Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The (almost)Family Photo

After 2 trips to IKEA in less than 24 hours, we finally have our "grown up" bedroom nearly completed!  All we need now is one more nightstand and a new coat of paint (we're thinking that we might go with a shade of sage) and we'll be done.  Last night's adventure with the dresser took over 3 hours for us to finish (we definitely had underestimated the amount of time it was going to take us, being that we didn't even get the chance to go see a movie afterward), but today's nightstand only took 30 minutes (which I did on my own while L was at the driving range), and the bed frame only took about an hour with the both of us, though I was the only one turning any screws since L blistered both of his hands pretty badly after golf.  Once we rearranged the room a bit and stood back, we felt much better and comfortable in our grown up bedroom compared to the mattress on the floor and non-matching furniture that we were using up until now.  Just to refresh your memory, here's the before:

 And here's the after:

It's amazing how much better we feel about the room in general, and how much more at home we are now with the house.  Even the simplest changes seem to brighten up our moods as we make the house more "us."

Lastly, here's the (almost)family photo, all we're missing are the degus and the birds-

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crafting for others

It's been awhile since I've done any crafts, so this past weekend I got together with J and we each worked on a project.  So far, all of the crafts that I have made have been for me, and I didn't worry about making mistakes because no one else would ever notice them, but this week's project was made for one of my younger sisters, so I felt the need to be much more meticulous when it came to sewing in a straight line.  What I decided to make for her was a make-up brush travel roll (found here at Twelves Crafts Til Christmas) and it turned out to be very simple!  Here's how it turned out:

Envelope made by J at Secret Pie Shoppe

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The longest 10 days ever!

It's been forever since I've had the opportunity to make this, but the other day, I had a hankering for Amish friendship bread, and I was able to find a starter recipe here at Peace, Love and French Fries!  I had never made the starter before, so I followed her directions carefully, and after 10 days of stirring and mixing, I finally have my bread, and am passing on starters to 4 different people so that they, too, can experience the awesomeness of Amish Friendship Bread!

Friday, March 26, 2010


I totally got to talk to my Scuz (cousin) who is currently residing in Thailand yesterday!  I had debating taking a sub job yesterday, and I'm glad I didn't, otherwise I wouldn't have had been able to answer his call.  Scuz- I don't think you read my blog (though I do read yours when you update it every once in a blue moon...), but I just wanted to say that it was great talking to you and I miss you!  Can't wait to see you when you come back either over the summer or Christmas time.

Good Days

I'm slowly coming to realize that deep down, I really do have a preference for age levels when it comes to teaching (though, in the coming school year, I'll take what ever job is offered to me- provided that any job is offered).  After my horrible experience at the middle school (after multiple positive jobs in 6-8th grade classrooms), and a great day back at the high school level that 9-12th graders are my favorite grades to teach.  I had actually been dreading going back to sub since "the 8th grade turds" but this afternoon I had the pleasure of being able to sub for a couple of wonderful French classes (even though I don't know a word of French, besides "hello" and "goodbye").  They treated me with respect and appreciated how I am generally a pretty laid-back sub.  It was nice to hear even tell me to my face that I am "a cool sub" and that they "wished that they could have me sub every day."  It's hard going into a new classroom every day, with new faces and names to try to learn, but it's days like these that make it worth it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Our Zoo (pt.2)- Meet the Rabbit

Welcome to Part 2 of Meet the Zoo!  Today you'll get the chance to meet and get to know Dwight the rabbit!
L and I adopted Dwight in early October, 2007 from the humane society.  This was the only pet that L and I didn't quite see eye to eye about bringing into our family.  I was all gung ho about getting a rabbit, but L was hesitant, and the first couple of weeks that Dwight was in our home were filled with tension.  After the initial "getting to know you" weeks, things got better, though Dwight wasn't the cute and cuddly bunny rabbit I had thought he was going to be.  While he is still pretty damn cute, I learned pretty quickly that he didn't like to be picked up (which is common for most rabbits- they prefer to have all four feet on the ground!) and that he only liked to be pet on his terms.  I also learned that after they neutered him at the humane society that it would take awhile for the testosterone levels to drop, but after that, he would become less territorial and more friendly towards us.

Dwight quickly learned some commands from us ("get in your house" = get into your cage, snapping = stop what your doing/don't chew on that, kissy/tsky sounds = treats/food, etc.), and we caught on to his quirks an signals as well (especially when it comes to petting him).  L and I originally had no idea how many noises rabbits make (grunts, snorts, teeth grinding).  Back at the apartment, he would sit on the couch with me as I would work on homework, or he would hang out on the Love Sac.  Now, at our new home, he spends a lot of his time laying on our over-sized blue chair/ottoman, or chilling under the dinner table with Darla (whom most of you have met months ago in an old blog post, but she'll have a new updated post next week focusing on her).

While he still isn't Mr. Snuggles, he's got his own personality and we love him for it.  It makes his lovey moments much sweeter (nearly every morning he forces us to pet him while we attempt to eat breakfast, and again while we eat dinner).  People often wonder why we eat so many of our meals on the floor, and it's because it gives us a chance to continue to bond with Dwight and give him the attention he crave every day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I fear that I am starting to form a slightly unhealthy relationship with my crockpot... I LOVE being able to put together a meal, throw it all in the crockpot and then have it be ready by the time that L and I get home from work.  So far, I've made the Tikka Masala chicken, good ol' trusty chicken with cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup, and now I've tried my hand at salsa chicken.  Normally, I'm not a huge fan of salsa (unless it's on my tortilla chips), and was hesitant to make this, but it turned out to be one of the easiest, tastiest, most versatile meal I've made so far.  I was originally going to eat it fajita or taco- style, but I had a craving for jasmine rice, so this evening I am trying it on top of rice with a tortilla for dipping on the side.  If I were feeling up to it, I could have added more condiments and created a burrito, or I could have added a bit of chicken stock to create more of a soup like meal.  Salsa chicken is definitely making its way into our meal rotations and is a great, low labor dinner!

Crockpot Salsa Chicken
2 boneless chicken breasts
30oz. of salsa
1 package frozen corn
1 can drained black beans
1 block Cream Cheese (about 8oz.)

Place the chicken breasts in the crockpot (if using frozen chicken, add about 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pot)
Cover chicken with salsa
Add corn and beans, and stir into salsa.
Let cook on low heat for 6-8 hours (if using frozen chicken, 8-9 hours)
Spoon out the chicken from the salsa and shred the meat.
Stir the shredded chicken back into the salsa.
Add cream cheese.  Let it heat up for about 15 minutes and then stir in the cream cheese until smooth.
Turn crockpot onto "warm" and serve in which ever fashion you desire!


8th Grade Boys are the Turds of Middle School.

I was all riled up and ready to write this blog post yesterday, but I decided to give myself a little bit of time to calm down so that I make sense (I've noticed that when I'm too emotional, my writing tends to become a bit confusing...).

As a substitute teacher, I've always been the laid back sub who lets things roll off of her back easily, and doesn't let students get to her.  Until yesterday, I've never had a group of students who took advantage of me and purposefully try to drive me to my wits end just because I am a sub.  Until yesterday, I had NEVER even considered sending a student down to the office (still haven't sent them down...yet...), and I had NEVER yelled at a group of kids.

Yesterday's sub job was just a half day assignment teaching Spanish, so I got to sleep in and didn't have to arrive at the school until 11:30am.  When I got there, it was lunch time, so I just lounged around, looked over the lesson plan for the day and read my book.  First class of the afternoon was a study hall that only had about 8 kids in it.  That went just fine.  A few of the kids told me that they would be in the classes I would be teaching for the rest of the day, so I was excited to see familiar faces throughout the day.  After I got done with study hall, I had a 30 minute prep, so again, I relaxed and read my book.  Then I was off to 6th hour 8th grade Spanish. 

Even though I haven't spoke Spanish since 6th grade, the lesson plan didn't require me to have to know any of the language, so I was good in that respect.  When I walked into the classroom, they were kind of rowdy, and the teacher who taught in the room the hour before me informed me that this class was a little crazy, so he would just spend his prep time in the room with me (to be honest, I was a bit annoyed- I felt like he thought that I couldn't do my job properly).  After a few minutes, I realized that this class was not going to calm down, and apart from a few girls who were actually trying to get their stuff done, the rest of the class continued to talk loudly and I had to spend the majority of the rest of the class period trying to get the students to quiet down.  Yeah.  That didn't really work.  At the end of the class, I turned to the teacher who was in the room and he told me that the class acts like that E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.  They have no respect, and don't get anything done.  It was exhausting, to say the least and can't believe that their regular teacher has to deal with this on a daily basis.  But I had one more class to go to, and this one should be easy as pie compared to the last class.

I was wrong.  This last class (also 8th grade Spanish), weren't bouncing off the walls when I walked in and they worked well on their first activity, and were pretty quiet during the listening activities they had to do.  But in the last 15 minutes of class, some of the boys in the back started to throw things at each other.  I asked them nicely to stop.  They didn't stop.  They even made a boy who had some sort of emotional disorder very upset, because he was convinced that they were throwing things at him.  At that point, I was very stern and talked to them about maturity and how they're the oldest in the school and are going to high school in the fall and they are expected to have a certain level of maturity.  Their response?  "This is our last year for immaturity!"  They seemed to have stopped throwing things, so I moved the class on to their last activity for the day.  Then I noticed that they were full-on, chucking pencil shards at each other across the classroom.  At that point, there were only 3 minutes left of class and I was pissed.  I had tried to be nice, and I had tried to let them not ruin the rest of the class, but no.  I had to spend the last 3 minutes YELLING at them!  I told them that I am normally the laid back sub who wants the class to have fun while I'm there, and that I never yell at students, so today is huge for me.  I told them that they werethisclose to all being sent down to the office, which, again, is saying something about them because I have NEVER sent a kid to the office before.  As the boys were picking up the pencil shards, I heard one of them say, "Lets save these for the next sub!"  I told him that torturing the subs is not something they should be aiming to do every time they have a sub.  Then another boy came up to apologize, but in his apology he said that "When they have subs (especially the nice ones) they just like to see if they can get them to their wits end," as if this is what they HAVE to do when they have subs!  I've never been so shaken up about a sub job and normally I get home wishing I could be there every day, but for the first time since I've been teaching, all I wanted to do was go home and be done with the class.  I left a lengthy sub note, including my phone number/email in case she has questions, or wants to talk over the situation with me, and left feeling happier than I have ever felt to be leaving a school for the day.

I've been able to reflect on the day and have figured out what I would have done differently the second time around, but now I just need to get back in the saddle next week.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Search and Win!

I've recently been introduced to a new (to me) search engine that gives you points as you search that you can redeem for prized (i.e., gift cards to amazon, target, electronics, etc.) called Swagbucks. While you don't get points for every search, if you use it as you use google, your points can add up pretty quickly. I've only been using Swagbucks for a couple of weeks, but I've already earned quite a few points.

Should you decided that you want to give Swagbucks a try, I would be super grateful if you would use my referral by clicking here!  I swear this is not a scam and it's completely free, so there are no strings attached if you decided to give it a try and then choose not to use it any more.

Happy searching!

Filling the Void

L doesn't seem to understand how huge of a void Moose left in me. Since she died in November, there has been a part of me that has been missing, and nothing seems to be able to fill it. I love our zoo, especially Dwight, but there is a hole that Dwight can't seem to fill. Back when I convinced L to allow me to adopt Dwight 2.5 years ago, he told me that if I got this rabbit that we would not be getting a dog until after the rabbit passed. I didn't think much of it at the time, but now I'm really regretting the fact that I didn't renegotiate the terms of Dwight's adoption.

L seems to think that if we were to get a dog that Dwight would die of a heart attack only a few months later, even though we know of people who own a large breed dog (a mix between a Mastiff and a Great Dane) and he gets along marvelously with their older rabbit. This past weekend, we cared for our friend's puppy at our house, and by the third day, Dwight was no longer hiding behind the curtains, and his heart wasn't pounding in any irregular pattern. He had started to come to terms with the fact that a dog was in the house, and that it wouldn't eat him and that we would do everything in our power to keep him safe.

For some reason, L doesn't believe that by exposure, Dwight and any future pup could tolerate each other. L also doesn't understand how large the void Moose left in my chest really is. While it's gotten better over the last month or so, nearly every day I find myself with tears swelling in my eyes because something reminded me of her. Today, when I was at my parents' home, I was cuddling with Flurry (my cat), and realized how weird it was that there was now only one pet in my parents' household, which, in turn, made me think of Moose. While I was making chocolate ganache to spread on top of the brookies I made for L's uncle's birthday, I felt the pain the and gaping hole that formed in my chest the day that she died, and nearly cried into the icing. I miss Moose so much and I feel like I need my own dog to finally "get over" the loss of her.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Our Zoo- Meet the Degus

As many of you already know, we have quite the zoo at our home.  Our animal count includes one rabbit, one guinea pig, two parakeets, and eight degus.  Most people don't know what degus are (they're technically exotic, being a Chilean squirrel, but they really just look like a rat-sized gerbil), but they are becoming more and more popular in the US.

(Our degu pups!  Three years ago, two of our females had litters within 12 hours of each other, so we ended up with 13 adorable little pups.  We found loving homes for 7 of them, and kept 6.)

(This is our oldest degu named Helga.  She is turning 5 years old this month!)
When we first got out degus, we knew that they made some noises but were unaware of how long they have the capability to chirp for!  The other day, one of our little girls chirped for nearly 30 minutes.  The best way I can describe her chirping is to compare them to hiccups.  She wasn't alarmed or scared of anything, and wasn't warning her fellow degus, but she continued to chirp for a really long time and go about her daily business (i.e., chirped while eating, running on the wheel, grooming her sisters, etc.).  I was able to get a bit of it on video for those who have never experienced the noises that degus make: