Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homesteadin' it up

Sustainability has always been something of interest to me. I still remember the excitement of my first vegetable garden in middle school. And while I'm far from living off the land, I'm starting to do more and more activities that are "homemade."

I had been rooting around for more good gardening/homesteading reads (The Backyard Homestead is one I've been reading) when I discovered coldantlerfarm's blog. In the early entries, she had a post about making butter from whipping cream. I just so happened to have whipping cream left over from homemade French vanilla ice cream (which is far superior than anything store bought). So, I got to making butter.

After vigorous shaking for about 20 minutes, I found that, indeed, my whipping cream had turned to a butter-like consistency. After adding some salt and honey (my own addition), I'm excited to try it out on tomorrow's homemade whole-wheat waffles. Pictures will come tomorrow.... until then, here's the recipe!

Things You'll Need:

+ glass jar with tight lid
+ whipping cream
+ container for final product


1) Leave whipping cream out of fridge for 2-3 hours.

2) Fill glass container about half-full with whipping cream

3) Shake vigorously for 15-20 minutes.

4) Check consistency.... it should be like a whipped butter... not the thick, cold brick you buy at the store.

5) Put it in a container that's easy to access with a knife. Add whatever you'd like to spice it up. Salt is a common additive, but I also like honey butter, so I added some honey to taste.

6) Refrigerate to harden the consistency.


Christmas Recap

I'm getting terrible at remembering to take photos, especially around family events. The fact that we had a large suitcase, 3 dogs, crates, and presents to pack may have played a part in me "forgetting" the camera... but really, a big camera is just one more thing that we'll have to unpack after a long trip. So, this blog will just be a few of my favorite snippets of our Christmas, sans pictures.

It's not a secret that I hate playing games.... board games especially. I'm competitive, and I may or may not become another being altogether when playing them. BUT, there is one game that I have fun playing, and it's Pop 5 (a newer, pop-culture Cranium). It's so fun to see my family members act out, sculpt, draw, or hum something. My favorite might have just been when my very white brother-in-law decided to act out (without making ANY sounds) Bill Cosby. You might be asking yourself how, exactly, did he do this? He did the opening dance to the Cosby Show. I'll let your imagine take over now.

Two words: thumbprint cookies. Ahhhhhh, if I could only have one cookie for the rest of my life, those would be it.

My parents always get us scratch-off lotto tickets for our stockings. Usually, between all of us, someone wins it "big." This year, it was my turn. I won about $28 in total. Awesome! 

One word: slush. It's a tradition in my family to make this cold, yummy drink. It's the best tasting alcoholic drink... although it may have more sugar than alcohol, thus explaining its great taste.

My aunt came up for Christmas, and she was kind enough to make us an egg casserole. Now, I'm not an egg casserole-type gal. Most of them have soggy bread, which for a texture-person, is a deal breaker. BUT, this had no soggy bread and was DELICIOUS! What a surprising treat :)

I do believe we had a white Christmas. It snowed, and snowed, and snowed! Such a nice thing, considering in Alton, we usually just get ice. 

I hope all of you had a wonderful, memorable Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

You're looking at the champ

I said I was in it to win it, and by golly..... I did! I was among a few others who won for the "tackiest Christmas sweater" contest at school. My prize: 5 scratch-off tickets that could bring me a fortune (or 5 more free tickets). But who am I kidding.... the real prize was the look on people's faces as they saw my godawful monstrosity of a Christmas sweater.

p.s. I was told the puff paint on the pants was the thing that clenched it for me. You just can't beat the puff paint.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A little (tacky) Christmas cheer

This is what I'm wearing tomorrow:

That's right. It's a ugly Christmas sweater contest at school tomorrow, and I'm in it to win it. I've even embellished the pants (recognize the puff paints?), sweater (the poinsettias and Rudolph noses), and the turtle neck (with puff balls). And the crown jewel will be..... jingle bell earrings with snowmen on them. Tis' the season.... to be tacky :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

the ones I turn up loud...

I liked Waiting for Cider's idea... paying homage to the songs that you just can get enough of. For me, my list is lengthy and ever-changing. But, here are some of my absolute favorites:

500 Miles by The Proclaimers - It's been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it in the 90's. I danced to it then, and I dance to it now. It was the first song played at my wedding reception. You just can't stand still when you hear that bass.

The Way You Make Me Feel & Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson - My family can vouch for me: I was a Michael Jackson fiend. Black rolled-up jeans: had 'em. Black hat: check. White socks: you better believe it. I dressed like him. I pretended to sing like him (it helped that he was exactly in my range). I had a pretend microphone stand because of him. He was a great musician... if not the best one ever. I love most of his songs, but these two, for me, are as good as it gets.

Thunderstruck by AC/DC - Perhaps the greatest rock band of all time (Aerosmith also comes close... see below), AC/DC came into my life when my husband did. I heard this song and could not get it out of my head. It's catchy, it's rockin', and it makes me wish I could play the guitar half as good as Angus, the fifty-something-year old guitar player. They've been together over thirty years, and they rock like they're twenty. The best part .... they're better live than in studio. That's a tell-tale sign of a good band.

Dude Looks Like A Lady by Aerosmith - I'm ignoring all the latest "Steven Tyler is no longer a part of Aerosmith" bologne. The fact is... Aerosmith is nothing without Steven Tyler. I was fortunate enough to see these guys in concert last summer, and man.... they blew my socks off. I waited two hours in the pouring rain (severe thunderstorm warning and all) to see them, and they did not disappoint. Aerosmith is another band that sounds EXACTLY the same live as they do on their cd's. And this song, in particular, always gets me going. And the bitchin' horn section just makes the song.

The Luckiest by Ben Folds - Always soulful and perfect in his imperfections, Ben Folds is my all-time favorite. He's a master musician.... he understands theory and music at its core. I have the utmost appreciate for him, as he does everything himself. He plays most of his instruments (he's proficient at piano, drums, and guitar), and he's a gifted composer and lyrisist. He can make a one-man piano show rock so hard, you will wonder why you quit piano lessons in the fourth grade. I still regret it to this day.... 

I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You by Colin Hay - If I ever wrote a movie script, my movie would have this song as it's opener. Quiet and unassuming, this song makes you listen to its lyrics, and you realize how much you can relate to this song. And, of course, Colin Hay's slight Austrailian accent and slightly gruff voice makes it feel so personal... just like you're listening to him tell a story.   

Let Him Fly by the Dixie Chicks - It's a guilty pleasure of mine. I belt this one out whenever I'm home alone. I love that bluegrass influence and how simple the song is. Sometimes, just simple vocals and simple harmonies make the best songs. This one is an example of that. 

Leave by Glen Hansard - The movie, Once, was an awaking for me.... it solidified my love of Irish folk-rock. Artists like Damien Rice also fall into this category. This is the greatest break-up song.

Animals by Nickelback - Another guilty pleasure of mine. I know Nickelback catches a lot of flack from haters, but they seriously know how to rock. I've heard a recording live, and they still rock it. It's a horribly dirty song, but man, the drums and bass in this song will absolutely make you move. Need a good workout song? This one is it!

Okay, okay, I realize this post has taken on a mind of its own... sorry for the length. I could have added so many more, so here's the "runners-up" list.

Gardenia - Mandy Moore
Kerosine - Miranda Lambert
I Can't Dance - Phil Collins
La Grange - ZZ Top
Heatseeker & A Whole Lotta Rosie - AC/DC

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It's no secret that my husband has been the main reason I've been able to be a speech pathologist. He's been there emotionally, physically, and financially. Many years ago, when we were dating, we both knew that if we were to be together for the long haul, he would have to be willing to support me through my master's degree, and he didn't even hesitate. After graduating with a degree that didn't open a lot of doors, he soon realized that he needed to find a career he could enjoy and find meaningful. Teaching just so happens to be it.

Unfortunately, Illinois is quite the headache to deal with when wanting to go into education. The name of the game is jumping through as many hoops as possible.... and once you're done jumping, good luck trying to find a job. He's bounced around the idea of going back to school ever since I began grad school, and now, he's officially done something about it. He has been accepted into Greenville College's Master of Teaching program. It's a 2 1/2 year program with one class, one night a week, for seven weeks. It's for adults who already have a degree and wish to teach.

I have this overwhelming sense, much like a proud mama. Having recently gotten my master's, I know exactly what anxiety and fear he has right now. I know that it's hard for him to see the light at the end of the long tunnel. I feel nervousness for him, but he's worked really hard to get here. And I know he'll succeed in anything he puts his mind to. I'm really excited and happy for him. Congrats, baber :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Countdown

I know the last thing any of my non-teacher friends wants to hear is a countdown until winter break. But, the vacation time is definitely a perk to the job. In six days, I'll be off for a week and a half, and I can't wait. Work has been a bit crazy with teachers assistants being moved around and my good friend being left without anyone to help her out in her special education classroom. But not to worry, I've been providing all the friendly support (aka wine & listening ears).... and the vacation away can't hurt, either.

Plus, the special education teacher in my room is about to pop with a baby any day now, so that will add some new excitement to the work day. Working with a substitute teacher will be interesting, but I have a great class of kids, so I'm sure everything will work out just fine.

All I have to think about is getting through the next six days without the kids going crazy. We have some great Christmas activities planned, like a Polar Express party, in which we all are dressing up in pjs, having hot cocoa, and reading the book. Fun little activities like that is just another great reason to teach 5 and 6-year olds.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A sign?

I'm not much of a dreamer. Literally. I don't have dreams very often... or at least ones I can remember. But, a few days ago, I had one that was so vivid, it creeped me out.

In the dream, I was pregnant (that's enough right there to creep me out) and going into labor. I was in a bed, and Randy was the only other person there. He was getting ready to deliver the baby (yes, it continues to grow creepier). Then, all of a sudden, I had the baby.............. it was a boy................. and it was a dog. Yep. I had a dog baby. I can remember in my dream being horrified. How could I tell people that I had a dog baby? I couldn't be happy. But it was so real. Just crazy.

After thinking a bit about the meaning of it all, I don't think there was much meaning. The teacher that I work with is pregnant and due any day (actually, we thought we'd have to rush her to the hospital today), so maybe there's the pregnancy correlation. And I do have 3 dogs, so I'm surrounded by them constantly. Perhaps that's the dog correlation. Or, maybe I'm just meant to have dogs my whole life instead of kids. Whatever the reason, I'm just glad I don't have a dog as a baby. Yep. That would be weird.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just call me the best wife ever

I did it. I bought my husband the best (in his eyes) Christmas present ever. He is now a proud owner of a PlayStation 3. Well, he will be a proud owner once it comes in site-to-store. But, my credit card said that it is now ours, so yippee.

I'm not quite as against gaming systems as I once was. My husband isn't addicted. He doesn't choose games over me. Plus, it's also a blu-ray dvd player, so Randy is determined that I'll love it, too. He's supported me through many years of schooling, and he's been completely unselfish about it all. Since we recently paid off my college loan and car loan, I figured we could splurge a bit. I wanted to get him something completely fun and for him. As for me, I'll stick to the Wii.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tis The Season

For me, some years are easier than others to get into the Christmas spirit. This year... it was a bit of a struggle. But, on the day that was supposed to be designated for relaxation, I got some energy to do some decorating. It was a now or never type thing.

I must admit, I did downgrade a few things. Didn't put as many ornaments on the tree. Didn't put as many decorations outside. But it's better than nothing. After all, no one likes a Scrooge.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

From Moses to Mabel

In one day, we lost Moses to his forever family and gained Mabel. She's our new foster. Picked up from a puppy mill, she was overbred, and at 5-years old, she's no longer "valuable." Her last "contribution" will be the tax write-off the puppy mill owner will claim because giving up Mabel is considered a "donation." Sickening.

Anyway, Mabel is sweet, scared, anxious, loving, and all other sorts of contradictions. She wants to play but doesn't know how. She reminds me of a wild animal who doesn't quite trust humans but really wants to. She's quickly learning that her new place is good. She ate a little this morning and LOVED being outside in the fenced-in backyard. She loves to run, which is good for her, since she's quite hefty (you know, puppy mill cages don't allow for much exercise). She's been over bred and has sores on her legs and elbows from laying down on the hard wire crates. So, after a call to the vet on Monday and a whole slew of procedures that are coming her way, she'll be a new woman.

Without further ado... Mabel.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Joaquin Phoenix says "Happy Halloween."

From the side...

The real one. Pretty good, eh?

Friday, October 30, 2009

tatts + hair glue = school spirit

This whole week at school was dress-up week in celebration of being drug free. The slogan was "Being drug free rocks!" and on Friday, everyone was encouraged to dress like rock stars. At first, I grumbled about it. How does a rock star dress? Oh, right... probably pretty inappropriate for school. SO, how does an appropriate-for-school-and-drug-free rock star dress? No flippin' clue. And yes, I think it's quite ironic how we're promoting being free of drugs when dressed up as rock stars... you know, the people who have coined the phrase "sex, drugs, and rock and roll."

But I gave it a go... considering I am the new employee and want to look like I'm putting in the extra effort. So, after spending $8 on tattoo sleeves and lots (and lots and lots) of hair glue goop, I became a rock star.

At least I wasn't the only one...

It was a fun day had by all. And it's amazing how many people really thought my tattoo sleeves were real. Just for the record, I did not get sleeve tattoos..............yet. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where do I sign?

My school has officially accepted the new proposed contract. That means that I can officially work for the district... and I can officially get paid more. Score!

I went to my first union meeting where the negotiation team disclosed the proposed contract items, and things got a little heated (especially over a mandated direct deposit... who knew that was a hot button?). But, in the end, the vote came down to 91% acceptance rate. No strike. Hooray.

I'm excited to get my retroactive pay from August... and now, I have to go plan my outfit for tomorrow's crazy sock day. Gotta love workin' in an elementary building.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Finally fall

After weeks of looking for the first hint of fall color on the trees, I finally found it. The trees are beginning to turn here. It seemed to happen over night, and now that the colors have begun to emerge, they are turning so rapidly! It's a lot of waiting to see a burst of color; before you know it, it'll be gone. Such a great time of year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekend Fun

Everyone loves a 3-day weekend. Now that I work at a school, I get them more than usual. Because of the longer weekend, my parents got to come down to visit us. And we had quite the eventful weekend. Saturday was Randy's gig. Sunday was a football game for my Dad and Randy, and my mom and I took a trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden. So beautiful. After two full days of downpour, we were happy to have a weekend of sun.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More pics..

We still need some of the cute accent things for the house, but for the most part, we're in the "putting back together" stage. And with only a couple rooms that weren't touched, here is what we have thus far...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting there

So, I've been purposefully postponing showing pictures of the progress on the new guest room and office because I don't have it *exactly* how I want it.

But, alas, we're getting there. Comforter has been bought. Curtains for covering the closet were purchased. Throw in an adorable peacock decorative pillow... and we're rounding a couple hundred dollars (gulp). However, we still need to add pictures, perhaps a wreath, and maybe new curtains for the windows. Plus a rug... and more decorative pillows, and sheets.

Well, you get the idea. We have a ways to go, but the hardest work is done. Now, the money gets to do the talking. So, without further ado, here are the pictures so far. Keep in mind, we need to get some more things for the bedding... it looks a bit floral and green. Sheets and different pillows will break it up a bit. Plus, the accent things will help make it look not so... bland.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nothing can be easy

So our little flooring project has turned into a much bigger home improvement project all around. The floor in the guest room turned out so well, we decided to do the same thing to the office floor. And since grey walls just don't go well with the pretty cream floor, we pretty much have to redo the wall color there, too.

And since we're doing flooring and paint, we thought about room arrangements. Randy and I both spend much more time in the office, messing around on the computer and recording music. We really do need a bigger space for that, while we rarely have guests stay the night. So, the need for a bigger extra bedroom really isn't that great. Our solution? A room swap.

The guest bedroom is now becoming the office and vice versa. We think it will work out perfectly, and so does this website (very helpful!).

So, now, the new, bigger office is almost complete. The floor is done. Walls are painted. And my dear husband is working on the baseboards. We're so close to being ready to move in furniture and do it all over again in the new guest bedroom. There, we will have cream floors with matching cream walls. The accents will be lime, as planned in the last post. For our office, we chose "sweet basil" as the color. It's a mix between a light green and yellow. Very nice with the cream floors. Here's the progress...

(note: the pictures look a bit yellow-y...
the wall color isn't exactly represented well)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A whim

I get whims. Quite frequently. My poor husband has been so good at keeping up with my kicks and fads. And while they can be transient, once I have one, I usually go at it full-force ... until my impatience kicks in.

My whim this time was changing around our guest bedroom. It all started as my husband and I were playing the "if you could change any room in our house, which would it be?" game. We both agreed that the guest room has been neglected ever since I slapped some purple paint on the walls right after moving in. And honestly, I haven't felt like doing much in the home-project front since our major renovation about a year ago.

But I got the whim... the urge to do something. Paint? Yes. Decorate? Yes. Pull up the ugly green carpeting and hope that the wood floors underneath would be immaculate? Yes.

Well. They were not immaculate. With paint stains, and other unknown markings, we decided that the wood floor would need help. Randy (blesshisheart) wanted to refinish them. Ha! We've never done such work, and he always paints these projects rosier than they actually are. So, I proposed a little paint (I love painting... it can fix almost anything).

So, we started the project around 6:00 tonight, and after a trip to Lowes to get supplies, I can happily (and ache-ily) say that primer is now dry. The flooring is ready for its first coat of "city steam" paint (mostly a fun name for "off-white). And, at 1:15 am, I am off to bed. A good day's work.
Before... (really before, when the room was peach...
just look at the horrid green carpet)

Carpet is removed. Floor is sanded and ready for primer.
Primer is on. Already looks better!
Now, we just need a neutral wall color...

Some inspiration:

Friday, September 25, 2009

A day from hell... and it's only September.

I love my job. I'm glad I went through 6 years of not-so-fun schooling to get to do what I do. I love interacting with the children, and I love to see them succeed even when they don't believe they can. I even love working in a school... I get to wear comfy, but cute clothes and get off around 2:45. But there's one thing that I hate that I'm sure is a part of most workplace settings -- drama.

Today I got verbally attacked by a tenured teacher who has a reputation of clearing out rooms with her obnoxiously noisy, boisterous behavior. She loves to be a part of anything and everything, and you better believe she needs a power trip to feel important. Being a newbie, I suppose I was an easy target. Except she doesn't really know me and the fact that I don't mind a bit of confrontation, especially when I'm in the right.

After my kids got on the bus, I went down to check out my new digs. It's a small room (about 7"x 10") that's currently full of wooden cubbies and a cardboard shelf of extra kleenexes. I was surveying the room trying to decide where to put everything when this teacher came in and told me that everything could go except for the cardboard shelf. It needed to stay. After asking why, she replied that it was hers and that it had to stay there.

Hm. My room. My stuff needs a place. In a small room, a cardboard shelf of tissues really doesn't have a place. So, I told her that I would not throw it out, but instead, I would put it outside my door, so that she may find a new home for it.

I guess that set her off. She went from 0 to 60 in no time. In my face, at the top of her lungs, she began berating me and telling me the what for. I perhaps wouldn't have minded so much, except her whole entire class was behind her waiting for her to take them to the bus. The children's eyes were wide with fear, as she stood yelling at me, a fellow professional.

I calmly asked her to lower her voice, refrain from speaking to me in such a tone, and stop being so unprofessional in front of children.

Guess what seasoned teachers who think they are entitled to do whatever they please because they are tenured hate? When new teachers half their age tell them to act more professionally. Yep, she really didn't like that because she escalated her ranting and raging.

I then tried to rationalize with her. "But Mrs. Crazy, you have a whole classroom to store your kleenex, and I just have this small room. I need to have space for my speech materials, a table, and chairs."

There was no reasoning with her. All was lost. A few more spouts of anger was spewed my way until it was over. The teacher went on her way with scarred children in tow.

All the while, I hiked myself up to the principal's office to have myself a meeting with the principal and vice-principal. To my surprise, they were well aware of similar activities. I soon learn that Mrs. Crazy is quite the bully around school. She likes to berate people and push them to see how much she can walk over them.

Well, after filing a report and speaking to my mentor (which also happens to be a union rep), I feel much better. The principal, vice-principal, my mentor, a fellow teacher friend, and my c0-teacher are all on my side and were very comforting. I think in the end, I'm most proud of how I handled myself... it sure made me look better than it did Mrs. Crazy.

And on Wednesday, when the room becomes officially mine, there will be a nice cardboard shelve full of kleenexes sitting outside Mrs. Crazy's door.... with a mental note attached to it saying "It's my room... back off."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dream a little dream

Lookin' for our next house on .... so many to choose from... and so affordable.

Affordable, and Very Possible - It's very affordable and beautiful inside. To really appreciate it, check out the realty website and search using the MLS 90017596

Beautiful in White - While it could use some updating, the potential is great. Plus, 6 bedrooms would be nice. And a view like this...

Log cabin with land - It's been my dream to have a country log cabin with lots of land, trees, and animals (lots of room for pugs). I'm thinking it would be so nice to walk my 19.75+ acreage, have visitors stay in the separate studio/workshop, and pick from my orchard. Plus, this would be the road to my house:

Down Right Amazing - Where do I sign? Oh, you need that much in real money? Hm.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Official

Even though I technically graduated on May 7th, I just now received my diploma. Kinda makes me glad I didn't walk at graduation.... you know, shaking someone's hand while receiving an empty diploma folder seems to decrease the meaningfulness of the whole ceremony.

While the ceremony might have lacked in reality, the diploma does not. And since I worked hard for the degree (and I finally have an income), I decided to splurge a little on the framing. I wanted it to look nice and professional. Now, I just need to hang it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Guest

Meet Moses. He's adorable in every pug way. He's 5-years old, and he's quite the funny, loving boy. I'm quickly learning that I love every pug that comes through our door.... there hasn't been one that I personally don't want to permanently rescue. But alas, I can't keep all the pugs for myself. That would be selfish, since everyone needs to experience pug love.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


My favorite place to dine is the Melting Pot. I love the atmosphere. I love sipping wine in a dark nook with the smell of warm, melty goodness cooking in the steaming pot just inches away. I love that fondue slows the pace of a normal dinner to just over two hours. And while every course is amazingly delicious, there's no doubt that the best creation on Earth is waiting at the end of the meal: chocolate fondue of your choice (for us, it's usually the flaming turtle, which includes caramel, chocolate, and chopped pecans set ablaze right in front of our eyes).

Because the Melting Pot costs a pretty penny, we usually go for a special occasion (birthday? anniversary? half-birthday? .... let's go to the Melting Pot!). This time I decided to document the experience. This is just some of the yummy goodness.