Ashby’s First Christmas

The little guy endured another 10 hour drive to Alabama, this time with a little help from Benadryl, and was rewarded with cuddles and PRESENTS!

Ashby and his stocking
Ashby and his stocking
Look at this cool toy!
Look at this cool toy!
ANOTHER TOY! He is thrilled.
ANOTHER TOY! He is thrilled.

He really did have a good time. Little guy was burrowing beneath all the wrapping paper while we unwrapped presents, it was adorable. And he was much more relaxed this trip, so he could enjoy being cuddled by all the grandparents.

Now, Ashby is recovering from all the excitement by sleeping all day in my bed. Total cat move.

 

 

Christmas Movie Marathon!

I realized the last time I wrote a blog post was my Halloween movie-watching list about the same moment I started reminiscing about my favorite Christmas movies. So it seems only fair to present this, my list of favorite Christmas movies I’m planning on re-watching this holiday season:

1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation- Apart from being a hilariously funny movie no matter how many times we watch it, this is a family tradition in the Johnson household. It is also my Papa’s favorite movie (after Patton and Lonesome Dove).

2. White Christmas &/or Holiday Inn- Some people are in two very separate camps where this movie is concerned, but I love both. Let’s be honest, either way you get Bing Crosby so everyone is happy!

3. The Nutcracker Ballet- I am a purist here. ONLY the Balanchine choreography will work for me here. One year I flipped one of those marathons that show the ballet from around the world and the crazy things other choreographers have done with this ballet is not ok with me. #BalanchineOrBust

4. Charlie Brown Christmas- I recently read that the part where Linus reads the book of Luke was a really controversial move at the time. Now, I am thinking it’s a good way to get out of Christmas Eve mass because Linus makes a great officiant.

5. Any of the Claymation specials- Rudolf, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, that one about Jack Frost, they’re all classics in my book.

6.The Preacher’s Wife- I haven’t seen this on in YEARS but it’s Whitney Houston singing Christmas music and Denzel Washington as an angel. ‘Nuff said.

7. A Chistmas Story-  This is just a good movie. It is a classic outside of being a good Christmas movie. I’ll probably have the marathon on all Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

Time for Halloween

candy corn
The pumpkins are the BEST

Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday. It takes place during the BEST season, there are all sorts of opportunities to get scared out of your mind, and then there are the ACTIVITIES! Pumpkin patches, pumpkin carving, apple picking, corn mazes, haunted houses. It’s so much to cram in!

Usually this time of year calls for re-watching of Halloween movie classics: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course, Halloween. But this year, hanks to the wonder of Netflix, I have a queue of movies I have never seen to frighten me all the way up to Halloween night!

1. The Lady Vanishes-  A lesser-known Hitchcock. In this, a young woman aboard a train suddenly vanishes and none of the passengers can recall seeing her.

2. Children of the Corn- I am ashamed I’ve never seen this Steven King classic . Creepy kids killing adults and taking over a small rural town? Yes please!

3. The Crow- Rock star comes back to life to exact revenge on those who killed him and his girlfriend. It’s like Batman for Halloween!

4. The Faculty- A 90s cult classic I haven’t seen in a while but can’t wait to re-watch! Aliens take over invasion of the body snatchers-style starting with the high school. 90s stars like Josh Hartnett and Clea DuVall fight back. Awesome-ness ensues.

5. The Frighteners- Another cult classic! In this one a shady psychic detective uses his abilities to boost his business. It’s got Michael J. Fox so it’s impossible to go wrong.

6. Slither- It looks and sounds like a farce, but from what I’ve heard this body-snatchers flick is full of fright and fun. Plus Nathan Fillion. Be still my heart.

7. House at the End of the Street- The most recent movie on my list and also the only thriller/slasher.  A family moves to town and finds out their neighbors’ house was the site of a double murder, and their teenage daughter (Jennifer Lawrence, again can’t go wrong) investigates.

I’m going to need more than just this list, so let me know some more creepy movies to add to my netflix queue!

Winter is Coming

The nights are getting cooler and the days are getting shorter. Already, the farmer’s market has cut Wednesdays out of its schedule and vendors are disappearing for the winter months.

Fall is my favorite time of year, but the transition from summer’s bounty of delicious fruits and veggies to the hearty squashes and root vegetables of winter is difficult…at first. Keeping with Rushing’s and my resolution to eat as much local food as we can, I decided make the most of the waning days of farmer’s market bounty by canning and freezing as much as I could.

First up was salsa! We go through an obscene amount of salsa, so when an ultimate frisbee teammate had a bumper crop of jalapenos, I knew exactly what to do. CAN!

Ingredients
Step One: Assemble ingredients and make salsa!
Decanting
Step 2: Decant salsa into jars. A funnel helps. But I don’t own one :(
Sealing!
Step 3: Seal! This was the hardest part. I had to try a couple of times on a batch.

My canning project yielded 10 jars of homemade salsa, now awaiting chips or tacos in our fridge and pantry.

The other project was freezing some summer vegetables for later in the season when they wouldn’t be available locally. I chose eggplant, bell peppers, green beans, and lots and lots of okra!

Frozen veggiesSince freezing tends to negatively impact the texture of fruits and veggies, I’m planning on using the eggplant and bell peppers sautéed in pasta dishes. The okra is going to make a whole mess of gumbo throughout the winter!

I know I missed some opportunities- peaches were too late in the season when I began freezing, and so was corn. But that just means something to try next year!

Ashby All Grown Up

It was inevitable, our little kitten was bound to become a cat (Though I refuse to call him that). Luckily, he still enjoys all the same activities he did when we brought him home 6 months (!) ago. For instance…

Playing in bags
Playing in bags
Playing in boxes.
Playing in boxes (though the sullen looks are new)
Playing in laundry. All the time.
Playing in laundry. All the time.

Yes, he’s just a larger version of his kitten self. Larger and more capable of getting into trouble, like with my brand new potted plants…silly guy. He’s still cute as anything!

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My Indoor-Outdoor Container Garden

This Labor Day weekend was the culmination of a gardening project we started earlier this winter: home composting for a container garden.

First, we started collecting organic waste on the kitchen  counter and composting in a plastic bin out on our porch. It was stinky and gross for the first few months, but now it is dark and not stinky at all!

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Earlier this spring, I used my composted materials and potting soil to grow a little outdoor container herb garden. Results have been mixed; I killed a basil plant and a cilantro plant, and might be on my way to killing another basil plant and another cilantro plant. But the marjoram and the mint are doing great!

My struggling basil plant
My struggling basil plant
From left-right: mint, cilantro, marjoram
From left-right: mint, cilantro, marjoram

I’ve been dying to get some living plants inside, and this weekend was the perfect excuse to take that project on.  After 3 trips to Ace hardware because I bought more plants than pots, I’ve ended up with 5 pots and 7.5 plants!

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My favorites are this Spider Plant and his friend the Purple Waffle:

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This colorful Croton in a bright pot:

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And this cute little guy:

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Hooray plants!

Nonprofit Vocabulary

I’ve found there is a fair amount of jargon if you’re not familiar with the nonprofit world. Even if you are, it helps to have a glossary handy just in case things start getting mixed up.

This is just a starter! If you have some terms you deal with every day in the nonprofit world, I’d love to heard about them.

Nonprofit

This is a legal distinction which means an organization does not operate for profit, does note have shareholders, and operates for either a religious, charitable, scientific, public safety, literary, or educational purpose, or for the purpose of fostering international sports or preventing cruelty to children or animals.

Foundation

An institution whose purpose is to distribute funds to colleges, schools, hospitals, charities and the like. These are the “big guns” that you hear as sponsors of NPR like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Community Foundation

Operating similarly to a foundation, community foundations manage the funds of many individual (or group) donors and carry out the charitable interests of those donors. Community foundations are usually geographically aligned with a specific area or state, for example here in the Triangle we have the Triangle Community Foundation.

501(c)(3)

Tax designation for most nonprofits, foundations, universities and nonprofit hospitals. Contributions to these groups are tax exempt, and all of these organizations are exempt from paying income tax. The “brief” description of this designation can be found on the IRS website.

501(c)(4)

These groups have started springing up more and more in the post-Citizens United ruling and are in the news quite a lot in the wake of the accusations against the IRS for targeting conservative political action groups. Technically, organizations under this designation promote “social welfare” and may take part in politics, elections, and lobbying. Unlike their (c)(3) cousins, contributions to these groups are not tax-deductible, and organizations do not have to disclose who their contributors are.

Grant

An award, which does not have to be repaid, usually given to a nonprofit organization but also to individuals. These awards may have certain strings attached, to which the grantee much comply in order to receive the grant and be eligible for future awards.

Matching Grant

This is a common example of a grant with strings attached. Many times for large campaigns, a foundation or grant-making authority will grant an organization money if that organization can match the amount given in other contributions. For example, the Rachel B. Johnson Foundation will award a $50,000 grant to the Ashby is a Cute Kitten Charity once the ACKC raises $50,000 from its other donors.

Endowment

Now we’re getting into the weeds! Once a nonprofit, foundation, etc. reaches the point where it has more than $250,000 in the bank at a time (the maximum the FDIC will insure), usually it will begin investing some of its assets in order to split up the amount into separate accounts which will be insure-able, and to continue growing its wealth.

The total value of an organization’s financial assets is known as its endowment, and can be organized (in legal terms) as a public charity, private foundation, or a trust. Beyond this there are some restrictions of how much money can be held in an endowment, particularly if you are a university, and the weeds start getting deeper. If you’re really really into this stuff, I’d check out the Wikipedia page as a starter.