Monday, January 31, 2011


It's cold outside! On this icy Kansas day I avoided being outside at all costs and spent the day in my kitchen. Who would've thought? I was originally going to spend the day in the classroom but a quick school cancellation changed that plan. My mother stayed home from work today as well, so we spent some time together in the kitchen. 

First creation: Mostly fat-free vegan cinnamon buns, adapted from Happy Herbivore blog. We started out with the recipe from Happy Herbivore and then we altered the final product just a bit. I happened to have a container of sticky bun filling/topping in the fridge so we went ahead and made the fat-free vegan cinnamon buns some slightly fatty topped with nuts sticky buns. 

All vegan here:

Topping that makes it not so vegan or fat-free:

Finished product of gooey somewhat healthier sticky buns!

Second creation: Sweet Potato Gnocchi, from Kath Eats Real Food blog. Gnocci is definitely something I've been wanting to try in quite a while. It was surprisingly simple and after eating two different methods, it is quite tasty. Typical Gnocchi is made with a heavy creamy cheese sauce which would be swimming in fat, cholesterol, and calories, so we went with the simpler, lighter method. Kath serves her gnocchi with steamed kale. Since we were fresh out of that we used spinach. Honestly, it was a little lame and I'm not a big fan of wilted spinach. 

So then I went for the salad method with gnocchi, sheep feta cheese, dried blueberries, roasted almonds, and a delightful orange vinaigrette. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Home on the Range

In honor of my home state of Kansas birthday, I participated in the singing of "Home on the Range" many times last week. As the state song, Home on the Range, describes much of the way of life for Kansans long ago. As I sang it with the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade music students in Chapman, I began to actually think about the words for a moment.

"O give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day." It was most interesting to discuss what that means to seldom hear a discouraging word. One student thought that might be we don't put others down with our words. Brilliant! That's just it. There are several other verses in the song that speak of not giving up the plains and open prairies for the city lights. Of marveling at the stars and the clear air. These are the things that I so often resonate with. I do love this home on the range and it really has changed a lot since it was first discovered and written about.

Today I have been struggling through my attitude towards this earthly place I inhabit and my anticipation of eternity. As much as I love this earthly home I must never become comfortable and forget that it is so very temporary. I must keep my eyes on the prize, the inheritance we are to receive as we live and follow Christ.

I Peter 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you

Rejoicing in the beauty of this temporary home on the range and looking forward to the far greater inheritance in Christ - Amanda

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I am so very blessed. Blessed with fabulous friends and for that I am thankful. Today I had the amazing opportunity to hang out with my dear old high school friend, Jamie. She is leaving for South America in a few short weeks so I was really glad that we got the chance to hang out. Jamie and I share many life interests, among them food and chocolate, today we tackled both. We managed to concoct some crazy, ridiculous, heart attack in a pot, potato soup. To go along with some weird cheese bread twists, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate truffles. 

I also was blessed to spend time with another dear newer friend, Ryan. He is one of the coolest kids around because he willingly came out on a cold winter evening to teach me how to change my oil. We got under the car together and did you know what......changed the oil! It's actually super easy after you pry off the filter. The scariest part was driving my car up this make-shift ramp we created out of boards. It worked well! Now hopefully I can remember all that wisdom Ryan just gave me the next time I need an oil change. 

Thank you Lord, for blessing me with fabulous people in my life. I am so blessed to have old and new friends that choose to spend time with me! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

daily lessons

Today I managed to learn a few lessons while substituting at Junction City High School. I subbed for an English class and I was actually kinda excited to maybe get to proof-read a few papers or offer pointers on grammar. Sadly, none of that happened but I was introduced to my second subbing experience and my first high school experience. Overall it was a good, easy day.

Reasons why I may enjoy high school more than elementary school:

  • No students whined about their ailing finger, shoulder, toe, foot, stomach all day long
  • More interesting, unique clothing styles to observe
  • They generally do their classwork all by themselves
  • I get to read Crazy Love during class and students remark, "I love that book!"
  • There are new students each period
  • I got a planning period and a lunch period combined for a total of a 2 hour break time mid-day!
Today I did not confuse a small boy for a girl. However, I did do something slightly similar. I was looking at a seating chart with pictures and first glance the picture looked like a boy so I said, "Are we missing a Mr. Jones?" Said Jones person was in the wrong seat. Turns out this Jones person was a girl. Oops. Moving right along.

Today at school I learned:
  • The movie/play "A Raisin in the Sun" is fabulous! We watched the second half of the movie in 1st period and I really enjoyed it. It was the first play written by a black woman as well as directed by a black man on Broadway in 1959. It features issues of poverty, generational gap, and racism set pre-1950's in South Chicago. 
  • Never send more than one girl to the bathroom at a time. I don't know why I was so dumb, but they really do a great job at making it sound like emergency. 
  • Not much has changed; there is still really awkward PDA in the hallways.
  • Occasionally over the intercom you hear, "Please do not allow any students into the hallway." This time a little while later we heard dogs barking and then the classroom beside us was asked to leave their coats and exit the room. Cool kids don't do drugs!
  • JCHS is really not so bad after all. Growing up at the school next door, we were filled with this crap that it was an inferior, bad school. I had several students in my class that transferred to Chapman because their parents didn't want them in that school. Obviously I have changed a lot since high school, but I really enjoyed my day at JCHS. For one, I appreciate diversity a whole lot more now than I used to. I think diversity is key to giving children well rounded lives. I also think that if we're so sheltered from the outside world while growing up, then life is very difficult later. I wouldn't trade my days of youth for anything, but I would say that I hope my children have a lot more interaction than I did with diversity. I hope that they don't have such a closed minded idea of others outside their normal sphere of influence.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I've been thinking about blogging for most of the afternoon now. Pondering about what to write about as there is much on my mind. My typical blog posts have something to do with what I've accomplished or done in a day and although this is great, today I have felt the need to write about not accomplishments but to express some of the thoughts going on in my mind. This blog is definitely a means of expressing myself, yet rarely do I take the time to just detail the thoughts behind why I live this life.

This afternoon I was blessed to receive a piece of mail. This may seem trivial, but actually receiving a hand written message from a friend has amazing healing and encouraging powers. Do you know what I'm talking about? If not, then maybe you just don't have as awesome friends as I do, sorry. (If that is the case, give me your address, I would love to send you some mail!)

Today I received a letter written on the back of a kids worksheet you would get at a restaurant. So fun! My 24 year old friend can successfully count to 60, complete a dinosaur crossword, and help the dino go the party on the second try. I'm proud. She also has an amazing gift of writing and loving people like Jesus. As I write this I am reminded of Hebrews 10:23-25. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in he habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 

I am so very encouraged by her work at the Catholic Worker in LA, and I want to share the words she writes. Although it definitely took a couple of passes over her handwriting to comprehend her words, I am definitely encouraged by her life from so far away.

She writes: "My two favorite things about the Hippie Kitchen is all the people I get to meet (this is coming from an introvert!) and the fact that I get to share my music with them. I mean some days are hard; some times it's hard to be always a servant, always smiling and compassionate towards the homeless, as well as my fellow community members, but I can't imagine another way. I can't imagine my life in any other context than serving the poor, living in community, and living out the radical gospel of Jesus Christ."

Enough said. Imagine if more of us were able to grasp that the gospel of Jesus is definitely radical, pushing boundaries and comfort zones. Obviously all our lives look different and because we are a part of the body of Christ we can rejoice with each other in suffering for the Gospel. I am thoroughly encouraged, inspired, and challenged by my friends life and hope and pray that we can learn from each other, encourage one another, and never be comfortable with status quo.

Thanks Alecia. Hope you don't mind my sharing. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

got cake?

Yesterday I was allowed the awesome opportunity to make a really simple cute wedding cake. At the beginning of the planning period I was going to make a three tiered cake with two sheet cakes for the wedding, but when it came down to business time I was only on the gig for a small two tiered cake. One hour into the cake production I was very happy to be downsized. Nothing usually goes right on the first try in my baking world, so smaller is definitely better. I went with my classic white cake that I've done many times before. It's not my favorite to bake because the process is a little intensive, but the results are always fabulous tasting.

Just a little peak in my bake lab world. Once again, I'm very blessed to have such resources at my fingertips!

Another fabulous detail about this cake is that the florist is creating arrangements to put on it. I don't have to worry about that either so decorating is super simple.

I'm still trying to figure out the settings on this camera. It's amazing how the light can make the buttercream look yellow.

The best part of this wedding cake day was when the groom came to pick up the cake which meant no agonizing delivery driving. Delivery is seriously one of the most nerve wrecking parts of the whole experience. Thank you Groom! 
Wedding cake #8 complete!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Tuesday I had my very first experience substitute teaching. I've had an emergency substitute teaching license for over a year now and am just now getting around to starting my subbing career. Living in the middle of nowhere I have not had the most ample amount of opportunities. Nonetheless my first experience was in a second grade classroom in Junction City, Kansas. As I filled out my response experience questions I wrote, I have nothing to compare this experience to, so I'm giving it five stars!

The children were mostly excellent. Except for the few compulsive complainers, I would say they were adequately behaved children. My favorite quote of the day was the first interaction I had upon entrance into the classroom.

A nice second grade girl says, "You have short hair."

"Yes," I replied, "I do have short hair."


"Because I like short hair."

"You have hair like my sister," she says.

"Oh, fun. You have a sister with short hair!"

"Yeah, she's one. She's a baby."

"Oh that's great!" I have hair like a baby. It's official, second graders say whatever they want and this one doesn't think my short hair is appropriate for my age. Hilarious.

My other funny story of the day was an example of what not to do. Do not assume children with long hair are females. I most definitely confused a young boy with long hair for a girl. When I addressed him as a her, I was quickly corrected from another student apart of the conversation. "He's not a girl." Insert foot in mouth Amanda.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Today I made a fabulous discovery. We have another chicken laying! I found the most beautiful giant pale green/olive egg. It really did make my day. I'm trying to figure out these chickens. When chickens first start laying their eggs are usually much smaller, so the fact that this egg is big tells me that maybe this chicken was laying before we got her and has been holding out on us. We got these five chickens at an auction so we had no idea how old they were. When chickens are moved they experience stress and usually don't start laying for a bit after they acquaint themselves in their new surrounding. Well I'm thinking that it's taken about four months for this to happen. Jerks. We now have three out of the six chickens laying. I was just starting to really doubt those hens, until I saw the beautiful egg....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time hanging out in public. I am thankful for how we are all different people created with different shapes, sizes, personalities, styles, dialects, and moods. This makes life so much more interesting. A few observations and interactions that stick out in my mind.

  • I attended a training as a new substitute teacher in the Geary County School system. The girl sitting beside me told me that I looked like I would be a fun substitute teacher. Thanks. Must be my short crazy hair and scarf?
  • At the same training I watched as two newly graduated educators filled out paperwork. Female is having some difficulty filling out the paper. Male steps in and instructs her through the entire stack of papers. Okay put your name and date there. Really? I'm thinking this girl has an education degree and she can't fill out her name and date on her own?
  • I went to the Junction City Public Library for the first time yesterday as well. I chose a nice seat in a semi-comfy chair and noticed a man taking a nice nap. He had a pile of stuff beside him and was stretched out with his head resting against a jacket, serving as pillow, against the wall. I thought in this situation, this guy is taking a serious nap in the library, funny. Then I remembered some of my best naps in college where right in Hale Library after I found an empty couch to lay out on. After reading for about 30 minutes, I hit the wall of sleepiness and then joined the 3 gentlemen at that time in public library nap-time. Quality.
  • Right before nap-time, this lady came up to me and asked if I had a bible. When I responded yes, she asked what kind of bible I had. I noticed that she was holding a bible as well and asked about hers. Then she asked if I went to church. I responded yes once again and told her where I went. It was an interesting encounter and I wonder if I had said no to any of the questions if she was planning on sharing the gospel with me. Moral of the story, why don't I do that more often? Walk up to random people in public and ask about their bible, version, and church. Why isn't that normal?
  • While waiting to get my TB skin test shot at the health department I observed children in the waiting room. Why is it that children can so easily interact with other strange children in a waiting room, playing with toys, fighting over toys, having fun, while parents sit on opposite sides of the room, avoid eye contact, and stare at their children making new friends? Weird.
  • Once again I am reminded of the serious issue involving our country's supermarkets. I was saddened while in the grocery store to observe a couple with their three small children proceed through the check out line. They had three carts full of stuff and I think maybe a third of the merchandise had real nutritional value. The issue is this: cheap calories have no nutritional value therefore you must buy more of them to fill you up. But even when you buy more of them they are still cheaper than the alternative, healthful food. Most of the time. For example, one might be able to buy 2 gallons of soda for the same price of one gallon of milk. It's really just mind boggling, because have no idea what they are buying or what they are putting in their bodies. And then when our health care is completely out of control we wonder what went wrong, how do we solve the problem? Hmmm...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day!

Recently as I was looking back through my blog posts I noticed that a lot, probably the majority of my titles end in an exclamation point. I thought, "Really, am I that excited all the time?" Well this time the excitement is definitely necessary because we got the first real snow storm of the year and it finally feels like winter in Kansas. After I spent all day in the bake lab on Sunday I drove home to the beginning of the the snow fall. When I woke up Monday morning there was a fabulous blanket of snow and it kept coming. I think we have maybe 6 inches of snow out there? Anyway, Monday was a fabulous snow day and I had the amazing opportunity to enjoy it. I whipped out the camera and attempted to figure out features on the thing. Note to self, consider reading the manual and learning more about cameras. Anyway I hope you enjoy my experience of the first great snow day of the year!

The magical outdoor furnace that keeps us warm!

To finish off every great snow day one needs a giant pot of hearty soup! Take that single digits. I have soybean, green split pea, ham, onion, tomato, bell pepper, nutrient rich goodness!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cupcakes anyone?

I got a sweet gig making cupcakes for the Attorney General's Inauguration Celebration. Sweet gig, sweet cupcakes, haha. I was told I could do whatever I wanted, so I went ahead and tried out a few new formulas. This first would be Best Yellow Cake. I discovered they were not a high ratio cake, kinda surprising, this means that there is not more sugar than flour in the formula. In America, generally all cake you eat is high ratio with more sugar than flour by weight in the formula. We like sugar, enough said.

My second new formula was definitely a high ratio formula, but it was also all in one production. Meaning there was no creaming of the butter and sugar first and then the addition of liquid and dry ingredients. It was a little weird with the point of being easier to produce. It was not so ideal, without the creaming it's difficult to get in the necessary aeration which results in sweet cupcakes, but lacking in volume.

And we have my personal favorite, Powercat Cocoa Cake. Coffee makes all chocolate better!

I desperately tried to not make it look like a baby shower, but when you start coloring order to get a bright bold color one must add enough dye that it ends up tasting like junk. With that being said, they are rather pastel, but still taste like buttercream. 

That's 150 cupcakes ready to go on a fabulous Sunday evening. I sure hope the reception went well today even though I have a feeling the anticipated crowd might have been significantly reduced in size due to the snow.