that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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blank canvas

Here is my classroom! Ahhhhhhhhhhh! So much work to do…any ideas how to fill these walls? ūüôā Pretend you’re 12 or 13, what would you want to see there? How fun will this be?!

SmartBoard...yes!

 

 

 

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group effort – lemon meringue pie

 

I have a post formulating that is going to blow your minds (probably not) but I am taking a hiatus from hashing out that essay for a little baker’s pride moment, which don’t happen very often. It’ll even include a recipe.

Check this out:

Yay for birthdays.

I know, right? It was Luke’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to make him his favourite – lemon meringue pie. Last year the pie I made him was unmentionable, not even worth being the punchline in the lamest of lame stories I tell my classes. Even though he ate it last year, smiling and nodding that he liked it, my goal this year was to make sure that the crust didn’t cook down, the filling wasn’t sweating or watery, and the meringue actually resembled one that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to give him. The result? The perfect recipe for lemon meringue pie (and the largest grin on my best friend’s face). Anyway…the recipe came from three different sources and with some tweakings done by me, risky but effective,¬† I suggest you put this little delight in your recipe books.

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The Crust (courtesy of my cousin in law and favourite person to waste time with, Chrissy)

1/2 lb shortening
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 a beaten egg (use your gut)
2 tsp salt
1/2 T vinegar

Add beaten egg to vinegar and add enough cold water to make 1/2 a cup.

Mix dry ingredients and cut in the shortening with a pastry tool. Mix in liquid with a fork.

Separate into two balls and refrigerate for 20 minutes or so. Roll the pastry between two pieces of wax paper so that the dough is 1 inch bigger than the inverted pie plate. Drape dough loosely into pie plate and pinch down. Prick holes with a fork and weigh it down with pastry weights. Or in our case, interior decorative rocks. Amazing. Bake until golden brown, 18 minutes I think @ 425. I can’t remember that part, I was playing with Eli.

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The Filling (courtesy of my sister and favourite person I’d like to get more chances to waste time with, Jes)

In a microwave bowl combine:
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup and 3 T sugar (the extra 3 just makes it a little more delicious)
1/4 tsp  salt
Gradually add 3 cups boiling water and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stirring once halfway.
Stir a small amount, I used two spoonfuls, of hot mixture into 3 beaten egg yolks (reserve whites) and blend into remaining hot mixture. Cook for another minute or two.
Blend in:
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp grated lemon rind (took me 2 lemons, average size)
1/2 cup lemon juice (2.5 lemons)
Cool to lukewarm, whisking every now and then, and pour into¬† cooled baked pie shell. I think Jes and Mom are onto something here – shouldn’t be hot!
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The Meringue (courtesy of my friend and owner of my favourite cookbook I’d like to own so I can waste time with it (and her), Jaime – and The Joy of Cooking)
All ingredients MUST be at room temperature. No wavering. NONE.
Thoroughly mix:
1 T cornstarch
1 T sugar
1/3 cup water
Bring to a boil over medium heat, constantly stirring. Let it boil for 15 seconds and cover the pot with lid, remove from heat and set aside.
In a glass or metal bowl (essential) beat until foamy:
FOUR egg whites (I know, three eggs for filling, four for meringue…just trying to be especially complicated! :))
Once the whites are delightfully foaming, add and beat:
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (Don’t have any? Buy it at Walmart…it’s ridiculously cheap for a lot of it)
After beating for a bit, gradually add 1/2 cup sugar. Beat on high speed until very stiff and glossy, not dry.
Reduce speed to very low and beat in the reserved cornstarch paste, 1 T at a time. When done, increase speed for another minute or so. Spread over pie filling and crust
Very IMPORTANT: Make sure the meringue is ‘anchored’ to the crust or pie plate – this keeps the meringue from ‘going anywhere’ or shrinking away from the pie when cooling.
Bake in a preheated, 350* oven for 20 mins. Watch carefully but 20 minutes was all my pie needed.
The result?
This:
and then this, which made it alllll worthwhile:
That win didn’t hurt, either! Go Canucks!
Enjoy your pie.


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transference

Trying something different. Like not wearing makeup or straightening my hair anymore. Like writing a blogpost on my iPhone. Like running in the evening instead of the morning.

Like teaching grade seven for a year in my old elementary school? Yes, I am trying somethings a bit differently.

That’s my news…I’ve accepted a job offer that was impossible to turn down. It is a one year contract back ‘home’ where I am going to teach all core curriculum, except French, to the grade seven class. It’s an elementary school so considering that I am, both trained as and preferably, an English and History/Social Studies secondary school teacher, my learning curve is steep and the demographic is…different — different from what I know, different from my dream.

It’s ok though, I’m not entitled to my dream job yet so for one year, I’ll gain experience while spending time with people I haven’t seen in what feels like a lifetime.

I’m unraveling. On one hand, I am excited and anxious and honoured to be given this opportunity. On the other, I seem to be crying at no moment’s notice as I feel so overwhelmed by lacking qualifications, how much planning I have to do, the thought of moving back way up north, and the imminent changes that bring goodbyes. This is home, I’m excited for my job but I didn’t think I was ready to leave Victoria, some friends, my best friend, and my family here just yet. It’s all happening so fast. I don’t know how or where to start planning for September … or how or where to say goodbye.

It’ll be trying many things different.

Like teaching full-time to my very own class…different, but different is good.

I can’t believe I’m moving back. That’s different, too.

I can’t believe it’s time to actually say goodbye.

Cheers!


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perfect pairing [and instagram]

So yesterday was a big day, some pretty interesting things happened — more on that in a post to come. While I had my own things happening, it was a big day for my great friend Luke too. There probably won’t be more on that later, but yesterday was the day where individual circumstances regarding our careers officially made us adults. Anyway. Talk about being cryptic,¬† but a little elusiveness never hurt anyone so let me enjoy this for a few moments.

We decided to celebrate a little bit.¬† One of my favourite places in the city is Ferris’ Oyster Bar. I’ve never had fresh oysters before moving to the Island and it’s a treat that I will miss if and when I leave.¬† There is nothing like a freshly ‘shucked’ oyster with fresh horseradish, tobasco, and seafood sauce…and a glass of wine. I thought so, anyway.

When I [briefly] worked for Starbucks last summer, I learned about perfect pairings. The whole point was that there were specific coffees that complimented certain baked goods that they sold. Part of the training was to develop a sense of what item to recommend to a customer, depending on what drink they ordered. For example, ordering an Americano with a shot of caramel in it? Why don’t you try a chocolate covered pretzel? (I am not sure if that’s considered a complimentary relationship, I just thought of two things available there). The point is, I never really understood this. Every time they quizzed me on this, or I tried a coffee with it’s baked buddy, I didn’t really get why they were meant to be. Sure, they tasted good together but I definitely didn’t have the palate that got it. I definitely did not generate much revenue due to this type of “upselling” but I think I was more frustrated that I honestly could not tell what difference a macchiatto and a fudge bar relationship or a macchiatto and a vanilla scone pair made.

Until yesterday, there have been three perfect pairings (in cuisine) that I’ve come across. Well, four if you count sushi and chicken wings. They are:

1. Red wine and chocolate. It’s true, ‘they’ are right. Although I don’t know what it is that makes them meld, I do know that a glass of Wolf Blass 2007 Shiraz with a dark chocolate truffle is just delightful.

2. An Espresso shot poured over vanilla ice cream. Heaven surely has this ready made for us, it’s unreal.

3. Pear and parmesan. I was introduced to this a few months back, it’s a classic and brilliant dessert in Scott’s house, served with red wine after dinner. I don’t know if it’s the actual eating of pear and slices of parmesan cheese, which is delicious, but the process, to me,¬† that is perfect — where the cutting board with pears and cheese is passed around so that every time one pear is finished, another person gets to cut one to share. It’s relaxing, it’s social, begging great conversation… and it’s interesting to see how people cut the fruit differently (I don’t know if¬† the¬† others or Scott enjoy this aspect, but I do).

Aside from tasting good together, when I met perfect pairing number 4 (or 5, again – sushi and chicken wings) last night, for the very, very first time I have actually been able to taste when two things go together in a seeming love affair in your mouth: oysters and martinis (the real kind). I’ve had dirty martinis before but have never grown accustomed to the taste. They are straight alcohol and while I appreciate the absence of the sweetness from other variations of the cocktail, the strong taste of the alcohols is difficult for me to enjoy. Like my experience with cilantro, I figure I will develop a taste for martinis and the¬† hint of olive juice upon drinking them more often. I don’t drink much so this is inconsequential or probably never going to happen anyway, I just think it looks cool to go for a drink and order a martini. Except they’re gross.

Until last night. Back to our celebration. After we ate dinner, we went across the street to Ferris’ to have a martini – Luke wanting me to attempt to love it again. I had a few sips and like every other time, my throat burned and chilly shudders went through my body. However,¬† since we were at the oyster bar, we needed to order some. After eating my first oyster,¬† I took a drink of my martini and my palate- life changed. It was incredible how much I enjoyed that. It still tasted like the 100% alcohol it is but with the lingering taste of horseradish and seafood sauce, the drink went from shudder worthy to smooth and oh-so delicious. It was amazing, I’ve never experienced that before — a noticeable¬† sentiment between two flavours (yes, I know that they don’t have feelings, it was just so fascinating). In the other sense, the oysters tasted much better with the hint of vodka and olives. While I definitely do not plan to get in the habit of this delicacy,¬† last night I experienced, for real, a perfect pairing. It was really neat.

Stop laughing at me.

Another perfect pairing? My iPhone 4 and the Instagram App. Enjoy these photos:


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lent status update

So I am three weeks in. If you’ve forgotten – I gave up foundation (really, any type of powder, concealer, whatever) makeup and desserts.

Anyway. The make up has been awesome, rather – the lack of. I feel so good, I have not put ANYTHING on my face, save for mascara, in over three weeks. The first week was really rough, my skin went through a kind of detox so I had a lot of red splotches and breaking out a bit around my jaw. I figured that was minor pay back for covering it up for so many years (12 years, give or take). But now,¬† my skin is really evening out and it feels better than it ever has.¬† It’s funny, I never actually had bad skin to begin with so I am now wondering why I ever started wearing any makeup whatsoever. OH well. And at the recommendation of a friend, I’ve picked up a new moisturizer, the best one I’ve ever used (Dormer 211 — buy it) and that is making this whole fast thing awesome — at this rate, I have no plans to wear make up after this. Thanks Jes for the challenge. I think everyone should do this. I thought I’d see a direct correlation between clean and clear foundation-less skin and not eating desserts but I’d proven science and pore cleansing commercials, speaking about eating right for healthy skin, wrong becccccauuuseee….

I cheated on my dessert sacrifice about 5 days in. Let me explain. I don’t actually know why I gave up dessert to begin with. It’s not a crutch for me and it’s not something I have often enough to even notice if I don’t have it. As I thought about it more, I theorize that I only gave it up because Chrissy didn’t believe she has what it takes to give up something she’s passionate about (ice cream, graham crackers, chocolate, and bananas — yes, altogether. Amazing). So I guess when she suggested I give up dessert, it was actually so she could live vicariously through me and feel as though she is doing the fasting in her own small way. Maybe?

Not really, but I still don’t know why I gave it up. My dessert count it up to this:

1. sex in a pan (Sunday – 5 days in to lent)
2. sex in a pan leftovers (Monday – 6 days in to lent)
3. three bowls of ice cream at various times post-first cheat
4. Frozen yogurt with my almost-due preggo friend Rebecca (5 days ago)… we had to, she was craving! (I was craving? :))
5, Joy the Baker’s Butterscotch Pudding with Carmelized Bananas and Cream (2 nights ago)

PS Joy the Baker has changed my life. Anyway.

6. A piece of Connor’s birthday cake (yesterday)

Don’t ever say I am not accountable to my actions. And now that I’ve completed that list, it’s safe to say that three weeks in, I am officially giving up dessert for an extended-lent, possibly into my 26th year. I really don’t have¬† it often, I blame it on being influenced of those around me. So either the people or the dessert has to go. Bye bye deliciousness, here goes.

EXCEPT if I want frozen yogurt. Or Joy the [rockstar] Baker‘s grapefruit scones. Unreal. Lifechanging. Breakfast transforming. Amazing. Period.
Cheers!


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hear ye!

So here’s a good one. I’ve been learning a lot lately. Most of it is comprised of¬†patience mixed with perseverance and¬†a little dash of unexpected and sprinkled with exhaustion and boredom all with a hint of awesome as I’ve been trying to sort things out over the past two months. Well, I am certain it is all going to be okay and work out as my ma always says — I got a part time job at the learning centre here working with younger kids on their reading and writing in the post-school hours and on weekends.¬† Perfect. And just days after I got that job, I found out that I am officially on the supply list for one of the school districts here…that’s right, I am a teacher on call! Tell your friends. Actually don’t, but it is pretty cool and I am very excited to hopefully start getting some calls! I’ve never been on call for anything, except for during my job hunt where I’ve constantly waited by the phone for someone to potentially give me a job. Maybe the last two months have been training me for the nature of the position. Who knows. Any words of advice? I feel like I need to start showering at night so I can be ready at the drop of a hat (or if they call me at 7 am). I’m also a little nervous…as a TOC, I can be called in to any school, any grade in my district. I have no idea what to do with younger kids, especially x30. Go to games? Books? Activities? Help? Overwhelming. ¬†For example, Victoria is in the middle of a freak snow storm right now. Chrissy says it’s approximately 6 inches worth of the white stuff out there. Naturally, we went outside to play and while I was putting on Eli’s snowsuit, etc, I all of a sudden had this flash of ¬†“Oh no, can you imagine teaching kindergarten and having to do this for 25 odd kids? Punch me.” Anyway, for those of you on Vancouver Island, you can appreciate how much of a set back snow can be. I grew up in the north but I’ve definitely acclimatized to the west coast (read: am not outfitted — neither in body or vehicle — for these conditions). The rest of you can judge or laugh all you want about the wimps that are island dwellers, but I don’t care. There are several morals to this story:

1. If the snow keeps up, I am refusing all calls to come teach anything grade 3 and lower. That takes a special person that I am not.

2. I don’t think I am ready to have children quite yet if I am already losing sleep over thinking about the production that is getting them ready for the outdoors.

3. It’s time to sell Bella.

4. 6 inches is a lot of snow for here, it totally ruined my plans. And there is no point shovelling when you finish the driveway only to have to start again.

5. I have work. I get to teach. I am so excited!

 

Cheers!