Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goals for 2012

Well, some of my goals for 2011 sorta fizzled out and some have straggled on.

2011 Goals
  • Reading: I fell a little short of my reading goal which was around 25 but I hit 23. So not a total fail on my goal but I really was hoping to hit higher than my goal. Less internet or tv time in 2012 will help me have a larger list for next year
  • Exercise: I was going to say that the first 75% of the year was a big fail for exercising but I did start the Couch to 5K program earlier. So C25K stopped in September when I hurt my knee and shattered my iPhone all in the same week. I did return to the gym in November and have been doing really well with that but for 2012 I'd like to do both running and working out at the gym.
  • Eating Healthy: Ok, I was kicking butt on this one until November. I went about 5-6 months with NO soda and less sugar and then I fell off the wagon. I won't call this one a total fail because I did see that this is something I CAN do, but the execution of this one was a fail.
So, those were the main goals for 2011 and there were some things I semi-accoplished and others that I did not. I'm ok with that because my main thing I tried to focus on was to not be so rigid that I felt I had to have an OCD attitude towards all the goals. I like to think of them more as benchmarks and the goal is to work TOWARDS that goal, not necessarily an exact line which I had to meet or otherwise it should be considered a failure.

For 2012, I will also focus on these goals as benchmarks and I won't let myself get a negative attitude or beat myself up if I don't hit it exactly. Thats an easy way to break your "resolution" by the 3rd day of January! I'm not aiming for perfection because I know thats not realistic

2012 Goals

Health
  1. Stop eating candy and drinking soda. Also, severely cut back on crap food purchased or eaten out. Good bye McDonald's !!
  2. Exercise more. Going to the gym or running in my neighborhood 4 days a week SHOULD be doable.
  3. Run in 3 5ks in 2012 with the ultimate goal being to run the Disney 1/2 Marathon in October with some friends. The goal will just be signing up and completing the race. 
 Self Improvement
  1. Lose 10-15 lbs and GIVE AWAY the "fat" clothes I'm currently wearing and break out the box of "skinnier" clothes in the back of the closet!
  2. Volunteer with Hospice. I've always wanted to do this and now that the third anniversary of my aunt's death has come and gone I know I need to sign up. She passed away from Ovarian cancer in a Hospice hospital and after reading more about that group I have a new appreciation for the volunteers and workers. They NEVER leave a person alone who is actively dying, thats gotta be a hard thing to do but SO comforting to know that they do. 
  3. Read 35 or more books. Cutting out computer time should definitely help with that goal. I love to read so it shouldn't be a problem, just gotta make it more of a priority than goofing off online.
  4. Stick with the Dave Ramsey plan and work to save more of what we bring home each month. "Cash is king and debt is dumb" is a good motto to follow!
  5. Work more with Julie to help her learn to be more independent. I'm predicting 11 will be a good year for her! Doing her laundry and baking/cooking are easy things we'll work on first. Oh and of course, spending more quality time with her. You know, before she starts rolling her eyes at me and while she still calls me mommy (I'm pretty sure a small part of me will die when she starts calling me mom instead of mommy--sniff, sniff!)
  6. Work on my relationship with my husband. Having 18 days off of work and away from that stress has been very telling and I know I'm a better wife and human being when I'm not dealing with work. I gotta get where I treat him better even when I'm bogged down with life.





Friday, December 30, 2011

Saltine Chocolate Toffee



I've decided I'm not going to take a picture of my version of this Saltine Toffee because this picture does a really good job of showing what it looks like. You can click the photo to bring you to Pinterest or I've copied the recipe from the original site below.

Saltine Toffee

Most of the recipes online show the ingredients as saltine crackers, butter, and brown sugar but there are some slight variations in the quantities. The link I copied above is a good starting point and the pictures show exactly what it looks like but I adjusted the quantities of the ingredients a bit.

I made two batches of these treats because the first batch did not turn out at all. It smelled DELICIOUS but it didn't really work out the way the directions indicated so I know I messed it up somewhere along the way. I spread 40-ish saltine crackers on my silpat lined jelly roll pan and worked on combining the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. The directions indicate that you bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes until its a dark caramel color. I don't know if it was the amount of time I boiled it or something else but when I poured the mixture over the saltines I knew it wouldn't really spread too much. I put it in the oven and it was supposed to spread out over all the crackers and bubble up but it just got hotter and sorta solidified. I tossed out that batch and started over. This time I added more butter (about an extra half a stick) and it spread much more evenly and I was able to complete the recipe.

After looking online, I found that others had some similar problems at that step and they also added more butter or cut down the amount of brown sugar. I guess either works, you just have to decide which you'd rather do. Even with extra butter, you could still see that they were saltines and the samples I've had over the years didn't always show that so I may need to do some more tweaking. Other batches I've eaten you had to really look to see what was used on the bottom. I have also heard using matzo and I may get some of that to try out next time.

Its very addicting! Try it out!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Giver

I don't know why I didn't realize this was a young adult book while I was reading it. I've been reading most of my library books on my Nook this year so I didn't have to go to the children's area of the library to check this book out. Of course, the fact that Lois Lowry wrote the book should have been a big DUH for me, but it wasn't. It was still a great book though and I think it would be a nice book to read with your child if you have one. A lot of the info in here makes you think about your reactions or things you hold to be important and I think that could be a really valuable opportunity to talk about with your kids.

The main character in this book is Jonas and he lives in an Utopian world. Each person is assigned a role that they will fill as an older teen and adult. The children are assigned to the parents that will raise them but those in the role of "birthers" are the ones who carry the children. Then there are "nurturers" and they take care of the children until they are old enough to be given to the parents. Not sure how I'd feel about that but I wouldn't mind the idea of not cooking the meals, they are all brought to their homes daily! At 12 when Jonas is given the role as Receiver from the Giver (the wise old man shown on the cover) he discovers some of the dark secrets in his community and makes some tough choices.

I have not read the other two books in this series, partly because I didn't realize it was a series until I looked it up on Amazon later, which is how I also figured out it was a young adult book! The other two books in the series are Gathering Blue and The Messenger. I have a bunch of Amazon credit (thanks to Swagbucks!) so I may purchase the box set and read these with my daughter since its only $17 for all three.


unbroken

This is one of my favorite new books to recommend and I even gave a copy of this book to my father for Christmas. I won't spoil some of it but I will say that this is based on a true story and the guy is still alive today! I have a new understanding of World War 2 vets and thats a very good thing!

To be completely honest, I'm a little embarrassed just how much of this part of World War 2 history I've forgotten. I did goof off a little too much in school and that is part of it but I really don't think that the Japanese part of the war is covered or discussed as much as Hitler and the German's involvement. I know when thinking of WW2 I don't typically think of what goes on in Japan and in their prison camps. This book gives you a REALLY good idea of what was happening in that part of the world during the war and I highly recommend reading this. Some parts are rather intense but overall the story is really well written and highlights a much forgotten part of the war.

From Amazon:
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit. 


The Wilder Life


I'll be honest, this was not my favorite book. I had a hard time getting into it. The writing was fine but I think I was just expecting a different sorta look at all things Little House. I know that there are huge inconsistencies in the tv show vs. the books but also vs. real life and I think that was part of the bummer feeling I got reading the book. I wanted to like the "real" story about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the "real" Rose Wilder (Laura's daughter) but I didn't come out feeling that way.

I still think I'd like to see some of that part of the country but I don't know that I'd go out there just to see it. I don't have that "ohhh I loooooove Little House books" anymore and I'm kinda ok with that. Nice stories that are that, stories. No more romantic, rose colored glasses sorta thoughts about them but they are still nice to read.

Two Kisses for Maddy


I've been following Matt Logelin's blog for a few years now and have had the chance to read about his experience with the loss of his wife (27 hours after their daughter was born) and watch his daughter Maddy grow up. It was one of those blogs I found through a link, through another link, then another link and although the story is sad I'm glad that I have had the chance to read it. This book goes more into the story than his blog but you could easily pick up this book and love it without having read the blog at all but it is helpful to have had the back story on some of it.

Matt and his wife were around my age and I can't imagine how hard it must be to lose your wife at such a young age only 27 hours after the birth of your first child and then deal with coming home with a newborn without the help of your spouse. Like most men, Matt wasn't as well read on all the stuff that mom's typically read up on while pregnant so its pretty awesome how he was able to just step right in and be the mom and the dad. I'm sure my husband would have had a panic attack or two (or three, or four!).

The writing style on the blog is a lot different than in the book and it was probably the nicest surprise for me. On the blog the posts are long and not every day so he doesn't go into a lot of detail but the book explained a lot of things and gave me a better idea of his experience. I saw WHY he took certain trips and WHY certain landmarks/dates/events held such a deep meaning for him and his wife. I also learned more about their relationship and saw that they really did have a very deep connection. I wasn't sure if I'd like the book because of the detail given on the blog so getting some of the back story and delving deeper into his emotions was really interesting to read and made my heart go out to him even more. He's done a great job with a horrible set of circumstances and I am truly happy that he is doing so well. Go check out the book!

Nothing but Happiness

Do you ever look forward a few years and wonder what your emotions will be when certain things happen? Today is one of those days for me and I am happy to report that my feelings are nothing but happiness. My ex husband and his wife had their first child today and I am genuinely happy for them. We divorced 9 years ago so its been a long time coming for this, he was always the type that I knew would remarry and have kids. I'm actually a little surprised it didn't happen earlier. My daughter is almost 11 and I know she is THRILLED to have a baby sister. I'm sure some of that will wear off when she's asked to change diapers and help but for now, she is very happy. I am happy for her and I am happy that her dad has successfully moved on. For awhile, I wasn't sure that was gonna happen. He was quite the butthead for about a year or so but we've gotten to a good place. Having another family has been a good distraction for him and he's much easier to deal with.

A long time ago I thought I might be jealous or sad when/if he got remarried and had other children but I'm very pleased to discover I don't have any inkling of those sort of feelings. I have been remarried almost 4 years now and for now am happy with having one kid. I'll be 34 next year so I'm not sure if my feelings will change but for now I am very content and that is the best feeling in the world!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wow, Saw a Huge Bear!!

Normally I would not take a picture of a dead animal or post it online but we HAD to stop yesterday when my husband and I saw this bear on the side of the road. We were dropping my daughter off with her father halfway from where he lives and saw this bear on our way into the Ocala National Forest. My husband and I saw it on the way over and didn't point it out to my daughter because I didn't want to make her sad but I REALLY hoped it was still there when we were on our trip back home. I noticed my daughter didn't see the bear so I told my husband that I'd like to try to stop on the way back if it was still there. He said that the game warden would probably be there by then or it would be removed while we were gone so we were both a little surprised to see it there on our way back. I did see a live bear a few months ago on that same road and it was a good sized bear, as it stood higher than the Mazda Miata in front of me as it ran across the road.
Like I said above, I'd never stop to take pictures of any random animal dead on the side of the road but seeing this bear, I knew I had to stop to get a better look. Other than the one bear that ran across the road a few months earlier, the only other bears I've seen have been in a zoo or one in a cage in Cherokee, NC as a child. Having grown up in Florida, I have grown to appreciate some of the wildlife unique to Florida that I know others do not ever get a chance to see. People who grow up in cities don't typically see manatees, dolphins, bald eagles, alligators, panthers and stuff like that on a regular basis and although I'm not some sort of PETA member, I do have an appreciation for wildlife and embrace opportunities to see things like that. We were not the only people to stop to see the bear, there were a few others and we were all amazed at the opportunity to see this giant animal up close. Since I am not a hunter I knew I'd never get to see an animal of this size up close and I still can't believe it was there. It looked to have been there for awhile, so I don't think anyone could have even taken it for meat but it was impressive to see.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Couple of Pinterest Food Fails

Do you ever see recipes online that look delicious and then you try them and are underwhelmed? I have hit a few duds recently and thought I'd pass them along. If you frequent Pinterest I'm sure you've seen the two Pins below and you may have even tried them. I may try to alter them later to see if they work out better but for now, they are not winners in my book.




This looks good, right? Like maybe the cheese and bread crumbs would hide the fact that this is actually a vegetable? Nobody else in my family liked this except me and I wasn't all that thrilled with it either. I know that the kids aren't as fond of fresh vegetables as they are of frozen or canned so that might be part of it but I thought for sure my husband would like this dish. The texture of the broccoli and garlic mixed with the saltiness in the Parmesan cheese didn't really go together like I was thinking they might. Our family LOVES roasted Brussels sprouts with onion, potato and garlic so I thought it might be similar but it wasn't. That darn picture makes it look so good though, I feel like I might want to try it again but it will definitely need some tweaking. 

Here is the direct link to the recipe: Roasted Broccoli






I volunteered to make rolls on Thanksgiving JUST because I wanted to try out these rolls. Because I am competitive and wanted to WIN at baking I decided to do a practice batch the day before just in case. SO glad I did that because these were not very good. They looked beautiful but the taste was way too buttery for me, and not at all in a good way. I don't know if I screwed it up or if they are supposed to taste that buttery but either way, I didn't want to bring them to dinner the next day.

I ended up finding another recipe in a cook book I had just bought at Barnes and Noble with my birthday gift card and those were much better. They tasted more like bread. The practice batch to me tasted like when I was a kid and my brother and I would stay overnight at my grandmother's and we'd melt half of a stick of butter and pour it over a bag of microwave popcorn and you'd get that "OMG that was WAY too much butter" sort of feeling towards the end. These rolls were very heavy and much too rich for me but they might work for you if you like that sort of thing. They did turn out picture perfect though, so if you need something to bring that looks REALLY impressive, these would be good for that. Very pretty!

Direct link to the recipe: Dinner rolls

Monday, December 19, 2011

2 Reasons I Have a New Favorite SNL Skit

 
I love this video is because I hate Tim Tebow and I LOVE the Patriots. Add in the fact that I love watching SNL and you can see why this video has moved towards the top in my list of favorite SNL skits.

I won't lie, I hate Tim Tebow. A more accurate statement would be that I hate anything related to the University of Florida Gators. First, I went to Florida State and secondly, my ex husband is a DIE HARD Gator fan. That alone should give you an idea of why I have a hatred towards that school. My daughter loves them since her daddy loves them but she knows that they are not my favorite so I'm hoping she'll opt for a different college when it gets to be that time. See? I'm not a Tiger Mom, I have very simple college goals for my daughter ;)

I'm semi-superstitious so I won't go on and on talking trash about the Broncos or the fact that the Patriots are the AFC East champs. I will just say that I am very happy that this loss for the Broncos and Jesus Tebow will shut up the Gator fans at work for a little bit. He's a great athlete but not really a stellar quarterback and just because he's won a few games doesn't mean he is Jesus Jr.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Whole New Look at Being a MILF



I ran across this online, its from a pep rally in Minnesota and its just shocking. Captains of some of the winter sports teams were blindfolded and would get a kiss from a "special someone", they did not know that the "special someone" was their opposite sex parent. I'm guessing these teens never thought of their parent as a MILF (or DILF) before!

Sounds semi-harmless but all the kisses were on the mouth. A dad cupped his daughter's face in his hands, one mom moved her son's hand to her butt and another mom/son were on the floor! I cannot imagine how grossed out the kids were to find out it was their parent that they kissed. A kiss on the cheek wouldn't be too embarrassing but the other is just odd. You just KNOW that this is the stuff that people will talk about for years to come at reunions and happy hours in the future. "Dude, that guy made out with his mom" or "That chick's dad made out with her in front of the WHOLE school"

Pep Rally Stunt

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brady Gives it Back



There is no sport team that I love more than the New England Patriots and after tonight's game I love them even more. They made some mistakes against the Washington Redskins but in the end they came out on the top. One thing I love about the Patriots is the attitude of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I am fiercely loyal and competitive and when I see those same traits in a team/coach/player that I love, it just sets it in stone that this is the team for me.

Brady threw a couple of interceptions (which thank God, is not the norm) and got into it on the sidelines with one of the coaches. This is nothing new in the game of football but his response after the game is classic Brady and classic Belichick-era Patriot. There was no blame placed on anyone other than himself, he admits what he did wrong and doesn't dwell on today, always looking to the next game. Saying "I deserved it" is a very mature thing to say and I admire that he admits that to the reporter. He's paid to play the game and he made a mistake and that is not what he is there to do and they called him on it, and rightfully so. I know some don't like Brady but its nice to see a player so in his element and so in tune with the coach and the other players. Its beautiful.

Brady Gives it Back


Brady's Response After the Game


How many of us do that when we have a situation where we acted in the heat of the moment? I'm pretty sure most of us react the exact opposite way in that type of situation. There isn't anything really wrong with that, but it does set Brady/Belichick apart. Watch any interview with Belichick and you will see a similar response and rarely will he even crack a smile. I love that about these men. Fierce, fierce competitors and know that the game is bigger than just them, they are loyal to the TEAM first and I really respect that in them. Like one of the announcers said tonight, "Brady would chew off a leg to win a game". A game in which a player and coach are that competitive is one I want to watch. And come on, who wouldn't want to watch this man do anything play?


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joyful Birth?

Isn't it funny, the things you find randomly online? Who knew a series of photo contest photos would contain such a gem as this? I love the caption on this photo, "Mom joyfully screams "I LOVE YOU BABY" as she delivers her last child, a boy".  

I don't remember joy being one of the things I felt at that moment of labor. I'm pretty sure my line of thinking was more of the "OMG get this baby out of me", rather than anything close to joy. Great photo though, it captures the whole moment. I don't think I'd want to see this type of photo of myself but it would be amazing to have that moment captured forever--even if I didn't want to see it! And if this lady was really yelling out "I LOVE YOU BABY" then that is even cooler to have this moment in her life captured. Thats why I love photography, I like those little moments captured forever.



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