28 November 2011

Not your usual post, not your usual potatoes

I know I've never really done food on this site, but hey - I love LOVE love to cook, so it was really only a matter of time. 

So... I think I might be breaking the unspoken rule of blogging about food: I have not made this recipe yet. BUT it is a recipe that I have wanted to make since the moment I read it. I was silly enough to sign up for that Gojee app on Google Chrome. It doesn't always have recipes to my taste. I might get one every week or two that looks interesting, but I saw this one and couldn't pass up looking at it.

 My husband and I eat vinegar potatoes a lot, but I have never thought of boiling them in the vinegar without water. It sounds intense. In fact, the blogger from which I got this recipe flat out says they're pretty intense. This recipe originally comes from Martha Stuart.

Salt and Vinegar Broiled Fingerling Potatoes

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June, 2009
-serves 4-
1 pound fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise to 1/4-inch thickness*
2 cups white vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt
1. In a small pot, combine the potato slices and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 8 minutes. Let cool in liquid for 30 minutes. Then drain well and pat potatoes dry with paper towels.
2. Preheat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches below the heat source. Dump the potato slices onto a sheet pan, sprinkle very generously with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange the potato slices in a single layer. Broil until lightly browned on top, about 7 minutes. Then flip the slices and broil until the underside is lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Serve warm.

I'll be trying this out this week. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

21 November 2011

Book Challenge Update

So I recently finished A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. I've been rereading the series in preparation for Out of Oz, the last book in the series. I've also now finished L. Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz, which funnily enough, doesn't have much to do with Ozma. I mean, she's there, but only for a very small portion of the story compared to Dorothy. I'm looking for the Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz audiobook at the moment. Thus, my Land of Oz themed reading continues.

29 books. I'm at 29 novels for the year. That's not bad. My goal that I set in December/January (I don't remember - probably January) was 30. Not too shabby. I'll probably even exceed my goal by a bit. And that doesn't even include articles for my Master's degree work, articles for my research assistant position, and about 3 or 4 books that I've started and not quite finished over the year. Plus - and I hate to admit this - my rereading of a few of the books I've already read this year. I've reread one already and I started rereading another a few days ago. I can't help it. Sometimes I'm just really in the mood for one of my favorites. I'm one of special people in the world that has the ability (and sometimes the desire) to read books and watch movies back to back (to back) in one go. It's weird, but it's true. 

What's your favorite book? How many times have you read it? Leave me a comment to let me know you've stopped by. 

18 November 2011

On a random note

What is up with this lap booking thing? It sounds like a great idea, but every time I go to a website, I have a bunch of religiosity shoved down my throat on every page.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against being religious or spreading the word (in general), but I would like to find a site that explains something to me about lap booking and how it might be useful for older kids in the classroom while still saving my future (and I might add hypothetical) job in the public school system of America. No ten commandments, no prayer circles, so I'm guessing probably no crosses on every page of a lap book. But usually these sites have no instructions provided and very small pictures.

Other than the fact that every lap booking site seems to suggest that the only people who home school (where lap booking is all the rage) are people that accompany their "C is for Crickets" lap book with Crosses and sCriptures to teach the lifeCycles of bugs, it sounds like an interesting and creative idea. I can see older kids (I'm talking high school) doing some interesting projects in this kind of format. It would be a nice way for them to have and create long-lasting major artifacts in their classroom experience that can be used to teach others, be read aloud or explored by younger and older kids.

It seems silly to be very broadly lesson planning at this stage (the still getting certified stage) of my teaching career, but these kinds of ideas excite me. I'd love to hear any recommendations for creative learning sites with these kinds of projects illustrated.

Do you make lap books with your kids? Have you heard about them? Let me know in the comments.

15 November 2011

The end of my hiatus

I know this is an excuse, but work and transitions have overcome me for a while. It's a part of poor planning - a teacher shouldn't let transitions break too far into the daily plan. But then, I'm not a teacher yet, so lessons are still being learned on that front.

Unfortunately, there isn't much fun news to catch up on. I finished The Marvelous Land of Oz. I also got through Son of a Witch again, which was better this time through. I'm closing in on the end of A Lion Among Men as well, in preparation for Out of Oz, which I expect to get for Christmas. Now it's a matter of holding myself back - I know I shouldn't buy it on my kindle before I go home to get a hard copy. It'll be maddening to wait though. :)  Again, if you haven't read the series, I highly recommend it. Maguire has a way of doing all of the political satire and intrigue well folded into highly personal and delving narrative.

I've been doing making some stationary and calendars for those at home - DIY Christmas gifts. The easy way out too. It's a pain to drag gifts for people from halfway around the world - especially when you're not sure if they'll like them. Plus, we've done the normal "from Hong Kong" gifts of jade and Chinese zodiac things. You just can't do those kinds of gifts over and over. People's houses get full of stuff they don't use too much anyway.

 Instead, I take the time to make some nice designs and pay for the printing. I'll do all of the cutting and packaging myself. I think they're coming out quite nicely. I've made a gamble posting one of them to the internet early,  but I'll run the risk. :)

What are you doing to get ready for the holidays? Do you make your own handmade gifts? Leave me a comment to let me know you stopped by!

06 November 2011

Two book challenge updates in a week....

... this should tell you something.

I've been busy. And when I'm busy, I tend to sleep less, which means I end up reading more at night. I ploughed through Wicked without a second thought and bought (again) Son of a Witch to follow it up. It helped that I ended up spending quite a while a immigration  on order to get my visa.

So Wicked by Gregory Maguire is the next book on my book challenge that I've completed. I'm hoping to add The Marvelous Land of Oz to that today. I think the audiobook is nearing its end. If a lecture on Buddhism doesn't get in the way, it should be finished.

For those of you who haven't read Wicked, I highly recommend it. It takes some of our favorite settings, people (well, I was a fan of Edith Hamilton) and ideas from L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz and turns them on their head. We get a new, deep view into the "Life and Times of" Elphaba (EL-fa-ba/ L-F-B/L. Frank Baum), the wicked witch of the west. One of the most interesting parts, I think, is how Maguire chose (and continued to choose throughout the series) to make them like memoirs. It's written in third person omniscient, but the entire series, thus far, has taken the definite tone of a memoir. I'm happily awaiting the release of the final book in the series (book 4) this month. I cannot wait to see how it all gets concluded. :)

What do you have on your bedside table? Do you like to read before bed or another time of day?

01 November 2011

The Inevitable

"Can I say something about destiny? Screw destiny. If this evil thing comes, we'll fight it and we'll keep fighting it till we whup it. Because destiny is just another word for inevitable. And nothing is inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye and say, "You're evitable." (pauses) Well, you catch my drift." (From a geeky show that so geeky I'm going to make you click to find out how very geeky and girly I am)

Today, I'm writing about the inevitable (and possibly the evitable, too): writing. There's a certain kind of people out there - if you're a blogger, you're probably one of them. They're a kind  of people that no matter what they try to do, they end up scribbling or typing things down. Sometimes its random impressions or bits of fluff. Sometimes it's a novel's worth of words. Whatever it is, it's writing and it comes out of us. It's inevitable. 

There are some difficult parts of being one of the writerly population:
1) It's not always easy to express what you want on paper. Usually stuff comes out, but it may not always be what you're trying to say.
2) We tend to gather piles of little scraps with tidbits of writing on them around us. They end up in the shadowy corners of our desks, the pockets of our bags, under the bed... the list goes on and on.
3) We have to find an audience for our rubbish writing.

This third one, I think, is the one that stops many of us, especially when it comes to the blogging world. Here's a few scenarios:

A handsome young man excitedly opens his laptop and pulls up a blog hosting site in his web browser. He clickity-clacks away on his keyboard, knowing it's good. Excitedly he presses the "Publish" button and waits. And waits... and waits...

A beautiful woman whose children have just been put down to nap for the afternoon goes to her desktop and pulls a notepad out of her purse. She's scribbled some profound moment that she experienced while in the grocery store. The grocery clerk had stared as she awkwardly held her notepad against the milk jug and written messily with a broken pencil from her bag while her kids took a dozen boxes of cereal off of the shelves, but she knew it needed to be written then. She flips to the correct page and types the words. She, too, presses "Publish" and waits. And waits...

The ending is the same both ways: no one reads the blog posts. Maybe they'd change someone's life if only that someone would READ IT! A blog seemed the perfect medium on which to post my (poetry/recipes/stories from my childhood/diy tips/love of all things Wilma Flinstone/fill in the blank). It is the perfect medium... when you get some feedback.

Everyone and their mommy blogger has written a post about creating traffic on your site by forming an online community, but when you're first starting out none of that comes easily. It takes time to find the right kind of bloggers to start that community with. You have to go out searching for blogs that are interesting that are written by people that are interested in your writing. That doesn't always happen. 

Here's where we say: "You're evitable." 

I've found a  few good communities, but it took some time. I was lucky enough to already know some people who blogged and could start there. The great thing that I've found out about blogs is that everybody in the blogosphere is rockin' a meme. Every other blog you hit hosts some sort of "linky" on a given day of the week and has a nice name for it that uses alliteration (like "Susan's Silly Sunday Post" or "Mommy's Frickin' Tired Mondays"). Sure, they may not always be the topic or format that you've been wanting to write in, but I know some people (for the sake of these examples... person) who write things like Listicles (list blogs), but break the rules or make them stream of thought*. It may not be the perfect thing for you, but you can make it work. Best of all, when you link up you get a few people coming by your site. Most blog designs have ways of enticing readers to click on other posts (previous post buttons, popular post widgets, recent post widgets, etc) and you'd be surprised what they'll do. Sometimes I link up a blog post, only to find that more people are reading a previous posts than they are the linked up one!

Crazy stuff. 

Even seasoned bloggers need to be reminded sometimes that if you put a few backlinks to previous posts, you can gain readers by helping new people see what you're about. I like to feature awesome stuff I find on other people's blogs from time to time to help spread the love myself and I LOVE when people recommend things in comments. I like to tie them into follow up posts. 

But back to that evitable bit. If you're someone who's writing all the time, but the blog traffic just ain't happening - try it again. Stop by here and let me know you're out there to be read. Link up on a site like lovelinks or Write on Edge or Just.Be.Enough or Monday Listicles and get to writing! 

And that's the point - to get to writing, because writing is inevitable, but a lack of people reading it doesn't have to be.

This post (in fact) is being linked up with lovelinks #29. Check it out! Also, let me know you stopped by in the comments. :)

*A special thank you to Erica at freefringes, who did not volunteer her blog posts as examples, but who got taken advantage of here because she just has such good examples. 

November: Rabbit-rabbit

It's the first day of November and I still can't quite figure out how October went by so quickly.

Most people are scurrying over to the NaNoWriMo site to start typing the first of the 1 billion words that they've promised to write each day this month. I've made a much small goal of getting in 1000 words a day. I hate to say it, but with the drafting that I do for my job and writing my blog, that won't be too hard. I am going to try to focus them on a story I've been meaning/needing to finish for a while now. We'll see how that works out.

I've got a few Book Challenge updates (since I'm absolute pants at doing it when I actually finish books).

I recently finished The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum. I've never read any of Baum's books before. I had only seen the movie of The Wizard of Oz. I decided to start listening to the audio books of the entire series (which are public domain and therefore free, by the way). I'm now listening to The Marvelous Land of Oz. It's not your typical YA series. Given when it was written, it's interestingly imaginative, but also strangely mundane. They would never be published today, but I love the platform that they've given Gregory Maguire to run with. It's great to see all of the details Maguire picks up from the different Oz stories - they make for great inclusions in his version of the story. (If you can't tell, I'm also reading Wicked again.)

I also kinda cheated and reread one of the books that I've already read this year. I couldn't help it and it won't count toward my overall goal.

Also, I officially got my job today!

So... have you made the crazy decision to become obsessed dedicate your November to NaNoWriMo?

Leave me a comment to let me know you stopped by!