Calendars are here!

As I mentioned we created a calendar of 12 photos that went to the District Science Fair as a fundraiser to get more point-and-shoot cameras for the digi photog kids.

The calendars have come in and my sister has sold some already to her teachers, which is awesome, but I still have some available for sale if y’all are interested.

The cost is $20 and I’ll cover the cost of shipping.

If you are interested just respond to this post and I’ll reply with my Paypal info.

Right now, I have 9 available, but if more than that many people are interested we might do another run.

In the meantime, I found a good deal on Amazon over the Christmas holidays and bought Sprog a new camera so his old one is being donated directly to the kids. I also pointed out the deal to my sister so she bought 2 cameras (which will hopefully be covered with the fundraiser) for them too.

I’m so excited that we are continuing with this program and will be able to help even more kids get involved as we have more equipment for them to use.

Our next project is a photography contest at one of the local wildlife parks which they did really well in last year and I’m hoping will be the same this year.

in the baking spirit

Yesterday we made time to do our annual baking and decorating of Christmas cookies with the fam.

We went over to mom’s armed with a bag of cookie cutters (thanks for the snowflakes Alice!) decorative sugars, sprinkles, sugar cookie dough, Santa hats and reindeer antlers and I proceeded to roll out and cut many trays of cookies. Connor cut out one tray of cookies but everyone else mainly waited for the decorating bit of the program.

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Sprog looks so thrilled to be wearing this thing, does he not? He did amazing with his cookies though! Kid’s got a real talent for cookie decorating.

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Course, he took his seriously and didn’t do things like putting dead eyes on Santa…or worse.

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Like the shit cookie my bro made. Doesn’t it look delicious?

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Connor went the route of putting all the shit on the cookie. He of course couldn’t finish it.

My sister, twisted in her own way, posted this on FB with the caption “candy cane, or?”
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She also got my brother while he was passed out in a chair in the living room
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and posted it on FB too. HAHA.

One of the best parts of cookie decorating for me is that we leave them all at mom’s and that I am never even tempted to eat any so I don’t feel like crap later with a sour over sugared tum, I just have fun with the decorating :-)

encouraging a child to learn

Some of the digi photog kids

My sister teaches in a school district that could be considered less than stellar. There are metal detectors at the doors, the kids have to carry mesh back-packs, they aren’t allowed lockers and must wear uniforms to school. They are also given a complementary breakfast and .10 lunches because that is just the level of poverty of the greater majority of her students. Sometimes there are far greater disadvantages than just the poverty levels of the kids and sometimes there are just some bad apples as well.

She’s been through some riots. She’s been through some lock-downs on campus. There have been some even scarier moments in her ample career with these kids given all the insane changes happening in Texas education, but she still tries to engage them and keep them somewhat interested in learning. It helps, I’m sure that she has the Pre-ap and GT kids but even some of the kids in regular classes seemed really interested in our project today, which is encouraging, given the conditions and situation.

Our project, for the past few years, is to use digital photography as a way to introduce and strengthen science concepts with her kids. I volunteer after school and on weekends to teach them how to work with a camera (I have two point-and-shoots and she has two as well and then whatever cameras they hopefully have-which can mean upwards of 40 kids trying to use less than 8 cameras) to capture physical and life science concepts. My sister, of course, handles all the science aspects. The photos are then printed, matted and entered into Science Fair and also into a photography contest at a local park (if they so choose).

The kids are so incredibly grateful and polite, it just blows my mind every time. They gave me flowers and a card today for my help and one girl gave me a hug. I also get a hug every time a kid from last year comes back to visit. Seeing them at the local arboretum is so heart-warming/wrenching it was like Disneyland for some of the kids (of course not all of the kids were so sheltered) they couldn’t imagine something so beautiful, well-tended and manicured being free to the public.

Today I went to the school for their in School Science Fair where we judged their photos and picked the kids that will go on to the District Science Fair in a few weeks. Some of the kids didn’t come to any of our group sessions and their pictures really showed it, which made me feel good to a point, I didn’t want any of the kids to feel like I wasn’t a value add for them (ACK PROJECT MANAGEMENT REARS IT’S UGLY HEAD) but I don’t like any kids in that kind of situation to feel worse. When I wandered the room “judging” it was more talking to the kids about how they got the picture they got and quick tips about what they could do better, how they could try it differently in the future, if they wanted to.

There are several kids that have a natural talent and several more that worked really hard at getting a good picture. I am really proud of the work that they are putting out there. I can’t wait to see how they do at District. I really hope they do well, it will be such a great esteem boost!

They’ve done some fundraising and so far they’ve raised enough to get one new camera (or maybe some used ones if we hit a pawn shop or something) which is awesome, I mean every little bit helps. Some teachers inquired about buying prints, but no one came through on that end once my sister actually offered it, hopefully that changes and the kids will get more cameras, it’s a bit of a goat rodeo to work with the small numbers we have, but you do what you can.

and just like that, it’s back to real life

Lately we’ve been sort of social, demented and sad but social, right? (movie quote can’t help it)

With “hermit mode” the normal MO around here hasn’t really been all about getting out much but since The Blathering we’ve been this crazy old-timey version of ourselves. The ones that actually have social type plans outside of the house with people other than each other.

The hubs has had work happy hours. I’ve had volunteer work (more on that later). We had friends over for game night, met them out at BW3 and babysat the adorable daughter of one so they could all go to that Breaking Dawn POS (No offense to y’all that like it but my opinion will not be swayed 😉 )

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Yes, I will do this dorky crap in public
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I’ll do near anything to make a kid smile
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Including finding The Fresh Beat Band on Netflix and plying her with Nilla Wafers

We’ve both done dinner with a former elementary school pal of my husband and his wife that he reconnected with at the Halloween themed wedding and who happens to live like a a mile away (which I totally stressed about the potential awk of but turned out to be really enjoyable). We did our traditional trip to Santa’s Wonderland the day before Thanksgiving.

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It’s of course very old-timey and Texas themed even with the lights everywhere and they aren’t all about the vegetarians (baked potato was cooked in brisket grease served with bacon even though I said no meat and the BBQ sauce had MEAT IN IT, OMG) so this is what I had for dinner
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A giant S’more. They have a fire pit and roasting forks and you get to make them yourself. I also had a huge bag of Kettle Korn and some coffee. Healthy up in this piece.

On the way out the door, we ran into my brother’s ex with our nephew so the boys were able to play for a little bit before we headed home.
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Thanksgiving was SO MUCH FUN that I was drinking Jack Daniels Honey over ice at mom’s later. We had to hit both families in the same day so our day was 12 hours long, required 2 hours of driving and I did cooking on two days so that I could bring things to both houses but at least be able to eat dinner at mom’s.

Nieces and nephews were cute as always.
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Although I didn’t get any pics of Luke and Connor from T-day because they were off playing at the park when we got to mom’s and I was too busy helping with dinner when they got home.

Saturday I had a wonderful 4 hour brunch with Andrea who had come into town to see her folks. It’s so nice to get to hang with a blogger, because that never happens here, but even nicer to hang out with one and seem to get along so well. I felt bad talking her ear off, though, like I should come with a “BIG TALKER” warning label.

We had big date night-ish type plans the rest of the weekend and were thwarted on Sat night because I got a monster headache and Sun because the hubs thought he was coming down with the dreaded man cold. This weekend is Santa Pub Crawl and our first ever attendance to that particular drunken festival so that should be…something.

And now I think we are reasonably caught up AND I used a whole lot of words and pictures to make up for my absence. Score!

Halloween 2011 and other stuff

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I shared the inside pics of the house today on Style Lush and as soon as my voice comes all the way back, I’ll do a vlog to put up here that gets more into the details.

I really love how everything turned out this year so be sure to check that out!

As an update to the Sprog/Barbie/Mum sitch, they broke-up on Sunday so no mum will be purchased or made. Sprog was SUPREMELY upset when it all went down but she handled some things REALLY POORLY and he felt like he didn’t want to deal with it anymore. Hugely mature of him to make a choice that made him unhappy in the moment but is better for him in the long run.

In other Sprog news, we got his first progress report this year and he got ALL A’S AND B’S!! I seriously could not be more proud of him and we are all working hard to maintain it. He has a flat $50 waiting for him if his report card comes in looking the same way.
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In shop news, I’ve added 3 new necklaces (one has already sold) and 3 new headbands to the shop in the past two days. I’ve got some pins in process and will be steadily adding more items to get ready for the holiday season. If there is anything you are looking for in particular please let me know!

something deadly this way comes

My sister is a teacher…in Texas…where our Governor apparently feels that education is less important than leaving our HUGE rainy day fund alone. I don’t tend to get political on my blog and I’m not really going to now but suffice it to say that being a mother, to a kid that isn’t getting the same education that I got, and being a sister to a teacher that teaches BY CHOICE in one of the poorest districts we have around…I get irritated. Just a wee bit.

I also try to help her however I can. I’ve graded projects, papers, I’ve helped her get materials. I volunteer on a consistent basis to get her kids into using digital photography in their science class. I have gone up after school and worked with a group of kids on whatever little POS point-and-shoot cameras they had (and what few me and my sister scrounged- 15 kids sharing 5 cameras? NOT IDEAL) and took pictures for a digital photography category in science fair. Her kids took 2nd and 3rd!! I couldn’t be more proud. (I think someone also got an honorable mention and she got a banner for her school) A few weekends ago a small group showed up early on a Saturday morning for a nature walk in a park to work on a digital scavenger hunt and photo contest (the park is holding the contest, the hunt is for class) and I went to help the kids with their pictures and spot the items they needed.

Now, I know my Arizona wildlife. I know my Arizona Desert Biology (even took it as a class in high school natch) what I don’t know is Texas wildlife. The great outdoors of Texas hates me and the feeling is MOST DEFINITELY MUTUAL so when I saw a snake along the path sunning itself, I naturally pointed it out and we started to take pics. I bade the boys back to a reasonable distance, prevented them from poking at it with sticks (WHAT THE HELL CHILDREN?) and kept my ADHD nephew (7 yrs old by the way) in line of specific spots by planting foot prints in the brush that he couldn’t pass. The snake got agitated as the boys got rowdy so I tossed them out several times and even though it struck out, it was coiled on viney branch thing so it didn’t actually get close but hey, what do you know? That snake was deadly poisonous.


This is a Copperhead, in case you ever happen to be wandering around in Texas. Babies are THE MOST venomous but the big guys are no laughing matter. Be careful! (excuse the screen-grab of my pic, I was too lazy to do a proper export)

This is where the “The More You Know” flashes across the screen

:)

another year older

Today is my birthday and I am currently fighting THE WORST effing cold I have had to deal with in a long ass time. UGH.

The birthday wishes I have received this morning have gone a long way to helping my mood, however. I have a large internet family and I really don’t know where I would be without y’all. xoxo

Both of my scarf swap buddies have received and LOVE their scarves and that makes me thrilled beyond measure. I so love giving people things that they love. I really and truly enjoy selecting something for someone and having them be pleased with it, that includes gifts, decor (have a decorating question? ask away!) or our reader questions on Food Lush or Style Lush.

Sprog is struggling a bit with how to be more thoughtful, more aware, more conscientious of others. I am struggling a bit with how to help him learn that trait. Taurus is not known for its ability to change (he’s still a Taurus, forever a Taurus) and can be very mule-headed, or bull headed as the case may be. We had a total battle of horns this week where-in he got grounded and his ass handed to him and yet, when he has an issue with his dad later in the same week, he’s texting me about it. I know that no matter what issue he and I have, I am his closest ally, his closest friend, his closest everything…so I feel even moreso responsible for helping him be and stay on the right path in all things. Teenagers, man, who knew?

Also, he’d like you to know that boys hate it when you say that they are like your little brother, so ladies take note, that is not a compliment and is like the BIGGEST INSULT KNOWN TO MAN.

I am sticking with dressing every time I leave the house, so that resolution is going well. PLEASE feel free to join the flickr pool AND POST PICTURES TO IT. I feel awkward being the only one posting. KTHNKS.

Reminder Scarf Swap: SHIP BY TOMORROW!

I would love for everyone to share pics of them in their scarf after they get it, I am happy to host and post!

and then he shook his fist at me…

It’s FINALLY winter in Houston. Last night was 29 degrees and it’s currently 34 outside, which means it’s time for the hubs and I to have our annual winter thermostat wars. You may have seen my call for your winter thermostat setting on twitter last night. When I put that post out there, he made sure to specify that I not sway y’all in anyway with any further information, just put a poll out to see what y’all keep things set at, he also wants me to supply him with not just an average but a mean and mode as well. HOLY HELL.

Listen. My husband is a freaking REPTILE. Cold is not his friend at all. Last night’s little dispute included a tirade wherein he informed me that he’s a homeowner who is not homeless (obvs) who should have a nice cozy warm house, not be freezing cold in his own house (shaky fist optional). People, our thermostat had just turned down to 66 and we have a DOWN FREAKING COMFORTER ON OUR BED. DOWN. He bundles up when we have the house at 68 and grumbles about it. Meanwhile, I am nearly sweating my ass off at night trying to sleep. Last night I kicked the comforter off all together and slept under the sheet only. I want it COLD when I sleep and then bundle under a heavy comforter, not warm and toasty AND under a comforter of toasty warmth. UGH.

We also argue over ceiling fans (him off, me on full blast) he has a woobie for the couch that is a faux shearling and today he wished we had a newer laptop so he could work from home in front of the fire. I am of the mind that you can always put more on but there is a point where you just can’t take any more off and I would rather be in a sweat shirt or under a cozy blanket than sweat. I hate sweating. Ick.

this year I intend to

Here’s a list of various things that I really want to do this year. That I intend to do this year.

I only accomplished a paltry amount of last year’s list. I shall do better this year. I am so committed, in fact that I will be printing this out and putting it in a place where I can see it, last year was a little too out of sight out of mind.

I’m also committed to loving my smaller house for it’s uniqueness instead of being unhappy about it’s lack of space. We honestly shouldn’t need a huge amount of space and we have a lot of crap that we don’t need that should be culled, a lot of crap that should be stored better/smarter and some really cute outdoor entertaining spaces that are crying out to be used.

In The Kitchen
1. Cook more from my cookbooks
2. Try a new vegetable or a dish I have never made, tasted or heard of at least once a month
3. Actually cook all those things that I have bookmarked from tastespotting
4. Re-paint the cabinets (they are starting to show wear) and properly seal them this time
5. Cabinet hardware (to prevent the wear)

In The Office
6. Re-arrange the tables and storage situations
7. Keep the desk clear
8. Get all the shop stuff organized and keep it that way

In The Bedroom
9. Keep the damn window seat free of clothes so it can be used as designed for a change
10. Paint the bathroom
11. Tile the floor
12. Clear out old clothes and clutter in the closet
13. Figure out vanity situation
14. Figure out necklace storage situation
15. Your counters. Nuff said
16. Real curtains for the window seat area

Life In General
17. Get back into habit of walking dogs and stick with it
18. Ride your bicycle
19. Teach Sprog to drive
20. Get Sprog to do volunteer work at least once, preferably more than once.
21. Hopefully continue to grow the Etsy shop
22. Host a brunch
23. Host a family game night with my family
24. Have more parties in general
25. Do more fun things around town, not just our normal
26. Travel with friends
27. Get another stamp in my passport, get Sprog a passport and get him a stamp too
28. See Hogwarts (Universal Studios Orlando)
29. Get and learn to type on an Iphone (I still have a qwerty phone)
30. Get a hot stone massage at least once
31. Read at least 10 books (I used to be such a reader, I don’t know what happened to me)
32. Go camping again
33. Get a canvas of Sprog in Monterrey from last year
34. Decide what to do with the family photo wall in the hallway
35. Get my Steve Madden boots fixed (both pairs)
36. Get another tattoo
37. Find a new make-up that I love
38. Actually do what I always say I am going to and buy something I want when I see it instead of waiting and being sad when it’s gone
39. Yoga. SERIOUSLY. YOGA.
40. New curtains in the living room
41. Get sewing machine fixed
42. Paint the bench on the porch
43. Get the table from Ikea for the back porch
44. Host an outdoor party/bbq and play bocce/ladder ball/horseshoes or washers
45. Raised garden beds on the kitchen side yard
46. Compost bin
47. Chickens?
48. Add a new city to our visited list….Seattle, Portland?
49. Show the boys New York
50. Send people random gifts just because I love them
51. Get to Arizona to see Jamie and her baby (who won’t be a baby by then *sigh*)
52. Ditto for Maglet and Katie
53. Attend a blathering
54. Do something about the blank space between the bricks and the house on kitchen side patio
55. See live music somewhere
56. Attend a Central Market or Sur la Table cooking class
57. Get to the Farmer’s Market
58. Tackle the garage
59. Dentist, colonscopy, ENT…all appts that scare the piss out of me
60. Replace cookware in the kitchen that is falling apart and is frankly unhealthy
61. In addition to the scarf swap, host another swap of some item later in the year. (ideas?)
62. Get back into the habit of weekly family game nights (the three of us)
63. Smile more
64. Let certain people get to me less
65. Hopefully build new friendships? Making friends at this age is harder than I ever thought imaginable.
66. Replace the light fixtures: guest bathroom, master closet, master bath-toilet area
67. WOOD FLOORS

I’m sure I’ll add to this list as I think of/do things because there are few things that a Capricorn enjoys more than crossing things off a list.

christmas at the movies

I mentioned this on twitter, but I realized the other day that somehow Better Off Dead hadn’t made it onto my required Christmas viewing list. I’m not sure how this is possible given the whole grabbing the face and saying the word “CHRIST-MASS” scene, so it’s since been added, but I wonder what other movies I am neglecting.

My Required Christmas Viewing List:
Christmas Vacation
A Christmas Story
Love Actually
Harry Potter (all of them say Christmas time to me until they jacked the whole schedule and started with that release in July, effing Twilight)
Better Off Dead
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

This last one is a variable. Sometimes I read the book, sometimes I watch the movie
Little Women

Yes, I realize that Elf is not on that list. Did you know I can’t stand Will Ferrel? The ONLY movie he’s in that I have ever liked is Talledega Nighs: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

This year we also watched the new A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey. (I also can barely tolerate him) I liked most of this adaptation, except for the ghost who is Father Christmas, that bit was annoying.

Do you have any required Christmas movies? Any that I should add to my list? Want to tell me off for my haterade when it comes to Elf? (my husband does all the time, it’s okay, I can take it)