Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicago and the Doobie Brothers

This weekend, my whole family went to the Chicago and Doobie Bros concert that I bought my dad for Fathers Day! It was a big thank you for everything he has done for me, especially in the last year.

Let me tell you, it was a blast!

The night started out at the broski's house (his part of the gift) with a little cookout, and a couple of beers.

I started out the night with a sentimental, college throw back... that was quickly replaced about halfway through with a much tastier and far classier, Stella Artois.
We did burers on the grill, and buried under that pile of jalapeños, tomato and pickle is a Boca vegan burger. The condiments are necessary to make it taste less carboardy. Everything was also promptly covered in salsa and mustard.
Good family time: Mom and dad loading up their plates, me and my bro's GF who might as well already be part of the family, me and my friend-date for the night (who I actually came friends with through the brother and is always my date at things like this... you know, because I can't seem to find my own dates haha), and the obligatory pic of the pup, Jolene, since my bro refused pics at this point.
After dinner, we headed to Riverbend for the concert where, naturally some shenanigans continued:

Some photo bombing

Some dancing

please ignore my platypus feet...awkward

Some lovin'
Ah there's the Bro/Sis pic I was looking for

get a room!

 It was an amazing night! Perfect weather, great music, awesome company. Who knew I could have so much fun with the family!? Oh yea, I did! Nothing is more important, and I am so blessed to have a family that is so close and genuinely like spending time together!

Here's to cherishing the love of family!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fitness Frenzy

I usually don't go into too much specifics when it comes to fitness. Honestly, I don't really consider myself much of an athlete, and I feel like a bit of a faker trying to talk about it. What is that about?

Also, my workouts aren't that interesting or exciting. You know, I'll run a couple slow miles, or do one of my fave DVDs, or go to a group fitness class. But that's nothing exciting.

However, in the past few days, I have had some entertaining fitness experiences, so I figured why not relive them here!

1)New Running Route!
From last Saturday till Tuesday, I was back in my home town babysitting/house-sitting for some family friends. I tried to keep up my normal morning workouts, and did pretty well. Running in my neighborhood, though, still makes me feel all awkward and nervous. I wanted to run, but not around the area.

So, I finally bit the bullet and bought a year pass to the county park nearby! I have always wanted to run the 2 mile bike path that goes around the lake, but the $10 expense was something I didn't want to sacrifice in y post-gad budget. I know, $10 isn't that much, but that could also feed me for 2days!

Well, I did it, and it was worth every penny! I ran there 3 times while I was home and loved every second. I did the path either 2 or 3 times, and found myself continuously running way longer thanI expected with how hilly the path is. But with these views, how can you not?
not my kids

2. Locked myself out of the car
After one of these amazing runs, I managed to lock my keys and cell in the car. Only me, I swear. A nice old man let me borrow his phone to call my dad (and waited for him to get there and unlock the car- probably because he thought I was a barely-16 yr old), but my dad was about 25 min away.

In the meantime, I did a little strengthening workout. Me, the girl who 2 years ago claimed to hate working out, used a little spare time to get even sweatier and look ridiculous doing squats, lunges, and planks in the grass next to the parking lot

I did a little leg circuit (3xs):
  • 20 plié quats
  • 20 bench lunges (right, then left) obviously, the picnic table came in handy here
  • 30 calf raises (nuetral)
  • 30 calf raises (turned out in relevé)
Then a little core circuit (3xs)
  • 20 spiderman plans (10 each leg)
  • 20 rolling T side planks
  • 2 min plank
Man, oh man this little workout left me sore the next day! It hurt so good!

3. I got Zumba certified yesterday!!!!!
 This is the biggest news by far. I have been wanting to do it for the last 2 years and never had the cahoonas to do it. Well, in the spring (when I was still in school and had a little extra money to blow) I registered for the Basic 1 training.

Yesterday, I spent 9 hours learning, dancing, sweating, and having a great time! I really do love Zumba, and I am so excited to say that I am a certified instructor now!

bright gear was a must. Although, I missed the legging memo. I think I was the only one there in shorts, but it was hella hot, so I was ok with it!
The studio that hosted the training.
Oh yea, that's official, baby!
  I have no immediate plans to start teaching anywhere. I kind of feel like that would be a bad idea on top of my first year of teaching. I do have this dream of starting an after school class program at my job for the teachers and students and parents. Who knows, maybe after a couple months, I'll be able to start something up! 

Here's to fitness fiascos and feats, and to having a good time through all of it!
~ Rach

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lesson Plan: Single Girl's Lasagna

One of the things I love about living on my own is having total control over the kitchen. No awkward tango with roommates (who I love and miss dearly) in the tiny apartment kitchen. No changing what I'm making for a hulking (now ex)boyfriend that hates mushrooms.

It's all about me and what I am craving at that moment. Although it makes me feel a little bit selfish saying it, it's awesome. Sorry, I'm not sorry.

Cooking for one can be tricky though. Certain dishes are more appropriately prepared for a crowd. Like, lasagna, for instance. But, in this past year of being super-single, as I like to call myself, I have a couple of tricks that help me taper these recipes down to a perfect single-girl size.

So, without further ado, today's lesson, class, is lasagna. Single girl-style.
Lesson: Single Girl's Lasagna (makes 2 servings)
                (vegan, gluten-free, low fat, low cal, budget friendly; see accommodations section for suggested   
Necessary Materials:

  •  one small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/3 bolck of extra firm tofu
  • ~cup jarred tomato sauce (I used Classico Tomato and Basil. Use your favorite)
  • garlic powder, italian seasoning, red pepper flake
  • 2 ramekins
  • mandoline slicer or sharp knife
1) Wash veggies, peel eggplant and use mandoline to slice them into thin slices.
    If you don't have a madoline, used a sharp knife to slice the veggies into ~1/8 in slices.
 2) Slice tofu into 6 thin slices and press between paper towels.
 3) Layer.
      Starting with a bit of sauce, begin layering the ingredients. I did sauce, zucchini, sauce, egglant, sauce, crumbled tofu, etc. I like sauce.

 On top of the tofu, sprinkle the seasonings.
 Finish the layering with a layer of sauce.
 4) Bake at 350 for about 40 min.
    I baked mine in my little convection/toaster oven , but a conventional oven would work also.
 5) Top with nooch, and enjoy!

- If you are a meat/cheese eater, you could replace the tofu layer with a couple of your favorite stuffed ravioli.
    I used to do this for my ex-boyfriend, and he loved it. It's an easy way to add in the pasta and cheese      
    or meat with out having to cook the noodles. Ravioli layer really well, too!
- Also, add in layers of cheese (vegan mozz or dairy cheese if you want).
     I would have loved to add some daiya mozz, but I didn't have any, and on my budget, it wasn't 
     really an option.
- Add in whatever veg you have on hand.
     Thin sliced mushrooms would have been a great addition.
     I think this recipe was a great success! It was a lightened-up-for-summer version of the Italian comfort food I was craving. I have also recently developed a dislike for eggplant (it's a texture thing), and with this one, I was able to not waste it and disguise it in a tasty tomato-basil sauce costume. The best part, it made 2 perfectly-sized portions for dinner tonight and leftovers for tomorrow. It reheated beautifully.
       Overall, I give this one a solid A!

On another note, I am spending the next 4 days babysitting hanging out with my Rabbi's (who is also a close family friend) 13-year-old son while the parents are out of town. Someone tell me, what am I supposed to do with this kid! Hopefully we can hit up a Red's game and the pool. Eh, at least it's some solid money to get me through the rest of the summer.

Here's to embracing single-girl life, and making the best of doing what's best for me more a change!
~ Rach

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WIAW: Teacher on Summer Break

This summer, I have more spare time than I know what to do with. And, let me tell you, I have been soaking it all up! This is probably the last summer that I will have so much leisure time since I'll have to supplement income be traveling the world during future summers.

I've been moving in, getting settled, curriculum planning and making myself comfortable in my new city. And, while I've been loving the independence and the "me" time that I have been getting, I am beginning to get sick of myself. It's pretty lonely here since I haven't started working or meeting people really, and it's beginning to wear on me.

I know it will get better as my job starts and I meet my coworkers and have something set to do all day, but right now, it's just frustrating. Part of me wishes I had the balls to just go out and walk up to people and say "hi". But, I'm uncomfortable doing that. Eh, maybe one day.

Anywho, let's move on to something more positive... liiiiiike... WIAW!
What I Ate Wednesday; 
A day on the life of a teacher on Summer Break!
Here we go with Tuesday, which was a pretty typical summer weak day:

7:00- Wake up. Coffee. Breakfast #1
rice cakes with potein frosting and some berries.
8:00- Workout
      With my recent workout enlightenment, my workouts have been the best in a while. Today, I did 3.5 miles followed my some Yoga Meltdown with my chick, Jillian. Felt awesome. And sweaty. It's been boiling here again!

9:30- Breakfast #2
Monstruo Verde: vanilla Sun Warrior, frozen mixed berries, spinach and almond milk blended to smoothie perfection. 
 11:30-1:30- Pool Time! Yea life is rough.

1:30- Shower. Lunch.
Big ol' salad: romaine, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, chick peas, cukes, basil from my garden!, topped with nooch, balsalmic, and loads of pepper.
second course: apple, cinnamon, PB. matches made in heaven!
 2:30- Pack up the teacher bag and head over to Panera for some yummy coffee and some focus. I don't know why, but I canNOT focus in my apartment. Lot's of curriculum planning and syllabus writing has been going on lately.

5:00ish- Head back home for snacks! I can't bear to buy restaurant food on my teeny weeny budget.
       an unpictured bowl of cereal also went down.

8:00 Dinnah!

I call this creation "Single Girl Lasagna". I'll post a Lesson for it because this one was tasty!
diggin' in!
9:00 Dessert 
Choco-protein oats topped with PB. Like an ooey gooey cookie.
11:00ish: Bed. My body has been on this schedule since student teaching. Honestly, I don't hate it. Makes me feel like human- you know being alive during the daylight. And, hopefully it will make the transition to the school year easier.

So yea. That's it.

Here's to enjoying the down time... while I have it!
~ Rach

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lesson Plan: DIY coasters

As I've mentioned before, I am on a tight budget this summer. Moving to a new city on top of not starting my job until the school year starts has really made me conscious of my spending. Necessary expenses include:

  • rent and utilities
  • cable and internet
  • groceries
  • gas
As for everything else, either goes by the wayside, or is bought at the cheapest price possible- preferably free. Luckily, my parents gave me a lot  almost all of the furniture in my new place.

I have found myself upping my creativity and thrifty shopping skills. Lots of antique shopping and garage sale hunting, and even more making things myself. This is one project that I am really happy with the end result... and it's keeping my grandparents furniture safe. Cute and functional! Win!

Lesson: Patterned Coasters
Necessary materials:

  •  Cork coasters (I got this pack for $1.37 at Hobby Lobby)
  • Masking tape
  • acrylic paint and brush
  • scissors
  • Modge Podge
1) Use scissors to cut masking tape in fun, geometric patterns and adhere them to the coasters. Make sure to press them down and smooth them out completely to eliminate bleeding (note: there will be some bleeding because the cork is absorbant. I decided I didn't care about that, but if it bothers you, try wood or other materials)
 2) Paint over tape with acrylic paint. I chose an orange/yellow color palate that complemented the living room.
 3) Remove tape while paint is still wet. This makes sure that the paint doesn't act like glue and make removal impossible later. Then, allow to dry completely.
 4) "Seal" the paint by covering the tops of each coaster with a layer of watered-down Modge Podge or other sealer. I did this just to ensure that the water from cups wouldn't ruin the paint. Allow to dry completely.
Extension activities: This procedure (relief painting) couldn't be easier. It could be used to embellish any kind of unfinished object. I'm thinking about doing it on a wood serving tray and maybe some wooden spoons. If I use it to decorate things that are going to have more food/liquid on them, I need to buy a sealer that is a little more heavy-duty. Great, one more thing to add to the shopping list :)

I was really pleased with how these turned out. My mom tried to steal then when she was over the other night!

Bonus, Bubbe and Zayde's furniture is safe from glass rings!

Here's to making my house a home... on the cheapest budget possible!
~ Rach

Friday, July 13, 2012


Whenever I have heard the term "nesting", it's always in reference to babies. Future mothers getting the nursery together and arranged in order to create an environment they are happy and comfortable about bringing their new bundle of joy into.

Well, that certainly isn't my situation (don't worry, Mom and Dad, there are no babies anywhere near my future), but for the past few days, I have felt like "nesting" is exactly what I was doing. What was my baby? Me, maybe? Can I be my own baby?

Being the ever-OCD and over-analyzing girl that I am, I looked it up:

nesting  (ˈnɛstɪŋ)
the tendency to arrange one's immediate surroundings, such as a work station, to create a place where one feels secure, comfortable, or in control.

Now that sounds just like me! Getting things how I want them so I feel safe and in control? Yep, that's my personality for ya. And, that's exactly what I have been doing for the past week. So my inkling didn't lead me astray after all. 

I've been moving things around and finally getting some art up on all those blank walls.
 This guy is the star of the wall next to the kitchen. Art quilt thanks to mi madre that depicts so perfectly the part of the town that I lived in when I studied abroad in Toledo, Spain.
 Another goody from that experience in Spain was this post of "The Garden of Earthly Delights". After over and year and a half of being rolled in a poster tube, it has finally found a home on the wall.

I have also hung a bunch of my own work, another quilt of my mom's, and even some cross-stitching that my grandmother did maybe 50 years ago. I love the idea that there are 3 generations of art and furniture filling my apartment and making it feel like home.

Also helpful in making it feel like home? I finally got my cable and internet installed!

Wow, what a difference that makes! All of a sudden, it feels very permanent. It's starting to settle in that this is my place, and not just some vacation home that I am staying in for the summer. I'm sure it will feel even more real when I pay my first electric and water bills.


On a completely unrelated note, a little update on my running experiment

Today, I had the best run of my life. I ran(with minor walking breaks) 3.2 miles in just under 35 minutes. For me, that is a record-setting pace, and it really felt awesome. I felt like I could have kep going, but I wanted to make sure I had time to hang out with Jillian Michaels for some Yoga Meltdown before I headed out.

What was the variable that made this run so good?
I ate breakfast and digested before heading out. Usually, I run first thing in the morning, before eating anything, and still pretty groggy. The change meant that I had some food in me and had time to wake up before conquering the demon. And... it was awesome!

Duh, Rach! Obviously it is going to go better and feel better if you put a little gas in the tank first! No shit, Sherlock. I know I'm a really smart person, but sometimes my own stupidity amazes me. I definitely going to repeat it again tomorrow and see if I can keep the positive, running momentum going.

Here's to settling in and figuring things (even if they're pretty obvious) out!
 ~ Rach 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer's Slipping Away

Holy-freaking-moly. It just occurred to me that the first week of July is almost over! Where did June go!?

I have only 7 and 1/2 weeks until the first day of school, and while that seems like a long time, I know that it is going to slip away from me. And, there is so much I need to do!

It's time to get some goals set. I like to set goals seasonally, and write them down so that I can reflect on them later.

So, without further ado, here's the list for the next 7.5 semanas:

       I have been procrastinating on this one. It seems so daunting. To sit down and plan how the entire year will go for my Spanish I and II classes. I know it will seem easier once I start doing it and getting organized. And I know I can do it. It's just the actual act of sitting down and sorting it all out that is looming ahead of me. The best thing to do will be to do a little each day so I don't get overwhelmed. So I'll start on that... tomorrow.

2. Run 2 miles without stopping.
      This goes back to my new, free exercise plan. So far, I'm sticking to it.

3. Be ready for the school year to start.
      Along with curriculum planning, I have to organize my classroom, figure out how I want the daily procedures to go, get my body adjusted to the timing schedule, etc. I can't get into the building until August, but when I can, you better believe I will be a prepping monster.

4. Make 3 new local friends.
     Moving to a new city alone is quite the challenge, and I haven't quite figured out how to meet new people yet. I have met a few of my neighbors, but they all seem to be young couples. It's great and everyone is super friendly, but I'm a single girl on the prowl! I really want to make some friends my age who are in similar "life situations" that I am. It's going to mean stepping outside my comfort zone. Alone. But, I'm up for the challenge, I think.

5. Get Zumba certified.
    I have already signed up for the certification in late July, and I canNOT wait to get there! Hopefully I  can find a little teaching job on the side to help supplement my first-year-teacher's income.

6. Fill my apartment's blank walls.
     I have some original works from both my mom, myself, and even my grandmother all ready and waiting be hung up, and I would really like to use the free time I have over the summer to create some more! I need to get back to my creativity, and my art is one of my favorite ways to do that.

Seems like a pretty solid list to me. All attainable with some work. And mostly measurable. Just like they teach us in the college of ed.

Here's to reaching high and meeting my "Summer unit objectives"!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

WIAW: Kitchen Disasters

This past week has all been about getting adjusted to my new place. Including the kitchen. Each kitchen has it's quirks, my new one included. I wish I could blame these disasters on that, but really, it's just my clumsiness showing it's ugly head. I like to say it's part of my charm.

Lucky for all of you, all 3 of these kitchen disasters happened in the same day. No lie. Good/Bad things always happen in threes, right?

Thanks Jenn for hosting, and giving me the chance to show all of my blunders.

The first nightmare happened at breakfast. I hate to say it, but I have switch my breakfast from oats! At my new place, I really like to eat breakfast out on my patio, which gets direct sunlight. It's just too damn hot to eat hot oats out there. So, I switched it up and attempted a smoothie.
This is what happens when you try to make a smoothie in a food processor. Apparently, their not made for that. It tasted good... when I could navigate around all the chunks. In the mix was some SunWarrior, chia, almond milk, mixed berries, and ice.

Luckily, lunch went off without a hitch. But then again, it's hard to screw up a salad.

This was followed by an unpictured apple with PB.

Dinner, however, was another story. In an attempt to get more protein and bulk up my meals, I decied to try TVP. I had heard ok things about it, it looked like a good thing to just hide away in my meals, and the directions for cooking looked easy enough. Yea, they looked that way.
Note to self: following those oh-so-easy directions leads to a  charred mess in the micro that will stink up the entire apartment.
Ahh much better at 1/2 the time. And not too awful. Although the texture is a little close to ground meat for me. Something I have never really enjoyed.
Mmmm add some sauteed veggies, a little oats, and some salsa, and you have a winner right there!
And the final disaster for the evening, came at desert. I just wanted a little choco oats.
I have only made choco oats in this very mug and micro about a bajillion times. You would think I have it down by now. Eh, still tasted good.

And sticking with this months theme, let's talk exercise. It's been about a week since I started my mission impossible: running. I can definitely say that it is still not something I love. But, I can feel it getting easier every time I do it. I haven't stuck with every single day, but I'm doing it more days than not. I think it's something I can stay with until I start my job and can actually afford to join a gym again. I do have to say, I miss sweaty, intense gym sessions, but it feels good to be doing something.

Here's to handling blunders with grace (seems to be something I have gotten pretty good at over the years haha)!
~ Rach