Mary's Recent Posts

Falk Harrison Supports Project Hope

Project Hope and Falk Harrison

For several years, Falk Harrison staffers have drawn names to exchange Christmas ornaments during the holiday season. This year we wanted to do something more meaningful by finding a way to help others. We decided to collect hats, gloves, scarves and shoes to donate to Project Hope.

Project Hope is an effort of the Early Childhood Special Education Program (ECSE) of Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD). ECSE serves approximately 1,250 students each year, and about 12 percent of them come from low-income families. The severity of disabilities ranges from difficulty articulating certain sounds to multiple disabilities and developmental disorders. Teachers and staff help the families who are having financial difficulties, not only during the holidays, but also throughout the year, often using money out of their own pockets.

ECSE staff began raising money in an organized way in 2009 and has raised over $50,000 and served hundreds of families. They provide basic needs such as clothing, coats, shoes, socks, diapers and food; they also provide for some medical expenses that are not fully covered by insurance, such as leg braces and orthotics, as well as adaptive equipment for specialized needs.

What touched us at Falk Harrison is that the teachers and staff began by addressing these needs on their own, and then went further by organizing an annual trivia fundraiser in their spare time so they could do even more for the students and families. We’re both proud and humbled to help in our small way. We have gathered a large bag full of brand-new goodies and plan to collect some gently used clothing items for staff to have on hand in the classrooms for the preschoolers in 2013. We hope our gifts of clothing bring a little joy and warmth to the recipients.

If you’d like to help, let me know and we’ll collect what you have to donate, or I’d be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate SSD personnel. Contact me at

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Blue Marble Images

Thanks to NPR’s Science Friday host Ira Flatow and multimedia editor Flora Lichtman for a fascinating look at how those inspiring and iconic images of the earth as seen from space are made. The segment discussed the history of these images since the first “earth rise” photo in 1968; there’s technical information about how the modern images are compiled from datasets, not photographs; and there are even little secrets about how the gaps are filled in. That will appeal to my designer friends! My favorite is the “pale blue dot” segment in the video, in which my hero, Carl Sagan, identified the earth as a “mote of dust in a sunbeam.”


Audio of the story on NPR can be found here, and is embedded below.

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Easy, Delicious Slow Cooker Chili

Just right for the busy holiday and football season

Jerre's Black Bean and Pork Tenderloin Slow Cooker Chili

I had only a little extra time to prepare dinner for my grandson’s 13th birthday a week before Christmas. I found this slow-cooker chili recipe, and what a lucky find! Rave reviews!

This is the best chili I have ever made – and the easiest. What made it easy?
1) Almost no chopping – just an onion and a red pepper – the rest of the veggies are in the salsa.
2) No browning ground meat. Just slice the pork tenderloin and toss it raw into the slow cooker. I did cube the meat rather than using slices. Note that the recipe says to break up the pieces of pork to thicken the chili when you serve it – it works.
3) I served it right out of my Crock Pot with corn bread baked in a cast-iron skillet and a salad. What could be easier?

Jerre Wippermann, the creator of the recipe, won third place in the St. Louis Slow Cooker Cook Off. I can understand why.

Do you have easy, delicious recipes to share for tree-trimming parties or football-watching marathons?

Jerre’s Black Bean and Pork Tenderloin Slow Cooker Chili
8 servings

1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 2 inch strips
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder

Combine pork tenderloin, onion, red pepper, black beans, salsa, chicken broth, oregano, cumin, and chili powder in a slow cooker. Set to Low and cook for 8 to 10 hours.
Break up pieces of cooked pork to thicken the chili before serving.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving Calories: 99 | Total Fat: 2.3g | Cholesterol: 37mg

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Google Art Project

No Woman, No Cry by Chris Ofili from the Tate Britain.

An unbelievable resource debuted February 1, 2011: Google Art Project – Fabulous works from 17 (so far) museums worldwide are available in incredibly high resolution. Besides viewing the artwork, you can explore the museums via virtual tours. You can create and share your own collections. Here’s a link to the visitor’s guide:

The accompanying images show the amazing amount of detail these high-resolution images capture. And – you can see in the frame of reference in the lower right that I’m framed in only about half of the way. Here’s a link to the actual image you see above:


Where do you want to start exploring? Beware: Time bandit!

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