Friday, March 30, 2012


First week of student teaching? CHECK!

It's the quarter that I have been hearing about for 4 years. That I have been preparing for, getting scared about, and stressing over. And, its finally underway! I. AM. PUMPED!

Because my excitement completely hinders me from writing anything cohesive, here's a list of random things from the first week:

1) So far, I am loving the school that I am working in. 
They have basically thrown me in to the teacher role, complete with teacher email address, parking spot, and access to online grade books. I am so in!

The teachers I am working with are also great. Like I explained here, I am working with both a Math teacher (we'll call him Mr. S, for anonymity's sake) and a Spanish teacher (Sra. C) at the same time. I spend the morning in Mr. S's Algebra and Geometry classes and the afternoon in Sra. C's Spanish II and III classes. All of my favorite subjects in everyday!

2) As you can see, when I start taking over classes, I will have 4 preps. 
That is teacher mumbo-jumbo for four sets of lesson plans and materials every day. That's a whole freaking lot. Most teachers in this school only have 3. And, I've never done this full-time before! I'm hoping that my hyper-organizational tendencies will help me out with this one. 
NOT my organizational style. (source)

3) 5:30am is really freaking early. 
I have to be at school before 7:32, so I aim for 7:20. With the hour commute and the time it takes to get myself out of bed and ready to go, it's a 5:30 alarm every morning. It's rough. I eat my breakfast during the drive which helps keep me awake, but I feel like I'm struggling to keep my eyes open all day long. 
NOT cool. (source)

4) Speaking of staying awake, actually teaching is waaaay better than just observing
I spent the first few days watching how the teachers do their daily thang. It helps me get acclimated to their classrooms and the students behavior. It also is a recipe for drowsiness. I found myself standing or walking around the room just to keep myself from falling asleep in my chair. As I got more involved in the classes (taking attendance, offering answers to questions, doing and impromptu review activity with Spanish III), I became more energetic and the classes went by so much faster. 

5) I get another Spring Break this week!
The school is off for their SB this week, so I am off the hook. 2 weeks of in one season? I'll totally take that. Although, it does mean that I am missing out on a week of experience. Pros and cons to every situation.

6) I will start teaching the monday after SB!
At least, one class. Spanish II, which is 3 periods. I am hitting the ground running by taking over all three periods at once. I will slowly phase into the other classes by picking up the math and other Spanish class every few days. I am chomping at the bit! Let's change some lives.

Overall, this experience is going to be like putting all of my other field experiences from the last 4 years together into one crazy, packed quarter. I know I am going to feel overwhelmed, but if I stay organized an don top of things, don't let my physical health go by the the wayside, and get enough sleep, I know I can knock it out of the park! The more time I spend in the classroom, the more I realize that this is definitely what I am supposed to be doing. This eases some of the terror of my impending graduation and entrance into that thing they call the "real world". Let's get out there and shape some minds!

Here's to kicking a$$ this quarter!
~ Rach

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIAW Spring Break!

It's that time again, folks! Everyone's favorite blog party!
Thanks again to Jenn for hosting! I don't know what my Wednesdays would be like without her!

Last week, I was in Hilton Head with my besties. Although they did mostly communal meals, I decided to pack/take care of my own food so that they wouldn't have to make any alterations or special efforts for me. As I explained, it was harder than I expected. Still, I managed to get in some pretty good, veggie-filled, micro-cooked meals. Here's what I managed to document.

 Breakfasts look like this. Obviously, I toted my entire stash of oats withe me. Enjoyed in the morning sun on the back deck.
 Beach snacks/lunches look mostly like this: fruit, carrots, luna bars (they got all gooey and melty on the beach. even better). And tons of peanut butter sandwiches. Too many. I may be PB'ed out. Yea, right.
 Dinners were of the steamed veggie variety. With a frozen veggie burger. Mixed into black bean soup. On top of a sweet potato (it's under there, I promise).
 We had to hit up the classic Salty Dog, and it was here that I had the absolute best meal of the trip. Their homemade black bean burger (smothered in hot sauce and mustard, obviously) with a side of fruit and extra pickles. So satisfying. MMmmmm.
 The one coffee I had over the whole week. It was heaven.
And, of course, afternoon cocktails from the Frosty Frog shared with my roomie-love Allie.

Quick post, but I'm exhausted. I had my first day of Student Teaching today! Recap to come later.

Here's to getting in those greens!
~ Rach

Monday, March 26, 2012

One Year VEGANiversary

Happy 1st VEGANiversary to me!!!
A year ago today I made good on the decision I had made during my time abroad in Spain and made the transition and commitment to a vegan diet. Slowly, this way of life has invaded other parts of my life as well, and I have never been happier! More on that in a second, but first, take a look at how I celebrated!

A vegan feast, of course!
I made this delightful dinner for myself using two new vegan eats I had been wanting to try for months!
 First of all, look at that mess. The shear number of pots and dishes this meal made for me makes it special. I'm a one pot girl normally, but this meal called for more clean-up dedication, which I was fine with because I was celebrating!
First up, the vegan pumpkin mac 'n cheeze from Oh She Glows. I have had this recipe bookmarked for months, but whenever I thought to make it, I was missing one or more of the ingredients. By a happy accident today, though, I had everything I needed. I made 1/4 of the recipe, and it was the perfect single portion for me. 

The grade? A solid A-. This was mighty tasty. I actually ate it last- I've always been a save-the-best-for-last kind of person. It would have gotten an A, but honestly, it didn't really taste like mac'n cheese at all. Still, it was a delicious creamy pasta dish, and my taste buds were definitely happy. 

See those strip-like things in the back? Those are Gardein Chick'n Strips.
Every time I go grocery shopping, I take a look at the faux meat products with curiosity. However, my college-girl budget and my dislike for the texture of both meat and the fake stuff has always deterred me. This time though, I had a coupon. Oh, magic of advertising and consumerism. I bit the bullet and bought the box to try out tonight.

The verdict? C- 
Blechg! Not so good. Like I expected, I didn't go for the texture. Too meat-like, maybe. Also, they were kind of bland and tasteless. I will probably finish the box just because my wallet can't bear the sight of me throwing away food, but I won't be using my other coupon for these guys. 

Everything was served alongside some sauteed onions, cabbage, and kale. Gotta get those greens in!

Of course, I had to have a celebratory desert:
Chocolate oats? You betcha! Fancied up with some rainbow sprinkles (I think sprinkles will be a must on all future bowls of choco-oats) and "1" candle we had in a random drawer in the kitchen- a left over from all those 21st bashes we had last year.

As I reflect on this year, I can see that my decision to follow a plant-based diet was one of the best I have ever made. It opened my eyes up to a whole new world of food out there. Food that makes me feel good both physically (and digestively) and emotionally. Because of the research I have been doing ever since I started thinking about the switch, I have learned how food really affects my body. What I need, what I don't, and how to balance it all.

Food has gone from being the enemy to being my best friend. Healthy living is not only an interest anymore, it is a passion, and I think I finally understand what "healthy" means. Yes, as my last post shows, I still struggle sometimes to see the light through all the nonsense that goes on in my head. But, the fact that I recognize it as nonsense and not reality is evidence of the growth I have made in the past year. 

People often ask me if I think I will ever give up veganism. And while I know that I am only 22 and cannot foresee my entire future, right now, I can't see and end to it anytime soon.

Here's to many more VEGANiversaries!
~ Rach

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back to Reality

Well, Senior-year Spring Break has come to a close. I have done the 10 hour car ride to Hilton Head, lived it up for 8 amazing days, and just got home after the 10 hours back to Athens. 

By some miracle, this trip went amazingly smoothly. With 10 kids, all with strong personalities, all packed into the same house, we were all able to work together, compromise, and basically keep everyone happy. It was a blast!

As with all group trips, there were some minor bumps in the road, but we moved past them. It ended up being a fantastic time, and I am so happy to say that I have grown closer to some already great friends!

Cue the recap! We'll start with the highlights:

Maj-oh beach time!
I'm not generally a beach lover (too much mess for me), but I really enjoyed hanging out with all my friends. I got some good tan time, and I even braved the water... for a few minutes.

 Great Food!
Among other places, we went to the Salty Dog Cafe where I had the best meal of the trip. I'll do an entirely food-dedicated post later.

Hunger Games!
The four of us who had read the books went to the midnight showing. I'm not going to lie, I didn't love the movie, but it was a great time.

Along with the highlights, there are always low points

For me personally, it wasn't even about the little bouts of drama that came up. I can easily let that stuff roll off my shoulders and get over it. My biggest struggle was the lack of control I felt the whole week. I was out of my normal environment and schedule, eating differently than I like to, and not exercising. I tried really hard to not let my disordered thoughts take over too much. I wanted to really enjoy this trip since I knew it would be one of the last times all of my friends would have the opportunity to do this together.

But, the disordered thoughts were there to rear their ugly heads. There were definitely times where I was disappointed in myself for my lack of self-control and all of the over indulgence. Believe me, there was a lot of indulgence. From food to booze. My confidence in my bathing suit was on a steady decline throughout the whole trip, and this morning when I woke up, I hated the way I looked in the mirror. I definitely gained a few lbs this week. I know it's not just in my head this time because my jean shorts don't really fit me after this week, and with the bloating and digestive issues I have been dealing with all day, my body is obviously unhappy with me.

I also know that just one week of being back on my regular work out schedule, staying away from the alcohol, and eating clean, I'll be back to where I was. I am trying to focus on that, and not think about punishing myself for this week of craziness.

It's incredibly hard, though. I really am disappointed in myself for allowing myself to do all of this (I know I shouldn't be, but I just can't really seem to help that.). At the same time, too, I am envious of my girlfriends who seem to be able to eat whatever, run around in their bikinis, drink anything, and not stay up at night panicking about the damage they don't feel that they are doing to their bodies. 

There is always a silver lining, or a rainbow after a storm (a good omen, as my crazy host mom would say). This is an opportunity to learn from myself. Learn how to bounce back after this and get back to feeling my best- without punishing myself with over-restriction. That is the goal this week as I begin my adventure into student teaching: get back to feeling like myself again- the happy me who isn't consumed with regret for my consumption.

Here's to moving on in a healthy way.
~ Rach

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Time Goes So Fast

Aaaand... Winter quarter is over! I am officially on Spring Break!!! 

About 2 hours ago, I finished my last final exam of my las academic quarter of my undergraduate career. I say last academic quarter because I still have one more quarter, but I will be student teaching, and not taking any actual classes.

As I reflected, this quarter has been one full of growth. I am so happy with where I am, and I can't wait to really get into the classroom next quarter and start changing some lives.

All next week, I will be in gorgeous Hilton Head with 9 of my best friends staying for free at one of their grandma's house. I can't wait to hang out on the beach with these crazies!

There won't be any internet there, so expect some recap posts when I get back into town.

Here's to livin' it up!
~ Rach

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Winter Quarter Goals: The importance of self-reflection

Every quarter (my college is on the quarter system rather than semester, I set goals for myself. I write them in my old-school, pen-and-paper journal, and I refer back to them to keep myself motivated throughout the quarter. Before I get into my self-over-analyzation, let's see how they turned out:
1. Get and Stay < 115 
 Yep, that's a weight goal. One that I didn't need. I am proud to say it was crossed off the list at the waaaay beginning of the quarter and forgotten. I haven't weighed myself in over 2 months, and I'm loving the freedom from the numbers.

2. Work out at least 3xs a week
Success. This one was in an effort to develop and workout routine that I could really keep up. I have done this and then some, and I have to say, I feel awesome. I can tell I'm getting stronger!

3. 4.0 GPA
Haha, yea right. Abstract Algebra has ruined this one for me. But, I'm still trying to get as high as possible for the quarter.

4. Write a new song and work on getting better at guitar.
 Sorry to say, this one fell by the wayside. But, I made a new friend who also plays, and we vowed to "jam" together next quarter.

5. Spend Money more responsibly
Yea, that's still a work in progress. I just love grocery shopping!

If you can read my handwriting about, you can figure that one out for yourself

7. Continue building important relationships
Done and done. I am closer with my core group of friends than ever before, and we are all heading to HHI for Spring Break next week. This one will, obviously, continue indefinitely in the future.

I think personal reflection is really important. In the last 7-or-so months that my world has turned upside down, and I have begun the process of figuring out who I am and what I like about myself, the time I spent thinking about myself has sky rocketed. I know, I sound like am uber-conceited person right now, but what I have come to realize is that self-reflection is crucial. For me, it keeps me grounded and focused on what is truly important - something I have always seriously struggled with.

I have made assertions recently that I am making a conscious effort to focus on doing things and making decisions that I feel are right for me. Instead of pleasing all of the people around me first, I am considering my needs and responding to them. My tendency to do the opposite of this leads me to let myself get absorbed in others' lives rather than concentrating on making mine exactly what I want it to be. Honestly, this is one of the major reasons that my last relationship failed. I gave all of my time and effort to making him happy, and he (being the really good guy that he is) realized that this wasn't fair to me and ended things. He said that I needed to figure out how to love myself and make myself happy before I could do the same for someone else.

Although it was hard for me to see at first, he was right. Damn, that kid is smart. As I began to pull myself out of the heartbreak, I realized the work I needed to do on myself and began the whole "figuring out what I love about myself process".

To my surprise, I was overcome with feelings of guilt. I felt like I was going from being a complete giver to someone whose daily focus was on themself. It was really weighing me down, so I opened up to my amazing Dad about it. He understands me on a level that no one else does. I have always been a Daddy's girl, but as I have gotten older, we have gotten even closer. He knows just what to say to me to cheer me up or, in this case, shed some light on something that I am struggling with.

During our heart to heart (which happened in the car this weekend- that's were all the best talks happen), he inspired me with this little nugget of wisdom:
"There's a difference between being self-centered and having a centered self"
He elaborated by opening my eyes to the difference between being only concerned with my own wants/needs and taking the time to make sure my self is balanced and fulfilled.

I should never apologize for taking the time and energy to work on centering myself and making sure that I feel fulfilled in all parts of my life. I also need to learn to ask for help when I am struggling. I hate putting my anxieties and fears on the backs of my loved ones, but no one can get through everything completely on their own.

Although it's hard, I am taking the time to really make myself happy, and I have never known myself better. As much as it hurt at the time, the heartbreak and subsequent rebuilding that I experienced this year has been a blessing. When I am finally ready to let someone back in again, I will be confident in who I am. I will love myself and make myself happy, and that alone, will make them happy.

Here's to allowing what I've learned lead me on the right step towards tomorrow.
~ Rach

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quick Trip Home

Last week, I randomly decided that I needed a night back at home this weekend. That would have all been dandy if I didn't already have plans Saturday night and all day Sunday. But, I was determined and made the quickest trip home ever. In 24 hours, I drove for six, slept for six, and hung out with the fam for 12.

Although it was rushed and I wished I could have stayed longer, it was just what I needed. A little time with loved ones was the perfect thing to refresh me and get me ready for the hell that is exam week this week.

The visit started off meeting Dad at the Carrabba's where Bro works. It's on my way into town, and Dad was out working, so it made sense to just meet there. The Bro always takes care of me, and made sure the kitchen made me a perfect vegan feast.
The remains of my Fiorucci salad without cheese and a side of sauted zucchini and tomato sauce. Soooo tasty along with about an entire loaf of their warm, bread.
 After dinner, Dad and I headed over to Bro's house to spend a little time playing with this monster before Bro got off work. Meet Jolene. The most exciting member of the family. She's a terror, but might be the best dog ever.
 When I finally got to my house around midnight, I was welcomed with this mess in my old room. You know you are grown up when your parents start using your room as storage. At least they cleared of the bed for me.
 Breakfast the next day was courtesy of my parents kitchen. The only thing better than oats for break fast is oats/berries/PB on your parents tab. I wasn't thinking and made less than I normally do, so the bowl was refilled with some old-school cheerios and soy milk.
 After breakfast, my dad took me to a new coffee shop, Bilog, that just opened in my little home town. It's hard to believe, but this is the only coffee spot in the whole town. It was something we definitely needed, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.
 I loved the modern decor. It had a chill vibe, and was nice and open and clean. They offer a great variety of single-source coffees and some little-bite style lunch options as well as baked goods. Dad and I kept is simple with some coffees enjoyed by the window.
 Dad wanted to portray the thoughtful look in this one. And the coffee? Yummo! No creamer necessary. I love times like this with my dad. The discussions we have take every twist and turn you could imagine, and he always leaves me with some amazing little nuggets of insight. (more on that later).

We picked Mom up from the airport, and headed back to Bro's for some take-out lunch. The restaurant they picked didn't leave me with many options, so I had a pretty lack-luster salad topped with mustard and a few of Mom's sweet potato fries.
Luckily, the Parents kitchen was stocked for me to pick through when I got home. And that was it. I headed back to Athens 24 hours after I left. But, the travel time and gas money were absolutely worth it.
Ready to take on these exams now!

Here's to appreciating the simple, unconditional love of family.
~ Rach

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fashion Friday

This quarter, my roommate Allie and I decided to make an effort to actually get dressed everyday for class. Like many busy college students who don't usually have the time, energy or money to care what we look like,  we both often wore sweats and tshirts or our workout gear to class and meetings. Yea, not so adult and professional of us.

Since winter is so dreary here, we thought that "getting cute" in the morning would help us stave off that inevitable seasonal depression that hits every year. Fortunately, this winter has been mild, and there have been way more nice days than any winter I can remember.

Still, it was nice to make a little time for myself every morning to do a little primping. I just feel better about myself all day when I feel like I look nice. I think it even helps me stay motivated and productive. Am I the only one who thinks this? I know my roommate agrees, but she and I are kind of the same person.

This past week, I took the time to photo most of what I wore, and I figured I might as well share it here. Seeing how someone presents themselves is a great way to get a little insight on who they are.

So, here's Rach in a week through clothes.

 Monday- This is "I'm spending all afternoon in the library" style. Leggings, long sweater. But my hair and make-up are done, and these aren't athletic leggings, so it counts.
 Tuesday- We could call this "teacher-chic". That's what my roommates call me when I wear cardigans. Loving the details in this one.
 Wednesday- It was super warm out, so I broke out my favorite sandals. Wednesday was also Green Beer Day, which meant an early night out. I love not getting all dressed up to go out. Jeans and tshirt any day.
Friday- Pretty quintessential "me" outfit. Skinnies, boots, scarf.

Me and the roomies looking hot for a night out. Even though we may love our jeans/leggings, we still know how to clean up nice.

Here's to a great weekend ahead!!!
~ Rach

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Baking Sorta' Success

I had one of those random moments today where I just wanted to bake. Yes, I could (and probably should) have been studying for finals or working on my lesson for tomorrow or napping, but my heart wanted to spend my downtime in the kitchen.

Now, I will never claim to be an all-star baker but I stumbled upon this recipe for Genius Blondies over at Chocolate Covered Katie, and I was intrigued. I've always loved using beans in baked goods, especially black bean brownies, but a blondie without flour? Interesting, very interesting.

I tried to follow her recipe pretty closely since I know my baking defeats have come as a result of my inability to do so. She noted that the peanut butter could be subbed for another fat, and since I only have about 1/4 cup left which is, obviously, reserved for my morning oats, I used an avocado instead. I think it worked out pretty well keeping things light. I was hoping it would turn them green, but alas, no fun colors were reached. I also subbed the choco chips with a bunch of cinnamon since I didn't have any chips and I freaking love cinnamon.
 Ingredients ready to go. Yep, there's flour there. Totally forgot about the no-flour part of the recipe. It was super easy to throw together. Just buzz the whole lot in the food processor and smush it in the pan.
 Didn't have the right size pan either. But the batter (can you call it that with no flour?) was super thick, so this worked just fine.
 Fresh out of the oven, so far so good.
 When I sliced into it, though, I got a little nervous. The texture was unexpected, and I was worried. First bite, though, and I was intrigued. It's definitely more of a fudge-y texture than a blondie, but it was nicely sweet and I loved the addition of the cinnamon.

My roommates taste-tested them too, and they really liked them! They make fun of my terrible vegan baking, so it was exciting that they actually enjoyed these. I don't think they'll be hanging around too long on our counter! I decided on a grade of B for these. I think chocolate chips may have made them perfect.
A topping of peanut butter makes everything even better. (Please excuse the horrible nails. I don't even know how it's possible that it chipped like that)

Here's to wasting time with unnecessary fun stuff!
~ Rach

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Happy Hump-Day, folks! 

You know what that means,
It's What I Ate Wednesday! from Jenn over at Peas and Crayons. My favorite mid-week distraction that happens to fall on my weekly day of no classes. Let's hope I can control myself this week, though. Girl's got shit to do!

Here's what Tuesday looked like through shots of my food.

8:00a Gym
Even though I have been working out later in the day lately, I went before breakfast this morning. I was awake. I had 3 hours to kill before class. Thought I might as well.

9:30a Breakfast
The coffee shop in front of my apartment building was giving away free coffees this morning for some event sponsored by CoffeeMate, so I made sure to grab one on my way back from the gym.
I know, another bowl of oats eaten at my desk. But this one was extra special because of the addition of half a banana (the experiment is going well!) and a topping of the first scoop of a brand new jar of PB. There is nothing like the goopy first spoon full. Runny delights for my taste buds.
1:00p Lunch
Made it through my first 2 classes and a meeting with one of my favorite Profs. Came home to make this beauty- another meal eaten at my desk: we'll call it my version of a working lunch.
Monstuo de ensalada: Spinach, carrots, celery, cukes, avocado, broc slaw, chick peas. Balsamic and nooch on top. Eaten at turbo speed.
And, because even lunch needs dessert:
A microwave-baked apple: slice it thin, top with cinnamon, and zap for 2 min.
4:00p Snack
Eaten as stealthily as possible during class. Ahhh, who am I kidding, there was no courtesy-effort made. 
 6:30p Dinner
Before running off to my evening of meetings. Why must all of my clubs/student organizations insist on having their meetings on the same night?
Sauted onions, mushrooms, kale, and tofu with yesterday's kabocha and some whole wheat pasta mixed in.
This was utterly scrumptious, and I was proud of myself for this one. Pasta has been a fear food of mine for years. I would binge on it, and those empty carbs? Obviously let to immediate 10-pound gains. Well, not tonight, ladies and gents, a enjoyed every bite of those noodles without letting those thoughts in once! Pat on the back for me.

Dessert was an unpictured square of dark chocolate topped in more of that gooey PB. Some cereal snackage will definitely be happening after those meetings.

Here's to a day of good GREEN food!
~ Rach