Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vacation waste

I love vacations! It's tough being a super green person while you travel though.  There is a lot of waste in the journey and it's painful.  One quick stay at a hotel can yield a ton of waste. I tried to research about hotel waste and all I could find was statistics in the U.K.

Driving, off course, uses gasoline to get to your destination.  And while you can bring healthy snacks along the way you can't eat a main meal.  Well, I can because I'm a snacker, I can eat a lot of little meals and be just fine but others in my family have to eat a bigger real meal. My husband begins to snarl if he doesn't eat a real meal along the road and his preferred sandwich shop is Subway.  We are anti-most-any-fast-food places but there are a few we are willing to stop at through any trip.  Meals here are made for throwing into the trash. Gross.  None of the containers are bio-degradable or recyclable (and if they were, they don't provide a place to recycle it at the restuarant!)  This could change-and wouldn't that be great.  So road trips create waste as you dine along your journey.

Hotels now provide breakfast which is a newer and good feature so you aren't pushed out into your new location searching for a breakfast place every morning.  My husband would never do that anyway-we pack cereal in that case.  We've been to one amazing hotel in Minneapolis that used real plates, cups, and silverware for their breakfast and we loved it!  Most places have styrofoam or paper plates, all meant to be tossed away, and the trash can, after a breakfast with many sleepy people, is overflowing! It's kinda gross to us.  You've all been there and many don't even give it a second thought.  We think about it and try to figure ways around it.  One trip we actually packed our own plastic picnic plates for everyone to use.  Our teens were a tiny bit mortified but they used them amidst the stares of other diners.  We were only trying to impress ourselves and to not add to the huge overfilled garbage can.

Our last trip we forgot the plates until we had our first hotel breakfast and my husband and I both looked at each other and groaned.  To be fair it was our first trip in our newer Prius and packing was an issue.  Plates were not high on the list.  Next time though I will bring them no matter what especially if it is more than a one day trip.  A small thing we did to appease ourselves was to save our little plastic juice glasses and used them all three days we were there.

On the other hand when my two friends and I traipsed off to Greer's Ferry for our reading retreat we made minimal impact on the environment.  Our compost waste was bigger than the small trash bag we barely filled.  That kind of travel lifted me up and made me realize how much this way of life is just part of me.  I use cloth napkins everyday.  I don't use any excess paper products at home and it makes it very difficult to be that way out in the greater world. I bring my own travel mug to the coffee/tea shoppe.

Our trip was great though and it was wonderful to visit with friends for a few days.  The reading retreat, our meal at The Root in LR, Mary Poppins at The Rep, the fantastic bluegrass in Mountain View and The Old Mill in Little Rock were just a few highlights.

How do you deal with this on the road?  Any tricks you can pass on...

Friday, March 13, 2015

God I love green things...

Green is in right now. Green eating, green energy, green juicing, green washing (not good), and lime green is literally everywhere.

Last night I was creating goodness in my kitchen and it was all green. I sautéed Brussels sprouts with coconut oil and I had a tubular pasta tossed with homemade pesto from last year's garden. I love it when dinner prep comes together and kids are happy with the meal. They oohed and aaah'ed. It was great. 

Now those limes you see on my cutting board....those were for my Dark and Stormy, which I had while I was throwing together dinner.  My own March Madness!

March is a perfect month for getting into the green! Shamrock shakes are green but think of real + good for you foods that you can bring to the table this month.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Celebrating Eleanor Roosevelt on International Women's Day

It's wonderful to have a day to celebrate women and won't it be great when we can celebrate accomplishments like equal pay.  It seems crazy to me that this is still an issue.  Why don't women get paid more when we DO more?  It's not enough that we hold down full-time jobs and do them amazingly and then go home and throw together a healthy dinner that appeals to all members of the the family.  My family.  It's not easy.  We have to worry about sick kids, paying bills,  staying safe, and making people happy.

It's a lot to accomplish.

Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my female heroes, is someone who accomplished a lot and was always a beacon for women's issues.  She was born in NYC, the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, who lost both of her parent's at a young age.  She was sent to England for schooling and it seemed to cure her shyness. She married her distant cousin Franklin and they had six children.  She was a busy housewife but she made time during WWI to work for the Red Cross.

Franklin contracted polio in 1921 and Eleanor stepped up and assisted him with his political career. She changed the role of First Lady as she fully involved herself in press conferences, spoke out for human rights, women's issues, and children's causes.  She had her own newspaper column and worked with The League of Women Voter's.   All through Franklin's presidency she worked for change.  Upon her husband's death she said she was done but went on to work for the United Nations. She helped to craft the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she considered to be her greatest achievement.  She died of cancer in 1962-the year I was born.

We've had amazing advocates like Eleanor so what's the hold-up on women's issues? My answer is too many men making laws/rules.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Reading Retreat 2015

In about a week's time I will be enjoying warmer weather in a Southern city with two friends.  Our plan is to have a reading retreat-24 hours of reading bliss where we will talk books, have a glass of wine, maybe knit a little as we talk, revel in each other's company. I can't wait and I hope this week school flies by! I'm excited to be in the presence of fareaway friends.

Months ago we each picked a book to share:

A Place at the table by Susan Rebecca White (2013): 
Alice Stone is famous for the homemade southern cuisine she serves at Café Andres and her groundbreaking cookbook, but her past is a mystery to all who know her. Upon Alice’s retirement, Bobby Banks, a young gay man ostracized by his family in Georgia, sets out to revive the aging café with his new brand of southern cooking while he struggles with heartbreak like he’s never known. Seeking respite from the breakup of her marriage, wealthy divorcée Amelia Brighton finds solace in the company and food at Café Andres, until a family secret comes to light in the pages of Alice’s cookbook and threatens to upend her life. (amazon)

Dramarama by E. Lockhart (2007):  
Two theater-mad, self-invented fabulositon Ohio teenagers.
One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.
It's a season of hormones,
gold lame,
hissy fits,
jazz hands. (amazon)

A hundred pieces of me by Lucy Dillon (2014): 
Reeling from her recent divorce, Gina Bellamy suddenly finds herself figuring out how to live on her own. Determined to make a fresh start—with her beloved rescue greyhound by her side—Gina knows drastic measures are in order.  First up: throwing away all her possessions except for the one hundred things that mean the most to her. But what items are worth saving? Letters from the only man she’s ever loved? A keepsake of the father she never knew? Or a blue glass vase that perfectly captures the light?  As she lets go of the past, Gina begins to come to terms with what has happened in her life and discovers that seizing the day is sometimes the only thing to do. And when one decides to do just that...magic happens. (amazon)

All three sound excellent!  I finished A place at the table, am 1/2 way through Dramarama, and will read A hundred pieces of me this week.  I'll let ya'll know how magnificent the retreat is?  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Debut author Amanda Maciel writes scary high school portrayal...

 School can be a frightening place as students of any age try to fit in with an ever changing norm.   Amanda Maciel does an amazing job of making this high school story very real.  I don't teach in a high school and my hope is that it isn't this bad but I have a feeling I could be wrong...

Emma Putnam, a new student,  who somehow gets on the wrong side of Brielle and subsequently her followers, Sara, Noelle and a few male characters.  Emma is pegged as a slut as she tries to make her way through every day with mean people surrounding her.

They push her around physically and emotionally using FB and Twitter.  They taunt her every single time they see her.  They put fake Valentine's Day cutouts on her lawn.  They create a vicious FB page for her.  And while Emma feels like she has a few friends they often turn on her if Brielle is near. Noone wants to go against Brielle.  The line is so thin...it's much easier to be a bystander or even worse join right in so Brielle might like you more.  Why do girls allow a mean queen bee take control like this?

I would love to see this book told again through Emma's side.  She's human and makes a few mistakes along the way which is just what gives Sara justification to keep taunting her. It is Sara that we follow through alternating monthly chapters of before and after Emma's suicide.  Eventaully she understands how her (and Brielle's) behavior adversely effected Emma; enough for Emma to lose any hope.

This was hard to read, it hurt my heart, and I so wanted to step in and alternately "shake" each character.  Words are what hurt and until we really help kids get this bullying will remain an issue. 

How can we teach children at the elementary level to respect each other and spread peace and joy instead of nasty barbs.


Sara's thoughts:

I try to look away, but it's like my head is stuck.  She and Beth are talking in low voices, and Emma looks like she's been crying or something.  She always looks that way-when she's not flirting with some guy or whatever. Or even when she is, sometimes.  She's this permanent bruise, always getting her feelings hurt, always injured.  Everyone at school knows she sees a therapist, and I wonder why they haven't just put her on antidepressants already. Or ones that actually work. (113)

That's just how Brielle was.  That's what no one gets, I think-she would tease you even if she did like you.  Especially if she liked you.  And then if someone was mean to her, or to one of her friends, she'd turn that teasing on to them.  It would be a lot less nice, of course.  It was pretty tough sometimes.  But-and suddenly I know this, standing here with Carmichael, in the middle of passing period, in the middle of nowhere-that's her survival instinct. That's just how she deals. (237)

Excellent, well-crafted characters mixed with a very current and real crisis made for a strong story and from a debut author!  I'm interested in whatever she writes next.  While we are waiting this interview with Amanda is worth it!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Are you watching the Oscars?

We are and we had friends over to share the night with and it's fun to watch with others as we "judge" dresses, hairstyles, and handsome guys!  Neil Patrick Harris is doing a fantastic job of hosting-perfect amount of dry wit and silliness/underwear.

I was up early this morning making dough for homemade pizzas, cut up veggies, cheeses and cooked good Italian sausage + more to enjoy.  Our friends brought salad, chocolates, wine, and beer.  We filled out Oscar ballots and had fun watching everyone stroll down the red carpet in the rain.

This event is part of my NY's resolution to have a new person over for dinner once a month and two months out I'm still going strong.  This was a little bit more stressful event though as my husband had a play open last night, my stepmother was an overnight guest last night, and my amazing in-laws are arriving this week plus I've had a lot of balls in the air at work.  We pulled it off though and I'm pretty sure everyone had fun.

My reason for making this a resolution; I worry about the cleanliness of my house.  I don't like to clean house.  Why would I want to dust when I can be reading?  I do love to cook though so I made a promise to worry more about what I could make for people instead of where dust bunnies are hiding. The pizza was a hit and nobody mentioned any dust.  This is now my measure of success.

Also we made this kickass batch of mint fudge.  It was delicious and we made a double batch (super smart) so we can share it with our incoming guests.

Our Oscar comments feed:

What's with so many red dresses?

What up with Lady Gaga gloves?

The Lego movie rocks!

Lots of  hair that really looks a lot like "bed hair"

So happy that Patricia Arquette won! And her speech was wonderful.

Reese and Anna Kendell looked fantastic.

Felicity Jones looked great.

Scarlett: amazing dress shade!

Mmmm. John Legend.

We all agreed we would like a Lego Oscar statue....

Thank you. That's it. Good night.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

John Irving, master storyteller

My eyes were blurry and yet I kept reading.  I just wanted to finish and find out how Owen Meany died.  It's a critical question in the book as the last half is focused on the fact that Owen knows when he is going to die based on a recurruing dream he has.  His best friend John is in the dream as well as a group of Vietnamese children.  Owen has trouble with the details but he is certain enough that he carves his own gravestone marker at his parent's quarry.  To be that certain that your dream is accurate, to be so certain of your faith are all part of Owen Meany's character-that and his crazy voice.

It's not an easy book to finish. I feel all of February has been dedicated to this book and usually in that amount of time I can get at least 2-3 books finished.  Not so with a John Irving novel.  My friend Sue picked this for our book club selection this month and I was glad as I'd never read it.  My husband and another friend Tim both pick this as one of their favorites.  After the first 10 pages I wasn't so sure-I especially disliked the super long chapters-and I pushed through that only to really fall in love with the story.  It has so many great connecting ideas and what it has to say about faith and friendship are great reminders to us all.

Thank you Sue for making this a book club pick and for a great book club discussion.

I heard a little "amen" in Owen's voice when I shouted "I finished" last night.

I heard there is a movie.  Anyone watched it?

Also two very different covers...I prefer the armadillo version myself.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Time flies...

It seems absurd to me that I've not written since the beginning of the month.  I feel like I'm in the middle of about a hundred projects both at school and home.

And so quickly two weeks sped by...

I've been reading A prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and it is taking me forever.  I'm enjoying the story and I've read other Irving titles yet I can't help but feel I'd like to cross out a couple of hundred words for him.  Excellent story though and I constantly feel a little anxious worrying about Owen.

I've been reading it seriously since the beginning of the month which is making me feel a bit book-backed up.  I have a 6th grade group reading Prodigy by Marie Lu and I've fallen way behind them. Two students have already finished and I'm on, like, the 3rd chapter.  What kind of discussion leader will I be?  Hmm.

I also finally got a new copy of The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen that I'm anxious to get back to and finish. {If you're wondering why that's important read here } I have three books I need to read and be ready to discuss with two friends in Arkansas by the time Spring Break rolls around. I have quite a few still checked out from the library and even more recently downloaded from Net Galley.  I also need to read Ghosts of Graylock to see if it is too scary for some of our students.    See what I mean by book-swamped!  I can see the headline: Librarian found buried alive under mountain of her own books!

Reading is not a chore; it's one of my greatest pleasures.  I just need more real time to do it in.  I'm grateful for the books that surround me, the stories they share with me, and the true joy it brings me to discuss books with kids and adults alike.  The laundry and recycling will just have to wait.  I'll be spending my day with Owen.

I hope you find time for all your favorite pleasures on Valentine's Day!