Thursday, December 31, 2009

Speeding into 2010

I feel like life is going way too fast.
My Christmas break is flying by. By the time I look at the clock, it's already 5pm and I think, where did the day go? And better yet? What did I accomplish? (Nevermind the fact that I sometimes don't get up til 10 or 11, no matter how hard I try to be up by 7 or 8... getting use to 4 AM for school is gonna be hard in the next few weeks.)
So anyways, Christmas came and went and was great.
My family got me way too much, and it felt strange seeing my living room floor full of so many gifts, when I truly expected this Christmas to be a bit less because of the economy. I know we have all been so blessed.
I gave Jake his Unicycle, some clothes, a bow tie (his newest obsession, and it was hard to find, too! Penny's, Dillards, and Belk hardly even had them!), DVD. He got some books, and a nice coat from his parents, and gift cards to Lowes & Sears from mine. He got me a KITCHENAID STAND MIXER!!!! I was so excited. He got one of the Professional kinds, not the Artsian. His parents also gave us a set of stainless steel cookware. They game me some clothes and a tea set that I've been in love with. My parents gave me this AMAZING new vacuum that makes cleaning FUN (yes, I really did say that!) and COWBOY BOOTS like I have been wanting for so long!
We had such a big Christmas!
Better than all the gifts was all the getting together. We had all our holiday parties and it was good to see everyone. I just hated that I kinda felt 'out of it' all Christmas, mostly because it felt like it came faster than I ever had anticipated. Like the holidays sped up! Now it's already New Year's Eve?! INSANE.

Well, anyways. Christmas was GREAT & I know I felt truly blessed to have all that I have been given.

New Years always brings a since of reflection to me as I look back over the past year- and it seems 2009 had a lot of sadness for a lot of people. The celebrity deaths this year were mind blowing- Michael Jackson, Ed Mcmahon, Farah Fawcett, Ted Kennedy, Natasha Richardson, John Travolta's son, Patrick Swayze, Bea Arthur, Brittany Murphy, David Carradine, Billy Mays, football players Steve McNair & Chris Henry- it seemed like a lot, and it seemed every time I watched TV, the nation mourned yet another star. Plus, with the economy, it would seem that this year should have been remembered as a sad one. But for me, it's not. A whole lot of good happened this year. My Spring Semester was easy as pie, I learned to love yoga, I made the Dean's List twice, we were given a beautiful March snow, many friends and family members got married and settled down, babies for born, and the economy still managed to pick itself up a little bit, regardless of bleak predictions. I've felt myself grow, change, mature... At the end of the year, I always like to look back at my New Years Resolutions from the year and see how well I did. So, lets look at how I did. My resolutions were to pray more, learn to like exercise, read more, and believe in myself. Prayer life started off well, but I'll be honest, during this last semester I put Him on the back burner a lot more than I should have... yoga helped me to learn to exercise, and I read a lot more than normal (even when I didn't have time!) and I really have gotten better at believing in myself. Over all, I did okay.
I'm working on my New Years Resolutions now, & here are the things I'm planning to do in 2010.
1. Lose some freaking weight. I mean really. 2009 has not been a good year in terms of my waistline. I came off BCP and gained 20 pounds, plus 10 more from stress, holiday eating, and a lack of time to work out. Soooo. By graduation, I want to lose 30 pounds. I am gonna work my tail off to make time for working out and eating right and gonna get it off of me. I hate looking in the mirror these days, and that's not okay!
2. Pray more. When will I learn to put what's on my heart at HIS feet? I really, really need to get better with giving it all to Him. I know I'll never be able to check it off my list of resolutions, because I am a sinner, but I appreciate the opportunity to refresh this each New Years.
3. No shortcuts.
I don't really know how to explain this one, other than making sure that I, as an intern, a wife, a teacher, a Christian... do not want to take the easy way rather than the right way. I hope that makes sense.
4. Be an active part of our budgeting this year. I helped plan out our 2010 budget and I felt proud if myself for staying focused on it and contributing. Usually hubby is the financial planner, but this year we are really working on making it a 2 man operation! :)
5. I want to get on a better sleep schedule. I think this will help with numbers 2 & 3 too!
6. Volunteer. Maybe this summer I will help deliver meals on wheels? I wanna look back on 2010 and know I did something to better my community and myself. :)

There you have it. My 6 resolutions for 2010.
Now, I am posting this blog, and heading off to get dressed for Hubby's family's New Years festivities! Love to all. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy!

Aw, my dear friend Melissa at Little Mrs. Married gave me an award! Why, I don't know since I have been doing so bad at updating! LOL. It's a happy blog award! As a recipient, I am supposed to list 10 things that make me happy & then pass this award along to 5 blogs that make me happy. Being that I am so incredibly blessed, this list won't be hard at all.
1. My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
With all the Holiday Hooplah (see last post!) and having to clean and cook and shop and having company over, we missed a couple of weeks of church and it really dawned on me that part of my difficulty with this holiday season in particular is that I have been inundating myself with the secular side of Christmas and not really surrounding myself the most important religious aspect of Christmas. Sure, I love Rodolph and Frosty and magic of Santa, but they are nothing compared to the magic of the birth of Christ. There was something about singing "O Holy Night" as a congregational this past Sunday, surrounded by all the lights and poinsettias (our church is breathtaking at Christmas... just sayin') and looking around at the faces of our church family and seeing Christmas carols of songs of real WORSHIP and not just holiday songs we sing out of habit kind of blew me away. It dawned on me that CHRIST was what was missing in my Christmas spirit and I felt so overwhelmed. It was definitely one of those moments when you feel Christ's hand on you, and I can definitely say it was moment of pure happinness. :)
2. My grades this semester!
I made 3 As, 2 Ss (S means Satisfactory- I had two courses listed as S/U as in satisfactory or unsatisfactory; basically pass or fail, and one B+ and I made the Dean's List again! :)
I don't have to tell you how HARD this semester was and how happy this makes me!
3. Family Togetherness!
I recently hosted one of the family get-togethers for the holidays and had 32 family members packed into my house. Yes, 32. Only my cousin's wife (who was working) and his son (who is in the Army and wasn't yet home for Christmas) were not there. Now, it was a tight squeeze because our house isn't that big- it's just a 3BR average brick home- but seeing everyone gathering in my kitchen, filling up my living room, and all together for the holidays made me so happy.
4. Traditions
Jake and I have this tradition of drinking a glass of Duplin (a NC winery, my favorite) Christmas Eve wine and eating a slice of Southern Supreme fruit cake before going to bed on Christmas Eve. I love things like that!
5. Goodwill- I love being thrifty. :)
6. Cookbooks
I read them like novels, cover to cover. They make me smile.
7. Bust-a-gut laughter!
Nothing feels quite as good as laughing until you can't breathe.
8. My camera.
My Canon Rebel makes me happy because nothing makes me more UNHAPPY than crappy pictures! And my Canon take good ones!
9. New bedding
Soft pillows, pretty patterns, the smell of Gain or Downey or Snuggle?
Need I say more?
10. Winter snow!
Snow balls, snow men, and best of all, SNOW CREAM!!! I AM SO READY!

Thanks, Melissa!
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Now, I am passing this on to-
Charlotte, Krystal, Brooke, Amie, and Jessica! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Hooplah! (How do you spell hoolah?)

Okay, so the semester has officially ended and I have left the land of exams and deadlines and school and somersaulted over the fence to the land of domesticated homemakerness! Yay! Actually, I still have a few things to submit, but eh, there are no deadlines soooo, I'm not rushing to anything!
Good things have happened in the week or so:

1. Whitney invited us to be her guests at the Debutante ball, so Hubby and I drove down last weekend! I loved it! She was debuted our freshman year and it all seems so magical to me. Granted, I'm a southern gal, but the closest thing to debutantes I grew up with were the girls (like me) who owned as many pairs of heels as they did hunting boots! I knew one girl, oh wait, 2... growing up who got debuted, and both of them had daddys involved in local politics. So, it was a new experience and one that was super fun. I would love to be able to have my (future) daughter have the chance to be debuted and all! Plus, one of the best parts was that hubby and I drove 4 hours down to the coast (where Whit lives) and 4 hours back in one weekend, and going both directions, we hardly listened to the radio- we just talked the whole way there and back!

2. Did I mention I'm out of school and the most difficult semester of my collegiate career is history?!!!!! Blissful cooking, cleaning, and sleeping in!

3. In all my freedom, you'd think I'd be in the Christmas spirit but I haven't! I have been such a scrooge! Maybe because money is so tight this time of year, maybe because Christmas means cooking, cleaning, and shopping (which are things I usually love...) and that takes energy and work and maybe I'm just not up to it just yet? Who knows why, but I have been so lackluster and blah! Going to look at the Christmas lights didn't really help either! Anyways, Mama and I went shopping yesterday and I finally got a good jump on my shopping. I will never understand those people (like my aunts) who get it done so quickly! I am now about half way done. Shopping (and laughing) with Mama helped get me in the spirit a little more... I think part of it also is that I am not really a "Christmas person" to be honest. It's not my favorite holiday- Easter is my all time favorite. I think that I just want Hubby at home... All that's really missing is him. School gets out Friday, so I think I am just anxious for him to be out and home with me everyday. I know the students are ready to be out of school and on break, too! LOL.

4. Speaking of teaching, I PASSED the PRAXIS II with FLYING COLORS!
On the PLT (Principles and Teaching and Learning- basically educational theory and practices) I made a 190 out of a possible 200, and I only needed a 160-something to pass. On the Middle School English Language Arts content area test, I made a 195 on it out of a possible 200. I am so excited about this. I just gotta take the Social Studies content area test in January and then I am free and clear! :)

5. My sister in law got me a new puppy!! I know, like I needed one!
But, we have always said, IF we were to ever get another dog it would have to be:
- a rescue dog (I really don't believe in paying big bucks to breed one just because you want a certain kind just for a family pet -I mean, it's one thing if you are raising show dogs or hunting dogs or something specific!- but when so many in shelters need loving homes...rescue dogs just make sense.)
- a miniature dachshund - We've always thought that they were super cute, small enough to be easy to handle, and we like their personalities!
- in dire need of a home... we weren't going to actively seek another dog, just be open to it if we came across what we had always hoped for.
- preferably a year old or less
- mostly housebroken and crate trained
- bubbly and sweet and liked by Bella (a dog she would see as her "sister")

As you can see, we had a very specific idea of what kind of dog we would get and under what circumstances we'd get another dog. Well, my sister in law heard that someone she knows at school found what looked like a pure miniature dachshund in a ditch and rescued it. She took care of it for a while, but couldn't take it in herself and had no choice but take it to a shelter.
Sadly, the local shelter is not one of those no-kill facilitates and they actually euthanize dogs after a week or so. And this poor little doggie had been dropped off a few days before, so her clock was ticking!
My sister in law rushed over to the shelter, called my husband and asked if she could adopt it for me as my present for Christmas, and they discussed it.
This sweet puppy fit all of our hopes and circumstances and it seemed like a perfect match.
So, they couldn't wait til Christmas and surprised me with her this week. I named her Lucy. She's kind of crate trained and kind of house trained. We have had a few accidents, but no more than Bella did when we got her (at about the same age) and Bella RARELY EVER has any sort of accidents and will actually wake me up with her nose if she needs to go out and knows to get into her crate as soon as I put my pocketbook on my shoulder. Plus, with Bella's example, Lucy is learning fast. They get along well, and are (as I type this) currently curled up together beside me, snoring in sync. It's darling.
I kinda freaked out at first worrying what would people think about us having 2 dogs... would it be too much mess, too much work? Put it dawned on me that we had such a specific situation and such a well thought out plan, that Lucy being the perfect dog and having all the qualities we were looking for has to be a sign. I can't help but feel like she was supposed to be a part of our family. It just makes sense in my heart, and I realized that PLENTY of our friends and family have more than 1 dog and they make it work and still have clean homes and busy lives, and furthermore, if I felt lead to give this sweet puppy a family than whose business is it and why should I worry about anything except following where my heart leads?
So, needless to say, I am so very happy about having Lucy join the family. :)
With all the holiday hooplah around, I feel like the Christmas spirit is slowly but surely creeping into me. It just took a very successful and fun shopping trip with my mama, and sweet little puppy to jump start it!
Pictures from the week:


Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm a little wierd.

I was just thinking the other day how I have some strange tendencies... and I like some weird stuff. So here's a little confessional of things I like and do- and please tell me if you do too!

- I am terrified of chin hair. Not kidding. I think this comes from the fact that my grandfather told me I was getting some "peach fuzz" on my face when I was about 12 or 13. Needless to say, I was mortified and have been paranoid of facial hair ever since.
-I'm obsessed with junk yards. You know, where there are tons of old cars, wrecked and in pieces... when I was little, my baby sitter lived near one and the mom of a boy I went to elementary school with worked there, and sometimes my Daddy would stop by there and get random parts for a truck or something he was working on and we would get to explore. I was always curious and loved looking at the jumbled metal and wondering what happened and who the cars and such used to belong to. Kinda of like what stories the cars could tell, if they could talk? I still have this strange fixation with junk yards and it's always tempting to go walk around one. But, I never do. What would I tell people? Sorry, I'm just browsing making up stories in my head? LOL. Weirdo!
- "Grandma Gowns." Okay, so if you came to my lingerie shower back before we got married, you know I have and love pretty, frilly, girly underthings, especially from Victoria Secret. But really, everytime I go in there, what do I look at the most longingly? Nightgowns. Like sleep shirts. And you know what, those are the things I wear most often. I seriously have gowns that look like they should belong to my grandmother- you know it's bad when you go visit a NURSING HOME and see old ladies wearing the basically the same gown you wore last night. Am I horrible? True story, I'm wearing one right now. They are just so soft and comfy!
- Christmas sweaters... you know how there has been this trend of "ugly Christmas sweater" parties lately? What happens when you love them all? I really love Christmas sweaters. Well, holiday sweaters in general. Part of the allure of being a teacher was simple so I could wear them and not get laughed at. In fact, I wore one that wasn't so dramatic, but was one that my mom picked out and was super cute. I actually had a kid compliment me at school while I was teaching! Now granted, I have middle school kids so she could have been secretly making fun of me but I didn't care, I loved wearing it. And then one of my classmates (lovingly) told me she wasn't wearing holiday teacher sweaters until she was forty. I smiled and thought to myself "this is just one more reason I know I'm an old soul!" and walked on. But what's bad is that I remember wanting to wear them at 16 years old, knowing if I dared grace my high school doors with one on, it'd be all she wrote for me.

So, there are 4 quirks I have. 4 things that I know that make me a little wierd, and 4 things that make me me!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lunch success;

I just got home from my first final and selling back some of my books. Blah! I cannot find the words that fully express how much I LOATHE this semester. It sucks.
We're a little (okay, a lot) broke this time of year and I haven't had the time or cash to go get groceries, so I'm taking notes from my sister in law and making what she calls "cream of cabinet" which is essentially totally yummy things thrown together using whatever is in the cabinet or fridge. So here is my cream of cabinet lunch.
I wanted Mexican and some coffee, so I made myself a hot turkey and provolone sandwich and put some Mexican spices on the turkey and it was actually really good. I found some captain wafers salad crackers in my takeout canister (where I keep the extra duck sauce, honey mustard, etc) and put some peanut butter on them and had them with my sandwich. I was actually filling and yummy. But I still had the hankering for coffee, and lo and behold we are out! So on the back of the Equal box (We have been using Equal found in the back of the cabinet (where else?) since we are out of Splenda too!)I find this easy-peasy recipe for a Chai Latte. Close enough right?
So I put my own spin on it (as usual) and it was FABULOUS! So, here it the recipe in case you every get in a similar predicament! LOL

Peppermint Chai Latte
1 cup of Peppermint-flavored tea (freshly made)
4 packs of Equal or Splenda
a capful (1/4 tsp?) of Vanilla extract
1/4 to a 1/2 cup of half and half

While boiling water to make tea, put vanilla extract and half and half into an Irish coffee mug and microwave for about 30 seconds. Pour water over tea bags in another cup and add in the sweetener. Pour in the sweetened hot tea over the hot vanilla milk mixture and stir briefly. Put a couple of spoonfuls of Cool Whip or Ready Whip on top and garnish with a peppermint stick!


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Yay for throwing things together and being successful!

Now, back to studying!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bidding

You know you married an overgrown kid when everything on his Christmas list can be found in the toy section. True story, I just put a bid on Ebay for a unicycle.

Oh, I love him so.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Amie, I'm stealing this from your blog!!! It looked fun! :)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? - Wrapping paper all the way- so much more fun!

2. Real tree or artificial? - I love real trees, but I just don't like having to wait so long to get a real one so that it stays alive and doesn't loose it's needles by Christmas morning, so we have a fake one.

3. When do you put up the tree? - Around Thanksgiving, ASAP.

4. Do you like eggnog? - Nope, but Hubby loves it! And I hear some of my sister in law's friends make some that's amazing.

5. Favorite gift received as a child? - My Barbie Jeep. You should see the pictures. Pure and complete joy!

6. Do you have a nativity scene? - I have a glass one on my coffee table.

7. Hardest person to buy for? - Hmm. Hubby. He never wants anything and I can't keep a secret from him. AT ALL!

8. Easiest person to buy for? - My daddy, I just by camouflage things and he's happy, lol.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards? - Mail! I just ordered our cards today!

10. Favorite Christmas movie? - I love the classic cartoons. Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown. <3

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? - Black Friday, usually.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? - I love it all, but the first thing that popped into my mind was potato candy, sausage balls, and peanut butter balls. :)

13. Clear lights or colored lights on the tree? - Colored- it's what I grew up having so it's my favorite.

14. Favorite Christmas song? - Anything Karen Carpenter sings. "No place Like Home for the Holidays" and "Merry Christmas, Darling" are two big ones and I really love "What Child is This?"

15. Travel or stay home at Christmas? - A little of both, we travel pretty close to home.

16. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? - You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer abd Vixen, Comet, Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!'

17. Angel on tree top or star? - Angel

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? - Christmas morning. Sometimes Mama would let me open one on Christmas Eve. :)

19. The most annoying thing about this time of year? - Money being tight, the rush and the crowds sometimes.

20. What I love most about Christmas - The time with family, friends, and the whole spirit of Christmas! I love the magic of the season. :)

Monday, December 07, 2009

I'm back! Sorta of!

WHOA.
What a stinking semester it has been.
When I started this blog, I decided to write for myself, just because I'm one of those reflective types who write to hash out what's in my head. Since then (and it's been two years since I started this blog!) I've been fortunate to get a handful of followers who think my measly little thoughts, stories, and musings are interesting enough to read on a regular basis, and to you guys I apologize for the last month of inactivity. As I warned, this has really, really been the hardest semester ever. Possibly the hardest months of my life. So I guess I should give a short synopsis of what I've been up to.
September- I really got into my field experience and began teaching. Basically, my schedule became MWF- Teaching, and TR- class all day long. It was tough, but Hubby and I got through it by sticking to schedules and taking weekends to go camping when we could.
October- I had my midterm exam in my field experience and was really happy with the results. I'm not gonna lie, my mentor was tough. She was not the type to just say "Good job!" and let that be it. She always had ideas for improvement and little things that made huge differences. And while my peers were teaching lessons planned by their mentors, I had to do all my planning. But I never got frustrated or anything because she was always great about encouraging and giving me positive feedback, plus it was obvious that I was learning and growing as a teacher. :)
On Halloween, we stayed home and I did homework of course, and we watched scary movies and waited on trick or treaters. Last year, we were out on Halloween because of my friend's wedding and the year before we had just bought the house and I hadn't moved it yet. SO, it was my first time handing out candy. There were only 3 kids, but I suspect it was mostly because of the rain and that next year will be better. :)
We also went camping in November and spent some time on South Mountain, taking a day trip up to Blowing Rock and got to see snow. I tried to balance all my work with school by taking time to do stuff like that.
November- Most of November was spent cooking and planning for Thanksgiving and doing school work. Lots of all nighters. My computer started going down hill. It stopped letting me log in to anything Google related, including blogger and gmail, so the only way to update the blog was to do it at school. It started getting worse and I lost a lot of school work. I cried a whole lot! Trying to finish my Thematic Unit was pure misery. By this point I also decided that I pretty much hated my English methods professor (really) as much as I tried to pretend and convince myself she wasn't that bad. Thanksgiving was great- oh and this may be TMI but I have to share- LAST Thanksgiving I decided to come off BCP and hadn't had a cycle since then (yes, a whole year!) and the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, almost one year to the day of my last cycle, surprise! It finally happened. :) It's a good sign my hormones may be getting ready to balance themselves out. Finally. Oh, and if you remember my crazy hunting accident from last year... how I ended up in the ER with stitches after shooting a gun, you'll remember that I have a slight fear of shooting guns as a result, and well, over the break I shot my 30-3O and got over the fear! It was great, but yeah, I could blog about those emotions in a whole new post, lol!
December- While it's only the first week, jeez, it seems like a whole month has happened in the last few weeks. Mama's birthday was the first, the same day as my major due dates for school so she said to just plan to celebrate it over the weekend, which was great for me because I was pretty much dead from all nighters. So this weekend, on Saturday, we went out and celebrated with a nice dinner to one of her favorite restaurants- oh and I got her a snuggie. :)
Friday, I had a nice little dinner party with some of our friends and cooked up a storm. Whitney, my best friend, drove up, and we cooked together. Since I am at the point in the semester when all the classes are done and all that's left is finals, we were able to take the time to just hang out and cook and there is nothing better than messing around in the kitchen and dirtying up every dish in the house with your best friend! We had soooo much fun. It was a great weekend. :)
Now, I'm on final exam mode. I have lots of studying to do, so that's my plan for the next week- study, test, study, test. But this weekend, we will be heading down to Whit's to go as her guests to the annual debutante ball where she was debuted our freshman year of college. And YAY! my dress is the dress I wore to Jake's winter formal his senior year (my sophomore year) of HIGH SCHOOL. It was simple and elegent and it still fits! :D I can't wait.

So that's my last few months. The changes I've felt and the ways I've grown and lesson I've learned is a whole nother post that will have to wait for another day. I have tons still to do and the Late Show is coming on already so I need to get in gear. I'll try to add some pictures as I can and update as I can, but sadly, my computer is still dead so I took it today to the IT people at school to see if they can salvage it. For now, I'm using Hubby's school laptop, but he has to take it back and use it himself, so I won't be able to be online as much. LOL, story of my life. No time to blog when I have a computer, and no computer when I do have time to blog. Oh well. I appreciate the patience this semester, and I can't wait to get back to dishing all my deep thoughts and wonders. It seems that this semester has been so hard, so valuable, and so... instrumental in changing me that I have a lot back to reflect back on, but yet, it's exhausted me so that I just don't have the energy to hash it all out. Hopefully after exams, things will be back to normal.

Love to all!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Me? Fabulous? YAY!

OMG! I am so excited! I recently received my very first blog award! EKK! My friend, Melissa, from "Little Mrs. Married" gave it to me!

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So as a part of the "Fabulous Blog Award" I have to share 5 things I'm currently obsessed with and then pick 5 people to pass the award on to. (Please note that I did end a sentence in a preposition. And, thanks to Grammar, AKA the hardest class I've ever taken, I know that this is actually okay to do! LOL!) Anyways, since it's already late and lesson plan is calling, I'm gonna tweak the rules a bit. Instead of sharing 5 current obsessions, I'm gonna share 5 things I would like to be blogging about these days, if time allowed. Unfortunately, I'm in knee-deep with school and time is non existant these days. I haven't even been reading often, much less writing anything other than lesson plans! So here goes. 5 short & sweet things I'd love to write you a book about.

1. DIY projects.
I recently had an adventure using indigo dye, faded blue pants and some faded old school American Eagle jeans (...You know, the most amazingly comfy kind they USED to sell before they screwed up the fit and made them all a mess, the kind that you can now only find at thrift stores? Yeah, those!) that had became so faded they looked kinda trashy. They didn't come out as expected, but it was an improvement! :)

2. IKEA and cheap duvet covers.
Oh, my new duvet is so cute. I need to go take a picture and show you. And Ikea is so freaking cheap! :) Best place to shop, everrrrr.

3. www.greatergood.com
This is how I'm doing my Christmas shopping this year. Tells you exactly how much of your purchases go to the various charities, affordable Fair Trade prices, cheap shipping, and great causes. Check them out! :)

4. School, School, School.
Oh my, my, my... how much I am changing and learning this semester. The students, the teaching, the MOMENTS I'm having. Imagine the most thrilling, scary, amazing rollercoaster ever made. Times that by a bizzillion, and in stress and joy and tears and exhaustion and nervousness and success and failure and confusion and confidence and fear and determination... and there's a tiny taste of what the last month has been.

5. Fall!
Our first trick or treaters. Our lazy Halloween in that turned out perfect. Pumpkin carving. My pumpkin pie success, my bargin shopping, my poor mums biting the dust, and the cinnamon flavored candles I'm obessing over. Camping and more camping! Oh and our star gazing nights watching for meteors!

See, I've had so many adventures to share! But alas, I must go and plan a lesson for my lovely 6th graders! Consider all of this To Be Continued! LOL.

Okay, so the 5 bloggers I'm passing the award on to are:

1. Crazy Charm at Because the Crazy is All Part of My Charm
because I love reading about her post-graduation adventures... she's a funny, honest, twenty something recent college grad with a teaching degree, so I always feel a connection when I read her awesome blogs.

2.Carolina Girl at Ramblings of a Thirty-Something Year Old Carolina Girl
because she is one of my favorite bloggers to read! She's inspirtational as she has been completing an exercise program to become a runner. She makes me wanna get up and push myself harder! Plus, like me she's a true blue Carolina girl! Best in the world! :)

3. Beth at What I Should Have Said
because I literally have a side stitch from laughing at her blogs! She's an elementary school principal who tells hilarious stories from the trenches and tells it like it is! If ever I need a good laugh, her blog is the place I go!

4. & 5. The last 2 bloggers to receive my award are new bloggers I know in real life. Brooke from Black Rooster Gardening is my friend from school and Danielle from Goodbye Cruel World, Off to Join the World is my sister in law.
Both of these lovely ladies have fallen off the bloggy wagon so I'm hoping that this award will be motivation for future posts. I love reading about the things they are up to! :)

I'm sorry my blog has been a big blah these days with school, but I promise if you'll see me through these few months, new recipes, new ideas, and new ponderings are coming. I'm so thankful for my blog- it's such good therapy to write things out and such a great way to make new awesome friends like Melissa! Thanks for the award! :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Scattered thoughts.

So I'm in the computer lab at school, and just finished a really dumb assignment for a really dumb class taught by a really dumb professor I'm going to have to listen to... Ugh! I am so OVER school. Maybe because fall break is on the horizon, or maybe because of the weather, or maybe I've let others' moods rub off on me, but for whatever reason, I'm so BLAHHHHHH right now. I think it's mainly this stupid class. Nothing irks me more than a class that wastes my valuable time.
Can you tell I'm DREADING this class? LOL.

I'm so glad that once tomorrow is over, a much needed mini-break begins. I am sort of between to do lists right now, and it looks like I'll have a bit of a breather this weekend, which is perfect because my best friend, Whitney, is coming up for the weekend. I'm so, so, so excited. I need some girl time! Especially with someone who makes me laugh and cackle and smile so much.
I'm excited.

Another positive note, my 2nd formal observation went well this week! I have another tomorrow and after that, life should be in the clear until my midterm next week... or at least I think! Gosh, I can't tell if I'm going or coming, lol.

I feel like I'm rambling. Well, I am, and this the perfect illustration of how I feel right now!!!

Oh, I wish graduation would hurry itself up.

I don't wanna go to class.
I want to bake more pumpkin bread. :)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Cinnamon Season

I made PUMPKIN BREAD today for the first time this season. I took it all to school and shared with my classmates.

Someone asked me how I find time to bake (I laughed!) with all the craziness of this semester... I had to explain that I HAVE TO bake every once in a while... anyone who bakes will understand what I mean when I say there is just something about the feeling of pulling something warm, sweet, and yummy out of the oven. Anticipation, excitement, pride, I don't know, but I love that feeling.

And I really, really love pumpkin bread.

AH, I LOVE FALL! It's officially the beginning of what I like to call "Cinnamon Season!"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vignettes of Fall 2009

So you guys know how I said a few months back that this fall semester was gonna literally kick my butt and that blogging would be sporadic at best?
Yeahhhh, I had no CLUE how right I was.
It seems that this semester is quiet possibly one of the most emotionally and mentally exhausting time of my life thus far.
And I thought being in school and planning a wedding was tough (note: read blogs from October '07 to June '08 and you'll see!) but this is tough in a whole new way. Taking 5 major (graduate level to a degree) courses while still taking almost all responsibilities with the classroom 3 days a week including planning, grading, preparing, and reflecting is draining. I come home and my brain aches. I get so frustrated because this semester I've not been my usual on-the-ball self. I'm not cooking new things or trying many new recipes (sorry guys, Hubs misses them as much as you do!) and I don't call people and check in or go visit. I'm not Suzy Hostess or Suzy Homemaker. I'm Suzy Teacher and Suzy Student rolled into one.
That being said, my poor blog has also been neglected in this process. Daily, I have these life changing moments- epifanies about my role in the world, new perspectives on how blessed I am, new ways to look at things, and I think, MAN! THAT'S A BLOG POST RIGHT THERE! But this semester, those moments are happening so fast I can't keep up with them all by the time I get a chance (or make one) to blog. So here, for the sake of my brain & time management (I have a stack of Egyptian hieroglyphics projects to grade tonite!) I'm gonna give you a list of updates, big moments, and thoughts recently experienced by yours truly:
1. First Formal Observations: SCARY, phenomenal, exhausting, empowering. My MT says I'm a natural and my Univ. Supervisor told me I'm teaching like I'm already ready for the Spring internship. HUGE motivation.
2. Kids. How I already love them. Their smiles, their excitement to see me and learn from me. I love how I learn from them. I have several boys I'm concerned about getting behind and I see the next few years as critical in their personal development (as in they might go down one of two paths: good grades, good behavior, and bright future, or poor grades, poor behavior, and dim future) and I feel called to make a difference in these boys lives. I hope I succeed! I am especially inspired by my blind student. She is a joy to be around and makes me a better teacher.
3. I hate my 507 class. In fact, one of the reasons I've had such a tough time is because with the exception of one class & one professor, I feel like they are a waste of my life. The professors have been out of the classroom way too long to be practical, the courses are secondary-oriented, not middle school, and the expectations are both annoying and unrealistic. Boo on class!
4. It's fall. The anxiousness feeling I get with August is gone with the wind and the crisp, welcoming, fall breezes have replaced it! I love, love, love this time of year. Next week is the fair! Which if you take a look at last year's post, you'll know I LOVE the fair with all my heart. I've made myself keep weekends as blank as possible this fall so that what little bit of Saturdays I get to enjoy will be spent doing fall traditions like camping, pumpkin picking & carving, buying mums for the front yard, baking pumpkin bread, and maybe even going to Scarowinds. This Halloween, I'm not even dressing up. I'm wearing a dark outfit, heels, and either my witches hat or devil horn head band and sitting at home with my papers to grade and/or write and waiting for trick or treaters, something that I've never got to do because we've always had busy plans for the night. :)
5. Church. Our church is always important to us, but it's neat that right now I feel like in many ways, everyone is wanting us to be even more involved- which time-wise, isn't really possible. But by teaching TLW class to middle school kids on Sunday nights and going to a few big functions, we've gotten closer and I feel more connected in the past few months. It is so nice to feel we have a great Christian family and a place to refocus each Sunday. Hubs and I know we will not be at this church forever, it's simply too far away from home, and someday in the not-too-distant future, we will change churches, but for now, I feel its exactly where God wants us, and I feel like home there.
6. Lastly, SWINE FLU. Remember how I was sick? Well, apparently I had a bad, bad cold and some allergies, but the doctor at school gave me some meds to knock it out. She was positive that I got it as a result of donating blood, weakening my immune system, then being around 135 wonderful and germy middle schoolers. LOL. Whoops. I had a tough week that week, but I made it. And as it turns out, I'm surprised it wasn't the piggy flu (as my friend Katie calls it!) because the teacher in the class next door has came down with a case. I'm just glad I feel better!

Alas, those papers are still waiting to grade so I'm gonna cut this short. We didn't have evening church today because of Homecoming and I'm so stuffed from the dinner, it's tempting just to go to bed, haha! Love to all and thanks for the patience as the dear old blog slides back to the back burner for now! <3

-BB

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blogging at the Doctor's Office

This post has to be short because I'm currrently blogging from a kiosk in the doctor's office on campus....
That's right, I'm sick.
As a stinking dog...
It happened this weekend- it came on slowly, but now it's in full attack mode- I've got a raw, sore throat, watery & itchy eyes, cough, drainage, headache, the works. I went to school and taught this morning since I had no fever, but I'm seeing the doctor because I don't want it tp be any of this flu business. I was so excited that even though I felt like crap today, my MT said I was doing a good job regardless. It was nice to know that even when I feel like my teaching is not at it's best, its still good. I even got hit on by a subsititute teacher today. I felt like I looked HORRIBLE, so that made me feel a little better. It helped that he was really good looking to! HAHA! I know, I know, married lady! But still, its always a nice feeling!
Life right now seems like a massive juggling act, one that is mentally, physically, and utterly exhausting. I am running on about 4 hours of sleep or less each night (ha, maybe that has something to do with why I'm here at the doctor's office? Speaking of which, what's taking so long? I've written a paragraph already!!!) and I'm not taking very good care of myself, I know. School rules my every moment. It so exhaustinhg. I never get all my work done. One of the teachers on my team is an alumni and she said this semester nealy killed her as well. Joy. But on the upside of things, I am doing well at this whole student teaching thing. I bad an amazing formal observation to gush about soon, but I think they are getting ready to call me back soon. Until then, <3.

-BB

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Frogs and Snails and Puppy-Dog Tails

I love my neighborhood.
For once in a blue moon, Hubs and I had no Saturday plans and slept it. All the way to 8 or 9... and for us, who are usually up around 5 each day at least, it was great. We got up, got on the couch, both eating a bowl of cereal when all of a sudden I see movement behind us on the front porch, and there are little boys on the porch, 2 sitting in my rocking chairs.
I'm not gonna lie, my first thoughts were about Halloween and trick-or-treating for some reason.
Hubs, being in his element- he just gets little guys in elementary school, maybe because he is just an over-grown one himself- he goes out and talks to them and discovers they have found two little kittens and are trying to find them a home. Of course, with Bella and Mama's severe allergies we had to say no, but they these guys - both the boys (none of the three were more than 7 or 8 years old, and one had to be as young as 4!) and the kittens were adorable.
They stood outside talking about who in the neighborhood they had asked already & where they found the kitties when one of the boys says "Whoa, is that an in-ground pool over there!?" pointing to the brick fence surrounding our pool, left of the front porch. Hubby said yes it was, and started to tell them good-bye when the same little boy interjected, "Don't worry, I'll ask first!"
I laughed out loud standing by the door! Oh, kids make me so happy. And off they trotted to the preacher's house across the street. I asked the hubby why the oldest was in what looked like Little League football gear, and why they had practice so early in the morning on a Saturday. Hubby just laughed at me, and said that I was crazy, that sweaty, dirty little fella was wearing it just because he liked his football gear!
Moments like that make me excited for the day (way in the future, remember...) we have a little guy of our own. LOL.
They also makes thankful to live in a place where the only "disturbance" you get on a Saturday morning are lively, funny children wondering around the neighborhood with football gear and kitty cats. :)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Labor Day and a Laborous Semester

Keeping up with school this semester has proven quite difficult thus far, and I've already learned that without my Middle Level family, I'd never make it. There are 8 of us total who are seniors and we have every class together. We text, talk, email, and study together and make sure we all know what's going on. It's like a small, family-like professional learning community, and those folks are my knights in shining armor the semester.
It looks like the semester is gonna get even worse with each week.
Because of that, Hubby and I took a Labor Day camping trip to Grandfather Mountain and had the best time. He caught a HUGE trout and we made s'mores til we couldn't eat another bite. It was so fun. Pics are up on FB now. :)
I know it's probably gonna be the last time I do something other than study until Christmas.
I've been so frustrated lately. I feel like every single friend wants me to get together with them and hang out. I have no time to clean my house, be with my hubby, finish my school work, heck, I get 3 hours of sleep each day... how the heck am I supposed to fit in so many lunch dates and whatnot?! Not that I am not thankful for my friends. Lord knows I love them all dearly, but I just have zero time right now... I mean, I worry if I say no, I'll let them down, but really, I need to turn off my phone, lock my door, stay off facebook, & get my work done. I hate being so busy I feel like that!
I'm heading to bed. My University Supervisor is coming to see me and my mentor at school tomorrow, so I want to be prepared! :P May 8th is the goal. I have to stay focused!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

First day

Things I learned on my first day in the school:
-How to work the copier... I love making copies. I was the kid who always did it for all my teachers in high school, so it feels right, lol. I don't know why this is a big deal for me, but I love knowing how to run the copy machine! :)
-Teachers don't really wear heels. At least not at this school. I mean, I always try and wear kitten heels, or pairs I've worn to proms, weddings, funerals, and formals- you know, well broken in & comfy? But here, these teachers wear flat sandals, or even nicer flip flops. No one has on a pants suit and heels here... it's khakis, a simple soild color cotton top, and leather flops or sandals that say "aero" or "air" or "soft" or "comfort" on the sole. I always pay attention to the shoes teachers wear. It says a lot about their jobs day to day, how they teach, what the school community is like, and the teacher's personality. I wore lower black heels, but since the floor has several "ramp" like hallways, it's gonna be the last time. I went to Shoe Carnival last night & got some leather Villager sandals, and cute buckle ballet flats. For super cheap, too. Cost effective teacher shoes, the realllll ones, make me happy.
- I wanna get better at technology. I have a Promethean AND an Elmo and I plan on using them until I become an EXPERT at them. I'm a technology nerd deep down, I think... I'm the type that is naturally clueless about this kind of stuff, and I've never been tech-savvy a day in my life! But I'mma change this during this experience!!!!
- It's all coming together... all this stuff in my head. Content Literacy, differentiation, contextual factors, interdisciplinary units, scaffolding and ZPDs, metacognition, FERPA, and all those other abbreviations I'm still memorizing... 504s, IEPs, EOCS, PASS, IWS... they are all coming together! Teaching isn't just a career, I'm not just learning stuff to make me a better teacher, but I'm becoming an EXPERT in my chosen field! Ack.
- I almost lost it and came completely undone. Guidance counselor tells me a student of mine lost an immediate family member that morning, like right before school. Student came to school anyways. I see the child come in, looking tattered and exhausted. But this student came to school because school is normal, and school is safe, and school is comforting. My MT hugs the child before class starts, says nothing like "are you okay?" or anything, just sighs, shakes her head, and pulls the child into her arms. I see the kid melt in the teacher's arms, just completely melt. I realize school has only been in for a couple of weeks, and surely they aren't that close yet. I realized it wasn't about the relationship with the student, it was about the role of the teacher. This child, in a mere 2 weeks, has looked at my MT as a safe, dependable person who cares about her students' lives. Teachers have that power. From the moment we step in front of a class, we are their safe place, their protectors, their leaders, their routine, their comfort in life's storms. We are so much more than educators. We have one of the most important jobs in the world, and it's an honor to have such a burden. I choked on a lump in the back of my throat, wiped a runaway tear, and fought back the urge to break.
- I'm going to succeed. Call this motivation, a prediction, call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, call it whatever you want, as long as you know that I believe it with all my heart. I am going to do well this school year and graduate with the skills, knowledge, and spirit being a great teacher requires. I'm just telling myself this, I'm believing it because I know this is where God has led me, and I know that He did not make me to be mediocre. He made me to be phenomenal. And He will give me the strength and courage to be just that.

Man. If I learned this much from Day 1, can you imagine who I will be by the time Christmas gets here?


-B

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wedded Bliss

Our friends Chase & Heather got married this weekend. Jake was a groomsman and I handled the guest book. The wedding was absolutely gorgeous, sweet, and totally *THEM*. It was great. Exhausting, but perfect! I was so glad I was able to help out. In every wedding, there is some sort of crisis, and what makes a good wedding (to me) is having a good "crisis aversion team." You know, when the bride never knows when things go wrong, or at least, it's all taken care of before she can panic... for example, someone forgot the music for David, our friend who did the DJing. All that was playing was Taylor Swift & Relient K for a little while, but luckily I had my iPOD and I had a already made love song playlist for our rehearsal dinner last year, so it worked out perfectly! The music worked with each moment! I am so, so happy for them.
A similar thing happened at my wedding. The junior bridesmaid's pom ball broke in half before she went down the aisle and Whitney & Liz fixed it before I even knew. Every wedding has something happen like that! But great family and friends who love you always come through, crisis is averted, and after it's all said and done, the only thing that matters is being married!
Being knee-deep in wedding chaos this weekend reminded me how much I LOVE being married, and how much I LOVE weddings, but also how glad I am that mine is in the past, lol. For the past year, I always thought about weddings with a sad, nostalgic perspective, like I was depressed mine was over and done. But I think I've finally realized that wedded bliss is a much more wonderful feeling than wedding bliss. I loved our wedding, every single moment. And I know Heather loved hers, and we both now have felt the joy & excitement of having your "big day." And, I can definitely say, having a magical wedding can't come close to the joy and excitement of a having a magical marriage.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aging

I'm sitting in a computer lab on campus right now, 3 quarters of the way done with my last first day of college. Classes are going well so far, but seem pretty dang demanding, which makes me worry that I'm going to be a bit of a recluse until I get into the swing of things... but I'm less nervous and more excited. While I was talking with one of my professors today, I had a realization. I'm old. No, not in age. Maybe it was the fact that this is my last year that got me thinking... In age, actually I'm still really young in the grand scheme of things, but deep down I am.
Here's why:
* I get up at 5 AM.
* Little things like sharpies, post it notes, and binder clips get me all excited.
* Nothing in the world is better than a nap.
(Ok, I just reread those three and and I sound like an infant. :P)
* I can chug coffee, but Z prefer it intravenously.
* I don't understand this "new" generation. Take my husband's 17 year old little sister. 4000 text messages a month. I don't get it.
* The freshmen here dress weird to me.
* I've officially stopped even perusing the "juniors" section at the mall... my friend Gabrielle and I went to the mall briefly yesterday and we both laughed at the this fact! I mean really, you know it's a sign when you catch yourself talking about how obnoxious the clothes are. I've gotten comfy in the misses sections now.
* Three Words: Control Top Panties. (LOL, Gosh, I can't believe I shared that!)
* 9:30 PM is getting late.
* My husband mistakenly calls Twitter "that Tweeter thing."
* The highlight of my summer was canning all those quarts of beans and maters.
* I hate going to Wal-mart because it's so crowded, and refuse to buy clothes there because they're too expensive.
* I hate missing my soaps. (Anyone out there a GL fan & wanna give me updates?)

Those are just the top of the surface. I saw a freshman run into the door of the library today because he didn't know that he had to scan his ID to get the automatic doors to work (obviously he didn't pay attention during orientation, huh...) and I realized I'm sooo ready to get out of school and get into a teaching job and start living my happy old lady life. I truly can't wait.

Ps- Did I mention I wanna join the Red Hat Society and play bingo on Friday nights? :) I love life. So many blessings now, and like a bottle of wine, I feel like the blessing I've been given are going to mature wonderfully!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quick Little Update

Ah! Life is getting too hectic right now- I can hardly breath. Hubby's students start school on Tuesday, & my classes do too- and we have yet to even go back to school shopping. He just moved into a new classroom (2 doors down) and with it being so soon to the first day, I helped him all day yesterday. He moved all the stuff the day before and the next morning we began organizing and cleaning and by 4 pm it was ready for open house. Talk about a hard day! This weekend we're not gonna even have the chance to do anything either. Today I took a personal day so to speak and gave myself a back-to-school trip to Auto Bell. I hate having a nasty car when I start living out of it again. As a commuter, I spend so much time in it, it can get pathetic, and after a whole summer's worth of road trips & dog hair, that car was gross. Plus, my aunt and Mama and I are taking my car to a baby shower for my cousin on Saturday and I would have been embarrassed for them to ride in it! LOL. I'm also gonna knock out grocery shopping Saturday morning, and bake some chocolate chip cookies tomorrow evening to take to our church picnic on Sunday. On Sunday going to a housewarming shower for our friends Mark and Sarah, our church picnic, and I wanna get the house clean for next week, b/c Lord knows if I'll have the energy to while trying to get back in the commuter-groove. SO today I kind of treated as a relaxing, ME day before the chaos begins. I went to the local cosmetology school and got a 10 dollar hair cut that looks absolutely amazing. It's so cheap because the students do the work. The girl doing my hair was so sweet, she was a little nervous I could tell since I was asking for a complicated cut, but she was nice and patient and careful, she made a few mistakes but went and got her teachers to help her get it done. I'll admit, it did make me a bit nervous to have an amateur whacking my hair off in hoards, but the teachers were reassuring and upbeat and vigilant. I never felt too jittery. The worst was that because she analyzed every cut she made and asked for so many 2nd opinions, I sat in the chair from 9:45 to 1:45.... just for a cut! But it was worth it and I'm not complaining. I was so nervous- this hair cut is HUGE for me because it's the shortest it's ever, ever, ever been. I kept threatening but never had the nerve to chop it off. I was just determined this year not to have some teacher chasing me down for a hall pass, mistaking me for a middle schooler. I wanted a grown up cut, that framed my face, looked mature and my age, and gave my hair a style and bounce. And that's exactly what I got. The girl who did it was so thrilled that I liked it, she was beaming. It made me feel good to know that my hair cut was a valuable experience for her (she learned a lot from the teachers during the process, I know...) and for just 10 dollars! I was so happy with the cut I gave her a 5 dollar tip and she literally walked me to the door and hugged me. My hair stylist hugged me! How sweet is that!? So I'm pretty sure I'll be back. I still find it shocking that I actually went through with it. It's 6-7 inches shorter and it's a cute bob that hits at my jaw line. I love it.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
I snapped this picture as soon as I got home, before I decided to have a major change and go ahead and dye it as well. I did that just a little while ago. I always do it myself. I use Clairol Natural Instincts semi-permanent color in Golden Cappuccino.
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It's like an auburn brunette- dark brown with hints of red in the sunshine. A good bit darker than my natural color, but it fades well and doesn't show a root line. Plus it's not too damaging or expensive. I read all kinds of bad ratings and reviews about Natural Instincts, but from what I gather, most of them had already used permenant dyes and junk and it apparently doesn't work well at covering grays or on already processed hair. It's just great for someone who likes a little spice to the normal color. Perfect for me. Well, it's finally done and the color plus the cut is stunning to me. I like it so much. I can't wait to see how my family reacts when they see it tomorrow at my cousin's baby shower.
I had such a wonderful day- a fresh clean car, new pretty hair, and I went shopping for a dress for Heather & Chase's wedding. They are using browns instead if black, so I HAD to find a little brown dress instead of a little black dress. I found 2, a cute brown and white one, and a blue flowery print one that might match the color of the bridesmaids dresses. I'm doing the guest book and Hubby is a groomsman so I need to coordinate. Here I am modeling the dress and my new do. :)
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I guess I better get to bed if I'm gonna get up early. I still need to get my books, I've got Ambassador training, a lunch date with a classmate, and heck, I need to go pick okra from the garden at some point before the get too big and tough! If only there were more hours in a day!

PS- Sorry about the ghetto thumbnail photos, I was trying out a image hosting website. Don't think I like it! lol.


Monday, August 17, 2009

MIA

Just an FYI- if I happen to "disappear" for a week or so, well... school is about to begin! I've already mentioned how August makes me crazy. This is the last week of summer so I'm trying to squeeze all the house-wifey things I want and need to do before I "quit" my job as a stay-at-home wifey, and start back working my tail of at school... And next week, hahaha... I have a feeling I will wake up, get coffee, got to school, eat dinner, do homework/lesson plan/etc, then CRASH into bed.

Hang in there. I'll be back around once I get into the swing of it.

Love!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dog's Life

Our dog has the best life in the world.
No, really.
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She sleeps 18-20 hours a day. The hours she spends awake are hours spent playing with us or her squeaky toys, chasing me around the house with her tongue hanging out, laying on my feet while I'm on the computer, riding around town in her daddy's truck with her ears flapping in the wind, or getting petted and kissed and rubbed by anyone she meets.
I found her like this the other day, snoring. In the bed.
I got the camera and snapped a few shots. Then she started wiggling and gave me the "Let's cuddle!" look.
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I want my dog's life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SWEET!

So, I just kind of stumbled onto a really awesome blog today called What's Cookin' and guess what- yours truly is now gonna contribute! I'm gonna have to post a recipe on there soon. :) Yay! More recipes! More sharing! More yummy! Go check it out & cook something!

Love you all,

-BB

It's a good thing!

Since summertime is beginning to come to a close, I'm starting to "ween" myself off the summer-lifestyle, slowly but surely. I'll be honest- August is one of my LEAST favorite months, everrr. It's right up there with January- ICK. August sucks to me because I get this unbearable feeling of impending doom. I always have. After back-to-school shopping as a kid, I'd spend HOURS arranging & rearranging "potential outfits" and organizing and reorganizing my backpack and notebooks. I studied my schedule until it was memorized, and I practiced getting up early and eating breakfast. Plus, I got my room completely clean, organized, and ready for studying. Why all the fuss? I did all that (not just because I've always been a total nerd-o) because this has always been the only sense of routine and normalcy I can cling to during this month of chaos. August, for me, is equal to uncertainty. I don't know what my teachers/professors will be like, where I'm gonna sit when I eat lunch, where I'll be parking every morning, which sidewalk I'll be taking most often, who I'm gonna be passing on a daily basis, what projects/tests/etc. I'm gonna have looming over my head. It's all right around the corner and I feel like all the details are a mystery! This August (and I imagine next August will be as well) feels particularly scary because sooo much is unknown now. I'm going to begin my field experience in the fall and I'm going to be working with a teacher I haven't met yet, in a middle school I've never visited, doing a job I'm not yet confidant and comfortable doing yet- teaching! ACK, I can't help but be a nervous wreck. An excited kind of nervous- the kind you get before you get up in front of a group of people, the kind you get on a date... you know, like butterflies. I guess my obsession with "getting ready for school to start" is my way of dealing with these emotions. And, I'll probably always be this way. I'll be that teacher that can't remember her own name during the month of August. I think Hubby is kind of like this. He has school on the brain and most of his thoughts I know are all about his teaching, his expectations & hopes, and the upcoming logistical stuff he's gonna be dealing with. Well, anyways, a part of my end of summer routine is slowly getting myself back in the early-to-rise mode. So I'm getting up earlier and earlier. But I'm also making the most of each day of "freedom" by getting up and just chilling out. Laying out by the pool, or vegging out in the living room on rainy days such as today. Just enjoying "vacation." I feel I've started my own little therapy to help myself get ready for the school year- I'm trying to deal with all this giddiness and nervousness I always get. It scares me to know that in two weeks I'll be in class! In 3 weeks, I'll be in someone's classroom!!! With students! Oh, how I hate those thoughts of failure that August brings. Every August I stare into the mirror and tell myself I can do whatever I put my mind to. Am I the only one who turns into a pile of mushy doubt and insecurities this time of year?!?!
Well, yesterday I got so sick of these feelings I decided that doing something I loved and I feel good at would be a great pick-me-up as I combat these crazy things that get stuck in my head and just bake a cake! HAHA, it always feels good to me to pull out something amazing from the oven. That first delicious bite makes my doubt fade momentarily and I feel proud. It's so good to feel that way on the brink of the beginning of a new year full of tests, trials, and new experiences! So what did I make that helped me feel so much better?
A Kahlua cake that wasn't really a Kahlua cake. I was sitting on the couch after dinner and it felt like one of those nights that call for a dessert, so I flipped through my Best of South Carolina cookbook & found a recipe for a Kahlua cake. Now, I don't put Kahlua in my coffee. It seems to me that Bailey's and Kahlua are always no better than the lesser brand cream liqueurs and I don't like paying for a label. So, I semi-follow this recipe using the Feeney's I keep in the fridge. It didn't even dawn on me until the cake was in the oven that I didn't even use the same thing. Kahlua is coffee flavored liqueur and I used Irish creme liqueur. I don't even have coffee flavored liqueur because when we do make a coffee drink, it's gotta be an Irish coffee, which are delicious, by the way. So, duh me, half way through the baking time I realied my Kahlua cake wasn't a Kahlua cake at all! It was an Irish Creme Cake! And regardless of the confusion, it turned out DELICIOUS. And I didn't even put enough eggs in because we were running low on them. My husband eats eggs like pudding pops. I swear, I'd hate to be an egg in our house! LOL. Annnnnyways... even with the adjusted egg amount, it was still moist and fluffy and yummy. Here's the recipe if you feel like making one too!

Irish Creme Cake


1 reg. sized package sugar-free chocolate pudding
1 box Duncan Hines devil's food cake mix
3 eggs (I only used 2, but try 3!)
1 cup of coffee, brewed and cooled to room temperature
3/4 cup of Irish Creme Liqueur, such as Feeney's or Bailey's
1/2 cup of canola oil
Mix up the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, eggs, and the creme liqueur. Slowly pour in the coffee, mixing as you pour. Give the batter a few more good stirs and the pour the batter into a well-greased bundt pan an bake for about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until the cake is good and firm.
Cool, then invert onto a decorative cake platter. While the cake cools, mix up powdered sugar and more Irish creme liqueur to make a nice glaze. I probably used a cup if the powdered sugar to about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the liqueur. You just gotta play with the proportions. Mix it up well and it should be a pretty caramel color and smooth. Gradually pour it over the ring of cake and let it drizzle down the sides. :) Sprinkle the whole cake with some more powdered sugar, and you're done!
It's super delicious with a cup coffee or a glass of milk!!! :)

Sorry for the lack of picture of the cake, I'm being lazy today! But anyways...

I'm telling ya, my kitchen doubles as therapy for me. There's nothing like warm, fresh baked goodness from the oven to restore your sense of normalcy and confidence!
I also made some really yummy Strawberry Tarts this week. All I did was cut up a carton of fresh strawberries and heat them on the stove with a cup of sugar and a tbsp. of lemon juice until the strawberries release their juices, the sugar melts & it just starts to gel. Then I put the strawberry gel right on to some of those ready to bake crescent rolls, and just fold the little triangle shaped piece of dough up like a diaper (sorry for that really poor explanation, haha!) around the strawberry goodness and bake for 10-15 minutes on a greased cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven. Butter right as the come out of the oven, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. They are particularly good with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. And they are not so sweet that they wouldn't make a great breakfast pastry! :)
I do have a picture of these, though, I can't find what folder I stuck it in. I snapped one over the past weekend when I made these for my parents. Sorry, I'm a photo-slacker in this post!

Well in a nut shell, it seems to me that the most important things in my life these days are consistency and simplicity. The simple good things in life (cue the Martha Stewart "It's a good thing" quote!) are what I am clinging to! When life gives me uncertainties, I desire nothing more than the certain joy I always feel when surrounded by things like nature, delicious homemade goodies, great people I love, and the Spirit of the Lord. I feel my insides are bubbling with all those doubts (What if Daddy's test results are less than good tomorrow? What if I absolutely do not work well with my cooperating teacher this fall, or I generally suck at this whole teaching thing to begin with? What if I fail? What will we face if Daddy's cancer has spread? What if we don't have enough money for me to get back & forth to school this semester?- see, I'm full of this inside!!) But the smile I get when I see that no matter what happens in my life, I can depend on the fact that the simple pleasures of a freshly baked goody, a pretty butterfly floating by, the pleasant company of family and friends, and the love of my heavenly Father to remind me that life goes on, I'll get through whatever I face, and I can do all things through Him. :)
Ah, it's a good thing!!

PS- HUGE, HUGE, HUGE thanks and hugs to you guys who've been praying for Daddy and for me! I can't thank you enough for your love & support- your encouragement is one of those "good things" that keep me going! <3
I'll let everyone know ASAP when I find out about Daddy's tests.

PS (again)- here is a picture of one of the "good things" in my life- a butterfly hanging out under my mailbox over the weekend. <3
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XOXO,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PRAYERS PLEASE!

Hey bloggy friends,
I really need a BIG favor- please be in prayer for my Daddy today. We're going to have his PET scan done today, and we will find out the results of it and the bone marrow biopsy he had a few weeks ago on Thursday. We are praying that these scans are clear, meaning that his cancer has not spread. If it hasn't spread, then he can go ahead and get started with the radiation and hopefully they'll zap it all and he should be good to go! That's our goal! We want this cancer gone and over with! Please pass it along to friends and family. I'm a strong believer in praying for someone by name, and if you are too, then please pray for Tim. My Daddy is the light of my life and I truly believe he has a lot of life ahead of him, and we have to get this cancer out and gone for him to be able to do that.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Lord, please strengthen my Daddy's body and help him to fight off this cancer. Pull him through and heal him. Keep these scans clear and give the doctors wisdom to do the best for him. Give me and Mama strength for Daddy and help us to not fear. Give us faith and sustainment and courage and peace. I love you, Lord. Amen.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Faith

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand...


I'll never understand why some people look at Christianity as a religion of rules- suffocating and lists of things you can't do.

It's nothing like that. It's the most purest, complete freedom one can ever, ever find.

It's freedom from your every mistake, every problem. Everything I've ever done wrong, every selfish thought or hurtful word I've spoken, gone.

It's complete CANS instead of CANNOTS. I can face any problem- just like the song "Because He Lives" - I can face tomorrow. I can go through anything. I can rest knowing that I am loved beyond compare, forgiven, and protected & empowered. I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. He saves me and protects me.

I know that He lives in me, I feel Him in my heart, at my very core. This is the essence of faith, and the most precious thing I have.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Looking up.

Good news! Patience and prayer came through for me as always and things are finally looking up. After a big meltdown and a whole lot a tears, it finally dawned on me that I tend to confuse "faith" with "worry." I think that if I put off consciously dwelling on something, I've "given it to God" or I'm having "faith," but in reality. I have tendency to carry crap around with me, sucking it up and trying to be strong, making myself believe it's faith holding me together, when it's really me just trying to hold it all on own shoulders... and if I'd actually let go, the weight wouldn't be on my shoulders in the first place. Daddy kind of put it the best way- I need to learn to lay what's troubling my heart onto the alter... just place it at His feet and walk away... but NOOOO, I always seem to place my troubles on the alter, then turn right around & pick them right back up. I don't know how to leave things to Him, but I'm learning. I'm trying. I'm praying that God shows me how stop trying to handle things on my own. I know He put trials in my life for the purpose of bringing me closer to Him, not to prove how *strong* I am- because I'm not that strong at all! Oh, Lord, why did You make me so stubborn & headstrong? I need You. Help me let go and have faith in your ability to take care of me and all the worries on my heart. Amen...

After I had a real good cry (and Hubby's shirt was nicely covered in snot & tears) and we talked about all the above, I kinda felt better, I sighed and started living by Matthew 6:24, taking it day at a time. I told myself to just focus on one day, and it's helped.
Since my last post, thing are actually looking up.

My lovely laptop, Dora (as in computadora, which is Spanish for computer) is not so sick anymore. After days of continuous CPR, countless virus scans, spyware and adaware removal, and prayer (of course), she has been revived and is back up & running splendidly. Thank goodness. We sure didn't have the money for a new one, much less a repairman.
Secondly, my father in law may be getting a truck this week and will be back to work. That's a whole 'nother blessing right there.
I found out from Financial Aid that one of the department heads is actually fighting for me & some other students to receive the funds for the money we apparently missed out, so it's still possible for me to get that $5000 I thought I'd missed out on. And besides that, I filled out a FASFA again (those forms are a beast!!!) and since we are only on Hubby's lowly teacher salary (since Lordy knows teachers make dang near enough to qualify for food stamps; believe me- I'm actually thinking of applying for them!), we actually earn enough for me to qualify for a Pell Grant, which is $5300 of government aid we don't have to pay back for school. Oh, thank heavens, I said, when I realized this financial nightmare is almost over. I won't stop being a little nervous about it all until the money is verified on my student account, but for now, I'm at peace knowing all hope is not lost. :)
On top of things, we're getting to go with our friends Heather & Chase to the mountains, up to Sliding Rock. It's gonna be a whole heck of a lot of fun, I think, as long as I don't do like I did on a Youth Trip to Gatlinburg back when I was 16, riding a mechanical bull and busting my tailbone when I landed. It hurt so bad I didn't get out of bed the rest of the trip. Mama practically had to carry me to the bathroom, it hurt so bad. I still struggle to sit on hard surfaces for very long because of that. And a hospital bill is all we need right now.

So, yeah. No, things aren't perfect. My Daddy still has cancer, my computer still has some weird alerts popping up, and we're still poor, but, things are looking up.
Better yet, I'm looking up more. I'm looking up to my Father for strength instead of looking in the mirror, trying to deal with my life on my own, knowing good and well I just can't do it. And to know He can and will be by my side no matter how things are going is more than I ever deserve!!!

Oh!!! PS- Get EXCITED! I found out I'm doing part I of my student teaching with 6th Grade Social Studies! AND Hubby's aunt is a teacher & just retired and had us load up our car with stuff from her classroom this week, so I've already got BOXES of stuff just waiting for my future classroom! I'm so ready to teach! Not only because it means we won't be so poor anymore, but because I'll be doing what I'm CALLED to do! Oh, I can't wait to meet my 6th graders this fall! <3

Sunday, August 02, 2009

1600 miles later.

Our plans for this weekend had been to hang out with our friends Chase & Heather on Friday night, go up to visit MeeMaw & Honeypaw (Hubby's grandparents who live in the mountains) and see some family, & then head over to Mark's (Hubby's cousin) for a family summertime bonfire than night, and then go to church on Sunday.
But, it turns out, we ended up in Illinois. Yes, really.
My father in law, "Teddy Bear" (he's gonna love this nickname when he reads this post!!!) owns a big-rig and works for a transport company. He was pulling a grain hopper across Illinois when he blew a head gasket and his engine died. Teddy Bear, being an animal lover, has 2 cats that ride along in his truck with him. They happened to be with him on the road when the truck kicked the bucket so since he had the animals, he could't fly home or take a bus. And since he was in the middle of no where, he couldn't get to a rental car place that wouldn't charge him a TON of money to take a car to Carolina, so we really had no choice but to come get him. My mother in law called me & explained what happened Thursday night, but with Hubby working on Friday, the earliest we could leave was late Friday/early Saturday. So, Saturday morning at, like, 1 AM we packed up and left. Our friends, Heather & Chase still came over that night and crashed at our house (they were in town for a wedding) and we left & they took care of our doggie overnight and locked up the next day, when my sister in law came and took care of the pooch. Anyways, in the meanwhile, we drove. And drove. I was awake until the Saluda Grade (a big hill on the interstate in the mountains) and then I slept until the end of Tennesse, about 2-ish hours. Jake drove until 6 AM, when he got tired. My mother in law took over and she drove through the rest of TN, and a chunk of KY, where the roads were so wobbly we both felt sick, and she threw up. :( Hubby slept the whole time. She drove for about 2 hours and then I took over and I made it through the rest of KY, through Louisville, across the big bridge over the Ohio River, and drove through most of Indiana while they both slept. We stopped at a rest area in Indiana, somewhere... and we ate a quick picnic and got back to driving, and by now it was about noon, so Hubby took over and drove the last 3 hours or so, so we made it to the truck maintenance place at about 3 PM, loaded up the car with Teddy Bear's stuff and his kitty cats, and had a some dinner. My father in law and Hubby split the drive back, and I teetered in and out of sleep until we made it to home at 7 AM Sunday morning. We crashed on my in laws couch until lunch time, got a shower and went to the Waffle House for "breakfast." What a weekend! I've never been out west that far, minus one pit stop in the Chicago-o'Hare Airport, so it was cool to see all the barns and corn. Well, it was slightly boring after a few hours. Corn. Barn. Corn. Barn. Oh, look- a soybean field! Corn. Barn. Repeat for hour on end. But we did have a lot of fun on the road, and at least we got my father in law home. Now, he's trying to see what he's gonna do about his truck and the best way to get it fixed. They only hotel around that area was a icky one, but still charged a hundred bucks a night!! We're all just hoping for the best!

The reason this post has taken me days to finish is that my poor computer is sick. "Dora," my computer's name, is 3 1/2 years old and getting slow with age, and somehow got riddled with a load of viruses. My mother in law is currently performing CPR on it, trying to bring it back to life... we're all watching movies waiting for it to defrag... cross your fingers! Speaking of movies, they've got Armageddon on, and I just watched the part where Harry pushes back AJ and takes his place as the one to blow the rock, and tells him he loves him like a son and to take care of his daughter. I swear I just watched 5 minutes, and I'm already wiping tears off this keyboard! Ah, I love/hate tearjerkers...

On top of the drama/trouble, a mistake on the part of my school financial aid office (it's a long complicated story that makes me really upset to re-tell...) has caused me to be FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS short on my financial aid, money that covers my gas and goes toward living expenses and such... I'm so mad! So I spent all day today frantically searching for money to replace the money I'm not gonna be able to have now.

Plus, Daddy has to have his PET scan done after all, so I'm worried about him. And his scan is scheduled for the exact time my mom will have to have another iron transfusion, since they can't figure out why her iron levels keep staying so dangerously low. This is one of those moments that being an only child is emotionally taxing!! Keep us in your prayers!

Oh, and add in the fact that this week my Daddy was served papers for a "lean" (I'm not sure if that's the right term!) because the man that they paid to put a roof on their porch this summer apparently never paid for his supplies to put the roof on. Mama checked the Better Business Bureau before she hired him, but oh well. There are more people named in this lean thing, so my parents aren't the only ones dealing with it. They've got a lawyer and a have proof they paid for the work, so they should be fine and it will all work out, but still one more headache- one more worry!

I'm so sick of crap like this! I'm tired of school (and it hasn't even started!) and I'm tired of summer, I'm tired of sickness, I'm tired of dumb luck and bad stuff happening, I'm tired of money and money problems. I just want to have my degree, a healthy & happy family, a teaching job doing what I love, so we can have enough money to have some cash in my wallet and I wont have to have a mental meltdown if I need to run to the store for something!!! URGHHHH.

They say when it rains, it pours.
I believe it.
And I'm tired of all these stupid puddles in my life! :(

Monday, July 27, 2009

What I've been up to lately.

The best part about summer (for teachers & students at least!) is the free time! Time that I use to read, bake, garden, etc... and to tackle all those fun projects that the school year keeps me from.
One little project that had totally slipped my mind was my desire to find the perfect recipe for cookies from scratch. I've found some perfect cake recipes (long gone are the days of boxed cake mix!) so it's been high time I move beyond the world of break-and-bake cookies.
I've done the same to biscuits. It's just as easy to make them from scratch. I have the old tin measuring cup my Granny used for making and cutting hers, and it's getting used a lot. All it I do is mix up 3/4 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of shortening, and 2 cups of flour until the dough is nice and pliable. Then cut them out and bake for 20 minutes on 375- and the feeling you get from eating them knowing you made them from scratch makes them so much more yummy that any other biscuit! It's a similar feeling with these cookies...
Jake mentioned a craving for cookies & milk earlier this week and it dawned on me that, although I've made sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, and even Giada's AMAZING Lemon Ricotta Cookies from scratch, my chocolate chip cookies always end up being pre-made. Not that there's anything wrong with them, in fact- they are great, but that there is something to be said about going completely homemade. So anyways, I found a bag of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips in the cabinets and there was a recipe for cookies on the back so I tried it out. Unfortunately, I noticed half way through the recipe that it yields 5 DOZEN cookies, so be prepared to take them to some get-together. Luckily, I was able to pawn all of mine off onto the kids at VBS at church that evening.
These cookies turned out amazing. The only thing I did differently than the recipe calls for is I used butter flavored Crisco instead of butter, since I didn't want to use up all my butter. Also, I was fresh out of vanilla extract so I used almond flavored instead, and I'd be willing to be it made them even better. The cookies were beyond perfect, and I can't wait to make them again. By the way, the original recipe is here on the Hershey website, along with some cool ideas of things to make with all them cookies!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
* 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup butter flavored shortening
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon almond-flavored extract
* 2 eggs
* 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips
Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar and almond extract in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. **Note: My cookies were in the oven NO LONGER than 8 minutes!
Add a glass of milk and all is well with the world! Hubby snapped this picture of me when I came into the office to show him how pretty the cookies turned out!
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Anyways, being that I have absolutely nothing pressing until school starts now that summer school and vacations are both over, cooking/looking up recipes is my biggest hobby! So much that I've been clipping so many recipes out of magazines and printing them left and right! One that I've been dying to share is for Bruschetta Chicken Bake. It was in the Kraft magazine, I believe. In fact, I just googled it and Kraft has it online as well. Anyways, I don't layer it like it shows online, I just kinda mix the chicken all up in with the stuffing, but I imagine it makes little difference.
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Here's the recipe:
Bruschetta Chicken Bake

*1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
*1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
*1/2 cup water
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
*1 tsp. dried basil leaves (use fresh if you have it!)
*1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Directions:
Mix tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened.
Layer chicken, basil and cheese in 3-qt. casserole or 13x9-inch baking dish.
Top with stuffing & tomato mixture, and sprinkle with extra cheese. Bake 30 min. or until chicken is done.
It is Hubby's newest favorite, and super quick and easy. <3

I keep having Blog ADHD and I can't remember what all I had to tell you all about so I keep having to look back on my last post to remind myself- lol!
Ah, the accidental Pineapple Right-side Up Cake.
Yeah, you know how some nights after dinner you get this crazy sweet tooth and you gotta have something for dessert or just die? We had one of those nights last week and I kept finding myself back in the kitchen, opening the fridge, staring into space and dreaming of sugar. I HAD to bake something. The only fruit I had (with the exception of some blueberries & blackberries I've picked and frozen for later in the year) was this can of pineapple. I googled some pineapple cake recipes, but decided to wing it and try it on my own. So, I did the usual flour-sugar-milk recipe like I do for a cobbler, but I put the pineapples in the bottom of the cake pan, with just a little melted brown sugar syrup on the bottom, hoping to create something like a pineapple upside down cake... well, goofus me put it into a Springform pan and the whole brown sugar and pineapple mess starts leaking out right after I poured the batter in on top. UGH. I almost through it out, but I said "oh, what the heck" and poured the whole mixed up mess into another cake pan and baked it like I would a cobbler. As it baked, I made more sugar syrup, just using brown sugar and granulated sugar and a little water until it was clear and thick and yummy looking. I noticed the pineapple had somehow floated to the top of the cake and so I poured the syrup over the top and continued baking it until the whole thing looked golden and delicious. It smelled amazing. It turned out to be so good. My parents were over visiting the next day and I gave them a piece. My mama crossed her eyes and moaned when she took a bite, and Daddy looked at me all big-eyed & said, "Good Lord, what are trying to do, kill me!?" and shoved in another huge bite! It was a total whoopsy and a complete success.
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Excuse the poor lighting of the picture, I didn't use the flash.
Here is the recipe, based off what I think I did:
*1 cup self-rising flour
*1 cup sugar
*1 cup milk
*1/4 cup water
*1/4 cup brown
Directions:
In one bowl, mix flour, sugar, and milk until you have a smooth batter.
Melt the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan until almost but not quite thick.
In a greased cake pan, combine a can of drained pineapple chucks and about 4 tablespoons of the syrup with the cake batter and bake on 375 for about 45 minutes.
While the cake bakes, take the rest of the sugar syrup in the saucepan, add in a splash more water and about 1/2 a cup of granulated sugar and about another quarter of a cup of brown sugar, and keep cooking it down until you basically have a golden sugar syrup. Pour it on top of the cake until the top of the cake is just barely covered, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes.

I'm telling you, it was delicious, super sweet and tropically tasting.
I'm pretty sure I'm gonna put this one up on Tasty Kitchen, which is the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond's food website. Although I'm a big fan of thepioneerwoman.com blog, I just recently stumbled onto the Tasty Kitchen site, and holy cow. I love it. I made me a membership, logged in, and I've already uploaded some recipes! Get on there and friend request me, my screenname is Breezybride08. It's really neat. :)

So in addition to all my fun in the kitchen, I'm spending my last weeks of summer being a book worm. I've been reading a novel every 2 days or so, staying up all night to finish them.
So far, the ones I've really, really liked are Jennifer Cruise's Faking It & Cecila Ahern's Love, Rosie. Ahern's book was a little corny and predicatble, but it was cute and girly. I think she wrote the book that's now the movie, P.S. I Love You. But Faking It was really crazy. It was a fun read. I'm not sure what's next up on my reading list, but sometime soon, I've gotta, gotta, gotta get my hands on Dorthea Benton Frank's newest, Return to Sullivan's Island. I've met her, got several signed copies, and read every book of hers. I love her books so much and this newest one revisits a family from one of her earlier books (and one of my all time favorites!) and I'm just sooo excited about it. I heard about it at a little bookstore we went to on vacation, where I was able to get a "buy two used books and get an advanced copy book free" deal. The advanced copies were miscellaneous books I'd never heard of, but this one called By The Time You Read This caught my eye. It was so, so good. It was very sweet, and when it comes out in August, you should get it. :)

That's kind of been the gist of life here these days. Cook, bake, read, garden, swim, visit with people, sleep, then repeat. I'm not complaining, lol. The only thing terribly interesting has been my neighbors. Bill Dauterive, the guy beside us, spent most of summer sleeping on his back patio, has seemed to completely disappear and I've not seen his new girlfriend, Lenore, over to visit at all. Maybe they're vacationing together. Or maybe she didn't come back after he made her sleep outside with his on swing that night she stayed over & all this time he's been inside nursing a bruised heart. I'm hoping the poor fella is okay in there. The lady that lives behind us has been suntanning like she has all summer, so no change there. But interestingly, right across the street, I saw a truck at Carol's. Carol is a lady my mom knows because she went to high school with her older sister (remember, I live in a town where everyone knows everyone). I couldn't figure out what they were doing over there. Her aunt, Miss Peggy, lives right down the block, and I noticed Carol's car was over at Miss Peggy's. I kept watching and realized they were moving stuff out of her place and into Miss Peggy's. Later, we were leaving home one day and saw Miss Peggy and Carol sitting together outside and Carol was in a wheel chair! My Hubby stopped by and talked with them while they were sitting outside again this week and as it turns out, Carol, who's only in her 40s, had a stroke while she was driving and was in a wreck! We hadn't realized the car was wrecked! Anyways, apparently some plaque in her arteries broke loose, went to her brain, and caused the stroke. It may be 6 months before she will be able to live on her own again, bless her heart. I was in shock! Women that young don't have things like stokes yet! Keep her in your prayers.

Well, I'm off to bed. I hope you all are taking the time to enjoy the rest of summertime. Read a book, bake something. Have fun or enjoy doing nothing. That's what I love about this time of year!

PS- Look at how pretty this picture of us from our vacation turned out after some editing with the color... :) In fact, it's so pretty I'm gonna add it to my sidebar pictures soon!
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PS (again)- while I've been either in the kitchen or in a book, Hubby has been bird watching. We've got a bird nest on the front porch, and it looks like we have BABIES! How exciting!
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Love, Love, Love Y'all!