Friday, July 24, 2015

New Year's resolution for a teacher

January never seemed the right time for a resolution for me.  Even though it is the beginning of a calendar year, it falls squarely in the middle of a school year.  Therefore, it is difficult to have the sense of truly starting fresh.  However, the school year is a different story.  With new students and new things to teach, I have a chance to plan a change that might actually happen.  So rather than make a resolution in January, I think August makes more sense.

1. Personal - I resolve not to let myself and my family go health wise.  School is tough, and while I can do a good job getting started with exercise, healthy eating, quitting diet coke, etc.  in the summer, when school starts back it is significantly more difficult.  I do not want to jump back into drinking 5-6 diet cokes a day and eating much less healthy foods because my schedule is tighter.  I think I can keep this, but I have to make these things a priority.  This may require some stress relieving techniques to stay on an even keel, but I think it will be worth it.

2. Professional - I resolve not to have the papers pile up - I will deal with them, file them, and avoid the chaos.  Easier said than done.  However, if I don't tell myself it is only a couple of things at the beginning of the year, I think I can stay on top of it.  I am teaching geometry this year, so I will have papers to grade, but there are only 6 students in the class.  If I can get on top of this with the 6, I should be able to continue the habit as the class gets bigger in future years.

I am only setting one goal in each venue.  I will, however, be working to keep my stress level down and to stay calm and on top of things.  My goals reflect this overall state of being, and I think I should be able to work toward this in future weeks.  We will see whether this way of writing a resolution helps more than doing so in January.  I am thinking it will.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lesson Planning on the Beach

I attended this fabulous workshop with CPALMS - the state run resource for teachers to download meaningful activities with any concept or standard you would teach in a given subject area.  The workshop I attended focused on geometry, and it has done a wonderful job breaking down the standards and really taking geometry to a whole new level.

What's more is that they cover your hotel room, and they actually pay you for attending.  However, you have to submit and work through the revision process on a lesson that will become part of their collection.  On a positive, you et publication credit, as well.  I had written my lesson and submitted it on time, but a week and a half had passed since I had received the corrections, and I was completely stuck.  With the second week of the workshop rapidly approaching and my stress level skyrocketing, I felt frustrated, down, and generally as far from ready to complete the revisions as I could have been.  Staring at the computer, I had almost left the remarks, and I had a flash of inspiration.

I called my boys in the living room, and I asked them to wrap up what they needed to do at home. I let them deck out in swimsuits, I gathered my materials, and we all went to the beach.  While my husband and boys swam and played, I walked in the edge of the water, watched the water and everyone at play, listened to the ocean and the music of the other beachgoers, and began to look over my lesson plan again.  I designed the test at the beach.  And I completed all of the other handouts and revisions when I arrived home.  My writer's block was gone.  I felt refreshed and motivated, and I was able to finish.

The beach was my last ditch effort to find a way to regroup and relax.  They say nature is one of the best things for the human mind, and they recommend it for children, people suffering from depression, etc.  I will say, I am a firm believer, because I have no doubt that if I had not made the beach trip today, I would still be sitting here with nothing done and no ideas.  So take a breath of fresh air and soak in the sun and nature at the beach, in the mountains, or wherever else helps you find your center.  We are far too anchored in our indoor routine, and there is a beautiful world out there waiting to be part of our life again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

Whereas most of the recipes I have posted are true recipes, this one is not really.  However, it is the starting point for what will likely be something far closer to a homemade recipe, so I am posting it as a bit of an evolution.  My younger son's birthday is near the end of August, so I have the luxury of planning and experimenting.  My older son'e birthday falls in April, so he is lucky if we are even in town, as many years that weekend is state competition for Odyssey of the Mind...

Anyway, the younger one's favorite flavors in most things are lemon and blueberry, so I decided to play around and see if I could make a lemon blueberry cake/cupcakes in a relatively simple fashion.  Ordinarily, unless there is a really good reason to do otherwise, I tend to use a cake mix for the cake itself.  Most often people cannot tell the difference, as the cake mixes tend to be fairly good.  I will often opt for the butter recipe mixes or other moist mixes.  This one is the Betty Crocker Super Moist Lemon Cake mix.  I will likely use this, even for the final cake, as it was quite good.

I usually have a pet peeve about frostings, however.  I almost always make the frosting from scratch because most canned frostings taste like preservatives.  However, when I decided how this cake should come together, I wanted to use cream cheese frosting, and I ended up with a can of it at some point, so I decided that while I was experimenting, I would use that.  (For his birthday, I will have homemade.

I did use fresh blueberries.  They are at the peak of their season and were running $1.50 per pint last week, so we had a bunch.

To see whether this would work, I made the cake batter according to the box, stirred in half a pint of blueberries, and filled the cupcake wrappers to about half to two-thirds full.  I baked the cupcakes and frosted with cream cheese frosting, decorating each with one fresh blueberry on top.  Everyone enjoyed them, and my younger one does want a lemon blueberry cake for his birthday.

The tentative plan for the cake - he would like a minion shaped layer cake.  He joked, asking if I could put a layer of blueberries under the frosting.  I explained that would not work, because they would roll off, but since it will be layers, I offered to put a layer of blueberry compote between the layers, so it gets that extra burst of blueberry.  He sounded quite excited about that idea.  I am thinking one round and two square pans (the round halves will layer with each other) so I am not sure whether to go with one or two mixes.  I will now start figuring out the details so I can make this work.  He did ask why I made them now with his birthday a month and a half away.  I explained that I didn't want it too close, because he might not enjoy it as much if he had just had it.  He nodded and declared that made a lot of sense.  I will post more once the cake has taken form...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

New quiche recipe with pears and gorgonzola cheese

A couple of years ago, one of the moms at school made us lunch.  She made a variety of quiches and a salad and dessert.  One quiche which was particularly good was a pear gorgonzola quiche, so I decided to try to find one on the internet.  I found a recipe for caramelized pear and gorgonzola quiche at

The recipe called for a large shallot, which I could not find in the grocery store today, so I substituted half a small Vidalia onion.  It also called for thyme, which I realized I did not have as I was cooking, so I substituted nutmeg, as it seemed to fit well.  Here is what I actually used:

2 strips of bacon cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 small Vidalia onion diced (Or 1/4 large sweet onion, diced)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 pears, peeled, cored, & cut into bite-sized pieces
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup half & half
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese

Because the boys are allergic to nuts, I just used a store-bought pie crust.  When I make quiche, I always get deep dish crusts, because every time I have made a quiche in a traditional crust, it has been full to overflowing. This quiche was full to the top in a deep dish crust, so I strongly recommend that you use a deeper dish crust, whether made from your own recipe or store bought.

Heat the oven to 375.  Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and cook the bacon and onions till the onions are softening.  Add the butter, melt it, then add the brown sugar and cook it into the rest.  Then add the pears. Saute until tender.  I cooked a little beyond, and the pear juice mixed nicely with the butter, etc.  Beat the eggs then add the half and half and cheese and stir together.  Add the contents of the frying pan, then the nutmeg and mix all together.  Pour into your crust and bake until firm in center and golden brown.  Mine never became a true golden brown like I have come to expect from Lorraine, probably because there is not the layer of cheese that toasts nicely on the top of Quiche Lorraine.  It took around 40-45 minutes to fully cook.

Everyone in my family liked it, including my older son who does not usually like blue cheese or gorgonzola.  I think the combination of flavors worked well.