Monthly Archives: January 2018

Yummy Yummy In My Tummy: Dinner

Inspired by Math by the Mountain’s weekly meal prep posts, I’m sharing some yummy recipes today. Now, I consider myself a pretty good baker, but (cue Richard Nixon voice) I am not a cook. I’m a math gal; I need specific rules to follow, none of this “a dash” “10 – 50 minutes, depending” or “to taste.” So if I can make these recipes, I bet you can as well.

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
Recipe from Genius Kitchen

Mr. Craig gets the credit for finding this recipe. I’m not a big pasta eater, but I usually clean my plate on this one. And now that we’ve made it about once a week for the last six months, we have it down to a science and can get it on the table in 15 minutes. After cooking it that many times, I’ve tweaked the recipe by (1) cutting out the tomatoes, green onions, and Parmesan cheese (but that’s just weird pickiness and laziness of not wanting to chop things) (2) increasing the cream to ¾ cup because more cream is never wrong, and (3) using the Buitoni refrigerated linguine-it just seems a bit tastier than boxed.

Yoste Roast
Recipe from Today Show

I made this from the What Can I Bring? cookbook and Mr Craig could not stop raving about how yummy it was! It’s even better the next day(s) on sandwiches. Even though a roast that big is kind of pricey, we got 4 days worth of dinner out of it. And those meals were darn good. Serving as sandwiches would also be a great party dish. Now a bit of truth in advertising: my roast turned out like a pot roast, delicious, tender, and fall-apart, not like the lovely strips in the picture. I just wanted you to be prepared in case you had this big, elegant, Pinterest display planned, as I’m sure you normally do for dinner.

Sheet Pan Chicken
Recipe from Barefeet in the Kitchen

Spoiler: if you come over to my house for dinner, you’ll probably be getting this meal. It is so easy, yet looks impressive when you plate it. Plus you put it in the oven 50 minutes before dinner and then you’re done. Be careful not to overcrowd your sheet pan or you won’t get the perfect crispiness on the potatoes or green beans (and I think the crispy green beans are my favorite part!). Also, maybe I’m just a meatasaur, but one chicken thigh is not enough for me. When I’m serving 4 people, I keep the potatoes and green beans the same, but buy another pack of chicken thighs, mix everything up in the biggest bowl I have, and split the recipe across two sheet pans.

The Sugar Cookies that Will Change the Way You Think about Sugar Cookies

We have a local German bakery that has the best sugar cookies that I have been trying to duplicate forever. These do not duplicate them, but they are even better. Now the problem I have is that nobody “wants” sugar cookies. I get requests for chocolate chip, chocolate crinkles, peanut butter…, but sad ol’ sugar cookie never gets invited. But I bring them anyway because people don’t know what they really want until I tell them and, what do you know, these cookies become the life of the party and always get invited back. Seriously, I found the recipe in October and I think I’ve made them seven times already (and I haven’t baked at all in January!).

I used a google hack of adding “best” when I searched “sugar cookie recipe,” and read a few of top hits, then modified this one from A Spicy Perspective  by (1) cutting the recipe in half [pro-tip: WRITE all the half amounts on a post-it so you don’t accidently put in the wrong amount when you’re glancing at the recipe] (2) adding ¼ teaspoon of almond extract (3) using the smallest OXO cookie scoop and baking for about 8 minutes.

Man, just typing about them makes me want to break my no-baking-in-January pledge! Enjoy! 🙂

Category: Uncategorized

My Year in Books

This year I definitely embraced my librarian-ness and read 94 books (ooh, so close to 100!). You can my Goodreads Year in Books here, or just look at all the pretty covers:

I have been thinking it hasn’t been a great year for books for me (there’s probably an additional 10-15 not listed that I did not finish), but looking back there have definitely been some that have warmed my heart! I am quite stingy with my 5 star ratings (it must be a book that I want to put in the hands of every person that I know), but these are the ones that made the cut.

My Favorite Book of the Year

Chemistry by Weike Wang
I love this type of writing of style: short, succinct, and a bit snarky. This is the only book I’ve ever left on my Kindle after reading it because I knew I wanted to read it again. Which I am doing right now and loving it just as much as the first time. It follows a woman trying to get her PhD in Chemistry and it is funny and sad and moving and smart. For all you math lovers out there, the epigraph of the book is the mathematical definition of epigraph. Swoon! (psst, if you like this style of writing, check out Suzanne Finnamore’s Otherwise Engaged and The Zygote Chronicles, two of my favorite books of all time.)

Other Five-Star Books:

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crowe by Jessica Townsend
Yes, I know you’ve heard a lot of “this is the next Harry Potter,” but this might actually be true in this case (there’s already plans for a movie). There is just so much to love about this book–it’s fast-paced, heartwarming, and wonderful world-building. If you have kids, this would make a great read aloud (I know because this was the book I did read it aloud on our Thanksgiving road trip to Houston. Made the 11-hour drive fly by!)

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
John Green at his finest, making you love a girl with mental health issues without turning her into a manic pixie dream girl. I think anyone who knows someone dealing with mental health issues should read this, by which I mean everyone should read this.

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris
This brought back memories of the wonderfully fun, nonsensical poetry of Shel Silverstein. Another great book to read aloud, but be prepared for pleas of “just one more!”

The War that Saved my Life and The Way I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I love books that make you want to give every character a hug and a warm mug of tea. I also love any book involving found family. And I love books with imperfect heroines. Summary: I loved these books.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
“Why would I want to read a book about octopuses?” BECAUSE OCTOPUSES ARE AWESOME. And this book is wonderfully written and gives you a sense of awe and wonder about nature and life. AND ALSO OCTOPUSES ARE AWESOME.

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse
So I read that other best non-fiction book of the year about crime and it felt a little bit like homework. The story was interesting, but I just couldn’t get into it. Then I read American Fire and remembered that the telling of the story is just as important as the story. Even though the culprit is known early in the book, Hesse kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole wild ride.

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet
Yes, it has a really weird title. But every time I see this book in the library, I clutch my heart and let out a little sigh because it’s another book where you want to give every character a hug and hot cocoa. Plus, feel old as the history of the Berlin Wall is explained to children who have no memory of seeing pieces of it for sale in department stores. Also has a beautifully written scene about jigsaw puzzles.

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
First: THE DOG IS OK. I repeat, THE DOG IS OK. (Yes, I did have to flip forward, which I never do, to check.) Do you like rockets? Do you like kids and narrators that see the world a little differently? Do you like found family novels? Do you like books where the DOG IS OK? Then read this already, ok?!?!

Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
Make sure to read the book-book of this and not the ebook, because each page is a work of art. I had no idea E.B. White may be one of my favorite authors. And it introduced me to this letter.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I did have to bump this rating up from 4 to 5 because I spent the entire year telling people to read this book. An important read that would make a great school-wide book club choice.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This book is indescribable, as it is “not exactly a memoir,” but more if you had a super-awesome, funny, smart best friend who would email or text you random bits about her life. Knowing that she died from ovarian cancer in March (but not before trying to find her husband a new wife), makes many of the entries that much more moving. Another book that needs to be read in book-book form and not an ebook.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
This was almost going to be my favorite book of the year. It reminded me of the best part of Harry Potter, which is the band of three against the world. There are dragons and knights and books and, of course, holy dogs! This would also be a great read aloud and has so much to discuss about morality, friendship, otherness, books, history….  I plan on listening to the audiobook for the start of my fitbos challenge next year, but then again, the book is so charmingly illuminated, I may want to read the hardcover again. I really want someone else to read it so we can talk about how magical it is.

For 2018, I’m going to try to tweet my reviews using #read2018. Please join me!

Category: Life Outside of School | Tags:


It’s back! The third annual Fitbos challenge! Because working out is always better with friends!

Here are some FAQs about the challenge:

What is the #Fitbos18 challenge?  Set your own workout hours goal for the year, make that goal public by entering it on the first sheet at At the bottom, you’ll notice tabs for each month. This is where you can enter your daily workout times (if you’d rather enter them by week, just put the week’s totals in for one day). The front sheet should update your times.

What if I want to do something other than hours, like miles or steps or pushups?
The spreadsheet is set up to convert minutes to hours. For each month, in cell 7 in your column, simply delete the “/60” part of the formula.

How did this start? In 2015, for some reason, I signed up for #500milesin2015. I made it (and did a 10K!) but not without some “knee awareness.” I wanted to still have a yearly goal but be able to vary the workouts, so I started a google spreadsheet last year. Each year I always end up slacking for the first half and then amping it up for the last quarter, but I have made my goals!

What should my goal be? I’m doing 150 because it’s a nice number. 3 hours a week with a two-week vacation. Some people are doing 100 hours, some people are doing 275. I try to find the line between possible and believable and that is something different for everyone. We don’t judge.

What counts? We’re not the exercise police. If you think it counts, count it. My rule of thumb is, “Am I not sitting on my butt when I rather would be?”  Hiking? Of course. Snow-shoveling? I’ve heard that such a thing is actually quite the workout. Dance-vacuuming? Hey, if you break a sweat and have a clean house, double bonus! Walking around the school during your planning period? Great way to get in some extra minutes and get re-energized! I personally do a mix of walking the dogs when the weather is nice and youtube videos and DVDs from Jessica Smith when the weather isn’t.

What if something doesn’t work on the spreadsheet? Yes, I was lazy and just made a copy of last year’s and did some tweaking (I changed % month to monthly hours left because math is hard), so there may be some wonkiness left over. Just shoot me a tweet (I don’t check blog comments very often) and I’ll try to get it sorted!

What if I’m a fitbit user? Sarah Martin (@Sarah3Martin) has a fitbit fitbos challenge group. You can give her your info and she will add you to the group for weekly challenges if you need more (or different) motivation.

What do I get when I complete my goal? Your hours turn green and you get a monthly shout-out on Twitter from me.

Who completed the 2017 challenge? Congrats to:

Kristen (@fouss) 170 hours (100% of goal)
Shelly (@stcarranza) 110 hours (100%)
Tina (@TPalmer207) 120 hours (100%)
Shelli (@druinok) 135 hours (113%)
Sue (@dsrussosusan) 2,418 miles (120%)
Dave (@daveLanovaz) 179 hours (105%)
Mary Anne (@mahiker) 425 hours (!!) (106%)
Jennifer (@hhsmath) 185 hours (109%)
Jim (@mrdardy) 207 hours (114%)
Megan (@megandubee) 278 hours (110%)
Laura (@laura_wagenman) 280 hours (102%)
Elissa (@misscalculate) 2017 miles (100%)
Me! 170 hours (100%)

What does it feel like to complete your #fitbos goal?

And to answer your final question, “where do I sign up again?!

Category: Uncategorized