wednesday windows #6.

holy bananas, i am actually posting this on a wednesday. sort of shocking.

taken through the window of my mom's car. southern california is not exactly known for frequently running trains, so seeing one moving is a bit of a spectacle. what i found extra fascinating was the fact that this train waited for the CARS! since when do the trains do the waiting? only in L.A.

a caprese sandwich. seriously the best sandwich in the world. so simple, so delicious. i could eat these all day. sometimes i do. in fact, when the mister and i got married, i only had two requirements regarding  wedding refreshments...caprese sandwiches and coronas. 

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wednesday windows #5.

yes, yes, yes, i am aware that it is friday. but i was busy like a little bee. now i am settled in los angeles at my parent's house and i have a spare five minutes (well actually i do not, but it sounds good), so i am posting my wednesday windows. enjoy.

let's face it..nobody likes to sit squished on plane for five hours. but i LOVE the view.

i met my nephew for the first time yesterday. he is almost a year old and he is absolutely, positively, the cutest little guy in the world (i am of course 100% unbiased). i have spent a grand total of 1 hour with him and i am head over heels in love.

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holiday haul.

some of you might be wondering the results of my shameless hustling for holiday gifts, so here are pictures of all of my gifts. did my 18 students and their parents appropriately show their appreciation? you decide.

a handmade card and little debbie cupcakes.

a coloring page and a candy cane.
a handmade card.

a stuffed penguin and a miniature rubber robot.

an eraser.


framed by chaos.

as if i did not have enough projects on my plate, on tuesday i decided that i should give a gift to some of my colleagues. of course i cannot walk into a store and buy some little trinkets like a normal person. oh no. i have to create. right. on a budget. super. luckily, i mentioned this to mrs. nipper knapp and not surprisingly, she is a treasure trove of ideas. she promptly rattled off some quick and easy options and i was ready to roll...picture frames for the ladies and one embroidered hanky for the gent. no problem. except for having only 48 hours to buy the supplies, make the frames and hanky, and wrap up all the goodies. yikes!

a quick trip to michaels and target to secure supplies and i was ready. twelve picture frames...here we go. i set up a little assembly line to whip through these as efficiently as possible. paint the back of all the frames. apply modge podge and attach purty paper. cut the paper to size. modge podge over the paper. three times. wait for it all to dry. clean up the edges. insert a cute lerato designs card in place of the advertisement picture. wrap it up and tie a bow with a handmade gift tag. voila! it only took sixteen hours.

and then i remembered that i needed to embroider a hanky. ummm...never embroidered a monogram before, but how hard can it be, right? eeeps. it might not be the finest monogram ever completed, but it was done with love and that is all that matters. i hope.

of course 8 hour days at work followed by 8 hour evenings of crafting means i did not get enough sleep and ran myself right into another cold. argh!!! but i will get better fast and then i will plow headfirst into the real christmas gift creations, because it would not be christmas if i was not crafting until the last possible minute.


wednesday windows #4.

the fourth installment of wednesday windows.

looking through the window of our china cabinet. in case you are not already aware, i spent a little time in africa and kind of fell in love with the place. there is something inherently peaceful about life in a little african village and i harbor dreams of raising children in the tranquil setting. of course there are those minute details like devastating poverty, appalling health care, and inferior education... not to mention the fact that i cannot exactly stomach the thought of being ten THOUSAND miles away from my family (so instead the mister is that distance from his family - thank goodness he is not a momma's boy). maybe we could relocate lesotho just off the coast of california. then the mister and i could have our cake and eat it too.

this is oliver. from an early age i had an unnatural fondness for monkey and orangutans. actually, i thought it was completely realistic to think that i could have one as a pet. turns out that my parents were not exactly supportive of that plan. but when i was about ten, they did buy me oliver. we found him at price club (the predecessor to costco) and it was love at first sight. he has hung around with me ever since and now spends his days lounging on our bed while we are at work.

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when i was a kid i remember begging my mom to let me buy this or that for my teacher. twice a year i got to pick something little to show my teacher how much i loved her. it was never anything earth-shattering, but it was my childish way of saying "thanks." from my perusals of the blogosphere, craftosphere, and facebook, this tradition continues, yet the kids at my school do not seem to have gotten the memo. i am a big believer in the motto "it is the thought that counts," so does that mean that despite wrangling your kid for six hours a day, five days a week, for 10 MONTHS that i do not even warrant a thought?

patiently teaching 5-year olds how to weave paper.

in five years of teaching, which thanks to various administrative shuffling, puts me somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 kids, i have received nine gifts and only a handful of cards. now i know the economy is in the dumps, but is it truly too much to ask that you go to the dollar store and buy a candle or sit your kid down with a paper and some crayons and tell them to make a thank you card for their teacher? really?

more times than i can remember my mom told me that it does not take much to say thank you and it sure does make the other people feel special. so this year, thanks to the brainchild of ms. pumpky, i have taken matters into my own hands. blatantly begging some might say. i prefer to think of it as continuing education...teaching kids that they should say thank you. i am not picky. handmade cards and dollar store gifts are the apple of my eye; all i ask is that you think of me. to that end, i placed a box on my desk, stuck a fake present in it and pointed it out to my kids telling them that if they have cards or gifts for me, they can just put them in the box. i plan to give them daily reminders of the box's existence. shameless plugging? perhaps. but i have decided that it is necessary since their parents refuse to teach them how to be good people.

the beggar collection box.

for those of you that have kids in school...do not forget the teacher. they work hard day in and day out to try to prepare your child for the future and it is always nice to know that you care. no need to spend a fortune...feel free to have your kids make a popsicle stick photo frame or some other crafty dealio (click here if you need some inspiration) and i guarantee the teacher will love it. after all there is a reason they chose to surround themselves with little people.


happy winter.

despite the fact that most of my students have never experienced actual freezing temperatures, let alone snow, they still love to make winter pictures. so as promised, here are some of their wacky snowmen. i am particularly fond of the one that appears to have been shot out of an invisible cannon.

••posted from my phone••


wednesday windows #3.

i am aware that today is thursday and this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but it didn't happen...give a girl a break.

today i happened upon an accidental theme: school.

this is a window into my afternoon. to raise money, my school has monthly dances where the kids pay $1 for 45 minutes of acting like wild animals. is it obvious that i hate supervising these "dances"?

i love creating things, so it should not come as a shock that my favorite time of the work day is art time. i am not one of those teachers that helps the kids create "perfect" art. nope, i give them directions and let them do the rest. not only am i overly fond of their wonky creations, i think it is a more genuine representation of the kids. this is a picture of menorahs they made after learning about hanukkah. i was planning to post a picture of their snowmen, but forgot to take the picture. i will have to post that tomorrow.
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wednesday windows #2.

the second installment of wednesday windows.

i took this picture through my windshield (fear not, i was stopped at a light). since childhood i have coveted the original VW beetles. i still harbor fantasies that i will one day own one of these babies. the one in the picture is a bit dilapidated, but here on the streets of miami it is rare to find such a gem amongst all the hummers and lamborghinis.

i spend approximately 1,000 hours a year holed up with small children, so it is probably no surprise that on the days recess is rained out, i am just as saddened as the kids. over the years i have come up with some creative ways to keep the kids entertained without causing me to lose my sanity, but today's inspiration was the best ever. i dumped a box of mini-blocks on the carpet, paired up the kids, and gave them one minute to make a tower. tallest tower got a point. and then we did it again. and again. and again. instant hit. clearly we know what will be happening in my room the next time it rains on our recess.

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making the rounds.

christmas has always been a big deal in my family. my childhood is filled with memories of christmas crafts and helping my mums pull down the boxes filled with ornaments and other goodies. i was always super excited to get started, but like most children, my attention span only lasted about 7.4 minutes. luckily my mums had enough motivation to single-handedly complete the days long task of decorating. the collection of goodies has grown through the years...these days christmas takes over the entire house, inside and out. every nook and cranny houses a snowman, santa, or christmas tree. there are festive towels, napkins, and dishes. and the pièce de résistance is the christmas village, which sits atop the rock wall between the living room and kitchen. all of this probably sounds a bit gaudy, but i assure you it is not. it is a sight to behold.
mums is the only person patient enough to properly adorn the tree with lights.
other than my two years in the peace corps, i have spent all of my christmas' at my parent's house. i guess knowing that i will be in the midst of my mums' festive house explains why i have not taken to decorating my own house. plus there is the minor conundrum that i have no place to store my decorations the rest of the year. but this year i decided that at the very least we should have a wreath on our door. i had only two requirements...it had to be perfect and inexpensive. oh and if i had to make it myself it had to be relatively easy, because i am supposed to be working on a thousand other projects. no problem, right? ummm...sure. except other than knowing i wanted something fun and modern, i was not exactly sure what i considered the perfect wreath. 
some lovely wreaths. clockwise from top left: contemporary wool felt wreath by pinno, warmest greetings wreath by anthropolgie,  peppermint red berry christmas wreath by stylish stems, glitter berry wreath by pier 1, modern wreath by itsnick, and sweet fabric wreath by jane joss.
and then out of the blue a fellow blogtress, mrs. nipper knapp, posted a picture of some adorable flowers she had made. how lucky for me that when i asked for flower instructions, despite my not mentioning i wanted to make a wreath, she directed me to this felt wreath tutorial!! soooooo perfect. i jumped in my car, raced off to michaels, procured the necessary supplies, and came home to make my wreath. i even got the mister involved making little balls of yarn, so that i would be able to wrap my wreath. the finished product was more perfect than even i could have imagined.
the flowers all cozy together.
of course i forgot to buy ribbon to hang the wreath (oops). i tried to use fishing line, but the felt flowers are surprisingly heavy and the thing was hanging kind of wonky. i switched tactics and made a braid with some of the leftover yarn. naturally our door is metal, so simple things like a thumbtack in the top of the door were not an option. i had to dismantle one of the mister's hangers to make an over-the-door hook. but in the end, the whole thing worked out and if i do say so myself it is perfect-O!!



well things did not turn out exactly as planned. the mister was working from four to midnight, so we planned our big dinner for friday. our menu was roast chicken, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, my mom's pineapple cheese gelatin salad, cranberry sauce, biscuits, and pecan pie. yummmmmy!! and then i got sick. the grocery shopping did not happen and neither did the cooking.  i ended up eating macaroni & cheese from a box, but happily i woke up today feeling loads better. i shopped the black friday sales from the sanctity of our bed, but by 3pm i could no longer contain myself. i wanted to browse around target (of course) and go to winn dixie to buy a pecan pie, just for a taste of thanksgiving.
the makings of our thanksgiving feast.
our pecan pie trip turned into a full-fledged "let's make a mini-thanksgiving meal." not exactly the meal i had originally planned, but it was not completely awful. we had fried chicken, mashed potatoes from a box, with gravy from a can, pre-packaged dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, potato salad and hawaiian delight from the deli, a store-made pecan pie, a can of whipped cream, and for some reason a watermelon. i am quite certain this was only one step up from having our thanksgiving dinner catered by burger king. but at least the plate of food satisfied my burning desire to participate in the feasts of thanksgiving.
certainly not the worst meal i have ever eaten.
despite not being able to enjoy the actual day of thanksgiving, i am still thankful for all the wonderful things in my life. most importantly, i am thankful for the mister, who this week won the award for world's greatest husband. i am thankful that we are happy and healthy (except for the little blips of colds and flu). and i am thankful for my family and friends, who love me through thick and thin.

i hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving!!!


wednesday windows #1.

i saw this idea on keri's blog and i cannot help but jump on the same ship. but, lest you think i am purloining the idea, please note that keri specifically invited people to join in the festivities. i am typically not a joiner, but this adventure is too cool to let it pass me by.
picture from the claw.
the original wednesday windows idea and instructions come from sherri at "the claw".

Post two pictures on your blog. The first, is literally a picture taken from a window (from your home, car, wherever your window view may be at the time). The second - a little peek into your world (a window into it if ya will - and I know you will), with a bit of an explantation. You can use the second image as a stepping off point for sharing something with your blog readers (and me - please link back to the claw in a comment if you play along), that they may not know about you or your life. It can be anything. It need not be particularly revealing, or profound, just describe what is going on in the picture. Perhaps, we can learn a bit more about each other.
now for my first two pictures...
the view from the doctor's office.
i sort of loathe the idea that i live in miami, but then i think about the perks and it does not seem so bad. a) it is the end of november and a balmy 80 degrees. b) i go to mundane places like the doctor's office and have to face this view. not the easiest place to live, but is also not the easiest place to leave.
the entrance is enough to make me swoon.
the mister and i live in a blah condo. don't get me wrong...when i hang out at the pool on our little bay, it feels like we are living at a resort. but it is in the middle of urban sprawl and i secretly dream of living in a little bungalow like this...preferably in a small village in europe.

and that's it. my first wednesday windows. if you are digging this idea, then you should join the bandwagon...just be sure to link back to sherri at the claw.


nasal irrigation?

went to sleep at 9:30 last night. little early for this night owl. but then i woke up in the middle of the night congested and sneezing, which instantly explained the early bedtime. i then spent a miserable day at work as my congestion increased and a fever took hold. this got me thinking about neti pots, which lately seem to be appearing in my reading material with increasing frequency. more than one celebrity has stepped out to say that they swear by these little gems. what is a neti pot you ask? why, it is a nasal irrigation device of course. sounds disgusting? it is.
cute little bugger, eh?
it is kind of like giving your sinuses a bath. strange concept, but when you are congested, it sounds like a dream. so i stopped by the local drugstore and picked up my very own neti pot. i have to admit that i was a bit wary the first time around. but i read the directions and with a little encouragement from the mister i filled up the pot and set it to action. not necessarily disgusting, but definitely weird. weird. weird. and then instant relief. holy crap, this thing might be the greatest cold remedy ever! it made my poor head feel so much better that i could not wait to use it again. we will see how i feel tomorrow, but for the moment, i have to give the pickel stamp of approval to this genius invention. don't knock it until you try it. just do me a favor...whatever you do, do NOT go to google images and look up "neti pot." yikes.
pickel stamp of approval.



i never run out of things that i need to sew. the current list includes two quilts, a gym bag, some yet to be determined christmas gifts, and all sorts of goodies for my nephew. oh and i have an etsy shop that has not been getting its deserved attention. right. naturally that means it is time to wander the internet to find a gazillion other projects to add to the list. there are so many amazing blogs and so little time.

so with "nothing" to do today, i decided it was imperative that my nephew have the most perfect handmade advent calendar in the world. right. he is 11 months, so i am sure he would agree this is a necessity. i used this adorable design as inspiration (a little pocket for each day...too cute!!) and spent the last two days "whipping" it together. clearly, i am shamelessly bucking for the auntie of the year award. 
the cutest advent calendar in the world.
i figure if i want that coveted title, i better end this year with a bang. last week i was thinking chickens. but i just discovered these owl pillows, which i think are the bees knees.
well i guess that would be the owls knees. me thinks that perhaps for christmas the nephew is getting some owls instead of a chicken. thoughts? or perhaps you have a better idea...do tell!!! meanwhile, i am off to go work on one of the quilts.


i love chickens.

for some reason i love chickens. not exactly in a culinary sense. i mean, i do occasionally eat them, but this is not what makes me love chickens. there is just something about these critters that makes me giggle. they walk funny, they squawk funny, and they might be the stupidest animals i have ever encountered. what's not to like?
at some point in my teens, i started drawing this chicken with ears (likely i copied it from someone else, as teens are prone to do). true story. in fact it was practically a part of my signature. a few months ago, i even made a love chicken, which if i do say so myself, was too cute for words.
not surprisingly, when it was time decorate the label i sewed for my nephew's quilt, i could not resist adding my chicken.
which makes it all the more perfect that in my quest to find a stuffed animal pattern to make the little guy's christmas present, i found this positively adorable chicken at sew mama sew. i am super duper excited!! but don't tell him...it is supposed to be a surprise!


the glories of youth.

i am a total kid. i act like a kid and i think like a kid. at least once a week i do something that leaves the people around me jokingly asking "how old ARE you?" i figure if they have to ask, they might as well get the real answer...five. i also spend 35 hours a week surrounded by five year olds, and apparently they are rubbing off on me.  
a couple weeks ago i found it imperative to buy bubblicious bubble gum. a necessity. when i was little i had an obsession with gum. my mom had to ration it, because if left to my own devices, i would have chewed my teeth right out of my head. thanks to all of my snapping and popping, my mom definitely spent a couple of afternoons cleaning gum out of my hair. as i write this, i am blowing bubbles. i am sure that before i finish this post, i will be cleaning shreds of bubble gum off of my face.

which reminds me of my family's annual christmas picture. the picture was always just my brother and i, and it was a fight every year. we argued over the clothing, location, etc. the worst part was my mom had this affinity for a "kiss" picture. cute and wonderful when we were toddlers. probably not the best idea when we were a bit older and fighting like cats and dogs. i was about ten, when my brother and i decided enough was enough. we refused the "kiss" picture, but agreed to blow bubbles with our gum and let the bubbles kiss. sounds strange, but it was kind of cute.

but back to the present. last week a colleague gave me a party favor bag from her daughter's ninth birthday party, which i happily accepted. i spent yesterday evening lying on the couch chomping my way through nine pieces of banana bubble gum. also inside the bag was a stick-on barbie tattoo. most adults would simply ditch this with the gum wrappers, but not i. oh no. this kid stuck the thing on my shoulder. it's still there and i kind of love it.

sometimes i have to admit that my childish ways can lead to some embarrassing moments, like the time some students caught me racing down the hallway trying to beat another teacher to the door. oops. but most of the time i am rather content in my neverending childhood.


under pressure.

have you ever seen those free blood test machines in the back of pharmacies? thanks to my ridiculous curiosity, i am overly fond of plopping into the chairs, sticking my hand through the armhole, and waiting for my vital statistics. other than the brief  arm squeeze, i have always considered these machines relatively harmless. ummmm.. not anymore!

one of the culprits.
today i was in k-mart (i know, i know, don't ask...) and after selecting some hot pink bottles of shampoo, i bumped into one of these chairs. naturally i sat down and pressed the green button. the arm squeezer squeezed and then it started to let out the air, but then it squeezed again. hmm. weird, but it quickly started to let out the air, so i thought i was in the clear. until it squeezed again. i was stuck. this machine was squeezing my arm and every time it would let out a little air, it would start squeezing again. yipes!! images of firemen cutting my arm out of the machine started popping into my head, which was not the least bit reassuring. thank goodness that after what seemed like a ridiculously long time (probably only 60 seconds) this slightly horrifying routine came to a halt. and my blood pressure was strangely not affected...unless the low numbers were due to my heart dropping to the floor. let us just say that in the future i might not be so eager to take these machines for a spin.


tales of lesotho. part three.

any place you go, there are always things unique to that place and lesotho is no exception. i am sure that many of these things also happen in other places, but no place that i have ever been. so as far as i am concerned, these are some of the things that make me say, "this could only happen in lesotho..."

accordions. in lesotho playing the accordion is cool.
this guy practices his accordion skills on top of the mini-mountain.
blankets. this is not just something for your bed or your couch, this is actually an accessory. suitable for wearing around the waist or shoulders. these can be worn morning, noon, or night, and during any season; but obviously are most prominent in the winter. women often wear two: one around their waist and a second around their shoulders. for reasons of modesty, i thought that married women had to wear one around their waist, but my mother-in-law informed me that is only if they feel like it. considering that i cannot remember seeing a woman in the village without a blanket around her waist, either everyone really loves blankets or my mother-in-law was giving her american daughter-in-law (who does not particularly like following rules) permission to break the cultural norm.
don't have a proper coat? just wear your blanket.

style. in lesotho the only rule for fashion is matching, which happens to be the same rule by which my father exists. if you are wearing a top and a bottom, you are matching. i am sure you can imagine this creates some interesting outfits. in the winter it is especially fascinating to see the many layers, colors, patterns, and fabrics worn simultaneously. my mother-in-law takes the basotho version of matching to a mesmerizing extreme, which made me love her even more. my american brain cannot grasp this concept fully enough to embody the basotho 'style,' but i like to think i do a decent impression.
the many incarnations of my mother-in-law's style.
teeth. if you have them, great. if you don't, smile proud. enough said.
is there a dentist in the house?

drive-thru (or sit-thru) shopping. the taxis in lesotho are kind of like VW buses and hold 15 passengers, along with their small children, bags, luggage, purchases, and even chickens. in town these taxis take some time to fill up. you might wait as long as 40 minutes before you depart for your destination, but do not worry, because during this time you can sit in your seat and shop. that's right. whether you want them to or not, vendors will bring their wares to your window. you can ignore them, or if you are like me, you can embrace this concept and happily shop to your heart's content. the best part? if you see something you like, but it is not close by, just give a shout and the people will come to you. and if the taxi starts leaving, fear not. they will wait for you to complete your transaction before pulling out of the taxi rank.
shopping from the comfort of your taxi.
housing. the houses are made of mud or tin, but there is something beautiful in their simplicity.
an assortment of the neighbor's houses.

cleaning. considering that people live in homes with clay walls, dirt floors, grass roofs, and no running water, it is easy to assume that things are dirty. actually, the basotho are obsessed with cleanliness. the standard rule of thumb is that kitchen and food is kept separate from bedroom and people. this means that the buckets used for washing bodies, clothes, and bedding, are never used with food or dishes and vice versa. in fact, kitchen towels are not washed with regular laundry, they are washed in the dishwater. in the beginning of my time in lesotho, i found this all rather confusing, but i eventually figured it out and actually decided it makes sense. i do not follow the same laundry rules here in the states, but i have to admit that every time i throw a kitchen towel in with our clothes, i feel like i am breaking a rule. there are a couple of things that i could never wrap my brain around. one is washing the outside of a water bucket and then placing the water bucket in the puddle of dirty water under the tap. the other is that you should sweep your yard every morning, but the rest of the day it is perfectly acceptable to throw garbage on the ground. if you are feeling productive, you can put it in the garbage pit and burn it.
washing water buckets, doing the dishes outside on the dirt stoop, laundry, and burning garbage.

visiting and food. probably my favorite part of lesotho is visiting with people. it is not like here where you make plans to meet people or stop by their house. nope nope. you just drop by whenever you feel like it. you can stay for five minutes or five hours, your choice. best of all...they will feed you! in fact, if you are hungry and just do not feel like cooking, stop by the neighbor's house and ask them what they cooked. if it sounds good, then ask them to feed you. they will. cool, huh?
yum yum.

carrying things. the basotho women carry everything on their head. everything. no matter the size or the weight, if it needs to be carried, up it goes. this is no small feat when you consider that some of the things are bigger than they are and some of these parcels weigh close to 50 pounds. but the part that really gets me is that the older women can do this with no hands.
who needs a mule when you can just throw things on your head?

announcements. when we need to broadcast information to the general public, we can pass our message via television, radio, newspapers, flyers, and of course the internet. since these are not options available to the village, the basotho use a village announcer. so when the chief needs to tell people that children will be vaccinated on friday or that there is a funeral on saturday, there is one dude whose job is to climb to the top of the mini-mountain and 'broadcast' whatever news the people need to know. i like to think i can understand sesotho, but i cannot understand a word this guy says. but do not fret, because everyone else understands him just fine.
the effectiveness of this 'broadcast' is astounding.
signs. i know there are lots of places in the world  that have weird signs and i am happy to report that lesotho perpetuates that tradition. my personal favorite is the shop called "dudu shop. no. 2 special."
want a beer? go to the tarven.
the jumpsuit. yes, those crazy suits, which the western world reserves for military personnel, are happily worn by the men of lesotho. in the states we have cowboys. in lesotho there are herdboys. for the most part they serve the same purpose, but the outfit is a little different.
the jumpsuit in its full glory.

toilets. well actually these are what we call outhouses and what the 'designers' call pit latrines. they come in all shapes and sizes and i find them rather fascinating. the basotho are mortified by the idea of someone taking a picture of their toilet, so these were all taken in secret. shhhh... don't tell.
a room with a view.

**UPDATED** next installment...smiling faces.