14 Jun

Keep Calm and…

To follow up on my last post, hydration helped.  Hydration always helps.  I’m sorry for taking so long to get back to you on that, but the end of the school year absolutely sped by.  I’m still a little in shock that it’s over.

Keys

The classroom is empty, things are labeled, and my key ring feels empty every time I hold it.  I’m not quite sure if I should be sad that it’s over or excited for the summer.  There’s probably a mixture in there somewhere.  I’m really, really happy… until I think about how much I really did love my class.  They were a really great group of kids this year.

Dear Ms Jones

I’m exhausted and thoroughly looking forward to some rest this summer.  Last summer was full.  Full of good stuff, but definitely full.  I traveled to New Mexico and New York.  I planned a wedding.  I moved.  Definitely full.

This summer, I intend for the schedule to be pretty empty.  There are a lot of things changing in my life.  Primarily, I won’t be returning to this classroom in the fall.  I’m not sure where I’m going yet, but I need a change in workplace scenery.  I’m a little anxious while I wait for everything to get figured out, but I’m confident that however it works itself out, it will be good.

There have also been tons of changes for my family.  I won’t go into details because they’re not my details to share.  For one, though, my mommy moved.  My sister went down to Fayetteville to help her yesterday.  That’s a lie.  We went to finally get all of our childhood belongings out of her house.  Downsizing means no longer storing middle school trophies for your children, I guess.  We worked hard.  And then we took a collective nap on the floor.

Nap time

It was grand.

I told you about my summer to do list.  I’m going to be working on that.  Some things have already happened.  I’ll have to update you.  But also, I should tell you that I’m on a minimalism journey.  That I’m trying to be a more ethical person in how I spend my daily life.  The journey is tough, and I’m hoping we can share a bit of it together.  Things around here will probably change.  This might become a little less of a food blog and a little more of a lifestyle blog because for me, those two things are intrinsically linked.

There are some surprises I’ll get to share with you, but I’m waiting for the timing to be right.  We’ll get there.  We’ll get there.

So hold onto your hat because this summer is going to be fun!  It will be full of ways to use all the fresh produce that’s started coming out of my garden.  P.S.  Check out my first cucumber!

Cucumber

It will be full of infused water and ways to make your kitchen more efficient.  It will be full of flax and quinoa because I’m on a serious super food kick.  It will be full of muffins because I have the cutest summer cupcake papers.  We might throw some traveling in.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

03 Jun

Preparing for the EOGs

This week is EOG week at our school.  For those of you unfamiliar with EOGs or old enough to no longer think about them every single May/June, EOGs are End of Grade assessments.  They have a big impact in a student’s ability to continue on to the next grade, and an even bigger impact on my ability to continue teaching.  Thank you, Standard 6.  I have a lot of very passionate political views on the subject, but I won’t force you to hear about them.  Let’s just take all this as a given, and know that, in short, EOGs are stressful.

But there are also some ground rules for EOGs that a lot of people may not be familiar with.  The test is estimated to take 180 minutes in 5th grade, but with instructions and two 3 minute breaks, it ends up being almost 3 and a half hours from start to finish.  Then students who need extended time are given it in a separate setting (i.e., not my classroom).  Test administrators (that’s me) are never allowed to leave testing materials unsupervised.  Let me explain what that means.  Test administrators are not allowed to go to the bathroom during those 3 and a half hours, except in the case of an emergency and where a substitute test administrator is called into the room.  That process is highly distracting for the students, and I’d like to avoid it, if at all possible.

Test administrators are expected to walk around the room to monitor students’ work, with minimal breaks to sit down and never sitting at the same time as the proctor (that’s the other adult in the room).  And then, to top it off, there is no eating or drinking during the test.

I had forgotten just how physically demanding all of that is.  Until yesterday.  The test began around 9:30 a.m.  I had avoided drinking that morning because I didn’t want to use the bathroom during the test.  The test lasted until about 1:00 p.m.  3 and a half hours of almost non-stop walking with no food or drink and while I was already a bit dehydrated.  Then, once the test was completed, there are all sorts of other duties a testing administrator has.  And then, obviously, the kids are starving, so we went to get lunch around 1:15.  Because a lot of our TAs were busy testing, I didn’t get a lunch break, totally understandable, but still a major bummer.  It was easily 1:30 before I had a chance to think about how hungry I was.  And by that time, a lot of the damage had been done.  A seemingly irreversible headache had already set in, I hadn’t brought nearly enough food to school with me, and after I drank my Naked smoothie, I started to munch on starburst candy, which hardly helped the situation.

I was tremendously unprepared, and I paid the price.  When I got home, I fell to sleep almost immediately, woke up briefly when Joel got home from work, and went back to sleep until almost 9 p.m., the headache only starting to subside by that time.

Today, we’ve got another monster long test.  I’m going to be a bit more prepared this time, though.  A) Drinking lots of water this morning, bathroom breaks be darned.  If I’ve got to put an emergency card in my window, then that’s what I’ll have to do.  B) Eating RIGHT before the test.  I’m taking a peanut butter sandwich I’m planning on eating at 9 this morning.  C) As much as I hate it, I think I might drink a bit of caffeine this morning, just to help give me the energy I need.  D) Drinking an entire water bottle immediately after the test is over.  We won’t get any bathroom breaks even after the test is over, but I’m sure I can get a colleague to watch the kids for a few minutes while I relieve myself.  Not drinking is not an option.  I’ll report back on how it went.  Since I have to stay late after school today, I’m hoping the results will be substantially better than yesterday.

01 Jun

Even today, I can do this…

This last week has really knocked me on my butt.  It’s that time of year… the days are longer, people want to get together, and the hours required by my job are just insane.  It’s like everyone else is fully embracing summer, and I’ve got to hold out for just a few more weeks.  I know it’ll be worth it in mid-June, but I’m struggling now.  I’m staying late trying to get my classroom in order.  I’m more exhausted from the school day because the kids are just done, and we’ve got so much still to do.  And when I’m exhausted, here’s how the evening goes:

5ish

Walk in the door.  Ramona rushes up to me, begging to go out.  Walk to the kitchen, let Ramona into the back yard, get a glass of water, and go chill out on my ever so comfy bed.  Veg out, look through instagram, turn on netflix, play yet another game of 2048, etc.

6:20ish

Joel walks in the door, hears Ramona whining at the back door and lets her in, comes looking for me to find me asleep in bed with netflix playing on my ipad.  His coming into the bedroom usually wakes me up.  We then proceed to chat about our days.

6:40ish

We’re in the kitchen.  I don’t feel like spending 30 minutes to cook some fabulous but altogether complicated dinner.  We look in the freezer for gluten free pizza.  No luck.  I guess we’re going out for tacos.

It’s a bad habit to be in.  And I haven’t been buying convenience foods like frozen pizza because when I go grocery shopping on the weekend, I care about health and how bad processed food is for me.  But mid week, when I look in the fridge only to see uncooked/unprepped veg, I opt for going out for dinner.

Because the tacos aren’t good for me either.  And so then I end up eating poorly and letting the healthy food I got at the farmer’s market go bad just because I’m too lazy to prepare it.  Joel always offers to cook dinner, but he’s not the most experienced in the kitchen, I’m actually quite picky, and I’m too tired to give him step-by-step instructions.

So this week, we’re being realistic.  30 minute meals just aren’t easy enough.  I’m looking for 10 minute meals, less if at all possible.  I can handle some wait time while I lay in bed and watch netflix, but I need to count on at least some time where I’m laying down in the evening.

This means convenience foods, but I’m going for the right kind of convenience foods.  Already grilled and chopped chicken isn’t substantially worse than what I could do myself, but can go on top of pasta and salads to create a complete meal.  I go for the minimally processed, gluten free stuff, and Costco has a bag that I’ve been eyeing for weeks.  Bread.  Gluten free bread isn’t cheap (even at Costco), but sandwiches will do in a pinch.  And a slice of peanut butter toast right when I get home can give me the energy I need to actually prepare dinner.  And because I’m a total sucker, Joel and I picked up some gluten free kale chicken burgers they had at Costco yesterday.  I had one for dinner last night when Joel went out with his friends, and I’m pleased with the purchase.

Kale Chicken Burger

Another convenience food I’m planning on using is this gluten free teriyaki sauce I found at Costco (I know, I’m obsessed).  I can throw just about any meat into it and bake.  Put rice into the rice maker.  Add a green vegetable, and we’re done.  I know as well as you do, that homemade teriyaki sauce is easy peasy, but it’s clearly not easy enough, because I’m opting for tacos instead of making it.  So for just a few bucks, I can have something as simple as open, pour, bake, which is hardly more difficult than a frozen pizza.

And this means prepping this weekend.  I don’t like to spend too much time over the weekend chopping vegetables and getting everything in order for the week.  I’ll plan to, but then I don’t follow through.  Because vegetable chopping is boring.  This weekend, I’m planning something simple, but substantially more interesting.  We’re making pesto with all that basil from the garden.  And granola bars that will help get me through each day.  Recipes to come.

 

29 May

Going Green: Paper Free

I’ve been trying to take small steps towards creating a substantially greener home.  Step 1 for me was getting rid of all the stupid disposable everything.  Mostly, I’m talking about paper towels.

Paper towels have been a tough habit for my husband and I to kick.  There were a few different road blocks for us.

Gone Paper Free

Road Block Number 1: Laundry

I sewed my own placemats and cloth napkins.  We had a nice set of 6, which is great, if we only eat dinner 3 times a week.  But I don’t do laundry often enough to rotate through them this quickly.  So then we ran out, resorted to paper napkins or paper towels, and never really got into the habit.  Luckily, my amazing sister-in-law knew I wanted more cloth napkins and hunted in thrift stores to get a whole bunch of them for me for Christmas.  I’m not going to lie.  I don’t love all of the patterns.  Some of them are downright ugly.  But some of them are also gorgeous.  And most importantly, the sheer number helped us turn this into a real habit.

The second part of this problem was a storage issue.  Storage when they’re clean, and storage when they’re dirty.  When they were clean, I stored them in an overfilled bottom drawer in the kitchen that just wasn’t accessible enough.  Again, Joel’s family really came through.  His parents had upgraded their china cabinet, and we got their hand-me-down.  This meant access to an almost unlimited supply of cloth napkins.  A huge help!

But I still felt a little confused about what to do when the napkins got dirty.  They didn’t fit into my tri-basket laundry system (whites, brights, and darks).  I found an old hamper from when I was in college up in the attic.  It fit perfectly next to the cat food bin in the laundry room.  This means, I have a place where I can easily through the dirty napkins when I clear the table after dinner.  And then I can wash them when I’m ready.

Road Block Number 2: No alternatives!

I’ve had friends that use a variety of different types of rags instead of paper towels, everything from cut up old t-shirts to just old towels.  These didn’t work for me.  They never seems absorbent enough to deal with spilled beverages.  Here’s where it’s important to be smart about the alternatives.

1) Microfiber: I bought a 24 pack of microfiber cloths from amazon.  These babies are amazing for cleaning.  They dust without chemicals; they clean the bathroom; and my favorite purpose is to use them instead of disposable swiffer cloths.  I think they’re way more effective at attracting dust, dirt, and animal hair, which is a major problem in our house.

2) ShamWow (or similar product): I bought these mega absorbent cloths.  One towel can soak up more liquid than you can possibly imagine.  Paper towels were always my go to when a beverage was spilled.  These work as a much more effective alternative.  I also keep a clean one by the sink to dry off clean dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher), and then let it dry in the dish rack to use again.  If they get dirty, they’re washable as well.

3) Scrubber Cloths: I found these at big lots.  They’re super thick, like a sponge and a cloth had a baby together.  One side is microfiber, and the other is a scrubber.  Mine look a lot like this, although I can’t recommend this brand, necessarily.  I use these for dishes, wiping counters, etc.  I get a new one every three days or so, which makes sure they never get smelly and gross, unlike sponges.  And, of course, they’re machine washable, which makes sure they aren’t just wiping bacteria around your dishes and counters (like the paper towels try to warn you against).

Having these three alternatives, and yes, even a few random washcloths and rags around makes sure that I have exactly what I need for whatever job I need to do.

Road Block Number 3: The Friends

Joel and I stopped using paper towels almost entirely back in February.  We had just purchased a new mega pack of paper towels from Costco, and we were excited to think we wouldn’t need to buy anymore for a long time.  But we noticed that we were still replacing the paper towel roll quite frequently.  Every time we had friends over, especially informal gatherings with snacks, people would grab paper towels instead of using all of our great cloth napkins.  I would even set the cloth napkins out on the counter right alongside the snacks, and people would still reach for the paper towels.  It was even worse when something would spill.  I would watch in horror as they would use 5 sheets or more to clean up after an overflowing glass of soda.

And then Joel had an idea.  Put the paper towels away.  They’re under the sink now.  And we still have them for especially gross messes (we do have three cats and a dog), but they’re completely out of sight for visitors.  Instead, we filled a basket full of all of those great alternatives listed above.  It’s so much prettier than a role of paper towels, too.  I’m sure it’ll be a bit of an education process as friends ask where the paper towels are, but after a couple gatherings, this has been extremely successful.

It’s so much easier than I expected the whole process to be.  In fact, in a lot of ways, I like it so much better than paper towels.  Things get cleaner with a lot less effort.  And throwing out less paper is just a added bonus!  We’ve been slowly transitioning into th

28 May

Ramona the Pest

When Joel and I first started dating, he was in the process of selling his condo in Carrboro.  When he finally did sell it a year later (this was back when the market was in pretty rough shape), he invited me along on his house hunt in Durham.  The house that he finally did end up buying has my dream kitchen in it (in a 50s retro, funk counter peninsula kinda way), a fenced in back yard, and is about a block away from a dog park.  We’re very fortunate to have a great neighborhood for walking, including a pretty rad trail.  Less than a year after Joel bought this house and quite a bit before I would move in, I was hounding (pun totes intended) Joel to get a dog.  It seemed a crime to have such an ideal house/neighborhood for a dog and not to have one.

… and then we met Ramona.  I was teaching workshops out by the coast that summer, and some of the interns and I were discussing the different dogs they had.  And then this lady who volunteered at this afterschool program said, “Are any of you looking to adopt a dog?  Because we have some dogs that really need a good home?”  And when I told Joel they had a bunch of black lab/golden retriever puppies that were going to the pound within the week if they didn’t find puppies, he was just as much into it as I was.

Retriever

Ramona’s a tough one to photograph because she’s ALWAYS moving.  I don’t know what we were really expecting with a name like Ramona.  But as much of a pest as she can be at times, I absolutely adore her.

… so when I woke up at 1 this morning because I had a nightmare where she died of this really awful disease, I wasn’t able to go back to sleep.  I had to teach today on little more than 2 hours of sleep.  Obviously not ideal.  So when I was staring at my box of chex this morning, I knew that just wasn’t going to cut it.  I considered toast with peanut butter and banana.  Not a bad option, but I really needed chocolate.

I went searching for this recipe.  And it rocked my world.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Quinoa

Remember those no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies you had at VBS every summer?  This is a relatively guilt-free version of that.  It’s so rich and decadent, but the ingredient list beats out your average box of cereal.  Check it out!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Quinoa

adapted from The Everything Vegan Cookbook

  • 1/2 c. quinoa
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 T. cocoa
  • 1 1/2 T. agave syrup (or your sweetener of choice)

Cook the quinoa and milk over medium-low until the quinoa is cooked, and the milk is almost entirely absorbed.  Remove from heat.  While quinoa is still hot, stir in the peanut butter, cocoa, and sweetener.  Top with bananas or eat plain.  Serves 2.

20 May

It’s the most… wonderful time…

… of the year.  You know that time of year where all you need is a citronella candle and a lemonade to be exactly perfectly happy on your patio.  We’re eating more meals outside than not these days, and I’m really digging it for a couple reasons: a) fewer dishes to wash and b) I don’t even mind that there’s junk all over our dining room table.

I’ve also been spending every Saturday morning at our local farmer’s market.  I’ve really been trying to get in on the whole organic game, from our vegetables to our meat.  The meat is trickier than I expected.  It’s also a lot more expensive than I expected.  I wanted a steak salad, real bad, but the london broil at my regular beef place was expensive like whoa.  As I was meandering around the market, I hesitated in front of the bison sellers.  There were no customers there which made my hesitation especially conspicuous.  The seller struck up a conversation with me, and I was pretty honest with her.  “I’ve never had bison… does it taste… I’m sorry… but does it taste weird?”  She assured me that it did not.  I don’t really know what I was expecting her to say.  So I took the plunge.  And I walked away with a bison london broil, which she suggested I marinate and cook on the grill until it reached 143 degrees Fahrenheit.

I did.  And it was AMAZING.

Steak Salad

I put it on top of farmer’s market mixed greens with chopped organic strawberries and shredded cheddar cheese.  Then topped with poppyseed dressing.  Don’t mind how the dressing got away from me over on the right.

18 May

Lesson Learned

I try really very hard to never indoctrinate my students.  Last year, I refused to tell my students who I voted for until graduation day.  I try hard to do a lot of things at work, but like anything, sometimes I slip up.

The other day, I had misprinted a weekly assignment I gave the kids on Monday.  On Tuesday, I made the necessary corrections, and distributed the corrected assignment to my kids.  When I gave the corrected version to them, I instructed them to crumple up the old one and recycle it.  I didn’t want them using the old version by accident all week.

And then I watched in horror as my students crumpled their papers and threw them toward the trash.  You read that right.  Now the recycling bin.  The trash.  And I let them have it.  Because even if I hadn’t explicitly instructed them on this matter (and I did), we recycle in our classroom (read: I paper in our classroom).  While I don’t think I crossed any lines, I was altogether too emotional to be an effective educator at that moment.

Because to me, recycling is such a “duh” thing to do.  It’s not something where I’m willing to agree to disagree because I really feel like if people are educated enough, they will have to agree with me on this issue.  And I know that I should be more generous with 10 and 11 year olds who have never been educated on said issue.  I should be, but I wasn’t.

And I’m pretty certain the kids wrote it off as “Ms. Jones just being crazy”.  But I was lucky enough to get another opportunity Tuesday afternoon.  During science class, we were discussing cells, living and nonliving things, and decomposition.  So we discussed how composting works, and I mentioned that I do compost at my house.  And then one of my kids raised his hand and asked why.  I wasn’t mad at my students this time around.  I wasn’t frustrated at their lack of understanding.  But instead, I very calmly gave them the best explanation I have:

I compost because it’s good for my garden, but also for the same reason I recycle.  Because land fills stank.  [There was a snicker in the room.]  Yes, I said “stank“, because they more than stink.  And I’d like to do my best so that there are as few of them as possible.

Then one of my kids added that his dad works at the dump, and he doesn’t know how he handles it all day because it’s just so smelly.  And then we got back to science.

Now, I’m not saying I transformed lives with that explanation.  But I will say that since then, several students have come up to me with certain items and asked if they could recycle them.  And absolutely no students have pouted about recycling like they used to.

If fifth graders can start to understand that the environment is important, surely all of us can do our share.  This summer, Joel and I are getting rid of the chemicals.  In the meantime, I’m trying to make small choices that have a bigger impact, starting with my bottled flavored water.

Enter: infused water.  I’m such a fan.  Anything that blends into my garden this well is obviously something I want.

Infused Water

Infused water has always sort of scared me.  It seems like a real hassle, but it’s easier than I thought.  Oranges are sliced and thrown into a pitcher and/or a water bottle.  The pitcher is filled with water and put in the fridge.  Now it’s just a waiting game.  Overnight is ideal, but a couple hours will do if you can’t wait.

The strawberry infused water was essentially the same process.  I might get more creative, but for now, this works for me.

13 May

Summer To Do’s

I’m at the point in the school year where I’m going in a lot earlier, staying a lot later, and generally just under a lot more stress.  You’ll be seeing me a whole lot less for the next month as I prepare my students to totally beast the EOGs.

When I’m not dancing with my kids and singing this this song (it’s our graduation song this year), I’m trying really hard to just enjoy the spring.  To eat more popsicles, spend more time throwing toys for my pup in the backyard, and eat more meals outdoors.  This week’s meal plan features three evenings out on our back patio.

Fajitas Outside

These fajitas are courtesy of the Homesick Texan.  We added some queso we picked up from costco and some refried beans to the mix.  The recipe is super simple and gets prepared in the morning, so all I have to do after work is throw stuff on the grill and heat packaged foods (tortillas, beans, queso) up.

Also, check out our totally rad garden in the background.  It includes 6 different varieties of tomatoes, 1 sweet pepper plant which is always thirsty, 1 cucumber bush, and some herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary).  The meal sitch this summer is going to be incredible!

And I am starting to plan for the summer.  Plans beyond just eating a ton of fresh tomatoes from our garden.  So here’s the to do list I’m creating for summer… because worrying about any of it right now is just too much.  I’ve broken it down into categories:

1) Hard Core Decluttering

Clothes: My husband likes to keep clothes with holes in them.  This needs to change.  I also have loads of clothes that I just don’t like.  If I haven’t worn them in the past year, they’ve got to go.

Kitchen: My husband and I got married less than 3 months after we got engaged.  I was traveling a lot that summer, and the moving in sitch was a lot of throwing kitchen utensils into a big drawer.  Since a lot of our old stuff isn’t even gluten free, I need to go through this and donate.

Cleaning Supplies: I created all homemade/nontoxic household cleaners, and we’ve begun using these exclusively.  It’s time for the chemicals to go.

2) Organization

Flours: I love my kitchen chemistry set that comes with being a gluten free baker.  But I need more containers, bigger containers, and a space to neatly put all of said containers.  I want to clear out a shelf in the cabinet to be exclusively for all of my baking mixes, flours, etc.

Craft Supplies: We have a substantial amount of space in our guest room closet for me to organize all of my sewing/crafting supplies so there’s really no reason for them to be up in the attic.  I’d like to start sewing a whole lot more since it really helps relax me.  And I’ve got quite the fabric stash, but it’s in so many different places, wadded up and stuffed in containers, that I don’t know what I have.  This needs to change.

Comic Books: My husband has quite the collection, and I actually would be interested in reading quite a few of them.  We managed to develop a nice storage system in a cool green legal filing cabinet, but we were so excited to have them stored in something other than boxes, that we just kind of threw them in there.  I want them organized and labeled so we can find comics worth reading.

3) Becoming a Little Crunchier

Shampoo: I’m pretty sure I want to go homemade and nontoxic here.  I’ve been listening to The Art of Simple podcast a lot lately, and her ideas are making a lot of sense to me.  It helps that my mom has also switched over to a baking soda shampoo and loves it.  I know a lot of people talk about going gluten free with shampoo, and while I’ve never really felt the need (no skin irritation or the like), it seems like a great added bonus.

Body Wash: I’ve always prefered body wash to soap.  Currently, I have a Costco (it’s a unit of measurement that means “a lot”) of Dove body wash that was on sale a few months ago.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to use it all up before the end of the summer, but I’m going to get us ready to switch over when we’re ready.  I like this recipe.

4) Health/wellness

Exercise: I want to establish more regular exercise routines around here.  I’m thinking I might try to get back into pilates.

Food: This is a big one for me because I’ve started eating organic when it makes the most sense to.  I’m eating real ingredients with veg and meat from the farmer’s market, and I really love this.  But then when I come home from a 10+ hour day at school and I didn’t prep the evening meal that morning, out come the frozen whatever.  This needs to stop.  Establishing this habit while I have plenty of time will make it easier when I get crunched for time during the school year.

Mind: I’ve got to start meditating again.  And reading.  A lot more.  The stress this year has really gotten to me, and I’ve got to get better at managing it.  I plan on finishing the Pretty Little Liars series this summer (don’t judge).  And I think I’m going to do some reading on stress management given this crazy profession I’ve gotten myself into.

02 May

Don’t Stop Believing

When I started thinking through this post, I was fixing myself breakfast.  I was letting my dog out to go be with her boyfriend (she normally doesn’t want to go out until at least 6:30, but at 5:45, I can hear his bark next door, and she’s got to be out there, running along the fence with him).  I was singing this song in my head.  No, let’s just be honest, I was singing it out loud.  But it has nothing to do with the major point of this post, which is this:

Let’s just stop pretending that anything ever is perfect.  I know, I know.  This is a food blog.  Where the author eats loads of cupcakes and pies and never gets fat.  Where the dirty dishes created by cooking a) don’t exist, b) never appear in the background of photos, and c) never stress us out.  (I don’t have a dishwasher, so… you know… ha!)  Where we totally compost because like… omg, who doesn’t? but said compost NEVER attracts fruit flies.  Where you totally have a marble counter top, or, at the very least, something substantially better than white laminate.

Let’s just get something straight.  I’m pretty sure nobody ever has had a marble countertop.  It’s all angles, smoke, and mirrors.  Or more simply, a marble cutting board.  I often trick you into believing I have a wood countertop.  I don’t.  I just have a bamboo tray that a lot of my food ends up on because I rarely eat at a table.

But I really enjoy tricking the whole world into thinking my life is perfect, especially my food.  I never make mistakes.  I never run out of eggs mid-recipe at 5 in the morning.  I never get a tornado warning on my phone while I’m cooking that tells me to “take shelter now!”  It just never happens.  Not to me, anyway.

Baby Shower Cake

But this cake.  It happened.  It was undeniable.  It fell over during my walk to the car in the morning.  I fixed it.  It fell over in the car.  I fixed it.  And then it fell over while I was trying to find room for it in the fridge at work.  I cried.  And my coworker fixed it.

I had worked the whole thing up in my head.  Like anything I bake can make or break a baby shower.  Not one person said, “ew… who made the cake?”  Because not one single person was there for the cake.  Duh!  I’m just not that important to the whole world.

So go on over to Joy the Baker and make this cake.  Make some whipped cream and layer the cake with the cream and assorted berries.  Take it to a party.  Have a good time.  But whatever you do, don’t cry over it.  Perfection wasn’t going to happen anyway.  And nobody expected it.

28 Apr

Quinoa Granola

I started a chore chart this past week.  It tells me what to do each morning and each evening.  It tells me when to do what laundry and when to clean out the fridge.  I started the chore chart the week that I left town on Friday.  I started it on the week that I had multiple evenings where I had to stay super late at school.  I started it on the week when I had to stay home from work sick one day.  I started it the week our dryer stopped working.  I’m behind in the first week.  In truth, that’s often how I roll.

Granola with Bananas

But this granola makes me feel like I’m doing something in my life right.  It makes me feel like I’ve got it all together.  I don’t.  But I do love feeling like I do.  Quinoa gives me all the things I need to get through to my 1:20 lunch time without being a total grouch.  The agave adds sweetness without being overpowering.

So get your life together.  Or pretend.  But eat this granola while you do.  Add bananas, dried cranberries, or yogurt.  It’s empowering.

Granola with Cranberries

Quinoa Granola
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (gluten free, if that matters to you)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 T. flaxseed
  • 1/2 T. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 2 T. coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prep a baking sheet by lightly greasing or covering with parchment paper.  Mix the dry ingredients.  Stir in agave and coconut oil.  Spread on baking sheet.  Bake for around 15 minutes or until just starting to brown.  Be careful not to overcook!  Let cool completely and store in an airtight container,