Friday, August 29, 2008
Miss Lew-hey-a

This week I've been dabbling in a little substitute teaching, in an attempt to test the waters before jumping in with a credential. So what are the two things I decide to "rip off the band-aid" with? Foreign Language and Boys' P.E. (What?!?) As if teaching high school kids isn't scary enough, I had to go and pick something where I'm teaching in a foreign language and/or to rowdy 15-year-old boys. But let me back up a bit.

So I show up on the first day of school with the ever-ambiguous job description of teaching foreign language classes for "Teacher A." I'm thinking to myself, "They can't expect me to know every foreign language. How bad could this be?" It ended up that I was to teach Spanish 1 to a bunch of adorable intimidated freshmen, with one Spanish 3 class sandwiched in between.

And I really enjoyed it. Aside from the fact that everything was chaotic, it being the very first day of the school year, I really had a great time teaching these kids. It was such a relief to know that standing up in front of teenagers and making somewhat of an ass out of yourself isn't all that terrifying. And by making an ass I mean I contemplated singing the silly songs I learned in Spanish 1 to help me learn the South American capitals or days of the week ("Lunes, Martes, Lunes, Martes, Miercoles, la la la...."). Thankfully, I spared them and myself the humiliation and stuck to less-mortifying activities.

I picked up a Boys' P.E. class today, which in the first week of high school translates to taking attendance and making sure they don't kill each other before the period ends. On a side note: Teachers of core subjects - English, math, science - definitely have their work cut out for them. Their work in the classroom is challenging enough, and then add on grading papers and tutoring and mentoring and on and on. P.E., on the other hand, is a cake walk. Gym teachers do exactly what you see in class: take attendance, wear visors, walk the track (or not) and leave at 3 p.m. or earlier. They have the easy life figured out.

So there you have it. I survived my first week as a sub and actually had a little fun at the same time. I'm sure teaching your own classes comes with a whole new set of perks and challenges, but nevertheless I think I learned a few things. Namely, how to think on your feet when you're thrown in to a classroom without a lesson plan, classroom management, and just generally interacting with that age group. And now I'm even more excited about my choice to pursue a teaching credential.

Posted by Kelley at 8:46 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 22, 2008
Drama Queen

Alright, so yeah, yesterday I fainted. In the middle of Bill's restaurant and I was a teensy bit embarrassed.

I was a little hesitant to post anything about it, since between this and the hand stabbing I'm beginning to feel a little dramatic, but since Chris went ahead and posted the hilarious clips below I figured some people might want a few more details.

I guess looking back it started with the fact that we slept in late and then didn't eat or drink anything before biking in hot weather to a restaurant for breakfast (at lunch time). At the time I thought nothing of it but in retrospect I was probably dehydrated from the day before.

So as soon as we walked in to Bill's, the room started spinning. Now this is the place where, if you so choose, they'll serve you free tequila shots at 9 a.m. but I hadn't remembered having any so the dizziness was unexpected. I quickly walked ("not well" is how Chris put it) to the bathroom grabbing for anything sturdy on my way.

Now, I've never fainted or had a spell like this before so I didn't really know what to expect. I'm thinking I'll splash a little water on my face, get my bearings, and be eating waffles in no time. Nope.

I guess I was with it enough to know you don't want to lose it alone and fearing I might hit something on the way to the floor, quickly left the bathroom. So as I'm walking towards Chris, my tunnel vision goes from barely being able to see my path to pitch black. Luckily, Chris guided me to a chair just before I went limp and it seemed like I was sleeping, dreaming even, for like 10 minutes. Thirty seconds is more like it according to Chris, but as soon as I snapped to, I was completely embarrassed and thinking "Do we have to leave the restaurant now? Because I really want Eggs Benedict." Thank goodness no one seemed to notice (other than the helpful manager).

Some much needed water was downed and I seemed to come back to life but it was the strangest experience. And of course, it was another one of those things that had Chris and I thanking our lucky stars and recognizing what a shambles either of us would be if something happened to the other one. "Nothing is allowed to happen to you," Chris likes to remind me in these situations. Same goes for him.

Posted by Kelley at 10:44 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A ride to Bill's for some late breakfast this morning did not do well with Kelley, who once inside the restaurant made like this:

It was a fright, but brief and comparatively mild. Before long she was enjoying her Eggs Benedict (if not also spelling "alopecoid"). What did we learn?

Posted by Chris at 11:35 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 15, 2008
Reading Rainbow

Saying that Chris likes books it a bit of an understatement. I believe the hierarchy of things goes books, Cubs, me (well, OK not seriously. Cubs trump of course.) So it should be of no surprise that even though we added an entirely new bookcase to our apartment, we actually already had enough books piling up on the other shelves to completely fill it.

And really, I just wanted to post something about it because, to the dismay of Chris' OCD, I think it looks pretty arranged by color. How's that for girling the place up ;)

Posted by Kelley at 9:00 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Hello, Goodbye

Hello new sofa.

Goodbye ugliest couch ever.

Alright, in all fairness the old couch served us well and, before that, served the Grandstaffs well, so it really has reached the natural lifespan of a couch. When I moved in, the apartment--aside from a bed, bookcase, and lounge chair--it was basically an empty box. We needed a place to lounge around and read the paper (and snuggle) and the we were happy to take it off their hands when they got a new sectional.

But since then our relationship with the beige monstrosity has soured. It began when the cushions started ripping for no other reason than they had one (or fifty) sits too many. Now shredded, stained, beaten up, and lumpy, the thing is (sniffle, tear, cheer) ready for the dumpster.

And in its place, sits our new sofa and just like the beginning of every relationship we are smitten. The cushions are perfectly firm and comfortable! the fabric is clean! The modern lines are divine! We couldn't be more satisfied with our new piece of furniture.

However, it wasn't the best first date. After a stressful trip to IKEA that had us searching high and low for all the correct pieces and a color that wasn't hideous, we returned home to assemble the thing. Everything was going smoothly until, in true Chris and Kelley fashion, the very last step. We had screwed the arms on, covered the pillows, and successfully attached three of four legs. Then came that damn fourth leg.

The combination of a bad bolt and an Allen wrench that applied the same amount of torque that a three-year-old might posses left our beautiful new sofa incomplete and the two of us fuming with sour thumbs. So we slept on it and marched ourselves down to the hardware store in the morning.

Of course, the hardware store did not have the right size bolt nor did it have a more powerful tool in which to replace the Allen wrench. So Chris and I, along with this old hardware store guy named Norm, began sorting out our debacle. At one point Norm was trying to convince us to buy a hack saw in order to devise a better tool for which to adhere the leg with.

Chris and I do not hack.

Judging from the intimidated look on our faces, Norm decided it would be best if he broke a little company policy and did the hacking for us. And you know what? It worked! Thanks to Norm, the new tool was just what we needed to get that last leg in place.

Now the sofa is complete and we are ready to be couch potatoes.

Posted by Kelley at 5:45 PM | 0 comments

Woo Hoo!

Today is a great day! I just received a letter saying the hospital has taken pity on my uninsured butt and waived my ER bill! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! So good.

Posted by Kelley at 3:14 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 8, 2008
Summer Mayhem

Nothing is quite as nice on a summer day as catching day baseball and eating ballpark food, which is exactly what we did on Wednesday. My good friend Eric is in town from New York City and, along with Sara, Chris and I, spent a whopping seven bucks a piece to enjoy the game from the upper deck behind home plate.

Chris had to leave early to go to work but the rest of us spent the night eating Southern food and hopping around the city. In this time Sara managed to fix two toilets at two different establishments, a feat we later chalked up to being a good Samaritan. Eric was productive in another way and drank quarts--you read that measurement right--of beer until he was composing songs. Sara and I couldn't help but crack up during the car ride home as he found a way to work the lyrics "metaphorically speaking" into some sort of chorus.

Posted by Kelley at 9:00 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, August 7, 2008

This past weekend we headed down to Big Sur to celebrate Chris' birthday with my family. Sometimes its nice to get away to a place where lazing around in the hammock and playing with the dogs is about as busy as we get.

We spent our time eating my mom's homemade cheesecake (made specially for the birthday boy), BBQing, and playing with the new mutt, Ivy. Chris had hopes the new pup's name might be an homage to Wrigley but it turns out she has a white spot on her back that looks like an I and a V.

The next day we hit the neighborhood pool for another lazy day. There was the cutest little girl swimming with her older brother. The brother kept trying to convince the timid girl that her water wings would allow her to float and that, should they fail, "he wouldn't let her drown." This didn't really comfort her and she continued to cling to the wall. Chris and I found it pretty entertaining to listen to this adorable exchange, especially when the mom asked if they wanted a juicebox and the girl sprung out of the water, fist in the air and delightfully cheered "Juicebox!" Oh, to be the age when a juicebox was enough to make your day.

Posted by Kelley at 5:23 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 1, 2008
Made From Scratch: Almost as good as the box brownies

I'd like to start blogging a bit more about all the things I'm cooking here at #506 in part because I'm a little obsessed with food blogs. But more so because in the last year I've really taken to cooking, and more specifically baking, from scratch. So much so that I sometimes daydream of getting a shiny, new Kitchen-Aid mixer as I'm trying to whip egg whites into stiff peaks by hand (and if you know anything about baking, you're aware that it is no easy feat).

So on that note, I decided to bake some brownies the other day. Now, brownies are one of those things that somehow Betty Crocker and Pillsbury and every other cake mix company has managed to perfect. But the way they do this is by adding a whole bunch of stuff I can't pronounce and therefore, try and shy away from ingesting (thank you Michael Pollan for making me afraid of processed foods).

So I rounded up the ingredients and got to chopping and melting the chocolate, mixing the pastry flour, and popping them in the oven (sounds easy, eh?). Well, they look beautiful but, I have to admit, the box kind tastes better. These came out a little too bitter for my taste--I want a sugar rush! So it's back to the drawing board. I'm not giving up on my "from scratch" recipe but it may take some tweaking and several tries to get it to taste like the box. Poor Chris, he'll be swimming in baked goods until I get them just right.

Almost-as-good-as-the-box brownies

1 1/4 cups unbleached pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl and set aside.
Place chocolate and butter in large bowl. To melt it, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments until smooth but make sure it doesn't burn. Whisk in sugar and then add the eggs one at time. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three parts, folding with rubber spatula until the batter is completely smooth.
Transfer batter to 13 by 9 baking dish lined with aluminum foil and spread it into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. When they're done, cool for about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil.

Posted by Kelley at 4:13 PM | 0 comments