Saturday, August 29, 2009

All Dressed Up With Somewhere To Go

Walt has a bit of a non-conformist streak. Lately it has manifested itself in a weird way. At both of our schools, Friday is school spirit day, and most teachers wear t-shirts. It is a school version of "casual Friday." So, Walt decided that he would remain casual Monday through Thursday, wearing jeans and a button-up shirt as he always does, but dress up on Fridays. So, he came out of the bedroom on August 28th, the first Friday of the new school year, in navy Dockers, a long-sleeve shirt (with a weather forecast of 110 degrees), shined shoes (Dr. Martens from London), and a new tie. The tie, by the way, was a series of Bohr Atoms - very scientific! He is committed to dressing up each Friday, and thinks we should now dress up and go out to fancy dinners occasionally (I think we should eat at home and be comfortable). I have known him for 22 years, and I have seen him in Dockers and a tie perhaps 3 times. I think this new desire to dress up might be a part of his mid-life crisis, but he does look cute...don't you think?!?

By the way, if you talk to Walt, talk in a high voice or a low voice. He went to the audiologist on Thursday and has lost a significant amount of hearing in the mid-range...which also involves an increase in tinnitus...for every 5 percent of hearing loss, your tinnitus increases by 10 percent. Ah, the joys of approaching 50 (Walt will be 47 on November 15...if you send a birthday card, make the print large as our eyesight is going south as well!).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

School Starts Tomorrow

School (with kids showing up) begins tomorrow, Monday, August 24, for Walter and for me. All I can say is "wish us luck"! I have gone from teaching 20 Kindergartners to teaching 33, with some VERY challenging kids placed in my classroom this year (the kind who throw things, run, hide, hit, scream, etc.). Walt has classes of 40, and does not have the usual 40 minute prep period because he is teaching during that time, too! We are both going to attempt to do this without enough books or supplies due to significant budget cuts.

While I will be looking for some fun photos to create new blogs, I will probably not accomplish that goal until a week or two go don't be surprised if you don't hear from us until that blessed event known as Labor Day weekend. Don't give soon as we have the strength, we will be back to frequent blogging.

Hope all is well with you and yours!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sassy Stamper: Pay It Forward Givewaway

Sassy Stamper: Pay It Forward Givewaway

Pay It Forward

Are you familiar with the concept of "Pay It Forward"? You do something wonderful, big or small, for someone and expect nothing in return...instead, ask the recipient to "pay it forward". This gives that person an opportunity to do something wonderful for someone else. In a world of depressing news and uncertainties, this "random act of kindness" brings joy to us all. I think there is a Nicholas Cage movie about this, which I haven't seen.

I was recently reminded about the Pay It Forward concept by visiting a new blog written by a talented stamper. Be sure to visit, too. It is

I hope you will join me and think of a way to Pay It Forward. Make someone's day!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Art and Artists

This summer I have experimented with different forms of art: collage, painting, drawing. For the first time in my life I feel like calling myself and artist (an amateur, but an artist nonetheless). Maybe I will even get the courage to post some of them on this blog soon. In the meanwhile, they will be on display in the back of my Kindergarten classroom (which, some might say, is right where they belong).

I came across this list, created by an artist named Lisa Engelbrecht, that describes how I'm feeling as a new artist. It also makes me think of my friend Brynn Hoffman, who is a true artist:

Top 10 Why Nots of Doing Art?

10. ACCEPT where you are now.
9. TURN OFF the inner critic and TURN ON your imagination.
8. BE INVOLVED in the process...not just the product.
7. Make art EVERY DAY.
6. Always BE A BEGINNER - act like you've never done anything like this before.
5. Allow yourself to FAIL now and again - to help you from always playing it safe.
4. LEAP and let the net appear (a la Julia Cameron).
3. PAINT as if no one will see it.
2. OWN that you are an artist.
1. USE your art to change the world.

They're Baaaaaaaack!

I have loved Mother's Circus Animal Cookies since I was a kid. They were a major snack for me - an event, even, right up there with Strawberry Frosted Pop Tarts and Cap'n Crunch Cereal. Then, last year, the Mother's Cookie Company became a victim of the recession and went out of business. It was a dark day for me. It could not have been worse. No more frosted Circus Animal Cookies. Yes there were other brands, but they suck. Nothing could replace the real thing from Mother's Cookie Company.

And so for months I dragged myself through my existence, wondering if life would ever be the same again, when, suddenly, a couple of days ago, I found them! There, on the shelf of Stater Brothers, were Mother's brand frosted Circus Animal Cookies! Yes! Kellogg's has purchased the Mother's Cookie Company and has started up production again!

They are back on the shelves, and life is great! Suddenly, even the threat of the upcoming school year, looming over us as it always does at this time of year, seems to be a minor thing now that I have my Circus Animal Cookies.

Here I am, enjoying the treat I feared I would never see again for the rest of my life.

Now of course, many people would wonder if this is a healthy and nutritious alternative to, say, fresh fruit? Duh, not even close.

I think it's cute that somebody figured that six cookies are considered to be one serving. Nobody. Ever. Eats. Only. Six.

So, my life is better, and birds are again singing in the trees.




Thursday, August 6, 2009

This One Is A Keeper!

One more recipe and I will change my blog themes for awhile. This is one of those recipes that has been around forever - chances are, you already have it. However, it is so damn good that I plan to make it once or twice a month from now on. The leftovers are as good as the day you make it, and it is something that doesn't have to be measured precisely. Also, check out my thoughts below for ways to change it. If you haven't taken my advice and put your name on the mailing list to get the Penzey's catalog, you should:

Cheesy Tomato Bake

3/4 sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
(I use a blend that you can get at the grocery store...if you have a Trader Joes nearby, get their "quattro formaggio" and use about 1 cup and a half, skipping the cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup milk
2 cups biscuit baking mix
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1 zucchini or yellow squash, shredded
3 tsps. or Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle, or some oregano, basil, and parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix milk and baking mix until roughly blended. Pat into the bottom of the baking dish (wet your hands to make it easier to pat dough across bottom of dish). In a large mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, cheeses, salt and pepper. First, sprinkle tomatoes and squash evenly over baking mix layer. Then, spoon the sour cream/cheese mixture over the top and gently spread out to cover surface. Sprinkle Italian herbs over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

You could add sauteed onions, sliced turkey, chopped water chestnuts, small broccoli flowers, cubed pepperoni and a drizzle of pizza sauce, or whatever else you have on hand. Experiment with the ingredients your family likes. As long as you make the milk and biscuit mix base, I think you could put anything in the middle before topping with the sour cream mixture. Watching calories? Use light sour cream and mayo and reduce your cheese. Finally, I think this could be easily cut in half to make a 9x9-inch dish (although you really should make the bigger size and live on the left overs), or doubled to make enough for a potluck.

Let me know how this works for you. We love it!! The first 5 people who email me their thoughts before August 10, 2009 will receive a complimentary container of Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle (subject to availability and access to your mailing address...allow time for shipping, please).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

If You Love Food, Do This!

If you don't love food, then the last three blogs have been very boring for you. If you do love food, you need to do this: go to and ask to be put on their catalog mailing list. Not only will you have access to some of the best herbs and spices on the planet, you will get a catalog each month that is filled with recipes. Here is a recipe I found that my friend, Heidi, should like...she makes the most beautiful and delicious breads.

Whole Wheat Apple Bread

Makes 1 loaf - each slice is 90 calories

1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat flour (or 1 and 1/2 cups each whole wheat and white flour)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups chopped, peeled baking apples (McIntosh or Granny Smith)
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts), optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8x4-inch loaf pan (or spray well with non-stick cooking spray). In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Sift in the flour(s), salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. Fold in apples and nuts. Spoon dough into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until toothpick inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean (start checking at about 1 hour and 15 minutes). Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely. Serve with butter, apple butter, or plain!