Monthly Archives: July 2010

Man, that’s different!

I’m working ont he WIP and it’s becoming a very different book than I’d envisioned originally. It’s a first draft. I’m trying something different, writing the story then dissecting it and revising. I know that means I’ll toss a lot. I hope it means I’ll discover something deeper than the superficial stuff I sometimes settle for.
It’s kind of fun to see where the characters take me.
My brother’s book reminded me of that fun. I’m glad. πŸ™‚
I “watched” the RWA GH and RITA awards unfold on twitter.
#RWA10 was fun to read. The people I was rooting for didn’t win, but that’s ok. Just finaling in the contest is a huge honor. I have several books to get now.
RWA11 is in NYC. I’d love to say I’ll be there, but it’s a long shot. It’s usually around YB camp time, and YB camp is a must!
In a few hours I go to church. My church is going through some major changes right now. I’ve never seen myself as adverse to change, but I am balking at the changes. We’re shifting to home groups instead of church classes, and groups that have been together for a long time are being asked to split into multiple new groups.
I don’t want to lose my group. I love them and we’re not cliquey at all, and we meet at the church during Wed. night child care so people with kids can be there and not worry about a sitter (once upon a long time ago, that was me!), and at one point recently none of us wanted to actually lead the group. The way we do it is switch from week to week. If it’s in a home someone has to clean and get the house ready for company. I don’t know about all the people in the class, but for me that would be a HUGE task. And I don’t have that huge task in me during the school week. I don’t want to have company during the week. I don’t really like to have company all that often on the weekends during the school year! Meet for dinner or coffee elsewhere? I’m good. But that’s not what they want from us.
We’ve really focused on what’s good for non-believers instead of church being “all about me” but man, this is going to be tough. It’s strange because DH is far more open to the change than I ma, and that almost never happens when it comes to church.
I guess I need to trust that our ministers are doing what they feel led by God to do. We’re talking to the people in our group tomorrow, an I guess we’ll see what happens.
Interesting note: I didn’t realize how much this was hurting my heart until I wrote it out here. Yet another reason I love my blog. πŸ™‚

Home from publications camp!

Had an amazing week in Galveston. Survived driving the mini-bus through Houston traffic! Used Facebook to find one of my missing yearbook editors the day we left. He forgot camp and went to church. lol can’t be mad at that!
It’s going to be a good year. These kids laugh like nobody’s business.
Today was a rest and relax day. Tomorrow it’s back to the normal routine. I’m taking next week off, but I’m going to go work in the newsroom the week before school starts and get stuff set up for a great year.
My marketing kids will be there, too. They won first place marketing plan and video at camp, and they want to get things set up before school starts.

My brother’s writing a book. His excitement is contagious. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to read the next installment.

Stieg Larsson

I just finished the final Larsson novel. It was amazing. Lisbeth Salandar is one of the most unique heroines ever. And Mikael Blomkvist is a great hero. Larsson died after turning in his manuscripts for this series. It’s sad that he didn’t get to see the excitement over the books.
It just helps me remember that we’re not promised a tomorrow so we have to keep reaching for the dream today. I know that’s a little Hallmark, and I hate using the clichΓ©, but it fits here.
If you haven’t read the series, you should. You have to read them in order, and each is as good as the other.
1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
2. The Girl Who Played With Fire
3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

Easy Jambalya

I’m totally, 100%, NOT a good cook and even I can make this scrumptious, EASY supper.
1. Buy a family size box of Zataran’s Jambalaya mix.
Boil water as directed.
While the water is boiling, cook 3 links of sweet or hot Italian sausage in a skillet (take the casing off the sausage!)
chop up 1/2 a kielbosa
Once the water’s boiling, add the jambalaya mix and meat. Cover. Turn to simmer.
After 10 minutes, add rinsed deveined frozen shrimp if you want. Bring back to boil. Cover, turn to simmer. Cook as directed on box.
I like to add fresh spinach the last couple minutes. I’ve added ranch style beans to make it feed more.
This makes five-seven good sized portions, 8-9 with beans. If you put it in the fridge and eat it the next day, it’s even better than the day you cook it.

Pre-Camp Meeting

I have four rules for my students when we’re traveling. They’re not original. I picked them up from one of my friends who used to be our UIL coordinator.
Rule Number 1: Be Nice.
Rule Number 2: Stay Together.
Rule Number 3: Have Fun
Rule Number 4: Don’t Freak Out.
Those four cover most of the bases. Of course, I throw in, this is a school trip. If you break the rules, you’re going home AND you’ll have school consequences. πŸ™‚

Today, I met with nine of the 10 amazing kids going to camp today for lunch and three moms who aren’t going, but wanted to be there. It was great.
For the first time in years, I’m going to have a parent booster club for publications. I’m a little worried but excited, too. Parents can make or break a program.
Lunch was fun. Lots of laughter. Lots of excitement. Lots of “Mrs. Lee, if rule number three is have fun, how come jumping off the balcony is forbidden.” ahahaha
I’m looking forward to camp. Not looking forward to driving the short white bus, but it was that or pay for the driver and the daily rate for a big bus, and since we don’t get a budget, we can’t afford that!

Best Peach Cobbler Ever

I always forget this recipe and then when I make it I remember how awesome it is. We made this twice in Georgia, and it was amazing. What I love about this is the measurements don’t have to be exact. I eyeball this one to get it where I want it, and taste it to see if it needs more spice. Remember it’s easier to add more than to take away!

Preheat over to 350
Once hot put i stick of butter in 9×12 pan and put it in the oven.

Mix your crust batter while the butter is melting:
1 C. Flour
1 C. Sugar
1 C Milk
1 TBSP Vanilla or flavoring you like. Rum is reallllllly good.
A tiny bot of salt (optional)
Spices: Definitely cinnamon, but if you have the Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus, it’s amazing! Other spices you might add would be nutmeg, ginger and a tiny bit of clove.
(You can add a little baking soda if you want it to be puffier.)
Whisk this up. It will be runny.

Put the crust batter to the side. Don’t mess with the butter. It needs to keep melting.

Doctor your peaches.
Either 1 big can sliced peaches OR 1-2 pounds slided fresh peaches.
If you use fresh, add 1 TBSP lemon juice and 1 C. sugar and mix it up. Then add spices. Definitely Cinnamon. Rum or Vanilla are good. That Cinnamon Plus stuff works, too.
Stir it all up and taste to make sure you like it. It works best if it’s a little tart and a lot sweet. Like Sweet-Tart candy.

By now your butter should be sizzling.
Grab pot holders and take the sizzling butter out of the oven. Pour the batter in the sizzling butter. (breathe deep here. It will make you happy)
Then pur the peaches in the middle. They’ll spread out.

Put cobbler in the oven and let it cook @ 350 for 45 minutes, maybe checking every five minutes after 40. It might take a little longer or shorter, depending on your oven.
The corners are usually crunchy goodness. πŸ™‚

Serve warm with ice cream for an even tastier treat.

Vacation’s Over

For the first time since I started teaching I seriously took a summer off. It was amazing. My stress level is at zero, and I’m ready to tackle the new year with a new attitude.
New attitude 1: I come first. By that, I don’t mean I alone. I mean God, my family and me, then my job. I thought I learned that lesson while stuck in a hospital in Italy, but nope. I got the God first part right, but I put job second.
For 15 years I put the job first or second. Ahead of my husband and my daughter and WAY ahead of myself.
I thought it was cute that DD grew up in the newsroom. That she slept under my desk on days she was sick before she started school. That she thought of my editors as quasi-siblings.
I thought it was fine that my idea of cooking was open a box, throw it in the microwave and set it on the table.
I thought it was a badge of honor that I went to school sick. Even being wheeled into class for six weeks while I continued to recover from the shattered ankle.
Then last year happened and I spent three months sick with swine flu that turned into pneumonia or a bronchial infection or whatever it was. At the time, I really just wanted to crawl into bed and cry. I didn’t see how we’d finish the yearbook or have a paper. I hated it.
But by the end of the school year, I’d learned an important lesson. A lesson I’m sorry it took me so long to learn.
I love my job, and that’s a good thing. A marvelous thing really because I get paid to go to something I consider fun as much as work with students I love.
But
it’s still my job.
I have to take care of myself and be there for my family, and that means more than going to church, working with 18:26 and making small group a priority.
It means I’m going to schedule workouts. Work will have to be scheduled around my family’s needs.
It’s a good thing I’ve come to this realization since work starts again today with the Rider Leadership Academy our student council is running.
πŸ™‚

Recipe for biscuits

Homemade Biscuits
by Alecia Hagberg
Preheat oven to 425.

3 cups self rising flour
1/4 – 1/3 c vegetable shortening
1 T sugar (just estimate)
1 t baking soda (just estimate)
1 1/2 C milk + 2 T vinegar or 1 1/2 c buttermilk

Mix flour, sugar, and baking soda. Cut in shortening until the mixture looks crumbly. Stir in milk. Flour a sheet of wax paper. Turn dough onto flour. Sprinkle the top with flour and kneed the dough, pulling the top to the bottom and pushing up until the top looks smooth.

roll out or flatten out by hand. cut out with a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass. Place on buttered cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until tops are browned.

Peach Jelly:
The recipe for peach jelly is in the Surejell box, but here are our pictures:

You need to boil your jars.


Boil the lids and rings too.


Get help skinning and slicing peaches if you can. This is Madiie. She was a big help.


Peaches in the pot to boil



Peaches with the Surejell


Add sugar and boil again. This takes a much longer time than the first boil.


You must stir the sugar and peaches constantly.


Boil these for a little bit


Hi Alecia!


Boil peaches until two drops of the boiled goo come together like this.


After you pour mixture into jars, top the with the lids, turn them upside down to rest, you're going to have a tiny bit left over. This is great to reward helpers.


Ta-Da. But really, read the instructions in the box. They're invaluable.

Garden Failures, Cooking Wins

First the bad:
I’ve had my tomatoes planted since before school got out. In that time I’ve gotten exactly ZERO tomatoes. WHile I was gone, the vines grew taller than me. There were several tomato starts out there, but the ones that were even the slightest pink were rotten. So I trimmed the vines down to almost nothing and we’ll see what happens now. DH thinks that was a huge mistake. He might be right. I’m certainly no garden genius.
While I was gone, my onions completely disappeared. In the past, I haven’t had to do anything to get onions. They just kind of grew themselves. Guess not this year. My peppers actually have baby starters on them. We’ll see. I think there’s a chance I won’t get fruit from my labor this year, and it’s been a LOT of labor.
Now the good:
I made my first homemade biscuits today and they were scrumptious. Especially with the peach jelly I helped make at my sil’s.
My sil makes me feel lazy. She has three great kids, runs them all over creation and still cooks all the time. She gave me a great idea for this school year. She and my brother cook their meats for the week on the weekend and make meals throughout the week. DH said he had that idea a couple years ago, and in a way, he did. Only his idea was for ME to do the cooking all by my lonesome. Not. Going. To. Happen.
BUT
homemade biscuits and jelly will definitely happen again.
Tomorrow, I’ll post the jelly and biscuit recipes.

Dark Shadows

I was thrilled to hear the news about Tim Burton and Dark Shadows. He’s the perfect person to turn the show into a movie.
Dark Shadows is all that is great about gothic soap operas. Victoria Winters plays the perfect virginal heroine whose life is in constant danger. The Collins are creepy and strange. David is evil or misunderstood, depending on the episode. I’m 120 episodes in, and we finally have ghosts. I know we end up with vampires and werewolves. I’m looking forward to what comes next on the classic series, and I can’t wait to see Burton’s interpretation.