Saturday, February 28, 2009

Go West (Again)

Buh-bye Wisconsin... I hardly knew ye.  Back to Washington I fly, hoping desperately that a Culver's restaurant has been built in my week long absence.  

125 completed invitations later, I do not regret my decision to make the wedding invites by hand.  I fully expected the process to be drastically more painful than it was.  We made it through three days of labor-intensive work with a) no cussing, b) no tears, c) no meltdowns ("I can't do this... we're just buying some invites!!!") and d) no fatally ruined friendships because of any Bridezilla outbursts ("That stamp isn't lined up perfectly!  Only one bathroom break every eight hours people!").  

TWP met HistoryGirlie, and HistoryGirlie met TWP.  As expected, they hit it off quite nicely.  (It's so fun to bring friends together.)  As we sat around the kitchen table today stamping, cutting, numbering, folding, and generally crafting our brains out, we chatted (and giggled) nonstop.  It reminded me of the olden days, where women would sit around knitting or weaving (or shucking peas) and gossip about everyone and everything... sharing their daily lives.  A modern-day quilting bee I think.

Check back later today - barring any airport debacles, I should be back in Anacortes with time to post my Target sale item of the week!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Newsworthy and Noteworthy

Howdy folks!  I'm off to shop with TWP for all the last minute craft supplies we need to make the wedding invites.  I spent yesterday in Madison doing wedding-ness, but I'm going to wait until I'm back in Washington and have time to give each wedding task appropriate coverage (plus then I'll have photos to share).

In the meantime, I thought I'd update those of you who know me in "the real world" and fill you in on how some of the other people in my life are doing!

~ HistoryGirlie's daughter Kitty is going to have tubes put in her ears this morning to finally deal with all of the infections she's been getting.  Poor little girl has been suffering since before Christmas, and an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doc) was finally able to see her and fix the problem.  Doc says that this is going to make a world of difference!  Hop on over to HistoryGirlie's site and send her some love today while her little one is recovering.

~ TWP is recovering from her latest debacle... while playing on the floor with my godbaby last week, godbaby fell on top of TWP and broke TWP's nose with her rock hard skull!  Okay, so technically TWP's nose was only "fractured," but I think that's a technicality that should be ignored - girl got her nose busted!  TWP is on the mend though, and now has enough stories to guilt trip her daughter at least into her mid-20s... ;)

~ My MOH, who I mentioned is preggers, is doing great!  She's about 22 weeks along, and has a super cute belly bump.  Girl managed to get through the first trimester without any morning sickness (I know, completely not fair), and is feeling really good.  We did some baby shopping this past weekend and had a great time ooohing and ahhhhing over the crib she and her hubby picked out.  They're planning to be surprised by the baby's gender, so they're going with a neutral colored animal theme nursery.  

~ Sister is busy as ever with work.  She works for Sports-4-Kids (gratuitous shout out!) overseeing many of the school coordinators, and it seems like there's never a "down time" in her job!  Lucy the puppy is as naughty as ever (so happy that hasn't changed).

If I've missed any important news, throw a line in the comments!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It Doesn't Take Much...

Okay, peeps, here's my big excitement for the day... if you read this Weddingbee article closely, you should recognize a familiar name...

Hooray for having a teensy weensy shout-out on my beloved! :)


Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I want to go again!!!  As an early birthday present, NavyGuy got me two tickets to see Wicked at the Fox Cities PAC while I'm here in Wisconsin for wedding prep.  The seats were freakin' awesome, and I was able to take my wonderful friend HistoryGirlie (NavyGuy would have come but alas, he was stuck in Washington doing Navy... stuff).

We saw the matinee this past Sunday.  I memorized the CD over a year ago when Sister sent me a copy, and had been dying - DYING - to see it ever since I had heard the closing number of Act 1 "Defying Gravity."  The day before I went it hit me that maybe I had built it up in my mind too much, and that I would inevitably be let down as it could never possibly meet my expectations.

Ha!  As if!  The show was magical.  HistoryGirlie and I settled into our fabulous orchestra seats ("snob seats" as I called them), and took in the scene.  Before the show starts, there is a giant backdrop on stage showing a vintage looking map of Oz, with a green glittering Emerald City in the middle.  A huge dragon head spans the top of the stage.  We perused the program and waited impatiently for it to begin.

I just can't say enough about the show.  It's the type of musical that you really do need to see several times, because there are too many details to take in all at once.  The costumes, and the sets, and the nuances that are incorporated - just awesome.  My favorite was the actress who played Glinda; she had tough shoes to fill (Kristin Chenoweth set the bar high in the role in the show's debut on Broadway), but Katie Rose Clarke made the part her own and really gave it depth.  Her humorous and lively performance of the song "Popular" had us all splitting our sides.  And no, the last song of Act 1 did not disappoint (love me some "Defying Gravity.")

(Donna Vivino as Elphaba, and Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda.  A still from "Popular.")

During intermission, HistoryGirlie treated me to the drink of the show, an "Oz-mopolitan."  So yummy!  I can't for the life of me remember what was in it, but it was green and girly and wonderful :)  The second act flew by as fast as the first, with a shocking ending and more emotion than expected.  We had such a great afternoon, and I can't begin to thank NavyGuy enough.  He would have loved to see the show... perhaps I'll have to see it again with him in Seattle!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Dressing a Pregnant Bridesmaid

My Maid of Honor (MOH) is going to be eight months pregnant at the wedding.  Until Saturday, I had been having recurring nightmares of having to send her down the aisle looking like this:

(I know, seriously!?!?  You have to hope this is a joke, and yet...)

So, the bridesmaid dresses that I chose (I picked two different styles to give the girls an option) were clearly picked without the idea that they would need to accommodate a belly bump.

Option 1: Strapless trumpet skirt

Option 2: Boat Neck A-Line

Both dresses will be latte colored (the brown color in the second option) and knee length, with a champagne colored sash.  Neither dress has an empire waist, which would be the ideal cut for a maternity formal gown.  Bless her heart, my MOH ordered the boat necked dress and hoped that the seamstress at David's Bridal would be able to work some magic.

Because I love her, I won't post the photo of MOH in the dress.  She looked... well... there's not a nice way to describe it.  Basically, a graduation gown or latte colored toga would have looked better.  So, on Saturday, MOH, my mom, MOH's mom, and I went to David's to figure out a solution.

Unfortunately, there weren't many other satin fabric style dresses to choose from, and I was very hesitant to find a dress in a different fabric.  Luckily, the dress gods smiled down on us, and we were able to a) find a close friend in town who offered to make MOH's dress in a maternity style similar to the other 'maids, and b) order the exact same latte satin fabric from David's Bridal, so the girls dresses will all coordinate.  I would totally recommend this route for other pregnant bridesmaids.  The material from David's was very reasonably priced (2 yards for $25).  It was a little stressful, and we had to deal with some odd exchange policies at David's, but the material is ordered, we have a pattern, and I have uber confidence in the new dressmaker.  My girls are going to look so chic!  I can't wait to see how it all comes together.  


Sunday, February 22, 2009

I {heart} Target

Just a quick Target write-up for the week, because I'm off to see Wicked in just a few short hours!!!!  (And please excuse the lack of photos, because I'm still figuring out how to use my mom's Mac.)

Cheap DVDs!  There's some fairly recent films for low prices.  Most of them have been out since before Christmas, but if you didn't get something that was on your holiday wish list, now's the time to pick it up...

For $10
~ Mamma Mia
~ Sex and the City
~ Enchanted
~ Wall-E
~ The Dark Knight
~ Kung Fu Panda

And for a little bit more, you can get these Blu-Ray versions (sale price $19.99, regular price usually closer to $30)
~ Madagascar 2
~ Eagle Eye
~ Iron Man
~ I am Legend

My personal suggestions?  Wall-E, Sex and the City, and Iron Man.  Just watched the last one a week ago, and it was much better than expected.  Good fun popcorn movie :)  

Happy shopping!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Travel and Shopping

The highlights and observations from the last thirty six hours, which I've spent either traveling (on a plane, in a bus, by car, etc.) or shopping... 

~ My bus driver from Anacortes to the Seattle airport had a mullet.  For some reason I feel very safe riding in a vehicle driven by a woman sporting a mullet.

~ The security folks emptied my carry-on bag and almost disrupted the oh-so-carefully-packed box of wedding invitation supplies.  Had any of the uncut paper pieces that I've sweated over for months gotten marred in their investigation, you'd probably have seen me on the news last night in a story about an airport security incident.

~ Spent time with my cousin doing some baby supply shopping.  Did you know there are such things as baby wipe warmers?  So the little one's behind doesn't get shocked by the cold baby wipe?  Also, you can now buy a stroller that's more complicated to operate than the jets NavyGuy flies (quite possibly more expensive too!).

~ Olive Garden for lunch - had my holy trinity of shrimp, asparagus, and risotto.  Yum.  O.

~ My mother "boxed up" the remainder of the breadsticks from our table when we left the restaurant.  She even took the napkin the sticks were wrapped in.  ("Well, I wasn't going to touch each of the breadsticks!")

I'm off to eat my leftover risotto (and breadsticks apparently).  Tomorrow is the day... I'll be "defying gravity" and seeing WICKED with Historygirlie!!!!!!  Wheeeeeee!!!!!

(I see now that my post probably should have been titled "Travel, Shopping, and Eating"...)


Paper Piercing

This card shows off new stamps and a new technique. The cupcake is part of the Stampin' Up Darling Dots hostess set. I stamped the cupcake in Lavender Lace and Regal Rose, then cut out the frosting portion of the pink one, and glued it on top of the purple. The technique that I used throughout the card is paper piercing.

Paper piercing is fairly basic and intuitive; you pierce the paper with a sharp object to create little holes in a pretty pattern! (How's that for a technical explanation?) I lack the professional paper piercing implements, so instead I used a needle from my emergency sewing kit. The key to creating neat holes is to place the paper on top of something soft so that the needle or sharp point can go through the paper smoothly. Many crafters suggest using foam, corkboard, or an old mouse pad under the paper; I again lacked real materials, so made do with a small stress ball shaped like Dwight from The Office (I'm nothing if not resourceful).

In the card above, I paper pierced several straight lines just to add borders, but I also added paper piercing to the cupcake, which actually has small dots in the stamp design! Fate!

Here are some other resources and tutorials about this technique. Once I return from my escape to the Central Time Zone and land of Culvers Wisconsin trip, I'll try and put together my own photo tutorial.

Paper Piercing and Faux Stitching
Make Your Own Paper Piercing Template


Friday, February 20, 2009

How to Fly While Retaining Sanity...

Since NavyGuy and I have been in separate states for much of the last three years, I've done a significant amount of air travel. As I'm packing and preparing for my battle with TSA flight tomorrow, I thought I would share a few of the tips and techniques I've honed to help make flying less like having a colonoscopy... sans anesthesia.

1. Ignore the adage about packing lightly. It's boo hockey. Cram as much as you can lift into your carry-on bag(s). The charge for overweight checked bags is outrageous, and most airlines are now charging to check more than one piece of luggage. I will gladly keep more of my belongings in my own hot little hands - even if it means I have a slight backache from hauling heavy luggage around the terminal - rather than pay the airlines to check an additional bag, and risk they will lose it.

2. Along those same lines, anything you may need within the first 24 hours at your final destination should be packed in your carry-on luggage. For example, I always carry on a small bottle of contact lens solution (more on the liquid requirements later), and my glasses. If my flight gets canceled or pushed to the next day, I would be in a world of hurt sleeping in my contacts. Pills, paperwork, or any other items that you would like on a deserted island with you? Put it in the carry-on.

3. Liquids. Alright, people, basically - it's a crapshoot. If it's an expensive tube of lipstick that you don't want to risk giving up - put it in your checked luggage. Seriously, they claim there are rules about these things (3 ounces, in a ziplock bag, blah blah blah), but I swear every TSA person and every airport and every security line has different rules. I've given up trying to keep it straight. Take small bottles of stuff, but don't freak if they make you throw out your 3.5 ounce hand lotion.

4. One thing that most people don't realize is that the liquid ban is just that - a ban on liquids. There's no ban on water bottles... just a ban on the water in them. I refuse to cough up the four dollars that most of the fast food places charge for a bottled water once you're past security, so a few years ago, I tried a pretty ingeniuous move. I packed an empty water bottle in my purse (you can use the cheap throwaway kind or a reusable one), and then filled it up at the bubbler once I was through the security line. Score! I had my water for the flight (because if you're in a bad seat, you could wait until halfway through the flight before they come around for your drink order), and I didn't have to pay out the nose for it. The one time I couldn't find a drinking fountain by the gates, I bitched to high heaven simply used a bathroom faucet. Try this one.

5. There's no rule that says you have to put your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment directly above your seat. In fact, if you're wise, you'll put it in the compartment across the aisle from your seat. It's much easier to stand up, reach across, and pull down your luggage that way, instead of trying to twist around and grab it from above your seat (plus then you can keep an eye on it). If that isn't an option, then be sure to stash your bag closer to the front of the plane.

6. Whenever possible, sit in an aisle seat. The window's fun if you haven't flown before, but there's more space, attention, and chances of making a quick exit if you have a connecting flight, when you're sitting on the aisle.

The biggest secret to successful travel is your attitude. Be polite, but recognize that it's a zero-sum game. You need to get to your destination with the least amount of pain involved. Remember...

"All Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle."
~General George S. Patton

Anyone else have any secrets to winning the battle of air travel?


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I've Never Hated Reading So Much...

Today was the kind of sub job I'd been dreading. Was it because...

a) it involved teaching advanced algebra?
b) the children were heinous monsters intent on torturing me?
c) the day involved recess duty?
d) all of the above?

Ha! It was secret option e... a completely unrealistic lesson plan for squirrely twelve year-olds!

Oh yes, here's what I was expected to do with the sixth graders. From 9:30-12:00, they were to read. That's it. Read a book, magazine, etc. Apparently, it was "read-in" day (whatever made-up elementary school boo-hockey that is), and the children were bringing in pillows, blankets, and stuff animals to curl up with all day while reading. Seriously? What twelve year old can spend 2 1/2 hours reading? I'm a bookworm adult and that time length is pushing it. Even better, the afternoon was to be spent either continuing to read, or playing board games. The classroom teacher had one copy of Sorry, several games of chess (yeah right), and a deck of cards.

By 10:15, I was ready to stab several of them. The kids were allowed to snack while "reading" and I 'bout lost my mind. Several of the girls decided to build a fort out of their blankets and desks (they at least then sat under it quietly reading), whereas the boys had more fun climbing into each other's sleeping bags, and hitting each other with the reading pillows. I sent them all outside for mandatory recess twice, and forced a writing assignment on them for the last 45 minutes of the day because my head was throbbing and it was the only thing I could think of to get them into their desks for some of the day. Of course, the one day I didn't bring any extra wordsearches or time-filling worksheets is the day that I could have used them!!

Worst lesson plan to leave for a sub ever. And, honestly, an irritating waste of a day. True, I read an entire young adult fiction book in the morning, but aren't American children falling behind the rest of the world in academics? How is lying around pretending to read a good use of school time? I know for certain the class spent last Friday on an un-educational ice skating field trip, and now another wasted day spent eating Valentine's Day candy and giving their sub a headache. I understand elementary school is different than high school, but still - come on! This shiznit would not fly in my elementary school!

Ugh. I'm going to go drink some more and NOT read anything.


Upcoming Excitement

Whoo hoo!!! Two days and I'm outta here! Friday I leave for Wisconsin for a week of wonderfulness including seeing Wicked (with HistoryGirlie!), wedding planning (hair trial, makeup trial, dress fitting, and venue meeting), and... Wedding Craft Fest 2009!

Yes, people, it's gonna get crafty up in here. There will be invitations. There will be escort cards. There will be ribbon (yards and yards and yards of it). There will be chocolate and wine and too much fun to imagine. NavyGuy is slightly nervous that once I get back to Wisconsin, I'll refuse to return to the West Coast (perhaps he's worried because I've talked about taking six suitcases on this trip...?). He'll be fine without me for the days I'm gone though; I've stocked the fridge, left him a carefully planned menu for each day (with delicacies like "spaghetti" and "fried egg sandwiches"), and threatened bodily harm if I return to my pretty pretty house overrun with cables, empty beer bottles, and man stench.

I'm subbing for the sixth grade again today, but ideally I'll be able to use the prep time to make my giant packing list. Hopefully I'll have some good stories later!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recipe: Easy Clam Chowder

NavyGuy is crazy - CRAZY - about clam chowder. He snaps it up whenever it's the soup d' jour at a restaurant, but at home when he has a craving I tend to pacify him with the canned version.

Tonight I tried a semi-homemade variety. Success! Here's an easy version you can try:

- 1 can cream of potato soup
- 1 can cream of celery soup (I got the low sodium ones)
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 a stick of butter
- 1 C of chopped clams (I used just one small can and it was plenty)
- salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, then add the other ingredients, giving them time to warm up. Once you've added the milk be careful not to let it boil.

That's it! We had some sourdough bread along with it and it was a grand little Tuesday night dinner.


Be Happy... (new stamps!)

Yea!!!!!! New stamps, new stamps, new stamps! And, new ink pads, blender pens, and paper. Let's just say my latest Stampin' Up order arrived, and it was sort of a lost weekend. The stamp set above is actually one that I received because of hostess points. My stamping lady Michelle hosts a Stamp Club each month, and the members take turns playing hostess and getting the rewards that come with the group order. January was my month so I got one free stamp set, plus $15 worth of free merchandise!

Other new (to me) products that are featured above are the three ink colors: lavender lace, certainly celery, and apricot appeal, all three of which are part of the "soft subtles" collection, usually viewed as spring colors. I am loving all of them and have been playing around mixing them with other ink colors. The stamp set is Darling Dots (pictured on the left here), which sadly you can't purchase outright, but you can earn if you get thee to a Stampin' Up event. The card base is a light gray, and the small white squares are each 1 inch.


Monday, February 16, 2009

We really do go to Target that much...

Since NavyGuy had today off (Happy President's Day!), we went out to lunch in Burlington, which naturally meant we also had to stop in at Target. Results?
Here, I've been convinced to don an oh-so-flattering cowboy hat. See how happy I am?

Next, NavyGuy needed a new pillow. His idea of appropriate pillow selection? Find an empty shelf and do a full-fledge, double-blind, consumer reports style test of softness, give, and general plush. It's really a wonder we haven't been banned from more public places.

Today's card features a cute little froggy stamp, with a thought bubble and "thinking of you" sentiment. I colored in the frog using my new blender pens from Stampin'Up (Historygirlie, I'll be bringing them home so we can play).


I {heart} Target

Here's looking forward to sunshine and warm weather :)

My Target recommendation for the week is a pair of these super trendy aviator sunglasses. They've been popular for several seasons, but are destined to reign for a while as the stylish pair to have. The best part of getting them from Target? The sale price of $12.99! Bring on summer!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Way We Celebrate

NavyGuy and I have never been Valentine's Day fanatics. Oh, there have always been gifts and cards and kind words, but the expectations are not sky high. Overly mushy gestures tend to give me hives. Additionally, our anniversary is only a couple weeks after the big V-Day, so we usually combine the two holidays and just spend the month of February happy we've survived another year to be with one another.

So yesterday we just spent time doing what we like to do - namely, shop, eat, watch movies, and eat more. The major task for the day was figuring out what NavyGuy is going to wear for the wedding. There's a Men's Wearhouse (with tuxedo rentals) near the good mall in Lynnwood, WA... how convenient :) Bolstered by a marvelous lunch at the mall food court (I love a good food court - especially one with Panda Express!), we braved the tuxedo junction. Surprisingly less painful than expected. NavyGuy had been resistant to the idea of a tux (something about a strong distaste for the satin stripe down the pant leg), but he found a tux that looked very "suit like" and made him feel quite dapper.
Pretty hot if I do say so myself. (Sorry the only photo is cropped oddly...) NavyGuy'll be rocking an ivory shirt (to coordinate with my dress), and a champagne vest, while the groomsmen and other males will sport latte colored vests to match the bridesmaids' gowns. I think the entire wedding party is going to knock some socks off!

Post-tux-measuring, we spent some quality time at Barnes and Noble and Best Buy. For dinner, we decided to do a low-key stir fry at home. While we ate, we watched Iron Man (hooray for Robert Downey Jr.'s comeback), and got ready for our fondue dessert...

Impressive, right? And not bad for an idea that NavyGuy had at about 5:00pm on Valentine's Day :) The fondue set was a Christmas gift from NavyGuy's parents many years ago, but we honestly just used it for the first time on Saturday. Despite my suggestions of dipping oreos or fingers into the chocolate sauce, we ended up with strawberries, cut up rice krispy treat, and pound cake. It was fantastic! So yummy, and the sauce actually stayed pretty warm. We didn't come close to eating all of it, but we tried our best. Washed it all down with some champagne we found in the fridge (maybe a housewarming gift at some point?) with our super chic NapaStyle champagne glasses (hmmm, just realized those were another gift from NavyGuy's parents... we're kind of lucky to have 'rents who give good stuff). You can see one of the glasses in the photo above, and NavyGuy is holding another in the photo below.

Awww... not to brag, but I'm kind of a lucky girl.

A nice mix of romance, productivity, and comfortableness. Plus, NavyGuy made me from scratch a Vday card. Yeah, that's right. Sorry ladies - he's taken :)

He used stamps all on his own! And designed this layout. He's pretty proud.


How NOT to sub for a class...

1. Let students throw paper airplanes all over the room and leave them there for the teacher to find the next day.

2. Let students attach post-it notes to every flat surface in the classroom (desks, walls, file cabinets, whiteboards, the ceiling...)

3. Send a class of students down to an unsupervised computer lab for ninety minutes while you remain in the classroom to catch up on your soaps.

4. Write a six page note. That details every moment of the day. Including each student bathroom request. And minor kerfuffle. And what you would change about the classroom setup.

5. Introduce yourself to the class by giving your name and then stating, "I'm kind of a big deal."

Yes, these are all real anecdotes. Yes, it pains me too.

Fellow educators - got any other examples of substitute teaching at its finest?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Wishing all of you a day full of love...


Friday, February 13, 2009

Navy Briefing of the Week - Slang Part 1

Just a quick language lesson for today - some of the common Navy slang that you may hear if you're talking to a sailor...

Name given to the document a sailor fills out to make various types of special request (i.e. emergency leave, move off base to civilian housing, etc.)
I filled out my leave chit, but I don't know if they'll approve the request.

The latest inside information. Also the poop, the skinny. A summary of important information. Rumors, scuttlebutt, the least you need to know, or very good preparation materials.
Often naval aviators will joke, "Live by the gouge, die by the gouge."
He gave me bad gouge so I didn't do well on the last test.

Roger (often abbreviated further to "rog.")
A term of understanding and acceptance when given an order or other information. Can be used with varying inflection and tone without consequence to signify enthusiasm or disgruntlement without stepping outside the bounds of professionalism.
"Meet outside the hanger at 1300." "Roger."


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Subbing Challenge

Yesterday I subbed for the a sixth grade class. I've been in their room once before, and they remember me as the "name lady" because I'm excellent at learning names quickly (I'll share my secrets some other time). It's getting to the time of the school year when kids are the worst. They are irritated with everyone in their class, they've gotten super comfortable with the teacher, they're stir crazy from the winter weather, and they're just generally nutty. Spring break cannot come soon enough.

The students weren't terrible in the morning. I worked with three different classes (the sixth graders have a "homeroom" but switch between three different teachers for their core classes), and each did fairly well with the social studies lesson on Neolithic societies. We learned about the city of Ur (think Mesopotamia, Tigris and Euphrates rivers - essentially modern day Iraq). The kids were quite amused by the word "ziggurat" (a large temple), but I think they got the point of the lesson which was the impact of irrigation on civilizations.

I swear they must have been mainlining sugar during lunch though, because they came back to the classroom resembling rabid dogs (I kid you not, I think one of them was foaming at the mouth.) Thank god for nice weather; they all went outside for recess. I've started to realize that as a sub, I'm going to have to lower my expectations slightly.

As a regular classroom teacher, I really never had problems with classroom management. I might be jinxing myself by admitting this, but it's true. It's something my principal always marveled over, especially considering my small stature and youth. Once another young teacher actually came to me saying the principal had suggested she talk to me to see how I handled unruly students. I realize now that so much of classroom management is based on respect, clear procedures and rules, and follow through.

When I sub for a class though, I don't have any of those things on my side. The students and I have not developed a relationship, so there's little trust or earned respect. It's someone else's classroom, so they've established the procedures and rules; if those are more lax, I likely can't impose more order in one day. And as a sub, I have little power to follow through with consequences or long-term solutions to any behavioral problems. That doesn't mean I can't try my best when I am in the room, but I'm going to have to accept that the classroom is not going to be just like mine when I'm only subbing for one day.


100 Days

We're at the 100 day mark. 100 days until the wedding. 100 days to complete 109 items on theknot checklist. It seems ominous to have more items to-do than days in which to do them.

Wait. Whoa. 100 days until I get married....

Holy whoa.


Get a Different Name Day

February 13th is "Get a Different Name Day." I always wonder who creates these random holidays. They're discussed on many different websites and seem to be more than just the creation of one crazy person, but how do they get invented? Can anyone declare a holiday? Can I? Hmmm... okay, a thought for a different day.

Tomorrow is Get a Different Name Day, apparently in honor of everyone who's unhappy with their birthname. Personally, I enjoy mine. It's unique enough that growing up, I never had other kids in class with the same name. Yet, it's not so unique that it's unpronounceable, or people think "whoa - those parents sure did a number on her." Mine is also spelled a less traditional way, and I've always liked how the letters look together. Yes, I notice these kinds of things.

I also have a theory about names, particularly for girls. In my opinion, the girlier the name, the girlier the girl. For instance, I consider Stacey to be an incredibly girly name. Every Stacey I know? Very girly. So, I was always glad to have a name that wasn't supremely girly, because I think your name can help shape your personality a bit.

Even though I'm satisfied with my name, given the chance, would you change yours? If so, to what? Anyone else have a name theory? (Or a Stacey that disproves my theory?)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Postage Woes

And the vicious cycle continues. Ever since email has become the go-to means of communication, the post office has been suffering. How does USPS battle the online onslaught? Well, by raising the price of stamps of course. In order to continue to make a profit with declining customers (20% fewer letters have been sent in the past 10 years - that's 11 billion pieces of mail), the post office has to increase the cost of stamps. (To be fair, the prices are also increased to offset inflation.) But, what results from the price hike? Some irritated customers... who turn to more email in frustration!

Why am I ranting about this? Because the annual postage increase is throwing a wrench in my wedding mailing plans. The cost of a first-class stamp is going to 44 cents on May 11th. So what? Most of you are probably saying, gee, at least she knows about the change far in advance. Point taken, but, here are the issues. The wedding invitations themselves will be sent before the May 11th rate hike and should be safe from drama; they need to go out towards the end of March. The RSVP envelope, pre-stamped by me, myself, and I, is another story.

Those are supposed to be returned to my mom by May 1st. Knowing however, that people will probably send them back late, I now have to figure out whether to stick with the 42 cent stamp on the RSVP, or play it safe and shell out the extra two cents for each envelope just in case people send them back later. I could go with the Forever stamps on all the RSVPs, but gosh they're ugly. I'm sure that's what I'll end up doing, but it means I have to start stalking the post office in Anacortes to hoard those stamps. Anyone know a good black market contact for Forever stamps? :)

Am I missing any potential problems with this rate hike? Anybody see a flaw in my plan for dealing with the United States Postal Service?


Monday, February 9, 2009

Cinderella's Slippers Don't Hold a Candle...

They have arrived! My pretty pretty wedding shoes have arrived! My first pair were a different pair, and while also beautiful, they were too heavy. They had thick soles and would have been impossible to walk in after about twenty minutes.

These gems, however, will create no such problems. I strode around the house for a good thirty minutes after they arrived, and didn't get so much as a hint of a blister. I love how delicate they look, yet are still sturdy enough to stand up to a strenuous day of aisle-walking, dancing, and parading around like a princess. I do plan to "foot petal" the bejesus out of them in order to ensure that I can last a long time in them. (But of course, anal-retentive soul I am, I've also got Plan B flip flops). I stood next to NavyGuy in them to test the height difference (in the three inch heels I now come above his shoulder - yea!). My heels came in a pink and brown box (like the company knew my wedding colors!), and even had a satin pink bag to protect them from any possible marring or damage. They meet all of my criteria! Hallelujah, one more thing can be crossed off the list. If you want to check out numerous views, you can see the "Taran" shoe here.


I {heart} Target

This week's featured Target item... adorable and festive tableware!
The pink owl paper plates would be fabulous to use for a Valentine's Day snack (of cupcakes or chocolates of course). Or, if you're cutting costs and skipping the fancy dinner with your sweetie, you could still splurge and decorate the dining room at home with the pretty table runner (and then eat your budget-friendly spaghetti off of the matching plates!).

Having an intimate knowledge of Target stores, I'd wager that you can find these fun items near the candy isles; they're probably close to the special V-Day candy hearts and baking goods. There's also cups, napkins, place card holders, and smaller 7 inch plates.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekend Update...

Despite spending the weekend under the weather with a cold, there's still a little fun to report:

~ NavyGuy and I made our weekly Target run on Friday night... look out! Clearance signs in the scrapbooking aisle :) I definitely walked away with a great scrapbook for 50% off, and also found two cute stamps in the dollar spot - a pretty damask pattern, and a little turtle, one of my fav animals. There was also the obligatory stop at Michaels, and I used my 40% off coupon to get a super cute basket to store magazines or my latest craft project.

~ Watched The Duchess with Kiera Knightly and Ralph Fiennes. It's the story of 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Kiera rocks it out in a corset (her signature look), and Ralph, per usual, is fabulous. It's a great rental flick if you like costume dramas.

~ I finished up my Valentines on Saturday. If all goes well, that means they could actually be in the mail on time to get to all my sweeties! NavyGuy went flying with a friend and came home filled with adrenaline; flying is like crack for him. We spent a nice Saturday night at home eating burritos and watching Criminal Minds.

~ Today I finally caught up on Grey's - whoa! Love the new peds doc (and her hair), love the Yang-Hunt Victorian romance, and love that Meredith and Christina are friends again. The Izzy storyline is dragging on way too long, and they seriously need to diagnose that girl and move on with the drama.

That's about it for the weekend. Some shopping, some flicks, and some recuperation. NavyGuy was on base all day doing a twelve hour watch, but now we're settling in for another night of chill-axing at home :)


Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy New Baby!

HistoryGirlie's sister had a beautiful baby girl on Wednesday! Little Claire was 8 lbs 6 oz and had a full head of hair. Mommy and baby are doing great and HistoryGirlie is over the moon :) She can't wait to introduce her own sweet baby girl to her new cousin!

All this baby happiness inspired the following card:

The sketch is from Card Sketch a Day, and I used a mixture of supplies. I believe the paper came from the Target Dollar Spot, the ribbon is Michaels, and the stamp is from this Stampin' Up hostess set from the Spring/Summer 2008 Collection. I love the little flower brad that I added to the greeting - it matches the flowers on the paper! (The photo turned out a little gray for some reason. In real life it doesn't look so dingy.)

Congrats to the HistoryGirlie family!!!


Navy Briefing of the Week - Military Time

Let's begin this week's lesson with a joke - albeit an illuminating one.

An airfield was shared by an air base and a civilian airport.

A message came through to the tower. "What time is it?

The voice back from the tower said, "Who are you?"

The flier replied, "What difference does that make?"

"Plenty, if you're American Airlines it's three PM.
If you're Air Force it's 1500 hours.
If you're Navy it's six bells.
If you're Army the big hand's on the twelve and the little hand's on the three.
And if you're Marines it's Thursday afternoon and it's 120 minutes until happy hour."

Having lived with two Marines for a couple months, I will vouch for the truthfulness in this story. But the bigger issue is our topic for the day - time in the military. It took me three months to get used to the clock in NavyGuy's car. Am I exceptionally slow? (Don't answer that.) His clock was set to what's colloquially known as "military time" and for most of us civilians, this presents a terrible challenge.

Most of you are already familiar with military time; you've heard it in every war movie where an old crusty drill sergeant yells about "getting off your sorry bottoms at zero seven hundred or there'll be hell to pay!" The military avoids labeling different times of day as a.m or p.m (which I learned are Latin abbreviations meaning, "before midday" and "after midday." You're welcome.). Anyway, the military - including the Navy - use the following system to tell time:

You start at 2400 (or midnight). Once you are a minute past that, it's 0001, because the 24 hour clock has started. Let's say you need to check into base at 12:15 a.m. That's 0015, pronounced zero-zero-one-five. From there you have all the AM times- 0100 (zero-one-hundred) being one AM, all the way to 1200 (twelve-hundred) which is noon.

After noon it becomes a little trickier. 1:00pm becomes 1300 (thirteen-hundred), 4:00pm becomes 1600 (sixteen hundred), and 11:00pm becomes 2300 (twenty-three hundred). Once you get to midnight, you start over.

Now, the real issue arises when you need to convert the numbers. Military members are told to subtract 12 from the military time and that will give you the "normal time." For instance, if a meeting is scheduled for 1600, then you take 16-12 and you get 4:00pm. I have a slightly faster way. I simply take the military time and subtract two. It works for most of the numbers; 1300, okay, 3-2=1... 1:00! (This information came from

So this seems like a lot of nonsense to go through when you've got enough other stuff to worry about, right? Well, as irritating as I initially found it (and still find it sometimes), it actually is a good system. Eliminating the am and pm confusion reduces the risk of accidents, miscommunication, and other problems. If an airstrike is planned, there are enough other things to worry about besides coordinating the time with everyone involved. And the U.S. military isn't the only organization to find this time system useful; police departments, firestations, railway stations, bus depots, hospitals, and most of the rest of the world (except us crazy Americans and the Canadians), use military time.

So, will civilians adopt the 24 hour clock and join the rest of the world? Considering that we're some of the lone holdouts in the whole metric vs. English measurement system... I wouldn't change your clocks just yet :)


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Good Move Bad Move

Good Move: Hauling my booty out of bed early, showering, and getting ready to make the day a productive one.

Bad Move: Returning to bed to eat my oatmeal and watch Jon Stewart (and consequently losing an additional half an hour researching the author he interviewed, investigating why our Comedy Central station seems to come from Canadian TV, and watching a YouTube video of Ron Paul).

Good Move: Ordering wedding shoes from an inexpensive online source with free shipping.

Bad Move: Pitching the shipping box the shoes came in before realizing they were too big and would need to be returned.

So, I'm off to the post office to return the failed wedding shoes. I fully expect a withering glance from a postal worker at my failure to arrive prepared, and probably 2-3 customer complaints when I have to box up the shoes while holding my place in line. Pray for me!


All You Need is Love

And this is what happens when you need to use up a random collection of scraps....

The layout sketch comes from Jen del Muro and can be found here.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why One Shouldn't Rely on WebMD for Health Care

So in the past 24 hours, I've experienced the following symptoms: sore throat, painful swallowing, sinus pressure, slight cough, stuffy nose, migraine type headache.

Huh? First I thought it was strep throat. So I checked the back of my throat in the mirror with a flashlight (looking for the telltale white or yellow spots). No dice. The throat still felt a little sore on the outside, but that was probably from my constant pressing on where I think my lymph nodes are, attempting to decide if they were swollen.

Second diagnosis - avian bird flu. (Hello, I have several of the symptoms - cough, sore throat - and we have eaten a lot of chicken lately, and one just cannot be too careful.) Apparently, I would have had to actually run around in a chicken pen... with live chickens or poultry... who were infected with the virus. Fine, apparently, there won't be a bird flu scare in Northwest Washington.

I went to bed last night fairly certain it was just a cold, and vowed to drink orange juice and continue carrying on like a child suck it up and deal. But then I woke up at 4:45am with a blistering headache. It felt like either a) I had developed a brain tumor overnight, b) my brain was swelling and pushing on the outside of my skull, or c) someone put my head in a vise grip, then filled all of my sinus cavities with Krazy glue, and finished off the torture by repeatedly cracking me upside the head with a baseball bat.

After twenty minutes of lying in bed and debating waking up NavyGuy, I opted to do a quick search on brain swelling (because if I'm going to wake NavyGuy up before six a.m. for a medical emergency, it better be real and not another case of "the girl who cried Ebola"). I've seen enough episodes of House to know that brain swelling, aka edema, is fairly serious. However, I'm writing this post a good twelve hours after the onset of symptoms, so we can probably assume it's not any of the causes of brain swelling (meningitis, encephalitis, or other scary sounding itises).

Eventually I decided to take some Tylenol and try to go back to sleep. But now I've still got a headache, I haven't done anything productive all day, and my sore throat is coming back. Thoughts on what this mystery illness could be? I've always had a secret desire to come down with a (non-fatal) illness that is brand new and could be named after me, and I'm wondering if this is my shot.

Editor's Note: NavyGuy squashed my new disease plan by pointing out that most diseases get named after the doctor, not the patient. I countered with Lou Gehrig's disease, and he said that 1) I'm not a famous baseball star, and 2) getting a disease named after you is hardly equal compensation for dying.


Wishing You Love

This card uses another stamp from a set of six various greetings. What I like about this specific stamp is that you can color in the words. The heart in the word "love" also lends itself well to adding embellishments; the small pink heart in the middle of the card is a brad that I attached.

I can't for the life of me find where I got the original sketch idea for this card, but if it was you, please let me know!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Recipe: Wisconsin Chili

With the cold and ickiness last week, it was the perfect time for chili. NavyGuy and I prefer the Wisconsin version (with macaroni noodles!) and I've shared the recipe below...

Wisconsin Chili
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 to 1.5 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 C chopped onion
- 1 packet of chili mix seasoning
- 1/2 C water
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes undrained
- 1 T brown sugar
- 1 C uncooked elbow macaroni

1. Heat oil in skillet. Brown beef and onions.
2. Add chili seasoning mix, water, tomatoes, and brown sugar.
3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, then simmer for anywhere from ten minutes to several hours (the longer it simmers the richer the flavor).
4. Just before you're planning to eat it, cook the elbow macaroni according to the package directions. Then add them to the chili mixture. (If you add the macaroni to the chili mixture earlier in the process, the noodles will soak up all of the water and end up overdone.)

Serve with oyster crackers, Saltines, or rye bread. Mmmmmm!


Friend and Flower

Here's a great example of a card that could be used for many different occasions - it's general enough to use for Valentine's Day or could work as a "just because" card. The red flower do-dads were a lucky find; I grabbed them randomly from the dollar bin at Joann's last week, without a specific purpose in mind and lo and behold, they matched the little flower in the stamp almost perfectly! (I love when things work out.) And when I needed a patterned paper to match the brown ink, I simply used a small background stamp and inked the little dot pattern on the white card base.The layout design came from Jen del Muro, but the stamp I wanted to use was horizontal, so I flipped the sketch! That may seem like a "duh" kind of thing, but sometimes inspiration doesn't hit until you look at something a different way :)


Monday, February 2, 2009

I {heart} Target

Another new weekly feature - the best of the Target ad! Each Monday I'm going to highlight one sale item at Target that I heart and even if I can't buy it - you definitely should :)

Week of February 1st: Double Storage OttomanOn sale for $59.99!!! This ottoman is my baby. It's been on my drool-worthy list for over a year, and it was the first item I added to the wedding registry. Because the gods love me - it now resides in our bedroom, and when it's a really good day, NavyGuy has not used it as a makeshift clothes hamper... (I'm still explaining ottoman rules to him). I would recommend the dark brown, but it also comes in black.



We're famous! Check this out.

Let me know which ones are your favorites (and feel free to view the full selection here).


Super Bowl Sunday

I've discovered what it takes to make football interesting for me.


NavyGuy and I went to a Super Bowl party tonight. Another flight student in his class was hosting a party at his house, and as we're always up for chicken wings a good time with friends, we headed over there to watch the game. Part of the fun of the night revolved around a pool that everyone threw money into. NavyGuy and I had awfully terrible numbers (the pool was based on numbers in the teams' scores at the end of each quarter), but as the fourth quarter neared an end, we were in position to win the big prize! Suddenly, I was inappropriately interested in whether or not the Steelers scored again... as opposed to previously when I was only interested in the commercials (which by the by, stunk hard core this year). Sadly, the stupid Steelers did manage to score again, snatching a twenty dollar prize away from me.

Still a good party though (despite NavyGuy's near coronary at the poor calls by the refs). I brought the infamous Beer Dip, a recipe that Historygirlie gave me a few years ago. It has become a staple of all festivities and gatherings ever since, and NavyGuy will dip almost anything into it (chips, pretzels, veggies, chicken wings, napkins, etc.). It's too tasty not to share the recipe:

HistoryGirl Beer Dip
Mix all of the following ingredients (I use a hand mixer to make sure it's super smooth): two regular size packages of cream cheese, one packet of ranch dressing mix, 1/2 a can of beer, and a little bit of shredded cheese. That's it! Refridgerate (it's excellent the second day because the beer has soaked in more), and eat with pretzels or crackers.


Four Square Flowers

More fun from the new spring/summer Stampin' Up catalog. This stamp set is Sweet Stems. This was one of the cards we made at a new catalog showcase. We got to play with many of the new stamp sets and papers, plus get our hands on the pretty new catalog of crafting goodness!

Here's another card using the same stamp set. To make the little colored vases we simply used two different sizes of oval punches and then trimmed the top and bottom of each oval punch-out.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stamp Club

This month's stamp club technique was stamping with bleach. Several things to keep in mind when doing this:

1. The bleach will show up differently on different colored paper; we stamped on pink and it showed up white, but had the paper been orange, it would have shown up yellow. So, it would be wise to test the stamp before you begin (unless you like surprises :).

2. The bleach will take a bit longer to dry than regular ink. We stamped the pink paper, then set it aside and worked on the rest of the card before attaching the pink paper to the card based.

3. You will need to clean your stamp very well before using it on a regular ink pad again, otherwise you risk getting bleach on the ink pad. My stamping lady recommended scrubbing the stamp with an actual stamp cleaner (as opposed to just water), and then testing the stamp on a piece of scratch paper.

The effect is unique, and we would have created more "bleach" cards if not for the stench! Many of us were getting headaches from the little bowl of bleach we were dipping the stamp into, but if you're looking for something different to try, it's neat. (And if you look closely at the elephant's toenails, I colored them pink!)

The other card we made that night featured more traditional Valentine's colors - and glitter! Yea :) The red paper strip in the middle is torn on both top and bottom edges, and then bent slightly to add dimension. The glitter is crystal effects from Stampin' Up, as are all of the other products seen.

All designs come from Michelle Webster, Stampin' Up Demonstrator.

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