Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spring has Sprung...sort of!

Submitted by Linda
So this is the view of the pouring rain and hail, outside in our backyard. It's another one of those crazy so-cal rainstorms that cause traffic problems and flooding in the burn areas. For me, I'm just happy it's happening on a weekend, which most people don't understand. But on a rainy weekday, I'm wrestling with 24 energetic 5 year olds, with no recess breaks for the kids, or their teacher!

Because February ends tomorrow, the teacher in me is all about removing any signs of valentines, and moving onto spring/Easter decor. Step one is this project:
I saw this idea in a magazine a few years ago, so I started blowing out eggs a few weeks back. I ended up with only 6, so I bought a bag of fake eggs at Michael's. When they're all mixed together, they look AOK, though I will continue blowing out eggs as the season continues. I found this wire basket at HomeGoods, and put a short, chunky vase in the middle. I put some excelsior in the bottom, and scattered the eggs around the vase. Add fresh flowers....and now I have my touch of spring!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Big Shot Bookmark

Submitted by Linda
I recently participated in a women's retreat with a great group of ladies from my church at the beautiful Calvary Chapel Murrieta Hot Springs location. It is a great venue- if you ever have an opportunity to be there for an event, go for it!

I wanted to make a quick and easy giveaway for each of the ladies, to follow up a session on the topic of grace. So I pulled out my Big Shot and my bookmark die. I didn't think I ever needed a Big Shot, but when I received one as a gift- I was so excited! I was able to quickly crank out these bookmarks, add some flowers and a ribbon. To add the word, I borrowed Rachel's Whimsical ABCs, which she has ready for acrylic mounting (this means I'm able to stamp the word "Grace" in one stamp, because I can align all the letters on one acrylic block - see above). I added a clear label on the back with a scripture, and voila! A sweet reminder!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Star Sighting

Submitted by Michelle
Those of you who are Facebook friends with me may remember that about a month ago I spotted Steven Tyler of Aerosmith in my Bikram Yoga class and posted it in my Facebook status. Well hang on to your hats celebrity lovers because I've done it again: star sighting number 2 on a Saturday night in the desert!
David, Celeste and I met our friends Carrie and Sam and their high school aged daughter Samantha at Ruby's Diner for dinner. Upon entering the restaurant who should I spy but Larry the Cable Guy. I'm not sure if he was filming a commercial or a spot for his TV show but there he was in all his hillbilly glory!
I knew I HAD to get a picture for the blog and was so pleased with myself because I actually had my camera in my purse. Celeste and David refused to go up to Larry with my and ask for a photo op. Luckily Samantha wasn't shy and I didn't have to go it alone.
Larry was really congenial and happily posed for photos. When I thanked him for letting us have a picture with him he said, "Thanks for asking."

When I got back to our table David pointed out that I don't actually know who Larry the Cable Guy is...which is true. I mean, I've seen him many times while cruising the channels at high speed, but I've never really watched his show. And I have to admit that I'm not sure if his show is a sitcom or a drama or a reality show and frankly, I don't care. I'm just glad to have another celebrity sighting under my belt and a photo to go with it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Get Away to Sierra Madre

Submitted by Michelle
Over the President's Day weekend Celeste and I took a little road trip to Sierra Madre to visit my brother Michael, his wife Alyse and my niece and nephew, Anna and Max. Max and Celeste are the same age and they love talking about Club Penguin and playing on the computers. Though Anna is 2 years younger, she joins in the fun too and adds the girly element by hosting tea parties and creating elaborate story lines for the kids to act out using her collection of Polly Pocket dolls.
The dress code for this morning tea party was pajamas and included water in paper cups and Pez appetizers.
Celeste and I drove to Sierra Madre on Thursday night so we could take full advantage of our Friday off from school. Michael and I took the kids out to dinner while Alyse attended a drawing class at Art Center. (You may remember that my sister-in-law is an extremely talented artist. I wrote about her here.) In usual kid-style, all 3 amigos had to sit on the same side of the booth and order the same beverage (milkshakes).
Max gives Island's two thumbs up.
The kids also insisted on sleeping together on the lower bunk of Max's bed. I didn't mind since this meant I got Anna's bed all to myself.

On Friday, while I indulged in some much needed retail therapy at Nordstrom (love that place!) Alyse and the kids decorated cupcakes.
Not wanting to be outdone, I did a little baking that afternoon too, but of the savory sort. I had loads of butternut squash from my farm box, so I made a heart shaped butternut squash and leek tart to go with our grilled chicken dinner. The kids preferred the cupcakes but Mike and Alyse did appreciate my effort to be healthy.
Saturday morning was filled with basketball and cheerleading. Max plays in a basketball league at Pasadena Nazarene Church. Doesn't he look great in his uniform?
Pre-game photo on the stairs at the house.

We sat right behind the team bench so Celeste could see everything and I was able to get some good shots of Max and Anna.
As you can see, I'm a proud Aunt who can't seem to stop snapping photos of the cute kids!
The kids were sad when we had to part ways on Saturday afternoon, but before leaving town Anna indulged Celeste with a manicure in the back seat of my car.

The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lik-o-meter!

Submitted by Linda
When I saw the "lik-o-meter" stamp in the new Occasions Mini Catalog from Stampin UP, I thought it was so cute. Michelle wasn't so sure about it, but she ordered it for me as a gift. I love the "you don't annoy me" and "stalker levels"! I made this card for my favorite valentine (Craig), and when Michelle saw it and loved it! This stamp, the designer series paper, and the cute epoxy brad are all still available through Michelle's website.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocolate Morale Booster

Submitted by Linda
I've written before about the great school I'm so lucky to be a part of here in Claremont. Even in these tough budget times, I'm thankful to "work a block from my house, doing something I love". Yet, all the time and energy spent on 'non-teaching' issues can be a drain on folks in education. Sometimes it seems like there's nothing we can do so solve such a big statewide and national funding problems. But, we can always spread joy and sunshine!

I have a new teaching partner, Nancy, who was actually at my wedding (23 years ago) and is responsible for my getting a job at Sumner. I was thrilled this past fall to add someone of "front row quality" to my team. One thing I love about Nancy is that she is always willing to work on a party, or an event to thank volunteers, and so on. So we got our minds together to find an economical way to let our staff know that we all are working hard, continuing to do what's best for our students, despite the lack of funding. Here's what we came up with:
We wrapped 96 Hershey bars with cute paper, an avery label, and some Stampin Up details, so that every staff member will get one. We're adding a big banner in the staffroom, with sticky notes where people can write encouraging words, or what they're thankful for at school, etc. Combine all that with some donated Starbuck's coffee, and voila! Morale Boosted!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Clearly" A New Valentine Idea

Submitted by Linda
Because I'm attending a conference at the end of the week, I needed to have my valentines for my students all ready for their party on Friday. I always like to do something beyond store- bought valentines for my little friends, and this year, Rachel came up with something so clever! These skinny bags are from clearbags.com and are the perfect size for sliding in a neat row of m&ms. I added a couple of scallops, and an image from my stamp set (it's called "Riveting"), and tied it all together with a bit of contraband ribbon. This again confirms my belief that anything and everything looks better in a cello bag!
So cute, and inexpensive!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Happiest Day This Year! (So far)

Submitted by Michelle (with most photos by Linda.)

You may remember that Celeste had major back surgery during the summer. In an attempt to make the hospitalization more palatable, I promised to take her to Disneyland in the fall, once she had recuperated. Fall came and went, as did the holidays, and I finally made good on my promise at the end of January.

Linda came with us, of course (!), as did Tommy and Nick. (We needed some muscle to push the wheel chair and lift Celeste from her chair onto the rides.)
We also met our fun front row friend Lisa there! She works for Disney and wanted to check out some of the newest attractions.
The last time I took Celeste to Disneyland it was all about the princesses. This time, though Celeste still wanted to see the princesses, she also was interested in the roller coasters and other rides which thrilled Tommy and Nick to no end. The very first attraction we went on was Space Mountain and the boys were amazed at how quickly we got to the front of the line due to Celeste being in a wheel chair.
Another fun ride was Autotopia, which surprisingly enough the boys HAD to go on even though they can drive real cars.
The princesses did make it into our day and Tommy and Nick were great sports about waiting for Celeste to get her face painted and then getting in line for an hour to see the princesses. Celeste's favorite, Cinderella, was on hand as were Aurora and Snow White.
Check out the fabulous face painting and the bling Celeste is sporting on her hand.
Snow White told Celeste that her dwarfs mine the gems that go into rings like Celeste was wearing. Snow White then noticed Tommy and Nick standing to the side with Linda and said, "Celeste, did you bring some of your dwarfs with you?? Is that Bashful and Grumpy?" The boys were obliged to pose for a photo, though they had swore up and down that they weren't going to be in any pictures with the princesses. (They also threatened my life if I posted the photos on Facebook. Good thing this isn't Facebook.)
Another great part of the day was going to California Adventure. Neither Celeste or I had ever been there so Tommy, Nick and Linda had a great time showing us around.
We really liked the big C for Celeste that was out front.

Celeste's favorite ride of the day was Tower of Terror. I absolutely hated it but was glad she had so much fun. We tried to ride California Screamin', a roller coaster that does a full loop, but Celeste wasn't tall enough. Fortunately, a Disney employee took pity on Celeste when she began to cry about not being able to ride the roller coaster and he gave us a pass to go to the front of any line in the park. We used it to ride Soarin' Over California and we loved it so much we got a fast pass and rode it again!!
This jellyfish ride about did me in after the Tower of Terror. I think I may have a fear of heights.
At the end of the evening Celeste was one happy little girl as we rode the tram back to the parking garage.

I'm so thankful that Celeste continues to do well physically after having surgery and that I was able to enjoy a day in the Magic Kingdom with her, Linda, Lisa, and the helpful dwarfs, Grumpy and Bashful.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Popcorn

Submitted by Linda
Well, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, just in case you were wondering! My life has seemed unusually busy, but to top it off, I'm participating in a diet/exercise study through the physical therapy department at APU.

Though I feel like I've been on a jillion diets throughout my life, I have had some new learning this time. It really takes preparation to eat healthy! Every evening I prepare my food for the next day (and sometimes prepare Tommy's- since he's doing the study too). I've also had to commit to a DVD workout every day, so I've missed out on my blogging time.

The good news is, I'm starting to see some results, and now I can even do a "plank"!

In January I had a stamping event, where I prepared (but didn't eat a bite) some yummy snacks. I did my usual favorites, but this time I added this amazing White Chocolate Macadamia Popcorn. I've never been a fan of white chocolate, but trust me, this stuff is YUMMY! Several of the ladies there asked if I would post the recipe, so here it is!
This is the popcorn, cooling on wax paper.
I think it is really cute served up with a scooper. I also think this would be pretty in cello bags for party favors or treats.
White Chocolate Macadamia Popcorn

Ingredients:

1 batch popped corn (I popped mine the old fashioned way, with oil, but you could easily use a couple of bags of microwave popcorn).
1 bag white chocolate chips
macadamia nuts (I bought roasted and salted in bulk at Sprouts)

Directions:
Pop the corn, and melt the chocolate following the directions on the package (I used the microwave). Toss the popcorn and nuts with the melted chocolate.

Pour it onto wax paper to cool.