Friday, January 20

Last Week of What I Have Called Normal

This week marks the end of one way of life and into another...

Yesterday was my last school mass day at Resurrection.  Last year, I offered to help Michele do school mass during the week because A/I like kids B/I was free and C/it looked like she needed some help.  (Not that she couldn't do it without me...but I know me and if I had the option to have an accompanist I would take one!) It was a lot of fun to work for the kids.  They were sure adorable.   They loved to put up the numbers and always helped take things down...which is great for me!  Less work for me!!! 

Bishop Bob and the church honored me with giving me a blessing.  After communion, the principal comes up and announces everybody that has a birthday (or a half birthday).  All those children come on up and stand in the middle of church.  Then right before I start playing, the Bishop stands up and announces that we have "an organist/pianoist retiring from Resurrection" I looked around and thought... wait... Michele's retiring???  But no, Bishop was referring to me!  So Michele and Bishop had me go to the front of church, next to the shortest (and cutest) child ever and get a blessing from the church.  I think poor Bishop thinks I'm actually done working at Res period... but I told him that I'll be around...I mean if I'm not there, who is going to do all of those 8AM masses on Sunday? Somebody's gotta teach Paul D how to clap! (Inside joke--I taught Paul D how to clap the Halle Halle one of the many 8AMs I have.) 

I do hope in the future I am able to say good-bye to working at Resurrection so I can say hello to teaching in NOLA!  But before I make any concrete plans, I need to get a job first.  So as of right can find me doing the YMT 4PMs rocking the piano and 8AMs rocking your world with Riely the semi-pipe organ.

After mass Michele treated my mom and I to the Mustard Seed Cafe! Amazing place to eat!  If you haven't gotten to check it out, click on the website and take a look here to see Mustard Seed Cafe's site.

I also got the book The Color of Gratitude and Other Spiritual Surprises by Robert Morneau (aka Bishop Bob)

I all ready read half of the book and will plan on using it in student teaching when we talk about poetry.  I can't believe I disliked poetry at one point! 

Today is my last day as a BASIC After-School Care teacher at Holy Family School.  My job was to come watch children while providing them with academic activities.  I had 14 children to watch... all of them are near and dear to my heart.  Sometimes the job was hard...but it was always worth while!   This morning I worked the morning shift for the first and only time!  I was expecting 4 students and got 10!!!  This afternoon I hope things won't be as crazy, but I do hope all my kids are there!  We are going to finger paint with primary colors to make secondary colors and a painting.  I'm sure the teacher will want to strangle me!  I also have the famous ipads along too so the little tiny ones can practice their letter writing as well!  We always have time for fun in after school care!!!  This particular winter break, I got to work with them twice a week.  So not seeing them often will be very hard to deal with!  This doesn't mean I get to see them at all...because I WILL be at HFS student teaching come Monday!

I shouldn't be nervous...I have met my CT several times (I see her every time I work at HFS) and he HFS kids have given me several "load downs" on how awesome she is... I just haven't... well... EVER... taught third grade.  I had 4/5 for block and observed preschool/4k, kindergarten, first and second multiple times...but never ever third grade.  I'm excited to be working with them.  The third graders that I do know at HFS are really great kids.  Sharon says that 3rd graders are young enough to go along with you, but old enough to start learning some more advanced content.  From what I've seen, it's a great grade! 

As nervous as I am... I know I'll make it.  I've made it this far.  I can do it.

And as happy as I am right now... I can feel something amazing is coming up... I just have to jump in and go along for the ride. 

Now as I'm sipping my Chai Tea listening to Seussical, I'm thinking of how exciting and crazy the next few weeks are going to be!


Tuesday, January 17

Em's Music of 2011 Review


I meant to release this entry earlier, but because I was so sick, I couldn't.  Therefore I am going to release it now! 

Some of my favorite memories with Niki (both of them), Nina, and Cassie was the discussion of (secular) music.  Music is so essential in my life.  We all know that.   And I have my mom and other church awesome people to debate about the correct sounds on the organ or how liturgically sensitive is that reed stop, but today I wanted to do a review of music from the year 2011.

Looking through my iTunes account, I discovered this year I "obtained" more albums from 2011 than 2010.  The year 2010 was a pretty rough year for music.  However, 2011 was a good one.   I am optimistic about 2012 too.  This year was sure about breaking up and making up.  Bands like Paramore and Oasis split in half like a piece of paper while bands like Panic! At the Disco, Yellowcard and Sublime With Rome (originally Sublime) rebooted their game.  Solo artists such as Brittany Spears and Patrick Stump both released risque albums in 2011.  Katy Perry and Gaga never left the top 10 list...Indie Music is making a scene again on the charts.  Adele showed everybody how to cope with a broken heart.  The Beatles music was released on iTunes.  Glee was pretty absent from the iTunes chart (compared to 2010 when that's all that was on the top ten) and Justin Bieber did a song with Mariah Carey.  What a crazy year!  I'm looking forward to 2012!

10 Essential Songs of 2011 (Not in any particular order)

Rolling in the Deep-Adele: Thank you Adele for breaking the stereotype that all piano songs have to be ballads.   I'm teaching my friend Tim how to play the piano and the song consists of simple bass and the melody line.  I'm just insulted that it is that easy.  Adele is NOT the case.  Her musical components on the original sheet music do NOT consist of melody and an easy bass.  Instead it is full of crazy chords.  The piano isn't put on some high shelf and "sounds pretty."  The piano reflects Adele's feelings.  She's cocky: he could have had it all.  The piano is reminding us of it, at an unconscious level. 

Born this Way-Lady Gaga: In a world where depression, sex, alcohol (or a combination of the three) sells more than any other topic, Gaga defines music again through this self-loving anthem.  We haven't had a good "love yourself" song that really made a mark on our generation.  Let us not forget that Gaga's last single before that was the dark and twisted Alejeandro, from "The Fame Monster EP."  "Born this Way" is as opposite as it can get.  She tells us all that we are Born This Way!  Sure some homophobes are going to say it is for the "gay lovers," but I beg to differ.   If this song was released when I was bullied, outcasted or tease, I would have been a better adjusted person!  Some controversies surrounding the song did question the song's integrety.  (ETA: the bridge has some questionable labels), with little apologizes from Gaga herself.  I was quite disappointed in that.  I'm shocked Glee didn't jump on that bandwagon sooner... ;)

Monster-Paramore: Ahh...Paramore... you don't suck even though your two founding members quit over a record deal.  Haley Williams is at her best in this song "I'm only human/I've got a skeleton in me/But I'm not the villain/despite what you're always preaching"is channeled energy from their "Riot" album, which was their first album that received mainstream success.  While Haley tends to write long phrases to explain simple things, this song begins to focus her ideas.  Maybe she went to the Writing Center to condense some of the "fluff" that was found in "brand new eyes?"  Promising debut without the York brothers.  Paramore is recording so we shall find out what comes next.   Although I read in an interview that this is last of the "Farro Brother Era" and the new music will be more "upbeat, fun, pop and happy." Nothing wrong with doing happy music but POP...come on! You are called anti-Avril for a are NOT pop...and have better eye linear. Please don't pull an Avril and go all pink, love and bratty...because if you do, I as well as every other red/orange punk out there will cry in agony.  

The Ballad of Mona Lisa-Panic! At the Disco: I remember when these guys were losers.  The week "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" hit big I was front row watching these guys open for The Academy Is...  Listening to Mona Lisa makes it hard for me to remember that Pretty.Odd.  was ever released.  With Mona Lisa I felt I was listening to a new and better example of "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out."  The complicated phrases, the quick spits of these phrases and the feeling you are in a circus is back.   This time, they know they are keeping their ! mark and their original signature.  Good for you guys, making progress!  In the song, Brandon explains about the convictions and issues he had leading up to releasing Vices and Virtues.  Surely with all the drama Panic! had over the past few years, no wonder the song is so complex as it is. And the rest of the album is just as complex.

This City-Patrick Stump feat. Lupe Fiasco: Wait...wait...Patrick Stump was in WHAT band? Yup, he was in the epic tongue and cheek band called "Fall Out Boy."  Patrick gets his whole "soulfunk" sound mastered in this song as well as the rest of his album.  In result, it is the best song about Chicago that was never made.  The electric sounds change throughout the song.  The bongo drums, the electronic synth beats and snap/clap combo make the instrumentation on the song unique.  What a nice change from all those electronic synth bands out there that just sound the same.   Then there is this little hearing change.  After the bridge and before we go back into the chorus, there is a little pause, where the song changes key.  Whoa!  Nobody does that unless you are in a chorale.  The rap doesn't really add anything to this song, so feel free to listen to the album version if you wish.  The one downfall of the song is the the classic FOB "stuttering" on several words.  In this case, Patrick stutters on the word I several times.  Makes me wonder if he forgot the words to his own song or if he thinks it sounds cool  As somebody who stuttered as a child, I hope it's not the ladder. 

Hold It Against Me-Britney Spears: This song gave the new album so much promise that the album never lived up to.   What I like about it is the change of tempos of this song.  We start fast, then do a huge breakdown, then get even faster! Lyrically, this is one of the better songs in Brittany's later career.   Britney plays it safe with this song, using her typical formula (invented by Max Martin, because all of his songs tend to follow the same pattern) while experimenting with new rocking sounds.  In result, we all get that classic Britney with a new twist!  Now...if you can get your "arch" rival Christina Auguilera to do the same, we'd be having ourselves a class of 2002 reunion!

Princess-Coldplay feat. Rihanna: After Viva la Vida, I didn't think Coldplay could ever out do themselves.  However this semi-earth feeling song really nails it into the wall.  Rihanna does a warrior cry in the beginning of the song, which makes me feel as if I'm in some spiritual gathering in a forest.  Then when the actual lyrics come out, the song changes to a nice warm typical Coldplay sound.   The blending of voices make the song.  Rihanna's voice normally annoys me (as her songs), but I find that the blending of Chris Martin and her's is a divine experience.   Makes perfect sense because Chris Martin actually wrote the song with Rihanna's voice in mind!  Question for Coldplay...WHEN are you going to release this as single?

Sexy and I Know It-LMFAO: Humor done the right way unifies people.  Humor done the wrong way makes everybody post angry FB status' for people to comment and debate on. Everybody likes a funny song, when done right.   Even my mother digs this song...this morning during Zumba she turned to me and said "this song is great!"  Shocking, because mom doesn't like anything before 1963. There are tons of songs out there that are created for the laugh.  If you don't believe me think of the song "I Just Had Sex," "Who Let the Dogs Out?" "The Thong Song," or "Dick in a Box."  There's nothing wrong with making a humorous song, after all Cobra Starship made a career out of it, but it has to be done right.  Sexy and I Know It hits you with the humor.  Using similar tunes (I believe the bridge melody came from a classic jump rope rhyme, but it escapes me at this moment) and corny lines shoots this song into my top 10 essential songs.

Pumped Up Kicks-Foster the People: Recorded in 2010, became popular in 2011... what a sleeper hit! This song makes me laugh too...not because it is supposed to be funny, but because of the debates on what this song is about.  Is it about murder? Suicide? School shootings?  Hipsters find this song cool, because it sounds like something that could be played at Urban Outfitters, but they shouldn't admit to liking this song.  Why? Well, the song is dissing them.  You don't think so, listen to the chorus.  All the kids with the pumped up kicks are supposed to run...faster than his bullet!  Maybe if he added the word away, kids might get it.  Then again maybe not.  Still great to hear kids go "oh I'm awesome" and list a bunch of Indie Bands to sound cool, adding Foster the People to the Playlist.  Ah kids and their pumped up kicks. Indie, keep on releasing great music.  Let's make Indie a mainstream genera. 

Judas-Lady Gaga:  I know what you are DARE you add another Gaga song to this list without even hinting at Perry? (Sorry Perry did more of the same.) This song just got everybody upset.  I mean HOW DARE Gaga write about Christian's biggest traitor? Catholics were mad it was released during Holy Week, other Christians were angry about the video being all messed up, non-religious people were sick of the religious references and the devil was mad he wasn't included in the song at all.  Very interesting way to explain going back to your "darkside" (your "Judas") and I applaud her for thinking of it first.  I love music that refers to Church because well...I work in churches.  This song was a mash up of a few of her previous songs: Bad Romance, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say), Lovegame, and probably Alejandro.  All those songs we loved and adored, so do the math: All of Gaga Hits+Religious References= Judas!  Probably not a great idea to release it on Good Friday, that was rather cliche.  Want to be original?  You should have released it in Lent, where temptation is largely discussed, especially during the week Jesus is tempted by the devil.   To me, that would have made more sense, then again, not everybody understands what the heck Lent is in the first place so nobody would have gotten the reference anyways. 

Here's a list of bands that I'm waiting to release a new album (and PROMISED would drop one this year)

No Doubt
Black Cards (Pete Wenz's band)
The Academy Is... (the promised last year and that didn't happen... so they owe me!)
Marylin Manson
Green Day
Mumford and Sons
Pearl Jam
Soundgarden (will they stay together this time?)
Nicki Minaj
Alica Keys
The Killers
Linkin Park
Regina Specktor
Matchbox 20 (Every college kid will be celebrating the day they release new material!)

Like I said...2012 is going to be an epic year in music!!! 


Sunday, January 15

Friday the 13th... Best Day Ever!

 Greetings Friends!!!

Today I am going to talk about some of my adventures on Friday the 13th!!!  

Friday the 13th was not a day of bad fact, it was full of lovely surprises!  First of all, I got I got to go shopping!  And what did I purchase?  Well, take a look my friend... I purchased a Cuttlebug!!!

I was very excited to use my Cuttlebug.  I have been waiting to get one ever since Meredith and I started to emboss together about two weeks ago.  I love my Cuttlebug because it is dry embossing and it is great for both scrapbooking and cardmaking.  I got quite a few embossing folders that I have all ready been using like mad!  Now I want more!!!  Anybody willing to share, please let me know!

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to scrap with my friend, Megan for an entire afternoon.    We decided to go to Creations Galore, which is located near HWY41.  Creations Galore holds its weekly "Crop Night" on Fridays.  Megan and I decided to try it out.

When I scrap with another person, I learn about new scrapbooking techniques.  Let me tell you, Megan is a very talented scrapper, so working with her for an afternoon was a real honor!  Our techniques are different which makes scrapping a lot more fun!  We learn from each other (I will admit, I'm still trying to get her to rip paper, but she's rubbing off on me!)  While Megan's pages have full of blank spaces, journaling and unique layering, mine are not.  My traditional pages consist of about 7-10 pictures scattered between two pages with ripped layers and a lot of stickers.    This time, I decided to try to use more space in my work, more journaling and better usage of photos on the pages.    Here are a few more pages that I worked on with Megan at Creations Galore.

Meredith's 25th Birthday Layout   It is a very traditional layout with some added fun.  Megan helped me add some space to my work as well as some fun accents that were not stickers.  I used my Celebrations Cartridge to make the gifts and the number.  I cut out some of the paper to make the cupcakes on the side.  I used popup glue dots to make them look 3-D. 

This layout was made with help from an instructional packet.  I really liked the set up and although I was following instructions, I learned a lot about matting techniques. 

Loser look at my journaling.  Yikes!

I tried only using 2 pictures for this event.  I used Megan's side puncher to make some fun patterns and give some more free space.  I embossed the pink paper. 
This is my favorite page!  I didn't have a lot of photos for Emily's wedding.  Most wedding paper is black and white.  Well... look at the photos, they are mostly brown!  So I hunted for about an hour for the perfect paper.  I tried making a circle and incorporating ribbon this time!  I even did some journaling!  I enjoyed this page a lot, but it gave me a headache to make...I didn't know what I was doing until the very end.

A funny part of the night was when we were trying to find a big circle for me to trace.  We looked everywhere...turns out the clock was our best best.  I climbed up on a chair to get the clock off the wall so I could trace my big circle!

After I finished scrapping, I went out for a ladies night with some girlfriends.  We went to La Vie Boheme for some wine before we went out singing for the rest of the night!!!  I was so happy everybody showed up!   The wine bar seemed to be a nice change for everybody...normally I go to Goth Night where dancing is expected, however, La Vie Boheme is a nice relaxing place where you can sip wine and hear some great music.  Everybody seemed excited about the change of pace and were all on board to go sing afterwards!

The girls! Kasey, Liz, Brittany, Meredith, Heather, Melissa, Me and Maggie!

One of my best friends, Brittany!

Before we sang "Dancing Queen!"
We decided to check out The George St. Pub up the street.  Turns out, we all love to sing some karoke.  We sang "Dancing Queen," and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" together.  Brittany and I sang "Bad Romance" (which everybody loved!)

Liz sang "Independence Day" and Meredith sang "Fancy" by Rebba.   Then, I ended the night with the host by singing "Foolish Games," but that's not before I made a fool out of myself by singing "The Bad Touch."   People seemed to love both song choices... next time though, I'm going to try something new... maybe some Spice Girls!

In conclusion, my Friday the 13th was one of the best days ever!  I loved spending it with my friends and doing some of my favorite hobbies!   I hope everybody had a wonderful Friday the 13th too!


Wednesday, January 11

My Friends Are Getting Ready to Teach Abroad...and Em's Cooking to Celebrate!

Hey Everybody!

Before I talk about today's adventures, I wanted to spread the word that two of my friends, Carrie and Rachel are traveling to Ghana to start their student teaching placements tomorrow!  I cannot express how happy I am for the both of them.  I know this day has been a long time waiting for them and now it has finally arrived.  Please, keep the both of them in thought as they are traveling.  If you are interested in checking out what exactly they are cooking up over there... please click on the links below to follow their blogs.  I promise they will be interesting!

Rachel's Blog

Carrie's Blog

Speaking of cooking...tonight was the first cooking night that Leah, Kristina and I had in a very long time.  I missed cooking with them a lot... we make so much great food and have so much fun afterwards as well.  Today we cooked from the Caribbean... with a Caribbean Chicken with Pineapple Cilantro Rice. 

Kristina and I picked out the recipe back in late December.  We were at Barns and both of us had the urge to cook again.  After looking from something from Africa, we decided on this dish.  It appeared interesting and didn't take 8 hours to prepare. 

Before I got there, Kristina and Leah soaked the chicken in cream and pineapple juice. 

Then we doubled the spices, because that's what our good friend Candy from Savore said.  I got to pour all the spices together into the big jar.  Then mix it all up:


 Then the fun part began.  We had to pick up the chicken and roll it in the spices and set them into the pan to bake.  I used a little too much spice and we ended up having to make MORE spices.  However, if you just place the food into the dish without pounding the spices into the chicken, you will be fine!

Leah picking up the chicken...

Making that chicken work...

Then Leah added some pineapple and tada!  We had our final product!  All we had to do was throw it into the oven to bake for about 30 minutes!

 While we were cooking the chicken, we discussed politics, music and everything else under the sun.  And of coarse, I had to sneak a photo of Leah holding our Pineapple, Quasimodo.

We also added bread to our dish...and rice...with cilantro.

And of coarse... you can't have food without wine!  The wine's selection this evening was a bottle of Naughty Girl!

In result, this was our dish:

Honestly, I'm not a chicken girl, but this dish was worth it.  I loved it a lot!  The only thing I would change about the recipe is to not use as much chilli powder.  It says be generous, well, don't be.  With chilli powder, there is something called too generous. 

Afterwards, Leah's dad and myself took turns playing piano.  While he played the Entertainer, I jamned out to what I know best... church music!  Since nobody was Catholic in the house, I stuck to Christmas Music.  It was much loved:)  Then, after chatting with Leah's parents for sometime, Kristina, Leah and I retired to the bedroom where we spent the next 30 minutes watching YouTube Videos:)

All in all, a wonderful evening!

Many blessings,


Monday, January 9

Card Making 101


Happy New Year! I got sick over Christmas, so I didn't have time to post anything up.  As many of you know Christmas is all about organ.  I had an epic mass set and did a great job playing at my masses...but as soon as I got home, I threw everything up and stayed in bed.  Now that I'm all better, I've been working out and doing a lot of card making.  Today I'm going to share with you some of my cards! 

As many of you know, I love hobbies.  But my favorite hobby has always been and always will be, scrap booking.   I love to scrapbook.   For so many years, scrap booking has been a lonely hobby.   I kept the fact that I scrap booked a secret.  Not that I was embarrassed about my hobby, but I just never brought it up.  Especially when knitting is the popular hobby among my friends. 

I will say, I was just a solid scrapper until I met my boss Jennifer. (The Fox.)  One day I waltzed into Jennifer's office and she had a pile of amazing looking cards sitting on her desk.  She told me that she makes them for a hobby.  They looked perfect.  Surely I couldn't do that... but she insisted I could.   Whenever she talked about them, she made it sound so freaking easy...and they are pretty awesome cards.    So I started to card make...then stamp... now... I have a large collection of stamps and ink pads to call my own.  I never thought that stamping and card making would be cool!

Now that I card seems that everybody else card makes as well (they have been card making longer than me, I'm new to the hobby!) It's been wonderful to know that I am not the only one that card makes...but I am still one of the few that scrapbooks in my circle of pals.  Although today was a ground breaker for Meredith, who for the first time... SCRAPPED!!! 

Below are a few cards that I have made recently.  I don't have a direct purpose for them yet, but I wanted to show them off, because I'm quite proud of them!

 This is my wine invitation.  Liz said that I should throw a wine party so I can give these out to some of my awesome friends.  I used paper from Hobby Lobby.  I got the wine stamp from JoAnn fabrics.  I didn't mean for the wine stamp to come out that unclear, but I decided it gave the card a vintage aged look.
This is another wine invitation. Hm...I think I'm going to throw that wine party now!!!

The next two cards are 24th birthday cards!

I have no idea who that is, because now that I think of it...most of my friends are turning 25. 
Then there's the unique music card.  Oh how I love music! :)

I used that clear see through paper and placed it over the tan card.  That's how I got the black swirls to be on the card.  Then I ripped a lot of paper.  The stamp was originally for my organ recital invitations, but who says you can't use a stamp more than once?  I'll probably give this card to some music friend of mine.  Maybe a "Please Teach Me Organ Again" card to Jeff.
Another, not really sure what this is for.  Probably a little pick me up card.  Something that will make a person smile.  The pineapples came from the Perserves Cricut Cartridge.  The stamp came from Hobby Lobby.  I got the grass punch out from Michaels.  (I shop everywhere.)
 This is a sunshine card.  I made this one because I really wanted a watermelon.  I had these bright blue cards and I wanted something happy go lucky.  I used a Stamping Up! stamp for the occasion.   I also used my cricut to make the watermelon.

And since I made one watermelon, I decided to make a few I made another watermelon card! This time, I used the watermelon as the main motif.  No background images.  Just watermelon. 

 And since I didn't do much on the outside...I did something on the inside...
 Neat huh?

This next card is a Thank You Card.  I need to make more of these.  I'm always thanking people.  This time I wanted to use a white card.  I have a hard time making cards with just white for the background.  I used some flowers and embossed the phrase "Thank You" in bright blue.  Then I got really creative and added a scrapbooking chalk!
Of coarse, card making is not card making, unless I can rip and destroy is my example of destroying paper... see how pretty it looks?
 This is a sympathy card.  In case something ever happens to somebody, this is the card they are going to get! It's just a simple rip and stamp card.  The paper came from Jo Anns.  The stickers and the stamps came from Hobby Lobby.  This is my favorite card because it is so colorful.  I love it to pieces!
 This card is special.  This card is my first embossing card! I love embossing...but I think I prefer dry embossing with a Cuttlebug! 
This is also the first time I used a large stamp to make background texture.  I thought this card was going to fail, because the purple on the cupcakes was really light, but I made it work.  This technique was a lot of fun, but like I said, I think I'm going to prefer the Cuttlebug over working with is so messy!!

That's all for now!  I hope everybody had a fantastic New Years! I sure did!