Saturday, April 26, 2014

Did I Mention That I Play Jarts?

When I was kid growing up in Illinois my family had a set of Jarts.  These were all the rage back then.  A Jarts set consisted of two blue and two red dart like projectiles that were tossed back and forth into yellow hoops by either two players or teams of two players each.  We would play against each other in the backyard on hot summer nights usually after a barbecue dinner cooked out on the grill and eaten on our picnic table with all the summer flies buzzing around.  It was a lot of fun and I have so many treasured memories of playing this game with my family.  Later, lawn Jarts were banned for production in the U.S. because of the danger involved. As with all pointy sharp things you have to practice some serious caution.

These days when my family gets together for vacations or reunions we have a Jarts Tournament.  We even have our very own Jarts Championship Belt that gets passed around to the current champion.  It stayed with us for many years when my husband was the reigning champ but at present it's hanging with much pride in my brother's garage.  

You can't purchase Jarts sets any longer and because they're banned here in the U.S. you can't sell them either.  We have several vintage sets in our family.  And if you marry into our family you'll get your very own vintage set for a wedding present and his and hers matching Jarts shirts with your names on them. 

Lawn Jarts are a great picnic game and Jarts tournaments are perfect for family reunions.  But like horseshoes and darts you have to keep the kids away from the playing field.  We only have the adults play in our family.  You can have the kids play games like Ladder Ball or Corn Hole Toss, which are much safer. 

No matter what you play keep safety first in mind at all times.  But do go outside with your kids and play!  Put away the electronic devices for the afternoon and have a picnic and play some backyard games together.  Or go to the beach and fly some kites!  Just go out and do something together that creates both fun and memories! The family that plays together stays together!

It's fun to have matching Jarts shirts for everyone at your family reunion. Make sure and stop by Vintage Jarts for some fun t-shirts and gifts! 
Just follow this link! Vintage_Jarts


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Did I Mention That I Eat Healthy?

Did I mention that I eat healthy?  I do.  I once had a serious addiction to Co-Ca-Cola and Choc-O-lat.  I would even have a Coke with breakfast.  I know, I know ...  not good. Then I heard a doctor say that if there was one thing that a person could change to make themselves healthier it was to give up sodas.  It wasn't easy but I did it.  I went through withdrawals with headaches and everything.  I will still sometimes allow myself a Coke for a treat for my birthday dinner or on a holiday. Do you wanna know what I found out by doing that?  If I drink a regular Coke with high fructose corn syrup I immediately want another Coke.  However, if I drink "mexican" Coke or Coke blessed by the rabbi for Passover I can drink just one and be okay.  The difference is that "mexican" Coke has the original sugar added in instead of  High Fructose Corn Syrup and the Coke for passover can't contain corn products so it also uses the original sugar formula. (That was a tip given to me by my Jewish dentist.) High Fructose Corn Syrup is addictive.  I can prove it to you. Make the following recipe and try to eat just one bar.

Bits Of Whimsy Bars
1/2 cup Karo syrup
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
3 cups Special K cereal
6 oz. pkg semi sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. pkg butterscotch chips

Heat the syrup and sugar until the boiling point.  Add in the peanut butter and cereal. Mix and press in a 9X12 pan.  Melt the chips. Spread over mixture and cool.  

Let me know if you can eat just one!  Or let me know if you ate the whole pan!

I've tried several healthy diets over the years. I've tried a raw food diet.  That's a hard lifestyle to commit to; especially since I had an aversion to vegetables to begin with.  But I did it for almost two years. After awhile you actually crave veggies and you feel amazing!  I've also tried juicing.  For me juicing was easy to do.  I steered clear of the fruit juices and stuck with the green juices.  Again, I felt amazing.  Your body literally  hums!  Now I basically eat clean.  I choose organic fruits and veggies.  Or at least I always get organic for the following ... apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers.  That's referred to as The Dirty Dozen list.  And I eat from the bottom of the food chain.  I take algae and I eat fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, meat and eggs.  If it comes in a box or a bag I seldom eat it.  And if I fall off the wagon  (Christmas, Thanksgiving or my birthday) I can tell an immediate difference in my body.  My body will feel sluggish and every little ache and pain will present itself.  You really are what you eat!

I'm always on the lookout for good healthy snacks.  I just came across this in a magazine and I put in my first order.  It looks delicious.  I invite you to try it along with me.  After you try the Bits Of Whimsy Bars above you'll need something healthy! 

If you use the above link you'll get your first and fifth boxes free! I can't wait to try my first box!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Did I Mention That I Quilt?

As a little girl I grew up surrounded by quilts that my grandmother made.  They kept me toasty warm in the winter and yet nice and cool in the summer.  The secret to that magic was in all those loving stitches and, I suspect, the breathable cotton batting layered inside. A quilt is a work of art and a labor of love.  And if you're lucky enough to possess an old scrap quilt ... it's also a remarkable history stitched onto fabric.

One of my most treasured memories is sitting at my grandma's kitchen table surrounded by scraps of colorful fabrics while she and my mom and my aunts decided which scrap went with what scrap. The end result was always a gorgeous array of fabrics stitched into a quilt that told a story when I would snuggle beneath it and look at each patch.  One patch would be from the material that my grandma had used to make her kitchen curtains with, another purple patch would be from the dress that she had made to wear to church and the orange flowered patch was from the short set that she had made me for summer.  Each patch was a scrap from something that she had lovingly made for one of us.  To this day I can sit there and still remember where all those tiny scraps of fabric came from and still feel all the love stitched into those quilts.

The first quilt that my grandma gave me I used on my bed until I was married and by that time it was in tatters and I'm talking serious tatters, long strips that would wrap around me as I tossed and turned in my sleep.  I just wasn't willing to pack it away because I cherished it so much.  When my husband found it wrapped around my neck one morning he put his foot down and I tucked it away tatters and all into my old toy chest where I stored all my most precious possessions from my childhood.  Now I have a beautiful armoire where I store all my quilts.  I periodically take them out and refold them as any quilt that you store should be refolded now and then so that the creases are in different places to protect the fabric from damage.  You can also tuck a cedar block in with them.  Whenever I'm in the guest room I'll open up the armoire door and spend a moment or two with my quilts.  My grandma has long since passed away, yet the memory of her remains in those quilts, her love still firmly stitched in, to cover us with blessings when we use them to sleep with or to snuggle with on the couch.

When I got married my husband brought with him two quilts passed down from his family.  One was an heirloom quilt from generations past and quite striking in its beauty.  Our living room at that time had twenty foot ceilings and I decided to mount the quilt and hang it up as a work of art behind our couch.  Through the many years of use the batting of that quilt had stretched so that one bottom corner hung much longer than the other.  To straighten it I had to use dozens of stick pins that I patiently hammered into the wall to gently lift the one side up so that it hung straight across along the bottom.  Every time we repainted the house I had to take it down and then painstakingly pin it back up in place.  It hung there on our wall for almost thirty years and you can imagine the damage the sun did to it as it was next to a wall of glass.  I know you're not supposed to treat heirloom quilts that way, you should instead do your best to preserve and protect them, but we had thirty years to enjoy that work of beauty on our wall before we finally moved do a different home and took it down and it was worth it. 

When I was pregnant with my son I had a lady who owned a quilt shop in Miami Beach make a baby quilt for the wall over his crib. She called her quilt The Sleeping Bear quilt and was in the process of teaching a class on how to make it with my quilt as the example. The quilt top had been sewn together for the class but she had not yet quilted it to the batting and back so she would take it with her wherever she went in order to work on it so that it would be finished in time for my son's birth.  My son had his own plans, however, and came four months early. He weighed only one pound, ten ounces. He spent the next four months in the NICU and when he came home his quilt was ready and up on the wall.

When my son was in school I got my first Keepsake Quilting catalog in the mail and I absolutely fell in love. I must have looked through those pages a hundred times or more.  It brought back so many loving memories of watching my grandma make her quilts and I was suddenly filled with the desire to quilt something myself.  I ordered a "how to quilt" book and a quilt kit that included the pattern for a Lotus Blossom quilt and all the material to make it. Then every day I would sit in car line at my son's school and stitch together all the pieces by hand.  I was a purist.  I didn't want to use my sewing machine.  I wanted to do the entire quilt by hand.  Stubborn me.  It took me about a year but when it was done I was very proud of my efforts and hung it in our entrance way.  I went on to make many more quilts either of my own design or from a pattern.  I also have an appliqu├ęd quilt in progress with a few of the patches done but I've yet to finish it.     

I hope someday that my family will cherish my quilts as I love and cherish my grandmother's.  Sometimes I think that sewing has become a lost art.  We no longer learn how to cook and sew in school these days and our favorite hobbies usually involve technology and anything with immediate gratification.  We don't always stop to teach our children the joy that comes as a reward from patiently working on a craft.  My world moves much faster than my grandmother's did.  And my son's will move much faster than mine. Yet if you look at my grandma's world she was up from dawn to dusk working hard; baking bread, cooking meals from scratch, canning fruits and vegetables from their garden, washing clothes through a wringer and yet she found the time to put something of beauty and craftsmanship into her world with her quilts.  And yet we, with all of our technological advances, should have more time in our day to get things done and still have some time left over for ourselves and yet somehow we don't.  We should take a lesson from my grandmother's generation and remember to always find the time for activities and crafts that put beauty and love into our lives.  I challenge you to pick up a needle and thread and stitch some love into your world. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Did I Mention That I'm A Barefoot Wench At Heart?

I went to my first Renaissance Festival today and I fell in love.  Who knew, I’m a barefoot wench at heart!  Now if I can just talk my hubbie into dressing up as a pirate rogue in leathers and jerkin we could go back to the fair again, only this time in character.  After all, my husband’s already dark and swarthy, so he only needs an earring to pull that pirate look off.   Today, however, he wore his German soccer jersey and his blue Crocs.  Medieval?  Hmm … not so much.

So, on to the food!  I had a bread bowl filled with stew whilst I watched the jousting.  T’was tasty.  And I had an ice cold root beer float as I stood there baking in the sun listening to the minstrels play.  Did they have root beer floats back in the day?  I didn’t think to question it since my float was cool and refreshing and I was neither of those things at the time.  And then I finished it all off with a brownie from the Monk’s Bakery.  Chocolate and a prayer!  You can’t beat that!

On to the jousting!  I must admit I didn’t think I’d be impressed with the jousting.  But impressed I was, just as soon as that first horse came stampeding by, what with the handsome knight in the clanging armor atop it and all.  Blame it on the fresh air, blame it on the brownie, blame it on something, but what’s a fair maiden to do when a knight in oh so shiny armor charges by?  Well, swooning’s out of the question since we were, after all, sitting on the top bleacher and that’s a fairly long drop.   Oh well, be still my heart!

Then as we left the jousting fields we came across a slip of a fairy sitting on a toadstool.  She didn’t say a word but all the same she bespelled the small children who came up to see her by giving them shy smiles and shiny stones.  She was entirely enchanting!

Oh, and I almost forgot.  My husband almost, not quite, won a dragon for me in the crossbow shoot.  But “almost” doesn’t get the dragon does it?  ‘Cause I don’t see a dragon!  Do you see a dragon?  'Cause if there was a dragon you sure as heck would see the picture of my purple stuffed dragon right beneath this paragraph in my blog!  And it was such a lovely shade of purple too. (smile)  Trust me, he’ll do better next time we go when he’s all decked out in his pirate garb!  Yo! Ho! Ho! And a dragon to go!

So, all in all, I had a magical time and I can’t wait to go again!  I’ve got my wish list all prepared!  Another root beer float, a bejeweled flask, a hand thrown pot, some sparkly fairy wings and an oh so shiny knight in clanging armor!  Oh, and let’s not forget the Monk’s brownie with the prayer ... because with all that clanging armor in the back seat I might just need that prayer on the ride home!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Did I Mention That I Believe In aLiEnS? (Part Two)

Well, I do ... believe that is, in aLiEnS, and they seem to follow me everywhere!  But then aLiEnS ARE everywhere and they're watching us!  Which is why I made an aLiEn barcode.  Just put this barcode on a bumper sticker, mug, greeting card, skateboard or whatnot (and I sell a lot of whatnots) (not too many skateboards but lots and lots of whatnots) and the aLiEnS will be able to scan you and beam you right up!  An extremely useful item in your arsenal of extremely useful items!

And they do watch us!  All the time!  Take for instance my most popular aLiEn design on this stamp. By the way these come in extremely handy for intergalactic mail and the US Post Office accepts them also!  These aLiEnS are definitely watching YOU!

They're also into celebrating!  This is one of my best selling Christmas designs!  Go figure!  Bah Humbug!

So, relax, have a cup of coffee!  You're probably safe from aLiEnS!  Chances are you'll never see one!
But then again ... you just never know!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Did I mention that I believe in aLiEnS?

I don't know why that freaks people out so!  I have tiny aLiEnS all over my house.  Doesn't everyone?

It all started 23 years ago when my two year old son woke up from his afternoon nap and told me all about his dream as he snuggled on my lap.  It seems that the person we thought was my younger brother was in fact an aLiEn and that my real brother, his uncle, was alive and well and living on a far away planet. They had been switched at birth!  Well, this explained a lot!  And if you knew my brother you'd understand why!  We've had little visitations ever since that long ago nap!

Here's one of my earliest illustrations of our little friends!  Just to clue you in ... aLiEnS have bedfrogs instead of bedbugs!

Don't Let The Bedfrogs Bite! print
Don't Let The Bedfrogs Bite! by BitsOfWhimsy

And here's a photo I shot of the aLiEnS dancing on stage at my niece's recital. As the lights dimmed they appeared out of nowhere and the crowd was thrilled as they danced on their toes and then, just like that, disappeared into the night!

Here's a poster entitled, aLiEn In My Water Cup!  I entered this poster in a Zazzle contest in 2008. To the amazement of myself and all of the other participants in the contest it took first place.  The first photo is untouched and shows the aLiEn that appeared out of nowhere in my water cup as I was brushing my teeth!  The second shot was digitally enhanced to better show the aLiEn and the third photo is a close up of his face.

Here's another award winning design! This also took first place in a Zazzle contest.  You can imagine my dismay when my fellow participants thought this photo was a fake!  Doesn't everyone have aLiEnS frolicking in their morning Fruit Loops? 


And finally, here's the 2010 aLiEn Calendar! This calendar first made its debut in 2008. It's my best selling calender. Keep in mind ... aLiEnS are everywhere and they're watching us!
The 2010 aLiEn Calendar! calendar

I'm not entirely sure what a blog is!

It's true!  I'm not entirely sure what a blog is!  Or even how people will find it once I put it up!  And why, oh why, does anyone want to know what I have to say?  About anything?  Or everything? Hmmmm ...
But in this day and age a blog's the thing!  Blog! Blog! Blog!  So, here I am!  And here you are!  Hey, who are you anyway?  And what the heck are you doing on my blog?  Hmmmm ...
I'll figure this out.  Someday.  Maybe even soon.  But right now I'm joyfully occupied which means I'm outta here!  See you later gator!