May 28, 2010

School's out...let summer begin!

School's out for the summer!!!  HALLELULJAH!!!!!  It's been one looooooong year and I'm so ready for the summer.  Don't get me wrong, it's been a good year, but in my 9 years of teaching, the month of May has never been this difficult in terms of the girls seeming to think that school was out in April.  I'm tired, worn out and just ready to be away from it all for awhile.  My month of June is completely filled with school things, but it's ok.  I'm a trainer for the district on our new scope and sequence document, so I have to offer trainings throughout the summer.  I also have a leadership conference with the district to go to in the middle of June.  I try my hardest to not schedule anything in July so I'm completely free, but I actually have to do one training at the beginning.  Spencer's birthday is at the end of June, so I've tried to stay on top of that so it wouldn't all come crashing down on me the last week of June.  I think I've gotten it under control...I hope...
Here's the number one thing I will not miss being away from school...

I have to start my To Do list for the summer and I'm thinking that if I post it here, I will be more apt to finish everything because I'm "putting it out there" for the world to see! HA!  So here we go...

Clean out and organize the computer room closet - This means nothing to you, but the closet in our computer room is FULL of mainly my stuff.  Stuff like all my scrapbooking things, all my wrapping stuff, picture frames that need pictures put in them, storage boxes that should have things organized in them and yada, yada, get my point.

Too bad you can't see the right side of it...

Print & hang pictures in the living room - refer to #1 on all those picture frames that need to be filled with pictures.  Well, about 3 years ago, Rick and I decided that we were going to make a wall of photos and started buying picture frames whenever we would see them on sale (Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Target, Wal Mart, etc.).  Well, those 20-30 frames have been collecting dust in the top of that dreaded closet for 3 years now.  I think it's just hard to find a place to start with all of that and trying to decide what pictures to use is a whole other ballgame.  We want it to look sort of like a collage kind of like this:

We have more of a variety of sizes in frames and I think these are a tad bit too close together, but you get the point.

Get my invitation/announcement/card design business up and running - I have most of the software to start, but I need to get a blog up and a facebook business page.  I can give more details on this one when I get it going.  But, start thinking ahead on things you might need and I'd love to have your business!

Lose those pesky 8 pounds - 8 pounds...just hangs over my head.  I just need to lose 8 pounds to be back to the weight I was before getting pregnant.  It's easier in the summer for me because I tend to workout/run more because I'm not drop dead exhausted when I walk in the door like I am after school every day. 

Get the front yard fully planted with flowers and monkey grass - This will be an easy one for me (and Rick) because we love working out in the yard.  This is one thing that needs to get done pretty quick though.

Begin tagging clothes for Cradles2Crayons consignment sale - This is something I wanted to do in the spring, but just didn't do it.  Some friends of ours did it and she made close to $600 on girls clothes and supposedly, boys clothes sell a lot better because there is so few of them.  You can also sell toys (thank goodness!).  I'm hoping to make close to $1000.  That might be a lofty goal, but with 2 years worth of stuff, I think I can do it.

Make this jewelry organizer - I have so many necklaces and bracelets that I currently keep on a plastic hanger.  Lovely, huh?  I want to make this and hang it in our closet.  I got the idea from Frugal Home Designs  We'll see how crafty I really am.

And last but not least...

Summer reading- I am not a reader by any means, never have been.  Our girls at school have summer reading they are required to do over the summer.  Last year I read two of the three books and absolutely LOVED them.  Well, here's my summer reading that I want to tackle.  The third book is a book our counselor recommended us (teachers) to read, especially those of us that have small children.

Ok, this is the longest post ever and thank you for reading it.  HA! 

YAY!!!!  It's summer!!!!!!!!

May 26, 2010

Random at Best

A lot of random things ahead...

Why is it that we get the funniest/craziest pictures of Spencer when food is involved??  I hope our love of cooking/baking rubs off on Spencer and he can get this excited when he's really involved in the cooking process.  For now, we'll take mealtime adventures with Spencer.  They are adventures that we will never take for granted and treasure every second of!

Sunglasses, pancakes, juice, and PJs ...killer combination!

Olives anyone?

I'm putting this on here by special request from my sweet friend, Kim.  I found this super cute, cheap and easy way to make fun dry erase boards.  I saw this on Little Bit Funky and I can't wait to make them.  I want to make them on a quite larger scale for my classroom next year to write their daily warm-ups on.  Click the link to see everything in more detail, but here are some pictures:

I was happy with the Biggest Loser finale last night.  Daris has always been my number one choice, but if he didn't win, I wanted Michael.  So sorry for Koli that didn't get voted into the final 3 because if he would've, he would have won.  Him and Sam were a little bit over the top for me last night.  And did you see Sherry???  OMG that lady was skin and bones.  So was O'Neal!!  Love, love that show and can't wait for the fall for the new cast!

Dancing With the Stars was also good last night.  Nicole should have won and she did.  Anyone that can get two 10's the second week will surely prove to be the best.  Kate is awful and should never be allowed to touch a dance floor again.  I'm pretty sure Buzz could out dance her.

May 25, 2010


I promise I'm going to slow down with the recipes after this one, but GOOD HEAVENS this is the BEST recipe I have EVER made for dinner.  I am not exaggerating one little bit.  I could eat this for breakfast it's so good!  What I like about it is that it is super easy, healthy and carb conscious (we eat low carb).  I got this recipe from another favorite food blog, Chocolate Broccoli .  I could go on and on about this one, it is pure greatness and I hope you will try it.


8 poblano peppers
1 cup (cooked) brown rice
1 (15oz) can whole kernel corn
1/2 cup red onion, chopped (I used about 3/4 of a red onion)
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup reduced fat fiesta blend cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 green onions, chopped (I used probably triple this)
1-2 teaspoon chili pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat broiler to HI.

For peppers: Place peppers on rimmed baking sheets and place into oven, allowing peppers to char on each side, 10 minutes each. Remove from oven and place on wide container with a lid. When peppers are cool enough to handle, gently remove skin. cut a slit down one side and remove seeds, careful not to tear the pepper or remove the pepper stem. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For filling: In a pre-heated medium-size skillet, cook mix together red onion and garlic, add zucchini, corn and tomatoes. Mix in the cooked rice. In the mean time, drain the beans and press or squish with your palms before adding to the rice mixture (some beans will remain whole, but most should be squished). Add cumin, chili pepper, mix well. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cheese. Line a baking dish with foil and set peppers in dish. Fill with rice mixture until full, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup filled, depending on the size of your peppers. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese and green onion over the top. Turn on broiler for last minute or two to brown the cheese a bit. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Happy Tuesday!!

May 24, 2010

Root Beer Cookies

Sounds a little strange doesn't it?  I thought so too, but Rick LOVES root beer, so I thought it was worth a shot.  And...they were great!  I got this recipe from another great blog that I have listed on the right, Make and Takes . 

*Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar (I used light/golden brown because I'm not a fan of dark brown sugar)
2 eggs
2 tsp. root beer extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water (optional–only use if dough is too dry)

Cream butter and dark brown sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the root beer extract. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add a little at a time to the creamed mixture. The dough should be slightly sticky.  Chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease several baking sheets, or line them with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Roll into small balls (about 1″ diameter).  Place them on the pan, leaving a bit of space between the cookies. Gently press the tops of the dough. (If you leave out the water, sometimes the cookies don’t spread very much.) Bake for 6-8 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through.  Let cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

*NOTE: They will look like they aren't cooked after the 8 minutes, but trust me they are.  They are supposed to be chewy cookies.

Frosting Recipe:
1 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. root beer extract
a few tablespoons hot water

Beat butter on high with an electric mixer until it is fluffy. Add a little powdered sugar and the root beer extract. Beat until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar alternately with a little hot water until a nice spreading consistency has been reached.  Frost the cooled cookies and let stand for a few minutes to let the frosting set up. (It should dry a bit on the top.)

Again, let me know if you try these and what you think.  I'm always eager to see what other people think about recipes that I think are good.

May 22, 2010

When I grow up...

When I grow up, I want to be a...

Whatever you do sweet pea, I know you will be great at it!

May 19, 2010

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Yes, another recipe that is OUTSTANDING!!  I've found so many good ones throughout the recipe blogs that I follow.  You should check some of them out.  They are on the right hand side of this page under "I love crafts & recipes".  When I find new blogs, I add them there.

This recipe calls for mushrooms and I CANNOT stand mushrooms, but Rick LOVES them.  With my hatred for mushrooms, this recipe was soooo surprisingly good and a great hit at the Swindell household.  I got this one from From Our Kitchen To Yours .

1/4 cup butter
4 chicken breasts (it calls for bone-in, but I used boneless)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, divided
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 can cream of mushroom soup
sliced baby portobello mushrooms (I used the large portobello mushroom caps)
fresh, chopped thyme (I used fresh, but you can use dried thyme seasoning)
seasoning for chicken (any chicken seasoning, but I used Emeril's chicken rub which is excellent)

1. Preheat oven to 425. Melt butter in the oven in a lightly greased 13x9 dish. (about 3 minutes)
2. Meanwhile, dip chicken in 1/2 cup buttermilk, sprinkle with seasonings, and dredge in flour.
3. Remove dish from oven and add mushrooms and thyme. Arrange chicken in baking dish.
4. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes. Turn chicken and bake for 10 minutes.
5. Stir together soup and remaining 1 cup buttermilk. Pour over chicken and bake for 10 more minutes - put some foil lightly on top to prevent the chicken from browning too much.
6. Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Whisk soup mixture in baking dish until blended. Drizzle over chicken, or if you have certain family members who are not as into sauces as you are, leave in the dish so that you can spoon your own sauce onto your meat.

Just a future warning...I've found a lot of new recipes and will be trying them out.  If they're good, I'll post them here.  If you try any of these recipes, comment and let me know how you liked them!

May 17, 2010

Butterfinger Cake

OMG!!!!!  This is some of the best cake you will ever put in your mouth.  It is also SOOOOO easy it's not even funny!  I got this recipe from one of my favorite food/recipe blogs, Kelly's Recipes.  It was pure sugar overload a few hours after it came out of the oven, but the next day, it was even better (the flavors seemed to mesh together better).  I took it to school and all my peeps up there loved it and some wanted the recipe, so here it is:

Yellow cake mix
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar caramel topping
3-4 Butterfinger candy bars
Cool Whip (I made real whipping cream because I'm the only one that likes Cool Whip in my house)

Bake the cake mix according to the package. While hot - poke holes all over it (the more holes, the better). Mix together the sweet milk and caramel and pour over cake. Crush up the butterfingers and spread on top. Allow to cool and refrigerate. Once completely cool - top with cool whip.

No sweets are safe around teachers in the last 2 weeks of school!

May 16, 2010

R-I-C-E and O-U-T-S-I-D-E

Rice and outside are some of the many words we have to spell around Spencer.  How is it possible that we have to spell so many things around our sweet boy that's not even 2 yet??  Here's a sprinkling of what we have to spell out these days:

Rice - favorite food and if he even sees it, he goes NUTS
Outside - Spencer's favorite place to be no matter what
Go - that's pretty self explanatory
Blankie - Spencer loves his blankie and sometimes needs to do without it (like when it's muddy outside)
Paci - we're turning a corner with "weaning" Spencer off of the paci; again, he needs to learn to do without it sometimes
Room - Oh, his room...he's not fond of playing in his room by himself, but INSISTS on Rick & I going in there with him

I took this picture of Spencer when we were playing outside yesterday and it makes me so sad.  He looks so grown up in this picture.  :o(

2 more weeks until school is out!!!  HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!  I hope you all have a great week!

May 14, 2010

The Swindells love kitchen gadgets!

Rick & I are suckers for kitchen gadgets, some turn out to be good, some do not.  We laugh at each other when the other one buys something off the wall.  However, this gadget is nothing to be laughed at unless you're laughing because you are so happy you just cored 30 jalapenos in about 5-10 joke.  Rick makes the best bacon wrapped jalapenos and a corer is a must.  He used to do it with a knife.  It was soooooo time consuming.  Well, meet Mr. Pepper Corer from Williams-Sonoma.  Rick and I could literally spend hours in Williams-SonomaWe Our bank account should be thankful there is not one here. :o)

This is the greatest thing ever!  I can even use it (which is a miracle when it comes to crazy, sharp tools like this).  So, if you're in the market for something that makes your coring easier, you MUST have this!!

I have recently turned into a pretty good blog stalker.  You see the words stalker and it sounds so negative.  Not so much, I've happened upon so many interesting people and it's so neat to see how other people are living and how they blog.  I've also turned my blogging into a crazy habit.  I can't wait to post and have to refrain myself so I don't over kill the small amount of people that actually read this.  (maybe there's more than I think...let's hope so!)

We have some of Rick's famous margaritas on the menu for the weekend.  Cannot wait for that greatness!!  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

May 13, 2010

Blackberry pics

I'm bad about taking pics with my phone and doing nothing with them.  Here's some from lately...

May 10, 2010

Great weekend!!

Lots to report from the weekend.  (Sorry for the over kill of posting from this past week, but hey, there was a lot to post!!)  For the most part, I will usually have the joy of having my birthday and Mother's Day close together.  I was actually born on Mother's Day.  Birthday on Saturday and Mother's Day on Sunday this year!!  Saturday, Spencer and I went to the March of Dimes for Babies walk at Mackenzie Park.  I was a little apprehensive on how Spencer would do for 4 miles, but he didn't make a sound.  He was too busy watching everything going on around him.

4 miles!

I had a great afternoon/evening for my birthday!  We just hung out at the house, Rick made fajitas, drank Coronas and just had a great time.  Rick did so much to make sure my birthday was special which I am always forever grateful.  He even made my favorite dessert...boxed brownies and ice cream!  Now for the kicker...what husband buys his wife two pairs of Yellow Box sandals (yes, I said 2 pairs) and they were exactly what I would've picked out!  THENNNNNN...I got Photoshop!!!  I know that sounds odd to get for a present, but I wanted that so bad so I could begin my invitation business (more info on that later on down the road).  Oh & guess where I'm going Thursday??  To get a pedicure!  Got a gift certificate for that!!  My sweet Dad & Dana gave Rick and I a year pass to the Science Spectrum.  Wowsers!!!  Good grief we'll get so much use out of that for Spencer!  I loved my sweet phone calls and texts from Jean, Terry, Stephen & Emily.  Those always mean so much to me!  Well, it was such a sweet birthday and enough about all my fantabulous gifts!!

On Mother's Day, went to eat breakfast at our favorite place in the world, Cracker Barrel.  We always have a great time there. 

Love me some jelly!

We spent the rest of the day relaxing and taking it easy.  I got some sweet pictures from the late afternoon/early evening in the backyard.  Spencer was ADAMANT that Zach get into his house with him and of course, Zach pretty much does everything Spencer says and there he went.  They hung out in there for awhile (or as long as Zach could stand being in the upright fetal position).  Spencer always has to listen to Zach's iPod with him and jams out as much as possible.  The times Spencer has with Zach are so precious.

My favorite by far!  They are both so focused on something apparently very important!

I hope all of you mothers out there had a wonderful Mother's Day! 

May 7, 2010

Orange Brownies

Orange brownies are definitely a favorite in our house.  I love making them and we love eating them.  I make them a lot for special occasions and this week was sure a special occasion, Teacher Appreciation Week!!  I made a batch for all of Spencer's teachers.  I got the recipe from Paula Deen awhile back (love me some Paula Deen).  They are super easy to make & some of the best things you'll ever eat!  Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract (I use almost a WHOLE bottle of orange extract - no lie!)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest  (zest of one orange)

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (zest of one orange)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan and set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest and beat with a handheld electric mixer until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven and pierce top of entire cake with a fork.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Pour glaze over cake. Cool cake and cut into squares.

I made "brownie toppers" to go on them and I think they turned out pretty cute!

What made the experience all that more sweet was my precious little helper in the kitchen!  I think the batter was his favorite part (and what caused him to not go to bed until 10:30).  Spencer sat in his chair the entire time I was mixing and "helped" mommy!  He wasn't fond of the hand-held mixer, but sure did like to stir. 

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