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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Advice

A third grade boy in my friend Leslie's class has some good holiday advice:

‎"Believe in Santa Claus, don't believe in Santa Claus- all I know is don't get caught under the mistletoe with some random dude."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Picture Update

She's ALL VOL!

Maddie and Smokey

Future Soccer Star

Ready for her first convertible ride 

Seriously-- she fell asleep!

Do you see a theme?

Brusha Brusha Brusha!

More Smokey

She loves soccer!

Look what I can do!

With Uncle John's "Puppy"

Pretty Baby

Love my Munchkin

"helping" unpack

Friday, July 22, 2011

Zuchinni Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux

OK, so I finally made the Zuchinni Chocolate Chip Cookies-- and I must say I was a bit disappointed. They taste GREAT! But the texture is more cake-like than chewy (I like my cookies CHEWY!) And also, the next day they just seemed soggy-- WAY too moist!

My good buddy Mary from Life in a Small Town sent me this message following my report of the soggy cookies--

I e-mailed a couple of food bloggers for advice on how to crisp up those zucchini cookies. Here's what Jessica (kitchenbellicious) said: "2 1/2 cups of flour total and another 1/2 tsp of baking soda." She said that she has never added honey, so that may be what's causing it. Katherine (smoky mountain cafe) said, "Try adding 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and leave out the honey." One of these days when I'm bored I may try them out and see what happens

So instead of ditching the recipe TOTALLY... I will give it another go and make the changes. I thought perhaps the zuchinni itself added too much moisture-- I never even considered the honey.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Zuchinni Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have not tried these yet-- but certainly will... SOON!

‎1 egg
1/2 c. Butter
1/2 c. Brown sugar
1tbsp vanilla
1/3 c. Honey
1c white flour
1c wheat flower
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
12oz choc chips
1 c finely chopped zucchini

Bake at 350 for 11-14 min.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mommy Diaries

Just wanted to share a lesson or two that I learned this past week.
Wednesday nightI made a curry. In this curry were chiles. Apparently while de-seeding the chiles, I dropped the insides (seeds and all) of one on the floor. I was unaware of this until I saw Maddie with something in her mouth. I realized what it was as she began to scream and turned BRIGHT RED!

Oh no.

I got all the seeds that were in her mouth out, and quickly poured her some milk (base vs. acid-- I'm not completely useless in science!) Poor baby! After some rocking, more milk, petting, soothing, and sweet-talking-- she did calm down-- but was still all blotchy.

Lesson: Make sure all chile remnants make it IN the trash can.

In an attempt to cheer her up, I let her eat her spaghetti (a new favorite) with her hands. Before doing so, I stripped her to her diaper b/c of a lesson I learned Tuesday:

Lesson: Spaghetti sauce stains baby clothes worse than adult clothes.

So my red, blotchy baby looked all redneck with nothing on but a diaper and a bib-- but she was happy-- and afterall, that's the main thing, right?!

As a side note: I was so caught up in the chile incident that I forgot, for about an hour, to take the naan bread out-- whoops!

Monday, May 30, 2011

English Escapades 2011: vol. 2 (Pros & Cons)

Over the last week I have been making a list of pros and cons about England in my head... Before I begin, let me re-iterate that I LOVE it over here! I also LOVE back home... So as one of my students said this year, "Don't get your panties in a wad!" (actually, he asked me what that phrase meant, which is possibly the best question I have ever been asked by a student)-- my lists are not meant to offend peoples from either nation, I just thought this would be a fun exercise. Please feel free to add your own ideas to the list! (Mine are in no particular order)

Pros about England
1. Public transportation-- be it the Underground in London, or trains, taxis, and buses all over the country, it certainly makes travel- long or short distances- much easier for those of us that cannot drive a manual car on the right side of the car while on the left side of the road. (BRAIN OVERLOAD!)

Waiting for the bus

2. Fish & Chips-- To Americans this is the most British meal there is. (I think to people of England, a nice curry is as British as it gets...) I have just this past year been able to eat fish-- certain kinds anyway... So I decided to give this meal a shot the other day. I am proud to report I ate the entire piece-- while Maddie took care of the mushy peas! (Sorry British Buds-- I just can bring myself to eat THOSE just yet!)

3. Accents-- Yes yes, let's just get this one out of the way. Any normal American will tell you that we DO love a good British accent. I will say, I've been a bit irked on this trip because a huge deal has been made about the firing of Cheryl Cole on the US X Factor because Americans could not understand her. While I have never watched this show, I have heard clips of Ms. Cole speaking, and I can honestly say I have NO trouble understanding her, nor do I think would most Americans. I believe there is a deeper issue here. I almost called a radio station here that was going ON AND ON about this, and essentially bashing Americans for their inability to recognize different dialects among the British accents. I wanted to challenge this fool ass announcer to tell me what region of the US I am from. While I can certainly turn on an amazingly southern accent, my normal dialect is not that strong. I think Americans do realize (sorry, realise) there are different sounding English accents, and yes, they would be hard pressed to tell you where specific ones are from... but I think this goes both ways.

Off my soap box now.

4. Pubs-- they just have a different feeling about them than our bars and restaurants back home. Matt would add that the real ale here is much better than most of what we can get back home. In many cases, I agree. While I do love my Coors Light on a hot day, it is awesome to get a pint of a nice stout (with a 6.5% AV I might add)... Not to mention, the drunken old men in pubs are way less obnoxious and creepy than our drunken men in bars back home.

5. TV Programmes-- Again, most English people will cringe and roll their eyes when I say that I love a good episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show and Midsomer Murders. And yes, both are a bit cheesy and ridiculous (how can ANYONE be left alive in Midsomer anyway?), but I like them--so there! I did notice while reading through my mother-in-law's TV guide that a LOT of the shows here are American shows (House, CSI, Glee...) Aside from a brief viewing of CSI Miami last night (which, coincidentally I do not even watch back home) I try to steer clear of US TV shows while here. Long live Graham Norton! VIVA Are you Being Served! Bring on Have I Got News for You! Go Gavin & Stacey! I could go on and on...

6. Cadbury's-- Yes, we have Cadbury's back home, but it is NOT the same. Ours is made by Hershey and thus tastes differently. And while I do love Cadbury's back home also, it is SOOOOOOOO much better here! Plus you have different varieties and more selection in England.

7. Cheese & Onion sandwiches-- MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm! I had a great one at the BCA yesterday. Best C&O I have had was probably at the Crooked House. The Black Country Museum does a good one too!

8. Walker's Crisps-- very similar to our Lay's brand back home-- but with some crazy flavours here. My favs are perhaps a bit boring: salt & vinegar and cheese& onion (are you sensing a theme?) Matt likes the prawn ones-- no thanks!

9. 80s Fashion-- While I do not feel that I could pull off a lot of the outfits I see here (both on people and in the shops), I do have a deep appreciation for the retro-feel of the clothing.

10. FUN hair colours-- Lots of bright reds, blue, purple, and pink... on men and women. It really brightens ones day.

11. Students in school uniforms-- I LOVE to watch the kids walk to school (Yes, I said WALK to school) in their uniforms. I think it just looks classier. Of course, when you see them walking home in the afternoon, ties are askew, shirts unbuttoned, pants sagging... but still...

12. Houses with names-- I love how, while walking down the street, you notice that some houses have names. And I don't mean big, posh, fancy houses... Some look rather dumpy, but when given names like Elm Cottage or Daffodil Manor it seems to spruce it up a bit.

13. Roses-- Seems like the roses, and most other flowers really, are bigger, more vivid, and just better here.

14. Liberalism-- Americans may claim to be a fairly liberal country, but to this I say PISH POSH! England is MUCH more laid back about most things. Cursing on TV... nudity on TV.... the way people speak to each other in general. And, as I have discovered in both Pelsall and Wales, with their toilet seats! You heard me! A couple of years ago I encountered a shiny, sparkly, glittery toilet seat in Wales. Well, not to be outdone, the Pelsall Labour Club ladies room has some pretty shiny, mirror-esque seats. (I just happened to have my camera in my pocket today-- I didn't specifically take it in there, but since I had it, thought What the hell?!)

1. No Diet Dr. Pepper-- I cannot understand this one! England has diet drinks, and they have Dr. Pepper-- so why not my beverage of choice? Seriously people of England, you need to get on this one!

2. Wind and Cold temps-- in late May/ early June! Actually, I have been here many times during this part of the season, and often it is much cooler than home, which really, I am fine with! (I much prefer the 60s to the 90s)... but this trip has been REALLY chilly-- mainly due to the crazy wind I think. It wouldn't be so bad except for Maddie. She doesn't really have clothes that fit appropriate for this weather-- and the last thing I want is for her to get sick while here. And ironically, we can't seem to find long sleeve things for her-- stores all have summer stuff out! We did manage to get her a fantastic hat-- maybe not Royal Wedding attire, but she certainly likes it!

3. Tiny Showers-- I've run into this issue at many hotels here too. We are staying with our buddy Pete who recently had his bathroom made over. It looks great! And really, I don't have a problem with the shower or it's size except when trying to shave. Have you ever tried to shave your legs in Dr. Who's time machine?

4. Beans-- why must they be poured on everything? Well, that is perhaps a BIT of an exaggeration-- but I am not a fan of them period, and especially do not want them on my breakfast, or my bangers & mash. ICK!

5. Coke products in the UK-- just don't taste the same, especially Diet Coke. And, as mentioned before, Diet Dr. Pepper is not an option.

6. Different electric current-- within 5 minutes of being at Pete's house this trip, my adapter broke off in his socket. Matt had to ultimately replace the entire socket, and I had to find a new adapter. It's just a pain in the ass. Of course, as Phil pointed out to me today, it is the same for them when they travel.

7. No cell phone-- Not that I like TALKING to people, but I do miss my text conversations and funny pictures. Plus, I like to have the OPTION of calling someone if I wanted.

8. No Soccer Taco/ mexican food-- it's my fav! I miss my chips, salsa, margaritas, and of course, Uncle Erick!

OK, that is all I can think of/ remember at the moment. I may update this one if more spring to mind.
Again, feel free to chime in with your comments, thoughts, opinions....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

English Escapades, 2011: vol. 1

It seems interesting things always happen while I am visiting the West Midlands. A couple of years ago I got to see a slow motion fight between two men so drunk they could be classified as retarded. The next day we watched the police hunt for someone who assaulted a woman in the toilets at the bus station. Well, it seems my streak continues!

Probably the first out of the ordinary instance of the trip occurred before the plane took off. While sitting and waiting for everyone to load, I noticed a flight attendant walk by with a tray with what appeared to be a bra on it. I then overhear 2 other flight attendants laughing hysterically and talking about it. Apparently it WAS a bra and had been found in the aisle behind a seat. Next thing you hear is a flght attendant, choking back laughter on the intercom, asking if anyone has lost a bra, size 34B.
Yesterday when coming back from Matt's brother's house we encountered a LOT of police cars near Pete's. By a LOT I mean possibly every officer in the West Midlands! The main street in Bloxwich was blocked off. We learned after asking a man on the street that a suspicious package was found on the street. The police had emptied the stores and worse, pubs. While trying to maneuver a way around the scene all officers suddenly left-- so we assume the situation was nothing. I never heard any big boms, so perhaps someone just dropped their shopping.

Happy Traveller

Maddie has been amazingly charming, as always! Going through security she wowed the TSA lady who exclaimed, "She is the MOST beautiful baby I have every seen!" She loved Maddie's passport picture too. Maddie was great on the plane, aside from one breakdown. While Matt was trying to calm her, the head honcho flight attendant came by to help. (The pilot had called attention to the attendant calling her Miss Virgin Atlantic-- apparently she is one of their best attendants, and appears in all the commercials... ) She took Maddie (who was later passed around among the flight attendants) and gave her some "calming potion"-- basically children's tylenol I think. It worked! Maddie slept, well, like a baby, the rest of the night. As we were leaving the plane, she was standing at the exit and she exclaimed, "OH! There is my FAvOURITE baby from the flight!" (This was saying something as there were about 20 babies on that plane.)

We had dinner the first night at a GREAT curry house. As we came in I couldn't help but notice that the server had the personality of sawdust. Certainly not a people person. I thought to myself, If Maddie can charm this guy, she's golden. Within 5 minutes he was smiling at her, waving at her, and even brought her a lollipop! That's my girl!

Maddie has had a great time playing with cousin Lucas and meeting all of Matt's buddies.

Cousin Lucas was very nice to share his toys

She has hit the Pelsall Labour Club twice now on her social circuit. She was a big fan of Helen who gave her some Cadbury's-- mmmmmmmm! "Uncle" Pete is a favourite, of course. I'm looking forward to her meeting the rest of Matt's family, and to heading up to Alnwick for a week.
As always, more to follow! I'm trying to update pictures on FB nightly...

EXHAUSTED after a long first day in England!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spinach Eggplant Lasagna

I made this just like my regular spinach lasagna, except that I used sliced eggplant instead of lasagna noodles...

Spinach  Eggplant Lasagna


16 oz. ricotta cheese
16 oz. shredded mozerella (*I use 8 oz. mozerella/ 8 oz. parmesean)
1 jar sauce
1 eggplant, sliced
10 oz. spinach (*I use frozen-- thawed and drained)

1 T. minced garlic
1/2 C. chopped onion

Mix ricotta, 1/2 mozerella/ parmesean mix, garlic, onion, & spinach.

Layer a 13 x 9 or 9x9 pan-- Sauce, eggplant, cheese mixture-- repeat. Top with other 1/2 of mozerella/ parmesean mixture.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday, But Feels Like Monday...

My little Easter Bunny
 I do love an EXTRA long weekend, but MAN was it hard to go back today! I just couldn't get it together! First I couldn't get up... then at school it was like I had ZERO plans, even though I did.

Luckily the weekend was much more productive than today! We got some flowers planted and mulch down out front--

Friday night Maddie stayed with Aunt Lacy, so the hubby and I had a late-night-date-night... we went to a local bar when hubby got off work, then an extra late dinner at Waffle House. It was SO good! I haven't been there in ages! Man do I love a double order of hasbrowns covered!

Saturday I did some baking for dinner that night. Then I got Maddie and we headed to her first Easter egg hunt at Aunt Lacy's church. Needless to say she had no idea what was going on, and looked at us all as though we were crazy... but she did rack up some candy!

Oh! I almost forgot! I made my first cake sale this weekend! I made a friend at school a birthday cake-- and I must say, I was impressed with myself. She wanted a Raggedy Ann cake (She had one when she was 6...) and I have a pan my mom had from 1971... This is what I am planning for Maddie's (UPCOMING) 1st b-day, so I was glad to have a "practice run"

Sunday hubby went with Dad and my bros to the Nashville Predators hockey game... he had a BLAST! I'm so glad he had the night off and the opportunity to get out and have some fun...

So this is yet another short week... funny how those always seem longer some how... Oh well, 17.5 days left of school!  WOO YEAH!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Club 2011, vol. 3

  1. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
  2. You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning by Celia Rivenbark
  3. The English American by Allison Larkin (audiobook)
  4. Murder of a Chocolate Covered Cherry by Denise Swenson (audiobook)
  5. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (audiobook)
  6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  7. Ghost Soldier by Elaine Marie Alphin (school)
  8. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (audiobook)
  9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (school)
  10. Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi
  11. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

 Currently Reading:

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson-- reading this one at school as my kids read their book report books.


The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis-- I read this one to the kids at school every year-- GREAT books.


Currently Listening:

Faithful Place by Tana French-- this is the 3rd in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I have really enjoyed these books... Looking forward to the 4th already.

Up Next:


 Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen-- Justy Mac and I have decided to make this the next book club book.

Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos-- can't believe I have gone all these years teaching without having read these books!


As for my next audiobook, I am thinking 1st to Die by James Patterson. I know several people that really enjoy his books, thought I might give it a shot.

Any opinons?


 As always-- add me as a friend on Goodreads--

and at The Two Pelicans Book Club--




Photo Update~ April

Teething SUCKS!

Maddie meets her CA cousins


Mae & Maddie

Cousins  <3

Jess & I with our girls

Matt and Mae play some ball

My little doll

Have passport, WILL travel!

Ready for Gma's 95th b-day party

Happy birthday Grandma!

Pulling up already

Enjoying Spring weather and dinner on the deck


Master of Crawling