Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bah humbug

While you are reading this I am probably at school. Yes, school on the Monday before Christmas. If you can't tell I'm a little bitter about this one. Most schools in the state got out on Friday. Some of those schools only had to go half a day on Friday. Why are we going on Monday and Tuesday this week AFTER exams? Who knows? I just know I have to go. I understand that many people who aren't in education have to go to work all the way up till Christmas day and even some people have to work then. I used to work at a doctor's office and actually had to work everyday around Christmas except for Christmas Eve & Christmas day, and although I would've rather stayed at home, I was ok with it because it was my job and it didn't involve me dealing with tons of middle school students who were very excited about Christmas break. If you teach, you know that when you come back from Thanksgiving break the kids get wilder and wilder the closer you get to Christmas. Just last week I had to send 5 kids to the office! I never send kids to the office. Last year I probably sent 3 to the office for the whole year. It's just frustrating because I teach a semester course and we took our exams on Friday so I have nothing left to do for my class. Grades are done and they know that. I'm basically babysitting for two days.
So what do I do to make myself cheer up about having to stay in Tuscaloosa away from my family & friends in Muscle Shoals? I take my Christmas decorations down. Yeah, not something to help me cheer up (immediately). I decided to take my decorations down before we left for the break so when I come home with dirty laundry and gifts I won't have to add "taking down decorations" to the list of things to do. I can just relax for a bit before I have to go back to school, which is the same time as the people who got out on Friday. My living room looks so empty without our tree. You know how sad it feels the day after Christmas? Like magic is gone?? (maybe it's just me). Well, I kind of feel like that now. Cory said it will be like Christmas two times back to back because when I go home there will be decorations everywhere and I can be excited for Christmas again. He's really good to cheer me up. :)
Whew! Well if you're still reading this after all my complaining I will end on a happy note.
If you didn't know, this semester there was a mix up in scheduling my classes. I got an 8th grade class with only three people in it. Yes, three people! And not just people, but DUDES! I teach home ec and boys are not usually the ones you picture in my class. (by the way, I have thirty-two 8th graders next semester so I didn't get off too easy) Anyway, I was really hesitant about having three guys in one class. Would they actually care about the stuff I taught? Would they be good at sewing and cooking? Turns out they were great! (with the exception of one who didn't try hard and really disliked me and made a death threat towards me....if you've talked with me, you know the story and it's quite humorous----we've patched things up though)
I really enjoyed having them in there and they really tried hard at everything. I taught them how to ice a cake and showed them some decorating tricks and thought it would be a fun thing to do on Friday. I didn't expect their cakes to turn out so well. They did so much better than the high school kids I taught while student teaching. Check out their cakes. It makes my heart happy.

This one is from the little boy who didn't ever put much effort into things. He tried really hard and I am so proud of him.
I honestly thought they wouldn't be able to ice the cake without getting crumbs everywhere, but they did a great job. I didn't even help them!
While I'm bragging on my fellas, here's their pajama pants they made in October. The other guy was at his peak of hating me at this point and didn't want his picture taken. I cropped their heads off since I don't have their permission to put their pics on the Internet.
To see my students succeed and enjoy seeing me for one period a day makes it worth it to do what I do....even though I really don't want to do it this week ;) I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Well, just the icing. I had to make some treats for a function and thought it would be nice to make some red velvet cupcakes. I just used a red velvet cake mix to make things easy. If you can't find a red velvet mix, you can always get a white cake mix and add 2 tbs of cocoa (or you can use chocolate pudding) and red food coloring. I've made homemade red velvet cake from scratch before but I think the box mix tastes just as good and is less hassle.
Anyway, on to the icing. I tried a new recipe for the cream cheese icing this year. I found one online with an ingredient I had never used before for this type of icing. Can you guess the ingredient?

If you guessed the marshmallow cream then you are correct!

1 stick butter, softened
1 box confectioner sugar (4 cups)
1 (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped pecans

Blend cream cheese and butter together. Add marshmallow cream and sugar and mix. Fold in pecans.

Now ice your cupcakes!
I think this recipe was intended to frost a cake, so I had quite a bit of icing left over. You could probably half the recipe and be good OR you could make a cake instead and use all of the icing. I made cupcakes because they're easy to eat and they don't require a fork.
I also made cupcakes because I found these darling cupcake toppers on sale at Hobby Lobby a while back. :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Christmas Card

Growing up my family never sent out Christmas cards with pictures on them. Maybe my parents didn’t have the time or maybe I wasn’t a cute enough kid, but I always secretly wanted to send a picture card like my cousins and neighbors always did. As I got older (in high school) I started sending my own Christmas cards. Since I wasn’t a cute enough kid, I thought I surely wasn’t a cute enough grown person to put my face on a card. Actually, I knew nobody would want a picture of just me. I made a decision to send picture Christmas cards when I had children or maybe even a dog…Something worth looking at. J

The first year Cory and I were married the thought crossed my mind to send a card with our photo on it but I decided against it. Cory is not too keen on getting his picture taken unless he’s doing something destructive (one year he had a picture of him burning a Christmas tree…how sad) and I, again, didn’t think anyone would want our picture. We did, however, sent out cards that year. While visiting someone’s house that we sent a card to I noticed their Christmas card display. They had received lots of cards and they were hanging for all to see. Cory & I were admiring the cards with the person talking about a few that stood out. I looked for our card and it was nowhere to be found. The person was talking about the cards and said that those weren’t all they had received but that the cards without the pictures aren’t worth anything and they had thrown them away. I don’t think that person realized that our card was one of those that was in the trash but it really hurt my feelings. I felt it was worth something. I had tried to search for the prettiest cards on the shelf (visiting many stores), I used my neatest handwriting, I wrote little messages personalizing each card, I bought stamps, and spent my afternoon addressing 30+ cards. I was determined not to get my card trashed the next year.

Cory was a good sport and agreed to be on the Christmas card. If you know us well, you know that we don’t take ourselves too seriously and that I’m the queen of cheesy jokes/humor. I decided we would make a silly card featuring the “hot toy” item of the year: Rock Band. Here is the picture that was on our card last year. It had a caption beside it saying “We hope your Christmas ROCKS”. (and yes, Cory is signing "I love you" instead of rock fingers)

Yes, it’s cheesy, but it had a picture on it and that’s apparently what qualified for not getting trashed. I actually I had the chance to visit the same person that Christmas and found my card on display….along with other NON picture cards. Instead of being bitter about it I was happy everyone’s cards they sent were given justice.

Now on to this year: I was talking with some friends about a month ago and they were asking what the Christmas card was going to look like this year. What?! Do another picture card? Apparently they liked the card and wanted us to send them another one with a cheesy picture on it. I thought about it and came up with an idea that would result in me getting the best “As Seen on TV” product: a SNUGGIE!

Now, last year when I first saw a Snuggie commercial I laughed and thought it was the stupidest thing ever. Why not just use a blanket? Then it got colder. I sit on the couch quite a bit to use my laptop, or to read a magazine, or even eat. On that couch I am usually covered with a blanket. As it got colder it became harder to stay warm and do the activities I wanted. I realized I was looking like the “before Snuggie” people on the commercial. It became a goal of mine to get a Snuggie, but for $15 my husband would not support my decision. I came up with a pitch that I needed it for a Christmas card and that I would say something about “comfort and joy” or “warm and cozy”…he thought it was stupid (and it really is) Although I wanted one, I still laughed at their cheesiness. Then one day as I was strolling along the mall I found one for $8! I got two of them and somehow convinced Cory into letting us take our Christmas photo in them. I guess could’ve just kept the Snuggie and came up with a better picture idea but Snuggies are pretty ridiculous and I thought people might get a kick out of us owning them….who knows what I was thinking?! Anyway, I hope people don’t think we’re too weird for sending them out. We were just being silly and I love how cute Cory looks because he’s laughing…at how ridiculous the whole situation is. What a trooper!

Here’s wishing you the WARMEST wishes this Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Toasted Coconut, Pecan, and Caramel Pie

With it being Christmas time Cory & I have a few parties/gatherings coming up. Just within the next week we have about four things to go to. Each event I have to bring a dessert and while I love cooking, it can get costly and time consuming. Today I'm posting a recipe that's super easy, inexpensive, time saving, and most importantly DELICIOUS! My mom gave this recipe to me last year and I love it.
The recipe makes two pies, which is why this is so inexpensive and time saving (b/c you can freeze a pie).

Here's what you need:

2 (9 inch) graham pie crusts

1/4 cup butter

1 (7 oz) package flaked coconut

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 (16 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 jar caramel ice cream topping

In a medium skillet, melt butter over low-medium heat. Add coconut and pecans. Toss well, and saute until coconut is lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add condensed milk and mix until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread 1/4 of cream cheese mixture into each pie crust.

Sprinkle 1/4 of coconut mixture over each pie

Drizzle 1/2 of caramel topping over each coconut layer.

Follow with remaining cream cheese mixture, then remaining coconut mixture. Then freeze.
I carried one of the pies to our Sunday School Christmas party last night. The other one is in my freezer for my work Christmas party. It will be nice not having to worry about fixing something the night before. See? Such a time saver! I hope this recipe helps you during this busy season.

On another note, I wanted to share this beautiful plate that I encountered today. Oh my goodness, is it not lovely?! It's made by Lenox. They have an everyday pattern called "Chirp" with little birds and turquoise around the edge. This is their Chirp Holiday and I love it. I wish these plates were available when I was registering for china....I may have to check some after Christmas sales for one plate...hmmm

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No Gracias

If you talk to me on a regular basis, you've heard me say "Gracias" many times. I like to the way it sounds and it makes me feel bilingual....even though that's the only word in Spanish that I really know. I took a mini Spanish course in college (it met like 10 times) and learned a few things and could remember them for a while, but now I'm back down to just "gracias" and the numbers, which I knew before the course. Anyway, I say the word a lot instead of saying "thank you". My students think it's fun but Cory, I think, gets tired of it because I say it with such pride and he knows it makes me feel like I look smarter.
Yesterday I went to Wal-Mart and needed a shopping cart. There were only a two left and they were stuck together. I pulled and pulled (and probably looked stupid) for a while but couldn't get the carts apart. Soon a Hispanic man came running to my rescue. He came up and started pulling one of the carts and said something very quickly in Spanish. I didn't understand what he said but then he motioned me to stop pulling and demonstrated what he thought would work while speaking words I couldn't comprehend. Don't worry, he was smiling the whole time so he didn't mind that I didn't understand him. He got the shopping carts apart and I was really happy. What do I say??? "THANK YOU"! He smiled and walked away. What?! The one time saying "gracias" would be truly appreciated and I say "thank you"....Such a missed opportunity! I really wanted to run up behind him and say it but then realized he probably understood "thank you" as I understand "gracias".
Well, gracias for stopping by my blog today. I hope you have a good one :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..

Well, actually it's been "looking like Christmas" in our apartment the week before Thanksgiving. I decorated before we left for Thanksgiving break so that when we came home it would already be done. Here are our decorations this year. Warning: there are lots of pictures.

Here's our front door. I got this wreath for 70% off last year. It was $6.23. Not to0 bad.

Our tree this year. You can't really see the ornaments in the picture.

Last year we didn't have a tree topper on our tree. I couldn't find one that I liked. I still can't, so I decided to make a bow myself. It's my first Christmas tree bow to make and it wasn't as hard as I thought. It's also not as pretty as the store's but the ribbon was half off and had red polka dots.
Here's our mini tree at the top of our stairs. A few years ago I bought a bag of cut ribbon from Hobby Lobby with no plan for them. I just thought the colors were pretty. I haven't used the ribbon for anything except tree decorations for the past 3 years. Anyone know a good ribbon craft?
This is on our toilet downstairs. The deer is actually a dog toy I got last year from Old Navy. I thought it would look cute on a kid's shelf one day.

Now for our kitchen decorations. I told Cory that we need more rooms so I can stick to a "theme" a room. The kitchen decor kind of clashes, but I wanted to put each thing out.
This is on our table. It's actually a wreath my mom bought me last year on sale. I just stuck a silver mercury glass candle holder inside of it.

This sits on top of our microwave. The plate is from my trip to All Fired Up.

This is where I said I needed more rooms because our nativity scene is on top of our pantry. It used to sit in our living room on my blue cabinet but now our television is on it. I had to put it out because it's my favorite. We got this for a wedding gift.
Last thing in the kitchen is one plate from my Christmas china. I like it because it looks vintage. I am actually not too crazy for the center design but love the holly around the edge. It's blackish brown leaves with tiny spots of pink and blue. I found the little tree on sale last year after Christmas. I thought the colors looked similar to the plate.

Now into our living room....

This is on our coffee table.

My sister, Angie, made this for me last year. It has lots of Christmas related words on it. I love it! Thanks again, sis! :)
I LOVE the way candy canes look & taste. I always put some out. I have another mug full in the kitchen.
Along the steps I have different sized gold mercury glass Christmas trees that I've been getting the last two years.
My mom always set this tree out with Christmas M&M's. She gave it to me last year, so now I can.
And that's all folks! (all that I took pictures of, at least) Thanks for looking if you made it to here. I hope everyone is having a great December so far.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ornament Branches

Today I'm sharing a simple Christmas decoration. I saw this idea from a Better Homes & Gardens magazine a few years ago, except they used real poinsettias.
All you need is a planter or vase of some sort (I used one that is white ceramic that is one of my favorite gifts I got when I got married), styrofoam, some branches or sticks from the yard, green ornaments, fake poinsettias, gold ribbon, and a hot glue gun.

First put some foam in the planter and insert your sticks.
Next get your ornament and hot glue a poinsettia to the top of it. In the magazine they actually filled the ornaments with water and used real flowers putting the stems inside the ornament. I personally think my way is better because this is the third year I'm using this and I haven't had to buy anything again. Anyway, tie some gold ribbon to the loop and then hang.
Here's the tree.

See? Very simple. Oh, and I don't use the same branches every year...they're always in stock in my front yard. :)
Have a dandy day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Silly me...

Back by popular demand: another paint masterpiece from me. Just kidding, but I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on my ice cream mountain that I posted a while back…or I guess I should say people have mentioned it.

This picture is based on a true instance that happened today. It’s a picture of me standing embarrassed because I got too excited about some dogs. For those of you who know me well, you know I love cute animals (ex puppies, kittens, woodland creatures like raccoons, foxes, etc). I search them on the Internet, I buy cards that feature them, and I have many books with their cute pictures. Basically, they make me smile. So the Friday before Thanksgiving, on my way to school, I saw 5 deer standing & eating on the edge of our school lot. I had never seen that many live deer all together and naturally got excited. As I pulled up in the parking lot two male co-workers were getting out of their cars and I jumped out (thinking that they saw the wonderful deer family too) and said, “Did you see the deer?! They were eating and having a good time!” And so on and so on…I even did a little hand motions. They didn’t seem that excited or impressed so I felt stupid and walked on to my room. Ok, fast-forward to today and I make a bigger fool of myself. Yesterday while driving home I saw two cute little dogs running down the street being buddies (it was actually the same place where I had seen the deer). They were running at the same pace and looked very similar. It was very cute. I was on the phone with Cory when I saw them and immediately stopped my car and exclaimed how cute the creatures were and told Cory I would take a picture of them so he could see how sweet it was. Well, they separated when I tried to take a picture so I just went on home. Today as I was walking out the door from school I see the two dog buddies! Again, they were just running along at the same pace and having a good time. I thought I was all alone in the parking lot and said out loud, “Oh, hey doggies. Let me take your picture.” I began to quickly search my purse for my camera and even said out loud again, “Hold on, don’t leave.” Then I hear, “Hey.” I quickly looked up to find one of the men who thought I was stupid for getting excited about the deer sitting in his truck directly in front of me, with his door cracked open. Embarrassing! I tried to play it off and be cool and then he said, “You like those dogs? I’ve seen them around here a time or two.” At this point, I drop my camera back in my bag, my face is red and I say, “Yeah, I said ‘hey doggies’ when I saw them because I wanted them to come here.” Then I said, “hey doggies” again to show that I was calling them over to me. Then one of the dogs came close to me so I reached down to pet it and it growled and kind of snapped at me. Talk about embarrassing! So this man saw me talking to dogs, then hears me explaining what I was saying to the dogs (in case he didn’t hear???), and then sees one dog almost bite me. I just walked away and said, “See ya later”.

I immediately called Cory mortified and all he did was laugh. So, maybe this can make you laugh as well….or at least make you feel a whole lot cooler than me. :)

Tomorrow there will be a Christmas craft.


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