Saturday, September 27, 2008

Con: High Shipping Prices

One of the worstest (I know it's not a word, but it's the weekend, okay) things about living in Shishmaref is the high shipping prices.

Whatever it costs to mail things to the Lower 48, the shipping rates invariably increase exponentially (I'm sure VFN's international readership can commiserate) when mailing to Alaska. Sigh..

Last week, or so, I did a little shopping in order to, literally, spice up some of my cooking adventures.


I was tired of using powdered garlic. I am a bona fide garlic lover, and the powdered stuff just didn't have the oomph I was looking for.


I also have an affinity for limes. I picked it up from my beautiful sister who spent six weeks in Mexico and Central America. She told me that the people she met squeezed limes on everything. (I tried it, and it turns out that Mexicans and Central Americans are right: food does taste better with a little lime!)

I spent entirely too much time on trying to find a place that 1)carried both minced garlic in water and lime juice, 2) wasn't some quote-unquote-gourmet-type-place-that-thinks-it-must-charge-seventy-five-times-the-market-value-in-order-to-appear-prestigious, and 3) shipped to Alaska. It's harder than you might think...

I was so thrilled when I found a store that fit those qualifications that I ordered right away. I was equally thrilled when the box arrived.


I didn't pay too much attention to the invoice until Steve pointed the total out to me.


Here's a closeup for those of you who missed it the first time. Yes, that's right $64.70. You'll also notice that the actual cooking supplies were only $3.99 and $5.49. THE OTHER $55.22 WAS FOR SHIPPING!!!

It turns out that the nice Amazon merchant did in fact ship to Alaska, but he/she charged over $25 an item to ship. Grrrrrr...

Now, gentle readers may be wondering why VFN agreed to such an outrageous price. Here's the truth: VFN didn't notice the shipping prices. VFN ordered a lot of other stuff on at the same time. When the editor-in-chief saw a big shipping number, she erroneously thought it was because she ordered lots of things.

Sigh... I think I'll go hang my head in shame.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to Survive: Trips to Town

Steve had to go into Nome this weekend. The reason he had to go had nothing to do with grocery shopping, but that was definitely a bonus.


I sent Steve with a list of groceries to bring home. I thought we should take advantage of an opportunity to buy things we can't get in Shishmaref.


I was so smitten with the beautiful bottles of vinegar that I had to take some wannabe artistic shots.


It's fun to play with pretty bottles.


Steve also made some of his own purchases. I was especially excited to see the cilantro (that's the green stuff on the left). Cilantro is our favorite herb.


Steve also picked up some plain yogurt. I've been dying to try some recipes with plain yogurt. I'm especially excited about the prospect of making my own cream cheese and sour cream.


Our new ingredients freshened up our fajitas. Fajitas make regular appearances at the VFN household. Not to brag, but we make the awesomest homemade tortillas. Our tortillas were joined by some equally awesome homemade salsa, which started out as the above pictured canned tomatoes. (I would have loved to use fresh tomatoes, but the tomatoes at our store were all moldy.)


Then I added beans, corn, and lime juice


Then I chopped the cilantro with my ulu. As you can tell, I got a little lazy with my chopping.


I added the cilantro and sealed the salsa in a tupperware dish. Then Steve reminded me that I forgot to add the white wine vinegar. (One of the reasons I wanted to make the salsa was because Steve brought home the white wine vinegar. Duh.) I sealed the tupperware again. Then I had to open it to add the fresh onions. Double duh. I put the tupperware in the fridge for the third time. Then I let it sit overnight so that the flavors could meld.


I also used cilantro to season the chicken for the fajitas.


This is how fajitas start Alston style. You always put the sour cream on the tortillas first.


Then you add the meat stuff.


If your husband went to Nome over the weekend, you add your delicious homemade salsa. The online recipe said that some people like to eat it with a fork straight out of the bowl. I thought those people were weird until I tried it. It is definitely worth eating with a fork. In fact, I may do exactly that after I finish this post. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Field Trip: Teller

This weekend I got to travel to the village of Teller for some training on using Google Earth in the classroom (stay tuned for some future Social Studies Rocks posts featuring this amazing program).

I thought I would take VFN readers on the grand tour.

Disclaimer: I was taking most of these photos in very bright sunlight. I also was feeling very lazy. As a result, most of these pictures are not exposed correctly. I know that. I just chose not to care. Thank you.


This is a view of Teller from the airplane. Teller is an Inupiaq village of about 300 people.


This is the Teller School. This is where the workshop was held. This is also where I spent the night.


Teller School sports a fairly typical playground...


and a fairly atypical school bus. I think they are the only school in our district with a bus. The village is split between two locations: New Site and Old Site. The school is in Old Site, and it's kind of far from the homes in New Site. So, the bus makes a couple of trips out to New Site every day.


Do I really need to mention that this is the Teller Lutheran Church? Probably not. Teller has a Lutheran Church and a Catholic Church. My friend Mary told me that the Catholic Church is more popular. The pastor of the Lutheran Church actually lives in the nearby village of Brevig Mission. He comes over to Teller every Saturday night and gets the church ready for the Sunday morning sermon.


Here's the National Guard station in Teller. If it's anything like the Shishmaref National Guard station, it's pretty empty most of the year.


Most villages have a community hall. Said halls are primarily used to play bingo.


The Teller clinic, in all it's glory.


Looks like something crazy happened on the walls of the clinic...


This was my favorite spot in Teller. A perfect place to sit and look out across the bay. And have a BBQ! I love Alaska.


Teller is connected to Nome by road. Lucky Teller. As a result, people from Teller spend a lot more time in Nome than the people from other villages because they don't have to pay ridiculous plane fares to get into town.


The Nome-Teller connection also means Teller is also home to lots of dead cars.


When cars (or vans) die, there's really no place for them to go.


So they just sit outside and wither away slowly. Future generations may refer to Teller as "The Place Primitive Vehicles Went to Die."


This is the view of the village from just outside of town.


This is what my feet looked like after I walked back into town.


This is a shot to prove that we really did spend time learning about geographic measurements and GPS programs. (Hey Federal Government! Thanks for the grant that made this possible!)


A view of Teller from the airport as we were leaving. I love the fall colors.

If anybody is interested in visiting Teller as a vacation destination, let me know. I will do my best to hook you up with four star accommodations, dining, and entertainment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Field Trip: Angie's Classroom!

VFN now brings you the views you've been dying to see: the insider's view to my classroom. For the convenience of my beloved readers, I annotated the photographs. I could have taken the time to make text boxes, but I thought the text boxes lost a lot of the "graffiti feel."


This is a photo of the outside of my portable.

1. I used to have a banister here. Some kids got a little too rough with it over the summer.

2. The vast expanse I have to cross daily to get to my classroom. It doesn't look intimidating now, but imagine it covered in four feet of snow.

3. Some towers behind me. I think they have something to do with providing electricity for our village.

4. Some random barrels. I think they used to hold oil.

5. The staircase that will be completely covered in snow before Christmas.


The Angie Board. It's right behind my desk.

1. Pictures from the senior trip Steve and I chaperoned (yes, I took a work trip to Hawaii; hate me if you must).

2. Wedding announcement and wedding candids. So my kids know what I looked like before I was an old married woman.

3. Caricature of me drawn in Hawaii. In case you can't tell, I'm wearing a cape, and the drawing is titled "Super Angie." How appropriate.

4. Interview with Dave Barry. I've read his column ever since I was in grade school. One of the biggest disappointments of my life (okay, I admit, I've had a very good life, but STILL) was when he stopped his weekly column. Luck for me, he re-emerges every four years to cover elections.

5. My pink water bottle. It goes everywhere.

6. Do I really need to tell you who this is? Do you really not recognize the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court? You must have had bad social studies teachers.


One of my hobbies is cutting up news magazines to make posters for my classroom. (It's okay. You can think it's lame. I've already come to grips with it.) This is my latest set of posters about the election.


Some of the cut up magazines also make it to my bureaus. This one highlighted the Olympics.

1. Cover photo of LeBron James. My students affectionately refer to him as "LeBrick."

2. The amazing Dara Torres. When I grow up I want to be like her. But I probably won't be.

3. Shawn Johnson. One of the boys in my last hour class is in love with her. He has a picture of her on his binder.


Behind the Olympians is my supply cupboard. The kids are supposed to stay out of it, but it's unbelievably attractive to their little fingers..

1. Filing supplies. I hate running out of them.

2. A rolled up poster of something. I didn't know where else to put it.

3. Binder clips. I have a compulsive need for them.


This is the paper and writing utensil cupboard.

1. My nifty paper holder that stores them according to color. It's new this year. I heart it.

2. Evidence of my failed attempts to teach my students organization. Each class period has a cupboard, but some of the kids insist on stashing their binders on top of my bureaus.

3. Smelly markers. Another item in my classroom I heart.

4. Paper scrap box.

5. Class set of grownup size scissors. I ordered them so that my kids would stop borrowing mine out of my desk.


I heart my smelly markers so much that they deserve a close up. I couldn't teach without them. They are a huge motivation to my kids.


This is the art cupboard. We use it for all sorts of fun hands-on projects.

1. Little plastic containers. They're like the containers for fry sauce (whoa, Idaho alert!). We use them for paint, beads, and spices.

2. Bubble wrap. I just saved it in case it came in handy.

3. Raffia. It just seemed like a good thing to have in an art cupboard.

4. Feathers and other random paraphernalia. They come in handy at the oddest times.


This cupboard belongs to two of my most lovable students. For three years I tried to help them organize their social studies binders. I begged. I pleaded. I stood over them while they put their papers in the right sections. It didn't work. Their binders were a disaster. They could never find anything.

Finally I gave them their own cupboard. Miraculously, they can find everything now. Works for me...


This is my teacher of the month poster. You may not be impressed that I was teacher of the month in a school with only sixteen teachers, but I'll have you know that there have only been three teachers of the month from Shishmaref School. I was the third. :)


My poster makes me feel better about myself when I look at my files. I made the mistake of ordering the cheapest metal frames out of the supply catalog. They didn't last a week.

1. My little magnet clippy men. I have about ten, but I can only ever find about four of them at a time. My male students like to hide them around the classroom attached to random metal surfaces.

2. It looks messy, but it's actually organized topically by World, U.S., and Alaska History.

3. Label left over from a Law and Order video we made during my first year in Shishmaref. I haven't bothered to remove it yet.


1. The most beautiful item in my classroom. I bought this chair at Sam's Club in Anchorage last year. It was only fifty bucks. It cost forty dollars to mail to Shishmaref. Best ninety dollars I've ever spent.

2. My Disney princess calendar.


The second most beautiful thing in my classroom: my princess desk. I couldn't bear to throw away last year's princess calendar, so I made it into a desk cover.


My boy students were extremely unimpressed with the princess desk. In order to appease them, I granted them (almost) complete control over one of the bureaus. It is called The Boy Cupboard.

1. Advertisement featuring Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. I have some diehard Kobe fans in my classes, and the advertisement has sparked intense feelings.

2. Another glaring advertisement of my failure to instill a sense of organization in my students.

Congratulations on making it all the way through the field trip. The classroom is actually quite bare right now. It will become slightly more alive looking after we create some things. I'll be sure to keep everybody posted.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Social Studies Rocks: Our Political Blog

I thought I'd take advantage of my status as supreme empress editor at VFN and put in a shameless plug for my Social Studies Class Blog.

My kiddos are evaluating election advertisements, speeches, propaganda, etc. They are very new to blogging, and they just made their first posts TODAY!

It would totally rock their world if they got some comments from far away places (pretty much everything is far away from Shishmaref...). So, do me a favor and stop by. Rack up their view count, ask them thought-provoking questions, watch the movies they embed. Feel free to also mention how outrageously outstanding their teacher is. :)