Summer Selfie Giveaway

Hello! Summer is coming! And with the sunny days, I want to thank the wonderful people who have bought my designs at Cafepress. I’m a graphic designer who sells funny and snarky stuff at Cafepress. My customers rock and deserve something nice! I am holding a summer selfie contest for my awesome customers to thank them for their purchases.

All you have to do is take a selfie of you wearing or holding one of my designs and post it to the Malarkey Pie Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MalarkeyPie or tweet it to me @AltheaRizzo by June 21, 2014. On June 22, 2014, I will randomly pick one selfie poster to receive a t-shirt or coffee mug with their choice of design. Bought more than one thing? Then you can enter with each item!

Haven’t bought anything from me yet, but want to get in on the hot action? There is still time to order something and send in the selfie. Who knows, YOU might win something awesome!

If you want to see my new designs, check out http://www.cafepress.com/malarkeypie. The proceeds from Cafepress go to help me pay down my student loans faster. So with each t-shirt, coffee mug, or messenger bag I sell, I get out of student debt slavery all the faster! So thank you very much!!!

Read more about my struggle with student debt here:

Which part of the American dream won’t I have?

12 Great Summer Reads and the Bags to carry them in

12 Summer Reads

And along comes summer with all the lazy days spent in pursuits to refresh the soul. The tradition of summer reading is long and for good reason. We spend our days rushing about tending to the need for food and shelter. Summer is time to take a breath, see the sky, and open the mind.
This post is all about summer reading, lounging on the beach, and finding just the right bag to tote those books around in. So toss in your sunscreen, big floppy hat and head into richly textured world of other worlds and lives…

 

1. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

“Diana Gabaldon’s century-spanning Outlander series deserves its avid fanbase. It’s making the leap to TV on Starz this summer, so now’s the time to devour the whole steamy series–including book 8, out in June.” –Mari Malcolm

 

OK, Who out there ISN’T excited about the Outlander series coming to the teevee? Get your Diana Gabaldon fix right here!

And the perfect compliment for all that glorious Scottish scenery (wink wink, nudge nudge) is the Celtic Triskele in highland perfect  greens and purples.

 

Celtic Triskele

Celtic Triskele

 

2. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

 

“Half a King has young adults in mind, but doesn’t leave adults behind. In this coming-of-age fantasy tale we follow a reluctant new king through betrayal, hardship, adventure, self-discovery, and some excellent twists.” –Robin Rothman

 

 

The perfect accompaniment to a summer romp through history, the “Chivalry isn’t dead” design.

 

_Pinterest Summer Reads Blog Chivalry

Chivalry isn’t dead… you can find it were you offer it.

 

3. The Lincoln Myth: A Novel by Steve Berry

 

New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry returns with his latest thriller, a Cotton Malone adventure involving a flaw in the United States Constitution, a mystery about Abraham Lincoln, and a political issue that’s as explosive as it is timely—not only in Malone’s world, but in ours.

 

 

And speaking of myths and Lincoln, don’t you just love a good internet meme? I mean, just take the one about Lincoln quotes on the internet …

 

The thing about quotes on the Internet is that you can not confirm their validity -- Abraham Lincoln

The thing about quotes on the Internet is that you can not confirm their validity — Abraham Lincoln

 

4. Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

 

I can hardly keep up with the teen sci-fi drama that moves from book to screen. But this series looks to be a universe that will keep us entertained until the next sexy dystopia comes along.

 

 

Science fiction, at least good science fiction, alway tells us more about being human. It informs us and asks many hard questions. The very best science fiction, also gives us the ability to laugh at our own foibles.

 

Diagonally parked in a parallel universe....

Diagonally parked in a parallel universe….

 

5. Hard Choices. by Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

Our next President has written a book. It seems to be the Thing to Do. Perhaps we should check it out and see what she has been up to.

 

 

Of course, we can expect that there will be some folks in the good ole U.S. of A. that will continue with the major freak out that has been going on since Barak Obama as first conceived…. as a viable candidate for President. At least she’s white, even if she does have lady-parts. She maybe she will only be half as irrationally hated.
So hat tip to all my feminist friends out there…

 

This is what a feminist looks like!

This is what a feminist looks like!

 

6. Euphoria by Lily King

 

“This historical novel–based on the life of Margaret Mead–is brainy, but sexier and more fun than you might think a book about an anthropologist might be.” –Sara Nelson

I have a soft spot in my heart for sexy anthropologists, although Margaret Mead isn’t usually the one that comes to mind. But she did have some very interesting things to say about sex.

 

 

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. — Dorothy Parker

 

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. -- Dorothy Parker

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. — Dorothy Parker

 

7. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

 

“What happens when an ugly rumor takes on a life of its own? Multiple narrators expose how far people will go to be liked and how little the truth seems to matter.” –Seira Wilson

 

 

We’ve all been there. Rumors and gossip taking the joy out of the day. Well, let the chaos monkeys fly. Get out there and be yourself!

 

Sing like no is watching

Sing like no is watching

 

8. The Heist by Daniel Silva

 

“I’ve developed a man-crush on Silva’s brainy, brutal artist/assassin/spy, Gabriel Allon, who in The Heist is on the hunt for a stolen Caravaggio masterpiece.” –Neal Thompson

 

 

This is the token MAN book. So this calls for MAN food. BACON! Bacon! Bacon! Gimmee salty fatty pig parts and gimme now! I want Bacon!

 

Bacon will save the World. I don't know how. But trust me. It will.

Bacon will save the World. I don’t know how. But trust me. It will.

 

9. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

 

 

Sometimes reading a good book is the best reward. So we are shopping for a house now, and while $650,000 for a domicile is a wee bit out of our league, it did have a formal library. Want! I figure that if I sell about 1.5 million t-shirts, coffee mugs or tote bags, then I can buy that formal library. So get to it! Buy something! :D

 

All I want is Peace, Love, Understanding, and a Library as big as the Grand Canyon.

All I want is Peace, Love, Understanding, and a Library as big as the Grand Canyon.

 

10. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I like stories where the Princess does her own damn rescuing. Prince Charming is nice and all, but a girl has gotta do what a girl has gotta do.

 

 

With all the stories in the news that has our elder sisters and mothers wondering why we continue to still fight the battle for equal rights , it is important to keep moving forward. Be strong, be powerful, be AMAZING!

 

Princess be doing her own rescuing

Princess be doing her own rescuing

 

11. Top Secret – Twenty One by Janet Evonovich

 

Ok, let me just say this….. SQUEE! I love the Stephanie Plum stories. I loved the movie, One for the Money
and want MOAR! This series (along with the Discworld series) are the go-to books on tape that we listen to on long road trips.

 

 

I think I need to make Stephanie her own cupcake tote bag, but until then, here, have a lemon drop!

 

When Life gives you lemons, add vodka.

When Life gives you lemons, add vodka.

 

12. Raising Steam by Sir Terry Pratchett

 

I am saving the best for last. I am a late comer to the Discworld series and regret every moment I missed knowing about the awesomeness of Sir Terry Pratchett. His books are funny, insightful, compelling, farcical and deeply moving. My personal favorite is Thud! .

 

 

The quote that Pratchett “borrows” from Juvenal is just as apt today as it was in the days of Rome’s glory. Who watches the watcher? Indeed. Who?

 

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

 

If you want to check out all of the bag and totes at Malarkey Pie, go here.

And before you rush out to get your books and tote bags, I want to let you in on the back story here. You may have heard of the student debt crisis that is facing the U.S. right now. Millions of students, eager to improve their lot in life, face the reality that unless your last name is Trump, you will likely graduate from college with sizable student debt. I am no exception

I finished graduate school in 2010 and have since then been working for the State of Oregon in a job that I love. I don’t really love the mounds of student debt that is keeping me from saving for retirement or saving to buy a home. So I started selling t-shirts and other gift items to pay down my loans faster. So when you purchase either on of these books from Amazon or tote bags from Cafepress, you are helping out.

If these designs aren’t your thing, check out these other posts…

7 Great Teacher Appreciation Gifts!

Seven Great Teacher T-Shirts!

Seven Great Teacher T-Shirts!

Everyone has a story to tell and great teachers help us to learn  how to tell that story. With the school year coming to an end, take some time to show your appreciation for everything that your teacher has done this last year. The late nights at events at school grading papers… the way they buy school supplies out of their own money… how they pour their hearts and souls into our precious offspring. You can find great gift ideas at my Cafepress t-shirt shop. And if you want to learn more about why I am selling these t-shirts, follow the link at the end of this post. But for now, I hope you like these clever designs!

 

1. My students have an awesome teacher!

 

My students have an awesome teacher!

My students have an awesome teacher!

This design looks great on a pink t-shirt for your favorite teacher. It also comes on coffee mugs and tote bags.

Pretty in Pink!

Pretty in Pink!

 

2. Cool Teacher!

 

Cool Teacher!

Cool Teacher!

Not everyone is lucky enough to be “Cool” but your teacher gots it! Don’t you think that they would look marvelous sporting this t-shirt?

Cool Teacher!

Cool Teacher!


 
 



         
 
 

3. Alphabet Elemenopee

 

Learning your alphabet is the start of the wonderful journey of becoming a reader which leads to creative and fruitful lives. But doesn’t make a sing-song out of saying the alphabet. This adorable design brings back that giggling fun of childhood.

 

Fun Alphabet!

Fun Alphabet!

 

Put this alphabet design on a tote bag so your favorite teacher can carry their supplies in style!

 

Elemenopee!

Elemenopee!

 

4. Education is the key to unlock the golden door of Freedom.

 

George Washington Carver was a great thinker. A quote of his gives rise to this Victorian inspired design perfect for the history geek in your life.

 

Education is the Key to unlock the golden doors of Freedom. - George Washington Carver

Education is the Key to unlock the golden doors of Freedom. – George Washington Carver

 

The teachers in our schools help to form the person our children will become. Let them know how important that job is by giving them this t-shirt.

 

teacher_education_is_the_key_tshirt

 

5. World’s Best Teacher

 

While we could argue for hours who is the Best Teacher in the World, but you can show your preference by giving this design on a t-shirt or mug!

 

World's Best Teacher

World’s Best Teacher

 

Bright red apples may have been the gift of choice in the past, but today we give t-shirts so we don’t have naked teachers running amok during summer break.

worlds_best_teacher_red_apple_jr_football_tshir

 

6. Teaching is a work of Heart

 

No one can doubt that teachers pour their heart on soul into educating the minds of the young. Honor that dedication and hard work by making sure they can stay reasonably caffeinated and hydrated. Because a dehydrated and de-caffeinated teacher is what we call in academic circles, a zombie. And we all know how THAT always ends.

 

Teaching is a work of heart

Teaching is a work of heart

 

teaching_is_a_work_of_heart_mugs

 

7. I’m a science teacher. What’s your superpower?

 

Teachers are superheroes, plain and simple. The Avengers have nothing of the bravery and tenacity of those who join the ranks of educators. They may not always wear capes but they can wear an awesome t-shirt.

 

I teach. What's your superpower?

I teach. What’s your superpower?

 

Teaching is not for the weak. It is for those who believe in the power of thought, of ideas, of honor, and hard work. Show your appreciation for your local educator super hero by giving them an end of the year gift!

 

i_teach_science_tee

So, here are some excellent ideas for you when you are shopping for something to give those excellent teachers in your life. I sell these designs on t-shirts and other gift items in order to pay down my student debt. I finished graduate school with significant debt, as many do. But this hurts the economic well-being of an entire generation of students who need higher education to achieve success. So help a girl out and make a teacher happy at the same time!

If you want to learn more about my journey to get clear of my student debt, check out these posts.

5 Great Mother’s Day t-shirts for your crafty Mom

Does your mom go by the old adage that “she who dies with the most fabric wins”? ARe you likely to find piles of fabric in a vast rainbow of colors in her closets and sewing room? Are you looking for a unique gift to give your mom on this Mother’s Day? Then check out these top 5 t-shirt designs for your crafty maternal units!

1. It’s not a hobby. It’s a post-apocalyptic life skill.

CRAFT It's not a hobby

 

 

2. Know your cuts of lamb

CRAFT Know your cuts of lamb

 

3. Yarned and Dangerous

Crafts Yarned and dangerous

 

 

4. I am not easily distracted. Oh, look! Yarn!

Craft Distracted by yarn

 

5. I sew, therefore, I rip!

Craft I sew therefore I rip

 

My daughter is starting at Oregon State University in the fall. And gee, wouldn’t you know, I still have student loans of my own to pay off from graduate school. Let’s hear it for multi-generational student debt. I am selling this t-shirts and gifts to pay off my students which you can read about in other blog posts. (here and here). So, help a girl out and get an awesome t-shirt for your Mom at the same time. Or coffee mug. or messenger bag. or tote bag!

Which part of the American dream won’t I have?

I have student loan debt which means that I will probably never own my own home. I will not be able to help my kids with their college expenses. I won’t be able to save for retirement. I will not be able to travel to the European museums like I want to do.

 

This is what I signed on to when I decided to pursue my doctoral degree. I knew it was expensive and I knew that it would alter my personal and professional landscape for the rest of my life. And I knew that it would be (mostly) worth it. The job track I currently am on fills my heart and soul with meaning and purpose. The doctoral degree made this possible. I love my job, and the people I work with, and the people I serve.

 

I just wish my country valued education like it should. If Congress upholds it’s side of the bargain, after working in state government for 10 years, the balance of my federal loans will be written off. This is thanks to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. (http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service)

Learn more about how I am selling t-shirts and coffee mugs to pay off my student loans faster. You can find geeky snarky t-shirts at my Cafepress shop, Malarkey Pie.

5 Great Pi Day T-Shirts and Gifts!

Get your Pi here!

Get your Pi here!

 

I’ve been busy designing new t-shirts for the upcoming International Pi Day on March 14. I hope you like them!

This first one is for all you raiding pirate lovers!

1. Pi Day is for Pi-rates!

Arrr!

Arrr!

 

2. Who doesn’t love a Pi Rat?

 

so cuddly!

so cuddly!

3. Sweet Cherry Pie

 

Sweet!

Sweet!

4. And along comes Cow Pi!

Squishy!

Squishy!

5. And we can’t get enough of sweet cherry pi!

Retro woodcut illustraiton

Retro woodcut illustration

Pi Day is coming! Pi Day is coming!

 

Come to the dork side, we have pie

Who doesn’t love pie? Seriously. Who? I will tell ya who…. geeks, nerds, scientists and mathematicians of all stripes. Ok, well, just about everybody loves pie.

I’m not here today to talk about PIE, but about PI. The mathematical constant that relates a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter and is often shortened to 3.14159, or even 3.14. Actually the number is infinite. It goes on and on and on and on and on and … It is an irrational number, meaning it can’t be defined using common fractions. So it’s a bit of a conundrum as you can never really find the square of a circle using a compass and a straight edge.

It has also spawned an International Pi Day, observed on March 14 (Get it? 3/14?) that started, of course, in San Francisco as all good counter culture movements have in the past 5/10ths of a century. A fine gent by the name of Larry Shaw started the first Pie Day at the Exploratorium in San Francisco by eating pie on March 14, 1988. Since then it has become a beloved, yet little-known holiday … except to the geeks who observe it.

Larry Shaw, the founder of Pi Day, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (Ronhip (Ron Hipschman), uploaded to the Commons by Furfur on 22-Jul-08)

Since I love geeks, but think they really shouldn’t be running about naked (think of the children! And the cold cold winter!), I have a bunch of t-shirts and hoodies over at Cafepress perfect for wearing on Pi Day. And since my student loans won’t pay themselves off, the proceeds will help me end my debt slavery. So be a darling and get a t-shirt or two. I will be adding new posts and t-shirt designs here regularly throughout the month leading up to Pi Day. There might also be recipes for pie. I also welcome suggestions for new concepts, and new pie recipes.

So help a fellow geek out and fly your Pi High …..

How have you celebrated Pi Day in the past? What are your amazing plans for this year?

Confessions of a student loan statistic

Student is debt slavery

Crush student debt before it crushes us!

 

I admit it, I am a statistic. A student-debt-up-to-my-eyeballs-in-debt statistic. In 2010, I completed my seven year journey to obtain a doctoral degree and since I was a single mom and not really rolling in the dough, I acquired what is euphemistically called “student debt.” I don’t regret getting the degree as it has opened whole worlds to me, but it would have been dandy if it didn’t leave me a financial cripple for the rest of my days.

My monthly student debt bill is $1095, which amounts to $13,140 per year. Add in a car payment (my trusty Blueberry died after 13 years of excellent service), insurance, and a small bit of credit card debt left over from my grad school days, and … yeah. Not much left over to help with the kid’s college savings or to save for a rainy day or to buy house or to contribute to retirement fund. My total debt after paying for three years, and paying off several smaller loans, is still over $140,000. How does that even happen? Obviously, my degree is not in finance. I work in state government, so if Congress holds up its end of the bargain, then about half of that (the federal loan half) will be expunged after 2019.

What would be helpful is if I could deduct the entire amount I pay, not just the interest up to $2,500 from my income when paying taxes. I know that my name is not Exxon Mobil or Goldman Sachs, but
surely we little people deserve that much.

People like me work hard at jobs we love. I really really love my job which I would not have if I didn’t have my degree.

Of course, if anyone has a spare $140,000 laying around, I wouldn’t be too proud to have some sugar daddy pay it off.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful …

…but the scones are so delightful!

So Oregon has been in the grip of a rare winter storm that has brought many many inches of snow to town. Now, most of you folks back east may scoff, but when your town only has two snowplows, it can be an issue to deal with. We took advantage of the Snow Day to bake some lemon scones…

Lemon scones

Lemon scones … with honey and butter

Later, it kept snowing so what do all good Scadians do when that happens? That’s right, kids, we get into garb and take pictures! So Luc (who was having NONE of that silly getting into garb and going into the snow action), Meghan and I trudged into the back yard, just as the light was starting to fail.

Oh the weather outside is frightful!

Oh the weather outside is frightful!

Handsome husband is handsome

Handsome husband is handsome

 

Snowy Persian!

Snowy Persian!

 

Mama likes the snow!

Mama likes the snow!

 

Could this be a snow ninja?

Could this be a snow ninja?

 

Much fun was had by all!

Much fun was had by all!

 

After taking the pictures, we came in to a warm house and a pot roast that has been cooking all day.

 

 

 

 

Snow Day!!!!

Today is a snow day! I have my coffee and there will be scones later. Oh yes, there WILL BE SCONES! And maybe a pot roast if I feel like braving the walk down to the market to pick up a cut of beef. I have some carrots and onions that are on their last legs and need to be cooked to yumminess soon.

The goal for today will be to get the taxes in order. This year is probably the last year it will be fairly simple. Next year I will have business expenses to fold in to the fun and games with the IRS. Which reminds me, the library book on home business tax deduction that I checked out is due soon. I need to finish it this weekend to help me to get my book keeping house in order. Maybe I’ll post something about some of the best tips that I find.

Speaking of planning ahead…. A future post will be a soul-baring outline of my student loan debt. Get ready for some scary stuff! I have been a bit of a coward and not really faced exactly how much student debt I really have. But I will start a series of posts here with quarterly check-ins to see how much (or how little … EEK!) debt I have managed to pay off. Check back often! I should try to find one of them thermometer thingys to make it very visual. Or do an infographic, since that seems to be all the rage these days.

So, I’m off to get a start on the day….