Last week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided that warm chicken soup was just what I needed to fend off the grumpiness-inducinge snowstorm that was de-railing my evening plans. AND, I decided to put a heart-shaped spin on it, something I’ve done once before!
- 1 rotisserie chicken
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- celery, washed and cut into small pieces
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- Chicken Broth (at least 3 of those square cardboard containers)
- Lasagna noodles, pre-cooked (al dente!)
- fresh rosemary
- green beans, cut in two
- small heart-shaped cookie cutters/fondant cutters
Step 1 – Gather Ingredients!
Step 2 – The Chicken Part
Prep the chicken by taking all of the meat off of the bones and setting it aside.
Once you’ve picked it clean, put the carcass, the fresh rosemary, and at least one container of chicken stock in a pot and boil it. This makes an amazing, aromatic, and delicious broth-base that will amp up the awesome-factor of your soup!
Step 3 – Heartify!
Step 4- Assemble!
Step 5: Final Steps!
Step 6: ENJOY!
I love Valentine’s Day. I don’t love conflict. There are some opinions that I keep to myself in order to avoid conflict. This is not one of them. If you don’t love Valentine’s Day, I am writing this to you, and you are wrong.
“But it’s so commercial.”
One common theme in the Hate-On-Love-Day Parade is the claim that Valentine’s Day is overly commercialized; exploited by corporations, both large and small, to make moola. I have several things to say in response to this…
- Every holiday is commercialized; we live in a highly consumerist/sales society. Shoot, Christmas is probably the most commercialized of all, but I don’t see people refusing to celebrate that!
- Feeding into the over-commercialization of holidays is a choice. Helen Fisher, a sociologist from Rutgers University, said it pretty well: “This isn’t a command performance. If people didn’t want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business.” Helen is on point here, folks. If it bothers you that everybody is out to make money off of Valentine’s Day, then don’t buy anything. Refuse to feed the commercialist beast! Stick it to the man – just don’t stick it to Valentine’s Day! It’s a holiday to celebrate love and the people in your life who you care about – call up a friend and tell them you appreciate them! Is that commercial? No, it’s just nice.
“I’d rather do something when it’s NOT expected.”
Oh really? How often does that actually happen? Sorry for my skepticism, maybe you are the king/queen of doing nice random things for people and I have misjudged you. If that is the case, then huzzah! But I still urge you to look at it from another perspective!
Impromptu and spontaneous acts of love are fantastic – but so is a holiday whose sole purpose is to perpetuate and promulgate planful and thoughtful acts of love! So, if you’re all about unexpected surprises, then this Valentine’s Day show your love and appreciation for someone who is NOT expecting it. Don’t want to be predictable with your sweetie? That’s fine. What about your cousins who you see once a year? What about your nice neighbor who helped you snow-blow your walkway that one time? Or the barista who knows your name? Or your old friend that you call up when you’ve had a crappy day? Those are the people who probably don’t expect anything from you this Valentine’s Day, but who would be delighted by an act of caring!
“I’m single so I’m boycotting Valentine’s Day.”
ARGH! THAT MAKES NO SENSE!!! I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that you had to be in a relationship to be capable of loving someone. DO YOU HAVE A MOTHER?! WHAT ABOUT A MOTHER FIGURE?! DO YOU LOVE THEM??? SO MAKE A POINT OF TELLING THEM THIS VALENTINE’S DAY.
Clearly, this line of thinking turns me into a gigantic, Valentine-defending rage-monster. I shall calm down and try to respond with less of a knee-jerk-emphasis-on-the-jerk reaction.
Ahem. Oh, you’re single? Me too. In fact, I’ve never been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. Unlike you, however, I don’t think your relationship status should dictate your ability to celebrate a holiday or not. Shockingly enough, there are still a lot of people in my life that I love and appreciate, despite not being in love with someone.
I remember the year that my brother, Nathaniel, and his college friends decided to boycott Valentine’s Day. They wore black all day, didn’t talk to any girls, and hung out and watched The Godfather that night. Funnily enough, they had it kind of wrong. By spending time with friends, they were sort of celebrating the purpose of Valentine’s Day anyways. Still, I can sort of understand, I’ve had those moments of single-blues on Love-day, but then I remembered that having a chip on your shoulder and taking it out on everyone else is an ugly character trait.
If you boycott Valentine’s Day because you’re single, then you are ultimately just being selfish. It’s not all about you, my friend. You’re glum because you’re single? Boo-hoo. Go show love to somebody else rather than wishing that somebody would show it to you or whining because nobody does. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic relationships! It’s about love of all kinds. I challenge single-folk to make Valentine’s Day theirs just as much as it belongs to couples. You have to be the change you wish to see in the holiday.
“It’s too expensive.”
- Please go back and re-read the whole commercialism line of thinking.
- The Internet can give you all sorts of ideas for Valentine-y goodness, ranging from inexpensive to free.
- Money might talk, but Actions speak louder than words. Rather than buying something or taking someone out for a WAY overpriced meal, do an act of service for someone!
- Lots of wonderful caring activities don’t involve $$$. Make dinner, snuggle, read aloud to somebody, play a board game, have an indoor picnic, watch a movie, write a letter, shovel a walkway, take out the trash, fold the laundry, give a neck-rub, do one of the ickier household jobs that everybody avoids . . . you get the idea.
“Isn’t that a Christian Holiday? I’m not Christian.”
First of all, most of the holidays that are celebrated today have some sort of religious origin (again, Christmas comes to mind). I’m willing to bet that many, or even most people who celebrate those holidays aren’t practitioners. I doubt everybody who drinks a beer on St. Pattie’s is a devout Catholic. Similarly, people who eat Cadbury eggs are probably not all attending Good Friday services and celebrating the resurrection of Christ. People who celebrate holidays through the lens of their belief system may return to the roots of the holiday, but it is hardly the norm. You clearly do not need to be a Christian to celebrate a holiday of Christian origins.
Second, while there are some different accounts of St. Valentine and his execution being on February 14th, the roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Lupercalia, a Pagan fertility festival held in the ides of February in ancient Rome. As a non-believer, I think you can safely celebrate the day. I just wouldn’t encourage you to do it the way they did in ancient Rome, because sacrificing a goat and a dog, well. That’s just sad. And touching their hides (once removed) in hopes of fertility in the oncoming year? I think Science has brought us farther than that.
Side-note, Valentine’s Day’s association with the idea of Love also has been linked with early belief in France and England that February 14th was the beginning of a bird’s mating season. If all else fails, I guess you can celebrate it for the birds.
“I actually hate everyone, including myself.”
That’s just awful! If all else fails and there’s nobody that you love, you should at least love yourself and give yourself a day of pampering. Try. Be good to yourselves, you are the only you this world has got. That makes you a very limited natural resource and a rare commodity. Appreciate that about yourself.
“My entire family died in a freak pinecone incident on Valentine’s Day.”
Okay. You’ve got me there. I probably wouldn’t feel very festive either. But, I mean, you could always make it a day to commemorate your love for your family, right? That’s what I would want people to do after I’m gone – not just sit around being sad on the day I went out, you know?
Have some other reason why you don’t like Valentine’s Day?
So, if you aren’t convinced yet, please feel free to go back and look at my older Valentine posts to hear some more of my strong opinions or get ideas for how to celebrate.
- Getting in the Spirit
- Laughter and Cupcakes
- Ideas for Valentines
- Fantastic Card Concepts
- Valentiney Craft #1: Felt Handwarmers
- Valentiney Craft #2: Heart Gloves
- My History with Valentine’s Day
- Valentines for the Classroom
- My Valentine Pin-Board, for inspiration
If you want to argue with me about it some more, please post comments. You are wrong, and I will fight you. For the sake of Love.
There have been a few beautiful moments in my lifetime that my normal forays into the online world have yielded treasures greater than I could have ever imagined. I have thus compiled my very first master-post of things I found on the internet that I didn’t even know I wanted, but are absolute perfection.
British Men Reading Literature
Thanks to a benevolent soul on 8tracks, there is a gorgeous playlist of beautifully-accented English readings. . . swoon away.
The Best Musical Mash-up I have ever heard:
I first heard this song through a tumblr post, and I have been obsessed ever since!
The ability to listen to rain ALL THE TIME:
I love rain. I love the sound of rain on rooftops and the serene quality of a rainy day. Warm summer rain and the low rumble of thunder? It just doesn’t get better than that. It is, without a doubt, my favorite weather. So, when it’s been a good long time since the last thunder heralded the arrival of a well-rounded storm, I go to this website that lets you listen to rainy music any time!
The Best Foreign Language Resource of All:
wordreference.com is a magical resource. This is not an exaggeration. It provides nuanced translations (defined from a multitude of different dictionaries), synonyms, information on how a word is used in context, variations of words in phrases, examples, linguistic expressions, forums where you can ask questions/clarify word-use, and ALL verb conjugations!!! It has everything.
Mindless JELLO TIME:
Sometimes you just want to do something dumb. Mindless. If this is you, I would like to introduce you the red jello mold.
When you go to jellotime.com, you will see just how mindless and ridiculous this is. Mouse-over the jello and watch it wiggle. . . with sound effects. It either gets old immediately or is mesmerizing.
Citationmachine.net is a GIFT to students the world over. If you don’t use it already, then allow me to welcome you to the 100% painless ability to correctly site every single one of your sources in ALL of the formats!!! It actually got updated recently, so if you’re having trouble navigating the new formatted website, you can always click here to go to the old version, which does both MLA and APA!
Do you like old radio shows?
Have you ever even heard one? Think: pod-casts/mp3 books from back in the day of entertainment before there was a TV in every home, before the internet, or the existence of newsfeeds; when people were known to gather around the family radio to listen to dramatized adventure stories. Listening to them now can be both entertaining and riveting. . . not to mention a wonderful background to activities that require your visual attention. I love being able to do work while I listen to a story without feeling like I’m missing whatever is going on by not watching a screen. Anyhow, I recently stumbled upon a website that has dozens upon dozens of free radio shows to listen to! Check it out by clicking on or copying the URL: http://www.oldradioworld.com/
Okay, I need to stop somewhere, so I suppose this is as good a place as any.Looking back, I am noticing that I sound weirdly like an infomercial or like I’m some sort of weird paid promotional person. Please believe (and I’m sure it’s not much of a stretch) that NOBODY paid me for any of this rambling post. Enjoy my internet finds, and if you have any of your own to share, please let me know!!!
The phone rings and your caller i.d. flashes the name of a dear one you’ve been particularly bad at keeping in touch with over the past year or so. You stare at the screen and in the course of a few seconds, you must decide whether to answer or not.
One one hand, OF COURSE you want to talk to that person! It’s not like you guys have been out-of-touch on purpose. . . life has just been busy and your two schedules have made you ships in the night. It would be so wonderful to hear their voice again!
On the other hand, it’s been so long since you’ve last spoken voice-to-voice that you’re pretty far behind. Who knows whats been happening in each-others’ lives and how much time (not to mention emotional energy) you may have to dedicate to getting up to speed?
This is also the dilemma of the mind behind this blog. Amid the beautiful chaos of life, there’s been barely a minute or two consecutively to sit with my computer over the past month-and-a-half, and now I find myself with a newsworthy snow day and too much to say.
Life has been full to bursting these past weeks, and true to my scattered form, I shall now undertake the telling of the highlights via list, in no particular order.
1. Yesterday my two nephews were officially adopted!!!
Words cannot describe how thankful I am to have them formally in my family (where they have been informally for years!).
After 25 years, my parents have sold the home where I grew up and are moving to Michigan. I can’t lie and say that I am not sad, because I loved growing up on Iradell Road, and it will always hold a place in my heart. BUT, I can say that I am very excited to see where this major shift takes my parents and I know that God will bless the next 25 years as fully has he has the last.
3. I love my church!
4. Teaching remains delightful!
I took this picture of my desk, because it was one of those moments where I couldn’t quite believe the randomness of the things appearing on my desk!
5. Planning School Events is, as always, Underway
Winter Ball is almost upon us (if the storm doesn’t require a postponement!) and there will be more to come on the Fairy-Tale Forest theme soon . . .
Suffice it to say, I am staying busy with the details this year!
6. I got another Tattoo
7. I’m still obsessed with my cat Winky
. . . but can you blame me?
8. I have a new fnephew! (foster-nephew)
So you see, a lot has happened . . .
I have a lot to be thankful for!
What’s new with you in 2015?
If you, like me, tuned in to watch the 200th episode of Supernatural last night, well. You know. You know that there are no words to describe what ridiculous rip-roaring supernaturally high school musicalish CHUCK-ness that we witnessed. If you didn’t watch it (or you did and understood nothing) . . . well I’m sorry. BUT GOSH. For those of you that cohabitate the fandom with me, sit back, tune into some Dean-Inspired Music Mixes (x) while you wait for last nights songs to hit iTunes, and check out my mini Supernatural Theme Party pictures!
Then I decorated like the Unabashed Fan that I am.
Remember this? [x]
How about this? [x]
My little hommage:
Then there’s this little nugget: [x]
Which I figured deserved some inclusion…
Then of course, I could never forget Kevin. (RIP)
And since that made me sad, I had to include something involving Crazy!Cas… Remember his obsession with Bees and Honey? [x]
Well . . .
Then I decided it was high time I whip up some fandom-themed foods!
Some of these were a little subtle, but others were pretty obvious, right?
In the end it wound up being a delicious spread of snacks . . . even if I was too emotionally wrapped up in the show to eat much!
So, if you don’t watch Supernatural, you can appreciate approximately 2% of all of this, and you should probably go watch the past 200 episodes ASAP.
MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR TIME??!?!
And that’s all I have to say about that. [x]
This week, I made a cake. A cake that takes the cake, if you know what I mean. I found myself in possession of some very disappointing Red Delicious Apples (as all Red Delicious Apples tend to be) that were starting to grow even less appetizing over time. Thus, I went to find my Apple Cake recipe and put them to some use before they morphed into fruit-fly traps on my counter. Sadly, I couldn’t find my recipe, but NOT AT ALL sadly, I wound up using one that I found online (somewhat modified) and it might just be my new favorite Apple Cake recipe. The original is from here, but I made just enough changes that I am going to share with you what I wound up making (based on what was in my cupboard) so that you can reproduce the exact apple-y goodness that I was able to mash together, should you so desire (although I’m sure the original recipe is pretty stellar!).
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (unsweetened vanilla)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla/vanilla bean paste
- 3 cups (4 or 5) grated Red Delicious apples ( leave the skins on!)
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp.white vinegar (makeshift buttermilk) – allow this to sit for 5-10 minutes before using!
- Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust rack to middle position.
- Stir together sugar, eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl. Fold in apples and coconut, and then pour the batter into a buttered Bundt pan – the batter was quite thick!
- Bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick inserted near the middle of the cake comes out clean and batter-free! Now, I found that the toothpick was still not quite clean after about an hour, so I increased the temperature to 350°F at that point and baked it for an additional 10-15 minutes and that seemed to do the trick!
- During the last 15 or so minutes of baking time, pull out a medium-sized sauce-pan and get your carmelly-drenching-glaze ready. To make the glaze, you put butter, sugar, milk/vinegar mixture (ahem: buttermilk), and baking soda into a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stirring until ingredients are mixed/melted together. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Stir in vanilla.
- Immediately after removing cake from oven, pour most of the sauce over hot cake, reserving about 1/2 cup. Let the cake stand for 1 hour, letting the sauce seep into the cake and absorb its magical powers, and then turn it out onto a plate. Pour the reserved sauce over the top.
- Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. I had a piece that night and it was STUPENDOUS, but when I served the rest of it to friends the next day, the reports were good! It was so moist, but not chunky or overwhelming – just the right blend of Apple and Spice and Caramel (aka. Heaven).
Every year for Halloween, I dress up. I think teachers who don’t dress up without a good reason are kind of a drag, to be honest. But I’m also a big nerd who loves to stay creatively on/near the topic of my content-matter as much as possible. SO, typically, I try to pick a costume that is at least somewhat french-related. This year, though, a staff theme was chosen without le français in mind, and so I had to get creative. Thus was born the idea of:
That’s right. I’m Super Sweet/Sugary. My mission?
My biggest weapon would probably have to be the Sugar Coma, but mostly I like to think I help keep the peace. . .
I’m not gonna lie, a few people have said my eyelashes are reminiscent of Effie Trinket, and my dress fringe is a little insecure. . . I leave a candy trail wherever I go, but somehow it’s fitting, don’t you think?
I wish you all a SUPER-SWEET Halloween, friends!
This past weekend, I had a chance to attend my very first Zombie Prom. While the event itself was quite fun (who doesn’t like dancing and people watching with a bunch of undead characters in downtown Salem, MA?), I think the festivities preceding the dance itself were equally as delightful, so I thought I’d share with you some of the creative treats that were included!
With a little pinspiration [x] I decided that I would attempt my very own sugar glass shard cupcakes, with a zombified green twist, and what you see is my not-quite-pleasant (but exactly what I was going for) result! I followed a simple online how-to for making my sugar glass, but added just a little green food coloring in near the end. The whole process was very fire burn and cauldron bubble-y, if you know what I mean.But I wound up quite pleased with the results! As an added touch, before I frosted them, I put some raspberry jam in about half of my cupcakes for the added oozy effect . . .
. . . and they were DELICIOUS!
Some of my friend Romina’s contributions (that likely deserve their own posts, but as I didn’t make them myself, I’ll leave that up to her) included:
These jell0-shots were actually delicious, and were made in STRAWS to achieve the exceedingly nasty look!
Somehow this was simultaneously adorable and gross at the same time – definitely a rare accomplishment, if you ask me.
So, there you have it! Some deliciously icky-l0oking zombie party treats!
Happy Almost-Halloween everyone!