Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New library space!

When I switched districts and schools I knew that more than likely I wasn't going to have a library space to start off the year.  My start has been great none the less.  I've met with kids in classrooms and have really enjoyed their energy!  My space is slowly coming around though and I thought I would share some pictures.

New Circulation Desk

What is all this stuff?

Teaching area; will have comfy chairs

Teaching area with tables and chairs

Computer station for Destiny

Back room work area

Windows that will eventually have screens also.
Great windowsills for plants!

Pretty door area

The walls look bland in the photos (except for the big blue one) but they are actually a nice dark cream color. It is soothing and lots of color exists in the space. The ceiling is multi-layered and there are four skylights. Now we just need lots of bookcases and furniture!  And of course all the books need to be unpacked.  Kids here have lived a long time without a large library so this is going to be very exciting for them (and me!)

Birthday gifts that keep on giving!

My birthday is way past (still in the same month at least!) and I wanted to (share) brag about two fantastic gifts I received.


My husband and Groovy Girl gave me a NutriBullet  because I'd been pricing them myself.  I've had a Juiceman juicer for years and years but lost interest because it was a mess to clean up and all the fiber ended up in bucket.  The juice was good but not enough to keep me interested and so it was collecting dust.  I recently gave it away in a flurry of cleansing.  Oh it felt so good.  The NutriBullet is the answer to the lost fiber and I love it.  I'm trying to take off the 10 lbs I've added to my small frame over the last few menopausal years and juicing jump starts my morning.  I've followed a few recipes but mainly just throw a few slices of fruit, leafy greens, nuts, Chia seeds, and a dollop of yogurt or water.  Yum.  It's not always pretty but they taste great.

The second cool gift I received is a FitBit Flex from my amazing in-laws.  I love them and they always get me something wonderful.  I didn't know much about FitBits before but I'm addicted now.  I love logging my food, water, and workouts. I like the sleep part also but can't get that to always work.  I am freaking amazed at how many steps I take in one day plus it makes me walk more than I normally would just by sitting on my wrist.  It is the extra thing that pushes me onward.  Thank you Phyllis and Allen!

I did get many other amazing gift - these two are just the ones that are helping me health-wise.  Oh and the sound recording of my friend Barb's yoga guru who is both meditative and thrilling.  My mom got me a colorful bag and a lovely scarf that I wear a lot and my friend Verda sent me Flair pens to start off my school year right.

I'm blessed ten times over and am personally thrilled every time I have a new birthday.  As my stepfather says "it's better than the alternative."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What a great week, kid-style.

My son sent me this photo last night.  He is fishing in Gunnison, Colorado with his grandparents.  They always catch and release so no fish was harmed in the taking of this photo.  He was thrilled though because this is one of the biggest trout he's ever caught.  His smile says it all.





On the other end of the spectrum Groovy Girl tried a little modeling at a Dillard's promotion and was picked for her style and her photograph.  One of her photos will be blown up and used for in-store promotion in the children's section and her photo will be sent to corporate offices for another chance to win.  She was thrilled to be chosen and almost as thrilled that her prize bank was filled with candy and little trinkets like Hello Kitty tattoos.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recent Reads-Amazing!

I'm a pre-reader for our state award committee and our list is always long.  I only read enough to get me by and I generally pick ones that I think are worth it because I just don't have time to read each and every one of them  This year the first three that I picked up made me so happy as a reader and a librarian.


Doll Bones (2013) by Holly Black:  Creepy middle grade book done so well by the amazing Holly Black.  I loved that this one will appeal to boys and girls alike even though the word "doll" appears on the cover.  Poppy, Zachary, and Alice are close friends that have been playing "the game" for a long time and even though Zach feels a bit embarrassed he loves to play.  The three of them have a collection of odd ball dolls, action figures, and animal figurines and they build a story around their adventures.  It sounds amazing and creative to me.  Zach's dad unfortunately sees the toys a little differently and chucks the bag carrying his son's "toys" away.  Zach is crushed but instead of wanting to admit that to Alice and Poppy he pretends he isn't interested in playing anymore.  One of Poppy's dolls has a bit of history and the three of them are compelled to go on a journey to save her.  I will have a very easy time selling this book to students this year.


The Mark of the Dragonfly (2014) by Jaleigh Johnson:  What an incredible world Jaleigh created in  "The World of Solace."  Piper is an incredible character trying to make do as a scrapper in a scrap town on her own.  She ventures out of her routine when she finds Anna in a wagon after a meteor shower rains down on their village.  Her instinct is to protect her and she does even though she ends up far from home on a train bound for the capital.  I really enjoyed Anna's and Piper's journey and thought the addition of Gee, Trimble, and Jeyne added to the incredible story of escape and what it means to be a misfit in an already strange land.  Is there another one coming out? I hope to hear more about The World of Solace.


Winterling (2012) by Sarah Prineas: Fer has always had trouble fitting in and doesn't really understand what happened to her parents or why her grandmother keeps her under such a close watch.  When she meets a boy by the pond trying to protect himself from a couple of wolves she saves him and takes him back to her Gran-Jane to be healed.  As the young Rook meets Grand-Jane mysteries spill out that Fer doesn't understand and eventually her grandmother is forced to share her heritage with her granddaughter.  Fer's mother was The Lady of the Land on the other side of the Way and Grand-Jane's son fell in love with her and left. Now both are dead and the land on the other side needs Fer's help to be rid of the Mor who has a grip on the land and the people.  I love strong female characters and Fer is that.  She stands up for what she believes in and is more interested in having fun than grabbing power.  I liked this one so much I'm reading the 2nd in the series, Summerkin.


One not on the list but recommended by Tina Says: The Secret Hum of a Daisy (2014) by Tracy Holczer.  This one is realistic fiction which was a nice change of pace after all those magical lands swept me away.  Grace and her mother have spent all of their year together moving from one small town to the next in search of something they never truly find.  When Grace's mother dies unexpectedly Grace must go live with the grandmother that pushed her mother out of the house years ago.  Grace has to work hard to reconcile her feelings for her mother and what happened between mother and daughter before she was alive.  This novel explores so many excellent themes of parenting, grief, family, and home that it should be a read-aloud in many 5th-7th grade classrooms.  I will promote it as such and will recommend it for next year's list of could-be award winners.

If you are looking for a great read any one of these will do!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer Salsa Season


My mom brought me enough tomatoes to fill an entire kitchen counter.  My young nephew Jasper picked most of them for her and his count I think was 72 plump and vibrant red toms.  Last night I started the process of turning them into salsa.  They were so gorgeous though it was hard to not want to save them for mozzarella, basil salads or avocado, lettuce sandwiches; I compromised and saved 6.
The rest I plopped into boiling water then plunged into an ice bath before slipping the skins from the meat.

I used this great article from AllRecipes.com to remind me how to skin the tomatoes.

It was late last night and so the rest of the process will happen today.  Most of last week I had back-to-school classes that I had to attend because I'd switched districts. This week I have school everyday with meetings the first 3 days and students on Thursday.  I have MUCH to do but today I will spend most of it making the salsa that I love because the tomatoes don't wait. And the fruit flies start to circulate.

Read more about my salsa-making adventures right here with cute photos of a younger short-haired Groovy Girl + the recipe!   Have a healthy week!

This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads weekly foodie meme, Weekend Cooking, and you should click there for many more interesting food related posts.  Cheers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Last minute summer road trips w/ G.G.

(Groovy Girl and her aunt)

Groovy Girl and I have been on a road trip frenzy to finish out the summer with a bang!  We headed northeast first to the Rochester area of my former home state of Minnesota.  I can wax poetically about growing up in the Land of 10,000+ lakes and my dad and his boating adventures.  We spent many fun times going up and down rivers, camping on islands, going round and round lakes as generations of children and adults took their turns water skiing.  I recently saw an old pair of wooden skis at an antique store and it took me back to 3rd grade when I had them on my feet for weeks at a time.

(Groovy Girl and her wee cousin)
We went to visit my stepmother and stepsister who is about to have baby #2 (remember when hashtags represented number).  It was wonderful to see everyone and we delighted in seeing Groovy Girl's young cousin, Amalia, who is growing fast. My other stepsister is in the process of moving with her husband and two young daughters to Minneapolis from the south side of Chicago so soon we'll be able to easily get together.

We came home for one day turnaround and headed east to visit my friend Barb. She lives in the great state of Indiana in the northeast corner.  She just purchased a new house and we helped her move, clean, organize, and build to make the new house a little more ready for her family to live in. We spent one long evening doing battle with an IKEA closet organizer for her son's room.

She runs a very busy business, Marilyn's Bakery, and was pulled in several different directions while we were there (every day for her) so it was great that we could be there to help.  Groovy Girl and I like to help in the bakery but this time it was even more fun to stay at the new house, all shiny and beautiful, and work on that major project.  We also had time to get pedicures, attend two yoga classes at The Yoga Room with Mike and go kayaking in the small lake that sits behind her new house.

(Barb and Groovy Girl)

Barb and I have known each since before we were married or had children and there is something comfortable about spending time with someone who knows you so well. We can talk about just about anything and we are lucky that we've landed only 2 states away from each other even though busy schedules keep us apart for most of the year.

While we were gone my youngest brother sent me an email asking us to visit before summer ends.  We saw each other in Montana but it would be great to see them again and see the new house they have under construction.  We'll have to see what the end of August-beginning of September bring as school starts next week for both of us.  How are you ending your summer?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Birthday Greetings


My birthday is just around the corner tomorrow! Yikes. Did you shop for me yet? If not, I've put together a quick list of possible suggestions in case one of you is still searching for that special something.

This Sony music player would be really great so I can listen to my playlist while I work around the house.  I was just at my friend Barb's house and she had one right there in the center of the house and made it so easy to listen to good music all the time.

I also adore these beautiful dresses at eShakti.  This one in particular caught my eye. This would be a wonderful dress for back-to-school.

My list wouldn't be complete without a few books:

1. The Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook by Amalia Saltsman (2007)


2. Everyday Thai Cooking by Katie Chin (2013)

I just finished Lament by Maggie Steifvater and I'm interested in Ballad, the companion novel to Lament which features James, Dierdre's best friend.

I also really need to bump up my yoga gear.  I wear the same outfit almost everyday and I'd like something new to slip on.  This tank from R.E. I.  would get me up and going.


Also this 3/4 zip shirt will keep me warm in the mornings as I walk or bike to school this year.


That's probably enough suggestions.  I don't need much, really.  My husband already gave me a nice bottle of red wine.  Life is good.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weekend Cooking; Recipes of the week

{The Kitchn}
I made this wonderful pasta dish: Lemony Ricotta Pasta with basil.  I will definitely make this recipe again as it was easy and tasted great.  Groovy Girl's comment, "too cheesy," didn't even bother me one bit as I took another bite. I've got a lot of basil to use and am going to make a pared down pesto to freeze to use up my bounty.

I did make these healthy (and delicious!) swiss chard rolls.  It's a little like eating a sushi roll and the lemony flavor makes my mouth sing. They were very easy to make and it was my first time cooking with bulgar.

I plan to make this swiss chard risotto this week because I've acquired another huge bunch.  Candace at Beth Fish Reads suggested risotto.  I love risotto so it's perfect.

I made a blueberry pie as my grocery store had USA blueberries on sale.  And my husband LOVES pie.  He left for RAGRAI yesterday and I wanted him to leave with a belly full of pie.

I also made him my mother-in-law's famous chicken salad.  It's so easy (and worth it) to compliment someone on the food they make simply by asking for the recipe.  I found myself in Target thinking about making the chicken salad and so I called Phyllis to ask for a run-down of the ingredients.  As we were chatting about the recipe she relayed that Kaylee, my 22-year-old step-daughter, had called her and also asked for the recipe recently.  That's how simple it is to compliment someone on their cooking.
{the start of good chicken salad}

Curried Chicken Salad

Combine in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups cooked (locally sourced or at least organic) chicken*, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2-3 breasts) 
1/2 cups seedless grapes, green or red (I always use red as my preference)
1 can water chestnuts, sliced and drained
1 can mandarin oranges or pineapple, drained (look for low-sugar content)

Mix together 1/2 cup olive oil-based mayonnaise or healthy egg-free substitute, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, and 1 tsp curry powder (I always use extra curry powder).  Combine dressing with chicken mixture.  I serve this on top of a bed of salad greens.  It is delicious and a perfect meal for summer.  Thanks Phyllis for all your inspiration!  


This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking meme hosted by Candace.  Click to her link to find many other food-related posts.  Have a healthy weekend.