It’s a really peaceful day for me, and somehow I am magically on top of chores (How’d that even happen?) so I thought I’d write an update on what kinds of stuff is swimmin’ around in my world currently.
First of all, I am becoming more and more antsy to get going on my student teaching this autumn. At this point, I’ve completed all my coursework for my master’s degree, all my coursework for my credential, and almost all my coursework for my emphasis in classroom technology. Just a course or two more, plus student teaching, and I’ll have completed my Masters in Education and be the proud owner of a shiny new preliminary teaching credential!! As excited as I am for the completion of this program (and I’m sure you can tell I’m excited), I’m even more excited to get into the classroom and start honing my skills in helping students. I knew teaching was important work going into it–now that I have gotten through my program and done countless hours of substitute teaching and observations in classrooms, I’m more convinced than ever of the difference a teacher can make to young scholars. So many students need an adult in their lives who cares, who believes in them, and who respects them enough to expect and foster the goodness and innovation within them. Some kids need that one teacher who can just listen. I can’t wait to give that to students.
Wedding Status: Loading……..
Those wedding bells are still a-chimin’! A few days after writing this post, Eugene and I will be celebrating a whole year of being engaged. We have grown so much as a couple! From spending time in California together to spending time in Argentina together, sweating, researching, and praying through this visa process, and hard work during and after the premarital retreat hosted by my church, to getting to know each other’s origin families, a road trip or two, and great fun running around and getting into mischief–it’s been a full year. Isn’t it amazing how these changes in our lives shape and mold us? I’m so happy, grateful, and proud of Eugene, and of my own work– and what Eugene and I are doing together.
This blog is many things for me, one of which is to provide a platform for talking about the book I wrote, The Ten Minute Quit.
I’ve had six new readers this month so far, with some awesome feedback, and I’m so excited to share! The response for this book was so unexpected to me–I mean, I hoped it’d help bring some positivity and hope to folks who need it during their nicotine recovery, as I did. Something else happened, though. I find that many of the people reading this book aren’t even cigarette smokers! Isn’t that bananas? They are telling me that this book has been giving them real skills to help them quit bad habits like self-doubt, unhealthy eating patterns, negativity, or even as an infusion of inspiration for the things they are already passionately working on like getting through college or being a more organized and positive parent. Neat, right? It’s an honor to be helpful. I can’t think about it too much without becoming sentimental. If you’re a reader, just know that I love you, and I thank you, and I’m humbled, truly.
Pins, Pasta, Pumpkin Spice….and Homicidal Robots! In Space! THE SEQUEL!
I’ve always got other odds and ends going around in my mind, too, such as:
How cute are those “Gibson Girl” hairstyles?! I’ve been growing out my hair for the wedding, and I think they’ll be the perfect thing to keep the darn stuff out of my face (and out of my coffee, out of Eugene’s coffee, and literally everywhere else I turn). I’ve been watching tutorials on Youtube, and I keep on watchin’ them without actually trying it, like I’m getting hypnotized by the poofs or something! C’mon, Nelson, grab some bobby pins and get practicing, already!
In other news, there is nothing–I repeat, nothing–more lovely and delicious than homemade pasta. I made some ravioli the other day, and it was mind-blowing, no joke. Recipe coming in future days.
Also, it’s June, and I’m already starting to get excited about Halloween. Does this happen to anyone else? I want apples and pork and candles and spoopy movies, and falling leaves, and good books, and full moons. I’ve been working on a “spookified” Halloween apple pie recipe, and yes, this recipe is imminent as well, so stay tuned once you start smelling that pumpkin spice in the air.
Finally got around to watching 2001: Space Odyssey with Eugene, as well as the sequel. I’m just going to have to read the books, because I have questions, people!!! *SPOILER COMING* Mainly: Why on Earth (see what I did there?) would this so-called superior race tell human beings NOT to go to Europa? If they truly knew human beings, having been present at all significant developmental periods of our evolution, wouldn’t they know that telling a human NOT to do something is actually exactly like begging them TO do it?!?!?! See what I mean? Something’s fishy about the whole thing.
If you’ve stayed with me so far in this post, you certainly deserve a high-five.
It’s the end of my update! Thanks for stopping by and having a peek at things as they are in my world today. If no one has told you yet today: you’re awesome! You are important! I love you and believe in you! And wherever your day takes you from this point onward, I hope you have a great one.
I learned very early that the world was a colorful, wonderful, curious place.
A World of Beautiful Things
Growing up as the daughter of trade confectioners (among my parents’ MANY skills and careers over the years), it was exciting enough that ice cream was a part of the family business.
Now picture my whole family going to county fairs in city after city over the summer, selling gourmet ice cream and other special treats. Hot summer days, ferris wheels, selling ice cream, riding elephants, and parking our trailer in a different city every two weeks over the summer. It was an exciting and vibrant childhood.
The County Fair of My Childhood
In those days, the fair was SO MUCH DIFFERENT than it is now.
Now it’s seedy, commercialized, and cheap. In those days, it was different. It was a place for families. It was perfectly respectable, for example, to find your teacher at the fair selling ice cream or fresh local-made pie as a summer job. All your neighbors had pigs, chickens, or livestock competing for a blue ribbon at the county fair. Clowns were the good guys (and on occasion, some of the more fun babysitters I ever had). Travelling acts came through each city with their caravan of trailers and buses and paparazzi, and some of them launched huge musical careers this way. Others stayed in the circuit, with their trick divers, zydeco bands, exotic bird expositions, magic shows, pan flutes, acrobatics, elephant training, and fire-breathing.
All these people were friends of our family. All these people were my neighbors. The carnival was my neighborhood. And I was so very free.
I learned lots of life skills–to this day, I can sense a fight in a crowd before it happens. I can walk through a sea of people and they’ll hardly notice I was there because I won’t bump into anybody. I can sell a bridge to a bridge-builder. I am unafraid to look people in the eye, even when (and especially when) they are trying to be aggressive. I learned what it looks like to be targeted and followed by strange men (very important to know, especially as a little girl). These were things I learned from the general public. Most people trust the public, and look down on the fair folk, but let me tell you: in regards to quality, the truth is actually reversed. I was always in more danger from the general public.
The fair folk were my extended family.
But I also learned a ton from the other families like mine–the ones who travelled, who belonged to this circus-ish world, who saw each other in every city at every fair, and others only once a year at a particular show. My parents were friends with the elephant trainers, who let my sisters and I feed the elephants oatmeal raisin cookies every morning, and ride the elephants any and every time we liked. We knew the people who operated the rides. We sold ice cream to Robin Williams, MC Hammer, and other big celebrities. We knew people who got their start at the fairs, like the makers of those Dippin’ Dots.
And clowns? Again: they were the good guys. And at the fair, they were everywhere. If I needed to get to safety or report some creep-o scaring me, or get a message to anyone, anywhere, I’d go find a clown. They’d help me. Suddenly, there’d be a whole network of people making sure I got safely to where I needed to be. They’d look out for and protect me. You certainly wouldn’t find that now, but let me tell you–back then, they were a network of good guys who did what they did because they cherished the innocent. They were performers who devoted their lives to joy, and protection of the innocence in all of us. And you know what? Most of them had regular day jobs, some of which where pretty prestigious. I think my parents knew of a physician and several of his doctor friends who did moonlighting as clowns at the fair. What, you think Patch Adams started that? No way! He may have been the most famous doctor to don a red nose, but he certainly wasn’t the first.
Stupid Stephen King ruined everything, but that’s another post.
As for the other vendors, we had the same kind of rows of trailers selling stuff that you see at fairs today. But it was different then. The folks who sold Chinese food were actually from China. The folks who sold Native American jewelry belonged to those cultures–and had tons of their lessons, legends, and folklore to share. The folks who sold Mexican food were from Mexico. The folks who sold grandfather clocks were actually from Germany. Then you had families who had trades and skills passed down from generation to generation. Real leatherwork from families with generations of tanners. Photographers from families who had literally every iteration of the camera in their attic since the invention of the camera. Blacksmiths. Engine builders. Inventors–real ones, with their wildest new robotics and ideas that no one else in the world had heard or seen yet.
And dumb jacuzzi salesmen and ridiculous seen-on-tv guys that the rest of us really didn’t pay much attention to. I wish I had known then that it would have been those cheap commercial guys who were going to take over everything.
My point is, walking from one side of the grounds to the other was like entering dozens of different worlds, different countries. Talking to people was amazing–they’d tell me these stories of how they came to America, what they were doing, how they did what they did. Everywhere you look was a human being of a different color, shape, and size. Each one–no matter where they were from–would tell me how glad they were to be in the United States, because they were free to be who they were. This freedom allowed everyone to live peacefully together, even though we were all different–and we were ALL different, with different skills, religions, cultures, folklore, languages….it was SO wonderful. Everywhere you look, someone was doing something different, had a different skill, and it was all interesting.
I imagine heaven looks something like that.
Diversity is Proof that God Loves Us
That’s how I know what I know about diversity. It was woven into the fabric of my understanding of the world, and of God. You see, diversity is God’s way of showing all the multitude of ways that God loves us. That’s why it’s so wonderful that we are all different.
The Changing Tide
Like I said, things changed. The cost of doing business in this way became higher. Soon it was only the commercial guys who could afford to do business, that and the old-fashioned folk who became crooked and lied and cheated their wealth in order to stay in business. You know how in The Hobbit movie when Radagast notices the beautiful forest becoming corrupted by a spreading evil? That’s what it felt like to see my childhood world becoming darker, greedier, needier. My parents always ran a clean business, so in this new market they very soon were losing profits. More and more, the community turned sour and seedy, since only the more money-mongering, villainous characters were able to afford to stay. There were a couple times when it felt like my family was on an island, and things were green and good and safe where we were, but my beautiful childhood was becoming a dangerous place around me. Twice, I saw one man pull a gun on another man and shoot him. I would have been less than ten years old. A couple times, the crowd became so dangerous that my sister and I had to hide under our ice cream counter until my father came to get us–a couple hours of fearful waiting.
At long last, my family had to throw in the towel, sell the business, and return home. We weren’t the only ones. All my wonderful, colorful, beautiful neighbors in all their shapes and sizes, languages, flavors, smells, countries, all had to return home too, one by one, then handful by handful. Back to our drab tiny little towns, where everyone was the same color and the same religion, and didn’t believe my sisters and I when we said we personally knew the elephant in “Operation Dumbo Drop.”
No one in town understood the beautiful thing we had, the beautiful thing we lost, and the process of that, of what we went through. It was hard.
To them, we were abnormal. To them, we had returned home and that finally made sense, we would finally be respectable and fit into the boxes that they had always known for themselves.
I Felt Like We Were A Disney Version of The Addams Family
But we never would really fit in. My dad knew way too much about the wonderful diversity of people, and it made him an amazing teacher to hundreds of students young and old. He had seen and met too many people, had too much of a wide perspective to waste his time being pretentious or snobby like so many of his colleagues, even though he was way way wayyyyy more educated than they. My mom knew way too much about global business from, well, being in the globe and from running a business. She kicked you-know-what and became a global credit expert, one of less than 100 in the whole United States. She was simply too exotic and interesting to fit our town’s assigned role of happy pill-popping waspish cheerleader-uniform-still-drycleaned-in-the-front-of-the-closet Christian housewife. Even some of our distant metropolitan relatives clicked right into the mindset of us being back in the sticks, and for the longest time I wondered if they thought we sat around barefoot on the back porch with banjoes.
I’m proud that my parents had such integrity to run a good and honest business, teaching my sisters and I how to work. They also hired a staff every summer, and I never knew anyone who worked for my folks who didn’t come away much better, as they always took them under their wings and taught them life skills, loaned them money, listened when no one else would, fed them hot meals. Even when we returned back to town for good, my parents turned their attentions to the house and garden. They’ve made it a haven, as gorgeous as anything you’d find in a home magazine. Even so, I bet they wished there was someone close by who could have understood everything they had been through.
And my sisters and I? Well we were always seen as odd. For my sisters, they were frequently seen as exotic, popular, desirable. I wasn’t so lucky. Other kids didn’t understand or trust that I would be open-minded because of the color of my skin, and treated me accordingly. My sisters and I were independent, could run businesses of our own. When I grew up and had my turn for management experience, it was almost as though the other folks thought I was too young to be qualified…little did they know I had been wearing an apron and managing money since before I was in kindergarten. While they were on summer vacation, I was working. I was working in heaven, but hey, it was still hard work.
A Whole New World
Enter the digital age, and PRAISE GOD, too. For the first time since my childhood, I FINALLY had access to the world again beyond my tiny town. Everything changed for me with my first smartphone. I was able to go to school online and compete with people all around the country instead of the little college in my town, and these people really challenged me and helped me grow.
Even my love life was made possible thanks to the access provided by the digital age. In a chat forum, I could talk with people from other countries. How I had missed getting to talk to people from different countries! I chatted with a lady my age in China who told me about university there. I learned about life in Copenhagen from a man who had just moved to the city. Finally, one day I started up a conversation with a man from Argentina.
It was Eugene. I finally met a man who understood what it was like to have a concept of home that travels with you, a man who had a global perspective, who knew how to work hard, who had family values, and knew what it was like to have to leave home and start from scratch. Self-made, could pull himself up by his own bootstraps, could make something from seemingly nothing, who knew the same secrets of this wonderful, colorful world like no one in my town ever could. Plus, he’s also a person who made the best and did his best with everything around him, his entire life. Let me tell you–I knew right away that this was a real man! We started just having friendly conversation, and were very fast very dear friends. But even then, I knew Eugene was someone who would be important to my life.
There are two men in a girl’s life who make all the difference. There’s her father, and there’s The Guy. I knew Eugene was The Guy–the only guy that could possibly have been just right for me in the whole world.
And, I get to be his partner! How amazing is that? I get to add to his life as much as he adds to mine…..*mind blown*….
United as Travelers of Exceptional Variety
Now that I’m grown, and the world is so accessible, I find myself actively seeking out new friends and adventures all the time. I’ve met some truly special people who embody my sense of home–you know, there are just some folks who stay with you through your life, no matter where you wind up going. Experiences are that way, too. I can’t remember the last time I was bored. I can’t remember the last person I met who didn’t have something interesting about him or her. I love people. I love places. I love different cultures. I love being in a country where we get to all be/do/think different things and still come together to stand in favor of the ideas behind one flag, and have a say in developing those ideas, too!
Don’t Worry, There’s a Happy Ending
My town in the valley has gotten a ton better too. Sure, in with the angels come some unsavory types. But all in all, it’s a wonderland. I could walk down the street and hear English, Spanish, Portugese, Tagalog, Mandarin, Assyrian, Hindi, Korean, and more, all in the same afternoon. There are people of all colors, shapes, and sizes in my town. Churches of all shapes and sizes. Cultures of all these different wonderful varieties.
I remember turning 18 and absolutely praying for a way to get out of my valley. I had become so bitter about being treated as odd for so very long. But the world changed. Technology changed. We are all now in a digital age, and the world is so very accessible to anyone who may have an inclination to be curious about how other folks live and think. I grew up during the birth of the internet, and there were lots of bugs to work out with it, let me tell you. Kids today have inherited a world that is so much more accessible. I want younger generations to celebrate! Where I was limited, nowadays kids are so free! I want to show them this great access they have been born with. I’m happy for them-joyful for them, even! I want them to feel good about themselves, and to understand how joyous and wonderful it is that they have these technological gifts!
More than anything, I want to encourage them and others to utilize the gifts they have been given–to be curious, to see the wonder and magic in the world. It’s there!
I’m so excited to be a teacher and work with the students from all of these communities. I hope I can open a door to the same wonderful world of my childhood, where life seems so vibrant, and the world just endlessly full of new faces and friends to meet, places to explore, and interesting things to do! I hope to show them that we’re all journeying, we are all moving around, discovering, being human. I hope to show them that being diverse makes it MORE possible to come together under one set of ideals in a Constitution, not less–MORE possible to have respect for each other, not less–MORE possible to enjoy peace and community in a beautiful country, not less.
It’s a wonderful world. It really is. Not an easy world, not a perfect world. But it is beautiful.
This post contains original copyrighted photos. Do not use without permission.
Have you ever been curious about making pasta?
I was curious lately so I thought I’d do some research and give it a try!
It turns out, pasta making ranges from complicated pastas that require lots of skill to super easy recipes (like this one) which are perfect for any beginner.
Tagliatelle is a long flat noodle that is made by rolling out pasta dough. The dough is then folded on itself and cut into thin strips. When the strips are separated and dried, you have fresh, delicious homemade tagliatelle noodles you can swirl on your fork for a mouthful of simple, rustic Italian decadence.
Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, I opted to use my great grandmother’s scalloped pasta roller to cut my tagliatelle noodles. Even though my great grandmother died when Mom was 5, Mom has tons of memories going to her grandparents’ house. Italian ladies usually do all their cooking in the basement, and my great grandmother was no exception.
Mom, as a tiny girl, used to sit on the steps that went down to the basement and keep her grandmother company while she used this little roller to cut ravioli. She would give my mom a bottle of 7-Up and a straw, and Mom would watch her move like lightning across a huge sheet of rolled homemade pasta. This was a tradition every Saturday.
Nowadays, we keep this tradition on Christmas Eve by eating ravioli. I’m sure Mom still thinks about her Nonna.
I have been reading and studying all about pasta for weeks. Pasta is basically anything you can imagine. Pasta making is sentimental, creative, physical, engages all your senses, and on top of that, is an activity that is both relaxing and rewarding. No wonder so many people do it.
I’m still learning about pasta. What I know for sure, though, is that the BEST kind of pasta is:
Here is my recipe for pasta dough and the steps required to make this scalloped tagliatelle. I hope you’ll try it for lunch or dinner sometime!
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Stir with a fork to evenly disperse salt.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. To this, add eggs, egg yolk, water, and oil.
Use a fork to puncture egg yolks and beat eggs. Slowly incorporate flour until shaggy dough forms.
Turn bowl out onto a lightly floured surface. Mix dough together to combine everything. Knead dough thoroughly for at least 10 minutes, stretching it as much as possible and using the heel of your hand to push it around.
After 10 minutes, dough should be silky and elastic. Form a dough ball. Place ball on wax paper or lightly floured parchment paper. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 10-30 minutes.
After dough has rested, cut dough ball in half. Use a rolling pin to roll out a pasta sheet of desired thickness. Allow sheet to dry for 2-3 minutes. Flour the dough sheet before cutting.
Use a knife or a rolling cutter to cut noodles. I like to use a ruler as a guide. I used a scalloped rolling cutter, hence the name "scalloped" tagliatelle!
Separate noodles with your fingers and place on a floured surface, a flat drying basket, or a floured teacloth.
Drying options: Hang noodles to dry on a hanger or pasta drying rack, gather approx 100 grams of noodles (what you would serve as one portion) and shape into nests–let these dry on a floured or wax-papered sheet and freeze, or cook them and enjoy them right away.
To cook: drop pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Keep watch! These should only take a few minutes to cook. The best way to know if pasta is done is to take out a noodle and taste it!
Here’s a playlist to help you get in the mood while you’re kneading that pasta and cutting those noodles!
Ready to Make Your Own?
Here are some links to products that can bring pasta making into your home. These are affiliate links, which means if you do happen to purchase by clicking them, Amazon will send me a penny or two so that I can continue making posts. Thank you so much for your support, and for letting me share my new pasta passion with you!
The next generation of Nonna’s pasta cutter.
This cutting board is special because it has a lip that hangs over the edge of your countertop. Perfect for kneading pasta dough, since the lip prevents the board from slipping around at all!
Ok, so maybe we can’t be like Nonna every night of the week. A pasta maker machine helps things go along with speed–plus gives jobs for kitchen helpers like spouses or children.
This doubles as a shaper for gnocchi as well!
Even the covers look delicious!
I could go on and on in this post, but I won’t….all this talk about pasta has made me HUNGRY! I gotta go cook something. Buon Appetito, and happy cooking!
You and your sweetheart (or just you, if you’re having an evening for Self Care!) are invited for a romantic walk along the streets of Paris, Milan, and Buenos Aires with a few surprises here and there.
I just wanted to share a playlist inspired by our romantic meals together, when we get to sit just us and enjoy home-cooked meals (he’s quite a chef!) and just being grateful to be together.
This is a nice long playlist, so you have plenty of time to get that table set, light a candle or two, and set the mood with a playlist that Eugene and I curated ourselves. May you have a lovely evening cherishing the people who are important to you, or just cherishing yourself. Partner or not, slow dancing is encouraged.
We recently got together over a coffee and the poor baristas probably thought they had somehow been trapped in an hours-long blogging/philosophy/therapy conference.
Was it worth it? YES.
I am lucky enough to call these women my friends, and if you want to check out what they have to say about things:
PollyAnnie – Annie Glenn shares the ins and outs of her daily adventures as a mom, a Catholic woman, and a professional organizer/makeup artist/actual artist-artist. Basically, she can take anything and show you where there’s beauty in it. Plus, she reads some truly interesting books!
No Body But Yours – Deanna Barnes is a novelist and Catholic convert who explores themes of physical spiritual health and holiness. A professional Caretaker, Deanna knows exactly how it feels to keep compassion, hope, faith, and goodness alive for the sake of our bodies and souls–especially when the going gets tough.
And then there’s me.
That’s one big niche, you got there…
My friends asked me recently what my mission was for this blog, and I had no answer. It wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to say; rather, I had about 20 different possible missions I could give them!
There are so many things I’m passionate about sharing with you: Living well, my joy and dedication to my upcoming marriage and my family, feeling Catholic joy, being curious about books, going on adventures, developing a love of livelong learning, talking about my journey as an educator,…..oh, so many things. I couldn’t choose one. I was bummed.
And all the while, every single blogging advice forum/book/youtube video repeats: “Find your niche, find your niche…..”
What if life is my niche? That makes it kind of hard to narrow things down!! Unfortunately, it also means I can’t write posts because I wind up with several hundred ideas, all wanting to pour out at the same time.
I can’t tell you how much I have ruminated and puzzled ’till my puzzler was sore.
To be honest, I’m still not sure if I could tell you my “mission” per se, but I can tell you who I am and what I know for sure:
WE ARE EXPLORERS
I know contemporary culture depicts a violent, competitive, petty, corrupt, dysfunctional world. But that’s not the world, friends; that’s just society.
The WORLD is big! And good! And fascinating! Seriously: I still marvel over the fact that some weird tree-lookin’ thing grows out of the ground, and it’s free and it’s perfectly made, and if I eat it, it literally keeps me alive! I’m talking about broccoli. Doesn’t that fascinate you? Doesn’t that excite you? It excites me! I geek out over vegetables and tons of other things too, because everywhere you look, there are just more interesting, beautiful things to see.
Let’s get curious!
There are tons more things to explore, so many stories to tell, so many things to share with each other, and it belongs to all of us. That’s why I stand so firmly on the fact that:
EDUCATION IS A LIFELINE
Can you believe we live in a country that has adults whom have never gotten to learn to read? Can you believe that?
Can you believe there are people in our country who have been so spurned by systems that they believe learning is only for one type of person, for only one gender, for only one race, for only one socioeconomic group?
I’m not talking about education in terms of a diploma from somewhere–we already know that those things don’t necessarily mean an education as much as they mean an exchange of a lot of money. Plus, I believe that some people have a talent for trades. We need people doing things, learning things. I don’t care where you get an education from, be it university or trade school or seminary or working in a business from entry-level on up to management, starting a business yourself, or just spending your days in the library. Wherever you get your education from, I want you to get it. And I’m going to help you get it, if I can.
WE ARE A FAMILY
We are a family of humanity, with stories to tell. We are individuals who are all learning, and who all have to come to terms with our relationships with God. We are curiously and wonderfully made. We are not meant to be superheroes, and we are not garbage. We are human. And we are together. So let’s be together, let’s spend some time together, and tell each other what we know.
WRAPPING THINGS UP…
I guess my mission is to show you that life is worth living, and also to invite you to come and get curious about this amazing world with me!