Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Talk About Family Tuesday-More Gram

I know I've talked about my spunky grandmother-my mom's mom-before. She has been on my mind and heart a lot lately, still, so I will again today. We went to visit with her when we were there for Thanksgiving. She called me "Sweetie" like she didn't remember my name. She recognized me, and looked at my husband like she thought she should know him but didn't. It was sad to see her memory continuing to fail. I asked if she had had any visitors and she told me that her deceased sister came to see her. My mom said that they visited her last week. She seemed less lethargic, as if she were not in so much of a daze, but still so confused. The dementia continues to creep in and steal little nuggets of her memory. I know it is even harder for my mom to watch. Gram hugged me goodbye when we visited. I told her I'd come by again and she she took my hand and wouldn't let it go. It's hard to see her like that-in a nursing home, where people are on their way to the end of their lives. It's heartbreaking, especially knowing her earlier in her life, how much she loved coming to our house to visit, content just to spend time with us. That's how I choose to see her in my mind...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Social Media Monday

I follow leanin.org on Facebook and today their post was phenominal. I love it and shared it via Facebook. Now, I'm sharing it again, here. :)

One Little Word Recap 2013

This year I chose the "One Little Word" Grow for myself. Here is how it worked...

I grew in my running mileage: in 2011 I ran 506 miles, in 2012 I ran 725 and this year I ran-up till this moment, but I will increase over the last few days this month-844 miles. I also "grew" in speed as I ran my fastest half marathon yet.

I grew in my openness as far as a job was concerned-from teacher to funeral coordinator and chaplain-in-training.

I grew in my openness to God's work-from reading my Bible on my own to co-leading a Bible Study and working toward becoming a chaplain to help others in times of need.

I grew in my relationship with my daughters-not that it was lacking before, but it has been a different type of growth. One daughter is off at college and our communication has changed. One daughter is here, the only child of sorts, and our relationship has changed, as well, both for the better.

I grew in my knowledge of myself... so many things I could list here...

I grew in my list of "books" I've read: I set a goal on Good Reads for 20 books and read 22. My goal for 2014 is to read 24. One of those books I worked on this year was my daily devotional and my daily Bible reading time.

Now, what to set as my One Little Word of 2014?


Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Job

I have mentioned in a few posts that I have a new job. I have mentioned in a few posts some simple moments that led to my changes in my job. Here I am collecting those moments and combining them to tell the story. At this time over the last two years, I was a part-time middle school Social Studies teacher. I enjoyed it, loved the staff and students, and kept busy. I enjoyed my job. Then, last spring, my husband asked if I could see myself doing this job "forever". We discussed what else I might be doing: getting my certification and teaching Social Studies in a public school with 30 kids in each class, staying in the same setting, or trying for the full time elementary school teaching position I had desired all these years. I prayed on it and thought over it.
I came to the conclusion that I wanted a full time job, to contribute to our oldest daughter's college costs. I had always felt I was better at teaching elementary school, but was always told that I needed that "classroom experience" before I would be hired. I applied for every job under the sun in a 40 minute radius of us. I applied for any job I was certified for. And I was never called. So, my husband and I discussed that I needed to sub this year and get my name and face back out there. I went through the local subbing training again, as required. They said it would be a week or so before my information was put into the system, but they really needed subs so it shouldn't be too long. It ended up taking over a month! 
During this waiting period my husband's grandfather passed away. A chaplain did the service, even providing a short story for the little children in attendance. As we drove away my husband mentioned that he could see me becoming a chaplain. I was surprised, considering my faithful/service gift to only be with children, Sunday School and the like. He said he considered me warm with everyone. I prayed on it. We also discussed what doors I should close and open toward my future. I was feeling like the house that had been on the market for too long-there may be nothing wrong with it but people won't buy it because they wonder what is wrong with it. I had received many reference letters, and recommendations, votes of confidence from administrators, staff and parents that I had worked with over the last almost ten years. However, that job had just eluded me for so long... 
I was also in touch with an administrator who told me I was first on his list, etc. etc. Then he got me confused with my sister in law and called her for a long term substitute job. It worked out well for her. And in that time, I decided to clear my plate completely, to step away from teaching and see where it led me. 
I went into our church to discuss with them the chaplain program. I talked with someone from the Care Ministry division and she said she'd keep me updated. About a week later she called and said they were saying they were thinking about creating this funeral coordinator position since three-four people were all doing parts of it, would I be interested. I said I'd come in and talk with them about it. Then, over the next week and a day, our church held three funerals. Each were different, and required different things, and I got to be part of each, learning all I could. I took the job and am our church's new funeral coordinator. I am blessed to be able to help families in their times of sadness and need, giving them care and comfort. I truly feel it is a blessing-not once did I wonder if this job was really for me. I felt like it fit perfectly and made my heart full. I get nervous of course, because I want it all to go smoothly.
It's not the full time job I thought I was looking for. It does pay me, which is a blessing. Beginning this month I will also be leading a Bible Study for 8 weeks and beginning the chaplain program which will last until spring.
I cleared my plate and truly feel that God began to place items on it. I wonder what awaits me next!

Sweet Dog

I haven't posted in weeks, again. I have been caring for our big dog, our weimaraner Merlin, who had begun to decline rapidly. If you stopped by recently, you saw my previous post about his visit to the vet. His big fatty deposit had begun to grow again and he could hardly get around. My time was spent on my new job and snuggling/caring for my sweet dog. We knew his time was nearing. My girls and I had discussed it, and cared for him knowing it was nearing his end.
On Tuesday, Dec. 17th he didn't get up all day, and he hadn't been eating much for a week. I had even made chicken and rice, and put broth in his food, but he unusually wanted neither. So, I called the vet and they asked a lot of questions. They asked us to bring him in for a consultation. We did so. They told us it was time to put him down, which was what we expected, but still so hard to hear. We have had him for 13 1/2 years. He was my sweet shadow, following me around the house even right up to the end. He could barely carry that big bump, which was stealing all his nutrients, leaving his legs weak and scant of muscle. And, yet, the night before he died I woke in the night to hear him struggling to get up the stairs to sleep outside my bedroom door, per his usual. It's also strange not to have him anxiously awaiting us as we return from a run, he would pace the house until we were all home again.
On his last day, as he just laid in his bed, we covered him with a blanket. Our other dog, Percy, who didn't usually interact directly with Merlin, laid with his head on Merlin's legs. He sensed it was time, as well. Poor Percy has wandered around our house looking lonely. He laid on the blanket we covered Merlin with and won't let us remove it from his pillow.
It was hard, still is at certain moments. Those first few days, opening my bedroom door and expecting to have to step over him, and he isn't there, it tugs on my heart and makes me so sad. When the girls were off to school and my husband was off to work, Merlin was always tagging along, going wherever I went. Now, Percy sleeps in his bed and Merlin isn't here. It is strange-a void is left in his place.
When we would go away, our neighbors would care for the dogs because Merlin didn't like to have to go somewhere else like a kennel. I texted some friends when we had decided to take him to the vet, our neighbor being one of them. She asked if her youngest son, who is an animal lover and cared so much for Merlin, could come say goodbye. It was so sweet watching him care for Merlin, and Merlin trying to give him some tail wags. After Merlin's passing they came by again, this time with a gift. They had donated money to our local animal shelter in Merlin's name "In Memory of a Good Friend". Such a sweet gesture. It still brings me tears to think of. We went and picked up his ashes last week. I have them in a nice wooden box with the certificate from our neighbors, a card that came on flowers from my sister in law and a card from our vet. I found a nice etsy shop, too, that had wooden frames you could personalize. I ordered one and now just have to decide on a picture.
I will get to blogging more, now, Readers, since the busy Christmas holiday is over and my snuggling and caring time for Merlin has passed. I do appreciate you stopping by.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Blogs I Follow

Since I have covered all the Apps I use from my phone, but I want to try to keep up my regular posting, I am changing Thursday's Helpful Apps to Blogs I Follow. This week I will link to Organizational Blogs I Follow. I used to follow blogs via Google Reader, but since that site is no longer available, I use Feedly. It works great and since more people are using it, they continue to make nice updates.

Organizational Blogs I Follow:

  1. Day One Blog-Day One is a great journaling app I use on my phone. I really like the way it looks and how easy it is to use. So, when I saw they had a blog, I began to follow it, too. 
  2. Creative Organizing blog has become Simplify 101. I love this blog and their newsletters. I appreciate their tips and suggestions! For a while I was subscribed to both via feedly and got their posts twice! :)
  3. I Heart Organizing Blog-I love this blog because they often show before and after projects, from the writer and from readers. It can spawn new project ideas or design ideas, and it also inspires me to just get going on a project!
  4. The Art Of Simple/Simple Mom-I just recently found this blog through another site. I really like the articles and will continue to follow it! It's not just about organizing, but that was how I originally found it. Some nice words of wisdom in her last few posts.
  5. Organized Home-Love the checklists posted! And the encouragement to break cleaning/organizing into small chunks, even with a busy life!
  6. A Bowl Full of Lemons-I found this blog through Pinterest as I was looking up planner ideas. I really loved the approach I saw here and the many things she was organizing-files/papers, purse, planners, home!
  7. Small Notebook-Ways to Simplify Your Home, some How-Tos and ideas for organization. This is another good blog with thoughts, feelings and words of wisdom thrown in, as well.
Do you have any organizational blogs you follow, Reader? And Happy Thanksgiving! I'm grateful you are here!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"There's An App For That"

Since I am still reading the same books as the last few weeks, I found a magazine article in Scrapbooks Etc.-which is no longer being published and that is sad- August 2012 issue (page 80) with a topic I wanted to share. I have posted about all the apps and games I have on my phone but here are some I'm interested in learning more about. *Side note-yes, I just found this article in a 2012 issue... I was cleaning out my craft room/office-yes, I organize it, but I really worked on purging and cleaning out again, recently-and found this issue.

The article is called "there's an app for that": "Here are a few of our favorite image-editing applications" {I haven't typed every bit and bob from the article, just linked the apps they listed. I linked them to their itunes page because itunes provides good information about each image-editing application.}

  1. 100 Cameras in 1 Here is some info about it via itunes
  2. Instagram I have posted about before here on my blog.
  3. Adobe Photoshop Express
  4. BeFunky
  5. Camerabag
  6. Camera Zoom FX
  7. Diptic
  8. ImgEdit-only available for blackberry
  9. Lightbox Photos-available only for android
  10. Pano
  11. Photo Editor-available for blackberry
  12. Picoli
  13. PicSay-available only for android
  14. Radical Draw with Photo Editing-available for blackberry 
  15. Snapseed
  16. Thumba Photo Editor

Monday, November 25, 2013

Social Media Monday

I got off track again the last few weeks. Been very busy. However, back on schedule for today... :)
Social Media for today is from my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I posted it to all three.
My sweet dogs-so glad Merlin is on the mend. Was pretty worried while stayed overnight at the vet. #dogs
Merlin had a spell Thursday. He couldn't stand and had some other odd symptoms, like leaning his head to one side. My youngest daughter and I were very worried, and my husband was on his way back from a business trip, not to arrive for two more hours. My father in law came to help me get him into the car, because his 83 lbs was a bit too much to do on my own. I was so thankful my in laws had made it back earlier in the day from their month long trip. Merlin couldn't get up on his own-not even half of himself, so I was worried it was his time. I called the vet and they said to bring him in. We got Merlin to the vet and he stayed overnight. They said it could be anything from an ear infection to a brain tumor! He ended up having an inner ear infection, way deep in his ear, causing dizziness so he couldn't get up. It also caused him to be ill a few times before we headed to the vet, too. After fluids and meds, he is very happy to be home. He still seems a little sleepy but doing much better! The vet said he doesn't seem to be near his "time", yet, even though he is 13-91 in dog years! And for that I am very thankful. :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Recipes We Have Tried This Week

We currently do not own a grill. Ours rusted and fell apart. Instead of buying one, my husband started using our meat smoker like a grill to cook any burgers we may make. Sunday we wanted to make steaks... but no grill... Which is just as well since we had the storm blowing through. So, my husband looked up a recipe for broiled steak. He found a Michael Symon recipe that touted the success of broiling steaks. My husband followed the recipe below except for the lemon. It was delicious! Here is the link.

Broiled Porterhouse with Roasted Garlic and Lemon

Recipe courtesy Michael Symon
Total Time:
9 hr 15 min
Prep:
10 min
|
Inactive Prep:
8 hr 50 min
|
Cook:
15 min
Level:
Easy
Yield:
4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • Two 24-ounce dry-aged prime porterhouse steaks
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 strips bacon or 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • Roasted Garlic Schmear, recipe follows
  • Roasted Garlic Schmear
  • 1 head roasted garlic, peeled
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

DIRECTIONS

The night before you serve the steaks, season them liberally with salt on both sides and store in the refrigerator overnight. Remove them from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking, to take the chill off. 

Turn the oven to broil. 

Prepare your pan(s). Note: depending on the size of the steaks and the size of your pan, you may need two pans. If using the bacon, place in a large cast-iron pan(s) and cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan, leaving the melted bacon fat, and set aside for another use. If using the cold bacon fat, add it to a cast-iron pan(s) over medium-high heat and melt. 

Open a window or two because it may get a little smoky. Place the steaks in the pan(s) and place under the broiler for 4 minutes. Flip the steaks carefully and return to the broiler for another 4 minutes. 

At this point your steaks will be about medium rare. Leave them under the broiler a little longer if you prefer them more cooked. 

Spread the Roasted Garlic Schmear over the tops of the steaks. Let rest for 5 minutes, and then slice and serve.

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or a mortar and pestle. Mix to combine. Yield: about 1/2 cup

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday's Apps

Usually the apps I link here are Thursday's "Helpful" Apps. However, the category I am placing here today is "Time Waster" Apps-these are games I play in down time, like while waiting at the doctor's office or in the car when my husband is driving and my eyes are too tired to read. I actually have a segment on my phone labeled "Time Wasters" with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and some of the games listed below. Sometimes it helps to remind me that I will look up again in a few minutes and realize time has disappeared... Also, every so often I can find a fun game to try and it will be free, but as it gains in popularity prices appear/rise. Some below are still free, as well. So, I didn't pay the full price for all the games below, fyi. ;)


  1. Angry Birds-I have loved almost all versions of this game since it first came out. However, the one I play right now is seasons. I like to play the season we are in. I have played them all and achieved three stars on most on our ipad, but that was long before I got my iphone. Now I get to work on them on my phone. With multiple seasons for three different years, it feels like new. I wonder if they will update those this year... I don't care for the Star Wars or Space versions as well, but I don't have those on my phone right now.
  2. Another game/app I enjoy is Ski Safari. I played it quite a bit last year on the ipad, as well. Then, with winter approaching, I was in the mood to play this again and started on my phone. itunes has this to say about it: Ski Safari is where Animals, Avalanches and Action come together to create a new casual gameplay experience.

    Our deep sleeping hero has to stay ahead of a relentless avalanche that threatens the local mountainsides. Sven, as we like to call him, can use animals to aid his escape from an icey end. Each of the hillside animals have different attributes to make a speedier escape. Penguins glide further, Yetis are tougher, Eagles soar to great heights, each of these can provide useful advantage for Sven. Sometimes on the slopes Sven can find fast Snowmobiles which can ferry multiple animals a maintain a very high top speed.

    Staying ahead of the avalanche has its advantages and perks. Completing objectives can 'level up' Sven and increase his score multiplier. Riding animals, performing backflips add to the score and with an increased score multiplier Sven will rocketing up the highscore table with ease.
  3. I also play a variety of "with friends" games. They sync with Facebook and your opponents can be your facebook friends. I play Words Free/With Friends, which is like Scrabble, Scramble With Friends which is like Boggle, and Hanging Free which is like hangman. All are word games and I usually try to get to a game of each every other day or so since I'm playing against my friends. You can play them via facebook, too, I think.
  4. Tiny Wings is a fun game my girls and I enjoy every so often, too. Cute and simple. 
  5. I have other games that I don't play regularly, but every now and again I am inclined to try a game or two. These games include: Plants vs Zombies (I don't like zombies or the zombie craze that is popular right now, but this is a cute game involving some strategy, which a lot of the games I like to play do.) Bejeweled Blitz, which I can also play via Facebook with friends and family, Triple Town, Link That Gugl, Little Things which is a search and find game with great graphics, Search 60 which is also search and find but all in 60 seconds, Word Ladder and Cribbage Lite.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Social Media Monday

My husband, my youngest daughter and I all ran in our local high school's 5K run fundraiser this weekend. My husband and I were "just going to run for fun" but as the start approached I let on that I wanted to work at my PR (my personal record for this stage in my life... in college my fastest 5K/3.1 miles was 19:35. I haven't gotten anywhere close to that, but as I heal and get back into shape again, I get faster) which was 22:55. He pulled me along-even though he definitely could have taken off, left me and sprinted to his PR-and I finished in 21:53. I am sure the course was about .04 miles short, but I was happy with the work I put in. It was a good day! My post for the day:
Fun 5k, good finish time, 2nd place in my age group. Love running w husband & daughter & missed our other daughter. Raked some leaves, now watching my team's 2 games, one football and one basketball. Thankful for it all. #30daysofthankful

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Talk About Family Tuesday

My oldest daughter sent me a card this week from college. It was sweet and kind. It made my day. It was cute, too, because I had purchased the exact card to send her too. :) It has a bear hugging itself on the front and "Just sending you a little hug..." inside it says: "Did you feel it?" :) So thankful for my girls. :)

What I'm Reading Wednesday

It has been a very busy week. I will post about it next. However, I did finish the Christian Caregiving book I was reading. I didn't start anything new, but I continued on in my Mitford book.  An acquaintance of mine posted that she was starting the first Mitford book again, since she liked them so well. :) Was nice to see I'm not the only one who gets joy from the series. Looks like another busy week ahead, but hopefully some reading time will fit in!

Social Media Monday

Last week I had a lovely car ride with our high school daughter. We got to chatting about something silly, giggling and laughing. So much fun when you can share those moments, especially knowing they are few and far between as they age. I've also been working on #30daysofthankful posts, too. So, my Facebook post was:

I love those times when you get to laugh and giggle with your teen over something silly 

Recipes I Tried This Week

Today my husband and I tried two new recipes. The first I found on Pinterest and I made for breakfast before my husband and daughter woke up. It was easy and the muffins were light and fluffy. My husband said they were the best muffins he has ever had. He's been eating less bread and things that aren't as healthy for him and he had two. ;) They were great with my coffee. The link can be found here. And the recipe:
Orange Sour Cream Muffins with Zesty Orange Glaze

original recipe: http://damndelicious.tumblr.com/post/26330953745/muffin-monday-orange-sour-cream-muffins-with-zesty Yields 11 muffins
Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
For the Zesty Orange Glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the butter, sour cream, egg, orange juice and orange zest.
Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray.
Place into oven and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar as needed.
When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and dip the muffin crown into the glaze.
Allow glaze to set before serving.

The next recipe I made this evening for dinner. My inlaws were out of town last week and had left uncarved pumpkins on their porch. Fear of frost/rotting, I brought the pumpkins home, cut one up and baked it. Tonight I used some of that fresh pumpkin for this soup. Sounds strange, I know, even my daughter mentioned that, but we all LOVED it. My husband mentioned he might even have it for a warm morning breakfast tomorrow! I made a few slight changes: I substituted veg stock instead of chicken and added a smidge of white wine when I added the stock. I also didn't have any sage so I just added a pinch of dried thyme. The recipe can be found here

Fresh Pumpkin Soup by Kerry Simon

By MarraMamba on August 22, 2007
Photo
Photo by Mikekey
17 Reviews
  • timer
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Servings: 4

About This Recipe

"One of my favorite "star" chef's, this sounds divine. Found it on Food Network. Prep time does not include time to roast the pumpkin"

Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
    • 1 apple, peeled and diced
    • 2 cups fresh pumpkin ( roasted and diced, see note below)
    • 1 tablespoon sage leaf
    • 3 cups chicken stock
    • 1 cup cream
    • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a stockpot over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion, carrot, apple, roasted pumpkin, and sage until all are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Puree the mixture in a food mill; if you do not have a food mill, then puree in a food processor or blender. Return the puree to the stockpot, add the chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Then add the cream and simmer for 5 more minutes, lowering the heat if necessary so it does not boil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide soup among 4 soup bowls and serve immediately.
  5. COOKS NOTE: To roast pumpkin, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut whole pumpkin in half and then cut each half into several pieces. Discard seeds or reserve for another use. Place pumpkin on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until tender but not falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool, peel away skin, and dice.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday-Books Not Recipes!

I haven't tried any new recipes this week since my husband was out of town, we had activities in the evenings and my vegetarian daughter didn't want dinners that required thinking outside the box. :) However, I did notice on my Goodreads account that I made my 2013 reading goal already. It passed without me even noticing. I set my goal at 20 books, thinking that I should not be overzealous and try for two books per month since I would be busy teaching. Here I am with 8 weeks left in the year (only 8 weeks?!) and I have already made my goal! I have amended it and will try for at least 4 more, but as my lack of progression as of late has shown me, one never knows! I have listed my 20 books that helped me to make my goal below. You will see, that out of 20 books, 13 were mysteries this year-65%! I do like mysteries, but this has been unusual, I think! I was correct in calling it my "year of mystery books"!

  1. Gingerbread Bump-Off by Livia J Washington
  2. Eggs Benedict Arnold by Laura Childs
  3. Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly (I liked this book, but I think she started an apple series that has taken over-her first one of those One Bad Apple is sitting on my desk in my "to read" pile!)
  4. Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs
  5. Stake and Eggs by Laura Childs
  6. All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg
  7. The Woods by Harlan Coben
  8. Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely
  9. Murder on the Bride's Side by Tracy Kiely
  10. Later at the Bar by Rebecca Barry
  11. Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely
  12. Murder Most Austen by Tracy Kiely
  13. (re-read) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  14. Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
  15. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is also sitting on my desk in my "to read" pile!)
  16. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  17. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  18. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  19. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
  20. Art of Being a Healing Presence... by James E Miller

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Thursday's Helpful Apps

This week's apps are Reading and Reference apps. I just have a few, but I do use them.

  • First, my Bible App. It is the You Version app. You can read certain passages, look up verses, highlight/flag your favorites and save passages you want to come back to. itunes says this: On more than 100 million devices all over the world, people are reading, listening to, and sharing the Bible using the #1 rated Bible App—completely free. Hundreds of Bible versions, hundreds of reading plans, dozens of languages. Add your own highlights, bookmarks, and public or private notes. Customize your experience for easy reading. Access everything when you’re connected, or download specific versions for offline use. And many other things!
  • Second, I use the Dictionary app from Dictionary.com. Here's what itunes says:  Top-rated app with trusted reference content from Dictionary.com & Thesaurus.com. WORKS OFFLINE - no Internet connection needed when searching words. 

    Features:

    • English Dictionary and Thesaurus - over 2,000,000 definitions, synonyms & antonyms
    • Offline access – no Internet connection needed for most content
    • Daily content, including Word of the Day, slideshows & the blog 
    • Audio pronunciations 
    • Example sentences 
    • Word origin & history
    • Voice search (five free searches included) 
    • Medical Dictionary with over 35,000 medical words & definitions available as a premium upgrade
    • Science Dictionary with over 23,000 science definitions & illustrations available as a premium upgrade
    • Translator with over 30 languages, perfect for ESL and reliable translations into English
    • Modern, up-to-date English definitions & content
    • Customizable font sizes for better readability
    • Favorite words 
    • Search history
    • Spelling suggestions
    • Popular & local trending searches
  • I have the ibooks app, too, although I don't use it very often. It can be used like any other ereader, purchasing books and then reading them on your device. At least thus far, I enjoy the traditional, paper form of books. The itunes description states this: iBooks is an amazing way to download and read books. iBooks includes the iBooks Store, where you can download the latest bestselling books or your favorite classics – day or night. Browse your library on a beautiful bookshelf, tap a book to open it, flip through pages with a swipe or a tap, and bookmark or add notes to your favorite passages.

    Download books
    • Download best-sellers and classic books from the iBooks Store
    • Find fully illustrated books, including children's picture books, designed art books, photo books, cook books, and more in the iBooks Store
    • Experience gorgeous fullscreen Multi-Touch books designed for iPad. These books are filled with interactive features, diagrams, photos, videos, and more
    • Read a free sample of any book on the iBooks Store before making it a part of your permanent collection
  • Last, I have the app called Newstand. It came on my phone and can be used to read magazines or newspapers. I don't use that too often, but like that I can. I would really like it if I traveled, I think. 
Do you have any apps that you would recommend, Reader? 

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Here I am, again, with slow but steady progress on the books I listed two weeks ago. I have been reading a little more the last few nights as my husband was gone on business and I enjoyed the thoughts of Father Tim in Mitford caring for his church and town flock as I went to sleep. I would turn the tv on and set the sleep timer, but that didn't serve my brain as well as the happy thoughts. If you haven't read the Mitford series, I do recommend it. I also am still reading my devotional. I had missed a few days but have changed my routine up a bit as of late. My sister in law has started a new job and my brother in law takes their oldest two kids to middle school. Then they needed someone to get the younger two around for school and get them onto their bus. It's only about an hour and a half job, nothing major, but when I get there I have about twenty minutes of quiet before they get up. I'm in their house so I can't be distracted by the things at our own house that need tending, so I have been bringing my Bible and devotional book. Such a nice start to each day this week. I felt my soul sigh in enjoyment today. :) What are you reading, Reader?

Talk About Family Tuesday

My parents came to visit this past weekend and we truly had a very nice time. It went too fast, though, with my mother receiving a phone call that her mother had been taken to the hospital. They left early, of course. Her mom, my Gram has been on my mind since. She's a great lady. She is small, only 4'10" with very white hair. In my youth, she was my spunky caregiver during the days while my parents were at work, in the summer. When Mom would take me to Gram's house, her house smelled like coffee, and the radio was on-talk radio. {It's funny, as I typed that I realized that is how I start my day thirty years later...} She was either making oatmeal or toast with peanut butter or powdered sugar on it. She had two spare bedrooms. One had a bed and it was where we spent "afternoon rest time", read and played sometimes. The other spare room was a corner room with windows that let in wonderful light. She had a plant stand in front of one where she kept all her houseplants. She even had cactus that she trimmed. She had an old typewriter in there and a place to sit and type whatever you wanted. I loved that thing. LOVED it. I felt so grown up using it. :) Many days she made us fish sticks and macaroni and cheese for lunch. Gram and Gramp, Mom's dad, were always busy. They took us to garage sales, or the grocery or to visit family. They were retired, even though my Gramp did odd jobs at a local lawyer's office. They took good care of us. Once my grandfather grew purple grapes in their backyard. They turned them into a delicious grape juice and jam.
More recently, in the last ten years, we would have Gram, who never learned to drive, come stay with us for a week at a time, a few different times per year. We would always take a day trip to the local metro gardens and take lots of pictures. It was nice having her at my house, spending time with my children. She didn't mind our dogs, either, and enjoyed walking the girls to school, too. As she got older it seemed to tire her out, but she enjoyed it and had a good afternoon nap. :) Then she had a stroke a few years back and couldn't come visit. Now she gets so confused when we visit her. She can't remember family member's names. She still seems happy to see my family and I when we visit, but, boy is it hard. She was living at a home that had been made into a care facility, but this week they found that she may have been over medicated and my family decided to move her somewhere with more, round the clock care. It is sad and difficult to see our dearest family get older. Even harder still for those who live close and take part in caring for and making decisions for those loved ones. I'm a few hours away, which has its drawbacks, too. My grandfather passed away about 15 years ago, and I know she misses him.

Social Media Monday

Last November, I read about Cathy Zielske's 30 Days of Thankful, and I am trying to remember to do this each year, as well. I just tweet when I think of it: #30DaysofThankful. Here is one from this week: Day 4: So grateful for our warm home, inside and out, and neighborhood full of wonderful neighbors!  I like taking a moment to think about all the things I can be grateful for. It's not too late to join, Reader, and make a conscious effort to look around at all you can be thankful for... Even do a blog post each day, or one here to catch up. I'm thankful for readers of my blog: Thank you!

Recipes I have tried

My parents visited last weekend and we had a wonderful time! My husband smoked some pork in our meat smoker, and it was delicious. He made twice baked potatoes, I roasted broccoli and cauliflower, I baked apples and he made bread. For dessert I made the recipe below and it was delicious! There was a little seizing in the pan for the caramel sauce, but constant stirring eased it. It was wonderful, in fact, my husband said it was the best cheesecake he has ever eaten!! That is high praise! Enjoy!

NEW YORK CHEESECAKE WITH GRAHAM / PRETZEL CRUST & SALTED CARAMEL SOUR CREAM (from the Kitchy Kitchen Blog-YUM!)

New York Cheesecake with Pretzel / Graham Crust and Salted Caramel Sour Cream On Top

Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup pretzel crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter

Filling:

1 1/2 pounds soft cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:

3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce

To make crumbs, just pulse some pretzels in the food processor until fine.  Remove, and pulse the graham crackers. Combine crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, and butter in the food processor until one event texture; press on bottom and sides to 8-inch spring form pan. In a standing mixer with paddle attachment, whip cheese until fluffy; beat in sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. stir in heavy cream. If at all lumpy, strain through sieve.  Pour into the pan. bake at 325F for 1 hour. turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven 1 hour. Remove from oven and let it cool gradually to room temperature, chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, combine salted caramel sauce and sour cream, and spread on top of cheesecake.  Garnish with pretzels.

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
Makes 2 cups

1 cup white sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

For the caramel sauce, heat the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar turns golden.  Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved and just starting to turn a lovely amber color.  

Turn heat to low, add the butter, and stir to combine.  Careful, it'll foam up. Then add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt stirring to combine.  You'll cook the sauce for about 5-10 minutes, until it comes together. It’ll take quite a bit of stirring!

Pour the caramel into a glass jar, let it come to room temperature, and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.  Pour over everything and anything!


Last Thursday's Helpful Apps

I got behind, sorry! Catching up! Today's Helpful Apps Category is Miscellaneous. This is a jumble of different types of apps I like. Next week will be Time Wasters, I mean games, that I enjoy when I have a few minutes to kill. However, since we have covered organization, health and fitness, listening, photography, social interaction, and the basics, I have some apps that just don't fit into another category. Enjoy!

https://itunes.apple.com/CA/app/id300048137
  • One thing I used quite regularly was the flashlight app, but, as you know, I updated the iOS to 7 and it now comes with a flashlight app so I deleted the old one. I love that I can click it on quickly as I am trying to get the dogs to come back in the house after I have let them out. ;)
  • I mentioned in my last post that I use an app called Vivino for cataloging wines. I have used it about ten times, so I'm not totally into a great habit with it, and, for that matter, I'm not always trying new wines. I do use it to keep track and I like the ease with which I can use it.  Here is the itunes description, and the app is free! • Take a photo and get to know any wine in seconds.
    • Remember wines and explore more of them
    • Get personalized wine recommendations
    • Share experiences and be inspired by friends.
    • Find the best rated wines in nearby shops.

    Vivino simplifies your path to enjoying great wines.
    The app helps you remember your favorites, know more about wine, and which one to choose for next occasion. Snap a photo of any wine, and while you have a sip we automatically recognize it from our database of more than 1,000,000 wines. If the app doesn’t match it immediately, our team will do it for you as quickly as we can.

    Discover all you want to know about wines, explore friend’s ratings and get personal recommendations based on your taste, simply browse wines in nearby stores or locate the ones on your Vivino Wish List.

    Best of all: It’s free!
  • I use the Starbucks app, too. I, at most, am drinking Starbucks every other day. Usually less, these days, since I'm not working. I don't mind coffee at home, but I do love the ease of this app. Here is some information posted on itunes about the Starbucks app, which you can also get via the Starbucks site itself. The official iPhone application from Starbucks! In addition to paying from Starbucks for iPhone, you can now add a Starbucks Card to Passbook. It’s the fastest way to pay at Starbucks – just scan and go!

    With Starbucks for iPhone, you can manage your Starbucks Card balance, reload your card, track your Stars in the My Starbucks Rewards program and send an eGift to a friend. And there’s more!

    Our easy-to-navigate store locator points you to the closest store and lets you search by amenities. You can also explore our whole bean coffees, find nutrition information and build your own perfect drink. And if you feel like being social, you can share your location or favorite drinks through Facebook and Twitter.
  • I use the app for my bank, too. I won't share which one I use here, but I do like that I can deposit small checks without having to leave my house. I like that I can check my balances in the palm of my hand, too. I checked most local banks and they all have a safe, secure app for your account.
  • I have a few weather apps. I cannot ever decide which one I like better. I like them each for different reasons. While searching for information for this bullet point, I came across this article: Comparing iphone Weather Apps at a Glance. First, in my apps, the "weather" that came with the phone. I can't delete it and it gives me a nice, quick peek at the current conditions pretty well. I have found that I like the radar view the best via The Weather Channel (or TWC) app. Then, if I feel like one more point of view, I use Accuweather. Each itunes link has more information about each one, and these are just blurbs for information. They often have other types of apps for other types of devices. I just used itunes because that is what I know.
That's all for today! Hope these help!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

What am I reading today? The same things I was reading last week at this time! :) I haven't sat down to read much so far this week. I have been pretty busy! I have been:

  • emptying and cleaning out our laundry room, cupboards and all for starters. 
  • I also emptied and cleaned our closet-my husband and I share a closet. It isn't huge, I could stand in it and touch the front and back at the same time, and the length is not much bigger. However, we are just fine with it. It has a few drawers for husband's folded clothes and a few cubbies for things like luggage and sleeping bags. I got rid of a trash bag of clothes/bags I don't use and husband got rid of a bag of clothes, as well; things we just don't wear because of the style or fit.
  • Also, we worked on our "junk drawer" in the kitchen, the catch all for miscellaneous stuff-we didn't get rid of the drawer altogether, but it is much emptier. :) 
  • I emptied out our front coat/shoe closet, too! We needed to sort out and put away summer shoes, get out boots (I certainly hope we don't need snow boots soon, but it was time to get them out...) I vacuumed the carpet in it since shoe dirt falls there, and organized the shoes as I put them back into the closet. 
So, three big tasks and one small task down. They were tasks I thought wouldn't take too long, but each took longer than expected. All three made me sigh in relief when they were done, and glad I had completed the tasks. We also carved our pumpkins, and I got to go get new running shoes! So, it has been a busy, productive week, thus far. Tomorrow I am planning on getting out my children's books and sorting through my "future classroom" items. I am planning on attempting to put favorite books on either Book Retriever or Book Crawler so I know what I have. I have so many children's books-so many tubs full! I would love to have them sorted and out on bookshelves. Someday I will have a wonderful "Grandma" library at my house that my grandchildren will love to come read/be read to in. :) At least that's my dream someday. :)
I did do some reading yesterday, I almost forgot! I kept a kindergarten age little girl for a neighbor and we headed to the bookstore to pick a few books, read and enjoy. I read to her and loved it. :) We read:

  • The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. It was the first time I had read it and it was a cute book-would be great to introduce children to, or refresh minds about, writing letters. 
  • Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson was a good book to read with someone. I don't foresee it being a good read-aloud classroom book, but it was very cute, also, showing changes in seasons and trees through the seasons. It was also the first time I had read this and I found it sweet and simple.
  • Last I read A Turkey For Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting. We have it here at home and I didn't care for the selection of Halloween stories/Fall stories, so we jumped ahead to this cute story about Mr. and Mrs. Moose wanting a turkey for Thanksgiving. Also a heart-warming story. What I really wanted to read was Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, but they didn't have it. Sadly, I don't have it either, I lent it to a fellow teacher while I was subbing and they kept forgetting it. I never got it back. I will have to re-order it so I have it for my collection.
It has been a fun, busy week! :) I hope yours has been too, Reader!