Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer 2009 Roadtrip!

I've mentioned it before, but I haven't gone into much detail about our summer road trip. On July 25, J and I will head out on an epic two week road trip for some quality visits with friends and family, some relaxation, and for (of course) some adventure. The plan is to drop the dear dog off at my parents' place (thanks mom!) and head out from there!


Places we are definitely stopping along the way:
  • B&B in Hadley, NY* (Adirondacks) for our anniversary
  • J's family's lake house on Lake Champlain in Westport, NY
  • Clifton Springs, NY to visit a cousin of J's, his wife, and their new baby
  • Niagra Falls*
  • Waupaca,WI to visit J's grandfather
  • Milwaukee, WI to visit a friend of J's from high school (and to hopefully drink some delicious beer)
  • Chicago, IL to see a friend of mine from high school(maybe a baseball game?)
  • Indianapolis, IN* to visit one last friend of mine
Some places we're possibly visiting, but haven't finalized any details:
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • NYC
  • Toronto*
  • Northern Michigan* (most likely staying a night somewhere in this area)
  • Kentucky/Ohio/West Virginia (again, looking for a place to stay overnight between Indy and coming back to Virginia)
* indicates places that neither J or I have been to visit.

So my loyal and wonderful readers, here's my job for you: please share any ideas for places we should visit, see, dine, or just plain drive through on our big summer adventure!

If you know nothing about this region of the country, no worries! Feel free to just share some of your favorite roadtrip ideas, snacks, music, etc.

We're going to be on the road for about two weeks, and we'd love to have some ideas of "must sees" along the way. If you know of a great town to visit or stay in, in Northern Michigan, please comment! The stretch between Niagra Falls and Wisconsin is going to be a long one, so we're looking for something in between to break it up a little, and we are not familiar with the area at all.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mutt Monday

I recently started reading Jordan's blog over at Two Dogs, A Girl, and a Husband's Grace, and love her weekly Mutt Monday. I'd been meaning to share for the past few Mondays, but never got around to it. Not today, though!


Last weekend when we were out of town, poor Layla had to go to the dreaded kennel for a night. It was, as always, a traumatic event for her. When we picked her up, she was a mess and exhausted. So exhausted that she ran smack into the glass door when they brought her out to us. I know it's a great kennel, but I also have learned she doesn't like being away from her "people". When we got home she was so happy to be back. I took this picture of her wearing the bandanna they sent her home in (which J absolutely hates), and I love that she looks like she's smiling here. Because, yes, dogs do smile.

If you've got a puppy and you're interested, visit Jordan's blog and play along!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

And the winners are...

Thanks to all who commented; I loved hearing about some of your favorite items in the kitchen!

Kitchen Tools Winners:


Winner #1, Pastry Scraper and Wooden Pan Spatuala: Jennifer "My favorite kitchen tool is my new ice cream cone cupcake holder. It's amazing! You bake them in this pan that looks like ice cream cones and holds them into place. Love it! And they taste sooo good!"

Winner #2, Silicone Tongs: Kristy "My favorite kitchen tool is probably my whisk! I love it, for some reason. And my favorite small appliance is my food processor. Homemade salsa is the best!!"

Congrats girls! Send me an email (innosimplelanguage(at)gmail(dot)com) with your address so I can put your gift in the mail. Thanks again to all who played!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

another Etsy purchase

Like many of you, I am also a long time lover of Etsy. I've purchased many an items from this lovely market place, either as treats for myself, or as gifts for friends and family; last night I added another item to my list.

One of J's cousin just had a baby girl about a week ago, and this is what we're sending her:

Is that not adorable? I can't wait to put it in the mail to her! It's from the shop HipViolet. She's got some really adorable baby stuff!

What are some of your favorite Etsy items?

Friday, June 26, 2009

a summer week in the life of a teacher

With all of my kitchen posting, I've done very little posting on what's been going during my first week of summer vacation. Let's back track to last Friday...
  • J and I had a 6 hour road trip to Maryland for our friends' wedding. I ate more ginger snaps than I probably should have.


  • Went to the wedding. It was beautiful. The bride's mother is from Brazil, so they did a lot of neat stuff to tie in her heritage to the wedding and the reception. I had fun taking pictures of all the pretty scenery. Here are 3 of my favorites plus one of J and myself that a friend took...please excuse the fact that it's insanely washed out. I hate handing my camera over to other people.



  • Got a flat tire on Sunday night in J's car on our way to a friend's soccer game.
  • Made some a delicious dessert, courtesy of this great recipe: oreo delight.
  • Went to the dentist. I hate the dentist, for those who don't know; I was a brave girl and came out alive with no cavities or any other oral problems. This is a big deal with my dental history.
  • Went to a local baseball game. Our city has a AAA team that is the Baltimore Oriole's farm team, and Tuesday night was turn back the clock night...which only means one thing: 25 cent hotdogs, popcorn, and sodas. I may or may not have eaten 3 hotdogs. Don't judge.

  • Got a little bit of a sunburn from laying out with some friends yesterday. Oops! Still had fun spending time with friends, though.
  • Did a ton of laundry and folded all 50 of J's white undershirts. How one person can own and need that many shirts, I really don't think I'll ever understand. Look at the giant pile of white that I had the glorious task of folding below...

And that pretty much sums up my first week of summer vacation. Talk about exciting! Tonight's plans include (but are not limited to) some True Blood, some of this for dinner, and possibly a walk if I can get over the heat.

Don't forget to comment by tomorrow night to enter my kitchen tool giveaway! CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kitchen Tools: Part Three

Day 3 of my favorite kitchen tools...let's get started!

This is the cheapest, most basic tool in my kitchen. My wooden pan spatula was in a bouquet of wooden tools that a friend gave me at a bridal shower. All of the women at the shower raved over this tool and said it would become my favorite item to cook with. They were right! This little guy is the BEST when you're making a sauce or sauteing veggies. I love the straight edge on the end, as it does a great job getting those little "bits" off the bottom of the pan. It's far better than a wooden spoon and works better than plastic or metal spatulas.

My mom bought me these tongs about a year ago at William Sonoma (are you sensing a pattern with my love for WS?). Prior to these I had a pair of metal tongs, but cringed when I used them in my pans. These silicone tongs won't scratch my cookware and they are heat resistant. For $15, these are well worth your money. We have an apartment with no backyard, so any grilling we do, is done inside with our castiron grill pan. I use the tongs to turn the meat, and they never puncture the meat. They're also great if you're ever frying anything. I'm telling you...if you get these, you will find that you're using them almost every other night!

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Alright, now that I've shared 6 of my favorite kitchen tools with you, I'm ready to give 3 away to you all! One lucky winner will win the silicone tongs I raved about, and another winner will get the pastry scraper AND the wooden pan spatula. Here's how you can win!

One Entry: Leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite kitchen tool from your own kitchen.
Two Entries: Leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite kitchen tool from your own kitchen AND become a follower or let me know that you're already following me.

Contest will end Saturday, June 27 at midnight EST, and I will announce the winners sometime on Sunday, June 28. GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kitchen Tools: Part Two

Thanks for all of your comments on yesterday's post. A lot of you mentioned that you have an apron but never wear it...you're really missing out!

Now on to today's favorites:


We use a LOT of garlic in our cooking. And by a lot, I mean that we go through a knot of garlic each week. It's almost always on my Sunday grocery list. The garlic press is one of my favorite kitchen tools because it eliminates the smelly odor I get on my hands when I chop up garlic with a knife. It's also easier than chopping by hand. While I love the garlic press, J hates it. He never uses it. He says it's a pain to clean and it's just as easy to use a knife. I disagree with both of those statements, but to each his own! Do you have one? Do you love it or hate it?


These were a shower gift from an old friend of mine, and I can't tell you how much I love having these in the kitchen with me. My prep bowls come out very often in the cooking/baking process. I like to pre-chop and pre-measure my ingredients, so these do a great job. We love to eat Mexican food (fajitas, tacos, burritos...if it has cilantro, I'll eat it!), and I love to put the toppings in the bowls for our serving line. They're the perfect size and so easy to store. I also have these little orange prep bowls that I bought at a flea market back in February; they're wonderful too! And they only cost four dollars. Prep bowls are cheap and can easily be found for your kitchen if you don't already have them.

Hope you enjoyed today's post with two more of my favorites! If you haven't already read it, go back and read yesterday's post with my first two favorites. Make sure you stop by tomorrow for my giveaway and two more favorites. I know I originally said my top five, but it's going to have to be top six! I couldn't leave one out!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kitchen Tools: Part One

Since last July when J and I got married, I have come to love my time in the kitchen. Before marriage, I cooked, but cooking for me was spaghetti with sauce from a jar. Occasionally I'd make homemade mac-n-cheese, but that's about as fancy as I got. I do have many issues with my kitchen; however, I do love cooking. It has become one of my favorite past times, and trying a new recipe doesn't scare me the way it used to do. You don't need a nice kitchen to be a great cook!

In the kitchen, I have some great appliances and pots and pans, but I swear by my tools! Over the next three days, I'm going to share my top five kitchen accessories with you all, and there just might be a little giveaway on day three!


I've mentioned my apron before, and I have to say it again, I love it. I love this particular apron because your can easily adjust the neck to fit you best. And as silly as it sounds, I swear that when I put my apron on, I have more confidence in my cooking abilities. It's like a super hero cape!


If you don't have one of these...you MUST go out and get one. This little tool saves me from many messes and it's easy to clean and use. When ever I do any chopping (which is often), I've always got this out beside me. It's the easiest way to transfer anything from your cutting board to your pan.

Stay tuned to tomorrow for part two!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day


Today we celebrate Father's Day, and yesterday we got to say happy birthday to my dad. A wonderful weekend for him! Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you lots and hope your special weekend has been a great one!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

food on the road

Tomorrow, we're heading to Maryland for wedding number four of the year. It's going to be a 5+ hour drive. To prepare for the long drive I've been making some meals/snacks to take along with us in our cooler. J and I have been saying that we want to eat healthier (and save money) on road trips. It's easy to snack on junk and spend extra money when you're on the road, and this summer we're taking a 2 and a half week road trip and we want to be prepared. With that trip just around the corner in July, we decided to practice with tomorrow's mini trip!

Last night I made this DELICIOUS chili lime steak salad. So yummy, and while it took awhile to make, it was very easy. It would be hard to mess this meal up.
The salad was huge, so we've put two servings in tupperware and we're taking it for our lunch on the road. In addition this, we're also bringing grapes, ginger snaps (I have an unhealthy obsession with these), and I've just made pita chips to go with hummus.


Chances are, we're going to have way more food than we need, but I'm still happy to know we won't be stopping for fast food along the way.

goodbye students, hello summer!

School is D-O-N-E! Now for 2 full months of summer fun! Our last day was a fun one. My kids made me a scrapbook (with the help of my fabulous room mother), and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. While I am very excited for summer, come August, I will miss it and be ready to be back in the classroom again!


The scrapbook has a page for each kid with a picture and a little note. Some are hysterical....like this little poem that one student wrote about me:

Mrs. W, your eyes glow in the overhead.
Your hands are useful for most everything.
Mrs. W

And to clear up any confusion, by overhead, she means the overhead projector. As in the funny machine I use to project my writing. Apparently, it makes my eyes glow. This same student also wrote a note that said...

Mrs. W, you are the best. Some people like C don't like you, but everybody else likes you. I wish you could be my teacher next year, but you can't. I hope you will be here next year (I will!)

Really?! I can't make this stuff up. But I made sure my kids knew how much I'd miss them next year. They were a great group and unique in many ways (cough cough wet cat girl cough cough)!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We're down to 2 days of school. And not just 2 days, 2 half days! Summer...I can feel you in the air and I'm loving it. This week we've done nothing but pack up my room (I have to move to another hall next school year), play games, do word searches, compete in rock paper scissors tournaments...in other words, we're accomplishing a lot this last week of school.

Sweet, sweet summer. I can't wait to play on Thursday!

(I took this photo back in June 2005. As I was going through old photos the other night, I sighed a little when I saw this. It's my perfect idea of a summer night!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

coffee table confessions

When we got married last July, we decided that it would make the most sense for me to move into J's place. My apartment was too small, and his had two bedrooms and a much bigger living room. At the time I moved in, there was no resemblance to anything "matching" in this apartment. Since last July, we've come a long way!

We bought the couches back in October, and the rug was a Christmas gift from my parents. The ugly recliner is really the only thing of J's that we held onto since it's Layla's chair. We don't let her get on the couches or the bed, but she loves to cuddle in the recliner with us. Even if she is a sixty pound lap dog. I'd love to part with the recliner (as it old and gross and partially broken), but I could never do that to Layla.

After buying the couches, I've been on a hunt for the perfect coffee table. I wanted a chest or trunk, and I started my search on craigslist. I found a few good things, but the problem I always ran into was either the price was too high for me, or the trunk was in horrible condition on the inside. I wanted something that had storage in it for blankets and other things. We did some searching through antique stores in our area, but the problem was the same. Everything seemed to be rotting on the inside. And there was even a time or two where we'd find the perfect trunk, but it would be a horrible color or the top would be rounded. Not ideal for a coffee table.

But, have no fear, my readers. I finally found the perfect coffee table for our home. This past Wednesday after school, I had a horrible headache, and I only wanted to go home home after leaving work; however, I'd been having some car problems, so I had to stop by a place to get my battery checked. While on my way, I passed a TJ Maxx Home Goods store. A few of my coworkers had raved to me about this place, and although I had a headache, I thought I'd stop in and see if this would cure my bad day. After finding a new Ralph Lauren bathing suit (major score!), I headed to the home goods side of the store. It was unlike any other TJ Maxx I'd ever been in. The home goods department was huge. It was more than half of the store. I wanted to buy everything, but I was good and just browsed.

And for the record, my headache had already dissolved by this point. Nothing like some good shopping.

In the back corner I found an aisle of old looking trunks, and after one glance at the price tag, I was sold. It was exactly what I'd been looking for, at the price I wanted to pay, AND the inside was (obviously) in perfect condition. And even better, J loves it, too. I was a little hesitant at first, thinking he might not like it, but we've both agreed that it's what we we had in mind all along.


So, there it is. It is already the new home for several blankets, and it seems to fit in quite well! I still come home and am excited to see it in our living room!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

too hot for a black dog


This morning, we attempted a little outing to the beach. We weren't too successful, though, as the sand and the sun were a little too hot for our little black dog. She wasn't really digging it. So much, that she made a beeline for the shaded spot under the walkway to the ocean front. She's a little bit of a wuss. But we love her anyway. Needless to say, we didn't last long, but long enough for me to wear my new suit in the sun for a little bit. And least I got the chance to look cute in my beach chair for about 15 minutes before we called it quits.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

and then there were...

Only 6 more days between me and my summer vacation. I can hardly stand it. Two full months away from work. All while getting a paycheck in the mail every other week. Ahhh...the joys of being a teacher!

Photo Credit

I have more I'd love to post about tonight, but my head is aching and I could really use some hot tea. It'll have to wait 'til tomorrow!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'd like another honeymoon, please.

First things first, my feet were in dire need of some TLC, so last Thursday I went with my co-teacher to get a pretty pedicure for this past weekend's festivities. And no, that's not dirt by my left toe. Just a freckle.


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Moving on to the wedding recap!

The wedding weekend was, in one word, lovely. Our friends are so in love, and it was so fun celebrating with them this weekend. J was a wonderful best man, and he looked pretty sharp, too! The rehearsal on Friday night was short and sweet. I took a photo or two, but mainly tried to finish up on my latest read. Trying to get it finished before it's due back at the library this week.

J and me at the Rehearsal Dinner.

And then there was the big day! H was a beautiful bride in her heirloom gown. Absolutely gorgeous. The reception was held in her families gorgeous backyard. It was very Father of the Bride. Beautiful old home, big backyard, tents, lights. No frozen ice sculptures, though. Could not have prettier! Oh, and did I mention the Governor of Virginia was there? We shook hands chatted in the buffet line. Just a little name dropping! Below are my wedding pictures...take note of that beautiful dress.

It was a fabulous weekend, and I must admit that I'm a little jealous that our friends are off in Key West for the week. I've probably told J ten times in the past 24 hours how I wish we were off on our honeymoon again. I could so use another week away, just the two of us! In the meantime, we'll get through my last nine days of school and look forward to our summer vacation coming up in July/August. That'll do for now!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

wedding season is upon us

Tonight, two of our best friends are getting married...


J is the best man and he's been busy all day doing best man things...whatever that entails. It's going to be a fun night! These two have been together for seven years. We couldn't be happier for them!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Barbecue Recipe

After many requests from my last post, here's my crock pot barbecue recipe! Apparently you girls are in desperate need for some good barbecue recipes! I didn't take any pictures of the finished product, so you'll have to imagine how yummy it looked (and smelled)! My recipe originally came from here, but I made a few changes. Below is my adjusted recipe that I went with...

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Directions

  1. In the slow cooker, combine pork, onion, garlic, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, pepper, ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; mix well, and cover. Cook on Low, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender. I put mine in the crock pot at 7 AM and served it around 6PM, so it cooked for about 11 hours.
  2. OR : In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, combine pork, onion, garlic, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, pepper, ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until pork is tender.
  3. Serve over buns with cole slaw and delicious sides!
Hopefully, some of you will get to enjoy this as much as J and I did. It really was yummy. And I think it's safe to say the leftovers we've been taking for lunch have been ever yummier!

Several commenters also requested my sweet potato fry recipe. I could live off of sweet potato fries. Seriously, they're one my favorite sides with dinner. Heck, I'd eat just them for dinner! Next time I make them, I'll take some pictures and do a step by step post! In the meantime, pick up the Trader Joes frozen sweet potato fries. They are pretty good. Not as good as the real deal, but an excellent substitute for lazy nights when I have no energy. Top them with a little chili powder, and then enjoy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I survived

I survived the field trip. Even the dreadful double decker bus filled with 71 children. I made it.

It was a hot and sunny day, the kids were parched, and the bugs were gross, but the tour was fabulous! It was neat watching my kids become so excited to tell our tour guide all they already knew about Jamestown. They've been paying closer attention these past few months than I had thought. Well, except for one student who told the tour guide that Pocahontas married John Wayne. The tour guide got a good laugh out of it, though.

I was able to take some great photos today, but can't share most since the kids are in them; however, later tonight I'm planning on making a powerpoint for the kids to watch tomorrow.



After the field trip, I came home to the barbecue I had left in my crock pot this morning. Holy moly, it smelled good in here. And our dinner of barbecue sandwiches with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob was sort of what I imagine meals in heaven will be like. Totally scrumptious!

Monday, June 1, 2009

hello june

I need to begin by saying, book club was wonderful! I am so glad I went and it caused me to love the book even more. The discussion was great, and all the other ladies were so kind. And the food was good too. Good food is the way to my heart!

Here is your promised recipe from yesterday!

This is a corn and bean salsa, courtesy of a friend of my mom's. She made it last week at a memorial day cookout, and I begged her for the recipe! It's so yummy and easy to make!

Apple Cider Salsa

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of white shoepeg corn, drained
1 big handful of chopped scallions
1.5 tbsp of vegetable oil
3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of feta
pinch of garlic powder (optional...I love garlic)

Mix all ingredients except the feta in bowl. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. Right before serving, mix in the feta and serve with corn chips ( I prefer the blue kind). Enjoy!

If you make it, comment back here and let me know your thoughts!

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Tomorrow we're going on a field trip to Jamestown. Lord help me. It's supposed to be 92 and we can't bring water bottles on the tour. It's going to be a looooong day. Here's hoping I don't puke on the DOUBLE DECKER bus we will be taking on our hour and half drive.

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And one last thing...one of my good friends from college, Sarah, just started a blog. Go visit and leave her a warm welcome! Go West, Young Lady!