Monday, December 31, 2012


Another thing I've been busy doing is visiting thrift stores.  Violet and I went to a big one near the art studio where she takes lessons.  It was after her class on a Saturday before Christmas.  Boy, was that place busy.  She found a new sweater.  I found some various craft items including a BIG BAG of felt pieces for less than a dollar.  Some pieces were small, but others were full size.  Definitely got my money's worth as we can use it for many Juliette projects.

That same day we visited 2 used book sales, one a book store run by a local environmental group and the other the Friends of the Library at a neighboring town.  Violet found an armload of books at both.

We cleaned out her closet last week and had 4 bags of outgrown clothes between the two of us.  She agreed to go with me to our local thrift store to donate them.  Of course, we had to go in.  Turns out clothes were 50% off.  She found 3 pairs of jeans, 2 sweaters and 2 other shirts.  I found 2 cardigans and 2 shirts.  Total price?  $29.

Yesterday she mentioned that there was another shirt there that she was thinking about.  I called the store and they were open.  We went back and the clothes were still 50% off.  Violet came home with another pair of jeans, several shirts and a jacket.  I got a pair of p.j. pants, another cardigan, and 2 more shirts.  Plus a neat scarf.  And a pair of boots.  The boots were marked $6 and weren't part of the sale.  But when the lady rang us up, she only charged us 6c for the boots, she missed the two zeros.  She was rather frazzled at the time with a crazy lady on the phone.  We weren't rushing her or anything.  I didn't discover it until we got back home.  I wasn't going to drive back across town to correct it.  I would have said something if I saw the mistake when we were still there.  But sometimes the mistakes are in the store's favor, so it will even out in the long run.  And if I still feel guilty next time I'm there, they have a donation jar.  I can drop some money in there.  (It is a not-for-profit that supports several great local charities to help adults with disabilities and a women's shelter.  I love supporting them.)  Anyway, today's total?  $32. 

In the Spring we plan to go back and try to do another shopping spree when they have the summer clothes out.  We both needed a boost to our wardrobes.  Oh, more about the boots.  They look like they've never been worn and are rubber, about ankle high with a really good tread.  I keep slipping on the ice this winter, falling all the way one time, so I wanted the good tread.  Hopefully I won't fall again now that I have my practically stolen boots.

Happy New Year, everyone!  May your thrift outings be filled with good finds in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


That's the answer to the question, "What in the world has Freakmom been up to?"  Reading.  Borderline obsessive, in need of an intervention, reading.  While I've missed my daily blog writing (okay, so I haven't been "daily" in months, I was at one time), blog reading, forum visiting, e-mailing and other internet activities, I've really been enjoying reading.  Anywhere from one to three hours a day.  So what does Freakmom read when she's obsessively got her nose in a book?  Lots of stuff!

I've been reading for my class at Abigail Adams Academy.  For January we are reading about George Washington.  I found the book selected for the class to be, well fine.  But the author, polar opposite from my beliefs.  It was Being George Washington by Glenn Beck.   I read it.  You can't (in good conscience at least) criticize a book without reading it first.  I have to say one thing for it, it got me more curious about Washington.  So I did what any self-respecting feminist would do, sought out a book about his wife.  I've been reading Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady.  Now there's a book I can recommend.  I am learning a lot about Mrs. Washington that I never knew.  And seeing a side of George that a military history just doesn't go into.

I'm also on a women's literature kick.  It started last summer when I drove to Michigan by myself and wanted some books to listen to in the car.  I got some Edna Ferber.  My all time favorite author.  I listened to the Emma McChesney short stories (in three collections, Roast Beef Medium, Personality Plus and Emma McChesney and Co.).  Those led to Fanny Herself and So Big

Also while driving I listened to Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.  I had never read it.  It was fabulous!  And written by a women.

Then looking for a copy of Joy Luck Club on my book shelves (I didn't find it, I'm currently searching book sales and thrift stores for it), I found my copy of Mankiller: A Chief and Her People the autobiography of Wilma Mankiller, former chief of the Cherokee Nation.  I had never read it. So I did!  Fabulous!  Simply fabulous!  Talk about a strong woman who went through some difficult times.  And she told the history of the Cherokee people.  Although we can't trace it on paper, due to divorces, remarriages, lost birth certificates and adoptions, my mom is half Cherokee.  (Also half Choctaw, which we also can't prove.  Her father was 100% Choctaw, brown as brown can be...his military paperwork lists his race as "white".  The man wasn't white.  Trust me.  But you didn't claim to be Indian during World War I or II if you could claim to be white.  I guess the military wasn't too picky then about details.  He lied about his race.  He lied about his age twice.  First to enlist in WWI he said he was older than he was, then in WWII he claimed to be younger.)

But I digress.  Great book, I highly recommend it.  Mankiller had a quote in the book by Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.  I've never read any of her books, but I found myself searching through Amazon looking up titles.  I found Anything We Love Can Be Saved, a collection of her essays about her activism.  It was in at our library so I checked it out.  And guess what?  I loved it!  Okay, I have to warn you, Alice Walker is a strong woman and tackles really difficult subjects.  She could scare the Hail Marys of out of a lot people.  It brought me back to my college days when my friends and I were taking Women's Studies classes and questioning "the man" a lot.  I intend to read more by her.  She is phenomenal!  And I want dreadlocks now.  Alas, my straight, limp and lifeless as can be hair will never form dreads.  But golly are they beautiful!

Now I'm reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.  Can you believe I've never read any Pearl Buck?  I'm really enjoying it too.

And in between all this I've renewed my love affair with Donald Westlake and read all the Dortmunder novels.  If you like comic crime novels, where the bad guys are really rather good and never quite get away with it but give you lots of laughs along the way, pick up a Dortmunder.  Your librarian can show you them.  I've also reread all of Carl Hiaasen's novels for adults and am working on his novels for kids.  He writes environmental mysteries with lots of humor (and some really strange characters). 

So as you can see, I've been busy.  My library card has been getting quite a workout!  But it leaves little time for blogging.  Hope you have a wonderful New Year filled with good books!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

So Much for Having Extra Free Time in December

All year long I talk about how WE have all this extra time in December because activities grind to a halt and we don't have a big extended family to fill our holiday times with parties and other festivities and all the planning, shopping, baking, and doing that generally goes in to it.  Add in the 2 weeks vacation I am taking and I should be coasting through the days.

Well, that hasn't happened.  Thank goodness I am off from work because I don't know how I'd be squeezing work into the mix.  Activities are continuing through next Saturday this year.  And Violet's volunteen group has their storytime session at the library on the 27th.  We spent yesterday at my parents' helping with their Christmas tree and Dad and I went to lunch and shopping.  Today after art class we went to meet sled dogs as part of the town Square's holiday celebration.  The dogs were beautiful.  But it was raining and windy and muddy!  I guess it could have been cold and icy.  We also grabbed lunch out and hit 3 thrift stores.

Anyway, we've been busy making new decorations for our tree, since Bubbles is Destructo Cat.  I guess the candy cane reindeer are the only ones I've offloaded from the camera to my computer so far:

I'll get the others and post them.  And I need to take a photo of the full tree with all the decorations. This week we have a Christmas party with our Juliettes, are meeting my dad at the local historical museum to see the 50's Christmas living room, have a Christmas party/cookie exchange/lunch with the girls' club, as well as tennis and art class.  So: clean the house, get out the supplies for 3 crafts and making fudge, make cookies, box cookies for the exchange, oops first buy cookie ingredients, make 5 copies of the cookie recipe, make turkey/cheese roll-ups to take for the lunch dish to share, better get the ingredients when getting the cookies ones, make goodie bags for 10 friends, ask Violet if she wants to make them for 2 brothers as well - I think we have enough stuff, finish shopping, wrap presents, mail presents, send cards, and somethings else...

Oh yeah!  Enjoy my carefree time off from work!  Yeesh.  I guess this is why I usually go on vacation when I go on vacation!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

That Darn Cat

Bubbles loves the Christmas tree.  It didn't take her long to make it all the way to the top!

And start to take a nap

I call this one, "Cat Butt in Tree"

"But I'm so darned cute!"

Yes, it is proving to be an interesting Christmas time.  We didn't want to put up any sentimental or breakable ornaments.  It seems to be a wise decision.  Instead of lights we made paper chain.  We've since added some paper snowflakes too, which also help to brighten it up.  The ornaments are all either homemade or from a garage sale (years and years ago Mr. I. and I bought them) or the thrift store (Violet and I score big there on some ornaments on Monday, $2 for about 50 ball ornaments).

I have to say it is rather odd to have your Christmas tree shake and meow when you are quietly sitting by it.  I think it will come down the earliest ever this year.  By the 26th I expect we'll be tired of picking up ornaments and pulling kittens out of it.

The Afghan

Here it is, the afghan:

The squares are approximately one foot by one foot.  It became a nice-sized blanket. Violet has been sleeping with it on her bed and says it is really warm.  The squares are sewn together by some very not so neat whip stitches with white yarn.  Really, I am capable of much better sewing.  I should take it out and redo it neater.  But I was so tired of working on it, I just wanted to finish it.

That said, I do plan to do another some day.  I like the every other white scheme, but maybe some pastels next time for fun.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I've been knitting again.  Actually, I haven't stopped.  The house is full of yarn. I can't go to the thrift store unsupervised, I come home with balls and balls of yarn.  Here's my latest completed project, a cute little teddy bear:

And so he won't get cold in the winter months, he's got a vest:

Doesn't he look snazzy?  It is too big for him.  I didn't follow directions and used needles that were one size too big.  But that's what I had.  And besides, I like baggy clothes, don't you?  Much more comfy.

I'm working on making him a friend:  a hot pink bunny.  The bunny will have a vest too.  Likely too big, I don't know that I'll get the right sized needles any time soon.  And I am very, very close to being finished with an afghan.  I've been knitting square after square after square.  I have them almost all sewed together.  I'll post that photo soon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Girl Scouts are the Best!

Today we had a Juliette meeting at our house.  Guess what those crazy families did?  They showed up with a giant card thanking me for leading their group!  And that's not all.  A $40 gift card from Amazon to get myself something special!! Can you believe it?  That was so sweet of them (the girls and the moms).  I was caught completely off guard!  They are so sneaky!  And super!

We've been together most of our homeschooling careers.  Sometimes one of our families have drifted off for a bit, but we always get back together.  The drifting is just due to overcommitments, that sort of thing.  We've never had a falling out.  We respect each other family's beliefs, interests and oddities.  They have been a great support group, and probably why we've never gotten involved in a big group.

So, today we painted Christmas cards.  Here are Violet's:

Their challenge was to use sponges and Q-tips for painting.  The Juniors are earning their Drawing and Painting badge (I'm going to get the Cadettes some sort of arts and crafts fun patch).  At the end of the meeting the other girls were saying how great Violet's were and how her art work is so much better than theirs and to "stop doing stuff so nice!" (with a laugh, of course).  I thought that was a nice complement.

We also made popcorn chains (Violet and Butterfly hung the ones Violet and I did out on the trees while waiting for Butterfly's mom to come.  Now it is raining hard.  So much for the popcorn.  Sigh.) 

Last Friday we met at the nearby town square where Mr. Incredible has his office (and where the outdoor scenes of Groundhog Day were filmed, which I've only mentioned a gazillion times, but you name drop where you can).  We visited an art gallery, looked at the community decorated Christmas trees on display in the Opera House, browsed a great boutique filled with Christmas decorations (which we later returned to and bought ribbon candy - something I couldn't find last year!), got hot chocolate/coffee from Starbucks (crashed Mr. Incredible's office and drank it at his conference table), and finally went on carriage rides around the square:

The city has free carriage rides on select days throughout the holiday season.  The driver and horse take you on a spin (a very slow spin) around the square.  It is so awesome!  I feel like I have the Christmas spirit for the first time in years.  We voted today that this will become a Juliette tradition.

In the photo, the building with the dome on it is the old courthouse.  It houses the art gallery we went to.  It used to have a Dick Tracy Museum too, but sadly that closed due to lack of funding.  If you look just to the right of it, behind the trees, across the street, and on the second floor, that's Mr. I's office.  See him waving?  Okay, you can't see it and he is probably at his computer working.  But he was there.  The photo was taken standing on the Opera House steps.  (The Opera House played the part of the hotel in the movie.)

In two weeks we have our last meeting of 2012.  We'll make some Christmas crafts and fudge.  I'm looking forward to it as much as the girls!  Did I mention they are the best!