Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 31, 2009 | | 10 comments
Witching you all a Safe and Happy Halloween!
We have our candy ready,
the jack o lanterns are on display,
our traditional stew cooked in a pumpkin is simmering,
hot apple cider will be ready as soon as the doorbell rings .
Bring on the Trick or Treaters!

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Treat or Treat!

Thursday, October 29, 2009 | | 12 comments
Over the years I've had the privilege of working with some amazing individuals. These ladies go above and beyond and give so much of themselves and it's all done selflessly. To be fair, I learned a great deal in college. For the most part I enjoyed many of my courses and felt they were preparing me for my future as a teacher. Upon graduation, I thought I knew it all and could take the world on ~
yea, I was young!
Reality is, that what I have really learned has been through life experience. Hands on and peer modeling has made me the {proud} teacher I am today.
Each Wednesday a group of us meet for coffee at Starbucks. I'm the youngest of the bunch and feel so lucky to be included. After {more than I'm willing to share} years of teaching, I still feel like a sponge around these ladies soaking up their knowledge. Meeting with them is a wicked early start to the day but I look forward to it each and every week.
We don't all work in the same building any longer so this is the only time we have together to just "chat."
Being creative individuals, we are always bringing little surprises and treats along to share.
Since Halloween is just around the corner, I made these little paper mache pumpkins filled with homemade truffles for my friends.

Once a month we have a birthday celebration in my school for teachers and staff. We all sign up at the beginning of the school year for this yummy event. I signed up to bake for the October birthdays. I made my tried and true Pumpkin Torte.
Not only is it amazingly easy {I'm almost embarrassed to give you the recipe}, it's sinfully delicious ~ if only it were calorie free!
It's perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday if you're in need of a dessert.
I'll warn you though, it doesn't travel well. I almost rear ended a little car because I was so worried about the torte tipping over.
Thankfully, no one {car or torte} was harmed during the delivery.
I'm not sure how I would have explained that one to my husband.

Pumpkin Torte
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 toasted pecans ~ divided
1 package yellow butter cake
1can (15 ounces) pumpkin ~ not pumpkin pie mix
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
10 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
16 ounces whipping cream
1. In a small pan, melt the first three ingredients. Add 1/4 cup of the pecans. Pour this equally into two greased cake pans.
2. Mix the cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, oil, and spices.
3. Pour mixture on top of brown sugar mixture in pans.
4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden.
5. Let them cool completely ~ this is very important.
6. Beat the whipping cream until firm peaks form ~ set aside in frig.
7. Mix cream cheese, powered sugar and remaining pumpkin.
8. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
9. Cut each cake into twos horizontally.
10. Layer the cake with mixture in between.
11. On the top layer add the remaining toasted pecans.
12. If desired {as shown in photo} make a little extra caramel by combining butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Let it cool completely before drizzling it over the top.

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Secret Scarecrow

Monday, October 26, 2009 | | 20 comments
Have you heard of Secret Santa?
This is his laid back cousin, Secret Scarecrow.
Years {and years} ago I taught in a school that had a fabulous staff who enjoyed not only their students, but their colleagues as wells.
We had such a blast together. We would often do things together on the weekends that included our spouses and sometimes even our own children.
Each year we would sign up for Secret Santa partners just before Thanksgiving.
This would insure enough shopping time during our so called time off during the weekend holiday.
We all enjoyed this time but, to be honest it was "one more thing" added to an already hectic and chaotic short few weeks.
The idea of Secret Scarecrow popped into my head one day and I proposed it at one of our meetings. It was accepted and implemented the following fall.
As I've moved through the years, so has my scarecrow idea.

Today was the first day of Secret Scarecrow.
I'm treating my gal to homemade Oatmeal, cranberry and white chocolate chunk cookies. Inside the pumpkin tag is a gift certificate to Starbucks.
Our gift giving began today and will end on Thursday. We try to spend only 10 dollars a day. Friday we will reveal our Secret Scarecrows and enjoy a soup and salad luncheon together in the Teacher's Room.
I actually enjoy this so much more for the simple reason that I have time and I don't feel rushed as I do during the Christmas season.
Give it a try and let me know how it turns out!

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Wild, I tell ya!

Sunday, October 25, 2009 | | 10 comments
Since the beginning of October we have experienced all four seasons in a matter of three weeks.
I never know what to expect from day to day.
We have had 80 degree weather which then turned to snow. A few days later it warms up and we have thunder storms.
Last night I was certain we were going to lose our roof. It was SO windy. At one point I looked out the front window to see the leaves flying off the trees sideways ~ I kid you not! This was followed by several loud claps of thunder. I actually jumped and let out a little scream, Bozely ran for his crate, and my husband continued to snore while "watching" the game.
Today we awoke to fall in all its glory!
I love how rich this red is against the green ~ it just pops. We have the most amazing stone walls in our area. They were built many years ago and are still standing. On the back of our property we have one that was build many years ago to mark a farm line that no longer exists. We could remove it since it is ours, but I would never want to dismantle our little piece of history.

I walk past this brook almost everyday. It's tucked away along a road that is rarely traveled. I love the soft murmuring sound it makes.

Had you stopped by this afternoon, you would have found me wrapped up in one of our adirondack chair reading one of my new books. This sweet spot is in our backyard.
Beyond this spot is what I refer to as the Wild Kingdom.
Seriously, some days I feel like Laura on Little House on the Prairie!
How would you feel if you look out your kitchen window and saw a Coyote?
I thought so.

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I may have a problem

Thursday, October 22, 2009 | | 20 comments
I've already shared with you the somewhat of a "clean freak" obsession I have and I've shared with you that I'm on a one woman mission to stay as healthy as I possibly can this fall/winter. I've also shared with you that I'm a teacher of small children that not only carry germs but are willing to share them through sneezing, coughing, blowing and I won't go any further than that {you can imagine the rest}.
Most days I recite the following words a minimum of 50,000 times {no, I'm not exaggerating} ..... Did you wash your hands? Are you sure? Let me smell {for the scent of soap} them just to be sure ~ especially if they look really dry.
I've hit an all time new level this evening.
While I was in the Laundry room, my husband came down the hall and went into the half bath across the hall. Upon his departure, I went right into teacher mode ~ yep, I asked him if he had washed his hands and if he was sure.
His response .....
Would you like to smell them Mrs. {insert my last name} and stretched his hands out towards my face.
I laughed, and apologize.
but you know I smelled, just to make sure! :)

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Monday, October 12, 2009 | | 29 comments

This lovely orchid was a gift from a sweet parent. It was an unexpected surprise that was awaiting my arrival Friday morning. I was so touched by the sweet words she shared with me in her note and her kindness expressed in this gift. It made my day and spilled into my weekend!
I've never had an orchid before ~ I've always been afraid of how delicate they appear and I've heard they are hard to grow. I should also point out that I don't exactly have a green thumb when it comes to house plants. According to the card that came with the plant {or is it a flower?}, it needs a temperature of 70~90 degrees and indirect lighting. It also enjoy humidity. I have it in our master bathroom so I think I have the humidity and sunlight down, but there is no way it will reach 70 degrees during the day let alone 90. The warm days are a thing of the past here in New England. It was only 45 here today and that is the high for the entire week and will drop from there. When we are away during the day, the temperature is set for 60.
My husband suggested an electric heating pad on a timer ~ very (not) funny! I am on a mission to keep this lovely alive and beautiful!

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Health and Wellness

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 | | 24 comments
* Update ~ thank you for your comments and emails. I'm very interested in the suggestions that were offered and will be making some implementations into my health regiment. Now I'm off to wash my hands, again! :) *
It's *that* time of year again ~ only starting much earlier this year for some reason. We have already had large numbers of absences due to illnesses in my school. Last week one classroom was down 12 children three days in a row ~ yikes. It is spreading through the grade levels due to the simple fact that it's being passed on to siblings at home and then introduced to the next grade level classroom. Due to the nature of the school I work in {primarily military} we have a revolving door of new germs being transported from different states, and sometimes countries.
I am neurotic when it comes to hygiene! Truly, it's beyond OCD and I'm all right with that. It is only the beginning of October and I can't wear my wedding rings because my skin is so dry and cracked from washing my hands every time I turn around. I use hand lotion but wash it off 30 seconds later when I'm washing my hands, AGAIN.
After many years of teaching, I know that once I get sick {and I will}, I never seem to completely recover. Just when I'm feeling better and think I'm on the mend, I get hit again with something new. One of the biggest culprits is that there are always new strains making their way into our school so my immune system doesn't have the opportunity to create antibodies for protection ~ according to my physician.
What are you taking this season to add a boost to your health? This is a sensitive subject and there is great debate out on this topic. I've done hours and hours of research on supplements and diet {I'll save that for another post} as well attended conferences. For my family, I believe that they have helped in a multitude of ways. When my son was diagnosed with food allergies as a very small child I began introducing supplements into our daily routine. Currently I'm taking a multi vitamin, C, and D3. I'm considering a probiotic. Any thoughts or experience?
I'm sniffle free as of today and would like to remain so for many weeks to come. Help : )

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It's here!

Thursday, October 1, 2009 | | 17 comments
Welcome October!
{photos of our home last year}
This is my favorite month of the year. It's a season with many celebrations but there is very little commercialism involved. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and all that it {really} celebrates, but there is a rather large amount of stress and expectations that come just before and after the special day.
For the past many years my husband and I have hosted an Oktoberfest at our home. It's become an annual event and our friends begin asking in August for the date. I've been working on the menu as well as the the decorations for both indoors and out. I really enjoy this "holiday". I love the eclectic group of friends we have and how we all meld together so well.
We will also be attending a few of the fall festivals in our area. They feature local artisans and chefs. I love supporting our local community and the unique talent it offers. One of my new favorites is the Food Stroll a few towns over. It never fails to be an incredible evening.
I celebrated the first day of October with a yummy pumpkin spice Green Mountain Coffee from a sweet local restaurant this morning. I left a few minutes early so that I could run in for my treat ~ it was so worth it!
We awoke to a very chilly start this morning. It was hard slipping out from the warmth of my down comforter. I always forget how cold hardwood floors are in the fall and winter months.
I am actually wearing a light wool sweater today ~ yes, it's that cold! Due to the special event {October} I donned my J Crew cable knit in chocolate brown. I love the colors of fall.
As I'm typing this, my husband is building our first fire of the season and I have a pot of Spicy Chicken Chili on the stove simmering away.
Hope you all had a great day as well!
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