Saturday, December 22, 2012

Romeo & Juliet

Romeo and Juliet (No Fear Shakespeare)Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another year, another reading of Romeo & Juliet – this year, I was struck by how wise Benvolio is, how misguided Romeo and Juliet are in thinking they must have love or die, and how unromantic this story actually is. I loved teaching this play to a new batch of freshmen and hearing their incredulity over things that happen throughout the story. If you’ve never read it, it’s a must read – so much of our understanding of love and loss comes from Shakespeare’s portrayal of them both.

ps. I did not use the No Fear version this year with my classes and liked it infinitely better.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Night  Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elie Wiesel lives his philosophy that it is our duty not to remain silent while injustice still exists. Teaching Night is my way of speaking out – of showing a new set of teenagers the potential mankind has for great kindness and exceptional hatred – and that ultimately it’s up to them to decide whether they will speak out on behalf others and whether they will remember the lessons that history has already taught us. I love this book and Elie’s voice. It’s haunting and authentic. If you haven’t read this book, I have three copies – come borrow one today....

Saturday, December 8, 2012

To Tide You Over

I compulsively check two blogs every day. It seems nine out of the ten times I check there is not a new update, which just means that these two women are busy being fabulous. It occurred to me that I am equally guilty, not of being fabulous, but of not updating, and so to tide my couple regular readers, here's a picture of my favorite boy in the whole world. He's on his way to New York and has no idea that he's so well travelled at only eight months. I miss him and his little laugh and can't wait to squeeze his chubby cheeks next time I see him. Hope your December has been merry and bright so far. Happy Christmas!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western FrontAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It would be unfair if I said every word of every page of Remarque’s classic book, but I did finally wade through this tragic tale of boys sent to write at the front during World War I. My students responded better to the plot and characters than I expected, and I was deeply moved by Remarque’s message. I still don’t think it’s the best choice for sophomores in high school in 2012, but I learned a lot and more than anything, I now want to teach a semester or year based on war literature.

Monday, November 26, 2012

TV & Me

Welcome to the Monday after a holiday break. Mondays like this are worthy of valium, repeat viewings of The Holiday, and a nightcap. That's not why I'm writing though. This is just a shout out to let you know I finally wrote again for "All on TV" about my odd obsession with America's Next Top Model. Check out the post, not to mention the other great posts from other contributors...and here's to a happier Tuesday!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adopted Family

In the MPA program, my classmates and I quickly became like family in our home away from home. Emily and Karla came for a whole week at the end of the October, and for a brief moment I felt like I had my MPA family close by. We ate good food, we caught up on all the MPA gossip, we talked about boys and life and job prospects, and we played tourists in San Francisco and other great spots in the Bay Area. I love these girls and really hope they come visit again soon (or even better, move here!!). 
At the end of September, the SRV crew gathered at the Pinkertons' for their annual Thanksgiving dinner. This is the Thanksgiving where Zach gives a speech about how we can't choose our family, but we can choose our friends and how great it is to spend time with the family we choose. I love the Pinkertons and am so grateful for their constant love and hospitality. This was the final picture of the night - Katie, Amber, Julie and I are part of the original SRV crew. I've been so blessed to have them in my life. 

Dear Jenessa - Part Two

Dear Jenessa-

I kept most of my promise. I posted about everything I mentioned except "shoes" - which I don't know what that refers to anymore except that I have a random picture of shoes in my iphoto library and our "half-marathon" - which still requires that I get the rest of our pictures included. I'll work on that...hopefully soon.
More importantly, thanks for making the trek to Tahoe to hang out for the fastest weekend known to man. I had a great time. You are welcome to crash my grading weekends anytime.

Love you tons and see you in two weeks!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Answers

The answers to "what have you been up to?" are usually varied and often exceptionally random. Lately though, the answers are going to include movies, the Food Network, running, or trying new recipes. 

Movies: The best movie I've gone to lately is Argo. Even if you're not a history buff, it's still absolutely fantastic. Ben Affleck is great - both as the star of the film and the director. Go see

Food Network: I don't need to bore you with the details of Chopped, Sweet Genius, etc, etc, but it's love....and if you're (un)lucky enough to show up at my house, I may make you watch with me. 

Running: I've told you plenty. The next half-marathon is in Santa Barbara this upcoming Saturday.
(One of my latest cheesy running posters. Trying to stay motivated as the weather turns cold.)

 New Recipes: Seth and I have been on a kick lately of trying new recipes. We've made caramels (round one and two weren't nearly as successful as round three), joconde with a strawberry mousse, chocolate mousse with chantilly creme, manicotti, Thai stir-fry. On the horizon is chocolate mints, mozzarella, ice cream, etc, etc.  The manicotti was especially amazing, but Seth makes that from memory. Next time I need write it down so I can recreate it. The chocolate mousse with the chantilly creme is my favorite of the desserts. We should have taken a picture, but it was late and we were in the midst of burning caramel. We'll get better at documenting, but you should just come over so you can try our latest creations. Happy cooking!
(Not the most magical picture, but again, it was close to 11pm - strawberry mousse in a joconde cake.)

Post seven complete...almost there.

Primo's Run

I have been hearing about the Primo's Run since I started work in the district in 2007. Melissa and I decided on a whim that we would do the run. I think we were both a little surprised that we followed through, but on an exceptionally foggy morning we trekked to San Ramon with her two kiddies in tow.

Our 5k run turned into more of a walk because the running stroller was out of commission and the umbrella stroller only held one of the kids at a time. Melissa had a kid on her back or in her arms for more of the course. I was on stroller duty which included lots of "we're almost there" (which started after about one kilometer) and keeping the kiddos wrapped in the jackets and running shirts. 

We look ready to run though, right? All in all, just a fun excuse to chat and laugh at the hilarity of trying to keep the adorable Savannah and Rockwell happy throughout the run. If only we'd found the balloons before the end of the course. 

Post six complete. Are you keeping track Miss Ness?

Orange October

 I wrote a whole piece once on why God invented October. My main answers were fall leaves and baseball. Naturally, that's made up, but those two things are two of the reasons why I love October so much. This Orange October was spectacular - a second World Series win in three years was more than most Giants fans could hope for, but it happened and most of us are still waiting to wake up from the dream. 
 My dad managed to get tickets for us to game one of the National League Division Series. It fell on the night before Jenessa, Maria, and my half-marathon. We should have been home in bed, but instead we ate junk food and screamed until we had no voices left. Best type of race preparation I can think of.
 It's important to note that Maria is a Dodgers fan in Giants country. She was a good sport at our not so veiled "we hate the Dodgers" comments. She even rooted for the Giants to win against the dreaded Reds.
The energy of 43,000+ fans at a playoff game is tangible. It was beyond amazing.
 It seemed we were bound to lose the NLDS, but the Giants came back and took it. Crazy to think we were down again and came back to win the NLCS. Magical, underdog feeling, kind of ride (if that makes any sense at all). 
We're looking a little tired, but on a Monday we snuck to a NLCS playoff game between the Cardinals and the Giants. Cameron is there too. Not sure where those pictures ended up in the excitement.
I can measure my life by Giants seasons. This one is no exception. We're World Champions (if you can say that about a league that only plays in the United States and Canada) once again. Could not be more excited. 

[Post number five complete. Only a few more to go....]


When I look back through the posts I've written, very few of them include references to work though it's something that occupies my time and thoughts every day. In fact, I never even mentioned that I got a new job for this school year at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon. It's been a very strange beginning, but the kids are great - for the most part, very motivated and kind - something you don't usually find in the collective whole of teenagers. 

I am on the second floor of the 1000 building. Our school is five years old and looks more like a small junior college than a high school. For the record, I go by Miss Hutchins instead of Ms. I know that's an odd distinction, but for some reason I see Ms. and picture someone in their forties. The mug poster is because when I was asked what things I collect, all I could think of was how I buy mugs from the places I travel to. The poster still confuses my kids when they come in, but I'm pretty sure my staff pal is one of my students so I don't want to take down her work. 

This is what my grading stacks in Tahoe look like this weekend, so that's all the detail you get about school for now. Long story short, I'm glad to be at DVHS. Go Wildcats!

ps. Whenever I say Wildcats, I hear High School Musical in my head.

Post number four complete. Getting closer to being caught up!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

mini high school reunion

In high school I was blessed with great friends. Yes, there was drama. Yes, there were occasional tears, but usually those tears were from laughter. A few of us got together on a Saturday in October to catch up and marvel that one of the original Stargazers (our 6th grade core name) had a baby. We commandeered a table at BJ's for three hours - it had been way too long.
 I know I used this picture back a few months ago, but four of the fab five were present at the lunch. (I'm still working on old pictures of the Rachel and Nicole. They're coming, I promise.) So from left to right, Juri, Jen, Cassey, Lorraine, and myself. 
From left to right - myself, Nicole, Cassey, Juri, Rachel, and Lorraine.  I feel like we should have changed more, but it felt just the same as it always did even though it had been years since some of us had seen each other.  The difference between the two pictures is fourteen years - shouldn't we look more different?? Pretty amazing to think how much these girls affected my adolescence. I'm lucky to still have them around. 

Post three complete.

The Munsons!!

In September Jewels, Brett, and their two adorable kiddies made the trek out to California. It was a fantastic week where I ignored everything I was supposed to do and just got to hang out with some of my favorite people. 
 This little man wins you over with one look of his big, blue eyes. Loved every second I got to hold him. 
 Even though it doesn't sound strange to say I'm an aunt, I still find it amusing to say my parents are grandparents. I love that Mae calls my dad "papa".
 Welcome to the real reason Brett and Jewels' trip was scheduled during September.
 We didn't know then how amazing the season would wind up being. Just glad to be there. 
 Mae (and the rest of the family) came to visit me at school. This is Mae teaching us about letters. 
 Did I mention how obsessed I am with Henry?
 I know it's a bit blurry, but we're besties already. 
Princess Mae and her tiny carrot from the garden she and Marme planted this summer.

Can't wait for the Munsons to come again!
(things on the to do list already when they do: hand & foot (not the disease, the card game), endless hours of Food Network, Chef Chao, not mention just playing with the kiddies)

Post two complete. :)

Keeping Promises and Catching Up

I am behind. There is no qualifier. There is no one reason why. I just have let myself get pretty much everything - grading, projects, posts, etc. And I am perfectly okay with that...except that I promised Jenessa I would post about a bunch of different things all by Monday, November 5th. I'm not one to break a promise, so fingers crossed that I can get this all done.

Here's a shout out to the things I don't have real pictures of from this fall, but are standout moments just the same....

Apple Hill: It's tradition to drive all the way the foothills above Placerville for apple donuts, the best apple juice you've ever tasted, and the first glimpses of fall. Seth, Tracy, David, Patrick, and I made the trek on a cool September morning. It was a perfect day to visit, though ironically we didn't document any aspect of the day. Too busy picking what we were going to eat, I guess. 

Opera at the Ballpark: Seth and I naively thought we could fit Apple Hill and Opera at the Ballpark in the same day. Apple Hill, like I mentioned being up above Placerville, and the ballpark being the Giants stadium in San Francisco. Throw in that Seth was feeling sick, and the day turned into quite the adventure. Opera at the Ballpark is literally as it sounds. The San Francisco Opera shows their debut performance of the season on the big screen at the ballpark for free for the community. 35,000+ people showed up. It was absolutely freezing, but it was really fun and unlike anything I've ever done before. I would totally recommend it. 

St. Vincent's: I love to eat out. Emerald and I made this connection in college and would justify spending money we didn't have as students and young professionals on dinners that were just a little bit more interesting than your run-of-the-mill chain restaurant. A few weeks ago, I went with Seth and a couple of his friends visiting from Long Beach and Japan to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in San Francisco called St. Vincent's. The lighting was so dim that pictures looked ridiculous, but the food was as beautiful as it was delicious. I tried things I don't usually eat - sea urchin, crab chowder, tuna (you know how I am about things that swim in the sea) and fell in love with eggs pickled in red radish, and eggs pickled in curry. I tried honey and sweet milk ice cream topped with sea salt and honey comb and had a ham chop served with splitzenberg apple and sweet corn bread. The best part was actually Seth's (can you tell everyone at the table was trying each other's plates) heirloom tomato salad. Am I allowed to say best tomatos ever?

Post one complete. At least half a dozen to go. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dear Jenessa--

Dear Jenessa-- 

I know you think I've forgotten you and your request for updated blog posts. I haven't.  I just so rarely do the things on my to do list because they're not "immediate" to do's. Here's what the current blog bullet says: -Blog shoes, opera at the ballpark, apple hill, jewels visiting, giants games, st. vincents, half marathon, wildcats, hs girls, movies, primos, orange october, candy making/baking.  I'm sure there are more that should be on that list, but here's my promise. By the first Monday in November, I will have blogged about all of those. Please don't hate me. Or Chandler. He didn't do anything wrong. 

Love you kiddo. Good luck FOCUSING. :)


ps. I thought I'd stick Henry on the page so you couldn't stay annoyed. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Chandler...

 Remember when I told you in August that I was contributing to a blog reviewing TV shows? Don't feel bad for not remembering - things are so crazy that I forgot to tell you about my post from a couple weeks ago dedicated to Chandler. Hard to believe he's all grown up and now hosting a radio show. Check it and the other great posts about some of your favorite shows out. 

Girls' Weekend in SLO

When Maria moved into my Victoria Place apartment my senior year of college, I thought she was nice, but had no idea that knowing her would change my life. After all, one of the first things she had out was a Lakers pennant. Now eight years later, she is one of my very best friends and a person who helps me make sense of life.  On a whim, we decided to meet up in San Luis Obispo for Labor Day weekend. Best decision ever. 
 After chatting late into the night on Friday after driving up/down to slo, we started our Saturday with a run. Our half-marathon was just a month away, so there was no slacking. Plus, we had plans to eat our way through town that day courtesy of Seth's suggestions, so we had to earn a little bit of it. It was a fantastic way to see town. Made me want to live there even more.
 Welcome to Pismo. My seventh grade self wants to write BFF. Don't judge.
 The shoe shots continue - Avila Beach.
 Welcome to the oddity that is the Madonna Inn. I've never seen anything like it, but Maria and I could not get over how eccentric this place is.  When we found out my great-grandparents used to visit the Madonna Inn for their anniversary, the hilarity hit unsurpassed levels.
The decorating is like Barbie and Disney princesses on crack.
And the men's restroom is legendary. We passed two other women going in. The urinal is literally a rock fountain. I felt a bit like I was in Snow White....not because of the urinal or the fact that we were in the men's restroom...decor people....focus.
See what I mean about Barbie on crack...during the much love.
The chocolate cake is also famous, though Maria and I both preferred the pink champagne cake.
 After we'd shopped a bit and recovered from our sugar comas, we waited for a long time outside an Italian hole-in-the wall restaurant. Nothing really happened, but we took pictures just the same. 
 Two mornings in a row, Maria and I shopped and ate breakfast at the Apple Farm. Deliciously wonderful. Their baked goods, especially their biscuits, are worth every calorie.
 These statues were outside our hotel (you can see the sign in the background). Couldn't resist.
 My favorite of the statue pictures. 

For a trip that was only a couple of days, we fit a lot in and had the best time. I always feel better about the world after I spend time with Maria. We talk for hours about work and boys and life and who knows what else, and somehow things seem to make more sense or be that much funnier. I love this girl and cannot wait for her (and Jenessa) to visit this weekend for our half-marathon.  Thank goodness Maria moved in all those years ago....