Breakfast in a Blender

April 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes, School's Out

GG’s Power Protein Shake = A+

I make this at least three mornings a week.  It’s my favorite Saturday breakfast right before going to the gym for a nice long weekend workout.  It tastes much more sinful than it is.   It only takes a couple of minutes from start to clean up too.  I’ve also varied this with frozen strawberries and a scoop of strawberry whey protein for a different treat.    Go ahead ~ put that blender to use.


GG’s Power Protein Shake

1 frozen banana
1/3 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup water
1 scoop vanilla, cookies n cream, or graham cracker flavored whey protein powder
1 tbs oat bran
1 tbs flaxseeds and 1 tbs chia seeds
1.5 tbs wheat germ

2 tbs natural applesauce

**When I really feel like getting my greens, I add a handful of baby spinach and/or mustard greens.  It mixes well and tastes surprisingly good with the banana!!!
A small scoopful of ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.           Breakfast in a blender!

Hummus to Hum About

April 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes, School's Out

GG’s Hummus = A+

Yes, I gave myself an A for my own recipe. You’ll taste why when you try this. Want a guilt-free dip that is actually very good for you? This is soooo easy to make.  I whip this up in about one minute.  I never buy store-bought hummus anymore because, honestly, this is way better . . . creamier and all natural ingredients!  Try it and let me know what you think. 



GG’s Hummus to Hum About

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp Mexican seasoning

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1 – 2 (jarred) roasted red peppers

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Enjoy with pita pieces or baby carrots.

Mind your messages

April 24, 2009 by  
Filed under My Writing

Grading Girl shares this message during the first week of my speech classes:

Meanings are in the message senders – NOT in the messages themselves!!

If meaning were in the words, then knowing word definitions would eliminate all misunderstandings!  There would be no room for argument if we only held denotations, or dictionary definitions, to words.  The reality is, though, that each person has different experiences that cause associations to certain emotional meaning, or connotations, of words.  In other words (no pun intended!), individuals assign meanings to words and intend them in a particular way.

The misunderstanding comes when the person receiving the message holds different attitudes or emotions to the very same words.  Nonverbal language, then, helps convey the intended association.  Facial expressions, gestures, and body movement can help reveal the true message when words fail us.  So Grading Girl urges you to mind your messages!

Meaning is in the sender, not the words!

Diet, Exercise, or Act of God?

April 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

I’ve heard many line openers at the gym but the title to this post particularly sticks out in my mind.It certainly is more creative than “Can I work in with you?”  Or these . . .

Line Openers at the Gym

·I like your shoes/ Did you get new shoes?/Those are interesting shoes. – (For some reason, this one’s a biggie.Do my feet stick out or something?)

·____ is your color. (Boring.)

·How long have you been working out here? (Also boring.)

·Wow, if I do those exercises, will I get those abs?(hmmmm)

·You look like my future girlfriend. (Now that’s cute!)

To answer the first question . . . while I’ve been blessed with a fairly fast metabolism (thanks, Mom!), maintaining a low fat diet and working out 6 days a week certainly plays a factor in maintaining my physique. Here’s a set of exercises I’ve been doing – without fail – since a week after my daughter was born.I gained 33 pounds when I was pregnant with her and lost it all within 3 weeks. Now, I am currently in my 40s and maintain my “6-pack.”  Unfortunately, because I am a teacher, you’ll just have to take my word for it or ask one of my gym buds.  No pictures allowed!! 🙂  


15 minutes, five mornings a week – if I miss a morning, I do them at night; it doesn’t matter which days of the week, as long as it’s five times within the week.I can honestly say that I’m in the best shape of my life and this little routine definitely plays a factor toward that.So, sshh, don’t tell . . . here it is ~

GG’s No Fail Daily Exercises

On the floor:

1.  100 crunches . . . lie flat on your back, bend knees, feet planted, hands behind neck

2.  50 alternate side crunches . . . same as above except crunching (25 each side, alternating with each crunch)

3.  For more challenge, add this:  50 alternate side crunches w. knee lift . . . elbow reaching to opposite knee as knee lifts to meet elbow (25 each side, alternating with each crunch)

4.  For even more challenge, add this:  100 “bicycle” crunches. . . legs raised an inch, parallel to ground, elbow reaching to opposite knee as knee lifts to meet elbow (50 each side, alternating with each crunch & keeping legs raised)

That’s it!  We can pin exercise routines on Pinterest until our fingers fing, but the truth is one needs only find that one routine that works and makes one feel comfortable and  the results will follow!!  Now let’s get those 6 packs popping!


April 19, 2009 by  
Filed under My Writing

Timing is everything.

Time is ours to spend but we can’t keep it.

We can’t see time but we can feel it.

We can feel time but we can’t hold on to it.

Time never stops but keeps going and going.

Time can’t be rushed yet it can’t be slowed down.

Once time is lost, it’s gone forever.

Timing is everything.

Yum Yum Time

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Yum Yum Bowls

My first set of Yum Yum Bowls

Feeding my all-things-mini obsession, I purchased my second set of these adorable bowls. Yum Yum Dishes™ measure four ounces, the perfect size for portioning snacks. They come in a set of four, one of each color. In this American “Super Size Me” society, it’s hard to stop munching after one serving, let alone even know how much one serving really is. Many parents purchase these adorable servers for children’s snacks, but they’re perfect for any size person. For instance, fill a bowl with chips and, magic, you have an actual serving instead of the whole bag temptation. Life is too serious for us to take our snacks seriously, so the cheery message at the bottom of the bowl, “Yum Yum Time is over,” is our extra credit for eating healthy portions. Of course, I haven’t only used these for snacks. I serve condiments in them because who wants an ugly ketchup bottle sitting on the table?! One or two of these little guys has been known to sneak on my desk, holding paper clips as well. The price of $22/set is as miniature as the bowls themselves.

Tracy Adler first introduced The Yum Yum Dish™ at her former restaurant, Café on the Square in Asheville, North Carolina. There, she served appetizers and desserts in these adorable bowls to help her customers portion control. Amen! GG wants to know when others will catch on!  I purchased a set of these for my bro and sis-in-law long before my little niece was born.  They loved the bowls for snacking themselves and, as you can see in the picture below, they’re perfect now for feeding the newest member of the family complete meals:

Yum Yum bowls make mealtime fun!!

On a serious side note, Tracy sold her restaurant in preparation to move her family to Atlanta to live closer to a major university hospital.  Her eight year-old son, Elliot, was diagnosed with CMT –  Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.  CMT is one of the most common, incurable neurological disorders that affect 1 in 2,500 people.  Elliot’s nerves are dying beginning with his toes, and there is desperate need for a cure.  To read more about Elliot’s courageous fight against the disease and/or to donate to H.E.L.P., Help Elliot Live Proud, visit his blog at Elliot’s Corner.  Tracy graciously gave Grading Girl one set of Yum Yum dishes for a poetry contest last year.  Check out the winner and deets of that contest here:  GG’s First Giveaway.     Additionally, discover the whole story behind the Yum Yum dishes at and pick up your own set.  They are worth every penny (and they’re not too many pennies, at that!).

Grading Girl gives these bowls an A for adorableness and practicality, plus bonus points for excellent customer service.  Grading Girl gives Elliot and the Adler family an A+ for their courageousness in fighting CMT!!  My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

(Ba)Nana Bread

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes, School's Out

New ‘Nana Bread = A+

What’s a (grading) girl like myself to do when I come home from a great workout with papers ready to grade, new blog pages ready to fill, and a sweet tooth that won’t subside. Well, I found a solution this evening that won’t waste those hours at the gym. I’ve been searching for a healthier banana bread recipe in fitness and nutrition magazines, but never discovered one quite as delicious as the original; the alternatives are either too dry or bland. Thankfully, my sister-in-law solved this dilemna with her latest kitchen experiment – it takes the grade, peeps! Moist and sinfully sweet as dessert yet happily healthy as whole grain. Mmmm . . . this aroma makes the words fly out of my fingertips. . . Try this – no guilt required.

New (Ba)Nana Bread ~

Sift the dry ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (original = 2 cups all purpose flour)
– 2 teaspoons baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mash :
– 3 or 4 ripe bananas
– 1 tablespoon milk
– 1/2 cup blackberries (this addition is key!)

Mix the following in this order:
– 1/2 stick melted butter (original = 1 stick)
– 1/2 cup Truvia or Splenda blend (original = 1 cup sugar)
– 1 egg, 2 egg whites (original = 2 eggs)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla

Add the dry ingredients and the mashed banana mixture alternatively to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Bake in a sprayed loaf pan @ 350 degrees for 1 hour, 10 minutes.


A Fortunate Favorite

April 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Favorites

Love, love, love this movie. I’m blogging on another subject, but had to take a detour to share a favorite as my daughter and her friend play this in the background. Serendipity is definitely my second favorite movie of all time.  The title is such a happy word!  This movie embodies those little fortunate accidents that we never expect or plan for but can completely change our lives.  They happen every day if we take the time to notice them.

One of my favorite scenes

One of my favorite scenes

If you are an unfortunate soul who has not yet seen this romantic comedy, Jonathon Tragger (John Cusack) meets Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) by chance.  Both are in relationships so when Jonathon asks for her number, Sara decides to write it in a book, sell it to a bookshop, and have Jonathon try to find it; she has him, in turn, place his name on a five dollar bill and gives it to a newspaperman. She states that if destiny wants them together, Jonathan will get that book back or she will receive that bill again. This marks the beginning of a “chase” as they both realize their current relationships aren’t their soul mates.  Has anyone ever tried something like this in “real life?!”

With co-stars such as Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon, this movie is written with memorable, quirky lines and approachable characters in which viewers can easily find pieces of themselves.  The soundtrack hails tunes that raise spirits, from David Grey’s peaceful “January Rain,” (a GG fave!) to John Mayer’s “83” to Louis Armstrong’s “Cool Yule.”  I’ve seen this movie probably 10 times within the past few years, and it tickles my heart each time.  Granted, this is coming from someone who saw the movie, Grease, 12 times when it was released in the theatre years ago (GG’s #1 fave movie), but I give this grade with a guarantee.  GG dares anyone who views this to dislike it – it’s impossible.  A+

During my daughter’s first trip to New York, we paid a visit to the Serendipity3 cafe where Jonathan and Sara infamously share a frozen hot chocolate.  While we didn’t spot anyone famous at this notoriously star-laden spot, GG gives this cozy coffee boutique an A for both food and atmosphere.  The menu offers unique choices such as my order, the Summer Bries (smoked turkey,apple and brie cheese on raisin pumpernickel bread, yum) and, of course the frozen hot chocolate.  The frozen hot chocolate is as boastful as hot hot chocolate and as creamy as a milkshake. With its Tiffany lampshaded 19th century decor, the cafe has been drawing people by the lines outside since opening in 1954.  We experienced an hour wait, but it was completely worth it.  One can browse through the sweet shop boutique and score a take-home frozen hot chocolate kit or Serendipity ice cream bowls. Andy Warhol once claimed this sweet shop as his favorite! Grading Girl shares the claim. Oh . . . and it looks exactly like it does in the movie.

Idol Grammar

April 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Grammar, Mini-Lessons

Mini-Lesson 2 is brought to you by American Idol. This evening as my daughter and I watched one of our favorite shows,American Idol , Grading Girl couldn’t help but hear some grammar goofs. Granted the contestants are chosen based on how they sing, not how they speak, but perhaps they could be a little more cognizant of their language. After all, only about 17.5 million people are viewing the show.

Contestant Lil Rounds made a faux pas when she described herself this way: “I did good.”  Grading Girl nearly cringes every time she hears this mistake ~

Arianna and I on "Idol Tonight," American Idol, Season 5

My daughter and I on “Idol Tonight,” American Idol, Season 5

Good vs. Well

Good is an adjective, meaning that it modifies  nouns.

Well is an adverb, meaning it modifies verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.

Examples ~

*That song is good.  (Good is modifying the noun, song)

*You played that song very well.  (Well is modifying the verb, played)

In Lil Round’s sentence, “well” should replace “good” because it is modifying the verb, “did.”


Characteristic of the crazy English language (see essay titled “Do fingers fing?“), there is an exception:  “Well” may be used when describing something healthy, proper, or suitable.  Example:  I am well today.

Grading Girl also couldn’t help but hear Matt Giraud say, “Sing it how it’s supposed to be sang.”  Uh, maybe American Idol should hire Grading Girl as a speech consultant.

Do fingers fing?

April 13, 2009 by  
Filed under My Writing

Let’s review the English language, shall we?

(adapted from an anonymous handout lying around, waiting to be rescued from the recycling bin)

Grading Girl concludes that English is a crazy language. I can think of many examples to support this. . . some are from an anonymous essay sent my way, others are GG’s own contemplations: There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither is there an apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or french fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

Why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

And what about the phrase “Believe you me.”  That one still boggles my mind. . . .

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS ~ Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick?’

Linguistic lovers will especially enjoy this ~
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special. And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP . We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn’t rain for a while, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP , for now my time is UP, so………… it is time to shut UP! 😉

A Quotation is Not a Quote

April 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Grammar, Mini-Lessons

GG Mini Lesson: Quote vs. Quotation

Let’s set the record straight, dear readers. I hear students and teachers alike mistakenly use these interchangeably. There is a difference between quote and quotation.

quoted by umjanedoan on Flickr

To quote (verb) is to repeat the exact words of another, providing acknowledgement of the original source.

GG’s example ~ After talking aloud to no one in particular, I justified myself by quoting my mother, “As long as you don’t talk back, it’s okay.” Thanks for the validation, Mom!

    A quotation (noun) is a phrase or sentence from a book, a speech, or another text that reflects a particular thought.GG’s example ~ I shared a beautiful quotation in class today from the book Unwind by Neal Shusterman: “It’s amazing that something as simple as a kiss can overpower the worst of worries.” So true!

T.L.C. first review!

April 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

First T.L.C. review!



Body Language Sportswear is my latest workout attire obsession. A self-described gymrat, I arguably wear workout clothes more than street clothes – particularly in the summer; consequently, I’m constantly on the lookout for durable yet stylish sportswear. A couple of weeks ago, I paid a visit to the small but lively Body Language boutique on Cedros and Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, CA. With the help of the very cheerful co-owner, I spent over an hour trying on nearly half the store and had trouble eliminating. The cuts are feminine enough to wear outside of the gym (sorry guys, they don’t have a men’s line yet) and the patterns are vibrant and rival the usual blacks, blues, and whites usually spotted at the gym. Granted, their prices may be little higher than some lines (full price pants average $80, full price short tops $40) but it is true that one gets what one pays for. They have frequent sales too.  More significantly, Body Language is made with the strong Supplex material that never fades or shrinks. My older pieces still look new a year later when I’ve since literally thrown away my cheaper versions. When all was said and done, I walked out of the boutique armed with eight pieces . . . and I never looked back.

Grading Girl gives Body Language an A+ for unique style and durability!

August 2012 Update:  I am a fan of BL more than ever.  It’s true the items I purchased three years ago are still like new (unlike many of my favorite cotton yoga pants), their pieces are more stand-out noticeable than ever, and the personal customer service is UNBELIEVABLE!!  Stop in and say Hi.  You just might leave with something fashionably fun in your hands.