Thursday, December 12, 2013

New year, new job!

So I have been searching all over the web for different Eric Carle themed ideas for my new speech room come January. I love his artistic style and the ideas behind so many of his stories.

There are tons of images of Eric Carle book illustrations and then really expensive items for sale on the Eric Carle official site, but those really don't help out too much for those of us on a budget.

My idea here is just to throw out a few more ideas for y'all trying to decorate with the same theme. :)

One of the best resources I've found is from Amy Mich Designs - they're REALLY affordable templates you can download and print on your own printer (from Teacherspayteachers - see her page of designs here.) The possibilities with these are endless and it's really worth the couple of bucks to not have to cut and paste from all the Eric Carle images yourself.

I tried to find an Eric Carle inspired calendar online, but couldn't find one, so I used Amy Mich's stuff and painted a white piece of posterboard and made my own!


 I also plan on hanging a Very Hungry Caterpillar from the ceiling using round paper lanterns. I saw one on another blog and tried to find it on Pottery Barn Kids, but it's not there anymore. Also, I looked at Party City for the paper lanterns and they were $8 for three... I wasn't about to spend $24 on paper lanterns. So, I took to the internet and found Luna Bazaar where I got 12 items (lanterns and big pom poms) for $16... Much better. I'll post pictures of how the caterpillar turns out :)

More to come later


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Worry Not

As one of the most academically and vocationally important times of my life approaches, I find that my thoughts tend to wander endlessly as I lay down to sleep at night, only to reach the same dead end again and again: What job will I have? Where will I live? Will I even pass my exit exams? ... Over and over the same questions to which I have no answer repeat themselves and result in relentless tossing and turning which only lends to a sore back and weary eyes in the morning.

With the season of Lent upon us, and countless study sessions with friends for the aforementioned exams, I have found myself in a state of reflection. I picked up a book my mom gave to me for Christmas ("Things I Want My Daughters to Know") and read a few chapters out on the balcony as the sunlight warmed my cold nose and Tanner watched expectantly for squirrels...

A few chapters really had some words of wisdom that I thought I would share considering so many of my friends are, I feel, in the same boat when it comes to facing a future that is truly a giant sea of unknowns. Interestingly enough, the first chapter is about finding a job that you love. (Well, we're working on it already, ok?!) "Keep striving for work that really fits the big picture. Aim high....find work that you love that allows you financial independence.... We shouldn't merely work for a living: we should work to make a life." It's inspiring to feel that this moment of my life is nearing. It takes a little bit of worry out of the situation when I am comforted by the fact that I believe I'll love the career I'm about to jump (albeit feeling somewhat lost) into.

So here I was after chapter 1 feeling inspired, yet afraid. Excited, but unsure. And then came the chapter on "thinking positively: you will live longer than a pessimist." Cue sappy music and television infomercials for books about happiness here - believe in the power of happiness! Positive thoughts breed positive action, yada yada yada. My mom's words came ringing into my ears, and I have to admit... I was a little skeptical. But in all honesty, the chapter truly spoke straight to my heart (if that's where worry comes from?) and has me thinking about the next few months in a completely fresh way. Allow me to indulge and hit on some of the highlights that I feel you all may benefit from as well:

  • "You are the only one who chooses what you think." 
    • No one can tell me to be happy, and even if they did, it most likely wouldn't change the way I feel. It all has to start with me - I have to wake up each day and make the choice to be happy and to believe that this life is good and full of purpose. I have to make the decision to let bad things be a source for complaint and discouragement, or ask myself what I can do to change the situation. There is only so much in this world we can change or control (very little, in fact), but we can control our reaction and the positive or negative thoughts we allow ourselves to engage in. 
  • "Paint the walls of your mind with many beautiful pictures." - William Lyon Phelps
    • I think this quote is just beautiful. It brings up images of light and warmth and joy. It reminds me of Philippians 4:8 and the whole idea of "garbage in, garbage out". I have to think of good and positive things, not dwell on the things that can go wrong. In elementary school we read a book about a boy playing basketball and for some reason I've always remembered it... He had to visualize the basketball going through the hoop in order to make the basket. I've honestly kind of thought that the idea of "visualization" was a little new-agey (even for me), but when you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Like Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." 
  • "Formulate a positive philosophy and search, not for the ideal later, but for the actual good now." 
    • I consider myself somewhat of a dreamer; I tend not to live in reality sometimes. So, I like to think about the ideal future of my life. I need to be reminded to think of the now. In another book I'm reading (The Happiness Project), the author states that, "what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while."
  • "Worry is exacerbated by exhaustion and stress."
    • It's an endless cycle. It's hard to stop... but it's only going to make things worse.
  • "Ask yourself what thoughts increase your vitality, elevate your mood, uplift your spirits, and bring you closer toward enlightenment."
    • Back to Phil 4:8 - find out what makes you HAPPY and think about those things....
  • "Optimists will live 19% longer than pessimists."
    • That's about an extra 15 years if the pessimist lives to be 80 (and if we all make it past the impending doom of 2012...)
  • "Being positive is a habit to be developed that then becomes the bedrock of your authenticity."
    • It takes time. Negativity breeds negativity, and positivity breeds positivity. It starts with me. The more I respond with positivity and proactive thoughts, the less I will even have to think about it. It will become habit.
All of this is to say, we can only do what we can do in a situation. Worrying will get us nowhere. So when it comes to our tests, our jobs, our life, we have the choice to let it bring us down or to find a way to respond that will make our life worth living. And immediately, this makes me think of Matthew 6:27, "Who of you by worrying can add a single year to his life?" ... none of us. We have to have faith and believe that we have been given our life in order to grow, to learn, to enjoy, and to share with others. Seek out happiness, love life, and embrace the power that positivity can have upon our needless worry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turkey Burgers

Last night, we had roasted vegetables with some spices (sage, garlic, onion, thyme) and tonight we had those leftovers with the most amazing homemade turkey burgers on whole wheat buns. So simple... and so delicious. Beats out all the turkey burgers we've had around here (and we've had a lot)!



So here's the gist of the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/3 c. plain bread crimps
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. onion powder
Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. 
  2. Separate into fourths. Create 4 patties about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Heat a grilling pan. Grill the patties over medium heat until no longer pink in the middle (about 10 minutes or so). 
  4. Toast some burger buns and top the burgers with cheese (we used swiss). 
  5. If you're us, pair with some Alexia sweet potato fries (20-25 min at 450 in the oven). 
  6. Enjoy :)
That's it! And even better than our favorite Mooyah turkey burger!
Turkey Burger, Roasted Veggies and Sweet Potato Fries

Marbled Lemon Cheesecake

YUM! Went home this weekend for Dad's 51st birthday. It was so nice to have the whole family together to celebrate. Corey came home from Canada on Sunday and we all went to get crepes for brunch. Then, Mom, Corey, Maddy and I went out shopping, picked up a hand-cranking pasta machine, and swung by the grocery store. For dinner, we made steak with marsala sauce, homemade whole wheat pasta with alfredo sauce, the broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken, and some veggies. For dessert, this glorious lemon marble cheesecake I found on pinterest. I normally don't like lemon desserts, but this was the perfect amount of tart mixed with cream cheese. The crust was amazing!






Recipe from Foodess:

Lemon curd is very simple to make – lemon zest and juice whisked with sugar and egg yolks over low heat till thickened. That’s all. It has the consistency of custard when it’s done. It should coat the back of a spoon, and you should be able to make a trail with your finger. If the trail immediately fills back in, it’s not ready yet.
Anything thickened with eggs may curdle if cooked over too high heat, or if cooked too long. And I find people generally don’t enjoy scrambled eggs in their lemon curd. Thankfully, all you need is a fine mesh seive to rescue a curdled curd. Just force the it through the seive with a wooden spoon, and you’ll have a smooth custard.
This recipe uses whole eggs instead of just the yolks. I was skeptical. I hesitated. I almost used another recipe. But it was perfect!

Start by making the lemon curd so that it has time to chill in the fridge while you bake the crust and make the cheesecake batter. I believe cooling the curd completely had an important part in keeping the curd distinct in the finished cheesecake.
It took an outstanding amount of willpower to not eat this by the spoonful before it was baked.

Marbled Lemon Cheesecake
Adapted from epicurious.com
For lemon curd:
               1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
               1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
               1/2 cup sugar
               3 large eggs
               1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces

For crust:
               1 1/3 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
               1/3 cup sugar
               1/8 teaspoon salt
               5 tablespoons melted butter

For filling:
               3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
               1 cup sugar
               3 large eggs
               3/4 cup sour cream
               1 teaspoon vanilla

To make Lemon Curd:
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together lemon zest, juice, and eggs. Stir in butter and cook, stirring constantly, until curd thickens, about 5 minutes. Strain through fine mesh sieve and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until completely cooled.

To make crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Press into a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes; cool on wire rack.

To make cheesecake:
1. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in sour cream and vanilla.
2. Pour two-thirds of the cheesecake batter into the crust, and top with half of the lemon curd. Swirl gently with a knife. Top with remaining cheesecake batter and lemon curd, and repeat swirling. Bake in centre of oven for 45-55 minutes, until set (centre may still jiggle a bit, it will firm up). Cool completely before serving.

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Our very first "fall into health" meal was broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken. It turned out wonderfully! The rolled chicken stayed moist and the breadcrumbs made it nice and crispy on the outside. We paired the chicken with frozen Alexia sweet potato fries (our favorite side these days). What a great way to start kick it off!










Here is the recipe for the chicken (from skinny taste.com - http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/04/broccoli-and-cheese-stuffed-chicken.html)


Chicken Stuffed with Broccoli and Swiss Cheese
Calories: 142 • Fat: 4.9  Carbs: 4.8  Protein: 19.4 
(Serving Size: 1 piece)



Ingredients: 
  • 3 (24 oz total) large chicken breast halves
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp water
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups broccoli floret, cooked, chopped small
  • 5 slices reduced fat Swiss cheese 
  • salt
  • spray oil
  • toothpicks

Directions: 

    Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine egg, water and a little salt. Beat with a fork to make an egg wash. Set aside. Fill a second bowl with breadcrumbs.

    Slice chicken breast halves into thin cutlets. I usually get 3 thin cutlets out of one breast half. Pound them to make them thinner if you wish. This helps when you wrap the cutlets.



    Cut each slice of cheese in half. Place a 1/2 slice cheese in the center of the chicken and top with a little broccoli. Wrap chicken around to completely cover cheese, using toothpicks to secure. Season with a little salt.


    Dip chicken into egg wash, then breadcrumbs. Spray cookie sheet with oil and place chicken on cookie sheet. Lightly spray chicken with oil and bake about 25 minutes, until cooked.

    Recipes

    In an attempt to live a healthier life, Cassie and I are embarking on an eat-for-health dinner diet that includes natural, healthy ingredients and minimal fast food/take out. So anyway, here goes a list of our recipes, what worked, and what didn't.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    stuffed zucchini


    this is, by far, one of my favorite meals. the recipe is from one of my childhood friend's mom - deb tucker. my friend katie had her mom make this for her birthday one summer long ago, and ever since then, i can't make the meal without thinking of her!

    Ingredients:

    • 4 zucchini
    • 1 lb sausage
    • ¼ c. diced onions
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/3 c. breadcrumbs
    • ¼ c. parmesan
    • ½ c. shredded mozzarella

    Instructions:

    1. Cook zucchini in boiling water (enough water to cover the zucchinis) for 10 minutes. Drain. Let cool to touch.
    2. Cut zucchinis lengthwise and pit – leave ¼ inch crusts. Place shells in a 9x13’ pan.
    3. Mush pulp and set aside.
    4. Brown sausage, onion, and garlic until brown. Drain.
    5. Combine sausage mix with breadcrumbs and parmesan.
    6. Spoon mixture into shells.
    7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 min.
    8. Remove and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Put back in oven and bake for 5 minutes.