Excuses, excuses…

What I’ve been doing this week when I could’ve been blogging:

  1. sleeping in later than I should
  2. making copies
  3. “researching” pixie hair cuts on Pinterest
  4. online shopping
  5. organizing the closet… again.
  6. reading Dry by Augusten Burroughs
  7. watching Madam Secretary on Netflix
  8. snacking
  9. proctoring 9th grade benchmark tests
  10. happy hour with the neighbors

What’s for supper?

I wanted to share one of our favorite “recipes” with you. I have a hard time calling it a recipe. It’s so stinkin easy, I almost feel guilty. I love HAMBURGER HELPER as much as any American. I do not love the amount of junk in it.

Instead, I came up with another idea.


  • Wheat or veggie pasta… I generally cook 2ish cups. This is my favorite brand:






  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2-3 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese (My favorite to cook with is the light creamy swiss.)


  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 generous handful of mushrooms
  • seriously generous handfuls of leaf spinach (I always have a bag in the freezer… Best idea I’ve ever had.)
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Cook your ground turkey. If you need to, drain it. I try to buy lean and sometimes don’t have to drain it. Add in the mushrooms when it’s almost cooked.
  • Cook your pasta. If you’ve used veggie or wheat, know that it cooks faster than regular pasta.
  • Dump pasta into the skillet with the ground turkey and mushrooms. Add in your seasoning. (My house season that goes on almost everything is black pepper, cayenne, and onion pepper.)
  • Add Laughing Cow wedges. Use 2-3 depending on just how comforting you want this comfort food.
  • Add diced tomatoes. You can drain them if you prefer. Sometimes I do, but sometimes not.
  • Add spinach.
  • Cover for a few minutes. Until your spinach is pretty much wilty and shriveled and hidden.
  • Make sure to mush the Laughing Cow with the end of your rubber spatula. You don’t want to get a big bite of just cheese.
  • Now you’re done! Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if you want. Also, I sometimes put it under the broiler for a few minutes to get a nice crispy cheese layer on top.

This is our comfort food. After a long week like this one, there likely won’t be any leftovers.

Most importantly, respect the system.

5 Things I Want my Walmart Cashier/Bagger to Know…

  1. I can see that your job is most of the time very redundant, broken up by moments of nonsense drama from customers who don’t have their lives together. I respect you.
  2. I have my life together. If I seem annoyed, it is unlikely your fault. It is the fault of the customer in front of me… taking up my precious time, and yours.
  3. As you scan and bag, I would appreciate absolute discretion. I am a teacher in West Memphis. Everyone of my students is in this store at the exact moment I am. That bottle of wine, those new underpants, the giant TUB of cookie dough… scan fast, my friend. Bag faster. This is not a drill.
  4. I have looked at your name tag. I’d like to use your name in my greeting to you. I want to say the words, “How’s your day been, James/Jamal/Jose/Janet.” But unfortunately your name reads “Ja’Quishana,” and I am left bewildered. There’s a chance I’ll ask you to pronounce it. I love it when you are gracious about this.
  5. And most importantly, the order of the items placed on this conveyor belt is no accident. Respect the system. Bag accordingly.

The Real Lesson Plan


I just recently ran across an article titled “10 Things Every Graduating Student Needs to Know.” This inspired me to write my own Top 10 List-

What I want my students to know by the time they leave my class:

  1. Not knowing is okay, but not trying is unacceptable.
  2. Put some thought into the rest of your high school career. Most of our students are allowed to choose some college courses to begin during their 10th grade year- What an advantage!
  3. That said, if you decide to change you career decision, it’s not the end of the world. Decide on a dream and work toward it.
  4. Know who you can trust with the big decisions in your life.
  5. Listen to your gut- if someone doesn’t seem trustworthy, they probably aren’t. You are allowed to cut people out of your life.
  6. Be honest. You may hurt some feelings, but people will trust you and that matters.
  7. You won’t always win. Life is rarely fair. This does not mean that you are cursed, or unlucky. It means that there was a lesson you needed to learn. Learn from it and move on.
  8. Also, how you react to failure says SO much about who you are.
  9. I don’t like fantasy or supernatural books. I just recently started reading biographies. Find what YOU like to read. Read as much as possible. Historical fiction, comic books, dystopian novels, hunting magazines, engine manuals. The more you read, the more words you know. Words are powerful.
  10. You are not better than anyone else. You have a story, just as everyone else. Respect everyone’s story.

Food stuff.

My Sweetheart has recently been pressuring me to start writing a cookbook. He says that if everyone knew how easy it is to make good food like we do, more people would do it.

I tell him that what I do is not cookbook-worthy for 2 reasons: I cook nightly, but I generally use less than 5 ingredients. AND I don’t follow recipes because I don’t like being told what to do- How can I possibly write a recipe if I refuse to follow them myself?

All that said, we ate some awesome food this weekend.

I used my rice cooker for the first time since I got it this past Christmas. Silly me, I thought they could only cook rice.


This is the one I got- it’s Wolfgang Puck. Mine is teal. This one came with a whole bunch of recipes, which I’d have known if I’d opened it.

In true form, I ignored the recipes and made up my own:


1/2 c. brown rice

1/2 c. frozen black eyed peas (I imagine any bean would taste just as yummy)

1.25 c. water

Cayenne, onion powder, black pepper, pinch salt (Use whatever spices you have/normally cook with… I wanted a kick.)

WARM for 1 hr

COOK for 1 hr


And here are a couple other NOT rice cooker recipes:


3.5 lb Boston butt (on sale at Kroger a month ago)

1 large yellow onion

Rib rub (My Momma made ours, but there are a ton of great recipes on Pinterest… pick one that sounds scrumptious and go nuts.)

Shove the butt in the crock pot. Careful… this is potentially messy.

Generously sprinkle with rib rub.

Cut onion into chunks and layer on top of the butt. This doesn’t have to be pretty, especially if your Sweetheart hates onion as much as mine does and you’re gonna make it disappear before supper time 😉

Cook on HIGH for 1-2 hours.

Cook on LOW for 4 hours.

Pull apart with 2 forks. (Set some broth aside for the greyhound.)

Eat as is, OR put some bbq sauce on it for sandwiches. OR put it over rice with black beans and mango salsa (my personal fave).



Cut red potatoes into uniform wedges. I used 5 medium sized ones so that we’d have some leftovers this week.

Dump the potatoes in a bowl with olive oil and seasoning.  I used black pepper, Italian season, and cayenne.

(I let these marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours before cooking.)

PREHEAT the oven to 350ish.

Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil. Spread the potato wedges out evenly.

BAKE for 45 minutes ish.

Take potatoes out, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

BROIL for 4 minutes, or until the cheese starts to crisp a bit.

I hope that these recipes inspire you to ignore them and make up your own awesome supper ideas. Share them here- I’m always looking for inspiration!



Adulting is hard.

A couple weeks ago, I heard a quote that changed my life a little bit.

“Growing up sucks because you realize $1000 isn’t a lot of money.”

I hate how true this is. I used to have $50 issues. The occasional $100 issue. Groceries, new clothes, dinners out… these were my biggest expenses. Momma and Dad took care of all the other issues in my life. (Truth be told, they still take care of WAY more than the average awesome parents.)

Recently, in addition to rent, and electricity, and groceries… I’ve acquired a new car. I wanted to tell the salesman while I was signing ALL of the documents, “Hey, dude, I’m really not mature enough for this.” I mean really, what made him think I could handle any of it?

ALSO, it seems like EVERYONE has been nonstop inviting me to every happy occasion. Weddings, birthdays, new babies, showers of every kind. I am honored to be thought of. This is not me complaining. I LOVE being a part of peoples’ celebrations. And I love the opportunity to give a gift that is simultaneously sentimental and useful.

Thank God for Amazon, is all I have to say. Without this magic wonderland, there’s no way I’d be able to find acceptable gifts without traveling out of West Memphis… WalMart can only do so much. AND without decimating the bank account.

I am blessed enough to have a job and be able to HAVE all of these things, all of these friends to celebrate with… to then turn around and complain about them.


Forever learning… (1/28)

Yesterday, my Principal taught a mini lesson to my students while I was in a very short meeting with a parent. I didn’t ask him to, he just had an idea that would keep them engaged, and perhaps teach them something they didn’t already know. I was outside the classroom for maybe 3 minutes. When I walked in, he was at the board, adding numbers to a ruler he’d drawn. The students’ eyes were all on him.

One student told me after he left, “Miss Carlson, I finally understand! I wouldn’t have failed my ruler test if he’d taught me!”

The lesson was a bit off topic, as we are in the middle of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Regardless, I was very thankful for his time. I very much enjoyed watching him teach.

My Lit Coach has been teaching my 1st period English class for a couple of months now. Last 9 weeks, our 9th grade students listened to the Serial podcast. This semester we are reading Romeo and Juliet. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to watch another teacher in action. We teachers so rarely have this opportunity. We are loners for the most part. We have endless time to discuss what has occurred in our classrooms after the fact, but it is not often that we can witness the lessons personally. I do not take all of the lessons directly from this 1st period class. My other 9th graders often are assigned other activities.

I say all this to say that is a blessing to me to see the strategies that other teachers use to teach and talk to our students.