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.