Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grown Up Mac and Cheese


Last week, I wrote about my LEAST favorite food.  This week, I’m sharing a recipe for one of my favorite meals…Macaroni and Cheese! 

What’s there not to like about macaroni and cheese?  It’s got cheese and it’s got pasta - two of my favorite food groups!  It has been a “go to” food for as long as I can remember.  If I’m desperate, and there is a mac and cheese emergency, I even like the blue box…

untitledBut since I’m not 7, I can also make a mean adult version of macaroni and cheese.  Looking back at my Tasty Tuesday recipes, I can’t believe I’ve never shared a Mac and Cheese recipe before because I’ve got many.  This is my most recent.

Grown Up Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound pasta (I used penne), cooked, drained
- 6 slices thick cut bacon, cooked, chopped (I used Applewood from Trader Joe’s)
- 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts cooked and cut into small pieces (I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and paprika and put them on the grill)
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
- 1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheese, grated or cubed
- 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated or cubed
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

1.  Prepare pasta, chicken, and bacon and set aside while sauce is prepared
2.  In a medium sized pot melt the butter and then add the shallots.  Cook over medium heat until soften and lightly golden, 10-15 minutes.
3.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 1 minute.
4.  Whisk in chicken broth and milk.  Raise heat to med-high bringing to a boil, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring until sauce is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.
5.  Reduce heat to med-low.  Stir in thyme and salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
6.  Gradually add cheeses to the sauce, stirring until melted.  Remove from heat.
7.  Add bacon, chicken, and pasta to the cheese sauce and mixed together.  Pour mixture into a 10x15 casserole dish. 
8.  Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the top is browned.
Serves 6-8 stuff 209

stuff 217 The gourmet cheeses make it very rich so a little plate full is just right.  Enjoy!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts Big
  • For the last two weeks my students and I have been watching “The Sound of Music” during the last 15-20 minutes of school.  On Monday, one of the kids had an A-ha moment when he realized that the movie was taking place in another country.  We discussed it for a moment and he asked if they spoke English in that country.  I told him I was sure many of the people did, but that they had their own language.  He wondered aloud why the movie was not in the language of the country it took place in.  Then this evening I watched the season finale of “The Borgias” – the Showtime drama about the wonderfully scandalous Borgia family.  As I watched, I also thought about the Sound of Music.  English is spoken in both programs.  However the English is spoken with a British accent in both as well.  Why is it that TV/Movies taking place in European countries with their own language always have actors who speak with an English accent?  Of course, the shows are made for an English speaking audience, but why couldn’t the accent be that of German or Italian (in the case of the two mentioned above)?
  • Rigby has a new best friend.  My neighbor down the street has border collie mix named Emma who is the same age as Rigby.  Emma comes to visit 2-3 times a week for a play date.  Being that they are both working dogs, they have similar energy and temperaments.  The two of them have a blast and spend most of their time herding each other around the back yard.  Which gives me a break from being herded around the house.  They run and wrestle for hours; to the point that they are so tired but don’t want to stop playing.  So they just roll around on top of each other. 

art 039

They are so darn cute!art 037  And the best part…they are both exhausted when the date is over.

  • Speaking of Rigby, now that the temperature has warmed up a bit, she is shedding so badly.  I find her hair everywhere!  This tool was recommended to me…
    It’s the Furminator!   It’s does a great job of really getting out that undercoat and is quite gentle.  Rigby likes when I brush her with it. The last few weeks though it’s been like I’m shearing a sheep.  There is so much hair coming off my dog, it’s unbelievable.  
    dogThis hair is what I brushed out in about 5 minutes today.  Someone could make a sweater out of all that fur.  Not me, but someone could.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And It’s Over!

After 2 weeks, 72 test booklets, and sharpening pencils 384 times, testing is finally OVER! 

  Look at all this paper!  Clearly, the success of America’s education rest solely on this mound of tests. 

I have been so cranky sitting at my desk, twiddling my thumbs, calling out, “There’s not talking during the test!”  Now there are still four weeks left of school…what to do, what to do?  We’re going to finally have some fun!

Before I finally put this complaint to bed I just want to add…


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

Let me first start with PRESENTS!  I love presents!  The wonderful and amazing Marey at LMNOP sent me this beautiful embroidered towel!  Isn’t it fabulous?  What a surprise to get this in the mail. 
rocks 130

Thank you Marey!  I love it.

I had a ton of tomatoes and some fresh mozzarella cheese in the kitchen.  After pretty much overdosing on caprese salad this past week, I decided to mix it up a little, while still using these same ingredients.  I added tomatoes and cheese to my basic risotto.  To me, arborio rice is fascinating!  A food that makes its own sauce?!?!

Caprese Risotto

4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp ev olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine (I just use whatever is leftover in the fridge)
1 cup tomato sauce (I made mine, but jarred sauce will work just fine)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put broth in a small saucepan and simmer.
2. In a large skillet, melt butter into olive oil over medium heat.
3. Add chopped garlic/shallot and sauté for a short time, stirring to keep garlic from browning.
4. Add rice to pan, stir into the butter/oil and sauté for about 2 minutes. Rice will begin to turn translucent. 
5. Add wine to pan and let it cook away, 1-2 minutes. (This is my favorite part!  It smells SO good.)  Be sure wine is at room temperature.  If it’s cold it will shock the rice and it may stop cooking.
6. Add the tomato sauce and a ladle or two of broth.  Continually stir while cooking over med to med/high heat.   The rice will absorb the liquid rather quickly.
7. Continue adding ladles of broth and stirring, when the previous liquid has been absorbed, over the next 18-20 minutes or so.
8.  When rice is done (creamy but still firm) turn off the heat.
9.  Stir in the chopped basil and parmesan cheese.
10.  Add the mozzarella cheese a little at a time and stir until it starts to melt. 

Oh my!  This recipe is amazing!  The fresh basil and little melted pockets of mozzarella cheese are delicious!  It was like a party in my mouth!

rapture 001

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I’m Still Here, Are You?

Well, 6:00 has come and gone.  I assumed I wouldn’t be one of the chosen ones who was called to heaven, but it doesn’t seem that I know anyone who was either.   

Just in case though, I made sure this was a fun weekend. 

The Hollywood Bowl was full of “sinners” Friday night who attended the Kylie Minogue show.  It was fun AND eventful!

rapture 002Mike, Santiago, and Jason acted out some of the upcoming songs.

rapture 004I love The Bowl!  It was a gorgeous evening.

rapture 019
 rapture 021Kylie sang all of our faves.
 rapture 028Final Encore!

rapture 039As 6:00 PM loomed on Saturday Rigby was clearly concerned!

rapture 041Soothing ourselves with wine and cheese Saturday night as judgment day arrived. 

After all the hype…nothing!  Even though I knew there was no chance, part of me hoped I was a chosen one so I didn’t have to face another week of testing. Oh well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


My plan to write about standardized testing all week has been put on the back burner.  Not only is today Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, the daily testing posts were getting on my nerves.  They were supposed to be cathartic, but instead the posts were just pissing me off. 

Instead, a subject that is more fun…food!  I love to cook, I love to eat, but with that being said I’m a very picky eater.  I have a list of foods that I don’t care for at all and am not mature enough to “just eat them”.  But there is only one food (if you can call it that) that makes me physically ill…mayo!

I abhor mayonnaise.   Hate it!  I can’t taste it, look at, or even listen to it.  It is so incredibly foul, just thinking about it makes me gag.  I have literally felt this way since the womb.  The only time my mom had morning sickness when she was pregnant with me was when she spread mayo on bread while making sandwiches. 

Last week my friends wanted me to make a decision, a choice if you will.  What would I do if I had to eat a jar of mayonnaise every day or have a baby (equally as frightening)?  Even as they badgered me, I had to abstain from that choice.  A baby is a pretty big deal, and your life changes immensely.  But still, eating mayo every single day might be worse.  In fact, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Testing Week, Day 3

In honor of testing week, I’m posting daily frustrations about standardized testing.  Click if you’ve missed day 1 or day 2.

I opened the door to the classroom today and something was amiss.  Someone had been in my room.   As I dragged my giant bag of testing paraphernalia through the door, I was “greeted” with a harsh, “I’ve walked through your room and you have things up that need to be taken down before you give the test.”  My sunglasses were on, so I could roll my eyes without being seen. 

When standardized testing begins we are told to take down posters and teaching materials used to teach anything that is on the test.  Even though there are still 6 weeks left of school, teachers are told to basically tear down anything of substance from their walls because clearly the testing is more important than instruction in school.  I had taken down the posters I use for skills’ instruction last week.  However, what I did leave up was 7 posters that my kids created to help them include description and emotional reaction to their writing.  rocks 136We write daily, and use these posters all the time.  So I didn’t take them down. 

This morning I was asked to.  It’s so irritating, because nothing on them is on the test.  Removing them before the test every morning and putting them back up after the test every afternoon is just ridiculous, not to mention that (as I’ve established) I’m not that tall.  Taking them up and down requires chairs or ladders.  It’s hardly worth the effort…even though there are still 6 weeks left ,and I need those damn posters!  I can’t stand testing!

Did you listen to “Not on the Test” yet!  Here’s your chance. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Testing Week, Day 2

In honor of testing week, I’m posting daily snippets about the joys of standardized testing.  If you missed yesterday, here’s Day 1.

Most teachers use gimmicks and bribes to get through standardized testing.  Elementary school kids don’t really have an understanding of the importance some put on these kinds of tests, so using some encouragement can help increase effort.  I have heard of teachers letting their kids chew minty gum or suck on mints to keep minds awake.  Another idea is to let the kids take off their shoes while they are testing.  Others use bribes like extra recesses or parties or prizes for putting forth best efforts.

As I’ve mentioned, my school has a very low income population and therefore one of our biggest concerns is that our kids won’t have eaten a decent breakfast.  We don’t want growling bellies to lessen focus while testing.  Many of us have “brainfood” available for our kids when they arrive in the classroom.  During morning business and while setting up for the test, students are given a little baggie or cup of brainfood.  This is like a trail mix mixture with cereals, nuts, raisins, pretzels, etc. 

This year I have a student who is allergic to peanuts, so I created his own bag of brainfood.  After explaining this to him, one of my other students and I shared this exchange…

R – Can I get my own bag because I’m allergic to these raisins. (snarls at the raisins in his baggie)

Miss Delight – You’re allergic to raisins?  I’ve never heard of that allergy before.

R - (nods) I am!

Miss Delight – What happens when you eat them?

R – I spit them out and go aaagggghhhhh (making a gagging sound). 

Miss Delight - (rolls eyes and walks away)

If you didn’t get a chance to see this yet, be sure to check it out.  Fun-ny!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Testing Week Random Thoughts, Day 1

Random Thoughts BigAfter 4 solid weeks of test prep, the California STAR test begins today and will last the entire week. The week of, as well as the weeks leading up to, testing is always full of good stories.

  • Test practice the last few weeks has included A LOT of multiple choice practice with types of questions student might see as well as tips on how the test writers like to trick little kids. The last week of test practice, things changed a little for math. You see, the STAR math portion for 2nd grade is a little different than the rest of the tests. In second grade, we expect all students to be reading, but of course since all students are not EXACTLY the same, some are better than others. Therefore, in order to make it a math test and not a reading test, the teachers are given the math test directions and are allowed to read the directions to each problem on the test. What a great idea, right?!?! It sounds like it, but what the test doesn’t have is directions on the students’ booklets. The students have the multiple choice answers and possibly some numbers or pictures, but not the actual math question. Therefore, it becomes more of a listening test than a math test. Very few students are auditory, most are visual so let’s just say that having to listen clearly to 96 math questions without having them to look at is another kind of test practice. That’s what we did last week so the kids were prepared.
  • Unfortunately, this preparation wreaks havoc on the teacher! After giving an overview of how this test looks so different than what they were used to, we got started with some practice questions. As I began to read #1, I already noticed some glazed eyes. I reminded them, again, that I could only read the questions two times. I had a few more students ready. But not “B”. “B” is my video game addict. He plays video games constantly. I’m sorry – not video games in general but Halo which is a very violent, adult themed video game. Every day he comes in and has a story for me about video games. Well, B is very bright, but isn’t terribly focused on oral directions because I’m not wielding a sword and wearing a bikini while giving them. On our regular math tests, I read the directions for those who need them, while B stares and then reads them on his own and solves the problem when I’m done. Are you sensing a problem here? So as I read the directions to the first question, B wasn’t looking anywhere near his test booklet. While about half the class got started on the questions, I reminded B again, pointing to the questions, “I can only read these directions one more time. Make sure you follow along.” I continued for the second time and the rest of the class solved the problem. Moments later, B raised his hand, “Miss Delight, what do I do on this question?” That is when Miss Delight crawled into a fetal position under her desk.
  • On Thursday, the air conditioning in my classroom stopped working. It was 82 degrees in my classroom. After two days and three work order requests, it has yet to be looked at. Chances are, it won’t get fixed before the day starts today. I wonder what sweaty, drippy second graders who are about to pass out onto their test booklet will do to my test scores?
  • As I write this, my students are (hopefully) headed to bed. As they sleep, I will think about this song…

For some reason youtube wasn’t letting me imbed the video. Click the link to the original. It’s a couple of minutes, but very funny!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes, Again

Yesterday, sitting at the reading table, I had a small wardrobe malfunction.  While leaning forward to help a student, “the girls” lifted a bit and more chest area than I would have liked peeked out through my school-appropriate blouse.  I quickly realized what was happening and sat back down.  However when I did, the disturbance, if you will, left a small portion of my bra showing, which I did not realize.

Shortly after, one of my students, we’ll call her Amla, walked past the reading table.  Amla is a sweety.  She is an English language learner with quite a limited vocabulary which causes her to struggle quite a bit in school.  Even so, she is a great citizen and very helpful.  Case in point, as she walked by she whispered, “Miss Delight.”  I looked up at her, and she was pointing to her shirt.  “Your bra is showing,” she continued quietly in her broken English.  I looked down, and sure enough it was.  I smiled and thanked her as I got things put back together.  She smiled back and giggled, “It’s pink.”  I chuckled, “Yes it is.”  And she moved along discreetly.

At dismissal, I herded the kids down the stairs to our 2nd grade meeting place.  As they made their way to the various dismissal lines I heard, “MISS DELIGHT!”  I looked up, and there Amla stood about 20 feet away. “Remember when your bra was showing?” she hollered across the hustle and bustle. 

I put on my fake smile and nodded, “Yes, yes I do remember.”  She giggled and walked to her line.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It’s Had a Week to Bake

and I’m still kind of discombobulated in my thoughts. My post will most likely mirror that.

It’s been a little over a week since the announcement that Bin Laden had been killed was made. Like probably most, my first reaction was of surprise or shock. There hadn’t been too much news about him recently so to hear that he had been found and shot dead took me back a bit. I, of course, waited for the President to address the nation. I really like to listen to Obama speak. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a leader who sounds intelligent. His speech was quick and to the point and a little bit snarky knowing that while Trump was dragging him through the proverbial mud he was dealing with a strategic crisis.

Within minutes of the announcement on the news, there were posts all over facebook and blogs cyberly cheering the announcement. That took me back a little, and as the night went on into the next day the conceitedness about it started to turn my stomach.

This past weekend, one my favorite artsy-bloggers iHanna posted this wonderful quote…
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

I think that’s when I realized that was where my uneasiness was coming from. I no longer have a religious bone in my body, so I wasn’t having faith-based issues with my country’s decision to purposely kill another human being.

Was this decision a necessary evil? Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. Is killing this man going to fix the problems we have with the Middle East? Probably not. Must we, as a country, be pumping our fists and dancing in the streets about it? No.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

In class, we’ve been studying animal classifications and life cycles for science. Yesterday I had just finished a lesson on metamorphosis when a discussion about different animal life cycles ensued. It went a little like this…

Miss Delight – Mammals, like dogs, horses and people, don’t go through metamorphosis. Our changes are smaller. Our arms and legs grow, we get heavier, and we get taller as we grow up.

Student #1 – Not everyone gets taller, you didn’t

Student #2 – My mom is taller than you.

Student #3 – My brother is this much taller than you (measuring about 12 inches with his hands) and he’s only in 5th grade!

Student #4 – Everyone I know is taller than you Miss Delight.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother’s Day…This and That

Happy cinco de mayo Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. My mom lives 3,000 miles away so we will just be speaking on the phone this weekend. My mom is pretty great. Just like any mother and daughter, we get frustrated with each other, but I love my mom very much and, although I don’t want her living with me, I wish she lived closer.

I sent my mom a package containing little Mother’s Day gifts. I’m hoping it arrives on time as the postal service in Hawaii is often much to be desired. The envelope was decorated especially for her…
food 001 copy food 003
Here is a “poem” (I’m not a poet and I totally know it!) about my Mom…

Mom, when you are in Hawaii
I miss you so much.
When you are here (staying with me)
Well, not as such.

You’re the person I call
When I need advice
Or just to chat about our day
Is very nice.

I love to hear about your crazy antics
Like transporting ganja in the trunk
Or not deleting trapster so
you can drive home drunk .
(I know she’ll kill me for that stanza)

You shoot beautiful photography
In your tropical location
And make just about everyday
A special occasion.

I know it’s been an adjustment
Without dad in your life
But you’ve handled it quite well
Without too much strife.

I continue to wish you
Happy times
And many bottles
Of good red wine!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

mom 2

and a happy cinco de mayo to  you all!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shorty Shorts

Women’s fashions have come and gone and then come back again.  Bell bottoms, skinny jeans, leggings with baggie tops…not necessarily good comebacks, but comebacks nonetheless.

So why haven’t we seen the man’s shorty short jumpsuit make a reappearance?

shorty shorts
Then again, maybe it shouldn’t.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Four Months Down (4 for 4)

Since the first two weeks of April were part of my spring break, I was able to work in the art room and get a lot of projects completed.

For the calendar challenge over at The Kathryn Wheel, I tried a new calendar layout. Instead of cutting out squares for each day of the week, I masked the squares and then worked over them. Once the background was completed, I removed the masks and the white squares remained.

food 007As I mentioned last time, I’m having trouble getting the squares large enough without covering up too much of the background. I like the look of these, but they were WAY too small! I have too much to say. I started working on May’s calendar this afternoon and have resigned myself to just making larger days and not worrying too much about my background.

My favorite part of spring break, other than the sleep, was uninterrupted time to play in the art room. And that’s just what I did.

Pages from my art journal.