Be Nice! (With Yarn and Coffee)

I’m on a new quest to devote more time and energy toward charity, volunteer work, random acts of kindness….that sort of thing.  This week I ka-powed someone with kindness at Dunkin’ Donuts by paying for the person behind me in the drive through line.

Kindness….one caffeinated beverage at a time.

But I’ve been thinking I’d like to commit to a more long-term type project….something that’s suited to my abilities and high level of slack.  I think I’ve come up with the answer!  A few years ago, I picked up this book:

 

So, this is the plan.  I am going to commit to knitting 5 hours each week and work my way through the suggested projects for the various charities and organizations in this book.  And what is the first project I’ve come to in the book?  The Ships Project (www.theshipsproject.com) …. they provide hand-knit items for sailors and soldiers.  So, my first goal in this endeavor is to spend at least 5 hours a week knitting a hat and a pair of socks for a military person with a frozen noggin and chilly toes.  Seems like a splendid way to start, no?  Actually, the first several projects are for the military.  It makes me happy to help in my goofy, little way.  Never fear, I’ll post pictures of finished projects and works in progress. 😀

Size Doesn’t Matter (So Be Nice!)

No, I’m not talking about that.  Geez…potty brain. 😉  I’m talking about charitable things.  In our area, a new website has been born…one that gives a person the opportunity to donate to very specific projects and causes.  Last night, for the very low price of $18.00, I was able to help provide birds with worms for the year (at a specific garden, not globally or anything) and contribute to the purchase of a snake for a local science museum.  How exciting is that?!? 

I’ll hop on the honest train for a minute and confess that I have been less-than-active in charitable pursuits in recent history.  Where has that idealistic, save-the-world-one-tree/bird/person/bunny/whale/plankton-at-a-time girl gone???  Well, I’ve got some apathy to atone for, and what better time to start correcting the situation than yesterday?  (And a big thank you to kindness girl for reminding me to get off my rump and be nice to someone already! 😉 )

So, here’s my plan: I’m going to commit to getting my random-acts-of-kindness on at least once a week.  Then I’m going to report back to you, my lovely readers.  It’s not a “oh look what I’ve done” type of thing….it’s more of a “this will force me to pay attention to this/accountability” kind of thing.  And if someone finds a new charitable cause to support or a little way to be nice to someone from this blog, then that’s awesome too. 😀

So, what was that website, you ask?  www.power2give.org  They have tons of projects to support, so you’re sure to find something you can’t resist.

I Am A Domestic Genius! (I Made Apple Butter!)

Yep, I have actually created (from apples, mind you) apple butter!  Oh, the chopping, cooking, and canning that happened here yesterday.  It was amazing and fabulous.  Most amazing points of all???  It actually tastes delicious and wasn’t terribly difficult to do.  It’s such thrilling thing (in a goofy sort of way, I realize) to hear the lids on your jars go pop, pop, pop. 😀 

I’ll share the recipe for the apple butter right below the picture, but be warned…..this process took about 14 hours from start to finish.  (Not 14 hours of non-stop attention or anything, but it was a lengthy process.)  Apple butter doesn’t have to be “canned”….it can be stored in containers in the freezer, so don’t be thrown off by the canning bit.  If you go the freezer route, I would avoid glass jars….exploded apple butter goo sprayed throughout your freezer is probably not what you want to find next time you go for an ice cream sandwich.  I do not provide instructions for canning…..for that, check the internet, check out a book, or check with your grandma….there are tons of resources out there!

The end result? Eight little jars of yumminess.

What You Need:

  • 5 to 6 pounds of apples (I used 10 good-sized apples)
  • 4 cups of sugar (honestly, 3 cups would have probably done the trick….if you prefer things a bit less sweet, go with less than 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (this is enough to make the whole house smell like red hots according to my husband)
  • 2 teaspoons of allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a crock pot
  • various and assorted chopping equipment (peeler, knives, cutting board….those sorts of things)
  • a large bowl
  • a potato masher
  • a big spoon

What To Do:

  1. Peel your apples and chop them to bits.  (Pieces should be quite small, but not crushed to gooey mush.)  Put apples in a large bowl while you get the crock pot ready for them.
  2. Don’t turn on the crock pot yet!
  3. Put sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in crock pot.  Stir until it looks like a lovely (and uniform) type of dirt.
  4. Add apples to crock pot and stir everything up.  (Gently or you’ll end up with sugary apples all about the place.)
  5. When everything’s nice and mixed up, turn the crock pot on high.
  6. Cook apples on high (covered!) for 1 hour.
  7. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 10 hours.  (Stir the apples every once in a while.  This is a great opportunity to “sample” your apple butter.  You know, to make sure it tastes okay.)
  8. Remove lid.  Cook for 1 more hour.
  9. Use a potato masher to gently mash up apples.  This will make the consistency and texture more pleasant.
  10. If you’re going the freezer route, put apple butter in appropriate containers.  If you’re going the canning route, follow all of your canning instructions and put in appropriate containers.

Embrace Yourself (Not in a Pervy Sort of Way)

Well, if you want to embrace yourself in a pervy sort of way, that’s up to you, but that’s not what this post is about.  Earlier today I was pondering a noticeable shift in decor in our home and what brought the change about.  For way, way too many years I attempted to “decorate” our home like a “grown up” would.  You know, everything matching and sporting the neutral tones.  I did stop short of the knickknacks.  I am, apparently, innately opposed to clutter.  I wanted it to look “nice” because that’s how adults are supposed to do things, right? 

In the past few months, I’ve noticed a pleasant trend within my home….my husband and I both seem to be taking a poop-on-being-a-grown-up attitude.  No, we haven’t taken to smoking weed and neglecting to pay the electricity bill, but we do seem to be rejecting society more and more these days….and I’m loving it.  I find that day-to-day life is much more pleasant when I look around my home and see things that I love, not necessarily things that fit the color scheme.  Life also becomes a lot simpler when you’re not focused on how things “should” be if the Better Homes & Gardens crew were to make a surprise visit.

So, what’s the point?  When you’re making your home yours, follow your own rules.  I wish I had accepted this a long time ago.  I could have avoided a lot of beige furniture and unused (yet coordinated!) throw pillows.

A painting that makes me happy every time I see it on the wall. His name is Walter. 😉

Every grown up should have a calendar, right? 😀

Unexpected Happiness

When my stepdaughter’s collection of parents (she has four of us…poor child) came together and decided that homeschool was the way to go for her, I was thrilled.  I have no doubt in my mind that homeschool is the very best choice for her.  I was also thrilled to be the one responsible for her education.  How exciting!  Okay, a little daunting and frightening, but also exciting. 😉 

What I did not expect when we embarked on this adventure (nearly a month ago) was that I would have a blast with it.  I am having so much fun sharing what I have learned, learning what I should already know, learning what I have no reason on this planet to already know, and venturing into the world to do some poking and prodding (sometimes figurative, sometimes literal).  Who knew that I would be all blissed out from homeschool???

I’ve read recently that true happiness comes from gathering experiences rather than things….I’m a total believer.  Even though our income has decreased substantially since I left my job, my day-to-day happiness has substantially increased.  Given that I’m happier, my stepdaughter’s happier, and she’s actually doing well in school, I’d say this homeschool decision is totally for the win.  By the by, if you’re interested in reading more about our homeschool experiences, you can check out our homeschool blog at www.homeschoolhijinks.wordpress.com.

I find that playing with clay, food coloring, and bowls of water is much more satisfying than my last job. 😉