Friday, January 30, 2009

Cappuccino Surprise

You know how I love the COFFEE, right?
So early one morning I'm fixin up my cappuccino.  It was practically the middle of the night and I got this brilliant idea. What would make cappuccino even better tasting when it's already so scrumptious you might ask yourself?   Well, I'll tell you. Chocolate! I have this espresso flavored chocolate bar and I broke off this little chunk and dropped it into the hot cappuccino so that it could melt into it. Except that it didn't melt... and then I forgot all about it.  So fast forward, time elapses and I'm sitting in the doctors office pouring it into the thermos cup, when I see what looks like a soppy turd (Pardon, but I'm trying to help you visualize my shock.) in the bottom of my bottle.  I quietly freak out (in my head) because I've have been drinking this coffee all morning and was just getting to the end of the bottle when the 
TURD became visible!!!  At first I couldn't quite recognize it. I was imagining, that somehow while I was sitting there in the waiting room some kind of tiny rodent or large bug had crawled up the side of my thermos and drowned itself... without me or anyone else, for that matter, noticing!  How could that have happened?!!! I thought I might gag but I was trying to play it cool because people were around and I didn't want to draw attention to my situation.  I kind of casually squinted at it, you know, sort of side ways like, for a few seconds, and then it all came back to me.  I then recalled my formerly brilliant idea to throw a chunk of chocolate in my coffee. Genius! This is what happens when you get up in the middle of the night like I do! 

Lesson learned; chocolate melts in your mouth...not in your coffee!

Blessings Friends
Melissa


(Geez Melis ... talk about imagination, that's some clever mouse, he'd need rock climbing equipment to scale the side of my thermos... or at the very least suction cups. A cappuccino lovin mouse that smart most likely is bound to use a safety harness, Right? I doubt he would have drowned.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Love Letters!

I was clearing off the table near the printer and I came across a thick stack of copies that I had apparently removed from the printer tray and set aside, presumably to go through later. Well, later had arrived. Among the printed knitting patterns and online receipts emerged a growing stack of e-mail letters that I had printed. Some were from overflowing work folders I had forwarded long ago, but only just recently gotten around to printing. Those words from friends, I love them! I have saved pretty close to every letter I've ever received. One or two might have slipped through the cracks accidentally, but for the most part I have a nice little treasure trove of memories!  


I keep them in this great wooden box my mom gave me, her dad (my Grampa, of course) made it for her when she was a little girl.  She used it to keep the paper dolls she made. It's a simple, sturdy box, no frills, and now for the last, I don't know how many years, it has been holding my old letters. A while back, maybe four years if I had to guess, I took the time to organize them chronologically by sender. While doing this, I took the time to re-read each letter.  Now, I'm no "hot chick" to borrow the turn of a phrase from a friend, so while there where a couple-three cushy bundles of letters from old boyfriends, my letters, came to me from friends and family, but  mostly friends. Childhood friends gone off to collage, new grown up friends, now moved away, friends I met while visiting other friends! FRIENDS!

Letters, sweet, friendly letters! If ever for one moment in your life you think no-one cares, these letters are an insurance policy against that nonsense! I giggled my way through the silly ones and got misty when I need to, was glad I never got around to removing the photographs that had been enclosed with some of the letters.  E-mails, they're just not as glamorous, but I'll save them just the same. Maybe when I sort out the emails into their little bundles and they are tied nicely with string, they'll seem a bit more like proper letters. 


There is a subcategory of letter...I may be going out on a limb here... but I'm gonna share this with you, I keep a sketch book with all the interesting little notes people jot and have left for me over the years. On my desk, on my door, at school, in my back mud room, on my car. The first one I saved was from my brother Rog, it made me giggle and I couldn't part with it, so I glued it in one of my sketch books.  Then, when I got another little note, I knew just where to save it! And so it began. Children write the best notes!  If you are lucky enough to receive any of those, treat them like the gold that they are!

Maybe you've saved your old letters too and now that this is near the end, you'll go find the pretty little box you've got them stashed away in and re-read them.  Maybe this has inspired you to bust out some snazzy paper and a pen (I've been known to use a pretty/cool page from a magazine, if you plan the envelope sometimes you can get the pictures just where you want them.) and dash off a letter to someone near or far.  

I'll leave you with this little tid-bit. I'm missing this note/love letter. It's not in my wooden box with all his other letters, nor is it in my book of little notes. It is however one of the sweetest love notes I've ever received. Though it's not oozing with flowery words, it remains through the years, a sweet memory.  It was a long time ago when a younger me worked three jobs, the last being as a cashier in a factory cafe, at the end of the day. Between jobs two and three I always spent the entire time on the phone with this young man of considerable interest. On this particular day, I had a cold! I was uncomfortable and excused myself from the call.  I have to laugh when I think of it, as we got off the phone, he asked me, "Do you want me to come over there?"  It was a nice gesture. In that spilt second, I thought, what can he do to help? I abruptly answered, no, I want my mom. (I was sick, young and impetuous,forgive me!) I finished my shift which went until midnight and when I went out to my car I found that he had driven all the way from his apartment on the West side to the factory complex where I worked.  He didn't stay, I don't mean to say he was waiting for me when I got out of work.  No, he had come and gone and there was a fat, square note taped to the drivers side of my windshield. A very chubby little note packed with care. In his beautiful hand writing (he was an artist) were these simple words, "I hope this will help you feel better." The note was wrapped around a small envelope of fizzy cold remedy drink. It was such a sweet simple gesture, nothing flashy. I can't imagine why I don't have that note! I must have been delirious with fever! I've shared it now with you, and you can help me keep the memory safe too! That's what friends do, we are memory keeper for each other.

Write someone a letter, surprise them, encourage them to save it! Write your children love letters filled with all the wonderful stuff that makes them who they are! Hey, you could even do the same thing for yourself if you need a boost! 

Blessings friend!                                                                                                      

Melissa

P.S.It's been a positively uplifting week here in the good old USA! The spirit of optimism reigns and I believe everyone has been touched! Can we get an Amen!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Indoor Gardening Day

Hey there Kiddos! Are you keeping warm? I'm keeping cozy warm here inside and I hope you are too!

I received my first garden catalogs a week or so ago, which got me thinking about the thing that keeps me going when I can't dabble in my tiny garden...I lavish attention on my indoor garden, in other words, my house plants.  You can tell when I'm really ready for spring, my indoor green family generally increases by a few. Maybe you don't have a ton of plants, or any for that matter, there are some easy tips for caring for your plants that will really make them almost carefree. And if you don't already have an indoor garden of your own, you may just be inspired to start one!

The first thing you need is the perfect food for your green friends. I'll give you my recipe for the plant water I feed my green friends. I can't take 100% of the credit for all the ingredients because I read a lot of gardening books and magazines. Initially I had only ever fed my houseplants Miracle-Gro, diluted in a gallon jug at the ratio of 1/4 tsp per gallon.  They did fine on that.  But, then somewhere down the line I must have brought home a rebel that needed a little something extra, thus the Bliss Water for plants. Since I have begun using this, I have noticed it can invigorate recovering plants and it goes without saying, healthy plants love it.  

Choose your indoor gardening day and pretty much stick with it, for me it's Sunday. Your plants will be quite happy to be tended on a regular basis and if you pick a certain day, there is less likely chance you will be spending time wondering if they need watering. This wondering has brought about the demise of many a lovely houseplant. Wonder no more! Pick a day and water them on that day! There are a couple of other things to consider, I like to mix this up at least the night before so that it has time to fully dissolve into the water, I'm not a chemist, it might not take that long, I just like to let it set awhile. Truth be told, I have used it right away in a pinch, without negative results. 

Please don't drown your plants. Give them a drink. I water until I first notice the water is not being absorbed into the soil, then I stop watering. Then I know there will be enough water for the plant. There is no need to go back to this plant and water more. If you're tempted to overwater, just think how horrible you would feel if someone (well intentioned,albeit) hovered over you, forcing you to drink glass after glass of wine...I mean water! You'd end up with a big bellyache or worse! Water regularly, once a week, you and your plant will be very happy. 

Here's something else to consider when feeding your plants, this is really important, in order for them to make use of the delightful bliss water you are about to feed them, you need to give it to them before 3:00 pm or so. Plants need plenty of daylight to make use of the food, anything later than that is just going to sit on their delicate roots and wont really help the plant, might even cause damage to delicate roots. I usually try to feed mine around 11:00 or 12:00 at the latest. Something to consider when you are picking out your indoor gardening day.

I have three gallons mixed at a time, I bought gallon water bottles because I knew I would be using them over and over for years to come. If you have another container you are thinking of using, like a milk jug, for example, just make sure it's really, really clean. The bacteria left behind wont hurt your plants, but it might not smell so pretty after awhile and who wants that smell in the house? 

Ok, so imagine you already have the recipe, you mixed it up you're just about ready to go do your indoor gardening. This is also the perfect time for a quick little plant maintence... the indoor gardening. 
Here's what you need to begin: 
  • A watering can, one with a long narrow spout which makes it  easy to get in among the leaves.
  • A sharp pair of garden shears. Get rid of dead leaves and neatly trim brown tips away if present. Remove flowers as the blossom fades and quite often your plant will bloom even longer. Between plants, wipe the shears clean, just incase you have some unknown invader on one plant, you wont unknowingly spread it from plant to plant. I use a little something like windex.
  • A receptacle of some sort to collect these little snips from your plants.
  • An old towel. I always manage to slosh a bit over on to the floor or table, usually it runs off the leaf of this one particular spider plant if I'm not mindful of the waterspout!
Bliss Water for Plants
(This is actually the order that I put them in. It just made sense to me to put them in this order, so while it's a list of ingredients, it's also the recipe.)

  • 1 gallon jug filled with water, clearly labeled as "plant water" with a permanent marker.
  • To this add 2 drops chlorine remover (or the amount recommended per gallon of water on the brand you pick up.)  The bottle I have cost $2.99, bought from a pet store, it's used in aquariums to neutralize the chlorine so the water is safe for fish. I live in the city where chlorinated water is an issue, if you have well water or filtered water you could skip this step.
  • Mix in 1/4 tsp  unsweetened instant ice tea powder.
  • Three drops of antiseptic mouthwash.
  • Three drops of dish detergent. The one I'm using is Lavender and Sage, the aromatic qualities are an added insect repellent.
  • 1/4 tsp Miracle-Gro.
Screw on the cap, give it a good couple-three shakes, now you're all set for Indoor Gardening Day! As I said earlier, I mix up three gallons at a time and set them on the basement landing until I need them.  I keep all the ingredients, including the dedicated measuring accoutrement, in a little, handled shopping bag under the sink, so it's all in one spot.

Happy Indoor Gardening!
Blessings,
Melissa

Thursday, January 1, 2009

(More) Knitter's Candy-Knitting Needle Organizer

I like the title Knitter's Candy so I've decided to make it a regular feature title for all the fun knitting tips and ideas I want to share. This is a recent project of mine that involves my pet creative inspiration, pink, shiny, portable and most important, organized. I think it turned out terrific, I hope you get inspired to organize too!

I was more than halfway there organizationally speaking, I already had nearly all my knitting needles in one spot.  I was keeping them in a plastic expando file, but they were not separated, it was just a big jumble.  The only exception was that my double points were in a large zipper bag to keep them all together.
 
In comes the beautiful knitting tote that I spied while shopping one day at Threadbender Yarn! Gosh, that there's a pretty tote!!! I knew it would be perfect for my knitting needles, much prettier than the blue one I'd been scuffing around.  And I knew I could use this indulgence as a chance to get more organized! So I pulled out all my needles and organized them, straight in one pile, circular and double points each in their own pile. Crochet hooks... yep, there here too.

 
I found a different expandable file to fit inside the tote, pink seemed like a good choice. The great thing about this particular file was that the front pocket is rigid plastic and it's the perfect width for my two needle sets from Knit Picks! 
             
They fit perfect, just like two peas in a pod, as they say. Next came the crochet hooks.  There is a handy pocket in one corner of the tote which I used for my crochet hooks. 

Once I had the crochet hooks in place I tucked my expandable file in the tote.  Not only does it organize the needles but it protects the pretty lining from all those points too.
 
Done!
                      
I found that using only three of the file sections(straight, double point, circular) and spreading them out was more than enough to accommodate the bulk of the needles.  Now I have them in one, lovely, portable, organized place. They are ready to grab and go for that last minute dash to knitting class when you can't remember which size needles you are suppose to bring, no worries!

There she is in all her glory! All zipped up and ready to go.  (I loved the knitting tote so well that when Threadbender's had a sale on them last week, I bought another one! Which I will use as a project tote, it's so pretty! ) 
This size and shape bag is quite common in stores, I think you could easily pick one up...check your closet you may already have one on hand.  For those interested in specifics, the expandable file that perfectly fit the Knit Picks, Options and Harmony pouches was purchased at Target.

Happy New Year Friend!
Blessings,
Melissa

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I'm a crafter, knitter, tinkerer, who always seems to have a project or two on the launch pad. I love to share what I'm working on and I love to see what other folks are working on too, so please comment and let me know where I can see your latest creation!