Thursday, March 31, 2011

Simply Finished!

No more classrooms
No more books
No more teachers’ dirty looks.

Yep. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
Wooohooo and Hallelujah!

For better or for worse, I’ve completed this year’s teaching assignment. Tuesday afternoon, I packed up whatever creative teachery was left in the unventilated bookroom, cleaned off the white board, stacked up the chairs, and closed this chapter behind me.

It happened just in time, too. Things are starting to heat up here in southeast Georgia, and there are pubescent boys in my classes. Did I mention that the bookroom was unventilated?

Next week, the students will enjoy a spring break before returning to take the test. You know the one, the one that shows whether their unventilated bookroom teacher has any talent left in her at all.

That’s the way I always interpret it, anyway.

That’s probably the reason that it leaves me so burned out. (That and the fact that the old gray mare just ain’t what she used to be.)

The students ain’t what they used to be, either.

There isn’t a curriculum or program for the job that I do. I’m just given a list of objectives and access to any remnants I can find in my unventilated bookroom. Being the chronic over-achiever that I am, I just create my own material. It’s kind of like making a quilt.

If you’re thinking that I can reuse the fruit of my labor, you’re partly correct. I can reuse the remnants. But you see, I don’t teach objectives; I teach children. Since the children change from year to year, I'm perpetually quilting. 

I store my materials in a tote in the attic. During quilting season, I pull down the traveling teacher box and try my best to keep it from crawling about the house.

It has been in the dining room…
And the living room…
And in the bedroom…

I committed myself this time to finding a solution to keep it contained. I had grand notions of a blog worthy repurposing project, but it didn’t happen.

Instead, it has llived on a shelf,
 behind a shower curtain,
 in a little used bathroom off the den.

Nothing like a constant reminder that your career is in the toilet…

So today I get to pack it all up again and wait for the Man of the House to come home and lug the traveling teacher box up to the attic for another year. I get to reclaim the bathroom, my time, and my creative energy. It’s a good feeling.

I won’t know for weeks whether I can call this year’s teaching adventure a success or a failure, but at least at this minute, I can call it completed. If hard work counts for anything, it was a job well done.

And that, my friends, is this week’s simple pleasure.

Sharing this with Dayle at A Collection of This and That
Join me for more Simple Pleasures

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ladybugs and Butterflies

This week’s table is a simple little table for two inspired by my daughter Miss Whimsy, who celebrated a birthday this week. Actually, the table is inspired by her bedroom, with just a little Whimsy on the side.

The room is decorated in butter yellow and red.
The inspiration was this floral fabric.

I would show you the entire room, but I'm just as messy a tablescaper as I am a cook, so...

Daisies were the natural choice for a centerpiece. Miss Whimsy is the girl most likely to be married in a field of them...

Surrounded by butterflies.

The girl has had an unnatural affection for all things fluttery for as long as I can remember.  She loves butterflies and dragon flies and lady bugs. When we decorated this room in middle school, she was way too old to litter a room with them. We had to secret them in subtly. 

I've tried to do the same with this table.
 See if you can find them.

OK, maybe not so subtle there...

How about here?

I made the napkins from leftover trim fabric from her room.

That’s the butterfly fold in case you can't tell.

The napkin rings  belong to the Sister. I’m pretty sure they were a shower present from the Great Wedding Adventure of '82.

The dinner plates aren't subtle either.
They are decorative wall plates that I never bothered to hang on the wall.

I used a white charger to break up the busy pattern of the plate against the table.

Then I layered more plates to cover up the not-so-subtle butterflies.

The white plates with the scalloped edges are Carlsbad China from Austria.
 I'm pretty sure they came from an estate sale. 

I was trying to make it look all daisy~ish with the yellow bowl on the scalloped plate.
Can you tell?

The red salad plates came from K-Mart earlier in the year. They go with my new red kitchen. The butter  yellow bowls came from Home Goods and belong to the Duchess.

Daisy soup...

And that's about it.

What a goofy way to spend my first day out of the classroom,
playing with dishes, and creating a table that absolutely no one will see.

Except you...

Oh well...
Tomorrow is another day.
Sharing this with Susan for Tablescape Thursday

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unlikely Praise

I mentioned on Saturday that a variety of events had left me uninspired all week. How I could manage to be uninspired with the Georgia spring bursting into bloom around me, I do not know, but uninspired I was.

But then...

Just before I left town on Friday, my blog friend Angel sent me something to help me Find the Inspiring.

I had seen this challenge to gratitude yakked abroad in blogland. I’ve even visited and enjoyed the author’s blog. I had just procrastinated the purchase of it because I’m a tightwad.  Leave it to God to use a literal Angel to get his message across.

Since thanksgiving is the ultimate inspiration, I have decided to join all the Gratitude Gals in blogland and count the simple gifts of the fleeting moment. I'm planning to put these on a separate page when I get a pair of minutes, but just for today, I decided to start my journey with some shout outs of  unlikely praise.


1. The gift of a traveling man

The husband is in sales and has traveled weekly for our entire marriage. If I could choose a different model, I would, but in many ways, I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for his absence because it has always made his presence all the sweeter to me. Color me nauseating, but I really do get butterflies in my stomach every time I hear that door open and the sound of his feet clumping across the kitchen floor.

It has saved both our marriage and the man's sanity. How would you like to live with Charlie Brown's teacher 24/7? Wok wokwokwok wokkkkkk....

2. The gift of the terrible, horrible, very bad no good year

I’ve yakked before about the loss of our single income in 2008. While I wouldn’t have volunteered for that particular character building mission, I’m thankful that we endured it. I’m grateful for what God showed us about Himself through it all. I’m thankful that I no longer wonder what I would do if…

Because now, I know. I will do exactly what I did last time. I’ll cry like a baby. After that, I’ll lean and trust.

3. The gift of a big butt.
*What? You expected a picture?*

OK, maybe I'm not thankful for the posterior itself, but I have recently decided to thank God that I’ve struggled with diet issues for much of my adult life. I’ve gained and lost that same stupid thirty pounds more times than I can count. I’ve tried a hundred different ways to beat that monster who likes to stuff her insecurities down by the spoonful. I wouldn’t choose this struggle for the world, but because of it, I have an easy compassion for those struggling with addictions and strongholds of other kinds. Compassion is a gift, and so, I thank him.

4. The gift of a  leaky roof.

Our roof is original to the house, which makes it about 115 in roof years. It’s creaky, leaky and unpredictable. It has been repaired as we save for a new one in this pay as you purchase household, but roof repairs only last so long. Do I pray that she’ll hold out? Oh yes. Do I pray for a windfall roof fund to fall down on this house like manna from heaven? Yes again. But every time the rains fall instead and that patch holds, I get to have a little service of thanksgiving. Without the leak, I wouldn’t have the praise.

And so, I’m thankful.

And along those lines...

5. The gift of counting pennies

I'm a penny counter, and I'm truly thankful for that. While God has always met our needs, we still have a life just shy of self- sufficiency. Too many times to count, Satan has tapped me on the shoulders to make sure I know what I’m missing, too. He loves to remind me what I gave up by stepping out of a full time classroom all those years ago…

He tempts me to count my numbers.

He points out rain clouds and leaky roofs and weaklings in the piney stick forest. He niggles when the refrigerator dies and the washer starts to rock and roll. Though I admit that I'd rather count the Benjamins, I still think that counting pennies is a gift. 

A woman in my Sunday School class once told me that she couldn’t imagine praying over things like cars and appliances. If she wants a new van, she said, she just buys one.

No. Big. Deal.

Sunday School Girl would probably never believe this, but I pity her for that, and I’m thankful that I do. Maybe I’m just more fleshly than most (see number 3 above), but I don’t think that I can be trusted with too much self- sufficiency.  Obviously, God agrees.

And so, I thank Him.

The list goes on, but I've probably already lost half of you already. If I yak up the rest of them this way, I'll never reach 1000. Plus, I have lesson plans to finish and an unventilated book room full of students to  teach.

6. I’m thankful for that opportunity 
7. and I'm even more thankful that tomorrow is my last day to do it.
I'm a burned out little pool of wax just about now. 

What about you? Do you have gifts of unlikely praise?

Thanks to Jen's gracious invitation, I'm going to join here today, too.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

I've had a bad case of cyber laryngitis this week for a variety of reasons. You see,  I'm still dealing with that whirly swirly circlet at random times when Della gets moody.  Plus, I've been stressed out  trying to wrap up my current teaching stint. The combination left me uninspired and pouty. 

That's the way I roll sometimes. I blame the hormones. At 49, you get to blame the hormones for everything.

Or so the husband says...

But this morning, I'm back in the saddle again, and I mean that very literally. Believe it or not,  we're in Macon again. Sitting in a hotel room... again. This week, however, it has nothing to do with cherry blossoms. It has everything to do with daughters, particularly one daughter who is celebrating a birthday.

Care to guess which one?

We may not be the most logical parents around, but what we lack in logic, we make up in love. After a long week on the road, the Man of the House rolled back into town around 6:00 last night only to do the quick change into his Super Dad suit and head back the same way he had come.

With his faithful side kick, Mighty Mom, tagging along.

We made the decision to road trip back to Macon because the daughters are too busy this weekend to come home  and we're pathetic.  We're sneaking in a birthday breakfast before they start their busy day.  This is the weekend of Mercer's annual Dance Marathon to raise money for the hospitals of the Children's Miracle Network.

Both daughters are involved. In fact, one of them is an organizer.  Care to guess which one? It isn't the birthday girl.  She'll be there with bells on, however, because this event is tailor made for her.  The kid was born with  boogie shoes. From the time she was able to walk, she has chosen instead to dance.

Time and place made no difference whatsoever.  The instant she heard the strains of a beat, those tiny hips started moving, followed quickly by the shoulder shimmy and head bob.  Bystanders would point and giggle. Big sister would try her best to hide behind a grocery cart and whisper, "Mommy stop her." 

Of course, I never did. More often than not, we just created a conga line for two.
It's a wonder Big Sister never needed therapy.

By now, you've probably guessed that our birthday girl is none other than Miss Whimsy.  She turns 19 years old today. How that happened, I do not know.

I could swear she was 5 just yesterday. 


So Happy Birthday to my Miss Whimsy. I hope the rest of the day is every bit as wonderful as you want it to be. And today, just as always, I hope you dance.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Pinkest Party On Earth!

That's the official name of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia, and that's where I'm partying this weekend.

Some of you might recall that I tried this last year. Unfortunately the uncommonly cold winter of 2010 had bullied all of the cherry blossoms into hiding.

There was no pink to be found.

We showed up to discover nothing but bare branches trying their best to mascarade behind these pink lanterns. They weren't fooling anybody.

Sad, isn't it?

I did my best, though. I took that shiny red Kodak and went on the Great Pink Exploration, snapping pictures of any pink I could find.  I yakked about it HERE.

I wasn't picky...

That was then...
This is now.

We arrived yesterday to a tale of a completely different color, and that color is
 Cherry Blossom Pink.

Here's the same street with the lanterns

Only this year, those lanterns are just a little bling

Hot air balloons started arriving for the party this morning.
 I watched about a dozen fly by for the balloon show.  

My favorite was this pink one.

This year, it is indeed the Pinkest Party on Earth. 
 Every block downtown looks just like this.

Cherry blossoms are such a pale pink that they're almost white

But they're pink all right...

Pink cherry blossoms on the streets...

And on all the buildings...

And on the blond bloggers...

Pink tulips too.
They don't discriminate...

They even pay homage to the first camelia show

Of course, the sign is plunked in the middle of a bunch of azaleas instead.
Kind of odd to my way of thinking...

But at least they're pink.

Of course, camelias are pink too.
I just didn't see any downtown.

This bush lives on the Mercer University campus.

Along with my two favorite Macon Pinks of all.

Which is our real reason for being here.
It's Parent's Weekend.
The Cherry Festival is just, well... the cherry on top.

With that said, I need to scoot.

Sharing this with Beverly at
How Sweet the Sound
Pink Saturday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tootin' the Green Horn

I wasn’t planning to post a tutorial on green smoothies. My plan was just to share it as a simple pleasure, but then two things happened.

First, a few of you asked.
And second,
I woke up this morning with so much energy after better night's sleep than I've had in a while. 

Seriously.  The Great Smoothie Miracle happens that quickly. I always forget how good it feels on the first day of smoothie season. This sort of begs the question why I hiberate for the winter without them? Winter is probably the time that I need the energy the most.

Someone remind me that I said that in October.

So anyway, for those who got past the ewww factor of liquid spinach for breakfast and are interested, here are a few of the things you can expect from this health and beauty makeover.

You will feel...

More energy and a clearer head.
Less hungry, especially for sweets and snacky food.
A craving for more green.
Really, you will. Don't ask me why. I'm not the doctor; I'm just the reporter.  

You will notice…

A huge difference in your skin.
Trust me on this. It only takes about a weekend to see results. What cream works that quickly? None, I tell  you. (And Sharon Kirby, if you want to slather it on your skin, go ahead. It's the stuff spa facials are made of, after all. If it turns you into Shrek, however, don't blame me.)

Stronger and faster growing fingernails.
Healthier hair
Weight loss (unless you insist on a green smoothie with a bagel chaser...)
Improved sleep (unless you live with a buzz saw )
And, um.... a healthier digestive system. Let's just leave it at that.

Here's how I make mine:

 Keep bananas in the freezer.
Freezing them really makes a difference.
I usually chop mine and flash freeze for about an hour before storing them.

 Start with about a cup of fresh or canned fruit.
(Not the bananas...)
It can be any yellow or green kind you like or a combination.

I say canned because my favorite is pineapple, and fresh pineapple is expensive around here. I usually buy one of those huge cans of pineapple (in juice) and keep it in a container in the refrigerator.

Blend it up until smooth.
It should not look like this

If it does, add splashes of juice until it looks like this

It probably goes without saying that you want to use juice with no sugars or additives, but I’ll say it anyway.

Then add a big handful of greens (spinach, collards, kale...)

Add it gradually by pulsing.
Then, blend.

Now add frozen bananas.
The freezing intensifies the sweetness. (They’re really good for just a quick nibble when you want something sweet, too.) I usually put between ½ to 1 whole banana. Basically just throw in a palm full of slices. 

And whirl again...

Then add about 2 teaspoons of honey or sweetener.

I used to use Splenda here,
but GNEE at Singing with Birds has introduced me to this healthier option.

At this point, you can sample it and add anything else you might like to doctor it up like teaspoons of preserves or marmalade or more fruit.

 Then add some ice cubes
until it is the thickness you want.

It should pour like a milk shake.

And ta da!

This is really enough for two, but lucky me… I’m home alone.

It will actually keep in the fridge for up to two days. They say you can just give it a quick shake the next day. I've never tried that since I lack the self-control to keep a smoothie overnight.

I'm going to try today.
And that's it.
Really, try it.

As for me, I'm taking my well rested, energetic, younger looking, smoothie self on a Great Pink Adventure to what is dubbed the Pinkest Party on Earth.

I'll be back later to yak all about it.


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