Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring? Where'd you go!

It's been awhile since my last post, almost 4 months in fact, and for anyone who reads this blog religiously (sarcasm is still in tact folks) I apologize. My computer crashed right around Christmas and due to a screw up on Office Max's end and the misplacing of my original receipt on my end, I've been sans computer at home for awhile. Add to that the extreme stress the "re-organization" of our school district has had on me and you get a 4 month break from blogging. I have a new laptop and know where I'm going next year (go Eagles!) so I'm back and (somewhat) rearing to go. Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's move on shall we?

We're having a typical Idaho spring which means it's sunny, warm and gorgeous one day and snowy, gusty and cold the next. As I type this I'm starring out at our backyard and the snow leftover from yesterday. We don't get in like a lamb and out like a lion; we get in like

Dear Mother Nature,
     You're a busy lady, believe me I get it! You've got a lot of land to cover and you're just one person... but I'd just like to take a moment to let ya know, respectively of course, I AM OVER THE WEATHER BACK AND FORTH! Pick one (sunny and warm or snowy and cold) and stick with it! Personally, I vote for sunny skies and warm temperatures because I really want to wear flip flops to school without my toes freezing! I want to watch my students walk to school in shorts and no coats without wondering which one is going to be struck down by pneumonia. And I wanna get a tan on our field trip next month. So please Mama, enough with the cold and snow!

As I look around I see signs that a "normal" Spring is around the corner, we've got flowers slowing coming to life in our front yard and leaves are starting to sprout. Driving around I've seen some cute baby animals, which is not helping the "I want a puppy" mood I'm finding myself in, and the annoying songbird that perches outside my bedroom window is back. All these things make the snow in my backyard just that much more difficult to deal with. Sure it'll be gone by tomorrow, maybe even later today but it's April...

Okay, weather rant is over, for now. If it snows again I cannot guarantee that I won't have  full blown meltdown and I'll tell y'all now that it won't be purty!

In the next few weeks I'll be posting some of the many new recipes I'm dying to try as well as a few Pinterest crafts I'll be attempting. Should be interesting so I hope you'll stop by and check in to see how things are coming along.

Whew! It feels good to be back!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Dream Reallized!

For our anniversary in October Ben bought me a lovely KitchenAid stand mixer at the local Target. Now, I've wanted one of these bad boys for AGES and I was so excited that all my (not so subtle) hinting had finally paid off! There was just one problem; the mixer he bought was white. I fully realize and acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things color shouldn't count because it doesn't change how something functions but what can I say, I wanted color! In all the time I've dreamed about owning my very own KitchenAid, I never once imagined a white one. Ben was his awesome self and didn't care if I returned the one he purchased if it meant I'd get the exact mixer I wanted. These is why I keep the man around! **Mwah, shmoop!** So I took the mixer back to Target and looked through the colors they had and was disappointed; it was the standard red, black, chrome which along with white were colors I wasn't interested in. There was a bright side to their not having a color I wanted... a gift card which I used to buy our Christmas tree and dresser (which Ben is attempting to assemble as I type!).

I looked online for several more weeks and didn't see what I liked for a price that I was okay with paying. Then QVC came in and saved the day! My mom is slightly addicted to the Q and has converted me as well; I find myself checking out their inventory especially for kitchen items and very rarely do I NOT find something I can't live without! About a month ago they had the KitchenAid Pro Version of the mixer on sale for a fab price and 6 easy pay (I love being able to spread the payment out), but best of all they had the color I'd been drooling over for months... tangerine. So without hesitation I placed my order and a week later this little beauty showed up at my door!

I was so excited that I could get her out of the box fast enough! Ben was pleasantly surprised with the color, but it's Florida Gators orange so I knew he would be! I had the perfect spot on my counter all picked out and don't ya know... she fits perfectly.

I like to imagine that the mixer and my awesome Kuerig (another fabulous Ben present) have long conversations about how happy they make me. I haven't used her as yet but I have all sorts of fabulous holiday recipes that I plan on whipping up and this mixer will save me so much work.

So dear readers, what should I make first? I was thinking about the chocolate peppermint crunch cookies I posted yesterday in my Edible Pinterest post. For those of you with a KitchenAid, what do you LOVE to make?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pinterest Craft Ideas (Edible Edition) and my 1st Link Up!

Yesterday, I shared some of the awesome Christmas crafts I've fallen in love with thanks to that pesky Pinterest. Today, I thought I'd share some more goodies but this time I'm going to focus on the edible! Without fail, the first thing I go to when I log-in to Pinterest is check out all the deliciousness on the Food & Drink page. I end up pinning a dozen things swearing I'll make them and when I do (which is maybe once out of every 10 recipes) they're amazing!

As you'll see shortly, I LOVE the combination of chocolate and peppermint! These flavors meld together is just such an absolutely perfect way. What I've never understand is society's insane instance on relegating peppermint goodness to the holidays! When I discovered that Coffee Mate had (finally) decided to sell their peppermint mocha coffee creamer year round I'm pretty sure I jumped up and down and giggled... a lot!

How could you not want to eat these?!?
These cookies look so amazing that I cannot wait to make a batch! Jaclyn over at Cooking Classy is the mastermind behind these Brownie Peppermint Cookies. The recipe is super simple and yields 3 dozen cookies.

Perfect for all of my cocoa loving co-workers!
I love the folks I work with but being a teacher means a lot of co-workers and a tight budget. That's why I love giving homemade gifts; I get to be crafty and thrifty at the same time! Plus, I've always thought there's something about a homemade present that is just so much more personal than running out and buying a bunch of random little trinkets. This peppermint hot cocoa recipe from My Recipes is just the ticket! And hello... how cute is it in a mason jar!

I. Want. These. Now!
I've been dying to make homemade marshmellows for awhile now but I keep finding myself supremely intimidated! Today I came across this recipe for homemade peppermint marshmellows at Jen's recipe is straight forward and looks really easy to follow. Once I get my hands on a candy thermometer I will definitely take a crack at these bad boys. I can already imagine them melting away in a cup of hot cocoa!
Would eating a peppermint mocha cupcake while drinking a peppermint mocha be overkill?
A wise woman once said "You can't buy love but you can buy cupcakes and that's about the same thing". And with these peppermint mocha cupcakes I think love is right around the corner. Naomi at Bakers Royale (which I just discovered and am obsessed with) took her inspiration from my all time favorite Starbucks beverage. You get it all in this little powerhouse; coffee, chocolate, peppermint and frosting. Hello perfection!

These are too cute and I know they'd be delicious!
Apples are one of my favorite things in the world and as far as I'm concerned the world would be a better place if we all ate more apples. Now I realize apple drinks, especially warm apple drinks are associated more with Thanksgiving than Christmas but I'm a rebel and hopelessly devoted to apples.  To re-create these darling drinks you'll want to prepare your favorite apple cider; I love the idea of making a big batch in your crock pot and filling your home with that incredible smell. Then  you'll need to hollow out your apples, be careful with your knife and enjoy using a melon baller! Finally, fill the apple cups with your  apple cider concoction.  Thanks to Jamielyn at I {heart} Nap Time for tracking this gem down and sharing it with the world!

As a side note, stop by my awesome cousin Sarah's blog for a fabulous Sunday Funday link up party! I'm going in for the very first time; I feel like a real life blogger!

Pinterest Craft Ideas (Christmas Edition)


Pinterest is my favorite website ever! If that hasn't been made clear by now then you just have been paying attention! You can find anything and everything on Pinterest; heck you can find things you didn't know you were looking for but without which your life will never really be complete! Several weeks ago they proved their genius and added a "holidays" board and man alive has it been a wealth of inspiration for me. I thought I'd share some of the most fabulous things I've found thus far (yeah, that's right; I just dropped a thus) to help those who might not have found their holiday spirit just yet.

First up are these totally amazing glitter trees from the crafty girls over at Eighteen25. I love how simple these are to make. You take the cone floral forms (in whatever heights your heart desires) and coat them with spray adhesive. Once that's done all that's left is to cover the forms with glitter and repeat till thoroughly coated. I love that they used forms in varying heights as it adds depth and dimension and their color choices are spot on! That teal is so unbelievably gorgeous that I can't stand it! You can also find that adorable print (the true centerpiece of the photo) on their site as well; and get this... it's a free printable! The girls at Eighteen25 are just that cool. I fully intend on making these (minus the stands) tomorrow.

Anyone else dying over this mantle display?

Next up is something I don't think I'd ever have the nerve or patience to attempt but that reminds me of some many people I love. Plus, it's just so ridiculously cool! I give to you a Christmas tree made out of... books!!!! Patti over at Pandora's Box spotted this insane tree at her local Anthropologie which makes total sense because this is what those crazy folks do! If you're not familiar with Anthropologie consider yourself lucky; this site sells gorgeous clothes, bed linens and home decor goods that you would kill to have but at prices that make you (well me anyway) want to cry.
If only I had this many books!
Keeping with the tree theme, look what the marvelous Jen and her friends, over at Tater Tots and Jello whipped up! How cute are these cupcake liner trees!?! Uh, maybe so cute I literally ahhhed out loud when I first saw them! All you need to create your own trees is some 12x12 card stock, seasonal cupcake liners and tape! For (really easy to follow) step by step instructions pop on over to Tater Tots and Jello!
I am in LOVE with the cupcake liners the girls used. Too perfect!
I love my tree this year but every time I look at it I feel like something is missing and that something is a tree skirt. But not just any old tree skirt will do, I want one with charm and character. Unfortunately, those are really hard to find at the store without forking over a crazy amount of money. Thankfully, during one of the many hours I spent on Pinterest while home sick the last few days, I found this beauty... a no sew (can I get an AMEN) ruffled tree skirt. Chantel at Done Over Decor used a tree skirt she saw, on where else but Pinterest, as her inspiration. She used leftover fabric, burlap purchased at Wal-Mart and her trusty glue gun to cover up her old tree skirt. She's got great instructions for how to make your own at her site. Check it out!!!
Charming, clever, adorable
The last craft I'm going to share in this post brings me joy; pure and simple! I love how versatile you can be with this project; you can use wooden or papier mache letters and cover them with paint, glitter, fabric or scrapbooking paper. For the O you can re-purpose a jingle wreath (love those things in a way that is just so wrong) or create an awesome ornament wreath. No matter how you approach this, you're going to end up with something, well joyous! Kristina (whose work can be found at her Etsy shop) is incredible for dreaming this up. She's got some fabulous stuff in her shop, Something2beSaid, so take a few minutes and check her out!
Joy, it's one of my favorite words!
So many cute things and not nearly enough time to make them all! I hope you've seen something that puts you in the holiday spirit and maybe gives you that little push you need to be creative this season. I have some many other things that I can't wait to share with you so stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mount Rushmore

Over Thanksgiving break Ben and I took a marathon road trip to North Dakota and back. I get it, believe me I do, not many people would get super excited about going to North Dakota but I was thrilled! First, I was stoked to cross it off my States to Visit list (ha ha, beat ya Dad!) and second, I happy to finally get to see where Ben grew up. He sees my hometown every day so it was great to turn the tables on him. On our way out to NoDak we stopped to visit some friends in Bozeman, MT (where is was INSANELY cold) and Deadwood, South Dakota (another state crossed off the list, woot!). We got into Deadwood late and didn't get much of a chance to sight see but from what I could tell, they like their bars, casinos and Christmas lights! But before we hit Deadwood we made a stop; one I'd been looking forward to for ages!

Now, I am a history teacher, which means I nerd out big time over things that most people find not at all or only mildly interesting. Ben knows this about me and on our never ending road trip he was kind enough to indulge one of my long time history nerd wishes and drove (only slightly) out of the way so that I could see Mt. Rushmore!

As soon as you turn into the parking area you've got a great view of The Rush as I've referred to it in class; makes it seem way cooler which makes me seem way cooler! Once you enter the park (and get past the rest rooms, cafe and gift shop) you walk through a kind of archway lined with all 50 state flags. It took us a few minutes but we realized that the flags were in alphabetical order. I thought this was a really fun and interesting touch.
The flag archway.

The view from the upper deck of the observatory. They had those old timey coin operated viewing machines to get an even better close up but we didn't have any coins on us!!!
I have to admit that I was expecting something bigger. I guess all those up close pictures I've seen over the years distorted my expectations. Nevertheless, Mt. Rushmore is still really impressive! Standing in front of the presidents I found myself a little overwhelmed at all the time, thought and effort that went into crafty this monument. It really is a feat of human ingenuity, determination and perseverance.
George's is looking pretty good!
In 8th grade we study American history from the time of colonies up till Reconstruction after the Civil War. One of the resources I use in class is a great mini-series that the History Channel did last year called America: The Story of US. It is an absolutely fabulous look at our country's history from the earliest colonies through modern day. If you haven't seen it I urge to watch it and soon!

Poor Abe, so streaky compared to the others. But I found that kind of fitting what with his upbringing.
Anyway, in one of the episodes (the title of it escapes me at the moment) they detail the creation of Mt. Rushmore and wow is it wild! Men in harnesses dangled down the side of the mountain and drilled holes into the rock, then they shoved sticks of dynamite into the holes and scampered away hoping to be out of range before thing blew up. While this totally makes sense giving the methods available at the time it's still crazy to watch and ever crazier to think that people risked life and limb to carve the faces of our presidents into the side of a mountain!!!
I love Teddy's glasses and 'stache! It's all about the details, right?!?
I think what struck me most of all about Mt. Rushmore was how wonderfully close the carved faces were to those of the real man. You won't get exact perfection but the likenesses are just so dead on. The skill and precision it takes to accomplish something like is wicked impressive (to paraphrase one of my favorite history teachers, Mrs. Lise Pinkham).

Even though it wasn't quite what I'd expected I was still awe-struck by Mount Rushmore and am so glad that Ben likes me enough to so seriously indulge my nerdiness. I doubt he'll read this but if by chance you wander by kind sir, thank you again!

So here it is; question time! Have you ever been to The Rush? If so what were your impressions of it? What other national monuments have you visited and which ones stick out the most to you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Holidays

So... hi there folks. Long time, no blog. Now, if you'll be so kind as to indulge me I'm going to breeze right over the fact that I haven't posted anything in 3 months, saving the reasons why for another time. Instead I'm going to talk about pretty, pretty Christmas lights and decorations!

Over the weekend I finally worked up the motivation to pull out the ONE tote of Christmas decorations I'd had stored in my  parent's garage and sort through my goodies. Unfortunately, during it's time in the garage my tote was kind enough to play host to a mouse... who left me lots of little presents. How very "tis the season" of him. Luckily most of my stuff made it through the hibernation just fine. After a another trip to my parent's to pick out some of my ornaments and grabbing the rest of my totes from the storage unit I was ready to rock and roll. Or at least decorate!

The little snowman and gingerbread house are actually a salt and pepper shaker set!!!
I love decorating for the holidays. The lights, the snowmen, the trees; they always brings a smile to my face even when I'm in a terrible mood. I find such joy in going through all the holiday treasures I've acquired over the years and finding just the right spot for them. Over the last few years I haven't been able to decorate as much as I would have liked because my living spaces have been so tiny so I've been totally jazzed about gussying up the new place.

I might have a slight snowman addiction!
I think one of my favorite things this year was putting up our tree. I've had trees before but they were always little things, and usually consisted of metal wires and jingle bells. But this year I splurged and bought a 6 1/2 foot pre-lit tree at Target. I got some classic green and red glass ornaments and silver tinsle to go with the Coca-Cola ornaments we picked up in Minnesota when we stopped by to visit Ben's grandparents.

Not normally a tinsel girl but this year I'm really feeling it!
One tree might be enough for most people but let's be honest, I'm not most people so I'll have two trees thank you very much! I feel in love with this little neon green tree and super bright ornaments several years ago when a normal sized tree just wouldn't work. I set this up in what Ben affectionately refers to at the "man" room but since he hasn't taken ownership (e.g. put his darn posters up) I staked my claim! He acts like he hates the tree because it obscures the tv from his usual spot on the couch but he hasn't moved it yet so I'm calling his bluff!

Mini tree and yet another snowman... told you I had a problem!
When Ben and I moved into the house in July, I made what some called a "questionable" decision and put my massive dresser in the dining room to use as a buffet. Well friends, that questionable decision turned out to be genius because I'm able to display even more of my lovely holiday treasures! Oh and some totally adorable (if not a bit out of date) pictures of little E!!!

How adorable is little Evan?
Yup, even more Evan! And a musical Coca-Cola Santa!!!

I thought about swapping out my puppy poster but I love it too much! Plus the red adds a little something, don't ya think?
Ben, or my little Grinch as I've refered to him on occasion, was adament about not helping me put up the decorations because (and I quote) "if you put them up you just have to take them down!" Despite his bravado, Ben was a huge help in putting up our newly acquired Christmas village. Though his helpfulness might have something to do with the village being his and what not... Oh well, he's tall and can reach heights that even a chair cannot help me achieve!

When we were sorting through all the village pieces I came across the Drive In below and knew it had to come home with us. *Favorite Holiday Tradition Alert* When I was growing up, Mom made us watch White Christmas, and horror of horrors, sing along! I'm not going to lie but I used to dread it; however as I've grown older I realize what an awesome tradition it is and how much I enjoy watching the movie and singing along. Having the White Christmas Drive In is just so fantastic and will be a forever reminder of Mom and our tradition!

Snow, snow, snow, snow....

Letters from the (L)edge
 I'm not 100% finished but I really love coming home, snuggling up on the couch and just staring at all the pretty, pretty lights!

So my loves, what was your favorite holiday tradition growing? Is there a tradition you've carried into adulthood? Share please!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baby did a bad, bad thing!

Several months ago I blogged about my failed attempt at making Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies. I have to say I was really bummed when they didn't work out because in my mind they were going to be EPIC and would transform me into some sort of kitchen diva! After the whole debacle I decided to step away from the stuffed cookie thing for awhile but today the urge struck. I was overwhelmed by the desire, nay, the need to make some sort of baked good stuffed with Oreo deliciousness so I headed over to my newest obsession, Pinterest, for some inspiration. I found the following, I made the following, I ate the following and I will be taking the following to school tomorrow!

All the images *as well as the basic recipe* were taken from, because I'm lame and left my camera at school. I attempted to capture a few shots on my phone but yeah, not so much! Amanda's site has lots of great recipes and photography, so you should take a few minutes and check it out!

So without further ado, here is what I found myself making this afternoon!! Chocolate Chip Cookie and Oreo Fudge Brownies!!!

How incredible do these bad boys look? They combine three of my favorite desserts so you know they're going to be fabulous! Thanks Amanda!!!
To get the ball rolling you need to make some chocolate chip cookie dough. I used the Nestle Tollhouse recipe because it is my favorite. Once the dough is ready get out a 9x13 pan and line it with wax paper; this will make removal from the pan so much easier. When the pan is lined, pour in the dough and spread it out so it covers the bottom of the pan like such...
Step 1: Cookie dough crust

Next, top the cookie dough with several rows of Oreos...
Step 2: Layer Oreos over the cookie dough
Whip up some brownie batter, according to the package directions and pour over the Oreos...
Step 3: Pour brownie batter over the Oreos.
Spread the brownie batter evenly over the Oreos. In her recipe, Amanda was very daring and added 1/4 cup of hot fudge sauce to the batter...
Step 4: Evenly spread the brownie batter over the Oreos and bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes

Bake these at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. These are likely to be some of the longest 45 minutes of your life but your patience will be rewarded with these...

I ate one and it was FABULOUS!!! These are definitely not something that you can keep just laying around the house so I plan on taking them to school and sharing the deliciousness with my co-workers.

If you make these I promise you won't regret it one bit! I do suggest that you wait for a time when you know you'll have a ton of people coming over otherwise you'll eat them all yourself and that would be a bad, bad thing!

***This is obviously a lighthearted and frivolous post on what is a very somber day for our country. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who acted so bravely and heroically on September 11, 2001 and to all the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country in the days since. I'm a extremely grateful for your service and pray for your speedy return home! May you and your families be blessed!