Clapping On The Down Beat

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Fear of ….. November 2, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:47 PM

So it’s been a while.    Goals are dreams with deadlines, and I have set a few.   I started substitute teaching this fall, just to see if it’s still a love.  I spent a whole week teaching the periodic table to 6th grade science classes.  I loved it.  I guess it had been on the back burner for so long, I didn’t even know I missed it.  But, that may be because I have never really stopped teaching.

I have been in Texas 11 years now.  I decided it was time to actually get TX certified to teach.  Then I remembered all the things I didn’t like about education…… So after many phone calls, on-line registrations, and ordering a review book, I committed to take the Texas Science 4-8 certification exam.

No worries!?

I was an Environmental Science and Geography Major with a specialization in Biogeochemistry.  Although I love science, I haven’t taught in 12 years.   I have had three kids that I think have killed half my brain cells.  I have to do one thing at a time, because otherwise multitasking causes me to forget what I was doing.  I have been doing other things for the past 12 years (teaching group fitness classes, yoga classes, went to culinary school).  Pluto isn’t a planet anymore….

Fear seems to either cause people to not do something, or push people to do something.  Don’t let fear take grip.  Let fear fuel.  Honestly, the fear of failing made me study and focus more.  Nothing has ever come easy for me, I have always poured myself into it and worked at it.  I am not an expert in anything, but I do love learning.

The scope of the test was Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Science.  Some of the subjects I haven’t thought about since undergrad.  Krebs cycle?  Plant and animal cells? Circuits?  Calculating joules, newtons and coulombs?  Balancing equations, calculation moles?  Bowens reaction series?  Yes, the fear of spending the money on the test and not passing (and having to take it again) drove me to study, review, diagram, read, take practice tests, and review again.

And secretly, I liked it.

If there was a paid job for “student”, I would apply.

Last Thursday was the test.  100 multiple choice questions on a computer.  After the test I was told 3-5 business days for scores.  Ugh!  The wait.  The second guessing.  The praying.

Yesterday I got the email.  Scores were in.  I had……….



Undivided Attention August 23, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Parenthood,Sharing and Caring,travel — clappingonthedownbeat @ 12:44 PM

Today is the second day of school.  Summer is over.

I think this has been one of out best summers.  It seems as the kids get older, the summer gets easier.  We picked a few camps for them to attend- now it’s more sleep away camps.  We planned some down days, and we planned some adventure days.

I have had a list of places I have wanted to go, but time has always escaped.  However, this year I planned ahead.  We did 2 museum days in Dallas.

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Dallas Heritage Village lunch at Angry Dog and then the Frontier Flight Museum

The second trip was inspired by the trip Kate’s girl scout troop made to Austin at the beginning of the summer.  The troop was working on a government badge and we visited the LBJ library, the UT campus, 2 tours of the state capital, Congress bridge bats, swimming, BBQ and lots of fun.  As we toured the LBJ library, I thought what a fun history lesson to connect to Dallas.  SO, I rented the 3 hour long documentary on JFK and we all watched it.  Then we went to Sixth Floor MuseumOld Red Museum and lunch at Klyde Warren Park.

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We also went to Turner Falls, OK for hiking and swimming, Waco to the Mammoth National Park Site The Magnolia Market Silos for lunch and Dr. Pepper Museum

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The best part of all these trips is the undivided attention I have from my kids and they have from me.  We have had some of the best conversations, funniest moments and we have no distractions.  There was one teachable moment that really stood out.

We took a trip to Lawton, OK to get a burger.  (yes, its part of my discovering the 5 best burgers in OK)  It was about a 3 hour trip one way.  Meers store and restaurant used to be a mining cabin, but now serves burgers.  It also serves a lot of service men and women due to Ft. Sills located a few miles away.  As we were eating lunch, we noticed a young man dressed in fomal military attire eating with his family.  The kids asked about him, and I told them that he probably came from the base we passed on the way in.  When it came time to checkout, I told our server that we would pick up the service mans bill.  The owner said that they were nervous about having time to eat since he had to be back for graduation ceremony.

For about an hour of the ride home we talked about creating a ripple effect of “doing good” or “paying it forward”.   Small things that we do for one another can have a great impact.  Just recognizing someone, eye contact and a smile, showing appreciation and gratitude can go a long way.  What is your ripple effect?



Oh Sweet Breakfast. May 15, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 3:36 PM

I  {L O V E}  Breakfast.  French toast, pancakes, bicuits, coffee cakes, egg bakes, croissants, kringles ……

So here is a new breakfast treat, or dessert. Bostock.

First, make frangipane.

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract

Place almonds and sugar in a food processor and pulse till nuts are finley ground.  Then add softened butter, egg and extract.  Pluse till it comes together as a paste.

Slice a loaf of challah or brioche (thick cut soft bread).  You can brush with a vaniall simple syrup (1 cup water + 1 cup sugar + 1 vanilla bean or add 1tsp vanilla extract when cooled- bring to a boil till sugar dissolves then let cool).  Then spread 1 Tsp apricot jam (or your favorite) over the bread.  Then spoon over 2-3 Tbsp frangipane over the jam.  Place bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 13-16 minutes till top is golden.  Then sprinkle with powedered sugar.



Secret short cuts May 13, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Organization,Sharing and Caring,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:21 PM

I usually like soup for lunch, but with the weather warming up, sometimes I like a little variety.  Yes, salads are good, but even salads after a while get boring.

How about a Ploughman’s Lunch?

If you like to nibble or snack, this is a great lunch.  It is a English “farmer’s lunch”.  It can consist of hard boiled eggs, cold cuts, bread, crackers, cheese, fruits (fresh or dried), vegetables, dips/spread and nuts.

Starbucks even has some bistro boxes that look like a ploughman’s lunch.

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I love Machego cheese, crackers, apples, cashews or almonds, hummus, carrots…..the list goes on.

Here’s a quick trick to hard boiled eggs.  I take a muffin tin, either 6 cup or 12 cup, and place an egg in each one.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the eggs for 30 minutes and then place immediatly into an bowl of ice water.  Let them cool 5-10 minutes and then store in the fridge.


We also eat a lot of oatmeal.  I buy a 7lb bag of steel cut oats at a time.  I can grind up my own oat flour or eat oatmeal.  Steel cut oats take a long time to cook, so to short cut a breakfast, I bring 3 cups water to boil in a pot in the evening.  When I it boiling I add 1 cup steel cut oats, turn the burner off, and cover the pot.  I let it sit overnight.  In the morning, I add 1/2c. milk and heat up the oatmeal.  It’s creamy and perfect and makes for a hearty fast breakfast.  I have one who likes to stire in peanut butter, one who likes raisins and I like dried fruit and a little granola.



A Little Reflection. May 9, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:48 PM

I went to a memorial service today.  For a 1 year old.  And even though, it was anticipated, it seemed sudden.

The family frequently posted journals on Caring Bridge, and I always appreciated the honesty, faith and love that they shared through the posts.  It was a way to feel connected.

Knowing that I was teaching yoga today, then my tire light went off in the car, and I rushed home to get the kids after school for the memorial, I had not planned dinner.

Pressure cooker.   We have a love/scared to death relationship.


It really is fantastic.  It just scares me when the steam starts coming out.  Really.  I stay out of the kitchen till the timer goes off.


I bought some heirloom Mexican beans when I was in California.  These cooked up beautifully in the pressure cooker with a ham hock and an onion.  They were the size of a kidney bean, the color of a pinto (like a milk chocolate) but really creamy.

And how about a bacoeggcado?  A poached egg, in an avocado wrapped in bacon.  I am still working on getting the bacon to stay on wrapped tightly on the avocado.





Back into the Routine April 25, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:58 PM

Coming back from a break can make it hard to get back into the routine.

I haven’t been as good about writing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been making messes in the kitchen.

Here’s a fun recipe and a great secret tip.

Mediterranean Sliders:

1 pkg ground turkey or chicken

4 green onions, finely chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

(optional: 1/4 c. – 1/3 c. feta cheese)

In a bowl gently mix all ingredients .  Form small patties (sliders).  Sauté in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.  Serve on slider buns or in a pita with cucmbers, tomatoes and lettuce.


I really like hummus and  taziki sauce with this too.  (Mix plain greek yogurt with shredded cucmbers, fresh dill, lemon juice, salt/pepper).


Quick Hummus:

One 15-ounce can chickpeas- drained and reserve liquid
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup well-stirred tahini, use store-bought
large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water

I like to saute the garlic in the olive oil first.  Then in a food processor, puree all the ingredients.  Add water as needed to thin out the hummus.

Here’s a secret:  save the chickpea liquid.  It’s high in protein and it can be whipped up like egg whites.  I use them as an egg replacement for baking or in my waffle recipe.  Save your eggs to eat and bake with replacements.



I also finished a quilt for my science-loving son while he was away at camp.

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I’m a little behind…..CA trip summary April 13, 2016

Filed under: Interests,travel — clappingonthedownbeat @ 8:44 PM

I came back from my trip to Napa, CA and was excited to post pictures, but I brought the flu back with me.  After laying low, and then uploading all my pictures, I’m ready to share my trip!

We drove up to Berkley the afternoon we arrived.  Chez Panisse was on my list to vist.


Chez Panisse- new American Gourmet.  Known as one of the inspirations for California cuisine. Restaurateur, author, and food activist Alice Waters co-founded Chez Panisse in 1971 with film producer Paul Aratow, then professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. The restaurant focuses on ingredients rather than technique, and has developed direct relationships with local farmers, ranchers, and dairies.  This is where farm-to-table began.

The service was outstnding, the food was simple and divine.


Roasted Turnip soup with sorrel and creme fraiche.


Grapefuit and avocado salad with kumquats.


My mom and I both had the halibut.  It was baked perfect with butter and white wine.  I wanted to lick the plate (but I didn’t).

I came to eat, so I wasn’t going to leave without dessert.


Rhubarb Galette with vanilla ice cream.

Here is a picture of the open kitchen.


We then headed up to Napa.


A great doccumentary movie (that I also find funny- but it’s not a comedy) is Somm.  It follows four guys who are studying to be a Master Sommelier.

SOMM trailer

DAY 2:

We had a tour scheduled at Beringer.


This was a great first stop to learn about the history of the area, the types of soils that the wine grape varietals grow in, how the wine is harvested and made.  This time of year is bud season.  The grape vines are just beginning to bud, the weather is perfect (70’s) and it is not crowded.  We toured the wine caves, had a barrel tasting, and did a food and wine pairing.  Since I am not much of a wine drinker, the pairing was fasicnating.  I really noticed how much the taste of the wine changed based on what type of food we were eating with it.

As a side note- I couldn’t help but think about this book series I read.  Secrets (The Michelli Family Series Book #1):  by Kristen Heitzmann


To have a wine label that says Napa Valley, 95% of the grapes have to come from Napa by law.  Other wines label California- come from somehwere else.

Next stop was the CIA, which was next door in the Greystone (old Christian Brothers Winery).


We had lunch here.  There is a student run restaurant.  I had a lentil soup and a goat cheese salad.  My mom had an roasted eggplant sandwich.


The rest of the afternoon we drove around a just stopped at some smaller wineries like Frog’s Leap, Rutherford, Elizabeth Spencer, and we did an olive oil tasting at Round Pound.    We stopped at V. Sattui, which has an amazing deli to grab some “snacks” for dinner.  Our hotel was serving wine from Mario Andretti’s vineyard (can’t say much for celebrity wines).

Day 3:


This was truly the “vacation day”.  We headed up to the northern part of Napa towards Calistoga stopping by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.  They won the Paris Blind Tasting in 1976 (that was a good year!) for their Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was a HUGE deal because the vines were only 3 years old. We also visited Chateau Montelena which won the 1976 Paris tasting for their Chardonnay.  Without boring you with a bunch of wine knowledge and history- there is a good movie about it called Bottle Shock.

Bottle Shock trailer

Chris Pine plays Bo.

This is Bo now.


This was the wine.


We also stopped at Castle Di Amarosa.  It is modeled after a Tuscan Castle.


Did I mention how wonderful Napa smells?  There was jasmine, orange blossoms, and flowers blooming everywhere.


Calistoga is know for their mud baths, so how could we not try a mud bath?


Yes, it was awesome.  Then there was a mineral bath soak, steam room and a massage.  AND………..dinner at Bouchon.  Bouchon is the Bistro to the French Laundry.


We had this amazing French dinner, and stopped by the bakery to get some treats for breakfast the next day.  Since restaurants are like museums to me, I wanted to go see the French Laundry and have my picture taken there.  (The French Laundry is one of the top 50 best restaurants in the world).  This is where my birthday trip is frosted and has a cherry on top.


So, I take my picture by the French Laundry- Thomas Keller’s restaurant- and I think “I’m just going to ask for a clothes pin” (it’s like grabbing a match book- it’s a souvenir).  When I ask the Marte’ D, he was so friendly and hospitable, that he not only got me a clothespin, but the menu of the evening, a magazine they publish twice a year, short bread cookies, AND invited me to go back to the kitchen and meet the chef and tour the kitchen!!


DO you see the stars above us?  They are a 3 star Michelin restaurant.   I got to talk to Chef  David for about 15 minutes.  It was incredible.  If you like movies here are a few other favorite restaurant related movies….



The Hundred Foot Journey


Day 4: Etude, drive through Sonoma, Sausalito, San Francisco for the afternoon/evening.



Those are the highlights……….a very memorable trip and a great vacation destination- even if you don’t drink wine.