Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Busy bee

We are very very very busy and I have no interest in blogging right now. Fun stuff scheduled for the future, so it may lead to some blogging. Until then... enjoy the fall!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon

On this night of the Harvest Moon I am quite sure everything has changed. The optimism of a wonderful new school year. The hope that my energy would remain high and my food consumption good to allow high energy. Things are not always as I wish. This, the third week of school has been the week in which I realize I need to remember the following slogan: "Don't take it personally!" I can remain optimistic and continue to have high expectations of my students and myself. I can make good food choices and sometimes I will make poor food choices (and not really care all that much). However, I cannot change how people behave. I need to remember my mantra and not let it affect me. Unfortunately, I let it affect me the last couple days and have felt this slight pressure of stress pushing down on me. If I don't shake it off it will only get worse. Simply in saying this I am de-stressing. Life has many unbloggable events and the details of work stress is one of them. Still, I can honestly say, I love my job. I love teaching art, working with student artists, exploring art history. The grading.... eh, not the best part of the job, but a necessary one. The actual teaching and guiding and interaction with students is the part that is worth it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Now I'm Super Charged!

Last night the kids had the stomach flu. No, that's not why I'm super charged. This is just where my story begins. At 7:30 pm they were put to bed, then S said she was sick. G fell asleep, but S WAS sick. So I cleaned up what needed cleaning up and got her a bucket and she fell asleep without being sick again. Around 10:30 I checked on G because I was getting ready for bed, and turns out she'd been sick, but hadn't actually woken up enough to realize it and was back asleep. She didn't believe she'd thrown up and professed that it was our cat who'd done it. That was funny. Will got her cleaned up while I cleaned up her bed and floor. Blech. Fortunately, I have not gotten sick and I keep praying I won't. I hate stomach flu more than anyone. I just want to die when I'm sick like that. Colds I can handle, but not stomach illness.

Anyway, both girls woke up feeling awesome! And hungry. I gave them half a toast and watered down apple juice and made them wait for an hour before eating anything else. They were fine and had Irish Oatmeal, which they loved and then lunch as normal. However, S is having a sore tummy again this afternoon. :( Poor girl. Hopefully she won't be sick again and will wake up tomorrow feeling better.

Now that I got you thinking about all that nasty sickness, let me tell you about these amazing cookies I made today! Ha! I followed Dreena's recipe for Super Charge Me! Cookies. I only had enough maple syrup for one batch, but I really wanted to make a double batch, so I added 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp of apple sauce to give it added moisture. They turned out great! I also made half the batch without cinnamon since it bother's S's skin and then added cinnamon and made the rest. I'd forgotten how wonderful cinnamon is in cookies, especially those that contain oatmeal such as these. Whenever cinnamon is called for I generally just skip it for S. Either way these cookies were great. I used cashew butter where it called for almond butter. So so tasty! And they are certainly filling. I made mine small, so I ate three dipped in almond milk. Oh life is wonderful!

After they cooled I packed a bunch of baggies with three cookies each for lunches and snacks this week. I also prepared snack baggies of pretzels and Newman's Os (like oreos, but dairy free). We are set for a VERY busy week! I'm teaching two after school art classes for elementary schoolers, S starts after school chorus and both girls start after school dance. Thank goodness for after care. If something happens with one of the programs and it's canceled or if I'm not there in time to get them at the end of it, they go right to after care. I didn't use it as much last year because G was at a different school in day care, but now with both girls at my school (it's K-12), it's nice to just have them both in the same location for pick up. Also, I can take the time after school to clean up my classroom and make notes for myself for things to remember in the morning.

Here is our dinner: Dreena's Chickpea burgers made with crushed pretzels in place of quick oats (the cookies used the rest!) and asparagus. And yes, that is indeed a paper plate. Sometimes we've had just about all the dishes we can stand, since our hands are our dishwasher. The burger had fresh basil and was delicious! I wanted to eat a second one, but I was too full after I ate this plate. There are still four left, so I'll have them for dinner tomorrow.

Here's to a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Food Blog: Two-weeks 'till fall 2010 Edition

Spinach Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms! I've been wanting to make these for a while and I finally had almost all ingredients on hand. I was missing fresh italian parsley, but I just did without. I used basil from my backyard crazy basil plant. I have no idea what type of basil it is. Its seeds were given as a wedding favor this summer and it took off! It's leaves are large with jagged edges. A friend tasted it and said it had a licorice flavor. I think it's delicious fresh with tomato or cooked with pasta or mixed with white beans for a dip. It was nice in the stuffed mushrooms. My kids don't care for portabello mushrooms, except G who will eat them if they are cut in tiny pieces in stir fry, so I just gave them the filling which included spinach, red bell pepper, garlic, basil and homemade croutons. A little soy sauce and olive oil combined with the basil in an interesting flavor I've not had before. I'll definitely do this recipe again. I think next time I'll use different mushrooms and frozen spinach (the chopping was time consuming) to make it an appetizer dish.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm gettin' out there!

Hey you, my mom, my sister, my MIL, my SIL, whoever else I know and strangers that pop in here every now and then, I appreciate it sooooo much! Check THIS out! It's ME, quoted on Organic Size Me's blog about school lunches. Woopie!

Another way I'm gettin' out there is in teaching elementary schoolers again. I'm teaching two after school art classes through the Young Rembrandts program. It's JUST drawing which is really great because I LOVE drawing. It's the basis for all art. They get to color, too, and really learn how to color well. Can you believe I get high schoolers who do not know how to color or even to use the side of their marker? It's true. It's not their fault if they were never taught how to color. So, I get to do that for little ones and bring back some of the tips for my HS students.

Classes have been great! I'm much more comfortable and confident in front of the students now and I structure class time well. I can feel it flowing more easily. I had to talk in front of the whole HS today at a MICROPHONE! Yikes! I did alright, though. I got a "yow" from some student when I was called up. What's that about?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Life really is worth living after all

I used to go to a play group when we lived in rural NC that was way out in the country where many people had produce farms, chickens, horses, cows, pigs, etc. A family I knew there now has a website for their farm where they raise chickens for eggs and to sell "chicken families" so others can have egg laying hens and a rooster if they want to continue their chicken family. The farm also has goats, sheep, ducks, and pigs. They sell lamb and goat meat. There's lots of information on the types of "meat" that can be gotten from goats such as "Cabrito [which] is meat from very young, milk fed goats between 4 and 8 weeks of age. The meat is tender, juicy and very lean and tasty at this age." So, that sounds anything but appetizing and just about made me tear up, which is the first time that has ever happened. Of course I find slaughtering of animals disgusting and awful, but at the same time I am aware that cultures in various locations around the world do not have the luxury of enough produce or grain to sustain them. And I grew up in a culture that finds meat extremely normal and "necessary." But, take Native Alaskans, for example, who follow the herd of deer for survival. I don't fault them this. I think the reason I came closest to tears in reading this website is that I've been to this farm. I saw the family's first "mama" goat and the goat's first twins. I know the location well. It's not some terrible factory farm somewhere far away. It's a family farm where kids (human kids as well as goat kids) "frolic" and play.
Then I kept reading and came across this paragraph:

"Goats are very intelligent animals. They really thrive on affection. They can easily be trained to do any number of things. Goats, especially little babies, are the epitome of cuteness. But, most of all, they are just a whole lot of fun! They have that spark that tells you that life really is worth living after all. If you have never seen a goat kid play and frolic in it's first year of life, you are definitely missing one of the best shows life has to offer!" (Italics my own emphasis)

Doesn't that sound like an argument AGAINST killing goats, especially "little babies?" I think so. It's the perfect example of the disconnect between caring for animals and "caring" for animals until you kill them or torture them by taking their lambs and young kids away and then milking them for your own use. AH! I'm one of those crazy vegan people! Only, I'm not. I'll not hang my head in shame, but it has been difficult for me to give up dairy in all forms and I recently desired and ate *eggs* and *salmon* and *crab* (though not together). Oh well, gotta move forward. I got the egg and fish craving out of my system and the crab was not as enjoyable as I'd hoped it would be, though the salmon cake was awesome. As for dairy, ice cream, half n half (away from home in coffee) and cheese are my weaknesses. I know vegans who just stop. If you want to stop, you stop, they say. But it's tough, okay? It is.

In my first 6 months after swearing off cow and pork, I had beef hamburger 3 times. Then I was good. I gave up poultry without EVER looking back. But fish has been a bit more difficult craving-wise and dairy is so prominent it's socially easier to keep eating it. Tonight's dinner was enjoyable, but had a fair amount of cheese.

Maybe I need a mantra. I know it's healthier to not consume dairy, but that knowledge is not enough to propel me to stop. I need to think about where it comes from, not just what it does to my digestive tract (and thighs). hmmm..... I'll have to think of a good mantra.

Yesterday's dinner was ho hum. I didn't have brown sugar or lime for the samosas so they weren't my best batch. BUT, I did make Dreena's cookies using cashew butter and they were the best. Check out her site for pics. Mine looked similar but I made them smaller to last longer. Still they were made in the afternoon and gone by bedtime. They were super easy to make though, so I'll whip up another batch (a double batch) sometime soon.

This goat picture came from this website which if you look through the "about" section and "showcase" section you might very well chuckle as I did.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back in the swing

We just wrapped up our first week back in school. Other than a quick meet and greet with my homeroom students Monday, I only taught two days of classes. Wednesday we actually got out of school early because of the heat, which was good because our school is not air conditioned except the library and cafeteria. I thought it was hot last spring, but it was nothing compared to now!

I'm off to a decent start. I have most of my classes pretty well planned out. I have a lot of new students (new to me, not necessarily new to the school). Some kids take multiple classes with me, but I'm still learning who those students are as I try to learn names.

The girls had a good week and are happy going and leaving school, but in the evening they get tired and cranky, especially G. She actually had homework two days, while S, has not had any. She does, however, still have summer homework to finish this weekend! Good thing we have four days off.

An old friend is visiting this weekend all the way from California. We are about out of food, so I'll need to plan a nice dinner for us before I go shopping tomorrow. If it's worth sharing, I will. I'm off to scan the vegan blogs for ideas!