Countdown Calendar

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I cannot be more happy that the school year is almost over. This has been a really rough year – teaching and divorce-wise. So, I am not going to dwell on that. I am going to look to the future!!!! Since I do not use my classroom for teaching any more, it is now my sanctuary. I have this big expanse of bulletin board and decided to put it to use. I covered most of it with this craft paper I got at Ikea – sort of newsprint, but smoother. Then, I purchased a whole variety of large, lined Post-It notes and made a three-month calendar.

I put the months from right to left, I know. I put a lot of thought into the layout. The month of March was extended day month. Because of the days we missed because of the freakish snow and ice storms, we had to add an hour to the school day on Monday through Thursday. Fridays, we used our “normal” schedule. I used four different colors of turquoise blue to differentiate between A Days, B Days, Fridays, and weekends and holidays.

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As I cleared out my classroom, I put up pictures and other ephemera to brighten things up. Yes, color also played a part in the choice. There is the faculty group picture, the mission statement, and some origami circles I made. I found the “tie-dye” paper in a science book.

1-IMG_5742I loved April – it began with Spring Break!!! It was a tough month after that, though, with CRCT testing – I got to spend 4 1/2 hours a day with my advisement class AND keep them quiet during and after testing. I used one of a gorgeous packet of napkins that I could not resist buying at Party City. It is mostly covered up now, but the green and purple in the flowers were perfect. I also put my Distroller notebook cover and bookmark up there, along with my Marietta bumper sticker and covers from catalogs.1-IMG_5743 Now it is MAY!!! Finally!!!! I love my bright sunny colors. The napkin in the bottom right is also an acquisition from Party City. It has my favorite colors and roses! The Kind Heart is from the Penzey’s catalog, the loteria cards are from my Zarela collection, and the balloon, I had been keeping around for a long time and finally used it. I put up BAM! and Taste Life, because my reward for making it through this hellish year is Memorial Day weekend in NEW ORLEANS!!!!

P.S. – I also made a Post-It calendar and put it up on the wall of my bathroom – one month at a time. I record my weight each day and make notes of anything I need to remember. It’s a little bit humid in there, but things stayed up just fine.

 

Recycled Wooden Puzzle Mini Shrines

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Image One of the goals I have made is to use as many as possible of the arts and crafts supplies that I have accumulated in the past 10 years. I began making things and selling them around 2003 or 2004, when I would stop by the Pier One Clearance store on my way home fromwork. There, I amassed a large inventory of frames and coasters and other clearance itemImages to recycle. From there, I made regular stops at Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, Walmart, and Party City.

One day, I was in JoAnn Fabrics and looking through the dollar bins at the cash register.  I had seen these little mazes before, but that day I had an idea.  First, I bought one, brought it home and checked to see if the plastic cover would pop off.  It did, with the help of a finger nail file. So, I went back to JoAnn’s and bought more. They were 50 cents apiece. There were some with safari animals on them, but they were still $1.00 each. So I spent a bit of time sorting through the puzzles and bought 83 of them.

The project I had in mind was to make them into mini shrines!  I had saved a lot of scraps from the Alexander Henry fabric I use to make into larger shrines and crosses. I hate to throw away scraps, because you never know when you can use those little pieces. I measured and cut around the head of one of the Guadalupes to use in the boxes.  First step was to asImagesign each Virgin head to a puzzle. Then, I painted the boxes in a variety of colors, each matching the Guadalupe inside.

I used two coats of paint, and when the mini shrines had dried, I glued the fabric to the puzzle, and went over the images with Mod Podge. I used glitter glue to line the image, and to keep any stray threads down. Then I put some mini paper roses at the base of the picture and let the whole thing dry. I put the plastic cover back on them, which was not as difficult as popping them off. The only thing added since I took the photo above are a few more glitter glue dots on the outside of the frame – it looked like it needed something.

I decided to put something on the backs of the shrines, so that they could stand alone.  The Imagebacks were cut from a holographic folder, one of many I bought at WalMart for use “someday”.  My challenge was to not put too much in the shrines, as they are so small. I am not sure about the holographic paper on the back – I may skip that in the future. Finally, I put clear glossy Mod Podge on the outside to protect the paint.

A long time ago, Target had a special Peter Max line of wrapping paper. I have been a fan of his for years and years, and I particularly loves the hearts. I bought up quite a bit of the wrapping paper, but my favorite is the one with small blocks made of his hearts. I have used them to decorate many things, but I still have quite a few left. Hoarding? I wouldn’t say that… I also have a wonderful cardboard panel that used to decorate the display. My sister acquired it for me when they were taking the display down. It is still up in my studio. For the moment, that is the closest I will come to owning a Peter Max…

ImageSpeaking of pop art… I have also been a fan of George Rodrigue and his Blue Dog. I come from Lafayette, and he was also from the area. He used to play bourre with my father, and when he opened his restaurant, The Blue Dog Cafe, my dad went and stood in line to have the limited edition “teddy bear” dog poster signed. My mother is an artist and was very active in the Lafayette Art Association. She was acquainted with George since he was painting Cajuns in front of oak trees. I was sad to hear of his passing, and happen to have a lot of his art… on note cards and calendar prints.

My favorite Blue Dog treasure story involved a trip to Montreal and Quebec with my mother. I believe it was in 1998 – right after I returned to Atlanta after living and going to grad school at ULL (University of Louisiana – Lafayette). I was walking down the street in Montreal and there was a sidewalk salesman selling large calendars with Blue Dog prints – I could not believe that I bought all 75 calendars for about $1.00 or $1.75 US dollars. I gave a lot of them to my Dad, who sold them. I gave one each to two of my friends. At the height of their popularity, they went for $350 on eBay. Amazing.

The little Blue Dog shrine above was made with an image cut from a note card I bought to frame. It was just an experiment. I do not plan on putting it up in my shop, but I might make some more. If you are interested in one, please contact me.

The First Steps – A New Beginning

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the first step quote

I am using this quote to kick off a new era of Maison Celeste. It has been so long since I have blogged regularly. I am learning that there have been so many improvements in the land of blogging and website building. I planned on getting started sooner, but life has intervened. The divorce took so much longer to finalize than I had anticipated, and it was a very expensive and soul crushing process. It was a move that was vital for my mental well being, but it cost me a lot.

Part of the reason I have not written is that I was having a hard time thinking of positive things to write about. I was told by my creativity coach, Kathy Cano-Murillo, to keep posts upbeat. I was not feeling upbeat. As usual, I began the school year thinking that I knew what I would be teaching. And, as happened every year since 2008, there has been a change to my teaching schedule. I am obviously over certified. So, school was not feeding my inspiration as it has in the past.

The big bright spot in all of this is that I have become reacquainted with the place where I consider my hometown. That would be Lafayette, Louisiana. I visited every month for the past few years, with trips to New Orleans interspersed between those trips. I have fallen in love again with the culture of Acadiana. Lafayette has changed so much since I lived there in 1997. Since then, it has been awarded The South’s Tastiest Town, The Best Food Town, and The Best Overall City in America… Business is booming and Cajun cuisine is getting the recognition it deserves. And it’s not too far from New Orleans!

I wanted to move back to Lafayette over the summer, but circumstances made that impossible. So, now I am announcing my intention to move there this summer. There is so much to do. I plan to put my townhouse on the market, but not until I have vacated it, save for some of the large furnishings. In order to do that, I need to pack up or use up or get rid of a LOT of stuff. I have been accumulating art and craft supplies for years, and many of those are unused and in my garage and studio.

The other challenge is that the townhouse I plan to share with my new guy is much smaller than the one I live in now. So that doubles the need to lighten up. The plan, as I proposed it to Kathy last summer, is to write about the items I have. I want to revisit the moment when I though it was a good idea to buy 200 paper mache bells (they were 8 cents apiece…) or 500 mini photo albums with NASCAR drivers on them (10 cents apiece…). I will then decide if the project I planned with those things can come to fruition in the present. If so, I will make things and sell them on my Etsy site. If not, I will get rid of them.

I know this was a bit choppy, but I just needed to write something. This is the first step.

All the Books…

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ImageI have spent the day walking up and down the stairs of my 3 story townhouse, moving books and other things around.  My goal for this year is to get everything where it should be, then to get rid of what is not necessary. I haven’t finished my mission statement yet, but I figured it couldn’t be “to get rid of all of the crap I have hoarded over the years.” But it actually is sort of going to be that… More later.

Right now, I am just corralling all of the things I have in separate areas. After I have done that, I am going to really get to work. The first thing I have done is to organize most of my books. I love books. I have kept books from childhood. I have bought books for projects, for my students to read, and for study. When I am in Mexico, I buy books. I have an Amazon Prime account, so you know I have a problem.

I have gotten a little bit better. I check books out at the library, and listen to books on CD in the car. But, sometimes, even though I am listening to that book, I have to buy it. Either I have to know what is going to happen next, and don’t want to drive around Atlanta one more time… Or I decide that the book is a keeper and I have to own it.

I have a couple of places where my books reside. One is a large armoire that has been in my family for years. It is a pain in the TAIL to move, especially to put together. This is a piece of furniture meant to be disassembled and reassembled for transport, so I don’t know why it is so difficult.

But it is beautiful, and it holds a lot of books. Mostly cookbooks and diet books. I am going to rid myself of many of those. I added one milk crate because there are a couple of gaps. There are knick knacks. I put some file boxes at the bottom. It looks good. Now I have room in other places for more stuff.

One other thing: the doors are not hung properly, and they don’t close. I solved that, finally.have 3 iron finials in the shape of fleur de lis. They are keeping it closed for Imagenow.

The other place I have books is in the closet of my upstairs guestroom. This is where I keep most of my children’s books. I have YA novels I bought to interest my older middle school students in reading. I have my collection of folk tales and all the story books I could find about La Llorona. I have books from my studies in Oaxaca, as well as picture books in Spanish and Mexican indigenous languages.

ImageTwo collections have not realised their potential as of yet. I have both the Magic Tree House and the Time Warp Trio Series, because I had an idea about using them to help my students do research. You would be surprised at how many of my ELL students favor these books. I usually encourage them to read something more age appropriate, but then I thought I might work with it. I was able to stop myself from buying all of the You Wouldn’t Want… Series from England, but only because I had not used the other books yet. The project has not happened yet.

I also have a dream about students researching famous Spanish-speaking people and creating a Day of the Dead shrine about them. I have a large collection of children’s books about people like Frida Kahlo, Antonio Gaudi, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, etc. that I have been keeping for that purpose. It hasn’t happened yet.

Both of those are things I plImagean to remedy this year. Wait and see.

Finally, I have a stair chest in my bathroom with a small collection of childhood favorites, such as my Marguerite Henry classics and my Trixie Belden series. I also have other books in there… And, yes, I have wondered if a bathroom is really a good place to keep books.

So, there you have it. I have come out of the closet about being a book nut. Interestingly enough, the books are back behind closed doors. Oh, I have another small collection of craft books and magazines in my studio downstairs, but they are not ready for prime time yet.

Quote Generators

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Quote from The Girl Who Owned A City

While I am getting back into the rhythm of writing in my blog, I am finding it difficult to figure out what to say, what to post, and how to post it. I invested in a consultation with Kathy Cano-Murillo (AKA The Crafty Chica) this month. I have wanted to get back into making things and selling them on the internet, and I so admire her style and her enterprise. So, when I saw that she was launching Crafty Chica Consulting, I signed up immediately. Even my horoscope reading that day was on board with the decision. I will be sharing more on that process as time goes by.

What I am here to write about today is the amazing world of quote generators. I, along with many others, am addicted to Pinterest. Among my several boards, I have one that stores inspirational quotes. While perusing them to come up with my mission statement, I found that a few of my favorites were missing. For the time being, I just wrote them down in my journal. The quotes are pretty obscure, so I figured I would never find them online.

The quotes of which I speak come from a book called The Girl Who Owned A City, written by O. T. Nelson. According to the Wikipedia article, it is “a post-apocalyptic book about leadership, survival, and ownership.” At the beginning of each of the three parts, there is a quote from Lisa, the heroine of the novel. I am fond of all three quotes, but the one in part three is the most compelling to me.

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My first creation using a Quote Picture generator.

 

I have a copy of those words in my office, typed into Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and printed out. But, when trying to come up with an image to include with my post (a Crafty Chica recommendation), I wondered what to do. First, I tried the new “quote” option in the WordPress menu. That was unsatisfactory, but I didn’t know if I wanted to do a whole Photoshop project in order to make a quote poster.

So, good little Googl-er that I am, I just did a little searching. Sure enough, there’s an app for that. So, I spent (probably too much) time giving Lisa that quote space that she deserves, using QuotesCover.com. There was a little bit of trial and error, and I haven’t added a watermark with my website on them yet, but I am working on that. In case you are interested, here are the Top 10 EASY ways to make picture quotes for Facebook and more

This morning, when I went to print the two I had made to tape into my paper journal, I was hit with an idea. This year, I will be teaching Language Arts again (6th grade ELL), and I am determined to hit the ground running with reading. I also will be teaching 6th grade social studies to my ELL students. I have already come up with several uses for these generators. Luckily for me, my school system has invested in color laser jet printers, which are shared by groups of teachers.

  • The first would be as an activity for students to complete when reading a novel or biography. Students would create a Quote Cover for their favorite quote from the novel. Of course, there would probably need to be a tutorial, a rubric, and an explanation of why they chose that quote. I feel that it is important for children to know that important lessons can be learned from reading. This could also be used when studying famous people in history.
  • I also like to teach idioms and sayings in my classroom. In Spanish, there is a whole series of sayings called dichos. Dichos are Spanish proverbs or sayings. They are similar to US proverbs in that they impart wisdom and express a common sense truth by revealing aspects of human nature and culture. I used to have a series of posters that I created using the book Folk Wisdom of Mexico/Proverbios y dichos mexicanos by Jeff Sellers. Students could make their own dicho posters, in Spanish and in English
  • Finally, I would like to kick start my writing program by using an old favorite: Get Ready to Write by Karen Blanchard and Christine Root. This book takes students through a series of writing exercises. The topics covered are about the student’s family, interests, activities, and life. By the end of the book, students will have created and published a book. I think that a personal statement or favorite quote would be a great addition to this exercise.

I had a lot of fun creating my quote posters using QuotesCover.com. There are five different formats to choose from. I used the “Google+ cover” generator, and then I think I used the “E-card” format. I was not able to use the “For Prints” option. Once I chose a format, I stuck to the basic editor, which allows you to scroll through choices in text and color formats. I went a little bit farther, by changing the color schemes and playing with the line and dot pens. One thing I found frustrating was the inability to use my apostrophe key for contractions. Maybe that’s an incompatibility with Firefox.

Now, when I went to save my quotes, I found that the Google+ generator gave me a file to save that could not be opened with my computer. Instead, I used my SnagIt editor to download the graphic as a jpeg image. The E-card format was easier to download, but I used SnagIt as a backup anyway. My next task will be to create my third quote with a picture background. I will include that in my post as well.

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Quote generated using one of my collage images as the background.

 

Please let me know if you have every used this tool in your classroom. I can already see myself making classroom rules posters for the beginning of the year…

Happy Bastille Day! Cherry Clafoutis recipe

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It is cherry season, and I love to make a clafoutis for dessert. This one is very low calorie, about 4-5 WW Pts. Plus, I think.  I posted it in 2003, but have changed it a bit, doubling the custard.

Clafoutis

1 pound cherries, with or without pits

2 tablespoons kirschwasser, brandy, or lemon juice

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

6 tablespoons flour* or flour alternative

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 ½ cups skim milk

4 eggs

grated rind of one half of a lemon

2 pinches of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Remove stems from cherries.  You may also remove the pits, if desired (Traditional French cooks usually leave the pits in. They say it adds flavor). Toss the cherries with powdered sugar and kirschwasser and set aside for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a Pyrex dish (I have an 8 inch square white porcelain dish with high sides that I love to use – whatever size lets the custard come up over most of the cherries) with cooking spray.

3. In a bowl, pour the flour and granulated sugar, and stir together.

4. Pour in milk and whisk until thoroughly blended.

5. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, and then add lemon rind, nutmeg, and vanilla.

6. Pour liquid off of cherries (If it is a liqueur, and if you like, you may make this liquid part of the 1 ½ cups of milk – just add less milk).

7. Scatter cherries evenly on bottom of cooking dish.

8. Pour egg and milk mixture over cherries and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until brown and puffed.

9. Chill in the refrigerator. The clafoutis will deflate after it is removed from the oven. Serve cold.

Servings: 8

Notes: I have a bottle of Pineau des Charentes, a fortified wine from Poitiers, France, and I usually soak my cherries in that.

*I also have made the recipe gluten-free by substituting the flour for masa de harina, a corn product.  Almond flour might also be good.

Australian Loteria, Part Two

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So, my students prepared for their loteria creation by watching watching videos

We discussed putting the cassowary in place of the rooster.

on Safari Montage and on Discovery Education.  I also had them go through the Carole Marsh CRCT Prep book, which is to the point and a great resource.  The videos had a lot of great things to identify, such as strange animals and landmarks.

But, since it was close to the end of school, I thought I needed to step it up a bit.  That’s where Amazon Video on Demand comes in.  The first thing I found was a series called “Bite Me”  with Dr. Mike.  This crazy man goes around finding venomous plants and animals and trying out the venom and irritants on himself.  Then, he tells you what it feels like…  Here’s the blurb:

Virologist and intrepid explorer Dr. Mike Leahy is on a high-stakes mission to meet the maddest and deadliest creatures on the planet. In this 8-episode installment, join Dr. Mike as he puts his body on the line against an army of exotic pests whose bites, sprays, and stings promise much more than rash. From fire ants and vampire bats in Brazil, to venomous lizards in the jungles of Borneo, to acid-spraying scorpions in India, Dr. Mike will subject himself to the full brunt of nature’s wrath in the name of scientific understanding — even if it means swallowing a tapeworm cyst in Hanoi! Down the hatch!

I showed episode 6 of Season 1 – Coastal Australia.  One of my students said that it was the best video they had ever seen at school.  Oh, make sure you get all school videos approved, of course.  ;-)  Episode 4 shows the Australian Outback, but the images are much grosser and have more to do with viruses and fungi you can get from sheep and other animals… I chose not to show that.

The Spider

Another good series is Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.  Here’s the blurb from Season 4, Episode 5 (Sydney):

Andrew goes snorkeling, spear fishing and visits a farm where they “pamper” their cattle. He ventures to the Sydney Fish Market where he finds things even he has never tasted before, such as Morton Bay and Balamain Bugs, Flathead Fish and Spanner Crabs.

There is also another episode about the Outback (Season 4, Episode 3):

Andrew heads into the Australian Outback where he eats wallaby with some Aborigines, samples crocodile cooked on the barbie and helps thin out the huge populartion of poisonous cane toads by making them into a meal.

I told my students to do their best on spelling the names of the things they thought should go in the Loteria deck.  I also put some of the words on the board.  Then we talked about the traditional food and plant and animal cards in the original Don Clemente deck and what items we would substitute from Down Under.

That is one wierd camaron (shrimp) - lobster... but it works.

There is a need to show a spectrum of foods, famous people, cultural icons, everyday items, musical instruments, and other things – slang words are good – so that the entire loteria is not animals.  That’s an easy thing to do in Australia, where there are so many bizarre fauna.  You may have to have them vote on what animals should go in the deck.

Australian Loteria, Part One

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Click on the picture to go to the NEH Oaxaca website, also known as the Wired Humanities Project. Scroll down to High School/Middle School Art / Celeste LeTard Williams / “Lotería” to download the PowerPoint tutorial.

Last summer, when I attended the NEH Oaxaca Institute for School Teachers, I created a PowerPoint tutorial on how to make an original Loteria game about any topic.  I am happy to say that it was posted on the Wired Humanities Project page along with some worksheets and resources for the classroom.  Just click on the image to the left and it will take you to the lesson plans prepared by myself and my colleagues from last summer’s Mesoamerican Institute.  You will need to scroll down to the section which says High School/Middle School Art, then look for my name and the title “Loteria”.  There are also some worksheets to be used for students to draw a loteria card, as well as a rubric and a sheet with the original cards and calling rhymes listed on it.

This year, I planned on having my students create a Loteria game about Australia.   The idea was to introduce the original Mexican Loteria and to have the students search out analogous icons and symbols from Australia to replace the Latino images.  I have done blog entries about this idea in the past. This one actually lists the different cards of the Loteria in order.   I also collect Loteria decks and images, which I use for classroom examples.

An important resource is also the gallery of Loteria Card Deck uploads at Elsewhere.org.  There are about 20 decks scanned and uploaded to the website.  They are great for examples.  You could have students research the images there, but just beware of the “Queer” Loteria because of inappropriate images.  Some of the other decks are great for pulling images.  Or, you can just purchase a Loteria game at a Mexican grocery or at an online source.

The thing I appreciate about Elsewhere.org is that there IS a variety of images.  So you can pick and choose your images for classroom appropriateness.  There are things on the traditional deck that could be considered inappropriate.  For example, La Sirena/The Mermaid is usually bare-breasted.  You can find images with covered breasts, such as the Anahuac Sirena and the Compadres Sirena.  There is a non-smoking El Catrin (also known as the Dandy, or the Gentleman), El Valiente (The Brave One)  without a weapon,  La Botella that is not Tequila – yes, I know, the one in the original deck is catsup, but I don’t like the image.

There are also some images that could be offensive, such as El Negrito (The Black Man) and El Borracho (The Drunkard).  And, El Soldado (The Soldier) is pretty much always going to have a gun.  But, you could replace those images with something else from one of the other decks, such as El Payaso (The Clown), or El Mono (The Monkey) or El Moro (The Moor, or Arab), or El Atleta (The Athlete) or Los Boxeadores (The Boxers).  Also, I like it that El Apache could also be El Azteca.  And… El Gorrito (the Bonnet – who wears a bonnet anymore?) could be replaced by El Sombrero (The Hat).  The possibilities are endless!

I really appreciate the work that was done with the Loteria Card Gallery.  Take some time to look throught the images.  Especially noteworthy are:

  • The Clemente Jacques Series 2 and Alternate Series 2 – These were introduced  in the 50’s or 60’s.  The images in the Series 2 Alternate look older than the Series 2, which are more refined.  These decks are very hard to find – I paid almost $100 for a Series 2 on E-Bay.
  • The Loteria de Teresa Villegas – also published by Clemente Jacques and available online – try E-Bay.  Teresa Villegas also has a website with more details about her Loteria project.
  • My Loteria, by Cristina Sosa Noriega, was available at HEB grocery stores, along with coordinating products.  Some of the products are still seen on e-Bay and she has a website.
  • The Loteria Zarela was commissioned by WalMart several years ago and was put on a product line for home and bath.  Zarela Martinez is a celebrated chef who has a restaurant in NYC and has authored many cookbooks.  She also had a designed loteria of fruits and vegetables.  These items are very hard to find now.
  • Maison-Celeste.com – my CafePress Store is where I display and sell my own Loteria designs.

Farmers Market Friday

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Friday, on the way home from work, I stopped by the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  It’s my favorite thing to do, and I was making good time, so I decided to make a detour.  The only thing is that I usually spend at least an hour and a half there – I could easily spend more time, but I try to limit it.

When you enter, the first thing you see is the produce.  I wandered around, looking at all of the fruit – fresh guava, horn melon, mangoes… I settled on a pound of strawberries for $1.49. I also bought some red seedless grapes and HUGE Red Delicious apples for my husband.  The only “unusual” fruit I got was a variety of apple called Prince.

Then, I spied the rhubarb. I have never had rhubarb before.  I guess it’s not a big thing in my family, or in Louisiana, or Texas.  It was $3.99 a pound, but I was feeling adventurous, so I grabbed a fistful that came to just over a pound and a half. I used them to make a rhubarb crisp – gluten free. I just followed the recipe and replaced the flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour Mix.

Last Christmas, I roasted my own beets, and made an Ensalada de Nochebuena from a recipe by the Homesick Texan.  I found not one, but three different varieties of beet, with greens intact, and bought them.  The were regular beets ($1.79), golden beets ($2.49) and Candy Striped beets ($2.39).  I have to admit it was the Candy Striped beets that sold me. Who can resist cooking with three colors of beets? Not I.  So far, I have roasted the beets and cleaned the greens. I will probably saute the greens in garlic and shallots and olive oil. Two side dishes in one veggie.

In produce, I also picked up herbs: sage, tarragon, oregano, mint, Italian parsley, and cilantro.  I plan on chopping them up and freezing them. I want to buy mini ice cube trays to freeze them in.  I have still not forgiven Trader Joe’s for not offering ALL of the Dorot frozen herb trays at their store.  I have heard claims of people finding them in regular supermarkets, but I have not had that luck yet.

Then, I went to the meat department. Now, there are a plethora of meats to choose from.  I almost got some marinated quail, but they were advertised a “spicy”, so I passed. Instead, I perused the beef “offal” aisle, and espied something called “beef cheeks” (in Spanish, cachete).  There was a meat clerk nearby, so I asked him “Como se cocina? (How does one cook this?).  He explained that it is usually boiled (or simmered) in a pot of water for a long time – 2 to 3 hours. So then I asked him, “Usted sabe que es un ‘slow cooker’?” ;-)

My original plan was to cook it in the slow cooker, but I found a recipe for Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos.  So they have been marinating overnight, and I’m about to brown them in my oddly shaped Dutch oven and braise them in the over for 3 hours. Thank goodness I bought fresh tortillas while I was there.  Next time, I may make Beef Bourguignon – I got 1.67 pounds for $3.74, so I want to work with it some more if this barbacoa works out.

I wandered the Asian, Philippine, and Indonesian aisles for a while, but only picked up a small can of Massaman Curry Paste (89 cents) and a packet of Instant Miso Soup Individual packets in Clam flavor (8 servings for $1.49). I just had a big bowl of Miso Soup using two of the little pouches – I added shrimp, rice noodles, a sliced boiled egg, and garnished it with cilantro.  Not bad!

Finally I picked up some snack food and candy oddities to share with my students. I bought some Indonesian tamarind candy – I have one student from Indonesia, and the most of the rest of my classes are from Mexico and Latin America.  They also enjoy tamarind, so I thought this would show something their cultures have in common. Then, I bought a bag of , which will surely be vile to everyone EXCEPT my Indonesian student. I also have two African and one Nepalese student, and that will just probably be a new experience for them.

Okay, my beef cheek barbacoa is slow cooking, and I need to go and get some avocado and red onions to go with it.  Can’t wait to see how it comes out!  The rhubarb crisp was sure great, as were the beets.