Friday, February 25, 2011

I love a good sale!

Last night I was browsing about on my laptop when I saw that Modcloth was having a sale. A BIG sale. For those of you who know me, you know that the question isn't "Did you get something?", but rather, "What did you get?!"

So here is what I got. :)

Charming Correspondence Coat

The "Charming Correspondence" coat, originally $102.99, on sale for $30.99. Look at its cute lining:

Charming Correspondence Coat

I also got this dress for my school's upcoming auction. The theme is Grammys/Red Carpet.

Onyx Intentions Dress

"Onyx Intentions" Dress originally $119.99 on sale for $35.99. Score!

I loved the sequins (I thought sequins were very Grammy) but I also liked the shape and how the tulle and the sweetheart neckline adds a little bit of vintage to it (which is very me!). I still haven't decided how I'm going to accessorize it yet, but you will know as soon as I do!

I love dressing up. And I love sales. :)

Here is a link to the sale: Mod Cloth Cabin Fever Sale

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lady Baltimore Cake!

I made a Lady Baltimore-esque cake today in honor of my upcoming visit to Maryland. And because I had the ingredients and some time on my hands. :)

This is not a traditional Lady Baltimore, which has a custard-type filling in between the layers. I personally do not like the filling, mostly because it has almonds in it and I don't like nuts in my cake. This version is also much less time intensive, but still very delicious. The best part is the icing, which is the prettiest frosting ever. It is white, whipped, and just airy and beautiful. It tastes a little like marshmallows. Which is fine by me.

Step One: Make a white cake. I used a box mix but added almond extract. You can make it by scratch. I promise I do make cakes from scratch sometimes!

Step Two: While the cakes are baking, start making the frosting. My recipe is from the Buttercup Bakeshop Cookbook for Lady Baltimore frosting. I call it "Whipped Swiss Meringue" frosting.
  • Put three egg white and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat up 1/2 cup of water, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and a little under 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.
  • Let it boil - a full-on boil! Don't rush it. :)
  • As the mixture is starting to boil, begin to whip your egg whites and vanilla with a whisk attachment. Let it get nice and frothy.
  • Once the sugar-water mixture is boiling and the egg whites are frothy, slowly pour in the sugar-water.
  • Keep whisking! After about 5 minutes, your mixture will look like pillow-y white clouds. Let the frosting get a little stiff and thick. It should hold peaks firmly.
Step Three: Grind up some oatmeal cookies in a food processor or blender until they are fine crumbs.

Step Four: Assemble your cake. Level off one cake. Add a layer of frosting and cookie crumbs. Top with the second cake. Heap on an enormous amount of frosting and cover the tops and sides. It shouldn't be smooth, but rather it should have peaks. Top with cookie crumbs and a maraschino cherry. (Tip: Dry off your cherry before putting it on the cake, or the red juice will run all over the place and ruin your pretty cake. Like it did to mine before. Sigh.)

Step Five: Gaze upon your cake in awe. It is gorgeous!

What else did I do today? I went to the dentist and I need to get a retainer. Mike thought this was rather funny. He said he could picture me wearing my retainer, watching BSG, and working on my laptop. He claims that my evolution into geek-dom is almost complete. :(

I also did laundry. And London found a new bed.

Pictures and details on our weekend trip to Yosemite coming soon! :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What I'm Reading

I am on my way to reaching my goal of reading 100 books by December! I just went on a little book spree on Amazon and picked up three new reads for my February break.

Here are my latest buys:

I finished The Time Traveler's Wife. You guys were right. I needed lots of tissues - which I didn't have, so my face and neck ended up soaked in tears, and then my hair stuck to it and I was one big, huge, slobbery mess. It was fantastic. The book I mean, not my tearful-messiness.

I have also finished two books on Borderline Personality Disorder (what? I love psychology!), and I am almost finished Kozol's Shame of the Nation.

Mike and I are now off to Border's (which is closing!!) to see if we can make off with some great sales. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was spoiled today. Big time.

I woke up to a bag full of full-size Yankee Candles with a card that said, "You light up my life." I was already a mushy mess at this point. I "oohed" and "aahed" and gave Mike lots of kisses and thank yous. I then proceeded to get ready for the day, when I walked into the kitchen and found a bag from Tiffany's hanging from the door handle. I think I screamed. It was a necklace. I proceeded to give lots more kisses and screamed some more.

I happily went to work, feeling on cloud 9. At lunch, I was standing around chatting, blissfully unaware, when who came into the staff room but my adorable hubby! He had brought donuts for the staff (heart shaped with sprinkles, no less) and a rose for me. Swoon! And then, when he got to me to give me a hug hello, what did he have hidden under his jacket? Another bag from Tiffany's!!!! He had a pair of earrings to give me, too. I think my face matched my red dress. And at this point, I was totally a puddle of mush and love.

When our dinner reservations ended up being not so great, Mike made us delicious burgers from scratch. He even ground the meat himself. This dinner was better than any meal from a restaurant.

We then feasted on our previously made cup-cake, and watched TV together. I don't know what I did to be so lucky, but I'll take it!

Thank you love for being the best husband I could have ever dreamed of. Love you forever and always! xoxo

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Crayons and Cupcakes

This weekend I worked on a couple of cute projects that I thought I would share.

The first project was making rainbow-colored heart crayons as presents for my students for Valentine's Day. I wanted a project that was as close to free as I could get, but that was still really cute, and hopefully functional. I found this project online and thought it looked super easy - and it was! I even got all of the crayons donated from teachers at my school. We used the old, broken crayons that always pile up in our crayon baskets.

First, peel off the labels of old, broken crayons. Using an exacto knife worked really well, but picking it off does the trick, too.

Next, break the crayons in half and mix them together in a heart-shaped muffin or cupcake pan. I got mine at Target for $2.50 each. You can make solid colors, mix two colors, or do rainbow. I ended up liking rainbow the best.

Put the tins in the oven at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the crayons have completely turned into liquid.

Next, take the trays out of the oven and stick them right into the refrigerator. Only 10 minutes later, you can take the trays out and pop out your new crayons!

Mike and I found that when doing rainbow, it turned out the best to make each crayon about 50% white. That helped the colors stand out more and gave us the crayons we liked the best.

Here are the finished crayons all bagged up and tied with tags that say, "You color our world! Love, Ms. M and Mrs. W" (My amazing aide Alice made the cute tags - isn't she great?!)

The second project of the weekend was to make a giant cupcake-shaped cake. The pan was given to me by my Secret Valentine at our happy hour reveal (thanks CJ!). I happened to have Valentine's Day funfetti cake mix in my cupboard, so I thought I would whip this up for tomorrow at school.

Pretty cute, huh?

What else did I do this weekend besides make crayons and cupcakes? I watched an embarrassing amount of Battlestar Gallactica and finally did the ridiculous pile of laundry that has been sitting in my closet. Yay for weekends! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Teacher Tuesday

I wanted to update the books my kids read for literature circles, so I ordered a bunch of new titles to try. Most of them have come in, and they are SO GOOD! I just love the new literature for young adults that has come out since I was a kid. I started reading through some of them tonight, and I ended up reading two whole books!!

(photo source)

My first was Coraline, by Newbery-award winning author Neil Gaiman. I chose the graphic novel version, which was adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell. It is dark and creepy and just a little scary, and kept me going until I finished. I am sure the kids will be on the edge of their seats! I also love that this is a graphic novel, a genre which I love, and which I find really captivates readers who can't always get into regular novels. It is a whole new way of reading a story, with the pictures just as important as the words, that I love to teach and explore with the kids.

The second I read tonight is When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, which just won the Newbery award in 2010. It is a little sci-fi, which to me was a pleasant surprise, and talks about the paths our lives take, the chains of events that are set into motion by the simplest of things, and how even the little details are all meaningful. It referenced Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time heavily, which coincidentally is another of the Lit Circle books I chose for my advanced readers. I even cried (just a little bit!) at the end. This is a book that will really get the kids thinking about life and how they play an important role in their world.

The other books I chose are Chasing Redbird, by Newbery-award winning author Sharon Creech; The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, which won the Newbery in 2009; and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, by Robert C. O'Brien, winner of the Newbery in 1972 (gotta give them some old-school children's lit!).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs ...

... as a cake. Per Cathy's request, behold the spaghetti and meatballs cake!

Step One: Bake two round chocolate cakes. I used a box mix, but you could totally make a homemade one, too.

Step Two: When cakes are cool, crumble one of the cakes into a bowl. Mash up the crumbs and roll them in your hands until they are spherical. Make three balls, and coat them in some of the leftover crumbs. Set aside.

Step Three: Ice the remaining cake with white icing. Again, I used store bought, but homemade is fine. Try to get it nice and smooth.

Step Four: Put the three chocolate cake balls on top of the cake. These are your meatballs, people. Arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing way. Or, just drop them on top, like I did. :)

Step Five: Mix four - five drops food coloring into another tub of white icing. Put it in a pastry bag with a small circle tip. Squeeze icing out all around the meatballs to make it look like spaghetti.

Step Six: Mix up strawberry jam until it is somewhat smooth. Drop by the spoonful around the meatballs to make it look like sauce.

That's it! Super easy. The whole project took 1 hour, including baking time. Thanks for the idea, Cathy!

(This project came out of Food Network Magazine, with the recipe by Catherine Ruehle)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Saturday San Francisco Adventure!

Today Mike and I decided to go on a bit of an adventure. Which really just meant that we decided to go to San Francisco, but we really didn't know what we were going to do there.

We started by going to the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. It is so gorgeous and has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was also in Hitchcock's Vertigo, so of course I pretended to be Kim Novak for a bit while we were there.

From the film Vertigo in 1958. It looks pretty much the same now, minus a snazzy Jimmy Stewart and classic car. (photo source)

Mike and me in the front lawn area; the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the front lawn.

After Mike had a chance to take some photos, we drove around the San Francisco Presidio area for a bit before heading to Baker Beach to watch the sunset. The clouds turned an incredible shade of pink right over the bridge. The whole scene looked like a watercolor painting and was just absolutely lovely. Mike got some great pictures, and then, since my bare, sand-covered feet were freezing, we headed back to the car.

Mike being a photographer; his pic of the "watercolor" bridge and clouds; the sunset.

We then stopped to get dinner on the way home at Joe's Cable Car diner. It was kitschy fun complete with Christmas lights and fake flowers. Mike and I both got milkshakes and burgers and relaxed after a fun day.

Me reveling in the kitsch; Mike about to enjoy his vanilla shake, and me sucking up my banana shake. I heart bananas!

Now we are off to watch a movie and cuddle up after our fun day. I love weekends with my hubby! :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A very Etsy Valentine

As many of you know I adore Etsy. I buy way too much stuff there. And since Valentine's Day is approaching, I have been oggling many V-Day themed wares for sale. Here are some of my favorites.

Snap purse - polka dots on red with lace and ribbon

This adorable coin purse, from Oktak, is all red and white cuteness. (buy here)

I love shoe clips, especially these cuties from Sunshine and Carousels. (buy here)

Miss Charlotte - Cute Heart Print Bow Shoe Clips

If you want to give your heart to another in a slightly more realistic way, how about these glycerin soaps from KC Soaps and More? (buy here)

I Give You My Heart-Anatomically Correct HEART Box Set-Glycerin Soap-Merlot Wine Scented

For a vintage winter look, try this sweet cherry red beret with white flower from Crafts 2 Cherish. (buy here)

Red Angora Beret With White Rose Hand Felted From Wool

What better way to say you are meant to be together than this cute sign from Ecceprints? (buy here)

You Are the Ketchup to My Fries

For the geek you love, try this card that says "I love you" in binary from The Wallaroo. (buy here)

I Love You in Binary - Red and Black 8 X 5.5 Greeting Card

Lacking a lovah this V-Day? We've got you covered! Gnome Sweeeet Gnome's Boyfriend in a Bottle gives you instant couple status. (buy here)

Boyfriend in a Bottle

Planning on baking some sweet treats for your valentine? How 'bout wearing this cute apron while you do it? Retro pin-up apron by Loversdovers Clothing. (buy here)

I LOVE LUCY ...... RETRO fifties RED POLKA DOT APRON with black ric rac details make a sexy hostess or Valentines day gift and is vintage 50s inspired womens full apron

A Valentine's card with a squirrel couldn't be any cuter. I'm "nuts" about this one from Vintage Paper Parade. (buy here)

Nuts About You Squirrel Valentine card

Do you need a gift for your guy? You'll get to beam aboard his heart with these rockin' Star Trek cufflinks from Eye See Vintage. (buy here)

Star Trek Silver Cufflinks with Gift Box - SAME DAY SHIPPING

Houston, we have cute pint glasses! Check out these "Astronauts in Love" glasses from Bread and Badger. (buy here)

2 Astronaut Love Pint Glasses

And here is my favorite non-Etsy Valentine's Day item:

Because can you really beat a Sprinkles red velvet cupcake? I didn't think so. ;)