Hey Teacher (Wo)Man

The “Big Reveal” of Plan B (and I made pasta salad)

She lives, she breathes, she even blogs?

Hi all, ThatJessGal here and I’m finally ready (deep breath) to “reveal” the Plan B I warbled about back in JUNE. (um, yeah that was 4 friggin months ago! What happened?!?) I had this great plan for the reveal that involved videos of my classroom and apartment in which you would oh so cleverly realize that while I tend to post a video of my sweet classroom at the start of the school year it would be clear this year’s classroom is quite different from my science teacher home of the last 3 years.

Right, great plan. And like many of my great plans it totally didn’t happen.  Because while I am indeed in a new classroom this year, it’s not just down the hall; nope, I’ve moved this one woman teaching show a bit south to my beloved Orlando. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for several years now and I even happened to snag a position teaching biology at the high school of my dreams!  Have you ever had the moment when a goal of yours comes fruition and you suddenly get everything you’ve been wanting at once? Ok, yeah, it was a first for me too!  It’s amazing but quite overwhelming for a Type A, concrete-sequential gal like myself. (guess that mean that one of my plans totally did happen? wow!)

Needless to say packing up and moving to a new school, a new apartment and a new*  town has been a bit time consuming. Not to mention my new school year has me hopping with 3 very advanced biology preps (6 classes total, fyi), two of which I have never taught before! Good thing this gal loves a challenge.

*While I’ve spend most of my free weekends the last 4 years in Orlando it’s still “new” since this is the first time I’ve lived here for longer than a month stretch at a time!

Speaking of challenges, now that the first quarter of the school year has officially come to close I think I may have enough of a grip on my schedule to start the challenge of blogging again.  Trust me, I’ve missed it and I have TONS of foodie adventures to share with you, my darlings. My “plan” (ekk, did I just use that icky word again?) is to set aside enough time each week to get one punky little post up for your reading pleasure. Feel free to cross your fingers, for this Irish Lass can use a little extra luck on her side!

Now to start us all off on the right foot I present to you the newest take on my pasta salad which was inspired by a trial subscription to a at home organic produce delivery system which I PROMISE to talk more about soon! For the time being, enjoy!

Yes, I did take this as a screen shot of fbook. The recipe is in my comment on the sidebar. Clicky to enlarge…it’s totally worth it! Baby steps people, baby steps.

Love to all,
~ the happy to be back blogging gal, Jess

Categories: Goal Goddess, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Rad n' Random | Tags: | Leave a comment

Surprised at Twenty-Six

So, my beloved friends of the interwebs, I wasn’t going to tell you that today is my birthday.  I wasn’t going to tell anyone at work that today was my birthday. Of course Facebook tells people that today is my birthday and my best friends and family knew what April 23rd meant, but that really can’t be helped.

Frankly, I had no plans to legitimately celebrate the 26th anniversary of the day of my birth. I’ll admit it, I’ve been a a funk. I’ve been pulling the loner card. The homebody card. The “no, while usually I do love a good fuss over my birthday I just don’t have the energy for it this 26th year” card.

And then this happened.

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Yes. A group of 17 year old girls threw this “old woman” her very first surprise party. It was truly a surprise. I cried, I laughed, I squealed. I cried and squealed a bit more for good measure.

I have never felt so loved or respected(or honored) in my life. It was just the pick me up I needed for the rest of the school year. You know, until I bawl at graduation as those 5 beautiful girls walk across the stage and exit my classroom as students for the last time.

Love to all,
~the humbled, loved and yes, very surprised birthday gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Holiday Weekend Gone to Heck in an Easter Basket!

Here is my wardrobe for the weekend:

Sparkles & Dots

Now before you start wondering if I go to an oddly formal/cocktail attire only church for Easter Vigil (I mean, Mass does start at 9pm, why not?) the orange polka-dot dress is my Easter frock of choice this year.

Oh no, I’m spending my Good Friday Evening chaperoning the 2012 Jr/Sr Prom. Heaven Help ME. (I’m actually really excited about this to be honest. I LOVE this group of seniors and can’t wait to embarrass them all night with my nerdy science dancing.)

Actually, I’ve had a wonderful Good Friday thus far. I’m so lucky that my school district honors Good Friday as a holiday, which saves me from taking it as a personal day. It is my family tradition to go to Stations of the Cross at noon (I’m Catholic, if you didn’t know that already) and then a light wine and cheese meal at The Wine & Cheese Gallery (wow, how appropriate- wine & cheese at a place with “wine & cheese” in their name.) This year’s Stations of the Cross was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had, in or out of the church setting. So, it’s only fitting that I’m going to meditate on those thoughts for a bit longer and write up a whole post on that later.

Easter Dinner Menu

For those of you who have been “hanging around” with this Gal for a while (either in real life or weblife) you know that Easter Dinner is always a battle in my house. Last year we had to pull the chicken enchilada compromise out to make it dinner without attacking each other with the silver flatware.

Things this year have come together a bit more smoothly. Mostly because I didn’t even try to suggest lamb. Secondly because Mum and I wrote the menu on our 12 hour drive home from VA during spring break. I actually suggested a stuffed flounder, kind of Florentine style with crab meat, Parmesan and spinach. Sadly, flounder isn’t readily available in the ‘ville and since I’m really trying to focus on local, seasonal goods shipping it in wasn’t an opinion I wanted to go with. Mom & Dad had a pork loin in the freezer just waiting to be cut into chops, (please don’t make me think about where that piggy came from…might be worse than ordering the fish!) so here is what we came up with:

Mixed Green Salad (or Fruit Salad-my grandmother is contributing this part of the meal, so she decides)

Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Stuffed Pork Chops, inspired by this Culinary Disaster recipe
Kale Mashed Potatoes, aka Colcannon, inspired by this Parsley Thief recipe
Fresh Green Bean Casserole, based on the classic French’s French Fried Onions recipe

Guinness Cheesecake for dessert, using this recipe from Closet Cooking

I can’t wait to get cooking and tasting! For now it’s time to go “beautify” myself for prom. Ack.

“See you” on the flipside of this beautiful holiday weekend.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Love to all,
~the dancing little Easter Bunny gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Sinfully Sweet, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The Gal is STILL Out!

I might be the new “Jess Gal on the Block” (if you didn’t read that last statement to the tune of Jenny from the Block, please go back and do it again. No worries. I’ll wait. Ok, thanks…wasn’t that fun?)  here on my shiny new website but I’m still not quite ready to dive back into full time blogging.

Yes, I know. I was on Spring Break last week and out of internet range.

I’m on Hunger Break this week. No, not a hunger strike. (as if this gal could give up food for even a day. ha.) A Hunger Games break.

Yes. I know. Not a good choice. Now don’t misunderstand me. I adore the books. In fact I’m obsessed by the books. Therein lies the problem: I can’t seem to do anything this week but read. I even took my Kindle to work today and finished the end of The Hunger Games during my planning period. (PS. I’ve NEVER done that before in my teaching career. PPS. I really kind of liked it. PPPS. Amber C. if you are reading this, I never said that!)

And now, my Hunger Games hunger is gnawing at me to get back into the reading game.

Love to all,
~the, I can’t blog when my brain is on the Games gal, Jess

Categories: Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Recent Reads | Leave a comment

This Post is Brought to You by the Letter S

Because S stands for:

Spectator Signs and Science Show and Tell, duh.

It’s been a busy week over here in Gal Land, and I’ve been dying to share my thoughts on my first time spectating a race, but first I had to make brains.

Yes. I said, make brains. Behold:

 Just a little mixy-mixy- with some boiling water,  a trip overnight in the fridge in an oiled mold and voila! I give thee brains! Muahahahah.
The heart one didn’t firm up. Turns out the recipe on the mold calls for more water than the recipe on the jello box. Lesson learned. I got both the brain and heart molds from PerpetualKid.com which is one of my favorite  “stores!” It is jam packed with all kinds of quirky items which make great gifts and as a teacher, fun pranks for my kids!
I wish I had a picture of my biology student’s faces when I took a bite of “the brain” after telling them all about Kuru! (a nervous system disorder like Mad Cow Syndrome that has been observed in Papua New Guinea after ritual brain consumption) I had convinced the class that the brain was real; that I had gotten it on loan from UF so it was pretty priceless. Ahhh, Science Show and Tell.
Now, about that race spectating. 
See, in the races I’ve done so far I’ve had some amazing spectators:
But I’d never actually been a spectator myself. However, last Saturday both Anni (who came to my first tri and took up running afterwards, she was so inspired by all the competitors) and my bestie Christine with her boyfriend Ross, were running the 5 Points of Life 5K, which is a part of the 5 Points of Life Marathon Weekend, one of the biggest racing weekends in Gville. Needless to say, I was pumped to test out my spectator skillz
And we all know that a good spectator comes with fun signs. So, fun signs we made! (we being my Mum and I…Anni is her best friend. No worries, friends. I don’t just talk in third person like a crazy royal!)

 Mom, showing off our handiwork.

We finally found our racers and all three of them were super pumped to get this party race started! (and no we didn’t have to stand around in the chilly pre 8am air for an extra 35mins before finding them because I super over estimated how long it would take to find parking. I don’t know what you could possibly be referring to.)

I really enjoyed this experience because I got to see some of the “behind the scenes” of the race.

Like the start, with the bike leader:

And how fast the starters are:
I missed getting a good shot of Christine and Ross at the start…they were really flying and I wasn’t prepared, but I love this one of Anni. She was so happy!

 This course was essentially a loop through UF’s campus and the finish line was a mere 1000 meters from the start, so I got off really easy in my first spectating job. Operation stay-in-the-same-spot commence!

A mere 17 minutes later the winner came flying by.

And then at ~29 minutes into the race a familiar couple came into sight.

 Christine really powered through the finish line and accomplished her goal of finishing under 30 minutes with a time of 29:56! I’m so proud and totally inspired to pick up my own running game!

Just over 10 minutes later Anni came into sight, making that nasty little hill up to the finish look like cake!

Anni, celebrating her super awesome finish! What an amazing first 5k!
Christine, myself and Ross. Hungry for that breakfast! 
 Mission accomplished! Thanks 43rd Street Deli!
My first spectator experience earns a score of “super!” Just another letter S to add to the day!
Love to all,
~the science-y spectator gal, Jess
PS. Speaking of signs, check out what my Mom snuck down to hang up in my apartment, since she couldn’t make it down for my first 1/2 marathon in person. So sweet!

Categories: Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Rad n' Random | 1 Comment

Keeping It Real

So, I call myself a “food blogger.” Or at least I do when I’m trying to rationalize why I take seemingly random pictures of meals and have started trying to convince my friends and family to go on lunch dates, since the light is so much better in the afternoons.

But let’s be honest. I’m not really a very good food snob, and sometimes it seems that you have to consume/design/critique elevated eats to be a “food blogger.” That leaves the other option to explain my inclination for food photography; the equally dreaded/famed label of “healthy living blogger.”  I mean, who else obsessively documents their “fuel intake” via photograph?

Well, while I do write about vegetables, (because I genuinely like them) and occasionally compete in races (but that is really for the metals and post race beers) I would not consider myself a role model for a healthy lifestyle. Oh and it’s very rare that I share my “daily” eats on the blog. (because let’s be honest, I don’t have that kind of time, and most of the time I eat leftovers all week of the recipes I do post)

As additional supporting evidence to my non-case, let’s talk about this week. I didn’t workout once. I had take out for dinner twice and bought subs for lunch. I’ve consumed half a bag of Reese’s Trees all on my own. (and plan to take down the second half very soon) Oh and I slept for ~ fours hours a night. Well, six on Thursday, if you count the fact that I fell asleep on my couch with a study guide on my face for two hours.

So, in the theme of keeping it real (and analysis of what “type” of blogger I am) on Saturday I indulged again, with Loaded Veggie Hashbrowns from the 43rd Street Deli. With a side of chiclit and Swiss Chocolate flavored coffee.

Normally this meal wouldn’t make it onto the blog. It’s nothing too special, or pretty for that matter. But it’s tasty. And I’m trying to keep it real here. And normally I’m not in Gville on a Saturday morning at 9:30am, hungry and all by my lonesome after passing another round of teaching certification exams. (I’m finishing the requirements for my professional license, since I was not an education major. Oh the joys of career changes.)

Also in the spirit of keeping it real, here is what my breakfast actually looked like, before I shoved it down my gullet. (because what “food blogger” says “shoved it down my gullet”? Classy, I am.)

Yes, that mess is pre-masticated, I swear. And yes, my observant dear ones, it is drenched in not only ketchup and hot sauce, but also syrup. I know it looks like the aftermath of a frat party, but trust me, hashbrowns of any variety covered with this condiment trinity are truly a gift from the food gods. (and yes, I did once have a fellow university classmate tell me that my breakfast wanted to make her vomit, after I pulled a similar trick in the dining hall one morning)

So, what was the purpose of this post? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn have a clue. But a lot of my actions in life feel a bit like this post. Unguided, quirky and down right delicious, even if a bit messy and not always picture perfect.

And while I still don’t know what “type” of blogger I am, I do know how to keep it real.

Love to all,
~the “I’m really real” gal, Jess

Categories: Break Yo Fast, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man | Leave a comment

Frighteningly Good Harvest Brownies


If you need some back up for all that bagged candy, waiting longingly for the trick-or-treaters to arrive tomorrow evening brownies are always a good choice.

But brownies sneakily laced with pumpkin? Now that is a trick that is actually a delicious treat!

And if pumpkin brownies couldn’t get any better, these are totally fool proof and nearly prep free.
You will need:
      1 box of your favorite brownie mix
      1 egg
      ~16oz of pumpkin puree 
And then:
      Mixie-mixie it all together and bake according to the instructions on the brownie box. 
      Cut and top with whipped cream

Happy Halloween!

Love to all,
~the little pumpkin goblin gal, Jess

PS. This is the first time in years that I haven’t had a full blown, costumed to the nine’s Halloween. But no worries, I got plenty of costume time in during homecoming week. Enjoy a few shots with my students.

Wacky Tacky Tourist Day
(I’m on the far left of the frame)

Airport Security/Neon Day
(I was the only one who really went with the “security” bit, but I loved my costume as an air traffic controller!)
Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Sinfully Sweet | Leave a comment

Terrific Teacher Tuesday

Welcome to my world.

I’m not really a big fan of report card time.

Love to all,
~the “well, I would give your student an A if they earned an A” gal, Jess

Categories: Hey Teacher (Wo)Man | Leave a comment

Eatin’ Like Teacher

So, we already know that teachers don’t get paid squat-diddly (especially those of us who teach in Florida). But it gets even better. Not only do we not get paid enough (and yes, that 3% cut off the top to my supposed pension plan did hurt more than I expected) none of our extra-curricular programing has any funding or support from the district (well, the athletics programs do, but even that doesn’t make ends meet).

So that means that every team, club, music program and of course SGA are constantly fundraising (and as a club sponsor I can assure you this gets dirty….don’t even think about selling candy or baked potatoes bitches…I will cut you…err that is what my club actually makes money off so please don’t step on my toes). And guess who the kiddies hit up first to buy their token chicken dinner, bbq plate or chili cook off ticket? You got it! Us broke ass teachers.

So this week the band was selling a bbq brisket plate, and I really hesitated getting it. I mean, I only eat so much meat, and dry smoked meat just isn’t my thing.

Thank God this box of wonders was neither dry nor overly smokey. Let’s go on a tour.

Juicy brisket with tangy bbq sauce and bright mixed peppers to top the sandwich, which was encased in the softest roll. SO GOOD. I actually devoured this like an enthusiastic 2 year old with birthday cake. No really, I was super messy and didn’t care that I got sauce on my favorite pencil skirt.

On the side were potatoes, two ways. On the bottom was a sweet potato cake of some sort. It was very dense and moist, unfortunately I’m just not a “sweet potato dressed with more sweet stuff” gal. I like my sweet taters savory. But if you love sweet potato casserole you would enjoy this side dish.  The upper potato puff was a pipped and baked outside the shell “twice baked” potato. I think this would be amazing hot…and possibly with bacon? Yes, bacon FTW!

The icing on the cake in this boxed lunch was well….. the cake! You probably won’t believe this, but I’d never had a whoopie pie before. Um, can I have one of these for lunch for the rest of my life? Okthanksbai! No really, the cake was soft and giving, with the perfect amount of crumbs. And the whipped cream, oh the whipped cream…somehow there were little pockets of sugar crystals that crunched for a millisecond and then melted. Heaven.

All dished up by the Side Dish Catering Company. Aaron Wiley is actually our tech guy at school. Amazing with computers and amazing with grilled meats? Cindy is a lucky lady! (and she is in culinary school-double lucky!)

And I am “lucky” that I guilted myself (and my empty pocketbook) into supporting our music department and my foodie soul.

Now, does anyone have a good whoopie pie recipe? Please?

Love to all,
~the broke foodie teacher gal, Jess

PS. In the ongoing classroom saga, check out this sweet little gecko I caught hiding in a box of new textbooks. I almost kept him as a class pet, but he was a wee babe and I was afraid he would die. So cute though! And yes, that is my watch band he’s lying under. I think he liked me!

Categories: Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Midday Munchies | Leave a comment

Twas the Night Before….

….Christmas the start of a new school year and all through the halls, no creature was stirring, except for the cockroaches.

Ok, ok, enough silliness. I have had an amazing summer: a great UF workshop (only 6 credits away from my Graduate Certificate in Biotechnology!), and an amazing European adventure with my bestie and two back to back EPIC celebration weekends.

All of the above is why I’m staring the school year already running on a shortage of sleep and leaden feet. Thankfully my classroom is looking fabulous thanks to the hard work of my five Beta girls (aka my officer panel) last week and I just wanted to brag with a quick video tour! Enjoy.

Just to put the video in perspective, here is what my classroom looked like when I “inherited” it 3 years ago.

Love to all,
~the “ready to put another year of teaching under my belt” gal, Jess

Categories: Hey Teacher (Wo)Man | 1 Comment

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