Monday, December 27, 2010

what's been going on

I've been busy.

Thankfully, I have 32 precious, silly, eccentric students to make me laugh.

Every year, a local business asks our students to submit holiday drawings.  One of the drawings will be chosen as their company's holiday card.  This year, students were asked to incorporate "fitness and wellness" in their holiday pictures.  I always love getting to see the final product each student turns in, but this year was especially amusing.

This was one of the first pictures turned in.  Adorable.  Sweet.  (look at the carrots left for Santa instead of cookies- too cute!)

I laughed out loud when I saw this one.  There are no words...

Before checking out this last picture, I should probably mention that this student is an excellent artist and just moved to the United States a few months ago.

He speaks very little English.

Looking back, I probably should have clarified a few things...


You're welcome.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

hey soul sister

I know, I know.

It's been a while since I've updated you on my ever-so-interesting life.

I'm sorry.

There, I apologized.  Moving on...

A few months ago, a discussion with friends took a rather serious turn when the topic of child trafficking was brought up.  Before that conversation, I was unaware of what a huge problem this is just 30 minutes from where I live!  Atlanta is one of the largest hubs for child trafficking in the U.S., and it is a 32 billion dollar a year industry worldwide.

As most of you know, I have a hard time 'letting things go.'  This was one of those things.

I went home and began doing some research.

I came across an organization based out of New York called Stop Child Trafficking Now.  They are set up to raise awareness and  help stop child trafficking in the U.S.

This year, on October 2, SCTNow held a 'walk day' in communities across the country.  Although we weren't able to walk because of prior engagements, we were still able to create a team and raise money.

T and I came up with  Cupcakes in the Crosswalk.  Each week one of us would bring baked goods in to work in exchange for donations to SCTNow.  This was a perfect opportunity to try out some new recipes. 

I have read about whoopie pies in blogs for quite a while now but had never even eaten one before.  Apparently, they are more common in the north, but I thought I'd give them a try anyways ;)

I found a recipe in Betty Crocker's Fall Baking (the Bakerella issue!) for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.  After several test batches and a few minor adjustments, my co-workers (and my fellow tailgaters) were able to welcome fall with this delicious pumpkin creation.

Now, I must give credit where credit is due...

Thank you Pennsylvania Amish women.  Your contribution to the baking world is greatly appreciated.

Thank you to my generous co-workers and anonymous donors.  Because of your donations, we were able to raise $205!  Enough money to support 8 Special Operative Teams!  Y'all are awesome!  I cannot thank you enough!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (my substitutions in red)
1 pouch/box sugar cookie mix
1 tbsp flour (1 tbsp Pumpkin Spice pudding mix)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
1 egg

1/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar (1 3/4 cups powdered sugar)

1.  Heat oven to 375.  In a large bowl, stir together cookie mix and flour.  Add remaining cookie ingredients; stir until stiff dough forms.
2.  Onto ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart.  Lightly press tops with floured fingertips to flatten slightly.
3.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.  Cool completely (about 15 minutes).
4.  In a medium bowl, beat 1/4 cup butter, cream cheese, and vanilla with electric mixture until blended.  Gradually add in powdered sugar on low speed until smooth. 
5.  Spoon 1 generous tablespoon of filling on bottom of one cookie.  Top with second cookie, bottom side down.  Gently press together.  Store covered in refrigerator.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

times they are a changin'

I'm pretty sure that I was born in the wrong decade.

Because of some sort of cosmic glitch, there was a 40 year delay and I was born in the 80's instead the 40's as was meant to be.

Can't you just imagine it?  ....{entering la-la land}...

...growing up in the mist of WWII with gas rationing and Rosie the Riveter
...wearing bobby socks and saddle oxfords while watching Disney's Fantasia
...fawning over men like Frank Sinatra and listening to Bing Crosby sing to-be Christmas classics
...watching sports legends like Jackie Robinson and Sugar Ray Robinson
...going to the drive-in to see Humphrey Bogart star in Casablanca *sigh*
...marveling at inventions such as velcro, the microwave, and tupperware

A few other facts about 1940:
  • average annual income- $1,900 
  • average cost of a home- $6,550
  • average cost of a car- $800
  • a gallon of gas- $0.18
  • minimum wage-$0.30
So, I wasn't lucky enough to experience the 40's first hand (thank goodness for Casablanca on DVD!) but, my mawmaw was.
There are a few things you should know about my mawmaw.
  1. is from a tiny town just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana.
  2. has 2 daughters, 1 son, and 2 step-sons.
  3. was my weekend sleepover partner when I was little.  We would stay up late watching moves, sing along to Dolly Parton's greatest hits, and eat breakfast at the Cracker Barrel.
  4. makes the best pecan pie. ever.
  5. is a retired Delta flight attendant.
  6. currently resides in small town Florida.
  7. has restored a historic home.
  8. enjoys gardening.
  9. loves sweets.
  10. volunteers her time protecting sea turtles and tracking wolves (no, that is not a typo. She actually tracks wolves).
  11. loves scary, creepy, grotesque movies.
  12. has a sense of humor that would probably make you blush.
  13. is not your average mawmaw.
  14. turned 70 this month.
 Minus the gory movies and rather odd sense of humor, my mother is practically the same person.  And apparently Mawmaw has pretty strong genes.  It's only a matter of time until I too am tracking red wolves through the forests of a wildlife refuge.

3 generations
(like I said....strong genes)

For her birthday, we gathered at my aunt's home to celebrate.  Per her request for chocolate ganache, I made a chocolate fudge cake with white chocolate whipped cream filling and poured chocolate ganache over the top.  It got rave reviews from the family (and my taste-testers who got to try the 'make-sure-it's-not-a-total-flop' trial run).  The cake was deliciously moist and the whipped cream filling was a perfect match for the rich layer of ganache.

Happy Birthday Mawmaw!

*Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe adapted from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes

Sunday, July 25, 2010

sweetest goodbye

This week, T and I were invited over to a friend's house for dinner and I was asked to bring dessert.  I always like occasions like these because I get to try out new recipes.  I decided to go with Paula Deen's Deep Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake that I found on Bakerella (where I get lots of recipes...I trust her. She knows dessert.  And lets be real, so does Paula).  The cake is a flourless chocolate cake-something I hadn 't ever tried before, and it was super easy to make.

After baking, the cake has to be cooled in the fridge for a few hours.  Since I hate cold cake, I decided to take it out of the fridge a few mins before we ate it so that it would be room temperature.  T and I decided to serve it with ice cream, because, well, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

The cake was ok...just so so.  When I left that night I had decided that I wouldn't use that recipe again.  It wasn't that it was bad, just not really worth the effort.  Honestly, I would have preferred a boxed brownie mix (which I appreciate on any and all occasions).  I can't lie--I was disappointed.

But, since I'm such a forgiving person (and have little self-control against anything chocolate) I decided to give it a second chance.  This time right out of the fridge...straight from the pan...for breakfast.  Cause thats just the kinda girl I am. 

Now, I'm mature enough to admit there are a few numerous times that giving second chances did not have desired results.
Hindsight is 20/20.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Give me a break.  Geez.

This was not one of those times.  This was one of those times when you thank your lucky stars that you gave it another try because you're pretty sure that you were just given a glimpse of what Heaven might be like.  Cold is the key for this cake.  It isn't a cake, but not quite a brownie.  It lies somewhere in the delicious chocolaty in between.

I will spare you all the gory details, but once the secret was out (i.e. T was informed of its greatness)...well, lets just say we're not proud of the decisions we made.  Thank goodness for things like mercy, grace, and forgiveness...and a strapping young man who kicks our hineys twice a week :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

she will be loved

This weekend was a whirlwind of activities.  From a step show (life changing, btw), to an engagement party, to a baby shower, and finally fathers' day, it seemed that the only down time I had was the time to took to drive from location to location.  It's a good thing that I have all week off to recover from the weekends ;) 

The baby shower was for a friend's niece and she had asked if I would do some baking for the occasion.  She had a cute idea to make the cake a onesie and also requested  cake balls (side note: i'm working on a new name for those things.  Something that sounds a little more...appetizing--let me know if you have any suggestions kthanks!).  The cake was a white chocolate cake with a strawberry filling and strawberry frosting.  The cake balls were strawberry cake, and just to go with the pink and brown color scheme, I made devils food cupcakes with strawberry frosting.  The shower was beautiful and the mommy-to-be recieved lots of goodies for her little bundle of joy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

dixieland delight

  • it is summer
  • I live in the south
  • it was 92 degrees outside
  • I hadn't used my ice cream maker yet this year
  •  I had some very ripe bananas
...and mostly because being a good southern girl means I never need an excuse to make a dessert (yes, that is a fact-you can check the handbook), I did just that.

It is with great pleasure I introduce to you:

Banana Pudding Frozen Yogurt

(I'll give you a moment to regain your composure...)

Joy actually made Banana Pudding Ice Cream, which lets be honest, is probably much more tasty.
But since I already had some yogurt on hand (and for the sake of not having to pay for it this week when I meet with my tyrannical zealous trainer), I went with frozen yogurt. 

It was fan-freakin-tastic! With chunks of banana and nilla wafers mixed in the batter, it was everything a girl could hope for.
(not to mention super easy--yogurt, banana instant pudding mix, a banana, crushed nilla wafers) Yum!

Friday, June 11, 2010

life is a highway

It's official.  I'm old.

Memorial Day weekend my little brother graduated from high school.  It was a wonderful, long weekend spent with family- my parents' home was nearly busting at the seams with guests.  I hope that John knows how proud we all are of him!

It was a night that he won't soon forget.  Storm clouds threatened rain all day, and after checking the weather roughly 482 times, we all loaded up and headed to the football field.  After an hour rain delay, the sky cleared and the ceremony began.  The stadium was brimming with spectators as the graduates filed onto the field.  The speakers gave their rousing accounts of past-present-future living, and then it was time.  Time to call the name of approximately 400 students.  Apparently, as we were listening to the speeches (feeling as if we had really dodged a bullet), the clouds had snuck up on us.  At the call of the first student's name it started raining-buckets!  Like a choreographed dance, umbrellas were raised and people huddled under whatever makeshift cover they could find.  We were the lucky ones though.  The graduates just had to sit there.  In their full-length polyester robes, and their cardboard caps, with their chairs sinking into the soggy ground, for the other 399 names to be called.

Oh well, it makes for a good story I guess.  Years from now it will be one of those days he will be able to laugh about when he runs into fellow classmates as they reminisce about "the good ol' days."

Because my brother is of the rare breed who don't like cake (...or brownies, or cookies-yeah i know, weird. I don't get it either, but those people actually exist!), I ventured from traditional cake.  With the help of my 9 year old cousin, Sam, I made dirt cake.  He was really a team player and took on the challenge of making sure that it was safe for everyone else to eat {read: licked the bowl} ;).  The cake was fun to make and everyone seemed to enjoy it--even John ate it (talk about a feat)!


Senior Day 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

times like these

Before reading this post, you must know two things:
1.  Today is Friday.
2.  There are 5, count 'em 5, days of school left before summer vacation (and until my sweet, precious, loving fourth graders become too-big-for-their-britches fifth graders)

In addition, today we had a special program led by man who goes by the name of 'Scientist C.'  He brought in lots of hands-on activities for my friends to "explore space" with.
For those of you who haven't been in elementary school in a while here is a little math equation for ya...

                     summer so close you can taste it 
+ a change your routine for even 5 minutes
                                                     one tired teacher!

Needless to say, my students were (almost literally at one point) bouncing off the walls today.

Feeling a bit defeated after school, I mustered up all the strength I could to drag myself down the hall to the parking lot and into my car so that I could pick up a nutrient-rich, low-calorie, health conscious (**read-something flavorful and fried**) dinner on the way home.
During my drive I had one of those 'why didn't I choose a desk job?' conversations with myself and tried to calculate if I have enough 'sick/personal' days left to start summer vacation a week early.

Once home, I sat down to watch the local news (which never happens-but I was too tired to care, or change the channel), and began to feel even worse.

"local college student being deported for being an illegal immigrant...

crazy, ex-employee demanding job back wielding a machete...

corruption in the police department..."

and just when I was about to change the channel to something a little more, well, upbeat, a story came on about high school students. 

Today, hundreds of high school students across metro Atlanta held (mostly) peaceful protests because of the teacher RIF.

In social studies, my 10 year-old friends and I have been learning about reform.  We were just discussing how people/leaders from our past have helped to encourage people of today to 'fight' for what they believe in.

It was inspirational to see students standing up for their teachers--on a Friday afternoon no less!
Student after student was interviewed about why they were there.  Everyone of them talked about how much their teachers had influenced them and made learning fun.


Sometimes I'm reminded why I don't have 'one of those desk jobs.'

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

peaceful easy feeling

I recently got to make dessert for a little girl's birthday party.  The party had a spa theme, so the party planner...ok, her mom...asked me to make fingernail polish brownies.  I was a bit nervous, but up for the challenge.  I love fun projects like this-they make baking so much more fun!

Friday, April 9, 2010

changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

Each year, just about the time everything in the southeastern United States is covered in a yellow-green haze, teenagers around the country throw their arms in the air and joyfully scream "SPRING BREAK '_(insert year here)_".

Ok, and maybe a few over-zealous twenty-somethings who brilliantly chose the best career ever do too.

And yes, I know what you're thinking.

Those of you who have been stuck in an office for the past week are cursing my name for reminding you that I have spent the last week basking in the sun on a radiantly white sand beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore, while sipping a deliciously refreshing frozen concoction that has relaxing powers enough to make you forget your own first name...(so, I may exaggerate...a little...) 

To you I only have one thing to say.  Life is all about choices.  Sorry yours aren't as well thought out as mine.

Now that we have that out of the way...

This year I got to share a part of my childhood with two of my favorite people: T, and our other gifted-decision-making, teacher friend, Shanna.   With their over-stuffed luggage in tow, the three of us made the 7 hour drive south to Apalachacola.  Years ago, my grandparents bought and restored a historic home in the small town.  Being a historic home, the walls preserve memories of the distant and not-so-distant past, from military housing to wedding receptions.  My family has made this piece of "forgotten coast" our vacation home every summer for as long as I can remember.  Once both of my grandparents retired, they packed up their home in Atlanta and made Apalach their permanent residence.

In a town of just under 2,500 people (and limited cell phone reception), time seems to move a little slower.  In fact, after a few days in the "small drinking town with a big fishing problem," you realize you have no idea what time it is, little recollection of what day it is, and quite frankly, you like it better that way.


I throughly enjoyed showing the girls around town and getting some much needed days of relaxation.  I'm also glad that I was able to spend time with my grandparents, who did everything they could to help us feel at home.  We spent a day at the beach, explored some interesting shops in town, ate fantastic seafood, took the boat up the river (after a few failed attempts and with the help of a determined Pawpaw), and even attend an exclusive 'Deacon's meeting.'  I only hope that T and S enjoyed themselves as much as I did--and their little glimpse into the small town life of an oysterman.

The preacher man himself

Sunday, April 4, 2010

this man

For Easter, a co-worker asked me to make some cake pops for her and her family.  She always gives me fun projects to try-I baked for her son's bar mitzvah too.  This time she requested cheesecake and brownie pops (my personal favorite).  After a quick search of Bakerella's site for ideas, I decided to make chicks and Easter eggs.  Here's the final product.

je t'aime

It's that time again.  Yes my friends, wedding season is upon us!  And, with all of those weddings, you're going to have lots of showers.  And with all of those showers, you're going to need eat lots of cake!  [think If You Give a Mouse a Cookie]  That's usually where I come in. I'm pretty much clueless when it comes to anything wedding/shower related, but sugary goodness-that's right up my alley!

This time the shower was for my best friend/college roommate.  Her wedding is in June, so this was the first of her long line of showers.  For her cake I decided to try Pioneer Woman's chocolate cake recipe.  I think it was our mutual love of chocolate and belief in its magical healing powers that tied us as roommates for four years (and could possibly be responsible for a few extra pounds...jury's still out on that one though).  Thanks to the help of our very own resident design major, the shower was beautiful!  It was a wonderful time to reconnect with old friends, and with 18 years of memories, there were lots of stories to share!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

bad moon rising

The signs were all so clear.

I should have seen it coming.

Last night, on our ride home, T and I marveled at the moon.  It was big, bright, and....terrifying!
Ok, so at the time it wasn't terrifying.  It was actually quite beautiful.  One of those 'beautifuls' that assures you of God's presence and reminds you that you are but a speck in the vast universe.

...or maybe that was just the Bible study talking....

Either way, it was only foreshadowing what was to come.  Unfortunately for me, I didn't realize that until it was too late.  It's like in those horror movies when the young, beautiful, unsuspecting girl is about to open the door and you keep yelling at her not to, but she doesn't realize that opening a door that leads to a dark basement, in an empty house, with creaky floors, in the middle of the woods, during a thunderstorm was probably a bad idea until its all over and done with.

Today was just like that.

It had all the makings of a good horror story: 31 32 students, 6 instructional days until CRCT, the week before spring break, a fire drill, and a full moon.  I'll save you all the gory details, and quite honestly, it could have been worse--there were no casualties (although it was touch and go there for a second).  But, today I needed the patience of Job and all I could seem to muster up more resembled Ursula from The Little Mermaid (I'll give you a second to visualize it? Good.)  Oh well, in the words of Scarlett, tomorrow is another day.  Thankfully there are only 64 hours standing between myself and a week of work-free, sunny (fingers crossed) bliss.  Just enough time to recharge my patience for the last 6 weeks ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010

stir it up

For the past several months Tiffany and I have stayed after school twice a week to work with small groups of students who need a little extra help with reading and math.  Today was the final session, so we decided to combine our groups and celebrate.  Tiffany made her famous brownies and I decided to take this opportunity to try something I probably wouldn't get the chance to make again for a while.  I ran across this cake a while ago on a blog and have wanted to try it ever since, but there are few occasions that a tie-dyed cake is needed.  The cake is just a mix and is divided up and dyed.  Then layer the colors, bake, and voilĂ -you have wonderfully rainbow colored creation!

 Now...what will we do with all of those free afternoons?

have i told you lately

Just a quick game of catch up...

In December the girls and I took a trip to Chattanooga, TN for Ashleigh's bachelorette weekend.  This is her cake...and more importantly, the newest addition to our group, Omar.

For our class holiday party my students decorated gingerbread cookies.  Everyone brought in something to decorate with and they had a great time designing their cookie creations.  They also went home with sugar comas ;)

This is a cake that I made for a co-worker's baby shower.  The cake had to be gender neutral because the mommy-to-be isn't a control freak like myself and thinks that a surprise sounds like fun.

Monday, January 25, 2010

something for cat

This past summer, while browsing through Blue Frog Imports on my way home from a morning run (oh, how I miss summer and morning runs), I fell in love.  There, stacked on top of cinder blocks among a multitude of lawn ornaments, sat a cast iron tub with the front side cut off.  It was old, rusty, and avacado green.  It was perfect.  At the time I couldn't justify such a nonsensical purchase-I mean a sofa tub, really?  Months passed and with nothing on my Christmas list (yes, my parents still insist on me having a Christmas list-some things never change), the tub became mine. Here are some before and after pictures of my Breakfast at Tiffany's inspired new furniture!



and after...