Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Apologies

From your point of view, it must seem that I made promises I didn't intend to keep. "Oh yes, I'm back from the holidays to post once again every day." And then I leave you for nearly a week now.

I actually have a good excuse this time, and my absence shall probably continue. I am experiencing my first-ever migraine, which does not deserve an exclamation point. It probably started on one of those days when I should have worn sunglasses outside (snow and sun, you know) and didn't. Last week my eyes started getting really sensitive to light, to the point of severe pain on Wednesday night as I drove home with stupid people blasting their brights in my face. The next day my head hurt, and it continued to get worse over the course of Friday and Saturday (probably not helped by the fact that I went bowling).

Anyway, I'm starting to feel better, but until my eyes feel completely strong, I'm avoiding TV and computer time as much as possible, reading as little as possible (sad, I know), and even crocheting very little. Meaning, I have hardly anything to do.

Therefore, enjoy this very strange video, and I hope shall return sooner rather than later!

Love and Sugar Cookies,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's Slowly Sinking In: I'm an Adult

People make their kids call me Ms. Leah (or Mrs. Leah, but the Mrs. is so hard for kids to say, so I don't let them). Waiters and store clerks call me ma'am. I go grocery shopping for a household (a small one, but still a household). I'm married, for heavens sake.

And so it's finally starting to sink in for me. I'm an adult.

A lot of kids can't wait to grow up. A few kids never want to grow up. And a lot of adults refuse to grow up and live with their parents until they're 42, which is really lame. As a child, I was content to grow at a normal pace. I didn't want to hurry along my growing process. I mean, being an adult came with privileges, I knew, but it also had its downfalls: periods, boy troubles, bills. So I enjoyed my days and let each new milestone come as it would.

A lot of my friends want to go back to being children. I understand their thinking: our parents took care of us, we didn't have to worry about anything but the next episode of Boy Meets World, we could wear weird outfits and people blamed it on our silly youthful minds instead of judging us, we had no responsibilities, and a little freedom.

But I don't want to go back, because I think of all the times I was humiliated for not knowing something. I was small, and didn't stand up for myself. Sure I had no responsibility, but I also couldn't cross 5 Mile by myself.

As an adult, I can go where I like, do what I like, and I've learned to stand up for myself (if I have to). I know things: who makes a bad friend, who makes a good friend, what is a wise way to spend my time, what is a waste of time, when to stop, etc.

I can still watch Hannah Montana and listen to Justin Bieber if I want to. I can still run around in the woods and scrape my knees if I want to. I can still do arts and crafts, except now they look better and people might actually like getting them for gifts. I can still play computer games; I just have to use my time wisely.

But I can also get a job and earn money. I can also go to the school I choose and study what I choose. I can fail those classes if I choose, or I can work really hard and get a passing grade if I choose. I can marry and love Caleb, something I definitely couldn't do as a 12-year-old.

Do I have responsibilities? Yes, but they're not all that bad. And I still have the freedom to play, as long as I work, too.

I never wanted to rush being an adult, but I finally know that I am one, and I'm okay with that. I think I'll continue to take each day as it comes and not rush any new developments.

This is not at all what I intended to write about today. I thought I'd tell a story about a lady who has treated me like a 12-year-old since she first met me, when I was 12. Even when I was 20, and she made lunch for our college group, she said that she had peanut butter for me, since I was too picky of an eater to eat her chicken and potatoes (which, by the way, I ate with extra relish that day). But we finally, finally had an adult conversation this week. She treated me with respect, like I'm an equal.

And that's when I realized I'm an adult and then I went all metaphysical on you.

Love and Rainbows,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Joy of Books

Here's a fun video for you.

Also, I start work today!

Love and Books,
Leah Joy

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Monday Rant: Milk Sales

While I would say that my cousins drink milk like it's water, they would say that I drink water like it's milk. I am a firm adherent to the doctrine my grandfather held: If something is wrong with you, water can probably fix it. Hot? Drink water. Cold? Drink water. Stomach ache? Drink water. Dehydration? Duh. Urinary Tract Infection? Drink water. (Although I'd add cranberry anything if you have it available.) Headache? Drink water. Poor circulation? Drink water. You get the point.

Regardless, my husband is more of a milk drinker. I only use what I put on my cereal every morning and the VERY occasional 1/2 cup in a recipe. We still go through 2-3 gallons of milk a week - just the 2 of us! It's crazy for me coming from a family that uses just over 1/2 a gallon a week for 5 people.

But I will not withhold from him his milk. He asks for very little from me; the least I can do is keep him supplied. (Wow, it sounds like a drug.)

That being said, I wonder at the price of milk. Regularly, at our local Family Fare and Meijer, it costs $3 a gallon. It goes on sale quite regularly for $2.50 (or rarely $2) and of course we buy it then, but what is no end of frustrating is the sale pattern. Why can't they have sales alternating weeks? That would make sense and be nice and they could just trade off on the big milk sales and everyone is happy. But no. If it goes on sale at one store, it's on sale at the other. If it's not on sale at one store, it's not on sale at the other.

We're actually starting to work out a system. On Sunday or Monday, when we do our normal grocery shopping for the week, if milk is on sale, we will purchase 2 gallons. On Saturday, if we're in town or near a store, we purchase 2-3 more, since by that point the 2 gallons we purchased at the beginning of the week are gone. Those 2-3 gallons will then hold us over the next week when milk is not on sale! Go us!

I guess this has been more of a sales analysis than a rant. Deal with it.

Love and Milk,

Leah Joy

Friday, January 13, 2012


Do you have any idea how few cloud patterns are out there?

Not a lot.

If you want to make a flower, your possibilities are endless.

But clouds? No.

Here are my cloud-ventures, followed by a pattern for a good cloud.

When I first started to crochet things other than squares, I tried this cloud pattern.

I used too big of a hook and didn't really know what I was doing, so the top cloud in this picture is what I made. In early December, I tried again and made the one on the bottom. Clearly much better, but not quite what I wanted.

So I looked for other patterns. I found some suggestions to make an oval and then shell along the edge. So I tried making my own version like that. Not great.

Then I found a pattern for a tiny doll's bed with a cloud pillow and I tried that. Terrible.

So I had these clouds: the better version of the rain cloud, the awful doll pillow, and my own version.

Oh, and then I found a pattern that said it made a cloud, and I ended up with this:

There must be a better way! I cried in my thoughts.

So I turned to Pinterest. I finally found one I liked, and guess what. The pattern is in French.

Here's a picture of it:

So cute, right? If only I could read French. The best part is that because crochet instructions are always abbreviated, I can't even pop it into a free translator.

So then I turned to an English-French crochet terminology website and wikipedia. I also had open an online French-to-English dictionary for any non-abbreviated words.

And I made the cloud! I skipped the rain drops below it, because I didn't want those for my scarf, so I also ended up making two more versions: one with double-crochet shells all around, and one with triple-crochet shells all around.

And now I shall translate the pattern for you, so that people who don’t have quite as much time and determination can still make a cute cloud - without the rain drops, though. Translate that yourself.

I've never written a crochet pattern before, but I've read several, so hopefully this will make sense.

US Terminology

Ch = Chain

Sc = Single Crochet

Sl st = slip stitch

Sk = skip

Dc = double crochet

Chain 13 + 1.

Row 1: 13 sc in chain row

Row 2-3: ch 1, 13 sc

Row 4: Sl st, 11 sc, sl st

Now we crochet around the cloud.

Turn the work from the last row.

Sk 2 (the sl st and 1 sc), 5dc in next sc, sk 1, sl st, *sk 1, 5 dc in next sc, sk 1, sl st* Repeat from * to * 2 more times (the last time will be down one side). 13 sc (in other side of chain), sk 1, 5 dc in next stitch, sk 1, sl st. Tie off and weave ends in.

There's a handy diagram in their pattern that shows you exactly what you're doing. All of the symbols are explained on the wikipedia page except for the dot, which means slip stitch.

I added three more 5dc shells on the bottom to make a full cloud. This is very easy to do.

I hope this helps you in your crochet cloud adventures!

Love and Clouds,
Leah Joy

Thursday, January 12, 2012


It occurred to me this morning that I have no recipe to share with you. I have shared all my great treats and have yet to try a new one (kind of waiting until the Christmas fat falls off). And we haven't tried any new dinner-type recipes. (Well, I made a lasagna, but I followed the recipe on the back of the box and it was just average. Next time, I'm using my mom's recipe.)

All I have made recently is dried celery leaves and applesauce. And both of those are so easy/self-explanatory that there's no need for a tutorial. Which is why I will now share with you a brief one for each. If you are already an expert, see you tomorrow! If not, read on.

Dried Celery Leaves
You can use these to flavor things in which you don't actually want to put any celery. When processing your celery into munchable sticks/chunks, instead of throwing away the leaves, cut them off. Spread them out on paper towels on a baking sheet. Set the oven to Warm and let it warm for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and put the baking sheet inside. The temperature is too low to burn the paper towels. Every couple of hours, re-warm the oven until the leaves are dried and able to crumble. Put in jars (and probably you should label them). Mine only took about 2 hours.

Peel and core your apples. Using a mix of apple varieties always makes your sauce taste better. (And don't use Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Red Delicious. The first is not a good sauce flavor, the second is meant for eating, and the third tastes like Styrofoam.) Cutting them into smaller chunks can help the process go more evenly (like boiling potatoes for mashing). Place in a large pot and add just a little bit of water - a 1/4 cup or less. Apples are full of water that will be released when they start cooking, but this first bit will keep them from burning at the start. Set on the stove at medium to low heat. You can sprinkle cinnamon on top at any point and continue adding it to taste as they cook. Stir and mash occasionally. When fully mashed, do a taste test (caution: hot!) and add more cinnamon as needed. Remove from heat, let cool a bit, and then pour into containers to keep in the fridge for sooner or the freezer for later.

Both of these are lessons I've learned from my mom. Along with "Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap."

Love and Applesauce,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Oh-So-Exciting Life

I recently received a letter from a friend who told me my life always sounded so exciting and cosy. (Yes, spell check, I am spelling it the British way because an s is cosier than "cozy".) So when I opened this page to blog about anything going on in my life, of what did I think? Absolutely nothing. I've been a bit tired and lethargic lately, and I think I may be fighting something because I have no other reason to be tired. So what have I done? Well, I got pre-pre-job-training that took about an hour. And other than that, so far this week I have gotten groceries, made applesauce, cut up celery, dried celery leaves (ooooh fun), watched software training videos, eaten way too many snacks, worked out on the Wii, and hurt my wrists knitting too much.

Nothing in that list is particularly exciting. I mean, who gets a knitting injury? (Actually, me, a lot, when I try too many projects at once.) Yesterday I made a pair of rainbow striped wrist-warmers for me, the same way I did those blue ones for Sarah.

So my new job. I'll start real training on Tuesday. Yesterday was just an hour for "here, read this, and this, and this and this is where this is and this is where this is, now go read."

And my husband brought me flowers yesterday! They're so pretty. There are a couple sunflowers, and some purple daisies, and some pink carnations, and a couple lilies, and some greenery (some with little tiny yellow flowers) and they're just so pretty!

And I have absolutely nothing else to say. If anything exciting or interesting has happened to you so far this week (or more exciting/interesting than my stories, which shouldn't be too hard), please share in a comment!

Love and Uneventful Weeks,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yet Another Version of This Song

My friend Dan posted a link to this video of the band Walk off the Earth performing "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. (See my last YouTube Tuesday post.)

This version is seriously up for contention with the original, and it's all done on one guitar! I also love how angry the guy in the middle looks. And the big bearded guy who looks so tough and then does all the high "brrring!" parts.


Love and Guitars,
Leah Joy

P.S. Oh!!! I GOT A JOB! I'm the new office manager here at camp! (So I have a really long commute. All the way up the stairs.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Monday Rant: Mars Needs Moms (A Movie Review)

Last night, Caleb and I were super tired starting around... oh 4:00pm. So we made a grocery list and then didn't know what to do. He started up Escanaba in da Moonlight, but partway through, I realized that as much as I wanted to finally see this movie and as much as I liked the humor, I was really not in the mood for it. I was too tired.

So Caleb put on Mars Needs Moms. It's a Disney movie, so it has to be okay for a tired Leah, right?

I remember watching certain movies with my little brother Jacob (who is wired a lot like me, except for the sports part) and him saying my exact thought out loud: "This is so stressful!"

And that is how I felt about Mars Needs Moms. It started off just being about a whiny kid whose mom gets kidnapped by martians. Then it turns out that they're going to terminate her, steal her memories of parenting, and put them in a nanny-bot to raise baby martians. Oh, and Milo, the kid, tags along and they have a warrant out for his death, too. Oh, and he meets another human named Gribble, and eventually the martians want him dead, too. Oh, and they meet a martian who wants to help them, and then the other martians want her dead, too. So basically everyone you come to like in this movie is wanted dead. Great start to a kids' movie.

So, how do they plan to steal Milo's mom's memories? Well, they have this process worked out and they've been using it for years. They have a long row of large lenses on the surface of the planet. When the sun's rays hit these, they intensify, finally reaching the final lens, where all that power is directed into a giant needle that pokes into the mom's head - and destroys her completely and she disappears. WOW. NOT SCARY AT ALL.

Add in the giant trash heap where Gribble lives, the creepy-looking Martian supervisor who wants everyone dead, the tribalistic martian men, and the weird helmets all the bad guys (girls - martian women) wear...

And if you have children who are sensitive at all, don't let them watch this movie.

Now, I should add that I did enjoy the movie. There were some really touching moments and some really good parts. But it was pretty intense for most of the movie, and especially at the climax of the crisis.

And that is all I have to say.

Love and Mars,
Leah Joy

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kind of a Failure, But a Pretty One

I wanted to make a rainbow scarf with clouds on the ends. (See next week's tutorial for my Cloud-Ventures.) Vertical stripes, 'cause that looks more like a real rainbow.

Vertical stripes also means that you have to chain the length, and each row adds to the width.

I had no idea how long to chain, so I chained about 255 stitches. It's hard to keep track exactly, but it's about that long. That was probably too long, but it's okay.

I chained with pink, then did a row of double-stitch of pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. It didn't look quite symmetrical or even, so I finished the purple with a row of slip-stitch to try to imitate the chain on the other side.

It looked really good, and then it started curling. That's probably because I don't always use even tension in my stitches. It makes big curlicues out of the whole scarf, which is fine, but then it starts folding in half on itself. It ends up looking like I'm wearing a yellow disc around my neck. You can see it sort of try to begin doing that in the pictures.

Oh - and I ended up not putting the clouds on the end because of all the curling, but now I know how to make clouds. Again - see next week's tutorial!

Love and Rainbows,

Leah Joy

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Holiday Treats

My mom has always prepared little tins of our holiday treats to give to the neighbors. I decided that I want to start the same tradition in our new home. (I didn't have tins, so I used cellophane and gift bags.) What surprised me is how surprised two of the families were. They're two very generous families and it surprised me that it would surprise them that I give something back.

Regardless of my neighbors' reactions, I thought I'd share with you what I made.

I gave everyone cake batter truffles, about which I've already done a post.

I also made two kinds of sweet popcorn, which I found at Your Home-Based Mom.

First, I made her White Chocolate Popcorn. I must admit that we cannot afford real white chocolate chips and that I used the Meijer brand "Vanilla" chips that everyone just assumes are white chocolate. And really, when they're not side by side, who can tell the difference? I also doubled the M&Ms and ditched the peanuts. Partly because it's a common allergy, partly because we didn't have any, and partly because I just didn't want them ruining my popcorn. Other than those things, I followed her recipe to the T. (Or rather "y", since that's the last letter in her recipe.)

Second, I made her S'mores Popcorn, which she posted on Thirty Handmade Days as a guest blogger. For this one, I wanted to use regular microwave popcorn, like we did for the white chocolate popcorn. Not only did I not have popping corn, Karo syrup, or patience, ... well, that's actually the only reason why I didn't use caramel corn. So, I measured how much one bag of microwave popcorn makes when popped and then made three bags of the stuff. I used this as the base instead of caramel corn. Everything else I did the same.

After I had all these delicious treats made, I searched for cellophane. My mom always puts her treats in cute little tins with wax paper layers separating them, but I didn't have tins and I had a great idea for cellophane bags. Turns out cellophane is super expensive everywhere except the Dollar Tree. You can get nearly the same amount on a roll as at Meijer, except for $1 instead of $3.50. I got clear and red. I cut squares large enough to hold the treats, poured in whatever amount I wanted, drew all the corners together, and then tied it off with a ribbon. I added a label tag and then tied a bow.

I really wish I had taken pictures of my treats because they were exceptionally cute.

Enjoy the rest of your Thursday!

Love and Chocolate,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's Been a Bit

Hey all,

What a holiday. It's a good thing I decided to write again on a Wednesday so I can just ramble about the holidays!

Over the course of December, we had:
-2 work Christmas parties
-1 birthday party
-2 memorial services
-4 family Christmas parties
-1 sibling sleepover
-1 cousin party
-1 New Years Party

Not to mention the eye doctor appointment, a few double dates, a few single dates, Caleb's all-nighter with the camp teens, buying and wrapping presents, mailing packages, and baking.

Was it fun? Oh yes.
Am I glad it's over? Oh yes.

And I learned a lot of things. Like, when someone asks for gift ideas, be really specific. And diverse in price range.

I also learned that my family does have a black sheep, despite all these years we thought everyone was normal. I, unfortunately, am the black sheep. Why? Because I don't like strategy games. No, let me take that a bit closer to truth. I despise strategy games and I dread nothing more than a round of Settlers of Catan. I realize this is extremely counter-cultural. I realize everyone in my generation is supposed to love Catan and all those other games like that. But I don't. They take so dang long, and they're not fun.

I prefer Uno. Or Pass the Pigs. Or Scrabble. Or Bananagrams. Or Peanuts/Nerts/Dutch Blitz/Double Solitaire/whatever-name-your-family-used-for-this-many-named-game.

It's not that I don't like to think. Obviously, if I enjoy Scrabble, I like thinking. I just don't like strategy games. And I'm the only person in my family - except maybe my dad; he's kinda hard to read.

Well, I guess that's all for now. I believe we're going out to dinner with my sister-in-law tonight, which I expect to be very fun!

Love and Word Games,
Leah Joy

P.S. Did you know that painter's tape works on fingernails as well? Paint a base color, let it dry completely, then add tiny strips of painter's tape, press the tape in well, paint over it, and peel off while the second color is still tacky. You could try other patterns, too! This requires patience, fine motor skills, the ability to withstand the smell of nail polish, and a lack of aversion to nail polish and painter's tape getting all over you.