Category Archives: married life

Chocolate Monday: Cookie dough brownies

cookie dough browniesI’m baaaaaaaccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!

Thanks to the concussion I sustained in my recent car accident (not my fault, I was rear-ended while stopped), I had to take a bit of a hiatus from my blog. I tried to maintain my blog at first, but it turns out when my doctor tells me to limit my screen time, I should do a better job of listening.

I thought I was doing better. My headaches had mostly subsided, I no longer had to nap in the middle of every day and I wasn’t having as many strange emotional outbursts. I was on the mend, so I figured I’d better get caught up on all that grading I’d been neglecting.

Silly me! My headaches rushed back, I was exhausted and my emotions…CRAZY!

So, I did my best to cut out any screen I could, but now that I’m finally starting to feel mostly normal (only like two headaches last week), I’m gonna try this whole blogging thing again.

For my first chocolate blog back, I want to talk about a Pinterest recipe I tried out last week. I had to bake something to reward a few of my students for their reading achievements. I love baking and over the years I’ve built up quite a reputation at my school for my mad skillz in the kitchen. Sometimes I create my own recipes and sometimes I cheat a bit and use other people’s recipes. Not that it matters to my students (or my family). They love it either way.

I love Pinterest. I’m the person who saves all those amazing recipes and then actually makes them. I mean, not all of them. I have dozens of recipes on each of my different food boards (side dishes, main dishes, cookies/bars, desserts, breakfast, crock pot, appetizers, sandwiches, soups, popsicle/ice cream and candy) that I have not yet gotten around to try, but I make something off of Pinterest at least once a week. Usually 3 or 4 times.

I’ve had this recipe for cookie dough brownies saved on my cookies/bars board for quite some time. Last weekend was the perfect time to make them. I wanted something to really wow my students and these looked like they’d do the trick.

And boy did they! When I handed them out to the readers who’d reached their goal, they were ecstatic. More importantly, the rest of my students perked up and asked how many books they had to finish to get one. After I handed them out and my students raved about them, I saw a renewed enthusiasm for silent reading.

Although they took a little extra time and created double the dishes since I had to make brownie batter and cookie dough, they were worth it. The recipe calls for dark chocolate chips, but I knew the Penzy’s Dutch process cocoa powder I was using was going to be a bit stronger than the garden variety Hershey’s, and I don’t really like dark chocolate much, so I opted for semi-sweet chocolate chips, which I hoped would help keep these morsels from being too sweet. I think they did.

The brownies themselves are quite tasty. They aren’t overly dense, but they make a substantial bottom for the treat. They were moist and cooked to perfection. I don’t like when my brownies get crunchy. I am a center brownie girl. I usually dish out the edge brownies to my family members and students and save the amazingly delicious center ones for myself!  Thankfully even the edge brownies in this batch didn’t get crunchy.

The cookie dough topping was sweet and tasted pretty much like the delicious cookie batter I whip up for my regular chocolate chip cookies, but without the danger of raw eggs that I’ll admit I risk every time I make cookies.

Combined they are rich. I can only eat one and cannot imagine two in the same day, much less at the same sitting. My husband says he likes them, but that they are too rich for him–he’d rather have a brownie and a cookie than the two combined. Of course, he prefers his candy in the Skittle or gummy form, so I’m not sure his opinion counts for much in this case.

If you like to bake, I highly suggest giving these a try. They are a real crowd pleaser.

Overall:

Taste: 9/10
Appearance: 8/10
Value: 9/10 (pretty cheap to make)

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Filed under addictions, chocolate, cool links, education, food, good days, life as a teacher, married life, my crazy family, ramblings, reading, teaching, what makes me me

Wildcard Wednesday: Pinterest recipes

I am that person who not only pins recipes on Pinterest, but actually makes them as well. In fact, at this very moment I have two different Pinterest dishes in my oven, hopefully baking to delicious perfection.

Sure, I have a lot more recipes pinned than I’ve managed to try at this point, but I’d say I’ve tried at least 20% of all my pins, and based on all of my friends boards and results, I’d say that’s above average! In fact, one of my friends will pin desserts she wants me to make for her, which I find hysterical. She won’t make them, but she knows there is at least a chance I will.

I don’t go for anything too complicated. Earlier today I glanced through a group of recipes that were housed under one pin because they promised to be delicious meatless main courses. Since my daughter has decided to go vegetarian, I am always looking for good veggie meals the whole family will enjoy (rather than just modifying her dinner). When I went through them I realized not that they were too complicated to make, but that my 7 year old, who was a bit of a picky eater before she gave up meat, would never touch most of the dishes, so I trashed that pin. I end up trashing about 10% of my initial pins because they’ll be too complex or on a full glance I know my family won’t eat them.

I also had to trash a few phenomenal looking recipes I’d pinned because when I went back to them (granted, it might have been a few years later), the pages no longer existed. That definitely made me sad. Luckily for every recipe I have to trash due to a bad link, there are 50 more that look equally good with working links. At least for now.

I’ll admit that I definitely like to look at the recipes more than I like to cook them. But I love all the variety available on Pinterest and how easy it is to flag and tag recipes my family really loves. As much as I loved pouring over cooking magazines (I used to subscribe to three different ones), I really love not having to try to remember which magazine I’d found a particular recipe in. It’s so much easier to just jump on Pinterest and scroll through my saved dishes.

True, I don’t get all the chef’s tips, histories and detailed cooking instructions on Pinterest. I also don’t get the joy of getting mail I actually want and then flipping through a magazine to see everything available. But, I still get glossy pictures and good recipes, so I’d say it’s a good trade off.

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Throwback Thursday: Car accidents

car crash 1It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a car accident. The last car accident I was in was about 13 years ago. My husband, who was then my fiance, and I were driving home from dinner on a cold winter’s night. The roads were slick and my husband saw a row of cars in front of him that were stopped for some reason. Luckily he wasn’t going very fast, so he put the brakes on, but since the roads were slick, he still slid into the car in front of him. It was a pretty small tap and I don’t think any damage would have been done if the SUV behind us had not slid into us as well, pushing us farther into the car in front of us and them into the car that started it all by stopping in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. No one was hurt and we all were able to drive away from the accident.

Then yesterday happened.

I had just turned out of my neighborhood and was on my way to the grocery store when I saw cars up ahead of me stopped so that the lead car could make a left turn into the church parking lot. I put on my brakes and since it was a little slick out, had some trouble stopping. I pumped the brakes like I’ve been taught and although I slid just a tiny bit sideways, was still able to stop in plenty of time without leaving my lane or hitting the cars in front of me. My stop actually left me with almost a full car length in front of me, so I was relieved.

Well, until I grabbed my tea and glanced in my rear view mirror to make sure it was clear. It was not. I saw the black mini van heading right toward me and I knew there was no way she was going to be able to stop in time. Even though I saw the impact coming, I was not ready for it. She slammed into me and my car jumped forward a bit. My head followed suit. So did my tea, my cellphone, my CD’s…pretty much everything in my car.

After the shock of the initial impact, I went to reach for my phone, which I always place in a holder on my dashboard, and realized it wasn’t there. It had been thrown onto the floor of the passenger seat along with the CD’s which usually sit in a nook near my gear shift. My steering wheel, dashboard, and windshield were covered in tea that I’d grabbed to take a drink from. It tea was in a travel mug with a pretty small opening, but the impact shook me enough that it was everywhere.

I got my phone and called my husband. I was only about a minute away from my house, but on a fairly  busy road and I asked him to call the police for me. Then I got out of the car to check on the damage.

The back end of my car was pretty ugly. The bumper was cracked just about everywhere and barely hanging on. The rear panel was smushed in, which meant my trunk was pushed in. In fact, my trunk is pushed in so that both sides are now exposed to the elements. I can look into my trunk while standing next to it. My driver’s side tail light is busted as well. And there is a rather large dent on the upper part of the trunk. My poor car is not a pretty sight.

A police officer showed up pretty quickly. We pulled our cars, which were still driveable (hers did not appear to have a scratch on it), into the church parking lot. I think I was in a bit of shock. I understood what was happening, but I felt like I was working in slow motion. The officer asked me if I was ok and I told him I was. Within about twenty minutes we were able to leave and I went straight home.

Thankfully my children were not in the car with me. Not only do I think it would have scared them, but it turns out that I’m not quite ok. As soon as I got home and had a chance to process it all, I realized my shoulders and neck were sore and my head ached. I sat down in my favorite chair and pulled the heating blanket on me because I was freezing. It was a darn cold day and waiting outside with the accident for about 40 minutes had set a real chill into me.

When I’d thawed a bit and my husband got everyone some lunch, I took a big 800 mg ibuprofen pill to help with the pain. It didn’t.

I ended up taking 3 more over the course of the day and they did nothing to make me feel better. I took a few short naps and when I woke my headache was gone for about 5 minutes, but then it came right back. I’ve now had it for about 26 hours. My neck and shoulders are pretty sore too.

Luckily we are off school today, so I got an extra day to recuperate. I tried to get in to see my doctor, but she was booked solid, so my appointment is first thing tomorrow morning. I’m not sure what can be done, but I figure I should probably get checked out to make sure there’s nothing serious going on.

As soon as my husband gets home we are going to pick up a rental car. Although my car can probably be driven, I don’t feel safe making my 45 minute commute to work (with my two kids in the car) in it until it’s been inspected, which won’t happen until later this week.

So far I’ve spent two hours on the phone (two different calls) with my insurance company. I feel a little better about everything because the accident was not my fault, but I know it’s still going to be a real process getting it all taken care of.

I feel bad for the other driver. She was so upset. It was her son’s birthday and she was just trying to take him to a late breakfast at Denny’s. She had a lot going on in her personal life and was a wreck. I did my best to calm her down and tell her it would all get worked out. I know it will, but we both had pretty rotten days yesterday.

 

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Wildcard Wednesday: Cycling classes

As part of my newish gym membership, I have not only been going fairly religiously, but I’ve branched out from my usual treadmill, elliptical, and Arc trainer routines. I’ve even added more than just my occasional weight machines. Unlike Planet Fitness, Life Time Fitness has lots of classes.

Last week, I decided to try my hand at my first class: EDG cycling. I’ve never been to any sort of cycling or spin class before. Aside from the Zumba class I go to once a week, which is taught by one of my co-workers in the foods lab at our school, I haven’t attended any type of exercise class since I was in my mid-20’s and I went to Curves gym.

When my husband and I first started dating, we spent a lot of time riding our bikes down the local bike trail. Sometimes we would ride for hours. It was a lot of fun and after I got a super comfy gel seat, it didn’t even hurt much. But that bike has gotten little use over the last few years. In fact it’s actually gotten more than a bit rusted and bent out of shape over the years. And it’s been almost three decades since I’ve ridden a stationary bike of any kind. And back then, the bike didn’t have fancy digital equipment.

This new fangled bike was fancy and a bit confusing. It didn’t help that I couldn’t find the studio at first so I came to the class right as it was starting. Luckily one of the class regulars was kind enough to help me set up my bike and get me started. Granted, I had no idea what the instructor was talking about when she said to turn the dial to take the resistance up. I still don’t quite get what she meant by working out in zones 1, 2, 3 or 4, but I rode that bike. I even added tons of resistance by actually hitting the lever that knocks the resistance up by rather large leaps rather than gradually dialing it up. Oops!

I was definitely sweating by the end of those 45 minutes. I was also exhausted. And man oh man, did my rear end hurt. Those seats are not even remotely padded or comfortable.

But, despite my cluelessness and my sore derriere, I went back for another cycling class a few days later. This time I figured out the knob to slowly add resistance. I was also able to make it through all the “out of the saddle” portions of the class, which I’ll admit I could not do the first go around.

By my third class, I felt a bit like an old pro. I could add more resistance, even using that little power lever when I didn’t have to. And not only did I make it through all the stand up parts, during the last song when we had the choice to focus on speed, strength or stamina, I took a turn at all three, spending about a third of the song off my rear and standing as I peddled when I didn’t even have to.

And yes, my butt is still a bit sore from those horrid seats, but I’m already looking at the schedule for my next cycling class.

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Throwback Thursday: Firefly and Serenity

I have loved Joss Whedon for about two decades now. Ever since I saw my first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer twenty years ago, I was hooked. Now, I’ll admit it, I didn’t see the first episode on it’s premiere night. I actually saw it when the WB reran it over the weekend. The show caught me a bit off guard as I’d seen the movie at the theater during its original run. This was due in large part to the fact that I actually worked at a movie theater at the time. If I hadn’t, I might not have seen it. The TV show was nothing like the campy, but fun, movie I remembered from high school. I was a bit confused about the different school and characters, but when her new principal mentioned the burning down of the gym at her old school, I realized it was still some version of the movie I knew.

I faithfully watched (and rewatched and rerewatched) every episode of Buffy. When Angel split off with his own series, I watched that too. I was especially enthralled when Spike managed to survive the seventh season of Buffy and moved on over to Angel.

Somehow I managed to miss news about Whedon’s show Firefly, at least until right after it was cancelled. Not that it was hard to miss considering how little publicity Fox gave it. Or the fact they aired the episodes out of order which confused people. Or that they only had it on the air for 12 of the 13 episodes. It was almost like Fox did everything in its power to tank the show.

Thankfully a friend of mine told me about it and lent me his DVD’s. From the moment I watched the first episode, I was hooked. And then I was devastated that I only got 13 near perfect episodes to love.

So when Serenity was made, I was in line on opening day. And I loved it. To this day it is still one of my favorite movies. In fact, I love it so much that each year I introduce my Film Lit students to it as part of their final. A surprising number of them end up really liking it as well and then go on to watch Firefly. Some even go on to watch Buffy and Angel. Of course, that might have something to do with the Buffy clips I show too.

Recently I learned that there are Serenity comic books. I knew that Whedon decided to add to the Buffy legacy by creating what would have been the 8th season of Buffy in comic book form. Right after they came out, my husband bought me the first few for my birthday. Then a friend lent me the rest of them. They were fun, but not quite the way I saw the show going (look, if it doesn’t somehow end with Buffy and Spike back together my interest level wanes).

I knew he’s also created Angel comic books, but I didn’t look into those. I liked the show, but it’s my third favorite of his shows (Dollhouse is my least favorite).

Until two weeks ago I had no idea he’d also created a comic book series for Serenity. When I found out, I logged on to my library to see if by chance they had them. Amazingly enough, they did. I put what I thought were the first four on hold, however, at this point I’m still not sure the order of the books. I’ve looked online and while I found a post about the correct order, it lists books I can’t find at my library or on Amazon. It also definitely does not list them in the same order my library (and Amazon does). So although I am a bit confused, I’m going to read them in the order I think they go in and if it’s not right, I’ll be ok with that and just enjoy them.

So far I’ve only read the first one (I think), Those Left Behind. It was definitely fun. It probably would have made a great episode of the show. I love seeing the characters drawn just like the actors and I love reading their words, which of course I hear in my head in the voices of the actors. I love getting to “see” Nathan Fillion play out more adventures of my beloved Mal. It’s not quite as good as more episodes would have been, but it’s a nice consolation.

I may have to get copies of them for my classroom for students who fall in love with the movie to read.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Christmas with my mom

For the first time in over 20 years, I celebrated Christmas with my mom. Well, not actual Christmas day. That was reserved for my husband, our children and me. But, I did spend a large portion of December 23rd with my mom and that’s the closest I’ve spent to Christmas with her since I was 14.

I won’t go into the particulars of our rocky relationship. It would take too long and I doubt anyone would be very interested in it. The short version goes like this: My mom and dad split up when I was 5. My mom remarried when I was 6 and moved us over 2,000 miles away to Southern California. I spent the summers and a few Christmases with my dad, but for the most part, I spent all of my time with my mom.

And that was fine until I hit middle school. Then, we just couldn’t get along. I was not some crazy rebellious child. Unless you count wanting to watch Growing Pains and Just the Ten of Us as some major act of rebellion. TV was not the only thing we could not agree one. She did not let me listen to music or hang out with friends or do much of anything that required me to leave the house out of her supervision.

Again, I was not a bad kid. I was in honors classes. I got good grades. I went to church on Wednesdays and Sundays. I said, “yes ma’am” to most requests. But I was miserably unhappy, so one summer when I went to visit my dad, I didn’t return.

For the most part, my life got much better. My mom and I didn’t talk for nearly 4 years, but eventually we got in contact and slowly we started rebuilding our relationship.

I actually visited my mom one December before I graduated from college. I was actually visiting good friends who had moved to San Diego and since she was only a few hours up the coast and my friends wanted to visit LA anyway, they dropped me off at my mom’s and I spent two days there. It was close to New Year’s Eve and I spent one full day at Disneyland with my sister. No Christmas presents were exchanged and I’m not even sure my mom still had her tree up, so I don’t really count it as a Christmas visit.

This year though, my mom came to visit my grandmother for the holidays. My grandmother is 97 and has a host of medical issues, but she is so stubborn and fiercely independent that she refuses to leave her house. My mom has started coming to visit a few times a year to help out. While it’s up to my kids and I to make the two hour trip to see her and my grandmother, over the last few years, at least my kids have kind of gotten to know their grandmother.

As an added bonus, this year my kids got to give my mom the gifts we got her and they got to open Christmas presents from her with her. It’s the first time they’ve ever done that. The visit actually went better and longer than I expected. Of course, this was due in large part to the fact that my mom asked us to take her to Walmart so she could run some errands for my grandma. If I ever needed proof that I love my grandma it was spending time in Walmart two days before Christmas. Mad house does not even begin to describe the chaos of the place. It was the stuff my nightmares are made of!

Still, we had a little gift exchange, ate some pizza and talked a bit. Not about anything serious or deep, but my kids got to tell my mom a bit about their lives and she got to hug them and tell them a bit about their cousins who live in North Carolina with her. After about four hours, my kids got pretty bored, which is not shocking considering there are no toys to play with and two adults they don’t know very well. It didn’t exactly feel like a Christmas celebration, but considering it’s taken over 20 years to get this far, I’m calling it a win.

The kids and I are going back up to see her and my grandma later this week. This time the visit will be a bit shorter and they’ll get to have a sleepover with their cousins, so all of our hearts might be more in it.

My biggest hope is that it doesn’t take another 20 years for us to come together at the holidays.

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Wildcard Wednesday: Laundry is the bane of my existance

I do not like cleaning my house. I know that many people are in the same boat I am in. We clean because we have to, not because we enjoy it. Sure, there are those complete weirdos out there who love the thought of getting out a vacuum or a scrub brush, putting in some real elbow grease and getting things to sparkle.

I will never be that girl.

As much as I generally despise most household chores, I will admit that when I clean my kitchen or bathroom or living room, I do get a small wave of accomplishment and maybe even a bit of pride in how good it looks. It’s never long lasting and it’s never enough to make me want to clean, but it’s enough for me to at least feel good about the time I spent cleaning.

This is true of pretty much every chore I do around the house…except laundry.

Laundry is the bane of my existence. No matter how hard I try, there is always at least one load of laundry in my house that needs to be done. I’m not sure how it is even physically possible for four people to go through clothes the way that we do, but every single time I turn around, I have to throw another load into the washer. Rarely in my house does anyone wear more than one set of clothes per day. We use towels more than once. We wear jeans more than once. We wear jammies for multiple days. Every weekend I wash at least four loads. And yet one of the five laundry baskets in this house is ALWAYS overflowing.

Oddly, it’s usually my son’s.

I don’t actually mind gathering up the laundry. Putting it in the washer and starting it is on real problem either. Moving it from the washer to the dryer is pretty simple too. However, the second that drier buzzer goes off indicating those clothes now need to be taken out of the dryer and folded…that’s when my body starts rebelling and I do everything I can think of to avoid folding clothes.

I hate folding clothes in large part because no matter what I do there are always clothes to be folded. I feel like Sisyphus every time I even get near the laundry room. In fact, right now, I am staring at a clothes basket full of clean laundry that is just waiting to be folded and put away. And I know I have to do it because the next load is in the dryer, which stopped quite some time ago.

Despite my knowledge that I will eventually have to give up, give in and get folding, I have been known to hit the “damp dry” setting on my dryer two or three times to avoid the inevitable.

How can we have so much laundry? Why does it never cease? Why do I dream of being suffocated in a laundry avalanche?

Ok, it might not be quite that bad, but if I had to pick one task to never do for the rest of my life, it would be fold laundry. It’s not that the task is hard. It’s not. I know it. It’s so very simple. It’s just the frequency with which it has to be done that makes me look for absolutely anything, and I do mean anything, to keep me from having to grab that basket and start folding. I’m pretty sure I’d rather watch golf on TV than fold clothes.

How many times can I turn the dryer back on before I start doing real damage to my electric bill?

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