Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What's for dinner? (III)

These are the most amazing vegan stuffed shells ever.  Seriously.  If you need proof Andy ate them.  EVEN AFTER I TOLD HIM THEY HAD TOFU IN THEM.  And he said they were good.  And he ate seconds. And he took leftovers for lunch the next day.

You would never know they had tofu in them.  I don't have an intense hatred of all things tofu as Andy does, so that's not necessarily a deterrent for me, but I do like real cheese.  Generally I find vegan things that try to imitate cheese fail.  This one succeeded in a major way.

Vegan Stuffed Shells

This recipe comes from the Chloe's Kitchen cookbook, but you can check out her website here, and there are some similar recipes available for free.  If you ask me, this cookbook is worth it.  I have only made one recipe from it that was not well liked.  One.  Not bad.  The majority of the cookbooks I purchase I make one recipe from, and it turns out ok.  Then the book just ends up collecting dust on the bookshelf.  This one is in my kitchen and covered in food stains, because it's awesome.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Miss, what color are your pants?"

For the record this conversation actually happened:

Student:  Miss, I have a question.
Me: Yes?
S:  It's going to sound really stupid.
Me:  There's no such thing as a stupid question.
S:  Ok . . . um, Miss, what color are your pants?
Me:  What?
S:  Like, they're not red, but not brown either . . .
Me:  They're maroon.
S:  What's that?
Me:  A color.  It's what color these pants are.
S:  No, that's not a color.
Me:  It is, do you want to look it up in the dictionary.
S:  No Miss.  I guess I believe you.

Outfit 9.20.12

I'm Wearing:
Jacket - Charlotte Russe
T-Shirt - JCrew
Pants - New York & Company
Boots - Clarks

I'm standing kind of funny because I splattered coffee all over the right side of my body.  Hopefully it will come out.  If not this jacket is at least half the age of my students so I wouldn't be devastated if it met it's demise due to beverage stains.

What is your most bizarre colored piece of clothing?  Do people comment when you wear it?  I didn't consider these pants to be that out of the ordinary, but they gave me an opportunity to teach something other than history to my students.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What's for Dinner? (II)

Like every other blogger/human out there it seems I am eagerly anticipating fall weather.  I feel sorry for people that don't live somewhere with seasons.  There are many things I look forward to about fall, one of those things is food.

Now don't get me wrong, I love pumpkins and pumpkin based foods.  However, when you are sick of all the fall pumpkin foods and want some real good comfort food for a lazy night hanging around home watching netflix this is what you should make.  If you're not sick of pumpkin stuff I bet this would go awesome with a pumpkin beer . . .

Chickpea and Dumpling Soup

The Chickpea and Dumpling Soup recipe from Peas and Thank You has to be the epitome of comfort food. It totally tastes like something my grandmother would make.  The broth is flavorful and the texture of the dumplings is perfect.  Your kitchen will smell divine when you're cooking it.

I did think this fell a bit short in the soup department though.  The recipe only recommends 4 cups of vegetable stock.  I put in an extra cup of water just because I wanted to thin out the veggie stock flavor a bit.  Even with the extra cup the soup to dumpling ratio seemed a bit off.  We ended up with some extra dumplings we tossed because we didn't have enough soup to go with them.  I think next time I'd do an additional 4 cups of water and just double the seasoning suggestions (again I'm not a big fan of the taste of vegetable stock/broth, you could easily do more stock if you wanted).

Despite a liquid shortage I'll definitely be making this again.  I predict this becoming a weekly meal once the winter hits.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend Highlights II

This weekend my parents came down to visit.  They're looking into moving closer to us, so Andy and I got to tag along while they looked at some houses.  We were fortunate that the weather was so nice.  It was a perfect fall weekend, so we brought them to visit one of our favorite places, Newburyport.

Newburyport w/ Andy

Newburyport w/ Mom & Dad

When we weren't out and about my parents thoroughly spoiled Thor.  He got a whole bunch of treats, presents, and non-stop attention.  He was pretty bummed out when they left.

Thor under the coffee table.

It was the perfect weekend following my first full week of school.  It's actually starting to feel like fall.  I felt like I couldn't get my head in the game for this school year because it still felt like summer.  Now that it's getting chillier out I feel even more excited for this school year . . . and wearing my boots with tights . . .

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Opulent Raglan in Progress

At the beginning of the summer I started making a heavily cabled sweater from a pattern in Interweave magazine.  I had ordered a bunch of pink Wool of the Andes with the intention of making some kind of pullover, because I don't have any hand knit sweaters in that color.  I messed around with the gauge and sizing and began making this beautifully patterned sweater.

Dickinson Pullover in Progress

Although the cable pattern looked awesome something just didn't feel right about it.  I don't know if it was that I had altered the gauge/sizing from the original pattern, or that the pink was just too bold for a heavily cabled sweater, but I put the project on hold.

While poking around a bookstore I came across The Best of Knitscene and saw the Opulent Raglan pattern.  I instantly knew it would be perfect for the pink yarn.  The pattern is so simple and elegant, but not overwhelming in the bright pink.  A new pink pullover project began.

Opulent Raglan in Progress

So far this has been a simple top down knit.  The cable pattern is super easy.  I think I'm going to make some mods to the hemming on the bottom, but otherwise the pattern is perfect as is.  I'm so glad I found this pattern, I feel like it will give me the perfect pink cable sweater to add to my collection.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's for Dinner? (I)

This school year I plan to really make an effort to cook dinner most nights of the week.  Since there are only two of us and most recipes are for 4 -6 people there are typically leftovers.  This means I have a lunch for the next day, and usually a way better lunch than whatever I'd be able to get from the school cafeteria.  I've been trying out some new recipes lately.  I'm a vegetarian, so everything I cook is meat free, and a lot of it is vegan.  It can be hit or miss with Andy, but this one was a major hit.

Quinoa Enchilada Garden Bake

The Garden Enchilada Bake from Peas and  Thank You is super quick and easy to make.  My version isn't vegan, I used real cheese, and I also swapped out the zucchini for corn.  After making enough zucchini baked goods to survive the zombie apocalypse I need a break from zucchini.  I also felt that corn was more fitting for the recipe.

Quinoa Enchilada Garden Bake

I used red quinoa, which I love the taste of.  If you're not a quinoa person you might want to use the regular kind.  Both Andy and I thought this was super awesome.  I might add some onions to it next time, but otherwise it was perfect.  The leftovers didn't last longer than 24 hours.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Child 44

Child 44 (Leo Demidov #1)Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was totally the epitome of a good summer beach read, or ideal for bringing on the plane.  It's a quick, easy read.  The writing and character development is mediocre but the plot is pretty good.  There were plenty of plot twists.  Some of it was a bit predictable, but I wasn't able to guess exactly what was going to happen in the end.  I also enjoyed that this was set in Soviet Russia in the intermediary period between Stalin's death and Khrushchev solidifying his power. The historical details were generally broad and/or vague, but still interesting and seemed factual enough.  I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes Tom Clancy or Dan Brown novels, it had some similarities to both.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Outfit 9.6.12

Even though it's the third day of school it's the first day I got to meet one of my new classes.  I decided to break out the classic black skirt.  I'm predicting this is going to get worn at least once a week this school year.  It's so comfy, has pockets, and looks put together.

Outfit: 9.6.12

I'm Wearing:
Necklace - H&M
Earrings - Charlotte Russe
Skirt - Ann Taylor Loft
Sandals - Target

Picture 012

Since the outfit is a bit plain by itself I thought some bright jewelry would jazz it up a bit.  I think the jewelry also makes this outfit look "summery" but it still feels like summer here.  It's been super humid and sticky the past few days.  I keep seeing pictures of cardigans, tall boots, and pumpkin spice lattes.  I'm ready for fall, if only the temperature would agree.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day of School Outfit

As I mentioned in my previous post I'm now going into my fifth year of teaching.  There are a few things I've learned about first day of school outfits in the past few years:
  1. What you wear does give students their first impressions of you, but so do many other things.  Don't assume students will think you're stern or low-key because of your clothing.
  2. Students can tell when you're uncomfortable, so don't wear anything you have to keep adjusting or is tight, etc.
  3. You're going to stand/walk way more than you anticipate (all those first day assemblies and escorting your class back and forth to the auditorium) so comfy shoes are key.
  4. It's probably going to be warm/humid (my school doesn't have AC) and you're going to be a little nervous/antsy/running around so don't wear anything that will show how sweaty you are (I made this mistake my first year).
With those things in mind, I picked out this outfit for my first day.

First Day of School 2012 - 2013!

I'm Wearing:
Blouse - New York & Company
Skirt - Ann Taylor Loft
Sandals - Target

It met all my requirements for a first day outfit, and I managed not to splatter anything on myself at lunch.  My first day activities went well and my students seem as eager to learn as overwhelmed freshmen can possibly be on their first day of high school.

Students and teachers - how much thought/effort do you put into your first day outfit? 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Classroom!

Today is the first day the students return, so I decided to share a little bit about my classroom this year.

I'm beginning my fifth year of teaching.  Supposedly the fifth year is the "burn out" year.  I definitely do not feel burnt out.  If anything I feel even more excited about my job and the direction my teaching is going in.  However, my classroom was looking a bit burnt out.  I really hadn't updated anything in it since I moved my room two years ago.  Going into this year I really put a lot of effort into making my classroom both aesthetically pleasing and useful to the students.

This bulletin board is at the front of the room.  It has all the important vocabulary and unit questions for the topic we are currently studying.  Although I keep an assignment calendar on my class wiki and the students have a handout with all the due dates on it, I thought it won't hurt to put a calendar with due dates up front also.  Now they have multiple reminders and no excuses for not turning in their work on time!

Classroom 2012 - 2013

My "general school info" bulletin board.

Classroom 2012 - 2013

Last but not least, my layered curriculum bulletin board.  I'm especially excited about this one.  Since the layered curriculum approach allows students many assignment options I always have a ton of resources for every unit.  Usually I kind of plop them on the front table and they end becoming really disorderly.  Then students are constantly asking me where to find things.  It takes time away from them getting work done, and time away from me assisting them with more important matters.

I was trying to think of the best way to distribute information for their choice activities while keeping it orderly and allowing them to easily check out all the options available.  The folders on the bulletin board solved the problem.  Now all the materials can be easily and readily available.  No one needs to interrupt me checking in with students to ask where to find something.

Classroom 2012 - 2013

In addition to looking forward to my new classes and classroom set-up, I'm looking forward to this being my last semester of graduate school, and being advisor the senior class.  I can't believe they're seniors and graduating this year.  Time flies when you're having fun.

Teachers and students - what are you looking forward to most this school year?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Outfit 8.24.12

I realize this is a bit belated, but I didn't get it off my camera until the other day.  Here's what I wore for "date night" (aka - going approximately two miles to have a beer and then going immediately home to watch netflix).

Outfit 8.24.12

I'm Wearing:
Shirt - Ann Taylor Loft
Dress - Target
Sandals - Target
Bag - Steve Madden via TJMaxx

Outfit 8.24.12

In my 27 years I've learned I can't do the following things without opening my mouth:

  • apply eye make-up
  • make stink faces
  • jump
Whatever, nobody's perfect.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Weekend Highlights I

On Saturday we had some friends over to enjoy my last real "free" weekend before my professional development and back to school routine begins.  It was a pretty low key get together.  I made these amazing vegan chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting from this cookbook.  I highly recommend going to get this book if only for this cupcake frosting recipe.  It took all my will power to dump the leftover frosting and not shovel spoonfuls of it in my mouth.


On Sunday Andy and I decided to go geocaching at a park near us.  We brought Thor with us, so we didn't really get to do much geocaching, but it was still a nice day out.


We're working with Thor on not freaking out when he sees other dogs.  I think we're slowly making progress.  We saw lots of dogs in the park, and he did kind of freak out, but he didn't bark.  Success!

Technically school doesn't start until next Tuesday, but we have two days of professional development and a lot of family plans for this upcoming weekend, so this really felt like my last summer weekend.  It was a good one, so no complaints here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunlight Shawl

A few months ago my grandmother gave me all the yarn she'd been hoarding since her arthritis made it too difficult for her to knit.  While I was excited to be on the receiving end (especially since she gave me some seriously amazing material), I felt bad for her that she could no longer enjoy one of her favorite hobbies.  I wanted to make a little something for her to show my appreciation for her generosity.

I knew I wanted to use this beautiful variegated fingering wool, but I wasn't quite sure what to make.  After some ravelry searching I found this pattern and knew it was perfect.

Sunlight Shawl

Sunlight Shawl Detail

Sunlight Shawl Detail

I love how simple this pattern is, and it shows off the yarn.  Although I made this in fingering weight with small needles it could be done with any weight yarn/needle size.  In retrospect I probably should have blocked it to get the picot edging to lay flat.  I guess I'll just have to do that when I make one for myself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School Shopping

There are many great reasons to be a teacher, but definitely in the top five is an excuse every year to do back to school shopping.  Of course I purchase things for my classroom and students, but I can't neglect myself.  How can I adequately teach the children if I am not appropriately dressed?  I have to be a positive role model right?

I've been really trying hard to build a wardrobe of quality items I love and will have for a long time instead of cheap impulsive buys that I just like.  I tried to keep this in mind when shopping for new shoes.  Although these were a clearance bargain (75% off), and not what I went shopping for in particular, they're classic and comfy so I know I won't have any buyer's remorse.


I went shopping with the intention of purchasing a pair of neutral colored medium height heels.  I found these.


Wedges are a teacher's best friend.  I feel so much more prepared to go back to school now.  Maybe tomorrow I'll shop for some stuff for my bulletin board . . .

Monday, August 20, 2012

East of the West

East of the WestEast of the West by Miroslav Penkov
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After just completing an incredibly long, dense read this was the perfect book - a collection of short stories. My rating of three stars reflects my average for all the stories in this book. There were some that I loved and would read over and over again and some then I felt "meh" about. It's definitely worth reading and the short story format makes this book fly. Prior to reading this book I knew nothing about Bulgaria's culture, this was definitely an intriguing introduction to the country. Although I know the stories are fiction I felt like I got a peek into life and customs. I'd definitely be interested in reading something else of Penkov's and would recommend this read to others.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

The Story of the Giant Zucchini

Once upon a time there was an absolutely monstrous zucchini that Andy brought home to Lisa from his uncle's garden.  She was amazed at it's size, and was determined to utilize all of the zucchini to make delicious treats before Thor decided to take a bite out of it.

Monster Zucchini

Recently she had found this awesome sounding zucchini muffin recipe from Oh She Glows, and decided to make them.  The muffins were delicious.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffin

However, a ton of zucchini remained.

Zucchini Round 1

Lisa hates being wasteful, so she decided to make some zucchini bread from her mom's amazing recipe.  Two loaves of zucchini bread later at least half of the zucchini remained.

Zucchini Round 2

Still not willing to concede Lisa made more zucchini bread.  Now out of loaf pans she made it in a cake pan, because lets face it, this tastes more like cake anyways.

Zucchini Bread/Cake

Yet the zucchini abides.

Zucchini Round 3

Noticing that she did still have some chocolate chips remaining and noting how delicious the zucchini muffins were Lisa decides at this point, why not make one more batch of zucchini muffins (they'll freeze well, right??).  At this point she decides the zucchini has been diminished enough that she feels it is acceptable to toss the remains.

Zucchini Round 4

After the zucchini has been used up and a bunch of delicious treats made, Lisa decides she can now waste her afternoon watching shows on netflix knowing that she and Andy will live happily ever after with enough zucchini treats to last them until next summer.

Zucchini Baked Goods

So my friends, if you come over to visit anytime in the near future, I hope you like zucchini.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Last Trip of the Summer

I've been fortunate to be able to travel a lot this summer.  Over the weekend I took my last trip of the summer to go visit my family and to attend a baby shower for my cousin and his girlfriend.

Baby Shower

Clearly there was plenty of food.


They got lots of awesome gifts, including this amazing crocheted blanket . . . not bragging or anything.

Ribbon Hats

As tradition dictates, ribbon hats were made.

I also got to see my little cousins, who are rapidly becoming not so little.

Bryanna & Casie

I did have an encounter with the tiniest dog in existence.  He growled and tried to bite me . . . seriously little guy, you are the least intimidating thing I've ever seen.


It was a good way to wrap up the summer, now I feel ready to slowly ease myself back into my school routine.  I went into my classroom for the first time today, and was pleasantly surprised to see I received a new computer!  Clearly a sign it's going to be a good school year.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Infinite Jest Book Review

Infinite JestInfinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely worth reading for the writing, not the plot. On my first try I quit around page 200, but the second time around I was able to persevere. The little vignettes and character development are excellent, but there are times when it becomes frustrating at the number of characters/plots introduced that don't always seem connected and don't necessarily conclude. The wit and sarcasm were what kept me going through. I'll definitely read something else of his, especially a collection of short stories which I think would be a great format for his style of writing.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Anniversary Outfit

To celebrate our second anniversary Andy and I went to Sonsie on Newbury Street.  It was a beautiful night, we loved the atmosphere of the restaurant and the food was amazing.  I decided to get dressed up for the occasion.

Anniversary Outfit: 8.7.12

I'm Wearing:
Top - Express
Skirt - Loft (gift from MIL)
Earrings - gift from a very thoughtful student
Shoes - really old
Purse - also really old (gift from mom)

Anniversary Outfit: 8.7.12

These pictures are not the greatest, since they were taken hastily before booking it to catch our train home.  For my birthday my mother in-law took me shopping to get me back to school clothes, and this skirt was one of the purchases.  I couldn't wait for school to start to wear it.  As much as I love those shoes they totally destroyed my feet walking from our T stop the the restaurant, then to Sweet for dessert.  It was worth a few blisters for these cupcakes though.

Cupcakes from Sweet

Pina colada and peach cobbler - seriously amazing.  I didn't let Andy smash cake in my face on our wedding day, and I certainly wouldn't let him smash this in my face, way too delicious to waste.

I'll be wearing flats for a while and avoiding sweets until my blood sugar levels return to normal (do you see all that frosting?  I ate all of that), but all totally worth it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2nd Anniversary!

Today Andy and I are celebrating our second wedding anniversary!  It's weird to look at the pictures and realize it's been two years since this day (and it reminds me that I still haven't made a wedding album . . .).





 Clearly the black and whites are my favorite.  Part of the reason I haven't put together a wedding album yet is that I'm lazy struggling to decide which pictures will make the cut.  Our friends and photographers were awesome and we have so many great images from that day.  If you'd like to see them all you can do so here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Family Visit

Just wanted to share a picture from this weekend, my parents, brother, and uncle came to visit and hang out with Thor.

  Family Visit 

 It's a rare moment when Thor sits still for a picture, and everyone looks at the camera and smiles at the same time.  Thor got spoiled rotten with attention, treats, and toys.  He's been moping around since everyone left.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom Book Review

Leading and Managing a Differentiated ClassroomLeading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book for a book/discussion group at my school. I'm a big fan of differentiated instruction and use layered curriculum (a way of formatting differentiation) in my classroom. While this book has a lot of really great advice and information in it, there are also some shortcomings. The book itself is quite short and for a new teachers probably does not give enough guidance to actually begin differentiating well in the classroom. This book seemed to focus more on trying to sell the philosophy rather than putting it into practice in the classroom (although it does provide some good examples, they are sporadic). It does provide a lot of great explanation in this area (ex: differentiation is not just a list of various activities, but an educational philosophy and approach to teaching), but fell a bit short on some of the practical applications of differentiated instruction.
I'm glad I read this book and would definitely recommend it to other teachers. I would also suggest it be read in conjunction with Kathy Nunley's "Layered Curriculum" which focuses less on selling an educator on the philosophy of differentiated education and more on putting it into place and managing it in the classroom.

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