Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Few Things

1) I wrote a blog entry a couple of days ago. It was depressing. Slightly weird. Reflective of my current state of mind/mood/being. I deleted it. Sometimes, too much is just too much.

2) Blogger has a new little option on it. It's called "stats." It tells you how a) how many people view your blog b) which posts people favor and c) where said people live. Someone in China has looked at this blog. Other than that, there aren't many interesting things. Most of my blog traffic comes from Facebook. Most people favor my inept attempts at humor as opposed to my blathering, narcissistic blog entries. Honestly - truly - no surprises.

3) I've had a food blog going for a couple of months. The stats on it are downright depressing. I'm thinking of shutting it down and just merging it with Farr Away Thoughts.

4) I was going to write "FAT" instead of Farr Away Thoughts in number shorten it. Man. The short version of Farr Away Thoughts spells FAT! That makes my inner third grader giggle.

5) Jeremy got me a Nook Color for my birthday. I wasn't very happy with it at the time. I love books made of paper, you see. I love the smell of books. I love the feel of books. There is something comfortable about holding a book.

But then, I realized that there are nice things about the Nook. I can look on Facebook without getting out of bed (I don't have a smart phone). I can purchase scads and scads of Mr. Darcy fanfiction without having to be humiliated by the cashier at Barnes and Noble/Books-A-Million/Target.  Mr. Darcy fanfiction makes me happy.

6) Spring Break is a necessity for teachers.  If it ever gets taken away, we all might revolt and throw our apples out the window in protest.  Seriously - we might drive our mid-sized sedans off into the sunset and never, ever return.

(Number six was a joke. I love my job.  I don't want to get fired.  I would never really drive off into the sunset...I need to afford my mid-sized sedan.  If you're a member of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, please know that number six was a joke. NUMBER SIX WAS A JOOOOKE!) 

7) Starbucks makes cake pops now. I am very afraid of what might happen to my waistline.

8) My birthday was a couple of weekends ago. This was the same weekend as Amelia's ear tube surgery. If you didn't know, Amelia had ear tube surgery. Oh, and my birthday kind of sucked. I'm determined to make up for this fact before I turn 35.

9) I have the most ah-maze-ing friends. Alisha, Kathi, and Kim all jumped in to come and "save me" the week after my birthday by arranging play dates and general fun. Amelia and I got a much-needed break with some sweet, sweet friends. I'm so thankful for my friends.  My mom and sister saved me, too - with some retail therapy.

10) "Dancing With the Stars" is a plague that invades my brain and never leaves, and yet I can't turn away from the sheer trainwreck-iness of it. (For what it's worth, I also can't get away from making up words like trainwreck-iness.) Seriously...why can't I stop watching the stupidity?  And why can't I stop making up stupid words?

11) Jeremy's face is swollen into a rather large ball on one side. He has some sort of weird tooth abscess. He looks like Quasimodo. It's very odd.  I don't know if he'll let me take his picture...

12) Did I really openly admit to reading Mr. Darcy fanfiction? Man, once this is out in cyberspace I can't take it back....

13) Amelia is ca-rah-zy lately. She's cute as a button, but she's crazy. She's into everything in ways I never imagined. Sometimes I think she's taken a baby flux capacitor and brought back Baby D'Anna - because she acts just like Baby D'Anna.  I'm telling you people...I knew what was in store for me.  But, on the other hand, she's saying so many cute things, like "see you later!" and, "A..C...C...D!"  (We're getting there, people.  Getting there.)

14)  Elvira.  The best song ever.  I'm just sayin'.

Southern Girl Pesto

Spring is in the air - so I wanted to celebrate all things green and vibrant.

Pesto?  That's pretty green and vibrant.

Pesto always sounds good to me.

I love pesto, which is an Italian sauce typically made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil.  It is typically a pasta sauce, but it can be used in all sorts of concoctions.

While whipping of a batch of traditional basil pesto last night, I decided to come up with a pesto sauce using stuff that a Southern girl might have in her fridge.

Hence, Southern Girl Pesto was born.  It's surprisingly bright, healthy, and deceptive - most people won't guess that you used spinach!

Or goat cheese.  I'm on a goat cheese kick...can you tell? :) 

Here's the recipe:

Southern Girl Pesto

Four handfuls of fresh baby spinach
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup toasted pecans (this is the "Southern" part!)
3 ounces Parmesan
1 tablespoon goat cheese (because, you know...people in the South have goats, yo.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons, olive oil (or to taste)

With the exception of the oil, place all of the ingredients into a food processor and thoroughly combine.  While processing the ingredients, drizzle in the olive oil.  Add more or less olive oil depending on the consistency you desire (for super think pesto, add less - for a thinner pesto, add more).  

Traditionally, pesto is served over piping hot al dente pasta.  This warms the ingredients through and adds a new dimension to the sauce.  However, pesto can be used on sandwiches, on grilled food, and in wonderful and various ways.  

Oh, and no matter what, be sure to top your pesto with more Parmesan.  It's the American way.  Orrrrr...maybe the Italian one.

Here's the aerial view:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Easy Brie-sy.

I love cheese.

I could probably devote an entire blog to it.

That being said, I'll include a bunch of recipes that feature cheese on this blog (not cilantro or fennel - just reminding you).

Brie is a fun cheese to eat, and it makes a simple little appetizer to serve at a party.

While at a friend's wedding a few months ago, I ate some delightful Brie with brown sugar and dried cranberries on top of it.

Inspired by that example, I created my own version of this Brie topping.

It's yummy.

To start, get a small wheel of Brie.  You can buy baby Brie or regular Brie, but I prefer the small wheels as opposed to the large wedges.  The kind of Brie you purchase all depends on your palate.  I wouldn't tell just anyone this (okay...I realize this is on a public blog...whatever), but I've even had success with the store brand version of Brie.  I like it just as well as that fancy-pants name brand stuff.

To make the topping for the Brie, get a bowl and combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped pecans (toasted tastes better), and 2 tablespoons of honey.  Mix the ingredients thoroughly, and then top the Brie with the mixture.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can pop the Brie in the oven for a couple of minutes, or you could drizzle a some extra honey on top.

This is a really difficult thing to mess up - trust me!

Serve your Easy Brie-sy with some crackers.  For a fancy party, I'll buy fancy crackers.  But I'm not going to lie - Wheat Thins work pretty darn well.

Here you go.  I took this picture with Jerm's iphone, so if the quality looks bad you can blame Apple!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Contender for the Best Song Ever

I can't shake Brooke Fraser's song "Flags."

I just can't.

It might be one of the best songs ever.  A song that addresses injustice.  A song that invades the "WHY?" that is so prevalent in my soul.  It's a haunting, stirring anthem of a peace that transcends fear with perfect clarity.

I'm in love with it.  Tears fill  my eyes every time I hear that beautiful bridge - "you who mourn will be comforted..."  It gets me every time.

I've shared parts of the lyrics on here before, and I know I've talked about how much I love Brooke Fraser, but the lyrics are just too wonderful not to share in their entirety.

I just think it's a relevant day to share these words.

Come, tell me your trouble
I'm not your answer
But I'm a listening ear

Reality has left you reeling
All facts and no feeling
No faith and all fear

I don't know why a good man will fall
While a wicked one stands
And our lives blow about
Like flags on the land

Who's at fault is not important
Good intentions lie dormant
And we're all to blame

While apathy acts like an ally
My enemy and I are one and the same

I don't know why the innocents fall
While the monsters still stand
And our lives blow about
Like flags on the land

I don't know why our words are so proud
Yet their promise so thin

And our lives blow about
Like flags in the wind

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
Oh, the last shall be first
Of this I am sure

You who weep now will laugh again

All you lonely, be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first
Of this I'm sure

I don't know why the innocents fall

While the monsters stand

I don't know why the little ones thirst
But I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first

If you'd like to hear the song, click here.  Flags is the last song on the digital record bearing the same name.

The Biggest Loser

Last Thanksgiving, I entered a "Teacher's Recipe Contest" sponsored by Taste of Home and Books Are Fun.  My friend Susan thought it would be a good idea.

I like to cook.  I'm a teacher.  It made sense.

I entered two of my cheesecakes.  My Nutella Cheescake:

And my Dulce De Leche Apple Cheesecake:

Since my recipes were submitted to Taste of Home, I kind of assume that they own my creations.  You can find the recipes here and here.

When I entered the contest, I was informed that the winners would be announced on February 2nd.  I didn't get an e-mail from anyone on February 2nd (well, not from anyone important - maybe from Gap).  To be honest, I kind of forgot about it.  A few days after the anticipated announcement date, I realized that I didn't win and I scoured the Internet to find out who, exactly, won the contest.

No winner.

A week or two later, I found that Books Are Fun, in an attempt to be technologically relevant, has a Facebook page.  Apparently, according to Books Are Fun, there was a debate over first and second place winners.  The judges couldn't decide.  They were going to announce the winners - and, in a serendipitous fashion, surprise them at their schools during the first week of March.  They said something to the effect of, "out of the 200+ recipes, 175 have been selected for the cookbook."

That sounded odd.  They only had a little over 200 recipes submitted?  Granted, the contest was only for teachers - but 200?

I looked up from my computer (a rare occurance these days).  "Jeremy," I said. "Only 200 recipes were submitted to this teacher recipe contest - and 175 are going to be in the cookbook.  Isn't that odd?  I mean, if I don't make that cookbook, I'll feel really dumb."

Jeremy replied, "If you don't make that cookbook, we're turning our kitchen into our new home gym."

He was teasing, but I started to feel pretty bad.  I hadn't received any kind of notification saying I was one of the 175 who were in the cookbook.  Granted, I don't know if Books Are Fun/Taste of Home would notify folks...but still.  I felt like a culinary loser.  A big, fat, culinary loser.  I felt like Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine needed to take me in on their "Worst Cooks in America" show and teach me their chef-y ways.

I looked on the Books Are Fun Facebook page the day after the 3rd place winner won, and then I looked at the second place winner a few days later.  Under the second place winner, I saw the caption (and I'm paraphrasing here), "this person placed second out of over 14,000 recipes!  Congratulations!"

"Hold up," I thought.


Hey, people - there's a BIG difference between "over 200" and 14,000.

Big.  Substantial.  Huge.  Ginormous.

After I read that, I picked my phone and text messaged Susan.  I'm sure she felt relieved by such news.

But seriously, what kind of wonky math were these people using?  Were they trying to make the rest of us rejects feel bad?

I still don't know if I made the cookbook.  My guess is that I didn't. It would be a neat surprise if I did, but I don't have my hopes up.

At least I don't have to worry about renovating the kitchen space...

Tired. Just Tired.

I'm not going to lie.

I'm tired.

My child has been going through a series of earaches and sickness that seemed (and still seems) never-ending.  This past month has been the worst.  Amelia can't shake the ear pain, the congestion, and the cough.  This week, she coughed so hard she threw up several times.  I would clean her up, wash everything - and then she would puke all over again.

She went from being a great sleeper to a baby who would wake up screaming hysterically in the middle of the night.  Not crying, mind you - screaming.  I often put her to sleep with ear drops, which helped some.  But there have been several nights where nothing would help and we'd just have to hear her scream in the middle of the night for extended periods of time.

Jeremy's started back coaching, so I'm on my own a lot.  I give a lot of props to single mothers.  They're amazing.

Amelia has also been bad when I take her out in public.  She always used to be really good, but she's gotten much worse.  She used to gripe a little bit, but she's actually pitched a few fits.  Maybe the "terrible twos" are coming early.  I see my friend's kids in public - and yeah.  I just feel like Amelia will never be like that good, no matter how hard I work with her. 

Yesterday, she cried for twenty minutes when I handed her a sippy cup.  I. Am. Not. Kidding.

School has also been stressful.  It's "crunch time" around here for the CRCT.  Some of the kids choose to react to "crunch time" by making poor decisions.  It hasn't helped my situation.  I had weird school dreams all night and  I'll probably spend a chunk of this weekend making plans on how to get my kids to pass the CRCT.  Some may call me obsessive, but I don't care.  Good teachers want their kids to do well, grow up, and move on.  That's what I want for my kids.

There's some light at the end of the tunnel.  Amelia is getting tubes in her ears next Friday.  Next Saturday is my birthday.  I'm not going to lie - I was kind of disappointed when I found out that she was going to have surgery on Mom's birthday and that her recovery would carry over to mine.  I wanted to do something fun for my birthday this year, but to no avail.  To be honest, I'm in my 30s (I just shuddered) and it's time to put other priorities over having fun.  And, to also be honest, Amelia's tubes might just be the best birthday present ever.  I'm ready for a healthy baby.

School is going to give me a break, too - spring break.  Thank goodness we're still having it.  I'll take that "extra hour" any day over a forsaken spring break! 

Of course, I realize that this is a whiny post.  Sometimes I just need to gripe out to cyber-space, even if no one wants or cares to read my whining.  This is just one of those days where I could sleep for hours on end and never wake up. 

Exhaustion has set in.

I've got to fight it.