A Complimentary Lesson about Complementary Words

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Grammar, Mini-Lessons

I just read an essay in which a  student wrote “I gave a complement to the author after the presentation.”   This prickly pair needs clarification.   Here’s my complimentary mini-lesson on these two complementary words: 

The sheen of the bright yellow-orange yolk truly complements the navy purple saucepan.

 

Complementary vs. Complimentary

Entities that go well together are complementary.

The colors blue and gray complement each other.

Two people who complete each other are considered complementary.

___________________________________

Complimentary refers to items given without charge, usually offered in addition to a product or service purchased. Additionally, it means to praise someone.

The hotel provides a complimentary breakfast to patrons who stay overnight.

The PR Vice President was very complimentary to the qualified intern candidate.

GG hopes this complimentary lessons complements your vocabulary!

Homemade Red Velvet Cake

February 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Ooey, Rich and Gooey, Recipes, School's Out

My mother was way ahead of the times.  She started baking red velvet cake when I was a little girl years ago.  At family parties, it commanded many ooos and ahs, and disappeared instantaneously.  As we grew, she stopped making as many desserts as she used to and red velvet cake became a distant taste.  Red velvet, in the meantime, has made quite a name for itself these days. Sprinkles in Beverly Hills started it all with their amazing, infamous Red Velvet Cupcakes!      Well, since my brother and I inhaled many a cupcake from Sprinkles and other cupcake cuties, we asked her to resurrect the recipe this past Christmas so that we could taste and discover just how well our mother’s recipe held up against today’s contenders.  The verdict?  Hands down – my mother’s is more moist and light.  Trust me, my bro and I are both critical and if our own mother’s food was not as flavorful than the famous facsimiles, we would stand and say. If you are at all able in the kitchen, this is worth the labor  . . . especially during the Christmas or Valentine season.  I will still frequent Sprinkles and cherish every bite; but, this is one recipe that illustrates there’s no food like homemade.

Red Velvet Cake

CAKE:
(2 round 8 ” cakes)
~ 4 1/2 oz bottles of red food coloring
~ 1/2 cup shortening, softened and creamed
~ 2 tbs. cocoa (sweetened)
~ 1 1/2 cup sugar
~ 2 eggs
~ 1 cup buttermilk
~ 2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted 3 times
~ 1 tsp. vanilla
~ 1 tbs. vinegar
~ 1 tsp. baking soda
~ 1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven at 350°.  Mix the food coloring with the cocoa, creamed shortening and sugar.  Add the eggs.  Blend in the buttermilk, the sifted cake flour, and the salt.  Once this is blended well, add the vanilla.  Next, add the vinegar and baking soda.  Bake in two well greased and floured 8″ round cake pans for 30-35 minutes.


CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
(makes 3 cups)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.

Add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth, about 1 minute, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute to lighten the frosting further. The frosting is ready to use, or for flavor additions.

Once the cakes are cool, frost the top of one and place the second one on top of that.  Now, frost away on the rest of the cake!  The more frosting the better!!!!

All Together Now . . . Don’t Be Altogether Confused

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Grammar, Mini-Lessons

This particular prickly pair of words gets my students pondering.

 

All Together Vs. Altogether

A.  All Together means:

1.  at the same time

One, two, three, all together, sing: “Sweeeeet Caroline, bum, bum, bum . . . .”

2. as a group

Let’s go to hot yoga all together: it’s much more fun that way and we can laugh as we try to hold our balance!

B.  Altogether means:

1. completely

Tyler didn’t take his dog to the vet to put her to sleep until she was altogether listless and lifeless.  He kept saying that she was okay, and it was very sad.

2. total

The books that shipped today were 130 copies of Great Expectations, 50 copies of “Romeo & Juliet,” and 30 copies of The Odyssey:  210 copies altogether.

3. considering everything

Altogether, it was a fabulous trip, despite the painful sun poisoning on my feet. . . .

GG mnemonic (memory trick):  remember that all together – because it’s two separate words – is the one that needs to get into a group and get in sync. This associates the meaning with the spelling to help you remember which of these words is which.

Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Workout

February 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Exercise, Listing through Life

Happy February!  Having a wee bit of trouble keeping up with your new year’s resolutions?  No worries – here are some ideas for embracing the sheer joy of exercise!



1.  Invest in a spray tan and stroll into the gym with your newly applied color.  It’ll accentuate your muscles and make you feel fabulous flexing them.  My A+ recommendation = Get Your Tan On

2.  Equipment everyone should have at home when you can’t get to the gym:

a.  10 & 15 pound dumbbells

b.  a jump rope (fun, inexpensive, easy cardio!)

c.  an exercise ball – there are so many exercises you can do with this from performing crunches while sitting on the ball to lying on the ground with the ball squeezed between your calves and performing leg raises.

d.  your able-bodied self! (push ups, sit ups, lunges, squats, kicks, etc . . . none of these powerhouse moves absolutely require a piece of equipment)

Honestly, that is all you truly need to get in a solid workout at home.  Check out my Workout for the Weary for more info.

3.  Treat yourself to a new exercise outfit.  My A+ recommendation for the ladies = the Best Yoga Pants Ever!  Trust me!!

4.  Schedule hot yoga, massage, and a mani & pedi all in the same day.  I did this once and can’t wait to do it again.  Heaven on Earth!  My A+ place for hot yoga =  The Only Guaranteed Moment is This One

5.  Break out of your mold and try a new exercise or use a piece of equipment that you’ve never used before at the gym.

6.  Try a new type of cardio.  I just played racquetball for the first time – very fun!!!  Additionally, here’s a review of a class that holds benefits for all gym goers:  Improve Posture and Poise with Pam’s Pilates and Progression in Pam’s Pilates

7.  Can’t commit to one gym?  I just learned about this thanks to TimeOut Chicago!  It’s a Yoga Fitness Passbook that allows you to try one class at many yoga studios.  Genius!!

8.  One goal on my list for this year – and it should be yours too:  schedule a photo shoot with a physique photographer!!  It’ll motivate you to get into tip-top shape.

9.  Double your repetitions on all exercises for a month, then check out your cuts in the mirror!

10.  Check out my favorite resources for fitness facts:  Muscle & Fitness Hers and Oxygen.  Both of these magazines are packed with step-by-step exercise instruction, nutrition nuggets and inspiring fitness facts.  Gentlemen, Muscle & Fitness is highly recommended!

Top 10 Things for English Teachers to Do on a Snow Day

January 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Listing through Life

I’m sitting here watching the news getting more than a little anxious about our pending potential blizzard.  I know my East Coast colleagues can’t say the same but my school district has yet to declare a snow day this year; in fact, we didn’t partake in the snow dance last year either.  While the amount of snow the wise weathermen are declaring is daunting, I’d really like just one measly snow day . . . just one.  After all, there’s so much we teachers can do to remain our productive selves.  Here are the top ideas.  What would you add to this to-do list?


1.  Always wanted to create a blog?!  Snow days are perfect days to begin one.  If you’re creating a blog for your classroom, I highly recommend edublogs.org.  Edublogs is free (or $40 for the ad-free Pro version) and student-friendly with helpful hints every step of the way.  Check out my latest, newest classroom blog for my senior expository writing class:  Writing Well

2.  Check out the archives of #engchat for all the great convos you’ve missed.  You’ll pick up insightful ideas from a resourceful network.

3.  Read, read, read!!!!  Curl up with one or more of the books piled up on your nightstand.  I’ve got Before I Fall and Sisters Red waiting for me.

4.  Make ahead a scrumptious lunch to bring to school tomorrow.  My recommendation:  Baby spinach leaves + dried cranberries + grilled chicken + cinnamon roasted pecans + pomegranate vinaigrette = one amazing lunch! (Thanks @MichelleLMyers!)

5.  Bake a batch of cookies, brownies or cupcakes to bring to your students.  They will always remember you for it!  OR bake a batch for your colleagues to share in the office.  A favorite in my office:  Mint Chocolate Brownies

6.  Plan ahead!!  Vow to plan at least two week’s worth of lessons for at least one class.  If you’re so inclined, do this for all your classes and/or increase it to one month’s worth.

7.  Organize that inbox!!!  Create folders for your work emails and organize them!!!  Make a folder for each class, a folder for technology tips, a folder for student information, etc.

8.  Exercise.  A healthy teacher is a happy teacher.  Try my Workout for the Weary that will take you about 15 minutes to complete.

9.  Of course, catch up on that pile of papers or set of blogs to grade!!  You know I had to include this one.  Maybe the least fun of ideas but perhaps the one that will make you feel most refreshed when you return.

10.  Take time for fun.  Snow days are as exciting for teachers as they are for students.  When was the last time you made a snow angel, built a snowman, sled down a hill, had a snowball fight?

Move Your Memory

January 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Mini-Lessons

1.  To memorize lists, use acronyms.  For instance, to remember the names of the Great Lakes, think of HOMES:  Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.  NEVER EAT SOUR WATERMELON will help you remember the four directions:  north, east, south, west.  ROY G. BIV will help you remember the colors of the rainbow:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

2.  To memorize long numbers, divide them. Divide them into a series of smaller numbers and try to crate associations for that number.  For instance, 183,332,310 becomes 18 (the “legal” age), 333 (3 three’s!), 23 (Ryne Sandberg’s #), and 10 (your curfew?).

3.  To remember dates, associate them.  Associate them with dates you already know.  For instance, November 30th might be four days after your birthday; November 25 is Christmas Day except a month earlier.  The year 1519 can be remembered as the ages of two people you know.  (of course, this will only work for a year!)

More GG Memorizing Tips →

~ Rhyme it!! “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.”

~ Speak it!! To memorize my Human Anatomy notes back in college, I used to read them aloud.  It worked – I earned some of the highest scores in the class (and the class was full of pre-meds!)

~ Hear it!! Record yourself reading your notes and listen to them before you go to sleep.

~ Type it!! Type all your notes on your smart phone or computer.  Just typing will cause you to think about them, and you’ll remember the material longer.

~ Post it!! Put everything on Post-It notes and stick them where you’ll see them ALL the time.

The “iGeneration” in the Classroom and Beyond

January 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Favorites

Free Hot Technologies

(these are courtesy of a handout prepared by the tech coordinator at my school!)

~ Jotform.com . . . Website for creating electronic forms.  Best of all, data can be collected and imported to Excel.  This site allows you to be much more paperless and “green.”

~ Qik.com . . . Website that allows you to share live video.  (Teachers, if you assign your class a project that requires them to interview people, they can use their phones to record and then use qik.com to store and playback the interviews for their project almost immediately.)

~ Wolframalpha.com . . . Computational knowledge engine  [Example given:  3x + 2, enter your birth date, enter your name, Burger King Whopper, AAPL Stock Look-UP.]  Also does data comparison.

~ Xtranormal.com . . . You are able to animate movies by typing text, picking characters and camera angles.

~ Toondoo.com . . . Easily make comic strips about a variety of topics.  Cartoon characters are easy to edit and the gallery has a vast amount of pictures and backgrounds to choose from.

~ Glympse.com . . . Geographic location sharing with your smart phone.  Useful for parents!!!  (New York Times rated it as one of the top 10 must have iPhone applications!)

~ Posterous.com . . . From any email address (Gmail has largest capacity to send attachments), send Posterous PowerPoint attachments, Word docs, music, etc, and it will create a free webpage with all your content.

~ Live.com . . . Can open any version of Word, PowerPoint, etc.  Has a sky drive (25 GB free) to save per account and internet TV useful for showing clips.

See my previous free technology site recommendations here:  Technology Tools to Try

The Importance of Collaboration

January 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Writing

I made a poster out of this and have it hanging in each classroom that I teach. 


The Importance of Collaboration

 

We remember . . .

 

  • 10 percent of what we read
  • 20 percent of what we hear
  • 30 percent of what we see
  • 50 percent of what we both see and hear
  • 70 percent of what we talk about with others

Thus, the act of collaboration itself raises the reading comprehension of every student in this class.  Let’s collaborate!!

**Adapted from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers

You’re Wearing My Color

January 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Mini-Lessons

It’s winter and we could all use a little more color to brighten our day . . . yes, even my West Coast friends!  Just as the sun affects our moods, gazing at, wearing or surrounding ourselves with certain colors evokes different feelings.  Check out my post on Colorstrology for details on the intriguing belief that we are connected to certain colors based on our birthdays.

We use color to distinguish between teams (Go Blue and Silver!), to hide pounds, to accentuate curves, to decorate rooms, to mark occasions.  Just as I can’t imagine a world without music, a world without color would be a world with less smiles.

Advertisers, marketers, actors and musicians strategically use color to evoke a response from their audiences.  As a semester opener for my communication classes, I ask my students to answer the following questions about colors.  There are no right or wrong answers but these spawn thought and discussion as to how we can subtly use color to evoke desired responses when conveying messages.  I give students slips of paper with a different color labeled on each.  They answer the questions below according to their given color.

It’s your turn.  Pick a color, any color, and replace the X with that color.  Complete the rest of the sentence with that color in mind.

Color Questionnaire

  1. The personality of a person whose favorite color is X may best be described as ____________________, ____________________ and ____________________.
  2. The personality of a person who has an extreme dislike for X may best be described as ____________________, _________________, and _______________________.
  3. When I visualize X, my thoughts and feelings can best be described as:  ___________________________, ______________________, and __________________________________.
  4. My first impression of a book whose cover is X is that the book is _________________________________.
  5. My first impression of a woman who wears X a great deal is that the woman is ________________________.
  6. My first impression of a man who wears X a great deal is that the man is ___________________________.

Color for thought:
~Do certain colors appear masculine (or communicate masculinity in some way) and certain colors appear feminine (or communicate femininity in some way)?

~Which colors would you categorize as masculine?  Why?

~Which colors would you categorize as feminine?  Why?

What colors would you use to communicate the following feelings and characteristics?  Why?

a.  Friendliness

b. Hostility

c. Warmth

d. Sex appeal

e. Love

f. Satisfaction

g. Anger

h. Strength

i. Weakness

j. Happiness

What colors would you use to package the following products?  Why?

a.  a new and powerful detergent

b. an expensive line of chocolate chip cookies

c. an extremely powerful personal computer

d. a mild liquid laxative

e. an expensive gold watch

GG’s reflection questions:

How universal do you think the impressions that people get from various colors are?  For example, do men and women get the same impressions on the basis of color?  Would young and old derive the same impressions?  Would members of different cultures?

Comment your responses.  This is fun!

Do You Have a Goodness Allergy?

January 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Writing

I err on the optimistic side – arguably, to a fault – consistently attempting to see the good in everyone and the positive outcomes in every situation.  Moreover, I tend to express more than the average intensity of spirit or enthusiasm. And I’ve been known to shout out in glee for seemingly no reason at all.  At times, my positiveness is tested during everyday affairs such as promoting new initiatives to disgruntled colleagues or during much more significant transitions such as my father’s unexpected death and my divorce.   As I blogged a few days ago on my One Cannot Earn an F in Life post, life is full of lessons large and small in which we may stumble but always learn from and become a better, stronger person for it.  That’s why it can be difficult for me to understand consistently pessimistic people.  Why choose to be sad or mad or resentful?  Yes, it is a choice.

As Iyanla Vanzant describes in her book Until Today!  Daily Devotionals for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind, someone with a “goodness allergy” finds something wrong when things are going well.  Undoubtedly, as you read this, someone you know is coming to mind.  Every one of us knows someone like this.  A person such as this tends to focus upon what happened yesterday rather than on the good he is experiencing today.  Just as a person allergic to cats tries to stay away from the little critters, a person allergic to good shuns happiness by believing nothing good will occur.  Believing begets reality.

A diagnosis for a goodness allergy includes relying on the past.  It’s safer because the past is familiar and doesn’t require doing something scary or taking a risk – in fact, it doesn’t require doing anything at all except pining.  A goodness allergic stays mad about what happened in the past, keeping the argument going.  When the allergy really flares up, this person finds something wrong with how good came or who brought the good.  This person questions why he is receiving the good and how much it is going to cost.

A goodness allergy is caused by fear.  Fear of getting hurt.  Fear of losing what one has.  Fear that one doesn’t deserve good because of something done in the past.  Fear that if one opens up his heart and mind to receive good, he will have nothing to complain about.  At the very, very heart of a goodness allergy is the fear that if nothing is wrong, then one must be all right – and that would be just too good to be true.

True to my optimism, I believe there is a cure.  It may not occur right away, the “medicine” may take some time to take effect, but anyone can curtail the symptoms if not erase the allergy altogether.  First, acknowledge the allergy.  All too often those with the strongest allergies deny it.  Second, write it down.  I’m a firm believer in the power of writing, and writing it down can be one way to diminish the allergic symptoms.  If one spends time writing down all the good things that have happened in a given day (for oneself and because of oneself), it may be easier to concretely see all the good that is truly happening.  Ponder over the list and reflect on how you really feel about all the good that you’ve received and have done.  The “itch” of the allergy will dissipate soon and be replaced with the contagious feeling of peace and joy.  And when all else fails, never underestimate the power of a smile.  🙂

Workout for the Weary

January 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Exercise


No matter your shape, size, age, agility, strength – you CAN benefit from even the slightest amount of exercise.  I’m about to give my secret away here and reveal the exact exercises I’ve been performing for the past 19 years, exercises that helped me lose 33 pounds within three weeks after my daughter was born, that not only helped me maintain my desired weight every year since but made me more toned than before I was pregnant (honest!), and that energize me on even the weariest mornings.  They will cost you a mere 5 – 10 minutes and they are easy enough for everyone to work up to.  Why not do them while watching the morning news?  Or turn on some soothing morning tunes.  If you’re a night owl, perhaps you can squeeze them in while catching some late night T.V.?  . . .

Are you ready?!  This is the exact amount, exact order I execute.  Nothing fancy, not a lengthy routine at all ➜

**You can do these simply with your body weight or you can use a set of 10 or 12 lb free weights.  I alternate between body weight and free weights, and purchased my dumbbells at Target for about $12 – 15 per set.

This is as far as you need to go - that's it!

1.  100 narrow stance squats:

At first, break them into smaller sets, completing 10 – 15 at a time and resting before completing the next sets.  Work your way up to four sets of 25.

  • Feet pointing forward, shoulder width apart
  • Hands on hips OR arms at side with or without weights
  • Be sure your knees do not extend past your toes as you squat
  • No need to bend down too far
  • More challenge:  perform bicep curls or overhead presses at the same time

2. 100 wide-stance squats

At first, break them into smaller sets, completing 10 – 15 at a time and resting before completing the next sets.  Work your way up to four sets of 25.

  • Feet pointing outward, past your shoulders
  • Hands on hips OR arms at side with or without weights
  • Be sure your knees do not extend past your toes as you squat
  • You will naturally bend farther than with the narrow stance squats.  As you get the hang of it, attempt to execute deeper squats.
  • More challenge:  perform bicep curls or overhead presses at the same time

3.  100 calf raises

I usually just do 100 in a row.  Again, you can break these up into sets; you’ll earn the same benefits.

  • Perform these holding weights OR simply with body weight

4.  100 abdominal crunches

  • see Diet, Exercise, or Act of God for easy details on how to do this!
  • Beginners, do the first set only.  Incorporate 2nd – 4th set as you progress.

THAT’S IT!!!

After this routine, you should feel like you got a pretty good run for your time.  These fare me well whenever I can’t go to the gym for whatever reason.  The best part is that they can be done anywhere, anytime.  Try them and let me know what you think.

Resources Every College-Bound Senior Needs

January 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Favorites

As a teacher of a senior writing course and as a mother of a college senior, I have particular interest and personal experience in college preparation.  Below is a collection of videos, sites and articles that I’ve used personally and in the classroom.  Share these and let me know what you think:

VIDEOS I SHOW MY SENIORS:

1.  William and Mary Admission Prompt:  Many students envision the admissions officers as formal, unapproachable, stuffy old souls.  This illustrates that they are, in fact, normal peeps just like them. (as recommended by @AndersonGL on Twitter)

“>The Social Media Revolution 2012 . . . underscores the importance of continually educating ourselves in today’s fast-paced technological society:

2.  ARTICLES AND SITES I SHARE WITH SENIORS:

 7 Prestigious Undergrad Scholarships:  Students should apply for these!!  I’m having my second semester students choose (at least) one.  The essay they create for the scholarship will be a graded assignment!

 NY Times – DeMystifying College Admissions and Aid:  The New York Times has a wonderful site devoted especially to college-bound students.  My seniors love exploring this!

 Going Beyond Cliché – How To Write a Great College Essay:  from that same NY Times site . . . another example of how practical the site is.

 Beloit College Mindlist List – These lists put it all in perspective, illustrating the cultural milestones that helped shape their lives thus far.

OTHER ITEMS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO SENIORS:

 The Joys of Attending College Far From Home:  For those wondering if they should attend out-of-state, one student perspective . . .

4.  VIDEO FROM USC STUDENTS:  What I Wish I Knew as a Freshmen . . . applicable advice for freshmen attending any university.


World’s Fastest Disappearing Dessert

Need a fast crowd pleaser??  Even the kitchen illiterate can master this one . . .

With 38 of us (including T.A.’s) in the English department, there’s always food in the office.  We celebrate birthdays and “half” birthdays (for those born in the summer) by taking turns bringing in a small spread usually consisting of cake and/or snacks or lunch.  A dear, close colleague is retiring this year and we requested to host each other’s birthdays since we won’t be able to again.  🙁  Her birthday is approaching and below is the cake she requested.  Every time I make this, this is gone by Period 3 of an 8-period day!!!

To satisfy 38 hungry intellectuals, I’ll be making this along with Crème de Menthe Brownies

and Chicken Sausage Pasta with Vodka Creme Sauce (ask me for this recipe!).

Notice a theme?!

Warning:  This is not an Eat Clean recipe!!!!!

Amoretto Cake


Cake:

  • 1 Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1 Instant Vanilla Pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/2 cup Amoretto
  • 1/2 cup Oil (I use Vegetable or Corn)
  • 4 eggs

Glaze:

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tbs. Orange Juice
  • 2 tbs. Amoretto

Mix the cake ingredients and place in a greased bundt pan.  Bake according to the cake mix directions.  While cake is baking, mix the glaze ingredients and set aside. Once the cake has cooled, pour on the glaze.  Voilà

This cake is so moist that some like it without the glaze as well.

. . . thank you to my dear Aunt Adelle for the recipe long ago.

Next Page »

`