A phone call to heaven

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Today is one of those days where I wish there was a phone that could call heaven. Today I am really missing my grandmother. St. Patrick’s Day was one of her favourite holidays and she would always call to wish me a day of good luck (her father was Irish).

The strangest thing happened to me this morning as I was preparing supper. As I was preparing cabbage and corned beef stew, peeling the potatoes, I suddenly was overcome with the scent of my grandmother and the house she used to live in. A flash of memories popped into my head – when I was little, but big enough to work a potato peeler, it was my job to peel the potatoes while my grandma cut them. I sat at one end of the table and she sat next to me dicing the potatoes in what seemed like perfect cubes. After, while the stew would cook, we would sit at the table playing board games.

It was a lovely reminder of all the good times that we shared, but it also made me miss her a lot. Usually there are specific times when you miss a grandmother – major holiday(s) or a birthday. For me, it is St. Patrick’s Day.

Isn’t it incredible how the sense of smell can trigger memories and instantly take you back to that place in time. If I close my eyes I can see that dining room – how big it was, where the table was, what the hanging light looked like, the pattern on the wallpaper, and the colour of the carpet. I can hear my grandmother’s voice and her laugh when something funny happened during the game, the sound of the UNO cards being slapped on each other, or the sounds of the marbles moving along the Aggravation game board. I had the most amazing memories with my grandmother and I miss her every single day.

I made this stew for her. I hope she likes it, wherever she is.

Catching Up: School, Influenster, and Life

Hello kind folks! So you’ve probably been wondering what the heck is going on with the blog… well, I’m looking for a change. I wasn’t really feeling the visual format of it, so I changed it. Now I notice that it doesn’t look good at all. So please bear with me while I make the necessary changes.

What have I been up to? Well, aside from trying to make this blog visually appealing, I have been incredibly busy with school. The second (and final term for this school year) is coming to a close very shortly – like, March 10. Reading Week is upon us (Yay! A glorious week off!) and then it will be back to the hustle and bustle and hustle of the last four weeks of classes.

I seriously cannot believe how quickly this school year has flown by. In all my years of being in university, it has never gone by this fast. Perhaps, because, for the first time I am really having a lot of fun. I am enjoying my practicum placement and this is something (teaching) that I am really passionate about, and something I really love. I love my cohorts (fellow students) and I am learning a lot. On Tuesday we had the most fun Curriculum Design class so far – a ton of laughter (we were crying), a little violence (it was in all good fun and no one got hurt – well, almost, but even they laughed), and some great ideas came out of our workshop. I’m also doing really good and for the first time, in forever, I am achieving grades of A – A+. It makes me feel like everything is all worthwhile.

I’m also having trouble in the finance department, but hey, aren’t we all? Being a full-time student makes it difficult to pick up substitute jobs; however, I am picking up quite a few on my afternoons off. Just not quite paying the bills like I had hoped. December was a bad financial month and I had to use all of my student aid funding to play catch up. It sucked. I’m trying my best to keep my head afloat and I just need to get through the next three months.

Recently, I have become the newest member of the Influenster network! Influenster is a network of people who test, review products and share their opinions with the world. I have been chosen for their L’Oreal Paris #HairExpertise campaign and I cannot wait to share the results with you. I received the product yesterday and I am genuinely surprised by the size of the sample product – almost Costco sized!

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This campaign runs for one month, so be sure to check back regularly for updates!

That is all for now my lovelies. I hope that you are all having a fabulous week and are looking forward to a fabulous weekend. It’s a long weekend here plus, Reading Week starts Monday. I have zero school assignment commitments this weekend so I plan to Netflix and chill… with a glass of wine.

XoXo!

-M.

Cooking with M: Mushroom Soup

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Last week I had a craving for Mushroom Soup. As a person would do with a serious craving, I scoured the pantry for a can that I thought would be there (we always have mushroom soup in the pantry). No such luck. Instead, I had tomato soup. That evening I still had a craving and decided that I would use up the mushrooms that we had in the fridge and whip up homemade soup!

I’m trying my best to eat better and the recipe I found called for half-and-half. I substituted that for skim milk and added a 1 tbsp slurry of corn starch and water to thicken it up. It was so incredibly delicious and better than what you get in a can. My parents have asked that I made a few batches and freeze them for future quick meals.

What you’ll need

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cans chicken broth (or one carton)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch & 1 tsp water > for slurry

Directions

In a large stock pot, saute onions with 1/2 tbsp butter on low until tender. Add mushrooms and other 1/2 tbsp butter, saute until tender. Combine flour and stock, stir until smooth (you can do this in a separate bowl – per recipe from website, and then add to pot). Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, stirring at the 1 minute mark. Add the cornstarch slurry, garlic powder, salt/pepper, and celery salt. Stir well. Simmer for 14 minutes, stirring often.

I made a batch of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits from the mix that can be purchased at Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, etc. I know it is not the healthiest, but it sure was tasty alongside the soup.

This soup can freeze well in an air tight container, or cool and pour (with a large neck funnel) into a Ziplock freezer bag. <– Ensure that there is no air trapped in the bag; carefully zip the bag and let the air out slowly as you go along closing the bag. Place the bag on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. This will help you stack flat frozen soup bags  in the future.

2016 Intentions

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As I become older I have learned to not make resolutions, yet, just get out there and do the things you say you’re going to do. Last year I put it out into the universe that I wanted to finish university, be accepted into the Faculty of Education, and take a trip before my chaotic year as a student teacher began. I believe that if you put it out there, it will happen – and it did. All of it.

This year has similar intentions; however, I won’t graduate until next year. Holy crap… NEXT YEAR! 2017 is NEXT YEAR! Ya’ll, I have one year left. Heck, I only have four months left of this term and then I’m off for the summer. I just need to let that sink in for one moment.

Okay, it has sunk in.

So what do I want to put out there, to the universe, exactly? Well, for starters, the obvious is to have another successful term and pass my courses and the student teaching block. I have a really great Cooperating Teacher who is showing me the ropes and providing me with very valuable information and resources. I am really learning a lot from her. I’ve been blessed this block. I hope that for my final year (that begins in September), I will have an equally amazing CT.

After courses are done for the year, I want to find some sub work for the remainder of the school year. I really love what I do and I still love working as an Educational Assistant. I’m hoping that on the afternoons that I can work, from now until the teaching block, assignments are available.

On the adventurous side, I want to finally take a trip to Florida. Teachers Pay Teachers, and amazing site where educators can buy and sell materials, is hosting their annual teachers conference in Orlando this July. How perfect is that? For the last four years I have been trying to take a really nice vacation to Orlando/Disney, and something has always come up where I could not. I think this is Creator telling me that I will finally be able to get there and have a boat load of fun. I also want to spend time with family and friends in Minneapolis.

I also want to continue to grow as a person. After 33 years I have finally learned to love myself, my flaws, my quirks, and just what makes me, me. I love every wrinkle, every grey hair, and every stretch mark. I want to continue the work that I do for my community and try to continue to make it a better place (with more help). I want to become a really good teacher, where in 15 years, my former students will look back and say that, somehow, I made a difference. I know that I won’t be able to reach every student, but gosh dang-it, I want to try my best. I’m not doing the whole “New Year/New Me” crap, because honestly, if we tried to do a “new me” every year… it would become exhausting. You don’t need to find a new you. Just find ways to make yourself happy – take a trip (it doesn’t have to be grand, it can be a trip to a small town outside of your city), go out for coffee more with your gal pals; schedule a monthly mani/pedi, read a new book every month, learn a new skill… it isn’t that difficult.

I will also continue to work on my health/fitness. Last year I lost 25lbs in six months and I will do the same this year. A 50lb weight loss will be huge and even at a 25lb loss, I am noticing vast differences – I have shape, I’m becoming toned; I am making more healthy choices – parking further in a parking lot, taking stairs, and trying to eat better (this is a struggle and will always be a struggle). I am really working on my schedule so that I don’t skimp out on gym time – that is where I lost it this last school term. I also need to use the gym at school; after all, membership to the fitness facility is included in my tuition. In the words of Joanne and Hal… keep fit and have fun!

I would like to add more to this list, but I think what I have here is plenty – for now.

What are your intentions for 2016? Do you have specific ideas in mind or are you a go with the flow person?