A Look Back at Year One

Last year, as I spoke to my very own students for the very first time, I was terrified. As I stood in front of my very first class, a million questions ran through my head, including: What if they hate me? What if they don't listen to me? What if I can't teach them anything? What if we can't connect? What if I fail
And now, just under a year later, I can answer these with assurance: Some of them will hate me. Some of them won't listen to me. Some of them don't want to learn anything (but they will). Some of them won't connect with me. Sometimes I will fail. But, through all of that, will be success. And this, more than anything else I think, is what my first year has been about for me - learning again and again that each day is a new chance to make connections and build relationships and teach my students. Each day is a new chance to make success

Some days more than others, which was a harder lesson to learn, as I certainly had my fair share of failures. My biggest weakness was classroom management and I had some tough kids this year - students that made me cry (never in front of them!), students who told me to go to hell (and worse) and a student or two that walked out of the classroom on me. At times, not having my own classroom proved to be a challenge even for my uber organized self and running from room to room for 6 different classes was not without its challenges. And of course, teaching a world history course as an American history major did not come without a learning curve and many nights and weekends were spent teaching myself so that I could teach my students.

With each of these failures, however, I found success, and when I couldn't find success, I made it. I learned not to take everything a student says personally, I learned not to rise to meet their anger level (yelling at a student down the hallway is never productive) and I learned that a quick stop in the guidance office can prove to be a lot more helpful for a student than a trip to the dean. I learned that teaching means thinking on your feet and that there's nothing like a solid back-up plan to save the day. And I learned that the learning curve gave me the advantage of being in my students' shoes - ready for their questions and misconceptions - and more prepared than I would have been otherwise.

Photo Taken by Julio Chuy in January 2014 for a Northeastern CPS Project
In my pre-first day blog post last September, I wrote: 'I feel so blessed to be working at my dream job ... and to be embarking on this incredible journey. For the first time in my life, I am waking up to do something I love - and to do it as my career. [...] I never stopped believing in myself, and I never stopped believing that teaching is what I am meant to do.'

This rang true last year and today, as I'm spending the majority of my free time this summer planning and preparing for my second year, it rings true ever more so right this moment. My first year of teaching taught me many things, but it also confirmed that teaching is not just a job for me - it is truly my passion and it has never been more clear to me that I am meant to be in the classroom. Second year, here I come!

Under The Tuscan Sun {Wedding Wednesday}

Tuscany officially marked the halfway point of our honeymoon - and the most relaxing and adventure-filled part of our trip! We spent 3 nights and about 3 and a half days wandering the Tuscan hillsides and enjoying everything the countryside had to offer. We stayed in Cortona - the town made famous by Frances Mayer's Under the Tuscan Sun - and it did not disappoint! As with the other posts, get ready for a photo-filled recap!

Massimo the Fiat!
Our first view of Cortona!
Our private cottage at the Villa di Piazzano!
Garden at the Villa
Josh with Massimo!
Wandering around Cortona our first night!
Tuesday in Tuscany! Heading to Siena!
Walking around Siena
View from the top of the Duomo in Siena
La Bucaccia - Michelin rated restaurant in Cortona and beyond delicious!
Tasting to start dinner
Boar and Pappardelle Pasta
Heading to the beach in Rimini on Wednesday!
The Adriatic!
And we're in!
Newlyweds on the coast!
We can go back to the hotel, or... we can go to the Republic of San Marino!
City on a hill!
View from the top of San Marino
Gorgeous homes!
Driving home from the coast - thank God for Josh's ability to drive through the Apennines behind big scary trucks!
After picking up the car on Monday morning, we headed through Tuscany to Cortona. After checking in, and unpacking in our private cottage, we headed into Cortona to walk around and then back to the villa for a quick swim and then a delicious dinner. On Tuesday, after a beautiful and delicious breakfast on the patio, we drove over to Siena to walk around and explore - we saw the square where the Palio is held and walked to the top of the unfinished Duomo wall (and escaped getting a parking ticket!) - before heading to Montepulciano where we walked around, tasted wine and enjoyed some delicious gelato. We headed back to Cortona in the evening and enjoyed an incredible dinner at La Bucaccia. It is considered the best restaurant in Cortona and it was so amazing. We sat outside overlooking the hillside and enjoyed the romantic atmosphere. On Wednesday we enjoyed another breakfast and then headed out on a mini-road trip to the coast! Rimini, 2 and a half hours away, was our destination for the day! We put our feet in the Adriatic, had lunch and then decided to make a stop in San Marino.

The Republic of San Marino is a small republic within Italy and we drove up to its capitol, also called San Marino. The views from the top were breathtaking and I am so happy that we made the detour to have an extra adventure! We got back on Wednesday evening and were so exhausted that we had dinner at the hotel again - another incredible meal from the chef at the villa. Finally, on Thursday, we enjoyed one last breakfast under the Tuscan sun, and then checked out of the villa and headed to Rome!

Tuscany will always have a place in my heart as the adventure part of our honeymoon. Renting the car and roadtripping was perfectly us and such an amazing way to start the second half of our honeymoon. We're definitely looking forward to a trip back to Tuscany one day, and getting to spend even more time exploring the countryside! Make sure to check back next week for the final honeymoon recap - our adventure in Roma!

P.S. Today I'm linking up with Belle in Boots and Little Bit of Class, Little Bit of Sass for Wedding Wednesday!

Scallop Trio with Parsnip & Chive Puree

I've been feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen lately and I feel as though I am constantly making the same meal over and over again. Meat in sauce or meat in pasta with sauce. And since it's been so hot outside, the last thing I've wanted to do is make our apartment 10 degrees hotter with our terrible stove that often makes our smoke alarm go off. And yes, that's about as much fun as you can imagine.

But, the other day my friend Jess asked me if I watch Masterchef - which I did not - and she told me it was great and I would love it and I that I should watch it. So I did. Season 5 is currently on demand, and I curled up on my couch last week and watched the first 10 or 11 episodes in two days. I was riveted, and more importantly, I was inspired. And so, after watching some of the contestants make a parsnip puree, I went to Wegman's with inspiration that turned into a scallop trio with parsnip and chive puree. And it was good. Really good. And so, of course, I have to share it with you!

For the parsnip and chive puree for 2 people, you need the following:

1 - 2 parsnips ( I used one really large one and one kinda small one)
1/2 of a lemon, juice only
2 tablespoons chives, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper

For the scallops for 2 people, you will need the following:

6 scallops
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 of a lemon, juice only, for garnish

First, begin making the parsnip and chive puree and by peeling the parsnips, chopping them into thick 1-inch pieces and cutting each of those in half. Then, place them into a pot of water and bring it to a boil.

While the parsnips are boiling, prepare your chives by chopping them and separating each tablespoon.

Once your parsnips are done cooking - you can easily tell by whether or not a spoon can easily slice it in half - after about 10-12 minutes of boiling, remove them from the boiling water and drain them.

To the food processor, add the parsnips, 1 tablespoon of chives, lemon juice, butter and salt and pepper. Pulse until well blended and pureed. Then let sit until scallops are cooked.

Place a pan over medium-high heat and add tablespoon of olive oil. Then, season the scallops with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to high and add them to the pan, cooking 1-2 minutes on each side.

Place the scallops over the parsnip and chive puree on a small plate, add three scallops to each plate and garnish with tablespoon of chives and remaining 1/2 lemon juice. 

And enjoy! This dish is fresh and summery and a perfect accompaniment to almost any meal! Have you been cooking with scallops this summer? Pureeing anything delicious? I'd love to hear about it!

Florence: Birthplace of the Renaissance {Wedding Wednesday}

The second part of our trip - Italia! - kicked off in the beautiful city of Florence. Neither Josh nor I had ever been to Florence and we quickly fell in love with it. We were only there for 3 nights and 2 days, but we fit a lot in during those few days. Like my last honeymoon update, this post is going to be filled with photos (you can scroll down for the recap of our time in Florence) - enjoy!

The view from our hotel terrace on our first night in Florence!
Walking to dinner in the piazza! 
Josh's first (but certainly not last) marinara pizza!
Adorable restaurant - and such delicious food!
Pre-Saturday Out Selfie!
My sexy husband as we waited to climb the Duomo
On top of the Duomo!
Ponte Vecchio - just a block from our hotel and as beautiful as we imagined!
Ponte Vecchio pictures! 
One of my favorite pictures of us from the trip - headed to stroll around Florence before dinner!
Lobster Spaghetti - Josh's favorite meal of the trip!
Our mark left at Gusta Pizza
Selfies with David!
Rooftop drinks before heading to dinner on Sunday night
Massimo! Our Italian chariot for our time in Tuscany!
We arrived on Friday night after a flight on Vueling airlines from Orly to the Florence airport. Other than the plane being much smaller - and therefore noisier - than I'd prefer, we had a wonderful flight. After checking into the hotel around 9:45, we had a late dinner before calling it a night. On Saturday we climbed to the top of the Duomo, had gelato (twice!), sweated through the Uffizi, went shopping, and enjoyed Josh's favorite honeymoon meal. On Sunday, we slept in, enjoyed the best pizza in Florence, waited in a long line - and met the nicest people back with their family after their honeymoon 18 years before - to see the David (it was worth it!) and enjoyed a quiet dinner and evening. Then, on Monday morning, we picked up our rental car and headed into the hills of Tuscany! 

Tuscany was such a beautiful city and we loved all of the history and all of the art - but most of all, we loved the food! From delicious carpaccio to fresh pasta and pizza, we couldn't get enough of it! We enjoyed warm weather and began our stretch of 10 days of gelato and drank granitas and delicious wine. We loved exploring the Florentine streets and discovering the history that lay around each corner.

Have you been to Florence? What was your favorite part? I'd love to hear all about it!

P.S. I'm linking up with 2 different blogs today - Belle in Boots and Little Bit of Class, Little Bit of Sass - for Wedding Wednesday!
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