Friday, January 29, 2010

You Pregnant? Me either...but IF you are (or thinking to be eventually...)

One of the classes that I'm taking is Developmental Child Psychology - sounds interesting, right?  It kinda is, but sometimes I wonder why I'm taking this class (again) for my Reading Specialist certification.  With that feeling set aside, the 2 chapters that we read for last night's class were all about conception (what could happen to the fetus while in womb that could effect it later) and then birth.  While reading this, there were all sorts of cool statistics and facts that I thought everyone should really know, not just those required to take the course, so I'm going to share with you some of the things that I found to be the coolest :)

There is no rhyme nor reason - just the ones I thought were neat-o skeet-o...

-The Lamaze childbirth technique uses breathing and muscle relaxation exercises to teach women how to manage the pain of labor and delivery (I know, I know, we all already knew this) BUT what I thought was interesting: Mothers who choose to take Lamaze classes experience shorter labor, require less medication, and are less stressed and more positive about the birth experience.

-Women who are anxious and under emotional stress during pregnancy also tend to have infants who are physically more active in utero.  After their birth, these infants tend to be hyperactive and irritable, to cry more, and to have feeding and sleep problems, and they are less attentive at 8 months than other babies.  What to learn from this: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." - Philippians 4:6

-In one study, when pregnant women were under severe life stresses, those with supportive relatives and friends had only a 33% rate of complications in pregnancy and childbirth compared with 91% rate for women lacking social support.  LOVE and SUPPORT YOUR PREGNANT FRIENDS!  That means we should all love Mandy Stone and Anne Warnick...oops!  Sorry Anne!

-Safe conception ages range from 20-40; anything earlier or later than that is more susceptible to higher risks (35 year old mothers frequency of delivering a baby with Down Syndrome: 1/385; 40 year old mothers: 1/100; 45 year old mothers: 1/40 - wow. scary)

-Researchers have compiled evidence for differences in newborn temperament among children of different ethnicities and races.  For instance, Chinese American babies, in contrast to European American and Irish infants, have been described as generally calmer, easier to console, more able to quiet themselves after crying, and faster to adapt to external stimulation or changes.  What does this mean?  That Jen and Ben Brzinski's baby will be much calmer and easier to console than the Warnicks could ever hope for their own baby. :-D

-A higher rate of developmental problems appears in later life among children described by their mothers as difficult babies.  Why?  There are 2 factors that may contribute: 1st is a more "difficult" or less malleable child is likely to find it harder to adapt to environmental demands and so is more prone to stress and the toll it takes on emotional well-being.  2nd reason (which is REALLY sad) is that a child with a difficult temperament is more likely to cause adverse reactions from other people and thus suffer the psychological damage caused by social rejection (one of which is parental irritability.YIKES!)

That's all I've got on this.  I realize that I'm a little bit sporadic in my blogging and that's due to my procrastination causing stressful catching up in my classes.  I'm ending that cycle TODAY so plan on hearing a lot more out of me in the near, near future :).  Bye for now Blogland!

Go Girl!

Every girl needs one of these...just sayin'!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Crock Pot Lovers of the World - UNITE!

I always had a hidden love for my Crock Pot.  The desire to use it often was always right below the surface, and yet I never did for 2 reasons.  1) I was always only cooking for myself, and a Crock Pot doesn't make a single serving meal and b) My old Crock Pot wasn't digit - it had a dial so I could choose between Warm, Low or High and when I turned it on, I couldn't gauge or manage how long it cooked.  This proved to be a problem when my schedule was so inconsistent and I would get home later than I thought causing my pot roast to be dry, the potatoes to be mushy and for everything to smell WAY better than it tasted.
When Stephen and I registered I did not think it was frivolous to register for a new Crock Pot, this time for one that was digital so that I could control the cooking...and I'm SO HAPPY I DID!

There she is, in all her glory!  Let me tell you, she has been may saving cooking grace these past couple of weeks as I have started grad school!  My class schedule is, unfortunately, all night classes.  I go to class 3 days a week from 5-8...ugh!  What was a girl to do regarding dinner (one of my professors won't let us bring food into the class)?!  Because I use public transportation I must leave the apartment at 3:45pm to go wait for the bus in order to make it to class in sound time.  NO ONE wants to eat dinner at 3:30, and besides that what about Stephen?!  So I've been grocery shopping with this guy by my side:

This book has enabled Stephen and I to still eat a healthy, homemade and cheaper meal those three nights out of the week.  I've made a handful of recipes out of here, but last night's was Stephen's (and mine) favorite recipe...White Chicken Chili...YUM (sorry Shave!)!!!  Because I recognize that not everyone has this cookbook, I am going to provide this recipe for you and I encourage, I INSIST that you make this for your loved ones this wintry season - it is so tasty!  If you make it and find that you have a recipe for it and it's better than this one, I'd love to have it - I LOVE WHITE CHICKEN CHILI!!!

Here's what you need:
*3 15-oz cans Great Northern beans, drained *8 oz cooked and shredded chicken breasts (see my note regarding this below) *1 cup chopped onions *1 1/2 cups chopped yellow, red, or green bell peppers *2 jalapeno chili peppers stemmed, seeded and chopped (I did not use these, but I am considering using a can of chopped green chilies next time) *2 garlic cloves minced (2 tsp of minced garlic) *2 tsp ground cumin *1/2 tsp salt *1/2 tsp dried oregano *3 1/2 cups chicken broth (I would add more - when I made it, it wasn't soupy enough for us) *I added a chicken bouillon cube - you be the judge for yourself *sour cream *shredded cheddar cheese *tortilla chips

Here's what you do:
1. Combine all ingredients except sour cream, cheddar cheese and chips in the slow cooker.
2. Cover.  Cook on Low 8-10 hours, or High 4-5 hours (I cooked mine on high for 4.5 hours)
3. Ladle into bowls and top individual servings with sour ream, cheddar cheese, and chips

***Note regarding cooking and shredding your chicken:
I had always thought that shredding chicken was so intimidating - NOPE!  Here's what I did:  I used 2 large chicken breasts for this and had plenty.  I took the raw chicken and cut it into fat strips (cooks quicker) and cooked it on my stove top using a little bit of EVOO; salting and peppering it while cooking.  I cooked it, flipped it and made sure that it was cooked through.  Once it was finished, I took the individual strips and put them on my cutting board and went to town on it using 2 forks.  Because it was just finished and still warm, it was tender and I was able to get great shreds out of it.  I was so impressed with myself ;)

Make it, taste it, love it and tell me about it!  (I'm not tootin' my own horn, this isn't my recipe - it's Esther Martin from Ephrata, Pa - Esther, you've done it again!)

p.s. I feel like I will be frequenting this's called Crock Pot 365...Yes sir!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Puppy Love

It's a problem.  I've had to live with it for the past 8 years.  It's become an ache that I can't quiet...I don't know what to do.  I've resorted to blogging about it.  Maybe this blog will help quiet my desire for a few more years.  I just have to let it out.
Stephen and I had the privilege of hanging out with our friends last night, Mike and Amanda.  These two people are very cool and I love to get together with Amanda and pick her brain.  Before she married Mike and moved to Chicago she lived in the sticks of Illinois and rode & trained horses.  She LOVES horses and wishes she could have one, but anyone who's been to Chicago knows that there just isn't enough room in your driveway (or you may not have a driveway at all) to park a horse.  Soooooooooo she decided to get a dog and try her training skills on a pooch.  Let me tell you, her dogs are SO well behaved and they know so many different commands.  She started out with a miniature schnauzer (I grew up with these types of dogs) named Bennett.  Things were going so well with Bennett (he knows an absurd amount of commands and it shows).  After Bennett she decided she wanted a challenge so they got a new dog (and I can't begin to tell you what kind of a dog it is, but he's big) named Princeton.  Bennett and Princeton are A LOT OF FUN!  Bennett loves attention and Princeton doesn't know the definition of personal space, but I DON'T CARE!  I would let him sit on my lap if I could :)  Last night I got to meet both of them and I was instantly in love and it awoke the cries of my puppy loved heart... 

I'd also like to take a moment to give a shout-out to my nephew, Moses:

Moses is a fun loving, full of energy, crazy, quirky mutt puppy that my sister adopted the day after Stephen and I got married.  He loves to run around my parent's house and harass someone else I'd like you to meet...

The greatest thing about this picture is that THOSE AREN'T HER EARS...those are a part of the elf hat!  I must say that this hat did change her demeanor, but it was definitely worth all the fun we had with it...

I'm sorry to just go on and on and on and on and on, but I guess it's just because

Here is a dog that I would go out and get tomorrow...a lab mutt:

This is Abby...she is Stephen's family dog.  They went down to the Humane Society and found a lab mutt that suited their fancy and let me tell you she is absolutely great!  I would love one of her - or two please!  Do you notice a trend?

Do you want a dog????  What kind would you like?  Do you have a dog?  What kind?  Help quiet my aching puppy loved heart!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I love birthdays and I love my best friend...

 Last weekend, 2 of my best friends (Donielle and Laura) came to Chicago despite the cold and snow to see me!  Not only did I get the privilege of hanging out with them, but I also got the privilege of hanging out with Doni on her special day...her birthday!  Because I knew Doni had sacrificed hanging out with anyone else on her day so she could hang out with me, I wanted to make it extra I made one of these!  It was fun to make and it something that I know I will enjoy getting out and hanging for all the birthday festivities of family and friends.  Interested in making one?  It's super cheap, super easy and super's how:

You will need: *paper letters *scrapbook paper *poster board *rubber cement *Mod Podge *ribbon *scissors *sponge brush *ruler
1. I went to Shabby Princess and downloaded the letters.
2. I went to Microsoft Word and imported each letter.  They were really big (took up the entire page) when I imported them, but I kept them that large (will explain later).
3. After I had imported all 13 letters, I had 13 pages according to Microsoft Word.
4.  Before I printed I went to File-->Print-->Layout-->and changed the pages per sheet from 1 to 4.  This way when I printed 4 letter came out to a page making it a total of 4 pages total.
5.  I cut out each individual letter.
6. I went to Hobby Lobby (my drug of choice) and picked out different scrapbook paper that I loved.  In this case I decided to go with the theme of Polka Dots and do a variety of colors - who doesn't love the rainbow?!
7. I cut my scrapbook paper to my desired size (enough to border the cut out letter when I glued them on there)
8. I then rubber cemented each piece of scrapbook paper to poster board.  Once this dried, I cut the poster board out (this ensured the durability of each piece).
9. I rubber cemented each letter to each piece, eyeballing it to go in the middle.
10. I took Mod Podge and covered each letter (again, to ensure the durability of the sign).
11. I used a pair of scissors and "drilled" a hole (1 in each side) of the letters so that I could knot some ribbon in there.
12. I eyeballed the length of ribbon needed for in between each letter.
13. I hung it up and had birthday festivities with it! :)
***I think this can go without being said but this could work for anything - you could make a Christmas or Thanksgiving "banner" to rehang year after year.

I also was DYING to try something else out so I did it!  I made a rainbow cake!  Who better to make a rainbow cake for than my best friend Donielle who is like a rainbow, SO FULL OF COLOR!

Here is where I got the idea and you can find the step by step instructions there, but I will provide them for you here so you don't have to go there unless you're interested in the Weight Watchers version of it.  This was NOT an original idea, although it was SUPER fun to do!

So here is what you need:
*1 box of white cake mix
*all the ingredients for your cake mix (follow the box)
*food coloring (I just bought the regular, run of the mill coloring from the grocery store).
*6 small bowls (you'll have 6 different colors of batter)

First, you simply mix your cake as if you were making an average, everyday cake...

You then get out your 6 different bowls and divvy up your batter as equal as possible...

You then use your food coloring to color each individual batter bowl it's assigned color - I did red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  They sell food coloring in neon colors so you could do a neon rainbow if you wish.  I just followed the back of the food coloring box to try to get the shade I was going for...

You then take your 2 well greased circular cake pans (I used 8" pans) and you pour your batter in.  In the 1st pan I poured half of each color in going in the order of the rainbow: 1/2 of the red batter, 1/2 of the orange, then yellow, then green, then blue and then purple.  In the 2nd pan I poured the rest of the batter only I went in the opposite color direction starting with purple, then blue, green, yellow, orange and then red...

Lastly, after they had cooled completely, I leveled off 1 of them and stacked them as normal and then iced them with Doni's favorite icing (appropriately: Rainbow Chip), making her think that I had made her normal Fun-Fetti birthday cake as she gets every year...

I then waited to surprise her with her colorful cake....

....taste the rainbow!

I've linked up to: Keeping it Simple; It's So Very Cheri; Sumo's Sweet Stuff; The Girl Creative; Making the World Cuter; Between Naps on the Porch; Bird Crafts; Persimmon Perch; Tools are for Women Too; Under the Table and Dreaming; The DIY Showoff; Domestically Speaking; C.R.A.F.T.; Hope Studios; All Thingz Related; Tip Junkie; Sugar Bee; Lucky Star Lane; Today's Creative Blog; My Delicious Ambiguity; The Gypsys Corner; New Nostalgia; Dirty Hands, Beautiful Life; Seven-Thirty-Three; Me and My Bucket; The Trendy Treehouse; My Backyard Eden; Blue Cricket Design; Someday Crafts; The Thrifty Home; Bobbypins Boardwalk; Sew Much Ado; Santa's Gift Shoppe; Somewhat Simple; Life as Lori; The Shabby Chic Cottage; House of Hepworths; The Train to Crazy; Fireflies and Jellybeans; The Shabby Nest; It's a Hodgepodge Life; Someday Crafts; Fun to Craft; A Few of My Favorite Things; Home is Where My Story Begins; Tidy Mom; Chic on a Shoestring Decorating; Decor Mama; Fingerprints on the Fridge; Kojo Designs; Tatertots and Jello; Funky Junk Interiors; Along for the Ride; Under the Table and Dreaming; I Heart Naptime with Chocolate Sundaes

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Around the World in 80 Days? {I wish...}

visited 18 states (36%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

There it is - a map showing all the states that I have been to. Looks like I'm partial to the east coast. I hope that the states out west don't catch onto this and start to get jealous - that could really hurt my chances with having an adventurous time there. I really LOVE to travel! I know that there are TONS of European countries that I would love to visit, however there are A LOT of American states that have been neglected by my travels. I would love to have visited all of the 50 states (in a quality visit) before I die. I was first introduced to this handy little gadget by my friend Jen's blog but you can play around with your travels by going HERE.

As you can tell by yesterday's post, one of my resolutions for the New Year is to visit at least 3 different states besides KY or IL. I would like to think that I will visit some states that I've never been to, although I know that at least 2 of those 3 will probably be states that I've already been to. A girl can always dream that she'll get to visit some much desirable locations:
Boston, MA - Are you kidding?! Of course I wanna go here - it was the start of the Revolutionary War!
Seattle, Washington
Portland, Oregon
COLORADO - I want to REALLY get to go skiing!
New England - name a state there and I'm in!
New Mexico
Texas - I've heard you're not supposed to mess with Texas...I'm ready for a challenge :).

On another note, I stumbled upon a blog yesterday that I feel really captures my personality and all the things I would love to be able to do. I feel like this gal and I could be bffaots ("What does a.o.t. stand for, Kari?" Oh, thats simple - Apart Or Together). Allow yourself some time to get lost HERE and enjoy all the colorful adventures that my new bffaot has :).

I must go prepare for the arrival of 2 of my best friends tomorrow in the AM! :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Hello 2010!

Happy New Year!  I did it.  I made my salmon.  It was delicious!  Stephen and I both enjoyed it, although my kitchen did not.  You should've seen it (too bad I didn't take a picture) - the clean up was a killer, but all worth it none-the-less.  I'm looking forward to all the different things that 2010 will bring.  2009 was a good year to me, why wouldn't 2010 be also?  Here is a bit of a reminiscent of what 2009 brought me:
*I was a teacher loving every minute of my job and feeling the blessings in how I felt about my coworkers and my place of employment *I was a Young Life leader and had amazing fellowship in my community as well as was stretched by God to see How All Powerful and Majestic His ways are *I went skiing *I went t0 St. Augustine, Florida and enjoyed a wonderful family vacation *I took 60 12 year olds and their parents to Washington, D.C. a trip that I planned and was completely in charge of *The D.C. trip was a success! *I watched a classroom of 28 pieces of my heart "graduate" and said goodbye to my job at GSE *I celebrated with some of my best friends as they graduated from high school and prayed that God would protect their future *I teary-eyed said goodbye to my amazing Lexington community and moved back home with my parents *I began a deep sisterhood with my parent's dog, Rosie *I changed my name when I married my best friend and high school heart throb *I traveled to St. Lucia and wished I could live there 2 months out of the year *I took up residency in Illinois *I applied and was accepted into grad-school *I officially became an Aunt *I ended the year with all my dear KY friends in my heart amongst my new Chicago family...I am blessed beyond belief.

New Years resolutions have never been my "thing".  Maybe it's because I've never been disciplined enough to keep them.  However, this year I feel like I should throw in a little self determination and beat myself at my own game.  These resolutions are ones that I welcome accountability...I pray that with God's help I show my weak self who's boss!

I hope you're challenging yourself to go above and beyond this new year.  Feel free to share any thoughts or suggestions to my resolutions - what about you?  What are some of your's?