Well Wishes...a homemade card shared on Wednesdays.
This year's little thank you gift for each cheer booster board member was a notebook to keep in the car as they run errands and need to remember everything. I actually have always had a binder in the car for coupons and keep a notebook to write something down before I forget, so I combined the two.
I included a note to each of them thanking them for never being too busy and to tell them I will miss working with them so much.
The to-do list is written for the week and it's a bit daunting. The cheer banquet is at the end of the week so I have gifts to make (the "I am very busy" print is part of it), banquet programs to design and print, and those pesky RSVP's to collect. I spent two hours on the phone this afternoon calling families after already sending out four email reminders to the entire cheer mailing list this past week. I still have twenty-one out of forty left to get.
Can I make a request on behalf of everyone and anyone who has ever hosted anything? Please RSVP.
Making some kind of label for each of our tomato plants is really one of my favorite crafts each year.
This year I grabbed some wood pieces from the craft store, painted them with some watered-down acrylic paint, stamped the names (I need a new StazOn stamp pad since mine is really dry) and Sean nailed them together for me.
I have a bunch of cards I've been meaning to share. I made this one for the original owners of our house. After selling they moved to Oregon, but we have kept in touch through the years. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2015 and shared it in their Christmas card, so I wanted to send along a little note to say congratulations.
Well Wishes...a homemade card shared on Wednesdays.
I am on the other half of my spring break this week. Last week was the state college and this week is the community college. This means I have every afternoon free so today, during the time I am usually in class, I baked bread for the very first time. I used this focaccia recipe and I didn't mess it up.
As someone who usually cooks without a recipe, actually following along with precise steps is pretty momentous.
This year we picked out ten varieties. I probably should not get as excited as I do about these little plants, but I cannot wait to see them grow.
I also printed out a batch of planting notes for the year. I keep track of each season in a garden journal binder so I can look back on what worked and what didn't. You can download the PDF in case you want to keep track of your garden too... 2016 Planting Notes.
This year's version included making our own envelopes and those little red bows. Other than that it's pretty simple. Of course nothing feels quite so simple when you need to make forty-five of them.
It's 9:49 on Wednesday morning and I am straightening up way too much stuff around the house. I have been extra messy these last few days.
Usually at this day and time I am in front of my Sociology of the Family class at the state college, but it's spring break there, so I have the morning off.
Last Wednesday I received the dreaded email that I was not chosen as a finalist for the Sociology position either, which has had me pretty quiet around here in the past week.
So that's that.
I am lucky, really darn lucky, that I still have the job that I love. I'll be at both schools and it seems like my schedule of classes at the community college will not be changing as much as they mentioned it might.
I just wish there was an opportunity for growth...besides trying to find more classes at an additional school. The part I would have looked forward to the most with a full-time position is being part of a campus far more than walking in and out of a classroom. I need to make something like that happen in the future.
Thank you so much for all of your kind words these last three months. Now it's back to fun stuff around here...making cards, growing tomatoes, little house projects and hopefully a lot more craftiness.
I was not selected as a finalist for the Women's Studies position. I have not heard about the Sociology one yet. I'm similtaneously hopeful and terrified. If I do not get the job, the extra downside will be that the school has hired two full-time faculty members, so as an adjunct there I have been told I won't have as many classes. Makes it even more stressful.
It occurred to me, as I didn't sleep well last night, that I have spent this exact time of year at age 19, 29, and now 39 in a similar, life-altering way.
In March 1996, I found out I was pregnant with identical twin boys. I was a sophomore in college and being a mom certainly altered the next decade ahead of me.
In March 2006, I was married with a nine year old and trying to have another family member. If you've been around here that long, you know how that went. Not very well. But we decided to have different goals as a little family and it has been a far better decade than I ever could have imagined.
And here I am, right before starting my 40's, having dreamed of being a full-time faculty member at this school since I started there as a student fifteen years ago. Will this third decade change be the charm?
As hard as it will be if it doesn't work out the way I've hoped, at least the last two decades have taught me a lot of good can happen no matter what.
Last year I made boards for the pocket planner I gave my mom, the one I have, and my A5 size planner. They are hole punched and sit in the back of the binder to help create a more solid surface to write on. I realized just a couple of months ago, that it would be handy to have another one to put directly behind the page as I wrote on it.
Like the other boards, I simply adhered some favorite pattern papers to a piece of cardboard. I store the board in the front pocket of my planner and use it all the time.
P.S. After submitting applications I was called for a Sociology interview..and there is a Women's Studies interview written on the other page for next week. Thanks for all of your good wishes a few weeks ago. For the next twelve days I'll be prepping teaching demonstrations and holding my breath. I'll be back on March 21st...
It took me years to collect all of these, because I could not resist the colors. The bowls are usually in rainbow order up on this shelf in the kitchen, because I am a nerd. However, this past weekend they were all freshly scrubbed to serve up soup and salad for our last cheer team dinner.
And now that I went to the Anthropologie website to get a link to the bowls...there are even more colors that I might really need. The peach...that lime green...
I was making this tortellini soup earlier today to have for dinner tonight. Instead of frozen vegetables, I added onion, garlic, carrots and spinach. Oh and I added beef...because I am shamefully lost in this world without meat.
I used a squeeze of tomato paste and immediately grabbed a sharpie to write the date that I opened it on it...which I do with pretty much every condiment in our fridge. I should do it with more items in our pantry too.
I don't know if everyone does this too or no one does, but I'll admit it has been an incredibly handy reference when cleaning out the fridge. Because even though the italian dressing might not expire for a couple more weeks, it helps to know it's been cracked open for three months or something.
I have a habit of keeping websites open on my phone of stuff I eventually want to save. An article to share with my students...a recipe I want to try...ideas for our house...and, let's be honest, too much cute stuff I am wishing for.
Over the past couple months I kept way too many sites open and finally took a little time to add it to wishlists, pin it or save it in Evernote.
Here's some of the stuff I saved...
These super cute project bags...I can't decide which color is the cutest.
I want a green chalkboard wall.
Um, planner stuff in an increasing obsession. I had to get these stamps (with a couple few other sets).
One day I will bake bread.
I have wanted this print forever...my dining room wall really needs it.
And did I mention planner supplies? Oh my goodness these stickers.
Get it? Cheerleading + end of an era = che-era.
Good thing that's not super cheesy.
This was one of the last weekends that had lots of cheer team related stuff. The team hosted a mini cheer camp fundraiser and we hosted a showcase.
I can't wait until it's done and I never want it to end. I have loved it and not really loved it and have absolutely loved it. No matter what, after four years, I cannot begin to imagine our life without it.
This weekend I also happily grabbed those sparkly cheerleader charms for key chains I decided had to be made (for no reason other than cuteness) to hold the extra copies of the key for the storage container on campus. This means I gravitated towards an item with rhinestones.
I think my transition to liking sparkly stuff might be complete...four years later I'm a really a cheer mom.
I first made a set of group work sticks for the fall 2014 semester. I have used them in almost every single class since. My students all know, walk into class and grab a stick.
I decided last year to make a set of forty that continuously got students into groups of five, instead of different sized groups like the first set. Now that I am teaching at the local high schools (through a program at the community college I work for) I have smaller class sizes.
I can always pull sticks out, and it's easy to quickly remove a couple colors worth. However, its a pain to shuffle through the pile trying to find a bunch of smiley face sticks or something because I was going to use symbols as a grouping mechanism that day.
So I made a set of thirty...which meant fresh new colors...and lots of painting and stamping.
I would have never guessed that popsicle sticks could be a key tool in teaching at the college level, but they have been for me.
It's a little too easy to hoard even the teensy tiniest of crafting supplies like little scraps of fabric and paper because maybe you can tie them together into something cute.
In continuing with the letter of recommendation thank you gifting, one of my Women's Studies professors wrote letters for me and to thank her I got a couple of drawstring bags to hold her knitting projects (I picked this one and this one).
If I were to make a list right now of all the stuff I want to make right now it would include...a fresh stack of cards, a canvas idea I have for our bedroom wall, scrapbook pages (for the first time in almost forever) and more planner pages.
This was my first blog banner...waaaaay back when. Patterned paper was just really becoming a thing in scrapbooking and I was obsessed with all the colors and patterns. This photo was a new pile I had just excitedly bought.
Eleven years ago today, I started this whole thing. I reminisced on the 10th year and in the past I have shared old blog banners (2013 & 2014), but this morning I went back to the beginning. Thank goodness I have always kept the files on my external hard drive compulsively organized.
I used to make blog banners out of craft supplies and scan them in.
Then I started figuring out all this digital stuff.
And then, six years into blogging, I finally came up with a name that wasn't just my initials.
I wonder, now that I am officially into a second decade of blogging, will I reach twenty years? Will I do this for the rest of my life? It's been a wonderful hobby, a place to share the tiniest, random detail to the biggest stuff in our lives. And that's something I don't really ever want to see end...
I have written five letters of recommendation in the last month for students, so I know it can take a fair amount of time and effort. That is why I wanted to make sure I bought thank you gifts for the people who wrote them for me with all this job application business.
This was for one of my department chairs. I don't drink beer, but I really love to read descriptions and make a custom six-pack. Sean is the usual recipient of my beer choices (once it was my brother-in-law), so it was fun to put together a combination for someone new.
Then I had to decorate the box, right? Beer isn't as good unless there's patterned paper and stamps involved.
"But you can't open them"
How's that for a Valentine's gift?
Sean and I have a tradition of making each other a gift so this year I planned six dates for us and made little cards for each. I gave him the little stack of envelopes and told him he could use them whenever he wanted.
I started each idea with "let's" so that's what I included on the tag to tie it all together. It's just a few things that one or the other of us has mentioned, but we never actually go do. Then I put together another couple simple ideas we could do instead of just watching Netflix...although we both actually love to do that too.
Oh and Sean made me a cute little blackboard. He wrote a sweet note on the back that included that he thinks of me every morning when he wakes up. When I said there is no chance he thinks of me in the morning (most of the time he's all happy getting up to go for a run) he totally proved me wrong.
He said every morning when he wakes up he thinks, "Don't wake Nora up".
Now that's true love.
Rosemary and lemon from our backyard...last week I simmered them together.
Mac is in Vegas with his dad's family for a four-day weekend, Sean has enough time to work on a couple little house projects during his three-day weekend. I have a holiday from one school on Monday, but not the other. So I guess I have a 2.5-day weekend. It's the first weekend in awhile though that I haven't had piles of work, so it feels like a million day weekend.
Sean owns more pairs of shoes than I do. And his motto usually is, the more color, the better. My mom had gotten him a really cute pair of Vans for Christmas and passed along a coupon towards a next purchase. So Sean had little too much fun designing a custom shoe and then put that coupon to good use. You can't waste it, right?
A few weeks later, these show up on our doorstep and he was thrilled. He wore them to work the next day with a pastel plaid shirt that totally matched. Because so many things would match with neon rainbow shoes.
This was my desk at 8:18am. I was grading the the first stack of journal assignments from my Sociology of the Family class (just over 200 pages of work) and entering comments with every grade. I had "Meet the Press" on my iPad to listen to. And I had my phone nearby since I was tracking Sean who was running the Huntington Beach Half Marathon this morning.
As of this morning, I am back to regularly scheduled life. About a month ago now (where does time go?) I mentioned I wouldn't be around as much since I would be working on the stuff I was annoyingly vague about at the start of the year.
What I have been working on this whole time was job applications for a few full-time positions that are opening up locally. Two are actually at the community college I teach for (and graduated from). Over the last few weeks I have been writing and re-writing my curriculum vitae, covers letters and all the other bits & pieces.....pretty sure each one ended up with a dozen drafts.
I was hesitant to mention all of this since I didn't want to continuously share sad news if it doesn't work. However, by now I have managed to tell just about everyone I know...and it actually feels a lot better to hear them kindly say they are keeping their fingers crossed for me.
Now I am waiting to see if I get called for interviews and can break out my lucky skirt.
My love of croutons developed early on in my childhood. In fact there was one restaurant where my brother, sister and I would simply ask for a bowl of croutons and a side of ranch.
I pretty much could do the same thing as a full-grown adult.
Several years ago, when I learned how to make panzanella salad, it involved making your own croutons. It is so easy and so good and helps your house be scented like a buttery garlic toast factory.
Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut bread into half inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan on the stove. Let cool slightly. Add sugar, onion powder, garlic powder and salt into the melted butter and mix well. Stir the olive oil to the butter mixture. Toss the bread cubes with the butter/oil mixture, coating each one well. Lay the bread cubes out in one even layer on a baking sheet. Cook the coated bread cubes for 8-10 minutes, remove from oven to stir and return to the oven for 3-5 more minutes, watching them closely to make sure they do not over bake.
Remove from oven and allow them to cool completely on the pan. Keep in mind if they are not completely dried and crunchy when they come out of the oven that they will continue to crisp up as they cool. I store the croutons in the fridge due to the butter and they keep up to a week.
This weekend I started filling in my weekly calendar for February and decided I need to spend a little time on something cuter than writing down a whole bunch of meetings for school.
I cut an 8.75" x 2.5" piece of cardstock, dug into my patterned paper scraps and stuck a bunch on.
I think I have found yet another planner detail to craft up each month.
I think I wrapped this the first week of November or something...Mac had been invited to one of the cheerleader's sweet sixteen. I didn't have much time, but wanted to make her gift look cute, so I skimmed my saved gift wrapping ideas and combined a few details together.
Actually my Timehop app reminded me this morning that I joined Pinterest five years ago today. I've saved over three thousand ideas on there...and used it as a resource probably three times as much. Pretty much all meals, parties and house projects have come from a brainstorming there and I can't begin to imagine what I would ever do without it at this point.
I managed to catch a cold during the first week of the spring semester and that meant some extra rest in bed this weekend...which gave me too much time to analyze the current state of our bedroom.
So these two photos pretty much explain where we at. Please don't all rush at once to pin these...we wouldn't want to break Pinterest or anything with this truly astounding interior design work.
Despite the general not-so-awesome, there are a few good things in here...the much bigger bed is wonderful to have, the office drawer nightstands hold plenty, and it only took me forever (or five months) to find a comforter. I like the bench (but still wish it was about a foot shorter) and the dressers Sean painted worked with a wire bookcase in between. I'm also happy with the switch to a white slipcover on the chair, but wow that's fun to keep clean.
Oh and I love the little white shelves on the wall by the bed...not that you would know that considering that one, lone plant has been pretty much the only thing on them since they were hung. Well, the plant and recently some gigantic book about the Lakers that Sean has been reading.
The still-have-to-figure-it-out list starts with the television. I would love to mount it to the wall and build a gallery of frames around it. However, there is some horizontal stud in the wall issue that makes a nice, clean installation seemingly impossible (so says my electrician Sean). Speaking of walls...I am still kind of at a loss for the one behind our bed.
And speaking of walls one more time, the green wall is going. I actually picked a color a couple of weeks ago that I kept finding myself drawn to even though it's probably a little crazy. Granted only one wall is getting painted, since the rest are approximately a hundred feet tall and would take scaffolding to work on.
Also on the list is a table for next to the chair, the possibility of curtains and those super classy folk art collage frames from Walmart circa 1997 that are still hanging in the doorway.
Beyond a can of paint, I am at a bit a loss. For ten months now...making this by far the record holder for longest house project ever around here.
So, look for the official reveal sometime in 2018 or so.
Since I'll be catching up on the first three weeks of 2016 sometime this weekend and after going on and on a couple of weeks ago about how you have to do Project Life with me, I thought I'd share some of the things that have worked for me over the last year.
First I have saved my pennies...literally. Loose change got saved to take to a Coin Star machine and traded in for an iTunes gift card (since you do not get charged a service fee when you select credit towards something like iTunes or Starbucks). I then used it to purchase in-app kits of journaling cards.
Oh and the extra layout sets...those came in super handy too. (Above are some of my favorites.)
My plan last year was to make one page per week and then make an extra with a special event whenever I had enough pictures from it. I am sticking with that again this year. I did switch from having my weeks last year as Sunday through Saturday to Monday through Sunday this year.
I often used the Rhonna Designs app to add words to my photos. Since I mostly used the Project Life app on my iPad, those times that I had a few minutes and just my phone I would spend time editing photos with the Pic-Tap-Go app and then adding words. That way they were all ready when I went to put together a page.
I also would just save a photo or two as an entire 8x8 page. I only did this a couple of times this past year, but I loved it and will hopefully do it more this time around.
Oh and I don't think I ever shared the two photos of Mac cheering. He fell in love with cheer when I was a high school instructional aide and we would go to the football games. His senior year was the first time in four years that we went back to the stadium for the high school I had worked at, so I made him walk back up into the stands on the opposing side to duplicate the photo now that he has been living his dream.
Hope you maybe decided to join in the Project Life app documenting this year...if you have any questions I'd be happy to try to help.
Over holiday break the only house "project" I got done was switching the cabinet the leftover containers & lids were stored in. It took 18 or so minutes total.
This weekend was part two in this intense project...lid organization. We have spent the better part of a decade digging around in a haphazard mess of lids, but now that they reside in a much more convenient spot (you no longer have to practically be hanging upside down to dig them out of a dark cabinet next to the ground) keeping like lids together is entirely possible.
Is this a photo worthy project? No.
Is sharing this blog worthy? Not really.
Does it make me unreasonably happy and slightly satisfy my insatiable need to reorganized the most random stuff when I should be writing a syllabus?
In case you were wondering, I did not find it easy to photograph pieces of hot dogs that simmered forever (or like an hour and a half) in a tomato-ey sweet and savory bourbon sauce. This is the best I got before Sean and I sat down to devour a bunch while watching college football bowl games (we had spinach artichoke dip too) a few weeks ago.
This recipe came from my aunt back when I was a teenager on Christmas Eve eating these one after another. I rarely make them since it means buying a bottle of Jim Beam, that we don't use for anything else, but Sean loves them too, so it was worth it.
I like using chunks of hot dogs for this, but I have seen many more recipes that use small cocktail smoked sausages.
Mix together all ingredients and cook on very low heat on the stove for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring every five to ten minutes. Or, if you have more time, cook in a crock-pot on low 5-7 hours.
Last Wednesday night I used the cardstock calendar I printed (there's a PDF here) to get all crafty with our schedule this month. It was so much fun to get all "organized". I used quotations since the next day me and my crafty calendar already forgot something that I had scheduled.
I am awesome like that.
Speaking of schedules, around here I usually share something Monday through Friday, but over the next few weeks it'll be three times a week or so. I have a lot more planner pages to share, a couple of recipes and a few other little crafty projects I've forgotten to share over the last couple of months. I'll be a little extra busy working on those "annoyingly vague" goals I mentioned in my twenty-sixteen post and promise not be as annoying about it soon.
It rained and rained between Tuesday and Wednesday. As I looked out the window to the backyard there was this one rose that hung down dripping with raindrops. When it was still there on Thursday morning I grabbed my camera and headed out to soppy grass to take a picture of it...and a bunch of other stuff.
The sky was clear and filled with big white clouds and the cold-ish air (50 degrees or so) almost felt like it was sparkling. Super cheesy, right? But when you live in what's pretty much a dessert surrounded by three million or so people and endless cars...the two-day drenched, chilled air felt extra amazing.
I finished up my little book for the year last week with a bunch more pages. I scanned in coloring pages, hid some journaling, folded our three part Christmas to-do list into a page protector, tucked in the gift tags Sean and I always write clues on and included lots of photos of family.
I needed two different versions of a 2016 calendar for my planner, right? I printed months horizontally on thick cardstock to have at the beginning of weekly pages since I only store one month's worth of weekly pages at a time. I figured I could decorate it will all the cute planner supplies I continually cannot resist.
Then I updated a vertical version I had made before, printed it on my usual paper, so I can keep the entire thing in my planner for the year.
On Friday morning I finished the very last page and ordered a final batch of sixteen pages from the last month. In the last year I have fallen completely in love with using the Project Life app and gathering together memories big and small.
I have saved screen shots of text messages...dinners on the table...errands...all four naps Sean took during 2015. I have pulled over to the side of the road to get a photo of Mac being funny in the car...I have written down his quotes...and well documented every single one of the football games he cheered at his senior year.
I have captured more details than paper and glue scrapbooking could ever allow. There are 791 photos (yes, I'm a nerd and counted)...98 pages total. Pages that I worked on while watching tv, while waiting to pick up Mac at school, at Mac's tumbling class in between his back tuck attempts. Heck, I even scrapbooked during the weeks I only had one hand.
You have to do this too. Not that I want to be telling you what to do, but if you were an avid scrapbooker at any point and have been a little tight on time as of late, this is such a great way to go. It'll never be quite as fun as making a mess with patterned paper and stamps, but I still completely enjoyed every minute of it.
And in keeping with the assertion that you just have to, I would love to buy the app for five of you. Please leave a "Pick me" sometime before Wednesday. I will email the five random winners and gift you the app through iTunes later this week.