What's on your night stand?

I find it fun to take a look at the simple, smaller things in life and really pause to notice them fully.  Last night as I went to bed, I noticed a funny little collection on my night stand.  What's on yours?  It's fun to see what's there! Pictured:

"The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver (currently not being read!)

"Goodnight Moon" & "The Snowy Day" (constantly being read!!)

1 old journal from my time in Spain studying

2 old handkerchiefs of my grandmother's

1 black and white (my favorite wedding picture!) of my hubby and I smooching while the guest lit sparklers all around us!

1 ikea lamp in "stainless steel" finish

Gazpacho Night...

In Madrid over the past couple of summers when I was studying for my M.A., my "señora" (aka Spanish mommy) would whip up gazpacho, keep it in the fridge and serve it cool with sliced cheese, crusty bread and fresh fruit.  In an effort to cure my Spain sickness (similar to homesickness), I prepared it tonight and cannot wait to enjoy a cool soup on a humid warm evening in Maryland. My version of the recipe: (its very fool proof and forgiving, so adapt as needed) (Note: Place all ingredients in the blender / food processsor)

3-4 baby seedless cucumbers (or regular cucumbers with the big seeds removed)

1 small-medium chopped onion

two medium ripe tomatoes (seeded)

splash of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

2 cloves of chopped garlic (less if you aren't a "garlic person")

splash of olive oil (more if you are obsessed like me)

optional: 1 green pepper (I don't looooove green peppers, so I omit them)

salt and pepper to taste

Blend.  Chill in fridge as long as possible.  Serve with crusty bread chunks (or crackers or with fresh parsley to garnish or a dollop of greek yogurt for a creamy finish!)




Homemade Wedding

We got a wedding invitation in the mail yesterday and it made me start to think / daydream about some of the fun ideas that we had when planning our own wedding oh so many moons ago. 1. Wine bottle guest book

This was the best!  We bought 10 bottles of wine (ranging from cheap0 to more expensive for the 10 year anniversary bottle) and made labels that the guests signed for each year.  Now, to celebrate our Anniversary each year, we have a bottle of wine ready and can read all of the signatures and messages from the guests of the wedding.

2.  Table "places" instead of Numbers

Instead of doing tables with numbers, we decided to name the tables after our favorite places on earth.  The tables' names were places we had traveled to together and we shared a funny story or memory on each table place card.  This was a good way for guests to kill some time and read a little story in case they were feeling shy at their table :)

3.  Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Favors - with homemade tags!

These were a fun way to give guests something to take home with them and included the information about the charities that we donated to in honor of several of our guests.

The high school perspective...

The other day, when talking a little bit to my high school students about the death of Osama Bin Laden, I realized two things: 1.  I am very old to the high schoolers sometimes.

2.  They are very very young!

On 9/11, I was a freshman in college headed to my Women in Literature English lecture and these kids were only 5, 6, or 7 years old.  So, when they say ridiculously insensitive things about what they hear in the media, it all starts making a little bit more sense.  In an effort to try and see things from their perspective (isn't that what being a teacher is really all about!), I have begun to think of how scary, odd, strange or absolutely bizarre that day must have been in 2001 for current high schoolers and why their perspective on the day is COMPLETELY different than my own.

In my searching for a little understanding of what it may have been like that day for my students, I have found (thanks to the blog a news source which shows younger audiences the current events of the world without terrifying them and think it is just great.

Check it out if you are ever in the tough situation of explaining the world to a child :

"Here There Everywhere" -

It is just so intriguing to think of how other people perceive things, especially young minds.

Tomorrow we are discussing (in spanish, of course!) what could / would the world be like without terrorism and I am so curious to see what their little developing brains come up with!




Things my beagle has taught me...

Yesterday afternoon, the little beagle and I spent some quality time on the back deck.  Him sniffing, me reading a book (aka the best afternoon ever!) and I began thinking of the little life lessons that he has taught me in our 3 year relationship thus far. 1.  Enjoy the small, less noticeable moments

2.  Take it all in and take a deep breath (or in his case, lots of small sniffing breaths)

3.  Sit outside and turn off the laptop / cell phone / tv (he never needs them to be happy!)

4.  The joy of food (you should see this boy eat dinner, its quite a show!!)

Thanks Frank, for being great.


Your non-beagle Mom

Shutterfly Share Sites and Pinhole Press Books

Shutterfly has a great new feature (thanks Katie!) called SHUTTERFLY SHARE that helps you to create a family website for photos and uploading of all sorts of goodies - video, photos, etc. - to share with specific people.  Its a great way to avoid posting too much personal stuff on Facebook (which can get a little scary) and have a unique website created and monitored by you for more personal things to share. This is looking like a great way to share baby pics in a couple of months! :)

I made a mock one to share on this blog so that you can see how to get started - Good Work Shutterfly!!

Also, @ Pinhole Press has beautiful high-quality photo gifts and I am loving their non-cheesy yet classy baby photo books.


Baking in Honor of "Mimi Pie"

Yesterday, my grandmother (called "Mimi Pie" by my grandfather) passed away after a short and tough battle with leukemia at the age of 84.  While the sadness that my family is experiencing is terrible, many beautiful things come from such a challenge. One such result from missing my grandma is a desire to put together memories in order to remember her in every way possible.

Thus, today is baking day!  I am whipping up two of her best recipes and our family favorites.  It's high time I learn, so I can pass them on to the little ones some day!

#1 - Amish Sugar Cakes (adapted from several family sources and developed to perfection over the years!)

5 cups flour (measure 5 unsifted cups and then sift)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 scant tbs. baking soda

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup shortening (butter is fine)

1 cup "thick milk" (buttermilk)

2 eggs

Combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt; work in the shortening as for pie dough.  Then make a hollow in the center and put in the sugar, the milk which has the baking soda mixed in, and the eggs slightly beaten.

Mix together thoroughly, but do not beat.  (Mix only until dry ingredients are absorbed; dough will be sticky moist.)

Add more flour if needed.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Sprinkle surface with flour and work dough into small balls, then place each one onto a greased and lightly floured cookie sheet and "smush" with your hand to create a little pancake shape.  Sprinkle sugar over the surface of each cookie / "cake".

Place 6-8 total on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove from pan within 2 minutes and place into a bag once completely cooled.

#2 - "Bunny Breads" (can also be easily changed into "Reindeer Breads", depending on the season!)

1 package dry yeast (+ 1/4 cup warm water to activate)

1 cup milk - scalded and then cooled to luke warm

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

4 1/2 - 5 cups sifted flour

2 eggs

2 tsp grated lemon peel

1 cup golden raisins

baking cherries for Rudolf's noses or Bunny tails

1.  Soften active dry yeast in warm water.  Combine milk, sugar, salt and butter and cool until luke warm.  Stir in 2 cups of flour, add eggs and mix well.  Stir in softened yeast.  Add lemon peel, raisins, and remaining flour, to make a soft ball of dough.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

2.  Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.

3.  Place in lightly greased bowl and allow to rise in warm, draft free place for 1.5 hours until doubled.

4.  Punch down and allow to rise again for about 1 hour until doubled again.

5.  Divide into small balls and roll into 14" strips - then form into bunny shape (infiniti shape with ears...)

6.  Add a small lump of dough to create "tail" of bunny.

7.  Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Glaze: (add after bunnies are cooled)

Mix together 2 cups of sifted 10x sugar, 1/4 cups hot water, 1 tsp butter - brush onto dough once cooled after baking.


Stay tuned for photos of the bunnies in a couple of hours! <3 M