Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Virtual Night Stand

I've got a Borders gift card burning a hole in my pocket. I have a hard time using it because I have so many books in my night stand wanting to be read. I guess it doesn't hurt to buy a few more and add them to the pile. Currently, on my night stand...

Franny and Zooey
by J.D. Salinger

A friend of mine gave this to me on my birthday. He loves it and I know the book means a lot to him. I started to read it and had to put it down because I had to keep up with my books for the class that I took this fall. Now that I have sworn off all reading that is 'assigned' to me, I hope to get back to this book.

The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

At my holiday party, a friend saw this on my bookshelf and was excited to talk to me about one of her favorite books. I hope she wasn't too disappointed, but I hadn't read a word of it. It sits on my shelf, lent to me by a friend who bought her copy in Ireland. She loves it too and when I finish it, I have two friends will want to chat about the book.

A People's History of the United States
by Howard Zinn

This is a reread for me. I read this book about 12 years ago and I was browsing my shelves a few weeks ago and pulled it out. Something about this time in our own American lives that made me think it was time to revisit some of the hard truths and stories that lie in our past. If you haven't read this book, you should.

These books should keep me busy for at least two months...(I'm kind of a slow reader)...but that doesn't stop me from wanting to browse the bookshelves at Borders and add these books to the pile...

The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
by Jonathan Alter

It could be that I like Jonathan Alter and think he is wicked smart when I watch him discuss politics on MSNBC. It could be that my grandfather couldn't talk about FDR without crying just a little. It could also be that Barack Obama was reading this book and I want to be a little like Barack Obama. Who knows, but I am going to buy this book tonight.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames
by David Sedaris

I bought Holidays on Ice for a friend for Christmas because I love to reread it each holiday season. It never fails to make me laugh, but it reminded me that I had not purchased David Sedaris's new book. It has been out for many months and I was very excited when it came out, but again, bogged down with 'assigned' reading.

So, these books should keep me busy for awhile. However, there is always the chance that I will be distracted and add some other books to this list.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Midwest Christmas: By the Numbers

7 - Days spent in the midwest to celebrate Christmas with our family.

163 - My highest wii bowling score this holiday season.

27 - Number of first and second cousins seen over my week in the midwest.

3 - Number of days that my shoulder ached after rolling cookies.

-22 - Degrees. Yes, that's right. That is negative 22 degrees. The temperature on my first morning in North Dakota.

5 - The number of years taken off of my life after the taxi cab ride home from the airport tonight. Scary. Fast. Worth it. Way better than parking at the airport.

8 - The number of Obama holiday cookies made. I come from an Obama-lovin' family and they just seemed right sitting on the holiday cookie tray.

6 - The number of days left until I return to kindergarten. It's going very fast.

2 - The number of people at our New Year's Eve party. Just the two of us. Just the way we like it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Recap

The last two weeks have been busy with a capital B. Like all other teachers, the last two weeks of school before winter break are filled with special days at school and events planned with staff.

Last weekend, we hosted our first holiday party with people from my work. Tim and I spent the week before the party cleaning and cooking. I tried a lot of new recipes and some tried and true. Of course, I baked a number of holiday cookies too. Although I invited mostly people from work, I invited my cousin and his wife and my friends from Brooklyn too. It was great that they made the trip. I was a little worried that my house would not be able to hold everyone, but I was pleased with how everything went.

I put the drinks in the three-season porch and that helped with the flow of people. I served soda, waters, beer, and wine. We have a lot of drinks left over. Oh, well, we will just have to have another gathering.

We have a holiday party tonight too! All of the sudden, we have a social life. More than anything that I am looking forward to this season is traveling home to North Dakota to see my family. I am ready for the traditions of the past, the comfort that only your family can bring, and sharing the fun of Christmas with my parents, my brother and his wife, and my extended family in the frozen tundra of home.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Midwestern Recipe: Easy Turtle Pretzels

Holiday baking season is here again! I will be posting each of the recipes that I try for the first time and the tried and true recipes from my family. Today, I baked two cookies recipes and two candy recipes.

First, I made Easy Turtle Pretzels. It was so easy and they are good. I think they would make a great homemade gift for someone if they were put in a cute jar or bag.

Preheat your oven to 300.

Unwrap 50 individual rolo candies (a 12 ounce bag).

Spread out about 50 tiny twists rold gold pretzels on parchment paper lines cookie sheet. I can only fit 25 on my pan.

Place a rolo on each pretzel. I put them on upside down. It doesn't matter.

Put tray in oven for 4-6 minutes (enough to get the rolo soft and squishable).

Take tray out of oven and smoosh pecan halves on top of each rolo, pressing down to fill in the holes of the pretzel.

Let cool. Can refrigerate to cool. Sit out a little bit before eating, cause the caramel inside the rolo will get tough from being in the fridge.


I know there are people who do not enjoy the holidays for lots of different reasons, but I love them. I cannot imagine a season without baking, music, and family. I love the idea of preparing for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Things I Am Thinking About on Thursday Morning

I think it is interesting (weird) that the number one purchase on the folk section of itunes is "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman. That song came out in 1988. Twenty years ago.

Why did I spend 20 minutes (I wish I was exaggerating) in the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru last night? It was one of those drive thru lines that once you are in it, you cannot get out unless you move through the line. Well, I think only one man was working in the shop and he was the new guy because it took five minutes for him to make coffee for people. Their coffee is not the 'fancy' coffee that takes steamed milk and espresso. The easy stuff, yet it took twenty minutes. Normally, I wouldn't care, but I was late for class after that. See...I hate to even complain about this because that guy has a frustrating job as it is and here I am complaining.

Gas is now $1.89 here in my neighborhood. That is nice. I don't fret when I pull up to the station when I see a number under two dollars. However, I worry about the rest of the economy. Groceries seemed a lot more expensive when I went for our weekly trip. Maybe it is the after holiday increase so they can make money back on all of the sales prior to Thanksgiving. I think I notice the price changes more because I buy so many of the same foods from week to week.

I have decided to not take a grad class next semester. I did not enjoy my class this fall and felt that I got very little out of it. I am starting to think that grad school is for your twenties or at least, my twenties. Now, I just want to work and go home. I want to spend my free time doing what I enjoy. I want to read the books that I want to read. I have one more class left.