Monday, July 20, 2009

Yep, Still Here

Just haven't had much to write about lately. School is still going well, and I can't believe we are a little more than halfway done. The days are flying by lately, and I think it's because I have a good combination of work and fun in each day. I could definitely deal with this all year!

I know a lot of people around here have been complaining about the weather, but honestly, I've been loving it. It's been great for sleeping, and it hasn't been unbearable in school (we don't have a/c there). It has also allowed Stein and me to sit outside almost every single night. I love that.

We've been eating light meals, or making things that could carry over for a couple meals. I don't want too much to do in my afternoons, okay?! But two recipes have stood out in the past two weeks that were really good, and also used some of the seasonal produce we find all around us now.

Grilled Pizza
This recipe was the one we used, because we had a lot of the ingredients on hand. I bought a pizza dough from Trader Joe's (and the marinated artichokes), so the prep time was really short. It was really good. We thought that the next time we make it, we may put grilled chicken on top as well. There were other recipes on for grilled pizza, so this may be the summer of grilled pizza. Stay tuned!

Potato and Green Bean Salad
Last week I went to the farmer's market and was overwhelmed by the abundance of produce. Remember how I said that summer's farmer's market brings this overwhelming feeling for me? It hit me right in the face that day. Swarms of people stood in lines to grab blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and almost every other fruit or vegetable you could think of. But the green beans. Oh, the green beans. And the potatoes. Why did I think potatoes were a fall thing? Regardless, I came home with a sack full of produce and immediately thought, what the heck am I going to do with this? I found this recipe, which worked out perfectly. Stein and I are still trying to decide if we like it better refrigerated or at room temperature. Either way, it's a nice light potato salad that's really easy to prepare.

Happy summer eating to you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Friends and Fritatta

A couple weeks ago, I had my good friends Regina and Andrea over for coffee. (Well, they drank coffee, and I drank water.) I decided since they were coming over at breakfast time to make some breakfast foods for us to nibble. I decided on a fritatta, since Regina tries to stay away from gluten. I found this recipe to use as a guide, and added some fresh asparagus to it. Since I had most of the ingredients on hand or in the garden, it worked out well. I made a blueberry and strawberry salad to go with it, and Andrea brought some fruit and some baked goodies.

Whenever the three of us are together, the time just flies. So much so, that we eventually look at our watches and realize that 3 or more hours have gone by. We have known each other for three years now. We met in one of the classes I was taking. Regina was our teacher, and Andrea was one of my peers. We have been in touch since then, and our friendships have grown.

This day, we talked and talked, and moved around the yard to avoid the sun, for 5 hours! By the time they left my house, the three of us were sitting in a row along the side of the garage in the only piece of shade in the yard. I guess we should've known how late it was by the amount of times we moved around the yard. But the only thing we were paying attention to was each other. Catching up, telling stories, offering advice. Just what good friends do. What a great morning/afternoon it was.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Finding My Way Back

I started teaching summer school on Monday. It has been great for the most part. Today, which is the last day of the week, was a little shaky, but I think we were all ready to be done for the week. I really can't complain at all, because I have eight students in my class. Oh, and guess what? I teach with my friend Mandi. In the same room. Yes, we have eight kids, and two teachers. Talk about a dream. Talk about an excellent ratio for the kids. Talk about perfect for summer.

In the midst of all of the math, reading, and writing, I am finding my way back to teaching. Although I had the long-term sub gig this year in the media center, to me it wasn't exactly teaching. To me that was more like being a supervisor.

In a regular classroom, you see the same kids everyday. You learn about their families, learn what they love to do when they're not in school, learn about the books they love to read. In return, they learn a lot about you. They learn what buttons they can push to get a reaction and they learn when they have crossed a line.

I didn't have this "learning" in the regular classroom. I saw all of the kids in the school, which meant that maybe I would see each of them twice in a week. I didn't really get a feel for who they were as individuals, and they didn't get a feel for who I was, either. The director of the summer program put it well when he said, "You're a relationship person. You value the relationship with your students which motivates them to learn." I couldn't have said it better.

I'm so glad that I've found my way back this week. It feels right, and it's right where I should be.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How Much is Enough?

You ever notice when you hear about something or read about it, it seems like every other article or news story you encounter is about the same thing?

I've been experiencing that lately with living simple. Or reducing abundance. Or reducing, recycling, reusing. You get the point. I know that this is the result of the economy, everyone is cutting back, taking stock, and looking around to see what's really necessary. I know in our house there are a lot of things that we could get rid of. Things that haven't been touched in years. Things like, why do we need 2 more plastic ice trays sitting in the basement when we already have four of them in rotation in the freezer?

I told you about my friend Lisa (of Lather, Rinse, and Repeat) who turned me on to the excess toys article? Well, lately she took it a step further. She locked up all of her kids' toys in a closet, except for a few favorite stuffed animals and art supplies. She did break down one day and take out the Lincoln Logs, but that's it. And you know what? The kids are fine. Doing art projects and going to the pool have become much more fun than the 500 pieces of plastic strewn across the floor.

So where am I going with this random post? Oh yeah, the picture. In that picture you will recognize the plastic tabs that come on bread products. I think any sane person would probably throw them out when the bread was done. But we (I) save them. Without the risk of being like my Great Aunt Ann, a product of the depression, who had a shoebox full of them when she died, we actually use them. Instead of putting things like frozen peas into another plastic bag, we just cinch the top of the current bag with a plastic tab. Or my oatmeal that comes in a plastic pouch can just be cinched as well instead of being put into another plastic container.

So have we hearkened back to the "olden days"? Has our society seen so much excess that now it is time to pull back the reins a bit? It obviously coincides with the economy, unemployment, etc. I don't know if all the articles and posts about conserving are encouraging me to do things like this. But it just feels good doing it. I know I am not saying anything new here, but: If something can be reduced, reused, or recycled, then why not? It just seems frivolous not to.