Some things are universal

May 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm (family, random)

I’ve got an interesting new project lately, to occupy my time between student teaching and a hopeful teaching position in the fall. I came in contact with a Ph.D. student who’s getting her doctorate in history and needed some help transcribing a diary. I’m a self-proclaimed professional at reading bad handwriting since my days in admissions (high school students have atrocious handwriting!!) so I offered my services. I’ve been reading and transcribing the diary all week, and just finished this morning.

It was written by a senior editor of a major magazine who lived in New York and kept a journal every day for 40 years. FORTY! I couldn’t believe it! I’m reading chunks from the 1940s and 1950s. He’s fairly well-off, has two houses, servants, a driver, a cook, parties with the rich and famous, etc. My life here in little old suburb-of-Los Angeles doesn’t have much in common with this guy, 50 years ago, across the country, and yet, I’m struck by our similarities.

Here’s someone who has everything going for him, seems to have his life all worked out, and yet he’s terribly unhappy at times. He has relationship issues, friend issues, job issues, financial issues, etc. Sometimes I get very stressed out at where my life is going – I want a family now, I really really want a job now, I want us to be settled, I’d love for us to have a house and a dog, etc. My husband feels the same way – sometimes we feel so unstable, not knowing what the future will bring, and we’re ready to be in one place for a long time with career jobs instead of placeholder jobs.

But, as sad as it was to read this diary, with all of his troubles and unhappiness, it was kind of reassuring and inspiring – it’s fine for me to want more out of life, to be excited for the next stages in our lives, but that next stage doesn’t bring magical happiness and sunshine, as evidenced by his life. Everyone, at one point or another, (and sometimes lots of points) is unhappy and dissatisfied with life. Even this guy who has an amazing job and an amazing life is unhappy. What he doesn’t seem to have is a faith – and I think that is what pulling me through these dissatisfied times. I know God’s got a plan, and I just have to be patient.

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Honey Dijon Pork Chops and Cinnamon Roll Cake

May 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm (reading, recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

Two new recipes at our house today, courtesy of two new food blogs I stumbled upon:

For dinner, we had Honey Dijon Pork Chops, with homemade mashed potatoes and salad. We were big fans of this glaze – couldn’t be easier and it added a really nice flavor. I think it’d be good on chicken too. Oooo, kebabs. Chicken kebabs with this would be really, really good.

And in the oven right now, is Cinnamon Roll Cake, which so far smells delightful! I left out the pecans because I’m bringing what we don’t eat tonight (which better be most of the pan!) to church tomorrow night and I know at least one person can’t have pecans. Plus, I’m a cinnamon roll purist and I prefer them with no nuts. Trust me on this one and lick the bowl after you make the topping. Don’t think about the fact that you’re licking butter. Just give it a little lick. If the cake tastes anything like the bowl did, I’m gonna be a happy camper.

I haven’t done any reading for my BBC 100 list in a long time. I’m mostly through the Chronicles of Narnia series and I’m just not loving them and so I feel ambivalent about continuing and that’s stalled my progress on the whole list. Fantasy novels are just not my cup of tea, and I still have to read three more. Plus Harry Potter, and I think Golden Compass too. Meh.

In the meantime, I’m reading Helen of Pasadena, which I kind of adore because I used to work in a Pasadena private school, and I went to an all-girls school up north, and chick lit is more of my cup of tea than fantasy. 🙂

What are you reading right now? I’m between jobs, and I’m going to need something new, Helen’s story is almost over!

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123 Chicken, and an anniversary

May 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

Yesterday for dinner I tried something new (hallelujah! I’m remembering to cook new things!!) and it turned out well, I think, with only one minor mishap…

The basic idea, which I believe I found on allrecipes as 123 Chicken, was to put chicken breasts in the center of a casserole dish, surround with cut up potatoes and carrots, pour Italian salad dressing over the top, and bake at 425 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Even though I used about half the dressing the recipe suggested (they said use a whole bottle for 4 chicken breasts, I used about 1/3 of a bottle for 2 chicken breasts) it still bubbled up and overflowed Italian salad dressing all over the bottom of my oven. Which then started smoking something fierce.

Of course, I discover this and am frantically trying to put a cookie sheet underneath the casserole dish to catch drips while fanning the air and opening all the windows when my dear, sweet husband walks in with a bouquet of roses, because today is our 3rd wedding anniversary.

Poor guy. As he put it, “That was not quite the romantic welcome home I was expecting…”

Summary: chicken saved, apartment didn’t burn down, and it tasted pretty good. The chicken didn’t pick up as much of the flavoring as I anticipated (maybe marinate in dressing next time?) but the potatoes and carrots were amazing!! And now I have a pretty bouquet of roses too.

Tonight, we’re going out for a fancy dinner to really celebrate. It’s probably safer, poor oven.

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“You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.”

May 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm (random, teaching)

So xkcd is this web comic, based on nerdy math science humor. My friend/former roommate got us hooked, and normally I read it, chuckle, and move on.

Today’s, however, I loved more than I usually do. Go read.

I wouldn’t put myself in the feminist camp normally, because I don’t advocate in the same way or for the same things as most outspoken feminists do. (Summary of my beliefs: I think the sexes are not created to do the same things: we have been gifted with different talents and abilities so expecting girls and guys to be equally good at all things sets both genders up for failure. Not to say that there aren’t some girls who are good at stereotypically male things. Also, be proud of what you are good at – if you are a girl who is an excellent mother and wants to stay home, there is no need to rebel against that simply because it’s “not progressive.”)

However, I went to an all girls school, and those four years there made me so staunchly pro-girl and so confident in who I am. That comic? That’s the kind of thing my teachers would have told me. They would have showed me that there are thousands of unsung female heroes, that have worked hard at what they believe in and done great things, but I am not to simply copy them – I am to be my own great person, working hard at whatever I believe in. Girls need to hear that, a lot, over and over. Heck, guys need to hear that too. And I feel like single gender/same-sex/non-coed, pick your favorite term, schools do that better than coed schools, but that’s a related topic for another post.

Either way, teachers should be like zombie Marie Curie in today’s xkcd, and I hope I am like that too. Students need to hear that they can be great in their own way, and that’s accomplished by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.

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Well goodness…

May 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm (links, random)

this made me a little teary. So cute!

I know it’s popular lately for new parents to register for a gmail account with their newborn’s name… I never thought about doing it before, but this video made me think twice. What a great way to make a digital baby book!

Link from Geek in Heels.

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Avocado Basil Pasta

May 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

This recipe has all of my favorite things: garlic, avocado, bacon, basil, pasta, cheese. And in my mind, it’s the perfect summer dish because it’s light and not too hot. I grew up in Northern California, where the temperature was over 100 degrees for weeks at a time, so summer has very distinct meals because you cook as little as possible with weather like that.

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while, from this Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. We both really liked it! I want to tweak it a bit for next time, water down the lemon or something like that because it was a bit strong for my taste. But other than that, two thumbs up from us. Let me know if you try it!

Avocado Basil Pasta
serves 4
2 2/3 cups/8 ounces dried bow tie or wagon wheel pasta (definitely didn’t measure my pasta. Just dumped it in!)
2 medium avocados, halved/seeded/peeled/coarsely chopped
6 slices bacon, crisp-cooked/drained/crumbled
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 TB lemon juice (I didn’t have any fresh lemons so I used the stuff from the bottle. Probably why it was too strong!)
1 TB olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese (I used parmesan because that’s all I had)

Cook the pasta according to directions, and drain. While the pasta is cooking, mix avocado, bacon, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, pepper, and salt. Add hot pasta, and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with cheese.

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Current state of affairs

May 2, 2011 at 12:15 pm (family)

I found out about the news of bin Laden’s death while in line for a ride at Disneyland, which, by the way, is possibly the weirdest place to be thinking about politics.

Then I read this post on Diary of an Air Force Wife, who I pretty much agree with.

With a brother in the Marines and a husband contemplating the Air Force, I am caring much more about war than I ever did before. I feel relief today… I’m glad we finally accomplished some of what we set out to do. That at least this mission is completed, after being in progress for almost half my life. But more than anything, I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that my brother will still be deployed sometime soon, we could still lose him to this war, that my husband would be gone too if he/we join. I’m frustrated that this doesn’t change anything. I’m frustrated that military are still being screwed around with regarding pay/compensation/everything, that we still jump to get involved in so many squabbles (ahem, Libya) that we don’t need to join.

I think that today, like most days when thinking about my brother or our potential future military life, I am both as patriotic and unpatriotic as I can be. I’ll do anything to support those who serve, but I hate that this means more of them gone.

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