The Vacation of Champions

Belated Merry Christmas, readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with family, friends, and lots of yummy food.

I am on Winter Vacation and loving every second of it. I have been busy with baking, cooking, and spending time with my family.

Blogging has always been in the back of my head, but truth be told, I really wanted to take a break and just ENJOY life. I heard a comedian once say that if Jesus Christ appeared out of the sky, we would all be on our phones trying to take a picture, or tweeting it, or Facebooking it instead of enjoying and experiencing that joyous occasion. So, instead of living through my camera, cooking with my camera, and eating through my camera, I decided that I wanted to fully enjoy my Christmas through these brown eyes of mine. And that I have been.....

However, I have been Instagraming a bit in lieu of blogging. So if you have Instagram... add me (missjoanna17). I will definitely add you because I LOVE looking at pictures of random things through different types of lenses.

So, here is my break in a nutshell thus far....
I won The Avid Appetite's blog giveaway! I received her yummy treats and just like that....everything was in my tummy!

I also cooked and baked a TON! And just like that.... everything was in my tummy!

Christmas Empanadas
And of course, there were presents. Amazing presents. My family knows me so well.

This vacation is delicious!

  • How was your Christmas? Tell me what you got! I'm nosey like that.

Teacher Talk Tuesday: Gift Ideas for Students

My favorite time of the year is coming up fast.... Christmas vacation! In just 3 days, hundred of frazzled and burnt out teachers will be enjoying 2-3 weeks off. Yes, I know it is annoying to hear this if you are not a teacher and I apologize for the bragging, but I AM WORKED to the bone. I am ready.

Besides that joyous occasion, there is another event that I am very fond of and that is gift giving. I love rewarding my students for all of the hard work they have been doing and giving them a little Christmas present. Most students don't expect it and it's fun to watch their surprised faces when they see a gift waiting for them at their seat. This year is no exception. This is quite possibly one of the best classes I've ever had so I wanted to reward them with something fun.

Instead of having a regular hum drum party with chips and cupcakes, I decided to give them some options, and since this class is in the morning, I gave them breakfast options. By unanimous decision, a Smoothie Party was in order. I dig it. So, I bought myself an early Christmas present...which in turn is a gift for my students as well. Double Whammy!
In addition to providing all the smoothie fix-ins, I found some great cups for them to keep! I plan on writing their names on it. I know they'll love it!
I plan on taking off the lids and adding these cute straws I found!
Add a candy cane, wrap it all in some cellophane and you got yourselves a winner! I'll post the finished product asap!

Here are some other super cute ideas!
How about some Grinch Pills
Or some Snowman Poop
Jazzing up a chocolate bar looks easy!

These are just too adorable!

In years passed, I've also given little goodie bags with Christmas candies and other little trinkets which the kids enjoy. When I worked in high school, I brought cookies for them to decorate and believe it or not, they liked it a lot! Just giving anyone Christmas treats is enough to turn them into a giddy 3 year old. I love it!

Weekend Recap: I'm A Lucky You Know What

This weekend was full of good things... literally... good things.

Friday was Christmas Bunco. This is in fact, one of the best days of the year. I get to spend quality time chit chatting it up with 11 of my favorite girls. I truly love them so much. They don't know how happy they make my heart. (Many of them are camera shy so I spared them the embarrassment of plastering their beautiful faces on my blog.)
One of my students asked me what I was doing that night and after I told him I was going to have dinner with my friends, he proceeded to add that we will probably be talking about male ice skaters, "you know, because they have tight pants?" His words, not mine.
Sadly, we did not have time to talk about male ice skaters because we were too busy eating, laughing, and laughing some more.
p.s Brie plus cranberries equals heaven. It's simple math.

And we ate some more.

But, the highlight of my night was getting to rummage through my friend's NEW KITCHEN! Holy Moly! I died and gone to kitchen heaven.

Check out these sexy drawers. You can move those pegs around accordingly.
I really want to make food babies with this spice rack. Ohh my!
I love drawer. I love kitchen. I love friends.

Oh, and I'm loving this, too.
Hubby gave me an early Christmas present because my old phone decided to be a freakface and give me hard time. Even though it was being difficult, I feel bad for moving on to something bigger and better. I'm the type of person who gives feelings to inanimate objects. I am sorry Palm Pixi.

But, I have to admit, I have super obsessed with this thing and I am even more excited about the camera on this bad boy. Now I can take good pictures even when I forget my real camera!
See what I mean? Isn't Sonic just the cutest in my sweater?

  • I need some cool Apps! What are some of your favorites?

Thursday Favorites: Another Flashmob

Favorite Drink:


That's all one word, I think. At least when I say it, it is. I get this once a week, sometimes twice if I'm feeling sleepy. I don't know if you can see how they spelled my name...Joann... people always drop the last A! Bugs me. Some of my friends call me that, which I never mind, but when strangers do.... mmmm. ::shakes head::

Favorite Treat of the Week:
After Thanksgiving, all I could think about is PUMPKIN PIE! Last year it was ham, but this year.... I can't stop thinking about it. So I gave Hubby the puppy dog eyes and promised extra sexy time if he bought me one. Of Course he bought one.

Favorite Show:

Hubby and I watch this religiously every day. We could watch the same rerun over and over again.

HOLY CRAP! That zombie on the side scared the crap out of me when I enlarged it. Anyways, this show is just brilliant. And don't ask me why, but I love zombies. For some reason, I am not frightened by them. It's the ghosts and creepy kids in scary movies that make me crap myself. (I think I exceeded my use of the word "crap" for the day.)

Favorite YouTube Video:

Girls, get your tissues. Boys, take notes. Besides my own proposal, this is quite possibly the cutest proposal I've ever seen.


Favorite Song:
An oldie but goodie. Weird video, but this song is awesome!

  • What are some of your favorites this week?

Wandom Wednesday: Cookies EVERYWHERE

Cookies, cookies, EVERYWHERE! Nothing like some cookies to get you into the holiday eating mode. Thinking about trying to control yourself over this holiday season? Fogettah 'bout it. I'm totally talking to myself when I say that. My original goal was to keep my calorie count down to a normal person's level but then I participated in this Virtual Cookie Swap and all that went out the window. I just HAD to share these delectable morsels with you because... well, if I'm going to get fat, I'm dragging you all down with me!

I'm going to try my best to make these before Christmas. Don't worry though, today I went running because I knew that to achieve my goal of making batches upon batches of unnecessary cookies, I'm going to have to haul ass....or go up a pant size or my ass. I'm thinking that going up a size isn't the end of the world.


Soft Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies from The Avid Appetite

Now, this cookie swap was a little bittersweet because I have all these amazing recipes but now I have to do so much work and wear stretchy pants to be able to keep up with my butter intake. No fair! I wish I could've met these girls in real life and would've been able to take home a plate of cookies, but I guess this'll do.

If you need me I will be in the kitchen making cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. 

And don't forget to check out my French Macarons!

Virtual Cookie Swap: Nutella Cream French Macarons

When one of my all time favorite bloggers, Rachel from The Avid Appetite asked me to participate in her Virtual Cookie Swap, I nearly peed myself.  I was so excited that a big time blogger would ask me anything via email! I immediately began to think about what cookie I wanted to make. Then, as if the stars began to align, my mom bought me a book as a gift.

by Hoisako Ogita

I'd like to say that she bought me this out of the goodness of her heart, but that'd be a lie. She bought this for me because she is french macaron obsessed and wanted me to learn to make them for her. Tricky, tricky, Mother. Lucky for her and my dad, they are the loves of my life.... so I will oblige them.

Project Wifey Wife presents:
Nutella Cream French Macarons

2/3 cup ground almond meal or flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 Tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

**The ground almond flour I bought had the skins of the almond in it. It doesn't affect the taste but you can see it in the final product. You can buy this other brand but it is quite expensive.

Before I begin, I must warn you that this is quite the fussy cookie. Certain techniques that the book mentions are pretty particular, but with a lot of patience, you'll be just fine. This a "whole afternoon" type cookie, so take heed. The end product is MORE than worth it. Trust me...I'm not a professional.
 May the macaron force be with you.

Let's begin.

This will help make the macaroons be the same size. Apologies for the crinkled paper. Lord knows those jagged teeth thingies on the box don't do their job right! I recommend that yours be more straight as it will effect your cookies. 
The book recommends that you grind the almonds and powdered sugar together. I just stirred them together and it came out great. Take that, book.

Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites. Be sure to stop and scrap the bowl periodically. Add the vanilla and stir lightly.

Add the rest of the flour and mix it lightly in a circular motion.

Macaroonage Step: This is the fussy step I was talking about. Macaroonage is the term used for mixing flour and meringue. You MUST do this step no less than 15 times, but no more than 20 or you will ruin your macarons.
In a nutshell, you are spreading it against the bowl and scraping it back up 15 times.

When the batter becomes firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula, the mixture is ready.

Fill your pastry bag and begin to make your circles onto your pre-drawn parchment paper.

Hit the baking sheet firmly against the counter. This helps the macarons hold their shape and helps the "little foot" to form. Apparently a macaron is not a macaron without this little foot.

Before baking, dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered for 15- 30 minutes. A slight crust should form on the top and it should not be sticky to the touch.

Bake one batch of macaroons on the stacked cookie sheets. You must double the trays because it prevents the bottom from getting over baked.

Now, there are many types of fillings you can choose from but by the time I was done with this fussy little things, I wanted something FAST! So I made a lazy filling.

1 part butter to 1 part Nutella. You're welcome.

I used 1 stick of butter to about 1 cup of Nutella. I mixed the butter so that the consistency wouldn't be too runny for the cookie. It worked and it was AMAZING!

This would be a wonderful Christmas gift, don't you think?

I'm excited to share the recipes from the other cookie swappers! YAY Virtual Cookie SwapStay tuned.....