Tuesday, September 30, 2008

French Club

We had our first French Club today and it was generally successful.

French Club is just one of the duties that automatically falls to me, and this being the 5th year that I've "sponsored" it...I'm making a real effort to make it interesting and to get kids involved. It helps that I have a couple of girls who want to lead, definitely. Now, of course, most of the ideas we're mine (but it's theirs to take field trip to Scarborough Fair...which is only loosely connected to French, but, whatever) and I did all the prep, game, handouts, power point, bought and made the food (Nigella's chocolate croissants!) but in the very least, it wasn't me up there talking, like the teacher again. And, I showed the kids videos of tecktonic, a French break-dancing style (check it out on Youtube), and some of them are going to learn it and teach it to the club. That's cool. And we're going to have a photo contest, a mock tour de France and a dessert contest.

Now, that's a club I'd want to join. Excellent.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hit & Miss + a Cookie for the Fall

Friday, for the first time, I saw someone propose. It was awesome. At a birthday party, Jon proposed to Robin on her 30th birthday, right after she blew out the candle on her icing-less cupcake. Here's she's setting it down to receive her ring. It was a really sweet moment.

Saturday, Casey and I ran 20 miles. All but the last 1.75 miles were fun. For the first time, I felt what I've read about in running books. My legs actually felt like they were made of rock or lead or something. Casey, thankfully, encouraged me to keep going. He's a good running partner like that. We napped and lazied about the rest of the day. There's not much else you can do after running for 3 1/2 hours.

So Sunday, with the run out of the way, I had time to make my new favorite coffee-cake cinnamon muffins. It's from a recipe called Quick and easy cinnamon bun bread which someone else suggested turning into individual muffin-pan cinnamon roll-bun thingies. The first time I made it, the angels sang over them. Beautiful, tender, cinnamony-streusel muffins. This time, I decided to follow the instructions better and "swirl in the topping."
It just goes to show: NEVER FOLLOW the INSTRUCTIONS! The cinnamon, brown sugar and butter mix sank through and made the texture gummy and flavor uninteresting. I think I will take them to work tomorrow and inflict them on unsuspecting teachers in the lounge. Those ravenous wolves deserve what they get.
When I got home today, I tried making homemade Potato Chips: both a microwave version and the old school fry-in-a-pan with a little oil method.
Shockingly, the microwave ones had a much more satisfying crunch and didn't burn at all like the old school ones. But, it was rough going trying to get them unstuck from the microwave tray which I cooked them on. If I had read the instructions better, I would have cooked them on parchment paper on top of the tray...but whatever. Instructions are for sissies...and people who have to scrape off microwave chips with a spatula.

But, oh the unadulterated success! I recently broke down and bought Nancy Baggett's All American Cookie Book, which I've had checked out from the library for at least a year. Behold! Iced Apple Softies:

Is you mouth watering? It should be, because this is as good as non-chocolate chip cookies get. Better, perhaps. Like the best apple pie ever, but as a soft iced cookie. Oh, goodness. I must eat one now.

Special Note: To the friend that says that she feels like a bad wife after seeing all the cooking and baking on my blog. I mentioned that to my husband, and he assured me that if you would like to make your husband happier, you don't need to spend more time in the kitchen...rather, elsewhere in the house.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cookie Madness...this may be madness...

So, Monday I saw this on Cookie Madness and had to make them.

Yeah, so...delicious, easy to make, delightful...but I'm going to have to cut back on the baking or my co-workers and I may all become diabetics. The freezer is jam-packed with tasty baked treats, and I have no idea what food bloggers do with the food, being that they post new recipes and their photos sometimes every day...that is madness.

On an aside, today Casey and I got really excited about the weather, went out the Katy Trail, ran about 2 miles...then Casey got sick. It happens to all of us sometimes...the poor thing is in bed. He was a brave soul though, walking back to the car with a migraine. He'll be fine, but it's tough seeing someone you love in pain though.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This week's exploits

TGIF. Seriously.

So, this week, the baking called to me twice. First...not really baking, but Paula's Deen's Not 'Yo Mama's Banana Pudding.

I only put in three bananas and used reduced/light versions of all the ingredients. Come now...I can't be a true disciple of the "stick o' butter" lady. But it was still incredibly creamy and delicious. I think Casey (the hubbie) had a grand total of one spoonful and deemed it too dangerous for further consumption. The teachers at my school managed to face the danger, though.
I call these "Cake Truffles." But Bakerella has a different name. I saw them on a few blogs, then in the Dallas Morning News, which referenced her...so I had to make them. Yesterday, after riding the scooter back and forth from the grocery store, I threw the cakes in the oven and hopped on the treadmill. When the timer went off, I paused the treadmill, crumbled the cakes and mixed them with frosting, put it in the fridge, then finished the tempo run. We went out to dinner, and afterwards I scooped them into little balls and coated them in white and milk chocolate coating.

The uncoated ones are still hanging out in the freezer. These are yellow cake mixed with white frosting, and they were the most popular in the teacher's lounge today. The others were chocolate-chocolate. I will have to try the red velvet and cream cheese frosting combination, sometime soon because I think I've spoiled my co-workers. But overall, these were excellent. Not overly sweet, but fairly indulgent...and nicely pre-portioned. They may become my Christmas "candy."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My mini explosion

So, yesterday, when I got home, I knew I was upset, but it wasn't for an hour or so until I realized why. FYI, I have classes of 33 each for French 1. Well, the powers that be decided to put two more kids in my 5th period class. 35 kids. 35. I already have the largest classes in the department, but this is ridiculous. And it's the last period of the day, and I have a bunch of special ed students in that class, and I still don't have textbooks for all of those kids. Yeah...so, yesterday, those last two kids...pushed me over the edge. Don't get me wrong, those are both good kids and I'm happy to have them...but I just don't have room to put them. One ended up sitting at the table at the very front. There has to be a limit. I looked, and legally, there isn't...but still, let us be reasonable, people!

So...yesterday I was ticked off. I did have a nice dinner with Casey and my parents, and that was really nice. And I went to talk to my assistant principal today, and she said she would try to smooth that out for me. We'll see.

I think I'll make these cake truffles. Cake makes things better.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Yay for old friends!

Today had two highlights:
1) The 15 mile run this morning, around the lake and around the really pretty neighborhood around the lake. Really pretty and fun too. Yes...running for 2 1/2 hours may sound like torture to some...but it was fun, believe me.
2) Getting to see my two best friends from college, Stephanie and Megan. Stephanie and I met freshman year in the dorm...and spent many a Saturday night crashed on the floor of her dorm with take-out cafeteria food and all night TNT. Megan and I were roommates for two and a half years...good good friends. It was good times.

Here's Megan and her husband, Corey. They had their little dog, Sammie too. He had fun getting his head nibbled on by our dogs who weight 2X-4X more. It was cute how he wouldn't back down.

Megan couldn't stay for long, but Stephanie and I really got to hang out and chat, about her med school, dogs, etc. We even made brownies! I was too entranced by the chocolate to smile for the camera.

Casey hung out too, even though I knew he desperately wanted a nap. He was a good sport, and so cute too!

Tomorrow is Meet the Teacher night, which I dread. There's no point going home at 3 to come back at 5, so I'll be at school for 13 hours...the last hours of which I have to smile and be perky and positive for parents. What a whippin'! But it's only twice a year.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


So, after working out and lazing about, I decided to give the puppies (dogs really...but they are MY puppies!) a bath. Both were very good and did not thrash about, thankfully.

Here's Charlotte was thinking, "Dear God, why!?!"

But now they are clean and very fluffy yet still smell like wet dog. *Hoping that will fade*

The highlight of this weekend will be getting to see my two best friends from college, Megan and Stephanie. Megan lives with her husband in Ohio and is driving through, and Stephanie is here for the weekend to see her boyfriend, but has been off at medical school in El Paso. So, yay for old friends!

Also, Casey decided (rather randomly, in my opinion) to begin demolishing and rebuilding the deck on the side of our house. I am no great fan of manual labor and especially outside manual labor and have no intention of helping.

I do think the fence needs painting and will help with that, though...I'm not a total princess. Just when I don't see the point the princess surfaces. The deck was okay by me before...but there's no arguing with the man.

School has gone quite well up 'til this point. I love my students with a BIG pink heart. I mean it. I made this big deal the first week that they have rights in my classroom, such as to be treated with respect and patience and to communicate their needs and be heard, etc...of course they have responsibilities too. But, as a whole, it's going well.

I really do go out of my way to be patient and kind, which is not always easy because teenagers can be annoying, and no one's perfect. I'm firm as well, but I'm trying to ask questions first rather than scold, which seems effective. I even apologized to a student and gave him a lollipop after he got mad about something silly and pouted. I figured it was better to score a point with the kid rather that "be right." I still discipline, of course...but I want to do it in such a way as to avoid resentment. I had some serious attitude buggers last year that just drove me nuts last year...and with 33 kids in the room I just don't have time for that. Anyway...we'll see how it goes, but so far...great. Seriously, I have great students. Smart, eager, adorable.

And, strangely, they're talking to me. I've often lamented to myself that teenagers never tell you what's going on, but then get mad at you for not giving them a break because something horrible happened recently. And stuff does happen to these kids. One kid that I know has a really rough life (foster care, juvenile detention, etc) told me Friday that he wasn't feeling too good...that's a big deal. I gave him a lollipop (lame, I know!) Another girl told me about her little brother that's going to lose 1/2 his brain in an epilepsy surgery. Another that her boyfriend broke up with her, another that she got in a huge fight with her folks, another that he might have cancer and his dad is abusive. And these are ordinary kids, at a pretty decent school.

So...anyway...it's different. Of course, they tell me good stuff too. But, most importantly, they're talking to me. It's good.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cooking up a Storm

So Friday night, re-painted our coffee table. It looks much better. Yay for small, quick projects!

So, I woke up around 7 this morning and started baking.

And baking...

And baking! So, I made 3 dozen muffins, walnut, blueberry-lemon and cinnamon chocolate chip, and molasses cookies. I froze most for delayed consumption. Homemade muffins make going to work at 6:15 am not so grumpy.

I cooked too. Four cheese penne with zucchini, baked tilapia, salmon and roasted rosemary potatoes.

The puppies did not help.

They are lazy. We keep telling them that they need to get jobs, but they never do.