Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's Your Priority?

"The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all:  it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality."
~ H. Mencken

Because this is how I feel today.
Because I never want to allow my standards to fall.
Because I can't say "no".
Because I believe in hard work and sacrifice.
Because thinking takes time and is supposed to be difficult.
Because the learning is in the struggle.
Because through our trials we grow.
Because actions speak louder than words.
Because I have a standard and a priority.

I wonder what would happen if I "was too busy?"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.  It's the life in your years."
~Abraham Lincoln

Not often in life does one come across a person who has conviction and pride and a good old-fashioned sense of right and wrong.  

And then, there is Chad-o.

Happy Birthday, my love.  
Happy, happy Birthday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

You Had Me at Avocado

"Live simply. Expect Little.
Give Much.  Love Extravagantly."

Good evening, friends.  Are you comfy and cozy tonight?  Did you light your candles, take a warm shower and find your favorite blanket?

We did.  Charlie and I, that is.  Chad-o has ventured away on a business trip and us girls have prepared ourselves for the insane windstorm that's kicking up.  And- holy cow- let me say that it's intense out there. Trust me, I know.  The Neighborhood Watch just alerted our phone chain that a blonde woman was recently spotted "swimming" through the air, hair plastered to her face, clad in flannel pajama pants, a worn blue T-shirt and furry boots.  Apparently, she was trying to make off with a rather large trash can and a small, furry, black gremlin-looking creature.


Well, what can I say?  Chad-o was a sweetie and put out the trash before he took off.  I, naturally, undid all of his hard work and brought it back inside.  I had visions of our garbage decorating the lawns and shrubs of the entire neighborhood.  Better safe than sorry, right?

But, seriously, we have more important issues to discuss.  No more talk of wind and garbage.  So unladylike. Please forgive me.

With Chad-o gone, I'm completely bored.  He's an entertaining critter, and without him and his stories and our little games of trivia or kitchen karate, I'm lost.  It's just not fun.  Poor me.

On the flip side, there's nothing like the thought of food and a new, delicious recipe to cheer me up and take my mind off the loneliness.  

So, thanks to some quality time with the internet I spotted an avocado recipe that just sent my heart to high Heaven.  Avocado Chicken Salad, I love you.  I really, really do.  

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad
approx. 2 cups of cooked and shredded chicken breast
lots of avocado
one cereal spoon of mayo
about 5 or 6 shakes of the salt shaker
as much or as little green onion as you like

Mix everything together and put on pita bread or serve with baked tortilla chips (or any other type of carbohydrate delight).

Last, after you have eaten way more that can be rationally justified, crawl under your blanket, adjust the pillow, settle in, try to ignore the howling wind and pray that the power doesn't go out.  I'm alone tonight and I'm afraid of the dark.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Joy of Feta

"The body is the soul's house. Shouldn't we
therefore take care of our house so that it
doesn't fall into ruin?"
- Philo

I woke to 16 degree temperatures today. Burr...

Did you ever notice that the lower the temperature drops the brighter the sun shines?  Crazy, isn't it?

Therefore, in keeping with a little promise to myself and a little goal that I set and a little--I mean big--race that I've signed up for, I donned my long-johns and mittens and hit the snowy, icy streets.

I only wish that I would have had my camera.  The reflection of the sun off the crystallized water created the most magical scene.  

During one particular part of my run I passed an old cemetery, full of crooked tombstones and crumbling statues.  The brilliant sapphire sky created the perfect backdrop, while the snow and ice provided a glittering and sparkling ground cover.  The angle of Mr. Golden's rays provided the perfect balance of shimmer, creating a blanket of diamonds and pearls over the long lost souls.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for picking up  where us mortal beings fall short.


I have a question for ya.  

Is it wrong and/or strange to think about food during my run?  I mean, after the beautiful scene in the cemetery, the aesthetics took a major dive.  

Tomorrow, you see, the students have the day off.  The teachers, sadly, do not.  Since the day will be full of meetings and planning and finishing up grades, we're having a little potluck lunch and I spent the better part of my run thinking about what to make and take.

And... Taa- Da... I chose Greek Hummus Dip.

Oh my goodness is it delicious and healthy and full of nutrients, vitamins and protein.

1 container of classic hummus
1 red pepper, chopped finely
1 cucumber, chopped finely
a bunch of Kalamata olives, chopped
a bunch of chopped, fresh dill
a bunch of feta cheese

Directions:  Spread hummus on bottom of pan to create the first layer.  Pile on the rest of the ingredients, saving the feta and dill for last.  Serve with warm pitas or corn chips.

And then, as if I wasn't way over my feta quota for the weekend, I made this lovely pizza.
(Thank you, sweet Kim, for the recipe!)

As you make your shopping list, please add this:  a jar of  Roasted Garlic Onion Jam from Stonewall Kitchen.
Although the name sounds strange and may cause a few wrinkled noses or furrowed brows, don't, my friends, be fooled.  This stuff is amazing.  I mean, it is absolutely, positively amazing.

Take a few spoonfuls and spread it over a pizza crust (or do like me and use a whole wheat flat bread).
Sprinkle a bunch of feta (or blue cheese) over the top and then bake for 10 minutes or so in a 450 degree oven.

Plan on being alone when you make this.  That way, you can eat the entire thing and avoid that whole sharing concept. (wink)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How Do You Measure a Year in This Life?

"Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Moments so dear
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure - Measure A Year?"
~ from Rent, the musical

* Dear Reader,  

Please enjoy this photo essay and pictorial journey through 2011.  As these pictures are a smattering of the many memories from the past year, you can only imagine the story that goes with each one.  As I reflect, I loose myself in the moments...I hear the sounds, I smell the scents and I feel the love.  What an absolutely fantastic and wonderful year it proved to be.  

The lessons learned continue to inspire me and push me to new heights.  Perhaps the biggest lessons I learned  were these:  I am capable of more than I'll ever realize and nothing great is ever accomplished alone.

To my family, thank you for your endless support in all of my endeavors. Your love, by far, is my greatest gift.

To my friends, who encouraged me and came to my rescue and even let me cry when the goin' got too tough-- thank you. I am blessed by your beautiful spirits.

May 2012 continue to teach, inspire, challenge and motivate us.  As we turn to a new chapter, allow us to embrace our most favorite memories, learn from our difficult ones, and open our hearts to the amazement that awaits us.

Much love,

- Can you say, "snow days?"  
- I finally mastered the art of double-pointed needles.  Huge Event.

- I almost lost my mind due to grad school and working full time.  It was constant studying and work.
- I started a new tradition...valentine lollipops.

- Much to my relief the bulbs I planted the previous fall finally emerged.
- While her PapaBear was away, CT and I walked the bike trail.  She was also introduced to Starbucks and whip cream.

- Our little crew embarked on our biking adventures, which ultimately culminate in a delicious meal.
- The daffodils bloomed.
- I survived by continually repeating this mantra:  "Don't wish it were easier.  Wish you were better."

- Chad-o built the first fire of the season.
- Hello seventh and eighth grade.

- My first trip to Stone Harbor in ten years.  

- Happy 7th Birthday, CT.
- In between summer classes, I manage to enjoy some knitting on the patio.
- Ninja and I celebrate our 3rd anniversary.

- My mom, brother and I spend an incredibly fun day together, starting with food, of course.
- I plant the colias I rooted and take them to my new classroom.

- School is in full swing.  I'm often at Starbucks doing work.
- I blew out 30 birthday candles.

- Fun, food and festivals.

- I began counting the minutes until graduation from grad school.
-We decorate the Thanksgiving tree.

- I graduate from St. Vincent College.  Grad school is officially over!
- The house transforms into a Christmas cottage.
- We take a few fun day trips.

What a blessed 2011.  Here's to an even better 2012.
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