Zen and the Art of Homework

Dictionary

It’s been about a year since I started a new job and a full time Masters Program. Life is funny that way, isn’t it? You look, and look, and look for a job in your desired field, and then BAM, a job comes out of nowhere, and you didn’t even have to get a resume together. And then you talk, and talk, and debate, and talk about whether you should go back to school, then BAM, you get into your first choice program and begin.

Life cycles are bizarre and curious things. I sit at my dining room table every evening doing homework with both my 4th and 6th graders (my Kindergarten draws or cuts out snowflakes). We have conversations about assignments, and productivity, and whether highlighters are better than simply underlying text with a pen. “I can’t tuck you into bed tonight,” I’ll call upstairs some evenings. “I have too much homework.”

“I can’t unload the dishwasher right now,” one of them will say. “I have too much homework.”

Going back to school, in some ways, has put me back into the same phase of life as my children. We bemoan our lack of reading-for-leisure time. We compete about who has the greater work load and complain about assigned readings we feel are boring and irrelevant. We pass a thesaurus around when we write papers. We accuse each other of jamming the printer. We debate the merits of having several thinner loose leaf notebooks over having one giant one.

pencilsWe are in two separate life cycles, that bisect and conjoin at a shared arc. My daughters have barely embarked on their education journey, and I’m hoping to be at the end of mine. And yet, in the middle somewhere, in this place of shared learning and studying, our goals mirror and match.

I head to Charlotte, North Carolina for my third MFA residency in early January. And before then, I’ll be buried in assignments for school. Keep an eye out for a couple of upcoming pieces of mine on ArtsATL, but otherwise, I hope you have a wonderful end of 2013.

I’ll see you on the other side.

Once Shy, Twice Bitten

I am an atrocious baker. Really, I don’t know anyone who is as bad at baking as me. Roughly half of everything I try doesn’t turn out right. I make an awesome Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie. It’s so good, I usually bake 10 dozen or so a year to give away to friends. But that’s about it. Cakes and muffins (I won’t even bother to try pies) only come out about fifty percent of the time.

So you know if I’m going to share a recipe with you, it’s because I’ve baked it at least three times and it comes out every time, i.e., any idiot can get it right. So here are some muffins that have recently come out really well for me. And if you’re dairy-free, you just need to substitute nuts or fruit for the chocolate chips. It makes between 24-28 muffins, perfect for any household that enjoys binging on junk food.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins:

– 3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

– 2 cups of old fashioned rolled oats

– 3 teaspoons of baking powder

– 1 teaspoon of baking soda

– 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

– 2 teaspoons of nutmeg

– 2 tablespoons of vanilla

– 1 cup of honey

– 4 egg whites

– 1 and 1/3 cups unsweetened almond milk

– 2 cups of pure, canned pumpkin

– 2/3 cup of unsweetened, all natural applesauce

– 1 ripe banana, mashed

– 1 bag of Ghiredelli chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line muffin tins with paper cups or spray with butter or olive oil. Mix together flour, oatmeal, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, mashed banana, honey, almond milk, egg whites, applesauce. Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Add a ridiculous amount of chocolate chips (1 bag if you’re feeling really greedy). Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full, then sprinkle a little oatmeal on top. Bake for 25-28 minutes.

Happy eating!

Lighting Up in the ATL

There was a time, about 7 years ago, when I desperately wanted to relocate to another town. When I realized it wasn’t going to work out, and that my family and I would be moving to Atlanta instead, I was depressed for days.

Now, after spending six and a half years living in the Atlanta metro area, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I will consider myself very, very lucky, if I can live here for the rest of my life. Because I will never have enough time to do all the wonderful things that this city has to offer.

Here are a few photos from the amazing Garden Lights show going on right now, at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Earth Mother

Earth Mother

cropped-garden-lights-christmas-tree.jpgcropped-garden-lights-poinsettias.jpgGarden Lights Globes

Have you ever seen a cobra with Christmas lights? Well, now you have.

Have you ever seen a cobra with Christmas lights? Well, now you have.

Garden Lights Closeup Cobra Tree

Another picture...because it really is that impressive.

Another picture…because it really is that impressive.