Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bee from scratch

We've been watching Master Chef Jr.  It's our treat to ourselves on school nights when daddy's working late and the homework is done and dinner is done and cleaned up.  It's about the only way I can get my people motivated to get through dinner and get baths in a timely manner.  It's a treat for me to sit down and veg on the couch with the kids.  The days when it's all me after school are extra wearing, especially after a long day at school.  They are always long days in third grade.  I love them, but I am worn out.
So, because of this Master Chef Jr. watching, the kids are especially into cooking.  It's nice, but that used to be my quiet time.  It's probably worth it that someday they'll be able to take some of the cooking duties for me.  It makes them more willing to eat different foods.  They've eaten goat cheese and pomegranate.  They are messy cooks.  Messy.  Bee has been taking cook books to bed with her to read, which makes me giddy.  She really loves The Pioneer Woman cook books since there are so many photos.  It's great for the young at-home cook (as Chef Ramsey says).
She decided she wanted to make glazed yeast doughnuts from scratch.  It took a whole weekend, since they need to sit in the fridge overnight.  She stuck with it and did every step (except some of the end frying- after an upsetting burn) and was pleased to share them with us and the neighbors.  They were scrumptious and a great lesson for her in patience.    They were an additional lesson for me in the need for a renewed gym membership.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cold toes but a warm heart

It's cold here, I don't know about you, but it's cold here.  Snow day on Monday, bought new snow pants kind of cold.  Our house is old and drafty and my toes are always cold.  I'm wearing long johns under my jammies.  I can't remember why we moved from the beach anyway.
My toes may be cold, but my heart is warm and happy.  Back in June I wrote about my 100 nearest and dearest sewing friends getting together to make dresses for the little girls at my church's school in Uganda.  They were finally delivered.

I'm completely jealous that I wasn't there to help deliver them, but seeing the smiles on those dear faces is enough. These photos were taken by a sweet mama I used to teach with.  The girls were so excited they put their dresses on right over their school uniforms.  I think I see a few of my dresses.  Today is the first day my friend has posted any pictures and I can't wait to see more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Club and stuffed dates

This inviting table welcomed us this month at book club.  My friends have the most lovely homes.  We're reading and cooking our way through Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

This month's menu consisted of bacon wrapped goat cheese stuffed dates,  Mexican grilled corn, dark chocolate sea sated toffee, enchiladas and a delicious guacamole.  Those are my dates below.  They were pretty yum.  I ate a lot of them and also did some damage on the toffee.

The food is always great, and I love learning new cooking techniques, but the company is tremendous and the conversation is delightful.  These gals are wise and funny and a breath of fresh air amidst a busy week.  

Last month we ditched cooking together and ended up out to eat at a downtown sushi spot.  The service was less than great and we ended up with discounted meal.  We decided we are better cooks.

Here's how those yummy stuffed dates are made:  I'll be making them again!

2 packages of dates (found in the produce section)
1 pack of bacon
8 oz. goat cheese (found in the specialty cheese case)

Slice the dates open, but not in half.  Pull out the pit.  It sort of looks like a pecan.  Spoon in a little dip of the goat cheese.  Wrap each in a half a strip of bacon.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  We flipped them at about 15 minutes. They can be served warm or room temperature, or as I discovered the next morning, cold from the fridge.  I actually thought they were even better the next day. 

Next month, we are cooking, eating and exchanging Christmas goodies.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

book club- kitchen 2

We met again, my 6 new mama friends, to cook and eat and talk and avoid homework with the kids and bedtime drama and just be grown ups together.

We met at a different home and made dishes from the next section of our book, Bread and Wine. Section one post here.

We take a lot of photos of our treats!  We met in a different friend's home, a farm house that has been in her husbands family for three generations, that she and her husband recently restored.  It's gorgeous and homey and a great place to gather.

The other mama's have kids who are a little bit older and I'm learning a lot about parenting teens.  As we've had a little interaction with their kids passing through the house and those I see at school occasionally, or work with for the middle school musicals, I'm impressed. They have respectful, mannerly teens.  I want that and I'm tucking all this good info away for later! 

We cooked and then devoured together watermelon feta salad, mango chicken curry, breakfast cookies, sweet potato fries with sriracha dipping sauce, and an Italian sausage cassoulet.  We had to take home our breakfast cookie because there was so much food going on. 

I was in charge of the chicken curry and it turned out pretty decent.  I guess I just don't really love the curry flavor, but it was fine.  Better than my biscuit flop from last month.  I thought it would be super spicy but it was not at all.

The watermelon feta salad was amazing! It contained watermelon, feta, mint, arugula, and a balsamic dressing.   It had lime as well which gave it a fun flavor.  It tasted like a special summer drink.  I always think arugula is bitter, but spinach might be a tastier base to the salad next time. 

I so enjoy meeting with these ladies.  I'm going to have to get better at time management though.  I can hardly stay out until 10 and miss an entire evening at home without getting behind a little in every area of life!  The papers that needed graded are still not caught up and today I'm the laundry queen!  I say that as I take an hour our of my Sunday to post this.  Guess a time management class may be needed. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Books and friends= mom fun

One of my dear student's parents has been so sweet to me.  I had her oldest last year, have her middle child this year and with any luck, will have her youngest next year.  She invited me to join a book club she was starting with some of her favorite ladies.  I knew a few of them from school and church and was intrigued by the book. 
Green Well Salad
It's called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  It's about food, but also community.  It's a Christian book, but not devotional.  It's recipes and the stories that go with them.  The book has been super enjoyable, the recipes have been good, and joining friends, new and old, around the table, is pretty great.
We get together at one of our homes (insert footnote!) and cook the recipes from the section of the book we read that month.  Then we feast and discussed the chapters.   (footnote- We will not be meeting at my house- they all have lovely, lovely homes with huge kitchens and plenty of room for entertaining.  My house can have one cook in the kitchen, two if you are close!)
Me and my mama friend
Last week we made (and devoured and enjoyed) steak au poivre with cognac pan sauce, green well salad with cherries and walnuts,  risotto, goat cheese biscuits (insert footnote!) and flourless chocolate brownies.  (footnote- I was in charge of the goat cheese biscuits.  No problem.  I bake.  I make biscuits.  I even tested out the recipe the week before at home since I'm not usually cooking with goat cheese and fresh shredded parmesan cheese.  They were great.  So, I measured out all my ingredients and brought them to cook at book club.  When I pulled them out of the oven, there was clearly an issue.  I had forgotten the baking powder.  They were little dough balls.  Chewy little unleavened bread clumps.  They were slightly embarrassing.  Add that to the fact that I showed up in a crazy tiny little rental car and I was pretty impressive that evening.  -We had someone bump our mini van in July and the new tailgate was finally in.  I had a little rental for three days.  Three long and cramped days.  I'm not used to driving a teeny tiny car and was pretty sure I'd be run over on the road.)
I learned some new cooking skills. I met some new friends. We talked about our kids, our jobs, and our moms.  We stayed out past 10pm on a school night!  I learned to make risotto.  The green bowl was from book club, the orange bowl was my recreation later that week with bacon, mushroom, and shrimp. 
Next month has some promising recipes and another lovely home to gather in. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

we are surviving!

 We've had two full weeks of school and we are surviving!  This time last year is was evident we were barely treading water.  I was barely treading water.  I think all the ground work I did last year with my lesson plans and such is making this year an easier start.  Hopefully that only continues!
We've got a second grader and third grader and fourth grader this year. 

Hubby's parents came down this year and stayed with the kids so I could do all the back-to-school meeting and work time without stressing about getting home as soon as possible.  Last year the kids went to summer day camp that last week of summer and wanted picked up as soon as I could get free each afternoon. It was not the best way to do that.

Our third grade team has a new addition and Bee's teacher from last year went off to have a baby.

My class is really good too!  There is less testosterone than I had last year, three fewer bodies and a nice balance of academic needs.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the first two weeks feel in the classroom can carry on awhile longer.

One of my sweet students showed up with these shoes the first day!

My youngest sister sent the kids a piñata in the mail so we could start our school year with a 'bang.'  She filled it with good candy too!  It came just like that... with the mail stickers right on the piñata.

Look at these two sweet girls I get to enjoy this year! Here we are at the first chapel of the school year.

The homework has started... Bee has a good amount of fourth grade homework!  Here, grandma was helping Bee with homework, I was grading papers and Lou was to be working on a handwriting paper.  As you can see, it was the world's hardest handwriting page.  He'd do a word, cry that it was hard and lay down.  It took him about 8 times as long as it should of... then we saw it had a backside!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

classroom sneak peek

My third grade students walk in the room Monday morning (tomorrow!).  After I go back his afternoon and reset everything, it will be ready for them!  I have to tear down a good deal on Friday afternoons and reset either Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning.  Little kid Sunday school meets in there on Sunday mornings.  I also have a group that meets in there on Wednesday, but they are older, like divorce recovery or Boy Scouts or something.  Add that to afterschool care, which meets in there after school everyday until about 6:00pm and this poor room is busy busy.  Those groups pose a lot of restrictions on my room set up and decorations, but I think I learned last year and was able to work my restrictions this year.  It's honestly freeing almost that when I walk out the door to take my kids to their parents at 3:00, the room is ready for the next group at 3:01 and I can't do some of the cute things I see on Pinterst as far as room set up goes.    Plus ,our Fire Marshal is a stickler.  I have anther name I call him, but I'll just say stickler.   (last year pictures)
This is the back of the room.  It's the library and calendar area. Everything along the back wall has to get turned around or moved on Friday.  A lot of things get pushed against the wall with the windows, which is where they shove all the student desks too.  The bulletin boards can stay up of course. 
The AR % tracking display is being reused from last year.  I did it in vinyl so I could leave it up, otherwise everything comes down and is packed away over the summer.   The school gives me three laptops and then I've acquired two other old ones from family members, so I have  5 going.  We have a mobile lab that the third grade shares, but it's nice to have several I don't have to worry about reserving to use each morning or for centers.   The blank wall space will be used for displaying anchor carts.
I'm going to try to be better about using the student jobs.  It's easier for me to just ask students who are done with their work to do all the jobs. 
This birthday display is new this year and hopefully, if no one picks at it, should last a few years.  I cut the pieces out on my silhouette in sticky vinyl.  It was a shape I had to create through the tracing feature. 
This is the view from the back.  It turned out a little blurry, I'll have to re-take this picture. I have a table in the front that I use for my small groups and also do a good bit of teaching from.  Others in my hall don't have a table up front and I don't know how they do it.
I redid my two front bulletin boards.  This one will always display the sheets that go with our story of the week.  Last year, I hung them on a clothes line and no one could see them.  My team purchased these as part of a packet for each unit for our reading series from teachers pay teachers online.  It is a wonderful supplement to our curriculum. 
I reworked the CAFE board too.  I only want to have a few strategies up at a time.  My student and I did not reference them last year... at all and it was wasted space.  I have to have something CAFE up, so this may be a solution.  My third graders all read so well, some of the CAFE items are below what they need.  I'm excited about having the whole pad of chart paper up at once so it's ready when I need it. 
This is the room as you walk in.  The far wall with the windows is 'my space' where the other groups aren't supposed to touch, which means a lot of stuff is shoved against it.  Most of these pictures were taken on back to school night so the info folders are on their desks.  If they ordered a school supply kit they came in cardboard boxes, so that's what you see on those friends desks.  I love school supply shopping, so we'll never order a kit at our house!  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

birthday chair

I wanted to do a little something to make birthdays fun and special at school, but can't do treats.  The office gives a pencil, but that's about it. I made this little seat cover to fit over the chair of our birthday friend.  I love it and can't wait until the first birthday!