March 31, 2011

Next up: Cheese and Yogurt making

In spite of the fact that I'll be out of a job soon, without expendable income, and with lots of time on my hands, I've decided to read up more on Urban Homesteading. I've blogged about this before, and I can't say enough about how excited I am to grow my Urban farm and become somewhat self sustained! (I know - naysayers beware - if I have fresh eggs and veggies, and a compost pile, then I am way more self-sustained than any other city folk). Anyway, cheese and yogurt making seems something that I could do that would save a lot of money. Granted, I wouldn't get a cow to get the milk (well, I would if Paul/the HOA would let me!) but at least I can use good organic milk to begin with. This book has me dreaming of all things dairy. Mmmm.....

So, what do you think? I know that paying $4 for a tub of Greek yogurt makes me mad, considering it's simply milk, with some bacteria, strained. I'm hoping someone gets this book for me for my upcoming Dirty 30th birthday (hint hint!)

March 30, 2011

DC Bound

I leave today for NWP's Annual Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Obviously, this year the visit is vitally important, since we have been zeroed out of the budget and are needing to fight our way back into it. I'm excited to return to D.C., and I'm excited to see all of our teachers fired up about the writing project. I'm hoping they will take that frustration and anger and turn it into positive stories that impact those with whom they speak. Scratch that, there's no doubt in my mind that that's what they will be doing. Case in point: 1,000 blog post in support of the NWP. Read the growing list here. I'm so proud to see my fellow writing project supporters post what the writing project has meant to them. I'll even be more excited to see this enthusiasm in person. On the flip side, I'm a little sad that this will be my last Spring Meeting, barring any unforeseen circumstances. That definitely brings a tear to my eye (and I'm sure to everyone else that's attending the event). I'll have to remember to pack the tissues....

March 29, 2011

How I'm doing

Well folks, it's been one helluva week. Last Monday I found out I was being laid off June 1 (hence why I haven't posted all week). I'm not going to say that yesterday (one week later) was the best ever, but it was tolerable. See, the sun is starting to shine in California, and plans are starting to be solidified.

What does that mean for me? Well, many things are in the works. Going to work on getting my childcare provider's license so I can watch kiddos in my house if I need to. Working on a new website/blog for an event planning business that I've always dreamed of starting (links to come - soon!) Maybe starting a crafting co-op with some friends of mine - and organize a few craft shows around the country for small vendors. Maybe watch my niece Cadence for the summer. Plant my new garden and order 3 more chicks for our mansion coop (still being built - the relentless rain has finally stopped). Make a list of free things to do in SF that I've never been able to do (i.e. museums, beaches, etc). Work out. Visit my parents more often. The list keeps growing and growing.

Most importantly, I'm keeping my head up. And thanks to all of my friends and family, for their outpouring of support during this rough time. You have all given me permission to be sad, and strength to be optimistic. Basically, you kick ass.

March 23, 2011

Sad, sad day

Monday was a sad day here at the National Writing Project. Our ED let us know that they have to reduce staff by 60%, due to the fact that our federal funding was cut. My emotions have been all over the place - from sad, to angry, to optimistic - to everything in between. I was told that my last day is June 1. I bawled. I knew it was coming, but there's something about getting a letter of termination that makes it so official. I know that I'll be fine, that every cloud has a silver lining, and that this is an opportunity for me (despite the shitty circumstances). I can get over getting laid off.

I can't get over what this means for our country.

The message our politicians are sending: that it's okay to devalue teachers and educators - people that are creating our future citizens. While other countries are investing in children, we are divesting at a seriously alarming rate. It's hard to wrap my head around how we have gotten here. It doesn't matter what political party you are. We are all members of the human party - and if we don't value our children - our future - than what is worth valuing?

March 19, 2011

Best bag tutorial

Here's my next project: A pleated tote/beach bag from thimble:

The tutorial looks fairly easy with lots of pictures (which are always helpful!)

March 18, 2011

Help Japan

This has been a pretty overwhelming week for me - returning from the high of attending the NWP Rural Sites Network Conference, to the low seen in the horrific images of Japan. Though I would consider myself to be a pretty optimistic person, I'm not going to lie - I'm feeling pretty down these days. I'm trying to concentrate on work, on the puppy, on life - but, it's been hard.

W+K Studio has created this beautifully simple print to raise money for relief efforts in Japan. If you can, please donate - I already have. It's made me feel like I've contributed somehow.

March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day!

From Coco Boling, the ever-growing puppy-dog. She's all that a puppy should be (rambunctious, playful, soft, cuddly, good kisser). She's also a chewer, if you haven't noticed!

So much for posing with the Celtics hat

March 16, 2011

Oh, Little Rock!

I returned Saturday night from a wonderful visit to Little Rock, Arkansas for the 2011 NWP Rural Sites Network Conference. Not only was the program great, but the city was fun as well! And, it was great to be around NWP peeps (as usual). Given the current funding circumstances, it was especially great to network and catch up with the teachers from across the country. I would say that people were in good spirits and ready to fight the good fight to try to get NWP funding back into the federal budget. One of the best parts of the conference was hearing Spirit Trickey speak about her work, her life, and her mom (Minnijean Brown Trickey) of the Little Rock Nine). She was very inspiring, and I left feeling really empowered!

Sunset over the Arkansas River

And now, for the fun part. Yes, those are ducks you see swimming in the Peabody Hotel fountain:

Legend has it that the general manager of the original Peabody Hotel in Memphis had a little too much whiskey and left his live decoy ducks in the fountain. The guests loved it and they let them stay. Now days, the ducks are paraded twice a day on the red carpet for all to see:

I took some video of the whole parade, but am working on making it into a movie with fun sounds and stuff. So, I'll post that later. If you ever get the chance to go to Little Rock, I would totally recommend it!

March 11, 2011

Eating my way through Kansas City

I totally forgot to give a recap on my trip to Kansas City. The meeting was very productive and we got a lot of work done. But the best part of Kansas City was the food. The first night I was in town, we went to this yummy place called Grand Street Cafe. It was right around the corner from our hotel, and had an awesome selection of what I would call "California cuisine". I had a fried chicken salad (an oxymoron, right?) It was delicious. I will definitely be going back there in May.

Our second night we ventured a few more blocks from our hotel to the Beer Kitchen. This place was the bomb. It reminded me a lot of the Publick House in Boston. Lots of artisanal beers and comfort food. I had a reuben sandwich with fries (the fries come with different aoili sauces. YUM!) Our table also ordered these amazing deviled eggs as an appetizer. Highly recommended.

And finally, the mother of all barbeque joints - Gates BBQ. A Kansas City institution.

Our group went all out on our trip to Gates. I had a burnt end sandwich, which is basically all of the ends of the meat on a bun with lots of bbq sauce. That sh*t melted in my mouth!

Katie, our Kansas City Writing Project colleague and host, ordered the 4-boner (heheh). Four different meats on one plate:

She made me take most of it home for Paul. Luckily for him, the leftovers made it home and he was in heaven. I can't wait to go back in May!

March 9, 2011

Tough times

Most of you may know that I work for an amazing organization called the National Writing Project. The NWP is a network of over 200 university-based sites that provide professional development opportunities to local teachers with the goal of improving writing in all of our nations schools. I joined the NWP over 3 years ago, and was drawn to the organization because of it's values - teachers are treated as professionals and experts in their fields of study. Teachers are respected (what a concept!), and writing is something that is a part of our everyday life (and is fun!) From a social work perspective, the organization is a fine example of organic community organizing - NWP began as a group of teachers in Berkeley coming together every summer to talk about what's happening in their classrooms, and to share knowledge. It doesn't get more organic than that.

Times are tough for us right now. We've been cut from the budget that was signed by the President last week. Among us are programs like Reading is Fundamental and Teach for America - we are all considered "earmarks." And, we all know what earmarks mean in the current political scene: Sarah Palin and the bridge to nowhere. Pet projects and "pork." But we're not just an earmark - we're so much more than that!

We're an organization that serves 130,000 educators and 1.4 million students. These educators are the people that I get to work with on a day to day basis - whether that's helping them plan for a professional development event or drinking a beer after a long day of conferences. These are educators that are doing amazing work in the communities in which they live. They are educators who tell me about their students lives, and how their own lives have changed by being a part of a national network of hard-working teachers. Educators that don't spend their summer vacations poolside drinking pina coladas. These are teachers who are facilitating and participating in Summer Institutes - places where a whole new world of personal and professional opportunities await.

Of course I am sad that there is a possibility I may lose my job, but for me that's not the saddest part. For me, I'm sad, frustrated, and angry that these amazing teachers won't be able to pass on the knowledge from the NWP to their own students. I am a product of a NWP educator (my freshman college writing instructor started the Central California Writing Project at UCSC). He was the first person to show me the power of writing. What about the future of our nation's students, who need the NWP?

The only thing we can do now is urge everyone to contact their local reps to try and get us back in the budget. Please, anything you can do will help us tremendously. Click here to find out who represents you in DC.

If you're interested, here's more press:
Congress Chops Funding for High-Profile Education Programs

Famed state writing program on federal chopping block

Two-Week Continuing Resolution Shows No Path Forward on Funding

Statement by Sharon J. Washington, Executive Director of National Writing Project

March 8, 2011

Fine little stuff

Thanks, Creature Comforts, for introducing me to the Fine Little Shop. Look at all of the adorable stuff they have!

Cute packaging tape

postcard set

nature-inspired pillowcase

Go check it out!

March 7, 2011

What a weekend!

So many fun and exciting things happened this weekend! First of all, I came home from work on Friday to our FIRST EGG!

We're not sure who laid it, but she's laid a total of 3 so far! I'm so excited about it - five months of chicken farming has paid off. And the eggs are delicious!


After making that discovery, Jenny, Paula and I hopped into the rhino and drove up to Squaw Valley to celebrate my friend Kim's dirty 30th birthday. We got up there around 9pm and bar hopped in Squaw Village, returning to our condo around 1am and proceeded to eat mass quantities of chips, salsa, guacamole, and M&Ms. There were a few dares going on, none of which can be revealed on this blog due to their embarrassing nature. You get the picture.

Saturday morning we (umm...I) nursed our hangovers and went tubing. I think the whole ski resort could hear me screaming as I made it down the hill. Those tubes are scary! (and are made for 5-year-old butts):

Jenny and Paula being pulled up the tubing hill

We ended the day with naps and dinner at the Blue Coyote Cafe. Luckily there were no more dares, only a rousing game of Celebrity (courtesy of Jenny). After a yummy breakfast Sunday morning, we bid adieu to Kim and the land of snow. We treated ourselves to In 'n Out in Davis, and made it home in time to do laundry and go grocery shopping. And play with the puppy! It was a much-needed, exciting weekend!

March 3, 2011

Team Coco

I can't help myself. I'm in love with this dog. She's everything that we expected and more - a typical puppy that chases things, bites toes, pees on the floor (we're working on that) - but also, a total sweetheart who gives big kisses, is mellow, and doesn't chase the cats! We are very proud puppy parents, and things are going very well so far. Of course, the biggest thing now is bonding and working on potty/house training. Though she's still learning, she's just had a couple accidents while we've been home (and she nearly always makes it onto the puppy pads when we're not home). She's very happy-go-lucky and I think is in love with both of us as well :)

Here are some shots from her first week home:

Her first bath

And....videos!! She's such a rascal.

March 1, 2011

Fashion model!

Yay! I just got this pic from my dearest friends who recently had little baby C. Here he is, modeling the onesie I made him!