Thursday, April 25, 2013

I definitely did not drink enough coffee today.

What. A. Day.

Have you ever looked forward to a weekend so that you could relax and recover from a long and tedious week only to realize that you don't actually have a weekend because you are so busy?

That is the realization I just came too.

Tomorrow after work I have a date with my swiffer. Then I'm headed to Citi Field for the Mets game (woo go Mets!!!). Saturday morning will be swimming (cut short) immediately followed by round two of bridesmaids dress shopping. Sunday- lesson planning and mapping out the rest of my year.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Recipe: Easy Italian Wedding Soup

I happen to be one of those people who eats soup no matter the weather.  Freezing, chilly, warm, sunny, snowy, hot and humid... doesn't matter. I LOVE soup.  Since Mother Nature apparently didn't get cc'd on the Groundhog's memo, it was cold here for the end of April.  

I have to admit, this recipe is not the most complicated thing.  It is a little tedious, but the steps are not difficult.  Usually I prefer recipes with a little more depth, but I was tired after work today and que sera sera.

I also tried to remember to take pictures along the way.  Key word here is tried.

Ok. Step 1- Find a really cute apron especially if you are prone to spills/constantly misplace your dishtowel.

Cheesy and corny, yes I know.  Please ignore the dark circles and lack of make up.  Today was a very trying day in the 5th grade. We did a lot of math.  And I had a first period prep.  Although I did get to go to the ice cream party in the 4th grade because I did my homework. (Actually, I didn't do my homework. Oh well, too bad, so sad).

Step 2- Gather your ingredients.

1. Pasta (amount depends on how many servings you are making), I used 1/3 cup ditalini
2. Chicken broth (homemade or whatever you prefer. I happened to have some homemade leftover and some store brand leftover so I just combined what I had.)
3. Spinach.  If your local grocery store happens to have fresh spinach that looks good, by all means, get that.  If it looks soggy and gross, then do what I did and buy some frozen chopped spinach.  I really like spinach so I put about 1/4 cup into each serving of soup.
4. A combo of ground beef and ground pork (for the meatballs)
5. Breadcrumbs
6. An egg
7. Seasonings- kosher salt, fresh pepper, basil, oregano, parsley
8. Onion and garlic, finely minced and sautéed briefly in just a smidge of olive oil
9. A few drops of balsamic vinaigrette 

Basically what I do is start heating up the broth/stock in a pot on the stove while I am preparing the meatballs.  Turn it on to a really low simmer so the contents will be boiled just about when you start to cook the meatballs.

Step 3- Get dirty. Seriously. I know that raw meat scheeves some people out, so find gloves if you want.  Otherwise, just start mixing all your meatball ingredients together.

I went a little heavy on the breadcrumbs because I wasn't paying attention.  That's what I get for being debriefed about Game of Thrones while cooking. Oh well. My literary palate deserves just as much deliciousness in terms of books as my actual palate does food.

I made this batch of meatballs normal sized, forgetting that I was putting them in soup. (Again, Game of Thrones. Whatever.)  The second batch I made were much smaller- maybe about half a teaspoon.  However there is no picture of the teeny tiny little meatballs because my hands were covered and I wasn't about to touch my phone.

Into the non-stick fry pan you go!

Whoops, some got a little too brown.  This time it was because I was having a dance party in the kitchen.  Wooden spoons make great microphones.

By now your pot of soup should be boiled, dump in the macaroni, stir, set your timer, with a few minutes left toss in your spinach, taste, season, toss in a few meatballs, done!  I was so tired and ready to eat that I forgot to take a picture of my soup before I started eating.  

Oh, and I sprinkled some freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.  

Delicious.  This mug (compliments of my bff Allison) is my favorite mug ever and I use it for everything.  It is huge and holds an entire bowl of soup or about 2.5 cups of coffee. All of these things are necessary to my survival (bff, coffee, soup. In that order.)

I have a feeling that I will not be cooking tomorrow.  Depending on this ridiculous weather I will most likely just make some more soup.  Cooking today used up almost all of my spoons [See The Spoon Theory, an excellent analogy about living with chronic illness/disability], gardening took up a few more, blogging a few more... and I have a crazy early wake up call tomorrow.  

So on that note, I'm over and out.

30 Things: Day 9

Day 9: List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

Wow. 10 people? I'll try my best here, the following are in no particular order.

1. Mrs. Byrnes, my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Byrnes was by far the best teacher I've ever had. She instilled in me such a love for everything academic. I still fondly remember projects from her class, from building castles to reading the Hobbit (yes, we were smart and we read the Hobbit when we were 8 years old), to creating out very own Opera. I can still recite the poems she had us memorize every week, including but not limited to Jack Prelutsky, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She is everything I aspire to be as an educator. Plus she never yelled. And she had Big Deal Meal.

2. Mom, my always teacher. Does this one really need any explanation? My mom is everything I aspire to be as a mother and a daughter. She is the most non-judgemental, giving, understanding, patient, incredible person. She loves me unconditionally, even though I'm a brat who doesn't put her dishes in the dishwasher and leaves her laundry in the dryer. I'm so lucky to have her as a mom < 3

3. My cousin. This month marked the 3rd anniversary of my cousin's death and I miss her more every day. We weren't that close- there was an age and personality gap that sort of kept us apart. But she lived her life in such a way that she was more fulfilled in her brief 18 years on earth than some people could be even if they lived to be 180. She was a vivacious and incredible force and that lives on in our family and always will.

4. My baby sisters (who really aren't babies anymore, by any means). Though we may fight light cats and dogs one second and love each other the next, there is no doubt that these two knuckleheads have influenced my life. I'd do anything for them (even stay up all night to help them proof and edit their papers for school). I remember being in 4th grade, sitting in the library with my teacher and the rest of my class. My teacher asked us what the greatest gift our parents had ever given us was, and I said my sisters. And then started crying and had to leave the room until I calmed down, because it is so true and I have no idea what I would do without them. Oh bother, now I'm crying again.

5. My Grandma and my Uncle who have taught me the value of human nature, and how to never give up and to constantly give back to others. They have both been through a lot in their lifetimes, and I am lucky to be their granddaughter and niece.

6. All my students, ever. All 77 of them. As much as they drive me UP A WALL and never do their homework or stop talking, they've shown me the entire range of humanity even though they are less than a decade old. These tiny humans give me a reason to make this world a better place.

7. Not at all a positive influence, but a group of people who showed me everything I never want to be, hereby known as the Morons. Unfortunately these Morons are related to me, and their negativity, greed, pompous attitudes, condescending nature and embodiment of everything in this world that is evil is what proved to me that I have to always be a better person. At least in a few months I'll be rid of them forever and will never have to communicate with them. And of course, Karma will come and bite them in the ass. And if she doesn't then just wait until the next lifetime when I'm sure they will come back as the most despised creatures on this earth.

8. Amy Sherman Palladino and Dan Palladino Their creation, in the forms of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore have helped me forge undeniable friendships. That, and I wish I was Rory. In all seriousness, some of my fondest memories are hanging out with my friends and my roommate, lounging around, eating salad and watching Gilmore Girls.

9. I don't think I realized the influence of this person until fairly recently.  Today is A few days ago marked the anniversary of my dance teacher, Rachel's death.  Not only was Rachel the most incredible photographer, but also this unwavering spirit with unmatched passion.  She taught me how to follow through with a creative vision, even if it meant choreographing the week before our recital, or changing choreography three hours before nationals.  Rachel also tried to teach me to dance for myself, and no one else.  She understood the cattiness and incredible meanness of some of the other girls I danced with.  When they made fun of me, she told me that it didn't matter.  Of course, to my eleven year old self it did matter, a lot, but now when I look back- Rachel was what mattered.  Her love for dance that she so desperately tried to instill in all of her students was what mattered.

10. And last but not least, my friends, all of whom influence me on a regular basis.  Whether it is giving me book recommendations, eating dumplings with me, stopping in dunkin on the way to work/school, commiserating over drinks, adventuring around Disney, going to Mets and Jets games, pinching David Wright's butt, crocheting together, laughing together... the list could go on and on.  My friends mean a lot to me, even if they are all absolutely out of their minds. :)

Happy Earth Day :)

In honor of Earth Day (and the fact that my edemame seeds were just delivered today), my sister and I had bonding time! Even though it is freezing outside we ate italian ices (cherry for me and chocolate for her), and then made a huge mess in the middle of my living room.  A few things had to be replanted, so she helped with that, and then we planted a few new things.

Almost everything has been growing really nicely, save for two zucchini seeds.  We moved them to new pots so hopefully that helps.

I wanted to photo blog, but realized that I couldn't when my hands were covered with soil.  So my sister used her nose to take these pictures with her phone  :)

 Zucchini being replanted. Sort of looks like Randall from Monster's Inc...

Edemame all planted!

Cucumbers are growing quite nicely!

A zucchini in a dirt clod.  Hard to imagine that this little thing grows into such a delicious vegetable.

More Seeds!!!

I just got home from work and opened the mailbox... and my edemame seeds have arrived!!! More to plant :)

Have to take a quick trip to the store, this chilly weather has me in the mood for some homemade Italian Wedding Soup and I need some ingredients.

When I get back:
-An updated gardening post with my newly planted soybeans
-A recipe post for Italian Wedding Soup
-Day 9 of the 30 Days Challenge

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Procrastination means... SHOPPING!!

As is par for the course for a Sunday after a relaxing weekend before another tedious week of state testing, I find myself procrastinating writing my lesson plans.  What do I do when I procrastinate? Shop online, to my dismay.  Tonight it's okay, because I'm shopping for presents for other people and not for myself!

If anyone here is an online shopper, I really hope you are using ebates... Definitely worth the extra hassle of clicking through their site to shop.

The way it works: Sign up using the button below, search for your favorite stores through ebates, make a purchase, get a check from ebates.  Almost sounds too good to be true, but it is true! I was skeptical myself when a colleague first told me about ebates.  But if you are like me and find yourself ordering things with your free Amazon Prime student account often (bad habit, I know), then ebates should be your best friend.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
          Click me! Sign up!

Plus for every friend that you sign up who makes a purchase you earn extra cash.  Soooo everyone should sign up. And buy stuff. And help me fund my vacation :) Haha just kidding.  I think.

Adventures in gardening... continued!

The weather here today was decent- still not really warm though. I'm still waiting for Spring to arrive. I've had enough with this 50 degree weather. I want 70s! And summer. I dragged all my gardening stuff outside to give everything a good scrub. I got most of it ready. Everything except for this bench.

It was outside in the backyard of my uncle's neighbor's house and is absolutely filthy. I scrubbed and scrubbed and bleached and still- ew. What a mess. I'm thinking this is going to call for a can of paint and makeover plans. The two pots on the side are the perfect side for me to grow tomatoes and edemame. I think I need to invest in some cushions for the top.

You know what this means... a trip to the craft store! What do you guys think? A couple coats of paint, or just leave it be?

30 Things: Day 8

I started this 30 day challenge on July 16th, 2012.  I must get my proverbial writing butt in gear and finish this, seeing as it is already April 21, 2013.

Day 8: What are 5 passions you have?

Hmm. Well let's see. If you define passion as an uncontrollable emotion, then number one on this list would definitely be...


Ha. Maybe not number one, but definitely up there.  I mean, come on, who would honestly say that they don't like to eat?

I'm reverting back to my gold personality and making a lot of lists lately (can you tell I'm on the edge?? My fellow student leaders from Iona will understand).  So 5 passions, in no particular order:

Number 1- Laughing.  Especially with my friends... the good kind of laughing where you can't stop, even to catch your breath, especially when tears of joy are running down your face.  See The Endangered Dan Sheridan.

Number 2- Traveling. I'm constantly amazed by the amount of knowledge there is in the world and how there is so much to explore... My Grandma took me on a trip to Italy for my college graduation and since then I've been bitten by the travel bug. I want to go EVERYWHERE.  And I want to eat and laugh and learn and explore and take pictures while I'm there (wherever there is).

Number 3- Photography.  See above... My mom has always kept our pictures in albums, stacked side by side in our living room.  Every year of our lives forever immortalized in those binders.  The idea that a photograph can preserve a life like that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Plus I love my camera.

Number 4- Teaching.  My real passion is teaching early childhood ESL, but I suppose teaching of any kind is fine by me.  There's just something about kids understanding that the world is so much bigger than they are and that you couldn't possibly learn everything there is to learn even if you had a hundred lifetimes (I suppose this is when it comes in handy to be Edward Cullen or some variation thereof).  It also helps that I have had countless teachers who were truly passionate about what they did, even if they taught Latin and drove me crazy for two years in high school.  That kind of passion isn't something you forget and I hope that my students remember me in that way.

Number 4.5- Exercising

Number 5- I wasn't really sure what I was going to put down here.  I bounced a few ideas around but ultimately I think that the last passion on this list is going to be creating.  Growing vegetables, creating wonder for my students, crocheting, writing, cooking... So I guess taking something and molding it into something new.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

30 Things: Day 7

Edited from the summer, posting now!

Day 7: What is your dream job, and why?

I honestly don't know what my dream job is because I haven't had nearly enough experience doing any of the things I love to do. 

I want to be a teacher. An effective teacher, a respected teacher.  Not what I am now, which is stressed out and unhappy.

I want to be a photographer. I love capturing moments in people's lives that they can look back on and smile wistfully.  I've grown up in a family where pictures are so important.  Grandma called our school portraits "mouse traps" when we were younger, which of course would make us giggle hysterically.  Her house is covered in pictures and I love it.

I want to plan weddings.  I want to cook for people. I want to be a mother. I want to work with baby animals in a zoo.

All I've ever wanted in my life is to help people.  Not save people, because as the fabulous Abigail Disney said, "helping is humble. Saving is arrogant." I could read her commencement address to my graduating class every single day and never grow tired of it.

I've been given so much in my life that I feel this undeniable need to give back.  Maybe it is just the neophyte teacher in me, but I still think I can change someone's world.  Though knowing me, if I did manage to change someone's world for the better I still wouldn't be satisfied because I'm just that kind of person.  I know I can't change the entire world, but I'd like to think that I can change the part of it that I live in.

Er, so maybe my dream job is to just be a teacher.  Preferably in kindergarten, but I'll take what I can get.

30 Things: Day 6

I started the 30 Days challenge last summer and never finished.  So I suppose I'll pick up where I left off, since I'm not a quitter.

Day 6: What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

The first thing that immediately comes to mind is getting sick with Wegener's.  But the more that I think about it, it wasn't the actual disease that was the hardest thing.  It's been dealing with the fall out.  There have been plenty of terrible experiences in my life.  WG, losing my cousin, the D.D. (Dad Debacle), struggling to love my job...

Wait.  Now I'm all confused.  Maybe it isn't just one singular experience that I can definitively say was the absolute hardest thing I've ever dealt with.  The culmination of all these things is definitely the hardest thing.  The hell with you, brain.

I've always had a "life plan".  I knew what I wanted, I knew when I wanted it to happen, and I knew what I wanted to be (happy).  There was an all encompassing definition of happy and plenty of criteria that had to be met in order for me to achieve that "happiness".  There isn't much I can say with any certainty anymore, but what I can say is that I love Mumford and Sons.

Just kidding.  I do love them (just a smidge late to that bandwagon.)  In all seriousness, I'm not really sure that I am happy.  I know that I can't keep this rigid list of criteria, but they are always in the back of my mind.  Yes, I'm teaching, but not the population I wanted nor the grade I wanted.  Yes, I'm approaching being healthy, but it took a lot of stress and hours hooked up to IVs to get there.  Yes, I have some of the greatest friends I could ever ask for, but there's still something missing.

Ok.  So what I guess I'm trying to say is that the hardest thing I've ever experienced is my quest for happiness despite facing sometimes insurmountable adversity while attempting to remain graceful and humble and appreciating what I have even though I want so much more than I've got. Yay, looks like it is time for the next existential crisis... except this one gets to be dubbed the quarter life crisis!

Book Challenge #3

Book Challenge #3

Every year I issue myself a challenge to find some excellent novels and then put them in one massive list on this blog that no one reads!  As always a huge nod to my best friend and her Kindle account.  Thanks Liv!!! :)

Another huge nod to another friend who gave me two new book recommendations today (in addition to Game of Thrones).  Before I read one of them I need to re-read The Alienist by Caleb Carr (phenomenal story, I highly recommend it).

Here's the first bit.

Currently Reading:
Game of Thrones by George Martin ( This came highly recommended, I hope it lives up to its potential!)


  1. The Fault in Our Stars- John Green (Holy baby Jesus, what a fantastic novel. I definitely need to read more John Green.)
  2. Sad Desk Salad- Jessica Grose (decent chick lit.)
  3. The Runaway Princess- Hester Browne (Princess Diaries for the generation that grew up with the original Princess Diaries, decent chick lit.)
  4. Messy- Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan  (bad chick lit.)
  5. Spoiled- Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan  (bad chick lit.)
  6. Hopeless- Colleen Hoover (Features the best non-first kiss scene ever written.)
  7. The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd (Most excellent.)
  8. Annabel- Lauren Oliver- (Novella in the Delirium series)
  9. Free Four- Veronica Roth (Novella in the Divergent series)
  10. Struck by Lightning- Chris Colfer (The ending sucked.  I understand that this is a screenplay turned novella, but my god, what is with writers these days taking the easy way out of ending a novel?)
  11. Thirteen Reasons Why- Jay Asher (Way creepy. Kinda freaked me out.)
  12. School of Fortune- Amanda Brown and Janice Weber (A long piece of semi-decent chick lit)
  13. I've Got Your Number- Sophie Kinsella (I love Sophie Kinsella. So much fun to read)
  14. From Notting Hill with Love Actually- Ali McNamara (Cute chick lit)
  15. Reached- Alli Condi  (I had high hopes for this conclusion novel of the Matched trilogy... but it fell short.  Way, way, WAY short.)
  16. Southern Charm- Tinsley Mortimer (Cute chick lit)
  17. What's Your Number- Karyn Bosnak (bad chick lit)
  18. Hana- Lauren Oliver
  19. Pandemonium- Lauren Oliver
  20. Delirium- Lauren Oliver
  21. Requiem- Lauren Oliver (The end of this trilogy was a COPOUT and I DEMAND a better ending.  That is all.)
  22. The Host- Stephanie Meyer (Definitely more interesting than Twilight.  Not sure if I really loved it, but it made me think a little and that's always a good thing.)
  23. Star Island- Carl Hiaasen- (mindless chick lit.)
  24. Cum Laude- Cecily von Ziegesar (I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about.  Too many characters, not enough character development, so cliche, and the plot sucked.)
  25. Warm Bodies- Isaac Marion (Um, I didn't know this was about zombies. I read it anyway, but seriously, who thinks up this stuff???)
  26. Here I Go Again- Jen Lancaster (chick lit.)

Wannabe farmer!

I am rapidly approaching my quarter life crisis... and in order to fully avoid any of the introspection that will happen with said crisis, here I am.

I'm growing things.

I've never successfully kept a plant alive (not even a cactus), so we will see how well this goes.  I eat so much produce during the summer that I figured I might as well try to grow some of my own stuff.  The tricky part is that everything will be growing in containers in the backyard- I can't plant in the front because of all the hundreds of tulip and daffodil and iris bulbs.  

A quick trip to Home Depot sent me home with 6 huge bags of potting soil, 50 seed starters, 4 packs of seeds and some plastic containers.  I have a few more plants in the works, but I'm waiting on seeds.  Sunday (4/14) was such a nice day Mom and I took our projects outside to work on them.  She's restoring an antique table, and I'm being hungry.

In go the bush beans!

The round containers have marigolds, I am thinking about growing cherry tomatoes (not that I eat them), so I figured I'd start the marigolds since I won't be growing the tomatoes from seeds.  Ain't nobody (read: me) got the patience for that.

As of Wednesday (4/17).... We have a sprout! Bush beans are loving their little squares and are coming along quite nicely.  Still no sign of the cucumbers or zucchini...

I seriously hope that this works.  I am so discouraged by all this Monsanto and GMO nonsense that I want to eat my own vegetables that aren't covered in pesticides or wax.  I've been doing plenty of googling to make sure I'm giving these seeds what they need.  I am even talking to them... Next up to be planted are the edemamme seeds.  The next warm day that we have I will be scrubbing and bleaching this potted bench thing that my mom brought home for me.  It was in my uncle's backyard and needs a serious wash.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!