Tunes of the Week Edition No. 3

Published 4/26/14 by:

When the weather starts to heat up, so does my hankering for new music to play loudly with the windows rolled down. While grading I’ve been perusing Pandora (only when I’m not obsessed with The Wallflowers station), and I’ve found a few new artists that piqued my interest. I also have had some good luck encountering sweet music on NBC’s “Parenthood” and The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries”, which is always an added bonus to watching TV.  So, without further ado, here are this week’s tunes.

 

 

Emily Wolfe’s “White Collar Whiskey” – This song is from Emily’s completely stellar EP called “Mechanical Hands”. I want to crawl inside this song and live in it. The crescendos in this song drive me crazy in the best possible way. Emily’s voice is reminiscent of Ingrid Michaelson, except she manipulates her soft sopranos into loud rock ‘n roll growls with much more intensity. The guitar riffs throughout the song remind me of one of my favorite bands – The Heartless Bastards. I hope Emily Wolfe takes off in a big, big way. She’s ultra talented. Hat tip to “The Vampire Diaries” music supervisors for introducing me to this fine musician.

 

 

JP Harris and the Tough Choices’ “I’m Staying Here” – One of my very good friends from high school lives on a farm in Maine, and she turned me on to this fantastic band. Talk about a throwback. Before I saw what these band members looked like, I figured they were saloon-loving gentlemen who had been playing together since the 60s. That is not the case. They are completely reviving a country music scene that hasn’t really been popular since the late, great man in black, Sir Johnny Cash. I’m totally on board with their sound, and their message: “if there ain’t no honky tonks up in heaven, I’m staying here.”

 

 

Mofro’s “Lochloosa” – This song is from Mofro’s second album sharing the same title. I discovered this song on Pandora because I listen to Ben Harper radio. Take of that what you will. I know nothing about him as an artist, except that he can croon with the best of them and he reminds me of the band Groove Armada in a major way. Maybe they have a connection? Who knows. Enjoy this fantastic song.

 

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Recipe: Taco Black Bean Pasta

Published 4/21/14 by:

Taco Pasta Photo

 

 

The week before spring break, you’re trying to empty your refrigerator before departing to your (hopefully exciting) destination. Am I right? So when I found myself with a hefty sum of hamburger, and an entire sack of onions, I figured it was time to break out one of my most reliable recipes: Taco Pasta! This recipe has actually evolved over time because I’ve cooked it more than once – a major feat for this young chef! You can add pretty much anything to this recipe, and it won’t suffer (that much). Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1/2 jar of your favorite salsa (or one can of Rotel)

1 box or bag of pasta

1 can of drained black beans

1 pound of ground hamburger (or you could do turkey burger!)

8 ounces of sour cream

3 ounces of cream cheese

4 tablespoons of taco seasoning

1 onion diced

1 shallot diced

 

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions and set aside (I would recommend starting this process prior to dicing your onions etc.)

In a large skillet (the deeper the better) cook your shallots, onions and hamburger on high heat until meat is no longer red.

Add taco seasoning and salsa into skillet. Stir until it’s mixed in evenly. Then add in your sour cream and cream cheese. Stir until there are no lumps left.

Add in your drained black beans and distribute them evenly in the skillet.

Once your skillet’s contents are nice and creamy add in the pasta.

For garnish you can add green onions or sprinkle shredded cheese on the top!

 

 

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Boston Marathon Inspired Wish List

Published 4/18/14 by:

Boston Marathon Inspired Wish List

 

Boston Marathon Inspired Wish List

Marc jacobs shirt
While this top is pricy, it really caught my eye because it shares the unique blue and yellow motif of the Boston Marathon. I’m going to diligently find a shirt this perfect with a smaller price tag this year!

Women’s Boston Strong shirt USA shirt pride tee Boston Red Sox

While Boston Strong may be our warcry since the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013, I really like how the Red Sox B was cleverly incorporated into this design.

Vince Camuto shoes
My old Michael Kors loafer espadrilles were DIRTY. They needed to be replaced. I ordered this on a whim from Nordstrom, and not only did they fit perfectly, but they have a decent amount of support while I wander around my classroom all day.

Kate spade wallet
I currently am using a yellow wallet (my first ever!), but now envy this one. I just love the spades!

House of Harlow 1960 boho style jewelry
Sunburst designs are so fun, and can be dressed up or down. This bright cobalt blue speaks to me.

Tory Burch sunglasses
I’m not sure I could pull off these sunglasses, but I’d love to give it a whirl! Cat eye shapes are one of my favorites!

ArteHouse boston sign
While this sign may look like decor from a local restaurant, I think it’s just a fun piece of artwork. Maybe for a bar area in my future house?

essie nail color, chills and thrills 0.46 fl oz (13.04 g)
Periwinkle is one of my favorite colors and words.

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Hiring Season: You’re Never Too Old For A Bad Interview

Published 4/11/14 by:

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A Word On Courage

Published 4/5/14 by:

Boston Strong Marathon Photo

 

 

I teach a unit from the Common Core called “Courageous Characters”. For six weeks my eleven and twelve-year-old students explore the definitions of courage, and what it means to act courageously. We read short stories and novels that demonstrate how courage can be as simple as befriending someone with an atypical appearance (hat tip to RJ Palaccio’s inspiring novel Wonder), or as difficult as mourning a mother who abandoned you, as well as a friend’s older sibling killed in action (Holt’s When Zachary Beaver Came to Town). During the research portion of the unit students gather information about people like Nelson Mandela, Helen Keller, or Ruby Bridges. They look for details about how people overcame oppression, racism, physical or mental disabilities, stereotypes, and other dilemmas humanity grapples with. This is the third year I’ve taught this unit, and the themes have become eerily tangible for my classes.

 

My current students were born in 2001 or 2002. Their lives began with 9/11. They know the stories, the acts of heroism, and the Patriotism that followed. Then came Newtown. Some students wanted to discuss every detail, and kept uttering, “how could this have happened?” Some kids were sheltered from the details, which may have been for the best. Then the Boston Marathon Bombing occurred, and their awareness of terrorism, threats, and chaos grew exponentially. The town I lived in went into lockdown when the Brothers Tsarnaev were on the loose. It was a terrifying week. My students were saddened by Newtown, but devastated by the Marathon Bombing. Immediately, I assumed that because the bombing happened in our city it affected kids much more aggressively. It didn’t occur to me until later, after many conversations, and reflective writing pieces, that my students were more upset because the majority of people who survived the explosion were missing limbs. No one was showing gruesome pictures of the deceased from Newtown on the news, but the dancer who now only had one leg? She was everywhere.

 

So as parents, neighbors, siblings, educators, and genuine citizens of the world, how do we have these difficult conversations with kids? How do you determine what they should know? What’s the proper way to respond? In my experiences, if kids want to talk about it, I find an appropriate time to do so, but it’s not like I have any answers. I don’t know why a Malaysian plane disappeared into the atmosphere. I can’t comprehend how terrorism functions, and why it’s appealing to so many people. What I do know is that kindness matters, and listening to kids has a huge impact. These conversations, and the fact that we, as adults, are willing to entertain them MATTER. So as we rapidly approach the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings, I’m going to leave some room in my lesson plan itinerary for those chats, for whoever wants to have them. I’m here to listen, and I encourage you to do the same.

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