Tuesday, April 27, 2010

iGoogle...do you?

Recently, Kelly told me I needed to create an iGoogle page for myself. Being the great friend she is, she decided to create it for me. I'll explain it, just in case you're like me and late (as usual) in jumping on the recent bandwagon. It's basically a page that you create with your favorite "gadgets." My page has, first of all, a picture of Edward Cullen that greets me, a quickview of my Gmail account, a daily literary quote (which has not yet contained an author I actually know), my Google calendar, weather updates, (rain today and tomorrow...), links to and updates from StephenieMeyer.com (have you seen the new Eclipse trailer yet??), Design*Sponge, and Cooking Light, and my very own Snow Tiger that I feed and care for. Oh! It also has a place to post to my blog (no pictures, just text), which I am trying out for the first time right now. I won't get to check if it actually worked until I get home, so hopefully it hasn't done something crazy like translate the words into Spanish or insert exclamation points after each sentence.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Four down, three to go...

Days of STAR testing, that is. Things have gone relatively smoothly, but I think we all are pretty wiped out from it. The exciting thing is after testing we get a few weeks of normal teaching without standards review or stressful meetings. That will be nice.

And the real exciting thing is that I have five weeks and two days left of the school year! Things are moving right along.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Muffin with my STAR

I think it's cruel how California has decided to completely destroy the word "star." What used to mean something lovely and sparkly to me now means something evil and painful, all wrapped up in a multiple choice test. The sad thing is STAR testing merely began yesterday. I have only completed two of seven days of this! How am I dealing? I made muffins, yummy cranberry orange muffins to pair with a cup of hot tea. And I ate that muffin and drank that tea while sitting on my couch, refusing to do anything else except write and read.

I must be honest, though. I don't know how long muffins can save my sanity...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tears of...joy?

This past weekend, John and Kelly and the baby came and spent a couple of nights with us. Now, this has become a fairly common thing for all of us. Because JK have been staying in Bakersfield for awhile awaiting a job placement in San Diego, we've had the wonderful pleasure of getting to seem them quite often. Sadly, this is going to change. Their visit came with reasons to celebrate: Kelly's birthday and John's work start date set for May. Of course, those could also be considered reasons to cry just a bit because, first of all, who really likes getting older, and second of all, who ever likes their wonderful friends to move away?

So, we celebrated (I'm going to stick with the positive view) by doing all of our favorite things. We went to Cheesecake Factory and ate delicious food and dessert; lounged around drinking coffee and eating cookies; stayed up late gabbing away like high school girls; enjoyed a breakfast of fresh crepes; shopped a bit; watched Twilight extras and New Moon; and barbecued outside in the beautiful weather. Needless to say, it was a great weekend, although it felt bittersweet as we were saying good-bye.

By the way, I thought I'd share that I gave Kelly the ultimate moving away survival kit: Twilight and New Moon dvds. If only I could have given Edward Cullen himself. :)

A few pictures from the visit are below. I particularly like the pouty one of Anna who, contrary to what these pictures show, is quite a smiley baby.

The next Feely/deGrassie post will probably be us visiting them in lovely San Diego! That doesn't sound too bad, afterall...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eclipse Countdown!

Notice the awesome Eclipse countdown on my sidebar? Enjoy, all.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Green Maple

I have many favorite trees, but one that I often get to enjoy is the lovely green maple right outside our living room window. Its little corner is getting full with plants: two climbing rose bushes, lots of new wax begonias, some baby nasturtiums (which you can't see too well yet) and snap dragons.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cooking with Alton

It all began when Stephanie got a hankering for steak. We contemplated for about 30 seconds going out, then I remembered that I had a huge beef tenderloin in my fridge that my mom had given me. She said it was easy, I told her. Just cut it into three portions, and you end up with a few little filets, a small roast, and flank-like steaks for sandwiches. I called my mom to make sure: yep, easy, and I could even go online and watch Alton Brown from Good Eats cut it apart.

So, Steph and I took out the meat, drained and rinsed it (the red juice, Alton assured us, was not blood, but some type of protein enzyme...but of course, it looked like blood to our gag reflexes), and were ready to cut our steaks. We pulled open the computer and propped it on the counter, so we could join Alton in what he disguistingly refers to as "surgery."

Little did we know what we had gotten ourselves into. The process began with pulling off the outer membrane. Yes, that's right. A thin, slippery membrane that actually didn't want to pulled off at all, but instead wanted to stay right where it was. After some tugging and pulling, I got most of it off. The next step was slicing off the silver skin. Silver what? At this point, we're thinking my mom must have been playing a joke on us. Perhaps having a better knife would have helped, but once again, the silver skin wanted to stay attached! After more cutting, tugging, and pulling, we got that off, as well.
One hour into the ordeal, and we finally had the piece of meat we thought we were going to have to begin with. We cut the three portions, made our four little steaks, and put the rest aside for later cooking. After a quick trip to the grocery store, we busied ourselves for the next couple of hours making sides. Three hours later (we thought this was going to be a quick meal), we sat down to a tasty dinner, feeling quite proud of our butchering accomplishments. It's always good to know of other careers we could pursue in case our current ones don't work out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stop and smell the candles

I love candles. In fact, I spent a good portion of my day in Anthropologie today walking around and smelling all of their fabulous scents. (I can only imagine what I looked like, sniffing those candles as if it were my last breath.) Since Anthro is a bit pricey for me, however, I am always thrilled when I find a fantastic candle at a great price. Recently, I found this one at Target and love it! I tend to like scents that have a citrus edge to them, but still are sweet. This one is perfect and a good little deal at about $8.00. Plus the tin is super cute and surely will find a use once the candle is all gone.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Snob no more

As an English major and now English teacher, I have found that I've often shied away from the trendy books and series that make their way into the hands of my students (and friends). Lit snob, some would call it. It wasn't so much that I didn't think those books were worthy of my reading attention; it was more the problem that there are so many tried and true classics out there that I haven't read that it felt like a sin to read something else.

In the last six months, however, I have dove right into two book series that I fell in love with. The Twilight saga and, more recently, the Harry Potter books. I have already said the good and the bad about Twilight, namely that although Meyer may not be in the running for the best writing, she definitely can put together a good love story. Her creation of the perfect guy (vampire Edward Cullen) left all of us wanting more!

Harry Potter was my most recent conversion, and I absolutely loved the books. Family and friends of mine have been long time fans, and I wished I would have listened to their advice and read the books long ago. (Although, reading Twilight and HP over the last few months has been something to help get me through a difficult time...so maybe it was all perfect timing, afterall!) My spring break was spent reading the last couple of books, and I watched in awe as Rowling completed the seven-book story, bringing it together in a way I did not expect. It was beautiful, enthralling, and deeply spiritual. (I don't want to say too much, in case there are any late-comers like me reading this.) I will say this, however: many friends of mine assured me that the HP series was influential in their faith, and I completely agree. I am more amazed at the Lord right now than anything, that he uses even simple fiction books (and books about taboo topics!) to enlighten people about spiritual truths.

So, I have learned a valuable lesson. The classics are classics for a reason: they are beautifully written, have incredible plots, and were often something new for their time. But there is something wonderful about reading a book written in our generation for our generation, especially one that makes you think...this book just might pass the test of time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Post-Spring Break Blues

There are few things more depressing for me as a teacher than returning to work after a lovely, but far too short, break. I know that I should be grateful; not many people besides teachers get these sweet vacations throughout their year. However, to defend all teachers, I must say this: We would lose our minds if it weren't for these breaks. Seriously. I interact with around 100 teenagers (middle school teenagers, mind you) all day. Each and every moment, they etch away a little of my sanity. I find myself wishing I'd get sick here and there, merely for a reprieve. And then, just when I think I cannot take anymore, the weekend comes, or a Monday off, or something as beautiful as spring break.

However, as we all know too well, all good things must come to an end. And when the end of something extraordinarily wonderful as spring break comes, there is always an inevitable blue mood that follows.