Sunday, January 29, 2012

Exploring a New Site

The first week back to school was THE CRAZIEST week I’ve had in some time.  It was great to see my kiddos, and they hit the ground running upon our return.  However,  I had a meeting after school every day last week which really limited my prep and planning time in my classroom.  I felt like I was swimming up stream the entire week.  I came home from work Friday night and crashed.  I felt like going to bed and not waking until Sunday.  But I didn’t…

Some friends invited me to visit the The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena.  I’ve been to most of the art museums in Los Angeles, but never the Huntington. 

What a beautiful day for a Saturday outing!
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The Huntington was the winter home of Henry Edward Huntington and his wife Arabella, both avid book and art collectors, beginning in the early 1900s.  In 1919, he signed over the property in and its contents to a non-profit trust creating the current establishment.

The 120 acres of land are beautifully landscaped into themed gardens.  The camellia garden was our first stop. 
 stuff 007 stuff 010 These camellia bushes are enormous and so pretty.

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The Shakespeare Garden
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The Rose Garden is supposedly quite pretty in the spring and summer, but this time of year the rose bushes are cut back for the winter.  We walked through anyways, and this magnolia tree at the start of the garden rocked my world.  stuff 027 stuff 031
The Huntington is very well-known for its Japanese gardens, but they are closed right now due to renovation.  We did visit the Chinese gardens which were still very nice.
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Our main reason for visiting was the Sam Maloof exhibit – The House That Sam Built is part of Pacific Standard Time, a collaborative project organized by the Getty.
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Sam Maloof was an influential woodworker in the mid 1900s.  His work helped lead the way in the California modern arts movement.  stuff 065

A string chair!
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stuff 073A double music stand and chair created for Jan Hlinka, an LA Philharmonic violist. 
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A view of some of the grounds from the exhibit hall.
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We spent at least another two hours wandering around the Huntington’s home and a few more of the gardens.  Since I was only armed with my iPhone, the battery died very quickly.  I had to stop taking pictures for the rest of the day.

I enjoyed my first visit to the Huntington.  It was a great day.  Although, we probably didn’t get to see half of it.  There is so much to do and see.  We’ll have to go back in the spring when the rose garden is in bloom, and I want to be sure to spend some time in the library which houses rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other British and American history and literature materials – I’m sure that will be a day’s visit all in itself. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The End is Here

As nice as a month long vacation is, it is brutal when it’s over.  I’ve gotten so used to staying up LATE and sleeping in and basically not having a job and playing all day.  What a shock to my system 5:30 tomorrow morning is going to be!  I spent the day sulking and trying to make my remaining few hours of vacation last as long as possible.  It didn’t work.  It’s already my work bedtime.  I don’t like work bedtime.  Vacation bedtime is so much more fun.  But there is good news…Only 48 more days until spring break!

Before turning in for the night, I’ll leave you with this video.  The song, which is a favorite of mine, has been out for a year or more, but I just happened upon the video today.  It makes me smile…

Friday, January 20, 2012

So I Had a Little Emergency…

It was late last night when I decided to head to bed.  Before doing so, I let the dog out so she was set for the night.  Since she’s a nut and can not help but drag dirt and grass through the house, I stop her at the back door and wipe off her paws before letting her come inside.  While standing in the doorway with a towel, her wiggly butt somehow maneuvered it’s way to the door pushing it over the top of my foot.  At least I think that’s what happened as the tremendous amount of pain and spurting blood may have affected my memory a little bit. 

The metal weathering material under the door somehow sliced my big toe/nail in half.  Yah, that’s right, in half!  After the initial shock of what happened, I screamed bloody murder and hurled myself to the ground.  It was so painful.  It was also the middle of the night, too late to go to the doctor.  Thankfully, I didn’t die right there on the dining room floor, so I managed to wrap up my toe and clean up the puddle of blood that had formed under my foot.  I didn’t sleep much so was able to get up early this morning and get in to see the doctor. 

What a miserable morning!  Three shots in the toe to numb it and half my toenail removed.  Ick!  But luckily, no stitches!  Other than some twinges of pain, I feel much better albeit the giant wrap on my toe that has made it triple its size – only to fit in flip flops or slippers.  I guess it could have been worse, but sheesh, what a night!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to wear real shoes by the time the first day back to school on Monday. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tasty Tuesday (At least it was still Tuesday when I began writing this post)

Tonight I had some friends over for dinner.  It was a super casual night, but the food was really good.  Let me share the best parts of the menu with you…

To start, I made Pulled Pork.  I have posted this recipe before.  It is delicious.  I must restate that there are a ton of ingredients, but don’t let that scare you away.  Really, most of them are spices that we all have in our pantry.  As usual, it was a hit!

Next was a “winter” salad.  I took some ideas from two winter salad recipes I found online and made up this one…
Roasted Tomato Salad
10 ounces (about 1 pint) cherry tomatoes (or substitute grape tomatoes)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – split
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar – split
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stem fresh rosemary, or dried rosemary will work
¾ head of red leaf lettuce, washed and torn
¾ head of green leaf lettuce, washed and torn
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Add 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the rosemary (if using dried – sprinkle on the tray, not on the tomatoes, after tosssing), and toss. 

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3.  Roast until tomatoes are soft and beginning to collapse, 20 to 25 minutes.

stuff 368This was my favorite part! 

4.  Transfer 4 tomatoes to a cutting board. Gently crush those 4 tomatoes. Separate skins from pulp and discard skins and rosemary.  Save remaining tomatoes for later.
5.  Scrape tomato pulp and liquid into a bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add remaining 1/4 cup oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
stuff 3716.  Combine lettuce, and pecans in a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of the tomato vinaigrette. Top with reserved tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve immediately.

I had to do the last part right before serving, so didn’t get a photo of the finished dish, darn it!  But trust me, it looked and tasted wonderful.

Lastly, I found these amazing Salted Caramel Butter Bars on Pinterest this week and just had to make them for dessert.  Knowing that they are made with shortbread dough, I was a little apprehensive, thinking they would be difficult.  They were not.  The recipe is very easy.
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And they are TO DIE FOR!  In fact, I’m bringing the leftovers when I go work at school tomorrow because I do not trust myself left alone with their salty-sweet goodness.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Winter Movie Post

Tonight the Golden Globes were presented in Hollywood to honor 2011’s film and television.  Watching the award’s show isn’t really a priority for me. I like knowing who or what received the honors but I don’t like all the extra entertainment that makes the ceremony 3-4 hours long. Sometimes, if I’m very interested, I’ll record the show and fast forward all the extras.  This year however, I didn’t have much of an interest.  Many of the movies nominated weren’t shown in more than a theatre or two in Los Angeles before being nominated.  It seems odd that they can be nominated even if no one has really seen them.

Since my winter break lasts a month, I’ve been to quite a few movies.  I love going to the movies when I’m on vacation.  Unfortunately, since my breaks coincide with kid breaks, about half the movies out while I’m on vacation are kids’ movies.  I did manage to catch some good flicks…

J.Edgar – Leonardo DiCaprio was outstanding as Hoover.  I can’t say it was a great movie because Hoover was such a sad, angry little man which was depressing, but it was very interesting and very well done.

New Year’s Eve – I must admit, I had no desire to see this movie.  Some friends and I went to see “Valentine’s Day” a couple of years back and it was awful.  NY’sE seemed like a very similar, ensemble-cast romantic comedy.  I was finessed into seeing it, convinced I wouldn’t like it.  But actually, it was kind of cute.  Not an award winner, but it did entertain me for the two hours. 

My Week with Marilyn – The story of Marilyn Monroe’s 1950’s trip to London.  The movie was well done, and I thought Michelle Williams did a great job playing Monroe.  It was a nice movie and not too long or drawn out.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Since my alter ego is an international spy, I liked this movie a lot.  It is based on author John le CarrĂ©’s George Smiley books.  It takes place in London during the Cold War where Smiley is tasked with finding a double agent in MI6.  It’s slow moving, and you must pay very close attention because there are a lot of characters and flashbacks.  I found it fascinating.

We Bought a Zoo – Based on a true story, a widower decides to move his family to the country and buy a dilapidated animal park.  Matt Damon makes my heart go pitter patter, so I would have liked this movie no matter what.  However, it was a very nice movie.  The little girl who played his daughter is adorable and the animals are the stars of the movie.  I’m a crier at anything sentimental so I cried during the entire last half of the movie.  It would make for a really good family movie night.

War Horse – WOW!  This movie was incredible.  Based on the Broadway play which is based on the book, Steven Spielberg directed this movie about a boy and his horse.  It is epic!  The movie spans the time of the birth of the “war horse” to the end of World War I.  The horse is amazing, and the boy trains him to be even more amazing.  The horse is then shipped off to war where he continues to be amazing throughout the war.  Being a horse lover, I cried like a hundred times during the movie.  If you are an animal lover, bring a tissue.  I’ve heard the reviews say that it is very gory, but I thought the war scenes were quite tasteful.  The gore is implied more than shown…in my opinion.  GO SEE IT!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I read and LOVED the Stieg Larsson trilogy which begins with TGWTDT.  The trilogy was so freaking exciting that it has basically ruined every other book I’ve read since – I can’t seem to get that adrenaline feeling back that I had reading those three books.  So this movie was highly anticipated.  I saw all three of the Swedish films, and they were so well done and so true to the books.  I was a little weary of “Hollywood” remaking it as they always seem to mess up the great books, changing details that shouldn’t be changed.  Alas, this version was also quite true to the book.  There were a few minor changes or things left out, but that is forgivable.  Journalist Mikael Bloomkvist (Daniel Craig) and quirky P.I. Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) solve the “murder” of Harriet Vangar.  The cinematography is gorgeous and haunting.  I went home and ordered the three books from the library again, feeling the need to read them again.  So good!

Joyful Noise – Ehhh, this was the only movie I’ve seen so far this winter that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.  I probably wouldn’t have seen it, but my mom was in town and wanted to go. Dolly Parton and Queen Latifa play a pair of church choir singers.  The movie and the music are pretty churchy, but it was well sung.  If you’ve seen the preview, you’ve basically seen the movie.  I do need to mention that I did cry at the end of this one too, but that’s just because I’m a big baby, not because it was emotionally riveting.

Descendents – Again, because it stars George Clooney, I’d probably have liked Descendents regardless.  Based on Kaui Hart Hemmings' book of the same name, a work-a-holic father must begin parenting his two daughters after his wife is involved in a very bad boating accident.  Hawaii is a main character in this movie as the family visits three of the islands for various reasons.  It wasn’t a fast paced movie, but it was very real – issues that real families face.  I saw this movie twice -once with friends and once when my mom came into town as, ironically, it WASN’T playing in Hawaii.  I think this is a tear jerker for most, but after the death of my dad in Hawaii and the spreading of his ashes in the ocean on an outrigger, this movie hit very close to home.  I was a mess…both times!  While writing this, George Clooney received the Golden Globe for this movie.  He did a good job, but I think Leo should have won.  Sorry George.

Shame – Actor Michael Fassbender plays a sex addict.  His sister (Carrie Mulligan) is messed up in other ways.  It’s basically artsy porn, which is fine.  I’m just thankful I didn’t take my mom to see that one.

With one week left of vacation, there are three movies that I still want to see…
Contraband – with Marky-Mark Wahlberg
Haywire – Another spy movie
Iron Lady – Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher

Did you take in any movies this winter?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Disheartened (or the post where I don’t like jerks)

Shortly after beginning winter break, I received a message from one of my colleagues who had gone to our school.  There had been some vandalism on campus which included the trash cans having been set on fire.
stuff 048Our school is located in a neighborhood where the majority of the families are low income.  There may or may not be a correlation, but this is not the first time we’ve been vandalized.  In fact, upon hearing this news, I was relieved that it hadn’t been more destructive.  No one’s classroom had been broken into. 

That was until yesterday.  I received an email yesterday from our Assistant Principal that another colleague’s classroom had been broken into, and her laptop and built-in projector had been stolen.  The AP suspected that the corner classrooms were the target because of their limited view.
Being one of those classrooms, the technology in my room was removed and locked up. 

This second incident in two weeks has irritated the hell out of me.  It’s so frustrating that someone thought it was ok to vandalize – anything really – but a school of all things.  Whether the person who did it was a student or not, it makes me angry that human beings are such jerks!  We are supposed to be an advanced species, but we are the only ones who stoop so low and act like jerks.  I know there is probably some sociological reason for vandalism and other a-hole behavior, but I don’t really care about that today.  I don’t have tolerance for that behavior or the reason behind it.  We’ve all had bad things happen to us, but we aren’t all jerks. It’s so disheartening when a place that you and your colleagues work so hard to keep nice for the kids and the community is treated so poorly.  Grrr!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tasty Tuesday

This past weekend I had some friends over for dinner and made these super yummy, super easy brownies for dessert.  I saw them on pinterest, but the link associated with it is a pot website – no they are not magic brownies!  Although I guess you could make them as such. 
So I came up with the ingredients based on the picture I saw.   

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownies
1 box brownie mix – I used Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate
1 set of brownie mix ingredients – i.e. egg, water, oil, etc.  Check package for exact.
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips – I used dark chocolate

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 12 cup muffin/cupcake pan (or two 6 cup pans) with cooking spray.
2.  Prepare brownie mix as directed on package.  Evenly distribute mixture into cupcake pan.  Fill each cup about halfway.
3.  Bake brownies in preheated oven for about 15 minutes.  Oven times vary, so use a toothpick to check – slightly wet means they’re done.
4.  While cooling, tap on the middles of each brownie to make them sink. 
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5. Heat peanut butter in the microwave for about 40 seconds, or until melted. 
6.  Spoon peanut butter into the sunken centers of each still warm brownie.   
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7.  Sprinkle peanut butter and chocolate chips over the tops.
8.  Let cool completely before removing from pan.
I was a little worried about getting them out of the pan.  I ran a knife around the edge of each cup and they popped right out.  Made 12 brownies.

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They were really very good.  Writing this post made me hungry for one.  Too bad I sent the leftovers home with my guests. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Witching Hour

When I’m working, the most exhausting time of day for me is the first hour or so after getting home from work.  Depending on the day, it could be as early as 4 or as late at 6.  Upon arriving home, Rigby sits at the back door trembling with excitement, barely able to contain her happiness that I am home.  Making her wait until the door opens all the way is about all she can handle so when I tell her she can come inside she flies through the house, slipping and sliding on the hard floors, knocking over furniture and flinging dirt from those crazy feet.  For the next couple hours, she is a complete and utter nightmare.  While I’ve spent the day working my butt off, she’s spent the day sniffing around the backyard, sleeping, and basically building up energy.  Therefore, when I am least interested in playing and entertaining her is when she needs it the most. As much as I just want to sit on the couch, we HAVE to go for a long walk in order to survive the evening.

Being on vacation, I’ve been really good about taking Rigby out for a long walk in the morning when we get up.  When I’m home, she spends most of the day inside with me, and I often throw the toys around for her to play with.  What I’m basically saying is that she’s been getting a lot of exercise throughout the day since I’ve been on break.  That doesn’t seem to have curbed the late afternoon craziness.  Starting about 4PM, this dog is nuts, and it last a couple of hours.  She’s been so rotten.  “Miss Thang” has chewed up a pair of shoes, dragged the kitchen towels around the house, and dug through the trash. 
stuff 050She tore a loaf of bread out of it’s package and ate it and ripped up a kitchen sponge.  Just today, I frustratingly said, “I’ve kept you busy all day!  Why are you acting like this?”  But she was too busy pulling the kitchen rug through the living room to hear me. 
rigby 032Once it’s after 6:00, she is such a mellow, well-behaved dog.  Those two hours of the day are going to be the death of me.  I’m hoping that she’ll grow out of this “phase” once she turns two.  I think that is next month, so fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guilty of Another Cardinal Sin

A few months back, I wrote about my bout with gluttony.  After getting that one under control, I’ve been on the straight and narrow.  That was until today when I jumped into the sloth pool. 

Winter vacation started a week ago.  Between family in town, Christmas, traveling, and other general busyness, I didn’t feel like I was on vacation one bit.  Then two days ago, I came down with a brutal head cold.  Casino air/smoke and a cold don’t mix well.  I came home yesterday, took a giant swig of Nyquil, and slept.

And slept.  My alarm was set this morning for 8 am because I had people coming to do some work on my house.  When the alarm went off, I sleepily checked my phone and had a text saying they weren’t coming until tomorrow.  That was the beginning of the end for me.  The bed called me back, and I went, still in a Nyquil coma. 

The remainder of the day was spent either in bed or on the couch with my new favorite thing (a gift from a student).  I had many plans for the day that included errands and around-the-house projects.  I also had every intention of getting up and doing those things even with the canceled appointment.  Alas, not one thing was accomplished unless you count stuffing Kleenex up my nose and feeding the dog - which did require getting out of bed/off the couch, so I will count that one.  Oh, and I also caught up on the final three episodes of Boardwalk Empire, finally!  And all I have to say about that was, “OMG!” 

This laziness is so out of character for me.  Even if I’m just hanging at home I’m still doing something.  I never just watch tv or sleep during the day.  Today I did both.  I even multitasked that a few times.  However, I think it did me some good.  My sinus headache has retreated, and my leaky faucet of a nose has turned off for the time being.  Tomorrow is a new day with people coming over and errands to run, plus lunch and a movie with some friends.  I think with another several hours of sleep, I can do it! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year In Review

It’s the beginning of 2012, which brings the 2011 Calendar Challenge (from The Kathryn Wheel) to a close.

As I’m sure is the case with everyone, December was extremely busy.  stuff 124This “Christmas Ribbon” gave me more room to write than I’ve had with the squares. Since I always have so much to say, I liked that!

With only two pages left in this year’s art journal, I was able to do a little journaling.
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The journal is complete.  Even though I had a love/hate relationship with the paper in this premade journal, I really like the way the paper looks crinkled and grungy.   stuff 128
Here are all the calendar pages for 2011.
blog 018_thumb[2]blog 1001art 010food 007stuff 013stuff 019stuff 002stuff 062stuffstuff 065stuff 111stuff 124

I enjoyed this challenge.  Looking forward to starting over for 2012.  Happy New Year!