Thursday, September 30, 2010

Texas Caviar Dip

As promised on Sunday, I have a delicious dip recipe to share with you. But I can't take credit for it, at all! I found it on Megan's recipe blog: Sugar and Spice! I have made this dip twice and both times it's been a hit. It's so fresh and so simple. A great alternate to salsa!

Texas Caviar


2 Cans of black eyed peas with jalapenos
1 Can original Rotel
2 Medium sized avocados
1 Large green bell pepper
1/2 Large purple onion
1 Lime
3/4 Cup Zesty Italian


Dice avocados, bell pepper & onion and put in large bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over avocados, bell pepper & onion. The lime is to give flavor and preserve the avocado. Place black eyed peas in strainer and rinse then, add to add to bowl. Poor can of Rotel in the bowl with it's juice. Finally, add the Zesty Italian. Mix with a large spoon. Don't stir too hard or much as the avocados could get smushy depending on the ripeness you buy.

If you try to eat the dip right away, the bell pepper and onion will be quite crunch. It is best if the bowl sits in the fridge and everything marinates for a while.

I didn't have a green bell pepper this past week so I used a yellow one. I actually like the color it gave the dip.

It was so yummy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Goodbye Sandy Dog

Yesterday my family said goodbye to our 11 (almost 12) year old Lakeland Terrier, Sandy.

We got Sandy when I was in the ninth grade. And man, was she a cute puppy. She looked like a tiny teddy bears with big floppy ears. So cute. I wish I had a picture of her from this time on my computer just so you guys would all be jealous of how cute a puppy we had!

One of my favorite parts about Sandy was when we'd let her hair grow out. You could never see her eyes. It only added it her cuteness!

She always was quite the model. If you pulled out your camera and said a key word like "walk" or "dinner" you always got a good head tilt in pictures. This one of her and my mom and Layla is one of my all time favorites. Sandy is so posed and Layla looks so noble and royal sitting up tall.

She was very loved by our whole family....

[My little brother and sister with her]

Back in August my parents woke up one morning to her having a seizure. She had several more before they could take her to the vet. In the past few months, she just hasn't been the same dog. She's become violent, falls down often, and doesn't acknowledge people. Her entire personality is gone and the vet has told my parents it would only get worse. With her deteriorating health and more seizures, the vet and my parents decided it was time to let her go.

It's been a hard past few months with her being ill, and this past week has been the hardest. She was a wonderful dog for the 11+ years we've had her. It's amazing how pets really become a member of your family. She was so loved and she will be sorely missed.

[Me and Sandy, summer 2007]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu Monday & Pumpkin Cookies!

Another week of meals, plus I have a fabulous cookie recipe down below! We're out of town all next weekend for a wedding, so just 4 meals is all we need this week. None are new, these are all tried and true favorites!

My Meals:
J's Meals:

This week I was in charge of bringing snacks to community group at church. I knew right away what I wanted to make. I had seen this recipe on foodgawker a few weeks ago and saved it. I was happy to have a reason to make these...Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies!

Now, I'll admit I was nervous because there's been a lot of talk on many food blogs about how there is a major pumpkin shortage this year. With that being said, when I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients I needed for these cookies, I also brought along a list of back up ingredients for a different kind of cookie just in case there was no pumpkin in stock. Turns out I didn't need to do that. There was plenty of pumpkin...well until I got my hands on it! I left behind 2 cans on the shelf. I wanted to stock up! We have so many fall recipes that call for pumpkin, and I wanted to make sure we'd have enough. Does this look like enough?

Yeah....we're pretty well stocked in the pumpkin department!

Anywho...back to the cookies, these little guys were a piece of cake and so delicious. A big hit among the adults and kids at community group. I think they'd be delicious if I threw some walnuts in, but we have a family in the community group that has a child with severe nut allergies. Couldn't add them in this time!

Look at all that delicious pumpkin, just waiting to be transformed into cookies...


I like to add some extra chocolate chips and craisins (I used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries) to the top of each cookie, your finished product looks nicer if you do this.

And the finished product...and again, I must remind you that they are so perfect and wonderful for fall!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Crab Feast 2010

We spent our weekend eating these...

Some friends of ours have a nice balcony attached to their apartment and we went over yesterday afternoon/evening and enjoyed a bushel of crabs together. It was the most wonderful way to spend a breezy fall evening!

Good beer, good food, good company!

Also, let's take a moment to look at my pretty fingernails in the picture below. I never paint my fingernails, but for whatever reason I was feeling inspired Saturday afternoon. Bad idea. By the end of the night, every finger was chipping. Picking crabs is not helpful to painted fingernails.

It was such a fun way to spend the weekend! This was not our first time picking crabs. IN fact we try to do it regularly with these friends. I think we've done a crab picking every year since 2005 with the exception of 2009. Here's a post about our last crab feast back in 2008.

I made a delicious dip, recipe courtesy of Megan! I'll post more about that later this week. This dip is always a hit!

Hope your weekend was a good one!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I talk all the time on here about things I love and cannot live without. Things I want terribly. Things that put a big smile on my face.

We're going to look at things from a different angle today. I want to share some of my dislikes.

The first two are my least favorite things in the world. The rest come in no particular order.

  • Mushrooms. UGHHH! If you read my Menu Monday posts, you may have noticed I never cook with them. If they're ever in a recipe I choose, I omit them. I absolutely positively hate them. There are a lot of foods I dislike, but this is the only one that I will not eat. Once, we went to a dinner party at a friend's house. She told me ahead of time she was making lasagna. I was excited! I love lasagna! UNTIL I FOUND OUT IT WAS MUSHROOM LASAGNA! I was so embarrassed with my plate at the end of the meal. I had hardly touched the dish. If a dish even has cream of mushroom soup, I can't eat it. Not possible.
  • Worms. GAAAAAAAG.
  • Education Jargon
  • white wine
  • Watermelon...I want to like it, I really do. Every summer I try it again in hopes that this will be the summer I fall in love with watermelon. Still hasn't happened.
  • American Cheese. Another GAAAAG! In elementary school I used to tell kids I was allergic to it and I couldn't sit by them when they had it on their sandwich.
  • Writing sub plans...aka stabbing myself in the eyeballs
  • People who don't use turn signals
  • When people eat ketchup on spaghetti or pizza
  • Twilight (but I do love Alex Reads Twilight....LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!)
  • Not getting a pay raise for 2 years in a row, yet having extra items added to my plate. Silly budget cuts. I know my teacher friends can relate
  • People who chew with their mouth open....MY FRESHMEN YEAR ROOMMATE who used to bring lunch back to the room all the time. In hell, I imagine that everyone chews with their mouth open.
  • Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights
My list could go on and on, but I won't be that much of a downer. Sorry for the all the writing in cap locks, but I really needed you to see my anger. I hope it got my point across.

For those of you who like a happy ending, I'll end on this positive note: I love that tonight I ate risotto, drank red wine, and had a bowl of ice cream.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Over the weekend I attempted to put some clothes on ebay that just don't fit any more or I haven't worn in years.

In the picture taking process someone wanted to assist. I won't name any names, but I'll give you this photographic evidence of her help. You might be able to figure out who I'm referring to...

She really wanted to help.

I sincerely appreciated it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today I want to tell you about our favorite restaurant in our little city: Doumar's.

Doumar's is a drive in located in right outside of our downtown, and it's oh so yummy. We like to go for the minced barbecue with cole slaw, but I also love their homemade cherry cokes and their hot fudge sundaes.

And it's also fun to eat in the car!

Mr. Abe Doumar is also the inventor of the ice cream cone...or at least they claim he is!

If you come to visit, I promise to take you to Doumar's. It's hands down one of my favorite parts of our city!

**Also, go over to the book club blog...I may or may not have recorded a video announcing our next book choice!**

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Monday Funday

It's a crazy week in our home. We have big plans that involve a crab feast for next weekend, I have a meeting at school on Tuesday where they will be serving us dinner, and then school kickball game + free hotdogs and hamburgers (Parents vs Teachers...go teachers!) on Wednesday. This means just 4 meals in the W household. Not our usual 5. We're switching things up a bit this week. Hope no one is too disappointed!

My Meals:
J's Meals:
  • Stuffed Peppers
  • Gnocchi (from Trader Joe's!) and homemade pesto from our's the recipe for the pesto. PLUS our new favorite salad! (we made this meal last night, see photos below)
Salad: Mixed greens with white beans and artichokes, tossed with this homemade dressing.

And the Gnochhi, doesn't look so beautiful in the picture, but trust me, it was delicious!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Teaching - Year 4 Thoughts

I'm almost 2 weeks into my fourth year of teaching. Here's what I'm thinking and feeling right about now:
  • I sat in a useless in service all day while my kids had a sub.
  • Today I left my house at 8 AM and came home at 9PM.
  • I nervously talked to a classroom full of parents tonight at open house.
  • I've thought a lot about how much I love my class and how lucky I am this year. I looped from 4th to 5th with my kids this year and I feel so spoiled (looping = they moved from 4th to 5th with me). We fell right back into our old routine and they make me so happy. Are they perfect kids, no way. But I get them and we have good relationships and work well together. For the first time in my teaching career, I actually kind of feel like I "get it." I know, I know, I've probably jinxed my self now but saying it, but it just seems like this is the first year where I'm actually feeling like I kind of know what's going on and I'm not constantly worrying about whether or not they're learning or if I'm a big screw up. Is this what people call confidence in your own abilities?
  • I still want to go to bed at 8 PM most nights.
  • Layla is the BEST thing to come home to in the evenings. We typically spend about 30 minutes just cuddling when I get home after a day at work. J is great, but he's no Layla.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Movies

Two movies I'm hoping to see this fall...

Country Strong...I'm sure it won't be as good as Crazy Heart, but I love a good country music tale!:

The Romantics:

Any movies you're looking forward to this fall?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Monday

Another week has come and gone. Time for another week of meals!

Here's what we've got cooking...

My Meals:
  • PW's Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta...never made this Pioneer Woman dish before, but it sounds like a winner. It's also a good recipe to use up some of the basil we still have growing out in the garden.
  • White Bean Soup with J's homemade beer bread, by far the best bread on the planet. This meal should indicate to you how much I love the dropping temperature in Virginia!

J's Meals:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bleeding Purple and Gold this weekend

In case you haven't heard...

My Alma Mater, James Madison University...

Beat the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday in a giant football upset.

It was pretty momentous.

If you're not a Virginian, this might not mean much to you.

But if you are a Virginian, you'll know as well as I do that Tech fans tend to think they're the best and don't have much time for schools like JMU when it comes to football.

But on Saturday, the JMU Dukes, showed them that they were a team worth showing some respect.

We beat those Hokies, 21-16, at their own stadium.

I have never been so proud to be a Duke Dog!

We won the National Championship Title for the FCS my Junior year of college, and while that was amazing, this victory might feel a little bit sweeter.


I can't wait to proudly wear my purple and gold to school tomorrow!

(All but the second the photo were taken from and the JMU Dukes facebook page. I did not take these photos, I am just a devoted and happy fan and want to spread the JMU love!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Number Jumble

Lots to post about! A number jumble, if you will:

1. I am exhausted. Absolutely worn out. It's a good thing this is just a 4 day week. I don't know if I could go another day.

2.My dad shaved off his mustache this weekend. In my 26 years of life, he's always had facial hair. Not anymore. My little brother sent me a picture in a text and I still don't know what to think. It's weird.

3. I want to do nothing but be a lazy bum this weekend. Like I said in #1, I am so worn out. J will likely guilt me into going for a walk or two with him and Layla, but other than that I just want time on the sofa.

4. Tomorrow is jeans day...this means not only do I get to wear jeans, but I can also wear my flip flops. Hallelujah.

5. Over on the book club blog, we put up a poll on the sidebar for our next book choice. Check it out!

6. I might go to Target tomorrow after work just so I can get a popcorn and a fountain soda for $1.50

7. I also might stop to get a pedicure. My coral colored toes feel out of place in this lovely mid-70's weather. Time for a darker color!

8. Today, I wore my white jeans to work! I was hesitant about wearing them after Labor Day because of all the rules that surround white clothing. Erin posted about this over on Blue Eyed Bride last week and I was brave and and just went for it today. I wore them with a bold magenta top and brown flats. Turns out white jeans are just as cute in the fall as they are in the summer!

9. A few weeks ago I made a breakfast casserole and took pictures and everything so I could share it with y'all, but still haven't posted about it. I need to, because it was a darn good B-Fast Casserole. You're gonna want this recipe.

And I think that's all. Is that enough random for one day? I certainly think so.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My poor husband...

Things J cannot stand about me...

I don't like REAL maple syrup.

I say something that only kind of makes sense, and then he looks at me funny, corrects what I said and I then say "You knew what I meant"...drives him crazy

If someone call and leaves me a voice mail and I talk to them before I check it, I tend to not check the message they left. It just sits on the phone on the main screen.

I complain about picking a new cd on car trips.

My tendency to freak out in a stressful situation (I must admit, I've gotta better at this over the years).

When I turn the temperature below 72 degrees in my car. This one REALLY irritates him. He claims anything below 72 doesn't make a difference.

I call Layla ridiculously absurd names*.

I like trashy reality tv. In my defense, we don't have cable, so I really only watch it at the gym.

I can crack my ankle on demand. I tend to do this at night before I fall asleep.

After reading back through this list, it sounds like I have so major issues. What a weirdo.
Despite all of these things, he still loves me.
What a guy. I am a lucky girl!

*Gorilla Nose, Dorito, Google, Monkey Butt...just to name a few

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

1 down, 182 to go!

What a day.

The first day of school is a fun one, always filled with jitters and anxiety. I can happily report that no children got lost or injured under my watch today. Let's hope we can keep that up all year.

This morning before leaving the house I made J take a first day of school picture of me. This is for you mom! I was actually inspired to do this when Lianna posted about her first day of school a few weeks ago on her blog.

As far as first day of school fashion goes amongst the 5th grade girls, here's what I gathered is in...lace leggings, colorful and printed knee high socks, and lots of skinny jeans. I doubt I'll fit into their cool club this year. No lacy leggings on these legs.

Among the 5th grade boys, shaggy hair and shouting out all the time seems to be cool. We're gonna have to nip that last one in the bud.

One other thing I want to mention about back to school is how happy I am to be reuniting with my pillow. I sleep so well during the school year. SO WELL. If a marching band were playing in the room, I'd likely sleep through it. Seriously. In the summer I sleep alright, but not a solid deep sleep like I get after a day of teaching. This is probably my favorite part about the year starting up again!

Happy sleeping and teaching!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu Monday, back to school style!

We've had a nice holiday weekend in our home. We've relaxed, we've gone out to eat, we had a visit from J's parents, and we've taken some wonderful walks in this lovely weather with the dog. It's been a nice way to end the summer.

School starts tomorrow and while I'm half way excited to get back in a routine and see my kids, I'm also half sad to see my vacation officially come to an end. Summer 2010, you've been a good one!

Here is what's going on in our kitchen this week...

My Meals:

J's Meals:
  • Beef Kabobs served over couscous made with beef broth,and skewers of grilled bell peppers and onions. Lightly coat peppers and onions with EVOO and salt and pepper before grilling. We serve tzatziki sauce on the side for dipping.
  • PW's Red Pepper Risotto...this is a regular in the MM rotation!
  • Chacarero Sandwiches...this is a new recipe! I'm interested to see how it turns out!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Do YOU me?

In just 2 days, I will begin my 4th year of teaching. 4th YEAR! When did that happen?

Do I feel like I know what I'm doing now that I have a few years under my belt? No way.

Will things be easier this year? I highly doubt it. Each year brings its own challenges and problems.

Will I laugh at the crazy thing 10 year olds do? Of course. Will I cry a lot? Most definitely. Will I come home some days and insist that this is the hardest job on the planet? Oh yes. That will definitely happen. will be great. I will learn along with my kids. They will help me become a better teacher. I will challenge my students, but they will challenge me even more.

Two years ago, my principal showed us this video the week before school started. On days when I feel bogged down by my job (ie, when we multiply and divide fractions with uncommon denominators), this video reminds again why I do what I do. It inspires me and makes me thankful for the job I have. I get the chance to work with kids everyday like this little boy. How lucky am I?

Even if you don't teach, watch this, I promise that you'll be inspired.

I shared this two years ago when I first saw it, but it's just too good to not share again.

And...I hope everyone of my teacher friends has a fabulous school year!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

survival kit

Look what came to me at school this week...

A teacher care package from my parents!

It included the following items:

Some border strips

A library bag

A new teacher journal....perfect for staff meetings or anecdotal notes

Where would I be without chapstick?

A little motivation...I'm going to hide these in my desk for bad days

Hand Lotion

And an absolute necessity for those mornings when I spill coffee on my white blouse

Thank you Mom and Dad!

If only you could mail chocolate without it melting.
It's the only other survival tool I'm still missing!