28 February 2011

Sunday Funday

You know what I love?  (Well, other than the fact that it is FEBRUARY (!) and we went to the beach?  And that it was actually warm outside!?)

I love the walk from the parking lot to the beach.

When you walk along the walkway and start to hear the waves crashing.

And when, finally, you see the ocean. Isn't that just the best?

And I love porch swings on the beach.

 And sticks that look like sea monsters.

And crappy self-portraits.

And my tacky white sunglasses.

And killer seagulls.

And two for one margaritas.

And coming home, just a tad sunburnt to a sunny kitchen and a cute dog.

And I LOVE Pilot Precise V Rolling Ball pens.

And asparagus and its effects.

And the fact that March is fast approaching!

And I absolutely love this dinner.

I'm a little bit less excited about the fact that school starts in seven hours, and I'm still awake.  Eek!

Which reminds me, I also love naps.

Hope you have a great week!

24 February 2011

This and That

1. Bought tickets to go visit Grandma Carol and Grandpa B in Albuquerque before their big move to Florida! I'll be visiting in mid-April, and am excited to head out west. Any Albuquerque recommendations you'd like to share?

2. My brother said a while back that if he was a teacher, he'd have the kids call him Mr. E. Say it out loud. Isn't that awesome? I think Matt should become a teacher so that the kids can call him Mr. F, a la Arrested Development.

3. I'm too fat for words right now. Before long I'll have to start buying special shoes, because regular shoes will no longer be able to support my weight. And I'll just get a circus tent to wear to school. Ugh. Someone go get me a sandwich!

4. Because of the fatness, I'm trying to be a little more healthy with home snackin'. So tonight I'll be making Mandy's Famous Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, except that it'll be Mandy's Famous Blueberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt. I'll let you know how that turns out.

5. Mitch loves to lie under the blankets and sheets when they come out of the dryer.

6. My dad put his kid brother in the dryer and turned it on when they were kids. Needless to say, my uncle is a little nutty.
7. The art club at school was making buttons. Naturally, I had them make one out of the best silhouette of all time. Aren't you jealous?

8. I have a new favorite whiny boy band: Noah and the Whale. This also means that I have a new favorite Pandora station. What's your favorite Pandora station?

9. Tried yesterday to convince my students that Jesus had come down from heaven to inhabit my body and to keep an eye on them. Even though I reached out my arms and let my hair down and addressed them as "my children," they didn't buy it. Kids these days are so smart!

10. In need of some sage advice? Don't keep toothpicks in your pocket.

There you have it! I'm off to enjoy a productive night of cleaning, laundry, ellipting, and paper grading. If everything goes according to plan, the only thing I'll need to do this weekend is lie on a blanket in the sunshine.

Happy almost weekend!

23 February 2011

Gorgeous Weekend

This weekend was out of control beautiful, and we wanted to soak up every bit of fun and sunshine that we possibly could. 

Savannah can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, but there's just something so exhilarating about spending an afternoon lying on a blanket in the sun, and then realizing that, oh em gee, it's February (!).  Springtime in Savannah is just glorious.

Because life has been a bummer lately, this weekend we felt almost obliged to have fun, and to appreciate the beauty in our lives.

So we went downtown, drank margaritas, and mingled with the tourists.

And we stalked a puppy so cute I thought my uterus would burst.

And we went to hang out with Iris and Opal.

And we went to the park.

And we drank smoothies.

And we played games.

And we watched other people.

And we smiled.  And some of us read books.

And we laughed. And we just enjoyed the company of each other, and of our friends.

22 February 2011

Grandpa Cheney

This weekend, Matt’s Grandpa Cheney passed away. He was a lovely man who was dedicated to and loved his family. He had an almost child-like appreciation for the world around him, and he took nothing for granted. Grandpa Cheney was a man who brought joy to the lives of those around him.

And all of that seems so cliché, and doesn’t convey at all how wonderful, or sweet, or charming this man was.

So I’ll tell you one story about him. Grandpa Cheney was also dedicated to the lottery. He played the same numbers every day for years and years. And Grandma Cheney would scoff, believing his lottery play to be a waste. And then, one day, Grandpa Cheney won. He won a handsome prize, and split it with his wife, children, and grandchildren. For the years after his win, Grandpa Cheney continued to play, loving that his wife could no longer lecture him about how nobody ever wins the lottery. The next time he won, he’d tell us, he was keeping it all for himself.

It’s sad to imagine a world without Grandpa Cheney in it. But since we don't really have a choice about that, I suppose the best way to remember him is to adopt his attitude toward life: to appreciate everything we have, to take nothing for granted, and to live our lives to bring joy to others.  Oh, and we should probably start playing the lottery. . .

21 February 2011

Mandy's Famous Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Want to know something funny?  The idea for this ice cream came to me in a dream.  Seriously.  I literally dreamt up blueberry cheesecake ice cream.  Obviously, I'm not the first person to make blueberry cheesecake ice cream--a quick session with the Google will show you that.  BUT, this is my own recipe, and I've been plotting it for some time.  You know, after the angel came to me in a dream and spoke to me about it.

Oh, fine.  There was no angel.  But it was still come crazy Old Testament shit.

So, anyway, I need to give you this recipe because you absolutely must make this ice cream because it will make you smile when you're sad, and it'll help you to make friends, and it'll help you to prove to your enemies that you're better than them.

Mandy's Famous Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Cream Cheese Mixture (for the ribbons)
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese (NOT fat free)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar

Blueberry Custard Mix
1 pint fresh blueberries (I suppose you could use frozen, too.)
Juice from one lemon
5 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup sugar, divided

Streusel Topping (loosely adapted from this recipe)
3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened


In a food processor, blend the ingredients for the cream cheese mixture. Pulse until fully combined and smooth. Empty contents into a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

For the blueberry custard mix, first combine the fresh blueberries with 1/2 cup of sugar and the lemon juice in a saucepan.  Cook on medium heat until reduced.  Cool slightly, and add blueberry mixture to a food processor.  Pulse several times.  Pour blueberry mixture into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer, using a rubber spatula to push out all of the blueberry juice deliciousness.  Allow to cool.

In a large saucepan slowly heat 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of half and half with remaining 1/2 cup of. (Do not let it reach a boil.) Add the egg yolks and stir constantly, not allowing the temperature to exceed 160 degrees. When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove.  Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer and add to the blueberry mixture. Stir until completely combined, and chill for an hour or two.

While the two mixes are chilling, combine the dry ingredients for the streusel (flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt) in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment. Mix for 1-2 minutes, until butter and dry ingredients reach an almost sandy consistency. Loosely toss mixture into the bottom of a cookie sheet, and bake at 350 until streusel is golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool.

Once the blueberry custard mix has chilled, freeze it in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. In the last 5-10 minutes, add about 1/3 of the cream cheese mix. Once fully incorporated, transfer to a large bowl. Fold in the remainder of the cream cheese mix to create cream cheese ribbons throughout the ice cream. Save the streusel for topping.

Happy Tuesday to you!  Don't you just love short weeks?

18 February 2011

What Is Normal, Anyway?

Take a quick look at my brother's Facebook profile picture.

And at my sister's.

(She's the one on the left.)

And tell me I'm not the normal one.  Or at least the closest.

Happy weekending, y'all!

Mandy's Famous Rosemary Chicken Salad

You know what I hate? Mayonnaise.

When I was in eighth grade, I was in the school's spelling bee and almost lost because I didn't know how to spell mayonnaise. So, for one, mayonnaise almost ruined my childhood.  Fortunately, though, the other girl didn't know how to spell it, either, so mayonnaise didn't manage to ruin the bee for me.  I later won with the word nougat. Shoot yeah! (Also, maybe I ate a nougat bar--the Big Hunk--every day for lunch in the eighth grade?)

Sure, mayonnaise didn't ruin that day, but it has ruined many a sandwich in the years since my glorious spelling bee victory. Ugh! So gross! The thing is, even though I know what actually goes into mayo, I still have this mental block against it. And even though I'm a much less picky eater now than I used to be, and Matt insists that I actually do like mayonnaise deep down in the depths of my soul, I've been hard core against it. (Plus, do I really need to convince myself to like something that's only going to make me fatter?)

Anyway, because of my aversion to all things mayonnaise, it took me a really long time to eat chicken salad. I'd only eat the less-mayonnaisey ones, and even then I'd have to play mind games with myself to really enjoy them. But lately, I've been playing it fast and loose with mayonnaise. And just this week I made a huge first step: actually putting mayonnaise on a sandwich! Granted, it was a spicy mayo for a banh mi sandwich that Cassie gave me the recipe for (and that you should definitely make), but it was mayo nonetheless.

Look at me growing (in more ways than one)!

Anyway, all that to say that I've been getting over my mayophobia. So I've been making chicken salad lately, and it's hella good. It's not drowning in mayonnaise, and it's an easily adaptable recipe, and even Matt, hater* of chicken salad, has been going BANANAS! for it. I added rosemary to it because that's what my idol Cheryl from Back in the Day Bakery does.  But her cookbook isn't out yet (spring, 2012, baby!), so in the meantime I'll be making this one.  You should make it, too.  And eat it on some delicious bread, or on crackers. Mmmmm. . .

And then get online and order me a case of Big Hunks.**
Mandy's Famous Rosemary Chicken Salad


1 lb. or so boneless skinless chicken breasts (or whatever chicken you want as long as it's not from a can)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Cassie says you can only use Hellman's)
5 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup red grapes, halved
3/4 cup unsalted cashews (or whatever nut you want), chopped
crushed red pepper


Salt and pepper the chicken and cook it.  I did it in a cast-iron skillet, but you could bake it, too.  Chop everything else.  Mix it all together. 

Fancy, huh?

*Pronounced hate-uh if you want to be hip like me. As in, "don't be a hate-uh."
**Also, do not do a Google image search for "big hunk bar" from your workplace.

17 February 2011

Long Time No Talk. . .

Well, hello there, party people. Sorry about the week-long absence. Life's been pretty tough for our family lately, but here we are with our heads poking out on the other side. Last time I was on here I was bound and determined that nothing would break my stride. Well, let's just say that the stride was broken like a sombitch. Shoot.

Matt had been out of town (which I didn't tell you about before just in case you are a murderer who would then decide that--since my strapping protector husband was gone--it was high time for some murderin'), and I learned the hard way that I'm just no good at being by myself for long periods of time.* Even Mitch missed him.

But Matt's back, and although there are still some very sad circumstances that are out of our control, and some very annoying circumstances that are out of our control, we're doing better. It's been nice returning to our awesome, albeit boring, routine.

Cue the triumphant Forrest Gump music!

You didn't miss too much in the last week. I spent too many hours grading essays, waiting tables, and being otherwise pitiful. I was abandoned by Matt's car not just once but twice. I may or may not have witnessed a gas station robbery. I ate too much fast food and drank too much wine--so much wine, in fact, that I may have accidentally fallen into some curtains and pulled them down from the window. Oops. I filed the mail for the first time since this happened. And I started our taxes.

Exciting, huh? Try not to get too carried away with jealousy.

Actually, look at today's weather forecast for the SAV, and then you can be overcome with envy.

So, yeah. Things sucked there for a while, and I apologize for the absence. But short weeks and happy times lie ahead of us, and I can't wait to share those with you. I've missed y'all.**

*Judge away. I've spent days beating myself up about not actually being the strong, independent, "I don't need a man" kind of gal I've always fancied myself to be. Twenty-year old Mandy kind of hates twenty-nine year Mandy, but it doesn't really matter. Twenty-year old Mandy was a terrible cook, so take that!

**Twenty-year old Mandy also judges present-day Mandy for her use of y'all. Twenty-year old Mandy is such a bitch!

11 February 2011

Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride. . .

Thanks to all for your kind words yesterday.  After some phone chats, a few indulgent Target purchases, a dog, a husband, and baking a LOT of cookies (So many that I actually forgot to eat dinner.  I don't think that's ever happened.), I'm feeling much better.  And it doesn't hurt that it's Friday, and the sun is shining, and I was insanely productive at work, and within the hour I'll be in Mexico with friends. 

I am determined to have a good weekend, even if that means convincing myself that it's fun to deep-clean the house and grade essays.  It's looking like I'll be able to do it with the windows open, at least.

Happy weekend to you!  Any big plans?

10 February 2011


You know that saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all"?  Well, I kind of half-way subscribe to that.  I mean, I'll be the first one to rant about Teen Mom, and I love to gripe and complain about stuff.  Who doesn't, really?

But I've noticed on other blogs and Facebook (oh, the evil Facebook), that when all people do is bitch and moan, I begin to lose interest and/or judge them more and have to fight off the temptation to be all, "Shut up with your whinin' and complainin'!"  So I have a little rule for myself on Facebook and the ole bliggity blog, which is that I have to have an 8:1 ratio of positive stuff to negative stuff.  (Yes, I did pull out the thesaurus for this post.)  I don't want to be phony or misrepresent our life or anything, but I don't think people come here to read passages where I act like a little baby not getting her way.

That said, this has been a pretty sucky week.  Work has sucked, lots of home stuff has sucked, the weather has sucked, and I'm tired and cranky and sad and kind of sick but not sick enough to call into work.  And life is sucking even more for many of those close to me, which is extra super sucky* and just makes me more sad (and more annoyed with myself for being so down about my own small problems).  I've been in the mood for the last couple of days where I just want to find the most sad movie that I can, and I want to get a loaf of sourdough French bread and a plate of cookies and a box of wine, and I just want to sit and cry until I can't cry anymore so that hopefully it'll be out of my system and I can get over it already.

But there's work to do and papers to grade and houses to clean and taxes to file, so I need to soldier on for a couple of more days.  And if I'm still feeling like a whiny baby, then I'll go watch Blue Valentine or that rabbit movie where Nicole Kidman loses her kid and I'll ugly cry until I'm out of tears.  But you probably won't hear about that.  Unless I can find eight happy things to tell you about first.

So, you'll hear from me when I poke my head out of the other side of this mess.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with something delicious, an oldie but a goodie, the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.** 

*Apparently it's not a very good thesaurus.

**There's one.  Now I just need seven more happy things.


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