  As I mentioned, I used scrap that I had laying around but I priced them at my local Meijer and brand new they only cost about $1.79 for a 2 oz. skein.  I got 4 coasters and a matching dishcloth out of about 3/4 of a single skein of yarn.  SO, I got all of that for less than $2 and far less than the $7.50 for a new set of store bought coasters.  It pays to make your own.  There are alot of free patterns in the world for crochet coasters so I won't bother typing this one out here.  The basics are just a simple crochet circle to the size you want and then I added a very easy picot edge.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. 

The Doldrums

Around here we are definitely experiences a strong case of end-of-the-week doldrums.  The kids are feeling it.  The hubby is feeling it.  Even the dogs are feeling it.  So I thought,  "what better time to explore the jungle that I call my kitchen cabinets?"  No, that's not an exaggeration.  They are a complete mess.  Picture those closet avalanche scenes in any children's movie...that happens to me in my kitchen at least once a week. It really is insane.

Considering the clutter in my cabinets it's really no big surprise that there are items in them that I swear I have never seen before.  This cutting board, for instance, came as a complete surprise to me.

Just to show the world that I'm a complete dork, I fell in love with it.  Most people I know would probably find it really tacky.  I love tacky!  I'm serious.  If it's low-brow, backwoods, nerdy (I'm not talking Star Wars nerdy...I'm talking full-blown, Grandma-chic kind of  nerdy), cheap, country-bumpkin kind of stuff, I'm all over it.  Alright, it's out in the open now, I've officially come out of the closet and announced my shabby style to the world.  So, needless to say, this cutting board has received a place of honor on my kitchen wall.  It's faded, poorly drawn, and I'm pretty sure the chickens are up to something sketchy and those are some of it's best qualities in my eyes.  It has character. 

After sorting through about two cabinets I gave up and moved on to bigger and better things.  Things such as cleaning up some of our empty mason jars.

I have a friend who has never owned a Mason jar.  She actually seems to think they are some sort of impossible to find relic from somewhere around the Civil War era.  This amazes me since I seem to have these things coming out of my ears.  They are taking over my garage, my pantry, my life.  I think they're multiplying when I close the door.  I mean, it's ridiculous.  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't set out to hoard Mason jars.  Most of these came from Gran, or came with the house when we moved into hubby's great aunt's place, or they were snuck in bit by bit by my in-laws.   I've never bought a single Mason jar in my life.  They just seem to find me. 

After spending a full day of sorting through clutter in the garage and kitchen cabinets, and not getting rid of anything, I got online and at the top of my blog roll was a post from Hossboss over at Hoof'n Barrel talking about a declutter challenge and encouraging others to join along.  Divine providence?  Perhaps.  We may soon be seeing a new button on my sidebar. 

Bouncy Balls

Despite the rough December we've had, life and homeschooling must go on. So, we've been learning the very basics about polymers. We started with a basic definition and have moved on to the best part, the experiments! Our first project: Make our own bouncy balls!

We made our first bouncy balls from a store bought kit.  They've turned out pretty well.  They bounce without falling apart which was something I was a little worried about.  My kids managed to make them without creating a huge mess, another thing I was worried about.  The crystals come in several fun colors and come with resealable plastic baggies plus two different molds so you can make all kinds of different concoctions.  There are supposed to be enough supplies to make 21 different bouncy balls which is enough to make it worth the $10 I spent for the kit IF the supplies stretch that far.  We'll have to wait and see.

Next up on the project list is a more involved bouncy ball project found here.  Then we will make our own slime.  As the household cleaning lady, I'm kind of dreading that experiment.   And then last, but certainly not least, we will try making our own silly putty. Part of the idea here is to help the kids realize just how many different things in their world are polymers and help them identify which things are not polymers like metal or brick.