02
Feb
2014

Snow Day Sun Day, and nail polish

Posted by Nicole

We're currently experiencing a minor snowpocalypse today in North Texas. It's really quite beautiful outside, but I'm dreading this week at work. If it keeps going like it's going, We probably won't have school tomorrow and I have the school suburban left over from our weekend band event. The nice thing is that they don't make us drive back to the school to return it and drive back home unless someone needs that. Since I commute, that's an extra hour at the end of a very long day. Now, if someone needs it tomorrow, I'll have to drive there and back down a slick highway, which I'm not too excited about. I kind of hope it all clears up so we can have school on Monday, because on Tuesday morning I'm leaving for the TCEA conference in Austin. I really, really, REALLY don't want to be snowed out of this great chance to see what's going on in technology education. 

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On an unrelated note, I'm loving my new nail polish addiction. It's really kind of a problem for me, but I'm okay with that. It could be a much more expensive addiction! I tend to stick to my favorite cheap-o nail polishes because they're dependable and often times, much nicer and better than one would think. I particularly like Broadway and LA Colors at Dollar General and Dollar Tree. They are $1 and always look great. I promise I'm not getting paid for this!

On the other hand, I've bought some very expensive nail polish recently as well. I had a Kohl's reward and have been eyeing essie's Lots of Lux since I first saw it. I've been looking for a good TARDiS-ey style polish for a while. This one is it! I used my reward and got the price down to $3.50 (because who spends $9 on polish!?). I was so excited... until I painted my nails. 

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It's a texture polish and I didn't know it. Now, I was very disappointed because I didn't get what I was expecting. I didn't hate it, but when you think you're getting a cute sparkly polish and you get sand, it's kind of a bummer. Well, since I already bought it, I went ahead and painted all of my nails with two coats. After wearing it for two days, it has totally grown on me. The texture is fun and different, and I've been converted. I won't use it all the time, but it's something fun and different. 

This morning, I topped one of my nails with my OTHER new nail polish, Spectraflair, to see how it would look. Spectraflair is a beautiful holographic top coat that looks great over anything. It added a subtle extra level of sparkle to an already sparkley nail polish. It's hard to see without good sunlight, and the snow just reflects harsh white rays. 

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Now, here's the part where you burn me at the stake for being a hypocrite. Spectraflair was like... $10. Now, I would pretty much never pay that much for polish, but the creator, Digital Nails, has some of the coolest polishes I've ever seen. They're all geek-themed and represent some of my favorite fandoms like Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and The Fifth Element. 

Digital Nails is owned by a fellow Texan, and I totally dig what she's doing, so I was more than happy to support her small business. As if I wasn't excited enough to get my nail polish, it came in the most adorable packaging! 

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This was a group order of six polishes. She threw in a nail file, mustache glitter, and snowflake glitter for free! Too cute! Anyways, I've been totally impressed with this Etsy store. The owner probably has no idea I'm plugging her stuff, but I just can't help it. When I have been truly impressed by something, I want to brag on them! Go check her out!

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31
Jan
2014

Whoops, it's February.

Posted by Nicole

Okay, actually it's January 30th. I'm proud that I was able to blog at all in September. This school year just started yesterday and we're already preparing for prom and graduation. I can't believe how fast my second year has flown by! In the last few months, not too much has changed. I went on a crocheting spree and finished the TARDiS blanket for my brother. My mother and I did a craft show that totally failed miserably. My husband and I bought Nintendo DS for our 25th birthdays, because you can do whatever you want when you're an adult. I took up some seriously serious instrument repair and have fixed at least 9254 flutes since the last time I blogged. 

Now, we're on to new adventures! I'm going to my first TCEA conference next week, quickly followed by TMEA the week after. I'm exploring the world of web programming and grant writing. We're looking at doing a little DIY band hall renovation, so there is a whole lot of interior design and space management in my life as well. Perhaps the biggest thing is my venture into becoming a Google Certified Trainer. I've been interested since our training last summer. Our trainer was great, but the whole time I was thinking, "Oh. I knew that. I could totally do this." It isn't as simple as it seems though.

There are five extensive online tests over information that has changed frequently in the last few months. They finally revamped the website and testing system, so I'm ready to get started. Of course, I've gone and studied and learned more than I ever could about these subjects and I won't be able to take the tests until after TMEA. Bummer. I'm actually really excited about going to TCEA/TMEA though this year. 

Without blabbing on and on, that's basically what's going on. I'm going to start blogging more often, on more topics, and you'll likely see some changes coming to the blog very soon. I'd like to transition from just crafts and recipes and odds and ends to a more professional look. But, if you've read any of my posts, you know I'm too sarcastic to take anything too seriously. There will still be crochet fails and recipe wins, just alongside posts about teaching, music, band, and technology... and how the gosh dang iPad never wants to work in the band hall and just ERGHWHGWGN. You know that feeling. Yeah you do.

 

Have you ever have one of those days where you feel like you're flying 90-to-nothing all day from start to finish? Yeah, I've been having one of those months. I've been so unbelievably busy with all sorts of things, but mainly work. It's all good stuff, just a LOT of work. Little things here, paperwork here, broken horns over there. We've had serious repair shop time going on in the band office lately. I don't know how or why, but our kids manage to find the strangest ways to mess up their horns. This week alone I've probably fixed ten unique issues, most of which I haven't seen before. The thing about instruments is that most of them have typical problems. Pads fall out, springs pop out of place, mouthpieces get stuck, valves get backwards. No. Not this week. I had a frozen flute that had rusted solid in the rain. I managed to work it free back into playing condition with some key oil and a lot of time and love. The other flute had a hidden spring on the foot that had popped loose. Most of the trumpets just had stuck valve casings. And then there was this. Image

We had a beginner use this horn last year and he complained of it buzzing all the time. On further inspection, my best friend, a REAL horn player, was able to find the source of the problem. Image

Not only was it pretty beat up, there were HOLES right through the metal. Tiny pin sized holes. Can you see three of them on the right side of the curve? The three black spots? After running some water through the horn, I found TONS more. The more and more I looked for them the more I found. My husband has been soldering a lot lately with his keyboard projects, so I asked for his help. He taught me how to solder, and I hoped that I could use it to make tiny patches. This horn couldn't get much uglier or much holier, so I figured it wouldn't hurt. Well, soldering over lacquered brass without the right know-how and the right tools was probably a long shot. I was right. I got one or two really messy patches done, but they didn't attach well, and many of them wouldn't attach at all. They just burned more lacquer off. Plan B. Now, before you judge, here's the full situation. This is a school horn that we need for a beginner. It mechanically plays really well and sounds pretty good except for the buzzing sound. It isn't pretty, but it's what we've got. Our repair budget is limited, and we're having a hard time getting horns fixed right now. So what's a thrifty, crafty band director to do?

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Hot glue. That's what I used. Seriously. I found all the holes, probably fourteen or so total (so far) and just put a dab of hot glue over the top. It stuck, and it held. I played the horn and voila! It works and there is no more buzzing or rattling. Obviously, this is not the ideal fix. Ideally, I would buy replacement slides and have every part taken off and get the dents removed. The horn's basically totaled in the sense that to fix everything, it would be cheaper to get a new horn, a horn that is not in our budget. So for one tip of a glue stick, I got another year's worth of beginner use out of this horn. I think that's not too bad. Now wish me luck as I head back to school tomorrow. I have a trumpet with TWO unsoldered braces ("It was like that when I took it out of my case!"), a trombone's really bent water key rod and popped off water key, ("I stepped on it"), and a trumpet with stuck valve casings ("I don't know why it won't come off!" after I eat chips and come to band) all waiting for me when I get to school. Hoo-ray.

Friday brought the first football game of the season. The high temperature was 104, the game was an hour and a half away, and the bus didn't have air conditioning. Cue my annual football-season-sinus-infection. With all the dust, bugs, bug spray, and exhaustion, my yearly junk returned much earlier than usual, but at least I have an extra day to recover. 

This one's particularly icky. Luckily, the sinus part isn't as bad as I'm used to, I just have a scratchy throat and stuffy nose. The worst part is that I feel super weak and tired all over. I've slept a LOT this weekend. Hopefully, I'll kick the majority of it by Tuesday, or I'll have it forever. 

So I feel poopy. Really poopy. What do I do to make myself feel better? This. I do this.

Mug brownies are like my main food group, so I wanted to try this one because it has peanut butter. 

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I didn't use any chocolate chips or any of the toppings because my pantry is a little on the empty side. Oh well. Overall, it was really pretty good, but *gasp* maybe a bit too chocolatey for me.

I did manage to make it to Walmart earlier for a teensy bit of couponing. I paid about .50 for two packs of colored pens, took $1 off some color catchers and stain spray, made .02 on whatever "BN Toddler" is, got free frozen peppers/onions, and price matched pork loin from $3.98 to $2.19, cantaloupe from $1.78 to .79, milk from $3.3something to $1.99, and Dunkin Donuts coffee from $7.5something to $5.99.Image

And now I'm worn out again so back to bed. Ugh. And in case you were wondering, the title is my sinus-drug-induced-rendition of a radio commercial from our area. "You can put your boots in the oven, but it doesn't make them biscuits." And I was absolutely certain I was correct. 

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30
Aug
2013

Poppin' Tags and Chicken Pizzadilla

Posted by Nicole

I don't have any jean capris. This is a problem because I have to go to a football game tomorrow and the high temperature is about 103 degrees. My typical uniform is jeans and a staff polo, but full-length hot denim jeans just won't cut it. So what does any crafty girl do? 

I went to Goodwill (wut-wut-wut-wut) and lucked into finding some pretty nice Old Navy jeans in my size. Now, most people get all weird about buying used thrift shop clothes. But honestly, when you think about it, I know LOTS of people who donate perfectly good clothes to Goodwill. They just don't like the style, they don't fit, or they aren't needed anymore. That means not all thrift clothes are super nasty. Yes, there ARE super nasty clothes there, but you've got to be brave and know what you're looking for. Be patient and keep your eyes open and you can find some really nice stuff. I nabbed the jeans for $4 and got a nice dress shirt for work as well for the same price. Protip: Wash your thrift clothes before you wear them or hang them in your closet. Always. 

Now, I'm all prepared to make capris. I pulled out my sewing machine which I only have a small knowledge of and got to work. First step- I stood in the mirror and eyeballed about the length I want. Hold your breath and cut off the excess. I know I only spend a few bucks, but they are good jeans and cutting them cuts into my cheap soul a little bit. 

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Now that there's no going back, I fiddled with the cuff I wanted. Fold, try on, adjust, take off, fold, try on, adjust, repeat. Once I got them where I wanted them, I ironed a pretty good crease into them. I made sure the cuffs lined up as best as I could and added a good bit of steam. 

ImageI have the leg pulled back so you can see both cuffs. I promise they aren't that uneven. From there, I headed to the sewing majigger. I started at one of the thick seams and went across the top of the cuff. As I approached the seams, I knew my machine couldn't go over them, so I went as far as I could, then backstitched a little. I don't know if that's the proper protocol for sewing denim, but that's what I did and I'm pretty sure it looks just fine. 

ImageOverall, I'm very happy with the way they turned out. I want to add some lace trim I have lying around to the back pockets one day when I'm a little braver with a needle and thread. I also wanted to show off my half-priced Sally Hansen nail stickers. I found the music print at Tuesday Morning for $4. My other nails have black polish with a sparkley gold top layer. Tomorrow is our first football game of the year, so I wanted to have a bit of school spirit. Please ignore my chubby stubby hand. I do have a thumb, but it's holding the jeans. 

Before I sign off for the evening, I'd like to introduce you to the Chicken Pizzadilla. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the original version, but it would give you heart disease just by looking at it. I discovered this glorious food in the little town where I work at one of like three places to eat. It's technically a gas station, but they serve sandwiches, pizzas, fried chicken, and the like. 

Original Chicken Pizzadilla. Start with a large pizza crust, top with lots of ranch dressing and mozzarella cheese. Cover with grilled chicken strips and bacon. Add more cheese and ranch and fold the crust over. There is absolutely NOTHING healthy about this, but it is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

I decided that I wanted to attempt to make a slightly healthier version. I started with a pizza crust mix from Walmart, which despite being part Italian, I could not make look like a round pizza should look like. Ugly is still edible. I spread some Walden Farms Ranch Dressing over the crust after it had baked a few minutes. Now, if you haven't heard of Walden Farms, it's time you had. They make dressings and toppings that are calorie free. WHAT?! Calorie free Ranch dressing! Now, you can taste the difference for sure, but it isn't bad tasting at all. It's kind of nice because it doesn't taste like you're drinking your arteries full. (Side note: I love their BBQ sauce, other salad dressings, and I'm eager to try their ketchup and chocolate syrup.)

After the thin layer of ranch, I added shredded mozzarella cheese and a premixed/precooked chicken topping I had already prepared. Back when I made Bacon Pancakes, I saved 3-5 slices of bacon. I pulled all the fat off and crumbled the bacon into a bag. I then cut up a chicken breast into teeny tiny bits and sprinkled a bit of ranch dressing mix (the powdered kind) onto the chicken. I put it all in the bag and mixed it up to store in the freezer. When I stated the crust, I pulled out the mix and cooked up the chicken. 

Top your pizza crust with ranch, mozzarella, chicken, bacon, and a little more mozzarella and put it back in the oven.

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Oh man. It was so good, and it really made a whole lot of food. I didn't calculate specific calories, but without extra grease, butter, oil, and fat, I don't think it would be too bad for you.

I hereby declare today a huge win. Now if I can just survive tomorrow- 8 class periods, a pep rally, a 1.5 hour bus ride to a football game, said football game, bus ride back, then the additional drive home. I'd better take my Tardis blanket and get started crocheting! 

 

 

28
Aug
2013

Lack of updates.

Posted by Nicole

Sorry guys, as you know, I'm a teacher. School started. I've only had five servings of caffeinated drinks in the last two days and twelve servings of chocolate. Just so you know, that is less than half my daily recommended intake as an educator. The good news is tomorrow is almost Thursday. 

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So far my classes look pretty awesome, assuming we can squash some talking early on. We have really good kids, they're just chatty. 

It's 8:16, and I'm going to go work on some lesson plans and have caffeine and maybe paint my nails and probably not crochet and hopefully go to bed early but probably wont. Does wont have an apostrophe? Won't? Will-not? Yes. It does. Right? Good thing I teach music. Good night.

25
Aug
2013

The Blanket of Christmas Future

Posted by Nicole

Image It may be August, and it might be the first day of school tomorrow, but today I'm planning for Christmas. That's right, Christmas. Now before you go all "One Holiday At A Time Please" on me, just know that I've paid my dues by working in a very large craft and hobby store. I've hung more Christmas ornaments up in one year than you have in a decade. I've gotten full body workouts lifting plastic garland and ceramic Santas onto racks high over my head. I've become a professional ladder walker while ducking under support beams and holding splintery baskets full of stockings. So yeah. I get it. You don't want to hear about the commercialization of Christmas. Well I won't talk about it. In fact, this project you see above is going to be a made-from-the-heart present for my brother. It isn't a surprise because he picked it out, but he won't get to see the finished product until Christmas morning. My little brother loves Doctor Who almost as much as I do. When he saw this blanket, the very unmanly noise he made told me what I should plan on him for Christmas. Why so early you ask? I'm a planner. I'm always planning ahead. After checking out this pattern, and judging on how busy I will be this marching season (it's an advancing year for our band), I'd better start crocheting now. I printed out this pattern from Ravelry, and I'll try to update every so often on how it is going. I'm already planning on one addition to the pattern- I'm going to add a gray border all around the Tardis so that it's a true rectangle blanket with smooth edges. Wish me luck.

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25
Aug
2013

No, You Can't Jump Through Them.

Posted by Nicole

Growing up, the N64 was pretty much a staple of my childhood. I'll never forget the first time Lakitu flew into the screen and did a 360 around Mario. Video games in 3D?! Wha?! As a second grader, that just blew my mind. Needless to say, I grew up playing video games, especially the classics like Mario and Zelda. In my home office, we've decorated exclusively with "nerdy" things. Those things that people would probably judge us for, but other nerds would envy. I painted Aaron a Tribes:Ascend painting, and it's hung next to paw print art done by our very own Sophie. (Which basically involved me dipping my dog into paint and blotting her onto the canvas.) Behind my computer, we have a huge Middle Earth map that faces a holographic Pokemon card collection on the opposite wall. Recently, our collection has started spilling out into the rest of the house. There are a few marching band prints and pictures as well as the Exploding Tardis over our TV. The most recent addition has been a work in progress for nearly a year. I got the idea to paint the paintings from Super Mario 64. The more I painted, the more I wanted to do ALL of the paintings (I started with 4). So eight paintings later, I quickly got stuck. Without thinking ahead, I didn't plan for the fact that only half of the levels in the game are entered by painting. The rest of the entrances are walls and holes. After getting stuck, I just ended up putting the project aside for a while. Well today, I've finally finished the paintings. It took me a while to decide whether to do a painting that represents a level or the actual entrance. A pyramid is a lot cooler than a green brick wall, but I decided to stay true to the actual entrances. I'm no professional painter, but I am pretty proud of my work. In fact, I have no idea what I'm doing. I just get paint and brushes and do whatever I want. Honestly, I feel like that's the best way for me to learn. It's how I've learned to decorate cakes, crochet, paint, and cook. Anyways, enjoy! Click the picture for a better view.

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