What to expect when you go to Lancaster to see the poppies.

You should go visit the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve right now. With the rest of Los Angeles, okay, but you should still go.

There will be lots of people. They will all be taking Instagram pictures. They will fill up the entire parking lot and cause traffic. It will still be worth it to go. This was something to kick off the bucket list.

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Here’s my son looking at a butterfly (out of frame). Yes- there were butterflies AND poppies.

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The photographic challenge becomes trying to avoid getting other people in your shot.

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This is my poppy face.

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BC look! It’s the poppies that are all over the promotional materials for California!

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More selfies!

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More poppies!

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More selfies!!

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An all-around excellent St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve officially broken up with winter. We’re not a a thing anymore. #checkyalater

P.S. Lots of people got out of their cars and walked/sat among the poppies outside of the reserve (so they wouldn’t be fined). Don’t be those people. I might be a tool and go on a road trip for instagram pictures- but I’m not going to trample poppies to do it. Stay on the trails, yo.

P.P.S. I would also recommend writing out directions because you might not get reception (you def won’t if you have T-Mobile) in the middle of nowhere. Also bring water.

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You are making your cold 1000x worse

Do you know who Sylvia Boorstein is? I didn’t know who she was until I found her book “Happiness is an Inside Job” on a mark-down table at Powell’s City of Books when I was looking for a cheap way to chill TF out I guess. Sylvia Boorstein is the wise Jewish-Buddhist grandmother you never had. She was the gateway for me to mindfulness, meditation and how to stop making a Big Deal out of everything.

Anyway- she has a story she tells in The Courage to Be Happy (which you can purchase on Amazon on audio-CASSETTE – what even IS that?) about her teacher, Sharon Salzberg, reminding her at the end of their meetings, “Sylvia, be happy.” I was so thrilled to find Sharon Salzberg has a collection of guided meditations available on the Insight Timer app (and do you have that? What are you DOING? And PLEASE don’t say you’re paying for Headspace or Calm or any other app you have to pay for. Stop it. You’re being silly.). Anyway- Sharon Salzberg has a loving kindness meditation which is magical anyway, but it was so cool to hear her say “be happy” over and over again.

OK- so- here’s the whole point. Sharon Salzberg has been doing a month-long meditation challenge and she’s invited those doing it to blog about it on her blogging platform. But I forgot my password. And the password recovery thing sends me an email which links me back to the “forgot your password” page which sends me an email which links me back to the “forgot your password page” which- you get the point. I emailed the support team asking them if it was part of the mindfulness challenge LOL. They didn’t respond.

SO I’m blogging about it on MY blog. The most useful thing I’ve learned is how to interrupt my reactions to discomfort. She has a meditation which asks you to consider your physical sensations. I have a cold like everybody has right now and I’m tired like I always am. And the thing is, I feel woozy and headachy which is bad enough, but what I also do is assign a ton of meaning to these feelings. I feel bad that I feel bad, but I feel worse about how I’m going to feel later- like later when I have to concentrate, or when I have to be enthusiastic about stuff in front of students or tomorrow when I have to work another full day or on the weekend when I’m supposed to be doing another set of things I have to do. I start to resent all the stuff I have to do when I’m sick and just want to lay down for a month… So this physical discomfort I have is made 1000x more powerful by all the thoughts and emotions that I attach to it.  She’s given me a tool to interrupt that thought process.

And perhaps you have a cold and are making it 1000x worse like me. So listen to this meditation I’m linking to again. For free! You don’t need to suffer more as a result of your suffering. So stop it. You’re being silly.

 

In loving memory of a 1998 Toyota Camry

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of this black 1998 Toyota Camry that I owned for 14 years of its 21-year life.

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My dad got it from my uncle- supplemented with the money I made working at the summer camp Sarah Silverman grew up at in New Hampshire right after I graduated from college. I needed a car to get to the teaching job I would start that fall- 2005. My dad and I drove it to Southern California where it lived happily ever after.

Well almost happily ever after… I had to replace the whole front half of the car after I rear-ended somebody on the 101 12 years ago. Um and I got that pretty dent by running into a building…

I learned how to work a car in my dad’s Jeep Cherokee in Portland- but I learned how to drive in LA in this car. I learned how to pass semi-trucks (maybe while screaming out loud…) and how to work my way around multiple lanes of traffic and eventually… how to parallel park… although I still go to great lengths to avoid doing so…

It leaked miserably and unrelentingly when it rained. In the days after the rain, it steamed up and smelled like broccoli. The passenger door wouldn’t open from the outside. I had to wedge something into the release switch thingy to get the gas cap to open. The air conditioning was busted a long time ago. It had a slight moth infestation. The driver-side mirror had been knocked off by a semi (and then the trucking company denied it happened and I couldn’t afford to have it fixed). The cd player only worked if you kept pushing the cd back into it over and over again and it finally gave in. I was told to replace the struts about 10 years ago and never did. Oh but it got me from A to B for fourteen years and no car payments.

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On Valentine’s Day, the engine shut off while I was attempting the 60 minute commute to Eagle Rock and, miraculously, I had enough momentum to get to the side of the road. The mechanic said it needed a new engine and didn’t recommend that I put the money into it.

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Kars 4 Kids will be putting it out of its misery officially.

In lieu of flowers, please get yourself a nice car wash and possibly, a sparkly license plate frame.

Happy trails, my little car. Rest in pieces.

 

P.S. Here’s an article about Camrys from the 90’s written 4 years ago that you might enjoy: https://www.theonion.com/toyota-recalls-1993-camry-due-to-fact-that-owners-reall-1819577805

Witticisms in Waste Canvas

Let’s forget all of the things that are happening in the government and government-funded jobs you and I may be working for- and LET’S GO ON AN INTERNET ADVENTURE!

I have to say that I feel a bit incomplete now that my JT portrait cross stitch is done and I’ve been struggling to find another project that’s anywhere near as exciting. I might have found it. I remember a classmate of mine in 8th grade cross-stitching a cat face onto a purple sweatshirt. I want to cross stitch something into a purple sweatshirt. I have figured out at least one brand name of cross stitch kits from the 80’s-90’s that are still very much available on Etsy and Ebay and I wanted to share with you my favorites.

Which one should I pick??

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I mean I don’t know about you, but I absolutely need a lace-collared T-shirt with a goose overwhelmed about all the malls she has to choose from. Remember malls?

Let’s continue the goose theme:

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FRENCH GEESE!!! LES GIS!! With an adult RIBBON DETAIL! How do I choose? OH MY GOD.

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A CLOWN ON PURPOSE!!!!!!

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Shhhhh I’m already getting started on my husband’s Christmas present for next year.

 

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I might just go with the cat. It’s what you’re expecting, isn’t it?

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BUT WHO CAN RESIST TEDDY BEARS IN THE SHAPES OF LETTERS?????? NO ONE!!!

And then I found this:

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I wasn’t old enough to wear things that said “I don’t know if life is passing me by or trying to run me over” back when these were popular. My time has finally come.

And OH GOD- type in “WASTE CANVAS” into eBay and see you next week because you will find some amazing, incredible things to be stitched on clothing to be worn by actual people. I mean OH my god. I might have found my true purpose in life.

WHICH ONE SHOULD I START WITH, THO? HELP, INTERNET!!! WHERE’S THE CAPS LOCK ON A CHROMEBOOK???

This book exists

My grandmother was gracious enough to let me go through her collection of kids books and take a pile home for my son. She was a teacher and she has six grandchildren so she has quite a collection of quality children’s literature.

Including this rap-in-book…

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Written by Bobbi Katz and published in 1991. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves a bit:

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My first thought when I found this book was “Oh no- I have to make an internet video!” because this has to have an internet video and ain’t nobody got time for that. Luckily, some people on the internet had time for that and made videos so I don’t have to.

You should start by watching this one– a quality reading of the rap with beatboxing.  And then, now that you’ve heard it, watch the live action version.

I don’t have a lot more to say about this except- how cool that it exists and what an encapsulation of the early nineties. I definitely do not remember this from my childhood and I felt the need to share it with the 2 people who read my blog and the one person who followed the #linkinbio from Instagram (thank you three- you guys are great).

 

 

Decluttering by making time for projects: Here’s a cross-stitch portrait of Justin Timberlake

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I’m bringing cross-stitch back

Sometimes you keep a “Cross-Stitch Crazy” magazine for 10 years because there’s a pattern in it for a portrait of a celebrity that your sister-in-law is hopelessly devoted to. I think we keep things like this to buy time. We think if we have the things for projects we want to do someday, then that someday will come. We’ll live long enough to find the time to do all the things we’ve ever wanted to do. And when that time comes, by golly, we’ll have the pattern for it.

It was way back in February, during a week my mom was visiting, that I decided to go to Michael’s and pick up the 15 shades of embroidery floss I needed to make this thing a reality. It was so long ago, I honestly don’t remember whether there was something specific that made me finally pull the trigger other than my general drive to “make time for projects” that I’ve been riding ever since reading “The Happiness Project.”

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The whole thing took about 9 months to complete (yes- like a baby for people who get to have full-term pregnancies…). I worked at it while we did movie nights so I wouldn’t fall asleep 20 minutes into the show like I usually do.  I took it to craft night events. It was ridiculously difficult to not say anything about it on social media. It was the longest and most intensive craft project I’ve ever completed. And I can cross-stitch now! Right after I finished this project, I quickly churned out another SSDGM hoop for my book-club secret Santa. (Bloody alphabet pattern from Starkissed Jade on etsy & flower pattern from this image I found on Pinterest... don’t know where it originated from…) It’s also like I didn’t know what to do with my fingers once the portrait was done… And MFM hoops are SO IN RIGHT NOW.

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Cross-stitching is oddly addictive. It’s like checking off a million boxes on a to-do list. I’d always be like- yeah I’ll go to bed once I’m done with this row but then I’d be like OMG I GET TO START A NEW ROW!

A few days before I finished the Justin Timberlake project, my son threw up on the pattern (the pattern in the magazine, not the project). So then I did part with that magazine. I don’t know what I would have done with it if that hadn’t happened… I’m afraid I might have still held onto it for nostalgia’s sake- or maybe I would have cut out the pattern and put it in my art journal…

But anyway- I write about this thing I made and let go of on the day when I’ve acquired so much more stuff, including a sassy little Chromebook I’m writing this post on. (My old computer stopped working with WordPress so I had to abandon blogging even more than I already abandon it.) It was so awesome to be able to give a Christmas present I’ve been meaning to give someone for 10 years (I didn’t actually get to see her open it since she lives like 3,000 miles away. It was still absolutely worth it). If any of you are holding onto something for the same reason, I highly recommend you make like Nike and just do it. “I haven’t done anything with it in 10 years” might not be a good reason to get rid of something. If you think about why you’ve kept it for so long- maybe it’s worth it to you to make the time to use it.  You can declutter by making time for your projects.

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And Merry Christmas!

 

 

Twin Peaks Tuesday: Log Lady Style

It’s a long-term goal I have to cultivate my own spin on Margaret Lanterman’s look. My husband got my first signature piece- the wooden leaf and acorn brooch. This is actual vintage from the nineties (I am crying about how old that just made me feel!!!). The only ones I can find are on Etsy and Ebay. I wore it with my squirrel/mushroom dress from ModCloth which I can’t believe doesn’t also have acorns on it. Also… I guess it’s fall now. The fall is not what it seems here in sunny SoCal.

***picture from Variety who credits ABC

(Almost the same pin, right??)

I got new glasses and I legit tried to find some red-rimmed ones but no luck. Warby Parker doesn’t have any either… Does anyone know of any other online glasses retailers that they trust? I like these but I’m kinda afraid of “ezcontacts.com” Oh well, I’ll just take my time. The fish aren’t running.

Twin Peaks Tuesday: Elevator Rules

This is not a speech blog, but I am a speech therapist. One of the many things that falls under my scope of practice is “pragmatics” or the functional and social use of language. I very often have to explicitly teach students “hidden social rules” or expected behaviors that most of us seem to learn without trying (like personal space, staying on topic, waiting your turn to talk, facing the person you’re listening to, etc). I usually start with a discussion about which way you face in an elevator. Did anyone ever tell you that, when you walk into an elevator, you’re supposed to turn around and face the door? Of course not- but how do you know to do it? It’s a “hidden” rule.

So I freaked out when Dougie got into an elevator for the first time during season 3 of Twin Peaks, facing the wrong way (and breaking some other social rules too). And then some genius edited 2 elevator scenes together for me and posted it on YouTube. They do say “damn” so I only play this for high schoolers- and even then, I either talk over that part or pause and skip over it. But it’s so much more effective than just talking about an elevator. And I get to watch Twin Peaks for work!

I’m always on the lookout for appropriate-for-school YouTube clips that involve people breaking social rules or using obvious non-verbal communication. I do a whole Elf unit around Christmas time. (The Dabbling Speechie has a blog post with links to several clips all in one place plus sample activities!) So finding a Twin Peaks clip to add to my collection was awesome.

No one wants chicken pudding so just stop it.

America’s Test Kitchen gets it right in their “Slow-Cooker Revolution” book. Avoid putting chicken in a slow-cooker- but if you have to, cook it on low for no more than 4 hours. Chicken breast cooks in an oven between 25-40 minutes so what are you even doing? When I first got a slow-cooker eighty billion years ago (ok maybe 12 years ago…), I think there was a misunderstanding that you couldn’t cook anything on low for less than 6 hours. If you were cooking for only 4 hours, it had to be on high, no matter what. There were other misunderstandings like pasta and rice could be thrown in with the rest of the ingredients and not turn into chicken pudding for dinner time.** Or that vegetables would maintain their color after cooking for hours in brown liquid. Or that anything “slow-cooked” would have a delicious melt-in-your-mouth quality. Or that slow-cookers are for busy people (and require little to no prep/planning).

Anyway- I found a yellow curry chicken recipe for this weekend and I was happy to see it recommending 4-5 hours of cooking on low. But it also recommended putting in bell peppers and letting them cook that whole time. I knew a little better and put them in for the last hour. That’s also too long… they totally disintegrated.

I still ended up with an Instagram-worthyish bowl… but look at those sad pepper bits… poor things.

The only vegetables that belong in a slow-cooker are anything you’d leave on a stove forever in a soup- onions, carrots, celery, potatoes. Anything else is lies (including already-cooked canned beans in chili- that is wrong!!!) Unless you stick it in for the last 15-30 minutes or so- but you’re using a slow-cooker bc you’re out doing important things so who has time for that?

Anyway- there are as many crappy slow-cooker recipes on the internet as there are cat videos. I feel the need to put it out there- slow-cookers can turn the crunchiest carrots into almost-purée so think twice before putting anything less hardy in that pot. Even if your recipe says so.

Also, btw- this is not a food blog.

**I’m going to break my own rule just for history and palate purposes- here’s an actual recipe from a book we used 12 years ago:

Put COOKED RICE in your slow cooker for 6-8 HOURS???!!!! With bell peppers and canned beans…. What is wrong with you?

Here’s the book that you don’t need to buy unless you need kindling:

Crockery indeed.