Friday, August 31, 2012

First Week of Class

Really original title, right? Hey, it's what this post is about, so I figured I may as well get straight to the point! Though this week was only three days, it was exhausting, and I am very thankful for this three-day weekend. However, I am also very excited about my classes this semester, challenging and demanding as they may prove to be.

Let's start with my English classes: Literature of Islamophobia and Major Writers of the 18th Century. Okay, I am not thrilled about the topics, but the professors are excellent and I am really hoping that they will make these topics come alive for me, because so far, the reading has been pretty tough for me to get through. That also might be because I am not quite back into "school mode" yet, and I was under the impression that this week was going to be syllabus week, and I would be getting out of class after about 20 minutes. Not the case. But I guess I understand, we have to start sometime, so why not just dive right on into it?
This is what I have to look forward to this semester
Now on to my UTeach classes, classes that are moving me closer to earning my teacher certification next spring. I am taking a Rhetoric and Writing for Teachers of English, Adolescent Literacy, and Intro to Teaching Middle School. My 8am Rhetoric class seems like it is going to be one of my most challenging classes, yet most helpful and rewarding classes. On the first day of having that class, the professor talked about how, as potential future teachers, we are called to make students better citizens of the world. This class is going to challenge our traditional views on teaching, and I can't wait for what this class has in store.
Education-related books
My adolescent literacy class - a three-hour, once-a-week class - is going to be a lot of fun. My professor is just incredible, and we spent the class talking about the class, obviously, and creating a timeline of literacy, in which we pinpointed moments in our lives that helped guide us toward a love of reading. I absolutely loved that, and I realized that my grandmother taking me to the library almost every day during the summers, and my parents always rewarding me with trips to the book store had a huge part in the reader that I am today. We also formed book clubs, and we are going to work within that group to create a project to present to the class. We got to choose virtually any young adult book, and my group chose Catcher in the Rye - a book that I have been dying to read (remember, I bought it at Shakespeare and Company in Paris?), and I am ecstatic to finally have an excuse to read it. I started it today during my break between classes and am already more than 100 pages in. I'm hooked!
So official!
Last but not least, my Intro to Teaching Middle School class. Last year I took the elementary school version of this class and I just loved it. I had the best time with those eight- and nine-year-old nuggets, and it was a great way to familiarize myself with the teaching profession. However, that class definitely walked me through virtually everything step-by-step, and this class is not going to be like that at all. The professor basically told us that he is not going to hold our hands and that we are on our own journeys to decide whether or not we want to stick with the profession. I will be assigned a school sometime next week - I can't wait! - and I will be in the school around two hours a week, with the responsibility of teaching six lessons throughout the course of the semester. I am very excited about this class, but I am also a little intimidated. This intimidating is a result of the professor's opening words, some of the horror stories that I have heard in the past, and just the fact that I am going to be responsible for teaching middle-school aged students: probably the most awkward age-group there is. Come on, who wasn't awkward during their middle school years?
Seventh-grade hat day
Dress fun at the galleria
My schedule is all over the place this year - only one class on Wednesdays, six hours of class on Thursdays, and a dreaded 8am. Now, I don't mind waking up early, but I do live about eight blocks off-campus this year, meaning I have to leave pretty darn early to make sure I get to my class on-time. And on-time to me is a little bit early. I hate feeling as though I am going to be late, and there is nothing worse than arriving to class sweaty, out-of-breath, and flustered. I will be spending quite a bit of time on-campus during my breaks between classes, but I am hoping that will allow me to get some good work done before returning home for the day.

Whew! That was a long post, and I am exhausted just thinking about those classes. My Friday has been a good one, starting with this 25-minute incline treadmill walk,

followed by a little ab work and a 20-minute climb on the stair master. My legs were tired this morning, and since I am taking a strength class tomorrow morning, I decided that a light cardio day was just what I needed. After a delicious breakfast, a refreshing shower, and my two classes of the day, I came home to enjoy a filling snack before doing a bit of reading and taking a short nap. The first week just wore me out!
Breakfast, with a side of frozen fruit that went undocumented 
What can be better than the peanut butter and banana combo?
I sauteed some vegetables around 6:30pm with the intentions of eating them alongside some pork loin. Well, guess who forgot to thaw said pork loin? Yep. So I made myself half a sandwich, ate a bit of baked oatmeal and rounded out the meal with one of my last few pumpkin-walnut muffins. It may have been a random dinner, but it was a tasty one!
My own personal vegetable medley
The rest of this evening will be comprised of a bit more reading, organizing, and waiting on updates on the big football game between my alma mater - Stratford, and their rival, Memorial. Hey, y'all should know by now that I love that high school of mine! Spank the 'stangs!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Day of School

I truly cannot believe that today is the first day of my junior year of college. While I (probably) have quite a few first days ahead of me due to my wanting to be a teacher, I still can't believe how fast time has flown. I don't have class until 2pm today, but I plan on student teaching on Wednesday mornings throughout this semester, so hopefully I only have a few weeks of nothing in the morning left! Plus, I am sure school will get very busy very quickly, so I don't think I will be bored for long!

Since yesterday was our last day of summer, two of my roommates and I braved the heat and headed over to the Greenbelt for a nice morning hike. The Greenbelt is about eight miles in length, so while we didn't cover the whole thing yesterday, we hiked for about an hour and a half and we definitely plan to come back and explore more of it.

We hit a few dead-ends and took a few questionable paths, all the while praying we didn't come into contact with any poison ivy, but we had a wonderful time exploring another great place that Austin has to offer.
Natalie jumping off some mogels 
A very creepy doll that we found 
Rock climbing canyon? 
Austin sure is a great place to live!
After running some last-minute errands: Target, grocery store, textbook pick-up, etc., Sarah and I got to work finishing up our room, which still is not finished, but we are definitely making progress. I even learned how to hammer nails into the wall - big accomplishment for this girl! I promise you guys will get a house tour, but we still have some things to craft, and some decisions to make on how we want to decorate things. I want to show you guys only the best, so that might take a little patience! We have thrown out some great ideas and I think it is going to look great! The only trick is finding time in what are sure to be extremely busy schedules.
One of my favorite parts of the house - a chalkboard!
This first day of school started bright and early as I biked on over to Gregory for an early-morning swim (snagged a lane, score!) and then completed 20-minutes on the stair master while reading my latest book - Gone Girl. I am hoping to have it finished by the time PBFingers posts a review on September 4th, but I don't know if that will actually happen. I will say that it is pretty darn intense so far and I am only 10% into the book!

After a shower, a little snack, and this blog post, I am getting ready to check a couple of items off of my to-do list: organizing the room, creating a craigslist ad for a beautiful armoir we are wanting to sell, and making sure everything is in order with our cable and Internet bill before preparing a quick lunch and heading off to my first, and only, class of the day, Literature of Islamophobia. Yeah, I'm interested to see how that one will turn out, too! Can't wait to report back with my "first day of class" opinions!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Easy as ABC

Happy Survey Sunday, folks! Sorry for the delay of a post, but Sundays are always pretty crazy, and I have also been getting ready for the big move back to Austin tomorrow! But I couldn't leave you guys without a fun survey!

[A] Apples or Oranges:
Apples. I have never been a big orange fan, and I have been known to eat three apples in a single day!
[B] Beans or Lentils:
That's a toughie, I really like both! But black beans are my current obsession, so I guess I'll go with beans.

[C] Cereal or Oatmeal:
CEREAL. Cheerios in particular. No matter how many times I try, I just cannot make myself like oatmeal. I have, though, recently discovered the art of baked oatmeal squares to trick myself into eating it.
[D] Dates or Raisins:
Raisins. I am such a fan of adding raisins to anything - yogurt, cereal, cookies, etc. 
[E] Eggs or Milk:
Eggs. That's a no brainer, since I can't drink milk, but I love eggs - omelets, scrambled, hard-boiled, you name it!
Omelettes were the star of my meals in Paris
[F] French toast or waffles:
Waffles, although I used to love French toast with powdered sugar on top. I just have waffles far more frequently, so waffles take the cake.
Who can forget Belgian Waffle Friday at SRD?
[G] Garlic or salt:
[H] Honey or maple syrup:
[I] Ice cream or frozen yogurt:
I think you all know what my answer is going to be..
[J] Jam or toast:
Toast, but isn't jam supposed to go on the toast? Anyway, I prefer to top my toast with peanut butter and cinnamon.
[K] Kale or spinach:
Kale is one of those things that I have been meaning to try - I feel as though it becoming more and more popular in the health food community. So until I give kale a try, spinach.
[L] Lemon or Lime:
Lemon. Though I am not a huge fan of either flavor, but lemon adds a little something something when cooking meat or fish.
[M] Muffins or Cupcakes:
Muffins. I could eat warm blueberry muffins until I am blue in the face. I have also recently become addicted to these pumpkin-walnut muffins - there is no stopping me!
[N] Nut butter or jelly:
Nut butter. I am not a huge jelly fan, but any type of nut butter gets two thumbs up from this girl!
[O] Onions or peppers:
I really like both, believe it or not, but I'd say peppers gets the edge because they don't leave your breath so stinky!
[P] Peanuts or Almonds:
Almonds - I have a serious addiction!

Roasted almonds are my very favorite!
[Q] Quick bread or yeast bread:
Yeast bread. Y'all, yeast roll days at SRD were probably the most celebrated day of the week.
[R] Raspberry or blackberry:
I have recently discovered my love for blackberries, so blackberry it is!
I do love all berries, though!
[S] Sweet or savory:
[T] Tea or Coffee:
Neither. Again, these are two things I wish I could like, but I really just don't.
[U] Udon or spaghetti noodles:
Spaghetti - I don't even know what udon noodles are!
[V] Vanilla or Chocolate:
Chocolate since the day I was born. I have never been a vanilla girl, there is nothing to give it any flavor!
[W] Whole wheat or white bread:
Whole wheat.
[X] Xanthan gum or Guar Gum:
I hear xanthan is great for adding thickness to smoothies!
[Y] Yogurt or Pudding:
YOGURT. Funny story, though I am now obsessed with it, I used to hate the stuff. Pudding, I have never liked.
[Z] Zucchini or Cucumber:
Zucchini - so, so delicious!
Again, I apologize for the late post, but today has been busy, busy, busy. Well, it has and it hasn't. I have certainly had my lazy moments, but I did manage to work on a little craft for Sarah's and my bathroom, plus, I finally learned a little bit about cooking. My dad knows to expect more than a few calls from me in these next few weeks!
A sneak peak of some of the bathroom decor! If you know me, this is about as crafty as I get!
Crock pot fun!
I'll see you guys from Austin - I can't wait to finally be an official resident of da clubhouse!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I have a quick and sweaty workout to share with you guys today, but we will get to that in a minute.

My Saturday started out with a little bit of spring cleaning, as I went through my closet gathering any clothes that no longer fit or that I no longer wanted, and found a couple of outfits that made me wonder how I even had friends in middle school and high school. Okay, they weren't that bad, but I was definitely no fashionista. I did, however, find about five Juicy Couture jackets (remember those attractive sweatsuits?) that I am going to give away, and I couldn't help but remember when I chose to sport the pink on pink on pink look for my 13th birthday party in seventh grade. It was a winner.

Legally Teen
After some cleaning and some packing, I headed up to City Centre to meet a friend, Hanna, for lunch. She and I were RA's this past year at SRD, and we quickly formed a bond when we got in a bit of trouble together. Trouble twins for life! Anyway, she was home in Houston for the weekend and decided to head out to my neck of the woods, so I did a little bit of shopping at some of my favorite (dangerous) stores before meeting her at Ruggles Green around 1:15pm. After much debate, I opted for the Veggie Nut Burger, sans cheese, with a side of quinoa tauboli, which I have never had before but I recommend it to anyone who likes quinoa. It had the perfect amount of flavor and it really hit the spot.

I got full about halfway through my burger, but it was so good that I decided to just power through and finish it all off. I was very, very full, but I have no regrets about it. It was that good. After our meal, we ventured into a few of the surrounding stores, where I swooned over a stuffed animal replica of Boo, the world's cutest dog. If you are unfamiliar with this bundle of cuteness, please click here and check him out. I promise you won't regret it.

After a quick trip to Michael's, I headed home to relax for a bit before finally motivating myself to hit the gym. I had a bit of a headache, I think from not drinking enough water throughout the day, but I knew I would feel better after a quick workout. And quick it was, but that doesn't mean it wasn't challenging. I took this workout from Carrots 'n' Cake, and I modified it so that I ended up running a little over four miles in just 35 minutes. It was tough, but it's slowly getting me back into distance-running shape. I have clearly been slacking on bootcamp, in favor of more cardio-based workouts this week, but I hope to get back on track with it starting Monday. In the end, my workout looked like this:

I was tempted to slow it down at some points of my run, but I knew it would be over soon enough, so I pushed through it and finished with a 90-second cool down walk before heading home with just enough daylight left to go on my evening walk. Whenever I am home, I try to take advantage of the fact that I have a peaceful neighborhood in which to take walks. I grab my headphones and walk through the streets of the neighborhood I have called home for so many years, loving seeing couples and families walking, biking, or just playing in their front yards. I will miss those walks when I return to Austin!

Now I am occupying my favorite spot on the couch, flipping back and forth between the Phillies and Texans games. Sounds like a solid Saturday night to me!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Baking, Baking, and More Baking

I apologize for my absence these past couple of days, and though I have no real excuse for my lack of recent blog posts, I do have some sweet treats to share with you guys. That's pretty much what I have been doing these past few days, and though I love having nothing that I absolutely have to do, I am actually excited for classes to start again so I can get back into a routine of class, studying, working out, Young Life, and a little bit of fun thrown into the mix. I am sure I will regret that statement in approximately six days when I am handed five different syllabi outlining due dates and test dates, but for now, I am ready to start the new semester!
Am I really ready for this to start up again?
There is nothing too exciting to report on the workout front, mostly because after doing a workout that consisted of 100 burpees on Tuesday, I was too sore to attend Felipe's Wednesday morning spinning class, as I had originally planned. I might have been a little intimidated by the intensity of the class as well, but we'll chalk it up to soreness. I have substituted intense cardio with quite a bit of swimming, and I eventually came to the realization that I have spent more time in a one-piece this summer than I have in a two-piece. I also got a little too excited over a $27 bathing suit purchase that was originally priced at $74. I never feel too bad about buying workout-related things, though, because it's not as if they aren't put to good use!

Anyway, I will move on to the more exciting aspects of my week at home - trying out new Pinterest recipes! Though I have yet to make any progress on the cooking front, I have created quite a few sweet-tooth satisfying concoctions.

First up, a little something for me to enjoy, as I don't often get to enjoy my creations due to the use of butter, milk, or chocolate, but this muffin recipe was one in which I could indulge. Using a recipe from Carrots 'n' Cake, I created a recipe that made me very excited for fall: Pumpkin-Walnut Muffins. Though it's not important to me, these muffins are also paleo and gluten-free!

They were easy to make and they taste wonderful - I eat a couple for breakfast and I snack on them throughout the day. It is about time for me to make another round of them! The only thing I will say is that almond meal is hard to come by, and when you do come by it, it is pretty darn expensive - I will be sure to use every last bit!

My family found the muffins a little weird, but they did enjoy my homemade Reese's peanut butter cups, recipe via Blue-Eyed Bakers.

These, too, were very easy to make - not even requiring me to put them in the oven. Now that's my kind of baking! I was assured that they truly tasted like a Reese's peanut butter cup, and to justify eating so many of them, they might just be a little bit healthier than the Hershey's brand!

The other night, my brother scarfed down about six cinnamon rolls after football practice, so after browsing my Pinterest boards and coming across a recipe for cinnamon roll cookie bars from Best-Friends for Frosting, I decided to give them, and the frosting, a go.

My house smelled like Cinnabon for hours, and my grandma especially sang their praises, eating four of them in one day (which for her, is quite the accomplishment).

I put the baking supplies away for the day and brought them out again this morning when I couldn't get a recipe for puppy chow cookies off my mind. For those of you who haven't tried puppy chow, please, grab some chocolate, peanut butter, Chex cereal, and powdered sugar and mix it all together to create my favorite Christmas-time (or anytime) recipe. I promise you won't regret it.
The recipe that inspired the cookie
 Needless to say, I am a huge puppy chow fan, so when I saw this recipe for puppy chow cookies, I knew I had to make them. They ended up being one of the harder (aka messier) recipes I have ever tried, but the end result was definitely a hit. I think I may have found myself a new Christmas-time recipe!

Because I wasn't sure how these puppy chow cookies were going to turn out, after putting the first batch in the oven and having quite a bit of peanut butter cookie dough left over, I threw in some Reese's peanut butter chips as well as some chocolate chips to end up with some shamefully easy, but extremely delectable, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Tomorrow's baking adventure will feature whatever dessert my little brother wants, as he is currently experiencing the joy of the Memorial City Emergency Room as he waits on the results of what we think might be a broken collar bone. He landed on it funny during football practice tonight, so say a little prayer for him to stay strong no matter what those results may say. Everything happens for a reason, no matter how hard it is to believe, and I know that something good will come of this. Love you, little bro!