Got Gratitude?

gratitude board

I am not especially fond of photos of myself, but this is the only one I could find of my Got Gratitude? classroom bulletin board.  I do not and I repeat, emphatically, do not like creating bulletin boards.  I have only one in my classroom. I come up with an idea at the beginning of the year and I do not change it. For the past few years, I’ve gone with the gratitude theme and I add every thank you note that I receive during the year. Today I came across an article called Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life. I started reading because this is something that I am very interested in. I obviously love to write. I would write this blog even if no one showed up to read it (but I am very grateful to those of you who do- trust me). When I was younger, I kept a diary.  I have no earthly idea where those little books filled with teen-age angst are, but I wish that I did. I also kept one when I got married 35 years ago.  No idea where that one is either unfortunately. I used to write letters when I was upset, pouring out my feelings on paper. I would reread them, my anger usually dissipating, and then burn the letters in our fireplace. When and why did I stop doing that?  Probably when I went away to college.

So, what does keeping a journal have to do with gratitude? Benjamin P. Hardy, the author of the article, had already hooked me, but about halfway through the article he hit upon the subject near and dear to my heart:

Journaling Increases Your Gratitude

Even if you start a journal session in a bad mood, the insight writing brings has a subtle way of shifting your mind towards gratitude.

When you start writing what you’re grateful for, new chambers of thought open in the palace of your mind. You’ll often need to put your pen down and take a few overwhelming breathes. You’ll be captivated not only by the amazing things in your life, but by the awe and brilliance of life in general.

As part of your morning and post-work journaling sessions, be sure to include some gratitude in your writing. It will change your entire life orientation from scarcity to abundance. The world will increasingly become your oyster.

Gratitude journaling is a scientifically proven way to overcome several psychological challenges. The benefits are seemingly endless. Here are just a few:

  • Gratitude makes you happier
  • Gratitude makes other people like you
  • Gratitude makes you healthier
  • Gratitude boosts your career
  • Gratitude strengthens your emotions
  • Gratitude develops your personality
  • Gratitude makes you more optimistic
  • Gratitude reduces materialism
  • Gratitude increases spirituality
  • Gratitude makes you less self-centered
  • Gratitude increases your self-esteem
  • Gratitude improves your sleep
  • Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor by strengthening physiological functioning
  • Gratitude lets you live longer
  • Gratitude increases your energy levels
  • Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise
  • Gratitude helps you bounce back from challenges
  • Gratitude makes you feel good
  • Gratitude makes your memories happier (think of Pixar’s Inside Out)
  • Gratitude reduces feelings of envy
  • Gratitude helps you relax
  • Gratitude makes you friendlier
  • Gratitude helps your marriage
  • Gratitude makes you look good
  • Gratitude deepens your friendships
  • Gratitude makes you a more effective manager
  • Gratitude helps you network
  • Gratitude increases your goal achievement
  • Gratitude improves your decision making
  • Gratitude increases your productivity

Mr. Hardy’s list is much longer than the ones I have come up with on my own, but I truly believe every single one of them. I believe that focusing on what I am thankful for keeps my mind from wandering to the past and all of the things that I wish that I had done differently or the words that I wish I could take back. I try to practice what I preach with my students. We write thank you notes at Thanksgiving, during several of our advisory sessions, and my 8th graders have to write a thank you letter- en français bien sûr, for the writing section of their final exam in my French 2 class.  I give them guidelines and they can write it in advance and bring it to the exam. I promise that I will mail them. I just put letters addressed to Kobe Bryant, Zinedine Zidane, Paul Van Haver (aka Stromae), several sets of grandparents, a dog named Norman, Bertrand, the tour manager for our March France trip (if you ever need a tour guide in Paris or other parts of Paris, check out My Private Paris), three faculty members, one brother, and two sisters in the mail today, keeping a few for myself.

I will begin a journal. Not an on-line one. An old-fashioned one in a notebook, using a favorite pen. (I am truly obsessed with pens. It’s insane.) I will collect quotes and follow guidelines that I set for myself, using some from the article on journaling. I will Dream Big, Have fun, Share (some of what I write), Try new things, Always tell the truth, and do my best.

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I think I may even start with this:

Note to self

What do you think? Do you keep a journal or diary? If so, do you share it with anyone or is it strictly for your eyes only?

Here’s a recipe to be grateful for… JC made these the other night for a potluck dinner.  I ate mine so fast that there was no time for a photo.

Judy’s Cream Cheese Brownies

from Taste of Home

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • FILLING:
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate and butter on high until butter is melted; stir until smooth. Whisk in sugar until blended. Whisk in extracts and eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour mixture. Pour half of the batter into a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Beat together filling ingredients until blended; spoon over batter in pan. Spoon remaining batter over top. Swirl gently with a knife. Bake until filling is set, 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Cut into bars. Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield: 2 dozen.

Bon appétit, my grateful friends and family! Make a gratitude list.  Make it an experiment and see if it makes you feel better.  Tell someone that you are grateful for them. Send a note, an email, a text or call them.  

Summer Vacation Day 2: Sticks and stones

Sticks

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and stones.

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I had a completely different idea for today’s post. Then I took a break from writing and decided to take a hike. It was a stunningly beautiful June day in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Blue skies, 72˚F, cool breeze blowing, quiet. I grabbed my camera, my purse, my walking shoes and set off to acquaint myself with Mr. Moses Cone and his manor.

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I worked in a denim factory for two summers, making Wrangler jeans, with Mama Mildred.  My nephew was born in Moses Cone Hospital, I saw an exhibit of the Cone Sisters’ art, Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters, twice when it came to the Nasher Museum at Duke.  I watched a TV special about the exhibit, produced by UNC-TV, several times. I am very interested in French art and this period of time in history, the late 1800’s-early 1900’s, is fascinating.  Growing up in the mountains I knew nothing about the Cones and Vanderbilts and their palatial estates until I was in high school. Moses, the son of a Jewish German immigrant (his father’s name was Kahn), and his brother made their fortunes in the textile business. There is little mention of his sisters, Claribel and Etta, in many of the articles about him, but they inherited money when their father died and, later, their brothers provided them with an allowance that they used to purchase art. They probably raised at few eyebrows at the time- neither sister married, one became a doctor, and they traveled to Paris, befriending Gertrude and Leo Stein as well as several struggling artists, including Picasso and Matisse. I love this quote from an article written by Edward Cone (yes, a relative) in Forbes magazine about the sisters:

The Cone sisters’ use of the family’s prosperity to collect fine artwork was unparalleled among other women. They were known as eccentrics and had a comical presence clad in their long Victorian dresses. When they went to the opera in Paris, they would buy an extra seat to hold their day’s purchases.

I would have been a hoot to meet those two women.  Can you imagine sitting in a café having a drink with Dr. Claribel, Etta and Gertrude?

collecting

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein and Etta Cone sitting at a table in Settignano, Italy. June 26, 1903. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone Papers, Archives and Manuscripts Collection, CG.12.

I digress.  But I just can’t help myself sometimes.

Looking at that rock wall along one of the pathways on the estate and at the trees while walking along Figure 8 Trail and then during the hike up to see where Moses is buried, I started thinking of the old children’s saying:  Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.  That is a lie. It may be interpreted as you can say what you want, but calling me names won’t hurt me. But I think that words can be very harmful and leave lasting scars and regrets. I wish that I had been more careful with my words over the years. And I wish that others would be as well. Every single day I work at watching what comes out of my mouth.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.  But I do try.

On the other hand, putting into words how you feel about someone is a gift.  I received several gifts of letters last week. I have two of them in my purse now.  They are from a couple of girlies I taught for three years, from the day they arrived as new 6th graders at my school. I am notoriously known as a tough, strict teacher. Oui, moi!  I tell everyone that I would not have survived 37 years in middle school otherwise.  I do set high standards, give nightly homework assignments, and expect them to practice in class what they are learning (learning a second language is not a spectator sport), but I temper it with care and respect. And fun. And food. To paraphrase the girlies…

From Girlie #1:

On my first day of French in 6th grade, I walked into class wanting to be in Spanish & pronouncing “bonjour” wrong. Now, I am proud to say that I can carry on a meaningful conversation in French and that French has become, by far, one of my favorite classes.  Even though it has been a lot of hard work and practice, taking French with you has taught me about overcoming challenges… I have been doing some thinking. And I have no idea where I would be without French & you as my teacher.  Not only have I learned French, I have been able to grow, bond, and make friendships outside of my normal friend group… So, madame, in conclusion, thank you. I don’t know if you knew how much you have done for me but I wanted to let you know before I left the middle school.

From Girlie #2:

I have come to realize that there are not enough words or phrases (in French or English) to describe and show how much you have influenced me.  French is, to say the least, one of the hardest classes I have had. You made me look forward to learning it though. It will always confuse me how much I loved the hardest class, but your passion for the language rubs off. You made the class seem like a love letter to the language that you just read out loud. I have heard around 540 love letters. Honestly, I’m very excited for high school, but the thought of you not teaching me is one of the only things I can’t let go of… Thank you for showing us all tough love because while in sixth grade I was slightly terrified, it showed us how much you cared about all of us. You care, and I would like to think that most people in my life do but the truth is there are only a handful that do…  This is my first fan letter.

They know that I write thank you notes and fan letters. From a note of appreciation to our computer guru (and my personal garlic dealer) to Pierre Hermé in Paris to thank him for making such delicious macarons. (I’ve yet to meet him, but there is always the next trip.) I feel honored that these two amazing young women took the time to write to me.  (And now that I have copied some of what they wrote here, it will be less traumatic if I misplace the letters, just as Claribel Cone lost a $15,000 check sent to her by one of her brothers by placing it in the pocket of one of her skirts, according to the article in Forbes!)

Today was also a day for wildflowers.  Much to my friend KR’s dismay if she sees this post, I do not know the names of but one or two of them.  Some are even considered weeds, I guess.

The purple rhododendron are my favorite.  I only found a couple of bushes in bloom.  A bit too early yet.

Can you see the face??

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And what does this rock, collected for the BFF, look like?

nc rock

North Carolina, of course!

I made it to Moses’ grave.  He is buried with his wife, Bertha.

grave

The view from his final resting place isn’t shabby.

cemetery view

If you are out driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a stop at Moses Cone Memorial Park would be well worth your time.

And last but by no means last… on my way to the cemetery, I walked by a cow pasture. I am overly fond of cows. And I don’t mind the smell of cow patties.

cow pasture

Now, with that in mind (or maybe not), I will leave you with a recipe for something delicious that is sometimes called a Cow Patty. Many thanks to my mother-in-law for sharing this recipe with me 30+ years ago.  I would love to make some right now, but it will have to wait. I am not in my own kitchen.

Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies
(recipe from my mother-in-law)

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 c. oatmeal

Combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa.  Bring to boil and boil for one minute.  Add vanilla and peanut butter.  Stir until peanut butter is melted.  Add oatmeal and stir until it is well-coated.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper and place in refrigerator until cooled. (Lick the bowl just to make clean up easy.)
Makes about 3 dozen.

Bon appétit to all!  Write someone a genuine, heartfelt thank you note.  Heck, even write one to yourself.  You deserve it.

Summer Vacation Day 1: A porch with a view

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Well, Summer Vacation, the 2017 Edition, is officially underway. There is the minor detail of about 20 student comments that still have to be written, but I have until Monday at 5:00 pm. Hours and hours. At the last minute, I decided to book myself into a writer’s retreat. Remember, in the last post I said I have a new writing project. I also just needed to get away for a few days all by myself. I spend my days during the school year doing for others from 7:30 am until 5:15 pm Monday through Friday. And I am pretty worn out right now. I need some peace and quiet. And I have found it. Just a short distance off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Where I hear birds calling, hummingbird wings beating, and an occasional fish splashing around in the small pond just beyond the porch where I am rocking. The sun is starting to set. The clouds are taking on a pink hue.

sunset
I imagine I will see a few lightening bugs soon. I will remember chasing after them as a little girl and trapping them in a mason jar with holes poked in the lid so that they could get some air. I am back in my hills.

mountains1

This is where I spent the first 22 years of my life, with the exception of a few months spent in France between my sophomore and junior years of college.

Friends/colleagues I’ve taught with here in Durham for many years are beginning to retire. Every year now someone significant will leave.  It began a couple of years ago. It won’t be easy for me. C’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?  JC this year. She will still coach and I will see her as often (or maybe more often) than I do now, but somehow the thought of opening meetings next fall without her make me sad.  Not for her, needless to say. She will find plenty to occupy her free time– sewing, exercising and traveling have been mentioned. All fine ideas. She and hubby are headed to France for two weeks in July. Bravo! They will have a blast. I am so proud and happy for them. Enough of that or I will make myself cry.

I roamed around for a short while this afternoon admiring the flowers in the small town I am near.

I found a little girl to sit next to.  I didn’t strike up a conversation because she was totally engrossed in her book. I thought of this same scene happening in a few years but with Miss K by my side. Joy. I hope she will love to read as much as her Gramma does.

reading

reading girl

Night has fallen.  It’s getting chilly.  The birds are now silent.  And I am getting sleepy. Day 1 has been a good one.  Tomorrow the writing begins in earnest.  Wish me sweet dreams and luck.

I am thinking of cherry scones.  It’s about time to find ripe juicy cherries in the local grocery stores.  I’ve missed them since last summer! I will go back to a past post for my favorite recipe to share. I recently found another recipe I want to try.  Crumpets. Reminded me of scones. But I digress…

From July 13 2011:

My new friend Teresa Lust (she isn’t in on the friendship yet) devoted a chapter of her book Pass The Polenta to the currant scones that a very good friend makes.  She can’t divulge the real recipe, only her approximation of it.  And, according to Teresa’s research, the scone is a Scottish invention.  Maybe that’s why I love them so much.  As good a reason as any, n’est-ce pas?  But it is difficult to go wrong with butter and cream.  And red juicy cherries.  I’ll try currants another day.

Currant Scones
(from Pass The Polenta and other writings from the kitchen by Teresa Lust, Random House, 1998)
makes 8 scones

2 c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, chilled, cut in pieces
1 c. heavy cream, chilled
1 c. currants (I used fresh cherries, pitted and chopped in quarters)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter, then toss with your fingers to coat each piece with flour.  Work the mixture with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-sized lumps of butter still remaining.  Drizzle in the cream, stirring the mixture with a fork, until it just comes together.  Alternatively, combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor, add the butter, and process with quick pulses until it is just incorporated.  Add the cream in a thin stream, and pulse only until the mixture starts coming together.  Do not over-process.  Turn dough out onto a cutting board, sprinkle in the currants, and knead lightly half a dozen times or so, until the dough forms a ball.  (I had to add about 1/4 c. more flour because the dough was very sticky.  Sprinkle the cutting board with flour, as well as your hands, before diving into the dough.)  Pat the dough into a circle 3/4-inch high.  Dip a pastry brush into the lightly beaten egg and baste the dough-circle.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Bon appétit and happy summer vacation to all!  Bonnes vacances!  May you find a quiet spot to rest and regroup.

 

The end is in sight

macaron and tex

It is the eve of my exam.  Wonder how much the kiddos have studied?  Foreign language exams are last this year… the only thing standing between my students and 10 weeks of freedom is me.  And pages of verbs, adjectives, object pronouns, etc.  You get the picture. Hope you aren’t having flashbacks.  We still have practice for the closing ceremony for the 8th graders followed by lunch tomorrow.  The ceremony is on Thursday. A couple of days of meetings for the weary teachers.  Exams to grade.  Grades to enter into Veracross.  Progress reports to write.  Then freedom for me.

Today I received the beautiful plate of homemade pink macarons from my room parent. One of the 8th grade girlies gave me the armadillo.  I use a website, Tex’s French Grammar, put together by the University of Texas-Austin. The main character is Tex, an existentialist poet who just happens to be an armadillo.

char_tex

Yes, he smokes.  No, I do not approve.  Yes, he indulges in a glass of red wine from time to time.  The kiddos know that they cannot do this legally until they are 21. The grammar explanations are great.  The kiddos love to listen to the voices, especially Joe-Bob, the squirrel from College Station.

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I am partial to Paw-Paw, Tex’s Cajun granddad.

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I really want to go to Austin and meet the geniuses who created this website.  And now I have a little stuffed Tex to keep me company in my classroom.  Merci, EM!

I will make a trip up to the mountains to visit the relatives and hopefully see a few friends from the Class of ’76.

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Last year, before our reunion, some of us got together at Spoon, a great little place on Upper Street.  It’s the craft cocktail slingin’ counterpart to knife & fork restaurant, to quote the website.  Knife & Fork is on Lower Street, by the way.

beach

We will have our annual family week at Sunset Beach.  We all really look forward to a week when the most important decision we make is who will go back to the house to refill the cooler and make sandwiches for lunch.  Guess it was my turn that day since my chair is empty?

I have a few projects to accomplish around the house.  Organizing the notecards that I have made from my photos, go through bookcases to see if there are some books I can give away, clean out my closet.  You get the idea.  I also plan to write.  I have a new idea.  I’ve taken some notes and have the beginning of an outline.  That’s all I have to say at the moment.

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The BFF and I have pledged to get up early and walk before she has to go to work and before it is too damn hot and humid to do much besides sweat.  I am thinking 6 am, but I am an early riser.  We’ll see what the BFF thinks.

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I plan to hear some music.  There are several spots around town where the concerts are free.  We went out to Southpoint Mall last weekend to hear Big Time.  Mr. BFF is in the band.  A talented fellow.  I can’t help myself when he is singing Love Shack or Give It to Me Baby.  Just got to dance.  And attempt to embarrass him.  Not possible, but I won’t give up!  Mr. BFF, Tracy King aka Sweet T, was a member of The Castaways back in the day.  I can’t help but post this photo… (top row right)

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Last, but by no means least, I will play Gramma and spend more time with the Most Amazing Girl.  She is already 3-1/2 months old.  I cannot wait. Bonding time. Oui, elle est belle!

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Today’s recipe, just in time for summer so that you don’t heat up the house by using the oven.

chicken salad

Chicken Salad

adapted from Inside Brucrew Life

Shredded chicken from 1 rotisserie chicken

1-1/2 c. finely chopped pecans or almond slivers (I toast them to bring out the flavor)

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 c. halved red seedless grapes

Salt and pepper, to taste, if desired

1 c. sour cream

1 c. mayonnaise (today I used a mixture of Duke’s mayo and Just Mayo Chipotle flavor)

I c. finely chopped fresh dill, if desired (I left this out)

In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, nuts, celery, and grapes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.

Whisk together the sour cream and mayonnaise.  Add the dressing to the chicken mixture and gently toss to coat.

Cover and refrigerate.  It’s best if allowed to chill for 2 hours so that the flavors can meld.

Bon appétit and happy summer to all.  Bonnes vacances!  Be sure to slow down a bit, if possible, and smell the flowers.  Gardenias are presently blooming in my corner of the world.  Heavenly.

gardenia

 

 

Looking back, moving forward

ET with K&K

This is Waterproof Mascara time.  In my chosen profession, saying good-bye can be overwhelming.  A time of joy and a time of sadness.  All jumbled up.  Moments of unbelievable fun fill up my days and years as a teacher.  As I say jokingly (but not really) at this time of year, I get attached to the little angels (or rats, depending on the day and my/their mood).  It is just plain old hard to say good-bye, even as my heart is filled with love and excitement for them. These two are especially near and dear to my heart.  They graduated on Friday on an incredibly beautiful Carolina blue sky day on the campus of UNC.  Daniel Wallace, an author I admire, gave the commencement speech.  It wasn’t too long or filled with lofty wisdom- wisdom, yes, but delivered in his own way.  The entire graduating class sang.  I cheered as many of them crossed the stage to get the coveted diploma.

These two girls are examples of our best.  Tall Blond has accomplished more already than I ever will.  She went to France twice with me.  I was afraid that she would be snatched up by an agent or designer during Paris Fashion Week when she was in 8th grade. Seriously.  Long legs and an amazing sense of style.  Check out these boots that she told me she saved her babysitting money for and then wore them on the trip. I wish I could pull that off. In my next life.

katie's boots

In the middle of the top photo is my “Macaron” as she dubbed herself one day. Do I love that brave young woman?  With all of my heart.  She came to DA as a sixth grader. Sixth graders with no language experience get stuck in beginning French with moi. (Thank you, Ed the Head.  This class is often the highlight of my day.) It is my job to brainwash them and convince them to stick with me for three years. My Macaron did just that, even when the going was tough. She wasn’t able to travel to France with me with she was in 8th grade, but in 10th grade she asked if I would take her.  Tall Blond asked to go along again as well. I did not have to think twice about that.

katie kyla back

Those two had some fun.  They discovered a thrift shop in the Marais and had a grand time.  (My personal favorite way to shop.) I later discovered that Macaron had a suitcase just for her shoes!  Lord have mercy.

I often look back at photos of past trips.  Each trip with students over the past 30 years holds special moments.  The year it snowed and we detoured to Rouen instead of the D-Day beaches.  My first time there.  It was very moving to see the spot where Jeanne d’Arc was burned at the stake.

joan of arc site

Paris covered in snow is quite special as well.

The years of exchanges with schools in Senlis and Villeneuve-lez-Avignon.  Trying to fill them up with do’s and don’ts before being whisked away by their French families.

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Going horseback riding in the Camargue. I was the only injured one, thank goodness, and not one student witnessed me being thrown from the huge white beast.  No photos exist.

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1987.  My first student trip.  Arles.  Foreshadowing, for sure.

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Making crêpes with Chef Érick in Arles. A very happy girl, n’est-ce pas?

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The trip with Son #2 (Son #1’s class didn’t get a trip… 9/11 happened.)

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A couple of the annual countdowns…

I will continue to put on the waterproof mascara (Lancôme’s Hypnôse Drama is my current favorite) each morning for the next couple of weeks as I bid this year’s 8th grade class farewell.  Most of them will make the journey to our upper school, just a couple of miles down the road.  A few will transfer to public school or to boarding school.  One will move to Florida.  I will miss seeing their smiling (or grumpy) faces every day.

Just a week or so ago, I made biscuits for my advisees.  Several of them had never had a homemade biscuit.  Lord have mercy.  Bless their hearts.  They scarfed them down and one girlie asked for the recipe.  Here you go, honey.  Make them your-own-self this summer!  I have used many recipes over the years.  I do not use shortening, opting for butter instead.

biscuit

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

recipe from Food.com

makes about 10 biscuits

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal
  4. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined.
  5. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured board.
  7. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it’s about 1/2″ thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick.
  8. Use a round cutter dipped in flour to cut into rounds. (or cut into squares using a sharp knife dipped in flour- you won’t have to knead the dough again and you won’t waste any)
  9. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.
  10. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other.
  11. If you like”crusty” sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.
  12. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom. Do not over bake.

Bon appétit to the Class of 2017!  Bonnes vacances!  Have fun.  Be safe.  

Green with envy/Verte de jalousie

green-guy

I know, I know.  Red and pink are supposed to be the colors now.  Valentine’s Day approaches. And I love hearts, flowers, and good dark chocolate.  Oh!  And don’t forget champagne. However, I am seeing green.  First, an author sent me an email asking me to review his book about living in Provence.  I jumped at that chance and the book is in the mail as I type this up.  More about that very soon since I will devour the book tout de suite.  (And I am thinking about offering a giveaway…) Next, Mme P from Pujaut sent me a link to a very funny AMERICAN stand-up comedian speaking FRENCH like a Français and making JOKES in French.  My jokes in English aren’t all that funny (just ask my students), but joking around and making people laugh in French?  Pas moi.  Pas possible.  This character, Sebastian Marx, has been living in France for 10 years.  I’ve been studying the language for 40+ years.  Ah oui, I’ve lived there a couple of times for a few months.  Voilà la différence.  It is indeed what I tell the kiddos and their parents.  We teachers cannot make you fluent.  We can stuff/cram/beat vocabulary and verbs into your darling little heads, but you can only become fluent by living the language.  C’est vrai.  And I never stop dreaming of moving over and doing just that once again.  Am I just a big romantic?  Do I put France and French up on a pedestal the way some of my French friends claim?  While I contemplate that for a few more minutes, watch this video of Sebastian and see what you think.  Funny guy.

If you don’t understand, maybe it’s time for you to move to France and learn French…  Just a suggestion.  We could start a commune.  And pledge to only speak French.  And cook good food.  And listen to good music.  And grow lavender.  And drink rosé year round.  And invite all of our new Frenchie friends over for apéritif. And hang our laundry outside to dry.  To heck with clothes dryers.  And ask everyone we meet “Ça va?” 

It’s just a thought worth thinking and daydreaming about.  So, I think that I will go do just that while whipping up some tapenade à la Fanny.  Oui, chef!

tapenade

Tapenade à la Fanny

2 cans of black olives, pitted
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced (remove the skin and the germ)
Olive oil
5-6 anchovy filets (without the oil)
2 tsp. capers

Put all ingredients in a food processor and mix. Do not over process.  Add enough olive oil to obtain the proper consistency.

If you want to read (or reread) about the wonderful time I had hosting Fanny and Olivier at my house, click here.

Bon appétit and Happy Février!  Keep eating and laughing. And daydreaming.

Snow 2017

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(photo taken by C. Bland)

2017 has barely begun and we have our first snow “storm.”  Well, okay, it is a blizzard for us here in the piedmont section of North Carolina.  The photo my sister-in-law sent is from the mountains where she lives.  I took a photo of her vélo at Thanksgiving and gave it to her in the form of a notecard for Christmas.

cindys-bike

She returned the favor this morning via Facebook.  It looks beautiful in the snow. Or sous la neige, as the French say.  Under the snow.

It’s the perfect day to stay in the house.  Read, straighten out and put away my messy Christmas wrappings, make a stack of the things I need to pack for my upcoming trip to Paris, charge camera batteries, make note of addresses for postcards, update birthdays in my calendar, and make gingerbread.

gingerbread

While doing some of that straightening, I came across some thank you notes written to me by students just before the winter break.  One of the math teachers at my school gives his students a point of extra credit if they write a note to one of their teachers.  (I am tearing up again just looking at them…)  They will be added to my Gratitude bulletin board when on Monday (IF we have school).  These notes are the reason I teach, why I am sure that I am doing exactly what I was meant to do with my life.  Sure, I teach French verb conjugations, try to brainwash middle schoolers into thinking that studying French is the most amazing part of their day, but that isn’t my most important job.

I am very hesitant to post these notes.  It sounds as if I am trying to hold myself up above others and say “Look at me- I am such an amazing teacher.” Oh no.  I have so many self-doubts.  Am I teaching them what they need to know before they move on to French 3 and high school?  My lesson plans are not that exciting.  Why don’t I spend more time on them? (Because I do need to sleep at least 6 hours every night?)  Am I up-to-date on the latest research in language acquisition?  No.  I don’t even have a master’s degree.  I met with our head of school a few weeks ago and he was kind of surprised when I admitted that. I wish that I had done it right after I graduated, but then again, maybe I would have never found Durham Academy.  Am I just too old?  Have I become too old to know what adolescents are facing?  Am I too old-school? Do my younger colleagues look up to me or think that I should retire soon?  I am an expert at French 1, 2 and 3.  Teach AP?  Not on your life.  Am I fluent?  Yes, but I don’t know everything/enough.  I have nightmares where I cannot speak a word of French or every time I say a word with an “r” in it, I cannot for the life of me make the French “r.”  And everyone laughs.  I know that I am lucky- I teach in an independent school with motivated kids.  I can only hope that I do indeed make a difference in their lives.

But enough of my (abundant) insecurities.  The reason I was inspired to write this post is because I saw an article this morning written by a math teacher entitled “What even IS good teaching?”  I understood completely what the author was trying to say.  Thank you, Crazy Math Teacher Lady.  You ARE really really awesome.  I get it.

Here are some excerpts, unedited.  They are, after all,  middle schoolers and not 100% perfect…

“This year has really been fun.  Having you since 7th grade has been awesome.  I have learned so much about French and life.  You make learning French super fun.”

Merci, but I KNOW for a fact that it is not always super fun.  But thank you for sitting in the front row and making me want to be a better teacher. And for staying awake first thing in the morning even when I know you are exhausted (because I kept you out late at a performance of An American in Paris at the DPAC).

“We had the opportunity to write letters to different teachers in math.  You came right to my mind.  You are truly an influence and role model to me.  You love your students so much and it encourages me to work harder and do my best in your class.  Your  honestly like a mom to LW and me and I am so greatful for that.  I know that if I am having a bad day or just need to talk you will actually listen.”

Oui, I do love you.  That’s why I was Mme Grincheuse the other day when you and some of your pals decided to hang out after school, but no one knew you were there.  I am your mom while you are at school.  I take your well-being very seriously.

“Thank you for teaching me French this year!! Although, there have been slight hiccups along the way, this year has been very fun.  I may be riding on the B train right now I think that something has clicked and I am understanding the language more than ever.  I look forward to the France trip!”  P.S.  le beurre de cacahuète

The B train has good, comfortable seats, too.  Keep eating peanut butter and making me laugh out loud!

“I hope that you have an amazing holiday!  This is the time of year when you look back at what you are thankful for and appreciate.  I appreciate you as a teacher.  Your rigorous class always keeps me motivated and you always make me smile.  For the year and a half I have been in your class, you have taught me to how to be a mindful student.”

You are all a teacher could hope for in a student.  I have a feeling that you have always been mindful!  Your smile and quiet presence in my class are a gift.  I should be thanking you for making me look good.

“I have learned an unbeliveable amount of French in just a year and a half.  You always seem to care about your students and I will definitely remember you as a great teacher.”

And I will always remember you and how hard you have worked in my class. It hasn’t always been easy and I know that you have shed more than a few tears of frustration.  But you have stuck with it and now you are reaping the rewards.

“Thank you.  Thank you for all you have done.  While I may not be the best student in French, you have always made me feel important in the class.  You make everyone feel welcomed.  In 6th grade, I was new.  I had French class B period so it was one of the first things I experienced at DA.  In that class I never felt new.  I can’t imagine middle school without you teaching me.”

Well, thank YOU for making everyone in your class feel important.  I have noticed that you work with classmates who don’t have a partner.  I saw you walking around with new students at recess the first week of school.  You didn’t do it so that I would notice and praise you.  You did it because you sincerely wanted to.  Your beautiful smile is a daily gift to all.

“I wanted to thank you for the wonderful time I have had in your class.  You have made French class so much fun for me, in a way that inspires me to love learning.  I love how your class is so interactive and hands-on, and I never expected to have this much fun in a class, and I look forward to class every day.  You are a great teacher who knows when to be serious and when to be fun.  To be able to not only teach a language but to teach kids to love learning is a special quality.”

I am so glad you decided to come to my school this year.  We are the lucky ones. You make me laugh every single day.  And, although you are a very serious student and a worrier of the first order, you are able to laugh at yourself.

“Bonjour!! Merry Christmas.  Thank you for being the best French teacher ever.  You have made — and I not only better at French but just at being better people.”

Oh, how I will miss you and your smiling face at the end of this year.  French isn’t easy for you, but you come to class with a huge smile on your face every single day.  You are amazing.  Never, ever forget that.

So, how about one more beautiful mountain photo of snow.  And a biscuit recipe. Everyone loves biscuits, right?

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(photo taken by H.H. Wise, near Spruce Pine, NC)

All-Purpose Biscuits Biscuits

Sam Sifton, New York Times

6-8 servings

2 c. all-purpose flour, more for dusting (I use King Arthur, non-bleached)

2 Tbsp. baking powder (preferably aluminum-free)

1 scant Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

5 Tbsp. cold butter, unsalted (European-style, if possible– higher fat content)

1 c. whole milk (can substitute buttermilk)

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, sat and sugar in a large bowl.  (I use a whisk and skip the sifting.) Cut butter into pats and add to flour.  You can use a food processor and pulse 5-6 times or use a pastry cutter or even a fork.  (I have a pastry cutter and do it that way.)  Mixture should resemble rough crumbs.  If using a food processor, return dough to bowl.  Add milk and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball.
  2. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and pat it down into a rough triangle, about an inch thick.  Fold it over gently and pat it down again.  Cover dough loosely with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 425˚F.  Gently pat out the dough some more so that it makes a (roughly) 10 x 6 rectangle.  (You can keep it thicker if you want bigger, but fewer biscuits.)  Cut biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter.  Do not twist the cutter when cutting- it crimps the edges and your biscuits will not rise as high. (I cut mine into squares, using a sharp floured knife.  I do not have to work the dough again, which can lead to a tougher biscuit.)
  4. Place biscuits onto a cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper) and bake until golden brown, 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with butter, honey, jam, or whatever your little heart desires.

biscuits

Bon appétit!  Stay warm!

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”   –Abraham Lincoln

Happy New Year!

cookies

Some people make New Years Resolutions on January 1.  Not me.  My new year starts on the first day of school every fall.  I have started school every August of my life since 1963 or 1964.  I have officially survived the first week of of  year 37.  Wow.  I am starting to sound old- even to me.  But I still love it.  New pencils and notebook paper.  Neat classroom. Smiling faces looking at me, with just a hint of apprehension and melancholy at the end of summer vacation.  Big hugs from colleagues and former students.

I don’t especially love meetings, but this year we had a faculty development day with Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee  leading us in a discussion about how to develop cultural competency at our school.  What a gifted speaker.  Ms. Lee speaks honestly, from the heart, and throws in enough humor and personal stories to keep her audience awake and engaged in what she has to say.  Diversity comes in many shapes and sizes.  Some wear it on their faces.  Some do not.  If I make a single student feel the anxiety I felt during this workshop when the question of socio-economic class during childhood came up, I must change what I say and how I say it.

I do love seeing all my colleagues/friends again after 10 weeks away from them.  The middle school faculty spent some time sharing photos of our summer adventures.  I didn’t leave North Carolina this summer, but I was fortunate enough to visit the mountains and the beach.  I read (The Nightingale and City on Fire were my two favorites, for very different reasons), baked, walked for miles and miles on the beach with the Ex-Ex, Son #2, and my sister Moo looking at the waves and searching for shells, stuck my toes in the Toe River, zip lined in Plumtree, visited Mama Mildred, and just generally goofed off.  We teachers call this “recharging our batteries.”  Because after 10 months with middle schoolers, they run real low.

On the first day of school, Son #1 and EB surprised me by leaving goodies on my kitchen counter.

bags

EB works at Bull Street Market and they have all kinds of deliciousness there.  She knows me well, from Costières de Nîmes rouge to sea salt chocolate to Big Spoon peanut butter.  I even found a recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies on their blog, but the question is, will I use this jar for cookies or just open it up and eat it with a spoon whenever I feel like it?  Hmmm.  I will try to decide by the time I finish this blog! (But I have an egg out warming to room temperature just in case.)

Son #2 surprised me with a bouquet of flowers.  (Shocked would not be too strong a word, but I don’t want to sound as if I would never have expected this in a thousand years.)

flowersG

I confessed to him that the Ex-Ex and I saw a charge for flowers when we checked his bank account 10 days ago or so.  I thought he had a secret girlfriend, but I was forbidden to be nosy and ask him.  Lol  was his response to that.

I have such good boys.  I love them more than life.  And EB is our added bonus.  I love her, too.

I look at these faces everyday.  Son #2 turned 24 this week. How did that happen so fast?

jake and g

One of the girlies in my new advisory group brought me three of her homemade chocolate chip cookies.  I shared one with the Ex-Ex.  They were excellent.  Bravo!  She told me that the recipe is a family secret and I respect that.  I did find an article just today, though, on how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie according to your own preferences using the Nestle Tollhouse Recipe.  The Science Behind Baking The Most Delicious Cookie Ever. Some research of my own may be necessary.

An 8th grade jeune homme, returning to my class for French 2 this go around, brought me the colorful  macaron erasers pictured above.  They look good enough to eat, but I think I will leave them to decorate my desk.  Such sweet kiddos.

Back to the resolutions part of this post.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure and I like to keep it manageable so that I am not riddled with guilt.

  1. Walk more.  Try to get that 10,000 step Fitbit buzz every day.
  2. Continue my Gratitude Project, expressing my thanks daily to someone who has helped me.  Who doesn’t love cookies?  Or a thank you note?  Or a hug?
  3. Keep things in perspective.  First World Problem or a genuine crisis?
  4. Look for silver linings.  There almost always is one.  Blessings in disguise.

And now, back to cookies.  Can’t resist trying a new recipe and warming up the oven.  I will take some to Son #1 and EB for a taste test.  The Ex-Ex will miss out this time.  He is off on an adventure for the next few days.

 

big spoon

Amazing Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Big Spoon Roasters blog

24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

One 10 oz jar Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Butter  I used Vanilla Peanut Sorghum– minus a couple of spoonfuls- I admit- one must taste one’s ingredients, people, Quality Control, you know
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar  I was a bit short and used Spices and Tease caramel sugar to make up the difference- a gift from one of my girlies
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda

INSTRUCTIONS

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
– Mix all ingredients together in a mixer until well blended.
– Scoop into even-sized balls (well compacted – the dough is crumbly and a bit oily)
– Flatten each ball slightly with a fork (we make a cross-hatch).  I tried the cross-hatch thing but my fork kept sticking to the cookie dough so I just flattened the second tray with the back of a spoon; I sprinkled some Hawaiian Island Salt Company’s Diamonds of the Sea salt given to me by Judy C aka Joan of Arc aka IronWoman on top of the second tray– definitely a good idea!
– Bake on parchment paper at 350 degrees F for 11-12 minutes.  Mine were done at 10 minutes.
– Leave on the tray for at least five minutes after removing from oven (the bottoms should not burn) as they are delicate until slightly cooled.
– Make friends.  If you decide to share, that is.

 

Bon appétit and Happy New Year to all students and teachers!  Be your best self and make it a great year!

Gratitude Project

This is an earlier post that I am moving over from my original blog.  It is one of my most meaningful experiences and I like to look back on it often.  It keeps me grateful and less likely to get wrapped up dramas or concerns that I cannot control.

Can you teach someone else to be grateful?  Do you just live it by example?  Why is it so difficult to just accept what we have and live each day with a grateful heart and mind?  Is it true that if you practice gratefulness daily that it will become a habit?  Research has shown that it takes 21 days to form a habit.  That is just three short weeks.  504 hours, part of which is spent sleeping.  30,240 seconds.  1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi 3 Mississippi.  While googling the topic, I found an interesting article on Psychology Today about happiness.  10 Ways to Make Yourself Happier in 30 Seconds or Less.  It’s worth a read.  Gratitude is in there.

Tracy Wilson, a woman I know here in Durham has also started a daily gratitude journal.  I have subscribed to her updates and enjoy reading them now each morning, along with Sean Dietrich‘s Facebook posts. (If you are not a FB user, I’ve linked his website.)  It is how I choose to begin my day.

Now, back to my original Gratitude Project post.

Abby is a very wise young lady.  I continue to be amazed by her.  And I am so grateful that we bonded last school year.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mrs E:

What happens when a student and a teacher make a lasting impact on each other?  I realize that I have only known Abby for two years, but somehow it seems much longer.  There are a lot of things I could say about Abby, but this video will tell you part of our story.  See for yourself what an amazing young woman she is.
Many thanks to SoulPancake and their video on The Science of Happiness.  We used a short excerpt from the video.  If you wish to watch it in its entirety and find out more about their project, click on the link.
Many thanks also to the amazing Mr. Fitz who shared the video with us and inspired us to do our presentation in front of the whole middle school!
And finally, I would like to thank the incredible Abby who makes me want to be a better teacher and person every single day.  I refuse to think about next school year without you and your classmates.
We’ll always have Paris, Abby… and the Plaza Athénée and Dr. Lantieri –what great adventures! I hope that we will have many more!

Abby:

If you watched the video, I hope you understand the reason why showing appreciation is so important. You never know how far a simple thank you, phone call, email, or just a smile could go. And you don’t have an infinite amount of time with the people you love either. For me, showing my gratitude, as simply as sending a letter, led me to having one of the best relationships of my life. I’ve realized that life is short, and there is so little time to stay the things you mean to the people you love, so say them while you can.


Abby’s Queso Dip

1 lb or 16 oz of Velveeta, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 lb ground sausage
1 can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, undrained

1. Cook the ground sausage in a saucepan until browned, strain all the grease out and put the sausage back into the saucepan.
2. Add the Rotel and Velveeta, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the Velveeta is completely melted, stirring frequently.
3. Serve warm with tortilla chips, I recommend Tostitos Scoops because you can scoop up a ton of queso with those things, they’re also good for making these really good mini nachos by the way.

Bon appétit, y’all.  I hope that you have someone in your life to be grateful for each and every day. Tell them.  Start your own Gratitude Project.  You will be amazed at the results.

Letting go

Issy and me

I’ve probably already used this title.  It’s my theme for early June.  Another school year has come and gone.  My 36th.  And as excited as I am for summer, it is difficult to let go.  Oh, the 8th graders are ready for high school, whether they know it or not.  Some are nervous, some are excited, some are just plain oblivious because a two month break from homework, tests, quizzes, and projects is all they can see at the moment.  Exams have been studied for and taken.  They’ve been graded, recorded and the grades have gone home to mom and dad.  I’ve had Alice Cooper’s School’s Out for the Summer running through my head for a few days.  Do any of my students even know who Alice Cooper is??
I am especially close to this particular class.  I am not sure why.  Perhaps it is because they needed me in some way that others haven’t?  Perhaps it’s because they let me get close to them and I let them get to know a different side of me?  I taught them for two years and advised twelve of them in 7th grade.  I’ve watched them fall down, scrape their knees and elbows, literally and figuratively. I’ve cried with them over the loss of a grandparent or a pet or as they have tried to make sense of a divorce.  I’ve let them know if they have disappointed me, with thoughtless behavior or by not working up to their potential in class.  I’ve celebrated their successes, winning essay contests, having the nerve to get up in front of their peers and visitors to recite their spoken word poems, sing with the chorus, dance with their movement class or act out a Goth version of Shakespeare.   Some of them shared what they wrote in response to watching the movie Sarah’s Key based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay.  They shared these thoughts in the school literary magazine but also with the author herself when we met her in Paris.  This is Mlle Mer.  Her grandmother left Europe as a young girl in wake of the Holocaust.

mer

I will miss her accidentally calling me Mom.

We’ve gotten dirty in the school gardens, planting, weeding, and picking strawberries.  We’ve traveled to Foster’s and Guglhupf cafés just down the street for baguettes, fromage, and macarons, to Washington, DC for the 7th grade class trip, and 23 of us jetted across the Atlantic Ocean so that I could show them “my” France.

i love you wall

The one pictured at the top of the post, Miss Issy, is heading to France this summer to spend two weeks with her pen friend.  Paris with her Mum first, then Senlis, Toulouse (or Toulon?), the Riviera and Corsica.  She is leaving DA for a nearby public school and I will miss her and her really cool English accent.  I can’t wait to read the book she gave me.

parisian book

Not sure what the bad habits are, but I look forward to finding out.  Probably won’t share that information with next year’s 8th graders, though.

What to say about these two?

abby&max%mrs.e (1)

Monsieur drove me nuts, but I will genuinely miss him.  He will grow up to do amazing things when he learns to focus and control his brain.  His pal, on the other arm, bought him a planner to help him get through the end of the year with all of his homework assignments completed (and probably so that she wouldn’t have to listen to me nag him every single day, truth be told).  He should read or watch Le Petit Nicolas.  Mademoiselle has become my Pretend Daughter.  Unbeknownst to me, she and another girlie had a project this year whose code name was Apples.  They kept up with the dates of days when I wore a black dress to school.  The sheet of paper I have as evidence only dates from January 26 and there are 28 dates marked, including the one above, June 9.  What can I say?  I love black dresses.  I suppose I am more clueless than I care to believe.  And 8th graders can be pretty clever.

It was a very good year.  Quite a few tears and many waterproof mascara days. So many laughs and really good hugs.

caroline

isabellas

taylor

I love you all.  I will miss you, but it is time to move on.  I hope that I have taught you a little about life, perseverance, hard work, and the importance of being your best self as well as how to conjugate and use the imparfait.  I hope that you have many days when you think “This is the best day of my life!”  And that you remember those days when a lousy one comes along.

This sums it up pretty well, n’est-ce pas?

your dog quote

Mme E

Today’s recipe is one 8th graders would appreciate (well, except for the unfortunate ones who can’t eat chocolate- I had four of those, les pauvres).  It’s from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  I am addicted to her blog.  And the mention of sea salt reminds me of our visit to Aigues Mortes and seeing the enormous piles of salt at La Baleine.

la baleine

sea salt

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes approximately 18-24 cookies- but this depends on the size of the cookies; I make mine smaller so I end up with at least 3 dozen.
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. (25 g) granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. (25 g) Turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw- you can use more brown or white if you have this, but the subtle crunch it adds is delightful)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (165 g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. baking soda
Heaped 1/4 tsp. (technically 1/4 + 1/8 tsp.) fine sea salt or table salt
1-3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 pound (225 g) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife
Flaky sea salt, to finish
Heat oven to 360˚F (180˚C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in fine sea or table salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on low speed until just mixed.  The dough will look crumbly at this point.

With a spatula, fold/stir in the chocolate chunks.Scoop cookies into 1-1/2 Tbsp. (#40 scoop) mounds, spacing them apart on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt.

Bake 11 to 12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still very gooey and soft on the inside.  Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

From Deb:
Extra dough- I know, what’s that?!- can be formed into scoops and frozen on a sheet until solid, then transferred to a freezer bag.  I’ve baked these right from the freezer; they need, at most, 1 minute more baking time.  You could also from them into a 2-inch log, freeze it, and slice and bake the cookies off as desired.  The only difference I’ve note between cookies baked right away and those baked a day or more later is that the older cookie dough is less puffy when baked.

candle
Bon appétit and happy summer to all, students and teachers alike!