Virginity Pledges Totally Ineffective - Well Duh

Headline... New study finds that abstinence education and "virginity pledges" are ineffective.

I mean it was just matter of time for the studies to start rolling in, but then I am not shocked, it's human nature. And before it became a "moral" issue it was just a simple issue of evolutionary survival. You have to procreate to have your species survive and we are hardwired to "do the deed" it's just part of our DNA!

And what better age to do it at from an evolutionary standpoint than from the ages of 16-20 something. Ages when we are young, strong and fit for the most part. It's pretty much just science.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't think kids should be out there bed hopping and having sex every which way but loose. Pregnancy and social diseases have made that a pretty poor idea, not to mention that we are saddled with some pretty powerful social taboos on the subject. But if just for a moment we did not have those social taboos and there were totally effective methods of birth control and no medical worries... really what would be so wrong about it?

In the end I choose to give my kids effective and frank information on the topic of sex along with some reasons that I think they should wait. Good reasons in my book based on my experiences as a teen. But lets face it, hormones are powerful stuff and if we could harness the evolutionarily driven teenage lust into an effective power grid we would never have to worry about the light bill again. But until then, all bets are off and a pledge is a piss-poor way to equip your teen for life.

For those more interested in effective education  I recommend and support Scarleteen as one of the best factual sex positive and safe sites for real information for you and your teen. -- check them out!

Letting the cat out of the bag.

It nearly killed me not to share this little cutie with you! Please meet Little-Huck, he is a needle felted little fella made in the likeness of the newest family member of a dear friend. He was lots of fun to make and I plan doing quite a few others after the new year. I created him from scratch but for those who want a little more guidance there are tons of kits to be had by just Googling!

In other news we have a new family member... please everyone give a warm welcome to Xxee from the a planet "far away".

Xxee was created and sewn together by this sweet little dude. And his inspiration came from
this book/kit Stupid Sock Creatures . Little dude got the book and kit for Xmas and while the kit was lots of fun to open if you happen to have even the most simple of craft supplies on hand not to mention some unmatched socks this might be the craft for you!.. and all you would have to do is get the book. I can see that this is going to seriously cut down on the issue of mate-less socks in my house!

Say " Gocco".. like locco.

I am doing a litte happy dance here at Chez-Anarchy since the delivery of my new-to-me Gocco machine. If you are not familiar with a Gocco here is the 411: Gocco is a small sized screen printing machine that has been around in Japan for going on 30 years. America was slow to pick up on the Gocco but it has been in the states since the late 70's. Alas the maker of the Gocco is a fickle company who keeps pulling them on and off production making those who own them bite their nails hoping that some other company will buy the rights to the machine and start making them and the supplies here in the U.S or any where for that matter!

I got my machine last week but was in the thick of party and Christmas plans so it sat until today.. Christmas day for me to play with it.. and play I did! Today was a beautiful day so I went out to snap a photo of the house. I took this photo into photoshop and converted it into a line drawing tweaking the contrast and such until I had a good "artsy" looking image of our house. I then printed it off and then made a copy of it on our copy machine ( that is one thing about the Gocco, you need a carbon based image to burn your image from, ink jet images will not do!).. So I burned the image with the little light box and flash bulbs that you use.. and FLASH!! literaly moments later I was ready to ink my screen and start printing.

20 minutes and 50 cards later I had a very nice stack of cards drying and lots of more plans in my head for future projects. If you want to know more take a peak at this video, the Etsy labs are all over all things Gocco and this is an even better explanation of how this little wonder of a machine

A No Toy Christmas

No, it's not a Grinch thing, if they really wanted toys I would buy them some ( very carefully selected) but as I look around I realise that even though we still have at least two of our children in their elementary years there are no toys in our house. Yep, you got it, we don't buy toys. No, not one toy, no cars, no trucks, no video games. Nothing that flashes, beeps, or wails ( thank God). They did take a gander at the Toys-R-Us toy pages when they came in the paper last month but not one thing was of interest to them.

As you can imagine this makes us less than the target demographic for toy companies and we don't even spend time in the toy section of Target except to check and see if there are any new and interesting games, since games we do have! Alas unless you have the IQ of a squid most of the games on the market these days are branded pablum with dice and a spinner thrown in for the hell of it. Hanna Montana Checkers anyone? Or perhaps a fast paced game of Jonas Brothers Scrabble...spell poke "me in the eye with a fork!"
Is it any wonder that the collective IQ and imaginations of today's children is dropping faster than the current stock market!!?? Grandma.. back away from the Hanna Montana microphone, aunties and grandma's, no buying panties and Pj's that say " HOTTIE" on them. People come to your senses!!! Buy products of value, those that teach lessons and skills. Those that require children to think, engage and stretch their imaginations. Start with a good book!

Hats for the Homeless

I can't think of much worse than having no home to call one's own and it's made even worse by it being cold and wet out. But I can think nothing nicer than a sweet little boy in our homeschooling group who wanted to do what he could to help. Thus he began * Hats for the Homeless* and asked his friends to join the effort.. we were honored to do so. So far we have 8 hats and 2 very proud little boys!

A purrrrfect schooling day.

Rule 1) cats should be a part of every school day.

Winding down on Turkey day

Turkey day here at Chez-Kertay did not go as planned since some of the children ended up with icky coughs and fevers but none the less we are thankful to be together and to have the warmth and love of many friends.
So since there were no guests to get ready for I spent the day primping the house and getting ready to pull down the holiday stuff for our annual decorating weekend. I will be very happy to open up the Fall-box next year and pull this stuff out. I just found these on sale a few days ago but have enjoyed them so much that I am sorry to see them go. The acorn candle sticks were from Hobby lobby and I scored them at 80% off!.. and the pine cones are pressed glass and they were 90% off ... got to love that! In other news, I have been working on the house trying to get stuff in shape for the newyear.. yesterday prject was the pantry. Les and Greg created custom dividers for all my food groups.. I could not be more happy with them!! Tomorrow all the food gets pulled out and I am going to paint and paper the inside of the area.
Finally got all the tensioned cafe curtains done for the dinning room.. 12 of them! ( 6 double windows).. That piece in the corner is the radio cabinet that belonged to my grandparents and then to my parents and now to me. The funny part was that when my parents got was painted.. so my mom had it stripped and finished to go with her house. Now for my house it's going to need to be painted again. If you look real careful in the details of the carving you can see little bit of paint.. guess I am more like my gradmother than my mom!

FABRIC!.. The dark floral to the left is the fabric from my sofa pillows that is also going to be the toppers for my windows.. the fringe is the the one that is on the curtains themself and the embroidered silk is going to be the linning for the topper.. nice hu???

So there you go... all the news that is fit to print!... Hope your day was divine!

Slow and steady wins the race

Or at least that is what I keep telling myself. Last night was an all night paint-a-thon and I am happy to saw that I have all the trim done!!!! It was a real killer moving all the books and painting all the shelves but the finished effect was well worth it. We still have a long way to go and I just threw stuff back together.. lots of stuff to move about and pics to hang but we are on our way!
Rewire 2 lamps - done!

Buy two sofas, and three chairs to replace piss poor current furniture- done!

Buy the wrong color of paint three times- done!

Freak out when cat scratches at new leather chairs- done! done! done!

Consider that painting dental molding should be some sort of punishment in hell- done!

Totally give up on decorating for Fall and move straight to plans for the holidays- done!

Finally buy correct paint and hide 3 "bad" gallons in far corner of the basement- done!

Pick up Bad Bad blogger award for shoddy posts of all sorts these days! - done!

Afterween.. do you celebrate?

Ah yes, Afterween.. my most favorite of holidays. Of course I celebrated in the traditional manner... Day after Halloween I drove straight to Homegoods and Tjmaxx and trolled the after holiday mark downs. This year was a total score!.. Retailers must really want to move stuff out since nothing I bought was over $2. SERIOUSLY.. all this stuff.. nothing over $2 and most was $1.50!! This was a good thing since my personal collection of Halloween stuff had gotten very sad over the years and I was ready for a new look. Nothing gory... everything cute and vintage looking. And while it's hard to see in these photos one of my very favorites of the season came from a dear friend and her sweet daughters. It's the mummy-duck there in the back. Come day light I will have to get a better photo.. he is so cute! A bit macabre, but oh so sweet at the same time.

Fall Food

Now that we are a mostly veggie family I have hit a wall when it comes to Fall food. I MISS pork roast and slow simmered chicken. And no, that fake stuff that they say "tastes like meat" will just not do..HA!. no such thing. And don't even get me started on veggie broth instead of chicken or beef.
So my goal is to make hardy rich tasting meals that fill the soul as well as the stomach!! Last night I used some adorable baby squash, french green beans and baby portabellas that I quickly blanched and then sauteed in walnut oil. I then topped it with Mizithra cheese and put it in the oven to broil for just a sec... enough to soften the cheese. I made a balsamic vinegar reduction to dribble on for those who wanted it. ..yuummmmmmmm

Pimp my sofa

Things are coming together for the livingroom redo.. here are the photos I promised. First off is my sad sad sofa. Actually it's not in awful condition but the cats had ripped up the front part of the arms and the back pillows ( already gone in this photo) had bellied out to the point that they would not even stand up any longer. So I purchased three large feather/down pillows and some new fabric to cover them as mentioned before ( two as yet to be done ,seen here)..I then removed the panels from the front of the sofa arms. These had seen some major cat abuse and I decided to recover them in the fabric I had chosen for the pillows. This was fast and simple. I am still thinking of adding the fabric to the lower front edge to match a great sofa I looked at while out. It also featured mixed fabrics in a way I love but it's colors were all off for my room. Notice the use of the table knife as upholstery undoer?.. NOT an approved technique.. I should be ashamed.
And here is my almost done "pimped" sofa. The large back pillows are slipcovered with long zippers on the bottom of each cover. I prewashed and dried the fabric so it would be safe to wash and dry later. I used a simple faux corded edge on the pillows since I knew they would get a lot of abuse and did not want to use expensive trim on them since some trims don't wash up all that well. I have some extra fabric and some fruffy trim for some small pillows that I hope to do later this week. The trim is left over from the new curtains I am just about done with. I had thought I would have them made since I am trying to get this project done. But after the $1600 quote to do two windows I decided that I could do them myself. That really is the bain of being someone who use to do this sort of thing for a living.. I can't stand to pay what it costs on the going market!

Things are starting to swing into high gear here at Casa-Kertay. The new found nip in the air has finally gotten me off my fanny to do something about our living room. First I spent a whole bunch of time looking at new sofas only to come to the conclusion that a new one would look as bad as my old (2 years) one in no time given the abuse it sees on a daily basis.

You see last time we got a new sofa we got a GOOD sofa, it was expensive and yet some how the dogs ( two Great Danes) and the cats ( 5 of them) missed the message that this was the GOOD sofa... but I suspect that they did not care. So fast forward two years and many many large doggy naps and scratching post sessions later and it's looking a bit worse for wear. I will not even talk about the back cushions and how they slumped 6 months after we got them!.. But it's neither here nor there now since I am getting rid of the fitted back cushions and making some nice new pillows for the back and adding some of the new fabric to the body of the sofa like so many of the really cute sofas you see these days. ( photos soon.. I promise)

I have had this project in mind for a while now but could not find any fabric that brought together all my colors until today! ( please join me in a small happy dance in celebration of this most wondrous event) I bought a yard this afternoon to bring it home and see it in my living room light since while Hanocks might be lit up by 100 florescent lights my home is not and that really changes the color of fabric. It was perfect and i returned tonight to get 5 more yards and 3 very large and very nice down pillows. This was another happy dance moment as it seems my $45 dollar each pillows had been marked down to $15 each and my fabric was 30% off. .. don't you just love it when it works like that??? For those wondering the fabric is from the Dublin collection at Hancocks and it's the Pecan floral.

My Dirty Little Secret

Bet that caught your attention hu? The truth is that I do have one.. I Maddie K. am a closet organizational junkie. I love stuff that is freaky hyper organized, I mean I get a little thrill when I see t-shirts color sorted, spices grouped by type and ribbons in color matched order. I nearly have a tiny little stroke of ecstasy just walking into the Container Store, and yet that is not how I live my life and I generally think it's for the best.

Mind you, a times like now I think it would be best to let a little bit more of this side of me out of the closet and in fact I am in order to get some work done on the house but once it gets out.. well do you remember that movie where the cute little furry creatures stayed cute as long as you did not feed them after midnight? Well it's sort of like that. So thus I am careful how much I let out at a time.

People mock Martha Stewart all the time but I do understand where she is coming from and it's just that she has let her monster out of the closet ( or can't get it back in) and she even dances with it! Do I think it's good for her?.. well maybe for her bank account..yes, but personally no. I think she has suffered for it as do all of us who put our stuff no matter grand or meager in front of our connection with people and this often really extends to our own families and close friends.

Last night on the spur of the moment we had some darling friends over for a last swim of the year before we closed the pool. I would have loved for my house be be perfect.. for it to have glowed with candles and warm Fall decor but in the end it was cheap pizza, Jones sodas and a most wonderful evening of just kicking back with friends and the kids. Swimming, warming up by the fire pit, laughter and in the end much more rewarding than alphabetized spices.
**Please note: that is not my craftroom, but is sure is cute and orgainzed! :)

Getting *paid* to Clean up my act.

Seems that I am finally back in the swing of things when it comes to making some progress on getting this house finished. We got some new furniture delivered ( photos soon!) and I am busy cleaning out things in preparation for some painting and other changes. This all feels pretty good and as a cosmic bonus it paid me $60!

You see since we have become debt free for our daily expenses (not bills) we use cash. I get out a set amount every two weeks and that is what we use for groceries, gas and the like. This took a little getting used to but makes you pretty dang accountable for your spending when you watch it go away as dollar bills as opposed to as a swipe of the debit or credit card. As an off shoot of this I am known to squirrel away a $20 bill each time and tuck it away just in case we get to the end of a two week period and I would be low on funds and need gas.
SOOOOO.. when I went to go clean out some purses that were in a drawer and decided which to keep and which to donate I did an interior inspection on each and found : 1 lost house key, 1 missing ear ring, numerous phone numbers scribbled on slips of paper and $60! ( 3 $20 bills to be exact) Sometimes life is good :)

Do your jeans really fit?

Well mine never did. It seems I was under the delusion that I had a waist, or more to the point that I had hips. It seems that I really don't and honestly I could not be more thrilled to find this out! Seems that Lane Bryant (yep..the big girl store) has put their money into a multi shaped line of pants and jeans that breaks our human/woman shape down into finer detail which in the end gives us more choices that ever when it comes to shape and fit.

Personally I have found the holy grail of jeans. Seems I am a YELLOW, this is LB code for the fact that I am lacking in hips or if you're being less charitable.. my waist is not waisted, in fact it's the same size ( or just about) as the fullest part of my hips. ( Might you be a RED, or a BLUE?)

Silly me.. I never did understand why I could get jeans that fit in the hips then I could not button them, or if they could button they flapped around my hips like sails in the wind. And guess what?.. seems I am also a petite!.. at 5foot 5 I wear a petite!.. But who cares!... my jeans fit.. in fact they fit so well that i went back and bought 3 more pairs!

Best of all since getting them I have had 3 people stop me to ask where I got my jeans since they looked so good!.. two of the women were MUCH smaller than my rather generous size 16 self and were disappointed to know that they would not be able to get any for themselves. But if you happen to be a 14 or above, make your way to Lane Bryant and find out your true shape.. you will not be sorry!! My pair are the trouser cut, dark wash and were $44 a pair. Better yet there is a coupon right now on the website that give you $25 off of $75 or $50 off of $150.

More proof that I am a slacker...

If I were a good upright person I would be in mopping my kitchen floor... and yet I am not.. Hester is doing it for me :) And you what's even worse?.. I left the cats to supervise!


Lapbooking, while not widely used is one of our keys to effective and dynamic learning. I think of it as a practical and visual bridge between what we have read and what the kids take in. The kids enjoy going back over the books and showing them off to their dad in a presentation they do at the end of each unit. The photo below is from Greg's lapbook on microscopes and introduction to the microscopic world around us. This book represents about 1 week of science work and it is sort of slim. Most of our lapbooks last for more like 2 weeks and sometimes 3 if it's a big subject. But generally I like to keep it to 2 so things feels fresh and new.

We use multiple different formats to showcase our learning. To the far left of the above photo he used mailing tags to draw examples of the two main types of microscopes that we studied. We secured these in with a brad so the cards swing apart for easy viewing. In the center we used a blue CD envelope with clear window to hold the drawings of what the kids saw through the microviewer. In the zebra paper-flap book there is an example of graphed micro drawing ( why zebra paper?.. why not??) Barely visible under the the flap book is a small plastic envelope in which we put index card on which we list our vocabulary words from the unit. This makes for an easy way to review words and play simple memory games with the cards.

What you can't see above due to rather crap-tastic photography on my part is the fact card on Robert Hooke, an actual slide that was preped and attached in the book and a labeled diagram of all the parts of a microscope.

Below is the front of the folder with a graphic of one of the early microscopes built by Robert Hooke. Each boy went on to add other personal art to the front cover. I believe dripping blood was a popular thematic choice ( but not mine!)

Today we got to work in earnest on our Classification unit. We started off by talking about Carl Linnaeus and his gift to us of the system of Taxonomy that is still pretty much the standard used today. In doing that we studied some basic systems of sorting and classifying. We used buttons for our purpose since wide slew of wild animals was not at our disposal! I found this lesson on line - Dichotomous Keys..

Currently we are out by the pool and the boys are enjoying one of the last nice swimming days of the year :)

Back in the Saddle Again... sort of...

It's been a long time since I have felt very crafty given all that has been going on in my life of late, but that old magic feeling is creeping back into my life and I spent a few hours over the last few days doing a little project that serves not only to quell the crafty beast within but also serves to align our family a little closer with some of our more fleeting goals.

In this case along with jumping off the Christmas/holiday machine we have also decided to do our best to jump of the "birthday machine". Our personal hope is to bring our family birthdays back to simple affairs and in line with that we have decided that we will give simple-memory gifts to those we love and are lucky enough to spend time with on their birthday.

In keeping with that theme I crafted a whole smack-load of personal Birthday-Wish candle holders since each person no matter how old or young deserves a special wish on their birthday and this is just the candle for that!

(Above) I have prepackaged up a few of them using pages from vintage* birthday themed books as the backer cards and "ransom note" style cut outs and *wish* tickets on the header cards.
The rest of these little guys and girls are waiting their turn on the shelf in my office.. they look a little shell-shocked from the flash photography but assure you they are quite happy there.

* Please rest assured that all the books used are books that have been found in the damaged bin at our local used book store, no true vintage books were given up to this craft.

Well THAT was unexpected!

Needless to say I did not expect to fall off the earth from July to September..but who does? In my case life got very sad very fast .. After an 8 year battle with cancer my Father died in August. I was very lucky to get 10 blessed days with him and to be so lucky as to be with him as he died. During that time I got to spend time with my sister, reconnect with two women who were like mothers to us and get to know our most wonderful Aunt Ruthie. I will miss my father so very much, in fact I am not sure it's really sunk in that he is gone. I am not sure how long it will take but I am sure that when it really gets here it's going to be a whopper.

During those 10 days with him I was able to take him to fish on his beloved lake and get this photo.. I miss you daddy!

Hello from Cades Cove

It was a beautiufl day exploring in Cades Cove. To much traffic for us to bike safely, but the use of our cool walking sticks made it much more of an adventure. The photo is one I shot of the Oliver House and then worked with in Photoshop.. the boys photo is only been cropped and toned to go well with the Oliver House photo.

So long ago.... and yet just the blink of an eye..

Today would have been Gabriel's 8th birthday.. not a day goes by that I don't think of him. To loose a baby, to loose any child is like slicing out a part of your heart .. nothing can fill that void but you keep on living, learning how to love others around that hole and sometime because of it.

From my garden

Wishing all of you the most peaceful of Summer evenings and bright sunny days.
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Swim cute

Guess who just learned how to upload directly from Picasa?... cute photo hu?
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Bunny view

Well Summer is in full swing here in Chattanooga. It's time for Riverbend and my garden is still doing well even with all the heat. I choose not to look at the water bill but overall most of the plants are from last year so they are well rooted and don't need as much waters as plantings from this year.
From this photo I have artfully cropped out the porch that needs cleaning, the gutter that needs painting and the window that needs washing.... better to live my Anne of Green Gables sort of fantasy.. at least while I look at this photo.

A cure for the Summer time blues

With the just about endlessly cool resources available on the Internet I have been planning out our Summer. My kids are ones who do best with a schedule.. and a semi-tight one at that. So with that in mind and now that my oldest has moved out we are working towards our final Summer time layout. One of the kid's favorite parts is that we are going to do two new crafts per week.
Today we did these way cool watercolors that we read about at the Crafty Crow.
Heavy grade REAL water color paper, good quality watercolor paints, black India ink. Don't skimp, you will not get the same magical effect.