Saturday, December 31, 2011

29 gifts: day three

Today's gift was $20 to a homeless couple.   It's hard to believe that we have individuals without a home in our area.  We often see the man we gifted walking with his dog on the east side of town.  I have always though, "I should do something to help."  I even went through a drive thru one night to get him (and his dog) a hamburger, but when I returned to where he was standing with his sign, he was gone.  Today was the day.

I know there is a lot of controversy about giving money directly to the homeless.  I get it.  Today,  it felt like the right thing to do.

(We also delivered the bread we baked to say hello to our favorite neighbors and catch up on his recovery...our second neighbor wasn't home, so we left his bread with a Happy New Year note.)

Tempe visit

We took a couple of days off work for a short vacation to Tempe, Arizona earlier in December.  We had won a trip at a charity auction last spring and had carefully worked out schedules and decided that December would be a great time to go to a warmer climate.  The joke was on was unseasonably warm in Kansas that weekend.  We were still happy to get away and see this part of the country together.

We stayed at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center.  The hotel was nice, but the people who worked there were even nicer.  The shuttle was available for pick up and drop up within a few mile radius of the property.  We were able to get rides to Arizona State University, local shopping, the light rail and to the Botanical Gardens.

The people in Tempe and Phoenix were so friendly.  There was not a single time that we entered the hotel lobby that we were not greeted.  The staff in the shops were friendly and kind.  Even the convenience store clerk where we picked up a Sunday paper was friendly and generous.  It was awesome!

We didn't have a lot on our agenda, but we did find the Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Botanical Gardens.  Several evenings in December were designated for this ticketed event and we were visiting during a time when the event was scheduled.  We were advised to get tickets in advance because they often sell out.  We secured our tickets and opted for the dinner they host on site for that night.

The Garden paths were lined with luminaries and the paths wind around to different "rooms" where entertainment was hosted.

We enjoyed blues, classic violin, old-fashioned carolers, Native American storytelling, and more.  Our favorite was our first stop of the night - The Sugar Thieves.

We had an awesome time walking around the gardens and would highly recommend this activity for anyone in the Tempe area in December - a casual and romantic way to spend the evening.

We took the light rail from Tempe to downtown Phoenix to check out the Public Market.  We learned that the Public Market is an urban grocery and wine bar that hosts an open air market in the parking lot on specific days.  We were lucky to be able to take in the open air market while we were visiting.  Vendors told us that there were more booths than usual because of the holiday shopping season.  Think about all the stuff you love about open air markets - farmers and artists displaying their products, food trucks, live music, and more!  We had this really, really good coconut iced tea and found some cool small pieces of art.

The burlap shopping bags with the Public Market logo were only $2!  I loved these.

  (The terra cotta plate we purchased busted on the way home.  Bummer.)

We found this historic church downtown on the way to lunch.

After our return to the Tempe light rail station, we hiked to the Hole in the Rock for some great views of the area.  It was a fairly easy hike and we loved being able to do something outside.

Things we didn't get to do:  drive to the Grand Canyon and shop in Scottsdale and other towns nearby.  The Grand Canyon was around three hours away and they had received a fair amount of snow.  Everyone was saying that travel would be difficult and things might be closed.  We didn't have a rental car, so Scottsdale was out.  Next time! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

29 gifts: day two

Today marks my second day of the 29 day giving challenge. We have had two neighbors on our minds lately.

One neighbor just had unexpected and very serious surgery.  The other neighbor lives a little ways away from us, but my husband met him by chance when his old pick up died near our house.  He lives on his own and we keep talking about dropping by to say hello.

The gift for today is homemade honey wheat bread.  I started baking it this afternoon and it just now left the oven - a bit too late for visiting.  We will deliver the bread tomorrow.

Simple Honey Wheat Bread

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45
degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

Cool find: MandiMoo Designs iPad cover

Love, love, love this beautiful iPad cover.  It was a gift from some friends at work and I feel really honored that they thought of me.    The gorgeous bag is just the right size and the fabric and cute accent flower are just perfect!

Additional reasons I love this gift:

1.  It's practical.  I am reading a lot about gift giving and practical things or things that can be used up are getting some high marks in gifts that bring out good feelings in the recipient.  This concept seems to address the "no more stuff" movement.
2.  This iPad cover is designed and made by MandiMoo Designs and the talented woman behind MandiMoo is someone I know and admire.  She makes all sorts of great things.  Please check out her blog.
3.  The people who gave me this gift purchased from a local artist in a local venue.  I love to support creative people and local businesses.
4.  The liner for the bag is a recycled Target bag.  I love recycling!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

29 gifts: day one

This holiday season started with a very uncharacteristic lack of Christmas spirit.  We usually love the decorating, gift buying, wrapping and gift giving. We thought that if we just tried the usual Christmas spirit things we would come around.  So, I listened intently to Christmas music, began shopping, and even have a few early gifts.  It just didn't click.

 It took some time to pinpoint some of our disenchantment.  I am still not entirely sure that we have it figured out, but we have some ideas.  We have just had a lot of changes in our gift giving traditions and a few of our usual joyful giving relationships have become more about the stuff and reciprocity than about the celebrating.  We are also aware of all of the stuff that we have in our house and our friends and family seems to be working hard to manage the stuff in their own houses.  Is it right to add to the accumulation of stuff?  Is it good for our friends and family?  Is it good for the environment?

Our idea was that we would give donations to two of our favorite causes and for those that were not already in progress for gift purchases, they would get a card and note telling them we had made a donation to honor our friends and family.  We thought about this be a good way to celebrate the people we care about and to help others at the same time.

Our causes this year were Heifer International and K-State's Proud to be a Wildcat scholarship.

We have still had this feeling that it's not quite what we want from the Christmas season.  The giving seems off...The donations were great and for exceptional causes, but the impact is very distant.  And, selfishly, I think my usual giving traditions have given me back something that gift cards and donations aren't really matching.

Then, today, I read this great article in Ode magazine.  Actually, the whole issue is devoted to the subject of giving and what it means for us as individuals and for the larger community.  I am only about a third of the way through the magazine, but am really feeling challenged and intrigued by the information and perspectives.  One element in particular has moved me to action and has created some feelings of hope in this season typically associated with enthusiastic giving.

I have adopted the 29-day giving challenge. The premise is simple - give something for 29 days.  What you give can be anything - a smile, kind words, a small gift, an action, etc.  You can read all about it and watch a short video from founder Cami Walker at the 29 Gifts Movement site.

Today's gift was two small acts of kindness.  At a department store in Topeka, I watched an older couple pay for a crock pot and discuss how they were going to get it from the store to their car.  They had a cart and could get the item to their car, but there wasn't a cart return close to their car.  We were parked in the same row and we offered to return the cart to the store.  Simple.  They seemed really relieved and my husband ran the cart back to the store in two minutes.

Our next gift was paying for the coffee for the person behind us in the Starbuck's drive thru.  We didn't know her and it was a little things that hopefully made her day!

Day one down and now 28 more opportunities to give.  I can't wait to get creative and share the results.

An accidental collector finishes a project

It seems headline worthy - an accidental collector finishes a project!  You might know this about me - I accidentally collect things.  I didn't know this was a defining characteristic until my mother-in-law was visiting and she admired some mixing bowls I had displayed in my kitchen.  She asked if I was collecting them and after I said that I wasn't collecting them, I looked about my display again.  It sure looked like I was collecting them!  Three sets of mixing bowls on the chrome shelf and two sets in the built in cabinets made a collection, even if the collector was aware.

I have this repeated over and over around my house.  I find something I like - usually at a garage sale or auction - and mysteriously I am drawn to more of the same.  Multiples make me happy.  My grandparents had the same affection for multiples and antiques and junk.  This may be the reason their estate auction was a three weekend affair.  

My grandpa's farm related collections included rusty nuts and bolts.

Hub caps for all kinds of cars and trucks.

Drills.  Lots of hand-held drills.  I mean can you ever have enough hand-held drills?

Oil cans of all shapes and sizes.  I love these and I love that I have one of the tiny oil cans from his collection that my dad bought for me at the auction.  There was more - a lot more!

So, you can see that it is in my DNA.  I collect.  I also live in a small house and have to ruthlessly edit - constantly.  If not, we seriously could have a feature on Hoarders.

One of my overall goals for self-improvement is to finish projects.  I am really, really good at getting inspired, even buying the supplies for a project and then carefully storing it away.  No more!

Several years ago, my dad brought me these awesome sacks - some were used for seed or feed, some were used by banks to transport money and one was even used for ballots.  I loved them right away! I promptly washed them and stored them in a decorative tin in a guest room.  Then, I found some modern cloth sacks that were used to contain rice and bread mixes.  These were added to the tin, and a collection was born!

I decided that my mom might help me with two problems.  The first was that we have two new, beautiful chairs for the living room.  We needed pillows for them and they needed to look more rustic/old-fashioned to help marry the more modern style of the chairs with our other rather vintage-inspired pieces.  I shopped for pillows online and at a few favorite boutiques and the things I found were the wrong size or the wrong shape or the wrong fabric.  Ugghhh!

The second problem I have is that I have a lot of unfinished projects/collections/crap in my house that either needs to be finished/used/displayed/donated/figured out in the coming year.

My mom is an excellent sewer and really patient when I have an idea and we have to figure it out as we go. We set up our sewing station in the living room and annoyed my husband with sewing machine noise and talking out our patterns and plans as we went.

Here is the result of our vintage cloth sacks turned pillows.
We first made pillows out of muslin left from a quilting project and fiber fill left from who-knows-what project.  We carefully measured and cut the cloth sacks, keeping as many seams and details as we could.  It took some basic math and a lot of guts to make the first cut on the vintage material.  We all survived and only broke mom's sewing machine on the last stitch on the last pillow.  Overall, a success.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kamoi paper tape

Fellow gift wrapping and crafting enthusiasts, you are going to love Kamoi paper adhesive tape.  I might be late to the game on this product, but I just discovered this in a catalog and thought it would be fun to have another option for holiday wrapping.

When it arrived, it was just as promised on the package.  "Washi" peels off easily, can be written on, cuts easily, is transparent, and has infinite applications.  This masking tape makes really cool accents on gifts and has been fun to experiment with during my wrapping this year.

The company began in Japan in the early 1920's manufacturing flypaper. Check out this page for a factory tour and to learn more about the mt series.

The colors in this package were pretty basic.  When I searched online, I found a ton of other patterns and colors available.

I think some purple might be in my future!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy this great vintage artwork from The Vintage Workshop.  Amy shares images daily and has a lot of cute project ideas.  Check out her vintage notions book for sewers and crafters.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I married a basketball coach

There are many great things about being married to a basketball coach.  I love talking basketball and it is especially fun to talk basketball with someone who knows what he is talking about.

My husband's team is junior high girls.  Even though this isn't the most high profile sport at his school, he spends a lot of time and energy thinking about how to improve their skill and win some games.

His game plans and practice plans are legendary.  I love to hear him break down film.

Tuesday night was an especially big game.  It was a rematch with a team that had beaten them by 20 points earlier in the season.  The end result of the second match was a victory for my husband's team by two points!  He watch the game film on Wednesday night while I started prep work for the Thanksgiving feast.  It was so much fun listening to him from the other room.  I don't think anyone cares more.

I especially adore finding these "game plan" cards around the house.  Usually, these cards go from dress shirt pocket to a basket or counter top in the house.  I like to read them.  It makes me remember my own basketball playing days and the coaches that carried similar cards.  My own coaches were (are) good men who loved the game and cared about their players.  I learned a lot from them about the game and life...just like I know my husband's athletes learn from him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

May we all have a "finder of cool things"

My wish for you is to have at least one friend who is the "finder of cool things."  I have a friend who easily has the best taste and finds all of the fun stuff way before anyone else.  She wowed me again!

I came back to the office last week after a really LONG morning.  It was one of those experiences where you question everything - if you are in the right line of work, if you are cut out for "this," if you should rethink everything you have always known to be true, .... you get the idea!

On my desk is this beautifully wrapped gift with a note from my friend.  It was by birthday gift!  (We are both very busy professionals, so our gift giving is usually a bit off schedule.  I kind of like it - a surprise gift really makes twice the impact.)

Inside was a collection of my friend's favorite things.  This adorable plush pumpkin might be my favorite.  I have seen these pumpkins on blogs all fall long and I really, really wanted one.  I have never seen one so miniature and in purple and just sweet as all get out.  Love it!

And, this elegant Vera Bradley slim case with two awesome pens.  Perfect for finding pens in my bag and great motivation for personal note writing.

 Lovely soap.  Natural.  Great scent.  In the hexagon shape and I really, really love bees and the hexagon.  The packaging is biodegradable and promotes putting this bright yellow bag in a compost pile.
Feeling especially thankful for great friends, cool gifts and surprises.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Invisible strength

We love our new art from Connie Norman.  Her work is phenomenal and you will not find a more kind and down-to-earth person.

We commissioned three bowls from her and had two arrive earlier in the year.  Acquiring the third bowl was a comedy of errors - a misspelling on the rim, a bowl that arrived broken and finally, this beauty was delivered this week!

Connie was so gracious and patient to stick with us.  We love, love, love the colors, pattern and little detail like the image on the side.  By far, this is our favorite of the three, but all are treasures.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A matched set

During Sunday morning chores, I took along my camera to try to catch a few small things around the farm. We get so busy, we forget to enjoy the everyday things.

When we first made the leap into chicken ownership, we were not sure what breeds to order.  I was set on getting bantam chickens (miniature or small variety) because they were so darn cute and their eggs are so darn cute, too!  We settled on some bantams and some regular sized Rhode Island Reds.

We ordered a straight run of bantams through a national hatchery which meant we were going to get a mix of male and female chickens completely left to chance. They were less expensive and gave us the variety in breed typed we wanted.  We ended up with several roosters that we farmed out to my dad who then gave them to someone near where he lived.  I am sure they were destined for the soup pot; a noble end to a good, comfortable life.

We did keep two roosters.  I really think those we kept are fantastic - great dramatic feathers and, for the most part, not too aggressive.  This little white and black pair always make me smile - a matched set, hen and rooster, with similar markings.  There is a buff pair - hen and rooster - that are pretty fantastic, too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins

Jeremy is starting to call me the Muffin Maker.  I have tried out some new muffin recipes recently and it has typically been on a Sunday with the idea we can enjoy muffins for breakfast through the next week.

This recipe for Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins sounded delicious and super easy.  It also helped me use a small bag of blackberries in the freezer.

I did not have any lemons in the house.  I was just feeling happy that I had ricotta cheese and all the other ingredients!  I substituted limes for the lemons and the end result was still super delicious!

The recipe was originally on the blog Two Peas & their Pod that I discovered in an issue of Where Women Cook.

Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese (whole or low-fat is fine)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blackberries
Turbinado sugar-for sprinkling on muffin tops

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and lemon zest mixture together until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Add three blackberries to each muffin cup. Top the muffins with remaining batter so blackberries are covered. Generously sprinkle turbinado sugar over each muffin top.

4. Bake muffins for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Let muffins cool for five minutes and serve.

Makes 12 muffins

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet our neighbors

 We are so lucky to live in the country with great neighbors.  We like to pretend that the gorgeous orchard and cute holiday displays to the south are our own.  The truth is we have really gifted neighbors who are outstanding gardeners, mechanics, home keepers, bakers, and more.

We also like to pretend that the cows in the pasture to the north and east are our own.  Their arrival each fall marks the end of fall harvest and the start of winter.  We get to watch them graze and clean up the corn stubble.
 Jeremy told me earlier this week that there was an Oreo cow in the herd this year.  When Jeremy and I were first dating, we were in college and both aspiring teachers.  My area of study was agricultural education which meant that my lessons were about plants, animals, ag mechanics, and other topics.  He was making flash cards and learning to play the recorder for Music for Elementary School Teachers.

One of my lessons was on breeds of cattle and we happened to be driving back to Jeremy's hometown the weekend when I was working the lesson.  The entire drive we quizzed each other on the breeds of cattle we passed in the pastures across north central and northwest Kansas.  We really got a kick out of the Oreo cow.  I always say Oreo cow and can never remember the proper name of Belted Galloway.  (I had to look it up!)

We hardly ever see them, but know that a farm on our drive to Wichita has our favorite Oreo cows.  It's a treat to have one in our backyard.

This girl has these great double spots on one side, too.  I can't help but think of a bowling ball when I see her from this angle.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alpaca fiber news

 Our alpaca fiber from last year's shearing is here in all sorts of forms - roving, yarn and rugs!

Ok, to tell you the truth, the roving and yarn has been here for awhile.  It was neatly packaged in bags and corralled in a box.  We had some moments this weekend to take everything out and take stock.

The roving is a blend of dark brown, fawn and ivory.  It is just as lovely as the previous year's, but overall darker tones.  We look forward to getting the new roving listed on eBay and in the hands of our friends for spinning and felting projects.

We also have a whole pile of yarn!  The four skeins shown below have our usual ivory, dark brown and fawn.  The new color is a blend of dark brown and ivory for this very pretty mocha color.

These four options are all sport weight and really lovely together.

 The black and ivory options shown here are worsted weight.
Our rugs are a wide variety of patterns and color schemes.  We have a couple in the larger 3' x 5' size and several in the 2' x 3'.

If you are a fiber artist and need some alpaca yarn or if you want to gift some for the holidays, let us know.  We'll be restocking at The Wicked Stitch in Wamego soon.

The rugs are available.  Check with us early for the best selection of patterns.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Perspectives from the plains

I was thrilled to see an article in the latest Smithsonian magazine about a young author's time in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She talks about how the plains gave her perspective and peace.

A transplant from New York, she reflects on the beauty and starkness of the prairie and farm ground.  It was an excellent read.

Check it out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

One of my favorite items in the kitchen is the giant chalkboard we picked up at an auction shortly after we moved to this house.  It was a whole $3 and a real find since I had been scouting similar items in the big home decor catalogs for months.

My memories with my nieces from family dinners usually have two elements - one of them asking to be the one to write the menu on the board and the other being enamored with some place card holders shaped like little purses.

My hostessing philosophy has several basic elements, one of which is that people will not eat what they cannot identify.  Makes sense, right?  Having a posted menu helps people know what to expect when they get to the table and they are usually warmed up to something they might not know right away.

This menu is from the farm visit we hosted a few weeks ago.  Any menu I associate with a good party stays up for awhile to remind me of the good time.

Sometimes we will post a quote for us to consider.  This chalkboard is the first thing you see when you enter the kitchen from the back of the house.  It's always a good way to start the morning to either think about time with family and friends or to be inspired by wise words.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

For another purpose

From this angle, it's hard to tell, but you are looking at an acrylic plate stand from The Container Store.  A magazine recommended it as an excellent iPad stand, so I thought I would give it a try.

It's really just the right size and just the right angle to help when you are reading, cooking from a recipe or watching a video.

If you have an iPad and have ever wondered how you could do a little better than the cover that folds into a low stand, here is a great option!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blueberry Oat Muffins

1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan. In a small bowl, mix the oats and orange juice together. Set aside.
2.In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Thoroughly blend in the oil and egg. Stir in the oat mixture, and fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups.
3.Mix 2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle evenly over the tops of the muffins.
4.Bake 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

This recipe has been on my wishlist for several months.  I had a few minutes to bake these muffins today and the exceeded my expectations - super easy to make and really delicious.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


 Garlic is an incredibly easy thing to grow.  I was always intimidated by garlic - it seemed like a mystery and it wasn't something that we grew in our family garden when I was a least that I remember.  Our top billing crops were the basics - tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, beans, peas, and more.  We would occasionally grow something as an experiment - like okra, but I don't remember garlic.

A few years ago, I thought learning about garlic was a necessity.  We were using it in cooking and I was curious if it was that much different from growing an onion.  I found Mary Jane's Farm an awesome magazine about farm life.  She also carries products that support an organic farm life, including delicious, hardy, easy to grow garlic.

Her advice gave me confidence to order a few garlic bulbs and to try it as a new crop in our garden.

Fall is garlic planting time.  For us, we try to plant in October to give it time to establish before winter.

The first step is to take bulbs and break them down into individual cloves, keeping the paper-like peeling on the clove.

I try to separate the cloves at least 24 hours before planting, though I have seen recommendations for one week between separating and planting.  We store the cloves in a box or an enamel pan on a paper towel until we are ready to plant.

We dig a trench along the edge of our raised beds.  This location has been great to keep the garlic undisturbed and to leave the center of the bed open for spring crops.  Each clove is planted pointed end up/root end down, around six inches apart and about one to two inches deep.

Some people will recommend mulching the beds before you have the first freeze - some years we have, some years we haven't mulched.  If we do mulch, we make sure to take off any material that hasn't broken down when the ground starts to warm up to give the garlic shoots some sun.

Harvest is usually in early July or the end of June.  We pull up the bulbs when the bottom couple of leaves begin to turn yellow.  We dry the bulbs on old window screens extended over yard furniture. It's not very sophisticated, but it works!


I met a mini-me at a conference last weekend.

I had the privilege of leading some workshops at the National Leadership Conference on Student Government for college student leaders and advisors.  The attendees were awesome - people who really care.  The energy and enthusiasm for making a difference made the three days very special.

At the end of a session, I caught sight of a student sporting this beautiful example of organizing her learning.  Check it out!

Color-coded flags to mark ideas and programs she wants to implement or pass on to others.  Beautiful!

I was thinking about her possible strengths - maybe learner, achiever, maximizer....?

Brilliant for sure!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Donut truths

A few truths about donuts...

We have new local donut shop and they are causing a lot of buzz.

I thought I would treat the office to donuts to celebrate a great (and long) week of work.

Everyone who has had donuts from this little shop only has good things to say.  Things like, "delicious" and "wonderful" and lots of other good adjectives.

The choices are out of this world - donuts with your favorite childhood cereal nestled in the icing. How can you go wrong?

Plus, donuts just soothe the soul.

Donuts might cure much of what ails you on any given day.

Nothing causes a stir in the office like a giant box of donuts.  It was a good way to begin a Friday.

Check out Varsity Donuts, Aggieville.

The garden might have been a bust this year, but we added some new garden decor.

These cute letters were on discount and we really liked them.  The photo doesn't do them justice.  Each letter is covered with remnants from tin can manufacturing.  So, a couple have Spam cans and others are from international food cans.  The result is great color and interesting details when you get up close.

We thought we might hang the letters directly on the fence, but decided to recycle part of an old wood table we had in our scrap pile.  Jeremy put it on a couple of rocks and we now have a spot for it until we put away all of the outdoor furniture and fixtures.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Decorating for fall

I am conditioned that when we have company, we really clean house.  We really clean house - as in move the furniture, deep cleaning kind of clean the house.   We also begin to knock out things on the list we have put decorating for a holiday.

Since we had farm visits scheduled for last Saturday, I decided we were putting out fall decorations.  And, it happened!

The past couple of years we have bought pumpkins for the porch and that has been all we could muster for the fall.  This year, we got out the storage tub and put out our small stash of fall decor.  I love the fall and am so glad we made it happen.

I am convinced that hosting company may be a new strategy to be more productive at the house.  If only I can connect cleaning and painting the spare room (also known as the war room in this house) to having company over...