A little landscaping can go a long way

My front flower bed looks like this. Lots of weeds. Some wild daisies. A clematis with a fear of heights. And lost of cat poop.

Let’s face it, I suck at gardening. My attempt at landscaping was a little plastic fence, shoveling out the cat poop, and digging up the dandelions when they showed up. Not a pretty sight.

Enter my wonderful husband.

He came home for R&R from work and decided to sort it out. He worked all day in the sun, happily I might add. (I die in the sun, but he loves it. ) He dug up all the weeds. Removed all the cat poop. Found a trellis for my poor clematis and tamed the crazy daisies. We had a bunch of stepping stones buried all over the back yard from the previous owner’s garden design. He dug them up and hauled them to the front of the house. He arranged them and then went and got some of those lava rocks and the white sparkly rocks.  After some artful scattering and a bit of rearrangement of some driftwood that was laying around.

POOF!

 I have a very pretty front flower bed.

I don’t know what I’d do without my wonderful husband.

Unexpected DIY: Repairing a Fallen Coat Rack

No one likes that moment when the walls come tumbling down, or in this case the coat rack.  We came home from school and were hanging up our coats when all of a sudden PHOOMP! The coat rack detaches from the wall and accelerates into gravity’s clutches. img_8893

Nothing like a pile of wet coats on the floor and holes ripped in the wall. Of course my Autistic son had to be the one that was standing there when it went down. So I spent the rest of the day trying to calm him down because he thought it was his fault and it started a meltdown.

Well, that was fun.

I sat there in between my son’s bouts of lashing out and apologizing trying to figure out what would be the best way to fix this problem. The holes were a bit big. The current coat rack was just a board that wasn’t long enough to  span the space from stud to stud behind the wall.  Just putting it back up wasn’t an option. img_8895

After a couple of days the poor hamster turning my brain wheel got an idea. Longer board, totally new design and mounting. I scavenged my basement where the spare bits of boards from other projects cowered in the corner and found a 1×6 that looked hardy. I cut it to length and then decided to paint it because I didn’t have any stain that matched the cupboards.
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My little brain hamster was really smart on this one. He thought I should make it match the boarder in the kitchen.

It took a while to get all the painting done. I did the bottom coat with some left-over paint from the walls and then I cut out a stencil pattern.  I used craft paint to fill in the stencil. img_8899

Admittedly I didn’t do a good as job painting  as I should have, but by this time I was getting fed up with the whole mess. It had been a couple of days getting it fixed and my son had been upset about it the whole time.img_8900

The circus of getting it up on the wall was a bit frustrating. The cordless drill I was using kept stripping out the heads on the screws. I tried adjusting the clutch but it didn’t seem to make a difference.

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I managed to get it up and it should stay this time. It’s held up by six  2 inch screws in the studs. img_8902

I have to say it doesn’t look to bad and my son is no longer upset. So all is well and good in the world.

The Strain of it All

Ooh crap! Now what?straw_and_camel

This seems to be the mantra of my family and of many people I know. Life just keeps piling it on. Everyone was so glad when 2016 ended only to realize that January of 2017 is tainted by association with December of 2016! It hasn’t ended or stopped, weird stuff, stressful stuff just keep happening.

For example: The weather. Snow is piled up everywhere and there seems to be no end in sight for the cold. The election, you all thought that was done but nooooo! The media and the government are still squabbling like children. People are still dying. My uncle passed away on January 2nd. There are school troubles, vehicle repair issues, kids are getting sick, unexpected bills are coming out of nowhere, home appliances are acting up.

The stresses just keep coming.

Your whole world seems like it is crushing you. Breathing is becoming harder. There seems to be a weight crushing your chest. Your head seems like it going to explode. You want to cry, or drink, or cry and drink. You can’t talk yourself into getting out of bed in the morning but you have to. You just want a hug and there is no one there to hug you.

The strain seems enormous and when you finally get the willpower to look up…here comes something else to be dumped on you. Eventually you will break.  The strain of it all will get you.

But don’t worry, there is hope.

It is all about how you look at it.

The definition of strain…

Strain  /strān/

verb

  1. force (a part of one’s body or oneself) to make a strenuous or unusually great effort.
  2. to pour (a mainly liquid substance) through a porous or perforated device or material in order to separate out any solid matter.

Noun

  1. a force tending to pull or stretch something to an extreme or damaging degree.
  2. a severe or excessive demand on the strength, resources, or abilities of someone or something.

If you look at your life from a passive point of view then you are letting strain be a noun. The strain of stress becomes a thing that is extreme and damaging. The same thing will happen if you take a passive view of your stress. The longer you sit and watch the tide of overwhelming events coming for you the worse you’ll feel. It is damaging and extreme. Even mountains will wear away when water hits it often enough.

However if you think of strain as a verb, an action word, things take on a different look.  The first definition states that strain is the use of great force and effort. Well believe me, the effort to fight the tide of stress takes a butt load of effort. Sometimes more than we have. That is why we must seek help. You don’t have to do it all alone. Talk to someone, friends, family, helplines, it doesn’t matter. Someone will help you. You never know when someone will have the answer to your problems that you didn’t think of.  The hard part is asking. Sometimes it is enough to just talk.

The second definition is even more important. And you are saying, “What? How is sifting through something related to stress?” Well guess what? That is the secret to beating it.  If you let yourself become the strainer then you will sift through the stress finding what is really important. Like a colander, you will catch the bigger stuff first. Those are the priorities. Sort them out first, then work on the smaller items. Or if that isn’t your way then sift out the big stuff and set that colander aside. Work on the small stuff that is manageable first.  Either way you are taking an active roll in a carrying the load.

Have you ever looked around your house and were so overwhelmed by how much cleaning there was to do. It was all too much, so you hid away and didn’t do anything. The next day it is only worse. If you would have done just one little thing it would have set you on the path to a completely clean house. You have to eat that elephant one bite at a time.

Strain is only unbearable if you stand passive and let it crush you. Take it one thing at a time. Its alright to feel overwhelmed when there are too many things happening at once. It is only natural. We can only do so much, but the point is that we must DO something. The tide is going to come whether you want it or not. That is the nature of things, but you don’t have to let the tide take you.  Hold on and strain out what you must.

That camel’s back wouldn’t have broken if it didn’t try to carry everything at once.

I Am Woman See Me Organize a Closet

So basically my son’s closet is a mess. When we first moved into this house, his closet had a huge shelf that took up the bottom and was about 2 feet deep. It wasn’t practical for anything except maybe poster board. There was also only one small clothes rack in the corner. Needless to say that the toys took over. img_8594

So I got this great idea to use one of those closet organizer systems.  It was the Closet Maid $99 dollar set, nothing fancy. I thought it would be easy to get all the toys out and then put the organizer in and BOOM done. Alas I was mistaken. img_8596

img_8595Once everything was out I realized that not only was there a color difference on the wall from where the old shelf had been, there was also the lack of carpeting that I totally forgot about.  Not only was there no carpet in most of the closet there was also two different kinds of tiling. Great!

 

I had the dubious pleasure of trying to get the carpet out and that included trying to pry up the little demon strips they use to keep the carpet from moving around. I say demon strips because I kneeled on one and believe me it’s a demon strip, nails on both sides sticking out at all angles, it’s evil.img_8597
So then I needed to paint. I didn’t really want to buy more paint just for a closet so I used what we had already sitting around. My daughter had painted her room candy floss blue and pink once and I figured that the blue would be light enough for a closet. img_8598 Next I tackled the floor tiles. I was not into pulling up all the old tiles so I just bought some of those stick on laminate floor tiles in a parquet design. Measured them all out and stuck them down. Just FYI the closet was not square. It got interesting toward the last corner. Then added a carpet to tile trim piece.img_8600 Now finally after a whole day of fiddling around I got to put the organizer in. YAY! Incidentally my son decided the floor was the best part. He’s used it as a bowling alley and a roller skating rink so far.img_8603 I let it air out for a day then put all the toys and junk back in. TADA! Not bad for and idiot with a hammer and about $150.
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I Am Woman, See Me Fix Toilet

Toilets have never been my favorite thing. If you look through my posts you will find quite a few that visit the toilet subject and I don’t mean they are crappy. I remember rather fondly the post How to dispose of a stiff with your teenage daughter.

Here is my latest adventure in the House of the Porcelain God.

Our toilet tank had a crack. I can’t say if it was because of manufacturer flaws or if it was because my son leans back against the tank too hard putting stress on the bolts that hold the tank.  Either way, it had a crack. We looked into getting a new tank but surprise, surprise, you have to buy the whole toilet. So like any good homeowner, I procrastinated and himmed and hawed.

Until it was too late.

My son was upset about Halloween. He wanted it to be right now and didn’t want to wait.He had gone to the bathroom and as he sat there trying to make an offering to the Porcelain God he became more and more upset about Halloween.  He began to cry and then to scream and then to sob all the while sitting on the toilet. Now remember he is autistic and this means sometimes he gets into a meltdown cycle and there isn’t a lot to be done.  Often at that point, I try to avoid giving him attention because it only increases the problem. Sometimes he will become calm on his own. But not this time.

Miscalculation on my part. Never let a child in meltdown stay on the toilet.

img_8523 img_8530He did not calm down. Then next thing I heard was gushing water. I thought he’d turned on the faucet or something. I rushed into the bathroom to find him sitting not on the toilet but on the side of the tub staring at the fountain of water bursting from the bottom of the tank.

Bath toys were pairing up and looking for Noah. The rugs were soak and there was a mini waterfall going down the heater vent. I splashed through the flood that was racing across the floor and turned off the water to the tank.

For the next couple of hours it was mops and towels and buckets in full force. Water had not only covered the bathroom floor, but it had also dripped through the floor and into the bathroom downstairs which is right below the upstairs bathroom. So, I had to clean up two bathrooms. The water in the vent headed south down the ducts to drip out at a junction in my basement right next to the furnace. Had to leave a bucket there to collect the drips all night.

Needless to say Momma was not happy.

Once it was all cleaned up and as dry as it could get, we moved on with bedtime. The next morning we headed off to Great Falls to find a toilet. Nothing like looking for a new toilet on a Sunday morning. Bought a whole new toilet and drafted my poor daughter to once again help. This time was more like Frankenstein bringing home body parts to fix the dead Porcelain God. Maybe I should have called this post “How to teach your daughter to resurrect the dead.”

img_8525Any way the box made it home and I img_8527took out the new tank, read the instructions about fifty times and then installed the new tank. I did a total redneck number behind the tank though. Got a Styrofoam chunk and wedged it between the wall and the tank then duct taped it in. Hopefully that will keep my son from banging into it and cracking this new one.

So far so good it hasn’t leaked…yet. I’m trying to be optimistic and believe that this will be the last time I have to mess with the toilet but then again I’m delusional sometimes.

Yes, You Can Eat Popcorn with Chopsticks.

how-to-use-chopsticks_16001198_800801371_0_0_14061203_600Chopsticks. They are a challenge to a lot of kids and some adults. Getting all of your fingers organized to move two little sticks in a way that you can pick up food of various sizes and shapes is hard. Especially for people with motor skill difficulties like my son.

Part of his Autism is lack of fine and gross motor skill control. His fingers don’t want to do what he tells them too. We work on it daily but sometimes even holding a pencil is challenging. I never thought that chopsticks would enter into his dinner routines. But…

When he saw an episode of  the cartoon Special Agent Oso and the main character was helping with Chinese New Year and had to learn to use chopsticks, suddenly my son HAD TO HAVE CHOPSTICKS!

That night we were having pork chops. He wanted to use chopstick so bad that he refused to use his fork and then refused to eat at all until I got him chopsticks. I was willing but also prepared for trouble if it didn’t work. I was completely shocked to see him concentrating so hard until he managed to pick up a piece of meat with the chopsticks. He has since tried using chopsticks on everything including his cereal but he hasn’t has as much success as that first time.  He hasn’t given up but he is getting frustrated.

Then we saw something wonderful on an episode of Castle. Weird I know….

Chopstick cheaters!
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They are hinges that help you hold the chopsticks and work them properly. Who knew this was a thing? Yeah I know everybody but me, right?

So we ordered them off of Amazon and when they finally arrived we wanted to practice. Of course there isn’t anything in the house that was readily available. I found some yogurt covered raisins but that wasn’t a great choice. Dad to the rescue! He made popcorn…IMG_7421IMG_7420They sat down with a bowl each of popcorn and started practicing.

It took a few tries and some work but my son finally got the hang of the hinges.

He managed to eat almost two bowls full of popcorn using his chopsticks.

I think I’ll be making Chinese food tonight. So he can really show what he’s got!

Life Hack for Christmas

I don’t normally do this kind of post but my hubby was excited by my “ingenuity.” Which was actually me just looking around and saying, “Sure, that’ll work good enough.”

We live in Montana, so snow is a given. It is also Christmas and outdoor decorations are also a given. So I wanted to keep the electrical plugs out of the snow. I’m a bit of a cheapskate so I didn’t want to buy anything fancy.

I found my husband’s fishing pole holders in the garage. I thought thought, “It’s not fishing season so he won’t miss them.”

IMG_7269They work perfectly to keep the plugs up out of the snow. Now they are high and dry and I didn’t have to spend any money. Re-purposing at its finest!

Garam Masala Lamb Pockets

This recipe was something that I cooked up (pardon the pun) on the fly the other night.

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My friend, Lisa, had given me some grass fed lamb from her ranch,  The Land of Grass. I didn’t know what to do with it at first. I’d never cooked lamb before. When I mentioned it to my daughter she requested Indian food. And although my daughter loves the spicy curries and things, my son and I have a hard time eating spicy food.  So I compromised a bit.

I had a tin of Garam Masala from The Silk Road. It is a combination of coriander, cumin, black peppercorn, black cumin, ginger, cardamon, clove, cinnamon, and bay leaf. I know it sounds a bit spicy but it really wasn’t. It smelled amazing when I opened the tin but I didn’t follow the recipe on the back.

I improvised!

I fried up the ground lamb with some garlic and chopped spring onions until they were nice and browned. Meanwhile I cooked up some Basmalti rice. I added the Garam Masala then tasted the mixture. It was kind of bland. So I started adding things. I threw in some ginger and then some tumeric. Every thing turned yellow (as it always does with tumeric). That was a good sign, right?

Still needed something.

My daughter said it needed salt and more garlic. So I threw in some garlic salt. Then she said we needed raisins. She loves raisins in her Indian dishes. I also threw in some slivered almonds just because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was tasting pretty yummy by now.

I mixed in the rice and stirred it all up. Then took some crescent rolls and laid them out in squares. (Two triangles pressed together along the seem will give a rectangular dough shape) I spooned the rice and lamb mixture into the center and folded the dough closed creating a “pocket” then pressed the seams closed. Baked them at 350 degrees until they were  golden brown.

My daughter was happy because we got to have Indian. My son was happy because it was not spicy and it was in a bread pocket that was easy to eat without having to wrangle rice on a fork. I was happy because everyone else was happy!

I saved the left-overs  for another day but my daughter ate it the next day with a spoon. Ah well, at least she liked it.

SO here is the finally ingredient list. Sorry there aren’t measurements.

ground lamb                           basmalti riceIMG_6782

spring onions                         Garam Masala

minced garlic                         garlic salt

 olive oil                                   raisins

ground tumeric                     crescent rolls

ground ginger                        slivered almonds

bake at 350

 

Enjoy!

Hair today…Locks of Love tomorrow

I know you all have had that moment when you look at your hair and think, “I’m so sick of fighting with it! I’m gonna shave my head!”

I have this moment a lot. I have naturally curly hair. For a long time as a child I hated it, but now I actually like it…relatively. My hair is not tamable. It has its own agenda which possibly involves world domination, but its not talking. I always say that my hair and I have come to an agreement. I give it rides and it keeps my head warm.

IMG_3431 I often let it grow thinking that this time I will be able to really DO something with it. Fancy IMG_3430hair clips and decorative braids or lovely hairstyles they are all Holy Grails that I
mistakenly think I have a chance of achieving.

So everytime I grow it out and diligently try to keep it under control thinking I’m the superior mind in the relationship.

And then reality slowly creeps in and I look like Merida from Disney’s Brave: red curls going everywhere!

So I make threat to cut it off and go back to a manageable sort of style. Then time passes because I know that wherever I go to get it cut it’ll be a fight. Not only is it hard to make time to get to the salon it is harder to find someone who can cut curly hair. I know you all think that it shouldn’t be such a problem, but those of you with curly hair know what I mean. Curly hair must be cut according to the curl NOT symmetrically.

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So I put off going.

And my hair gets longer.

So I threaten some more.

And I put it off.

And my hair gets longer.

Unfortunately my hair grows fast. So I end up with hair that is really close to achieving its goal of world domination.

I have to part it like a curtain when I look down. My son thinks it a way to express his anger by grabbing it at every opportunity and pulling hard. The wind has decided that NOW IS THE TIME TO BLOW CONSTANTLY making my life a world of tangles and frizz.

So then I decide it is finally time. But that’s a lot of hair to just cut off and throw away! So I start calling salons in town to find one that does Locks of Love.

locks-of-love-logo

I don’t know how many of you know what Locks of Love is, so here is a summary taken from their website:

MISSION & VISION

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics.

Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.

Here is their site:  http://www.locksoflove.org/mission.html

It’s really easy to do and really great for those who need the hairpieces. I’ve known a lot of people (family and friends) who have suffered from Cancer and the last thing they need it to worry about hair. So I’m more than happy to donate my hair to anyone who might need it.

IMG_3435So here we are.IMG_3437

one salon appointment later.

Shorter hair and a lighter heart.

And yes I know I’m not really smiling like a happy little elf, but I’m not very good at selfies and have never really like getting my picture taken.

So just ignore the expression!