Saturday, August 20, 2011

My most helpful summer read...

Not quite a year ago I was diagnosed with ADD. I'm not ashamed of this disorder. I wish I didn't have it, but I wish a lot of things and that wouldn't be at the very top of my list. I can tell you that being diagnosed and starting medication has changed my life for the better, however, it doesn't just make the ADD go away entirely. I still struggle with certain things, but I'm learning to manage my symptoms by changing how I do things that haven't been working all these years. What medication has helped me do is be able to focus on lectures (I returned to school full-time at BSU). It is easier to concentrate when I study, and eliminate distractions. I can also sit still for longer than 30 minutes. I know that ADD is a controversial subject, and medication is a personal choice. Whether you take medication or not, an individual with ADD will have to learn additional skills to help them meet society's expectations.

I've read several books on the subject of ADD/ADHD. My favorite by far is this one:

ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau.

The reason I LOVE this book is because it understands my challenges and gives me ideas tailored specifically for them.

So, why don't traditional planning/organizing ideas help me?

Well, one example is I have a problem with "prospective memory", that is the type of memory for tasks that need to be completed in the future. The problem is that when I file "return library books today" away in my brain, it doesn't get retrieved unless I have a visual reminder. So, I may remember the library books are due when I'm at home eating breakfast, but will not remember again until I see a book or get a notice in my email account. So, the idea shared in the book is to create a "Take Me With You" basket, which is simply a basket by the door. When I'm eating cereal and think, "I need to return the library books today" then I need to get up and place them in that basket immediately. It is an established daily habit to take things out of that basket each time I leave. The items would then go into a clear plastic bin on the passenger seat of my car (my errand box), where they will be visual reminders to run the errand.

Another example: I don't do well with calendars on the computer or my iphone. Even setting an alarm for reminders doesn't help. If I have a doctor appointment on Thursday at noon, I can't set a reminder for anytime other than an hour before the appointment or I may forget it. Out of sight, out of mind. The 60 minute warning works for me most of the time, even though at times it creates a bit of chaos making sure I get there on time because I wasn't really planning for the appointment until I got the reminder. So, I've learned that I MUST use a paper day planner. It is once again a visual tool that helps me to know what I have that day. I use one that shows all seven days on a two page spread and each day runs from 8am-9pm. It's a little old-fashioned and it's a bulky, big item to haul around, but it is what works!

So, yes, I can be forgetful. It can be very embarrassing at times and it can make others frustrated or angry. I don't like that and I'm encouraged in reading this book. I am loving all the ideas I've implemented so far! I'll be sharing a few of them in the near future. I've got my "command center" about done and I'm working on other things. It is a relief reading a book that seems tailor-made for me. I love that the authors understand my challenges and share ideas to help me better adapt. Even those without the challenge of ADD could benefit from it's simple ideas to get organized.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Self-Reliance and Money

I just finished this book... an interesting read. I learned quite a bit about investing. Not enough to be an expert, but enough to understand how Roths work, the different types, the limits and requirements. I learned about the basics of the Stock Market, banking, life insurance options, etc...

If you are a woman wanting to get more familiar with your money or how to grow your money, then this book can help. One of my favorite chapters was that about wills and trusts. I didn't know that trusts protect what you leave behind so the beneficiaries actually get what you leave without hassles and without paying a lot of money. Good stuff!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chicken Pillows with Gravy

I'm trying out some new recipes... desperate to be able to create a rotating menu for this fall. Preferably meals that the kids will eat (insert rolling eyes here).

I found a winner tonight. It's based off a recipe in the Girlfriends On The Go! Cookbook, called Chicken Pockets.

I've re-named them Chicken Pillows (so that my son will not associate them with Hot Pockets). This recipe includes the additional changes I made to the filling. I was in a hurry, so I used my Quick Pizza Crust as a substitute for the dough.


Dough (2 hour French bread):
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. yeast
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1/3 c. oil
2 cups very hot tap water
6 cups flour

Chicken Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
2 cups cooked and cubed chicken
1/2-3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
5-6 slices of Canadian bacon, chopped
1/4 tsp. onion powder with parsley

Chicken Gravy:
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup milk

3 Tbsp. milk
1 - 2 cups Italian bread crumbs

Directions for the Dough: dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup water. In a large bowl, combine salt, oil, and 2 cups hot water. Mix in 3 cups flour. Add the yeast mixture. Mix in remaining 3 cups of flour. Punch down every 10 minutes for 50 minutes. If making Chicken Pockets, continue on to the next part of the recipe. If making French Bread, shape, and let rise until double. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Directions for the Chicken Pillows: Blend cream cheese and melted butter until smooth. Add the remaining filling ingredients. Roll out bread dough and cut into 3" squares. Place 1/2 cup of chicken mixture in the center of each square. Pull up the corners and seal the edges. Roll in the melt and then in bread crumbs. Let rise until double in size. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with the chicken gravy (heated soup and milk).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Storytime Fun

Jared and I have read two books together recently. I LOVE that special time of reading out loud to him. Even though he's plenty big enough to read on his own, I enjoy sharing the adventures and spending the quiet moments with him.

I love Jared's sense of humor and that he dislikes cliff-hangers. It usually takes some convincing to begin a particular book, but once a few chapters in he is hooked and is often begging for longer reading sessions.

Caitlin is my bookworm. She has loved books from the beginning. She used to stack them so high in her doll buggy that they toppled over. She'd push them from room to room. Her prized possessions. She'd also line them up in rows, filling the family room floor with books. When it was reading time (an all day, off and on again event), I would tell her to pick a book and she'd pick ten.

Jared, is fussy. He judges books by their covers and nothing ever sounds worthy of his time. Usually I insist on a particular book, and he doesn't get excited about it until we are several pages in. SIGH.

Wednesday I took him to the library and he selected non-fiction books about animals. He taught me everything I'd want to know about penguins, LOL! I browsed the children's section of the library... looking at the picture books and remembering the fun I had reading those to the kids. I miss reading them their favorite stories. Caitlin's favorite was Dr. Seuss' ABC's. In fact she wore out her first copy and I had to buy another one because her book would fall apart when you opened it. I would read that book in a fun sing-song voice. She learned he letters before age 2 and she could read at age 3- 1/2. Jared, liked Brown Bear, Brown Bear (What do you see?). I had my favorites too. I'll have to make a separate post about them, there are too many.

Although Jared is plenty big enough and capable of reading on his own, I'm so glad I can still share this special time with him. Last night I was looking at his long big feet and thinking how much longer can it last? I'm totally going to take advantage of this summer and read lots more with him.

Our latest reads include:

Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice is a fun filled adventure with action, humor, and mystery. It has cliff-hanging moments and characters that are realistically imperfect, but lovable. We are planning to start book 2 of this series tonight. (I believe that there are nine books in the series).

Room One by Andrew Clements

Room One is an entertaining read about a boy who loves playing detective. It is a great story that supports the importance of the character traits of honesty, trustworthy, compassion, kindness and responsibility. Good stuff.

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quick & easy pizza crust

I've been looking for a pizza crust that I can mix together and use right away without waiting for the dough to rise.

I found this recipe on it's called Valentino's Pizza Crust. It was quick, easy, and yummy.

Quick & Easy Pizza Crust

1 c. warm water (110 degrees F)
1 Tbsp. white sugar
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Stir water, sugar, and yeast together until dissolved. Add the olive oil and the salt. Stir in the flour until well blended. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Pat dough into pan or on to a pizza stone using fingers dipped in olive oil. If desired sprinkle basil, thyme, or other seasonings on crust. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vegetable Curry

Here is a tasty vegetarian dish. I thought it had just the perfect amount of spice (heat), but adjust to your own liking. I usually order mild-medium when I eat out, and often just mild.

Vegetable Curry (Serve over rice)

4 medium carrots, sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
8 oz. fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces (**Next time I will replace these with cauliflower)
1 c. coarsely chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 14 oz. can vegetable broth or chicken broth (I make mine using bullion cubes)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
Hot cooked rice

Stove Top Method: (What I did) - Combine carrots, potatoes, garbanzo beans, green beans, onion and garlic into a medium to large saucepan. Add the curry powder, coriander, crushed red pepper, salt and cinnamon, mix well. Stir in broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add diced tomatoes and tapioca. Return to a simmer, stirring often as it thickens. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Slow-cooker Method: In a 3 1/2-5 quart slow cooker, combine carrots, potatoes, garbanzo beans, green beans, onion, garlic, tapioca, curry powder, coriander, crushed red pepper, salt, and cinnamon. Pour broth over all of it. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7-9 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours. Stir in undrained tomatoes. Cover; let stand for 5 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Red, White and Blue -PART I

I spent some time this week putting up my 4th of July decorations! I had a few crafts to finish, so I had to get a bit crafty this season to get out the RED, WHITE and BLUE ... I cut a small flag off its' stick and framed it. I love this blue and white mug I've been using upstairs for pencils. It goes well with the flag and "fireworks".

To dress up simple red candles, I cut lengths of red and white striped ribbon, securing them to the candles using small brass brads. Then I painted some small wooden stars blue and used hot glue to attach. I love the simplicity.

This is an older decoration... a board painted white with vinyl lettering. I thought it was a bit plain though, so I painted the edges red.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Peach-Pecan Muffins

YUMMY! Another new recipe!

These muffins aren't too sweet. They are a perfect breakfast muffin, but I made them for snacking. I suppose if you wanted a sweeter muffin you could add some extra sugar to the thawed and diced peaches. Either way... they are great as is too!

Peach-Pecan Muffins

Pecan Streusel:
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 + 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup frozen sliced peaches, thawed and diced
12 paper baking cups
vegetable cooking spray (I use foil baking cups and don't need to use the spray)

1. Prepare Streusel: stir together pecans and next 4 ingredients until crumbly.

2. Prepare Muffins: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in the center of mixture. Stir together the butter, milk, and egg; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Gently stir in peaches.

3. Place paper baking cups in a 12-cup muffin pan, and coat with cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full. Sprinkle with pecan streusel.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (check after 15) or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan, and serve warm or at room temperature.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Grilled Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

I tried a new recipe tonight. It was a winner! I didn't just like it... it was SO VERY GOOD!! I wish I knew what magazine I clipped it from. Like most recipes I use, I made some minor adjustments. If you try it out let me know what you think!

Grilled Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 10-inch flour tortillas (* I used 8)
1 large sweet potato (*I used a yam)
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces) (* or more)
1 1/2 cups tightly packed fresh baby spinach
1 cup salsa
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
guacamole (optional)
sour cream (optional)

1. Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1/2-inch pieces. Cover with water and boil until fork-tender.

2. In a large skillet, saute' onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Stir in black beans, corn, lime juice, oregano, and cumin; heat through. Add spinach and 2 Tbsp. water. Saute' another 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Butter one side of a tortilla and place on a grill or a grill pan. Sprinkle with cheese, place approximately 1/2 cup of the sweet potato mixture onto one half of the tortilla. When cheese begins to melt fold over the tortilla. Grill until the tortilla is a nice golden brown and crispy.

4. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My favorite cookie!

Peanut Butter Star Cookies

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Mix together. Then add:

1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Chill dough for an hour. Roll the dough into 1" balls. Roll the balls into sugar and then place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven. Place a chocolate star in the center of each cookie and return to the oven for one minute. Let sit for a few minutes before moving the cookies with a spatula to a cooling rack.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Made my day!

So, yesterday my English professor returned my second essay. I was anxious to hear how I did on it, after all it was my first article analysis. I'm beginning a research paper and looked forward to hear feedback that may help improve my writing.

When she placed my essay face down in front of me and whispered in my ear "please stay after class to talk with me", my heart sank. Did I really do that poorly? UGH! I turned my assignment over and found the typical rubric with the score 15++/15.

She went over the scoring in class and it slowly sank in that I had received an excellent grade. WOW!

After class, the professor told me it was one of the best student essays she had ever received and encouraged me to fix something on the citation page and then submit it to the Presidents Awards (which was due by 5pm that day). She told me I am a good contender for first place. Yes, me!

That's all I needed to hear! I mean, it doesn't even matter IF I win. It was only a month ago that I told Michelle, a friend on campus, that I have never thought of myself as a good writer. So, to hear that I have something a professor deems as "publish worthy" is just drop-jaw-amazingly-great NEWS! Of course, now I probably need to stop being careless on my blog... or you won't believe it!

What a boost! It just makes me wonder: What else can I do?!?!

I can't wait to find out!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A day in the trenches

What a day! My tongue is still numb from the too hot herbal lemon "tea" I drank this morning. It was suppose to numb my sore throat, but my tongue got in the way. I'm drinking Vitamin Water Zero's like my tongue is actually on fire. Trying to drown the germs; I'm going to pretend it's working.

English class was a bit better than normal. The thing I hate about that class is that all the kids (my classmates) do not talk. They are as unsocial with one another as I have ever seen a class be. 30 kids (counting myself, haha) and silence. So, I'm sniffling and blowing my nose into wads of stiff cheap toilet paper, the type that public restrooms stock, and nobody in my group of 8 will read the Journal. We are discussing peer-reviewed articles and how scholarly journals are composed. The assignment is to pick one of the articles inside. My group hands the Journal "Criminology" to me. I cough into the inside of my elbow and blow my nose. "Really?" I asked in a croak. Silence. Yes, really. So, I flip open to the first article. In a congested nasal voice I read. Cough, read, sneeze, read, blow nose, read, and the kids look on as I read about a link found between the homicides of strangers and capitol punishment and media attention. I hope none of these kids are in my literature class next semester. SIGH.

I study all morning to re-take my math test. It's the first test I've had to re-take, I got a 77% the first time around. I am really good at forgetting the negative sign or copying the problem down wrong. It's very frustrating. So, I study and I feel ready. I'm going to get a hundred and that will put my overall class score back to 99%. Nope, I got an 84%. That is such a bummer! It's not a horrible score, I suppose, except to me. I'm still at a 92% overall, but that is just too close to a B (89%). I really need to learn to give myself an occasional break, you know? So, I'm working hard at holding my head up, which now feels like a bowling ball. My muscles ache, and I wish I could climb into a deep tub filled with hot water and bubbles. I need soothing music and some pretty smelling candles, even though I don't think my nose is working right now.

So, as soon as I do a research assignment, drop Scotty off at Jiu Jitsu, pick up Caitlin from volleyball practice, pick up Scotty from Jiu Jitsu, fix the family dinner, and study for my government quiz I'm going to treat myself to that tub soak. I hope I can stay awake long enough, LOL!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Worm Guts

So, I'm enjoying the fresh air the rain brings. It is invigorating, especially in the cool morning temperatures! I love how much good the rain brings. It brings freshness, bathes the earth, waters the grass, plants and beautiful flowers. It provides us with a very needed resource: water.

Of course there are some not so pleasant things about rain... the frizzy hair, the wetness, the big puddles, umbrellas, mud and... the worm guts all over the sidewalks here at BSU, from being trampled among thousands of feet. It felt a little bit like navigating through a mine field (with less consequences, of course, for the miss step). At some points I chose to carry my rolling bag, thankfully it is lighter today.

Thinking about these poor worms and the ugliness of the worm guts, I thought it was too bad rain brings them out to the surface. How like real life that is. Real life brings so much joy and good into life and... "worm guts" too. We have to navigate around them; sometimes we can't avoid them and cringe our way through every step.

We all have our share of "worm guts" don't we?

A nice lady opened the door for me here in the Liberal Arts Building. She and I got into what Caitlin would call an "inappropriate conversation with a stranger". (Caitlin is of the opinion that I talk to strangers too much. I enjoy striking up conversation with people I don't know and find it friendly; it embarrasses her.) Anyhow, we talked about the worm guts and she observed, "I walked through the park to get to campus this morning and the birds are having a great time!"

That made me smile. How very optimistic those birds are and what full tummies they must have! I think I need to concentrate on seeing the good in "worm guts." Although, that's not an announcement that I'm going to enjoy "eating them".

I'm sure if we look at the "worm guts" in our lives, those things we don't like and try to side step, we can find something good from the bad. It's not easy; "worm guts" are unsightly. But, carefully we can walk through life and avoid most of them and be sure to clean up the rest. The big key is smiling through every step!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Be Kind to Yourself

I read something today that reminded me of something I wanted to start doing on my blog. I am reading an incredible book by Toni Sorenson called "Defined by Christ".

I cannot say enough great things about this book, it has nourished me from page one. She says:
"The adversary loves to remind us who we are not. Not pretty. Not smart. Not strong. And his destructive voice might not be the only voice we hear. Satan is skilled at recruiting other people to reinforce his cruelties and those who supposedly care more about us - and they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds. I wonder how often we say unkind words to people without realizing the damage we are doing to their spirits. I wonder how often our tongues are on the errand of evil without even realizing it... The most destructive thing we can possibly do in life is to make another person doubt his worth and identity as a child of God. The very most productive thing we can do is to help ourselves and others realize that as children of God, our worth is infinite." (page 52)

A few weeks ago I decided that I was going to start treating myself better. I was going to change the negative self-talk I sometimes experience into positive self-talk. I was going to be better at ignoring the whisperings of Satan and those he has influenced to criticize me. I know I am worthy of love and kindness. I am going to treat myself as I deserve to be treated and learn to see myself as my Savior sees me.

So every day I plan to do at least one thing kind for myself AND give myself one compliment.

I'm not sure I will post them all here, I'll have to think about that, but I will post today's...

Today I am being kind to myself by NOT allowing myself to be negative about writing an English paper. I doubt my abilities to write papers but, I am going to challenge that thought by reminding myself that I have scored 100% on all 7 papers I have turned in since going back to college this fall.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mr. Darcy takes second place

So, I wasn't going to read this book for Book Club next week, but my friend Lisa told me it was one of her favorites!

I am so glad I read it because it is now one of my favorites too! It is very rare to find someone as endearing as Mr. Darcy, however, Captain Elliot beats Mr. Darcy hands down. What a rare find. Do men like this actually exist? I'm not sure.

Read this book if you like humor and clean romance. You will not regret it. It's also full of heartache and sadly, I relate to much more of Sarah's struggles than I wish to be.

Time to return the book to the Library, but this one I'm going to have to buy before too long!

Wish they would make it a movie!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An experience worth having, although painful

One of my English textbooks is called The Best American Magazine Writing 2009. I just finished a reading assignment and have to share this essay. It is a very touching story of a fallen soldier's final trip home. Emotional, yes. Painful to hear at times, yes. But it's also life changing and will remind you of a soft side of humanity. It will probably stir feelings of respect, honor, and gratitude.

The essay won the 2009 award for Feature Writing. It is called "The Things That Carried Him: The True Story of a Soldier's Last Trip Home" and it was written by Chris Jones for the Esquire magazine. (Not the most wholesome magazine, I know, I googled it.)

I found a .pdf file doing a google search. Unfortunately, because it's copyrighted, I cannot load it up here. So, Google the article by name and author and you should find a .pdf file. Enjoy the reading! :-)