Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday morning recipe

Good morning all!

I hope everybody had a fabulous Christmas. I am happy to report that Christmas came and went with lots of smiles and hugs from my little ones. While Christmas this year was on a much smaller scale, the kids didn't seem to notice and it was more relaxing all the way around.

The big "family gift" this year given to me by my sweet Mom and Dad was Wii Fit. Good thing we got it, since we've been partaking in seasonal goodies. Heck, what's 30 minutes of exercise if I can eat Christmas cookies and fudge without guilt? LOL.

And speaking of goodies, I've got these ridiculously easy muffins baking in the came out of the oven right now. While the recipe is simple, these muffins are incredibly good are often requested in our home.

Posted by Picasa

Hershey's Cinnamon Chip Muffins

2 cups bisquick® baking mix
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg -- slightly beaten
1 cup HERSHEY'S Cinnamon Chips
2/3 cup milk

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Grease or paperline 12 muffin cups (2-1/2-inches in diameter).

2. Stir together baking mix, sugar, vegetable oil, egg, cinnamon chips and milk in medium bowl just until moistened. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or just until browned. Cool slightly; remove from pan. 12 muffins.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Meme

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, for sure. While gift bags are convenient for sure, there's nothing prettier to me than a gift wrapped up in pretty Christmas wrapping paper.

Real tree or Artificial? Artificial but only because you can put them up easier and it doesn't involve my husband's help LOL I really do love having a real tree and will probably have one again in the near future.

When do you put up the tree? As tradition in our home, the day after Thanksgiving.

When do you take the tree down? Usually the weekend after January 1st.

Do you like eggnog? Yep love it. My Dad makes his own every year!

Favorite gift received as a child? A black puppy.

Hardest person to buy for? My parents. They appreciate everything but it's getting harder to find something they actually don't have or need LOL

Easiest person to buy for? My daughter

Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, purchased while I was in Mexico made of alabaster.

Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. I usually mail Christmas cards every year but wasn't able to get them out on time this year.

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Nuts. I despise nuts and one year, every child in my classroom (that was 18 children) gave me a canister of nuts LOL My husband was in heaven that year.

Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Wonderful Life.

When do you start shopping for Christmas? Last night? No seriously... I think I started right after Halloween.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Oh yeah.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas cookies. Peanut butter kiss cookies to be specific.

Lights on the tree? Colored but only because my husband and children insist on them.

Favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song sung by Nat King Cole.

Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home. Thankfully, I have both sets of parents here in neighboring towns.

Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Uhm, are you kidding? I am a preschool teacher, ya know.

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We open one on Xmas Eve and the rest on Christmas morning.

Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Tie: TV commercials and my husband's family bickering.

Favorite ornament theme or color? I collect snowflakes (lol) since we don't get snow here in Florida. Actually, I am a native New Englander and it reminds me of all of my cherished childhood Christmases.

What do you want for Christmas this year? I'm already getting it... Christmas break with my family.

Angel or star on top tree: Star.

Favorite meal: Spiral glazed ham.

(Now if you are still reading... consider yourself tagged :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More of my favorite things and a recipe

Today is day number 2 of "Display Your Pitiful Christmas Decoration Day". Yes, I should be doing other things today like oh... baking, cleaning, cooking, finishing Christmas shopping but this time of year is when I let my procrastinating nature really shine through. LOL.

Don't worry about me though, I'll get it done. Sadly, I'm actually ahead of years past where I was sitting up at midnight wrapping presents. This year I've actually got about 75% of my presents already wrapped and under the tree. And today, to soothe my nerves, will probably be a baking day for me. (For all of four of my BFF who actually follow my blog, today is afterall haircut day. Listen for the scream at approximately 5:00pm EDT)

So without further rambling, here are some of my favorite things:

During a more creative moment, I decided to pull my 11-year-old's tricycle that I had been storing in the attic and fill it with my 8-year-olds teddy bear collection. Cute, huh? Sorry about the wire there. I should have fixed it before I took the picture.

A very silly Santa that arrived in my husband's stocking a couple of Christmas seasons ago. When turned on, he really plays the drums ROFL

My snowy wreath. Actually, I should have taken a picture of this whole room which we now call the snowy room LOL I flocked a cheapie wreath with snow and of course added all of my snowflake ornaments. Below it on my mantle, is a flocked garand filled with twinkling snowflake lights. It came out very pretty. My family loves this room now. It is filled with sparkly lights. They actually turn these lights on before the Christmas tree room. Go figure.

Another silly Santa. This was actually given to me by a little boy from my class about 3 years ago. He's actually a votive candle holder. Can you see those stars? They actually look quite magical when a candle is glowing inside of him.

And finally this music box:

It reminds me of the real wood burning stove that my Grandmother had in her farmhouse in Vermont. I miss her.

Okay now that I've tortured you long enough, here's a new recipe courtesy of the Crockpot Lady. I made a batch of it last night to warm us up after ice skating. Ice skating in Florida? Yep, it's true...'cept it wasn't ice. But I'll save that for a whole different post.

Here it is:

Holiday Punch

The Ingredients.

4 cups cranberry juice
4 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup hot tamales or red hots candy

1 cinnamon stick

that's it!

The Directions.

This serves 6. Combine juices in your crockpot, and add hot tamales or red hots. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 4-5. Stir. The candy will pretty much dissolve, leaving just a hint of cinnamony-flavor.

Ladle into mugs, garnishing with an extra cinnamon stick if desire

Verdict: This was a huge hit with my family. Being the sugar monsters that we are, we did add in more hot tamales candy in it. What a special Christmas treat.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Display Your Pitiful Christmas Decoration Day

Thanks to my friend Debbie over at From A Creative Heart, today is "Display Your Pitiful Christmas Decoration Day"

This, er um, "holiday" (?) is an inside joke. Debbie gave me a tip to go check out Warm Pie, Happy Home for some inspiration. Girls, if you haven't checked this blog out, go run and check it out after you look at my pictures. You simply won't believe RuthAnn's beautiful house. She makes Martha Stewart look like Roseanne Barr *lol* Her house is so beautiful that I told Debbie that was going to slit my wrist with holly and delete all of my Christmas tree pictures and soooooo..... a holiday was born LOL

So without further delay, here is this year's Christmas tree. This year, I added in white lights with the colored lights and loved the effect. It kind of added a snowy feel to it.

Hey cool tree... can you tell us a little about some of the more meaning Christmas ornaments?

Oh so glad you asked. You really did ask, I promise you.

While this is definitely not the prettiest ornament on the tree, it is definitely the oldest. It was given to me by my Grandmother back in 1968.

This is another "vintage" ornament given to me by the same Grandmother back in 1972. The picture really doesn't do it justice. You'll just have to take my word on it. Grandma G. was not known as being a crafter at all so this ornament will remain one of my favorites.

Yet another vintage ornament from 1973. This was given to me by Santa the same Christmas Santa brought me a real poodle.

This ornament was given to me by a co-worker the year my son was born. It is ceramic. I always get very sentimental every time I hang this on our tree :-)

Here are some relatively newer additions to my tree. I love retro Christmas items. These two ornaments came from The Christmas Place on one of our many trips to Tennessee:

This ornament came from Tennessee as well. I love him. He reminds me of my childhood in New England where chickadees are native.

A new ornament I received this year from one of my students. The reindeer appears to be made out of real bark. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of him.

And one last ornament (for today), it was given to me by my Director. Those are simulated pearls and rhinestones that are inlaid into the cross.

Well thanks for taking a look at my "pitiful" Christmas decorations. As you can see, our Christmas tree may not be beautiful and "perfect" but it is perfectly decorated with much love and memories.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

As promised...

Here is the recipe for the fabulous Chicken Sesame that I mentioned earlier on Twitter. A word of caution: If you decide to make this for your family, you'll get much admiration from your family and they'll say things like "Oh this tastes better than the Chinese restaurant" (which translates loosely into now we don't have to go out for Chinese anymore).

But seriously, this recipe tastes like "the real deal". Enjoy.

Sesame Chicken





  1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients (the first 9 ingredients listed) and marinate the chicken for 20 minutes.
  2. To prepare the sauce:.
  3. Mix together all of the sauce ingredients (the LAST 9 ingredients beginning with water). Pour them into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm while you are deep-frying the chicken.
  4. To deep-fry the chicken:.
  5. Add the marinated chicken pieces a few at a time, and deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and then place chicken in warm oven (130 degrees) while you continue frying. Repeat with the remainder of the chicken. Just before you are finished deep-frying, bring the sauce back up to a boil.
  6. Place the chicken on a large platter and pour the sauce over. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve the Sesame Chicken with rice.

Santa came early for me!

Look what I found today! Seems Santa must have gotten my address wrong and delivered this to a neighbor's house instead *grin*.

Today it was such a beautiful day that our family decided to take a leisurely bike ride around our neighborhood. On a whim, I decided to peddle down a road that I have never been down before. And there she was. Sitting in somebody's driveway with a sign that said "For Sale $25".

Immediately, I ignored my family's plea not to trespass and to pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease get out of the driveway before somebody saw me.

As luck may have it, the homeowner "Steve" came out and said, "Hi! Merry Christmas! Hey are you guys interested in that bench? You can have it for free. My wife told me to bring it to Goodwill today but if you want it... it's all yours."

After I did a happy dance and thanked my new BFF (*lol*) I peddled home at warp speed and drove back to Steve's house to bring my new addition home.

Thank you, Santa Steve :-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Here it is a mere 4 days of Christmas and I still trying to nail down what I'm going to serve my family for dinner. Thankfully, I have parents and In-laws who basically love anything I cook.

Every year it seems to get a little bit more difficult to plan meals since our beloved parents seem to develop various ailments which prevent them from eating the foods we love but I do my best.

The one thing I have definitely decided on is a nice spiraled ham. I know a lot of people love Turkey or Roast Beef but there is something so Christmasy about a glazed spiraled ham at Christmas. Plus we get to pick on the leftovers LOL.

So, here is what I have planned so far. Again, from previous posts you know I don't like to commit to anything (even food) because you just never know... I might find something better LOL.

For starters, I'm going to cheat and serve an Italian Cheese Tray. (That's the picture up there on top). I might substitute or add in marinated mushrooms, add a block of either Roquefort or Parmesan and maybe add some grapes.

For the main course, well.. that's where I'm still working out the specifics. Seems our family gatherings have gotten into a rut and continue serving the same side dishes for every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

By request of my daughter, Sweet Potato Casserole. This is a family favorite.

1 1/2 quarts mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs -- beaten
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup butter -- melted
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter -- melted
1 cup flour -- approximately
1 cup pecans

Mash potatoes, butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs together and pour into a greased baking dish.

In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Stir in melted butter in small amounts until crumbly. You may not need all of it.

Sprinkle topping onto potatoes. Garnish with additional chopped or halved pecans on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

A new addition to the Christmas table:

Tyler Florence's Scalloped Potato Gratin

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.

While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

The remaining vegetables are pretty much up in the air right now. I might just go basic steamed so it won't compete with the other flavors of the meal. I will also make the Cranberry Bliss (see former post)

For dessert... heh.. I'm actually contemplating on making a chocolate dessert station. Buckeyes, Brownies, slices of peanut butter pie, gourmet chocolate bars. Oh yum. Good thing Santa is bringing me Wii Fit this year. I'm gonna need it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cookie Swap

So today over at From A Creative Heart, Debbie and Darlene from Our Creative Life are cleverly hosting a first Cookie Swap. What a brilliant idea and no calories either LOL. Here are my contributions:

If you're a cheesecake fan, this cookies is for you.

Cheesecake Cookies

1 cup butter
Publish Post

4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs

For the cheese filing:
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon half and half

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until blended. Add egg, lemon rind and lemon juice. Mix well. Combine flour and baking powder. Add to first mixture and blend well. Cover. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in graham cracker crumbs. Arrange on ungreased baking sheets. With finger make an indentation in center of each cookie. Fill with level 1/2-teaspoons of filling. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

CHEESE FILLING: Beat together all ingredients until smooth.

This is not your typical chocolate chip cookie recipe. The Skor chips add such a wonderful caramel and richness to the cookie. They are husband's favorite.

Skor bits & chocolate chip cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter -- softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar -- packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 each eggs
1 cup skor english toffee bits
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in toffee bits and chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire racks. Cool completely.

Here's another family favorite. Be forewarned, adults will fight over this fudge down to the last piece. It is very rich.

Baileys Irish Creme Fudge

24 ounces milk chocolate chips
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
14 ounces marshmallow cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk -- (12 ounce)
1/2 pound butter

Line a jelly roll pan (10 x 15 x 1 inch) with foil. Butter the foil. In a very large heavy bowl, place all the chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla and Bailey's Irish Cream.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and butter over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook slowly, stirring constantly for 11 minutes.

Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate chip mixture, stirring by hand. The hot milk will melt the chocolate chips and marshmallow cream. Continue to stir until everything is well blended.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and chill until set. Turn out onto a large cutting board and peel off the foil. Cut into small squares. Store refrigerated.

Yield: about 5 pounds of fudge.

Last but not least, this is the centerpiece that I'm bringing to Debbie's place. I use it on my table on Christmas day.

Peppermint Pretzel Wreath

24 ounces vanilla flavored candy coating
2 10 oz bags Golden Flake large thin pretzels -- * see note
6 3/4 ounces peppermint candies -- crushed
7 additional peppermint candies
5 small Christmas bows -- optional
1 box wax paper

Place candy coating in a large glass bowl, and microwave at high for 1-1/2 minutes or until coating melts, stirring once. Dip pretzels into candy coating, covering completely. Place coated pretzels on wax paper; sprinkle heavily with crushed peppermint. Let dry.

Place a single layer of pretzels around outside edge of edge of a 12-inch serving tray. Continue layering remaining pretzels until wreath is 3 inches high.

Spoon sever small dots of remaining melted candy around top of wreath; press whole peppermints gently onto the wreath, allowing dots of melted candy to act as "glue". Let stand until firm. Decorate with bows, if desired.

Note: Original recipe calls for 1 10-oz. bag of pretzels. "We used Golden flake fat-free pretzels.
You may want to buy two bags of pretzels just to be sure you get enough unbroken ones for the wreath."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday

It's the last day of school for me. Hooray! (Humming the theme song from Mary Tyler Moore) "She's gonna make it afterall". Last night's Christmas concert (with my 28 preschool kiddos) went terrifically. The children sang their hearts out and their faces were filled with pride. It was an awesome site to behold.

This year I was a rebel and didn't wear the traditional gawdy sweaters like the other teachers. I chose to wear a simple black dress with Chanel rings on it and a sparkly silver high heels. They'll be a price to pay (lol) but what can I say? I'm a non-conformist and those sweaters ... well, they are just not me. Besides, what's wrong with getting dressed up for Christmas?

So I have two announcements that I have been procrastinating on making. If you know me personally or have read my previous post, you know I'm a procrastinator. To me:

Procrastination = perfectionism + commitment
It's literally taken decades for me to figure out this personality flaw. But at least recognizing it is the first step right? Basically, I am a perfectionist. And once I commit to something, it has to be perfect. If it's not perfect, I get irritated and/or frustrated and drop the whole project together. I know, I know... it's an*l but it's just how I am. So anytime I need to make a commitment to somebody or myself, I procrastinate until I'm 100% sure I can be perfect at whatever I am committing myself too LOL I know. I need therapy. Especially since there is probably nothing that I am perfect at doing ROFL.

I digress. Did you just notice I have now successfully procrastinated writing my two announcements for a whole paragraph? Yes, I know I should be commited.

What was I saying???

Oh yeh. Announcements.

First announcement. Giveaways. Yep, we all love 'em. Last week, I actually took my first stab at jewelry making. Actually pendant making... heh, which I then added to a double-tiered choker necklace. Anyway, I made a series of them and I thought they came out pretty good. So good, in fact, that I gave one to my Secret Santa. Well, the perfectionist inside of me silently screamed because the backing wasn't "perfect" when my Secret Santa opened her gift but she loved it. Actually, all of my staff loved in and people now want me to pay me to make necklaces for them. Soooooooo, in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I'd reserve one of these handmade 95% perfect pendants for my first giveaway. The rules for winning one of these pendants will be written on another post. Stay tuned.

Second announcement (deep breath...inhale). Oh darn it..have I told you lately how much I hate making commitments. I think... okay... I am... maybe... no really I am... going to finally make a Locks of Love contribution this Christmas. A preschool parent of mine owns a salon and has graciously offered her salon services to me. So yep, I'm gonna do it. Now for those of you who really don't know me, I realize you are probably laughing at me or rolling your eyes. But for those of you who do know me, know this is a pretty big deal. I have over 12 inches of long hair and the shortest I have ever gone is shoulder length.

So my family has convinced me to get this hairstyle:

While I like this hairstyle, I would like some hybrid type of hair style.

1 part Eva Longoria...
1 part Victoria Beckham...

and 1-part Katie Holmes

Okay now I feel queasy. I've said it. Short hair, here I come. Now will somebody please come and hold my hand????

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I won an award!

One of my favorite bloggers and long time friends, Debbie, was sweet enough to give me an award :-)

Thanks Deb! You know I love ya to pieces to, girlfriend!

So here are the rules of spreading the love (award):

1.Post a copy on your blog.
2.Mention who gave you the award.
3.Pass the award onto 6 others.
4.Leave a message on their blog letting them know the award has been bestowed upon them.

And that's it! Easy, right? Heh.. not for me but here it goes:

1. Nester from The Nesting Place. I mean who doesn't love Nester, right? I've even mistreated my first set of curtains because of her :-)
2. Nester's partner in crime :-) Kimba from A Soft Place to Land I swear these ladies are my idols.
3. Pretty Organizer from Pretty Organizer Palace. Not only is she extremely talented in ways I could only dream of, she is an incredible Mother of 6.
4. The Crockpot Lady from A Year of Crockpotting. I love reading this blog. Creative recipes sprinkled with humor.
5. A fellow teacher and new friend... Jen from Time Out for Me. She doesn't know it but I'm sure we'd be good friends in "real life" :-)
6. Grams. Her love of her family and her love for the holidays always make me smile.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is it Thursday yet?

'Scuse me while I just empty my head here today before it explodes LOL

So here it is 9:04pm and I am finally sitting down after a long productive day. Shopping is nearly done. Grocery shopping is done. 28 preschooler made noodle frames have been sprayed painted and are drying on my front porch LOL, all of my party supplies have been purchased and I'm exhausted.

This week will be yet another busy one but "the end is near in sight". Tomorrow is day 1 of 2 for preschool class parties, it is also the day where I have to pick over a $100 in cookie dough from the PTA *lol*, followed by an evening teacher's party and Toys-R-Us night shopping. Tuesday is the 2nd preschool class party and both of my classes perform the annual Christmas concert. Wednesday is my last day of Preschool before Christmas break! Yippee!

Thursday is my first annual Mother/Son Christmas goof-off day. For reasons I won't bore you with, I have decided to let my son ditch a field trip and we're going to spend the day together instead :-) I cannot even begin to tell you how excited we both are. So far, we've decided to start our day at Starbucks (he loves the caramel apple cider), followed by Christmas shopping, mini-golf and lunch out together.

Friday, my son graduates from D.A.R.E. (so I'll be able to attend the ceremony) and my daughter's class is having a "Polar Express" themed Christmas party.

And tonight... eek... I just remembered.... I forgot to grade a bazillion Math SuperStar papers for my daughter's class.

Calgon take me away! Oh well, time to drag out the footspa, pour a glass of wine, turn up the holiday music. Life could be worse.

Me graceful?

I had originally planned to write a fairly insightful blog today but fell prey to not one but TWO migraines *sigh*. Thank heavens for medication and insurance or life could be much, much worse.

At any rate, I decided to play "follow the leader" with Tiff and here's my results. How can a test with 2 question neatly sum up my existence here on Earth? LOL

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Grace!


You are a Grace -- "I need to understand the world."

Graces have a need for knowledge and are introverted, curious, analytical, and insightful.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Be independent, not clingy

  • * Speak in a straightforward and brief manner

  • * I need time alone to process my feelings and thoughts

  • * Remember that If I seem aloof, distant, or arrogant, it may be that I am feeling uncomfortable

  • * Make me feel welcome, but not too intensely, or I might doubt your sincerity

  • * If I become irritated when I have to repeat things, it may be because it was such an effort to get my thoughts out in the first place

  • * don't come on like a bulldozer

  • * Help me to avoid my pet peeves: big parties, other people's loud music, overdone emotions, and intrusions on my privacy

What I Like About Being a Grace
* standing back and viewing life objectively
* coming to a thorough understanding; perceiving causes and effects
* my sense of integrity: doing what I think is right and not being influenced by social pressure
* not being caught up in material possessions and status
* being calm in a crisis

What's Hard About Being a Grace

  • * being slow to put my knowledge and insights out in the world

  • * feeling bad when I act defensive or like a know-it-all

  • * being pressured to be with people when I don't want to be

  • * watching others with better social skills, but less intelligence or technical skill, do better professionally

Graces as Children Often

  • * spend a lot of time alone reading, making collections, and so on

  • * have a few special friends rather than many

  • * are very bright and curious and do well in school

  • * have independent minds and often question their parents and teachers

  • * watch events from a detached point of view, gathering information

  • * assume a poker face in order not to look afraid

  • * are sensitive; avoid interpersonal conflict

  • * feel intruded upon and controlled and/or ignored and neglected

Graces as Parents

  • * are often kind, perceptive, and devoted

  • * are sometimes authoritarian and demanding

  • * may expect more intellectual achievement than is developmentally appropriate

  • * may be intolerant of their children expressing strong emotions

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fear the Dog House

Found the following video over at the Pretty Organized Palace...
Couldn't resist sharing LOL

Men of America... fear the dog house

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Divine Gingerbread Cake

I love the smell of gingerbread, do you? To me, the very aroma encapsulates the smell of Christmas to me. Until last night, I have never been able to find a gingerbread recipe that was both easy and delicious unless it came out of a box LOL.

So without further delay, here it is courtesy of Family Fun:

I like to grate the nutmeg fresh—not because I’m fancy or because I think it makes such a big difference flavorwise, but because it’s such a pleasant thing to do, and it’s a little job I can give the kids. If you’ve never tried this, do: it involves buying whole nutmegs and a tiny grater, and it’s a small and worthwhile investment.

½ cup sugar
½ cup room-temperature butter
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt (I use one scant teaspoon of kosher salt)
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger (the powdered spice)
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda

Heat the oven to 350, and butter and flour a lasagna-sized (10 by 14 inch) baking pan. Now, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, followed by the molasses. Take a moment to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure there’s no butter hiding out down there. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, spices, and salt (and by “sift together” I mean, of course, whisk together, because I’m lazy like that), then mix them into the batter until they just disappear. Now measure the boiling water (I do this right in the dirty molasses cup), add the baking soda to it, call your kids over to see the amazingly foaming mixture, explain the science of it (each crystal of baking soda actually contains a tiny, burping angel), and beat it gently into the batter, which will now seem incredibly runny, which is fine. Pour it into your prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean or with crumbs on it, rather than ooky batter still. Serve with whipped cream, if you like, or plain. Yum.

Now I will warn you ladies... while the outcome of this recipe is fabulous it looks both disgusting and smells horrible during the preparation. It looked so bad that there were several times that I actually considered pouring it down the drain. And before you ask, yes, it is suppose to be incredibly watery before you bake it. But trust me, if you hang in there, follow the directions and just not look at it too long *lol*, you will be rewarded with "award winning gingerbread" as my family now refers to it and your house will be filled with that wonderful gingerbread smell as a bonus.

Top it off with your favorite frosting or mine:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter with electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy. gradually beat in sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla and 2 tbs. milk adding additional milk, if necessary.

Yield: 2-1/2 cups

(I will warn you, however, that your family will NEVER want the easy canned frosting again)

Monday, December 8, 2008

My first meme

How exciting! Well, for me, at least LOL

So, Casey over at The Ever-Changing Life of a Military Wife challenged her readers to tag anyone who wants to see if their life has been worthwhile so I'm tagging YOU. Yes, all 3 of my BFF in bloggyland LOL

Just bold the things you have done. Here we go:

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
(Does dance with the band count?)

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors ... not yet but I will ONE DAY

35. Seen an Amish community. Seen? I lived smack dab in the middle of it LOL

36. Taught yourself a new language. Still in the process of learning Spanish.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant. Not actually in a meal thought. I bought a homeless person a burger on the street.

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance (it wasn't me though who was ill. It was my best friend in college).

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
I snorkeled on my honeymoon. Kinda freaked me out though. Just not my thing.

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater (I miss drive-ins)

55. Been in a movie
(Does the You-Tube movie of me dressing in fireman's clothes count? ROFL)

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class.

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp

67. Bounced a check
(we won't go there LOL)

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day

What a neat list, huh? And I guess by the standards of this list, I didn't do too bad. So my challenge to you ladies is to repost this meme and then pick 5 items that you most like to accomplish in your lifetime and post them here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmastime in our house

As most of you know, Christmas is a "big deal" in our house. Our holiday season is rich in family traditions, filled with lots of memory making events with our children, baking, crafting, preschool events, elementary school events and of course ... worship.

But just like any other family, it can also be filled with family drama (outside of our immediate family), over-scheduled calendars, cranky parents and tired children.

Thankfully, amongst all of the craziness that the Season can sometimes bring we somehow remain to keep our sense of humor.

To illustrate my point...

One morning my "angel" was "in a mood" not exactly filled with the holiday spirit. Yes, you Moms know what I'm talking about. She didn't want to go to school. She only got dressed after I nagged politely reminded her to get dressed for school 6 times. She couldn't find her belt. She couldn't find her homework. She didn't like her lunch. Oh yes, ladies, the Grinch had slowly but surely taken over my daughter's heart.

During our ride to school, I reminded my little princess that misbehaving and being in a generally grinchy mood was probably not her best choice since Santa's big day was arriving very soon.

"Mom , how does Santa know if I've been naughty ANYWAY?"
"He just knows me."
"But how, Mom?"
"He just does. Now please... just behave. We're almost at school."
"You don't know, DO YOU, Mom?"
"Mom? Helloooooooooooo. Mom. Pssssst, Jeremy, Mom doesn't know."
"Mooooooooooooom, oh Mooooooooooom. Oh MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMEEEEEEEE!"
"Ohmigosh, would you cut it out? HE KNOWS because I CALL HIM!"
"What? You don't call him. How can you call him? You don't even have his phone number. Nobody does."

Unbeknownst to my angelic child, the good folks at Vonage now offers it's customers exclusive access to Santa's answering machine in the North Pole for free. How cool is that? Upon her arrival home from school that day, I greeted her with the telephone and a smile.

"Guess what puddin'? It's your lucky day."
"Really? Why?! Did you buy me a cookie at Publix?
"Nope, let's call Santa. I have his phone number right here.
"Well c'mon, let's call him."

I dialed the phone number and handed her the phone set. The look on her face was priceless. It was one part joy, one part magic and one part horror. She then looked and me and said, "He didn't pick up... I think it's a recording. I said, "It's his answering machine, you better leave a message". And then she hung up.

"Why did you do that for?"
"I didn't know what to say!"
"Well, you could have said Merry Christmas at least"
"Hmmmm. You are right, Mom. I better call back."

This is what she said.

When she hung up, I said to K.

That was a nice call but you know what? You didn't tell Santa your name AND you didn't tell him what you wanted for Christmas.

So she tried again.



and finally ... again.

So now you have just a teeny glimpse into this crazy house we call a home and a partial justification of my insanity. Kids. You gotta love 'em :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cranberry bliss

Dust off your crockpot, ladies and go check out A Year of Crockpotting. I found this blog intriguing... I mean really ... who the heck can even think of 50 palatable crockpot recipes nevermind 365? Apparently Stephanie can and she does a great job at it, I might add.

So tonight out of sheer curiosity, I tried Stephanie's Cranberry Sauce recipe and I'm here to tell you ladies... it's total cranberry bliss! I did add in a smidgen more sugar and about a 1/4 tsp. of vanilla but my, oh my, it'll be hard to go back to canned cranberry sauce again.

Give it a whirl. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Black Friday

So here we are... one week until the consumer driven holiday called "Black Friday". Unlike my colleagues, I just don't "get this" tradition.

The thought of getting up in the wee hours of the morning, driving to over-packed stores with generally unpleasant, fiercely competitive consumers and then standing in checkout lines that are at least 6 people deep... just leaves me cold. Bah humbug.

To me, this holiday just exemplifies the consumerism and commercialism of Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a gal who loves finding a great sale but to me Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what we have and less about what we want on Friday.

Traditionally in our home, the day after Thanksgiving is called Pajama Day. We spend the entire day in our Pajamas. We spend our day watching movies, playing board games, baking and just generally appreciating being home together on the holiday weekend.

This year, however, thanks to Gidget a new tradition is going to be born in our home!

Introducing a new holiday for us crafters... "Make Something Day"!

"The Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is typically marked as the busiest shopping day for Americans. But we live in a world that can no longer handle our consumptive habits here in the west. And while we pile up on things we don’t need a large portion of the world exists without basic human needs being met every day. We applaud Buy Nothing Day… but it isn’t enough for us. We believe that giving is a central part of being human. So, we replaced the negative with something positive: Make Something Day. Go ahead and give gifts this holiday season. As they say, giving is better than receiving. But that doesn’t mean buying something is. So, we encourage folks to avoid shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Instead, stay home, put a log on the fire and try making something for someone."

Come join the movement and pssssst.... pass it on :-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Other Woman

My husband loves her. My kids adore her. My dog, God bless him, is indifferent towards her. Meet "the other woman".

Sure she's younger than I am and so what if she can clean better than I can (I mean who really gets underneath the beds to attack the land of the dust bunnies), she works tirelessly without a single complaint and she can recharge her batteries in less than hour...

But can she cook delicious meals, help with homework, chauffeur her children to various scouting and sporting events, decorate her home for the holidays, stay up all night and console sick children, make 3-year-olds laugh... clean tile floors....

Uh-oh.. look out Ms. Roomba, there's another woman in town.

Oh yes, one day you will be mine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I believe!

I believe I'm a winner! And you won't believe what I've won!

Let me take a step back...

A couple of weeks ago, I heard the lovely sound of silence in my home. That is a rarity in my household. No sounds of sibling rivalry, no blaring TVs nor sounds of video games bounced of the walls of our home. Just true blissful silence.

And then I got worried. So being the nosey attentive Mom that I am, I decided that I better make sure that my children had not killed injured each other.

As I walked slowly down the children's hallway, I decided I better check on my son first. Although the older of the two, he always seems to be the victim in these types of incidents because as we all know "boys don't hit girls"... at least in our household anyway. After a quick peek through the door, there was my "little" boy all wrapped up in a blanket totally engrossed into a book. Who woulda thunk?

So on to my *ahem* delicate flower's room. I took a breath and opened her door and there she was laying on her bed writing a letter.

"What'cha up to, sweet pea? What's up with all of the crumbled paper?"

"Well Mom, since Christmas is our next big holiday, I thought I better get going and write my letter to Santa!"

"Uhmmmm, you do realize, sweetness, that Thanksgiving is this month, right? We just don't gloss over that holiday."

"It is? Then how come all they keep showing on TV is Christmas commercials?"

"Because they can't make enough money off Thanksgiving. It is truly a holiday that revolves around celebrating the birth of our country, celebrating our diversity of heritage and the freedom to worship."

"What did you say?" (As she continues writing) "I thought Thanksgiving was the holiday with the big parade."

"It is... oh nevermind... can I see your letter to Santa?"

Her letter, like most 8-year-old girls, was chock full of girlie stuff like Hannah Montana items, High School Musical, Shining Stars, Nintendo DS, clothing, stuffed animals, books and the icon of mostly every girl's childhood dream an EZ Bake Oven.

However, unlike most 8-year-old girls, at the closing of her letter was the following:

"The most important gift is please, please, please... Can I finally meet you this year? Nothing else matters I just want to know all about you and hear about your life in the North Pole".

I smiled at her and gave her hug and silently wondered ... just now how the heck am I ever going to pull this one off?

And then God smiled at me... and lovingly brought me to The North Pole Secretary. As luck may have it, this darling elf was holding a contest for a free letter from the North Pole. And as you have guessed by now, I won!

So please, if you get a chance, please stop by her website. She is officially open for business and not only is she Santa's official secretary :-) she is also a wonderful, loving, adopting Mom trying to raise funds to support her newly adopted children.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Okay I'll admit it

I'm a slacker...
No .... a perfectionist...
No... a procrastinator.

Hmmmmmmm, maybe after taking a glimpse around the house I'd say a bit of all of the adjectives and add in the word slob just for fun LOL.

Ever since I can remember, I've always fallen into two categories. Either "living in the now" (let's worry about that tomorrow) and or I'd plan every detail to the point where I'd get overwhelmed by my task list and just scrap the entire project. Is anybody else like that?

My poor blog is an example. As I walk around the house, a zillion blog subjects drift through my mind. But then I remember I have to cut out 28 pilgrim hats for my class, my dog throws up, my daughter needs help with her homework, my son remembers he needs to design a budget that tracked his spending for 3 WEEKS in 30 minutes for his Cub Scout meeting, my husband can't find the stupid remote AGAIN, somebody drops milk on the floor causing the vomiting dog to clean the floor with his tongue causing somebody to trip over the vomiting dog, causing a massive search for my daughter's favorite shirt was of course is at the bottom of the hamper on top of the REMOTE which I had been searching for the past 2 days!!! Welcome to a typical Tuesday afternoon in our house.

So I apologize now, my dear friends for not updating my blog more regularly. And I'm sorry you missed out on my lifechanging blog posts that once danced through my head LOL. Maybe one day I'll get the hang of this blog stuff... but I'll worry about that tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bathroom Bliss

Happy Tuesday... I think. Boy is it ever hard to dive back into work and school after coming home from a long trip. I digress.

So this morning, I stumbled across a great blog that brought me a giggle. Thanks, Lori from All You Have to Give :-) We must be kindred sisters for certain LOL

Attention Children:

The Bathroom Door is Closed.

Please do not stand there and talk, whine, or ask questions.

Wait until I get out.

Yes, it is locked. I want it that way.

It is not broken, I am not trapped.

I know I have left it unlocked, and even open at times,

since you were born, because I was afraid

some horrible tragedy might occur

while I was in there,

but it's been 10 years and I want some


Do not ask me how long I will be.

I will come out when I am done.

Do not bring the phone to the bathroom door.

Do not go running back to the phone yelling

She's in the BATHROOM!

Do not begin to fight as soon as I go in.

Do not stick your little fingers under the door and wiggle them.

This was funny when you were two.

Do not slide pennies, Legos, or notes under the door.

Even when you were two this got a little tiresome.

If you have followed me down the hall talking,

and are still talking as you face this closed door,

please turn around, walk away,

and wait for me in another room.

I will be glad to listen to you when I am done.

And yes, I still love you.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

I heart Halloween

I love Halloween. I know that is probably not politically correct... ESPECIALLY when you are a Preschool Teacher in a Christian school. But I do.

Not the Halloween that you see in the new gothic, bloody, severed head, corpse shops that are popping up all over America.

I love the Halloween that I remember as a kid growing up in small town America. A time when we could enter our neighbor's haunted house without fear, a time when we could eat homemade popcorn balls without the fear of a razor being tucked inside, a time where we dressed up in homemade costumes that our mother labored over for hours. A kinder, innocent time in rural Pennsylvania. Sigh.

I guess I'll close this blog with a recipe that invokes many wonderful Autumn memories for me. Enjoy.


Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake

1 can evaporated milk -- (13 oz)
3 eggs -- beaten
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 can pumpkin -- (13 oz)
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter

Combine all ingredients except for the cake mix and butter. Pour mixture into an 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over the pumpkin mixture.

Slice margarine or butter over top of cake mix. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. DO NOT STIR! Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.