Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let There Be Peace on Earth

As the year ends, we all pause to reflect on what happened in our past and to look forward to what is in store in the coming year.

Instead of going that route, I'll share something that I look forward to during the holidays when I can get over to Epcot, the add on to IllumiNations, Let There Be Peace on Earth.

(Next year, I'll make sure to sit under a speaker when I tape this-and maybe have a wider angle lens to capture it all!)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gelcolor by OPI, Louvre Me Louvre Me Not

Today was my second time getting an OPI Gelcolor manicure.

For those of you who landed here by searching "OPI Gelcolor" or "Louvre Me, Louvre Me Not" (and I know you're coming, trust me), I'll provide you with a little backstory. I'm most definitely NOT a girly-girl, but I coveted nice-looking nails.

I hate the look of acryllics, hate that the nail techs use dremels to remove those or the earlier Gel coatings and well, especially hated that cooking, doing dishes and swimming kind of ruled out having silk wraps done. So, my nails looked like crap most of the time.

Enter CND's Shellac. It goes on like polish, lasts two weeks and protects my nails? Sign me up. There are many posts of the various Shellac manicures I've had done by my lovely nail tech, Katie. (Seriously, if you're near Lakeland, email me and I'll set you up-she is awesome.) The color selection was 18 when I started, now is 24 and 6 more are announced for March. Not bad, but not as good as the plethora of OPI colors you can find in nail salons and beauty supplies.

Then OPI got into the UV Gel polish market with soak off product. It was launched with 30 colors (and many of the most popular OPI colors were launched with it, like I'm Not Really A Waitress) and many more are coming out.

I'm not a pink or orange person, because they don't look great on me. You'll see the out there colors if you look at my links, but I photograph every new color and write about them here, so roughly every two weeks, there's a new shade posted.

I am NOT a professional in the nail industry, I don't work for OPI or CND, I just love the fact that they create nail product for people like me, who have soft nails and don't like to waste money on a traditional manicure for it to be wrecked in two days when I scrub a pot.

Okay, that was long winded, but here are pictures of today's manicure in Louvre Me, Louvre Me not and some feedback afterwards.

At the salon, the color looks kind of like a cross between plum and raisin. A nice deep color, more towards the creme side.
When I admired Katie's handiwork on the way home, I noticed a subtle metallic effect. Metallic good, I like it!

If you have fair skin, like me, this one will really stand out, as will my rings-since Katie put them in the ultrasonic jewelery cleaner for me. :)

Okay, the feedback, since I forgot to follow up with any pictures or commentary after I got Bagota Blackberry, but we'll blame that on my frenzy at the end of the semester.

If you're a diligent, standing appointment with your nail tech every two weeks kind of person, you will notice that CND's Shellac and OPI's Gelcolor are pretty much identical in wear. Both hold up to me using a brillo pad on my pots, typing for hours on the computer, and generally, forgetting that I have a nice manicure on my hands. As it should be, IMO. Other than the color selection, you will be safe choosing a shade you like and having your nail tech do the rest. (and I suspect many nail techs who do one, will do the other.)

The feedback I've gotten from my nail tech and several others is that Gelish and Geltastic do not fare nearly as well. I haven't tried either, nor do I plan to, so I can't offer an honest comparison.

Where is the difference, you ask? With the Shellac, there have been a couple of times where I had to go three weeks between manicures (and once where we went four, but I soaked them off myself). My first round of the OPI Gelcolor had to stay on three weeks, because I was sick and not getting a very busy Katie sick before the holidays.

The OPI starts to flake and chip at the 17-18 day mark, and at that, it flakes off like traditional polish when you've put too many coats on your nail. However, when it does-it doesn't appear to do damage to the nail underneath. On the flip side, the Shellac adheres so well that other than normal nail growth, there are no signs of it chipping, flaking or disintegrating. (I should have taken a picture this morning, day 17 on this round of my favorite, Hotski to Tchotchke to show how well it wore.)

Since I have a pretty regular thing going every other Friday (barring illness or travel), this is not a negative to me in the least. I will gladly use both CND and OPI's products on my nails and enjoy the fact that I've got 54 colors (and counting) to choose from.

Oh, and since I seem to get so much traffic from those searching out these products, I will start a gallery post in the blog to show all the colors I have had done. Link will be added once that happens. In the mean time, search the tags below for the one that interest you and hopefully, my experience helps you in your quest for information.

**I am not paid for these posts, I just really like that I finally have something girly that I can wear that won't get ruined in my daily pursuits!**

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Some of the best indulgences don't cost a dime.

I love to take long soaks in a very warm bath. It's an indulgence, because a soak in the tub means I'm spending an hour, getting pruny fingers and reading a favorite book. Alas, this is one indulgence I don't engage in much during the semester, because taking textbooks into the tub is not a good idea.

(Hello, Clumsy, the 8th dwarf here. Expensive textbooks do not like getting bathed!)

So, many of my favorite books may be in the bookshelves as both a hardback and a paperback, so that I can drag one along for the relaxing time in the tub. It's not like the one I used to have:

The next house will have a tub like this-but a jacuzzi

but the water is hot and if I've got a good book, I'm happy.

The bummer part is that for Banned Books week, I volunteered to read a selection from the Diary of Anne Frank. I don't know where my copy is amidst the many boxes of books that need a bookshelf, so Game Teen and I visited a used bookstore and I picked up some paperback copies of favorite books, with plans to read them during the semester break.

Too bad they're sitting on my desk at work! Instead of following up Nelson DeMille's Charm School with Cardinal of the Kremlin (both dated, but fantastic stories), I'm going for one of the John Corey/Kate Mayfield books he wrote, The Lion's Game.

Oh yeah, I'll be a pink prune for sure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Things We Forget

We've lived in Florida 7.5 years. It's been long enough that 60 degree temperatures seem cold and 95 isn't all that hot. That's a big change from when I was a kid, where 85 in the summer seemed oppressively warm.

As it is winter, we're hitting the other extreme, the cold end. The first year we were here, we were still wearing shorts at 50 degrees, because that is shorts weather where we lived.

What I forgot is when it was that cold, my wrists hurt from mid-October until mid-March. I spent most of the winter in splints to try to minimize the pain. Even with numerous surgeries to repair acute issues, they just were not happy campers. (My orthopedist told me arthritis was a when, not if proposition.)

Then we moved to Florida and the wrists wouldn't hurt unless I did something stupid, like move from one house to another.

Today, the wrists and elbow hurt from the moment I woke up. I didn't do anything extreme, in fact, the vacation has been very relaxing, so why the heck did I hurt so much?

Two words: Cold Front.

It's supposed to dip into the 40's tonight-the perfect temperature for when my wrists would hurt on general principles in Maryland and New York.

With this, the planned summer road trip itinerary to visit potential universities that I can be employed by post-doctorate probably will not venture as far north as anticipated. I don't want to deal with these wrists all winter long ever again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I ordered this case a few days before I got my iPad.

As it was designed for the first gen iPads, it wasn't a perfect fit, but I was okay with that. I had plans to take a dremel to the back to make the opening for the front camera lens a little bigger and create a hole for the back camera lens.

Alas, once in the case, it would. not. come. out! I tried several times and since the camera wasn't that big a deal, I didn't press the issue.

Today, the iPad was in my bag when I was headed into the supermarket. Somehow, as I was exiting the car, the iPad fell about 3 feet to the ground and the case fell off. A quick glance and everything looked okay, and I was relieved. I left it in the car.

Then I got home and found this:

Not even a scratch or dent in the aluminum case-just the glass. Ugh!

I'm thinking as much as I love my case, I'm going to replace it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What a Grade Stalker Does in the Off Season

Throughout the semester, I am known as a grade stalker. The quest for A's makes me this way, I need the rush of seeing those >90 numbers in the grade book all semester long. So, when the semester is over, it's hard to break that habit.

This semester, though, I have another activity to replace it. See, I selected my three classes for the upcoming semester with one that meets every week on campus, one that meets *most* weeks on campus (we're not sure how many yet) and a third online class. I'm paying an extra $150 for online delivery, so I know it's online.

Except that about two weeks ago, that professor changed it from online delivery to add "weekly Elluminate sessions every Monday night from 6-8pm", which conflicts with one of the other classes. Really? You add this now? I was excited about all three classes, but the two I really wanted have class meetings the same night. Ugh.

So, I first emailed the professor who just added the Elluminate session and asked about it, whether it can be viewed later or if there was a reason for that specific time. Yes, she replied, we have a real client this semester, and that's the time the client chose. The course is only offered in the spring, so if I don't take it this semester, well, I'll have to wait until next spring, but the idea of working with a real client? I don't want to pass on that.

So, the professor who is teaching the other class (a research class I also want to take before the doctoral program) got my next email. We won't meet every week, but the research team needs to meet to make the schedule) and well, the class sessions are necessary.


Adding to the dilemma is that one class has 5 students registered, the other has dropped from 10 to 6 enrolled and the department guideline is eight students must be registered to hold these classes. I may very well lose both classes to low enrollments, but I don't want to be the cause of either one. I've kept both classes, then added a fallback class that has 19 students, so it will not be canceled.

Now? I'm stalking both classes to see whether the numbers have gone up. One of the professors told me that 10 permits were issued for the class, so the potential does exist that people are being lazy. If they don't register by the 3rd or 4th, though, the CoE will tell the professors the classes must be dropped.

At least the research class will be offered in the summer if it is dropped. I hate the idea of that one going (this is the professor that I will be one of the TAs this semester), but if I have to choose one to go, that's probably it.

Oh, and in talking to the program coordinator last week, (I seriously love the woman!) everything she suggested was already done. When I said I'd already chosen a fallback that was more of a foundation course than practical, she said that'd be her next suggestion. Two practicals in one semester is a recipe for tearing my hair out! And when I said 'at least this semester is all electives,' she commented that it's rare for that to be the case for someone in the last semester. Yeah, well, I looked at the requirements and tried to get them out of the way first!

So, the next couple of weeks are quiet on the school front, but not on the school stalking front!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Low Key

After five years of chaotic Christmases, due to the hospitalization of one family member or another (or me recovering from surgery), it was very, very nice to go nowhere, get no calls from a hospital, visit a hospital and just stay home in our jammies all day.

We all had naps at some point.

A nice dinner, some cookies and time to relax and recharge?

That's exactly what we needed this year.

Merry Christmas to all!

(and tomorrow, I'll probably tip my hat to my friends celebrating Channukah by making brisket and latkes.)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Crabcakemas!

A tradition continues in the SuzanneCalling household: the Christmas meal of crabcakes!

I hope your holidays (Christmas or Channukah) are filled with wonders and joys, the people you love around you and the foods you love in your belly.

(and tomorrow, maybe I'll finally get that video uploaded!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holidays in Epcot

Considering that I started uploading a 4 minute video TWO hours ago and it hasn't completed yet, this post is now modified to show you pictures of our evening at Epcot.

Hopefully, I'll have a video uploaded for your enjoyment...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Wrapping Tutorial Revisited

A few years back, I posted a tutorial on how to wrap presents, with accompanying photographs for the critical steps in the process.

I am debating recreating this in video form. Anyone want to tell me if they could use a video guide?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Well, maybe not. This is, after all, Florida-the lowest number on the thermometer has been 53 in the morning during the past week.

However, at work, you can tell something's up. There are coworkers I haven't seen for a week. Add that to the 10 day break our employer gives us and it adds up to a very nice vacation. Alas, my classification doesn't get paid time off, so it was not an option.

It will be interesting tomorrow. We shut down on Friday, and I suspect those who didn't have a whole week of vacation to use probably added tomorrow to their time off in order to get last minute things done.

I think we'll get in the Christmas spirit Friday with a detour over to Orlando. It'll feel like I'm playing hooky!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ways to Tell it is Semester Break

You can find a parking spot in the front row.

The line at the bookstore is only 3 people deep.

You maintain your level of checking school email, but no new mail arrives 8 out of 10 times you check.

Your desk starts to resemble something other people use.

Your computer now has folders for all the classes you took, they're sorted by semester and then by class.

The year's worth of photographs you've taken now are sorted into topics, all 32gigs worth. Or was that 64?

In any event, the things that one says need to be done finally do get accomplished when the schoolwork goes away.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookie Marathon

With the kids off from school, Chef asked if we can bake cookies. I said we sure can, and we decided what cookies to make. Both boys wanted sugar cookies, I figured Ed wanted either chocolate pb chip or peanut butter and I wanted my krytonite, rainbow cookies.

a recent batch at our favorite restaurant, Romeo's.

Once I mentioned Rainbow Cookies, Chef was excited. Typically, we only get those when we visit New York-the ones pictured above are the first batch that we've seen Chef Manuela put into the dessert cooler of awesomeness in the two years we've been going to Romeo's.

Anyway, the quantity of baking requires preparation, lots of it. My body rebels against that amount of standing, so today, I got a brainstorm: why not prep all the dry ingredients into storage bags, label them, and then tomorrow, I wouldn't have to stand so long?

It was inspired, it was great, it had a major flaw: the 25 pound bag of flour was in Ed's van.

Oh well.

I think the cookie marathon will take place on Wednesday, instead.

Pictures to follow, and you'll be glad you don't have smellovision...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Traditions, the Next Generation

I'm wondering what my kid's spouses will think someday, because the things that make them think 'holiday' may be a little strange.

For instance, this time of year, the local grocery stores begin stocking the Hebrew National cocktail franks. Of course, this means I buy them and a package of crescent roll dough. It's ideal finger food for New Year's eve, but I know full well that once the kids find them, the jig is up.

Which is what happened this afternoon. I was napping, because the cold has been brutal. GameTeen woke me up, waving the package of cocktail franks in front of my face. 'Can we have these?', only slightly less excited than if I told him I was letting him buy all the video games he wanted at Game Stop.

So, yes, they had pigs in blankets for dinner.

As far as my kids are concerned, this surely means Christmas is right around the corner...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Renovation Realities

Ed has found a new show to watch, DIY's 'Renovation Realities.' Honestly, I am not an expert at home renovations. I can wield a hammer, I know how to paint, drywall and do basic repairs, but I cringe at what people do on this show.

For instance, on one show, a guy put a window in his garage by eyeballing it. No tape measure, no levels, just cut out a hole for it where the homeowner wanted to put it for his man cave.

Many of the other shows are equally scary. I think I've watched a half dozen of these with Ed so far (I suspect he saw a lot of these when he was out of work), and only ONE was successful in getting his renovation done on time and on budget. The rest, well, they haven't put a lot of research into the project before they start demolition.

There are projects we'd like to do here eventually, and I feel a lot better about those prospects before beginning, because:

Ed likes to do a lot of research before embarking on something major.
Ed has done drywall, electrical and other home remodeling.
I majored in technical theatre, so I built stuff and painted-and demolished.
I also will do research before anything gets started.

Normally, I can't tolerate train wrecks like these, but somehow, I'm drawn to watching the epic failures. Am I the only one?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Two iTunes Accounts, One House

When we got our iPods, Ed and I set up separate iTunes accounts. It made sense, because while I like about 90% of the music he likes, he probably hates about 80% of the remaining stuff I listen to (he HATES 80's music, tolerates my jazz and we won't even talk about my choral music passion.)

Anyway, this wasn't such a big deal, we had separate accounts and we each were happy that way. When GameTeen and Chef got their nano and ip (Chef said it was too tiny to get the whole iPod moniker), the size limitations meant their libraries were housed in my account.

This worked out for quite a few years, until we got iPhones. For the most part, Ed championed the free app, and I actually started spending the money I'd placed in my iTunes account. We existed without complaint, until I bought a $15.00 app that Ed coveted.

GoSkyWatch, a fantastic astronomy application that allows you to point your phone at the sky and it tells you which constellation you are looking at. Fantastic app to have on camping trips.

Ed wanted it, and he wasn't about to spent that kind of money on it when I'd already done it. So we went along, one of us having an app that the other wanted, refusing to give Apple more money for something we already owned.

Then we got two iPads and it got worse, because we wanted more apps. Ed bought Garage Band for iPad and I wasn't spending money on it-even though I wanted it. I'd purchased Lego Harry Potter and Hipstamatic (and add on lenses) and he wanted those. We recently found a way to fix our dilemma:

We signed into iTunes with each other's accounts, authorized the machines (under the Store tab) and then selected 'purchased' from the Quick Links menu.

Now I have the apps from his account that I want and vice versa-and you can, too.

Here's a quick video I made to walk you through the process:

Then, if you need the visual cues, here's my front page in the iTunes store:

On the right, down the list of quick links, look for 'purchased'. Once you select it, this is what will appear:

You'll notice a 'download' or a cloud tab next to each app listed. This is important to note for the next step.

Now, I've logged into Ed's iTunes account:

You really can't tell at this point, so will skip to the screen that appears when I clicked 'purchased'.

Here's the difference, the apps are completely different. Again, iTunes will show downloaded or the cloud. Once you've entered the second account, just select the apps you'd like to add to your device, then select sync to add them to your queue.

Then, click on the device, in my case "Ring of Sauron" and run your sync again. You now have the apps you want on your iDevice.

Thankfully, Ed and I don't have to sulk that the other one has a cool app and our wallets don't get emptied as quick.

Apple states that this should only be done for iTunes accounts registered to the same address, but I know quite a few families who have multiple devices and accounts and they haven't figured this out, either.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Damn, I Take a Lot of Pictures!

Easily 50 gig on my hard drive is taken up by the pictures I've taken since late January, when I got my Nikon.

The cataloging of these pictures hasn't been high on my list. Meanwhile, when I put the SD card into the Mac, it creates a new numbered folder, and there's no way to tell what is in each folder, so yesterday, I started organizing the 200+ folder, after which I realized that there were pictures I did not locate.

Off to iPhoto, to find about another 10 gig of pictures. I guess I'll be cataloging some more tomorrow night, but for now, I found all the pictures of stuff I'll be putting up on eBay.

This, of course, was the purpose of going through the albums in the first place. I love semester breaks, when I catch up on all manner of housekeeping!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Scratch One Off the List

As my plans after I finish the Ph.D involve teaching other educators how to implement technology in their classrooms, there has been something that I have been seeking to do-get a job as a teaching assistant.

It's important to me, as I need to see how to transfer my skills as a manager/trainer to use them effectively in the classroom. There are so many more things to consider when you're assigning work that helps student transfer the knowledge they gathered during class, grading that work for their ability to do so and facilitating class engagement.

So, today, I met with the professor of one of my classes this past semester and, along with two others, we'll be the teaching assistants next semester. It's an unpaid role, but I'm thinking the experience will be payment enough towards being a better doctoral candidate.

Who knows, maybe there will be a paid role in my future because I decided to take an unpaid one now. It was pretty neat to sit in the professor's office and hammer out the schedule changes for next semester, then get into the course tools and modify everything.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'd Rather Not Share

When we're talking about a cold, you can keep it to yourself!

Alas, Ed and Chef shared with me and now I'm all stubbed up. It is a little frustrating.

I'm going to take some cold meds and get to sleep...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Every Girl Crazy 'Bout a Sharp Dressed Man

Things change in a year.

Last spring, Chef's chorus concert involved wearing a school chorus tee shirt, a pair of khaki and lots of disorganization.

This year, new director and new rules. Still an excessive amount of disorganization (coming in to tell the audience in one section "You can't sit here, the chorus needs these seats five minutes before the performance? Not good), but the new director has some good ideas.

First up, the students wore concert dress: white dress shirts, black bottoms and black shoes. She provided ties for the boys. I'm thinking he looks pretty sharp, don't you think?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Don "Ducky" Williams

Back in July, I bought tickets to an AllEarsNet December to Remember event. Yes, in July (while I was on vacation, in fact). Why? Because this picture, hanging in my living room:
was illustrated by Don 'Ducky' Williams, who was the guest speaker at a luncheon at Epcot. I was definitely going to this one! (Alas, I had two tickets and went solo-Ed couldn't get out of work)

I'm so glad I did. Don's path to Disney is an interesting story of how a banker eventually realized his dream of working for Walt Disney. He even has the letter that Walt sent him as a kid, when Don had wrote him about job prospects when he was ten years old. I won't spill all, because you need to go on a Disney Cruise and hear Don tell it himself.

Basically, he is a one man Walt Disney illustrator. Those park maps you pick up? Don does those. He also does all the illustrations that you find on the cruises, for special park events and just about everything except merchandise. You name a character, Don draws it. He tells us that he hates drawing the castle, the cruise ship and Spaceship Earth because of the minute detail needed. Though if you look at any of his artwork of the cruise ships, you'll notice it's only illustrated to the first stack!
Ariel's hair saves Ducky from drudge work!

It was time well spent, but Don had to go after lunch. After leaving the Odyssey, I took a quick jaunt around the lower end of the world showcase to get some pictures...

It was nice to see the holiday decorations, too.

This last picture sums up the day-hearing a talented illustrator's memories of his path to working for Disney.

If you have a chance, and are in Walt Disney World in the beginning of December, check out Deb Wills' and look into attending these events next year!