Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You know were you are?? You're at the dentist baby

So this morning after getting the kids off to school I went to the dentist. I have been going to the same office since I was a little kid. I used to have Dr. Carl and now I have Dr. Brett (his son). It was a little weird at first having a dentist that was a few years younger than me and that I have attended "social gatherings" with in high school, but today it paid off. I had to have some fillings done and they offered my some music for my listening pleasure. As I looked over my options, Best of Mani low, Sade, Eagles... don't get me wrong, any of those would have been okay... I saw the ultimate dentist CD. Guns and Roses: Appetite for Destruction :0)
Interesting G&R trivia: My dear friend Sarah went to HS (Roosevelt HS in Seattle) with G&R's bass player Duff McKagan and Joji often takes credit for bringing G&R to the U of W in '87 before they hit it big.
I have to say it was a little surreal having the beginning of Welcome to the Jungle playing as you are laying there looking up at two masked people holding very large needles. Needless to say, the CD was the best part of the visit. I have the most sensitive teeth and in order to "numb" me up, I got 3 times the Novocaine. Sadly, it wasn't enough. They were able to get two of the three filled before my body said enough was enough. I'm sorry but I'm just to physically capable of having you zing my tooth nerve and not jump out of my chair. Now here I sit, with it feeling like my face is sagging into my lap. I was going to go do some testing, but in order to test the English, I must be able to speak it and that just really isn't happening. I thought maybe a trip to Joann's, but the thought of literally drooling down the isles wasn't that appealing as well. So now I'm home and I think I will take a little nap. The stuff the shot me full of is now starting to kick in and my whole face feels sleepy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ann Landers Lemon Meringue Pie

As much as I wish this recipe was my own, it is from Ann Landers. My only advice is to make the cornstarch mixture for the meringue first so it has time to cool or pour it on a plate and place in the fridge. Just make sure it is completely cool when it is time to use it.

Ann Landers' best ever lemon pie and meringue
1¼ cups granulated sugar

6 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups water

3 egg yolks

1/3 cup lemon juice

1½ teaspoons lemon extract

2 teaspoons vinegar

3 tablespoons butter

1 baked (9-inch) pie shell

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons cold water

½ cup boiling water

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

For pie: Mix sugar and cornstarch together in top of a double boiler. Add 2 cups water. Combine egg yolks with lemon juice; beat until well mixed. Add to rest of sugar mixture. Cook over boiling water until thick, about 25 minutes. (This does away with the starchy taste.)

Add lemon extract, vinegar and butter; stir thoroughly. Pour mixture into deep 9-inch pie shell; let cool. Cover with meringue.

For meringue: Blend cornstarch and cold water in saucepan. Add boiling water and cook over low heat, stirring, until clear and thickened. Let stand until completely cooled. In another bowl, with electric beater at high speed, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar, and beat until stiff but not dry. Turn mixer to low speed; add vanilla and salt. Gradually beat in cold cornstarch mixture.

Turn mixer again to high, and beat well. Spread meringue over cooled pie filling; make peaks on meringue. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until peaks and top are lightly browned.

Serves 8
Nutrition facts per serving: 264 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 88 mg cholesterol, 48 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 107 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

Joji said the pie did not last long this morning and it even received a 9.5 out of 10. Enjoy!!

Luscious Lemon Meringue

Last night I made Joji a Lemon Meringue pie to take to work today. The Pecan pie was a hit and now apparently I'm taking requests. Again, I'm not really a fan of Lemon Meringue, but I have to say I tested both the lemon and the meringue while I was making it and I might have rethink that. The lemon was nice and tart and the meringue tasted like marshmallow. When I was younger, I thought meringue was just stiff egg whites plopped on top and I think that is why the pie never appealed to me. I can't wait to hear how it went over. It really was a beaut.

I'm rushing to get kids out the door and then I'm off to do some testing so I will have to post the recipe when I get home this afternoon. The recipe I have is soo super simple (seriously, I only make stuff that is easy) and chances are you have everything already in your pantry. The only thing I wish I did have on hand last night was some lemons to zest so it would look and tast all fancy schmancy. I had my shopping list on the bottom of a coupon I had printed up and the cashier took the whole paper.

Speaking of coupons, I have a bone to pick with Home Depot. I belong to their "garden club" so they send me coupons. I actual went to use one yesterday to get some "buy one, get one free" spring bulbs. The coupon said it could be used 3 times, but when I went to pay it only let me use it 2 times. I pointed out to the cashier where it said 3 times and she, of course, could do nothing. So annoying.
Anyhoo, it is supposed to be in the 80's today. Why it couldn't have been 80 when he pool was open is beyond me, but I'm just glad I will have nice weather to get my bulbs in the ground.
Happy Monday, Everyone!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Perfect Pecan Pie

Last night, Joji says he wants me to whip a pecan pie to take to work for his Friday meeting. Sure no biggie. Pies are so easy. I used to be afraid of pie and truth be told fruit pies still intimidate me a little, but I do feel I have mastered the pecan pie. Now I'm not a pecan pie fan, but everyone who has some really likes it. The thing I like about this pie is that it plates so beautifully. Nothing is worse than a piece of pie that slops all over the plate (this is why I shy away from fruit pies) and these pieces plate picture perfect.
So I thought I would share my recipe with my 5 loyal readers :0) This pie is so easy and very "fall". We are looking at a grey day here in Pacific NW so filling the house with yummy smells always makes them a little easier to take. Enjoy
Perfect Pecan Pie
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C dark brown sugar (you could use light)
1 C light Karo Syrup
1/3 C melted butter
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 C pecans (I usually only chop 3/4 C and use the rest to decorate the top
1 9" unbaked deep dish pie crust
Preheat oven to 350
mix butter, sugar, vanilla and syrup
when cooled add eggs and mix well
add chopped nuts and pour into shell
place unchopped whole nuts on top in pretty design
bake 50-55 minutes
let stand a few hours to completely cool and set up
Serve with whipped cream or the stuff from the can we call "SHHHHHHHHH"
Enjoy :0)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


A few months ago, my friend Chris was telling me about her adventures with facebook (aka crackbook) She shared how her teenage step-daughter got her hooked and she has been reconnecting with all kinds of folks from her past. I had received an email saying that Chris as invited me to be a friend and I agreed. Of course I had to sign up, but I never really did anything with it.
Last night, Joji tells me that the brother of one of his old cronies had sent him a friend invite on facebook. It was so random, but a total hoot because Erik had some pictures of their motley crew from back in the day.

They all look like babies. I guess the good news is that most of those guys look the same (of course with the exception of some grey hair- sorry Joj) So today, Joji and I spent a good deal of time on facebook trying to track down old classmates (like we had nothing else to to)
So in the spirit of pictures from back in the day, here is a real gem.

Senior Prom '87
"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"
(Yes, I know that song is HORRIBLE, but I was out voted)
So there you have my flashback moments inspired by crackbook. Anyone else brave enough to share a little "yesteryear"?? I would love to see them :0)

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's the little things...

I consider myself a pretty low maintenance kind of gal and Joji to be very lucky because of this. After a recent business trip to South Carolina, Joji came home baring gifts. I received one of those real estate magazines you get at the grocery store and the shower cap from his hotel room. I was thrilled. I fancy myself a real estate junkie and I have been meaning to get myself a shower cap (ya know for those times you want a quick shower, but not the ordeal of dealing with wet hair) but just never got around to getting one. Matt was over for dinner and thought those gifts were strange at best and found it harder to believe how excited I was. What he didn't seem to get is that charming part was that Joji knew exactly what I liked. I would rather have a free shower cap than some expensive "whatever" that had no thought behind it.
So continuing with the theme of "it takes very little to make me happy" I want to share with you what is making my life so wonderful these days. I like to bake and I bake a lot. However the plugs in which I plug various mixers and such into are not located in the best places. I have a little peninsula counter where I do most of my work and ever since we moved in, I have dreamed of someday having a plug at the end of my counter. Well, this weekend I finally got one. Joji and Matt spend all of Saturday installing it. Here it is. Isn't she a beaut??

To celebrate I make devils food cupcakes with chocolate butter cream, a pecan pie and a banana cream pie. It was so nice to bake without having to unplug the phone.
Not only did I get my outlet, I also got a new closet rod in the coat closet. About a week or so ago, the shelf in out coat closet collapsed. It was one of those awful white wire shelves and I can't say I was sad. Joji built me a new fancy shelf and installed an actual rod (we had hung our stuff on the wire shelf and that was bad because you can't slide stuff) Now my coats are off the living room couches and back in the closet where they belong.

Last but not least, there was some minor bathroom renovation that I am also thrilled with. I'm sure the moms can relate to the fact that we often go without privacy when dealing with the call of nature. Now I must say the fact Ben and Sam often barge in with some crisis is pretty typical and I've grown accustom to it. However, I draw the line when Sam starts bringing along friends. So with a frantic phone call to catch the boys while still at ACE, I am now the proud owner of a locking bathroom door.
It might now be the snazziest, but it works and that make me oh so happy.
Happy Monday everyone!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blogging at the Fair

So today is my last day working at the Fair. This is a our little booth. It is too bad you can't see the art work up close. It really is great. It has been a very interesting experience. I have chatted with so many interesting folks. I spent an hour today talking to a gentleman who was 71 and was very knowledgeable about all kinds of things. He thought it was pretty cool that when he was telling me tansy ragwort, I was able to pull it up on the computer (you gotta love google) Other than that, it has been SLOW (thanks God for wi-fi). I have been here since 10 (it's 2:15 now) I haven't sold a thing. The poor gallery. Folks just aren't in the market for art this year. I guess they are concentrating on food and gas and things like that. That being said, the guy who is hawking the "Super Shammie" is making a killing.

This the view from my little table. It is amazing what some of these kids can do considering that they are still in grade school. We have also been treated to all kinds of music styling at the fair. Today is Jr High Battle of the Bands. Last week it was Jr. High Choirs. One school did an eclectic medley of songs which included such classics as Houndog, YMCA and U Can't Tough This. When they first started with the Do, do, do, do's I thought, "surely they aren't going to sing Superfreak." I didn't know how that would have flown, Fair folk are a tad on the conservative side especially the ones here on a midweek morning.

Of course the Fair is know for it's food. Everyone has their own "must eats". Ben's is Elephant ears, my dad is a Walla Walla onion burger and mine are scones. They really aren't that special, but having one handed to you in the cute little red, white and blue plaid paper bag still warm with butter and raspberry jam dripping out of it makes it extra yummy. Since I'm here all day, I actually had to get real food on my lunch break. I decided to get an Earthquake Burger. This is a picture of my TEN dollar burger. Yup, TEN bucks for a patty, cheese and bun. No lettuce or tomato or pickles, but when you are hungry what are you gonna do. Of course, after a salty burger you gotta have something sweet, so I was off to find the Seattle's Fudge stand. Again, prices where high. But I must say that wasn't as irritating as the lady in front of my who was incredible challenged by the use of her credit card. Seriously, if you are going to use plastic, practice using it before you stand in the longest line at the fair. Oh well, waddaya gonna do?
Joji got the kids out of school early today. They are taking the bus down here. It took me 25 minutes to get here this morning. It will take them one and half hours by bus. Of course, it is raining, hopefully it will stop before they get here. I'm working until 7. The plan is for them to go on rides, eat and then we will hook up for looking at the animals.
Well that is all for now. Only 4 more hours to go :0)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

For Those About to Rock: Prepare to dig deep

In 1994, I went to an AC/DC concert, spent $25 and had a blast. We had great seats and they put on an amazing show. Now the boys from down under are coming back to town and when I heard the news I started doing the happy girl clapping. I immediately called the Browns and started lining up the baby sitter. However, last night I got some news that stopped me dead in my tracks: tickets are $100 a piece!!

What??? Are you kidding me?? Seriously, AC/DC thinks they can get 100 bucks a ticket for festival seating? What has the world come to?? Now a few months ago, Van Halen came to town with David Lee Roth and the tickets were $100. That was a tough one. I always regretted not going to see them on the 1984 tour and then after that they became Van Haggar (which I did see - not bad, but just not the same) Bottom line, we decided that was just too much money to spend on a show. So now we are facing that dilemma again. Am I just so out of touch that this is what shows cost?? I don't think so. We recently got some Ray LaMontange tickets and they were $45 a piece and that seemed reasonable. Plus we got great seats and the show is in a little theater, it is going to be a amazing. I'm torn and not sure what to do. Actually I think we will sit and wait. There is no way the show will sell out and maybe the prices will drop or they might do 2 for 1 sales the day of the show. Either way I'm a little bummed. I was so excited for a fun night out with the Browns and now corporate greed has ruined my plans.

Anyhoo, besides fretting over the price of concerts things around here have been crazy. I have been testing and working at the fair. Everyday is go, go, go. I have forgotten the stamina it takes to be a "working mom". Can I just say it isn't fun. I don't like coming home tired and not wanting to cook or clean (okay, I never want to clean, but I did it) Things will calm down next week and I think I will be able to start figuring out the rhythm of my day. It has become very clear that I must stick to some sort of routine. Carving out days for laundry and grocery shopping are a must and of course, sticking to it.

Even though things have been busy, it is so much easier to get up and go when the weather has been AMAZING!! We have the best Indian summer around here and this year is no exception. It was 80 the other day. Why it couldn't be 80 this summer, is beyond me, but I will take some sun whenever I can get it. My garden is not quite done yet and I took some great pics the other day. I will post them later when I get a chance to download them. It is hard to believe that it is time to start planting spring bulbs. I was at Costco the other day and the their bags of bulbs are now $13. Last year they were less than $10 :0( I guess I'm pretty lucky if the major impact of this "adjustment" to the economy on my life is over priced concert tickets and expensive spring bulbs.
Happy Humpday!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Subbing: the new cardio

Well I survived my first official sub job. It was for my mom and since she is a English as a second language teacher, I just had a few small groups of kids. Better still the 3 and 4th graders were doing some district test so they didn't come at all. So there I sat in my moms room trying to kill an hour. I thought I might be able to catch up on some blogging, but no dice. The district's web filter is pretty tight. I did manage to get a little exercise in. My mom's room and the students' rooms were on opposite sides of the school. Of course, I had to pick up and drop off the kids so I did a lot of walking. I didn't mind, it killed some time and I figure it got the blood pumping.
Sitting in my mom's room did make me miss teaching a little. Well, let me clarify that. I miss the excitement of setting up the room. My mom's room needs help. She has a good start, but it needs the little touches that make a classroom a real learning environment. It took everything in me not to stop and do some teacher shopping on the way home.
A teacher's classroom says a lot about them. I have been in a lot of classrooms and there are some make you want to come and get cozy and others you can't get out fast enough ( I feel sorry for the kids who are stuck in these rooms all day). The classroom should be a haven for learning. Whenever I need my Kindergarten fix, I will google Kindergarten classrooms and check out what other teachers are doing. One thing I've noticed is that the "Dramatic Play" areas are disappearing from classrooms. This is sad. More and more I see Kindergarten turning into first grade. Kids learn through play!! They have the rest of their lives to be chained to a desk. I think it is funny, but a lot of top companies ENCOURAGE their employees to play because it sparks creativity. Oh well, I just hope by the time I go back to the classroom the pendulum will have swung back towards balanced and child based instruction.
Tomorrow I'm back at the fair. I'm there from 10-5 all by myself. I'm bringing Ben's DS to help me stay awake. If you're at the Fair, stop by and say hi I'm in the 4H Pavilion. Yee Ha :0)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Do the Puyallup (If you can get there)

Friday kicked off "the Fair". Yup, the Puyallup Fair is full swing and taken over the town. My friend Holly owns a gallery and every year they have a booth where they sell the work of the featured artist. She asked me if I could work it and I said sure. I like the fair and have been going since I can remember.
My first shift was from 10-2 on Friday. I figure drop the kids off at 9 and buzz down the hill, no problem. Well, that would have been fine and dandy except the town was shut down for the opening day parade. Now, Puyallup is one of those "quaint little towns", you know the kind with one way streets. Anyway, my directionally challenged self has a hard enough time getting around towns I'm not totally familiar with, but throw in about 5 different detours and my poor little brain just can't take it. I would be driving towards the fair and think "I'm almost there. I can see it" and then a detour would take me the opposite direction. I drove around for almost an hour. I finally saw a parking lot and scurried in as fast as I could. I was already 45 minutes late and I really hate being late, plus the lady I was working with was also stuck traffic so things were not off to a great start. Now of course the lot I was in was the lot furthest away from where I needed to be so I had to hightail it across the grounds.

I was surprised at how busy the fair already was. I guess there is free admission until noon on the first day so EVERYONE in Pierce Co. came. One of the funnest aspects of the fair is people watching the random encounters you have and we had some doozies, yesterday. One lady who stopped by our booth, was on her way to the NATO summit because of the nuclear bombs that are being stored in Europe. Of course this all hinged on whether or not she could get her husband served with divorce papers first. She was harmless, but apparently has a lot going on.

This year's artist is Sueellen Ross. She is a big time animal artist (You might even have one of her dog or cat calenders from LANG) Her work is really beautiful. If you are a dog (especially Lab people) or cat person, you must really check out her work. The pics here DO NOT do them justice. I thought some of her work were photographs until I learned they were watercolors and color pencil. It was funny, almost everyone who stopped by the booth would stop in their tracks and say "This looks just like (insert pet name here)"

Since we were selling cat pictures, we had lots of "cat people" stop by. Now I like my cats, but I wouldn't consider myself a "cat person". The folks who stopped not only owned nine or so, but they carried photos of them. And not only do they carry around photos of the felines, but they go that extra step and write captions of what the cats would say if they could talk. There was something oddly sweet watching these ladies go on and one about their dear little kitties. Although I felt like kind of a bad mom, considering this is the current picture I have of Sam and it is on my phone. Oh well, I guess I shouldn't tease too much. This was the pic I used have on my phone.

The weather is supposed to burn off today, but now it cool and cloudy. I need to go through the house and open all the windows and get some fresh air in here. I love how cool air smells. I love fall. I can't wait for the leaves to change. It is my favorite time of year.
Happy Saturday everyone!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What a Week!!

Today is the first day where things are feeling a little less frantic.
Sam's first day of school was fantastic. She was so excited and not sad or clingy at all (I think it helped a lot that her teacher was one of the co-op moms last year). After school she was jumping up and down and waving when I came to pick her up. Ben was a little more tired. 4th grade is a tough year. He was a little less thrilled to be back at school, but he has a bunch of buddies in his class this year so that makes it a little better. I just love this pic of them. Ben is such a sweet big brother. He was very protective of Sam and wanted to make sure she was alright on her first day.

Part of my PTA duties yesterday was to put together the annual "BooHoo Breakfast". When Ben was in K there wasn't any kind of welcome for the new parents and moms who were sad had to go cry in their cars. This wasn't okay, so I suggested the PTA do a little welcome reception so that parents could meet each other, get any last minute questions answered and a little needed "there, there, your child will be fine and so will you". This was the third year we have done this and every year we get a few more people. Even though the turn out is always less than I expect it to be, the moms and dads who really seem to need it show up and that makes me glad we are there for them.

Of course with any PTA project I seem to be involved with there was a huge amount of baking. I made 3 batches of cookies (white chocolate macadamia, ranger, PB chip) and planned to make some quick breads (pineapple, zucchini, banana) However, the day before school was a little busier than I thought it would be so I made the executive decision to go and buy some stuff from the QFC bakery. Holy Gouging, Batman. That bakery was spendy. Now the QFC is the closest grocery store and they always have good stuff, but they are expensive. This is going to sound bad, but since it wasn't my money I was spending, I was more okay for spending $6 for 9 mini danish. That's right, they don't even sell things by the dozen. I got a couple of tubs of those and then some mini muffins. (I would really like to add muffin making to my baking skills. It seems the ones I make are good for the first 15 minutes and then after that they get hard. If anyone knows of a way to convert quick breads to muffins, let me know) Anyway, that trip just reaffirmed the fact that baking from scratch it sooooo much cheaper and well worth the 15 minutes of effort.

However the dark side of baking is, of course, the resulting baked goods. The PB chip cookies I made didn't make it to the school. The first few sheets were a little more browned than I wanted and since I hate ugly cookies, they stayed home. Now this wouldn't have been a problem, but the last few sheets I reduced the heat and the cooking time and result was pure evil. E-vell. They were soft and chewy and those PB chips just push them over the top. I can't stop eating them. I guess the good news is that I'm almost out of the "good ones" and I won't eat the ugly ones, so now it is just a waiting game. I think I will pack some in the kids lunches today. The practical side would have packed them up and sent them to work with Joji, but they worked their evil magic and convinced me to keep them home with me. Oh this does not bode well for the diet.

Speaking of "the diet", it has taken some hard hits lately. This past weekend we went to the Melting Pot with the Browns. Have you been there??? It is a fondue restaurant and it was a blast!! For our cheese course we had some type of spinach/artichoke cheesy goodness. It was amazing on Granny Smith apples and of course the crusty bread. For dessert we got the S'mores chocolate and we got rice crispy treats to dip. I'm totally doing that at the Christmas party this year. It was sooo good. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world, if instead of the "Cabbage Soup" diet you could go on the "Fondue Diet"? Oh well, I guess a girl can dream.

So that was some of the craziness that has been my life for the past few days. I have barely had time to read the blogs let alone blog myself. However, now that the kids will be gone for 6 1/2 hours a day every day, I should have a little more free time. Although, I'm a little nervous. That is a lot of time to fill. I suppose if I was one of those girls who hits the ground running with "to-do" list in hand it would be a godsend. Unfortunately, I'm a little more of a slow starter. I'm hoping that my testing will start up soon. I just found out I got a $2 an hour raise. That means I now make twice as much an hour testing as I do for subbing. Hmmmmm, have kids one on one asking them to point to the picture of the school bus, or a class of 25 kindergartners. Tough call. Seriously, the subbing is mainly to get some current class time so when I decide to go back to teaching I will have actually taught in this century. As far as going back to the classroom, I don't see myself going back for a while. Maybe if a K job opened up in a couple years at my kid's school I would think about it. I think I'm about 5 years away from seriously considering going back (much to Joji's chagrins). Right now I'm really enjoying the stay at home mom life.