Friday, April 29, 2016

Pony Up!

I’ve been keeping a secret.

Once you’re a newlywed every time you say something like that people automatically think you’re growing a human inside you. There is no human… or aliens.. inside of me.

However, I think it is just as big of a secret. It’s life changing for me.

On Tuesday, at 2 pm, I took a leap out of my comfort zone and interviewed for a position at my district’s STEM Academy. They called at 4:15 pm and offered me the job.

So, after 6 years in my little home away from home, room 703 is no longer going to be my home. I accepted the position.

So, the basic questions:

What is the STEM Academy?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. My lessons will be based off the “engineering design process” and integrated with other content areas. The students have to apply and be accepted into the Academy.

Do you have to move schools?
Yes! The STEM Academy is a school within a school, but the students are with the rest of the school for electives, fine arts, and athletics. The Academy is housed within a different middle school within my district. However, this school is closer to home and I do not even have to get on the highway!

What will you be teaching?
I will be teaching four Algebra classes and 2 6th grade accelerated classes (7th grade material). I am super excited about the algebra classes. I have always wanted to teach algebra for this reason alone… people say “since it’s a high school course, you cannot do the fun things you do in 8th grade”…. And I am about to prove all of those people wrong.

Will you still be coaching?
No. I will be giving up my coaching position. How do I feel about this? Coaching has never been my “end game,” if it were, I would not be giving it up. I have loved coaching and made lasting relationships, but I want to end up in C&I… not coaching. It also means my school day will end at 3:45 every. Single. Day. I could technically pick up my baby niece every day from daycare. I could be home before 5. I could work out, go to the grocery store, and still be home before 5…ish.

Is it a pay increase?
This question is funny to me.. because I am teacher. I work in education. “I got into education because of the money” – said no one ever. But, I get it.. and I don’t mind answering it either. Technically no, it is not a pay increase because I will be losing my coaching stipend. But it is a step in the right direction of where I want my career to go, and that I am extremely grateful for.

What are you most excited about?
The coolest opportunity this Academy gives me is TWO planning periods. Teachers who just read this need to pick up their jaws. How awesome is that? One planning period is for me and the other is to plan integrated lessons with the other content teachers. It’s like they’re backing up what they’re preaching, and I cannot wait to get started.

I have loved my Bronco family… but now, it’s time to Pony up! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What to Eat Wednesday: Kielbasa Hash

So, this original recipe comes from an article titled "Dinners that won't break the bank"... aka they are cheap. This is always fantastic... especially when the first time you make it, you text your gluten-free sisters and say, "You HAVE to make this!!!!" Because that is exactly what happened when I made this hash. It's also really pretty, like really... and I did not take one single picture. How selfish, of me.. I know. 

Here is where I found the original recipe. I, of course, changed it a little. I say choose whichever bell peppers your family is fond of! ... or pick green and yellow because it will look like Baylor colors.. that mayyyy have been what I did. 

Also, there's my family's secret ingredient to recipes. I tossed my potatoes in Tex Joy seasoning. It is just a really good seasoning that tastes excellent on errrry'thing! If you don't have Tex Joy, you can always season your potatoes with salt and pepper, or experiment with different flavors. I found it just added a little extra ummph to the meal. I served the hash as our entire meal, no sides or anything, but you could always change that as well. 

Overall, it was nice and easy, and my husband got to use the wok which is his favorite. thing. ever. "Mollie, watch my skills. I can do it without spilling anything." It's a hash.. add or subtract what you want! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New York 2016

Of course, I had to put 2016 in the title because this was my 5th trip to the city!!!! And, of course, I feel all bougie in the right kind of way saying it!!! I love New York City and I love to visit and then I love to come home to my house and sleep in my bed! 

It was a weekend trip that was full of fun! Here was our itinerary for Saturday:
Selfie in the cab.

Meet at Chelsea Market. This might be my new favorite, all time coolest thing I have done. I could have spent all day there. There's shops and restaurants and amazing art. I would 1000% recommend this to anyone! We ate at "the doughnuttery" and I told everyone how we make donuts out of biscuits back home... maybe that needs to be a recipe one time. I did not eat at "the oyster bar", or "the lobster place" or the "japanese inspired mexican" and I want to go back and do all of it. I kid you not there was a guy just diggin' into a lobster at 11 am. I seriously thought I was in a Harry Potter, which only made me love it so much more. You cannot ever write the numbers 9 and 10 like this and not expect me to be looking for a platform 9 3/4. 

Then, we walked straight out of the market and went up these stairs to the High Line. This is a newer feature of the city that renovated an elevated railroad into a park. Think Klyde Warren, but long and skinny. There are some fantastic views along the way, and even more interesting "art" performers. Ask Duck Dude about the hub cap performers... they were his, uh.... favorite?

From there, we went to brunch... which was at 1 pm... which Duck Dude and I let everyone know, that's lunch, or dunch... in between dinner and lunch. But we had the donuts so that was an excellent tide me over. Anyway it was called The Crooked Knife, and it was divine. This was a pre-planned brunch before we knew we would be there. It was a friend of a friend's birthday and they were gracious enough to let us join the party of 25! We made some fantastic new friends, only broke two glasses, and I ate all of the "green goddess" omelet. 

Next on the list was a "bier garten".. Apparently there are several of those located around the city so this one is known as the Standard bier garten because it is at the bottom of the Standard hotel. It was a gorgeous day and only 4,378 other people had the same idea as us. However, that did not stop Duck Dude and Duke from eventually making it on the ping pong table. Cheers to y'all. 

We checked that off our list and headed to a little quieter place. It was called The Park and we sat on this enclosed patio and took silly selfies.

A pizza place for dinner and pizza the next morning for, um, breakfast? We hit up the M&M store where my husband was happier than Koal girl with a tennis ball. He made a beautiful bag of M&Ms that might be on display for a while since we bought over 2 pounds. :) We came back to Texas fat and happy!!

The trip was fast, but it was glorious. We were so happy to see our Koal girl when we arrived home. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What to Eat: Upside Down Pizza Casserole

This recipe I was leery of, because you cannot really replace pizza. It's not possible and if I try, I typically end up craving it more so than before. But this recipe was spot on, and it's quick and easy. I actually made this on a Monday night... which is usually Bachelor nights at our house. Which means at least one person is coming over... if not 5. I believe bridesmaid Kristen came over this night, and she ended up eating some too! 

For me, this recipe is about the biscuits. I do not cook with a lot of bread.. so to have the guilty pleasure of biscuits on top?! I could squeal with excitement!!! I took this from my favorite magazine I have ever purchased... Ultimate Casseroles.. we have a joke in my family because one time my mentioned just how "economical" they were. We all died laughing because while they may be economical, they are also just really, really good. It tastes like home and this one is no different. 

Anyway, I adapted this recipe to fit the needs of Duck Dude and I... feel free to do the same. I, of course, took out the olives (the one thing Duck Dude does not like), and I added mushrooms and chopped spinach, because duh. I also added a can of diced tomatoes... this was on a whim, but I figured with a pound and a half of meat, I would want more than just one can of sauce. It was in no way too saucy, and I wrote..... in my magazine... to add a can of diced tomatoes.. just in case I ever forgot. 

It ended up being super easy and I was able to fully concentrate on the Bachelor that night, which obviously is the most important thing. 

I'm sure I could do another one with chicken and pineapple and Travis would love it so much he would want to marry it. Add your favorite pizza toppings and have fun with it! I will definitely be making this again!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to Ride a Bike

Recently, Duck Dude has taken up biking. Being the supportive wife I am, I have joined him..... three times within the last 4 months. I have learned a lot through my 3 bike rides.... and I am here today to tell you how to ride a bike. In just three simple steps, you too, can be a "bike rider." 

Step 1. Wear as many baggy clothes as possible. 
Most bikers would say something about "wind resistance" and you're just making it harder on yourself, but I say I am just working out harder. I also say my spandex days are retired... but that's beside the point. Baggy clothes = comfortable.

Step 2. When Duck Dude has the car and is at sister Laura pocket's house, load up your wine bottle and ride over. 
Fun fact: did you know a wine bottle will fit directly into the water bottle spot? Because it does. Another fun fact: this didn't actually happen... I had my helmet on and was shutting the garage when Duck Dude called and said, "ok, I'll come get you." Then I think he said something along the lines of "I didn't know you knew how to get the bike down." Desperate times call for desperate measures. I just want everyone to know I was gonna do it. 

Step 3. Food always works as bribery. 
One day Duck Dude asked if I wanted to ride to our favorite little breakfast spot. I said of course! Then cheesy grits and a carafe of mimosa later, I had to get back on the bike and ride back to the house. That was my most dangerous ride, of course! :) 

Ok, ok. I would not ever consider myself a real biker...... ever. However, Duck Dude has totally picked up the sport and he's pretty good at it! I'm talking 30-40 mile bike rides! And this past weekend he competed in his first triathlon, ever..... in the pouring rain.... and it was COLD!!! And I was thoroughly impressed. So he is not only a biker, but also a triathlon-er. Cool, huh? He completed the entire thing in one hour and 7 minutes!!! 

Somehow his family and I ended up in the perfect spot to cheer him on and we got to see him bike past us 4 times and run past us once!! Annnnd he rocked the spandex!!! 

Touche, babe. You can be the real biker in this family. I am proud of you biker, spandex man!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Flu Diaries

Want to see a grown woman reduced to nothing, incapacitated to the extreme? Get the flu. 

On Tuesday of last week I woke up after a long night of not sleeping. My chest was tight and I used my inhaler first off in the morning. (First sign I'm not feeling well.... I use my inhaler.. Duck Dude normally has to bribe me.. it makes me shaky.. so I try not to use it) I headed off to school because I had an important meeting at 9 am. By noon, my head was pounding and my sinus' were running marathons. I still thought, cool. allergies. I chalked it all up to not sleeping well and scratched dinner plans with my mom to go home and go to bed. 

Cue 3 am. I wake up, quite literally, in a pool of my own sweat. I have never felt anything like it... I wiped my arm and flung the sweat off of me. I got up to go get some ice water and by the time I was coming back up the stairs, my teeth were chattering because I was so cold. I put sweatpants on and climbed back under the covers. 4 am. Same thing, I fling the covers back because I am so sweaty I think I must have turned the heat on in the house. This is when I knew something was wrong. I put in for a sub and repeated this process until 6 am. 

I'm not sure who I texted first.. Duck Dude or my mom... but my text was something of "I think I'm dying." My back felt like I had lifted 300 pounds and hurt so badly I couldn't roll over without wincing. My head continued to pound and my chest was still tight. I texted my sister in law around noon and finally said out loud, "I think I have the flu." 

One nose swab later and it was confirmed. The flu. 

Thus began my days of laying in bed, coughing, and feeling miserable. My professional caretaker, Koal, was always by my side while my humans were working. When Duck Dude was out of town, my mom was with me. And with no one was with me, chances are I was just fine with that because I didn't want to be social anyway. 

I finally ate real food on Saturday and I finally made it out of bed on Sunday. So, I am slowly but surely making it out of my flu hole. I hope to never have a "flu diaries" ever again. 

And next year, I think I will get my flu shot. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What to Eat Wednesday: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I've decided to begin a new Wednesday series. What to Eat Wednesdays. Why? Because it's hump day, essentially. Wednesday is typically a day that Duck Dude and I are home.. so it's always a night that I end up cooking! And that's the basic reason! 

Today, we are talking about peppers! For a long time, I thought bell peppers "weren't my favorite".. aka I didn't like them. However, I realized I just was not using them correctly. They are still not my favorite raw, but cooked! I love them! Now, there are a million recipes out there for stuffed peppers.. you can do Mexican, Italian... you can stuff them with whatever you want. Mexican peppers are typically our go to since we usually do a Mexican style meal at least once a week. But, I wanted to switch things up last time and I made these that ended up being so, so, so good!!

First up, choose whichever bell peppers you want, or whichever are cheapest! My personal favorite is probably orange.. but I cannot tell you why. Sometimes I like to do green and yellow because Baylor. You can also choose your quinoa. The pre-seasoned box makes for a quick start.. That's what I used for this recipe. This is the brand that's in our store and they have several flavors. They have a lemon flavor and a roasted red pepper and basil flavor that you could definitely use as well. Typically when we've made these we have used ground turkey, however this time, I used sausage. It added a great flavor to the peppers!

I always use red onion, but I added celery and a lot of spinach! Throw everything into one pan... stuff peppers and bake! It's so simple. I also think they make amazing leftovers. Duck Dude was out of town this week, and I ate them three days in a row for lunch, and was not even tired of them. Since the quinoa was already seasoned, I didn't add too much additional. A little pepper, a little garlic powder, and that was it! 

What's your favorite kind of stuffed pepper? I've wanted to try a type of lasagna stuffed pepper. That might be my next attempt! Have fun with this one!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Napa: Day 2

Day 2! We woke up feeling great and with Duck Dude craving breakfast tacos. However, we were in California and those are not quite as popular there... so we ended up at Starbucks. After Duck Dude got two cold in the middle breakfast wraps... he asked for a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast. When in Napa... right? 

First up, our favorite winery, tour, and tasting of the trip! Hendry Winery. This tour was with 8 people and George Hendry, himself, was our tour guide. I was obsessed with him and his flannel shirt and his rotted out teeth. You could tell he was a knowledgeable man. Duck Dude enjoyed the tour because he spoke more of the business side of wine making. This is where we found out 1 acre of land in Napa would cost you $300,000. We also found out if you start a winery, it will take you around 7 years to produce your first bottle. He told us why he planted grapes where, why 30% of his land is zinfandel grapes, because you can usually count on zinfandel to pick up the slack if other grapes have a bad year. He talked about the price it cost them per bottle and why they sell it at the price point they do. And when he talked he liked to point his finger that was crooked at the end just a little bit. We loved it! 

Then we got to the tasting! This was the only place we went where we had two glasses placed in front of us. Mr. Hendry, or George... requested zero cameras during the time because he wanted us to listen and learn. He poured a white wine fermented in a stainless steel tank and a white wine fermented in an oak barrel side by side. He told us to lift our left glass and take a sip... then he told us to life our right glass and take a sip. He explained why a stainless steel white can be sealed with a screw top and an oak barrel white needs to be sealed with a cork. 

He poured a Primitivo in one glass and a Zinfandel in another and asked us to taste different things. We dipped crackers in olive oil to cleanse our pallet and get rid of the tannins before we took a sip from the right glass. We learned what to pair each wine with and why. We learned why not everyone likes cabs as much as we do, and they probably do not drink their coffee black. Mr. Hendry was one cool dude. He lives in the farmhouse on the winery... and I am thinking of asking if he needs a roommate. 

We went back to the hotel and ate Duck Dude's leftover short ribs... that were still reallllllllly good. Then we got an Uber and headed to our next tour. 
We arrived at Darioush and I think I gasped. It was so different than all the other winerys we had been to. It obviously has a Persian flair and I was so excited to see the inside. 

We had a lovely tour guide, Jameson, who loved this winery and it showed through. Looking at that picture above, the winery is in the middle and to the left, and Mr. Darioush's living quarters is to the right. We got to go into his personal wine cellar....... and I neeeed one like his!! It was incredible! He loves "magnum" bottles... aka the really big bottles. We would be friends... I know it! Then we did the tasting in this beautiful room with this beautiful cheese plate. You paired the cheese in counter clockwise order and we made friends with some cool people across the table! 

That evening we went to a restaurant in downtown Napa. Downtown Napa is a really cool place, that we didn't explore until that evening. I think it would be fun to go back there when we go back again! We got to sit on Celadon's enclosed patio and they brought us champagne for our one year anniversary! We had some of the best calamari I've ever had in my life!! Then I had scallops for my meal and Duck Dude had...... duck! 

Behind our honeymoon, this was the best trip ever with my husband.