Archive | August, 2011

Wicked Web Wednesday!

31 Aug

So by now you should be expecting something creative to come out of Wicked Web Wednesday. I love new ideas, especially things that combine creativity with recycling, reusing. I mean, why not make use of all those “things” we seem to have? Maybe your “thing” has already served its purpose. So figure out another way to use it. I guess I kind of liken it to discovering that I have a whole ‘nother purpose in life that I didn’t know about.

So this week’s Wicked Web Wednesday is no different…a great creative use for something that might otherwise just be discarded.


Now, don’t get me wrong, I do kind of cringe at the thought of tampering with a book. I was brought up with the saying “books are your friends.” Took that a little too seriously though, and didn’t really have the real people friends, but books were a good stand in. And quite frankly, being told to highlight passages in books in college almost pushed me over the edge. Highlighter in books? What were they thinking?!

So, it is with a little trepidation, as well as admiration, that I share this beautiful website with instructions on how to make these Book Birdhouses. Visit the Red Hen blog for this project that you can make with books destined for the recycler. I’m definitely going to try this one with the girly girl. As soon as I find a book I can part with.




School Memories – Part 2

30 Aug

Junior high was a horrendous experience. I am so so so so sooooo glad that my daughter didn’t have the same experiences that I did. I am betting that is because she has such a marvelous outlook on life. So happy all the time. She was always a happy girl. Me? Not so much. I’m not sure where I picked up my skepticism. But I never had that belief outpouring of positiveness that she does. I was always watching and waiting for the other shoe to drop. That’s kind of my take on growing up. I was waiting for it all to blow up.

Happy go-lucky...that's my girl!

I hate using the word hate, but I really, really, really hated junior high. I can’t stress enough, how much I disliked it. If there is one thing that I have learned about myself in my life’s journey so far, it is that I look to others for my sense of worth. I am getting better at that, at finding who I am in me rather than in others, but it is very slow going. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m not sure who I am. So as a middle schooler in the late 70’s who was a little bit different, I didn’t fit in. The cliques started developing in 5th grade and continued full force in junior high.

I was always different because I could do stuff other kids couldn’t. I could play guitar, and I started playing other instruments as well. And when I was in junior high I used to go to high school for band. I was always ahead and always good. And that was enough for people not to like me. That, and I was incredibly quiet, terrified really, so I didn’t say much to people. I later learned that in high school the other kids thought I was stuck up. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Painfully shy, with no self esteem. And I looked to the other kids for my sense of self and couldn’t find it. I just always felt like the outcast. So it is hard to find good things in my box of school memories related to junior high. I remember one time in 8th grade one of the popular girls said she loved my handwriting. That was probably the highlight of those three years.

Now, high school was a different story. At the time I didn’t realize it, but looking back at it now, I really enjoyed high school. Or maybe I just really enjoy looking back at it now. With that perspective of time. I was still shy, and quiet, and kept mostly to myself, but loved music. Loved it. That was my passion in high school. I had some fantastic teachers as well. My freshman year English teacher, my band director, my AP English teacher. My Adv. Algebra teacher – he was funny, and I had a few friends in that class who would talk to me. But my favorite thing about that time period was being “the chick bass player.” That kids from other schools knew me. Well, not “knew me” but knew of “that chick bass player.” I got a big kick out of that. And that was my persona back then. That was me. I’ve missed that terribly.

That was a time when I thought I knew who I was. When I probably felt my most complete. High school and then college. I felt pretty good about college too. I struggled a bit with a major, who doesn’t, right? I went to school as a biology major and switched to commercial art. A big change. I’d never imagined myself an artist. I still don’t really, although I have made good use of my degree. I worked as a graphic designer for many many years. Still use my skills on an almost daily basis at my “day job” too. So I think I made a good choice in the end. But neither of those majors was what I wanted to do. And even now, in my mid 40’s I’m not sure what it is I want to do. There were so many things I thought about…envisioned myself doing, but in looking at other people to define who I was, I didn’t do any of those things I envisioned. I bought in to other people’s expectations and lived up to those instead. I missed being me.

That’s part of my journey, part of the reason I started Blanket Statements. I’m trying to find me. I’m trying to figure out who I am. And figure out what it is I am here to do. And I hope that perhaps I can help one other person realize that it’s ok to be who you think you are. You don’t have to live up to other people’s expectations. You can live your own life. The way you always wanted. I saw a magazine article today while waiting for my son’s MRI. It said, ” You’re never too old to be what you always wanted to be.” I thought I was too old. But maybe I’m not. I’ll figure it out.

School Memories – Part 1

29 Aug

As some of you know, I work for the local school district as my “day job.” The last few weeks have been super crazy busy with the usual start of the new school year routines. Each year we have what I fondly refer to as “Rah-rah” day. This year’s Rah-rah day featured several student speakers – one of which struck a nerve with me. And obviously lots of other people as there weren’t many dry eyes in the house. This young lady spoke about the memories you have of your time in school. She recently graduated out of our district and is now in high school. She told a story about pulling out her box of memories and looking them over, one by one. And as she was speaking I have to admit my mind started wandering backwards as well.

I am a firm believer in putting things in boxes. Much to the dismay of some who know me, since my boxed existence proves to be quite limited at times. But boxing things up in neat tidy rows is comforting to me. Everything in its place. Even the memories. Anyway, I wanted to take a little written stroll down memory lane myself, in commemoration of the beginning of another school year. I’d love to hear your stories about school too!

When I was growing up we lived in a suburb of Detroit. My former sister-in-law used to call me Wonder Bread. Because they grew up in Detroit. And we were in the suburbs. This was in the late 60’s to early 70’s. Times were turbulent back then. I remember going to the local grade school for Kindergarten. I don’t remember too much about it, but what I do remember I think is kind of funny. I remember pinching my finger in the big metal door and it really hurting, but I didn’t want to tell anyone. I remember falling at recess and skinning my knee and my teacher putting that iodine stuff on it that burned like crazy. I remember I loved to color the pictures on my worksheets. My teacher held up one of my papers one time, to show my coloring, but hid the rest of the paper because I didn’t do very well on the actual school work. Just the coloring part. lol. Kindergarten is also what started me off on my quest for antique toys…we had the Fisher Price Milk Carton set and I just LOVED those milk cartons and the little carrier. Seriously. I had one of those subconscious yearnings that didn’t get satisfied until adulthood. Yes, I bought myself a set off ebay.



For first grade we were shipped off to private school. Busing became an issue in Detroit and the suburbs and my parents didn’t want us spending an hour on the bus into the city, so we (my sister and I) attended a Lutheran School in a neighboring town. My memories of first grade are mostly of learning my left hand from my right hand. Left hand is the door, right hand is the window. At least that’s what was to my right and left as I sat in class. There was a cemetery out the window. It fascinated me as a child. There was a pond with lily pads and frogs and a big wrought iron fence. What’s not to love there?! Also, I was bit by a dog in first grade (on the face, mind you) thus ending my quest for Miss America (that’s another story entirely) and I remember getting a vocabulary word that you had to demonstrate for the class one day. My word was “SMILE” except I couldn’t demonstrate it as I had a band-aid over part of my mouth due to the dog bite and stitches. I remember everyone staring at me.


For second grade we moved to Illinois. We moved twice that year. My mother didn’t like our first house so we moved in the summer and again the next Spring. With just a few weeks left of second grade. In my first school that year I had a teacher who didn’t like girls. But I remember her making great use of the opaque projector and doing fantastic drawings. I also remember having a science packet of bird anatomy. I thought that was pretty rocking awesome. Plus I got to color the birds. My second second grade class I remember the teacher reading us “James and the Giant Peach” while we sat on the linoleum floor. I remember loving that story, even though I came in towards the end of it. And I remember picking chunks of wax off the floor.

In third grade I remember taking a toaster apart and thinking that was the best thing ever. Getting to see the insides of stuff. And one time our teacher yelled at our class on my birthday because the class wasn’t listening. I, of course, took it totally personally and cried my eyes out. She had to take me out to the hallway and explain that I didn’t do anything wrong, but the scolding was for the people who did do something wrong. That should have been a pretty clear indicator that my self esteem wasn’t the strongest.


In fourth grade I had the coolest teacher ever! Mrs. Peterson was her name and she had us do all sorts of arts and crafts projects. I excelled that year! I remember nailing nails into a piece of wood and painting the nail heads. I remember making papier mache puppets, and tie dyeing shirts, and drawing lots and lots of maps. I was an expert map-maker. By this time I had also been playing guitar for 5 years already and used to play in school quite a bit for assemblies and just for entertainment in art class.

Fifth grade I remember making bulletin board displays and categorizing diseases instead of going out for recess. I was already pretty much a loaner girl and didn’t really like sitting outside by myself for recess, so I’d con my teacher into letting me stay inside and do other stuff. Fifth grade was really the precursor to my downward spiral of junior high.




Random Phone Photo Friday!

26 Aug


This was our pumpkin take from Stade’s Farm in Johnsburg, or Spring Grove, or McHenry, or…I’m not sure what town it is in . But it is a big dairy farm that has acres of farm land and a big farm market during the summer. They have apple donuts, all kinds of great eats, strawberry picking, sweet corn, asparagus, pumpkins and gourds in the fall – pretty much anything you could want. Although, surprisingly for a dairy farm, no milk. Not sure why that is. The cows are right there!! Why no milk??

So I was especially enamored with the little pumpkin carts. I totally want one. And that green gourd in the middle of the pile? That’s still sitting by my front door. It’s been nibbled on, probably by an evil entity, but I’m ok with sharing. As long as I don’t have to see it. I love love love pumpkins and fall and Halloween….Yea!!

Wicked Web Wednesday!

24 Aug

One of these days I’m going to have a serious issue with spelling those three words correctly.

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! Have you seen this? I mean, seriously, this is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. An I am so freaking jealous that I didn’t think of it. I’ve taken to drawing fall leaves because they are so beautiful. Drawing is nothing compared to this artists spectacular work. I am amazed and in complete and utter awe.




These beauties are created by Spanish artist Lorenzo Duran. I know you’re thinking that these were digitally created and cut, but guess again, friends. Lorenzo cuts these designs into real leaves using a really sharp scalpel. He was inspired by the paper-cutting of China and Japan, and believes every natural object and living thing has a bit of art in it and is a good medium to experiment with his creativity.


Please, please, please, go visit the website where I found this – Oddity Central, but also check out the artist’s blog – Naturayarte. I’m so blown away by this, I can’t even tell you.



Random Phone Photo Friday!

19 Aug


Sunset over Nippersink Lake. This is north of Rte. 12 in Fox Lake just north of my house. You can come visit any time. BYOB though, I don’t have any.

Wild Canadian $2.55

18 Aug

Yea! A random post about me! Every once in a while I feel the need to throw in a post about, well, me and my crazy life. Looking back, it has been quite a ride. As a child, I was quite enterprising. I used to make stuff and sell it at school. Little pom-pom creatures, rocks with faces, fish I caught out of a neighborhood pond. You name it, I peddled it. And I started legitimately working at a young age. I volunteered at the local hospital when I was 12, and got a job at a local restaurant when I was 15.

Now, this wasn’t just any restaurant. And in looking back on the experience, I like to call it the hooker bar. It wasn’t really a hooker bar, because, well, that would just be wrong. Especially working there as a 15 year old. This was an actual restaurant known and loved be lots of people. And I had a blast working there, mostly. I did get an occasional proposition, and a couple marriage proposals even. The restaurant, which is long gone – was called Tin Cup Pass. It was a popular hangout (read: bar) back in the western infused 1980’s.



Tin Cup was a 2-story restaurant and bar located in suburban Chicagoland. There were a couple locations, all of which are now other restaurants. The decor at Tin Cup was kind of like you’d find in the local Applebee’s, except all country western stuff. Big tin coffee pots, frying pans, boots, spurs, bridles, all sorts of that kind of stuff hanging on the walls. Oil lamps over the tables, booths inside jail cells, multiple levels, multiple bars, lots of fun.

The thing about Tin Cup, however, was, as a girl you had to play dress up. And dress up consisted of a low-cut leotard, a twirly skirt hiked up on the side, garter belt, and 4 inch high heels. The waitresses also got to wear fun headbands with feathers. I, as a fifteen year old, was a hostess, not a waitress, but we were not off limits for comments too. It was an interesting experience to say the least.


Tin Cup, did, however, have some fabulous food. I was thrilled to find a menu on ebay (I borrowed the photos). My personal favorite was the mini pan pizza they had and the ham sammie with the green peppers and mushrooms. Oh my goodness that was an awesome sandwich. You could also get a sasparilla in a fun take home cup. I still have one prominently displayed in my kitchen.



Unfortunately I don’t think any photos of the Tin Cup era exist. I haven’t been able to find anything at all about the restaurant online, other than the menu and sasparilla photos. I would love to find photos of the inside or the “uniforms”. lol. I think I may even still have some of the notes passed to me from when I worked there. What a trip. The hooker bar.


Wicked Web Wednesday!

17 Aug

You know, I’m finding that this blog actually makes a little jabs at my self esteem. I was just reading through the recent posts and gosh darn it, they are all either Wicked Web Wednesday posts or Phone Photo Fridays. You’d think I could come up with something else to say at some point. But, count your blessings, at least I can mostly get those two things posted.

This week’s offering is a little something I like to call “Creativity, On a Budget.” And gosh darn it, I just don’t have the ceiling height to pull this masterpiece off in my current rental home, but rest assured someday, somewhere, something remarkably similar to this will be hanging in a house of mine.



I know what you’re thinking. “Ok mad woman, what the heck is that…?” Did I get it?

This, dear friends, is a Banana Lamp Shade. Made from recycled banana boxes. I’m a much bigger fan of tomatoes, myself. And oranges. A banana tried to kill me once, but that is another story for another day. So my recycled masterpiece will look different from this one, but you get the general concept.



I just love people who come up with these gems. Totally creative, fun and recycling stuff that would otherwise be in the trash. Sheesh, what is not to love about it! Visit the website where I found it – Keetsa – The Eco-Friendly and Green Blog Search Engine.

Random Phone Photo Friday!

12 Aug


Oh sure…my random phone photo selector has chosen yet another photo of pure evil. This charmer loves to torment me at work. That is the railing on the patio outside my sliding door. I also have chipmunks, which I wrote about previously. The famous flower-pot-swimming-chipmunks. I don’t mind chipmunks. They are rather cute. Although they do yell. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that they don’t.

I have been known to put out food for the chipmunks. An occasional hand full of peanuts, a burger king whopper bun, etc. But one time while I was happily watching the little chipmunk antics of trying to stuff their faces with a ginormous bun, this huge monsterous evil thing decided to crash the food fest. Seriously, next to a chipmunk, squirrels are huge. And totally unwelcome. Go home squirrel. Go home.



Random Phone Photo Friday!

5 Aug


This is my gorgeous baby girl at the orthodontist right before she got her braces off and the after shot in front of the high school as she went back to school. No real story here other than a mom’s pride. 🙂

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