Friday, September 9, 2016

The fun thing about having an overactive brain is that I now know a lot of random stuff

Since I don’t sleep much, I watch a ton of videos on Netflix and YouTube. Kind of like setting a crazy toddler down for some good ol’ Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse, they zone out to the shiny on the screen and you get a break. Since I’m more of a non-fiction kind of person, How It’s Made-type shows, PBS documentaries and other generally ‘boring’ educational docs are what I seek out to let my brain unclick from the world. This has result in a lot of random acquired knowledge over the years.

Backstory: I started thinking my very-varied knowledge base when a lady called me out at Farmer’s last week. Something along the lines of “you really do know a lot of random stuff!” I don’t think this was meant as a complement. Granted, the conversations I was having with other vendors were Folk Arts related, my main field of study outside of school, but it still caught me off guard. It is a lot of random. While I’ll nerd-out frequently with co-workers and the assorted knowledge also lets me do my jobs well, I’m getting better at simply keeping it to myself until specifically asked for help on a topic. I’m moving past the phase of wanting my freak show brain on full display.

It’s personally frustrating too, my brain simply doesn’t stop. It’s all running scenarios, solving problems, making seventeen layers worth of plans for projects or goals and generally running a muck. As entertaining as this is to picture the anarchy, normal sleep or even rest is difficult to maintain. 

Whenever I start to wake up, my brain is already going 0-to-60 before I even open my eyes. Four hours of sleep in a row is pretty good for me, while setting an alarm clock for nine hours in advance is depressing because I know I’ll only be able to get a fraction of that as actual sleep. So that random knowledge is great but it’s not easy on a person to acquire it.

Mostly though, people can think what they want or get grumpy with me but they need to realize that where your energy gets put is where you will grow the most. With any gift comes sacrifices, I just choose to make my sacrifices into a gift instead of a problem.

Squirrel brain evidence, Exhibit A: hello, 3 a.m. blog post.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Embarrassingly late

 Autumn is near and it’s time for a catch up of sorts. A year-and-a-bit later I do have a proper teaching position for the new school year. I am very much is the middle of jumping stones figuring out my new position, a new curriculum for the school and what it means to finally be teaching as a ‘real’ teacher so the blog post will still be very light.

On the crafting front, the store has moved into a brand new location. We are over 5 years old and will be celebrating one year at our new location very soon. I also now have a business partner who has been amazingly patient with all the transitions. Paper and Yarn, the Etsy shop, is on hold until closer to the holidays so we can focus on the brick/mortar. We’ll have some very cute surprises for the that update. Don’t worry though, the regular merchandise will still be there including a new batch of hand dyes and stitch markers for fall season. Canal Town Soaps is still going as well with a nice local following.

So that’s where things are currently, I hope this post finds you well.
- katkoe

Monday, April 27, 2015

Upward Motion

Predictions were correct. Accelerated grad school were a killer this year. I wouldn't trade the experiences from my classroom for anything, don't get me wrong, I learned so much by running the trenches.

The problem wasn't my kiddos or classroom it was the simple math of three jobs and going months without being creative because 4-5 hours of sleep a night was more important... it worked until my brain simply refused to think anymore. A skewed type of writer's block crept in, my brain's way of say enough is enough. The cruelest thing is I can write but after thousands of words not get anywhere. I had to just give up for a little bit and clock out until my mind let me have fluid thoughts again.

I knew the solution, create, and give my poor brain a reprieve but knitting and my other usually outlets weren't happening for me either. So I zoned out watching you tube videos, as one does when the brain meats don't want to cooperate, until something sparked.

Fridge and I ordered a bunch of ingredients, waited three weeks to get them and then went to town all without setting the kitchen on fire. * yay! * Canal Town Soaps the brand was born about a month later at 4:00 a.m. one weekend morning. My helper isn't so sure about the name but I liked the history wrapped in it so we went with it.

I'm not completely back in the swing of things but now that the end of school is in sight, and a little creative juices have brewed out I'm getting ready to get back on the knit/crochet wagon again with 'paper and yarn', the I-75 Yarn Crawl and a few more surprises before summer is through.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Henry the Sheep Digital Downloads: Banners

New Banner Downloads from my sweetie peas featuring Henry the sheep in an array of color options!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Pattern! One Hour Photo: Baby Hat

Introducing One Hour Photo, a very quick and silly adorable baby hat that is perfect for newborn and older baby photos. Sized for newborn and 3-9 months.

The pattern uses chunky or super bulky yarn and is available through or my original etsy shop My Sweetie Peas.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pool Noodle DIY Play Food Fruit Salad and Steak!

So here is what about 5-bucks worth of fun looks like.

Pictured are Dollar Tree plastic cake plates that look like real china plates ($1 for 6), small crystal-ish plastic bowls ($1 for 4) that are actually really nice and some fancy 12 ounce cups ($1 for 12). All the tableware was in the same area as their other themed tableware sets. Also pictured are two pool noodle parts (used about half of one orange flower shape and half of one blue round pool noodle) and one red kick board aka boogie board that is about 1" thick and wave shaped.

A serrated steak knife works well to cut the foam down to size. Scissors work for cleaning up corners or for really small pieces. This is a glue free project.

Next trip to D.T. I plan on picking up a yellow and green pool noodle to make pineapple and kiwi chunks for the 'fruit salad' (pictured below). All the foam components come from U.S. manufacturers which is cool.

The drinks are made by cutting one 5-6 inch section of pool noodle, filling in the middle with an extra scrap chunk of noodle and then slipping them into the cups (one small segment is plenty to fill the hole).

The blue 'ice cubes' were made by slicing a 1 inch section from a round noodle, laying it flat and cutting the slice into four pieces. Each piece is 1/2 a semi-circle.

The 'steak' and 'watermelon' chunks came from the flat parts of the boogie board. I used a brown Sharpie to trace the shape of the T-bone and white nail polish to fill in the bone and fatty parts. The Sharpie also worked well to draw in lines on the 'orange' segments and seeds on the 'watermelon'.

We also cut a long, flat strip of foam boogie board into triangles for watermelon wedges with one green painted edge for the rind. They are about 5 inches tall which works well with our set of dishes.

The segments of citrus fruit were cut from 3/4 inch slices of a flower-shaped pool noodle. Each slice was then placed flat on the cutting board and divided into 5 individual petals or chunks. The kids used thinner slices of flowers to garnish the fancy fruit drinks they made.

We took a 6" segment of flower pool noodle and cut it long ways down into five long, individual petal sections, then cut each of these tall-skinny sections into about 4 or 5 carrot sticks per petal. A yellow noodle could be used for french fries or a green noodle could be used for celery sticks.

'Raspberries' can be made by cutting small chunks of foam and gently skinny the slick outer edge of the foam with a knife to expose the courser inside before using a sharpy to highlight the texture. Be careful with this step. The foam is pretty wobbly, so go easy and tread carefully.

Overall I think we will use more pool noodles in the future to make more pretend play food. The foam is a really easy material to manage. We have a good amount left over to make more foods or drinks with. The coloring and cutting activity keep everyone busy for over an hour. They really got into complying different food combinations too.

Next time I would skip the painting of the watermelon rinds as it was really messy waiting for the paint to dry and just glue some green felt on the edge of the triangle or color the edge with a green market to avoid the messy-factor all together.

Craft safe!
- Kat

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chicken Livers and Bread

I've been cooking and baking up a storm again. Today's menu included chicken thighs using BBQ shake n' bake, chicken livers, smashed-together apple pie filling tart (pie crust was all broken so we made one big, open faced rectangular tart instead of turnovers) and homemade bread.

It's an odd assortment to be sure but it all turned out yummy!

There was going to be a photo of the finished chicken livers but somebody in the house (cough, cough... husband) ate all the food off my presentation plate while I turned my back to put the bread in the oven. grr.

Here's the recipe anyways:

Pint container of Chicken Livers (no gizzards)

3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Cumin
1.5 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Lawry's Seasoning Salt

Plus this stuff:
Digital kitchen thermometer 
10-12" Skillet or flat bottom pan
Corn Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter for cooking with

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, warm up enough Corn Oil to almost coat the entire bottom of the pan.

Mix dredge ingredients together on a paper plate. 

While the pan is heating, use tongs to remove individual chicken livers from their container into the coating mix. I usually prepare several in the time it takes the skillet to heat up all the way then add them one-at-a-time once ready to cook.

Once all livers are in the skillet or pan, add butter into the center and carefully swish around so each piece gets some butter on it.

Continue to flip the livers ever few minutes until uniformly crispy. Livers are done when an inserted thermometer reads at least 165 degrees. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

I did manage to snap a photo of my fresh bread, before it also disappeared...

Not too bad for a first-go-around

Pinterest link to the 5 Minute Bread recipe I used:

Amazon Links: