Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Five Things

I haven’t done a meme like this in quite awhile.  I like them as I don’t have to think of a topic, and since it’s a Writer’s Workshop prompt…I’ll do it!  Maybe I’ll expand upon one or two in future posts.

Five Things You (Might Not) Know About Me…
1.  I am fascinated with the mafia.  I know organized crime is very bad, but I find it all very exciting.  I can’t be the only girl who fantasizes about being married to the mob…can I? 
2.  I don’t like to watch other people fold paper.  Seeing them run their fingers over the fold, making a crease, sends chills up my spine. 
3.  I have extremely high expectations of people and how they respond to situations.  When someone doesn’t live up to those (however irrational) expectations I take it as a personal affront.  It’s not fair of me, but I do it anyways.
4. I never received an “F” during the duration of my schooling until the last semester of my senior year of college.  I FINALLY turned 21 and had to register for a lecture-based computer class that started at 8:00 in the morning.  Once old enough to go to the bars, I spent most nights going out that year.  Needless to say, getting up for an 8:00 class didn’t happen.  The easy “A” turned into a FAIL due to attendance.  I was so stupid, but I had so much fun.
5.  There is a gun in my house, but it’s hidden in a closet because it scares me too much to even look at it.

Five Things I Know …
1.  The book is usually WAY better than the movie. 
2.  I know all the words to Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce.  I can sing it for you right now…just ask. 
3.  Ice hockey rules – yes, even icing.
4.  Reading a map is quite easy for me, and I actually enjoy using a map to figure out where to go. 
5.  Growing up riding horses I have a wealth of knowledge about them.  Facts about their anatomy, their care, equipment use, etc. have taken up permanent residence in my head.  As a kid I even won awards for this knowledge.

Five Things I Don’t Know
1.  How to take a compliment – Compliments embarrass the hell out me.  It doesn’t matter if they are superficial or genuine.  If you want to see me turn bright red, say something nice to me. 
2.  How to say “no”.  Even if I don’t want to do it, I will because I feel bad saying “NO”. 
3.  How to play an instrument.  - I LOVE music but do not have a musical bone in my body.  Music is a foreign language that I’ve never been able to grasp.  I admire musically inclined people.
4.  How to pack – I worry that I’m not going to have what I need that I always over pack.
5.  How to garden – I so envy people who have green thumbs.  Mine is brown, just like my plants. 
Five Things I Believe 
1.  Credit card bills should be paid in full every month.
2.  Laughter is the best medicine.
3.  If you want something, you have to work for it.  For most of us, it doesn’t just fall in our lap. 
4.  It’s better to be single than in a mentally or physically abusive relationship.
5.  Believing in god isn’t synonymous with being a good person, just as being a non-believer is not  synonymous with being a bad person. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

I found this recipe on Annie’s Eats who adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe.  I’ve never had a savory cobbler before.  Anything with cooked tomatoes is a winner for me, and this was a winner!

Tomato Cobbler with Gruyere Biscuits
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme
3 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1½ tsp. coarse salt
Pinch of black pepper

Biscuit topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup grated gruyere cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
1½ cups heavy cream

1.  To prepare the filling, combine the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes more.  Remove from the heat and let cool.
2.  Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  
3.  In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, tomatoes, flour, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  
4.  To make the biscuit topping, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is crumbly and small clumps form.  Mix in the cheese.  Stir in the cream with a fork until a sticky dough forms and the dry ingredients are incorporated.
5.  Transfer the tomato mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle the biscuit dough evenly over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese over the top if desired. 
6.  Bake until the tomatoes are bubbly and the biscuit topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. 
7.  Let is set for 10-15 minutes before serving.stuff 336
stuff 338  A couple of notes…
- I halved the recipe and used a square baking dish because there were just two of us eating. 
- It made a great main dish with a salad, but would also be nice as a side dish.
- The time change has made dinner time very dark and there for my photos are kind of blown out.  My trusty iphone takes great photos, but not in artificial light. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011


As my week’s vacation is quickly coming to an end, I have a lot to post about, but no desire to do so at this time.  So instead, a quick post about Rigby.

Rigby, who is crazy, cracked a claw a week or so ago while acting, well, crazy.  I noticed that it was beginning to bother her, so I took her to the vet on my first day off.  Thank goodness it wasn’t anything too worrisome.  The vet had to trim the claw pretty far back and therefore wrapped Rigby’s foot to keep it from bleeding.  Because it was pouring rain that day, the foot was also wrapped in plastic to stay dry.  From the minute she was brought back out to me, Rigby wouldn’t leave her newly wrapped foot alone.  In order to keep her from chewing off the plastic and the bandage, Rigby was fitted with an E Collar, otherwise known as “The Cone Of Shame”. 
rigby 3

With the E Collar, Rigby acted as if I had actually cut off her entire foot.  She barely moved, and if she did she’d walk a step, stop, lift her foot up, and look pathetic.

Because her nose is so long, she had to wear a larger cone which was really too big for the rest of her.  She didn’t have an understanding that she was wider with this collar, so ran into the doors and wall corners.  When she walked up the stairs, she’d drop her head because it was heavy, and then get stuck on the stairs.  About half way up, I’d have to hold the cone up so we could finish our ascent. 

On the second day, she became even more pathetic, and whenever I sat down, she climbed into my lap, cone and all.  rigby 1 rigby 2
I tried to catch up on 2 months worth of Boardwalk Empire and ended up watching just one episode through her plastic cone.

Finally, on day three, she AND I got sick of the cone.  I had sent her outside for her morning '”business”.  It was raining and muddy.  Rigby walked out to the middle of the grass and then just stood, lifting her paw.  I went out in the rain to persuade her to finish up.  She continued to stand on three legs.  So right there, in the middle of the grass, in the rain, I tore off the plastic and the wrap, and took off the stupid hat.  That’s all she needed, she bounced right back to being nuts. 

I’ll have to hold onto that E collar for when I need a break from the crazy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday – The Nekked Burrito

Some of the fresh Mex restaurants have been touting the low carb version of the burrito aka the Naked Burrito…all the burrito goodies without the tortilla.  Here’s my version…

The Nekked Burrito
Makes approx. 4 bowls
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces.  (I seasoned mine with this and cooked on the grill.)
1 15oz can black or pinto (I prefer black, but forgot to buy them at the store so used the pintos in my cupboard.)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup white rice, cooked according to package
1 bunch cilantro
2 limes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Greek yogurt

For Beans
Add beans, chopped tomatoes, and half the onions to a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer while preparing rest of ingredients, at least 30 minutes.
For Rice
1.  Cook rice according to packaged directions.
2.  While rice is cooking, add 1/2 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, garlic, and olive oil to a food processor and blend until chopped. 
3.  When rice is cooked, add cilantro mixture while still hot and mix.
stuff 335 1
For Neeked Burrito
Layer 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup beans, 1/2 cup chicken, and 1-2 tablespoons of cheese in a bowl.  I topped with 1-2 tablespoons Greek yogurt laced with lime zest (mix 1/2 cup yogurt with zest of one lime) and some cilantro sprigs.

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Some Notes…
- I know there are some weirdos people who greatly dislike cilantro.  I don’t get it because I add it by the handfuls to my Mexican food.  But, if you leave it out of the rice, you’re good to go.
- After making this with pinto beans, I made it the following week with black beans.  They were both very tasty.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

But You’re the Parent!

I contemplated writing on another topic this week, but that will have to wait.  This past week, I attended some parent/teacher/assistant principal conferences with a few of my students.  Every year, there are a handful of kids that are not  where they need to be academically and are at risk of being retained if they don’t progress enough by the end of the year.  By law, we have to notify the parents of this in a formal conference (in addition to our regular parent/teacher conferences) at each trimester, before the final decision is made.  Luckily, this year’s kids are pretty close to where they need to be, and the conferences I had were more of a wake up call to both the parents and kids of what they need to do to end the year as readers. All of these conferences were reminders that reading will only get better with practice, and that practice can’t just be at school.  Also, some of the kids needed to be told that if they did not put forth their best effort at school, they would not be moving on with their class to 3rd grade.  The majority of the parents are concerned and promise they will do what they can at home. 

One conference was a bit different though.  J, who is one of my best behaved students, is at risk this year.  She has all the foundational phonics skills she needs for decoding new words, but her reading fluency is limited which means her reading is very slow because she’s sounding everything out.  What she needs is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.  When we told this to the parents, who had a two year old and a new born in tow, they showed concern and agreed with everything we said.  But then the mom, who is maybe 25, told us that she tells J to practice reading at home, but J refuses.  “She refuses?” the AP and I asked.  Yes, she refuses and tells her mom “no”.  Both the AP and I looked at J and told her that if her mom tells her to practice, she needs to practice to get better.  Then I remembered that I met with Dad earlier in the year, and he told me the same thing.  At that conference, the dad brought J with him and wanted me to tell her to listen to her mom.  I did, J smiled and nodded, and continued being a good citizen in class.  Well, in the midst of the conference, we find out that J doesn’t listen to her mom about homework, chores, or helping with her brother and sisters either.  She also gets mad when she’s told that she can’t go play until her homework is done and storms out of the house to go play anyways.  Both our mouths dropped.  We told J how appalled we were in hearing that, and that if she wanted to go to 3rd grade she’d better get it together and start listening to her mom.  This was so shocking to me.  I’ve had parents of poorly behaved students in my class tell me that their child doesn’t listen to them at home, but never one of my best behaved students.  This little girl is such a good citizen at school, I would never have guessed this was going on at home.

Every time I’m told, “He/she just doesn’t listen to me,” at a parent meeting, it irritates me.  I’m no parent, but I think as the adult, the parent is the one who is supposed to be in charge!   But for some that’s hard to do, especially when there are no consequences for not listening.  Some kids are, by nature, good listeners, but for others they need some type of motivation whether it be a positive reward or negative consequence.  That may mean that the video games are taken away, or the tv is taken out of his/her bedroom, or you fly out the door after her and bring her back by her ear. 

From personal experience, I know that having some sense of fear about breaking the rules was really all I needed to be fairly well behaved.  I knew, up front, that if my behavior was not up to par I’d be punished.  That could range from being grounded or spanked when I was little to losing the horse or not being allowed to drive the car when I was a teenager.  Some of these kids think they have the rights to all of these things, and as soon as that happens, of course the parents lose control.  This little girl, at 7, already has the control.  I’m nervous to think what she’ll be like as a teenager.  Thank goodness I don’t teach teenagers!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

delicious3After a gluttonous few weeks I could not take another meal out and had to start cooking something other than PB&J sandwiches.  I’ve gotten my kitchen mojo back, so have a few weeks worth of recipes to share.  I think this one of the best…

Lemon Garlic Chicken Skewers
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.

stuff 319

2.  Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and stir to coat the chicken with the marinade.  stuff 3213.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  
4.  To prevent starting a fire burning the wood skewers, soak them in water for 20-30 minutes before use.
5.  Heat grill to medium and lightly oil before cooking the chicken to keep from sticking. 
6.  Add the chicken to the skewers and place them on the grill, cover, and cook for about 8 minutes, turning once during cooking. 
stuff 327The chicken cooks quite quickly and evenly like this.

I served them with a tomato and cucumber salad dressed with balsamic vinegar, olives, and feta.
stuff 309

For leftovers, I mixed the chicken with the cucumber salad and served in a toasted pita.  The chicken was just as light and tender the next day as it was hot off the grill.
stuff 333

I loved this recipe so much that I’ve already made it twice.  So easy and yummy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

“The Noise-ies”

Each year the students in my classroom have a "thing” that makes them stand out from other years’ students.  Last year, they were naughty.  The year before, they were immature and bouncy.  The year before that, they were respectful, hardworking and very bright.  This year…they are noisy.  And I don’t mean noisy because they talk too much…they do, but that’s not what I mean.  Really, the majority of their noise comes from learning, thinking, and mostly reading.  Everything that goes in and out of their head also comes out of their mouth. 

During math time,all the practice we do that involves counting also involves 24 second graders counting out loud with all their might.  Each morning, they spend the first two minutes of the day practicing their addition and subtraction facts.  If someone walked in during those two minutes, with all that purposeful counting, he or she would think I had completely lost my mind control of my class.

Reading is the noisiest time.  If they are all reading something at the same time, the classroom sounds like a busy playground.  In reading groups, where they surround me in a semi-circle, I am often blown into the wall behind me with the force of their words. 

Second grade is such an important year for reading.  It is when they (hopefully) move away from learning to read towards reading to learn.  Every year, there are always a handful of kids who read out loud, as they are developmentally in a different place than the others and still need to hear themselves read.  This is the first year where the entire class is in that place.   

Let me tell you, that place is noisy.  I run a pretty tight ship and excessive talking is not tolerated, unless it’s part of learning, and even then it must be kept to an “inside voice”.  For the last month, we’ve been REALLY working on whispering when learning, or quietly mouthing the words they say with the hopes that they can start learning in their heads, rather than out of their mouths.  However, it’s been slow going.  If I forget to remind them to read or count or think “quietly”, they do not.  This year, I’ve had to adjust my noise tolerance as they need the talking to learn. 

But at least I know they ARE learning…I can hear them!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It’s Been Fall For Like 5 Minutes

Summer in So. Cal. seems to be lasting longer and longer these days.  We were still in the 90s (gasp) well into late October.  In fact, it was 89 degrees and WINDY on Halloween.  So the cold front that moved in yesterday, bringing a short storm along with it, was kind of nice.

my drive home from work Friday evening

stuff 001

I took Rigby out for a long walk after being cooped up all day.

stuff 013

stuff 015 stuff 016 stuff 022 stuff 024 The skies are particularly picturesque after a storm, plus everything seems so clean and fresh.

stuff 020 stuff 008 The strong wind (30-40 mph) knocked some pods off the magnolia trees. 

A new toy?

stuff 003 stuff 007stuff 004    stuff 021
Now we’re probably done with summer for awhile…fingers crossed!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Current Pet Peeve (In 8)

In a hurry, I followed behind (multiple) you(s) in the giant parking lot with little to no traffic.

You drove a bit past the parking space and then stopped.

Your car shimmied some as it reversed into the parking space.

A little too far to the left, so you pulled forward and backed in again, this time a little too far to the right.

During the third back in, I slipped behind you shaking my head and pulled (front first) into the parking spot a few spaces down.

After collecting my things, I locked the door and walked towards the entrance, passing you on the way.

You were still backing in your car, and I wondered why the f@$% you didn’t just park forward like a regular person.

Most of the time, it’s just easier to pull in and back out…it just is!


This post is in response to Mama Kat’s prompt, “Do a post in 8 lines.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ten Months Down, Two To Go (or There’s Only Four Pages Left in My Art Journal!)

The problem with doing the Calendar Challenge over at The Kathryn Wheel is that I’ve counted down the months left in the year more than I think I would have done otherwise.  I can’t believe we are two months away from 2012! 

I’m not really happy with October’s calendar at all.  I did not execute my initial vision for it very well, and then mucked it up by trying to doodle spider webs all over it.  I didn’t spend the time on the doodles like I should have so they just look sloppy to me.  AND, I completely forgot to leave room for the 30th and 31st…duh!  Oh well, it is what it is.stuff 065
I did work on a few other pages which I was more pleased with.
 stuff 080 
I cropped this some and then blurred out the text as it is a bit more personal than I’m willing to share in a post.
stuff 069 
Since I’ve done some small traveling this past month, I also spent some time working in my Sketchbook Project sketchbook – Travel With Me.  After my visit to the Brooklyn Art Library and seeing all the amazing books,  I’m not doing justice to this project at all.  But I’m still having fun with it.
 stuff 071 stuff 073 stuff 075 stuff 077
This month I realized that, even though there are two months left, I am running out of room in my 2011 journal.  My left brain tells me to just limit myself so when December 31 arrives, I can put that journal away and start fresh in a new one for January.  At the same time, my right brain is stressing out because I have two vacations coming up before 2012 and will want to work in it during all that free time.  That in turn is stressing my left brain out.  Up until this year, I worked randomly in 2-3 journals, but I’ve really enjoyed working in one this year – having everything in one place.  I will most likely sneak behind my left brain’s back and a start the 2012 journal early.

Happy November!