Menu Monday: Ratatouille!

Confession:  I've never seen the movie Ratatouille.
I was really tempted to back when there was a Ratatouille tie-in with Jon & Kate Plus Eight.  (I was obsessed with those multiples back in the day...2008.)

Anyhoo, this recipe has been floating around the Internet lately, so I thought I would give it a whirl.  Since I don't have an oval platter, I used a Pyrex dish.  It didn't turn out quite as lovely as the original.  But it was darn cute.

I figured it would allow me the opportunity to try eggplant in a different way, and maybe, just maybe, I would like it.

I didn't really like it, but I did like the ratatouille.  Make sense?  The squash and zucchini and red pepper and tomato and onion was yumm-o.  :)


1/2 purple onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, slivered
1+ cup tomato puree 
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 skinny eggplant
1 summer squash
1 zucchini
1 skinny red bell pepper
fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

-Preheat over to 375.
-Pour tomato puree into 13x10 Pyrex dish.  Add onion and garlic.  Stir in seasonings and 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
-Wash veggies and trim off the ends.  Slice into very thin slices.
-Layer veggies atop tomato puree in a swirl towards the center.  (I could have ton a bit better at this.)  There may be some veggies left over, and you may have to use two slices of the same veggie if they are small (like my zucchini) or cut down the slices if they are too big (like my eggplant).
-Drizzle veggies with remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle thyme across the dish.
-Cut a piece of parchment to cover the dish, so that the paper fits inside.
-Bake 40 to 55 minutes until the veggies are cookie and the tomato puree is bubbling up.

[serves 4]

Next time, I'm leaving the eggplant out!

Have you ever had ratatouille before?  Have you seen the movie?
Let me know what you think of this if you try it!

 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg

Lazy Weekend and Sleeping Beauty

I had another low-key weekend, but it was nice.  I've been rubbish with this blog lately, and I thought about posting Thursday night after my class and then Friday when I wasn't doing anything.  But I just didn't.  Friday night, Zach had a guys night, and other than brushing the kitties, my butt stayed on the couch allllll night!  I wasted time on Pinterest and watching Extreme Couponing.  Oh, I lied...I did get off the couch when I made popcorn for dinner.  ;)

*I tell Zach about my night when he gets home*
ZACH:  How domestic of you!
ME:  What's so domestic about sitting on the couch all night?

Cue laughter.

Saturday was a bit more happening.  I was supposed to meet Katie for breakfast/brunch then lunch then lunch/snack time.  She had to bring Tommy up for a conference and was bringing Ella Kate along with her.  That meant I finally got to meet Miss EK, who is now two months old!

If you know Katie, you know she is the latest person in the world.  (Hey!  She admits it.)  So I can only imagine how late it must be now that she has a baby.  ;)  But I was just glad to see them for a little bit.  Zach and I ended up eating McNuggets for lunch and had what we fondly call a DipFest.

(I hate myself.)

So I just planned to have a snack when I got to meet up with the (Ella) Katies.  We met at Briar Rose, Katie had lunch, I had dessert, and Miss Ella Kate napped and got photographed by moi.  :)

She is absolutely beautiful with the loveliest eyelashes and lips.  Ella Kate also has such a funny little personality (at least, the little bit I saw when she woke as they were leaving).  I told her all babies have this reaction to me (see tri-photo collage above).  :)

After visiting with them, I stopped by Target and got some Cheez Its on clearance!  Then I picked up a shirt on clearance with a $10 off coupon at Kohl's and popped into Sam's and got gas.

For dinner, I made Eggs Florentine, and it was sooo good!  I made my Hollandaise sauce too soon, and my butter had cooled, so it wasn't quite right.  Still yummy though.

Today, we lazed about for just about all of the day.  I did pop down to Harp's to pick up some blueberry muffins and a paper this morning.  For lunch, I thawed some bolognese and planned our meals for the week.  I was so proud of the haul I got at the grocery store tonight!  I spent just over $21 for 2 family-sized boxes of Cap'n Crunch, 2 boxes of Honey Grahams, 1 jar of pickles, 1 box of Texas Toast, 2 boxes of scalloped potatoes, 1 Cool Whip, 1 4-pack of Greek yogurt, and 1 box of cheesecake pudding.  (I volunteered for office snack time this week.)

Looks like that Extreme Couponing is rubbing off...

How did your weekend stack up?
 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg

Gratitude Journal: To teach is to touch a life.

I bet you thought I was going to be reeeeeeal sappy with that title, right?

WRONG.  ;)

Remember that teach that wore the same thing in his yearbook photo for, like, 40 years?

(He's over here.)

Yeah, he's still got something on me.
(More accurately, 37 years...)

I've worn this blouse at some point during the first week of classes for the past three years now. In fact, I bought this shirt during my first week of teaching (at NWACC--I was already teaching at U of Px).

(I paid next to nothing for it with a $10 Kohl's gift card.  They send those babies out all the time in the mail!)

I accessorized it with my chaotic jazz hands, terrified eyes, and gaping mouth. Because those are the BEST accessories. Annnnnd THAT is how scary students are.

BUT. I'm EVOLVING. Not so as scared of those kiddos anymore. I'll get up there and sing jingles, tell them all about my slimy first kiss, and punctuate "y'all" properly to try to get them to learn SOMETHING about writing.

That's why, this year, I'm like: BRING. IT. ON.
Because it's actually quite a bit of good fun to make a foo' o' yo'self.

In reality, I do take this calling very seriously.  I feel so blessed to be teaching my eleventh class this semester, my ninth at NWACC.  I get so excited thinking about how my students are going to move on from my class, get through school, and go on to live their dreams!  I have future nurses and engineers, lawyers and business owners, writers and future colleagues in my class.  And honestly, this is the first semester that I have been more excited than nervous to meet my students and see how we are going to rock this class.  All of the assignments are going to deal with advertisements, which = Mad Men.  Score.

Of course, don't come near me an hour before six Thursday evening.  I'll be quakin' in my boots.

Wish me luck!

 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg

Menu Monday: Cinnamon Toast

Last week, we didn't do a ton of cooking because I started off the week sick, which mean we hadn't bought groceries.  Then we were struggling to find time to hit up the grocery store after work, and the one day I could go, my purse got locked up in my office!  (The new security officer couldn't find the right key to let my boss and me in.)  I finally made it Thursday evening, but then the weekend arrived, and we had plans with friends.  So...not much cooking happened.

But I did make some more Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Toast for breakfast, which was the third time I had made it in about a week and a half, which is crazy for us because I have to have variety.  If you try it, you will understand why!

(It just happens to match my coach.  Apparently, it really IS cinnamon-colored.)

4 slices of bread
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

-Preheat oven to 350
-Mash butter with a fork.  Add in sugar and spices, and mush to blend.
-Add vanilla, and stir to combine.
-Spread one side of bread with the cinnamon butter mixture.  Place on baking sheet, buttered side up.  (Duh. ;)
-Bake for 10 minutes.  Then broil for one.

[serves 2--you probably want to double this!]

Sooo good!  It reminds me of my childhood and of fall and yummy things to eat.  SOOO GOOD!

Are you getting in the fall mood with food?  The weather has been ridiculous here, so I've been wearing boots and dreaming of pumpkin bread and spiked apple cider.  :)

 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg

Love and Lego (Weekend Update)

Where did my glorious weekend go?  Friday was a GREAT day at work--we had our Fall Forum to kick off the semester, two of my colleagues and I were awarded a grant for a leadership program we are starting, I was recognized for being a new (full-time) employee, and the week ended on a high note with a good presentation at one last Division meeting and emails to all of our new PASS participants.

We had a very relaxing Friday night, eating out and coming home to veg out.  :)

After work, we picked up some cupcakes from Bliss.  This time I went for Salted Caramel and Banana Pudding while Zach got a caramel one as well and Red Velvet.  :)

We had dinner at Dickey's BBQ.  I didn't really care for the BBQ itself, but the Onion Tanglers were AWESOME.  And I love any place with free ice cream!

Saturday morning, we got up and cleaned the house in preparation for the AFOLs of Arklug to arrive.  (That means Adult Fans of LEGO in the Arkansas Lego User Group.  I'm so cool to know that.  Right?  Riiiiight.  ;)  We were having a meeting at Crystal Bridges, so everyone could see it, and we wouldn't have to drive four hours to central AR.

Everyone met for lunch at Eleven first.  Zach got his usual War Eagle beans and cornbread, and I went for this Harvest salad I love (walnuts, blueberries, and apples on it).

Then we had lots of fun exploring the museum:

(Okay, so this was actually taken at the U of A stadium, but it was the only picture anyone has posted of Richard and Chris so far, and I didn't want to leave them out.)

On our way out, I finally saw where the LOVE sign is.  (We usually use a different exit.)  I told Zach we could get our photo taken by it, which was on our summer bucket list last year.  He told me, "We're so close.  We can do it later."  Thankfully, everyone insisted we do it, so I finally got to check that off!

 photo IMG_4624_zpsa3c7c0ed.jpg  photo IMG_4626_zps1a42fd2c.jpg
 photo IMG_4625_zps33ed9221.jpg  photo IMG_4627_zps9c3e36c9.jpg
 photo IMG_4628_zps4f2ab66d.jpg  photo IMG_4632_zps3ee2acf5.jpg
 photo IMG_4634_zps055ee368.jpg  photo IMG_4629_zps5cf840d3.jpg

This crew just celebrated their first year as a family!  Love them so much!

Then we came back to our house and worked on LEGO stuff.  Everyone ended staying for dinner, so we ordered Mellow Mushroom and pigged out.  :)  And then it was time for goodbyes.  :(

 Rob with a Heart is a hugger!

my Mechelle
Last time she and Rob were up here, I was in the ICU, so it was great to see them outside the hospital!

the girls
(I was getting squinty-eyed tired...and I didn't even have to drive home!)

Today, I got up and made breakfast, watched Extreme Couponing and Doctor Who (telling you--We. Are.  OBSESSED.), cleaned up the kitchen, planned the weekly menu, and took a nap at six in the evening and went grocery shopping at nine.  What a nice end to summer before the semester starts!

 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg

Sensory Overload: 5 on Friday

What a week.

Thank goodness it's time to link up for 5 on Friday!  It's finally the weekend, which is known in these parts as the calm before the storm.  (Classes start on Monday.  Thankfully, mine isn't until Thursday.)

1)  WHAT I'M FEELING:  accomplished, satisfied, and exhausted.  I had a BIG week at work, giving lots of presentations throughout the week, prepping for the new semester, celebrating being a new (full-time) employee this year, and winning a grant to fund a new leadership program.  :)

2)  WHAT I'M SMELLING: the carwash, which got a reno.  Now, the foam is all kinds of bright colors and smells like what I would imagine Fruity Pebbles to smell like if they smelled like the colors they are...not how they actually smell.  Uh.  Yeah.  I'm nuts.

3)  WHAT I'M HEARING:  Doctor Who.  And not my Bible study app because I haven't had time to hardly pee, much less do anything essential, which makes me sad.  I'm going to do better tomorrow.  I'm going to get to the Urgent and Important again.

4)  WHAT I'M SEEING:  our ritty rat rolling around on the naked bed.

5)  WHAT I'M TASTING:  peach tarts, Italian cream cake, a tomato sandwich, chicken wings, fruit salad, and Bliss (as in Bliss Cupcakes).

This time, we went with Razorback Red Velvet, Banana Pudding, and Salted Caramel.  :)

 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg

Throwback Thursday: My First Kiss(es)

Today, I'm linking up with Bonnie over at The Life of Bon for Throwback Thursday.  And we're going to talk some kissing...

Have you ever thought about how gross kissing is?  And how we, as humans, thought to do it?  Like who thought pressing lips against someone else's would feel good?  The textbook we use in our composition classes at the college has an article on how kissing may have evolved, and it could go back to when mothers chewed their children's food and deposited it in their mouths (like mama birds).  And in times of famine, the feeding motion (kissing) would give the hungry babies and toddlers comfort.


I was pretty boy crazy as a very tiny girl.  I was always "marrying" one of the neighborhood kids (Rocky and Scotty mostly, depending on where I was living at the time), and I had a crush on a boy named Andrew in kindergarten, and I used to kiss ALL of his stuff that was stored in our bathroom.  (We had a bathroom in our room that doubled as a closet.)  Yes, I KNOW.  CREEPER.  (Me, not Andrew.)

Here I am in all of my creeper kindergarten glory.  My mama was pretty upset I didn't take my sweater off for my class photo.

Fast forward a few years, and I am best friends with Jess, and we are both fighting over a boy named Tim, who was in Jessica's grade but liked me more.  (I was two years older.)  When you are a teacher, you make a FOOL of yourself every day, and one of the ways I do this is by telling and showing my students my first kiss.  (Not actually showing them--get yer minds outta the gutter, folks.  I don't kiss my students.)

in my fifth grade glory/model phase

I will pull directly from a PowerPoint I used last spring.

In fourth grade, I had my first kiss with Tim ______ during a sleepover with his little sister.  We were playing Truth-or-Dare, and my best friend Jessica dared him to kiss me.  I didn’t want to kiss him, but Tim kissed me anyway with Jessica’s help.  It wasn’t a real kiss because I was able to turn my head away.  But Jessica still got mad at me for it.
His name was Tim ______.  When I was in fourth grade, all of the girls (and boys) in my neighborhood were younger than me, including Tim’s little sister Amber.  So when she asked me to spend the night in her dad’s brown-gray tent in their overgrown backyard, I packed my favorite pillow and a Barbie toothbrush.  She also invited my best friend Jessica, who swore she was going to marry Tim as she doodled his name in a heart on her notebook.  (They were in the same grade.)  Tim suggested we play Truth-or-Dare, a game we took very seriously in elementary school, so Jess dared him to kiss me.  I, of course, being much older and wiser, refused to kiss this baby and pushed him away and squealed.  But Jess held me down while Tim went in for the kill.  His two puckered lips came at my face like an alien spaceship zooming through the sky.  I thanked my stars when I was able to turn my head at the last moment but not fast enough.  Tim’s kiss was . . . slimy.  And salty.  Wet in a woozy kind of way.  We were two kids who had rode our bicycles in the sun all day and were now coated in a fine layer of sticky sweat.  Ugh.  Despite this failed first kiss, Jess was jealous and mad—at me.

The first example tells the story.  The second one shows the story.  And it almost makes my students want to throw up.  So...winning?!  Yes.  Yes, I am.
My first real kiss happened when I was sixteen and dating this guy that I didn't really like--but everyone else thought he was hot--and I used to skip class and go hang out with him and his best friend, who my best friend was dating.  And he kissed me one afternoon in the back of Steph's car, but I kept my mouth shut tight.  And then we broke up.  After he kissed another chick.  No big deal.  I didn't really like him.  But I'm mad at myself to.this.DAY for letting my grades drop over those few months.

my blonde-highlights-show-I'm-a-rebel-and-discovering-myself phase
(Also, the Polaroid I-Zone Instant Camera Phase)

The next guy I kissed kinda ruined kissing for me because he was really good at it, and I tend to count that first kiss with him as my first real-real kiss.  I think I was seventeen.  It wasn't until I kissed Zach that anyone came close to David or close to surpassing him.  Of course, this guy had lots of practice.  (Um, he changed girlfriends as often as he changed his underwear, I think.)  And it's not like I kissed a lot of guys.  (Um, maybe five?  And most of them only once.)  Then I dated another guy named David (David #2), and the first time I kissed him, his teeth knocked against mine so HARD that I thought I might have chipped a tooth.  So I never thought I would find someone who could kiss as well as David #1.

But then I met my husband.  After I dated a really country boy, who dipped (for those not in the know--chewing tobacco), so when I kissed him, I tasted tobacco and sweet tea.  Ewww.  Let's try again.  Ewwwwwwwwww.  See?  Kissing is gross.

(In his defense, he was pretty sweet.  And we had the same birthday.  Just a good ole' country boy.  Just not my type?)

during my country boy phase
(Tasha ended up marrying her country boy, who was friends with mine.)

Oh, and I kissed two three (um, four?) more guys in there somewhere, one that was kind of rocker and angsty and I was crazy about; the second I don't really remember except for the fact that we kissed in the rain because I wanted to get a kiss in the rain, and then another guy who had had lots of practice kissing, too.  I really know how to pick 'em.

my wild kissing days with my pal Katie on her birthday

And then I met my husby.  And on our first date, we were walking around one of the college campuses in Conway, and we sat down on a bench, he put his arm around me, and then he said, "Kiss me."  And so I did.  And it was gooooooood.  :)))

And so we decided to kiss forever!
But I'm not letting you see that because I think kissing photos are awkward.  Just like this post.  ;)



 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg

"But Hold Me Fast 'Cause I'm a Hopeless Wanderer"

Every time I hear Mumford and Sons, I can't help but think of my first semester teaching when I had two sisters in the same class, and they were OBSESSED with M&S.  I was already listening to it on my drives out to Gravette, but it became an every other day listening party until I got sick.

I just love "Hopeless Wanderer."  If you haven't seen the video, you need to check it out!

You heard my voice
I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark I have no name

So leave that click in my head
And I will remember the words that you said
Left a clouded mind and a heavy heart
But I was sure we could see a new start

So when your hope's on fire
But you know your desire
Don't hold a glass over the flame
Don't let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer

I wrestled long with my youth
We tried so hard to live in the truth
But do not tell me all is fine
When I lose my head, I lose my spine

So leave that click in my head
And I won't remember the words that you said
You brought me out from the cold
Now, how I long, how I long to grow old

So when your hope's on fire
But you know your desire
Don't hold a glass over the flame
Don't let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer

I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under
The skies I'm under

 photo b1ec0eef-a9ee-48d9-87d2-1285feb7aa0c_zpsd6f56ab6.jpg