Wednesday, May 31, 2017

40-4-Steve: Hunger Action Month

When I was planning the 40-4-Steve project, there was one item I wanted to add that wasn't about Steve trying something he'd never done. I wanted us to work work as a family to raise money and awareness about hunger issues. You may recall that I held his surprise 40th birthday party at the Food Bank. We've volunteered there and at our church's food pantry many times over the years. In honor of Steve's 40th, I wanted us to get at least 40 donations to the Food Bank.

We timed our efforts to coordinate with Hunger Action Month.

Hunger Action Month (affiliate link)


I'm happy to report that we greatly exceeded our goal through the generosity of our family and friends, as well as Trevor's classmates. 

This is a good time to remind you all that hunger is an issue year-round, and not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, summer is an especially difficult time for those with food insecurity, as children who are out of school are not receiving the breakfast and lunch they get the rest of the year. If you are able to donate food, money, and/or time, it does make a difference. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Story of Our Wedding Cake Topper

Thirteen years ago today, I became Cynthia Marie deRosier. It was a beautiful morning, with clear blue skies in a garden of roses. Steve and I had been planning our wedding for months, confident that everything would go just as we'd envisioned. Fortunately, the stuff that actually mattered went exactly as planned. Steve and I got married in a meaningful ceremony that included our closest friends and family. It was the most special day of our lives. I am thankful every day to have Steve as my husband.

Over the years, I've shared some of the layouts from our wedding album. I went through the album to find one that I hadn't shared on the blog and came across a page about our cake topper. On it, I share the story of one of the many little things at our wedding that didn't go quite as planned.


Here's the story:


This story is exactly why I love scrapbooking. In three paragraphs, I explained things that the pictures couldn't tell. I love that my stories are preserved in the albums and am especially grateful that I captured the memories from the best day of my life. 

Happy anniversary, Steve. I love you, forever and ever.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Exploring Louisiana Through Little Passports

This post contains affiliate links. 

Time to share another of our adventures with Little Passports! This time we took a virtual trip to Louisiana. 


Trevor started by building the model of the paddle steamer. Then we did a wordsearch about the local lingo in Louisiana. Do you know what a fais-dodo, a shotgun house, or a faubourg are? I didn't! A fais-dodo is a dance party. A shotgun is a long, narrow house with all the rooms lined up and doors on the two ends. A faubourg is the French word for suburb. I always learn new things with Little Passports!

Next, we learned about the regions of Louisiana. We read about jazz music in New Orleans and were amazed to discover that brass bands parade in the streets every Sunday. We did an activity about the birds of Louisiana and learned how swamps' slow currents help filter water for Louisiana's plants and animals. 

We read about the connection between the fleur-de-lis and Louisiana with our next activity. The Boy Scouts of American use the fleur-de-lis as their symbol, so it's very familiar to Trevor. We were fascinated to learn that, despite its literal French translation as 'lily flower', there are historians who claim the fleur-de-lis was actually designed to look like an iris, not a lily. Others say it was originally designed after the head of a throwing spear or even from a honeybee, a symbol of French royalty. After reading all the explanations, Trevor thinks that the spear is the most likely. I'm voting for the bee. 

After reading about Oak Alley Plantation and famous events that happened in Louisiana, it was time for cooking. Louisiana is famous for a lot of amazing food, so it was fun to see which recipe they chose to include in the State Journal - jambalaya. Trevor started by chopping 'the trinity' of onions, celery, and bell peppers.


He followed the recipe exactly, with one exception. He reduced the amount of cayenne significantly. We don't like our food too spicy! 


Finally, we made mini mardi gras floats out of single-size cereal boxes. 


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Mini Mardi Gras Float

Materials: 


Steps:


Empty the cereal box and coat it with gesso. Let that dry. Glue the open end shut.


Paint the cereal box and let it dry. 


Decorate with feathers, sequins, flowers, or whatever else! 


What good is a float without people on it? Lego minifigs to the rescue! The jester fits right in...


Let's add the princess and the frog and Dr. Jekyll! This is Trevor's float.


This one is mine. 


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We had such a fun time with our virtual trip to Louisiana! We hope to actually visit it in person soon. It seems like a wonderful place with so much to explore. Thanks to Little Passports for introducing us to the Pelican State!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Rhubarb Shrub

After making (and enjoying) blueberry shrub with the fifth graders, I was eager to try making rhubarb shrub. (I'm obsessed with rhubarb.)

I followed the same process I'd used with the blueberries. Combine equal amounts of fruit and sugar and let it sit at room temperature for 2 days, stirring each day. Strain that syrup from the pulp


Add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar to the syrup. At this point, I tasted my shrub. Yikes! Sticky-sweet blueberry syrup had been perfect with the tartness of the apple cider, but tart rhubarb syrup combined with apple cider tasted like the equivalent of being punched. Lesson learned - when using a sweet fruit, an equal amount of sugar to fruit will make an appropriate syrup for shrub. When using a tart fruit, add extra sugar so that you don't end up with something so tart it's undrinkable!

I added a bunch more sugar to the shrub and let it mellow in the refrigerator for a few days. Finally, I had a delicious drinking vinegar. There was a still a small amount of blueberry shrub left, so I poured each so I could compare their colors side by side. Beautiful. 


Come winter when our orange tree goes crazy and we have more oranges than we can use, remind me to try making orange shrub, OK? Thanks!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

40-4-Steve: Crown Grill

I went on my first cruise with my parents and sister in 1987 (age 15) and loved it. Since then, I've been on 19 cruises with my family. Steve has been along on the past 10 and Trevor on the past 9. Cruising has changed quite a bit from 1987. Ships have grown significantly in size and offer far more amenities and onboard activities than in the 80's. Many of the changes are for the better. 

One change that I do not like is the addition of pay-to-use amenities. On our first cruise, everything was included, with the exception of alcohol and gambling (which weren't relevant to me at age 15). The shows, the food, the activities, the contests - no cover charge. You could enjoy any public part of the ship. Now, it is common to see pay-to-use lounge areas, fees for special classes or activities, and specialty restaurants with a cover charge. This annoys me, so I opt not to support them in hopes that the industry will shift back towards all-inclusive instead of nickel-and-diming the passengers. 

Steve has no problem with the specialty restaurants requiring a cover charge and has wanted to try one out for a long time. As part of my 40-4-Steve project, we ate together at the Crown Grill aboard the Grand Princess. And it was delicious. 

Crown Grill (affiliate link)

To scrap the photo he took of one of his courses, I used a map paper by Pink Paislee. I circled the part of Alaska where we were headed as we were eating our meal. The layout is really simple, but I think it works. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

40-4-Steve: Computer History Museum

When putting together my list of 40 special activities for Steve during his year of being 40, there were a few that are so Steve that it seemed impossible that he'd never done them before. The #1 example? Visiting the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. 

While Trevor and I went with Steve for most of the 40-4-Steve project, we knew he'd enjoy his time at the Computer History Museum with another computer fanatic who would want to carefully study each exhibit (instead of dealing with us being done after an hour of browsing). We bought tickets for Steve and his dad. Sure enough, they were there for the entire eight hours it was open and only saw half the museum. 

40-4-Steve: Computer History Museum (affiliate link)

For the layout, I actually used two photos, trimmed to fit together. By adhering them without any space between them, they read as one square picture rather than two rectangles.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dinner with Exactly 17 Ingredients

If you've been thinking, "I bet Cindy did something weird for Mother's Day," then you know me pretty well. Because I decided that Mother's Day was the PERFECT time to challenge myself with another cooking competition.

It was actually something I'd planned to do on New Year's Eve. My concept was that I would give each of my guests a list of 100 foods. Each would veto two ingredients and vote for 17 ingredients (because of 2017). Whichever 17 foods got the most votes overall without being vetoed would be the 17 ingredients I could use for every single course and beverage (along with a few freebie pantry items, like salt, pepper, and oil). I wasn't able to do the challenge on New Year's Eve, but it was a great way to spend Mother's Day with Suzzi and Ronan, two friends who somehow always like what I cook, even when it is not good. They're great friends to have, for that reason and many others.

Here's the list of 100 foods. What would you have voted for and what would you have vetoed?


After I tallied the votes and removed the vetoes, my ingredient list included:

  • chicken
  • bacon
  • heavy cream
  • havarti
  • rhubarb
  • strawberry
  • pineapple
  • avocado
  • tomato
  • nutmeg
  • rosemary
  • vanilla
  • mustard
  • barley
  • sourdough
  • chocolate
  • wine

At first glance, I thought it would be really easy to pull together a tasty and logical meal with these ingredients, but it was harder than I thought! No matter what route I went, there was either a weird ingredient or two leftover, or an extra (and thus, contraband) ingredient I wanted to add. Where were the vegetables?! Egg would have been handy! But I did finally manage to put together a logical, if not particularly diet-friendly, menu.

We began with appetizers. I made two versions of toasted sourdough rounds. The one on the right had an oil and rosemary spread, then was topped with havarti. The one on the left had melted havarti and was topped with warm rhubarb sauce. I served them with slices of havarti and Boudin's twice-baked sourdough crackers.  


For dinner, we had chicken breast with melted havarti and a port wine mustard rosemary reduction. With it, a barley salad with avocado, tomato, and crumbled bacon. We drank pineapple-strawberry mocktails.  

   

For dessert, I made this delicious 3-ingredient chocolate mousse. I served it with chilled rhubarb sauce, strawberries I'd macerated in port wine, and vanilla whipped cream. I grated fresh nutmeg over the whole dish.


So how was it? Darn good, if I do say so myself! This was a really fun challenge and one that I'll definitely be doing again. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Embossed Great Seal

The fifth graders and I are wrapping up our study of US history by looking at national symbols and icons. We examined money and noticed that the Great Seal appears on the reverse of a $1 bill. If you look carefully at the Seal, the number 13 is present over and over, representing the original 13 colonies. The eagle is clutching 13 arrows in his left talon and an olive branch with 13 leaves in his right. This eagle's head is turned toward the olive branch, showing that the US strongly prefers peace over war.


We made an embossed version of the Great Seal to take home.


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Embossed Great Seal


Materials:

  • scissors
  • printed copy of the Great Seal (4" diameter to fit the plates)
  • foam plate (we used 6" plates)
  • pencil or ballpoint pen
  • black paint
  • paper towel


Steps: 


1. Cut out the seal so that it fits in the center of the foam plate. 

  

2. Use the pen or pencil to trace over every part of the design. Press hard enough to leave a deep impression, but not so hard that you poke through the plate. 

  

3. Rub a small amount of black paint over the design, then wipe it away. The paint will stay in the embossed area, revealing the design. Add a solid coat of paint around the rim, or leave it plain. 

  

To see other patriotic crafts that are quick and easy to make, check out the May edition of Craft Lightning!

Friday, May 19, 2017

40-4-Steve: Come Along On a Business Trip

This layout (along with the rest of the pages I made on National Scrapbook Day) goes in the 40-4-Steve album. I'd really like to get the album completed since his 41st birthday was over three months ago. This particular item (having Steve and Trevor come along on one of Steve's business trips) happened in November. We loved New Mexico. And I love this layout.

NM (affiliate link)

I'll do a proper 2-page spread about our trip for the family album eventually. For now, I'm glad to have documentation of our first time tagging along on a business trip.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Campfire Costume and Halloween 2016

Remember Trevor's campfire costume? Now it's in the album.

Campfire Costume (affiliate link)

That was a really fun costume. It was fun to scrap too.

Here is the page I made of him with his friends on Halloween. We started out with a group of 8 kids (top photo), but ended up with 4 after splitting up halfway through. The lower photo shows the four: Trevor with Sophia, Andrea, and Devin, warming their hands around the 'campfire.' It was a chilly, rainy night, so the 'fire' was very welcome.

Halloween 2016 (affiliate link)

I love Halloween.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Odd Talents I Credit to My 11 Years as a Teacher

May 17 is a special day for me, as it marks my last day as a classroom teacher. On 5/17/11, five years after that final day, I recorded all the things I missed about being a teacher. On 5/17/16, ten years after my last day, I went through the stuff I'd saved from my teaching days and shared some memorable items. Now, here I am, eleven years since that last day. And it's the most significant teaching anniversary I've ever had. Why? Because I taught for 11 years. As of today, I've now spent as much time as a out of the teaching profession as I did as a teacher.

It has been a true pleasure teaching history to Trevor's fifth grade class this year. Sure, I've taught a lot of different subjects to the Scouts and always enjoyed it, but there is something special about being in the classroom and sharing a subject I love.

A few weeks ago, as I was portioning a big pot of Hasty Pudding into individual bowls, one of Trevor's classmates commented about how amazing it was that I could perfectly proportion the food into exactly the right number of bowls. After 11 years of doing exactly that every week, it gets pretty automatic! That got me thinking about all of my odd talents that I credit to my years as a teacher. I'm sure there are more, but these are the first ones I thought of off the top of my head.

  • I am ridiculously good at dividing food and drinks into 32 equal portions.
  • I can write on a chalkboard with my arm behind me, while facing the opposite direction.
  • I can read quickly and fluently upside down.
  • I am very good at deciphering crazy handwriting.
  • I can immediately spot one act of misbehavior in a crowd of well-behaved people. 
  • I can communicate multiple messages simply by glaring. 
  • I can plan and teach a lesson that will fit exactly in the time slot I'm given. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Westward Expansion

The fifth graders and I worked on a project together to answer the question, "How did the United States grow from the 13 original states to the 50 we have now?" Obviously, there are many factors that contributed to the westward expansion of the United States. I selected 35 key events, inventions, discoveries, etc. that were instrumental in the growth of the US and assigned one to each of the 34 students. 

I assigned myself the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, CA in 1848. (The kids studied the Gold Rush in-depth last year as 4th graders and even went to a 3-day Gold Rush Camp, so it wouldn't have been fair for one of them to get that one.) I modeled putting a summary sentence (or two) at the top of the paper, then illustrating it with pictures that help explain the concept. This was my sample:



I put it together as a slideshow with the events in chronological order. The slides without pictures were assigned to students who did not turn in their work. 


Did you learn anything new about the Westward Expansion of the United States? I hope so!

Monday, May 15, 2017

National Scrapbook Day: 4th Grade

Here's another layout I made for a challenge on National Scrapbook Day. 

4th Grade (affiliate link)

It was inspired by this sketch at Scrapbook and Cards Today


As you can see, I kept the basic structure the same - title on the left, journaling on the right, pictures in a row, focal photo overlapped at the bottom left. I moved a few things over, lengthened the journaling spot, and added a second row of photos.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Scraproom Makeover Reveal

This post contains affiliate links. 

After a year of cleaning, organizing, and improving the functionality, I'm finally ready to reveal my updated scraproom!
First, let's look at the BEFORE (more photos here):


And now, the DURING:


At long last, the AFTER:


Those three photos were all taken from the doorway looking in. The room is 13 feet long and 10 feet wide. The door you see on the right leads into a small walk-in closet. Here is the view from the closet door looking back toward the entry door:


My desk area is located right outside that door in the hallway. My computer and scanner are there. 


This is what you see if you enter the room and look right. The Kallax bookcases here and under the window are new. The bins on top of the bookcases hold lightweight things, including tissue paper paper, foam, fabric, and foiling supplies. My favorite Everything Mary totes hang from the pegboard now. 


Here's a closer look at the area behind and to the left of the entry door. Steve built the behind-the-door shelving for me years ago and it's one of my favorite features of the room. The dimensions are listed here. My dad built the oak bookcase.


Here's a closer look at the behind-the-door shelves. I keep clipboards and folders for the various committees, site council, etc. that I'm on beneath it. 


Here's a closer look at my corkboard and washi storage. (It's growing! I'll be adding a third dowel soon.)


This is my main work table. I added the Deflecto tilt bins to hold my chipboard letters and reorganized my pegboard to be more functional. It's barely visible in the right of this photo, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE this self-setting clock


Check out the before photos of my closet, then marvel at how much better I'm using the space now. And everything is organized, labeled, and has a home! It's glorious.  


I am so happy with my scraproom now, but it will forever be a work in progress. I'm constantly making tweaks to improve things. There are some aesthetic changes I would like to make in the long run, including painting the ceiling fan, desk, filing cabinet, and blinds white. I'd like to move the bookcase my dad made elsewhere in the house and put something a little larger in its place. I want to replace the short floating shelves to the left of the closet with longer shelves.  

Let me know if you have any questions... or suggestions to make it even better!