Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

This year has seen:
Old friends moving
New friends being made
Best friends staying connected
Date night resurrected
Menus planned in advance
Backaches healed
Gym memberships going unused
Bicycles ridden (lots)
Spend the night parties
Overnight camp
Whirlwind trips
Amazing loss
Amazing strength
Hugs across the Internet
The Grand Canyon
A trolley ride
Blog Beginnings
Middle School
Learning a new camera
Starting new traditions

In 2011 I'm going to:
Be more patient
Get healthier in all senses of the word
Be more in the Word
Be present in the present
Enjoy my life

Happy New Year to you and yours. What are the possibilities in your life this New Year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Friends or Just Neighbors?

A new blog I found called Little Miss Momma has a linky party going on. It's a list linky party- all the stuff you think people should know about you if you're going to become BFFs. 
I wanted to play along, so here is my list. 
I hope we'll still be friends at the end.

I believe in God, Southern hospitality, good manners, standing for the Pledge and the National Anthem and for the Hallelujah Chorus.

I cry at sappy commercials, good chick-flicks, seeing my kids' performances, most anything patriotic and especially seeing pictures of our troops returning home.

I hate messes. For me a clean house means a happy mom. My children do not share this sentiment.

I have 3 kids. I never thought I'd have 3, but "surprise" #3 came along and he's fitting right in!

I do not like people who talk  loud on their cell phones. I really don't want to know your personal drama. I've got enough drama of my own.

I love to cook and bake, but I'm the worst hostess. 

I have one best friend- I've had her for almost 25 years. So when I meet someone and we become BFFs, it lasts.
My bff and me in Philly

Grocery shopping is my least favorite thing to do.

I'm never happy with my hair. I'm always changing the cut/color. You'll notice that if I post pictures of me. My hair is always different.

I've lived in the same place pretty much my whole life. I'd love to move away to Colorado.
(but that is not happening any time soon.)

I love to read. Especially historical biographies. (I'm a nerd.)

I really like Bon Jovi. And most other late '80's early '90's rock.
Taken from 4th row of the concert with my great. Love me some Bon Jovi!

When I was younger, I wanted to be president of a cosmetics company. I ended up becoming an elementary school teacher. 

I asked my husband out on our first date.

I love love love cold weather. I like warm weather, but not the clothes. 

I LOVE DISNEY WORLD! My honeymoon was spent there and we go back often with our kiddos.

If I could have a turtleneck swimsuit, I'd have one. 

I'm not crafty. At all. But I love to blog surf and try new stuff out.

Laundry is my 2nd least favorite thing to do because it's never done.

I think written Thank You notes are highly underrated.  Everyone should write them and mail them. Emails do not count.

I've done a marathon. I've also done ride/run races. I'd love to do a triathlon, but I'm terrified of swimming in water I can't see through.
At the end of the ride/run with my partner, Mags. It was dirty.

Ok. That's enough about me. Tell me about you- or link up to Little Miss Momma and share!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Countdown

December 20th. Not too much longer to get those presents bought, wrapped and under the tree.

I'm still stuck in my house of sickness- with me being the only healthy one.  Day 1,213.

Not really that many days, but enough that I've started counting. And praying extra hard for health for my family and the families of my friends who've been infected with the flu, fever virus, pneumonia or whatever other ailment has descended upon our homes this final week before Christmas.

So while I go and Lysol something or wash yet another load of sheets in hot water, I'll leave you with a picture that reminds me what the true spirit of Christmas is....

I bring you good tidings of great joy. For unto us this night is born in the city of Bethlehem the Savior, Christ the Lord. and his friends, T-Rex and Ramone were there to celebrate as well.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chicken French Fry Casserole

That title screams "Amazing Chef On Premises", doesn't it?
The name sounds kitchy, I'll admit, but it is a good recipe. So good, in fact that everyone in my house eats it with no complaints. None. Zero. Nada.
And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

Without further musings, here's the recipe!
I started taking pictures after I had started cooking, so I don't have the pretty picture with all the ingredients. Here they are listed out.
2 packages boneless skinless chicken breasts, 2 cups reserved chicken broth, 1/4 cup butter, 1 10oz can Cream of Celery Soup, 1/4 cup flour, 1 10 oz package frozen carrots and peas, 1 tsp salt, another 1/2 stick butter, Parmesan cheese, 1 pkg frozen french fries.

Cook, cool and shred chicken by poaching it in seasoned water. (Just add salt, pepper OR you can use low or no sodium Chicken Broth)  Save 2 cups of broth.  Put the shredded chicken in a 9x13 buttered pan. (I use Pam here)

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a pan; add 1/4 flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 cups broth, 1 can Cream Celery Soup and cook till smooth.

In another pan, cook the peas/carrots for 3 minutes. NOT till they're done, just so they're not still frozen solid.  Drain and mix with the sauce. Pour this over the chicken.

I only had frozen peas this night....usually I use peas/carrots or whatever frozen veggies I have on hand.

Melt the other stick of butter in a large pan and stir in frozen french fries. You won't use the entire package, but just about all of one regular sized package. I had the smooth french fries, but crinkle ones work just as well.
Coat the french fries in butter and spread them on top of the casserole.  Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the french fries are golden and the sauce is bubbling.

This can be put together earlier and refrigerated.  If this is done, bake for 35 minutes instead of 25 min.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I've Been Assembling

Duh Duh Duh....Another one bites the dust!
Duh Duh Duh....Another one bites the dust....
And another one's gone and another one's gone
Another one bites the dust.
Hey, it's gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust!

This is my theme song for the past week. This illness has gotten each family member in turn. Never are two people at the same stage of sickness at the same time. One is better and I'm fine, but the other three are still in varying stages of sick. Fab. 

So while my family is spread out in my house watching tv, reading, crafting, just trying to get better, I've kept my healthy self in the kitchen assembling stuff. 
Food stuff.  I think I've gained 10 lbs because of the tasting I've done. 
I've assembled things like this-

The candy cane kisses....those are some addictive little buggers. The second picture is with rolos. My personal favorite. I put these in mason jars and attach the poem I found here for M&M Nativity story. I'd never seen it and I think it is cute. 

I also assembled this-
Homemade caramel popcorn. This stuff should be illegal. It is truly awesome. I'd share the secret family recipe, but it is a secret family recipe.  

I tried to make these....
but ewww...I ended up ruining really good Rice Krispy treats.  Must. Use. Better. Chocolate.

I did bake one thing...
Orange glazed poppy seed bread.  I got the recipe from another blog and you can find it here.  Easy bread to make and especially yummy.  Especially. 

Finally, I took all of my assembled things and assembled them into this-
which is for my new neighbors down the street. 
Here's the front view of the bucket...
I broke out the chalkboard paint and painted a little spot to write on.  In my next attempt, I'll use the regular chalkboard paint and not spray chalkboard paint.  The spray paint is why my little writing spot is so small.  It seemed so simple to get a piece of paper and cut out a rectangle where I wanted to paint.  "Seemed so simple" are the important words here. What would have been simple was to have a CAN of chalkboard paint. Then I could just tape off a rectangle and then I'd be done. My spray paint version took me about 30 minutes to prep and then I spray painted in the wind. Not my finest hour, let me tell you. My husband was so proud to be married to me. I was really the picture of creative intelligence at that point.
After much thought and effort, here is the little rectangle. Darn little rectangle.

Here's to more days spent assembling things in homes with HEALTHY people. Amen.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Sickness

It's that time of year
When the flu bug hits the schools
Every song you hear
Seems to say
Call the doctor..
We need some Tami-Flu!
(Did you read that with a tune in mind? Because I just wrote that while singing that song, "It's That Time Of Year".  Boy, do I need a life.)

So we've been invaded by the flu bug. Has it hit you all yet?  No biggie. My oldest has it. I've made the appropriate calls/emails to friends/family we've been exposed to in the last day or so to tell them to be on the lookout for telltale symptoms.
Obsessive? Yes.
Well, maybe.
But after teaching in the public school system and at a preschool, I'm keenly aware of people who send their kids to school while still sick or still getting over an illness.
Now I'm saying this next part with love...I'm NOT that mom and I don't appreciate mom's who are.
There. I said it. It sounds a bit snarky, but it comes from the heart.

So my weekend will be spent with my good friends....

Watching lots of this.....

Drinking lots of this....

And praying that no one else in our humble abode gets the dreaded illness.  Especially our dear friend, Sebastian, who came for the weekend all the way from Germany.  Here he is in the "clean" zone of our house playing Wii with the resident Wii expert.

Here's hoping your weekend will be spent doing super fun things that do not involve going to a doctor.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

*The* Christmas Card

Each year I worry, stress, fret, (insert your word here) about getting the elusive Christmas card picture(s), ordering the cards and then actually sending them out.
For me that starts the Christmas season more than Black Friday.
This year I was determined to be organized and get them out early.  But darn it, that picture. We just didn't have one I liked.
We were this close to photoshopping faces. Not a bad idea, but not the card I wanted to send.

How about their backs? We had LOTS of those pictures. Plus, we wouldn't be worried with the "picture smile" faces or the looks of love shot with daggers from one sibling to another.

Looks like the little guy is getting his clock cleaned here. I'm sure the others are laughing....NOT the warmest Christmas wishes....

Enter my husband.... business owner, race car driver, kid wrangler and photo-taking guy extraordinaire.

His photography strategy is this- take as many pictures as you can in the shortest period of time possible.

No one wants a historical marker in their Christmas photo. Plus the marker is prominent in the picture. It's screaming Merry Christmas, don't you think?

Take Two.

Got it. Awwww yeah. Casual, everyone looking generally happy, no "picture smiles".  They actually look like they don't mind being related.  Bliss.

And it only took 8000 shots and climbing a mountain. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Need Professional Help

I'm not room mom for any of my children's classes.
I used to be room mom because  I wanted to be sure the teachers my children had knew they were appreciated.  And I'm a control freak.  And I wanted their parties to be cute.  I love a cute party.
But no more.
 There should be a warning label on the sign up page by the "Room Mom" line that states that you'll spend lots of time harassing parents by email in order to get them to pay attention to the last 3 emails you sent regarding the class party for whatever holiday is upcoming.
Yes, it was a difficult year last year that was made easier because the room mom in the other class was completely on the ball and dragged me through all the stuff room moms are supposed to do nowadays.  She rocked. Still does.  But I was still done with being in charge of anything.
Until this year.
I was "volunteered" to come up with two crafts for my daughter's "Art of the Season" party.  Two Christmas crafts.
Uh-oh.  My husband said I should "Just Say No".  But I love a good craft.  Plus, I wanted it to be something that the parents and kids would like to do.  AND it had to be cute. Cute is important in my crafting world.

Here are the results. Can I say MAJOR effort for pretty simple crafts? You'd think after 5 years of teaching elementary school, 3 years in preschool and the extra years in staff development and Master's classes that I'd look for a route of least resistance. You'd think.... but no.

28 children x 20 1 inch strips of fabric = a heck of a lot of fabric strips. My table looked like a fabric store threw up on it. God bless the inventor of the rotary scissor.  It's not just a good thing, it's a  great thing.

Our Santa picture. 28 canvases with traced patterns,  paintbrushes, paint and smocks. Genius here forgot cups for the paint, so we "borrowed" some coffee filters from the kitchen.  This is just one example, minus the cute pom pom on his hat. I had to come back to put the details on this one--but it really is worth the extra time. They are super cute and I know the kids loved it--some were going to give it to their parents for Christmas.  So sweet.
Plus the kids were maybe I don't need professional help after all.

I still don't want to be room mom, though.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Forest

We don't cut our Christmas tree down ourselves.  That sounds great, but we'd rather spend the time it would take to cut it down INSIDE our house decorating the tree.  So we head to the forest that is Pike Nursery. Welcome to our forest.

Once in the forest we scatter. Not on purpose, mind you, because I'm a control freak and like to know where everyone is and what they're doing at all times. Them not being in my line of sight causes me great angst.  Here go the kidlets in search of the ellusive  "perfect" Christmas tree. 

The perfect tree for us should be fat and tall.  We have a tall ceiling in our living room. I like the tree to fill it up. Plus, since my husband is really really tall, having a short Christmas tree makes him seem like the Jolly Green Giant.  
Not that he's green or anything.

The bin of ready-made wreaths.  I especially like the mixed-green variety.  I buy one of those and some mixed-green garland for my front door.  It makes me feel like I'm doing the au naturel decorating thing.
I doubt my house looks au naturel.  It probably looks pretty plain next to my neighbor's houses with their lights on the bushes and colorful decorations.

I can see my husband rolling his eyes now.  He wants me to let you know it rained the day he was going to put the lights on the bushes and it  is still raining.  Rain = no lights. 
It's okay, honey.  The lights will be here when it dries out. Then we won't be the dark house in the neighborhood.

It was about 65 degres when we went shopping for our tree in the forest. Too warm for Pike's to be serving hot cider, but just right for candy canes. That is what you get when you buy 21 feet of mixed green garland, a mixed green wreath and a 8-9 foot Christmas tree.  A candy cane.

For free. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Most of November Memories....

November isn't really done yet, but I'm figuring we've all pretty much moved on to Christmas.  Here are some of my November memories, such that they are....

It seems like I just brought out the Publix Pilgrims. They're chipped with years of wear and tear, but are staples in my home for Thanksgiving.

Preschool Indians. My "little" guy is the tall one in the back with the green feather. He was NOT into the singing.

My sweet  boots I got for the Honkey Tonk last weekend. Love them. Old Gringo Mayra.....and they come broken in. I could wear these for days.

The "before" shot of Thanksgiving with our family friends.  Oh my.

Here is what tided us over till lunch. None of us had eaten breakfast, so by 10am we were starving. 

Cookies painted just for the season. Candy corns, leaves, turkeys. My kids helped paint them.  It has become a tradition to paint these cookies for every season with our friends.

Why is it that after we eat any meal that the ladies end up in the kitchen doing the dishes? That is my mom and aunt with my #2 daughter.  Washing the dishes. And talking.  But mostly washing dishes.  And where was I, you may ask? Well, I had my camera and was trying to capture the elusive "casual" shots.  You'll see very few (or none) of those since every time I got close to anyone they looked at me.  Guess I'll have to invest in a paparazzi-type lens.

Here is the little guy on Black Friday.  He decided on Thanksgiving night to face-plant into the corner of our coffee table with his cheek.  The bruise is more purple now than when I took this, but his cheek is so swollen he looks like he's sucking a gobstopper.

The oldest playing on her formerly confiscated iPhone. We decided that Thanksgiving would be a No Technology day.  You'd think we were weaning her off crack.

My blond-haired daughter simply had to get out of the house.  It is officially winter here- I think it will be around 50 today.  Finally some weather that requires a real winter coat! 

And me? What am I up to?  Here's how I've spent my morning...
making my annual Christmas music cd for my kiddos' teachers.  I got the cutest Christmas-inspired cd's at Office Depot.  Please overlook the messy desk.  I carved out a spot for my stuff and just plowed ahead...

And then I completely copied an idea I saw out in blogland somewhere...this is the cd cover.  I did mine on Print Explosion (the absolute WORST printing program ever).  It took me a good 15 minutes to figure out how to print two images on one piece of paper.  But I stuck with it and you're seeing my first success! Yea me!

Now it is off to clean the closets, get out the decorations and get on with some Christmas shopping that I didn't finish yesterday.  

Turn on the Christmas music, ya'll.   Before we know it we'll be saying Happy New Year!