Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Top 10 Podcasts

At the beginning of this year I really got into listening to podcasts.   It was a great a way to pass the time driving to work.  I don't have a crazy long drive, usually 40 - 50 minutes to work and up to an hour home because of traffic right now.  Some people spend longer driving I know, but I hate driving.  On the plus side, as a result of all my time in the car I feel like I am a more educated person now, which I can't complain about and I am better off than just tuning into the radio.  I think it all started when Young House Love launched a podcast, I'm a fan of YHL.  From there my interests spread out, and I have a friend who made some great recommendations.  If you are a podcast newbie I highly recommend the following - and I am giving my take in one sentence.  Could I write more about each one of these, yes.  Will I? No.

Young House Love Has a Podcast - the one that started it all for me, DIY and home stuff. 

Chris Loves Julia w/ host Preston Pugmire - Full of laughter, you feel like you are listening to friends talk about home design.  

How I Built This - The stories behind some of the most well known brands and how they came to be is simply inspirational.  

Reply All - You never know what you are going to get, but it will always have something to do with the internet. 

Serial - Tells unique stories, episode by episode that keep you on your heels.  

S - town - From the makers of Serial, the story of a backwards little Alabama town and the sh*t that goes on.  

Surprisingly Awesome - Just as it sounds, first episode was about mold, winner.  

Ask Me Another -  Game show meets podcast with the a special guest.  

TED Radio Hour -  This one make me feel smarter, and who does not want that?

Up and Vanished -  I have just started this one, but a good unsolved disappearance case keeps me enthralled. 

I'd love to hear your favorites.  What should I add to my playlist?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fresh Florals || Hydrangeas

I think it is no secret I love flowers.  I enjoy growing them, I certainly appreciate receiving them, and more often than I should on my way home from work I'll swing by the floral department in the grocery store and pick up a bunch or 2.  Kroger has some shockingly good deals on flowers and I just can't pass those up.

My last trip I saw the loveliest bunch of white hydrangeas and I could not pass them up.  Now I know hydrangeas require a little extra care.  I usually take a few steps up front to keep them fresh.
1.  When I cut hydrangeas as home I will dip their stems in Alum to help keep them fresh.  I have found this to be quite easy.
2.  I will dip their stems into boiling water for about 60 seconds to help the water flow up the stem.

Generally I have found the thinner stemmed hydrangeas that I cut from my own yard does not have much of the sap in their stems and my tips above work just fine.  But, with my Kroger bunch I cut of maybe 3" of the stem, and dipped in alum and popped them in a vase.  Next day the flowers had wilted.  I took to the internet to try a new technique to revive them.  They were sad, just take a look at 'em. 

1.   I cut off another 1" of stem.
2.   I boiled water and put it into a glass.
3.   Cut a hole in a paper towel to put the flower through to protect it from the steam.  
4.   I put the flower in the water and let it sit for 2-3 hours.  At the end the hydrangea was good as new!  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Creative Endeavors - Cakes

It has been over a year since cakes have been my daily job - and part of me hopes I don't lose those skills.  Back in October my dear friend Rashelle got married, and I baked my first ever naked cake.  It was really quite easy to make, and I got to cover it in flowers.  It is no secret how much I love flowers so it was a win in my book.  The photos are credit to her photographer, Della Terra.  I am far more comfortable with tiered cakes than I've ever been before and her wedding cake only took a few hours on a Friday night!  I'm looking for an occasion to do a tiered cake again, baby shower maybe, or is that just way over the top?

I then spent the next few months craving a vanilla cake and n January I whipped out a simple Minnie Mouse cake for an old co-workers daughter.  It was an 8" cake with a 4" cake cut in half for the ears, really simple to do.  But really all this meant there were extra pieces that I was able to eat and finally cure my cake craving.   
I've been spending most of my creative time on sewing quilts and I can't wait to share what I have been sewing!

Friday, March 10, 2017

My word of the year : 2017

It is only 3 months late - but they do say better late than never right?  I just finished a skype call with the most beautiful soul Emily, and my husband is watching the IU game, so now is as good of a time as ever to push publish on a half drafted post.  I last left this little blog in August right when I started teaching, Paul earned a promotion not soon after, and the end of 2016 went fast.  I sat down over Christmas break and tried to blog, but I think I was in hibernation mode from teaching and didn't have enough brain power to do anything.  The next portion of this post is from a few months back...

I love picking a word of the year, a trend that is really catching on.  I can't for the life of me commit to a resolution, I often struggle to hit post on the long list of almost done blog posts.  In 2017 I'll work on that (maybe).  

2017's word really hit me at the end of 2016 hard - like when you hit your finger with a hammer and you form a blood hematoma under your fingernail and the pressure that build up constantly reminds you that is there.   Paul might have just done with while working on our never ending project of the stairs.  My word  is one that my co-workers uttered time and time again in between "take care of yourself".  2017 will be my year of balance.  Never before in my life have I needed this word as much as I do now.  1st year teaching stresses have me overwhelmed and I have been letting things go that really matter to me - friendships, taking the time to cook  a delicious dinner, building my relationship with my husband, taking care of myself, taking time to be creative, this list could go on and on.  This year I committed to finding the balance between work and personal life.  It is important to me to remain defined outside of what I do for a living.

  I am so hopeful for 2017, and we have some big things planned!  Student loan debt should be gone this year, we haven't had a vacation since our honeymoon, we can't stop looking at dogs at the shelter, BIG home projects to get done and maybe what is most important - balance.   

Three months after writing that I can that say I have found more balance than before.  I have brought less work home, enjoyed cooking meals again, and set aside real scheduled time for friends.  I have found renewed passion in sewing and designing quilts.  I have so much in my sewing machine, but once I have my next round all quilted.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Long time, no blog.

I have officially entered a new season of life.  I am teaching full time at what I would argue is the most challenging high school in the area, teaching one of the most dreaded subjects for most students, biology.  I have quickly been made aware of how much of an issue being a young, white, female is at this school.  Garnering respect is not easily accomplished, and I am facing battles of student discipline that I could never had imagined, teaching class sizes of 37 students.  I started 2 weeks ago, and it has been a whirlwind.  Things are slow to get processed  and getting into the system for the district is taking forever.  I am stuck tracking grades by hand, and sending attendance down the old-fashioned way.  At least 3 days a week I am near tears behind closed doors and fighting to ensure students don't think I am at any point weak.  I see the other new teachers in my department acting like their days are great, am I missing somethings or are they just not being honest? 
I walk away feeling like I'm doing my best, but  I am overwhelmed and lacking sleep.  I question myself at every corner.  I walked away from student teaching confident that I could do this, and now...?  Grading quizzes this weekend, and I have kids who got a 100% and kids who literally got a 0%.  Have I failed some of these kids already, or have they already failed themselves? 

I had the privileged to work with a small group of 10 students during one of my classes because my co-teacher was with the other 25 while one of our autistic students was having a breakdown.  While I was with those 10, I found myself again.  I found the heart of why I teach.  I had one student who was struggling with his quiz and was the last one left.  The student was an English language learner so I read each question aloud with him, and reworded only a few questions.  He was able to answer all of the questions right, I told him on the spot he earned a 100%.  Being able to praise him, help him find success, and build him up was the most monumental part of my day.   The smile on his face clearly showed me the impact I can make.  I am in such a new phase of life, and it is going to take some adjusting.  I am doing this for me, I am doing this to make a difference in my students' lives, and I am doing this for my future family.  Some days are hard, but I feel blessed to be so supported.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sunday (err... Monday) Small Talk // 5

It has been a hot minute since we've gotten personal over here, so lets catch up.  I feel like loads has happened, but I'll hit the highlights, and brace yourself this is going to be random.
This past week Paul and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary.  We bought tickets for the thirsty Thursday baseball game (basically for $1 beer) the week before, and then we both got sick.  We still felt good enough to go, kind of, but no beer.  
I like to look though our wedding photos in the days around our anniversary, and some new favorites emerged.  I'm limiting myself to sharing 4 favorites
For starters, my all time favorite photo; it perfectly captures how we make each other feel.  
I have really been enjoying the photos that come across are truly genuine.
A few weeks ago I passed my 2nd licensing education exam, and today I passed my 3rd exam (which is why this post is coming at you on a Monday, I was studying all weekend).  I just need to do the CPR/AED and finish the suicide prevention training then fill out my application and I am well on my way to be a licensed teacher in Indiana!  
Cali however, was zero help during the whole process.  Typical cat, has to sit on my book every darn time.  I seriously think I have at least a dozen photos of her sitting on my homework.  
Our contracted renovation in the kitchen and our current bedroom is finally done and the final payment is in the mail.  We still have tons of finishing work to do on our end, but we will get there.  
Here is where we started
Here is where we are now
And here is the Photoshop version of where we are going... ish.   Mentally add the trim around the window in, and we are looking at adding the cabinet above the sink back in at a higher level, but we are not totally sure about that yet.  
I am 99% sure this will be printed and hung up somewhere in our house.  Judge away.  I'm gonna end it here, because how do you top the cat. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Marshmallow Crunch Brownies

Summer is the season of cookouts and easy to grab and eat foods.  When it comes to desserts my mind goes to brownies, cookies, and Rice Krispie treats.    In general the less utensils needed the better.  I have seen a few variations of this dessert, but anytime you combine chocolate, Rice Krispies, peanut butter, and marshmallow, you have a winner in my book.  This dessert is easy to whip together for a cookout and will certainly be a hit.  I made them over the 4th, and the recipe makes plenty.  

Box brownie mix (and the ingredient need to make said box of brownies)
2 cups mini marshmallows 
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter
3 cups Rice Krispies


Make the brownies in a 9" x 13" pan per the box instructions.

While the oven is still on, spread the marshmallows over the brownies and return to the oven for 3 minutes.  I also turned the broiler on at the end to really brown the top nicely.  

Let the brownies and marshmallow cool.  In the meantime heat the chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments until smooth and melted.  Fold in the Rice Krispies, and spread over top the marshmallows.

Let set before cutting and enjoying! Sure you can eat these with a fork, but picking them up and getting a little messy is far more enjoyable.

The concept of this dessert can also be made gluten free relatively easily just by using your favorite gluten free brownie, and by using a gluten free rice cereal.
What is your favorite go to summer dessert? 

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