Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I admit it.  I shamelessly allowed Shutterfly to embed a link on my blog so that I would get $10.00 off my next order.  Now if you look at my blog you will get a sneak peek at our Christmas card, which kind of takes the fun out of it.  But, I don't have that many blog readers so not too many people will be affected.  Ha ha.  Anyway, I do LOVE Shutterfly, and I just yelled to the Darling Husband about how much I love ordering my Christmas cards from Shutterfly and what a wonderfully easy website it is to use and how I was so happy because they also sent me a $10.00 off coupon which I was able to use on my card order and how I just think that it is about the easiest part of Christmas, so I guess they deserved the plug.

If you want to order your cards from Shutterfly, let me know.  I have two more $10.00 off coupons that I can give to a friend.  First come, first served.  Let me know!

Photo Card

Merry Bright Greeting Holiday
Create custom new year's invitations at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I honestly was starting to think that I would never find the time to post again.  What happened?  Well, school started, for one.  I love being a teacher, but holy cow - it gets more challenging every year.  This year, all of my classes are FULL.  And when I say full, I mean 29, 30, and 31 kids per class.  I teach 11th and 12th grade English, including AP Literature and Compostition and a senior writing class called Advanced Expository Writing.  That means I pretty much spend every waking minute grading essays.  Plus, I have more students than I have ever had in my 10 years as a teacher.  150.  With that many kids per class, it takes a long time to grade essays.  It's a love/hate thing.  I get so sick of it, but I can't imagine not doing it.

Here's one thing I have taken pictures of since I last posted.  (Not much, I admit.) It's a deliciously awesome fall recipe I made a couple weeks ago.  It is getting hard for me to take pictures of my cooking because it gets dark so darn early now.  By the time I am cooking dinner on a weeknight it is dark out and the food pictures look depressing, not appetizing.  I can only get good pics  if I am cooking on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  My life has been so busy, I haven't stopped cooking, but I have started forgetting to get out the camera! Argh.

Start with some russet potatoes.  (Don't you love this scale?  It belonged to my great aunt Florence (we called her Floozie, her nickname from WWII). 

You also need some onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Notice how I am not using my homemade canned tomatoes?  Well, I just did.  Why did I buy tomatoes?  What was I thinking?  Obviously, I wasn't.  Which is the story of my life this fall.  Anyway...

Peel and slice the potatoes.  Not too thin, not too thick.  I just got this mandoline to make homemade potato chips.  I love it!  (I got it at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  It was not one of the expensive kinds, but it works just fine.) How did I live without it?

Slice up the onions.  (Notice the santoku knife I got last Christmas.  My favorite thing to slice with that knife is onions.  Weird.  Also wondering how I lived without that knife!)

Peel and chop a bunch of garlic.  So good.

Pour the tomatoes in a bowl with their juice and cut them into small pieces with a scissors.  (You can also do this while they are still in the can and then dump them into the bowl.) Then drain off the juice.

Mix together the potatoes, the onions, the garlic, and the tomatoes.

Whisk 1/2 cup olive oil with some tomato paste. (Notice my leopard nails?  Tiny Dancer painted those for me - freehand.   She is quite the artist!)

Add some oregano, water, salt, and pepper.  Pour the tomato and oil mixture over the potato mixture and mix well.

Place in a large casserole pan and bake.  It takes quite awhile to bake.  It will be too dark to take a picture of when it comes out of the oven because it is November now, after all.  Sigh.  Trust me - it is gorgeous and tastes delicious.  The onions are all carmelized and the tomato/potato mixture has a nice crust on top.  I made a pot roast in the crock pot to go with this.  I was an amazing meal.  Yum!

Here's the recipe:

6 medium (about 2 lbs.) potatoes, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
3 large onions, halved vertically and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced (I think I used more garlic.)
1 (28 ounce) can plum tomatoes, chopped and drained
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt to taste (a lot for my taste)
freshly ground black pepper to taste (ditto)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.  In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, olive oil, water, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Pour liquid over potato mixture and toss to coat well.  Spread this mixture in a large baking dish.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 45 - 60 minutes until potatoes are tender.  (I find that it takes closer to 60 minutes.)

Note: you can substitute Yukon Gold potatoes for russet potatoes.  This is very good as well.

Here is the other reason I have not posted in such a long time:

We got a puppy!  Her name is Maya, and she is a Samoyed.  This is me with Tiny Dancer, picking her up from the breeder's home in Traverse City on October 22.  She was 9 weeks old then.

She is super cute, amazingly affectionate, and we love her a ton.  But man, are puppies a TON of work.  I haven't slept more than 5 hours a night since we got her - and most nights those are not 5 hours in a row.  It is like having a newborn, but no maternity leave.

The Darling Husband has been an ultra good sport about this.  It was really Tiny Dancer and me who wanted the dog.  Youngest Boy is also pretty psyched, as you can see.  Darling Husband works out of a home office, so the majority of the potty training is falling on him.  She is doing pretty well, but we are not all the way trained yet.  Soon, I hope.  I also hope she starts sleeping through the night.  She does it every few nights.  She is only 13 weeks old.  A baby still, really.  She is so good, though.  She plays with her toys, gives lots of kisses, and loves to go for walks.  I have never seen a dog that likes people more than she does.

Right now she is sleeping next to the back door.  I think she likes the cool door - she is very furry and I am sure the house feels hot to a Siberean bred dog.  She also likes to sleep on the tile in front of the fireplace.

Could she be any cuter?  Seriously.