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Thursday, September 30, 2010

grateful girl

so thankful it's thursday!
i love that this day reminds me of all i have accomplished
and that the weekend is so close!

22. our pup, milton, learned to jump on the couch & bed about a week ago-
he's still not the cuddle-type, but he's really fitting in well 
& feeling comfortable in our place.
on the bed
23.  cardigans...i wear one to work almost everyday...
and i wish i had one in every color!
the j.crew jackie cardigan
24.  it's almost my favorite month, october
25. we have really great soups in the bear's den (our cafeteria)
of the rondileau campus center & today's is one of my favorite flavors:
broccoli cheddar soup
no bread bowl at the rcc, but it's delish & i can pretend i'm at panera!
26. apple orchards in new england
we're going with our good friends this weekend & i can't wait!
see who else is grateful: check out thankful on a thursday
from the outdoor wife

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


my blog is getting a face lift
my hubby purchased a site to host my blog.
the plan is to roll it out in october, my birth month, and that's real soon
...stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

traffic jam

this all seemed especially fitting, as the traffic between boston & bridgewater was quite slow on my way to work both dreary monday & tuesday mornings...
during our building manager staff meeting yesterday, i chose to try another team building activity.  in the past, i didn't include such activities in our bi-weekly meetings, but i decided to introduce them this year in hopes of allowing my evening and weekend building managers to get to know the day managers better.  we basically have two staffs: those who work mondays thru fridays between the hours of 7:30am and 4pm and those who work 4 to 11pm sundays through saturdays.

this week's team builder was called "traffic jam" and opened the conversation for the importance of communication & how the group communicates, especially between the day managers and the evening/weekend managers.  we discussed problem solving and its importance to the group.  i was really proud of the way the group persevered through the challenge of the activity.   they took risks and were not afraid to begin again when they failed.  once they completed the task, i asked them to do it again without talking.  although, it proved more difficult, they were still able to complete the task & did so in about a minute!

teaching students to communicate well among their peers, as well as with the professional staff, is a goal for this academic year.  each year, i've been in the position, communication has improved a bit.  following a week of challenges and feeling like a salmon swimming against the current, it was an encouraging moment in an otherwise mundane staff meeting...but i'm seriously trying not to hold mundane meetings this semester!

[[disclaimer: the above link for the team builder is not my sole source.  although similar, the questions i asked to facilitated discussion, were not the ones listed on the site.  please contact me or the acui central office staff for the team builder provided by acui from their  i-lead ® program for which i was a facilitator this past summer. ]]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

bib necklace

another weekend of kickin' it (mostly) at home...lovely!
highlights included: a scavenger hunt around boston during FNF
a trip to my favorite ice cream stand with the pooch 
(we learned he's not a big fan of road least not yet), 
crafting something new & 
watching season 3 of chuck (i'm an entire season behind).
i got a little ambitious on saturday while i was perusing some new-to-me blogs 
& i came across this one:
i tried out one of her tutorials: the making of a necklace
check out what i came up with!
re-purposed rosette made from a shirt i pulled out of the give-away bag

two rosettes made from white fabric i had leftover from a previous project

lots of rosettes...per mandy's direction, i made a bunch of them, ready to assemble for a necklace

i arranged & glued the group into a necklace, adding ribbon to wear it & felt to the back
felted back, hot glued
...and i made another, dark blue ones are also made from a re-purposed shirt

mini pumpkin souffles

even though it did not feel much like fall today since it was in the 80s and quite humid, 
i was in the mood for something different. 
i spotted a recipe for mini pumpkin souffles in an ad for cabot cheese 
in the october issue of better homes and gardens
the recipe made 8 servings, so i quartered it & this recipe makes two servings.

2 mini pumpkins
1 egg, divided
1 tsp. flour
small pinch of baking powder
1/3 c. shredded sharp cheddar
preheat oven to 350
place two mini pumpkins in glass pan with 1/4" water
bake pumpkins for 40 min. or until tender
remove from oven & let stand for at least 10 min.
  remove tops from pumpkins & take out seeds
scoop out pumpkin flesh (about 1 cup) & place in bowl
 add egg yolk, flour, baking powder and cheddar to pumpkin flesh
beat egg white until stiff peaks form
fold egg white into pumpkin mixture
divide pumpkin mixture among two hollowed out pumpkins
return filled pumpkins to oven at 375  for 15 min.
allow pumpkins to stand for at least 10 min. before serving

all in all, we liked the recipe & will certainly try it again this fall.

Friday, September 24, 2010

frugal friday finds

now that it's officially autumn, a.k.a. the best season
i want to share some frugal fall furnishings i use & featured earlier this week.

leaves for $1.99 per bunch from michael's (i bought three bunches)
i pulled them off the fake branches to make them look more realistic
they almost look real & they're not too shiny

cream colored mini pumpkins from a local grocer, lambert's for $1.99/lb.
i didn't paint them, they actually came that way...aren't they cute?
as much as i love orange, the change is welcome 
with so many other typical 'fall colors' around

jars filled with wine corks & the leaves from michael's mentioned above
no additional cost, since i already had everything in the house

rectangular vase filled with faux berries from micheal's
(by the way, the leaves & berries were purchased five years ago & i've moved each year-- they have held up really well, & i certainly got my $1.99 per item out of the bunch)

i hope to buy some full size orange pumpkins this weekend for the front porch &
i'm thinking we'll have decorated for the season for $ great is that?!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

grateful girl

[[disclaimer: sorry for the lack of photos this week, i know i've been slacking]]
17. new ways to connect with people: tumblr & 
this blog i've been keeping for the past month

18. a revived blog from Amy

19. smart, funny & witty tv shows like gilmore girls 
i loved this tv show while i was in college 
& over a year ago, started watching it on dvd with friends, 
even my husband started liking it!
20. citylife church of boston's dorchester community group
(if only i had a photo of this group together...i will work on it for a future post).
these people have been my "anchor" since moving to boston in 2008; 
the group has grown into three groups meeting tuesday, wednesday & thursdays

21. thursdays have become my favorite day of the work week.
i have meetings with my amazing grad assistants @mikecourville and @jpike01,
i look forward to #sachat at 1pm EST, a great chance to network
 with colleagues via twitter, and at night i often stay home & hang with our pooch.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

fall flavor

it's OFFICIALLY my favorite season.
flavor abounds & it's only a matter of weeks until i get to enjoy the
beautiful fall colors of new england everyday during my 40 minute commute.

i want to share the flavors that make fall so great:
latte, pie, crisp, bread

cider, pie, crisp, raw, sauce

butternut squash
roasted, soup
relish, sauce, tea, dried, scones
roasted, grilled, sandwiches, pot pie
what's your favorite fall flavor? 
happy fall, friends!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

from issues to opportunities

We all have challenges.  Working with people usually means personnel issues of some kind will arise.  It's not uncommon to disagree with a coworker and it can even lead to better ideas and improved ways of doing things.  Personnel issues can take many forms, but lately I've seen "issues" related to balance, keeping employees engaged and looking for opportunities to learn from difficult situations. 

photo courtesy of @EdCabellon
Working in student affairs & supervising about 40 students, calls for teachable moments (and being ready to embrace & seize a teachable moment).  If a student misses a shift, our first concern is for his/her wellbeing, rather than punitive measures.  Turning such situations into an opportunity to teach someone how to act responsibly is often necessary.   

One recent example comes to mind: a student employee missed his/her scheduled shift.  It is not acceptable to miss work.  Confusion occurs among other staff members, poor planning is communicated, and people may worry unnecessarily.  The follow-up conversation contains questions like: is this the best job for you?  Have you over-committed yourself this semester?  What might you be able to cut out of your current schedule?  I think balance can be the hardest lesson to learn.  

I'm still learning balance with each new semester and I'm no longer a student.  I begin by making a list of what I committed to for the semester, both at work and in my personal life.  At times, it calls for cutting something out or re-prioritizing and considering how I approach my to-do list.  It has also forced me to do something I find very difficult, to say "no."  Over a year ago, my roommate came home with a napkin to give me with the following printed on it:
"Just say NO to the sign up sheet"

Since the semester is still getting started for many of us, working to achieve balance should be a priority.  We'll only get increasingly busy as the semester progresses.  Take this opportunity to make a list of the things you are committed to and consider the most important things first.  
Do you see balance on your list?

Monday, September 20, 2010

why i love old north bridge

As I've mentioned many times before, I love the fall season. 
My birthday falls in October and we got engaged 
under a beautiful tree with its colors changing in Concord, MA.
It was a picturesque New England day! 

See the tree behind us? That's where Brandon asked me to marry him, 
it was a Sunday in September...fifteen years after the first photo was taken in 1994.
1994 Grandma, me, brother & mom

Unfortunately, we did not take any photos the day of the engagement 
under the tree.  In fact, I didn't discover this photo or 
make the connection until I was going through some old photos 
a few months ago and exclaimed, "hey, it's our tree!"

We returned a few weeks after we got engaged to take some photos
...and they ended up on our save-that-date card.

more "formal" engagement photos followed in February thanks to Scot Huber.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

feels like fall

Finally, a Saturday to stay home and do the things we've neglected.   It was relaxing & refreshing to clean the house, play outside with Milton 
& break out the fall decor.
And since the "G" fit so nicely with the fall color scheme, 
I added it in, thanks to Brandon's suggestion.
Brandon finished building his workbench and did the grocery shopping for the week ahead.  I starting craving the flavors of fall after decorating our living room (I think it was the apple berry spice & pumpkin bread candles I lit).  I found this recipe for a pumpkin spice latte & tried it out with a few modifications. 

my take on the homemade pumpkin spice latte for two:
combine in sauce pan over medium heat
2 cups milk
4 T canned pumpkin puree 
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t sugar in the raw
1 cup cold coffee (leftover from what was brewed in the morning)
heat until frothy, using a wire whisk
pour into 2 mugs & top with whip cream (if you have it)
note: the pumpkin puree will settle if it stands for a while
What a great Saturday treat! 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

favorite butternut squash recipe

This past week, I made one of my favorite recipes.  
I love the flavors of roasted butternut squash & red onion.  
Over the past few years, I've tried several recipes to showcase their flavors.  
This recipe is my all-time fave: 
Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion Penne

1.5. c. cubed butternut squash
1/2 red onion
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
3/4 c. uncooked penne
1/4 c. milk
2 t. Italian seasoning
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Coat roasting pan (9x9 glass pan) with olive oil
Place squash & onion in pan, add garlic, salt & pepper
Cook for 30 min. or until squash is tender
Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions
In large skillet of medium heat, combine pasta & roasted squash/onion.
Add in milk and heat thoroughly together 
Add seasoning & vinegar
Remove from heat,  top with Parmesan & serve

Friday, September 17, 2010

frugal friday finds

this week, I'm sharing some accessories that I love!

currently on sale for only $8.99...I'm  considering ordering one or two!
currently listed at $34.99
I've owned this one for several years & also have two canvas totes 
I found from their Overstocks selections.

doubled up fabric rose headbands from ohsweetjoy on etsy
she's currently out of the country, but her quality headbands are beautiful
and VERY reasonably priced.  (I paid $10 for mine in August)

...and homes need accessories too!
I would love to frame this photo from Blond Dutch Girl & put it on my wall
print sells for $25 from her etsy shop

Thursday, September 16, 2010

grateful girl

this week has been very full, following a busy weekend 
and i am exhausted!  i have so much to be grateful for and am happy to share 
a few of those things from my week with you today. 

13. trying new recipes from twitter friend @StacyLOliver
"no such thing as too much lemon" cupcakes
i think i enjoyed making these so much because i had read about them from stacy's 
blog in june.  i wanted to make a dessert without chocolate, which is rare, 
so i turned to the recipe and tried them out for myself.  being the multi-tasker 
that i am, i was also baking 12 potatoes for community group dinner and 
the oven was  25 degrees warmer than her recipe called for.  
the cupcake bottoms' turned dark brown,  a sign they overcooked.  
all in all, the flavor was there (very lemony) and 
several friends enjoyed them. next time, i will be sure to keep the oven at 350,
 as recommended by ms. oliver.

14. it's pumpkin spice latte season at starbucks
i stopped for one on my way to work yesterday.  it was the best $4 i spent this week, but i won't be doing it again for a while at that price.  it feels like fall, so it should taste like fall!

15.  listening (& singing along) to
citylife boston's prelude album while driving to work.
(i'm not plugging it, i promise...but it's totally worth a listen)
their music blesses me every time i hear it. 

16.  the #sachat community
this community of student affairs professionals and aspiring sa pros is a fast growing group of dedicated to sharing ideas and learning from one another.  there are weekly conversations that take place via twitter under the hashtag "sachat."  to find out more, be sure to check out the blog itself and feel free to join in on the conversation.  
it's happening today at 1pm EST!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

learning to listen

Information comes at us constantly, whether we're ready to receive it or not.  Lately, I find myself telling and re-telling things more than once to the same person.  With a new school year beginning and all that goes into getting both returning and new student employees up-to-speed on changes, I expect a certain amount of repeating myself because there is a lot to take in.  

However, this year's "repeat button" has been used more often than in the past.  
For example, I explained some changes needed following an event last week.  
I took the time for a face-to-face conversation along with written instructions left for the building managers to follow.  I went home for the evening and then received a phone call a few hours later, asking what needed to be done about the exact instance I gave specifics on.  I have to ask myself,  "do they listen?" or "am I speaking in terms they do not know?"  While my lingo may not be as hip as theirs, most of the staff speaks English as their first language.  I would have say it comes down to their ability to listen.  We likely all have the ability, but do we use it?

So, what does it mean to listen?  
I don't think it means simply looking at the one who is talking and nodding your head.  According to Merriam-Webster listen means:
to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration 
With this in mind, I have to say I feel the issue lies in the words
 "thoughtful attention."  In order to give thoughtful attention, 
one has to be able to think and pay attention at once, right?  
Distractions are all around us, as I mentioned in a previous post, so it's time to tune 
in for real.  Put away the cell phone and remove the ear buds while someone is talking to you.  Shut the laptop and give attention to what is being said. 
Repeat it back to show understanding.  
If we are thoughtful about what is around us and take time to be attentive
to those things, listening should not be the issue.  We can digest the thought, idea or
direction, and then do what's necessary.  By listening, you may learn something about your co-worker, classmate or neighbor.  You could discover a shared interest or maybe even make a new friend. 

Who will you choose 
to give thoughtful attention to today?    

Monday, September 13, 2010

simple sunday supper

we had a pretty hectic but wonderful weekend, full of time with friends.
on sunday afternoon, we needed an easy meal to start the new week.
brandon had grocery shopped on saturday (God bless him) and found catfish on sale.
since he grew up in tennessee, he wanted to fry it, 
but i talked him out of it because i wanted something more healthy
and it was delightful!

catfish over black beans & rice
pan-seared catfish
$7.50 for 1 lb. at our local grocery store

reduced sodium black beans & rice mix
(often goes on sale for 99 cents)

brandon sprinkled some mrs. dash extra spicy on to the catfish for an extra kick