Monday, September 15, 2008


Whew! Hectic few weeks full of assessing kids, trying to appear professional during back to school night, and keeping my head above water. Things are starting to settle down and I'm getting back into the rhythm of things. I am firmly convinced that I am a very lucky person, as it appears that I have another good group of kids this year. They may not be the highest academically, but they are cute and they get along with each other. When my class has those two components, the learning will happen. Kind of like a teacher's Field of Dreams -- "if there is kindness, they will learn." I'll just keep my fingers crossed and try to channel Pollyanna.

Meanwhile, the mid-life crisis continues to push me towards self-improvement. This time it's Italian lessons. I forgot how much I hated to conjugate verbs. If only the mid-life crisis manifested itself as an Italian sports car... oh wait, I forgot, I'm a teacher and that's a pipe dream...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hi-ho, hi-ho, It's Back to Work I Go

School's starting again, thus the radio silence. I have had such a great summer that I am in complete denial that tomorrow is the first day of school. Where did the time go?

Good-bye lazy days . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008


Confession: I am a closet foodie. I love strolling through the "gourmet ghettos" around the Bay Area, I'm a fan of our local farmer's markets, and I'm a compulsive recipe hoarder and cookbook collector (which is really ironic, since I don't actually cook too often). Obviously, I'm not a food snob, as witnessed by my last few posts on chocolate (and Tina, Choco Flakes are chocolate covered corn flakes. Yes, "Mar" I will be doing treadmill time to burn it off!)

Last week, I found myself in Lupicia, a tea store based in Japan, that has an outlet here in San Francisco. They had a great summer tea called Sakurambo, which is a black tea blended with sour/sweet Japanese cherries. The tea itself is very light and refreshing; however for me, the kicker was the little jello shots they made with the tea. So of course, being a closet foodie, I had to buy the tea and go home to make jello shots!

I thought putting them in tea cups would be a nice touch.

Since I can't find the recipe on their website, I think it will be okay to share it here.

Sakurambo Tea Jelly Recipe (from a Lupicia recipe)

  • 4 tsp Sakurambo loose tea
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2.5 envelopes gelatin
  • 7 tbsp sugar (I used 6 and would probably reduce it further, but that's my taste)
  • 3.5 cups cold water
  1. Steep the tea in hot water for 3-5 minutes and strain.
  2. In a saucepan, combine gelatin with sugar and slowly stir in the cold water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from heat.
  4. Combine gelatin mixture with tea and pour into molds.
  5. Chill in refrigerator for six hours and serve with honey syrup (2 tbsp honey, 4 tbsp water-I made it with tea instead of plain water)

Verdict: Once you get over the fact that you are eating tea jello, it's a fairly tasty, light summer dessert. I will probably try this again with some of the other teas lurking in my cabinets, as it seems to be a good way to move through the stash.

Now to get back to the knitting...

Edit: Hey Mar - You think this is "fine dining" wait until I tell you about the mac 'n cheese I made . . . in the rice cooker!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chocolaty Goodness

Oh dear...emicat just had to tell me about Choco Flakes. So what do I find when wandering around Ichiban Kan, my Japanese dollar store? Yeah, you guessed it:

I'll have to agree with your comment; they're "hella good too!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Internet Time Suck

Just a quick post before Blogger pulls the plug for their scheduled outage.

This week passed in a blur. I joined that swap on Ravelry and learned a new phrase in the process: the Ravelry time suck. Oh my gosh - it's amazing how you lose track of time! Once you get in those groups and forums, the addiction really sets in.

I can't believe summer is already almost over. I have my classroom 80% set up, since a "friend" invited herself to stay at my house the week teachers officially report back to work. I'm not ready to start getting up early in the morning, let alone plan my lunch for the day. Thank goodness for those Ravelry groups; I joined the "Bento" group just to get some inspiration. Think I'll have to go practice, now that I've pulled out all the supplies.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mmm, good!

I recently discovered these: Boy, am I in trouble!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Let There Be Balance in the Universe

When I got back from Alaska, my sister started leaving "funny" little messages on my Facebook wall. She started out with, "Got fish?" and progressed to, "We're all waiting to see if you grow fins and gills." Yeah, hah, hah, hah.

I warned her to be careful about teasing me, because it was "bachi" (loose translation: what goes around, comes around). So today I get a text report on the first day of fishing; everyone caught something & she caught a 90 pound halibut. Who's laughing now? Yeah, that would be me.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Queen of the Fishermen

My mother is on a mission to become a fishing goddess. I can't believe she's already back in Alaska with my sister, my brother-in-law, and a college friend. Yes, to go fishing. Again. For her sake, I hope she catches some salmon this time, or she will start looking like a halibut before the year is out!
It's funny how surprised everyone gets when they see how gung-ho mom is about fishing. I mean, she's this five-foot-nothing lady who looks like a good gust of wind would knock her over. But she gets in there, cutting bait and getting all excited when something is on her line (although we do have to help her reel in).
She's responsible for two of my favorite memories from this trip. The woman has so much fishing talent that she lassoed a fish! Well, ok, the fish actually lassoed itself while trying to escape, but it sounds much more impressive to give mom credit. I will admit my other memory is a bit snarky, but it was funny to most of us! My mother was reeling in a (little) fish at the back of the boat. Satisfied that she was doing all right, the rest of us on deck went about tending our own poles. Suddenly, we hear this, "OH! OH! OH!" and we turn to see my mother scooting forward towards the very back. Seems the little bugger had a lot of fight in him! Luckily, my cousin was close to her, grabbed her belt loop, and hauled her back to a safer distance. Good thing she has a good sense of humor, because I don't think I laughed so hard in a long time!
Oh, by the way, she was never in any danger of actually falling in!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Knitting Mojo

Apparently, my knitting mojo is back. There's nothing like going somewhere cold after suffering through a heat wave that gets the needles moving! Of course, being the ADD knitter that I am, I have three projects going on simultaneously.
I took my openwork scarf out of hibernation:

I love this yarn! It's Artfibers Alfabeto and it's so smooth and nice to knit with. I want to switch my needles to something with a sharper point, but I'm afraid it will affect my gauge too much. I'm wondering if I can get away with switching them for the KnitPicks wood needles. With all the psso's the blunt tips of my Crystal Palace needles are driving me crazy! Opinions?

I also started a scarf for my cousin, since she needs pink in her life (sounds weird, I know). It's a variation on Candi Jensen's Mohair and Lace.

Finally, I was all set to make the cuff for my first toe-up sock, when something went so wrong that it was easier to frog the thing and start over. Talk about blessings in disguise! It was suggested I put a gold toe on it when I knit the first one, but I didn't have the yarn. Now I'll have my gold toes and heels. Sometimes, the little things can really make your day!I decided I needed to celebrate the fact that the knitting mojo has returned. So of course, I just had to sign up for a swap on Ravelry! I haven't been in a swap since last winter and the Blue Sky Alpacas Swap looks like it will be fun to shop for.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

First, let me start off by offering thanks to Tina and Emicat for their kind comments. Tina, I know you must be a fantastic mother, because you're such a great cheerleader! Emiko, thank you for the condolences, I appreciate it.

I haven't blogged for a while, but this time I have a legitimate excuse. For the first time in many years (7?, 8?), I went on an actual vacation. You know, the kind where there are nothing is expected of you, and you don't have to visit anyone/anyplace because it is your "duty" (which is why I no longer go to Honolulu). So where did I go to have such a relaxing time? Just a little past the Great White North, to the wilds of Alaska. Actually, "wilds" is an exaggeration - I was in Petersburg, south of Juneau - but there was a lot of wildlife.


Killer whales:

Basket starfish (aren't they pretty?):

There were almost always deer in the backyard:

I went on a fishing trip with my mom, my cousin, and his 15 year old son. I had a great time harassing my cousin's kid; which probably says a lot about my level of maturity. I knew that he was getting much too comfortable with me when he started to call me by his sister's name; and she's 19! But I guess it's better to be young at heart -- the alternative being my "I only watch Fox News" cousin (hard to believe I'm only ten years younger than he is). Ah, I'm being uncharitable, he's really a wonderful guy; however, compared to me, he is a grown up.

I'm still trying to figure out whether or not this is the upside or the downside of my trip. Behold my freezer:
Anybody want some halibut?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mid-life Crisis

I swear, I think I am having a mid-life crisis...right before the end of school, I signed up for two summer classes at UC Berkeley Extension. Classes that have nothing to do with my professional life, but I have been getting nudged in this new direction by friends and colleagues. So I thought, what the heck, why not?

My first class (graphic design) started before my school year ended. At four hours once a week, it is a long class. On the first night, to soften the blow of having to sit in class for that long, we started to watch the film Helvetica, a documentary about the typeface. I never thought a film about typography would be so interesting! Of course, after watching it, I became a little obsessive-compulsive about identifying the font every time I saw it around me. Evidently, there's also a traveling exhibit that is commemorating Helvetica's 50 years. So far, I am really enjoying it; even though it freaks me out a bit creatively (Always comparing myself to others & coming up short. Why are we always so hard on ourselves and easy on others? ).

This week, I had to photograph signage: billboards, posters, etc. Of course, I had to have a juvenile moment:Is it me, or is the word of a little too close to the word ART? This is what happens to your brain when you teach second grade for seven years (potty humor abounds)!

We've been designing stamps too (it's all based on the alphabet):

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Such a Slacker

I'm sitting here staring at my blog archives. Hard for me to believe that at this time last year, I already had at least 33 entries (and that was only from April to June)! I think the title of this entry says it all.
Last month, I played "dutiful daughter" and went Iowa with my sister for a shin-dig at my mother's alma mater. They had Linda Purl come and sing. Remember her from "Happy Days" (Fonzie's fiance) and "Matlock"? She is also an accomplished jazz singer. I really enjoyed it; her performance was top notch, plus her banter was really funny!
The trip itself started out as a comedy of errors. My sister and I took the red-eye from San Francisco to Chicago on what had to be the most broken down plane in the fleet. And what's up with the distance between seat nowadays? I swear, by knees were almost touching the seat in front of me. Neither of us had slept much the night before, & we resigned ourselves to another night of little rest.
We had an uneventful and more comfortable flight to Omaha, where we picked up our rental & drove to Sioux City (my sister was trying to save money on the flights). As we were pulling out of the lot, my sister said, "Do you smell oil?" Tired and somewhat cranky, I replied, "No, let's just get on the road." She spent the next 90 minutes keeping me awake and entertained while I tried to keep my eyes open and drive between the lines. This is the point where I will publicly admit that I should have listened to her in Omaha. When we were pulling off the freeway on our way to the hotel, the oil smell got a lot stronger. As soon as we slowed down and parked, we noticed white smoke starting to wisp out from under the hood. My first thought? "Oh crap, she's gonna blow!" Lucky for me, the mid-west is full of good people, who are willing to help out when someone is in distress. A bus driver (who was grandfather-type) ambled over and said, "Ladies, I want you to pop that hood." You should have seen the white clouds billowing out of the engine when I did what he asked! Turns out, the rocket scientists at the car rental agency had changed the oil and forgot to put the oil cap back on. What a mess! *Note to anyone renting from Budget in the Sioux City, Iowa area: there is no Budget office in Sioux City and they will not come and pick up the car from you. I ended up having to go to the Hyundai dealership, where they cleaned up the engine and gave me a new oil cap. They were so nice, they didn't have it in stock, so they took it off of a new car!
And my mother wonders why I don't like to travel anymore...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Little Girl

Eighteen years ago, this fluffy little furball wandered onto my patio and into my life. We called her "Little Girl," because she was the smallest in the litter, and we couldn't find a name that fit her any better. Once in a while, if you are very lucky (or truly blessed), you will have an animal that becomes less of a pet and more of an extension of you. Little Girl was that kind of animal.
Hands down, she was the sweetest cat that has ever owned me (I'm just being realistic here... felines humor us into thinking we own them). Her rumbly purr started the minute my hand touched her fur. She would always come nuzzle me if I was crying. I used to "fake cry," just to get the attention. If she thought I was distressed she would come running, rubbing up against me, head butting me, as if to say, "Here - pet me - I'll make you feel better." I'd run my hands through her soft fur (she felt like an angora rabbit), listen to her purr, and start to feel less tragic.
I have never had a cat that liked to be brushed as much as she did. She loved it so much, that she would do it herself, if you held the brush up for her. For a while, I thought about renaming her "Thumper", after the rabbit in Bambi. The inspiration? Just look here.
I know it's probably an insult to felines, but I used to think that Little Girl had some dog in her somewhere. She was faithful, always followed me around, and waited on the windowsill for me to come home. Eighteen years ago, Little Girl wandered into my life. On Tuesday, she slipped out of my life, but she will always remain in my heart.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Some of What I've Been Up To

So, why was I away? In all honesty, some things were happening in my life that made blogging about yarn and cats seem insignificant. A friend of mine lost her battle with breast cancer and at about the same time, my cousin was diagnosed with cancer. I'm very happy to say that things are looking good for my cousin...the cancer was caught early and has been treated aggressively. Me? I did what I always do when I'm stressed; try to bury myself in work and other distractions, so I wouldn't have a chance to think too much. Luckily, summer's almost here and things seem to be getting back on track.

Some of the things that have happened while I wasn't blogging:

Cut and donated my hair.

14 inches gone!

I also tortured the cats at Christmas. She looks thrilled, doesn't she?

My mother's dumb beast is always fun to pester (Mom always leaves him with me for a few months during the winter so he doesn't have to fly back and forth to Seattle).
Winter was colder than expected. Jack Frost did a number on my car too many times to count. But it was pretty, wasn't it?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just Mark Me Absent

A friend of mine posed this question to me the other day: "So, what happened to your blog?"

I responded with little more than a shoulder shrug and the paltry explanation that life has almost a little too busy to read, much less write a blog (besides, I was always bad at keeping diaries!).

But, in the words of our Governator, "I'll be back."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Update for "M"

To the not so anonymous "mtf" . . . here's an update just for you!

Yeah, I know, I didn't quite make it as far as we talked about, but I'll make you a deal: I'll keep it up as long as you don't kill me when you come back from maternity leave! I can't wait to see you and the little man on Saturday!