"No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy. A motto of the
British Special Air Force is: 'Those who risk, win.' "

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Traditions

I am sitting in my nice, quiet living room... Christmas trees alight... enjoying a glass of wine, and my latest tradition (since last year) of watching The Holiday. As previously stated, I LOVE this movie. It's has characters I connect to... a fanatasic soundtrack... British people/ settings... And some of my favorite movie quotes ever...

Here are a few:

~I've found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said "Journeys end in lovers meeting." What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said "love is blind". Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Yes, you are looking at one such individual. And I have willingly loved that man for over three miserable years! The absolute worst years of my life! The worst Christmas', the worst Birthday's, New Years Eve's brought in by tears and valium. These years that I have been in love have been the darkest days of my life. All because I've been cursed by being in love with a man who does not and will not love me back. Oh god, just the sight of him! Heart pounding! Throat thickening! Absolutely can't swallow! All the usual symptoms.

~You're supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God's sake!

~You broke my heart. And you acted like somehow it was my fault, my misunderstanding, and I was too in love with you to ever be mad at you, so I just punished myself! For years! But you waltzing in here on my lovely Christmas holiday, and telling me that you don't want to lose me whilst you're about to get MARRIED, somehow newly entitles me to say, it's over. This - This twisted, toxic THING between us, is finally finished! I'm miraculously done being in love with you! Ha! I've got a life to start living...

What exactly has got into you?

But I think what I've got is something slightly resembling, gumption.

~I'm looking for corny in my life.

~ I understand feeling as small and as insignificant as humanly possible. And how it can actually ache in places you didn't know you had inside you. And it doesn't matter how many new haircuts you get, or gyms you join, or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends... you still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong or how you could have misunderstood. And how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy. And sometimes you can even convince yourself that he'll see the light and show up at your door. And after all that, however long all that may be, you'll go somewhere new. And you'll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade.

~Graham: Bad?
Amanda: Weird. Kissing a total stranger.
Graham: Really? I do it all the time.

~You look like my Barbie!

Now I am off to dad's... where our Xmas even tradition includes ordering pizza and the brothers opening the gifts from each other. Then it's off to church, followed by me wrapping dad's gifts @ about 1am... I am hoping this year I can wrap them BEFORE church-- we shall see.

After Xmas morning @ Dad's I will head to Gma's... and then, if anyone in the area needs a drink, Josh and I will be hosting around 10pm Christmas day... feel free to join us!

How about everyone else, what are your traditions?

Advent Blog Break: Horoscope

Never fear... the last installment of the Advent Blog WILL occur... it's even planned out... just waiting for the right time. While you wait, take a gander @ my Christmas Eve horoscope... I like it.

Taking few risks is not a guarantee that you will have a safe journey through life.

You feel that you're a part of something much larger today -- and, of course, you're right! It's a good time to subsume your personal feelings about stuff and let the group take over as much as you can.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 23~ CHAOS!

Well, I guess since I had such a great day YESTERDAY, I was due to have an extra INSANE day today... ARGH! This is why the holidays get on my nerves! Everything comes crashing down at once-- at the most inopportune time...

First I wake up this AM to Josh informing me that his toilet overflowed downstairs. Fantastic. I know there is an issue down there that is in desperate need of a plumber-- but that is one of those things that is SUCH a hassle. Soon though... it WILL happen SOON!

Next we head to Hobby Lobby so I can get some stuff for a scrapbook I was making for Robinette's son... I hate shopping on normal days. I REALLY hate shopping during holidays. Luckily HL was not too bad... but the clerk was chatty and I just wasn't in the mood.

Traffic sucked, though I dealt pretty well with that.

Next Josh was all edgy-- he ended up having to go into work instead of heading to his dad's in Atl... completely sucky.

So then I get a call from my aunt... apparently Grandma dropped the sewing machine down on her hand while trying to change the bobbin. Gma's sewing machine weighs about as much as I do... yep, broken hand.... plus stitches. Luckily the aunts were here to deal with walk in clinics and emergency rooms.


Phone rings... It's brother John... he has (for the 2nd time in a week) locked his keys in his car (in basically the SAME parking lot as last time)... He was in M-ville to pick William up @ the airport... Will's plane was (OF COURSE) delayed... so Jhn went to a store... So I go get John-- head to the airport to get Will... this takes I swear 30+ mins... CRAZY traffic there... CRAZIER people there... Then I take them to Dad's, drop Will off, get John's spare key, and drive him BACK to M-ville.


I was supposed to run with Leigh... but as the rain kept up... and ALL THIS INSANITY... THAT didn't happen.

Next it was off to Chez Robinette to assemble the scrapbook. That was actually the calmest part of the day. It was great to see the girls and to work on something that caused NO stress to me whatsoever.

I then went to Gma's for dinner and to see how she was... Now I'm home and looking for plane tickets to LA for New Year's... woof.

I seriously want to lock myself in my closet and just sleep until March... if I disappear, DON'T come looking for me!

And to everyone out there that is facing serious stress... my thoughts are with you. I realize that my issues are MINOR compared to many... but still. DAMN!

Advent Blog: Day 22~ Reuniting

One of the great things about the holidays is friends (& family members) coming back home. Yesterday I spent most of the day with Marianne and Leigh... we did makeovers @ MAC... did some shopping... hung out @ the house... and then headed to the Hilton where some other people from HS were meeting. My favorite quote from that gathering-- "I was hoping you would be here!" (Thanks Shelley!)

After we left the bar, we came back to my place, enjoyed some appetizers, and purused old yearbooks. I won't go into too much detail... but I will say I have not laughed that hard in a LONG time. I really needed that-- esp right here before Xmas. The days before Christmas are usually nearly the death of me... and it was so nice to have a day with friends, laughter, and memories.

Marianne even brought some pants from the era... she had the jeans that were... well, AMAZING! To say they were high-waisted would have been an understatement... AND they also had the hammer loop on the side-- we didn't have a hammer (though Leigh does need one for her comedy act)... but my Hannah Montana hand sanitizer with belt clip worked nicely on the loop.

The leg warmers she sported with them really added a nice touch too I think.

Next comedic incident involved that bottle of chili tequila from the Xmas party. Leigh has been infatuated with it. It's all she talks about... well, that and a certain someone, but that's neither here nor there. Leigh's curiosity about what the pepper tastes like finally got the best of her... And well, the pictures speak for themselves:

Oh yeah, and Leigh-- I am REALLY sorry about scratching your face out in that pic from the 7th grade yearbook... I'm sure you deserved it... even though you and I neither one remember much from that year...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 21~ Holiday Parties

... specifically MY holiday party...


~chili pepper flavored tequila (seriously tasted like pimento cheese- and NOT in a good way!)
~Square Christmas sweaters
~Hip scarves
~New lunch bags
~My new Wish Necklace-- to be fearless-- which ironically has a DRAGON charm on it :)
~Alice giving drinking advice to minors
~Buffalo Chicken Dip, pizza dip, chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate chip cheese ball
~HS friends reunited... Mexico trip girls reunited (aka the cast of As the Wind Blows)
~shots of random liquids

~Princess 1/2 Marathon training boxes/ gear
~Champagne, sugar cubes, cranberry juice, and grenadine
~Old friends and new friends

This pic is so random-- there is so much going on.. I love it!

Josh shows off HIS belly dance skills... Marianne joins in... HILARITY ensues

Showing off our new hip scarves-- or "Belly Dance Belts" as I like to call them


With Jana and Angie...a mini Legend reunion

It IS a tacky Christmas! Josh and Leigh are the winners-- esp Leigh's very SQUARE sweater.. Josh is hiding is Roman nativity scene tie

Ready to Run!

Pepper tequila= NOT a good idea!
Leigh: I will do ANYTHING you want if you do another shot and eat a pepper!
Me: Um, no.

Party People!

For more party pics-- Click

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 20~ RICK ROLLED!

I admit it... I have a HUGE crush on Rick Astley and have since the late 80's/ early 90's... And I am so glad he is back, popping up left and right to RICK ROLL people... so I am Rick Rolling you for Christmas!

Advent Blog: Day 19~ Teacher Gifts

Every year I get a variety of gifts from students... Usually it runs from coffee mugs and candles to ornaments and candy... Last year I even got a Bible-- true story!

But this year takes the cake... BEST TEACHER GIFT EVER!

Yep, a bottle of vodka!

(For the record-- the student's mom works @ the school and is a buddy... but it was still hilarious-- and her mom said she was embarrassed to bring it to me-- which was obvious as she rolled her eyes when she said, "Here Ms. Wilson-- don't open it here... wait till you get home.")


Advent Blog: Day 18~ Holiday Movies

One of the great things about being off for the holidays is having time to watch movies... There are some GREAT Christmas movies-- from animated to comedy to drama... So here are a few of my favorites that I will be enjoying over the next week or so:

Advent Blog: Day 17~ Gingerbread

Yes, I realize that ONCE AGAIN I am behind on my advent blog... I will catch up now... promise! If it makes you feel any better, I have kept up nicely with my Advent box...

So.. gingerbread... First of all, here is the history of this Christmas time treat:

My mom used to make elaborate gingerbread houses. She won all kinds of awards. At school we often do "faux gingerbread houses" with the kids. In other words, we make gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. The last couple of years we have further cheated and done Christmas Trees with ice cream cones. We give the kids icing and candy and the decorate away...

Well this year Suzanne and I went back to our graham cracker ways... deciding that we would make enough for her class and mine... so 35+ houses... So last Sunday Suzanne and my friend Leigh came over... I made a couple of pitchers of margaritas... and with Josh's help we knocked those puppies out in no time.

And Thursday at school we let the kids decorate... They had a blast! My 5th graders helped Suzanne's 1st graders-- in some cases vice versa. We made a huge mess... there was lots of laughing... and even icing in eyebrows! (I myself managed to get icing on the BACK of my head. No idea-- don't ask!)

So, for those of you with kids in need of something to occupy their time-- esp now that school is out (YAY!) this is a great activity. The icing we used to put the houses together-- which incidently sets up like brick mortar-- is powdered sugar, Wilton's merengue powder, and warm water. The kids just used regular cake icing to decorate-- you can use food coloring to make it more festive if you want...

If you are not so much into construction, get a box of sugar cones... color some white icing green... and do Christmas Trees. Equally fun-- and a bit easier.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 16~ Shopping

OK, I hate shopping. I do not view it as a luxury or a favorite pastime... I view it as a nuisance. And I feel there is some ettiquette that should be observed in shopping-- especially Christmas shopping.

First of all, I spend everyday of my life teaching 10 yr olds the lifeskills-- things like patience... caring...sense of humor. PLEASE don't make me have to use my teacher voice and teach you, ADULTS, these same lifeskills while at Target or Kroger. Seriously-- pushing? grabbing? calling others names? gah! GROW UP! Sharing is caring! (that was for you Autumn!)

Next up: loitering. This happens everytime I go to the grocery store. And it is more of a problem in those grocery stores that like to put displays up in the aisles, thus making it impossible for 2 carts to go down either side of the aisle @ the same time. DO NOT STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AISLE AND HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH OTHERS! Especially if this conversation (1) can be had later, say, IN THE F-ing CAR!, (2) is NOT relevant to anything on that aisle, (3) is being had with someone you see daily, (4) if it is with someone you haven't seen in AGES, for God's sake, schedule a time to get a drink or a coffee and catch up-- GET OUT OF MY WAY! You are blocking the chocolate chips!!

Now, for those of you that may be clerks in the grocery stores.. or any store, really. It is not necessary, nor does it make me move any faster, if you ATTEMPT to scan my items at the speed of light. It's really just obnoxious. And it ends up taking you longer as you have to scan things multiple times to get it to work. Slow and steady wins the race.

Lastly, and this is from last year's shopping experience... if you are a slightly scary woman that manages a liquor store... LET THE CUTE MALE ASSOCIATE carry my box to the car... he can do it! And I would rather it be him... than you... the She-Ra that exclaims, "I ain't NO lady!"

And I will leave you with this: If someone gets rowdy or hateful with you while shopping... sometimes it's ok for you "teach them a lesson." But remember... Don’t go ninja-ing nobody who don’t need to be ninjad! (Thanks Leigh!!)

West Virginia Ninja

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 15~ Music, pt. 2

OK, I know I already did one entry on Xmas music... but that was all about silly Christmas songs... this time I decided I would share some of the "modern" Christmas songs I really like:

I've actually never seen that version of the video before... but anyway, you get the drift. Besides, Johnny Depp is fun to look at...

And finally-- this is a song that I really like-- but this version CREEPS me out... Now, we all know I LOVE me some Dolly... I am JOLENE afterall... And Rod Stewart is fine doing his own thing... But Dolly and Rod together is completely WRONG! I first heard this version Saturday-- on my way to Shop with a Cop-- ass early. At first I thought I was imagining this frightening experience... but Josh was there and verified it was really happening... So I felt I should share... you know, since it's the holidays and all... Sharing is caring:

Advent Blog: Day 14~ Charity

'Tis the Season.

Of course, it is important to help those in need all year-- and I try to do that. But it seems that it is especially so during this time of year. Perhaps it is the Christian reminder-- WWJD? Perhaps it is the realization of how much STUFF we have, while others have so little. Maybe it's the just the weather. Who knows.

The past several Christmases I have been in a funk. I have not had the Christmas spirit. This year has been somewhat better, but still not up to my old-fashioned PEP.

One event that usually puts things in perspective for me, and makes me feel the spirit somewhat is Shop with a Cop. Several cities around the country sponsor this event. Here the 3 local police agencies raise $$ all year. They, along with other community clubs and sponsors, host needy children one morning at Walmart. Each child gets a gift card with whatever the amount for that year is (this year it was $150) to spend. They are, of course, encouraged to spend it on themselves, but many spend the majority of it on their families.

Each child shops with a police officer (hence, Shop with a COP), and a civilian. I always volunteer to help wrap gifts-- I am nosy and like to see what the kids get.

Last year one of the local papers ran a great story on the event... here is the link:

This year Josh took some pictures of Miche and I wr-wr-wrapping (as Pete says)

Through the years we have had some HILARIOUS Shop with a Cop stories... Several years ago Pete and I went to Aubrey's for "ONE drink and maybe an appetizer for dinner"... HOURS and MANY DRINKS later, we are at another bar all because Pete is chasing "some chick from Maryville College"... as a side note, that chick is now his wife, so all this was TOTALLY worth it... That night I ended up staying in the guest room. I woke up the next AM to Pete's blaring alarm-- Pete was still unconscious. I wake him-- he JUMPS up-- "Shop with a Cop? Is that today?!" Needless to say, I look (and feel) ROUGH... the manager @ Walmart insists that I wear a Santa hat (as I was scaring the children)... Miche comes up laughing-- as she had receieved some drunk dials the previous evening-- "How ya feeling?" My reply? "Like ASS!"

Another year, one kid asks his civilian, "Does Walmart sell Jack Daniels?"
Civilian: "Um, no."
Kid: "Papaw's gonna be pissed!"

And last year we were all waiting for the kids to arrive and we notice a strange odor in the air. An "herbish" odor if you will. Keep in mind, we are surrounded by cops. Turns out, some guy has stolen a beer, gone to the restroom in the layaway (right next to where we are), and is smoking and drinking. So one of the MANY cops goes to arrest him. While listening to his rights, dude finishes his beer in one swig.

So, no matter what you choose to do-- Angel Tree, Shop with a Cop, feeding the homeless, or just donating $$... find a charity and give. Give your time... money if you can... and help share what Christmas is all about. Who knows, it just might help you find the spirit too. Hey! It worked for Scrooge!

Advent Blog: Day 13~ Christmas Cards

I love getting mail all year long! Not bills, junk mail, and credit card offers-- but REAL mail... cards, letters, postcards, etc. I especially love getting, and sending, Christmas Cards. I always hang every card I get up where I can see and enjoy them during the holiday.

Having Friday off allowed me to also get it together enough to take photos for this year's Christmas card. I have sent a cheesy photo Christmas card since I have lived on my own. And yes, they are always of me and the cat(s). The original picture was just me and Khaki. For those of you that never had the pleasure of knowing Miss Khaki, let me just tell you! She was opinionated, cranky, and, for the record, not a fan of wearing a kitty-sized Santa hat. In one of the outtakes from the first year, Khaki is actually biting my face! Another outtake made it on

Yeah, the Grinch ain't got nothing on Khaki!

So this year we took 2 sets of Xmas card photos... Leigh came and lent her assistance with the pet photography. First we decided to take one of me, the cats, AND Josh-- that we will send to mutual friends... Josh has purchased a huge, tacky, inflatable Santa for the front yard-- so we thought-- PERFECT setting! Yeah well... NEITHER cat was impressed with the giant Santa... Much hissing, spitting, clawing, etc. If only sound accompanied our card... GRRRRRRRRRR!

Nothing says CHRISTMAS like laser eyes!

Next was the pic of just me and the cats. In the past this hasn't been TOO difficult. BUt this year was a nightmare. Perhaps because they were already pissed from the first card. Anyhow... for awhile I thought I would have to do one of me and Cleo... another of me and Carl... and just include both pics on the card. I managed to get a few of all 3 of us. I used the one of Cleo sucker punching me in the face:

And I also included the more realistic "GREAT ESCAPE":

For more picture attempts and outtakes, click HERE

I manged to get all cards addressed... bought stamps today... so they should be on their way tomorrow... WOO! Mark that OFF the list!

Advent Blog: Day 12~ Christmas Trees

Yes, yes. I realize I am WAY behind in my advent blog postings... This weekend was chock-full of hectic holiday craziness. I am sure everyone can understand...

Friday I had the day off-- due to ice. This was great as I was able to get my cookies baked for the cookie swap... PLUS I did some laundry and finished decorating the cat tree and the Vegas tree.

So in honor of this, I decided we would look at this tradition of taking an organism normally left outside and bringing it into our homes.

The Story Of The Christmas Tree
People often wonder where the custom of having a tree in the home during Christmas time comes from. We will probably never know for sure. But there are several historical clues that point out where this custom came from.
An Ancient Symbol
Thousands or years ago, there were people who believed that evergreen trees were magical. Even in winter, when all the other trees and greenery were brown and bare, the evergreen stayed strong and green. People saw the evergreen as a symbol of life and as a sure sign that sunshine and spring would soon return. Candles, or the electric lights we use to decorate our trees today, are also an ancient symbol. They represent the light of spring triumphing over the darkness of winter.
In ancient Rome, people decorated their homes and their temples with greenery during a special December feast. It was a happy time. No battles could be fought, the schools were closed, and people everywhere joined in the carnival-like atmosphere and gave each other presents.
The Modern Tree
So when did the Christmas tree go indoors? Legend has it that the tradition was begun by Martin Luther in Germany. He was a monk and church reformer who lived from 1483 to 1546. According to the legend, Luther was returning home one wintry night when he saw the stars twinkling in the sky through the tree branches. Luther was amazed by the sight, and when he arrived home, he was eager to tell his family about it. To help them understand, he went to the woods and cut down a small fir tree. Luther brought it indoors and decorated it with candles, which represented the stars he had seen.
The custom spread in Germany, and from there all over the world. In England, the Christmas tree first appeared when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, who was German. In 1841, Albert set up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle near London to remind him of his homeland. The Christmas tree custom was brought to the United States by people from England as well as by many German immigrants who came in the 1800's. Whatever its origin, the Christmas tree is a beautiful symbol for everyone who celebrates Christmas.
The Legend of the First Christmas Tree
The night of the Saviour's birth, all the living creatures, both flora and fauna, came to Bethlehem with gifts. The olive tree brought its fruit and the palm its dates. But the little fir tree had no gift and was so tired it couldn't resist when the big trees pushed it into the background and hid it from view. But then a nearby angel took pity and commanded a cluster of stars to come and rest on its delicate boughs. When the Baby Jesus beheld this lovely lighted tree, He smiled and blessed it, declaring henceforth that fir trees should always be filled with lights at Christmastime to please little children.

One of my aunts puts up a crazy amount of Christmas trees... Seriously, like 50 or 60... small trees, big trees, theme trees, tinsel trees, etc. I myself have more ornaments than I know what to do with-- THANKS MOM! My main tree is pretty cool-- it is a hodge-podge of ornaments from my childhood on to present times-- including ornaments made by and given to me by students. Typically I look for ornaments when I travel also. The cool thing about this tree is it rotates-- thus all ornaments can be seen.

I also have a Wizard of Oz tree. It is a white tree with red lights-- including some Ruby Slipper lights. The tree topper is a pair of glittery ruby slippers (Got that idea from my aunt who ALSO has a WoO tree)... Instead of a skirt, I spray painted some bricks gold and have those at the base. This tree has all my Wizard of Oz ornaments (DUH), and instead of tinsel I have blue and white gingham ribbon-- like Dorothy's dress.

The cat tree is one of my favs! It is a purple tinsel tree with blue and white lights. It is cram packed with all sorts of cat knick-knacks, books, photos, and ornaments. As I am the Crazy Cat Lady, I tend to get a lot of cat ornaments and such. I love all the ornaments I have with my present and past cats on them. Brings back some good memories.

This year I did a Vegas tree. Sadly it is on a small tree-- NEXT year it will have to be moved to a big tree-- as I have some serious plans for it! I only have 3 Vegas ornaments-- plus one of the Eiffel Tower that I put on there-- since we spend so much Vegas time at the Paris. I also hung pictures from this year's Vegas trip. I would like a bigger tree so I can put pictures from ALL my Vegas Vacations... as well as make "garland" out of playing cards... and I would like to rig a way to make some ornaments from dice. BIG plans I tell you!

I have various other small tinsel trees up too. This includes one SMALL one in the kitchen-- I leave it up year-round though. It has all food ornaments on it.

So far the cats have been good with the trees. The only real problem I have is Cleo eating tinsel-- then YAKKING it up on my bed, carpet, etc. UGH!

So there you have it! I enjoy my trees immensely... one of my favorite things about this time of year is sitting in the living room with all the trees plugged in. I love to just sit, enjoy the quiet, and reflect on Christmas memories preserved via my trees.

How many trees do you put up? Themes or random? Do you prefer real trees or artificial?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 11~ Cookies

Cookies and Christmas just seem to go together... Cookie swaps... baking cookies for Santa... or in the case of Blue Artichoke, baking 500 cookies in 3 days, or some craziness...

So I decided to share some cookie recipes that I like... First up are Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. I got this recipe from Blue Artichoke-- this is what I took to the cookie swap last year-- HUGE hit... I made them SO many times last year, I am pretty sure I STILL smell like peppermint. Anyway, these are TOPS on my holiday cookie list:

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa1 bag Andes Peppermint Crunch (*I also use the Creme de menthe chips)

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla and mint extract.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
Fold in peppermint crunch; drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 3 inches apart, onto lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 12 to 14 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Yield: 2-1/2 dozen
Adapted from Southern Living, DECEMBER 1997
Next up-- well, I have never made these... but they look YUMMY! And I am thinking of making them for my cookie swap THIS year:

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies-->
•1 (19.5 oz.) package Pillsbury® Classic Traditional Fudge Brownie
•1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
•4 ounces cream cheese, softened
•1 large egg
•1 cup powdered sugar
•1 cup Jif® Creamy Peanut Butter
•1/2 can Pillsbury® Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1.HEAT oven to 350°F. Beat brownie mix, melted butter, cream cheese and egg in medium bowl 50 strokes with spoon until well blended (dough will be sticky).

2.DROP dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets to make 24 cookies; smooth edge of each to form round cookie.

3.MIX powdered sugar and peanut butter in small bowl with spoon until mixture forms a ball. With hands, roll rounded teaspoonfuls peanut butter mixture into 24 balls. Lightly press 1 ball into center of each ball of dough.

4.BAKE 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheets at least 30 minutes.

5.SPREAD thin layer of frosting over peanut butter portion of each cooled cookie.

High Altitude (above 3500 ft.):
1.FLATTEN cookies slightly before baking. Bake at 350° F for 11 to 15 minutes.
Yield: 24 cookies
And finally... these are maybe not *technically* a cookie... but they are MADE from cookies... so close enough!

Oreo Truffles

1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

MIX 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls.
DIP balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

These are SUPER easy... and everyone LOVES them...

So there you are-- some ideas... or inspiration... if I am out for snow tomorrow... I think I will make some cookies... COME ON SNOW!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 10~ Laughter

I have to be honest. I am EXHAUSTED! And the upcoming holidays only seem to be adding stress-- both at school and at home. So today's entry will just have some funny things people have sent me the last couple of weeks:

First up-- my buddy Jeremy sent me this:

Next up-- from Leigh:

And finally-- an email I received from Autumn today... she teaches HS... unfortunately-- I hear things just like this in elementary:

one of my kids asked me if I knew what "camel toe" means. when i told him yes, and not to say it in my room again, he said, "well I was just asking, 'cause Cody said it" ---- I told him to ask one of his friends after class -- OY!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 9~ Time


It's supposed to heal all wounds. Is that true? How long is too long? Is it ok to hold grudges? Does it ever really accomplish anything in the long run? Afterall, TIME is a 4 letter word.

Seems there's never enough time... unless you REALLY want something, then there is too much. Especially in today's instantaneous world. We are used to getting what we want immediately. From high-speed internet to pay-per-view movies... Trust me, kids today have little idea what it is to wait for something. And when they do have to wait, they get MAD.

Now, don't get me wrong-- I LOVE my high-speed internet... dial up makes me crazy! And I have even been introduced to the wonders of On Demand and Pay-per-View lately.

But why is time something we can NEVER seem to get right?

In dealing with people, we wait... sometimes a LOT! How long is too long to wait for someone? to wait for a call? to wait on a dream? Is it ok to wait forever-- as long as you are not missing out on life?

With the Christmas holidays it always seems as if it is SO far away... and then suddenly-- YOU HAVE 10 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT! ACK! This is a nightmare-- maybe more so for me b/c I hate to shop.

Where does time go? Where did all those weeks until Christmas and New Year's disappear to?Why do I suddenly have very little time to finish decorating, clean the house, do my baking, finish gifts, and book an airline ticket to CA? And when am I supposed to do that while educating the youth of the world? Oy!

All day long I talk to 10 yr olds about time management-- which is a concept most adults (including myself) don't have down. "Use your time wisely!" I preach. Then I go home and sit on the couch when I could be doing any number of important things. But I am just so tired! And I want some TIME to myself! It's a battle!

Alas. 16 days till Christmas Day. There is nothing I can do about it... so I just have to accept it. And really, if you think about it, we have no idea when our time will be up. So my advice is to live each moment--- do what you want. Don't forget your responsibilities-- it can't ALL be fun and games. But take TIME... do for yourself, as well as others. And try not to think about that pesky hourglass the Wicked Witch of TIME is holding.

Perhaps Hootie & the Blowfish summed it up best:


Time, why do you punish me?
Like a wave bashing into the shore
You wash away my dreams.
Time, why do you walk away?
Like a friend with somewhere to go
You left me crying
Can you teach me about tommorrow
And all the pain and sorrow Running free?
Cause tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in time

Time, I don't understand
Children killing in the street
Dying for the color of a rag
Time, hey there red and blue
Wash them in the ocean, make them clean,
Maybe their mothers won't cry tonight
Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow Running free?
But tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in...

Time is wasting
Time is walking
You ain't no friend of mine
I don't know where i'm goin'
I think I'm out of my mind
Thinking about time
And if I die tomorrow, yeah
Just lay me down in sleep


Time, you left me standing there
Like a tree growing all alone
The wind just stripped me bare, stripped me bare
Time, the past has come and gone
The future's far away
Now only lasts for one second, one second
Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow Running free?
'Cause tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in time


Time, why you punish me?
As an aside-- I feel I am currently using my time well-- I have tutoring today and ONE kid came. So, we are in the computer lab researching-- and I am doing my blog now, so that I have time for hip hop and RELAXING tonight. :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 8~ Single @ the Holidays

**Warning-- this MIGHT turn into a rambling RANT... and it very well might be a 2-parter... I'm sure, after further reflection, I will have MUCH more to say on this sore topic.**

Tonight I had actually planned on another topic, but Beyonce spoke to me on the way home, and I changed my plans.

Beyonce widget by 6L & Daxii

So yeah... being CHRONICALLY single can be tricky on the best of days... but holidays are absolute HELL! Person after person asking the same f-ing questions: "So, are you seeing anyone now?".... "Whatever happened to (insert name of someone you dated 5 years ago)? He was nice..." "Are you ever going to get married/ have kids?" The best is, of course, my dad informing me that, "You don't have to be married to have a baby." I thought my brother would die.

And it's not just ONE holiday! As my friend Leigh calls it-- it's the TRIFECTA! Christmas... followed QUICKLY by New Year's (which is possibly the WORST)... and just when you think you are recovered-- BAM! Valentine's Day!

Christmas is more about family... but the happy couples are still all around-- esp @ parties. Going to parties solo can REALLY blow... OR you can do like some I know, and just get drunk and make out with everyone and anyone... New Year's... yeah, you can party like a rockstar with your friends... dance the night away... watch the damn ball drop... but at midnight, just like an unexpected slap in the face: THE KISS... As a singleton you do one of a few things-- hang around awkwardly, and then one arm hug your couple-friends... try desperately to avoid the other CREEPY single people that flock to you... overdose.... or, do what I do-- turn up the bottle of champagne and drink your cares away. Valentines the last few years my single friends and I have had an FVD party... VD= Valentines Day... you figure out the F. We cook food with lots of garlic and onions... and cuss any of you happily in love people. It's nothing personal. Really.

Take a moment, while I cool down, to enjoy the Queen of Singletons... for the record, my cousin-in-law Thom said I could sue over this scene:

Now, perhaps you smug marrieds don't remember the pain of the singletons... or maybe you were one of those people that HAD to ALWAYS be dating someone in order to feel successful in life... (Oh snap! I just got hateful!) Well, just in case-- here is another Bridget Jones clip-- the perfect example of the misery we go through-- especially @ the holidays:

So here's some advice for all of you smug marrieds... and even those of you happily nauseating couples-- BACK OFF THE SINGLE PEOPLE! Don't ask about their love life-- TRUST ME-- if there is something happening-- they will tell you! And remember, not everyone WANTS to be married... or have kids... or be tied down in any way....

Oh yeah, one more thing-- Mistletoe, What the HELL?!

Recollection Phoenix: An Advent Break: Fun with the iPod

1.Put your MP3/iPod on shuffle.
2. Answer each question with the title of the song that comes up. Don't skip it just because it sounds weird or doesn't make sense.
3.Tag 10 other people in this note


(Does this mean I am going to jail?)

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?The Music of the Night
(ahhhh yeah!)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?Try a Little Tenderness

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?Half the World away

(They think too much? I am TOO much?)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

(apparently all my friends are quite stylish)





(Technically not a song-- but funny cause my dad always wants me to be more "girly")

(Take me wherever you're going to... Baby save me a seat next to you)




(get it iPod!)


(Does this mean in my sleep? Gosh I hope so)



(misbehaving children?)

(standing where???)

(does love scare me? Or Heavy D and the Boys?)

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?Something to Believe in

(something about Civil Rights I guess)


WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?Recollection Phoenix

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 7~ Families

Family. The people you are supposed to spend time with, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, holidays often bring out the worst in a lot of families. Perhaps it is the stress of all other holiday activities-- baking, cleaning, decorating, entertaining, wearing tacky Xmas attire given to you by family members whose feelings you do not want to hurt... Or maybe it is just the added pressure that holidays are SUPPOSED to be centered around family, and so you do so much trying to make it "perfect" that things get screwed up.

This is extra tricky for those of us who are from divorced families. Am I right? Can I get an AMEN?

Once, before my mom passed away, my grandma got kind of P-O'd @ me. She was mad because I was sticking with the same holiday schedule I had followed for years: Christmas Eve with dad & fam, Christmas day with Mom & fam. She jumped my ass-- "You need to spend time with your mom! It's Christmas!" I'm sure she was not thinking that there would be an equally emphatic message coming from the other side, in support of my dad. I must say, she (I'm sure unintentionally) made me feel AWFUL! Not Holly Jolly. Not full of the Christmas spirit-- unless the spirit makes you nauseous. It was my cousin (also a child of divorce) that came to my defense and actually stood up to Gma...

Tonight I saw the movie Four Christmases. It deals with this whole issue. Reese and Vince lied to their families @ Christmas for 3 years-- taking trips to exotic locations so to avoid the family stress. "You can't spell families without lies." Of course they get stuck in town and thus have to travel from family to family-- 4 in all, as they are also children of divorce. Needless to say, while suffering through the holidays, they come to understand and appreciate the idea of family.

Yes, it is a pain in the ass to hop from family to family at Christmas. Yes, it is stressful. Yes, it would be easier to sit at home and let those that want to, come to me. (Unfortunately I think that only works when you are married and have back-up when imposing your demands)...

But in the end, after all the gifts are unwrapped and all the pies have been eaten, it's worth it. To spend time with the people that love you unconditionally-- no matter what crazy stuff you have done in your life-- or how badly you have screwed up during the previous year-- it's nice to be accepted, because during the holiday there is lots of forgiveness and spiritual realization-- no matter how bad things are, we still have each other. And the stress melts away as you bask in the warm glow of love...

or perhaps that is the lies in families...

I kid, I kid... No matter the craziness or the stress... or the cross-country travelling... I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming holidays surrounded by family. Try to take a few minutes to just take it all in... they may not be quiet, fire-moments like in the movies... but absorb it, reflect on it... the laughter, the shouting, the madness that is families.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 6~ Losing

Losing. Not something we typically think about @ the holidays.

Today was full of losing, at least in the sports world. I amcertainly not an Alabama or Florida fan...but when they play each other for the SEC Championship, I am forced to say ROLL TIDE... alas, they fell the to the mighty Gators... woof.

I also spent a lot of my day watching elementary basketball... our girls won easily this AM... but the boys did not fare so well...

And I just read that the Rebels lost their attempt for a 5th straight state championship... this broke their 74 game winning streak. Yes, 74.

So loss... WHY is it important? In the sports world, and really in life in general, I think loss can make you fight harder. Mae you realize that winning is not always an option. Once I recover from a loss, it usually motivates me to work harder... of course, I am a fairly competetive person.

But how does loss figure in at the holidays-- as this IS an advent blog... During the holidays, especially Christmas, loss can become a lot more evident. Especially if it is the loss of a loved one. I remember the first Xmas after my mom passed away-- it was brutal. And you know what upset me more than anything? Stupidest thing, but I couldn't find my damn stocking. I'm pretty sure I pitched a temper tantrum IN the attic as Mike tried to help me find the one in a million (seriously! My mom had a lot of Xmas stuff) that contained the prized sock. It wasn't until the NEXT year that I found it.

I also think though, that during the holidays we tend to focus on other losses... lost flames... during these economic hard times-- lost jobs... lost friends and lost times.

I think the importance of loss is to make us realize how fortunate we are. If you win ALL the time, you never have that feeling... that emptiness... it pisses you off really. Makes you realize... why is hard work important. It kind of goes back to the quote about extraordinary vs. ordinary. Why settle for ordinary when you can work harder and be extraordinary?
I think sometimes, after losing someone close to us, it makes a person hesitant to get close to someone else. We, in the words of Garth Brooks, stand outside the fire. "Life is not tried, it is merely survived..." Sure, it hurts to get burned... but if you NEVER try, how will you know that pain? And if you never know that pain, how will you know how great it feels to win? Sometimes you just have to take a chance. "Those who risk, win."

Maybe it's the drab weather that brings about some of these morose feelings. Maybe it is the fact that those of us that have these losses are surrounded by happy-go-lucky-my-life-is-perfect people...
I will say, I have gotten better as far as Christmas is concerned. Do I think about my mom? Sure! Am I sad? yes... but I do not let it consume me.
New Years however... that is a whole other issue. DEPRESSING...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 5~ Music

I am quite certain there will be more than one entry pertaining to music as it is a very important part of my life. But today's entry pertains to a certain artist... One that you may or may not be familiar with, though even if you don't recognize the name, you have probably heard his work.

I am talking about Bob Rivers.

Know who he is?

Twisted Christmas... Walkin' round in Women's Underwear... What's it to ya Chorus...

I know some of you are with me now... Bob Rivers is sort of the Weird Al Yankovic of Christmas music... I am a big fan of Weird Al (even seen him in concert!), and thanks to my dad, I am a fan of Bob Rivers... If you have no idea what I am referring to, check it out (There's more on YouTube... search Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas):

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 4~ Spunk

One of our vocabulary words @ school this week is spunk. I have noticed that the word keeps coming up in other places.

Case in point-- @ the basketball game tonight-- I have always described one of our stronger players as "spunky." She has serious hustle. I am not a basketball fan at all-- but I really get into the sport at the elementary school level. Crazy, I know.

Back in the day when I was a colorguard instructor @ Powell, we used to use the word "spunky" a lot. I can't really remember how it all started-- I used to act a-fool, especially on the bus, to amuse the guard members. I used to re-enact the "Da Bears" skit from SNL... And do a really bad Rocky & Bullwinkle impression-- which somehow evolved into me saying "I'm a spunky moose!" I have group pictures of the entire guard doing the spunky moose pose.

By definition, "spunk" means spirit.

I tend to like people that have spunk, or a spirit about them. They are fiesty, playful, and usually a lot of fun. So during this holiday season let's all try to be a little more spunky!

As an aside, I don't advise replacing the word "spirit" with the word "spunk." During this time of year-- you see the word "spirit" a lot.... However, holiday phrases such as "Catch the Spirit" and "Christmas Spirit" just don't seem as festive as "Catch the Spunk" or "Christmas Spunk"

And yes, I am aware that there is a slang definition for "spunk"


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 3~ Funny Ha-Ha

Today has been a day. I am exhausted. Thus I feel that today's blog needs to be random and have some humor... Luckily my buddy Sam sent me just the thing-- enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 2~ Quote of the Day

"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra."

(Thanks to Justy for sending me this)

I LOVE quotes! I use them a lot in class. Everyday we have a Quote of the Day. Sometimes the kids have to write about it for their journal entry. Often the quote is relevant to whatever we are studying, or to the lifeskills.

So when Justy sent me this quote, I decided it would be good for the advent blog.

From a teacher's standpoint, I do not like a kiss-ass. However, when students put forth a little extra effort-- it can make a huge difference. Often it is a welcome relief from the half-assedness (yeah, you heard me... I made up a word-- deal with it!) Something as simple as coloring their illustation.... or, I don't know, putting their name on their paper... ;-)

Sometimes "a little extra" is something as simple as just saying "hi" to someone... or holding the door open... or just listening to a friend when they've had a bad day. Think about it-- what is the difference between your friends and your BEST FRIENDS? Sure, sometimes it's that you have more in common... or that you see them more often. But often it is those that go the extra mile; they put a bit more effort into the friendship.

What are some ways we go the extra mile during the holidays? Several people donate to charities or buy gifts for the needy. During these hard economic times, that could certainly be considered extraordinary. Donating time to charitable events is also popular during the holiday season. Of course, to be truly extraordinary-- this would be done throughout the year.

OK, interactive time-- what is extraordinary in your life? Or, what do you do that is extraordinary? How would you define this word/ quote?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent Blog: Day 1~ Faith


For some faith is an easy find. For others it is easily lost. We can have faith in many things: religion, people, beliefs, ourselves...

What makes it so easy for some to believe? I have found as I have gotten older that my faith in many things has wavered. Now, I'm not knocking religion. Heck, yours truly used to be the youth group president... (scared yet?)... but I have some serious issues with organized religions. I find them very judgemental and hypocritical. WWJD? Well, I think Jesus would befriend all these groups that churches tend to ostracize. Look at the disciples-- talk about a motley crew... I am certainly not trying to stir up religious debate with anyone. I respect that others have different opinions from me, and I would hope that others will respect my views. (As an aside, I think that is another issue with organized religion: intolerance)

Faith in others can be tricky. People make mistakes. Thus people have a way of letting us down-- sometimes repeatedly. Those with faith keep giving chances... but is that faith? Blind faith? Stupid faith? Faith Hill? I don't know. I never claimed to have answers. What I do know, as an educator, is that life is all about learning. We never stop learning. And how do we learn? Well, often by making mistakes. So, perhaps during the holiday season you can try to be extra understanding of people close to you when they screw up-- have more faith-- and give them a second (third, fourth, etc...) chance.

Faith in our beliefs is a bit easier I guess. I mean, they ARE our beliefs because we have faith in them, right? What are some things we believe? Lately I have talked a lot about fate-- which is something I believe in. Some people believe that the world is inherently good, while others that it is evil. I like to try to remain positive in my beliefs-- even though hard times can get even the peppiest of cheerleaders down and out. In light of the recent economic times, I think it is important to have faith... be positive... and do everything we can to make things better. I am no Ritchie Rich-- but I prefer to try to help those around me less fortunate during these times. I believe everyone deserves some happiness in life-- especially kids.

Oh my, I am off on a tangent... I apologize. Today was snowy-- which adds to the 5th grade ADD-- so I will blame it on that.

OK, now the biggie... faith in OURSELVES! Why is this so damn hard? Even the cocky are often just using that as a defense mechanism. Again, faith in ME is something that has gotten stronger as I have gotten older. Maybe I just don't care so much anymore-- esp about what others think. And isn't that what brings our SELF esteem down a lot? Worrying about what OTHERS think of us. I watch pre-teens develop this "condition" every day at work. It's funny to me that when we are YOUNG-- we don't care... and apparently, as we get older, we don't care as MUCH... but somewhere there in the middle-- teen years- college... we are often pre-occupied with others' opinions, instead of our own.

Wow. This is WAY longer and more rambling than I had intended. So... to sum it up... Faith-- a key word during the holiday season-- is quite complicated. I think the other piece to FAITH is to BELIEVE-- which happens to be one of my favorite words.

So during this blessed season, have faith. Faith in religion, if you choose. Have faith in others-- try to see and focus on the positive. Keep faith in your beliefs-- even during tough times. And perhaps most importantly, have faith in YOURSELF.