Monday, August 31, 2009

I.T. Girl

My new classroom houses a wonderfully fantastic piece of technology - a Smartboard. This interactive white board is changing everything!

I just revised my first couple of lesson plans of the year, which, among other more exciting things, have always included some handouts on class rules and procedures – necessary, but not exciting. Instead of handouts this year, my students will be writing on what looks like a regular old whiteboard, but instead, it will be a projection of those old handouts on which we will mark the important parts (Rule #1: Follow directions.). I will then save and send this highlighted version of the rules to them and their parents via email with just a few keystrokes.

Between the Smartboard, the Social Bookmarking websites, and Edmodo (twitter for teachers), I am admittedly a bit overwhelmed by the vastness of what has been out there, unbeknownst to me, all this time. Why haven’t I known about this stuff?

As my eyes and mind have opened to what the internet can do, I mean beyond email and Facebook, I've realized something very important. I’m old. Even the new teachers, who are only five or six years younger than I am, are far better at using RSS Feeds and igoogle.

I have crossed the line. I am on the other side of the generation gap. But it’s okay...sort of. I’m trying, and hopefully my small steps with these new tools will grow into bigger ones. I just keep thinking that if I can do this, my students are going to amaze me this year.


I still like paper and pens, but I think I'm crushing on new technology!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

synthetic happiness

Have you heard of TED? I only just learned about it from my friend this summer. Here's a link to the TED talk she mentioned when we were chatting about happiness. It's a talk by Dan Gilbert who asks: Why are We Happy? I just added the RSS Feed to my igoogle page this week. More on my personal technological advances to come…

her twist...
Wishing everyone happy thoughts.


Early this summer my three best childhood girlfriends and I miraculously coordinated our trips back to Chicago to overlap for about 3 days. It was fabulous! Three out of the four of us now have baby girls, so we spent our days at the park and the pool, and nights catching up on life. As one would imagine, things have gotten a little more complicated since junior high, with work, marriage, grad school, the economy. But coming back to each other reminded me how special it is to have old friends. The four of us have all left the Chicago area and we’ve forged many new, wonderful friendships. Still, getting together with the girls who you’ve known since 6th grade math class and playing dress-up at sleepovers is nothing short of fantastic. And then watching your own little girls play in the backyard together, I mean, c’mon! I think somewhere in my mind I always knew we’d scatter, but I think part of me also imagined that we’d raise our kids on the same block. It’s hard to be so far away, and yet so close at heart.

her twist

Amazed, proud, inspired, grateful for my fabulous friends.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

banana muffins

After college, my mom gifted me with a book of our family recipes – such a great idea for anyone starting out on their own. One of my favorites has always been our Banana Cake. It’s easy and delicious.

1 stick of butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 cup banana – mashed (approx. 3 bananas)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 can of chocolate frosting

This can be mixed in a food processor or using a hand mixer.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream, then banana and vanilla. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add to banana mixture and blend. Pour into greased and floured 9 inch square pan. Bake @ 350° for 25-30 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed with finger. Cool in pan or on wire rack. Frost when cool with chocolate frosting.

her twist

I'm kind of amazed at how being a mom has made me considerably more conscientious about buying, making, and eating healthy food than I ever was pre-motherhood. I’m also on a mission to find quick and easy, healthy recipes (please send yours my way). So, I’ve adapted this recipe into a slightly healthier version.

Ingredients & Directions:
Same as above except…

Substitute flour with organic whole wheat flour. (I’ve tried the gluten free baking mix by Arrowhead Mills, which probably tastes fine, but not when you burn it. Warning: the muffins bake faster with this mix.)

Add 2-3 tablespoons of flax seed with flour mixture. Make sure to use ground flax seed for maximum health benefits. (I like Spectrum Essentials Organic Ground Flaxseed. I write down the date that I open it on the front of the bag – I’ve heard it should last about 3 months.)

Add 1/3 cup of steamed spinach after everything is combined. (Our Trader Joes just started carrying frozen chopped organic spinach – hooray for not having to blend it myself.) Be sure to squeeze/drain out the excess water before adding the spinach to the bowl.

Instead of the baking pan, try a muffin tin. The recipe usually makes 12-15 regular sized muffins.

Once they’re cool, stick them in a Ziploc and throw them in the freezer. It takes about 20-25 seconds to thaw in the microwave.

Monday, August 17, 2009

open house

Over the past couple of years I’ve developed a new guilty pleasure…a very late 20’s/early 30’s guilty pleasure. I love looking at real estate online. My favorite sites are Red Fin, and (which is local to southern California). The thing is, we’re not actually looking to buy, but I tell myself it’s good to know what’s out there for when the time comes.

Last week I found the house I want. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it my dream house. Let’s call it my dream-for-now house. It needs some work for sure, but it’s in a great neighborhood, it’s got the right stats, the price is like $100,000 less than the tear-downs in the area, and it’s completely livable if we closed today and wanted to move right in. Not sure why it’s so cheap, but it keeps the dream alive!

So, we went to the open house on Sunday. We were curious, what can I say? Wow – what a crowd. Apparently I’m not the only one scoping out the local housing market. We arrived at the house around 3pm, and there must’ve been at least 30 other people there too. And they were just like us! Some a little older, some with more than one kid, but all were pretty much young families imagining life in a little Spanish style starter home. We perused the decent sized three bedrooms, the dining area with built-ins, the living room with fireplace, the study off the living room, the kitchen, the LAUNDRY room!, the yard with space for a swing set, the 3-car-garage we’d turn into a guest house (permitted of course!), and we fell in love.

On our way out, I turned the corner down the main hall and nearly ran into another mom with a little girl on her hip too. We giggled at our matching everything, and she asked, “Do you guys want to split it? Maybe then it’d be in our price range?!” My thoughts exactly. Ha!

her twist
Even if they are still almost a million bucks, at least the houses are getting a little cheaper in LA. There’s hope for us…right? I know our time will come, and we’ll find our actual dream-forever-house, but until we save enough, and these houses are actually affordable for normal people, I’ll continue my online fantasy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

beach day

A few Thursday mornings ago I woke up early – 5:55am – to get one of the hottest tickets in town - pool passes to the Annenberg Community Beach House (ACBH)!

Now, I love the beach, but only in theory because once I’m there I sort of hate it. I blame the sand completely for my aversion.

Flash forward to the following Sunday. It was my husband’s birthday, and he loves the beach so much, in theory and practice, that going to the beach for his birthday has become an annual event. We’d both heard good things about Santa Monica’s new beach house, so I figured we should check this place out.

The early wake up call 3 days prior to get those pool passes was totally worth it! Here’s what I loved about ACBH… there are plenty of chairs and tables on deck for everyone who’s there, you can move deck furniture wherever you want (and the staff will help you do this), you can eat poolside (no glass bottles or alcohol), you can bring your own food or get stuff at the cafĂ© (which isn’t too expensive), they have tons of new sand toys for the kids to play with so you don’t have to worry about losing or cleaning your own, it’s environmentally friendly down to the eco-toilets in the locker rooms, and the whole place is pretty much spotless.

I have to admit, we had so much fun eating and swimming that we didn’t exactly make our way down to the beach itself. But, the walkway that they’ve built basically goes from PCH down to the ocean, which seems like it’d cut down on some of my issues with the sand. So, maybe next time.

her twist
Wake up early to make your reservation, and head to the beach house before summer’s over. Bring a great lunch or buy one there. And enjoy a fabulous day at the beach (even if you never leave the pool)!

first twist

her: meaning me. twist: meaning my take on things. This blog will be like a digital scrapbook of sorts. A place to post what I see, what I think, what I wonder about.