12/31/2013

Happy New Year!

For the first time in 5 years, hubby and I are staying in. No dancing, no pubs, no party. Just a cozy couch picnic, with plenty of bubbly and our favorite munchies.
From afar, through a television screen, we'll admire our favorite place to be. New York City. Someday we'll ring in the new year while vibrant confetti floats down from above as we belt out Old Lang Syne from the cramped city streets. Someday we'll be in the thick of it. Making friends with the thousands of others who have NYE in NYC on their bucket lists. 

Someday.

Not this year, though.
This year it's just us.  And I wouldn't want it any other way.
So, from our couch to yours, happy New Year sweet friends! 
2014 is going to be a good one. I can feel it in my bones.

All my love

12/23/2013

Future Mr. and Mrs. Martin

I am tickled pink to share that, after 5 years of dating, my 'bro-in-law' Jordan finally popped the question...

and Sonya, my baby sister, said YES!
Together, in front of the Church Street Christmas tree, they grew up that little big more. They morphed from just boyfriend and girlfriend to future husband and wife. 
And, in the space of a week, they've continued to change, continued to grow even more. Because not only are they future husband and wife, they are also future home owners. Sonya and Jordan's offer on what will be their first home was accepted, just in time for Christmas. They close the end of January.

There are very few people I've shared my entire life with. Few people I can want to punch in the nose yet love unconditionally at the same time. Few people whose dreams and goals and ambitions mean as much to me as my own. But my sister is one of those people. My family, my best friend, the other pea in my pod. And to see her dreams coming true. To watch her - that little pipsqueak who used to follow me around and tattle when I snuck an extra corn muffin - grow into a beautiful, successful woman is truly a blessing.

Sonya and Jordan, Carl and I are so happy for you. You are truly perfect for one another, and we look so forward to the journey you'll share in the future.

 Congratulations!
We love you! 

12/22/2013

Sweet Snowflakes

I spent this past Thursday night carefully piping intricate snowflakes atop sugar cookies while I sang along to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and sipped woodchuck beer.
Along with our Christmas card (which I was tickled pink with this year! Thank-you Shutterfly for your awesome coupon codes!) my sweet snowflakes were gifts for my wonderful co-workers on the last day of school.
 And as much as everyone enjoyed their sparkly treats, I teared up as I opened all of my cards and goodie bags from my little love bugs and their families. I was well and truly spoiled rotten.
And although by the time Friday afternoon had finally rolled around I was in desperate need of Ibuprofen and a six pack - I still left work feeling unbelievably blessed. Sure, teaching is hard work. It's emotionally draining and there are days where I have to remind myself that patience is a virtue and that I love my job. But through it all - the endless sicknesses, the "I was playing with that!!!!" and crying, the extra laminating and report writing - I am lucky to be able to spend my days with such fantastic people - both old and young. Teaching is something that impacts the lives of others just as much as it impacts the life of your own. And I genuinely wouldn't want to do anything else.

12/21/2013

Dark Chocolate Caramel Turtles

You guys! I feel like Rachael Ray! 

Here I am - for the second time in a week - sharing another super simple, super delicious holiday recipe. You know, one of those fabulous quick desserts that's just perfect for all of those Christmas parties you'll be attending. One that'll have everyone and their brother begging you for the recipe. One that'll  make you feel like a domestic goddess.

Mhm.

You're so welcome. 

Dark Chocolate Caramel Turtles

Ingredients:

1 bag of small pretzels
1 bag of baking caramels (I used  the Werther's Original brand)
Pecan halves
Dark chocolate - I used the Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate with a Touch of Sea Salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Line pretzels in neat rows along baking sheet, placing a caramel (or half, as I did) on top of each. Be sure to leave enough space between each for any caramel that may ooze. If they're too close you'll end up with an ooey gooey turtle monster rather than cute little individual candies. 
  • Pop in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the caramels are just melted.
  • Once melted, remove from the oven and immediately press pecan halves into the melted caramel. Be sure not to push too hard as you'll break the pretzel underneath and that'll make the next step difficult. 
  • Once the caramel has completely cooled, melt your chocolate and dab even rounds (approximately 1 tsp each) on the parchment paper. Place a caramel pretzel per chocolate round and allow to dry. (if you're pressed for time, feel free to pop these in the fridge in order to reduce the set time).

Serve in cute plastic bags tied with ribbon or on a festive plate! Enjoy!

Yield: this recipe makes 45-50 individual turtle candies

12/18/2013

SO WHAT! Wednesday

Life After I Dew

This week I'm linking up again with Shannon and saying a bit fat SO WHAT if...
  • I'm popping decongestant pills and Airborne like candy because I've got...wait for it...yet another cold. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME! 
  • I've been listening to Christmas music 24/7 since the week of Thanksgiving and I'm still not sick of it.
  • I didn't want to pay to have my gel nails filled again, so I soaked them in acetone while watching 30 Rock, and then picked them off with nail clippers. It hurt. A lot. Learn from my mistake.
  • I'm regretting letting my husband choose our living room tv. Black Friday bit me in the bum. 55 inches? I'm pretty sure that's the size of China.
  • I made the mistake of laughing at one of my students when he looked me in the eye and said, as proud as a peacock: "Look! I'm pinkin' my nose and eatin' it!"  Of course, after my lapse in teacher poker face, his finger was permanently in his nose the rest of the day.
  • I can't stop eating holiday cookies, or candy, or fudge. My ass is well and truly expanding.
  • I face planted walking to my car last night after work. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
  • I'm on a French Onion soup kick again. I can't get enough.
  • I've secretly been drooling over everyone's ugly Christmas sweaters. I can't help it. I have some random desire to attend every single ugly sweater party in the land.
  • I always set a 'firm Christmas present budget' for my friends and family. And I always go over it.
  • I enjoy giving gifts more than getting them now. (If my 7 year old self could hear me now!)
  • I haven't done any form of exercise since my Santa 5k on the 2nd.
  • I'm genuinely afraid I won't make it through the rest of the week. The kiddos are well and truly full of piss and Christmas vinegar. Attention Parents! Wait until Friday evening to stuff your children full of sugar. Their poor teachers are sprouting grey hairs by the minute!

12/16/2013

Maple Bars

Looking for a fabulous, simple, DELICIOUS dessert to take to those bazillion Christmas parties you have coming up over the next two weeks?  

Look no further.
Warm up the printer. Preheat the oven. Prepare for your brand new rank of chefy awesomeness.
You're welcome.

Saturday night my parents went to one of their many Christmas parties, at which they were reintroduced to the infamous Maple Bars. Every year a woman at the party makes them, and every year every single person at the party begs for her recipe. This year Dad must have given her a wink, Mom batted her eyelashes, because they returned home victorious with a hand written recipe for these local legends.

Sunday morning I received the recipe from my mother. Early Sunday afternoon I made them for my entire family.
 3/4 of the pan was gone before I could even take a picture of the cooled, finished product, and by 4:30 pm the entirety of the pan were floating in the bellies of the Cousino clan.

Allow me to put into prospective their deliciousness. They are on par with the famous Thelma's maple cream bread dough at all of the Vermont fairs. Like an ooey-gooey-pie-ish maple candy.

A Vermonter's wet dream.

They are amazing.  

Crust:

1 stick of softened butter
1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • Mix and pat into the bottom of a greased 8x8 pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes (or until corners begin to turn a golden brown). 

Filling:

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup VERMONT maple syrup (only the best, my friends. Only the best).
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl flour
1/2 cup nuts - optional
  • Turn oven down to 350 degrees F. Mix and pour filling over warm crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until the top is a rich golden brown). 
  • Allow to cool completely (unlike my family did) before slicing into squares and serving. 
  • Enjoy the wrath of compliments and "can I have your recipe?" schmoozing that inevitably follows.

12/15/2013

Sparkly Ice Playdough and "Fake" Sensory Snow

As I sat in bed this morning, rocking the crazy lady bed head, I cuddled into my warm blankets while I watched the fluffy snowflakes dance outside my window. Absorbing the heat radiating from my rapidly aging (and utterly craptastic) laptop, I ended my bout of fantastic procrastination and began to compose the winter newsletter for my class that goes home to parents at the end of the week. As I do so well here on my blog, I  rambled in the newsletter as well. Long winded babbles about how the kids continue to show an increasing interest in ice and snow (tasting, feeling, breaking, melting - even balancing and skating on) and how because of this, ice exploration will become a part of our daily routines. 

Then I hit up Pinterest for some kind of winter wonderland inspiration. It goes without saying that I was sucked into the endless DIY mirage that is the Pinterest Pit (I mean seriously, will I ever build my own wood pallet coffee table or paint metallic polka dots on my own walls? Hell no. But one can dream). Nevertheless, over an hour later I dragged my ass from what we shall now simply refer to as "The Pit" victorious. For I had found not one, but two wintery educational gems... (as well as about 80 million bazillion other amazeball ideas that I'll never have the time, money or endless ambition to complete).

And so, in lieu of the holiday spirit, I'm passing these - my wintery educational gems- on to you. My fellow teachers, and parents. Or both.  May you bask in their practically effortless greatness. May you ride the temporary "you're so awesome!" wave as your children giggle and marvel and explore. And, most importantly, may you - perhaps for the first time ever - leave a babbling blog post of mine with cool (people still use the word cool, right?) and useful information.

Sparkly Ice Playdough

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 Tbl cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbl mineral or baby oil (the original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I find that these oils smell better).
  • 1 ginormous squirt of dish soap (I only had green apple...which made for weird smelling 'sparkly ice' and added a slight green tint. Keep this in mind when adding your dish liquid). 
  • 4 Tbl glitter
  • 1 – 2 cups boiling water
Steps:
As the woman on Pinterest before me suggested, I too used my Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook. Mostly because I SO could not be bothered whirling hot playdough around a bowl like a freakin' maniac...which is usually the case. However, if you're feeling more energetic and outgoing than I, feel free to use a big ol' bowl and wooden spoon. Go ahead and knead that playdough, Rambo style!
  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, glitter, baby/mineral oil, and soap in a large bowl.
  2. Slowly add boiling water and mix until it makes a somewhat sticky dough.
  3. Knead, knead, knead (I left it on a medium speed whizzing around my mixer for 5 minutes). It should get less sticky, but if you need to you can knead in a bit more flour.
  4. Store in an airtight container until little fingers smoosh and moosh it. 

Fake Sensory Snow

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup hair conditioner
  • 3 cups of baking soda 
Steps:
Mix together in a bowl (yes, it's really that easy). Fake snow molds easily like real snow, and can be used over and over again. If you find that it begins to dry out, simply add more conditioner until the desired consistency is reached. 

I've also seen this recipe for 'erupting snow' that I think we may give a go after we're bored with our fake and sparkly goodies. 


Best part? I'm excited for Monday. Even better? There's only 5 more days til Winter Break! HURRAH!

12/14/2013

The Cake Files: Barnyard Fun

I give you my latest Caketastic Confection. An adorable barnyard scene for an adorable two year old little boy. Not too shabby for my first attempt at animals (and cute muddy tractors). 

12/12/2013

I pink puffy heart my new look

Oh. My. God.

FRIENDS!
CHECK THIS SHIT OUT! 

I am so emphatically in LOVE with my new blog re-vamp! Just look at it! (Seriously. Love birds? Leaves in the shapes of hearts? Pastels? Pretty girly swirly letters? Say whaaat?!)
The truth is that if I were clever enough (and had a slightly less embarrassing diva voice) I'd totally mash-up Kings of Leon's Sex on Fire  and bust out something along the lines of My Blog is on Fire. Oh yeah, that happy crap would be allll over YouTube. 

Thankfully, I'm more in tune with my lack of Beyonce-ness than that damn moron who prances around like a pony on crack singing jibberish like Gangnam Style
(P.S. Why is he gettin' down on my television with pistachios now? Go away! Just leave me alone!)

Once again Big Holly's Chris over at Hubby Jack's Blog Designs  (yes, a MAN created this gorgeousness. Whoda thunk?) did a truly stellar job of re-designing my blog. And even when I was psychotically obsessing over which color palettes I liked on Pinterest, I couldn't have imagined he would create something so beautiful. I am genuinely tickled pink. 

So, Chris. Thank you, once again, for being the gem that you are. You never fail to take the time to really listen and work with my OCD bologna. You go above and beyond any expectations I have. You pull that blog-rabbit out of the hat. And it's for those reasons that you will forever be my blog-designer-boy.


P.S. If you're looking to freshen up your bloggy neck of the woods, get in touch with Chris throughout December to take advantage of his sale! $55 will get you a truly gorgeous blog designed according to your personal wants and specifications. Hop on this awesomesauce bandwagon! Cowboy Chris will hook ya up!
 (This post was in no way sponsored by Hubby Jack's Blog Design. This was my very own giddy gushing.)

12/07/2013

The Cake Files: Lady Bug Love

This latest gem was made for family friends. Little Kira turned 1 a couple of weeks ago and this was her adorably simple lady-bug smash cake. Frosted in vanilla buttercream, it was nothin' but chocolatey goodness inside! 

11/29/2013

Black Friday be Cray-Cray


Well, I don't know about you, but my pants are certainly tighter and my heart still swelling. Thanksgiving was a success at our home, and our dinner went off without a hitch (well, aside from the turkey taking an extra 25 minutes to cook because it was the size of South America). But tardiness aside, our Thanksgiving day was delightful. My homemade garlic and sage stuffing (made like Grandma Cousino used to - with the addition of patotoes) was a hit, the new green beans and mushroom dish was drool-worthy and the the gravy lumpless and velvety. In addition to the savory munching, my pumpkin pie I slaved over at 6am was oh-my-god yummy, the cranberry cheesecake bars were super rich and Sonya's chocolate 4-layer cake: to die for. I'm pretty positive it was the sampling of all those sweet treats that put me over the edge and busted my gut. Maybe some year I'll learn to just say no to the desserts. (HA! Who the hell am I kidding?)

But the real success of Thanksgiving was that Dad was there to join us. Mr. pro-buck-hunter-extraordinaire was successful in Maine and returned home early on Wednesday with another yummy deer. (seriously, I don't know where all of this extra venison is supposed to go? Between Porky the pig he has butchered and portioned in there and his first deer, you have to body slam the freezer door to get it to close). Nevertheless, it was the best surprise to have our little clan complete. My cousin Wendi was also able to join us this year, which meant that our big 11 person Thanksgiving dinner was missing no one. What a feeling to have so many loved ones together in one space. Its this, the overwhelming sense of family, that makes the holidays so wonderful. I just love the happy tingles.

And on that note, we're now going to transition from that warm fluffy feeling to absolute people be cray-cray-up-in-here-pandemonium.

Hello Black Friday!

 Even now as I try my hardest to tune out the Today show in the background, I can't completely block out the excited yapping about a 40" Samsung plasma for $500, diamonds and cashmere sweaters at Macy's and 50% off the entire store at Old Navy. 

Sales.Are.EVERYWHERE!

And if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know I LOVE a good bargain. In fact, there are few things in this life that make my heart pitter patter faster. So you'll probably recall Tuesday's post where I was excitedly rambling about how this year would be my first Black Friday experience. Heading to the big box stores in order to steal some deals. Ignorantly blabbing about how I never understood why people complained so much about it. Idiotically envisioning civilized lines where people walk up to their item of choice and casually remove it from the pile and make their way to the check-out. Blissfully unaware of the reality. A dark, ugly reality where nut jobs foam at the mouth and will happily claw your hair out and blind you with the heel of their dog shit shoe in order to get that last Xbox or toaster oven. 

Oh man. 
My first In-Store Black Friday experience is something I never wish to repeat again. 
That shit is like a real life version of The Hunger Games.

No thank-you.

And while I did manage to make an alliance with a gaggle of Canadian Mama's and secure my 15 piece pots and pans set for an astounding $89 (Just call me Katniss. Boom-chicka-wow-wow), Carl - his games, Sonya and Jordan - their Christmas gifts; I can wholeheartedly say that it felt like Pampolna in the running of the bulls. After waiting for an hour and a half, Carl was shoved in the back by a little gremlin-man (who sneakily slid through the crowds 5 minutes before the sales went live) and was pissed Carl got the last Xbox game. Grandpa's were bellowing. Grandma's were wagging fingers in other Grandma's eyes. Mom's stood in the toy aisles using the language of 80 year old sailors. Children were strategically thrown in piles to grab boxes. I felt as though any minute a riot would break out and I'd die, squished like a pancake on the hard tile floor, clutching my precious box of pots and pans yelling for my Mommy.

My friends, if you leave this post with one thing, let it be this. The one thing I left the big box stores with last night.

In-Store Black Friday is not for the weak. In-Store Black Friday is for the crazy.
Besides, if you do your research, you can get awesome deals online without the scary greedy weirdos.
Point in case: hubby was able to get us our new LG 55" Flat Screen (men and their ridiculously big TV's) at Best Buy online. Originally $1,000, we  got it on sale for $500. But only paid $365 (using our gift certificates) with free shipping.
Best part? We did it from the comfort of the couch, didn't get swore at and we weren't sucker punched by gremlin-men.

Next Black Friday I plan to repeat this "online in the comfort of your own home" approach. I
t's like a fine-tuned recipe for success.

Sweet and Sour In-Store Black Friday is for Crazies
1 pair of comfy PJ's,
1 functioning lap top
2 comfy crazy-free couch cushions.

Relax until well rested.

Enjoy!

11/27/2013

SO WHAT! Wednesday

Life After I Dew

This week I'm linking up again with Shannon and saying a bit fat SO WHAT if...
  • All week I've been secretly praying for this huge storm to gift us a snow day today. I was so jipped.
  • I'll cry if the winds they're predicting in NYC keep the Macy's Day Parade balloons down tomorrow. I want Snoopie! I want Snoopie! I want Snoopie!  
  • I can't/HATE to sleep in flannel PJ's. They make me sweat like a pig.
  • I don't understand everyone's infatuation with the 'sexiness' of John Stamos? He'll always just be Uncle Jessie in my eyes. 
  • Yesterday I blew off a slice of orange that had fallen on the floor and ate it.
  • I think people who hock a loogie out of their car windows should be ticketed.
  • I'm a huge fan of HGTV. Love it or List it, anyone?
  • Christmas music has been blaring out of my car stereo since last Friday. 
  • I am 100% obsessed with Nature Valley's new Cinnamon Brown Sugar Baked Oatmeal bars. Get in my belly! 
  • If there were a perfume that smelled like Pine-Sol. I'd wear it. 
  • I post pictures of my food on Instagram. Yep. I'm one of those people.
  • I'm infatuated with the man I just saw on the Today show who makes portraits out of pancakes
  • I'm counting down the days to the Winter Olympics. 
  • Sometimes I stick a piece of Scotch tape to the end of my nose just so I can soak up the smell. 
  • I haven't run since I did the Color Run in September.
  • I plan to drink mimosas all day long and eat too many pieces of pumpkin pie tomorrow. The calories can kiss my ass.

11/26/2013

Eyeball Infections, an Elf and a Santa Suit with a hole in the crotch.

So, my right eye is as pink as a pigs ass. No exaggeration. The doc says I've got a viral infection (not pink eye, thank God) that I need to watch carefully. All I know is that I swear my poor eyeball has been clawed at by ghost cats during the night and now I feel like a pot-head-pirate. This shit is for the birds. No bueno. Feel free to send good vibes my way, friends. I miss painless-white-eye normalcy.

In other news, on Sunday I FINALLY ordered mine and Carl's Elf on the Shelf (on sale from Target. Free shipping. Hollah!) Now, I know what you're thinking.What the hell am I going to do with an Elf on the Shelf when we haven't got any children yet? To which I say: practice, Yoda. Crispen (yes, I've named him already. In fact, he was named a year and a half ago when I created his board on Pinterest...) will be wreaking havoc in our household this year as I practice for the Little Anderson's arrival later down the road. What's more, I may reinvent Crispen as a 'Winter Gnome" and bring him to the Thunderdragon Classroom. I think the kids would pee their pants (literally) with excitement. We shall see. 

This is a totally random post with absolutely no theme or main idea. If you haven't already noticed.

Sunday is our newly formed family tradition of The Santa 5k. Last Year was such a ball we promised it would become an annual thing. This year, in addition to my mom and sister, our close family friend Annie, Annie's daughter Danielle and her brother John will be joining us. I can't wait. My ass needs to get out and hop on the running wagon again (seriously. It's getting jigglier by the day). I miss it and I'm starting to get the itch again. Hopefully this year Mom will remember NOT to wear a huge leather coat under her santa costume. I, on the other hand, need to get to work sewing the hole in the crotch of my Santa Suit. So not a good look.

I'm contemplating a blog re-vamp. Watch this space...

I'm so excited to watch The Biggest Loser tonight. I look forward to Tuesday's JUST for this reason. 

I still haven't completed my grocery shopping list for Thanksgiving. I have SO much to get and so little time. Must.Light.A.Fire.Under.My.Ass.

The hubs and I are going to attempt our first Black Friday sale this year. Which means getting to Best Buy 3 hours early, with the bazillion other people, in the freezing ass 5-15 degree weather. Everyone complains about Black Friday, but it's something I've always wanted to go and do. It sounds exciting (we'll see if my tune changes after I actually embark on this adventure). The hubs has been eyeing a flat screen for our living room, and we have a couple of $100 gift certificates to use up so I figured this is the perfect opportunity to save some dollah-dollah.

I only found out this morning that Kelly Clarkson is pregnant. Have I been in a cave? Either way, how adorable. I'm happy for both her and her hubby.

I have the urge to curl up in bed and watch Christmas with the Kranks for the second time in the past 3 days...(it's that time of the year, folks! Fa la la la la).

Tomorrow is my last day of work before Thanksgiving. I have the following Monday off too (hello car starter!) so I'm feeling especially excited. Hurray for school vacations! 

Thanksgiving yum-yums

Since my Dad left for Maine (he's one of those avid deer hunters. Gone with his male 'gf'' Jimmy to roam the wild woods for that big buck) the joke in our family has been that I can finally have "fun" with Thanksgiving dinner. Dad won't be returning until late Sunday night, which means I have free rein to channel my chefy routs and make some non-traditional yum-yums without the usual:

"What the hell would you want to make that? Stick with what we always do." grumble...grumble...grumble...

And so I set to Pinterest, cooking magazines and Food Network (duh. Any excuse to watch the Food Network is a given) to find something delicious to make for my 10 family diners on Thursday. I found some gems, my friends. Some real gems. And the excitement I feel when I think about re-creating some of these dishes is really quite embarrassing. I mean seriously, who falls asleep giddily dreaming about getting up early Thanksgiving morning to stand in the kitchen with a Mimosa; elbow deep in pie crust, sage stuffing and the carcass of a dead bird?

This chick. That's who.

But I know that there are others in the world just as cray-cray as me. There are those of you out there who also look forward to the crazy-cooking-fiasco surrounding Thanksgiving day. You thrive on sharing with friends how you'll be cooking for 10 or 15 or 20. You too ferociously pin thanksgiving pies and biscuit and raid the family cookbooks for delicious recipes. And so, this post is for you. May you, my new crazy-thanksgiving-loving-friend, bask in all the delicious glory of these Thanksgiving yum-yums. 
Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

David Jacoby's Pie Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour

8 ounces butter

Pinch salt

Pie Filling:

1 3/4 cups (about one 15-ounce can) pumpkin puree

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups evaporated milk

3 Tbl molasses
3 large eggs

Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

 For the crust: Put flour in the food processor, add 6 tablespoons ice water, the butter and salt. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove from the food processor and knead until light. Wrap the dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove and roll out dough to fit the pan. Place pie weights in the bottom and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the pie shell to cool.

 For the filling: Place the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large mixing bowl and blend with a whisk. Add the evaporated milk, molasses and eggs; stir vigorously with the whisk until smooth.


Pour the filling into the pie shell. Cover the edge of the crust with aluminum foil.


Bake the pie on the center rack of the oven until the top is shiny and set. The pie is set when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

For the whipped cream: Chill the whipping cream for 15 to 20 minutes. Combine the chilled whipping cream and sugar in a bowl them whip them together with an electric mixer until you see firm peaks, a couple of minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Cool the pie on a rack. Serve the pie warm, cold or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.




Paleo Green Beans with Mushrooms and Toasted Almonds



Ingredients:



2 pounds trimmed green beans

8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 whole scallion, thinly sliced - white and green parts
4 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbl butter
Salt and pepper

Step 1:
Blanch green beans for 5 minutes in boiling salted water.

Step 2:
While green beans are blanching, place large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms and saute until golden brown (3-4 minutes). Add scallions, saute one more minute. Pull green beans out of water and add to pan.

Step 3:
Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and finish with 1/2 cup tasted almonds.
Cream Cheese Cranberry Bars

Ingredients:
Bars:
Nonstick cooking spray
21⁄2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 packages (8 ounces each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 package (12-ounce) white chocolate chips
11/2 cups dried cranberries
Drizzle:
4 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk
  • Preparation
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  • 2. In a medium bowl combine crushed graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • 3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. In a very large bowl combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy using an electric mixer on medium. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Pour half of the white chocolate chips and half of the dried cranberries into batter. Combine. Pour over prepared crust.
  • 4. Sprinkle remaining white chocolate chips and remaining dried cranberries over batter. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until edges are set but center still jiggles slightly. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour.
  • 5. For cheesecake icing, beat cream cheese until creamy. Beat in powdered sugar. Stir in vanilla. Add 3 tablespoons milk and stir to thoroughly combine. Add milk as needed to get desired consistency. Drizzle
  • over cooled bars. Refrigerate baking cookies & cakes at least 2 hours before serving.
  • ~
So stock up on the champagne and orange juice. T-minus 2 days until we stand in our aprons at 6 in the morning, the Macy's Day Parade hype blaring out of the tv, and guzzle those mimosas. 
Cheers, my friend. 

11/25/2013

Ohio State University has the moves like Mick Jagger

If any of you are morning show geeks like I am, you'll already have seen the buzz surrounding Ohio State University's marching band. But if you're currently residing in a cave or been boycotting all forms of social media, allow me to shed some light...

THEY ARE AMAZEBALLS! 

Back at the end of October I saw the Today show share this video of the Buckeyes marching band busting out Michael Jackson's moon walk. I was practically drooling all over myself.
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I mean who the hell thinks this stuff up? Can you imagine the coordination, dedication and time involved in something like this?Forming a ginormous Michael Jackson, Harry Potter or T-Rex as you play a musical instrument? Are you kidding me?
Shit. I  can barely tie my shoes and chew gum at the same time. 
These people are unbelievable!

And since their Michael Jackson tribute and Hollywood Blockbusters theme, they've been at it again. 
The Ohio State Marching Band graced the Today show again this morning with their incredible Civil War and Gettysburg Address tribute this past weekend. And yep, you guessed it. I drooled all over myself once more.
 Even though I've now seen a number of their routines I can't help but watch in awe. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I grew up in New England and attended college in England for both of my degrees. You can bet your ass there wasn't any fancy marching happening up in either of those places... 
 I've never ever been a part of football marching bands; never seen them in person. They're something that us 'northerners' only see in the movies, in the news or on the internet. But looking at these videos makes me want to hop a plane to be a part of the Buckeyes next game. Because this - this college football marching band - is a mighty find example of America's creativity, showmanship and outrageous-over-the-top ability to ooze patriotism and ingenuity.

11/21/2013

Frosty Windows

I have to admit that having only one vehicle can be a pain in the ass.

Point in case: this morning when my husband shook me at 6am letting me know his usual ride into work wasn't going in, so I needed to drive him (for the second time this week).

I flung the warm covers off and stomped around, lazily fumbling through my closet to find leggings, Ugg boots (with no socks) and a hoodie (to cover my ugly make-upless face). I couldn't help but swear in my sleepy stupor. Mumbling under my breath as I stumbled out the front door into the pitch ass dark where my sparkling ice covered car sat. You know winter's officially coming when you hear that distinct crunch as you open your drivers door. Ice crystals mean you're in for vicious rounds of shivers until that engine finally warms.

And so I sat there, shivering, swearing, yelling at the sun as it began to slowly slink up behind the mountains. Cursing the world around me as I continued to wait for Carl to collect his ham sandwich from the fridge and plunk himself next to me where I could bombard him with counterproductive miserable statements like:

"you need to get your ass in gear and get your drivers license."
"This one car shit is for the birds." 

But as I ventured down the road, slowly the ice crystals began to thaw. The frosty windows, once crunchy and opaque, were now clear and glossy. And with every minute my shivers died down along with my misplaced anger.

Yes, having only one vehicle can be a pain in the ass. Yes, the fact that Carl only has his permit and is in the process of feeling comfortable enough to take his drivers test is frustrating. Yes, I hate being shaken awake at 6am in order to rush out to a freezing ass car. But at the same time, life could be worse. A whole lot worse than some frosty windows.

And besides, on December 2nd my long awaited car starter gets installed.

Things are looking up.

11/20/2013

SO WHAT! Wednesday


Life After I Dew

This week I'm saying a bit fat SO WHAT if...
  • This is the first time I've joined in the SO WHAT! fun in months. Months people! Such a slacker. 
  • I've worn my hair curly for the last week because I've been too lazy to straighten it. 
  • I wake up an hour and a half earlier than I need to every day just so I can watch the Today show before work.
  • If I had a million dollars I'd buy a Central Park apartment in NYC.
  • I have only purchased one Christmas present this year.
  • I'm running our families annual Santa 5k in two weeks and I haven't actually run since The Color Run in September. Wah-wah-waaaah. 
  • One of my preschoolers continues to mispronounce The Gruffalo as The Buffalo and I don't correct her because I think it's adorable.com  
  • I'm afraid to watch the Live Carrie Underwood Sound of Music on December 5th. Not because I don't love Carrie Underwood, but because even she can't top Julie Andrews.
  • I'm pretty sure the sequel they're making to It's A Wonderful Life will be poop. You just can't make a full color sequel follow a classic black and white. No bueno. 
  • I actually like to play Skyrim on the Xbox with the hubby during our free time. Just call me Geek.
  • I'm currently obsessing over what pots and pans set to buy for our house.
  • I've eaten a handful of M&M's from the chocolate drawer in work every day this week. So naughty. 
  • I've been putting off buying new snow tires until I really need them. Far.Too. Expensive!
  • I dream about french onion soup.
  • Our Jack-O-Lanterns are still rotting on the front porch.

11/19/2013

Bloggers Guilt

Look, everyone! I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth!

Sitting here performing my daily ritual of watching the Today show before heading off to work, I couldn't help but feel this overwhelming urge to blog about some of the random crap that I've neglected to blog about lately. Of course this ping of guilt and kick-up-the-pants came mostly from seeing blogger Allie of Hyperbole and a Half being interviewed by Jenna Bush Hager, but nevertheless. I'm here. Rambling. (P.S. Allie is hil-a-ri-ous. Make sure you check her and her glorious hand drawn blog comics out. She also has a book coming out. You're welcome). 

So the truth is that a lot has been going on since I last parked it on the couch to blog. So much in fact, that I think I've dreaded and avoided blogging because I've felt overwhelmed. Which sounds dumb, but it's the truth. 

Anyway, I've overcome that and decided that rather than trying to compose tons of witty and well thought out blog posts, I'm just going to word vomit everything into this unorganized and chaotic post instead. Either way, my "catch-up" is in progress, finally, and hopefully (this is the plan, anyway) I'll fast track myself to blogging regularity. Because the honest truth is that I miss it. I miss documenting my life, I miss reading my favorite blogs. And the freezing 30 degree November weather and snow flurries outside make me excited to cuddle up with a cuppa tea and write. There's always something about the cold weather makes me want to blog. Tis the season.

Let the word vomit flow. 

The biggest and bestest news is that Carl's employers have been busting their butts the last few months to make a permanent position for him as an inspector (of Aerospace cables - or something that I don't completely understand because it's far too intricate and confusing for my brain). This means that as soon as all the i's are dotted and t's crossed we'll be able to begin the house hunting again. HALLELUJAH! Oh, and I'll be able to join his health care and dosie-doh out of this Health Connect cluster.

Speaking of our future house - we all know I'm a polka dot obsessive. Correction: Polka dot and bargain obsessive. So it'll come as no surprise that I regularly stalk Groopdealz. (if you're a Groopdealz virgin, you've been neglected all of your years). Last night they posted this awesome deal for Wallpaper Vinyl  Decal Designs. You can choose from anchors, triangles or POLKA DOTS of all different colors. I practically died. Mine are on on the way. 

My co-worker Kristen's other half went deer hunting in Ohio and returned with some Salt and Vinegar crickets. I ate one. They tasted like pistachios.

I'm on the hunt for a fantastic pots and pans set. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know. I'd LOVE copper, but we all know they cost an arm and a leg so I think that fantasy is totally out of reach at this present time. (Hello adult responsibility!)

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I played What Does The Fox Say for my preschoolers for the first time yesterday. They're obsessed. Totally obsessed. So at the end of the day we had a dance party with that song on repeat. Oh well, at least they're learning animal sounds. Like how a fish apparently goes 'blub.'
And on that note...I must dash. Preschoolers await. I'll continue my random ramblings tomorrow (I really mean it this time. I swear). But in the meantime, enjoy singing that utterly stupid song in your head. It'll stick and you'll find yourself  busting out "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!"in no time. 

Much love xo

11/07/2013

That time I played the air violins

I have my musically inclined/obsessed/brilliant husband to thank for this little gem. As I sat perusing Pinterest for monster craft ideas for my preschoolers, I sang (awfully) along with my Pandora Easy Listening channel. When along came Bittersweet Symphony. Only one of my ALL TIME favorite songs. 

"I love this song. It's a gem."  I blurted out as I played my air violins. 
"You love this, go to Youtube and type in Richard Ashcroft Live8. You'll worship me."  Carl taunted from the kitchen. 

And it was at that very moment my life was changed for the better.

How have I been living my life oblivious of this little rendition? Richard Ashcroft performing Bittersweet Symphony with my loves, my Coldplay?!?!

SHUT THE MOTHER-EFFIN FRONT DOOR!

...and you're so very welcome.  

Please, enjoy this musical brilliance for yourself. 

Now if you'll excuse me. I must get back to my air violins. 

11/03/2013

Marriage Isn't For Me

Tonight as I flopped into bed and perused the online wasteland that is Facebook, I stumbled upon an article circulating that a friend of mine had shared. An article titled Marriage Isn't For You, written by a married blogger named Seth.

In the post Seth talks about the revelation he had during a poignant conversation with his father before his wedding. A conversation that revolved around his readiness for, fear of and concerns about marriage. A conversation where his Dad perfectly highlighted how marriage is a commitment in which the main focus is not only on you, but the person you make that vow to. The one you grow, share and spend the rest of your life with. 

The words his father said were simple. To the point and poignant. 

"Marriage isn't for you. It's not about you. It's about the person you married."

Carl and I have been together 12 years now, married for just over 2. In those years we've undoubtedly been through our fair share of obstacles. Obstacles that range from fighting over whether or not to have onions in our tacos - to the painstakingly messy chaos that is uprooting of our lives to move across the world and be together. We've both made awful mistakes - many of them, in fact. We've yelled, swore, fought and cried. Acted like complete and utter assholes, been blissfully ignorant to the challenges in building a life together - said and done things we've grown to regret. But we've also overcome all of our trials and tribulations, Our fair share of rain storms. The pot holes in our long and windy road always find a way to be filled in and patched up. In our relationship as girlfriend and boyfriend, fiance(e), and husband and wife we've persevered. We've hoped and dreamed, laughed and lived, grown and matured.

Together. 

Carl and I have grown to realize that loving someone isn't always easy, it isn't always perfect. The truth is that there aren't butterflies that follow us, rose petals don't magically appear on our bed, and it's a true statement that the dynamics of any relationship inevitable changed the first time you see the other person puke or poop. 

Marriage is hard because love is hard.

Love affects you like no other emotion can. You must be willing to stumble through all of the shit and still put the happiness of another person just as high on the totem pole as you do your own joy. You must be willing to occasionally stuff your own wants and needs deep down into your pocket in order to make room for theirs. To dream and hope and fight for a fulfilling life that is shared, a life that is intertwined with not only the person you promised to love, but their family members and the family unit you two some day create together. It is a complicated, passionate, powerful, wonderful partnership. It's about the two of you coming together as one.

Marriage is special, because love is special. 

10/30/2013