Friday, October 20, 2017

Win Some, Lose Some


Coat of arms activity-  I failed to give an example of how exactly I wanted it done so several of them took it as a writing assignment and just wrote words.

Shishkabob Catapult- The premise was nice.  The construction was not strong enough to actually apply any physics to hitting premade targets.  So when in doubt- just throw the ammo (marshmallows)  One kid invented the cross bow with his and it was plenty effective.  Then he held it up and said "Look, it looks like a cross."  And I said "hence the name...."  A light bulb went on.


Using runes to code the notes for class and having them decode them.  One student said "it made my brain tired but I liked it."

Transcribing compositions using a feather quill pen and a bottle of ink.  One said "this is a disaster waiting to happen."  To which I repliied, "Yes, Mrs. Terry, Danger is my middle name."  No disaster yet.  A little ink on the back of a chair- barely there.  They were completely engaged AND asking questions about medieval times.  "What exactly is a monk?"  "What did they do?"  "That's all?"  "didn't they have to copy books?" (yes- remember that part in our notes about the church holding all cultural and academic knowledge!"  "I can see why it took all day."

Next week a little more on daily life with costumed paper dolls, a game of Nim, a game of chess culminating in the making of the knight's helmet.  Meanwhile their ears are being acclimated to the sound of medieval sacred and secular music.  My guess is they will easily be able to tell the difference by the time the two weeks are finished.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Double Trouble

These two little monkeys finally fit their hats!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Later in the week

Yes,I am going to try to get high school kids to create knight in shining armor hats.  Time will tell

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On the menu

Last night was mushroom stroganoff with brown rice. I tried baking pears and apples again. Did 25 minutes at 350 and realized it was supposed to be 450. Did fifteen more minutes there and had some burnt maple syrup but it was close enough to an apple dumpling that I felt rewarded.

I took a short vacation from cooking last weekend and struggled through the week with chili frozen from the week before and tortillas and refried beans.

This week I will be more prepared. Lunches will be individually frozen black beans and cauliflower rice. I will enjoy hummus and carrots through the weekend and have baked a spaghetti squash as the new thing to try. I'm thinking of adding a curry butter seasoning to it for dinner tonight.


I'm always surprised when food does what the recipe says it's going to do.

I also knit. I've finished one of ten pairs of mittens for the high school students. Brought them donuts last week. I think I'm just grateful to have almost adults to start my day. Next week begins the history of Western European music- starting with the Middle Ages. I believe it should be taught in the context of history rather than out of thin air so there will be several blog worthy projects in the next week. And while their doing them I will ply their brains with facts and sounds.

I am continuing the lace wrap in white malabrigo laceweight. I love the pattern and the accountant recipient so It's been an enjoyable non tedious project.

I missed both Zumbas this past week and rather than losing any lbs., simply maintained. There might have been some Mexican food in there as well. I bought my first pair of pants that really feel like tights and wore them with a long gray tunic top. I was just one of the kids.

Maybe I should change the name of this blog to on the menu and on the needles.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

An observation at Panera's


The women in this picture, they MADE the little people with them with their bodies. Life is amazingly complicated and amazingly simple.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Just so you can be part of the fun...

Here are the girls from brunch who get a regular scolding from the dining hall manager for not knowing how many we will have for lunch.  Juanita on the left is teased for talking to much. (in fact the face she made is after I told her to stop talking so I could take the picture- I knew Lorna was in a hurry)  Lorna on the right is called "cookie" and asked if she wants oatmeal regularly because she hates both.  Showing her buckeye balls in the center is greatauntofmine.

It's so hard to explain the conversation.  It is peppered with misunderstanding, mishearing and miscommunication.  And laughing at all of it.  Also picking on each other.  They like to pick on each other.

They talked about the Ohio State and WVU football games, never realizing they were actually talking about two separate games.  Aunt assumed they understood she was talking about Ohio State.  They assumed the same thing about West Virginia.  They never realized what games the others were talking about.  It would have been free of misunderstanding if both teams had played a similar game.

At one point the conversation went from the boys in the football games to the gnats in the dining hall.  Not realizing we had moved on, Lorna said "I saw them taking one away on a stretcher"  And we thought she meant the gnat and I made my fingers into a gnat sized ambulance- sound effects included.

In other news, this weekend was one of accomplishment.  I found the secret file electronically tax pin that I've been looking for and harassing the previous accountant for after many months of searching.  It was in the "important document" folder where I had looked for it at least 1000 times.

I also took the final steps to transfer one of the previously untransferred investment accounts from deceased brother in laws account to her name.

Both were absolutely horrible tasks that make me crazy with the fear of details I won't be able to find what I need to complete the tasks.  I was not expecting success on either front. And yet karma ruled in my favor.

The food making of the weekend included more hummus and some black beans and quinoa in burrito shells.  Both had three cloves of garlic.  I heart garlic.  I've noticed that the variety of possible meals has increased with each week. Other than the pears, I took a week off.  I'll make them again tonight with the walnuts this time.  The bonus of cooking with beans is that if you screw up you're not throwing out $10 worth of food.

On the knitting front I have four projects I'm rotating between.  The connected triangle scarf (I've hit an uneven decreasing snafu that has put it into time out), the frank lloyd wright inspired scarf (the perfect knit night all garter knit), a lace wrap I'm making for the patient accountant (out of white malabrigo lace weight.  she is such  beautiful brown color, it will look spectacular on her) and the mittens I'm going to make for the high school kids.  They might not ever wear them but they will remember that someone cared enough about them to knit them mittens.

And so it goes.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

So very openmi... oh.. Nevermind.

I NEVER bring up religion in conversation.  I live and teach in the middle of some Jesusville and prefer not to make a fuss.

Today I found myself talking to the grandparent of Sally (at Zumba.)  We were talking about how shy Sally is.  Grandma was a rambler so hang on.

GM: We took Sally to bible school.  We go to the Presbyterian one sometimes and the Baptist one other times.  I like to expose her to all different religions.  I mean, we're all going to the same heaven anyway.  There aren't different compartments. Well, I don't know what you believe, but I believe we all go to the same heaven any way (and then she went into serious non-affective cult voice and said) Imeanaslongasweallbelieveinourlordandsaviorjesuschrist.


I got nothing.  I don't share her belief.  I don't care to share mine.  The conversation was about how Sally had stage fright at both bible schools and as the music teacher I didn't want to say "yea, I don't know if she has a good voice- she's always too afraid to sing."

The longer I live the more adamant I feel about my Judgy McJudgerson opinion on religion.  Because if I were being really honest (which I can do here because it is in fact my blog and so very few read it) I mostly just wanted to say "I think you're full of shit."

The openminded/Jesus only dichotomy was what sent me to write a post about it.

Item Number Two

Another Zumba friend (who's religious preferences I don't know and can therefore engage in regular conversation with her without judging in either direction) brought me pears from her pear tree tonight.  I was going to just eat them plain but then I got this idea:

Baked pears- I've added maple syrup and cinnamon.  The recipe I read  also called for walnuts which I did not have so I did without.  The date brownies also call for walnuts.  I may need to keep those around.  The recipe also suggests topping it with vanilla soy yogurt.  Whatev.  I have been served whipped topping  made from coconut milk which seemed like a possibility but not on a school night.

Greathusbandbob went to visit Greatauntofmine today.  He told her he wanted to visit since he doesn't come with me to Sunday brunch with the girls.  She said, " yea, Becky hasn't been here in a long time."  If by long time she means every Sunday then she is correct.  I think we just observed the first sign of mental decline.

And finally.  I was standing next to a first grade line this afternoon when a little tiny one looked up and said "Hey, you got skinny."  WHAT THE WHAT!!!! My new favorite friend forever.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Indian Accountant

Told me about the two specialty shops in her plaza. One Asian and one Middle Eastern. She told me about lentils and their many varieties. She also spoke of spices.

I put green lentils in the crockpot this morning. I prepared some clarified butter in which to mix cumin seeds, fresh ginger, curry powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder. In another twenty minutes (when the brown rice is ready) I will have lentils and rice with Indian spices.



Above- the bent spoon used to make clarified butter.



Who Am I?

I know I've asked that before after a cooking adventure or two but this new thing every week has now been going on for several weeks. Seriously, who am I?

I also found some medjool dates to make another batch of unbaked brownies. Furthermore I know the difference between medjool dates and the less expensive variety.

Greathusbandbob is out and about for the afternoon. This means that once I enjoy my lunch I will watch made for t.v. movies from the 70's and 80's and get the laundry done early.

Tomorrow I will make and freeze some bean chili in case I run out of lunches next week and will prepare the brownies. Knowing how good they are I must put off preparing them so I don't have an entire day to resist them.

Also I purchased the one liter size of olive oil because I keep running out. I almost bought the kind that is in a metal can like a gas can but thought that would feel pretentious and have a slight hint of cultural appropriation.


And while it doesn't necessarily photograph well, it tasted AMAZING!


Friday, September 29, 2017

I'm no empath...

And maybe these are just the post traumatic after-effects of that header I took a few summers ago, landing head first on the cement but....

Here are things that have made me twitch, squirm, blanch and quease of late.

The bandaid on my cousins nose where I know they had to take out some cancer cells.

The three inch (completely healed, mind you) scar on greathusbandbob's belly from the kidney removal.

The mere thought that someday I might have to have some sort of surgery performed on myself. I am so creeped out by that, it's nearly reaching my "fear of the dentist" proportions. Even though there is no surgery planned.

Watching one of the high school kids tackle another one. In football, with pads, on a damn little iPhone where they look like little bugs.

Any acted on television, not real, misstep, trip, bump, kick or jolt. Don't even get me started on the guy from the defenders (Netflix) flying from building top to building top.

I am a walking virtual reality bot. At school today the kids saw a production of you're a good man Charlie Brown. There is a point where Charlie pretends to bang his head against a tree and creates the sound effect elsewhere. I flinched and jumped at that. Aargh.

In other news, my accountant, who is of Indian heritage, said to try green lentils in the crockpot with turmeric and cumin so that may be this weekends cooking experiment. There is a Middle Eastern grocery store near her office. Also not far from Aunt's place. I picked up some lentils and some more dates for brownies. I may have to investigate Indian recipes. There were so many interesting items in that store.

I'm knitting a scarf based on Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. It feels Mondrian with more blues, grays and greens and not primary colors. Using the magic counter that knitnightmarc turned into an app makes lots of long boring rows move more quickly when there is a timer telling you what percentage you have accomplished and how much you have yet to go.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Weekend Dining

Come to find I am an excellent cook when making food I love.

This morning's activities started with some easy peasy hummus and again some leftover carrots.


The big experiment of the morning were chocolate covered Katie's ultimate unbaked brownies. The main ingredients are dates and nuts. It called for just walnuts but I had (and therefore used) a walnut/macadamia/cashew combo.


Dates are sticky gooey. Once food processed they make the processor tired. It becomes the texture of those little Debbie brownies. Cocoa makes it chocolatey. The frosting is coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup and cocoa. I don't know much about dates. They kind of creep me out but the internet says they're good for you. It looks like this-


I don't know how they taste yet. After you make them they need to be refrigerated for two hours.

This was followed by the main course- brown rice with mushroom stroganoff. The bonus of using the stroganoff seasoning vs. just Italian seasoning is that the spice packet seems to have a bit of a thickening agent. Greathusbandbob ate it. I asked if it was good. He gave a lukewarm "yeah- I kept looking for the meat though". I thought it was spectacular and had the feeling of mushroom risotto.

There's a head of cauliflower in the fridge waiting to become cauliflower crust pizza tomorrow. Rather than using sauce and cheese I'm going to top with olive oil and garlic and use with the hummus. There will also be bean chili for lunches next week.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Just You Wait.

What not to say to your spouse who has been counting calories tediously since July- "while you're up there will you heat up that apple dumpling I bought and put some ice cream on it."

My internal response was are you f-ing kidding me? I managed to pull off a "really?" And he said, oh wait nevermind, I'll get it.

I love the guy So Much, but I'm thinking of starting a club called "think before you speak."

Talking to my doctor this week, he thinks it's emotional abuse to even have those treats in the house. If he only knew.

This week was a leftover week- some hummus, some bean chili, another batch of quinoa and black beans. I had quite a shopping list that never came to fruition. I'll try tomorrow. There is a recipe for no-bake brownies involving prunes and cocoa and there will definitely be many lemons and chick peas for more hummus.

And hopefully an interesting colorful blog post.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Since then-

Don't feel like talking about school.  It goes on as usual.  The new schedule is heavy at the beginning of the week and falls away as the week goes on.  Since I've always seen kids twice a week and now it's only once, planning is a breeze- though content is taking a hit.

Of interest this week has been food.  It's been overnight oatmeal every morning made especially delicious with the maple syrup gifted to me by kmkat.  I made another round of meatless chili last weekend for some frozen lunches.

The new recipes of the week include one with quinoa and black beans- seasoned with red pepper and cumin.  While the recipe didn't call for it, I wrapped this in a tortilla shell and found it very pleasant.

Today I revisited (from several years ago) homemade hummus.  Chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and cumin.  It's kind of amazing the way you can put those things together and create such deliciousness.  

I've also realized that baby carrots have the superpower of being a hummus delivery device.  When we have them in the house they usually go bad.  Turn on their hummus delivery device super power and you run out of them well before you grow weary of them.

So far I think my three favorite finds in this adventure have been chia seeds, cumin and tahini.  Last night I had tahini, chia seeds and honey on some sprouted bread.  It was oh so filling and the opposite of chicken.  This only makes sense if you realize how I have come to detest chicken in all its incarnations.

There is a blog called chocolatecoveredkatie which appears to have quite a few interesting possibilities.  I trust her having had success with her black bean brownies.  It's a little bit crazy the amount of time I've been spending in the kitchen lately.  I might even learn to make it less complicated and enjoy it more.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

All manner of kid things to make one smile.

The high school.  What a great gift this class was to my burnt out self.  The girl who I thought was suspicious of me declared me her favorite teacher this morning.  Although it might have been because she wanted a reference for a special activity but I kind of think it's not.


It was so much fun with the straws, we took some notes and moved to the trumpet mouthpieces and brass tubing.

The mouthpieces were $3 each so I let them keep them.  The above mentioned class member shared hers with her 2 year old sister and returned to class the next day with this-


THAT was so much fun that I rushed through my chat on orchestral and folk string instruments and brought the cigar box slide guitar kit for assembly.

Presenting the various eras of history and the music from each has the potential to be not as interesting. I've started brain storming about how to maintain interest.  As of now the plan is to play some Renaissance dance music on the ukulele.  Not sure what I'll do when we hit the Classical or Romantic period.

After we finish all of the instruments in the portion of the course on timbre, we will be talking about pitch.  I found out THIS was a thing.  It rolls up.  It weighs nothing.  It takes batteries or can be powered with a computer USB.  This will be handy.

With the younger ones I was asked to give some extra recess to K-er's this afternoon, looked up and spotted this- no one needs to be taught that trees are made to be danced around.  That tree must be so happy.

And finally from/for the youngest set.  Greatniece's baby girl due in October-  They had a shower where they live in New York and I finally spotted a theme to knit around.  The little mitts were to be fox faces but greathusbandbob suggested paws and that's the best.  There's also a standard baby sock pattern that I will do in the same colors so that all four "paws" are covered.

Just lots of things to smile at. I can't argue with that.

Saturday, September 02, 2017


One of the three remaining people who read this blog.  I started blogging in 2007.  Kmkat started hers in 2006.  I believe we became friends shortly thereafter.  Today as she traveled through these United States, she stopped for dinner here in the 'burg.  I can only hope that she was as delighted with our company as greathusbandbob and I were with hers.

Yarn snob-Food snob. Same difference.

There has always been a certain amount of joking from knitters about hiding yarn from household members. We don't have that problem here because we spend allowances. Buy what you want, as much as you want and when you want as long as you are paying for it.

Of late resources have been diverted to food items and since those have to be stored in a shared space there is a certain amount of planning that goes into storage. As long as I keep the paper plates, salt and pepper in easily accessed places and things don't fall out of the cupboard, it's all good.

There may or may not have been eyebrows raised at the brown rice syrup, brown rice pasta and one pound bag of raw cashews but you really can't argue with the +/- 20 lbs lost. He knows my argument and has it with himself with every bag I bring in. It's easier that way.

However, countertop appliances are his nemesis. The blender is on top of the refrigerator. The mini-chopper has a cozy spot in the cupboard as do the canning jars. (I knew I'd eventually find a use for those).

In my car at this very moment is a life-size food processor. It's just the $30 one Athough anybody could have convinced me to go big or go home, I learned my lesson of not buying expensive tools until you know what you're doing and know if you're going to keep doing it.

I am waiting for a time when he is not closely scrutinizing what I bring into the house (like when he's not home!) for that. At the very least I want it to be out of the box before he sees it. And he hates cardboard boxes so I may leave that in the car. I can't hide it forever if I want to use it but the goal is to weave it into the fabric of our lives and pretend we've had it for years.

After a nap I will look into making plant based (no cheese sauce) macaroni and cheese. If this can be a healthy low-calorie alternative I will be thrilled (but will have to find a reliable source for nutritional yeast). Other weekend adventures include black bean brownies made with dark chocolate and the go-to honey oat granola bars.

What. The. What. I am cooking food. That's just cray cray.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


I am still winning at food. Overnight chia oatmeal (with maple syrup and cinnamon) is absolutely the best find of this experience so far. Anecdotally chia encourages weight loss. I'm going to guess that it depends on a persons chemistry and reasons for eating. What I do know is that I'm not starving at lunchtime. I still eat a little then but it's not hangry eating.

Weekend plans include more honey granola bars and something yet to be determined. I've got to step out of the "Netflix cycle" where I look at recipes all evening and make nothing. Working on commitment

In more winning news, the in class making of woodwind instruments from straws was a success at the high school. They explored the possibilities (increasing the length, changing pitches with a slide and cutting finger holes to change notes.). One kid bragged about making one and playing it at home. He was a senior. After a second attempt the next day, one freshman was actually able to play with a pleasant tone.

The loudest part of the clips is my laughter but you'll have that. If you only have time for one, watch the second one.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Food from the earth but I'm not becoming "one of THOSE people."

This is what lunch looked like today-


The potatoes were Yukon gold and baked and were so delicious that they didn't need butter, though I did add some cottage cheese to trick myself into believing it was sour cream. The tomato came from a Zumba friend's garden and tasted as a tomato should.

Speaking of Zumba- another goal was met- perfect attendance for the month of August. That put me in "the drawing" and I won my first Zumba shirt. The sad part is that I'm likely done with Zumba with friends until May because I hate driving home in the dark. I will still have WiiU Zumba.


In case I failed to mention it, overnight chia oatmeal is amazing! I don't know if it's the different milks (coconut and almond) or if it's the chia seeds but it has some serious oomph to it.

The chia seeds have made it into the kitchen proper. There was an order delivered to the school that will take some masterminding. We don't have a ton of cupboard space and I have to make it look like nothing new was added. I don't really have to hide it but life is less complicated with a little creative storage.

Waiting to find a place in the lineup is a pretty big bag of raw cashews and the full fat coconut milk for cooking. There are several varieties of brown rice pasta and there also might be a food processor. I'm thinking I may stash the blender for special occasions and store the food processor in its place.

On the experimenting front there are some black bean brownies that look promising and now that I have cashews and tamari sauce, the world is my oyster. Also greathusbandbob is going out of town one night next week and I'll have free reign to experiment with abandon in the kitchen. Never did I think that would be something I would look forward to.

It could be that my new hobby will be plant based cooking. I'm stashing ingredients the way some people stash yarn.

School is school. I love the high school gig. I often wonder if I'm really mature enough to be teaching them and then I remember how old I am and realize that at least I can fake it.

The elementary part is so discouraging. I've gone from teaching music to kids twice a week to teaching them music once a week. The other times I have them I will be monitoring a math computer program. It makes me so sad. There are some days (today) where I only teach 90 minutes of music in an eight hour day. The rest of the day is computer and recess duty. I just don't feel like thinking about it.

And I do think of the world at large. I am mostly rendered speechless about the sad and crazy and need my little bubble now and again.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

In preparation...

Food Food Food.

I feel like I'm always thinking about what I want to make and what I need to make it.  I think I have finally found and collected in one way or another all of the obscure ingredients listed in these plant-based cookbooks.

The trickier ones to find were full fat canned coconut milk, tahini, tamari (which is gluten free soy sauce, I think).  I am most excited about the tahini.

Walmart wins were flax seeds, chia seeds, almond butter, cashew butter and almond milk.  At Aldi I found medjool dates (they are called for in smoothies frequently) and some multi-colored baby carrots as an addition to lunches.

Ordered from amazon are raw cashews which apparently are used to make dairy free cream sauces.  I haven't gone completely dairy free.  there is a little cottage cheese and some mexican cheddar in the diet.  In a pinch I'll have fried eggs for dinner.

The food of the week is rolled oats.  While they don't look very good (having missed the baking soda step, I was forced to improvise) these are tasty and I will definitely try them again.  They are a baked "cookie" made of oats, almond butter, a little coconut oil to hold them together and of all things, blueberries.  If someone would have told me to put blueberries in peanut butter cookies I would have called them crazy.  But, almond butter is just light enough to be able to pull off blueberries.  They are, in fact, delicious.  I haven't looked up the calorie content.  They are sweetened with maple syrup.  Even if the calorie count is high, they are healthy calories rather than empty ones.

This is the treat for tomorrow's breakfast- overnight chia oats. Coconut and almond milk, cinnamon, oats, chia seeds again sweetened with maple syrup.  I'm hoping they will be a little more filling than the total cereal and blueberries because I tend to feel really hungry around 10:00.

I have no idea what chia seeds are or what they will do but I love oats.

I also baked some potatoes for a little variation in lunches next week.  I'll use low-fat cottage cheese as a sour cream replacement.  If it gets really boring I'll find some taco sauce or garlic salt to spice it up.

I've got salad fixings for dinner and I made the refried bean/tortilla lasagne for dinner for a couple of days.  It's so easy to make, tasty and I think relatively healthy.

I also bought real black beans that have to soak overnight to see what the difference in those are.  I'm looking at some black beans with "real" black beans and brown rice later in the week.

You can never really tell with the scale/clothes/time of day combination but the highest last two digits of the scale were once 69 and I've seen 56 a few times. I'm still call it +/- 10 lbs for now.

All else is status quo and I believe that healthy cooking may be my new hobby.  I hope I grow to like it a little better as I go along.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I eat lunch at 12:30 on Wednesdays. The only other person who eats lunch at that time is the infamous p.e. teacher. When I eat in my room it makes a mess so I ate in the lounge.


Today after I sat down I heard about his stomach pain, his hernia, his constipation, the phone call to his mother about what to do about his constipation, what happened after he took the first dose of anti-constipation medicine and what happened after the second dose. He went on to talk about insurance premiums and blood tests. Really? All I can think is that it was his way of saying he'd prefer to eat alone.


In other news the children are not the same as they once were. They squirm, they twitch, they shout, the make noises, the giggle at their ridiculous behavior. I can't even. Today I just had to watch it happen. I had no idea what to do.


Finally, I finished the Atlanticus mandala giant crazed granny square. Only 10 of 12 sections but really, enough already. And I was out of yarn. It's about 5'x5'. Global warming means it will serve us better as a rug but a girl can dream.




Saturday, August 19, 2017

Reporting from the scene.

Children's choir. The dreaded children's choir planning meeting happened on Tuesday and it was a laugh fest. (And that's not even sarcasm). The theme of the concert is "peace." After we had a mostly full program a google search revealed "War what is it good for" as an option. While joking at first (as in hey do we know any good bari sax players), I actually made an arrangement combining it with "Get up, stand up" and a Shel Silverstein poem about a chicken who won't hatch for socio-political-environmental reasons. If it flies it will be amazing! I have to convince the coordinator that while protest songs may be controversial, they are indeed a part of our history and worthy of study.

School- I got my schedule this week. The number of times I am scheduled to see kids for music has gone from 2 times to one time a week. The number of recess duties I have has gone from 0 to 6 a week, the number of classes I will be monitoring while they do math at a computer went from 2 to 6. It is the most ridiculous waste of a music degree I have ever encountered. And I find it very difficult to believe that the 1/2 hour of screen time a week added to their schedule will raise math scores. It's a work in progress. Ugh.

High school music appreciation- for the win. The weird part is saying things and having kids write them down. The other weird part is how much I have to talk. The fun part has been their answers and ponderings. I've only met with them once but I feel good about what is to come.

So my favorite part of the whole thing is that at 9:30 am I was talking about truth and beauty to high school students and at 11:30 am I was helping a first grader learn how to pump his legs back so he could swing.

The reason I am able to post today is because it was Saturday number one of reclaiming some of my own time back. Cousin was used to shopping and lunch every Saturday which was fine when it's all aunt had to do in a given week. And when it was the only going out and about that cousin did. Now that both of those situations are changed, I have finally changed the shopping routine. We went at 8:30 am and I was home by 9:30.

There is now plenty of time for finishing sleeping in, food prep, laundry and some WiiU Zumba. In fact last week at this time I was just starting what I have already finished today.

The food plans for the weekend include making more oats and honey bars (the oats and nut ones were a little overwhelming), preparing some vegetarian chili, and making a Mexican "casserole" (more like a tortilla lasagne) with salsa, refried beans, and cheese. Light on the cheese, heavy on the beans.

The salad in a jar was an amazing success. One change to be made is to make sure the ingredients are plenty dry when they go into the jar. A little moisture can really horse things up.

And that's all the news that is the news. Stress level-3.5/10 which is pretty good.


Sunday, August 13, 2017


We just finished watching Ozark on Netflix.  It was all about decisions and how one decision effects the outcome of everything.

Last summer I made friends with zumba.

This summer we went on vacation.

While on vacation the family danced with WiiU dance game.

The boy and greathusbandbob played a few Mario games together.

The plans were made for the boy to come and stay with us.

In anticipation of the boy coming to stay with us I researched possible games that the two could play together while he was here.

In addition to finding a few, I also found a zumba WiiU game.

And so now I have done zumba every day but Friday for the last two weeks.  Monday and Thursday with grandparents from school and the other days in the basement.  While not as much fun as real life, it's just as sweaty.

Come to find it was a hella hard year

I went back a year in blog posts to see what my brain was like this time last year.  I travelled through the year on the blog and can only say it's been a hella hard year.  If we're talking fiscal calendar July-July, there has been six months of aunt illness with hip replacement and rehab, kidney cancer, bed bugs, and knee surgery for the dog.

While all that was happening I was also undergoing some intense and unpredictable negative menopause side effects and trying to sell aunt's house long distance.

And really, if you want to just gander back at the year before that you'll notice not very many blog posts at all because it was the aunt and cousin transition from there to here precipitated by me driving to there every weekend (or after every ambulance call)  culminating installing her in June, buying and renovating a house for cousin in July and moving her in October.

What. The. Hell.  I'm sure glad I don't have to go through this stuff alone.

In food news-

I steamed eggs to hard boil them and shorted them about 3 minutes and ended up with soft boiled eggs.  Ugh.  I cooked them some more but I don't know what the hot cold hot cold process is going to do to them.  Note to self.  If you're steaming eggs allow 3 minutes for the water to boil and 12 minutes for the actual cooking.

While there was some eating out this weekend, there was only a little bit of cheating and no sweets.  

We ate at the mexican restaurant on Saturday and the only cheat was the con queso dip on the shrimp.  Otherswise shrimp, rice, veggies and tortillas.

Saturday's steak salad had some delicious fries on it- usually in my head I wish there were more fries.  Saturday I was just glad there were fries.   

Here is the lunch plan for the week. ZumbaVickie says she had lettuce that lasted for two weeks when she sealed it in mason jars in the fridge.  I told her that I hope it works otherwise I have two lunches and 3 rabbit specials.

I found out that they sell carrots individually at my store.  Big carrots.  While convenient, those baby carrots mostly seem stupid to me.  They don't have a ton of taste, they aren't as good for you as real carrots and they would need a mason jar of their own (as long as they weren't already tired when you got them out of the bag.)

Additions to this include hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, grapes, some granny smith apples (I am still tempted to bake one of those)

I may defrost a soup or some black beans and rice to accompany it later in the week.

Dinner plans- tonight it will be fried eggs.  Tomorrow I will make mushroom stroganoff again.  That was so delicious.  I may have it with brown rice which is this weeks "try something new" food.

The first batch of granola bars were filling- maybe had a little too much flour.  The only calories in them came from 1/3 c coconut oil and 2/3 c honey. The rest of the ingredients were wheat flour, oatmeal and plain rice krispies.

The second batch looks to be more decadent.  Oats, honey, butter, brown sugar, almonds and cashews.  This one is refrigerated instead of baked. (though you do toast the oats and nuts prior to assembly- not sure why.)

It has some delicious potential but I'll be wary not to eat them as freely as the others as the calorie content is much higher.

It also comes as a "basic recipe" with suggestions for various add-ons.

Tomorrow is the long meeting day.  Dear Future Self, right now I feel a little anxious about the schedule, duties and high school class.  I am glad my life isn't as crazy as it has been in the past.  I am glad to be teaching only on my end of town and not having to drive to "the city."

And if you're able to read this next year (hopefully we will not all be blown away by nuclear fallout) I hope that the world outside yours is less volatile than it is right now.  I hope the haters in our country find a way to stop hating.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

No anxiety until things start.

Yesterday day this was in my email.


The above ideas were not my suggestion. I said let's hang out and explore the software at the same time. It's a small detail but when you're dealing with a coordinator with a borderline personality order it's crazy making.

This afternoon I headed to my campaign meeting. For the United way. Scheduled at 1:00 at location A. I arrived early at location A. Your meeting is at location B. There was an email. Um. No. Plenty of time to get there. But still. Do things right please..


When I get home I will taste these homemade honey oat granola bars


I'm going to have to practice not letting the little things drive me crazy.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Good deed for the day

The aunt got to the box store. She's the Dolly Parton impersonator in the rolly cart.


Pressing needs? Batteries (which I got her two weeks ago) foundation, eye shadow, a birthday card, a $5 box store necklace and some body lotion that she thought was shampoo. This was after we had to leave one- crowded because the students are back- box store for another on the other side of town because there were no rolly carts at the first one.

We did have a decent exchange afterwards.

This is a lot of work for you, you hate this don't you?

It's not my favorite thing.

You would like it better if it involved food.

No that's not it, it's just that I already do it every weekend with your daughter.

Ohhhhhh. Then there was a fleeting memory and knowing nod and she said "I'll give you my list from now on."

And then I offered up a ride in the car to get out of the building every now and then if that would make things more interesting for her.

The truth shall set you free. We'll see how well she remembers that.

Meanwhile, said cousin called today and said "my backpack is falling apart, are you doing anything today, can we go get one?" I said we'll do it on Saturday, took a Xanax and went to bed. She never minds when you say no. She doesn't get disappointed but there is always the guilt of having said no.

Food consumtion was harder today. Few options, no time to try something new. I stuck to it all. The white chili tastes much better after a few days. Zumbabettygave away some cucumbers on Monday so I sent her a note thanking her for lunch today.

What's interesting is that I've grown accustomed to feeling a little hungry. It's not the rumbling death rattle in my body that I used to think it was. If you're a little bit hungry and you're not addicted to sugary carbs, you can make it to the next healthy snack.

That being said, I'm going to have to pick up my find good snacks for work game. I get a little nibbly every two hours or so and there's a cabinet at school full of peanut m&m's and snicker bars. I'm going to try to make honey and oat granola bars tomorrow.

Did a half assed post nap version of WiiU Zumba but sometimes it's not how well you do it, just that you keep doing it. The scale says I've lost some weight and I've noticed that my hump (what hump? LOL) has receded. Not so pronounced. I look forward to misplacing some belly fat so the WiiU Zumba belt doesn't come unattached regularly.

Tonight's big adventure will be beating the garbage men at their own games. Alarm is set for 4:00 am. If they come earlier than that I'm going to load up the car and drop it off at THEIR house and let stray dogs tear it up.


Monday, August 07, 2017

Just skip it if you don't want to chat about my food...LOL

Item one- Zumba at the town hall tonight for about 75 minutes. It was the biggest crowd ever. 15 or so. And I have taken to clapping and cheering with and for everyone. Five of the women there were sisters. What is that even about? It blows my mind.

Item two- I made some meatless white chili. I forgot to buy great white northern beans but had white kidney beans and they worked. I was smart enough finally to recognize that the recipe was too big. It couldn't easily be halved so I just bought the ingredients and eyeballed it. It did not taste too bad but between you and me- I'm growing a little weary of beans.

Greathusbandbob doesn't understand how brown sugar works. If it's in a container in the refrigerator for longer than 2 weeks, it's time for it to go. So tonights plan to make a baked Granny Smith apple with oatmeal brown sugar and cinnamon fell through.

And finally just to demonstrate my willpower of late, this is what I had to move aside to make dinner tonight.


Donuts and cookies. He has at least refrained from buying any ice cream kinds of deliciousness.


Saturday, August 05, 2017

We do more than plan food around here, but not much.

First I have to put this out there. Greathusbandbob for whatever foibles he may have is truly the best when he sees it hit the fan. Other times he teases and often makes jokes that cause me to ask reply "funny to who?" But when you need him he is there.

Today's case in point. A visit to the Aunt. You never know how that's going to roll. Sometimes she's happy sometimes she's cranky mean. I think we get the cranky mean because she can't be that way to anyone else. Today's visit included complaining that we missed a weekend, complaining about not being taken to the store and teasing in a "funny to who" fashion about the time as kids when we slept on a major highway in sleeping bags on lounge chairs in ocean city while the adults got drunk in the camper. She also said she wanted to be reincarnated as our dog so she could go on vacation too.

On the way home greathusbandbob points to the reality of how much we do for her, how we have essentially adopted her adult mentally impaired daughter (to which she says "she's your problem now") and how if it weren't for us she would have been unhappy and/or dead in her home three years ago. So she can complain if she wants to but we are doing the best we can and still keeping sane. However it seems we'll be going to the box store next Sunday. It has to end badly before she'll see that it's not a practical venture.

Yesterday was take cousin shopping and to lunch day. Her doctor said diet. And said something about buffets and only taking a little bit. Cousin took that as taking a little bit of Every. Single. Thing. On the buffet. It was a mound of food the likes a grown man would eat. Pretty sure that's not what the doc meant but I pick the battles. On the other hand when she went back for dessert (it was a smallish buffet) she came back with this.


She's watching her weight.

I behaved myself, had a tossed salad, a small bowl of brown rice and two honey chicken strips the size of my pinkies. Sacrificing and saying no to both egg roll and crab Rangoon. For the past two years every Saturday has been a trip to the box store followed by lunch somewhere. The new plan once school starts is early Saturday shopping (8:30ish) it's a once a month out to dinner or so. I need to reclaim some of my time for knitting friend adventures and workshops and such.

My food today and yesterday followed the rules and there was 40 minutes of WiiU Zumba each day. It burns 600+ calories. Walking for the same amount of time burns maybe 100. I am drenched when it is over every time. That can't be bad.

In other projects. I don't think I'm a lego girl. After spending some initial time with it the novelty has worn off and at some point I'm going to find a good home to give it to.

Although anxious about the high school class I am at least a little prepared. This afternoon I gathered some thoughts about how to start the year with my elementary kids. Whereas the high school prep took the first seven Mondays of summer, the ideas gathered for the little ones are enough to roll with mostly because of the "old pro" factor.

I like to start the year with a theme and this year's will be mountains- and then you use the names of mountains as words by which to learn rhythms. My words are Matterhorn, Table Mountain, Spruce Knob, Mt Fuji and Bear(I needed a one syllable mountain- let me know if you think of a better one.). There is a Bear Mountain in upstate New York and also bears live in the mountains so there's that. The cool part of the theme is that I have actually been to the first three. Looks like I need to make a trip to Japan.

There is a giant crocheted afghan called Atlanticus. I started it on vacation. There are a total of 12 parts. I just started part 9. Here's a sneak peek. It will likely fit our king size bed at some point.


And a special thanks to kmkat, Suzanne and my mom for reading and commenting. Especially when it's so few and far between when I visit the blogs of the first two. I'd probably keep writing even if I felt like I was talking to myself but your comments mean a lot and Suzanne, if I can do it, so can you. 7% in a year works for me. Kmkat- when are you traveling this way? and mama, it was easier than a bunch of complaining venting texts. Have a good week all.


Thursday, August 03, 2017

Sorry about all the food posts but it does keep me motivated.

So today it was wild rice, green beans, total and soy milk, summer vegetable soup, salad, fried eggs and whole grain english muffins and a very berry smoothie.

This smoothie had blackberries, blueberries and strawberries in it- although you can't tell in the picture, it was a spectacular purple color.  What you couldn't taste was that it had half a bag of spinach in it which is about 14 calories but I believe added some bulk to it making it feel at least a little bit like ice cream- the thing I miss the most.  It felt ice cream enough for today.

Wild rice served as today's "filler." I had it with green beans (which came fresh from a zumba friend's garden) and I put some in the summer vegetable soup.  Speaking of that soup, a little lemon zest goes a long (very long) way.  I think the combined acid of the tomato brings out the lemon even more.  

I still have tomatoes, cucumbers, a red onion and a red pepper from the farmers market.  It was going to be a cold  soup (gazpacho as it were) with pureed tomato but that's a lot like the hot soup from yesterday.  I'm thinking that tomorrow I will just make a cucumber/tomato salad with some red wine vinegar and olive oil.  It will be delicious with cottage cheese.  It seems a waste to puree fresh garden tomatoes.  I'll have too much so I'll take some to the cousin who likely doesn't eat a whole lot of fresh vegetables.

So I had some ideas about other foods.  Barley is calling to me as is buckwheat flour.  I'm thinking I might be able to make some buckwheat cakes (like pancakes) to trick me into believing its a gluten-y carb.  Barley feels like a thick food and I have images of it sticking onto broccoli in some sort of mixture.  I'm going to have to give that more thought.

I found a seemingly easy recipe for granola so that is going on the "to try" list.

Let's talk about sugar and carbs.  I think I am getting plenty of sugar in the fruits I've been eating.  I did add a little equal to sweeten both of the smoothies.  I opted for that instead of trying to figure out what medjool dates are and how they work.

My body isn't demanding sweet sweet carbs (cookies cakes etc) as it was when I started this.  I look at them longingly knowing that "nothing tastes as good as healthy feels" and I can resist.  And let's just say that resisting is more than just not buying them.  Greathusbandbob always has a refrigerator full of baked goods for his evening treats.  It's partly what got me into this mess in the first place.

On the second to last Friday before school starts (tomorrow), I'm going to try clean out my car and put things together for the start of school.  There are some things in the secret basement room that came home with me two years ago that didn't make it back last year.  

I'm a little anxious about the new class at the high school.  I know I'll be a genius but I just want to know what I'm going to have to do to be that.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

On today's menu...

Summer Vegetable Soup
From the book-

Sroufe, Del. Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

So it begins-

A list of things that I had never done before today-

Bought vegetables at a farmer's market that I actually had a plan for

Cut fresh corn from the cob. (thank you google)- had I tried it on my own I would have just used a cutting board.  I cut the cobs in half, put them on the upside down bowl and was able to cut all the way down without danger.

Peel tomatoes. (thanks again google) I had no idea.  I scored a little x on the bottom, dropped them in boiling water for 20 seconds and moved them to a bowl of ice water.  Zip zip zip.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Speaking of lemon- I learned how to acquire and make use of lemon zest.- no pics of that.

The most important decision I made was to go with two pots.  This recipe clearly called for a bigger pot.  In the past I would have tried to stuff it all in and see what happens only later to have a mess.  Not this time.  It was a two pot venture.

The final product looks a little something like this-

Just as the last dish was washed, greathusbandbob came in.  He has no idea the chaos he missed.  That cracks me up a little.

In a huge fit of crack me up some more- he walked in and said "they gave me these two zucchinis if there's anything you can do with them."

The plan is to freeze most of the soup in individual ziplock bags and have it as an option for dinner.

In other news, what with the boy gone- he left yesterday- we have easy access to our tv again.  I tried out the wiiU zumba game.  It was a win. You wear a goofy wrestling belt with the controller tucked into it.  I got as much of a workout as I do on Mondays and Thursdays.

The Letter arrived today.  I'm so glad she waited until August to send it. We report back to work on August 14.  Students begin on August 17.  And so begins another year.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

More skinny food.

Total and soy milk

Brussel sprouts

Plums and cottage cheese

Mushroom stroganoff.


Posting because the mushroom stroganoff was amazing





New knowledge- there is more to life than white button mushrooms. Cremini, portobello and shiitake with garlic, pepper, Italian seasoning and sour cream over whole wheat noodles.

I made food that tasted really good. Such a rarity.