Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grandpa John's: All Cultures Are Equal

Grandpa John's: All Cultures Are Equal


My God, He's Making me Draw!

My art appreciation professor assigned the class it's first hands on project for the semester. It's a 100 point project and it's due one month from today.

We have to take an advertisement, full face shot, and reproduce it in pencil in the naturalist style. Then we have to do a series of panels, where we take our reproduction and add abstract elements, then after completing 8 of these panels, we are to redo the original naturalism drawing in the abstract.

I draw stick people remarkably well.  That is the extent of my talent.

Happily, Dave said that we can use a grid to do the work, as long as the grid lines don't appear on the finished product.

Today I hie to Hobby Lobby to buy artist pencils, since the work can only be in black and white. The skillful use of eraser and smudging can provide proper shading, etc. It looks to be an interesting project.

Yesterday, it rained cats and dogs. I, as a consequence to having to walk about campus, spent the day in wet shoes. I hate having my feet stuck in wet shoes. My feet were all pruney when I took them off at home. I digress, while I killed time in-between classes, I got to meet a few of my fellow students, all younger than me of course, and we spent a couple of hours just hanging out and talking about anything. Surprisingly, three of the young men were musicians, and even though they are about 19 to 20 years old, they all appreciate Rush! They are also surprisingly conservative in some areas, financial in particular.

The main reason they are doing their core work at the community college is because of the cost of higher education. Marcus, one of the guys I was talking with, made a good point when he said that it made no sense to pay triple or quadruple the tuition for math, when he could save the money. He will transfer his credits to the 4 year he wants to attend, once his core is done. He will still have to borrow, but this way he is borrowing less.

Very sensible of him.

I am really enjoying talking to the kids I meet on campus. Thus far, they have been polite and engaging. They all think it rocks that someone my age is starting a second career. Last semester, after I made friends of a sort with a few girls, I even got asked advise about boys. Yesterday I was asked about how to get ahead at the work place...then we talked about music, art and professors who suck.

The real treat is when one of the music students breaks out his instrument and plays. Last semester I got treated to many an impromptu guitar performance, yesterday was the violin. On Monday, for the Chinese New Year, there were dragons and drums.

I am really enjoying school and sometimes I regret not going when I was much younger. Sometimes. I don' t think that I really would have appreciated the experience back then.

I do now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Second Semester, Day 2

As was the case last semester, I am the oldest student in my class. Thus far, however, my professors are older than me or my age.

Microbiology looks to be interesting. My professor is actually an M.D. who worked in trauma and E.R. medicine before deciding to teach. My math professor is from India and he seems to be pretty cool. I ca also understand him, as he doesn't have a thick accent.

Thus far, today, I have taken my first Art Appreciation lesson...well it was a review of the syllabus...the professor for this class did his undergrad work at LSU and wants us to call him Dave. It was no surprise to me that he is a flaming liberal, but I am not in school to try to fire up my professors with anything but stellar grades. This is one of those required core curriculum classes that I have to suffer through, although I'd much prefer to have a heavier science load.

This young grasshopper must be patient.

Day one in each class and I have already sussed out the classmates who will be disruptions or have an attitude problem. I suppose that as I progress into higher levels of classes, these students will become fewer and far between. At least I hope so. It seems to me, that as classes get more and more specialized, then the students in them will be there because they are committed to their major. Right now, all of my classes are core for the spectrum of an Associate of Science degree, as opposed to something more specialized like nursing.  I am also hoping that I am wrong about my fellow classmates in Micro...most of them are declared nursing or lab tech majors. I'm hoping that this will also be the case in my A&P I class, which begins in 2 hours.

Two of my 4 classes this semester are at a different, and bigger campus than my usual one. I like this new campus, it's far bigger and has everything within walking distance. It also has a separate science center, which is where I am composing this post. The set up looks do the labs.

All in all, not a bad beginning to my second semester in college. Here's to making Deans List again!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wedding Planning in a Recession...

So, Mike gave me my engagement ring for Christmas. A little earlier, actually.  I am delighted with the ring, it's so beautiful and it fits perfectly. It should, seeing as I have spent the last year occasionally dropping hints...

"White gold, size 7, round cut."

He out did himself....

So, now I am planning away! I have my wedding gown (a picture of which I won't post here, because Mike reads my blog) and my colors picked out.

The colors were harder than I thought. I knew that I wanted black and ivory, but I had no clue about accent colors. Since we are trying to save money where we can, I 'm doing the invitations myself, along with the favors.

The colors I finally picked are shown above: I just love the blue!

I ordered the invitations, which come with reply cards, from Hobby Lobby.  What a bargain, too. 25 invites, reply cards and envelopes for each for $19.50!

I am going to replace the black ribbon with black and ivory damask!

I am looking at flower ideas. I'm also trying to decide whether or not I want to do the myself. I'm fairly crafty, and Hobby Lobby has real looking and feeling stems in a ton of colors and varieties!

I'm leaning toward this, but with maybe a few rose buds. Or, just as it is, but I can tie the bouquet in the tiffany blue ribbon...

The thing that is killing me, and Mike for that matter, are the prices of venues and catering!!!  HOLY COW!!!  Country clubs are expensive and I'm afraid the food will be ordinary, run of the mill hotel type food. Not to mention the fact that the all charge a cake cutting fee because we are providing our own cake.  SERIOUSLY???  The bar packages are high too!  Dittos on hotels.  Everything is so cookie cutter, too.

So that leaves other venues.

Like museums.

We checked one out today. It's kind of pricy, but it's unique and we can taylor the package to our needs. I don't want a champagne toast. Mike hates the stuff and I can do without it. We can toast with wine.  The linen package, which a balked at initially, turns out to be what other venues would consider to be premium! I'm talking pin tucked table cloths (in Ivory), satin chair covers (in black stripes) and napkins in Tiffany blue.  If I want runners, they are fine with me supplying my own, since theirs are $10 a table to rent...I can whip up damask runners in no time! (I love Hobby Lobby!)  Those are considered BASIC linens in this place! There are a few more areas we can cut, which will bring the rental to about $3500.

This seems like a lot, but this is a museum! The ballroom is HUGE, they supply the tables, chairs, catering kitchen, the bar package is $16.00 per person for a 4 hour bar that includes sodas (the other places we checked out charge EXTRA for sodas, even with a bar package!) This also includes a bartender, set up, take down, valet parking, dance floor (usually a separate rental)...and the event coordinator will run the show for me!  There is so much more involved with the package.

Best of all I can HIRE MY OWN CATERER!!!!!!  Tatiana, the events gal, has a list of recommended vendors, but we don't have to stick with them!

Here's a link to the museum:Czech Museum

So. That's that so far. We are going to look at a couple of other places, one of them is an Art Nouveau Bar:  Art Bar which is kind of cool. I love Art Nouveau and we both like the place is already decorated...Tiffany everywhere!  That's going to be an evening appointment, because of their hours. I also need to make sure that we can have under 21's in of we rent the place out for the reception. That might be a deal breaker. We shall see.

March 2013 isn't that far off! It's already almost mid-January!

School kicks back in next week...14 credit hours! WooHoo!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Wrap Up

My future mother in law just left to head back to New Orleans, and honey just left to go to work after being off since Friday. He's off tomorrow and works New Year's Eve. He should be home before midnight, though. Cop's schedules suck, sometimes, but that's how it goes.

It was nice having M.J. in town, we don't get to see her often. She made this incredible cheese cake for our Monday Night Football Party, which was a nice bonus on top of Drew Brees record breaking year.  The fact that he broke Marino's record with a touchdown pass, in New Orleans and we beat the Falcons was awesome. We are hoping for another trip to the Super Bowl for our team this year!

Christmas itself was nice. This year was different in as much as we didn't have to spend Christmas Eve at the hospital with mom, like last year. Although it's been a rough year for the family, and especially my mother with her knee, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It's miraculous, really, considering that at one point we were being told to expect the worst. It's also a lesson in how to never take things for granted. A seemingly simple surgery can cascade into complications galore and change one's life in ways unintended.  This isn't to say that the experience was all bad. One learns things about oneself when faced with challenges. Whether we grow from them or not is up to each individual.

My Aunt Merle passed away in November. I am still so sad over that. My mother lost her only remaining sibling with her passing, and she was extremely close to Aunt Merle. If there is a blessing amongst this, it is that mom was well enough, or had the strength, to spend the last two weeks of Aunt Merle's life with her. She was at her side, along with my cousins, when she passed. I got to say a good-bye to her, as well, although I didn't know it was a good-bye at the time.

About a month before she died, when my dog accidentally called her on my cell phone, we had a nice chat. She told me that she was sorry to have to die before I graduated from school, but that she would proudly be watching me from Heaven. She went down hill so fast after that, we thought that she had at least a year. As much as we hate the fact that she is gone, the other blessing in this is that she did go so soon. The cancer had gotten into her bones, already weakened by Rheumatoid Arthritis, and that is a horribly painful cancer to have. At least she didn't have to suffer for a year, drugged up and in bed. She would have hated that.

Another blessing was the fact that I got to see some of my cousins again, and it had been far too long. We all live so far away from each other, our lives being lived, we never really lost touch, but we didn't see one another as often as we used to. In the way of love and family, though, it was like the years fell away. So when I found myself reminiscing about childhood Christmases at Aunt Merle's this season, it was bitter sweet, but also comforting. Especially when I hold, and smell the small rosary that my cousins (Aunt Merle's daughters) Carol and Mary had made. It is a beautiful piece and it's filled with the crushed flowers from Aunt Merle's funeral arrangements. They had one made for my mother, me and my two sisters. I carry it everywhere with me. I can wear it as a bracelet, but I am not ready for that yet.

I will wear it on my wedding day. I will wear it when I graduate from nursing school.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The June Cleaver Update

The other day, I posted on Facebook that I was going to spend the day baking. That came to naught, as a few last minute Christmas presents needed to be purchased, and it fell upon me to brave the maddening hordes. I can't even begin to describe the felicity that I experienced at the local Walmart, with it's many babies clad in tops and diapers, no pants to speak of, complete with runny noses and coughs. Their mothers left much to be desired in their choice of attire as well. I'm not saying that I journey out to shop dressed as if I am attending tea with the queen, but I do at least make sure that I am clad in something other than spandex and a too small t-shirt.  There are just some women who SHOUDN'T wear spandex, or too small t- shirts for that matter, yet they insist on doing so.  Scratch that. Unless you are a dancer or you work in your town's hooker area, you shouldn't wear spandex in public at all.  Think of it as the woman's version of a man in a just shouldn't be done.

I digress.

Today was the day that I finally did almost all of the baking that I didn't get to the other day. This almost came to naught as well, when I managed to pinch a finger in my folding step stool, which I was deploying in search of powdered sugar. Long story short, I managed to break my solar nail clear down to the quick of my finger, in the middle of the finger. It hurt like hell and bled too. The nail salon told me to come back after Christmas for a repair to give the skin of my nail bed time to heal. I am so looking forward to the repair. I hope that a liberal amount of super glue will be all that is required for the repair, and not the removal of my nail. I know that would hurt. Badly.

As for the baking, I made peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, thumb print cookies and 2 pounds of fudge.  It's very difficult kneading cookie dough with one hand, I didn't want to risk pulling the injured nail off as it wiggles, ewwww, but I managed quite well. I even had time to slice the left over ham to freeze for later use.

I am currently sitting in Mike's recliner (I do that when he's at work. I feel quite rebellious!) sipping a well earned Cosmopolitan, and contemplating tomorrow's tasks. I have sugar cookies to make, and the icing for them to make as well. I also have to finish getting the house ready for my future mother-in-law's Christmas visit.  We will also have a house full the Monday after Christmas for the Saint's Monday Night Football extravaganza. I am making a HUGE pot of shrimp and andoulle sausage gumbo for that.

My kids are currently upstairs, and being quiet. Thank god they stopped quarreling over the damn Wii. Perhaps the fact that I threatened to yank the thing out of the wall, and roll over it with the car, was a help. I don't know, and I'm not looking too much into it. No, I shall treasure the peace while it lasts.

I think that I will make the kids clean up the back yard tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Years Resolutions....

This year has flown by for me! I can't believe it's almost over.

A lot has happened to me this year, the biggie being I went back to school to study nursing. Made the dean's honors list, too!

So as the end of 2011 approaches, I have been contemplating changes that I need to make in my life and around the house. Most of these will make it easier to be a mom to 2 teenagers, a supportive fiancee to Mike and still make honors in school.

Did I mention that the wedding is in August?

So, here is a list of things that I am doing in 2012...

1. January 2, 2012; inventory all of the pantry and the two freezers. I will also inventory the stockpile in the garage and organize everything.

I need to know what I have so that I can shop for groceries more effectively. With the stock pile I have built now, I haven't had to grocery shop for anything except fresh produce, bread, milk and eggs for about a month now. I did buy a HUGE ham this week. It was .99 a pound, and I couldn't pass it up. It was baked yesterday, we had some for dinner last night and I am cutting it up to freeze for meals tonight.

2. Make the bouquets for me and my bridesmaids.  Hobby Lobby often puts stems of calla lilies on sale for half off. These faux flowers look and feel real...they are $5.00 a stem. I will buy them at half off when they go on sale and make my own arrangements.

3. I will try Once A Week Cooking. From every thing I've read, this might make my life a bit easier in as much as all I will have to do is pull dinner out of the fridge or freezer and voila! All that I will need to do is take care of the sides.

4. I will Christmas shop throughout the year. We have good intentions when it comes to a budget, but we always go over. NO MORE.  I am a savvy grocery shopper, and if I apply this savviness to Christmas, Birthdays etc, we should do well.  Since Mike and I have a wedding to pay for, this will be really helpful.

5. I will do the favors for the wedding. I've decided that personalized M&M's are the way to go. When the favor tins go on sale for half off, I can stock up.

6. I will NOT add anymore people to the wedding guest list!!!!!!  200 people is quite enough, thank you very much!

7. I will expand my vegetable and fruit garden this spring. So far, so good with what I have planted so far, so why not expand it. Fresh produce is better for us anyway.

8. I am refining my housekeeping schedule. It's pretty good now, but it can be improved upon. My biggest pet peeve is the DAMN PET HAIR and the DAMN DUST!!!! Oh, and the CLUTTER that keeps accumulating on this one counter in the kitchen.  GAH! It drives me nuts!

9. This falls in with the pantry inventory, I am re-organizing the pantry too. The above mentioned counter and cabinets in the kitchen will be used for lesser used items. The cabinets are in between the pantry and the fridge. I don't do prep work on this counter. Theoretically, it's supposed to function as my command-ops center where I keep the calendar, laptop etc. Maybe if I get all mean mom about it, the clutter will stop gathering there. WHO AM I KIDDING?

10. I am NOT going to lose weight...I am rather going to shape up what I have. I am, shockingly happy with what I weigh, I'm just not happy with the flabby parts. Gravity after 40 is a bitch.

11. I am going to have an AWESOME wedding. People will speak of it in the decades to come, it will be that awesome, and I am going to do it for LESS THAN $12K.

12. I am going to finish redecorating the master bedroom. I only have some touch ups to do, and I have to stain the furniture. I have everything I need, except the stain. I just have to do it!  It shall be done BY THE END OF MARCH!!!

13. I will complete all of my prerequisites for nursing school this year. I will make dean's honors every semester.

14. I will blog more. The adventures of a 40 something in college with a ton of 20 somethings. It should be interesting  if this first semester was any indication.

That's it for now. I'm sure that I will come up with more, though. I've always been an over achiever.