Saturday, February 18, 2017

Vegan Brain Dumping

No, the above picture is not about veganism.  Well, not directly.  What you see before you is a blurry image that I managed to capture of a 7 year old autistic dressing his 5 year old brother.  It's not that the 5 year isn't capable of dressing himself.  It's that this morning he refused to.  And I was getting us ready to get out the door to do some field research and grocery shopping.  (Needless to say I failed in that regard because as soon as I got to the store I realized that I had left the shopping list at home. Since it was lengthy had to go back and retrieve it.  Hubby was not home to send a photograph, and I'm not good at remembering long lists. But I digress.)

What's amazing about this photograph is that I told the 5 year old to get his brother to help him and his brother agreed to it.  Sometimes he doesn't.  HB picked out all of his brother's clothing, and item by item made sure they were all going on correctly and helped his brother put them on.  This is a shot of him at the finale- putting on shoes.

HB also dresses himself.  Often times I don't ask him to.  He just does it like any typical kid.

And yes, he's autistic.  And no, I don't see him as some sort of genetic defect, a drain on government resources, or incapable of living a full and completely independent life.  Although some cruel internet people would think he'd be better off dead, which is why autistics are frightened of prenatal genetic tests. 

Point is that I was able to capture a brief moment of something that is ordinary for us, but should dispel the myth that all autistics are all alike.  Because they are not.  Not in the least.  Some graduate highschool at 13 and others never technically earn a diploma.  Just like "regular" people. 

Back to the field research:

So I've been writing a plan in a notebook of vegan meals.  I'm not crazy enough to suddenly expect to just "do this thing" without thinking through it and what it would mean.  Turns out it doesn't seem that hard.  You can pretty much make any regular meal vegan.  My list is up to 26 dinner plans.  Lent is only 40 days but I'll probably go 48.  And I haven't finished leafing through the 8 or so vegan recipe books from the library.  Some of which are about how to transition but include recipes and others are thick tomes of some hefty substance.  So finding a few more interesting ones will not be a problem.  Worse case I end up making many of them twice or thrice.

The tricky part for me is dairy substitutions.  I like dairy a lot.  Meats are nice, but dairy is h.a.r.d.  Let's be honest.  There are no dairy substitutions that can fool you into thinking it's dairy.  You just have to pick one that you can live with using and don't mind the flavor.  And that, folks, is the tricky part.  I am picky.

I'm not a fan of soy.  For one it's bad for those with hormonal imbalances.  And I take a thyroid medication.  Because soy mimics estrogen, that wouldn't be good for me.  In fact it's said to be bad for young pre-pubescent children particularly boys.  My neighbor is studying to be a nurse, and one of her children has a dairy allergy.  She doesn't give him soy (he drinks cashew milk).  I've even read online advice saying that if you eat a lot of soy products it's best to avoid soy milk. 

So soy's out.  Not that I like it anyway.  I've tried a couple of flavors in the past and they weren't great.

I haven't tried any of the nut ones like the ever popular almond variety, but I'm not a fan of nuts.  I'm afraid that I won't like them either.

So today I've been taste testing rice milk.  It's not as protein and nutrient rich as some of the other varieties of plant-based milks, but I can stand it.  I reminds me of drinking skim milk that had once been in a bowl with rice cereal.  Not the most fantastic thing to drink, but I can stomach it.

So rice milk in cold cereal.  Ordinarily I use water when making hot cereals like oatmeal.

Almond milk in cooking might not be so bad and would certainly give me protein.  So that's the next one to try.  Plus they make chocolate varieties which can't be all that terrible for drinking.  I mean who doesn't love chocolate.  Nutella is hazel nuts with chocolate and I like that so I can handle a nutty chocolate flavored drink, right?  Work with me here, people.  We're confidence building that I can find a non-milk milk, kay?

For more full fat cooking like in creamy soups that require half and half, I've heard that coconut milk is a better substitute.  And I like the flavor of coconut even though, oddly, I can't stand the texture of it shredded.  Thanks but no thanks almond joy and mounds.  I've used a lot of coconut oils in the past for cooking and on my skin so it seems a more plausible substitute.

Speaking of coconut, on my investigations I've discovered that my local grocery store carries your typical soy yogurt but also a coconut version.  So when I make my cold oatmeal in a jar thingy (which a websearch says it's called "overnight oats"), I can use that to thicken it.

They also carry a brand of vegan butter, but unfortunately it's the soy version.  I think the local health food store carries both along with the soy and non-soy vegan mayo and non-soy vegan cheese. Normally I use very little butter so a little soy for now won't hurt.  I'm hoping that the non-soy vegan cheese is decent on a pizza.  I doubt I'll use a vegan mayo as I only put it on a meaty sandwhich.

Salads shouldn't be an issue either.  There are vegan versions, but the easiest is just a diy vinaigrette.

My breakfasts are going to be a bit boring.  It's basically smoothies, toast, bagels with some sort of spread, cold oats, hot oats, and cold cereal.  *sigh*  I realize they have a lot of vegan crumbles and vegan eggs, but they are soy.  And once again, trying to avoid the soy.  Kinda sounds like it rhymes "avoid the soy."

Moving on.

I did make a vegan eggplant Parmesan and it wasn't that bad.  It needed a bit more seasoning so I think it was a pasta sauce issue, but didn't miss the cheese.

Point is it's doable to be vegan and avoid soy and avoid processed foods.  Yes, you can be a junk food eating vegan although most vegans aren't.

The other concern is making sure my diet is balanced.  Vegans have a difficult time getting enough B-12 in their diets and find they have to supplement.  Similarly I read a book called Veganish in which the author says she had to switch to a more omnivore diet when her daughter started have dental problems.  I heard similar things from people in the past.  Not just vegans but also vegetarians who discovered that they weren't eating enough protein and needed to sparingly add meat into their diet.   On the other hand, I've heard that some have found tremendous health benefits such as lowing their cholesterol levels to feeling more energetic.  So we'll see which category I fall under.

At any rate, I'll buy some B-12 supplements and perhaps a multi-vitamin.  

Okay, so let's do this thing.  When's Lent start?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Lenten Plans

Hello everyone!  It's been a while.  I've been a bit busy doing house related things that never end and haven't really done much blogging.  Lots of twitter though.  So if you are interested in knowing what I am up to, follow me on twitter @deltaflute.

Lent starts in March (March 1st) and February is a very short month so I've been thinking about Lent.  Usually I add something to Lent.  Last year I consecrated myself Divine Mercy/Merciful Love.  And I'll probably in that vein read St. Faustina's Diary.

I also tend to give something up.  I can't remember now what I did last year.  I might have opted to do the usual penance that everybody from ages 18-59 must do and nothing more.

Well this year I've given it a bit of a think (as the Brits would quip) and I've decided that perhaps I should go vegan (or vegetarian I haven't completely made a decision over which I think is easier for me to do over 6 weeks).

For those of you don't know, going vegan means giving up any animal products entirely and eating only plant based meals.  This includes not only meat, fish, and poultry, but also cheese, milk, and honey.


Glad you asked:
1) In solidarity with our Eastern Catholic Brothers and Sisters- You remember not too long ago I discovered that Muslims were giving up something for Lent in solidarity with Christians.  I considered it rude and completely not understanding the point of Lent.  Well, I'm a Western/Latin Catholic, and I understand the practices of our Eastern Catholic brethren because not too long ago Latin Catholics (particularly those in religious orders) were that strict as well.  It's not required for a Latin anymore, but it is for some Eastern Catholics so....if you guys can do, so can us wimpy Latins.

2) It's good to remember....- It's good to remember that most of the world doesn't eat an animal based diet like the one here in the USA.  I recently saw a documentary showing North Korea escapees eating American barbeque for the first time (it's on youtube).  One women talked about how they get an ounce of meat for special occasions.  Usually the North Koreans eat dog.  Another who had been a farmer said it was too expensive to purchase meat.  So yeah, if the point of Lent is also to give alms what better way to remember that the poor eat- a plant based diet.  This was the point of fish Fridays anyway.  Eat what the poor eat.

3) Perfecting the body and purifying the soul- One of the things about being a Catholic is denying ourselves what is bad.  The body and the soul are connected so in denying things that are bad for us, we are also purifying our soul.  Gluttony is not good.  And not taking care of our bodies by eating unhealthy is not good.  You could say this is my fancy way of saying that I'm giving up gluttony for Lent.

Last year I started exercising and that was good.  I haven't really had time to take that up, but I'm moving around a lot.  Then over the summer I started a diet which basically had me giving up grains/high carbs.  It was good but hard.

Problem was I couldn't stay on the diet and I've fallen for the junk food wagon. I don't think grains are the problem.  The problem is my balance of vegetables.  I'm simply not eating enough.  And I can feel that in my health. I'm tired and strung out and have gained 4 pounds. I need to stop mindlessly eating junk. So whether or not I go vegan or vegetarian doesn't matter.  The point is that I'm going to be putting more plants on my plate that I should be doing now.

You see I'm a glutton for junk food and that's ultimately my problem.  Even my kids are junk food addicts.  My husband and I had a long heart felt conversation about food last weekend.  It was good.  He's been cooking because I had grown frustrated and jaded about meal preparation.  So he's agreed for now that it's best if we keep those junk food temptations out of the house and replace them with healthier options.  Eventually I think we can have crackers, for example, again but until the kids (and myself) get into the habit of grabbing an orange it's better to just not have it.  And if the kids are truly hungry, they should be getting a simple meal not a whole package of chips (that's crisps for you Brits).

So I guess the kids are giving junk food up?  Well not necessarily for Lent anyway.

So what are you thinking about doing for Lent?  Leave a comment below.  I read all of your comments even if I may not always respond. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Therapy Updates

I'm a little emotional today.  I think it's because my hormones seems to be a bit out of wack.  I've been having acne break outs at the end of and mid parts of the cycle so it explains why I feel so weird. So I apologize in advance if I've splattered words on a digital page.

Knee is heading off to kindergarten and providentally my husband forgot to sign him in today at drop off.  So after a meeting I ran over to Knee's school and signed him just in time to bump into the therapist.  He gets speech therapy at head start.  She said she doesn't think he needs it, but thought it was a good idea to have HB's therapist at school a head's up to see if she'd like to peek at him herself.  And I'll need to register him for school soon.

HB is doing well with his school therapies.  The speech therapist wrote a note in his report card saying that she's been teaching him about words having multiple meanings so he can work on his fluid reasoning skills.  That's the area you recall where he is academically weakest.  Usually multiple definitions comes up in later grades, but since HB is so scattered, they felt it important to work on his weak areas now.  He's made tremendous progress and even pointed out today that the word "point" can refer to the action of pointing with your finger or the tip of something like the point of a pencil. 

So I met with the controversial therapist about controversial therapies at home.  ABA therapy or applied behavioral therapy is very controversial in the autistic community.  Even HB's speech therapist warned me that from her experience with this particular group it can either be dreadful or helpful.

And I've seen the red flags.  Words like "recovery" and "reparative therapy" have been thrown around like autism is the type of disability that goes away. 

Autism doesn't go away.  But for some children they are able to catch up and learn those developmental milestones that they are missing.  Much like some children can learn to walk with physical therapy. 

You may be thinking "well, why go through it if it could be harmful?"  I'd like to try.  I think that HB does need to learn emotional regulation techniques and self-motivation techniques.  We all have to learn those basic skills.  Furthermore I believe that he's capable of learning them with help.  He's managed to master imaginative play and is excelling at his fluid reasoning.  There's no reason for me to believe that he couldn't learn how to regulate his emotions. 

But I'm not stupid and I've even warned my husband about controversial ABA therapy.  If I think the therapy is being more harmful than helpful, I'm more than happy to "fire" the therapist.  I will not get upset about it.  I will instead continue to do what I've been doing which is to look for resources.  So far this is the only one, besides school and food, which I've been given access to. 

And the school doesn't help with behavioral issues.  I was shocked to find out yesterday that even some of the SPED students are taken by the police for attacking teachers to "scare them a little."  My husband is optimistic that the teacher or I are missing some vital piece of information here, but I'm pretty sure that taking a child with a disability to the jail violates the child's civil liberties.  I realize children should not be attacking their teachers but it seems to me that as part of IDEA (federal mandate to educate children with disabilities) is to provide children with behavioral therapy if their behavior conflicts with their ability to learn in a classroom setting.  

I've already told my husband that the minute the school and the police remove my child for behavioral issues related to his disability is the minute I'm hiring a lawyer and suing them in federal court for not providing for his education adequately under IDEA and violating his civil liberties.  This is completely ludicrous if true.  

So now you may understand just a peak of what parents are feeling right now about our education system and particularly how upset we are about the Secretary of Education review went.  It's not funny.  HB has a lot of potential and I feel like too many people who should be helping him are not and those that maybe shouldn't could.  It's sad to have to live with the lesser of two evils.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cleaning, Tidying, and Decluttering

I'm trying to focus on positive things and working on me these days.  Every time I open up my twitter account it just seems that there's animosity and anger.  Some of it is legitimate anger (like saving unborn babies) and the rest is just confusing and misdirected.  All in all I find it's getting to be toxic, and this is coming from someone who ordinarily likes a good meeting of the minds.

Rather than throwing up my hands I've decided to be pro-active with me.  As we sing "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me," I take that to heart.  So let the peace and improvement begin with me.

I went and checked out a plethora of cleaning books.  It's not because I don't know how to clean.  I'm not a spring chicken and I've been a stay at home for seven years.  I can clean things.  I checked out the books for motivation.  I checked out the books for getting into good habits.

Here's something interesting that I did learn.  I knew it, but I don't think it really registered. Cleaning, tidying, and decluttering are all different things even though we use them often synonymously.

I checked out the book Spark Joy by Marie Kondo which is the follow up to her popular book.  I reviewed her Magic of Tidying Up and found it to be okay.  Spark Joy is better because it focuses on organizing.  It also does a better job of explaining what she means by keeping things that spark joy.  I was skeptical that Spark Joy would be a better book because I had so much trouble slogging through her Shinto/Buddhist beliefs that covered several chapters in Magic.  Spark Joy is a little bit more practical and less spiritual.  You do however have to read Magic because it explains how to discard whereas Spark Joy is more about how to organize.

Well in Spark Joy she explains a couple of things: tyding is not the same as cleaning and clutter is different.

I think there's a cultural or translation difference going on here because I don't think she's defining the words correctly.  However I get the point and she is right.

Decluttering is getting rid of the excess.  Kondo uses the word tidy, but I think that's not synonymous.  If you have clutter, you typically don't have stuff put in a place and often you don't have a place for the stuff anyway.

Tidy means putting back things that are out of place. Several dictionaries define it as having order. Kondo doesn't call it that.  In fact she calls this clutter.  This is why I think there's a word usage problem going on here.  So really her first book should be titled the Magic of Decluttering.  As I said when she discusses tidying she really means go through your stuff and get rid of some it and organize or tidy the rest. 

The last is cleaning.  Cleaning isn't picking up stuff and putting it away.  Cleaning is removing dirt and grime that we often accumulate because we are human and go outside. 

Kondo claims that if you follow her method you will never have to declutter (or tidy to use her words) again.  I disagree.  Maybe not excessively declutter but you will declutter as you go through changes in life like children get older, following new hobbies, change size of home, ect.  Plus things that may have "sparked joy" at one time may not years later.  If her criteria is items have to spark joy, then you will declutter at some point.  She did say that you would have to put away things (tidying) and you would have to clean.

So if you looking for books about decluttering, or tidying (or organizing), or cleaning, I suggest looking up those particular topics, but realize people often discuss all of them within the same book while focusing the majority of the book on one of those three.  And all three are ultimately what you need to manage your house and to teach your children. 

It's also a great starting point for growth. I find that I'm great at decluttering, but not so good with tidying (at least the putting things back where they belong part).  This is where I want to focus and also focus on having a cleaning schedule that I can live with.  It helps though to tidy things as you go so you spend more time simply wiping things down instead. 

So dear reader, what's your struggle?  Is it decluttering, tidying, or cleaning or all three?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Head Meet Desk

So people have been freaking out about the Trump administration. If it isn't over Trump appointing Robert Kennedy Jr to a vaccine safety panel, it's his nomination for Secretary of Education who keeps gaffing.  Thus a group of feminists have decided to march against Trump and they are as they say "eating their own" over the abortion thing.

As a Catholic, I think I hardly qualify as what we think of today as feminism. I believe that there are distinct gender roles. I don't think I should be a priest (or could). I also believe that abortion is a form of oppression to the parents and murdering of a child.  None of these things puts me on the good list of your average feminist.

So behold my twitter feed:
I got into a conversation with a pro-abortionist.  She was Jonesing for a fight with a media priest and instead she ended up with me.  Ironically she called me said priest's "troll." Ah,well.  She wanted a debate so I gave her one.  But then she flashed her "feminist" card and I just.couldn't.

"this is never said to men "stop having sex". Only women. Our sexuality is used as a weapon against us. Men taught you this."

Really?!  Seriously?!  That's a joke right?  Catholics never tell both men and women to keep it in their pants ever, right?  *head meet desk*

And men taught me this? Seriously?! Whaaaaa??

I basically tweeted the sheer nuttiness of this tweet and someone naturally couldn't resist.

And it was sad, people. Just sad. And highly disturbing.  Basically she felt that there was nothing hypocritical of expecting a man to make a decision about having a baby before sex and a woman being able to make that decision post.  What I mean is if a dude doesn't want a child, he's basically gotta abstain.  If there's a baby later on down the road, whether he wanted the baby or not doesn't matter.  He doesn't get a say on whether he would like to keep his own child and avoid abortion nor does he get a say on avoiding said child and thus pays child support.  His decision must come BEFORE.  On the other hand a woman doesn't have to decide before hand.  She gets to wait to decide whether to kill said child or take care of said child. 

In other words, we have two different standards.  And it would seem to look like the men are being held to a higher standard because they have to decide to abstain (or not) and live with someone else's decision.  They have to exert self-control.  Women on the other hand don't have to exert the same self-control.  They hold all the cards on the baby making or destroying end.  Sex without consequences foreva!  (she says sarcastically with a note of dejection).

But that's totally fair or something because women have a uterus or something.  No equality here. Men are servants to the womb.

Her response:
"no, we are trying to get male birth control. we try to promote us of birth control. this is 'not throwing your hands in the air'"

Yes, male birth control.  That'll solve it. It's not like we don't already have male condoms.  It's not like nobody ever uses them and totally discovers that they have a failure rate.  Is my sarcasm showing?  Seriously. *headmeetdesk*

And it went on until I told her that she was being hysterical about women who have miscarriages being prosecuted for abortion.  The last two cases I've seen in this country about women being prosecuted involved a women who bought abortion pills over the internet without a prescription and took them.  It's illegal to take a medication like that without a prescription.  The other shoved a coat hanger in places coat hangers should not be shoved.  She was prosecuted for giving herself an abortion without a license. Neither one deserves huge jail times, but they certainly need some psyc help.

She then went all ad hominem on me and said that I was a miserable person and must want to spread that misery.  Uh, nope. Not miserable or angry (as was the other claim).  Just disturbed.  As for spreading misery well it's more like I'm trying to be logical with people so they can logically avoid misery.  By this I mean hell.

But what I get out of this is that people have not thought their arguments through.  I've had grand spars with people who pulled all sorts of justifications out for abortion from their hats.  These people have thought things out, but they are simply wrong.

If these two, however, are trying to convince me that feminism is awesome or as one put it, "simply making choices", then I want none of it.  Give me sanity, give me logic, give me the "patriarchy!"  I'd rather get lectured to by St. Thomas Aquinas. 

2,4,6,8 who do I appreciate? The Magisterium! The Magisterium! Go Magisterium!!! Yay for patriarchy. Boo for feminism.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

More Cleaning Hacks for Slobs

It's been a while since I discussed cleaning.  It's the bane of my existence.  I hate cleaning.  Some people love it, but I am not one of them.  So here are some more cleaning hacks that seem to help me out.

1) Take it in baby steps.
Growing up my mom was the one who loaded the dishwasher.  She was a bit particular about this and so we only piled up dishes on the counter.  The extra steps of scraping or rinsing and then putting your dishes in the dishwasher were/are not something I'm accustomed too.  It's not a habit for me to take those steps and so out of habit I've just cleared the table by grabbing dishes and stuffing them into the sink or sitting them on the counter.  Now as an adult I realize this just clutters my kitchen and leaves more messes and takes more time because instead of doing one (or four dishes) after a time period I'm stuck doing so much more.  So my goal now is to make that a habit.  There are many other good habits that I also need to learn, but rather than overwhelming myself I am instead choosing this one good habit to work on this month and next month it might be something like making the bed.

2) In that vein, make tiding up a normal thing you do every day.
Why wait until it's a giant mess?  If you've got your house decluttered, organized, and with everything having a place, why simply not get into the habit of putting everything back?  Yes, I realize this isn't going to happen all the time. You may get home very late.  Or you may have put the kids to bed and can't put that one neglected toy back into their room. Or maybe you're like me and find yourself on occasion with a screaming headache. Yes, it might be a better idea to lay down then to worry about fussing over dishes.  But don't make those exceptions an excuse.  You can make it a part of your everyday routine to take 15 minutes to tidy up.

3)Then the real work begins.
Cleaning is not really tidying up. Cleaning is scrubbing gunk off your bathroom counter tops and crushing dust bunnies.  This is something that you also need to get into the habit of doing on a regular basis before your toilet turns orange (although in my defense, I just had or was about to have a baby.) 

4) If you hate the monotony of cleaning, I hear you.
Believe me; I hear you. I've had this stay-at-home gig for seven years. 7 years!  And housework.  And I hate all the interruptions because I just want five minutes to complete this task not 30 minutes with lots of "Mom!" and "Mommy" and "I just wanna tell you".  Urg!!  I don't need any more excuses to break my motivation.  So set aside time everyday to clean on a consistent basis and multi-task the boring parts.  I find I can get through handwashing if I have the rosary playing on a podcast.  Or I can sweep (and dance and semi-exercise) to exercise music.  But maybe that's not your thing so put on a book-on-tape instead.  Whatever keeps you from going "ugg, I don't wanna scrub off breakfast from this pan for the seventh time this week."  And I find I get far fewer interruptions if 1) I prepare them ahead of time of the task ahead and 2) I have some noise on. So I would advise refraining from using ear buds/head phones.  It's like a signal that says "yes, mom, is still busy." Otherwise they may think the quiet means that I'm not doing something and interrupt.

5) Make sanitizing a part of your monthly schedule.
Did you know that your supposed to sanitize your washing machine and your dishwasher at least once a month?  Sanitizing is not cleaning.  It's making sure that mold and mildew and other germy things don't grow in wet environments.  Certainly leaving the doors open on your washer and dishwasher helps, but you'll want to throw in some white vinegar and have it run through a cycle without anything in it once a month. 

6) In that same vein you should set up monthly tasks.
Did you know that you should vacuum out your dryer hose thing to avoid fires every 6 months?  How about flipping the mattress every six months or vacuuming it monthly to get rid of dust mites (which live on your skin btw)?  Checking your smoke detectors once a season? Yeah, I know I'm bad about these things too.  I just need to sit down and start a monthly calendar plan check list because I forget too.

Anyways, I hope that you enjoyed my cleaning hacks for slobs.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Crafts and Books for 2017

Yep, I'm a little late to the list party, but it's never too late.  In case you don't know what I'm talking about, every year people give lists of various sorts for their new year.  For some it's resolutions and others it's what books they plan on reading.  For me it's a combination of crafts and books that I plan on reading this year.  I've never put one on the blog (that I can remember), but I usually have a running mental list.  So here it is in digital format...

1) Embroidery Monogram-

Pintrest is my friend.  And I've learned that I've been hanging pictures all wrong.  Okay maybe not "wrong" but very old school.  I've come for a long set of people who look at a blank wall and think "I need to cover that wall with something" and immediately begin putting pictures up on every.single.wall.  Usually it's one picture on every. single. wall.  Totally blank walls? Uh....But pintrest is full of what are called "wall galleries."  That is rather than putting a picture on every.single.wall, you create sort of a hanging collage on one wall.  Thus guests (or yourself) are not visually overwhelmed and constantly turning your head around a room.  You have one (or two) focal points. Your pieces are carefully curated, and you only show and display what you love instead of putting up random things on ever.single.wall.  It's actually artistic to have blank walls in your house.

What does this have to do with a monogram?  Well part of creating a wall gallery is that you come up with something cohesive.  Maybe all your stuff are black and white photos, images of mountains, or as in the case of one my friends a hefty collection of crosses.  I have two walls so far.  One is all wedding/honey moon themed.  The other is family.  I hung up the family one and thought that it needed something besides seemingly random photos on a wall.  Nobody would understand the theme just by looking at it so my craft self thinks I need a monogram of our last name.

Now I could just paint one or pick up a random letter from the craft store, but my house has a minimalistic (minus the typical industrial look) meets crafty chic look. There's a decorative term for someone who's into handmade decor, but it escapes me and my computer searches are proving fruitless.  Anywho that's why I think putting in an embroidered monogram makes sense.

2) A do-it-yourself blanket ladder
I could spend a small fortune purchasing one online, but it's not really that hard to make one.  Basically this is because I cannot part with some handmade baby quilts that various relatives made for when the boys were babies.  And in true minimalistic fashion I cannot bare the thought of keeping something in the back of a closet or storage forever. My children are also not old enough to appreciate the pieces to display in their own homes or use so why not turn it into a display piece for now?

Originally I considered hanging them on the walls, but then there are many blankets and we would be back to hanging something on every.single.wall.  But then this hit me and I thought that this would work better.

3) More embroidery pieces
My kitchen is going to have a coffee/ tea theme to it and most likely I will end up putting up some embroidered pieces along those lines, but I haven't truly set up the kitchen so this one is still up in the air.

I'm a little willy nilly about books. Interesting subjects are bound to come up and I'll find myself checking out books from the library to immerse myself in information or someone will suggest a book online and I'll find myself wanting to read along.  So here is the list of books I'd like to read for myself this year most definately.

1) Dostoyevsky's The Idiot-
This one my husband read in highschool and loved so much that he saved the book.  He wanted to donate it, but I saved it because I've never read it.  In fact I've never read anything by Dostoyevsky.  I know; I know.  I attribute this to my poor public school education that emphasized reading British and American literature and practically nothing else.  This year I plan to make amends.

2) Re-read the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien-
It's been a while.  I need to do are re-read.  Nuff said.

3) Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska-
It was on my mental read list last year, but I never got around to it.  I think it will be great for Lent this year as part of my rededication to the Divine Mercy of Jesus.

4) Divine Mercy for Moms-
This one I think I'll read after the Diary probably for Easter reading.

So dear reader, what are your plans for this year? Any new projects?  Any good books I should be looking into?  Thanks!