Thursday, January 24, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Time!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Time!

Peanutbutterchocolate, peanutbutterchocolate, peanutbutterchocolate with a baseball bat!

Tell me you're not singing it with me.

Anyway, it's been kind of a crappy week here in the Henrich household. Even after our nice long weekend. 

Dan's car was in the shop last week, and when he brought it home the check engine light came on. So after an expensive trip to Pep Boys, a couple of stressful evenings, and one VERY long night spent under the car (by Dan, not me...I was not present). 

It's been a long week at school with lots of frustrating days. Students ignoring me, me getting annoyed at students, students being rude and disrespectful, me wishing I had chosen something simple like communications as my major... 

We've also started calculating taxes, dealing with stuff from church (fine stuff, just more busyness) and just general life crap. 

Anyway, it's been a rough week. 

So what does a gal like me do with a quiet night?

Bake cookies of course!

Check out these babies:

Nothing like some fudgy chocolate chip cookies with a peanut butter swirl. 

I, Dan, my sister and our buddy Chris really enjoyed these yummies. 

Find the recipe here!

Picky Palate is a great site for delicious "real" foods--the kind with ingredients that are already in your kitchen and easy for busy people like me to prepare and enjoy. 

Happy chocolate!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Cold Is It?

Disclaimer: I am a total wimp when it comes to cold weather. I know that it's actually not that frigid here, and I am thankful for an apartment with heat, plenty of clothes and hot food. 

But I hate cold weather. 

I hate cold, I hate wind, I hate my fingers going numb after 20 seconds outside. I hate feeling the cold wind whip through my clothes and making my ears feel nonexistent.

And since we're talking about colorful words and rich descriptions in my classroom, I'm here to give you a few details about cold-weather-Becster.

Cold is waking up and getting a drink of water that is icy cold after sitting on your nightstand for 8 hours.

Cold is putting your contacts in and marveling that they can feel that cold without actually freezing solid, or freezing your eyeballs (praise heavens for the low freezing temp of saline solution).

Cold is coming home after 10 hours at work to an apartment that is resting at 55 degrees, and the space heater in the kitchen to keep the dog from freezing to death is hardly making a dent.

Cold is swearing wildly at anything and everything, trying to scoop up said dog's poo in the dark while she prances manically around and the wind goes through your six layers like they're not even there. The weirdly bone-like rattling of the PA State Emissions Testing sign across the street only confirms your suspicions that this is hell. (Who says hell is all fire? Sounds great to me.)

Cold is finally getting back inside and frantically rubbing your limbs together to try and warm up, only to realize the toilet seat upon which you rest is actually made of ice.

Not wanting to shower or use said toilet because it requires the removal of clothes.

Realizing that ironing is, in fact, the greatest chore known to man, simply because it warms up your hands.

Cold is realizing that your feet are numb from the tile floor, in spite of the socks, slippers, and rug separating your actual phalanges from the tile.

Cold is begging your dog, your husband, the hot water, and that warm spot in between your own knees to finally warm up your hands after what feels like a lifetime of being cold and knowing that, even though spring is bound to come eventually, you will never ever feel suitably warm again and so you should just go to sleep and hope that you don't wake up because the apartment has reached ungodly temperatures without you being there to monitor the thermostat, because undoubtedly your husband will turn the heat off, since a low electric bill takes higher priority than a live wife.

Yep. I hate winter.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dinos + A Long Weekend

Since December, we've been working on dinosaurs at school. It's totally fun, we're reading lots of interesting books about it and studying extinction theories, jobs that go with prehistoric study, and all kinds of cool stuff.

Naturally, I'm doing a lot of research on my own so that I can adequately teach the material.

Also naturally, this is totally awesome.

For example, did you know that there are actual dinosaur mummies where the skin and scales fossilized along with the bones, so we can get a real understand of what their skin was like?

And did you know that if you buy the whole Pangaea theory (the idea that at one point in time the continents were all connected and over time they split apart, and water shifted to finally create the continents and bodies of water we know now) then there's this really interesting theory that dinosaurs carried diseases to one another? The idea concludes that, much like Native Americans were decimated by European diseases, dinosaurs were wiped out by varying germs. Fascinating, right?

Yeah. I'm a nerd. Is anyone still actually surprised by this information?

On another note, I had a lovely, long, three-day weekend this week. We had off for MLK Day today, and we slept late, took Lily to the pet store, and went to the Philly auto show. The only downside is a nagging case of sinus pressure. I'm not surprised--we have so many bugs going through school, viruses that are knocking out veteran teachers, that I was fully expecting to get sick at some point this spring.

That being said, these sinus colds are really getting old. I mean, I know I should be grateful to not have the flu or some such horrible illness where I'm puking my guts out every 45 minutes....but I'm not.

Go figure.

See, these sinus things wear me out and make me so miserable (I get the whole pressure+sneezing+watery eyes+headaches shebang) that it's utter torture to focus on anything, never mind running a class of 19 students (I know, I'm such a trooper, aren't I?). I would almost rather get something legit so I can call out of work and feel justified lying around like a mopey baby.

As it is, I just feel guilty. And sick.

But at least I'm not puking!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quiet in the Night

I've written before about how meditative and relaxing cooking can be for me.

Especially when it's a familiar recipe or comforting meal, I find the process of purposefully not rushing through meal prep particularly soothing.

It's the simplicity of mindless tasks,

The combination of the simplest ingredients,

And the knowledge that all of these easy ingredients will come together into a delicious, nourishing meal for myself and people I love.

There's this cute little spice shop in Chestnut Hill called Penzeys, and it sells very high quality, very expensive stuff. They have a great slogan, one that I totally identify with:

I have this sticker hanging in my kitchen, and my class gave me a Penzeys starter kit that included a tea towel with this slogan. I'm so pleased to have this cropping up in my life, because cooking can be a worship for me, and I'm always glad for the opportunity to serve others with cooking and hospitality.

So, if you ever want some love, give me a call and join me for some probably simple, unembellished, but tasty food and companionship.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas Snapshots

Better late than never!

MIL's lovely tree. 

Delightful cinnamon buns from TJ's pizza dough. Who'da thunk?

Christmas brunch with the Henrich+mine sister! Note the new Denby teapot, MIL's present. 

Just the in-law home. 

Mom & bro came to visit us! Bro is getting tall. And manly, don't let the punkish hoodie fool you!

My boy reading his present from my sister. Yes, a whole book about beer hops.


Enjoying: the last few days of our little Christmas tree. I always enjoy the festivity and cheer of a tree, and even though this may have been my least-spirited Christmas to date, I'm still loving the twinkly lights and nostalgic ornaments.

This is my mother-in-law's tree, not mine, but we have similar ideas as far as trees. Mine are usually fatter, though!

And yes, I'm a kitschy-and-cutesy-and-not-at-all-themed Christmas tree. Ombre tree in pink? Sure, it's trendy and shiny, but just so not me.

Trying: to find a better balance between work and life. I was totally freaking by the end of December, and I want to remember that I have other goals and priorities in my life. You know, like my husband, my family, and my well-being...

Reading: well, technically re-reading, but The Hobbit. And heavens to betsy, there are so.many.freaking.songs. Really, Tolkien, your prose is lovely enough without having to stick all these random poems in there!! I'm also hoping to get to Life of Pi sometime soon.

Listening: the Les Miserables movie has re-ignited my unbelievable obsession with that music. It's been playing nonstop in my car and in my head ever since Christmas day, when we saw it.

By the way, if you haven't seen it, the movie was pretty good and a more accessible medium. Seriously, even $12 is less than what you'll pay to see it live, and wonderful as it is, most people are more willing to shell out twelve smackers than about forty-five.

(And, I'll take Hugh Jackman's performance over Russell Crowe's any day. Jackman's voice wasn't outstanding, but his acting was great. I believed him; Russell Crowe just looked really uncomfortable the whole time.)

So not ready for: tomorrow to be Monday!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

As Usual

I'm a little late to the game.

I'm totally this kind of teacher, too, in case anyone is wondering. The kind who googles a craftivity at 7:45 AM and preps it to be completed by 9:30 the same morning.

Some things never change.

At any rate, I just celebrated my 25th birthday in addition to the New Year, so I feel compelled to write something about the New Year.

I'm keeping it pretty simple. A couple bests, a couple worsts, and those in-between but nonetheless important things.

3 Best Things in 2012

1. I graduated college!! After 5 1/2 years of effort, a changed major, a transfer from community college to Temple University, one semester from hell, I finally made it. Forgive my somewhat dispirited "woot," I wasn't much of a college gal and the piece of paper at the end of it all is really all I cared about. I didn't walk at either graduation ceremony and we never really celebrated, but I have my Bachelors of Science in Education, with dual certification in Elementary and Special Education. I even graduated Magna Cum Laude!

2. I was hired by the same school district in which I student taught. Upper Dublin has been good to me, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a long and successful career with them. Definite plus for the farthest school being about a 15 minute commute from our apartment.

3. This last one was kind of a struggle for me. If you put a gun to my head, I'm not really sure that I could pinpoint one last wonderful experience. I got to visit the West Coast and see the Grand Canyon...that was amazing...I'm in the midst of my first real teaching sister moved back to PA....(wait, that last one is a pretty strong contender for number 3).

At any rate, one of the things that has been a huge blessing to me over the course of 2012 is my wonderful husband. Watching Dan really grow up, become a deacon at our church, care for me and others, slowly (oh so slowly) acclimate to the idea of someday being a's been great. I feel closer to him than ever, and I'm so thankful for him.

3 Worst Things in 2012

(Unfortunately, this part was a little easier to write.)

1. I experienced so much loss this year. You can read about the biggest one here. In addition, my best friend lost a close cousin, my father lost his mother,  a little girl who was a student of my friend is dying of leukemia, another friend lost her job...yep, it was that kind of year. The scariest part is, the older I get, the more typical this will become.

2. My parents separated, then divorced. Very quickly. Then remarried. Very quickly. Both of them.

3. It's been a difficult year as far as balance. Especially with my teaching position, I've really struggled with finding a balance between home and work, between striving and relaxing. Relaxing has never been my forte, and Dan has actually been very good for me in that respect. But it's definitely been rough.

2 Most In-Between Things in 2012

1. My parents' remarriages have definitely been in-between things. Being so far away, it's been really weird to adjust to such big changes in my parents' lives. However, I know they are both happy in ways they haven't been in a long time.

2. My teaching job has actually been an in-between thing for me. Much as I love this field, it's been quite a ride. It's unyieldingly stressful, thankless and overwhelming. Believe it or not, I really miss special ed. However, it's certainly been a huge learning experience, and I love those moments when things just click and whatever we're doing works. We'll see where this takes me next.

So that's 2012 for you. I don't think I could honestly say it was an awesome year, but it was definitely a year of growth. I'm much older than I was this time last year.

Bring on 2013!!