Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...
  • my family and friends
  • my health
  • my job
  • the fact that I have a liiiitle bit more of Christmas break left before I return to the aforementioned job
  • a wonderful, family-filled, sparkly, shiny, warm and fuzzy Christmas...been trying to blog about it for 3 days now and Blogger. Won't. Post. It. Hmph.
  • getting to see the first white Christmas I remember
  • the fun grown-up presents Santa Claus brought me for Christmas
  • the safe (EARLY) arrival of healthy, handsome baby John Mark Evans yesterday morning...I wish Colorado was just a smidge closer so that I could visit. And hold him. And smell the top of his sweet baby head. Congratulations, Julie and Mark!
  • 2010...such a fab year
  • 2011 beginning on Saturday...I love sitting around on New Year's Day and pondering what's in store for the new year
  • getting to do a bit of sewing lately
  • being able to cross Starbucks' Peppermint Hot Chocolate off of my things-I've-always-wanted-to-try-but-then-didn't-like-them-one-single-little-bit-when-I-tried-them list...ick...tasted like a bunch of York Peppermint Patties melted in a cup...surefire way to get your blood sugar up, though!
  • finally getting those clementines finished...thanks, fam!
  • the National Championship game coming up in less than 2 weeks...nervous and EXCITED :)


Thursday, December 23, 2010

5 lbs of clementines, 1 girl, and a quest

I love clementines. I love seeing them in stores this time of year. They peel easily and hardly ever have seeds in them and they're tiny and precious and adorable and such a pretty color. I don't love, however, that they're only sold in 5 lb crates. That's a lot of clementines. That's a lot of anything. Clementines were on sale at Publix last week, and I like them so much that I decided to buy some. 5 pounds worth. I had no doubts that I could finish them.
I'm here today to throw in the towel. I can't do it anymore; this victory goes to the clementines. I've taken in so much vitamin C over the last few days that I don't think my body knows what to do with it. When I put my makeup on yesterday, I could've sworn the color of my skin was starting to look...clementine-ish. I'm done. I sure hope my family members like clementines, because somebody may find this under the tree Christmas morning.

Oh, and since I've had so many stinkin' clementine peels, I've decided to put them to good use instead of throwing them away immediately. I've been simmering them in some water with cinnamon sprinkled on top. I learned that from my mama...makes your house smell so good!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Warm and fuzzy

I'm really, really good at not going to work. I am so thankful that I have a job that allows some really nice (though very hard-earned) breaks during the year...yay, teaching! This first day of winter, I've been doing a little (or, ahem, all) of my Christmas shopping, a little of this:

and partaking of some of this:

recipe here:

This was so good! I made it without the Gruyere...the only block I could find was $9.49 at Publix, and this girl doesn't shell out that kind of dough on dairy products. I put some red bell pepper on top for a little Christmas color. Really, really tasty.

Christmas break's not-so-secret-admirer,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lullaby Carol

The choir sang a beautiful song at church yesterday and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it here. It's called "Lullaby Carol" and it's written by Molly James. It may be old news to other people, but I'd never heard it before. It really made me stop and think about that sweet little baby Jesus (literally) carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders from the night he was born. How awesome.

Lullaby Carol by Molly James
Lullaby baby, now reclining, hush, do not wake the infant King,
Angels are watching, stars are shining over the place where Jesus lies.

Lullaby baby, now a'sleeping, hush, do not wake the infant King,
Soon will come sorrow with the morning, soon will come grief and bitter tears.

Lullaby baby, now a'dozing, hush, do not wake the infant King,
Soon comes the cross, the nails, the piercing, then in the grave at last repose.

Lullaby baby, now a'waking, hush, do not stir the infant King,
Dreaming of glory, gladsome morning, conquering death, its bondage free!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rolo-pretzel things

I guess I could come up with a better name, but that's exactly what these are: things made out of Rolos and pretzels. Fitting, no? I made these for my 5th grade teammates as Christmas presents last year and decided to churn 'em out again this year. Here's the recipe...easy, easy, easy!

Rolo-Pretzel Things

pretzels (I use the "windowpane" ones because I like the way they look, but any kind except sticks would work.)

Lay a bunch of pretzels out on a baking sheet. (For the love of all that is good and decent, use foil. Learn from my mistake last year. I was still scraping Rolo mess off my cookie sheets by Valentines Day.)

Unwrap enough Rolos to top each pretzel and place on top. (If you can con someone else into doing this part for you, do it. It's definitely the least fun step.)

Bake at 250 for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and smush another pretzel on top. Let cool. Done.

*I've seen a variation of this where people smush a pecan half on top. I just use another pretzel because I like the pretzel/chocolate combo. Oh yeah, and pretzels are way cheaper than pecans. The pecan ones are good, though. They taste very "turtle-y".

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...
  • my family and friends
  • my health
  • my job
  • peace and hope and joy and faith and gratitude
  • the safe arrival of baby Sam Landrum Christmas present ever for the Landrum fam!
  • my Monday morning prayer group at glad I've started going this year
  • a break in the sub-freezing temperatures
  • not having to drip my faucets last night
  • not having to scrape ice off my windshield this morning
  • getting our salt dough ornaments made and decorated...sent these little guys packin' today!
  • Beth...could NOT have managed the salt dough/painting/glittering/ribboning/glazing/packaging bonanza without her
  • a chance to start (yep, start) my Christmas shopping this weekend
  • a visit from my bubba today...he ate Chicken Supreme in the lunchroom...he played football (quarterback!) at recess...he schmoozed with mamas at our Christmas party...he did it all because he knew it would make me happy...seriously made my day
  • a fun, successful, well-organized Christmas party
  • the Christmas party being over (really, really fun and all)...I'm exhausted
  • the Honors Club meeting being over...I'm exhausted
  • school being over as of tomorrow...I'm exhau...(you get the idea)
  • Christmas break dangling right in front of me...glittery, shiny, warm, cozy, beautiful, peaceful Christmas break :)
  • most of my kiddos being genuinely excited about their Christmas presents from me (whiteboards, markers, felt "erasers")
  • Birmingham's Christmas tree being replaced after someone burnt the first one down...somebody's getting a lump of coal from Santa Claus this year!
  • getting to watch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" today...never gets old! The kiddos loved it. And I still think the Abominable Snowman is kinda scary. Always has been. Always will be. Amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Up to my eyeballs salt dough. This crazy teacher decided to let her 27 students have a mixing/stirring/sloshing/kneading/flouring/big-fat-mess-making/rolling/cutting/aw-do-we-really-have-to-clean-all-this-up? kinda party today. It was a large, large mess. And it was so fun. We baked the ornaments at school, and I came home and made some extras juuuust in case. I imagine that at least one precious little ornament will break or be deemed otherwise unacceptable during the painting process tomorrow, and I'm packin' plenty of back-ups. Save the tears, kiddos...Ms. J is prepared!

If any mamas or teachers (or plain ol' regular people who can't get enough dough crafts in their life) want to try it out, this recipe was great!

Salt Dough
1/2 cup salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water

Mix together all ingredients until a dough is formed. If the dough is too sticky or batter-like, sprinkle in flour. If the dough is too dry, add a bit of water.

Flour a surface and knead the dough on it. Knead until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic.

Roll the dough to 1/2"-1/4" thickness, adding flour as needed.

Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Take a toothpick and whittle out a hole at the top...make the hole a little bigger than you think you need. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 200 for about 2 hours. They don't rise or spread much, so no worries about placing them too close to each other. Check every 30 minutes or so to flip the ornaments. (We didn't flip the ones we did at school, and we really needed to. Plus we used the cafeteria's commercial oven, and that big girl doesn't mess around. I think they baked too fast. The ones I've got in the oven here at home look smoother and overall prettier.)

Let the ornaments cool and dry completely; there should be no mushy spots. Decorate with acrylic paint and let dry. If you wish, finish off with a coat of Mod Podge to seal and add some shine. String a ribbon through the hole and deck your halls!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Island of Misfit Toys

The annual Johnston family Christmas decorating extravaganza was held today, and as we pulled out all of the decorations, I noticed a theme. We put out each and every single item in the boxes, with no regard to its condition or attractiveness. Of course, there are some nice, very beautiful things we put out. But honestly, we look most forward to dragging out the old homemade ornaments that would fit right in on the Island of Misfit Toys. Here are a few of our favorites:
This beauty is made of an old ground beef tray--washed, baked, and decorated. Washed really, really well. We hope.

Plastic cup. Glue. Red glitter. Done. Instant heirloom.

Who doesn't love a good dried macaroni wreath?

This jewel above is a real crowd-pleaser. Daddy loves it so much that it goes front and center on every tree, every year. This green one is Daniel's and I made a red one to match. Mine got thrown out years ago because...well, I guess it was too ugly to look at. Good thing this one isn't nearly there yet. Right?

This little guy is my personal favorite. He used to have little googly eyes. And, oh yeah...he used to be a whole candy cane. Over the years he's started disintegrating from the inside out. I imagine he'll grace the tree until he's just an empty wrapper with antlers on top. Wait, who am I kidding? The wrapper and antlers will probably still be draped on a tree branch for years to come.

As much as we moan and groan when each of these ornaments is pulled from the box, I wouldn't have Christmas any other way. I'm thankful that we can give these less-than-perfect ornaments a warm, happy home for Christmas. They're thankful that they haven't been exiled to the Island of Misfit Toys...yet.

Merry Christmas from the Johnston clan!
(And yes, we all planned to wear Auburn gear at the same time...we don't usually call each other to plan our wardrobes. Usually. Unless Mom makes us. We're just a proud buncha folks these days.)

PS--In order to get to the old homestead to decorate, I had to the snow. Snow! In Alabama! In December! Well, it was just flurries and none of it stuck, but still! Snow! You know what that is? Global warming in action :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

29 years

Happy happy happy 29th anniversary to these two crazy kids! I used to love looking through their wedding album when I was little; I may have to drag it back out tomorrow. Mama and Denny J have set such a good example for my bubba and me to follow. I love them more than I can say and am thankful for the happy, wonderful life they gave us while we were growing up. Happy anniversary, Mama and Daddy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...
  • my friends and family
  • my health
  • my job
  • exactly 4.5 schooldays (after tomorrow) until Christmas break begins...not that I'm counting or anything
  • the Christmas season...trying to sop up every second of it
  • a successful Colonial Celebration today...kiddos
  • the fact that we don't have to do another Colonial Celebration for 12 months :)
  • sweet, sweet Beth...she tidies up my classroom, grades papers, makes copies, teaches small groups, tells me when my hair's messed up, preserves my sanity...pretty sure I couldn't get through the schoolday without her
  • my bubba wanting to come eat lunch with us next week
  • the community where I teach
  • my SEC Champion Auburn Tigers...still can't believe they're going to play for the National Championship!!!
  • being warm when the weather is so very stinkin' cold
  • the mornings when there's no ice on my windshield
  • my pretty little Christmas tree when it's all lit up
  • some fun ideas for Christmas presents
  • money to buy Christmas presents
  • finding a fabulously wonderful new doctor this week
  • a relaxing, almost commitment-free weekend coming up


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Fred-ism

I have a student that, for privacy's sake, I call Fred. Fred is a trip. He says at least one thing every day that makes me glad I got out of bed that morning. We had this conversation in the lunch line yesterday and it still made me smile today:

Fred: Ms. Johnston, lunch smells really good today!
Me: It sure does.
Fred: The smell...I mean, it's stuck up in my nostrils but I don't mind it because it's a good smell.
Me: (I got nothin'. I give Fred a confused look that is meant to convey "Why on God's green earth are we having this super strange conversation?")
Fred: You think the lunch ladies would like it if I told them about the good smell?
Me: Sure! It would probably make their day.
Fred: (to the lady fixing his tray) Your lunch smells great today. The smell is stuck in my nostrils, but I'm okay with that because it's a good smell. Thanks for making a good smelling lunch.
Lunch lady: (She's got nothin' either. She looks at Fred as if he's suddenly sprouted an extra eyeball.)

I had to take Fred by the shoulders and walk him away since he started pointing to different areas of his nose to further make his point. Good heavens. It's the little things that make me smile.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Light at the end of the tunnel

The Raleys were on my mind until I finally went to sleep last night, and they were the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. I opened up my devotional book before I got out of bed and had to smile when I saw this morning's reading: no worries in heaven. "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain."...Revelation 21:4. The reading was so good and so applicable today. It talks all about how the things that worry us and grieve us in this life won't even be on the radar screen in heaven. It makes me feel better to know that, no matter how bad things get, we won't have any worries or concerns in heaven. There is total, complete peace and joy on the horizon for all of us...makes me happy to think about :) Thanks again for your prayers...keep 'em coming.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Prayers so desperately needed

I've been thinking about this all day and can't get it off my mind. I even got back out of bed to write this because I was too busy thinking to go to sleep. A family in my school community needs all the prayers they can get right now. If you read this and are a praying person, please please please pray for the Raley family. Their 13-year-old passed away this evening due to really tragic circumstances and I can't imagine the horror the family is feeling. Pray for everyone who is hurting over this. Pray for all these sweet kiddos who are far too young to be mourning the loss of their brother and friend and classmate and teammate. Pray for those of us guiding those sweet kiddos through this. Just pray pray pray pray pray...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...
  • my family and friends
  • my health
  • my job
  • this cold weather...Christmas is coming!
  • that I have a place to go to get out of the cold weather...makes me feel bad for people who don't
  • Christmas music and Christmas lights
  • a little free time this weekend so that I can get my Christmas tree up
  • 9.5 more days left (after tomorrow) until Christmas break...the kiddos are excited and their teacher is ready
  • that my Auburn Tigers are playing for the SEC Championship on Saturday...SO proud of 'em!!
  • the extra large salad I made for supper was extra good
  • the salad dressing that came into my life for the first time may get its own post, and I'm not totally kidding about that
  • overall good behavior on our field trip today..."The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" always makes me a little teary at the end
  • my warm and cozy bed

On that note, I'm declaring this post done so that I can get into that warm and cozy bed of mine. That's right, it's not even 8:00. And I'm fixing to go to bed. And I don't care who knows about it. This girl is tired, tired, tired today.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"It looks like Christmas threw up in here!"

 I decided to be a bit festive this year and string up some lights in my classroom. I had these lit up and some peaceful, instrumental Christmas music playing when the kiddos walked in this morning. The above comment was the first one I heard; I was assured this is a good thing. The kids were SO excited. We spent much of our time today with the overhead lights off (and blinds open) so that they could work by "Christmas light" ("Fred's" term). As long as I kept the Christmas music on, they were silent...and if you think I didn't play the crap out of that CD all day, you are way wrong. I know a good thing when I see it...or hear it! $9 for a string of lights and a CD is a small price to pay for jolly, hardworking 5th graders. If only it was always so easy!