Well Wishes...a homemade card shared on Wednesdays.
It's the evening of November 2nd, which normally would not mean a darn thing to me, but today has the slightest significance. It is my half birthday marking the final decent to the next decade. Forty is really looming now.
As age milestones go, I did not handle twenty-five well...the "quarter life crisis" stuff I had heard about on Oprah was totally real. Thirty was good...only mildly panicky.
I am going to try really hard not to freak out.
And I totally need to make scrapbook pages again.
I realized last week that I am pretty sure that November is my favorite month of the year. Thanksgiving is my very, very favorite holiday and I love all the building anticipation to Christmastime. November usually brings the first little breaks after the long semester haul. It finally (oh man, do I hope so) gets cooler out. And did I mention I love Thanksgiving?
Leftover Containers//2014 Thanksgiving Decorations//Fabric Napkin Rings//Thanksgiving Binders//Pumpkin Apple Bacon Soup//Paper Place Settings//My Mom's Stuffing Recipe//Turkey Wooden Spoons//Fabric Leaves
It is pretty darn clear that things are very rarely planned around here...that the motto has remained, "Live...Blog...Repeat" which means sometimes there are lots of ideas and sometimes there just aren't much of any.
During the couple weeks I took off from blogging earlier in the month (for all things cheer) I had lots of ideas...including the idea to make a planner page for blog ideas. So I did...and I wrote down my ideas of things to share...some of which I have already this month and some that I'll get to.
But we can now check "blog ideas PDF" off the list.
For the last three fall semesters I have surprised my classes with a little Halloween treat. I shared the idea during Eighteen25's Spooktacular last month and spent about an hour cutting well over a hundred out tonight to give my classes next week.
Here's the PDF in case you want to share an extra credit treat too... Tests Aren't Scary Cards
As a planner girl for almost twenty-five years (I got my first Franklin planner when I was a sophomore in high school) it is pretty darn exciting to see more and more cute stuff available...any I am a sucker for all of it.
I have a planner kit subscription and they sent me an entire extra month's kit when I mentioned just one item was damaged. I figured it's a great reason to share, so I actually packed up two little collections of planner supplies to share. Leave a "pick me" comment if you would like one and I'll email the random winners for their address on Thursday.
Oh and if you know of any other planner items I need...please share.
Although there is no possible way that I am the first person to think of it, as I was crafting a couple of cards over the weekend, it occurred to me to use a strip of washi tape mounted on piece of card stock as a small piece of patterned paper. It was because I think this Halloween tape is too cute. I made little strips punched with this idea, which I have used endless times now.
Took the dogs out this afternoon and snapped this photo underneath my nextdoor neighbor's trees...with the almost dead California drought grass on a fall day that is still way too warm. Can't stop those colorful fall leaves though.
I am thinking that I might be able to get ahead enough on schoolwork tomorrow that I might not have to work this weekend. That would be amazing.
Hope your weekend is full of something amazing too...
This is not exactly the most bloggerly (that's a word, right?) pretty photo, but this has been a key aspect of my life as a mom. Mac's binders...one for every year of school...started all the way back when he began preschool through the school district in 1999. The set of dividers has changed over the years from things like PT & OT to Cheer, but much has remained the same...the IEPs, a bunch of medical paperwork, and important stuff from school. Before any it can ever sit around (like today after we got his, thankfully all good news, progress report in the mail), these things get three-hole-punched and are easily filed away. Yay for compulsiveness.
Being finished with mini cheer camp and homecoming means catching up on all the other work.
While we were eating dinner (barbecue beer chicken quesadillas with gorgonzola and pineapple) I added everything together and realized I graded three hundred and ninety pieces of student work today. And now that I am typing that, I am realizing that it might sound like I haven't graded anything yet this semester. That amount was actually just last week's assignments from my four classes. No wonder I always am working.
My reward is going to bed a little early, watching a little tv and crocheting. I am working on a big, chunky, autumn-colored blanket.
Throughout Mac's four years of cheering we have hosted eight team dinners during football season. Usually each squad has their own dinner, but for the last three years we have hosted both the varsity and jv squads for the Homecoming dinner. It is amazing to see the energy (and make-up and hairspray) that forty plus cheerleaders can bring into a house.
Last year I actually had the idea for this year's dinner. It seemed like a crazy idea, but what's new around here.
I wanted to pack picnic dinners for each of them. Which had some practicality since we could feed everyone easily once the dinner started and everything was contained for them as they scattered around the house to get ready for the game.
And of course they had to be all school colors and cute.
We made turkey cranberry sandwiches, cut carrot sticks and cucumbers to go with a veggie spread, made ten pounds of loaded baked potato salad and red velvet cupcakes. I made little menus for each box explaining the contents.
Then we prepped the boxes.
The sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper, the potato salad and veggies each got their own little container, the cupcake was packed into a cup decorated with punched patterned paper, and a fork and mini spoon (for the cupcake) where bundled with a napkin.
The box was tied with twine and a tag and was put into the fridge until dinner started.
I am not going to lie, it was a good amount of work to get this all together, but once the dinner started it was amazingly easy. Totally worth the crazy idea effort.
Today was as good as a fall day in Southern California can get...by next weekend it is supposed to be 97 degrees again. At least it was really nice to have one day where having a mantle decorated for fall didn't feel like a joke.
This year's mantle was dug out of the fall storage box a few week's ago now. There's a framed fabric pumpkin from last year and a little felt leaf garland from seven years ago among a little collection of pumpkins gathered over the years.
Love that every year the mantle is a little bit different...2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010. Okay I'll stop listing all the years, but I did noticed that pretty much every single year I am bemoaning the weather.
Even though I mentioned that I wouldn't have much time to blog, I wanted to jump in for a minute this weekend. Mini cheer camp went great...Homecoming is next. I'll be gone for the week again, but will be back soon and will share if my crazy Homecoming dinner idea worked.
I gather some color combination of 31Bits bracelets to wear to work every single day, so I was super excited to buy a whole new stack a couple of weeks ago.
Speaking of work, it has been a little totally relentless to keep up with all the prep of three new-ish classes. I am pretty sure I have created twenty new group activities in the last five weeks. I finish each learning unit for the online class just a few hours before it launches for the week. And I am barely keeping up with grading.
Now the next two weeks are when the cheer team booster president situation requires the most effort...mini cheer camp and homecoming are both fast approaching.
So this photo of colorful bracelets might stay up here for a little while, but I'll be back soon.
Our favorite Mexican restaurant has the best soup. They even have fireplaces in the restaurant, so it is super cozy on a cool, cloudy day.
I usually make chicken noodle soup, but in the past year decided to try to concoct our own version of their chicken and rice soup. I usually like it with just a ton of avocado, so it's never been very photogenic. The last time we had it Sean added some tomatoes and cilantro (and the avocado I am barely willing to share) which made it look darn right pretty. A generous squeeze of lime and some tortillas on the side and this is one of our favorite dinners.
Chicken and Rice Soup with Avocado & Lime
Preheat oven to 350. Place large cast iron soup pot on the stove, pour in olive oil and preheat. Sprinkle chicken breasts generously with salt (and pepper if desired) on both sides and place in soup pot. Allow the chicken breasts to brown on one side in the olive oil then flip to brown on the other side-approximately 4 minutes per side. Place chicken breasts in an oven safe pan, with a small pat of butter on top of each and finish cooking in a 350 degree oven for twenty minutes. When chicken comes out of the oven, allow it to cool slightly then begin shredding it with two forks.
While chicken is cooking in the oven, add a small pat of butter to the soup pan (that still has the olive oil the chicken browned in) and add diced onion. Cook for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add uncooked rice, water, and 1 teaspoon of bouillon (reserve the other) to pot and cook rice (stirring occasionally) for twenty minutes or until liquid is absorbed. When the rice is finished add 64 ounces of chicken broth, the shredded chicken, and the reserved teaspoon of bouillon. Bring soup to a boil and then it is ready to serve. Pile into bowls with any combination of avocado, tomato and cilantro. Generously squeeze lime over each serving of soup and serve.
This summer I spent an afternoon making cards, which is why I have had cards to share each Wednesday lately. When I went to put them away in my card storage box there were plenty in there already, so I grabbed a stack to wrap up and share with someone.
If you're interested in having this package mailed to your house, simply leave a "Pick Me" comment and I'll email a random winner for their address on Friday.
Unfortunately, there are a fair amount of late nights around here when the school year is in full speed. Despite any late bedtimes, Sean is always up early to run or workout before leaving for school. So when I brought him lunch at school for his birthday a few weeks ago (along with these peanut butter bars...which I did not mess up too badly) I brought him some supplies...
Mint gum, mini cans of coke and a jar of peanut m&ms.
Now at least he is a little better prepared to put up with his night owl wife.
I have used this cake recipe time and time again (from the Cake Doctor) and add various things in like toffee chips or chocolate mints. This time I had a leftover bag of mini marshmallows so I tossed them in the batter and they melted into the cake to make it extra good.
Chocolate Marshmallow Pound Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup bundt pan generously with cooking spray. In a large bowl use an electric mixer to blend together cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil and eggs until well combined. By hand, stir in 3 cups mini marshmallows. Pour batter into bundt pan and bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan, on a wire rack, for 20 minutes. Run a long knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto the rack to cool completely. Or remove to a cake plate and serve slices while it is still warm.
Clothespins covered in washi tape (with tacks glued on the back) for my office wall.
In the grand scheme of school year weekends, this one was a really good one. Lunches and dinners are prepped for the week. Our master bathroom is clean, beds are freshly made, our house is dusted and vacuumed and our cars are washed (all thanks to Sean). The pantry, freezer and fridge are all cleaned out and reorganized. And fifteen out of seventeen things on my current school to do list got checked off. Granted the last two are some of the biggest, including recording a couple of online lectures. I finally noticed (three week's into the semester) that pretty much every time I share an example in a lecture (in person or recorded) I keep saying, "Or whatever the case may be". Those poor kids listening must think I am nuts.
Or whatever the case may be.
Some version of cinnamon harvest apple vanilla pumpkin spice cider candles have been burning constantly.
The iced salted caramel mocha consumption could easily get out of hand.
The mantle is decorated with pumpkins and leaves.
And the air conditioning is running 24/7.
Minus that last detail, it is almost like fall around here.
In fact, this leaf was in the driveway today after a bit of a rainstorm. (We will just ignore that it was actually 100 degrees here when the rain started.)
The first football game is tomorrow night and Mac's cheer coaches decided that this year the teams would have big and little sis match-ups.
Or in our case a Big Mac...since we're super cheesy like that.
Somehow Mac ended up being the only person on the team with two little sis's. It's almost like the coaches knew he and his mom would be totally into this gift giving thing. Because, now that I have been working with them for almost two years, the coaches are well aware of my endless pursuit of all things cute.
Mac and I immediately were thinking the same thing...a cheer emergency kit. We got little cosmetic bags and filled them with bobby pins, band-aids, hair ties, chapstick, a mini hairspray bottle, mints and kleenex.
And then they had to be wrapped up with a school colors pom pom, right?
This semester's class planner edition is starting to fill up fast. My favorite part is the inside cover page (borrowed from a cute screen saver).
Hopefully it works as a reminder that, no matter how much there is to do this fall semester, it's good stuff.
Wisdom teeth removed, finishing summer school, wedding anniversary, lots of cheerleading stuff, Sean starting his school year three weeks earlier, syllabus writing and rewriting and editing and double-checking and rewriting, college workshops, after-school coaching, the beginning of a senior year, Sean's birthday this past weekend, and that's it for August.
My new newly relocated office at school (including the chair I covered).
Um, this first week was no joke.
I worked everyday from 8am until 10pm.
I typed, "Thank you so much for your interest. Unfortunately, the class is full", in what felt like one thousand emails.
I sweat my way through a classroom barely having air conditioning on a 95 degree day. Super attractive.
I checked my online class constantly...terrified that it wouldn't work. (minus a couple small glitches, it totally worked)
I couldn't find parking, despite getting to campus three hours before my class. I ended up having to pay to park despite already purchasing a $65 parking pass for the semester. State schools are just the best.
I had ants crawling all over my stuff in the community college classroom. Apparently they are all through the building. Awesome.
And yet I still really, really love my job.
We can add the senior year official leaving for school portrait to yesterday's collection of photos. This was the first time in high school that he wasn't off to an early morning cheer practice before performing in the welcome assembly...since they scheduled it for the second day of school this year.
Mac's schedule includes culinary arts, digital photography, a life skills class and government.
I'm super jealous, I want to go to school with him to cook, take pictures, learn how to handle life and to discuss what the heck is going on with this presidential election stuff.
(Oh and I only started to tear up for a second...and Mac totally laughed at me)
I cannot imagine that tomorrow will be tear free as I take Mac's last first day of school photos for high school. I decided to further rip my heart out and dig through computer files to gather as many first day of school photos as I could. Where does time go???
And in continuing with my endless sappiness I also gathered these...laughing, jumping, yawning, rolling his eyes and always humoring his mom who has always insisted on taking dozens of photos.
And I am so glad I did.
You know I love some teacher gift giving...especially the first day of school. I have transferred most of my teacher gift obsession into making something for my department's administrative assistants and my office mates.
This year my brainstorming resulted in making a box of snacks. The gift was actually the boxes (which I have loved packing lunches in), but I thought it would be much more fun to give with snacks in them.
I suppose it was a pretty random idea, but this ended up being my favorite first day of school gift so far.
It's officially all school all the time around here now. The semester starts today. Mac starts his senior year on Wednesday. Sean's already been in school for what feels like months even though it's two weeks.
One of the many new school years tasks I finished up this weekend was to mail a little something to my niece in Iowa and my little sister in Oklahoma. I couldn't resist the patterns on these school supplies.
Where was this stuff when I was in 4th grade? Can you imagine if I had grown up with washi tape? I would have covered my room, my locker, and anything else I could think of with it.
Catching up on the last three days. After a day full of trainings and weeks filled with class planning, I spent late Friday morning using a gift card I had saved to get a massage and a facial...best idea I have ever had. Mac wandered around the mall while I was at the spa, so we met back up in time for lunch. We had a football barbecue to be at in the early evening. Cheerleaders were in charge of bringing drinks, plates and napkins. I held my breath hoping that families would bring enough (apathy can often run rampant in our group). I was so happy to see that I was wrong for worrying. After the barbecue we rushed to my nephew's first flag football game and went out to dinner with everyone afterwards.
Cheer photos down at the beach at 7:45am. Farmers market afterwards for a little fruit and hummus (sun dried tomato/spinach & feta). Sean's car is a little too old (thankfully he fixed it this weekend). Speaking of old, we finally replaced the last rickety old chair at the kitchen table. I was sentimental about it...as I am about pretty much everything. Mac went with his dad's family for the night so Sean and I got slightly gussied up and went to dinner. I realized I haven't really worn shoes all summer...which means next week at work is probably going to feel awesome.
The fridge before and after. It was cleaned out and refilled with food prepped for the week. Sean and I watched an episode of Astronaut Wives. I put together gifts I'll share soon. I have my class planner ready just in time for the semester to start tomorrow. I spent pretty much the entire afternoon on last minute details (with iced coffee of course). Love when Paddington smushes himself right next to me.
So, that's it...another week in our life captured. This time it felt a little different, since I am a little more used to capturing random details throughout the week to keep up with my Project Life book, but this still contains way more little bits. Love that it's always a different week on the calendar and that the busy week before I start the school year is saved to look back on. Can't wait for the next round...
Holy heck there was a lot of school training today...eight hours between the two schools. And one more CASA training tonight. My chair at the state school is always super thoughtful and gets us all gift bags, This time they had a mug and white board markers. When I had an hour at home between the two schools it was iced coffee and sitting in bed answering student emails, "No, I'm sorry, you probably won't be able to add my class next week" over and over. After the last training for the day I decided that I needed breadsticks and alfredo sauce...an amazingly nutritious choice. And when I got home, as is the case on most days I'm at work, I put away all the bracelets I have scattered around on my dresser from putting together a color combo for the day.
I got to have my favorite breakfast half a sourdough english muffin, "four" pieces of bacon which is two that I cut in half and a small cup of iced coffee. You know I have lots of school work to do when I find something to scrub down around the house...today it was the guest bathroom. I put together a greek salad to take to my cousins whose baby just had surgery. I had big calendars printed out again (like last year) to keep track of everything this fall. Here's the file if you need them too... Download End of 2016 Calendar I have them printed at Staples on 18x24 inch paper for $1.99 each. And between the treadmill, errands and a walk tonight with Sean I had a pretty active day.
A little treadmill-ing before and after I dropped Mac off at cheer practice. Didn't wake up early enough to walk as much as I wanted before leaving at 8:45am...which is pathetic. Handled cheer tasks while Mac was at practice. Spent the rest of the day working on my fourth and final syllabus. I tried the self timer and learned that my posture is atrocious. The kitchen had a sink stuffed with dishes. Icepacks on my neck and shoulder after hours at the computer. Finishing the day at an evening training with Sean.
Mac running out of the house after having to dash back in twice before leaving for registration. Senior year registration! Two hours of standing in lines later he was done and on his way to cheer practice. He hates the photo on his ID for some reason, but I think it's cute. I had pre-semester trainings to attend at the community college...thankfully they were good ones. Being up by school meant being able to grab a favorite turkey avocado sandwich to bring home for lunch. I had to be back at the community college for a late afternoon training too. We had a quick takeout dinner, walked the dogs a couple times around the block and I was off to a mini cheer camp meeting. Finally back home for a walk before being super lazy for the last couple hours of the day. I should have done some work...but oh well.
I received my order of thirty or so printed Project Life pages last week. I have been consistently making pages, but hadn't had them printed since March. It made me so happy to slip these into page protectors and see how many details have been captured.
On Monday I sent Sean a photo of my sad lunch alone when he went back to work (although the sandwich was actually really good and I am obsessed with those maui onion chips). And this week there were dahlias on the kitchen table that Sean brought home after grocery shopping.
It's the first weekend as we ease into the school year. And we'll probably spend a good chunk of it working on school stuff...but at least it'll be together, at home, in comfy clothes, with the air conditioner cranked.
There are just some ideas that you see and they immediately help you reach your "make sure life is cute and colorful" goal. Washi-taped tea lights was that kind of idea.
I have found it to be the most helpful for the fun stuff that we hope to do, like go to the movies or something. That way in case we can't get there (for instance we did not make it to the fair this week because Mac has had so much cheer practice) it's easy to move around to the future or easily take it off altogether.
I have a pack of them in two different sizes and would love to share a sheet of each, if you want to try them out. I can send them to three people...just leave a "pick me" and I'll email you next week.
Although my right hand is back to normal now (thank goodness gracious), last month I learned the last step of healing is similar to a sunburn. Peeling. Yuck.
I tried to think of an exfoliant to help it along and figured a salt scrub or something equally harsh would not be a good choice. So I came up with something I will continue to use well beyond burn healing, since it worked well and was really soothing.
I used my mini food processor to grind up some oatmeal and then mixed it with olive oil. All I had to do was lightly rub my hands together and rinse off the oatmeal. The olive oil stays behind and soaks in as a moisturizer. I kept a little container of the ground oatmeal and would mix a palmful with the oil each day. Even now that everything is healed, I have been mixing it up to use once or twice a week. Wanted to share the idea in case you need a gentle, but effective scrub.
Last summer I prepped for a fall semester full of classes I had already taught. This summer I am prepping for a semester full of classes I have never really taught. It has been a drastic difference in the workload...thinking about it, it's the most work I've had so far.
I get my first Introduction to Women's Studies class...woohoo! One school changed Sociology of Women to a new title, Sociology of Gender, and tried to tell me it's actually the same class...based on the female focused topics I had before, I am going back to the drawing board.
As for Intro to Sociology...I have taught it eleven times now, but this time it will be an online class (so much more prep!) and I volunteered to move my on campus class to an after school class at a local high school. As someone who originally dreamed of teaching in a high school, I am super excited.
I have been working every day for weeks and there is no end in sight. Thankfully I think it's pretty fun to come up with new ideas and organize what seems to be a million details.