Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dance party all night!

OK... not exactly all night, but... WAY past my bedtime! What, you may ask, would persuade Katie 'Grandma' Norwood to stay out until 11:3o on a school night... a MONDAY? None other than So You Think You Can Dance!!! This week, I went to see the SYTYCD tour with some of my very good friends and fellow dance aficionados from YES. We've been looking forward to this show for the last three months. We made sure to get tickets early since last year they sold out before we could buy them! The show did not disappoint. We certainly got our money's worth. They started dancing at 7:30 and didn't stop until 10:30!! Here are the highlights. We almost did some embarrassingly bad dance moves for this picture, but decided against it. I'm pretty sure that everyone there was a better dancer than us.
Here's the top ten! It was so fun to see them in person. I was like a giddy ten year old girl, screaming for my favorites. Just in case you wanted to know, my favorites are Brandon, Kayla, Randi, Janette, Evan, and Phillip. Phillip was technically not in the top 10, but luckily, they let him go on tour. He is amazing!!!
The very first dance was possibly my favorite of last season - Brandon & Janette's disco. This dance is so fun to watch. If it doesn't make you want to dance, nothing will. They literally did every good dance from last season. It was amazing performance after amazing performance. Pictured below is the disco, the "cat burglar" dance, Randi and Evan's "butt dance", the amazing Bollywood dance, and of course, the very touching breast cancer dance by Melissa and Ade. I had a ridiculous smile on my face the entire time. It was just really, really fun to see all of the dances in person. The only downside was the MC work. It was painfully bad. The dancers came out two at a time and introduced each dance with horribly cheesy intros. It was seriously like a middle school talent show gone wrong. They also shamelessly promoted their merchandise by wearing different items of SYTYCD clothing each time they came on stage. They also shamelessly promoted their SYTYCD fitness videos. But I was able to look past those painful moments and enjoy the dancing.
Warning: I'm about to wax poetic about dancing.

I love shows like SYTYCD because I love to see people living their dreams. I think everyone has a desire to be the best at something, and everyone has this dream that they think might never come true. I get kind of overwhelmed and choked up when I get to see someone live their dream. I've mentioned this before on the blog, in relation to my other obsession - American Idol. I just feel so genuinely happy for them. I cry happy tears for them that they get to dance or sing up on that stage and go on tour and be on TV, when months ago, they were unknowns. That kind of stuff gives me chills. I love to hear their stories and just celebrate with them that their wildest dreams have come true.
I feel like a lot of my dreams have come true, and I pretty much live the best life anyone could ever ask for. However, if I could be anyone for a day or a week or a month, I would want to live the life of a performer. It looks like so freaking much fun to be up there dancing. I've always been obsessed with the "behind the scenes" life of a performer. I want to know what it feels like to be a ballet dancer or a Broadway singer. I think I would like it... for a little while. But... since that's not going to happen anytime soon (or ever), I'll stick to living vicariously through reality TV. The next season of SYTYCD is already underway!!! Bring it on!!!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it...

Reason #128 why I love my job:

It's Homecoming Week, and today was 80's day. We were allowed, even encouraged to dress this way to teach the children. It was a surprise for the kids - they didn't know teachers were dressing up. They were sitting on the gym floor for our daily morning meeting when the teachers came dancing in to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go". Do I seriously get paid for this?


Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's The Great Pumpkin

It's that wonderful window of the year where it is acceptable, even encouraged, to cook with pumpkin.

I have a few favorites that I made this week: Pumpkin Pasta and Pumpkin Muffins.

This pumpkin pasta is from Everyday with Rachael Ray. It's called Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta. It's called that because it's supposed to be cheap to make. But then I went and added grilled shrimp, so it's not cheap, but it's delicious! The pumpkin sauce is really easy to make, and then I add a few grilled shrimp and fresh sage to finish it off. Yum!
1 pound whole wheat penne rigate
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 cups chicken broth
One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg Pepper
7 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, to pass around the table

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
2. While the pasta is working, in a medium skillet, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin and cream. Add the hot sauce, cinnamon and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage.
3. Toss the pasta with the sauce and pass the parmigiano-reggiano around the table.

If you buy a big can of pumpkin, you'll only use half for the pasta. Then you can use the other half to make these delicious pumpkin muffins. They are also super easy to make. I'm not the best at baking, but these came out beautifully. They are from Cooking Light, so that means you can have like 3 at a time. :-)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in raisins; make a well in center of mixture.
3. Combine brown sugar, canned pumpkin, buttermilk, canola oil, molasses, vanilla extract, and eggs, stirring well with a whisk. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.
4. Spoon batter into 18 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

And to end the post, here is the REAL pumpkin muffin at our house. Here he is in his Halloween costume from last year.

"Pumpkin muffins? Where? I want some."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Welcome Fall!

Now that fall has arrived (technically, at least... forget that it's 90 degrees in Houston), I decided that the Norwood Nest should reflect the change in seasons. I love fall - the cooler temperature, homey food, and looking forward to all the best holidays. Please note that I'm not decorating for Halloween, as this is an important distinction to make. I'm not a big fan of Halloween. You won't find any dancing skeletons on my front door, paper ghosts hanging from my trees, or witch hand candy dishes on my counter. (I do apologize to those of you who I just offended.) Anyway, I perused a few blogs to get some fall decorating ideas, and I came up with some things that I'm really enjoying! It is nice to come home to my fall-ish house with my Woodwick candle burning every night. Yay, home. See what you think!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Salty Sweet Goodness

Now that we live in Humble, we live right next to a Wal-Mart. I've always been more of a Target kind of girl, but I've learned to shop at Wal-Mart when necessary. On a recent shopping trip, I found a wonderful little gourmet gem amongst the 40 lb. logs of ground beef and frozen taquitos. I found the BEST ICE CREAM IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. This claim has been independently verified by my husband who agrees that the ice cream is indeed the best in the entire world.

May I introduce... Haagen Dazs "Reserve" Fleur de Sel Caramel ice cream. This is a salty ice cream. Sounds weird, but suspend your disbelief because it is ridiculously delicious. Imagine a creamy caramel ice cream with a hint of saltiness in the actual ice cream. It's salty enough that you can absolutely taste the salt, but it's not overwhelming. There is a caramel ribbon running through the ice cream with even more salt that just makes the caramel flavor come to life. It is intensely delicious. Then, as if that wasn't enough, there are itty bitty chocolate covered caramel candies throughout the ice cream. Like three per spoonful. The caramels are not frozen. They are perfectly soft. It's like a miracle.

This ice cream only comes in the small pint packages, and that's probably a good thing. I eat one small scoop a day in a small ramekin dish, and it is just perfect. You really don't need more than that.

I HIGHLY recommend you pick some up on your next grocery shopping trip. You may or may not want to hide it from your husband. Because now I have to buy twice as much. Just get past your fear of salty ice cream and try it. You will be glad you did. And if you don't like it, more for me! It is "reserve" which makes me nervous that it's a limited edition and won't be around forever. Enjoy it while you can, people!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

For Salsa

I have been wanting to post about my sister for a while now, so I thought this would be a good opportunity. Julia is very sick right now. She has been sick for more than two weeks with a mystery illness that it took five infectious disease doctors a week to diagnose. She thought she had malaria, but as it turns out, she has a very rare bacterial infection called brucellosis. Apparently she got it five months ago when she went to Peru, but the symptoms are just now showing up. She's now on antibiotics that should kill the bacteria and make her feel better soon, but right now she is completely miserable. She has a fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash. Please pray that she will feel better very soon.

If you don't know my sister, I'm sorry. You're missing out. She is basically a genius. Graduated valedictorian from our high school and with a 4.0 from A&M in biology. Yep. You heard right. Now, at the ripe old age of 25, she is getting her PhD from the University of Virginia. In pharmacology. I don't even know what that word means. Before too long, she will be Dr. Lemmon. She's involved in her church, works in a lab, mentors high school girls, etc, etc, etc. She's basically amazing. So it saddens me that she is sick and she is halfway across the country. Poor salsa. So this post is for you, salsa, to cheer you up.

When my sister and I were kids, we used to do lots of random and totally bizarre things. Luckily, many of these random things were captured on film, and just as luckily, many of them were NOT. But, in the spirit of self deprication and for a few laughs, I thought I'd go over just a few memories that have a photo record.

When we were little, my mom used to tutor in the afternoons. We were left to our own devices in the playroom. We had a little TV in there and we would watch the daily afternoon line up: Beverly Hillbillies, I Dream of Jeannie, Gomer Pyle USMC, and The Munsters. If we weren't watching TV, I was making Julia play school and do worksheets. Or Julia would make me play policeman and lock me up in handcuffs under the table. One time I remember trying to make a playground in our play room. I'm pretty sure mom didn't know that we took her wooden chairs, laid them on the ground, and rocked back and forth on them as "see-saws" or slid down the backs as "slides". We also spent days trying to figure out how to hang something from the ceiling to make a "swing". Epic fail.

Captured below is when I was going through my "let's play doctor" phase, and apparently Julia needed some treatment.
This might be my favorite picture of all time. Picture the scene: It's my birthday. We're dressed alike for some reason. I got a jewelry box that played music and had a little bunny that spun around. Julia wanted to play with the jewelry box. I'm pretty sure you can infer the remainder of the scene.

We were always bored on Sundays. When we got home from church, we usually did random things. Here, we decided to "embellish" our panty hose.

We spent approximately 70% of our childhood at Grammy's house. Here, we tried to MAKE dresses out of old fabric Grammy had laying around. Not sure if we were going for the "Little House on the Prairie" look, but we succeeded. We didn't know how to sew, so we actually STAPLED the fabric together to fashion a dress-like garment.

Did I mention that there wasn't quite enough fabric? We made do.

OK, this one isn't funny, but this is us looking cute on Pi Phi bid day. If they only knew what we were really like, they might never have let us in!! Too late now!!!

I love you, salsa, and I hope you feel better soon!


Thursday, October 1, 2009


Ask any of my college roommates. Every day, after class, meetings, and studying, I'd walk into 1604-E Holleman and say, "Today was the best day EVER!" I think they eventually got annoyed with my Pollyanna-like entrances, but there was just something about college life that brought me a deep, soul satisfying joy. I wasn't lying either... it truly seemed as if every day was better than the last. Since then, life has gotten a little more routine, a little harder, and sometimes (sigh) I have a little less soul satisfying joy. Part of me still craves that College Station feeling. College Station is a magical place where I am the person I am meant to be.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I had the good fortune to spend 24 blissful hours in College Station. My school asked me and two of my Aggie teacher friends to go to A&M to recruit some kick-a Aggies to teach the best kids in Houston. It was, in the truest sense, the BEST.DAY.EVER. Here's why:

We arrived in College Station around dinnertime on Tuesday. As usual, God met me at the intersection of Texas Avenue and Highway 6. I know - God is everywhere, but his presence in College Station is supernaturally palpable. I feel closer to him when I cross into that town. My teacher friend Rachael and I checked into our hotel and went straight to La Bodega. We sat on the patio and ate chipotle chicken burritos (which tasted exactly the same as I remembered!) It felt like old times, eating and chatting with friends. After La Bodega, we headed over to Reed Arena for Breakaway. Breakaway changed my life in college. It drew me closer to the Lord. I have not been to Breakaway in more than five years, so I was CRAVING it.

As we drove up to Reed, we exchanged disappointed glances. The arena was dark and there were like six cars in the parking lot. Never fear, a quick click on the iPhone let us know that Breakaway was at KYLE FIELD! We started walking that way along with DROVES of college students, all carrying their bibles. It was like the crowd flooding into a football game, but it was a crowd flooding in to praise Jesus. As we filed inside, we filled up the entire first two decks of the alumni side. It was an amazing experience to praise God at Kyle Field. The music was loud enough to be heard all over campus, and there were even people peeking out of the windows at the Bright Center to see what was going on. My heart was filled with so much gratitude and awe. Where else but A&M would students fill a stadium to worship on a Tuesday night? The worship and message were both amazing. At the end, we sang the Doxology with no music, for everyone on campus to hear. Praise God for the favor he has shown A&M. I was filled with joy for the things he is doing there, and to be a part of it for just one night was a dream.

The next day, we had the honor of recruiting at the Mays Business School Career Fair. Many of you know my story, but I was a marketing major at Mays when I decided in my senior year that I wanted to be a teacher. Although I would never give back my business degree, I have found satisfaction and success in teaching, and I want other business majors to know that teaching is an option! We arrived at the fair and set up our booth among accounting firms, retail stores, manufacturers, and computer programming companies, which was a somewhat out-of-body experience. I was just there five years ago!

We thought we were going to have a pretty slow day... convincing people to consider teaching and explaining to people why we were even there. We expected to be sitting down most of the day. The reality of our day was quite the opposite. Praise God for going before us and laying the foundation for so many students to be receptive to our message. We were BLOWN AWAY by the enthusiastic, genuine interest in teaching and specifically in YES. The three of us were talking the ENTIRE day. I think I sat down for like 30 seconds from 9:00 - 4:00. At most points, all three of us were talking to different students, and there were people actually waiting in line to talk to us. Can you believe it? All of these students were so hungry for something else. They felt that a business job would not fulfill them and were so grateful to know that an opportunity like YES existed. People with 4.0s in Accounting, Finance, and Marketing were interested in becoming teachers. The heart and drive of those A&M students humbled and overwhelmed me. At one point, after having a conversation where the girl wanted to hug me at the end, I just broke down and cried at our little booth as I put her resume in the folder. I couldn't believe that God was so faithful and so present. It was an amazing day. Our goal was to talk to 3o people. By the end, we got over 50 resumes and met about 6 people that we wanted to hire on the spot. It was incredibly successful, and it brought a whole new satisfaction to my career. Instead of helping kids that day, I got to help adults by letting them know about rewarding options options for their careers.

It was fantastic, and I went back to school today totally refreshed and ready to teach another day!


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