Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Student Art Work

This year has come and (almost) gone extremely fast. HOWEVER... my students were able to make a bunch of wonderful artwork-- which made the art show great! I do wish more people showed up-- parents and teachers, alike, but in every one's defense, there was a bunch on really bad weather last Thursday night. Hope you enjoy the student work below.Students used line to create value for their self portrait 7th Grade

Torn Paper Self Portraits 8th Grade

Andy Warhol Color Theory 6th Grade

Water Color 7th Grade

Tessellations 6th Grade

Linoleum Block Printing-- emphasizing "Line" 8th Grade

Panty Hose Sculpture 8th Grade

Plaster Masks 8th Grade

Crop Circle Paintings 8th Grade

Students used grids to draw portraits of their "Hero" (favorite teacher) 7th Grade

Students drew portraits of their friends and then used color to help express emotion. The used a Batik resist method, cut their project into many pieces, reassembled to create a relief-batik-portrait! 8th Grade

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Good Golly Ms. Dolly

I have a special place in my heart for Dolly Parton. Maybe it's my Tennessee roots showing here, but she's just swell. I read her autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, this summer and just fell in love with her. Her book talks about her life growing up in the "holler" in the hills of Tennessee-- less than dirt poor. It dives into her relationships with family,Christ, and her tumultuous relationship with Porter Wagoner. I was captured by her humor, wit, and wisdom.

For some, I know, Country is not your cup of tea-- but Dolly has something for everyone-- she is an AMAZING songwriter and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001 and American Idol featured her songs on last year's show. David Cook sang Little Sparrow,

So if you don't like country, maybe you can still like Dolly if someone is covering her songs... This is my favorite cover-- Jolene, covered by Mindy Smith

And on the flip side, this is one of my favorite songs that Dolly covers-- Shine, by Collective Soul

Saturday, April 18, 2009

She Was Ask'n For It

Leela loves being shaved! When her fur gets a little too long for her, she will let you know when it's time for a haircut. Since we shave her ourselves in the guest bathroom, every time we walk by, she will dart in front of us, jump up on the counter, stick her head out of the door and literally cries. She repeats this, daily, until we actually shave her.

Sometimes if we've taken too long in between haircuts, it's harder to shave her since she is constantly rubbing her head against our hands in appreciation-- one time Matt accidentally clipped one of her whiskers because she turned into the clippers to rub on his had unexpectedly.

We started shaving her about 3 years ago because she is fairly hefty and can't clean her back end very well. She also gets kitty dandruff on her back where her tail meets her body-- this is because she can't quite reach. The shaving has helped keep the dandruff to practically nothing and there are no more dingle berries!!

Today, Matt gave her the cut-- he's much better at it than I am, so I usually just help by giving her treats to lift her head or petting her so she stays in one position, making it easier to clip her neater. Today was one of her better cuts, she looks so pretty! She has what's called a lion cut, where she has her head of fur, full tail, and leg warmers.

I think she knows how good she looks. Usually after she gets a haircut, she's more social and seems to "prance" around the apartment-- showing off her new ' she doesn't always take good pictures-- she looks like a mean cat, but really, she has HUGE eyes, which are very sensitive to the flash-- so she squints, making her look mean... but she's not.


My favorite magazine of all time is REAL SIMPLE. It has everything-- recipes, organizational tips, decorating tips, etc. So I was thrilled when I received my May 2009 issue and quickly read it cover to cover. One of the recipes was a "kid friendly" recipe-- which translates to me as "Matt friendly." Tonight for dinner we had Chicken Cutlets with Smashed Potatoes and Peas as seen in REAL SIMPLE MAGAZINE.

First I balled up some dough and placed them three together in a muffin pan and let rise some more.Then I cut the potatoes in half and dropped in enough water to cover them and brought the water to a boil. While the water was boiling, I covered the chicken cutlets (thin) in flour after seasoning with poultry seasoning and salt. The bread dough went in a 375 degrees oven for 19 minutes.Meanwhile, I heated veggie oil in a skillet and placed the floured cutlets in. Once the potatoes get soft, I dumped in about 2 cups of frozen peas to the boiling water.After the potatoes were done, I drained them and the peas over the sink and placed the pot back on the stove. I then melted some butter in the pan with about 1 Tablesoon of minced garlic and poured the potatoes and peas back in the pot, then stirred. Voila... Dinner for two. Matt liked it-- he didn't even use A1 for the chicken (high "silent" praise).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Party

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work to give to those who are not." ~Thomas Jefferson

I am not one for shouting my political beliefs to a sea of strangers via the world wide web... but I am a HUGE supporter of the Fair Tax.

In case you are not familiar with the idea of the Fair Tax, here's a thumbnail sketch from

Americans take home their whole paychecks.
Not only do more Americans have jobs, but they also take home 100 percent of their paychecks (except where state income taxes apply). No federal income taxes or payroll taxes are withheld from paychecks, pensions, or Social Security checks.

The prebate makes the FairTax progressive.

To ensure no American pays tax on necessities, the FairTax Plan provides a prepaid, monthly rebate (prebate) for every registered household to cover the consumption tax spent on necessities up to the federal poverty level. This, along with several other features, is how the FairTax completely untaxes the poor, lowers the tax burden on most, while making the overall rate progressive. However, the FairTax is progressive based on lifestyle/spending choices, rather than simply punishing those taxpayers who are successful. Do you see how much freer life is with the FairTax instead of the income tax?

No tax on used goods.

The amount you pay to fund the government is totally visible. With the FairTax you are only taxed once on any good or service. If you choose to buy used goods − used car, used home, used appliances − you do not pay the FairTax. If, as a business owner or farmer, you buy something for strictly business purposes (not for personal consumption), you pay no consumption tax. The FairTax is charged just as state sales taxes are today. When you decide what to buy and how much to spend, you see exactly how much you are contributing to the government with each purchase.

Retail prices no longer hide corporate taxes or compliance costs, which together drive up costs for those who can least afford to pay.

Did you know that income taxes and the cost of complying with them currently make up 20 percent or more of all retail prices? It’s true. According to Dr. Dale Jorgenson of Harvard University, hidden income taxes are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices for everything you buy. If competition does not allow prices to rise, corporations lower labor costs, again hurting those who can least afford to lose their jobs. Finally, if prices are as high as competition allows and labor costs are as low as practical, profits/dividends to shareholders are driven down, thereby hurting retirement savings for moms-and-pops and pension funds invested in Corporate America. With the FairTax, the sham of corporate taxation ends, competition drives prices down, more people in America have jobs, and retirement/pension funds see improved performance.

The income tax exports our jobs, rather than our products. The FairTax brings jobs home.

Most importantly, the FairTax does not burden U.S. exports the way the current income tax system does. The FairTax removes the cost of corporate taxes and compliance costs from the cost of U.S. exports, putting U.S. exports on a level playing field with foreign competitors. Lower prices sharply increase demand for U.S. exports, thereby increasing job creation in U.S. manufacturing sectors. At home, imports are subject to the same FairTax rate as domestically produced goods. Not only does the FairTax put U.S. products sold here on the same tax footing as foreign imports, but the dramatic lowering of compliance costs in comparison to other countries’ value-added taxes also gives U.S. products a definitive pricing advantage which foreign tax systems cannot match.

The FairTax strategy is revenue neutral: Neither raise nor lower taxes so consumer costs remain stable.

The FairTax pays for all current government operations, including Social Security and Medicare. Government revenues are more stable and predictable than with the federal income tax because consumption is a more constant revenue base than is income.
If you were in a 23-percent income tax bracket, the federal government would take $23 out of your paycheck for every $100 you made. With the FairTax, if the federal government gets $23 out of every $100 spent in America, the same total revenue is delivered to the federal government. This is revenue neutrality. So, instead of paycheck-earning Americans paying 7.65 percent of their paychecks in Social Security/Medicare payroll taxes, plus an average of 18 percent of their paychecks in federal income tax, for a total of about 25.65 percent, consumers in America pay only $23 out of every $100. Or about 30 percent at the cash register when they elect to spend on new goods or services for their own personal consumption. And this tax is collected only on spending above the federal poverty level, providing important progressivity.

Tax criminals don’t make criminals out of honest taxpayers.

Today, the IRS will admit to 16 percent noncompliance with the code. will be generous and simply take the position that this is likely a conservative estimate of the underground economy. However, this does not take into account the criminal/drug/porn economy, which equally conservative estimates put at one trillion dollars of untaxed activity. The FairTax does tax this -- criminals love to flash that cash at retail -- while continuing to provide the federal penalties so effective in bringing such miscreants to justice. The substantial decrease in points of compliance -- from every wage earner, investor, and retiree, down to only retailers -- also allows enforcement to concentrate on following the money to criminal activity, rather than making potential criminals out of every taxpayer struggling to decipher the current code.

Okay... I think that about sums it up (I'll step down from my soap box now).
To learn more about the Fair Tax, please educate yourself at

ps. the Fair Tax Book by Neil Boortz and John Linder is a WONDERFUL and enlightening read.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy (belated) Easter

Matt and I celebrated Easter (and the Masters) with my mom and Jim and some friends of theirs. I was asked to bring some fruit... so here's what I did.I used oranges, pineapple, grapes, apples, and blackberriesI sliced the top of the pineapple off, cut it into quarters, sliced off the center core, and then under cut the hunk of pineapple so that it's detached from the skin. Then I cut the pineapple into chunks.I cut the grapes so that people could take one clump instead of the entire clump and then I draped them over the pineapple.I peeled the oranges and added some (pre-cut) apples. The (pre-cut) apples were a great idea because they were already sprayed with citric acid to keep them from browning!Finally came the blackberries... yum. This is my finished fruit plate.The dinning room table set with Jordan AlmondsThe food. Maple glazed bacon, baked french toast, frittata, fruit platter, and in the back-- lemon poppy seed cake for later.Mom's frittata. It had Honey Baked Ham, cheese, onions, and asparagus. It was pretty good-- I think I would have liked a little less asparagus, but it was still pretty good-- and looked really pretty. After all, that's what cooking is all about-- food that looks good-- right?

We had a really good time-- very relaxing. After mom's friends left, Jim and Matt practically ran to the tv where Jim had Tivoed the Masters. Mom and I joined them and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the tournament. Too bad Phil lost-- we were root'n for you!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Monster in the Bathroom

We were asleep. It was a dark and stormy night... no really, it was. Both of the cats were on the bed, but to be fair, Tungsten was actually sleeping on top of Matt and me while Leela was at the foot of the bed. I was startled awake by what sounded like a hand saw coming from the bathroom. After I muted the flickering TV, I nudged Matt awake and asked if he heard what I heard. Unsurprisingly, he groaned as he woke up to listen. The noise was getting louder and louder. So I shoved the blankets off and told Matt that I would go check it out... he said, "okay."

The noise did not abate once I opened the bathroom door and turned the lights on. If anything, it became more distinctive -- it sounded more like teeth gnawing and tiny feet scratching for traction and less like a hand saw. At that moment, Matt leaped from the bed, knowing that I was truly not crazy after hearing it for himself. Shoving Tungsten out of his way, Matt crouched by the cabinet doors and pounded vigorously trying to scare the creature back from whence it came. He slowly opened the doors only to find everything under the sink trashed! All of the bar soap that had been neatly stacked was ripped out of the paper wrapping; scratch marks clearly visible. Everything that had been neatly stacked or placed inside to maximize space had been toppled-- or pooped on. This was not the first time this creature had entered through the holes under sink by which the pipes also enter. It was chaos... but the monster was gone.

At this point, I was holding Tungsten at bay, Leela was interested in what was going on, but refused to move from her spot on the bed, and Matt was bound and determined to get something at 12AM to fix the holes. So he threw on some clothes, grabbed his wallet and phone, and headed out to the ugly Kroger up the street for some Great Stuff foam insulator. Kroger didn't have any, so he left and made his way to Walmart-- but that particular Walmart closed at midnight. His journey continued. Meanwhile, Tungsten was pacing back and forth from the cabinet doors, to the guest bath cabinet doors, to the corners of our bedroom where he could hear the thing move through the walls.

Finally Matt came home with two bottles of the "Stuff," and I only had to call him once shrieking, "Where are you?!! It's back, it's back!!" My knight sealed up the holes both in our bathroom and in the cabinets in the spare bathroom that the monster had been jumping back and forth between. His advice, "Everything's sealed up. He can't get back in-- he might try, but he can't get in-- sleep tight."

I did actually sleep better knowing that he couldn't get in-- of course, any sleep is better than no sleep. I'm so grateful to Matt for scouring the city for a 24hr. Walmart at midnight just so I could sleep. That's love.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dallas, here we come!!!

DRUM ROLL, please... Matt and I just signed the contract on our new house!!! After a lot of thought and prayer, Matt and I decided that apartment living was just not for us any more. We went out last Saturday to look at houses and fell in love with the second one we saw that day-- we still looked at other houses, but we compared them all to this second one.

Ever since we married, we have talked about what we absolutely MUST have in a house and then what we would LIKE to have in a house. This one has EVERYTHING!! The master is on the 2nd floor (which is what we wanted), there is a Jack and Jill bath, 4 bedrooms, 4 full baths, a giant kitchen with granite counter tops, deck, full basement (unfinished), and a decent yard (that will eventually be fenced). There is also a loft at the top of the stairs. Take a look and see what you think.This is the covered deck right off of the den, below it is the patio that has access to the basementThis is the view from the den towards the front door and formal living roomOpposite view into the den and stair caseBay windows in the living roomPassage from the kitchen to the dinning roomSpeaking of the dinning room...Looking into the den from the hallway-- access to the covered deck is on the left side wallThe den already has a ceiling fanThe kitchen is rather large (big smile)-- the appliances are going to be black and will be installed before closingView from behind the kitchen island into the denGoing up the stairs... loftloftLooking over the loft toward two of the bedrooms and the laundry room-- UP STAIRS!!!One of the bedrooms that is connected to the Jack and Jill bath... the other two bedrooms are fairly standard-- the one that connects to the other side of the bath room will be my studio/craft center and the bedroom at the end of the hall at the top of the stairs, next to the master will be our guestroom.The master-- looking into the bathroom that has a giant tub, curtain shower, dual vanities, linen closet, toilet closet, giant walk in closet and a not-so giant walk in closet.The best part of the master... sitting room with a fireplace.

I hope you enjoyed our 1st house!!! It will look much different with paint and furniture, and I will blog during the whole process (but that means I won't be cooking for a while since we will be boxing things up). Can't wait!