Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Spirit Arrives in Vegas

It took me a little longer than usual to find my Christmas spirit, but it finally came in full blast this week. My third annual Christmas party has an official date, I'm planning a Christmas elf workshop for my kids, and the apartment looks like Christmas! A special Christmas shout out to Jordan, who dragged me out of my classroom on Monday so we could buy a tree. Thanks Jordan!

I wrapped a bunch of empty boxes and a can of green beans so it would look like we have presents. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Drake's Devotional

So I had this idea months ago, before my blog, to do little devotionals as a way to share my testimony and what I'm learning about the gospel. Funny that I should finally make the idea a reality during the busiest time of my life. Here you go. Take 3-4 minutes out of your day for Drake's Devotional. You'll feel better. :)

Hymn: Scatter Sunshine #230 (click to get the music)

Thought: Sister Beck
To manage her time, she divides priorities into three categories—“must do,” “should do,” and “nice to do.” Personal prayer, scripture study, temple attendance, and family are on her “must do” list. “I don’t know of a woman who doesn’t have more to do than she can do,” she says, but prioritizing “eliminates guilt. I’m surprised at how many ‘nice to do’ things I can get done.”

Prayer: You

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Room 25

So last week I got into my classroom for the first time. Room 25 at Gragson Elementary! I was so excited. Then I started getting into the nitty-gritty, and I got scared. There was so much to do! Clean desks and walls, arrange tables, put up posters, get supplies, organize folders, lesson plan! I was very overwhelmed. I am fortunate to have a great school team, and the other teachers have been so giving of not only their time and ideas, but even their extra stuff.

Then the greatest blessing. My family, sensing my stress and overwhelmedness, decided to help, and drove all the way from South Jordan to come help in my classroom. We spent all day Saturday getting stuff ready so that I can feel ready to go on Monday. I am so incredibly grateful to them, I cannot describe it. Thank you family!

A Day In Provo, A Day in SoJo, a Day in Zion

Right after the last day of TFA training, I decided to spontaneous road trip up to Utah to see friends and family. It was exactly what I needed, and so refreshing. It felt so good to be back among the people I love and adore so completely. Ah, I get sad and happy chills even now just thinking about it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

4th Grade!

Three weeks into institute, the Las Vegas Valley TFA staff came out to LA to meet with the Las Vegas corps. At induction, we had been told not to expect our placement until the second week of August. Well, on this night they handed out these packets and had us all open them at the same time, because it held sensitive information regarding our placements. It felt almost like opening a mission call. I pulled out the first sheet and read, "Congratulations Drake! You are assigned to teach 4th grade. You will be teaching at Gragson Elementary School."

4th grade! I'm so happy. I couldn't have picked it better myself. That's exactly what I wanted. I don't even know my kids yet, but I already love them, and I can't wait to meet them on the first day of school.

TFA Institute 2010

Wow. Talk about a whirlwind two months! I don't know that I've ever been so busy, so overwhelmed, and so excited in my life. Let me try and get you all up-to-date.

So at the end of June I packed up my life in Provo and drove down to Vegas. I was there for a week of training called induction. 50 other recent college grads from around the country joined me in Vegas, and together we made up the 2010 Las Vegas Valley Teach For America Corps. I was amazed at how quickly and completely we formed a community. In just 5 days, we all bonded together and became really good friends. We learned about the achievement gap in Nevada, and what our role would be as leaders in the movement to end educational inequality.

In what seemed like a blink, we were off to institute--the TFA teacher training boot camp in Los Angeles. Over 200 corps members from Las Vegas, LA, the Bay area, and Kansas City all came together for the most intense 5 weeks of our lives. I pulled into Loyola Marymount University on a Saturday afternoon, and got my assignment letter: Stevenson Middle School, 8th Grade English Language Arts. I was ecstatic. I get to be a teacher!

At Institute, every corps member gets a chance to teach in a real summer school classroom. We share the classroom with our collaborative, 4 teachers total that split up the two periods.

Here's a typical day at institute.
5:30am Wake up, stuff backpack with student work, and run off to breakfast
6:35am Bus for Stevenson Middle School leaves
7:30am Campus morning meeting
8:00am Summer School starts, all four teachers work together in the classroom
8:40am one of a variety of teacher training sessions
10:30am my 8th graders arrive in their second period
11:45am My Lead Teach Time! I'm in front of the classroom teaching my kids how to find theme
12:30pm School's Out!
1:00pm More, more, more sessions
4:30pm Bus leaves Stevenson
5:15pm Grab some dinner at the dining hall
6:00pm Start lesson planning for the next day, and for the next week, making handouts, posters, scripting out what you will say, making management plans, etc
11:00pm - 1:00am Get to bed at some insane hour just to do it all again tomorrow :)

It was intense, difficult, and trying work. There were days when I didn't know if I could do it. Planning how to teach writing to my kids is trickier than it sounds. Yet seeing their results on the final writing assessment made it all worth it. When a student who wrote two sentences on their diagnostic essay goes on four weeks later to write a well-composed four paragraph essay, that is a great feeling.

Mr. Allsop and Ms. Talbot waiting for the bus on a Friday afternoon

My co-teacher Ms. Alberti in our classroom, Room 21

So before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to my kids at Stevenson, and back in Las Vegas. I got back on August 1, and starting looking for a place to live. We got back on Sunday, then on Tuesday we started full-day sessions again to get us ready for the first day of school. We worked on our big goals, long-term plans, unit assessments, unit plans, and more. I have a whole new respect for teachers--there is so much to do, know, and plan! State standards, writing tests, setting goals, picking a theme, preparing a classroom, meeting parents and students, managing behavior, etc, etc, etc! Again, it's been hard work, and I don't have it all figured out, but I'm confident that I will. My roommate Jordan and I found a place to live, I've been hired by Clark County School District, and, ready or not, I'm a teacher!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Zion in May

The second week of May I took a day excursion with several friends to Zion National Park. I love, love, love southern Utah! It was a beautiful day, and a great time.

Angel's Landing

Simple & Delicious

So while I love to cook and bake, I've never really been one for recipe books. I already have a ton of recipes from my mother, and I get more from online. That said, I was at a friend's house when I saw this little Taste of Home recipe book, so I started flipping through it, and I kept saying to myself, "I'd make that," "Oh, I'd make that", "Oh, I'd definitely make that, right now!" I was so impressed I vowed right then to buy it--my very first cookbook.

Here are a few of my first adventures. My pictures don't look quite like they do in the book, but they still look delicious!

Very Berry Pie
Cream Cheese Scrambled Eggs
French Toast Supreme

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Wordle of Drake's Pensieve

Wordle is a toy for generating "word clouds" from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I Graduated!

On Thursday, April 22, 2010, Drake Allsop became a college graduate!

BS Management, Strategy Emphasis
Portuguese Minor
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Me and my cousin Juliann.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Such Handymen

Tonight I had another Portuguese/Brazilian party with some friends, enjoying good ol' authentic food and dessert. On the way back, we dropped my friend Grant off at his car, but he flagged us down before we could drive off, because he'd locked his keys in the car. He didn't have a spare key, so he tried calling the police, but with little luck.

Meanwhile, my other friend Ken and I took matters into our own hands. I walked into Dillards and asked for a wire hanger, and Ken rummaged around in his truck to find some other potential tools. The driver's side window was open just a crack, so Ken fashioned a circle on the end of the wire hanger, pushed it through the crack, and maneuvered it into position over the lock. Then I reached in with another plastic hanger to push the wire hanger onto the lock. Miracle of miracles, when Ken pulled up with the wire hanger, the door unlocked! I couldn't stop laughing! It actually worked! Ken and I high-fived each other. We are such handymen!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Salad

Does it get better than this? Beautiful day, wonderful weather, and delicious food. Thank you, Mom!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Feijoada & Mousse de Maracujá

Recently I tried my hand at a full-blown Brazilian dish: feijoada. Basically, it's beans, sausage, and pork over rice. Of course, in the authentic version, it's got assorted animal guts, but I decided to leave those out. :) I bought farofa (the yellow sprinkles) at a foreign foods to complement the meal.

I even went all out with one of the most delicious Brazilian desserts: mousse de maracujá (passion fruit mousse). Obviously it wasn't quite as picturesque as below, but it was just as tasty. I love Brazilian food!

"That's Not My Name!"

On Thursday, April 1, my dance class performed an American Rumba at the Social Dance Lab. Of all the routines I've participated in, I think this one was my favorite. We look so good! Karsen said our lines were even better than his team. I love dancing so much!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

3DC Premium Package

If you like my dessert contest idea, let me know! Leave a comment and say what you think. And, if you're interested, I can send you an electronic copy of Drake's Delicious Dessert Contest Premium Package, free of charge, which includes:
  • Sample email invitations
  • Sample online registration form
  • 12 dessert quotes
  • dessert name tag template
  • Award certificates
  • dessert rating sheet
  • dessert crossword puzzle
I'd be happy to answer any questions and give tips/tricks--now that I've done it once, I've learned a few things to do differently next time.


Drake Allsop
3DC Chairman

Drake's Delicious Dessert Contest (3DC)

This week I hosted my first ever dessert contest, and it was a smashing success. We had 14 entries, and they were amazing! I was so excited at everyone's hard work and creativity--some people went all out, and I love that!

Everyone tried each dessert, then rated each on presentation and deliciousness. I've included the winners below. The Most Delicious Dessert prize was a gift certificate for a half dozen gourmet cupcakes from Cocoa Bean Cupcake Cafe. The Best Presentation gets a picture of their dessert here on my blog, on my Facebook, and on my apartment door.

It was a lot of preparation and work, but that was half the fun for me. I loved it! I made everyone dessert name tags, and hung random dessert quotes around the room for people to read as they munched and mingled. I even themed the event with colors--brown and green. It was such an enjoyable night, so much fun.

Best Presentation: One Trick Apple Pie

Most Delicious Dessert: Mmmmm... (Ice Cream Oreo Pie)
**Note: In case you wanted to know, my dessert was Mouse de Maracujá, a frozen passion fruit mousse from Brazil. It was ranked the second most delicious dessert. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

There Is Beauty All Around

St. George Getaway

Last weekend was my long awaited and much anticipated trip to St. George. My cousin Lyric and I zipped down on Friday after school to spend a few days with our Smiley grandparents. I love them and I love St. George! We went hiking Saturday morning, and though it was mainly overcast, we ended up catching the day's 10 minutes of sun while we were out. I was excited because it was a hike that Grandpa and Grandma hadn't done before, and they've done almost all the hikes in that area. It was fun to be able to explore together. We munched on crackers and cheese on our way back, my favorite hiking lunch.

Then on Sunday the weather was beautiful--sunny, 60 degrees. We went to church with my grandparents in the morning, and then just relaxed in the afternoon, until we had to say goodbye to the fun and head back to reality. It was a welcome break. Lyric and I both mentioned that on our missions, the two places we missed most were my Grandpa's cabin in Wyoming and St. George, Utah. They're still two of my favorite places on earth!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My First Mosaic

Wow, I have been so artsy lately! This Friday my friend Stacey set me up with her friend Shannon and we went on one of the most creative double dates ever. First, the girls prepared us a delicious Mexican feast, complete with deep fried jalapeno peppers! Then Stacey revealed the night's activity: mosaic-making! She and Shannon had purchased a bunch of different color plates from DI, and had broken them into pieces for our artwork. Isn't that great? A lot of glass breaking, hot glue gunning, and several hours later, wa la! Here's the picture I made--can you tell what it is?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Wonderful World of Hogwarts

Again, the power of creativity. I am just such a believer that there is so much good to do in the world, so much fun to have, so much to explore and create, who needs television and video games? I don't practice this theory perfectly, but doing things like this remind me of it. This was such a great use of our no school Monday. Thank you, cousins!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Laughing Rejuvenation

Also yesterday, Joy introduced me to a pretty hilarious video that had us rolling around the kitchen. I hadn't laughed that hard in forever!

That felt so good I went a searching and came across this funny video. My stomach hurt after watching it I was laughing so hard, but gosh it feels good to laugh! I think everyone should make sure to have full-out belly-aching laughing sessions at least once a week--it does a body good!

Peanut Butter Bars and Lettuce Wraps

Lately I've been a bit more explorative in my baking--I'm ready for some new recipes. This week I made Peanut Butter Bars for the first time. Wow! Delicious! I took a big plate to work for everyone, and since a few people were out of town, I figured I could count on one or two left for my lunch when I came back in at noon. Nope! Nothing but crumbs left! They were an absolute hit.

Peanut Butter Bars
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter/margarine
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 eggs
2 TB milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Then for the frosting:

1/3 c. peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. milk

Mix and spread over peanut butter bars after they have cooled.

Yesterday, together with my friend Joy, I tried my hand at lettuce wraps. With Joy's water chestnut skills and my lettuce ripping technique, we created a scrumptious lunch. Another hit!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creativity in Action

So one day last week my cousins were in town for the evening, and though we didn't really have a plan, we knew we wanted to get together and do something. Being the fount of creative ideas I am, I suggested that we all learn the mambo. When that idea failed to receive thunderous appeal, I pulled out Idea #2: Redecorate my kitchen. Now this was something my artistic cousins could get excited about--soon we were out the door racing to the craft stores before they closed in search of canvas and paint. When we returned, we couldn't decide for a long time exactly what we wanted to do, but after a while came up with the drip and flick idea that you see below. We wanted them to be a set--can you tell what the theme is?

The moral of the story? When you've got a night with friends ahead of you, and you start asking what should we do, before you default to a movie, start thinking creative. What can you do that will encourage friendship, cultivate creativity, and leave you with something to remember the evening by?