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November 30, 2011

rice, rice, everywhere...

This year, I've reinstated my monthly Friday, er, I mean Tuesday Happenings. Since I don't teach on Fridays anymore (haven't in 6 years), I had to change them to a day I do work, hence the Tuesday. Each month, I assign a material. For example, last month it was aluminum foil, and this month it's rice. The kids get to be as creative as they can, and come up with a project using that material. They can use other materials as well, but the highlighted material must be the most obvious. Along with the project, they have to write a 2 minute story that they present to the class about their project.

Now, in the past, I've had some pretty awesome projects, but this year, I am floored by the creativity, and the support these kids get at home. I look forward to their projects and the nervous excitement they get when it's their turn to present!

November 27, 2011

lights, lights...i see the lights....

oooooooooooo, I can't keep my excitement in. This weekend, we pulled out the bins and decorated for Christmas. The outside, at least. The tree is up inside, but not fully decorated yet. I still have yet to pull out my Dept 56 Christmas Village, and some other odds and ends, but I'm sooo excited about the lights! I still can't explain what it is about Christmas lights that make me so giddy...

pumpkin spiced cheesecake loaf...

The day before Thanksgiving was my mom's first night in her new home. I am so thrilled that she now lived minutes from me (and I literally mean minutes...like 2). Knowing she had lots of unpacking to do, I thought I'd make her a pumpkin cheesecake loaf and deliver it with some freshly brewed coffee.

So I really got the idea of the pumpkin cheesecake loaf from my favorite coffee shop, Peet's Coffee & Tea. It seems like that is my go to pastry...except I started thinking about the fact that I pay $2.25 for a 1 inch slice of that delicious yumminess. That, along with my $4 medium nonfat vanilla latte with light foam is getting a little pricey every time I go in. So, the wheels started turning, and I figured out how easy it is to make this delight.

Of course, I wanted to share it with you, too!!!

Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake Loaf

Ingredients (loaf):
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Ingredients (Cheesecake filling):

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Place eggs, sugar, honey, and oil in a mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium for 5 minutes.
  • Add pumpkin puree.
  • Slowly add dry ingredients until combined.
  • Pour the mixture into a well greased loaf pan (I like to use Pam with Butter and Flour for Baking).
  • Clean mixing bowl to make the cream cheese filling.
  • Add the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  • Add egg until combined. This may take a few minutes.
  • Pour the cream cheese filling into the loaf pan on top of the pumpkin batter. With a spoon, gently move the cream cheese filling around the pumpkin batter. Do not mix too much.
  • Place in oven and bake for about about 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it's done. You may need to bake longer if there is batter still on the toothpick.

Once done, let it cool before serving. Enjoy with coffee, tea, or in my case a nonfat vanilla latte with light foam!

nutella sticky buns with vanilla bourbon glaze...

With the holidays in full swing, the baking bug is hitting me hard. I found this awesome site (foodgawker.com), and similar to Pinterest, it is so motivating. There are so many yummy, creative food ideas, and I love that most have recipe links. I came across a sticky bun recipe, but it was more of a citrus-y one. It sounded so yummy, I started working on the recipe, but realized I was missing half the ingredients, so I changed it up a bit and came up with this!

Unbaked sections in the pan.

Baked, but not glazed buns.

So, here's the recipe:

Nutella Sticky Buns with Vanilla Bourbon Glaze

Bun dough:
  • 1-3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 4-3/4 cups AP flour
  • 3 tsps salt
  • 1/2 cup EV olive oil


  • 1 cup Nutella (you can use more if you want)
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  • 2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 2 TB milk
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla bourbon extract (plain vanilla extract is fine)

  • In a mixer with a dough hook attachment, add warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast in foamy.
  • On low setting, add salt, and 1 cup of flour at a time until incorporated.
  • Add olive oil, slowly drizzling over dough while mixing.
  • Turn mixer to medium and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is nice and glossy.
  • Put dough in a large bowl that has been oiled, cover with plastic wrap, a warm towel, and let it sit for an hour to an hour and a half. (Dough will double in size).
  • Once dough has doubled, flour a board really well, and dump dough onto the board.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll out into a rectangular shape.
  • Spread Nutella over the dough, then sprinkle sugar over all the dough.
  • Roll tightly, the shorter way, so you have a longer roll.
  • Cut 2 inch sections
  • Using a large deep pan (like a 9x12 Pyrex dish, or a 9 inch round cake pan), grease the bottom of the pan and sides (I used Pam spray, but you can use anything really).
  • Place sections, cross section up, in the pans next to each other.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit about 45 minutes to let it rise again.

Baking & Glazing

  • Heat oven to 35o degrees.
  • Remove plastic cover and place in oven 35-40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
  • Once the dough is fully cooked, start making the glaze.
  • In a small bowl, add confectioner's sugar, milk, and vanilla bourbon extract. Stir until smooth.
  • Drizzle over dough, and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Serve warm with coffee or espresso. Enjoy!

November 15, 2011


I'm going to start right off the bat by saying how I totally can't take credit for this super adorable craft. Nope, I found it on a blog called Anything But Perfect. This lady designed the tag for someone who wanted a reward for their AR readers. Seeing as *I* have AR readers, I had to use this idea. This lady is even awesome enough to have free downloadables, so I didn't need to waste my evening re-creating it!

If you'd like your own, here's the link:

She's got a bunch of other super cute downloadables, and even creates a monthly calendar (AMEN). It's making my life soooo much easier!


The latest craze in social media seems to be the announcement of all the things people are thankful for. I guess it is that time of year. I had my 4th graders do this *I am thankful for* project. I thought it turned out pretty cute. Most of the responses are pretty basic, but I still love my that students took the time to decorate their feathers. (Okay, so I assigned it for homework and they HAD to bring them back). :)

Anyway, here's a brief list of things that I am thankful for (yup, I'm jumping on the bandwagon):
-my family (duh, right?)
-my so-called health
-my keurig
-that i have a place of my own to come home to every day
-that i can still enjoy a few minutes of peace
-that i can laugh at myself
-for my tastebuds
-for my ability to replicate cool projects
-for my daughter's beautiful voice
-for my son's ability to figure out math problems in a way i could never dream of

November 1, 2011

magic pumpkin seeds...

magic pumpkin seeds have become a tradition in our family. these tiny *seeds* in a mesh pouch magically appear one day by the pumpkin fairy, and when the kids put them out, they turn into mini pumpkins in just a few hours. it's such a treat for them, and a treat for me to watch.

hallows decor...

There is just something about lights that make me giddy. Add the holidays to that mix, and that could seriously put me over the edge. This is absolutely my favorite time of year...between Halloween and Christmas. I'm telling ya...those darn twinkly lights get me all the time.