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Compost Happens is a personal blog: part family, part garden, part crunchy green eco-writer. I'm Daisy, and I'm the groundskeeper here. I take care of family, garden, and coffee, when I'm not teaching and doing laundry.

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  • Friday, September 30, 2011

    Eating the Opponent - beyond the cheesehead

    It all started when the Packers opened the season against the Philadelphia Eagles and Chuck served up a delicious Philly Pepper Steak with cheese. The next week Green Bay played Buffalo, so we served (you guessed it) Buffalo wings. A challenge, a tradition in the making was born: Eating the Opponent.

    We had some easy ones: Buffalo wings, Chicago style pizza, jambalaya for New Orleans. There were some challenges, too. Minnesota? I refused to even consider lutefisk, so we went Lake Wobegon style and served stuffed meatloaf. Sunday breakfast included turnovers, in honor of then-QB Favre.

    Playoffs extended our menu into January. Philly again, Atlanta, and another Chicago foodie weekend led up to the final meal against Pittsburgh, and there the story ended with pierogies, Klondike bars, Super Burgers, and the return of the Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay where it belongs.

    We thought about it. Are we superstitious, or just hungry? Whatever the truth may be, here we go again.

    The 2011 NFL season started with jambalaya and two great quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, if you didn't know) passing for the highest score. The second week of the season featured Chicago style hot dogs with the works.

    I put week three to my friends on Twitter and Plurk. What should we serve when Green Bay plays Denver? Suggestions mounted.
    • Rocky Road ice cream
    • Denver omelets
    • Coors beer
    • Rocky Mountain Oysters (Not. A. Chance.)
    The final decision: A major product of ranchers in the west, Black Angus beef. Sorry, Coors, but I'd rather have a Leinenkugel's stout or a New Glarus Spotted Cow. It's a Wisconsin thing.

    Now, readers, here's your chance. Next weekend the Packers play the Atlanta Falcons. Coke products are a given. But what else? Suggest, please.

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    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Since school started...

    Since school started, I haven't --

    • gone thrift store shopping
    • prepared a donation box for Goodwill
    • gotten out my winter Packers gear
    • brought in firewood
    • redecorated the fireplace mantel
    Why does any of that matter? Well...

    I create holiday gifts from thrift store finds, and that takes time. If I start now, I might find some decent baskets for my homemade goodies.
    I have a pile of potential donations sitting in the corner of my bedroom. These pieces were taking up space in my dresser; now they're taking up space on my floor.
    Packer gear? Good heavens, need you ask? My pink Packers polo won't last into December - maybe not even November.
    As for the fireplace, it's fireplace weather. Damp, cool, not enough to turn the heat on, just enough that a fire in the fireplace will take the edge off the dampness.
    The current display of Amigo's awards is a special collection. Since the Brewers are in the MLB playoffs and the Super Bowl Champion Packers started out 3-0, I think it's time for a sports themed mantel again.

    There you have it; my October goals. Can I do it? Maybe. In between cataract surgeries and schools testing trips and who knows what else....

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    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Bread with Nuts and Twigs

    Readers, you know I'm a creative cook. I like to toss in a few extra or alternate ingredients to jazz up a recipe.

    You might or might not know that Chuck, bless his heart, balks at knowing his food is healthy. He'll eat it, even enjoy it, but don't tell him that it's high fiber or low fat or contains just the vitamins he needs. Just tell him it's delicious and settle in to enjoy.

    He calls all my favorite cereals Nuts and Twigs.
    He'll choose plain white bread over whole grain, given the choice.
    He refuses to take daily fiber supplements because they make him feel old. Ahem.
    So I made this. It's a basic white bread in the bread machine with a few additions for, well, for fun.

    Daisy' Bread with Nuts and Twigs
    makes a 1 1/2 lb. loaf

    1 cup + 2 Tablespoons warm water
    1 Tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
    2 Tablespoons sugar
    1 Tablespoon non-fat dry milk powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 Tablespoon) salt
    3 cups bread flour
    2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

    Now the fun. Add in 1 Tablespoon each:
    wheat germ
    pine nuts
    sunflower kernels (dry roasted)

    Set the bread machine to normal, push play, and let it bake!

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    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Supermom Returns

    I can bring home the bacon,
    Fry it up in the pan,
    And get the kid to his lesson
    In my spotless minivan!!
    Cause I'm S-u-p-e-r-mom!

    Okay, I wasn't makin' bacon today. I'm back to teaching full time, though, figuratively bringing home the bacon. My minivan isn't spotless, either. But I did get get Amigo to his guitar lesson, which was no easy feat.

    Amigo takes lessons from a music student at the local private university's conservatory of music. Usually it's a simple process: bring him to the conservatory, park the car, walk him inside to meet his teacher, and wait until he's done.

    Not this time. Saturday was one of our fair city's downtown festivals. The downtown and the campus (next to downtown) were filled with food stands and art booths along with stages showcasing every kind of live music you can imagine - and probably some kinds you can't. Parking was impossible. Cars were parked almost as far from downtown as our house. Amigo tends to be walk-phobic, so walking to the lesson wasn't an option. I had to be eagle-eyed and creative - in a large family vehicle, the MomVan.

    Of course, I managed. I slipped into the loading dock behind the concert hall, hung Amigo's handicapped parking permit on the mirror, and walked him in to meet the nice young man who teaches him. I zoomed back outside to avoid getting ticketed or towed. Lo and behold, I spotted an empty place in the parking lot just behind the building! Luck wasn't with me, though. By the time I'd pulled out of the loading area, the place was filled. I pulled into the lot anyway and parked next to a worn sort-of-yellow curb, hoped that the department that used the garage next to it wasn't working weekends, or at least this weekend. I backed in for quick getaway if needed. This area was at least more sheltered than the loading spot, with a line of trees separating it from the road. It was also campus parking, not city. It was unlikely that the campus parking staff would be patrolling that area. I crossed my fingers and toes for good luck and crossed the street back to the conservatory.

    The same fall festival that gave me parking problems had an up side; there was a stage set up on the sidewalk outside the conservatory and concert hall. As I came up to the area, a jazz combo began playing. Entertainment! Great! I expected a quality performance - this is my alma mater, after all, a solid music school. They were playing good music, too. A couple of saxes, a trombone, and a full rhythm section playing Spyro Gyra type tunes from the early 80s - my era!

    Amigo's lesson ended, and we headed home. Supermom got back to the laundry, sliced the fresh bread that had cooled just enough, and sat down for a computer break in front of Badger football on TV. Yes, it was a successful day, despite the challenges. No problem. Supermom can deal with those.


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    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Autumn. Fall. Apples.

    There's no Downtown Market this weekend due to the frivolous fall festival that my town insists on naming Octoberfest, even though it always falls on the last Saturday of September. I have plenty of good fresh food at home, though. In fact, I spent some time recently with these:

    Apples! Apples! I made three kinds of applesauce. Plain, cinnamon, and red hot (with the candies, not with peppers). It's going to be a good year for eating locally; all of the apples were from a nearby orchard.

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    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    One year ago...

    I was tired and weak from anemia (summer health troubles), but looking forward to the new school year. I did not walk to our opening meeting; I knew there was no possibility of keeping up with my quick-striding coworkers.
    Then I was walking with crutches, attempting to identify and heal the ankle pain that turned out to be gout. Every try teaching science on crutches? It doesn't go well.
    I was dealing with a student who would become the focal point of my blood, sweat, and tears. Let's not go into details. Somewhere in the back of my mind I expect to hear he's hurt someone, student or teacher, but I keep that part of my mind tightly closed. Well, I try.

    Eventually, the stresses added up and multiplied, grew exponentially, expanded into infinity. My health took a major dive, and I finally, finally applied for a medical leave of absence.

    And now? What a difference a year makes!

    I'm still not full strength, but I can walk to work - less than a mile, but slightly more than half. The walk feels good.
    Multi-vitamins and many, many iron-rich meals made a difference. No more anemia!
    I'm starting a new job with the support of coworkers, an assigned mentor, and a principal who stops in frequently and supports me whenever there is a tough question. We had a field trip this week that (thanks to my talent in persuasive writing) brought in a sizable group of people.
    Coworkers know about my hearing loss and do not consider it a problem. It's simply a fact.
    I'm tired, but a good tired.

    I'm still tired. Every night.
    Bad dreams still wake me -- often.
    I have a bottle of Ambien, but I really, really don't want to get into taking that nightly. Not again.
    My workplace is full of cooperative and supportive people. We all want the best for each other. Still, I keep an awful lot of information under wraps. Only my principal knows about last year's leave of absence. Once burned, twice cautious; it's hard to trust again.

    Deep breath. Much of this is out of my control. That's okay. Repeat. That's okay.

    A year makes a big difference. Let go of the rest. I can do this.

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    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Chocolate Zucchini Bread

    This is a delicious, light (not lite) recipe. It's sweet, but not heavy-tasting. Chocolate chips might be fun; I didn't add those to this batch. Instead of two regular sized loaves, I made one regular and three small loaves. I'll freeze at least two of the little ones for later. Use a good quality cocoa; it makes a difference.

    Chocolate Zucchini Bread
    makes 2 loaves

    Beat together:

    1/2 cup butter or margarine
    2 cups sugar
    3 eggs or 3/4 cup egg substitute
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    3 cups grated zucchini
    1/2 cup milk

    Sift and add:

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 cup wheat flour
    1/2 cup cocoa
    3 teaspoons baking powder
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes.

    Don't tell the Boyz; I added wheat germ and flax seed. This sweet treat actually has fiber. Shh.

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    Monday, September 19, 2011

    It might be September if...

    It's September at the Okaybyme Household! How can you tell? Here are the signs.

    10. School has started - for Daisy and for Amigo.
    9. Trees are falling. I mean leaves are falling - a few, anyway.
    8. The crock pot has a semi-permanent home in the kitchen again.
    7. The lunch boxes are getting regular use.
    6. There's fresh zucchini bread (chocolate this time!) in the kitchen.
    5. We're eating the opponent again! Check the GB Packers schedule, find a food from the opposing team's locale, and make it on Friday or Saturday night.
    4. I wear a jacket to walk to school in the morning and carry it home.
    3. It's hard to decide between hot coffee and a blended latte over ice.
    2. The green and gold spirit clothes are at the front of the closet.
    1. People are locking their car doors at church so they don't find the backseats full of zucchini when they come out!!

    Credit to Garrison Keillor for suggesting #1. He's such a funny storyteller because his anecdotes have a strong basis in read life!

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    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Home Sweet Cubicle

    You saw it first here. Now have another look at my workspace. This is the look my students saw if they came to our Open House and toured the offices. There is still work to be done, such as posting photos that students have sent me, but it's a comfortable place to work now. Without further ado, here it is: Daisy's Virtual Classroom.

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    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Reasons to Walk to Work

    10. The streets in the neighborhood are beautiful, especially in autumn.

    9. I spend most of my day in a cubicle in a chair; walking lets me stretch.

    8. Driving less often reduces my family's dependence on gas and saves money.

    7. Walking home provides thoughtful "decompression" time after a busy day.

    6. I enjoy the fresh air.

    5. Walking is good exercise.

    4. I lower my carbon footprint by leaving the minivan in the garage.

    3. Driving less often saves wear and tear on my aging minivan.

    2. Parking at my workplace is limited, to say the least.

    1. This is the view of my favorite, easy-out, shady parking spot after the recent storm went through downtown.

    Yeah, the aging minivan would have been toast. Thank goodness I wasn't working that day - and thank goodness I don't drive to work very often.

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    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Resiliency, Depression, and 9/11

    I could post a flag. But there are flags all over the Internet, on Twitter and Facebook profiles and more. The blogosphere doesn't need another flag.

    I could post a photo of a candle. One of my strongest memories of 9/11/01 comes from the candlelight vigil a few days later. Our entire neighborhood was lit up, high school kids carried candles with them as they walked around the block, and our neighborhood police officer played Amazing Grace on his bagpipes.

    But a candle on a blog wouldn't evoke the kind of emotion that came that night. I don't think that's really what I'm after on this day, ten years after our nation changed forever.

    People close to me know that I'm recovering from the worst depression of my life. The key word is recovering. I'm not there yet, but I'm steadily gaining ground. It's a marathon, not a sprint, as I've stated before. I can't say I'm precisely the person I was before this illness hit so hard. I may never be exactly the same, feel exactly the same way. That's okay. I might not remember exactly what healthy feels like, but I'll at least be healthier.

    People across the nation recovered from the shock of the 9/11 attacks. I've seen the word "rebounded" used in place of recovered, but our recovery as a nation wasn't quick like a rebound. We didn't heal immediately. Through the healing process we've changed. We're more vigilant, more aware.

    Another form of resiliency came about in a focus on home, on family, and on friends. That trend continues, and I hope it never stops. When it comes to healing of any kind, a strong support network is not just important; it's essential.

    Part of my healing comes in the forms of gardening and cooking and canning. It's part of being a provider. I may have lost income while I was on sick leave last year, but I can still feed my family. My dollars go farther at the market, and we eat healthier as a result. Healing, emotionally and physically, can come in a cloth bag of fresh produce.

    It's not red, white, and blue, but it's colorful. And strong. And downright patriotic.

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    Thursday, September 08, 2011

    Are you ready for some FOOTBALL???!!!

    There are no "bad" seats at Lambeau Field. No pillars to block your view, no wildly high nosebleed seats. We were pretty high up, sitting in the outdoor box seats. Chuck won the tickets as a door prize at his last staff meeting, and then he ended up uncertain whether he'd have to work or not. With that in mind, he suggested I bring a friend instead. Here's the view.

    My tiny camera really doesn't capture it well. As high up as we were, we could see the field clearly. Popcorn, sodas, and lots of green and gold were ingredients for a great night. Our Super Bowl champions didn't disappoint; they managed to present a dramatic game again. Dramatic preseason game? Isn't that an oxymoron?

    Well, gotta go. There's a full day of work to be done before I can go over to my friend's house and watch our Green Bay Packers start another great season!!

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    Tuesday, September 06, 2011

    Butternut Squash Soup in the slow cooker

    I used my big slow cooker, the 6 qt model, for this soup. One butternut squash yields a lot of squash! I may need to freeze some of the soup for later.

    1 large butternut squash (about 4 lb), peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces
    (estimated amount: 10 cups)
    1 large apple, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 medium white onion, diced
    1 large carrot, peeled, diced
    2 teaspoons curry powder
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/8 teaspoon white pepper
    3 1/2 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
    1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
    1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
    3/4 cup packed brown sugar

    Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray. In cooker, toss squash, apple, onion, carrot, curry powder, salt, and white pepper. Pour broth over vegetable mixture.
    Cover; cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
    Use immersion blender or remove small amounts of soup (3 cups at a time) into blender to blend until smooth. Add milk and brown sugar while blending.
    Turn heat setting to high. Cover; cook for another 30 minutes.

    Serve. Enjoy.

    The question remains: how will I prepare the hybrid?

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    Monday, September 05, 2011

    Could be worse; could be raining!

    After the storm, several pepper plants were lying flat on the ground.

    I lost a few tomatoes.

    But down the road and around the corner, they were dealing with this fallen tree.

    Another neighbor had this in her yard.

    Yet another had a tree branch sticking into the roof like a spear.

    Some streets were impassible.

    Power was out most of the day. We were lucky there, too; nearby neighborhoods were still out of power all day Saturday. We had fans and lights by Friday night.
    I had to climb into a garage window to manually open the door. Shingles from the garage roof litter the lawn. But really, it could be much, much worse. We're pretty lucky this time.


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    Saturday, September 03, 2011

    After the Storm

    We're here! We have power! I did take a few pictures, and I'll post them later. For now, I'm just happy that our neighborhood did not take the brunt of the storm, even though we were near the worst of it.

    We even made it to the Farmers' Market this morning.

    Life is good.

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    Thursday, September 01, 2011

    Cubicle (or virtual classroom) before and after

    I started school on Tuesday. My students start next week, the day after Labor Day. Most years I can show you the classroom, how I've prepped it, how it looks before the students come in for their first day. This year, I have a cubicle. Here's the before picture.

    Boxes of curricular materials, teachers' manuals, tools and consumables for science and art. Below, see the hallways outside my cubicle. These are full, but may not be needed.

    I spent a full morning sorting and taking inventory. This isn't the full "after" shot; that will come later. It does, however, show progress. By now, I know what's going on my shelves.

    I also left empty boxes for reuse, recycling, or disposal. I sure hope my new building is environmentally conscious. I predict these will be reused either by my own virtual charter school or by the media central office in the basement of our building.

    An after picture? Sorry, I don't have one yet. Maybe after our first staff meeting I'll have time to get it looking a little more welcoming. It won't be home to twenty-some students like my old classroom, but it needs to look good and feel good - for me.


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    About 1 in 5 child deaths is due to injury. CDC Vital Signs


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    Copyright, 2003-2008 by OkayByMe. All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval without written permission from Daisy, the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. In other words, stealing is bad, and if you take what doesn't belong to you, it's YOUR karma and my lawyers you might deal with.