Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apparently I'm a dumpster diver now

Do you remember the last time I "inherited" some new furniture from the dumpster in my neighborhood? I ended up with a great piece of furniture that I still use in my classroom.

The new project started Friday when I got home from work. I took Minnie out for a walk in the cold and saw a leaning bookshelf sitting in one of our dumpster carports. I looked around to see if anyone was in the middle of moving and just rested it there. Nope. It was in the trash.

I came home and texted Molly to ask for advice. Should I pick it up? I've always wanted one, but wasn't sure I had the spot for it in my condo. I didn't think I could carry it and was almost sure it wouldn't fit in my car. Molly replied to say, "Take it and decide later!" So, I hopped in my car and drove it around the development to see if the shelf was still there. I put the shelf in my back seat, but had to drive back to my building with the back door open because the shelf was so big.

Mom came over this afternoon to help me find the perfect spot for this shelf. The office seemed to be the best option. Last summer I had rearranged the office to make room for a new dresser. It was still a mess and we had to move things to make it all work.

Here are the finished products! The bookshelf was already painted this gray blue color. Thanks, friendly neighbor! I also hung that brown frame that Jilly gave me for my birthday a few years ago. I'm embarrassed it took me this long to get it hung. It is filled with baby pics of Ells because I don't seem to print pictures out anymore :(

Got rid of the tiny bookshelf on that right-hand wall and moved the brown dresser over there. That small bookshelf is now sitting out at the dumpster. I hope someone else can use it! The top of the desk is cleaned off, too. This couch is Minnie's spot during the day, hence the dog bed & towel.

After Mom left, she told me to get to work & finish organizing. So, I tackled the GIANT piles of filing I've been putting off for months. I hate to file papers, both at home and at work! I sat in that tiny open space for about 2 hours to get all these bills and papers put away.

Mom did a GREAT job of organizing and decorating the shelf for me. I love the way it looks.

I can still access my printer on the bottom shelf for the occasional time that I need to print something. Most of the other items came from on top of my desk or around my condo.

This is the cleanest my office has been in years! I'm hoping it will stick :) Not bad for a zero dollar makeover!

Pin It!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Light, easy dinner

Looks good, no?

I don't think my prep time every matches that on the recipe. I must be slow and/or not very efficient. I left out the following items ... I'm sure you aren't surprised: hot sauce (would have added, but didn't want to buy it just for this), cilantro, shallot. I also used a box of Garden Delight tomato, carrot & spinach pasta instead of the whole-wheat pasta. It came in a 12oz. box, so I added left over penne pasta in my cabinet to get the pound. You'd be fine with just the 12oz. box!
** UPDATE: Clearly my eyes only see what they want to when it comes to my favorite carbs. I honestly never saw that the recipe called for just 1/2 of a 1lb. box of pasta until Molly pointed it out to me. No wonder it made so much! Stick with just half the box, or the 12oz. box for more pasta in the gazpacho. **

Cooked pasta. So pretty looking!

Diced veggies. I used a whole cucumber. I also used an orange bell pepper instead of yellow because it looked better at the grocery store. I forgot to add the cherry tomatoes until after I mixed the pasta in this.

Easy dressing. I thought this wouldn't be enough, but it was plenty. The final (gazpacho) product is less soup-y & more pasta salad-y.

My portion for dinner. This made a HUGE amount! I ate this bowl, gave some to a neighbor, packed some for Mitzi & Brenda & me for lunch tomorrow, and have 2 more portions left for future meals.

Oh, and I dirtied up just about every utensil and bowl in my kitchen!


Pin It!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This puts things in perspective

Today, I got an email at work from our school counselor. She found this post from a teacher in Joplin, MO. I immediately opened her email and then started crying at my desk during the day. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

This is from the journal of a teacher in Joplin, Missouri as the school year is beginning. It kind of puts many things into perspective.
This may end up being my last tornado journal update. You want to know why? Because for the first time in 87 days, I have been able to breath today. I have been able to feel almost normal today. My kids were able to sleep and have something to wake up for today. We didn't have to spend our summer days wishing the pools hadn't been destroyed. We didn't have to wish we could go to our favorite parks, only to remember that they are no longer there. We didn't have to do anything that revolved around the tornado. We got to get up and go to school!
With the help of donations from around the world, these kids came back in style! Every child received a backpack with Joplin Eagles and our eagle logo on the front that was filled with school supplies appropriate for the grade. Every high school student--whether they were going back to school at the mall campus or the old middle school--received a laptop in the backpack. They will do all of their learning via the computers since the textbooks were destroyed. There is a coffee bar set up in the mall campus that the business classes will run. A theater in Branson adopted the drama department. Barry Manilow sent a truckload of instruments for the band. Amazon donated truckloads of books. As we walked into our building this morning, members of a local church greeted every child and teacher with smiles, high fives, handshakes, and snacks! Media outlets, both local and national, filmed at the various school locations, focusing on the more innovative spots like the high school in the mall and the middle school in an old warehouse. These children will not be disappointed with the facilities that were amazingly constructed over a few weeks’ time. It took a lot of time and effort from many people. We had volunteers from around the country putting together furniture, stocking libraries, cleaning new desks, filling all of those backpacks. There is even a health club in the new high school because there was not space for a traditional gym. Talk about getting the job done!
As a teacher, the best part about today was seeing the kids. There were some physical injuries from the tornado that were still visible. There will be even more emotional scars that will pop up in the days to come. Several former students wanted to tell me their stories today. One boy crawled out of his house after the tornado was over to find an arm in his front yard. Another 7th grader found a child when he was helping to clear the rubble near his home-the child hadn't survived. Another talked about coming up from his basement to find that there was nothing left of his house and how disorienting that was for him. I was lucky enough to be trained by Dr. Arshad Husain and his staff of trauma psychiatrists and psychologists in a Teachers As Therapists program. I have to admit that it seemed a little weird to me that our town needed this type of training as I knew his team works with children experiencing major trauma. I had to admit that we did indeed need his help. Today, though, the tears were mostly from joy and pride and, yes, that hope we talk about around here all the time. It finally feels like we are healing. Never underestimate the role that a school system plays in a community. It was a huge step for our town to get back to normalcy.
We had our Welcome Back session on Monday for all Joplin Schools employees. It had all of the usual things you would expect--the cheerleaders, the band, the speeches. It also had a lot of things we didn't expect--the entire sidewalk heading into the auditorium lined with people from the community shouting "thank you" and holding up "good luck" signs, a copy of the USA Today on every seat that featured a front page story about our schools and one of our students, the governor praising our school and city efforts since the tornado, and even a video with celebrities like Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Charles Barkley, Sugarland, and Lady Antebellum wishing us good luck and shouting, "Go Eagles." There were boxes of Kleenex scattered around the seats because this was no ordinary Back to School session. This one made everyone in that room proud to be an Eagle and proud of our town! Even though it is still going to be awhile before we can truly get things back to normal, we are headed in the right direction. When you have hope, nothing is unreachable!

Pin It!