Sunday, December 20, 2009

Marshmallows

In the holly jolly spirit and armed with the holiday issue of Taste of Home, I decided to tackle homemade marshmallows. I only started chronicling the process on day two, so I don't have pictures of being hunched over the candy thermometer waiting for it to read 240 degrees (which is soft ball stage...which means nothing to me but that's what the magazine said.) Nor do I have pictures of my mixer whipping the ingredients into the best looking fluff I've ever seen. I didn't know something that delicious looking could come out of my kitchen. But, I do have pictures of day two.



The delicious-looking fluff was poured into a foil lined pan to sit overnight. The tin foil was coated with butter for easy removal. Then I used a cooking spray coated pizza cutter to make little cubes. This is just before I cut apart the last row.



Here's the decoration stage at which time Bryan joined me. We were a little over zealous with the chocolate and cherry chocolate at first and backed off to create the drizzled marshmallows in the foreground. The overly dunked marshmallows were eaten shortly after this picture was taken.



And here are the marshmallows doing their job in our cocoa.



And here is the view while we drank our cocoa. Ho Ho Ho indeed.

Rhythm of Life





My friend Jessica had her final art show on December 12. She called her show "Rhythm of Life" and I wish I had a video of Jessica's artist's talk because she said some really profound things that make viewing the art that much better.
My favorite quote from her talk:
"The blank canvas knows me better than anyone."

In lieu of a video, I'll put some excerpts from her artist's statement:

"My artwork is centered on my faith, which is the core of my life. I express a passion for life; it affirms a truth I find in nature and life itself."

"I like the freedom of expressing oneself with abstract thoughts, but using concrete feelings, thus, I feel compelled to act out on what evokes those feelings through my works of art. Early practitioners of expressionism and abstraction wanted art to become more like music; I share this view, and as such, I paint to a personal rhythm conveying the suggestion of the “rhythm of life” as I see it."

"I love the way paint moves on the canvas and how one color unites with another. Using strong brush strokes, higher energy and vivid colors, I express emotions that have moved me. The scale of the pieces is necessary to articulate the overwhelming power of these emotions and the natural world around us. Paint goes from edge-to-edge continuing beyond the border, leaving you with a sense of never ending possibilities that are before us. Trusting in a higher power is paramount in the conceptual process that goes beyond feelings, thoughts and experiences. In every painting I reveal my life and the lives around me…The Rhythm of Life."









These were some of my favorites. They depicted the four seasons and stood well over seven feet high. Challenge: decide which season is which. Jessica never did tell us which was which - how abstract!







I repeat: "The scale of the pieces is necessary to articulate the overwhelming power of these emotions and the natural world around us."









The whole show was beautiful and knowing all the work that went into it made me appreciate it even more.

It was also fun to see my friends again!



If you'd like to see the show for yourself and you're in Fargo, go to the NDSU Memorial Union Gallery. It will be up through January.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Cyber Monday

There is a perk to living in the middle of nowhere - shopping from the comfort of the office and not feeling guilty about shipping....because it's Cyber Monday and because it would cost me that much in gas to get to a shopping mecca with as many options as Amazon.
I'm enjoying seeing my order confirmations roll into my email inbox and checking the tracking numbers to see the various stops that my packages are making on their way to Cando.
I lamented not living near a Target when we first moved here; I may have found a suitable replacement...at least for holiday shopping.

In other condo news: Bryan bought a replacement paper shredder. He broke the first one after trying to put too many papers through. He did try really hard to fix it, but it was a goner. He brought the new one home, placed it on the counter and proclaimed, "Deuce!" Struck me funny. He's much more conservative with the allotment of paper he puts through deuce.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bliss on Film

I caught Bryan in a state of pure joy this evening - his new spotting scope came. Note how wrapped up he was with his new contraption.
video

Mission: Failed

As a teacher of writing (aka English teacher, but doesn't that sound better?) I think it's important that I write. I never envisioned myself as a novel writer, but when I stumbled upon a site called nanowrimo.org (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth) that challenged writers to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November, I saw myself as a novelist for the first time.


What I have learned: There's a LOT of words between 1 and 50,000 AND a big difference between someone who simply wants to write a novel and someone who actually does.

Someone who simply wants to write a novel will:
...award herself with a chip and salsa after every 20 words.
...spend more time formatting the titles of her chapters than actually writing the content of the chapters. (okay, honestly, chapter....not chapterS)
...think repeatedly, "The word 'novel' is daunting. Is writing several novellas cheating?"

I'm convinced someone who writes a novel does simply that - forces herself to sit and write.

I'm considering this mission sadly a failure because I sit with a Draft 1 that contains 3,500 words and I have 12 days left in November. I have to write roughly 3900 words each day to make it.



Maybe if I stopped wasting so many words blogging I could get it done...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hunting

I always envisioned myself as the person who was going to like deer hunting season because it meant I could be alone in the house or I could take a day trip somewhere. This year, I actually partook in the festivities.

Evidence:


Bryan wasn't successful today, though. He has a buck tag and all we saw were does.


Grammar note: I did some checking on "partook" and it is a word.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Coach

I've been very consumed lately with volleyball...as I was recently named the head coach. The REAL head coach is Canadian and had a little problem with his Visa a few weeks ago which led to him stepping down and me stepping up. I have a whole new respect for coaches of all kinds and though it's fun to make the big decisions I miss the days of simply telling the head coach how many time outs are left and answering the question, "Can I go to the bathroom?" during huddles.

My new Coach tennis shoes are getting a lot of wear, though.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What a great guy

After coaching in a small town last year where you really don't know anybody, I realized how important it was to have one fan there that you know. Bryan is my one fan and I couldn't be more grateful. He is the med bag carrier, the water getter, the after game synopsis listener and the patiently waiting driver while we calculate stats. I think coaching is good for our marriage.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"You are the only girl I know...

...who brings magazines in the combine." -Bryan

I enjoyed all 500 pages of InStyle's 15th anniversary issue while Bryan combined 50 acres of peas. A good day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Pictures, New Format


I'm trying out some new "teacher tools." This was made with animoto.com and I highly recommend it. This was my first trial video, but it took me about 4 minutes to do. Now all I have to do is figure out a productive way to use it in my classroom....

I hope the song choice seems clever to someone other than me. They give you some songs to choose from on the website and I thought this one was most appropriate.

Monday, August 10, 2009

No More Wallpaper!

Bryan and I officially defeated all of the wallpaper in the house this weekend. We took off the flowered wallpaper in the kitchen and replaced it with a coat of green paint. Much better.

BEFORE



AFTER





Friday, August 7, 2009

Forget Shaped Cakes...



...shaped PIES are the true delicacy (or so I decided after shaping this crust into the apple shape). The final product is really cute, so thanks Jessica for the great pie pan!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Belated

These pictures chronicle our anniversary weekend adventure (almost a month ago).

We went to Grand Forks for the weekend and stayed at a hotel with a water park...and after waiting all weekend to go down the waterslide, this is what I got:



The slide sliced my elbow open on only our second trip down. We had to quickly doctor me up in the vehicle so we could make it to Fiddler on the Roof in time.





We made it on time and enjoyed the show. Here's the set...I was too shy to take a picture during the actual show.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just Like a Movie

We went back to SD this weekend and got to see my Dad's airplane for the first time. It was really fun to finally see his hangar and runway - Wms. Field. It was too windy to fly, so we didn't see him in the air, but he took me for a taxi ride (is that the correct terminology?) down the runway. I told him that I felt like I was in a movie, but I didn't elaborate on what movie. So, more specifically Dad, I felt like I was in The Rescuers!



Your plane is much better than an albatross, but I think I thought about the Rescuers because when watching it as a kid I always thought it would be neat to travel on Albatross Airlines, but I knew I never would. So, in the same way, I never thought I'd get to sit in a two-seat airplane and taxi down a runway about 3 miles out of town. It had a Disney-esque surreal kind of feeling.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Mom taught me...

I'm trying to get things organized around here before school starts. Organizing means post-its, and I have been going through them rapidly (especially the large rectanglular lined ones that are perfect for list-making). I just ran out of my favorite aforementioned post-its and looked in the desk drawer and found a a whole never-been-opened package! It reminded me of home! My mom ALWAYS has post-its. I'm pretty sure the post-it trait isn't hereditary, so thanks mom for teaching me to buy lots of post-its.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bryan got a day off!

So we took a drive.


Our desination: Walhalla, ND - where you see flags like this because it's 6 miles from the border.


Before we could leave, though, we had to clean the pickup. This is Bryan's chrome polisher drill attachment. Made for a very shiny mobile.


We didn't really have a good reason for going to Walhalla, other than their tourism website really talked it up. The state park was "pretty country" - hilly and tree filled.


I was admiring the landscape, and thought Bryan was doing the same...


But most of the time he was admiring this.


After some learning,


and a picnic we went home - sunburned and happy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Loverly





I've done just a little superficial reading in Feng Shui...enough to know that each person has their ideal direction (north, south, east, or west). I haven't read enough to know if your direction can be influenced by a great view. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that either my ideal direction is east (the direction of the pictures above) or the pretty blooming tree has changed my ideal direction.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 3 of Summer Vacation






Bryan and I enjoyed an evening outdoors.

Hot dogs and Wavy Lays.

Yes, our patio furniture includes a bird bath with a Rubbermaid container lid on it.



Another story worth sharing:
I'm volunteering at the Lutheran church this week for their Vacation Bible School. I lead the 4-6th graders and it's been quite entertaining. Today, a young boy (not in kindergarten yet) came late and he had some "treasures" in his hands. So I asked him about it.

"What did you bring today?"
"This is a doctor's hat"
"Oh, wow, and what else do you have?"
"A sucker."
"And what's in that container?"
"The bead I stuck up my nose."

He was late because he was brought to the ER to remove the bead (from the previous day's VBS craft) he had lodged in his nose. He survived and was the main attraction that day with older kids commenting, "Did you see that bead?" "Yeah, man, it was totally up his nose." "Gross."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

That Queen's Hot

video

My school year ended on Friday...and I'm left with this gem of memory from the 7th grade class. They did a project with their science fiction unit where they had to create a World of the Future (culture, transportation, education, environment, inhabitants, the whole nine yards) and they all did a really great job and were very creative. I decided to video tape them and I let the kids do the recording of each other. This particular clip comes from one of the really well done projects. A boy in the class was recording and he was standing off by himself (no one else around) and he decided to give his commentary about the ruler of their World of the Future. I laugh every time I see it; I hope I'm not the only one who appreciates this, but, really, when you catch anyone talking to themselves it's humorous, and when it's a 7th grade boy on camera it's even better.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Minor Construction



Bryan and I accomplished putting a counter and more cupboards in our office!

Monday, April 27, 2009

And Bryan Loves...

Today I laughed so hard I cried -

I was told by an 8th grade girl that she and her friend were working on a "project." It sounded a like a word association game, but the words had to be connected with love. For example, "Winter loves snow, snow loves snowboarders, snowboarders love..." and on and on. They included names in their list, however. So I was informed that I made the list.
"What do I love?" I asked.
"Bryan."
"Oh, so what does Bryan love?"
"Fertilizer."

Of course.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Terry Redlin


I've never been a fan of Terry Redlin art (despite being from South Dakota). To me, they all look the same.

However, when Bryan won a large Terry Redlin orginal as a prize at a meeting, I was forced to reconsider my feelings.

The whole scenarion reminded me of A Christmas Story - husband wins a "major award" and wife is reluctant to display it. It has to be displayed though because it is "frag-ee-lay."

Once it was up in the office, however, I didn't really mind it. It warms up the place and makes it look office-y.

And, since we don't have any plants in the office for me to water, it looks like the art is here to stay. This won't end like A Christmas Story.

If you need a refresher:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVOOjV_E3s4
(it is April...4 months since your last viewing)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hello 8th Grade Me

Sometimes when I'm teaching the junior high kids I try to channel my junior high self to help me to understand them. Though it's not always pleasant to think back to the days when my idea of being fashion forward was matching my neon green FUBU jersey to my neon green adidas slide sandals (with socks, of course; this outfit was not restricted by the weather), it does help me to have the patience and mind set needed.

Today, I didn't need to conjure up a mental image of myself; there before my eyes was a school picture of me circa 1999. I was reading an excerpt to the class from The Diary of Anne Frank (we read the drama version; I'm not one of those "we'll just watch the movie version and read parts" teachers...yet). I was flipping through and saw of flash of bib overalls and colorful hemp necklace - sure signs of a blast from the past. When I paged through again, the picture fell out. I'm surprised it made the journey from my personal library growing up to my college book shelf to eventually end in my classroom library.

It was odd to look at the eighth graders listening intently to Mrs. Ressler while I looked at myself in their shoes.

I laughed to myself that I was my bookmark in eighth grade.

And in that thought was my patience and mindset to last through the final days of school and then some: If all my eighth graders are their "own bookmarks," as they should be, it doesn't matter who's in front of the classroom; as long as I keep them the stars, then we'll accomplish something.

How freeing for a teacher who practically launched off her teacher stool to grab the evidence of her junior high days from the floor.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cookie Dough & Peanut Butter

Bananas are an okay fruit, but I have found that they need some help. The texture is a little too liquidy to really be enjoyed alone. My solution has been swiping peanut butter on each bite. In recent months, that has become old, too (especially at school; you can only eat so many school-sized bananas with school-portioned-mini-cupped peanut butter...which was not contaminated, I was assured).

Then, I came across two great products:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Peanut Butter
and
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough


The possibilities are endless. I have eaten so many bananas since these products have entered our home. It's probably not healthy. I rationalize that I'm not confident in my banana bread ability yet, so I have to eat all those bananas one way or another.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Braiding

I learned a Ressler family tradition this weekend: palm braiding. Bryan and I came home from Saturday night mass with a handful of palms (which are different than the palms of my youth; these palms are long, skinny, and yellowish-green) and proceeded to braid them. Bryan's family does this every year, but we still had to do a quick google search to refresh Bryan's memory of how to start them. I chose the cone design and Bryan made an impressive crown of thorns. Below are the results.




Friday, March 27, 2009

No Videos Allowed?!?!

Donkey basketball was a success and I was hoping to have a wonderful video to share (think Chariots of Fire in the background, slow-mo shots of defecation, intense zoom ins of be-helmeted players)....but, alas, no video cameras allowed. We brainstormed that it could be either because of PETA, insurance, or so that no one would steal his business idea. I imagine Donkey Basketball is a niche market and you can't afford competition.

My donkey was taller than expected so I actually rode. I was given a tame donkey as I was the only female on my team. I was also told that since my male teammates were all heavier, they couldn't ride this donkey, so I couldn't have a sub. So I played 16 straight minutes of intense donkey basketball. I wish I could say there were great moments of intense riding, shooting, passing, or blocking....but in my helmet, I had limited peripheral vision so I couldn't even see the players who were actually shooting, passing, or blocking. My memory is of riding in a circle because my donkey refused to go left. He interpreted every movement of the reins as "Right" and he also instinctively knew where Bryan was in the crowd, so he would walk over there so Bryan could say encouraging things like, "Go near the ball, Lauren," or, "Your team is over there Lauren."

I think the best moment was at school the next day when an elementary student went out of her way to compliment me on her way out to recess (picture stocking cap covering half the eyes looking straight up at me, huge snow boots, and mittens):
"Nice job riding your donkey, Mrs. Ressler."

"Well, thank you."

"You were funny."

"Well...thank you."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lesson Learned: always ask to see the waiver FIRST

Donkey basketball is sort of an ambiguous phrase to me. Is it children riding stick donkeys while trying to dribble? Is it a longer variation on HORSE? Surely it couldn't mean literally riding donkeys and playing basketball. Surely I didn't say yes to this.

The student council is sponsoring Donkey Basketball this week, and being the young, new teacher I said, "sure!" when asked if I would play. When I said yes, I did know that it involved real donkeys, but my thought was, "this is a traveling show...plenty safe...pretty simple....sit on a donkey and try to avoid getting the ball thrown to you" (kind of like my high school basketball career without the donkey).

What I didn't know was that the waiver read like an article in "News of the Weird" or whatever that little column of random news was called in your newspaper.

"Each donkey is selected for its ability to either buck, duck, walk, or run. Each is different. Be advised that YOU MAY FALL OFF, BE BUCKED OFF OR DUCKED OFF YOUR DONKEY AT ANY TIME and this is part of the game." (get this: emphasis NOT mine)

Before signing I had to ask a veteran teacher about this. I was told that, due to my height, I'll probably be able to sort of "coexist" with the donkey and walk above him rather than really ride. This would make both the donkey and me happy.

That satisfied me. I signed and now I'm ready to "hover" over my donkey as I try to avoid any contact with the basketball.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I didn't know Canada had hours!



My sister is in town and today we FOUND CANADA!

It started with a little touring of the town and it turned into a quest. We headed north in pursuit of a Port of Entry sign for an excellent picture to prove that, yes, we do live this close to Canada. Upon seeing that we were a mere 31 miles away, we pressed on.



It was a good geography lesson for me and it helped my sister to assimilate after her train ride (it seems that if you take the toil out of the travel, you lose your ability to grasp exactly where you are).


Perhaps most interestingly, we discovered that Canada has hours....9am to 10pm.