Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beto, My Sparkly Angel

I set a goal for myself today.

It really isn't one of lofty proportions.

I have a black dress that I bought from the White House|Black Market (or is it White Market, Black House?  I always forget.) outlet.  I bought said dress for my friend Jenny's wedding, but I ended up buying a more Christmas-sy, cupcakey dress because I thought I fit the occasion more appropriately (Jenny got married around Christmas).  Even though I kind of looked like a Christmas Cupcake in dress 2, I stand by the decision I made to wear it.

Which leads me back to dress #1.  This dress is a little more, well...va-va-voom...than a dress I would normally buy.  I tried it on at Black Mar...er...that stupid store...and showed it to my mother-in-law.

"You need to buy this dress," she said.  "It looks good on you."

And I was sold.

When I thought about taking it back (after I purchased the Cupcake Dress), my mother made me try it on.

"I like that dress better.  You need to keep that dress."

And I was sold again.

Now, however, I have a dress nice dress that is sitting in my closet with the tags still on it.  It isn't a church dress.

It's a "hey I wanna look nice for a date out with my husband" dress.

It's a "hey, I might be in my 30s, but I can still wear this dress!" kind of dress.

It's a "hey, I'd better not eat too much, or my food baby might show!" kind of dress.

Here is a picture (I can't believe I found it...how on earth do you Google "White House Black Market Black Dress...?):


After I thought about where I could wear this dress, I had an epiphany.

My ANNIVERSARY is coming up.

Then, I had another epiphany.

"Um, what am I gonna look like in that dress?  I ate a whole box of Cheese Nips last week!"

Then, I happened to remember my friend Beto. Beto is the creator of Zumba.  My friend Beto is colorful and sparkly.

Okay, he isn't the real Beto.  He's the Beto for the Wii.   

I'm pretty sure that the Wii Beto (or any Beto, for that matter) doesn't speak English.
This Beto is a lot clearer than my Beto.  I cry foul!

I'm pretty sure that Wii Beto is wearing a pretty spiffy wife-beater.

I'm also pretty sure that Wii Beto doesn't have eyes.

This has not deterred our friendship, however.  I've been taking Zumba classes with him (via a translator) for the past few months.  We've become friends.  Sometimes he tells me that I can do it.  Sometimes I have trouble understand what he's doing.  Sometimes when he gives me the "come on, come on" gesture, I start pondering other gestures to return in his direction (all in fun...Beto knows I love him).

I need Beto.  I consumed 3.4 million calories last week (I have no defense.  Teachers get excited when we don't have kiddies and get to leave the school to eat lunch). Beto needs to get me into dress-ready shape. 

So, I've set a summertime goal for myself.

1) I'm going to do a Zumba workout every day until my anniversary.

2) THEN, my sweet, darling, wonderful husband (you reading this, tur...Jerm?) is going to take me somewhere fabulous for our anniversary in this dress.  Then, I'll eat an unhealthy amount of ...probably steak.  We're going to take a picture.  I'm going to make him smile.

3) And then, I will thank Beto - my sparkly, baggy-panted, neon-shimmery angel from above.  He will smile over me in all of his Zumba glory.

I'll bet you're about to cry knowing you've wasted five minutes of your time reading this pointless dribble.  I'm putting it on the bloggy blog to keep me accountable.

Here I go, yo!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Perspective

Girls' nights are normally pretty...well...normal.  Relaxing.  Fun.  Non-eventful.

Then, you have times when plain ol' strange stuff happens.

This past girls' night, my friends and had a quite atypical experience at Starbucks. 

As we were about to leave, April and Kathi heard a strange noise. 

They hopped into my car.  I was already in the driver's seat and didn't know that anything was amiss.

"Roll down the windows!" one of them said.

I rolled down the windows to hear a girl having a true, honest-to-goodness meltdown.

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!"

The sound radiated across the parking lot.  Everyone sitting outside of the Starbucks heard it.  We heard it perfectly in my car.  People at their tables even turned from their steaming cups of coffee to see what was happening.

"Do you think someone died?" one of my friends asked.

"Something's going on..." the other one said.  "Is she getting into a fight with the other girls around her?"

I paused for a moment.  I knew.  Maybe it was because I work with dramatic 14 year-old girls.  Maybe it was because I often hear that cry coming from the girls' restroom at school (it shares a wall with my classroom).  I don't know how I knew, but I did.

"She broke up with her boyfriend," I said.

A few moments later, the truth was revealed.

"I'm TWENTY-SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIX!" the sobbing girl cried (still in a voice that was unimaginably loud - and for me to say someone's voice is unimaginably loud is quite a statement).  "I CAN'T BELIEVE HE DID THIIIIIS!!!!  I can't go THROOOOOOOOUGH THIS AGAAAAAAAAIN!"

We listened to her for a few moments more.  We couldn't take our eyes off of the chaos.  In our defense, everyone else at Starbucks was alarmed, too.  This girl was a black hole that sucked all energy into her web of weirdness.

Finally, I looked at Kathi.

"You wanna tell her about life?" I asked.

She gave me a knowing look.

"Seriously," she said.

Maybe my friends and I are old and cranky at this juncture in our lives.  But I think all of us pondered the same thought.

Really?

Maybe we're all just smart enough to know that losing a boyfriend  - a simple boyfriend - doesn't require such a dramatic meltdown in public.  I'm not going to repeat someone's story (or stories), but I've seen precious friends incur real drama. 

Sad events.  Life-altering changes. My blog roll is filled with story after story of heartbreak and true crises.

If anyone should be allowed to have a meltdown in public, it should be some of my friends.  Yet, they radiate an unshakable strength. 

This girl wasn't having real drama.  No, what made this girl so...eye-catching...was the way she was acting.  This twenty-six year-old was behaving like she was fourteen, and that comment may actually be insulting to some of my eighth graders.

Meltdown Mama was definitely lacking a good point of view.  Maybe someone needs to tell her that life only gets more difficult as you age.  My pastor frequently says, "it's not if bad things happen, but when." 

I hope she enjoys her naivete while it lasts.

I also hope that one day she shakes off her immaturity to gain a little perspective.

Because those of us with a little smidgen of of a life view found her meltdown simply bewildering and sad.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chocolate Cream Pie - My Variation

My awesome friend Kim gave me a recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie that I believe she found in an old cookbook.

Kim and I adore the Chocolate Cream Pie at 2 Dog, a local restaurant that makes a simply divine Chocolate Cream Pie.

"This isn't like 2 Dog's," she said.  "But it's pretty close.  It's missing...something...but it'll do when you can't have 2 Dog. 2 Dog doesn't use Hershey's Cocoa."

So, I looked at her recipe, thought it over, and made it "my own."

Here's what I came up with.  This makes two pies!

An Attempt at Chocolate Cream Pie

For the pie:
1 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bits, melted (preferably a good dark chocolate)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 stick butter
1/3 cup, all-purpose flour
1 12-oz can, evaporated milk
Vanilla extract
2 deep-dish pie shells (yes, I feel sinful writing that - you can make your own if you'd like)

For the topping:
12-oz container, whipping cream
1/3 cup, powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract, or one vanilla bean

For the pie:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in ten second intervals.  Make sure the chocolate is glossy and melted, but do not overcook it (as it will become lumpy and taste funny).  Add the cocoa powder to the melted chocolate and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture becomes fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time until combined.  Add vanilla, flour, and cooled chocolate, and evaporated milk.  The mixture will be pretty runny.

Pour the batter into both pie shells.  Bake for fifty minutes.  The mixture will be light brown on top and dark and chocolatey in the middle.

It'll crack a little.  That's why God made whipped cream.
See?  Dark in the middle.  I checked.  Just for you. :)
You can serve the pie warm if you wish, but I prefer to chill it overnight, top it with fresh whipped cream, and serve it nice and cold.

(By the way, most people know how to make whipped cream, but if you don't, put your cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl.  Beat the mixture until it is nice, stiff, and fluffy.   Yummy, simple, and heavenly.)
  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Foodie Confessions

I'm not a real foodie.  I'm a pretend foodie.  A psuedo-foodie, if you will.

I'm just a country girl who comes from healthy stock - ancestors who tended to animals and spent days working in deep, red earth.  My appetite is as big as my Papa's plowing fields.

Basically, I'm not a foodie.  I just like to eat. 

But, for the sake of this blog, I like to pretend that I know something about food.  Surely, years and years of watching Food Network and my experiences in the kitchen have taught me ...well, something.  And as I eat more and write more, I learn more from my experiences...it's a simple process, really.  But even simple processes can be thwarted by a hungry appetite.  Sometimes, my appetite desires downright unsophisticated stuff, and sometimes, I make very un-foodie decisions.


So, here are some confessions from my dabbling into food.  I'll confess my foodie sins to you, my priesthood of fellow foodies (okay, I'll just confess to the one other person who reads this blog - hi, Mom!).

1. Cheese Nips.  They aren't really made of cheese...for the most part.  Um, I'm pretty sure they're not nips, either (whatever a nip is...).  They're not even really that great.  So why can't I stay away from Cheese Nips?  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a major cheese snob who likes cheese plates filled with cheese from Europe.  I don't know what my fixation is on those little bitty crackers, but they make my hips grow at an exponential rate.

2.  If I didn't think about what was actually in Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds, I would probably eat them on a regular basis.  If I didn't feel like I was going to die after eating them, I would also probably eat Chicken Planks from Long John Silvers, too.  Both McDonalds and Long John Silvers actually have good Sweet n' Sour sauce...dare I admit it?

3.  I make bad food.  All of the time.  I know through teaching that trial and error makes good teachers, so why can't it make a good cook?  I just made a batch of fried rice that I felt like was "recipe-worthy."  I've been making fried rice for years and I finally liked the final product.  It took me six years to really like it, folks.  Six years (I kept making it because Jerm loves my fried rice - stay tuned for the recipe).

4.  Taco Bell.  I don't care what's in it.  It's good.

5.  I don't cook nearly as much as I should.  My friend Aubrey posts her weekly meals on her blog, and it just makes me feel insanely guilty.  I really would like to cook more this summer when I'm not working, but it gets so hot in the summer that cooking becomes difficult.

6.  My Granny makes the best biscuits in the world.  She showed me how to make them when I was a little girl, but I can't remember how to make them.  This summer, I am determined to learn while she is still able to show me "the ropes."

7.  You know I don't like fennel and cilantro.  Here's another factoid:  I don't think I will ever enjoy a banana.  Amelia loves them, but the smell/taste/texture makes my gag reflex go wild.  I can eat them if they're cooked into muffins or covered in caramel flambe, but other than that...(p.s. Pioneer Woman doesn't like them, either).

8.  I miss pot roast.  Jeremy hates it so much that I never get to make it.  There are some days..ya know...when a girl just wants a simple pot roast from the Crock Pot.

9.  Lucky Charms marshmallows are one of my all-time favorite things.  My mother would not buy me Lucky Charms as a child.  Seriously, Lucky Charms marshmallows taste like forbidden fruit.

I could add more, like I have never tried "real" sushi, or the fact that I really enjoy Cool Ranch Doritos, but I think this enough for now...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why I Love My Job

Sure, the kids can whine.

Sure, the kids can cuss you out.

Sure, the kids can throw paper, pencils, and general miscellany in your direction.

But who else has a job where you get to do this?

The 8th Grade Dance had an 80s theme this year.  The 8th Grade teachers dressed the part, reveling in 80s goodness and being perfectly rad.  We danced with the kids, attempted the Thriller Dance, and drank lots of sherbet punch.

I adore my co-workers.  I love the kids (I really do), but my co-workers make my job tolerable on the bad days and they make it just entirely fun and hilarious on the good ones.  We eat, we laugh, we share, and we wear Snuggies.  And even when the going gets tough and we gripe, we're still a team.  I couldn't ask for better co-workers.

(And, as an addendum, I would like to add that I've worked with some fabulous people who've left, too...I will always consider you a part of my "team" and I love you, too!)

Spring's Whirlwind

Spring really sucked me into a vortex of business and crazy over the past few weeks.  I've been so overwhelmed with the regular "end of the year" things that I haven't been able to do much else.  This post will be disjointed because my Springtime life was pretty scattered.

The end of school was insane this year - possibly the busiest end of school ever.  I went from the "long days," (Don't laugh - those long days were tough on teachers.  There's a big difference between working an extra hour at a desk and an extra hour wrangling 27 14 year-olds.) to the CRCT (which usually, for me, means a day with no break at all), to all of the "end of the year" stuff.  It was fun, crazy, insane, and exhausting.  I really do love Spring at school.  Kids start to grow up in such a sweet, subtle way.  Things blur by and then...it's just over.  I love that.

We went to two Easter egg hunts this year. One was at a friend's home, the other was at my Granny's house.   Unfortunately, because I'm an ADD-ridden spaz, I forgot my camera and didn't take pictures.  Jeremy, however, did take some pictures of Amelia hunting eggs with my mother, "Nana Flower."  We really enjoyed Easter as a family.




We celebrated sisterly achievement.  My sister-in-law Heather had her first concert as a big-time singer (She's truly fabulous.  Go to her website and check her out!) and my baby sister D'Anna GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE.  Yes, you read that right.  Try not to cry and think about how old you are.  She graduated with her Associate's Degree in Nursing and is now an official RN.  She worked so proud to accomplish her goal and I'm so proud of her little over-achieving self. 


Jeremy and I have been able to sneak away from the busyness and spend some good time with Amelia.  We went to the Dahlonega Vegetable Farm and picked our own strawberries (I highly recommend this - so much fun), we went to the new Varsity in Dawsonville, and we also went to the park several times. I can't wait to spend time with my little family this summer.  After her ear surgery, Amelia has been so much better.  She's so pleasant and full of life (for the most part). I can't wait to enjoy my healthy and happy baby girl.


I know that it has been a long time since I blogged.  For the past few weeks, I simply had to devote my free time at night to school.  Now that the rush is over, I hope to get back into writing/blogging/blathering.  It's a passion I simply cannot abandon.