Sunday, October 31, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Yet, every morning when I walk to my car and see a rich blue Stellar's Jay or an American Goldfinch, I praise God for creating these beautiful little creatures that are so delicate. For a second I can even imagine myself getting up early to go watch them in their natural habitat, stirring around and doing their thing. Lately though, they have been making fewer appearances.
They will be missed this winter. But until then, they can fit into the little things of life:
Bird Perched on a Branch Necklace
Retro Birdie Slim Wallet
With all the amazingly adorable bird-stuff out there, it is clear I am not the only one who enjoys birds.
Monday, October 25, 2010
It was a blast driving all around Beaverton taking the pictures. Here are a few of my favorites:
As pendant lights.
A great alternative to traditional wall scones. This is also probably my favorite.
Or go all out with a mason jar chandelier.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Through a random series of events, I stumbled upon a shopping area in Tigard that I have blindly driven by many times, and found none other than Anna’s European Foods! This was a most excellent discovery because, thus far, since we’ve lived in Tigard, I had not seen any European food stores. I knew there were a handful in Beaverton, but none that were as conveniently located as they were in Portland, on every major street.
Now my need for pelmeni, vareniki, and Russian meats will be fulfilled. I was starting to get worried, and even cranky at the thought of not having Russian food so conveniently close by. Now I can enjoy all of my favorites at a moments notice, plus they serve hot food too, for those lazy kind of days.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
They were the only ones willing to commit, despite the complexity and danger of fondant melting due to the heat of summer. They committed, and did a wonderful job:
Now the difficult part is walking down the streets of Beaverton and resisting the strong aroma of baked goodness. I may succumb to the temptation every once in a while, but mainly the whiff of freshly made cake reminds me of our special day, which is usually enough to satisfy.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
With all these crafts I'm stumbling upon, when Portland's rain comes - I think I will be quite content and busy.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
At last the discussion regarding teacher unions and their role in education is on the table. For so long people have complained, blamed, and defended teachers and teacher unions for the failure in education without having an actual thoughtful conversation that acknowledges the failures and is open to changes.
This conversation is especially exciting following the recent documentary Waiting for Superman and response it generated by organizations such as Stand for Children. For true educational reform to occur, conversations need to happen at the level that is most directly related to the people and process of education itself - on the local teacher level. Are they being adequately supported? Are they capable of doing their job? Who is to blame if they aren't? Tough questions - good discussion.
Listen to it online at Talk of the Nation.
Raining Cats & Dogs Shower Curtain - Who would have thought?!
Yes, I may be slightly biased because of my Russian heritage, but this Matryoshka Bath Mat would be unique touch to a bathroom.
This Owl Letter Holder makes even the dullest of mail look like it has its proper stylish place. Such a needed creation!
Of course looking at all of these awesome home stuff makes me wish I had more rooms to decorate or more friends getting their own place and having house warming parties. Good thing the holiday's are just around the corner. . .
Monday, October 18, 2010
SNL's The Bjelland Brothers:
And a little lesson in adjectives from Spanish class:
Guapo by Sr. Wooly:
Enjoy and good luck getting these out of your head! :)
Friday, October 15, 2010
Last year, when David and I were filling out our taxes, we discovered something that made us very happy: thanks to the college tax credit, we were practically reimbursed for all of our previously paid college tuition. Of course we did a happy dance. And now, I am doing a happy dance again. Why? Because our dear president Obama is urging congress to make the college tax credit permanent.
Why is this such a big deal? It makes college more affordable - 12.5 million people used it last year. Even though I am finishing up my college track - I still have 3 brothers who have their share of education to go through. Cost of higher education can be daunting - and the loans often acquired post college - depressing. This is a great incentive for people to achieve their goals and not be in the hole spending money to pay off student loans. Money saved from not having to pay student loans (or paying them off as soon as they come in) allows for more money to be spent in the market, helping the economy.
Yes Obama, please continue urging congress on this issue!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The Oregonian's Voter Guide lets you compare candidates and measures side by side, in simple language. The effects of each measure are clearly stated and candidates answer the same questions, so you can get a clearer perspective of what's at stake. You can also narrow in on races that are specifically in your area and bypass the headache of trying to figure out which district you live in and what issues actually apply to you.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
It's still only October, but gorgeous 2011 calendars are starting to pop up and I simply can't ignore it. Currently we have an adorable calendar sent from David's Oma & Opa, which features cute critter illustrations with an inspirational fruit of the spirit verse. Even though most of our life is kept organized by Google Calendar, I still enjoy having a wall calendar to keep me in perspective of what day it is and what is to come.
Design Sponge featured this adorable canvas calendar that I am tempted to make. Who knows, maybe a lucky friend will get one for the holidays. Despite lack of time, I am feeling quite crafty...
Some more that grabbed my attention on Etsy:
A Bunch of Animals
Year In Food Photographs - Original Photos by Amelia Kay Photography
Monday, October 11, 2010
It makes us uncomfortable to think about it, let alone talk about it, but statistics show that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in their life. Chances are you know somebody who has been affected by it - I know a handful of people. The destruction and pain is heart breaking - and it is an issue that I believe the church must acknowledge as real.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I admit, I don't know a whole lot about the issue, but I do know that it happens far too often to stay unspoken and unexplored. I invite you to watch Sin in Silence, a documentary about women who, in defending their lives found themselves in prison. Or if you don't have time, consider reading the article at Her.Meneutics.
If you are interested in learning how the church can help a good read is Healing the Wounds of Trauma. If you feel so moved, consider hosting a Swap for Good or sharing this documentary with a friend.
If you know someone who is experiencing domestic violence, don't let them suffer in silence. Know your local resources. Call the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233 for help or the 24 Hour Women Crisis Line at 503-235-5333.
If you don't live under a rock you probably know that there is a problem with the education system in America. Drop out rates are unacceptable and it seems like no matter what legislation is passed, the problems do not seem to go away. Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman acknowledges this issue and skims through the basics of the problem and possible solutions. If you are interested in education or just want to be more aware of some of the many issues in public schools today, this is a great start. The documentary doesn't go as deep into the issues as I would like, but it does provide a basic Education 101 look at the achievement gap, low-test scores, tenure, bad teachers, etc.
This movie did leave me inspired to research more about teacher unions and how they impact what happens in the classroom and beyond. It seems ironic that an organization that is meant to protect teachers can be the very thing that holds education from moving forward.
Friday, October 8, 2010
"To truly change our country's public education system, we must avoid the reflexive tendency to point fingers. We must start working together -- parents, teachers, principals, unions, advocacy groups, elected officials and members of the business community -- for real change."
Charter schools are part of the solution, but not the entire solution she argues.
I am excited to see Waiting for Superman - finally a film that will bring some of the issues in education to light. I am hoping it will stir dialogue, which would lead to action.
We are going Sunday night, if this interests you, consider joining.
I plan on posting my review on the movie next week.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
But there was something that Myspace offered me that Facebook has yet to replace: Myspace music and the joy of discovering new music that I actually liked.
The other day I was looking for a new CD to play in my car and found one I made in 2008 with songs I discovered on Myspace music. When I got home later that night I just had to revisit some of those artists on Myspace and see what they have been up to. Of course then I found some more artists that I now like and will be making a mix CD with.
Some that I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy:
Amber Rubarth, Angel Taylor, Hope, Mozella, The Weepies
, Barry Louis Polisar
And in honor of my favorites from the early days - Mika's Relax Take It Easy:
Warning: seeking music on Facebook may result in countless hours spent discovering more musical talent than practical time in a day to listen to.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
What is Zumba? It is a latin-inspired dance fitness class that will definitely make you sweat. Here is how it came to be:
"Celebrity fitness trainer, "Beto" Perez, stumbled upon the concept of Latin-inspired dance-fitness in his native Cali, Colombia in the mid-‘90s.
One day, he walked into his aerobics class and realized he had forgotten his aerobics music. Thinking quickly, he grabbed whatever tapes he had in his backpack. Beto's tapes were comprised of songs he loved, the traditional Latin salsa and merengue music he listened to all his life. But it was a challenge to improvise a whole class on the spot using non-traditional aerobics music. Beto rose to the challenge and from this last-minute improvisation a revolutionary new concept in fitness was born – the Zumba Fitness-Party™! The class soon became the most popular class at his fitness facility and then spread around the world."
And here is an example of it in action:
And Zumba in the news:
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Charter schools are publicly funded schools that do not have to necessarily follow the rules in place by existing school districts. There is a lot of room for charter schools to specialize in whatever area they choose and provide alternative education that is creative and innovative.
I love the idea of charter schools. With an average of approx. 50% drop-out rate in Oregon, it is clear that the regular public school system isn't working for everyone, so it makes sense that there are alternatives available that give an opportunity for students to try school from a different angle, in a different setting.
Charter schools begin for various reasons - from my experience there are those that are created to help struggling students and those made to help succeeding students exceed. I believe both are important and a charter school can address both needs (struggling and not challenged enough).
I am for experiential learning and teaching innovation. I believe school should be challenging and inspiring. Students need to feel like there is a purpose to their education - that what they are learning counts in the greater scheme of things.
I went to a charter school the second half of my high-school life, and I am thankful for it. The school I went to gave me an opportunity to get a glimpse of the professional world and figure out what strengths I have that can be used in the adult world. I was able to narrow down what I wanted to study, and because of the independence and freedom given to me, I was better prepared for college.
All of that to say, I have also seen charter schools that terribly fail their students. I have seen good ideas go to waste because there wasn't enough manpower on the side of the charter school. When staff are spread too thin, trying to implement creative teaching methods to struggling high risk students - disaster is imminent.
What I hate most about charter schools is the tension that exists when some people feel like their idea of education is better than the public school version, and when the goal to create the school is more about personal ideologies than a cooperative effort. When there isn't clear and open communication between the sponsoring school districts and the charter school, things can get ugly. I hate when charter schools are created to get students out of the school system before trying to address the issues as to why the kids are having problems in the public school to begin with.
My example would be a Russian charter school that ran in Portland for a couple years. The charter school was aimed at Slavic youth who were not doing well in the regular school. The goals and mission sounded great. The reality was that the issues the students faced were greater than what the school was able to address. Being spread too thin, without enough staff and without enough professionals on hand, students did not make progress. Eventually the school closed because the charter school was not able to deliver.
What could have been a great opportunity for students, failed because the district and the charter school were divided from the start. There was tension and not enough manpower to deliver quality education to students. Instead of collaborating with the school district to create additional support to struggling Slavic students at David Douglas, the charter school created a greater division which confused families and left students scrambling to find what to do when their school got closed.
My point is that charter schools are very powerful. They leave a lasting impact. They can be wonderful and they can be terrible. I love and hate them all in the same time - but ultimately if implemented correctly, I love em!