I POSTED AN AD FOR A BABYSITTER ON CRAIGSLIST for $10 an hour

I POSTED AN AD FOR A BABYSITTER ON CRAIGSLIST for $10 an hour

When you have children, lots of things change. The biggest thing, for me, has been my thinking. You start to value certain things more—like your time and your freedom. But this has a ripple effect; you start to value your money, your food and all your resources even more.

I think it’s because, as a mother, you’re working much, much harder than ever before. You’re doing ALL the clean-up, housework, diapers, baths, laundry, grocery shopping (maybe with a couple exceptions), bedtimes, meals and meal clean-up (don’t even get me started) and middle-of-the night feedings.

If you are lucky and privileged enough to get a babysitter or childcare worker to watch your children a couple times a month, it’s just heavenly. You can take a break from all the constant chaos that assaults your reasoning faculties—even if it’s just for a few hours.

Additionally, you’re probably looking for more educational opportunities. You know how detrimental– how disadvantageous it is to have gaps on your resume! And there’s lots of proof to back this up.

As a SAHM, you want to find ways to stay afloat in the career world once your children are in all-day school. Boring, repetitive labor makes you want to do less of it. Once you get the opportunity to do ANYTHING ELSE, you really can sink into it, value it and fully appreciate it.

You realize that your precious life is being replaced by labor. It dawns on you how valuable time is—how valuable your time is. Children are important treasures; no one ever said otherwise. Until robot children make their grand entrance, children really are our future, so I agree, we all should be investing in them!

But…it’s all the drudgery and clean-up that makes the situation different. Sure, there are some people who are quite fine with ignoring all the messes and letting them build-up for years in their homes while they instill Shakespearian prose and Euclidian geometry into their young one’s minds, but I’m not one of them. I can’t think when everything is in disarray.

We have moved a few times in the past couple years—from Washington state, To Europe, back to Oregon and now Alaska. I haven’t been able to make friends or establish a social community. I’m not part of a church. And, let me repeat, I don’t have friends in my city.

My Mother, a fervent Fundamentalist Christian whom I love dearly suggested that I “Join a church and I would meet nice ladies who would offer to help out with the childcare.”
But then I imagined having to explain myself: “So, what drew you to our church?” Me: “Oh, I’m not at all religious or a church-goer—I just joined for the free childcare”. You know how that would go–they would all embrace me non-judgmentally and welcome me into the fold without trying to convert me, or not.

The only solution I could summon was to look for a babysitter online. I needed someone for 3-8 hours each week–max and I couldn’t guarantee a set schedule. And what did I do? I first looked on Facebook but couldn’t find much there. In fact, what I did find on Facebook were TONS OF MOTHERS IN MY COMMUNITY LOOKING FOR CHILDCARE AND BABYSITTERS. Not exactly helpful.

I absolutely didn’t want to start an account like Care.com. You have to pay a monthly fee just to get in touch with possible caregivers/babysitters. And, I’ve heard they make it difficult to terminate your account. Not only that, but you’re going to pay a ton for the average sitter that you find. Some of them are asking for $15 to $20 an hour.

I’ve become a bit of a free market capitalist over the past few years. The free market is a better place to go even when finding something like a babysitter. You are probably just as competent to check references and “get a reliable candidate” as anyone else—you might even be pickier in the selection process. After all, they’re your children, you won’t be taking any chances.

WHAT DID I DO?

I posted an ad on Craigslist. Craigslist is free and super easy to use. At this point, you’re probably thinking I’m insane. “What? You posted an ad on Craigslist for a babysitter?” Yes. Yes I did.

But this didn’t happen without spending some time to think about what I was doing. Do people do this? Has anyone else thought about doing this before? I started by perusing Craigslist ads. I wanted to get acquainted with the market.

I only found one Mom who had thought of my idea to post an ad on craigslist. She was looking for someone to babysit her 3 young children. In her ad she said that she was a Christian mother willing to pay $10 an hour and expected all 3 of her little children all in diapers (because she had a set of baby twins and a 2 year old) to be taken care of as well as the bathrooms cleaned once a week and the house kept clean. She wanted a resume, 3 professional references and (obviously) to meet up first in a public venue for an interview.

I thought her ad was a bit over-the-top. What cretin would accept only $10 an hour to babysit 3 children, clean bathrooms and maintain a clean house? That’s like asking for a caregiver and a janitor ALL IN ONE—for only $10 bucks an hour. Would anyone do this? Taking care of young children and keeping things clean is an overwhelming amount of work.

For a week I thought about her ad. What a greedy BIT—um, person. If I post an ad, I won’t be greedy. I’ll say, “I’m giving you $14 an hour to take care of 2 children and you don’t have to do any cleaning.”

But I kept thinking about this woman’s ad. It was a very bold. After a while it began to dawn on me. What if she wasn’t (necessarily) greedy but just understood economics better than I did? I realized that when you post an ad its probably better to start at a LOWER hourly rate than a HIGHER one.

You want to test the market—see if anyone responds. If no one responds to the ad, there’s your answer: you’re low-balling and no one will be interested in the offer. That is, there is no one in the market who will don their services for the price you’re offering. Alternatively, if you offer too much $$ you’ll be slammed with responses. Sorting through them will be a labor in itself.

I decided to start with a very simple ad for a babysitter: “I Will pay $10 an hour for a babysitter. If interested, please contact me and we can plan on meeting at a public location for an interview.”

Once I posted the ad, all hell broke loose

I received an overwhelming number of interested candidates. I had no idea SO many people were looking for work. I received a surprising number of male candidates which I promptly dismissed.

I only respond to female candidate because I tend to trust them more around my children.

I wanted to zero in on the best candidates, so I looked at female candidates with resumes, references and descriptions of what kind of childcare experience they had. I kept these in my inbox and thought about it for a few days.

I had my first interview with a lady whom we’ll call Molly. I met her at Barnes and Nobel. She was there right on time with her resume and references in hand and pressed and polished for our meeting. It felt very odd being the one to “hire” someone.

I thought she was a good fit until I learned that she didn’t have a car and would depend on public transport. The bus stop closest to our house was over 3 miles away. So anytime she babysat, I would have to pick her up from the bus stop. We both decided that she wasn’t a good fit.

I few days later, after being slammed by yet more interested candidates, I met with another young lady at a coffee shop. She was very sweet, professional and ready for the interview. She, too, had references and a resume. After our meeting, I knew she was the one. It’s just one of those gut feelings. I would still go and check up on her references before I decided to have her start.

Would I Recommend Finding A Babysitter on Craigslist?

Absolutely!

All you have to do is:

1. Meet any/all your prospective candidates at a public venue before you decide to exchange phone numbers or even emails.

2. Have your candidate come with a printed resume and a printed list of references. You will also come with your own 6th sense, intuition and brain as you interview your candidate.

3. Always ask your candidate if they have reliable transportation.

4. Ask your candidate about the last place they worked, how long they have been looking for work and if they plan to find other jobs in the meantime (I was only looking for a few hours of sitting each week, so I encourage my candidate to continue to look for work and that “I would work around her schedule”)

5. After you’ve met your candidate and you think you have a possible fit, go home and check references and review the resume with your husband/significant other.

6. Interview at least 2-3 of the best candidates you come across. You want to get an idea of the different kinds of personalities out there and which ones might work best with your children.

7. Have your preferred candidate come over to your house for a test-run. Let them babysit your children for 1 hour, maybe 2 (at most!). You can even be in another room in the house working on another project while she babysits.

8. Ask your children what they thought about the new babysitter.

We found a terrific candidate (FOR FREE) using this process! Craigslist is free. Care.com is not. You’re going to be much more selective for your children than ANYONE ELSE.
We found an amazing babysitter who is real Alaskan—3rd generation—not some recent transplant like ourselves. Her father is a native fisherman and she even brings us FREE seafood—crab, halibut and salmon.

We are so lucky to have found her! She is the ultimate baby whisperer.

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If you use the method I’ve delineated above, you won’t have trouble finding a good, reliable babysitter.

What did I learn from my Craigslist Post?

The major thing I learned from my post was that there are TONS of people willing to work for $10 an hour. LOTS. I can’t emphasize this enough. If I had advertised the position for $14 an hour, my computer would have blown up, truly.

I learned that you trust your intuition when reading through all the (anonymous) craigslist email responses. Only respond to the few that seem to stand out as “good” and “honest” candidates. In addition to a resume, references and a cover letter, my babysitter went to the trouble to send a link to her personal Facebook page so that I could get to know her and see her activities there. She came across as very transparent and honest.

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I Reupholstered An Accent Chair with MY MODERN MAJESTIC DESIGN (SEWING INVOLVED!)

I Reupholstered An Accent Chair with MY MODERN MAJESTIC DESIGN (SEWING INVOLVED!)

After two glasses of Port I think I’m a bit uninhibited and so I’m blogging again….You have two options: A. Leave or B. Forgive me

I keep mentioning that I’m going to reupholster old chairs I got at a flea market in Germany.

A couple years ago I bought BOTH of these lovely button tufted accent chairs for $70 at the American Ramstein Airforce base. What a terrific deal! As you can see here, chairs of this nature are not cheap: I was told that they were airport seats from France circa 1960. Waaaait whaattt? French airport seats from 1960?!? I fell in love.

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But the vinyl has started to break down in places and become very dingy–even spray paint would not fix it :(.  Be careful when spray painting vinyl, it can leave a sticky, (nearly) permanent residue as it binds to the material. The particle board underneath the vinyl was literally starting to crumble apart.

 

I decided to embark upon another reupholstery venture, at least for one of the chairs. This time, it would be more challenging as I would need to sew the vinyl covers for the chairs. I would also need to cut out new pieces of wood to affix to the foam (thanks Dad!); particle board doesn’t last forever.

Make sure to cut off all the vinyl pieces neatly so that you can re-use them as your pattern. I decided to use a bunch of extra blue vinyl left from my previous chair project that you can see here.

 

Cut out your new vinyl using your old vinyl as a template. I’m just using vinyl scraps that I had from my previous project (so I didn’t purchase any new materials for this project).

It turns out that sewing coverings for chairs is akin to sewing clothes. Sewing the sides of the chair is almost like sewing sleeves. NOT FUN:

I want to be honest. This was one of the most difficult sewing tasks I’ve yet attempted. YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO MAKE A PIECE OF MATERIAL FIT SNUGLY TO SOMETHING ELSE? At one point I started to re-do my project. I decided to add in a couple stripes of another color of vinyl (teal) to my chair to give it a bit of flair:

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I won’t bore you with the details–this chair was a REAL struggle. Finished results are here:

It’s the chair with the book perched on top of it. It offers some exquisite modern beauty to our living room: I’m so proud of my striped vinyl design–all from scraps!

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And what to do with some of the extra scraps of vinyl lying around? Attempt to make a purse, of course!

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Yes! I still need to reupholster the other chair. To be continued…

We have a big paint job coming up and I will share the details for that too. All of those salmon colored walls in our living room? We’re turning them white.

 

 

 

 

 

I Reupholstered Our Dining Chairs With KID FRIENDLY Vinyl (2nd time!!)

I Reupholstered Our Dining Chairs With KID FRIENDLY Vinyl (2nd time!!)

Before our big move to Alaska, I was busy reupholstering our dining room chairs. I wanted to finally share the results!

I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t you already reupholster those chairs a couple years ago?” Yes! I’m still working with the same chairs.

You remember when I bought these (pseudo?!) Chippendale lovelies for only $20 euros a piece at a little flea market in Germany? (That’s right, I got 4 of these CHAIRS FOR ONLY 80 Euros!). If you go to your local Pier 1 Imports, you’ll be spending a minimum of $100-$120 PER CHAIR, so I think I got a good deal.

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Remember I decided to reupholster them so I removed the cushions from the chairs and tore off the old fabric.

I reupholstered all 4 chairs with this black and white striped IKEA fabric:

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Sensational results, I thought. They looked rather striking with our table here. By the way, I got this solid mango wood table on sale for 250 euros at Mobel Martin (in Kaiserslautern, Germany).

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But sadly as physics would have it, all things are subject to entropy.

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So, once again, two years later, I removed the fabric and decided on different material. How about vinyl? It’s easy to wipe off spills and is far less penetrable than cloth fabric.

I was able to buy a roll of vinyl (4 1/2 yards I think), for around $40 bucks at Joann’s Fabric. Remember to bring in your 50% off coupon for one item to get that price– otherwise you’ll be spending around $80 for that amount.

I chose blue vinyl, regular $14.99 per yard (but half off with my coupon).

Removing old material is usually pretty easy. Just use a pair of needle nose pliers and a little flat head screwdriver. (I broke 2 in the process). Yank off the old fabric and use it as your template for cutting out your new piece of fabric that will cover the chair. When cutting the new fabric, make sure you cut a bigger piece than your previous piece. You want lots of material to work with in order to get it just right.

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Just lay the piece of cut vinyl on top of the seat cushion and tape around the underside of the seat first, positioning it in place (not shown here, sorry). Next, use your staple gun and start pulling the fabric nice and tight as you staple the vinyl to the underside, wooden section of the seat.

Here is the underbelly of the seat and what it looks like when you staple it.  As you can, it can be quick and doesn’t have to look perfect. No one will see it.

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These are the tools I used for my reupholstery job:

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And the kids couldn’t resist playing with them..

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Here are the chairs with the new vinyl material. Maybe not as striking as the black and white fabric, but they sure do wipe off quickly!

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AND….I still have quite a bit of blue vinyl material left. 🙂 Which means this reupholstery job was much less than $40. Come back soon if you want to see yet another reupholstery job I’m working on with this same fabric; I’ve got a more challenging chair.

 

 

My Rocket Ship Birthday Cake(Celebrating my Son’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!)

My Rocket Ship Birthday Cake(Celebrating my Son’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!)

“You are not in a contest with other people, you are in a contest with yourself. Every day find ways that you can improve yourself–your character, your efforts, your knowledge, your creativity, your ambitions…your emotions.” –(me–quote from me today)

 

For my son’s first Birthday, I wanted it to be extremely simple and cheap (use what I already had on hand) but also have some fun and bright memories (and pictures) for future years.

If you’re not into children’s movies/cartoons/videos/characters what to do for a Birthday? I’ve found that a good (and extremely cheap) way to create a “Birthday Party Theme” is to look around your house and take account of toys and books that you already have.

No, I do not go onto the internet first “to look for ideas”. In fact, I highly discourage it because you’ll be intimidated by all the amazingly perfect creations put forth by other experts. You’ll either decide not to do anything–for fear that it will be a failure or you’ll be tricked into thinking that you have to spend a bunch of money “to get the right look”. (I’ve probably been on Pinterest less than 10 times in my entire life! No kidding).

Also, this isn’t very creative is it? The point is, COME UP WITH THE IDEA IN YOUR OWN MIND FIRST and, if you absolutely have to, start surfing around the internet because, say, you forgot the recipe for the frosting you have in mind. You get the picture.

What are a bunch of things already at your fingertips that you can extract a theme from? For us, it was space-related things. Mind you, we only had a couple things in this category, but I thought it would be fun to create a tiny little First Birthday Party for my son along this genre. It would just be our family, of course, since we don’t have any relatives or friends here in Alaska.

I didn’t want to buy a cake; but I did want to experiment with another homemade cake that you form into something related to the theme. After all, I had all the ingredients on hand and it’s more baking practice for me. 

This time, I chose a rocket ship. I used the same white cake recipe I’ve used in the past–extremely boring and not the best flavor in the world–but SUPER EASY TO WORK WITH. You can find it on an earlier blog post of mine called “Pagan Party For Kids” or “My Robin’s Easter Egg Cake”.

Once baked and cooled in the fridge in plastic wrap (overnight), I pulled it out and cut the cake into a rocket ship using a template I made from paper.

 

And I did a quick frosting job here. No, that’s not fondant, it’s just powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla frosting that has been tinted.

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With a cake like this, we will be flying to the moon in no time.

 

I also made a couple little rocket ships from cereal box cardboard.

Our Baby having his first Birthday!

Everything pictured here are things that I already had on hand. I didn’t buy a single thing. Even the Birthday candle was my daughter’s when she turned 1! Remember the old phrase, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Birthday presents were sent to us from Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie, of course.

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I MADE A SUMMER TANK TOP (AND A YELLOW SKIRT TOO!)

I MADE A SUMMER TANK TOP (AND A YELLOW SKIRT TOO!)

I think it was Jordan Peterson who said, “Compare yourself to who you were the day before, not to who someone else is today.”

Learning to sew clothes has been a trial and error process–but I’m learning to compare my sewing to how I was sewing a few weeks ago…a few years ago. I’m terrible with spatial cognition. I don’t see things very quickly. My visual processing speed is delayed (compared to others) and my mind has a hard time manipulating objects in space and considering alternative, yet accurate positions.

Sewing has been a rough pursuit but it’s EXACTLY WHAT I NEED. I need to have some outlet for strengthening these intellectual capacities. Even better, I get to meld my penchant for creativity and art with this hobby. I don’t think there is any activity that gives me more FLOW than attempting to SEW. Sorry. Bad rhyme.

It’s the designing part that really draws me in. Attempting to design a piece of clothing and then sewing it. Ahh, nothing feels quite like it–especially when I get it roughly right. Painting is a close second.

I’m realizing that I need to take more risks with design and sewing. I often worry that “I’ll be wasting fabric”, so I hesitate to try something. It’s super easy to mess up! I’ve done it repeatedly even when making a fastidious effort to follow instructions.

If I go all the way off the tracks, can’t I expect to have a mess on my hands and fabric that will end up becoming pillow stuffing? YES. But compared to nonexistence, making mistakes is BLISSFUL!

I’ve started to get more creative and worry less about my final product. I work with what I have–mistakes and all, and try to come up with something. So far, I’m figuring things out.

I was having THE MOST DIFFICULT TIME with this TANK TOP that I designed. It would be the first shirt/tank top I have made for myself. I made enough mistakes to call it quits. I kept adding on and cutting and changing things around.

I used a knit fabric and here is where I started. I also added some teal knit fabric to it because the tank top WAS TOO SHORT.

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And here is my final result! I zig zag stitched the edges around the tank top and a ruffle emerged! INSTANT FASHION!

If you look closely (or maybe even from a distance) you’ll notice its asymmetric. Not on purpose of course, but I’m pretending it was intentional. You can see how the sleeves/shoulder straps (or, whatever you call them) are of different widths.

Not gonna lie, I LOVE IT! IT FITS PERFECTLY. Then again, you’ve got to be pretty bad if you can’t fit into a knit!

I’m just so pleased with it, especially considering how it was looking beforehand, how I didn’t use a real pattern…I just pulled it out of no where. Adding that extra strip of teal fabric from my stash not only added to the length–which I desperately needed–but gave it a fashionista look.

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To think I almost threw out this wad of fabric, but I kept going with it, kept playing around.

I’m so happy I kept playing around with it! It fit perfectly–as knits have lots of stretchy give to them. Perfect for hot summer.

Here is some cheap fabric that I bought from Walmart. I had pieced it together–almost like pillow cases and then started to randomly sew. I didn’t know what I was doing here. I thought, why not sew it all together and form it into a skirt?

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And here is my final skirt result after MANY CHANGES. It was tough to get it just right! I installed a long, 7 or 8 inch zipper in the back and lots of random, off-kilter darts. But who cares? Notice that I added a piece of fringe polka dot fabric on the bottom for extra flair and zig zag stitched the edge! Still, a very simple look.

The trick to making a skirt is wrapping some fabric around your waist and then going from there. That’s all I do. Once you have a rough idea of how much fabric you’ll need for your size, you just start sewing. Towards the end you decide…do I want to add a top waist placket? Do I want to add a zipper or elastic? You can make those decisions later.

The best part? It FITS PERFECTLY! Hello Summer. I feel like I should be behind a Lemonade Stand or something.

 

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How about some homemade lemonade spiked with some Pinot Grigio? Chilled white wine is PERFECT for a summer evening on your porch with your Kindle. I’m still trying to finish Ben Sasse’s book “The Vanishing American Adult”.

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The key to sewing is not being discouraged by Nazi seamstresses who keep insisting that “There’s only one way to do it”. 

Keep trying and keep thinking up creative combinations. You don’t have to follow someone else’s script. You’ll improve with measurements and sewing machine accuracy eventually–but let that go for now! Put your focus on the fun part–THE DESIGN! It will motivate you to keep going!

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TRYING STARBUCKS SALTED CREAM COLD FOAM BREW & VISITING CLINE FALLS NATIONAL PARK, OREGON

TRYING STARBUCKS SALTED CREAM COLD FOAM BREW & VISITING CLINE FALLS NATIONAL PARK, OREGON

I love blogging. It hits the spot. It’s like my little punch of dopamine. Some play video games; I try and weave a blog post together. And neither of us will judge the other, okay? It pulls me out of the daily monotony and displaces time doing physical labor–something I’ve grown to DESPISE.  Unloading dishwasher…diaper changing…folding clothes….putting things away constantly….cleaning out the car…cleaning up after meals….grocery shopping….weeding the front flower bed….putting things away….picking things up….bathtime….getting up throughout the night (for almost 3 years now) to feed screaming babies….and never enough rest or time to do the things I desire to do.

Someday people will look back at our current time and instead of saying “There’s an app for that”, they’ll be saying “There’s a robot for that.” Imagine how much more free time future people will have for video games and surfing the internet while ignoring 3-D humans by enslaving semi-humanoids/Robots? Bonus, we won’t need to go to college either. There will probably be some way of downloading information straight into our brains…perhaps some attachment device to our brains so specific kinds of knowledge integrates and adds to our own minds! Why bother studying when you can just BECOME MORE AWARE, MORE knowledgeable with just the press of a button? BYE BYE AlZHEIMERS, BYE BYE  Double Digit IQ.

Today has been hot. HOT. I think it’s 102 degrees and we don’t have an air conditioner. Instead of enjoy the balmy 87 degree house temp, I thought getting out and hitting some air conditioned stores would be best.

We began with Tuesday morning Storytime at the library. If you live anywhere near Bend (Oregon) you can appreciate all the FREE CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES here! Summertime is dense with activities, everything from parks galore to free lunches, free crafts and games with terrific staff. There’s also free music (but not free food) at Drake Park on Thursday evenings. Don’t forget Farmer’s Market downtown on Wednesdays!

MY CHILDREN AT TUESDAY MORNING LIBRARY STORYTIME

 

After Storytime, we headed over to Target to try a SALTED CREAM COLD FOAM BREW offered by Starbucks. WHAT A SUPRISING CONCOCTION! Delectably creamy, deeply-brewed with a tingle of salty aftermath. If you don’t mind a bit of salty flavor, you’ll really enjoy this drink! My daughter also requested her first CAKE POP upon spotting a row inside the glass pastry shelf. In case you needed to know, we actually went to Target to purchase baby food and my daughter’s first set of underpants. Milestones are underway.

I WANT SALTED CREAM COLD BREW COFFEE MAMA! PLEEEEEEASE!!!

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Trying her very first CAKE POP! What an irony for such a hot day.

 

 

We also spent a chunk of the hot day at Cline Falls State Park. This is a very beautiful region in central Oregon near Redmond–like the quintessential ‘oasis in the desert’. You’ll see the usual scrubby evergreen trees and earthy terrain and suddenly you’ll spot the river and it’s grassy green banks.  It will settle your soul, akin to taking a deep breath on a hot, parched afternoon.

Since I had little one’s we didn’t make it to the Falls section, but we did find multiple “beach spots” to play along a calm section of the river. I highly recommend it here–especially for little ones. There are so many gentle wading areas and deeper, yet easy flowing areas for a nice float.  There are plenty of picnic tables too! Just make sure to go on a weekday and earlier in the day too. You’ll easily find a spot to enjoy the river. We found some nice companions there who offered us freshly picked cherries. 

Enjoying the Deschutes River near Cline Falls:

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLD BREW COFFEE RECIPE and PAINTING GAUGUIN’S, “THE YELLOW CHRIST”.

COLD BREW COFFEE RECIPE and PAINTING GAUGUIN’S, “THE YELLOW CHRIST”.

This week has been one heck of a ride. Lot’s to be excited about and lots of future adventures on the horizon that I’ll be blogging about. I’ve been doing some “copying” lately with regards to recipes and, well, famous paintings. Learn from the best right? Sometimes creativity is playing around with other people’s ideas–make sure and give them ALL THE CREDIT, of course.

Another thing…I failed at a scratch banana cream pie. I noticed that I had extra whip cream and some bananas (about to go bad), so why not attempt it? It turns out that cooking custard and getting a desirable consistency is something only genius cooks with arcane culinary and mathematical skills can master.

Here is my pie. But I won’t ruin your moment and display the runny, slushy middle. It tasted AMAZING. Impeccable freshness with a deliciously thick homemade graham cracker crust. However, the consistency of the filling was WAAAY off–even after allowing it to set for 6 hours uncovered in the fridge.

Making a “firm enough” custard filling is one of those precarious situations. You better not undercook or overcook it and it has to be done accurately within 5-7 minutes on your stovetop. You have to stir rapidly during the boiling process (no distractions or multi-tasking). Oh, and don’t let your custard brown on the bottom of the pan during your 5-7 minute boil. It’s very difficult to achieve a decent result because the parameters are so strict. Don’t accidentally scramble the eggs either–you’ll get lumps.

I don’t want any liability or litigation, so I won’t be posting this banana cream pie recipe here. I will give the taste of this pie an A+ but the consistency an F–it was very creamy (no lumps) but it just wasn’t firm enough. My daughter keeps asking for more–so we’ll be eating it over the next couple days.

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After my pie failure, I decided to go for something easier. How about cold brewed coffee? I had been skimming over the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook and noticed her recipe. I basically followed her General Plan for iced coffee.

I used a very dark coffee bean (Rwandan Coffee beans) and ground them up. Then I scooped 3 large cups of my freshly ground coffee and dumped them into a glass bowl.

Next, I poured 6 cups of COLD water over the coffee grounds and gave it a quick mix with a spoon. Finally, I covered it in plastic wrap, set it on the counter top and let it brew for over 12 hours.

Once the 12 hours were up, I found a bigger glass bowl, a sieve and some paper towels. I strained the ground coffee mixture through the sieve and about 2-5 layers of paper towels (yes, this will take a bit of patience but I promise it works as a PERFECT FILTER and I didn’t get a single stray coffee ground in my final brew!

 

I poured the cold brewed coffee into a juice dispenser and let it chill in the fridge over night. My only regret is that I didn’t make enough!

Let me tell you, this is the BEST CHILLED/ICED/COLD-BREW COFFEE I’VE EVER TASTED!

Just fill a glass with ice cubes, decant your brewed coffee into the icy mix and dribble in some half and half and a spoonful of sugar (or don’t). Either way, its just luscious!

I thought that the dark roast would be too-overpowering, but it wasn’t at all. It just tasted rich…deeply flavored even after a splash of half and half.

Another thing that I’ve been doing this past month is trying to paint, “The Yellow Christ” by Paul Gauguin. The Yellow Christ has always been one of my favorite paintings of all time. I just find the color scheme breathtakingly original. Gauguin is definitely one of my favorite painters–one of his paintings sold for 300 million in 2015–just to give you some perspective of his classic popularity and talent.

Here is my version:

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We’re also working on another acrylic painting (this one, 100% my own idea) with my little painting helper beside me!

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