Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Here kitty kitty...

Where I live, there are a few homeless cats wandering around. I guess people just dump them outside when they move away and leave them to fend for themselves. Without climbing up on to my soapbox about such hideous thoughtlessness, the cats seem to be at least finding something to eat and have adjusted alright to their new life outdoors. All except for the new kid. I've seen him the last few days and he's pitiful, poor fella. He just sits looking around and meowing.

I was out walking this evening and every time I looked around, New Kid was behind me. Following me. Looking at me with those sad little eyes. It was more than this girl could stand. All I kept thinking was, "Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me." I even called Mom to see if she thought that verse applied to animals. If this was a test of my faith and compassion, I didn't want to blow it. (Have I ever mentioned that I'm a weirdo who overthinks nearly everything? If I haven't, now's a good time.)

I couldn't take it. I cut my walk short, fired up ol' Mitzy, bought two cans of cat food at the gas station, and proceeded to climb through the woods calling for New Kid. I was about to give up because I was running out of daylight, but I finally heard him. New Kid was answering me. I couldn't convince him to come to me, so I left his food for him. I hope he found it. I hope that $0.89 can of Tuna Delight was the best meal he's ever eaten. I hope it made New Kid feel (at least momentarily) better about his new life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Utter trash

The only people who knew this about me before today were family members. They have no choice but to love me, no matter what weird stuff I get tied up in. After admitting this to two friends at work today, I'm ready to come totally clean. I look forward to something every week that is best described as complete and utter garbage:

Jersey Shore. It's such a pointless show, and certainly does not contribute to my "betterment" as a human being. Doesn't matter though, because not only do I not change the channel, I seek it out! Since the trainwreck airs on Thursdays, tonight (unfortunately) is not the night. I think I may sew instead to fill up my time, you know, after I complete my GTL routine. You think the guidettes from Jersey Shore have spent much time with a sewing machine? I'm gonna go with a resounding NO.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Publix's #1 fan

I set out to do a little stocking up at Publix yesterday and was most delighted with the results. This may just be my biggest haul (and biggest savings) yet...

Total before coupons/store deals: $79.68

Total after coupons/store deals: $40.70

(Total savings: $38.98)

I was the most excited about the 8 cans of soup I got for $7.16...they were Buy One, Get One Free and I had some coupons. Now, what I'm going to do with 8 cans of soup? Not sure. My grandbabies can probably help me finish them off someday. Seeing all that Progresso soup in my buggy took me back to my dorm days, when I lived off of Progresso and Lean Cuisines. At least it wasn't Ramen noodles and pizza!

I was also pretty thrilled with the 4 bags of frozen veggies I got for $3.48...also Buy One, Get One Free in addition to my coupons.

I've been stockpiling spice cake mix for my pumpkin muffins whenever it's been BOGO since this summer, and this week Craisins are BOGO. I think I'll go back and get some more this week. Then, whenever I want to make the muffins, all I'll need to buy is eggs. Just waiting for the temperature to drop below 95 so I can whip some up. Where are you, fall???

It's a good feeling to know that I managed to snag some groceries that should last more than a week for just over $40. I'll take it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

S-L-A-C-K-E-R. Thankful Thursday...on Friday

One of these days, I'm going to post Thankful Thursday on (wait for it...) Thursday. Until then, I'll settle for Thankful "Thursday" whenever I can swing it.

Today I am thankful for:
  • my family and friends
  • my health
  • the many, many blessings in my life
  • getting into more of a "groove" at school...slowly
  • the people at my school and the community where I teach...when I started 4 years ago, I knew I have a place, and I'm glad to be a part of many great parents and students and coworkers
  • getting through Parent Academy last night...14 hour days aren't my strong suit
  • an "off" weekend...almost giddy thinking about it
  • getting to catch up on my sleep
  • being almost finished with my first grad school class...bring on the next one!
  • a chance to sew this weekend...way behind on my baby presents
  • the fact that this will HOPEFULLY be the last week of hot-as-blazes temperatures..Ready. For. Fall.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fifty and fabulous!

Yesterday, my darling daddy (aka, DennyJ) had a birthday. And it was a big one. One of those milestone kinda birthdays. We decided to do something a little out of the ordinary to celebrate his fifty years of life. Mom, Daniel, and I spread the word to some folks and had them meet us at Pepito's for supper. Only, we didn't tell DennyJ. Hehehehe. He had himself a little surprise party, and I think he was most delighted. There was a great turnout...he's a popular fella!

We had such a good time. Good food (I unknowingly ordered a burrito of Man vs. Food proportions...embarrassing), good friends, good times. I'm so glad everyone took a few hours of their night to spend with DennyJ. He got some pretty sweet presents from the fam, too. Case in point: I got him a magnet strip for kitchen knives that attaches to the wall. He said he was glad to have it because, should he ever need to engage in a knife fight, he'll have easier access to them. Goober.

I adore DennyJ. He's seriously one of the wisest, most patient, funniest people I know. I won't go on and on because I know he (sometimes...I think...) reads this and would be embarrassed to read a novel about himself. I hope he's planning to stick around for at least 50 more years (if not 100 more...get you some vitamins!). Happy happy birthday, Daddy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday(ish)

Seeing as how last week moved at warp speed, leaving me choking and writhing in its dust, Thankful Thursday is coming on Sunday. Here's hoping that I can hop on board with this week first thing tomorrow and not get left behind again!

Today I am thankful for:
  • my family (especially my super cool dad, Denny J, whose birthday is tomorrow) and friends

  • my health

  • my job

  • the baby steps I made this week towards getting "grooved" (see the last 2 Thankful Thursdays) at work...slow and steady, but it's happening

  • this being my week to stay inside during recess...I'm normally recess's biggest fan, but I don't enjoy baking in the sun when it's 1,000 degrees out

  • a fun-filled weekend in Auburn (and a down-to-the-wire victory)

  • the $25 gift card I earned at CVS today...all this couponing has its perks!

  • almost getting through my first grad school class...two more weeks and then it's on to the next one!

  • these July-esque temperatures (95? Seriously??) because they'll make the arrival of fall that much more delightful

  • the super good supper I made tonight...I'll post on that later this week


Monday, September 13, 2010

What have YOU stepped on today?

Today was a really good day. I decided to extend the goodness of it all by taking a walk as the air cooled off a bit this evening. I was enjoying some tunes and soaking up some fresh air, when I saw a neighbor wave at me. I stopped on a little pile of leaves on the ground and talked with him for a second. Something told me to look down, and when I did, I noticed that the leaves...well, they had a face. A face that looked like this:
I'm not a fan of possums. They're gross, they have scary teeth and claws, and they look like overgrown rats. Don't much like 'em. PARTICULARLY when they're squished flat as a pancake and hiding under a pile of leaves on top of which I'm standing! I. Came. Unglued. My neighbor, once he caught his breath from laughing and wiped the tears off his face, grabbed a shovel out of his garage, scraped Pancake off the road, and threw him the woods. Too little, too late. I am changed, and not for the better.

My possum-tainted tennis shoes are now sitting outside my door; they're no longer welcome inside. Any ideas for getting possum ick off your shoes?

I hope your Monday was marvelous, and that you stepped on zero dead animals today.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

China Grove

Today I met DennyJ, Mimi, and Grandad in Tuscaloosa and we drove out to Hale County. The second Sunday of September is Homecoming Sunday at China Grove, the church my great-grandmother MawMaw grew up in. It's out in the middle of nowhere on a no-room-for-two-cars-to-pass kind of road in a there-ain't-no-indoor-plumbing-to-be-found kind of setting:

It's a pretty drive, though. We got there early enough to sit in the church and listen to some note singing. I'm fascinated by note singing. Although I can read the music, I can't keep up with the pace of the songs so I have to just listen. It's a cool experience to sit in this simple wooden church with no air-conditioning, with all the windows opened, and listen to these people sing.

I found myself today wondering where MawMaw liked to sit, if she sang along at the top of her lungs, or if she was a silent "appreciater" like me. I also started wondering what will become of this pretty little church as the years go by.

The number of folks showing up dwindles every year. Grandad talks a lot about the huge crowd that used to show up years and years ago. I vaguely remember going when I was little, and I thought it was so cool to have "dinner on the grounds". MawMaw would help fix our plates. She would whisper to us whose food we wanted to eat and whose food would "make you sick as a dog". We would sit on the ground or on the hood of a car to eat our lunch. Once I hit my teenage years I realized, "Hey! Nobody can make me go to this anymore!" And I didn't. I was far too cool for such things. I'm glad I'm not too cool anymore.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Binch

I remember getting this email in the days after September 11, 2001, and a friend sent it to me again this morning. Moving on is is remembering and reflecting.

The Binch

Every U down in Uville liked the U.S. a lot,
But the Binch, who lived Far East of Uville, did not.
The Binch hated the U.S., the whole U.S. way!
Now don't ask me why, for nobody can say,
It could be his turban was screwed on too tight.
Or the sun from the desert had beaten too bright.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But, whatever the reason, his heart or his turban,
He stood facing Uville, the part that was urban.
"They're doing their business," he snarled from his perch.
"They're raising their families! They're going to church!
They're leading the world, and their empire is thriving,
I MUST keep the S's and U's from surviving!"

Tomorrow, he knew, all the U's and the S's,
Would put on their pants and their shirts and their dresses,
They'd go to their offices, playgrounds and schools,
And abide by their U and S values and rules,
And then they'd do something he liked least of all,
Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand all united, each U and each S,
And they'd sing Uville's anthem, "God bless us! God bless!"
All around their Twin Towers of Uville, they'd stand,
And their voices would drown every sound in the land.

"I must stop that singing," Binch said with a smirk,
And he had an idea--an idea that might work!
The Binch stole some U airplanes in U morning hours,
And crashed them right into the Uville Twin Towers.
"They'll wake to disaster!" he snickered, so sour,
"And how can they sing when they can't find a tower?"

The Binch cocked his ear as they woke from their sleeping,
All set to enjoy their U-wailing and weeping,
Instead he heard something that started quite low,
And it built up quite slow, but it started to grow--
And the Binch heard the most unpredictable thing...
And he couldn't believe it--they started to sing!
He stared down at U-ville, not trusting his eyes,
What he saw was a shocking, disgusting surprise!
Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any towers at all!

He HADN'T stopped U-Ville from singing!
It sung! For down deep in the hearts of the old and the young,
Those Twin Towers were standing, called Hope and called Pride,
And you can't smash the towers we hold deep inside.

So we circle the sites where our heroes did fall,
With a hand in each hand of the tall and the small,
And we mourn for our losses while knowing we'll cope,
For we still have inside that U-Pride and U-Hope.
For America means a bit more than tall towers,
It means more than wealth or political powers,
It's more than our enemies ever could guess,
So may God bless America! Bless us! God bless!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday

What a day what a day what a day what a day. What a week. What a month. What a...I'll stop now. This could go on for a while.

Today I am thankful for:
  • my life...busy and hectic but I'm glad to have it!
  • my family and friends
  • my health
  • my job...still haven't gotten into that groove I wrote about last week...maybe next week (and I'm going to KEEP saying that until I get "grooved"!!)
  • my students...they (usually!) know exactly how to make me smile
  • the sweet parent email I got this morning...great way to start my day
  • a fun little science experiment planned for tomorrow...I need something fun in my day and I know the kiddos do too
  • being a "Suzy Sunshine", as I was called today...there are worse things you could call me
  • my Tigers playing tonight...gonna make for a late night but will totally free up my weekend :)
  • my Toms...good and broken in by now, and they make my feet happy...glad I let myself get talked into buying them
  • tomorrow being Friday, which means the weekend is right around the corner...big plans=clean, sleep, walk, work on my reading assignment/paper for grad school, sew, sleep, China Grove, sleep...most excited!
  • managing grad school+work+life successfully for two whole weeks now (knocking on my laptop now so I don't jinx it)
  • the fact that the stack of papers I've been driving around all week has actually made it inside with me...would be even more thankful if someone would grade them for me! Any takers? No?


Monday, September 6, 2010

chili-roasted black eyed peas

Such a fun weekend. God's country (aka Auburn), tailgating, good friends, good food, good game, gorgeous weather, lunch with the fam, a day off of work...doesn't get much better than all that!

I made these for the tailgate this weekend, and thought they turned out really well. Granted, I did burn 1 batch completely beyond recognition (poor little guys), but the non-burned ones ended up being quite tasty. This recipe is somewhat similar to the roasted chickpeas recipe I found this summer.

Chili-Roasted Black Eyed Peas
2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
onion powder, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Mix all ingredients together; add seasonings to taste.
3. Transfer to a greased cookie sheet (or two, if needed).
4. Bake 45 minutes, or until crispy. Stir every 1o minutes. (Side note: I stirred as directed and the peas looked great at 30 minutes. By 40 minutes, one whole pan of them was burnt to a crisp. I was most sad and MAY have said something ugly. Next time, I'll probably pull them out of my turbo super powermax oven after 3o minutes.)
5. Store in an airtight container. Best when eaten within one or two days after baking.

I could see these being really good on a salad instead of croutons. Of course, they're also great by the handful!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
  • my family and friends
  • the many, many blessings in my life
  • the challenges in my life...they sure keep things interesting!
  • my health
  • my job, even though I can't get myself settled into a grading/planning/keeping my head above water groove yet...surely it's coming soon, right? Right??? Please say yes. Please.
  • the fact that, by the grace of God, things always work out and get done, even when I don't see how it's possible
  • the news that Julie CE will be bringing a little blue baby into the world in January...woohoo for boy babes!
  • getting my hair cut last week...if I ever have a staff of folks at my disposal (you know, on my teacher's salary), I want someone to wash and fix my hair every day...pure DElight
  • surviving my first week of work + grad school...I may survive after all
  • no work on Monday...I feel like turning cartwheels and throwing confetti at the mention of this particular news
  • my upstairs neighbor's sudden fitness kick...I'm thinking of investing in a helmet to wear in case she Tae Bo-s herself right through my ceiling...which is likely to happen at any moment
  • a stellar super duper fun LONG weekend on the horizon
  • Auburn football (more here)...amen.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

hummus: yummus in my tummus

I don't write much about my students on here, but not because I have no material. I just don't want any concerns raised about confidentiality. It's not like millions of people read my silly little blog, but I try to keep my professional life, well, professional.

With that being said, I must share this. I have a student I adore. He's a regular, goofy, 10 year old boy, but he understands my sense of humor and has a really quirky sense of humor himself. I need to recount the conversation we had on Monday. For the sake of privacy, I'll call him Fred.

Fred: Ms. Johnston, have you ever had hummus?
Me: Yep. I really like it. Have you?
Fred: My mom just bought some yesterday and we already ate a lot of it. It's my new favorite thing in the whole world. She packed some with crackers in my lunch.
Me: Sounds great! I'm glad you have a new favorite thing in the whole world. Now get to work.

Fred was so excited he even wrote about his hummus during our free write time. On our way to lunch, I walked past Fred in our line and stopped so I could hear what he was chanting under his breath: "Hummus! Yummus in my tummus!" I told him that was very creative, and he said that he had spent all morning trying to make something rhyme with hummus. Bless him. No wonder he didn't get his math assignment finished. He was too busy trying to figure out how to make hummus rhyme with something...anything!

Sometimes I wonder why anybody would want to do anything other than teach 5th graders.

Because I do enjoy hummus myself, I decided to make some tonight. It turned out to be most tasty and figured I'd share the recipe. It's so ridiculously easy I think I'm going to have to make it all the time. You know, so I'll constantly have something yummus in my tummus.

Black Bean Hummus
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove (I used two 'cause that's how I roll)
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp tahini (I didn't have this, couldn't find it, and don't even really know what it is, so I substituted olive oil)
1 tsp cumin

Dump everything into a food processor and pulse until the texture looks good. I added a little water to thin it out a bit.

That's it! You could substitute a can of any kind of beans for the black beans. Healthy, easy, and most definitely yummus.