Apr 222014

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of menu planning.  I wrote about it here and I post my dinner plans every couple weeks.  Menu plans help keep me sane: I know what to get at the supermarket, I can plan for nights I know I have to go out and I can have Brian start meals when I’m out of the house.  I really have a hard time identifying with people who don’t plan menus, doing so does not work for me.


A couple weeks ago, I set out to follow my menu as planned:  Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers from Food52.  But when as I began making the recipe, I realized that the patties were supposed to sit in the fridge for a few hours, if not longer.  I’d intentionally planned to make the dish on Sunday because I knew it’d be a little more time intensive, but I didn’t have that much time.  So, I finished shaping the patties, then put them in the fridge to be cooked up on Monday and made something else instead.  I was rather frustrated, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

It wouldn’t have been that big a deal at all, except that isn’t the first time I grossly underestimated the amount of time a recipe would take.  So I’m trying two new things to help me avoid that sort of chaos:

1.  Including extra-long cooking times to my menu plan.  This doesn’t apply to the majority of recipes I make, but when I try something new that takes longer than average (baking, time resting in the fridge, letting butter soften, etc.) I’m making a note under the recipe name in my menu plan.  It’s not fancy (you can see an example on the 19th, below), but it gets the job done and forces me to look at the recipes I’m planning to make before 5 pm on the evening I’m supposed to be making them.

menu plan

2.  Making notes on my my saved recipes and in my cookbooks.  Clearly, not a revolutionary idea; I suspect most people put notes in the margins of their cookbooks.  I’d really fallen out of the habit though and at the rate I try new recipes, it’s important that I write down anything I learned from the experience and how long it actually took.  Sometimes I don’t remember if I’d made a recipe before and this should help me keep track better. 

Here’s to more effective planning!

Apr 182014

I’ve been attending or working in a school 9 months out of the year for every one of my last 27 years, from pre-school to finally working under a teacher’s contract as of last January.  I’ve had a lot of teachers and met a lot of students.  It’s no secret that teachers do more than just impart knowledge to students.  I’ve seen teachers work as counselors, cooks, nurses, therapists, meteorologists, coaches, motivational speakers, garbage collectors and more.

With all these roles, teaching can be a bit overwhelming.  Looking back over my career in the classroom, there were so many teachers that impacted me.  My middle school art teachers, who let me spend many of my afternoons creating, my AP English teacher who fostered my continuing love for all things Steinbeck, the college professors who encouraged me to write an honors thesis and present at conferences and all of the other caring, patient adults I interacted with as I grew up really helped shape who I am now.  As a teacher, the impact of other teachers has not diminished at all.  I owe a debt of gratitude to my high school history teacher, who first let me intern in his classroom when I was still a student.  My cooperating teachers, who doubt that I could manage a classroom at all, have fueled my desire to prove otherwise since 2007.  My co-workers have pushed me and encouraged me to try new things professionally and in my classroom since the moment I got my first job in Maine and continuing through my current role in the Berkshires, despite my breakdowns in department meetings, lack of full time status until recently, and inexperience in my field.  Very few of these lessons have to do with content specifically; they’re about life.  Teachers have taught me to set high goals and not to give up.  If there’s a group of people that have really changed my life, it’s teachers.

When I think about all that the teachers I know have done for me, I want to pass that encouragement on to my students.  For six hours each day I have the opportunity to be a really positive force in my students’ lives.  I’m even more inspired when I see videos of other incredible teachers, like this one:

It can take a lot to be a teacher though.  There’s a constant stream of work to be done, the regulations are always changing, students can be exhausting and unappreciative, and more often than not, teachers are supplementing the supplies in the classroom with their own purchases, especially in underfunded areas.  For many of us, that’s just part of the job.  You need pencils, binders, calculators of lab materials for your students?  Then you go out and buy them.   That’s why I’m excited to let you know about the Adopt-a-Classroom program from Office Depot.

Office Depot and Adopt-A-Classroom have partnered to raise awareness about teachers, and all that they do in the lives of their students.  Adopt-A-Classroom is a nonprofit organization that helps connect donors with teachers to enhance the learning environment for students.  Teachers all over the country and in your local area are doing amazing, innovative things in their classrooms and you can help them do more by donating.  Are you a teacher who could use more resources to change lives in your school?  Register on Adopt-a-Classroom and let people help you.

If you have any stories of teachers that changed your life, I’d love to read them in the comments.  We could all use more inspiration!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Apr 132014
Highlights: Easter + Sponsor Shout Out

Can you believe Easter is only a week away?  Are you ready? I’m not, on a practical or spiritual level.  I always intend to prepare myself more for the major Christian holidays and spend more time soaking in their significance, but making that a priority is much easier said than done, though the She Reads [...]

Apr 062014
Spice Blends–My Kind of Convenience (Review & Giveaway!)

Remember that time (3 days ago) when I posted about making more things instead of buying them?  There’s another aspect to that philosophy that I didn’t really include.  To borrow a phrase from Rachel Wilkerson’s earlier writings, “Don’t be ridiculous”.  I have a full time job, I’m a graduate student, I have a husband who [...]

Why Buy When You Can Make?

 Posted by at 7:26 pm
Apr 032014
Why Buy When You Can Make?

Occasionally I’m asked what my blog is about, or what my philosophy on food is – they’re both pretty intertwined.  I generally say one of two things: Michael Pollan’s “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” or my own “why buy something when you can make it yourself?”  But as much as I agree with [...]

Highlights: Spring Vegetables

 Posted by at 6:27 pm
Mar 302014
Highlights: Spring Vegetables

I don’t know about in your neck of the woods, but around here, it’s finally looking like spring.  The weather’s warmed up a little bit, the snow is melting and it’s been raining tons (April showers, right?)  I know I’m not alone in my desire for this long winter to end as soon as possible [...]

Old and New, a Menu Plan

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Mar 282014
Old and New, a Menu Plan

You may have noticed a lack of menu plans around here lately.  Why?  For one thing, I wasn’t sure people were really finding them interesting/useful.  That, and the fact that I haven’t really been planning menus for the past several weeks. My period of un-planning wasn’t intentional, but looking back it was definitely an interesting [...]