19 December 2012

Linkage, Volume 192

26 Acts
Ann Curry is calling on people all over the world to do 26 random acts of kindness for each of the people killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School
#26Acts on Twitter, or facebook.com/26acts
via NiceGirlNotes on Facebook

3-D Printing
Staples Announces In-Store 3-D Printing Service
via swissmiss

Blind Color
Tommy Edison, blind since birth, tells how people have tried to explain to him the concept of color
via Miss Cellania

Great Tasting Paste
13 Hilarious Online Reviews Of Extremely Mundane Objects
via BuzzFeed

17 December 2012

Pixyisms VI

Dino: Do I have to eat my mac and cheese?
Tim: Yes, I want you to eat at least 5 bites.
Dino: 5 bites?
Tim: Yes, 5 bites.
Dino: No! 12 bites!
Tim: Okay...

Pixy: Some people call... in Spanish some people call Red "Rojo"

Dino: Daddy, I do *not* have an attitude - I'm just tired.

Dino: Eenie Meenie Miney Moe, Hizza Holler Tiny Toe...

10 December 2012

Pixyisms V

Gummy Bear: Hey! I *need* you!
Shortcake: [Runs over] What do you need?
GB: I need you to come play with me!

Candy: "Jesus is the reason for the season." That rhymes!
Shortcake: 'Jesus' and 'season' don't rhyme...

GB: I want my mommy...
Candy: Your mommy is right beside you!
GB: I will *always* want my mommy!
GB's Mommy: I'll remind you of that when you're 15...

Dino: Daddy, guess who I love most of all?
Tim: Who?
Dino: God. Second is Jesus.
Tim: Awww, that's nice. Who's third?
Dino: Santa Claus.

Dino: There are two ways to make light pink. You could put white first then pink, or you could put pink first then white.

[Pixy showed me all the candy she got at the Christmas parade]
Nana: And I already took out all the hard candy!
Pixy: [picks up chocolate candy] No you didn't... This is hard! It's not squeezy!

04 December 2012

Linkage, Volume 191

Christmas Cards
mostly awkward, but number 13 is actually pretty cute...
via Pleated-Jeans

Modern Advent
14 Modern DIY Advent Calendars
via not martha

Read, Wear, Play, Share
simplifying Christmas gifts for children
method learned from her mom, at Homemaking 911
via Youthful Homemaker

12 Days (video link)
by men's a capella group Straight No Chaser

03 December 2012

Linkage, Volume 190

Unicorn Lair (video link)
Unicorn Lair (article)
North Korea claims that they have found an ancient unicorn lair
via The Presurfer

Steampunk Revolution (video link)
beautiful steampunk art and fashion in this music video by Abney Park
Honeybee  (video link)
though this one by Steam Powered Giraffe is still my favorite steampunk music
via EPBOT

Wall Spider (video link)
brass knuckles are a bit overkill... Mooommm!!!
via Buzzfeed

The Voca People (video link)
I don't even know where to begin describing this Israel-based a capella group

30 November 2012

Christmas Meme 2

Way back in 2008, I posted a Christmas Meme from Debbie at Finding Normal.
Today I dug out a "Getting to Know Your Friends" email from 2006 and updated it a bit.
Change my answers to your answers, and re-post on your blog or post in the comments!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate with marshmallows *and* whipped cream (no cinnamon!).

2. Does Santa wrap your presents or leave them under the tree?
Santa's presents are never wrapped - they're always in front of all the other presents

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
It all depends upon the theme of the tree - white is more elegant, and colored is more fun

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No way

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Ummm, well, I have a snowman pillow on the couch... does that count?
I always help put up Mom's Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving, but I don't do much decorating at my own house!


6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Mom's "breakfast before" casserole.

7. Favorite Christmas memory as a child?
Planting laughing heyena toys in Mom's Snow Village ;-)

8. When and how did you find the truth out about Santa?
I always knew that a "Santa" is anyone who gives a gift in secret. So although I always remember knowing the truth, I didn't want to admit it for fear of not getting any presents "from Santa"!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Mom gives us new jammies on Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Ummm, well, see #5 ;-)
But seriously, I like having several small trees with different ornament themes throughout the house.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it! (it's beautiful and fun to play in), but also Dread it! (because of the other drivers on the road). If it's going to be freezing cold, then it ought to snow because that makes it worth the cold. I love when it just sticks to the grass and is pretty, or when it snows so much it shuts everything down! I don't like when it snows just enough to ice the roads and be dangerous.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes, but not well - hurts my ankles, but it's fun with friends.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I get a new favorite gift each year!

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
The most important thing is the whole family just spending time *together*.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
All those little cookies that Grandma makes - puttin' on the Ritz, wedding cookies with lots of powdered sugar, jam thumbprints, lemon squares, etc...

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I like the whole day - Christmas Eve dinner and presents; Santa presents, more family presents, and breakfast; then Grandma's house, where there is yet more food and presents. But most of all is family time together.

17. What tops your tree?
Ummm, well, see #10 ;-)
I like something small at the top that goes with the tree's theme. I like a star better than an angel.

18. Which do you prefer - Giving or Receiving?
Giving is always more fun!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Any Christmas carol sung by an acapella choir

20. What is your favorite candy?
Marshmallow Fudge - plain and smooth, no chunks or nuts!

29 November 2012

Linkage, Volume 189

An Unexpected Briefing (video)
Air New Zealand introduced a Hobbit-inspired safety video
[aside: only 2 more weeks until I go to the midnight showing of The Hobbit, thus fulfilling one of the items on my Bucket List!!!]
via Miss Cellania

Reply to All
NYU students discovered they could Reply to All 40,000 other students
via Miss Cellania

WTF is sugru? (video link)
sugru is the new self-setting rubber for fixing, modifying and improving your stuff
via swissmiss

Wil Wheaton Is Awesome
your argument is invalid
via Miss Cellania

28 November 2012

Linkage, Volume 188

"I understand that scissors can beat paper, and I get how rock can beat scissors, but there's no way paper can beat rock. Paper is supposed to magically wrap around rock leaving it immobile? Why can't paper do this to scissors? Screw scissors, why can't paper do this to people? Why aren't sheets of college ruled notebook paper constantly suffocating students as they attempt to take notes in class? I'll tell you why, because paper can't beat anybody. A rock would tear it up in two seconds. When I play Rock Paper Scissors, I always choose Rock. Then when somebody claims to have beaten me with their Paper I can punch them in the face with my already clenched fist and say, 'Oh sorry, I thought Paper would protect you'."
-source unknown

Take Advantage
"Sit down, unplug, and read non-fiction. Do this daily. None of your peers are doing it. They’re playing video games and refreshing Facebook and Gmail chatting about nothing in particular. After a month you’ll be smarter than all of them."
via Vivente La Dolce Vita

You're Doing it Wrong (video link)
compilation video by Fail Hero
via Pleated-Jeans

Panda Surprise (video link)
a startled baby red panda gives us a few seconds of adorable comedy
via Miss Cellania

27 November 2012

Linkage, Volume 187 - Thanksgiving Leftovers

Dinner by HotCan
a full holiday dinner in a can - perfect for holiday power outages
via The Presurfer

Rachel's Thanksgiving Bingo
tailor the cards to your own traditions since not every family has a Rachel who wouldn't eat turkey...
via Grasping for Objectivity

Flavorwire's Thanksgiving Bingo
I'm thinking croutons would make good edible Bingo markers
via Pleated-Jeans

Black Friday Dollar Store
Improv Everywhere's latest mission was to camp out for Black Friday shopping at a random 99 cent store
via Improv Everywhere

26 November 2012

Recipe - Gaga's Cranberry Salad

I successfully made both kinds of mini-muffins for Thanksgiving! They turned out great! I used "white whole wheat" flour for both to balance out all the fat and sugar :-p

I also attempted to make this cranberry salad. I failed to read the recipe I was given and left in all the water! The salad failed to gel despite 2 packages of raspberry Jello... Here are more clear directions:

Gaga's Cranberry Salad

Ingredients:
1 pkg fresh cranberries (12 oz bag in the produce section)
3 cups water
3 oranges
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 pkgs (3 oz. each) raspberry gelatin
(I also added 1 honeycrisp apple, chopped)

Grind the cranberries in a blender with the water, until the cranberries are chopped up quite small. Drain off about half of the water.

Zest one orange. Remove and discard peel from all 3 oranges. Either chop the oranges into small pieces, or put the orange segments into the blender and pulse quickly to chop.

Mix watery cranberries, orange zest, chopped oranges, sugar, and raspberry gelatin in a bowl, and refrigerate for several hours.

20 November 2012

19 November 2012

Linkage, Volume 185

Party at the North Pole
I want to do this party! Or be invited to one ;)
via Enjoying the Small Things

Femininity
absolutely beautiful advice on how to maintain femininity despite disability
*also, an amazing outpouring of supportive responses
via TYWKIWDBI

Fletcher
Fletcher's Dad is an amazing parent
via Pleated-Jeans

Marijwhatnow?
"SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back?" "No."
via One Foot Tsunami

Polish a Poop (video)
Mythbusters proves that you can, in fact, polish a turd

16 November 2012

Linkage, Volume 184

11 FOOT 8 (videopalooza!)
home of the world's most popular can-opener bridge - with videos!
via TYWKIWDBI

Creamy Chicken & Noodles
I made this comforting and filling slow-cooker recipe last weekend
via Pintester

Human System Errors (video link)
we humans come pre-bundled with a lot of buggy software
via Pleated-Jeans

Churrleedin!
Give Me a Durr!
via George Lindsey

The Useless Web
take me to another useless website, Please
via swissmiss

15 November 2012

VTech Disappointment

Alternate title: How Not to Do Customer Service

My mom recently told me about a ridiculous phone conversation she had with VTech customer support about their InnoTab 2 Learning App Tablet.

Mom had purchased the tablet for my nephew for his birthday, and she called VTech about a month later to report a faulty USB port on the device. After a lengthy and exhausting conversation, my mom was told that returning the product to the company would have meant explaining to a 3-year-old that he couldn't have his new toy for a month! A toy that he couldn't have understood was broken. Poor kid would have thought he was in big trouble! She decided to try swapping the tablet in the store where she bought it instead, but had to wait for their depleted stock to be replenished.

(And to add insult to injury, why on earth would they make a product that is rated for 3-year-olds to include a stylus that is not attached?! Don't they know preschoolers lose stuff like that?)

After the absurd phone call, my mom sent an email to VTech to let them know about her bad experience. I will let her emails (personal information redacted) tell you the rest of the story. The text is below each screenshot. Personal contact information has been redacted for privacy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: [my mom, email address redacted]
To: "vtechkids@vtechkids.com"
Date: 11/07/2012 01:28 PM
Subject: Innotab2

[my mom's P.O. Box, address redacted]

Vtech Electronics North America LLC

I have 7 children (by birth, foster, & adoption) and 1 grandson. I have purchased SEVERAL Vtech products over the years.  In September, I bought my grandson the Innotab2 for his 3rd birthday. BIG HIT!  He loves it!  

Right now, though, I regret buying it.
1. Power source... cord or batteries (that last about 2 days). Why, oh why didn't you use and internal rechargeable battery, and have a recharge station that it sits in when not being played with???
2. The USB port on his is loose. I had to hold it at just the right angle to install apps, so I called the tech center. Took quite some time to get her to understand the problem. She kept wanting to blame the cord.  But she finally understood and said she'd send me a shipping label to return it, and after vtech receives the broken tablet, then they'll sent me a replacement - which will take about 3 weeks. SERIOUSLY???  AFTER VTECH RECEIVES IT, THEN 3 MORE WEEKS???  I had the same problem with my Kindle Fire last year... they sent me the new one first, then I returned the broken one.  My Kuerig stopped working... they sent me a new one, then I returned the piece requested from the broken one.  YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE IS EXTREMELY LACKING!  Especially in regard to a CHILD'S toy... I have to explain to him that he can't have it for a month???!!!

Very disappointed.  This will absolutely affect my future purchases. I'll be avoiding Vtech products.

Sincerely,
[name redacted]

From: "VTK_Response@vtechkids.com"
To: [my mom]
Sent: Thursday, November 8, 2012 11:52 AM
Subject: Re: Innotab2


Please provide an alternate address as we do not ship to PO boxes or military addresses
Best regards,

Consumer Services
VTech Electronics NA, LLC

From: [my mom]
To: "VTK_Response@vtechkids.com"
Date: 11/08/2012 12:46 PM
Subject: Re: Innotab2


[my mom's physical address redacted]

From: "VTK_Response@vtechkids.com"
To: [my mom]
Sent: Friday, November 9, 2012 1:29 PM
Subject: Re: Innotab2


Thank you for your inquiry.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  A UPS return label has been issued to you via email in order to return the wrong or defective unit.  Please check your emails' in-box and spam folders for the label as you should receive it within 48 hrs. Once we receive the unit, we will sent out a replacement.   Below is is the tracking information:
1Z2AW0859094667314
Best regards,

 Consumer Services
 VTech Electronics NA, LLC

From: [my mom]
To: "VTK_Response@vtechkids.com"
Date: 11/09/2012 02:06 PM
Subject: Re: Innotab2


DID YOU READ MY MESSAGE AT ALL?????

From: "VTK_Response@vtechkids.com"
To: [my mom]
Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 9:16 AM
Subject: Re: Innotab2

Our apologies for the confusion, we did issue the label for you to return the defective products.
Best regards,

  Consumer Services
  VTech Electronics NA, LLC

From: [my mom]
To: "VTK_Response@vtechkids.com"
Date: 11/12/2012 09:27 AM
Subject: Re: Innotab2

You have LOST my business.

From: "VTK_Response@vtechkids.com"
To: [my mom]
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:08 AM
Subject: Re: Innotab2

Are you still interested in returning the product?
Best regards,

   Consumer Services
   VTech Electronics NA, LLC

09 November 2012

Linkage, Volume 183

Epic Bath (video link)
long-haired Persian cat Reginald gets an epic bath and blow dry
via Pleated-Jeans

Interpreter Animation
how Sign Language interpreters use facial expressions and animations to convey meaning beyond the specific words
via Neatorama

BUYRAL - Professional Clicking (video link)
helping people going viraler and viraler
via Neatorama

Cobb Salad in a Crouton Cone
these would make great party finger foods
(I'm also wondering if you could make a crouton cone out of a slice of bread...)
via Neatorama

The iPad Huge (video link)
we took something that fit into your hand and made it fit into your whole arm
via The Presurfer

07 November 2012

Sandy Relief

Now that the election drama is over, let's turn our attention back to the New England coast and help those who are still trying to clean up and get back on track.

* The items on this Amazon Wish List go directly to Staten Island Sandy Relief.

* The items on this Amazon Wish List go directly to Moms New Jersey Sandy Relief.

Items purchased from these lists can be shipped directly to those relief groups who badly need these supplies.

via Enjoying the Small Things

06 November 2012

Recipe - Taco Soup

Taco Soup
adapted from this tutorial by Grasping for Objectivity 

This is a classic "dump" recipe - dump a bit of this and a bit of that into a pot...

Ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 yellow onion (I used 2 very small ones)
1 green bell pepper
1 can (8 oz.) salsa verde
1 can (14-18 oz.) vegetable soup, no meat
1 can (14-16 oz.) tomato soup (I used 1 can {6 oz.} tomato paste plus 1-1/2 cups water)
2 cans (10 oz. each) Ro*Tel tomatoes with green chiles
1 can (14-16 oz.) corn, drained
1 can (14-16 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 envelope (1 oz.) taco seasoning
1 envelope (1 oz.) powdered ranch dressing mix
1 cup water

Garnishes:
Shredded cheese (I used Cheddar)
Sour cream
Tortilla chips or Fritos

Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain off the fat.

Chop the onion and bell pepper.

Dump all of the ingredients into a large pot or slow cooker. Simmer on low or medium-low at least 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft (I cooked on low for about 4 hours)

"Garnish with Cheese and Sour Cream, just like every meal should be treated." Crumble chips on top or use them for scooping.

Election Day

How to Vote in 12 Easy Steps
How to Vote in 12 Easy Steps
How to Vote in 12 Easy Steps
via Pleated-Jeans

03 November 2012

Recipe - Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from Vicki E.'s recipe on Tasty Kitchen

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 15
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
2 whole ripe bananas, mashed until creamy
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (or 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter plus 1/4 cup chopped peanuts)
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups quick oats (uncooked)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, mix mashed banana and peanut butter until completely combined. Then mix in applesauce, protein powder, and vanilla until completely combined.

Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips until oats are all moistened. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and flatten each cookie into circles or ovals about 1/3" thick. These cookies don't spread or rise.

Bake breakfast cookies for 30 minutes. Move cookies to cooking rack. When cookies are completely cool, store in a covered container.

02 November 2012

Recipes - Thanksgiving Mini-Muffins

I plan to bring two kinds of mini-muffins for Thanksgiving this year - Pumpkin Poppers and Pecan Pie Muffins!

I saw the recipe for Pumpkin Poppers on the website The Domestication Project. They are described as tasting like pumpkin doughnut holes! The original recipe instructs you to roll each one in butter and cinnamon-sugar after they are cooked, but I think I will go with the easier method of using that mixture for a topping instead of a coating.  
(nerd note: it is really interesting to see the little differences in each incarnation of the recipe if you go to this recipe's source link, and then that recipe's source link, and so on back to the first person who combined two recipes to make this one - for example, first using Crisco and buttermilk, then vegetable oil and low-fat milk, to finally canola oil and whole milk... And I'll change it again when I use non-dairy almond milk!)

A co-worker brought Pecan Pie Mini-Muffins to the office earlier this week, and I was immediately hooked. They are like pralines, but with egg and flour added to make them into muffins! I knew immediately that my family would absolutely love them. I used "white whole wheat" flour for both recipes. They both turned out great!

Now for the recipes.

Pumpkin Poppers
adapted from The Domestication Project
originally from StrawBerry CAKE
Makes: 18-24 mini-muffins

Ingredients:
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat flour optional)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (no sugar or spices added)
1/2 cup milk
Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F, place paper liners in 2 mini-muffin tins (optional), and spray tins with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a bowl and whisk until combine.

In another bowl, mix oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk.  Pour in flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fill mini muffin tins until almost full. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on the tops of the muffins. Bake 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Pecan Pie Muffins
Makes 30-36 mini-muffins

Ingredients:
2/3 cup (11 Tbs.) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat flour optional)
2 cups chopped pecans
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F and place paper liners in 3 mini-muffin tins.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave, about 40 seconds, and let cool slightly. Combine brown sugar, flour, and pecans in another bowl. Mix eggs with melted butter. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture until moistened.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, and bake 15-20 minutes for full-size muffins (10-12 minutes for mini-muffins). Start checking for doneness at 15 minutes (8 minutes for mini). You can use the toothpick test - you want "sticky" but not "gooey" - don't bake past "sticky" or you'll get muffin rocks! Cool on wire racks.

01 November 2012

Linkage, Volume 181

DEER XING (video link sorta; just audio)
sounds like we need to petition to get Deer Crossing signs moved

Crazy Logistics
People Trying to Do Things: Strength and Imagination, Part 13
via Neatorama

Sharks and Sandy
The Atlantic sorts out the real Hurricane Sandy photos from the fakes
via Neatorama

The BoardroomImprov Everywhere's latest prank involved staging a boardroom meeting in a Staples retail store
via Improv Everywhere

31 October 2012

Lady Thor - the costume

So here is what I came up with for my Lady Thor costume! Black boots, skirt, and shirt, gray leggings, a licensed Thor hammer prop, and my semi-homemade cape.

For the cape, I ordered an inexpensive red taffeta cape. It had a tall foam collar that I folded under to make the cape stand up on my shoulders a bit. I made backpack-style straps out of 1-inch black nylon webbing - two circles 18 inches each (overlap by 1 inch and sew a box) to go around my arms, connected by a 12 inch piece of webbing in the back. I sewed the top corners of the cape to the fronts of the circles. Then it got tricky. I still needed silver medallions. My first thought was bathtub overflow drain face plates, but they are heavy and cost at least $10 each in the store. On the other side of the bathroom plumbing aisle were these much lighter pipe fittings: Shallow Flange for just $1.92 each! Perfect! I picked up some shiny silver buttons from a Hancock Fabric store to sew onto the cape in the middle of the flanges to make shoulder medallions! The backpack straps made it easy to take the cape off and on, so I wouldn't have to wear it the whole time (like while driving!).

There were a lot of crafty costumes at the The Avengers party! My two favorites were a Junior Hulk and a Miss Captain America with a shield she had crafted from a Frisbee!

30 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 180

Puppet Albert Einstein
Extremely Silly Photos of Extremely Serious Historical Figures
via Miss Cellania

Nasty NECCO
Everyone's least favorite Halloween candy has been making us miserable since 1847
via Buzzfeed

Silly Snowman
silly snowman went to town, walking backwards, upside-down
(quote altered from the book Silly Sally)
via TYWKIWDBI

SuperMan Big Alliance
21 Terrible Knock-Off Action Figures - They might not be officially licensed toys, but they're probably a lot cheaper!
via Pleated-Jeans

29 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 179: Hexaflexagon

Hexaflexagon
Vi Hart illustrates the joy of the hexaflexagon! 

Hexaflexagon 2
She does it again!

Hexaflexagon Safety Guide
Be careful with those addictive hexaflexagons...

Hexaflexamexagon
Vi steps it up a notch with Mex Flex!
via Miss Cellania

26 October 2012

Bucket List

“Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone.” -Neale Donald Walsch

Inspired by The Domestication Project, I decided to write a bucket list. As the Domesticated Gal said, most 29-year-olds write a list of things to do before they're 30, but like her, I am realistic. These are things I want to do before I die, presented in no particular order:

-Plant a vegetable garden, in the ground, and eat an entire meal from its harvest.
-Harvest enough of one thing to can something, even if it's just freezer jam.
-Visit a castle in Ireland. And in England.
-Parachute tandem with a US military skydiver (like the Golden Knights).
-Eat my way across Italy.
-Be a Bridesmaid for a friend. (I have been in family weddings)
-Be a Maid of Honor.
-Be a Bride. (Maybe my Groom will take me on that Italy trip!)
-Be a Mother.
-Ride in a limo.
-Pay off all my debt (car-done!, student loan next, then house mortgage).
-Learn a martial art.
-Celebrate hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in Japan.
-Participate in an Improv Everywhere event in New York City (and see the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square at dusk, and a Broadway show while I'm there...).
-Go on another cruise, not during hurricane season weather.
-Watch sea turtles hatch.
-Visit Disneyland in California.
-See Club 33. (this is the item on my list that I am least likely to be able to do)
-Tour backstage at Disneyland or Disney World.
-Take a helicopter tour of a major city like NYC.
-Experience the Grand Canyon.
-Zip line through a rainforest canopy.
-Live in my dream house.
-Eat caviar.
-Attend the midnight screening of a movie on the day it opens (done-saw The Hobbit in IMAX at midnight on opening day!).
-Get a henna tattoo.
-Attend a murder mystery dinner.
-Watch all of the James Bond movies.
-Take a fitness class.
-Re-learn how to knit.
-Swing dance more (done-going to weekly parties at I've Got Rhythm!).
-Hand-make all Christmas gifts one year.
-Play paintball.
-Plant a geocache.
-Get paid to cook.

25 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 178

Mythbusters Greatest Hits (video link)
supercut of fantastic Mythbusters destruction
via Neatorama

Italian Pot Roast
might have to make this roast when it gets cool, like this weekend
one-page printable
via The Pioneer Woman

Gangnam Style Halloween (video link)
you had to know it would happen - eagerly awaiting the Christmas version
via Miss Cellania

Fancy Dress
20 Incredibly Bizarre Vintage Halloween Costumes
via The Hairpin

Not a Cat Person (video link)
this baby is definitely a dog person
via Neatorama

24 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 177

Geek Family Costumes
20 Amazing and Geeky Matching Parent/Child Halloween Costumes
via Neatorama

Non-Exploding Soda Can
how to open a shaken soda can without an explosion
via TYWKIWDBI

Behind the Bowling Alley
picture gallery of what happens behind the back wall of a bowling alley
via TYWKIWDBI

Free Online Certificate Courses from Great Universities
via swissmiss

23 October 2012

22 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 175

Catching Up With 9 Advertising Icons
where the kids are now
via Miss Cellania

20 Smile-Inducing Halloween Costumes for Kids
the pint-size Thor caught my eye, but my favorite is the baby Wilson!
via Pleated-Jeans

19 Creative Costumes For Babies Who Are Too Young To Walk
via Miss Cellania

On Being Elmo (video link)
Juju Chang interviews Kevin Clash about his documentary "Being Elmo" (free on Netflix and iTunes)
via swissmiss

19 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 174

food and crafts edition of Linkage!

Surprise Cookies
I can see these candy-filled cookies working for any holiday

Bird & Owl Canvas Art
might make these for a certain honorary niece of mine
via Pinstrosity

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
made these last fall and wow, yum

Simple (Stovetop) Macaroni and Cheese
Elle cooks the macaroni right in the milk for extra creaminess

18 October 2012

Lady Thor

Lady Thor by MischievousMartian
Lady Thor by MischievousMartian
 
I am going to a The Avengers movie party as Lady Thor. Marvel Comics already has a Thor Girl, but that isn't the look I am going for. I want to look more like these lovely ladies at DragonCon 2012 who were inspired by KelseyMichele on deviantArt.
MischievousMartian also createde a wonderful Lady Thor inspiration piece on deviantART (pictured here).
I have pretty much all of the costume pieces figured out except for the medallions that secure the cape at the shoulders. I figure I wil wander around Hobby Lobby until I find something that works... Do you have any suggestions for 1-3 inch silver medallions?




Recipe: Candy Corn Cookie Crunch (updated)


Candy Corn Cookie Crunch by polymathamy
Candy Corn Cookie Crunch by polymathamy
I made the Candy Corn Cookie Crunch last night and brought it to work today! I used mini Ritz crackers instead of pretzels, but the almond bark didn't stick wellto the flat crackers. I also used mixed candy corn - regular and "chocolate" - as well as regular Oreos. Everyone loved it and was definitely buzzing on all the sugar!

The second time I made it, I used a much better combination of pretzel sticks and caramel candy corn. It was all eaten before I could take a picture! One of my co-workers dubbed it C4, an explosion of flavor!

Here is my adapted version:

Candy Corn Cookie Crunch
adapted from Scrambled Hen Fruit

Ingredients
2 heaping cups broken pretzel sticks (don't use mini Ritz crackers like I used in the picture - the candy coating just wouldn't stick to them)
24 Oreos, cut into quarters (freeze slightly before cutting to firm up the cream centers)
1 cup peanuts
2 cups candy corn, divided (caramel candy corn is even better than regular)
24 oz (1.5 pounds) almond bark or vanilla candy coating or white chocolate
3/4 cup Peanut M&Ms (fall colors)
1/2 cup Reese's Pieces
Sprinkles

Cover 2 cookie sheets with waxed paper. Spread the crackers or pretzels, broken cookies, peanuts, and half of the candy corn on the 2 prepared cookie sheets (half of each ingredient on each cookie sheet). Melt the candy coating until smooth, according to package directions.

Drizzle the melted candy coating over the cookie mixture. Before it sets, sprinkle on the remaining candy corn, M&Ms, Reeses Pieces, and sprinkles. Let the tray chill on the counter for an hour or until set (you may place the tray into the refrigerator to speed this process if needed). Break into pieces and enjoy!

17 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 173

Tall Man (video link)
even Mister Rogers couldn't stop giggling during the middle verse of 'Where Is Thumbkin?'
via TheBloggess

Misery by Kyle Takuru
no access to technology = write a poem and pass out on the floor
via swissmiss

Lost Peanuts
10 Peanuts Characters You’ve Probably Forgotten
via swissmiss

Big Words
an app designed to grab attention and quickly make a statement
via swissmiss

16 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 172

Amy at Costco (video link)
Ellen sends her writer Amy to Costco to talk to people in song lyrics
via Pleated-Jeans

So Close
When You Try Your Best, But You Don't Succeed
via Pleated-Jeans

Partysaurus Rex (video link)
new Pixar short
via Pleated-Jeans

Gangnam Busters (video link)
PSY vs Ghostbusters mashup

15 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 171

video stories today...

We Are Hungry
The USDA's Solution to Students' Healthy Lunch Complaints
School Lunch Showdown
comparison of fast food meals to new "healthy" school lunches
via Fed Up with Lunch

Facebook's First Ad (video link)
chairs are like Facebook? Huh?
this lousy ad was dissected by Ben Kay
via One Foot Tsunami

Manual Lathe
craftsman Robin Wood revived traditional wooden bowl making in Britain
via Neatorama

12 October 2012

Linkage, Volume 170

Taco Soup
blogging so I'll remember to make it
via Grasping for Objectivity

Candy Corn Cookie Crunch
I also want to make this and take it to work, so I can sit back and watch everyone's sugar high
via Pintester

Video Game Marching Band (video link)
The Ohio State University Marching Band - TBDBITL Halftime 10-6-12 Video games Nebraska.
It's a little slow in the middle, but don't miss the running horse at 6 minutes!
via Epbot on Facebook

Big Bird
new Obama ad uses Big Bird to attack Romney - Sesame Workshop asked for it to be removed
via Yahoo! News

by Yoda
The Force is The Force, Of Course, Of Course
via Neatorama

08 October 2012

Pixyisms IV

Pixy: Are these hose or just socks?
Nana: They're pantyhose.
Pixy: You can't say that to boys - "panty"hose!
Me: You can say "tights" :)

Pixy: Is "Oh Snap" a bad word?
Nana: No, "Oh Snap" is just fine.

[Holding up a coaster]
Gummy bear: What's this for? Throwing?

[Eating baked potato]
Pixy: I need some butter.
[Nana gives her a dollop]
Nana: Spread the butter on your potato.
[Eats the whole dollop at once]
Pixy: I need more butter.

[Gummy Bear gave me a yellow crayon]
Gummy Bear: I need that yellow crayon!
Me: Well, then you had better ask for it.
[Thinks a minute]
Gummy Bear: I'll trade you a blue one...
[Trying not to laugh]
Me: You need to *ask*!
Gummy Bear: But I need it! Mommy, what do I say?
Gummy Bear's mom: Say, 'May I please...?'
Gummy Bear: May I please have the yellow crayon?

[Time-out]
Nana: Go sit on the steps.
Pixy: I am angry at you right now.
Nana: That's ok. I'm not very happy with you either.

27 September 2012

Linkage, Volume 169

Every Infomercial Ever (video link)
No matter what product they are selling, infomercials are all the same. Here's the template they all use.
via Pleated-Jeans

Awesome Teachers
15 Awesome Teachers You Wish You Had
via Pleated-Jeans

Safe Internet Banking (video link)
clairvoyant reveals the magical technology behind his magical gift and urges everyone to be vigilant
via The Presurfer

White House Cook Book
10 Questionable Household Tips from the 19th-Century White House Staff
via The Presurfer

Honest Trailer for The Avengers (video link)
"...and Captain America, no one's favorite character, who just kinda has to be there!"
via Miss Cellania

25 September 2012

Linkage, Volume 168

All video linkage today!

Cake Wrecks: Be Our Guest (video link)
wrecky cake music video by John of Cake Wrecks and reader Simon S.
via Cake Wrecks

GPS-chipped Candy (video link)
don't discard your Nestlé candy wrappers in the UK
via TYWKIWDBI

Charming Coppélia (video link)
Clara Bergs, a 6-year-old with DiGeorge Syndrome and Autism, fully memorized the ballet Coppélia. She even improvises in the absence of a partner. So charming!
via TYWKIWDBI

Mario Unipiper (video link)
no, I don't know why, other than "because he can" - if you could, wouldn't you?
via Miss Cellania

iPhone Taller (video link)
The iPhone 5 (Parody) Ad: A Taller Challenge

Marching Gangnam Style (video link)
Ohio University Marching 110 nails it
via Miss Cellania

21 September 2012

Linkage, Volume 167

Cellular Phone Behemoth (video link)
the most powerful transportable cellular phone system!
via Pleated-Jeans

One Sock Missing
If They Made Movies About Real Problems
via Pleated-Jeans

10 Celebrities Who Spied on the Side
for example, Julia Child developed "a shark repellant that would protect underwater explosives from being set off by curious underwater creatures" years before she took up cooking in Paris
via The Presurfer

Dull News in Local Newspapers
stories from Britain just as dull as your own hometown stories
via Mental Floss

19 September 2012

Linkage, Volume 166

Sh** Apple Fanatics Say, Part 1 (video link)
Sh** Apple Fanatics Say, Part 2 (video link)
via swissmiss

Meme Fundraiser
school fundraising with a great meme photoset
via pleated-jeans

Dog Attacks Vader (video link)
double whammy for Lord Vader - first his light saber deploys the wrong way, then he is attacked by a playful pup
via Miss Cellania

Single Ladies Devastation (video link)
toddler is devastated to find out Beyonce isn't singing directly to him
via Neatobambino

14 September 2012

Pixyisms III

Pixy: Where do you go to school?
Me: I went to this school, but I finished - I graduated. Then I went to another school, college, and I graduated from that school too.
Pixy: Wow! TWO schools! You're growing up!

Pixy: I weighed like 4 pounds. Or 30 pounds.

Pixy: Look! He's sweating! Are you sweating?

Pixy: Is that phone old?
Me: It's about two years old.
Pixy: (wide-eyed) That's a LOT.

Pixy: There's 2 TVs! One you put real CDs in to play a game, and one you watch shows.

Pixy: If you kiss somebody, like your momma, that would be lovely.

Cookie: I told my friends about what we were going to do tomorrow, because they all wanted me to come over.
Me: Did you tell them you were going to go do something with your very cool sister?
Cookie: Nooo! These *children* get very angry if you tell them someone is cooler than them...

07 September 2012

Linkage, Volume 165

Highest Cities
genius Rick Rosner argues that he was improperly eliminated on _Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?_
via Miss Cellania

Packaging Problems (video link)
Your Food Packaging Is Bad
via pleated-jeans

Autopsy Facts
20 Things You Didn't Know About Autopsies
via The Presurfer

Nissan Note
scroll down and keep scrolling
via The Presurfer

2 Hamsters 1 Wheel (video link)
smile!
via Miss Cellania

06 September 2012

School Lunch Memories

Wendy Copley of Wendolonia posted on Facebook , "I'm curious -- what was your school lunch like when you were a kid? Did you bring your lunch? Eat school lunch? What were your favorite things to eat? How did you bring lunch to school?"

I went to half-day Kindergarten in the mornings, so I ate lunch at my babysitter's house. I am sure my Aunt Pat fed us a variety of good food, but I remember my favorite thing was when she would slice up hot dogs and microwave them, and the pieces would stick together where they were touching. I have strange memories... I do remember my Kindergarten teacher making green scrambled eggs in an electric skillet one day in honor of Dr. Seuss!

In first through third grades, I had standard public school lunch fare served on divided trays. I remember lots of canned corn and peas, instant mashed potatoes dished out with ice cream scoops, and big flat rectangles of "pizza." Yes, that "pizza" deserves the air quotes - it had a distinctive sickly-sweet sauce on top of a crust that may as well have been sheets of soggy cardboard. I brought my lunch in a lunch bag or box - usually a sandwich and more canned corn or peas (or both mixed together - my odd favorite!) or green beans, and a Thermos of milk (this exact Thermos).

I transferred to a very small private school in fourth grade, where I attended through high school. They made deals with five local fast food restaurants to buy our school lunches. One day was two KFC Chicken Littles sandwiches (back when they were flat, processed chicken patties on tiny bread rolls with a dab of mayo) and mashed potatoes with gravy; one day was Subway sandwiches (ham or turkey, with cheese) and plain Lays potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie; one day was Long John Silver's fried fish or chicken with fries and hush puppies; one day was McDonald's Happy Meals; and Friday was Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut. I liked these options, but I also brought my lunch sometimes, mostly because of my budget.

When I was in seventh grade, our school had bought a new building with a kitchen, and one of the moms was hired to cook our lunches. What an upgrade! We had real homemade meals like meatloaf, barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, chili, spaghetti, turkey and dressing, baked potato bar, nacho bar,.... There were lots of vegetables, both fresh and cooked. Dessert and fruit alternated days. In high school, we had the option of a salad bar every day.

The school has since contracted with the local public school system to have meals brought in. So now the students are getting the standard public school fare, delivered in pans every day from the central kitchen by a lunch lady. One good thing about that is the ability to offer free and reduced lunches to those who need them. I have gone to eat with my little sister a few times, and it is terrible. Dry, bland, overly processed meats with potatoes and ketchup as vegetables. Now she reports that they are trying to make things healthier, but how exactly is a breaded chicken patty on a bun any healthier than the (most likely beef-and-soy) hamburger on a bun that it replaced? Until they get a handle on healthy choices that also taste good, it is not going to help anyone, and it gives the children another reason to hate healthy food!

03 September 2012

Pixyisms II

Pixy, to Cookie: Will you play Justin Beaver?

Nana: Do you know where we're going?
Pixy: Are we goin' women?
[women = (s)'wimmin'(g) ]

Pixy, to me: You are really tall! How old are you? How much are you weigh?

Nana: Here's your swimsuit.
Pixy: Where's my rope?
[rope = robe/coverup]

Pixy, to Nana: Are you going swimmin'? Get your swimmie on!

Doc: Get your dirty feet off me!
Pixy: (Takes shoe off, offended) Smell my feet! They're clean!

Pixy: It's butter! I'm seriously, it's butter!

[Doc was rattling the ice in his glass]
Pixy: That's loud, Doc! Now turn it off!

[Pixy points to salt while eating ice cream]
Pixy: If you put this on here, it would be nasty. Nasty.

[After Nana sweetened and creamed her coffee]
Pixy: Now drink it! Is it yum? Really?!

Pixy, to me: Are you taking your iPad?
Me: No, I don't want it to get rained on.
Pixy: I want my Nintendo DS to get rained on, so it will be clean...
All: Noooo!!

How old is the mountain? Three feet tall?

Nana: Change into these long pants.
Pixy: But I don't want to...
Nana: But I told you to.
Pixy, to me: Why is she always tellin' me what to do?
Me: Because she's the mom, so it's her job to tell you what to do!

Nana: Sit criss-cross so you won't kick the man in front of you.
Pixy: But it's a girl!
[It was a boy with full, curly hair. Pixy is very focused on gender identity and often asks (in hearing distance) whether someone is a boy or girl...]

Cookie: Will you please turn the volume of the air down a little bit?

30 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 164

Last Slice
Pizza Hut's "Do I Get the Last Slice?" flowchart
via Serious Eats

Women in the Workplace (video link)
problems caused by all these women trying to hold down real jobs!
via Miss Cellania

Tall Man
remember there are four other fingers in the song "Where Is Thumbkin?"
via grass stains

Gag Boxes
How Your Grandpa Got His LOLs
via Neatorama

Destiny Fart
The Fart that (Almost) Altered My Destiny
via Sweet Deals 4 Moms on Facebook

27 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 163

Feel Inside and Stuff Like That (video link)
Flight of the Conchords collaborated with kids to raise awareness for CureKids.org.nz
via Pleated-Jeans

Happy Mail
you can mail anything under 13 ounces with the Happy Mail How-To!
via not martha

Dangerous Ads
What Were We Thinking? The Top 10 Most Dangerous Ads
via The Presurfer
Basketball Class (video link)

If Kids Wrote Movie Scripts
"That's why I was running for so long an hot, so I have sweaty. I'm serious!"
All of the BoredShortsTV episodes are great!! Watch them all!!
via Pleated-Jeans

24 August 2012

Recipe: Amy's Berry Crumble

So this isn't the most appealing food photo I've ever taken, but I had to get in there before it was all gone! I baked this cobbler with frozen blackberries and blueberries this morning and brought it to work. It is a great recipe for breakfast or dessert!

I adapted this Berry Crumble recipe from The Fitnessista

Amy's Berry Crumble
Serves 12 | Difficulty: Easy
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients
Cooking spray or oil
6-8 cups berries, fresh or frozen (8 cups = 2 quarts; if using frozen, use two bags, 12-16 oz. each)
[optional: 1-2 Tbs. cornstarch if using frozen berries]
2 cups oats (old-fashioned, quick oats, steel cut, whatever you have is fine)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (white sugar, brown sugar, or a combination; or the equivalent artificial sweetener)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter

Instructions
Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly oil a 9"x13" baking dish with cooking spray.

If using frozen berries, toss berries with cornstarch so that the juices will thicken as it bakes.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (from oats to nutmeg). Cut butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or knife until mixture resembles small crumbs.

Press half of the oat mixture into the baking dish, top with berries, and sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top.

Bake at 375° F for 30 minutes (fresh berries) or 45 minutes (frozen berries), until the oats are toasted and the berries are bubbling around the edges.

22 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 162

Strange Mascots
10 College Mascots That Are Really Strange and How They Came To Be
via The Presurfer

School Supplies
Shopping for school supplies should really be called the “Annual State-Sanctioned Snipe Hunt.”
via {NiceGirlNotes}

Jesus Saves
not sure that's what the phrase implies
via This Is Why I'm Broke

Banana Slicer
great reviews, like "Banana slicer...thanks to you, I see greatness on the horizon."
via Neatorama

Hidden Playrooms
blogger Andrea of Happy Chaos converted unused spaces in an older house into hidden playrooms for their children
(side note: great idea to set up a "pre incident plan" with the local firefighters so they know about these nooks where children might be hiding or stuck)
via Miss Cellania

20 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 161

All-video linkage today!

The LEGO Story (video link)
animated film celebrating LEGO's 80th birthday
via The Presurfer

How to walk your human (video link)
"Step 4: Once they're comfortable, bring them to a job. Humans need exercise to thrive!"
via Etiquette Hell

First World Problems Rap (video link)
"My fridge doesn't have a touch screen: first world issue/
Killed a spider with  a dollar 'cause I didn't have a tissue."
via Serious Eats

How to Eat a Watermelon (video link)
expert in everything Tom Willett gives an enlightening beginner tutorial
via Miss Cellania

16 August 2012

Recipe: Zucchini Corn Fritters

Shamelessly copied from Serious Eats!
I have made these several times each year since the recipe was published in 2009. These fritters make me very happy in late summer! They are crisp on the outside and soft & custardy on the inside.
My variations: I leave out the cilantro and usually use just one kind of onion, I drain them on a wire rack over a baking sheet, and I sprinkle with salt while they are still hot from the oil. I may try baking them in greased muffin tins instead of frying this year! (update: fritters just aren't fritters without having been frittered. I tried baking them, but the result was disappointing.)

Zucchini and Corn Fritters
by Carolyn Cope

Ingredients:
    4 cups shredded zucchini
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 eggs
    2 ears corn
    1 small onion, diced small
    3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
    1/4 cup cilantro, minced
    3/4 cup flour
    A few good grinds of black pepper
    Canola, grapeseed or other neutral oil, for pan-frying
    Sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving

Procedures:
    1    Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or with the shredding disc of a food processor. Place the shredded zucchini in a colander in the sink or over a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine. Let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

    2    Crack the eggs into a large bowl and scramble lightly. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and add the kernels to the bowl along with the diced onion, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, flour and pepper.

    3    Pick up the shredded zucchini in small handfuls and squeeze out and discard as much liquid as you can. Add the zucchini to the bowl. Mix well to combine.

    4    Pour the oil into a large frying pan to a depth of about 1/4-inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop large, heaping spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the pan to form disc-shaped fritters. Cook in batches without crowding (about 3 or 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan) until golden brown on the underside (about 2 minutes) and then flip and cook until golden brown on the second side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Add a bit more oil between batches if necessary.

    5    Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. The fritters should be crisp on the outside and slightly custardy on the inside.

14 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 160

Having It All
What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All'
via swissmiss

Somebodies (video link)
Gotye compiled a remix of remixes
via Neatorama

Placebo: Max Strength
harness the power of the mind!
Nocebo
negative placebo power!
via spellingmistakes on Etsy

guy falling off a treadmill (video link)
title says it all
via {NiceGirlNotes}

11 August 2012

Car Seat Cover

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting my brand new nephew! I got crafty last month and sewed a special gift to celebrate his birth into our family. I followed this tutorial from Make it Do to make him a car seat cover.

He used it today for his fist doctor visit, to keep his delicate skin out of the sun outside and to keep the germs and people out at the doctor's office!

The nurse practitioner said I should sell these car seat covers because there would be high demand! I don't have time for that, but it was quite a compliment :)

10 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 159

No Girls Allowed
redditor requested a pillow fort and vanilla Coke at a Fairmont Hotel
via Neatorama

Famous Last Words (video link)
comedians Rhett & Link die many deaths
via Neatorama

Neon Shoes
the bright green shoes worn by track and field Olympians are sponsored by Nike
via The Presurfer

Detroit's Dumbest Criminal
counterfeiter caught (on tape!) selling to famous Detroit pawn shop of 'Hardcore Pawn'
via Neatorama

Impeccable Logic
"Well, the fridge broke, so I had to eat everything."
via Miss Cellania

07 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 158

Mystique
"Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Team USA's Gymnastic Leotards
via Buzzfeed

Six Thinking Hats
"how Speedo created the new record-breaking swimsuit"
via Neatorama

Magic Arms (video link)
how duPont Hospital uses a 3D printer to help a little girl without the strength to lift her arms
via Neatorama

Security Cameras (video link)
cameras catch all kinds of good, silly, and kind acts too
via Etiquette Hell

06 August 2012

Budget Allowance

When I was small, my mom would put a dollar's worth of nickels in a dish on a high shelf in my bedroom each week. There were certain chores that I was expected to do every day, like make my bed and put my clothes away. Whenever I would not do one of those chores, she would take away a nickel. At the end of the week, I got the amount that was left as my allowance, and the dish would be replenished with nickels to equal one dollar again.

That system worked well, but it was based on punishment. I did not get money as a reward for work, since I was expected to contribute to the household chores, but rather money was removed for disobedience.

When I was in fifth grade, my mom changed her tactic. I was still expected to do household chores, which had increased by then to include things like laundry and dishes and cleaning, but punishment would not be related to money. She told me that she would give me $40 each week, but I was to keep a strict budget. She glued envelopes to a poster to hang in my closet. Each envelope had a designation and an amount. I believe the breakdown was:

Category / Percentage / Amount
Tithe / 10.0% / $4.00
Savings / 10.0% / $4.00
Vacation / 10.0% / $4.00
Miscellaneous / 20.0% / $8.00
School Lunch / 22.5% / $9.00
Clothing / 20.0% / $8.00
Gifts / 7.5% / $3.00

[Total / 100.0% / $40.00]

*Tithe: I gave 10% each week first to God. Whether to my local church, a visiting missionary, or a Christian charity, I was giving the first 10% to God to thank Him and acknowledge that every blessing I have is from Him.

*Savings: 10% of my allowance went into a savings account in my name at the bank. This savings account is how I was able to afford a down payment on my first house 10 years later!

*Vacation: I saved 10% of my allowance in cash to take with me on our twice-yearly trips to see family in central Missouri and any other vacations that we took. This cash covered any expenses that come with vacation - souvenirs, car trip entertainment, and any other special purchases.

*Miscellaneous: This was my personal spending. I used this to buy things for myself or to go on outings with friends, like to buy a movie ticket or ice cream.

*School Lunch: Lunch at my school was $2, and my mom charged me $1 to take my lunch. Given $9 each week for this category, I had to take my lunch at least once a week. If I brought lunch more than once, I got to keep the leftover money for miscellaneous.

*Clothing: I had to begin buying my own clothes. I had no idea how much my parents spent on my clothes! This was a real eye-opener, and I discovered the beauty of buying second-hand and stalking sales at my favorite stores. My parents helped out with big purchases, like athletic shoes and winter coats, but I did not get new ones every year like some kids - I wore things until they were worn out or didn't fit.

*Gifts: I bought my own gifts to take to friends' birthday parties, and I bought gifts for immediate family (parents) for Christmas and birthdays.

My allowance was increased every couple of years, to $70/week by the middle of high school. 

It seems like a lot of money up front, but I am pretty sure my parents ended up spending less on me this way, saving them money and a lot of whining and asking for things all the time from me!

I am so thankful to my parents for instilling the idea of a budget in me when I was so young, so that it was natural to me as an adult. The categories and percentages have completely changed now, but the basics are the same - give some to God, save some, spend on necessities first and personal second, and give some away.

02 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 157

30 Jokes
made me giggle, especially #2
via Modern Parents Messy Kids
---
1996 US Gymnastics Team
how the gold-medal-winning women's gymnastics team grew up
via Miss Cellania
---
Paulette Huntinova (video link)
comedy gymnast Paul Hunt demonstrates the women's balance beam event
via Miss Cellania
---
Gangnam Style (video link)
"hilarious, bizarre, and - dare I say it? - kinda catchy!" -Jen of Epbot
via Epbot

01 August 2012

Linkage, Volume 156

Greek Yogurt
are you eating authentic strained Greek yogurt, or standard yogurt with added protein and thickener?
via The Awl
---
Lamp Full of Memories
collection of a child's pocket treasures, displayed in a glass lamp
via TYWKIWDBI
---
Reach for the Gold
Twinkies Gold, that is...
via Miss Cellania
---
NBC Olympics Embargo
How the ‘Wall Street Journal’ Beat NBC’s Olympics Embargo
via The Presurfer

31 July 2012

Linkage, Volume 155

Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews (video link)
"Professional actor Chris Kipiniak puts the full weight of his dynamic gifts behind this interpretation of an online restaurant review."
Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews 2 (video link)
"Award winning audio-book narrator and actress Therese Plummer (The Good Wife, Law and Order SVU) lends her expressive talents to this rendition of a Yelp review."
via Neatorama
I hope they make more of these!

my favorite desk toys are under fire from the CPSC:
Buckyballs Banned
via USA Today
Dangerous to Swallow
via Businessweek
Seven Things To Ban Next
via Wired