Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Basil Pesto

With the weather turning cooler, I recently picked all my basil and turned it into pesto for the winter. It turns out that I only had about 8 cups worth of basil, which translated to about a cup and a half of pesto.

Next year I'll start making the pesto earlier, before my basil starts going to seed.

I follow a pretty basic recipe for my pesto, with pine nuts being my nut of choice. Sadly the pine nuts are around $18 a pound, so walnuts might be a better choice. I googled "why are pine nuts so dang expensive," and I learned that it's because they are a very labor intensive nut to produce. It takes a lot of time to separate the nuts from the pine cone. That, and demand for them has increased, so the price has too.

Somehow it doesn't make me feel better about buying them, so I think I'll use walnuts next time.

I couldn't find my back up ice cube trays, so I used this pan intended for brownies. It worked out great and left me with cute little 2 T pesto hearts. How cute is that?

This is the recipe I use. It's not difficult at all, and so worth it. I put the pesto on pasta, fish, and even as a spread for sandwiches. Yummy!

Don't forget to click on the recipe for the best resolution before saving it to your computer. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

It has been forever since I posted a recipe on here, but I'm sort of making peace with my for now inadequate digi software. Life must go on and all that.

This recipe for meatballs is another of the many recipes given to me by my mother-in-law, the Barefoot Contessa. It's super easy to make, and it makes plenty to freeze for future meals. I love that part.

All you need to make it is: ground beef, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese (the cheap stuff in the green can is fine), dried bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper.

The first step is to simply combine all the ingredients. I like to use food prep gloves because squishing raw meat together creeps me out.

Keeping the gloves on, the next step is to form the meatballs into 1-1/2 inch balls. I don't measure them or anything, but I make them into a size that seems good to me. When Peanut Head helps he makes them a little smaller so they go farther.

I will not make a joke about that. Actually, I just did but then I deleted it because it wasn't appropriate.

The Barefoot Contessa browns her meatballs in oil, but I'm lazy so I just pop mine in the oven on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes or so, and they turn out great.

In fact, I dare you to not sample them when they come out of the oven. The smell will make you whimper, I promise.

We always have spaghetti and meatballs the night we make these. Usually we spoil our dinner because we overindulge when sampling the meatballs.

There's always plenty to freeze several baggies full of meatballs for future spaghetti nights in a flash. They make good meatball subs too.

Here's the recipe card. Remember to click on it before saving it to your computer so you get the best resolution. Trust me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Annie Get Your Gun . . . The Peace and the Love Continues

Peanut Head teaches a Gun Safety course for the local Boy Scouts, and he recruited the girls to take the class right along with the Scouts. I'm not a gun lover myself, but you know me, I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to be Alone In My House while the girls are off struggling to remain awake while Peanut Head teaches them the ins and outs of gun safety.

I suppose it's not a bad skill to have.

Stinkerbell here enjoys herself quite a lot out on the range.

She seems to have commandeered Peanut Head's grunt field cap and Princess Leah ear muffs. She knows how to work it, doesn't she?

My favorite part is the way she holds her cute little footsies when she's in her sniper pose.

And the way she squints one eye when she's getting ready to blast the target to Kingdom Come.

It makes my heart swell with pride.

Zoe Bug, on the other hand, is more about technique and careful attention to detail.

She always has been.  I love the little freckles on her sweet little hand. She's my little Freckle-Puss.

Since Peanut Head has been taking the girls to the range, there's a lot of talk around here about target groupings. Of which, Peanut Head informs me, this is a horrible example. Not one of their better ones.

He just instructed Stinkerbell to get a better example for me to scan. I pooh-poohed him and told him I would include a disclaimer.

Like you're going to really care, right?

I love it when they come home and Peanut Head has to rebuild a target stand because one of the girls shoots the leg clean off.

It makes me giggle. Secretly, I think he's proud that his babies destroy things most excellently.

This day that I accompanied my little family to the range, there was a Cowboy Shoot going on.  It was a bunch of grown men, and a woman or two, dressed up in chaps and dusters, competing against each other and displaying their superb marksmanship. And markswomanship.

I looked and looked for The Renaissance Woman, but she wasn't there. I figured with all those Gunslinger dusters, she had to be there somewhere.

No such luck though.

I did some visiting with the Gunslingers' horses. As I was bumbling around shooting pictures of their cute little Gunslinger carts, I kept stepping onto the wrong side of the reloading area, and I was scolded several times to "Git Back Woman!"

Okay, they might not have used those exact words, but I don't like to be called "Ma'am," so I'm changing the facts to my liking.

I made friends with Idaho here too. On second thought, is that Idaho, or is it a tipped gun?

I must ponder this while I refer to my maps.

This is one part of the Cowboy Shoot that I just don't get.

Some of the targets flip clay pigeons up into the air for them to shoot at.

Can you see it?

Me neither, but it's there.

Perhaps if it actually looked like a pigeon instead of a Chernobyl Breathsaver, we could more easily spot it.

Could the Clay Pigeon people not trouble themselves enough to actually make it look like a pigeon?

It's basically a rat with wings. How hard can that be to make a mold and reproduce it in a more believable color?

Peanut Head also has the girls practicing with this cute little bow. Stinkerbell has been begging for a bow for months, ever since she read The Ranger's Apprentice. She's just dying to kill something with it.

I did not pick Stinkerbell's outfit. These days I don't have the energy to wrestle her into what I want her to wear, so I just let her dress herself and make sure to tell everyone that I did not pick out her clothes.

I'm sure people wonder about that.

Stinkerbell marches to the beat of her own drummer, and she tells him what to play. The poor guy lives in fear, I'm telling you.

Peanut Head is so proud of his girls. He made this little poster and put it on the door to his office.

He delights in warning the world of the Scary Threat of What's to Come. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Vinyl Crazy

I've been going a little crazy with the vinyl lately. Lately being the last two years or so.

Before school started, I ordered some custom vinyl from Janae, and I still don't have all of it up. It's been on my monster To Do list, so today I went into my classroom and I got a couple more things put up.

This Work Hard sign is my favorite. Well, my favorite next to the Grandpa punctuation piece I showed you a couple posts ago. Janae is selling this one for $22.00 here, and let me tell you, it's ginormous. It really sends the message I'm looking to send.

None of my students will get this one because they weren't even born when Sir Mix-A-Lot was kickin' it. I don't think I'll tell them about him either.  He's not really PG-13.  I'll just quietly enjoy this myself and hope that during parent teacher conferences their parents will at least get it. If you love this as much as I do, it's $8.50, and you can get it here.

This is the other quote I ordered, but I haven't put it up yet. My goal is to get it up this week, even if I have to do it in stages. Janae is selling this one for $24.00 and you can find it here. It doesn't have the web address on it though, that's just because this isn't the actual vinyl, but a web example instead.

Janae also made this Christopher Robin quote for me, and I have it at home and at school. It's one of my favorite quotes. Janae sells this one here for $24.50.

The prices are based on the size of the sheet of vinyl used. In my opinion, it is not cheaper to cut it yourself. Especially if you consider the cost of the vinyl and the transfer paper. Not to mention factoring in the time it takes to cut it, pull away the excess, adhere it to the transfer paper, etc. It takes me for-EVER, so I only do the small stuff myself and let Janae do everything else. It's totally worth it to me.

If you order any of the quotes I've linked to, please click the "Thoughts in Vinyl Only" shipping option when you check out. That way your shipping will be a flat $6.00.

This is an example of something I did myself with my Cricut. Small jobs like this are doable for me. I found this idea on Pinterest, and it's where I keep materials for each day's lessons at school. So far it's working very well.

I also did this. I really like how the white vinyl stands out on the black trays.

This is where I post missing assignments for the current week. It's very helpful for keeping the kids on top of their assignments. I put "No Name" papers in a Homeless File, so if a student sees his number up here and he knows he turned the assignment in, then he knows he needs to check the Homeless File.

At the end of the week, any assignments still on the board get transferred to a spiral notebook and the board gets erased for a new week.

Janae pretty much did all of my white board vinyl. I had some that I had done myself, but last year I had a projector installed in my classroom midyear, and I had to move all my vinyl. Time is very precious during the school year, so I called on Janae to help me out. She is really good about working up different plans and giving proofs with prices before cutting. I really appreciate that because sometimes my ideas are bigger than my wallet.

Of all the vinyl on my white boards, this is the section I love the most. It saves me a lot of time every day, and it looks clean and tidy. I tend to be really OCD about my white boards. They have to be super clean at the end of every day, or I get twitchy. I buy a lot of Expo cleaner.

This is where I post homework and reminders for the kids to put in their planners.

Janae did this for me too. I used to have magnets for the jobs, but I love having the vinyl because I can clean the white board without moving the jobs off.

Yes, Anne, I know the Neat Police job is not aligned with the rest of the jobs. It's sort of ironic, isn't it? I was so focused on making sure it was level, no lie, that I forgot to check the horizontal alignment as well. Doy. I am not having Janae cut this one again.

Well, at least I'm not having her cut it today. The next time I need something from her, I'm totally putting this one on my order again. It mocks me.

I might not have to wait too long because I've been coveting some vinyl she cut for another teacher in my hall. It's the teacher's name outside her door, with the cutest red apple with a little green stem. I die every time I walk by it, I'm so in love with it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Library Guides

This is going to be a quick post for those of you that requested the library guides. As I mentioned, this was one of those projects with a lot of trial and a lot of error.

Hopefully I can save you from some of that error.

I started out by buying long, flat rectangles of wood from Michael's. The wood pieces were about 3 feet long. My first mistake was that some of the wood pieces were made from Balsa wood. Michael's didn't have enough of the sturdier wood pieces, and I was in a hurry, so I just grabbed the few Balsa pieces so I could get her done. I need to work on my patience, but I'm not ready to commit to it full-time.

I should have just waited patiently because the Balsa wood is a sad, sad alternative. When you paint Balsa wood, it sucks the moisture up and then bows the wood. Waste of time.

When I got the wood pieces home, Peanut Head cut each piece into three pieces so that each piece was about a foot long. It turns out that they were a little too long for my bookcases, so Peanut Head cut them a second time so that they were right sized. He's so good to me.

My second mistake was using craft paint to paint the wood pieces. It took for-EVER, and it sucked up a lot of paint. 

My third mistake was not putting one coat of Mod Podge on my guides before Mod Podging the letters on. I ended up having the red paint bleed onto my letters, so I had to sand them all off and then basically start over.

It took me for-EVER to sand the library guides, something I should have done in the first place anyway, but since I messed up so bad, in order to fix it, I had to sand the letters off and a few layers of Mod Podge.

After I sanded my waste of time off, I got a brain and spray painted just one coat of paint on the library guides. After the paint dried, I lightly sanded them. I think I'm supposed to, but I don't know why, so I just did it.

Then I put just one coat of Mod Podge on them and let it dry. Then I put on another coat of Mod Podge to adhere the letters, and finally one last coat to protect it all.

Whew! I'm so tired now.

I love the way they turned out after all that trial and error.

Oh yes, I think I should mention that I printed two copies of all the alphabet guides because I put letters on both sides of my library guides so that they could be seen from both directions.

What I love most about them is that I can move the guides as my library expands and contracts. It did a lot of contracting this week when my students started checking books out.

I used the same style of cards for my cabinets. I've mentioned before that I number my cabinets and drawers to speed up the process of sending students to fetch things. It's so much quicker than playing the whole hot/cold game.

Anyway, I put two letters and two numbers on every 4 x 6 print. Then I cut them in half so that they are 4 x 3 inches.

After cutting the numbers apart, I mounted them on red card stock and them laminated the whole shebang. Then I stuck them to my cabinets with double-sided adhesive. I'm still experimenting with the adhesive, because they aren't all sticking perfectly. Every couple of days I'll find one slipping and trying to make a break for it. I would love any suggestions you might have for a good adhesive.

Does all that make sense? If not, ask questions, please.

Click on the images below first, to get the best resolution, then save them to your desktop. The cabinet numbers only go up to 22, so let me know if you need them to go a little higher, and I'd be happy to add more.