Monthly Archives: January 2009

Photo Album Mother Lode!


Last weekend, I visited Garden Ridge and Old Time Pottery.  I bought up loads of wrapping paper for $1.00 a roll – I’m using them to revamp my bulletin boards in my classroom.  I also found this book on raclette for only $1.99.  Who’da thunk it?  Abook on an obscure Swiss traditional meal found in Norcross!  What a deal!

I had not been to OTP in a long time.  It is so huge and I feel compelled to try to cover the store in 7a_1_ba systematic manner – it can take hours.  But it can be worth the trouble.  This time, I came upon a huge lot of discontinued NASCAR mini photo albums.  No, I am not a big NASCAR  racing fan, but I am a fan of bookmaking. The binding  is first rate and it holds 16 pictures.  I plan on recovering them and making mini books with them.

Oh, did I mention they were 10 cents apiece?  So far, I bought 6o of them, but as I think of more uses for them, I am itching to go back for more.  I haven’t done anything like buying out all the stock of the store in years.  Not since the days of the Pier One Clearance Store and other great finds.   My husband just told me not to blog about it but I trust you all not to buy them out before I do… 😉

42c0_1My first idea was to have my students write an illustrated story.  They would do the pre-writing using a storyboard graphic organizer, then apply the text and images to 4 x 6 blank index cards.  Then they would insert the cards into the photo sleeves.  Finally, I would teach them how to cover the books with decorative paper or make a template for them to paste their title and cover illustration onto and then cover the books.  Brilliant, huh?

Then, one of my fellow teachers told me that she was going to spend some time teaching about poetry and that gave me an idea.  I could have my Language Arts students write different kinds of poems and put them in the book.  They could add the illustrations, too – they wouldn’t have to be so accurate, then.  They could just complement the poetry.

There are all sorts of poetry lesson plans and graphic organizers around.  I could have them do:

There’s more, but I’ve got to go to sleep!


Mi vida es una loteria!


Okay now, don’t laugh at me.  I just paid over $100 for a Loteria game.  Now, remember that I am one of the people who has actually sold a vinyl shower curtain for $150 because it was discontinued (part of the now defunct Zarela Loteria line).  Well, last week, while doing my routine Ebay surfing, I came across an auction for a Don Clemente Loteria game that was printed in the 50s or 60s.  I first saw reproductions of the cards at a restaurant in San Antonio and did some research on it.  When I finally found images of the deck on, a site that has many decks displayed.

31ed_1I never thought I would find it, but lo and behold, there it was on eBay!  I have to admit that I was prepared to fight for it, and I didn’t blog about it until the auction was over because I didn’t want anyone else to bid on it!  I started out with a high bid of $50 and let that ride for a few days.  When someone else bid and the price got up to $32, I went ahead and raised my high bid to $100.  Then, just to be sure, the day of the auction, I raised it to $150.02.

It’s a good thing I did.  I was there for the last 45 minutes of the auction.  It looked like I was going to get off pretty easy, but in the last MINUTE of the auction, the price exploded from $60 to $106!  It is worth it, though.  And, I just found out who was also bidding – the person!  Sorry!

No, I’m not.

It’s been quite a Loteria month.  First, I found a Loteria t-shirt on eBay made by Circa – which is a skateboarding outfitter.  I bid on it and won it for only $13 (with shipping, it was about $19).  Then, I got an e-mail from the shopkeeper, saying that the auction was mistakenly put up by a “bug” on eBay.  I am dubious, but since it doesn’t look like they were trying to elicit my PayPal account info or anything else sinister, I went ahead and accepted the refund.  I have since found it on, but I am trying to not buy it yet.  After all, I have just spent about $165 on Loteria games in the past couple of weeks!
I found a promotional copy of a Loteria game made for the Nacho Libre film – it comes with its own little luchador bag.  It will be interesting to see the design for the deck.  I also bought a Loteria game for bridal showers that I had seen around for a while, and a black and white Loteria based on the 100 names for Death in Mexico (there were only 50 names though…).  So, as you can see, I have been playing the lottery quite heavily lately…
I did NOT buy this purse yet, though.  It has been on auction for at least 6 months.  It is a Pineda Covalin style with Loteria images.  It’s really funky and beautiful, but I really don’t carry purses like that – not $149 purses, anyway.  I am sure it’s a good deal – a lot of those purses on the Pineda Covalin site are about $200.  Alas,  I am more of the $10-denim-purse-purchased-from-Target kind of girl.  I hope it goes to a good home.  Subsequent Google searches have not unearthed any other products of that design.  It must be an old print.

Last, but not least, I found a print on that is a reproduction of Jose Guadalupe Posada’s Loteria stored in the National Library of Congress. Here is a copy that you can view up close from the University of New Mexico’s digital collection. There is also a great authentic Posada “broadside (large poster print?) depicting the verses that go along with his loteria.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so!

Loteria Gift Card Book


Yesterday, we made it to Chapter 13 of House of the Scorpion, so I decided to take a break and make use of some past tests I had made.  I made copies of my tests on Chapters 1 thru 7 and Chapters 8 thru 11 and put them together.  Then, I made it a group open book test.  Believe me, it’s nice to take a break and let someone else explain what cloning is!  😉

I realized that I had not posted the pictures of my last Christmas Gift Card book.  For this one, I used a Loteria theme (of course!) and I think it came out great!  I kept it simple, using the back of one of the cards for the binding and lace doilies for accents.  I had some gift wrap that had smaller images of the Loteria, and that was more appropriate for a small book.  The rooster is one from my stash of Rooster firecrackers I found at a fireworks stand in North Carolina.  The ribbon is one that I use for my story boxes.


The interior is lined with simple yellow card stock.  For the envelopes, I used more of the small scale Loteria gift wrap, some scrapbooking paper with a bandanna design, and a larger scale Loteria gift wrap.  The card/tag inserts also had Loteria images on them.


I attached the ribbon for tying by hot gluing it to the book cover, then covering that with lace doily and an image.  The front image is my Chinese rooster, and the back image is from the El Mundo Loteria card.


I am currently working on making some to sell for Valentines Day.  Instead of coupons, I think that I will insert blank vintage looking Valentines for the sender to fill out.  I am also working on a belated gift for an older friend.  In that one, I am going to include photos of our family – if I can get some photos sorted out and find the ones I need!

Waiting for Desperate Housewives


It’s been a good weekend, although I have little to show for it…  Friday night, I don’t remember what I did when I got home.  I don’t think I took a nap – I’ve been trying not to nap after school.  I spent a LOT of time on the internet, researching fleur de lis designs.  You would be surprised at how much time I can spend on that kind of thing…

Saturday morning, I slept in.  When I got up, I decided to go out and eat sushi.  It was awesome!  The RuSan in Buckhead added some more $1 rolls to their menu – I tried the scallop with aoli sauce.  I think I finally have the staff trained to “let” me sit where I want.  The tradition is to seat solo guests at the sushi bar.  I never sit at the sushi bar.  First of all, there is little room to write in my journal or to read the Creative Loafing.  Secondly, the light is too dim for the aforementioned.  Yesterday, I was reading a new book I got:  The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real by Lisa Sonora Beam.  After that, I went to TJ Maxx, Ross, and SteinMart to look for Punch Studio stationary and papers.  Then, to Pearl Art Supply for a suitable sketch book to use as my artist’s journal.

Last night, my husband and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire – it was brutal, but awesome.  We got there early, so we went to see the first 30 minutes or so of Benjamin Button.  Today, more sleeping late, but I did make a casserole!   I used this “Handy Dandy Casserole Chart” and it came out fine.  Here’s another chart.  Earlier, all I could find was this:  The Generic Casserole Recipe.   I used rotisserie chicken, rice, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, canned mushrooms, artichoke tapenade, and Trader Joe’s Piccata Simmer Sauce.  For the cheese, I just took all of the various cheese chunks I had left over (raclette, low fat Swiss, and soy mozzarellas…) and put them in the Cuisinart.  For the topping, I used tortilla chips, the rest of the crumbled cheese and a little more Romano cheese.

That’s all I got – wow, maybe I shouldn’t blog when I have nothing interesting to say…  HA Ha Ha.

Huntin’ Wabbits


peterrabbit7I’m still working on my lesson plans for a unit on The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.  Somewhere in my classroom, hiding in some box, is a collection of pictures that I put together for my bulletin board.  I usually do this huge “free association” display and cover my bulletin boards – the range of things that Nancy Farmer pulls into the story is amazing.  I try to have everything from opium production to the chupacabras on there.  Reading is about making connections between the book you are reading and all sorts of things:  other books, TV shows, popular culture and more.

Enter Peter Rabbit.  There are quite a few references to Peter in the story (they call him Pedro el Conejo but they still call the farmer MacGregor).  Matt really relates to the rabbit, and there’s even an evil (opium) farmer MacGregor.  In my previous entry, I mentioned that Latino students could relate to many of the references.  But I wasn’t sure about Peter Rabbit.  So I started looking for pix.

Lucky me – I landed on a digital copy of the book on  Project Gutenberg also has an older copy not illustrated by Beatrix Potter.  I was going to just read it aloud, but then I decided that I needed visuals.  So I decided to make a PowerPoint Presentation.  After trying to copy the pictures and the text separately, I came up with an easier solution.

First, I converted the page into a PDF file using Bullzip PDF.  It was as easy as pressing “Print”.  Then, I used the snapshot tool to cut out chunks that had both pictures and text (Just choose Tools>Select & Zoom>Snapshot Tool and use the framing tool to choose what you want to copy) and pasted them into blank PowerPoint slides.  I plan to use my projector tomorrow to show it.  Fun, huh?

Do you think I could have them do a literary essay on the references to Pedro el Conejo in House of the Scorpion?  Well, I can dream…

Return to House of the Scorpion



It’s been about two years since I have read House of the Scorpion (written by Nancy Farmer) with my ELL classes.  It’s a big book, and I never would have thought of using it, but about 4 or 5 years ago one of my classes insisted that we read it.  They loved it.  Even though it deals with complex subjects like cloning and communism and opium production, there is enough Mexican culture and references for Latino students to make a personal connection.  A couple of students said it was the best book they had ever read.  And those were kids that did NOT like to read.  In the past, I have checked out the book on CD at the Cobb County Public Library to “read” to the students.  They also have to look at the words in the book – model of correct pronunciation and intonation, of course.

The book is read by Robert Ramirez, who is one of my favorite professional narrators.  He speaks slowly and clearly, and does a mean Scottish accent for Tam Lin.  I had also ordered the book on cassettes, but with multiple classes, a CD is easier to use.  The book is 380 pages long, and the narration takes 12 and 1/2 hours.  So, meticulous planner that I am, I divide up the book into manageable chunks to listen to each day.  It can take from 14 days (for the really motivated) to a month to read.  If you want them to do any kind of reflection or work on the book, it may take longer.

Just before the holidays, I came across a copy of the book on CD on  It had been almost impossible to find outside of the lending library, so I snapped it up.  I set it aside until this week.  Monday was a Work Day, and after I spent hours straightening up and sweeping out my classroom, I decided to open up the package.  To my surprise, it was a different version, with a different narrator – a man by the name of Raul Esparza.  I also noted that the running time was supposed to be approximately 10 hours long.  What???  I checked to make sure it was unabridged.  It was.

How can that be?

I started listening to it on the way home in the car and noticed some differences.  The biggest one is that Raul reads and speaks faster than Robert.  But so fast that he can shave 2 and 1/2 hours off of the listening time?  Whoa.  He also has a different approach to the phrasing and to the expression of the characters.  I guess that’s the professional’s call.  Yes, his Scottish accent is also good – and I like that he gave Tom a vaguely Texas accent.  Still, I was not convinced that changing readers in mid-stream was what I wanted to do.  I was contemplating going back to the library for Robert on CD.

Instead, I decided to try an experiment.  I would play the Robert Ramirez version for my first period class, and record the time it took to read Chapters 1 thru 3.  Then, I would play the Raul Esparza version for my more advanced second period class – and time that.  How very scientific, huh?  I also was going to take into consideration whether I might need to use the slower version for my lower (really, they’re intermediate) listeners.  The results?  It took Robert 43 minutes to read from page 2 to page 21 – we didn’t even finish Chapter 3.  It only took Raul 43 minutes to read from page 2 to page 24 – finishing Chapter 3.  I took a poll of my students, and they swear that they can understand what he is saying.  I will keep monitoring them though, and will see if I need to slow down later.  For now, we will go with Raul.

I still love you, Robert – and I will always have my students listen to your version of “La Guera” in Gary Soto’s book of short stories (Petty Crimes).

Chinese Themed Gift Book


I made one similar to this as my first try, then tightened it up once I got more experienced.  The cover is a brocade with dragons on it and the binding and inner liner is from a holographic folder.  I used red envelopes to put the gift cards in and made the tags out of Asian papers I have been collecting.




chinesewithcouponswpressI just happened to have the Fortune Teller Fish hanging around.  We tried to use it, but the ceiling fan kept blowing it off of my nephew’s hand!

Yesterday afternoon, we went to see the Chinese Terracotta Army exhibit at the High Museum.  Man, it was crowded.  I had already seen King Tut in New Orleans when I was a teenager, so I should have expected the line.

The good thing was that we had ordered tickets online the night before.  That saved a LOT of time in line.  The bad thing was that my husband’s right foot was bothering him.  He thinks that he has a stress fracture and will see a podiatrist on Monday.  But, in the meantime, he didn’t want to aggravate it by walking.

So, we got him a wheelchair.  Yes. We. Did.

It wasn’t too bad, I guess.  We didn’t get to go right up to the front of the line, however.  I had to wind around with the others while “Crip” waited patiently in his wheelchair.  When I got to the elevator with him, we went up and he manned his own chair.  Believe me, it was slow going at times, because the crowd was not easily parted so that he could get a good look at the exhibit items.  Although, I kind of expected more stuff, it seemed like a plenty long excursion after we were done!

Happy New Year!


It’s been a pretty busy Christmas holiday – we went to The Northshore for the main event.  My husband, the dog, and I stayed in a little family house in Abita Springs with my dad and his dog.  The weather was bizarre: freezing when we got there and in the 80s by the time we left.  We had the requisite raw oysters, gumbo, pralines, and po boys.   I only objected to one thing:  the candy cane shaped kings cake.  That is – well, if not a travesty – overkill.  Are we going to now have kings cake all year around?  Can’t anything be seasonal?  Can’t we WAIT until January 6th?

I blame it on Peeps.

My Christmas gift card books were a hit.  I also managed to slap together a calendar for my Mom and Dad that includes some of my other collages.  I will fine tune it later.  I was able to have it delivered just in time to my sister’s house – cool!  I also instigated a little project for Christmas Eve and Day.  I brought along one of my blank Goose Game boards and a set of Sharpie markers and urged everyone to draw little pictures in the squares.  I plan on finishing it up and sending copies to the family later.

When we got back, we had a raclette party over at my in-laws house for a late Christmas.  I’ve been shopping for a new agenda (I think I have decided against a DIY one – too much process that could be used on other art).  I have mostly been taking it easy, but there are some things on my “to do” list that I will need to get done between today and Monday.

What else?  Oh, I finished New Moon.  Whatever.