Friday, June 29, 2012

Finally... Home, Sweet Home

Almost exactly a week ago, My spectacular father and I, packed up the van and schlepped all my stuff to my new apartment- closer to my new job, and conveniently the perfect hour-or-so drive from the 'rents.

It's a move I was looking forward to for the past 2 years, and I have to say, I'm in love. The place is perfect for me. Big, but not too big. Clean. Updated, but not brand new. In a community with nice management and a pool. Literally everything that my college apartment was not.

This past week was spent getting things obsessively organized and arranged how I like them. Literally, that's what I did all week. Well, except for my daily couple of hours spent at Starbucks using the internet (finally getting cable and internet installed on Tuesday!)... I think they have begun to know me there.

So, want a tour? Good because you're getting one. Don't worry, it won't be long. It's a small place.

Dining room/ Office? I needed somewhere to work and keep all my teachery stuff... and eat. Enter bookshelf as storage and dining room table (inherited from my grandparents house) as desk.
Living room. Don't worry that horrendous pink chair is getting a slipcover as soon as Amazon delivers it. That couch is also slip covered... to disguise a eye-tiring floral pattern. Both pieces donated by my parents. Good their tastes have evolved since the 80s.
Where all the magic sleeping happens. Seriously this room is huge. I could do cartwheels. Yes, I am 22 and still sleep with my childhood teddy. His name is Elvis. No Shame. Don't judge. did I ever survive without a walk-in closet? And why can I never find anything to wear? 
My. Own. Bathroom. Enough said.
And my baby. The kitchen. See that fridge? It's all mine!
And a couple from out side:
I have a view of the lake from my patio. I call these guys my neighbors... and I had a little fun with instagram.
14? Really?
The life of a teacher is tough during summer break.
I love love love this place. My next mission is to fill all those blank walls with some original art. My mom is working on a quilt to hang over the couch, and I have some pieces already done and left over from my old place, but I can't wait to create some more and fill all the blank-ness! Good thing I have all summer to plan my lessons and get my classroom organized to decorate!

Here's to making a house a home!
~ Rach

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mission Impossible?

Operation force-myself-to-become-a-"runner" has officially begun.

Yep, me, who for the past 22 years of my existence have claimed to "absolutely hate running".

I'm trying it. I weighed all kinds of options in my head, and this seemed to be the best decision. Besides, I have surprised myself repeatedly over the past year in the exercise department, so who is to say I can't?

My top reasons for giving the running thing another try:

1. It will save me money on a gym membership. Since I won't start getting paid till the school year starts, and I just moved into my own apartment (moving is maj-oh! expensive, by the way), my budget is tight. I mean really tight. It is a good way to save the $40 dollars extra that a gym membership would add to my monthly bill. Honestly, this is my main reason. Once that pay check starts rolling in, I might most definitely will add it back in.

2. I have always wanted to, but never had the confidence. I have always admired runners: their stamina, will power, legs. However, I have always been self-conscious trying it out myself. I am not what I would call athletic. I was always a competitive dancer, but anything not choreographed to music sent shivers of uneasiness through my spine. Add the fact that the last running experience I had was thanks to an over-critical, personal training boyfriend, and you have the perfect recipe for "too scared to embarrass myself" syndrome. 

But, I'm in a new city, where no one knows me. I don't have that boyfriends' voice in the back of my mind anymore (thank goodness, right!?). What the heck. Let me put myself out there, and see how it goes. 

3. It's a good way to check out the neighborhood. Alright, this one might be a stretch, but I hate even numbers, so I wanted to get it up to 3.

So, this morning, I set my alarm early, and set out for my first try at this thing. I am the kind of person that I need to just force myself to do it for a week or so, and it will become habit, part of my routine. 

I did about 2 miles, and I would say I ran about half of the time and walked the other. Honestly, this is better than I expected, and a pleasant surprise. My plan is to do this same path until I can run the whole thing, and then add on more distance. I am committing myself to doing it daily for at least the next 10 days. And then, I will reconsider if I feel like I need to splurge on the gym membership. So far, so good.

Here's to a wild leap outside my comfort zone- no quitting!
~ Rach

Saturday, June 23, 2012

BIG changes

Yea some crazy things have been going on around here.

Take a guess:

Yep, that's all my shit (sorry, there really is no other word for all the crap) strewn across my parents' house.
Yep, and that's all my shit (well half of it) piled into a van.

Put two and two together... I moved out!

Into my very first, on-my-own, paying-for-it-with-my-own-paycheck (when I start teaching in the fall. Thanks Mom and Dad!), post-college-grad apartment! I am in love with the place my dad found for me. He really is incredible.

I would love to share photos, but honestly, the place is a mess. I had to escape to Starbucks for a few to get out of the clutter. It makes me crazy! But, give me a few days and I will have it under control for a tour!

This is going to be a super exciting and nerve-racking transition for me, and I am going to be sharing it all. I'm growing up. For real this time. Not like I thought I was when I left Mom and Dad's house to go to college four years ago. This is the real deal. With responsibilities. And expectations. And bills! It's a make it or break it, and I am up for the challenge. Rearing to go!

So, here's to settling in to being out of my comfort zone!
~ Rach

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Screaming "Summer!": Italian-Style Lentil Loaf

It's sweltering outside. Temperatures in the low 90s.

Perfectly sunny sky. And, I just finished cleaning 30 chairs out in the garage.

It's safe to say I'm *schvitzing*. Sweating my balls off, if you will.

Sounds like the perfect time for some hearty, home-cooked, comfort food, right?

Eh, not exactly. Normally, I would have been wanting something cool and refreshing for dinner, but tonight, I had one thing on the brain. Meat Lentil Loaf. For no explicable reason. I had found a recipe that I wanted to change (always), and it's one of my Dad's favorite meals. Done and Done.

Lesson: Italian-Stlye Lentil Loaf

  • 2 c. cooked lentils
  • 1.5 c. old fashioned oats
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • .5 c shredded zucchini
  • .5 c shredded carrot
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 3/4 c jarred tomato sauce (I used Classico Tomato and Basil)
  • as much as you like- dried basil, oregano, and parsely (feel free to use fresh if you have it)
  • salt and pepper
Activities and Procedures:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a loaf pan.
  • Sauté the onions and garlic until soft, about 5 min.
  • In a food processor, blend 1 c of both the lentils and oats until roughly ground. (This is personal preference- however fine you want it.
  • Empty this into a bowl and combine with remaining lentils and oats. Add the cooked onions and garlic, zucc and carrots, and 1/2 c of the tomato sauce and stir to combine well.
  • Dump it all in the pan, and cover with the remaining tomato sauce.
  • Bake that sucker for about 4 min.
  • Let stand for 10 min before cutting in so that it can get solid again.
  • Enjoy!

This was a mighty tasty one, and a homerun with the Pops. He likes my vegan cooking but often complains that it isn't substantial enough. This one though was perfect for him. A great combo of protein and carbs. And, warm and comforting.
I enjoyed mine along with some crispy salad, steamed greenbeans, and some more, sriracha-spiked tomato sauce. Hit the spot! And the veg kept it light and cool for summer. A delightful dinner!

Here's to enjoying some awesome- and unseasonal- dishes on the parents' tab!
~ Rach

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WIAW Summertime

When I was a student, and now teaching, one of my favorite things about school was the routine. I liked going to the classes everyday, and now I like my routine of teaching each class everyday. One of the hardest things about summer break is the three week stop in that schedule. To help keep me sane, I try and keep on somewhat of a daily routine during the summer, too. It makes the back-to-school transition much easier.

What better way to outline that schedule than with the best link-up party of the week! Having the time to creep on everyone's daily eats is definitely one huge plus to Summer vacation!
Peas and Crayons
Thanks again to Jenn for hosting!

Some where between 8:30 & 9, I get my patooty out of bed. I like to let myself enjoy sleeping in during summer, but not too late. 
At 9:30ish, breakfast ensued. That totally awesome OU mug was first filled with hot lemon water that I sipped on while I waited to get hungry. Just haven't been waking up ready for breakfast like I usually do. Late night snacking might be the culprit. The mug's second fill was black coffee alongside some oatbran cooked with 1/2 scp. Vanilla Sun Warrior (seriously, obsessively in love with this stuff. More on that later) and a random assortment of berries. 

Breakfast was the perfect thing to power me through and exceptionally sweaty workout at my new gym. I don't know what it is about this place, but I feel like I sweat more than I did at the gym at school. Whatever, it feels amazing!

Came home, showered, and lunch was on! This is my go-to summer salad that never fails. Base of chopped greens, add in last night's dinner leftover veggies (this time it was grilled zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus), chop some cukes and tomatoes for a little fresh crunch, and finish it off with some raw tofu for that protein. Soooo good! Dressed with italian seasoning and balsamic.

 My lunch "desert" was a serving of yellow corn tortilla chips and an almost-too-juicy-but-that's-impossible orange.

After lunch, I got set to my project for the day. Mom and Dad like to leave me these when I'm home. Like they did when I was in high school. Six years ago. Ugh. Not too much complaining this time since those two awesomely-retro chairs on the right and two others are becoming mind (for free!) and finding a home in my new apartment!  I scrubbed that whole pile you see there, and in this freaking heat, worked up quite a sweat.

When I was done, I had worked up an appetite for a snack, but couldn't decide on one thing (I really wanted cereal but there was no non-dairy milk in the house). So, I snacked through the kitchen: carrots and pickles, apple with cinnamon and PB2, raisins strait up. Random smattering, but I would say all on the healthy side.

Dinner was a bit of an experiment (that I didn't take the time to photograph very well. Not one of my strengths). I concocted am italian-style lentil loaf that was a surprise hit! I'll post a recipe tomorrow. It was accompanied by a simple salad and steamed greenbeans. And, although lentil loaf doesn't scream "summer!", it hit the spot!

My sweet tooth was satisfied with one of my mom's sinfully delicious "Everything Cookies" straight from the freezer. I wish I could say this snack was healthy, but not a chance. They aren't vegan either, but they are just too damn good to pass up. My plan is to enjoy these little pleasures while I'm home, and then do better when I move. 

This is pretty much what my summer days have looked like around here. But not for long...4 days till I move to my own place!!!

Here's to making time move magically faster!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up 6/15-6/17

The funny thing about summer weekends is how they don't really feel like weekends at all. I go from having no schedule during the week to having no schedule on the weekend. Life's tough for a teacher on Summer Break!

The one difference is, now that I'm home with my parents for a few weeks, is that they are home. For my family, this is mostly great. Mostly.

Saturday was spent shopping for my first apartment (moving in 5 days!!!). I spent an obscene amount of money, and broke into tears twice. Luckily, my parents were there to put things into perspective for me. I will be fine. And when my job starts and the paychecks start rolling in August, I'll be more than fine.
Yea that was the total at Costco. Only the first stop. I think I had a conniption when the clerk said that. Biggest and Most exciting purchase: New TV. Look at that Baby! 

Saturday night, I tagged along with my parents as the went out to dinner with one of their couple friends- who just so happen to be my best friend's mom and her boyfriend. We hit up Aladinn's Eatery, which is actually a chain mediterranean restaurant. Fresh-made hummus and babaganoush? Talk about this vegan girl's dream.

We started with a bottle of whatever red wine was on special that night to split.  It was fine. I don't discriminate when it comes to wine. Especially when Mom and Dad are paying.
Next, we shared the vegetarian appetizer platter. Served with pita, and naturally, I requested hot sauce, which they make in house. Delicious. (not my photo)
Since I ate my body weight in pita, hummus, and baba, I opted for the spinach salad (minus the feta) as my entree. The dressing was a delightful lemon-herby vinaigrette. It was the perfect hot-as-hell summer meal.
Sunday, Father's Day, I was up at 5:30 for no reason, so I hit the gym before we headed out for a family breakfast. We kept with out every-holiday-that-involves-parents-including-their-birthdays tradition. My parents, broski, and his gf (who is family as far as we are concerned) met up at out favorite breakfast/brunch spot, First Watch. Not kidding, we go here for every occasion. So, we knew to get their early to beat the Dad's Day rush.
I got my usual: bowl of plain oatmeal to which I added half a scoop of vanilla Sun Warrior (more on my love affair with this stuff later) and some of their perfect coffee, and a bowl of fruit. The bro was the beneficiary of the entire banana that came on top of the oatmeal due to my banana- induced digestive issues.
All dad wanted to do on Father's Day was chill at home. By his definition "chill" means wash cars, do yard work, putz around in the basement. He is really incredible. For dinner, he had a simple request. Grill out. We grilled some delicious veggies, tilapia, and a beef skewer (the latter 2 for the 'rents). I whipped up a salad to go along with. All devoured on the back deck.
My plate: all the grilled veggies on top of the salad, hit with some hot sauce and balsamic (x2)
Dad's surn-n-turf plate. He was a happy camper.
I spent the rest of the evening curled up on the deck with Mr. Christian Grey. I am almost 200 pages into it, and I am still waiting to figure out all the hype. It's all a bit to "weird" for me, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, it was a pretty great, last weekend at my parents. The next one will be jam-packed with moving. Oy vey, not again.

Here we go!
~ Rach

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One down, One to go

Well, folks, I have been home at my parents' house for one week. And thank goodness, I only have 1 more to go before I move back out to my own place (!!!) near my new job.

Graduation and leaving school was a terribly hard transition for me, and being back in my parents' house has made it even worse. Don't get me wrong, I have a great relationship with my parents, but this just isn't my home anymore. I physically don't fit here. My stuff is in the dining room and living room temporarily, and I can barely move in my bedroom. Going from living on your own for 4 years to being back under your parents' roof is just an awkward and weird time.

This week hasn't been all bad though. It's been nice to have some time to relax and hang with the fam. Cue the highlight reel.

I joined a gym!
Yes, me, the self-proclaimed hater of working out, paid heard-earned money to be able to get my sweat on. But, throughout the last year or so, I have discovered how important and fun working out is. The gym isn't great, but it is so nice to have a place to have a good sweat sesh everyday. I know it has made me a little more ...pleasant to have at home. Of course, when I move, I'll be canceling my membership here and looking for somewhere new around my new place.

Sweaty self-pic in the car after a particularly good workout. Completely necessary, and you're welcome.

Hanging with the broski.
My brother and his girlfriend are pretty amazing people. The first night I was home she invited me over to make dinner and hang out since she knew I was feeling pretty down because of graduation. On Thursday, we all went bowling and out after.
I have a weird love for bowling shoes.
The guy behind the counter found this weird.
Sorry, I'm not sorry.
 This night was super fun, but resulted in drinking too much, eating too much, and not getting enough sleep. I felt terrible the whole next day, but I guess that's the price to pay for too much fun. I say family bonding, and a great night out is worth the uncomfortable next day.

Other highlights of the week:
 Mani-pedi's with Mom. This was my first pedicure, and I can't believe it took me 22 years to do it. I think I''m hooked. I have also decided that I will continue painting my nails crazy colors when I'm teaching. Screw professionality. I like it, and it will help me relate to my students.
And, a movie date with Dad on Friday night. I finally got to see Avengers, and it was awesome! As always Dad was the best date ever, and bonus cool points that he got the seniors ticket!

I guess all there's left to do while I'm home is to take advantage of the good parts and countdown the days till I'm back out on my own.

Here's to only 7 days!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Catching Up on Lessons Learned

I completely fell off the face of the earth these past few months. There was so much going on and so many things that absolutely had to get done, that nearly all of my favorite leisure-time activities fell by the wayside, including my TV must-sees, reading, and writing this blog.

And, truth be told, I'm completely OK with it.

This quarter was the craziest, most stressful, happiest, hardest, and most fun 3 months of my life. And I loved every second of it. 

The highlights include student teaching, enjoying the final weeks with best friends at the best school in the country, landing my dream job, and GRADUATING!!!

Although I would love to give a play-by-play of all the amazing things that went down this quarter, that would be exhausting, and honestly who wants to read (or write) all that. Not me. So, I'll sum things up nice and orderly for ya. I did a lot of teaching this quarter, and my students did a lot of learning. Ultimately though, I think that I was the one who learned the most. I learned big things. Big, important, grown-up things.

1) I am a teacher.
       I just am. There is nothing else in the whole world I could see myself doing. This quarter's student teaching confirmed that for me. I was busier than a bee and stressed to my limit, but everyday, I left that school feeling fulfilled and energized. I talked non-stop about my students and classes- so much so that my roommates had to give me a school-reference limit. The comments and compliments that I got from both of my cooperating instructors (whom I loved and will miss) and the fact that I was able to get my ideal job for next year, are even more confirmation that this is just what I am supposed to be doing.
Spanish 2 getting down with some flamenco!
Geometry doing some word problem review.
2) I owe my dad big time.
     This dream job I keep referring to? Yea well I can thank pops for that one. I have been hired to teach Spanish at a great school district about an hour from my parents house. It is literally my dream position, and I have Dad to thank for all of it. He pushed me to get the double Spanish/Math license, which I know is what gave me the edge over my competition. He listened to me complain in countless phone calls about all the extra stress I had because of the double major.
       After I got this job, Dad found me an amazing apartment (because I couldn't get there with student teaching) in the perfect area close-but-not-too-close to the school, did the paperwork, and is going to help me move. He is a super hero, and my best friend, and I don't know where I would be with out him.

Proud Moms and Pops at my graduation.

3) There are more important things.
     My focus this quarter was to be a kick a$$ student teacher. Most of the time I was working on or thinking about school, and for the first time in a long time, not obsessing about what I was eating, if I had worked out, and how much I weighed. My students' success in my classes was of upmost importance, and any free time I had was spent hanging out with the friends I only had limited time left with.
      I stayed organized, planned awesome lessons, kept up with grading, took some new group fitness classes for fun, went out and drank too much, indulged more than normal and didn't get enough sleep. And, you know what? I didn't die. My world didn't explode, and I really didn't gain all that much weight, and what I did gain, I didn't really care about. There wasn't time or energy to do so. I have never been happier. It seems small, but this is huge. I am hanging on to this perspective and not letting it slip away from me now that my schedule has cleared for the summer.
Last dinner at my favorite restaurant in the whole world, Casa Nueva. Beyond delicious- both the food that the house margs.

4) I am ready.
    Truth be told, I am terrified about the future. Moving to a new city by myself. Starting a new career where I have to positively impact the lives of my students. Not having the comfort of Athens and my college family that have been with me through all of the hardships over the past couple of years.

It's petrifying.

    I know now, after all the ups and downs of this year, after surprising myself with my resilience and my teaching abilities, and after seeing all of the support I have from both family and friends, that I can do this. Not only, can I do this, I will knock it out of the park. Let's go, world. Bring on those obstacles!

Here's to a great end of college, and an even better time to come!
~ Rach