Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Favorite Things: Donkey Chips

Two days after arriving home from the hospital with Ben our friend Jim stopped by for a visit.  He brought over some food including the most awesome tortilla chips on the planet.  Donkey Chips are da bomb!  They are crunchy with just the right amount of salt.  The perfect tortilla chip.  Not too big and not to small.  Small enough that you can almost fit a whole chip in your mouth and not have to worry about double dipping in the salsa!  I used to be a lover of another local tortilla chip.  It was my staple snack.  Not anymore.  Donkey Chips (still a Midwest product) have replaced them.  I think other people have discovered these super yummy snacks too because they are always out of stock at my local grocer.  Now when I see them I stock up!  Go get some today.  Just don't go to my grocery store!

Monday, December 16, 2013

What I did on my Maternity Leave

As my twelve week maternity leave comes to a close and I head back to work later this week I'd like the reminisce about my time off.  Mainly for my own remembrance.

Weeks 1-4 were spent in a blurry haze.  The stay in the hospital was hell.  I was recovering from a c-section that I did not want to have and hated that my mobility was limited.  Ben seemed to cry all the time and we didn't know what to do.  I got more rest at home but things didn't get any easier.  I was beginning to think I should buy stock in Kleenex or Puffs.  I cried all the time. Even during an episode of the comedic sitcom The Goldbergs. (Poor Mike - dealing with a crying baby and wife!) There were many visitors...all of who I was hesitant of having because of my self consciousness regarding breast feeding (will they come when he has to be fed??).  I spent way too much time on my favorite chair (which I was beginning to resent) feeding my baby when all I wanted to do was cook dinner (something I knew how to do...breastfeeding felt so foreign to me).  I didn't understand the 'bonding' experience at all.  Ben and I 'fought' with each other more than we bonded, that's for sure!  I dreaded Mondays when Mike went off to work and I was left alone all. day. long.  I longed to go to work too.

Weeks 5-8 got a little better in regards to feeding.  I switched to all formula and was so much happier.  They say breast is best but I was not enjoying it or my baby.  I hated it and thought the switch would save us money on tissues.  It did!  And I felt like myself again.  For us, formula has been best.  The baby?  He was still a pain in the butt.  At first, I was OK with attempting to get out of the house, but he quickly turned into a difficult little one.  Even a walk in the stroller had me and him coming home in tears.  I was going stir crazy.  The nights weren't any better.  In fact, Ben was a bigger whiner then.  (Again, poor Mike.  He only saw the crabby side of Ben)  I'm surprised I have any hair left!  He did sleep well overnight at least...once we got him to sleep.  I can't imagine dealing will all of this AND being majorly sleep deprived (from the start I only had to get up once during the night to feed him).  My C-section incision healed but I struggled with the feeling of having no abdominal muscles.  Even though I had lost most of the weight I gained while pregnant, I felt weak.  Rolling over in bed still made me feel 8 months pregnant.  I hated the fact that I had to have a C-section more, but later found out from my doctor that that's just what it's like after being pregnant and it would just take time to retrain those muscles again.  Very frustrating when I felt in tip top shape before I got pregnant.

Weeks 9-12 were much much better.  Ben began to nap more regularly and I started to figure him out.  He was actually happy when he was awake most of the time.  He was smiling and interacting more and actually seemed to like me!  I got stuff done while he napped.  I cleaned the blinds!  I cooked sometimes.  I decorated for the holidays, online shopped, and wrapped gifts.  I cleaned the bathroom every week!  I vacuumed twice a week.  I kept up with the dishes.  I did the laundry twice a week.  I went on lunch dates (thanks to my mom who came to babysit).  I packed up maternity clothes, newborn sized clothes, our wedding albums and such into Rubbermaid storage bins.  I updated Ben's baby book.   I updated my recipe box.  Ben and I had Christmas card photo shoots.  I occasionally did a workout video (and feel my abs returning!).  I dusted the baseboards of the built up dog hair.  These were the weeks where I enjoyed visitors as my contact with adults was so minimal for so long. Ben became more bearable when out and about and we went to the mall a few times. We visited Santa.  He started to go to bed at a decent hour.  The days were still long but by week ten I had the hang of things.  Without my own honey to do list I would have been majorly bored though. I'm still not used to being tied to the house.  And honestly, once he gets more active and mobile, I'm not so sure I would like it anymore.  Kids are exhausting!

And so, just as I'm getting used to the routine, I am headed back to work.  I'm ready to go back so I can (hopefully) relax and have conversations with adults! We will all have to readjust to a new schedule again (and probably a dirtier and less organized house).  I'm just hoping I don't have to stock up on Kleenex for this round.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Recipe: Cheddar Bacon Chicken

Once again, I have a Taste of Home recipe to share.  This one comes from one of those recipe books they sell at the check out lanes titled "5 ingredients".  Now that's my kind of recipe!  The bonus is that the five ingredients are usually ones that you have on hand.  Well, maybe not the teriyaki sauce...until you buy it for this recipe and have the remaining sauce left over!  I'm not a big fan of barbecue sauce, but I really liked this chicken nonetheless.  It was super easy to whip together with some roasted red potatoes and steamed green beans.

 Cheddar Bacon Chicken

Cheddar Bacon Chicken

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (5 ounces each)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 4 slices ready-to-serve fully cooked bacon, cut in half
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese

Directions

  • Dip both sides of chicken in teriyaki sauce; place on a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 13-18 minutes or until a thermometer reads 170°.
  • Spread barbecue sauce over chicken; top with bacon and cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Favorite Things/Review: Baby Breeza Formula Pro

When I started to primarily formula feed Ben I was faced with a baby that screamed even more while he waited for me to measure, mix, and heat up a bottle.  Trying to do this while holding a flailing baby was no fun.  I also had to prep up bottles for the middle of the night feeds.  Most of this wasn't really THAT big of a deal.  Mothers (and fathers) have been doing it for ages.  However, I saw this baby and thought, "Damn, a Keurig for baby formula?  That's so awesome!"

We decided that since I was home on maternity leave for a good two months still and my mom would be watching Ben at our house once I went back to work that it would be worth the cost for the convenience.

In a nutshell, the Formula Pro dispenses 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 ounce bottles at the optimal temperature.  We use a few different style bottles of various heights and it works for all of them.  In the middle of the night I get up, pop a bottle under it, press a button and presto!  The water reservoir needs to be filled about once per day and the formula bowl needs to be filled every five days or so (obviously, this is all dependent on how often/how much your baby eats).  Check out this video for a more detailed look.

One thing I have noticed is that the dispenser area starts to get a little clogged over time possibly resulting in less powder being dispensed into the bottle (we learned this the hard way when Ben seemed to be eating a TON!)  We now do a little preventive maintenance each time we fill the powder and clean this area out.

Besides that fault, I love this thing!  It's nice not to have to measure out scoops six or seven times a day.  There's no messy powder on the counter (except the once a week that it gets filled).  Bottles are always warm.  One thing I do wish this fancy thing would do is make a one ounce bottle.  Ben is currently drinking around five ounces at times.  To combat this we make a two ounce bottle and add an ounce to the bottle.  We then refrigerate the extra ounce and add it to the next bottle (sure, it cools it down a little, but not much).

So, though this is splurge, I recommend it if you are a formula feeder and are a stay at home mom or are planning to take a significant amount of time off of work after the birth of your baby.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Recipe: Crispy Buffalo Chicken Roll-ups

Here's another recipe from the Taste of Home magazine!  I'm not a huge fan of buffalo sauce, but I know Mike is and I sometimes try and cook with it.  I'm also not a fan of recipes that involve the messy task of dipping raw meat into various bowls to coat it.  Nonetheless, I decided to try it.  Despite the fact that I chose to buy thin sliced chicken to save on pounding chicken and they were probably much smaller than they should have been, I think the final product was pretty good.


Crispy Buffalo Chicken Roll-ups

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Flatten chicken breasts to 1/4-in. thickness. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with blue cheese. Roll up each from a short side and secure with toothpicks.
  • In a shallow bowl, combine pepper sauce and mayonnaise. Place cornflakes in a separate shallow bowl. Dip chicken in pepper sauce mixture, then coat with cornflakes. Place seam side down in a greased 11x7-in. baking dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Discard toothpicks. Yield: 4 servings.

Something I thought of when shopping for the ingredients:  Don't you wish they sold really small boxes of corn flakes?  I only use them for 'breading' and hate that the box takes up so much room in my pantry.  And by the time I use them again they are stale.  Just a thought for anyone reading this who may work for Kellog's.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Addition

One month late, but here is the newest addition to our family!

Baby Ben
 


 
 

 
 
 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Past Due

Here I sit, two days past my due date and still pregnant.  I had hoped to make it until my due date mainly so that I had all the preparation time possible.  But now?  It's just a waiting game and I don't like it! I'm sure there will be things I will miss about pregnancy, but now I'm beginning to think of the things I am looking forward to when not pregnant.  All that labor and birth and sleepless nights stuff?  I'm trying to just ignore that!

Things I will miss about pregnancy:

Stretchy pants
Not having to 'suck it in'
Never having 'fat days' (every day is a fat day and it's perfectly acceptable!)
Eating and snacking (though I tried to keep it healthy, I had my share of custard with hot fudge and peanut butter sauce)
Not working out because I have to work out
Excuse to get a pedicure
Quite a few of my maternity shirts and pants (and not just because of the stretchy waistband!)


Things I am looking forward to post pregnancy:

Not having to pee so much
No more achy finger joints, or fingers that get stuck in the bent position
Wearing my wedding ring again
Sleeping on my back/more comfortably
Bending at the waist and just generally being able to move around easier
Putting shoes on easily
Not forgetting that I can't fit through certain small openings or opening doors into my stomach because I forget how far it sticks out.
Not fearing falling down the steps
My knees not cracking when getting up off of the floor
Going for a run
Saved money from doing my own pedicures
Not laughing at my chubby feet at the end of the day
Not having the heartburn that I occasionally experience in the middle of the night
Beer, wine, bloody Mary's, and as many caffeinated drinks as I want
Not wondering,  "is this a contraction?" for three weeks straight

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Favorite Things: Biscoff Cookies

If you've ever flown on Delta Airlines you've probably enjoyed the Biscoff cookies they hand out in flight.  If not, they are crispy cinnamon cookies that seem to melt in your mouth.  They are perfect anytime of day.

After a flight I was discussing them with a friend who informed me that you can actually purchase these cookies online; she had done so for a friend in the past.  So, I went to trusty 'ole Amazon and put a large package on my Wishlist.  It was around Christmastime and my mom had noticed them on my list.  She informed me that you can buy those darn things at Walgreens!  And here I thought I needed to buy an airline ticket!  I've never actually purchased them myself as my mom always sneaks them in with other gifts for me, so I don't even know how much they cost.  I do know they come in individual little packages that are perfect for snacking or packing in your lunch bag.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Favorite Things: Maternity Support Belt and a Recliner

At some point in the beginning of my third trimester I tweaked something in my back (while turning over in bed, nonetheless!).  I've hurt my back before but this was really bad.  I think my front heavy proportions were causing greater strain and I was beginning to think I might not heal until I gave birth!  I had looked into maternity support belts for running but gave up on the idea when I decided to stop running.  Luckily, I was aware of them and knew that one could help with back pain so I went out within a day or two of the 'injury' and purchased one.  It really did help out during the day.  I felt like it helped to support the weight of my baby bump and take some of the pressure off of my back muscles.  It also kept me from walking/waddling like some sort of strange pregnant hunchback!  My only complaint about it was that it's sort of itchy and most comfortable to wear over the belly panel of maternity pants.  This made going to the bathroom a chore.  I'm sure those in other stalls wondered what all the Velcro peeling going on next to them was!  I still occasionally wear the belt if I'm going to work out and my belly feels extra heavy.  I think it helps lessen the feeling of having to pee every 20 minutes too!


Motherhood Maternity Ultimate Maternity Support Belt
 

Though the support band helped out during the day, lying in bed didn't help me at all.  I tried wearing the band at night, but it just doesn't help when you are attempting to move positions.  I think sleeping would re-aggravate things.  Just before this happened we bought a small recliner for the nursery.  Mike put it together and I slept in it hoping that being more upright and not flipping from one side to the other might help.  After the first night I felt amazing!  I wasn't walking around like a total gimp for the first two hours of my day anymore!  After the second night my back pain improved tremendously and I felt healed, thanks to that recliner.  However, the sciatic nerve pain I often deal with when I'm not pregnant presented itself immediately after so I resorted to sleeping in the recliner again!  Luckily the sciatic pain only lasted a few days and hasn't returned since.  I owe my healing to that recliner!  It currently resides in the living room and I sit on it all the time.  I think my butt prints are already imprinted on it and the baby isn't even here yet!

INGALL
Best Chairs Ingall Recliner - this looks a lot like the one we purchased

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Thoughts on Pregnancy

My sister recently asked me what my favorite part of being pregnant was.  Even though I’ve had a very uneventful pregnancy and don’t have much to complain about regarding it, I really couldn’t think of any benefits!  With the help of others I was reminded that I like the comfy pants!  And the lack of a period.  I have also come to realize that I haven't had a single pimple since the first trimester!  I can’t complain that while at work, others are more likely to help me out with things.  I have to deal with cooler boxes of ice bricks and samples and boxes of supplies for the lab; many of them are not light.  The guys in shipping and my own coworkers are usually right there to lift boxes for me or ask me exactly where I want them.  Sometimes it’s a bit annoying because they won’t let me lift even the lighter boxes and I feel helpless, but I guess I should enjoy the help while I can.  I’m sure I’ll miss it when I come back from maternity leave!

Though I’ve had a good pregnancy I cannot say that I enjoy being pregnant.  The tiredness that came with the first trimester was not fun.  I think I felt most not like myself during that period (and my messy house showed it!).  The second trimester wasn’t so bad, but by that point my workout routine was cut back a lot.  The nice spring weather teased me since I was no longer comfortable or very capable of going running anymore.  I never thought I would actually say that I missed working out, but I do!  At the same time, I’m happy to use my pregnancy as an excuse to not work out even if it’s just walking on the treadmill!  The third trimester has brought some challenges; a pulled back muscle that was tough to mend and some nagging hip pain in a muscle I didn’t even know existed!  I’m a lot less flexible and moving around doing everyday tasks is more of a challenge.  I find that to be frustrating.  (Recently a guy I work with commented that I’m still getting around really well; I guess that’s a compliment!)  Considering that I was in good shape before I know that there are women who probably struggle with this stuff even more than I do and I can’t even imagine their struggles!
Because I’m ‘big pregnant’ during the hottest months of the year (my trimesters matched up almost exactly with the change of seasons…third trimester started at the start of summer) people always ask how I’m doing in the heat.  Honestly, I have AC at home and at work so it’s a non-issue.  I haven’t spent much time outside gardening though but I don’t think that has anything to do with the temperature…I just don’t want to bend over and weed!  Luckily, it's been a cool-ish summer too.
My doctor and nurses do seemed surprised at my lack of foot and ankle swelling; especially considering it’s summer (my nurse said, “Wow, you’re ankles are distinguishable!”  I guess that’s a compliment?!).  It wasn’t until the last few weeks or so that my wedding ring and shoes became tight.  But, it’s nothing extreme by any means and worse at the end of the day and end of the work week.  I just hope it doesn’t get any worse because I already have chubby looking feet and ankles to begin with!

Sleeping has become increasingly challenging.  I'm not really friends with my bed these days.  Now I know why my friend Becky often played her turn of Words with Friends in the middle of the night while she was pregnant with twins!  I was once someone who could sleep until at least 10am.  Now I wake up at 7am and just want to get out of bed because I'm so uncomfortable.  I'm beginning to think I won't get a good nights sleep for months now!
Some people have to worry about their blood pressure at the end of pregnancy.  I still have a blood pressure most ‘normal’ people would die to have!  My weight is in the normal range even though I feel like I eat all the time and don’t work out much (I’ll miss that!!).  I haven’t had to worry at all about gaining/not gaining weight; though I’m still conscious of it (I don't treat pregnancy as an excuse to pig out!).  At my last doctor’s appointment I moved up to the next ‘decade’ on the scale; a ‘decade’ I have never seen before.  Heck, I only spent a short amount of time in the previous ‘decade’ about 10 years ago so this is all uncharted, sort of scary, territory for me.  At the same appointment my doctor referred to me as skinny and just recently some stranger stopped me in the mall and said I looked terrific.  I guess I can’t complain!  Maybe those compliments are my favorite things about pregnancy!

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Favorite Things: Herb Shears

For my birthday this year I received some Wusthof herb shears.  Though not really a necessity, I think these things are wonderful!  I've never liked chopping herbs.  It seemed like a lot of work to pull out a knife and a cutting board (I know, I'm lazy) for a tablespoon of parsley or a 1/4 cup of cilantro..  With the herb shears you can 'chop' right into the work bowl (or measuring cup if you really like to be exact) if you want!  It all depends on how fine of a chop you want and what sort of herb you are working with.  Tonight I held a bunch of parsley over the cutting board I had out with other veggies on it, and just snipped away.  They almost make me want to plant a container of herbs in the house!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Recipe: Pomegranate Lemondade

Seeing as I'm pregnant, I've had to give up many of my favorite beverages.  Wine and beer mostly.  I've also attempted to cut back on my consumption of soda.  Pineapple and pineapple orange juice has been a favorite.  The limeade at Buffalo Wild Wings is quite tasty too.  I'm very happy that most of my pregnancy was spent during the summer months when lemonade seemed like a very appropriate drink.  That has seemed to be my go to drink for the past four months or so.  Recently I tried the pomegranate lemonade at Ruby Tuesday.  Yum!  It was a nice change from regular old lemonade and provided the bit of fizz that I enjoy in my drinks.  I liked it so much that I went online to find a recipe.  I found various takes on it and decided on my own which I think turned out quite tasty.  So, if you're looking for a lemonade with a twist, try this!

Pomegranate Lemonade

3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM)
2 1/2 cups club soda

Mix all ingredients and serve over ice.

This makes about 2-3 glasses.  Either drink it right away or try and store it in a sealable bottle/pitcher so the club soda doesn't lose it's fizz.
Though not the lemonade I made, this is pretty much what it looked like!


 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Favorite Things: Mr. Clean Bath Cleaner with Febreze

I discovered Mr. Clean Disinfecting Bath Cleaner with Febreze about a year ago.  I love that it doesn't smell much like a bathroom cleaner, yet, it smells like the bathroom is clean.  And it works well too!

When I ran out of my first bottle I put it on my list to buy a new one.  The grocery store where I originally bought it did not have it.  The label was there, but for weeks it wasn't in stock.  I checked Target and couldn't find it there either.  I was beginning to think that it was discontinued.  In desperation, I checked Amazon.  They had it, but, the shipping costs were just too high for me to justify purchasing it.  I checked online at other stores to no avail.  It couldn't be true!  I went to the Mr. Clean website to see if they were still making it.  Yes, yes they were.  From there I found out which stores you could find it at; one of them being Kmart.  That same day Mike was headed out to an auto parts store and I told him (seriously, but not too seriously) that he should go to a certain auto parts store which is in the same parking lot as Kmart.  Then he could swing into Kmart and look for my coveted bathroom cleaner!  Being the good husband that he is, he did.  He found the Mr. Clean behind a sign advertising another product, grabbed two bottles, and brought them home to me.  Yay!  Once receiving the cleaner, I immediately cleaned the bathroom!  It has a different name now but I think it's pretty much the same product as far as I can tell...it smells just as good!  Look for Mr. Clean Bath Cleaner with Shine Shield with Febreze freshness.

 

I can't guarantee that using this cleaner will make you WANT to clean your bathroom, but I think you will enjoy the scent.  That is, if you can find it.  I think I may have to put in a note to Mr. Clean to sell it at stores that people actually shop at (sorry Kmart).  If you do see it somewhere else let me know!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Downtown Milwaukee Photowalk Review

A month or two ago, Living Social was offering a deal for a Photowalk in downtown Milwaukee.  It was relatively cheap and sounded like it might be a good way to get me out into new territory to take some photos.  It was a two for one deal.  One of my good friends recently started taking an interest in photography so I thought this would be an opportunity for us both to get out, take pictures, and spend some time together.

Here is the blurb describing the tour:

Walk through downtown Milwaukee while hearing historic commentary and learning photographic tips for taking creative pictures along the way. Wisconsin Avenue, in particular, offers a stunning then-and-now view of downtown Milwaukee and will impress locals and tourists alike with its unique architectural details and captivating history. Our tour concludes at the Milwaukee lakefront, highlighting the dramatic Milwaukee Art Museum architecture and scenic gardens.  
  
Whether you're a novice, a professional photographer, or just interested in history, you'll enjoy this tour!    
Family-friendly (free for children 8 and younger; discounted rate for children 9 - 15) and fun for all, this guided walking tour is focused on teaching guests to take more creative photos while learning about Milwaukee's history. Your tour guide will escort the group along the route, giving tips on photography composition and historical background on the sights along the way. Each attendee will receive a map highlighting some of our favorite photo opportunities on the route, along with recommended tips and techniques. Although we don't focus on food with this tour, we do make a stop for some chocolate along the way! 
  
Discover the stunning beauty of downtown Milwaukee with your camera in your hand! Photo opportunities include:  

  • Historic Third Ward
  • Milwaukee Public Market
  • Scenic RiverWalk
  • Picturesque Wisconsin Avenue
  • Milwaukee Art Museum and lakefront
  • Much more!

KEY DETAILS: 
Tour Length – Slightly more than one mile of walking; our Milwaukee Photo Walk route is not wheelchair accessible.
Time Commitment – Approximately 2 hours, depending on the pace of the group 


Though I found the tour informative and interesting in an historic sense (I did learn a few things about the city I've lived my whole life in), I can't say it taught me anything about photography.  The guide pointed out some things to take photos of in the beginning, but I felt it was mostly an historic walking tour with time allotted to take pictures. I will admit that the map we were given went over some photography tips, but I didn't really look at that until after the tour.  I was already carrying enough and felt that some of those things should have been verbally covered. I guess I can keep it for future reference.  

I don't think it wasn't worth my time though.  It was nice to really be able to look at and inside of buildings.  So often you walk around downtown and are more concerned about where you are going than about the details of old buildings.  And I've never known what was inside some of the buildings!  It was also enjoyable to walk around with a group of people who were all interested in photography; I wasn't always the one lagging behind because I was busy taking pictures (or because I was pregnant!) and didn't draw too much attention while taking photos (I sometimes avoid photography in certain places because I worry about what people think of me, but when there is a group of 15 I look like everyone else!).  It also gave me a good excuse to enjoy lunch with my friend afterwards!  My one big gripe was that the description did not mention that it was not a round trip tour.  So, though you allot 2 hours for the tour, it takes another 15-20 minutes to walk back to your vehicle....while you stress out about possibly having a parking ticket because you were parked in a two hour parking spot (we did not!).

Here's a sampling of some of the photos I took:


We took time to notice details on buildings

Here we are shooting away!

We were able to go inside some buildings too

Spent a little time along the riverwalk

Milwaukee Public Market

Ornate buildings you hardly notice when driving or walking by

Details

Hilton Garden Center

This is Milwaukee!













Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Favorite Things: Candy Crush Saga

I blame my boss for my most recent game addiction.  I heard her and another coworker talking about the game I kept seeing my Facebook friends playing.  I figured if so many people were playing it, it had to be good.  Plus, it's always a good idea to get on your boss' good side and share their interests, right?

I'd do a terrible job describing the game so here is the blurb from the game makers themselves:

Description

Welcome to the Candy Shop! Which one is your favorite? Crush candy to create special sweets such as striped candy, wrapped candy and rainbow candy. Combine these specials to create spectacular effects such as Super Stripe and Mega-Candy.

Instructions

  1. Create rows or columns with three candies of the same color to remove them.
  2. Make special combinations with 4 or 5 candies to create special sweets.
  3. Combine the special sweets to create spectacular effects that will crush even more candy!
 
 
 
The game itself is free, but you need to purchase admittance to advanced levels.  Or get your Facebook friends to help you.  Somehow, Mike can unlock new levels by playing special boards, but he can only try once in a 24 hour period.  I find it strange that different people get different options regarding this.  Nevertheless, they have sucked me in and I pay $0.99 to unlock the next board!  I figure, it's $0.99 for a good week or two of entertainment.  It's cheaper than a two hour movie, that's for sure!  The one nice thing about the game is that you are given 5 lives.  Once they are used up you have to wait a certain time period to earn more lives.  So, you aren't left looking at the clock thinking, "Where did the last 3 hours of my life go?"!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Favorite Things: Maternity Pants

It took me some time to take the plunge into maternity wear.  I was holding on to my normal clothes past the point of being able to button them!  I have no idea why.  Maternity pants are 'da bomb! When can you purchase a pair of jeans online, in a brand you have never tried on before, and find that they fit perfectly?  When you are pregnant!  When can you buy the first pair of skinny jeans you try on?  When you are pregnant!  When can you eat a big meal and not feel like your pants are telling you, 'you shouldn't have done that.'  When you are pregnant!  Omigod.  I'm wearing these things to Thanksgiving dinner!  Using the bathroom?  Super easy....no buttons or zippers to mess around with.  Seriously, who invented the button and zipper?  All pants should be made like this.  I know, in a few months I will be so over the maternity wear, but for now, I'm enjoying it!  And please, let me know if I forget to zip my pants once I'm back into zippered jeans!


Maternity Smooth-Panel Rockstar Jeggings

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recipe: Oven Fried Chicken Drumsticks

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!

For Christmas I received a subscription to Taste of Home Magazine.  I've always liked their recipes as they are usually quite easy and practical; and tasty too!  The latest triumph from the June/July issue was Oven Fried Chicken Drumsticks.  This recipe happened to be one of the healthy options recipes.  I was skeptical.  It really couldn't be as good as the full fat version, could it?  Surprisingly, it came pretty damn close!  It was no KFC extra tasty crispy chicken, but it really was a tasty healthy substitute (Mike did not like the idea of removing the skins, but he was even surprised at how 'not healthy' it tasted).  It met my other recipe criteria as well; few ingredients and easy enough to make on a weeknight.  This recipe got points for not using any bowls for prepping too!  My only gripe about it is that you need to marinate the chicken for 8 hours or overnight.  That's not a big deal.  It just means that you have to plan ahead.  The dishwasher of the house (Mike) would also like to suggest that you line the baking sheet with foil for easier clean-up.

I'd like to note that the packages of drumsticks at the store came in five and twelve packs.  I purchased two five packs and was heavy handed when measuring the ingredients so as to have enough to coat ten pieces instead of eight. (I like recipes in which I can do this.  This is why I dislike baking.)  It didn't seem to alter the final product.

And without further ado......

Oven-Fried Chicken Drumsticks Recipe


Oven-Fried Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

  • In a large resealable plastic bag, combine yogurt, mustard and garlic. Add chicken; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 425°. In another plastic bag, mix flour, paprika, baking powder, salt and pepper. Remove chicken from marinade and add, one piece at a time, to flour mixture; close bag and shake to coat. (You know you want to say, "My mom made Shake 'n Bake and I helped!" in a southern accent. Go ahead, say it.  I did.) Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet (lined with foil for easy clean-up); spritz with cooking spray. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 180°. Yield: 4 servings.
Nutritional Facts2 chicken drumsticks equals 227 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 81 mg cholesterol, 498 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 31 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1/2 starch.
This recipe is:
Diabetic Friendly

Monday, June 17, 2013

Project 52: April, May, and the rest of the year - FAIL!

As you may have noticed, I have had nothing to show for the recent weeks of the Project 52 challenge I joined in January.  Even before that, my submissions were spotty and uninspired.  As it turns out, I've had other things to occupy my time this year.  Namely, planning for a baby that it due in September.   I'm actually surprised I had any submissions in the months of February and March.  I really don't remember much of that time period as I'm pretty sure I slept through 95% of it!  Thankfully, I'm sleeping the standard 8 hours per day now (okay, on the weekends it's more than that, but that's the norm for me...that I will soon not have the privilege of having), however, photography has been put on the back burner.  It's a shame.  I feel like I've opened up some free time with the scale back of my workouts each afternoon, but taking pictures during that time just hasn't occurred to me.  I'm sure once I have some new 'material' to photograph this fall I will have the camera out a lot more.

Stay tuned.  I plan on trying to keep with with this blog here and there.  In the past few weeks I've finally started cooking some new recipes again (no, there was no morning sickness or aversions to speak of; just plain laziness!) and I think tonight's dinner was a winner worthy of a blog post!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review: BarkBox

This past year for Christmas we gifted Gilbert a subscription to BarkBox.  (Yes, we get gifts for our dog. Sometimes they are practical, sometimes they are not!)  What is a BarkBox you ask?  It's a box containing 4-6 dog goodies that gets delivered to your door once a month.  It's always a surprise but typically the box will contain some treats/bones, a toy, and a hygiene type product.  A card is included to tell you more about the products and the companies that make them.  Most often, these items are not found in pet stores and are more of a specialty item that is only sold online.  Boxes are set up for small, medium, or large dogs (small and cute, just right, and big and bold are their terms) .  So, if you have a great dane you aren't getting a bone meant for a Yorkie.  You can purchase subscriptions in one month, three month, and six month  increments; getting the best deal by purchasing six months.  We started out with a 3 month subscription for $23/month (which includes shipping) and figured we would cancel if we (or Gilbert) didn't like it.  

Personally, I enjoy it!  I like knowing that we get a treat replenishment each month!  It's also an opportunity to see what new products are out there.  Some of the products might not be worth purchasing to us, but you never know if you will find something that you love.  For instance, I really liked the Oatmeal Shampoo that came in December's box.  If I wanted to I could visit the company's website or even Bark Box's store and purchase a full size bottle. I liked the subscription enough that I did not cancel (my one complaint...the subscription automatically renews) and Gilbert is getting another three months. I'm pretty sure Gilbert likes it. He sniffs the treats and then takes the toy and runs while I check out the hygiene product!  I recently brought in a similar sized box from Amazon and I'm pretty sure Gilbert thought it was his Bark Box.  He ran into the house and patiently waited as I opened it. Only to be disappointed that it was not for him!

So, if you are in the market to spoil your dog, try out BarkBox.  It's just as much fun for humans as it is for their best friends!  'Like' BarkBox on Facebook and you can get coupon codes for new subscriptions.  


December - Treats, red velvet dog cake mix, oatmeal shampoo, toy
January - treats, treats, spiral bully stick, moist wipes, toy
What's in here?
February - treats, treats, treats, dental chew ring, toy
March - treats, treats, bionic bone, poop bag holder, toy

Ooooh, a stuffed bone!
Don't touch it.  It's mine!
April - Duck treats, liquid vitamin water dish supplement, grooming mitts,
bone stuffed with something dogs love, and a rope toy.

The newest paper used to package all the goodies.





Sunday, April 14, 2013

Project 52: March

My lack of motivation continued into March.  The weekly assignments were beginning to feel like work and like I was forcing a photo to fit with the theme.  So, I told myself if that weeks photo didn't come to me during the week I wasn't going to force.  Therefore, I missed two weeks!  Oh well, I just don't care.  It's looking like a similar scenario this month, but I'm really hoping the weather improves so I can get outside!

M4H 10/52 Sunlight
 
10/52 Sunlight
 
Sunlight was hard to find.  Here it is shining off of an icicle.
 
 
 
M4H 11/52 Wild Card
 
11/52 Wildcard
 
This was easy!  Here's a lime growing on my lime tree.
 
 
And, that's all folks!  See you next month!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Project 52 - February


If I would take a look back at the photos I’ve taken over the past four years I would probably notice that the least number of them were taken during the winter months.  My guess is that February is the slowest.  It is the shortest month of the year afterall.  It’s also by this time that I am DONE with winter and the short daylight period.   I’ve grown tired of my usual indoor shots.  There just isn’t much going on!
This February is no exception.  Beyond a few photos of how finishing the basement is coming along and my project 52 challenge I have rarely picked up my camera.  If it wasn’t for project 52 I think my camera would have sat unused for a few weeks.  The worst part?  I can barely get myself to take photos for project 52.  I’m so uninspired and just not into it.  For the last few weeks I’ve pulled something out of my arse at the end of the week, just so I could submit something!  I’m hoping with the coming of spring I get my motivation and creativity back.  This funk is not just affecting my photography….my house isn’t nearly as clean as it usually is!

Without further ado, here are the submissions I pulled out of my arse this month:
M4H 6/52 Light

6/52 Light


I didn’t know what I was going to do for this one.  Light is hard to come by these days.  Luckily it snowed late in the week and I was able to get out during the day on Saturday to get these icicles.  I was running in and out of the house when I noticed the sun actually make an appearance!

M4H 7/52 Composed

 

7/52 Composed

This one was a total reach.  I just happened to notice the reflection of the outside trees in my glass coffee table and figured I’d try to do something with that since I had no other ideas.

M4H 8/52 Inspiration

8/52 Inspiration

Yeah, didn’t have any of that this month!  On Sunday I decided to buy some flowers at the grocery store.  I always love to take pictures of flowers and thought that would be good inspiration.  Well, I neglected to refill the water in the vase and they died before they bloomed.  That is so uncharacteristic of me!  On Saturday, I remembered this flowering plant in the kitchen and decided to use that instead.  I brought it to the deck door, the only place we get light inside the house (and only between 11am and 1pm).  Gilbert was laying there sunning himself and I didn’t want to kick him out so I used both him and the flowers as my subjects.

M4H 9/52 White

9/52 White

It’s funny.  For a whole week I had no idea what to do for ‘white’.  I guess I’m so sick of snow that it didn’t even occur to me that snow is not only a Wisconsin winter staple that I hate, but it’s white!  On Thursday or Friday I noticed these huge icicles forming on the gutter from the bathroom window.  Though a reminder of how cold it is outside, they were something different to look at as I blow dried my hair!
I really hope that I won't be whining about my lack of inspiration to my readers next month!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Project 52 - January

I started a new project 52 this year and so far am liking the set-up.  The themes have been interesting and challenging.  I feel like there are a million more participants in this challenge compared to the last one.  Talented participants at that!  Even though they feature over 25 photos as 'eye candy' each week I have a feeling being featured is a hard task to accomplish.  But, we will see.  With more participants I have noticed more participation and comments on the Flickr site which is nice.  We'll see how long that lasts.  I've already become a slacker myself!

Here were my January submissions:

M4H 1/52 Ugh.  Time to wake up, already?

1/52
Time

This is my time to wake up each morning.  Not bad considering I'm AT work at 6:30am. 
I decided to challenge my low light shooting this week as well.


2/52 Fresh

2/52
Fresh

A fresh pair of new running shoes to begin the year.



M4H 3/52 Pieces of me

3/52
Pieces of Me

My purple painted toes describe a few things about me.  Purpletoes, with the addition of my maiden name, was my very first e-mail address.  All the forms of my name were taken so I had to think of something fun.  That's when I looked down and noticed my purple painted toenails.  That e-mail address led to purpletoes becoming my moniker for many websites.  Somehow, using this name still gives me a connection to my maiden name.  Also, one of my biggest pet peeves is unnpainted toenails!  I'm not really a fan of other peoples feet.  Hopefully mine don't gross too many people out!


M4H 4/52 My Daily Routine

4/52
My Daily Routine

Though not always daily, I typically take Gilbert for a walk every afternoon when I get home from work. He was not too happy after this photo session when he realized I had his leash out for nothing!  I like how his one white toe made an appearance in the picture too.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Neilsen Ratings

In the beginning of December the Nielsen people contacted us asking if we would be willing to be a part of their Nielsen ratings survey.  Being the avid TV watchers we are we decided, why not?  The five one dollar bills they promised us were all the incentive we needed! 

Our package, including our diaries (and cash!), arrived a few days before our week of logging began.  We were a bit disappointed that our week was during many of our favorite shows hiatuses, but we still managed to watch many of the other shows that we like to watch.  We were also able to log any shows that we watched on our DVR.  At times I felt like we HAD to watch TV and tried to watch all of our shows during that week.  Other times, knowing that I had to log even snippets of shows, I avoided turning the TV on at all.  I was also slightly embarrassed to log our usual Saturday morning shows, 'Born to Explore' and 'Sea Rescue', considering there is no one under the age of 12 (or even twice that age!) living in our household!  Overall, it was very easy, unobtrusive task. Though, come to think of it, Mike did most of the logging (and more of the TV watching in general) so it didn't really affect me much at all!  I'd like to think that our participation will keep many of the shows we watch on the air for a long time.  I can see 'Born to Explore' being a Saturday morning staple for the next 15 years...all because of me!



Mike sealing up our diary

Ready for Nielsen to add our TV viewing to their statistics