Friday, January 27, 2012

School Supplies

I find these days my favorite school supplies are electronic. I carry less around, can access study notes from my phone and don't have to worry about spilling coffee on my textbook! 


This semester I'm taking an online class to fulfill one of my last university requirements before graduation in May. There's something about an online class that makes me forget that I still need a book; a week before classes started this month I suddenly realized I didn't have the required textbook. I checked online.. wow textbooks are expensive! Ouch! Not to mention shipping costs to Hawaii (not pretty), and the time it would take to get here. Last semester I rented a book from B&N and that worked out great for me. I saved myself a lot of money taking that route, so I went to the B&N website to try that again, that's when I discovered Nook Study


Nook Study lets you download an electronic textbook immediately, along with their free software. Although not all textbooks are available, many are, especially those required for gen eds. Thank goodness mine was available, it only cost $45 to rent and I could access the book immediately. The software took less than 5 minutes to download and figure out. The interface is clean cut, and simple. I can take notes, highlight sections, and bookmark pages. Perfect! It's really making a difference for me this semester.


The second tool that I started using last semester and am using more often this semester is Study Blue. Study Blue makes it really easy to create flashcards and take notes that I can access from any computer. It's free to use and there is even a free app that lets you study flashcards on the go. This is my favorite feature because I love that I can get a little studying in walking across campus! Study Blue is fun and super easy to use, it even lets you post notifications to your Facebook letting your friends know that you are studying and not to bother you! I love it. Study Blue tracks your progress and lets you know how you're doing. If you go through a deck of flashcards you can choose to "study the wrongs" at the end. Very convenient! It also supports Asian language fonts, which is important for me because I am studying Chinese! Awesome!


Something else I discovered last semester that is working well for me again is Google Docs. I heart Google Docs! I can upload, download, read, create, any file, anywhere, any time. Lovely. Before I head to class I create a document for that lesson and take preparation notes, usually vocab lists (I'm a Chinese major), then later when I'm in class I can access these notes, make changes, make more notes, whatever I need. Works great! I don't have to print as much, less ink, less paper, less cost! When you're a college student that's the most important part. Google Docs is also great for creating and saving power point presentations. I no longer have to worry about formatting changes or "what if my file mysteriously disappears?" or "what if I forget my thumb stick at home or drop it in a puddle??" None of that nonsense, just log into Google Docs and you're good to go!


If you're still getting to try to get into the swing of things in school this semester I really recommend these tools to help you study.

TGIF!

Thank goodness too. It's been a long week! Heck, it's been a long 12 hours! Mr. C woke me up no less than seven times last night! I think it's a record. He didn't wake me up that many times his first night of life. He must have known I needed to get up extra early this morning. How do they do that??


I've been telling myself that Mr. C not sleeping through the night is the reason I'm not getting up in the morning to workout. I know that's not true though. I'm staying up too late playing on the computer and watching TV. Not cleaning or doing homework, just wasting time. So starting this weekend my goal is to get to bed on time, get up early and get some "me" time in before the kids wake up.


This month Bob Harper had all his DVD workouts on sale so I bought the set and I haven't done them yet! So another goal I'm setting myself is to go through each of these workouts a few times and then give you a nice review! I love the Biggest Loser and Bob Harper so I'm sure I'll be sweating by the time I'm done! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Terrible Twos

This week has been really hard for me. With Mr. Eight doing training on the mainland I've been left alone handling the kids and school. Lucky for us, this semester I'm only taking one class on campus and one class online. I am planning on graduating at the end of the semester though, which means a lot of paperwork and double checking I have all my stuff together (like taking those two CLEP tests I've been neglecting). Not to mention getting ready for graduate school (I need to take the GRE!).


For the most part this month has gone by very quickly, it's already the 20th! Tax season is upon us.. Valentines around the corner.. but this week just seemed to drag. A lot of it had to do with Miss M. She is full on Terrible Twos. I hate talking about the Terrible Twos, because no matter what age they are, kids have issues, ups and downs, whatever. This week though she has really gone out of her way to remind me that she is a toddler, an independent, obstinate, impatient, potty training, screaming, give-it-to-me-right-now, I-have-limited-communication-abilities.. toddler. Whew.


I really felt at my wits end last night and that's when I came across an article while I was perusing Parents.com. "10 Reasons to Love the Terrible Twos". I'm sorry.. what?? I had to see this. And you know what? It made me feel a lot better. A lot of the information seems like a no brainer: I know that giving your toddler options makes things go smoother (Cheerios or Kix?), I know that when she insists on doing it herself it's just her self-sufficiency blossoming, and I know that "they live in the moment" and will shortly forget what it is they are screaming about (see slide #6, it's my favorite!). Yet as I read slide after slide I thought back to this week, when my nerves were frayed and I was locking myself in the bathroom for a breather, and I realized that I hadn't really been putting any of these important facts to good use.


Today I feel ten, a hundred, a thousand times better. I didn't lose my temper, I didn't yell, I didn't swear (ok I'm not really that bad, it's been a rough week). I did however, quietly escort her to her room for timeout when she refused to sit on her designated Timeout Rug. I did make a big deal about how happy I was that she was eating her dinner and peeing on the potty. And I did calmly explain that if she didn't quit screaming at the table she would quickly find herself in bed with no dessert and no bedtime story.


It was amazing what a difference today was from yesterday. Of course, she didn't change at all, she's still a screaming, obstinate, no-brother-that's-my-toy toddler. But I changed. My attitude changed, and I feel a million times better for it.

Free Picnik Features!

I love using Picnik to edit my photos and I was so sad to find out they are closing :(. Their last day is April 18, 2012! Apparently we will be able to find some of our favorite Picnik features under Google+, and here's the best part... from now until Picnik's last day all of their Premium Features are absolutely free! Yay! So get editing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

iPad 2 and Kindle Fire Giveaway from Rafflecopter!

To celebrate going public and leaving beta behind, Rafflecopter is hosting a giveaway. Entering a giveaway with Rafflecopter is quick and easy! Check out the widget below and let them know that Savannah Cooper-Hughes referred you!




Wordless Wednesday



To see more Wordless Wednesday go here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hoppy Mama's Kreations Giveaway!

WELCOME TO MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!

I can't tell you how excited I am to be hosting my first giveaway. Ever since my lovely neighbor got me hooked on giveaways two years ago I have always wanted to have one of my own!



This giveaway is brought to you by Hoppy Mama's Kreations. She has generously decided to give away $15 towards any item of your choosing, excluding shipping. Go to her Facebook page and check out the photos of some of her awesome kreations! I personally cannot wait to get a pillow case dress to try on Miss M. Look at this one she made for a friend! Isn't it adorable?


She does custom orders too, so if there is something specific you have in mind just let her know! Good luck!



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake!

You know she didn't really say that right?

Ok, so Craftster Extraordinaire (C.E.) and I are happy to be surrounded by neighbors who love to party, eat good food and drink. Now, C.E. enjoys dabbling in cake decorating now and again, which is lucky for me since she did Miss M's birthday cake (I'll be posting that soon). Recently one of our lovely neighbors had a birthday and her husband (smart man that I'm sure he is) thought to ask C.E. if she would do a cake for his wife. Of course C.E. agreed!

The trouble was, what kind of decorations was she going to do? C.E. is unique and full of ideas, so a simple border and a "Happy Birthday" wasn't going to cut it. She looked through her Wilton book and was dismayed by all the "old lady flowers", as she called them. Our neighbor is a trendy young woman and old lady flowers just weren't going to cut it.

Finally, in a fit of fantastic craftness she began looking through her scrap fabric collection (it's vast), and came upon a fun pattern that she loved; this became her model for the cake.

Isn't it lovely?

I was so excited to see this cake come to life! I watched C.E. do the whole thing and insisted on taking pictures of the process to blog about. I tried to repay her in witty conversation, however Misfits was on and I got distracted quite often. 

So here it is. Eva's Cake: A Journey.






C.E. says having a pot of hot water on the stove to dip icing tools into is the way to go!









Aren't the colors perfect?

They're hard to see but C.E. used a toothpick to trace on the pattern she wanted, using the fabric as her inspiration.










Almost there!




Sometimes things don't work out the way you like, use a paper towel to dab at any mistakes or runny icing.



The black really brought it together!

 The little balls around the edge of the cake are my favorite part!

Look how well the cake matches the fabric! Beautiful!
For the finishing touch C.E. wrapped a simple ribbon around the cake plate. 

Wasn't that lovely? I hope you enjoyed watching this cake come to life as much as I did! It took a few hours but was well worth her effort. Our neighbor loved her cake! Check out C.E.'s new Facebook page here, she'll be opening her Etsy shop soon, and if you are in the Honolulu area maybe she'll do a cake for you too, if you ask nicely ;) 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Step 2 Replacement Parts

Being a military mom living on base with two small children, I get a lot of hand me downs from my neighbors when they PCS. Last year we got a play set with two slides and a neat and tidy cottage from Step 2. Now, these toys have usually seen a lot of love, and since we are in Hawaii they are also pretty sun worn. The cottage in particular was looking a little rough, the stickers had all gone, the doorbell was broken, the batteries corroded, the phone was missing.. Basically we just had the hunk of plastic.

Well if you are like me, and have a worn hunk of Step 2 plastic in your backyard don't despair! It turns out Step 2 has replacement parts for nearly every toy. Their customer service was quick, efficient and friendly. The pieces are extremely cheap, the doorbell was $2, the phone was $4 and the stickers were under $1. What cost me most was shipping ($12.50), I live in Hawaii however and can't say what shipping to the mainland would look like, most likely it would be considerably cheaper.

The replacements took less than two weeks to arrive. Yesterday I took some Goo Gone to the cottage and replaced all the stickers, screwed in the new doorbell and give Miss M the phone. She was ecstatic! Her neat and tidy cottage is looking better than ever. So if you have a Step 2 toy and are missing pieces, try giving their customer service a call, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Diono Radian RXT Car Seat Giveaway at Minnesota Mama's Must Haves

I love my Radian XTSL and plan on doing a review on it in the near future. Here is the brand new Radian RXT! Pretty fancy shmancy with the best safety features on the market and you can win one at Minnesota Mama's Must Haves! Go check it out and enter to win!

Beautiful isn't it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

White Chicken Chili Recipe

When we lived in Maryland a good friend of mine introduced me to White Chicken Chili. The white part kind of threw me off at first but it only took one bite and I was in chili heaven. We were both pregnant at the same time and had a habit of making a pot of chili, driving to Panera for bread bowls, then coming home and devouring said chili in said bread bowls. Delicious. If you live near a Panera it's really the only way to go. If not, I'm sorry, and I'll suffer along with you, as Hawaii, sadly, does not have a Panera. Although I guess if there is another bakery you like which sells bread bowls that will suffice.


Ingredients:


2 lb chicken breast
Half a red onion chopped
1tbsp or so garlic
14 oz chicken broth
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans chopped green chilis
1 tsp each of salt, pepper, oregano, cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Corn, either shaved off an ear or half a can or so, depending on how much you like corn
1/2 c heavy cream
1 c sour cream


Now, chili is a lot like stews, wherein you can play around with the ingredients a little bit, depending on what you have in your fridge at the time you are making it. You'll see what I mean.


Method:


Add chopped onion, chicken and garlic to a pot and saute in olive oil. Stir and continue until chicken is cooked through.
As you can see I do not have onion in my pot, my onion had gone bad and my peppers were about to go bad so I used them instead. It turned out great! I recommend chopping them into a little bit smaller pieces than here, but the taste was fantastic. I was also out of corn, so the yellow and orange peppers added a nice color.


Add chicken broth, beans, chilis, corn, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper to the pot, (I like mine spicy so I add about a 1/2 to 1 tsp of cayenne pepper).


I usually use great northern beans, but any white bean will do, today I used great northern and navy.




Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.


Remove from heat.
Whisk together heavy cream and sour cream, then stir into chili.



Devour! If you're unfamiliar with white chili please give it a shot! It's delicious and worth your time. Enjoy!

Prince Lionheart WeePOD Review

I started potty training Miss M a couple weeks ago, she has been doing fabulously, but early on I began to see a problem: her skinny bottom was too small for the potty seat I had previously purchased. Awhile ago I had gone to Target and bought one of the Sesame Street, on the toilet potty seats specifically because it had handles. However, the more she used it the more I noticed her skinny bottom didn't look too comfortable and she didn't like to sit for longer than a minute or two. I did some searching online and decided my best bet was the Prince Lionheart WeePOD

I ordered it on Amazon and it took less than a week to arrive. Pretty impressive for shipping to Hawaii! Here is Miss M checking out her new potty seat. 




We love her new WeePOD! The seat is soft, comfortable to sit on and the splash guard keeps messes in the potty. The seat has a knob on the back which adjusts the seat to fit your toilet and is easy to put on and remove (because grown ups need to use the potty too!). 

I highly recommend the WeePOD to anyone who is currently potty training. Skinny bottoms or no!


UPDATE: It's been one month since the WeePOD arrived and I still love it! Miss M requests to use it over the toilet upstairs that doesn't have one. My favorite thing is that she can climb up on it by herself. The WeePOD doesn't move around, and the seat is made of a rubber type material, so it isn't slippery. This is essential for me because when I am feeding my son it's difficult to get up and run to the bathroom whenever she needs to go. The biggest perk of potty training is that they are doing it themselves! I love my WeePOD, I can't see us potty training without one.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

iStopDrop Bragging Mommy Giveaway

I love the Bragging Mommy reviews and here is a giveaway for another great product! iStopDrop is a cable organizer that can be attached to any desk, table, or nightstand to keep cords from falling down. No more digging behind my bed for the baby monitor cord or cell phone charger! I love it! There are 5 lucky winners and here is where you can enter!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's In A Serving? - Colby Cheese

Something I've been thinking about doing for a while now is posting pictures of serving sizes of different foods online. One of the best ways to manage weight and calorie intake is to pay attention to your serving sizes. However, that's not as easy as it sounds. For instance, the nutritional information on the colby cheese wrapper says that one serving equals 1 oz, but what does 1 oz of cheese look like? Does anyone really know? Chances are you will just guess and end up eating way more than a serving. So, for your convenience I will start posting pictures of serving sizes of the more non-obvious types of foods (like pasta). I hope it helps!


Kraft Colby Cheese:

one serving = 1 oz.

Calories 110 (fat cal. 80)
Total fat 9g

The cheese is on a standard 7" dessert plate.

Back To Basics Apple Peeler



For Christmas my husband sent me a Back to Basics Apple Peeler. Apparently he had grown up with one of these contraptions in the house, I, however, had never even heard of one! To my delight it came in the mail today and I got to experience the joy of convenient apple peeling, coring and slicing!



It took me a minute to figure it out but I finally got it together. The peeler took way too much meat off the first apple I did.


I played around with it a little and figured out if I just hold the peeler where I want it to be it does a much better job.


Miss M was really excited to have apples to snack on. The instruction manual also comes with some great looking recipes that I can't wait to try! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Popsicle Colors

So the Crafster Extraordinaire (C.E.) found this great way to practice colors on Pinterest. She made these for Miss M and gave them to her on Christmas. They were a big hit with the little ones!


Things you need: 

popsicle sticks
felt
needle and thread
markers

How it's done:

Decide how big you want the popsicle tops to be, cutting out a paper model is a great way to make sure they are all the same size, but these can be easily eyeballed.

Cut out two pieces of felt for each color then hand sew them together. Make sure you leave it open at the bottom for the popsicle stick to go in. C.E. used white thread and a diagonal stitch which I think added a nice touch.

On each popsicle stick write the color (in the same color marker) on one end, then flip it over and color the other side (the orange and blue ones in the picture above, blue one below).



Let the marker dry and voila!

C.E. went a step further and quickly hand sewed a felt envelope for the popsicles to go in. The felt sticks to itself so it doesn't even need velcro or a snap! I plan on decorating the bag sometime soon ;)


What I like best:  This is great as a busy bag toy, it's small and fits easily in a diaper bag or purse, kids can play with it in the waiting room, in line at the grocery store or post office. They're learning and entertaining themselves at the same time! The best part is that the pieces are easily replaced, popsicle sticks come by the bag, so if you lose one just color up another one!

Simple, cute, educational :) Thanks C.E.!

Steakhouse Style Bread

This is a great recipe for the bread machine I got here at AllRecipes.com. It makes a dark, sweet loaf that goes great with honey butter. I really love the taste and texture, however I've made this loaf twice and it doesn't rise that much. A couple people on AllRecipes complained about the same thing, but most people seemed to have an ok time with it. If you try this recipe and have the same issue, or don't, or know how to fix it please let me know! That being said I'll continue to make it and tweak it, if I find the cure I'll post it here.

*Tip: Make sure you add all ingredients in the order listed, and be sure to use exact measurements. Also, the water should be warm, 80 to 86 degrees F.


3/4 c. warm water
1 T butter, softened
1/4 c. honey (I used local honey)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant coffee granules (I used Best Yet)
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T white sugar
1 c. bread flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp. bread machine yeast


Add ingredients one at a a time in the order listed.



The last ingredient is the bread machine yeast. It's important to not let the yeast touch the liquid ingredients so as not to activate it before the bread making has begun. To keep the yeast dry, make a small pocket in the side or top of the flour and carefully pour it into this pouch.


Carefully put the bread pan into the bread machine.


Use the basic setting, on my Sunbeam it is the first setting, then choose a light crust. The recipe doesn't specify what size loaf (much to some peoples dismay), I went ahead and used the 1.5lb option, yours might be 1lb and I think that will still be ok.




Try not to open the lid in your excitement.


When the cycle is finished follow your machines directions (mine say push stop and unplug the machine), use an oven mitt to carefully remove the pan from the machine. As you can see my loaf did not rise much. 

Carefully shake the bread pan upside down over a cooling rack to get the bread out, you may need to use a spatula. Let cool for 20 minutes and then slice with a bread knife. 


Like I said, even though it didn't rise as much as it should have it was still tasty! Serve with a little honey butter, a steak, maybe even a baked potato and you can have steakhouse night right in your own dining room!