Tuesday, February 28, 2012

D.A.R.E


J-man graduated from D.A.R.E.: Drug Abuse Resistance Education today!  He was a cutie in his white DARE t-shirt singing with his classmates. I personally think that 4th grade is a little young for children to learn about drugs and alcohol, but from the 4 essays that were read and the questions being asked, kids are exposed to much more than I was at the age of 9 or 10.  I never went through a DARE program, but I can remember my friends in other schools talking about it and I really think it was around the 6th grade...middle school age. 

We gave our parental consent because the local school district provides DARE to all 4th graders and we believe that DARE can be extremely beneficial to students.  This could potentially be the only time that J-man would be exposed to the DARE program in a school setting, so we took advantage of it. 

The police officers that taught the program were great!  I met them today and could not have hoped for a sweeter, funnier, yet stern group of men.  They were perfect for 4th graders with their balance of humor and seriousness.  The students seemed to really enjoy them and were hands down the most well behaved that I have ever seen them...and I've been to a lot of presentations this year.   The students' behavior alone speaks volumes about the D.A.R.E. instructors. 


I am very proud of J-man!  He is doing great in school and great at home!  We are spending a lot of time together baking, crafting, throwing the baseball, watching movies and hanging out.  I love him to pieces!!

What are your thoughts on the DARE program and children learning about drugs and alcohol in the 4th grade?

Much love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bella Baby!

"Bella Baby" is the nickname my parents' dog has earned from me.  Every time is see her, she gets sweeter and sweeter.  Every dog has a personality.  Bella's is twofold.  She is energetic with a bit of childish craziness and absolutely loving and sweet.  One minute she is bounding through the creek or sneaking up on ducks and scaring them to flight.  The next second she is nudging your hand or bringing you a shoe for some ear scratches. 

Without further ado, here is a slide show of Bella Baby...









You're in love, aren't you? 

Much love.

Lenten Promise

Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season.  If you are not familiar with Lent, it lasts 40 days and 40 nights, ending on Easter morning with the resurrection of Jesus. Just as Jesus spent 40 days and nights praying in the dessert, many Christians will be reflecting on their lives and changing something.  Many give something up, while others add to their life.

This Lenten season, I will be doing two things.  First, I will be giving up sweets because a) I love them and they will be challenging to fore go, b) I don't need to indulge in chocolate daily. Second, I will be reading part of the bible and praying at least a decade of the rosary per day for a special intention.  I pray every evening, but I don't always pray with a purpose.  I am hoping that reading the bible will guide me in my actions and help me think and see life through clearer eyes. 

This Lenten season could not have come at a better time for me.  Reflection, clarity and a new outlook on life is something I need desperately. 

What are you doing this Lenten season? 

Much love.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mama's Mac N' Cheese


Ingredients
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/2-1 tsp. Dry Mustard
1/4 tsp. Pepper
2 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
1 block Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (white)
1 box Penne Pasta

Directions
Cook pasta.
Simultaneously and in a separate pan, melt butter in frying pan, stir in flour, salt, dry mustard, and pepper until smooth. 
Remove from heat.
Gradually stir in evaporated milk until smooth.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened (approx. 10 minutes)
Remove from heat.
Stir in grated Cheddar cheese.
Place drained pasta into a 9x13 buttered casserole dish
Pour Cheese mixture over and stir well.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. 

As a child, this was my favorite dish!  Every single birthday, I requested homemade Mac N' Cheese with homemade apple sauce!  Little J-man requested this dish and absolutely loved it!  If you have any questions about it, please don't hesitate to ask!  It's yummy and kid approved! 

I saw these cuties on my walk today!  Spring is a'comin!

Much love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dance update


Ahh!  My new dance shoes!  They aren't official dance shoes, but they are pretty close to ballroom regulation style shoes and I love them!  I will never wear them outside; they are only for dance floors! 

**They were originally $60 and this thrifty lady got them for $20!  Whoop!  It was actually extremely coincidence that they were on sale, but I am still very happy about the price.**

 Tonight wasn't a super smooth night of learning for Ryan and I, but it was still fun and successful!  We were introduced to the hustle for the first time...well, the first time for Ryan.  I have been dancing the hustle for about 10 years now, so it was a snap for me.  You'd think that since I knew what I was doing, it would be easier to learn as a couple.  WRONG.  By me knowing what I was doing and Ryan not knowing, it only caused frustration.  We both had the basic steps and turns, but there was one intricate move that we just were not getting.  

So far, we have learned the Rumba, Foxtrot, Waltz, West Coast Swing, Salsa, Cha Cha, and the Hustle.  Ryan loves the West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Rumba, and Salsa, while I love the Rumba, Foxtrot and Hustle!  I enjoy the West Coast because Ryan enjoys it so much as well!  As a matter of fact, we are going to a west coast dance club this weekend at the oceanfront that I am beyond stoked about!  It will be our first time dancing outside of the studio!!  I'll be sure to update you all on how we do! 

I hope you all had an extra sweet Valentine's Day!  Ryan surprised me with these beauties!  I absolutely love tulips!  They aren't traditional and have an elegance to them...in my mind.


Much love.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Quotes that Ingite a Spark Within...

This is more of a personal expression of my thoughts through quotes.  Some of them you may know, while others may be new.  Regardless, I believe all these quotes say a little or a lot about the woman I am and constantly strive to be.

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson, Thank you for writing.  Your words are powerful and much appreciated! 

"When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test."
~ Unknown

That one is similar to footprints, which I also love dearly, but has been speaking to me lately because I feel tested and need a gentle reminder that God is still with me and I will be fine regardless of the outcome.

"Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together."
~Elizabeth Taylor

Boy Oh Boy, do I need to take Liz Taylor's advice.  Watch out ladies, I'm bringing out the lipstick and standing tall!

"You can never be overdressed or over educated."
~Oscar Wilde

Two things I love...being one well dressed, educated lady! In all seriousness, being smart is super sexy and if you can look good with a book in your hand, then it's a double bam!!  Woop! (I make myself laugh...a lot.)

"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about CREATING yourself."
~Unknown

"Thanking God in your trials turns burdens into blessings."
~Paul Vangorder

I need to work on this one.  A few weeks ago I was gently reminded to thank the Lord for the hardships in my life because it is through overcoming them that changes are made, pure joy can be experienced and we grow and strengthen on a personal level. 

Finally, I will leave you with one more quote for today.  I am thinking this quote thing might become a little tradition of mine.  I am always jotting down quotes that speak to me in my journal, but never sharing them with others.  For some reason today, I was compelled.  

"To every man, there comes in his lifetime, that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, ...unique to him and fitted to his talents; What a tragedy if that moment should find him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour."
~ Sir Winston Churchill

Powerful.  This is one of those quotes I reread when I feel as if my life has been derailed. 

Do any quotes speak to you?!  If so, please share!  I'm always eager for inspiration and learning about my readers.

Much love.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nourish

Nourish youth and it will blossom.  This phrase, written in Gaelic, hung above the Honors Program Director's office during my undergraduate years at LaSalle.  It wasn't until graduation day, that I found out the translation and to this day, those words have inspired me to embrace life and continue to challenge myself.  Mr. Grady, the HP director, also happened to have a masters in economics...just like me!  While I am not in an official educator position, I am able to nourish a little youth on a daily basis.  I only hope that one day he understands why I challenge him...never give him the correct answer, but rather help him work through the problems, care about his handwriting and using proper grammar, give him responsibilities, make him write thank you notes... and the list goes on. 

So far, so good...our little man achieved honor roll for the 2nd quarter! 


Smiling isn't the cool thing to do in 4th grade...


Nourishing one's self is important as well.  I have been drinking tea, listening to some great tunes and sewing.  My mother taught me how to sew when I was younger and her mother taught her.  One day, I will teach my daughter.  I can only hope that she wants to learn.  Jared seems to enjoy sewing, but only for about 10 minutes...typical kiddo!

Since Valentine's Day is around the corner, a little decorating was in order.   

The moon is absolutely amazing!  Conversations revolving around whether the moon is waning and waxing are very common in our household.  Generally, I point the moon out and then Ryan asks Jared if the moon is waning or waxing, and then the debate about whether waxing means getting bigger or small prevails.  Waning mean getting smaller.  Waxing means getting larger.  This moon was absolutely amazing.  My photography skills on the other hand, are not so awesome. 


When I'm not admiring amazing moons, there is a good chance I am being creative in the kitchen!  This weekend Jared and I made Valentine's Day treats for his class!  Snap pretzels with a Hershey's kiss melted on top and then a peanut butter M&M pressed on top.  Yes, they are delicious!  All of Jared's little friends will be very happy to much on these babies!

Oh and I found the perfect Valentine's cards for a lego and Star Wars loving little boy! A Powerful Valentine You Are is my favorite card ever!  I think J-man should totally give that one to his crush even though there is a really good chance that she won't get it.


While fishnets aren't exactly nourishing, embracing a Parisian Dance party in full costume sets a good example for embracing experiences.  Go big or go home, baby!  I wasn't the only one in fishnets, but I was the only one with a line up the back!  Virginia Beach doesn't offer many opportunities to get dressed up, so I went all out for this event! 


Feeling sexy is nourishing too!
Much love.

This Northerner is HAPPY!!

It SNOWED!!!  Big, huge, puffy, amazing flakes were falling from the sky with grace and spunk!  The calm and warmth that comes with snow never ceases to amaze me.  Hannah, our awesome New England neighbor and friend, came out and joined J-man and I in a snowball fight!  We were the only ones outside.  Obviously we are the only cool peeps on the street. 
Thank heavens Santa knew what he was doing this Christmas and got Jared a killer winter coat, snowpants, gloves, boots and a hat!  Man, that dude is wicked smart!
**patting myself on the back**

It didn't know too much, but J-man sure made the best of it!  After beating Hannah and I with snowballs...yes, I got a few to the face thanks to that little boy... he threw snowballs at bottles from the recycling and then made this creative snowman!
Sweet, eh?!?!
He's a proud papa with frozen hands!  Luckily, hot cocoa and whip cream just happened to be on hand!  I love being prepared and making memories without even trying! 

Tonight was fun!

Much love.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thank you for your application...

"...But we have decided to consider other candidates for the ."

"Although we were impressed with your skills and experience, we regret to inform you that the hiring manager decided to pursue other applicants."

"At this time, we have decided to move forward with other candidates."

"There wasn't a match between your interest and qualifications and the needs of our the position."

These are the types of emails I have been receiving lately.  They definitely take a toll on one's ego and image of self-worth. There is little joy in hours of searching for the best available jobs, taking upwards of 2 hours to complete an application, and then within 24 hours receiving an email heartbreakingly politely informing you that you in fact did not get the job.  As you can imagine, it's challenging to stay positive.  On the bright side, I have learned a great deal of compassion for those who are searching for employment. 

Much love.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Tinkerer"

Noun. One who continues to move; unable to stay still; always on the move in mind, body, and soul; Me.

**That is my definition.  The true definition goes a little something like this: "1. an unskilled person who tries to fix or mend; 2. a person who enjoys fixing and experimenting with machines and their parts"

Personally, I don't think I fit that definition in the unskilled sense, but I do thoroughly enjoy fixing, mending, crafting and experimenting with things.

As some of you may have noticed, I changed the name of my blog...for the third and what I honestly believe to be the final time.  Tinkerer is a word that my mother uses to describe my father and I; it's a word I connect with.  I've been searching for a blog title that was original, had personal meaning, and wasn't cliche.  I think I found it! 

As for my latest tinkering, I have turned this hideous table that I found on the side of the road into a little rustic beauty.  I have yet to adorn it with anything, but when I do, I will be sure to update you all with a photo. 

The table had been rained on, so the stain was cracked.  I sanded it a bit, but not too much because I wanted to retain texture when I painted it. 


I used an entire can of spray paint.  My father would be disappointed.  White was my color of choice because we have a very neutral and slightly dark living room due to the light fixtures being tinted (I strongly advise against tinted light fixtures if you like bright rooms like myself), the brick fireplace and the positioning of the trees blocking the sunlight.  I will do anything to add some brightness to this rental home. 


Here is a close-up of the top which I really like!  Texture, Baby, Texture! 


What do you think?  Your style?

Baby Basket Donation
My best friend is running a silent auction for the school she works for the West Philadelphia Catholic school and I have offered to donate a basket full of handmade baby/toddler girl items!  So far I plan on having headbands, bows, burp cloths, smock dresses, and possibly leg warmers and a blanket.  Since I don't have any little ones of my own, I was hoping some of you would have some great suggestions for additions to my basket.  I plan on making everything unless others want to make and donate to the basket.  If you do, let me know! 

Beach Photos
I am still working on my photography and editing skills. Here are some beach photos from my recent strolls that I have been taking! Let me know what you think.





Happy Superbowl Weekend!  I hope your team wins!  In typical girl fashion, I'll be watching for the commercials and halftime show because my team isn't in it!  Eh, if it's a good game, I'll watch it...I guess.  Keep an eye out for some great recipes that I plan on trying this weekend!  

Much love.
 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bruschetta Chicken Dinner


Tonight I decided to try a lovely dish I saw on either Pinterest or Instagram (follow me @xsarexbearx).  I breaded chicken and once the chicken reach the proper temp, I added mozzarella cheese and bruschetta, and cooked it 5-7 minutes more.  To add some color and because you need a green vegetable at dinner, I made a quick lettuce and red onion salad.  I added a few strawberries for decoration and what's an Italian dinner without some garlic bread?!  It was wonderful! 

Here is the Chicken Bruschetta recipe:

Prep: 10 min. Bake: 30 min.Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients
•1 egg with a dash of water beaten
•6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (as needed)
•1 tablespoon butter, melted
•3 medium or 2 large tomatoes diced
•3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
•4 garlic cloves, minced
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon pepper
•1/2 cup mozzerella cheese

Directions

•Place bread crumbs and eggs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in egg, then in bread crumbs; place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Combine the cheese and butter; sprinkle over chicken.

•Loosely cover baking dish with foil. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 170°.

•Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, to taste). Sprinkle/place cheese on chicken, then spoon the bruschetta mixture over the chicken. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until tomato mixture is heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

Enjoy!
Much love.

Starting Fresh

Hey Blogger Friends!

I've been in major funktown lately and I need to reboot and get on track.  Between adjusting to not being in graduate school (which is wonderful for some, but horrible for this lover of academia), hitting dead end after dead end on the job front, being especially moody and tense, and adjusting to other life changes, I have been quite tense and not so pleasant to be around. 

I have been reading a ton:
     The Art of Racing in the Rain
     The Hunger Games' Series
     The Accidental Bride
     Understanding Exposure
     FREE the Future of a Radical Price (Thanks MJ and Chris!  I am finally reading it and really enjoying it!)

I really want to read Into the Wild and The Outsiders' Series.  If you have any other suggestions please let me know!  I am in "reading" mode right now!  My goal to read more is a blazing success at the moment!  My goal to write more is going pretty well too!  I've been keeping a daily journal and writing at least a letter a week to friends and family. 

Working out in enjoyable ways by myself, with girl friends and with Ryan has been keeping me busy as well!  Walks are a daily occurrence and since it's been 60 degrees and sunny, they have been extra amazing! 

 

The beach has been visited quite a few times in the past week!  If you live less than 10 minutes from sand and water, you mine as well take full advantage of it...even in the winter months!
Yoga is always a great way to relax on a Saturday morning with the ladies!  And dancing on Wednesdays with my baby is so much fun!  We are really starting to get the hang of the Rumba, Waltz, West Coast Swing, and the Cha Cha the correct way.  My favorite dance is the Rumba, while Ryan really loves the West Coast Swing.  The lead and follow (LF for short) is the most challenging part for us as a couple because when a good song comes on, Ryan gets all into it and dances really well himself, but forgets to lead me, so I look like a lost puppy.  After this last class, leading and posture are our two biggest problem areas that we need to work on.  Looks like the living room will be our studio this weekend! 

Coffee dates are so much fun!  There is nothing like having a good company and stimulating conversation over a cup o' Joe on a random weekday!  They keep me going and make me feel as if I actually have something to do!  I miss a schedule and deadlines.  I know, I am crazy.  It's just how I work.  Give me a deadline and I get *bleep* done!

Tuesday nights are Trivia Nights in my world!  All the girls and sometimes the guys get together at the local Public House and play trivia!  We are pretty darn good and generally place 2nd or 3rd!  As a nice little treat, I always get myself a cider and a glass of water!  While Crispin isn't my favorite, it is quite tasty even when it's warm.  I milk my drink throughout the evening! 


While I am reading, working out and meeting up with friends, I am still longing for a job or more so a purpose to my days.  If anyone knows of any work from home jobs or great volunteering opportunities, please let me know.  I want to be able to get Jared on the bus and off the bus, but I also want to have something to occupy my time during the day and make me feel useful.  I like to be busy and I am sooo NOT busy at the moment.  I mean, I have my days that I pile cleaning, applying to jobs, etc. into, but there is no consistency.  I know I should enjoy this time, but I am not a sit around and watch TV kind of girl.  I am a "tinkerer"!  Oh and for those of you who knew I had an interview...didn't get the job.  Yes, tears flowed. No, I don't want to talk about it.  Moving on. What's in the past is in the past and the future will hopefully be bright.  Heck, I'm going to make it bright.  The future IS bright!  (Just like these pansies!)

 
Suggestions on how to fill my days without spending money are encouraged!
 
Much love.