Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Look at this little cutie! I'm in love. She is such a sweet, good-natured baby.
Darby and I picked out some little footie pajamas for her. The next day, Em sent me a picture of Lily wearing them in the snow.
It was so fun to see all of the other girls, too. I was only able to stay for a little while, but I'm thankful for the time I had. After the shower, I met my friend Laura for a short chat. We've talked on the phone a lot since I've moved here, but we haven't seen each other at all. It was great to sit and talk face-to-face. I wish Darby and I could make it out to Abilene more often; it's not really on the way to anywhere, though.
When we got home, we got to unload this:
Yes, I am now the proud owner of a piano! My parents let me have theirs since neither of them plays. We almost gave up on bringing it back when we found out it would be over $400 to get a hitch installed and rent a trailer. However, our preacher generously offered to let us use his minivan to haul it. In spite of everyone's doubts, it fit easily in the minivan and wasn't too terrible to load or unload (not that I lifted a finger!). I can't get over how nice it was of our preacher and his wife to let us drive their van to Texas and back. Plus, he shoveled our driveway while we were gone and helped us unload the piano. We're so grateful! Now I just have to practice. I'm pretty rusty.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday morning, we headed for Dallas. That was an exciting trip to say the least. It had rained over 8 inches in the previous 24 hours, and we had to drive through incredibly high, rushing water on the Interstate. And just to show I'm not exaggerating, here's a few pictures of the access road and surrounding area, just before we got to the water covering the Interstate:
We enjoyed Christmas with my mom's side of the family. Ate way too much, played some crazy games of Catch Phrase and quoted The Office incessantly.
Hope you all had very merry Christmases!
Monday, December 21, 2009
On Saturday we went to the Indianapolis Art Museum (which was amazing and FREE!) and the zoo. They have a "Christmas at the Zoo" thing in December with all kinds of lights and music. There are a lot of indoor exhibits, so we still enjoyed ourselves despite the snow.
In the "Oceans" exhibit, they had a tank full of sharks you could pet. I was too scared (even though there were parents dangling their toddlers over the edge to touch the sharks), but Darby did it. Here he is in action. So brave! :)
Other than that, we just ate at a lot of good restaurants and relaxed. It was so nice to have a whole weekend to spend together since the past couple of months have been busy with schoolwork for Darby and holiday stuff for both of us.
Friday, December 18, 2009
- Admired the Christmas tree. Darby's really good about remembering to plug the lights in, so we look at it every morning and every night.
- Went to 3 Christmas parties—one for Darby's lab, one for our college group at church, and at our friends' house.
- Listened to Christmas music. Both Amazon and iTunes were offering free downloads of Christmas samplers, so I loaded up my iPod.
- Made Christmas treats—red velvet cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting, M&M popcorn, and toffee. Toffee is something my mom makes every year, but I've never made it on my own (without her supervision). My first batch was pretty good but not as good as mom's. I'm making several more batches for gifts next week, so hopefully I'll improve. When my siblings and I were little, we loved "helping" mom, by spreading the chocolate on top of the toffee because when we were done we got to lick the spoon. Licking the spoon is still quite fun as an adult. :)
- Went to a Christmas church program. One of Darby's co-workers was singing in a Christmas program at Twin Cities Bible Church. It was a beautiful program and I love singing Christmas carols. I really wish our church foucsed on Christmas more. It's always so neat when I visit other churches. It's very difficult to focus on the reason for the season when it's barely mentioned at church, the one place you would think you would focus on it.
And, of course, I'm so excited about all of our family Christmas celebrations coming up. It will be kind of a whirlwind trip, but I'm so happy we're able to go and spend time with so many people. We are missing Christmas with my dad's side of the family. :( But, I think 4 Christmases and a baby shower is pretty good for 6 days (including 30 hours of driving)!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I realized I never got around to posting more of my favorite ornaments. (And I'm sure you were all waiting on the edge of your seat.) Here they are:
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Apple cider—I cannot believe I spent the first 23 years of my life without this drink. It is amazing.
Babies—I love teaching Cradle Roll at church. It's so fun to see how much the babies change from the time they enter at 5 or 6 months to the time they leave at 2 years.
Young Marrieds—This group at our church meets once a month, and it's always a lot of fun.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Last night I made chicken chili for Darby and me. This has been a favorite of ours since I first made it two years ago. It is so easy. It takes a while because of the amount of time it simmers, but most of that time is hands-off. The recipe calls for shredded rotisserie chicken. I normally don't buy rotisserie chicken, but I think I might start doing it more often. Darby and I can get 3 meals plus leftovers and 3 cans of chicken broth from one $5 chicken. It's a pretty good deal. Now, roasting my own chicken would be even more economical, but I haven't gotten that brave yet. In case you're interested, below is the process I used to squeeze every last cent out of that chicken. That sounds weird.
For the first meal, eat whatever pieces of chicken you want plain. After eating, pick off all remaining meat and place in container. At this point, it can be frozen for 1–2 other meals (such as the chili below). We can get 2 casseroles from the leftover meat, if I keep a pretty low meat-to-other-ingredients ratio, which I usually do.
Place chicken carcass (along with skin and fatty pieces) in Crock-pot along with roughly chopped carrots, celery, and yellow onion, a few peeled garlic cloves, and spices such as bay leaves, sage, thyme, and peppercorns. Pour 1-1/2 to 2 qts. COLD water over ingredients. (For a small rotisserie chicken, I'd stick with 1-1/2 qts.) Cook on low at least 10 hours. Let cool slightly, then strain into large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator several hours; then, skim the fat off the top. Divide among 2–3 freezer bags, lay flat, and freeze. This should yield close to 6 cups broth, about 3-1/2 cans worth. It might not seem like a lot but considering you would just throw the chicken bones away anyway, it's not too bad. Plus, you can use the leafy parts of celery and the tops of carrots. Next time you're using those vegetables, toss the scraps in a freezer bag and save until you want to make broth. Not to mention, homemade broth is much healthier and far lower in sodium than canned, and you can bask in your self-sufficiency and resourcefulness for days. ;)
I let the broth cook while I was sleeping, and—although convenient—waking up to the smell of chicken broth is not that pleasant. Neither is straining the broth and discarding the carcass before breakfast. Just FYI :)
Now for the chili recipe. Hope you enjoy!
Smoky Chicken Chili
From Southern Living (I think?)
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (I'm sure you could substitute boiled shredded chicken, but it wouldn't have as much flavor.)
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2–3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans chili-style diced tomatoes
2 cans beans (black, navy, or both), drained and rinsed
12-oz. beer (Any kind. If you are opposed to buying beer, you could probably substitute chicken broth, but again, it wouldn't be as flavorful.)
1 pkg. McCormick white chicken chili seasoning mix
Saute the peppers, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat about 8 mins. Stir in tomatoes, beans, beer, chicken, and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve with shredded cheese.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
On Friday I went grocery shopping after work. We needed milk, but the price was higher than I normally pay, so I decided to wait and try a different store. When I checked out, I got one of those coupons that sometimes prints with your receipt. (I love those; they're always such a surprise.) It was for a free gallon of milk! I looked at it and my jaw literally dropped in disbelief and excitement. I am a huge dork.
I brought in our Christmas decorations from the garage this weekend because I wanted to see if I had any Christmas cards leftover from years past (I did---3 different kinds!). Darby and I are going to put up our decorations next weekend or early next week since he'll be off for Thanksgiving. I'm so excited!! I've bought several gifts already, so I feel ahead of the game. I'm also very excited because I know what Darby's getting me for Christmas (he told me): a massaging seat cover (one that has the little balls in it)! I've wanted one of those for a long time, but I teased Darby that the only reason he's getting it is so he doesn't have to give me backrubs anymore. He admitted that was partially true. :)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I had a frustrating experience with voicemail today at work. I was trying to call an organization to follow up on a request I sent to them for permission to reprint their standards in a textbook. I get very nervous when I make phone calls, so I always have a script carefully prepared. I was transferred to voicemail, so I began:
"Hi, this is Kayla Hewitt with ______ _______. I am calling to follow up on the status of a permission request I sent in September. It was for the ______ standards to be printed in a textbook, [title of textbook], by . . . "
The machine cut me off and asked if I wanted to add to my message or re-record. I opted to re-record, as I wasn't sure exactly where I had left off. I decided to abridge for my second attempt:
"Hi, this is Kayla Hewitt with ______ _______. I am calling to follow up on the status of a permission request I sent in September. My phone number is xxx-xx . . . "
The machine cut me off again! This time I opted to add on since it was looking like I'd never be able to record a full message.
"Hi. I got cut off. My phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx, and again my name is Kayla Hew. . ."
Cut off again! At this point I just gave up. I don't understand the point of voicemail if it's going to be that short. I understand that people don't want to listen to long messages, but wouldn't they like to know what you're calling about so they can gather the necessary information before calling you back? I sent an e-mail to the organization explaining what had happened (although the whole point of calling was because I hadn't received a response via e-mail). I felt like a huge idiot. It doesn't help that we have a community phone at work, so basically the whole office heard my 3 failed attempts.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
When the guy came to shut the cable off, he took the box, but he also had to go disconnect something from the pole. The pole is behind our fence and the fence is padlocked. Neither we nor the owners of the house have the key to the lock. (I'm not really sure how it got there, but we don't ever use that gate anyway.) The guy who had set up the cable climbed over the fence to get to the pole. Well, this guy didn't want to do that. He said he was going to put a work order in and that it would probably be a couple of weeks before it got done, but he would go ahead and mark us down as disconnected.
That was in August, and we still have cable! We can't access OnDemand or the special cable TV guide, but we still have all of the cable channels. It's been awesome, but I'm starting to feel kind of bad about it. I mean, I know it wasn't our fault, but I still think we probably ought to tell Comcast. I didn't even consider this before the Mad Men season ended on Sunday. No way was I giving up cable before then! :)
What do you think—to tell or not to tell? I'm pretty sure I know the answer; I just need a shove in the right direction.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
- I don't have to feel bad about being lazy after work. I mean, it's dark anyway. Might as well just go to bed.
- It is light when I get up in the morning.
That is all I could think of. This is very depressing.
On a happier subject, it is now the holiday season! I know this because Starbucks has their Christmas drinks available. Starbucks is my official calendar. And three weeks from today I will be in Texas enjoying the SUNLIGHT! (And family and friends, but seriously, the sun might be the most important thing to me right now; if it's rainy, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.)
Saturday, October 31, 2009
We had our Fall Festival at church last night and the college group room's theme was '60s and '70s. I didn't want to spend much money or time on our costumes, so I went to Wal-Mart hoping to find a couple of cheap tie-dyed shirts. Well, I found a lot of "60s-ish" girls' shirts, but I couldn't find anything for Darby. So I just got him an Afro wig. :) You can't see it in the picture, but it had a purple pick in it.
I didn't think the kids were really going to "get" our theme, but they seemed to enjoy it. We had a disco ball and were playing a '70s disco mix CD. Several of the kids started dancing. And one two-year-old wouldn't leave the room the whole night. She was mesmerized by the pattern the disco ball made on the walls. When her mom finally told her she had to leave, she said, "I'll be back. Don't stop the music." So cute!
Last year we had quite a few trick-or-treaters at our house, so I'm hoping we'll start seeing some in just a little bit. I love passing out candy!
Monday, October 26, 2009
- Take a cooking class.
- Bake one new recipe from each of my cookbooks.
- Learn two new songs on the piano.
- Decide once and for all if/when I'm going back to school and what I will study.
- Read 5 books that I've owned for at least a year.
- Find a local charity to get involved with.
- Take another workout class.
- Start at least two more herbs.
- Visit St. Louis.
- Devise and stick to a housekeeping schedule.
- Have 3 "dinner parties" (with party defined as at least two other people besides me and Darby).
- Go camping/hiking.
- Try 2 new restaurants.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
We were playing with her stuffed animals. She was pretending to be the baby ladybug (a boy, for some reason), and I was the mommy ladybug. Here's how the conversation went:
Baby: (crying softly) I don't want to grow up because I don't want to leave you, Mommy.
Mommy: I'll always love you, though, even if you don't live with me.
Baby: No you won't.
Mommy: Yes I will. I'll always be your mommy.
Baby: But it will be different. I'll have a wife, and that's like a different type of mommy.
I was trying so hard to stifle my laughter. What do you say to that? I just hope Darby considers me a wife wife, and not a mommy/wife. :)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- Small boxes of Total (2), Honey Nut Cheerios, Fiber One (2), All-Bran
- Fiber One granola bar
- All-Bran drink mix (like Crystal Light)
- Small bag of Bear Naked granola
- Bounce dryer bar (full-size! for writing a review on Viewpoints)
- Eos lip gloss (full-size)
- Ziploc quart-size baggie
- Several paper towels (the good, thick kind . . . not the generic stuff I'm used to)
- Tide total care detergent
- Tons of "feminine" products
- Dove, Aveeno, and Pantene Pro-V shampoos and conditioners
There have been others that I'm forgetting, I'm sure. Anyway, it's so fun to see what's in the mailbox each day! And, I think all total I've probably saved at least $15, which isn't too bad, considering all I do is fill out a little online form. Plus, many of the samples come with high-value coupons, so that's even more money saved.
I only sign up for samples of stuff I would actually buy or use. Otherwise, it can get a little crazy; there's so much free stuff out there. My friend Jenn e-mails a list of freebies every Friday, and I find lots of deals on Hey, It's Free, Money Saving Mom, and Deal Seeking Mom. One note of caution: If you do sign up for freebies, it'd probably be wise to set up a separate e-mail account just to put on online forms. I did not do that, and I've noticed a big increase in the amount of Spam I get. Luckily, I use Gmail, which has a good Spam filter, so it's not too much of an issue.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The most disturbing part of the book to me, though (as I am already familiar with the overt homophobia and sexism present in the Christian community) is the lack of academic rigor at Liberty. The author does point out that Liberty University is one of the most conservative Christian schools in the nation, which I appreciated. I don't want people to get the idea that all Christian schools are like that. Besides the fact that Liberty teaches some pretty indefensible "science" (namely, young-earth creationism), from what the author says, there is just a serious lack of critical thinking or questioning, skills that are central to a liberal arts education. For example, an examination in the course "History of Life," includes these true-or-false questions.
Evolution can be proven using the scientific method. (False)
Science is the only way to truly know truth about the world. (False)
Noah's Ark was large enough to carry various kinds of dinosaurs. (True)
Those are not true-or-false questions! The second one has some value (if it were worded better), but only as an essay question or discussion. I have no problem with matters of faith being taught at Christian universities . . . obviously, I took Bible classes at ACU. But matters of faith or speculation (such as the size of Noah's ark) cannot be presented as fact in an academic context. If someone wants to disagree, they have to be able to, as long as they can present a well-reasoned argument for their case. Only questions about the Bible that can be answered from the text itself should be posed as closed-ended test questions, in my opinion.
Anyway, when I wasn't busy being outraged, I really enjoyed the book. There are plenty of light-hearted moments, too. Like when the author doesn't know how he will be able to list the books of the New Testament in order for his test, and everyone is shocked he doesn't know "the song." It's fun to think about all the traditions that those of us who grew up in the church just take for granted.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Fast forward to last night, I was sitting on the couch looking at facebook. In the little section that tells which of your friends' birthdays are coming up, I see: John Pierce--Oct. 5. Then, it hit me. Em's birthday is March 5. Our freshman year of college, we had this little joke that everyone's birthday was either on the 5th or 20th because most of us were born on one of those days. So, somehow I got it in my head that Em's birthday was Oct. 5. I jumped up to call her, hoping she hadn't already gotten the card. Well, she had. She said, "I'm so glad you called. I wasn't sure what I should do. I thought, 'Should I call Kayla? Is she ok?'" We got a good laugh at it. I wish I had seen her expression when she opened that card. I told her not to expect anything in March. Only one card per year, even if it is 5 months early. :)
How early can Alzheimer's start?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
We've had our first fallish weather this week, and I'm loving it! I love wearing jackets and my cute socks. (I still only wear patterned socks unless I am working out; I don't think I'll ever outgrow them.) I love eating soup and drinking cider and hot chocolate. I love pumpkin pie, caramel apples, and candy corn. I love getting out my fall decorations and being surprised by things I had forgotten I had. I love not waking up hot in the morning. I love feeling warm and cozy in my hooded sweatshirt. I love that new episodes of my favorite tv shows are on. I love that Christmas feels so much closer but not so close that you start getting sad about it being over.
Growing up, summer was my favorite season, mainly because my birthday is in the summer. But over the past few years, fall has definitely taken its place. Especially now that I'm not in school, summer just doesn't hold the same appeal. So, I'm going to soak up my 8 or so weeks of fall loveliness before winter rears its ugly head.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Well, this little Illinois adventure has been great so far, but I think I'm through. I want to go "home." (Home being within driving distance of my parents' house and/or Abilene.) I actually surprised myself with how well I adjusted to living here, but lately it's been hard. Seeing everyone's updates on facebook about the ACU game makes me wish I was there, tailgating with the Westgate college group and wearing my purple and white. I wish I could see my sister's apartment in Dallas. I wish I could go back and visit the people I worked with at ACU and all of the people we knew from Westgate. I wish I could have seen my parents on my birthday (although I am happy I at least got to be with Darby's family that day.) And the hardest thing of all has been seeing pictures of my friend Em's new baby. I want to see her in person! I'm hoping to get to see her at Christmas, but I don't know if that's going to work out. Darby and I have so little time to see everyone we want to see.
Obviously, I am exaggerating a little. I do overall still really like it here, and I want Darby to finish his degree. And I guess I want to live with my husband. :) But it's hard sometimes. I just wish there was more time to spend with everyone at holidays. We have to cram so much in every time we go home. And it's too expensive to just fly home for a weekend here or there. Part of this rant is precipitated by the nearly $600 we are about to spend on plane tickets for Thanksgiving (that's to drive 3 hours to St. Louis and then fly to Dallas). To fly out of Champaign, Bloomington, or Peoria would be over $1,000. I'm ok with not having much time or not having much money, but not having either really stinks!
Sorry for the rant. I'm sure I'll feel better in a couple of days. And I am really happy that we're able to go home at all this Thanksgiving. Only 2 more months!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
When I listen to Fuel, I think of the time that Hannah and I had a huge fight because I wanted to listen to that CD every day on the way to and from school. Two guys from church who rode home from school with us were just sitting in the back seat with these stunned looks on their faces. I don't think they had ever seen the way sisters fight. Now, of course, Hannah and I just laugh about it.
Or there's "Whenever, Wherever" by Shakira, which Jessica included on a mix CD she made for our group of friends when we graduated from high school. Accompanying the CD was an explanation of why she chose each song. That particular one said something like, "Just like this song says, I know that 'whenever, wherever we're meant to be together.' " I think she was only joking a little bit. We really were that sappy. I still love those girls.
Alanis Morrissette's Jagged Little Pill was one of the first CDs I ever owned (after Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, of course). Still when I sing along to "You Oughta Know," I sing our altered church van line: "I hope you're thinking of me when you suck on a sucker." The original is not nearly so benign; use your imagination. (This is also a prime example I want to remember when I'm tempted to tell my kids they shouldn't be listening to certain music. I listened to tons of songs that might not have been completely age-appropriate, but I turned out fine. I say, pick your battles.)
Almost every song I have, I can think of some story that goes along with it, usually involving silliness or melodrama. That just doesn't happen with current songs. I don't go on 15-hour van rides with dozens of other teenagers where all we have to do is make up dumb words to songs. (We turned "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys into a love song about a chocolate chip cookie . . . I have no idea.) I don't dress up with my friends and make up a music video for "Lady Marmalade." (I was Lil' Kim, like you couldn't guess!)
So while I appreciate some new music, it just doesn't make me happy like older music does. And I'm not talking old, classic music. Most of the stuff I liked was pretty cheesy, and I was never picky about genre. So what? I'm proudly admitting that I sing along at the top of my lungs to Boyz II Men, Garth Brooks, Ace of Base, The Offspring, and Shania Twain, sometimes one right after another. They may not be "good," but they sure are fun.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I always . . .
- drink coffee in the morning.
- finish a book if I start it.
- take a nap on Sunday afternoon.
- check my e-mail at least twice a day.
- wait until Darby's with me to get gas, so he'll have to pump it :)
- eat chocolate chips straight from the bag, even when I'm not baking.
- wonder if I should go back to school.
- forget to bring my workout clothes to work and am secretly happy
- forget to eat a meal.
- stay up all night.
- drink diet soda.
- watch scary movies.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The Office Season 6 starts tomorrow night!! I am so excited. I can't wait to pick up where we left off with Jim and Pam's storyline. They are by far my favorite television couple ever. Darby and I are so close to getting Season 5 on DVD. It came out a couple of weeks ago, but we decided to wait until we each received one more $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks. That way, we won't have to pay for much of it out of pocket. It was a good decision, but it's so hard to wait! I'm sure once we get it, we will go through the whole season and all of the deleted scenes in a week or less. That's our style.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
On Saturday, we drove to Springfield to see some of the Abraham Lincoln sites. We went to Lincon's house, his law office, his tomb, and the Lincoln museum. All were very neat (except the law office, which was pretty much ruined by a hilariously clueless tour guide).
Of course, we enjoyed yummy food. We ate at Dos Reales and Za's, and I cooked grilled chicken skewers and chicken taquitos and made an ice cream pie (which involves layering bananas, hot fudge, and three types of ice cream in an Oreo crust; I used low-fat and fat-free ice cream, so it was healthy, right?)
The rest of the time was spent talking, playing games, and napping. I feel very blessed to have the parents I have. I miss them a lot, and I'm so glad they are willing to come up and visit regularly. Darby and I are counting down the days until we get to see both of our families at Thanksgiving!
Thursday, September 03, 2009
- My enjoyment of food is inversely proportional to the time I spend preparing it. I still love to cook, but things always taste better to me as leftovers. It's very strange . . .
- I wish I could go back in time and tell my teenager self not to worry so much. That in just a few short years I'll feel like high school was so long ago, that I won't remember the situations I found so embarrassing at the time. I think that's got to be one of the most challenging things about being a parent—knowing that your kid could be saved a lot of heartache if he/she would just realize that most of their day-to-day worries don't matter in the long run, but also knowing that there's no way you can convince them of that at the time. It also makes me think: When I'm 40, what will I wish I could have told myself now?
- I do not buy into the "Just do a little bit each day" theory of housework. I'd rather do nothing for two (okay, three) weeks, then spend several hours one night cleaning and lamenting how I always let things get so bad. That way, the majority of my days are spent having fun and only one day is completely miserable, rather than all the days just being so-so.
- I have been very amused by this hoopla surrounding the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia. (He wrote a thesis for Regent University 20 years ago that, among other things, lists feminism as one of the greatest enemies of the American family.) I could go on and on about frustrating it is to try to convince people that Christians aren't completely out of touch in light of comments like these, but that's a topic for another blog post (one I am too afraid to write lest I provoke controversy; I have become tamer in my old age). However, the thing that amused me is that a commentator on NPR seized on the candidate's belief in "covenant marriage." She asked her guest (a Richmond, VA, reporter), "What does that mean?" He said, "It is 'I really do' marriage. It's where a couple agrees beforehand to take extraordinary measures to avoid divorce if their marriage hits rocky shoals." Both the commentator and the reporter seemed incredulous at this notion. I don't know if they thought covenant marriage was some kind of cult or what. It sounds like just "marriage" to me. Out of all the things that were supposedly written in that thesis, it is sad to me that a belief in marriage for life was singled out as especially weird.
Next week, I should have a more interesting update. My mom and dad are coming into town for the weekend. Yippee!
Friday, August 28, 2009
- Dunk-a-roos. Little graham cracker sticks with a tub of chocolate frosting to dip them in. What's not to like?
- Goldfish. A girl at work brought Goldfish for lunch the other day, and it just took me back. Goldfish = childhood.
- Chewy Chips Ahoy. Mmmm. The softest packaged cookies ever. If you heat them in the microwave a few seconds they're even better.
- Juice boxes. Why, oh why, did I have to grow up and find out that most fruit juices are pure sugar and actually not very good for you?
- Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies. These were actually more of a high-school obsession, but I'm counting them because I still often packed a lunch in high school. They are more like fudge than a brownie. And at Christmas time, they come in the shape of Christmas trees.
- Lunchables. All of them. These are vile, but the worst offenders are the pizza ones. Sickeningly sweet sauce and rubbery cheese product shreds on top of a communion wafer? No thanks. Also, they are a huge waste of money. You could buy a box of Ritz crackers, a package of cold cuts, and a package of sliced cheese and make about 10 Lunchables for under $10. Not to mention, it would taste about a thousand times better. But as a kid I loved these! Lunchables has some kind of amazing marketing strategy. I don't think Mom let me have these all the time (smart woman), but I do remember being so happy when I got them.
- Handi-Snacks Cheese and Crackers. These are similar in theory to Dunk-a-Roos, but much grosser. Remember the cardboard breadsticks that you dip in the alarmingly yellow "cheese" spread? Just thinking about that taste makes me gag.
What about you? What were your favorite childhood foods?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
- Watching Mad Men—A girl at work loaned me Seasons 1 & 2. It's great! Kind of depressing (just because the characters' lives are so meaningless), but very well done. It's like a less embarrassing Desperate Housewives. Darby and I went through both seasons in about 2 weeks. Do you think we need a life?
- Playing Dr. Mario—For a wedding gift, Darby gave me Dr. Mario for Nintendo because he knew how much I loved it. When we got the Wii, though, we got rid of our Nintendo. We've thought about buying the game for the Wii, but just kept putting it off. The other night I said something about wanting to play, and Darby went and downloaded it right then! It was only $10; I don't know why we waited so long. Part of the reason I love the game so much is that I (almost) always beat Darby. I don't know how! It doesn't seem like a game I'd be good at.
- Reading Twilight—Meh. I don't see what all the fuss is about. I can excuse the fact that it's not well-written (hello, Baby-Sitters Club?). But, what I can't excuse is the fact that the plot is completely unbelievable, and the characters are totally unrelatable. The first 2/3 of the book is simply Bella pining away after Edward, even though he is rude to her and tells her to stay away from him for her own good. (Her excuse for not staying away: "He's so dreamy.") Bella is one of the lamest heroines I've ever seen; she is helpless, whiny, and has no self-preservation instinct. There are so many other YA books that are better written and have a better message. Ok. Rant over. I just don't understand how this book got so popular.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
One result of the weekend (besides the 5 lbs. I gained from eating 1/4 of a cheesecake in three days) is that I was convinced to join this Twitter thing. I've always maintained that I don't "get" Twitter. What do you write? Why do I care where my friends are every second of the day? But, then I found out that Brittany, Kalyn, and Erin all "tweet," and that I was missing out on a lot. Turns out I do care where my friends are every second of the day. :) If this blog isn't enough for you, now you can follow me on Twitter. My tweets are "protected," so you will have to sign up for an account and ask to follow me (kjahewitt) in order to see them. It will be all Kayla, all the time. Woo-hoo!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
This squash casserole is definitely the way to eat squash. It's based on King Ranch Chicken casserole. I omitted the cilantro and used fewer tortilla chips than called for, and it still tasted great.
And these blueberry crumb bars are so delicious and come together so easily. The taste reminds me of the blueberry coffee cake at Starbucks. I love that stuff!
So enjoy and be proud of yourself for getting one step closer to your recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. :)
Monday, August 10, 2009
- Go on a picnic. Well, we haven't done this, but we did have a cookout where we ate outside, and we went to the church picnic, so I'm going to call this one accomplished.
- Play badminton. We've done this a few times, but usually it's too windy (or I'm too lazy). This might be a fail.
- Finish my wedding scrapbook. Ummm...I've gotten a little closer. I'm not giving up yet. I still have a few weeks left. My friend Megan came over on Saturday, so we could scrapbook together. I made cards that night because most of my wedding scrapbook stuff required the printer, and it wasn't in the same room. We had so much fun! I think we're going to make it a monthly tradition, so I should get a lot more scrapbooking/cardmaking accomplished.
- Make homemade ice cream. I have made three batches of homemade ice cream, all pretty successful. My favorite was chocolate chip cookie dough. Yum, yum! And eating the leftover cookie dough afterwards wasn't too bad, either.
- Take a trip with Darby to either Nashville or St. Louis. We went to Nashville with our friends Dylan and Andrea. Darby and I both agreed that it was the highlight of our summer. We're going to try to take a trip together annually.
Friday, August 07, 2009
The Comcast man came on Monday and took them away unceremoniously. I waved goodbye as he loaded that beautiful box and the remote with a million buttons in his van and drove away. Farewell Bravo, TLC, HGTV, ExerciseTV, Style, and Food Network. I hardly knew ye.
*Obviously, I'm being a little over-dramatic. I'm actually fairly excited about going back to a cable-less life. When we don't have cable, I hardly miss it, but when we do, I just can't stop watching. It will be good for me to get back to my other hobbies, like reading and scrapbooking. And we do still have basic cable, which includes TBS, so I can still get my Friends, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond fixes. I mean, a girl can't read all the time. :)
Friday, July 31, 2009
- Our house. We really lucked out getting this house. We were searching for one- or two-bedroom apartments, and this just fell into our laps. I still sometimes look around and think, "I can't believe we live here." I think having a real house helped a lot in making this city feel like home.
- Our church. We would not have survived without Philo Road. Those first few weeks when we didn't know anyone within 400 miles, Darby and I would get so excited about going to church so that we could see people. Everyone made us feel so welcome, and within a few weeks, we felt like we had some close friends.
- Spring and Autumn. I had never experienced these seasons before this year. They are wonderful, and I think they might make up for the winter. We'll see if I'm still saying that in January.
- The scenery. There are so many parks here, and they are all landscaped beautifully. Everything stays green and beautiful, and there are so many trees. If we end up moving back to Abilene after this (not Plan A), it will be very difficult to adjust to the ugliness.
- Meijer. I love this grocery store. Their prices are cheaper than Wal-Mart (because they have better sales), and they have a much better atmosphere. A new Meijer went up by our house a couple of months after we moved here, and I am so thankful for it!
- Student discounts at movies. Abilene did not have any, which was crazy! Of course, only Darby gets the discount. (Usually. I don't lie about being a student, but if they just assume I am, I don't argue.) But I am in the "Frequent Moviegoer Club," which means that after a movie has been out for a couple of weeks I can see it for cheaper than student price.
- Custard Cup. I've written about my love of this place before. Seriously, Best. Ice cream. Ever.
- The restaurants. Champaign/Urbana has so many great, locally-owned restaurants. Darby and I don't get to visit as many as we'd like to, but it's nice to have so many options for birthdays and other special occasions.
- The location. It's perfectly positioned about halfway between St. Louis and Chicago, and only an hour and a half from Indianapolis. So far, we've only taken advantage of the proximity to Chicago, but I know we'll visit the other cities soon.
- Sidewalks. The city is much more pedestrian/cyclist friendly than Texas. It's nice to be able to take walks in our neighborhood without being in the middle of the street.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I went with two friends to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night. It was good, but I was disappointed because they cut some of my favorite parts of the book and made the ending much less dramatic. I know they can't possibly include everything in a 2 1/2 hour movie, but I just feel sorry for the people who only see the movie instead of reading the book. They don't know what they're missing!
There are two movies coming out in August that I'm dying to see (which is really strange, because usually I don't get too excited about movies). The first is Julie and Julia. I've read both My Life in France and Julie and Julia, and of course the movie combines three of my favorite things: cooking, books, and blogging! (Although, having read Julie and Julia, I think casting Amy Adams as Julia was a terrible choice. I love Amy Adams, but she's going to have to really tone down her adorable perkiness to pull off this part.)
I am also so excited about The Time Traveler's Wife. I seriously get chills and choke up every time I see the preview. That is one of my favorite books ever. A movie has been in the works for several years, and originally there was a rumor that Brad Pitt would play the male lead, Henry. I'm so glad they chose Eric Bana instead. Henry is a librarian in the book. Brad Pitt as a librarian? I don't think so.
By the way, what do you think of my new blog look? Before now, I didn't know how to get a cute-looking header without paying someone to design it. But, thanks to "Sneaky Momma Blog Design," I learned how to create one using Scrapblog, which is a free electronic scrapbooking site. (As a side note, no offense to anyone, but after I have kids, if I ever refer to myself in the third person as "Momma," unless I am speaking directly to my children, please slap me.)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I love cooking for people and having people over, but here's my problem: I don't really enjoy myself when I'm the host. I feel like I'm running around constantly trying to make sure there's enough food; that silverware is out; that cups are filled with ice, etc. I'm not sure why I seem to have so much trouble with this. I am a fairly organized person, and I always try to get as much done ahead of time as possible. I also try to know my limits and not take on more than I can handle. (For example, I made homemade ice cream for last night, but I did not do any sides; people just brought chips.) But somehow I always end up feeling more than a little harried. And I don't get to sit down and really enjoy being with my guests.
Part of the problem might be the size of my kitchen. There's just not enough counter space to keep everything I need out, so I have to tell people where stuff is. Also, my personality is not what one would call "laid-back" in any situation.
But, I want to be that person who makes entertaining seem effortless. I've been to people's houses where it's like that. Are they just putting on a good act? Or do they really not get stressed out?
I'm hoping that with more practice, I'll get better at striking a balance between making sure everyone is taken care of and actually relaxing and having fun as well. If you are a good host, give me some tips. If you get stressed out like me, let me know, so I don't feel so bad. :)
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Darby and I have now watched all 10 seasons of Friends and the first four seasons of the Office. What show should we watch now?
Can anyone figure out a way to mail Blue Bell ice cream from Texas to Illinois? I miss it.
They now make Cherry Dr. Pepper. Woo-hoo! I'm not sure I like it as much as Cherry Coke, but the jury's still out.
And, finally, Darby's mom spotted my dream car while they were traveling through Illinois. (It's even an Escape, like mine!) Check it out:
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Rob, Darby, Matthew (Amy's husband), Matt (my brother), James
Me, Hannah, Amy, Faith
Thursday, July 09, 2009
I have never ridden a paddleboat before, and I've always wanted to. Darby and I were going to rent one at a park in Toronto on our honeymoon, but we got there too late. It's been a longstanding joke between us since then that our honeymoon was ruined because I didn't get to ride a paddleboat.
Well, my dream finally came true. It was a lot of fun, but I have to admit I liked canoeing better.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Today, I love Darby more than I did that day. Today, we are more of a team than we were then; we understand each other better than we did then; we are better friends than we were then; we love each other more selflessly than we did then.
I have even more excitement about our future than I did that day. Because now I know how much a marriage can deepen in just a couple of years. And we have (God willing) dozens of years ahead of us! I cannot wait to see what those years bring.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
We had SO MUCH FUN! On Friday, we met at our hotel (the Millenium Maxwell House), ate great Mexican food, and walked around downtown for a while. Friday night, we ate at a Mafia-themed Italian restaurant. Then, we went on a "ghost tour." A guide dressed in 19th-century clothes led us to different spots in Nashville and told us stories about the ghosts associated with those places. It was pretty cheesy, but interesting. Afterwards, we were going to go to a blues club, but we looked in and it looked a little shady. So we got ice cream, and went back to the hotel to play Rummikub. Pretty crazy, huh?
Saturday, we went out to Cheekwood, which is a restored mansion and botanical gardens. It was beautiful.
Then, we went to Opryland. We ate lunch at the Gaylord Opry, peeked in on an Irish-dancing competition (long story), went to the Opry museum, and shopped a little bit at Opry Mills mall. They had an Ann Taylor factory store, so I was in heaven. :)
We thought the fireworks were going to start at 9:30 or 10 (like in Texas). So, we went to dinner around 7 and were planning on driving downtown afterwards. It had been raining off and on, so we weren't even sure the fireworks were going to happen. We left the restaurant around 8:30 (after having the most amazing dessert--cookie dough eggrolls, oh yes!) As we were driving toward downtown, we saw the fireworks start. I'm not sure if they were supposed to start that early or if they were trying to avoid the rain. Traffic was almost at a standstill, so we had a perfect view from our car. It started pouring, but they were still shooting off the fireworks. I felt sorry for everyone standing outside getting soaked. I can't believe how well it worked out for us. We were nice and dry in the car, and we had a fantastic view. The fireworks were incredible! The finale was insane. I'm so glad they weren't canceled.
This morning we woke up, ate breakfast at Panera, went swimming, and checked out. It was a perfect weekend. I have always loved the 4th of July, and this was definitely one of my favorites. We all agreed that we will have to make an annual tradition of taking a trip together.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
I made him a key lime pie on Monday. (We're going out of town this weekend, so I wanted him to have time to eat all of it.) I think he chose key lime pie because it's one of the few desserts I don't like. He wanted it all to himself! Tonight, we're going out to eat at a burger place that's supposed to be really good.
I love you, Darby! I feel so blessed to be with you on your birthday and every day. You are definitely worth celebrating!
Monday, June 29, 2009
- Thank goodness I'm not supposed to be my happiest and most confident yet. I mean, I do feel pretty happy, but I think I have a long way to go in the confidence area.
- 28? Really? That still seems so young. Is it all downhill from there? I think that there will hopefully be a lot more reasons to be happy and confident when I'm 50 or 60 than at age 28—children, grandchildren, a decades-long marriage, more career experience, a closer relationship with God.
If anyone's reading this who's over 28, what do you think? Were you most happy and confident in your 20s or later in life?
Friday, June 26, 2009
I think there should be a kitchen fail blog. (Maybe there is one that I don't know about.) Until I find one, I'll just post my own story here. My mom once told me that she enjoys hearing about my kitchen mess-ups, since, according to her, I don't mess up enough (with my cooking...she didn't specify other areas). This one is not as bad as my sausage-ball incident, but it probably is the most number of mistakes I've ever made in one recipe. Feel free to add any of your own kitchen mishaps in the comments; it'll make me feel better.
In preparing for Darby's parents to come, I decided I should probably offer them something for breakfast besides dry cereal. I've been wanting to make this coffee cake from Smitten Kitchen for quite some time. It seemed simple enough, and I was super excited to use my new kitchen scale to precisely measure the flour.
I had already decided to substitute blueberries for rhubarb, and light brown sugar for dark brown sugar. Little did I know that those changes were just the tip of the iceberg.
I dole out 1 3/4 cup flour, mix the dry ingredients together, and get ready to mix the wet ingredients. Uh-oh. The recipe calls for one egg and one egg yolk. I only have one egg. After some Googling, I decide that I can substitute 1/4 c. applesauce for the egg yolk.
I mix the wet and dry ingredients together and notice that the mixture seems a little dry. So, I go back and re-read the direction. Uh-oh again. The 1 3/4 c. flour was for the crumb topping. The cake was only supposed to have 1 c. flour. So I add a little milk.
As I'm making the crumb topping, I realize that I put an extra 2 tbsp. of butter in the cake batter, which is why it only seemed a little dry, not super dry, I guess. Hmmm...now I have no idea how my ratio of wet/dry ingredients compares to the actual recipe. Uh-0h #3. I decide to just go with it.
I stir together the flour, sugar, and spices for the crumb topping. I'm about to pour in the melted butter, when I read that I was supposed to mix the sugar and butter together, then stir in the flour. Uh-oh #4. I go ahead and pour the butter in. The topping is supposed to come together like a solid dough, which you then break apart. It doesn't. At this point, I'm afraid to add more butter. Also, I'm lazy and just want to be done. So I just sprinkle the topping over the cake and put it in the oven.
Amazingly, after all of that, the cake was still edible, although a little dry. I feel like I have to make the cake again, though, since I pretty much have no idea what the actual recipe would taste like. I also feel like I should perhaps learn how to read recipes. :)