Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Photo #334: Angel

When I left for school this morning, I was determined to take lots and lots of pictures. Then I got there, got busy, and totally forgot about it. I went straight from school to working at Huntington's, so it was pitch black by the time I got home.

Plan two was to take a great photo of some of the Christmas ornaments. I am still decorating the tree, but I added some decorations, before starting my photo session.

Over the course of the year, I kind of forget what I have, so as I trim the tree, I rediscover the ornaments I have collected over the years. This little angel bell is one of my favorites. I remember buying it, along with a second one at an after Christmas sale at Park Fair. This was when Lisa and I were living in our first house on Cambridge Street. My tree has lots of angels on it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Photo #333: Lobster Trap

Today was the first day back to school after five days off. It was a bit of an adjustment. We didn't get as much done as I would have liked, but tomorrow will be easier.

It was dark by the time I left at 5:15, and this evening I had a staff meeting at Huntington. No new photos today, but I did snap this one when I went up to the Waterfront Seafood Market on Friday. Lobster traps are interesting, even when you find them in an unlikely place like Iowa.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photo #332: Bichon In a Wagon

I put up the tree yesterday, and began decorating it today. It's pretty easy to put up. I just drag it, piece by piece from the garage, and assemble it in front of the bow windows. The lights are really simple, because the tree is prelit. It does take a while to get all the branches puffed out and pushed into shape again, after it's been stuffed in a box for eleven months.

One of the things I like best about decorating the tree, is rediscovering all the ornaments that I have packed away. For several years, my mom has been giving me a Bichon ornament from the Danbury Mint. It usually arrives early in the fall, so the first thing I have to remember is where I stashed it away. This is the ornament for 2010. It's a Bichon in a Wagon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Photo #331: Seafood Chowder

While almost everyone else in the United States was eating leftover turkey on the the day after Thanksgiving, I decided to make some Seafood Chowder. This involved a trip to The Waterfront Seafood Market. It's so nice that we have one in Ankeny now. It saves the time that it would take to drive to West Des Moines, and it's the best place to get fresh fish. This made a nice meal for Lisa, Colin and I before we headed out to the movies. This time I made the chowder without the bacon. Instead I sauted the onion in butter. I do think that the bacon adds some nice flavor, however.

Here's the recipe:

Seafood Chowder

3 slices of bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups of cubed peeled potatoes
1 cup of water
1/4 pound of bay or sea scallops, quartered
1/4 pound of fresh or frozen lobster or crab, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp
1 pound tilapia (or 1/2 pound cod, 1/2 pound haddock)
2 T butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
3 cups of soy milk (original recipe called for 2 c milk, 1 12 oz can evaporated
milk, but I use soy milk whenever I can.)

In a large soup kettle or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve drippings. Sauté onion in drippings until tender. Add potatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the scallops, lobster, shrimp and tilapia. Cook for 10 minutes or until scallops are opaque, fish flakes easily, and shrimp is pink. Add the butter, salt and parsley. Stir in the milk. Heat through. Garnish with bacon. Serves 6.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photo #330: At the Movies

It's been a very pleasant day after Thanksgiving. Lisa and Colin arrived Thanksgiving Day. Today we spent some time hanging out at Smokey Row, I made Seafood Chowder for dinner, and we went to see the latest Harry Potter movie, The Deathly Hallows, Part 1. I don't go to the movies very often, but I'm a big Harry Potter fan. The movie was good, but I feel like I need to reread the book again, in order to keep everything straight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Photo #329: Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did! Jacci and Donner hosted the dinner. Here are Donner, Torin, and Kendrick getting ready to enjoy their meal.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Photo #328: Smokey Row

For the first time in the twenty-four years I've been teaching, we had the day before Thanksgiving off. In the morning I ended up working a couple of hours at Huntington, so it really felt like Saturday. In the afternoon Jacci and I checked out Smokey Row. Neither of us had ever been there before.

We met the owner, and from him we learned that this is one of four locations. The building was built in 1904. I love the way it's been refurbished. For many years it was the Planned Parenthood book warehouse. I'm sure it took a lot of work to bring this building back to life. In addition to the great atmosphere, the Chai Lattes were delicious! I really like it. I think I'm going to have to split my time between Smokey Row and Caribou Coffee. Caribou Coffee has the great leather arm chairs for comfort, but Smokey Row has a menu, so you can have your coffee and eat dinner too. I now have two westside offices.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Photo #327: Stuffed Turkey

I was able to take this little stuffed turkey out of the china closet this year. When Zoe was alive, the turkey had to be protected, because Zoe was very fond of stuffed animals. She loved them . . . . . to death. She would start out holding them in her mouth and cry. Then after a while she would start picking at a flaw, some area where the stitching was loose. Then she would tear it apart. Actually, I've been in some relationships like that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Photo #326: Summer and Donner

This is my brother-in-law and my niece. I snapped this photo Saturday evening, when we went out to dinner at Latin King. I think it's a great shot!

I went to school today, but I'm still not feeling very well, so I really didn't take any photos today. Last night I went to bed around 7. I might manage to stay up a little later tonight, but not much.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Photo #325: Summer and Jill

I seem to have the cold that will not quit, so I haven't been out of the house today. Last night we got together at Latin King to celebrate birthdays. We celebrated Mom and Jill's birthday which were in early November, and Donner's birthday which will be in early December. This is a photo of Summer and Jill, who arrived from Chicago late Friday night. Today they drove back to St. Louis, which is where they live.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Photo #324: Food Drive Champs

My class fought hard, and we won! We brought in more food items than any other class, 621 to be precise. In all, our school collected 3,300 non-perishable food items to provide Thanksgiving dinner to some of our families. Not bad for a school that has only about 350 kids.

On Friday, they took the extra recess that they earned. Afterwards, they went to the library where they worked like a well-oiled machine to assemble the food boxes. Many of our families have been hit hard by the poor economy, so our school goal was to provide food for twenty families. Thanks to Mrs. Ellefson and our Student Council, who coordinate this food drive, we were able to put together 27 boxes of food.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photo #323: Teacher In a Tux

When I got to school this morning, the decorations and scenery from "Reading Adventure With Dad" had been removed. Before we could begin the day, however, we had to move our desks back into place. From then on, it seemed like a normal school day. I was very surprised, therefore, when I glanced in Mr. Adrian's room and saw him dressed in a tuxedo. This was his costume from RAD. He and his daughter read "The Spider and the Fly." Mr. A was the spider.

When he got ready for school this morning, he decided to wear his tux. He has a top hat to go with it, but we have a no hats in the building policy, so he had to take it off.

The formal attire seemed to have a positive effect on his class. He said they were calm and quiet, and they did very well on their term 2 Benchmark tests.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photo #322: Reading Adventure With Dad

This is what my classroom looked like when I left today. Tonight is RAD, Reading Adventure With Dad. Guest readers come to read to kids and dads (or Grandpas, Moms, or the nextdoor neighbor), in book themed rooms. Mine is the Sisters' room. This is Beezus and Ramona's bedroom.

One of the third grades is the Super Heroes Room. It looks pretty cool! I didn't have time to check out any of the others.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Photo #321: Homework

Today was the last day of the food drive, and all my kids turned in their homework. Competition has been tough. Yesterday we were in first place, but only by one item. Once again I told the kids they could turn in a food item in place of their homework. Look at all that homework they turned in! We're hoping we won the extra recess. We'll know tomorrow. Whatever happens, we had fun, and it's for a good cause.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photo #320: Mystery Item

These little chrystal bars were on the table at the Thymes Remembered Tea Room. We weren't quite sure what they were. We decided they must be to prop your butter knife on. What do you think they are?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Photo #319: Lego Inventions

Several of my students are in the latest session of Lego Club. My Principal runs several sessions of this popular club each year. I decided to stop by and check out all their creations. The camera doesn't pick up all the action that's happening here, but it is motorized and there are lots of things spinning. No wonder this club is so popular.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Photo #318: Thymes Remembered Tea Room

Yesterday, when we were in Perry, we stopped for lunch at the Thymes Remembered Tea Shop. There was so much to look at there, both in the tea room and in the gift shop. As I looked around in the gift shop, I kept finding new rooms to go into, but I didn't buy anything.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Photo #317: Art On the Prairie

Today, Jacci, Mom, and I took a trip to Perry, Iowa, where Art On the Prairie was going on. It was being held at three locations in downtown Perry, but we only went to the Hotel Patee. The hotel, which was built in 1913 and restored in 1997, is a work of art itself.

I was far more interested in the murals on the walls, than the work displayed by local artists. I love the Craftsman period of architecture and furnishings, and this sitting area in the lobby was very inviting. It would have been nice to have a big fire in the fireplace, because it was freezing. You can learn more about the Hotel Patee, by visiting their website.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo #316: Car Repairs

As I was pulling into the school parking lot this morning, the battery light flashed on. It went back off, but I figured it wasn't a good sign. I called and made an appointment to have the car looked at after work. I worried all day that it might not start when I went out at 3:30. It did, and I managed to get it to the garage.

The first diagnosis was that I needed a new battery, but it got worse. Then I was told that I also needed a new alternator. But what can you do? I have to have a car, so I spent the next two hours entertaining myself with my Droid, while they worked on my car.

Good thing I got paid today, because it's been a very expensive day. One good thing; my car is no longer making the chirping noise that it's been making since it was worked on last January. I'm not sure what that might have to do with the alternator, but I'll take it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Photo #315: The Phillips Food Drive

Every year, our school collects food donations during the month of November. We put together Thanksgiving baskets for some of our families. Many of our families have been affected by the downturn in the economy, so We are hoping to put together 20 food baskets this year. The class that brings in the most food items, wins an extra 20 minutes of recess.

I always like to get things going by having a night where kids may turn in a canned good in place of their homework assignment. That helped move us into third place. Now my kids are really into this competition. This morning they brought in this heaping box of donations (pictured above.) We are hoping to knock Mr. A's class out of first place and win that 20 minutes of extra recess.

It is a big task to collect and sort all the donations. Members of the student council handle this big job. The stage area in the library is rapidly filling will all kinds of non-perishable food.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Photo #314: Framed Self Portrait

Every now and then, when I feel I'm having a "good hair" day, I try taking a picture of myself. This has become necessary, since I do so much social networking and blogging. Websites and blogs ask for a portrait to be used as your "avatar." For every two hundred photos I take, if I'm lucky, I may find one that I can tolerate. I snapped this one a few days ago, and I actually like it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Photo #313: Blended Family

I've seen this odd flock swimming and hanging together several times. I'm not sure where they came from, but they seem to have become a family. Once again, this is a photo from my Sunday walk at Gray's Lake. Good thing I took several pictures when I was there, because it's 8:13 and I just got home from work, so I didn't have time to be a shutterbug today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Photo #312: Sunset

It was a beautiful sunset last night. The fading sunlight turned the sky pink, which in turn, reflected on the water, turning it pink. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful day. This was taken from the plaza at Gray's Lake.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Photo #311: Dusk at Gray's Lake

Bailey and I went walking at Gray's Lake this afternoon. We turned the clocks back last night, and it was already starting to get dark by the time we finished our walk. This is the footbridge at dusk.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Photo #310: Caribou

I spent the afternoon hanging out at Caribou Coffee, writing a new blog post. This caribou hangs over the fireplace.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo #309: Butterfly Lamp

This is my mom's new buttefly floor lamp. I love Tiffany style lamps! Now that my kids are grown and out of the house, I'd like to get one some day.

We went out to dinner tonight at Applebee's. It is my mom's birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Photo #308: Survivor

We have already had a few nights of freezing temperatures, so I was surprised to see this surviving French Hollyhock bloom in my flower bed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Photo 307: Golden Leaves

The tree in my yard had dropped all of its leaves a few weeks ago, but this gorgeous tree in my neighbor's yard is still full of leaves. My photo does not do justice to the brilliant colors.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Photo #306: Election Day

Have you voted today? If not, there's still time. I voted before I went to work. It looks like there will be a good turnout. I figure that's good for everyone. Even if things don't go the way I want them to, the more citizens that participate, the better it is for our country.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Photo #305: Too Much Work

I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed this year. No matter what I do, I just can't keep up with everything I'm supposed to do. The beginning of the month is particularly challenging, because I set up our Writing Calendar and our Homework Folders at the beginning of each month. I've been asking myself lately why I do some of the extra stuff, like the blogging, and the research. But I already know the answer. This is the stuff that is fun. This is the stuff that peaks kids' interest. This is the stuff that makes it all worthwhile.

I left work at four tonight so I could finish changing the water in the hot tub. Then I started working on school stuff. I never had time to take a good photo, so I decided to take a picture of the work that is not getting done.