Sunday, April 25, 2010

For The Love of Teachers- a note to parents

I've been thinking a lot about this one... whether or not to write it for fear of offending anyone. I came to the conclusion that it was a good decision and that my intention is a genuine one made not to offend, but to offer insight. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Dear Parents,

First off, I don't have children of my own. I have not raised a baby. I haven't changed a diaper since my long lost babysitting days (though I continue to babysit, it is not often infants). My viewpoint comes soley from that of a professional teacher, and as a person who cares very much for all 150 children that I 'take care' of yearly.

I feel some clarifications and advice are needed to all parents in hopes that our 'tomorrow's future' will be brighter. Do I think I am perfect? NOT AT ALL. But as a teacher I get the advice without the ability to return some in most cases, so here is my chance.

First off I want to thank all the supportive parents who write with words of encouragement, who sign your emails with a "Thanks for all you do!", who confront us with questions about your child's grade without accusing us of grading unfairly, who understand that your children will twist the truth to cover themselves to make us look at fault, and despite them being your children you still support us and come to us for the truth before making any decisions. Thank you to those parents who enter parent teacher conferences with open minds, who understand that we love your children too and do our VERY BEST to get to know them as individuals on a daily basis, who recognize that when your child is upset or sad that WE feel that sadness and will spend the weekend worrying about them. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

Now for some clarifications and minute advice.

1. Have reasonable expectations of us. We are humans too. We want to get to know ALL of our students, but unlike parents who often have only a couple, we have 150 of them and only one year to get to know who they are, what they need, what their strengths are, and where they need additional support. In a 90 minute block with only 30 minutes of instructional time and 60 minutes of work time, your child would fairly receive 2 minutes of one on one. Any more than those 2 minutes would take away from other children's one on one time. Like I said- we do our very best to meet every student's needs but it isn't always possible to meet the highest expectations- even if the child requires extra help.

2. Have sit down dinners and talk with your kids. So many times we hear of kids going to parties on the weekend, or having no limitations. This is TERRIBLY damaging to your child. It is these children who tend to not do as well in school, who express nonchalance, who could 'care less' about assignments. As teachers, we are able to curb some of this but it's a tough battle. Set expectations high for your child and they will rise to meet them. Don't let them go to parties if you know there won't be parents there, or if there will be illegal substances. You set the example for them first and foremost.

3. They will never desire our approval the way they desire yours. This goes off of the last statement. As a high school teacher we are unable to fix a situation for a child that has been broken for them. Kids want YOUR guidance and honestly (though it may not seem like it) they WANT the boundries and the guidance from you. One day, they will thank you for them. I have my parents to thank for this one... had they not kept a tight lease on me I would have never have accomplished what I have today and would not be striving for more.

4. PLEASE don't give up on your kids or let them 'be responsible for their grades'- SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many parents let their kids 'go' once they get to high school, which is a time that they need just as much help as they did in elementary school but in different ways. Parents of kids- EVEN the really smart kids- eventually realize that a 15 year old isn't capable of being responsible for their own grades, but often times it's too late and the damage is already done. Good Lord, some COLLEGE students aren't able to be responsible for their own grades. Keep checking in with them about their grades. Email us to find out information AS SOON AS you suspect you aren't getting the whole story. You are the number 1 link to helping your child succeed. Don't give up on them. Don't let them be responsible quite yet... they have their whole lives to do that. All you have to do now is check in and set boundries, and if they don't meet your expectations, then set consequences and don't bend even if they try to convince you otherwise.

5. Hold your child responsible. If your child gets a grade of incomplete or 'not handed in' there's a pretty good chance that your child's teacher has verbally reminded them at least 10 times BEFORE the work was due, posted it in the classroom, told them to write it in an agenda book, perhaps posted it online, and maybe handed out homework reminders AFTER it didn't come in on time. At the point that you understand that your child has had a moment of irresponsibility, hold them responsible for this action so that it won't happen again. Don't make excuses for them, and more importantly don't expect us to follow your child home with a 'homework banner' or to tattoo the assignment on your child's forehead (haha)... just hold them responsible. Your child knows not to do it again, You don't have to worry as much, and we don't have to waste instructional time defending ourselves. Win-win!

6. Don't swear in front of your child. EVER. Your child will potentially pick up and use swear words anyhow, but when you swear in front of them they will more than likely tend to use it in the classroom. Like I said before- you're their role models and they will do what you do. When this happens it affects other children, and wastes instructional time when the teacher has to stop and discipline your child. Even if the teacher fills out a referral after class it still takes away from their time that they could be spending prepping or making really fantastic lessons for your child.



Okay, that's about all. Just remember that we call them 'our kids' too because whether or not we have our own kids, we love and care about them and want the VERY best for them. You children come to us with personal issues about boyfriends and girlfriends, they share with us their goals, their dreams, and their let downs. We stay after to let them cry and we hand them tissues and reassure them regardless of the issue. We know when they have games and we go to them. We remember to find out if they win, or what position they play. We attend their plays, awards ceremonies, concerts and shows. We encourage them to be better and we believe in them. We accept them and don't judge them if they aren't the smartest or fastest, or if they don't make the best decisions. Each and every day we welcome them with open arms. We stand outside of our classrooms to make sure that someone greets them with a 'good morning' and says 'have a great day' every afternoon. We give them our own food when they forget lunch or don't have money to buy it. We purchase our own supplies when the school doesn't have enough because even if the country won't acknowledge the importance of schools being funded, we understand that children deserve the best. We come early to work and stay hours after school so that your child can have the opportunity to make up work, even on days that we haven't slept much the night before, or have things to do that we cancel so that we can stay.

Please- as a parent- do your very best to give just as much to your children, and from them, expect as much. They are not grown at 14, or 18 or sometimes even beyond that. We don't give up on them, or swear in front of them, or let them get away with doing minimal. Please don't either.

From a caring teacher,
Erin

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stay at Home Person



You'll need a glass of wine to help swallow this one kids! haha.

This is my new goal... to one day be a "Stay at Home Person". Perhaps I'll have kids, perhaps I won't have kids. All I know is that I want an easier life and being a stay at home person sounds like the thing for me. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you why in a concise series of points. Please see below.

1. Staying at home with no job and no grad school will allow me to do BASIC things such as: sleep, eat without doing reseach at the same time or prepping for lessons, shower without having to figure out a way to multi-task while in the shower. You might laugh and think that I'm kidding. I'm not.

2. Staying at home will allow me time to exercise, or have things like 'energy'.

3. Staying at home will allow me time to do things like run errands, such as buying food to live off of before I'm down to dried split peas and a stale tortilla shell.

4. Staying at home will allow me to spend time with my cats who now think that I'm 'the stranger' who feeds them while running around like a rabid animal grabbing at things before flying back out the door.

5. Staying at home will allow me time to clean, vaccum, or lie on my couch enjoying my clean apartment.

6. Staying at home will allow me to rest enough to have energy to actually wash my face before sleeping in day old makeup, or brush my teeth EVERY night before I go to bed.

7. Staying at home will allow me time to cook meals that don't involve cereal and soymilk.

8. Staying at home with kids (for shiz and giggles let's pretend that I'm as selfish as that earth murdering family the Duggers- who, btw, have now taken up the slots of NINE sets of people who might have wanted to have kids without over populating the world but now can't... okay... rant over and breathe) as I was saying, EVEN if I had 18 kids like an insane person it would STILL be 72 LESS kids than I deal with on a daily basis.

9. Staying at home would allow me time to read, or crochet, or perhaps paint more than one painting every 4 months.

10. Staying at home would mean HAPPINESS!


Why the sudden desire to be a "Stay at Home Person"? Because I've spent almost every minute of every day for the last several weeks doing research for teaching, or grad school. And I babysit. And I try to be a practicing artist when I can.

Yesterday... had to stay late at work 1.5 hours. Ran errands and went to bank after, got home at 6pm, ate, passed out by 6:30-9pm, got back up and drank a cup of coffee and did work until 2am, passed out, woke back up at 4:45 to continue to do work until leaving for work at 6am-2pm. Did grad work until 3:30pm. Grabbed food on the road and ate while driving to grad class. Grad class 4:30-7:10, then to the library to do research until 9pm. Then met up to drop off painting for art show tomorrow. Finally got home at 10pm.

PUNCH. ME. IN. MY. FACE. Tomorrow will be just as bad.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Been a While...

Sorry I've been gone for so long... for a while I didn't have internet, and then I got EXTREMELY busy and overwhelmed with work and school, and then I climbed back up the long rope that dangles over the end of the earth and here I am.

So some exciting stuff if happening in my artsy world.

Fisrt off, I have the Phoenix Bike event coming up soon in which a painting of mine will be on display and then given to the winner of a writing competition. Whether or not I feel he deserves it is something else... cough cough NOT... but that's another story. I'm just hoping that it will be an opportunity to get my name out there, perhaps talk with some people who might be interested in my art, perhaps hand out some business cards... who knows.

Secondly, I will be finding out how I did in the competition for the Fall for the Book poster design. I'm sure that I will be up against a lot of digital art work, and I know that they have narrowed it down to the last 3 submissions, but I don't know if I'm in that bunch. I did a hand drawn/painted poster design which means that it isn't totally perfect since even tracing doesn't mean exact lettering, but it IS better than the one submitted last year. Whether or not I win, it is good to get my work out into the work and at least TRY to win. If I'm lucky and win I'll get $500 and my work will be used to promote the festival which would be super amazing. If not- oh well. You can't win if you don't try. I'll try to get a picture of it posted sometime soon.

Lastly, I'm entering another competition with a friend of mine. We spent about 5-7 hours yesterday spread out on sheets of cardboard on his hardwood floor with paints and canvases and brushes. He JUST moved so we had boxes around us and his paintings propped up around the walls as we fought the new found heat in bare feet. We took some pictures to document our artmaking- just as Pollock, or the Surrealists did. One day I hope that grandchildren look at those photos of me in my rolled jeans, barefeet, tank top, and scarf in my hair with paintbrushes held like a wand or stuck in a funny pose above my upper lip and think that I had a fantastic life.

I DO have a fantastic life. It is beautiful and filled with just the right amount of friends that bring creative and unique aspects into my own life which make me feel as if I'm extremely blessed. I hope to never give that up or let it fade. Thankfully I have supportive people who encourage me to be who I am and don't judge me or criticize me.

I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Meditation and Free Association


As a Christian I comprehend that there is something bigger out there all the time, and yet my beliefs also include an environmental side, and the idea that there is an energy in each of us that- when tapped into- can bring us relaxation, peace and understanding of who we are, and who we are in relation to the human race.

Tonight I made my first attempt (with any understanding of what I'm doing) at meditating. I started online to find a video on youtube. I learned that mantras are thoughts of the minds, and the goal of meditating is to let go of thoughts- so no mantras. The focus should be on the breath, but not in a concentrated way.... just accept and focus on the breathing in that it exists within us. When thoughts begin to take hold, go back to the breath. Eventually there is to be a point reached where the mind is totally relaxed. I didn't quite get there, but I noticed a HUGE difference in how I felt afterwards. Much more relaxed and in tune with the world and within my body. Yoga does this for me sometimes as well.

Another way to tap into a part of your brain- your subconscious- is through a 'free writing' exercise. The Surrealists used to do this, and I do this with my students and most recently did it because my grad teacher had us do it. Bascially- for 10-20 minutes you write out whatever pops into your head. It may be observations, thoughts, sounds you hear, a repetative letter or word... the only thing is that you don't stop, you don't go back and read it until the end, and you don't worry about punctuations or capitalizations. Write quickly and keep going.

Here is one of my free writings as an example. It will be different from yours, or someone elses. This is MY subconscious. Enjoy!

1-27-10
"In the problematic schematic recession of click writing formidable comprehension i can't spell smell of the trusting lightworthiness within the orange world of wonder expresses thoughtfully the unexplained gray shadow of the night sky with pulses and breaks as glitches to neurons and electricity the pulsing escapades of relieved tension breaks our spirits and crushes our diminishing capabilities for love and acceptance or perhaps forgiveness of pain within the deeper parts of our subconscious the tactile infantile memory forgets as if the world doesn't exist as a sphere but floats gloriously random as though fields bloom for them. silence lays sleeping impossible in line to show its face and shock the world into awareness and white light blasting from a power struggle source. thankfully there isn't a chance in hell, awareness brings truth and only privy people should accept its fate within their lives, the artists, writers, poets, always the ones who are misunderstood."

So try them out. Let me know how it goes! If you end up with a cool free writing, feel free to post it in the comments.

Peace and Love,
Erin

Day 14 of winter break #2

So the snow has been super beneficial in my doing things like relaxing and making art. After hours (and hours and hours and hours and hours) of working on my latest piece, I've finally finished! I'm calling it "Through Snowy Branches". It was done from a photo that my grandmother took of her backyard in the winter time. When she passed away a few months ago, some of her (millions of) photos of nature came to us. My dad let me have a couple of them. I sold the one I painted ("Winter Silhouette") already, and now the other is for sale on my etsy site. I like to think of my grandmother when I do my art. She was a practicing (and professional) artist, and art was something that the two of us bonded over. I like to think that she'll help me in making my art sell over the course of my life. I know she's watching over me, and I know that she's happy I'm working on my art.



In other news, Stephe has been drawing up a storm and is going to try to start his own etsy site. He does realistic and surrealistic kinds of environments that have a repetative elephant in it somewhere. I've been teaching him about shading and the importance of creating a background in some of his pieces. He's been doing a fantastic job and is a quick study. I'll get some of his art up here soon.

To everyone, happy (pre) valentines day! The holiday might be silly, but sharing love certainly isn't, and according to the Beatles.... it's all you need. =)

From one of my favorite movies...Across the Universe.


LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Erin

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Pieces

In my excess of time- due to the snow weeks we've had off, I've had a chance to work on some of my art. I've posted a few more pieces on etsy in the past few days. They're below. Thanks for taking the time to look!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Life in Love with Stephen


For those of you who don't know much of my relationship with Stephe might not realize that my boyfriend is a quadriplegic- which means that he has limited use of all "four" of his limbs. I put "four" because that's the definition... but he is missing his right leg from the mid-thigh down.

HOW HE BECAME PARALYZED- About 6 years ago he was riding his motorcycle with his friends at nighttime and his friend was having some problems with his bike and waved Stephe ahead. Stephe looked back to make sure his friend was okay, and in doing so missed that the road curved off to the left. He went straight into the guardrail at about 60 mph, breaking both his motorcycle and his body into pieces. His right leg was amputated within a couple days since it took most of the impact, and he spent a long time in recovery. But Stephe is one of the most inspiring and motivated guys I know and he doesn't let things stop him, so a little over a year ago I met him 5 years after his crash.

HOW WE MET- Online. Stephe sent me a message, and I was intrigued. I honestly wasn't sure how the date would go, and I was SO nervous to go on a date with someone in a wheelchair. Part of me felt that it was the nice thing to do, but he was very handsome in the pictures. I THOUGHT we would just become friends. BOY WAS I WRONG! Stephe and I spent hours talking at the Starbucks, and then he took me around Occoquan and when I suggested dinner he was all for it. We even joked as we drove past some really pretty houses, "Oh when we get married and have a million kids we can live there!" "Yeah, I totally think our parents would be supportive of us getting married on the first date." We're not engaged... yet. ;)

STRUGGLES- We have trouble every so often with doing things with the ease that we'd like to.
Parking lots- Stephe has a van that he drives from his wheelchair (that locks in) with hand controls. He gets into it using a ramp. A few times people have parked across the white diagonal lines in the parking lots and have made it impossible for Stephe to get back into his van because he can't get the ramp out. I have had to back his van out while standing in the place where the driver seat would be, while using hand controls. Not exactly the safest thing.

Other Drivers- Stephe has rods in his neck and therefore can't turn his head very far. Usually if I'm in the car I help him with traffic, though he's capable of doing it himself... it's just easier for me to look. Sometimes people have been really rude and not let him over. Because he uses hand controls to accelerate and brake, he can't always use his turn signal, but even when he has them on some people are really rude. It is in these times that I have sometimes lost my cool and shown people my... 'finger version of the washington monument'.
Furniture- Because Stephe's power wheelchair is higher, we sometimes have trouble getting him under tables (especially at restaurants). At my apartment I have a table with adjustable legs that I got from IKEA, so he can roll right under with no problem. I've also had to put my couch on risers, which makes it looks like I have stadium seating in my living room, but I've gotten used to it.

KITCHEN STUFF- Stephe's hand's don't work the same way as everyone else's, so we have certain mugs that work for him better. One was from IKEA and the other I got at an Art Festival. He loves his coffee just like I do, so these were a necessary investment. =) Also, he needs lighter silverware because he can't grasp it the same way. He's fine with my stuff, but at restaurants sometimes it's tough.

SNOW- Today I went out to shovel out his vehicle (from the 30 inches of snow we received) and a nice family that lives upstairs saw me with my kid sized shovel and came out and helped me! It still took about an hour, but it would've taken me for FOREVER if they hadn't helped.

With Stephe, I do the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, the dishes and help him get ready for bed, and up in the morning. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work, but Stephe is always so understanding about everything, so usually I don't mind.

WHAT STEPHE DOES FOR ME He tries. If I need something from the grocery store and I'm busy, I'll ask Stephe to run out and get it and he does. He returns movies for me. Recently when my car acted up, Stephe drove me 45 minutes north to drop off my car at 10pm, and then 3 days later took off work early to take me back up to get it. He tries to bring over the dishes to the counter when he can. He gets he own toothbrush ready and brushes his teeth without my help because we got the toothpaste dispenser that he can just push down on.
BUT, more importantly, he supports me. He helps me with my art, and does art with me. He doesn't make fun of me being a pescetarian and went pescetarian himself after we started dating. He doesn't mind that I have 6 feral cats eating on my porch, or that I have two cats of my own. He doesn't complain when my apartment isn't neat. He tells me that he 'has the most beautiful girlfriend' when I'm in mismatched pj's and haven't showered and have no make-up on. He makes me laugh all the time. This year he did my taxes for me. He takes me to fun shows, like Chicago and Sheer Madness and RENT because he knows I love them. He is more thoughtful than anyone else I've ever been with, and makes me feel beautiful and loved all the time.

So, are things difficult sometimes? Of course. Sometimes I get really frustrated, and sometimes it makes me sad that we can't do things like go for a hike. But the truth of the matter is, when it comes to someone I want to be with for forever, Stephe is fantastic and we get along wonderfully. We don't argue, we don't yell... we just love one another in all that we are. I accept him and he accepts me, good and bad. And that's how it should be.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Artist's Scarf FREE Giveaway- part 1.5

I told my boyfriend I made $45 dollars today. He asked how. I said... "Working the corner." Apparently 'winks' don't translate well over the phone, so he did not find this funny. But I chuckled. Aaaannnnnnnyhow.....

So, this just goes along with the other blog entry from yesterday....I wore the black "Artist's Scarf" to work... partly to stay warm and partly to use to get feedback. I got a wonderful comment on it within a few minutes! "Thanks!" I say... An hour later we have the same planning period, but because I've been under the weather and it's hard to focus on grading when you don't feel great, I brought my latest "Artist's Scarf" I was working on. The same lady offered to buy it! I said sure! This is the scarf I made for her.
HOW EXCITING?! But it gets better!
Then another lady came in and SHE wanted one in a different color! Holy Moly! Two sales in an hour!

Then there is a third lady who wants one. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which leaves me really encouraged. These are so fun, and cozy like a full scarf, but way less bulky or in the way of whatever it is you're doing. I call them an "Artist's Scarf" but perhaps for you it's a "Mommy Scarf", or a "Chef Scarf" or a "Fashion Scarf". The fun thing is, you can dress them up or down.



The Giveaway is still on... and I'm also currently doing personal orders. $15 a pop for now and you get your choice of color, and whether you want buttons or ribbons. Once they go on Etsy it'll be harder for me to customize and I'm going to ask $20 so nows the time kids. Shoot me an email and I'll be happy to work with you.

CHEERS!
The Crocet Queen of the Night

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Artist's Scarf- FREE GIVEAWAY

If I can get 15 people to leave me legit feedback on here about this Artist's Scarf idea, I'll draw one at random to receive a free one.


If you're anything like me you love the warmth a scarf provides. Unfortunately, scarfs- as trendy as they can be- can get in the way (or in my case, make a nice mess as they drag through your paints). Ever had your scarf accidently drag through your food? How about lean over to flush the toilet and in goes your scarf, nice and wet. Yuck! So here's my SNUGGIE-esque version of the scarf. I call it the "Artist's Scarf".

So here's the thing, I've made two so far.... and I'd love to make more to sell but they take some time to make. So this is where I'd like feedback from you guys.



First off- Would you even want to wear one of these?
Secondly- What would you consider a reasonable price? (I saw similar ones online for about $40... I was thinking closer to $15-$25 depending on yarn types)
Third- What colors would you prefer?
Fourth- Buttons or ribbons?

Thanks for any feedback!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Peer Pressure



Last night I got really cool news from a long time bestie. My friend Heather told me that she's been switching to Seventh Generation and other 'green' products! Woo hoo! I'm psyched! She was wondering where to find the compostable sponges, and since I didn't mention it before, I'll tell you now. TARGET. Yep- go figure. =)


In other news, I've been asked to do some art for a charity. Phoenix Bikes is having a bike show, and people who share their Extraordinary Ride stories will get a work of art from an artist. I'll be doing a work of art based on someone's story. I haven't got the story yet, but if you're interested you can check it out at http://www.phoenixbikes.org/ which is where I borrowed this image from.

Spinach as Big as Your Head!

I'll be the first to admit.... I have a big head. So my question is: What the heck is Dole fertilizing their crops with?! I pulled this out of the bag and couldn't help but take a pic. UNBELIEVABLE!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Punk Portrait




I love having red hair. Tonight- on a whim- I decided to do a portrait of a person (based on a pic I took of myself) with punk red hair.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vegetarian Food (and other stuff) Review

Brought to you with the same sarcastic love as the "Naturally Green Review".

Textured Vegetable Protein If you want to save money and be vegetarian buy this. It's super versatile when it comes to cooking. For example: Want sloppy joes? Mix this stuff with some Manwich mix and voila! Want a 'meaty' sauce for your pasta, put some of this stuff in and you're good to go. I've included this (along with veggies and black beans) to make homemade burgers, as well as used them with some maple syrup and spices to make sausage patties. This stuff is SOO-PAH cheap (especially when compared to the Morning Star or Smart crumbles. How do you use it? Add water. No seriously. That's it. If you want a more veggie-ish taste you can put a veggie boillon cube in with it but often times I leave that out. If you're mixing it with a sauce just put a little water because the TVP will absorb the flavors of the sauce you're cooking it with.


Boca Vegan Burger You don't have to be a vegan to love these burgers, or pretty much anything that Boca makes. Their 'Chicken Nuggets' rock. My favorite one is definitely the vegan one. It tastes the most like meat. See... I'm a veggie that loves the taste of meat, but love my farm friends more and think animals should live long happy and HEALTHY lives.



Morning Star Nuggets If you opened my freezer right now you would see a nice large stash of Morning Star products. From their crumbles to their 'Spicy Black Bean Burgers' to their 'Ribblets', I love it all. I've tried Boca, Morning Star and Quorn 'nuggets' and have to say that it's between MS and Boca. Quorn adds some kind of pepper that's good, but not my fave. If you like 'sweet and sour' chicken (or like me, did at one point in your life before you stopped eating meat) there is a great recipe for it using these nuggets. Ingredients: One pack of 'nuggets', One jar of sweet and sour sauce (I prefer La Choy to Kikkoman), One small can of chunked pineapples, one carrot. Simmer the whole jar of sauce on the stove with the pineapples (drained, duh) and thin slices of the carrot (not the whole carrot---- unless you REALLY LOVE carrots). Bake the 'nuggets' for the directed time. When they're done, mix them into the sauce and serve over rice for a fantastic and quick meal!




Quorn 'Chicken' Patties Love them! They go great as a sandwich, or you can cut them in strips and bake them (or lightly fry them) for toppings on a salad. I've made chicken parm with them, with a side of pasta as well. Yummy!



Safflower Oil Little did you know, my ninjas in training, that not all oils should be used for the same kind of cooking. For example, Olive Oil turns carcinogenic when you heat it to high temperatures. If you're going to do some stir fry, do it in Safflower oil.... not in a pan-'o'-cancer. Safflower oil is good up to higher temperatures than Olive Oil or vegetable oil. Sometimes the recommended temps are on the bottles, but if not- check it out online first before serving yourself or your family a big plate of 'future death'.


Smart Dogs These hot dogs taste a lot like actual hot dogs, though I'm not totally convinced that it's not possible to make cardboard taste like hot dogs. I've tried cooking them several ways, and because of their 'softer' consistency than actual hot dogs I prefer pan frying because it toughens the skin on the outside a bit, but you have to use oil and keep them moving or they'll bubble or stick. You can also put them in the oven, but I would recommend putting them on a pan (not on the little rack in the toaster oven) because they let off some water which can drip and smoke. Boiling them leaves them soggy and blech (yes, blech... don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about). Microwaving doesn't cook them in a way that makes them taste great, and I don't know what else to say about that.



Purely Decadent SOY Delicious They should call this stuff, Purely Craptastic with all new flavors like Nut Flavored Kind of Almost Slightly Ice Cream flavor, and Frozen Yuck. I haven't tried all of them but from what I've experienced so far with this brand, it'll probably stay that way.



Silk Yummy yum yum. Great source of calcium, and wonderful alternative to milk. If you've never had it, it takes a gallon to get used to, but you'll never want to go back to the bland taste of milk. I switched when I was 21 after becoming lactose intolerant, and I used to LOVE my milk (as in 'go-for-a-run-and-then-drink-milk-instead-of-water' kind of way). Now when I go to visit my parents and have to use regular milk for my cereal I leave most of it in the bowl-not because of the intolerance thing, but because the taste simply grosses me out. Soymilk has a slightly creamier consistency, and a nut/rice flavor, which-when foreign to the tongue- can be a little bit odd at first. But trust me, you'll love it too. If you're a dude, just be careful about chugging gallons of this stuff... you might want to switch it up between Soymilk and Rice Dream (rice milk) because of the levels of... um... something like estrogen that you shouldn't have too much of that's found in soymilk. Hey, I'm not a scientist- what do you expect. If you're a casual consumer, you're probably fine.



Egg Beaters Love them. Tried "Better 'n Eggs" and trust me, they weren't. Nor were they better than Egg Beaters. I love eggs, so I used to eat them daily, but the cholesterol and calories in eggs worried me a bit. So I switched (reluctantly at first) to Egg Beaters. They're just SO much more expensive- or so I thought. Actually, Egg Beaters lasted me longer than my 12 eggs because there's a lot in there. They save me the time of having to 'beat' the eggs, or wash the dishes I had to use to 'beat' the eggs. You can even get flavored ones, like Southwest or Garden Veggie, which are SOOOO good! Sometimes, if you look hard, you can even find coupons online for them!


If you have any requests or reviews you'd like to add, please feel free to leave them in the comment box. And this review is for everyone... not just veggies. A vegetarian rich lifestyle is often lower in fat, calories and cholesterol.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beast Cats in the Drain!

I'm not kidding. I saw it myself!

Okay- let me start from the beginning. I live by a small plot of woods where a clan of feral cats live. Not just one kind of cat. Cats that look like they come from all over.



There are 4 cats that I feed from my back porch (at least 4 that I know of). A black one with a white spot on its forehead that Stephe named 'Minus', a short grey haired cat that I haven't seen in a while, a long haired grey cat 'Dr. Evil', and a brindled cat 'Checkers'. They make their rounds through the complex daily and look well fed, and hey... freedom is pretttttty sweet so I think they're happy, but are still skittish when they see me. If nothing else my cats, Ninja and Diego, enjoy watching them. These 4 cats seem... large but not ABNORMALLY large. I've put water out before but it froze, so I wondered where they got their water from... then today I found out.

Today as I was driving home I saw a black one come out of the woods. Thinking it was 'Minus' I went straight instead of turning into the complex. It was not minus, but instead a BEASTLY all black cat who came to the curb and then CRAWLED INTO THE DRAIN!!!!!! When I turned around and came back I saw a HUGE orange cat crossing the road heading back towards the woods, and with two cars coming the thing picked up to a 'slow trot'. Needless to say, I'll continue to feed my friends out back, but I'll stay away from the woods and the drains. Creepy!

Note- Please make sure you have your animals neutered. I'm currently working on finding a way to Trap-Fix-Release the cats behind my apartment, so that they can live beautiful lives but not perpetuate a feral community. I'm looking into Alley Cat Allies for assistance. If anyone knows anything about it, please let me know. THANKS!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Broke! My Ankles are BROKEN!

Okay, so my ankles aren't REALLY broken- but they sure feel like it. I've been doing the robotic jumparoundstomp dance moves associated with the game Dance Dance Revolution. I know, I know.... it came out a long time ago, and yes I'm just getting on this band wagon. Hey, I wanted a fun way to exercise. What I'm getting is a fun way to exercise, and ankles and feet that are KILLING ME! Standing up in the morning make me feel like my feet have permacurled into an unnatural position and that standing on them is shattering my bones. I literally limped down the stairs the other day. Fortunately it only lasts about 30 seconds where I'm in a lot of pain and then it generally goes away. Yet, my ankles have begun hurting more. Fun. Perhaps God doesn't want me to exercise (haha, right).

In other news- I began a new painting today. Here is the partial version for now. I'll show you the rest when I finish. The white dots are where the rest of the trees will go.

In case you're wondering where I got the "Broke! My ankles are broken!" line... check out this video. The first time will be sad, and then you'll slowly find yourself laughing at how horribly shrill his voice gets.



Guess I just can't DDR fast enough..... sucks.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breakfast IS Champion



Breakfast, oh breakfast, in my heart you have a place, because there are so many combos in which create-ith a face. Delicious, and good, you taste so darn yummy, eggs and a bagel inside of my tummy. You are the best meal, this much is true, my favorite smilie face to see..... belongs to YOU.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Request of Love

Hey everyone who has tapped into my sense of humor, or followed a blog or two! Thanks for reading these silly rants and expressions of nerdacity. It's a new word. I made it up. You can feel free to use it. And you're welcome.

If you're able to, or not morally opposed to clicking the 'follow' button, or leaving a comment, I'd personally love it. I "heart" (this is where I make some weird little heart symbol with my hands in front of my chest and smile real big like a self obsessed 15 year old girl trying to flirt) all of the comments on facebook and LOVE that you're reading these. It makes me feel really fuzzy and warm. So do my fuzzy warm socks, but they can't type to add me. Sad, I know. (We've had a talk about this, and they just simply won't try).

I didn't choose the term "follow". To me this suggests that one day I will lead all of you out into a field, ask that you put on blue scrubs and drink arsenic mixed in generic fruit punch while we wait for the aliens to 'come back for us'. This is NOT the case. It just lets me know who checks out my blog, and reassures me that this isn't all in vain.

Anyhow, even if you don't comment or click the "follow" (also known as the "pseudo-clan") button, I'm still very grateful. Always know this, and smile because I think you're fantastic.

Erin

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Naturally GREEN Review

This is a truthful (and hopefully entertaining) review of Green Products for your home, to help people live a little better *YAY!*

I'll keep it simple and to the point with between 1-5 stars, 1 being you should NOT buy it unless you're at gun point or perhaps there's some kind of apocolypse and thats the only thing left, and 5 being you should buy it before an environmentalist holds you at gun point and turns your happy little world into an apocolyse.


Whole Foods brand shampoo #1 I tried the 'grapefruit' scented one. It made my hair feel dry and it smelled like alcohol. Couldn't wait to RUN OUT of this awful shampoo. I even tried to mix it with 'better' shampoo but it just made the 'better' shampoo suck at life too. ( * - - - Star)






Whole Foods shampoo #2 I tried this after the first failed. Thought it would be better because it's organic. It's NOT. At least not by much. If you punched me repeatedly in the face and made me choose between the two I'd go with this one, but it'd take a lot of beating before I gave in. (* - - - Star)





Method Glass Cleaner Fantastic minty smell, and works pretty well too! SO much better than the cat urine that's mislabeled, dyed blue and called Windex. It can streak a little, but not much at all. If I had a half star this would be a 4.5... but since I don't... ( * * * * - Stars)





Bamboo Compost Pail If you compost- and let's be honest, you SHOULD- you absolutely need this. With its removable inner plastic pail and carbon filter in the lid, it looks great, smells great, and is super easy to empty and to clean. (* * * * * Stars)






Hefty One Zip Bags Though these use more plastic than some of the other companies who have cut back, I actually prefer these. As a Pescetarian (a vegetarian who occasionally eats seafood), I eat a lot of veggies. To store them I have designated bags with labels so I know what veggie goes in what bag. When I finish a veggie I wash the bag with soap and hot water, let it air dry and then reuse it. Most of the 'less plastic' bags have broken and gone into the trash- but not my Hefty bags. Their name holds true. I wrote them recently about my 1.5 year old "Onion" bag in good condition and they sent me a coupon for a free box! (which will last me a life time) ( * * * * * Stars)






Compact Fluorescent Bulbs If you're one of the remaining 3 people who haven't switched to these, DO IT NOW. Okay, well don't be wasteful.... wait until you need to replace your bulb and then do it. They take some time to warm up, but use a TON less energy. Downsides- if they break you have to air out your home, and you have to take them somewhere to dispose of them because they're bad for you. Where do you take them? I don't know... mine have been going strong for over a year and I haven't had to replace them yet. Sometimes they do make my lights 'buzz' a little... but often I don't notice it. ( * * * - - Stars)





Scotch Bamboo Sponges Scotch has come out with compostable bamboo sponges, scrubbing pads, and wipes. I just have the sponge. It works as well as any other sponge, and when I'm done using it with my all natural soap I can put it in my compost pail! (* * * * * Stars)





Method Dish Soap Do I like the soap? Yep. Sure do. The bottle design Buh- LOWS! It's slippery when it's wet, and makes it almost impossible to open. More importantly though, the soap comes out through a long opening and I find that it gels in there and makes it super hard to get it out. I bought Seventh Generation Soap to replace the Method Soap when I'm done, because I'm literally done trying to mess with this stupid bottle design. At least it's sleek design will make it aerodynamic on the day I chuck the blasted bottle out the window. Soap gets 5 stars. Overall.... (* - - - - Stars... cuz soap isn't worth all that effort)





Natural Dentist Products Unlike Tom's natural tootpastes which are slightly gritty, bland, and come in a metal tube (which will ultimately prevent you from getting it all out before you slice your hands to shreds in a near death display of acrobatics trying to extract the last half of the tube of toothpaste onto your brush.... and BREATH...), the Natural Dentist toothpaste actually tastes good and has the texture of toothpaste. I came across it at the D.C. Green Festival when I tried their DEE-LISH-OUS mouthwash. I found it hard not to want to DRINK it, it tasted so good! And it has flouride, unlike Listerine. ( * * * * * Stars)





ShamWow I think this pic is hilarious. Anyhow, I'm not trying to necessarily promote ShamWows, but I AM trying to say that they work well as reusable cleaning rags, and ultimately equal less trash. Not overly impressed, but better than the knock-off counterparts. Guess the Germans really DO make good things... or at least things I can use. (* * * - - Stars)

Other things to consider:
A drying rack... I haven't used a drier in months! Ikea has great size ones for indoors/ yardless people like myself.

Kitty litter: Try Swheat Scoop. It's not poisonous like most clay ones. How's that for an advertising line, "Won't Give Ya Cancer!" Clumps great, and fragrance free, AND you can FLUSH IT! I tried "Yesterday's News", which is nice for recycling purposes since it's made from old newspaper, but dear god the stuff is hard to clean out.

Seventh Generation Products: So far I've used their dish detergent (which I like better than Method's compacted capsules), and their all-purpose cleaner. Love them both.


Okay! That's it for now! Hope you enjoyed my Green Review of products...and appreciated my bastardly sense of humor. As far as paying for all this stuff, you can check online for coupons. Seventh generation has a lot usually, so does Swheat Scoop. And in the end when you're not melting in a poisonous radiation filled world, you'll thank me.
Now run children- like free birds on the Greenish wind of Green change and be Green.

Erin

Ol' Drool Face

Real quick- I had 3 cavities filled yesterday. Things that are NOT fun- the panic feeling I get when there are several cotton balls, 2 sets of hands, a sucker thing, a drill, a mirror and a jet of cold water in your mouth all at the same time.

Other things that are not fun... when the novacaine wears off. Ouch!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The 1 a.m. Sunday Night Taxi Ride

Teaching has made me frazzled. This carries into my personal life far too often. A once well oiled machine able to keep a running list of 'Multiple Things to Do' and get them done, I am now the kind of person who asks students to come see her and then looks at them blankly- as if a deer in headlights- and is forced to ask, "why are you here? remind me again? elaborate more please...." It's pathetic.

SO HERE COMES THE GOOD PART
This frazzled state carried into my personal life this weekend in a F.M.L. kind of way.
Background- Because of going to an 11:45pm movie Stephe and I didn't get much sleep Friday night. Meaning, we were tired to start the weekend.
Then Saturday was my good friend, Lauren's 21st (for the 6th time) birthday get together in West Falls Church. Stephe and I- coming from different areas- decided to meet at my old complex in Fairfax, park my car, and then we'd ride together in his van to the party. We go, it's great to see friends I haven't seen in a while, we enjoyed Thai food and some drinks and music, and then headed home for the night. Exhausted we slept not only Saturday night, but halfway through Sunday. By 7pm Stephe headed home and I started doing things like exercising and painting and cleaning. By 12:45 I was just starting to get tired- you know... since I'd slept half of the day away... and knew that I had grading in my car that I should do. Though I didn't want to do it, I figured I'd at least bring it in to do while I ate my cereal in the morning (in 4 hours).
I venture in my most sexy hoodie and flanel pj bottoms and socks out into the cold to retrieve my work... I look left..."Oh, must not have parked over here," I say to myself. "I must have parked to the right!" as my eyes pan to the right. No car. Brief moment of calm clings like static to my brain. "Where did I park my.... OH MY GOD! MY CAR IS STILL IN FAIRFAX AND IT'S 12:45 ON A SUNDAY NIGHT!!!!" This was followed by panic, blasphemies, and more panic.

Needless to say I spent 10 minutes booting up my computer to call a taxi who took 15 minutes to get to me, to ride 25 minutes to Fairfax, to spend $31 bucks I didn't need to spend, to drive 20 minutes home (cuz I drive fast, yo....but not TOO fast) to go to bed at 2am and get very little sleep. Yeah. F.M.L.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not Quite Art

So the other night- because I'm such a fantastic girlfriend- I decided to make some 'awesome' pictures of Stephe (pronounced Steve) and I by altering photos I had of us on my computer. I always wondered what we'd look like with our mouths on our foreheads, so by playing around in paint I created the 'works of art' below.

WARNING!: The images you are about to see may startle you into urinating in your pants.


I have it saved as, "The Cute Couple" on my comp. Enjoy!

Raising a "Teenager"

Over Christmas Break my cats, Diego and Ninja, stayed with my boyfriends family. Though they have a lot of potted plants I was sure to communicate that the poinsettias be moved out of reach before I left. Yet, when I came to pick up the cats I noticed that Diegos chin was FILTHY! I scrubbed away all the 'dirt' and made sure to monitor him for a couple days, but he seemed okay so I didn't worry. Today as I was playing with him I noticed that once again his chin was extremely dirty. As I cleaned it I checked to make sure that it wasn't bugs, and when I didn't notice anything crawling or anything with legs (YUCK!) I didn't know what to think. I don't have plants that he could get into, and yet here he was with a filthy chin.

So I turned to the internet for help, and lo and behold I found an answer that I'd never heard of until now. Diego has Feline Acne! Who knew?! So now starts the counseling process of me telling him how beautiful he is on the inside, and how girl cats will still think he's cute, and not to worry because we still love him even if he's a pimply mess. Haven't we all been there at some point or other. Sad. Poor guy.


I've included some info on it, in case anyone else with a cat ever runs across this issue.

HOW IT LOOKS: Like your cat has a dirty chin, as if they've been rubbing it along the ground. When you try to get it off, it's difficult even with a wash cloth because it's almost stuck in the hair. Your cats chin might be a little swollen as well.

CAUSES: It might be cleanliness, but often times it's from using plastic bowls or dishes (which I'd switched to just before Diego 'broke out'). They're apparently bacteria brothels and if not, your cat has a higher chance of having an allergic reaction to them. Switch to ceramic or metal or glass.

HOW TO TREAT:
Use some cotton in a ball shape soaked in peroxide for cleaning the chin area.
Benzoyl peroxide shampoo used twice a week can also keep the acne under control.
Washing the chin daily with an antibiotic soap can clear the skin of built-up oil and dirt, and using an antibiotic or anti-fungal topical ointment can prevent the pores from becoming clogged.
Daily cleaning your cat’s chin with warm salt water can also help reduce the risk of infection.

Cheers!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Exhaustion



Talk about a long week! I've been at work everyday for 12+ hours this week... today 6:45am-9:15pm. Sorry I haven't written much.

Good news is that I've started a few more art works! I wish I had more time to work on them, but I'm posting my latest and would love a critique.

Over the next few days MUCHO MAS will be posted to my etsy. Please keep checking back!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Risky Behavior


Over break I went back to State College, PA to visit my family. While there I decided to use my dad's camera to photograph some of my artwork, which meant getting it out of the garage attic via a ladder. My dad was nice enough to built a huge box for all of my art so that it would stay safe from all the 'other' things in the garage attic. Getting to this box was a bit of an issue, since I don't often go up there and items seem to accumulate on top of the box. So, first I had to remove the items on top of the box and dance gingerly around the huge hole in the attic floor through which I'd climbed up while holding various bulky items. Scary, but not really my idea of 'fun risky behavior'.
When I finally was able to open the box I found well over 100 pieces of art stuffed into FOUR portfolios, or laying out within the box. "Good Lord!" I exclaimed, "When the hell did I have time to do all this art?!"As I went through I questioned why I'd kept some of it for so long, and ultimately threw out about 10 pieces right then. As I dug deeper and deeper into the box-o-art I decided that the best option would just be to bring back a bunch and photograph it later because it was taking WAY too long to figure out what I wanted to take pictures of, since there was so much to consider.

Now that it's here in VA with me I'll be uploading a LOT of art within the next couple weeks. Some of the drawings I'll be redo-ing and fixing. Some will go from drawings or sketches into paintings, and some will just be cleaned up or put on better paper. I'm posting pictures of my most recent work. If I can get the video-log thing to work I'll upload that... until then, the finished image will be available on http://www.etsy.com/shop/ebm126 So feel free to buy it ASAP~! or tell your friends about it. LOVE!