Thursday, September 30, 2010

Simple Pleasure Thursday

My simple pleasure for today is trees in a rainstorm.  I cannot seem to find (and neglected to take) a picture of this phenomenon, but I would imagine people know what I mean.  I love when the wind is blowing, the sky is dark, and the maple trees have flipped over their leaves.  It's one of those old country wisdom tips that I just adore.  Driving home yesterday, there was a whole hillside full of them, and it was gorgeous.  The trees are also just starting to get yellow highlights.  If it's not flooding again tomorrow, I may just get out there and take some pics.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Word of Caution and a Loooong Overdue Post

When we first moved in, my dad warned us about a chunk missing out of our sidewalk.  It's a triangular, about four inches deep and four inches wide.  It actually helps me park my car without going into my neighbor's area.  Well, we've been in the house over a year, and we haven't done anything about it.

I had to put windshield washer fluid in my car on Saturday.  As I went to open the hood of my car, I fell into this crater and slammed the hood on my arm.  This is my arm three days later.  Most of the black is gone, there's still a bit blue, and it's mostly yellow.


So let this be a lesson - do not put off until tomorrow (or next year) what you can do today.  We'll be patching that hole this weekend...

So while I'm talking about home maintenance and taking care of one's self, I took the initiative to turn a night alone into something useful - I finally organized the pantry.

I'm somewhat ashamed at how long it had been since I last cleaned out my pantry.  Because I hadn't cleaned it, I had no idea what we had.  We lost a grocery bag's worth of food.  I know better for next time.  This is what the pantry looks like now:

It's much, much different than it used to be back when we had the blizzard here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The recent changes that have taken place in my house are simply amazing.  I even find it hard to believe from time to time.  But it's true - my house is clean and enjoyable, and has been that way for several days.  I have far less guilt about our living conditions.  It either used to be perpetually messy, or *B* would clean it after a hard day's work.  I can now say that we've done a good job cleaning together (with me doing a more than fair amount of the work).

We got some very inexpensive, festive pumpkins for the fall season.  Wicket liked them so much she decided to look at them while she inhabited our charity clothing basket.  The clothes were put in a box with *B*'s old toys and will be donated tomorrow morning.

The living room is tidy and vacuumed.  The windows are open so that fresh air can come in.  The fans are to keep up the circulation of air.  

The kitchen floor was swept and mopped today.  I cleaned out the fridge a few days ago.  All of the dishes are caught up, and tomorrow's dinner is ready for the stove top.  

Even the cats approve!  Well, as much as they ever do...

Bad Decision?

I sent out the wedding invitations on Tuesday.  We're almost there!  As the wedding is drawing near, I'm starting to question an early decision we made.

When we first discussed wedding plans, we decided not to register.  I've been on my own for three years, *B* on his own (well, with me) for two plus years, and between the two of us, we have all of the necessities for a home.  It made sense then not to register.  In not registering, we were hoping to avoid that awkward "are we asking for something too nice or something too trivial" debate.  There are things I would like that are too much and somewhat unnecessary (Lenox Bellina China - I can't get enough of it), and some things that are practical but seem inappropriate (I'd love better shelves in our pantry).  Now that my grandparents and aunt are starting to ask about gifts, I'm starting to regret our decision.  Instead of having that worry once, we (I) now worry every time someone asks for gift ideas. And now that we're 84 days out (according to, it seems to close to the date to register.

Another of the unending, untold downsides of being cohabitators...

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Big Game

Today was the pep rally for the big homecoming game.  My ears are ringing so badly!  Our freshmen really showed up.  They "stuffed the fence" - shoving over 3000 cups into the fence in our colors with our athletic motto, school logo, and '14.  It was amazing!  More than that, they actually listened to the teachers who lead the freshmen, and created an amazing effect at the rally.  Most kids wore blue, then a select few wore gold.  They stood out and spelled "14".  It was so cool!  So proud!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simple Pleasure Thursday

I'm in that habit, again, of starting four or five posts and not finishing them. Today, this one will be published.

My simple pleasure for today is being entranced by a blog who reminds me of:
"A world where men were men and women were cherished and lovely.... A world of romance and beauty, of tuxedos and chiffon, a perfect world. "  -The Stepford Wives
Okay, not perfect maybe, but a satisfying world.

I've been reading the archives of Destination 1940.  While the blogger hasn't posted since May, her previous posts are fascinating.  In her experiment, she picked up a period housekeeping manual and a menu planning book.  Week by week, she's been adding more chores to her workload.  As I've been reading through, I've started on some of the suggestions.In some respects, she's got me doing more housework than I've done in a while. 

For example, I've started:
  • opening windows as soon as I wake up
  • pulling back the covers to air out the bed
  • making the bed after my shower
  • tidying up each room I leave (e.g. I took DVDs downstairs with me this morning)
  • doing dishes before they pile up
  • caring about how I do my laundry (I'm ashamed to say that I don't even break it down into darks and lights)
It's my hope that to some extent I can adopt some of the housekeeping strategies that she presents in her blog. Never know - maybe I'll have to stop feeling so guilty that *B* does most of the housework :o)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The World Has Gone Crazy

As if things weren't already weird this week, it got weirder.

It's spirit week here at my high school.  Today is student-teacher swap day.  Most kids were party poopers and came as "gym teachers."  The teachers, however, went all out.  Since we have a uniform at my school, many teachers (male and female alike) are wearing the girls' uniform, which is a khaki skirt, a polo, and knee socks.  Of course, they wear it the same way the girls do - untucked, with shorts showing underneath, and sleeves rolled to expose a non-regulation t-shirt.  We do, in general, attempt to discourage this manner of dress.  But then again, it's fun once in a while to josh the kids.

The kids, on the other hand, are going nuts.  Who would have known wearing a uniform (or the inverse) has such an effect on them?  I couldn't get their attention any better if my hair were on fire.  It's as if wearing a ratty t-shirt and sweatpants allows them to plug their ears for the entirety of the day.  NB:  Our gym teachers never dress like that.  They are always well put together, even when in workout clothes.  Not that the kids notice...or care...  :o)

For the rest of the week, we have a TV character day, decades day (I get stuck with the 70s), wacky tacky day, and colors day.  I have yet to decide what to wear, but I will post pictures for the other days.  Posting my school's uniform for today just felt like I'd be overstepping blogger boundaries.

So what do you say?  Any ideas for TV character day?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Germ Factories

I am convinced that if I were a kindergarten teacher, I would never work a day in my life.  That would be because I would be on sick leave every day of my life.  Here I am, teaching older children/young adults, and I still get sick at least once a quarter.  Kids are walking germ factories.

Yesterday started the first round.  It always starts with a sore throat.  Uh oh, here it comes, I think.  And indeed, the next day, I end up as I am now - with congestion, ears itching, teeth hurting, and sore throat.

I do take measures against it.  I wash my hands a few times a day during the school day.  I use purell when I can't get to the bathroom.  Right now, I'm working on getting hydrated (which is a struggle since I hate drinking water).  I generally keep a clean living environment.

Two questions come out of this.  How do you get over these rather annoying bouts of illness?  How do you prevent them to begin with?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finally: The Best White Bread Recipe

I've been struggling with white bread for a long time now.  My brother once found a good recipe for a bread, but when I made it, it was super dense.  I had only used the ingredients list - disregarding the instructions.  It was a gorgeous, sweet bread that I would bake in a bundt pan.  It is great when dips are put in the center of this amazing bread.

But it wasn't everyday sandwich bread.

So I searched and searched for a good sandwich bread.  I tried Italian breads, white breads, but none worked out.  Most of them were too crumbly and fell apart in my hands.

For whatever reason, I went back to the bread recipe my brother found.  When I read the instructions, I found out why it was so dense.  I only let it rise once.    When I truly followed the recipe, trumpets sounded, clouds parted, and life was good.  And now, the recipe.

Amish White Bread

To two cups of warm water, add 2/3 cup of white sugar.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast, stir, and allow to proof.  It takes about ten minutes, until it looks like this:

 Once finished proofing, add 1/4 cup of oil:

And 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt: 

 Mix well.  Then add 6 cups of flour, bit by bit.

 I usually begin by stirring then end up kneading the bread well.

 Oil a bowl, and turn the dough to coat.

I usually put the bowl, uncovered, to rise in a warm-ish oven (turn it on low for 2-3 minutes and turn it off).

 When the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it in two.  

 Quickly kneed and shape each loaf.  Put each in a lightly greased loaf pan. 

 Allow it to rise a second time until the loaf is approximately one inch above the pan.  Then bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Oh my gosh.  Is it ever tasty?!  Take my word for it - it smells amazing and tastes even better.



  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cups bread flour


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
  2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Simple Pleasure Thursday

My simple pleasure for this week is the congregation of butterflies that flutter about when I walk up my front steps.  The sedum next to our steps swarms with them.  Oh, how I love it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mixed Marriages

I've been thinking a lot lately about mixed marriages. I haven't posted on it because I've been a tad afraid of offending someone, somewhere.  Now feels right.  NB:  It is not my intention to offend anyone.  If I do so, it is unintentional.

In the Catholic faith, ours will be a mixed marriage.  Since *B* is not baptized in any Christian church, this also means that our marriage will not be a sacrament for me. When we first met, I had pretty much given up on any kind of church, Christian or not.  I didn't care, then, what he believed in. Yes, I knew he was really into communing with nature as a form of spiritual satisfaction.

When we first talked about getting married, it was a pretty secular proposition.  As plans firmed up, I realized that I wanted to get married in a Catholic church.  I had done everything else thus far, I might as well.  So we found a priest, and we talked about the three questions we will have to agree to in order to be married in the church:  we have to be faithful to each other, believe that marriage is for life, and raise our children in the church.  He also told us that we needed to go through some kind of marriage class (standard procedure).  We had heard bad things about the group sessions, so we chose the sponsor couple route.

At the same time, I had been developing in what I tentatively call my faith.  I'm still a tad nervous and hesitant.  But I wanted *B* to be exposed to the church, so we started going to Mass shortly after our first sponsor couple meeting.  We've now been going just about two months.

I know that I feel better since we started going.  I at least partially attribute my departure from therapy to feeling more fulfilled after attending church.

In the beginning, it made us stronger.  We would go, and make the drive home, feeling happy and restored.  Believe it or not, it soon started causing a bit of a rift between me and *B*.  I started to try to teach *B* some of the things that would happen in Mass.  The sign of the cross, what to say.  He felt...attacked for lack of a better word.  At least he was there, he thought.  True, so I tried to back off.  I just wanted to help.  Then he'd ask questions, trying to better understand.  And I'd excitedly answer them.  I ate them up.  I came to find myself desperately wanting him to become Catholic.  I've never really cared before.  The worst part is, I don't exactly know why I want this so.

Part of it is tradition.  My family is all Catholic, and I don't really see another religion being possible or desirable.  Part of it is that I want the classic idea of the Catholic family:

Despite what reality may be, I imagine a Catholic family to be one in which the kids are try their best, are respectful, and have complete faith (at least while they're young).  I know that what I'm going for is not necessarily based in religion, but when I see it, I feel a tug.

Regardless, *B* says he likes going to church.  He's even going to Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to learn about Catholicism, though he's pretty certain he won't be baptized.  He has no problem bringing our kids up Catholic and even being a source of answers for them when they have questions about the church.  

So what's my problem?  I have no answer for that.  I also can't answer a number of *B*'s questions.  It hasn't bothered me so much that I have some doubts about major tenets of the church.  It does bother *B* that he has the same concerns.  Why would he be baptized in a church with which he doesn't at least mostly agree?  But then again, if he's going to church, participating in church activities, why not go full in and hope that you figure it out along the way?  In the midst of this, I question what tenuous grip I have on being Catholic.  Ugh, right now it's the blind leading the blind.

Though I'm sure I know the answer to this question:  is there any easy way to figure all this out?

A Perfectly Good Waste of a Day

Over the past week or so, I tackled my to-do list.  Yesterday, however, I wasted a perfectly good day.  Or rather, it was a perfectly good waste of a day.

I slept in very late (9:00 am).  I ate leftover Chinese food, watched a season of Stargate: Atlantis, and played computer games.  I did no work.  I had, until the very end of the night, no stress.  I just got to snuggle, space out, and recharge.  I even went to bed early.

It was lovely :o)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Training Your Instincts

Today, we had a fire drill.  It was not unlike other fire drills we've had, except for what happened on the way back into school.  A student dropped his bookbag, stumbled, and passed out.  It was very brief - he woke right up on the sidewalk.  I, of course, had a teacher with a cell phone call the nurse.  But what happened as the nurse was coming was amazing.

A fourteen year old boy took charge of the situation before anyone else could.  He cleared the crowd around him.  He had the student lie down on the grass.  He checked that he could track motion with his eyes.  He checked the student's oral intake for the day.  He had the student talk about what he last remembered happening (he didn't remember passing out).  By the time the nurse arrived, every question she has was answered.

I walked back into school with the student who helped out.  It turns out, he took a first aid training course, and it just came naturally to him.  When he was needed, he just did what had to be done.  Students like this reaffirm my hope for the future.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Real Simple Pleasure Thursday :o)

For the first time in a few months, it feels like simple pleasure Thursday.

I finished therapy yesterday.  I'm done - no more.  It was totally accidental, too.  The last time I went in, I didn't really have much to say.  I hadn't had a panic attack in a long time, I was off my meds, things were good.  So when I went in yesterday, I again had no complaints, nothing to talk about.  The appointment somehow organically morphed into a termination session.

I feel so good - accomplished, confident, and most of all, happy.

Being sane is my simple pleasure :o)