Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Guess what folks - I'm not going to type it because you already know!

WARNING: This is going to be a boring and semi-obnoxious post, but that's alright because IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!

I got a lot of friendly birthday wishes, which was so nice.  Especially since today wasn't really an ideal birthday. I got a couple of early birthday presents in the form of strep and an ear infection.

Nice, I know.

Truth: Being stuck in bed for three straight days blows.  I read Pride & Prejudice and Northanger Abbey then watched more BBC Jane Austen TV mini series than is safe for human consumption.  The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid...or delirious with fever.

I drug myself out of bed today, not because I felt better, but because my first graders had a musical program at school.  I'd left my teaching partner, Miss G, to handle all the insanity at school while I was sick.  Thank God she is brilliant and resourceful.

This morning I entered my classroom to a deskful of cards, treats and a basket full of health products because A: I was sick and B: I am a total germ phobe.  My friends know me too well. I also got vegan brownies and cookies.  Who has awesome friends? ME.

After downing a birthday Monster, Advil and antibiotic, I charged on through the day.  Mr. B came to the rescue when 3 of my firsties' sweatshirts for the musical were MIA.  Turns out they weren't MIA, but HBTCITDR: hidden behind the curtains in the dining room.  Don't ask because honestly, I don't know. 

Anyhoo, after Mr. B returned from the sweatshirt rescue mission, he brought them to school along with Taco Bell and flowers.   He even stuck around to help the kids get ready for their dress rehearsal for the school and even stayed to watch. He loves his vegan sweetie, what can I say?

As a birthday present to me and the last nerve I had left, my class got a long recess and a few minutes to color some dog pictures, which gave me the chance to get into the Advil again.

I didn't go home after school so I got a second visit from Mr. B and Little B; this time toting balloons and Subway.  Excellent. 

When I finally did get home it was almost 8:45.  I had to pick Little B from church since Mr. B had band practice until 10:30.  Yay. 

Did you catch that sarcasm?

So, no, it wasn't my ideal birthday, but it was good day with people I love.  And who could want more than that?

Except maybe tickets to WICKED at the Orpheum in Omaha in May?

Except maybe for all of you to follow my blog!

C'mon! A girl only turns 32 once...or twice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 1: Sweet Dreams

Variety is not the spice of life.

Crystallized ginger is...particularly so when it is in carrot cake. 

Hello, Ginger Walnut Coconut Carrot Cake.

My name is Jennifer B. and I will have you for dessert, breakfast, dessert, and breakfast again. 

I will eat you warm out of the oven, cold from the refridergator and in the middle of the night when I wake from my Ginger Walnut Coconut Carrot Cake dreams.   

I only wish my photography could do you justice. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Up to Scratch

It's my spring break and I feel like doing NOTHING.

Now, you'd think that after 10 days sans post that LAST week was my spring break, but you'd be wrong. 

I've spent the last few days feeling itchy because spring is in the air and somehow, by the grace of God, I've managed to open every window in our house.  This means that I've been literally scratching my nose because spring is literally in the air.  Who wants to cook when you're constantly stopping to wash your hands every ten seconds? Who wants to eat food prepared by a cook with said itchy nose?  No one.  It doesn't matter if the food is vegan and delicious.

So as I hacked through my drug arsenal, searching for some allergy antidote, it came over me that I just wasn't in the mood to cook anyway. This is especially strange, because I haven't had an episode of kitchen block since before our summer vacation last year.  The whole journey from dairy-free to egg-free to vegan has really kept me motivated.

Until this week.

I am feeling unusually uncreative.  I think it is partially because I have been channeling what little creativeness I have left into other areas (two musical productions in the next month).  The kitchen is getting left out.  I even sent Mr. B off to Papa Murphy's yesterday in lieu of cooking. Preheating the oven for dinner took what little energy I had left.

So to combat my culinary drought, I will be cooking from one cookbook all week long. I have chosen Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance.

Every recipe I've tried that this vegan genius has created has been amazing. Therefore, this week I am relying on her to nourish my family because my brain is too overworked from all the nose scratching. 

On a side, but related note, I, ahem...borrowed a camera to take pictures while on break. So each recipe will be photo journaled to the best of my sub-mediocre ability.     

Now I must be off to collect the bounty of ingredients for this week's deluge of vegan cuisine...and a super-size bottle of Claritin, of course.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Tissue Bandit

I got to stay home with Little B today.  I say 'got to' because I love taking care of my baby girl. I could also say 'had to' because my husband had not been into work yet this week.  For those of you who don't know, being a Worship Leader is more than showing up on Sunday morning and looking pretty. 

We are so blessed that his schedule is so flexible.  Me especially, because preparing for a substitute is worse than writing a months worth of lesson plans in Latin while standing on your head reciting the Gettysburg Address.  I think I've had to take two days off for her this year. 

I knew on Wednesday that I would take off today.  Little B was still running a fever.  Thanks to our good friend, Nurse Crazymom (she's not really crazy, it's her blog name :o), who came over with her otoscope, I got to see an infected ear for the first time.  Horrible for Little B, but awesome for me. 

NERD ALERT: I totally want an otoscope for my birthday. I am also totally not kidding.   

We were planning a quiet, relaxing day of puzzles, reading a Whoopi Goldberg children's book (don't ask), watching the Wild Kratts and taking naps. I did not plan on spending half the day picking up tissue.
Meet Bella, The Tissue Bandit.

Five pounds of tissue-loving evilness.

Puffs, Kleenex, whatever you want to call them - were strewn all over my house like an Alaskan white out. 

Little B and I picked up the remnants.  Mr. B blamed me for letting Bella get in Little B's trash can.  I blamed him for letting the dog get into the bathroom trashcan because I had just emptied her trash.  

Mr. B left for work and all was calm...until I noticed a second pile of evidence at the top of the stairs.  Little B was literally ankle deep in destroyed tissue.  I called crime scene clean up (Little B). 

As I crossed the room to yell at my dog (because yelling is the most effective trick with dogs, you know), something at the end of the hallway caught me eye. 

A tissue box.  

Right outside Little B's room I bent over to pick up the box.  Then I saw the damage. The Tissue Bandit had struck again with vengeance.  

The entire floor was covered with destroyed tissue. The bed was littered with whole tissues. The nightstand was a mess.  It finally hit me - my little dog was jumping up on Little B's bed then crossing onto HER NIGHTSTAND to get to the tissue box on the far side.  This also explained how we found a chewed up medicine cup on our bedroom floor.  

I was ready to abandon my veganism for 5 minutes for one last act of animal cruelty.  It was a good thing my friend, Nicole had just worked her amazing grooming magic on Bella.  Otherwise, I'd have gone over to the dark side.  ( I was going to say "eating Kung Pao Maltese, but thought that might be going to far.) 

To bring myself back down, I needed comfort food - and I got it. 

Seitan & Noodles
8 oz. wide Udon noodles
4 c. hot water
4 t. veggie better than bouillon
6 T. Earth Balance Margarine
6 T. Flour
1 T. dried basil
1 t. Spike 
1 t. salt
1 t. paprika
Few grinds of black pepper
8 oz. seitan, cut into bit size pieces

Prepare the noodles according to the directions, drain and set aside.  Dissolve the bouillon in the hot water and reserve.  In an oven-proof pan, melt the Earth Balance.  Add in the flour and spices, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.  Add the bouillon mixture, noodles and seitan; toss.  Bake for 30 minutes in a 350* oven. 

If you don't have an oven-proof pan, you can simply bake it in a greased 9x13. 

This stuff was exactly what I had been craving: warm, comforting, noodlely goodness.  Next time, I might even challenge the carbohydrate gods and serve it with mashed potatoes, too. 

I'm so excited to eat it tomorrow, I've all but forgotten the Tissue Bandit. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Every mama out there knows that there is nothing worse than a sick baby.  And when I say baby I mean five-year-old (aka: Little B).

Yesterday, as we sat watching Charlotte's Web (aka: ridiculous tear-jerker), I reached over to give Little B a squeeze during Charlotte's languishing.  My baby was on fire (aka: ghastly temperature).

As I read the digital numbers of 102* on the thermometer, I morphed into turbo-mom in under 3.5 seconds.  I know I don't look that fast, but trust me, this mama was built for speed in crisis.

I cancelled our fun plans for the afternoon and evening and went to my drug arsenal (aka: the hall closet) for Little B's treatment.  We have lots of random over-the-counter meds  because of Papa (aka: my dad). No, Papa is not some weird druggie, but a retired man of frugality and humility who happens to lack the ability to pass on a freebie.  Way out east, in the strange land of Ohio, there is a drug store on every corner.  Walgreens, CVS, The Medicine Shop, Rite Aid.  You name it, they've got one less than a half mile from where you are standing.  I only wish that were an exaggeration.  Fortunately for my dad, these businesses frequently offer crazy rebates, which result in free product.  He's also an avid coupon collector, so I'd venture to guess that the stores are frequently paying him.  I have a theory about him being a millionaire; he never lets anyone near his sock drawer.

Needless to say, I've got quite a collection of random remedies (aka: stuff I'll never use).  I figured it best to stick to the classic Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen regimen until the fever broke, which wouldn't take long, right?


Little B ran fevers a lot when she was a baby, but they hardly lasted more than 12 hours.  There was one inexplicable five day bout when she was 2, but it's really been smooth sailing outside of that.  This episode is proving to have more tenacity than most.  She's been running this fever for more than 24 hours and it's hovering between 100* and 102* and won't come down.

Mamas don't like things they can't make better. Especially when your baby is just not acting like herself.

Strange: The poor girl has only gotten out of bed to go to the bathroom. 
Stranger: She's been in her bed since 9pm last night.
Strangest: She hasn't asked to play the computer or watch TV.

You'd be a little weirded out, too!

So Mr. B & I been at her bedside trying to keep her company, because that is the only thing she has asked for.  She's taken a couple of naps today and eaten both of her meals in bed.  And no, I can't do too much outside of love, hugs and Advil, but I can make her the comfort food she loves...

Macaroni & Cheese
2 cups pasta (any macaroni-friendly pasta will do)
1 T. olive oil
1 T. flour
1 c. almond milk (unsweetened/unflavored)
8 oz. Daiya Cheddar Shreds
4 oz. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese           
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper
1/4 t. paprika
1/8 t. turmeric for color (optional)

Cook your macaroni as directed. While the water is boiling and pasta is cooking, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and flour to make a rue.  Mix constantly until thickened but not browned, which takes about 2 minutes.  Add the milk and stir constantly again, about 3 minutes. Add in the cheeses, seasonings and stir until cheese is melted.  Drain your pasta and then combine both pans into one.  Stir over low heat until all the pasta is generously covered is ooey, gooey cheese. 

You could probably use this cheesy sauce for lots of things, but it does make fantastic mac.  Little B gobbled it up and asked for least her appetite it still good.

Hopefully, she'll knock this fever out soon and get back to her wild self (aka-normal) so I can get back to my normal self (aka: non-turbo).  But hearing the coughs I do doesn't look or sound so good.

aka: CRAP

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Conference Chaos

My last blog was chock full of whining and complaining about the perils of parent-teacher conferences. Unless you work in a school, you have no idea what crazy things they do to teachers.  They are all consuming like a grease fire in a donut shop. 


Conferences affect every aspect of our lives. Take, for instance, the fact that I haven't put my clean clothes away for two weeks. Laundry plummets on the list of to-dos.  I'm a working girl, people, and I teach first grade.  You don't arrive home at the end of the work day clean as a whistle or smelling like a peach.  We do a lot of laundry around here.  Our spare bedroom looks like a scene from Hoarders. Now, I'm not a tall girl, but this pile and I are seeing eye-to-eye.  And I'm fairly sure the pile really does have eyes.  The dog won't even go in there anymore.  Thank goodness there is a door.  May it always remain closed.       

Speaking of what's behind closed doors, I'm reading Twilight.


I need some way to wind down after a twelve hour day. In stressful situations, I reread - it's just one of the things I turn to.  When Mr. B had to be taken to the emergency room a few years ago, I took a Harry Potter with me.  There's just something super comforting to me about a book I've already read - very much like an old friend.  I'm not sure I'm a Twi-hard  like most tweens, but I do have nearly enough pimples to rationalize owning a copy.  Your average junior high kid is taller than me and my pile, anyway.  Don't even ask me how many times I've read Twilight, or Harry Potter for that matter.  You'd probably stop reading this blog and sever ties completely. How do you spell nerd again? Oh, that's right... J-E-N-N-I-F-E-R.

Besides staying up way later than necessary to read a sci-fi book for middles schoolers, I also tend to begin tasks that take more time than I have available.  Yesterday was a friend/colleague's birthday and I wanted to make cupcakes.  Yes, it was late. Yes, I should have just gone to bed.  But what anxiety is there in that?   

Frosted Pineapple Ladies

1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. Ener-G Egg Replacer (or 1 T. ground flax meal)
2 T. water
1 t. vanilla
1 c. crushed pineapple

Mix flour, sugar, and baking soda together in a bowl.  In a small dish, whisk together the egg replacer (or flax) with the 2 T. of water.  Add the pineapple, vanilla and egg mixture to the bowl.  Stir until well-mixed. 

Pour into a lined cupcake tin.  Fill fairly full - these cupcakes don't rise too much.  Bake at 350* for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

You can also make a cake in an 8x8.  Just make sure to spray the dish or line the bottom with wax paper.  These little ladies are STICKY. Bake for around 40 minutes.   

Pineapple Frosting
Beat together:
2 T. Earth Balance (vegetable margarine)
2 T. shortening
1 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. vegan cream cheese

When I say beat it together - let your mixer run til it smokes.  Once the ingredients are well incorporated, add 2 T. of drained, crushed pineapple. 

Ice cupcakes after they have cooled completely, then refrigerate.   

Mr. B didn't think these were all that spectacular, but I got much better reviews when I took some to school.  The birthday girl loved them. 

BONUS: I had readily available vegan treats to stress-eat before, during, and after the parents started rolling in.  

So who needs Xanax? Not me! I've got clean clothes, cupcakes and Edward Cullen.

Happy conferencing!