Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Night Survey: Febru-Any-Way-You-Want-It Edition

I was right: February raced by this year. True, we have one extra day of it tomorrow, but with temps in the high 50s, green and orange decor showing up all over the city, and stores displaying Easter's March. I won't be doing a liveblog of the Oscars tonight, though Jesus and I do have it (them?) on. We've also got dinner in the slow cooker and I personally have some Chardonnay in front of me. #weekendwins

Shopping: for the week's groceries.
Prepping: for the week's meals.
Eating: Italian, Korean, Mexican, bacon, and more Mexican.
Watching: Into the Woods, high school musical style.
Wondering: if we are out of the woods, winter style.
Getting: my first Thai massage.
Drinking: lots of water to stay limber.
Stocking: up on sunshine for the week.
Opening: a few windows.
Reading: In a Different Key, Someone Could Get Hurt, and Cravings.
Walking: and walking and walking (tune in tomorrow to see my One Second Everyday from February for proof).
Listening: to the rain on my windows.
Sharing: laughs with friends and family.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood PalLamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Taken from the subtitle, this book is The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. A late addition to the Bible, this "Gospel" gives us a look into those years between Jesus's birth and death that aren't really mentioned in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.

First thoughts: Lamb is surprisingly respectful and thoughtful. Crude and a little far-fetched at times, yes. But clearly Moore did his homework to make this story rooted in some form of history. And it does answer burning questions while staying true to some form of theology. Questions like: What was Jesus (Joshua) like as a kid? As a teen? Did he have friends? What was daily life like? Plus, it's entertaining - especially having a guess as to how things end, I wanted to know how these characters get there.

Favorite characters: Biff and Joshua (Jesus) are quite likable, and they play off each other's strengths and weaknesses. Maggie (Mary Magdalene) is also a very real and relatable character.

Favorite quotes:

"Children see magic because they look for it." Biff, p10

"A Messiah has to bring change. Change comes through action." Joshua, p202

"Love is not something you think about, it is a state in which you dwell." Joshua, p253

Final thoughts: For all its humor and fun, Lamb gets real at the end. It made me tear up a little. It humanizes the story of Jesus's final days, provides alternate explanations for some events, and brings a sense of closure. I'm a little disappointed in the things Moore left out in stopping before the very very end, but everything still felt "in character" with the rest of the book. This would be a great book to read during Lent!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016


If you are an adult who enjoys all types of humor (including the type that would make many people blush) and doesn't mind a little comic book violence in the name of "reality," you should probably go see Deadpool. If you think there are off-limits topics when it comes to humor, or you have a low tolerance for seeing others in pain, you should skip this addition to the Marvel Universe and wait for the next PG-13 installment.

Jesus and I saw Deadpool for Valentine's Day. It was a nontraditional choice, but that's how we roll. And despite its themes of justice/vengeance, spite, and combat (both verbal and physical), it was surprisingly tender during a few key moments. One could call it a love story with a grisly telling, or an action movie with heart. Heart and other body parts.

This green band trailer gets at the gist of the story (dude gets sick, needs a secret operation to stay alive but it also turns him "super" and super ugly (except not really, he's still Ryan Reynolds), he does it for the good of his relationship but afterwards realizes he should mess up a few bad guys since he can and because of what the operation did to him, his relationship is strained as a result of the operation and its effects on him, there's some death and destruction and comedic relief, a few X-Men show up, and upcoming movies are hinted at) ...BUT if you want a trailer that's more true to the mood and effect of the actual movie, I recommend checking out the red band trailer (NSFW).

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Martian (Book)

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Mark Watney is alone on Mars. This is his story of survival paired with the rest of humanity's point of view from Earth.

First Thoughts: I'm usually not a fan of survival stories, but I really wanted to know how this one turned out.

Movie Comparisons: Maybe I was more a fan of this survival story because I'd already seen the movie, so I had a visual for many of the technical descriptions. Maybe I was a fan because I wanted to see if the endings matched up. Either way, I don't think seeing the movie took away from my reading experience. The two tellings are very similar, a testament to Weir's cinematic writing, and the vision of Drew Goddard, the screenwriter.

Drawback: Things seem to work out real well for Watney a lot of the time. Yes, he's stranded on Mars, but he just so happens to be the botanist and the fix-it guy/engineer? He faces loads of danger, but also comes across quite a few lucky coincidences.

Science Thoughts: One thing the book expands on is the technical background of everything Watney does. Instead of seeing him MacGyver things, he talks us through them. Luckily his way of explaining makes up for all the jargon, which I'm glad is included. Even though I had no idea what he was talking about 95% of the time, I'd rather he stay in character as a highly educated and qualified astronaut than use laymen's terms for the sake of mass appeal.

Favorite quote: "[Human instinct to help each other] is so fundamentally human that it's found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do." -p369

Spoilers!: The ending is different.

Final thoughts: My big issue, both while watching and reading The Martian was one of risk and cost calculations. If someone needed to be saved from Mars, would I support all the resources - human, financial, and otherwise - it would take to do so? Especially in comparison to all the less "sexy" rescues needed on a daily basis? Space is awesome and all, but several million dollars allocated the right way could save a bit more than one dude who chose to leave Earth. In the end, though, that quote up there says it. The Martian isn't about rescuing one man, it's about the human instinct to help other humans. We're gonna do it.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Night Links 26

While National Wine Day isn't until May 25 (a Winesday, perfect!), yesterday was National Drink Wine Day, a far more active holiday if you ask me. And I don't think anyone will mind if we stretch it out over the course of the weekend...

A few wine links to be enjoyed with a glass of your favorite variety:

First, a trick for choosing wine.

Hint: it's not about the price.

Next, is it the right time to drink wine?

Most importantly: who's raising a glass with you? Or are you drinking alone?

Finally, if you have leftovers...try a new recipe!

(ps, drink responsibly!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Falafel with Cucumber Dip

One of the first kitchen tools I purchased after moving in with Jesus was a food processor. After years of getting by with a (cheap) blender, I wanted to be able to make dips and sauces like a boss. So far, I've made plenty of hummus, but the wonderful chickpea lends itself to so much more. Like falafel!

I followed this recipe, substitutions below. While a food processor isn't listed in the directions, I made it work. It made enough for dinner, plus leftovers for my lunch the next day - these reheat very well!


1 (15 oz) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
[I didn't have parsley, cayenne, or coriander, so I left them out, but I did add about 1 tsp paprika.]
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c dry bread crumbs
oil for frying

  1. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, onion, and garlic. Process gently - consistency should still be fairly thick. Pour into medium bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, lemon juice, olive oil, baking powder, and spices. Add to chickpea mixture and combine.
  3. Slowly add bread crumbs to the mixture. It should hold together without being too sticky (ie, you should be able to form patties with it). If needed, add more bread crumbs.
  4. Form into balls and flatten into patties roughly the size of a sand dollar.
  5. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Fry patties until brown on both sides.
These are best when topped with the Cucumber Dip:

6 oz plain yogurt (I used Greek)
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
salt & pepper to taste
splash of lemon juice
[I didn't have dill, so omitted it, but I know it would've been tasty. I also omitted the mayo because the yogurt is creamy enough. I added some lemon!]
  1. Mix together all ingredients. Chill. Use generously with falafel; also tastes great with pita chips, tortilla chips, and raw veggies!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Struggles --> Successes

Things have been up/down/all around at work. I think it's normal for teachers to feel in a slump at the halfway point of the year - at least I hope it is. Kids are restless, winter's far from over, and that fresh feeling of a new school year is long gone. Now is the time for a mantra. Especially this week, with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, I'm keeping one question at the front of my mind:

What am I willing to struggle for?

This isn't a concept I've created - I read it here, and have since seen it circling around online - but it hits home for me. Instead of asking myself what I want out of life, I want to start asking specifically what struggle I want in my life. Because life is a struggle - and happiness comes from choosing your battles wisely. I've tried my hardest to let go of things I don't necessarily care about, deciding instead to struggle for the things I truly want.

This Lenten season, that means choosing the pains of grocery shopping and meal prep and planning because I want my happiness to be cooking my own meals (and feeding others). I'll sacrifice some TV time to focus more on things I value more: reading and sleeping and journaling. I would rather be active and have solo time, so braving the cold and taking time out of my day to go for walks (until biking season returns) will be my grind.

I'm looking forward to six weeks (and then a lifetime) of struggling.


Monday, February 8, 2016

SB50: "None of This Makes Any Sense"

For an event that's half a century old, the Super Bowl still has game. A lot of people (okay, a lot of my coworkers) counted out Manning and the Broncos assuming Cam Newton and the almost undefeated Panthers would have their way on the field, but I held out hope that a salty veteran would know how to handle a game that's as much mental as it is physical. Turns out I should have been focusing on the other side of the field: Defense. They win championships, and Denver's certainly proved that last night.

Beyond the football, there was a lot of weirdness going on all around. There were no Roman numerals. That field looked like a pilly sweater. Peyton Manning kissed Papa John. It was mostly good weird, some uncomfortable weird, and then a sprinkle of "what the shit just happened?" weird. Let's start with some good.

Good Weird (aka, We're All Little Monsters)

Lady Gaga Singing the National Anthem: Showing up like a last minute candidate for the Born This Way Party, Lady Gaga won over plenty of supporters with her pantsuit, matching eye shadow, and (duh) her voice. It surprises me that people are still surprised by her talent - the woman is a workhorse, and she's trained almost her whole life in a multitude of art forms.

10 Cloverfield Lane: Only because I just watched Cloverfield and my boyfriend is deep in the ARG for 10, a "blood relative" of the original - for such a mysterious movie, they picked quite the powerful (and expensive) platform to share the next trailer. Even I'm interested.

Avocados from Mexico: Avocados are 2 for 2 on Super Bowl commercials. As a food product that I don't ever foresee needing more PR, these ads are a little puzzling, but always entertaining. If anything, they reaffirm my desire to eat avocados at every meal.

Super Bowl Babies Choir featuring Seal: I mean, c'mon. Weird, yes - these kids are essentially singing about their parents getting it on as the result of a football game - but Oh So Good at the same time. How long did it take to even pull this ad together? How did they cast it? WHY ARE THE SEATTLE BABIES SO ADORABLE?

Audi's "Starman": In a beautiful homage to David Bowie, Audi gave a retired astronaut another shot at space travel. This commercial was more sweet than weird, but if you stop to think about it for longer than the 30 seconds it lasts, you do come away wondering how driving a car could ever be like taking a rocket to the moon.

Bad Weird (aka, Real Dads Are Not Like TV Dads)

Doritos "Ultrasound": Okay, yes. This ad made me laugh. It made me go "Ohhh man," and hold my gut. It gave me a visceral reaction. But. Do we need another doofus dad who eats chips in the history of Super Bowl commercials? If I'm judging these commercials by the $5 million they paid to get them on TV, I'm disappointed in this junk food stereotype.

Hyundai "First Date" w/ Kevin Hart: I was turned off during this whole spot which basically declared war between Hart and his daughter's date, leaving the daughter to play the prize to be won/protected. Not only is the overprotective dad thing way overdone everywhere, but in this ad, the daughter doesn't have a voice at all. Also: notice how this review isn't even about Hyundai at all? That's some ineffective marketing.

Every ad for bodily functions or financesPeople of the advertising world need to understand something. Ain't nobody watching the Super Bowl to see bodily functions anthropomorphized. We're here to eat, watch football, and hopefully get entertained. Please don't preach to us about the economy.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat Weird (aka I'm Too Old For These Commercials)

Taco Bell Quesalupa: How many different quasi-Mexican foods can you Frankenstein together before college kids and people who need food at bar close stop trusting you? Apparently at least one more.

Bai Horse Whisperer: It's not supposed to make sense, so I guess we shouldn't force it.

Mountain Dew "Puppy Monkey Baby": Clearly the winner of the weird last night. Will it be a sales winner as well? I highly doubt it.

I'll leave you with this:

Saturday, February 6, 2016


LucyLucy by Laurence Gonzales
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): In this book (found at a thrift store and quickly snatched up by Jesus), a anthropologist (Jenny) rescues an orphaned teenage girl (Lucy), caught in the midst of a Congolese civil war. Jenny begins raising Lucy as her own daughter, but soon finds out she is more than just a teenage girl - she is also half bonobo.

First thoughts: In its early pages especially, Lucy feels like it's still finding its footing. It reads like an early draft, with lots of unnecessary description. Luckily that seems to fall away as the action progresses, but the dialogue remains stilted and awkward. My suspension of disbelief muscle had its work cut out for it as page after page I thought to myself, "Nope, that's not how that would happen," but the content kept me interested enough to keep reading.

Similarities: Jenny reminds me a lot of Diana from A Discovery of Witches - fiercely protective, smart, and tender all at the same time. Both characters have a strong resolve, but won't turn down a cup of tea or a glass of wine before getting down to business.

Book Club Discussions: I'm still waiting for Jesus to finish this so we can talk about it. Already (I think he's 30 pages in) he's like, "Why didn't you tell me xxxx happened in the first pages?" and I'm like "What? I don't remember that." so it'll be interesting to see how different our reading experiences are.

Final thoughts: I like the ending. I'm not sure why the characters didn't reach that natural conclusion earlier, but then I guess there wouldn't be a story. As a whole, Lucy brings up many questions of what it means to be human.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Things My Students Say 3

A random sample of things overheard both in my classroom and in the classrooms I co-teach in during the day:

Student: There's this kid, well it's [name], but I'm not going to call him out...
Teacher: You kind of just did.

Student, as he proceeds to eat tamales instead of do homework as asked: Your class is fun!

"I'm working on STUFF. That stands for Super Technical Undercover Fun Facts."

Teacher: Comprehending means to under...
Student: Armour!

After going on a super cool behind the scenes tour of Motorola's test labs: We got granola bars!

Teacher: What is a housewife?
Student: A wife. Who lives in a house.

Student: Does this school have a mascot?
Tour Guide: Yes, we're the Jaguars!
Student: Who do I contact about being the mascot?

Reading about artificial flavors: What's thatƱata colada?

Me: Homework builds character!
Student: I don't need to build character, I AM a character!

Me: Okay, children...
Student: Yes, Mary Poppins?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hello, Tuesday.

The groundhog predicted an early spring, Iowa is Feelin the Bern, and I have my first month of one second clips compiled into a neat little 31 second video. What's not to be happy about?