Rad n’ Random

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

Summer B or Plan B

Living in a college town I’m always acutely aware of the semester schedules. It determines which road to travel on (don’t bother taking Univ Ave downtown during rush week), which bars to frequent (forget any place that offers “free cover for ladies until midnight”…it’s bound to be crawling with wasted undergrads) and which restaurants are worth the wait (no where during graduation when everyone has their family in town to celebrate).

And as a teacher who interns at the university biotechnology labs during most of Summer A for some spare pocket money (aka everything I live on during the July and August-most people don’t realize that teaching is a 10 month job….I am unpaid during the summer even though I’m on “vacation”) and to stay current on my science, it’s Summer B I look forward to travel or relax. Some of you may recall that last summer B I took “time off from blogging” while I was touring about Europe. This summer B I had planned to up my bike training, work on my swimming technique, be a stay at home yogi and just relax. Which of course meant plenty of time for blogging.

Well, life is funny…mine especially, because it seems the powers that be like to take my best laid plans and dump them upside down. Now this particular “dump job” happens to be wonderful one. A few of my goals, both professional and personal, will both be coming to fruition this summer (aka over a year earlier than planned). Which is fantastic news, no doubt…it just means that my Summer B will go from one of being relaxation and pure bliss, to making some major life changes.  Which also means I won’t have consistent time to be bonding with my blog and all you lovely friends of the interwebs. I’ll still be around a little bit and making some random posts when I can and I’m also considering reposing some of my favorites, for your summer reading pleasure!

If you feel like I’m being vague, it’s because I am! I can’t spoil the “surprise” that is Plan B until all the details are ironed out!

So, this is ta-ta for now….sorta. Enjoy your summer, lovelies!

Love to all,
~the gal in transition….aka embracing Plan B, Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Lameo Excuses and Broccoli Bowtie Pasta

I’ve been a touch absent on the ol’ blog-ski as of late.

I could give you all the excuses:

I spend over 30 hours with these children last weekend between the school day Friday and Relay for Life (which is an 18 hour overnight fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.)

I followed up the Relay festivities on Mother’s Day by cooking paella for the first time for my lovely Mummy. (More to come on that soon….ish.)

I’ve been writing my silly little heart out over on the Llamadorks Tumblr, mostly about my newest obsession: Carly Rae Jepsen.

But in lieu of all these lame excuses let me offer you some salad.

A tasty, refreshing and down right irresistible pasta salad that will no doubt be my go-to for the summer.  It’s tangy, sweet, salty and I’ve been (literally) eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I can’t actually take credit for the recipe though. It’s a Southern Living creation I found floating around MyRecipes.com

I did make some (very delicious) tweaks to it though, which I’m sharing here in italics.

Broccoli Bowtie Pasta Salad with Grapes and Bacon
Adapted from Southern Living

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta (I used a full pound, whoops!)
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I used half mayo, half 2% Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
  1.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems. (This is also when I cooked my bacon and halved grapes)
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, grapes, bacon and pecans. (The recipe said to chill for three hours, but I enjoy warm pasta salad so I dove in right away.)

Since I used a whole pound of  pasta this recipe made a ton of salad, so if you don’t want to be eating off it all week (which obviously doesn’t bother this gal!) I suggest following the original recipe and only use 8oz of dried pasta.

Love to all,
~the filled with lame excuses and lots of pasta salad gal, Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Promises, Promises, Llamadorks and Promises

I promise I still alive.

I promise that in fact, I’m not only alive, I’m thriving. More on that soon.

Tonight, I wanted to share a little side project I’ve been working on. With my wonderful friend from undergrad, who is also one of my biggest blog supporters. She had been toying with the idea of starting a blog of her own, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Then she has the genius idea that we write one together. And thus, Llamadorks was born.

Don’t know what a Llamadork is? Well, aside from a Tumblr project, and an inside joke between us gals it’s going to be a fabulous conglomeration of food, drink, fashion, literature and any other obsessions we stumble across. Find us, follow us, laugh and love with us.

Oh and tomorrow? Tomorrow I promise I will tell you about my Epic Easter dinner…even if it is over a week late.

Love to all,
~the little gal that happens to be a HUGE Llamadork too, Jess

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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

Pretty Things in a Gloomy Month

I don’t know about you guys, but January can seem a bit gloomy.  The lights and other fancy decorations of the holidays have been packed away (ok, ok, I still have mine out-I’m pushing it as “winter decor”) and those glittery days and nights of holiday parties have faded. Let’s not forget the crazy weather that we are having all over the country! A never ending deluge of snow, rain, wind and over-cast grey is enough to make any month seem gloomy.

Here are three things I’ve acquired this month that are keeping my days bright and shiny, even when the Mother Nature isn’t so accommodating.

1- New Running Shoes! 

These Brooks Adrenalines are only my second pair of running shoes. I bought my first pair way back in the spring of 2009, when I was still living in St. Pete. Um, yeah, totally time for a new pair. 

2- Beautiful Heirloom Hothouse Tomatoes

These beauties were a bit of a splurge at Fresh Market, but considering I was supporting Florida farmers, I’m cool with that, especially since these babies were some of the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten, season be damned!

3-Charming Grocery Store Tulips

When I “rescued” these cute pink tulips from Publix for a mere $6 “adoption fee” last night they were droopy and closed. Less than 12 hours later in fresh water they have stood up and opened to display lovely orange pollen inside. I adore fresh flowers, especially in the wintertime.

So kick the gloom of January and find something pretty to show off in your life.

Love to all,
~the “I’m always in search of something cheerful” gal, Jess

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Perplexingly, but Utterly, Happy

One again I have a confession to make to you, my friends of the internet.

It’s something that has been weighing on my mind.

I just have to get it off my chest.

I am 100%, undeniably, happy with every aspect of my life.

There. I said it. I’m crazytown happy and in love with life.

Wait. WAIT. Don’t click away just yet. I promise I’m not just boasting, bragging or bluffing here.

See that oddly placed word in my title? Yes, I said “perplexingly” happy. What the heck does that mean, you may be wondering. Well, see I was wondering too.

Let me lay out some of my life facts for you and perhaps you will see the source of my confusion.

I am teacher at a rural school, where my ideas are not appreciated and usually ignored, in spite of my experience and proven successes. (oh and don’t forget that teachers in FLA-particularly my district- get paid diddly squat)

I live in my hometown.  A hometown that I ran kicking and screaming away from after graduating high school.  (Frankly I am still a bit “embarrassed” to have returned to teach after acting such a “big shot” about how I was “getting out” all through school)

My hometown is an hour away from civilization. (And by civilization I mean, Gainesville, which many could question it’s worthiness of the label “civilized”)

I rent from my parents. On their property. (As in I see the back of their house from my front porch.)

I’m a good 15 lbs away from my ideal weight.

My dog has cancer.

I’m single. 

As a girl I always thought I’d date my husband to be for ~5 years before we got married. I thought I’d be married before I turned 30. (Note, these weren’t “goals” just these concepts I’ve had for a long time.)

I’m closer to the age of 26 these days then 25. You do the math.

So, overall it looks like the cards should be against me. I mean all the points above do not really sound like the ideal life for a fabulous 25 year old foodie and wannabe fashionista. But for reasons I still don’t quite understand none of the above is getting me down. (ok, not 100% true, Chubby having cancer is really, really, really shitty, but it’s also part of life, so I’m dealing with it.)

I love my little abarnment. I love my students and seeing their eyes light up when we do something “cool” in class. I love my wardrobe of clothes, so 15 lbs be damned, I look good. And luckily I love my parents dearly and enjoy seeing them everyday.

If you too would like to have this feeling of being geninely “high on life” I have only two suggestions for you.

1- Revel in the little things.
Little things like random flowers blooming in the dead of winter. (see my silly bromeliad above for an example) Little things like receiving a complementary cup of coffee at Starbucks just for returning an empty bean bag. Little things like encouraging a shy student to share their opinion in class. Little things like a brisk winter walk with a friend.

Those kinds of little things in life. Things that are mostly free and always worth keeping your eyes open for.

2- Play the smile game.

This one is simple. Just smile at someone until they smile back. (make sure your smile is genuine, otherwise you just come off as a creep or mentally unstable, ok?) You both will feel instantly happier. I love the smile game. I made it up last year and it’s the best thing about my day sometimes.

I don’t know if those two things are really the cause of my ridiculous feelings of happiness (hell, my hormones may just be bonkers out of balance from copious amounts of Christmas Sugar), but they do seem like some good guidelines for life, don’t you agree?

Phew, thanks for listening to all that mushy happy stuff, guys. I’ll do my best to return to my snarky gal self as soon as possible, because honestly one of the things that makes me most happy is all my “imaginary friends” on the internet!

Love to all,
~the happy gal, Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random | Leave a comment

Keeping It Real: Holiday Edition

Only during the “holidays” would I be up at 4:30am making cookie dough dip for my school of employment’s “3 days of Christmas Cheer”

But let’s keep it real here:

Cookie Dough Dip? Get real, Jess! This “snack” is just another excuse to eat cream cheese icing with chocolate chips on gram crackers.

And 4:30am? Don’t try to pull the martyr card. This is your fault, princess. Because this gal? She fell asleep on the couch last night, laptop precariously balanced on chest at 9:30pm (after getting home from three hours of elementary science fair judging-be still my heart-not) and didn’t wake up again until 1:30am. Who cares if the cream cheese and butter sat out on the counter all night…the recipe said “softened.” And trust me, it was real soft this morning.

Health hazard? Goodness no, I’m just keeping it real!

Love to all,
~the, “do I look like a happy holiday elf to you?” gal, Jess

PS. Don’t answer that question in my signature. Also, be glad I decided to spare you the picture of myself making said cookie dough dip this morning. I want to keep it real around here, not scar you for life!

Categories: Rad n' Random, Sinfully Sweet, Snackage | Leave a comment

Food Dare Fail

It started off so well.

Cutie little leeks, beautiful romaine and sweet, if frosty, peas. Plus soup. Who doesn’t love soup? And this gal loves soup. So, what could be so awful about Lettuce Soup?

But as the greens began to simmer down in chicken stock, with an overly generous portion of mint, I began to have my doubts. (I was following a food dare recipe from Everyday by Rachel Ray) The aromas coming off this (ginormous) pot of green stuff wasn’t making my mouth water. It was more of a “dirty socks nose wrinkle” reaction.

I should have known better. I don’t “do” dares. When playing truth or dare at slumber parties as a child “truth” was my go to answer. No freezing of my best friend’s brother’s undies for this gal.

However, while I have no shame in being a cautious wallflower at times, I am very stubborn. So, I pressed on.

The lovely green and white vegetables became a baby vomit green after their trip to the blender…which I then tried to “richen” up with some 1/2 and 1/2 that hand been hanging out in my fridge. Still fooling myself, obviously.

Nope. Not even garlic croutons couldn’t turn this whale of a fail around. I knew I should have stuck with my truth safety zone. Because no matter how pretty it all started, even when you blend up dirty socks with cream and mint, it still isn’t going to be winner, much less a chicken dinner.

Now, does anyone want to come clean out all the leftover lettuce soup from my fridge? I never was a fan of dirty socks. Or mint. ugh.

Love to all,
~the, “hey, I can embrace a failure now and then” gal, Jess

Categories: Expanding my Repertoire, Rad n' Random | Leave a comment

Friday Fun Fact: Competive Eating

Source: Daily Infographic

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