Monday, December 31, 2007

The celebratory New Year's Eve post

Here in the A&R household, we've resolved to see in the new year with risotto, mead (the champagne of beers, though it really isn't a beer at all), and video games. I was going to make baked oysters, but one look at the supermarket convinced us to put it off until later in the week. Shopping madness. I was gone all week! What's their excuse?

Being the last day of the year, it's time to look back on the goals I set for myself at its beginning. To recap:

The Goals:

1. Continue exercising several times a week, and don't slack off when school gets busy. Just think of all the complements you got this Christmas, and also keep in mind Grandma's quip about how she hopes they can also expand the ring when you told her about how you had to get it re-sized smaller. Grr.

2. Continue doing the readings for class on time. It really paid off last quarter, so don't get lazy.

3. Get a firm figure on how much money Dad will be contributing to the wedding. We don't want a repeat of what happened when we went of to college, now do we?

4. Reserve a ceremony and reception location and a caterer this summer for next summer's wedding, so that these tasks don't have to be done during the school year.

5. Post, on average, every other day. I think I'll be shooting for every day, but life just gets in the way sometimes.

6. Send people cards on their birthdays.

How I fared:

1. I've actually been quite successful in this endeavor. I slacked off a bit after moving to the new house, but have since recovered since becoming the owner of a nice new treadmill. Our continuing passion for mountain biking, snorkeling, and other outdoor activities has also helped. I haven't really lost any more weight, but have changed shape a bit. I'm just prone to adding muscle, which masks any changes in fat mass.

2. I did my best for the first half of the year, but have since given up. I almost didn't buy the books for my classes this past quarter and somewhat regret doing so (or at least buying all of them). However, most of my classmates have similarly given up, as the books, while containing useful information, have little to do with what we are doing in class and take up valuable time that could be spent planning or sleeping.

3. Not only did I get a figure from my dad, but the money has been sitting in my bank account for the last six months collecting interest. Score! I'm really relieved to have it conveniently accessible for when I actually start making reservations and the like. Oh, February, you can't come fast enough for my taste!

4. I've done the best I can at this one, but unfortunately the place we've picked doesn't finalize its booking schedule until February. We're on the top of the list, but could get bumped by a summer camp or some other big event, however the lady handling the whole affair says that August is normally a calm time so it shouldn't be a problem. The place requires us to use their caterers, so that will be two birds with one stone. We just have to wait a little longer (can you tell I'm slightly antsy for this all to be put in writing already?).

5. Success! I've got a total of 259 entries for the year--more than meeting my goal. Even breaking it down month-by-month, I've still posted (on average) at least every other day. Go me!

6. Medium. I did better than last year, but I still think I could be better at this.

Temperature shock

Home again, safe and sound and mostly healthy. Feeling a lot better than I was, in any case. We're undergoing a bit of a shock, going from Montana (around freezing) to San Diego (mid-70's today). On our shopping excursion today we were all wishing it was a little cooler, as the car was very hot and stuffy.

Isn't this the oddest photo? This was written on the floor the garage when we moved into the place.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

X-mas!

The sounds of Christmas

[tink] [tink] [tink]
[twang] [twang]
[tink] [twang]
"Agh! It's vibrating my face."

(We got everyone mouth harps as stocking stuffers.)

New firsts

1st white Christmas (within memory). I may have had one when I was three, but all I can remember is the airport and my grandparents' awesome patchwork carpet.

1st game of Settlers of Catan. I can totally see why my high school friends are all obsessed with the game, as it's really fun.

1st case of strep throat. Yay!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Greetings from the road

Salutations from Provo, Utah, home of BYU and a supermarket that goes by the name of Ream's. Slightly incongruous, but there you go. Here are the tales and highlights of the trip so far:

I finally managed to see the famed chocolate fountain at the Bellagio. Last time we were there, R and I searched high and low with no luck. Fortunately for us, R's sister had been there previously, so she served as our guide to moderate marvel that was the fountain. R and I felt slightly silly upon discovering that the fountain was really easy to find. We had passed within 50 yards of the thing while originally searching for it.

Apparently snow makes me want ice cream. We pulled off at a gas station while in Utah and I was thrilled to see a Dairy Queen. I ran inside to get one of those chocolate dipped soft-serve ice cream cones. Delicious! I think there might be something wrong with my family, as during a trip up Alaska's inland passage with my mother and sister we spent the entire time looking for ice cream. My sister had to have some cherry ice cream, so at every stop we would hop off the ferry and race around the tiny towns searching. We finally found some at the far end of our route, in Skagway. Perhaps it was all the searching, but it really did taste like the world's best ice cream.

While ordering at Burger King in Provo (R's family is strangely obsessed with eating there while traveling. Of course, R and I ate at nearly every Arby's between San Diego and Missoula, so I probably shouldn't be talking), I committed the most horrible and memorable slip of the tongue. I wanted to order a Firecracker TenderCrisp chicken sandwich, but when I opened my mouth what, to my dismay, came out? "Firecrapper." I almost died laughing. This is why I like those machines that take your order--no taking required!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And we're off

My very last pair of shoes will be serving my not-falling-on-my-ass needs in icy Montana. As my access to computers will be sporadic, I probably won't be posting much for the next week or so. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Feliz Kwanzaa! I'll see you New Year's eve... probably. We'll see how the driving goes. Wish up luck!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The all-shoe post

Given that I've been neglecting LaBloShoeMo for a few days, the only way to make it up to you is in a glut of shoe pictures.

These here are my lab shoes. I originally bought them because I was longing for a pair of red sneakers, but almost immediately after buying them I tried to put them on without unlacing them, irreparably crushing the soft, puffy backs of the shoes. As they were somewhat uncomfortable, I abandoned them for years in the back of the closet, unwilling to wear them yet unwilling to throw them away. During my time at the Health & Safety department at my university, I had to occasionally walk inside of labs during the course of making their emergency exit maps. As my preferred footwear is the sandal, that lead to a bit of conflict with my boss. In order to be able to wear sandals the rest of the day, I had to provide a pair of work shoes, something I wouldn't miss from my wardrobe. My red Vans wound up spending several years living under my desk at the university, and have seen many of the nooks and crannies of that fine institution. Exactly what I will do with them now that I no longer work there, I don't yet know.

Here are some more shoes I don't really wear that often. The white sandals I purchased for R's brother's wedding last summer. I've worn them a couple of times since, but they seem to have an agenda against my little toes, so I can't wear them for long.

The natural cotton China flats were originally part of my step-sister's renaissance fair costume, which she gave to me when she went back to Washington DC to live with her father. Unfortunately, I wound up giving away the costume when I moved down to San Diego (which I regret) and the shoes are the only part of it remaining in my possession. They are freakishly narrow (although it could also have something to do with the abnormal width of the front of my foot, as pointed out by the snowboard boot salesman), so I don't tend to wear them as they make one of the nerves in my foot twinge in pain.

The black flats I probably wear the most out of this group of shoes. Although you really can't see it in this picture, the front is gathered and there is a little bow. So cute! Still, a little narrow at the toe, so I get that twinging pain if I walk too much in them.

The brown kitten-heeled mules are really cute on their own, but look really odd when worn for some reason. I've never been able to understand it, but since they are rather impractical for walking up hills or stairs they've never been favored anyway.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The reason for the season

As R and I will be leaving Wednesday for Montana, today was spent finishing up last minute errands. Cards were sent, mail-order clothes that were nothing like they looked in the catalog were returned, and the tribute to be sent up North for she who produced me was purchased.

The request this year was for a nice new bathrobe. I scoured the mall, searching for something huge, luxuriant, and made of terrycloth. I finally found the perfect one--$138. Umm... no. Even though my sister and I are splitting the cost, I decided that I don't like the lady $70 worth. I wound up purchasing something acceptable, though not ideal, at Sears--originally $60, on sale for half price. Much more like it.

Just so you know that I'm not treating her too poorly, I will also be sending her a jar of huckleberry jam that I lovingly transported back from Montana last winter.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Recipe Review: Peppermint Bark Fudge

Another recipe from a blog I'm rather fond of, peppermint bark fudge is delicious and incredibly easy to make. I made a batch as a Christmas present for my grandparents, the little I ate of it was delicious, and also made a peppermint-free batch for the mint hater I live with. I couldn't believe how rich and chocolaty it was, considering how little time it took to make.

My only recommendation would be to line the pan that you use to chill the fudge, as even when chilled overnight the stuff is rather sticky. After prying the fudge out of the pan, I wound up dusting the bottom with powdered sugar so that the pieces in the box I was giving as a gift wouldn't stick together.

My latest realization

I have two biology classes. I teach them the same curriculum. Now that I have finalized the grades, one of the classes has two F's (one from a student who hasn't been there in two months, the other from a student who gave up very early in the class and has turned in almost nothing). My other class has sixteen F's--fully half the class is failing.

Now, earlier in the year, when both classes were struggling, I figured it was just because I was a new and inexperienced teacher. However, as the semester progressed and one class recovered while the other class continued to flounder, I began to suspect that there might be other factors at play in that classroom. Last night, I looked at the grades of my sixteen failing students. With only one or two exceptions, these students were also getting D's and F's in several of their other classes. Most of these students are not new to the school, so the administration knew that these kids were not the best students, and yet they put them all in the same class. Considering that I only have eight tables in the classroom, that is an average of two failing students per table.

I'd like to take a moment right here to clarify what I am trying to say. These students are not unteachable--they simply need more attention, an environment free of distractions, and a teacher who is experienced in devising stratagems to entice reluctant students into doing their work. Why the hell are they all in the same class? Why do they have me teaching them? This is not serving the best interests of the students!

Tip of the day

Don't get Italian salad dressing in your eye. It really burns, probably due to the vinegar, though I doubt the spices help the matter any.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unpleasant business

As I was trying to give my students every opportunity to bring their grades up, I missed the deadline to have letters sent home informing the parents about intersession (where students with high F's due to missed work can raise their grades to D's and avoid summer school), and therefore have to personally call the parents. I think it is rather hard on some of the sixth grade parents, as for many I'm the harbinger of the ill news that their child is not handling the transition from elementary to middle school gracefully. They ask why, but receive no consolation when answered that they child won't even do their work when I'm standing there prompting them. The bright spot in all this is that most of my failing ninth graders failed in a rather impressive way (meaning they did absolutely nothing and don't have a prayer of raising their grade to passing level), so I won't have to call their parents.

LaBloShoeMo

What you are witnessing here is the first time I have worn these shoes since I purchased them. Perhaps I'll wear them tomorrow, now that this fact has been brought to my attention.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

t = (V - 2)

Where V = vacation, of course.

For a week of short days, it has been a rather exhausting several days. I've been scrambling about, trying to get things finished and graded, constantly being interrupted by classes that I need to teach. Once you're used to a block schedule, regular periods just seem so short. It doesn't help that my afternoons have been taken up with student presentations. After 3 hours of them, I am hardly fit to think, let alone grade. Plus, the students! You would hardly believe it (although, I suppose, it is all too typical). They're clamoring to bring their grades up, though not seeming to understand that they need to do work in order for that to happen. I've been spending this whole week trying to get my sixth graders to make up all the work they're missing, with mixed results. I've settled for combing through their binders in order to find all the work they could be turning in, however it just isn't enough for most of them. Currently, there are two A-'s in the class and all the other grades are D's or F's. I even made them little packets of all the handouts they were missing, only to have them show up during advisory and ask what they needed to do to raise their grades. Argh! I've been telling them what to do all week!

Looking at the positives, though, I saw my problem class for the last time today. On Friday, (nearly) all the ninth graders will be going to see The Nutcracker, so the few students I may have remaining I can apparently just drop off in a specified classroom and I therefore get to take the period off. What joy!

LaBloShoeMo

Ah, here are another two pairs of shoes that I don't wear. Back in high school I used to wear China flats all the time, however once I got to college I found myself having to walk such great hilly distances across campus that this type of shoe no longer served my needs. They're so cute that I can't bring myself to give them away, but since they're very thin and take up little storage space I don't mind keeping them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I've made a new enemy

I dumped a nearly full Monster down the sink today, further alienating an already alienated student. My school, like many others, has a no food policy inside the buildings. Water is allowed, but nothing else. The kids know that, but, much like the no hat policy, they are always trying to see what they can get away with. This one decided to pop open a beverage, in hopes that I wouldn't notice or wouldn't take it away from him if I did. Umm... Wrong. Especially since the guy sits at one of my noisiest tables.

LaBloShoeMo

These are my witchy shoes. I purchased them used for the sole purpose of looking evil for a witch costume. I've only worn them once, and never plan on wearing them again, but for some reason I can't bring myself to get rid of them. The idea that someone bought these with the intention of wearing them in a everyday situation still cracks me up, though.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

To think I made it this long

Today I learned that the song lyric is "secret agent man," not "secret Asian man."

LaBloShoeMo

Above is the reason I didn't post yesterday: I was busy picking out my Christmas present. New boots! Beautiful boots. Comfortable boots. Boots with a lining that has been heat-molded to the shape of my foot. Boots a half-size larger than my old pair; a half-size larger than the guy at the store recommended.

I swear, there is some sort of sports store conspiracy to get everyone to buy snowboarding boots that are slightly too small for their feet. The first store we went to didn't have a very large selection, but while R and I were looking we overheard a customer commenting that the boots she was trying on felt to small and heard the sales associate launch into a tirade about how they were supposed to fit that way and you want your toes to be touching the front of the boot and it is better to get them small than too large.

I will tell you all now, having had boots slightly too small for my feet for the last four years, the sales people are lying to you. Yes, when crouching while wearing the boot it is fine for your toe to brush the front of the boot, but they should not always be touching. If they do, your foot will wind up hurting. You will wind up buying the thinnest socks you can find, at which point in time your toes will start becoming numb. Just resist the salesperson's pressure! They should be snug, but anything mildly uncomfortable will only get worse.

These are the boots that have served me faithfully for the last four years. If it wasn't for the fact that they make my toes go numb and I can only wear the thinnest of socks with them they could last me another five or ten years. If you can't tell from the picture, their laces are thinner than those of my new boots, making them much harder to lace. Even with all their issues, I still feel a little bad about replacing them before their time. They were my first boots. We've got a history.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Three in one

Recipe Review: Macaroni and Three Cheeses

If you're looking for a quick recipe, this isn't it. However, if you're looking for something tasty and a step up from mac in a box with orange stuff, you might want to try this out. I think it may have been even better the next day, which is a mark of superior craftsmanship.

You can find the recipe here, so I'll not bother typing it up. I didn't put the bread crumb garnish on top, as I don't think bread crumbs add anything to pasta, but otherwise made it as stated in the recipe. Reviews were positive, so I think I'll keep this recipe. I will, however, be making a few modifications in the future. The dish could use a little more bite and personality, so I'll probably put in a little chili powder. Additionally, I may sprinkle some cheese on top so that the dish can have the crunchy top layer that it was supposed to have.

Fridge Friday VI: The top

Ah, yes. The top of the fridge. Home to whatever fruit I need to ripen (in this case, an avocado destined for grated carrot salad with avocado) and, only recently, the cat. He only figured out how to get up there this week and is still slightly unsure of whether or not he is supposed to be up there. Often times when one of us pass by we'll startle the cat, who then proceeds to try to hop up into the crevice between the cabinets and the ceiling, a space that is much too small for him to fit into. It's pretty funny to watch.

LaBloShoeMo

These dusty, filthy, slightly urine-splattered shoes are my mountain biking shoes. R and I fell in love with Solomon brand shoes after his brother gave him a pair of boots. They're really comfortable and have huge tread on the bottom, meaning they're perfect for keeping one attached to the pedals of their bike. Sure, I could get clip-in shoes, but you have to be sure you're not going to fall, because it's hard to detach yourself midway through the air. I'm just not ready to take that leap of faith yet.

Why I always carry a bottle of water these days

As I was sitting in the traffic outside of my school this morning I got to watch my car's temperature gauge go up, and up, and up. Damn thing has a coolant leak, you see. At first I didn't have to do anything, then last spring I had to fill it up once, and then again a few months later. I've been filling it up more and more frequently since then, until this week, whereupon I filled it up Tuesday, drove it Thursday, and low coolant light came on during the drive to work today.

Lucky for me, I learned a few things about cars during all of the car trouble fraught family vacations I took as a child. As soon as I noticed the increasing engine temperature I turned on the heat full blast, which cooled down the engine a bit and allowed me to make it to school. At least it was cool out today and not 100 degrees in the middle of the desert, which is where I learned this particular trick.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Six percent

I think I finally managed to convince a large portion of my students to turn in an assignment.

First, I printed out a summary of their assignments to date and grade breakdown and gave them each a copy. After they had looked it over, I drew their attention to the total grade percentage at the bottom.

"Look at that number. Now, add six to it. This assignment," I said, "that we will be doing for the rest of class will raise your grade approximately six percentage points. It's not hard; it just requires a little thought and reflection. I know you can all do it.

"Remember. Six. That will raise a whole bunch of you up a grade. It's so easy."

You know what happened then? They all worked on the assignment! It was awesome.

LaBloShoeMo

I got these Tevas for a trip to Costa Rica that I took with my mom a few years back. I'm still not exactly sure why I got tan ones. They look like something my mom would wear. Still, they're quite comfortable and I have gotten a decent amount of wear out of them.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Now I know how my grandpa feels

Last period of the day, I all of the sudden had a sharp pain at the inner edge of my eyebrow. I reach up to feel a coarse bent hair that was not there this morning. I kept prodding it, wondering what the heck happened and hoping that my students wouldn't notice that I was continuously poking myself in the face. As soon as there was another teacher in the area (one of the rare benefits to having a class in a common area lacking in walls), I raced to the bathroom to pluck out the hair, which resulted in the pain immediately disappearing. A very odd occurrence.

7 more days.

LaBloShoeMo

These are my work-out shoes. They're actually several years old, but having been worn almost exclusively indoors they remain fairly white. My sister and I are both obsessed with Saucony running shoes. Perhaps their design is just the perfect shape for our feet. Whenever I need new shoes I do try on other brands, but I always wind up coming back.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Relieved

Ah... One more class done and over with. Now I only have to finish the assignments for Monday night's class, then I will be all done with my (graduate) classes for the quarter. I feel a little lucky, seeing as some of my colleagues will still have to teach for another several weeks after our classes are over.

Eight days left of teaching.

LaBloShoeMo

Time to break with the black shoes! For a little while, anyway. Today's shoes are Rampage sling-back peep-toe kitten heels. I fell in love with their polka dots and had to have them, which was somewhat unusual, as I am not really a shoe person. I bought them with no real purpose in mind, but I later acquired a red dress that matches them perfectly and have since worn the ensemble to various fancy events.

Unfortunately, these shoes give me the meanest blisters if worn for any amount of time. R and I were going to a friend's wedding in Pacific Beach (a borough of San Diego notorious for it's parking problems) and wound up having to haul ass for quite a distance in order to make it to the ceremony on time. I could hardly walk back to the car! Ever since then, I pre-bandage my feet.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Apathy

I've given up.

Well, perhaps that isn't the correct term. I've hit the point where the little things don't bother me quite so much, as I know that it will all be over soon. Only six out of thirty-two students bring in their rough drafts? Whatever. All of you who didn't can go work on the computers (which were conveniently empty). Should I try and cram in more new topics? Nah, lets just focus a bit more on what we've been learning, do some sort of concluding activity, and move on to an end-of-semester reflective portfolio piece. I've even planned a whole week for my sixth graders to do make-up work (to be fair, it's a week of shortened days and many other teachers are just showing movies). I'm just trying to not stress myself out too much, give myself time to finish homework (which I should probably be doing right now), and make it to December 14th.

Nine more days.

Oh, and since everyone is doing it, R's sister has elfed us.

LaBloShoeMo

I swear, they don't look nearly so scuffed and beat-up in person!

As you can probably tell, these black Kaya flats are well-loved. These are the only nice shoes I have that don't hurt my feet. I've worn a hole in the toe and will be very sad when it comes time to replace them.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Counting the days

Two more weeks of school.

One more week of real teaching, plus one week of shortened classes and student presentations in the afternoon. Tomorrow is mostly students doing their own thing, so that hardly counts as teaching. I'll have to do some sort of summary activity or quiz at the end of the week, so that also eats up some class time.

If you can't tell, I'm quite ready for the semester to be over. Last week, at the last minute, I found out about a two day training scheduled for Thursday and Friday of that week. I could hardly believe my luck. Two days off of teaching! One of the other teachers at the conference warned one of my professors to look after me, as I appear to be burning out. Truthfully, that woman was quite correct. I am burning out. I don't want to do this anymore, I think I have gotten all I can out of this job, but I won't let myself quit either. I have to stick it out for another semester. I'll be doing my best (or at least the best I can do in my current state) and not just phoning it in, but I'm really just trying to survive at this point.

10 more days.

LaBloShoeMo

Today's selection is my second most worn pair of shoes: black Vans. These ones are old, and therefore a little faded, but when new they looked very sharp. Comfortable and casual, but nice enough for a business casual environment, I wind up wearing these shoes quite frequently. One of the first times I wore these, one of my advisory students tried to tease me because her feet were bigger than mine (I guess they hadn't realized it while I was wearing flip flops). I don't really understand the sixth grade mine, but I'm sure she will understand some day that people are generally not competing to have the largest feet.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Of blogs and shoes

NaBloPoMo Wrap-Up

Although I failed in the original intent of the challenge (post every day for the month of November), I think I was fairly successful in my other goals. I posted five Fridge Friday pictures (though not all on Fridays), reviewed five recipes, and wrote on three of the topics on this list (here and here). On top of that, I made some new blog friends. All in all, a pretty successful month.

The only this I didn't do that I said I would was talk about my wedding. So, for all of you out there dying to know what is up with that, here it is. I had been thinking that October/November was when they'd be finalizing the schedule on the hall I want to rent. It turns out that I actually won't know for sure until February. I'm still at the top of the list (or, more likely, the only one on the list), but it won't be guaranteed until then. At the moment, we're planning on making the other arrangements during winter break (those two days I have off before I leave for Missoula are going to be really busy), such as finding a photographer, ordering a cake, and clothes for the guys, based on our current date. Since we will know if the date will be changing six months in advance we figure it will be fine if we have to adjust(if we're bumped, we're figuring we'll first try for another spot on campus on that day, then possibly some other date in August).

During my trip up to NorCal, I spoke with my grandmother about wedding dress plans. We both lamented the fact that, in the last few years, dress patterns have almost disappeared from stores. We both plan on searching some more, as we still have plenty of time, but I think I'm going to look for something around here as a back-up.

As for colors and bridesmaids' (well, co-maids of honor and groomsmaid) dresses, I'm thinking black, white, and dusky blue-green. Black dresses will make the whole wedding party look more coherent, while eucalyptus bouquets will look awesome (and eliminate the need for flowers). As nice as flowers are, I just don't consider myself a flow person (which I'm sure would just break my grandmother's heart, being extremely active in her local floral arrangers guild). Flowers are nice, but I really just like them best on plants. My inspiration is the picture below (I can't remember where I originally found it), which just looks awesome. I think I might go for black planters, but this is what I want my wedding to look like.

LaBloShoeMo

Today also happens to be the first day of LaBloShoeMo. For those of you who are confused ("Wait! NaBloShoeMo was last month!"), feel free to look at the story of its origin.

Today's shoes are classic San Diego footwear: black Reefs. Prior to moving to San Diego, I had always preferred those little J. Crew ones that always give you blisters at the beginning of every summer, however I was soon convinced of the error of my ways. These sandals are the most comfortable things I have ever worn. The soles grip, the subtly grooved foot bed ensures you won't slip out of the sandal when wet, and the cloth strap has never given me a blister. Even now, several years old with hardly any tread and emitting a noticeable odor when moistened, I can hardly bear the thought of replacing them (finding these, my second pair, was a pain in the ass. I think I'll just order online next time). The only downside to these shoes is that the kitties find them irresistibly delicious, so I have to be very careful about where I leave them.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fridge Friday V: The freezer

Ah, the freezer. Too small for regular frozen pizzas, we've been forced to switch to personal sized ones. They seem to work better with my evening classes, though, and now I get to have flavors that R doesn't like (such as the tomato pesto one I had earlier), so I don't mind too much.

The freezer is definitely the domain of processed foods. Sausages laced with cheese, mini quiches, pasta. We've also got quite the iced cream stash. Even though my body doesn't care for dairy, I do break down every once in a while. This last trip to the grocery store resulted in the purchase of pomegranate and dark chocolate bars and toasted coconut sesame brittle ice cream, both of which I strongly recommend.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pay It Forward

The lovely Lara decided to do this on her blog and, although she hasn't said yet if she's including me in this grand endeavor, I've decided to participate anyway.

Here are the conditions:
I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Oh, and you also need to be willing to e-mail me your address.

So, yes. There it is. I already know what I'm going to make. I'm so excited!

Well, shit

I forgot to post yesterday. I'm a NaBloPoMo failure. I made it through the month last year, and I was so close to making it this year. I mean, really, who forgets to post on the 28th?

I'm not blaming anyone or anything besides myself, I'm the one who forgot, but there was a reason for the forgetting. Tuesday afternoon, one of my professors e-mailed me a last minute invitation to a two day conference. I jumped at the idea of getting today and tomorrow off from teaching, so I decided to attend. I then spent every single spare moment yesterday planning and copying, so that all would be ready for the substitutes. My lunch break was spent frantically helping the six students who came to see me to make up work (normally I don't see any students during their advisory period, my lunch, so I was glad that they've finally taken my message, "make up some work or else you will fail," to heart). By the time I got home, it was time for grocery shopping, dinner, and then Warcraft. As I sat down to Warcraft, I tried to remind myself to post once I was done. However, when I was finished I had to figure out exactly where I was headed for this conference, as the e-mail I had referenced an attached map that I never received. After that, it was time for bed and nothing could stop me from getting there.

Argh! I'm so annoyed with myself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Story of My Most Serious Injury

Given that this happened prior to the advent of this blog, I think it is only fitting that I dust this story off for NaBloPoMo. Most of you are a fresh audience, except for those of you who were there.

R and I were on an end-of-season trip to Mt. Rose, going snowboarding with my best friend and her sweetie (at the time). The first day was beautiful. As soon as we had crossed the pass the night before it began snowing, so we had several feet of fresh powder. R was in his element. Me? Not so much. Being at the end of only my first real season of snowboarding, all of which took place in Southern California, I had never boarded in powder before. I couldn't turn, couldn't get up after I fell. For being such soft snow, it was really hard boarding.

The second day, the conditions were much closer to what I was accustomed to. I was able to turn again, in the slush, and felt much more confidant going down the hills. I even, slowly, tried out the four slalom poles that were lined up on one of the runs. I would watch R zip through them, then after I would creep through them at a snail's pace.

Near the end of the day, when the conditions were at their slushiest, I had finally build up enough confidence to go through the poles at a decent pace. I started through, reveling in the speed of the curves. I lost my balance, recovered, then caught the edge of my snowboard.

I honestly don't remember the fall itself. I returned to awareness lying on the slope, my left arm above my head. I tried to get up, but my arm wasn't coming with me. R rode up to me, at which point in time I informed him that I'd dislocated my shoulder. My friend and her sweetie arrived. Given that my friend's boyfriend and I were both EMTs, we were quickly able to verify that, yes, I had indeed dislocated my shoulder.

Having worked at Mt. Rose in seasons past, my friend's boyfriend was easily able to get the ski patrol to bring a bucket over and take me down the hill. The ski patrol people were impressed by how calm I was, having recently transported a loud, whiney, not actually injured fat kid down the hill.

In the ambulance, the medic gave me nitrous, however I wound up not using the stuff because I was having problems answering the questions she then proceeded to ask me. In the hospital, I was able to convince the nurses not to cut my jacket off of me (it was R's ski team jacket), instead wiggling helpfully so that they could pull it off of me in one piece. R said afterwards that he really wouldn't have cared it the jacket was ruined, but I would have felt bad.

The hospital put me under while they put my arm in, so again I have no memories from that part of the experience. When I woke up, they dressed me and let me go home with my arm in a sling and a prescription for vicodin (which, as it turns out, makes me throw up). I promptly put my injured status to good use and demanded the Thai food that I had been craving all weekend.

My recovery was fairly easy. R was a good nurse, helping me in the shower and with my clothes. The only excitement was driving with one arm, which probably shouldn't be legal. Good thing I had an automatic.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Second verse, same as the first

More along the same lines as this. Here are a few of the answers to a recent test.

When you are 60, do you think we will be using the same energy sources as we are today? Explain using examples.
No, because they might make it more improved.

Well no cause we will have 60% less energy sources as we do now so we will be a little bit more weaker.

I think we would in some ways. But, than we probably. I think yes we will beusing energy sources.

What is an example of a nonrenewable resource?
[little drawing of a what might be two cakes] see the new one is nice but the other one is not nice

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last day of freedom

Until Christmas break, that is.

I had a disconcerting dream last night. I went back to school and they had changed all the classes. It seemed a very odd thing to do, three weeks before the end of the semester. I couldn't find anything and was completely lost. I couldn't find my schedule and didn't know what I was supposed to teach. I was thrilled that they had taken some of my classes away from me, but at the same time terrified that there might be a class somewhere waiting for me to arrive.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fridge Friday IV (Saturday Edition): The top shelf

Well, I managed to forget about Fridge Friday on Friday again. Luckily, I was not alone.

The top shelf of the fridge is almost entirely taken up with sauces and drink fixings. The sauces are mostly salad dressings, but there is also a bottle of hot sauce and the sweet chili sauce we break out in times of lumpia or egg rolls. Being of the twenty-something set, we've got a fair amount of beer in the fridge, even though we don't drink it too often ourselves. Of course, my mom has a few beers in the fridge even though she never drinks the stuff, so I suppose it is only polite.

The one item that doesn't fall into the two previously stated categories is the container of frosting. I could lie, and tell you we just made a cake and had a little extra, but the truth is that I've just been eating it in graham cracker and frosting sandwiches.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Recipe Review: Baby Pumpkins with Garlic Custard

I actually made this interesting dish yesterday, pumpkins being decidedly Thanksgiving-y, but figured I'd avoid doing more than one recipe review in a day. Being served in little pumpkins, this dish was extremely cute and made my family's Thanksgiving seem oh so sophisticated. Reviews for the food itself were mixed, though. My family loved it, but to be fair they don't seem to own properly operating taste buds and think everything is delicious. R, the roommate, and I were decidedly less enthusiastic. They weren't bad, I ate nearly all of mine, but they weren't great. I was expecting the custard to be a bit creamier, perhaps with a more rich and robust flavor to balance out the pumpkin. We did rush the cooking a bit (be warned, these take a little while to make), so perhaps that negatively affected the texture. I don't know.

Here's the recipe, feel free to decide for yourself on this one.

It's the most wonderful (shopping) time of the year

I love online Black Friday sales that start at midnight. You see, I would never in my life brave the actual stores, nor would you ever see me trying to be somewhere at 4 in the morning on a day off*, however midnight is a time I am often awake and the computer is generally as far as I'm willing to go for shopping. I guess the Black Friday sales have finally reached the non-shopper demographic.

* We were up pretty early for the Wii release, but that's another story.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Recipe Review: Cider-Brined-and-Glazed-Turkey

Well, I really don't want to post the whole recipe, seeing as it is rather long, but needless to say it was a rather tasty bird. Rave reviews from the family, browned up beautifully, and the drippings created a dark and flavorful gravy.

This was the first time that I've brined a turkey myself. I've eaten brined turkeys before, so I knew I would be in store for something delicious. One December when we were visiting Montana R's brother made a turkey that he brined in a bucket out on his patio. The benefits of living somewhere cold, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I suck at drums, but I'm an awesome lead singer

My entire afternoon and evening, minus an hour break for dinner, has been consumed by Rock Band. I probably won't be able to speak tomorrow, due to singing for several hours straight. As you might have guessed, it is really fun and you should play it if you get the chance.

Now, back to the action!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Recipe Review: Idaho Halibut

Tonight we were going to try out Idaho Salmon. Unfortunately for me, all of the supermarkets were only carrying Atlantic farmed salmon, which just wasn't acceptable (I'm trying to only eat seafood from sustainable sources). To R's delight (he doesn't care for salmon), I decided to go ahead with the recipe, but to substitute halibut.

In the end, I don't think I would bother with this particular recipe again. Although the fish wound up tasting nice, I could hardly tell that anything had been basted on it. Perhaps next time I might leave out the beer and baste the fish exclusively in garlic and butter.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fridge Friday III (Monday edition): My beloved jams

The central portion of the fridge has a good deal more variety than the other areas. Drinks, yogurt, sauces, pastry in a roll, and, of course, jam. I love jam. I currently have lingonberry, huckleberry, peach, strawberry, orange marmalade, and ginger open. Possibly the best part of my trip was being given several jars of my mother's homemade jam.

As for the rest of the trip, it was better than some but still not as good as initially perceived. My mom proceeded to make a few snippy comments and take various things as personal affronts (much as she has in the past), returning our relationship to its slightly awkward state. Oh well.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The fragility of memory

Last night, while my relatives up here had come over for dinner, my sister got out Operation so that she could play it with my little cousin. I asked my mom when she had purchased the game, as it was one I only remembered playing at friends' houses. She answered that we had in fact owned it for a long time, didn't I remember playing it? I didn't, so I asked my sister if she remembered playing it, to which she replied in the affirmative.

From my perspective, it feels as though they might be playing a trick on me, trying to implant me with false memories. However, it does seem like the kind of game my mother would have bought for me. She was always trying to encourage my desire to become a doctor. When a childhood friend told me that only men could be doctors, women had to be nurses, my mom bought me Doctor Barbie. I've seen pictures of myself listening to my sister's "heartbeat" with a little toy medical kit. She even found a female pediatrician when we moved, so that I would have a role model. I just wish I remembered the game!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Argh!

In all the hustle and bustle of getting up to NorCal, I forgot about Fridge Friday! I'll have to do it when I get home.

Home

I'm home. Well, not Home home, per se, but the old home. The home of my youth. My mom's home.

In the past, it was always a little eerie visiting this place. It felt like a strange and foreign place, filled with echos of what once was my home. It was really strange feeling that when I still lived here.

However, this visit has been different from previous visits. My old home mostly just feels like my mom's home; I don't feel like an alien visiting it. I even feel more comfortable around my mom. Perhaps we have both matured, perhaps I've developed a thicker skin over the last several months, or perhaps it is that odd sense of teacherly camaraderie I feel towards her, but somehow I feel closer to her and less irritated by her than I have in years. Spending time with her has been downright... nice. Obviously, I've only just begun the visit and things may change, but I hope they don't. It's nice having a mom again.

On a totally unrelated note, my mom's keyboard is called a "QuietKey," but is possibly the loudest keyboard I have used in years.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Proof that they can, in fact, be cute

I love my house meetings. At my school, all of the teachers with the same advisory have a common prep period and we meet up. Much of the meeting tends not to be relevant to me, since I just have one class of 6th grade science and one 6th grade advisory (whereas they have all 6th grade all the time), but when we're not talking business it is a lot of fun. The stories they have are hilarious!

I do have a funny story from my 6th graders. Last week, one of the students came up to me and told me that her sister had a doll that looked just like me. She then proceeded to pull a Barbie doll out of her backpack and talk about how much I resembled it. I wasn't sure whether she was complementing me or insulting me, so I just tried to be neutral. It was really odd at the time, but pretty funny from a distance.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dork rock!

Considering that the most interesting event of the day, other than another angry parent e-mail, was that I spent the entire afternoon trying to remember to remove the box cutter from my school bag so that airport security wouldn't arrest me tomorrow, I decided to take a cue from Alynda and talk a bit about music.

You may notice that my top 25 most played songs on iTunes are, well, not very frequently played. This is due to my having to put a new hard drive in my computer this summer, eliminating the previous play count, and my having been teaching since then. Nevertheless, this is still fairly reflective of my slightly unconventional taste in music. Top of the list is a song from Dance Dance Revolution, followed by the much more sparse "1234," followed by a scattering of Jonathan Coulton (among other things). If you haven't yet heard Jonathan Coulton, you really should. Geek rock at its finest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Recipe Review: Beer Can Chicken

R has fond memories of eating roast chicken during his childhood (my family was more into BBQ chicken breasts). Being the silly person I am, I therefore felt the need to make a roast chicken in order to live up to the challenge. What I wound up making was actually a hybrid of two recipes, Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables and Beer Can Chicken, with spices of my own devising. I am proud to say that this exceeded all expectations and was some of the most delicious chicken I ever tasted.

Beer Can Chicken
  • One 4 lb. chicken
  • One 12 oz. can of beer
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoned Grilling Salt
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
1. Preheat the oven to 500* F. Drink 1/3 of the beer.

2. Rub olive oil all over chicken, then rub on a layer of spices.

3. Stick the can up the chicken's nether-regions and sit that sucker down on a broiler pan.

4. Roast at 500* F for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350* F and roast for approximately 45 minutes (until the breast is 165* F).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'd cry if I wasn't laughing

This was one of the answers I received on a recent quiz.

Name three of the ways in which municipalities dispose of their garbage and trash.
1 is USA 2 is Africa 3 is Canada

Doesn't it make your brain hurt just looking at it?

Monday, November 12, 2007

A crying beer snob

Am I a horrible snob if buying Coors Light makes me embarrassed? I was buying some to make beer can chicken (my attempts at which were temporarily thwarted by a not completely defrosted chicken) and was terrified that someone would see me.

I made the mistake of looking at my work e-mail a couple of moments ago. Progress reports were sent out last week, you see, and arrived at my students' houses on Friday and Saturday. I made it to one angry parent e-mail before closing the program and am currently on the verge of crying (I'm sure I will later), which makes the planning I was going to do slightly more difficult. I stopped reading at the point where the parent was going to contact all the other parents whose children have been complaining of not understanding assignments and... doing something. Rallying parental furor, I suppose. I'm not exactly sure what they are expecting to happen. Honestly, I would be thrilled if their furor led to a couple more classes opening, as I've got way too many students in my classes as is. I wish they didn't have to be so mean about it, that's all.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

That which is precious

The fires took something special to me. No, I didn't lose my house and nor did anyone I know personally (though one of the evacuated friends who was staying with us got to watch a couple of houses he helped build burn down). What the fires took were bike trails.

We knew it was going to happen. The bike trails in San Diego run through brush-filled canyons, which happen to be the same places fire likes to travel. One of our favorite rides of late had burned during the Cedar fire, and the remaining charred skeletons of trees surrounded by new growth gave the place a post-apocalyptic beauty.

I'm sure this will happen in time to the trails that burned in this most recent fire, but for now they are just charred. We were going to ride on one of the burned trails today, partly because it is a fun ride and partly out of curiosity to see the destruction first-hand. It turns out the trail is closed due to fire damage. How the fire damaged dirt and rocks, I will perhaps never know. I suppose they're concerned that people will not know where the trails are, due to the lack of foliage.

The silver lining was that we discovered a rather fun trail at a site we previously considered somewhat uninteresting. We had previously thought that this new trail was short and therefore not worth riding, but it wound up being quite long and fun, full of scenic views and technical trails.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why I love my hometown/Why I hate my hometown

Although I write to you now from San Diego, I spent the majority of my childhood in a place called Davis.

I love Davis. It was an incredible place to grow up. Being the bike capital of the world, housing more bikes than people even, it was a great place to not have your driver's license. One could get nearly anywhere by bike, often not even traveling the bike lanes on the roads, but instead taking one of the many greenbelts that traverse the city.

Part of the reason that Davis is so bike friendly is because it is flat. Dead flat. The only hills are overpasses. R, a San Diego native, considers this flatness to be a great detractor. I, on the other hand, feel the flatness makes it easier to see great distances. Unlike in San Diego, the Davis sky is wide and dark at night, allowing one to clearly see the stars. Part of this is due to special street lights designed to reduce light pollution, since the Wiccans wanted to see the stars. They certainly had a direct line to the mayoral office, seeing as we had, for a long while, a lesbian Wiccan mayor. My dad secretly voted for her. My mom was very angry when B and I finally told her, even though the vote was many years past and my parents had been long divorced.

On the other hand, Davis does suck somewhat. Davis is so liberal that it is conservative. As tends to happen on the extreme ends of the political spectrum, people with differing views are ridiculed and scorned. Discussion (real discussion, not just voicing one's opinion and then ignoring what the other person has to say), compromise, finding common ground--these things just don't happen. If my mother didn't have tenure at her old school, the principal probably would have fired her for daring to voice her opinion that perhaps a video showing all the different sorts of families (hetero parents, single parents, gay parents) shouldn't be shown to kindergartners and it should instead be the parents job to talk with their children about such things when they feel it is appropriate. I'm not saying that I necessarily agree with her opinion, but she should still be allowed to express it without fear of repercussions. Even though there is a moderate population of people who are of a political preference other than Democrat, one does not voice such opinions in Davis unless you know your audience very well.

Quote of the day

"It's got a whole chapter on rimming."

- My roommate, talking about a bartending book he purchased as a birthday gift for a friend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fridge Friday II: The drawer full of cheeses

Aside from eggs, blocks of golden curry, and some antibiotic gel for the cats' eyes that is probably long expired, this drawer is entirely filled with cheese. We're got sharp cheddar, pepper jack, feta, Dubliner, Parmesan, gruyere, mascarpone, and even some of those flavored cheese-food wedges. Seeing as my IBS leaves me somewhat lactose intolerant, the irony of my love of cheese is not lost on me.

Speaking of cheese and dairy, yesterday I had smoky cheddar ale soup for lunch, followed by a fair amount of Ben & Jerry's later that evening. Today I had my first day absent from school due to intestinal problems. I made it to school, but during my prep period I had to rush to the restroom every time I stood up, leaving me unable to teach. Really, I need to stop doing this to myself.

On a more positive note, being home did mean that I got to watch Back to the Future for the first time.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The continuing saga of the essay

Today was the day that the essay I assigned to my sixth graders over a month ago was due (complained about here and here). I received five essays out of a class of twenty four. Out of those five, several were not five paragraphs in length (as specified in the prompt and repeatedly in class) and none of them had bibliographies (also specified in the prompt and worked on in class).

Pardon me while I step outside and scream from the rage and frustration.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Recipe Review: Andouille Sausage & Quinoa

The original recipe calls for chorizo, but I had forgotten in the week between seeing the recipe and hitting the supermarket. To be fair, I've been quite brain dead lately. Tuesday morning I drove over to the house of the guy I carpool with, only to have him call from my house wondering where I was. I never drive on Tuesdays. What was I thinking?

In any case, this recipe is still rather tasty even with a different kind of sausage. Eating it feels very comforting. I added a bit more spice to my version, but do whatever floats your boat.

Andouille Sausage & Quinoa
adapted from Coconut & Lime
  • 1/2 lb. Andouille Sausage, sliced on the bias
  • 2 c Chicken broth
  • 1 c Quinoa
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Stalk celery, diced
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 1 t Smoked paprika
  • Salt, pepper, chili powder, and smoked paprika (to taste).
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, sausage, celery, and garlic. Saute until fragrant (2-3 minutes).

2. Add the quinoa, cook 1 minute.

3. Add the broth and smoked paprika. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cover. Cook about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is translucent and has a small, visible spiral. Adjust spices to taste. Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Planning people

Speaking of needing a plan, R and I are deep in the throws of planning our honeymoon. We're going to Disney World.

Well, when I say "we" are planning the trip, I really mean R. He's doing everything. He doesn't want to spoil the surprise for me, so I've been instructed not to read up about Disney World. He's planning out our itinerary, researching where we should stay, learning the routes we should take around the park. It's really sweet. I'm quite excited. My only job is to figure out which restaurants are good and which ones are bad, so that we can make reservations (some need to be made 6 months ahead of time) and have a list of the sucky ones with us while we're there. Apparently the food there is very hit and miss.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Survival

I've got a plan.

I didn't have one this morning, and it was making me anxious. It seemed as though suddenly all of my assignments, vague and ill-defined, were coming due in the near future and I had no idea what to do or how to do them. I've got a plan now, so everything will be just fine.

I never thought of myself as the sort of person who needed to have a plan, but it turns out I am. Even if the plan means a crazy workload--and it does in this case--having a plan makes everything tolerable.

Due to the phone calls...

Almost exactly half of my students brought in their rough drafts. It's a little sad that this is exactly what I expected to happen. I would have been shocked if nearly the whole class brought their papers in.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Things I would do if I had a little more time

Organize my shit.

Finish the photo album I started.

Create the things I design in my head.

What do I get to do instead? Call the houses of my entire sixth grade science class, in the hopes that more than a couple of them will bring in their rough drafts tomorrow for editing.

We've been working on these essays for a month.

I hate kids.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice

Though many places in this hemisphere are experiencing dramatic changes in the foliage and snows, seasons in San Diego are a more subtle affair. The easiest way to mark the passage of time is the change in daylight. I've had to wear a light second layer on the way to work for the last week, but by the time I arrive it is no longer necessary.

My bike excursion this morning took me though a local canyon that happens to have a stream winding though it. This extra water supports a few deciduous trees, which were doing their best to turn greenish-yellow and scatter a few dry leaves about. In a few parts, the trail had a thick enough layer of leaves that it made a nice crackling sound as I rode over it.

As I made my way home, I noticed that the trees lining the streets were also changing color and dropping a few leaves, a fact that had eluded me until now due to my early morning departures and late night returns. I realized that the persimmon tree in my back yard, full of orange fruit and devoid of leaves, was actually doing what is natural and not, as I had feared, dying.

Fall has arrived in San Diego.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fridge Friday I: The door full of sauces


My roommate complains that R and I have too many sauces. In all fairness, he's probably not the best judge, as he eats the same meal (spaghetti with meatballs and marinara sauce from a jar) several nights a week. He's just not the sort of person who understands why it is necessary to have curry paste, Hoisin sauce, mesquite marinade, and several varieties of mustard ready to be used at all times. To be fair, I might take it a little bit to excess. Here is a picture of my neat-stuff-to-be-opened shelf in the pantry, 90% of which is sauces.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaBloPoMo


Well, as if I wasn't busy enough with grading (grades are due Tuesday. Guess who is going to be dealing with a bunch of parents of failing students again?), I've decided to participate in NaBloPoMo again. I've got some very good ideas for things to write about (which is probably a good thing), so you regular readers will undoubtedly see a little more variety than the usual recipe reviews and bitching about teaching (though that will all continue as well). Blogging prompts! Fridge Friday!

For those of you who might be visiting for the first time, I'm a San Diego teacher who likes to cook, mountain bike, and garden. I'll probably talk a little about the planning of my wedding, as it is getting to the point in time where I actually need to start getting stuff done on that front. I'll be visiting my grandmother this month, who is going to be making my dress, so I need to get my ass in gear and find a pattern to base the dress off of. In a week... Oh dear.

Are you excited yet? I am.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Euki dressed up as a resident of San Diego County.

Yesterday was the first day back to school. It was so dark when I left for work, and we're still on daylight savings time. It's amazing how much the light level changed in just a week. I'm not looking forward to leaving when it is still dark out. Of course, that won't last too long. Two more weeks (one of which is a four day week), then a week off for Thanksgiving, followed by one more week of class and a week of student presentations. All the teachers are practically counting down the days until the end of the semester. It's so close!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe Review: Apple Butter

Ever since the scrubby tree in my backyard came into bloom, I've been thinking of how I would use the apples. They're not good for eating, nor, as an experiment with a friend's apples demonstrated, good for apple tarts. I wound up fixating on apple butter, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time when the fruits first appeared. Thanks to the fires, I've had time this weekend, but the birds had already gotten most of the apples. Still, the tiny batch of apple butter I made is quite tasty. Next time, I might use a crock pot.

Apple Butter
adapted from Culinate

  • 1/2 lb. apples
  • 1/8 c honey
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 clove

1. Wash apples and remove stems, but do not peel or core. Cut apples into small pieces and add to stockpot. Cover with water and let simmer until apples are soft.

2. Let apples cool, then press them through a food mill.

3. Combine apple pulp with honey and spices in a saucepan. Cook slowly on low heat until a heading spoonful is a thick, rounded mound (this may take several hours, but it took me about an hour with the small amount I had). Stir to prevent sticking; this dish can burn easily, so make sure to check it often. If butter is too thick, add water or apple juice.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Googled

Our sorry educational system

teacher shows to much cleavage - Is this anything like "star shows to much applause?"

learning wedding - You're making me cry.

all about my teachet - Your "teachet" wants you to learn how to spell.

teacher uses alive models for sexed class - You know, I think there is a Monty Python episode where this happens.

thank you letter to teacher - Somehow, I think your teacher might possibly want a letter that you came up with.

i hate teaching sixth graders - Me too!

The world is a strange place

cucumber dildo blog - This is not the blog you're looking for.

funny butte picture - This is the kind of opening bloggers dream of.

woo things to do at walmart - Woo woo? You shouldn't be doing that at Walmart.

warcraft mangos falling - I don't even know what to do with this one.

when life throws - Is life throwing stuff at you? Tell life to knock it off.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why the student health center at my university sucks

While R was at the optometrist on campus (getting a pair of very sexy computer glasses), I decided that it was high time I went to the student health center to get some blood work done. Needless to say, all did not go as planned. By the end of my visit I definitely wanted to cry.

I arrived hoping to get a quick blood test and go. Seeing as I was already known to be on statins, I figured they could just tell the doctor I was here for the blood test I needed and send me down to the lab. No such luck, though, and the soonest appointment was in nearly an hour. I accepted it, then went back to have them cancel it, at which point in time they were able to have a doctor see me immediately.

So I go and talk with the doctor (actually an NP, but it's pretty much the same thing), and while explaining why I was there I asked if, while we were testing my blood we could also test for celiac disease, seeing as I was recently diagnosed with IBS and the former is often diagnosed as the latter. She told me that there wasn't a blood test for it! I didn't know what to do, seeing as I didn't have any papers with me stating the contrary. She's the professional, after all, so I shouldn't know more about this than her. Of course, she was also confused as to why I wanted my liver enzymes tested (because that's required every 6 months or so when you're on statins, which she should have known), so perhaps I shouldn't have been so shocked. When I move onto R's health care I'm definitely going to get tested, seeing as the condition has been linked to miscarriage and infertility (and I'll be wanting to be having kids before too long).

On top of all that, I had to deal with a rather unpleasant lab technician when I finally got my blood tested. Having had lots of experience getting blood drawn, I asked that the phlebotomist use a butterfly. I was then berated by the technician for coming to get my blood drawn dehydrated, having had problems with getting my blood drawn in the past, and making her use the butterfly, which takes more time. Well, I'm sorry, I like not having bruises. Last time I came to the student health center for a blood test they had to skewer both my arms. I just have tiny veins! I'm definitely looking forward to going back to my old phlebotomist. She was very gentle.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Safe (for now)

The fire closest to where I live seems to have died out in my area (though it is still burning other areas). Here is a map of the fires' locations.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Recipe Review: Carrot and Rosemary Miniature Scones

Yesterday morning, watching the news, I was filled with the urge to do something. The news was scary and dramatic, but we weren't being ordered to evacuate. All we could do was wait, and it was making me crazy. We were trying to say off the roads and off our cell phones, as requested by emergency services, so the only thing left to do was cook. I made Carrot and Rosemary Miniature Scones. I happened to have all the ingredients right with me, which is probably why I chose to make them. They're fine, but not great. I don't think this will be a recipe added to my repertoire.

Some friends of ours who live a couple of miles from our house were evacuated and are staying with us. My sister has also been evacuated. She went up to my family's house, which is now in a voluntary evacuation area. The place I live is right next to a mandatory evacuation area, but for now is still a tiny peninsula of non-evacuation. Today is another day of waiting. What I'd really like to do today is make apple butter, but I don't have a food mill and we're supposed to try and conserve power, so I probably shouldn't heat up the house like that. Perhaps I'll just scrapbook.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Only the important stuff

Last night as we were lying in bed, R and I worked out our game plan in case of evacuation. The fire was far away, but we still wanted to be prepared. This morning I awoke to find that the freeway I take to work was closed. I decided not to go in to school, seeing as it would be rather hard to get there, with the fire in between me and the school. Twenty minutes before school was supposed to start, they finally closed the school for the day. Seeing as most of the teaching staff aims to arrive at that time, you'd think that they would have decided this a little sooner.

The area North of my house has been evacuated. For now, we wait, watching the news with a sense of urgency.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Under an orange moon

San Diego is burning.

Well, not San Diego proper, but parts of San Diego county. Still, the whole of San Diego is covered in clouds of smoke, and tiny flecks of ash are falling from the sky. Having lived through the Cedar Fire and residing at the foot of a hill that has already caught fire this year, the smell of smoke that is filling the air just makes me anxious. I think the rest of San Diego is feeling it, too. The freeways were moving very quickly and had fewer cars on them this afternoon, as if people didn't want to leave their homes and were being driven by a sense of urgency to get wherever they were going.

The blowing Santa Ana winds are not helping the firefighters. While watching an episode of "Heroes" a gust of wind suddenly rattled the vertical blinds in the kitchen. We all stepped outside to see one of the pine trees arcing over the gazebo out back, though none of us could remember if it had been like that before. By the smoke-filtered light of the moon, it looked quite foreboding.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happiness is...


Running into R on the stairs as he leaves work and I arrive for class, conveniently in the same building, allowing us a couple of moments together. I'm so busy that I find myself missing him. It will be nice when this year is over.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Every time a bell rings...

A new blogger gets their wings.

I think it goes something like that. A fellow intern in my teaching program (and very good friend, to boot) has just started a blog. She is of the English-teaching persuasion, so she will probably wind up writing more eloquently than I do. Check her out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reading at the ninth grade level

Unintentionally, I've been following along with the ninth grade reading list. The first book, The House on Mango Street, had been in my Amazon shopping cart for a while, but apparently I needed the impetus of several classes of preteens to get me to finally read it. Saturday, while at Barnes and Noble for teacher appreciation week (still going on, my friends. 25% off!), I happened to spot The Good Earth on the shelf, looked over the first few pages, and haven't been able to put it down since. Buoyed by these successes, I've decided to continue following along with the reading for the year. Since the books are at a level intelligible to ninth graders they are fairly quick reads, which is just perfect for a busy intern like me. The English teacher I carpool with has promised to get me a copy of the English department reading list, so I foresee much enjoyable and edifying reading in my future.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Recipe Review: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Blueberry Muffins

"I'm going to make muffins."
"The recipe with the cranberries you've had open on your browser all week?"
"Yeah."
"I won't be eating them."
"Why?"
"Cranberries don't belong in food. Muffins with blueberries and chocolate chips are better."
"That sounds pretty good, actually."
"I still won't eat them, though, because they have oats."

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Coconut & Lime
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 c old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • chocolate chips
  • dried blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line or grease and flour one 12 well muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, egg, oil, buttermilk, and sugar. After it is thoroughly mixed, add in the flour, salt, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fold in the remainder of the package of dried blueberries you have been snacking on all afternoon. Add enough chocolate chips so that the batter looks well-studded.

3. Divide evenly among the 12 muffin wells. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, serve.

As long as you aren't completely against oats, these are really delicious muffins. The ones I brought to school today disappeared quickly. Bringing food is definitely a good way to make friends.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recipe Review: Beer-battered Cod and Onion Rings

Yesterday, on our drive back home from Universal Studios (whose slogan could be "We like to squirt you with water at every opportunity"), R mentioned that he had a hankering for onion rings. I recalled to him that I had a recipe for beer battered fish and onion rings, and so the great onion ring making event began.

Okay, so it wasn't an epic journey. Still, it took about an hour and a half (with R and the roommate pitching in), which is somewhat epic in terms of the cooking that goes on around here, and involved a pan of boiling oil. How did the beer-battered cod and onion rings turn out, you ask? Quite nicely. The batter probably could have used a bit more seasoning, but this recipe will be staying in the cook book.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Recipe Review: Onion and Pancetta Quiche

This quiche is one of the suggested variations on the Onion and Cumin Quiche, as found in the Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook. Aside from cooking the onion, it was a really fast recipe (especially since I used store-bought puff pastry for the crust instead of making my own), so I'm thinking I need to find a quiche recipe without onions. Nevertheless, very tasty.

Onion and Pancetta Quiche
Serves 4-6 as a main course, 8-10 as a starter
From Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen
  • Puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
  • 1 T olive oil, plus 1 t for greasing the pan
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, about 6 medium, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 t fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 c light cream
  • 1/4 t ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 c grated Comté, about 5 oz (substitute Gruyére)
1. If you want to make your own crust, do that now. Otherwise, set the puff pasty out to defrost.

2. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with 1/4 t salt, and stir. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and translucent. Remove the lid, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until most of the liquids have evaporated. (This can be prepared up to a day ahead.)

3. Preheat oven to 350oF. Grease a 10-inch ceramic quiche pan with 1 t olive oil. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough in a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough into the pan, prick the bottom all over with a fork, and press on the sides with your fingers so the dough will adhere. Bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven (leave the heat on) and set aside. Meanwhile, sauté the pancetta until crisp.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Season with the remaining 1/4 t salt and the pepper. Fold in the cheese, onions, and pancetta, and pour into the tart shell.

5. Bake for 35 minutes, until the top is golden and the center of the quiche is still slightly jiggly. Turn the oven off and leave the quiche in the closed oven for 10 minutes, until the filling is set. Serve warm, with a salad of butterhead lettuce. You can make the quiche a few hours or a day ahead and reheat it for 15 minutes in a 350oF oven to revive the crispness of the crust.

One additional note--if you ever want to quickly and thinly slice a pile of onions, get yourself one of these babies. I couldn't believe how easy it made things (I'm such a gadget freak).

Friday, October 12, 2007

A short talk about my butt

I just found out today that I have irritable bowl syndrome.

Okay, I kind of figured I had it ever since a friend of mine brought it up last May, but today a doctor finally confirmed it. I can't describe how relieved I feel to know that there is, in fact, something wrong with me. My body is odd for a reason.

So far, knowing hasn't changed much. The doctor didn't want to put me on low dose anti-depressants, which apparently also affect the intestines (I wouldn't have wanted to go on them anyway), and was wary of all the other medications used to treat IBS, as they have all been taking off the market at various times for having nasty side effects. Therefore, my treatment is basically avoiding the foods that make my intestines upset, which I was doing anyway due to said problems. The doctor gave me some medication to stop intestinal spasms, but that won't really prevent anything. I did start taking acidophilus pills, at the doctor's recommendation, to improve my intestinal flora. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday night doodles

My arm, the Zen garden. I definitely needed a bit of Zen, too. A whole day of parent-teacher conferences, while better than a week of them after teaching, is still a grueling ordeal. Particularly when you have as many failing kids as I have. Fortunately, most of the parents were fairly understanding. Seeing as their kids were turning in incomplete work, or none at all, most of the parents accepted the situation and resolved to make their kids make up the work (I'm pretty sure that's why they give the students Friday and Monday off after the conferences). I did have one parent, though, who really tried to shift the blame over to me. Yes, the majority of the class did fail the last test. However, it only tipped the scales to failing if the student already had a poor grade in the class, which meant that they weren't turning their work in previously, which explains why they didn't do well on the test. Hmm... whose fault is that again?

In any case, I think the previous test was really a case of the students figuring out what I expected of them (namely, to know the covered material), and the next one should be better. Coupled with a bit of in-class review and a study guide (plus the packets of make-up work that should be arriving from some students after the weekend), test scores should be on the rise.