Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Merry!

Merry Christmas from Vienna!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Christmas Favorite #3

Blog-writing brain still not working.  This will have to do. :)  Jimmy Fallon and the Roots doing their Music Room segment.  One of my fave Christmas songs. 

The countdown continues…only 3 more days.  Are you all ready for Christmas?

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Christmas Oldie (and Favorite #2)

Who doesn’t need a good laugh this time of year.

Only 5 days to go!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Christmas Favorite

Between wrapping up the LAST WEEK of SCHOOL BEFORE BREAK (which is moving at a snail’s pace by the way), practicing our 2nd grade holiday program, and preparing for my trip, blog writing is not coming easy.  I’ve pulled out the lap top a few times, intending on writing a post, but my brain is not working right now unless it’s dealing with of the above, and even that might be overreaching.

Anyhow, this is one of my favorite “Christmas stories”.  David Sedaris is an author/humorist who writes wonderful memoirs.  This story comes from his book Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy.  I thought of it this morning while I was getting ready for work and found it on YouTube.  I left the house chuckling this morning. 

It’s a long video.  The Christmas part begins at 3:05, but the part before puts the story in some context.  Enjoy!

I hope holiday preparations are going smoothly.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Timing is Always Off

After being invited to a cookie exchange party I scoured the internet looking for an easy and tasty cookie recipe.  Since I don’t bake very often, I don’t really have a go-to recipe.  Initially, I was going to find an easy bar cookie or some type of bark candy, both being easy to throw together and then cut/break after finished.  But then I laid my eyes on these Cinnamon Roll Cookies on Picky-Palate’s cooking blog.  Being a fan of anything with cinnamon, I opened the link and quickly scanned to see if it was something a non-baker could handle.  The recipe seemed fairly straight forward, with pictures even.  Sold!  The ingredients were purchased after work on Friday, with plans to make the cookies Saturday evening.

My mom arrived this week and she and I spent most of Saturday downtown at the Renegade Craft Fair.  It was a beautiful (actually on the warmer side in the sun) and leisurely day. 

After some Christmas and personal shopping we headed home late afternoon.  Before starting the cookies I took care of a couple of chores and walked the dog.  The cookie recipe looked very straight forward, 9-11 minutes in the oven, no problem.  So about 6 PM, the cookie baking began.  At that time, I figured after about an hour, maybe two, the they’d be done. 

I underestimated the time by HOURS!  The base of the cookie is a fairly straightforward sugar cookie recipe.  I whipped that up in my stand mixer and divided the dough into two rounds.  Then I moved down to the next step in the recipe where the instructions said to chill the dough for 2 hours.  Ummmmm…I hadn’t noticed that amount of time in my initial scan.  So in the fridge it went, and now running 2 hours behind schedule. 

On the bright side, a friend of mine who works for the CBS lent me an advanced DVD copy of the new movie, Last Vegas.  The two hour delay gave us a chance to watch it, cookie baking free.  It was cute.  I wouldn’t recommend paying $15 to see it at the theater, but it’s definitely a fun at-home rental. 

About 8:30, the dough was ready to work and I was ready to get started, again.  The next step was to divide the dough and roll it into flat ovals.  Then the ovals were smeared with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, rolled into logs, and sliced into the little cookies.  Now, this was not hard in the least, but it was very time consuming.  My initial, “Oh, it’s only 9-11 minutes for each batch,” turned into about 45 minutes from (start to finish) for each batch…and the dough made 6 batches. 

photo 3Finally about midnight, the last batch of cookies was slightly cooled and frosted.  I got them stored away for the night and fell into bed.  To my (or the recipe’s) credit, they are delicious cookies, but to be honest, after 6 hours of preparing them the last things I want to do was see another cinnamon roll cookie.
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They were a hit at today’s cookie party, but seriously, this is why I don’t bake.  While I’m kind of a pro with time management in every other aspect of my life, baking always laughs in the face of my confidence. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Windy Reminder

In addition to the cold weather, the winds picked up this week.  Windy, might be an understatement with the 65 mph gusts that arrived on Sunday night.  Personally, I like the wind.  The air quality is so much better.  I also kind of like being cozied up inside the house when it sounds like the rest of the world is blowing away.  However, dealing with 7 year olds in the wind is an entirely different story.

The work week was off to quite a start when I walked out to the playground to pick up my class first thing Monday morning.  After saying good morning a cold gust tore through the yard behind us and, as if right on cue, the entire class toppled forward with gasps and screams.  The wind took hold of jackets, skirts, and scarves yanking the kids around with more screams.  Hats were knocked off as we walked to class through what looked like leaf tornadoes.  Within the first 5 minutes of my week, the kids spent about 3 of them screeching about the wind.  For three consecutive days every time we opened the door, walked outside, heard the wind against the building, I cringed, waiting for someone to fall apart. 

By Tuesday afternoon, most of the staff had had it up to HERE with the wind!  My assistant principal, who visits a few 2nd graders on a daily basis and who noticed how the wind was creating monsters out of said kids, walked past me mumbling to herself about the wind.  “I think it’s a scientific fact that the wind makes them CRAZY.”  I think so too.

When I got home that night, trying to unwind from the insanity, the thought of the kids falling apart in the wind reminded me of this time of year when I was still riding horses.  As much as I like windy weather, when riding, just like when teaching, I don’t care for it.  Thinking back on those days, we dreaded taking the horses out in that weather.  The wind made them so high and extremely skittish.  When a gust of wind would come up behind them they’d tuck in their butt and bolt forward.  To this day, I still have the muscle memory for their (and my) reaction to the wind.  Even worse, these strong winds we get ripping in between the mountains are very noisy – in addition to the gusts themselves the wind knocks things over that aren’t secured and shakes and clatters those things that are.  When the crossbars or standards of a jump would blow down, or a gate would slam loudly, or the wind would rattle through the barn the horses spooked.  It made both them and us nervous wrecks. 

Horses and second graders have a lot in common when it’s windy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


We have cooled significantly this past week.  While it was almost 80 degrees on Monday, the temperature has droppeed and dropped and dropped some more since then. 

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I turned off the heat when I left the house this
afternoon because I planned on being gone for the day.  When I returned about 2 hours ago, my house was sooooo cold. 

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I also came home to a puppy who found a warm spot to curl up in.
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Finally, a Green Bean Casserole Explanation

The family Thanksgiving dinner took place at my cousin’s house this year.  Thankfully, it was a low key affair.  The non-crazies out numbered the crazies this go round which made for a short nice, uneventful Thanksgiving.  The calm nature of the day allowed me to solve a mystery of sorts.

My cousin’s wife Cheryl has made a Thanksgiving green bean casserole for as long as I can remember.  I’ve never been a fan of green bean casserole.  I think it’s the cream of mushroom soup which has a very distinct flavor and kind of takes over anything that it’s in.  Anyhow, I’ve always quietly passed it over when making my plate without making mention of it (and without anyone else making mention of it either). 

Starting about 3 years ago though, each time we met for Thanksgiving, Cheryl started pointing out to me, personally, that she didn’t forget to make the green bean casserole.  I didn’t understand her need to notify me of her meal contribution, but I often don’t understand my family so I always just nodded with a fake smile, said something like, “Oh, ok,” and left it at that.  But then felt guilty passing over the casserole so spooned a small amount onto my plate to choke down.  Last week’s holiday was no exception to this new green bean casserole reminder/guilt eating.

As dinner wound down we reminisced about Thanksgivings past, telling funny stories.  Stories were shared about dropping platters of various parts of the Thanksgiving meal (surprisingly there have been many) and Cheryl shared one…About three years ago, while taking the green bean casserole out of the oven, she dropped it.  After getting it all cleaned up, the meal was served – sans green beans of course.  While we all ate, everyone oooh-ed and ahh-ed about the meal as we usually do.  Then I shockingly chimed in with something sarcastic like, “It’s just too bad there isn’t any green bean casserole.”  Since then, Cheryl has made it her mission to make sure this dish was served because I LIKED IT SO MUCH.

Mystery solved!  And for my penitence I have to eat a spoonful of that darn casserole for the rest of my life. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

How is it Freaking December Already!?!?!

The months keep clicking off the calendar.  It’s hard to believe we are 29 days away from 2014…ugh!

Here’s this month’s calendar for November’s Calendar Challenge at The Kathryn Wheel.  I went outside my usual calendar style, and I’m pleasantly surprised.   Once it was done, filling in the dates was a cinch. 

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There wasn’t a lot of time to work in the journal or the sketchbook this month, even with the week off, but I did manage to play around a bit…stuff 342stuff 341 stuff 340    stuff 339

I spent a lot of time making some baby shower invitations for a friend...52 in all!  They turned out cute, and she really likes them, which makes me happy.

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Happy December!  The countdown to 2014 has begun…