Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Simple Supper

I was talking about my blog with a friend of mine (Hi Amy!) the other day, and she said that we always have such good things for dinner. Yes, we do make dinner every night (or heat up leftovers) during the week, but some days it's just a simple meal. Some days I need to pick up a few things at the store and I'll also pick up something that has little preparation. Trader Joe's is perfect for this. You can just heat it up and it's ready.
In the picture above, there's some pasta with jarred sauce, a salad with balsamic and olive oil and some chicken sausage (the sausage looks a bit creepy as I look at the picture). The total prep time was probably 15-20 minutes, or however long it took to cook the sausage and pasta.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Two Francis'

So I got a job. Well, I got another job. And I just started said job last Thursday. In a nutshell, it has been a crazy five days. Crazy as in one day I'm working with random groups of kids on various writing, math, and reading projects, to that night (not even the next day) I'm pushing bookshelves and desks around and putting paper on bulletin boards in a classroom.

It's been crazy. But I'm loving it.

This whole thing has been in the works since the last day before our holiday break. I haven't wanted to talk about it in fear of jinxing the whole thing. Now that I've been there for three days and nothing drastic has happened (knock on wood), I'll give you the skinny.

On that last day of school before break, I got a phone call from the principal at our neighborhood school. It's the school where Eric and Mia go, the school that is the one where a lot of the professors' kids go, the school where I would love to work permanently. The principal asked me if I would be interested in doing a long-term sub job in a 3rd-grade classroom. I tried to act all casual and said, "Yes, I would be interested, but I really have to talk to the person I am currently working with." I didn't hear the next words or sentences or paragraphs that she responded with, because all I kept thinking was, Are you kidding me? A long-term sub job at that school? Of course!

To make a long story short, I had to sub at the school one day while the principal observed me (gulp!) and then wait a while until she got everything planned out. She called me two weeks ago to offer me the position and I started last Thursday.

I haven't looked back. I did have a hard time saying goodbye to the kids whom I worked with at the other school, but nothing compares to the feeling of having my own classroom. I have experienced having my own classroom when I had that other long-term sub position in the 5th grade, but this feels different. What a difference two years and a different school makes, eh?

Do you want to know the weird thing? I am taking over the class from another long-term sub named Mrs. Francis. And the fifth grade I had two years ago? I took over for a teacher named Mr. Francis. What are the chances?

So far it's going well. I've been told by my co-worker that the previous teacher was in over her head and as a result let the curriculum and her relationships with the parents slip. I have my work cut out for me, but I don't mind.

The kids in my class are really well behaved, which is always half (or more) the battle. The kids are so well behaved that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm waiting for one of them to have a fit and throw something. I'm waiting for one of them to yell, "NO!" when he or she doesn't want to do something. But instead, I keep my voice at a steady level, feel relaxed enough to joke a little, and really feel like I'm teaching. Sure, there are more names added to the "names I don't like" list, but all in all, they're a great group.

Yes, what a difference two years makes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

This weekend we didn't have any major plans, so we were at home most of the time. I loved it. I actually got my closet and dresser drawers cleaned out and organized. Five bulging bags are waiting to go to Goodwill. It felt so productive. We also got to play some games on the Wii. It's getting a little competitive around here!

Friday night we went out for a quick bite to eat, and Saturday I felt like making something at home. I had seen this recipe on the blog, White on Rice Couple (link to their blog is under the "blogs that I read" to the right). The minute I saw it, I wanted to try it. We love Sriracha sauce and chicken wings, so why wouldn't we love the combination?
The prep wasn't too bad. And since the wings are baked in the oven, you don't have to futz with deep frying. I told Stein that we had to remember that these weren't going to taste like Buffalo wings. "So what if I don't like these?" he asked. "I better like them." Oh, the threats!
I tossed the wings in the sauce (Note: I only used 1/2 of the sauce I made and the wings had a good amount of kick) and took a bite. Oh, mama. These wings are good. Stein took one and bit into it and said. "Oh yeah, I like these wings." They have a good amount of heat, but it's not unbearable. I think we'll use the rest of the sauce I made for some pork chops we have in the freezer. Oh, there weren't any leftovers. They're that good.
But that wasn't the whole meal. We also needed some blue cheese sauce for the wings. We made this one from the Barefoot Contessa that turned out perfect. (We actually used about 1/3 of the recipe, and it was plenty for the amount of wings called for in the wing recipe).
We needed something starchy too. We made these potatoes which we've made on the grill. So easy and so yummy. Since we didn't want to brave the cold to light up the grill, we just used our indoor grill. There was no difference.
This was the perfect meal for keeping warm inside when the weather was too cold on the outside. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Re-Doing Resolutions

I could probably just link you to this post since it holds the same sentiments that I'm feeling today. (I was at the gym today and I had to explain to one of the newcomers how to use a machine. You can just tell these people by the expression on their faces. Deer in headlights, wandering around, and only staying on a machine for 10 minutes.)

But first I have to write a bit. I feel like I'm getting rusty. I look at the post counter on the right side of this blog and see how over the past few years the amount of posts has dwindled. I don't have any one excuse for this. There were those long-term sub jobs that I had, and some life-stuff that has happened over the course of the past year, but really nothing that has kept me away from writing. Except of course, laziness.

Which leads me to my next topic. It's that thing called exercise.

I was getting back at it, really I was, right before the holidays. I would pack my bag, throw it in the car in the morning, and go directly to the gym after school. I even started running on the treadmill again. And then, the endorphins must have messed with my thinking in the process. Because sometime in mid-December, at a party, I told Stein that we would run a 10K in June. (Maybe it wasn't the endorphins, maybe it was the wine). So there's that.

The holidays happened, and the exercise was thrown out the window. Along with eating right. Unless of course, you mean "right" by me putting the right amount of junk in my mouth at regular intervals during the day.

So with millions of other New Year's resolution people out there, I'm getting back to exercise. I think then the eating will come into place. Think being the operative word. At least I know how to use the machines.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to give you some recipes that may be good for the upcoming weeks and months (ugh) of winter.

When we got back from Chicago (I just realized that I never posted about our Christmas - um, well, I'll get to that in the next few days...) we were feeling full and gluttonous after a long weekend of eating, and snacking, and drinking.

It was also cold outside, so I wanted something that would be nice and warm, relatively healthy, but not too filling. I also wanted to use (if I could) what we had on hand, seeing that the credit card bills would be coming soon. Minestrone soup it was. I used this recipe which was easy in the production of it, but pretty tedious in terms of chopping, etc. Wow, it was really good, and made enough for us to have leftovers for a couple days. I also tweaked the recipe a little. I added a handful of frozen chopped spinach, used 28 oz. of tomatoes rather than the 14 oz. it calls for, and also used one extra zucchini.

The next night, I aimed to make something for dinner that wouldn't lead to a trip to the grocery store. I saw that we had some Parmesan pesto turkey burgers from Trader Joe's. That was a start, but we needed something to go with it. I had a potato, but not enough for fries or mashed potatoes. How about a pasta salad? Not normally what you think of in the winter, but I tried it. I used this recipe and it went perfectly with the burgers. It would also taste great on its own. Although I wouldn't recommend the burgers - they were lacking in something.

Today, I made this toffee, which I got from a link on Shivaya Naturals. I haven't tasted it yet, but it was super easy to do. I used parchment paper in my pan so it wouldn't stick so much, but that's the only thing I did differently. I can't wait to taste it. It looks yummy.


*Sorry - no pictures this time. I realized that I should've taken pictures when the first 2 recipes were tucked away in tupperware. And the toffee, well, I'm lazy.