Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Goals {and a look back at 2012}

A new year always brings feelings of a time for a fresh start. A renewed energy to organize my life and get back on track with some things I want to accomplish for the year.

  1. Purge my cupboards and freezer. Yes, my name is Mollie and I am still a food hoarder. I think the amount of food that spilled over to my hallway closet has grown, not depleted. I can say though, that I've freed up more space in my freezer. I'll keep working in this throughout the year.
  2. Along the lines of food and groceries, I want to start tracking my spending in that area again. Overall, I really spend a small amount on food. I used to religiously track my spending. I would save all my receipts and track all spending by category in an Excel spreadsheet. I quit doing that about a year and a half ago. Not really sure why I did but I wanna start tracking again just to see where we're at with grocery spending per month.
  3. Learn to knit. For awhile I stalked the Michael's ads watching for yarn and needle sales. They came and went and I just never actually bought the supplies. I looked at them but never pulled the trigger to learn. This is the year! And hey- maybe I'll even make something worthwhile and usable.
  4. Plan weekly meals. I didn't do very well with this in 2012. I want to try again. I know how and watch the weekly grocery ads anyway so I need to get commit to starting this up again.
  5. Take another photography class or Photoshop class. I took a photography class at DMACC in October 2011. I want to keep learning more and expanding my knowledge! And I've had the Photoshop Elements software for going on two years now and haven't learned too much yet. Reading and taking some online tutorials could also fulfill this goal if need be.
  6. Not use my credit card in 2013. I'm sure there will be events and times I'll have to use it, but I really want to cut back and only use when necessary.
  7. Ramp up the blog and make the look more appealing. I want to add a custom header and make the site prettier :)
  8. Make homemade nut butter.
  9. Make homemade bread. Yep, gonna try again this year ;)
  10. Help organize an Iowa bloggers event. Something simple but fun! Who's in?!?
I could go on and on but I think I'll keep it at ten for the year!

I also made some goals last year. I did pretty well overall. A few things didn't get done but there's always 2013 :)

A Recap of 2012 Goals:
  1. Make homemade bread. I love homemade bread! Especially when it's really seedy and nutty! The more grains and seeds the better! Yep, big fail with this one! Next year...? ;)
  2. Cook fish at least a couple times per month. I love most any fish, especially tilaplia and salmon. It just is not something I regularly buy. I plan to make an effort to incorporate this into our meal plans more, though. It may not have been a steady couple times per month, but I definitely ate more fish this year! I picked up fresh salmon from Whole Foods and Costco!
  3. Not hoard my food supplies. Yes, I am guilty of being a food hoarder as my best friend, Kristyn and boyfriend, Tim, call me. I just love a good sale! But using up those supplies makes me nervous! I dont wanna run out!! lol So I need make sure to use up my good buys before they expire! Ummmm, yeah, gonna keep trying on this one!
  4. Save more moola! I don't have an exact amount yet but I wanna have a bigger stash sitting in the bank than I did this year when December 2012 rolls around. Once Kaydin got into kindergarten and her daycare bill drastically decreased, I was able to save much more! Here's to keeping up and growing that trend!
  5. Make sure Tim and I get more alone time. Fitting that in can be hard sometimes and we need to make sure we find more time to have fun and get out and do things just us. I'm gonna throw a hope of once per month out there! That shouldn't be too hard to hit! I think we did well with this until fall. Then things kept coming at us like crazy. But we do have the last few days of 2012 alone together!
  6. Along the same lines, keep up my relationships with my friends. Gotta love girl time! I think we did pretty well with this one! I can always take more girl time in my life but the time we did spend was great!
  7. Read more books. I would like to log 6 books read this year. Yes, kinda low, but it's hard for me to find time to read in the busy daily schedule. Well, I did not read 6 books but I am constantly reading. Whether it's food or health blogs or research articles on the food industry and health and I reading all day everyday. So I'm gonna say I acheived this one! :)
  8. Work out at least 5 times per week. I have a gym at my job. And bonus we are encouraged to use it during the workday if need be. So this means I can work out at before my scheduled clock-out time of 4:30 and be home even sooner! I do still have my Gold's Gym membership so I try to hit there a couple times a week, too. I got a great deal of $20 per month so might as well keep using it. Plus I can take Kaydin there with me to play in the kids area so then I can squeeze in work outs on weekends, too. Held to this one really well too! Having that gym at work makes it pretty easy!
  9. A few specifics on the healthy food front would be to include more:  Check! Incorporated these lots! The flax and chia seeds into yogurt and I made chia water a ton during the day at the office. Quinoa and couscous is a ridicously easy and healthy side dish.
    • chia seeds
    • flax
    • fish
    • quinoa
    • couscous
  10. Post photos at least 5 days per week to the blog. Well, some weeks were better than others but I think I kept a good pace!
  11. Make homemade hummus. With dried chickpeas and even tahini. Yeah, this didn't happen. But-- I did make homemade almond milk so that counts in my book! Recipe/tutorial coming soon!
  12. Be more intentional with my meal planning. I usually do well with this through March and then it all goes downhill. We eat healthy but I would like to have more of a plan laid out. Big fail!
  13. Of course make sure these meals are healthy and include lots of good for you ingredients, aka natural and lacking in the chemicals. Big win on this one! I've learned alot this year. Even more than what was already natural for us. I read up and watched many documentaries showing what our food industry has really turned into. It's sad and disgusting but something that just cannot be ignored just because we don't want to do a little digging. I encourage everyone this year to brush up and know those food labels and what to look out for. Once you have the knowledge it's really not that hard. Remember, no GMO's (Those are most commonly corn, soy, and sugar beets. And corn is in everything! Watch carefully), no enriched grains (it's basically sugar in our bodies and has no nutrients), no hydrogenated oils, no artificial sweeteners (say no to labels that state corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. Highly, highly processed and fake. Check out your condiment bottles. Now pitch em and only buy ones that have natural ingredients.).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shrimp and Crab Cream Cheese Dip

I have the perfect appetizer for you to throw together for your New Year's party! Minimal ingredient list and all it takes is a little layering. I brought this to Tim's family Christmas this year.

This year for New Year's Eve Tim and I are laying pretty low and heading out for dinner and then probably finishing the night at home watching the ball drop on TV. It won't be as exciting last year when we were in the middle of Times Square but at least we'll be together :)

Shrimp and Crab Cream Cheese Dip
2 8oz packages 1/3 fat cream cheese
1/2 cup all natural seafood cocktail sauce
1 can mini shrimp
1 can shredded crab meat
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Ritz crackers for dipping
Layer everything on a dinner plate. Start with cream cheese, then spread on cocktail sauce. Next, add the shrimp and crab then finish with sprinkling the cheese. Serve with Ritz or any type cracker you desire.
(Sorry for the lackluster pics. I only had my phone on hand.)
Happy New Year! Be safe! :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Happenings 2012

Another Christmas is over and now I'm looking forward to the new year and also SPRING! Yep, we got that white Christmas and now that fluffy white stuff can go away.  Not sure I'm going to get my way, though, since I woke up to two more inches of it falling this morning. 

This week I've worked a couple days, cleaned up some Christmas stuff, and am focusing on getting ready for Kaydin's birthday. After everyone else is finished wrapping, I keep on going to get her birthday presents wrapped since it falls 10 days after Christmas. Her birthday landing where it did makes this time of year even more hectic and extended in our household. It's fun, though, and is just part of the celebrating season.

Now let's backtrack a little as I recap our Christmas!  It started with an extended Christmas break for both Kaydin Baby and I. Because of the holiday storm last week, Kaydin's school was cancelled Thursday and Friday. My office ended up closing both days, too, because of a power outage. Power was finally restored late Friday afternoon. Thursday we lounged and had a fun snow day. Friday we didn't get to be so lucky and play the day away. I had errands to run and now I had a little tag-along!  Friday and Saturday were spent running those errands and watching lots of movies.

Sunday morning we trekked to Camp Dodge to hit up some of the best sledding hills in the city! Kaydin struggled up those hills many times but the trip down made it worth it!

That evening we headed to Jolly Holiday Lights and to visit Santa, an annual tradition we started a few years ago. We usually eat Chinese food before visiting the lights but we got the Chinese in earlier in the week. We planned on visiting the lights on Wednesday night but the snow had different plans. We got our Chinese that night but had to postpone our lights and Santa trip. At least now we got to see the display with snow on the ground this year! We've never gone on a weekend before and now I remember why! We had to wait in quite the line.

(Source) The light display is located in Des Moines' Water Works Park and all the proceeds go to the Make a Wish Foundation. This year Kaydin was really interested in reading all the posters showing kids and how they chose to fulfill their wish. I think she understood pretty well that the lights and our donation went to a really great cause and helped kids achieve their dreams. It was great to see her interested in the charity and take it to heart. It was still on her mind because the next day in Hy-Vee after we grabbed a few groceries, she let me know she knew exactly where our money was going, to the sick kids that needed it for their wishes! Hy-Vee is a sponsor and has a few light displays throughout the park so I think that's how she made the connection. Oh, Kaydin Baby, if only it was always like that!

Once we were about halfway through the display, she asked to hop in the driver's seat. Of course, Tim didn't decline so she navigated us through the path and we only almost ended up in the snow a few times. She needs to work on those subtle steering wheel turns instead of cranking it!

After she safely guided us to a parking spot at the Wish Store, we shuffled inside to see Santa.
She let him know she has been a good girl this year and that she was hoping for a blue furby.

Monday, Christmas Eve, Tim had to work in the morning so Kaydin and I had a slow paced morning of watching Christmas movies and wrapping a few presents. The day passed quickly and we were soon posing for a few pictures before we hurried out the door to get to Tim's brother's house for the Quick family Christmas.

Kaydin couldn't wait to get back home because we planned to open all our gifts to each other that night since we were headed to my parent's house in the morning. It was so fun to watch her open her presents this year because she was so excited and grateful for each gift she opened. All the surprised and happy faces she made were priceless!

 Ciara and Squeaky got to join in the family time too!

Christmas morning Kaydin was in our bedroom bright and early to wake us up to see it Santa came. He did and she got her wish of a blue furby! I'm not sure Santa made that great of a decision, though, because that thing is noisy! Constantly jabbering! So far that little furby has been a girl named Jessie, a boy named Louie, and a boy named Teddy. We'll see what it really ends up to be ;)

We traveled up to Mom and Dad's later Christmas morning for round two of gift opening and lunch with my family and uncle's family. I didn't snap too many pictures while there but it was a great day with lots of relaxing.
I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! I'm looking forward to the new year and fresh start!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Day!

It's a snow day for us in Central Iowa! Yay for a white Christmas!!

It started raining yesterday around 4:00pm and by the time we got home after picking Kaydin up from school it was snowing pretty hard. With it being the first significant snowfall of the year Kaydin couldn't wait to get out in it. She bundled herself up and headed outside!

It only picked up and snowed harder as the night went on. I figured school would be cancelled for the next day but we didn't get official word until about 10:00pm. When her school closes the daycare also closes so a snow day for her meant a snow day for me! Tim was still determined to make it to work, though, as he was supposed to have a board meeting.

I was woken at 4am by Tim doing some researching on the news websites and telling me it really came down and he may not make it work work after all. A while later I got the text alert that my office would be closed for the day. Tim also read that DART, the metro bus system, was closing down for the day. This was only the 3rd time that's happened in 20 years!

Once daylight hit and Kaydin woke up we decided it was time to head outside and do some shoveling in the driveway and see if Tim really could make it to the office today. While shoveling we at least got word that he didn't have to travel and could join by phone later in the day. 

Between shoveling breaks I set out around the house to get some pictures while the snow was still pretty.



It's always fun when we finally get some snow to hook the dogs up to the sled and have them pull Kaydin behind. Today they were just too excited for all the snow and to be able to run around that we didn't keep em hooked up too long. We set them free so they could explore. 

After I finally got Squeaky into the house, I joined Tim and Kaydin inside and had a good breakfast of vanilla cinnamon French toast and some over easy eggs. I need to have Tim make my eggs every time because they were perfect! The yolk wasn't too runny but perfectly creamy!

After we cleaned up our breakfast dishes we retreated to the bedroom and have been doing this....
Perfect day to lounge, edit pictures and just spend time together! We got fairly lucky and at least have power (unlike others around the city) but we have been without water for the day. Good thing for a reverse osmosis tank for at least a little reserve, I hope everyone else is enjoying today, too, whether you are survivng the snowstorm or passing your day at work or school! :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Yay! We're finally supposed to have a snowfall! And just in time for Christmas!
Last year we didn't have a white Christmas in Iowa and let's just say I was a little disappointed. Now, do not confuse my hope for a white Christmas with a fondness for snow. I really don't like that cold white stuff but having lived in Iowa my whole life, snow is just part of winter and Christmas. Snow just helps with the whole nostalgia of the season

I actually threw together this soup right after Thanksgiving using our leftover smoked turkey, carrots, and celery. It also is a perfect warm comforting meal for hunkering down in your warm living room while hiding from the blizzard-like winds we may be seeing later tonight.

I took a shortcut and actually used some cream of chicken soup for a creamier effect.

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

1-1 1/2 cups turkey meat
1 cup rice medley (I get a bag from World Market that's good but any rice will do)
1/2 cup wild rice
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 can cream of celery soup
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
Any additional herbs you'd like
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add rice and let cook for 15 minutes. Add carrots, celery, turkey and herbs. Let cook another 20 minutes or so until rice is tender and cooked through. Add soup and let simmer for a few minutes until heated through.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Liebster Award

I was recently nominated for a Liebster award by Meghan from After the Ivy League. Here's how it works...

Write 11 random facts about yourself
Answer the 11 questions given by the person who nominated you
Create 11 new questions
Nominate 11 bloggers and mention them in your post
Thank the person that nominated you and tell the people you’ve nominated

Random Facts About Me

1. I actually don't mind folding laundry. Even socks. When I still lived at home Mom passed those on to me.

2. I love having my nails painted and how nice they look when they are but I'm usually just too lazy to do it myself-- and too cheap to pay to have someone else to do. Hence, why my nails are usually bare.

3. I'm not a fan of sauerkraut. Although my mom and dad made some a batch of homemade two summers ago and it was pretty good!

4. I fill 3-4 water bottles at once to sit at my desk. I think this helps me drink it faster and I always have a supply.

5. I'm double jointed in my fingers. I can bend my thumb back and it almost touches my wrist. I also can't hold my fingers out straight. They curve up!

6. My favorite Chrismas movie is Elf. But who's isn't?!? :) I also really like This Christmas. That's one of my favorite Christmas songs, too.

7. I am a sucker for gooey, caramely, nutty brownies!

8. If I didn't have Kaydin I would love to live in NYC or Chicago. LOVE both those cities!

9. The ONLY place I want to travel for my honeymoon is Fiji or Tahiti. Tim knows this and hopefully we can make it happen one day! :)  That's also the only reason I want to travel to one of those islands. He mentioned going there with friends for a vacation once and I said no. I'm not going there unless it's for my honeymoon!

10. I boycotted going out to a bar on New Year's Eve a few years ago. I refuse to do it again. Too many people, too much hype. I have much more fun just staying in or going to a restaurant earlier in the evening. Ironically, Tim and I spent New Year's last year in Times Square! It was my favorite New Year's to date, though, by far! We almost went again this year too! Dang it Iowa State for not going back to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. They were projected to go there again for a short time a few weeks ago before the regular season was over and Tim and I agreed that if they were invited to that bowl game, we'd go again too! Oh well, someday we definitely will be in Times Square over New Year's again!

11. I work at Des Moines University, the graduate medical school in Des Moines. I work in the Office and Research and really enjoy it. I do lots of different tasks to keep the office running daily as well as writing articles for the publications around campus and the website. I'm also a writer for the University's blog.

Meghan's questions

1. What was your favorite subject in school?
Major nerd here but I didn't mind any. I really liked my business and accounting classes, I liked English, and even history. I really liked anatomy and physiology, too. My least favorite though was definitely math. Wasn't too good at that!

2. What would your dream job be?
Complete dream job would be to travel and try all the local food and have a show about it. How sweet would that be?!? A few friends of mine have said we would be the perfect candidates for this job! Like Samantha Brown but a much cooler and more fun group of girls!

More realistically, I want to partner with schools and consult with them to come in and educate students on healthy living. I have so many ideas in my head. Things like incentive programs for making healthy choices, seminars for families, taste-testing with kids to try and learn about new foods. Also education on the food system and GMO's/organics/natural products is important to me. It's important to be informed in this area because the food industry has changed so drastically and people just don't know and understand it. Industry is so backwards and corrupt I wish everyone knew more, including me! Ok...stepping off the soapbox now ;)

3. Is there a time in your life you wish you could go back to?
Oh gosh, many! My brother and I had so much fun keeping ourselves entertained out in the country. And growing up we didn't have a lot of money, we didn't do fancy, extravagant things but I do always remember being together. Where my parents were, we were. Always doing stuff together whether it was grocery shopping, watching our favorite reality TV shows in the evening, walking the yard and picking up apples or doing cartwheels, "helping" Dad in the shop, eating dinner. I like that memory and I hope Kaydin remembers that from her childhood, too.

I had Kaydin when I was 21 so I had a very short time in the real world only having to worry about getting to work on time in the morning and paying rent. I was thrown into lots of responsibility early in life. I certainly wouldn't change that but I would like to have had more time with friends at that stage of life. It would also have been nice to have a longer amount of time to only have to spend money on myself. Buying diapers and daycare just isn't that fun ;)

I remember thinking when Kaydin was a tiny baby that I couldn't wait for her to walk, then I couldn't wait for her to talk more, then I couldn't wait to her to start reading and writing, then start kindergarten. Well, let me tell you time has gone wayyy too fast and I just wanna cuddle my tiny baby again. I want to watch her move from crawling to walking. I want to to be that cute chubby toddler that was always so happy and curious. Soon she's gonna be moving out of my house and I'll be as emotional as my parents were that day.  At least I have those precious memories to always hold on to.

4. Where’s your favorite place to shop?
I'll have to make a list. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Target clearance racks, Old Navy clearance racks, TJ Maxx and Marshall's. World Market is always fun to stroll around. Forever 21 is fun for hair accessories, jewelry, and leggings.  I'm totally a bargain shopper and refuse to spend much money on wardrobe. Kaydin and I both have beyond stuffed closets. But really, that amount I spend on it all is minimal. My motto is spend less on each item to have a bigger total quantity! Come shopping with me, you'll bring home lots but spend pennies in comparison! :)

5. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
On weekends I love to mix some productivity with being lazy and relaxing. I like to shop a little on Saturdays and then have time in the afternoon to just sit and watch TV, clean a little. Then Saturday night I like to cook a meal with Tim and relax at home with him and Kaydin. Date nights with him are always fun, too. They just don't happen as often as they should. Sundays are usually all about picking up, getting ready for the week and trying to remember to get some time in of doing nothing.

6. Name three favorite foods.
Oh my! Just three?!?! That's hard! Have you noticed a theme? I just can't pick favorites! I was like that as a kid. My whole life I've never had a favorite color. Sure, there's ones I favor, but no one that is my favorite.  Ok, anyway...well, it used to be pickles. Now, it's.....ummmm....yeah, too hard to choose. I love bread and dipping oil, salmon, Greek salads, tacos, black olives, pomegranate seeds, yogurt, feta cheese, warm chocolate chip cookies, cookie butter, I could go on and on!

7. What was your first job?
I was a telemarketer in high school selling cable and internet packages for different companies. I remember my first few days of the job I would go home at night stressed and wanting to never go back. I even had nightmares. But I pushed through and learned to not let the mean people get to you. I really learned to appreciate the people that have to make phone calls to people's houses. Yes, it's annoying when people would call during dinner, but we didn't have cameras in your house to know that! And it's not like I enjoyed bothering people. I needed money, I needed to work. I didn't want to keep asking you if you wanted to buy, I had to. That was part of the job and we were secretly monitored sometimes. I needed to ask those rebuttal questions to follow the training and keep my job.
So...the next time you get a call like that remember it's an actual human being on the other line that is working that job to probably feed their kids or themselves. Now of course I didn't have to have that job to feed myself back when I was living in my parent's house, but it was good spending money and I wasn't flipping greasy burgers :) I had to keep gas in my car somehow!

8. How many different places have you lived?
Hmmm, well lots. There is the house I was born in in Palmer, IA. Then there was the nice brick house outside Storm Lake, IA. Then there was the house with the long laneway outside Alta where I went to elementary school until 3rd grade. Then we moved outside Aurelia where I graduated from. (All these are pretty small towns) I lived in a few farm houses north of town in Aurelia. The first time I lived in a town setting was when I moved to college in Des Moines. I lived in two different on-campus apartments (Thank goodness my campus didn't have dorm room, only apartment style housing!). I moved into a house on the southside of Des Moines with two friends for a year. Then my friend Kristyn and I moved into an apartment. She stuck by my side even though I was pregnant. She helped me with my newborn and I am forever grateful she took that on.
She then moved across the hall to another apartment and it was just me and Kaydin for a short time. Josh and his friend moved to Des Moines so we got a house that I lived in for awhile until they moved out and I couldn't afford the big house by myself anymore and then that landed me in my West Des Moines apartment where Kaydin has gone from a baby to toddler to little school girl. We've been there for over four years and also spend alot of time at Tim's house in West Des Moines that last 2 1/2 years. Whew! Did lots of moving there for awhile!

9. Who is your role model?
Well, my parents for giving me such a family-oriented upbringing. Things weren't always perfect but I think I had a great childhood. I still say the day I left for college was one of the worst days of my life.


10. Why do you blog?
I started cuz a group of friends all started writing to keep up with what was going on in each other's lives. I think I'm still the only one who writes. I went on a big vacation and wrote about that and then just kept on going. I use it as my online journal. Helps me remember and document fun days in our lives and also remember what we eat! I can never seem to recall our meals on my own. And also helps me keep in touch with family and keeps them updated on our lives. It's fun!

11. What are you looking forward to right now?
In the very near future- I am looking forward to going home to my parent's house for the weekend to do some Christmas baking with my family and see their new kitchen!

In the not as near future- I am excited to have a wedding and more kids! :)

And now my questions!
1. What is your day job?
2. When you were a kid, what did you want to me when you grew up?
3. What's your favorite place you've visited?
4.  What's the farthest place you traveled?
5. What's your favorite restaurant and what do you order there?
6. What is your dream job?
7. What's your favorite TV show?
8. What kind of music do you like?
9. How long have you been blogging and why do you do it?
10. Do you have siblings?
11. What's a Christmas tradition in your family?

And I'm nominating these blog writers:
Shaunna at Mama's 13 Minute Mile
Kristin at Single Mama Life
Calee at Life + Running
Emily at Fit & Free with Emily
Kelly at No Sugar Sweet Life
Amy at Second City Randomness
Amanda at Diary of a Semi-Health Nut
Sara at The Smart Kitchen
Abby at Never Trust a Skinny Cook
Courtney at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life
Meghann at Meals and Miles
Alyssa at Life of Blyss