Thursday, January 30, 2014

6 Things I Learned in December and January

Linking up with Emily Freeman to share the things I learned in December and January, both serious and superficial!

6 Things I Learned in December & January

1) Brown is the most common eye color in the world.  Blue comes next, and green is the least common eye color.  Green eyes are scientifically different than hazel eyes, though I don't know the accurate way to visually distinguish between the two.  In our family, 3 of us have green/hazel eyes, 3 have blue, and only one of us has brown eyes.

2) Speaking of eyes, I went for my yearly eye exam and learned that my eyesight has grown worse.  It is now 20/400.  Yes, four hundred!  When reading the eye chart, I can't even see the big E at the top. The good news, though, is that to be considered legally blind, your eyes are only able to be corrected to 20/200.  With my glasses, I see a perfect 20/20. 

3) On Survivor, the idea is to get out there and  "rough it," but there is a medical box available to all contestant off-camera that contains:
  1. a daily vitamin 
  2. a combination bug spray and SPF
  3. ahem, feminine products

4) I thought I could think quickly under pressure until I took the Jeopardy Online Contestant Test and had to answer 50 questions with only 15 seconds to answer each one. 

5) I learned to make balloon dogs and wowed my kids!

6) In my reading and experimenting with bread this month, I've picked up a bit of new vocabulary.  The hard outer layer of the bread is called the crust.  The inner, softer part is called the crumb.  The air holes in the bread are called rooms.  In artisan baking, the bigger the rooms, the more desirable the bread. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Cupcake Diaries

I asked last week if there were any guesses about which book from this year's Sisters Book Challenge I chose to read first. 

I've been on a kick of reading books about food so The Cupcake Diaries: Recipes and Memories from the Sisters of Georgetown Cupcakeby Katherine Kallinis and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne was the natural next step. The book is by the sisters who star in the TLC show, DC Cupcakes.  It is a peek into the cupcake bakery they own and operate in Washington, D.C.  

The book is a fun, super-quick read, a peek into their memories of growing up in Canada as part of a Greek family and learning to bake with their grandmother after school.   They also share details of how they started their business and a few behind the scenes insights that don't appear on the show. We live so close, I'm thinking we might need to add a visit to this bakery to our to-go list!

After reading and salivating my way through a book stuffed with recipes, last Saturday afternoon, I pulled together my ingredients to make the Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

The book gives directions on how to replicate the Signature Swirl, the bakery's decorative method of applying frosting.  I swirled and piped and fought my way through over a dozen cupcakes and this was I best I got. It truly looks nothing like the Signature Swirl, but it is pretty.  The rest of the cupcakes got a dollop of frosting spread with a knife!

The cupcakes were wintery and delicious!  The recipe said that it yielded 12, but I ended up with 20 cupcakes so after sharing them for Sunday dessert, we brought the rest home for a special Monday dessert, too!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Social Media Party Prize Package

On Friday, I shared the details of my social media party that is happening tonight!  (For all the details, click here.)  Be sure join me tonight at 9 pm ET on my Facebook page and you can have a chance to win one these great prizes. 

1) single print of your choice from All Our Days Etsy shop

Allyson is a close personal friend and fellow mom of five.  Her shop is filled with fun, colorful, printable wall art.  I'm partial to this one because it features my favorite color, but as the winner, you can choose any single print that you like.

2) running medals display rack in gray (different color than the photo) from Running on the Wall Etsy shop

Maybe you run for exercise and this would be handy for displaying your finishing medals. Or maybe the only time you care to run is when you are late to church.  This could still be handy as a key or hat rack.

Any runner or walker could benefit from shoe tags.  Lace them onto your shoes and in the case of an emergency, your contact info is visible. 

4) one hardback copy of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This was the best book I read in 2013.  I'm excited to gift a copy to one of my readers!

5) one copy of Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic

This is another excellent book.  Not just for moms of young children, this book is relevant to moms of all ages.  (You can read my longer review here.) It would be an excellent shower gift, too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Join Me Monday Night

On Monday night at 9 pm ET, I will be hosting my first social media party on my Facebook page.

Here is how it will work.  At 9 pm I will kick off the party with an introduction question.  Anyone who comments will automatically be entered to win a prize.  Approximately every 10 minutes, I'll ask another question and anyone who comments will be entered to win a different prize.  At the end of the hour, I'll announce the winners! 

I'll share photos of the prize package on my blog on Monday morning, but I can tell you that there will be at least one prize for each of these categories:

  • women
  • readers
  • walkers/runners
  • moms

You do not need to Like my page to attend the party, but if you have a good time, I'd love it if you decide to join the community!

I'll put out another reminder on Monday morning.  
In the meantime, would you consider spreading the word?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

winter in photos

Who am I kidding?  Of course, there will a few words, too! 

This is my preferred method of building a snowman.  When the weather gets nippy, I love to create in the kitchen.  We got some snow last night, but with today's highs only predicted to reach the teens, inside snowmen are the way to go!

We had our first true snow of the year a few weeks ago.

The kids made snow angels and had a snowball fight while I stayed inside to make snow cream and tidy the house before starting loads of sopping wet laundry. 

We've been blessed with good health so far this winter.  Maddie did succumb to a mild virus, but it was nothing that rest and a few snuggles couldn't cure. 

We've spent the inside hours playing games.  Old Maid, Monopoly Deal, Phase 10, Guess Who, Blink.  Lots of games!

And coloring, too.

Gavin and Owen spent an afternoon creating marble mazes out of Lego.

Owen's basic maze

Gavin's over-the-top tilt maze

And it certainly wouldn't be winter (or any season of the year) without stacks of books. I see 3 books about food, 2 memoirs, 2 children's lit, and a couple of fat novels.  Sounds about right. 

For all my talk of loving the indoors and wanting to stay in where it is warm, I've been spending my fair share of time out in the elements.  I've decided to train for a 1/2 marathon at the end of April so I'm running between 2.5 and 9 miles, 3-4 days a week!  My coldest running day was 23 degrees, but the most extreme day was running 8.5 miles in the rain.

In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, 
in winter enjoy.
~William Blake~

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sisters Book Challenge for 2014

I'm having a hard time getting my mind around the fact that it is 2014!  I'm also in denial that I don't have time to read everything that sparks my interest.  Just last week, I picked up two more books at the library.  My reading list is growing and morphing, and I'm slowly working my way through it and crossing off as I go.  

My sister, Kati, and I decided to continue our Sisters Book Challenge in 2014.  Here's how it works: 
  • Kati makes a list of 10 books that she loves but that I've never read. 
  • I make a list of 10 books that I love but that she's never read.  (That's a challenge in itself!)
  • Trade lists. 
  • During the next 12 months, each select at least 5 books from the list we were given.
  • Read and review.

These are the 10 books Kati selected for me this year.  I've actually started and finished one of the books in the week between receiving my list and publishing the list here.  Any guesses?  (I'll review it next week.)

Life of Piby Yann Martel, Dana's Valleyby Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan, Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie, The Yearlingby Marjorie Kinnan Rawling, The Upstairs Roomby Joanna Reiss, Pygmalionby George Bernard Shaw, Glimpses of Truthby Jack Cavanaugh, Weaver's Daughterby Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castleby Fiona, Countess of Carnavvon, The Cupcake Diaries: Recipes and Memories from the Sisters of Georgetown Cupcakeby Kathering Berman and Sophie Lamontagne

This is the list I gave Kati. Last year I agonized over finding a balance between fiction and non; male and female authors; youth and adult selections.  This year I simply jotted down ideas as they came to me and still ended up with a surprisingly varied list. 

The Distant Hoursby Kate Morton, Bread, Jam and a Borrowed Pramby Dot May Dunn, Okay for Nowby Gary D. Schmidt, The Return of Sherlock Holmesby Arthur Conan Doyle, Harriet the Spyby Louise Fitzhugh, The Midnight Foxby Betsy Byars, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohioby Terry Ryan, Emily of New Moonby L. M. Montgomery, and Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

Have you read any of these titles?  Thoughts?

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