Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Valentine - and an early Birthday Surprise!

I decided I wanted to start collecting the Disney movies a few months ago. Last week, Scotty have me the hint that my Valentines gift would hint at what my birthday gift would be, involving a trip to Houston. When we got home from work I found chocolate and he surprised me with this: 

It turns out we are going to see the Houston Ballet, The Magical Fairytale, The Sleeping Beauty! 

Dancers: Ian Casady and Sara Webb. Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty. Choreographer: Ben Stevenson. Photo: Pam Francis
Boy am I excited! Here's an excerpt from the website:
Music by Peter I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Choreography by Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., after Marius Petipa
Scenic and Costume Designs by Desmond Heeley
Lighting by Duane Schuler
A flagship work for Houston Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty is recognized as one of the supreme achievements of classical ballet. The ballet is based on the classic French fairytale by Charles Perrault: a beautiful princess is cursed by an evil fairy, and doomed to sleep for a hundred years -- only to be awakened by the kiss of the handsome prince who loves her. Desmond Heeley's spectacular designs beautifully evoke the magic, drama and whimsy of this great work.

And more pictures too!

Dancers: Simon Ball, Mireille Hassenboehler and Artists of Houston Ballet. Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty. Choreographer: Ben Stevenson. Photo: Jim Caldwell
Dancer: Kelly Myernick. Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty. Choreographer: Ben Stevenson. Photo: Pam Francis.
So I'm REALLY excited about this.... and I'm thinking it might be one of the best gifts ever. And I haven't even got it yet. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Zucchini Bread - "Z-Bread"

For Valentines Day I made my hubby his favorite treat, Zucchini Bread: 


I didn't get a picture of the zucchini all shredded up. I used my kitchen scissors to just cut the strips up I cut with the vegetable peeler.

Dry and wet ingredients...
I stirred in the zucchini by hand, then poured them into the loaf pans... and forgot to take a picture until after they were in the oven...

I doubled the recipe, to have enough to take to work.
An hour later...

Too bad you can't smell them. The cinnamon is wonderful.
Enjoy! This recipe freezes well too. So you can do what I did and make a double batch to save some for later!

I took one of the loaves to work, and had to convince a few people to try a piece. Apparently having zucchini in the name isn't appealing. They said I should rename it to Z-Bread. After they tried it, they weren't convinced it had any zucchini in it. But it did. Scotty says you have to call it Zucchini Bread, because then there will be more left for you ;)

Here's the recipe:
Zucchini Bread - makes 2 loaves

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups shredded raw zucchini
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I like walnuts)
  • 2 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Put zucchini in strainer and press or squeeze with hands to get excess liquid out. Beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla together, set aside. In another bowl mix flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt and nuts. Combine together flour mixture to sugar mixture, mixing by hand. Add zucchini (minus liquid). Beat mixture. Pour into 2 prepared loaf pans.
Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Recipe may be doubled. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tea Box

  Also in the Methods and Materials class, we learned how to use all the shop tools. For this project, we had to design a box that held a specific thing. I chose to make a "Tea Box". In the top box, it holds three rows of tea bags. This top part lifts out and reveals a "hidden" compartment with slots for tea spoons. I love boxes that have secret compartments, so this was my attempt at making one.

Tea Box - Fall 2009

I am VERY lucky to have an uncle who owns a business making mountain dulcimers. He graciously opened up his workshop to me, and allowed me to come out and work on my project outside of class. He taught me some neat things too, which I incorporated into my box design. I learned a few tricks to finishing the box, and learned that sanding it until you think it's done, then sanding it about 10 times longer - makes ALL the difference.

Iron Gate

I was in a Methods and Materials class at Sam, where we learned how to weld and work with metal. I was VERY intimidated at first, and nervous about operating such scary equipment. But thanks to my awesome note taking skills, everyone came to me when they had questions about operation. So I learned well how to use the machines by repetitive teaching. We had to make a metal piece that was useful and functional. I decided to make a gate for my Grandma's yard, and it is the BEST place for it!

Iron Gate - Fall 2009

Lollipop Girl

This drawing is BIG (32"x40" if I remember correctly, maybe bigger) In an advanced drawing class at Sam, we had to do three drawings for three different themes. Beautiful, Humorous, and Grotesque. My favorite by far was the grotesque. Probably because it isn't something I would normally do. I got to experiment with more of an illustrator's technique and it was fun. I got an A, by the way.

Lollipop Girl - Fall 2009

Crispy Nutella Cookies

I started watching this show on the Oprah network called Your Own Show, where contestants compete for their own show on the Oprah network... (that could be read backwards and still make sense). First of all, don't judge me. I only started watching it because someone I work with knows one of the contestants, Zach Anner. Who is one of three still in the competition. I think he or this other cook will win... but that's a different post. 

Anywhoo, I just became a fan of one of the last three competitors on Facebook,  Kristina Kuzmic. I found this recipe for Crispy Nutella Cookies on her page, and I HAD to try it. I had just been telling Scotty the day before about how I needed to find a recipe for cookies to use Nutella in (more excuses to eat it, right?). If you've never had it before, it's yummy on graham crackers, apples, and just about anything. Chocolate hazelnut spread. Delicious. 
You can find this recipe here... or at the bottom of this post.

I always begin by getting out all my ingredients. Mostly to make sure I have everything before I get halfway through cooking and have to pause the process to run to Kroger.


Dry and wet ingredients... 

Once mixed, drop them onto a parchment covered cookie sheet about 3 inches apart, they spread out a lot. I got a small icecream scoop for making cookies a couple years ago - BEST thing ever!

The recipe said to cook them for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges were brown and crispy.
I found that they needed about 11 or 12, because they were too gooey once the Nutella was added to the middle. Maybe my oven needed to be set hotter. Or it doesn't hold heat well. 

Once cooled, spread on the Nutella and make them into sandwiches. So good. I made a double batch. One for us and another to take to work for our Valentines party.

Here's the recipe, it can also be found here
Note: It is important to bake these on parchment paper.  For best results, do not substitute aluminum foil or cooking spray.
  •  ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar                                       
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • Nutella
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  
In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and oats.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix until combined.  Using a measuring spoon, drop 1 teaspoon of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 ½ inches apart (the dough will spread a lot).  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.  Keep in mind that these can over bake very quickly.  Do not remove from the parchment paper until completely cooled.  Spread Nutella on half of the cookies, topping them with the rest of the cookies to create sandwiches. Makes about 12 cookies (24, then sandwiched together). 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My friend, AmyRene

I'm still SO very new to this blogging thing. I think I need a lesson or something. If you're like me and need some tips about starting up your first blog, visit my friend Amy Rene. First off, you can get ideas for our own blog from the things she posts. I check in with her every day for the latest news and current events. Secondly, she's aspiring to be (and is quite good at it) a personal assistant when it comes to everything social media. Whether your trying to get publicity for your own business, or just need help with your own social media, she's there for you. Because of her I'm hooked on Twitter. Remember to follow @amyrenepowell on Twitter too!

Follow her blog here: (I hope I did this right)


Amy Amy Amy. First of all, I think you're an awesome friend. I'm SO happy you and C are a part of our lives. Your fresh friendship has been great, and I KNOW we will remain friends forever. <3

Because of you and your awesome blogging skills and tweets, I stay up to date on EVERYTHING. Without you, I'd probably live under a rock when it comes to recent stuff.