Friday, September 30, 2016

Saturday 9 - The Last Time

This week's song inspiration is Diana Ross' "Last Time I Saw Him." I'd never heard it before.
1.  In this song, Miss Ross sings of a tender farewell at the bus station. When did you last say goodbye to someone at an airport, dock, train or bus station? The last transportation goodbye was probably my mom who flies in and out of town quite often.
2. Continuing with the theme of "lasts," who received the last gift you gave? My friend Tami and I share the same September birthday.  I sent her gift off to Idaho about a week and a half ago.  
3. Who last did you a favor?  Yesterday I woke up to a refrigerator that sounded like it was running in NASCAR.  The appliance repairman couldn't make an appointment after 3:30, which is the time I can be home if I leave RIGHT after school.  He offered 3:20, so my grade level team (colleagues) offered to take my kids at the 3:00 dismissal.  That way I was able to run out to my car and drive home in time for the repairman.  That was a relief, and the icing on the cake was it was an easy fix - only costing me a service call.
4. What's the last thing you dropped or broke?  I ALWAYS spill my coffee when I'm running late for work in the morning.
5. What's the last thing you borrowed or lent?  I can't think of anything off the top of my head, so probably something for work.  Teachers are always sharing materials.  Oh, I just borrowed some library books!
6. When is the last time you danced?  This evening, in the kitchen while heating up leftovers in the microwave.  I get songs in my head, and they inspire me.  :)
7. When were you last nervous?  I get nervous every time a certain presidential candidate says something hateful or asinine and his supporters cheer for him.  There has also been recent reports about how San Andreas Fault is due for another big quake soon.  Earthquake predictions make me nervous too.  
8. What was your last DIY project?  I almost decided to refinish a pair of Adirondack chairs that have been sitting on the side of the house for a few years.  Actually, I was initially going to throw them out, and then while looking them over I wondered if I should salvage them.  And then, when I lifted one up and the wood fell off the bolts, my hopes of a DIY were dashed I was relieved.  
9. When did you last check your horoscope? Was it accurate?  I don't read horoscopes very often, but I do find they are pretty accurate when I have.  I fall right on the cusp of a Virgo and Libra, but from every thing I've read, I'm definitely a Libra.  These made me chuckle.
 This one made me laugh out loud!  I can never decide where to go out to eat.
Happy Saturday!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Release

I have a love/hate relationship with Apple.  I really do like all the Apple products I own.  My phone, iPad, and Macbook all work very well for my needs, and because they are all Apple they also work very well together.  I can access pictures I took on my phone from the iPad or Macbook and text and make phone calls on my iPad and Macbook via the phone, to name a few of those working together ways.
Every-so-often though, they do something that irks me a bit.  When they switched from the 30 pin connector to the lightning connector, pretty much every accessory I owned had to be repurchased to accommodate this change.  They said it was to allow for more room for a larger battery, but part of me speculates changes like that happen to make customers buy new stuff.  They've made the phone just slightly different in size or shape in each release too, which means a new case every time as well.  I was also ready to disown my beloved iPhone a few years ago when there was news about the poor working conditions at their factories overseas.  After numerous suicides (jumping off buildings) over these conditions, the company installed nets rather than fix the problems.  I found the fact that companies, like Apple (as well as other tech giants), that make more money than they can even count were making this money on the back of these overworked/underpaid workers just deplorable.  And while I was ready to jump the Apple ship, all the tech companies are doing it so there doesn't seem to be an alternative to that with the exception of going tech-less, which I'm not so sure I can do.
Anyhow, earlier this month Apple announced the upcoming iPhone 7.  The next number release is always anticipated because that's when all the new features are shown.  Some of the changes are a better camera in lowlight (which has been one of my complaints on the iPhone for years), a (slightly) longer battery life, and water resistant.  However it seems as if the phone being damaged by water isn't covered under the warranty, soooo.  But the biggest change, in my opinion, is the removal of the headphone jack.
THE REMOVAL OF THE HEADPHONE JACK!?!?!  Apple has decided that the headphone jack is outdated technology.  Could be, but I see it as another chance for Apple to make us all purchase new stuff.  Funnily enough, they've come out with some new blue tooth headphones.  The thing about blue tooth is if you don't have a connection, you can't connect to bluetooth.  Guess what you don't need a bluetooth connection for...THE HEADPHONE JACK!  To make the transition a bit easier the new phone will come out with a special dongle that will allow us old-folks to still connect our outdated technology.  It's better than nothing, but I'm not a fan of the dongle.  Plus, it's one more thing you've got to remember to take with you.  And I wonder what people will do who have those very expensive noise canceling headphones.  I have never splurged on a pair for myself, but I bought my mom a pair of Bose a couple of years ago for all her travels.  She loves them.  I can't afford to buy her another pair of bluetooth ones!
Ugh!  I'm really an Apple girl, but this change might just put me over the edge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


One of my biggest cooking challenges is cooking large pieces of meat on the grill or roasting them in the oven.  It is not something I do all that often, but when I do I'm pretty bad at it.  This week was no exception.  The recipe I attempted used a nice little pork loin rubbed in brown sugar, garlic, and olive oil and cooked on a roasting pan with carrots and potatoes.  Once the prep is finished (about 10 minutes cutting and rubbing), the beauty of this dish is that it goes in the oven and you don't do anything for about 45 minutes, so it basically is supposed to cook itself without any help from the outside.  
Just like every other time I have tried to cook big meat (for lack of better description), it didn't go as planned.
After 45-50 minutes, the pork loin was supposed to be at 150.  At that time, it was to be removed in order to rest for about 15 minutes while the veggies finished cooking.  However, after about 50 minutes, my meat thermometer showed it hadn't made much progress.  
 Now I have to say, that I have this never ending battle with my meat thermometer.  It is OLD, but that is sometimes a good thing (I keep telling myself).  There is an internal debate I have about whether or not I need to keep the thermometer in the meat while cooking or not.  Since it's not an instant read, it takes time to show the temp and by then I'm not sure if that is even correct.  When I research this topic, some websites say that I should leave it in while cooking and others say not to.  I talk myself in and out of what to do, mostly because if it is inside the oven isn't it taking the temp of the oven?
I don't know.  After the initial temp above, I kept the thermometer in the pork loin and stuck it back in the oven.  It was over 150 when I pulled it out the next time and thought, "Hooray!  It's ready!".  It rested while the veggies finished cooking.  And when I cut into it after 15 minutes, it was still pink.  "They" say pork can be a little pink, but I can't do that.  So back in the oven it went, this time without the thermometer inside.  Going on about an hour and half later at this point, the pan was removed and the temperature was 150, at least that is what the thermometer said.
I'm not entirely confident that my trusty OLD meat thermometer is all that accurate and after all these years of owning it (after inheriting it), so I finally broke down and bought a new instant read one.  I'm not entirely convinced it'll work either.  What if I'm the problem!?!?    

Friday, September 9, 2016


This week's Saturday 9 song is a fun one.  I actually listened to Shaggy (along with Maxi Priest) back in the 90s.  Reggae-fusion is good for the soul.

1) This song is a rather shameless come-on by an accomplished ladies' man. Do you enjoy flirting?  Hmmm, I don't think so.  I find that I'm not particularly good at it when it counts.  
2) Shaggy sings that he's like a turtle coming out of his shell. Do you think turtles, snakes and lizards make good pets? Or would you prefer a companion animal that has fur or feathers?  I do not think reptiles make good pets.  I like turtles, but not as a pet.  Furry animals are best, preferably a dog or a horse.
3) He also sings that if you don't feel like driving, you should hand him the keys. Are you comfortable letting others drive your car?  I don't mind at all.  
4) He tries to woo the girl with the promise of a bubble bath. Do you enjoy relaxing in the tub? Or do you view baths and showers as simply part of your hygiene routine, like brushing your teeth? Baths (tied with yoga) are the least relaxing relaxing-thing I can think of.  I find them boring and kind of gross - who wants to sit in their own body-water for any length of time...blech!   Who has time for that!?!?  And maybe because I've only ever had a regular size bathtub I don't know how to keep both my knees and my boobs covered at the same time.  Showers are my preference
5) Born Orville Burrell, Shaggy took his stage name from his shaggy hair. Using your hair as inspiration, what would your stage name be?  Ha!  Having a mind of its own wouldn't be a very good stage name.
6) Sam admits she hadn't thought about this 20+ year old song in years, until she heard it on a Chase Bank commercial. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, checkwriting dropped more than 50% between 2000 and 2010. Who received the last check you wrote?  I wrote a check recently to the contractor who repaired/painted my home's fascia.  I also wrote one to the groomers.  I so rarely write them anymore.  I pay, when I can, with my cell phone or credit card, quick, quick, quick.  This afternoon at the grocery store I was behind a woman who paid by check and it quite literally was a 5 minutes process between her writing it, then the checker checking ID and writing the info on the check, and then sending the check through the register, and then the woman having to fix the check because she wrote the two amounts on the check differently.  ARGHHHHHHH!
7)  Which would you prefer to receive in a birthday card: a $25 check or a $20 Target gift card? I've got a bday coming up, so either is fine.  ;)
8) Sam's mother refuses to pay bills online. All the news stories about data breaches scare her. Have you ever been hacked? If so, did it take long to get the situation resolved? I've never had an issue with my online banking (knock on wood) and it is so easy.  I have had my credit card number used on fraudulent purchases on a couple of separate occasions.  The cc company always took care of it without hassle, other than waiting for a new card and having to change any billing information.

9) In 1995, when this song was popular, Michael Jordan "unretired" and returned to the Chicago Bulls. Tell us about a decision you made that you wish you could undo. Recently, I wish I could undo the decision to be a teacher a lot more often than I ever used to.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


When I am working, the day's date is quite important.  My students and I write the date several times a day and the date is used in any type of planning I do which happens all the time.  For my entire teaching career, I've had a large academic pocket chart calendar hanging in the front of the room and that calendar would get referenced often.
This year has been different though.  My school district adopted a new math program, and that program has a component that includes a daily calendar activity.  "The Calendar" process is something that kindergarten and first usually do - they count the number of days in school, learn the days/months, and represent the numbers in various ways (coins, tens/ones, etc), but few second grade teachers do because our math is more complex by then.  The calendar component in our program goes beyond the "old-school" way and allows for a lot of higher level skills and student discourse.  I mostly like it.
The one issue I have had is that the calendar date cards have patterns on them, and so they are kept turned around until that date so the students can make predictions.  It's a great learning activity, but it is useless to me as a calendar because I can't see the future dates.  For the first few days of the new school year I'd look up, kind of lost, looking for the date.  I thought about putting up my other calendar just to see the dates, but it's quite large and space is tricky.  A hanging wall calendar was an option, but then I decided a dry erase calendar would be best for my needs.  And since having a matchy-match cute classroom makes me a better teacher (said sarcastically) I decided it couldn't just be any old Staples' dry erase calendar.
I had seen some on Pinterest made out of picture frames, which was the direction I went.  I found a cheap frame at Target.  After taking the matting out, it had a 14"x18" opening.  Many measurement calculations took place to finally narrow down my sizing - 2"x2" squares evenly spaced around a 1-1/2 inch border.  I cut down post-it notes to the square size and used them to layout where I wanted everything.
One at a time the post-its were replaced with squares of red and blue cardstock.
I added little day-of-the-week tags at the time.   If I were to do it again, I would have moved everything down a bit in order to center the entire shape.  
Once inside the frame, it's completely customizable when using a dry erase marker.
August's calendar...
and September's.
I wish the blue matched the the blue of the boards a little better, but I thought the muted colors would be better to see the marker.  I'm happy with how it turned out, and it's made date planning much easier.