Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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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1 comment:

Melissa Venable said...

Love it!! The recipes i will have to try! & i look forward to hearing about your school & teaching journeys this year. it is understandable to be nervous, but i bet you will be fabulous!! :)