Monday, June 30, 2008

Get Close


I'm trying to learn some new things about taking pictures and I found a great blog of a mom and photographer called the Mt. Hope Chronicles. One thing she writes about is getting really close and filling the frame with the subject. I like how it worked out in the above picture.

In the pictures below, I didn't remember to get close enough when I snapped the shot, but thanks to technology, I was able to crop the picture and get rid of the background. You really notice those fangs now! :)


Here's two other blogs I've found with photography tips:
Short On Words
Blue Lily Photography

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Inspiration

Mother Teresa is my favorite, favorite, favorite for words of inspiration. I found this in the book "No Greater Love".

One thing will always secure heaven for us: the acts of charity and kindness with which we have filled our lives. We will never know how much good just a simple smile can do. We tell people how kind, forgiving, and understanding God is, but are we the living proof? Can they really see this kindness, this forgiveness, this understanding alive in us?
Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not be surprised or become preoccupied at each other's failure; rather see and find the good in each other, for each one of us is created in the image of God. Keep in mind that our community is not composed of those who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints. Therefore, let us be extremely patient with each other's faults and failures.
Use your tongue for the good of others, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. We have to possess before we can give. Those who have the mission of giving to others must grow first in the knowledge of God.

This is a good one for me. I'm really going to work on this this week. Have a great one!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Don't Cry!!


I certainly don't like to see my baby cry, but I do want to paint a realistic picture of life in our house. And, sometimes, there are tears! (Even as sad as she looks, this picture is still cute).

The crying came because of this. My friend Jessica called earlier and left a message on our cell phone. A few hours later, I think her phone accidentally called us. I saw it was her and I could her people talking in the background but she wasn't actually talking to me (does that make sense?) So I started yelling, "JESSICA!! PICK UP YOUR PHONE!!" I heard her say, "Did you hear that?" and so I yelled again, "JESSICA! PICK UP YOUR PHONE! IT'S ANDREA!" It didn't work and all the yelling made Elyse cry and so I stopped. But, of course I had to snap a quick picture.

At least it's good to know she doesn't like yelling.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reading

Elyse really likes books lately. Here she is reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" with dad. He makes all kinds of funny voices for each animal and she cracks up. I have a video that I'll post soon. (We're having trouble with the video on our computer lately).

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Use the Flash OUTSIDE!

Elyse and I went to visit Dennis at work for lunch today. Luckily, I had the little camera in my bag and was able to capture this Kodak moment! I took a few pictures, and remembered a tip I had read recently...to use the flash outside on a sunny day! It seems counter-intuitive.

You can see in this first picture that there are a lot of shadows on both their faces.


In the next picture, I forced the flash on and it fills in the shadows on their faces. Doesn't that look better?!

I haven't figured how to do it or even if I can force on the flash on my new camera. The other lesson I learned today is to always have the camera with me! It doesn't have to be the fancy one, the little point and shoot I have fits in the bag so it is there whenever something cute like that comes up!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Book is Here!!


Finally! My mom's book came in the mail today from Amazon. It is SO COOL!! For those of you don't know, my mom wrote a quilting book and it was actually published. She is a published author, I can't believe it! The book is great, the quilts beautiful. Check it out on Amazon.

Way to go mom! We are very proud of you!!!

I can stand!




Elyse has learned how to pull herself up to standing! Here she is hanging out in the pack n' play! Dennis and i were eating dinner and she kept getting on her tip toes to peak over the couch and see what we were doing. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pillows

I went into our local quilt shop "What's your Stitch N' Stuff" to buy fabric to make pillows for our bed. They had this great method where you end up with no seam. Well, I figured I could follow the directions but ended up with something the did not look at all like what I was supposed to have. I brought my mistake back in and the nice ladies were so happy to show me what I needed to do (I went in saying "I must be stupid" and they reminded me over and over again that I am not stupid...so nice!) Thanks to their help I was able to make the pillows so I thought I would share the method along with some pictures to help.

Fabric Needed:
Main Print: 3/4 Yard
Band: 1/8 Yard accent
Cuff: 1/3 Yard


Cut cuff fabric 9'' by the width of the fabric (I do not know what this means...the ladies at the fabric shop did this for me.) Cut band fabric 1 3/4'' by width of fabric and press in half lengthwise, wrong halves together (this is the step I missed the first time!) Cut body fabric 27'' by width of fabric.


Lay cuff fabric RIGHT SIDE UP on table. Lay pressed band fabric on top of cuff, keeping raw edges even at the top long edge. Lay body fabric RIGHT SIDE DOWN on top of the band and cuff, lining the raw at the top long edge. Lay body fabric RIGHT SIDE DOWN on top of the band and cuff, lining the raw edge with the other raw edges. Pin in place (in 4-6 spots) across the long edge. Because the width of the fabrics are slightly different just line up one end evenly and leave the toher end as is. It will work, don't worry about it!
The picture is before I added on the body fabric, right side down.

Now, roll the body fabric up to the pins. Take the bottom edge of the cuff and roll it over the previous fabrics. Remove the pins from the last step and re-pin (in 10 or more spots) along this long edge. All your raw edges should be even and you will be pinning 5 layers. See the picture below. The green fabric is the one I pulled up to make the tube.


Sew along this long pinned edge using a 1/4'' seam. Unpin and pull the body fabric out of this long tube you have created. WOW! All these seams are hidden inside. Press well. Now trim your pillowcase to 40'' wide.

To create a french seam, fold the pillowcase in half RIGHT SIDES OUT. Starting at the cuff and using a scant 1/4'' seam (I learned this means a little less than 1/4'') sew down the long edge, pivot and sew across the bottom of the case. Turn the case (right sides in) and press the case. Using 3/8'' seam and starting at the cuff sew along the long edge, pivot, sew across the bottom of the case. This will encase the previous seam. Turn and press. All of your seams are now finished perfectly and you are done.

Here's the picture of the pillows on the bed. They look great with the quilt my mom made us for our wedding.

Thanks to the ladies at What's your Stich N' Stuff www.whatsyourstitchnstuff.com for the help!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Psalm 23


I've decided on Sundays, I want to share something that has inspired or touched me during the week. If nothing else, it will keep my spiritual eyes open, knowing I will need to have something to share.

Today in church, someone read the 23rd Psalm. I've heard it many times but today it especially touched me. In the past, I've recognized this psalm for the recognition of all the blessings the Lord bestows on us. I recognized that again today. My cup does overflow. But today what especially struck me was the part about enemies. The fact that God still provides all these wonderful things in the bad times and the presence of enemies. While I can thankfully say I have few enemies in the literal sense, I do have enemies in the form of doubt, long days, traffic, bad attitudes (my own and that of others) and frustrations. But God is still with me and provides abundant blessings in every situation.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He let's me rest in peaceful meadows;
He leads me by peaceful streams.
He renews my strength;
He guides me along right paths,
Bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the lord forever.

Added Later: My mom called this morning and let me know the bug on that flower is a Japanese beetle. Apparently, they are the enemy of flowers! I didn't even realize it, but that flower is in the presence of its enemy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Master Katolin


Dennis's degree finally came in the mail today (he's been "officially" a graduate since April!) Doesn't it look great?! Way to go baby!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Picnic



Dennis's work had a picnic today. He didn't have to go to work and we were able to hang out together at the park. It was fun. By the time we left, Elyse was worn out!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

We're raising a reader!


I'm done with Pat the Bunny! Let's check out some of these!

A few of our favorite things...






I've been looking for a project and I found the idea for this project on another blog. It was easy, and adds a personal touch to a piece of art. I already had this canvas so it is what I used. I might make a bigger one. You could do a lot of different things with this. Any group of words would work, your favorite authors, memories, a quote or bible verse, or favorite things about a special person (maybe you could even include a picture in the middle). It doesn't have to be perfect, mine certainly is not (can you find the spelling boo boo?) But, I had a lot of fun making it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elyse is....




CRAWLING!!! Watch out world, here she comes! She has been able to get on her knees and rock but now she can move...and she is fast! No longer can I run into the kitchen and trust my baby will not move. She is so proud of herself and I can just tell she gets such a kick at being able to move. No longer does she have to look longingly across the room at something shiny. Dennis, we are in big trouble.

On a side note, Dennis had to work late tonight (he's not home yet) and while I was disappointed at first, I have accomplished a lot. I hemmed his jeans, using the method described on this website. It was surprisingly easy and I'm not good at that stuff (why did I ever need to learn how to do that stuff when my mom is a master?). I also baked cookies, did the dishes, graded several papers, cleaned up the living room and worked on a little art project of mine (results to be on a blog in the near future). Aren't I just the little suzy homemaker?! :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lifetime To-Do List

I love lists. So, it was fun to get my Real Simple Magazine this month and see that the question of the month is "What are the top-three things on your lifetime to-do list?" I loved reading the answers. They ranged from learn how to play the piano to have a tailor-made pair of jeans to find a cure for cancer. It made me think...what are my top three? These may not be the be all end all but this is what I came up with:
1. Take a cooking class in Italy. (Steph, I think you already got to do that one!)
2. Earn my Ph.D. (in what? I have no idea for now!)
3. Run a full marathon.

I asked Dennis his top three and the only thing he could come up for right now is to make a movie (he's in the middle of that now!)

What would be on your list?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day Part 2

Believe it or not, honey, this post is for you! It is hard to believe we are parents. When I first started dating Dennis, one of the things I loved about him was that I knew he would be a great dad. Having kids has always been one of our favorite topics of conversation, and believe it or not, here we are. Watching Dennis with Elyse has been such an awesome experience. Elyse is so lucky to have you as her dad.

Here's a picture from day one of daddy Dennis.

And here's a picture from today. I found these great shirts on the Babies R Us website. Dennis's shirt says "My Kid Totally Rocks" and Elyse's matching onsie says "My Dad Totally Rocks." I think you both totally rock.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Father's Day Part 1


No, my dad's face is not covered in blood...it's Hershey's chocolate sauce. You see, I was quite a baby as a kid...any little thing would make me cry. On this particular evening, I managed to get a little chocolate sauce of my face while eating my ice cream and apparently I broke down in tears. (Today I don't think anything would keep me from my ice cream). But, to show me that it really was not a big deal, my wonderful dad poured chocolate sauce all over his face. He taught me then and in many other situations not to take life too seriously. And, although I still sometimes forget this and take myself a little to seriously, this has been a great lesson I have carried with me throughout my life.

So thank you dad for this and many other things, including but not limited to, running into walls, laughs at the dinner table, reading "Fox in Sox" as fast as you could, driving lessons, failed trips to Six Flags (and lessons about Elvis's death), financial planning, our shared love of maps and toffee, and letting Elyse know how beautiful she is! I love you!

Splish, Splash!




Elyse took her first bath in the big bath tub. She LOVED it! She splashed, kicked and even did raspberries on the water!

And, according to my new photography book, the bathtub is a great place to take pictures, not only when your baby is actually taking a bath. The lighting from the bathroom along with the white walls of the bathtub make for great lighting!

Just in case you are wondering, the AC is FIXED!!! Yipee! "My Three Sons" came and fixed it and they were super nice and reasonable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dinner


Here's a pic of our dinner from last night. I found a blog where the author made a New Year's resolution to use her crock pot everyday for a year! Check it out: Crockpot 365 Since I love the crock pot but have fallen off the "crock pot" wagon, I decided to check it out. We made the Mongolian Style Beef and it was yummy! Actually, Dennis liked it so much there weren't any leftovers to have to put away. (And even, better it was easy too!).

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

* 1 lb beef flank steak, sliced thinly across the grain
* 1 medium white onion or yellow onion, sliced thinly (about 1 cup)
* 1/2 cup light soy sauce or Braggs liquid aminos
* 1/2 cup dry sherry
* 1/2 cup chicken broth
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
* 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon ground ginger
* 1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1 cup cut scallion, in 1 . 5 inch pieces (green onions)
* 1/3 cup fruity white wine

Directions

1.Slice the flank steak thinly across the grain - the strips should be 2 to 3 inches long each; set aside.
2.Combine the onion, soy sauce, sherry, broth, garlic, hoisin, brown sugar, ginger, and pepper flakes, then put the mixture into the crock pot.
3.Put the cornstarch in a large Ziploc bag; add the sliced beef and toss well to coat.
4.Add the coated beef into the crock pot, gently pushing it into the liquid to cover; pour the white wine over - do NOT stir.
5. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours; an hour before you're going to serve, turn the crock pot to high, add the cut scallions, stir, and cook for an additional hour.
6. Stir, and serve over rice or noodles.

Oh, and our grocery store didn't have green onions (I miss Dierbergs) so as you can see they are missing from the picture. But, I don't think they were too missed in the food.


On a side note, our AC is broken. Boo. Luckily we are past the 100 degree weather of the past weekend. The fix it guy is supposed to be here tomorrow at 1. Pray that he may use his God given skills to our advantage and we can chill out in a cool house. I'm getting a little crabby....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Elyse's Christening


Dennis and I have found a church we both love. (For those of you who don't know, Dennis is Muslim, so that is a tough thing to do.) We go to Christ Unity Oceanside, a Unity Church. I was introduced to Unity by my parents and like the denomination because of their open minds and positive attitudes.

We decided to have Elyse christened, to welcome her into the family of God and to have an outward sign of our gratitude to God for blessing us with her.

Here's what was said. I love it.

Elyse is an angel that comes from the heart of God to bless us.

As we open out hearts to her today it’s a reminder that all children come from God, pure and holy.

She comes whole and complete. Her soul comes with wonderful lessons to learn and wonderful gifts to give.

As we open our hearts to you, Elyse, your mom, Andrea and your dad, Dennis and your family here at Christ Unity Oceanside make a commitment to create a world that works for you.

You deserve an opportunity to come and give the fullness of your gifts.

You deserve to grow up in a world that is safe and peaceful, where you can find that creative divine spark within you and bring it into full realization.

It is our intention as we christen you, Elyse, that we make that commitment to honor our part of the deal so that you can live in world of peace, a world of beauty.

And so it is!

Don’t be confused by her body. Don't be confused by her size.

She has just come from the Father and she is very ancient and very wise.

And she comes knowing her purpose and our job is to create an opening for that to mature and grow.

Elyse, may your life be one of great beauty and great joy.

It is a great privilege to christen you, Elyse Katolin.

Elyse, you are a carrier of the God's Light, a beloved child of God.

We promise to cherish you and allow you to grow and be all that you can be.

Elyse also came to remind us that in the eyes of God we look just that beautiful and that beloved and worthy of all the good that is, so Elyse really came to christen us today.

Elyse, we are so delighted to share your journey.

Welcome Precious One.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Blue Eyed Girl



Dennis has dark brown eyes, I have brownish-green dark eyes. Who would have ever thought we would have such a beautiful blue eyed girl? Aren't genes amazing?

14 Superfoods a Day Keeps the Dr. Away!



When my friend Amber Dennis and I were working in 29 Palms, we had some times when we were REALLY BORED! Luckily, we found some interesting books to read, and one of them was SuperFoods RX by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews.

Anyway, I was reminded of it recently and I'm trying to incorporate each of the foods into my diet. Here's how it's working out so far:
Beans: Well, we're starting off with the worst one. I don't like beans. I like hummus so maybe I'll try and have hummus on occasion.
Blueberries: I have dried blueberries or cranberries (they count too) in my oatmeal every morning
Broccoli: I don't really do so well with this one either. Any suggestions other than just bites of broccoli?
Oats: This one is easy. I have oatmeal for breakfast every day! Brown rice and whole wheat fit into this category too and they are pretty easy to include.
Oranges: I really was not having any oranges but I just bought some orange juice to start having with my breakfast
Pumpkin: I thought this one would be hard to do but since I've started making Elyse's food, I've been putting an "ice cube" of butternut squash or sweet potatoes in my oatmeal. It sounds weird but I don't taste it at all!
Wild Salmon: I don't like seafood at all so I take this one in pill form...one pill of fish oil a day
Soy: I've started putting soy milk into my coffee and oatmeal. Also, edamame is one of my favorite afternoon snacks
Spinach: I have a spinach salad for lunch almost every day
Tea: I have decaf coffee every morning (and this sort of counts) but I also drink a lot of the Arizona brand green tea throughout the day
Tomatoes: We eat a lot of dinners with tomato sauce, and as insurance, I chug a glass of V8 every morning
Turkey: Chicken fits into this category too and I have grilled chicken on my salad most days
Walnuts: Walnuts are added to the oatmeal every morning

Added later:I just realized I can't count and forgot the 14th Superfood...yogurt! This is an easy one, I just have a yogurt a day.

So, I guess we're not doing too bad. Anyone have any other ways of adding Superfoods to your day!?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Holy Crap!






Breaking news...Baby potty trained at 8 months! Well, not really, but we have gotten Elyse to poo on the potty three times!! What an amazing child. Really, I've just been able to catch her signals and get her on the potty in time. But, these pictures were just too wonderful not to share! Dennis got a shot of the "results" too but I figured no one would want to see that.

This whole incident reminded me of a story I heard once on the Today show about "Elimination Communication", basically a method of recognizing your baby's cues and getting her on the potty in time for her to do her stuff. I thought it was interesting and looked into it and apparently there is a whole group dedicated to this idea called DiaperFreeBaby. It's an official Non-profit group. I guess we all change the world in our own little way. They even have support groups and volunteer opportunities...huh....check out www.diaperfreebaby.org. Here's more about it at the Baby Center Website.

In all seriousness though, we are able to set Elyse on the regular toilet because of these great seats the people before us left in the house. They have a little toilet seat that fits within the big toilet seat that we can just put down. You can buy them at Amazon and don't ever have to worry about that nasty potty chair.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cookies


I made cookies today, quadrupled the recipe! I couldn't believe how many there are! I made them for our LINKS session on Saturday and for Dennis to take to work. Yum, yum, yum.

My favorite recipe is for Chocolate Chunk Cookies, off the Baker's Chocolate Chunk bag. Since I can only find these chips at the commissary, I often have trouble locating the recipe. I found it online today so I thought I would share. And, this way, I'll know right where to look.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies:
Combine
2 1/4 C Flour
1 t baking Soda
1/2 t salt

Set aside

Mix
2 sticks butter
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c sugar

After mixing, add 2 eggs and 1 t vanilla.

While mixing, slowly add in flour mixture.
Mix in one bag chocolate chunks.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and scarf! They are delicious. I ate WAY too many. Oh well!

Just in case you are wondering what LINKS is, there was actually an article published today on the local Marine website. Check it out!
http://www.marforcom.usmc.mil/MCFTB.html

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Elyse is 8 Months Old!


I still feel like the newest mom on the block so it is hard to believe that Elyse is eight months old today! Here are some of the things that have happened in her eighth month:
-She finally got some teeth! I felt them popping out as we were driving down to Jacksonville. Her two little teeth are darn cute! I think you can see them in the picture.
-She has learned to clap and more importantly, understands that "clap" means bang your hands together. She also can jump on command (or at least when she feels like it).
-Elyse is very close to crawling! (As I cringe and think of all the trouble she will soon be in). She gets up on her knees and rocks and has also come up with a pull-in-the knees, dive forward onto her belly and repeat. She actually can move along quite well with this strategy.
-She has started eating puffs, pears, sweet potatoes and lots of other fruits and vegetables. And, today she had meat for the first time...turkey and rice. (Does anyone else think it is weird to feed meat to babies?)
-Books are now a treat, especially "Pat the Bunny." She knows what to do on each page and can even "sniff" the flowers when I remind her what to do (so cute!) She loves that book so much she SCREAMS every time I try and put it away.

Happy "birthday" sweet girl! We love you very much!!

P.S. I learned the hard way today that water bottles are not good toys for babies. As I was driving along, Elyse some how managed to bite off a small piece of the label. She coughed and I think she eventually swallowed it (I stopped in a parking lot when I heard the coughs) but it was a bit of a scare. As much as she loves them, no more watter bottles for you, Elyse!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Visit from Mom

My mom went back to STL today after a great visit. She came last Thursday. Of course, Elyse loved all the extra lovin' she got from her Nana. They are great buddies!

We didn't anything overly exciting. Saturday night she babysat so Dennis and I could go out on a date. We went for a few drinks and it was very interesting to watch the "bar scene" as an outsider. We were both very thankful not to have to deal with any of that. I wonder how many other women there were wearing nursing bras?!

We had Elyse's Christening on Sunday. I'll have more about that next week after I get the program from the minister so I can share the beautiful words said about Elyse.

Thanks, mom, for coming out. As always, we loved having you here! Here are some pictures of my mom and Elyse together and a picture of Elyse on the new quilt her nana brought. What a lucky girl!