Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Faith, Eggs, Animals, and Windows 8.1

Finally things are winding down for the school year.  I feel as though I have lost the last month or so. My daughter made her First Communion this past Sunday. The day was utterly beautiful. We were lucky enough to have family come in from both ends of the state.  We also were surprised to see an old friend from the town we used to live in at church there to celebrate her niece. Even though we have no close family that live in our town, I do have a second cousin that lives here in our town and it was wonderful that our daughters were making their First Communion together. Despite being new to this town we were happy to have family with us.  But...whew!...that is done.  Sunday school, meetings, a retreat, pictures, and rehearsal and all over in one hour and 15 minutes.  Now we prepare for the end of the year dance recital and last meetings for Girl Scouts. I don't usually like summer but I am looking forward to the break- unless I find a job by then.  
Coloring Easter eggs

Spring break also kept us busy, thankfully.  I always worry about two weeks off with my daughter.  These days I hear, "I'm bored!" way too often.  Week number one we visited my parents.  My mom can really keep us busy. She comes up with all sorts of things to do or will go along with whatever I plan.  We went shopping, had dinner at my favorite hometown restaurant, invited my niece and nephew to a sleepover, got to see some of my aunts, and even squeezed in some genealogy research at the library. The second week it was just me and my daughter (my husband was still on 14-15 hour days).  Her two neighborhood friends were gone and the first day I heard, "I'm bored!".  So we filled the week by seeing the movie "Home", taking a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo, doing more shopping, creating some arts and crafts, coloring Easter eggs, and making Easter sugar cookies. Now that she is older it is much easier to keep her occupied and we have more options for fun. 

I am overjoyed to finally have a new computer. I can't describe the feeling of being able to do more than one thing at a time! Our old computer was about 9 years old and would freak out on me if I required to much...like opening a webpage! Ha ha. Now I can start on a redesign of my blog.  I am not sure yet if I will simply redesign or switch to WordPress altogether. I am teaching myself Windows 8.1 as well as new design techniques so bear with me. I used to do well navigating around computers but technology changes fast and I am trying to keep up.  Some days I feel my daughter knows more than me about computers. Then again, I think my parents probably felt the same way when home computers came around. Ooops...did I just show my age? My birthday is in 2 1/2 weeks and as my daughter says to me, "why are you so old?".  Sigh.  


This is the end result of buying an 8 year old face paint. She did it herself! Unfortunately, she could not get my dad to let her do his face. 

Our speckled Easter eggs


On the carousel at the zoo

Butterfly exhibit at the conservatory next to the zoo


Seeing the polar bear- although he wasn't too active that day


First Communion day finally upon us

My girl isn't so little anymore and it is incredibly bittersweet





Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cutting off the head of the PCOS snake

Spring brings changes. My life is no exception. PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is rearing its ugly head again. As another ultrasound looms I am reassessing what I can do to make more changes in my lifestyle. Little steps are obviously not working so I have to step it up. I admit I am not a cook. I love to bake but not cook which gets me into trouble sometimes. I am, for the most part, a pretty picky eater.  In the past few years I have ventured out of my comfort zone and tried new things like asparagus and could not believe that I actually like it.  Cutting out sugar and some carbohydrates is the hardest. Sugar is everywhere!  
I started drinking warm water with lemon in the mornings and have to say that it does wake me up and makes me feel great.  I have also cut back on carbonated drinks which has helped tremendously. A new 'go to' for me is almond milk. I was hesitant at first but find I now love the flavor and thickness. Yogi teas are also great.  Just like the almond milk- once you get used to something you come to like it. You have to train your taste buds. 

Apps on my phone like FitnessPal and Runkeeper have been great motivators and help in keeping track of both calories, carbs, and exercise routines. I also have a dry erase calendar in which I can write notes and keep track of daily exercise. Having this on the wall in my kitchen keeps the lifestyle a daily reminder and not tucked away in your head.  





Mmm...love me some peppers! I also love adding some flaxseeds or chia seeds to certain foods. 

I was so happy that yesterday was the first day of Spring. Getting outside and walking is what I love most. All winter I hated the elliptical and too many times avoided going in our exercise room. I would much rather enjoy the fresh air.  
Happy Spring!   

Friday, February 27, 2015

Snow, A Missing Husband, and Genealogy

Is it Spring yet? I usually am not the type of person to rush out of winter but for some reason this winter is truly giving me cabin fever.  Although I am bummed that we have not had a snow storm like the kind I had growing up. I guess I can't expect that anymore now that I do not live near infamous lake effect snow bands.  Oh how I miss those 12-16 inch snow 'events'.  My daughter is a little sad that we do have our hill in our yard anymore (ssshhh...I kind of miss sledding down our hill too!). The snow does not bother me. I learned how to drive at age 16 in snow storms. What gets to me is the bitter cold.  I can't remember when we last saw temps in the 30's.

Genealogy has kept me busy on these cold days (when I am not looking for a job).  I always have spurts of the research bug.  I can go a solid 6-9 months without even looking at my research and then have a spell where I can't get enough and get engrossed in it. This spell is bad...in a good way.  The where, when, why, and how questions take over my brain.  I have dead-ends that aggravate me and keep my mind running trying to figure out the next step to take. I have an Ancestry.com account again but feel it does me no good because I have already gained almost all of the information I can from it in years past.  Plus, I am completely annoyed with people who have put their research on the website and there are errors left and right. Example: How can a mother bear children who are born before she is?! Check your facts and dates people! I am also to the point where I have to travel to gain research and insight or pay for records. We have close to 10,000 relatives in my database so you can imagine that keeping tabs on all of it can drive me crazy but I absolutely love it.

My daughter and I have also had a lot of time alone together.  My husband has been MIA. Work. Deadlines. Projects. 80+ hour weeks. Ugh! The life of a civil engineer. For several months it can be 40 hour weeks and struggling to find stuff to fill days to all of a sudden...BAM! Three weeks or more of chaos. After 13 years I am used to it.  We have had mommy/daughter shopping days, dinners out, and playing teacher or board games. We also keep very busy with my daughter's Girl Scouts, dance, and religious education classes and retreats to prepare for her First Communion in April.

Despite keeping very busy I am done with winter!





Monday, January 19, 2015

Projects

Before Christmas I had an itch to do something creative for gifts. I have done small little projects in the past but wanted to go bigger and work with wood this time around. I immediately went to my favorite place for inspiration- Pinterest. Love it. If you are on Pinterest you may have seen projects and home decor ideas from Shanty 2 Chic. They have a wealth of projects to do from simple for the first-timers up to complex for the advanced DIYer. I found two projects more on the easy side since I am no where near being advanced in craft projects.

                            Project #1- Large hanging "Thankful" sign


You can find the project and printables for the letters here: DIY Thankful Photo Board 

I used a 1X8 piece of wood 36" long and stained it a darker color.  I also picked up some strong twine, decorative nail heads (or thumb tacks), and some clips at Hobby Lobby. These supplies at Hobby Lobby cost me around $9.00 (some items were 50% off). The twine and tacks were plenty to make multiple signs. The clips allowed me to make two signs with 6 clips on each sign to hold pictures.  




After staining the wood and allowing it to dry for at least 24 hours, I printed out the letters on my computer and cut them out.  I then attached them to the piece of wood with a tack in each corner of each letter.  




After I had all the letters placed I worked on attaching the clips. Shanty-2-Chic used gel Gorilla glue to the hold the clips in place. However, I wanted to make sure they stayed in place. Since my clips had little holes in them I used a nail and a punch to hammer them into the wood. I placed the clips evenly underneath or between the letters.  

I then drilled a hole above the letter "H" and the letter "U".  I strung the twine through the hole and tied a knot. Hang on the wall and attach pictures with the clips! It really was not that difficult and inexpensive. 



Project #2-  Photo block
You can find the project details here: Photo display block  Printables are included. 
I used a 2X6X8 piece of board and cut it down to 12".  I ended up making three of these. I stained the blocks a dark color. I bought swirly ornament hooks at Hobby Lobby. They were 50% off so they only cost $2.00.


Let the stain completely dry on the block (about 24 hours).  If you don't let it dry all the way it will warp the paper once you attach it. I printed out the sayings I wanted from the website and attached them tacks in each corner


. I used the same tacks from the previous project.  After attaching the saying to the block I drilled four very small holes in the top of the block. I them straightened out the end of four hooks.  I used gel Gorilla glue on the end of the hook and stuck it in the holes I drilled.  I let the glue dry and then stuck pictures on the hooks.
A cute project for under $5! 









********

I also made a few hand scrubs. I love to do these and even make them often for myself. They are called "Pomegranate Hand Scrubs" 
I use a small mason jar with 3/4 full of sugar and 1/4 filled with Dawn Olay Hand Renewal Pomegranate dish soap. Mix well and enjoy the beautiful smell the next time you scrub your hands. It also leaves them soft and smooth. I bought lids for the jars at Hobby Lobby so I could write out the name on the top. I also used twine from my first project to tie a bow around the jar. Since I already had a stockpile of jars and sugar at home I only bought the dish soap and labels for a total of around $6.00. 



Now, I think I have to start thinking of more projects to take on. I had a lot of fun with these DIY projects.  I am also working on refinishing an old wood side table my mom gave me to put in our master bedroom next to our couch so that I have a reading area- just for me. More on that when it is complete! 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's December already?

Our tree! 
Distractions run a muck this time of year. Thanksgiving kicks it off.  We had plans to travel like every holiday since we have no family close by. This year? Bob Evans. Yum. Not that we planned it that way.  We were set to drive two hours to my in-laws for the day but my daughter got sick. Rather than torture her with a total of four hours in the car that day we ate Bob Evans and put up our Christmas tree. We basically replayed the year I was pregnant with our daughter. We could not go anywhere that year either because I was ready to pop any day and we had to stay close to the hospital. Traditions go out the door those years but sometimes that can be a breath of fresh air.

A few days after Thanksgiving we celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday with a 'Frozen' themed party for relatives. Can I just say this....and I know others will agree with me....I am getting sick of 'Frozen'. It is everywhere.....EVERYWHERE! Being a communications/public relations major I do give them props though for monster marketing that is successful beyond measure.

Then comes Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, and more travel. I get a reprieve in that my husband's company decided to have their office party after the new year...whew. One less item to deal with before Christmas. This year Christmas is with my family about 2 1/2 hours north of where we live. Santa Claus is still prevalent in our house so gift planning and logistics of moving the merchandise north is tricky. She is not as naive as she used to be. I become the gift ninja.

Between holiday and birthday festivities I am job hunting.  Ok, well maybe I have abandoned that a lot until after the new year. Mostly right now job hunting means beefing up my portfolio, hunting for a great interview outfit and reading books to help me 'reinvent myself'. Yes, apparently some of these books think I am verging on 'old' and have to keep up with hip twenty-somethings by watching 'Keeping up with the Kardashians', hanging out at Starbucks, and finding some 20 year-old to dress me.  Okay, okay-the book did not say it in those exact terms but I can read between the lines. So I went to Starbucks today. Check that off my to-do list. However, someone will have to point a gun to my head in order to get me to watch the Kardashians.

'ole girl is getting old but still serves me well
In the last week I have also heard my camera crying, "come play with me Jennifer. It has been so long!". However, I hate this dreary time of the year so I have been snapping pictures of weird stuff around the house working on my love-hate relationship with light. People always ask why I don't start photographing people. I hate people. No, not people in general- just photographing them. They move around too much and a good majority are not a fan of getting their picture taken.  I much prefer nature and still life. Calm and quiet.

I have also been working on some projects. I cannot talk about them or show photographs until after Christmas. I am excited to show you my crafty side which is still in bloom.

I hope the holiday spirit is washing over all of you! Breathe deep and enjoy family.




Thank you Pinterest for birthday decor ideas!


I made the cake with specific direction and detail from my daughter...don't judge! 


It cannot be a party without M&M's, right?


"Mom, I want a regular cake AND cupcakes!" 





 



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"I am soooo bored!".....not this week!

My parents beautiful property
Near Lake Michigan
My daughter is on fall break...for two weeks...ugh! Breaks give me anxiety.  My daughter's favorite phrase lately is "I am sooooo bored!" -despite a room full of toys, a laundry room stuffed with crafts, a spare bedroom littered with legos, a kindle, a DS, games, a bike, movies, and too much more for her to keep busy.  Rather than stay home the entire two weeks we packed up and headed to my parents for the first week. I love my parents house. So in love with it.  First of all, it is returning to my hometown--hitting up my favorite restaurants and shops.  Secondly, my parents house is so beautiful.  I can only wish to have a home like theirs someday.  They built it almost 5 years ago so it is not the home I grew up in, but that does not matter in the least. I don't need to spend money on little vacation getaways when I have my parents little retreat.  Cozy, comfortable, my second home. The landscaping is gorgeous and I still wonder how my mom and dad take care of it all.

After arriving we swung by Lake Michigan to walk along the pier and see the beach and ate lunch at one of my favorite hometown restaurants over looking a 'creek' that opens up to Lake Michigan.  During our visit we also visited a lighthouse museum, took a short drive to visit my college alma mater, enjoyed a wagon ride out to an apple orchard and pumpkin patch, went bowling, and shopped at my favorite outlet mall.

Now that we are back home I was afraid the "I am sooooo bored" whining would return. Nope....thank goodness for twin neighbor girls who keep our daughter laughing and playing!

I do savor every minute of her breaks...I really do.  I know that once I find a job I won't have these breaks with her anymore.... or as much time to visit my parents.  


Walking all the way out to the lighthouse


My mom knows how to decorate her yard

No shortage of places to enjoy a good book on my parents porch

Up by Lake Michigan



My daughter doing a little dance near the lighthouse museum
I miss this view from my parents porch already

Driving the county roads was so beautiful last week

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finally....it's Fall!

Finally it is fall. My absolute favorite time of year. The crisp air, the colorful leaves, spicy chili, pumpkins, football, and hot apple pie equal heaven. I love to take pictures this time of year but I only wish I had a better camera. Many professional photographers (I consider myself a mere hobby photographer) say that it is not the camera that takes great pictures, but rather the person taking the photos that matters. I beg to differ when my camera is slightly scratched up on the lens, has a temper mental flash, and is almost 10 years old. I also cannot tell you how much it sucks only having a 50mm lens.

We went on a day trip to see covered bridges about an hour from our house this past weekend.  I took several photos with my digital camera (Cannon EOS Rebel XT with 50 mm lens) before the battery died. I was so unprepared for this day trip. I switched over to my phone camera which was at 10% battery life...ugh...so unprepared. I got better pictures on my phone than on my digital camera.  The scratches on my digital are killing me!

Maybe you can tell which ones are from which camera...maybe not.  I can and it pushes me to start my camera savings bucket.

I am still in the process of deciding how to change my blog and whether I will switch hosts or not. I am craving change.  Along with my renewed love for photography, I am also diving back into my genealogy.  Under the surface of my hobbies I continue to look for a job. More accurately put- a career and not just a 'job'.  This is proving difficult after being home for 8 years and trying to convince potential employers that I have not sat around watching soap operas and eating bonbons.  I am not a great salesman and I have to sell myself.

A few more days of job search and then my daughter has two weeks of fall break and we will venture around to find great photo opportunities and fall activities.