Earlier this week we brainstormed this year's 4th of July party menu so grocery shopping could be done. We always have hot dogs, baked beans and potato salad, but I also like to check my Pinterest boards for a couple new ideas and couldn't remember what couple new ideas I tried last year. That's when I realized I really need to start keeping track of parties...since I often run into this issue with the different parties we host each year.
I should know better, because my Thanksgiving book is surprisingly helpful each year. Each party I always write lists, menus and notes anyway, but now they will be cuter and I'm saving them to refer back to. I also made a little spot to jot down anything I should change in the future.
I'll share each one as I make them. Here's the first one, barely in time, if you're hosting a celebration this weekend...Download 4th of July Party Planner Page
I have realized this week that everything is pretty ridiculously challenging without both your hands. I had this life lesson figured out by Friday morning and texted Mac to tell him, since he was out of town with his Dad...
"In case you were ever wondering, life is really hard with one hand. You are pretty amazing".
Mac's diagnosis of cerebral palsy has meant he only uses his right hand about 20% of the time. He has lived almost nineteen years with basically one hand. He is so good at it, that most of the time it's too easy to forget that he is accomplishing everything one handed.
My hand has continued to be wrapped up with burn cream and healing this week...Sean helps me clean and change the bandages a couple times a day. I have been really lucky that it doesn't hurt at all and is doing pretty well, all things considered.
I was hoping a patterned paper background would help make a stupid injury look a little cuter.
Last night I cooked a steak...seared it and then put the saute pan in a 400 degree oven. I took it out, put it on the stove, forgot the pan had been in the oven, grabbed the handle, lost my ever-loving mind from the pain, and went to the urgent care with second degree burns.
Since I will be one-handed for a little bit, there will probably be very little typing around here. I'll be back soon...
Tonight was our first concert in the park for the summer. We might not be able to get to many since both cities right by our house have concerts on Wednesdays and Mac has competition cheer team practice scheduled on that night. But Sean and I got to see a U2 cover band, break in the camping chair love seat he got me for Mother's Day this year and had a dinner that pretty much came straight from the grocery store.
I gathered together roasted garlic bread, turkey, salami, prosciutto, provolone, olive tapenade, goat cheese and crackers. Dessert was also picked up the grocery store...coconut macaroons and brownie bites. Then there might have been a bottle of raspberry hard cider too.
Last week I hosted the cheer booster board meeting that kicks off my final year as the president. I put together binders for the half dozen board members this year...which is one of my very favorite tasks. I feel that cute office supplies make everything better.
This week I am working on the welcome barbecue coming up on Saturday and the big fundraiser when we host a booth at the city's 3rd of July fireworks show.
It's taken two solid years and a 1,000 hours of work to feel like I might finally have a little knowledge and capability. My goal this year is write as many notes & lists as I can, so the next booster president is as prepared as I can possibly help them be.
With the Ten times Eighty-Two attempt (still going strong, although I inevitably missed a couple days already), I wanted a little journal to make collages (which was inspired by this project) or to smear watercolors around in. Some cardboard, watercolor paper, and loose-leaf rings turned into a book very quickly.
Hopefully I'll have it all filled up with "not art" by the end of the summer.
Last year's summer list was a bit of a bust, but that won't stop me from making a little one for this summer. Here are the few random things I would love to do...
1. Take off in the car and just drive somewhere for the day.
2. Making homemade pudding pops. Whatever happened to the jello pudding pops we ate as kids?
3. Learn how to play one card game. (Since I know how to play zero card games.)
It was actually last weekend that I noticed my phone photos were looking a little weird and cloudy.
So I grabbed one of the dozens of lens cleaning cloths that are around the house, since I have to wear glasses every minute of my life, and started carefully wiping the lens on my phone.
It's completely obvious, yet I never thought to do it. I wanted to mention it in case you might not have thought of it either.
Mac finished school Thursday, Sean finished school Friday, I start summer school Monday, and Sean starts summer school the following Monday.
The schedule is still way lighter though and I am grateful for that to start this weekend.
Weekend Brush Set from Life. Love. Paper
Mac's junior year meant taking a zero-period class, being on the varsity cheer squad, earning a 3.8 GPA in the first semester (we all have our fingers crossed because he has a chance at a 4.0 for the spring semester...his art class has been the nemesis), having his first job, being awarded as the outstanding junior from the educational support department...and, as you can see, a lot of hair growth.
I found out earlier in the week that today apparently is National Iced Tea Day. Between the three of us, we usually drink water (Sean), sparkling water (Nora) or milk (Mac &/or Sean because Nora thinks that's gross) with dinner. However since I love a holiday celebration, regardless of how random, I made iced tea to go with our turkey burgers tonight.
I picked some mint from the yard, tore off the leaves, rinsed them well and let them dry a little. Then I made a minted simple syrup by simmering one cup of sugar with one cup of water together with all the mint leaves. I let the syrup cool, strained out the leaves and poured it into a small pitcher before putting it in the fridge. I then brewed ridiculously strong decaf Irish Breakfast tea and stuck that in the fridge to wait for dinner.
I wonder what tomorrow's random national holiday is?
Actually I looked it up...it's National Corn on the Cob day...another good one, but we had fresh corn with those turkey burgers tonight.
One of the things I made for my mom for her Filofax birthday gift was a board for the back of the planner so there was a more even writing surface. I cut apart a cardboard box and covered it with patterned paper on both sides so it was reversible.
Did I mention when I purchased my mom a pocket planner that I also ordered myself an aqua patent leather one? I couldn't resist.
I actually made one for my full size planner too, since the board creates a much better writing surface.
June 4th until August 23rd is 82 days (if I counted correctly). That's the time between the spring semester ending and the fall one starting.
Even though I'll be teaching summer school and doing a lot of class preparations, if I am ever going to spend time crafting, now would be the time. So I have set a goal of just ten minutes a day doing something...anything crafty. Paper, stamps, photos, lettering, paint, yarn, coloring, beads, digital, watercolor, fabric and every other craft supply I've got will be pulled out at some point.
This everyday stuff is kind of a lofty goal and it might not happen 100%...but I sure as heck am going to have some fun trying.
Tonight I graded 75 cumulative finals, uploaded course grades, wrote up the analysis of my Student Learning Outcome data and wrote a letter of recommendation for a student. With those tasks finished up, my spring semester is finally done.
I have twelve days off before an eight week summer school class that starts on June 15th. It's at 8am and I am so excited to see what kind of hard-core, dedicated students are willing to sign up for an early morning summer school course.
With one class, I have no real reason to make a planner, but in addition to teaching I have three new preps for the fall semester. Having all these classes I have never taught before means a heck of a lot of work this summer.
So I have to do lists galore. A four page master to do list for the fall semester...
And then each of the eight weeks I have one page for the summer school class and one page for all the class planning stuff.
Fingers crossed that this little sunshiny yellow book is the key to me cranking out work this summer.
Just like last year, I gave little gifts to the cheer team booster board members to try to say thank you for everything they worked on this past year. This year I made up little boxes of cute office supplies with a pun about keeping everything together. Get it? Because paperclips, binder clips and washi tape can keep stuff held together?
Goodness gracious, I am cheesy sometimes.
We had one dad as a board member so he got blue office supplies to make sure the gift was extra masculine. I stuck a note on each box, wrapped them all up and stamped names onto a tag for each person. If you need to give a cheesy gift too you can download a sheet of Keep Everything Together Thank You Tags.
In 2004 we bought a minivan. We had one child and had plans for kids...and what's better for all these kids than a minivan?
Mac climbed inside of it for the first time and exclaimed it was, "Better than a limo!!!".
As you know, we never ended up really needing this minivan. Yet, we totally did.
Those things probably wouldn't have happened if this minivan had been full of kids.
After eleven years our minivan was starting to get pretty tired and was ready to be replaced. I spent a year thinking about the next car...any car I wanted...within reason of our budget of course. After many discussions, a pro & con list, and more discussions. I knew what I wanted my next car to be.
I want plenty of room for family and friends, I want more road trips, and I want to be able to come up with a crazy project and have room to get it home.
We researched and shopped around. We texted with a cars salesman on Saturday, which struck us as ironic since texting didn't even exist the last time we purchased a car. We negotiated and made decisions on the dozens of details and we climbed into our new car and set up Bluetooth. Any music I want can play through this car...which was 2015 magic when you've lived in a 2004 world.
Pandora happened to play "These Are The Days".
I cried as we pulled away from the dealership Saturday night. We drove by the old minivan in the new one. Mac grew up in that 2004 car. And, I guess technically, no one will be growing up in this one.
Except for me.
The cheer banquet was tonight (thank goodness because the RSVPs just about put me over the edge this year). In addition to all the other banquet planning tasks, I spent the week working on senior gifts, coaches gift, and gifts for the booster board.
Our coaches gifts couldn't be more simple...money. But, I couldn't imagine just handing over a check to each of them in a plain envelope, so I used some mini white lunch bags, a new stamp (my mom got me an Etsy gift card for my birthday), some fabric, ribbon and other crafty supplies.
This was way more fun to work on than it was trying to figure out synonyms for the word "recognition" so it wouldn't be in the banquet program a dozen times.
My love of planners comes from my mom, so a couple of months ago I decided she needed a totally gratuitous, but completely adorable Filofax pocket sized planner for her birthday in May. It is not exactly a practical calendar since it's so tiny, but I thought it be cute to have for shopping lists and various ideas while she is out.
Since I started a couple months in advance, I was ridiculously excited to finally get to give this to her.
In my Social Order and Social Change class we study the impact of food insecurity and what social change can be created with food. I have them read about Leanne Brown's "Good and Cheap" cookbook and we discuss what we can do to help. For instance here is a list of the most needed items at food banks...peanut or other seed butters, canned vegetables (low sodium), rice (brown), canned fruit (packed in water or juice) or natural applesauce, dried or canned beans (low sodium), whole grain cereal (low sugar), canned or boxed soup (low sodium), whole grain pasta, canned meats & fish (in water), healthy snacks such as low sugar granola bars, raw nuts or dried fruit. I have also had classes watch "A Place at the Table" which is very compelling (it's available on Netflix).
In addition to talking about the social change, we discuss the community that can be created with food. The class loved reading, "Friday Night Meatballs". And, as an example, I bring in food for us all to share. I started with an idea for broccoli apple salad from a recipe from Good and Cheap, then came up with a half dozen ideas on how to change it, and made up forty plates to snack on during class.
Broccoli Apple Pasta Salad with Feta and Sunflower Seeds
Steam broccoli until tender and set aside to cool completely. Cook pasta and set aside to cool completely. When both are cool combine in a large mixing bowl adding chopped onion, apple and feta cheese.
To make the dressing combine minced shallot, Dijon mustard, sugar, and white wine vinegar. Stream in olive oil while stirring continuously until dressing is emulsified. Add mayonnaise to dressing and mix in completely.
Toss the salad with the dressing and allow it to chill together for at least a couple hours. Add sunflower seeds just before serving.
I shared a couple weeks ago that I am more and more drawn to this glittery gold stuff and now I have reached a new level of sparkle.
Mac went to prom last weekend with a group of classmates. They were having dinner at a nearby restaurant and I could not resist putting together a couple of centerpieces, some sequined fabric and grabbing a big bunch of gold balloons to try to make it a little extra festive.
Sean spray painted the mason jars gold for me and helped me cut stars out of glitter paper to adhere double-sided to super skinny dowels from the craft store. Then there were the piles of white flowers...I will never tire of pretending I am a florist.
Metallic + sequins + glitter = I officially don't know myself anymore.
This has been a favorite side dish around here for years. I think of it as a lazy way to make risotto.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, add minced garlic and continue to cook on low heat for two minutes. Add dry orzo, coat in melted butter and toast in the pan for one minute. Turn heat to medium and add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add the Better than Bullion. Cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until orzo is tender and the broth is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the broth is absorbed before the orzo is tender, you can always add an additional splash. Finally stir in Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
"Mr. McIntosh" has been the category that I have clicked for ten years around here when it's all about Mac. The last time I clicked it was this past fall, therefore it's way overdue.
So may I brag about him a little? Actually, a whole heck of a lot? Please?
Okay, good, because I am going to anyway. Thanks for understanding.
We had Mac's IEP meeting this morning...his second to last one ever with senior year fast approaching. We have been so incredibly fortunate that Mac's high school IEPs have been a celebration of how hard he works. I have walked out of every single one beaming. Today was even better though.
I got to hear about how Mac takes a leadership role in the classroom. He likes to go up to the board to write stuff out and help his classmates work on various concepts.
My teacher heart was singing at the news. Not that Mac would ever, ever want to be a teacher like his nerdy mom and step-dad.
Then during the meeting Mac made the request to create an additional goal at his IEP. He wanted to work on money skills. The assistant principal said it was the first time she had ever been at an IEP where a student wrote their own goal.
Mac also has been in the district Workability program, working at the drug store around the corner from the high school for a couple months. He gets there early, he leaves late, he would rather keep working than take a break.
It's been true pretty much his entire life...no one will try harder than Mac.
He has been walking the few hundred yards to work, but today it was raining and he didn't have an umbrella, so I drove over to school to take him to work. It was a complete downpour as we pulled into the parking lot. He changed into his work shirt, ate his half sandwich and headed in.
So I got all sneaky mom paparazzi as he walked to the door and snapped this to remember today and how ridiculously awesome* he can be.
*Please remind me of this the next time he says something obnoxious.
Our master bedroom project is in a holding pattern until summer vacation, which has given me plenty of time to brainstorm crazy ideas. There is a possible bookcase, a spray painted strand of lights and then it needs a tapestry on the wall too, right? It's an upgrade from stapling buttons to it.
Do you want to know what an amazing daughter I am?
I made this card for my mom...and completely forgot to give it to her on Sunday.
Today is her birthday and I did not make a card...but I have a gift I have been working on for a month and I promise I won't forget it.
Happy Birthday Mom!
Well Wishes...a homemade card shared on Wednesdays.
I brought snacks to the last week of classes at the state college last week and one was a couple big boxes of my mom's chex mix recipe...which is the original chex mix recipe with one "secret" ingredient. Honey Nut Cheerios make this extra addicting with the sweet and saltiness. I also use Crispix instead of all different kinds of Chex cereal. Extra butter always helps makes it extra good too. I usually don't include pretzels, but I did this time to bulk it up to serve to 47 students.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Use a large, deep pan. I keep a disposable turkey pan just to make this. Pour all three boxes of cereal into the pan along with the pretzels. Mix melted butter with Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pour the mixture over the cereal and mix carefully. Bake for an hour, stirring the mixture every fifteen minutes. Cool completely.
Today included flower planting for my mom (I got the multi-pack leftovers) and wrapping up gifts to give her. There was a salad and cheese fries for a late lunch. And a teenager who I didn't have to ask to turn down his music a dozen times (just one), who wrapped up a cute gift...and actually said "I love you too" instead of the usual nightly grumbled response.
I mentioned we went to a first birthday party this past weekend and, of course, I had fun gift wrapping.
Here were the steps...
Sean planned two months in advance to take Friday off so we could relax a little. He and I cooked up breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs and bacon for a late morning breakfast. Sean, Mac and I tried (and pretty much failed) to to get a photo before we went to a great dinner on Friday night with my mom and brother. Saturday morning we were at an adorable sunshine filled first birthday party where I was surprised with a cake and gifts too...we have really thoughtful family friends. My dad flew in to Orange County in the early evening and had to fly out of LAX to the Philippines later that night...my sister hosted a pizza night in between the two flights. Mac takes present wrapping seriously...he painted the paper, then used a gold pen with a stencil. Sunday morning was my nephew/Godson's First Holy Communion. I was in charge of getting him out to the church courtyard for a photo with the priest who said Mass...then Caleb asked if he could get a donut and I teased him that the best part of being his Aunt is I can always say yes to the fun stuff.
Mac finishes his junior year of high school in six weeks or so and I haven't even scrapbooked his eighth grade graduation.
I guess I still am scrapbooking...a little, but I still love it a lot.
And I really wish I could spend National Scrapbooking Day making a bunch of stuff, but our schedule is pretty packed with other family events this weekend.
Although I still took advantage of a little crafty shopping this week and added a $25 gift certificate to my order so I could share with you.
National Scrapbooking Day falls on my birthday this year and one of my favorite things to do over the last few years is give a birthday gift. I wrapped up the little gift certificate tonight...
And if you need scrapbook supplies as much as I do, please leave a "pick me" and I will email a random winner early next week.
Happy National Scrapbooking Day!
I was making a few cards today and randomly reached for the ink pad to darken the edges of the cardstock...which I haven't done in about ten years...back then absolutely nothing was safe from a smear of ink on the side. We might be onto the second round of inked edge obsession.
I mentioned way back when I was making Christmas cards in 2013, that being a cheer mom has made me embrace all things sparkly more and more.
This year's banquet invitations are proof of that...wrapped in metallic vellum and gold polka dotted ribbon. It's funny that you can actually see the progression from absolutely no sparkle the first year, to a little bit last year, to this year. At this rate, next year might be all sequins and glitter or something.
Each invitation includes an RSVP card and return addressed envelope, like a wedding invitation. Working on this part of the invite is usually right about the time I wish we just did an Evite.
But when the stacks are done (49 total) it's worth it...and then I tried running the envelopes through my printer and it totally worked. This detail made me unreasonably happy.
Somehow, we are almost a third of the way into 2015...which means dates are starting to pop up for 2016. I used to just grab a piece of notepaper to start keeping track of what was already planned for the next year, but this time around I decided to make an official planner page.
In case you need to start wriitng stuff down too... Twenty Sixteen Planner Page
Of course the weekend, when I have an enormous amount of schoolwork to do, is the weekend I am just dying to make stuff. Here's a few crafts I really want to try...
I misplaced my flash drive this week. I just use it to take lectures to school and have everything backed up well at home, but I had invested the time to organize everything I needed for the rest of the semester which was a bummer. Until I got super lucky and found it. Now I want to make a tassel key chain to make it much less lose-able.
I want to make a crafty version of a dream catcher to hang in our room for no reason at all.
"I Make Things" came from this set that I loved so much I bought both the actual stamps and the digital version.
A photo popped up somewhere on Instagram a few months ago showing that someone had spray painted their plastic trashcans. After the work we did in the kitchen this past summer, I really wanted nicer looking trashcans, but couldn't find sizes that fit...and oh my goodness, are some of them pricey.
Sean was skeptical, but willing to take a can of spray paint to them for me. And it totally worked. The paint went on smoothly and has held up almost perfectly with daily wear and tear (the edge of the green lid has a tiny bit of chipped paint). It's nice to have two different colors too, green is recycle and gray is trash.
I think I need to spend some more time figuring out what else I can spray paint around here...
Last week I started teaching my second eight-week Intro to Sociology course for the semester.
I figured out the night before it was my 20th class...my 10th Intro class...which kind of makes it an anniversary, right? It's been an awfully quick two years.
I have to admit though, this semester has been tough. I have some super challenging students in three of my five classes. One of the Sociology departments I work for has decided that it kind of wants to micro-manage our syllabus writing. I have both schools presenting some scheduling difficulty for next fall. One school took away a class since a full time faculty member is switching their classes around. The department also mistakenly lost the classroom one of my classes was scheduled to be in, so I have a huge time gap in between two classes. And the other school has left me in a holding pattern for two months about teaching an Intro to Women's Studies course in the fall (although I just got an email this week...fingers crossed).
I am have been a total combination of frustration, grumpiness and hopefulness. Just hoping the tough stuff is ultimately going to be a good opportunity for growth and improvement. It just kind of sucks in the meantime.
Sean and I both never want to be the type of teachers that think the best reason for teaching is summer vacation, however I am not going to lie, I printed and grabbed a frame for this today.
Kind of ironic, since we are actually both teaching summer school...and I will have so much class prep to do that I will be working for most of the summer, but it's still a more relaxed time and I need it.