Dreamcicle Berry Triffle - Anarchy Kitchen

You know you want some!

I can say without hesitation that this dessert was incedibly well received when taken to a wonderful little pot-luck picnic that we went to this past week and I have been asked multiple times already for the recipe so..what's a blogger to do but post it up to share!

I made this with Doc in mind since he loves loves creamy,orange and cold! This trifle wins on all those fronts and then adds in berries and AngelFood cake, so good it's sinful!  Even better there are two ways to make this. One is more classic and the other gets you in and out of the kitchen at the speed of light! Not to mention it stays nice and cold  without much hassle on your part.

I am going to give you the easy version and if you are driven mad with interest I will also give you the classic version upon request.

1 Angelfood cake
2 tubs Cool whip (defrosted)
4 little portions of Vanilla Swiss Miss pudding
1 tablespoon orange liqueur or real orange extract
14oz of frozen mixed berries ( keep them frozen)

Here we go..honestly it will take you longer to read this than to do it...
Cut the Angelfood cake up into bite sized cubes and put 1/2 the cubes in a big bowl ( reserve the other 1/2 you will need them!)
In a different bowl put the pudding and add the orange liqueur then fold  in the Cool Whip until barely incorporated.
In the bowl with the layer of AngelFood cubes now put half the Cool Whip mixture on top of the cubes and toss lightly. Then put 1/2 the frozen berries on top of that. Then add the rest of the cubes and then the rest of the Cool Whip  this time just putting the whip on top, not mixing it with the cubes ( so it looks like a nice fluffy cloud on top!).. Now use up the rest of the berries on the top..ohhh pretty!

Keep it cold till 1/2 hour before serving but  then make sure to take it out so the berries start to get soft and lovely.  That's it and you will be called a food goddess.. which it totally not bad for 15 minutes of work on your part!

Photoshop Love

Have I ever mentioned how much I love playing around in Photoshop? Taking a photo that I love and then adding a bit of a boost to it. Maybe aging it a bit to fit my hazy Summer memory of a terrific weekend on Tybee Island. Yeh, I love Photoshop

How about you? Are you using photoshop with your photos?
Are you hooking up with the great actions from Pioneer Woman?
If not you should!

In Praise of the Simple Birthday - Just My Opinon

Today is Son10's  birthday and he is celebrating it by playing a game of D&D with his close friends. They are enjoying this around our dinning room table in the middle of the afternoon. Just 7 kids hanging out playing a beloved game and they could not be happier.

There are no inflatable jumping things, no circus performers, no rented go-carts or portable big screen TV's with multiple high end game consoles from which kids play first-person shooter games in the name of celebrating the birth of a friend. (Yes that is me being snarky)

If it's not obvious by now I am a fully supporting member of the Simple Birthday Society or SBS.  Yes, I just made that society up but if you too would like to be a charter  member just sit there at your computer and raise your right hand and say. * I do solemnly swear that I will embrace the simple and the sweet, I will turn my back on the big, the ridiculous and the flashy. And no matter what my neighbor does I will not fall victim to the corporate birthday monster that roams the land making parents think they must spend thousands of dollars on a birthday and that makes children expect such excess as a right of passage from one year to another.*  After all if you give them the world at 8 what they hell are you going to do when they are 16??

Today's birthday machine is a monster so out of control that it's hard to distinguish some birthdays from those of your smaller theatrical events and I find something really wrong with that. Not to mention the pressure mother's are putting on themselves to pull off these events.

Keep it Simple!

I mean you know that I am crafty as the next craft obsessed diva but I know of  many moms who spend days if not weeks feverishly  and stressfully crafting banners, cupcake toppers, t-shirts, gift bags... oh lets talk about the gift bags!  When did it get written that you leave a party with more than you came with??  Really, I am all about thanking guests for coming and I might be one of the few people in the world who insists on always bringing a hostess gift when I go to an event but DANG!...  where are the days when you went home from a birthday with a punch-balloon and a nifty pencil.. and you were happy to get it!

Son10 is a bit past the punch-balloon age (sad since I really do love me some good punch balloon!) and he is on a mission to put less in the landfill so Son10 decided that  each child should get their own glass to take home as a party favor. He decided on  those snazzy glasses with the chalk board centers  from Pier 1. I then used my vinyl cutter to make the wording.. Sam's D&D Party and Roll a D20.  Simple and done in under and hour!

Please don't get me wrong, I love a big crafty blow out events, I love fussing over details, planning and anticipation when I host a crafty get together or big number event. Where I get concerned is when the event in it's self is more the focus than the child. When guests( kids) come for the entertainment rather then the connection with the kid. That is when it went wrong for me and it was the day I stepped away from "Big-Birthday America".  And I have never regretted it for a moment.

So.. have you felt the big-birthday pressure?  How do you deal with it? How about your child?

My Chattanooga - Rawlinson Construction

If you have been hanging around here for any length of time you know that the Anarchy Estate is a big old rambling house that is going on 100 years old. It has been through some major renovations in it's time and some of them were not kind to this old gal and we have spent considerable time and money undoing much of what was done badly in the past. Orange Formica anyone??

Doc and I became the stewards of Anarchy about 10 years ago and had grand plans to have her fixed up in 5 years from the date of purchase. Even those with "slow" math skills can see that we have over-shot the mark to say the least considering we are only about 70% done here in May of 2011. Honestly, like most projects the devil is in the details and while I love the grand vision there is nothing sexy about scraping and painting trim.

Putting in staircases...Oh yeh!, ripping down walls and putting up new ones?.... ooobaby...nothing makes my heart beat faster and Doc and I have done it all over the past 10 years. And when I say "we" did it I mean WE DID IT.  A construction grade Sawsall and I are on close speaking terms and I even have my own air compressor...sexy huh?  But when it comes to some jobs I am HAPPY.. neigh delirious to hand them over to a professional. Trim work is one of those things as is drywall finishing. I can do both, but others can do it better and I am happy to pay them for that service.

That is where Terey Rawlinson comes in.  He is the owner of Rawlinson Construction and he is a wizard when it comes to framing and finishing so your house looks like a million dollars. I first meet Terey when  he came to mud the walls of my newly hung drywall 3-4 years ago. This man left me with walls that were smooth as a baby's butt! And not to mention he was kind, polite and respected my house as if it were his own.  I can tell you that these are uncommon traits in many construction trades ( some day I will tell you about the crew who were caught doing pot in my house!!)  so I appreciated him all the more when it became evident that he cared about a  job well done.

Terey books up fast but when you call him drop my name and if you make  a wicked-good batch of chocolate chip cookies I would mention that to ( never hurts, you know what I mean?)  

Terey Rawlinson- Rawlinson Construction

Happy home renovations Chattanooga!

Coffee & Cotton.... Who Do I Love

I titled this post Coffee and Cotton, but I should have called it ..... My Crafty Doppelganger. Since Robyn is indeed that without the evil part I assure you!

Did you know it's possible to have a wonderful friend for well over 13 years, to have cried with  them, to have rejoiced them and to have never met them in person? To have a relationship so comfortable and long lasting that it survives extended periods when you don't talk and yet the other flits through your mind at the oddest times as you go about your crafty day.

Honestly if it were not for the few years that separates us  I would be worried that my parents had left an extra baby in the hospital when they brought me home since on a very regular basis you can find us buying the same fabrics, facing them same struggles and delighting in the same things with out the knowledge that the other is at that very time doing the same thing from many states apart. Later when we find out I would not bat an eye if that spooky movie music started playing when an unexplained event occurs.

A fine example, of fabric bought within hours of each other.

Mind you this all works out really well for me since Robyn is insanely talented,  so much so that she is the owner and designer of  Kongo Handmade Cycling Necessities and the  incredibly popular ( not to mention adorable) blog, Coffee & Cotton.  Did I also mention that she designs websites?.. see.. easy to understand why I come out on the good end of this doppelganger deal!

If you don't know Robyn already pop over and give her a visit. She will reward you with her sweet and sassy take on life, sewing and mothering a big brood!.. oh yeh..  did I mention she has 9 kids?  Makes me feel like a total piker being the mother of only 6 !

Here is to you Ms. Robyn ~ You Rock my world.. and that's the way I like it!

Slap-dash Sewing- Just My Opinion

There is no doubt that the bloggy world is full of tons of talent. Most of it is eye popping with it's total creative energy and product. I love seeing the unending parade of fantastic ideas that flow onto my computer screen each day.

It is with concern that I notice one trend that does baffles me and it has to do with the acceptance of slap-dash technique when it comes to some of the projects out there. I see this most when it comes to sewing and home dec but I am sure that it creeps into other parts of the bloggy craft world.

Now don't get me wrong, I am the mother of many and like a good short-cut when it's possible or does not interfere with the quality of the project outcome. But when did it become ~cool~ to do less than the best possible in any given situation?

The acceptance of the glue gun sewing and not taking the time to learn simple techniques such as making button holes or learning to insert a zipper simply does not make sense in my head. On one hand I applaud the  creative thinking that has one mom hot-gluing her daughter's prom dress. Or the slipcover maker who resorted to using a stapler to close up her sofa cushions.  But why? Why not learn something new or strive for that higher level of attention to detail. Workmanship that you are proud to show off not that you tuck and hide. I mean if you went to the trouble to sew a slipcover take the time to learn how to insert a zipper for heavens sake!

I meander down this thought path as I am setting up classes for my new studio and am reflecting on the feedback I have gotten so far as to what people know, what they want to learn ( or not learn..which might be more interesting in the long run but not as effective for my $$bottom line$$)

Why is it that capable grown women ( and men)  today feel that they are unable to learn skills that the average Victorian youngster was expected to learn by age 12 ( if not younger)?

So I ask you, if you don't sew but are trying to achieve projects around the house my other means ( staples, hot glue, ties...etc)  What's holding you back from learning to sew?  Or if you know how to sew, why rely on less adequate techniques?  I would love to know and it will help me develop classes for the studio.

If you do sew and strive to learn new techniques and live by the adage that~ the inside should be as pretty as the out~, what inspires you to do so?.. Please share!

Want to read more on this topic?.. check out what Robyn at Coffee&Cotton has to say on the subject! She does a great job of giving voice to some of the things I did not say .. not to mention she is a better speller!

Still Stitchin!

I have had a lot of questions asking if I am still doing embroidery design work and creating collections, which is quite flattering if I do say so!  I am working on a bit of stuff but have the decided luxury of having a lot of other projects going so must admit that have not been doing a lot of design work for the past few moths.

It often takes something that catches my eye to draw me back to the design pad and just yesterday I ran into such an image. Of course it was over on the Graphics Fairy ( do you ever tire of me telling you that?)..  It was an image of two Seahorses that inspired this design.

This is a computer generated stitch image of the design I am currently working on... the computer generation is so good that you can even see a flaw I need to fix before I even stitch the first sample!  As you see I jumped deep into the color-pots with this and the pink and green are so fun but it would also sew out very nicely tone on tone for those who embrace a more calm color view!  Adding the Candle Wicking-esque was inspired by my friend Cathy over at Stitchfork. Her's use of CW got me to thinking and this design seemed a great place to put it!

I can't help but think that this image has a bit of Mackenzie-Child's sort of influence to it.  I have long loved MC stuff, and while some of it is a bit over the top for even me, my closet passion for such seems to seep more and more to my life these days.. maybe some day I will make the full plunge into such a color and pattern saturated life!

I suspect the new design will be up some time next week if not before then. So check back or sign up on the  e-mail notification at the top of the page since I will be giving away 10 copies of the design when it's ready!

Want to test stitch it for me on your machine?
It's 5x7 and I would need you report back by the end of the weekend
If so leave your name and machine type and I will pick 2 people for the task!

White is the New Black???-

I am about to say something that might get me bounced out of the blogging world on my pretty ear. Along with the birds and owls of the quilting world I might just be growing tired of the all white house.  Well that's not true, I love looking at the photos, they are dreamy like a soft serve confection but I have come to know that the look is not true to who I am and my life.

One of the great dangers of being a blogger and a blog surfer is that you can lose sight of yourself and your trueness in the face of so many talented people who do such a wonderful job expressing their personal style. I mean there are few who do it better than the wonderful creator of Dreamy Whites The imagery on her blog is swoon worthy and I never fail to see a heart stopping bit of pretty and for a while it made me what to go buy about 100 gallons of white paint and redo everything in my house. 

In fact I got so far as to have collected over 60 white paint chip samples that I obsessively poured over for weeks in an attempt to find the "perfect" white for the inside of Anarchy. I ached, I dreamed, I pondered how I was going to explain my new obsession to Doc ( who by the way would have been cool with it- he's like that).  But in the end I was saved from myself by this....  ohh that pink! While not the shade I would pick for my own house it made me tingle down to my toes. I have always loved color and pattern.

and this...

That grass-green rocks my world. The photo and sign are from the always wonderful MissMustardSeed and the paint in the green from the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint collection.

Ohhhh these colors make me so happy!

While the white rooms and houses made me feel mellow, the images of color make me happy, they make me smile and they give me energy. In the end I feel better and more "me" with the color than without.

So while I will never give up a chance to sneak a peek at those dreamy confections for my own sanity I will be stripping my P-board of images that don't help me keep my vision on track and as well I am be editing my personal magazine clips in the same way, and it feels good.

So tell me, have you ever strayed off course with your personal look, for yourself or your home? If so care to share your story?

My Chattanooga - The Insyde Outsyde Shop

Want to come shopping with me??

I love furniture with history. Pieces that make you wonder who had them before you and how they lived in the past. My house is filled with vintage items, but none to precious that they are not used every day and in every way!
 There is rarely a time that someone walks into my home and does not ask where I got something, and very often the answer is... The Insyde Outsyde shop!

The shop is packed to the rafters with wonderful vintage pieces like this Barley Twist dresser at prices that will make you do silly little dances of affordable excitement!

Or how about this piece?... swoon, yes! Lust! if I had seen this I would have totally made it mine! Things go fast at the shop so I try to check in as often as possible and when friends come into town it's the first place that I take them so they can share in the goodness.

My newest piece from the shop is a beautiful  armoire ( a bit smaller than the one above) that is getting ready for some Annie Solan Chalk paint to really make it sing.   I am STILL dithering on the color since I love all the white on white I am seeing out there but the truth is I am a color girl.. just love it.. it makes me happy so while not what the majority are doing these days  I think it will end up some luscious color that makes my heart sing.. now if I just knew what the color was I would be set!

In any case, if you are looking for the coolest vintage finds around lets make a date and go to the Insyde Outsyde shop together..ok?

The Insyde Outsyde Shop
5006 Dayton Boulevard Chattanooga, TN 37415
(423) 875-9828

* This is a non-compensated post, I just happen to love the shop and like to share my  addiction excitement with others! When you get over there tell Victoria I sent you!

Top 5 Salads of Summer

Do you like salad?  We do and we eat a lot of them in the Summer. I try to do at least one salad dinner per week and I might even sneak an extra one in if it's heavy on the meat since my brood love their meat! There are a ton of good recipes out there but if you are short on inspiration here are a few of my favorites!
  1. Bread Salad - Ripe tomatoes, good bread, killer olive oil not to mention the soft motz. make this one a family favorite.   THIS is a good base recipe and then I add an subtract extras based on what looks good at the produce stand that day.
  2. Warm Spinach Salad- This one is a love it or hate is sort of affair. I love it! Flavorful and with baby spinach so easy to get these days it's quick to make. I add more eggs and a bit more bacon and drop the nutmeg but otherwise THIS is how I make mine.
  3. CousCous Salad - This could not be much easier and it's best done early in the day so the flavors mellow.. LOVE IT!
  4. Pasta Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes - YUMMMMM!  I add grilled chicken to THIS to make it really sing!
  5. Black and Blue Salad - Early in the week when I cook some steak I make an extra with just THIS salad in mind. If you love beef and blue cheese this is the recipe for you!
So, what other salads should I add to my list?  It there one I missed that you just love?  Let me know and maybe  I will add it to my Summer line up!

The Nothing Box / Men are Different- Marriage on Monday

By now I think just about everyone on the planet has seen this video by Mark Gungor where he talks about the differences between the brains of men and women- very funny stuff.

While not gospel truth for every couple its  close enough to hit home for  most of us especially when it comes to the ~Nothing box~ , Ah the " nothing box".. the place men mentally go when they need to escape the stresses of their life and sometimes their kids and their wife. Sturdy, simple, plain and fit for the task at hand which is not letting seperate parts of life touch. The place of vast openess only possibly populated by a beer and a tv remote ( you can also insert beer and fishing/golf/running here if that works better for your man)

The ~Nothing Box~ is indeed a mystery to most wives and girlfriends, we don't "get it" due our nature of innerconnected everythingness ( my blog my words). Generally speaking a lot of us just don't have a Nothing Box. If we have something close it's the "shopping box" or the "chic-flick box" . Personally mine is the "putter around house-box"  and  it's even cute and decorated to match the other boxes in my head. ( The decorating of boxes also baffles men)

In our female boxes  innerconnectiveness creeps out  and soon we are once again hopping from box to box mixing up the contents until it looks a bit like our brains were dumped into a food processor. Generally guys don't do that, they get into any box they wish but don't pull out multiple boxes at the same time since that gets messy, and guys don't do messy in that way very well. Which of course baffles us since in that way women are messy.

Guys don't do it and that we women do befuddles them at best and scares them at worst. They just can't understand how a "discussion" about who is going to do the dishes ends up with a sad and emotional story about our Jr. Prom night gone wrong. WAY tooooooo many boxes were opened up in the context of that conversation for even the bravest of men not to want to run and hide in their personal "Nothing Box" where life is quiet and simple.

Generally you can tell that you have opened up tooooo many boxes when your guy gets a glazed or slightly panicked look during what you think to be a simple discussion. That glazed look is him desperately searching for his ~Nothing Box~ looking for a place to hide. If you see that look back up and close up a couple of the boxes, come back to point and you will generally see his panic lift and he will return to the conversation at hand.

I don't totally understand the ~Nothing Box~ but I am trying!!!  Let's see what Doc has to say!....

I love this video for its humor and some of the points that really hit home. It isn't perfect and I don't agree with it all, but there is enough truth to make it seem familiar to most of us - which is why it's so funny. Also, let's get this out in the open right away - we're dealing with generalities here, not the reality of every individual reader. See what fits, and use it, throw the rest away. That's how it works.

That out of the way, I was about to write that, being a "shrink," my brain is somewhere in between discrete boxes and a buzzing mass of interconnections. Then I realized this isn't quite true. What is true is that, as a psychologist, I am capable of seeing interconnections that not all of my male compatriots see - nor do they care about them. What's also true, however, is that I don't do this all the time - I only live in that world of buzzing interconnectedness when I'm working at it. Even here I tend to compartmentalize.

That ability to compartmentalize is the key to understanding mental "boxes" in general, and the "nothing box" in particular. In my experience, women often feel that the men in their lives don't care about relationships or emotions. While this may be true part of the time, mostly what happens is that we have a tendency to care about what's in front of us, and we lose track when it is no longer "front and center." Sadly, this leads to forgetting important things: birthdays, anniversaries, things we were supposed to pick up at the store, making sure the kids have necessary care when mom is going to be busy. Sometimes it is true that a man forgets these things because they don't care, but most of the time that's just the way our brains work. This seems to make women crazy, most especially when her man has forgotten something important and he's instead immersed in his "nothing box," watching mindless TV or practicing fly casts in the backyard pool. It makes women crazy that men do this; it makes men crazy that women assume we do this because we are callous cads who have no emotional life. 

The advantage of compartmentalization is that it allows us to move forward with the modern version of hunting and gathering - working at the office. I set aside whatever else is going on, walk away from the emotional pulls of my marriage, my family, and my friends, and get focused on killing the next Wildebeest, or whatever is my particular modern equivalent. The disadvantage, of course, is that I can disconnect from others and lose sight of relationships and other emotional realities.

Women by and large don't tend to do this kind of compartmentalizing. When they work, they work differently. The upside of keeping sight of all those interconnections is that relationships are maintained much more effectively - for proof of that I need to look no further than the realization that Maddie can talk to a complete stranger for 2 minutes, and she will know the names of all their children, their spouse, where they work and what they do, and probably will have a good sense of how they care for their pets. The downside is that, when everything is connected to everything else, nothing is simple. Everything means at least four different things. To be sure, a woman is entirely capable of handling an emergency or making a quick decision - it's just that afterward a woman will tend to think about the meaning of everything that happened, and a man will tend to move on to the next thing. Absent a "next thing" the man goes to the nothing box. The woman, alas, having no nothing box, ponders what just happened, connects it to something emotional, and thinks the man is callous and a brute because he doesn't seem to care.

So, the next time you think your man doesn't care, just ask yourself this: does he really not care, or has he just moved on to a different box? When he's in his nothing box, does it really mean he doesn't care about you? Try letting him have his plain, discrete boxes, and let her have the cute little decorated boxes with the mixed up contents. You both might learn that together, you make something way more than either of you alone.
Your turn!.....So what do you think???

Gettin my Game Face On- Stitchology

As some of you know I am in the process of opening up a new studio off-site from my home. And while it barely qualifys as off-site since it's little more than 100 steps from my house I am VERY excited about it and the classes I will be able to offer  in the expanded space.

Currently this is also incrediably frustrating since I am pretty much stuck not being able to do much of anything since I have thrown out my back, even blogging hurts and I can only do it in very short sessions since sitting is pure agony.

I  have been working on promo-material as I am able and wanted to show off the little card I am currently giving to the students at my other classes since they are also waiting in wild antisipation fro clases where the occasional glass of wine is offered up not to mention yummy munchies and cool tunes to go with all the crafty and sewing goodness.

I love the way this looks when printed on some vintage linen emboss paper and then trimmed with a curved edge punch... so fun and pretty.

The image is from my alway favorite Graphics Fairy and the font is HP psg

If you happen to be in Chattanooga TN or the surrounding area keep your eyes peeled  for more information as we get closer to opening.

Oh Irony!- It's Self-Care Sunday

My back hurts, and I mean really really hurts.
This does not happen very often but when it does my life comes to somewhat  crashing halt since it seems that everything I do requires me to have a spine- crazy huh?

Sitting hurts
Walking hurts
Bending -forgettaabout!

So that means:
no sewing
no painting
no cleaning
no cooking
no crafting
no driving
no shopping

Which means

Please forgive me and know that I will be back to normal soon!

Join us in - The Summer Kitchen

As I have mentioned before Summer at the Anarchy Estate is different. It's goal is laid back with lots to interesting stuff to do but at more relaxed pace that affords us time to just enjoy life. Of course this never means that brains rot or all day cartoon fests are permitted. Education never needs to end and to that point each Summer we work on a new life skill of some sort.

This year we have decided on cooking and budgeting as an area of focus for the Summer. Each week the boys are each given a crisp new $20* bill from which they have to make dinner for our family. The meal needs to include a main dish, a side dish, a salad and if possible a dessert.  Greg is Tuesdays and Sam is Thursdays and I cook the rest of the nights!

The boys were given two cook books to work from The Dinner Doctor and Sandra Lee's 20 Minute Meals.  These books were chosen due to their simple but flavorful recipes and their ease of instruction. I had started off letting them use any of my cook books but saw the error of my ways when Sam asked where he could buy eel.  Sam at 10 is WAY more adventurous an eater than most 40 year olds and while I love to try new stuff I thought we needed to rein things in a bit.

Week 1 has come and gone, first was the shopping.
Can you tell that Sam is all about the plaid?

Each boy did their own shopping from the list they made. I went and did the other shopping and they found me when they were done and they had checked out (by themselves) They are permitted to use coupons, in store specials and any ingredients that happen to be in the house but must otherwise buy all the food needed with that crisp $20 bill.

Next came the cooking.

Greg decided on making Shrimp and Grits  and here you see that his hand is a blur as he makes sure that the grits are totally lump free!

While not the most tidy cook Sam was exacting in making sure to follow the Dinner Doctor instructions for how much fresh Parsley was to be added and at what point!  Sam only asked for help on one thing - to drain the heavy pasta pot full of boiling water and hot Ziti. This was a good call and while I let them do anything they feel they can accomplish safely I do encourage everyone to teach their kids proper use of all kitchen equipment!

The meals were both wonderful!  And both boys came in under budget.

Sam is looking pretty serious about getting to eat!

On Greg's night we ate in the kitchen. Spring had thrown a curve ball in the way of a couple of cold days so the shrimp with garlic and bacon were divine over the hot grits. He served a fruit salad with it and he had made brownies for dessert.  After the meal he realized that he had forgotten to serve the spinach, but so it goes!

On Sam's night...

Sam made Ziti with Salmon and an Arugula salad with roasted asparagus and red pepper strips and we ate out on the porch since the wonderful Spring weather had returned.

I can't wait to see what they make next week!

Do you let your kids cook? 

Please Join Me in Having a Soulful Summer.... Firefiles

Here at the Anarchy Estate Summer starts this weekend and will be enjoyed all the way to September when the boys will start back to formal lessons.Of course by no means does Summer mean the end of learning, just a more casual pace and lots of popcicles!

This Summer I am going to strive for the feeling I remember from my childhood of never ending days that offered opportunity at every turn. Even if that opportunity was just a lazy nap in the hammock.

To start our weekend right we are going to have our first Firefly watch of the Summer.  These glowing little friends are a great reflection of our ecosystem and can be found in both rural and urban locations making them lots of fun for kids of all ages!

With little more than a mason jar, each night we will embrace the falling dark and watch for the first glimmer in the bushes,the first twinkle that welcomes the night. We might just sit and watch, or we might catch and release using a mason jar with air holes punched in the top. If feeling quite ambitious we will learn more about Firefiles using this page HERE

I invite you to join me

Coolibar Winner!!!!

You know you are such a dork when you are shaking with excitment to draw the winner of a hat giveaway. But dang.. this is a great hat !!!  I know since it's sitting right here on the desk next to me, yes dear winner I am feeling up your soon to be hat!

It's just like the hat in the photo but a very "Out of Africa" shade of oatmeal. The winner is going to LOVE it! Coolibar outdid themselves with this hat and a BIG thank you goes out to them for this wonderful prize.

So I suppose you want to know who is the winner is huh????.... well with no further ado!.... drum roll please ~^~~^~^~^~^~^~^~^  the winner is

Comment number 5!!    Lisa Fox you are the winner of the hat!!!!

Anonymous said...
T and I need a new hat too! Maybe add one of your lovely flowers? Can you show us how to make a sunflower or daisy?

Dear Lisa, please leave a comment here and then contact me at maddie6@bellsouth.net or on the Domestic Anarchy FB page so I can make arrangements to get the hat to you!

And thanks to ALL of you for taking the time to play along. While this has been tons of fun ( if you forget that Blogger decided to take a holiday in the middle of it all)  I want to remind all of you that Sun protection is SO important and I  ask you to take time to watch this video as a reminder of that.  As a special note to those who have teens or who are themselves hitting tanning beds, tanning bed use DOUBLES your chance of Malignant Melanoma.  Skin cancer happens that way too!!

You are all important to me... take care,


My Grand Experiment- Pet style

Here at the Anarchy Estate we are sort of  wild about pets. We are blessed to be able to love and care for 2 Great Danes, 2 Westies, 5 cats and 1 bird.  With the exception of one cat with an attitude it's a rather peaceable kingdom and you can often find the Danes out on the deck sunning themselves with the outdoor cat and the Westies are known to share their kibble with their indoor feline friends.

Of course this does mean I scoop a lot of litter and buy a whole lot of pet food. The pet food is budgeted for but the time it takes to shop for it is actually what gets in my way so I thought I would see if there was an answer for my problem to be found out there in the wondrous World Wide Web.... and sure enough there was.  Like the ever so wonderful Alice.com there is an online place to get your pet food and have it delivered for FREE*  ~ Did you hear that.. I think it might be angels singing!~

Even better they carried our brand of dog food and  even the very picky type of cat food that my dear cat needs for his recurrent bladder infections.

I personally would not have been all that opposed to changing foods but the Great Danes would have! Previously when we have ever tried they have gotten gas so bad that they bark at their own rumps each time they emitted a gaseous blast. It was so foul that we had to leave the room!  Funny yes, but dogs that big with upset stomachs is not a pretty sight to say the least!

I went ahead and set up delivery based on how I usually shop for our dog food but have been assured that I can modify that schedule as necessary. The scheduled shipping gives me free delivery and because I dont' live in their shipping state it's tax free!  ~happy day~

I am excited to make yet another step towards freeing up more of my time to do more of the sort of things that I want to be doing ( sewing, playing with the kids down by the pool....). Since I have to admit, as much as I love my animals I don't love the weekly trip to the pet store for more supplies!

PetFlow wants to get out the word about how easy it is to get your good looking Fed-ex driver  (uhhh ok.. maybe yours is not ..but mine sure is!) to bring your pet it's kibble and I am thrilled to help them!...  Click  HERE  and you can check it out yourself. Watch for the pop up offer for free shipping for orders over $59 orreally low  flat rate shipping on any order ( oh yeh!) and give it a try. Let me know if you think it saves you time and I promise to report back on my experience as well!

* I am a PetFlow Ambassador and think they rock but I draw the line at kibble tasting, just sayin'. As always I promise you my honest opinion, even if it hurts.

Spring Where Did You Go??

Dang!..  May 17th and the weather has gone back to decidedly cool and blustery. So much so that I need to go dig out those leggings that I packed away last month! 

This is a photo from my garden yesterday as I took the puppies out for a romp.  While not a perfect bloom by any means I so love the faded shade of old pink and the hopeful little bud there next to the aging blossom.

I hope you enjoy it too.

Oh ALICE How I Love You- so far!

While this Alice is really the one I want  ( Carol Brady had it made!)

This is the one that is rocking my soul today!

I know I am late to the party but am SO loving ALICE  where I can shop for all of my non-food grocery items from the comfort of my own snugly sofa.  They even redeem national coupons.. heck yeh!  It did take me about an hour to set up my own product selection but I did it with a cat snuggled beside me and the kids were watching a movie so I can't complain all that much. The set up time pays off by quickly being able to  tick off what we need and then doing a rapid check out... easy peasy!

This is all part of my grand experiment to see if I can make technology and the Internet work harder for me than me for it!- making it an ultimate time saving tool. I will report back about how it goes as I check out all the options out there.  I placed my ALICE order today at 3pm Eastern and they say it will take 2-3 days to get it.. I look forward to seeing how this works out.

Want to try ALICE yourself?... it's really cool and if it works for you and you make an order over $50 you get $10 back...   Try this LINK 

Did I mention there shipping is ALWAYS free.. even if you buy like 100 rolls of TP..ohhh I might do that.. that would be funnnny!

If you have a cool Internet time saving resource leave it here in the comments section and I will check it out and report back!

Geek T's

Don't forget to pop over and sign up for the Coolibar hat giveaway.. the drawing is on Wednesday! CLICK HERE

Now... onto today's post......

While not the most pressing problem of humanity I do find the general direction of  Summer clothing for boys and young men  to be depressingly stupid, inappropriate and down right unappealing.  Have you seen the t-shirts that are marketed at young boys these days? What is it about the glorification of stupid  or gross when it comes to design for your boys? 

What about rockin the cool and the smart- the kid who does not think that Captain Underpants and R.L. Stein novels are good literature! How about something for those wonderfully geeky kids who delight in the periodic table and wait around the mailbox for the next issue of Popular Science? - yep I am talking about my kids and a whole bunch of other kids who think science and smart rock! 

There is nothing out there for these wonderfully smart kids! What's a geek-mom to do??

Well with the help of the ever so wonderful Graphics Fairy I have taken things into my own hands and am making shirts that are a perfect fit for my own little geeks and maybe yours too!

The first is a total geek mash up of a vintage microscope image, typography from the computer folks themselves HP, and a very cool frame which is also from the Graphics Fairy. I have composed this as a 8x10 printable to be used with TAP ( Transfer Artist Paper) for use on classic cotton t-shirts that most young boys love for keeping cool in the Summer.

 I have it  for Free Download HERE. Please understand this printable file is for personal geeky use only but I would love to see a photo of your little geek wearing it!

Here is one of  mine wearing his!... and yes he is actually reading Popular Mechanics,  Oddly right now the book he is reading is Outliers  by Malcom  Gladwell but he thought that was too weird  to have in a photo ...love that kid!

As I prepare and post other graphics for Geek-T's I will be posting the information on my Domestic Anarchy FB page so make sure to join up over there so you don't miss the news!

* In other news please note that Doc and I will be back next week with Marriage on Monday.

Sometimes it Feels Like This.. Self Care Sunday

Like a bad ride you just can't get off

Today I had planned to talk about something super important like brow grooming or the proper use of a Pumice Stone but instead have decided to talk about depression.  So if you want to bail now for something lighter and happier I will understand. But if you would like to stick around grab a beverage of your choice and settle in.

I am no stranger to depression, my family tree looks like an ad created by the Prozac company. Over all I have been lucky to skip the deeper impact of this silent and painful condition but did seek help and used medication in the years after our son died when it seemed the best way to help on the road to healing.  I firmly believe that medication in conjunction with therapy can be the saving grace for many who suffer from depression, but many people still suffer from the inability to talk about it or to get help. I talk about this today because we just found out that we lost a dear family friend to an apparent suicide yesterday, and we are heartbroken. His loss makes me all the more aware that we don't always know who is struggling with painful thoughts and feelings and the need to be more aware of those around us.

As I mentioned, my family tree is loaded with members who suffered from depression, some lightly and others such as my mother to the deepest depths. And like the other joys of my family heritage ( pale skin, tendency towards diabetes and colon cancer) depression has every chance of touching my children just as much as myself. For that reason we try to keep a very open dialog around here about such things and that if we are feeling bad that there are people to talk to and medicines that can help. These can be tough conversations to have but there is little to be gained and much to be lost when these subjects are taboo due to misinformation and long held social stigmas.

The numbers vary but for children it seems that about 1 in 33 children suffer from some sort of depression and that number becomes 1 in 8 when you are talking about teens. The rates of depression for adults hovers at about 1 in 10 but seems to be growing.  Talking is the start and  education on the matter is key. I suggest this ARTICLE about depression in childhood and from those of us who are a bit older, this is a good OVERVIEW about depression in adulthood.

I encourage all of your to know the signs of depression for both yourselves and for your family and if you see them think of them like any other health issue and seek treatment. Our bodies are full of biochemical wonderment,these fantastic reactions fuel our cells and guide our path but at times they get knocked out of function by events or heredity. The good news is that we live in a time where there are medications to help and people to talk to. 

Thinking of each of you... always,


Hats off to Coolibar! - It's a Sun Hat giveaway!

So, remember when I said back HERE that I was going to whip up a hat-giveaway ... well the VERY fine folks at  Coolibar  thinks it's a great idea too and they want YOU to have a wonderful Coolibar Marina Sun Hat, in a wonderful neutral shade of oatmeal. Coolibar is serious sun protection - you are going to love this hat!

And not just any hat is this fine hat!.. this hat has:

•Protective asymmetrical brim: Front-3 5/8"; Side-3 2/5"; Back-3 1/5”

•Moisture wicking internal headband

•Travel friendly crushable construction

•Polyester/cotton blend lined crown

•Woven polyester shell

•Hand wash


•Rated UPF 50+

So... want a hat this wonderful and cool?... you know you do!.. and I am going to make it easy to have lots of chances...  Leave a comment here on this post for one chance to win, leave another comment if you join my Facebook page over there on the left hand side of your screen.  And what the heck.. if you refer someone over here or post the contest to your facebook or your own blog  page   leave me another note for your third chance.   So there.. THREE chances to win this wonderful hat.

I will drawing a name for this hat on Wednesday of next week - May the 18th!

~ While the nifty Coolibar people are providing this WAY awesome hat I am not being personally compensated for this post.~

So You Think You Want To Homeschool

As our homeschool year comes to a close I have barely have had time to reflect on how it went before I am once again getting multiple questions from others who are considering homeschooling their own children. Lots of questions as to why and how I have done it over the past 20+ years and why the heck I am still doing it!

Do you remember the Army ad campaign that was something like... " The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love"... well homeschooling is like " The Toughest Job You Will Ever Love and Sometimes Hate"...  How's that for being honest!

Now I will say that there is a lot more to love than to hate but there have been some serious times in the past years when I would have loaded any and all of them on a big yellow bus headed for anywhere as long as it was not here. But then usually my period comes and I am once again sane ..but at times it can be dicey.

Anyone who tells you that homeschooling is all pretty smelling unicorn farts is either only on their third week of homeschooling ( high on the homeschooling glue as I like to say)  or is hitting the cooking sherry with her Cheerios in the morning! Homeschooling is HARD work , working with those sassy ass kids can sometimes wear you down but with luck more often than not some really freaking cool stuff happens like your kid really really ends up loving the periodic table so much that he memorizes the whole thing. Or when you are the one that taught your kid how to read and you get to see that magic first hand...yep those are the days you kill for since you need them so much to get you through yet another explanation to your MIL of why you have chosen to do this crazy thing instead of going and getting your nails done.

Still hanging with me?.... still think you might want to do this?...ok.. so don't say I did not warn you!.. as for what comes next.. a stiff drink will help but if it's really is too early where you live you have two choices.. come back later with your drink in hand or  buckle up.. it's going to be a bumpy ride!.....

1) Get legal - Google what it takes in your state to be legal. Homeschooling IS legal in all states and your non-homeschooling neighbors don't know shit.

2) Find support now - many homeschool groups do not meet during summer but some do, find one that fits your groove. Support is crucial to the homeschooling experience.

3) Make room in your home for homeschooling.  No.. you don't need a whole room, and no your don't need a "school desk"... some of our best schooling happens out by the pool or on the front porch. But a place for the STUFF never hurts, even if it's just a bookcase.

4) Pick your Curriculum - this whole subject is a big hot mess needing it's own post but do check my page at the top up there for a couple of places to start.
5) Have that drink and then tell your family. Some will be happy, some will think you are crazy.. such is life.

ok.. I am sure there is more, but it's late.  Ask me a question... and in the next week I will spout forth with wisdom on the matter! :)

Do You Like My Hat?

Do you like my hat?..good! Since you will be seeing a lot of me in this hat and the multiple others that I own. Spring is here so as opposed to the many friends I have who are sun worshipers and tanning divas I dive under my big brimmed hats, slather on the sun screen and hide under the shade of a tree. 

I am *blessed* with both photosensitive and wildly pale skin these in combination with and because of the ~Big L~ means that I am the girl most likely to be wearing at hat at any Spring or Summer event.

Hat wearing comes with it's own challenges, including finding decent hats that don't make you look like a member of the Royal Family or a church lady.  I am LOVING so many of these hats by Coolibar .  I will be making that Monaco Wide brim MINE!

Hair styles for hat wear are also important since the wrong style means you end up with the dreaded "hat hair" should you need to take off your hat at some point during your day.   I find that a  tight low pony tail works  ( see my avatar pic)  well as to the ever popular pig tails :) ( above)

Least but possibly the most vexing.. most people just do not wear hats today so you have to been totally cool with being looked at if you are going to wear a lot of hats since short of growing a second head I don't think I could get people to look at me any more than when I wear at hat. - go figure! 

Confidence is the key.. so much so that it sparks multiple comments each time I wear a hat, women commenting in longing tones about wanting to wear a hat but feeling silly or conspicuous. Men telling me how much they like it..or ever better ..that it's very sexy ~sigh~  got to love that!

 So go put on a hat, it protects your face from wrinkles, your hair from fading and all of you from the harmful cancer causing effect of the sun.  Even better.. send me a photo of you in a hat and I will post it  here... and I will see what I can do about whipping up a hat contest for the masses!!!

Wild Skilz! - Tools On Tuesday

Teach your kids wild Ninja style knife skills and you shall never want for help removing icky carpeting from your rentals!  Yep it's true,  by the time my kids are 4 they are allowed to use kitchen knives with supervision and by  6-8ish they get their first small pocket knives.  Which if you follow this course it means that at 9 you get to help mom and use the really sharp carpet knife and be the one to take down a whole staircase full of carpeted glory. 

Knife skills are not just for Boy Scouts!   All children should be given the chance to learn and use knives in both safe and productive ways. We here in Anarchy are firm believers in life skills from the get-go. Used responsibly a small pocket knife is a wonderful tool to teach resourcefulness and independence. ( Yes,  I am aware that if your kid goes to school they cannot have a knife, or packet of Tums or even particually vicious looking cotton balls but give it a try on the weekend!)

Once a child is of an age to understand the rules of the knife then it's time to entrust them with their first small Swiss knife.

  • Knives are not toys- if you are caught treating it like a toy it will be removed from you for a year, no debate.
  • Respect the circle of safety - your circle is your arms reach around you. You may not be closer to a knife user than that and others may be no closer to you.
  • Knives may not be used to pry things open, knife blades shatter.
  • Cut away from your body - ALWAYS
  • Keep the blade clean and dry.
So... ready to try this?.... need something to carve?... try Soap!  The good people at Ivory have even made a page all about how to soap carve... got to love that. look here!

** nope, the Ivory people don't know me from dirt, but I do think they make the best soap for carving!

The Sorta Serious Couple - Marriage on Monday

A slightly silly moment, caught on film

Maddie asks......
If you were to use one word to describe yourselves as a couple what would it be?  Are you ( as a couple) lighthearted? Silly? Romantic?  Have you ever really thought about? and if so does it  settle well with you and what you thought marriage would be? I was told not long ago that Doc and I are rather a "serious" sort of couple and I am not sure if it was said as a compliment or not.  This buzzed in my brain as I looked at this photo.

It's rather grainy to be sure but there is only so much  you can expect from an IPhone at 9pm while sitting on the porch relaxing after a nice meal. It caught this admittedly serious couple in a rare silly moment while we goofed around with our iPhones as the sun set and the first Fireflies of the season made themselves known.

It's true, Doc and I are a serious couple, serious partners, parents and lovers. And for a while I worried about that, since there seems to be a small undercurrent push to be the "fun couple" when you look at most of today's popular culture. Doc and I  are not giddy, or sporty and not "the fun couple" to be sure and you know what, I have become totally cool with that. I am cool with it in the same way that I am cool with not being the "fun mom"* since at heart that is just not who I am and to be otherwise would not be true to myself or fair to my kids.

My realization of not being the "fun mom" came way before that of being the "serious couple" and it's acceptance helped me see my strengths in being the kind of mother that I am and that in turn helped me with this whole "serious couple thing".  My life as a mother improved 100% when I shed my "fun mom" guilt and instead focused on the positive attributes of my other skills when it comes to  mothering  and the same is true for my marriage.

Serious of course does not have to be a synonym for dull  nor would I ever want it to be. We enjoy our time with family and with friends. Doc enjoys good wine and I cooking a good meal. We greatly enjoy working on big projects together and seeing them come to life. Doc treasures his time reading with the boys each night and taking them bowling each  Sunday.  I adore my time in relaxed community with other mothers and of course my crafty pursuits.And of course I would be remiss to not mention our seriously passionate time together, but most of all I enjoy our steady predictable nature as a couple  and if that is serious- so be it :)

Doc says...

The first thing that struck me reading this is that I'm not altogether sure how I feel about it. There's so much baggage that goes with being "fun" or "serious" or just about any other label.

Words interest me, and using them precisely to communicate meaning is a fascination of mine. A case in point: I think most everyone knows that Maddie and I met on the internet long before that was common. For 6 months we had only words with which to communicate. We spoke by phone after the first month or so of emails and chat, but never saw each other or sent pictures during that time (I was initially using a DOS computer with only text, if you can believe that! - yes, the Earth's crust hadn't quite cooled yet). We had words alone with which to share our thoughts and emotions. I am convinced to this day that a lot of why we communicate with each other as well as we do, and are so close to one another, is that we were forced to be very precise about what we were saying in order to make sure we understood one another.

So back to us as a couple. If the opposite of "fun" is "boring," then we're way more fun than Maddie has suggested. But if the opposite of "serious" is "frivolous," then serious it would have to be. We're definitely neither boring nor frivolous. "Passionate" comes to mind - we are each passionate about what's important to us, and about each other. "Determined" comes to mind, too, because I know we are both very determined to support one another and to provide for, and protect, our family. To be sure there is a great deal of joy in our house, so "joyful" wouldn't be a bad choice either. But yes, in the end perhaps the best word is "serious" after all, and I could get to think of that as a compliment. What's funny is that, until Maddie sent me this post for comment, I've always thought of myself as "serious" and Maddie as being way more "fun" (just read our two blogs and compare them and you'll see what I mean!), and I always thought there was something wrong with me because I'm not more fun. But now that this comes up, maybe "serious" isn't a bad thing after all. I could learn to like that!

So what word would you use to describe yourselves as a couple? You might sit together and see what words come up. You could play with refrigerator magnet poetry. I guarantee you that you'll learn something about each other, and about your relationship, and when you have the right words they will click for you. If you care to share, let us know what you find out!

** for more talk about being true to yourself as a mother I HIGHLY recommend the book, Liberated Parents, Liberated Children  This book is older but worth it's weight in parenting gold and I will talking about it more over the coming weeks.

A So Sweet Treat

It's May so the bloggy world is all a-buzz with Teacher Appreciation gifts. These gifts are a cute, creative and for the most part totally wasted on my family since we home school. 
Of course there are a million other cool people our life who deserve a little thank-you  and it's them I had in mind as I created this  quick little project.  The bee skep image is from the always wonderful GraphicsFairy and around the border I added the wording. ~You Are So Sweet~  and then ~Thanks of all do!~ along the bottom of the skep. I printed the images out on card stock and then used my scallop scissors to cut around the circles.  I used a micro-hole punch to make the hole for the ribbon.

I used some totally adorable  WECK European canning jars  (style 762) and filled them with Raspberry Honey bought in bulk. Sealed them and then covered each with a doily from my collection of such things ( uh yeh, it's a sickness, I know). Tied the ribbon around the doily and neck of the jar and through the tag and then I was done.

If you are not a total freak job with a stash of 100  a lot of doilies I would suggest cutting circles of burlap or Onsburg fabric for the top. If no fabric resides in your crafting stash I would suggest a neutral toned tissue paper or even newspaper clipped with cute scissors would have it's own sort of charm.  No ribbon?.. jute or a rustic type garden string would also fit the bill.   As for my super sweet canning jars?.. they are hard to find and right now I am down to just a few, so if were to make this again I would use the equally cute but oh so much easier to find itty bitty Ball Quilted jelly jars in the  4 oz size   You can find these are most hardware stores.

So.. who do you need to thank???