Thursday, January 31, 2008


I'm pretty sure the account of this incident would make my dad, a fire marshal, cry in frustration, so I hope you all will be kind enough not to tell him. Near the end of the day, an alarm started going off. Having been ill on the day of our one and only fire drill, I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. I couldn't find one of those tables that decodes the bell system (you know, one ring for lock down, two for earthquake, three for aliens, etc. Speaking of a lock down, we can't lock our classroom doors from the inside, which I think is total bullshit. We also have no blinds, so anyone and their mother could just look inside to see a room full of kids hiding under their desks. Idiotic design, if you ask me), so I had to ask one of the students if this was actually the fire alarm. Once we determined that it was, in fact, the fire alarm, I then searched hopelessly for the emergency packet that I thought was usually located by the doors. As my students pointed out, it is actually located at the front of the room where anyone but the teacher can easily see it. After the students with a sense of self preservation left for the meeting spot out in the parking lot, I was finally able to drive my reluctant flock outside to wait out the last 15 minutes of the school day and mess up my lesson plan.

I am quite impressed with the alarm system at my school. Instead of the old school bells that leave you unable to hear a word anyone else says, we've got these flashing devices that emit tones on the same resonance frequency as the human skull yet still allow for conversation in the mean time. You wind up being driven outside by the sheer annoyance of it all, except if you are a high schooler, in which case it falls on deaf ears, much like a teacher telling them to shut their face. I had this one chatty group that just would not leave the building, and, though I like them well enough as people, I think I would laugh hysterically if they died from talking too much.

Next January fire alarm, I need to remember to bring my sweater instead of leaving it draped over a chair in the classroom. Even though it is San Diego, January can still be a bit nippy, so I was left cold and vaguely hungry from the burnt popcorn that had apparently started this whole incident in the first place. At least I got a little disaster practice in.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Perhaps I harbor secret fears about our upcoming trip to the museum

Last night I dreamed that I was in charge of a field trip gone horribly wrong. Whatever the kids were supposed to be doing wasn't happening, so while the other teachers scraped something together I was forced to entertain the restless masses. Unable to think of anything else, I was reduced to describing jelly beans and having the students guess the flavor.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Peering into the depths of my... pantry

I'm on a mission to clean out my pantry. I've got so much stuff--food stuff--that has just sat there, collecting dust, in the months and years since I've bought it.

This whole process began in December, when I wanted to avoid buying more perishable food since we were going on vacation. Since then, it has morphed into an all-out pantry searching bonanza. I'm not the only one who feels this way, but my situation has gotten particularly bad from years of neglect. I can't help but pick up the occasional sauce or treat that catches my eye, but then I have a tendency not to use said treats. However, with an eye to our upcoming move (I've already started stockpiling boxes for our immense library), I've decided to weed out all of that excess food that we've been carrying around. It should make for some interesting eating these next few months.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snow on the cacti

Yesterday, R, B, and I went snowboarding. R and I had been planning on going for a while, since the storm that had passed through the area purportedly dumped 4' of snow on the mountains (in truth, more like 1.5'), but I was a little surprised when my sister clamored to go. She had only arrived back in the country at 4 am on Friday, having spent the last 16 days in Bali. I can only imagine that she slept well last night, seeing as she was severely jet lagged. Poor thing!

Still I know she had a good time. She's a trooper (or possibly just a little mad).

On our way home, we saw a tiny car with a ridiculous spoiler that looked like the head of a manta ray.

Maybe I'm a little mad myself.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The plight of the modern teacher

My school has a no-cell-phones-during-class policy. If the phone is out during class time, we're supposed to take them away. The kid whom I took one from today was texting with his mom (or, more precisely, she was texting him). What on earth did she think she was doing? She knows the policy. Does she think the rules don't apply to her kid?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Showing my true color

Blond, that is. All week, I had been wondering why I was able to keep up with the readings for my classes so easily. "Gee, I swear there must be more than this. I'm already a week ahead," I said, totally forgetting about my other classes.

Monday, January 21, 2008


We were very productive today, on this damp and wonderful day off. R and I had been thinking of perhaps going mountain biking again, but due to the rain (and lingering soreness), we called it off. I then decided that it would be the perfect day to go wedding cake tasting. Being the decisive people that we are, we wound up buying the cake. The place we visited was recommended to us for being and excellent bakery and offering very good prices, so I don't think we could have done better if we had looked all weekend.

We decided to get a chocolate cake with butter cream frosting, with tiers filled, alternately, with chocolate and white chocolate mousse. The outside will have white squiggly lines all over a white base, which reminds me of a brain coral. It should be interesting and tasteful, just what I was looking for. Success!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This one's for the ladies

We went mountain biking for the first time since November and, I kid you not, there are palpably swollen spots on my hiney. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun. I need to remember to eat breakfast beforehand, though, as apparently I get a little woozy without something in my stomach.

I noticed this time that there were a lot of other female mountain bikers. Usually the women are vastly outnumbered by the men, and they still were, but this time the ratio was something closer to 2 to 3 instead of the usual 1 to 8. I was definitely glad to see them out there. I'm not some sort of radial feminist, demanding equal participation in everything just for its own sake; instead, I'm glad that other women are enjoying something fun, despite it being a more traditionally male sport. Good job, ladies.


Just as suspected, substituting shrimp and shallots in smoked salmon vermicelli is totally awesome.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I take their stuff

The secretary at the front desk of my school has decided that I win the award for Most Interesting Items Confiscated (she knows, as I give them to her for the students' parents to recover). In addition to the more normal items--cell phones, hats, toys--I have recently confiscated a spoon, a tiny Rubik's Cube, and, the coup de grĂ¢ce, a fart machine. A remote controlled fart machine at that. As I was taking the offending item to the front desk, it started to make noises of its own accord. Realising what was happening, I silently walked up behind the student I had seized the item from and demanded the remote.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Recipe Review: Smoked Salmon Vermicelli

I'll tell you what, this recipe is pretty much my ideal recipe. It's fast, easy, and delicious. It is, however, a good lesson in why you want to prepare your ingredients beforehand. While things were cooking, I was frantically chopping. Since my local grocery store does not appear to know what vermicelli is, I had to substitute angel hair pasta, which cooks faster and changes the rhythm of the recipe. I wound up having to take the boiling pot of water off the heat to let the other ingredients catch up.

In any case, the pasta was great. Even R, who isn't the biggest salmon fan, liked it. The only issue we could find with this recipe was that, for the rest of the evening, we had smoked salmon-flavored burps. Next time, we might try substituting shallots for the onion (we just like the flavor better) and perhaps having shrimp as the meat. The simple cream sauce from the recipe seems open to many possibilities.

Monday, January 14, 2008

You are invited

Now that I've met with a photographer, found a dress pattern, and decided on a place to go cake tasting (something R is definitely looking forward to), it's time to start figuring out what to do about invitations. I had bookmarked some places that seemed reasonable (you'd think that assembling them yourself would be inexpensive), only to realize that the printing fees would double the cost of the invitations. I know it's my wedding, but spending $500 on invitations seems slightly ridiculous. It's a special day, but it's not like I'm winning a Nobel Prize (not the Nobel Peace Prize is worth much these days).

Luckily, with a little effort I was able to find a website with invitations that are in my taste and price range. My current favorites are this invitation in moss and this invitation in ore. I'm going for a green-blue color palette, so either one would work. I don't have my heart set on one just yet, but these are the contenders at the moment.

Once I figure out which invitation to use, I've got to figure out the wording. I'd like to mention our families, but my family situation makes it a little awkward. I don't want to offend my mom, but at the same time my dad and his parents are the ones paying for this whole affair. Plus, I don't want to leave my step-mom out of the mix. Perhaps we'll wind up going with the very modern "Together with their families, A & R would like to invite you to celebrate their marriage," but I'm not sure R is big on that wording. Of course, we could just bypass this whole affair and go with "You are invited to the wedding of A & R," but I really do want to mention our parents in some way. Oh, diplomacy, you are a touchy mistress.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

SoCal = Noob Snowboarding

As you might have guessed, we spent the day on the slopes. We had a lot of fun and also enjoyed the challenge of dodging blockades of new snowboarders. How is it that 2/3 of the people at ski resorts in Southern California are learning to snowboard? You'd think that, after a while, there would be a good-sized population of experienced snowboarders, but that is apparently not the case. Perhaps all the good ones move to locations with better snow (as we will be doing, taking 3 more experienced snowboarders out of the pool).

It was lots of fun, despite the ice early in the day and boot issues [grumble], up until the new snowboarder population reached critical mass. At that point, the whole place turned into a giant clusterfuck and became somewhat perilous. Luckily, having gotten there early instead of the normal SoCal snowboarder arrival time of noon, we'd pretty much gotten a full day in anyway and left with no regrets.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


My grandmother should be getting out of the hospital today. In a freakish and unfortunate series of events, she wound up being knocked underneath my grandfather's car (which is why you shouldn't bend down behind a running car to pick up a newspaper without warning the driver) and the fall broke off the ball of her femur. They replaced her hip on Sunday, she walked down the hallway on Tuesday, and was able to climb stairs on Wednesday. It really is pretty amazing.

Speaking of walking, I really need to get my ass in gear. I put on some of my nice pants, with a higher waistband than anything I've worn for the past month, and I could definitely feel those Christmas cookies. See, I don't need a scale! Just some high pants lacking in stretchiness.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I've got my lessons planned out for the next two weeks and it is so incredibly nice. It doesn't make the class time any easier, but my prep time feels much less hectic. My Tuesday-Thursday meeting was cancelled today and I was able to take an hour to myself and read the blogs. It was nice. I only hope I can keep this up as the semester progresses.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What will they be like in two weeks, I wonder?

Yesterday was the first day back in school after three weeks of vacation for student and teacher alike. The thought of going back made me anxious, and arriving at school sent my intestines into knots, but the students have been surprisingly good. Shockingly good. They've been doing their work with little complaint and some shepherding. In my more challenging class we lost three people, which probably helped, but all of my classes have been good. It really makes me think that year-round school is the answer. The students seem fresh and somewhat receptive to learning. I'm still not feeling it, but perhaps that is contributing to the positive student attitude, as I am mostly having them work with their table groups and allowing them to listen to their iPods when finished. Nothing like good old-fashioned bribery, eh?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Recipe Review: Brussels Sprouts and Sausage Soup

I'll just start be mentioning that I didn't have any caraway seeds, one of the two spices used in this recipe, so the soup I wound up making was lacking one of the base flavors of the recipe. However, I'm pretty sure that R would have liked the recipe less had I included anise-flavored seeds in the broth). In any case, Brussels Sprouts and Sausage Soup, with red and black pepper substituting for the caraway seeds, was surprisingly nice. At first it tastes a little bland, but it grows on you (I had seconds). Plus, if you use a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts, it's really easy to make. A nice combination.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A dress pattern!

Finally! I've found a dress pattern that looks nice. I've basically given up on the idea of keeping my tattoo covered. Apparently fashion these days is all about showing off your back.

What do you all think?

Recipe Review: Emeril's Gulfcoast Fishhouse Restaurant Baked Oysters

During our time in Montana, we watched a lot of TV. An awful lot. Obscene amounts of TV. Apparently sitting zombie-like in the same room counts as family time to some people.

Anyway, during the daytime most of the TV we watched was Food Network, and one of the recipes sounded delicious enough for my TV-addled brain to remember that it wanted to try said recipe. Emeril's Gulfcoast Fishhouse Restaurant Baked Oysters. They sounded so good. They contained all of my favorite ingredients: seafood, butter, garlic. How could that combination be anything but delicious?

I was, however, shocked to discover that there is such a thing as too much butter. I know what you're saying. How could this be true? I tell you now my friends, it is true. Somehow, all of these delicious ingredients combined to make something mediocre. Perhaps I just don't like oysters enough--on the show, Emeril mentioned that the recipe could also be made with scallops, but I wasn't sure how one might cook that.

Oh, well. Better luck next time.

The return of "Things to do in Seattle"

Hadn't seen any activities from Seattle of late (not that I had been looking. No time!), but then this one just popped out at me from a Culinate article I was reading. Soda tasting! Apparently there is a tasting room for Dry Soda. This soda is apparently designed to be something like wine (or at least, to fill the place of it for, say, the pregnant founder), so I suppose it would make sense to go soda tasting.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Recipe Review: Risotto with Spicy Sausage

Man, I love risotto. You can put just about anything in it, whatever you might have around the house, and it always tastes delicious (well, there were a few objections to figs, but I thought they were rather nice). After attempting to go to the supermarket on New Year's Eve with no success, I spent the trip home pondering what I might make. Risotto came to mind, so as soon as I got home I did a search to see what sort of tasty recipes I might find. The one I wound up with, risotto with spicy sausage, was delicious (as I expected). Admittedly, I made the slight alteration of using Cajun sausage instead of Italian, added a bit of sherry, and left out the parsley, but I think the recipe itself has innate merit.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A look forward

Happy 2008 everyone! I suppose it is time, once again, to figure out my goals for the new year.

The goals:

1. Try one new recipe a week. I started doing this a few months ago and have really liked the result it's had on my diet. Variety! Interest! Definitely something to be promoted.

2. Eat more (and different) vegetables. Although I like the plant matter, I feel I've fallen into a veggie slump. I've got a few ways of preparing them that I like, but I grow weary of eating the same veggies day in and day out. Most of the people I work with think I eat an abnormally large amount of vegetables, but that mostly has to do with the fact that I tend to eat the majority of my vegetables for the day at lunch. This year, I'd like to try new veggies and learn some new ways of preparing them. What I'd really like to do is get one of those weekly baskets from local farms, but I don't think I have the time to do that much cooking right now. Perhaps after school is over...

3. Continue to post (on average) every other day and comment more on other people's blogs. Sometimes I want to comment but never wind up doing so, due to the fact that my blog reader is attached to my personal Gmail address and I would have to sign into my blog Gmail address to comment on Blogger blogs. Lara, I apologize, but this probably affects you more than most. I'm still reading, even if I don't comment!

4. Eat fast food less often. I never used to eat out much, but I suppose it's a hazard of going to school while working, as I don't really like preparing two meals in advance for me to carry around. It would save some money if I tried to do it less, however, so I think a goal for this year will be to try and not buy dinner those evenings when I go to class.

Hmm... I can't seem to think of any more goals. That's probably a good sign. I suppose a final goal would be to keep doing the good things I am currently doing. I'm saving, investing, and paying off my student loans. I exercise fairly regularly (it's one of the few good chunks of time I get for reading for pleasure these days) and am not going insane planning my wedding. Aside from an inordinate amount of stress, life really isn't too bad right now.

This next year is looking to be an exciting, life-altering year. Lots of changes on the way. On the horizon...

Finishing my second semester of teaching - The prospect of returning to teaching in less than a week keeps causing my body to release tiny bursts of anxious adrenaline every time I think about it, so I need to keep reminding myself that I've already finished the (purportedly) worst half of it. One semester isn't forever. As they say, this too shall pass, but not soon enough for my taste.

Finishing grad school - Ah, so close! Even though I will probably never use the M.Ed. again, completing it will still be very exciting.

Getting married - Well, as much as people call this a life-changing event, it probably isn't going to change R and my daily life that much (having lived together for 4.5 years now). It will be a name-changing event (for me anyway), an awesome party, and a fine time with all the relatives.

Finding a new job - So, I finish school. Then what? I'll need to find myself a new job and/or career. I'll probably wind up back in school eventually, but I'd like to find an enjoyable career to guide my scholastic ambitions. I'll be looking for jobs in San Diego, but I'll also be looking up in the Seattle/Tacoma area to help us along with our goal of...

Moving to Washington - This may not happen this year, but R and I will start looking for jobs up there once we finish with all the wedding and honeymoon hoopla. Obviously, we could just move up there without jobs and live off our savings for a bit, but I don't want us to have a gap in our health care coverage because I aim to...

Get pregnant - This one just makes me want to squeal like a cheerleader and then pass out from shock. Not exactly the most dignified response, but one could hardly pretend that having babies is a dignified process. I was actually getting a bit nervous about the prospect of having children, having had such an adverse reaction to my students, but being around R's nephew for a week has really got me looking forward to the whole thing.

So, yeah. This next year looks to be very exciting for me. Lots of changes in the picture.