Spring into Summer Reading!

It’s finally spring! I actually wrote this first draft sitting outside on my porch in between entering grades.

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It was still cold! I was in sweats and slippers

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Man, I love the view from my balcony.

When we moved in, we couldn’t use our little balcony area. It had this horrid green astro turf that the previous owner had let their pet piddle on. It also was moldy and plain old gross. We were at Ikea and saw this amazing tile. It is plastic and snaps together. We rolled up the green grossness, and started laying down the tiles.

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The grossness is rolled away, and the tiles are going down

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Tada! We finished laying them, and now we have chairs, too!

I love my job. I am so excited when my kids have an “Aha!” moment and finally understand what I’ve been teaching. But sometimes…it takes alot of work on both our sides (and mom and dad’s) to reach that. It can be draining, but trust me, it’s so worth it. Lately I’ve taken to watching teacher Vlogs while I grade because it’s something outside my immediate bubble that I can learn from. The Lettered Classroom on YouTube is amazing, as is Teachers Learn 2. I love seeing a super organized class, but also seeing the unorganized one. I aim for the organized one, but it generally fails. At least we all know where stuff is in my class. (except the glue sticks. No clue why they don’t seem to notice they’re ALWAYS by the pencils. Selective eye sight? Pencil Tunnel Vision? Seriously, it’s an epidemic.)

I decided to offer my kids a summer reading challenge, with an ice cream party at the end. I’m kind of excited to be looking ahead to next year. ย If you want to see the book list/tentative parent letter, clickย here. It is still being worked on, but I’m definitely using that list! This isn’t your typical list. It doesn’t have a single book title. Some choices include: a book that was published the year you were born, a book from the bottom shelf of a library, and a book whose author has the name first or last name as you. Don’t those sound so fun?

The main reason I’m offering this, is to attempt to deepen their desire to read. Reading is vital to learning. ย I shudder to think about what would happen if some of my kids didn’t open a book all summer. Yikes!

I know there are no recipes in this…but that’s mainly because I have barely had time to cook, much less take pictures. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

 

Thank Goodness It’s Pizza Night

Some days I wish I lived in a perfect little world. A world where my house was always clean, the dishes washed themselves, and someone other than me folded and put away the laundry. A world where all 13 of my students would learn a new concept the first time I taught it, and smile and say, “Mrs. McFeters, this was so easy. I definitely understood when we work an addition or subtraction problem we always start at the ones place.” A world where I never forgot to hit start on the coffee pot while I got ready and I never had to rock out an outfit with a coffee dribble from hitting a pothole on the way to work. But I don’t.

Unfortunately that world only exists in my daydreams. However, even with all of it’s imperfections this is a good life. Yes it’s full of little inconveniences. (When I get to heaven I fully intend to have a chat with Eve. Grr….) I am so blessed to have a good husband, and a family that cares about me. I am also incredibly blessed to have 13 kiddos in my class that think I’m really good at math-and that in itself is a miracle. I had quite the time studying how to teach the multiplication tables. An array? What is this magic you speak of? I digress.

Whenever I think about making a bad day better, I think about being back home and having pizza night. I used to love it. We could each pick out our own toppings, and we would cover the available space on the kitchen cabinets with pans of pizza.So amazing.

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This is the most current picture of my sisters and I. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I married Scott, I got to enjoy his dad’s pizza. I may or may not invite us over whenever I hear he’s making pizza. It’s WONDERFUL. He makes a thai chicken pizza. He’s told me what goes on it, but I can’t remember for the life of me.

I decided that after going to a funeral today for a friend, this was a pizza kind of night. It has been quite the day, and homemade pizza was just what I needed.

My current favorite pizza is a spicy sausage, mushroom, and green pepper pizza. Don’t go for mild sausage, just trust me. It lends just the right spice to the pizza. When I’m in a rush, I run into winco and pick up one of the fresh dough packs they sell for $1.28. So worth it.

But, tonight I had time and energy. What a rare combination in my life. So I pulled out my current favorite pizza dough. It makes just enough dough to cover my pampered chef baking sheet and doesn’t shrink up like some other recipes. Ahem…winco’s. But still worth the dollar.

Pizza Crust (Adapted from here)

1 Cup h20 from the tap, as hot as you can get it.
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. Proof the yeast. If you don’t know what that means, basically you will have water at the perfect temperature. Then add the sugar and the yeast. Give it a good stir and wait 5 minutes. If the yeast bubbles and smells…well….yeasty, you know you are good to go.
  3. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, and oil. Stir until combined. It might be sticky. Turn it out onto a floured counter. Add flour as needed. Knead until it’s a smooth dough. Roll it until it’s in the shape you want. As for me…that is a shape that tries its best to look like a rectangle.
  4. Pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes. This will prevent it from having a soggy bottom (as Mary Berry says about pies.)
  5. Remove from the oven. Add the sauce and the toppings. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. And voila. Pizza!
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Orange Cake

 

Whew. I survived mother’s day. Our church hosted a tea for 120 ladies. We recruited men to serve, and I conned my husband into running the kitchen. Needless to say, the months heading up to the tea has been insanely busy. I have been doing school full time, I work full time, I’m a pastor’s wife, and at some point in all of the craziness, we had to eat. We’ve eaten a lot of pancakes and sandwiches. (I’m sick of them, lol)

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one of the tables

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The view from at the entrance

Today was operation: clean kitchen. It’s been sadly neglected in our many days of not being home, and the table somehow always manages to collect the odds and ends. Someday, I will figure out a better system for our mail! As I was cleaning, I realized I had oranges that needed to be eaten right then or dumped. I was going to dump them, but then I felt bad. (starving people everywhere scenario) so I decided to make an orange cake.ย 20160509_183753

I wasn’t sure about this recipe because it called to separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and drop the yolks in one at a time, mixing well between additions. Then, it asks me to beat the whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold it in. I was hoping it wasn’t necessary, so I did some research. Apparently it IS necessary. I found some good information here and here.

The batter was very thick before I added the egg whites, almost like a bread. But once I added the whites, it was much easier to deal with. It made my entire house smell delicious while it baked!! I’ve also discovered the dollar tree carries parchment paper. If you’ve never worked with parchment paper, you’re missing out. Layer it in your pan, spray it, and pop it in the oven. When it’s done, you just pull the paper away. No scrubbing a messy pan. Just pop it in the dishwasher, and boom. You’re done.

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My cake is ready to go with his parchment lined pan!

This recipe gives a pleasant hint of orange. It isn’t overpowering, and it’s wonderfully light and fluffy.

Orange Cake

2/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
3 large oranges
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Grease an 8×8 pan, or line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed, until creamy and fluffy. (Should be about 2 minutes) Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between each addition.

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no…really. one yolk at a time.

With the mixer on a low speed, add the juice from the oranges. The mixture may look curdled at first, but that’s ok. It will smooth out as you mix it.

Slowly add the flour and baking powder beating on low speed. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add them to the batter, folding in carefully to not break up the air bubbles. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.20160509_183743.jpg

Goodbye Apartment

Oh man. I honestly never thought this would happen…but guys…We are about to sign closing papers on a house. In less than 3 weeks, We’re going to own a home. I can paint, change the pull things in the kitchen, upgrade the appliances..or keep the old ones! It’s our choice!

I’m aware that home ownership has it’s own set of problems…but at least they’ll be my problems, fair and square! I look around my little apartment and as happy as I am to be leaving it, it makes me a little sad.

I mean…it took me 2 years to finally hang curtains. Make a gallery wall. Actually make my house look cute instead of like a college kids dorm. This is where I planned my wedding and made the decorations with my mom. Where I made 8 dozen cookies the week of the wedding. (I have no idea why I didn’t stop and ask for help, but that’s in the past. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Soon I’ll be painting my kitchen-we already picked out the paint colors! I’ll be picking cute curtains and yanking out old wallpaper. The extra bedroom will be an office, and the master has 2 closets…2 for me, none for him… Just kidding! I might actually share.

But, here we go! A new phase in life, and a new set of opportunities. I can’t wait!

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Pb cookies and 21dayfix results

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It’s finally feeling like christmas. My tree is bursting with presents, my sister comes next week, we had our Christmas cantata, and I’m making cookies. We work in a nursing home and discovered that on Christmas day, some residents have no where else to be. Some it’s because they celebrated early, some because their kids have no way to accommodate their wheelchairs, the reasons go on and on. While some families bring christmas to them….it’s just not the same. On a whim last year, Scott and I took hot cocoa mix to them on Christmas day. They loved it! It even made a lady get all tearful we thought of her on Christmas.
So this year: cookies! I have to make enough cookies for 50 people. I got started last night with my first batch. I made 4 dozen for the nursing home, and 2 dozen for my husband. Can’t make his favorite cookies and not give him any! I modified a bhg recipe to tweak it to my personal taste. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are now in my freezer, ready to go.
Tonight I’ll make checker board cookies. They look fairly simple, but oh so cute!
Before I share my recipe for the cookies, I wanted to share my 21dayfix results. In 21 days, I lost 5.6 pounds and 7.5 inches! It’s so crazy!
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I didn’t stick to the plan as diligently as I should have, and I still lost weight and inches. It was easy! Dump tje.food in the containers, eat it, do the workout, drink the water, and just keep going! Take each day as it comes, and do your best. The best part was when my husband said you look even more fit than the day I married you. ๐Ÿ™‚ he’s right! I weigh less and have slimmed down.
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While that is a horrible selfie, you can tell my face is slimmer and believe it or not, my waist is. That particular shirt didn’t fit the week of the wedding. ๐Ÿ™‚
Enough about weightloss! Onto the cookies!
Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

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Yupp. 5 dozen cookies!

1 cup peanut butter
1 cut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips.
With a mixer, cream the pb and the butter until incorporated. Add the sugars, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until it is combined. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix. Add in the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Use your machine as much as possible. Mix the rest in by hand. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough for 20 minutes, or until you can roll it. Roll each cookie into a 1 inch ball, set 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a fork dipped in flour, make a criss cross pattern on it. Bake at 375 for 7-9 minutes.