Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One step closing to being a "real" adult

I've been living with my parents or renting an apartment/room in a friend's house for the past ten or so years. Now that I have a real, adult job (aka a "career"), I've decided to take the plunge and buy a house. I have a little money saved up and a mediocre credit score. The one factor in my favor? It's totally a buyer's market. The county I'm living in right now is lousy with foreclosed houses, and the community banks are really eager to sell. Yesterday after work I met with a Realtor and checked out three different homes. Each has its own distinctive charm, but I'm leaning towards the cheaper one with the huge kitchen (!), appliances included (!!), and large, flat backyard just begging for a vegetable garden. One of the other houses is slightly more expensive (it has a fireplace and unfinished basement, which could be a totally boss home theater), but I don't think I could get as good a deal on it. The third house is okay (it has a lovely back porch and a big garden tub in the master bathroom), but it also has a leak in one closet and doesn't have kitchen appliances included.

So, those of you who own houses or are also in the process of buying: any suggestions? Anything you wish you had known before you signed on the dotted line? I'll be talking it over with my parents before making an offer, but my apartment lease is up at the end of June and I'm anxious to get my living situation straightened out pronto.

And, just 'cause I think it's funny and sorta-related, here's a "Cribs"-style video starring Seth Green:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Recipe Tuesday: Pesto Risotto

My little sister graduated from college a few weeks ago. She didn't want to attend the ceremony (it would've been pointless, really, as there were too many students for them to be called individually), so Mom let her pick where she wanted to go for lunch instead. Sis chose The Swan Coach House. Apparently it's an Atlanta landmark, but I had never heard of it before, even though it turned out to be located pretty close to the starting point for the Great Urban Race from last month.

Knowing my sister, I figured it would not be the kind of place I would typically enjoy. For one thing, it's only open for three and a half hours, Monday - Saturday, and there's usually a one-hour wait to be seated. Also, they do not accept reservations for groups smaller than (I think) ten. And this is stuff she knew before we even got in the car to drive down there! When we pulled up to the restaurant, all I could see were groups of women in floral print dresses and high heels (definitely NOT what I was wearing). The inside looked like an Easter basket had exploded - there's a photo gallery on the website to give you an idea. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and out of my element, and we ended up walking around the gift shop while waiting the hour for our table.

But then we were seated, ordered, and prompt served our food. Oh, the food. It was delicious! Worth every minute we stood around waiting for the hostess to call our name, and definitely worth having to stare at a sea of flowery dresses and Pepto-Bismol-colored walls. Luckily my sister had picked up a copy of the Swan Coach House cookbook (in the aforementioned gift shop) and I was able to flip through it and find some really excellent recipes to make at home. My first attempt was the Pest Risotto, which turned out to be the BEST. RISOTTO. EVER. I made a few adjustments to the original the second time I made it, and it turned out even better. How can something be better than the BEST, you ask? Well, I don't know, but this risotto is it.

1 small zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small yellow squash, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup pesto
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper to taste

Put the zucchini, yellow squash, and broth in a small pot and simmer over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until tender. Add the rice and cook for three minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the cooked squash and zucchini from the broth and set aside. Add one cup of the warm broth to the rice and cook until the broth is mostly absorbed, stirring continuously. Add another 1/2 cup of the broth and cook until almost absorbed, stirring continuously. Repeat until almost all of the broth has been absorbed. (This will probably take about 20 - 30 minutes.) Stir in the pesto. Add in the remaining broth, cooking until the mixture is creamy and the rice is al dente. Stir in the cheese, squash, and zucchini and season with black pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.

Note: This picture is from the first time I made the recipe, before I added in the vegetables. But you get the idea.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Music Munday: Mix CD

Chris started Music Mundays last week at his blog, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On... and I really wanted to participate, but school was really hectic and I just didn't get a chance to write a post. Good thing I waited, because now I have some excellent music to post about.

Last Thursday was finals day for first and third period. I adore my first period class; seeing them was always a great start to my day. One of my wonderful students showed up on finals day even though he didn't have to take the test (students who don't miss too many days and have a certain GPA can exempt) and he brought me a mix CD! There's some really great songs on here, and I wanted to share them with you guys. There are twenty songs on here, so I won't get to them all, but here are a few of my favorites.

1. "Halo" - Beyoncé
The songs on the CD aren't labeled, so I've had a time trying to figure them out. The first one was relatively easy, though. I realized it was Beyoncé on the second or third play. Full disclosure: I'm not a big fan of hers. I think she's a big ol' diva and I really wish she would give up on her "acting." That said, this song has a way of getting stuck in my head, and I love the beat:

2. "Don't Trust Me" - 3OH!3
This song is completely inappropriate (there's an f-bomb early in the video, so don't watch it at work or near little kids), but I love it. The video's a bit strange, but the song makes me want to get up and dance:

3. "Champion" - Flipsyde
According to the internets, this song was used for all of the US teams during the 2008 Olympics. Very apropos, I think. Another NSFW video - these kids listen to music with such bad language these days!

4. "Gives You Hell" - The All-American Rejects
This was one song I had heard and liked before I got the mix CD - I've been a fan of TAAR since college.

5. "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked" - Cage the Elephant
This is another song I liked previously. I have no idea how I ended up with this song in my iTunes (I tend to download a bunch of random songs from various music blogs and then cull through them later), but it's already gotten quite a few plays. I love the steel guitar.

So there you have it! Does this kid have great taste in music or what? I'll probably end up posting about the rest of the songs at a later date.

Visit Chris's Music Mundays post for more!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: A Second First Time?

I haven't done a BTT post in a while, but I really liked this week's question, and I'm trying to get back into the blogging habit - graduation is tomorrow night, y'all, and then I have four 10-hour days of post-planning until a summer of blissful freedom! Anyway, this week's question is:
What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?
Without a doubt, one book I wish I could go back and read again for the first time is Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. I was spoiled for this one because I actually saw the movie first. My (then-) boyfriend Max read the book first, then convinced me to get a copy, and my love for Chuck was kindled. If you've never read the book or seen the movie, do yourself a favor and pick it up. I would even go so far as to say that the book is a better version, although the movie is amazing. Shirtless Brad Pitt is a big plus. There's a big twist in the end that makes you go, "Whaaaa?" The book's ending is a bit more ambiguous (and creepy) and I would love to discover it anew all over again.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Check out btt for more opinions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

School's (almost) out for summer

Dear blog,

I am terribly sorry I've been ignoring you for the past few weeks. School has been crazy-busy; thank goodness tomorrow is the last full day before finals. Unfortunately, I still have a week of post-planning and prep for moving to our nice, nearly-completed new high school. But after that, I'll be back to a regular posting schedule, I pinkie-promise. On the plus side, I've been reading tons of books, so I'll have lots of reviews to write*...after I finish grading all these persuasive papers. Who knew so many 10th graders were opposed to school uniforms? Too bad the school board already voted - I'll be rockin' khakis and polo shirts next year!

For now, though, I'm off to bed. Thanks to Glee, I'll have "Don't Stop Believin'" stuck in my head for at least the next three days. Not that I'm complaining - I love me some Journey.

A frazzled first year teacher

* Including, but not limited to: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which I finally broke down and ordered online), The Thirteen Clocks, the first three trades of Jack of Fables, Mr. Darcy's Diary, Don't Eat This Book!, Smoke and Mirrors, The Eternals, and The Graveyard Book. Yeah, I went on a Neil Gaiman-themed reading binge recently...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Recipe Tuesday: Margarita Ice Cream

Feliz cinco de mayo! Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is actually celebrated in the US more than it is in Mexico? Well, it's true, at least according to this website. I may not be chicana, but I am all for any holiday that involves copious amounts of alcohol consumption. (Fun fact: I speak really poor Spanish when I get drunk.) Here's an easy and delicious Cinco de Mayo recipe: Margarita Ice Cream! The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, and yes, it contains liquor.

1/2 cup lime juice
2 Tbs tequila
3 Tbs Triple Sec
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups heavy cream

Pour the lime juice, tequila, and Triple Sec in a bowl. Add in the powdered sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in the cream and whip until thickened but not stiff. Pour into an airtight container, seal, and freeze overnight. Enjoy!

Words cannot describe how yummy this stuff's creamy and sweet, but with a tart little bite to it. Plus: it's the easiest ice cream ever!