Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm the man of Nachos!

I was working with a first grader this morning on a math worksheet, and every time she got a problem correct, she would yell out "Nachos!!". She yelled it out such as one might yell out "Yes!" or "I got it!" or "Whooo-hooo!". But instead, it was "Nachos". Keep in mind that I work with the Special Ed kids, so while this made absolutely no sense to me, in her little mind I'm sure she was celebrating her victory over counting by 2s by crying out about her favorite snack. I don't know. I'm just guessing. And then every once in awhile she'd say "I'm the man of Nachos!", and hold her little fist up, victoriously. When she had completed the worksheet, she once again declared herself to be The Man of Nachos, and then did a little dance while chanting "nachosnachosnachosnachosnachos". There is never a dull moment with my job, and I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, and I love it. I absolutely love these kids. I've also decided that henceforth, I'm going to join her in the great cry of nachos, and will be proclaiming "Nachos!" whenever I do something fabulous or get excited about something.

Has anyone else noticed how I've gotten my Blog Groove back? This is like the 9th time this month I'm posting, which is more than the past 3 months put together. I don't know what it is,
but all of a sudden I'm finding things to write about again. Not necessarily interesting things, but they are things nonetheless, and about them I shall write.

For instance; of little importance and no interest whatsoever is my growing addiction to the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. I anticipate its arrival every fall. As soon as it's back, I know that I may as well just fork over a cold hundy to my local Starbuckle, because at least once a week I am running up there in the morning (early, too, y'all, I have to be at work at 7:00), ordering a Venti and sucking it down before the first bell rings. One week I actually went three times. At $5 a pop, this gets expensive. And I am not a lady of many means. But they are Deeeeelicious.

Also of little to no importance, barely worth a mention, is that I've recently decided to try and take up crochet. Now, as a Bad Ass Knitter, I've been Judgy McJudgealot when it comes to the crochet. I look down my nose at it. It's a far inferior craft, in my humble but correct opinion. However there are a few knitting patterns that call for a crochet border. And it seems to go faster. And I've heard that it's easier than knitting. And I have a blanket that my friend Marcie (who is a crocheter but I love her anyway) made for me, and I love it and I sleep with it every night. (Hi, I'm Linus) So I thought, Ok, I will give this a go. I will learn to crochet. I mean, I already have yarn. I have 2 crochet hooks (used for picking up stitches when knitting socks), what more do I need? It can't be that hard.

Well maybe it's not that hard, and maybe I'm an idiot. Probably both. So let me go ahead and make a long and uninteresting story short and uninteresting: I can't do it. I can do the very fist step required - the chain. I can chain my ass off. See here:

Chain-o-rama. But what the hell am I supposed to do after that? None of the instructions I've seen have been at all clear about that. I've consulted my little crochet booklet that I have. I've searched the innernets for clues. They all have instructions - and they all vary. Really, crocheters? Really? Can't you make it uniform? With knit and purl it's the same. You knit or you purl and when you get to the end of a row, you don't have to bend the yarn, you just turn the damn needle. I give up, crochet. I hate you. Cro-shit is more like it. I should also probably add this: Crocheters (namely Marcie and Charlene, who I am sure are Up In Arms about my proclamation) please do not attempt to help me figure out how to do it. I don't care. Knitting is better and this just proves it.

To make myself feel better, I bought a Pumpkin Spice Latte and knit up a little hat for The Cuteness.

Nachos!! Isn't it adorable? I hope it fits her. I shall see The Cuteness herself tomorrow (hopefully) on Halloween and will capture a picture to share. It's been a good while since I've posted a picture of her. I look forward to see her and BSP tomorrow night for the annual Halloween Party, for which I will be making Caps' Famous Cheese Ball. It's a great party recipe, if you happen to need something quick, cute and Halloweeny to make. I will also have pictures of myself and The Cowboy in our costumes - and believe me, you're not gonna want to miss this. Not so much me, as him.

Happy Halloween! Nachos!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yes please.

Can anyone please tell me why I'm such a lazy bitch? Anyone? Bueller?

I have a million things I could be doing right now. I could go wash last night's dishes. I could put away the laundry. I could be knitting my cable scarf (which is almost done!) or starting on another hat. I could be making dinner. I could be plucking my eyebrows.

What am I doing? You may be wondering. Well, for the last hour I have been downloading $25.00 worth of songs from iTunes and looking at pictures of bios of this fine specimen:

Come to mama. That's right. Matthew Morrison. If you haven't hopped on the Glee! train yet, I must insist that you go now and buy your ticket. I don't watch much teevee anymore these days, but I absolutely LOVE this show. Maybe it's because it's so cute and kitschy you can't help but love it. Maybe it's because I'm a former choir nerd.

Personally, I believe that this guy is 98% of the reason I tune in every Wednesday (except last night - World Series was on - stupid baseball messing up everything). The show is cute and funny and the musical numbers are great, if not a little cheesy but it's about Show Choir, so you expect some cheese. But Matthew Morrison (Will Shuester) is adorable and endearing. Every time he starts to sing or dance, I swoon. That's right, I actually SWOON. Pitter patter. Hello, sir. Please would you like to sing and dance with me? Many thanks. Me loves you.

This is all I've got to show for the past hour, kids. These three pictures and the following songs:

Bruce Springsteen - Born to run
Carly Simon - You're so vain
Diana Ross - Ain't no mountain high enough
Drexy's Midnight Runners - Come on Eileen
Tears for Fears - Head over heels
Toto - Africa
Heaven - Bryan Adams

I'm on an 80s kick. So sue me.

I'm off to make it look like I've been productive before The Cowboy comes home and sees the giant ass print in the couch and iTunes bill.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dust dust everywhere!

My product endorsement for the week. I recently bought one of these.

It was the best $4.97 I've spent in awhile. This thing is MAGIC. I don't know how or why or where, but it gathers and collects and traps the dust. Unlike anything I've ever used before. I suspect it has to do with static electricity, much like the original Swiffer duster and also fabric softener. I don't know why I think all these things are related. Perhaps because they all look and smell similar.

Anyway, I'm telling you, this thing is money. Nobody likes to clean, right? Actually that's not true at all. I love to clean, but I'm sick like that. And I know there are a lot of other sickos out there too. Well this is the clean-freak's wet dream. It makes cleaning a breeze. A walk in the park. A picnic.

I am almost embarrassed to show you the before and after shots of the Swiffer Dusters. Almost. Remember, I have no shame.


I thought I had a fairly clean house. With 4 pets and hardwood floors, we get our fair share of dust around here, but we have the Roomba to clean up for us. (another genius invention, only it costs a wee bit more; move the decimal over about 2 places to the right) However after I got my hands on this little contraption and did me up some dusting, I realized that I had a dusty, dusty home.

No more!

I can't stop dusting. If I see even a little speck of dust, I whip out the Swiffer Duster and make it disappear. Really, as far as housecleaning products go, this one is amazing. I highly recommend it for all your dusting needs today. Even if you don't think you have dusting needs, you do. You need.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walking. It's hard for some people.

A long time ago I came to terms with the fact that I will never be an award winning athlete. Or dancer (in the official sense, anyway). Or walker. Let's just call a spade a spade: I won't be winning any awards when it comes to movement of any kind. I'm just not coordinated. Not even a little bit. Growing up, my legs were constantly covered in bruises, and I would often wonder if I was being abused, and just didn't realize it. Turns out, I was abusing myself. By walking. Into things. And tripping over them.

Some things you don't outgrow, and my lack of coordination is one of them. In fact, certain characteristics become more defined as you get older, and I've got my coordination issues down to an art. I'm almost so uncoordinated that it's graceful. If you can believe that.

Why, just last month I was cleaning out the bathroom and I left open the under sink cabinet door, turned my back for one minute to put something away, and when I turned back around, went to walk out of the bathroom and SMACK. Walked right into the open door.

It hurt like a bitch. The faint marking of the bruise is still visible on my right thigh. A month later. Oh also? I had to straighten the stack of towels in the cupboard before I took the picture. And hi Aggie! She like to know my whereabouts at all times. She is a mommy's dog.

Last Friday at school, I went to pick up a student from her classroom and take her to my room to work on some goals with her. That pretty much sums up my entire day at school and what I do. Go from student to student and work with them on whatever areas they are lagging behind. Mostly this is done with bilingual students. Si, yo hablo.

So I'm going to get this girl, whose classroom is upstairs, and I'm carrying with me a bucket full of learning supplies and things (games, crayons, stickers, worksheets, flashcards, you get the
picture). I'm walking up the stairs, almost to the top, and somehow, I have no idea how or why, but somehow I manage to trip. On my feet? My pants? The stairs? Air? All plausible answers. Anyway I don't know, but I tripped and I fell. HARD. Going UP the stairs, mind you.

I mean, I bit the dust something awful. I'm pretty sure a sound emitted from my mouth that
went like this "Uuuuumphhhhohcrapaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhllllllllerrrrrrrrrrrg". And then a whimper. And then I looked up, looked around to see if anyone had seen me take the digger. Thankfully, no one was around. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat on the steps to take a moment and feel sorry for myself. I felt pain searing through my knee. I honestly don't think I could have gotten up and walked at that moment.

Just then, the teacher whose room is at the top of the stairs, and therefor nearest to where I had just fallen, stuck her head out of her door and said, "Oh my gosh, we all just heard you fall, are you OK?"

Busted. Now, I know she was well meaning and concerned. But what I wanted to tell her was "If you heard me fall all the way in your classroom, NO I AM NOT OK." And also, "I was perhaps
OK until about 10 seconds ago when you asked me if I was OK, and now I am embarrassed as hell because I can't walk and oh great, here comes your class in the hall to see what the ruckus was. Hey kids!"

Instead I think I mustered up a weak smile and uttered something about being clumsy, and yes I'm fine. She went back in her room and I stayed there on the stairs for another minute or so, looking in my bucket to see if the last of my dignity had perhaps fallen in there under a glue stick. No such luck. I hobbled my way to collect my student, and then stumbled my way to the nurse's office to get an ice pack and throw back half a bottle of Motrin. My knee swelled up to the size of a softball, and it hurt to walk for the rest of the morning.

Here we are, 4 days later, and the bruises have come to full color, much like the autumn leaves. So I thought I'd share some pictures of the damage. It's not easy to try and take pictures of your own leg, so these aren't the best quality, and Lord knows I'm no Ansel Adams in the best of circumstances. So cut me some slack.

The majority of the damage is there, on the bottom of the left knee cap. The fall broke the skin, but it didn't bleed, so it's mostly just a big bad bruise. I think when I fell, somehow, my thighs broke my fall. Thank goodness they are nice and meaty. Both of my thighs have large bruises in relatively the same spot, so I think they took a hit on the step above, after the knee got the initial blow.

It's harder to make out the bruise in this picture, but I think you can see, it's large. I was reading in bed the other night and The Cowboy said something to me and gave me a nice hearty pat on the leg. I almost punched him in the nuts, it hurt so bad.

I'll keep practicing my walking, and maybe one day I will get it right. Probably not, but a girl can wish. I should probably wear some kind of protective gear, and this is exactly why I don't ride my bike or use my roller blades, both items I insisted I needed, that now take up space and collect dust in the garage. It's not just recreation with me - it's life or death.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Have you seen the recent commercial for Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup? The one where the girl is calling up the "Progresso Hotline" and asking to speak to someone because she is certain that this is her grandmother's soup she's eating? Every time I see that I feel sad for the girl, if that is what her grandmother's chicken noodle soup tastes like. I'm not hating on Progresso. As far as canned chicken noodle soups go, I find it to be among the best. But it shouldn't have the same name as real, good, homemade chicken noodle soup.

And in my case, it doesn't. My grandmother's homemade chicken noodle soup is affectionately referred to as "Gobbles" in my family. The reason for this, I've received confirmation, is because she used to make it after Thanksgiving with leftover turkey. Hence, the gobble. But she would
also make it with chicken at other, less turkified times of the year, but still called it Gobbles. Hey, whatever. It works in our family and the soup is damn delicious, so I don't care what you call it.

That's my Gram there on the right. And her sister, my great aunt Hazel on the left. Let's just
take a moment and reflect upon how awesome grandparents in general are. Now, please understand that I'm not trying to boast or make anyone out there feel inferior, but let me assure you now that my grandmother is the best grandmother ever. She could kick all your grandmother's asses. She could. Trust me. And now let's take a moment in
advance and thank this woman for her soup, the recipe of which I'm about to share with you. Thank you Gram! You could show those Progresso people a thing or two about soup.

Here are the ingredients you will need for Gobbles.

1/2 roaster chicken
3 carrots
4 celery stalks
1 medium onion
parsley flakes (or fresh parsley)
salt and pepper to taste
noodles (of your choosing, but if you want it Gobbles style, we use medium shells. I don't know why, but I've learned to just trust in the recipe and go with it)

That's it! 7 ingredients and it's perfection in a bowl. So let's get started.

First, the chicken. Now ordinarily I buy a roaster chicken and cut it in half. But on this particular occasion, the grocery story didn't have any roaster chickens. (What the hell kind of grocery story doesn't have roaster chickens? Seriously. Maybe there was a sale and I missed it or something).

So I bought a cut up whole chicken. Hey, it saved me the work. This would also be acceptable if
you have an aversion to cutting up a chicken. Either way, for a regular batch of soup, you only need half the bird, so I only used half of the pieces, and froze the rest. Perfect for more Gobbles another time.

Go ahead and rinse that bird off, just briefly. Then toss it in a large stock pot with a lid. Like so.

And cover the chicken with water. Like so.

Cover with the lid and bring it to a boil. The nature of the chicken and the fact that you're using all the pieces, including the fat, will cause there to be a little bit of a foamy scum at the top of the pot when it boils. I don't like to use the word scum when I'm talking about something I'm going
to eat - but I also can't think of a better word for it. See for yourself.

It's not a big deal, and it's not really all that gross, but I usually get rid of it. Use a spoon and scoop it off. You aren't losing any flavor from it, I promise. Let the chicken boil in the pot uncovered for 2 hours. During this 2 hours, you will add your vegetables. I usually add them
after an hour - so about halfway through.

There's our veggies. It's a mirepoux. That is a shout out to my friend Heather and The Mad Chef. Whoops, looky there I used 4 carrots and I told you you only needed 3. Well I like carrots and no one is the boss of your soup, so use as many as you want. But not too many or then you'll have carrot soup, which by the way, The Mad Chef made a delicious version of.

Moving on. Roughly chop the veggies. I like to see what I'm eating, so I don't cut them too small so that they cook away. About like this.

Also please note that it's extremely important that your veggies don't touch when you put them in the bowl to await their turn in the hot tub. I mean it! I am a veggie segregationist and I do not want them mingling.

When it's their time, toss them in.

The carrots and celery will sink, but the onion will float. I usually season around this time too. I have no measurements to give you. I just toss in some salt and pepper. When in doubt, go light. You can always add more later.

Continue simmering for another hour. And let me tell you - this is when it starts to get good. This is when the house starts to smell wonderful. Like grandmother's houses, and happiness and love and all things warm and fuzzy. You might want to take a nap on the couch. Neighborhood
children will smell the soup from the street and ring your doorbell asking you for some. Turn
them away. They have their own grandmothers. Or better yet, give them a can of Progresso.

A note on the parsley. In my Gram's recipe, she calls for and has always (to my knowledge) used dried parsley flakes. I don't know about you, but I don't keep dried parsley flakes in my
cupboard, because I never use them. Fresh parsley is so flavorful and easy to find, and if I
bought a thing of the dry stuff, it would sit up there for years and I would only use a sprinkle
here and there. And they say dry herbs go bad after 6 months. So, I use fresh parsley. About a handful. I chop it up roughly, and toss it in after the veggies have had a chance to do their thing.

And then just continue cooking. After awhile, you can check the seasonings. If it needs more salt or pepper, go ahead and add more.

Your nose and eyes will tell you when the Gobbles are done. It takes about 2 hours, but it could be more or less, depending on your pot, the amount of chicken, etc. But trust me, you will know.

It will look like this and it will smell better than anything you've ever smelled in your life. You can see here that a bit of the liquid evaporates during the 2 hours. Sometimes I add in a couple
cupfuls of water at this stage. Go ahead and do that if you want. Just make sure to test the
seasonings again and add more salt if it needs it (it usually does). Take the chicken out of the pot, set it aside for a few minutes, until it's cooled down enough that you can handle it.

I use a slotted spoon to make sure I get every little bit of chicken out of the pot. And even
though I do that, it's still possible that a little piece of bone or something is floating in there. It's homemade, after all. Just be careful when you eat it, especially if you give it to little ones.

Separate the chicken pieces - meat, fat, bone. Get in there and dig all the meat out and shred it with 2 forks.

If you only like white meat - hey that's ok. I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to chicken. I know no color. But you do whatever floats your boat. While you are shredding the chicken, bring the soup liquid up to a boil.

Now let's talk about the noodles. I know it's odd to use shells in chicken noodle soup. I have a friend who makes chicken noodle soup, and she swears that the only type of noodle that will do is an egg noodle. I'm sure egg noodles would taste just fine. But I'm not going for fine, dammit, and I'm not making homemade chicken noodle soup, I am making Gobbles. And in Gobbles, we use
medium shells.

Trust in the recipe. Once the soup is boiling, add the shells and cook until the shells are done. Then add in the chicken meat. Taste again - just to make sure - and adjust if necessary.

Look at that deliciousness. Now stand back and give yourself a pat on the back. You just made homemade chicken noodle soup! You just made Gobbles!

Now, to really make it Gobbles, you have to eat it the way we do in my family. With a sprinkle of cheese (Parmesan or Romano) and a handful of croutons. I know it's weird. But it's how we do it.

Just try it. If you don't like it, it's ok. You can eat it however you want. The Cowboy didn't care for the croutons. He didn't like how they got soggy.

So he pushed them all to the side of his bowl and made a little stockpile of croutons. Hey, it's cool. Eat it however you like it. The point is, it is delicious. It is the perfect fall or winter dinner. It is love. It is home. It is my grandmother. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October is....

October is....

My favorite month of the year. Or at least it used to be when I lived in Michigan and we had a little thing I like to call "seasons", which are practically non existent here in Texas. Actually, there are 2 seasons here in Texas. We call them "So Hot I Might F--king Melt" and "Oooooh no, it might actually ice and we better close down the whole town for 3 days". There's no happy medium. I miss the medium. I need the medium. The temps have been gradually cooling down here, and I think we might finally be over the 90 degree days. This week the highs are supposed to be in the 70s, which is not at all resembling the falls I knew up north, but I will take it. I can open my windows and put on my button tab hat and pretend like it's cold outside.

ACL. The Austin City Limits music festival was 2 weeks ago, and once again my cousin and her husband, The Doctah and I went. And once again, we had a great time. Despite the crappy
weather. Friday's weather was amazing - high around 80, sunny, beautiful, perfect. Saturday it
rained all day (which was fine with me, since I didn't go on Saturday) and by Sunday, the entire
park was a mudpit. A stinky, smelly, messy, disgusting mudpit. And let me tell you what, kids,
there were some crazy fools walking around that park in their bare feet. Not Caps, no sir. I didn't want to get any of those crazy worm-like diseases The Doctah was warning me about.

Thank goodness for my $6 Target rain boots. Best $6 I've spent in a long time. One of my
favorite parts of ACL is getting to check out new and little known bands. This is both good and
bad of course, as we saw one guy who was HORRIBLE, but I feel bad slandering his name on my blog. But really, really awful. On the flip side, though, I found a new band that I am totally having a love affair with. The Avett Brothers.

Little known fact about me: I am a sucker for a banjo. I love it. Throw in a couple of grungy looking brothers, an upright bass that the guy actually picks up while he plays, and some really
catchy tunes that are a funky mixture of bluegrass, folk, rock and punk, and you have The Avett Brothers. It's a musical snack. (anyone name that movie?) I immediately came home and downloaded 2 of their albums and haven't stopped listening them since.

Football Saturdays. I have a long standing Saturday morning date with Lee Corso and a cup
of coffee.

The Cowboy likes to sleep until noon on Saturdays (except when he goes fishing, like he did
today), so I get up early, brew a big pot of coffee and lay on the couch and watch College Game Day. Lee Corso is a crazy old coot, but my October Saturdays aren't complete without him, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Chris Fowler. I'm not one for the NFL, but I love college football, and I look forward to Game Day every week.

Halloween! It would stand to reason that since October is my favorite month, Halloween
in my favorite holiday. Well it's not. Thanksmas is. That's a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas. More on that later. But I do like Halloween, I think it's a lot of fun. It's the only other holiday that I actively decorate the house for.

Our friends always have a Halloween party (see this post, and this post from last year), and we
all have a lot of fun dressing up and getting together. The jello shots help, too.

Yummy. There are certain foods that I only make in the fall/winter months. One of those foods are the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

If you haven't seen this recipe yet, please click the link and make them now. NOW. If you have seen the recipe and haven't made them, shame on you. And if you have seen the recipe, made
the muffins and sang my praises, then you are welcome. They are, as Neil Diamond would say, so good. So good! So good! Neil Diamond knows what he's talking about, people. Don't ignore Neil.

The other food that I wait 'till October to make is Gobbles. Gobbles is my family's name for homemade chicken noodle soup. It's my grandmother's recipe. If you are wondering, as many do, why we call it Gobbles, so far as I can tell it's because she sometimes makes it with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. I never make it with turkey, but I suppose it would taste just as delicious. This is the recipe I've been promising you all week, and I'm going to be cooking up a big pot of soup tomorrow, so the blog will follow immediately. Here's a sneak preview:

Oh mommydaddy. Neil approves of this one too.

I hope everyone out there is having a great October!

(ps - the last thing that October means to me is that I start listening to Christmas music when I'm alone in my car. Yes that's right. I'm not proud, but I do it. Hey, they put the decorations out in September, why can't I listen to the music? Don't judge me.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Phun with Photo Booth

The computers in the classrooms at school are Macs. We are a strict no-Apple household, the Cowboy and I. Well, mostly the Cowboy. His dad worked for and retired from IBM, so he is anti-Apple. I did manage to get him to buy me an iPod touch for Christmas last year, but he wasn't happy about it.

Anyhoo, the computers are school are Macs, which has taken me some time to get used to, but I'm not a hater, and I could see myself happily using a Mac and loving it. There are some pretty
neat programs on it, including one called Photo Booth. It's pretty much exactly what it says it is, and it takes pictures or videos of you. Here's a lovely shot I took of myself at school
this week for a project.

It's a long story to try and explain the meaning of me holding a clip board. Well, not that long, I just don't feel like it. Because the really cool part about the Photo Booth application is the
effects. You just choose an effect such as "Black and White" or "X-Ray" and you can change the kind of picture it takes of you. You can also choose different backgrounds.

We were a little slow in class today, and I had some fun experimenting with this program.

Color Pencil





Pop Art

Really, I'm not vain or anything. I don't absolutely love looking at pictures of myself, despite this post. I just thought this program was pretty neat.

Now come the fun ones! I'll let these speak for themselves.

Mirror Image

I will have nightmares about the next one.

Also, I'd like to add that it was extremely humid today. Humidity does crazy things to my hair, which is why it looks all disheveled and standy uppy in these pictures.

This next one is my favorite.

I love this picture. I don't know why. I think it is completely awesome, and in an odd way looks completely like me and yet totally nothing like me at all. How is this possible?