the time i tried to burn our house down

I just walked in the door from a day at school and thought to myself, "Wow! My house smells delectable. I'm so glad I got those Yankee candles."

I checked my email, remembered that I missed an episode of Glee and it would be on Hulu, so I decided to make some popcorn for me & Zooey and snuggle up.

Went over to the microwave, glanced at the candle on the stove... and realized it was still burning. From when I lit it last night.

THAT could have ended poorly...


triumphant return

Zooey wanted me to apologize to her loyal fans for her lack of balancing tricks over the past couple months. She would like all of you to know that she has been "ridiculously swamped." Doing what, you ask?

Well, scrubbing the scuff marks off the hardwood floors, for starters. She said in this picture she's trying to decide what cleaning product to use.

Making sure all the furniture still feels the same in the new house.

ALL the furniture in the house.

Making sure the new house still has snacks.

Making our guests feel... welcome.

Perusing various home improvement magazines. Much to her chagrin, she couldn't find any articles about installing a puppy popcorn dispenser.

But amidst all this madness, she has taken some time out of her packed schedule to "appease the adoring masses." She knew she needed to go big for her return trick, and when she proposed this idea, I knew we had a winner.

So, from Zooey to her *cough* patient followers...

... mazel tov.



Purchase this album now.
I can't describe it with a more accurate description
than the iTunes description:
"... sheer heaven on the aural palate."


weekend, so far

Friday night = Date Night!

Saturday morning = Trinity Food Pantry & Soup Kitchen

Oh - and this is on the drive to church. Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE where we live? We're in a "village", so we have the opportunity to get to know all our neighbors, but we are 2 minutes from dirt roads & farms. It's the 2nd best thing to moving back to NY.

Saturday afternoon = Got home & Doug was washing the porch. Zooey was not a fan.

Debbie & Kress came over! And brought Linc!
Zooey really wanted to play with Linc.
He is such a cutie!

Now it's time for some POPCORN?! and Law & Order.


curtain tutorial

Because you asked...

1. Measure your window & purchase fabric accordingly. Or, see a curtain on sale & think about how cute it would be as cafe curtains and go for it.

2. Lay fabric out flat & measure for cutting (make sure you give yourself a little extra material for hemming).

3. Cut.

4. Hem.
Since I used a shower curtain, with pre-cut-shower-curtain-holder holes, I just folded the striped portion of the material in half and sewed it, creating the-part-of-the-curtain-that-the-rod-goes-through. (Can you tell I don't deal with curtains a lot?) Hint: make sure you hem your sides before the top. I was not a perfectionist with these curtains (they're just in a bathroom, after all), so it only took about 45 minutes to hem. Which is still probably really long. Give me a break, I haven't made anything with a sewing machine since I was in 4-H, like 15 years ago.

5. Hang.

6. Make the rest of your bathroom cute.



getting my weasel on

Soooo, I had a bad day yesterday!

My dear friend Megan (who turned 25 yesterday!) wrote an insightful post about "Living Like Weasels" - not as alarming as it might sound. With an excerpt from Annie Dillard, Megan urges her readers to take a breather from responsibilities and life's stressors and "suck the marrow from the bones of life."

So I did just that. I took a personal day & just enjoyed life.

I began my "Weasel Day" by sleeping in until 7:30 - almost 1 hour and 45 minutes longer than normal! I got up and made a list of all the fun things my day would entail.
I had a blissfully slow morning - cuddling with Zooey for some devos in I John ("God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything!") and some Faulkner - As I Lay Dying.
Doug: "You read this whole book today?"
Me: "Of course not. I read it in 3 hours this morning."
I played piano.
I wrote to our adorable Compassion boy, Fitsum (who just turned 6 last week!).
I finished making curtains (out of a shower curtain) for our downstairs bathroom.
I walked, I listened to music, I cleaned.
Just for fun - here's a picture of Zooey staring at me after I've said, "Do you want..." and then the second picture is what happens when I say "dinner?" or "popcorn?" or "walk?"
Doug came home early & we went to look at couches, cracking ourselves up with ridiculous jokes the whole time.
We ate Hungry Howie's pizza for dinner.
I baked an apple pie.
We ate apple pie while watching Modern Family.

AND I received so many encouraging emails & text messages from family and friends. Thank you all for your affirmation and love.

Who knew living like a rodent could be so delightful?
I highly recommend it.


before you begrudge us our summers...

We teachers have it so easy! We get done with work at 2:45 in the afternoon and have the whole summer free! What kind of life is that?

- - - - -

Why don't you get up in front of a class full of teenagers, get them all to pay attention, try to explain dangling and misplaced modifiers, try to get them to value literature and education in general?

Why don't you deal with disrespectful students?

Why don't you listen to a parent attack you because you're "obviously out to get" their kid - because you failed them when they never studied for a test, never turned in assignments and never paid attention in class?

Why don't you deal with rolling eyes and students making fun of you behind your back?

Why don't you mourn the [self-inflicted] death of a former student while trying to counsel students through their grief and all the whys surrounding suicide?

Why don't you struggle alongside a student who just doesn't get it and tries so hard, only to fail?

Why don't you stand calmly and patiently when a student screams at you in the middle of the hallway because you "betrayed her trust" because you had to tell her parents about her self-harming behavior?

Why don't you invest all your energy, all your free time, all your heart into your job, only to have a former student tell you he doesn't think you're a good teacher?

- - - - -

Please, PLEASE stop telling me how easy I have it. There are days I would LOVE to trade what I go through for a 9-5 year-round job.

I picked my job, you picked yours - we've each got our perks. You don't carry the emotional baggage of 100 kids around everywhere you go, and I get 2 months that prevent me from having a psychiatric meltdown.



Yes, that's right: closets. I thought this blog couldn't get more dull, but folks, I was wrong.

Pictured below are our two downstairs closets. In hindsight, I don't really know why I'm doing this post. I took the pictures at totally different times of day, so the colors are bizarre in the night (after) photos... making it look like we've painted our entire house yellowish. The colors of the walls are essentially the same as the before pictures, except slightly more "gray" tint.

I basically just wanted to showcase my organizational skills... but instead, I've displayed my complete ineptitude in photography & photoshop! You're welcome.

Up next in this scintillating blog: The Various Shades of Brick In My Basement & Other Things You Never Cared To See In Other People's Homes!


caramel corn

Whoa, 2 blog posts in one day. I'm getting carried away. And it's another food post! This blog is getting more boring & I'm getting fatter every day. C'est la vie! (Which, loosely translated from the French means "Sweet bliss, all this sugary goodness is so worth it!")

How is it possible that I've lived for 25 years and have never made caramel corn?! It is ridiculously easy & extremely delicious.

1 bag popcorn
3/4 c packed brown sugar
6 T butter
3 T light corn syrup
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t vanilla

1. Heat oven to 300.
2. Pop popcorn & remove all unpopped kernels. Put popcorn in baking or roasting pan (I used a cake pan). Keep warm in oven while making caramel mixture.
3. In saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue boiling at moderate, steady rate for 5 more minutes.
4. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.
5. Pour caramel over popcorn; stir gently to coat. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir mixture; bake 5 minutes more. In the meantime, butter a large piece of foil.
6. Spread caramel corn on buttered foil; cool. (Stores in airtight container for a week.)


saturday mornings

I always love Saturdays, but there's something extra special about slow, sleepy Saturday mornings in fall . . . Sleeping in. Waking up, only to trudge downstairs and curl up with Zooey on the couch. Homemade iced mochas & French toast. Reading blogs & catching up on the lives of family & friends. Baking the rest of my mini cheesecakes. Reflecting on the high school retreat, where I get paid to hang out with teenagers (yeah, it's exhausting, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I had a blast). Planning crafts with friends & girls' nights with new neighbors. Listening to the steady churn of the washing machine. The anticipation of college football in the afternoon . . . delightful.


mini cheesecakes

Just made these bad boys tonight. Our friends Katy & Andrew came over for dinner, and I had seen this recipe for Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes over at (where else?) Annie's Eats.

Amazing. If you like cheesecake, easy recipes & cute things - this is the dessert for you.

Also - check out this amazing idea for an ice cream social! Ice cream might be my favorite food ever, and I'm running out of excuses for the amount that I consume, so this might be the way to go...



One of my favorite memories of Grandma and Grandpa is when I went to visit them in Florida with Lyndsay. We were driving to their house and they were going back and forth about something. Grandma turned around to face me and Lyndsay and said, "Your grandpa's deaf!" Without missing a beat, Grandpa piped up, "Your grandma mumbles!"

Through thick & thin - they're still going strong. Happy 70th anniversary to Grandma & Grandpa!

Why I Love Teaching, Exhibit A

Journal question for my juniors today: Would you rather bathe in a tub full of spiders or sleep in a cave full of snakes?

One student's response:

"I hate spiders just as much as this question... and I hate this question a lot. The answer, however, is obvious, since spiders are my worst fear. I would have to choose the snakes. I would challenge the king snake to a duel, and if I killed him then his snakepeople would have to obey my commands. I would obviously kill him with my bare hands then eat him for dinner. Then I could sleep peacefully."


cinnamon carmel apple delight!

INTERNET - I have made an incredible discovery.

Remember when I made taco bowls? Well, as I was enjoying that tasty meal, I thought to myself, "Self - these baked bowls could easily be transformed to a tasty dessert."

I was right.

Soft tortilla shells
Vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Warm tortillas in microwave for about 10 seconds.
3. Butter both sides of tortillas.
4. Sprinkle some cinnamon-sugar and rub the tortilla together to coat.
5. Place prepared tortillas in ramekins and set on cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
7. Carefully remove from ramekin.
8. Scoop ice cream into tortilla bowl.
9. Drizzle with carmel.
10. Enjoy this sweet, cinnamon treat!

Here's an extra special treat - -

I didn't have carmel... or vanilla ice cream, so on my way home from running errands, I stopped at the Coldstone that's about 30 seconds from our house (I know, extremely dangerous). I was all set to order vanilla ice cream with carmel swirled through it when I saw their seasonal special: CARMEL APPLE ICE CREAM. Sweet bliss. You MUST try this - it was perfect for this dessert!


domestic violence

First she gets sprayed by a skunk, then she starts abusing Doug. To clarify - I'm talking about Zooey, not myself.

On Wednesday morning, Doug woke up at 4:45am (without an alarm) and was pumped to take Zooey for a walk, do his devos, and go to work early to get a ton of stuff done. So he and Zooey started off, and since no one else was out at that ungodly hour, he let Zooey off her leash for a good romp in the park. Except that a local skunk was also enjoying his romp and Zooey wanted to play. She proceeded to jump back and forth over said skunk, just to make sure she was cloaked in his scent. Safe to say, Doug did not get as much done that morning as he had hoped. We doused Zooey in everything we had around the house: diced tomatoes (yeah, didn't have plain tomato juice... there are still remnants on our patio), peroxide+baking soda+dish detergent, mouthwash, vinegar, human shampoo, dog shampoo... Doug finally ended up going to our vet and purchasing a glorious product called "Skunk-Off". She was given another bath in it yesterday, and the scent is pretty much gone.

To retaliate for all those baths, Zooey clobbered Doug in the face this morning. She was pretty hyper this morning, and Doug was bending down to pick up one of her chew toys right when she decided she needed to jump at his face. Ouch. Commence black eye and split lip. (Could have been worse, right Mom? Could have wound up with a detached retina and pirate eye patch! Too soon?)

Here's Doug, doing his best Marshall Mathers impression.

Where is this blog going? This is the 2nd family comparison to Eminem... who knew we were so gangsta?


a new school year

I've been reading through Philippians recently, trying to take the time to digest what's there and truly understand what I'm reading. I've been mulling over Philippians 1:9 for a few days.
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight..."
I've been asking myself what it MEANS to love in knowledge and depth of insight.

So, for today's journal response with my juniors, I decided to ask them just that! What does it mean to love in knowledge & depth of insight? What does it look like when one lives that way?

Here were some of the responses I received.
"We can love in depth of insight by knowing why we love others. We have the insight of knowing we ultimately love others to show the love of Christ. If we love with knowledge and depth of insight our love will make a difference in the hearts of others."
"... By this he might mean making their love a deeper, more full love. This kind of love would not just be a superficial, casual love, but one that involves thinking and deliberate action. This might also mean thinking about how to love others."
"... to love others in an understanding way... having a selfless love, with insight into the person's life and knowing how to help them or show God's love to them. It is a love that grows and develops with time."
"It is to love as Christ loves. When someone doesn't deserve it and you still love them. It is loving your enemy. It is unconditional crazy love, like the love Hosea had for his wife although she didn't deserve it."
"This kind of love is intentional; it is choosing to love even though it is not convenient for you. It is making an effort to show love to all of God's creation - not just those you feel especially comfortable around."
"... means to love through Christ and to love how Christ loves us. When I love people, it should be based on the knowledge that Christ loves me."

... out of the mouths of babes ...

It's going to be a good year.


quick & random

School starts tomorrow. Yikes.

Doug & I went to his dad's house in Indiana yesterday and came back today. We now have a washer & dryer. Yay! Our house is slowly but surely coming together.

I made taco bowls and homemade seasoning tonight for dinner, ala Annie's Eats. If you like tacos, you must try this homemade seasoning and quick trick for making taco bowls!

My friend Debbie had her baby last week!
Lincoln Kress Townley - beautiful little guy.

And finally, here's a sneak peek of some of the work that we've been doing on our house! The room that I not-so-affectionately called "the neapolitan room" has become "the yellow room".

More to come at some point in the future...