Monday, September 13, 2010

The Library Shelf: Educating Esme

A very real look at a teacher's first year of school. This book is written in diary form so it gives a firsthand account of Esme's first year of teaching a 5th grade class at an inner-city public school. She is a 24 year old teacher with the enthusiasm of a ten year old. She brings a fresh perspective to teaching that doesn't sit well with her principal as she is often rocking the boat, struggling against the bureaucracy.

I loved this book! All of the politics that go along with public school teaching in the US just don't make a whole lot of sense to me sometimes. It is great to read about someone who is willing to go out and buck the system for the betterment of her students.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Can you believe this YUMMY looking cupcake is SOAP? It looks SO good that I wanted to eat it! Brings new meaning to wash your mouth out with soap! LOL

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Break's Over

At least for me that is. DD doesn't start until next Monday.

Summer Break went W-A-Y too fast!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reno Road Trip - July 2010

Here is a slideshow from the recent Reno Road Trip. Just click "Play" and away you go. Turn your speakers up so you can hear the music. There are a few slides that have more journaling than others so you may need to click pause (unless you're a speed reader).

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shirt Refashion

Back from Reno. I'll post pictures soon. Hopefully a lot quicker than the last road trip pictures were posted. ;-)

The night before leaving, I took this man's shirt:

and made it into this cutey:

Very comfy and Very cool! AND....very easy! The hardest part was getting the straps to be the right length (and I'm still not sure I've got it right, but it's good enough for me).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our Favorite Muffins

We are getting ready for another road trip - Reno bound this time and all points in between. An important part of our adventures is snacks. Yes, snacks! We can't be without them. Bringing them with us keeps us from having to purchase them along the way for WAY more money. One of our favorite treats to bring with us is Chocolate Chip Muffins. YUMMY!

I ALWAYS make a double batch of these things. They freeze well. They thaw well. They're just great! Here's our favorite recipe (It says it makes 12, but when I double the receipe I usually come out with at least 30. So, I would guess that the original recipe makes about 15 - math genuis that I am.)

Our Favorite Muffins (adapted from 30-Day Gourmet):

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (When I double the recipe, I still only use 1/2 cup and it turns out just fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz sour cream (I use the lite kind)
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, salt and sour cream, mixing well. All at one time, add flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir until all is moistened and slightly lumpy. Pour into oiled muffin cups (I use Pam). Fill 2/3 full and bake at 350 degress for 20 minutes.

I add 1 cup of chocolate chips, but you could add anything you like, berries, nuts, etc.

I've been wanting to try spice muffins, but we love the chocolate chip ones so much I always talk myself out of it. For spice muffins, with the flour, add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

These are definitely not diet-approved, but hey, we're not eating them every day either.

The dryer has buzzed and that means it's packin' time!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Library Shelf: Ana's Story

Another one already? Yes! LOVE summer time (well, except for the heat and the snakes and the ugly, dry grass and the no paycheck).

Today's book is Ana's Story by Jenna Bush (Yes, THAT Jenna Bush). This book is based on her work with Unicef. It tells the story of Ana's childhood and teen years in Latin America. She was born HIV positive, transmitted from her young mother, who died when she was only 3 years old. She lives with relatives being shuffled from one home to another, to a detention center and a group home for those infected with HIV. Her's is a long, hard journey.

While this is the story of one girl's life, it is also unfortunately the plight of many children throughout the world who are robbed of the innocence and carefree spirit of childhood due to poverty, illness and abuse.

This is a quick read because of the very short chapters, but it is also intense due to the nature of the story. I enjoyed the book, others may not because it is not sugar-coated but a true depiction of reality for so many young people.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Library Shelf: Bud, Not Buddy

Up on the Library Shelf today is "Bud, Not Buddy" by Christopher Paul Curtis.
"Bud, Not Buddy" is a Newberry Medal Winner and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. It's set during the depression of the 1930's in Flint, Michigan. Ten year old Bud, not Buddy, is a motherless boy trying to find his father. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: advertising flyers for a band. Bud decides to hit the road to find him.

The descriptive language makes you feel as if you are there as "a fly on the wall" watching all the goings-on. Some of it even made me laugh out loud.

The hardships of the depression, the Jim Crow laws and discrimination of blacks are entertwined with the journey of Bud through comedic episodes giving a different insight into the life of an orphan on the run.

This book is actually classified as a Young Adult's book, but I think "old" adults would enjoy it too. It's one of the choices given to the middle school students at CAVA to read as part of their literature course. I'm going to be doing online Literature Circles this coming school year. There are quite a few books on the reading lists that I have not read so I figured I'd better get to it if I'm going to be teaching these things. It's a good read!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Adventures in Tie Dye

Yesterday, DD and I tried our hands at tie dying.

Oh What Fun It Was!


We gathered a couple of old whitish shirts.

We mixed up three colors of dye (yellow, red, and blue) and we went to town.

We dunked,
we stirred,
we even syphoned with a straw.
See....look here....

Here's what DD's shirt looks like now:

And, here's mine (I didn't do the multi-color thing):

It's a very pretty blue. I love it! Only one problem. I accidently got a little tiny bit of red dye on it. DARN! I have to figure out how to hide it. Maybe a little bit of embroidery magic will do the trick....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wanna See What We Got?

On Friday, we got a new toy for our Bearded Kitty.

Isn't he the cutest!?!?

He was adopted from in front of Von's. We've wanted a Tiger kitty for a long time and now we have one.

In these pictures, he actually looks big, but he's hiding under the bed and I'm laying flat on the floor so that gives you kind of an idea of how small he really is. Compared to Bearded Kitty OH MY!

Speaking of Bearded Kitty. How does he like his new toy? Well, he was a little apprehensive for the first few minutes......

But, they are becoming fast friends. They chase each other up and down the hallway and tumble around and wrestle and just have a good ole time. Yes, I think Bearded Kitty quite likes his new buddy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

They Paid Me Again!

Today, Rite Aid paid me $1.03 to take home a birthday card, another tube of toothpaste and 2 single scoop ice cream cones!

Lovin' it!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

Rite Aid actually paid me money to take Crest toothpaste home yesterday! Yes, that's right. They paid me 26 cents to take toothpaste off their shelf for me to use in my home.

How'd I do that?

Crest Toothpaste on sale $2.49
UP+ Rewards............- $2.00
Coupon.................- $ .75

Equals.................- $ .26

They ended up owing me money. YIPPEE!!!! LOVE FREE STUFF (especially if it's something that I need and use)!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Library Shelf: Stones into Schools

It's supposed to be Wordless Wednesday, but this is probably the furthest thing from wordless, as the book has 448 pages!

I just looked and my last posting on The Library Shelf was last August. Oh My, that was a long time ago! I told you that I have no time to read for pleasure during the school year. I, myself, even thought I was exaggerating, but I guess that's actually the truth.

So, on the Library Shelf today:

Stones Into Schools:
Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan
by Greg Mortensen

This is a sequel (of sorts) to Greg Mortensen's first book, "Three Cups of Tea".

Several years ago, Greg had a failed attempt to climb the second highest mountain peak in the world, but came to love the people of the countries where he was climbing (Afghanistan and Pakistan).

In his first book, he tells of that "adventure" which included being rescued by the inhabitants of a tiny cliffside village. He bonded with his rescuers and made good on his promise to come back and provide schools for their children, most importantly the girls, who have been forbidden to go to school and learn.

One thing that must be remembered is this is Taliban territory. He has been kidnapped and threatened with death in the pursuit of his cause. Yet, he keeps going back, building more and more schools and bringing knowledge and education to these people. As the subtitle states, he truly believes, "Peace will come through books, not bombs."

In his latest book, he tells of traveling through the remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan with his trusted companions. This is a true account of not only his struggles and triumphs, but those of the citizens of some of the most rugged terrain in the world, all in the quest to get something that we take for granted every day, the opportunity to learn.

The current war in Afghanistan that involves US troops is not a war against the Afghan people, but against the Taliban, who happen to BE in Afghanistan. The majority of the citizens of Afghanistan would like for the Taliban to be gone too.

An enlightening and inspiring book showing just how much one man can do with a lot of sacrafice and determination (and a little help from his friends).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4th of July and Spur of the Moment

We went to the Fresno Grizzlies baseball game on the 4th of July. We went last year too so I guess that's now become our tradition and a great tradition it is. It was an awesome game with some exciting plays! Grizzlies won 5-4.

Afterwards on the 4th, they have the


fireworks show ever. The explosions are all set to music and it is so loud and very close. It looks as if they are exploding on top of you as you watch. It is truly spectacular!

As an unexpected day off became available yesterday, we climbed in the car and headed for Monterey for the day to get out of the heat for a little while. It was really windy there which blew out the fog and made for a beautiful sunny 60 degree afternoon. So nice!

The sea lions are usually hanging out at the fisherman's wharf to get all the goodies off the fishing boats, but they keep getting shooed away. It ended up being a nice surprise for us as they have now gathered right on the rocks/beach at the main pier.

See those brown blobs that look like rocks? Those are ALL sea lions. There were probably over 100 of them there basking in the sun. Those that were in the water were having the time of their lives chasing each other and jumping out of the water. They were having such fun! It was like getting a free show and a real treat for sure!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mini Freezer Cooking Session

Today I did a mini freezer cooking session. No, I didn't cook a mini freezer. It's cooking and preparing things ahead of time to keep in the freezer for easy meals on busy days.

I started doing this type of thing about 15 years ago when DD was a whiney, crying, demanding baby. Thankfully she's grown out of that!

My session today consisted of:
- Making burger patties for hamburgers (for the BBQ)
- Browning ground beef for various recipes
- Making meatballs (Yummy!)
- 2 packs of Tangy Orange Chicken (for the BBQ)
- 2 packs of Teriyaki Chicken (for the BBQ)
- 2 packs of plain chicken for seasoning later with Pappy's or to cook up in the crockpot with mexican seasoning for chicken tacos
- Double batch of spaghetti sauce cooking right now in the crock pot (some of that will be for tonight's dinner along with a few meatballs)

So much better than last summer's meals of rice and beans! What a difference a year makes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Camera = Trip to Yosemite

I got a new camera for an early birthday present so decided to head to Yosemite for a photo shoot to try it out. Mind you that was nearly three weeks ago and I'm just now putting the pictures on my blog for all to see. Why? Because I had to finish the Utah Road Trip posts first, of course.

The waterfalls were amazing. Snowfall late in the year makes for late snow melt, lucky us. The water was roaring over the cliffs, even over some of the trails. We got soaked, and it was AWESOME!

Have to share this picture of DD. Isn't it great? She's sitting on top of the bridge at the bottom of Bridalveil Falls.

Got several shots of some beautiful flowers. Too bad I don't know what kind they are.

Hey, DSis! Look! We made it to Mirror Lake this time!

But, it was WAY too cold and the water was moving WAY too fast so we didn't go swimming on this trip.

Next, we drove to Glacier Point.

It was a crowded place on this fine June day.

From here, you can look straight across to the top of Half Dome.

And, it is BIG!

After seeing it from this angle, DD has decided that she doesn't want to climb it afterall.

Here's the view of Yosemite Falls from this point:

And, here's what the Valley floor looks like from up there:

It is a L-O-N-G W-A-Y D-O-W-N!

I could not watch anybody else get close to the edge. I kept having visions of them going over the side, my grabbing their legs to rescue them and both of us tumbling down - down - down.

That's it from this trip to Yosemite. But, now we have a pass so I'm sure there will be many more during the next year.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Utah Road Trip (Part 2 - Finally!)

Yes, I finally have a life again so I can finish posting the Utah Road Trip pictures. Or maybe I did have a life and that's what kept me from posting and now I have no life so I have time to post. Either way....Here we go....

I had left you at this picture of my poor car.....

Funny, it still looks that way even though I've washed it many times since then. Not really! Now it's covered with bird poop because the silly birds like to sit on the side mirrors to look at themselves. I've resorted to putting plastic bags over the mirrors every time I park.

Now....back to the road trip...

Beautiful Ogden, Utah....It's situated right at the base of these mountains. This is the view from one of the schools.

Another view from another corner.....

And another.......

And another.....

A look at old downtown Ogden....

They have a dinosaur park there.....

but we only got to see it from the car because it was closed being Easter Sunday and all (imagine that).

There's also a train museum......

but it was closed too. We did get to explore all of the trains outside though...

I even got to drive one......

While we were in Utah, we bought a house......

With lots of room....

Overlooking a lake....

Wanna come visit? Too bad. Escrow fell through...Haha.
It's actually The Man's aunt and uncle's house.
And, guess what?
They weren't home so it was closed too. Are you sensing the theme of the day here? Don't try to sightsee on Easter Sunday in Utah.

Next day....On the road again...going back home

Yes, that is a squash buggy (or slug bug).

If you look really close in this next picture, you can see the Great Salt Lake. I can't believe we went all the way to Utah and this is all I got to see of it.

We did get to see the Salt Flats though....

And a lot more of this....

Well, that was it.....The Great Utah Road Trip from April 2010.

Stay tuned for more adventures....