Wednesday, March 31, 2010

worms (baaaaaarf)

If I could stomach it, I would have photographed today's blog topic (because let's be honest, we all love a post with photos), but I just couldn't do it this time. I had lots of subjects that I could have taken pictures of, but there's no way. Just wasn't possible.

My friends and family know this about me, and I figured it's time to share it on the ol' blog.

I have a major worm phobia. The precise name for this disorder of mine would be Scoleciphobia.

And the problem with this fear is that every year around this time, it begins to rain a lot. And every time it rains, worms take over my sidewalks and streets. They are everywhere. Slimy, creepy, and trying to kill me. And there's even a smell that goes with it. There's a difference in the smell of a rain with no worms and a rain where the worms become the rulers of the sidewalks.

This fear developed as a child, but really took over in college when I had to walk everywhere. I'd be lying if I said I never skipped a class because of worms on the sidewalk.

And what might be even worse than the slimy worms on rainy days (I am gagging as I type this), is the day after when the sun comes out and the worms dry up and crunchy and waiting to be stepped on outside.


I spend pretty much all of March through May with my eyes glued to the pavement when I am outside because the idea of stepping on these things (dried up or in the rain) makes me crazy to think about. But it's a horrible cycle, because if I am looking at the ground, that means I have to look at them, which in turns make me want to puke. It's really a terrible problem. I hate stepping on them, because I then imagine them being tracked into my house. Because of this, I beg my poor husband to watch where he walks outside. He puts up with a lot.

So now that you all probably think I'm nuts (which I am, it's okay, I know it), please let me know if you live in a part of the country that doesn't experience "rain worms" the way we do in Virginia. I'm in the market for a wormless new neighborhood!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh happy day!

What a wonderful day.

I got to have lunch out today at work. This is the second year our principal has allowed the teachers a day to go out to lunch, and she finds coverage for our class for an hour. Today my team got to go, and we enjoyed a quick but wonderful lunch away at Baker's Crust. It's amazing how nice it is to get away for a full hour. If only we could do that everyday! Sadly, I'll continue to scarf down my lunch in my allotted twenty six minutes each day.

After coming back to school, I just had the best afternoon. I try not to blog too much about the specifics of my job on here, but I will say that a lot of hard work is paying off in many areas, and it just feels wonderful. I love being noticed for my effort, and even more, I love seeing my hard work pay off in the students.

So life is good. I whine so much about my job, but today was really a good one.

Oh, and did I mention that I tried a new recipe for dinner? Tonight was Cilantro Lime Shrimp served over brown rice and these fabulous Cuban black beans from Trader Joe's.

If I had thought of it, I would have taken a picture of the shrimp, but you'll just have to trust me. This is a meal worth making! And it's fairly healthy.

Here's hoping that my last three days before spring break go as smoothly as today did.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Tell them how I'm defyyyyyying gravity"

This past weekend, I drove to Richmond to spend the weekend with my family. As always, it was lovely, but this trip was especially lovely as I got to see Wicked with my mom and little brother.

And just like it was when I saw it in May, it was amaaaaaaaazing. I love all musicals, but this is one I'd see again and again and again. I already sing my way through the soundtrack 15 times a week. And yes, each time I sing along, I totally picture myself as Elpheba. It's a total dream of mine!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

rather squirrelly

Things have been rather boring in my life lately, and blog topics seem to be non existent. While looking through my iPhoto tonight, I found these pictures and chuckled. I can't believe I never blogged about it.

On our honeymoon to Oregon back in 2008, we spent five days at the coast, and then two days in Portland. We arrived in Portland on a Friday morning with a lunch packed for a picnic at the Portland Rose Garden...

This would be me looking creepily excited at our little picnic. Look at my dark hair. Makes me want to cancel my appointment for a highlights touch up on Saturday.

Anyhow, this post isn't about my hair.

While enjoying my sandwich, this little guy came to join us...

Not too odd. I have seen thousands of squirrels in my lifetime, but it all got a little strange when he hopped on the table.

This little guy was clearly no stranger to picnics. I could see that he wanted to be my friend. And by "be my friend", I really just mean he wanted into my bag of Lays.

After awhile, I began to give into him. I think we were having a conversation here.

After that, I was pretty much smitten...

So smitten, in fact, that I gave in and gave the guy a chip. As I look back now, I can't really see what I saw in him. He was a freaking squirrel, for crying out loud. A suburban rodent!

Not only did he eat the chips, he ate them right out of our hands. He was way too comfortable around humans.

I laugh when looking at these, not only because we fed a squirrel right out of the palm of our hands, but I laugh because this was on our honeymoon. Most people's honeymoons were spent by white sands and a crystal ocean, yet ours was in the northwest feeding trout and squirrels, and I wouldn't have had it any other way!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

gardening...80's style

Long before we moved to our house, long before I even lived with my husband, I knew about his plans to garden one day in his future. Not long after moving into our home with a yard (!!!) in December, he ordered this book...I may have made fun of him for buying a book from 1981. Here are his thoughts on the book...
"I'm using the Square Foot Gardening method, which is methodical, rational, precise, patterned. What else could an engineer ask for?"

Turns out though, this book may be filling my table with fresh veggies and herbs all summer. I guess I shouldn't make fun of him.

After ordering the book he then ordered seeds. I suppose he could have waited til spring and bought them at a local store, but he began this whole process back in January when no one had seeds for sale.

The seeds above are onions. If I remember correctly, he's growing two types of onions. Which is a-okay with me, as I sort of include onions in everything. Onions and garlic have short lives in our kitchen. In addition to onions, he has some potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, lettuce, and herbs he's planning on growing. He's an ambitious gardener.

On Saturday, it was a beautiful 78 degrees in southeast Virginia, and, while I sat in the yard with the dog and got a sun burn, my husband worked hard to clean out this old garden box from the previous owners. It's 16x4 feet, and well built. And it gets buckets of sunlight. Sunlight that also makes for a good sunburn on your shoulders.

It really is one of our favorite parts of this house. We weren't looking for a house with a gardening box, but this just happens to be a major perk. However, it needed a lot of work. It was way overgrown, and quite frankly, it was a mess. So I let my husband get to work as I continued to sit around with a book. He's a pretty cute gardener.

Once the box was cleaned out (which was a big task), he was able to build the square foot boxes....

And then some seeds were planted. Many little, teeny, tiny seeds that will become veggies on my plates. Hopefully.

However, even if the garden doesn't grow, take a look at the cilantro he's growing inside in our kitchen window. It's well on its way to becoming part of my next batch of pico de gallo.

If you are a gardener, feel free to share any tips! We are, or I should just say he is, clearly a novice. If you have a green thumb, share away!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Your husband will love you more...

...if you make these biscuits.

You neeeeeeed to make these. Next time you need a little side for a meal, these are your friend! The recipe was really simple, and way better than instant biscuits. I ate two with dinner, and J ate about 5.

Here's a quick snapshot of some of the ingredients. Buttermilk included!

Hmmm...I just noticed that you can see my legs in the mixing bowl. I had been running before I came back to cook.

In just a few minutes in the oven, this dough....

...will become this...

Simply delicious. You need to add the ingredients to your grocery list NOW and try them this weekend!

I found the recipe on Food Gawker, and it was linked to FG from Two Peas and their Pod. Here's the recipe link. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

grapefruits and my great grandmother

When I was a little girl, I would eat grapefruits at my great grandmother's house in Pennsylvania. She'd pull out the sugar jar and I'd coat mine in sugar. Then I'd dig in with my serrated spoon.

I still buy grapefruit, I still eat them with (just a little bit of) sugar, and I even have the spoon. And one of the main reasons I love them is because it makes me think of my great grandma.

Along with homemade pizza. When we'd go visit when I was little girl, she'd make us pizza from scratch at nine pm if we told her we were hungry. My sister and I would pretty much do this on every trip, because we knew my mother would tell her we didn't need it, but she'd make it for us anyway.

Or ladyfingers. Quite possibly the greatest pastry I've ever had. She made the best. THE best. Her's were actually better than the wikipedia description, because they had a sugary, cream filling.

And my crotched afghan from her. It's dirty and gross and a blend of awful colors. But I could never get rid of it. None of my other blankets compare.

Bath salts. When I smell them, I think of her guest bathroom which was full of fancy bath "stuff". We just had generic bubble bath at my house, so taking a bath in her bathroom was a special treat.

And sometimes when I catch Wheel of Fortune in the evening, she comes to mind, as I have many memories of her watching it.


I miss you Grandma Phillips and Grandpap.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

La Petite Maison

This would be a little piece of our driveway...

Doesn't that make you smile? Every time I step out of my car after a long day, I smile when I see this and think of how happy my "little house" makes me. New homes are fabulous, but I love the charm of our little old house!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our "Fitness" Area

One of the best parts of our new house is the fact that it has a garage. We live in an older neighborhood and we're one of the rare houses on our block that has an attached garage. When we found this place, we were thrilled to have so much storage space. In our old apartment, a lot of "stuff" just got piled in the guest room.

We also laugh, because the people who were trying to rent out this house advertised the garage as the "fitness room". I suppose you could put a treadmill in here? Not quite sure why they didn't just call it a garage.

Back in December when we moved in, we sort of threw stuff in the garage, and we've been digging through it since then. There was no organization, no room to walk, and it was filthy...

A mess, right?

This past Saturday, we made it our mission to get this place fixed up. We don't want to park a car in it (the door is not automatic), but we did want to have room to walk, and a place to leave the dog during the day. Or hey, maybe we could put a weight machine in here? Off to Target we went for a some shelves...

I helped a little bit...but J did most the work when it came to building the shelves.

After several hours of shelf building, sweeping, and box moving, we now have this....

Amazing difference, right? And then we tried this just for fun...

I love the built in closet we have out here. It currently houses are luggage and our cleaning supplies.

And I love having a home for my stash of reusable bags! Before they were crumpled up in a corner.

We still walk in the garage and we're giddy by all the space and how easy it is to find stuff! It feels so good to have accomplished a big task like that and to be able to check it off the to do list!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spaghetti A la Rachel

Earlier this week, I tried a new recipe, pretty much from my own head. This was a brave step for me! I cook all the time, but it's rare that I make up my own recipe. I was inspired by one of our favorite restaurants in Richmond, Joe's Inn. This was where we went on our first date back in 2004, and when we go back to visit family or friends in Richmond, we still enjoy eating here.

One of the best meals on the menu at Joe's is the Spaghetti A la Joe and Spaghetti A la Greek. When I tweeted about it on Tuesday evening, a few of my twitter pals asked for the recipe. This is my take at creating my own baked spaghetti dish. It was very good, but it wasn't perfect, so at the end I'll write changes I plan to make next time...

Awesome Sauce (I found this recipe on my friend Anna's blog and I jazzed it up just a tad):
1 28oz can of whole tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
5 Tablespoons of butter - a very necessary ingredient! Don't leave it out.
1 med onion, peeled and halved
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 T garlic powder
1 t dried oregano

Stick all the ingredients in a sauce pan and let simmer for 45 mins or so. Take the onion out and you're ready to serve.

Spaghetti A la Rachel:
spaghetti noodles (I used thin spaghetti)
awesome sauce (see above)
1 package Feta cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup shredded Pecorino Romano
1 cup Ricotta Cheese (I used fat free)

Preheat oven to 400. Cook spaghetti noodles according to package. Drain noodles and add to large bowl. Mix noodles with sauce, then mix in ricotta cheese. Slowly mix in 1 cup of Mozzarella, 1/2 the package of feta, and 1/2 cup of the Pecorino Romano. Pour the contents of bowl into a 9x13 casserole dish. Cover the top with the remaining Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, and some of the feta (I did about half of what I had left in the package). Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Take foil off and move to broiler for 4 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

If I made this again, I might use Provolone instead of Mozzarella, only because when I visited the Joe's website this morning, I noticed on their menu that they do that. Simple change.

I'd also use only about 3/4 of the spaghetti in the package, or I'd make more sauce. It was just a little too dry for my liking. J didn't seem to mind though.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Last 5 Years

Fun little fact for you all: turns out that this is my 400th post.

Now onto more important things, like musicals!

I believe I've talked about this before on my blog, but I don't mind bringing it up again. Since I was a little girl, I have always loved musicals. In middle school, I'd ask for season tickets for the national tour of Broadway shows to visit our city. I knew all the words to The Sound of Music and Annie. I had big dreams of belting my heart out on stage one day.

While I did grow up to be a showchoir queen, I went to college and became an elementary school teacher. No Broadway for me. However, in my first two hours of college life, I met a girl on my hall, Lyndsey, who was attending my college to earn a BFA in musical theater. She quickly became my bff as she told me about all the shows she had been in, and once I heard her sing, I just about died. She was destined to do great things*.

Once of the perks of being Lyndsey's friend, was the fact that she owned more musical soundtracks than I could even hold in one CD book. She introduced me to many a musicals, but the one I fell in love with the most, would hands down be this show: The Last Five Years.

This was an Off Broadway show starring Sherie Renee Scott (you might know her as Amneris from the OBC of Aida) and Norbert Leo Butz (Fiyero from the OBC of Wicked!). It is a love story about Jamie and Cathy. The show begins with Cathy at the end of their relationship, followed by a song by Jamie who is starting after their first date. As the story evolves, Cathy moves backwards in time, while Jamie is moving forward. It is such a beautiful show. You can listen to the whole soundtrack here (thanks youtube!)

Most of you probably skipped this post, but for the few of you who happen to be Broadway junkies like myself, give it a listen! I love it. "Still Hurting" and "I Can Do Better Than That" are my personal favorites. Here's the album on iTunes.

*Lyndsey and I don't keep in touch now other than facebook, but I am happy to report that she's doing great things. She was in the Chicago and San Francisco casts of Jersey Boys, and now she's traveling with Mamma Mia.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

family time

When I was in fifth grade, my brother was born. It was a snowy Friday in March, which is a bit rare for Virginia at that time of the year. I remember playing at a friend's house that afternoon (3 weeks before my mom's due date), when my mom and dad showed up to say that she was in labor and I'd be staying the night at this friend's house. I woke up the next morning with a baby brother.

Last week that brother celebrated his 15th birthday. I am still having a hard time figuring out when he became a teenager. It's pretty crazy to me.

On Saturday, he and my parents came down for a birthday visit. We went out for pizza, followed by ice cream sundaes at my favorite drive in. On top of all that, it was a gorgeous day. I love my family, and I feel so lucky to be just two hours from them! Well, most of them. My little sis who is living in NYC isn't quite so close. We missed ya, Linds!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the joys of teaching...

I typed up a whole post earlier about how draining my job is, and how I sometimes contemplate whether or not public education is the right fit for me.

And then I thought that maybe I shouldn't post it. Partially because it's the internet, and you never who is reading, and partially because I don't like adding negativity to the lives of others. And really, who wants to read another whiny blog?

Although I have my "issues" with my job right now, there are still things I love. Shall I share with you?

1. Being the nerd that I am, I get a thrill out of designing lessons for the computer lab.

2. I know more about Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift than most 26 year olds thanks to the girls in my class. In fact, today I edited a paper on what makes Miley and Taylor different.

3. I also read a paper today comparing dogs and cats and it began with "If there were no dogs, cats would definitely rule the world..."

4. Even on bad hair days, someone always tells me I look pretty. Little kids are kind like that, and really know how to boost my self esteem.

5. Our cafeteria makes some fabulous corn dog nuggets (my extremely guilty pleasure food, but I'm all about being honest on here).

6. Each day I get to share my love of reading with 23 other (little) people.

7. When I play Bunco with my coworkers, my 63 year old mentor teacher always drinks more than anyone else. This always leads to a fun time.

8. I have a killer colored felt tip pen collection. I am proud to say I never grade with red ballpoints!

9. I get to wear my tennis shoes on Fridays.

10. When I am out for a day, I come back to 23 little people who are thrilled to see me. They act like they haven't seen me in years.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wishful Wednesday - Olympics!

So, I must admit, I've been reading Kelsey's blog for awhile, and I love all of her WW posts, but I've never participated in one. Not anymore! When I read this week's topic, I knew I had to participate!

'I wish' .... I could have gone to the 2010 Winter Olympics to see one event, and it would have been the men's 1500m short track!

Some of you may already know thanks to older blog posts and from my twitter, how much I love and respect Apolo Ohno. I think he is serious athlete, who is incredibly talented at what he does. I've watched him in all three of his Olympics, and in '02, '06, and again in '10, I have been nothing but amazed by his talent and grace. I think Apolo (along with almost all of the Olympic athletes) is an excellent role model for children. His dedication and hard work are something that I would love to see a few of my students pick up on.

The 1500m was probably my favorite race of his this year, as this was the one where he won the silver right at the last second when two of the Koreans went down. My heart raced through this event as I sat on my couch.

But I really would have been happy to see him in any of his races! In fact, I would have loved to have been there for any of the short track's or women's. Watching Katherine Reutter win her silver in the women's 1000m was another highlight for me!

Now that you all know what an Olympic nerd I am, I think it's fair to say that I am very sad to see The Olympics end. While I prefer the winter games, I'm already getting excited for London 2012! J's already talking about going to Sochi in 2014...he's quite the curling fan! I wouldn't complain too much if we made the trip. We'll see!

To play along, go here and add your post!

Photo Source 1 and 2 and 3

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

a little ridiculous

Sometimes while I am cooking, I take absurd pictures. Because I think you all, my loyal readers, want to see me working hard in the kitchen. Or I just like showing off new kitchen tools, like this fancy new wooden pan spatula (seriously, one of my top 5 items in my kitchen).

Too bad my photos are off center. But you get the idea. I love my new pan spatula. The old one was getting a little gross, and the wood was splitting down the middle. This picture pretty much just shouts, "Ooooooh! Look at me and my fancy new wooden pan spatula!" I wrong?

Monday, March 1, 2010

welcome march

Hello March! We kicked you off with some homemade guacamole tonight. It was a nice way to start the month...

While February really did turn out to be a wonderful 28 days, I have high expectations for you. I'm hoping for hints of warmer weather. A few family visits. A trip to see Wicked (!!!). Finishing a few books. Maybe even an afternoon that's nice enough to visit the oceanfront for a walk with the dog. I'd like that.

There are a few things that will make you not so fun. Like the 20 extra minutes being added to the school day this month to make up for our snow days. That isn't so fun. But I'll make do. Spring Break is not too far away.