Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Apron Party Farewell!

Here are the last of the shots of the party. The table filled with salads and appetizers. Guests brought their favorites to share, and they brought recipes for the guest of honor, as well. My cousin decided to wear the eleven aprons she received. What a hoot to watch each layer go on!!! Some were vintage, and one was hand made from "fat quarters" by an artistic friend. My cousin was treated to a surprise barbecue by her husband and family the day after this, so although her REAL birthday isn't until tomorrow, she has partied hearty.

Well, it's time to share a moment with The Gilmore Girls. I must say the first five years were wonderful, and the last two are a bit off the money for me... but I want to see it through. I liked it better when "reality" didn't hit Stars Hollow.... I won't say much in case there are those reading who don't know the story line yet... It's still the best show I ever followed, hands down. I just wanted Lorelai Gilmore to be that ultimate woman, without the flaws that would plague us ordinary creatures.... and Luke? Has there ever been a better man????? (on tv, at least.)

Have a great day. Hope the storms don't get too bad here. What severe weather changes in Missouri... Today was balmy and beautiful, and Saturday they're calling for snow... Ahhhh.. March will come in like my Lion!!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Memory Video .... stunned....

My cousin just brought down and shared a video made for her birthday by her husband's family. Evidently the cousin came in and commandeered a tote full of family photos... kind of like the tote in purple at my house in the corner of my "used to be" closet. Photos tumble in a maze of black and white, vintage, family treasures, odd shots of children I can't remember that once were tucked into Christmas cards... just a jumble of memories. The last time I looked at mine, I was quickly and painfully sorting through it to make the collage boards for my Daddy's funeral.

Something about the bluegrass/tinny music and the evaporate/fade technique of these photos made my mind go into a warp of its own. (Okay, I'll admit, it isn't that hard to do, but still...) Tonight we viewed about 850 pictures, many of my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins... me, my son as a baby... tractors, horses, ruined barns, old Studebakers... Just a montage of people and dreams, snippets of time preserved forever by a quick shot of the camera. No organization pervaded this video, so the years flashed back and forth kind of like our minds do as we reminisce.... I have often thought about this technique of journaling, and I once made a photograph album like that with my gramma's pictures. I remember that my mother didn't like it because I had shots from the 20's alongside my graduation in (ahem!) '72. I liked it then, and I like it now.... but I'm not sure I could stand many hours of it at a time.

We build our lives in layers, spiraling through events, Christmases, new cars, first dates, marriages, and cemeteries. The layers melt together, intertwined with our loved ones and their events and friends, their families, their pets. I saw many shots of my cousin's parents as they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, and all I could think of was, "That was the day I started going steady with my first husband." We walked downtown to a drug store after school, ordered Lemon Sprites, and he handed me his ring. Long gone. I rarely think of that person, and never with any kind of animosity.... That part of my life actually never existed, or so it feels... My son long ago told me I built way too many rooms in my mind, closed far too many doors... He cautioned me not to live in the attic as I do now, but to come down and enjoy the whole house... (He didn't say it quite that way, but almost.)

These photos of my parents amaze me. They are so beautiful. They look so innocent, so happy... and they got to do their whole lives that way, or at least my Dad did... I love to look at that pretty hair on my mom, those strong shoulders on my Dad.... and, thinking of my own life... I wish.... for what? I haven't the wisdom, courage, or inclination to verbalize it, even in my heart, but I wish it.

So, thank you but no thank you to long videos down Memory Lane.... I am glad to have seen it, but for tonight, I even took my computer off of the screen saver slide show... Give me the solid straight-shooter shot of my good old geese at the pond... Ahhh... set my mind on stunned, and get some sleep.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Carrot Cake Recipe


3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 (8 ounce) can or larger crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x12 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.
In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins.
Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.
Pour into prepared 8x12 inch pan, and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour. Check with toothpick.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.


Cream Cheese Frosting

2 pkg. softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 stick softened butter

1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

1 t. vanilla

2-2 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Cream the Philly Cream Cheese and butter. Beat in powdered sugar until consistency you choose. Fold in vanilla and pecans or walnuts. Spread on COOLED cake.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Party time.... First batch of shots....

Vintage aprons around the tables... And during the luncheon many of my cousins remembered the aprons or the fabrics from our grandmother's dresses! What fun... Paula received 9 vintage aprons, and she wore them ALL!!!!
Every guest wrote a little note to Paula on their napkin cards.....
A shot of the waiting refrigerator..... When will they get here?????
I made a plain Paula Deen Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. I usually add nuts and chocolate chips, pumpkin or peanut butter or SOMETHING. I think I love it plain the most....

Two Iced Tea pitchers and two Sweet Tea Pitchers.... They call sweet tea the house wine of the South... and Missouri, too!~
She had on her apron, so she just had to come to the party!

Dolls with aprons (Madame Alexander Little Women Dolls) were a part of the centerpiece.
I think everyone had a blast. I know I sure did... Our guest of honor seemed so pleased.

Friday, February 20, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Apron Party, and all through the House....

Banner's up... guests come in twelve hours.... Soup schedule: up at 4 to prep and start the simmer. Cakes baked, and all the little touches in place. My cousin turns sixty this year, so we are officially celebrating tomorrow.

Shhh! This Deja Blue water bottle is shy, but she doesn't know her apron is kind of on the order of those embarrassing hospital gowns... Shhh! Don't tell her!

Now she's all better... Ready to meet the guests as their favor.

Kind of a parade of Mrs. Butterworth-looking women...
This cool tureen is my cousin's gift from me, along with that cool, crochet, vintage apron and a copy of Apronology Magazine by Stampington.
More pics tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Well, I finally reached the "end of the Internet." Remember that ad? Well, my principal came in last week and quietly informed me that my laptop cart was being locked until "further notice." The reason: kids were sneaking onto game sites and sports sites instead of doing their homework. I had the option to turn the chairs all around and "teach" to their behinds. I took the lock down choice. They really don't always listen all that well when their shiny little faces are turned toward me. I have tried the turn-around thing, and I felt like a huge fool. I have mixed emotions. I told my kids to blame themselves and me. Them, for not staying where they should, and me for not cracking down more. But it takes only a flick of a switch when I walk their way and voila! they are working on a paper! I want a program similar to "Synchron-eyes" that costs a little less and still allows me the ability to see each and every little computer on my own screen, go onto their screen and tell them to get back to work, and also shut down their computer if I need to. It would rock! Kinda pricey, and for some reason, the powers that be don't really like the idea.
You know, I love computers, but it's okay to face a day or so without them at school. It really doesn't faze my teaching, but it sure slows down the grading and revision process. I really think, however, that a child who is "--- bent" on avoiding work by straying to gaming sites will find another way to avoid class work. So far, it has been by an increase in paper wads, a little more mouth, and not much more work if any than I received before.. Most of my kids work and work, but a magical few have "better things" to do.... ummm... yep... So, for all you Halo, World of Warcraft, and etc.... players out there... Thanks... We've been zapped.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Biscuit Blessings...

Okay... so it is, actually, over... but we hadn't celebrated with my son yet, so today is officially the Post-Valentine's Post! I sculpted some grande biscuits (from a can) into these gorgeous hearts and whipped up some stuffed celery (I'm the only one who eats that)......... Mom made spare ribs, green bean casserole (she adds cheese!), California mix, and macadamia nut-white chocolate cookies... Ummmm.. yeah. I jazzed up my gifts for them and for my cousin and made some valentines... Did you hear the one about "better late than never?" haha...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cupid Awakes....

Hello, everyone!

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day... My celebration began last night.... Actually earlier. After a long and very VERY stressful two weeks of school, we had a wonderful teacher's workshop presented by a dear friend of mine. We learned all about grant writing and school improvement writing, but mostly she demonstrated just how much fun it can be to work together as a group of faculty members. I personally am so very tired in my soul of professional development workshops on test scores. This one was actually geared to something else, and it was just wonderful.

Then two dear friends and I flew across the miles to a nearby town and had a wonderful early Valentine's Day Supper. One of them gave me the cutest purse/cosmetic bag and some lovely Valentine's Day tea. The other one has been spoiling me for weeks with hot plate lunches at school, strategically placed ice cold Diet Cokes after a stressful day or right before Parent Teacher Conferences. I love my girlfriends with all my heart. You might say my love life has had its ups and downs and downs and ups, but one thing is certain. My friendships ROCK!!!

Then my cousin (of the upcoming apron party fame) brought us down a plate of iced sugar cookies. Mmmmm.. I told you that was the taste of Valentine's Day... Delicious and so sweet......

Today instead of our usual car trip, Mom and I opted for a quiet morning at home. Neither of us felt 100 percent, so I think I'm being dubbed as gopher and a little Taco Bell is in order for lunch. At the same time I'm picking up some gift certificates for my son. I bought Mom a new Beverly Lewis Trilogy... so we're set.

Here is a Cheese Ball Recipe I just adore..... I have a little left from Parent Teacher Conferences, but I'm making another for the party next Saturday.

Red Pepper Cheese Ball

2 softened 8 oz. pkg. Philly Cream Cheese
1/4 c. softened butter
2-3 c. grated Cheddar or American Cheese
1 bunch minced green scallions or green onions
1 tsp. minced garlic (I use the kind in the jar with olive oil)
1/2 + c. chopped roasted red bell pepper from jar or freshly roasted
1/2 jar Harry and David Pepper 'n Onion relish (I think there are substitutes out there, as well... Just a red pepper relish with a sweet hot flavor... Could add a little sugar or a little dash of cayenne if your relish isn't cooperating... Nothing beats Harry and David, though, in my opinion)
1/2+ c. chopped pecans
dash of green parsley flakes

Reserve about 3/4 c. cheese, the parsley, and the chopped pecans. Mix other ingredients well (I use my hands). Form a sloppy ball and roll first in cheese, then in nuts. Sprinkle with parsley... Chill at least two hours and enjoy... Keeps tightly covered for at least a week (so they say....)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine... Valentine.... Will you be mine?

Remember my Apron Party for my cousin's 60th birthday? These are the invitations. With my latest tendencies to be all out behind on one deadline after another, this was the only thing I got out this year. My usual Valentines went the sad way of my Christmas cards. I, who adore sending cards for every occasion??? I have failed the Hallmark Standard and am now hoping for some sprightly leprechauns to redeem me... or at least a fat sassy bunny for Easter???? Cross your fingers for me. These cards are really kind of cute. I found a wonderful vintage apron pattern that looked well worn on the corners, and I scanned it... "Let's tie on one" is the theme... Double-click photo if you want to see them close up... Stay tuned for tablescape and favors and shots of the big day. It's a week from Saturday.
Valentine's Day approacheth, and these solitary shots are a soulful reminder that not all of us are with our sweethearts this Valentine's Day... Whether miles or time or something still and silent separate us from the ones we love, we still devote the day to Romance, to Love, and to Remembrance. My earliest Valentine's Days were peopled by my grandparents and my mom and dad. Pink iced sugar cookies with red hots... That is the ultimate taste of the day. Gramma even mailed me a few boxes of those during my college dorm days..... wax paper layers, a few more crumbs than perfect hearts, even then... haha... Preview of coming attractions?

I have happy memories of creating Valentine boxes in grade school. Perhaps mine didn't win very often, but it was great to get that thin "You are a 'shoe'in' for my Valen-time... with the big shoe and a clock????" I always hoped to find one with that masculine writing from the "one" at school. I was not one of those girls who had a boyfriend... not until high school... but that didn't stop me from having the horrid crush or two. Broken arm in the morning of my seventh grade year? No problem. I stayed all day not to miss the Valentine Party... Afraid I'm not that brave (or was it silly?) any more.
This year I had a wonderful box from my knight in shining armor who dwells in castles far away... A book of Mary Engelbreit projects, near and dear to my heart.... Lovely ideas, delicious photos.... the perfect present.
I once caused a huge wreck on Valentine's Day. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but the highway was closed for two hours. My car had stalled beside the road, and I'd hitch-hiked on to school. My dad later saw the car and slowed down to check on what he knew to be my car, thinking he'd come to my rescue... Behind him a semi truck couldn't stop on the snowy roads and jack-knifed, overturned... and the road was closed...
This year I am glad I did not make the same mistake as last year. I didn't overload on all the lifestyle shows that featured "THE BIG DAY." Perhaps that's why I missed the card rack at the store, as well... I do, however, plan to visit Cindy's Romantic Home and check out all the Valentine Centerpieces.... They are fantastic. Happy Friday....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's official... She flu the coop!

Uh. Yeah... I stayed home. Slept until 11:30 when my mother called me from upstairs and imparted this little gem of wisdom she learned from HER mother: "You have to get up and walk around to see if you are really sick or not." Uh... right. I just love that philosophy don't you?
But she makes a mean little sloppy joe/baked potato/green bean get-well supper, so I guess all is well.
And... I was able to watch 11 or 12 episodes of Season 3.... Yeah, I bought the Barbie Dream Set. I just couldn't be at the mercy of Netflix for any more of it, plus I know I'll watch this all again when I'm done. I think I feel well enough to go to school if I'm armed with Tylenol and cough drops and happy little lesson plans.... I got a couple of email messages that my kids missed me.... I was surprised but happy to hear from them...
Have a fun day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

UP, NOT at 'em...

It's 4:35 a.m. I just slipped outside to take these shots of the moon... I have three sweaters whirring in the gentle cycle of the washer, and in one hour I get up for school. ??? I need to sleep, but it evades me. My throat is so sore, and my head is pounding... I hope I'm not "getting it." I cannot explain. Last week was a whirl with Friday's parent conferences demanding all my energy for a month. I love to visit with parents. I can't explain why they remain so tiring after all these years. The sitting, the explaining, just the right amount of encouragement. Those terrible fires in Australia were set on purpose. Someone lit them, and now entire towns are gone, 131 have died, and a whole nation if not the world is in mourning. I am very sad to realize we have encouraged and created such misery in our world culture. We have to wonder if the fire starters also perished. A lot of wondering comes to mind so early in the day. Time for a last snippet of the night... Sleep well, those of you who can... My slumber isn't sweet tonight..... As my college teacher loved to say, "Alas!"

P.S. I called in this morning, and a sub will be there in my place today. I don't feel well at all.... Boooo....

Monday, February 2, 2009

School's IN....

Whew... this has been a hectic week, and it's only Monday. Friday we stay all afternoon and evening for Parent Conferences. Although I love all the parents (I counted up that I've taught about 50 parents of the kids I teach now....) I don't enjoy sitting there all afternoon hunched up on a picnic bench... Ugh... But I'm grading essays and working to be O.R.G.A.N.I.Z.E.D. yeah. I just bought some colored paper and folders and scented markers from Amazon to perk up the class projects. I'm telling you. I read an article on a Missouri Teacher of the Year once with the quote, "January and February... third quarter really... is the grim season." I understand. Especially in Missouri? haha.. I love snow and cold weather so I don't get as frustrated as some of the other teachers and kids.... Anyway... here's a pic of a cool house I took last week... and a shot of Dad's weather vane... Odd shots for an odd mood.