Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year's Eve!

I've been away, hence no posts. I doubt anyone noticed.
I'm getting ready to go to a friend's house for the evening. The dogs are going as well. IT's just a casual get together. I'm taking a Tex-Mex style spinach artichoke dip. I'll post recipes/pictures later.
I'm also taking drunken cherries, a spicy habanero bloody mary mix that I've been itching to try, vodka, rum, a cranberry mixer, and Taboo (the game).

Happy and safe celebrating to all!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Do you ever have "those" days? Or weeks?

It's been one of "those" weeks. I just want to bang my head against the wall--preferably brick. I'm in a funk.

So, today I decided to try a few more recipes I've wanted to try. I made the Coconut Lime Snowballs (CL) and Mocha Truffle Cookies. I'll post pictures and recipes later. Right now, I need to get ready for my school staff Christmas party (oops, I'm not being PC. Oh well.) I intended to make the cookies my offerings. Well, I just now finally read the invitation. Dessert will be provided. Bring a side dish. Oops. Oh, and the party starts at 6:30, not the 7 I was thinking. Oops again. Finally, it's not where I thought it was. The good news is that it's much closer to my house than I was thinking, so that's save me about 25 minutes drive time each way. So, now I have lots of cookies...I guess I will put some in w/ my coworker gift bags. I'm sure the chocolate will be appreciated.

The chocolate cookies are AMAZING. Very rich, brownie like. It's hard to eat more than one; they are that rich!

Mocha Truffle Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour, all-purpose
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Add instant coffee and blend well. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add sugars, eggs, and vanilla to coffee mixture. Add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon on greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Do not overbake.

These are just OK. IMO, the lime flavor doesn't come through enough. These are similar to balls I've made w/ orange juice concentrate, where the orange flavor really shines. To me, these are just sweet balls of coconut.
And my photography is awful!

Key-Lime Coconut Snowballs (Cooking Light)

Use regular limes if the Key limes are not available. Unsweetened coconut is often labeled "desiccated" or "pulverized," and is often sold in health-food stores.

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 4 cookie sheets)
6 tablespoons fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon grated Key lime rind
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Combine crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, rind, juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add 2/3 cup coconut, and beat with a mixer at medium speed for 1 minute or until no longer grainy. Add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating until well combined. Cover and chill 20 minutes.
Shape crumb mixture into 24 balls, about 1 teaspoon each. Place remaining 1/3 cup coconut in a shallow bowl; roll balls in coconut.

Note: Refrigerate balls in an airtight container for up to one day.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 2 balls)

CALORIES 121(20% from fat); FAT 2.7g (sat 2.1g,mono 0.3g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 1.4g; CHOLESTEROL 1mg; CALCIUM 30mg; SODIUM 40mg; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 0.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.2g
Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Continuing the peppermint theme

I made Peppermint Meltaways last night/today. This recipe came from the Land O Lakes website, via Val on the CLBB.
The mint flavor in the cookie is subtle. The cookie is very light in texture, and not too rich. I forgot to take the peppermint extract to school today, where I had my students make the frosting and ice them. We just added extra crushed peppermint to the icing. My students loved them, and they were well-received at an after school party. This is a recipe I'll make again.

Peppermint Meltaways

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter -- softened
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Glaze Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter -- softened
2 tbsps milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops red food color -- if desired (2 to 3)
Candy canes or hard peppermint candy -- crushed

Combine sugar, butter and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and cornstarch. Beat until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate until firm (30 to 60 minutes).

Heat oven to 350°F. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and enough milk for desired glazing consistency in small bowl. Stir in food color, if desired. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies (Hah! I only got about 24, and I didn't think they were that big--one of my students ate the cookie in one bite, but she's probably a bad example as she does that with almost all food).

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Possibly my new favorite!

Chocolate Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Peppermint buttercream is sandwiched between homemade chocolate cookies, then the sandwiches are rolled in crushed candy canes

MAKES ABOUT 18 SANDWICH COOKIES (I got 16 out of each batch I made)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (I used double this)
2 drops (or more) red food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)

FOR COOKIES: Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of a glass or hands, flatten each ball to a 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

FOR FILLING: Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in a medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops of food coloring. Beat until light pink, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons of filling evenly over the flat side of 1 cookie; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in a single layer in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 weeks).

Source: Bon Appétit, December 2005
Author: Julie Hasson
Page: 144

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Holiday Baking and Sharing & WDB

Every year since 2001, a group of girls and I have gotten together for some holiday baking. While the group has changed (RangerGrrl and I are the only ones who have been there year after year), the sharing of good sweets, conversation, and friendship remain constant. Here's the goods. I'll link to recipes if possible, though some that I used are from Bon Appetit and are not on the Epicurious website yet.

Top: Maple-Walnut Spice Cookies (me), Candy-I forget what these are called-cream cheese, powdered sugar, ADDICTIVE, Anise Cookies, and Chocolate Crinkles (all made by RangerGrrl ).
I think I had an ADD moment when making the Maple cookies and used 1/2 cup less flour than was called for, hence the flat appearance. However, the reviews were good--if you like maple. I was also said that they could do without the icing/nuts. The spices in these cookies are amazing-cloves, cinnamon, ginger. Yum!
The candies are delicious--I could eat all of them in a sitting. Anise cookies-if you like licorice, these are for you! They are RangerGrrl's favorites. Moist and cake-like, the anise flavor is evident but not overpowering.

Top: Peanut brittle (Chimene). What is a holiday without crunchy peanut brittle? This stuff is addictive! Fudge (Joann, our host)--fudge is another favorite of mine. Yum! Chocolate haystacks (?) (Chimene's daughter). Gingerbread truffles (me). This is a Bon Appetit recipe. I mentioned them below. I haven't had the finished product, but with spices, cream, and chocolate, how can it be bad?

Finally, Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies-the finished product on the top row, and the sandwich parts on the bottom right.
The biscotti is Pistachio-Cranberry made by Maria--some coated with chocolate. Cranberries and pistachios--that's an awesome flavor combination!
I love chocolate. I love mint. Thus, I think this ma be my new favorite special occasion cookie. The chocolate is rich--I used Penzey's Dutch Process Cocoa. I'll link to the recipe as soon as it's on Epicurious. Or check out the December Bon Appetit. This is a must-try recipe for mint lovers! It's not as labor intensive as I thought it would be. I made the cookies last night, and then the filling today at Joann's house. I iced them while sitting and talking. Piece of cake!

Now for weekend dog blog #15. My dogs have been really needy/clingy--mostly Harley, so here he is thinking he's a lap dog (all 140 #s of him)!

Peanut was feeling left out, so had to join in. Nothing like laying around with 180 #s of dog on/against you!

Check out Sweetnicks to see all the other cute dogs in this weeks' WDB!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Holidays--Celebrations and Cooking

Skim down for what's cooking in my kitchen! Recipes and pictures to follow!

Today was the 18th Annual Neiman Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade, held in downtown Dallas. I love this day. I have been volunteering as a child escort since 2000 (I missed last year due to teacher certification testing). It's hard to explain how much fun and special this day is! The children in the parade are all Children's Medical Center of Dallas patients. Many of them have been looking forward to this day for weeks. They are the celebrities--they ride on some element with a character or other celebrity--Miss America, Miss Texas, sports figures, etc. My child was with Buster the Bunny (???? No one I'm familiar with!) and rode on a convertible Porsche! I walked alongside in my frumpy official parade volunteer uniform: red sweat pants, red turtleneck, white official parade sweatshirt, Santa hat. Oh yeah, it was in the 70s when the parade started. There was a few times I felt like I was going to melt! Anyhow, my child had a great day, as did all the kids. Now it feels like the holiday season!

This day always makes me a bit nostalgic as well. Though Dakota didn't ever get to see a parade in person, I would tape it and give to him. He loved watching the parade! The marching bands, the dancers, the colorful balloons--he got excited as the sight of them all! As do many other things throughout the year, I can't get through the parade without my mind wandering to my precious nephew. The sounds of him watching the parade are among those memories that I tuck way back, but bring forward periodically to keep them fresh. I never want to forget the joyous sound of his voice. While the parade is what really helps me get into the holiday season, it's also a reminder of what is missing this holiday season. This will mark the 4th Christmas without him. We only had him for 5 Christmas's. Precious memories, how they linger.

I've started preparing for baking tomorrow. I have the filling for Gingerbread Truffles chilling in the fridge. OK, I licked the spoon. The spices remind me of chai spices with chocolate. You steep heavy cream with whole cloves, allspice, fresh ginger, cinnamon, and a dash of salt. You then strain this mixture into a mixture of melted white and bittersweet chocolate and candied ginger. Yum! Once that chills, you form balls and coat them in either more chocolate or cocoa powder.

I also made the cookie part of BA's Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich cookies. It's a rich, chocolate shortbread. The filling is flavored w/ peppermint extract and colored with red food coloring for a color burst. You then roll the cookies in crushed peppermint. Chocolate and peppermint are two of my flavors, and I love them together!

To balance out the calories and fat in these recipes, I am making two recipes from Cooking Light. One is the Key Lime Coconut Snowballs (Nov 05) reviewed here by Joe from Culinary in the Desert. The other recipe is Maple-Walnut Spice Cookies (Dec 05). I'm also considering the Sesame Sweets either tomorrow or in the upcoming weeks.

I'll post pictures and reviews tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

He's Walking!

Dad update: He had knee surgery Monday on his 'good' leg. They removed the screws and pins from his broken leg and put him in a walking boot. Wednesday, he took a few steps on his own (when noone else was home-not smart, but he can be bull headed). :)
He can walk several steps now on his own. Yay! I am going up there in a week to see the Nutcracker and so will drive the extra mileage to their house to see him.
He starts PT next week, so will be getting more sore, but he's well on his way to recovery!


This Sunday I will be doing some holiday baking with friends. I'll post pictures and recipes soon after. I'm breaking from my usual routine of fudge and toffee and making some new recipes. Hope they are winners!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving Weekend Dog Blog and Other Thoughts

Well, I'm back to Texas after a too quick 5 days in Oklahoma. I had a fun-filled week and also did just a bit of cooking. My week was spent visiting the OKC zoo (a favorite OKC destination--they have a great zoo), eating Thanksgiving dinner at the family of a friend, doing a lot of cooking for my own family's Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, spending some quality time with my parents, spending more QT with a certain someone else, driving through my hometown's Festial of Lights, a beautiful display of over 3.5 million lights, and of course EATING!

I am thankful this year for my family, my grandparents (my grandpa was actually sober and civil at dinner--first time in years that I can remember him eating w/ us). He's about 83 or 84, my nephew who is living w/ my parents--he looks out for his Papa pretty well.
I'm thankful for what lies in the future. I'm excited about a new path before me and where it may lead. There's much more to share, but I'll save it for another time.

Following are some pictures and recipes from the week. Enjoy!

I didn't pick the best time to finally take pictures of Dakota's Garden, but here it is. Lots of memory inspiring things there, includng yellow mums that bloom beautifully come spring.

The sunsets from my parent's house are always breathtaking. I miss seeing sunsets--don't get to see them here in the concrete jungle where I live.

And here are some I took from my car at the Festival of Lights. Their website has better pictures--there is a bridge over the pond covered with lights that is very cool. I may try and get pictures of it when I am home over Christmas.

This is located in a park just blocks away from the first house I remember living in. It's a beautiful historic park that holds lots of memories for me--seeing the peacocks that used to be there, the first kiss w/ my HS sweetheart, picking up litter while in HS as a service project, a classmate swimming across the pond on a dare, taking my nephews there as a last visit before moving to FL way back when, Dakota's wonder at all the lights while driving through during his last Christmas season with us here on Earth, parking in HS (heehee).

The following are recipes I make for family every year. The toffee is a recent addition (2002) but is expected. I've been making fudge for as long as I can remember. I switched recipes in 1997 after the relatives preferreed my grad school neighbor's recipe over mine. He swore me to secrecy, but still shared his recipe. :)


For a festive presentation, place the toffee in clear cellophane bags and tie with French silk ribbon.

Make sure you have a candy thermometer!

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses (I omit this most of the time--either don't have it or forget it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I use more)
2 cups coarsely chopped toasted mixed nuts (such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios)
5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Butter small rimmed baking sheet. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add next 6 ingredients; stir until sugars dissolve. Attach clip-on candy thermometer to pan. Increase heat to medium; boil until thermometer registers 290°F, stirring slowly but constantly and scraping bottom of pan with wooden spatula, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Mix in 1 1/2 cups nuts. Immediately pour candy onto sheet. Spread toffee to 1/4-inch thickness. Immediately sprinkle chocolate atop toffee. Let stand 1 minute. Using back of spoon, spread chocolate over toffee. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts. Chill 1 hour. Break toffee into pieces. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Chill in airtight container. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before serving.)

Makes about 2 pounds.

Bon Appétit
December 2002

Extra Special Creamy Fudge
1 stick butter
4 1/2 cups sugar
12 ounces evaporated milk
18 oz. semisweet chocolate
14 ounces marshmallow cream (13 to 14)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb pecans, chopped

1. Bring sugar, milk, and butter to a boil and boil for exactly 7 minutes.

2. Remove from stove and stir in other ingredients

3. Place in greased 9X13 pan lined with waxed paper. Poor in and cool in fridge. Cut when set.

My dogs enjoyed the great outdoors of my parents' place in OK, but I think they were ready to get back home and used to the house-dog lifestyle again! :)

Check out Sweetnicks to see all the other cute dogs in this weeks' WDB!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

WDB #?

The dogs and I road tripped up to OK this weekend to see my parents. I left them there since I am going back on Tuesday for Thanksgiving. Harley has been gimpy, so I backed up to a bench on the deck so he wouldn't have so far to step down. He was still a bit uneasy, but Sam the kitty cat (look under his legs) helped him along. She is fearless!
Peanut wasn't keen on the posed shot w/ Sam either, but I snapped fast.

Check out Sweetnicks to see all the other cute dogs in this weeks WDB!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I 'fixed' the problem described below by removing the referring URL link. Don't know why that messed it up, but at least it's fixed now.
What happened to my blog? Why are all of my sidebar links moved way down to the bottom of the page? I thought it was the recent pictures added, but I temporarily unpublished them and had the same result.
Is it my browser or my blog?

An Old Standby and a New Find

Yes, I do still cook sometimes. Tonight I was craving Spaghetti Carbonara. I used Nigella Lawson's recipe, which is sinful. I blanched some brocilli with the pasta, and added some mushrooms to the bacon. So, I got my veggies! I didn't refer back to the recipe; I can basically wing this one. Rich and creamy, smooth, and delicious. This is a favorite standby.

I stopped at Central Market on my way home. Of couse, I got about 30 more items than what I needed. One find was a 'sparkling mint beverage' called snow. All natural, it's a carbonated mint beverage. It tastes like a rumless mojito. It's very good and refreshing. I normally don't drink non-diet sodas, but may get this as an occasional splurge.

Pasta Carbonara

snow soda--and those are cookbooks in the background

Spaghetti Carbonara
from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat
(paraphased a bit, to save typing)

1/2 lb. spaghetti
4 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4 in. dice or 1/4 in. strips (NL says you can sub 3-4 slices bacon)
2 tsp. olive oil
4 T. vermouth or white wine
1 egg yolk
1 whole egg
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
freshly milled black pepper
whole nutmeg
1 T. unsalted butter

Boil the pasta in salted water. Put the pancetta in a frying pan with the oil on med. to high and fry for about 5 mins, maybe more, until it is beginning to crisp. Throw in the vermouth and let it bubble for 3 mins or until you have about 2 tsp syrupy bacon fat. Remove from heat. For the egg mixture, beat the yolk, whole egg, and cheese. Season with pepper, grate in some nutmeg to taste, and mix with a fork. When the pasta is ready, put the pancetta back on the heat, adding the butter as you do so. Drain the pasta, then turn it into the hot pan. Turn it with a spatula and/or wooden spoon, and when it's all covered and the liquid is absorbed, take it off the heat. Pour the egg mixture over the bacony pasta* and quickly and thoroughly turn the pasta so it's all covered in the sauce. Don't turn the heat back on. In time, the hot pasta and the residual heat of the pan will set the eggs to form a thickly creamy sauce that binds and clings lightly to each strand of pasta. This make about 2 platefuls, 1-2 servings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I just got back from a girls' weekend in St. Charles, MO (near St. Louis). I miss weekends like this-I don't get to have nearly enough of them! It's hard having your best girl friends scattered all about the country! I can tell we're getting older (ha!). We originally had plans to go out Saturday night to a restaurant in an area called "The Hill". I researched and found a great place and everything. About 3:00 that afternoon, we decided to stay in, order pizza, and play Texas Hold 'Em and watch a movie. J's boyfriend taught us how to play. He won. We also played some Chinese checkers. We watched a movie, but when 2 or 3 of us dozed off around 11:00, we called it a night! That's my normal bedtime!

"May there always be work for your hands to do, may your purse always hold a coin or two. May the sun always shine on your windowpane, may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. May the hand of a friend always be near you, may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you."
- Irish Blessing

"There are many types of ships. There are wooden ships, plastic ships, and metal ships. But the best and most important types of ships are friendships."
- Old Irish Quote

S, J, me, M

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

We Are All Unique; We All Have Our Own Gifts

I've been told by many coworkers lately things like, "You are a saint", "There is a special place in heaven reserved for you", " I don't know how you do it", etc. My answer to other gen ed teachers is that I couldn't do the job they do. Me, stand up in front of a class of 30 MIDDLE SCHOOLERS? I don't think so! That would be a disaster waiting to happen. So, for those who can't understand WHY I would want to work with the students I do, especially those with more challenging behaviors, I say this: We each have our gifts. I consider myself fortunate to have found something I find both rewarding and that I can be good at (I think I still have a lot to learn). Just because you don't do what I do doesn't make me more worthy of the praise like that quoted above. Frankly, it embarrasses me.
Lula teaches preschool, and because I've seen how she interacts with her own kids, I expect she's excellent at it. That's her gift. My dear friend S. in Kansas teaches, most recently 4th grade reading/LA. I expect she's excellent at it. There are those that help build houses, that take care of sick people, that protect our streets and homes, that help advance technology, and even those that provide us with cookbooks and lots of new recipes to try (of which I have way too many): everyone has their own thing that they are good at, cut out for, and/or called to do. I hope you all are fortunate enough to find yours. I feel blessed that I have. :) It's takes everyone to make the world go round, ya know?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Poem

Written by a student in my Reading/LA class. I provided the form and asked them to write about a person they know. My comments are in parentheses.

Mrs. B. (that's me, but I'm not a Mrs.)
Mrs. B. is like a sports coach.
She is like an invincible motorcycle. (LOL)
She hops, skips, and jumps. (but not all at once)
She's my favorite teacher.
Mrs. B.

I think he's probably the only student in that class who feels that way. :)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

You know you work too much...

when you bring it home into 'conversations' with you dog.

A while ago, Peanut was barking and whimpering to let me know she wanted out. I told her in my teacher voice, "Use your words, Peanut'. Then I looked around to make sure no one else saw/heard me and promptly got up to let her out. Sheesh.

Anyhow, we have had our new student for 2 weeks now. I was absent the past 2 days for training, so I can't say how they went, but my feeling is that he is doing better every day and we will make this placement work! The first couple of days, I felt like I'd been hit by a freight train at 3:30 when the kids get on the bus. It just takes so much more energy to work with this child! By the end of the first week, I felt better (it may have helped that I got permission to wear jeans/tennis shoes daily--the shoes especially are needed. They are much better for running down the hall in). The 3 days I saw him this week, I felt were a little better. That's not to say there haven't been difficult times, but the overall picture was much better. I have also realized that in spite of the exhaustion, the getting slapped hard enough to leave a mark, the physical struggle to get his pull-up changed--3x/day at least, getting who knows what on me (I always go home feeling germy), the sudden sprints when he beats us to the door, and so on--that this is the type of student I WANT to work with. I want to reach him, to help him understand the world around him better, to show and teach him productive ways of letting us know he wants something different or is frustrated (rather than hitting), to introduce different foods to him (he currently eats baby food), to help make his home life a little better for his family. That's not to say it's bad--he has a wonderful family but if I can do anything to make their routine better, easier, that's what I want to do.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


What do I have to do today? The list is so long I don't know where to start. I'm going to bake some cookies to send to a friend who is away from her family. I know I'm making the cookies I posted earlier; I also have a Martha Stewart magazine full of nothing but cookies, so I'm going to pick something out of it to make.

I also need to do some planning and creating for work. There is this cool software called BoardMaker that we finally got and I need to get busy with it.

I have a chicken defrosting and I'm going to make some chicken and dressing either tonight or tomorrow. I'm the new dressing maker in my family (thanks grandma) and since there isn't really a recipe and I haven't made it since last year, I want to practice. It's nothing fancy--just good ole' cornbread dressing like grandma's mom and her mother before her made. Yum!

I cooked in a chili-cookoff last weekend. I didn't win anything, which didn't surprise me because I couldn't get my chili to taste 'just right'. It's one of those things where I don't use a recipe, so some years I get it right, some I don't. This is hte first time my dad hasn't cooked since it started in 1986. He was one of the founders; it was started by the fire department and is an annual event in my small hometown.

Dad has another surgery to go--this time on his left knee. His right ankle/foot/toes are what were damaged in the accident, but the strain of being the only leg/knee to support him has really affected his left knee. Their last MRI showed extensive damage, and it has gotten progressively worse in the last 6 weeks or so. They will also take 2 of the screws out of his leg when they do this surgery. He got the stitches out of his toes (from his 2nd surgery on 10/17) but still has the pins--they are a gruesome sight because they are sticking out of the bottoms of his toes! EEeeewwwww. Physcial problems aside, Dad's spirits were up last weekend. I was glad to see this; it certainly makes me feel good to see him be more like himself.

That's all for now (can't you tell I'm having some writer's block? I have absolutely nothing interesting or exciting to share, hence the decline in posts lately).

100 Things About Me

I'll be surprised if anyone actually reads this. Anyhow, inspired by Amy of Beauty Joy Food, I decided to make this list, primarily to test as an exercise for my students. (Note now that I'm done: I don't think my students could do this!)

1. I live in Texas, but will never call myself a Texan.
2. I am an Oklahoman.
3. I am a huge OU Sooner fan.
4. I never went to school there.
5. When I lived in FL and OU was really bad and I had dial-up internet, I would listen to the games on the internet.
6. I even did this at times I could have been on the beach!
7. I've lived in 3 states: OK, FL, TX.
8. I met some of my best friends in the 11 months I lived in FL.
9. I have 2 Masters degrees (statistics and special ed).
10. I would like to get a PhD someday.
11. If not a PhD, I can see me getting a diagnostician's certificate.
12. I enjoy working with children with severe disabilities.
13. I am patient.
14. I am hopeless when it comes to keeping myself organized.
15. I can't remember the last time I balanced my checkbook.
16. I am a horrible house cleaner.
17. I often fall asleep when watching movies--either at the theater or at home.
18. I usually don't remember the movies that I do stay awake in.
19. I don't attend movies very often.
20. I work too much.
21. I can't see being good at my job w/o working the hours I work.
22. Sometimes, I don't think I'm good at my job.
23. I love to cook.
24. I also love to eat.
25. I like trying new ethnic foods.
26. When I make cookies, I usually eat the cookie dough raw. Or frozen.
27. I don't like milk.
28. My first job was as a scorekeeper at the softball field. I also prepped the field for play--spraying, dragging, and chalking.
29. My second job was at an Ice Cream and Dairy store.
30. I spent a summer during my college years working in a shock factory.
31. I don't like to be the center of attention.
32. Though I teach, I don't like speaking in front of large groups of people.
33. I worked in banking/finance for 6 years.
34. I knew early into that that I was not cut out for corporate America.
35. I cry easily.
36. My favorite sound is a young child's laughter.
37. I have a brother, but generally feel like an only child.
38. I wish I had more siblings.
39. My greatest fear is losing my parents and being alone in the world. Having that come w/i seconds of reality recently really hit me hard and put me in a funk.
40. My paternal grandpa committed suicide when I was 11.
41. For a while, I thought it was my fault because I didn't go see him that day, but chose to play with friends instead.
42. I am a daddy's girl.
43. Basil is my favorite herb to cook with.
44. I still miss my nephew Dakota daily.
45. It scares me to think that I may one day forget what his hugs felt like.
46. I have no musical talent whatsoever.
47. I never thought I'd leave the state of Oklahoma.
48. I hope to one day live near the mountains.
49. I played basketball my first 2 years of college (at a juco).
50. I bartended in college.
51. I let my little dog sleep on my bed.
52. I used to think dogs didn't belong in the house.
53. I love cool weather.
54. I celebrated my 26th birthday during Hurricane Irene in Jacksonville, FL.
55. My friends renamed it Hurricane Jen.
56. I kissed 20-some odd guys that night.
57. I don't drink that much anymore.
58. I also don't kiss as many guys. :)
59. I am still in touch with a friend (or more) from each stage of my life: kindegarten (Tish and James), grade school (Lezlie and Tammi, somewhat in touch with), High School (Shandi), early college (Tim), later college (Tiffany), grad school (Carrie and Justin), first post-college job in FL (Jackie, Shannon, others)
60. I have difficulty sewing on buttons.
61. My grad school neighbor once suggested that I was social-phobic.
62. I bought my house when I was 26.
63. I can be stubbornly independent.
64. I showed sheep in 4-H and FFA.
65. I am a 1000+ hour volunteer at Children's Medical Center of Dallas.
66. Part of those hours come from 4 summers as a counselor at a camp for children with cancer.
67. In my lifetime, I've known far too many children die.
68. I am a Christian.
69. I talk to my parents several times a week.
70. I was too stubborn to let my parents pay for my college. They helped me in other ways, but I took out loans and worked my tail off to do it myself.
71. I have 2 half sisters that I have met but do not know.
72. A year ago, I thought there was no way I'd ever move back to Oklahoma.
73. Recent experiences have me thinking about moving back to Oklahoma.
74. I've been in 6 weddings, maid-of-honor in 4 of those.
75. None of them has been my own!
76. I love to read.
77. I am 1/16 Choctaw Indian.
78. I love all flavors of ice cream, but Braum's peppermint is probably my favorite.
79. I've only been out of the US one time in my life, for 13 days in Italy and Switzerland.
80. I have visited only visited/lived in 14 states plus D.C.
81. I've been burglarized once, when I was in college.
82. As a result of that burglary, I slept in a room w/ human feces for at least 3 night before it was found on a bookshelf that was behind a door.
83. If I could choose any career other than what I do now, it would be a cancer researcher.
84. I completed a sprint distance triathlon in Oxnard, CA 1.5 years ago as a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program.
85. I also raised about $4,700 as part of this effort.
86. I also did a local sprint tri with friends a few months later.
87. I hate running.
88. I get easily annoyed by people lacking common sense.
89. I get snappy when annoyed. :)
90. I'm still friends with my HS sweetheart (though am really annoyed at him right now). He's also one of the friends I've known since kindegarten.
91. I can sleep just about anywhere, anytime.
92. I have lived alone for most of the past 12 years, but still get scared when at my parent's home alone.
93. Gin and tonic is my favorite alcoholic drink.
94. Vodka/red bull is a close 2nd.
95. I love to read.
96. I have about 20 books in my room that are waiting to be read.
97. I can't do my own nails, so my nails usually look like crap.
98. I am annoyed by the commercialism in our society today.
99. I would like to adopt a child someday.
100. I think I'm boring. I had to struggle to come up with this much. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

WDB hosted by Sweetnicks. My dogs went with me to OK this weekend, where they get to be outside dogs out in the country at my parents' house.
This is how they looked after we got back home-worn out pups!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My Favorite Cookie

This cookie is courtesy of the Ghirardelli website. A friend first made these a few years ago, and they have since become a favorite standby. Full of chocolate chips, nuts, oatmeal, and with added nutmeg and cinnamon, these are always among the first to go at gatherings. I just made a batch for my freezer--I usually eat more frozen this way rather than cooked, but I did bake a small batch for lunch bunch tomorrow. Yum.

Clementine’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 5 Dozen 2-inch Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
¾ Cup packed brown sugar
½ Cup sugar
1 egg
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup unsifted flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon nutmeg
3 Cups oats, uncooked
1 bag (12 oz) Ghirardelli Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (for larger size bags, change this measure to “2 cups”)
1 Cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees°F. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color (about 4 minutes). Add vanilla and egg, mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir flour with baking soda, salt and spices; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie, 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on a cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling racks. Store in tightly covered container. Makes about 6 dozen 2-inch cookies.

WDB #6

Playful Pups

Check out Sweetnicks to see all the other cute dogs in this weeks WDB!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

43 Things

Do you have a life list? You know, the one that has all of the milestones you'd like to accomplish in your life. I came across this website 43 Things that addressed just that. I haven't explored it much, but did enter a few things I want to do.

Some of my entries that are beyond the obvious (the obvious: find my soul mate, raise children, give back to my community, etc).

1. Write a book and have it published (Yeah, those who know me will be really surprised at this! I'm not looking to do this tomorrow, but it's an idea that's been in my head).
2. Take a photography course and use what I learn
3. Live in or near the mountains
4. Complete an Olympic triathlon
5. Get organized and stay that way
6. Put in a garden
7. Start a familiy respite care program for families of children with disabilities

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Everyone Sing: Happy Birthday

Go on over to Lula and wish her a Happy Birthday on Wednesday. I won't tell her age, but it has a 5 and a 3 and she is still of child-bearing age (and she's older than I am!) :)))))

Happy Birthday Lula! This marks the 24th birthday that I have known, that's a lot of years!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Family Wedding

I'm back from my cousin's wedding and am exhausted! I'm not used to staying up until 3 am. It was an honor to stand up on the stage at my cousin said his vows to his bride-who has become a good friend of mine over the past several years.

After the reception, some of us in the wedding party went out to a country bar to go dancing. This was a place I've only attended once before, about 10 years ago. Funny thing is, back then, I thought that this place was where an older crowd hung out. Now I'm there and I am part of that 'older crowd'! Nonetheless, we had fun.

Another thing that can make a person feel old--I'm old enough that I can reasonably embarass my 15 year old nephew by dragging him onto the dance floor and telling him to just 'move around, shake your booty'. See, I can't dance. It's not in my blood. Neither is it in his. However, I've come to the point where I don't care if I look like an idiot. I'm just having fun. He just stood there and said, "I don't dance". He did turn a bit red. Here we are before the wedding. I don't think I've gotten him to smile for the camera since he was about 4.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Calypso Cascades & WDB #5

Tonight, I ate something I hadnever eaten before. We have a wonderful new science teacher who is Indian. Last year, she student taught in a class that I was an inclusion teacher in, so I got to know her. Tonight, she saw me working late (something she does often herself, being a new teacher and all) and invited me to dinner. I've eaten at her house before--and it was wonderful. She said it was something quick and easy but I was welcome, so I took her up on it. We a type of mutton curry--the mutton was goat. So, I ate goat. We had the curry, rice, roti, and a yogurt sauce. It was tasty--I got a 2nd serving. Next time, I am going to go over and help her make whatever she makes so I can learn how. I'm excited!

I'm heading to OK tomorrow morning as I am in my cousin's wedding on Saturday. I still need to pack....

So, due to a busy weekend, I'm doing my WDB early. This is another Colorado dog--

Not sure of his name, but he was a dandy! This was another one taken in the sculpture park in Loveland.
Sunday night, be sure to check out all of the other cuties at Sweetnicks site.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sunlit forest path

Is this a real injury?

Bruised by the underwire. Yes, it happened to me. I guess it's shouldn't be too unusual or surprising--I mean, those wires can be painful in other ways! So, yesterday one of my student's slapped another student. I sat her down in the rocking chair, bent down and proceeded to sternly chastise her, while holding onto her hands. This student likes to tuck her leg up under her when she sits. She went to do this, and I guess my chest was in the way as on the way up under herself, her foot planted into my chest and back I flew onto my tailend. She just happened to do this near the middle of my chest, and the bottom part of the underwires slightly bruised me! It wasn't with much force...I don't think her intent was in line with the result. Moral of the story: Don't put yourself in an uncompromising position when dealing with these kids! This will be useful come next week when our new student arrives. I hear he's a quick one!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Delicate Balance

I got another new student today, this one in my reading/language arts class. He is a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from MS. He seems like a sweet kid, though is very shy and possibly socially immature. He talked a little, saying "Our house was just gone." At one point, he said everything was gone, shook his head and looked lost for a minute, and then went back to his reading.
Later, I was helping him with his locker, and he shook his head in disbelief while saying, "Everyone here is so nice." Made me wonder what he's seen to think we're so nice (not that we aren't nice, but I think we are normal, ya know? Of course we welcome him and any other kids we come across!) My eyes started to get a little watery.
So, I'm afraid that class (up to 9 now, 7 boys and 2 girls--rather large for a sped class) is going to turn back into a 3 ring circus while I get him in the swing of things. Fortunately, I have 1 student I can ask to help him while I put out the various other fires I deal with over the nearly 2 hours I'm with this group. I hope the other boys don't scare him too much--they can be a rowdy bunch (I'm working on toning that down--any advice???)

Monday, October 10, 2005

White Flower (Isn't that a profound title?)

I love nature shots--I'm not artistic at all, but do snap lots of pics trying to get that shot that is worthy of hanging on my walls. I'm annoyed that I was slightly off-center on this one. Oh well.

Most of my musing is currently going on inside my head. Nothing major, just trying to figure some things out. :)

Dinner was CL's Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup and a salad with red leaf lettuce, spinach, yellow bell pepper, avocado, grape tomatoes, candied pecans, scallions, feta cheese, and a balsamic-apple cider dressing.
Last night was the 2nd time to make this soup--it's a definite keeper. I may make it again for my lunch bunch on Thursday.

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup
From Cooking Light October 2005

Cooking the vegetables at the high temperature of 500° caramelizes their natural sugars and deepens their flavor; the liquid poured over them ensures they won't burn. Prepare the soup up to two days ahead; reheat over medium heat before serving.

1 cup less-sodium beef broth, divided
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
5 garlic cloves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained
Cooking spray
3/4 cup half-and-half
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 500°.
Combine 1/2 cup of broth, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Place onion, garlic, and tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour broth mixture over tomato mixture. Bake at 500° for 50 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

Place tomato mixture in a blender. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and half-and-half, and process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids (I skip this step, making the soup more of a bisque rather than a brothy soup). Garnish with cracked black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)

CALORIES 120(35% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 3g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 3.8g; CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 120mg; SODIUM 452mg; FIBER 1.7g; IRON 1.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.9g

Julie Grimes
Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2005

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A lot on my mind

I have a lot on my mind this evening, but nothing I want to say. So, since I have a handful of pictures left from my vacation, I'll share one or a few.

This was taken in the sculpture garden in Loveland, CO. It's a short walking distance from C&J's house so we took an afternoon walk yesterday before I left.

WDB #4

Once again, it's time for weekend dog blogging, hosted by Sweetnicks.

I'm back from vacation and my doggies were glad to see me. Harley is acting a bit hurt by the fact I was gone (or maybe he missed the neighbor boy who took care of them?)

Peanut looks like she has grown in my absence!

And since they are so darn cute and lovable, here's another shot of Bria and Jacey from Colorado, taken this afternoon shortly before I left. These are two of the sweetest dogs--so cute and loving! They loved to burst into my bedroom every morning to greet me with never ending energy.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday already?

Where did my week go??? I am not ready for my little vacation to be over, but tomorrow at about 6:45 pm, I'm heading back to Texas.

First, a dad update. I talked to him for a while yesterday. He gets his staples out today (yay) and will find out if/when they are doing surgery on his toes. He has cabin fever-I think this is the most inactive he's been in his life. He did say he was cleaning out the 'frig a shelf at a time. LoL. His spirits were OK. My 15 year old nephew has moved in with them, so I think that will be an arrangement that will be beneficial for them all--they need each other.

I spent the middle of this week visiting relatives. Wednesday, I met my aunt from Colorado Springs at a place called California Cafe for a late lunch. It was a nice visit, a good time to catch up. While at the mall where the restaurant was, I saw an Enstrom's Almond Toffee kiosk. Oh my. I've ordered this stuff off of the internet before--it's delicious! I was excited to see they had dark chocolate now as well. So, I bought 3 lbs. (1 for me uncle-and me, 1 for my C&J-the friends I am staying w/ in Loveland, and 1 for my neighbors who are watching my dog.) This stuff is divine!

Wednesday night, I met my cousin for dinner. I hadn't seen him since our grandma died 3 1/2 years ago, so again it was good to catch up if only for a short visit. I'm just disappointed it didn't work out for me to see his kids. Maybe next time.

Thursday, I got up early so I could get a haircut! I haven't had time to and it's been about 4 months since the last. I saw an Aveda salon near where I was staying and was able to get in. Yay! I then drove to Boulder, where I met Robyn, a fellow CL BB poster, for lunch at Breadworks. Thanks again Robyn! It was a perfect day for soup--we both had a corn and roasted red pepper soup. It was chock full of veggies-yum!

After lunch, I walked around the Pearl Street Mall area. I found the Lush store and loaded up. I've read about Lush and have wanting to try some of their products. I also got some stuff for part of C.'s birthday present. This part of Boulder is such a cute, quaint area at the base of mountains. Perfect! Of course, I now again have the itch to move to Colorado. Those who know me won't be surprised by that. The lifestyle here is just so much more "me" than that in North Texas. But North Texas is so much closer to home.....

Last night, C. and I did some shopping in Ft. Collins and then had Ethiopian food again. It was perfect--I love it! It's filling without being heavy and seems very healthy. We had the mushroom dish again---a favorite of both of us, as well as another spicy veggie dish with cabbage, onions, ginger, garlic, and other spices.

Up next, a Happy Hour w/ C.'s work and a Girl's Night Out. Tomorrow, I think we are hiking early (more pictures) and then coming back to watch OU/Texas and then head to the airport. :(

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Now it's time for some narration to go along with the pictures below.
The first group were taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, on the Wild Basin Trail south of Estes Park. We hiked up to the Calypso Cascades, which was about 2 miles. We intended to go further to Ouzel Falls, a 40 foot fall, but the sun was fast setting and we didn't want to be stuck on the mountain during the dark. We may get up early Saturday and go back, as I don't fly out until Saturday evening.

Dinner Saturday night was at an Ethiopian restaurant in Ft. Collins. One word can sum up this experience: Spectacular! The injera is what they use in place of utensils. It is a spongy crepe like bread made from a grain called teft, which has its own natural fermentation. This gives it a slighly sour flavor. You tear off pieces of the injera and scoop the food up with it, roll it up, and eat. I can't remember the name of everything we had, but it was all good. Our favorite was a mushroom dish with zucchini and onions. I also liked the roasted lentils--very tasty. We ordered everything 'Ethiopian Spicy', which is how they eat it. It wasn't necassarily hot, but used lots of spices--lots of flavor. I hope we have a chance to go later in the week--this was an awesome meal and the service was spectacular. My friends are regulars there and have gotten to know the cook's 3 daughters, who often wait tables. Genuine friendliness (not the fake "I'm just working for a tip" kind is always nice to see!

Sunday, C and I did a hike closer to home. It was in the foothills and didn't provide as much shade. The views were pretty, but not as much so as the previous day's hike. It was more strenuous--maybe because of the lack of shade and the super hot sun. I'm glad I packed that one pair of shorts--I needed them!

After the hike, we decided a nice big salad would be great for dinner.

Can you guess all the ingredients? I think we had about 10 or was yummy and hit the spot.

Monday was spent working--C had to work, her husband was off flying (he's a pilot), and I slept in and got some papers graded. I made CL's (10/05) Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup (yum) and grilled cheeses for dinner and then we saw Lord of the Dance. It was fun--I've never been to anything quite like that.

Tuesday, I woke up to a cool, dreary morning--the type of weather I was hoping for when I left Dallas! I got around and drove to Littleton and am now at my uncle's place. We drove around earlier today and had a beer and a bowl of green chili downtown at a bar called The Hornet. It was tasty and hit the spot on this cool afternoon.

That's about it for now.....

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Weekend Dog Blog #3

This is the 3rd week that Sweetnicks has hosted Weekend Dog Blog. I am on vacation in Colorado so am borrowing my friends' dogs Bria and Jacey. They are cute and much harder to keep still than my own dogs! Introducing Bria and Jacey! Jacey is in the front--she's the younger of the two and easier to photograph.

I left the heat of Dallas, with sweatshirts, jeans, and boots in tow. What did I wear today? Running shorts and a t-shirt! We did a 4 mile hike that was brutal only because the sky was clear and the sun was beating down on us. We were in the foothills so there wasn't as many trees as yesterday to shade us. The initial climb was very steep. It was a good workout and allowed us some nice views. We didn't see any wildlife this time, other than a bluejay.

Natural Beauty

This picture shows the results of a lightning strike fire in 1978. Almost 30 years, and it is still recovering. The aspens are all turning yellow and are just beautiful!

Blue skies above us--yesterday was a beautiful day!

We saw 4 mule deer! This one was brave and hung back a little to watch us watch him! We met back up with them further down the trail. For a short while, they were walking parallel to us on their own trail. It was cool--they were really close.

A burst of color among some dead trees

More burst of color--the aspens were almost glowing in the otherwise dark forest.

A close-up of a small waterfall.