Monday, December 21, 2009

Suck it, Santa!

Ah, Christmas...the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Savior. You knew that, right? I'm just asking because some guy in a big red suit came and f***ed it all up. Sure, he had good intentions. Bring presents to the children of the world, thus spreading joy, blah blah blah. But I have to say...Santa sucks. Here's are a few of my reasons:

1) Why can't Santa pick a different day to come every year? Every kid knows Santa comes on Dec. 25. They spend the entire week leading up to Christmas driving their parents nuts because they are so damned excited. If they don't know what day Christmas is, then we can avoid all of this.
2) Santa doesn't screen his elves well enough. You'd think with the Internet it would be easy to run a background check and contact references, but no. Seems any guy with a white beard will do nowadays. These elves don't even ask what the kids want for Christmas. It's just a picture and a piece of candy, then out the door they go. C'mon Santa. Get with the program. These elves are representing you and honestly, you're starting to look like a real dick.
3) Santa just doesn't think about how his toys are going to irritate parents. First, you have to open the damned boxes. Is it necessary to have so many twist ties, screws, and rubber bands holding them in the box? Then you finally get the boxes open and the toys have a zillion little pieces, play irritating music or make horrible messes. Let's stick with basics, Santa. I'm talking about balls, Jack-in-the-boxes, and baby dolls.

I just think if Santa is going to steal Christmas from Jesus, then he better get his shit in a bag. In today's times it's survival of the fittest. You never know when some new guy's going to come along and steal your glory. Just ask Jesus, and he could turn water into wine.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ho, ho, holy shit!

As if the holidays aren't crazy enough, God just has to add that other element in there...the unexpected. We all expect crowded malls, crazy relatives, and hyper children but no one ever expects the loss of a loved one or a job lay-off. In my case the unexpected apparently involves poop.
Today my daughter called me from the bathroom, "Mama, there's a string in my poop!" Lovely. I thought I was finished looking at her poop when she started wiping her own ass, but I guess not. When I looked in I was horrified. It looked like a 5-inch ribbon was intertwined in her poop. Gross? I know. Immediately I called the doctor. At the appointment they looked her over, then left and came back with what looked like a poop chemistry set. Different vials that I have to mix poop into and take to the lab for testing. Yay! And to top it all off, it has to stay refrigerated. So daughter's turd vial is all nestled in a coffee can, like a little Mr. Hanky, ready to spread holiday cheer right next to my condiments and leftovers.
Hopefully the rest of Christmas is nice, because it can't really get much worse than mixing turds like a mad poop scientist. Happy Holidays! Hopefully they are not as shitty as mine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Art

I think I've mentioned it before, but I am an artist. I loved art all growing up and so when it came time to choose a profession, I decided to become an art teacher. I loved my high school art teacher. She was the greatest lady and had a huge impact on a little girl who was constantly bullied. I wanted to be just like her, so I endured 5 years at Penn State and, when I graduated, I was ready to make that same kind of impact on someone else. Except that the job market for teachers in PA sucked and I couldn't get so much as an interview even though I excelled in college. Getting a teaching position in PA involves a lot of sucking up and usually nepotism. I am not good at sucking up and my family had no connections. I tried substitute teaching. I was good at it, so good that the schools didn't want to forfit me as substitute. Eventually I needed a more reliable job so I worked in daycare until hubby and I had our son. First chance I could get, I stayed home to take care of him. Then came baby #2. Now 11 yrs later I'm left with no qualifications or experience and the suckassedness starts all over again as I search for a job again. It started last year. Things were going pretty good. I needed to retake my certification tests. I passed the first 2, no problem. I was very surprised when I failed the 3rd test. Close, but no cigar. So I arranged to retake it. I was sure I aced it. I checked the computer and, BAM, was hit with another failure. Boo! But something looked wrong. I failed MISERABLY! I called the test-taking facility to tell them I thought there was a mistake. Nope, no mistake, they claimed. I knew in my heart I passed that test, so I paid the $55 for them to verify the test score. Sure enough....THEY HAD LOST PART OF MY TEST!! Turns out I ACED IT! I got everything straightened out, but not before the start of the new school year. So here I am, applying again. It sucks. And that's my sob story.

Here's some of my artwork, if anyone cares.

This was the first old painting I ever painted. I was in college.


My concentration in college was printmaking. This is a lithograph. I had really bad strep when the sketches for this print were due, so I could only draw something I could set up in my dorm room.


When we lived in OH I was obsessed with painting barns. This is my Grandma's farm.


I like feel good art. Nothing abstract or deeply meaningful. I like painting nature scenes.


I do commissions. This is my sister-in-law's cousin. She died in a car crash last year. I earned a $25 iTunes gift card for this little endeavor. I've done other commissions, too. One time I sketched a couple of golden retrievers at the Humane Society.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lucy the Dog

A few weeks ago we lost our beloved puppy Lucy. She was a great dog. We took her to get spayed and for some reason God took her from us. The vet said it was probably a bad reaction to the anesthesia. She made it through her surgery, but never woke up. We rushed to the vet clinic and were able to say goodbye before she took her final breath. It was very hard on the whole family. Today my son came home from school with a story he wrote about Lucy. I cried as I read it. Here it is:

Lucy was sweet. She bit me a lot, but I loved her. When she wanted to play she bit my Mom's pant leg. She kissed my face to wake me up. Lucy's ears stuck up, but we did not want them to. When I got off the bus she attacked my window trying to get me and when I got inside she attacked me with kisses. She was the best dog ever and no one can replace her.
P.S. I love you with all my heart still.



On Sunday we are going to get a new puppy named Rocky. I pray that God will keep him safe and that we will have him until he grows old.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

There is no hope for the world.

I've decided to change the theme of my blog. What once started as a blog to help people get off of their asses and learn something that will be of use to them in the world, has turned into another "piss and moan" blog. Lord knows, I have enough to bitch about. Right now I'm stuck in rural Louisville with no family or friends anywhere close to me. The people in this town (Shelbyville) are like some kind of zombie army of rednecks. They have no sense of humor and are not extrememly welcoming to outsiders. I suck at socializing with other moms because I, inevitably, piss someone off. I cannot involve myself in my church, because KY has NO Byzantine Catholic churches in the entire state. The one thing I find enjoyment in is gardening. Since we live right in front of my son's school I will often work in the gardens at the school.
So...since people really have no desire to learn how to cook or sew or do anything the least bit useful, then I will use my blog space to offer up my special brand of insanity. It sure beats talking to myself. And since I have been told that I am too wordy for Twitter, I can use my blog for all of my special rants.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lip Balm

We are entering the time of year when the air is so dry your feel like you could power a Smart car with all of the static electricity that has built up in your hair, and your skin is so dry you feel like you could easily be added to trail mix and no one would notice. Last year I discovered that you can make your own lip balm right in your kitchen. It is really easy and makes a lot. Once you have the ingredients, you can make enough lip balm to last a lifetime. Last year I used it every night before going to bed and every morning when I woke up and I doubt I had chapped lips one time. You see, as with everything else that is mass produced, the makers of lip balm add fragrances and fillers that dilute the ingredients that your lips need to stay hydrated. The lip balm recipe that I am about to share is the real deal. So here it is:

2 Tbsp. petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
1 tsp. beeswax (I bought mine by the ounce at a health food store or in the candlemaking section of the craft store.)

1) Melt the beeswax and petroleum jelly in a double boiler over low heat. I use a small saucepan with about an inch of boiling water in it, with a small mixing bowl on top (see picture*).

2) Mix ingredients thoroughly with a toothpick. At this point you can add several ingredients to enhance your lip balm. Here are a few examples:
*Essential oils: I like peppermint oil. It makes your lips tingly. Essentials oils can be found at most health food stores (Whole Foods Market).
*Color: You can add a little slice of your lipstick if you want your lip balm
to be colored, but don't expect to be able to notice it on your lips.
*Other stuff I can't categorize: I use a few drops of Vitamin E oil and Aloe Oil because they are supposed to be good for your skin. I don't know if it's true.
3) Pour your lip balm into containers. I found little containers at the craft store that are supposed to be used to hold leftover acrylic paint. They fit about 1 oz. I used 4. Make sure they are clean. I put them in boiling water for a few minutes before I fill them.

Yep, that's it. Pretty much it's just melting stuff. Hopefully this will be the year you don't suffer from chapped lips. If it is, you can thank me. :)

*Ignore the stained cooktop and old pot. I told you I was no Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts


My daughter just loves to cook. Of course she likes to bake cookies, pies and cakes, but she'll help with just about any task I give her. I jokingly call her my sous chef. One project she is especially fond of is making donuts. I'm not especially fond of mixing up a bowl of dough, so I thought it was just brilliant when my husband told me that his Pap used to make donuts using refrigerated biscuit dough. That's pure genius! You get yummy, "homemade" donuts and you don't even have to slave away in the kitchen. Here's how you do it:

Ingredients:

1 tube refrigerated homestyle biscuit dough (Don't get fancy on me, you just need the cheap stuff)
1/4 c. sugar
1 T cinnamon
enough shortening or oil to fill a small saucepan up about 1 in.
itty, bitty cookie cutter (This may require a trip to a specialty store. We use a little heart)

Directions:
1) Heat shortening or oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2) While oil is heating, use cookie cutter to cut out a hole in the center of each biscuit. Save the middles. They can be used to make donut holes. My kids actually fight over the donut holes.
3) Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
4) When a drop of water sizzles in the oil, then it is ready. Toss in your donuts. I usually fry the donut holes first. They need to be constantly turned so they turn a golden brown on all sides. The other donuts will need to be flipped after the first side has turned a golden brown.

5) Remove donuts from the oil and allow some of the excess oil to drain on a paper towel.
6) Toss donuts in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Use a spoon to make sure all sides are coated.

Sometimes we'll get fancy and, instead of coating them in cinnamon-sugar, we'll put icing on then and then add sprinkles. One time I mixed the seeds from a vanilla bean with sugar and made vanilla-sugar donuts. Be creative and have fun!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fabric Ghosts


This weekend the kids and I found ourselves at the fabric store. I went in for elastic, because our stupid Walmart decided to cut back on their sewing section, and came face-to-face with the true horror that is Halloween...tacky crafts.
In college I majored in art education. My professors spent years deprogramming us of the kind of holiday crafts we grew up making in elementary art class. You know, hand turkeys, paper snowflakes and bunny rabbits with cute little cotton ball tails? We learned how to teach art by focusing on technique, art history, criticism and aesthetics. There is simply no time in the curriculum for papier-mache ghosts. And yet, this is exactly what was standing before me...cute little ghosts made by soaking fabric in fabric stiffener. Oh no! Hurry up and pass them before the kids see them. Too late. "Awwww!! Mama look how cute. Can we make them? They have directions hanging up right here." Crap. So I ended buying the fabric stiffener. We made the ghosts and they ARE cute. So, as an art teacher, I'm absolutely horrified. As a Mom it was a fun activity to make with my kids. You should do it too. Here are the directions:

Supplies:
fabric stiffener
small balloons
scraps of white cloth or cheesecloth
cups
fishing line or thread
assorted craft items for decorating your ghost

Directions:
1) Dilute stiffener in a bowl using 50%water, 50% stiffener.
2) Blow up balloons, set them in cups for support.
3) Cut fabric so that, when draped over the balloons, it just reaches the table surface.
4) Place cloth in stiffener, covering the entire surface with the mixture. Wring out the fabric so that it is not dripping.
5) Drape fabric over the balloons.
6) Let fabric dry, then remove balloons and cups.
7) Decorate according to your tastes.
8) Place a knot on the end of a desired length of thread. Using a needle, pull thread through the top of the ghost starting inside the ghost.

You may want to work on a surface covered with newspaper, as this project can get pretty messy.

Have fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Turkey Stock

My in laws were visiting this weekend. I usually cook one meal for us to eat together. The other night we usually go out to eat. With a picky father-in-law and finicky kids, it is always a challenge to think of a meal that everyone will enjoy. This time I decided to roast a turkey breast.
Well, it turns out that the in laws left early this morning, so they missed my dinner. I figured since I had already bought the turkey, I would roast it anyway. It turned out very good. The leftover meat will inevitably become a turkey pot pie, but I'm still left with a carcass. Most people would toss it in the garbage, but since I am incredibly cheap, I like to take it one step further. Tomorrow I will submerse that bad boy in pot of water and turn it into turkey noodle soup. It's really not that hard. You just need to put the carcass in water until it is covered, then simmer it (covered) on the stove top for about an hour. I usually strain out all the crap that comes off of the turkey, then put the broth back into the pot with celery, onions, carrots, garlic and a few chicken bouillon cubes. Pick off all of the loose turkey meat from the carcass and throw that into the pot, too. After the vegetables are tender I add a few handfuls of noodles, then boil (uncovered) until the noodles are done. My kids love homemade soup. It will last them for days. If you leave out the noodles, you can even freeze the soup to use when someone comes down with a cold. Nothing like a nice bowl of homemade soup when you are sick.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gravy

For a short time, after moving to Cleveland, we lived with my Grandmother on her farm. She's a good cook. She makes a lot of home style cuisine. The kind of stuff you would expect from someone in their eighties...roast, pork chops, soups, etc. She also makes some traditional Ukrainian food...borscht (Google it, if you don't know), perogies, and cabbage rolls. One of the most important things I learned from her is how to make gravy. What most people don't realize is that gravy is easy to make. I guarantee once you learn how to make it you won't ever want to buy the canned stuff again.
Basically gravy is just butter, flour, broth and seasoning. Here's a basic recipe:
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 cup broth
salt and pepper to taste
All you do is melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour and simmer for a minute or so (see pic), then whisk in the broth. Let everything simmer until it thickens, stirring occasionally. Then add salt and pepper to taste. That's it. The end result...gravy that you will want to drink by the gallon.
For dinner we had Beef Stroganoff. I put stew meat and a can of beef broth in the crock pot in the morning, so that it had all day to simmer. At dinnertime I sauteed mushrooms and onions in butter, then added the flour. After it simmered for a minute, I added the strained broth from the crockpot. I also added some additional broth because I tripled the above recipe. Lastly, I threw in the meat from the crockpot. Voila! I served it over noodles with a dollop of sour cream.
Some days, when I feel really motivated, I will make my own broth to use. But that's another post.











Introduction




First an introduction: I'm a 34 year-old mother of two who lives in Louisville, but grew up in Pittsburgh. Thus the name "Hey Yinz! Make this..." I can be found on Twitter offering up my opinions on any number of issues, most of which I know nothing about. I decided to create a blog when I realized that PEOPLE CANNOT DO SHIT FOR THEMSELVES ANYMORE! No one gardens, cooks, sews, knits, crochets, fixes things, etc. Basically, people shop and eat. So, being a helpful person, I asked myself, "What the hell can I do about this?" The resulting answer...help people be more useful.


So you may be asking yourself, "What are this broad's qualifications?" Well, I don't really have any. I consider myself to be a Jack (or Jill, if you're like that) of all trades, master of none. I went to school to teach art, but have stayed home to take care of my kids for the past 5 or so years. During that time I have experimented with cooking, sewing, crafting, gardening, and just about anything you can think of (Not THAT!!). I guess it runs in the genes. My grandmother came from Ukraine. She knows how to make everything. For her it was kind of a necessity. She and my grandfather came to America after WWII and bought a farm in rural OH. My Dad was the oldest of 4. He grew up helping around the farm. He will try just about anything. I've seen him cut down trees, build an addition on the house, fix a car, etc. He's 63 years old and still going strong. My Mom is another story...although she does not appear to be extremely domestic, there was a time when she would sew us play shorts, make crafts and she always had dinner prepared when my Dad came home from work at 5:00. Her catch phrase is "Bite me!" so you can see where I got my personality.


In my blog I will be offering up little pieces of wisdom that I have learned over the years. I do not claim to offer the absolute correct way of doing some of the things that I will demonstrating, so if you want to learn things the right way, go watch Food Network or Martha Stewart.


I'll end by offering this advice: Get off your lazy ass and learn how to do something useful, because the economy sucks right now and you might just need to know some of this stuff in the event we are all left penniless.