April 17, 2012

Art for Children

I don’t think that I have established this before, but I am studying Early Childhood Education. It is what it sounds like, a major that focuses and the specific development and learning patterns of infants and young children.

One of the things that I enjoy is that I am often encouraged to use art for a number of projects. While this isn’t always something I enjoy the moment (because who really wants to do a big project for school), in retrospect, I’d rather be drawing than researching.

With the semester drawing to a close, I thought I’d show off some of my work this semester.

1) Hickory, Dickory, Dock: Needed to create a video aimed at literacy. I drew up some little pictures using oil pastels and put them together with some narration.

© Hillary Steckler

Check out the video!

2) Golem: Assignment, to read 25 Caldecott winning books, choose one and write and report and produce an original image to reflect the style and content of the book.

© Hillary Steckler

I chose the book Golem, for which all of the illustrations are created from cut and torn paper. I was sick during this assignment, so I had to work with what I had at home…7 colors of paper, and 1 size of scissor.

3) Children’s Song Picture Book: This huge project was for music methods in teaching. We were to choose a song from our text, illustrate and bind it into a book. I chose “Bobby Shaftoe.”

© Hillary Steckler

For the illustrations I used rough, recycled sketch paper and chalk pastels.

© Hillary Steckler

After the illustrations were completed, I scanned the images in at 1600 dpi. I took forever, but printed at full bleed on brochure paper, it was worth the wait.

© Hillary Steckler

Because the images were such large files, the text and music could not be imposed over the top. Instead, I waited for the ink to dry and then ran each page through again to receive the text. That means, each page went through the printer 4 times, as the pages were double sided. I was nervous that I would mess up on the last run through, but it came out beautifully.

© Hillary Steckler

April 16, 2012

10 Points to the Stecklers

A while ago I posted about my free sample obsession, and I suppose that this goes hand in hand with it, but I have also started using rewards sites. I had never been too impressed with the reward options, but figured I’d open a few accounts and give them a go…and today I am very happy with my decision.

Firstly, if you are a Disney fan, join Disney Movie Rewards. Do…it. I have only been a member for about 5 months, and I am not someone who sees or buys unused movies very often, and I have already accumulated enough points to get my first reward. I was able to order “The Other Side of Heaven” for free, with free shipping. I was so excited when I ordered it, but now I am even happier that (1) it actually came, and (2) it wasn’t a cheap “free” version. It came in a legit case, with special features and even a code for 75 more rewards points. I was sure it would just be in some kind of cardboard packaging, but no. Disney means business, and I should have never thought so low of them.

I’m already excited for my next point redemption. I am not 100% sure what I’ll get next, but I am sure I will stick with movies and they have several that I’m interested in.

Oh, as a side note, if you do decide to join, or already have joined Disney Movie Rewards, check out My Free Product Samples.com. Cher, the woman who runs the blog, keeps a post updated with all of the free Disney point codes. They are usually 5 or 10 points, but they add up fast if you stay on top of them.

January 27, 2012

The Cake Is A Lie

Okay, so I love Pinterest, but one thing about it drives me crazy. The number of ridiculously simple workouts posted with photoshopped images of trim women is getting a little too absurd to laugh at anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-photoshop, but seriously, take this popular pin:


Even assuming that this image wasn’t photoshopped, that short, unvaried workout would never equal this body, unless you already naturally had it. This one has the same problem:


Still a small workout being paired up with an model in an advertisement. Yet it’s being pinned and repinned with promises by pinners that they will start working out harder with this as their inspiration.

Essentially, Pinterest has mainstreamed the “thinspo.” A pop culture contraction of the words thin and inspiration, used to label pictures of thin women used by anorexic and bulimic people to inspire them in their quest for physical beauty.

So what’s the alternative? A “fitspo” may be more appropriate, but to what end? Fitness models are fixed before their pictures flood the web, and they all too often receive plastic surgery for areas that a clean diet and exercise would otherwise disrupt. Take these fitspo pins for example:



Women naturally have a higher percentage of body fat, primarily because it is stored in the chest. As a person loses weight and firms up, the chest is usually the first area to shrink, because it is the least essential. Because of this, many women in the fitness industry receive augmentation of some kind. This makes them about as bad for fitspos and models are for thinspos.

Luckily there are accurate representations of fitness on pinterest. This pin is very inspiring (though it was likely touched up for advertising purposes, at least she has her correct proportions, assuming it’s even the same person):


All in all, if people would just do exercises rather than create boards full of pictures of thin, busty women advertising bizarre eating habits and oversimplified work out plans, they would be a little healthier.

Also, check out this video that I found while I was looking around for pictures for this post. It’s about a professional fitness trainer who gets the full photoshop treatment.

November 27, 2011

New Obsession

There are a few things that can quickly turn any day around. They are (1) getting something in the mail, and (2) getting something for free. It was not until a few weeks ago that I figured out how to go about getting these two things in greater abundance.

As with any obsession story, it started on Facebook. I saw that one of my friends from high school kept commenting on a Facebook page called My Free Product Samples. I was intrigued so I checked it out. Sure enough there were links to free samples and coupons of all kinds. I signed up for the samples on the page that caught my eye, then followed the link back to the blog and signed up for some of the older samples that were still active. What did I have to lose? The worst that will happen (as long as the site is legit, and they most often are) is that they will send me junk mail, or junk email to an email address that I have dedicated to the process.

I was ecstatic when my first samples arrived and now I’m even more excited to check the mail each day, as I get something special almost every day. To date (I’ve started sending for samples at the beginning of November) these are the samples that I have received:

Free Samples

That’s not even including countless prints which are already filling up the pages of multiple photo albums. I’m super excited to try all of these products. The photo prints are all of a great quality and the two books pictured are great reads so far.

For anyone who is interested in trying for your own samples or interested in getting condensed news about cool discounts and coupons (I guess for some people those are cool) check out the Facebook pages below for my top sampling sites:

  1. My Free Product Samples
  2. Free Sample Frenzy
  3. Free Sample Momma
  4. Free Sample Freak
  5. Free Sample Deals
  6. Free Sample Agent

I will say that I am trying to get into couponing, but it really is a skill that is very foreign to me right now, mostly because I only see coupons for things that I don’t really want or need. However, I do expect some Suave, Lactaid and Breathe Right coupons in the mail over the next few weeks, all of which WILL be used.

September 16, 2011

Did Curiosity Kill the Cat?


No. A heart attack did.

I joined Pinterest a few weeks ago and since then I have had a non-stop flow of ideas of all sorts. Naturally the first thing I pinned was the same thing that makes it into almost everyone’s first 10 pins…Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I decided to make this my first “Pinterest” recipe to make at home, and oh boy was I in for a surprise.

The recipe itself is fairly easy. It’s just an Oreo with chocolate chip cookie dough wrapped around the outside. But let me tell you, these things are the real deal. They are huge.

They are not only as wide (or a little wider than) a normal chocolate chip cookie, but these bad boys are TALL.

As I ate the first one I though, I can eat a ton of chocolate chip cookies, and even more Oreos, in one sitting. This won’t fill me up. But no. It did.

As I scrambled for the milk, I could feel the sugar pulsing through me. Not like a normal sugar rush, but way more overwhelming. More like I was tripping on sugar.

That being said, these things are amazing. Try them. The Oreo literally melts in your mouth.

The recipe only makes 20, so eat one yourself and take the rest to a party or something. Everyone should have at least one of these during their lifetime.

September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

I was in my first month of 6th grade and had just made the move into middle school. Everything in my life was changing. I had a locker, wore a gym uniform and was making new friends.

Each morning before school I would watch TV, usually PBS, Disney or Animal Planet, while I ate breakfast and got ready for school. It was my young version of “me time” and I liked it that way. One morning, things were different. The phone rang sometime in the 6 o’clock hour and immediately following that my parents rushed downstairs to change the channel. I will admit, I was a little put off, but what I saw shocked me.

The first plane had already hit the World Trade Center. I could not fathom that anyone would do such a thing on purpose, and thought that it must have been an accident. I wanted to watch more but it was time for school.

The was easily the longest drive from my house to the school. We listened to the events on the radio as they unfolded. The second plane hit the WTO, the buildings became unstable and began to melt. It was then clear to me that it was not an accident.

School was eerily somber. While many of us knew what had happened, some did not know. When class started children began raising their hands asking questions like, “Can we watch the news?” and “Can we go home early?” Nobody was looking for an excuse to goof off. We didn’t understand what was happening and we were afraid and sad. An announcement came onto the intercom almost immediately telling us that we would not be going home early and that teachers should go on with their normal lessons.

That was a long day. I have never been more eager to get home and watch the news. After all, it was not until then that I actually saw the footage of the crumbling buildings, the people running through the streets covered in dust or the news of the two other planes. More and more information and footage seemed to come in by the minute. Some people had made it out of the building, while others leapt from the upper stories, some of them holding hands as they fell to their deaths. It felt surreal, but knowing that this was not a movie, this was real life, it was enough to put a pit in my stomach.

In my mind I was taken back to the only other time I had felt truly afraid or upset while watching the news, yet now, Columbine felt like such an insignificant thing.

As I continued through middle school and high school, terrorist attacks would happen in Europe, or be attempted in the United States. These often killed nobody, or only very few people and barely crossed our minds. We had become calloused to the reality of suicide bombings, hostages, explosive mines. Nothing could hold a candle to the 9-11 news footages.

Many boys from my high school went on to join the military. On February 21, 2010, my classmate Eric Ward was killed in action in Afghanistan. I never really knew him, but it was still surprising news. He, like others since 9-11 and up until now, gave his life to fight terrorism.

It was not until earlier this year (2011) that the elusive Osama bin Laden was finally found and killed during the raid of his compound. He had hid in his hatred and cowardice for nearly ten years.

Of course the war still goes on. We went from ten years ago, pulling together and setting aside our differences, to now, where people question the very ethics of defending ourselves against the people who want to destroy us. Politicians seem even lazier than before and people are once again complacent.

But I hope that as we are once again surrounded by the horrifying images of 9-11, we can remember not just those who suffered on that day, but how we became a country that provided so much freedom and opportunity, as to make nations without those things hate us.

God bless all those who still suffer from the loss of family and friends on that day, and bless all those who continue to fight on our nations behalf.

September 8, 2011

Outrun My Gun

I started hearing Pumped Up Kicks on the radio over the summer. I haven’t heard it since I got back to Utah, along with Little Lion Man (another one of my summer favorites).

This is such a happy upbeat song but check out the lyrics:

Robert's got a quick hand.
He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan.
He's got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he's a cowboy kid.
Yeah he found a six shooter gun.
In his dads closet hidden in a box of fun things, and I don't even know what.
But he's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you.

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you'd better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet.                                                                         

Daddy works a long day.
He be coming home late, yeah he's coming home late.
And he's bringing me a surprise.
'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice.
I've waited for a long time.
Yeah the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger,
I reason with my cigarette,
And say your hair's on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah.

An upbeat song that is also cleverly written. Not something you see a lot of. Of course I would have liked the music video to reflect a little more of the song’s meaning, but the director steering away from that may be to maintain the upbeat nature of the song.

Like everything else on the internet, this song attracts some strange comments of various websites. Some are kind of interesting, dissecting the song like you would in a high school literature class. Others are weirder…like the guy who said that they played this song at his dad’s funeral.

On that note, I have to compile a list of songs to file along with my will.

September 7, 2011


After our wedding, we flew out to New Orleans and then took the short drive out to Panama City Beach, Florida for our honeymoon. Nick planned it himself, and he did a fantastic job.

We stayed in a condo at Cabana Cay, right across the street from the beach. The pool was amazing. In fact, in walking and driving around town, I didn’t see another one that compared.

The beach was gorgeous. Fine white sand as far as the eye could see and waves that you could walk through without stepping on too many rocks (very unlike the beaches in Washington).

We built sand castles, walked around the boardwalk mall, played mini-golf and one night we even went crabbing. We caught 17 small sand crabs.

It was so much fun. We hope to go back again some time.