Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hanging Around the House and an Old Spice

I’ve spent the last few months taking care of some small projects around the house.  Even though I really want new floors and a new kitchen, these small decorating and organization updates settled down my need to update the house while costing just pennies in comparison.  Well, it didn’t really satisfy my need to redo the house, but I’m telling myself that it does.  After finishing these little projects I realized they all had something to do with hanging stuff on the wall. 

I’ve lived in this house for almost 9 years – 9 years next month actually.  Other than a couple of pictures I brought with me, my walls have been mostly bare.  After a couple of years of contemplating it, I finally pulled it together and utilized the pictures from my travels for the art on the walls.  Shortly after my first trip to Italy, I blew up a photo of Venice onto giclee and hung it in the dining area.  To add to that, I had three giclees printed for the staircase.  They are also of Italy – Venice, Burano, and Manarola. 

stuff 308 
In January of this year, I got this wild idea.  I found 12 of these great unpainted frames that I sprayed white.  I wanted to put some of my travel pictures in them and hang them in my guest room.  However, after going through the pictures I wanted to put up I had way more picture than frames.  So the project was put on hold until I figured out what to do.  I found the frames again and bought 12 more.  It took me until the summer to get the new ones painted and just as much time figuring out what pictures to put in them.  I had really wanted at least one of each place I’d been, but then some places, like South Africa and Italy, I couldn’t pick just one.  Anyhow, after enlarging some more in giclee, I finally narrowed it down.  BUT, the next obstacle was hanging these frames.  Being decorative there weren’t any straight lines to center and the thought of putting 24 nails into my wall didn’t sound good at all.  Then a miracle happened.  I found this picture hanging tape.  Holy cow! This stuff is brilliant!  So we laid out the frames on the landing, and I placed the pictures in where I wanted them.   
stuff 313
We blocked out a space on the wall and filled it in rather than lining up and centering these frames. 

stuff 314  stuff 329I think they turned out great.  There is enough room on either side for another column of pictures so I can add more as I travel.  

The guest bedroom which I had been working on since back in January is finally finished.  I added another giclee above the bed and a collage of Africa alone on one of the side walls. 
stuff 327
Excuse the wonky picture – the panoramic feature on my phone kind of warped the middle of it.

After putting up shelving in the office, my next goal with that room is to get rid of those ugly plastic rolling carts.  One of those carts has 6 drawers and 4 of them were filled with punches that I use for card making.
stuff 318 stuff 319The drawers were full so finding what I was looking for when I needed it wasn’t easy.  Ikea makes these metal bars to be used for hanging things up in the kitchen.  Come to find out, they hold paper punches rather well also.  Now they are all in a single file line with easy access.  

stuff 321
For the exact same reason, I headed downstairs to the kitchen. The ingredient side of my pantry had become unruly, and the spices were partly to blame. 

stuff 309 stuff 311I had put up some little shelves and lazy-Lucy spinning wheels to have more room for the little spice bottles but I found myself frustrated when looking for something.  Half the time I couldn’t find what I needed even though I knew I had it.

I found this on Pinterest, 91594f12f35b28969b144253c3edf408and it said to use a mop holder to hang spices on cabinet doors.  I scoured the stores and the internet to find mop holders that looked like this with no luck.  I took some time off from looking and then about a month ago searched Amazon for door-hanging spice holders and found them!  stuff 332 They’re so cool!  I love that I can see all the spices in one fell swoop, plus it freed up some shelf space.
stuff 336I found a few spices that I had doubles of – most likely because I couldn’t find the one I had in the cupboard and bought a new one.  However, I also must have inherited some because I found this bottle of ginger. 
stuff 330 Based on the description of use, this spice seems to be old.  Using the term “Oriental” to describe Asian food is quite outdated.  I can’t remember the last time I heard that term.  I guess it’s time to throw out your spices when they’re old enough to contain racial slurs. 

It’s been nice getting things off the floor and shelves and out of drawers.  Making things easily accessible on the wall has been so convenient.  Plus it took my mind of new floors and kitchens while I was working on the projects.  Now that I’m done though, I’m back to obsessing about my floors I’m afraid.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A First Thanksgiving Memory

Once November begins each year, most primary grade classrooms in the country spend some time teaching about Thanksgiving and integrating Thanksgiving related activities into the core curriculum.  Although the amount of time we spend on it has been greatly reduced since the focus has shifted to teaching to the standardized test – Thanksgiving isn’t on the test – it is important that, if anything, our kids understand the reason Thanksgiving is celebrated (well kind of now that Black Friday has seeped into Thursday’s holiday).  Anyhow, while reading a book to my kids about Thanksgiving last week, it reminded me of the time I visited the site of the first Thanksgiving.

When I lived in New England, I spent most Thanksgivings with friends as it was too far to fly home for such a short period of time.  However, my junior year of college, my parents flew east so we could spend Thanksgiving together.  After my last class before the long weekend, we drove south to the Cape. 

Plimoth Plantation was our destination for Thanksgiving that year.  It is a reenactment visitors’ center. 

In addition to the museum, you can’t go to Plymouth without visiting Plymouth Rock.  In fact, that is what I most looked forward to seeing. The rock itself has been moved from its supposed original site numerous times.  It is now housed in a memorial type structure with a viewing area. 

plymouth_rock2When we leaned over the railing to look at the rock – the rock that is such a famous US symbol – our eyes narrowed and our smiles dropped a little. 
plymouth_rock“That’s it?” I asked.  The great rock was not great at all, in fact it was quite small in terms of a rock landing.    plymouth_rock3Later, we found out that this was just a piece of the rock.  Between moves and tourists chipping away at it, this is what is left for visitors to see. I was glad to learn that, according to past writings, the rock had been rather large – maybe 15 feet in length.  Rarely have I been disappointed after visiting a famous landmark, in this case though the symbol is much more impressive than the real thing.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Favorite Day

Today was “Pajama Day” at school.  It is one of my favorite days of the school year because I have an excuse to wear my pajamas outside of the house.  The kids are also pretty cute when they come dressed in their jammies. 

stuff 307stuff 306

Even my naughtiest boy seemed less naughty today while wearing footy pajamas!

To add to the greatness, it was a minimum school day, on a Friday, before a whole week off for Thanksgiving.  I LOVE pajama day (and minimum days and Fridays and school breaks)!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Cups

A few weeks back, I noticed that my travel coffee mug was on its last leg.  It is a double-paned/insulated tumbler-like mug and some moisture has found its way in between the two panes of insulation.  I’m worried that there’s a crack or something and this will lead to mold. 

So off I went, hunting for a new mug.  On the first try, I didn’t have to go very far.  I found another mug, very similar to the one I was using, in the back of my cups’ cupboard.  I have no idea where it came from, but it looked to be in good shape.  After the first use however, I knew I didn’t like it.  Between the slide open lever catching all the drips in its edges making it a bear to clean and the coffee only coming out in a slow dribble, I decided it was time for a new one.

The second one I found, looked perfect.  It was plastic, so could be microwaved.  Sometimes at work, I set my coffee down on my desk when I arrive at school and don’t have a chance to pick it up again until the kids go out to recess.  It would be nice to be able to warm it up if needed.  The new cup also had a flip up cap without the edges so it would stay cleaner.  I got it all washed and ready for Monday morning’s coffee.  But it DIDN’T fit under my coffee machine.  Ugh!  After finding the receipt at the bottom of my purse, back it went to the store. 

And then another trip to a different store.There I found a darling cup that I was even more excited about.  It was ceramic, (so could also be microwaved), it had a great top, and it was the right size.  As an added bonus it was such a pretty color.  Sold!  Again, I got it all washed and ready for Monday morning.  It had a couple of stickers on it so I soaked them off as well.  The round sticker on the bottom came off easily enough for me to read the words on the bottom of the cup – Hand wash only, no dishwasher, no microwave.  All good things to know before buying a product…too bad they were all covered up when I bought the cup.  Off I went again to return it.  The store happily took it back even without the stickers.  They didn’t really care that I was duped into buying this cup due to that sticker, but I told them anyways. 

So three weeks (and three cups) later, I am no further along than I was before.  I can’t find a cup that is the right height, with a good top, that can be nuked for the life of me – even online which doesn’t ever fail me.  Argh!

Isn’t it funny how the most mundane things can cause such frustration?!?! While I am thankful that only a small problem is causing me frustration these days, I have spent entirely too much time on a solution… 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Seeeeeeeee, That’s Why I Don’t Talk to People

About a month ago while visiting with my friend Marcie, she told me about her recent trip down to San Diego.  She took the train roundtrip. On the way back home, she struck up a conversation with the man in the seat next to her.  To make a long story short, before detraining she had plans to meet up with him that weekend.  All I could do was shake my head.  The last thing I want to do is talk to a stranger on the train (or plane, or bus, etc.).  In fact, when I travel I bring things – headphones, a book, a hoodie to hide under, anything! – just so I don’t have to talk to the person sitting next to me.  It probably comes across as bitchy, but that’s not it at all.  While I won’t shut up am very social with my friends and family, I’m overwrought with nerves around people I don’t know.  It has mostly nothing to do with them, instead completely my own insecurities. 

Now, since I’m nothing if not introspective, I spent a lot of time after I heard this story thinking about this quality of mine.  Is this something I need to change?  Is being an introvert with people I don’t know making my life less full?  This past weekend, I mentioned this personality trait while chatting with some friends. A couple of us teased that on our next day off we should start taking the Metro back and forth into downtown, just to practice being outgoing with strangers.  While we joked, Elana (who also knows Marcie) chimed in, “But didn’t you hear?  That guy turned out to be a stalker.”  Excuse me? 

I hadn’t seen Marcie since, but apparently after a couple of weeks meeting up for drinks or a meal, he became uncomfortably clingy and started showing up to her house uninvited.  I texted her the next morning… stuff 200

Now, I can’t say that’s the reason I don’t talk to strangers, but for some reason I still feel a bit better about not doing so.  And thankfully, due to this change in events, the vacation train rides have been canceled. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

About Time

The movie “About Time” recently came out, and since it was a holiday weekend, I had some time to catch it with a friend.  When I first saw the trailer, I wasn't so sure I wanted to see it with its time travel premise.

I’m not really a fan of science fiction, even under the guise of a romantic comedy.  A few years back, I read The Time Traveler’s Wife and was so overly confused I didn’t even bother to see the movie (which funnily enough also starred Rachel McAdams).  However when I found out “About Time” was written and directed by the same person who made “Love, Actually” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, two faves, I agreed to give it a try. 

As it turns out, the time travel ended up being just a clever way for the main character, “Tim", to better understand life, love, and his family.  Some of the reviews I’ve read are hard on this aspect of the film citing errors in time travel logistics, but not being a time travel buff I didn’t even notice them. 

Although the story centers around “Tim’s” quest for love, I enjoyed the relationship between time traveling father and son just as much.  Bill Nighy played the off-beat but loving dad who broke the ability-to-time-travel news to his son when he turned 21.  I’ve been missing my dad a lot this past week, so the idea of going back in time to see a loved one after they are gone, just one more time, resonated with me.  Although that caused about 5 minutes of snotty tears where I frantically dug through my purse looking for a tissue.  It was very sweet anyhow. 

It’s been some time since I’ve been to the movies and even longer since I’ve seen a film that I would recommend.  I liked this one.  Other than the minor breakdown about two-thirds of the way through, it had some very funny writing.  I suspect, as with “Love Actually” and “Four Weddings…” it will get funnier after each viewing.  The writing is very fast and witty so catching all the good lines the first time through is difficult.  “About Time” isn’t a blockbuster and probably won’t be nominated during award season, but it is a very nice film.  Everyone walked out of the theater smiling and just in a good mood.  To me, that makes for a successful film. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Bubbla

During once-a-month science lab on Tuesday, the science teacher explained the upcoming experiment to my class.  I had a case of deja vu when one of the directions included, “We’ll go to the bubbler…”  “The bubbla?” I interrupted.  “Where are you from?”  You see, being from California which is such a melting pot of the 50 states, regional terms tend to cross pollinate.  For example, a carbonated beverage that comes in a can or bottle has varying names depending on where you live.  Generally, “soda” comes from the East Coast, “pop” from the Mid and North West, “coke” from the South, and “soft drink” from the South-East.  Here in California, I have heard and used all 4 terms equally, and have even combined soda and pop for soda pop. I now use soda almost exclusively, but that wasn’t until living in New England for eight years.  Anyhow, my point being that there aren’t too many terms heard while out and about in California that are terribly new or surprising.  “Bubbla” is one such word. 

Bubbler or bubbla (said with the Boston “r” that sounds like “ah”) is the term used by some for the drinking fountain/water fountain.  I’ve never heard it used except when living across the country, and not even very often there.  I dated a guy from Rhode Island that used it exclusively and then a smattering of others from New England who used it interchangeably with water fountain.  If I had not lived there, I wouldn’t have had a clue as to what she was talking about and therefore had to clarify for the kids that she meant the school drinking fountain. 

The science teacher, who has lived here for about 20 years, and I had a good laugh over the word and enjoyed reminiscing about other words that haven’t yet infiltrated their way into SoCal speak.  Some of my other favorite East Coast terms and their everywhere else equivalents…
highway – freeway
clicker – remote (control)
carriage – cart (grocery)
bureau – dresser
packie (packaged store) – liquor store
cellar – basement
rotary – traffic circle
grinder – sub(marine) sandwich
jimmies – sprinkles (candies for ice cream)
pocketbook – purse/bag
gravy – spaghetti sauce
quahogs – clams

It’s kind of fascinating that in the same country there’s such a diverse use of language for the same words.  In some cases, the words are as if we are speaking a completely different language. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

This Made Me Laugh

Often in 2nd grade, the kids draw pictures at home and bring them to school to give to their teacher.  I get them a couple of times a week.  Usually I get them at the most inopportune times - collecting homework, while meeting with a group, or talking with another student.  If that happens I take the picture, thank the child, and send them on his/her way.  By the end of the day, it ends up being displayed on the bulletin board, along with the others, for a little while. 

When I received a new picture today it was the same old story.  I didn’t have time to look at it right away so sat it on my desk until the end of the day when I picked up the picture to pin it on the board.  That’s when this one caught my eye…

stuff 305It’s been up there for a couple of weeks, but just today I noticed that, with the kids sitting in desks and our classroom’s room number, that the picture is of me!  I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what I have possibly worn to school that made her draw me as a stripper.  That is one short skirt, and I don’t think I’ve ever worn f&$#-me boots to school before. 

It’s pretty cute anyhow.  It gave me a good laugh, and kind of made my day.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oops, I Forgot…October’s a Little Late

Another month has FLOWN by.  How is it possibly November already. Before we know it – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then another new year.  {Sighs}   It all goes so fast.  It seems to go even faster when participating in the Kathryn Wheel’s Calendar Challenge.  Here’s October’s stuff…

stuff 408 stuff 410 stuff 411 stuff 412 stuff 413 stuff 401 stuff 402 stuff 403
Dick Blick was having a sale a few weeks ago and I came home with new set of Derwent’s Inktense pencils.  Ohhhh, they are pretty.  They work like watercolor pencils, only brighter. stuff 404stuff 405 stuff 406 stuff 407 
Happy (belated) November!

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Saturday 9 on a Friday Night Home With Laryngitis, but That's Better Than Projectile Vomiting

This has been a week!  Between Halloween at school, the day after Halloween at school, and two days of kids projectile vomiting at school I'm freaking tired but happy that it's Friday...even though it's a Friday night at home because I've lost my voice.  Anyhow, passing the time with a Saturday 9.

1) The Twilight Zone by Golden Earring is one of the first songs to see a bump in sales after its video was shown on MTV. Do you ever watch music videos?  Does MTV even show videos anymore.  I don't watch them unless someone sends me something to see on YouTube.  

2) Golden Earring is from the Netherlands. The average life expectancy there is 79 years old. Who is the oldest person you know?  The oldest person closest to me I believe is my aunt at 74.  Come to think of it, my dad would have been 74 coming up this year.  That's crazy!

3) The song's composer says the song and especially the video were inspired by the 1980 book, The Bourne Identity. The espionage thriller was finally made into a movie with Matt Damon in 2002. Do you have a favorite secret agent/spy? I LOVE espionage stories.  In fact, if I weren't a teacher I'd like to be a spy.  It sounds way more exciting than what I do.  Ludlum's Bourne books are outstanding, and I also enjoyed the Matt Damon Bourne movies, however they are NOTHING like the books.  Other than the name Jason Bourne they are completely different stories.

4) The song's title comes from The Twilight Zone TV show, which ran from 1959 to 1964. Are there any old shows that you enjoy watching in reruns?  The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Dick Van Dyke, I Love Lucy, MASH are all good ones.  

5) "All guys cheat on their girlfriends, so yeah, I forgive him." Sam heard a young woman say that into her phone as they waited in line at the drugstore. While Sam is always surprised by how much personal information people share in the public, that's not what we're concentrating on this morning. Do you think that it's true? Do all guys cheat on their girlfriends?  Hmmmm, I think there are some guys that always cheat on their girlfriends, but no, I don't think they all do.  

6) Whenever Sam goes to the grocery store she picks up Snausages  because her dog looks at her with sad eyes when she tries to reward him anything else. What product has your brand loyalty?  I don't know, whatever is on sale.

7) Do you have a piggy bank or a coin jar?  The removable ashtray in my car is full of loose change.

8) Sam knows that she's always supposed to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days, but she sometimes forgets. What do you know you should do, but sometimes don't?  I know I should drive the speed limit and that I should be more patient, but I don't do either very often.

9) Retailers report that sales of Halloween costumes for grown-ups are strong. Since Halloween was earlier this week and there will be parties this weekend ... What's your costume for Halloween 2013?  If you aren't dressing up this year, tell us about one of your favorite outfits from a Halloween gone by.  
I didn't dress up this year.  In years past, I can't seem to get it together far enough in advanced to come up with anything creative.  For years, I dressed as a baby with pjs, pigtails, and slippers.  More recently as a tired teacher with pjs, a bathrobe, slippers, and a pencil in my hair - hmmm, maybe there's a theme there with the pjs and slippers.

Happy Saturday!  And I'm positively giddy that daylight savings time ends this weekend so I get an extra hour to spend in my bed!