Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rubble Watch: The Final Chapter

For a couple of years, I had been perplexed about a homestead about 2 miles down the road from my Creekistan home. For no apparent reason, they had several truckloads of concrete rubble piled, somewhat neatly, in their front yard. Every time we drove by, we wondered what they were going to do with the awful-looking mess. And for a couple of years, nothing happened. Weeds would grow around the piles. Snow would cover the piles.

Now, the mystery is solved. They have recently moved the piles to the creek behind the house, using the rubble to reinforce the banks of the creek as well as to make a shallow bridge across the creek. They do have some extra rubble, just piled up nearby, but at least its not right in front of the house and in the front yard.

Now if I could only get rid of the detritus left by the former residents of Creekistan . . . .

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Super Sub To the Rescue: Chapter 1 - Do Your Homework

I've only been a substitute teacher for a very short while, but I have some observations and suggestions for anyone out there who are subbing or just interested in my thoughts on the topic. 

  • Directions - Know where to go and how to get there. It would be a good idea to have a map, directions, or pre-program the GPS so that you can be sure to find the location of all the schools you might be going to. 
 
  • Different schools have different start times. Keep a list of all the different start times and perhaps a chart that says about how long it will take for you to get there. That way you'll know when to leave the house and when you're expected to show up. 
 
  • Be prepared - Wardrobe. Have an outfit or two ready to go at a moment's notice. I'm not just saying that you should have a shirt and pants on a hanger. It would be better if you had the shirt, pants, socks, shoes, and jewelry all ready to go. 
 
  • Be prepared - Breakfast. I usually won't have time to make breakfast for myself. I'm low carb, so cereal is out of the question. However, I've found a good alternative: Kroger's brand of healthy foods, the "Simple Truth" brand, has an excellent protein bar. At about $1 per bar, it's an inexpensive and healthier way to have a meal on the go. 
 
  • Be prepared - Lunch. You never know what will be on the school lunch menu for the day. So it's much better to bring your own lunch. I try to have some pre-packed lunchbox items ready to grab quickly. Since I already pack for the other members of the family, I'll just assume that I have to pack for myself. If I don't have to sub on a day, that's one less lunch I'll have to make tomorrow. But, just in case, have an emergency $5 bill in your wallet at all times for the specific purpose of buying lunch. 
 
  • Briefcase - I have a bag where I keep all my sub materials. This includes any school handbooks, notepaper, activities, pens, pencils, candy, emergency snack, and anything else you can think that you'll need. This bag is dedicated to this task so that it's not overloaded with stuff that I won't need on the job. 

 If you have any suggestions about how to be ready in case that early-morning phone call comes and you have to leave the house in a hurry, please comment! I'm always looking to help other and to be a better sub.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Grammar Police PowerPoint Template

You asked for it, you got it! If I eventually get hired as a language arts teacher, I plan on using this in my classroom. My fellow education students loved it so much, they wanted the template. So here it is, free for the whole world to use!

Click here to download!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Herbed Oven Dried Tomatoes

Oven dried tomatoes remind me of sun-dried tomatoes, except you can make them at home and they don't cost much at all! Since I can't seem to grow tomatoes myself (I have a brown thumb), I usually get a lot of tomatoes from friends and neighbors who always seem to grow too many! Another trick is to go to the local farmers market and ask for a discount on a bunch of the tomatoes rejected by buyers. They don't have to look pretty for you to make this recipe, just cut off the ugly parts and you're ready to go!

You'll need:

  • A lot of tomatoes! - Washed and ready to cut.
  • Olive oil - enough to coat all of the sliced tomatoes
  • Garlic - 2 - 3 cloves finely chopped (more or less depending on how much you like garlic)
  • Basil (and/or other Italian herbs) - dried would be okay but fresh-sliced leaves are better; use enough to get a good flavor over all of your sliced tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to a low temperature: around 200 degrees.
  • Slice the tomatoes somewhat thinly, less than a 1/2 inch thick.
  • Toss the sliced tomatoes into a big bowl with the garlic, olive oil, and herbs.
  • Place the tomatoes in a shallow pan in one layer - you could use a cookie sheet if you line it with foil and turn up the edges so that the juices don't drip over the edge.
  • Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar.
  • Bake in the low-temp oven for at least 5 hours; until they are dried out but not burned. Some recipes out there suggest 8-10 hours! Just be sure to keep an eye on them.
  • You can store them in mason jars with a little more olive oil. I don't know how long you can store them--but if you keep then in the fridge, I'm sure they'll last a long time.
Use them on pasta, on bread, or with recipes that call for sun-dried tomatoes. I'm looking forward to trying them in a hummus recipe this year.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Kale Chips on a Griddle

I make kale chips on my griddle. To me, it's very simple; I improvise when I make them. But I've had several people ask (and beg) for the recipe, so I'll try to write down how I make them. Results may vary.
  1. Heat up the griddle. I think I set the heat to about 350 degrees.

  2. Wash the kale and remove any hard stems. Keep the pieces of kale as large as possible.

  3. Coat the kale with olive oil. For this, I have a special Pampered Chef device: a Kitchen Spritzer. I also put a little olive oil on the griddle to keep the kale from sticking.

  4. Lightly salt the kale--I use sea salt.

  5. Place kale on the griddle in one layer. Overcrowding will steam the kale rather than crisp it.

  6. Keep an eye on the kale. When they start to dry and change color, turn them over. After I turn them all over, I usually turn off the griddle. This way I don't accidentally overcook the chips (aka burn them!).

After they are good and crispy, you should be able to pick up a piece and it should maintain it's shape. Put on a plate to serve. Serve immediately--I can't imagine that they would store very well.

Sometimes I use this recipe to create a kale chip bed for serving steak or chicken.

Rubble Watch Update - 2012

Jeez, I'm down to just an annual post on my blog?!?!?!? I have to do better than that! The Rubbles down the street have a purpose for some (not all!) of the rubble. It seems that, in their spare time, they use a bulldozer to push some of the rubble around. The purpose of this activity is create a rubble/land bridge across the creek running behind their house. Okay, not a bad plan; as long as they put a culvert pipe under the rubble for the water to flow through. Otherwise, they've made a dam. But what they are going to do with the other several tons of rubble remains to be seen. Fortunately, the rubble has been sitting so long that it's created an environment perfect for weeds and grasses growing well protected from the danger of being mowed. You almost can't tell that it used to be pieces of a building.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Rubble Watch Update #4: Year Two

I must be really busy because it's been almost 1 year since I blogged! I guess if much happened down at the Rubbles I would have had something to talk about.

Alas, no.

The rubble is still there and it hasn't been touched. It may seem less unattractive at this time because so many weeds have grown around the long bands of rubble that you don't see much of actual chunks of cement and debris.

So, after over a year, there is no word as to what the rubble is for. Your guess is as good as mine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

See? We're Not Alone In Our Craziness

Check out the site - http://farmfolly.com/ - They too have had the same issues as we have, including the bees, the overgrown trash heaps, and Chickens! Perhaps there should be a support group for crazy people like us.