Monday, April 30, 2012

Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs

This is my own creation! It was good. I am proud. Had it tonight and both Jon and I devoured it. We paired it with his grilled chicken (marinated in Italian dressing), which was also delicious.  And, there are leftovers for tomorrow night's dinner.  Yay!

Next time, I plan to use stock instead of broth, and also home grown tomatoes for an extra level of yumminess.
  • 4-5 medium Roma tomatoes, diced OR 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice OR 1 1/2 cups medium-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup light beer
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of fresh herbs (I used basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley from our garden)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic

1. Sprinkle tomatoes with 2 T olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Bake on shallow pan at 250° for 45-60 minutes.
3. 30 minutes into the tomato roasting, bring chicken broth and evaporated milk to simmer in small saucepan.
4. Reduce heat to low and keep broth/milk hot.
5. Heat other 2 T of olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat.
6. Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes.
7. Add rice and stir 3 minutes.
8. Add beer and cook until liquid evaporates.
9. Continue cooking until rice is tender but still slightly firm in center and mixture is creamy, adding chicken broth/milk 1 cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, about 20 minutes.
10. Remove from heat.
11. Add  butter and stir until incorporated.
12. Stir in  Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, and roasted tomatoes.
13. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spiders, I don't mind you...

... HOWEVER, if you are poisonous and living on our front porch, my husband will very abruptly send you and your offspring to spider heaven as he did just now with this lady.  Only non-deadly spiders allowed to live near our home, okay?
Another day, another abnormally large Black Widow living right beside your front door, I guess.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New River Gorge: Beautiful on Many Levels

We traveled home via US 19 on our recent West Virginia venture. This route takes you over the Western Hemisphere's longest arch bridge: 3,030 feet long, 876 feet above the gorgeous New River Gorge.
It's a special stop for me for a few reasons:
1. I was raised in and lived in WV for 33 years.  The state is beautiful and I often took this for granted when I actually lived there.
2. I camped there many, many years ago and witnessed many brave, crazy base jumpers leaping off of the perfectly good structure.
3. Jon proposed to me at this bridge's overlook in December of 2002.  Almost 10 years.  Wow.
4. This bridge has carried me to and from long, lost family and friends numerous times over the years.
the boys enjoyed checking out the view from the visitors' center

here's what they saw on the cool, misty WV morning

This photo was borrowed from wikipedia to show the neat walkway down to the overlook.  All four of us successfully walked down this together (took a while, but was worth it) and Jon carried Ethan all the way up the numerous stairs on the way back.  Phew!

playing with camera focus: Andrew in focus

playing with camera focus: the bridge in focus

best shot I would get that day of the slightly grumpy traveler

loved this because Ethan is going in for a kiss

kiss landed!

Handsome Jon and the breathtaking bridge saved this photo from Ethan's non-smile, my very unflattering shirt (I am not pregnant and will not be again), and Andrew's unibomber-esque attire.

And after the stop was done, we crossed it: the 5th highest vehicular bridge on our planet.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Secrets and Creative Custodians = Fun Workplace

I love so many things about my teaching position. 

Is the situation perfect?  No. 

Is anyone's?  No. 

BUT, mine is, honestly, pretty fun, especially with an amazing secret pal who swoops in and treats me at the least expected moment! (I, too, have a secret pal and have been showering her with impromptu gifts this year.  We learn our pals' identities at our final staff meeting in May.)

There is also a creative, sweet custodian who keeps me guessing. 

Good people.
My Valentine's Day surprise caught me totally off guard!

And this greeted me in my mailbox this Monday after a particularly challenging morning.  My pal knows my love and need to MOVE.

And THEN, there is Miss Jackie, one of our amazing custodians, who sporadically leaves my music stuff in hilarious positions for me to find the next morning.  I excitedly anticipate her staging every morning, which makes arriving in the music room even better.  This was today's setting; apparently a crow and cat drum/bass xylophone/recorder circle.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Forever Friends

We recently spent a brief moment in West Virginia. There is a larger post coming but here's a preview: my best friends' kids and mine, all hanging crazily together as if they were old buddies.
Although not the most polished of photos, because everyone here is clearly a mess, it's my favorite.

another mess photo leading up to the "good" one

crazy photo #3

Ah.  The "best" one.  It was impossible to capture a smiley mug of all seven kids, against all our best efforts. [sigh]  Someday.
Love these kids. Love their parents.  We are all forever friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We are Gamers

We bought Andrew his first Wii game the other day; got a steal on the used version of "Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga." He L.O.V.E.S. it and is surprisingly good at it!  It has been a nice reward for desirable behaviors.  Just now, all the boys had a really good time figuring out some things on the latest level.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter Sunday

Last Sunday, we headed over to my friend Jennifer's for an egg hunt with Ben!
The game is ready to begin.... May the odds be evah in your favor!

Then we hung out at the playground for a bit.

Up to no good, say those looks.

Jennifer: the queen of multi-tasking.

After we got home and had naps, it was time for some backyard water play on the gorgeous day.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mickey and Boba Fett's Hawaiian Adventures, Chapter Seven: Final Island Day then Home!

Monday, April 2 was our final day on the island.  We would be boarding a bus for the airport that afternoon to face nearly 24 hours of travel and get to see Andrew and Ethan again on Tuesday evening.

So, we made the most of the day.

MK woke up for an early run on the Waikiki beach trail.  These three photos were taken from her phone along the run.  It was beautiful and she felt safe being all alone since there were so many other people running around at 6:00 am.  Jon did this same run a few days earlier.

Having this view made the miles fly by.

Here we are by the Duke statue.  He won numerous Olympic medals for his surfing in the early 1900s and is credited with introducing surfing to the eastern seaboard.  People honor him by hanging leis on his arms.  We thought this was a nice thing to do with ours so we did the same.

Then it was off to Hilo Hattie for some shopping!  We just had to pose with the world's largest aloha shirt!

Then, as we mentioned, it was travel, delay, travel, delay, travel.  Once we finally got on the bus in Charlotte, the Humbers showed their excitement about being so near home.
It was an amazing, unforgettable trip.  Being in Hawaii for five full days was incredible. We loved it.  But, we came home very tired and a little frustrated.  So, this final Charlotte to Columbia bus photo sums up the end pretty nicely.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Field Day!

It's been dadgum busy 'round these parts.

I still have Hawaii pics to post, as well as those from Easter. 

The posts will come. So for now, there is this.

Today was our school's annual field day. I got to spend the entire day playing water games with 3- to 12-year-olds. SO FUN!!! Of course I love teaching music, but a vacation from it from time to time is also nice. This ranks right up there with one of my most fun days of school this year.
some of my favorite 4th graders get doused at 8:30 am.  good times.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Scuba Diving in Oahu

Jon and I became certified open water divers in 2004. In that year, we did some dives in Oahu, and dove in the Mexican Riviera Maya near Cancun in 2006.

Then, the babies came.

Last Sunday, we dove for the first time in six years.  To say that we were a bit rusty would be an understatement.  Still, though, the dive master crazily took us along and we had an amazing time.

The boat took us a few miles offshore to a site called the Ewa Pinnacles and then to a tugboat where Navy Seals are trained. We saw beautiful lava formations and tons of amazing animals.  And although we did not get a photo of it, we saw a humpback whale VERY NEAR our boat in between dives, which was incredible and a definite first for me.
After the slightly frightening 80-foot descent down the rope, I was calmed by my first sight of wildlife: this sweet guy, resting on the bottom.

In true MK fashion, here's the typical crazed diving eye.

Looking up.  I am so glad we did this!


MK, checking air, checking gauges, checking, checking, checking...


MK, now more relaxed, striking a pose

Jon, showing off his textbook example of equalization
The photos that follow are from the second dive, the tugboat.  Jon did this dive by himself, because I had become seasick for the first time ever and opted to "feed the fish" from the bow of the boat, rather than do it 50 feet underwater through my regulator.  A good move.  I sure missed some cool sights, though.  Fellow band director Dave took the shots of Jon.

See the ray?

Jon also saw a 6-foot white-tipped reef shark. The photo didn't turn out well, though.

We vow to dive again before 2018!  We must.  It is just too much fun.