Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home Made Pizza!

I made an AWESOME home made pizza tonight!  It probably wasn't as "calorie friendly" as it could have been, but I used turkey pepperoni and low moisture/part-skim mozarella cheese, so it was better than it COULD have been.

The crust came from the Weight Watchers "Pizza, Pizza" cookbook, and you can top it with whatever suits your personal tastes, so it can be as "fatty" or as "diety" as you want it to be!

Home Made Pizza

1 ½ cups warm (105-115 degrees) water
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 T. olive oil
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
Pizza toppings of choice

• Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; set aside until foamy (about 10 minutes). With a wooden spoon, stir in the oil, flour, and salt until the dough starts to gather around the spoon. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

• Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray; put the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot (I put the bowl in the oven after turning it on “warm” for about 5 minutes, then turning it off a few minutes before putting the bowl in), until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

30 minutes before baking, heat pizza stone in oven at 450 degrees.

• Punch down the dough, then cut in half. Refrigerate or freeze in floured, zip-closed freezer bags at this point, or use as directed in recipe (thaw dough in refrigerator overnight or on counter for 1 ½ hours if using frozen).
• Let dough sit for 15 minutes.


• Lightly flour cutting board or pizza peel. Stretch dough to 12-14 inches, and place on board/peel. Add toppings. When pizza stone has heated for 30 minutes, slide pizza onto stone.
• Bake for 13 minutes.
• Transfer from stone to cookie sheet, and slice.

Per serving (1/12 of dough ONLY): 174 calories, 2 g. fat, 1 g fiber (3 points). (ADD POINTS FOR TOPPINGS)


Friday, February 26, 2010


Okay...WISHING that was actually my age, but's the PANT SIZE that I haven't been able to get into for the last TWO+ years, but today, I wore my 32" jeans to work (casual Friday), and, except for not really being able to sit down comfortably, THEY FIT!!!!

I'm TWO pounds from goal, and have actually WORN that motorcyle's how it looks at this point...

Maybe I should keep going...160 sounds WAY "hotter" than 165!!!!!

Here's hoping that YOU are sticking to your goals too!!!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Not sure WHY I sign up for these things, but Ashland Productions is doing a "Step Up the Mic", American Idol-type talent contest next month, and I've submitted my application.

I'm ALREADY hyperventilating trying to pick a song, and am trying not to FREAK MYSELF OUT, and have already FREAKED MYSELF OUT, but am hoping to go in as "the old guy", and at least make it through the audition round.  They've, apparently, got some big names from the entertainment industry to judge, so NO PRESSURE THERE...

I THINK I'm going to sing "Being Alive" from Company (I GAY...).  I found a nice version on a CD by John Barrowman (who I missed being in Old Gold Singers with at the University of Iowa by a mere semester!!!) that is in my range, and, if I DO say so myself, I sound AWESOME singing.  The problem is that I can't find the sheet music for it, which isn't a big deal initially, since the audition is "a capella" (which I SUCK at), but will need to find for the actual contest.


It will be good "practice", as I'll be going back to Fairfield in April to JUDGE a similar contest.  My buddy Tena and I will get to perform a song during the evening, so at least I'll get to sing without the pressure of being "judged" at that event.  It'll be on the Sondheim stage, so...BONUS!  I haven't figured out my "judge personality" for the Fairfield gig yet, but am thinking a Simon-like persona might be fun...!!!!

Anyhoo...if you're in the Twin Cities the last weekend of March, get tickets to the show at and come and vote for me...I'm going to need all the help I can get!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lesson Learned!

A word of advice...when baking bread at 450 degrees...ALWAYS make sure that plastic handled knives (used to cut grooves in the top of the loaf) are removed from the Silpat mat before putting it in the oven...

Friday, February 5, 2010

New York City!

I LOVE New York City, and I was fortunate enough to be able to go for an Inquiry workshop through International Baccalaureate earlier this week.  The workshop was called "Inquiry Through a Museum Experience" and the entire thing took place in the Museum of Natural History.  It was led by John Barell, an AMAZING inquirer, and was REALLY awesome!  I met some great people, from as far away as Turkey and Brazil (and Canada!), and learned some stuff that I think will help "tweak" some of our units of inquiry, and make them even better than they already are.

OF COURSE, we were able to see LOTS of great sites, and experience some GREAT food while we were there too!  I'm EXHAUSTED, as we didn't get to bed before 1:00 a.m. on ANY of the nights we were there, and I'm DEFINITELY paying for it now!

We arrived on Sunday, and after a MADDENING journey from Newark airport (by tram, then REALLY slow train, then taxi) we arrived at OTA (On the Avenue), a LOVELY hotel at Broadway and 77th.  Janet from my school, and Aric and Christina from Lincoln Center were my "partners in crime" on this expedition, and we had a GREAT time!!!

After throwing our bags into our rooms, and meeting in the lobby, we tried to get to Greenwich Village.  I think we were in it, briefly, but ended up in Soho.  We were looking for a place to eat, and happened across Balthazaar, an AMAZING place, that was packed.  We went in, and were told that the wait was around TWO HOURS, but that they might be able to get us into the cafe part of the restaurant.  We only had to wait TEN MINUTES!!!  Christina met her aunt and uncle in Manhattan for dinner the next night, and they were AMAZED that we were able to get in at all...apparently it's THE hotspot in the Big Apple!  It was an AWESOME meal, followed by a jog through Times Square, and drinks near the hotel.

Jeff and Janet

Jeff and Aric

Christina, Jeff and Janet on the subway

Jeff on Broadway!!!

Aric, Christia, and Janet

sitting on Broadway!

Monday morning, we headed to the Museum of Natural History (after a stop at the Europan Cafe for coffee and pastries).  It was a four block walk from the hotel.  We spent the morning in the Hayden Planetarium, watching a really cool IMAX movie about the universe, getting to know each other, and focusing on LOTS of inquiry based learning.  We toured part of the museum, and prepped for a problem based scenario presentation slated for the next day. 

By the time we left for the day, my group had NO IDEA what we were going to do.  The focus had to be on something in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life (where the big whale from "Night at the Museum" resides).  We focused on the deep ocean, as we were curious about bioluminescence, and how human interaction would affect the inhabitants of this deep, completely dark region.

Coffee on the way to the workshop!

the Museum of Natural History

After a GRUELING day of inquiry, we ran back to the hotel then headed to Chinatown to find one of those "secret" back rooms/basements, where they sell those knockoff bags.  We fended off COUNTLESS "hawkers", then ended up in Little Italy where we found an AWESOME restaurant to have some pasta (I actually had prosciutto and provolone stuffed pork chops).  We ran into three ladies from South Carolina who had just BEEN to one of those secret rooms, so, after dinner, we all went back to the place they'd been.  The guy they'd worked with had just been arrested, and the shop was closed, so we went back to Chinatown, and eventually found a place.

dinner in Little Italy

that's a BIG pork chop!!!

Janet's new hat and Jeff's new pashmina!

It's a little odd to be crammed with seven other people in a locked "closet" behind a mirror, looking at fake designer bags.  Aric and I were ready to leave as soon as we went in, and the girls didn't find anything they needed.  We eventually parted company with the South Carolinans, and found and AWESOME oriental market.  I was able to find Pretz, my FAVORITE Japanese crackers, and bought FIVE boxes, to cram into my carry on, to bring back to the cities.

After Chinatown, we took the subway to Brooklyn, and went to a couple of neighborhood bars to relax and try various wines and beer.  We really LIKED Brooklyn, and thought it would be a COOL place to live...much more "neighborhoody" than Manhattan!

Christina, Janet, and Aric...with a tree (growing in Brooklyn!)...

wine in Brooklyn

waiting for the subway

Tuesday was another BUSY day of inquiry, with more tours of cool galleries.  Our presentation ended up taking the form of a research group (CODS...Consortium of the Deep Sea), asking a university grant committee for funding to launch "DOS" (Deep Ocean Satellites).  We presented our research on the deep sea (which wasn't actually very much, since we really don't know much about the ocean bottom.  Much of it remains unexplored.)  It went well...considering the lack of preparation time...

Janet being a "kelp forest"

members of CODS

After the workshops, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then Janet and I rushed to Broadway to see "Billy Elliott" (which was FABULOUS!  I loved the music.  I loved the story.  I loved the set.  I thought the kid playing Billy was an AMAZING dancer!!!).  We spent a little more time in Times Square, but left soon after we saw a couple of soldiers with machine guns standing guard in front of one of the stores.  We figured THAT couldn't be a good sign...

Janet and Jeff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Aric and Christina at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A Tiffany window...

a statue...

a Klimt...

a Van Gogh...

another statue...

another statue...

We headed back to our hotel to hook up with Aric and Christina, but they were too TIRED, so Janet and I headed across the street for some GREAT New York pizza, then, after trying a bar near the hotel (which was already closing...apparently New York never sleeps, but they DO close their bars, on weeknights, at 11:00...), went back to the hotel to pack, sleep, and get ready for another day of workshops.

On Wednesday, we went to our cafe (the Europan) for the third morning in a row, for coffee and pastries.  I tried the yogurt parfait this time.  It was thick, and fruity, and had granola in some of the layers.  We found out as we were leaving that the "thick and flavorful" yogurt was made from sheep's milk.  I was a little freaked out for a minute, but, it was so tasty that it didn't matter...yum!  The ladies behind the counter recognized us after the first day, so we even got to be "regulars" for a few days...TOTALLY fun!

the Museum of Natural History

We only had a half day of workshop on Wednesday.  We had to leave early, because the district booked a REALLY early flight from Newark.  We rented a car to get us there (if we'd done the taxi, train, and tram thing...we'd STILL be there!), and even had time at the airport to have lunch before we left.

It was an AWESOME workshop, and a REALLY fun time in the Big Apple.  I can't WAIT to go back again...maybe JUST to do the "touristy" stuff, and not the "workshopy" stuff, but, if I had to pick a favorite place to have a workshop, New York would DEFINITELY be at the top of the list.

Here's hoping YOU had a great adventure this week too!!!