Well Wishes...a homemade card shared on Wednesdays.
Sean and the dogs laying around for a few minutes while I wrote the menu and grocery list this weekend.
This upcoming week has loomed on the calendar for about a month and a half now.
First, it is cheer try-outs for Mac...who stresses out about doing his best. He has been talking non-stop about every aspect of this week, the requirements and his goals.
Also tomorrow I start teaching a fifth class for the semester, an eight week course at the community college. It will be three hours twice a week, which means on Monday I go straight from 9:30am until 7pm. Wednesday I will have a couple hour break between my two morning classes, but then I will teach two three hour classes in a row, 3:45pm until 10pm. This schedule goes for the next four weeks until my classes end at the state college, then I will have four more weeks of the semester at the community college. A month seemed possible at the time I said yes. Now that it's the night before, it's a little scary.
I guess I might stress out about doing my best too. I must have inherited it from Mac.
When I shared photos of the little baby shower lunch I hosted a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the original theme was sprinkles. Since scheduling it was a surprise I sent out one invitation to the guest of honor. I made a shaker box full of sprinkles and sent it off in the mail. My mom asked me about the card a few days later. She was curious if I had used sprinkles in it. I was puzzled (and likely snotty) when I said, "Yes, of course". Turns out they were pulverized by the time they arrived.
My mom kindly suggested, in the future, I write "please hand cancel" like she does on delicate mail. Lesson learned.
I mentioned on Tuesday that I am increasingly obsessed with this whole gardening situation. I decided to put together a binder to have a place to keep track of what we plant each year. I used divided page protectors to slip plant tags into and then have some notes we have from planning this year.
I figured if we can obsessively keep track of Thanksgiving turkey notes in a binder, a garden journal seemed perfectly normal.
This was the poster hanging in our room at the Ace Hotel last week.
This weekend I worked, like I have worked every weekend for the last fifteen months. I work pretty much seven days a week. I often work at night right up until I go to bed.
I also have time to spend running errands, cooking dinner, cutting flowers from the backyard, reading blogs, crafting a little (very little lately), having lunch with a friend, or just sitting for a few minutes and having a cup of tea.
Aside from the fourteen hours I spend in front of a classroom each week, life has some pretty significant flexibility. Sometimes, when I am working on a Friday night, I wish I had a career that meant work could stay at work. Or maybe what I really wish is that I could be disciplined enough to keep a precise schedule that meant I did not have to accomplish stuff for work everyday.
Over the last few months I've often felt that I might have attention issues, since I jump from task to task. Before finishing one thing I have started three others, but I manage to finish all of them in no logical order whatsoever. I can't tell if I am a mess or if this is just my natural way of accomplishing what needs to be done.
Work and life might be totally blurred until further notice, but I am pretty darn grateful to have it all to mix together.
1. We try to eat the food Mac does not like when he's with his dad...which includes mushrooms. This cheesy stuffed mushroom dip needs to be made before he gets home.
2. This cheeseburger macaroni sounds like a good weeknight dinner option.
3. And I want a big salad with berries and feta.
We left at 10am on Tuesday and came back by 1pm Wednesday, since I had to teach and Sean was asked to be a guest speaker at another class tonight. We drove past the windmills. Lunch included one of my favorite potato salads (I have to figure out the recipe). We settled into the hotel for the afternoon, laid around and read magazines. We went to dinner. Then we lit the fire on the patio and had a beer. In the morning we got a big breakfast and drove back home. The day could not have been more relaxing. In fact, it kind of freaked us out, at first, not having anything we had to get done...if only we could freak out in that manner a little more often.
Today I printed out the weekly sheets for the next three months and switched out my planner for April. I filled up to do lists and dates on the calendar. I also dug into my flowery fabric stash to put together a few fabric paper clips to switch between since I use them to mark the weekly page I am currently on.
I figured since I was making some for me, I should make some for you too. I have three sets of three to share. Just leave a "pick me" if you would like one and I will email the randomly selected winners on Thursday.
Well this is it...the first month in 38 of them that I did not get a family photo of the three of us together...instead we have a photo of us on the same night (March 29th) but about 1,500 miles apart.
This past Saturday I hosted a little family celebration for my mom's best friend's daughter, Amee. She is having her second little boy in a few weeks, so it was a great reason to decorate, have lunch together and play games.
Originally the party was going to have a sprinkle theme since Amee loves them. Coincidentally, her friends had just celebrated a shower with the same theme a couple weeks before. That's what can happen when everyone knows you really love sprinkles. I figured it'd be easy to plan something new, since there were only a handful of people coming and I hadn't started working on the sprinkle theme yet. With a few minutes Pinterest researching the new theme was bow ties. When I was brainstorming colors with Amee's mom, she suggested bright blue. It had never been a favorite of mine...until now. I went bright blue bow tie crazy.
I decorated the dining room wall with a couple wonky felt bow tie banners, put some fabric on the table, and Sean painted wood initials we found at the local craft store.
Then I got to the menu and ended up having everything with a "B" in it for baby Braden. We had roast beef sandwiches, bowtie and broccoli salad, chips with blue cheese dip, blueberries with brown sugar yogurt (in little jars), and blue velvet cake (this recipe turned blue).
And there were still sprinkles...bright blue.
My mom took charge of the games and wrote an original mad lib and then made a custom version of Catch Phrase to play...only my mom could come up with games that good. Then the favors ended up being bright blue too...little paperclip fabric bookmarks.
I always like party planning, but somehow this was extra fun...and I got a new favorite color out of it.
Writing a blog post is usually one of the last things I do most days. On nights that I teach, I usually write it before I leave for class. It's my goal, when I get home, to pretty much immediately fall into bed.
Last night I ran out of the house to teach in jeans and flip-flops (when I usually try to dress nicely) having eaten half a sandwich while sitting on my bed on the phone with the cheer booster treasurer (who I have been talking to 5+ times a day for weeks) while Mac's tutor worked with him downstairs (Sean was at his school for Open House).
Could you even follow that sentence? Regardless, I think it adequately portrays what a mess it was.
Work for school is a little relentless, but manageable. This was the week where both school's offered me classes for the fall. The schedule can change drastically each semester and it's my job to say yes as soon as I can. It can be a little overwhelming to have to reorganize your upcoming work schedule in the matter of an hour.
The cheer booster presidency has reached a level I could have never conceived of. We need a new cheer coach (our third for the year). One had been there for three years and needed to move. The next one had been there 5 months and had to leave because of a work conflict. We are working with the principal to hire someone, but that has meant collecting resumes and coaching philosophies and setting up numerous meetings.
The new cheerleader try-out parent meeting is tonight (when I was supposed to have class). The former coach set it up since she was supposed to run it. Now the treasurer and I are running it. We had to reconstruct the eleven page try-out packet. We have to plan the banquet coming up fast. We have to order uniforms. We have to figure out what summer camp the team will go to. We have to run fundraisers (since both vice-presidents this year have quit because they were too busy). We have to try not to lose our minds.
You don't have to read what I am writing down in this blog post. I think I am just keeping track for three years from now, when I am hopefully bored in life not having to accomplish all of this stuff. Despite the insanity this cheer stuff feels like today, I know I will miss it when it's no longer mine to stress over.
At 7:45 this morning, though, I took fifteen minutes. I put on some music and went out to trim flowers in the backyard. The roses were covered with droplets from last night's rain. It's amazing how peaceful the littlest chunk of time can be.
Now I am ready for tonight's meeting and tonight's class (it's starting an hour late). Mac has a packed suitcase. He's staying at his dad's tonight so they can fly out early tomorrow morning. Then tomorrow I get to work on food and crafts for a little baby shower luncheon I am hosting on Saturday. Sean just found out one of his co-workers had tickets for us to get to see an Elite Eight game this Saturday. He is so excited to see one of the teams going to the Final Four cut down the net at the end of the game.
And tomorrow starts spring break. So, life might seem a little extra crazy, but it's good.
Spring break is next week. Mac is going up to Washington with his dad's family. I only have spring break from one school I teach at and not the other. However, these scenarios leave about 36 hours and Sean and I are going to try to max them out.
We have a room booked at the ACE in Palm Springs that has a private patio with a fireplace. I just decided we are eating dinner here. We are going to sit, read, and nap. No grading, class planning, errands, housework or cheer team booster board tasks in site.
There are not words to adequately describe how much I am looking forward to this. Countdown is on...
You know that around here it's usually a few crafts, recipes, or random life ramblings. For the last year, though, a large part of my time has been spent planning Sociology classes. This means I save a heck of a lot of articles and videos to possibly use. I keep them organized into twenty-nine different notebooks in Evernote, which has been a total lifesaver. Since Sociology is the most fascinating subject ever (I promise it really is), I thought that I could maybe share a little of it here every once in awhile.
This week in my classes...
We did a class activity trying to use proper People First Language as we discussed families that deal with various disabilities.
I promise that is what the sale was actually called.
The spreadsheet was printed, studied and marked a bunch of early, mid, late season, heirloom, indeterminate, beefsteak, cherry, slicer, grape, and oxheart possibilities.
We were in line, with our basket, more than a half hour before the gates opened.
We spread out among the crazy crowd to find what we wanted, double checked that we didn't accidentally grab a variety that wasn't on our list ( which is a mistake I have made before when there are a million plants stuffed together), and we were one of the first people to the check out line.
Here's hoping for a prolific 2014 tomato crop.
We ended up with Sugar Baby, Aunt Ruby's German Cherry, Cabernet, Hawaiian Pineapple, Orange Strawberry, Frosted Green Doctors, Sweet Million, Garden Peach, Golden Grape, Cherokee Purple, and Honey Hybrid.
Sean worked to keep the moral high as his 8th grade girls basketball team lost games this week.
The only homemade dinner we had was Guinness beef stew and buttermilk dill bread on St. Patrick's Day.
On Wednesday night Sean was still at a game and Mac's tutor was over working with him. So I had my turkey sandwich dinner out in the backyard peacefully by myself before heading out to teach one of my night classes. Can you see right past the big rose bush that I bought even more herbs and flowers that were waiting to be planted? Our garden is getting close to maximum capacity.
I went to wrap my sister's birthday present this week and grabbed this black and white floral paper. I didn't have enough to cover the box. Then I tried the roll of houndstooth paper...and it was also too small.
So I combined the two. I have run into this problem many times before and it had never occurred to me to do that. Now I will be looking for combinations to try.
Yesterday's card was actually for her birthday too. I didn't have an envelope that would fit the little file folder I used to make the card, so I clipped it onto the ribbon.
Now I just wish I could apply these kind of super high level problem solving skills to the rest of life.
We should have been doing about a hundred various tasks at home, but this sounded way better.
Mac was with his Dad's family at Disneyland today. We grabbed a big sandwich to share. The scent of sunscreen for the first time in months was immediately relaxing. And I had a chance to ignore emails for a little bit (no cell reception down at the water...darn).
As always, the beach was a good decision.
St. Patrick's Day marks the second holiday in a row that I barely decorated for. Valentine's Day just got a string of heart lights draped over the mantle and now I grabbed a couple of green things and got just one shamrock out of my holiday decoration storage box. Thankfully Sean got me those cute ranunculus at Trader Joe's last week otherwise this would be super pathetic instead of fairly pathetic. Oh well, it might lack creativity and craftiness (although I did make that wreath a few years ago now), but it won't get in the way of celebrating some Irish-ness on Monday. Hope you have a good weekend...
The first rose bloomed in the backyard...it's from the ketchup and mustard bush I bought in January.
In order to remember what they said, I took a photo of the brainstorming my Order and Change class yelled out to me to write on the board as we discussed a definition of a social movement. My penmenship with a white board marker is horrifying.
Mac and I stopped at Trader Joes's for grated parmesan cheese...which we got...along with romano cheese...three plants, popcorn, and five types of dessert. I cannot be trusted in the store.
Every year the calendar hits March 1st and I want plant a pretty ridiculous amount of flowers, herbs and vegetables in our backyard. So far the tally is two ranacula's, two lavender plants, peppermint, chocolate mint, and sweet mint. I can taste the vanilla mint iced tea already. Next up will be studying the six page spreadsheet of tomato plant possibilities to be ready to buy a few later this month.
Is there anything you are looking forward to growing this spring?
I have shared the contents of my purse before and that one the zippered bags I keep in it holds coupons and gift cards. This past weekend this bag was out often as we ran various errands.
Recently I decided to take all of my reward cards out of my overfilled wallet and put them in a little yellow card holder inside my coupon pouch. We have so many of these darn things to keep track of nowadays that I loved the idea I found in a great Real Simple book to organize the cards in alphabetical order. It has been so helpful to keep them this way...Anthropologie right through to Yogurtland.
This reminds me, my mom (who actually gave me that cute polka dotted pouch for Christmas) and I were out at lunch several weeks ago now and she happened to show me the contents of her purse saying it was as, "Nor-ganized" as it ever could be. Only my mom would think to combine my name with organized.
I mentioned earlier in the week having to have a smoothie for dinner due to my mouth being numb from getting a cavity. It turns out that was my only option the next morning too, since three rounds of injections can leave your jaw feeling really tender. Between making those two smoothies I discovered my new favorite. It has a couple of redeemable health qualities, but mostly tastes like a great dessert.
Simply blend everything together and grab a straw.
Mac gets his braces off this morning. Last week, when he found out it was finally time, he cheered his way out of the orthodontist office excited for popcorn and gum. He hasn't had any for two and a half years, so I wanted to make sure he was stocked up. He has requested that I make my mom's recipe for caramel corn, but since I am teaching tonight I thought kettle corn could hold him over in the meantime. I also might have bought him five different kinds of gum.
Add in a new toothbrush head, some flossers and toothpaste and it will truly be a dental celebration around here this evening.
1. Tonight's sunset was not too bad.
2. Thank you so very much for the donations to the scholarship. I cannot adequately put into words how much it means to have so many of you join in to support the students I teach.
3. I couldn't help but tell one of my classes how much I liked them today. I joked with them that I was going to say love, but I didn't know if we were at that point in our relationship.
4. I remembered at 3:15pm I had a 3:45pm appointment to fill a cavity.
5. It took three rounds of novocaine injections to get my mouth numb enough. Then it was plenty numb and my dentist estimated that it would not fully wear off until 10pm tonight. So far it's 9:37pm and it's still numb.
6. We were supposed to have stuffed french bread pizza for dinner. Me and my numb mouth ended up with a chocolate banana smoothie instead.
This semester I am teaching a class titled, "Social Order and Social Change". As a new instructor, I have been consistently developing classes to teach for the first time. This particular class was more challenging, though, since I had never taken anything like it as a student. It was truly starting from scratch...and pretty intimidating.
I have come up with some crazy ideas to include in my class, but this one might win out for craziest. I thought there was no better way to teach social change then to try to make it. The student's main assignment for the class is the Change the World Project (if you'd like you can see the actual assignment here Download Change the World Project). Students need to figure out a societal need they are passionate about and try to work towards change. The goal of the project is to learn from the process, to make consistent effort towards trying to make a difference.
When I was describing the project plans to a friend she mentioned the "butterfly effect", which I loved. I included the concept in the first class meeting when we discussed the project. We have referred to it numerous times in the last few week and they laugh because I can't say it without flapping my arms a little. All jokes aside, it is a powerful idea...
I also told the students on the first day that I would be working on my own project. I could not ask them to put forth effort to make change without committing to the project myself. I did not give them the specifics because I have just been figuring this out myself...working on it as they work on theirs.
My project has to do with making change on the state school campus I work on. I have been able to speak to so many students who are fighting their way through school. Many are the first in their family to attend college. Almost all of them work to support themselves. I know from being a state school student myself, just a couple of years ago, that tuition has gone up at least thirty percent. Another aspect that inspired my project was the Shiver Report that came out in January. Its key finding was that college degrees are the strongest possible solution to solving social inequalities, "Higher education generates the momentum that wipes out inequity for generations to come."
My project is to start a scholarship based on the Change the World Project. I have worked with the campus scholarship office to create it starting next fall. I want to focus on the butterfly effect and ask for $5 donations...a small amount that can add up. I know we all have numerous financial responsibilities. Many of us need to figure out a way to send our own children to college. Therefore, it is understandable to not donate money so a perfect stranger has a little easier time paying their college fees.
With that said, if you do have $5 you would like to try to make a difference with, it would absolutely mean the world to me to collect it and create a scholarship for a student. In their application students will be asked to write an essay exploring the idea of social change and the difference they ultimately dream of making in the world. Thank you so, so much for your consideration in supporting a change I want to try to make.
Please use the link above to donate. I have opened a Paypal account specifically for the scholarship to collect donations in addition to what I will be donating from my paychecks this spring. Thank you.
1. Always love a salty sweet combo, so I want this toffee nut snack mix right now.
2. These watercolor flowers with simple stems are so pretty and I think I might actually be able to paint something like them.
3. We have an old ladder left behind from the orginal owners of our house...it's green and wonderfully worn. I have wanted to make into a shelf for awhile. Have to get the laundry room finished first...and find a place for it.
Over the years it's been "Starred" or "Cook//Make//Wish" and it's morphed again. My favorite part of all this Internet stuff is how many ideas there are out there, so I can't resist the chance to share three favorites from Pinterest every once in awhile.
Very recently I had a revelation...truly a ground-breaking discovery in my life.
You feel better when you eat well and exercise.
Somehow this has really eluded me for the last couple (maybe several) years. After being sick a couple weeks ago, I realized I would really like to just feel better overall. So I tried to cut back on sugar. I am a scary sugar-holic. I didn't think I could get through the day without having it a few times.
I tried though and it turns out I can. I haven't had relentless cravings like I suspected I would. I also have not denied myself completely, but one small piece of chocolate will satisfy me each day when before it was a couple of servings of dessert.
This change has me feeling much more calm and in control...just better overall. So glad that I might have finally figured this out.
This photo is just another example of how I will not be leaving my day job to become a food blogger anytime soon, not that meatloaf is the most photogenic food anyway. It tastes good and that is all that really matters.
These are basically giant meatballs, but they cook up much faster and have more of that delicious meatloaf crust. The very best part though is the sauce. The sauce recipe comes from an old Chicago high school fundraising cookbook my mom has had forever.
Mix together all ingredients and roll into large balls. You can get somewhere between 9 and 12 muffins per pound of meat. Place in a muffin tin sprayed well with cooking spray.
Mix together ingredients for sauce. Put half of the sauce aside to use as an additional topping for the cooked meatloaf. Use the remaining sauce to generously brush onto the meatloaf muffins. These are better when made a few hours ahead and the flavors have a little time to meld. Cook in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
I went to a good friend from college's baby shower this past weekend. She is one of my craftiest friends so I wanted to try something a little different when I wrapped her gift. I used fabric to cover each of the three boxes. I safety pinned everything where I would usually use tape with wrapping paper. I topped the gifts with three big yarn pompoms.
Thankfully she thought it was funny.
This past week marked my ninth year of blogging. Those are the blog banners I made throughout the year...it's always one of my favorite details when it comes to all this website stuff.
If we analyzed the situation, it would not be the strongest year of sharing projects, ideas and keeping things new. Starting my college teaching career took up a lot of my time and mental energy...but it has been the key aspect of the best year of my life.
Thankfully my blog isn't really about blogging. It's just life...no matter how it works out. With the best ideas ever or occasionally boring...I am just really grateful to have a place to document some of it.
And I can't thank you enough for reading along.
Our washer stopped working for good back in January after almost fourteen years of relatively dependable service. The dryer was hobbling along too, so it was time to buy a new set. Which meant it was time for a new laundry room, right? Please tell me you follow my logic?
We painted it pink back in 2007. And by "we", I of course mean Sean. He also built shelves and it's pretty much stayed the same since then. Almost seven years before I change my mind and want something new is an awfully long time around here.
But the time to repaint has come and Sean has been working on my new ideas on and off for the last month. I made sure to get before photos (broken washer and all) before he started and can't wait to fully update this little room.
I play this weird game with myself when I get sick, remembering how it felt before my head wants to explode with congestion. I will think to myself, "Remember when I used to be able to breathe through my nose? Gosh that was so nice. Man, I did not appreciate that enough."
Now that I am on the other side of what will hopefully be the only cold or flu this season (knock on wood) I feel like I have a new appreciation. It's so nice to be able to make dinner, or cross stuff off my to-do list, or head out to teach class tonight without worrying about how I'll get through it.
Granted, this will wear off soon, but it's feels good to realize I really like all these tasks.
I attempted a watercolor painting for Sean as his handmade gift for Valentine's day. He built and painted a wooden box pencil holder for me.
I know my banana shaped crescent moon and wonky stars could easily be beaten by any five-year-old in the artistic ability department, but I asked Sean to think of it as having a "whimsical" style.
Does that make it better? Probably not.
For the second year in a row we had to reschedule Valentine's Day due to sickness. This year it was only me, thankfully, and hopefully it stays that way.The flu totally got me last week. I tried to teach one of my first night time Introduction to Sociology classes with 102 fever. You can only imagine how well that went.
I came back to life on Saturday, so by Sunday evening we had our traditional fondue dinner. I have been using this cheese fondue recipe for years. We tossed everything onto the table and dug in (my mom joined us too) then we laughed over our handmade Valentine gifts for each other. Unlike past years the gifts weren't wrapped (we just closed our eyes), the mantle wasn't decorated, nothing was cute.
We still got to celebrate though...and sometimes it's good to remember that's what is really important.
I have an amazing talent for walking into a room, completely forgetting my original purpose and getting three other things done instead. For instance I walked to the end of the hallway to get a container to hold some paperclips...and a half hour later I finally realized I still needed a container to hold some paperclips.
That feels a little like life this week. I have my first evaluation packet due at the state college I teach at. I have heaps of tasks to complete for the cheer team. And my two night classes at the community college start this Wednesday and Thursday. I'll spare you the list of everything else.
We went to a local farmers market that I've wanted to check out for over a year. I didn't buy radishes (I've actually never even tried one), but we did get some amazing hummus, really fresh asparagus, and a couple bunches of flowers.
I may have already changed my mind on the color for the laundry room...after we bought the first color and Sean got a coat up. I am awesome like that.
Mac went to a friend's birthday on Saturday night. I sent him out the door with the obligatory teenager birthday gift cards that I wrapped up in a little fabric pouch. Those Catslife Press sentiment stamps helped make a tag in just a couple minutes.
After seeing the beautiful watercolored pie charts this past weekend, I had to try to make my own. I spoke with the person who painted them and she said she just drew out the lines, painted in between them and then erased the pencil marks.
Those messy lines coming together are my new favorite.
Sean and Mac dropped me off and went to eat pastries at Bottega Louie. I proceeded to walk into my version of heaven.
It was literally walking into the light. White brick walls with white curtains blowing in the sunny breeze. A room with beautifully arranged tables of food, watercolor pie charts, and hundreds upon hundreds of flowers.
I got to spend the next two hours learning the basics of building an arrangement.