Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! Not dressing up, but we are ready with pumpkins and candy! We've spent the day carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds. In my eyes, it's the perfect way to spend a fall afternoon!



J carved an Andriod pumpkin...he is such a geek, which is half the reason I love him.



Pumpkin Seeds Pre-Roasting!



And my photo session with Layla and the freshly carved pumpkins...



The final products...an Android, a classic Jack-o-Lattern, and a puppy pumpkin!


Now we're just munching on my roasted pumpkin seeds and waiting for the trick or treaters. This is the first time we have spent Halloween in our house and not in an apartment. I am really hoping we get some cute kids in costumes. If not, I'll have a lot of candy to eat!


Oh, and just for fun, let's share the link to last year's Halloween post for a trip down Halloween Memory Road...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Big Week

It's been a big week in my life. Lots of changes. Lots of really wonderful changes. Let's sum it up with this awkward photo and a list, shall we?


1. New hair. I saw my stylist yesterday and decided to go dark. We left a little light on top around my face, but went with my natural color everywhere else. I am still getting used to it, but I really think I like it. I had a bunch of people point out how blue it makes my eyes look today. Thoughts? All I know is I'm loving the feeling of something new and different. A long session with the stylist just makes you feel so much better, am I wrong?

2. NEW PHONE! I know, I know. It's just a phone. But I've been waiting for my upgrade for months and I finally have a real grown up phone. I got the Droid Incredible and I'm quite pleased. There's no way my computer programming husband would have let me get anything but Droid (he has made a few apps for their market and is a big fan). I am loving it. Any great Droid apps you think I MUST have?

3. And another big moment of the week but not so great...see that bandaid on my finger? The one I am awkwardly displaying in this photo? Yeah, I almost chopped my hand off cutting bread the other day. Thanks goodness my husband came to the rescue and so I wouldn't bleed to death. It was pretty bad.

4. If you follow me on twitter, you already knew all this. Sorry for the repeats. Stupid twitter, always stealing my blog post ideas.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

milk glass & a pumpkin

A few weekends ago I did some thrifting at some of my favorite local thrift shops and I found a new milk glass bowl with the prettiest scalloped edges. I am in love.


And with a pumpkin in it? My heart pitter patters. J of course complains that we have another dish with no place to store it, but I don't care. I will continue to buy pretty vintage dishes and swoon over them when I bring them into my house, regardless of our cabinet space!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Monday + pumpkin heaven

What we're cooking this week....

My Meals (I was craving avocados while meal planning today...can you tell?):

J's Meals:
AND....just a little heads up for all you pumpkin lovers out there. Go buy this yummy treat:


So fall and so tasty. And best of all, it's lighter than most regular ice creams. Thanks to Amanda from Two Boos Who Eat for suggesting this one!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Waiting for Superman

Yesterday J and I went to see Waiting for Superman...



Going into this movie I was prepared for a lot of mixed emotions. As a fourth year public school teacher, I know far too well that our system is flawed, but I don't think all the blame should be put on teachers*. I was afraid this would be what the movie focused on. I can gladly report that it didn't.

*But trust me....I definitely believe there are bad teachers out there. In fact, we can say I know there are bad teachers in our schools. My first year I witnessed many teachers who had a job only because of tenure.


This documentary spells out the problems our schools are facing in a way that doesn't blame just one person or one group. It shows that there are GREAT teachers out there doing the best job they can and making an impact on children, but it also showed that there are teachers out there who are doing nothing to serve the children in their classrooms. Teachers who tell children that they will earn a paycheck regardless or not that child learns. It discusses how politicians are holding schools back on the national, state and local level. And it went into great detail about the way teacher unions are stopping schools from becoming great. There was only one other factor that I think comes into play that was not addressed**.

If you want to know more about the problems facing our schools, or if you want to see real children whose education system is failing them, or if you just want to see a well made documentary, go see this. It will be worth every penny you pay. I think every American, with or without children, would benefit from going to see this.

**I don't feel comfortable posting that on my public blog...if you're curious email me or direct message me on twitter...I have lots to say on the issue!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The photo says it all...

My week has been rather poor.

I have had long nights at school. I've been challenged in ways I don't like. My allergies are still going crazy. I've eaten way too much chocolate due to frustration and stress. And today I burned my finger on a pan.

It's just been a crappy week.

But when I come home and this crazy animal sits in my lap and begs me for my attention when all I want to do is check facebook for the latest pregnancy and engagement announcements from friends, I can't help but feel better.


When all she wants is cuddling and to lick my laptop (?), I just can't complain. Well, maybe I'll complain about the licking the computer thing, but I am always on board for cuddling!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

breakfast of champions

This would be my favorite way to start the day...

[toasted everything bagel, veggie cream cheese, and a small glass of OJ]

I will admit, I've recently become a new fan of almond milk with my morning cereal, but nothing beats a bagel for breakfast. Unless we're talking about a bagel plus cinnamon buns. Or a bagel, cinnamon buns, and monkey bread. OR a bagel, cinnamon buns, monkey bread, and a few pieces of bacon!

What's your breakfast of choice?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Monday + thanks for the cardigan compliments!

First of all, thanks for the compliments on my cardigan in yesterday's post. It's from Target, last fall. Nothing special or fancy!

Second of all, here's what's on the line up for this week's meal plan...

My Meals:
J's Meals:
And now for the recipe promised above. A coworker made this and shared it at lunch last week. It is a fabulous fall soup. And can we also take a second to acknowledge that I work with the best team? We love to cook lunch for one another. How wonderful is that?

Butternut Squash Soup from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:
1 tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
4 cups of butternut squash puree
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sautee until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the butternut squash puree and broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve immediately. Serves 6

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend Update

For those of you reading my blog who aren't Virginians, let's start by saying, you're missing out. I must admit, Virginia does seasons really well. We have the nicest springs and autumns! This weekend was all around gorgeous and I am glad I got to enjoy it with my husband.

On Saturday we did the following...
  • Did some thrifting and found a few things (Lately, I have been so inspired by Babbling Abby's What I Wore Wednesday posts)
  • Browsed cell phones at Verizon (Cannot wait for my new phone next month, I get to join the rest of my generation in owning a smart phone)
  • Furminated the ol' Layla Dog....it's amazing how much I brush off of her. Our yard looks like we skinned a family of squirrels in it.
  • Made this meal, as I mentioned last week on Menu Monday. HOLY MOLY FOLKS. This was one incredible dinner. I had high expectations and it surpassed them.
  • Watched Date Night. A little silly at times, but my love for Tina Fey runs deep.
And then today, we celebrated the gorgeous weather by spending the afternoon with friends at the Virginia Wine Festival downtown.


Good wine was enjoyed by all, and the people watching at a wine festival proves to be a fun event as well. I've never seen such odd shirts on fully grown women...

"Wine Slut" and "1.5 bottles till I'm undressed" were just a few of the ones that caught my eye. Just keeping it klassy, I suppose.

And now it's Sunday evening and another week starts tomorrow. How did that happen?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

M.W.

So you know how when you're a kid and adults and teachers don't have first names? They're just "Mrs. So and So"...

Well, one of my sweetest students made me these plastic initials:


Yes, my initials are M.W. So much for my first name. It's just Mrs! Mrs W.

Is this not the sweetest most thoughtful gift? I keep it on my window sill in my classroom and it always makes me chuckle and reminds me why I love my job on the worst of days.

(Also, love the old school plastic bead things you make and melt with an iron. Anyone else love these as a child? I had no idea they were still a thing.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Italy recreation recipe

So during last week's Menu Monday post, I mentioned I was going to make Gorgonzola Pear Risotto. When we were on our trip this summer, we ate at a restaurant one night in Genoa, Italy that is known for their risotto. I was, naturally, in heaven. Over the past year, risotto has quickly raced up the charts on its way to being my favorite food. It's like an adult version of mac and cheese. So creamy and delicious, but a little more grown up. Plus, people who don't cook are mad impressed when you tell them you made risotto for dinner last night. Its' really a piece of cake, but for some reason it impresses people. At our Italian risotto heaven restaurant, I ordered gorgonzola and pear risotto...


And it was fan-freakin-tastic! The combo of the sweet pears and the bold Gorgonzola was perfect! I remember to saying to J at the restaurant that night, "I'm gonna recreate this meal!", And here we are 3 months later and I've done it.

Here's what ya need...

(PS: can you tell I have a Trader Joe's problem?)

Y'all...this is good. Really, really good. It's cheesy and wonderful and everything a risotto dish should be!

Here's the finished dish...I admit, the photo doesn't look appetizing, it looks quite blah, but trust me on this one, it's so, so tasty!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Monday

Last week's meals = a-m-a-z-i-n-g

It's gonna be hard to top last week's fabulous dishes. In fact, come back tomorrow and I'm posting the Gorgonzola and Pear Risotto Recipe I created, it was, in one word, heavenly.

This week we have a few new dishes we're anxious to try out and a few old favorites. Here we go...

My Meals:

J's Meals:
  • Homemade Spaghetti Sauce served over pasta (recipe from family friend) and homemade flat bread (thanks to my Mother in Law for sharing this bread recipe with us, it's a definite dinner favorite!)
  • PW's Corn Chowder with Chilies + biscuits (were planning to add crab into the chowder)
  • Beef with Broccoli served over brown rice (except I don't like broccoli so we're using snap peas instead)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

pumpkins and PETA park

I took a bit of a blogging break last week. It was not intentional, but just what I needed. The pile of papers I've had to grade has gotten out of control and time with my husband and the pup seemed more valuable than blogging. Sometimes it's nice to step away for a day or two and not worry about posting and page hits. My grading pile has greatly decreased and I've had a fun few days with my husband and the old Layla.

Saturday we took Layla to the PETA dog park (our city houses PETA's national headquarters...I'm not a PETA supporter, but their dog park is fantastic!). I left the camera in the car while we watched Layla play, but I did get this sweet picture of her in the car. It cracks me up the way she rides in the car once she figures out where she's going. She is going nuts once she realizes she gets to go play.


After the dog park, we walked down the street to a church on our block that is selling pumpkins. Much more convenient then going to a pumpkin patch, but better than a grocery store pumpkin. Layla of course is a tiny bit afraid of the pumpkins, but she eventually decided that they were safe and helped in choosing some family pumpkins.


Is that enough pumpkin photos for one post? Just one more! Our front porch is now well decorated for fall...now we just need to pick an afternoon to carve and roast pumpkin seeds.


Hope your weekend was full of fall fun like ours was!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another Wedding Weekend

We spent this past weekend at the wedding of two of my friends from college.

Claire and I met freshmen year at JMU, she was my suite mate. She is different from me in so many ways. She is put together and neat and organized, and then there's me. Messy, unorganized, never knows where anything is, Rachel. It still makes me laugh that we were able to form a friendship.

Sophomore year we were roommates. And again, such opposites. I have no idea how she lived with me. Probably just because I let her borrow my hair straightener.


During sophomore year we had 4 good guy friends living across the hall from us. Here we are, 7 years after the start of our sophomore year, and she and one of those "boys" are now married. Life is funny.


J and I had a great time. I danced and danced and wore heels that hurt my feet. Definitely one of the most fun weddings I've attended.


The groom's dad bottles and produces his own wine...I never knew this! Either way, it made for neat favors! Each table had a variety of bottles and you got to take one.


Look at this happy bride...she was glowing


So happy for the two of them! They've come a long way since sophomore year!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Monday + some meal planning answers

First things first...I have had several comments on my most recent menu monday posts asking why J and I eat separately. I think I mentioned this months ago, but I can see how it might seem crazy if you're a new reader. We eat together every night...we just share the cooking!

I married a man who loves cooking as much as I do and we alternate and switch off cooking. When we make our meal plans, he always picks 2 meals, I pick 2, and then one of us takes the 5th meal. This is what typically happens. We of course have our off weeks where we only plan 4 meals or even 3, but we typically do 5 meals a week. The other night of the week we eat leftovers or go out. This system works well for us. I have more meal planning tips listed here.

And now onto this week's meals...lots of new things on the menu. I'm a little nervous to try new things, but I also love finding a new dish that we both love.

My Meals:
  • Gorgonzola and Pear Risotto...recipe coming later this week! This is my own recipe, don't want to post it until I know exactly how it's gonna turn out.
  • Paula Dean's Grilled Southern Panzanella Salad with London Broil. I watched The Food Network while working out tonight and this salad by Paula Dean looks so delicious, and not really all that bad for you. Rare for Paula Dean! I am subbing plain yogurt for mayo in the dressing of the salad. Trying to make it a little more healthy!
  • Chorizo and Black Bean Soup...this is a definite favorite from last fall! It is SO tasty and simple. I highly recommend this if you're a soup fan!
J's Meals:

Friday, October 1, 2010

welcome october

It is October...


And October means hanging pumpkin and bat pictures made by students in your classroom window.

It means eating a lot of Halloween colored peanut m&m's.

And pumpkin beers. And pumpkin corn bread. And pumpkin cookies. And roasted pumpkin seeds. And pumpkin everything.

October means it's time to put away my flip flops and put on my boots.

It means I get to see one of my best friends from college get hitched to that crazy boy who used to live across the hall from us sophomore year.

October means I get to wear dark fingernail polish.

It means I can turn off the AC for good. And lounge in my sweatpants at night.

And I can fall asleep at night under a pile of blankets.

And best of all, October also means routine. As a teacher, September is a crazy time. I'm excited to see things falling into routine in my life and in my classroom.

welcome, october!