The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. -Proverbs 1:7

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.-Proverbs 4:7

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Goals #1

I used to be really good at setting and achieving goals.  I either got tired or lazy, because mostly I've just been thinking about goals as I've aimlessly wandered over the past couple of years.

It's fall, back-to-school and the perfect time to get back on that train.

So, in that spirit...

Goal #1:  Start cooking again.  I'm not trying to get crazy with it, just get with it enough that we have some kind of dinner every night that comes from my kitchen.  This goal has an associated challenge.  I put us on a strict food budget (due to calculating how much money we spent on food in the last 30 days...appalling).  I determined the budget by trying to figure out how much money we would get in SNAP benefits.  Trying to figure that out for Maryland was a no-go.  The closest I could determine from other state calculators is we would receive $668. per month.  Honestly?  I think that's a lot. I dropped us down to $400 per month.  While Ryan is doubtful I can do it, I know how to cook, I have access to several grocery stores (financially poor people often don't), I have a stocked pantry and I'm creative.

In terms of actual cooking, I started with dinner last week.  Going to add lunch this week.  Breakfast the next.  Breakfast is hard.  Because I'm not a morning person and I get up and leave way to early.

So far, so good on the budget part.  I had $32.67 leftover from last week.

I should probably be upfront (for you people who are wondering "Does she think those meals are healthy options?") about the fact I'm not even really thinking about nutrition at this point.  I'm rationalizing that with the basic understanding nearly anything I could make is better than any of the take-out options and overly processed shortcuts we've been relying on.  I will say I didn't make anything out of a box this week.  Actual cooking.  :-)

Monday: Corn chowder with a kale salad and fresh pumpernickel bread

Tuesday: Beef and black bean burrito with garden tomatoes and avocado
Wednesday: Salmon patties, rice pilaf (I can successfully hide all kinds of good stuff in there. :-)  ) and peas

Thursday: Grilled kielbasa with onions, mushrooms and bell peppers

I decided Friday nights are going to be "breakfast for dinner" nights.  The decision came after I took a 4.5 hour nap in the middle of the day (after school) and wasn't feeling like I could be bothered with cooking anything (by then it was 9 at night).  I'm pretty brain-dead by the time Friday night rolls up and my kids never complain about breakfast for dinner.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Growing stuff...

1st day of 11th grade and clearly not wanting to be photographed.  Back in the day, I'd have a zillion shots to choose from.  Now?  Just one.  If I'm lucky.  It hit me this morning, when I was writing the check for school pictures, this is the last year of school pictures for her.  Hmmm....:-(

On his way to 7th some point boys figure out that stripes and plaid do not go together, right?  I went to work when he went to K, so I've never been home for the first day of school pictures and whatnot.  When he was young, and I cared about such things, I'd ask Ryan "Did you look at him before he left the house?"  Yeah...don't care anymore.  Even if it's stripes and plaid together and I know half the parents at drop-off probably felt sorry for him for not having a mother who made it her business to halt such fashion atrocities.

Remember that hydroponic garden?  It grew.  We have a full crop of basil and petunias growing in the basement.  And that purple plant I don't know the name of.

Hmm...he's got the same shirt on.  See note above.

This crazy (not hot like it's supposed to be) August has not been good for ripening tomatoes.  Suddenly, we've had a couple of warm days and are back in business.

If we could live on peppers, we'd be set.  It's the only thing other than the peas I got a bumper crop of.
Getting ready to plant the fall/winter garden.  Maybe, I'll have better luck with that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to the Grind

Technically, the real world kicked back in last week.  I typically need a week to come out of denial and get with the program.  Not sure I'm all the way there, but progress has been made.
One of the few things I'm growing that isn't shameful.  Aurora peppers from Seed Savers.  Pretty, huh?

Just for grins, we tallied up how much I spent on food in the last 30 days.  Talk about shameful...  It's so embarrassing I'm not even going to tell you.  Granted, we took that trip out to Chicago and lolly-gagged around going and coming, I entertained once, I bought a ton of food when we went to the beach for that week and I bought mostly local food, but still...  So, back to cooking (which is probably the real issue...I wasn't all that consistent about cooking over the summer). 

In a perfect world, we'd get back to eating vegan (because we don't feel good), but that takes planning and whatnot.  Maybe, next week.  I also put us on a strict food budget.  Be prepared for the minutia of how I manage to feed us nutritious meals for not a lot of money.  More to come on that.


I took off 7 weeks in the summer from studying.  (Granted, I was studying other things, because taking time off left a strange hole in that part of my world and I couldn't deal with it being there.  I know...I have issues.)  The Doctorate thing started back up last week. was HARD to get back on that train.  So hard.  Who knew?  A week in, I'm still not there.  But...the thing about that train is that it keeps on moving.  Wanna know what isn't exciting?  Education law.  Most of it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  Wanna know who creates education law?  People who have never taught anyone ever.
Lastly...I moved into a new school.  I didn't move schools, they built us a new one.  If you didn't visit me in the old location, you really won't have any appreciation of this new situation.  AMAZING.  I spent the first day just looking at everything (mostly only in my's amazing).  The rest of the building?  The place is huge.  My main room (Technology Education) is on the first floor.  I'm teaching a foods class on the second floor.  I found that second room after 3 days.  :-)

Are you looking at these Betty?  (Hopefully, I'll get you better pictures with time.  Everything is still not completely finished/set up.)

They gave us Promethean boards.  For the first time ever in my teaching career (This will be my 8th year.) I will have the capability of projecting something.  Wanna know how hard it is to teach when you can't project?  It's hard.

I'm really not all that crazy about having a back door that essentially leads to the street, but....

Having the patio out there is a good trade-off.  Tell me this set-up isn't awesome?  This is the "Tech. Ed. Patio".  All three rooms open up to it.  There is seating for all three classes.  We can take them out to lecture, do demonstrations, whatever...  

This is what one end looks like...

And this is the other.... 

With the exception of the street access part, I am loving this.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

OC 2013.2

The Boardwalk at Night

(Because I don't think I've ever taken pictures out there at night.)
The place where we stay is only a few steps from the boardwalk.  Needless to say, this fact is probably the part my kids enjoy most.


Just built that day.

We helped build this one when we were there in May.  I was surprised to see it was still there.


OC 2013.1

Here's the deal:  I didn't take a million pictures.  Because they look the same to me year after year.  Because we do the same things: cook and feed people, sort out/store/distribute food from the food bank, build a sand sculpture, do outreach, go to service, eat, eat, eat some more...  Just go back to the previous two Augusts and look at those pictures and that was our week, this week.

So, just a few shots for my grandma to look at:

True Story:  I don't really like the beach.  I don't like the way it smells and I don't like sand.  The only time I'll really go out there is early in the morning or late at night.  I was hoping to see the sun rise on this morning, but it was too cloudy.

Alicia and Selena.  Selena reminds me very much of one of my best friends.

The best part of these trips are the people we are with.  Each year brings a new person or two I get the privilege of knowing.  The kind of knowing that comes from a week of living together in a small apartment; eating, working, playing, worshiping...  There are not enough words to describe the value I find in such things.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Road Trippin' 2013.4

The Journey Back Home


Here's the thing...people tell me all the time "You should eat here."  We never do.  Mostly, because I forget about it and by the time I remember, we've either just eaten or we are in a hurry.  This time, the timing was perfect when we came up on it.  However, there will be no review.  Because we stood by the door waiting to be seated for 10 minutes while the waitstaff occasionally looked at us.  I made us leave. 

I think I've probably been living on the east coast too long.  People (and the way they do things) vary regionally.  For example, I noticed people in Chicago talk really loudly.  East coast people operate very efficiently and fast.  (I complain all the time about the speed of life around here.  Just slow down, y'know?  Life is not a race.)  Turns out, I've grown impatient with slow.  I guess there is probably some service nuance related to region I probably don't get and the whole Hen House experience annoyed me.  Not to say I won't try it again, I just didn't have the patience for it on that day.

Indiana is one of those skinny states I'm glad for after/before driving all day through Ohio.  We usually just drive through it.  This time, took a detour to see a cave.  I think it is maybe the only cave tour I've taken that required a boat. Although, it seems like I remember taking a boat through a cave in Branson nearly 30 years ago?  Grandma Pat told me I didn't, though. :-)


The idea was to dip south of Indianapolis for 90 miles, cut across-ish to Cincinnati and go back through Ohio to get home.  The map on the cave brochure was pretty clear about that.  We just put "home" in the GPS and I assumed it would take us back through Ohio.  There was a moment when we were going south for 20 miles that I vaguely wondered "Hmm....going south for 20 miles just to go back north?" 

I don't even know where this church/courthouse/whatever is...but I thought it was nice to look at.  I do know I took this picture right before I realized we were not going home through Ohio.  (Right before all Hell broke loose in my disgust the GPS wanted to take us along the scenic route...along a river through West Virginia where you just see unincorporated town after unincorporated town for hours and hours until you come out on the other side.  Ummm...did that about 15 years ago.  Once was enough.  Made some adjustments and got that worked out before we were committed.  Thank God.

Soo...We came home from Chicago to Maryland via Kentucky.  :-)  Honestly, even though it added a couple of hours to the trip, I'd go that way again.  Because, truthfully, the drive across Ohio sucks.  It's long.  The land is flat.  There is nothing to look at.  And we've made that drive a zillion times.  At least, Kentucky is pretty.

I didn't take any pictures in West Virginia.  I should have taken one...the GPS told us to leave the highway.  We did.  We followed all the directions for the half dozen turns on side streets and were kind of wondering "What the heck?"  Then we heard "You have arrived at your destination on the right."  McDonald's.  Ryan was annoyed.  I was laughing and laughing.  Mostly, because I complain about the uselessness of that contraption frequently.

I love the fact Maryland welcomes with huge displays of the state flower.

In general, I consider Maryland to be near the bottom of the list when it comes to places I've lived and geographic interest/beauty.  However, I will admit it is pretty at the far west of the state.  The rest, not so terms of breathtaking. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Road Trippin' 2013.3

Starved Rock State Park

The resort was nearly across the street from Starved Rock and we almost didn't even go see it.  Can you believe that?  The thing is, there is only so much time.  I had anticipated hiking back into the woods to see all the waterfalls and whatnot.  That didn't happen.  I was reassured by a sign in the visitors center that told me the waterfalls were not that splendid due to lack of rain.  So, there you have it.  We looked at the visitors center and we took a paddle boat ride.  Ryan and Jac wanted to go out on the river again and stayed longer to go canoeing.
Starved Rock has an extensive Native American history with several tribes represented.  If we would have had more time, I would have looked further into that.


So, this sign totally cracks me up.  I mean, I don't find it funny the animals were hit by cars or poached, just the fact they made a sign about their origination.  It did make for an interesting game of "So was the screech owl hit by a car or poached?"  How do you hit an owl with a car?  Why would anyone poach an owl?  At any rate, I'm guessing the sign maker didn't intend for me to be so amused.  I was.

Canadian geese on the Illinois River.

Starved Rock, itself.

Illinois River




If you were wondering what we ate during the reunion, this is it.  O.K.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  My brother drove from Maryland and showed up with a keg of beer (that got consumed on the first night), a refrigerator to house the keg (and a hand truck to transport the whole thing) and his deep fryer.  You might be wondering "Who does that?"  My brother.  This is only a small sampling of the deep frying that was going on.  I should have taken a picture of the table.  If you can gain 10 lbs in a weekend, you might as well...right?
This last picture...ummm????  If you've never been to the midwest, this is what you should know:  Outside of the couple cities there, there isn't a whole lot going on.  I determined the town of Utica either has a lack of ordinances regarding the names of businesses or whoever governs such things is just not as hip as me.  There was another shop called "Pothead".  Aside from the logistical issues of how this was allowed to happen...WHY?  It makes you wonder about the thought process of the owners when they were brainstorming names.  Why would anyone think that would be a good reference for a place that sells things to eat.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about....1.  You fall in the "not as hip as me" category (even though the reference has been around several years).  2.  You don't want to know.  Just carry on.  For the rest of you...want a cupcake?  Blech.