Today marked the official end to a very long summer.

I miss my favorite tomatoes, too… Cherokee purples!

I spent the day fluctuating between normal back-to-school excitement and stress, trying to get my room pulled together and hammering out my syllabus… and then swinging into sadness because my kidsmy roommy year

One of the first things I completed was a survey from our new principal asking how many years we had been in the classroom. Y’all… this will be my 17th. My education career is as old as my students. I was a bit staggered.

I thought of memes I’d seen saying “This is every teacher’s first year!” And in some ways, this year does feel new and different and scary — much like a first classroom.

But the primary lesson of those seventeen years is what I hope to teach my students each year: We can do hard things.

My very first year, I was teaching when planes crashed into the twin towers. I took 3 years off to go to law school, so my second year teaching was 2005… and I was teaching in New Orleans. All my cute classroom decor that year was rendered a bit soggy by Katrina. Later that fall, I started over again in another classroom in Monroe, wearing clothes I had borrowed from my sisters because my clothes were still in New Orleans.

In short, my first two years teaching taught me that I could not control my circumstances. I could, however, control my attitude — and that affected my students’ engagement and outlook more than anything else.

Today also marked my move from one of my favorite summer lunches (BLT with homemade mayonaise) to my school year lunch (re-heated leftovers from last night). (Thank goodness there were still muffins in the teacher workroom to supplement).

Homemade mayonaise always makes me wonder if it’s worth it, but it is invariably easier to make and tastes better than I remember. I’ve tried and failed at more than a few variations… I know from experience that there are lots of YouTube tutorials on how to fix it when you mess it up. Some of them even work.

But my go-to recipe has never once failed me. It’s from Celebrations on the Bayou. It is slightly tangy but not at all sweet. It will elevate your chicken salad, cole slaw, or any other mayonnaise-based dish. But where it shines the most? The simple tomato sandwich.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


  • Place the first six ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Mix until combined.
  • Slowly drizzle the vegetable oil through the feed tube. The mayonaise will become thick.
  • Stir in cayenne and store for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Back when the garden was growing lots of different lettuces… before everything burned to a crisp in the August heat

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