Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fortune's Inside


My desert from Pei Wei tonight was a fortune cookie. As I munched away, I realized how much I love fortune cookies.  They're the perfect amount of sweet and the perfect amount of crunch. It's amazing how satisfying they are after Chinese food, and no matter how much you've eaten, you've always got room for one (or two). it's like jello!


I also got some great fortunes. It looks like things are headed in the right direction!


Weird how similar the two fortunes are, huh? Here's to open doors!



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Monday, November 29, 2010

Ode To Books



Ah, my friends. 


When I was facing the task of deciding my major in college, I was terrified of the idea of majoring in English Literature. It seemed so daunting and brainy. But looking back now, I realize it was meant to be. I grew up in a home full of readers- my dad, who reads the encyclopedia for fun, and my mom, who to this day can't enjoy a good tv show unless she's reading a book at the same time. 


My love of books has taken me lots of places. As you know, I have a problem with not wanting to finish books. At this moment, I have 12 books sitting on my nightstand. Most of them are about 3/4 finished and then set aside so that the end never has to come. The possibilities still exist.


When the girls and I moved in together this summer, we christened our back room the Library- it's so fun to have a library in your house. My class library has grown into quite a collection, and I can't help but keep adding to it, even though I have more than enough books. 
I'm also a huge fan of public libraries. My favorite thing about public libraries is borrowing audio books. ( P.S.- Have you seen these yet? They're awesome!) It's such a great way to pass the time while driving. I've passed many a road trip and countless rush hours listening to audio books. 

Children's and young adult literature is without a doubt my passion. Narnia, Peter Pan, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, the classics never go out of style. And they're so much more exciting than boring old grown up books. 

So tell me your favorite book. What do you love? What's your favorite genre? What book changed your life?

Have something you adore? Share it in the comments, or email adoretoday at gmail dot com.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hooray for Advent!

As promised, I am going to dedicate today's post to the start of the best of all holidays.


I never celebrated Advent growing up, but in the last 3 years, I've become a big fan. We've always put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and I start listening to Christmas music waaaay sooner than is natural (as my roomates are learning), and generally celebrated Christmas all month long!


It wasn't until I started going to IBC that I learned that there is a name for the month-long celebration of preparation of Christmas, and even better, there is a group of people who are just as crazy about it as me. This is Advent. It's the four weeks before Christmas, and each week is dedicated to a different aspect of preparing yourself for Christmas. I mean, what's not to love? After counting down the weeks to Advent since probably around September, it's here at last. 


I don't have an Advent Calendar, so I created my own Christmas Countdown on the chalkboard in our kitchen. 
























My church had a big festival tonight to celebrate the kick off, complete with The Hanging of the Greens.. Everyone took a sprig of evergreen and added it to a wire  frame until we built our own Christmas tree, as demonstrated by Victoria.


They also had star ornaments for the kids (and the 26 year old kids) to decorate. Mine ended up looking like most of my drawings do. I am no artist. (It's supposed to be an Advent wreath). But it was fun!



They even had a brass band playing Christmas carols!

After I got home, we "lit" the first candle on our Advent wreath. Hooray! The candles are actually the kind where you flip the switch on the bottom and the little bulb lights up. Evergreen branches and open flame seem like a bad combination to me.



















I know this only counts as my adore today, but just go ahead and apply this to all days between now and December 25th. :D I'm a happy girl.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Haul Out The Holly

We decorated for Christmas today!  I love this time of year. Deborah and I spent all of Elf and most of While While You Were Sleeping putting up the tree, stringing the lights, and adding a million ornaments. 


 I really love decorating with Christmas colors- I think other tree schemes (blue and sliver, purple, pink, etc.) are pretty, but there's something fun about getting to cover everything in the green and red. I mean, they are Christmas colors, right? It just so happened that our tree had mostly red and gold ornaments, and it turned out beautiful. 


We chatted about how much fun it is to pull out the ornaments from when you were a kid and reconnect with your past. The bear ornament was one I "made" in preschool (although I doubt there was a lot of making involved on my part) and the heart is from my show choir director in high school. Oh. yeah. show choir.

































All the collection of ornaments weaves together the story of 3 amazing girls. 


The tree looked beautiful from outside. I wish this picture could do it justice. I'm hoping Santa will bring me a dSLR for Christmas now that I'm getting more and more into photography, but we'll have to see. In the mean time, use the pictures as a frame of reference and leave the rest to your imagination. ;)




























We don't have a mantle for our fireplace, so we can't hang our stockings by the chimney with care, but we did hang them up as best we could. We never did stockings growing up, so I've never had one to open. Maybe this will be the first year???






















We also put my mini tree that I have used in the apartment for the last several years up in the kitchen. Again, red and green (and gold)!



























I love Nativities, and I've had this one for about ten years or so. When I was in high school and college, I would put it up on my nightstand. This year I put it on display in front of the garland in our library! 

















Now that the decorations are up, I can't wait to start celebrating Advent on Sunday. I'm sure there will be lots of blogging about that in the days to come, as it is absolutely my favorite favorite holiday. <3 Can't wait!














Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Today has been a day of deep thinking for me. I'm still trying to process and put into words what's going on in my head, so sorry if some of this doesn't make sense. I had a day full of things I adore: spending time with family, cooking and eating good food, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, playing board games and laughing until we cried, napping, not having to leave the house when the temperature has plummeted 40 degrees in the last 24 hours, and some time to myself relaxing after 3 long days of cooking. 


Of course, at Thanksgiving most of us try to stop and think about things we're thankful for, but I spent a lot of time today doing some deep thinking about living a life of thankfulness.


When I started my blog, my purpose was to create a space for me to be intentional about focusing on the good things in my life. I've been so overwhelmed in the last few months by the negativity that comes from everyone all the time. It's been so amazing just in the last few weeks to see how much my outlook on life has changed when I've been intentional about looking around throughout the day and thinking to myself "will this thing rank high enough on my list to be the thing I adore most today?" I'm spending my day looking for the good, the best, the things I adore about every day, rather than remembering something crappy that happened so I can go home and vent about it.


I'm realizing more and more that every day is going to have the things we don't like. It's a guarantee. If can assume that from now until I die there are going to be good and bad things every single day, then I can make a choice. I'm going to throw the bad things out the window. And more than that, I'm going to pursue thankfulness. 


I'm thankful that I have a family who loves me.
I'm thankful for my amazing roommates.
I'm thankful for a job I love where I can change lives and make kids think and learn and grow.
I'm thankful that tonight when I go to sleep tonight, I will be warm, safe, and have a roof over my head.
I'm thankful that the Creator of this universe loves tiny, insignificant me.


I know these all sound cliche, but sometimes those obvious things take on new meaning all of a sudden. As I'm writing this, Sarah McLachlan's Prayer of St. Francis came on my pandora station. Probably one of my favorite things ever, it seems such perfect timing, so I'll end with those words:



Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;



O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; 

to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.



Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.



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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Still Cookin'

Day 2 of my three day Thanksgiving cooking marathon. I’m le tired. But I’m really excited for Thanksgiving tomorrow. This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve ever hosted, and other than the turkey, it’s 100% made by me. Wow. So far I’ve done:

  • Buttermilk Potato Rolls and Bread
  • Cayenne Caramel Corn
  • Supremed Grapefruit
  • Spiced Apple Pear Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • More Cranberry Nut Bread
  • Cornbread for the cornbread stuffing
  • Pumpkin Dip


On the agenda for tomorrow morning:
  • Breakfast Casserole (for breakfast, of course!)
  • Cornbread Stuffing
  • Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Reheat previously mentioned rolls and pies
  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes


And with some help from my mom (who arrived today with my dad!) and the turkey covered by my sister and brother in law, we will be ready to feast. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Bread, I said!

Last year for Thanksgiving I decided to make bread for the first time. Long story short, it turned out awful. I over kneaded the bread, I added too much flour, and it just turned out terrible. Even more unfortunately, I convinced myself it wasn't that bad and still served it. (Sorry family!)

So I asked Sarah for a recontamination for an idiot-proof bread recipe.  I decided to try the Buttermilk Potato Bread from Joy of Cooking.





 It was a long process, from the cutting, peeling and mashing potatoes, to the proofing, rolling, and baking the bread. But it was a lot of fun, and best of all, the bread turned out amazing.





I made cloverleaf rolls to eat with Thanksgiving dinner, and a loaf of bread to much on in the mean time. Yum!

I also made cayenne caramel corn, spiced apple pear pie, and roasted pumpkins for the pumpkin pie. It was a busy baking day, and tomorrow's more of the same. It's nice to have time to do all these fun projects in the kitchen- I'm counting down the days until I can bite into one of those rolls!

Have something you adore? Share it in the comments, or email adoretoday at gmail dot com.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hungry Yet?


Last week at the beginning of spin class, our instructor mentioned she had just finished reading a series called The Hunger Games. I had vaguely heard of them, but she said they were great.

So when I saw them on sale at our school’s book fair this week, I knew that 8 dollars and 99 cents of my gift cards (thanks you to my students!) was going to go to the first book in the series.



Description from Amazon:In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole life.

One of my goals over the break is to do lots of reading, and I think reading almost 2/3 of the book in one sitting counts. It started a little slow, but it’s turned into a real page turner.

So after about 4 hours of reading tonight, I forced myself to put it down when I got to Part 3. I usually have a bad habit of reading about 8 books at once, which mostly stems from not wanting good books end. I would be so sad if I had this great book and didn’t get to savor it for a few days. I want to make it last. But at the same time, I have to know what happens next, so I have to keep reading!

In any respect, I think I can at least make it last until tomorrow, as long as I force myself to go to bed right after I finish this post. To be fair, the book won’t be changing the world any time soon, but it is a great page turner and quick read for the holiday break!



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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Camping Kick Off

After staying up ‘til 3 in the morning watching HP7 and getting 3 hours of sleep for the last day at work before Thanksgiving break (read: the kids were crazy and I was exhausted!), what do you do next?


Go camping, of course!



















I dashed home and packed up my stuff and headed out to be one with nature for the weekend.

I LOVE camping and really don’t do enough of it. I usually only end up going about once a year. I’ve had this trip planned for several months now and couldn’t wait. The timing was perfect because I have all next week off (yay!) so it doesn’t feel like I’m giving up a weekend when I have time to do laundry, go grocery shopping and do all the weekend-y stuff all week long.

The weather was also perfect. 45 at night, which makes campfires pleasant and warm sleeping bags and extra wool sock seem like the best things in the world. And 70 during the day, beautiful, relaxing, cool for hiking and warm enough to not need a fire during the day.






















































We hiked about 3.5 miles. It was beautiful. I've had a hard time convincing myself not to run out and buy a DSLR lately, and walking in all the fall leaves and sunshine made me wish all the more that I had the ability to capture all that beauty. I did, however have a bit of fun playing with my pudding camera app on my iPhone. 
































Time with friends, books, campfires, nature, bananagrams and s’mores was just what I needed to jump start my Thanksgiving holiday. Bring on the next 8 days! (Just not too fast!)

Have something you adore? Share it in the comments, or email adoretoday at gmail dot com.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here Comes Harry

Oh. Yeah.

Get excited.

The beginning of the end is here. Tonight, at 12:03, I will be sitting in a theater and watching J. K. Rowling’s last, amazing book come to life.

















I’m pumped. With previous movies and in times when the books were still being written, I would count down the days any time a movie came out. I was a frequenter of mugglenet.com and listened to their weekly blog. (Yes, I’m a nerd.) The number of road trips to San Antonio I passed listening to the audio books can’t even be counted. The first reading of books 1-4 in my dorm room with the first movie soundtrack playing in the background made me fall in love with the series. The times I spent with my first year class playing Harry Potter trivia are some of my favorite memories as a teacher. The midnight release of the fifth book, which was the first book that came out when I got into the series, hanging out with my brother at Border’s brings back some good times.

The third and fifth books were always my favorite, but when the seventh came out, it definitely took the cake. (I’m so glad they’re doing the movies of book 7 in two parts!) It’s so well written and such a great conclusion to the series. Jo couldn’t have done it better.

That being said, I take the movies with a grain of salt. The first two were great (Chris Columbus should have done them all!), but the third, which was at the time my favorite book, was such a disappointment. Since then I think I’ve only seen the fourth, fifth and sixth at midnight the day they came out. I don’t remember seeing them more than once. I always want them to be an exact visual of the books, but the always end up being a director’s interpretation of the books.

But it’s always fun to see the movies and relive the Harry Potter experience. This one sort of snuck up on me, to be honest. I’ve got about an hour til I go to the theater and hang out with all the other fans and wait in line for prime seats. And then it’s just a hop, skip and a jump until next summer and the whole series ends and it’s all over. At least until the next time you pick up a book….







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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just Call Me Jumbo Legs

One of my students’ vocab words last week was describe. On their vocab quiz Monday they were asked to describe their teacher. I was cracking up grading them today, so I thought I’d share a few of the many perspectives of me through the eyes of a 10 year old:

“She is a woman who is tall and has golden hair.”

Calling me a “woman” makes me feel so old. I do, however, love the “golden hair.” Very Lady of Shallott.

“She is pretty, and has brown hair, and earrings and is cool.”

I think it’s the earrings that give me my cool edge.

“She is tall, she has brown hair, green eyes, and is very pale.”

And now I’m a giant vampire.

“She is very tall and she has blonde hair and she has jumbo legs that are scury.”

Well, I’m not really sure what scury is, but hopefully it offsets having jumbo legs.

“My teacher is nice, funny, pretty, smart, tall, brown hair, long hair, not married, and is awesome.”

I think this one pretty much speaks for itself- I love the train of thought.

“My teacher has dirty blonde hair, and is tall. She has 5 ear piercings, and doesn’t wear glasses.”

Again, I’m learning that the number of ear piercings makes you exponentially cooler to ten year olds.

“She is very nice and the best teacher ever!!!”

And that, folks, is why I do what I do. ;)


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving

I always try to make my lunch for the week on Sunday and then bring it with me to much on all week long. It’s a perfect solution to both laziness in the field of lunch preparation at 6:00 am and the fact that I only have 25 minutes to eat lunch.

So on Sunday, as I was putting together my grocery list, all I could think about was Thanksgiving food. The result was a quick and easy Thanksgiving knock off.




















-Rotisserie chicken

- Steam in bag green beans

- Stove Top stuffing

-Cranberry sauce

-Mini pumpkin pies!

The cranberry sauce was a quick mix of cranberries, ½ c sugar, ½ c water, juice and zest of 1 orange, cinnamon stick, simmer over stove until jelly-like. I love anything cranberry. Have I mentioned that?

The pumpkin pies were my friend Michelle’s pumpkin dip: ½ can pumpkin, 1 block cream cheese, ¼ c powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice to taste. I piped the dip into frozen pre-cooked phyllo cups. Holy Yum.

I am loving eating Thanksgiving leftovers all week long. (I think my co-workers are slightly jealous.) This was quick and easy enough that you could make it any time, not just the week before Thanksgiving!



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Monday, November 15, 2010

All In A Day's Work

Good news- I found a version of the Batman song from spin class you can listen to. Just imagine working out to this-

Sigh. I love Hans Zimmer.


Do you every just have one of those days when where you started and where you end up are two totally different places? My day went a something like this:

Breakfast

Teaching

Meetings

More Teaching

Lunch

More Teaching

Dress Up In Clifford The Dog Costume

Work Party

Spin Class

Dinner



Wait. What?


























With book fair going on right now, our librarian asked me at lunch how I’d feel about doing carpool duty in our Clifford the Big Red Dog costume (which looks like the one above). Let's see….stand around for 30 minutes in the freezing cold and read carpool numbers into a walkie talkie, or stand around for 30 minutes dancing in a giant dog costume waving to children and pointing to a book fair sign while nice and warm thanks to 500 layers of foam.

This was not a difficult decision for me.

I had a BLAST out there acting like a fool. (Not that anyone knew who the fool was.) I would definitely do that again, as long as it's cold out. (I had my handler take pictures of me, so if I ever get it from her, I’ll be sure to post them!)

Like I said, little did I know when I dragged myself out of bed this morning that I would end my day inside a dog costume. That's something to be excited about.