Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Shoutout to My Husband

So I was at a conference two weeks ago, and we were doing some touchy feely thing that I don't get too jazzed about.  Maybe I'm too cynical; maybe I'm too easily sucked in.  Whatever the case, I was doing this thing about who I am.  I started writing.  "I am a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher"...wait a minute!  I didn't put down wife first.  That made me sad.  It made me so sad that I began to openly weep, which is something that I do not do often.  I mean, I'm a crier, but I usually reserve my crying for people I know.  But there I was, crying in front of perfect strangers, trying to figure out why I hadn't put wife in the top three. 
I love my husband.  He is patient; he is kind; he is a partner in our relationship; he is probably the best father on the planet. He is also the laundry guru.  My only contribution to laundry is buying the soap he likes when he tells me to do so. So what was up with his being late on the list?  I decided right then that I would make a point to tell my husband not only that I love him, but that I also appreciate him.  I promised myself that I would do this more than I have been doing it (which, to be honest, wasn't much). 
So I have been thinking about other women out there who may be like me and love their husbands, but may not appreciate them as much as they should.  Below is the list of things that I think are awesome about my man in no particular order:
  1. He loves me a lot.
  2. He adores our children.
  3. He is more patient with me than I am with him.
  4. He's smart, like, really smart.  He's a lot smarter than I am.
  5. He's funny.  A day does not go by when I don't at least chuckle at his jokes.
  6. Laundry...enough said.
  7. He wakes me up in the mornings at the desired times (they differ, mind you, and he remembers which day goes with which times).
  8. He gets the kids ready on the weekdays.  All I do is take them to and from daycare.
  9. He used to take them to and from daycare; in fact, he did this for four years until he moved schools.
  10. He gets up with the kids every weekend and plays with them while I wallow in bed.
  11. He makes pancakes every Sunday.
  12. He listens to my dreams, and he supports me, even when I decide to do something ridiculously time consuming (this blog~well, given my lack of posts...~, a book in the making, running for name it, he has been supportive and level headed).
  13. He plays with our children, he loves our children, and he is patient and kind with our children. 
  14. He takes care of all of the finances, but he shares the information and recognizes my ability to make educated decisions on the money.
  15. He's a great kisser.
  16. I never have to go to the post office because he has some sort of love affair with them...I don't get it, but I sure do appreciate not having to go.
  17. He loves me a lot.  I know I already said this, but it is worth mentioning again.  I enjoy being loved this much. In fact, I revel in it.  
I could continue to go on extolling the virtues of the man I love.  I thought that you might want to think about how wonderful your partner is.  Men get a bad wrap these days.  Maybe we need to appreciate them more and harp about their shortcomings less.  Just a thought from a mom and a wife whose view on things is a bit skewed but getting better (see above).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cheap and Easy Potato Soup

I used to make this every Sunday for about four years.  It makes enough to take to lunch every day for the week and costs about $10.00 total for the entire recipe (less if you buy store brand like me). 
So if you are saving your calories and watching your wallet this time of year, this is the recipe for you.

Potato Soup:
One big bag frozen hashbrowns
1 packet white southern gravy mix (dry)
One or two boxes chicken stock
One small onion, minced (or chopped if you are lazy like me)

Dump it all in a slow cooker, stir it all together and cook until kind of creamy; about four to five hours on high.

If you want to make this for dinner, add some shredded cheese, a little bacon, some chives, and a dollop of sour cream, which is probably more caloric than the soup, itself.  I always like the accoutrements, though. 

So save a little money, save a little dough; Christmas is coming, doncha know?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The C Word

Get your mind out of the gutter. I mean Christmas. 

I have a hard time with the commercialization of this holiday.  I get worked up over back to school stuff in July;  I'm irritated by Halloween stuff going up right after school starts; and I really, really can't stand Christmas hooey hitting the aisles before I have even completely thawed a turkey for Thanksgiving.  And what is it with bathing suits stocking the stores before I even get the courage to step on the scale in January? There is subliminal commercial insult there.  I know it.

I am also Grinched Out by the fact that people spend way too much money on this holiday, not to mention that some actually begin buying for the following year the day after Christmas.  Indeed, I am not a fan of this holiday.  I prefer Thanksgiving: eat, drink, be merry, but don't decorate the house, the lawn, or buy pesents.  I  know that I may be talking out of both sides of my mouth, given that I have been posting recipes for the holidays for a couple of weeks now.  I should have titled them as Thanksgiving Holiday Recipes, but I was remiss. 

Now, if I could get away with bagging the C word altogether, I would be full in; however, I have a husband who loves the C word and children who should probably have it as part of their childhood memories.  I would love to drop the decorations, the tree, and the suburbian pressure to decorate the house with lights, tacky blow up figures, and sleighs on the roof. I saw a sign the other day for a company that "does Christmas lights".  Seriously?  I almost called to see how much they charged just so I could feel superior.

My very first adult Christmas tree came into my house because my roommates at the time, Jonathan and Stephen, decided that I needed a little holiday cheer.  I bah humbugged them, but I lost the battle.  The house looked great, the outside was uplit like nobody's business, and the boys were smug.  The bastards moved out right after Christmas, though, leaving me to clean up all that Crap (another C for Christmas). 

Then I got married, and we had our first "couple tree".  The "couple tree" was really a "baby-makes-three tree", because the girl child appeared  in the womb approximately five days after we said, "I do."  That's another story for another blog (actually, I touched on that in one of my first forays into this blogging business).  So we did the Christmas thing. It was small; it was quaint;  I'm not a huge fan, remember?  Then the girl child appeard in the flesh, and Christmas took on a whole new meaning.  Toys and books from inlaws, beautiful layettes from others, and more stuff than a child could ever need began to appear under the tree. 

Now we have two little ones roaming around with sparkles in their eyes and lots of ideas for what Santa will bring.  They don't watch television that has commercials, but pre-school is enough of a commercial for anyone. Everything that H sees goes on the list for Santa.  The boy child is still unable to articulate anything of consequence but Santa and "Sunshine", our Elf on the Shelf bribe/blackmail to ensure decent behavior from Thanksgivng to Christmas.  On the 26th, we are kind of screwed; H likes tomake up for her goodness and kindness with a month long streak of bad.

Given the demand for gifts, gifts, gifts, and given my senitments about the C Day, I have new rules in place for the holiday this year. Three presents each under the tree.  NO MORE!  Christmas is about...get ready for it...Christ.  You know, His birth?  In a manger? No room for a bed and all that? The Three Kings each brought one present for Jesus, and the little kid with a drum sang a song.  If three presents and a ditty are enough for the world's Savior, I'm thinking that my children will do just fine with three presents under the tree on the 25th.  I can't speak for the grandomthers and their benevolence, but I would love a college donation instead of clothes and toys for my kids. 

And NOTHING goes up until all Thanksgiving leftovers are either inhaled or thrown away. Period. 

Because of these new edicts, I am in hopes that I can single handedly take the C(rap) out of Christmas and bring in something more important like the F words:  Family and Friends.

Quick, Easy Dessert That Will Impress Even the Discerning Hostess

This has a scant three ingredients, and it takes ten minutes to put together! 
You do have to pull out the food processor for it, though...sorry.

For the chocolate lover in all of us,

It's really called Chocolate Icebox Cake, but that sounds so plebeian.

2 15 Ounce containers of Ricotta Cheese
12 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate morsels (cooled enough to touch)
1 nine ounce pack of chocolate wafers (these can be found in the ice cream aisle...just saving you the twenty minutes it took my husband to find them)

Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  Layer the ricotta mixture and half of the chocolate wafer cookies in the prepared pan (three layers of the ricotta mixture and two layers of the cookies, beginning and ending with the ricotta).

Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to two days.

To serve, remove from the pan, slice and sprinkle with shaved semi-sweet chocolate.  If you are feeling uppity, add some real whipped cream (more rich, more better!). 

For those of you who are wary of the ricotta, don't be; it's great to use in desserts. 

I'm thinking about changing this one a bit and using white chocolate instead of semi-sweet and raspberry preserves as the middle part.  It would be lovely for the holidays, garnishing with fresh raspberries, raspberry glaze, and sprigs of mint.  Just a thought.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out!  If I try it, I'll not only post my findings, but also a picture. 

This recipe came from Real Simple Magazine. August, 2010. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Quick and Easy Candy for the Obligatory Cookie Exchange

When I was pregnant, I ate Take 5 candies by the truckload.  I started off with Peanut M&Ms, but my friend Shannon got me hooked on Take 5.  I still get a hankering for these tasty treats, so I was really excited when I saw these Pretzel things that a colleague made.  The only thing missing from them was the peanut butter in the Take 5.  I had more than my fair share in the English Office.  In fact, I believe I ate all of them. When I asked her how to make them, she laughed. 

Here you go:
1 Bag of mini pretzel twists (the thick ones are best...Snyder?)
1 Bag of Rolo Candies
Tray of Pecan Halves

Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
Place pretzels on them
Relieve each Rolo of its pretty gold foil
Put a Rolo on each pretzel
Top each Rolo with a pecan half
Bake at 350 until the candy melts (about eight minutes).



Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Tis the Season...To Cook! Pumpkin Spice Cake for Your Pleasure

It's been a while since I last blogged; life can do that to a girl.  But here is my promise to all of my twelve faithful followers:  Now that Halloween candy and costumes are past; now that the new job is somewhat in hand; now that all birthdays are done; and now that I can catch my breath for five minutes at a time, I, your humble parent, will be putting up easy recipes for THE SEASON. 

What with parties, school gatherings, family, and other things that require gluttony, I am going to post recipes that can be mixed up and put together for THE SEASON, beginning with:

Pumpkin Spice Cake and Honey Frosting
So here's the deal with this recipe:  It's a cake or a bread.  It can be for dessert, breakfast, or burnch.  It even soothes the savage toddler or husband (when T comes home and smells this cooking, he is pretty geeked).  The frosting can be used as a spread, as well. 
Is this good for low carb?  No.  For low fat?  Ummmm...not even close. 
Is this a good recipe?  You betcha.  It takes ten minutes to put together.  Then sit back, drink a cup of tea, and watch the Hallmark Channel while your family salivates.

1 Stick Butter, melted
2.5 Cups All Purpose Flour (you can also mix with whole wheat flour, too)
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
.5 Teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoon Pumkim Pie Spice
2 Large Eggs
1.5 Cups Sugar
1 Can Solid Packe Pumkin Puree (or just the stuff you use for pumkin pie)

Preheat the oven to 350 F
In a medium bowl, mix flour, soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and canned pumkin (NO beater neccessary) until smooth
Add dry ingredients to the pumkin mixture
Turn batter into prepared pan (loaf pan or a 9" square pan)
Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes
If putting into a bread pan, cook for 75-80 minutes
Cool for ten minutes in pan and then turn out on a rack.

1 Stick Butter, softened
1 Package Cream Cheese, softened
.25 Cups Honey
Beat together until smooth (you do need a beater for this part) 

So if you do a bread, use the cream cheese stuff as a spread.

YUMMY, quick, and easy. 
I can't guarantee that the other recipes will be this simple, but I will do my best.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On This Day...

Ten years ago today I was teaching Acting I to a group of students who were at best interested, and at worst ready to fall asleep.  It was a beautiful, clear morning, and no one was very excited about being cooped up in a black room with no windows, which was the Lab Theatre.  During the class I got an all call to the faculty to check email.  I did, and was told that there was something going on in New York.  I had another email that asked about my parents.  Were they okay?  Then Scott, a colleague, came into my room and told me to turn on the television.  The look on his face was something that I will never forget.  I did turn on the television.

The Twin Towers were on the screen; one of them had smoke coming out of it.  My students were wondering what was happening; I tired to assure them that everyting was okay, but I had no explanation for the smoke and panic from the media.  I asked that we simply watch quietly.  Within two minutes the second plane hit the second tower.  At that point, we knew that something was wrong. 

Soon thereafter. there was an all call for teachers to turn off their televisions. I waited a minute or two, and then I saw the surreal. One of the Twin Towers collapsed.  I then knew that what we were witnessing was not only horrific, but also historical.  I also knew that my students should be spared this.  What if one of thier family members were working in New York?  What if one of them was in the Towers?  I turned off the television, and I tried my best to do what teachers and schools do: keep the students safe and secure; it was a difficult task. 

Throughout the day, there were questions being asked that I could not answer; there were worries that I could not assuage.  In fact, I was worried, as well.  Mom and Dad were flying home from Montreal that morning.  I was to meet them for dinner in the evening.  As per their itinerary, they were to be flying over New York right about the time that the Towers were hit.  I was devastated by worry for them and for my fellow countrymen.  I was almost debilitated with fear that I might lose two of the people that I cared about most: my parents.

But my calling was to teach children. My most important job that day was to ensure the safety and the security of those in my charge:  my students.  I worried about the kids in my classroom;  I worried about my former students who were in New York for study or for work; I worried. 

One of the most beautiful things about being a teacher is the ability to get lost in the lesson and get lost in the day.  I was able to do that. I was able to help students try to understand what was happening, even though I was unable to help them understand why it was happening.  School should be a safe place for children.  I hope that I and my colleagues gave the extra understanding and support that day to our charges. 

I found out during my planning that my parents were safe in Atlanta.  Theirs was the only flight not cancelled simply because someone important was on the plane.  Each of my students who were in New York had graciously checked in at the school letting their former teachers know that they were safe.  Michelle, in particular, wrote on her online diary about what she was experiencing.  What she wrote was dark and scary, but told through the eyes of someone young and...innocent, for lack of a better word. 

I cancelled rehearsal that day; it was the right thing to do, but I stayed at school in case my students needed to be somewhere safe.  I think that I needed them more than they needed me.  I then met my family at my parents' house.  September 11, 2001 was not the night to go to dinner; September 11, 2001 was the night to stay at home and cook with family and spend time with family and pray with family. 

That is what we will be doing this evening, the tenth anniversary of one of the most terrible tragedies to hit our soil.  Where were you when the world stopped turning, and how will you spend your day?