Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Feel Pretty . . .

Oh, so pretty,
I feel pretty and witty and bright!
And I pity
Any girl who isn't me tonight.

Quick! Name that musical.

This overly enthusiastic cat is Lucinda Gooseberry. Remember her? Well, she has filled out a bit since you last saw her, so I understand if you don't recognize her. 

She's quite the sport, let me tell you. As you can see, Stinkerbell has dressed her in a most charming pink t-shirt emblazoned with the title "Spoiled Princess." And to sort of top off the whole look is a little homemade tiara that Stinkerbell made just for her.

Let's be honest here. How smart can this cat be, really, if it lets a child dress her like this? And do you see her struggling any? Seriously, Girlfriend has claws. Can she not use them?

As a matter of fact, you probably aren't going to believe this at all, but the crazy cat actually purrs whenever Stinkerbell is controlling her like this. Which is pretty much 24-7.  

So, as I was saying, it looks like we are the lucky owners of yet another cat with just enough brain cells to maintain life support.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Southwestern Corn Dip

I have a super easy, super yummy appetizer to share with you today. It uses mostly stuff from your pantry too, so it's great for last minute get togethers.

I originally got this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. She found it in our local newspaper when she was visiting us one summer, and we've made it many, many, many times since then. We love it.

Here's what you need: Monterey Jack Cheese, mayonnaise, canned corn, shredded parmesan, 1 jalapeno pepper, diced green chiles, roasted red peppers, and sliced black olives.

First, spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Then start draining the canned stuff and then dumping it all in the dish. I like to mix it all up in the baking dish, but you can do that in a bowl first if you want. I just hate doing dishes.

You don't need a ginormous jar of roasted red peppers like this, I just happened to have one this large. The Renaissance Woman tells me that you can find these at the dollar store.

This is what they look like.

Isn't it pretty?

From here, you just add the mayonnaise and the cheeses, mix it, smooth it down, then pop it in the oven.

It comes out looking like this. It's great with tortilla chips, but you can just eat it with a spoon if you are so inclined.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baking Bonanza

I just love this time of year. I've always enjoyed baking and playing around in the kitchen, and the holidays are the perfect excuse to go overboard in that department.

And do we ever go overboard. As you can see, we get the whole family involved. Here we are assembling treats for our peeps.

We love our peeps.

If you see anything here that tempts you, and you think you might like to make any of it, you can find the recipes here. Some of the recipes are super easy too, in case you have a need for any last minute treats.

How about you? Have you been doing any holiday baking?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Bookmarks

As promised, and with at least an hour to spare, I give you holiday bookmarks. I'm giving these to my students and my kids' classmates this year. I'd stick them in the girls' stockings too, but then they would know that I'm Santa Claus. Thanks to Peanut Head, the girls still very much believe in the Fat Man.

What do you think of these little Santa stamps? I love Santa.

I have a thing for snow people too.

And you know me, I'd never turn down a cookie.

Now that you've seen all the designs, below are the jpgs. for the bookmarks. Don't forget to click on each of them to get the best resolution before you save them to your desktop. Otherwise, they might be blurry and that would probably make you mad.

If you need a refresher on how to turn out the finished product, go here.

When I posted the birthday bookmarks, someone asked me why the heck a bookmark needed a magnet, and I couldn't respond to the question because there was no e-mail attached to the commenter's profile. I hate that. People ask me questions all the time, and I can't respond for that reason, or because a commenter's blog is set to private, or worse yet, it's an anonymous comment and I don't even know who it is. How am I supposed to respond to that?

I really didn't come here to whine tonight. Sorry about that. Anyway, to answer the burning question, the bookmark doesn't need the magnets, they're just nice to have. Think about it.

You're having a hard time? Okay, I'll illustrate.

Peanut Head picks up my book with an average, everyday, garden variety bookmark in it, he yells "Go long, Clyde!" and he launches it across the room to the fictitious dog.

Now I ask you, is your average, everyday, garden variety bookmark going to stay put? 

No. It is not. It's going to jump ship the first chance it gets and then you will never be able to finish your book. Do you really want that?

I think not.

With the magnetic bookmark, the magnets cling to your page and they don't let go until you pull them apart. It's every magnet's dream. No lie.

I hope that clears things up. Enjoy the bookmarks!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pecan Pie

I'm such a slacker. I wanted to get this recipe up before Thanksgiving, but I didn't make it in time. Not even close. Here's hoping you can use it for a holiday dinner or something.

I originally got the recipe from the "Dear Abby" column in the newspaper. I've been making it for years and it's Peanut Head's favorite. Even better, it's super easy to make and practically fail safe.

Here's the recipe card.

I'm putting the finishing touches on the holiday bookmarks, and I promise to get those up for you before Friday. It would have been done sooner, but I'm a slacker. Sorry.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

There's Always Something to be Thankful For

Every day when the girls and I get home from school, we have a little ritual we do where I yell at them to hang up their coats and their backpacks, they ignore me for ten minutes, I yell some more, then finally they succumb to the nagging and hang the stuff up.  Once that's done, they empty out their backpacks and make a pile for me on the kitchen table with all the papers they brought home.

Well, I found this little gem in Zoe Bug's pile, and it was so dang cute that I just had to record it on my blog so that I could have it forever and ever. It's a picture of a little girl holding a tissue up to her nose and here's what it says:

Little Molly Peters
Stuck her finger up her nose.
She pulled it out, examined it,
And wiped it on her clothes.

Now Molly is a lovely girl,
That is not really the issue.
But she will have no friends until
She learns to use a tissue.

How cute is that? Wait, it gets better. Stinkerbell delivered the punch line when she said "I don't wipe mine on my clothes. I eat them."

And that, my friends, is just one more reason I am thankful to be teaching sixth graders instead of first graders. I mean, I looooooooooove first graders, but they do eat their boogers. It's a fact.

And there are much, much better things to eat than boogers. I wouldn't even waste one calorie on a booger. Well, I did when I was in first grade, but I don't do that any more.

I eat much differently these days. I might even have mentioned this before, but I know how to throw me down some food.

That's right. On Thanksgiving, I made myself miserable, I ate so much. It was so bad that I couldn't even lie down because I was getting a pain in my left collar bone, which I'm pretty sure was my body trying to eject a lung to make some room for my overindulged meal. It was awful.

But that's not my point. My point is that I have a lot to be thankful for. Even though a booger eater lives in my house.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranberry and Dried-Cherry Sauce

I imagine you're all in the thick of your Thanksgiving preparations, as am I, but I wanted to take a minute to pop in and share this recipe with you.

I'm generally not a big fan of cranberry sauce on my turkey, but I did grow up with the oh so attractive gelatinous version on the Thanksgiving table. It always made me giggle that it was on a pretty plate, yet it was in the shape of the can it came in, wearing every dip and curve from the can it was so carefully popped out of.

This recipe is nothing like that. This cranberry sauce is pretty and tasty. The perfect combination. I originally found this recipe in a Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue, and I've been making it every year since.

Here are the ingredients: frozen cranberry juice cocktail, water, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, dried tart cherries, and whole cranberries.

Just bring the first five ingredients to a boil . . . 

. . . drop the cherries in . . .

. . . and finally, the cranberries.

They're so pretty.

These cranberries have been cooking for about seven minutes now and they're starting to pop, which is what I want.

Almost there.

From there, you just pour it into your serving dish and let it cool. You can serve it cold or at room temperature, either way, it's yummy. With or without the turkey.

Here's the recipe card. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

There's a Snake in Mah Boot!

Funny story. I was in my classroom this morning, not ten minutes after the tardy bell rang, and our school librarian comes in to tell me that the girls' school is on the phone because my daughter had snuck a snake to school.


That was my first alarming thought. Just back up the bus and run over me again, because I thought I just heard you say that my daughter took a snake to school.

My second and third thoughts came hurtling right after that first one, and they went something like this.

1) The snake is not real. It can't be real.
2) This has Stinkerbell's name written all over it.

I told my sweet librarian that there is no way my daughter could have a snake in her backpack and that somebody needed to look a little closer because we don't have a snake, we don't have access to any snakes, and we don't like snakes. Or something like that. 

So the librarian goes back to the office and then comes back just a few minutes later. At this point she can hardly contain her laughter so she gestures for me to step into the hallway. Apparently the snake is real, and my daughter is afraid to talk to me because she thinks I'm going to freak out.

Really? Me?

Darn straight I'm going to freak out. I'm already formulating the tongue lashing and its accompanying can of whoop *%$ in my mind.

"You had your school call my school and pull me out of my classroom to hear that you snuck a snake to school and I'm not supposed to freak out? Really?"

So I go to the office to talk to the other school. By the time I get there, someone has managed to gather their wits about them and investigate further to find that, yes, the snake is really rubber. RUB. BER. 

Yep. The snake is rubber and Zoe Bug (Zoe Bug?!!!!) is blubbering in the background "Annika put it in my backpack, blah, blah, blah."

Ah ha! That little brat, er . . . spirited child.

Big surprise.

And I ask you this, do you think we call her Stinkerbell for nothing?

I told the school secretary to throw the book at her and I went back to my classroom. End of story.

Now, I'd be lying if I told you that I was not just a tinsy bit amused by this whole adventure. In fact, I couldn't wait to get home so I could get to the bottom of the whole convoluted story. And while I don't think I'll ever have the whole story and its accompanying shades of truth, this is what I did manage to gather from my thorough investigation.

First off, I asked Stinkerbell in my calmest, most unfreaking out voice, "Do you want to tell me about the snake?"

"Uh. Yeah. Good," replies the Stink.

"I'm sorry, but that was not a complete sentence."

"Mom, can I have something to eat?"

Now I know that this sort of verbal exchange is quite typical between a parent and their teenager, but my kids are six and eight, so why is the communication not flowing on a two way street here?

Let's try this again.

ANN-IK-KA. Why. Did. You. Have. A. Snake. At. School?

Sheepish grin alights. S-l-o-w-l-y followed by her version of the truth. "I gave the snake to Zoe at Mattie Cake's house and she just forgot."

Reeeeee-ally? (said in a slightly . . . okay very, sarcastic voice with a bit of shriekage on that last syllable)

Apparently Zoe cannot stand to listen to the sewage spilling forth any longer and she blurts out "She did not! Annika snuck it in my eyeglass case and I did not know it was there and I opened it up and I thought it was real and my friends saw me cry and I was a little embarrassed."

So now we're going from not complete sentences to run-on sentences. I'm getting dizzy. Let's just go straight to the evidence, shall we?

This eyeglass case.

And this snake.

This snake that so does not look real to me.

Now, I can sort of put myself into this little scenario, and it's not difficult to imagine the drama and confusion. Zoe Bug is the Freak Out Queen and she very well could have been hysterical. Plus, she, apparently, prolonged the confusion when she managed to explain to the office staff that the snake wasn't moving because it was nocturnal.


But seriously, if I'm lyin,' I'm dyin.' Does this snake look real to you?

As part of my formal investigation, I measured him, and when I pulled him taut to eliminate his bendy sections, he was a whopping eight inches long.

And because I'm so mean, I looked very closely for a stamp that might inform me that he was MADE IN CHINA, but there was no such thing to be found.

Dang it. That would have been so cool.

So, Grandma, if you're reading this, the Snake Charmer wants to come visit and she wants to know if she can bring her snake.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cornbread . . . by Peanut Head

Remember how I told you that Peanut Head is always experimenting with a good thing? Like he can NEV. ER. leave well enough alone? He has had some pretty strange ideas too, let me tell you. 

One time, he made enchiladas or something for his sister, Marcia, and I, and he screwed up big time. I don't remember exactly what it was he made because my head caught on fire immediately after the first bite and incinerated the memory from my brain forever.

Which probably gives you a little clue about what the experiment was all about. Ahem. The recipe, the recipe he decided to tweak before he even tried it once, called for one canned chipotle chili pepper.

And he dumped the whole can in.

The bonehead.

Marcia and I took one bite and we were all "Nuh Uh. I ain't eatin' tonight. I'm goin' to bed hungry."

He was, and is, so full of pride that he choked his serving down, sweating buckets and exclaiming how delicious it was. "It's got a little kick, but it's very flavorful."

"What-EVER. Like how could you tell? Your mouth is spewing flames like a blow torch."

Geesh. Anyway, this recipe isn't really like that. I just like to make fun of Peanut Head whenever I can. This recipe is actually very good and it wasn't his first tweak at it, so you're safe and you don't have to worry about any kitchen fires.

I promise.

I don't really know how he made it, but he took a lot of pretty pictures, so I'm just showing them to you.

"Ack! Alien hand with pecan halves!"

"Oooh, purty."

Purtier still.

It really was good though, so here's the recipe card.

He made me make a recipe card for you. He held a can of chipotle chili peppers to my head and I did it under duress.

No lie.