Friday, February 28, 2014

Wreck It Ralph Party Prep and Custom Invitation Tutorial

My little ones birthdays have both just happened and their party is tomorrow! I am so excited to celebrate them. Their birthdays are 4 days apart and so I've decided to combine their parties until they're old enough to ask for separate ones. 

This year PJ decided to that he would like to have a Wreck It Ralph party. So I've been excitedly planning and prepping for the party. Usually I have my friend Lindsay from Artsy Fartsy Mama design our invites but I decided to give it a go myself and see how I did. I wanted to share with you a few of things things I used just in case you would like to have your own Wreck It Ralph birthday party. 

For their invitation I printed these up on 4x6 photos and mailed those out:
Wreck It Ralph Party Prep & Custom Invitation Tutorial #wreckitralph #partyideas #tutorial #printable

I also printed out these drink labels for the root beer at the party.
Wreck It Ralph Party Prep & Custom Invitation Tutorial #wreckitralph #partyideas #tutorial #printable

I think Thank You Notes are so important, and written ones have become a lost art. So I designed and ordered some for my babies to write or draw on to send out after the party. I made it so that you could download and use them as well. 
The one below is for one kiddo: 
Wreck It Ralph Party Prep & Custom Invitation Tutorial #wreckitralph #partyideas #tutorial #printable

 This is the one I will be using for mine:
Wreck It Ralph Party Prep & Custom Invitation Tutorial #wreckitralph #partyideas #tutorial #printable

If you would like to start from scratch and design your own, this is what I did. 
For the invitations, I actually downloaded a wallpaper. I'm not sure if it is bad juju or not, but since it is for personal use only and not for sale and I'm not making a profit, I think it's ok. 
Here is the link to the wallpaper I downloaded for the invitations: 

And here it the link to the wallpaper I downloaded for the Thank You Notes:

For the invitations I wanted to have a true vintage video game feel so I downloaded a free 8-bit font. I actually found a site that had over 20 for you to choose from, so you can follow the link below to get your own:

I used photoshop elements to add the 8-bit font onto the wallpaper. BUT if you don't have elements don't you worry! 

What you do is go into Power Point and open up a blank presentation. Then open up your wallpaper or picture that you'd like to use. From there you can use any of the fonts that you have downloaded onto your computer! Then save the current slide you're on as a .jpg and you're set! Super easy. 

For the Thank You note, I made life even easier and I just opened up my wallpaper in PicMonkey and just used their fonts and label. From there I saved it to my computer. That is it! You truly can do this yourself! 

If you have any questions about the process, I am more than happy to help you.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

PJ's Birth Story

My Miracle Baby

            We were blessed with coverage from Medicaid for PJs birth and my pregnancy. I had an amazing doctor! Dr. Wayne R. Young. We actually chose him because he had RAVE reviews from patients and was a high risk doctor. I didn’t know I’d end up being a high risk pregnancy but I figured having a doctor that specialized in high risk pregnancies definitely was a plus. We found him through a listing of OB/GYN’s that Travis’ work insurance would cover. Travis ended up being laid off and so we wouldn’t have that insurance, however, it was a true blessing that we found Dr. Young since I love him so much! It was such a great experience!
            At about 13 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with Pregnancy Induced High Blood Pressure and put on medication to help regulate my blood pressure which it did. Little did I know, my high blood pressure would end up being a blessing.
            Shortly after getting approved for Medicaid our coverage started in February, and PJ was due in March…cutting it a little close right?!  Well, with Medicaid, how it works is for the first month you are enrolled in traditional Medicaid, then after that month you have to choose a plan. We ended up having to choose the HealthyU plan which only allows us to use either the Timpanogos Regional Hospital, or Mtn. View (I don’t even know where that is located!). Well, I had my heart set on delivering at the Orem Community Hospital.
            I absolutely loved what I read about OCH, I loved the pictures, their labor and delivery rooms, how small and close knit it felt, I wanted to deliver there! So I knew that my little one had to be born in February in order for me to have that desire granted. I wanted to deliver someplace I would feel comfortable. 

 (The room that I delivered in, room 122)

A week before my Dr’s appointment which was on February 26, 2010 I kept having some serious contractions and it felt like the real thing! But then they’d go away or wouldn’t be close enough apart, or would be about 6 minutes apart and then completely stop. I was getting pretty antsy because I truly wanted PJ to come in February, I just knew he would be a February baby, and since he wasn’t coming I was getting frustrated! I tried EVERYTHING to get that baby out! I went for a walk, drank castor oil, went for walks, did business time with my hubby, ate pineapple, papaya, spicy food, raspberry tea, heavy meals. You name it, I tried it, and still…no baby. I was getting stressed and frustrated.

(2 days before PJs birthday) 

I went to my Doctor’s appointment on the 26th for my weekly non stress test. Knowing that the 26th was the last day that PJ could come before we’d have to deliver at the other hospital, I was praying that the Dr would induce labor, in fact I was planning to beg! My only hope in him inducing labor would be if my blood pressure was high! After they took my blood pressure and told me that it was good I was pretty dang bummed. While on the NST I started having regular contractions. They showed the Dr. and he asked, “Have you scheduled your induction yet?” I couldn’t believe my ears! I was mighty excited. We went and got an ultrasound for him to measure my fluid level. It was at a 7 (you’ll notice the #7 is a common theme with this little one, I think it’s his lucky number). He checked my cervix and I was dilated to a 0. That’s right ZERO. So not good. He let me know that I have an unfavorable cervix. Stupid cervix. So he gave me my options. At 39 weeks it’s prime time to schedule my induction and usually with patients who have pregnancy induced high blood pressure he likes to induce them because of the risks of that pressure to the baby.  My choice was to schedule and induction with the increased risk of having to have a c-section, or waiting for the baby to come on his own and the small risk of complications to him because of my blood pressure!
The choice was obvious since I was praying for a miracle to be induced anyways. I was scared about the c-section but once he mentioned a small risk to the baby I knew what my choice was. I asked Travis if he felt good about it and he said yes, and so did I. I knew that Heavenly Father wouldn’t have presented the option to us if there was a bad risk to me or baby because I’m certain Heavenly Father knew the choice I would make.
My induction was scheduled for 4pm that day. I was SO excited! We headed to the hospital with what seemed like and entire years supply of luggage and excitement. They started me off with a medication called Cytadel (I think) which is like a flat tampon with medication on it that had to be pushed up against the cervix. Let me tell you, that was a horribly painful experience. I got to eat a really yummy dinner that night. (Confession: I love hospital food!) I was up almost the entire night with pretty annoying contractions, I wouldn’t go as far as saying they were overly painful, but they did hurt and made me terribly uncomfortable, plus I had the constant urge to pee…so not fun. Being checked to see if I was dilated any, hurt even worse than when the medicine was inserted. I admit. I cried like a baby! My sweet husband quickly came to my side and held my hand as I sobbed. I was devastated when I was told I was still at a zero.
We were set to start the pitocin drip at 6am. I was set at that same time to get an epidural. If I was already in pain, I did not want it to get worse before I felt better. The anesthesiologist rocked at my epidural and even hooked me up to a little drip where I could just push a button and get a small dose of relief. I loved that button! They put a catheter in and I was in heaven. It didn’t even hurt when they put it in and it felt great not to have to constantly pee!
From then on I was a happy camper. I got so much rest and sleep. I was really relaxed and the epidural knocked me out! I didn’t even feel the really bad contractions. Dr. Young came in around 10 am to check and see if anything was happening.  He said I still hadn’t dilated ANY and so they decided to try this little balloon thing that they insert and they blow up fluid inside of it and it rests on your cervix and causes it to contract. I didn’t feel a thing (thank goodness) he got it up to 60cc’s full of fluid and then it just fell out. That’s when he said that it shouldn’t have fallen out and I must be dilated. So they put me in stirrups and then rechecked my cervix and I WAS DILATED yay! I was only dilated to a 3, but it’s a lot better than a zero! So they decided to break my water and then continue with the Pitocin drip and up the amount.
At around 4 pm, my catheter started to really bug me. That was a key sign that my epidural was starting to wear off. I felt so much pressure down there, the best way to describe the feeling was annoying. They checked my cervix and I was at a 6. They called the epidural guy to come in and give me another boost. He wasn’t so comforting this time and even said that he thinks that I might be in a lot of pain in the next few hours. I was pretty freaked out since my tolerance for pain is a great big ZERO! I cried to the nurse Jill because I’m a weenie like that and she totally comforted me and made me feel better. After the boost kicked in it was pretty chill for a little while until my lips started to feel chapped and then all of the sudden it hit me…I needed to puke. So I covered up my mouth, grabbed my barf bag and waited. Thank goodness I was on a fluids only diet. Apple juice tastes exactly the same going in as it does going out. I told my hubby to go and tell the nurse that I had thrown up and that I feel a lot of pressure down there.
She said that that was a great sign. She checked to see how I was doing and I was dilated to a 9.5 AND 100 % effaced. I had completely skipped the transition phase of labor. And it was time to call Dr. Young. My epidural boost was wearing off just enough where I could feel pressure down there, like I wanted to go to the bathroom, it wasn’t painful per se, I just really wanted to push but I couldn’t until they got the ok from Dr. Young. Jill kept calling and calling him but no answer. One of the other nurses said that every time Jill called Dr Young’s phone she heard a phone ring. He had left his phone there. So they called his house and hunted him down. The urge to push kept getting stronger and stronger! Now keep in mind as mentioned earlier I’m a crier! So I started to cry and kept saying that I wanted to push. Jill was about to get off work and the next nurse was getting briefed. I kept saying I wanted to push! So Jill came in and said, "Then push already!" So I was able to start pushing and it felt SO much better to be able to push. I got a final epidural boost to get the edge off. Dr. Young showed up shortly after, he had been helping a lady over at Timp Regional and had enough time to go get some booties on and come on in! I could feel by the pressure when it was time to push and it felt great. I felt so excited that I was accomplishing something and getting closer to the time that I could meet my sweet little boy. For me it didn’t feel like I was pushing very long. We got to the point where they could see his head and he had dark hair! (Yay! because I was afraid of having a red headed baby!)
We got to the point where I needed to be in the stirrups and push. I pushed for a little while longer and it got to the point where his head stayed. I pushed a little more and the nurse told me to listen to Dr. Young for whether or not to push again. He told me not to and I told him I wanted to really bad! A few seconds later I heard a beautiful sound, the sound of my baby boy crying. Of course I teared up again for the umpteenth time that day. He was born on February 27, 2010 at 7:24pm. He weighed 7lbs, 7oz.
Instead of hearing the traditional doctors’ “Congratulations, It’s a boy!” We heard, “Congratulations, you had a baby pterodactyl!” It was really funny. His little head was so weirdly shapen that he looked like a baby pterodactyl.  I replied, “Oh good I always wanted one of those!” PJ was having a little trouble breathing so I got to hold him for a quick second before they had to take him to the nursery and help him with some sort of breathing treatment. While they were cleaning him up a little, Dr. Young took care of the rest of the birth stuff. 

 (The first time I got to hold my little man) 
(The night he was born) 

Everybody told me what a great job I did. Dr. Young told me he was shocked that I ended up having a vaginal delivery. He actually would have bet against it. PJ was my little miracle baby. I had such a smooth pregnancy and birth experience with him. He also told me that if anybody asks me about my epidural, say it was the perfect epidural. Because I didn’t feel any pain until the very end, and it wasn’t even pain it was pressure letting me know when to push and I ended up saving myself at least an hour of pushing! Woot.
Giving birth was such an amazing experience. I never felt closer to my Heavenly Father as I did when I was able to hold that little baby in my arms. The saying that you never know how much your mother loves you until you have your baby is so true. I love him so very much!
The nurses were so sweet. They helped me get cleaned up and comfortable while PJ was in the nursery. They told me they could take out my IV if I could pee on my own. So of course I wanted to be free of the extra wires, they had already taken out the epidural needle chord thing etc. So I went to the bathroom, she showed me how to care for my stitches site etc, and let me try to go pee, I couldn’t do it. The door was open and the nurses were in there doing the finishing touches of cleaning up the room. I finally had to ask if I could close the door and pretend they weren’t there. Apparently I have shy bladder because then I was totally able to go! I was glad to be rid of the IV.
Let me just say, I was a big fan of the ice pack. I took advantage of that for the first 24 hours!
I was so happy to be freshened up and have a clean bed. I was even happier that my baby was in the room ready for me when I had finished. He was breathing good, and ready to be fed. Thinking back on that day it almost feels like it was just a dream. I’ve noticed that the truly special events in my life that mean a lot to me seem like just dreams. Like when I went through the temple for my first time, my mission, my wedding day, and the birth of my son. Such a truly special, sacred event.
They pampered me so much in the hospital, the nurses were amazing. I’d have to say Jill and Dodie were my favorites. Dr. Young is an amazing doctor and I’m just so thrilled with the experience I had. I definitely plan on having him deliver all my babies if at all possible. It was so nice to be able to spend the next day at the hospital just being pampered with my little man and my sweet husband. It was good to see family and have them meet the new member of ours. He’s such a sweet laid back little guy.

(Our first family picture.)

Travis lucked out and got to eat my breakfast and lunch on the 27th since I was on an only liquids diet. For breakfast on the 28th they gave me French toast. Which is totally my favorite breakfast. I was like, “How did they know?” I was up so early the morning of the 28th. They hooked me up with some pain killers, the pain wasn’t too bad, until I would nurse PJ, then the contractions would start up and really hurt! They kept telling me I had firm muscles when they would check to make sure my Uterus was going back to normal, and I was thinking…man…that’s the first time I heard that before!
I’m also proud to report I didn’t even swear. I said freakin’ once, but that was all! I’m pretty thrilled that I didn’t taint such a sweet and spiritual experience. He makes me want to be a better person all of the time. I love him so much. I find myself wanting to protect him from all the bad things in the world. 

(One day old, I loved him from the moment I knew he would be coming, now that he's here my heart is bursting with love.) 

My sweet PJ Baby,
I’m typing this as I sit next to you while you are under the bili lights. Having you in there breaks my heart. I just want to hold you, but I know that this is helping you and healing you. And the best for you is all I want.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tutu's Panadilla Recipe

My amazing mom shared this on her blog a while ago but since she no longer blogs, I asked her if I could share it here for all of you. This is the post she shared: 

She is an amazing cook...nothing compares to moms cooking, right?

Panadillas-Puerto Rican Recipe

  How can I begin to tell of the years of cooking and creating with my mom and grandmother? They were both great bakers. I know my mom and grandmother would love to have their traditions passed on.  I love my family and extended family.  I pray for joy, light, peace, health, and happiness in your homes and lives.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I will respond. 

 Grandma Secunda Carvalho Ramos' Panadilla Recipe. 

A few weeks ago I found her recipe when I was emptying a box.  I am trying to get my life in order and work on the blog faithfully again.  I have had family and friends ask me to type my recipes and share some of my crafty ideas. 
Panadilla from the Kitchen of Secunda
Ingredients for the filling:
2 pounds cubed pork or ground beef 
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped fine Cilantro
2 eight oz. cans of tomato sauce
(please note, in the picture we have green onions, we have decided to omit them from the recipe.)

Ingredients for the dough:

4 cups flour
½ cup Crisco
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup water give or take *
*Liquids:  For a tender crust, you want just enough liquid to moisten the flour without drenching it. Water should be added gradually to the dry ingredients and not all at once.
Altitude and weather also affects your dough.  I sometimes use 1 ½ cups water or 1 cup and 3 tablespoons.  

Filling Preparation:

If using ground beef cook and drain, add other ingredients and on medium heat bring to a boil; next let simmer uncovered for 1/2 hour.  Set aside and let it cool.
 If using pork places all ingredients into a pot on medium heat bring to a boil; next let simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare dough. When done simmering let it cool and set a side.

 Panadilla Dough Preparation:

Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in Crisco and add water gradually. 
 This is the consistency you want your dough to be:
Place the dough on a floured counter top.
Roll the dough out into a 1/8 inch thick layer.
 Cut the dough into circles with round cookie cutters, can or Crisco lid:
 Remove the excess dough from the cut out circle:
Place about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of your filling of choice in the center of the dough:
 Dab one half of the dough with water, now carefully fold over the dough with contents into a semicircle:

Crimp down the edges with a fork, or fold over and pinch closed:  
If you prefer you can also use a dough press, you will still need to dab water around one half and fold over and press carefully:

Remember to remove the dough from the pressed Panadillas also:
These are what your prepped panadillas will look like. The one in the back was sealed with a fork, the center was sealed by rolling the edges and pinching and the front is sealed using the dough press. Depending on which method you use is how your panadilla will look. But all of them will be just as good!
Fry in deep oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.
Panadillas can be reheated in a microwave. 

My recipe is a little different from this one and I will post it soon.
I have typed this recipe in good faith, it is the best my mind can remember.  So, enjoy and change anything according to your personal tastes. 
This is a family recipe that we enjoy for every Holiday or Special event.
Here's a couple of pictures of me and my husband rolling out the Panadilla dough:


Friday, February 21, 2014

Miss Joy's Birth Story

At 33 weeks pregnant I found out that Baby Sis was breech. Her head was up and her little tush was down. I was given all sorts of different tips of how to flip her on my own but I decided to just let it be and put it in Heavenly Father's hands. He knew whether she could safely flip at that time.
At 36 almost 37 weeks along we checked again and she was still breech...that little stinker! :) Dr. Young gave me a few options. He could send me to a specialist right away and they could flip her then. ( I felt very bad about this one so it wasn't an option really). Dr. Young didn't like that option either because of the possible complications and stress it puts on the baby. He heard of 2 cases in our county alone where they flipped the baby and two days later they couldn't find the heart beat. The next was that I would wait until 38 weeks and then if her lungs were mature he would check me into the hospital, give me an epidural and flip her himself. If she flipped they'd immediately induce labor and if she didn't then they'd immediately do a c-section. Either way I would have her then.
The last option was to simply wait and see if she flipped on her own, which wasn't very likely since the longer I waited my chance of having a c-section increased. I didn't feel good about the third option either and I felt very good about Dr. Young flipping her. 
So Tuesday the 21st I had one more ultrasound to see if she had flipped on her own...she hadn't. The following day I was scheduled for an amniocentesis test. It's where they stick a LONG needle inside of my stomach to get a sample of my amniotic fluid. She was SO squirmy (she still is)! From that sample they were able to tell if she was mature enough to be born...and she was. So they told me to be at the hospital at 6am the following morning! I got all prepared the night before. 

The night before

On the morning of Thursday, February 23rd we got all ready to go. I got a nice shower and PJ got up too. We think he knew something was up. We left for the hospital around 5:15am. We got there a few minutes before six. It was freezing outside and still dark. PJ stayed with Tutu and Papa and we went to the hospital. 
We got all checked in at the front and the escorted us to our room. 

It was a huge room and even had two beds. The lady that checked us in told us it we be a few minutes so we were able to get settled in and I got changed into my gown and got into bed and waited. About 10-15 minutes later, our nurse came in. She was such a fun, friendly, sweet lady named Raiden. I loved her! She got us all set up with our bracelets, useful information, etc. etc. She was really good at keeping us posted on what was happening with Dr. Young, the anesthesiologist and triage. Dr. Young wanted to get started on me early in the morning but they tried to flip a set of twins and that ended up needing to be a c-section and there was also a more pressing labor that might have ended up being an emergency c-section, and both of them needed to be taken care of before anesthesia could come in and do my epidural, then Dr. Young could come in and get started. Raiden guesstimated that around noon we'd get started.
Dr. Young (who is amazing by the way) came in and said "Hi" to us around 7:40/8:00. Actually he really walked in and said, "Could you hurry up and wait?!" :) I love his personality! He kinda gave us the heads up like Raiden did. We started to watch a few of the DVD's that I brought. First we watched "Mean Girls", which isn't nearly as funny as it used to be, so we turned it off and started "An Affair to Remember". Around 9:30/9:45ish the anesthesiologist came in. Which was way earlier than I had expected. He was awesome! He put in my epidural and stuck around a few minutes to make sure it had worked. Before the anesthesiologist came in Raiden brought us all sorts of awesome goodies. She was so sweet. She said she felt bad about us having to wait but I really didn't mind. 
After my epidural had time to kick in, the anesthesiologist came in and checked again. Dr. Young came in (around 10am). They give a higher dose when they are going to flip the baby than they normally do.
Flipping/Version's is a very uncomfortable procedure. I'm SO glad I was numb for it! Dr. Young strategically mashed on my belly while Raiden held the ultrasound so he could see where Baby Sis was. I got so very nauseated and dry heaved a few times (you're very welcome for that visual). Good thing my stomach was empty! (I hadn't eaten or drank anything since before midnight). He successfully flipped her on the first time! Raided had already had my IV in and everything all set up so they hooked up the pitocin, broke my water and labor was induced! It was now a waiting game! I have IV fluids, pitocin, and nausea meds all going through my IV. It made my hand painfully cold so they had a mini heat pack on that. I was comfortable yet nervous. I didn't want her to turn back! Dr. Young and Raiden and everybody else that came into our room LOVED our movie selections. :) I did too! :) 

After the epidural and her getting flipped I was finally able to rest! After "An Affair to Remember" we watched "Sleepless in Seattle", then it was time for "My Fair Lady" and then it was time to meet OUR little lady! 
My labor progressed nicely. Towards the end of my labor I could really feel a lot of pressure and some of the contractions! So I got a boost to my epidural, I sure am glad that I did! I could tell when I was having a contraction and when to push, but it wasn't painful. Thank goodness! I did tear but I only needed on stitch so that's good. By 5:50pm it was time to push. I pushed a total of 8 minutes/three contractions. At 5:58pm Baby Sis was born.I cried. She was very quiet for what seemed like hours. When I heard her first cry, I cried again. My heart was so full of happiness and joy! 
It turned out that the chord was wrapped around her neck (scary). The breathing specialist had to spend some time with her because she had some fluid in one of her lungs. But she was ok! She weighed 6lbs 10oz and was 19.5 inches long. She had a whole head of dark hair and big brown eyes. She was SO alert! Her Daddy took lots of pictures for me! :) 
The very first time I got to look at my baby girl...and she got to look at me. 

 The first time Daddy got to hold his Baby Girl. So beautiful.

Tutu and Papa brought PJ that night to meet her!  He loved her SO much! He ran right in to see her and gave her a sweet kiss in her head. He has since asked to hug her and hold her lots! He smiles and laughs everytime he sees her!

This is the first time PJ saw his Baby Sis. The next day he saw her. He just loves giving her kisses and loves!

Welcome to the world Baby Sis! You have a big brother that loves you dearly and is going to look out for you! And a mother and father who will do the same! 
Isn't she so beautiful! 


Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Make Your Little Ones Artwork into a Keepsake

I actually stumbled upon this craft on accident, and I am so thrilled that I did, so I HAD to share it with you all! I think it would make the perfect gift.

PJ and I were working on some Mother's/Father's Day gifts when he decided that he wanted to do it himself. So I asked him if he just wanted to draw instead. While I was finishing up the project we started, he tried to get my attention. Cue the "mommy, mommy, mom, mom, mom." I looked over at him and he exclaimed: "I drew a smiley!". I had never seen him actually draw a smiley face before, so I knew I had to capture it!
We were working with shrink plastic/film so I knew exactly what I could do!

All you need is your little ones artwork
A sharpie
Shrink film (I found mine on amazon)
I placed a sheet of shrink film over PJ's artwork and just traced over it, trying to copy the exact lines he made and the ways his hands moved.

I then cut out around the design. I knew I wanted it to be a keychain so I hole punched the design BEFORE I baked it. I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper so that my shapes wouldn't stick and I also put parchment paper over them so they wouldn't stick together while they were shrinking.

I baked my shapes according to the directions and this is how they turned out! I think it is so stinking cute! I gave this set to my parents and it was an instant treasure! 

Since I ended up with 50 sheets of shrink plastic my mind is already spinning on what I can make! I'm thinking earrings, jewelry, keychains, gift tags, Christmas Ornaments...the sky is the limit!

What would you make if you had over 50 sheets of shrink plastic?

Friday, February 14, 2014

To Give Up or To Be Great

Before the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies began NBC premiered "How to Raise an Olympian" presented by P&G. I should have known that if P&G had anything to do with it, I'd end up crying. Have you guys seen the "Thanks mom" or "Thank you mom" commercials that they do every olympics? I cry. Like a baby. Every. Time.

As I was watching the special hosted by Meredith Vieira I was touched by so many of the olympians stories.
They interviewed:
Olympic freeskier: Nick Goepper (mother:Linda); 
Olympic ice dancing silver medalists: Meryl Davis & Charlie White (mother: Chery & Jacqui, respectively); 
Olympic alpine skier: Mikaela Shiffrin (mother: Eileen); 
Olympic short track speed skater: J.R. Celsk (mother:Sue); 
Paralympic snowboarder: Amy Purdy (mother: Sheri); 
Olympic gold medalist and NBC Olympics correspondent: Lindsey Vonn (mother: Lindy). 

 The two that stood out to me the most. Probably because I caught the special half way through were Olympic short track speed skater J.R. Celski and Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy. I think her last name is so fitting because she is Purdy or Pretty, however you want to say it. 

Apparently while training for the olympics in some sort of event J.R. Celski got into an accident on the ice. He slid across the ice and with the way his legs were placed his skate acted like a huge blade and when he slammed into the wall, it cut through his leg just above the knee straight to the bone. Basically severing the muscle in two. He was millimeters. MILLIMETERS guys from severing an artery and bleeding out. But he didn't. God had other plans for him. At that point he could of thought "that's it, my career is over, I'm done". But he didn't. He was at an all time low and instead of succumbing to his negative mind he chose to overcome and achieve his dreams of being an Olympian.

 Amy Purdy, I seriously adore this girl. She had suddenly fallen ill and ended up in the hospital. She was quickly diagnosed with meningitis. She as doctors would say was in grave condition and possibly moments away from death. One of her doctors told her that if she believed in anything now would be the time to lean on that belief and fight for it, because if she didn't fight she wouldn't live. You know what she believed in so deeply that it saved her life? LOVE. She believed in love. She loved living her life so deeply, she loved the experiences that she had had and the idea of the experiences she is yet to have so much that she decided that she loved life too much to die so early. So she fought. And she overcame.

However, due to her fight for her life in the hospital, she lost both of her legs. She was an incredible snowboarder before her illness and she decided not to let that huge trial stop her from becoming the athlete that she wanted to be. And she did it. She is an Olympian.

 All of the stories shared were of people who were taken to the lowest of lows and then were forced to decide. Are they going to give up, or are they going to be great. I love that we can make a similar choice. We will be faced with out lowest of lows and then we will need to I going to give up or am I going to be great?

  Hardships Ordinary People #olympics #sochi2014
Image from

My choice? I'm going to be great. 
What's yours?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I've Got A Crush On You Valentines Inspired No Knead Artisan Bread Recipe

When I lived in Italy for 18 months, not only did I fall in love with the Italy people, I fell in love with the food. Oh the food! We would be invited over to their homes for genuine Italian meals and each course was spectacular. One of my favorite things though was the bread. In more than one Italian home, when we had a meal, they would have a spread of various types of artisan bread on the table. 
I tend to be a bit of a snob with Italian foods and breads now that I've had the real thing and I've got to tell you. The Artisan Bread recipe I'm about to share with you is hands down, the best one I've tasted since being in Italy. 

No Knead Artisan Bread

Valentine Inspired No Knead Artisan Bread by #recipe #artisanbread
You will need in addition to the following ingredients, a tupperware type bowl with an air type lid and a 4 to 8-quart heavy COVERED pot (pot with lid), such as a cast iron dutch oven. It will need to be able to withstand heat of up to 450 degrees. 

Dry Ingredients: 
3        cups       All Purpose Flour* (450 gr)
1/4     tsp           instant yeast (like SAF)
2        tsp           Real Salt (1 1/4 tsp if using table salt)

3/4 cup white chocolate chips & 3/4 cup craisins 

Mix above ingredients (if you'd like to make plain bread, OMIT the Craisins and the White Chocolate Chips. 

 1 1/2       cups       Cold Cherry Soda (333 gr)

1 1/2      cups    Cold Water (333 gr)
1/2         tsp      Red wine vinegar  (adjust to taste) - (any vinegar will work)*
* This gives the bread a more sour dough type taste. 
Stir all the above ONLY until combined
I like to use a Dutch Bread Hook when I do this, but a whisk will work. 

 This is what your dough should look like: 

OR if you are making plain bread, this is what it should look like:

 Your dough will be shaggy and sticky…  cover bowl with lid. At this point I like to use a dry erase or washable marker to mark the time I covered it. 

 Let dough rest for at least 12 hours up to 18 hrs, @ about 70°. When surface is dotted with bubbles, dough is ready. (Longer times may be needed in cooler weather) This is what your dough will look like after it has rested long enough. 

After the 12-18 hr rest…  Place dough on well floured work surface and sprinkle dough with a light dusting of flour… you now want to create a surface tension by gently kneading the dough (about 7-8 kneads). Seriously, I only ever do 7-8 kneads! 

Spray a second large bowl with a non-stick spray. Transfer dough to oiled bowl place dough seam side down in bowl. Cover and let rise until it has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours. 

After your dough has been rising for about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs… Preheat oven to 435°-450° for 30 min WITH your covered pot in oven… Pot should be at least 4 to 8-quart heavy COVERED pot (pot with lid), such as a cast iron dutch oven. Remember it needs to be able to withstand the heat. 

When dough has almost fully risen, carefully remove HOT pot from oven. Turn dough over into hot pot, now seam side up. Cover, and bake 25 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking @ 435° for an additional 6 to 10 minutes or until browned (not black). Cool on a wire rack before cutting. ENJOY!!  (You may need to adjust oven temp so bread does not burn)

Valentine Inspired No Knead Artisan Bread by #recipe #artisanbread