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!