Homemade Paper

Years ago, I made paper with my aunt. I can’t recall much of that day, but I do remember thinking how cool it was.

When we had set the paper out to dry, my aunt told me to leave it alone. Of course, I ignored her. I purposely stepped on one of the pages… and because I liked the squish under my feet, I stepped on all of them. When she asked if I had made the footprints, I denied it and blamed the dog. Skilled lying, I know. The evidence was there.

Years later, she gave me one of those footprint-ed pieces of paper. My aunt, the crafty pastor, was the one who officiated my wedding to Husband (formerly LoverMan). As a gift, we made our own paper to give to her. Pretty cute, huh?

Like I said, my memory is shit. I had to google and pinterest how to make paper. The instructions that I found were incredibly confusing and most didn’t have pictures. Nevertheless, I figured it out. And my gift to you is an inordinate number of photos.

I encourage you, dear reader, to try making some of your own. It’s a great bonding exercise for couples, families, or even friends. Or on your own, it doesn’t really matter–it’s fun!

So, here it is. The plain and simple “How To.”

Most of your necessary crap
Most of your necessary crap

What you need:

A bowl

A blender

Window screen

A small frame (to the size you want)

Tissue paper (for color… I used red)

A shit ton of white paper

A bucket

Water

Towels

Sponge (I used a dish one)

Okay. First thing’s first: take your screen and attach to the frame. You’ll also want another piece that’s about the same size. Check it out:

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Ta-daaaa!!!!

Next, Shred up your white paper. Honestly, a paper shredder would be easiest… but I don’t have one. So, I just used my hands. Naturally, my fingers ached. But I live life the hard way.

Shred up the tissue paper that you want. HINT: use the cheapest paper you can find. You don’t want that glossy crap… It won’t blend as well, if at all. Cheaper the better–music to my ears.

Then, throw all the paper into a bowl. Dump a bunch of water on it, enough to cover all the paper. Now, ignore it. You want to completely saturate the paper. I left mine overnight–totally overkill. (I just got lazy busy.)

This is how it should look
This is how it should look

Easy, peasy. Now, blend it up!! You may have to add extra water to the blender–it does NOT matter how much, just that you have enough to completely pulverize the paper. Pulp. We want pulp. (Think of orange juice! More pulp the better!! 😉 )

Remember that bucket that we gathered up? Yeah, now fill it with water. Don’t overfill!! It’s easiest if you only fill about 1/3rd of it.

Dump your paper pulp into the water bucket. (See, that extra water we added to the blender totally didn’t harm the process.)

Check it out.
Check it out.

This picture also shows our next step! We grab the frame-screen thingy. Use both hands… I had to take pictures, that’s why you can only see my right one. The next part isn’t tricky at all, it may just be a little difficult to describe. Bear with me.

Hold the frame-screen vertically. Dip it into the water. Slide it along the bottom of the bucket so that it’s now horizontal. SLOWLY lift the frame-screen up, again, horizontally.

Like so. Can ya see it?!
Like so. Can ya see it?!

Pull it completely out of the water…

So pretty. See that bright chunk? Yeah, that's glossy tissue paper. Just the WORST!
So pretty. See that bright chunk? Yeah, that’s glossy tissue paper. Just the WORST!

Also, you’ll probably want to clean up the edges. I just used my fingers to push the pulp off of the frame itself.

Then lay that extra screen sheet on top of our pulp-covered frame-screen.

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Do we really need this picture? Why not…

Carefully, you want to press on the paper-pulp sandwich to press out some of the water. Get as much out as you can now. But don’t worry, the next step continues to rid us of that pesky water. It’s just less messy while you’re still hanging out over the bucket.

Okay. You want to have a towel prepped: fold it up so that there are more layers to absorb water. Lay the frame and all on top of the towel.

Grab your sponge. You’re going to press the sponge to simultaneously soak up and push out water.

Squish, squish, squish
Squish, squish, squish

Done? Okay. Now, peel off the frame-screen. Next, carefully peel the paper off of the second screen. Lay the paper onto a toweled surface to dry!

IMG_1224As far as this second towel-act goes, it can be a paper towel or a bath towel. I don’t care. Just plop the towel down in the location that you want.

No picture. Do you really need a picture of paper drying??

Again, ignore it. Watch out for those pesky dogs–they may step on the paper! 😉

Depending on how well you pushed out the water, it may take from just a few hours to 12+ for the paper to dry.

Chances are, your paper will warp in the drying process. That’s OK!! It’s expected. Just put the sheets under a heavy surface. I used a stack of books. It flattens them out just fine.

Once dry… you’re done! That’s all! Sure, there are a lot of steps… but the whole process is stupid easy.

So purrrdy!
So purrrdy!

 

I figured that I’ll use these sheets for card making. One of these days I want to try and make a folded card… I’m not sure how yet.

I think what I will try is to press a line halfway down the paper to help fold it. You see, these pages are typically a little brittle.

Anyway, good luck! Let me know if you have any questions. And of course, share your results with me!! I want to see your beautiful paper too, my dear readers. 🙂

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This I Promise You

On Saturday, the 24th, I married my best friend. LoverMan became Husband. It was a beautiful, perfect day. Everything fell easily into place and the weather celebrated the day with us. I could not have asked for a better experience.

I can’t believe that it’s over now…and I’m terrified that I’m going to forget it. It really was the best day.

Sooo cliche, I know. Bear with me, because it’s going to get worse… but that man deserves it.

Since you, my beautiful readers, weren’t able to come to the Big Day, I shall share my words with you:

For all of the talking that i do, i don’t have the words to explain just how much you mean to me. And I can’t explain how I feel watching you with Gus. We have built a beautiful life together, and as we continue, I have a few promises to make:

I promise to always love you, even when you’re 65, smelly, and still playing Minecraft.

I promise to be a safe place for all of your secrets and vulnerabilities.

I promise to love you for you and not who I want you to be.

I promise to do my best to be kind.

I promise that as we raise our babies, I will put you first. Knowing that we are one is how they feel most loved.

I promise to love myself just as much as you love me.

And I will let you down from time to time, but I also promise that I will be the best partner to you that I can be.

I love you, Samuel.

And I can’t wait to see what life has in store for us.

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Love You Forever

As I watch my 2-year birthday boy sleep, I think about the last couple years…

The first night in the hospital, I didn’t send him off to the nursery until almost midnight. I didn’t want to miss a thing. I didn’t want to miss a single moment with him. I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible because one day he’ll be grown up and gone.

My heart was full.

I remember getting home from the hospital, exhausted and in pain. My family was taking turns holding him. Dripping in hormones, I remember bawling as I stood in the living room, “I just want to hold my baby.” Of course they gave him back to me. I can’t shake that feeling though—that feeling that all I want in the world is to hold the most precious thing I have. He was the only thing I wanted; the only thing that could make me feel better and whole.

My heart was full.

I remember a couple weeks later, when we had finally settled into our routine, I had put him to sleep in his crib. I walked back into my room and stared out the window with tears in my eyes. I knew what heartbreak felt like—an absolutely paralyzing pain. Now, I knew what heartache felt like—an absolutely paralyzing pain. I love him so much that it hurts.

My heart was full.

I have never experienced more love than as a mother. Of all the titles I have in my life, “mother” is the biggest, most defining, and most important of them all.

My heart is full.

It is full of watching him learn to sit, crawl, stand, walk, run. It is full of his first words and his first sentences. It is full of watching him dance and listening to him sing—the sweetest sounds I have ever heard. It is full of the books I have memorized as I read them over and over and over at his behest. It is full of the toys scattered around my house because he was playing. It is full of a little boy who wakes me up in the morning, tugging my blankets saying, “wake up…wake up, mama!” There is so much I am thankful for.


There have been so many good times. Some of the best moments of my life…but they certainly didn’t come easily. So, here’s the truth: mothers try and sometimes miss the mark. But we do our best with what we have.


I wish that I knew it was okay: When I held Gus for the first time, he was a screaming, purple, cheesy, cone-headed alien mess. When the doctor laid him in my arms for the first time, I remember thinking, “how am I ever going to love this baby?”

But, oh, if only I’d known just how much a heart can grow.

I used to be ashamed of myself for thinking that until I realized that not every woman has the perfect birthing story. Not every woman is a saint. That mothers fail. But, boy, do they try their best.

I wish that I knew that this was normal: When I struggled for the first few weeks with minimal attachment to Gus, because he was much like a stranger in my house. A crying, stinking, needy stranger. I felt wrong. Mothers are supposed to love their babies from that first glance. I had cringed. And even two weeks later, I struggle to attach to Gus.

But the secret is: this is normal. That baby IS a stranger. Those first few weeks aren’t meant to be easy. He is just as hesitant as you are. And this too, shall pass.

I wish that I knew that my best is enough: When I switched Gus from breast milk to formula, I felt like the worst mother on the planet.

But that baby was fed. Gus was full and happy.

I wish that I knew sooner that people will come if you call them: When I was ready to run away because I had a screaming baby who wouldn’t let me sleep at night and barely let me take a 5-minute shower…I couldn’t handle it. I was alone. Single, new mom.

But I forgot that it takes a village to raise a child. I had a support system a mile long and all I needed to do was ask.

I wish that I knew sooner to forgive myself: I’m not going to be there for everything. There are firsts that I missed. You may miss the first steps, like I did. You may miss the first word, like I did. You may miss all sorts of firsts. But, that does not make you a bad mother. That baby isn’t going to resent you for missing these things. That baby will remember that you were there for him when he needed you most. He will remember that you read him the same book 50 times in a row. He will remember that you played with him, that you spent time with him. He will remember a home full of love and acceptance.

I wish that I knew that I am just as important: I spent the first month after Gus was born focused on him. I showered when I could…which wasn’t very often. (Yuck, I know… but I was a new mom and my lack of hygiene was OK.) I forgot to eat. I forgot to take time just for me. It wasn’t until I was run into the ground and crying to my mother for help that I realized I needed to take care of myself.

Because I can’t take care of that baby if I don’t care for myself.


Today, I am much kinder to myself, but not always.

I feel like I’m drowning. I feel like I should be there with him all day, every day. Not only because he should have his mother at his disposal, but because I don’t want to miss anything.

He’s growing. He needs the social life of a toddler best found at daycare. He needs the independence. And I won’t always be there to hold him.

I feel like I’m failing him. I complain that I don’t spend enough time with him. But when I spend extended periods of time with just him, I go nuts. I feel so guilty. How can my daycare provider care for numerous toddlers that she isn’t biologically obligated to?!

Yet, I forgave myself. I make the time I have with him count. I take care of him financially. And I take care of him by taking care of my own mental health.

One day, he’s going to leave home. He’s going to go out into the world and make it so much more beautiful than it already is. He is going to love fiercely and fight honestly. I will not be capable of being any more proud of him.

So, today, I need to hold my little 2-year-old tight to my chest. I need to be thankful for the terrible-twos that he is in now… because they won’t last forever. I need to not look back nor look forward; I need to focus on brushing his teeth and scaring away the monsters.

And my heart is full.

A mother held her new baby and

very slowly rocked him back and forth,

back and forth, back and forth.

And while she held him, she sang:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.

-Robert Munsch

Picking Up The Pieces

Part I.

Duke.

They met in high school. The sneakings in-and-out. It was perfect. Him and her. The monogram bath towels were practically made. He taught her how to be in relationships, how to settle down. His will always be the nights on the ice skating rink, whirling around in circles faster and faster and faster, knowing that when she falls,

because she always does,

he will always be there to catch her.

And he was. Every time.

She let him hold her through the night, and when the time between 11:30 and i’m-not-strong-enough-to-do-this arrived, she walked. Leaving him standing there watching. Watching her spin and spin and spin away.
He will always love her. That’s his cross to bear.


Part II.

Christopher.

It was an accident. She swore that it was never meant to happen. But the movement of his body drew her. His walk. The assertive cocksure saunter of a wolf. She knew full well that this one didn’t play for keeps. He was too much for that. He played for laying sweaty between cotton sheets. He played for the highs and the adventure. And she chose to play his game. That wolfish grin that pulled her in.

He taught her one, simple thing.

He taught her passion.

Reckless, exploding passion.

To give in to impulsive urges. He taught her what it meant to feel the pull of the moon, to run wild into the night. And then he was gone. Accident. Complete happenstance.

She knows that she wont ever see him again.

She also knows that when twilight begins and the moon starts to rise, she won’t be able to help but think about him and his cocksure smile. And she won’t be able to stop herself from looking up at the moon and wondering just where he is now.

In another day, in another lifetime, they would have been great. They would have burned a hole in the night sky and let it consume each other, giving into the throws of passion, falling into each other.

He was always more of a Chris anyway.


Part III.

Boxer.

She would say he was a mistake. But then she remembers that she doesn’t really believe in mistakes… so she decided to call him a ‘lesson’.

Of all his shortcomings, Boxer did do one thing very well. He taught her that it’s okay to have fun. For a while, they were together, young, wild, & free. Boxer and her. Riding through the countryside, with her head in his lap. She knew full well that this was probably the wrong and dangerous road to travel but…. She missed that feeling of another lying in bed next to her at 2 am.

And she loved the thrill of it all.

of the wind blowing through her long hair, creating a tangled mess that would take far too long to brush through.

She was born for this. To live. But when all is said and done, the party has to end. At some point the night ends, too. Even for Cinderella.

When the fun is no longer a thrill and anxiety lurks around every corner. Because she loved her uniform more than him and he loved the bottle more than her.

But his will always be those long, summer nights that end far too soon. Feeling her heart beat, beat, beating against her ribcage, knowing that this, this, is what it feels like to live.


Part IV.

Cowboy.

He was all she ever thought she wanted.

Hey, mister tall-dark&handsome, wont you come dance with me?

That really should have been the end of it. She was too far gone in the fall of his hair, the expanse of his shoulders, and the look in his eyes that just taunted that there was something more.  He drew her in.

Stop.

And there it was. The word ‘baggage’. She just laughed, this was far too cliché. So, she did what every other woman does; she started to climb it.

She always had the feeling that she wouldn’t ever reach him. Except at the hours of i-really-should-be-in-bed and i-know-better-than-to-encourage-this-behavior. But she still felt the caress of his hand down her back, the fall of his arm on her side, his breath on her neck.

That’s all it was though, touch. Fingerprints give you a name, but never a person. She made it her project to fix him. She prodded, just trying to find the music box where he kept the shine in his eyes hidden.

She forgot so many things. And for that, she really should have known. Cowboy taught her that some battles can never be won.


Part V.

Dave.

Dave taught her that there are bad men in this world. Dave taught her that monsters aren’t under her bed–they’re outside. They’re out in the night, laying wait. So, Dave taught her to close the windows. To run around the entire house, first the main floor, then to the basement (because even those half windows could let him in). Then to the second floor.

Her mother taught her well–make sure the windows are closed before the storm. And lock them. Lock them up tight. But, she didn’t listen closely enough.

So now she locks them and watches the horsefly caught between the screen and glass flies fervently, knowing that there isn’t a way out. Or in, for that matter. She finds solace in that.

But that night, she didn’t lock the windows. Instead, she ran out into the night, dancing in the light of the moon. She wanted to feel young and free. She wanted to be daring. And that’s when she met Dave.

She should have been safer; she should have been smarter. She knew better than that. Dave didn’t listen. And she knows, that even if the windows were locked, he would have broken in anyway. So what use was it to fight?

Dave taught her to lock the windows up tight. Metaphorically, of course… but then again… men like Dave don’t use windows. They use doors. They break doors. The doors. The locks. The hinges. They break them down.

No.no.no.no. This isn’t happening. This isn’t real. This is the stuff of movies; the stories of other women. This doesn’t happen to her. No.no.no.no.

Dave.

Dave taught her that there are bad men in this world.

Very, very bad men.


Part VI.

Australia.

She met him lost in the middle of a hot, dry desert as she ran from the pain of the past… and she ran so fast and so hard. He was a beacon on hope. maybe he would finally erase the pain. Maybe in his arms, the trauma of her past would disappear and she could finally move on. Maybe she would feel secure again. Safe in her own skin.

When it came down to it, he didn’t understand. He was too in love with the mirror and the attention of women to notice her downward spiral.

ashes to ashes, we all fall down, down, down.

Between the self-medication and bids for attention, she began to destroy herself. Through the you’re-not-good-enoughs and the what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-yous, he all but finished her off.

Curled and alone on the floor, she cried as he closed the door behind him, she knew. Maybe the trauma won’t go away; maybe she won’t ever be able to move on; maybe safety is an illusion she’s not privy to.

Using and abusing was all she knew. And she was the biggest tool of all.

She was never meant to be this girl.

The wildfire girl she used to be had disappeared, left hiding in that room being held down months ago, whispering no.no.no.no. And no amount of men or booze would be enough to make that memory go away.

Australia taught her that healing couldn’t be found in the men who hold her. She’s not sure she can heal herself, but she would be damned if she didn’t try.


Part VII.

Drew.

Drew was never in the cards. He was just a guy. And she knew that, but she was lonely.

The world had quickly become dark and dangerous without a place for her. She struggled. The family she created in the desert was gone when the plane landed. Her childhood home was gone. And she sought anything that could make the pain go away for even a minute. Young and on the run, she lived in the bars, seeking solace in strange men and chemical concoctions.

Struggling to find her place in the world. Or make it go away. She didn’t care as long as she couldn’t feel.

And then she met Drew. More of a stranger than a friend, but beggars can’t be choosers and she needed a friend. Until the night when the bottles were emptied and the next morning tasted of regret. She ran from him, too.

But when that long forgotten night resulted in a pink strip, she came back. And she knew. She knew that this is what she was meant to do. But Drew wasn’t sure. He wasn’t ready. But that was okay with her.

She doesn’t hold it against him. In all reality, she thanks him. He didn’t teach her much, but he gave her the little boy who saved her life.


Part VII.

LoverMan.

They had met years before and spent two weeks together living in a world of their own creation. But when her pain and his damage became too much, she did just what she always does: she had ran…. and eventually, she ran right back to him.

He was there for her.

He was there for her after she met the wolf. He was there in the desert. He was there when the only thing holding her together was binge drinking and one-night stands. And he was there when she came home with a baby.

LoverMan accepted her again and again after all these years, experiences, and faults.

He was the one who made her feel safe, even with the knowledge that the world is a dangerous place. When the light of the world was gone, when the magic dulled, LoverMan brought it back. He reminded her of the beauty in the night, watching the stars shoot across the skies and wishing together on every one.

He gave her the strength to trust in herself.

And she knew. She knew that in all her running, in all her adventures, that this is where she belonged. She knew that LoverMan was the father that baby boy deserved.

So, when he asked, she said yes.

She now feels whole, safe, and secure. Knowing that the creatures that go bump in the night are old memories and that she can trust herself again. She knows that she can’t find comfort in others, but they can help. She knows that the best way to care for others is to care for her. She knows that of all her mistakes lessons, her son is the best one. And she knows that she is worthy.

She knows that she is a good person who deserves to be happy.
And she is.

Salted Pumpkin Seeds

It’s still October… and that means I’m still obsessed with pumpkins! I had saved the seeds from our carving pumpkins to roast them.

People seem to be hesitant to roast their owns seeds. Oh, but if only they knew how stupid easy it is… All you need: pumpkin seeds, water, salt, and olive oil. Boom.

Right off the bat, you need to separate the seeds from the pulp—this may take quite a while, but it is completely worth it. You don’t want pieces of the pumpkin meat cooking with your seeds. Take your time.

just gorgeous!
just gorgeous!

Rinse those bad boys off. Then, in a medium size pot, fire up some water, salt, and the seeds. We want them to heat up to a boil and them simmer for 10 minutes. Easy, right?

I had a picture, but it sucked. So, no picture. But boiling seeds really isn’t rocket surgery.

Drain out the water. DO NOT RINSE! Otherwise you’re washing all that delicious salt off. Sadness.

before beautification
before beautification

Dump your olive oil onto the baking sheet. Plop your seeds on the pan. Swirl around to coat the seeds with oil. Finally, spread the seeds out into a single layer.

Bake at 400°F for 5-20 minutes—depending on the size of the seeds. You want to see some golden-brownness going on in there. BUT don’t let them get too dark… or you will have burnt them to a crisp. Trust me.

after beautification
after beautification

Remove them from the oven. Immediately sprinkle a just a little more salt on top of the seeds. If I did this over again, I think I would bake them just a little bit longer. That’s just my preference, though.

OMG.
OMG.

Voila! You have yourself a delicious, mildly healthy snack!

BONUS: You can make Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds, too! Instead of salt, use sugar. Then when you’re rolling your beautiful seeds around in the oil, sprinkle cinnamon and let that join the party. Continue Mission from there!


Confession time… mine totally sucked. BUT I know why! I didn’t cook them long enough. The were not crunchy. They were sad. I would have put them in the oven again to cook some more. But when I went to go make my pizza a couple hours later, I ended up with an oven fire…. so… that happened. ANYWAY, I don’t want my failure to cause hesitance in your culinary exploration. The recipe works. I’ve made it before. However, this time, dear readers, I sucked monkey butt.

Not Your Mama’s Cookies

These are my absolute favorite cookies—and I’m not a huge fan of cookies! LoverMan and I made pumpkin cookies a few entries back. While those were okay… these are far and away SO much better.

I must admit though, that I’ve also heard these cookies called “monster cookies”. However, I’ve never had a cookie quite like this. Bonus: they’re super easy to make. You don’t need 7 different bowls! Just one. SO, I finally weaseled the recipe and decided the love needed to be share. Without further adieu, I present to you…

Not Your Mama’s Cookies

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Here are all your supplies! 🙂

First, cream butter & the sugars. Add vanilla & eggs. Mix it all up nice and good.

Look at that beautiful KitchenAid mixer!!
Look at that beautiful KitchenAid mixer!!

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Combine that with the mixture.

We don't want normal rolled oats.... we want this fine, ground powder.
We don’t want normal rolled oats…. we want this fine, ground powder.

Now, for the important parts: finely grind the oats. A traditional food processor, magic bullet, ninja shredder, coffee grinder… pick your poison. I used our ninja…the appliance…not LoverMan 😉

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Add those bad boys into the cookie gloop. Time for the fun!! Fold in the chocolate chips and mini M&Ms. This part is up to you: how much of each you desire. I prefer a little more of our multi-colored friends than boring (albeit delicious) chocolate chips.

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Scoop of the dough—I use a tablespoon to measure. Drop them on our phenomenal parchment paper. Put them in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. (I cooked them for 12.)

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Perfect. Let them set on the paper for a few minutes. Then shovel them onto a cookie rack to finish cooling.

Even when they’re cooled, the middle with be moist and delicious. I will warn you now that if you decide to share, you’ll need to make a double or triple batch so there’s enough to go around!

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UPDATE: 25 Books Before 25

Reviews were promised and I keep my word. Recall that these are my Bucket List Books. Click on the link to read the full list of books. Feel free to share any of YOUR thoughts!


  1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggsmissperegrine_334x518Face paced and interesting, Randsom Riggs’ first novel captures the reader’s attention from the beginning. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children explores the world of Jacob Portman and the secrets his grandfather left behind. Discovering an new old world, Jacob quickly becomes caught up in a battle of epic proportions. Riggs’ simple writing allows for readers of all ages and stages to share in this spellbinding tale of Peculiar Children.

VERDICT: Should read


2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

MTI4ODM2MDQ1NjYzMDI5MjU4I must confess: I haven’t finished this one. It’s pretty dense. I’ve been working on it for over 2 months and can’t seem to ‘get into’ it. Wild chronicles Strayed’s journey through herself & her demons as well as hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Lost on the trail, Strayed found herself again. While very interesting, the book reads at a medium pace. Personally, maintaining interest in this book has been an issue. In the mean time, I have re-shelved this book with the hope to return to it later in the year. Perhaps I will be more receptive of its prose.

VERDICT: Maybe read


TO BE CONTINUED…