Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stuff I Made

It only took me 12+ months, but I finally finished J's quilt.  Although I once again thought "Why did it take me so long?!", it was all worth it in the end.  It's all flannel with a handsewn binding & 'wonky crosshatch' quilting.  I even napped under it last week, and it earned 2 thumbs up.  

This is a twin sized quilt, and my machine is just not made for something this size.  I think I'm retiring from anything bigger than a baby quilt.  

J helped me make cookies......

I found THE soft caramel recipe!

Tried out a Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread recipe. 
Verdict: Good!

And made crock pot caramel with apples for neighbor gifts.  


What am I going to do with all my free time in January?! 

(good thing I have a handful of new books waiting in my Kindle)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


One of the MAJOR things that has happened this year is that we have gotten Husband's licensing DONE.

This. Is. Major. 

Licensing is important because it allows the Resident the option to begin moonlighting.  And because it's a kick-butt addition to a CV when you start looking for a j-o-b.

Before we started the process, I knew nothing about all the hoops we would have to jump through.  But I can tell you that I now feel like a bit of an expert.

Is it time consuming?




A lot of Hurry-Up-and-Wait?


Here's how it goes (this is specific to Ohio, so if you are a Resident from another state, the process/ paperwork will vary a bit).

Let me begin by saying that the whole process can easily take 6+ months to complete.  And that's if everyone is on the ball & all forms are completed correctly.  Add in some incomplete forms or a busy time of year, and you may be looking at 9 months. Plan accordingly & DON'T start this a month before you want to start moonlighting.
  1. FCVS On-line Application  
    1. This is your federal credentialing, and must be done prior to your state license application.  
    2. You have to send them a certified birth certificate or your passport.  If you send your passport, it's an extra $25 to have it sent back to you. 
    3. Time to process is 6-8 weeks.  Husband's took 6 weeks to complete.  
    4. Cost: $400 total - $350 for the application, $50 for your transcripts. 
  2. Criminal Background Check
    1. FBI, BCI, fingerprints. 
    2. Must be done in person; lots of locations to choose from.  
    3. Everything gets sent to the state medical board. 
    4. Time to process - about a week or two.  Everything gets linked to your state application, so you don't have to wait on anything. 
    5. Cost: $66
  3. Ohio Uniform Application
    1. Print out the application - all items must be mailed back unless otherwise noted.  
    2. A portion must be notarized.  Our bank did this for free. 
    3. You need at least 2 RECENT passport sized color photos.
    4. The AMA physician profile can be completed online. 
    5. 10-12 weeks to process.  Husband's took 4 weeks.
    6. Cost: $335, paid by check.
  4. DEA License
    1. Can't apply for this until your state license has been approved. 
    2. Application is online. 
    3. 4-6 weeks to process.  Husband's took 1 week. 
    4. License is good for 3 years.  
    5. Cost: $731
We began the process at the beginning of June, and completed it last week.  Because we didn't know how long it would actually take to process everything, we allowed ourselves LOTS of time before he would "need" his license.  We fully expected everything to take longer than it did - especially the DEA portion.  We did not move immediately from one step to the next.  Once the FCVS was done, we spent about a month+ on the state application.  Some of this was because it wasn't urgent, and some was because portions have to be completed by other people - specifically the Residency program, and the certificates of recommendation.  

Anyway, we are DONE with this, and it feels like another gigantic box checked off.  Whew!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Remiss + Christmas

My Husband pointed out the other day that I have been very much remiss in keeping up with my blog.

"Well, I just feel like I don't have much to say these days.  Stuff either doesn't feel important enough to share, or it feels a little too important to share, ya know?"

But again, he wisely reminded me that my original blogging intention was to be sort of a family journal.  And in that, I admit I have failed lately.   And I have plans to catch up and do a bit better in 2014.

Here goes.

First, we bought a real tree this year!!  We haven't had a real tree since we left Oregon.  Our apartment in Iowa didn't allow real trees (fire hazard), and since then we've either been tight on space or money, so we continued to use the fake tree I bought in 2007.  In last year's post-Christmas frenzy I picked up a sturdy tree stand, and have been plotting since then.

On Dec. 2 we went out as a family and chose our tree.  Back in Oregon, we used to do the tree farm, cut-your-own deal.   But this year, instead of Making Memories (aka calling everyone I know in the area to try and figure out where to go, then driving out, getting lost, tromping through the freezing mud, choosing an average tree & paying a heart-stopping amount), I chose to take us all down to Tractor Supply and randomly pick a tree from the stack out front.

And It. Is. GLORIOUS.  

That, my friends, is 7 1/2 feet of pure Christmas joy.   

We put it down in the family room, and it's so big that there is no room for a star, angel, or giant bow.  
Every time I walk downstairs, I smile.  
The smell is amazing.
And at night I like to turn off all the lights and just bask in the soft glow.
Best $20 I have spent in the last seven years!

And of course I had to get some silly Santa pictures in front of the tree.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Freezer Paper Tshirts

When we were prepping for our trip, I brought up the idea of making special Disney shirts for the kids. To my surprise, Husband was on board with the idea, and suggested we make them for all of us.  


After scouring Pinterest, I decided to try out Freezer Paper Shirts.  I had seen these for years, but never believed they would turn out well.  Fortunately, I was wrong!  They were really easy, and we all loved the finished product. 

Supplies needed: shirts, freezer paper, exacto knife, cutting mat, fabric paint, foam brushes. 

First, I found an image we all liked, and I sized it for both adult and kid shirts.  

Next, I taped it onto a cutting mat, then taped a piece of freezer paper over it (shiny side down).   I traced the design with a pencil, and then hand cut it with an exacto knife.  

Here is the finished stencil:

Then, I ironed the stencil onto the shirt, shiny side down (prewashed the shirt, and ironed it so it was nice & smooth). 

Finally, I applied 2 coats of black fabric paint with a foam brush and let it fully dry. I made sure to put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt so there would be no chance of the fabric bleeding through onto the back.  I actually cut up a frozen pizza box - the wax coated paper was the perfect layer to prevent bleed-through.  

When the paint was dry the stencil peeled off with no problems and all the lines were nice and crisp!

At the last minute we decided to add the date and the kids' names to the back of their shirts.  I downloaded a Disney-esque font for free, printed out the date & names, and hand cut the freezer paper stencils (be sure you keep the inside pieces when cutting letters/ numbers!!).  

I love how these turned out, and the kids are excited to have custom "souvenirs" of our trip.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Disney World: Logistics

This most recent trip is something we've been planning for about a year.  Because this was going to be a family reunion, with a group of 15, proper planning was in order, and I took that idea and ran with it.  I was glad that we had been once before, and knew a little bit of what was waiting for us.  I think the other people in our group really didn't understand what they were in for.

A Place to Stay: I am a big fan of staying on property.  Can you run to the corner store if you need to?  No.  (OK, you can take a taxi if you have to, but the resorts have most anything you really might need).  Is it the cheapest way to go?  Again, no, but I personally think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.  The bus system is so easy to use, and the Extra Magic Hours are priceless.  Plus, there is something special about being immersed in the experience.  On this trip we stayed at the All-Star Music resort, and it was perfectly suited for our needs.  We did not spend any real time there except to sleep.  And that was a good thing, because the dining area was swamped.  One of the other All-Star Resorts is remodeling their dining area, so all those guests were using ours.  Crazy!  That was the only real downside to this resort.  Oh, and even though all rooms at DW are now supposed to have fridges, we didn't.  There's been a problem with the compressors in the fridges, and they are in the process of swapping them out, so we did not have one in our room.  A bit of a bummer, but not a huge inconvenience for us.

Transportation: We flew into Orlando, and used the Magical Express Transportation.  It was easy, free, and got the job done.  The bus transportation in the park was just fine.  The only hiccup was Wednesday night when we - and about 9,000 other people - left the park near closing time.  We waited for about 45 minutes for a bus, and that was the longest all week.

Food:  We were fortunate in that we were able to book a package that gave us a free dining plan for all but one of our days at DW.  My family also chose to pay the upgrade to the Table Service plan (1 Quick Service, 1 Table Service, 1 snack), and I booked dining reservations exactly at the 6 month mark.  Even doing so, I was not able to secure a table at all the restaurants we wanted to eat at, BUT we did end up trying a few places that ended up being super cool.  I would highly recommend the Tusker House at Animal Kingdom, Whispering Canyon Cafe at The Wilderness Lodge (particularly if you have kids 10 and under), and we LOVED the Akershus experience at Epcot.  If we had NOT scored the dining plan, I would have placed an order with Garden Grocer & had food delivered to our room.  I imagine this would have taken care of breakfast, and either lunch or dinner.  Most of the meals at the parks are large enough that you can share or have your own & take the leftovers with you.  We have opted for the meal plan for both our trips, and I like it because I don't have to penny pinch and get stressed about who did or didn't eat their food.

Water: Florida water still tastes like pennies soaked in bleach, so we opted to bring Brita water bottles with us.  I paid $16 for 2 bottles that had filters in the lid, so we simply filled them from water fountains throughout the day and snapped them to our backpacks with carabiners.  Easy!

Crowds:  The November crowds were night and day different from the March crowds we experienced in 2012.  Funny thing, when you don't go during Spring Break, there aren't as many people!  We literally did not wait for more than 10 minutes for anything (except the bus on Wednesday night).  Were there crowds?  Yes.  But far, far more manageable for this introvert.

Tickets: This was our only major hiccup.  We were able to use the new Magic Band system which is replacing the previous Key to the World.  Like KTTW, the Magic Bands are meant to be used as your room key, dining plan, park tickets, charge-to-your-room, etc.  Due to our travel dates and the free dining plan package, our group actually had 2 separate reservations - one for the first night at DW, and one for the remaining 5 nights.  Apparently having these 2 back-to-back reservations activates a glitch in the Magic Band, and we had problems nearly every day.  For the first 3 days our tickets wouldn't work, then the room key stopped working, then the dining plan wouldn't show up, then some bands would work & others wouldn't..... it was very frustrating.  And it seemed that each time we had someone "fix" the issue, it would trigger a different problem.  I think this is a neat system, and when it worked, it was very convenient.  But after spending at least 6 hours of my vacation trying to get these issues resolved, I was frustrated.

FastPass+: One of the extra cool things about the Magic Bands is that you can go online and book FastPasses for up to 3 rides or events each day. This is called FastPass+, and is still in Beta.  I had never used the FastPass system before, but you can believe that I had us fully booked the day I had those Magic Bands in hand.  I liked that you could choose in advance, and you had a set time to return - it satisfied the planner in me.  And I also appreciated that you didn't have to hustle everyone in your party to that particular ride in order to obtain your FastPass.  We were able to easily do some rides/ attractions that had major wait times, such as the new Belle experience in Fantasyland, and seeing the Princesses in Fantasyland.  A 10 minute wait was far preferable to 60+ minutes.

Planning: I spent A LOT of time looking at schedules, Pinterest, wait times, reading blogs, checking the Disney Moms Panel, etc.  6 months in advance I laid out a schedule of what parks we would be in each day, when our reservations were, and any special events we wanted to take part in.  I feel like this absolutely enhanced our visit.  We tried very hard to be at each park at or shortly after opening (especially when there were Extra Magic Hours), and this allowed us to do a few extra things we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise such as participate in the Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios and get FastPasses for Soarin' at Epcot.  We had expected to cut our days up and take a rest in the afternoon at our hotel, but the kids are a bit older now and had better stamina.  But of course, I think we were all wiped out at the end of the day!  

Packing: I was pretty proud of my packing on this trip.  For the kids, I chose outfits each day & bagged them in Ziploc bags with underwear & socks. They each brought Keens and sneakers to trade.  For me, I planned my wardrobe so that I could mix and match almost every piece.  I was extremely worried about how my ankle would do with so much walking/ standing, but everything went great.  I packed sneakers and Birkenstock Gizeh sandals and had NO problems.  I made sure to trade off every other day and I also used Blister Block preemptively.  Here's my best tips:
  1. Trade your shoes.  Don't pack one pair of sneakers or sandals and think you will be good.  
  2. Use Blister Block.  Lightly coat your feet.  You'll thank me for this.  Pack moleskin just in case. 
  3. Pack layers.  It wasn't nearly as warm as we thought it would be (one day was 64 and windy!), and layers were necessary.  
  4. Bring a power strip.  We had a handful of devices to charge each night, and it was nice to have them all in one place instead of scattered through the room.  
  5. Go to the Dollar Store and buy ponchos to bring with you.  You may or may not need them, but if you do, you will feel good about not paying $9 a piece for them.  
  6. If you have more than 2 kids, consider renting a stroller for your trip.  The DW strollers are pricey - $30/ day for a double, but there are several companies in Orlando that will rent you a decent double stroller, deliver it to your resort, and charge you less than it's costing you to park your car at the airport.  You DO have to fold down any stroller to get it on the buses.  (Note: we did not do this ourselves, but we saw many, many rented strollers in the parks).  

Spending Money: Although we are not big souvenir people, with kids and Disney, you know that the "I Wants" are inevitable.  This trip we took a different approach.  We made it clear that whatever the kids wanted to do or buy, they would have to pay for it.  Our kids chose to save their money (including the all important birthday money) and we spent about 9 months talking about ways to earn money, chores, and how much things cost.  We also made the deal that we would match what they saved (up to a certain $ amount). When we got to the park, they knew that if they wanted something, they would have to use their own money.  It was GREAT!  M was responsible for managing her own funds, and we helped J understand how much things cost & how it would take away from what he had saved.  And when he wanted to buy a $12 balloon, Mom didn't have to say No.  Yes, I still cringe when I think of a $12 balloon...... but I will also always remember the joy that beamed out of his face as he clutched his balloon and declared "Mama!  I am So Happy!!!". **See first picture for evidence of a $12 balloon in all its glory.  He named it Red Eye Mickey.**  Fortunately both kids also came home with money left over.  

Park Supplies: I carried a small backpack each day, and Hub carried his empty Camelbak pack.  We filled our packs with cameras, wallets, snacks, water bottles, phones, personal supplies (sunscreen, bandaids, ibuprofen, lip balm, neosporin, blister block, etc.), and lastly - a few things to keep kid #2 occupied.  I downloaded a couple of new games onto my phone, but I also made sure to have a few matchbox cars and a small activity book with crayons.  There were a few times when we were waiting to meet up with people, or standing in line to see princesses, and the activity stuff definitely came in handy.  

Any other tips I should have known about?  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Disney World 2013

We had an amazing time in Florida.  November is definitely the time to visit both Orlando and Disney World.  This was our 2nd trip to The Happiest Place on Earth, and we applied a few things learned from trip #1 in 2012.  

First lesson: Don't go in March.  Check those crowd forecasts, and believe them.  We visited from the 10th-16th, and although Sunday & Monday were busy (the end of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival + Epcot Marathon + Veteran's Day), the remainder of the week was GREAT.    

We managed to get both kids into the Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios on Monday, and It. Was. AWESOME.  

Every Padawan's dream: Fighting Darth Vader

We did breakfast at the Tusker House again, and it was as good as we remembered.  

We also took a trip to the Wilderness Lodge (amazing!), and had dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  I didn't realize I had nabbed the first reservation of the dinner hour, but I did, and the kids were given the honor of ringing the dinner bell & yelling "Come and Get It!" to open the restaurant. 

We were also treated to a VIP table with special decorations.  

And the kids loved the milkshakes & the wooden horse races!

After dinner we wandered down to the dock & caught a ferry back to Magic Kingdom.  It was so cool to see the other resorts lit up & to approach the Magic Kingdom by lake.  

J got another Pirate Makeover, and opted for the Ghost Pirate look.  

And was chosen to go up on stage with Captain Jack Sparrow himself!  

A quick tutorial on the finer points of sword fighting. 

My princess and the castle. 

Hey look, we were there too!

Face painting.....

After the Princess Makeover.....



At Epcot we treated M, her cousin, and Grandma to "Pick-a-Pearl" at the Mitsuhoki store in "Japan".  Each oyster is guaranteed to hold a pearl, and the girls were lucky enough to all choose oysters that had larger than normal pearls.  

The parks were all partially decorated for Christmas, and were so pretty.  

We had lunch at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot, and it was SO GREAT.

We met 5 princesses in all, got autographs & photos, and had a delicious lunch.  
HIGHLY recommend. 

A trip to DW wouldn't be complete without a ride on the Monorail!

I'll do another post with a few of the tips we learned from our trips, and a couple of additional details.  The bottom line is that we had a wonderful vacation and feel so lucky that we were able to be at Disney World with family, and enjoy such great travels!  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Body Revolution, Weeks 7 & 8

Sweet Mary, how am I not done with this program yet?!

Some days that's exactly how I felt.  And others.... I felt.... Accomplished.  Powerful.  Strong.

Workout 7 felt like the hardest workout EVER. And this is coming from someone who cursed Jillian's name throughout weeks 2, 3, and 4 of Ripped in 30.  It was all circuit 1, which was essentially 12 minutes spent in plank position.  My shoulders and arms were DYING.

Workout 8 seemed like a half hour frolicking through a sunny meadow in October compared to Workout 7.

W7: Awfulness.  Crow pushups. Single leg pushups.  Down dog pushups. Plank walk.  Plank ups.  Do you see a pattern?  I should have shoulders of steel by now.

W8: Not completely awful.  There were some balance moves that were challenging, but I am seeing a big difference in my balance from the beginning of the program.  My favorites:  Bridge dumbbell lat pulls, crescent flies (but then into Warrior 3 - ACK!), bicycle crunch with cable.

New stuff this week:  I started Couch to 5K 2 weeks ago, but the first week I only did 2 days.  Last week was my first week incorporating 3 days of running (wog intervals) with the 4 days of Body Revolution.  So I ended up with 2 days of double workouts - and it was great!  I did the C25K first, then BR, and it made a HUGE difference.  I thought I would be worn out, but the "running" (and given the tiny amount of actual running at this stage, the quotes are applicable) got me really warmed up, and I felt a big difference in my BR workout.  I plan to continue doing both until my vacation in a few weeks, then when I get back I'll keep going with C25K and mix up my strength days.  What I like about Body Revolution is that because each workout is circuit training, you could mix up all of them once you complete one round of the program.  I REALLY feel like the circuit training is effective for me, and I plan to keep it up while also mixing things up with running and swimming.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Body Revolution: Weeks 5 & 6

You know, I have really mixed feelings about the program at this point.  The upside is that it's only 30 minutes, and frankly, what else can I do in 30 minutes that leaves me feeling so accomplished?  My shoulders have also never looked better.  The downside is that I am TIRED.  And sore all the time.  Which I guess means that the program is doing something for me.  I certainly don't feel that way from couching out & eating Cheetos.

Phase 2, also known as workouts 5 & 6, continues the front of body/ back of body alternating workouts that started in Phase 1.  Cardio 2 is MUCH better than Cardio 1.  But I still only did it once.  More on that later.

Workout 5 (chest/ tris)

  • The worst: Crescent pose flies with the band (I am not using the band that comes with the BR program, and I discovered that my band is just a little too short to do this effectively); Woodchoppers; Crab Tricep Dips with Leg Raised.  
  • The best: Sumo Squat with Shoulder Press. 
  • Overall: Lots of balance exercises, and I am still modifying for the left side - but I DID do them!  Chops - I was all over the place with these.  
Workout 6 (back/bis)
  • The worst: Windshield wipers; Weighted Supermans, Chop Lunges. 
  • The best: Lat extension with situp; Plank Rows, Bicep Curls with band. 
  • Overall: Again with the balance exercises!  They are not difficult, but with my weaker left side, it was challenging to figure out a decent modification that still allowed me to maximize the exercise.  Chops - Ugh. 
My left ankle has been achy and weak.  So I did the workouts, but did not do the high-impact intervals.  I would march in place, or do a low-impact modification of the exercise.  Part of me feels like I am cheating the program but the other view is that Life Happens, and I am choosing to continue to follow through with my commitment to complete the program.  I did Cardio 2 just once, and I liked it, but decided that I would stick to lower impact cardio on those days - mostly 60+ minute walks in our hilly neighborhood.  

I haven't weighed or measured, and am OK with that.  I don't expect/ never expected to "lose sick amounts of weight" with Body Revolution.  But with visible muscle changes, I am pleased so far.  And pumped that I am halfway through!!!!   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Body Revolution: Weeks 3 & 4

I'm not gonna lie, these 2 weeks have been a slog.  I don't think it's Jillian - let's face it, she's the same no matter what.... so it must be me.  I've just felt exhausted. And 8 more weeks of this feels almost overwhelming.  Ugh.  Let's hope this gets better.

Notes: There are a lot more single-leg balance moves, and I had trouble with them.  I do OK on the right side, but my left side is still weak.  I modified.

And it really bugged me how she talked about losing "sick amounts of weight..... like 5 or 6 pounds a week".  I think that's VERY unrealistic for all but the most overweight of participants.

Workout 3

This is her "back of body" workout.  It seemed really tough the first go-round, but it got better.  Tough moves: Crab tricep dips,  Walking Crescent pose (balance issues).  Favorite moves: all the rows.

Workout 4

This is her "front of body" workout for these weeks.    Tough moves: Hollow man, side lunges with bicep curls (balance & rhythm problems), single leg deadlift w/ row.  Favorite moves: Plie hops.

Overall: The cardio intervals are higher impact, but can easily be modified.  Each workout is still about 30 minutes long.  I did the Cardio DVD once, and subbed in swimming and the elliptical for the other days.  I was up a pound at the end of week 3, and have decided that I'm going to stop weighing myself for a few weeks.  I haven't taken measurements again, but I am noticing more toned muscles, especially in my shoulders & arms.

I am taking the entire weekend off before starting Phase 2 on Monday.  I've been having a little pain in my left ankle/foot, so I am resting it, taking Motrin, and stretching in anticipation of Monday's workout.

PS - I want to be clear that the workouts are not killing me.  It's 30 minutes a day.  Jeez.  I think it's just ME.  Especially since I am being a bit lackadaisical with my effort & food.  Not terrible.  I'm at about 70% effort.  And I'm not going to see "Big Results" with 70%.  Maybe I need to add C25K.  Next week.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review: Jillian Michaels Body Revolution, Phase 1

I spent August ramping up my workouts just a bit, (and trying to pull things together for the start of school).  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next, but have been interested in Body Revolution for a while.  I've seen the infomercials, and since I've had decent success with Jillian Michaels workouts before (30 Day Shred, Ripped in 30, Banish Fat Boost Metabolism), I thought this might be a good challenge.  Unlike her other DVD's, this is a 12 week program where the workouts change every 2 weeks.

I'm only 2 weeks in, but here are my impressions:
  • The first 2 weeks - Phase 1- consists of 3 DVD's: Workout 1, Workout 2, Cardio 1.  Each DVD is done on consecutive days, with 1 day off each week.  
  • Similar to my favorite DVD, 30 Day Shred, all of the workouts are circuits - meaning that there is a set of exercises that is repeated multiple times.  In Workouts 1 & 2, the circuits are repeated 2x, with a total of 3 different circuits.  In Cardio 1, there is 1 circuit repeated 3 times. 
  • Workout 1 is front of body with a little lower body.  Workout 2 is back of body and lower body. Weights are used in both, but there is no emphasis on the size of weights to use (I used 5's for Workout 1, 8's for Workout 2).  A resistance band is also used for 1 exercise in Workout 2.  
  • Cardio 1 is a medium-impact, non-weighted workout. 
  • Most of these exercises are single-muscle group (bicep curls, squats, etc.).  This is to prep you for more intense combination exercises later in the program.  
  • Circuits keep me from getting bored, so I do like this formula.  
  • Switching off front of body & back of body is different from her other workouts that I have done and I really like it, especially since the Cardio day allows for a "rest" before starting the workouts over. 
  • The workouts average about 30 minutes each. 
  • The Cardio is a total body workout (arms & legs are used).  
  • I don't care for the Cardio DVD.  I only did it once each week - I skipped one Cardio workout the first week, and swam for the 2nd Cardio day on week 2.  I'm facing this Cardio DVD 4 more times in the next two weeks, and I may sub in swimming instead.   
  • Cardio DVD: 'Suicides' - no, thank you.  
  • Yes, the Jillian shtick gets a little tiresome, but I'm able to tune it out, so it doesn't really get to me.  
Results: I don't plan to measure again until the end of the program.  2 weeks in, and I am -1.6lbs.  I often do a little extra cardio in addition to the weighted workouts (probably an extra 20-30 minutes, 3 times a week) - riding the spin bike or walking hills, and plan to keep it up.

Note: Body Revolution can be purchased here, or through Amazon.  I am not being compensated for doing these workouts or writing these reviews.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Over It

I feel bad about neglecting my blog, but I think I'm just going to enjoy the lull.  That's what it is - it's a lull.  Just like life has ups & downs, so does blogging, and after 6 and 1/2 years of blogging, it had to come sometime, right?

And honestly, I sort of hit what I'm calling "internet saturation".

Also known as "I'm over it".

You see, a few weeks ago I was on Pinterest and I saw a pin for a spray bottle cozy.


I just couldn't take it anymore.  I know there is Pinterest fatigue, and Pinterest pressure, yes, there are totally a ton of great Pinterest ideas out there, but I think the cozy just put me over the edge.

I mean, are we doing this?  Are we really making little aprons to pretty up our cleaning supplies?  I thought I was doing OK by finding an all-purpose cleaner that I looked forward to using (bonus for it being non-toxic!), but apparently that's not good enough, and the sleek, well-designed yet functional bottle now must be cloaked in a handstitched cover, too.

I.  just.  can't.

I like to craft.  Make no mistake about that.  But this is just beyond the realm of my understanding.  Maybe someone had a ton of extra time and fabric on her hands.  And it is unique, I'll give you that.  But in addition to the pressure to be well-groomed, fit, competent at all things, on time, a financial whiz, document your unique style with a quirky personal flair, be a cleaning machine, have a nutritious cooked-from-scratch meal on the table at 5pm sharp, and whip up themed parties for 12-50 people within 24 hours, now I have to ponder if my naked bottles are an offense to momkind?


I'm over it.  I'm going to soldier on in my bottle-cozy-less life, and hope for the best.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

BTS 2013

The long awaited day finally arrived!  

This girl hardly slept at all the night before.  
4th grade is a very exciting year, ya know. 

This guy was a little apprehensive, but suuuuuper excited for his first day.  

Outside his classroom.  

Getting off the bus at the end of a loooong day.  
There were hugs & smiles all around.  

Things to remember:
  1. A special breakfast of donuts, which Daddy brought home after his all-night shift.  
  2. While waiting to go inside the school, I watched a small boy climb out of a car, clutching his plastic Walmart bag of school supplies.  I caught a glimpse of a scrapbook page inside his bag, so I knew he must be a kindergartner, too.  He was all smiles, and waved to the driver, then turned and spotted the crowd of kids & parents waiting for the morning bell.  His face fell as he took in all the strange-to-him people, and I was so glad to see the principal spot him right away, and guide him on where to wait & what to do.  Poor little guy! 
  3. Walking into the house after work & soaking in the SILENCE that greeted me.  Even the dog was acting like it was weird.  
  4. J talking about the Jitter Bug Juice they had as their end-of-day snack.  Sprite, Crystal Light, and rainbow sherbert.  "Mama, you HAVE TO keep this recipe".    
Thanks to Grandma & Grandpa for the new outfits!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Birthday "Cake"

This year's birthday was a mixed bag of meh, ugh, and YES.

The meh: It was mostly "just another day".  I worked, M worked late, I didn't sleep well, and I made my own cake.

The ugh: The kids fought most of the day.  There was some yelling, a few tears, and a couple of time outs.

The YES: I didn't cook, I bought new jeans, I received a number of birthday texts and emails, we had pizza for dinner (and for a change, I ordered the kind I wanted), and the "cake" was awesome.

So let's talk about cake.

Technically, it wasn't a cake, but a dessert.   I made a recipe that I had Pinned over a year ago.  It's titled Brownie-bottom Coconut Chocolate Cream Cake.  I've been on a coconut kick lately, so this sounded amazing.... and it lived up to its delicious title. I won't include the recipe, because it is not mine to share.  I will say this is probably one of the most complex recipe I've ever attempted.  It wasn't difficult, but it was time consuming.  I made the brownies one day, the coconut & chocolate layers another (about 6 hours apart), and the whipped cream the day it was served.

Layer 1: Brownie.  Any recipe will do.  I used the Hershey's Ultimate Brownie Recipe.  Of all the fancy brownie recipes I've tried, it's my favorite.  Next time I would omit the chocolate chips.... it just seemed like a bit much.  

Layer 2: Coconut cream.  Y.U.M.  I went the extra mile and ground down the coconut in the food processor.  It makes it a little more fine and less stringy.  Worth the extra 3 minutes.  Sprinkled between the brownie & the coconut cream are bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate chips.  A-mazing. 

Layer 3: Chocolate cream (it's a mousse).  Essentially this is a ganache with whipped cream folded into it.  I never knew that was how you made chocolate mousse.  This may be very dangerous knowledge.  

Layer 4: Whipped cream topped with toasted coconut.  The one thing I did not like about this recipe was using gelatin to "stabilize" the whipped cream.  I think it was too warm when it was time to add it to the partially whipped cream, and I ended up with bits of unflavored gelatin floating in the whipped cream.  Not horrible, but it randomly ruined the mouthfeel of the dessert.  

Pros: Amazing taste, not too chocolate-y or coconut-y, looks fancy. 
Cons: Takes a long time to make, gelatin bits in the whipped cream, and the brownie layer was pretty heavy.  

Verdict: I would absolutely make this again.  Next time I would leave out the chocolate chips in the brownie, halve the amount of brownie in the bottom layer, and possibly leave out the gelatin from the whipped cream.