Monday, July 1, 2013

Clever Cookies

This is maybe my 4th cooking/baking post on here but I daresay it will definitely be my best.

I have one cabinet in my kitchen devoted to holding JUST the ingredients for the following recipe. I make sure that I am always stocked with these ingredients for the most wonderful chocolate chip cookies in the world:

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened (one stick and a half...but Jay made them once with a stick and 3/4...and they were good too)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat your stone-age oven with no digital display or beeping sounds to 350 degrees

2. In the neat stainless steel bowls your mom got you for your birthday, cream together butter (that you microwaved for 1 minute) and sugars until fluffy and light in color.

3. Add 1 egg and vanilla and keep on' mixin'

The next part gets kind of messy, so be sure you use the lid with a hole in the top to cover your bowl. It's for a stand mixer but you don't mess around with that shit in your kitchen.

4. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt

5. Scrape the sides with a bowl scraper to incorporate the flour into the mix

YOU'RE DONE! EAT IT NOW! what you will want to say to yourself. But have faith, the hard parts are over and it will only get more delicious from here.

6. Stir in those delicious chocolate morsels that you've been eating out of the bag since we started.

YOU'RE DONE! EAT IT NOW!...and you will. You are allowed ONE tablespoon of dough, and then you have to restrain more and...okay, just ONE more...

7. Use the tablespoon that's still dripping with your saliva and drop the dough onto the foil-lined baking sheet (because dishwashers are for rich people)

There are 34 cookies there. If you wanted it to be an even 3 dozen, you could be a little more careful with your dollop-sizes. OR you could ball them up with your hands like a savage and put them on the sheet. But aint nobody got time for that.

8. Bake for 10-ish minutes. They should be BARELY golden brown around the edges. DON'T bake longer than 10 minutes.

9. Take them out when they're done. Let them cool on the pan, then transfer them to the one cooling rack you have and then your flipped-over pizza pan. Because it's really the same thing.

10. Don't eat them all...seriously. Take it slow.

Love from the Flanagan-Rudd kitchen!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Perils of Dieting

Jay and I have made a focused effort to lose weight. We're not terribly overweight people, but each of us has a spare tire that we'd like to see melt away using some simplified diet with minimal exercise.

Enter: The 3-Day Military Diet. The author (who heard about the diet from a "military gentleman" who spoke at her church) claimed that this diet would help you lose 10 pounds in 3 days. I had pinned this to my board a few weeks back, just to see what kind of food such a diet would require. Turns out, it's not a lot and it's all kind of bland. 

Just to be clear, I knew that this kind of weight loss was risky (and provided no science to back it up - other than the claim that chemical reaction of the food would allow for a faster metabolism). 10 pounds in 3 days is not natural, right? I mean, I've been the same weight for years. I thought about just working on my core, thighs and arms with exercise, but where's the adventure in that? I know exercise works...I just don't want to do it.

SO, in our lazy endeavor to become thinner, [and for science] we foraged at Kroger for the exact right food we needed and sallied forth on Monday for three days of torment. 

Day 1
Breakfast--1/2 Grapefruit, 1 Slice of Toast, 2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter, and Coffee or Tea

This might not have been so bad if Kroger produce team members knew what a grapefruit was. They had no grapefruits, and we mistakenly bought oranges instead. So now we have 4 oranges sliced up in the fridge until we can eat them. We substituted the grapefruit for one glass of water with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.

Awesome. It tasted like alka-seltzer-vomit. You know what I'm talking about. We each ate half an orange and, voila! Grapefruit equivalent apparently.

Lunch--1/2 Cup of Tuna, 1 Slice of Toast, and Coffee or Tea (any brew, as long as it's caffeinated)

That's a whole can of tuna per person by the way, which is as much as we usually eat. So it was like having an open-faced tuna sandwich. YAY!

Dinner--3 ounces of any type of meat, 1 Cup of Green Beans, 1/2 Banana, 1 Small Apple, and 1 Cup of Vanilla Ice Cream 

By far the best meal of the day. When I was a kid I used to have banana and ice cream on shortbread because I didn't think I liked strawberries or whipped cream, so this was a welcome treat.

I laid down to go to bed on Monday night, and realized...

I was hungry. Really hungry. I hadn't snacked on anything the entire day and I was learning 
that much of my daily intake is snacking. I stayed up late with Jay, contemplating the 
consequences of my actions, waiting for breakfast, which was sort of disappointing.

***Side note - The website (that does not list its credentials anywhere, by the way. I know. Hypocritical English teacher not checking her sources) suggests drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water. So that's what we were doing all throughout that day in addition to the coffee and tea. After sharing this on Facebook, I was mostly met with concern from friends who actually know how their bodies work.

It was not hydration. It was potentially hyponatremia, which is overhydration and that's 
bad news. So I've cut it down to 64 oz a day, which is the recommended amount.

Back to the diet.

Day 2
Breakfast--1 egg, 1 Slice of Toast, and 1/2 Banana

Put the egg on the toast and wolfed down the banana. You may notice that coffee and tea are not included from here on. Only water. So what, right?

Water is boring. It's life-sustaining and amazing, but it tastes boring. I tried adding lime juice to it but it just makes it cloudy and funky. It wouldn't be so bad if I could also make myself a cup of tea or coffee...but I can't.

At this point I was learning that I dislike being restricted from what I can eat. Even if I don't necessarily want to eat something, I suddenly desire it because I can't have it.  I was suddenly struck with wanting a doughnut. I normally have doughnuts maybe once every few months when they are suddenly available at an event. But in my state of hunger I keep thinking, "I could just go out to Beck's and get a doughnut. I'm an adult. I have money. I can do that if I want to." That continues to be the most difficult part of the diet. Knowing that I can...but I can't.

Lunch--1 Cup of Cottage Cheese (Or 1 Slice of Cheddar Cheese), 1 Hard Boiled Egg, and 5 Saltine Crackers

Don't like cottage cheese. Put the slice of cheddar cheese on the crackers and ate the egg on its own. Jay made little saltine/cheese/egg things which was smart.

By then we were both getting hangry (anger brought on by hunger). We were short with each other and irritable. I knew it was going to happen. I'm actually surprised that it took that long for our inner two-year-olds to come out.

I took a mid-day nap in between lunch and dinner because I didn't want to be awake while I wasn't able to that. And here it is again: I didn't want to be awake while I wasn't able to eat. That's something Homer Simpson would say. That's sad. I KNOW it's sad. But not being allowed to eat ANYthing was stressful. And that's even sadder.

Dinner--2 Hot Dogs, (no buns), 1 Cup of Broccoli, 1/2 Cup of Carrots, 1/2 Banana, and 1/2 Cup of Vanilla Ice Cream

This was delicious and a welcome meal after a rough day.

The problem was...we were still hungry. It's amazing how the mere knowledge that we wouldn't be able to eat until breakfast the next day turned us against one another. We didn't full-on fight but there was tension:

I know he's hungry, because I'm hungry...but I want to complain to someone...but just bringing it up will remind him that he's hungry if he's forgotten about it...GOD I'm hungry!

We lazed around a lot this day. Jay seemed to be at a normal energy level but I definitely was not. I don't know if it was my shameful nap, but I was definitely weaker than usual. My mind wasn't functioning properly, and my speech felt kind of slurred. 

We each did a light work-out and then hit the pillows pretty hard that night.

Day 3
Breakfast--5 Saltine Crackers, 1 Slice of Cheddar Cheese, and 1 Small Apple

The author provided a big list of substitutions (that may not provide the same results). We looked at the regularly because I was not about to just eat a slice of cheese for breakfast. We substituted the cheese with 2 hard-boiled eggs. It was mediocre.

We took a nap. We. Took. A. Nap. At. 10:00. In. The. Morning. And we felt that we needed it. We were completely exhausted, just from waking up and eating. Jay was finally at my level of tired.

But then...

Sudden burst of energy! We went into the basement to try and clear it up (lots of boxes that were empty and lots of extra stuff that had no place when we moved). We encountered a hornet's nest in between the wood and the siding.

Jay sprayed it with Raid. We decided the basement could wait.

Lunch-1 Hard-Boiled Egg, and 1 Slice of Toast

I substituted  the egg with 5 oz of a Slim-Fast shake (I have those because I drink them for breakfast on early mornings. My stomach can't handle anything to heavy if it's still waking up). 

We went into town to kill time (and get shelves for that basement I mentioned earlier). Got home about 2 hours later, disappointed that we couldn't kill more time because, as I mentioned before, awake and unable to eat anything is apparently harder to handle than we thought.

The hardest part about leaving the apartment was that there was FOOD. EVERYWHERE. It's so easy to say, "Hey, wanna get something to eat?...Want Starbucks? Fries? A burger? A wrap?" We had to be really strong. Going into Target I was face-to-face with a Meg-sized sign of a Starbucks Frappucino. And it looked so good.

When we finally got home, we were wiped...again. We had every intention of going back into the basement and getting the mess that was once contained to a corner, and was now spread out, at least onto the shelves, but we didn't feel that we were physically capable. 

This isn't the normal laziness talking, either. Our bodies were feeling really strained. Jay napped and I Internet-ed.

We finally made it to...

Dinner--1 Cup of Tuna, 1/2 of a Banana, and 1 Cup of Vanilla Ice Cream

That's 2 cans of tuna each, ladies and gentlemen, and you bet your asses I put mayo in mine. Jay added mustard. Because tuna is not meant to be eaten alone like that. The ice cream and bananas, as always, was good.

Sleeping that night was like trying to sleep on Christmas Eve. There were visions of eggs and ketchup and toast and bacon and coffee dancing in my head. And just like Christmas day, there was a surprise when I woke up. Jay brought me the first 3 things in bed and it. was. amazing

So the diet is over. Total weight loss for me? Probably 5 pounds total, but I bet it all came back today. I'm meant to be at my weight, I guess. Jay lost the 10 for sure. The hard part for both of us will be to keep it off and to tone ourselves...

...which we should have just been doing in the first place.

Today we've eaten about as much as we had in the last three days, but it's not nearly as stressful between meals. We had choices again. We went to Subway and were just careful about what and how much we chose. I think that's the key.

Did we further science with this little adventure? I'm gonna go ahead and say "yes...but at what cost?" Probably my short-term well-being and health, but who really pays attention to that stuff anyway?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Positive Notes

I was out from school most of this week. The flu got to me. Note to self: Get the flu shot. Always. Get. The flu shot.

In trying to think more positively (and when you're a teacher out sick, it's HARD to think positively), I'll share with you one of the more "smiley" moments of my forced weekend:

Greedo was my constant guardian while I lived on the couch staring into the watery abyss of my humidifier (okay, so I caught way up on "Parenthood," sue me).

I was having a sandwich and some ginger ale yesterday when he stretched out in my lap. I set my sandwich down on the coffee table.

He carefully reached out...placed his paw on the table...

...and fell asleep.

I kid you not, that cat is 100% asleep. He strove for the gold and then gave up. There's even HAM in that sandwich! HAM!

I feel like there's an allegory in there somewhere, but I just can't reach it. It's like a ham and cheese sandwich and I'm a sleepy kitty.

Going to back to school tomorrow only to leave again and head to a conference: "Reducing Recurring Behavior Problems with Difficult, Disruptive and Non-Compliant Students: Strategies that Work." They probably could have come up with a snazzier title, but I love the honesty it invokes:
"Do you have some jerky kids in your classroom?"
"Omigod yes!"
"Then YOU need to come down to Springfield and learn how to help them be useful and awesome people!"
"On my way!"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reflect and Resolve

It's January 1st 2013.

I've been a high school teacher for 147 days.

I've been a cat owner for 195 days.

I've been living in a place independent of roommates for 163 days.

I've laughed and cried and smiled and loved with this man for 431 days.

I've been in California for 10 days.

In 2013 I will try to...

...only accept positive thoughts and thus only speak positive words.
...listen to others with my whole self and not just my ears.
...explore a faith in order to one day call it "mine."
...become more flexible in body and in mind.
...learn to endure in body and in spirit.
...look at the world with interest and wonder instead of judgement and cynicism.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Out Of Shawshank

I've been trying to describe how wonderful it has been coming from student teaching to teaching professionally. It's like having new-found freedom that I didn't even know existed. The first few times I tried to log-in to the online grading system, I very nearly texted my old cooperating teachers to see if they were already logged in or not. The text would have been in vain because I have my OWN Skyward account, username and password now.

When I go to add grades I'm still kind of gun-shy because I forget these are all MY students in MY classroom where I get to make the of those decisions being making the call on what student/classes need an extension and what student/classes have abused the time given to them.

I DO answer to a higher authority, but that higher authority has hired me on the basis that they trust I will do my job well, otherwise I wouldn't be here. That's definitely something I need to keep reminding myself of. I am teaching at this school because I was invited to. They saw a good teacher in me and asked me to teach 120 of their 2,000 students.

I'm having a blast! I brought home an entire BOX of grading because I hate myself I guess, but I'm still managing my own assessment "calendar" you could say.

UHigh was lightyears away from what a regular high school is. I kept saying it wasn't, but little things set it apart. For example: I had a student in my class yesterday who was wearing his hat during class. It never once even crossed my mind that that wasn't okay. Another teacher came in to give me something and she noticed, got his attention and touched her head. I apologized to him, saying I should have said something first. Dress code. Huh. Forgot those were a thing.

I was sharing some of these thoughts with my department head, about how I'm still second-guessing myself because I'm still used to being a guest in someone else's classroom. She said, "It's like that scene in Shawshank Redemption where Morgan Freeman is working in a grocery store and he asks his manager if he can go to the bathroom. And his manager says 'You don't have to ask'"

It's exactly like that.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sweet, Sweet Sugar

If you know me, you know I have a major sweet tooth. Ever since we moved, we've been whipping up whatever food we can make with whatever we have. Nothing fancy, just realizing the many uses of Ritz crackers as a base for snacks, adding fruit to ice cream, seasoning the bejeezus out of meat-items and then eating them.

Seeing as we were out of cookies (and had been for some time) I decided to make some oatmeal pecan ones. I found a recipe for oatmeal cookies that didn't call for flour (because I'm out) and then added pecans that I have randomly. They're not awesome, but they're sweet, warm and gooey and that's all I need.

Jay just cleaned the stove today...good thing too, otherwise this shot would have looked awful.

One tablespoon of "batter" makes good on one uneven cookie

Pecans probably should have been chopped first. Hindsight's 20/20

Have a recipe!

Like I said, not awesome, but they're pretty tasty

Monday, July 23, 2012

We've Moved!

We finally did it! We're all out of the old apartment and we're in the new place.

Let's name off all the fancy, grown-up things that we have now:

-Dining room
-Private bathroom
-Freedom to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom sans pants

Now let's look at some pictures!
Note: These were taken around 3:00 on Sunday, the day after we got everything moved in. We've made a few more strides since then, except for the office. That's sort of become the room where we put all of the stuff that didn't go in any of the other rooms.

Here's the kitchen. Yep, the whole thing. It's smallish, but it's mine and I love it. Also there are ants, but they're temporary.

No cabinets on one side, I have open shelving up here and down below the counter, but I like the openness of it all.

Dining room...and a table that we sit at and eat food. It's kind of plain right now, we might get a hutch in there and maybe some wall hangings.

Left side of the living room from the dining room. All of Jay's graphic novels are in that antique bookshelf. There's a TV stand to the right of it now with the TV on it.

We're very excited, very sore and very tired. Moving sucks. But it's worth it.