Tuesday, October 29, 2013

List #1: To Do

This week I need to:

1. Make my kid's halloween costume. I know, it's only two days away, which means I've procrastinated on this one almost as long as humanly possible. To be fair, his hair will make up most of his costume, so all I really need to do is make him a headband with ears on it, and maybe a tail. You see, his hair has the potential to be giant. It's so curly, that will a little brushing and a bit of hairspray, he'll have grown his very own mane, and can then go around the neighborhood roaring (or as he pronounces it "whyyyying") at people, and he'll make a perfectly wonderful lion (or yiyon, if you want to be specific). Which brings me to:

2. Make my halloween costume. I was going to be Ms. Frizzle. I still might. I'm so torn. Because I look like Ms. Frizzle, and I'm a teacher, and I have dresses with lots of skirt and big earrings and tons of hair. BUT. I could easily be a yiyon tamer instead, which would be even funnier. Maybe.

3. Laundry. Always.

4. Pull down all my sweaters from the high shelf in the closet. Ross and I share one little dresser, because we have a small room in a small house, and so I can't keep my sweaters in there during summer time. But man, it's gotten cold lately, so I think it's time.

5. Rework my revolutions project. I wrote this project during my first year teaching, with my awesome students teacher at the time, Adrienne. It asks the students to study the art of a particular country, a revolution within that country, then analyze how the revolution was expressed through art, and then create their own art project based on that country and their revolution. It's complex and important and I'm really proud of it, but last year, it didn't work. The kids complained more than they ever have before, they didn't do it right, they actively tried to do it differently, blah blah blah. It was really frustrating, and I'm still not sure why it didn't work, but I do know I need to make some changes. So I'm going to rework it somewhat, and instead of making it a month-long project at the end of the year, I want to spread things out more. Which hopefully will cull a lot of the "I didn't have enough time" complaints. Because a full semester has got to be enough time, right? And I want to document this adjustment, which will help me to:

6. Start writing my National Boards. I've signed up for, and partially paid for, the National Board Certification Program for teachers. It's an intense and writing heavy evaluation of my work as a teacher, and I just can't seem to get started on the actual writing. Ha. I've kind of laid out my plan in terms of lessons and goals and things, but somehow that first bit of writing just doesn't happen. I think part of it is that I'm used to paper prompts and instructions, and this is all in PDF form, and it just doesn't feel natural to me. The other part is that it's not as fun as blogging or talking to my coworkers or almost anything else.

7. Share this with people. I haven't told anyone except my mother (HI MOM) about this blog. I mean, I've mentioned it in passing, but I haven't given anyone the link. I'm a little bit chicken, and a little bit not ready, and a little more shy about my writing, and basically a whole pile of things that add up to "I don't want to share because what if I suck at this" which is silly, cause it's already out there on the internet. Seriously, though, I may enjoy my lists, but I don't know if anyone else will.

8. Beef up the Etsy site. We have a few things there, but not enough. I'm not confident in the pictures I'm taking of Ross's paintings, or of my photography canvases, and so I haven't put them up. But I can always change them, right?

Monday, October 28, 2013

25 Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life

An excellent article filled with lots of helpful tips appeared on Buzzfeed today. I'll highlight a few of my favorites:

Appreciate what you have in common

Following this advice will get you a relationship at least as well-rounded as this one:

Stand up for what you want

It's like this in my house. At least I like to think so. But really, Ross runs the place and just lets me live here.

Don't be afraid to think outside the box

I'm such a sucker for puns. It's beyond silly. Like this, probably my favorite joke of all time:

Q: What do you call cheese that's not yours?
A NACHO cheese!

It's so good. And so bad. Which makes it perfect.

Or to play "naughty games"

Honestly, I have no idea why this is so hilarious. Except for how stupid silly it is. 

And that's about it for today. We've still got a couple things up on our Etsy site, so if you're reading this, check them out and let me know what you think. Because seriously, how cute is this guy?

There are a couple more butterflies on the way too...I've taken pictures and stuff, but I have no idea where my camera usb cord is...so I probably won't get them up until tomorrow. Now off to watch the latest episode of Once Upon a Time. I really love having a glass of wine, watching that show, and making ridiculous guesses about who is who and why and what and all those hilarious fun things. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Twitter Success!

Martha Plimpton replied to me on Twitter today, and Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, who I love and have been reading for ages but who I never had the courage to actually try to talk to because she's so smart and funny and talks to Wil Wheaton (who I love even more maybe), started following me! I think I may die.

Pinterest Tutorial 1 (from someone who's very new at it)

So, I've been blogging and working with Ross on our new little business for almost 2 weeks now, and I've had a bazillion questions about all those kinds of things. And some of those questions had answers that were hard to find! So here is one of the things I've tried to figure out, along with the answer. I'll try to make this a semi-regular thing, as I figure out stuff that needs explaining.

How do I put a link to my Pinterest or twitter on my blogger or blogspot blog?

Ok, there are like 80,000 tutorials about how to do this, but none of them came with screenshots, and so I did the wrong thing about 30 times before I figured it out. So I'm gonna give this tutorial a shot, and see if I can make it make sense. Keep in mind, I wrote this so even my grandma could do with with minimal phone calls:

1 and 2. Go to Pinterest, and (1) click on the menu (upper left side, three horizontal lines, helpfully labeled with a 1 in the picture). Then (2) click on "Developers" down at the bottom (labeled 2!)

3. Click on "Pin It Button"

4. Click on "Widget Builder"

5.  Select "Follow Button"
6. In the "Pinterest User URL" window, replace the second "pinterest" (the one with the box around it) with your username. Do the same in the box underneath
7. Click "Build It"

8. A new little bit of HTML will appear. Select all of it with your mouse, then copy it by pressing "Ctrl" and "c" on your keyboard

9. Go to your blogger dashboard and click on "layout"

10. Click on "add a gadget." Pick whichever spot you want. I pointed out 2 of the options, but there are others.

11. Once you do that, a new window will pop open. Scroll down in that window until you see "HTML/Javascript." Click on that. (This was the part I had the toughest time figuring out. Don't click on that tempting "add your own" option at the top of the pop up window. It won't work. You'll get an error message that says "URL contains illegal characters," and no other explanation. Which is frustrating when you're new!)

12. In the "Title" box, type in "Follow Me on Pinterest!" or whatever else you want to call it. You can call it potato salad for all I care. But I think that might confuse people...
13. In the "Content" box, paste the code you copied from the Pinterest site (use "Ctrl" and "v" on your keyboard)
14. Click "Save"

And you're done! Check out your blog, and if you don't have a shiny new Pinterest widget on your blog, call someone who knows more about computers, cause I just gave you all I've got. This is how I did mine, after lots of trial and error. Hopefully you can follow me on Pinterest through the link. I've got my fingers crossed...if I did it right, I should be famous on Pinterest within weeks, right?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why It's President Obama's Fault We Got Married

Ross and I met in 1999 on a blind date type deal. I was only 18 years old and home on break from college. He was a dashing young Marine who loved art. The first time we saw each other, I was dancing around the rim of a fountain (and Ross was probably hoping I'd fall in, 'cause it would have been funny). After seeing a really crummy movie, during which we established our unending love of bad jokes and witty commentary, we ended up at Harbor House.
Ross and I hit it off like crazy that first night, and we were inseparable for the rest of my first spring break home from college. Once I went back to school, we talked on the phone until my cordless phone battery died, and emailed each other constantly. One month after we met, he came to visit me at school, and in the sweetest and most romantic way, told me he loved me - we were both completely surprised by how quickly we fell for each other. Over the summer of that year, we took long walks on the beach and gazed off into the sunset a lot (I know, vomit, right?!), but soon my teenage dream of a summer romance was drawing to a close - Ross was leaving to go to school. In New York!
Not all that surprisingly, rather than break up, we just decided to put Ross in debt by talking on the phone constantly and flying cross country every few months. After a year, though, I talked Ross into coming to California again, because the weather's way better here. By 2002ish (I don't remember exactly - it was a while ago!) we were both living in San Diego. Unfortunately, things unraveled a bit for us then - and devastatingly, we broke up after 4 years together.
This is what sad TV watching looks like, I swear! 
For 6 looooong years, we both mourned the loss of our first love. I stayed home night after night, watching sad movies and doing absolutely nothing fun. Ross did the same thing, just somewhere else.

And then, in 2008, we got back in touch. I was living in Oakland, and he was in San Diego. Ross emailed me, pretty much out of the blue, to congratulate me on Obama's win. After all those years, he still remembered that I'm a crazy liberal hippie type! We met up for drinks in San Diego the day after Christmas, at this dive of a place called the Camel's Breath Inn, and after conversations about what we'd been up to for 6 years (mostly lots of school for both of us) and also lots of lies about panthers (he tried to convince me they could see in the dark, I tried to convince him they could secretly talk), we ended up closing down the bar for the night, after which we both promptly became deathly ill for almost a week.
Fast forward to a year later. We figured since we'd had so much fun the last year, why not make it a Christmas tradition to have drinks the day after. This time was different, though. I had a plan - ever since seeing Ross again, I just knew that I would never be happy if we didn't try again. He kept popping into my thoughts again and again, and no man had ever measured up to him. I looked back on our first years together, and just thought of how young we were - I didn't know how to stick with a relationship then! But now, the older and much smarter me figured, why not? So I got all dressed up for that year's Christmas beer, enlisted the help of my sister Kelle, and set out to rekindle the romance. 
This is the only picture we have of the night we got back together...and you can't even see the top half of Ross's head
A few drinks later, we knew it was probably time to go home, but couldn't seem to leave each other. Ross was remembering how much fun it was to hang out with me and my family, and I was remembering how much I loved talking to him! One night turned into two, turned into three, and then a few nights later, I suggested that he call in sick to work for a spontaneous trip up to Oakland. If you know Ross, you know that there has to be a damn good reason for him to be spontaneous, and apparently this was it! He called in sick to work and even agreed to make a stop at my parents house on the way up north (swearing the whole time that he'd better wear a blindfold and be smoking his last cigarette, because he was sure my father was going to kill him!). Out in the backyard that night, while we were having a glass of wine and I babbled on about how much I love Oakland, he (so not shockingly) made fun of me. I know, crazy, right? I laughed (because I grew up a Schlax/Liggett combo, and if you can't laugh at yourself, you just won't survive!), and then he said "I'm just kidding - you know I love you." Instantly he froze, terrified that he'd said those three words without thinking about it. So while frozen, he thought about it...and then he said it again. 
The next day we drove up to Oakland together, and three months later, he was a Northern California resident!
In my head: Ohmygodohmygodohmygod
And that almost brings us up to now - he tells me he loves me every day, and in May of 2010, he proposed to me in the cutest way that he possibly could have, I think - knowing my dorky heart, he dropped to one knee in front of all my students and friends at the Prom I'd planned for the high school I work at. It was stunning and beautiful and we have professional photos and video even, all because of his sneakiness! Almost immediately after he proposed, one student ran through the whole dance telling everyone I'd just gotten engaged, and within 5 minutes we were both mobbed with giddy well-wishers. Since then we've traveled, moved, gotten married, and had a little goofball with big curly hair, and mostly been so dang happy it's ridiculous. (Yes, I'm totally bragging.)

So that's our grand love story - and it's all Obama's fault, really - if he hadn't won, Ross never would have emailed me again, and we may never have met up the day after Christmas...

Wedding day...probably my favorite of our professional portraits, by an amazing photographer!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Board Games

This may be the first time I post about a game, but it won't be the last. I love love love the Offbeat Empire, and have since before I planned my wedding using tons of inspiration from Offbeat Bride. So yesterday, when I saw this post in my Feedly feed, I had to chime in. I also wanted to make sure that I saved the post so I could come back to it and try out all these games.

Our whole family, and I mean WHOLE family, loves games. Every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, and most big family get togethers, we play board games or card games. And drink lots of wine, of course. A few of our classic favorites:

Apples to Apples 

A classic game guaranteed to bring laughs. Match up one of your cards to a category, then fight to convince the dealer that your card is the best. Plus, they have blanks, so you can create cards that fit with your favorite inside jokes, or cards tailored to the 12-year-old in all of us. My personal favorites include "boobs," "dudebros, dude," and "Bob."

  Double Solitaire

A screw-your-neighbor version of solitaire that is easy to learn and fun to play. Set up a four pile solitaire playing board in the middle, buildable discard piles in front of every player, and add in a "throw a card at whoever misses a move" clause, and you've got a great 20 minute game that'll have you yelling at your family in all the best ways.


It's like Scrabble and dominos and Uno all in one. I heard about this from my first TV crush Wil Wheaton, who of course has the excellent show Tabletop. I bought it for Ross for our anniversary this year, and we've played at least twice a week since then. Portable, fun, simple, strategic, excellent.


I didn't believe my mom when she first told me this game was really good fun. To be fair, I was probably 12, and hardly anyone believes their mom about what's fun when they're 12. But seriously, all you have to do to make this a totally excellent game is replace the poker chips with jelly beans. We used Jelly Bellys. The motivation to win increases exponentially when you're battling to get the last of the juicy pear flavor jellybeans


There are grown-up versions and kid-friendly versions, and you probably already know all about this one. The absolute highlight of my Cranium playing experience was the time my husband had to hum the song "Like a Virgin" by Madonna, to my mother, who had no idea what he was trying to do.


This is probably the king board game for us. Roll the dice, hear a word that you've never heard before, make up a definition. It probably doesn't sound nearly as fun as it really is, but trust me, it's hilarious. Somehow it just begs for running jokes, tongue-in-cheek answers, and double ententres. The way you're supposed to try to win is by convincing people you know what the word actually means, but that's not how we play. The winner is almost always the one who can make us laugh the most. The alternative version, Beyond Balderdash, is also excellent - it adds obscure movie titles, abbreviations, dates, and laws into the mix.

Regardless of what I've recommended, this post from Offbeat Home has a ton more games to peruse. If you like gaming, check it out. And if you don't, what's wrong with you? Go try a new game!

Great board games for every group | Offbeat Home

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tangy Tomato Soup with Griddle Bread

For some reason, today was one of those days where I just desperately wanted some comfort food. This morning, I talked Ross into making some Swedish Pancakes, with fresh strawberry mush (what do you call it when you slice up some fruit, cook it with some sugar and a little water and lemon juice, and then spread it on stuff? It's not quite jam, but it's SO good!). And then after our very productive trip to Blick today, I needed noodles. Slurpy, saucy, long noodles. Know what I mean?

And now, here it is dinner time, and all I could think of to make was tomato soup. It just sounded so good. When I was a kid, we always had the Campbell's Cream of Tomato soup with grilled cheese. Now, I'm a broke-ass grownup, so I've learned to improvise, and actually made something that's even tastier! This tomato soup was thick, tangy, and tomato-ey. The bread was a deliciously crispy, chewy, slightly salty and so satisfying. Grown up comfort food, for sure.  And then I thought, well, Lynds, you've got a blog now, about life at your house and the stuff you get up to, right? So post your recipe! I even took a shot at some cute food photography...I'm no Pioneer Woman yet, but this ish is tasty, so go make it!

Tangy Tomato Soup with Griddle Bread

Soup Ingredients (serves 1)

1 can diced tomatoes (whichever flavor you've got...this would be good with Italian spices or chiles)
1/2 carrot
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp flour
1 cup vegetable broth (or a cube of bouillon in 1 cup water)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Your favorite hot sauce

Griddle Bread Ingredients (serves 1)

Lots of butter (the salted kind)

To make the soup:

1. Dice up the carrots, onions and garlic really small and throw them into a soup pot with 1 tbsp butter
2. Saute on medium heat for about 5 mins, until everything looks soft
3. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies, and saute for another minute or two
4. Pour in the broth and stir real fast, then add the tomatoes and the tomato paste
5. At this point, either grab your immersion blender (I have this one), or pour everything into your regular blender, and blend away. It's important to do it now, because your seasonings will be off if you do it later - all the tomatoes getting emulsified changes the flavor, in a good way.
6. Add salt (I use about 1 tsp, but I'm not huge on salty things), several dashes of pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice if you think it needs it, 5 dashes of hot sauce and the yogurt.
7. Mix it all up, let it cook til bubbly, then serve it with an extra dollop of yogurt.

To make the bread:

1. Butter a fat slice of bread, heavily
2. Microwave that sucker for about 10 seconds, just to get the butter a little melty
3. Place it butter-side down on a griddle or pan at medium high heat
4. When the first side gets all toasty and brown and crispy, flip it
5. Dunk the bread in the soup and be happy

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pancakes and Butterflies

Pancakes are a weekend tradition around here. Actually, the two houses tend to battle over who makes the better pancakes (I should clarify - Ross battles...Tommy doesn't know it's a competition yet). And I'm just happy to get pancakes mostly!
Should we call it "Hole in the Fence," or "The Secret Garden"? 
 On Saturdays, we go through the secret door in our backyard and have breakfast at my sister's place. How cool is that? Our yards connect, which is possibly the neatest thing ever. Eventually I'll get to telling that story, of how we found our home, and then how she found hers. We have big plans for that yard, but for now, the fence just has a few missing boards, and with a quick climb through the ivy and over a garden-gone-wild, we can be in each other's yards.

 So, most Saturday mornings, that's just what my little family does. In our pajamas, we head through our little backyard portal and arrive at "Auntie's House," which usually already smells like pancakes and bacon. All 5 of us crowd into the little breakfast nook in her adorable, black-and-white tiled kitchen. Emmett sits on books, in between his "dahdee" and his "tahmee," and pretty gleefully eats his "pancheeks" with dip (which is what he calls ALL condiments...ketchup, mustard, sriracha, maple syrup, etc).
Boys side versus girls side

Tomorrow, Ross will make pancakes again, but it'll just be the three of us. Which is nice, but it's not this silly dream-come-true of a little family compound that we're living on Saturday mornings. Every once in a while, I try my hand at pancakes, but I almost always go for the Swedish version, like this one I pinned. Being 1/4 Swedish by marriage and family legend, I know a good Swedish pancake when I have one. If there's not a lot of butter and a little bit of sugar, they're not right. And this recipe has both.

Also, tomorrow, we're heading off to the art store to make some big purchases. Blick's having a big sale, and Ross needs new colors, and more paper, because dang, has that guy been working. We decided to launch this business 3 days ago, and he's already got one near-completed work and two more in progress. I've been sneaking around the house snapping pictures of his paintings, and I love being able to share the progression of his works. I think he was inspired by our niece, who has a butterfly bedroom. Thinking about what parents might want to decorate their kids' rooms with, and while reading the wonderful The Very Hungry Caterpillar to our kiddo, he was inspired to create this watercolor and colored pencil piece, which is now our first item for sale on our Etsy store! Click here to buy
A Beautiful Butterfly

Friday, October 18, 2013

Boat and Picture Day

I took a boat to work this morning! It's not the first time I've done that, but it is the first time that I noticed something about myself on these "boat days."

When I take the SF Bay Ferry to work, I also take pictures. Lots of pictures. And I think they're actually pretty neat. I've got no formal photography training, and I probably use my phone's photo editing apps way too much (I like snapseed and Camera Awesome, both of which I think are getting discontinued soon, because of course they are), but I think some of my photos would actually make pretty cool artwork. Get nice prints made, glitter or mod-podge them up a bit, mount them to a canvas, and they could be pretty cool! Here's a little sampling: 
 This is the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Really, a damn cool thing to arrive to.

 Trees, sun and fog...I tend to be drawn to this kind of thing

 More trees and sun (and a little fog). There's something about the way the sun makes these lines through the photo, and the way the trees become like silhouettes...just shadows almost.

Trees and very misty fog (not much sun). I liked this one more for the shape...like giant maple leaves, or Christmas trees that ate too much.

 So these things! They're at the Port of Oakland, and rumor has it that George Lucas based his "AT-ATs" on these guys, and they're totally reminiscent of them. Every time I go past them, either driving my car or on the ferry, I'm reminded of giant animal-like machine fighters. The kiddo calls them "camoos", which I think means camels, but I readily admit I don't know all of his words.

 Tilt-shift San Francisco and Coit Tower just after sunrise. Such pretty colors...I hardly even edited the colors at all, I don't think!

And finally a cool ass window deal from on of my favorite bars - the Wild Side West. This place, on Cortland in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of SF, is too cool. The backyard is this mashup of kitschy decoration, bird feeders, repurposed toilets and your adorable grandma's backyard. I take lots of pictures here actually. 

So yeah! I'm thinking about maybe throwing up a few prints on the Etsy store, and see what happens...they could totally be legit pieces of home decor!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So, we're starting a business. Which is exciting, but so intimidating! At the moment, the whole thing is just a bunch of paint, paper, and a pile of lists (the paint is Ross...the lists are mine), but I think just maybe by next year we might have something excellent!

Ross has been an artist most of his life, I think. For sure since I met him 13 years ago. He was the cutest thing...all tough and grown up and clean-cut, with his Marine Corps fatigues and his buzzed hair, but with this romantic side that drew me to him. He talked about painting and drawing and played Mazzy Star and called me exactly when he said he would. Being the starry-eyed 18 year old hippie I was, I bought into that romance almost instantly. I loved the idea of him before I knew the reality of him, and then I loved the reality even more. He was thoughtful, kind, protective...and I loved that he was an artist. I always wanted to be one...and every once in a while I made something pretty (I'm excellent at collaging!), but I've never been an artist like Ross is. It's in his soul...just the way he looks at the world (and at me - swoon!) is through artist's eyes.

But a few years ago, he kind of stopped creating...and was sad about it. I was too...I love his art. We were struggling with money, and he got one boring job at Borders, and then another at a hardware store, and then just after he was offered a management position at Borders (requiring him to quit the hardware store so he could be full time at the bookstore), Borders went out of business...which of course happened just a few months after I got pregnant with our first child. Faced with the choice between ridiculously expensive childcare or the loss of his income, we chose for Ross to stay home and be a full-time dad and part-time student. Our son, who was born in November 2011, is thriving! He's funny, polite and smart - he tells nonsense jokes and laughs at them, yells out "gonna gichoo" and then chases us around the house, and loves saying "nankyoo" and "y'elcome" after we read books to him.

Our finances, though, are not thriving...and neither is Ross's art. So...we're starting a business! Etsy and home decorations, here we come! Ross is painting watercolors of vegetables as we speak...and I'm making lists. Business plan, marketing, finances, etc. And we're both crossing our fingers. I think we can make something awesome happen, and I'm going to document it all. The painting process, the creation of our store, our (hopeful) entry into local farmer's markets and festivals, and the finger-crossing-hope-so-hard-it-happens realization of a dream we didn't realize we had. The creation of a business we can run from home, and the establishment of my wonderful husband's art career!