...the Life and Times of Karolyn Lewis.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Those Public School Kids...

My kids were finally introduced to Public School at the end of last school year.  Until then, I've either home-schooled or they've gone to private.  Why the change?  Well, we're in a recession and private school ain't free; and I pretty much stink at home-schooling; and I don't want my kids to grow up stupid.  So there ya go.  Public School!

We've been waiting for the ball to drop and our kids to come home corrupt.  We knew it would happen eventually... the cocoon I've wrapped them tightly into will one day start to crack and open and all the evils of the world will be made known.  If you say I've kept my kids too sheltered and over-protected, I'll consider that a great compliment and hug you-- seriously, I will (unless you're not a hugger and then I'll give you a high 5!).   Anyway, we knew it would happen one day...

Zeb, my super-cool 5th grader, came home from school the other day and our conversation went like this:

Zeb: I had a cupcake today.
Me:  Really?  Who's birthday?
Zeb:  Tyler's.
Me:  Was it good.
Zeb:  Yes, mam. It was a mini-cupcake.
Me:  How many did you eat?
Zeb:  Oh, we just got one.
Me:  Hmph, that's kinda cheap.  

(OK, so I should have kept that one to myself, I know, but I don't think I was the only one who thought this. Keep reading...)

Zeb:  Oh, Mama, someone cussed Tyler today.  The birthday Tyler.
Me:  Really?  What'd they say?
Zeb:  Well I didn't hear it, but it was the F-word.
Me:  WHAT?!!  They said WHAT?!!
Zeb:  They said the f-word.
Me:  Tell me-- NO!- spell me the f-word.
Zeb:  Oh, mama, it's the f-word:  H-E-L-L.
Me:  (Huge exhale) Wouldn't that be the H word?
Zeb:  Mama, each letter of the alphabet has a bad word assigned to it.  And I can't keep them all straight, but I'm pretty sure the f word is H-E-L-L.
Me:  Ok, well, from now on, let's just call that the H word, seeing that it starts with an H.  

You know, I'm glad to know that his cocoon is still somewhat in tact.  After all, I was in 3rd grade when I discovered what the f word was (and in case you're in the dark, it's not H-E-L-L).  Third Grade!!  That's awfully young to know such an awful word.   I went to a k-12 school in Alabama. One night, a couple of kids-and-cans-of-spray-paint decorated the campus and gave us all an education.  Innocence lost, just like that!

  When my kids finally emerge from their cocoons, and I know they will, my earnest prayer is that they rise above.  I'm praying that as they look down on the corruption, they will not allow themselves to be tainted by it.  I'm praying they'll choose good over bad, right over wrong, life over death, love over hate, and holiness over sin.  I'm praying they'll make good decisions and that they'll purpose in their hearts to honor God.  

I'll leave you with a verse I've prayed many times...

All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace.
Isaiah 54:13

Father, Thank you for my children!  Bless them in their innocence.  Continue to protect and guard their little hearts and minds.  Teach them and increase their peace. Amen and Amen!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Around the Table week 4

This week was pretty disappointing in the cooking department.  Although we've eaten together every night this week, with the exception of Friday and Saturday nights, I didn't cook very much.  So here it is...  our week in review:

Sunday:  Leftovers from Saturday night
Monday:  More leftovers (we cooked way too much chicken and steak)

Tuesday:  Rotisserie chicken (yep, I'm sick of chicken ), baked potato, spinach salad

Wednesday:  Leftover chicken and whatever else was left in the fridge.

Thursday:  Fried Backstrap, Rice and onion gravy, and Green beans.

Friday: The girls and I were at a party and the boys got take-out.

Saturday:  Zeb and I went on a date.  We ate Popcorn and Nerds for dinner.  I'm not sure what Lee did with the other three, but I'm sure it was a lot healthier than what Zeb and I ate.  


I'm pretty disappointed in myself this week, but no-one went hungry, we spent time around the table,  and we didn't waste much; so it wasn't a colossal failure .  I know we'll have weeks like this, and I need to be okay with that.  

I'll leave you with a great way to cook green beans... a favorite for my family!  I think this is a Paula Dean recipe.

Fancy Green Beans

Cook frozen, long green beans in water in a frying pan.  

Drain most of the water when done.  

Add in 1/2 stick of butter, around 1/4 cup honey, and 1/4 cup teriyaki.  Simmer for about 15 minutes and enjoy!

You can also add in chopped cashews and it's wonderful.  Yumm-O!

When Goodwill Surprises You

I go to Goodwill, but I have to say I'm not a big fan.  I prefer resale over retail any day, but there aren't that many options in my neck of the woods... so Goodwill, it is.  My biggest gripe is that they are way too expensive.  Seriously!  Have YOU ever looked at their clothes?  A solid white tee for $4?  A man's button-down for $6?  I expect these prices on retail sale racks, but not at second hand stores.  After all, this stuff given to them.  For FREE.  Pay it forward, pass it on...

Now I've heard that Goodwill does really good things for the community, specifically by employing  those with disabilities.  I frequent our local branch and often visit the 5 or 6 stores in a neighboring city, and have rarely seen evidence of this.  Maybe they donate a large percentage to organizations who help the less fortunate.  Let's hope so, because, seriously, they are bringin' in the smack. 

One area where Goodwill is a bit better is with furniture.  Sometimes.  I bought a wonderful couch for around $40 about 8 months ago.  


It was in really good condition and the colors are amazing.  Orange!!  Who knew?

That was a great deal.  $40 well spent.  

I also picked up this iron table a few years ago for around the same price.  I covered the seats with a white vinyl and I love the cream and white combo.

This chair was a $5 find...

As was this one...

Although I've had the chairs a few years, I just bought this footed bowl a few days ago. Since I love white, Milk Glass is a favorite.  And it's fairly cheap and easy to find.  This large bowl  was $6.  

So, in spite of my griping about Goodwill, I do go there and there is evidence all over my house.  

Well, a friend called me the other day and pretty much said, "Go to Goodwill and buy this couch for your tv room."  She knew I needed one.  

I went and, let me tell you, she wasn't whistlin' Dixie.  

I was floored!  This was a new couch.  A full sleeper sofa.  From Havertys!  The cushions were perfect.  Under the cushions... perfect.  Not a speck of dirt, dust, or hair.  My father has the same, exact couch, minus the sleeper, in his study.  It's a great couch.  Bigger than a love seat, but not huge.  Perfect!

"How much?"  


I had a short conversation with myself- in my brain.  It went something like this:

"$189!!!  That's ridiculous!  This is Goodwill.  They got this for free," cried Cheap-O Karolyn.
"But this is a great couch. It's worth three times that amount," countered Practical Karolyn.
"Errr....Goodwill is too expensive," whined Cheap-O.
"If you don't buy this, someone else will.  It's worth it and your kids are sitting on the floor in the TV room,"  declared Practical.
"You're right.  You win.  Buy it."

"I'll take it!"  

And it was a great buy, for sure.  I found out from my sleuth-like google skills that the couch is on sale right now for $899, but is regularly $999.  So here it is, my surprise of a good find at Goodwill...

I'm pretty sure I know how it ended up at Goodwill.  The sleeper portion of it is missing a few pieces.  I unrolled it to inspect the mattress (just to be safe, you know...  even the thought of a used mattress grosses me out) and found everything pristine.  When I tried to roll it back in, however, I couldn't make it go back.  Lee figured it out and told me it needed a few nuts and bolts and it'd be fine.  The interior joints aren't properly bolted and they slip.  I'm thinking the sleeper was a lemon, the buyers called, requested a new one, and this one was dropped off by the company after the new one was delivered.  

We don't need a sleeper sofa, but we'll fix it, anyway.  It'll be a nice place for the kids to stay when they have spend-the-night company, as they share rooms.   Without the sleeper, it would have probably been less than $100, but that's okay.  I know I got a great couch for a great deal and I'm thankful.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 30 Minute Toddler Skirt

I was super impressed with myself today and decided to share it!  So much for humility, right?  I made a skirt for Liliana (or some other cutesy little girl) in half an hour.  Trust me, it only takes about that long.  Most people will lie about how long a project takes (I have one skirt pattern that says it takes an hour...  um, try 3... if I'm lucky!), but I'm Honest Abe when it comes to this one!

I bought this cutesy patchwork shirt at a local thrift store.  I paid a whoppin' 50 cents.   And it has pearl snaps!!  Who doesn't LOVE pearl snaps?!!

Lay out a skirt you already have  to use as a pattern (or eyeball it), and cut one side and the top.

Fold that side over and use it as a guide for cutting the other side.  This makes it even(er).

This is what you end up with.  Notice that the top of mine is squared off a bit.  I shot for 2 inches because my elastic is 1" and I needed 2" to make the casing.  This shirt is bulky, so my lines aren't that straight.  Lots of seams and serge lines to cut through.  

Before doing anything else, you'll want to sew the front of the original shirt straight down the middle to keep it from unbuttoning.  This is important if you don't want your little chica showing her little tushie to Little Johnny on accident.  You could sew down both sides of the buttons if you'd like.  

Now put your right sides together, pin, and sew along the 2 long edges.  

Because I am using the existing hem, I finished the bottom inch of the interior seams with a zig-zag stitch.  I'll serge the rest of each seam.  

Also, serge around the waist before making your casing.  Or fold under 1/4 inch, iron, fold again and sew a seam before making the casing.  If you don't know how to make a casing google it.  It's not hard at all.  Run elastic through, sew the gap, and you're done!  I'm realizing this isn't a very good tutorial.  I'll probably come back and edit it later.  

Now for the "Let's Take Pictures of What Mommy Just Made" shoot!!!  Liliana loves this part.  She likes to do crazy poses and say silly "grown up" things.  Like "Hey, Beh-beh!" and "Ohh, la, la..."  and "Dahhhh-ling."

This time, she brought her own props.  Seriously.

We posed...

And posed some more.  

Then I asked her to remove the hat and feathers...

... and she insisted on saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  Gone were the cute poses.  No bother, though.  The ensemble took a dive after the hat and feathers were ditched, anyway.  But the Pledge?  Hmmm...

I love pairing the Polka Dots with the Patchwork!!  Too cute if I do say so...

I also picked these boots up at the same thrift store.  $2 well spent!!  The soles were jet black and without a scratch.  I love a good find!

Speaking of good finds... Great day at Goodwill today!!  Hope to share tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Work Hard for My Money... So Hard for My Money

After being a full-time stay-at-home-mom for over 10 years, it's time I start thinkin' about earnin' my keep around here!  All my kiddos are in school and I actually have a bit of free time on my hands.  It feels... wonderful!  

In the last six months, Lee and I have talked quite a bit about me getting a money-paying job.  Managing the house and four kids is WORK- no doubt!- but the pay pretty much stinks.  After much soul-searching, we've decided that working outside of the home is pretty much not an option for me right now.  I want to be available 24/7 for my kids and my husband.  And, darn-it, I want to enjoy the quiet around here!

A friend of mine and I have decided to start making and selling children's apparel.  We are really excited about the possibility of extra income while doing something we love... at HOME!  More to come later on our little venture...  it's going to be fun, fun!!

I've been hard at work in my studio cranking out things to have for our first show.  I'm now calling the sewing room my Studio.  Why?  Because that's what all the professionals call their sewing rooms.  And it I like the sound of it.  I wish I had a picture of Lee's face when I called it that earlier... he looked at me like I was a certified nut!  But I'm stickin' with it... because I can. 

I'll share a couple things I have ready right now... and available for order...

My Tutu Cute Seminole Skirt!  This skirt is size 4/6 and will probably have a shirt tomorrow (although a white tee would look just fine).  In addition to the sparkly tulle, you'll find topstitching and serged interior seams. 

I am out of this particular hem fabric, but have another garnet fabric that will look just as lovely.  

Pictured above is a the FSU Game Day Set!  This particular is a sz 4/6 with an adjustable waist.  Target brand jeans (new with tags) and new, Faded Glory tee.  I have several other sizes of jeans (all new with tags) available for order. 

Below is a close-up of the ruffle.  It turned out very nice.  Notice the topstitching and double hem stitch.  Nice touches that add to the quality.  

Keep me in mind when it starts cooling off (it will, eventually) around here...  Those last season jeans that are a few inches too short can easily be chopped and ruffled for a small fee-- much cheaper than buying a new pair.  I have plenty of cute-cute fabric that would look wonderful with solid tops.

More to come... 

Happy Day to all...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Around the Table week 3

Lots and lots of yummy food this week!  Kudos to Lee for doing a good bit of the cooking.  We had friends over after church on Sunday and decided to do hamburgers with all the trimmings.  Check out that tray of beautiful fixins!  We also had Baked Beans (pictured below) and Crack Dip (Thankyou, Michelle!).  Crack dip is my drug of choice.  It's fairly easy to eat it until you pass out.

I decided to float sliced onions on top of the beans while cooking and they were excellent!!  They looked like roses and tasted like Heaven.  

This is my plate...  I sliced my burger in two long ways so I could get it all in my mouth.  Mmmm...

Monday:  Kings Pie (aka: Shepherds Pie) and Spinach Salad

Tuesday:  Blackened, Stuffed Redfish, Spinach Salad, and leftover sides.

Zeb caught this Red Fish on Saturday and it fed us twice!  Good job, Zebby!

Wednesday:  Leftover King's Pie

Thursday:  Blackened, Stuffed Fish,  Broccoli,  Spinach Salad

We had unexpected company so this was a fun meal...  They walked in to a lightly smokey kitchen, a lot of noise, and a really good meal.  We had just enough and it was even better than it was early in the week.  

Here's a close-up of the fish after it had been stuffed and broiled. 

Friday:  Date Night!!!!  Fun, but nothing could touch the blackened fish earlier in the week so eating out was just okay.  

Saturday:  Steak, Chicken, Alfredo with Pasta and a Spinach Salad.   This was Henry's first time eating Alfredo and he LOVED it!  I think he wears it well. 

I tried a new cup-cake on Friday and they were sooo good!!  I gave most away, but stuck 6 in my fridge for the weekend.  They were barely cool when the phone rang and someone wanted them... and I was happy to oblige.  This is a gourmet, filled, Snicker-Doodle Cupcake.  It has a zillion calories, but is worth every one of them.  Remember, if you're gonna eat something fattening, make sure it's good!!

My kids are really good eaters.  I take full credit for that.  They eat Spinach Salad most every night.  Do they want to eat their salad?  Half of them don't, but do anyway.  Boy, the benefits of being a Mom!  People do what I say.  At least 4 little ones.  

Hope you are sharing good food, good stories, and good times Around the Table!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A darn good day!

Yes, I know I'm on blog overload-- two in one day!  Truth is, my day's been too good not to share.  So, in lightening-quick mode, I'm gonna share with you about my awesome day.  It's been a long time since one day has been sooo fun!

1.  Henry started school.  Did great.
2.  Michal went to the dentist.  He discounted my bill by $85-- out of the blue!!
3.  Scored big @ Goodwill... pics below.
4.  Made a great batch of cupcakes and a friend dropped by to taste-test.
5.  Made a few people smile by doling out said cupcakes.
6.  Had TWO impromptu, easy to fill cupcake orders... everything was already done.  Cha-ching!
7.  Opened my mailbox to find this...

I never dreamed I'd get a coconut in the mail.  And, yes, it did fit in the mailbox.  My crazy as ever friends, the Gargaglianos, have yet again made my day!  I'll smile for a week! 

I will proudly display my coconut-postcard in a prominent place in our humble abode.  It will never cease to crack me up!

 Two great sets of glasses from Goodwill joined the family today (the tall was a set of 8 for $9 and the short was a set of 4 for $2.50).  I'm diggin' both of them, but my prize is this awesome, new-with-tags Target quilt (with 2 shams!) for $25.  I'm so painting the master bedroom grey.  Maybe tomorrow. 

The sitter just walked in the door... I'm off with the greatest guy in the world...  

Henry and Other News...

Today was the day for Henry!!  He is super-duper excited about starting school.  And to be fair (which is harder and harder these days) we had to do another First Day photo shoot.  Isn't he just the cutest thing ever?!!  And just in case there's any doubt, Henry does NOT have 2 right feet.   Thank you, Zeb, for taking care of that on the ride to school!

Henry is just so darn happy!  Zeb is ready to leave.  Michal is being maternal. Liliana is a bit miffed that I won't take her picture by herself so she can adequately pose.  

Almost there...  

Henry will love his new teacher.  She taught Liliana last year and is wonderful with the kids.

Lili-girl won't let Henry call this his school without putting up a fuss.  She says it's still her school and it always will be, because she was born first.  


Speaking of Henry...  Yesterday the phone rang and he answered it.  A few minutes later, he ran into my room.  The conversation went like this:

Henry:  Mama, People want to sleep with you.
Me:  Say again?
Henry:  People want to sleep with you.
Me:  People want to sleep withe me?
Henry:  Mm Hm
Me: (light bulb!) Oh, people want to speak to me!
Henry:  Yes! 1 people.  1 people want to sleep with you.  

Needless to say, the 1 people had been hung up on.  A phone manner seminar is in the near future.  


I scored big on a spontaneous trip to Goodwill this morning.  Can't wait to post my buys.

And I have a hot date tonight!  A day to myself and a night with my boyfriend... how lucky can a girl get!  (Lee, you will always give me butterflies and forever be the best boyfriend I've ever had!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Woooo Hooooooo!!!!!

Can I tell you how much I just love Public School?  Until recently, my kids had never been to Public School and let me tell you...  it is the BEST THING EVER!  

I was stressed out as a homeschooling mom.  Between the adoption, travel, teaching, and trying to do everything good mamas are supposed to do,  I was a bonified mess!  I was seriously considering drowning myself.  That was a joke.  I never considered suicide, but I did contemplate picking up a substance abuse addiction.  Just something simple, like cocaine. Or heroin. 

Thankfully, I'm as clean as ever.  And it's all because of Public School.  

So in celebration of the First Day, here's a sneak peak of our morning...

Liliana is now in Kindergarten.  I teared up a bit at Open House, but I was just fine this morning.  Probably too fine.

This is my beautiful Michal.  She's in 4th grade this year, and was a bit nervous.  Like a true girl, her newest worry is what she's going to wear tomorrow.  

This strapping young man is Zeb, and boy does he love it when I take his picture (note the sarcasm).  Zeb is in 5th grade this year and although he works hard to hide it, he's pretty darn excited!

And then there was Henry!!  Roaring-to-go-Henry!  

Henry's school starts tomorrow.  He'll be going all day, three days a week.  Hidden meaning: I'll have 3 days a week to myself.  If you listen closely you'll hear the Hallelujah Chorus!  

What will I do with myself?  Anything I want!!!

How cute is that...  notice Henry leading the way.

I had to have a shot of my beautiful mama with my beautiful babies.  She is so excited to finally have ALL of her grandkids at her school (with 2 more to come in the future).

Have I told you lately how much I LOVE this man?!  

We are all very happy that Michal is in Ms. Brown's class....

...and that Liliana is in Ms. Corrigan's.  

Zeb would have died before taking a picture with his teacher, 
but I'm super happy with his placement, as well.

Lili was a little sheepish this morning...

... and a little confused during the announcements.  Where the heck is that voice coming from?!  

Want to know what a bathroom looks like when 6 people have 45 minutes to get up, showered, fed, and out the door?  Now you know.  If I would have known it would look like this I would have taken a before picture.  We are so setting the alarm tonight!

Order restored!  This is what the bathroom normally looks like.  And yes, Lili-girl is usually in there brushing her hair or putting on make-up.  She is already dressed for school tomorrow (from the waist down... I peeled the top off of her despite cries of resistance).