Wednesday, December 31, 2008


"New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights."
~Hamilton Wright Mabie

I awoke to harsh winds and and fiercely blowing snow. Apparently Old Man Winter finally arrived in my neighborhood. Sadly, the white fluff is a bit late for Christmas, but I suppose New Year's Eve will do just fine.

Isn't my purple mug pretty? It's a new favorite. A nifty mug takes tea drinking to a whole new level. Thank you, Maddie.

The dawning of 2009 shall no doubt bring on resolutions and new outlooks. Whatever you're dreaming about... I hope it comes true.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Fascination

"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume."
Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI

I never thought I'd do it. To be honest, I tried my best to avoid jumping on the bandwagon. However, here I am, totally engrossed in a series of books about vampires. If only I could spend a few days in Bella's world.

Right before Christmas vacation, I was approached by a few former students who wondered weather or not I read the "Twilight" series of books. I immediately went into my speech about how I don't enjoy vampires and how i prefer real-life, believable stories. After much explaining, coaxing, and promising that the stories were not jam packed with fangs, blood, and full moons, I decided that I'd give the first book a try. I was quick to say that I'd try the book, and that if I didn't like it, I wouldn't finish it.

It's official, I'm totally and utterly infatuated with Bella and Edward and the town of Forks. I finished "Twilight" in two short days, and am currently lost in "New Moon."

What adventures will the Cullen clan take me on this afternoon? ...mmm.... I'm making some tea and settling in.

Magical Holidays

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

My, oh my, how the Christmas season sneaks upon us, and then, in the blink of an eye, it's finished. I'm always sad to see it go.

This year proved another magical adventure. I think it was the first time I've really cried over Christmas presents. With the crazy spending and the unapprecation and the the self-infatuation so many people appear to possess, I was sincerely touched by the trinkets I received this year. Allow me to take you on a mental field-trip to my 6th grade classroom....

Room 11 was buzzing with excitement. The kiddos stumbled into our room, carrying treats and presents for their favorite friends and teachers. I always think it's cute how they walk in the door, and before taking off their coats or backpacks, thrust their present in my face and command, "Open it!" They are full of anticipation and pride; it really is the cutest thing.

I always talk about my life to my students. Some might say this is excessive, but I believe it helps them see me as a person and allows us to build relationships, trust, and respect. Apparently they listen-- a very difficult task for 11 and 12 year olds... Somehow between the note passing, the thoughts drifting through their adolescent minds, and the annoying hum of computers and overhead projectors, my words make their way into their ears.

This year I received presents that meant the world to me. Not because they were expensive or fancy, but because they contained thought...something so lacking in today's world. They gave me bottles of vanilla scented lotion, coffee from Starbucks, pretty purple tea cups (my favorite color), boxes of flavored teas... And, after each present I opened, as they stood beside me with twinkling eyes, they would say, "It's your favorite color!" or "I know you love tea!" or "I thought you could make this coffee while you read books over vacation!" Now how sweet is that?

Perhaps the most touching gift of all came from a student who had nothing to give. You see, I try to make it a habit of fussing over the kids' clothes, hair, accessories, etc. I feel it helps give them a positive self-image... Anyway, I always made a big deal over a headband that one of my students wears. It's black plastic with a rainbow of butterflies all over it- very cute. I always told her how adorable it was, I even tried it on a time or two and twirled around the room. Well, guess what I got for Christmas? The headband. Not a new one that she went out and bought, hers. A true gift from the heart.

And, then I cried. I cried because my students are wonderful little adults who I hope will someday make a positive mark on this world. Sweet...simple and sweet....

Alright, we have returned from the field trip. My dear parents also made me the most amazing picture collage of my favorite place, Stone Harbor, NJ. They spent time on their vacation going around snapping all kinds of images and capturing tons of past happy memories. I cried...a gift of I will treasure forever. I love handmade presents.

I got a new lens for my camera- hooray! My brother got me a nifty apron from Williams- Sanoma and a Rachel Ray cookbook (I'm very excited to try some new recipes). Chad-o was a sweetie and surprised me with a manicure and pedicure at a local salon, and the Suter crew supplied me with a personalized cake pan and the newest installment of WBI cookbooks. I really am a lucky girl.

Christmas was filled with all the goodness of home. Chad-o and I spent time with my family on Christmas day and his on Christmas Eve. We talked, ate, watched Clark Grizwald attempt to work his magic with lights, laughed, and relaxed.

I'll leave you with some yummy, traditional Kaufman family cookies. The red,white, and green ones are my all-time favorite, and the nut-rolls are to die for. You can almost taste the ice-cream that's in the dough.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weekly Bread no.2- Chai Spice Latte

"Bread is like dressed, hats and shoes -- in other words, essential!"
Emily Post

After hearing of my new bread baking fascination, my dear sister-in-law, Kami, gave me two adorable mini-loaf pans. Unable to resist my urge spend time in baking land, I spent the evening trying a new recipe. I officially present Weekly Bread no. 2- Chai Spice Latte...complete with a whipped topping!

I also drove around and gazed at Christmas lights. Naturally, I took my camera with me. For whatever reason, I decided to hold it out the window and take a few shots as I drove along. This photo was taken along Main Street in Somerset.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things...

It's been a few days since my last blog entry, but you'll have to excuse me; I've been a very busy girl. I've been coveting some quality writing time, but the more days that pass me by, the more I wonder where to start. Then, tonight while taking a scalding hot shower, I began to hum a comforting, familiar little tune. I decided to make a list of my favorite things that have happened since last we met.

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things...

*Family Time- I spent Saturday baking Christmas cookies with my adorable nieces and sisters. The oven may have broken, and some random people called about a crane, but it was fabulous. I love my Ella, Ava, Kami, Megan, and Linda.

Sunday was spent with Jossie and Ace as we watched the Steelers game and warmed up with hearty bowls of chili. The fireplace was blazing, the black and gold emerged victorious, and the Christmas tree topped off the cozy, warm atmosphere.

*Having Goals- Recently my pal Melissa and I decided to run a half-marathon. What possessed us to willingly run 13.1 miles is beyond me, but the process is invigorating. I thrive on competition and am thrilled to have Melissa pushing me and holding me accountable. I love her-- even if she did make me run at a 4.5 incline tonight.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things...

*Evelyn- My Thursday and Friday morning coffee treat wouldn't be nearly as wonderful if it weren't for this kind, spirited woman. Always bright with a smile and a word of cheer, she is as important to my morning as the caffeine jolt.

*Vacation- My hubband so rarely takes the time to relax and be still. However, there is something about the land of lights that provides him this simple indulgence. As usual, we spent Thanksgiving in Las Vegas. It was a fantastic getaway, and I loved watching him soak up the pleasures of the city. He's like a kid at's the sweetest thing. It was great to roam, eat at yummy restaurants, dress in fancy clothes, and win big! Coming home from Vegas in the green is always a plus.

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad...

*My Homeroom Kids- I'm blessed. I have a wonderful job that I love and a room full of sweet, blossoming children. I returned from the holiday break to hugs, colored pictures of Charlie T., a hand copied recipe for Amish Friendship bread (so sweet- you should see it!), and little ones asking me how my vacation was. I saw excitement in the eyes of successful hunters, listened to numerous stories, and even had kids tell me that they missed me. It truly touched my heart.

*Gracie- Ever since I started working at my current job, I've had a peculiar relationship with a little girl named Grace. Grace first appeared in my room 2 years ago when she was a tiny, frightened kindergarten student. I have no idea why we connected, but somehow we formed a friendship. Every morning she comes be-bopping into 6th grade. She always carries a trinket- a stuffed animal, a plastic figurine, a seashell. I love this girl...she truly is precious.

The other day, she came strolling in, tears streaming down her face, and told me a story about how some older kids on the bus were calling her a baby-kindergartner. Being a big, bad, second grader, you can imagine how upsetting this was. Then, at the end of her story she just wiped her eyes, smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "Oh well, Miss Kaufman. It's okay. God's always right beside you."
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