November 27, 2014

Stuff and Things 11/27


Happy Thanksgiving!



+I don't like Stovetop stuffing, but I like pilgrims.

+In fact, I never ate stuffing until last year.  My friend made a cornbread stuffing and it was so good that I'm making it again this year.  

+I don't really like turkey.  I love the way it smells and we have a "perfect turkey button" on our new oven so we're making one, but I probably won't eat much.  The turkey has always been Scott's thing.

+I'm trying something new with Brussels sprouts today.  Cross your fingers.

+Also on the menu: Trader Joe's recipe for green bean casserole.  I think I might bake some cookies too.  I thought about sweet potatoes, but we eat those like every other day anyway.

+No pie for dessert.  I only like pecan pie and there is no reason why I need to bake myself a pecan pie because I will definitely eat it all in two days.  Pumpkin pie I don't like.  And all those other types of pies just put fruit in dessert and I don't really believe in that.

+I'm particularly thankful for the new mowing attachment that Scott got for the four-wheeler.  We have a yard again!


+If you link up today, make sure to enter the giveaway below!  Winner will be announced next week!



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November 26, 2014

I'm not making a Christmas list.

I would start off today by wishing a Happy Birthday to Scott..but we've already established that he doesn't read my blog.  I can tell YOU what I got him, though.  A PSU camo Tervis tumbler and the book Killing Patton.  Plus that four-wheeler thing that's sitting under the carport…where my car used to sit.

Today my goal is also to mail off some presents.  I've just been picking up little things here and there thinking Oh, she'd love that! or That's perfect for him! and so on.  Gifts are not over the top this year and I'm pretty much done with shopping.  I might just pick up a few gift cards now and that will be that.

I'm also not making a Christmas list.  With this remodel, there's not a whole lot of "stuff" that I need.  Or want.  I mean, I'll never turn down clothes or kitchen stuff, but we're worried about other things now when it comes fixtures/furnishings we could use for the house.  

The only thing I want is this map, framed.


I'll probably do that over Christmas vacation.  I've had my eye on it for months now.  If that one, by chance, is gone when I get around to ordering, I'll find a different one on etsy.  I just want a big colorful-ish map of the world on the wall.  

We do need to get barstools, so we'll probably look for those over Christmas vacation too.  

There's so little that we actually need, and so many better places to put our money, rather than filling up a tree skirt with stuff we don't actually require. We're much better off than most and this time of year, especially, makes me appreciative of that.  The things we really want, like most people, can't be bought anyway, right?

November 25, 2014

Caramelized French Onion Soup


A few days ago, Scott asked for the address to my blog.  I was immediately suspicious.

He told his friend that I had a "cooking blog".  The friend was going to give the URL to his wife so she could look at it since she likes to cook too.

I hung my head in shame.  I said he should probably not do that.  There wasn't much to read in the way of "cooking" lately and he's all confused and I'm all, "I mean, I have a recipe index…" and he's like, "Hey, just give me the link to that then" and I scowled and that was the end of the conversation.

Side note: Let me remind you all that I have the recipe index simply because I'm terrible at writing down recipes.  I even try, every now and then, to do this in a word document and I fail at that.  The only way a recipe ever gets documented in this house is if I click "publish".

The next day, I made soup from scratch.

Often, French Onion soup is one of those that tempt me on a menu when I'm out somewhere.  However, having worked at a restaurant, I know that they just reheat that same pot of soup day in and day out until it's gone.  Really.  Never order soup in a restaurant.  So I make my own French Onion soup at home. Usually I use the crockpot, but sometimes I just don’t feel like cleaning the crockpot.  That is the honest to goodness truth.  Sometimes using it is actually more trouble than it’s worth.  It often sits in the sink for days, full of soapy water, after it has crockpotted us a delicious soup or stew. 

This time, I went with a stockpot on the stove. I caramelized the onions first and it only took about 30 minutes.  I filled the pot with beef stock and let it simmer all day.  This might be the easiest soup in the world.

Caramelized French Onion Soup
use a 6 quart pot

2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 T. butter

6 cups beef broth
2 T. white wine (or sherry)
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Melt the butter over low heat and add in the onions.  Stir them around to coat them and then put the lid on the pot.  Keep it on low.  Stir every few minutes until they become soft and start to turn golden brown.  (This is where I should've taken a picture…)  
The caramelizing will take about 30 minutes.  Then, add in the wine, garlic salt, and Worcestershire sauce and turn it up to medium.  Pour in the broth or stock.  Allow it to come to a boil and then turn it to low and keep the lid on.  It can simmer for an hour or 6 hours.  Whatever fits your timetable. The longer it sits on low heat, the better.  

To make croutons, this is my preferred method with swiss, provolone, mozzarella, etc.  However, if that's too involved (as it was for me on this particular day…), just slice some crusty bread, broil it to golden-brown, and add cheese to the top.  

November 24, 2014

Link Worthy Monday

Greetings from Thanksgiving vacation!  Scott didn't realize until last night that I didn't have to go back to work today.  I mentioned that I was already a little bored (just a little) and he was all, "Whaaa?". I plan on finishing my Christmas shopping and continuing my organization of the basement. Exciting stuff.  I also have a couple of recipes to share this week.  Hold me to that, please.

Until then…my bookmark tab is filling up, so time to share!

What 10 Pounds Taught Me.  I've really been working hard at changing my mentality toward fitness and body acceptance so this post was very encouraging.

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD.  This sounds about right.

A parody of Serial.  Fantastic.

10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently.  It's not about being shy.  It's about how we're all wired differently.

A pro-vaccination argument.  This is different than the typical "herd immunity" point, but makes just as much sense and it's probably not thought about as often. The last paragraph of this letter states it all so well.

Confessions of a Pilates Instructor.  This was informative.  No one really has it all together.  Reassuring, right?

Serial replaces Shakespeare.  Such a good idea.  We need more current, relevant critical thinking in our schools.  Also, Koenig's husband teaches at Penn State, our alma mater, and this podcast on Slate does a thought-provoking recap of Serial each week.  I try to get people I know in real life into Serial and no one will listen (to it or me).  Scott loves it though.  As he said when I complained, "It's their loss."

Last but not least, Scott's birthday is this week so I'm baking this cake while he's at work.  Cross your fingers.  I've never made a homemade layer cake before.  Usually I go with the ice cream variety.

November 21, 2014

Actually, I do write everyday

…just not on this blog.

You see, my school has a very labor intensive writing program and I have to write 4 separate pieces each day with my 4 separate small groups.  It is …laborious.  I think the reason why I'm too worn down to blog is because I'm doing this stuff all day long…


I get a prompt, I model a response to the prompt in "my" notebooks, they copy into their notebooks, and then they go write their own original piece.

I'm *prompted* tell you this story because, by the last group of the day, I'm exhausted and near delirium and, I swear, just making stuff up.  It often feels like I've stayed up too late and I can't think clearly.  

Tuesday's prompt for my highest group:  Tell about a time you were embarrassed.  

Why?  Just why?  Sometimes, I use the example the website gives with the prompt.  Sometimes, the example is dumb and it's easier to make up my own.  I spend a lot of this writing hour drawing on my own experiences.  

I start my piece…and talk about a time I missed the kickball in gym class when I was up to bat.  Like it wasn't bad enough the first time.  Now I get to tell this to a bunch of 4th graders who will laugh at my expense.  However, it's the first thing I can think of and they get more out of it if they see me modeling, not just copying from the screen. And seriously, the quicker I start writing, the quicker this is done.

"Luckily, for me, the teacher called it a foul and I received another chance to make it to first base."

One kid:  Foul?  More like FAIL, son!  Boom.  
Another kid:  How is that embarrassing?  
A third:  Yeah, that's not embarrassing.
Second kid again: You didn't even fall?
Another:  Is this true?
Second kid again (he's a talker): No, she's getting it from the computer (peers at monitor to see if I'm copying or making it up).  Oh, no.  It's real.
First kid:  You didn't even fall?

Oh, I definitely fell.  But I'm definitely not telling them that.  

Cheers to 9 days off for Thanksgiving.

*Edited to add:  These are really well-behaved and smart students. This is their chance to converse with me and their peers and I often just sit there and listen as the group or 4 or 5 banters back and forth (it's kind of eye-opening) while I write.