October 23, 2014

Stuff and Things 10/23 (a new co-host!)

I'm so excited to have Joey from Hodges Podges join me for Stuff and Things.  She's one of the two bloggers who have my phone number, so I trust her with my beloved link-up.  I figure this way, if I have a mishap like I did last week, at least the link-up will be on somewhere in blogland.  Plus, Joey is fun and I love her blog.

+Does anyone watch The Talking Dead?  It's my Monday morning guilty pleasure.  It makes Mondays slightly bearable during Dead season.  I record it Sunday night and watch it in the morning.  This week, they asked a guest what the best scene in the series was so far and he said when Carl shot Shane.  I disagree.  #TeamShaneForever

+Also, I almost threw up when I watched the end of TWD on Sunday.

+I started watching Don't Trust the B last weekend. It's okay. I mean, it creates background noise, which is what I use t.v. for most days. Pickings are often slim on Netflix. James Van der Beek is pretty funny.  I've never seen Dawson's Creek.  Maybe that can be this coming weekend's project while I paint more cabinets?  I'm not crazy about Krysten Ritter.  I was happy when they wrote her off of Breaking Bad.  This show is what I would call the poor man's version of New Girl.  I understand why it was canceled.

+I almost always insist on italicizing the names of  t.v. shows or books.  It is quite possibly the only type A thing about me when it comes to blogging.  

+My biggest dilemma this week:  this is the time of year when I like to pull out all the fancy PowerPoints I made awhile back to teach the kids about anti-Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.  Unfortunately, I had all this on a jump drive that is now defunct (i.e. it won't work because it's 10 years old) and the only other place I have these things saved is on my old Toshiba laptop.  Scott has an old Toshiba laptop too and his power cord broke about a year ago.  Since I don't use my Toshiba anymore, I gave him my power cord.  Scott is in Texas.  With his Toshiba.  And the power cord.  I can't get into my old Toshiba because it's been in a box since we left Alaska and needs to be charged and I don't have a power cord.  Which means all of my PowerPoints are lost to me for now.  And my dilemma is: Do I create more?  Or do I wait it out and the kids get an anti-Columbus Day lesson in November?  I can't figure out if this is a laziness thing or just a practicality thing.
I have the weekend to decide.  I really don't want to spend my weekend making powerpoints.

+Yesterday, I ended up at Jersey Mike's trying to order a wrap for lunch because I had a training in that part of town and the only other places were McDonald's and Taco Bell.  Jersey Mike's is definitely no Jimmy John's but it's also not the worst thing in the world. So I ordered a grilled veggie wrap and I swear they forgot about me.  There were like 7 people working behind the counter and it still took over 10 minutes.  10 minutes might not seem like a long time to wait for food, but this was a sandwich shop.  I didn't even complain, but they knew they were being a-holes so they give me a coupon for a free meal and mumble, "sorry", in the quietest way possible.  This wasn't the first time either, so why I went back I'm not actually sure.  The things I'll do to avoid fried fast food….

+Lastly, I admit it.  I'm basic.  So basic.  And I'm okay with that.  However, I have never ever ever had a pumpkin spice latte.  Yesterday, at Starbucks (a basic destination) I had an Americano with a splash of cream (not a basic drink).  So there.  Watch this video.

October 22, 2014

What to wear…

Looking for something to wear in the morning is a struggle. I have no idea why.  This didn't used to happen to me.  Obviously this isn't a real problem in the grand scheme of things, but it's a drag on day to day life.

You see, way back when, I winterized my wardrobe and I haven't been able to break away from that.  I automatically gravitate to long sleeves, leggings, and scarves if given the choice.  Yesterday, it was 75 degrees when I left school and I had this on.  I wore it last year too, so it's not exactly a new idea.

Dress:  Off-brand from the PX // Sweater: Loft // (the best) Leggings (ever): Lauren Conrad from Kohl's

However, when I left for school in the morning, it was breezy and 40 degrees.  I wore a coat.  I was melting as I took this picture though, and I'm looking up like that so as not to be blinded by the sun.  Today it's supposed to be 79 degrees! I don't get it.  I'm used to mentally preparing for winter by August and I hate to complain about warm weather, but I'm running out of clothing ideas.

While I don't think I've been buying a lot of clothes lately, I haven't NOT been buying clothes either. I spend a lot of time browsing the Gap's website and just ordered some new shirts, but I think I need to find about 5 must-have pieces that I can wear often and can transition through this weird weather.  Any ideas?  What have you bought for fall?  I don't think I'll ever get used to 70 degree weather in October.  I don't even remember this happening in Pennsylvania.  

October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Brownies

Yesterday, I whined about how I never bake anymore and then I blamed Pinterest and the general food-blogging population.

However, over the the weekend, I started baking.  First, pumpkin cookies.  Then, I came up with a brand new recipe.  I used a basic brownie recipe that I've adapted from Rachael Ray magazine and I changed it up for this pumpkin-loving season.  

I have 3 giant cans of pumpkin to use.  I always buy a lot when given the opportunity because you never know when the mood for pumpkin desserts will strike.  I was thinking about what I could make and I thought of brownies.  I didn't want to rip off a recipe that had already been done over and over again, so I searched Pinterest and Google to see if there was already a recipe out there.  There were a couple and they fit directly into the two categories I mentioned yesterday.  There was something vegan, with xylitol and almond meal or something and then there was 1 can of pumpkin + one box of brownie mix.
Mmmmm, right?

Here's a real pumpkin brownie recipe that is quick to whip up and is fudgy and decadent enough to impress.

Pumpkin Spice Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes an 8x8 pan

2 T. butter, softened
4 T. cocoa powder
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 T. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chocolate chips

With a mixer, combine the butter, cocoa powder, pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, and sugar.  Mix on low until combined.  Hand mixer or stand mixer will work best, but you can use a big wooden spoon too, if the butter is soft enough. Stir in the flour and pumpkin pie spice until everything is well-combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Check the center with a toothpick after 25 minutes.

Allow to cool and then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting, or a frosting of your choice.  If you use cream cheese in the frosting, be sure to store the brownies in the fridge.

1 tub of whipped cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 t. vanilla
about 3 cups powdered sugar (I don't like giving exact numbers on the sugar.  You know the consistency you want.)
1 T. meringue powder (Optional, but will help the frosting harden.  Found in the wedding aisle at Wal-Mart)

Cream the butter and cream cheese together, using a hand mixer or the whisk on a stand mixer.  Add the vanilla.  Then, add the sugar until you reach the consistency you want.  Add the meringue powder last.

October 20, 2014

How Pinterest ruined my desire to bake

I used to bake a lot.  Cookies, bars, brownies, rice crispy treats, etc.  I understand that I've fallen out of this habit over the last year or so.  It was a hard habit to fall out of because I was so used to creating recipes and posting them here.  Eventually, with the time in Missouri, the move to Colorado, and the remodeling of a kitchen, I just gave up.

It's proven to be an even harder habit to fall back into though.  Once you stop doing something for awhile, picking it up again isn't easy.  It only takes 21 days to create a habit, they say.

Enter Pinterest.  I used to love it.  It was a wonderful time-waster and treasure trove of ideas and inspiration.  That's the same way I used to love food blogs.  Inspiration is what they gave me.  

However, Pinterest does this annoying thing where it follows people FOR you based on your previous pins or something, and so I end up looking at a million food pins.  What I've noticed is that food blogs have gone over the top these days.  Billions of ingredients in each recipe.  And these recipes either have completely unhealthy ingredients, like a soup with a stick of butter and cup of cream, or are on the vegan side of things, with hard-to-find ingredients.  While I prefer to fit more vegetables into my diet these days, I refuse to drive all over town looking for things when I know that I'm going to be too tired to make dinner most weeknights.  So I just stick to my standbys like sweet potatoes, quinoa, chicken salads, and so on during the week.  

And then there's the idea that more is more.  17 layers and 3 kinds of sugar?  That cookie must be much better than something classic and simple.  Or recipes with 3 different already-processed ingredients, such as pudding mix/cake mix/canned frosting?  Those kinds of desserts hold absolutely no appeal to me and that's all I'm seeing on Pinterest these days.  It seems like everyone is competing to have that next recipe post to go viral.  I realized long ago that none of mine ever would, so that might be when I stopped trying.  

I started posting recipes on this blog almost a year before I joined Pinterest.  I still joined Pinterest well before the general population and, let's face it, nothing is worse than the general population being on Pinterest. They tend to not know how to separate it from Facebook and all of a sudden you're scrolling through your newsfeed looking at Jell-O poke cakes and wondering what happened to your life.  And for the record, cooking chicken in a crockpot full of cream cheese and cream of mushroom soup is never a good idea.

In short, the inundation of over saturated photos,  the multitude of ingredients, and the "OMG SO GOOD" on blogs has ruined my desire to create in the kitchen because it's just too much.  Preparing food shouldn't be that complicated.

Do you have thoughts on this?

October 18, 2014

School Colors and HFM Disease

Yesterday, I wore a jacket at school that definitely does not hail from my current district.  This jacket is from Alaska and I wore it almost every Friday for a year and a half.  I paid like $30 for it and it IS comfortable, so I might as well keep wearing it, right?

School/district-related clothes are a big deal.  Thinking back, while I was growing up, everything was in black, white, and gold.  Those were my school colors.  I think a lot of us as adults are partial to our alma maters' colors.  I tend to go navy blue when given the choice, and that may or may not be PSU-related.  I'm not sure.  I've always liked dark blue.

In Alaska, my school's colors were blue and white.  That was okay with me.  The rival high school, across town, was red and white. They were the Warriors. The high school on my side of town was the Moose. The other school would say, "It's moose season!"  My school would fire back, "Rather be dead than red!"  The two ends of town were rivals (hey, kinda like East Dillon and West Dillon).  The going trend these days is for each elementary school to have its own mascot, so my school was the glacier bears.

In Missouri, our colors were black and orange.  We were tigers. Everyone, I swear, wore black and orange everyday.  There was such an enormous amount of school spirit in that town.  It was kind of nice.  I owned no orange when I started there and now I have a few things, along with 3 district t-shirts.  I wear those shirts a lot because I like them and I paid for them.  When I saw one of those orange and black jackets walking around my new school in Colorado a few months ago, I had a twilight-zone-esque episode.  I forgot what state I was in for a second.*  Turns out, that teacher used to work at my school in Missouri.  She was wearing her black and orange with pride.  

Here, the colors are blue and gold, which is a pretty terrible color combination.  I'm not sure how blue and yellow relates to being "the panthers". I'd actually like to start a petition to switch the colors, but that is neither here nor there.  I own one school t-shirt.  I wear it most Fridays.  Yesterday, I wore my glacier bears jacket over it.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  

Also, I was out of jackets.  All my other fall coats were being sanitized in the hot water of the washing machine, so I really had no choice.  

Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease is going around my classroom.  EVERYTHING is being sanitized this weekend.  

*Confession:  Sometimes I do forget where I live.  Too many moves in too few years.