Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thanks UPS-- Just kidding

So what happens when you order envelopes from a company that won't let you ship to your work and you have to ship to your house? Well, you assume that UPS will leave one of those sticky notes on your door that they usually leave telling you that they tried to deliver your package, but that you weren't home. Then you can go pick up the package later that evening. That's what usually happens, right?

Try again. They'll deliver your package to your stoop in the middle of Baltimore despite the fact that no one is home. And then this is what happens...

Your package gets stolen. And if you're lucky enough, the thief will return it, resealed with duct tape, after he realizes that the box only contained a bunch of envelopes.

Even Finn (see left of photo) thinks that's a pretty bad cover up wrapping job. Thanks UPS. Thanks. And thank you thief for being at least somewhat honest and returning my envelopes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I love some good fall baking, so I decided to dust off one of my favorite recipes. I am a huge fan of cake, so naturally I love whoopie pies. Chocolate-y cake goodness with frosting in between. There isn't much that can be better than that-- expect for Whoompkins. Think fall, think pumpkin, think whoopie pie, and you have a Whoompkin. Instead of the chocolate cake cookie, these are pumpkin and spice with a rich cream cheese and butter frosting. A recipe I learned back in my high school days while baking at my hometown's coffeehouse, I grew to love fall baking there for this recipe only (well, maybe because I also love to bake!). Anyway, I sure hope you enjoy them just as much as I do!

Beat together:
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

4 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger

After incorporated fully, add:
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup of half and half

After the batter has been completely mixed, scoop out batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet with a small ice cream scoop or with a quarter measuring cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Make sure to make an even number of cookies for when you assemble them!

While the cookies are cooling on a baking rack, make the frosting.

You'll need:
2 8oz packs of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla
half and half
powdered sugar

First, cream the butter and cream cheese together to a smooth consistency. Add about a cup of powdered sugar, the vanilla, and about a Tablespoon of half and half to create smooth consistency. Keep adding powdered sugar until frosting is nice and think and peaks when you lift out the beater.

Taking two cookies, put a good glob of frosting on the underside of one and close the sandwich with the other. For me, the recipe yields about 9 whoompkins, but I like to make mine extra big to indulge! If you want smaller whoompkins, just make smaller cookies!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Football Season Means Heart Attacks

Fall means football season. Without my Steelers I wouldn't quite know what to do with myself on Sundays. My dad's family is from the Pittsburgh area, so growing up we always watched the Steelers. I remember enjoying a good Sunday football game just as much as when I was a kid as I do today.

I'm not really sure why I like putting myself through the agony of being a Steelers fan. It usually involves heart attacks. People often tell me "It must be real agony to have won six Super Bowls." But that's just the point. Sure, we've won six of them, but the horrible seasons and games between are enough to make me squirm! Take this weekend for example. A complete self-destruction. I knew within the first two minutes of the game that we'd lost. Such losses usually include unexplainable and absurd number of turnovers that make it appear as though Big Ben were passing on purpose to the other team, stupid penalties, MVP receivers dropping balls left and right, defensive players standing there instead of making sacks, and a general doofus look on all of the players faces. And just when you think the game can't get any worse and a team couldn't self-destruct more than they already have, they find a way to do just that.

And there are rivalries too. The oldest Steelers rival of all is the Browns. Lucky for me, Andrew is from Cleveland. I have to put up with hearing about the stupid Browns all season. During football sesason, most people ask us how we even happened to end up together considering our team affiliations.  And the first question my dad asked him the first time they met was if he was a Browns fan. The first time my extended family met him, they really let him have it. Yet somehow he stuck around.

at Heinz Field
Getting ready for a showdown at Browns Stadium

Football is fun for many reasons-- the competition, the food, the beer, the friends. But most of all it's fun because of this:

via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Yes. Nothing is better than watching a Browns quarterback getting sacked.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Trees Aside, Race Cars are Pretty Awesome.

The Baltimore Grand Prix has come to town. As I had mentioned on Saturday, some aspects of the race event left me incredibly upset-- particularly the part where Baltimore City officials gave permission to cut down nearly 130 mature trees from out downtown harbor area without going through the proper procedures and letting residents know. Those trees are now going to be replaced with young little things planted in large pot planters that I guarantee you will be destroyed or pushed over by hoodlums. I only like the word hoodlums, but I promise I'm not one of those ratchety old people that's all anti young people of the city.

After my anger of the tree situation subsided, we decided to walk down to the harbor yesterday to check it all out. Growing up in Indiana, I've seen many an Indy 500 or Nascar race on tv, but had never been to an actual race. While we didn't have tickets, we were able to find a few spots with pretty excellent views.

A shot of our transformed downtown.

I'd love to have a Porsche, just one without racing paint.

The obligatory Danica Patrick shot.

And the Indy car race winner, Will Power.

And if that's not enough race overload for you, I'll leave you with a quick video clip of our spot by the track. The engines are quite loud and intense, yet pretty amazing.

Have I converted anyone into a race fan yet? ;) Hope everyone is enjoying a long holiday weekend as well!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Few Things...

I am noticeably more busy these days. I say noticeably because my posts are becoming more few and far between than they had been a month ago. After a delayed start of school this week due to power outages caused by Hurricane Irene, we're finally back in full swing as school started Wednesday. Since I've missed my punch list the last two Wednesday due to back to school events, I thought I'd stop by to share a few thing on this Saturday afternoon that I've been super excited about recently.

We've been making an effort to put to use the few vases we have. On a weekend trip to the grocery or farmer's market, we've made the point to pick up a small bouquet of flowers. Having the bright flowers certainly add some color and fun to the house.

The few days after the hurricane brought very temperate weather and lots of sun. With highs in the 70s last week, we were able to enjoy having all of the windows in the house wide open with lots of fresh breeze through the house. We weren't the only ones that enjoyed it-- Lilah loves sitting by the front window especially when it's open and smelling all of those smells she picks up with her nose.

Three days into the school year I can already say I am so excited to be teaching Social Studies again. Day three of teaching and I showed my students some photos of the Anasazi cliff dwellings in New Mexico at Bandelier National Monument. Some of them were legitimately excited about it just because I was excited to tell them about my own experience there. And teaching a skill like main idea didn't seem so dull to me considering I had the Social Studies aspect there. Thank goodness!

I've been working on becoming a morning person. How? By getting up at 6am and arriving at school by 7:45 instead of 8:45, the latest time I am allowed to arrive as the school day starts at 9. Three days in a row I've made it by 7:45. I'm quite proud of myself. The new schedule-- wake up at 6am and do yoga for half an hour (which also entails lots of love and morning greetings from Finn while doing yoga and can be a bit tricky). Coffee and breakfast for about 20 minutes and then off too the shower to get ready and out the door by 7:35. I have to admit, the yoga helps me wake up and by the time I get to school I feel ready to start the day instead of feeling overly groggy.

Weekend plans? Head to my aunt and uncle's place tonight for dinner. Tomorrow, walk down to the Inner Harbor to see if we can spot some car racing action. The Grand Prix has made its way to Baltimore this weekend and while I have some major qualms with the whole thing (and we're talking MAJOR as in who has the right to cut down 130 full grown trees from our downtown without resident permission?!) I still get back to my Indiana roots and wouldn't mind seeing, and hearing for that matter, a few Indy cars.

Hope you're all enjoying a long holiday weekend and that you all have plenty of opportunity for relaxation!

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