Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Book Meme

Carrie at Confessions tagged me for this book meme. Sorry I'm a little late getting to it.

The Rules:
* Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the next two to five sentences in your blog along with these instructions.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one, pick the CLOSEST.
* Tag five other people to do the same.

Okay, the book closest to me is the most recent one I read. I read this because it was supposed to be some great literary work by a Nobel-prize winning author. And it was referenced in High Fidelity and Serendipity. It was okay.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
p. 56
But the old families, ruined by Independence, had to submit to the realities of a new time, and the Academy opened its doors to all applicants who could pay the tuition, regardless of the color of their blood, on the essential condition that they were legitimate daughters of Catholic marriages. In any event, it was an expensive school, and the fact that Fermina Daza studied there was a sufficient indication of her family's economic situation, if not of its social position. This news encouraged Florentino Ariza, since it indicated to him that the beautiful adolescent with the almond-shaped eyes was within reach of his dreams.

I tag these folks:
Tassie at Tassie and her Random Thoughts
Jackie at Empty Nest Full Life
Madeline at My Boy and Me
Amy at In My Life
Jenn at I Hate Whine

I know that all of you ladies lead very busy lives, so if you can't get to it, I understand. I just picked y'all cause you were the last five people to leave me a comment that hadn't done it. Ha. That'll show you to leave comments. Just kidding, just kidding, please keep leaving them, it's nice to know I'm not just rambling to myself...

*Edit* If I didn't tag you and you would like to do it, please do. It's always fun to see what other people are reading.

Sassy Apron Swap

I'm really late getting this one posted, but you'll just have to forgive me. I got a package from my Sassy Apron Swap partner, Tammie, a couple of weeks ago. I was SO excited to get this since it's the first swap I've participated in. She did a wonderful job! The apron is absolutely adorable. Here's a picture of it:

Here's a more detailed picture of the top of the apron:

Didn't she do a great job?
With this swap, we had to send a coordinating pot holder to match the apron and a favorite pie recipe. She also sent some adorable recipe cards.
Here's the pot holder:

and here's the recipe:

Sour Cream Apple Pie
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. apples, peeled and chopped
1 unbaked 9" pie crust
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter

Stir together flour, salt, sugar, and nutmeg. Combine egg, sour cream and vanilla in another bowl; mix well. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in apples, spoon into pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 more minutes. Remove pie from oven. Increase heat to 400 degrees. Make topping and sprinkle over top of pie; bake 10 more minutes. Let cool before cutting.
Topping: combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon, cut in butter until crumbly.

I haven't had a chance to make this yet, but I am going to soon! It sounds really yummy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Sorry, I don't know if it was my computer or me doing something stupid, but my post was posted with no post. So anyway...

Okay, I know I'm barely getting it in there, but here's my Menu Plan Monday:

Monday 9/29
Lunch - Turkey sandwiches
Dinner - Cheesy chicken and rice casserole (I made extra last week and froze it)

Tuesday 9/30
Lunch - Turkey sandwiches (we have a lot of leftover fried turkey from Sat.)
Dinner - Lasagna (I made extra of this last week and froze it too)

Wednesday 10/1
Lunch - leftover lasagna
Dinner- Hamburger steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole

Thursday 10/2
Lunch - Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Dinner - Chicken fried rice

Friday 10/3
Lunch - Leftovers or sandwiches
Dinner - Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice - I'm adding some sausage to it.

Saturday 10/4
Lunch - Eat out with family
Dinner - Southwest chicken quiche

Sunday 10/5 We'll be visiting my family so I have no idea what we'll be eating.
Lunch - ?
Dinner - ?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Thursday and Friday were both very busy with cooking and volunteering at the school. Between Thursday morning and Friday morning, I baked, cooked, and/or decorated: 5 dozen cupcakes, 7 dozen cookies (2 dozen of which were decorated as footballs), 2 dozen muffins, a batch of magic cookie bars, 6 quiche, 4 individual size quiche, 3 individual size casseroles, gelatin salad, and pasta salad.

After spending most of the day at the school Friday, Mr. McHacker and I went to see his parents who were camping in West Point. There's a really nice campground a few miles outside of the town. I was pretty tired so I crashed when we got home, I fell asleep during the debate, and didn't wake up until around 10:00 Saturday morning.

Yesterday we went back to the campground and took our friends L and R with us. Mr. McHacker and R had the great idea of asking Mom and Dad to bring the turkey fryer with them, so we brought the turkey and oil, L brought potato salad, and Mom supplied the french fries, pie, gelatin salad and sweet tea, and we had a really awesome meal. We had a great time. We even played on the playground like a bunch of overgrown kids. :-) When we got back home last night, we watched a bunch of episodes of Battlestar Galactica. We've just started season 3. It's such a fun show. I stayed up way too late and slept until 2 this afternoon. It felt SO good to sleep until I felt like waking up. I know all you folks with kids are jealous. ;-) just joking.

I haven't done anything productive today other than going to to drugstore and balancing the checkbook. I guess I'll go try to do something worthwhile until it's time to do whatever I need to for supper. L and R are coming over for leftovers and we'll probably watch more Battlestar. As much as I want a baby, it sure is nice to have weekends like this were I can just do what I want and enjoy time with adults. I know I'm going to miss having times like these one day so I'm going to take full advantage of it while I can.

When I find my camera, I'm going to post a picture of the adorable apron I got in the Sassy Apron Swap, so that post will be coming up soon. I hope y'all are having a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Every time I open up my blogger dashboard, I think "I've got to take another picture to use for my profile!" That's the problem with always being the one behind the camera, you never have any good pictures of yourself.

So, the past few weeks I've been volunteering on Fridays at the school where I used to work. It's always Friday since that's when folks have been ordering cakes. (Except for that Monday, but I was there again on Friday). Well, it seems that I'm going to be able to make about a hundred dollars or more each week from the baked items I'm selling there. I never really intended on selling anything but occasional cakes and cookies, but a couple weeks ago when I was asked if I would make a quiche, I thought "sure, why not." So I got 3 quiche orders last week and sold over 50 dollars worth of bake sale items. After I paid myself back for cost of ingredients, I made a profit of about 60 dollars. For this Friday, I have 6 quiche orders, an order for 3 dozen cupcakes, and am planning on taking bake sale items again. Also, the ladies at the school usually order lunch from one of the local restaurants and have it delivered to the school. I was asked if I would bring a couple of extra quiche (and casserole) and some type of salad to sell as a plate lunch on Fridays (they're getting tired of the usual choices). Of course I said yes! I'm really excited about my new little unexpected business.

*edit* Apparently the secret government agency wants him to "keep it on the down low", so I've taken out the name of the agency. Guess if he takes that job, we'll be living a life of secrecy lol.

Mr. McHacker had an interview with a *secretive government agency* this week. They want him to work for them. He has another interview with another of their departments in a couple of weeks, and may be going to take a polygraph and do the other stuff necessary for a security clearance. He also has interviews with two other private security corporations pretty soon. I'm really proud of him. He's worked so hard and it's great to see him getting these awesome job offers. If he took the *government* job, we'd have to move to *New England*. It's a long way from home, but it might be kinda cool. I think he really wants to work with one of the other private companies though. If he did, we would be able to stay here and he could work from home. And he would probably be able to start working before he's finished with the PhD in May.

If we stay here, I want to open my own business. If we move, I'm not so sure. Either way, I feel like things are really starting to go well for us now. I feel like a new chapter has started in our lives and I'm very excited.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Two posts in one day! Bet you didn't think you'd ever see that happen :-)

I usually plan a menu so I thought I would join up with the other folks at Organizing Junkie and post my weekly menu plan.

Monday 9/22
Lunch- Leftovers and BLT sandwiches
Dinner - Lasagna and salad

Tuesday 9/23
Lunch- Leftover lasagna
Dinner- Lemon pepper chicken breasts with angel hair pasta

Wednesday 9/24
Lunch- Turkey sandwiches on homemade bread
Dinner- Shake-n-bake pork chops, squash casserole, mashed potatoes

Thursday 9/25
Lunch- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on homemade bread
Dinner- Fried chicken strips and salad

Friday 9/26
Lunch- Salad topped with chicken
Dinner- Cheesy chicken and rice casserole

Saturday 9/27
Lunch- Leftover casserole
Dinner- Homemade pizza

Sunday 9/28
Lunch- Pancakes and sausage
Dinner- Chicken pot pie

Chicken Pot Pie

The other day I tried my hand at making homemade chicken pot pie for the first time. I'm not really sure why I had never made it before, but I'm glad I've learned how. :-)

The recipe I used is from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which is seriously the best cookbook. Ever. Seriously. I will probably write a whole post just on how much I love this cookbook.

Here's the recipe:

Chicken Pie (serves 6)
6 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream (I had half and half, so I used that)
1/2 tsp. pepper
salt to taste
4 cups cooked chicken cut into chuncks
12 small white onions (I had regular onions, so I just used 1)
1/4 cup peas, cooked
1/4 cup carrots, cooked
1/4 cup celery, cooked (I HATE celery, so I left this out)
Pastry shell (I made my own, but store bought is fine)
I also added about a 1/2 cup of cooked potatoes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Slowly add the broth, cream, pepper, and salt to taste. Cook for 5 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Put the chicken pieces in a deep pie plate or casserole, cover with sauce, and stir in the onion, peas, carrots, and celery. Place the piecrust over the casserole, leaving enough overhang so the edges can be crimped. Cut vents in the crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned.

I wanted a bottom crust, so I lined the dishes with pastry, cooked it partially, then continued. Also, I just mixed the chicken and veggies together first, then poured the sauce on top of it all. Here are some pictures. These are single serving size dishes.

It turned out pretty well. I'm making it again for supper on Sunday.
I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A cake picture and some other stuff

I've been keeping pretty busy lately, but I don't want to get out of the habit of blogging again, so I thought I would write a quick one. I spent the day cooking Saturday and we had some friends over. The pot roast I made was the best one yet :-) And I made this cake. It turned out just like the picture and is honestly the best cake I have ever eaten. And that's saying something because I eat a lot of cake. If you love chocolate and peanut butter, you should try it. But only if you need to feed a bunch of people of if you want to eat it for a week because it is super rich. I've also been using my bread machine a lot lately. I made yeast rolls for dinner two nights in a row. I think Mr. McHacker would eat them at every meal if he could :-)

Yesterday was mostly spent working on a cake for a bridal shower. A friend of mine who works at the school I used to work at is getting married later this month and the ladies at the school gave her a shower today. I don't do fondant cakes very often, so I'm not very good at them yet, but I'm getting better. I never really liked the way it tastes, but I've started using a recipe for marshmallow fondant and it tastes really good. I'm sort of free to do whatever I want to most of the cakes people from the school order. They're just happy to get a good tasting cake that isn't from Wal-Mart, so they don't care if it isn't perfect. They're good to me :-) I was told to do something red, black and white. I know that Katie isn't all frilly and fru-fru so I wanted to do something that fit her style. So this is what I came up with.

I've only attempted fondant bows a couple of times, and the results were less than stellar. But I think this one turned out pretty well :-)

I was a little messing with putting it together, so I think I'll practice making a few more and hopefully get better at it. I just think bows as cake toppers are so cute. Everyone liked the cake, and that's what matters I suppose.

I volunteered at the school again today. I figure if I have to take the cake there, I might as well get there early in the day and help out where I can. It was a good day.

The folks at the school ordered a cake for the principal's birthday on Friday, so I'll be up there again this week. I've got a lot cooking and baking to do before then. I'm also making quiches for 2 of the ladies, as well as some "bake sale" type items to sell while I'm up there. It seems they like getting stuff like that to have over the weekend.

I'm going to try my hand at making homemade chicken pot pie tonight, so I'd better go get busy on that. I hope everyone had a good start to their week today, and I hope the rest of your week goes great.

Friday, September 12, 2008

One.org and a nice surprise

I don't know if any of you have heard of one.org, but I thought I would take a minute to tell you about it. ONE is a humanitarian organization trying to help people in third world countries get the food and medication they desperately need. Learn more here. I figure that as much money as the US spends, it would be nice if some of it went to people who are truly in need. So I electronically "sign" every petition I get from them. I signed one today and after I did, I was asked to spread the word and email this letter to others, so I thought I would post it here.

Hi, I just signed a petition asking G8 leaders and the UN Secretary General to commit to providing the food, seed, and fertilizer necessary to help some of the world's poorest countries beat the ongoing hunger crisis. I hope that you'll join me in taking action here: http://www.one.org/un2008/?rc=un2008taf We've seen aid achieve some amazing things in recent years - like over 29 million more children in school for the first time, and over 2 million more Africans with access to AIDS medications. But we must recognize the ongoing hunger crisis for the obstacle that it is and work to overcome it if we hope to continue our success. Thanks

Here's a little more info about the petition I'm asking you to sign.
Our leaders committed to these goals and it is up to us, as Americans and ONE supporters, to make sure that America keeps its promises to the world’s most vulnerable people.

Okay, I'll step off my soapbox now. Here's the nice surprise I mentioned in the title. (Sorry the pic is not so great, it was really windy.)

Around here, wisteria usually blooms around May, it was so unusual to see it in the middle of September. I noticed these pretty little blooms when I left to get Mr. McHacker for lunch (he comes home for lunch every day). It smelled SO good! I love the smell of wisteria. I thought about picking it and putting it in my kitchen so I could smell it all day, but I decided to leave it in case someone else may get a smile from it today. :-)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

To follow or not to follow, that is the question

So I see that Blogger has the "follow" feature now. I'm debating on whether to use it or not. I already follow everyone's blogs using Google Reader through my other (non-anonymous) gmail address, and I'm wondering if it will be redundant to follow them here too. I guess I can just read them on one or the other and skip through the other one? I don't know. Any suggestions from anyone? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More cakes

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've got a few more cakes to show you.

This one was for a 60th wedding anniversary party. The lady who ordered it wanted it all white which was kind of hard for me to do. I like a little color in my cakes. But she was very happy with it, so I guess that's all that matters. The hardest thing about this cake was that it was a chocolate cake covered with white buttercream. I don't like doing white over chocolate because I'm always afraid there will be a stray crumb that will peek through. I made the bow on top by following Lisa's fondant bow tutorial. This is actually my back-up bow which turned out a lot flatter than the one I intended to use. The other one wasn't hard enough because I didn't have any of that tylose powder stuff, but this one worked fine.
From Cakes and Cookies

This one was for my friend E.'s husband's birthday. They're Mississippi State fans and took this cake tailgating with them Saturday.
From Cakes and Cookies

This last one was ordered for an office birthday party. The lady who ordered it wanted chocolate cake with chocolate icing and other than that didn't care what I made it look like. So I had to add a little color to it with the roses.
From Cakes and Cookies

Other than making cakes, I haven't been doing much else besides cooking and cleaning. Oh yeah, and our friends R and L have gotten us hooked on Battlestar Galactica. So we've been watching DVDs of that. We're about halfway through the second season and we're hoping to finish all of them before the new season starts. At the rate we're going, I don't think that'll be a problem. Yeah, I know, I'm a nerd. Who watches science fiction shows. There are worse things to be in life. :-)