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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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  • Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Not scary at all: vote for my school in this grant competition!

    2011 Project Innovate is a program sponsored by Cellcom that allows school supporters to vote for one school in the surrounding area to receive prize money for the purchase of technology. It is WCA's desire to help each student maximized his/her potential and meet the highest proformance standards. While WCA does everything they can be provided the best education possible for your student, there are many great tools out there that could assist with accomplishing this goal. This contest is simple. Vote for WCA. Each individual can vote one per email address.

    Grand Prize: $30,000 for the purchase of technology

    First Prize: $15,000 for the purchase of technology

    Second Prize: $5,000 for the purchase of technology

    The best part is that there are only 8 local schools participating.

    The project ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 22, 2011. To vote for WCA all you need to do is go to (or, click on Project Innovate).

    Please pass the link on and encourage others to vote for Wisconsin Connections Academy.


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    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Yet another Apple Crisp recipe

    It's autumn. It's apple season. It's been a productive apple season, too. I adapted this from a pie recipe by making the filling without fussing with the crust. If I master the art of crust-making, for pies or pizza, bloggy friends, you'll be the second to know. My family will be first; they'll be eating the results.

    Back to the topic. Apple recipes are tastiest when they consist of two or more kinds of apples, preferably a mixture of tart and sweet.

    3 medium tart apples, pelled an thinly sliced
    3 medium McIntosh or other mild apple, peeled and thinly sliced

    1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    2 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    2 Tablespoons orange juice
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts

    Mix the ingredients without the apples.
    In a 2-quart casserole dish or 8 x 8 square baking dish, place the apples on the bottom and top with the topping.

    Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Top will be golden brown and have crispy spots.

    Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping. Mmm - fresh apples.


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    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Touring Lambeau Field, Daisy style

    Field trips are different in a virtual school. We arrange field trips in different locations in the state, and families sign up to meet a teacher or two there. Several families met two teachers, Mr. P and me, at Lambeau Field for the stadium tour and the Hall of Fame.

    My photos were a bit different, too. I took several of the families that came, trying to balance the atmosphere with the faces. These turned out quite well, I thought.

    My own personal pictures took a rather different angle, too. I didn't need the standard Green and Gold; I've seen it and internalized it plenty of times. Instead, I noticed the Wall of Opponents. All they need now is an extension of this for our Eating the Opponent project! That would be a great addition to the hall of fame, or even to the menu at Curly's Pub, in my perspective.

    The Wall of Opponents is rather long and curved; it's tough to fit the whole thing in a standard picture. The menu would take up an additional wall.

    Then there was the Packer trivia game. I got a few wrong (doh! I should have known the answers), but I still made the High Scores list. What? You doubt me?

    I compared spirited socks with one of the girls along on the tour. Mine are on the right. I could be convinced to pick up a pair like hers. Socks like these would coordinate perfectly with my pink Packers polo shirt.

    And I seriously coveted the tour guides' shoes. I know, these are men's shoes. But they could be made in women's sizes, I'm sure. Couldn't they? I mean, the Pro Shop carries Super Bowl XLV sweaters for dogs; they could make tour guide shoes for women.

    These shoes are standing on hallowed ground: The Tunnel. Come the next home game, I'll have a new perspective as the team comes out of the tunnel onto the field.

    Go! Pack! Go!

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    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Eating the Opponent: Minneso-ta style

    It was fried ravioli with Shock Top beer last week.

    Amigo had his with Mello Yello.

    This week, it's Minnesota. The guys in purple. The Northern team that plays in a (snort) dome. The dome that couldn't handle the snow last year and actually collapsed. No players in purple were injured during the perilous storm, but the Vikes had to play their next home game in an outdoor college stadium. Pardon me while I giggle a little at the irony of the whole disaster.

    Back to the topic at hand: a Minnesota staple food. I asked my Facebook friends to help, but the two who live in the Twin Cities remained silent. I blogged a plea for ideas on Monday, and two chimed in. So.... we've narrowed it down.

    We haven't decided or shopped for ingredients yet. Well, folks? Wild rice? The ubiquitous Minnesot'n hotdish? Lutheran-style after-church pie?

    There is still one Farmers' Market left. I might buy my pie from the Amish baker. She makes delicious - well, everything. And almost next to her booth is the cheese vendor, the one who sells the freshest cheese curds I've ever eaten. Oh, wait. Cheese curds are Wisconsin, not Minnesota. Or are they also eaten west of the Mississippi and the St. Croix?

    Meanwhile, let's not forget the whole reason for the Eating the Opponent routine.

    Go! Pack! Go!

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    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Oh, the Gatekeepers!

    Gatekeepers, also known as receptionists and schedulers, that is.

    First, there was the gatekeeper at the ENT who thought she could decide who got to see the doc and who didn't.
    Then there was the gatekeeper who couldn't correct a scheduling error and therefore put me back on a waiting list after six months of waiting already.
    I could also mention the gatekeeper who tried to talk me out of even asking for a new doctor for Amigo. She sounded quite surprised when New Doc said yes, of course, he'd take Amigo as a new patient.

    This time, the schedulers are not talking to the schedulers and the left gatekeeper doesn't know what the right gatekeeper is doing.

    I had a November appointment set up to review meds and check on my progress in recovering from the deepest and longest depression of my life. Recovery is going well: slow but steady, a marathon rather than a sprint.
    Then I had to schedule a pre-op physical before the removal and replacement of my cataracts. Given that opportunity to touch base and review my health in general, Family Doc said I could cancel the November appointment. "That's the day after Thanksgiving. Go shopping," he teased. "The mob scene? No thanks. I'll be shopping online," I laughed.
    So...the nurse came in, gave me my annual flu shot, and the logged onto the computer and pulled up the schedule. Lo and behold, my November appointment wasn't even listed. We were both confused, but shrugged our shoulders and decided it was all for the best.

    Two days later I got a letter in the mail from the Clinic That Shall Not Be Named. "Dear Daisy; we need to reschedule the following appointment(s):" followed by the information of the already cancelled November date. Huh??

    This time, at least, the failure to communicate doesn't interfere with my health care. It does, however, lower my level of trust in the Clinic That Shall Not Be Named. I still trust the medical professionals who've treated me; I'm just losing trust in the system in which they work. Oh, and the gatekeepers who guard the palace doors.

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    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Yet another Zucchini Recipe

    You guessed it, readers. I am presenting to you one more way to use up the last few zucchini. I liked this as a vegetarian main dish; Chuck preferred it as a side. Either way, it's delicious.

    Cheesy Zucchini Squares

    3 cups grated zucchini
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 Tablespoon baking powder
    3 eggs or 3/4 cup egg substitute
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1 teaspoon lemon pepper
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
    1 cup finely chopped onion
    2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

    Spray 8 by 8 baking dish (or similar sized pan) with non-stick spray.
    Stir together the zucchini and salt in a colander and let drain 15 minutes. Press out the liquid; let drain another 15 minutes. Pick up small handfuls of zucchini and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Transfer to small bowl.
    Whisk together flour and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, then stir in flour mixture and mix well. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the zucchini, onion, and cheese. The batter will be stiff. Pour into baking dish and press evenly into all corners.

    Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes; serve warm.

    By the way, this heats up well as a planned-over. In true Wisconsin fashion, I'm considering dusting the top with grated mozzarella or Parmesan when it comes out of the oven. I didn't add nuts and twigs to this dish, either. The possibilities for variation are endless!

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    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Meal planning, Daisy style

    A typical week looks like this in the OkayByMe kitchen:

    Monday: Chuck works late, Daisy makes an omelet.
    Tuesday: something good for two.
    Wednesday: something good for two.
    Thursday: something good for two. Can you tell we're enjoying the empty nest during the week?
    Friday: Crock Pot or other easy dish to accommodate Amigo's pick-up time around five.

    Meanwhile, eating the opponent continues on Saturday nights.

    St. Louis Toasted (fried) Ravioli was delicious, but high maintenance. Chuck said "Never again." I said, "Let's leave it to the restaurants."

    Next week, Minnesota Vikings. Last year we faced this dilemma, too. No lutefisk, I declared, not in my home! So instead, we made a stuffed meatloaf (good hot-dish, Lake Wobegon style) and bought a can of Spam. Breakfast featured turnovers in honor of former Packer turned traitor, er, Viking, Brett Favre.
    No one liked the Spam.
    But anyway, we'd like to expand on eating Minnesota next weekend. A search through Swagbucks turned up recipes with rhubarb (too easy), wild rice (a strong possibility), and the ubiquitous hot dish. Hot dish, for the uninitiated, is another name for a casserole. Meat, veggies, pasta or potatoes, all in one pan, stirred with a can of cream soup to hold it all together. Many hot dish formulas call for a can of tuna or a pound of browned ground beef.

    We could make a ground beef and tater tot casserole using tater tots made in Plover, Wisconsin.

    We could make a wild rice dish with fish or other wild game meat.

    Turnovers? Not necessary this year. Take that, Brett.

    Well, readers, what do you think? Minnesota friends, weigh in, please. What should we serve for Eating the Opponent when our Packers play the Vikings?

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    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Eating the Opponent: meet me in St. Louis, Louis!

    Last weekend we had peach cobbler for dessert and cornbread with peach jam with the meal. We tried Coke with peanuts later in the evening and made grits with maple syrup to go with brunch.

    This time, we're looking to St. Louis. The Brewers were up against the Cardinals, and the Packers are playing the Rams. My sister-in-law lived and taught in St. Louis for several years, so she joined Earth Muffin in recommending some good local fare.

    Our tentative plan: Fried ravioli. Chuck will find a beer (not Budweiser, by the way) with St. Louis or at least Missouri roots. We weren't willing to fry a cardinal - that's another sport entirely. Besides, I hear cardinal tastes like chicken.

    Some of the fun in this project comes from the research. We get ideas from friends and family, we look things up on the Internet, and we get creative to add a bit of Wisconsin to some. Adding maple syrup to the grits was one nod to my state tree, the sugar maple. The peaches in the jam were Wisconsin and Michigan produce, not Georgia, to be honest. It's the spirit of the project that counts. So on we go, eating our way (we hope) to 6-0!

    Readers coming from Plurk or Twitter might know that I'm having my first cataract removal surgery today. Yes, of course I'm nervous. I'm using my irreverent sense of humor to survive it. No coffee in the morning before surgery? I'll convince Chuck to drive through Starbucks on the way home.

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    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Top Ten Reasons to enjoy teaching online

    ...or... Top Ten Reasons my new job is right for me

    10. It lets me unleash my inner geek.

    9. I can have a bad hair day and no one will know.

    8. I step into the hall and breathe the rarified air of administration (we're on the same floor as Student Services, Special Ed., and Title I, among other powerful offices)

    7. I get to work with a bunch of other teachers unleashing their own inner geeks.

    6. I can play with clip art and pretend I'm working.

    5. I'm a good independent worker. Bloggers & writers are often self-motivated types, and I'm both.

    4. Those headsets with microphones look oh so fashionable with my hearing aids.

    3. I never need to leave sub plans! Well, that's both a blessing and a curse.

    2. My "Teaching Wisconsin to Read" coffee cup can sit by my side, full, all morning.

    1. I can use the bathroom any time I need it and not have to wait for a recess bell!

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    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Fun with a Can of Baked Beans

    We keep a few cans of beans in the pantry in case we need a side dish for a simple meal. We almost never make the can plain, as sold. It's not that they're bad; they're quite good. It's more like gee, we could have fun with this. Let's make that can of beans into --

    Denver (no omelet) Beans

    1 can (28 oz.) Bush's original baked beans
    Sautee ingredients:
    green pepper
    red bell pepper
    red onion
    lemon pepper
    cayenne pepper
    white pepper
    smoky Tabasco sauce
    minced garlic

    Simmer beans in medium pan over low heat.
    Saute peppers and onions in olive oil until soft. Add to simmering beans.
    Add a dash of each spice to simmering beans.
    Simmer until warmed through.
    Serve with fresh chopped tomato on top to balance the spiciness.

    Calico Beans

    One can (28 oz.) Bush's original baked beans
    One can (14 oz.) butter beans
    Touch of brown sugar
    Dash of balsamic vinegar

    Mix both types of beans, sugar, and balsamic vinegar, and simmer in a medium pot until warm.

    Beans and Weenies

    Leftover beans, plain or either of the kinds above.
    1 leftover hot dog, bratwurst, or any cooked sausage. Best if grilled.

    Slice sausage. Mix into beans. Heat until warm. Serve for lunch or solo supper; a classic leftover.
    This is one of Amigo's favorites. He makes it himself.

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    Monday, October 10, 2011

    As the Farmers' Market season winds down...

    Need I say more? I didn't think so.
    I feel sad when the outdoor farmers' market closes for the year, but
    I feel pleased that I've preserved so much of the goodness for later in the winter.

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    Friday, October 07, 2011

    Eating the Opponent: Green Bay vs. Atlanta

    It's time for Georgia peaches and Coke with peanuts!

    Last year I made peach cobbler and it was delicious. I also have peach jam this year - made from Wisconsin and Upper Michigan peaches, but tasty. Very tasty. We served Coke products with the meal, of course.

    If you're new to Eating the Opponent, we've developed a tradition of looking at the Green Bay Packers schedule and serving a local dish from the opposing team's locale. Sometimes it's sincere, sometimes it's tongue in cheek. We had bear claws for breakfast the day of last season's Conference Championship game in Chicago.

    Lately, Wisconsin sports fans have offered up a lot of great play for fans, and a lot of fun eating for us. Our Brewers keep on hitting and defending their Beast-ly title, too. And the Wisconsin Badgers? Last week was easy; sweet corn on the cob to represent Nebraska. This weekend, we'll eat our fill of good food and cheer on our favorite team: last year's Super Bowl Champs, the Green Bay Packers.

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    Thursday, October 06, 2011

    Celebrating Abilities Week and more

    Sometimes there are just too many celebrations and commemoration days/weeks/months. This week in my fair city the downtown area and the school district have their version of Disability Awareness. In our neck of the woods, we call it Celebrating Abilities. I've had concerns about the way this group has portrayed disabled people as cute, incapable, very needy children. In the past few years they have changed their focus for the better. A few years ago they sponsored a recital that included a blind violinist and a cellist with one arm. Both are very talented musicians.

    This year the theme is faces: the face of disability. Promotional posters feature adults, many of whom work at Goodwill Industries. It's a step forward, but also a step back, as the majority of the poster models have cognitive disabilities.

    Why not take this a step farther? Follow a disabled adult like me through a normal workday. It might be dull, and maybe that's the point. I need some accommodations, but I'm an average, everyday professional on the job. I'm not a poster child for anything; I'm a teacher. A teacher with a hearing impairment, yes, but mainly a teacher.

    I announced my new hearing aids to my coworkers via email, the norm in our online environment. I explained that I was adjusting to the new technology and they might need to bear with me for a little while. Within three minutes I had several replies, all positive.

    One called me a good sport and an inspiration.
    One thanked me for educating him about hearing loss.
    Several wished me good luck with the transition.
    One put a lump in my throat with her supportive comments.

    This is the reality of being a disabled person. In some work environments, my hearing loss was basis for bullying and ridicule. In a positive work climate, dealing with my disability is not a big deal. My coworkers and I simply, well, deal with it, pass the coffee, and get back to work.

    October's calendar also sports a depression awareness movement. Our wellness department, officially called the Office of Lifestyle Enhancement, included in their newsletter a short paragraph and several information links. One year ago, I could have been the poster model for this devastating illness. I'm recovering - not recovered yet, but making major progress. Working with positive people is a huge factor in developing peace of mind. A safe workplace makes a big difference as I'm healing - and beyond.

    If you're interested, here are the links:

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    Tuesday, October 04, 2011

    Variations on a Soup Theme

    Readers, you know me. I'll see a recipe and say "I could make that! But...." and then the variations begin. This one started as a Lentil soup. I didn't have lentils, but I had beans. Kidney beans. No, I know, they're not the same, but as the basis for a soup, they'll both work. Prep the beans first; soak overnight, at least. I put mine in the crock pot on high for a few hours, then turned it to Keep Warm for overnight. In the morning, I rinsed the beans and started over with the rest of the ingredients.

    Daisy's Variations on a Soup

    1/2 cup dried beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1/2 cup chopped red or green pepper (or both)
    1 clove garlic, minced
    4 cups chicken broth
    1 1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh basil OR 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
    1 teaspoon fresh oregano OR 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
    3/4 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary OR 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1 cup chopped chicken or turkey (save this until Thanksgiving leftovers - sure, why not?)
    1/2 cup sliced carrots
    1/4 cup quick-cooking barley
    1 14 1/2 oz. can of tomatoes - or the equivalent in fresh tomatoes, if you have them

    Prepare beans by soaking overnight. Rinse.
    Add all other ingredients except the chicken and barley.
    Simmer all day long - 4-6 hours on high, 6-8 on low.
    Add chicken and barley 1 to 2 hours before serving.

    Serving suggestion: serve with Nuts and Twigs bread topped with Nutella.

    Note: I was really attracted to this recipe because I have basil, oregano, and rosemary growing wildly on my deck. I feel pressured to use up as much as I can before the frost hits. Coincidentally, Chuck brought home a rotisserie chicken for lunch on Sunday. The leftover chicken will be perfect for this. It's all part of meal planning according to what's in the house already. Well, in the house or growing outside the house, that is.


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    Monday, October 03, 2011

    What to wear?

    Most weekends it's easy. Pick something green and gold out of the closet, support our Super Bowl Champion (I never tire of saying that!) Green Bay Packers.

    Friday I wore the usual to work - pink Packers polo shirt, neutral sweater in case the room was drafty. But then.... but then....

    Saturday the Milwaukee Brewers started a playoff run. The Wisconsin Badgers had a big game on national importance. Brewers blue or Bucky Badger red? Or both? Or neither?

    We expanded our Eating the Opponent plan instead. Saturday night's dinner included grilled Black Angus beef (the Denver Broncos), sweet corn on the cob (Nebraska Cornhuskers), and a nice salsa in the omelets we ate for lunch.

    No matter, both teams won decisively on Saturday followed by another great set of games on Sunday. It's a good time to be a sports fan in Wisconsin. Whatever I wear, however we decorate the cubicles (Brewers and Packers in mine, Badgers across the wall in the math teacher's space), autumn is going to be fun.

    Badgers 48
    Cornhuskers 17

    Brewers 4
    Diamondbacks 1

    Packers 49
    Broncos 17

    Brewers 9
    Diamondbacks 4

    On, Wisconsin -- sports!!

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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.