Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bye Bye Baby

My baby sister, Julie, is going to college tomorrow. She will be attending Kenyon College in Gambier, OH. And while she in not an Illini we are all so proud of our Lady of Gambier. Go Lords and Ladies!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Day Jitters

It's the first day of school. I don't think I will ever feel totally ready on the first day. But in the end, it's just about making kids feel welcome, loving them well, and setting the tone of teamwork.

Go Jaguars!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Liz!

I always forget Liz's birthday because it is right in the thick of crazy school set-up. We have always had so much fun together, laughed so hard, cried on each other's shoulders, and have made so many great memories. Liz, I love you and am so blessed to have you as a friend!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Martha & Me: Cookie 2 of 175

Cookie: Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
Listened to: Mike talking to me while making dinner :)
For: Ben Keller and Kyra Tichacek

I met Ben at Randy and Tammy Greiner's wedding the weekend before Mike and my wedding. Ben was studying for the bar exam and skipped the ceremony to study, came to the reception, did not drink, and left early. He told me that he would be much more lively (and drunk) at the Slamfahr wedding. He did not disappoint and that is where I met Kyra. While brief, it was lovely. Kyra and Ben live in New York City and are hardworking lawyers. Just 2 weeks ago, they got engaged. These are congratulatory cookies for two great people.

I chose the biscotti because one they were being sent, two Ben and Kyra work crazy hours and need a cookie that will travel and last for longer than a day, and three biscotti seemed like a good challenge. The baking process is unique as you make the dough, bake it in a log (poop-y looking), cool it, cut it (biscotti-y looking), bake it again, and cool to eat.

I have definitely gone to a new level of dork because I have been reading all the comments people leave under the recipes on There were 21 comments for this little guy. But, I learned a lot and took some good "test kitchen" advice. I made two batches of these; one for a Mad Men party with some of Mike's poker friends and the other for Ben and Kyra. The first batch, I followed some comment advice and cut them in half due to the sheer size; much to my surprise when removing them from the oven I forgot to cut two of them. The full sized ones were much more beautiful and presentable even if they are quite large. Because my relationship with Ben and Kyra is so limited I went with presentable over sensible. I want them to like me...errr... my cookies. So, make these, keep them whole, and experiment as these are an easy base cookie. Congratulations to Ben and Kyra, we are so happy for you both!

P.S. First time sending something to NYC, so that was fun too!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Martha & Me: Cookie 1 of 175

Cookie: Carrot Cake Cookies
Listened to: Plans by Death Cab for Cutie
To:Bob Dorsey and Matt Lammers

Bob Dorsey, dear friend of ours that Mike met through poker in 2005. He was a groomsman at our wedding and a wonderful man. He saw Julie & Julia with us.

Matt Lammers, another great friend of ours that I met in YoungLife in 2003. Matt and I were partners in crime all through college and have so many wonderful memories.

I let Mike have the honors of choosing the first cookie to be made for the Martha & Me project. He chose Carrot Cake Cookies. Martha describes them as "tiny inside-out carrot cakes, with the signature cream cheese frosting in the inside and spiced 'cake' on the outside". I think they lived up to her description. I followed the teachings in the back of my book about letting butter and eggs come to room temperature which did seem to help the creaming process. The only place I truly struggled was keeping the cookies in a more uniform and dense circle. My cookies came out flatter than what I had hoped and expected. The cream cheese frosting is to die for, so that was a definite plus. I would make these again and maybe try cutting the cookies out with a cookie cutter and see the results. Pictures to come with the revelation of my camera cord.

What I learned from this cookie:
1. Parchment paper is amazing
2. Let your cookies fully chill before baking
3. Let your cookies fully cool before removing from the baking sheet

On a sidenote, I moved around the appliances on my counters so I could keep my KitchenAide on the counter at all times with my Martha Stewart's Cookies sitting right beside it. Already this is becoming a slight obsession. My husband has Lost and I have cookies.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Martha & Me

A few summers ago, I listened to the book Julie & Julia on the way to Maine for a family vacation. I loved the book and the idea of being committed to your hobby. I was so excited to see that a movie was being made of the book and I just had to see it.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago when I was in Borders with my student, Becca. We were simply browsing the cookbook section when I ran into Martha Stewart's Cookies. Then and there I was inspired to begin my own culinary adventure. Martha is my Julia; she cooks, organizes, decorates, and photographs in a style that resonates with me.

175 cookie recipes.

I will make at least one a week and send them off to family and friends. Be on the lookout because the one condition Mike had for this project was "get them out of our house!". Every Monday I will report on the great Martha successes or failures.

I give you Martha & Me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Jeanine wins

One of my favorite shows is So You Think You Can Dance and my dear husband has watched and voted with me all summer long. Last night's finale was filled with some of my favorite dances from the season, not to mention the crowning of America's favorite dancer (for this season at least). Jeanine was the lovely winner and while I wanted Melissa or Ade to ultimately win, Jeanine was a worthy winner in my book. Here are a few of my favorite dances in case you missed them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vitamins for your health

I went to the doctor today and Dr. B told me a little something that married woman should know. She told me that women who are at risk of becoming pregnant should be taking a daily vitamin or a folic acid pill for the chance that you may become pregnant. Dr. B said that you may not be aware that you are pregnant for longer than you would want your baby to be without the vital brain forming vitamins. So, I went to Walgreens and bought some adult chewable vitamins. So ladies- head out to Walgreens and get yourself some vitamins; your maybe-baby will appreciate it.