Thursday, June 14, 2012

Today

Outside my window birds are singing and I'm up early (well for the summer anyway).

I'm listening to the bathroom fan trying to help keep my sweet little H asleep for. a. little. longer. Also, my son is WIDE awake and doing a puzzle. I'm right here on the couch sipping coffee.

I'm so grateful for family and the ability to feel connected to those that aren't physically close through the use of technology. 

I am reading The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, all 1200+ pages of it. It was translated directly from the original French to modern English in 1996 and I'm really grateful because it's excellent! The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. Hopefully Mountain Man and I will read this pseudo together with me reading sections aloud. I just read the introduction last night and I'm excited to read more.

In the garden we are maintaining and managing what we have. It keeps me pretty busy as I break the yard into sections to either weed or prune each week. 

What we are learning:
R: It's the summer so I am content letting him review his math and continue reading. We have daily (well almost) time to work. I've been pretty relaxed with this and am really wanting him to take a break this summer and just be a kid. Yesterday afternoon he did puzzles, drew, and read books until dinner so I was pretty happy. So far this summer he's read some Magic Tree House and we work together through the Berenstain Bears, both the kids LOVE this series.
H: With this little missy entering Kindergarten in the fall we are casually reviewing concepts too. We are working on letters, uppercase and lower, as well as basic math sentences. She is also figuring out that rolling her eyes, sighing and being sassy do not fly with her mom and dad. 
MM: Patience. He tore or partially tore his hamstring about a month ago and is now receiving physical therapy. He's having to take it easy athletically which is hard during the summer. 
Me: Consistency. I have a habit of making short term changes that are really wonderful and healthy but turning them in to long term habits is and has always been a struggle for me.  Lately I've found myself desiring refinement in several areas and have made changes. Now I'm working to put them into practice for the longterm and see the fruit of my efforts.

One of my favorite things is family game night. I love when we all sit together and play a game or do a puzzle. It's such a blessing to feel the joy of the kids beaming at Mountain Man and I as they are enjoying the simple pleasure of family. 

From the Kitchen:
We are eating salads often these days. Usually in the summer we amp up our fresh/raw food in take, with smoothies, salads, roasted veggies... Fresh fruits and veggies are a bit pricier in the mountains as opposed to say the mid-west (where we are both from) so when things are in season we enjoy the bounty.


Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!
~me

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Favorite apps

I have had a smart phone for about three years. This past fall I was able to get an Iphone 4S and since then I can't tell you how much I use my phone for what seems like almost everything.
There are a few applications in particular that I really really like. I love getting direct recommendations for apps so here are my favorites in no particular order:


Shopping Lists- This app is great because I can put all my grocery and shopping lists into the app. While I'm shopping I can check them off and also input the price. As you can see it also catagorizes the items by section or type. It totals the price for me and even calculates tax. It's more than a fancy calculator because it has a built in memory so the next time I go to input groceries it'll remember the specifics I entered before. I think the app was around $2.00. It's been a lifesaver for sticking to our grocery budget and even saving a little money. Plus, it eliminates the paper list. The only downside is it takes a little time to use and I need to be relatively un-distracted at the store to use it properly. I have shopped with the kids in tow now, because I'm used to using the app, but the first few times I used Shopping Lists I had to go out solo in order to make sure I was using everything correctly.

 

Balance- This application is basically an electronic check register. You can input transactions as they happen and it will give you a running balance. I will actually use it similarly to my budget spreadsheet on my home computer. I will input every transaction/bill that I know we will have over a specified amount of time and then while I'm out if I need to reference anything (read want to spend extra $) I have it ready. It's password protected too which I like. Additionally, the basic app is free but you can upgrade to Balance pro for a fee. A downside is that the basic version is as the name implies, basic, it meets my needs but if you want something more like an actual spreadsheet then you should hunt around more.


 


Collage- This is a really fun photography app. My sister has something very similar and I got the idea from her. If you scroll down to my previous two posts you will see that I uploaded photos to the app and made a collage. My phone, with its 8mp camera, has literally replaced any point and shoot that I would ever carry. I like that you can combine themed pictures into one quickly and easily. You can add up to 4 pictures to a collage. I literally just uploaded the app a month ago so I am still learning all it can do. It's really fun to use in conjunction with pinterest! Because you can pin photos that have visual step-by-step directions in a collage and it helps the viewer understand your idea more thoroughly at first glance. It was free too so if you are wanting a fun way to combine, present and then upload some of your phone photo's I suggest it.

 
 


Instagram- It's not really all that shocking that I love this app. For the past several months I have only used Intagram as basically a photo editing software on my phone. I didn't upload/stream the pictures I took directly to facebook and I also didn't use it as a social media app either, following friends etc. Now that summer has arrived and I've had more time to use this app to its full capacity I am really enjoying it. The filters and easy editing tools are a breeze once you know what you are doing.  It's also free and I believe has consistently been the most popular app for a few years now. If you don't already have it you should definitely give it a try.


I also have a few games for my kids. I have downloaded some electronic coloring books, Angry Birds and a few princess dress up games for the littles to play when we're in a tight situation and I need them to be still and not wander. This has proved to be a lifesaver at the DMV, dentist office, school district office, and really anywhere else I need them to sit and be still for more than 5 minutes. 

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!
~me


**Note- The above apps I have found through the ITUNES app store I know Instagram is available for Android users but I am not aware of duplicates for the others.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwiches

A few years ago R asked me to make chocolate cookies. So I scanned our pantry and saw that we had all the needed ingredients, cocoa powder, flour, sugar, butter... Next, I scoured my cookbooks. Luckily I found a recipe. It was amazing! Once I made the recipe I noticed the cookies were very thin. I immediately thought they looked like the cookie pieces in a typical ice cream sandwich. I logged the idea in my head and a few months later when the weather got warmer I came back to the recipe. It worked PERFECTLY. Since making the cookies that day I've adjusted the recipe so that the cookies are thicker, and less like wafers. I made them today with the 'thicker version' and here is the result.
 
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The recipe as written follows (if you like thick cookies following the amounts in parentheses) 1-1/4c butter or margarine softened 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 2 t vanilla extra 2 cups all purpose flour (2-1/2c) 3/4c baking cocoa 1t baking soda (3/4t) 1/2t salt In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set and centers are puffed and cracked. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks (cookies will flatten as they cool). Yield: about 5 dozen 8Amazing with mint pieces, or peanut butter chocolate chips.


Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!
~me