niennie

twenty-something. girly girl. teacher. puppy-enthusiast.


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Can’t win ’em all!

One thing I’ve really started to love about living on my own is being able to experiment with culinary creations.  While making up the menu for this week I was looking through a binder of recipes I had put together, and came across this recipe for chicken and mushrooms in a garlic white wine sauce.  I had made this before and really loved it, so I decided we would have that this week.  But, as I can be a lazy cook, I was just going to throw everything in the crockpot to make things easier on myself.

The sauce was good.  Thin, but delicious.  I made a side of angel hair pasta and spinach, sauteed with some of the sauce.  But for some reason, the meal just wasn’t that good.  It smelled good.  It looked pretty good.  But there was something missing.  My boyfriend did not like it at all.  I liked everything except for the chicken.  End result?  He ate cold leftover pizza; I ate the chicken (because protein), and then packed my usual lunch of leftovers for tomorrow with everything except the meat.

My only consolation is that nobody but my boyfriend and I had to eat it.  I would’ve felt really bad if I had made that for company…  This is why we always test out recipes first 🙂


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Working on a Happy Ending…

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who grew up in an Italian family.  Her mother was a very good cook, and the little girl loved to eat.  While she ate many healthy foods, she ate too much of them.  Sometimes she even ate unhealthy foods, and ate too much of those as well.  When this girl grew up into a young adult, she was overweight by a significant amount.

One day this young woman became sick of herself and joined a weight loss community website where she tracked her food.  The woman began counting calories, working out, and slimmed down quite a lot.  She put herself into the best shape she had ever been in.  Through this website, the young woman fell in love with a young man in a similar situation.  Unfortunately (at first) this young man lived about 3,000 miles away from her, across the country in a very different land from her home.  However, young love is tough to keep apart, and the two started a long-distance relationship over the course of nine months.

Alas, as all long-distance relationships do, it came down to the young woman leaving her family for the strange and unknown land of a very large and mostly conservative state in the south of the country; or the young man leaving his for the wonderful, magical land of New Jersey.  Neither young person would move for the other, and so the relationship ended.

At first this was a major tragedy for the young woman.  She had recently found out she did not get what she thought was the job of her dreams, and she lost who she thought was the love of her life.

(Of course we all know that the universe works in mysterious ways, and both worked out for the better, as now the young woman has both the true job of her dreams and the true love of her life.  But those are different tales).

Because the young woman was devastated from these setbacks, she stopped being so rigid in her routines and meal plans.  Soon she met a new love interest, and due to dating stopped going to the gym as regularly.  Over time, she rebelled against her former stringent diet and began to eat however she felt again.  She let herself get wrapped up in that hedonistic way of life, and she gained back just about all of the weight that she had lost.

Now that young woman hates getting dressed in the morning because her clothes do not fit the way they should.  She hates seeing pictures of herself because she realizes just how much she let herself go.  She hates doing physical activity around other people, because she sees just how out of shape she has become.

Once again the time has come for the young woman to take back control of her life.  Now that she and her love have moved into a home together, and she is responsible for cooking meals, it is easier to make healthy dishes to enjoy.  She has started fresh on her fitness/weight loss community website, and is starting to track her food and exercise again.  She is ready to join a gym and looks forward to losing weight and growing back muscle tone, and just being happy with herself again.

Perhaps you are interested in joining her along her journey.  Perhaps you have a similar story to this young woman.  Perhaps you just want to offer some words of support and encouragement.  She would like that.  You can find her on myfitnesspal.com under the username niennie.

Funny, this young woman began her blog on wordpress in hopes she would use it to write about losing weight, healthy recipes, and the like… but that didn’t seem to come to fruition (yet).


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25 – Flowertown

Flowertown by S.G. Redling

I cannot say enough good things about this book!  The premise of the story is that a 7.5 square mile section in Iowa is quarantined due to a chemical spill that leaked into groundwater supplies and essentially poisoned everyone in this small town.  Order is now just barely kept by military and workers for the chemical company responsible for the tragedy.  All those in the quarantined area are required to take a strict measure of drugs in order to combat the affects of the pesticide and manage their health – or so they think…  Soon, the main character, Ellie, starts to uncover secrets that may change what everyone knows about Flowertown.

I’ve never been particularly good at summarizing a book so that you’ll want to read it (as you snicker and recall my past blog posts about books I’ve read…), which is why I’m stopping that previous paragraph now. Instead, let me just gush for a minute about how amazing the book was.

Everything about it was so well crafted.  The characters were interesting and well developed (except maybe Roman, although that may have been on purpose… Until the end I couldn’t tell if I should trust him or not).  I was impressed by how well the culture of Flowertown itself was fleshed out, from the day to day life to the slang terms that outsiders and insiders used to describe the area.  There was suspense, mystery, humor, and plot twists (oh! the twists!).  I truly could not put it down.

Yeah.  Just yeah.  Go out, find this book, buy this book, read this book.  Actually, it’s on sale right now at Amazon for just $2.  Money well spent if you ask me…


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Must… Re… Lax…

I think you need to be a teacher in order to truly understand the simultaneous joy and horror of taking a personal day.  Here I am, sitting on the couch, relaxed and enjoying a quiet moment at 9:00 in the morning on a weekday.  I’m dressed, hair and make-up done, packed and ready to go to Maine for a long weekend to see my mom’s cousin get married.  It’s so nice to have been able to sleep in (till 7, anyway) and take my time getting ready.

However, as content as I am right now, there’s always that part of my brain saying, “it’s 9:00.  They’re about to start math right now.  Is everything going okay at school?  Are the kids behaving?  Does the sub have any idea of what she is doing?!”

I shouldn’t worry.  I’m entitled to enjoy a day off, aren’t I?  I took a couple of hours to prep for being out.  I left plenty of work for the class to do, and (I’m sure you’re surprised at this) left 5 pages of sub plans with detailed notes about anything and everything that could happen.

There’s one episode of Spongebob (yes, I watch it, and yes, I love it.  I make up for my poor television choices with excellent books, however) that always reminds me of myself.  You know, the one where Mr. Krabs has to go to the hospital and leaves Squidward in charge?  Squidward thinks he can get away with a relaxing day off by letting Spongebob run the Krusty Krab.  But no matter what, he’s too paranoid about what could happen at work that he can’t relax.  Hello, truth.

Ah, well.  These feelings will subside soon enough.  After all, once 2:25 comes, the kids will have been dismissed and I can’t worry about anything anymore except having a wonderful weekend!


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23, 24

Lady of Ashes, Christine Trent

Set in London, 1861, this is the story of a lady undertaker who has little domestic prowess but great skill in planning funerals.  Along the way her husband gets involved in a very sketchy side business, she becomes a favorite undertaker by part of the royal family, and she attempts to solve a murder mystery.  The book was long and had a lot of interesting information about undertaking during this time period.  In the reviews of the book on Amazon, some people said they thought it was boring and tried to teach too much – I disagree.  The parts I didn’t like as much had more to do with the fantasy aspects of the story, or perhaps the love story that was intertwined in the book.  I enjoyed the book regardless of the perfect coincidences and happy ending (which, by the way, left the door wide open for a sequel… oh look, there are several).  Nothing against sequels for this particular book, I just dislike them in general.

 

Life After Theft, Aprilynne Pike

Having finished Lady of Ashes late at night and needing something easy to slip into while reading before bed, I selected this book off of my kindle.  Knowing it was YA fiction meant that it was probably going to pull me in quick and I wouldn’t have to do any hard brain work to get into the story.  This book turned out to be pretty much what I expected.  In life, Kimberlee was a kleptomaniac who lived in an affluent California town.  She stole personal items from hundreds of people – friends, family, school mates, teachers, etc.  After dying in a tragic accident and being stuck as a ghost for months with no one to talk to, she discovers one day that a new guy at her school can see her.  He helps to return the stolen items in hopes that Kimberlee’s ghost will be able to cross over to the other side.  The story line was somewhat cliche, I think, and I felt a little let down with some specific parts.  However, overall, for a YA fiction novel that I got for free, I don’t have too many complaints about this book.  It was a quick, easy read and it fit my needs perfectly at the time I read it.


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21, 22

I can’t believe it took me a month to read two books, but then I remember that in this past month I juggled: moving out into my own apartment with my boyfriend, report cards, completing and submitting my teacher evaluation documentation logs (ugh, Stronge), and all of my regular lesson planning/prep work for school. Also, both books were long ‘uns… not that that’s any excuse because I am a fairly fast reader…

Anyway, 21 was a book called The Banks Of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison.  An interesting story of a man and his son who have carried on their lives after the wife became brain dead from a tragic accident in a swimming pool. The twist is that the husband might lose his job (and health insurance to support said wife) because of a fake video created by students at the school he works at, “showing” him assaulting some teenagers. I enjoyed the book. I don’t think it’s for everyone, as I just don’t feel like it was very exciting or action packed. It may be too slow for some people.

Book 22 was Fay by Larry Brown. Fay is a 17 year old girl, leaving behind the abusive family and childhood in the south in the 1970-80s ish time frame. She has very little to her name, but even walking down the highway with no destination particular is better than staying at home. She meets various types of people along the way, forming and good relationships and some unhealthy ones too. I really enjoyed this story, and the past few days worked hard to get to the end to find out what happens to the characters, only to be left with an extremely vague ending. If you are the kind of person who wants a clear cut, “this is what happened to so-and-so, and so-and-so went on to do this”, you will be severely disappointed. Honestly I personally am going to pretend I didn’t read the last 5 pages or so and create my own ending in my head that I like. I’m okay with that too (what’s that quote? “I reject your reality and substitute my own”?).