Monday, May 25, 2015

Quick mail catchup

     I have not sent any good mail lately. I have been buried in work for a few weeks. This is my last insanely crazy week. (5 performances/field trips in a 2 week span) I sent out a quick letter to my 2 ChemoBuddies. (If you're reading, I'm so sorry it has been so long) I took a few minutes out of my night last night to get a few postcrossing cards ready to be mailed.
 This card that I made from Washi tape is headed to Poland.

     This card is on its way to Russia.

As for incoming mail, I have gotten a few cool things recently.
 As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of the GoodReads giveaways. I entered for this book of short stories but I didn't win. Then I got a nice e-mail from Jacob M Appel, the author, asking if I would still like a copy. I received it a few days later. I'm not a huge short story fan but this seemed kind of different. I'm willing to give most books a shot. So, thanks Mr. Appel!
Postcrossing card from China.

     I have not been great about updating the project log. I will try to catch up when life slows down a bit. I will try to blog more then too. The Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day challenge starts again soon so I will be adding some art here too if I'm brave :)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Currently 5.16 and 10,000 views giveaway!

Currently 5/16

Watching:
   Season finales. I caught the season finales for Castle and The Amazing Race last week. I have been really busy but sometimes I get too tired to work on anything that requires mental effort.

Reading: A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel
A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention
     This is one of my GoodRead giveaway wins. I'm really glad I won it. I'm finding it very interesting. The book tells the story of Reggie Shaw, a college student from Utah who got in a car accident while texting and killed two rocket scientists. The book tells the story of the accident and the investigation (so far). One thing I really am enjoying is that the book tells the story of multiple people- Reggie, the wife of one of the men who was killed, the police officer investigating the accident, etc. It also includes some fascinating neuroscience regarding studies about attention.  
    I really enjoy non-fiction books and I sometimes enjoy reading research studies as well. (I know, I'm a nerd.) This book and a lecture I heard a few months back have made me want to explore some studies on a few topics. 

 Listening: to a new cover of " See You Again/ Stay With Me" by one of my former students, Chris Heller. Check him out, he's on Spotify, Currently I'm listening to "My Heart Is Yours" by Kristian Stanfill. 

Making: Time to have coffee with a friend tonight. This past few weeks have really busy so I'm excited that she invited me out. 

Feeling:  Happy. I'm looking forward to this upcoming week. I have finished a few stressful things so I feel a bit relieved and relaxed. I also had a few really nice rehearsals with my choruses this week. I feel content and blessed in general. 

Planning: I have a lot to plan for. The next few weeks will be crazy. So, here's what I'm preparing for this week:
Monday- Normal school day, teaching a few boys an instrumental accompaniment for Tuesday's concert, baseball game for Timmy
Tuesday- (Timmy's baseball game but Matt is bringing him), Concert and dinner at the local Masonic Lodge. This is the first time my spring Chorale has performed publicly. Their rehearsal Friday was really nice so I hope it comes out the same there. 
Wednesday- Normal day
Thursday- Baseball game for Timmy and for David
Friday- Chorale rehearsal
Saturday- Bringing 25 students to New York City for a Broadway Classroom workshop and seeing Matilda. I can't wait! I have not seen this musical before but I loved the book. I'll let you know what I think.
Sunday- Rest

Loving:  My job. Honestly, I get annoyed with logistics and aggravating day to day problems, petty complaints and the lack of technology in my room but there are a few things that have been really noticeable to me this week. 1) Some of my students really appreciate me and work very hard for me- all the time. I work hard for them too but I can imagine that my job would be so much harder if my students didn't like me. I have a group of 8th graders that is awesome this year. They are not the most talented group of students I've ever had but they have integrity and a great work ethic. I will miss them a lot when they go to high school.  2)  I feel really privileged to listen to their music on a daily basis. 

GIVEAWAY

    Today I noticed that I have passed 10,000 views. I remember being really excited to see my page views hit 1,000. Sometimes it seems more likely that I have checked my blog 10000 times myself than thinking that random people from across the globe have been checking in. (I have my settings set to not count my own page views so it can't be me!) I decided that I would like to send a little surprise to a reader to celebrate my 10,000 pageviews.  All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post. I'd love to hear where you're from or for you to introduce yourself if I don't know you. I will choose a random winner on Monday, May 18th. Good luck!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Deluxe Deco Art Grand Prize Giveaway (not my giveaway)

I was just over at this page and found an awesome giveaway. Here's the prize


Check it out. I would love to win this.  If you're not artsy, enter anyway and then send me your loot if you win :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Recipe and small group

    Matt just made the most delicious dinner. Here in MA it is BEAUTIFUL tonight- a perfect spring evening. The sun is out and there is a breeze but it's not too hot or cold. (Figures that it's the one night this week I don't have a baseball game and I do have something inside!) I'm going to my first small group meeting tonight. This group has met once before but I couldn't make it that night. We're studying the book Believing God by Beth Moore and we're also learning to draw and paint. The small group leader is an artist and I can't wait to learn from her, meet some new friends and just be creative. I'm also excited to see what other people's art looks like because I'm a nerd. :)
     The dinner Matt made tonight is a Pioneer Woman Recipe. It was Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Dressing. Oh my gosh. Like many other Ree Drummond recipes it is rich and creamy and probably not the healthiest meal but- wow, it really hit the spot tonight. Here is the recipe. Try it and let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Package from Finland

    I was so excited to arrive home from work yesterday and find a bright yellow package from my new friend Satu. Another friend in Finland sent me a package in January but it never got here, so I was slightly worried about the arrival of this one. I sent her my package today. I won't tell you the contents in case Satu checks in here and wants to be surprised. Here are the things I received from Finland:
 Package with all kinds of cool stamps. Our post office clerk today was not as accommodating. I got a $19.99 stamp, a few $5, a $2 and then a .15 label.
 Moomins! Do you know about Moomins? I wrote a bit about them in this post a long time ago
 The loot. I forgot to take a picture of the cool card. It was a painting by Risto Toivanen, an artist who has learned to paint with his feet due to being born with cerebral palsy. It was a picture of Tunturiporot- Hill reindeers.  Very cool.
 Tea! I didn't notice before I took the pictures but the "flavor" of the teas are: Go For It (black tea with blueberry muffin flavoring- I'm trying this one in a few minutes!!!!), I Should Know (black tea with lemon), Sweetheart (Black tea with strawberry), Moominmamma's Magic Potion.(Black tea with strawberry and rhubarb)
  Black licorice. I HATE black licorice- except this black licorice apparently. I have gotten this before in another package. I had some and gave the rest to Matt, who loves black licorice. I'm sharing this one too but I had a good amount. The licorice in this is much softer than the US and it is filled with some other... stuff. :) It also doesn't taste like soap or perfume like it does here.

    I think this is mustard.
 Bandaids,
Hallelujah!!!! My favorite :) Strawberry vanilla soup. She sent a whole box plus a few more packets.
 Cookies I think.
 Haven't tried these  yet. I'm guessing gum?
 Also gum?
 Gummy candies
 Also gummies- a little less squishy than our gummy candies.
 Moomin potholder!
 Beautiful paper napkins. Marimekko, Ivana Helsinki and Arabia collections.
More candy- hot licorice lollipops, the striped ones are similar to candy here (white, minty, hard candies with chocolate inside) and the other ones taste a bit like Werther's caramel- but soft. 
   Thanks Satu for your wonderful package. I hope you like mine as much!
    In other news, the sunburns and freckles are appearing. Welcome to baseball season.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Currently 5/2

Currently

Watching: Lots of Little League baseball. Today is opening day and we just had our parade. The boys both have a game in a few hours. Here's the uniforms (on the 1 day they'll look spotless!)

Also, I saw this bird a few years ago in my yard, but never knew what it was. He's back. He's a yellow-shafted Northern Flicker. I found some beautiful pictures but they all look like they're copyrighted. Look it up. Cool bird.

Reading: "Ordinary" by Tony Merida. I'm enjoying it so far. It has given me a few things to think about regarding my faith. (Or rather, how I demonstrate my faith) It speaks of how people can make a large impact through humble acts of service while practicing ordinary Christianity. I won this book on GoodReads. 
Listening: Wow, nothing this week. I have been really busy and have not had a lot of time to slow down.  Actually, one of my 8th grade music classes is doing my opera project. They are writing an opera that mixes Spongebob and Pokemon. It's actually pretty good and they're really into it. For their choreography and the background music for one of their arias, they're using some Pokemon instrumental tracks. It's actually pretty good.  That has been stuck in my head all week along with a "rap version" of "Let it Go," which is basically rewritten words with 1 boy beatboxing between a few of the phrases. They have to compose most of the music but can have 1 song based on another piece.

Making: I'm putting together a presentation to "spotlight the singers" in our school. I have taken a picture of each chorus kid and asked them to write a short bio. I'm putting them all up at our school's parents night. It's a lot of work but I'm really enjoying reading what the kids are writing. 

Feeling: 
Tired- I need a serious break and I'm really impatient with drama.
Grateful- See David's cute uniform? The Minor League team Fisher Cats donated all the replica jerseys. I thought that was really nice of them. Everyone else has t-shirts so these little guys look sharp!

Planning: Still working on the field trip as well as all of my performances.

Loving:  I love baseball season. I like seeing how the kids grow in their skills over the season and watching the games play out. The kids only play 1 sport and do a few other activities so it's really a joy for me to go to their games. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Currently 5.24

     Here I am at the end of April vacation. I'm not ready to go back to school yet. :)

Currently:

Watching: Nothing. I have been so tired I've been falling asleep on the couch. Over vacation I did see the new episode of Castle, which I really enjoy. I also watched a lot of other shows that I don't really see often- River Monsters, Dirty Jobs, Survivor, etc. 
Image result for abc castle
     Actually, we did go to see the Aleppo Shriner's Circus last night. It was a lot of fun. They had a lot of great acts this year- some white tigers that were beautiful, a tightrope act, dancers, aerial artists, clowns, camels, bears, motorcycle riders, contortionists, quick change artists, and more. Timmy liked the camels. David was a big fan of the motorcycle act and I think I liked the tigers best. I love that the profits all go to a great cause too. The Shriners are all Freemasons as well. The Masons have greatly helped my Chorale through their donations. I feel like we have made a great community connection with them as well.  

Reading: Still reading "Tchaikovsky" by Herbert Weinstock. I'm still fascinated by his letter writing and his diary, though I do still find him odd. Here are 2 excerpts from last night.
     A woman named Mme La Mara, once asked Tchaikovsky's publisher to give her a letter that would represent Tchaikovsky in a compilation of letters about/by musicians over the past 50 years. The publisher said that none of the letters Tchaikovsky had sent him would work for those purposes. Tchaikovsky agreed saying: "Isn't it strange that it should be hard to find an appropriate letter from a man who has been carrying on- and still carries on- the largest correspondence, dealing with not only business details but artistic effort? I constantly exchange letters with 4 brothers, a sister, several cousins, and with many friends, in addition to a quantity of persons of whom I've often never heard. The need to give so much of my time to letter-writing is such a burden to me that from the bottom of my heart I curse all of the postal systems of the world. The mail often causes me sad moments but it also brings me the greatest happiness. One person plays the leading role in the story of the last decade of my life. She is my good genius; to her I owe all my prosperity and the ability to devote myself to my beloved work. Yet I have never seen her, never heard her voice. All my intercourse with her is by mail. I can certainly say that I flood the earth with my correspondences and yet am not in a position to help you out of your difficulty. "  (p.277)   
    In his diary of July 9, (doesn't mention the year- 1886?) he describes that "It seems to be that letters are never entirely frank. I am judging, at any rate, by my own. No matter what or to whom I write, I always worry about the impression my letter will make, not only on my correspondent, but even on some accidental reader. It follows, therefore, that I am showing off. Sometimes I try to make my letters sound simple and sincere, so, that is, that they should give such an impression. But in no letters except those written under emotional stress am I ever myself. For that reason the latter sort of communication always remains a source of regret and repentance, at times even painful. When I read the letters of famous people, published after their death, I am always worried by an indefinable feeling of falseness and lies."
      This paragraph was disappointing since I was really enjoying reading Tchaikovsky's personal thoughts and correspondences. It made me think about my own letter writing.  People who penpal, what are your impressions of his thoughts? I find that my most honest letters are usually written "under emotional stress" as well but I don't feel like I am not myself in my letters. In fact, I often feel that if someone was to collect all of my letters from everyone I send them to, they would probably know me better than my closest friends do. 

Listening: Not much this week. I've been walking a bit since the weather is nice. When Timmy has practice and Matt is home, I walk the local rail trail. I walked 4 miles today with my IPod shuffle. I listened to everything from Les Miserables to Elvis Presley to Chris Tomlin. I love shuffling my music. I know, I'm a nerd.

Making: I have made a few cute envelopes with a Crafter's Workshop, cherry blossoms template. (The same one I used for the homemade postcard.) I have realized that I'm not the best at stenciling. Doesn't that sound odd? How hard is it to fail at stencils? 

Feeling: Good. Today I did a few things that were good for me. I walked double what I had intended to this morning and then I went down to my parents' house and did some cleaning there. They are trying to improve some things at home and I figured they could use a little help. Now, if you don't know me well- I hate cleaning; with a passion. However, I had a good time knowing that I was doing something that was really benefiting people I love. It was much easier cleaning up their mess than my own. 
    Mail has stunk this week though. Boo. 

Planning: Returning to school. I pretty much failed at all my goals this week so that's a bit disappointing. I'm looking forward to going back to school. I have quite a few concerts in May and there are lots of things to be done. I'm feeling like I'm in an okay place though. I have a big field trip that I'm struggling a bit with the organization. 

Loving: Watching Timmy play baseball. He has had a lot of practices and seemed like he felt like a bit of an outsider. He had a scrimmage this week and he was a blast to watch. He is not super competitive but he loves playing and doing his best. Today at practice they were doing a drill where he had to hit the ball and try to run the bases before his team could field it. He did and was giggling as he was running through third base. It's just fun. I appreciate all the time the little league coaches put into our children. Watching the kids grow in their skills, act with good sportsmanship and have a good time is one of my favorite spring activities. David starts baseball next week.