Channeling Amelia

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Mr. and Mrs. Rogers couldn’t dismiss Amelia Bedelia after she made a to-die-for lemon meringue pie.

Part of our Thanksgiving pleasure this year came when Mama and I made our plan for what we would fix. We dug out Mamaw’s cookbook, and I set out to make pies: pumpkin, pecan, coconut, and lemon meringue. I started by cooking another pumpkin up (Mama and I found out that sweet potatoes and pumpkin taste great together). The pumpkin and coconut pies really turned out amazingly well! I couldn’t bring myself to taste the pecan pie after I saw what went into it… The lemon meringue was HARD!

No wonder Amelia Bedelia kept her job so long!

What A Nerd Does With Extra Time

Today I actually said, “I hope my GRE books get here soon.  I need something to occupy my brain.”  What I mean by that is I need something to put my energy into.  Something that I can learn that will show results.  Math.

I applied to University of VA this past year–and I’ve been instructed to raise my Quantitative score on my GRE.  The language portion was well above what they wanted; however, the math score was significantly lower.  It’s really no surprise.  I didn’t study, and when I went to work the next day, I told my friend, “That was like taking a test in a foreign language.  I had NO idea what they were asking me to do.”  It’s true! (I don’t understand the importance though–I mean, I am applying for READING.  Who expects a Reading Guru to do well on Math?!)

So, my efforts are going to catching up on years of math.  Lucky for me, I had a teacher in college that was able to teach math.  AND I learned that I secretly love it!  I struggled big time all through my public school education.  It all started in fourth grade–and it went downhill from there.  I am the little girl you learned about in college.  The one who is right on target until upper elementary.  I think part of the problem is that math teachers often don’t know how to actually explain what it means.  I need understanding!  It wasn’t until I became a teacher, I understood that when you change the number in the tens column, you’re actually exchanging a whole ten for some ones…  (Stop rolling your eyes, I am not exaggerating.) I learned all of the procedures with zero understanding.  I scored well on standardized tests though–thank you, Department of Education for stressing the test and not the knowledge! (sarcasm)

Unfortunately, in high school–things got weird:  We take math in this order: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II.  Guess who rocked at Geometry?  This girl. So who got placed in Advanced Algebra II?  This girl.  Who promised to never take another math class until it was required in college?  This girl.  Who learned that she really does better learning math on her own?  This girl.

So, all the things that I didn’t have time for last year, I am making time for this year.  I bake, eat healthy, read my bible daily, read books for fun, exercise, blog, clean, and… practice for my GRE!  Sigh.  What a nerd.

My Cheese

Growing up, I only knew two cheeses: Sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella (I don’t mean fancy, fresh mozzarella either–I mean the really processed kind you put on spaghetti and lasagna.)  When I moved to NOVA (Northern Virginia), I felt like I had been liberated!  I was so surprised to find out that so many cheeses existed!  Jenny and I would buy Triple Cream Brie, Aged Cheddar, Gouda, sigh…   Life was so good letting go of my old cheese and loving the new.

Yesterday  I decided to read Who Moved My Cheese.  (Note: When your mom is a counselor, self-help books are everywhere. )  It was pretty sneaky really–I thought it would be about people who are Obsessive Compulsive.  That’s my Elementary Education experience that made me jump conclusions: We teach kids to use prior knowledge to predict books based on the cover.  Naturally, I think of OTHER people–people who worry about the placement of their possessions…

Be warned!

If you are going through a Quarter Life Crisis and bemoaning your current life situation, DON’T READ THIS BOOK!

That is, don’t read this book unless you want to actually stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it.  It was an easy read–and it’s all about dealing with disappointments that come our way.  Really, it’s less about dealing and more about moving on.  Along the way, there are little nuggets of wisdom.  Such as: The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold onto it and, The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.

The fact of the matter is, life changes!  That’s what happens.  When you are like me (a planner of life), you like to know what is around the next corner.  In fact, you probably THINK you know what the future holds.  We never know what tomorrow brings.  We can only control how we choose to act–we really have no control over other people, unplanned circumstances, and the unknown.  The sooner we can let go, the faster we heal.  And healing is good!

So often I think of the last couple years, and wish that I could turn back time.  That certainly isn’t the healthy way to approach life.  I can’t control the past.  I can only control what I do now.  I can analyze and gaze longingly at my old cheese, or I can get ready to experience the best cheese of my life.

Note:  I do think that we should allow what we’ve learned from the past to guide our future choices.  That is healthy and smart!  Just know that every situation is unique, and just because you’ve seen something once doesn’t mean that it will be the same the second time around.

Finding My Passion

“First, last, and always, I am a teacher.”

Well, it’s happened. I suspect that Mama knew what she was doing when she handed it to me–when she said, “This is a good book! Read this one!”

The Thread That Runs So True details the teaching adventures of a Appalachian teacher in the eastern hills of Kentucky. Really it was rather quick, though unexpected. SURPRISE! There on page 82–kabam! Words describing the influence of a teacher–life changing influence:

“I am firm in my belief that a teacher lives on and on through his students. Good teaching is forever and the and the teacher is immortal.” – Jesse Stuart

To add to this, I stalked my high school art teacher, Leo Sage. I was such a pain in the butt when I was in his class. I thought that I knew everything, and didn’t need to be in his class. I took great pains to be a pain. Now, much like my bully revelation (when I accepted that the younger me was a bully), I realized what a great teacher he was. Mr. Sage had this skill for finding the students who needed the most encouragement, and was a source of strength for them. He could read kids as they walked into his classroom, and more often than not would pull them aside for pick-me-ups. I remember him building up this one kid–and what do you know?! He has his own pottery business now!

I just have really had a great day of education revelations. This teacher is having a Morrie-moment (As in Tuesdays With Morrie–Teacher for Life).

Life (Pho-less)

So, I’m sick for the first time since I’ve been back in Tennessee. The last couple days it’s been coming on–and I completely blame Mama. After all, she has been crusty for a week or so…

Naturally, the first thing I want is the first thing I’m unable to get: a nice, fat, steaming bowl of Pho ga.

I looked up the recipe online–its a little daunting, but I guess I’ll give it a go sometime this week. I’m going to hunt this town high and low while I’m at it too…

When do I get to return to the land of great soup? (P.S. I don’t mean Vietnam.)

Update:  I hope that Mom wants to drive to West Knoxville tonight.  I found a Vietnamese restaurant with reviews of “greatest Pho”.  Here’s to hoping with fingers crossed!

Teach Overseas? Signs To Guide Me

I’ve been considering it lately… The problem is the American International Schools want a two year commitment. Two years?! Anyone who knows me knows that will be hard… I have a hard time committing to a regular teaching contract (10 months), so how can I commit when I have NO idea what life will look like in two years?!

On one hand, I really don’t know what is going on in my life anyway. On the other hand, I’m almost 28, and I feel like I am just waiting for life to start. 30 when I am finished? Sheesh! (Sorry, Jenny…)

Speaking of 28–I’m painfully aware that the 10-year-reunion is coming up. Ugh. No thanks, Memory Lane. Reality Highway isn’t much better, but I would like to avoid any other depressing detours. If only they would repave so that my trip would be less bumpy. I’m also tired of all the flats. Get it together, road-crew! This baby might seem like she’s a functional model, but her driver is a bit clueless…

How great would it be if life came with road signs? I heard about some dear ones who look for signs when they move to make sure they’re in God’s will. But what about this? Miles to go. Next rest-stop in ___ miles. Construction ahead. Slow Children. Bump.

My road signs would be some I’ve seen for the last several months on I-81 in southwestern Virginia:
Blasting Ahead. Road Closed. Must Detour…

Rejection, Anyone?

It’s laughable, really.

Since August I’ve applied to COUNTLESS jobs. I’ve applied to jobs all over the world. I’ve applied to education based jobs, babysitting jobs, tutoring jobs, secretary jobs, government jobs, sales jobs, cruise jobs, and probation jobs. I’ve filled out hundreds of applications, sent so many resumes, and written letter after letter.

I’ve been told in Jefferson County that I have to be trained first to be a substitute teacher. I’ve been in contact with a lady in Guatemala who chose another au pair over me–one who was “ready to commit.” I have gotten emails (form emails, I’m sure…) telling me that they’ve gone with a more qualified candidate. I’ve had zero interviews. Zero! I’ve seen door after door close.

“Something will open up,” they all say.. I know they are right, but when?! Quite frankly, I don’t know how much more rejection I can take.

What I’ve Learned Today

This morning I woke up determined to make the most of this day. If only I felt like that everyday…

I read this great article online about food cravings. It says that food cravings happen when our body actually needs something. For example, when you crave sugary snacks, your body might actually need chromium. You can find this in an egg yoke, cheese, whole grains, or beer.

I forget where I read the recommendation to put cocoa powder in coffee, but I promptly made a breakfast burrito and some delicious cocoa Sumatra coffee.

As I was cleaning up in the kitchen I remembered the pumpkin Mama bought at my insistence a month ago. I learned out to make pumpkin for future desserts and soups. I also learned that I LOVE PUMPKIN! It reminds me so much of it’s cousin, Squash. I seriously could just eat pureed pumpkin. Tonight I am going to try to cook it with the sweet potatoes as one of our vegetables. Yummo!

Since I was on a roll, I decided to do what I’ve been talking about for weeks: Make English muffins. I have been making a lot of bread lately. Mostly because bread has been my Mount Everest (unobtainable but desirable). Every time my bread comes out right I am so surprised. From the beginning everything kept going wrong with this recipe. My milk bubbled over when I decided to add butter to it in the microwave, I made a mess all over the place, I used WAY too many tools… sigh. Luckily, they turned out pretty great!

After a quick trip to the grocery store, I decided on a supper of sweet potato/pumpkin puree, carrots (beta-carotene and Vitamin A help with my eyes and inflammation!), broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice and chicken! Delicious! Mom and I were so stuffed AND we have more for lunch tomorrow!

Red Ribbon Week

I sure did get a few giggles from the halls of my mama’s school in White Pine this past week. See, Red Ribbon Week was a couple weeks ago, and the school celebrated with anti-drug activities. I had to take pictures today of my favorites for the annual Red Ribbon Week Poster Contest.

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I’m told that some kid walked up to his teacher and said, “Miss ——-, you don’t cook weed!”

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Yummo! Whole Wheat Bread With a Kick!

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I decided to make bread when I woke up this morning. I saw a recipe on Pinterest not too long ago for what looks like a delicious Honey Wheat Loaf. Actually, this blog, Budget Bytes, is one of my favorites.

Today, I found this recipe on All Recipes. I’ve made a few changes though in an effort to pump it up.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Milled Flax Seed
  • 1/2 cup Oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used 1/2 Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 1/2 Vegetable Oil)
  • 3 cups bread flour

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey, and stir well. Let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes. Mix whole wheat flour, flax seed, and oats in another bowl. Mix in whole wheat flour mix, salt, and vegetable oil in with the yeast mix. Work all-purpose flour in gradually. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes. I had to continually add bread flour to the table as I was kneading. Probably around 1/2 cup. When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  2. Punch down the dough. Shape into two loaves, and place into two well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans. (30 minutes in a warm place)
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.
When I told Mamaw I was going to make bread today, she said, “That will be good! You can put some butter on it!” I think I will just take her a loaf to do as she wishes!20111105-162017.jpg