Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Career Thankful

For the second time year in a row, I have the whole week off for Thanksgiving. So awesome. All my other teacher friends had to work today and yesterday. I slept in “late” (not past 8:45am, ugh), drank coffee while watching Kelly and Michael Talk Show, and ran errands. I’ve decided that I don’t think I’d be a good stay-at-home mom for a couple of reasons:
1. After watching morning talk shows, I wanted to adopt a baby chimp, a baby lion, and some other real cute animals. I was finding myself listening to needless information and vegging out. Not my style.
2. Today, I went to the mall to get some more MAC Mascara. I accidently walked around after that and bought some things. Whoopsies. :)
3. I’ve cleaned more in the last couple of days than I have all year. I can stand the clutter when I’m actually at home and around it. This is also not my style. Ha. 
4. I HAVE realized how many people are NOT out at stores and the mall during the day. HEB was a real treat. Which leads me to my next point (and the whole reason I’m posting)…

I went to HEB at what I guess is the prime time to go. Stations set up all over the place with samples and food ideas. One of them was a mashed potato station….yes please.

So long story short, I tried these mashed potatoes at a station and fell in love. Make them! (Click on the picture to make larger)…

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Magic ingredient:

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The recipe calls for 2-3 tablespoons to use. In my “more is always more” mentality, I went with three tablespoons. I now can suggest to use 2 tablespoons. Just trust me. Smile

Here’s the finished product…. mmmmm and just in time for Thanksgiving. This might as well be called “Mashed Potatoes week”. Besides my frequent visits to Luby’s, I just don’t get enough mashed potatoes in my life.

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And one of my fave reasons for being home the last two days, was being by this guy while reading my Kindle…

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He’s been so cuddly and I think this dog was created with love in his blood. He’s our Pinnochio, a real boy to us. Smile And because I love a good book rec, I’m currently reading The Uglies Trilogy. It’s been good so far!

Happy Thanksgiving! Christmas crafts to come!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Homecoming hair. Year #4

Over the years, I realize more and more how much I love my job. There are so many ups and downs to teaching and coaching at the high school level. But there are more ups than downs and I love when I’m in a season of recognition of all the awesome things this career brings me.

I was at a training the other day and this woman was saying how she was a mother of a teenage daughter and everyone in the room let out an empathetic chuckle. It made me feel empathetic which is weird because I don’t have kids. However, I do have 53 “volleyball” daughters and I truly look at all of them in that light. I love the life of a teenage girl. It’s so fragile, sensitive, confusing, exciting, ever-changing, and full of love/friendships/laughter. Knowing my players on a more personal level because of how much we’re around each other, I get to see their teenage lives unfold over 4 years. It’s exciting for me and stressful because my maternal instincts kick in and I want to be protective when the going gets tough (or when an oblivious teenage boy breaks one of their hearts). With that said, being a high school teacher, I get to be around the most fun part of all these kids’ lives. And Homecoming is one of those great memories…

My setters on my varsity asked if I could do their hair. Of course I said yes. This will be year number 4 for me of doing homecoming hair for my former and current players. I have a new confidence after my best friend got married this summer and she had me do a 6 of her bridesmaids hair including hers. Yes, I did my best friend’s hair for her wedding. And yes, her hair was shorter than her shoulders. Yes, I was petrified that I was going to screw it up on the biggest day of her life yet.  But it worked out and she liked it and now I feel like I can conquer the hair world.

So I got on Pinterest and started looking and here’s what we finished with. Monica wanted a lower updo with some body on top. They both have hair that goes all the way down their back so that was a challenge when I was trying to figure out what to do. With Monica, I went with the zig zag approach. It turned out much more trendy than I was expecting. And it was by far the fastest hair style I’ve ever done. It save a ton of time with her having it curled before I got there. One down, one to go…

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Then there was Maddie. I struggled with a second on what to do with hers. It wasn’t curled and she wanted a bohemian look. So I went with a pinterest picture I saw…

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Now, Mad’s hair is the same length as this girl. But I’ll tell you, twisting the hair and pushing it up didn’t look nearly as clean as it does in the picture. But we went ahead with it anyway and I she definitely got the messy look with a sweet side braid. She was happy, I was happy…

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I love how Maddie’s hair looks like it’s curled and I didn’t touch a curling iron.

It was a good time for me to be around some sweet girls and for me to play dress up with some real life girlies.

In my life, I think I’m an updo hair stylist sometimes, ha.. (and baker, graphic designer, mom, nurse, psychologist, web designer, etc.)

Smile

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It’s been too long…

April 30th!? April 30th is way too far away for a post. So so much has happened since that last post… marriage…new (dream school) job…moving… being a wife…a new commuter (72 miles round trip)…Henry (dog blog mascot) got cancer this summer (and he’s ok after surgery, THANK GOD). I wanted to craft all summer and instead I was going through all these life changes.

We started another volleyball season 2 weeks ago. So that’s a.k.a. for exhaustion, stressful decisions, awesome situations, constant mind processing and analyzing (even when I’m trying to sleep), and more exhaustion. But with a new last name, I NEEDED to paint new letters for my classroom because we start school in a week. This week is going to be super hectic and really this was the only day to get it done. I originally was going to lay in bed all day bc it was raining, but it stopped, and productivity seeped throughout me and I did something about it. :)

I have been looking for a good chair to sit in the front of my room for years and I found one at a garage sale! I only paid $25!!! So I painted it to look pretty and I’m real excited about it. The letters took forever because my new last name is 13 letters long (as opposed to my precious 8 before). But I’m embracing it with every passing day. And if a name change comes with the fun of being married, I’d take it every day. ;)

Blog chair It was so so great to sit in the garage and craft. Besides the one million mosquito bites I got, I truly enjoyed myself (like I always do when I create) and it was so relaxing while in the midst of a stressful month. I don’t know why I put it off so much. So hopefully when season starts to settle (mid-Septemberish), I can think of more reasons to craft. :) Until then…

Monday, April 30, 2012

More Sugar Cookies

I made some more of the royal icing sugar cookies for Easter and for one of our couples shower (it was our thank you for the hosts). I just wanted to attach some pictures. It’s definitely getting easier and easier every time I make them. This heart batch took much less time than usual, although it still took hours and was tedious. It’s still much quicker than the 3 hours it’s been taking. I did make smaller cookies too. So that might’ve helped not having to flood so much surface.

I will tell my sob story though. :) I got up early the morning of the shower to make those cookies. I’ve been waking up for about an hour and a half in the middle of the night (at 3am or 4am, depending on when my body wants to wake up) and it creates a very tired morning since my sleep is so interrupted in the middle of rest. Long story short, we got in the car to go the shower. We were in the car for five minutes and the cookies  M E L T E D  to mush in their cute cookie bags. So I immediately start panicking (a.k.a. crying) because that was my cute gift for the four couples who were being so gracious. I haven’t gotten a good cry in a while, and the stresses of this time of the year, wedding, life, it made me have a little crying episode. My wonderful fiance was so supportive and said they still were going to taste amazing. Point is, a lesson was learned: transport royal icing sugar cookies in a cooler. I don’t care if that’s dramatic. I will never have my baking sweat put to waste again.

Easter Cookies:

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Shower Thank You’s before the 2012 Meltdown (literally and figuratively speaking:)

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

A team mom made me some chicken pot pie not knowing that I was a vegetarian. So of course, I passed it on to my eager meat eating fiance. He loved it. Good thing I asked for the recipe. I think it’s one of those easy recipes that’s good for sick friends or someone who needs meals made for them.

So when a co-worker at work lost her mom, I thought this was a great meal to make for her and her dad. While I was at it, I thought I’d make my love guy some as well.

Even though the original recipe that the mom gave me was really easy, I decided to go out and find an even easier one. Boy, did I ever?! Pillsbury comes through again. Trust. If you haven’t gone out and joined the Pillsbury membership on their website that is free, then go do it. Right.now.

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Ingredients
1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1 can (18.6 oz) Progresso® Rich & Hearty chicken pot pie style soup
2 cups Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen mixed vegetables, thawed, drained
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

*Insert Randalls Tangent*: I love Randalls. L O V E Randalls. For some reason, it brings me to nastalgia city every time. It reminds me of growing up. And I will forever spend more money than all the HEB and Krogers shoppers just to pay for that good ol’ feeling that I get when I walk in. With that said, I’m disappointed that they didn’t have the above soup. Disappointed. But they saved themselves some points when the store director came to the rescue and helped me find a substitute soup that will work just as well (Chicken and Dumplings, btw). Again, I love me some Randalls. :)

So here goes with the process…

1 Heat oven to 425°F. Make pie crusts as directed on box for Two-Crust Pie, using 9-inch glass pie plate. (I used silver portable ones so they can be taken without me having to get them back.

2 In 2-quart saucepan, heat soup, thawed vegetables and flour until warm.

photo 2(5)Spoon into crust-lined pie plate. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute.

photo 4(5)Cut slits in several places in top crust.

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Finished product. Mmmmm. And so so easy. Too bad winter just passed, because this would’ve been perfect.

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Here’s a picture of my pot pie casualty. My wrist hit the oven door (at 425 degrees) while taking one of the pies out. It’s burning as we speak. Like cute shoes and saying fashion hurts. Good food makes you injured. Ouchy. :(

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Ok ok, it looks worse in real life. I swear.

Wasn’t that the easiest meal ever.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Royal Icing Addiction

There are recipes out there that when you get done you feel the following: “That did not turn out like the pictures”, “I just wasted two hours on making that ____________ and it turned out terrible”, “I’m the WORST baker”. And then there are those recipes out there that make you feel accomplished. And not just in the “Mmmm, that’s a good dessert” kind of way. But in the “Holy crap, I just did that” kind of way. The following post is about one of those recipes.

I love making sugar cookies. There’s just something about making them that makes me feel nostalgic. No, I didn’t grow up making them with one of my grandmas or even my mom. But sugar cookies seem like one of those baking events that make you feel like you’ve been baking them all your life in an apparent nostalgic memory (that in my case, doesn’t exist, ha). I usually make them around Christmas time, which doesn’t help because Christmas (my FAVE holiday) douses me in nostalgia for a month! (Have I mentioned that I want to adopt an Asian baby and name it Christmas? Trying to talk the fiance into that one. So far? It’s a no-go. I’ll turn my persuasion skills on when it gets closer to kiddie time.)

So a couple of weeks ago, we had my bachelorette weekend. To get off a tangent about bachelorette weekends… it’s one of those rite of passages that looks so different for everyone. I think if I was 21, the night would’ve turned differently. Shoot, if I had been feeling better that day we might’ve gone out. We had a low key hang out day all day on Saturday and it was fun (my bff Amy did a WONDERFUL job hosting us. I’m telling you the girl needs her own baking/making blog from the domestic spread she brought out! The girls were talking about it for days). My twinny, MOH of course, planned the whole day and did a wonderful job. We went to breakfast, went and got our nails done (naturally), and then hung out until dinner. We even decorated some wine glasses, which was a great idea. And she got them from the $1! I’ve already used mine! Here are few, I think she decorated both of these, she’s a good little artist. Kindergarten teachers seems to be so creative, and she’s no exception….

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Anyway, my friend from Junior High, Stephanie, came with a little surprise. I told Lisa I’m not much of a “let’s have Penis everything” kind of bachelorette bride, so I kindly told her, keep them out of our day. :) But Steph made these “creative” (ahem) sugar cookies that I will refrain from posting to keep this bloggy family friendly. They were the most HILARE cookies I’ve ever seen and if you want to see them really bad (and I’m building the suspense or what), message me and I’ll send you a pic. The most impressive thing was they looked like she bought them from a bakery. They were clean looking, decorated smoothly, and tasted wonderful. I couldn’t shut up about them because I was soaked with recipe envy. It was funny that she brought some forbidden saucy-ness to the party, but also because she ignited a need for me to make sugar cookies with royal icing…. and so it begins….

I went to Steph’s house the next weekend. The recipes come from this great site, Annie's Eats. The royal icing process can be found here. Both recipes were from that website. Another one of those blogs that makes you want to quit your job and become Domestic Domestic 2012.

The process was made easy for me as Steph already had the cookies and the icing made. Easy. The sketchy shamrock cookies are from my shaky hand. I learned with my second batch to hold the piping tip very close to the cookie for less squiggles. Doesn’t that shine from the icing make you ooooh and ahhhhh.

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Now onto trying this all.by.myself. the very next weekend. I had an open night and decided to make these cookies for the 4 wonderful ladies that threw us our first couples shower! (Shout out insert to Georgia, Stacy, Beth, and Sarah! Such a great night! And I officially love the game Catch Phrase:) I didn’t want to give the usual gift of wine or a plant because I wanted a good reason to make these cookies.

I’m going to call this a baking marathon. It took 3 hours all together (partially my fault, I’ll explain). I compare it to a marathon for many reasons: there were times where I was on a high from making these wonderful cookies, there were times I looked at my clock and loathed the fact that I had 14 cookies left to flood, my back hurt (from bending over and icing), and I was feeling like I was accomplishing something (obviously not the same level as a real life marathon, but in the baking world that I love to be apart of, ha.)

So I started with a trip to JoAnns….I bought goodie bags (see mistakes section below), 2 and 3 sized tips, squeeze bottles for the flooding, I bought icing bags, meringue powder, bag clasps, and food coloring gel.

Sugar Cookies

(I recommend putting the Adele Pandora Station in the background, it makes you feel like you’re an artist) Ha.

Here’s where I’m just going to start posting random pictures. If you want in depth steps, please refer to the links above. The process was hard to document since I was by myself and as you can see from some of the pictures, it gets very messy. My kitchen (and my clothes) looked like the bomb squad came in and dropped a recipe bomb in my kitchen. I had a true blast cleaning that up. Shut up.

 photo 1(2) This is where I hate making sugar cookies. The dough never works how I want. So I have to get my hands in there when I’m done “mixing” it and make it look like dough….

photo 2(2)photo 3(2) I decided to go with heart shaped cookies, for obvious reasons.

 photo 1(3) Ok first I outlined the cookies with a thicker consistency of icing. Then I started flooding them. See links for more details. And I’m talking about, MORRREEEE details.

*Mistake #1: I forgot that I bought squeeze bottles to flood the cookies, just like the recipe says and just like Steph showed me how. The whole time I’m flooding the cookies with a freaking 3 tip and icing bag (a.k.a. the take a million times longer method), I’m thinking- this feels different than the last time and this seems like I’m not doing something right. But I continued and flooded 24 whole cookies like that. Idiot.

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*Mistake #2: I got a *little* carried away with the icing. I put more on the cookies than need be and I broke right through the hard outline I had created for some of them. Luckily, a little toothpick clean up and the cookies were as good as new.

 photo 3(4) <-------before             photo 4(4) <-------after

 

And then came the tip switching and the thicker consistency icing again to do the writing.

photo 5(3)I chose to do different fonts out of trial and error. Oh, and boredom.

*Mistake #3: I didn’t make my font icing hard enough so it started to bleed on some of the fonts that I wrote the letters to close too. See if you can guess the first cookie of the night to be fonted on… *hint: far left, on the side… ha. Sick.

*Mistake #4: When writing the fonts, my hand (and head) got tired and I started to lean on the counter more to keep my hand steady. Or I thought I was leaning on the counter. Sure enough, I was leaning ON THE COOKIE I WAS ICING…More than once! Minor panic set in as I realize that I mushed some of the icing and had to do damage control. Ugh. Shoot me.

*Mistake #5: I thought I’d be cute and buy little goodie bags to put the cookies in. So after all my hard work I put them in there, and there wasn’t enough room. So some of them BROKE. Nightmare. Nate was over and kept hearing me gasping in shock in the kitchen. He was concerned. “Monica, you’re scaring the dog”. Bah. You’re right. They’re just cookies…that I worked on….for 3 hours. So in the future I will be buying boxes to put them in. Dang bags. Ugh again.

*Mistake #6: (First of all, don’t judge how high the mistake numbers are getting. :) What? These are very challenging.) Ok, I somehow didn’t make enough icing the first time around. I don’t know how it happened. But I had to make more. And I was so tired at this point, I didn’t make it right at first and had to rework it. *pain.in.the.butt. And then I ran out of powdered sugar. Of course and drab.

*Mistake #7: Follow directions and use squirt bottles to flood. I used the icing bags, as mentioned above.

*Mistake #8: Making the flood icing to thick on the actual cookie. Don’t get carried away and over excited, like some people. Weirdos *ahem*

Things I will change next time: For sure, I will use another sugar cookie recipe. Her recipe didn’t turn out well for me. They tasted different than Steph’s cookies. And they tasted baking powdery to me. (Nate didn’t agree when I forced a test cookie on him, he liked them). I just like my sugar cookies to be made with sugar. This recipe uses powdered sugar. No likey. No makey again.

 

Overall, I’m so glad I made these cookies! I’m addicted to thinking when’s the next thing I can make them for (footballs for Nate’s birthday? I think yes). I’ve learned some valuable lessons *ahem, see above* with this recipe. And I think I can make them better now that I’ve learned my lessons.

Go to the links and read about her recipes for these cookies and make them! You’ll finish a baking marathon and feel like a true baker. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Engaging Thoughts

I am sad that I haven’t been updating my blog posts very much. I wish I had more time, or for that matter energy. The blog has been…too dry. And so has my crafting. I long for the day where I have a craft room. Serious. I will just happily drown in mod podging, painting, creating, and making. Until then, my one bedroom doesn’t have the room.

This is usually a blog about making and baking. But I’ve been inspired by all the fifty million wedding blogs out there. Holy hell. Who knew that so many women knew about weddings. Some of my faves…

Newlyweds Next Door 
100 Layer Cake
Bhldn (Anthropologie's wedding company!)
Lovey Dovey Design
Untamed Petals (too expensive, but oh so pretty)
A Cup Of Jo
Glamour Weddings
Wedding Star (creative little wedding trinkets)
The Knotty Bride

Wedding planning has been engaging. No pun intended. Man, I’ve always hated planning things too far in advance. Hence, the reason me and my best friend (Magan) would meet in a computer lab in college and write a 12-15 page paper the night before it was due. I loathed the actual night of writing it, but was glad to not have done piece by piece and dragged it out. Wedding planning is like one long paper that I started way too early, due in June. :) ha. I’m a master of short term goals, long-term goals are too involved. I have no choice with wedding planning. :)

I mean, it is fun. Don’t get me wrong. The creative outlet, the creation of a night representing you and your favorite person, the awaiting party that you know it’s going to be is really too much fun to even think about at times.

I will say that there are so many components to our wedding that I am super excited about. The food (of course) is unique and I’m stoked. We’re having sliders, macaroni and cheese, shoe string fries, and some other sandwiches. Oh and how could I forget?! The grilled cheese shooters with tomato soup! It’s going to be presh. And then we are getting the best cake I’ve ever had in my life. That in itself is truly exciting. Because I’m a baker, you know that, and the cake is so important. And let’s be serious, my blog can’t be named the Cupcake Coach if I don’t substitute the cake for what I truly love…cupcakes. So cupcakes it is. White cake and double chocolate to be exact! Bring on the yummy. Oh and the wedding coffee. Wedding coffee is my fave. It just tastes different. And it’s always the perfect way to end the night.

Wedding planning tips: Vista Print is the best site to make magnets and invitations. Ok, they aren’t super thick, but to be honest, NO ONE will remember your invitations in a year. So why dish out so much money on them. Allthough, I will admit I love me some good stationary. Check out Wedding Paper Divas if you want to dish out some dough. They’re designers are amazing. Kind of makes me want to work at designing cards. Ha.

Get married on a non-Saturday. We’re getting married on a Sunday and it’s saving us moola. But more importantly, it’s my all time fave day of the week. Although, Friday is a close second (because the possibilities of the weekend are still upon us). Sundays and December make my heart melt. Along with my Asian babies (love them) and my fiance’s smile. Ok, too much mushy gushy.

Ok, I’m done with my wedding thoughts for the night. I thought I’d just share some input. Ok I’m outta here. Time to watch New Girl. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must watch). Tot funny. And ridic. Love the whole thing.

I’ll leave you with a romantic quote. :) Ha….

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Monday, February 20, 2012

ENGAGED!!

Gosh, with that kind of title, there’s no need for introductions into the new year. Yes, it’s true. My best friend, dream guy, favorite person, and best guy I’ve ever met has asked me to be his wifey on Jan 5th! And I of course, said yes. :)

So needless to say, I’m in the midst of trying to plan a wonderful wedding.

Hopefully crafting some of it…

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