3/29/2014

Lately

As I sat here watching The Pioneer Woman, listening to her talk about how she's a writer, photographer, blogger it dawned on me how absent I've been from my own blog. And how much I really miss writing regularly.

Time to get back on the wagon. Time to do things that make me happy - even if that means pushing some of the more 'grown up' habitual mumbo jumbo temporarily to the side. 

c'est la vie
You only live once.

Where to start?

Well, last Sunday I officially made the conscious decision to get off my ass and start running again. The Vermont winter months were frigid and harsh this year. In other words, this chick wasn't devoted enough to run in -20 degree weather with ungodly windchill's. So, I sat on my bum complaining about how much I hate running on the treadmill and binge watched series on Netflix like Long Island Medium and Storm Chasers. And in doing so I learned far more about meteorological terms than any normal person should, and gained 7lbs. But now that Spring has sprung and with it the long anticipated warmer weather, a new devotion and desire to run pushed me out onto our road. There are few things I love more than when you first start running in cool fresh air - the first few moments when you just start taking those big, full, deep breaths into your lungs. When you can feel the air moving through you - feel the crisp burn in your nose of melting snow, or pooling water or mud. I love that. I love that we're finally in the 40s and (soon enough) the 50s. My favorite temperatures to run. I think if there were a state which only cycled through Spring and Fall, I'd move there. Tomorrow.

This morning's run was in 43 degree weather with sunshine peaking through puffy dark grey clouds. There were sporadic puddles sprinkled on the road, and as I ran I watched tiny pebbles left over from the sanding of snow plows dance across the pavement. Mud is beginning to ripple in the ditches and I can see tiny fairy patches of grass through the fields of crunchy wet snow. I counted 4 cardinals, a hawk and dozens of robins. The air is fresh and full of promise. All the fabulous fixin's to make for a fantastic Saturday morning 4 mile run. And even though I'm now running at an 11 minute mile (I remember when I thought my 9:14 pace was slow) it felt so so good. To run. To focus on nothing but my breathing, the birds, the melting snow, and Shakira booming from Pandora on my headphones. Who could ask for a better beginning to the weekend?

In other fabulous news - last night I received a letter from the Department of Education stating that I am completely eligible for my licensure, and it will be mailed to me as soon as the results of my Criminal Record Check are complete. Tuesday I had my finger prints taken at the local sheriffs office, so it's only a matter of days before I open an envelope and cry with utter excitement and gratitude as I hold my VT teaching licensure in my hand. That giddy, tingly, wiggly feeling of excitement you feel when you first get good news has got to be one of the best feelings on the world. One of those feelings that helps you to trudge through the rough times just knowing that there has to be more exhilarating moments like that in the future. 

Hubby is in the process of sifting through colleges to decide which he'd like to attend to complete is Computer Science BA. I'm so unbelievably proud of him. He's so happy where he works - doing what he does. He's so committed to doing the very best he can, and so optimistic. It makes my heart happy to see him like this. To see him be successful. We talked this morning on his way into work about how our move back to the states really was the best thing for us. And even now, just over a year after doing it - we're beginning to see just how beneficial it was. The light at the end of our starting-all-over-again-tunnel is shining brightly. 

This afternoon I'm picking my grandmother and close family friend up on the way to Sheesters house for her very first Pampered Chef Party. It's so cute to think of how 'grown up' we are now, hosting kitchen utensil parties and talking about paint colors and how to best decorate the wall in her living room with photo frames. My baby sister has turned out to be quite the young lady.

There are so many more things I'm excited to ramble about, although I hear my hair straightener beeping angrily at me in the bathroom. I'm also now 10 minutes late meeting hubby. 

Ah well.
c'est la vie

Lots of love
xoxo

3/15/2014

The Cake Files: Yeeehawww! Ride em' cowgirl!

Sheriff Avery is turning 4, and the commemorate the special occasion, her Momma ordered a rootin-tootin cowgirl cake. Complete with Avery's very own sheriff's badge, cowgirl hat, rope and gum-paste horsey - just like her REAL one. 

Enjoy your special day, Avery! I'm so thankful I was lucky enough to make your cake again this year!

3/08/2014

Sweet Success

After what felt like an eternity (in reality it was more like 6 days. What can I say - I'm working on being more patient) I got the news I'd been wanting so badly to hear.

After taking my Praxis tests at the end of February, Sunday night I received an email notification saying that my test results were available for me to now view. I carefully entered my username and password on the ETS website, hovered my mouse over the underlined View Test Results hyperlink and drummed my fingers as I waited for the Adobe file to load. 

What met my eyes was exactly what I'd been hoping to see.
Big capital letters saying

PASSED

Of course, I cried and ran and hugged my husband. I called my parents vacationing in Florida. I called my sister and shared over Facebook with friends and family near and far. I jumped and screamed and thanked my lucky stars. I spent Sunday evening soaking up every single second of those happy butterfly tingles that fluttered in my tummy.

I did it! And, unlike in England, I did it on the very first go.

On Monday morning I mailed my formal Vermont Teaching Licensure application to the Department of Education, and within 8-12 weeks I'll receive my Elementary Early Years Teaching License. All of my hard work both here and across the pond has paid off. My teaching dreams are coming true. Life is  so good, and I am undeniably content as I relish this hard earned, long awaited sweet success. 

I am so unbelievably proud. So unbelievably thankful.

Great things are to come and I could not be more excited.

3/01/2014

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

Happy March, friends!
 Can you believe in a week it'll be daylights savings and in 19 days officially SPRING?! 

Boom-chicka-wow-wow!

Before we know it the time to smell daffodils and tulips, jump in puddles with paisley rain boots and sport flowy floral scarves will be upon us. 

But until then, cozy up to the fire, snuggle in oversized sweat shirts and eat more sticky toffee pudding.
Homemade, caramel-y, ooey-gooey, rich, decadent sticky toffee pudding like the one I made tonight.

Thank you, Martha Stewart. My English Mama-in-law would be proud. It turned out even more scrumptious than our favorite Cartmel sticky toffee puddings from our beloved Blackhouse Grill in Chester. A true butt-growing-calorific-success!




  • Sponge Cake INGREDIENTS

    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
    • 8 ounces pitted dates, finely chopped (I chose to leave these out as Carl and I are not date fans. In doing so I altered the amount of water to just 1/3 cup).
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    • DIRECTIONS
    1. STEP 1

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan; set aside.
    2. STEP 2

      In a small bowl, combine dates and 1/2 cup boiling water; set aside to soften, at least 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt to combine; set aside.
    3. STEP 3

      With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add date mixture, flour mixture, and vanilla; mix just until moistened.
    4. STEP 4

      Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare toffee sauce.
    5. STEP 5

      Remove cake from oven; cool in pan 5 minutes. To ensure it will come out easily later, carefully invert hot cake then return it, right side up, to pan. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over cake. Pour about 1 cup warm sauce over cake; let absorb at least 20 minutes.
       
      Toffee Sauce INGREDIENTS
      • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks)
      • 1 cup heavy cream
      • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt

      DIRECTIONS

      1. STEP 1

        In a medium saucepan, combine butter, heavy cream, light-brown sugar, and salt. Heat over low, stirring, until sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Simmer mixture over medium heat until reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 8 to 12 minutes. If desired, reheat sauce over low before serving.