Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spotlight on my Music Man

I promise to be brief.

It's not often that I talk about my husband here, the Music Man.  He's in his world (choir).  I'm in mine (cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, repurposing, marketing, painting, carpooling, reading, et cetera-ing).

But I'm proud to announce that he called me from work yesterday with some "fun, surprising news."  I love how he made sure to put the word "fun" in there, knowing that surprising news is rarely good.

This news is good, really good.

He tells me, "I got the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award."

"Of course you did," I respond, pleased but not surprised.

Not only does that man teach middle school students to sing, he teaches them to love it, and each other.

If I were to list the first 20 words that come to mind when describing his job, I'd be sure to include:

Sight reading
Overflow seating
Musical theater
District festival
Hand signs
Fundraising pizzas
Smart Score
Garage Band
Cedar Point
El Tour (as in a choir tour of the elementary schools, not a random foreign language word, as I originally thought)
Permission slips
Sheet music
The Almo
Recruiting week
Control top panty hose

Oh, wait, that's more than 20 words.  But that's OK, because most days he puts in more than a day's work.

Here are some pictures to prove it:

For a look at just how much 250 zany middle schoolers love his choirs, check out this video.

Congrats, Music Man, you deserve it!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

one fireplace gets a makeover

We mostly ignore our basement.  Yes, we type down there, watch movies down there, do yoga down there.

But mostly we just pass through it to get the the laundry room.

That is, until we have out of town guests.  Grandma Sheila for one.  She politely brought us a lamp once, taking it straight down to the basement.  There's been mention of a mirror, a coatrack, and something (anything!) to make the toilet seat not so frigid.  We're still in the brainstorming stages for that chilly detail.

Recently I took a good look at this basement.  It has wonderful assets.  Such as, a large window!  A fireplace.  A mantle.  Wall maps.  This place could be beautiful.

So I decided to tackle the fireplace first.  It's permanently out of order, so actual fire isn't really an option.  I decided to clean it.  Really clean it.  Then paint.  Add candles, original artwork, and it's not half-bad.

Here it is before,


and after.

Next facelift, this door.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Break'n'bake, I think I love you.

We've accidentally fallen in love with break and bake cookies over here.  The Music Man brought a few packs home as a fundraiser kickback. We eat them cooked, raw, and (our favorite) partially cooked.  I think we love them so much because we can bake just four at a time, a perfect family dessert in just 9 minutes.

When we ran out of fundraiser break'n'bake, we all got a little grumpy, so we decided to make our own.

It's the regular cookie recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag, spread and frozen in ice cube trays.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

why I like the Suzuki method

The Suzuki method of learning music, also known as the Mother Tongue Approach, is considered a really great way for small children to learn to play a musical instrument because of its emphasis on listening, repetition, and imitation, just as a baby learns its first spoken language.  All that is really great, but what I really like about Suzuki is this:

While this is happening on stage,

this is happening in the audience.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Errands as a glimpse into my soul.

Or more simply put:  What do your errands say about you?

This morning someone asked what I was planning to do with my time while both girls were at school.  "Lowe's, the fabric store, the Asian food store, and hopefully the library."

That pretty much sums up my favorite places to go, at least at this time of year.

Where are you going today?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hearty Breakfast

You know how I feel about breakfasts.  And cookie cutters.  It was just a matter of time before something like this appeared.

Fry-slash-scramble up some eggs.  Toast some bread.

Find a cookie cutter that corresponds to the nearest holiday.

Soon you'll have a cute and hearty breakfast, like this one!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ideas for a trash-free Valentine's Day.

Normally I'm not a Hallmark holiday kind of girl.  But ever since my kids started school (who are we kidding? Ever since forever ago...) I feel like I have to actively find ways to celebrate special days like Valentine's Day without creating trash.

So instead of bags of candy, boxes of chocolate, and flowers wrapped in cellophane, we're doing things a little differently.

Naturally crafty, my daughters are eagerly making simple construction paper cards with delightfully sincere messages, such as, "I like you a lot."  We may get ambitious and make cut-out cookies with a fun heart-shaped cookie cutter.  Or, we may not.

We'll probably snuggle up by the fire and read charming picture books, such as Cranberry Valentine.

If you are trying to reduce your holiday trash, consider some of these ideas, either for your kids, or your honey.

  • Instead of a gift, give an experience.  Last night, the Music Man and I brought to the forefront our inner Spider-person at the local rock climbing wall.  We had so much fun, we're sore.
  • If you celebrate with a dinner out, consider bringing your own tupperware or glass containers to bring your leftovers home.  No need for all those styrofoam boxes!
  • If you celebrate with a dinner in, try to throw the kitchen scraps in a compost pile.  It works even through the winter!
  • Instead of a card, consider writing a love letter.  Even a few sentences can go a long way!  One mom I know surprises her children each Valentine morning with a love note under their pillows, like a Heart Fairy.
  • If it's an outing you're looking for, come on out to Lunasa's Open House Market on Tues, Feb 14th, 4 - 7pm.  I'll be there as The Eventual Farmer.  Be tempted by some local produce, meats, music, and handcrafts.
  • Instead of a piece of jewelry, consider a more practical gift, such as, oh, I don't know, a chicken coop.  I'm so serious.  My new-to-me coop has made me so happy this February!
  • Break up the winter confinement by going outdoors!  Take a walk on a sunny day.  Or at least shovel snow together.
  • Better yet, go to a hot tub place.
  • In lieu of boxed chocolates and all its packaging, try your hand at baking.  Here's a winner of a recipe for Chocolate Marble Bread with Ganache Frosting.

How will you be celebrating this Valentine's Day?  Any other fun, trash-free ideas?