Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Cousin Brandi

My cousin Brandi needs money. This isn't to say that she is panhandling-on-the-street poor, but rather fourth-year-doctorate-needs-internship-application/interview funds. When I first saw her plea on CrowdFundEDU, I was initially reluctant to give. How much would I be able to give? I mean, what amount could I realistically offer on a barely above minimum wage salary? 

So I reread her plea, and saw the little PayPal button. PayPal. I have a PayPal account I use for my Etsy Shop, and I knew there was some money in it from recent sales. And so I immediately made my initial $25 donation. From there, I looked into where I could find more money I wouldn't miss, and didn't have to look any further. My Etsy Shop. From now until December fifteenth, I will be donating one hundred percent of the sales to her CrowdFund.

Please read her reason for going into the psychology field. Please donate if you can. Please feel free to buy an $8 puppet pattern with step by step instructions and over 120 color pictures knowing that $8 will be going to a good cause.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Hair Experiment

For the last year or so I’ve been conducting an experiment on my hair, trying to get to the bottom of the various problems it has developed over the years. That is to say, I’ve been dealing with what I could only conclude as the adverse affects of daily shampooing: dandruff; oily hair; frizzy strands, etc. Now, the combination of greasiness and dandruff leads to, well, the dandruff being ever more difficult to get under control as it sticks to oily hair like white cat fur to black pants. I tried all sorts of homemade remedies to neutralize the dandruff from coconut oil to Epsom salt to tea tree oil to whatever else Pinterest and Google had to offer, but it was to no avail. The dandruff continued. The greasy hair persisted. The frizzy strands grew ever more present.

I was left with two options: First, keep my hair short, as in between a half to one inch at all times so the dandruff wasn’t as noticeable; or Second, give in and buy dandruff shampoo. I chose the latter. As much as I wanted to do this without the use of harsh chemicals, the situation brewing since I was a child required, well, to say the least, a strong hand. In the end, I chose to go with Selsun Blue Naturals. I knew going in to this that it would require weeks of my hair looking like crap, but I also wanted a clean slate before I took on the next part of this experiment, going shampoo-less.

Using Selsun Blue seemed to strip my hair of all life the first few times I used it, but my dandruff issues were becoming less and less apparent. And so for a couple months I washed my hair once a week with this shampoo and nothing else. The rest of the week I simply did the motions of shampooing to rinse out the fruit pectin based styling product I use. After the dandruff seemed to subside, I stopped using shampoo all together. For the first few weeks my hair seemed a little bit greasier than normal, but my scalp was no longer itchy. The hardest part was to resist the urge to simply wash out the extra oils and allow my scalp to figure out the right balance on its own. And now it has. The once frizzy fragile white hairs that were slowly taking over my dark brown tresses are now just as straight and healthy looking as the rest. It’d be great if they weren’t white and were, perhaps, silver or something in the gray tones, but alas, genetics.

It has now been six weeks since I’ve washed my hair in anything but water, and it has never looked better. The dandruff has been eradicated, it feels incredibly soft and touchable, and all of the scalp issues I’ve dealt with since hitting puberty have been vanquished. It makes me question, if going soapless on my head has yielded such great results, I wonder if I should think about finding a soap-free cleanser for my skin to see if it will clear up the patches of eczema,sections of oily skin, and that damned acne problem. I smell another experiment in the not-so-distant future.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blueberry Buttermilk Buckle

Most Saturdays during the summer, my aunt and uncle invite the extended family over to go swimming in their saltwater pool at their house overlooking the Columbia River. We eat lots of food, imbibe lots of drinks, and talk about lots of stuff. Last weekend was no different, with the exception of one thing: blueberries. For years, the three blueberry bushes at their house produced, well, quite pitiful amounts of berries. However, with one of the trees falling over during a storm, it has opened up the sunlight to these bushes and now they are covered! My uncle practically made me go pick some, and so I did. I only managed to gather about a pound and a half before I figured I had enough to do whatever I was going to do with these particularly juicy sweet morsels.

Now that I had a plethora of blueberries, I had to decide just what I was going to make with them. It just so happened that we were having a church picnic the next day and, well, we needed to bring a dessert. Blueberry Pie? Blueberry Crisp? Blueberry Tart? My aunt offered up making a buckle, and me being me, realized this would definitely be the easiest! For those unfamiliar with buckles, they are somewhere between a cake, a muffin, and a biscuit, and usually topped with a buttery cinnamon sugar crumb. You can mark me in the unfamiliar category in making one, as this was my first attempt, and oh! do I love trying out new recipes on large groups of people at potlucks!

Cory’s Blueberry Buttermilk Buckle

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 to 3 cups blueberries

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat on low until well combined. With the mixer or beaters on low, alternate the flour mixture and buttermilk until there are no more dry streaks in the batter. Using a 9x13 glass or metal baking dish, spray generously with non-stick cooking spray or rub butter all over that bad boy. I’ve never had luck with flouring, but if it works for you, do it. Carefully spread or drop the batter evenly into the pan. It will be sticky like drop biscuit dough, so this is easier said than done. Add the blueberries so they practically cover the dough. Next, mix together the topping and spoon or sprinkle it all over. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the center just barely springs back upon pressing it with your finger. Cool on a rack before slicing it into squares and devouring.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Update on Porch Rail Box

It has been a couple months since I made the porch rail box and filled it with flowers. Who knew something so simple could make such a huge difference?

When I first thought about making a rail box for the front porch, I wasn’t sure if it would even work. There were logistical issues to figure out; how to actually attach said box or boxes; where to place the box or boxes; whether or not to work with or around the trellises attached to the porch rail, etc. Anyway, once I decided to simply make one large box, I didn’t know if you would be able to see the flowers very well from the street. To my surprise, even behind the trellises, the boxes overflowed with flowery abundance! It totally distracts the eye from all of the weeds in the front yard.

Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Marriage Equality

Today marks an historic day in America
            And across the world.

Today my marriage is recognized by my country
            And not just my state.

Today I am inspired that justice has prevailed
            And will continue.

Today I have faith in humanity
            And that love will conquer all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Story of Wood and Box

This is my wood.

This is my box.

This is the story about how my wood became my box.

Ever since we moved here, there has been a pile of wood on the side of the house. Okay, so that is not entirely accurate. Ever since we pulled apart and salvaged the deck we built from our old house before the bank took it back due to foreclosure, there has been a pile of wood on the side of the house we currently rent. Anyway, we decided that since this was still prime wood, we weren’t going to leave it for the bank to use to further profit from our loss, but didn’t really have a goal as to what would be done with the wood. Either way, the main purpose was to stick it to the man. Of course, a pile of wood is prime nesting places for mice, and I don’t like mice. That means it was time to finally do something with my wood, and the first thing I wanted to do was make a deck rail garden box or two.

Originally, I was planning on creating two boxes to go in between the three trellises on the front porch, but the weight of the wood overhanging the porch rail would, well, probably pull it right off. It was then that I decided to make one large box that would rest on the rail and be supported with legs on either side to keep it upright. Finally, a plan was created. Keeping the full length of the deck boards would also decrease the amount of cutting I’d have to do with the saw. So all I had to do was screw three pieces of wood together and slap on some sides and PRESTO! a finished porch rail box, right? Well, as easy as it was to build, not so easy was it to carry because, damn, deck boards are way heavier than they look!

Once I finally did get the box done, I drilled holes along the back length of it for drainage and lined the entire inside with garden fabric to keep the dirt in but let the water out. I used my handy dandy stapler with half inch staples to accomplish this task. Then, after wiping the outside of dirt and debris, I grabbed the container of white exterior paint we never used for the chicken coop we built five years ago and applied a thick coat and let it dry. I used Kilz one coat paint and primer, which worked out beautifully.

Now the most challenging part was getting the box to the porch and attaching the legs without killing myself or breaking a window. I was able to dry fit the whole thing myself, but after I screwed on the legs, I knew I’d need a second hand to help lift it back into place. My husband was able to do this minor task without much effort. Once in, I further secured it by screwing through two of the trellises into the box itself. This sucker ain’t going nowhere.

Time for planting the flowers! I partially filled the cavity with potting soil and then started planting the flowers I picked up on clearance at Home Depot because most of them were not in bloom at the time, but were quite healthy otherwise. I also used up the remaining Wave Petunias I used for the pots on the back deck. To my surprise, I almost had too many flowers in the box, which is a good surprise to have. This means it will fill in nicely and hopefully overhang a bit.

That is the story about how my wood became my box, got a little dirty, and turned into a simple yet great looking flower display. It also makes me want to open the blinds in the living room more often than never.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Homemade Tortillas

We’ve had some unseasonably warm and humid weather lately here in the Pacific Northwest. That is great for the flowers and veggies growing outside, but not so much for food in the house. I bought strawberries Thursday night and by Friday morning they were moldy beyond recognition. A couple weeks ago I bought flour tortillas, and usually they will last a couple months (if they manage to go uneaten for that long, which is rare) on the baker’s rack inside the bin I keep bread items. It is not uncommon for us to go through a dozen tortillas a week, with the sheer amount of Mexican and Tex-Mex food we eat in our house, but apparently the last eight tortillas in the bag were simply not meant to be eaten, as when they were opened to make a quesadilla for lunch, were all covered in the familiar bluish-green mold.

So when it came time to think about dinner, I couldn’t get my mind off of making shrimp fajitas with baby portabella mushrooms mingling with red bell peppers, onions, jalapeños and garlic. The only problem was the lack of tortillas. Now, I’ve made corn tortillas many times, but I was in the mood for a warm flour tortilla or three with the fajitas. A quick search led to a multitude of recipes, so I settled on one that had pretty pictures (what can I say, I’m shallow like that) and made the dough in the food processor, kneaded it by hand until no longer sticky, allowed the dough to rest under a towel for half an hour, pinched off and rolled ping-pong sized balls, let those rest for another ten minutes while I preheated my cast iron skillet, rolled out the balls one at a time as thin as possible, tossed them onto the cast iron skillet for thirty seconds each side and stacked them in a towel lined tortilla warmer until dinner was ready. They were amazing! So soft and pliable and delicious, I can’t believe I hadn’t ever made them before. I guarantee I will be making them again.

The recipe I used can be found here:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Society of Gun Worshipers

A friend of mine and I have recently begun having a conversation about guns, particularly her extreme pro-gun stance and my questioning of any gun that takes more ammo than one has fingers. Grab the popcorn, this Facebook drama just got real!

So, this most recent conversation started because of her sharing and commenting on a post about a Texas school district arming their teachers with guns. I know that when my husband went to school to become a teacher, it was so he could carry a loaded gun into the classroom as part of the required uniform! Don’t want to carry a gun? You’re fired! How many of these teachers who don’t feel comfortable carrying a gun will do so because they fear their jobs are at stake? Do you really want your kids in a classroom with a teacher who has a loaded firearm? Better pray to God that your kids don’t talk back or they may just get a cap in their ass! Seriously people, fear tactics only lead to more fear. Having a false sense of security looks good on paper, but until you get to the root of the problem, it will only continue to get worse.

What, then, might those root problems be? For starters, perhaps if we as a society actually cared about our children, then perhaps we would properly fund their education instead of constantly cutting back, closing schools, and increasing class sizes beyond what the rooms were designed to hold just to save a buck or two in taxes each year, then blaming teachers that their kids are failing because instead of getting an actual education, they are being taught to take a test which has no real world bearing whatsoever so they don’t lose funding, forcing the schools to close and teachers to be out of a job. Perhaps then these kids wouldn't grow up to become sociopaths because the adults around them actually showed they cared. I’m not so sure I want to live in a society where children are taught that the only way to survive in this world is to kill or be killed.

By no means am I anti-gun. While I personally do not own a gun, I grew up in a household where there were guns, I knew where they were, I knew they were loaded, and I knew the only time to ever touch one was for self defense. However, when there are guns specifically targeted to the five and under age group, it makes me question both the parents buying said guns and manufacturers who feel the need to arm our preschoolers and kindergarteners. I was also taught the value of life, specifically that life has value. We live in an age where many kids don’t get that anymore. It’s no wonder there has been an increase in kids killing their siblings, either accidentally or on purpose because they wouldn’t share a toy. Since a majority of these people tend to be on the conservative Christian side, perhaps they could actually read their Bible. It’s not like the blurb, “You shall not kill,” is some obscure reference. A 2-shot rifle or a handgun are more than enough for self defense, you do not need to have a gun that has 30 rounds or more of ammunition to fight off an intruder unless you plan on committing mass murder, but if you have those in your house, educate your children on how dangerous these weapons really are.

If we want to counteract violence, more violence is not the answer. If we want to protect our children, stop treating our schools like prisons. If we truly want to have a safer society, then we need to start showing it. Get involved in your kids’s lives. Know their friends and those they hang out with. Teach them how precious life is and not just how to take a life. Children are not born wanting to commit violent acts, but they are taught either through actions or neglect.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Owl Baby Quilt

With the arrival of a new nephew comes a new quilt. My sister and brother-in-law had their second child recently, so, of course, I was expected to make a quilt for them. Going off their colors they chose for the nursery (brown, turquoise and yellow) and that they were using owls as a theme, it was a no brainer to do the same for the quilt!

Coming up with an owl design was going to be the most difficult part. To make it as easy as possible, I looked at the basic design elements in the fabrics I chose, On a Whim and Urban Zoologie from Robert Kaufman. They are both rather different takes on owls, but both utilize the same color palette, which made them work so well together. I drew out simple shapes on cardstock, cut them out, and used them as templates for the appliqué owl on the front of the quilt. My only regret is that I used the sewing machine to stitch it to the top, rather than hand stitch it on.

On the back, I created a new Odd Bug character specific to this quilt and will never be used again, much like each quilt I’ve done for a child, and embroidered it using the same colors I used on the quilt top. I also embroidered his name underneath.

Just looking at these pictures made me realize it has been some time since I did any real quilting. Perhaps that means I need to make a change, oil up my 1963 Singer Touch N’ Sew Deluxe Zig-Zag Model 600 Sewing Machine, slip on a new needle, and get to work on any number of projects just waiting to be completed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Money Makers

I’ve been thinking a lot about a conversation my husband and I had the other day about, well, finances. This mostly stemmed from the fact that we had to fix a fifteen year old car that any normal person would have simply replaced. Rather than pay a mechanic over eight hundred dollars to replace a twenty five dollar rubber gasket, he did it himself over the course of eight days. Lower manifold gaskets are nothing to be scoffed at when a 1998 Chevy Blazer is involved. Holy Shitballs, Batman!

Anyway, we were talking about money, or, more accurately, our lack of money, and came to the conclusion that my job really isn’t going anywhere. I mean, I do love it, but there isn’t any money to be made as a receptionist in a veterinary clinic. That and I am pretty sure my friend (and boss) is planning to retire soon, though he would never admit it, so it would be a good time to start figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Or, to be more specific, what I want to do that will actually generate funds in the short term, since I already know that my long-term goal is to be a fiction writer and children’s book author/illustrator.

Time to make a list of talents and skills:

1)      How can I make money being a sassy black woman? I mean, this takes mad skills. I don’t know why it is, but sassy black women love me. Perhaps it is because I must have been one in a past life. Yes, this must be it. It’s the only explanation that makes sense. One of my coworkers is pretty sure of this too.
2)      How can I make money being an animal? This takes skills as well. Talking animals? Even more skills. Seriously, whenever my dogs look at me, I make up their conversation out loud. This is no joke, you can ask my husband. They all have their own voices… even the chickens.
3)      How can I make money being a butcher? A baker? A candlestick maker? A water buffalo? A frog? A monkey?

And then it hit me; my husband has the equipment for doing voiceover work. Perhaps it is time I look into doing the same. I refuse to give up on writing, but as supplemental income with no startup costs and the ability to work from home during my spare time, I can’t think of a better option. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Missed Opportunities

On Thursday, I received this email in my inbox:


I hope this message finds you well.  I wanted to let you know that the Huffington Post's video news network, HuffPost Live ( will be hosting a segment tonight (Thursday, March 28) around 9:15 pm EST/6:15 pm PST re: the "kept" lifestyle.  What's it like when your significant other foots the bill?

I'm not sure if you'd consider yourself to be a "kept" man, but I came across your blog and thought you would be a good addition to the discussion to talk about being a homemaker and the responsibilities that come with it.  Would you be interested in coming on the show?

It's very easy to join the discussion -- all that is needed webcam (desktop, laptop, iPad, 4G phone -- like an iPhone) and a pair of earphones.  We would bring you in via Google Hangout, which is similar to Skype.  The discussion will last approximately 25 minutes, will be moderated by our host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani here Los Angeles and include members of the public.   

Let me know if you're interested and I will fill you in on the details.  Thank you and take care. 

Athina Morris
Associate Producer, HuffPost Live

To say I was shocked anyone still reads this blog would be an understatement, considering I post so sporadically anymore, but to have a news organization want to bring me on as part of a discussion panel? That would have been fun. Unfortunately, I got the email Thursday afternoon while at work and then went to church for Maundy Thursday service, and didn’t read it until after I got home. Shoot. Another missed opportunity.

However, the more I think about it, I’m not so sure I would have been a good choice to be on the panel. I don’t consider myself a ‘kept’ man, and I don’t have any qualms about my husband footing the bill because both our incomes are pooled into the same bank account. But I suppose, from a homemaking perspective, I might have been able to offer up what it’s like for the modern individual who juggles both a full-time job and the household chores, and how those roles are intertwined between couples based on who is home at the time those duties need to be done. Honestly, this is the nature of most households, with both people working and both people pitching in. I can also attest to when I was without a job and my sole responsibilities were the household duties, to which I did a vast majority of them. Sometimes I miss those days. The house, yard, and garden has never been as clean and organized since.

I will say, that even with all the craziness that trying to balance this high-wire act can be, I’ve gotten used to the fact that the house does require a little sprucing up before company arrives, the backyard will have dog poop, the weeds will not all be pulled, and the kitchen table will still be a catch-all for just about anything you can possibly imagine and not used to, you know, eat on. Would I want to go back to the days of being ‘just a homemaker’? Not at this time. However, throw a kid or three into the mix and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. We’ll see what the not-so-distant future holds in store on that front.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wedding Plans

So, in a few weeks, my husband and I will officially be married. Officially, I say, because seven years ago we had our actual wedding ceremony. What we are planning on will be a much simpler affair. As in, a couple witness and a friend to officiate. Nothing fancy. And then my brain starts to ponder a few random thoughts thanks to my other half asking where we should do this whole wedding thing.


Do we get married in a church? Nope, already done that. 

Do we find a place that means something special? Uh, define ‘special’? We don’t have any real attachments to places around town. Hmmm…

Nope, I’ve got nothing.

And then there’s that whole bit about witnesses. Do our dogs count? I’m sure I could get Lucy to sign anything she needs to with a bit of practice.

Chuck might be a bit difficult to wrangle into doing, well, anything besides being crazy.


Why is it that we are trying to turn something simple like signing a certificate of marriage into a magical life-changing event? I suppose it would be different if we hadn’t already done this before. But at the same time, a little part of me wants to make this romantic and memorable, even if it will be on a Monday.

Yes, a Monday.

Because, after seventeen years, we may as well stick with our original anniversary. That and we are lazy and don’t want to have to remember a new date. Because dates are hard. Like math.

Wow. I’m no closer to figuring out how April 8th is going to go than I was before.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Harry Potter Birthday Party

Not many thirty-six year old men want a Harry Potter themed birthday party. Then again, I am not like most thirty-six year old men.

It was a week before my birthday, and after my husband had asked me for like the thousandth time what I wanted to do for it, I finally blurted out half-jokingly (and in a British accent no less), “A Harry Potter Birthday Party!” He looked at me and asked, “Are you serious?” and it was then that I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. Enter Pinterest and Google, with their vast resources.

I managed to somehow not take so many pictures, however, which is kind of sad because I most certainly could have taken more, but I was quite intent on having a fantastic time. I didn’t even take a picture of the Butterbeer, which, by the way, was AMAZING! Hmmm… perhaps I should sneak into the kitchen and fix myself another one. You know, for archival sake.

There, that’s better.

Now, the most challenging part was making everything for the party. I made labels for candies for Honeydukes (and procured and filled mason jars with said candies), signs for various shops and classes, house crests, and a picture taking area for guests inside a wanted poster. I made all the food for the party, including roasted chicken drumsticks, ham sandwiches, cucumber tea sandwiches, pumpkin pasties (seriously delicious!), pub-style meatballs, caramel apples, a replica of Harry’s eleventh birthday cake Hagrid made him, along with stuff for Herbology class, like baby carrots, broccoli, miniature heirloom tomatoes, quartered dill pickles, olives, blue corn chips and various dips. I even made a Mandrake plant using basil and ginger root, to which I carved out a little face in. I also had a very well stocked beverage station for Potions class. Lots of stuff, which required lots of preparation to complete, but I wanted the party to be amazing, so alas, I suffered through it all.

Now, while this was mostly going to be an adult party, there were going to be kids. I was unaware there would be nine of them, however. Luckily I had already planned out (well, as planned out as I actually do, anyway) a Horcrux Search game. When I saw the kiddos were at there most sugar-high selves, I decided it was indeed time to find all eight of the horcruxes. Now many of you purists out there would shout that there were only seven horcruxes, but I assure you, Professor Quirrell was a horcrux, albeit a temporary one according to J.K. Rowling. I decided to be Quirrell for the party, but my cloak was in the way after about five minutes of wearing it, so I ditched it. I gave out clues as to where to find the next horcrux and had the kids guess where it might be based off of my clues. I tried to hide them as close to places where they were hidden in the books, like Ginny found Tom Riddle’s diary in the bathroom, so I hid my version of the diary in the bathroom with the ghost of Moaning Myrtle on the mirror pointing the way to find it.

I also had a wand making area in the spare room so the kids had an activity to do that didn’t involve us adults. I figured washable markers and wooden dowels wouldn’t do much harm. I figured wrong. Washable markers do not actually soak into the wood, and therefore end up on everything from hands to walls to counters to carpets to tables and everything they come into contact with, further proof that washable markers are a governmental conspiracy to get us to wash stuff more often.

For the Potions class, I had a sheet of various Potter-related drinks inside a plastic sheet protector on the table for people to mix their own drinks. Of course, in all the chaos to get everything ready before guests arrived, I didn’t have time to test out any of them… not even the Butterbeer! Fortunately this is where Pinterest did not fail me, as these were apparently tried and true recipes. Both the alcoholic and nonalcoholic versions of the Butterbeer were delicious, using either butterscotch schnapps or butterscotch syrup respectively and mixing with cream soda topped with whipped cream gently stirred to create the signature foam. I seriously cannot get enough of this super-sweet and indulgent drink that I’m certain contains more calories than a fast food meal!

Now that I’ve had my party, I can’t wait to help plan my second cousin’s eleventh birthday party which, after coming to my party, also wants to do a Harry Potter themed birthday party as well. The only takeaway I’ll have is to perhaps not try to do it all on my own. However, at the same time, I wanted people to just come and enjoy and not have to do anything in return.

Things I would do differently are not use washable markers but perhaps, instead, they can make wands using wooden dowels, hot glue, beads, and acrylic paint like I was originally planning. I also would put the house crests onto fabric banners, double the amount of Pumpkin Pasties (I only made one batch), and make smaller food identifier cards for the food table.