1st project

Baby dress to be sent to Africa this spring.




it's cake. and a cookie.

sweet. merciful. wonder.

(recipe here)



Because of the snow day last week, one of our exam days was pushed back to today, which means I had another half day at work, which means I have another half day to play with Zooey! It is freezing outside & quite blustery, but it was so pretty that I bundled up, grabbed my camera & headed out with Zooey for a walk.

This is one of my favorite spots in our neighborhood, right at the end of our driveway. I've affectionately dubbed this little corner "Rainbow Alley", for obvious reasons.
Getting to the pumpkin patch, where we typically let Zoo off her leash to romp around, was looking like a little too much work for my freezing, lazy self...
so I just let her off the leash in the neighborhood. Technically, she was on an invisible leash because she was wearing her shock collar (sorry, PETA). Anyway, we were walking by a line of trees and she saw a plastic bag caught in some undergrowth and decided it was a formidable enemy.
She ran at it with reckless abandon, only to stop short, sniff and saunter back to me. I'm not sure if she figured out that it was an inanimate object or just got too scared.

Anyway, she just jumped up on the couch with one of my slippers and is resting her head on it looking forlorn, so I'm off to join her on the couch for some cozy cuddle time with a mug of hot chocolate. Oh, beloved half-days and snow days...


brownie cookies

These things are SO good & SO easy.

1 pkg brownie mix
1 egg
1/3 c Crisco, melted

Mix it all together.
Drop onto greased cookie sheet (I rolled mine into little balls).
Bake at 350 for about 9-10 minutes.
Let cool on pan for a couple minutes.
Eat while warm & chewy & amazing. You WILL need a glass of milk.

Frosting: Swiss buttercream, ala Smitten Kitchen. Wow.

Happy Saturday night!

balancing queen

My dog is so awesome. I assure you, this is not an optical illusion - Zooey is really balancing a small vase of flowers (with water in it). And, it was all her idea! In fact, to prove it, let's rewind, shall we?
Me: "Can you take a picture of my date night outfit?"
Doug: "Sure. With your cute flowers?"
Me: "Obviously."

So, thanks, Andrea - for my adorable daffodils! We had a lot of fun with them!



Zooey loves when I have half-days, too.


recently i'm (12)

Enjoying: a 4-day weekend!! Thank you, MLKjr & fake snow-day! Zooey & I are very appreciative.

Wearing: my husband's clothing...

Listening to: Mandi Mapes's new cd - Til I'm Home. Sweet wonder.

Baking: Recently made these by Annie's Eats (& blogged about it here). A-mazing.
Also, since I have a snow day today, I experimented and used peanut butter chips instead of the initial 8 oz of semisweet chocolate... they're okay, but in hindsight, I would just do half semisweet & half pb chips.

Watching: The new show with Matthew Perry, aka Chandler Bing, looks like it might be funny... plan on checking that out. Also, Doug & I watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on Sunday afternoon. Such a quirky movie, but I enjoyed it!

Decorating: I finally bought knobs to put on our cupboards! I need to buy a couple more screws (Note to hardware makers - alternate your screw size! Drawers are thicker than cupboards!), but it's better than nothing!

Kinda coveting admiring: This makeover, via Design*Sponge. I want a "writing room"!

Cooking: Doug came home for lunch today & I made chicken with raspberry sauce. I had planned on making this as a meal last week, but we went out with friends. It would look cuter if I hadn't cut up all the chicken to cook it faster. I think this sauce would be great as a marinade, so I froze the leftovers to try it out later.
Reading: Finished 2 books this weekend. My adult small group just started The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, and I'm also reading The Secret of Contentment by William Barcley. Plus, I have "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" and "Seymour: An Introduction" by Salinger waiting for me... once I'm done grading all my papers. Oh, anticipation and delayed gratification.

Thankful: that Jeanette & Eli came to visit me on Saturday! I have missed my J-unit so very much. And J-unit, thank YOU for this delightful diversion!
Looking forward to: half-days the rest of the week. Wouldn't it be great if all work weeks were like this?!


my 1st live blog

I've read of a few "live blogs" where people continually update a post as something is happening - usually a tv show, a game, the Oscars, a fashion show - whatev. So, I figured I would try a satirical live blog of an evening alone at home. I've written some pretty boring things on this blog, but this one might take the cake. More specifically, this cake. Which has me drooling.

Anyway, I'm going to back track a little before going "real time". Doug & his friend Luke are going to the Red Wings game tonight. Sidenote: This is Doug's first time attending a Red Wings game ever! They left our house around 5:30pm. I heated up some leftover baked pasta from 2 nights ago, buttered some bread, and enjoyed a quiet meal as Zooey stared at me, cocking her head to various degrees as she brainstormed ways to get my food. Last night, Doug & I had date night: We went to Bahama Breeze, where I ordered the amazing Chicken with Cilantro-Crema... and promptly forgot my leftovers! Hate that! Afterwards, we went to Barnes & Noble, where I used a gift card to purchase 3 new books! Sweet bliss. I stayed up until 3am finishing A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini), crying my eyes out due to a plethora of emotions caused by said novel. If you haven't read it - drop everything you're doing and run, not walk, RUN to a bookstore/Amazon.com and purchase it now. The 2nd novel that I purchased, which I am currently enjoying is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. All that to say, welcome to my Saturday Night Home Along Live Blog, January 15, 2011. Things are about to get crazy up in here.

6:23pm - Laugh at myself and my nerddom. Google nerddom real quick to make sure it's a word. Currently sitting on the red couch, Zooey to my right, looking sleepily around the room. I am on page 132 in what I keep referring to as The Curious Dog.

634pm - Tried looking up how to do an expandable post, as this might end up being kind of long... got really confused. Robert just called & we're going to Skype!

7:18pm - Done Skyping with Robert! Okay, I'm going to try to tackle this expandable post thing one more time...

7:28pm - Whatever! This is getting boring. My brain is not HTML compatible. Back to my book.

8:17pm - Finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Captivating read! Zooey has jumped up to bark at doors closing outside 3 times. I'm going to make popcorn & browse Hulu to see if I want to watch Modern Family or something else.

8:52pm - Watching The Office... just doesn't have that old Office spark. Time to throw in the towel.*Edit: Or the half-ply toilet paper.


eight bucks

If you've got a spare $8, consider donating to World Orphan's clean water project in Haiti.
  • Safe water & sanitation has the potential to prevent at least 9.1% of global disease and 6.3% of all deaths.
  • Worldwide, 884 million people do not have access to improved water sources.
  • Improved water & sanitation could save the lives of 1.5 million children per year.
In addition, sanitary water can help prevent further spread of cholera throughout Haiti.

And for just eight dollars, you can provide a water filtration system for a whole family! Click here to give now.

*All facts from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention.



23 random memories with Robert...

1. Trying to build a car with a cart Grandpa used for paintings.
2. Swimming in flood water... Robert pointing a stick at me & pretending it was a gun.
3. Singing "Shimeee shincooopad!" in the barn.
4. Driving home after school the day I took the truck into the ditch, laughing about the thought of me driving the truck into someone's house.
5. All the forts we built with the dining room table.
6. The infamous watermelon joke at the dinner table...
7. Pretending to die after he tried to choke me one time...
8. Pinning him to the floor, holding me elbow at his temple & hissing, "I could kill you right now."
9. Hiding fake bugs & that fake rat in Mom's cupboards.
10. Playing Power Rangers at Grandpa & Grandma Lynk's.
11. Playing foosball & the ever-effective "angel touch"
12. Apples to Apples & the re-appearance of Helen Keller throughout the game.
13. Driving around Plymouth with Tim Hortons iced mochas.
14. All the band injuries that I didn't believe at first...
15. Walking to piano lessons together & hoping SJ wouldn't come to the door...
16. People-watching at horse shows: "Russians."
17. Nearly getting lost in the woods after lunch during bud-tying
18. Apple wars when we were supposed to be thinning...
19. Playing guitar together & thinking we were so awesome.
20. Playing Legos & "Cars & Trucks" for hours on end.
21. Playing catch in the back yard - me, always the QB and you always the WR... thinking we were probably the best combo since Jim Kelly & Andre Reed. Or something like that.
22. The multiple haircuts I gave you at such a tender age.
23. All the random jokes, fights, pranks, triumphs - - partners in crime (& punishment).

Happy birthday, brosive. I love you so much!


real life conversations, pt. 12

[So, I have this little issue where I'll start to worry about something small, and before I know it, I've turned into this fatalistic freak, as if I'm watching a fire-breathing dragon burning down all of my hopes and dreams. See? Things get intense quickly. I'm working on it.]

Doug: You really need to stop worrying about this.
Me: I can't help it! I was born two weeks early! I'm a go getter! I can't help focusing on the future!
Doug: How long have you had that one in your pocket?
Me: Yeah, I thought of it yesterday. I was hoping I could work it into a conversation.


professional development

As a teacher, there is no such thing as a boring, routine day. Sure, the madness begins to feel more routine after a year or two, but I'm assuming any time you work with people... there will never be a real routine. Granted, there have been times where people ask how school is going, and I've been guilty of answering, "Oh, it's the same." But I don't usually clarify that "the same" means "totally unpredictable."

For example, today I smelled a girl's boot to verify if, in fact, it did "smell like cat pee."

Yes, yes, it did.


recently i'm... (11)

In the middle of: menu-planning & making a grocery list.

Planning: canning goodness for next summer

Excited about: half-days next week because of midterms

Proud of: the fact that I finished grading research papers by the deadline I set for myself! Also, that I've been able to control myself & savor Dad's homemade caramels for so long!

Looking forward to: Doug getting home from taking Zooey to the park so we can have leftover Thai.

Reading: Doug got me Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris for Christmas. Funny, but dark (a.k.a. pretty typical). All of my students just turned in book reviews, so I'll be reading those for the next couple weeks.

Watching: I got Doug the 1st season of Modern Family for Christmas. He was on a business trip to St. Louis this past week, so Zooey & I bonded over many an episode.

Cooking: The week's line up - "Mon: breakfast dinner. Tues: Italian Chicken in the crockpot. Weds: Chili. Thurs: Leftovers. Fri: Shepherd's Pie." Haha, I love that all of those are such winter comfort foods!

Decorating: I'm ashamed to admit that it took me so long, but I finally put up the apple & peach cross-stitchings from my grandma. We've only lived here for 5 months... and this is the first thing on our walls. Everything looked so bare after Christmas that I was compelled to decorate a little bit.

Annoyed with: my blog. I'm feeling super lazy about updating & writing. Or taking pictures & posting. I'm in a winter funk.

Hearing: the garage door! Time for Thai.


real life conversations, pt. 11

While flipping through tv channels at home last week, we came across the timeless classic Drumline.

Me: "Oh, is this with Nick Cannon?"
Doug: "Yeah."
Mom: "What's a nickannon?"
Me: "... A human being."


christmas break, pt. 2

12.28 - (Oops -Dad P & Elizabeth left the 27th.) Zach, Michele & Sam left around 6:30am. Doug & I took down the Christmas tree & cleaned the house & did laundry and left for NY around noon. We had a delicious meal with my family and Gram & Gramps. Then we opened gifts together & took turns playing piano.

12.29 - Nesbitt Christmas! Didn't take any pictures there, but got a semi-cute picture of me & Doug afterward... not really sure what's going on with our eyes in this picture...

12.30 - Mom, Doug, Emily, Jayne & I went ice skating in Batavia. Afterward, we went through the Wendy's drive-thru, where the girl working attempted to dump 3 large drinks all over my mom. Later, Mom, Doug & I walked to the pond and D&I went ice skating on the pond.

12.31 - Bannister Christmas! So awesome to see all of my family! So much laughter and fun. I love the Bann Clan. Yep, just made that up.

After everyone left, we stayed up to watch the ball drop & usher in the New Year. While waiting, we finished up the pool tournament, which Emily ended up winning!
Happy New Year!


christmas break, pt. 1

12.17 - 12.19 - Chicago for Doug's birthday, visiting Dave & Sara

12.19 - Stopped in Jackson on the way home for an unofficial SAU alum Christmas party/celebration of Clay's homecoming.

12.20 - Finished Christmas shopping. Began cleaning house for Christmas visitors. Made a cute little headband/earwarmer for Fabs.

12.21 - Cleaned house in the morning. Took pictures for a family in the afternoon. Took Doug Starbucks. :)

12.22 - Took family pictures in the morning. Decorated cookies with Katy in the afternoon! Made yummy homemade pizza for dinner!

12.23 - Cleaned like a mad woman. Dad P & Elizabeth arrive in the afternoon. The 4 of us ordered Chinese for dinner and played Uno Attack (love this game!) and many rounds of euchre.

12.24 - Christmas Eve! Zach & Michele & Sam & their dog, Peewee arrived around 4am. Doug woke up to welcome them. I did not. We had a lazy morning, lounging & laughing at the dogs. And then spent a ton of time trying to keep them from smelling one another's rear ends incessantly.
Zooey also curled up in Peewee's tiny bed.
Doug & I went to the Christmas Eve service at church. When we came home, Nic & Bradley came over and we all had appetizers & desserts. And styled Doug & Peewee's hair the same way.

12.25 - Merry Christmas! Doug & I were the first ones awake, as I wanted to make French toast for everyone. Plus, we had to see what Santa got for Zooey. We also took a family Christmas pic.
Then I spent the whole day cooking. I'm really glad Doug took this picture, because it accurately conveys how I was feeling as the dinner hour rapidly approached!
We ate at 4:30pm: apple-spiced pork, apricot-ginger pork, roasted asparagus, festive jello salad, homemade dinner rolls, & cheesy hashbrown casserole.
After dinner, we opened gifts.
I surprised Doug with snowshoes & my sweet husband surprised me with a 50mm lens... which I used to take a picture of our glorious dessert - Mom's ice cream cake recipe. YUM.

12.26 - 12.27 - Many rounds of Uno Attack were played in the Parton family. We also went ice skating, went to Meijer to get their amazing peach mango salsa, ate a lot of food, chased a lot of butt-sniffing dogs, laughed at videos of "Sharon" ... you know, the usual. :)

All in all, a delightful time with my in-laws. Z&M&Sam - we really wish you guys lived closer!