Saturday, October 27, 2012

Home, Sweet Home

A little peek at my Friday night hangout (at least for this Friday).

My computer is just about as vintage as the rest of my stuff.

Sometimes, I just don't feel up to going out on Friday night. I'd rather organize papers, play on Pinterest, and catch up on my favorite blogs. Sometimes, I'd rather hang out with my computer than round up my friends, 'though I love them dearly. Most of the time, I would much rather read a good book than put effort into dating. And, yet, I wonder at my singleness...

Tonight is one of those nights when I just feel like spending time with me. Maybe next Friday I'll head out on an adventure, but for tonight, this ultra-cold and gloomy night, it's enough that I worked on an art project. I re-learned an old fiber technique, while half-listening to fictional cop shows on tv. 

My sister and her friend are going to spend the night tomorrow night. That, of course, led to some serious binge cleaning earlier this evening. Now, the bathroom, kitchen and living living room are acceptable. I am particularly proud of the state of my pantry. I still have to deal with my bedroom, but it's grown late quickly. That mess will have to wait until tomorrow. For now, it's time for hard licorice, tea and me.

It amazes me; now that I'm an adult, having Friday night all to myself is such a luxury. 

How do you like to spend your Friday nights when you have no plans whatsoever?

Alison :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Livin' La Vida Local, no. 3: L.C.'s Hamburgers

Known for its many fountains, a ridiculous number of barbecue restaurants, stellar live jazz and blues, and a well-established art scene, Kansas City, Missouri, provides plenty to experience. I thoroughly enjoy livin' la vida local in the Flyover Zone. Join me as I explore new finds and old faves in this big small town I call home.  

L.C.'s Hamburgers isn't just a Kansas City tradition; it's also a family tradition. My parents met in high school, and L.C.'s was one of their hot date spots. My mom usually ordered "The Big Deal," which included a quarter-pound cheeseburger, french fries and a regular drink, while my dad was more likely to request the Italian Steak. The menu today is very much as it was in the early 1970s, as is the interior. 

Many thanks to mi madre for modeling.
A collection of round- and square-topped tables, surrounded by little round stools, inhabits the small interior. Upon walking in, you actually feel as if you have stepped back in time. Then, you step up to the window and order your greasy fare. You cannot be worried about your diet if you're eating here, although, to L.C.'s credit, salads do appear on the menu. But, really, if you're going to L.C.'s, you are not going for a salad.

After a recent appointment near Platte Woods, where L.C.'s is located, my mom and I had the urge for some old school burgers and fries, so, of course, L.C.'s was at the top of our list. Don't let a drive to the Northland scare you. This place is good, and it can definitely compete with burger joints like Hayes' Hamburgers and Town Topic.

My mom and I both ordered the "Big Deal," but I think next time around, I will order a smaller burger. Mine came with grilled onions and all the fixings. My mom ordered hers plain. The onions were grilled to perfection, and Mom and I are both huge fans of thin, well-cooked burgers. 

And, of course, the fries were divine. Served hot and greasy with just enough salt, it was impossible not to devour the entire serving. The only thing that would have made my meal better is if I had finished it off with a chocolate shake. However, I was trying to exercise a little (very little) restraint.

What's your favorite greasy spoon or family hot spot?

Alison :)

Old As Mold

My mom said my grandma always labeled birthday cakes with candy letters. That's why my mom included them on my uncle's 50th birthday cake - to remind him of his now officially ended youth.

Can you believe 1962 was 50 years ago? Yeah, neither can my Uncle Bob. We celebrated his 50th birthday with a chocolate cake blanketed by a nice white, fluffy marshmallowy icing, courtesy of Ms. Stewart. My grandma used to make a similar icing, but my mom, who can whip up just about anything else, has never been able to make a good batch. This similar recipe saved the day. It turned out perfectly, and, while not exactly like grandma's, it tasted delicious! Uncle Bob was pleased.

Have you discovered any recipes that are similar to old family favorites?

Alison :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote

I'm not sure of this cartoon's original source, but I really like the sentiment.

Today I heard George McGovern died. Hearing his name reminded me that my parents voted for him in the 1972 presidential election. Apparently, they were on the wrong side of the landslide. That's not the important thing, though. What's worth remembering is that my parents were among the first group of 18-year-olds who, by Constitutional Amendment, had the right to vote during a presidential election. The 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1971, lowered the voting age to 18 in all states for all elections - local, state and federal.

If you don't know much about the 26th Amendment, I recommend you study up. Like the 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments, the 26th Amendment expanded voting rights and, thus, civil rights. While murmurs of protest over the minimum voting age had been heard since World War II, it wasn't until the Vietnam War, when people too young to vote faced being drafted into military service to fight an unpopular war, that things really heated up. More and more people publicly condemned a policy that required young people to risk their lives, yet have no say in who made the rules. The "youth of America"* and their supporters held protests. Many politicians voiced support of lowering the voting age to 18. Once written and passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives, the amendment was quickly ratified.

Here is the sad thing, though. Approximately half the 18- to 24-year-olds** in the country voted during the last presidential election - and that was an election young people were really excited about. I know in a time when the Citizens United ruling seems to give those with more money a bigger, louder voice, it can be hard to believe voting and speaking out make a difference. I, however, believe that when many little voices combine, they can grow into a roar.

History is something we live. It's not separate from our own lives, and it isn't something that happened in the past. We have the power to influence our government and its policies. We just have to use all the means provided, and all the means we can create, to be heard.

When was the last time you exercised your right to vote? I hope the next time will be November 6, no matter who will be getting your vote.

Alison :)

* So Richard Nixon named them.
** Um, I'm not in that demographic now, nor was I during the last election. But the rest of us didn't do too well, either. Despite that, I've always felt like it was important to vote and be politically active. I do what I can to make myself heard. In my family, politics are definitely a sport, a hobby, a favorite subject. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Mom is So Talented

Wrapping paper flower made by my very own and highly talented mom.

My mom was recently inspired by all the pretty eye candy on Pinterest - because, really, who isn't these days? She concocted a darling paper flower to add a little flourish to one of my sister's birthday presents. Isn't it just dandy? If I were the proud owner of said flower, I would hang it on my wall, or possibly set it in a coordinating dish. Some ephemera is just too cute to trash. That, of course, explains the state of my apartment... Hmm.

Check out some of my mom's pins via my Pinterest profile, on the board entitled "mom." Is your mom on Pinterest? Are you? I am an addict and a half, and my mom and sister are big fans, too.

Find my mom and me. We'd love to see your pins and share ours with you.That's it for tonight. I've gotta get back to pinning.

Alison :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

ACED, Fall 2012, Round 1

Oh, yeah, I'm making the duck face in these photos. The student whose smashbook is on the left depicted me as a chocolate fiend. How ever did she know!?

The Fall 2012 session of ACED at Longview just ended, and the session at UMKC will begin in less than a week. ACED is an incredible enrichment program for adults with intellectual disabilities who live in Jackson County, Missouri. I have been teaching classes (mostly art) for ACED for the past seven years. ACED is of tremendous importance to me. I am so happy and proud to be a part of this valuable program. This time around, I taught the following classes: To Be or Not To Be, a poetry class; Super Smashbooks, a scrapbooking class; and Light Up Your Life, a class focusing on various types of lighting. Here I am showcasing work from the scrapbooking and lighting classes.

Examples of the scrapbook pages my students made in Super Smashbooks.

Smashbooking is a casual form of scrapbooking, which most closely resembles the memory books of days of yore. Think comments from friends, yellowing tape, and a log of four leaf clovers, for example. Smashbooks are meant for doodling, dreaming, jotting and journaling. 

To simplify the project for my students, we used binders to collect our pages. Binders are sturdy, easy to find, and relatively inexpensive. The students can also continue to add or switch out pages at home. The pages were created on yellow sheet dividers. That way, we did not have to use complicated binding methods or punch holes in our pages. We kept "Me, Myself and I" in mind as we worked, as these scrapbooks were intended to contain deeply personal expressions of the students' experiences. 

On the first week of class, I asked students to fill out a questionnaire about themselves and collect ephemera from home to add to their scrapbooks. In class, we initially worked on covering each page with a piece of scrapbook paper. The goal was to work loosely and allow some of the yellow base paper to show. As the class progressed, we took photographs for our scrapbooks, brought papers and cards from home to adhere to pages, and chopped up our questionnaires to add to pages randomly. Each week we employed new techniques, and our goal was to work in a nonlinear fashion through the book. In all, I was so impressed by the creativity of my students. In the photos above, you can see examples of how students collaged their pages with a variety of materials.

Here are the lamps, candles, candle holders and luminaries my students made in Light Up Your Life. Here's a super awesome tip for your own lampshade project: when you draw with markers on a cloth lampshade, the ink resembles watercolor paints!

In Light Up Your Life, we explored the history of lighting, from torches to compact fluorescent light bulbs. We made luminaries from both glass jars and colorful paper sacks, candlesticks from pipe fittings, candles from beeswax sheets, lampshades for Christmas tree lights from cupcake liners, and we decorated lampshades. Each student was challenged to design a lampshade on paper, and the next week the students translated their designs.  My students were very industrious each week and accomplished so much. I am very pleased with how well the projects turned out!

A glass jar luminary covered with lace doilies. These looked so pretty when lit!

Have you ever made a smashbook or lamps/candles/other lighting? I would love to hear about your projects! I am ALWAYS looking for new ideas for my classes - um, and even myself!

Alison :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Holy Moly

Cadbury Screme Eggs

I just discovered Cadbury Screme Eggs, the Halloween version of Cadbury's oh, so sweet and delicious Creme Egg. I resisted them today, but I'm sure my willpower won't last long. It comforts me to know I can now access Cadbury Creme Eggs twice a year. Twice the availability will lead to less hoarding and more living, er, devouring, in the moment.

Have you tried Cadbury Screme Eggs yet? Are you excited about any other Halloween candy? I'm also rather fond of Mellowcremes, especially the banana-flavored ears of corn!

Screme your tastebuds off,

Alison :)