Lemme Tell You a Story (2)

Considering that tomorrow will be one of the darkest days this country has seen in a really long time, I thought something fluffy was in order. 

(If you missed the first installment here it is)

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[happy 12th birthday, Cordie!]

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1. Miracle of miracles- I had an HVAC person out to the house the other day to give me a second opinion on some heater repairs our maintenance company said we needed (that neared $3,000 dollars, unless we wanted to shell out $13,000 for two new units). Turns out the new people said we don't really need to do anything and that the other company works on 100% commission. Thank goodness I went with my gut.

2. I signed up for a 10k in a little over a month in Redlands, a city forty-five minutes or so away from here. I have been running more and feeling good, so I'm excited. 

3. Last weekend I had a training overnight and I ditched my colleagues and spent the entire time after we were released the first day alone. We originally tossed around the idea of going to dinner as a site, but myself and another teacher bailed to spend the evenings by ourselves. I went to the gym, finished The Nix (loved!), got take out, and slept like a baby in a big comfy hotel room.

4. In a few weeks I'm going to Vegas with my mom to see Cher, which I'm really excited for. Meanwhile, my friend asked me to go see Elton John the weekend before, also in Vegas. I was sooooo bummed to say no, but that would have been a super expensive two weeks and I would have felt bad to leave Sawyer two weekends in a row. I am super amused that both performers are sort of... old. And yet here we are wanting to. 

5. I had planned on taking Sawyer to Zion National Park over spring break, but as I look at hotel rooms I'm seeing that they're already becoming super booked. So I think we are going to go to Yosemite, since I really want to see all the waterfalls this spring after the massive amounts of rain and snow California is getting (thankfully). My mom was excited to hear that we might go there instead, since she can come meet us for the day to hang out. I guess I should reserve a room! 

6. This coffee table book seems adorable (I follow him on Instagram and his pictures are great):


7. I recently read something that advised people to "do less, more" when it comes to housework. I tend to keep things from not going to hell during the week and then spend a few hours on the weekend really cleaning. I've been trying to keep that philosophy in mind lately and when I have a few minutes I try to do something extra. Same with grading and my classroom; it's a lot more doable to grade a few papers here and there rather than a hundred in one sitting.

8. I am reading A Long Way Down by Ishmael Beah right now and having a really hard time with it. It's a really good, important book, but considering  the inevitable looming domestic and international political instability, as well as some own recent personal concerns, it's just maybe a bit too unsettling for me right now. I'm no quitter, plus I have an incredible talent for torturing myself, so I will power through.

9. This weekend will be fun. On Saturday we are having a few friends and their kids over for brunch, and Sunday I am going to reorganize my workout room (yes, this currently sounds fun, but that may change). I might try to sneak out for a little while to go rug shopping, too. This is 33, guys.

10. Betsy DeVos is a horrible, unqualified, ridiculous wench and doesn't deserve an sort of cabinet position. Elizabeth Warren is my hero, though, for her unabashed roasting of her at the hearing. God. It all just makes me sick to my stomach. Luckily, I live in California, but I fear for those who live in less liberal states. Good job, America!

Of the Kitchen Variety

[bad picture, good recipe]

I'm really, really hungry right now. I have been very busy today and went for a run, and now my husband is apparently coming home late, so I can either wait for him to eat dinner, go snack, or I can write about food (because words just always satisfy an empty stomach).

The third option it is. Blogging about food instead of eating it is the new diet plan.

Recent Recipes Tried
Last week I somehow managed to try three new recipes, all good, and all options to bring the next day for lunch. The first was Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, Wild Rice Soup, which I thought was delicious but was way too involved (and made way too much for my sized crock pot). I prefer crock pot recipes to have as few steps as possible, and this one required a bit of effort. Quinoa Taco Bowls with Tomatillo Avocado Salsa was delicious and easy. The salsa was definitely the best part and would be great on other things as well. And the final was Tomato Cream Pasta with Grilled Cheese Crumbs, which was a basic tomato sauce with mascarpone, plus tiny chunks of bread sauteed in olive oil and butter until crunchy and then mixed with some mozzarella (see picture above). How could you go wrong? 

Restaurant Lust
We used to attempt one new restaurant a month, but that's not a practical endeavor since having a kid. I recently read about Curtis Stone's LA place, Maude, which sounds super awesome, as it should be, considering it was LA Weekly's Best Restaurant of 2015. They only seat a super-limited number of people a night and the entire meal (it's a price fixe one) is centered around a certain ingredient, like "lime" or "truffles" for the month. Reservations on weekends are basically impossible, but a girl can dream. 

Kitchen Essentials I Need
The list of things to replace seems endless right now: 
- new cookies sheets
- a larger food processor 
- a better broiler pan 
- garlic press
- an 8x8 non-stick pan
- a springform pan 
- a coated flat-beater for my KitchenAid Mixer 

Kitchen Gadgets Tempting Me
- An Instapot
- A griddle that spans two burners
- New plates and bowls 
- A second Keurig for work (so indulgent, but it would make work that much better)

Recipes on Deck 
I'm hosting a small brunch on Saturday for some friends and their kids. There will be six adults and five kids (who may or may not eat at this weird time or day), so nothing too crazy, but still something to look forward to planning. Some things I'm considering:
- a frittata 
- our family's Honey Horns
- Some sort of potato hash
- French toast casserole 

Bookish Discoveries

Happy Sunday! Hopefully this is a three-day-weekend for you- there's nothing like knowing that your week is Monday-less. Meanwhile, I have a few cool new things I've discovered lately that I thought I'd pass along.

The Handmaid's Tale Series
I seriously just found out that this Hulu Series was being made. I always have reservations about books turned movie/TV, but I am excited that Elizabeth Moss is Offred and that Alexis Bledel is also also going to in it. They will obviously have to add a lot to the story and characters for this to work as  show, which sort of preemptively bothers me, but I will definitely watch a few episodes. 

Serial Reader
I honestly don't remember where I heard about this app (Facebook? A blog?), but I love that you can get chunks that read in less than twenty minutes delivered to your device every day, for free (I upgraded for a few dollars so that I can read ahead, though). I am currently rereading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and am hoping my students take advantage of it to pace their outside reading obligations. I don't plan on reading anything for the first time, but it's a great way to revisit old classics I read in college and high school.

Moonlite- A Bedtime Story Projector
A friend posted this online the other day about a Kickstarter project about a little manual turn wheel that goes over your iPhone that projects pictures from stories on the ceiling. The story itself, as well as buttons for sound effects, appears on your phone for you to read as you make the pictures appear above. It was a little expensive, but I love the idea and think Sawyer will love it occasionally as a treat in his dark room. Plus, it reminded me of a 21st century View Master, which I loved when I was a kid. It's was fully funded on Kickstarter, but you can get it on Indiegogo

Lovepop Cards
These are really pricy for a card and I haven't bought one yet, but they are so cool and I know I'd love to get one. There are a variety of intricate pop-up cards that seem to run around $12, give or take a few bucks. 

Productive App
I feel like the Productive App is my answer to bullet journaling, at least in terms of habit tracking. This app (it's a couple bucks for unlimited goals and features) allows you to set goals that occur in whatever time frame you desire, determine labels, colors and icons, and provides stats on your productivity. I am super list and goal-oriented, so this is a dream come true. 

[some examples from my own setup]

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Day three of second semester: caught up on grading. This means I have graded 133 quizzes on their break-work reading, 133 Gregor from The Metamorphosis models (also from break), plus the accompanying reflection form, and 80 quick assignments from TOK. I have been utilizing every spare second at work and am sticking to my grading schedule. I am determined. 

2. I am hoping January isn't setting the precedent for 2017 in terms of domestic money-sucks. We have to replace our pool sweep, supposedly need several thousand dollars worth of repairs on our heater (this might be far less, from what my gut and uncle are telling me; I have a second opinion in the works for Monday), and our dog needs a currently harmless gum growth removed before it becomes too large and gets infected. 

3. My child is sitting on the ground threading pipe cleaners through a colander singing "Rainbow Connection." We are not used to all this rain (but thankful for it).

4. George Lucas has decided on LA for the home of his new museum and while I'm sure there are probably political or social or environmental reasons I should be angry I'm just plain excited. I think it's seven or so years away, but it'll fun to track the progress when we make our yearly or so visits down to Exposition Park for the other museums that are there. 

5. I am going to a conference Friday and Saturday and I get to (have to?) stay overnight. I'm of course a little excited because I'll have a lot of alone time, since the Friday session ends by three or four and I am not close to any of my colleagues from my actual site who are also attending. I am not exactly wowed by the city we will be staying in, though, so part of my feels that it's one big hassle to get everything squared away here at home for thirty-six hours away in... Cerritos. 

6. I just got Kafka by Robert Crumb and David Mairowitz, the short graphic biography of Franz Kafka, since I'm teaching him at school and have always meant to read more about his life story. Hopefully it's good and I can pass it along to my students to read for outside reading!

7. The knitting guy who makes himself sweaters to correspond with his travels is the best. I saw the article a few days ago, and when my husband sent it to me today he said that Sam Barsky is my "spirit animal." I don't think I'd take it that far, but he's still pretty awesome.

8. I had a really hard time getting through Obama's Farewell Address. Actually, I started crying before he started talking. If we were trading him in for someone else it would be a tiny bit better, but I have such respect for him and will miss his humanity, compassion, and humor.

9. I am still reading The Nix and am still a huge fan. I wish it was longer than 600 pages- it's that fantastic.

10. Last weekend my friend and I took Sawyer to Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley, which I will now associate with the most aggressive ducks and squirrels I have ever seen. They were coming right up to us begging for food! This is why you DON'T FEED THE WILDLIFE!!!! The park itself is awesome- a true mile square of playgrounds, walking paths, golf courses, archery ranges, and sports fields.