Thursday, February 26, 2009

He's Back!

Last week the new season of Bill Maher started. Before "The Week" magazine "Real Time" was how I kept current on weekly happenings. He is super funny, super smart, super liberal, and tells it like he sees it. Since I agree with most of his politics, I enjoy the show a whole bunch. The last 8 years have been hysterical, mostly at GWs expense. When this season started I wondered what the angle would be now that we have a new, Democrat in office, but he didn't disappoint. I am in a perpetual state of laughter for the entire hour.
At the end of each show, he does a "New Rules" segment, the last rule being a commentary on a particularly sensitive issue. Most of the time they are very funny. This past week's was no exception. (NOTE: This is very crass, read at your own risk!)

"And, finally, New Rule: Stop pretending that other governments have nothing to teach us. From those socialists in Sweden, we can learn how to fix a banking crisis. And from our friends in China, we can learn how to punish the jerks who caused it. You know, the ones who took bailout money and bought private jets made out of rubies and veal.
This is Dick Fuld of Lehman Brothers. What a "dick" Fuld. He personally made $500 million in sub-prime mortgages, and he gets to keep it while you and I pay off his bad bets. This is Bernie Madoff. Bernie stole $50 billion, mostly from other Jews. For Jews, this was the worst pyramid scheme since the actual pyramids. Which brings me back to China. Now, a couple months ago, some greedy businessmen in China were caught spiking the milk they sold to children with melamine, a plastic-derivative which boosted the protein levels and, thus, their profits. Well, you know what the Chinese are doing to the businessmen behind their milk scandal? They're putting them to death. Talk about lactose intolerant. Now, am I saying we should treat the bankers who poisoned our financial markets with tainted investments the way China treated its poisoners? Please, we're not China. We're just owned by China. So, no, I don't think we should put all the bankers to death. Just two. I mean, maybe it's not technically legal, but, let's look at the upside. If we killed two random, rich, greedy pigs. I mean, killed. Like, blew them up at halftime at next year's Super Bowl. Or left them hanging on the big board at the New York Stock Exchange. You know, as a warning, with their balls in their mouth. I think it would really make everyone else sit up and take notice. This crisis is rooted in greed. And if two deaths shocked a society of 300 million into acting decently enough to avoid this in the future, well, they'd die as heroes. And, you know, it's not like collateral damage isn't built into our assessment of things. Cars kill almost 50,000 people a year, but we accept that as a fair price for being able to get around without riding on top of an animal. So, two dead bankers really starts to look like a bargain. And isn't that what they love? Bargains?"

It's over the top, but there is some truth to it, no? Sorry if this offended anyone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Over the last week or so I have been busy and haven't wanted to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking. I looked in my cookbook cupboard and pulled out a slow cooker cookbook. I don't remember where I got it and I don't think I've ever opened it before. I thought a slow cooker recipe would be ideal for my cooking mood. I found this one. It isn't something that can't be made outside of a slow cooker, but because it cooked for a long time everything was very tender and the flavors seemed to be more intense. Slàinte!

Slow Cooker Southwestern Chicken
2 - 15oz can corn, drained
1 - 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chunky salsa
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
1 cup Cheddar cheese (I used a little more to serve)
Tortillas (I prefer corn)

1. Mix corn, black beans, and 1/2 cup salsa together in slow cooker.
2. Place chicken breasts over mixture.
3. Pour remaining 1/2 cup salsa over the top of chicken.
4. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours
5. Before serving, use fork to shred chicken. The longer you wait, the easier it will be.
6. Sprinkle Cheddar cheese over the top of the chicken and stir into the slow cooker. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes.
7. Serve with warmed tortillas and any other condiments you like on tacos.
Note: Be sure to drain the corn and beans well, so it's not too watery. The cheese at the end will thicken it up a bit.

I will make this again for sure, but next time I will add some fresh cilantro to the tortillas before serving.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm Quitting the Bachelor - Episode 7

This show makes me so mad. All I have to say is...He didn't pick Jillian! The editors of the show certainly made it seem like she was a shoe-in, but of course, they tricked me! So now I don't care anymore, but here's a rundown, short and sweet!

Fantasy dates. New Zealand. Jillian. Molly. Melissa. Jillian says she's into him, a lot. Molly says she loves him. Melissa says she loves him. Jason picks Molly and Melissa. Jillian cries and tells him she loves him. Jason cries. And still no Deanna! Stupid show!

Opinion Alert: My friend Cassandra's opinion actually: Jason wanted to pick Jillian but she was the only one who didn't say she loved him. My feeling is, wouldn't some guy rather pick a girl who had strong feelings but couldn't yet say she loved him after only a couple of weeks of knowing each other. In the real world most people need a little more time to say it. I think those other girls are crazy for saying it so soon and he's crazy for picking them. That's my two cents.

Next week isn't even the finale, but rather "The Bachelor Tells All" reunion show where all the women confront Jason and each other and they show flashbacks. You know I'll watch, but I'm not gonna like it!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

100 Things To Do Before...

Jason did this one for his 40th. I think it's an interesting list of random facts. I'm at 53%

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band – that’s one I’d love to have done
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Bathed in a river
7. Been to the Taj Mahal
8. Walked on a glacier in Alaska
9. Caught and held a snake – are you frickin’ kidding me?
10. Spoke in front of a big crowd
11. Bungee jumped
12. Had a whirlwind love affair that broke your heart
13. Found an arrowhead or fossil
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Rescued an animal
16. Ate sweet breads, glands or tripe
17. Seen Mount Rushmore in person
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hiked to base camp on Mt. Everest
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort – we barely get enough snow for a snowman
25. Watched an animal being born
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Learned a foreign language – I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t conjugate verbs for the life of me.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice – yes to Venice, no to gondola ride, maybe this spring
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Stayed up for more than 24 hours
31. Trained a dog to do cool tricks
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Can drive a stick shift car
37. Won over $1000 in a raffle or lottery
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person – hopefully this spring
39. Gone rock climbing – does hiking count?
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Been serenaded
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Broke a bone
47. Started your own business
48. Quit a job because you were totally unhappy
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the Eiffel Tower
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain passionately
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Joined a prayer group
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. Received flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
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 something extremely expensive
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Got a tattoo
83. Been to a coffee shop in Amsterdam
84. Seen the aurora borealis in person
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
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Toured the UN
95. Hiked to Machu Picchu
96. Swam in the Indian Ocean - I've seen it, but didn't swim in it.
97. Conversed with someone when neither of you spoke each others language
98. Dirty danced
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Acted in a play

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

No, no, it's not my birthday (thank goodness!). One year ago today the Pumpkin Delight Blog was born. I can't believe I remembered since I missed the 100th post milestone, but that's neither here nor there. In order to follow in the footsteps of some great bloggers, I was planning on reposting one of my most commented on posts, but since today is Tasty Tuesday, I didn't
want to break tradition, so, I am reposting my most favorite dessert recipe - Red Velvet Cupcakes. Maybe you'd like to make them this week to celebrate my blogibirthday! Slàinte!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
4. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.
5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
6. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled.
7. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth.
2. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated.
3. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Bachelor - Episode 6

I'm getting a little tired writing these posts, but with only a couple episodes left, I don't feel I can stop. So here's the rundown, in a nut shell...
This week the four remaining bachelorettes took Jason home to meet their families.
First up was Jillian (the hot dog girl). Jillian and Jason met in for a glass of wine before heading to meet her family. Jillian told Jason that her mother had suffered from serious depression for several years, but was now doing well. Jason was happy that Jillian told him and felt that it explained why Jillian had not opened up as much as some of the other girls. He had a great hometown visit with Jillian's family. They liked Jason and Jason liked them. Yay!
Jason visited Molly next. They played golf before heading over to her parents' house wore they were funny hats and Jason drew a picture for Molly. Jason also seemed to like Molly's family a lot. Molly said that she would not date a man who her parents didn't like so there was some pressure on Jason, but the parents seemed to like him as well.
Jason's next visit was Naomi. Much to Naomi's horror this date included a bird funeral, hula hoops, and grilling Jason about his faith.
The last hometown date was Melissa. Before meeting her family, Jason and Melissa met up at a park and she tells Jason she has some bad news; her family doesn't want to be on camera so he will be meeting some friends of hers instead. Jason, Melissa, and her friends seemed to have a fun night, but Jason found out that only one of those friends had ever met Melissa's parents, and that was only one time. Jason thought that was a bit odd.
The rose ceremony was pretty low key. Jason gave roses to Molly, Jillian, and Melissa.

At the end of the show, Jason told the remaining women that they would be traveling to New Zealand for their fantasy dates. Opinion Alert: I still like Jillian best.

Finally, the previews showed that Deanna might be back in episode 7. I'm looking forward to some drama!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Buddy Valentine

So my new BFF Faiqa over at Native Born bestowed the "Great Buddy Award" on me. I am honored because she is smart and writes about really important and interesting things; things much more important than recipes and The Bachelor updates.

After some research, I have found that this award is kind of funny, not funny ha, ha, but funny, huh? It seems there was this "Great Buddy Award". It shows a group of people holding hands and frolicking on a beach. I am assuming they must be great buddies and that is why they are frolicking.

This award felt strange to a blogger called LeSombre. He didn't like the frolicking beach scene and instead created the new and improved "Great Buddy" Award.

You see, a great buddy is someone who, if necessary, would help you move a body. And I, of course, would help Faiqa. She's so smart, she'd have a good reason to move a body, so I wouldn't object.

So, it's now my job to reward some great buddies! Note: If the body buddy is too morbid for you, please feel free to use the frolicking beach buddy instead. The choice is yours.

Happy Wife, Happy Life - Tracey's blog is light and fun, plus she is also a fellow Hugh Jackman stalker.

LMNOP - Down-to-Earth, crazy (aren't they all) kindergarten teacher Marey championed the holiday fundraiser with great success!

Hula Hank - My "down under" mafia husband.

Life with Kaishon - Isn't Becky just the nicest blogger evah?

Almost Famous - Jen is someone who will totally appreciate the body buddy award. I know she would help me move a body and we'd laugh the entire time.

The Jason Show - What can I say, a blogging great! He gets so many comments he probably won't even know he got this award, but he'd also help move the body and we'd laugh just as much.

The Rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog. (You can pick between the creepy hand holding one and the creepy body toting one).

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Award some other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on yours

5. Let the other bloggers know they received your award.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Current Event Apathy

I have been having a crisis of current events lately. I don't watch the news on television because that news is just geared towards ratings and the majority of that news isn't really news. It's just stupid people doing stupid things and I get mad when I watch it, so I don't. When I travel out of the country I am amazed at the amount of real news that is shown. News that isn't about the idiot car chases, or about the murder suicides, or IRAQ. Did you know that there are other countries in the world other than the US and Iraq? I also don't read the newspaper because I don't have time to sit down for an hour or two every day to get through all of it. So I have been left in a perpetual state of ignorance about what is going on in the world, unless of course it's the Bill Maher, Real Time season where I do get an overview, albeit quite liberal, of the week's events. I have been left with a feeling of apathy, which is a feeling that I hate.

I was mentioning this to Jason a few months back and he told me about a weekly magazine called the "The Week" that Pietro, his father-in-law, reads. The magazine gives a quick rundown of the previous week's news, and it's news from all over the world. I was intrigued!
I received my first issue the weekend of the Presidential Inauguration. The magazine is right up my alley. It's a quick read and to the point; just about 30 pages. I'm already feeling smarter and I've only read 2 1/2 issues.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

I made this as an appetizer for last weekend's Super Bowl. This is a regular staple in my appetizer repertoire an it's always a hit, plus it's super easy! Slàinte!

Mexican Cheese Dip
4 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 small can diced green chilies
dash of garlic powder
1 small can chopped olives
2 chopped tomatoes
tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. In a large bowl, stir cheese, mayo, chilies, and garlic powder until mixed thoroughly.
2. Add 1/2 can of olives to mixture. Save remaining olives for later.
3. Spread mixture into baking dish.
4. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is melted and just bubbling, about 15 minutes.
5. Sprinkle chopped tomatoes and remaining olives over the top.
6. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sorry the picture is a little blurry because I was being knocked aside by football fans pushing and shoving to get to this dish. Before leaving, I wrote the recipe down for 3 other people. I promise you, it will be a hit!

Note: I know many of you are thinking, "I thought she didn't like mayonnaise?" That's right, I don't! I can't think about it too hard, but because it's all cooked up, I can't tell it's in the dip. The worse part is scooping it out of the jar into the bowl. My 1 cup measurement is always a bit skewed because I look away and sing really loud to myself so I don't have to see it or hear it. Once it's cooked up though, you never know it's there!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Bachelor - Episode 5

This week Jason and his ladies traveled to Seattle to see Jason's hometown. That was a bit early in the series for the the Bachelor to go to the bachelor's hometown. The visit usually happens when it's down to the last two women and they get to meet the bachelor's family. However, since Jason has a son, he wanted to get home to see him so he brought the girls along.

Chris Harrison, the host, met the girls in Seattle and told them that there would be two one-on-one dates and a group date. Melissa got the first one-on-one date.
Jason had Melissa over to his house so he could put his son to bed and then hang out together at the house, "Just like real life." Opinion Alert - Jason seems to like Melissa. She says all the right things, but is that all it is? She seems really young to me, but that's probably just because I'm an old bag. Jason's almost 10 years older than she is and it shows.
Later in the show, Jason took Stephanie, Molly, and Jillian on a group date. They stopped by a radio station and were interviewed. When asked who he thought was the best kisser, Jason answered Molly.
Stephanie - the widowed mother.
Molly - Not really sure much about her, she kind of came out of nowhere
Jillian (Yes Hula Hank, the hot dog girl is still in it.) Opinion Alert - I like her the best.
Afterwards Jason took them to dinner and they each had some alone time with him. All three of the girls told him they were developing feelings for him.
Naomi went on the last one-on-one date with Jason. This was their first one-on-one date. She told Jason that her family life has been less than desirable, but even so they had a good time.

Before the Rose Ceremony, Jason took Jillian out for some coffee. He sensed that she was not herself over the last couple of episodes. She told him that she had come on the show for the experience and didn't expect to fall for him. She said that it had been hard for her knowing that all the girls had feelings for him and they were all great girls. He told her not to worry about the others, instead she needed to take care of herself.

Just as the Rose Ceremony was about to begin, Jason stopped it and asked to speak with Naomi again. She told him that she could see herself living in Seattle with Jason.

At the Rose Ceremony Jason give roses to Jillian, Melissa, Molly, and Naomi, in that order. That left the widowed mother without a rose. Jason walked her outside and they both agreed that they liked each other, but it just wasn't meant to be.

In Episode 6, each of the four remaining girls takes Jason home to meet the families. I'm still waiting for the Deanna drama.

Have you been watching? If so, what's your take on who's left?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

And the Muppets Win By A Landslide!

Last week my 2nd graders earned a "Marble Party" by accumulating 100 marbles in a jar for outstanding classroom behavior since August. I told them that it was their party and they could democratically plan the party according to the majority's votes. After a short discussion, three choices were agreed upon - A Pizza Party, A "Potluck" Party, and A Rootbeer Float Party - I know how cute is that? Then we took a vote and the "Potluck" Party and the Rootbeer Float Party tied. Collectively we decided that we could do both. I would provide the rootbeer floats and if students wanted to bring in treats to share with the class, they were allowed to to do that. This year's class is sooo easy going that I could have just given them all a hug or high-five for the "Marble Party" and they would be thrilled, so a combination "Potluck"/Rootbeer Float Party is so fantastic they can hardly stand it. "I'm so excited!" one student exclaimed waving his hands, fanning his face.

I promised the kids that during the party I would show them a movie as well. I found a few movies that I could access to show on my "magic" whiteboard, and the next day we voted on them. Their choices were Madagascar, Meet the Robinsons (which I kept referring to as Mrs. Robinson), Ratatouille, and the Muppet Movie. I added the Muppets to the list at the last minute because in December I showed them the Muppet Christmas Carol after studding families/traditions in England. They really enjoyed it so I thought, "What the heck, this will give them another choice."

Much to my surprise, the Muppet Movie took all but a couple of the votes. The kids were thrilled with the choice. Now, as someone who grew up in the 80s, I love the Muppets. They are a hoot! I was really surprised though that the kids would be so excited about them. The Muppets aren't sleek and sassy (except for Miss Piggy of course) and the shows and movies certainly aren't fast paced. As a teacher, every year I see attention spans reduce and expectations increase as our world's technology advances. More of my kids have video games than books, so this vote threw me for a loop. I'm thrilled that my kids want to see a movie that's not popular and trendy and not only did they vote for it, they can't stop talking about it. The Marble Party is this Friday and all week they've reminded me that it is this Friday. "Don't forget the movie," they tell me. "I think that movie is going to be so funny," they tell each other. It's really very sweet.

Did you watch the Muppets (shows or movies) when they were popular? Who were your favorites? I think all the characters were very funny, but the two old guys who heckled in the theatre crack me up!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Yes, yes, pasta again! This is an easy one and quite fresh and light too. You can follow the recipe exact, or change up the vegetables for a little variation. Slàinte!

Tomato and Sausage Pasta

1 pound pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried basil)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Begin boiling water for pasta.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil and sausage; cook through until no longer pink. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add onion and garlic to skillet. Add broth, basil and tomatoes with liquid.
3. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook according to package directions.
4. Cook sausage mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes to slightly reduce. Add chopped asparagus (or any vegetables); cover skillet and simmer on reduced heat until asparagus is tender. About 10 minutes.
5. Drain pasta and pour back into hot cooking pot.
6. Add sausage mixture and Parmesan cheese to pasta. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Cover pot and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
7. Sprinkle top of each serving with Parmesan cheese.
Some other vegetable options are spinach or chopped broccoli (about 10 oz, fresh or frozen work well).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Bachelor - Episode 4

Last week's episode started out with a singing contest for the girls. They had to write and sing their own song about and to Jason. The winner was Molly and she left with Jason for a one-on-one date back as Jason's "house". Jason gave her a rose and it ended up being an overnight date where Molly and Jason spent the night together in a tent just outside the house. With the tent zipped, making out noises were heard. The girls' house became frenzied when Molly returned the next morning wearing Jason's clothes.

Jillian, Lauren, Shannon, Megan, Melissa and Naomi join Jason for a group date on the set of General Hospital. They were each given a scene with Jason which included a kiss. It was really quite comical to see them act (which they really weren't so good at) and freak out that all the girls were going to kiss him. Opinion Alert: Hello...This is the Bachelor. When are the contestants going to understand that the bachelor is going to kiss them other women. At the end of the date Naomi received a rose.

Stephanie and Nikki waited at home feeling sorry for themselves since they were chosen to go on a double date with Jason. They knew that once on the date, only one of them would received a rose and stay on the show. The other one would be leaving the show. Jason danced with both of them, one at a time, and ate with them together. In the end, Stephanie got the rose and Nikki was sent packing. Opinion Alert: I liked Nikki, but she was very particular and organized which made it hard for her to open up to Jason.

At the rose ceremony, the 5 remaining women vied for 3 remaining roses...or so they thought. Jason gave a rose to Melissa and Jillian right off the bat. As he began to say the last name, he paused and told them he couldn't give out the final rose. He told them that he didn't want to lead any of them on because he didn't see a future with any of them. So Megan, Lauren, and Shannon were also sent home. Opinion Alert: Megan was the one who seemed to attract the drama, Shannon was quite stalkerish, and Lauren spent most of their group date bossing Jason around. I think he made a good decision.

There are 5 women remaining in the house - Jillian, Noemi, Molly, Melissa, and Stephanie. I think I still like Jillian the best, but that could just be the editing. We shall see what happens on the next episode on Monday night.