The closet in my craft room will soon(ish) be a built in couch. This means I need pillows...lots and lots of pillows.
The closet in my craft room will soon(ish) be a built in couch. This means I need pillows...lots and lots of pillows.
I do not drink coffee.
We don't really have a coffee maker...although we store a super cheap one out in the garage cabinets in case we are having a party. I have also been known to ask others to bring coffee and make the coffee since we have pretty much no clue about it. Sometimes I forget to even plan that and my poor siblings have to run to 7-11...like they had to on Easter morning.
However, I have been addicted to Starbuck's iced mochas (with only half a shot of espresso) for way too long. So I guess that means I kind of drink coffee.
Since I sort of do and do not drink coffee I have no idea how to make coffee and therefore I was intrigued when I learned about Trader Joe's coffee concentrate. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and now there is no going back. A splash of the concentrate (because remember I do not drink coffee), a squeeze of chocolate sauce, a single pump of vanilla syrup, milk and some ice cubes and I have got a drink that tastes too good and is tempting to drink too often.
Even though I don't really drink coffee.
I have been lucky enough to have a craft room since we moved into our house fourteen years ago. Sean still likes to joke that every other box we moved in with was labeled, "craft room".
At first I was in this small bedroom with it's unusual indoor window and double doorway, then I moved to the room down the hall that is now the guest/wrap/gym for four years, and then I came back again to this room six years ago. It's the best little space.
Being the compulsive re-arranger that I am, there have been frequent readjustments over the years. That means I have had a link to photos of my little craft room on the blog sidebar that have been outdated for awhile now. In the last year I've done little things like covering the couch to big things like a large standing desk and couldn't help but move other stuff around too.
I mentioned several weeks ago that I have some new crazy craft room ideas. Granted, it is time to finally admit this is no longer quite as much of a craft room as it once was. Teaching prep and cheer booster president-ing (because that's a word) are usually happening a little more than making stuff, so that will be reflected a little in the new set-up.
It is all officially starting tonight...Sean's taking stuff down off the walls and filling in the holes as I type. But before it all changes here is a look at how it has been...
So these are the official before photos. Unlike the laundry room before photos from back February that I still haven't shared an after version of, hopefully I will have after photos in a few weeks.
As I mentioned earlier this week, Mac's cousin graduated from high school and we went to a party for her this past weekend. I am so exited she'll be attending the state college I teach at in the fall. And since I recently spent six years as a student, I put together a kit of everything I found to be supper handy.
I included this note...
Mint gum to help you stay awake during a boring class
A mini stapler to make sure your assignments are always stapled in case you have a mean teacher like me who will take points off. And you can be someone else’s hero when they forget to staple their paper.
A mini hole punch so you can put class handouts in your binder
Hand sanitizer to keep germs away
Kleenex so you don’t have to use toilet paper from the bathrooms and you won’t be the student constantly sniffling in class
A flash drive to save your work from the library computers
A bright pink flash drive holder so you don’t forget to take it with you
Carabiners for your flash drive holder and one to hook your car keys in your backpack so they are easy to find when you are tired from a long day at school
Pencils for note taking and scantron tests…with extra lead and erasers.
A set of bags to keep stuff organized in your backpack
I packed it all up in box for her to store the extra supplies and wrapped it (and then forgot to get a picture of it wrapped).
All of these things might be a little random, for instance I don't usually give Kleenex as a gift. Despite that, it was super fun to brainstorm all of these little details and, hopefully, this "kit" will help her be well prepared.
Mac's been going to Disneyland a fair amount this year since we surprised him with an annual pass, but Sean and I had not been there in almost seven years. Sean and Mac had received free one day park-hopper tickets for volunteering with the cheer team at a 1/2 marathon last year, so we went on Monday for a fourteen hour day of all things Disney.
Mostly the food...the three of us tried a ridiculous amount of food.
Sean and Mac laughed at my inability to draw in an animation class...I insisted that I can't help but be an abstract artist. My sister met us for a couple hours with our nephew and nieces to make a trip over to Tom Saywer's Island together. We rode a few rides, saw a parade, a couple shows and simply sat on a bench people-watching.
Oh and we ate...did I mention that?
We went to a party for two high school graduates this weekend. One is Mac's cousin and the other is the oldest son from their neighbors two doors down that they are super close with. Since the neighbor is a teenage boy Sean and I do not know terribly well we went with the safe gift...cash. I have done this before, but it was a little less work this time.
Instead of rolling up little dollar diplomas, I just stuffed twenty-five dollar bills into an eight-ounce mason jar. They are so packed in there they practically pop out when you open it. I punched out a circle of cardstock, used my typewriter for the front, and hand wrote a note on the back. Some twine in the high school colors and the gift was all set.
Last week, all of this was waiting when Sean and Mac got home from school. I had a little too much fun with buckets to celebrate summer starting. They both got water blasters and bubble wands. Then Sean got a bouncy frisbee and bocce game. Mac got a dice game and also a pair of shoes he has wanted since he worked hard to earn all "A"s and "B"s this school year.
I made sure I had a bucket and water blaster too...have to make sure I am prepared for water fights in the front yard.
I know pretty much everyone is out of school for the year, but here's the "Happy Summer" tag just in case you are still wrapping up any end of the year gifts.
It was a mess. It had a pile of receipts waiting to be entered into our budget spreadsheet. There is a file with 501C3 paperwork for the cheer boosters and paperwork from a meeting I attended last night. Scattered around are at least six random scraps of notes waiting to be written in my planner...I even had phone numbers and notes written on the back of a piece of turquoise striped wrapping paper. There was a second glass of iced coffee that I had no business having and a small mason jar of vitamin D that I have to keep out to remind me to take since my levels have been low.There were pens, pencils, three items to mail, my phone, paint chips and a laminate flooring sample I picked up while dreaming at Home Depot earlier this week.
I'm am writing this about twelve hours later and, thankfully, the desk is completely cleaned off.
This is it...summer vacation starts later this week and I am out of my mind happy about it. Mac and Sean will have a couple weeks off before Mac starts cheer practice and Sean teaches summer school. Yet even with practices and a little school, the schedule is still pretty darn relaxed. Here's the list of what I hope to get to this summer...
Figure out three vegetarian dinners
Make a batch of popsicles
Read actual books...maybe on the front porch...with filled "summer glasses"
Play a round of water games like when Mac was little
Crochet while aimlessly re-watching a few episodes of Friday Night Lights
Build a fire in the fire pit
Buy a 4 drawer file cabinet, paint it a fun color, and fill it with everything I need to teach five classes next fall
One of the counselor's at Sean's school is getting married this summer so they had a shower for him today. We purchased a big cutting board they had on their registry...which I could have easily come home and wrapped in one of the too many papers I have collected. I decided it needed to be wrapped in dishtowels instead.
Ten years ago I got a sister-in-law. We are married to two brothers that live almost 2,000 miles apart.
I have only been with her in person seven times in these last ten years...we have probably spent around 24 days together out of the last 3,652.
Yet, she is one of my very best friends. We started emailing each other when we were planning their trip out here for Sean's birthday and seven years later we have continually emailed each other almost five days a week. Mostly about nothing and completely about everything. We have shared every happiness and every stressor.
She mentioned the word, "sistership" in one those many emails and it has stuck.
She is celebrating a ten year wedding anniversary today...but I just wanted to celebrate the ten year sistership anniversary too. Love you Steph.
A couple photo notes...It rained on her wedding day in Iowa and the girl from California was the only one with an umbrella. I don't know if that makes me wonderfully prepared Midwesterner or a total wuss California girl who needed an umbrella. And, yes, one the photos includes the great black eye of 2010.
I have been a fan of yoga mat flip flops for the last couple summers, but last month I tried on a black and silver pair of this brand and was amazed. I am an old 38-year-old lady that loves some good arch support and these really have it. I know they're not cheap, but they are surprisingly worth it.
Next I want this lemon and grey pair.
I present to you, yet again, proof that I am the worst food blogger ever. I should have styled a plate or something to create a "pinnable" image of this recipe I concocted over the weekend, but I decided to snap a photo with my phone and sit down to eat it right away instead. Therefore this chicken might not look like much, but it was surprisingly good.
Brown Sugar Dijon Grilled Chicken
Flatten the chicken breasts between two layers of plastic wrap. Combine the remaining ingredients, adding as much salt and/or pepper as desired, in a shallow baking dish. Place the chicken in the dish making sure to cover both sides in the mixture. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Grill the chicken over low flame until it is cooked through.
This is a small recipe since two chicken breasts will easily feed the three of us dinner, so you can always double or triple the amount. I served the chicken with homegrown, sauteed summer squash with grated parmesan cheese, fresh corn cut off the cob and sauteed in a little butter and we tried this rice dish...which turned out to be really, really good.
We had some loooong cheer booster board meetings this past school year, partly because we could easily get off topic a little and, thankfully, laugh together a fair amount of the time. One of those times was when they teased me for sipping water out of my mason jar mug...wondering if it was moonshine to help me get through the meeting.
When it was time to come up with an idea for little end of the year thank you gifts, I decided everyone needed a "moonshine mug" in school colors.
I ordered grommets and straws from this shop, then Sean drilled a half inch hole in each jar lid.
I added a note and we wrapped them up. A mason jar could be a little tricky to wrap...but not when you make some fabric bags.
I have been chasing families down all week to gather last minute RSVP's for tonight's cheer banquet.
I do not really have anything nice to say about that process (how can people not respond?!?), so I will leave it at that.
The senior gifts are wrapped...the thank you gifts for the board members are done...and I have a few last photos to add to the 12 minute slide show after I take them at the end of the year assembly this morning.
Tomorrow, May 31st, wraps up my first year of being booster club president. It's been an invaluable learning experience to say the least.
And since they decided to re-elect me, Sunday June 1st, is the beginning of my second year as booster club president. Here's hoping that I might know what I am doing now.
We barbecued some tri-tip this weekend, along with lots of corn cut off the cob and twice baked potatoes. These potatoes very well might be the first real thing I ever learned to cook when I was a teenager...you know, right after hot pockets and macaroni and cheese. So that means almost 25 years of twice baked potato making now...and they are still as good as ever. This is my current "recipe", but it really is a throw things together kind of a dish.
Twice Baked Potatoes
Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for one hour. Remove potatoes from the oven and carefully slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop each potato into a bowl. Combine hot potatoes with all the ingredients, reserving half of the the shredded cheese.
After smashing the potatoes together with the ingredients salt and pepper as desired, scoop mixture into a buttered casserole dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to the oven for 10-20 minutes until the cheesy crust is puffed slightly and golden brown.
Tomorrow, to kick off the holiday weekend, I am catching up on grading. I just added it up and I have eighteen assignments to get entered from the three classes I still have at the community college...and that's all from this past week. At least everything is organized into neat piles...these bow binder clips are my new favorite thing.
We usually get my brother-in-law a gift card to his favorite remote control car store for Christmas and his birthday every year. Now if someone got me a gift card for one of my favorite stores like Anthropologie it would make me awfully happy. Regardless, getting him a gift card time after time kind of made me feel like I wasn't trying hard enough.
So I asked my sister for a list of his favorite beers, Sean and I read up on them, spent a little too much time in the individual beer bottles aisle, and put together a dozen different bottles of new beer for him to try based on what we knew he liked.
That's a decent gift, right? But then I decided the gift had to look cute too. The carriers the beer came in were completely covered in ads for the store, so it would have been like rebuilding an entire box to cover them up, so we ended up at the dollar store for a container. We quickly found a bucket and got in line and then it occurred to me...balloons.
I added some curly ribbon when we got home and we had ourselves a party.
I am always, always on the lookout for solutions for my curly hair. It is very fine, turning gray (I'm trying to hang in there and not dye it...we'll see) and at risk for being frizzy.
There is also a random item that has helped, using jersey material to dry my hair. I have been a turbie twist fan for years, but read somewhere that smooth jersey could cause less frizz than terrycloth. I bought two half yards of printed t-shirt fabric and cut them both in half. The stretchiness of the fabric makes it great for wrapping around your head. Granted, it's not terribly absorbent. Since I do not have a ton of hair, it's not an issue.
I don't need four "towels" for my hair. So if you want to try it. I have a piece of each pattern to share. Just leave a "pick me" and I send them along to a couple people on Friday. Oh and if you have any curly hair tips, I would be so happy to hear them.
I wanted to keep track of planting notes for the tomatoes to try to figure out what works best for them, so I made up a sheet with a place to staple the marker (I finally took them out of the ground when I put in the new garden markers) and write down how well they grow and produce.
So far, so good despite the hundred degree temps this week.
And if you are keeping track of some gardening this year, you can download these 2014 planting note forms too.
I've said before wrapping gifts for my mom is my favorite. Honestly, I am a little bit of a horder when it comes to wrapping paper...some of those colors and patterns are just too good. I am always happy to use the best stuff for my mom though.
Happy birthday Mom...can't wait to celebrate with you today.
It's is the end of the semester at one school and there are just a few weeks left at the other, but I am already gathering resources for next fall. Here are three that I can't wait to use in various classes...
Crowdfunding as the Middle Class Version of Panhandling...challenges our perceptions of asking for money.
Why We Are More Optimistic About Ourselves Than About Our Society..."optimism for me, pessimism about we".
I have discussed how useful it can be to wrap gifts in fabric bags before, and it continues to be the quickest way to make an awkwardly shaped gift look cute. One of the teacher's in Sean's department is having her second son and they had a little celebration earlier this week. We bought several small infant toys to keep handy in a diaper bag...all different shapes and sizes. Half a yard of fabric sewed into a super simple bag and the toys were wrapped and ready to go.
I took this photo last Thursday when I cranked through grading 150 papers and got my desk cleared off. It was partially fueled by the humongous free birthday drink I redeemed at Starbucks that afternoon and it was an exercise in sheer determination to not have that much grading hanging over my head on my birthday. I actually got home from class that night and stayed up grading the work that night's class had turned in so that I could really be done. The clock struck midnight on my birthday and I was grading...joking that it was my birthday gift to myself to get it done.
Thankfully, right now my desk looks like this again after another full day of work. Tomorrow ends the semester at the state school, although I have a final to give for one class on the 16th. Tomorrow my Order and Change class meets for the last time. They have been presenting their Change the World Projects over the last three days of class and it has been better than I could have ever imagined. It has been incredibly inspiring and sometimes emotional to hear what students poured their hearts into...as a class we have all been brought to tears a few times already. Tomorrow we just have a few presentations left and then I will present my project. Thanks to the generosity from a couple dozen of you, and some of my neighbors and friends, I was able to give out a $300 scholarship for the fall semester. I am hoping to continue to grow the scholarship in the future, but then also take on another project along with my new batch of Order and Change students in the fall.
I hosted the last meeting for the cheer booster board tonight...elections are next week so this was the end of our gatherings for the school year. To celebrate and thank everyone I made a Cinco de Mayo dinner with shredded beef soft tacos, corn cake and cherry lime-aid. I also needed a dessert that could quickly be made ahead of time, so that I could get back to work on preparing for the actual meeting.
I went with one of my stand-by ideas...a trifle. This time it was a caramel brownie cheesecake one.
I baked a pan of brownies to crumble up. Then I mixed together one softened block of cream cheese with one tub of cool whip. I layered both the brownies and cream cheese mixture with crushed Skor bars and a light drizzle of store bought caramel sauce. It seriously is the easiest dessert to make.
And we really needed the sugar to discuss all things cheerleading related.
Since Saturday was National Scrapbooking Day I spent the day celebrating. I was working my way through the end of 2012...the big stuff like a 15th anniversary and the little stuff like a bunch of parties. Amazing to think it was eighteen years ago now that my mom gave me my first scrapbook supplies. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.
Now that it has been three years in a row, one of my favorite blog traditions is a giveaway on my birthday. This year I have my favorite planner binder (you can see mine here), a cute roll of masking tape and pens in fun colors. They are all wrapped up and ready to share.
Just like last year, I would love to see links to one of your current favorite items or you can always leave a quick "pick me". I will email the winner on Sunday morning to find out your address...please make sure you have linked an email address that you check often.
Summer vacation is approaching (thank goodness), which means my mind is starting to swirl with ideas. Last summer it was the backyard, this summer it might be a little craft room update...that might not be so little. The words "make our own couch" and "standing work counter" have been said. And white...I am craving the perfect shade of white walls.
Can't wait to see what these ideas can turn into...
Now I can correctly identify the thousands of tomatoes I hope to harvest this summer.
I did a little blog updating over the weekend...a new navigation menu and sidebar images. Also, way down there on the sidebar is a link to subscribe to the blog feed. I had received several emails asking about one, and finally figured out how to get that started.
Just like my around my house, I really love when a little reorganizing project is done.
This weekend, Nora Griffin...
Took a calligraphy class. She will never be able to write her name as beautifully as it was on her class supply kit, but she enjoyed trying.
Made up New England turkey burgers, roasted red potatoes and zucchini gratin to have for dinner early this week since she no longer has time to cook on weeknights with a class from 3:45 until 7pm. Later this week we're having apricot chicken.
Did not get up early enough to see her husband run the Redlands half marathon for the third year in a row...which means she missed him coming in 2nd in his age group for his best finish ever!
Tried to get ahead on two week's of class planning since she managed to assign student's turning in 230 papers this week. Every single class is turning in a paper that needs to be graded and the eight week class is turning in two.
Someone did not plan that very well.
Late last week Mac was a nervous wreck trying out for cheer because he really, really wanted to earn a spot on the Varsity team for his junior year. When the results were hung up in the front of the school on Friday night I snapped this photo. And Sean captured this...
I will never, ever forget the seconds that he was running towards me. He smacked my head from running into me so fast. He was sobbing while saying, "I made Varsity" a few times over.
Could not be more proud of him.
As someone who has loved putting together teacher gifts for years, now that I am the teacher, I love putting together thank you gifts for those that help me. Last year for Administrative Professionals Day I just brought some cookies in. This year I gathered supplies and made some foot soak. I used this idea, but when I could not find lime essential oil (and only had a day to get this done in time) I went with Lemon, Sweet Orange and Clove...which are supposed to be renewing, brightening and comforting.
I gave it away at both schools I work at and, now that I am at the end of standing in a classroom for nine hours total today, I really wish I had some to use too.