Friday, December 30, 2011

Inner Beauty and the Verbal Beast

Ok, I am going to have a Peter Griffin "Grind my gears" moment. Why can there not be any positivity? "Person A"...I'll call them Debbie- Well, hello, Debbie Downer!- can speak nicely about, encourage and be supportive; but only of those who fall in line with what they like, their style and what they think the other person should do. If you go out of those lines then you better watch out!

Today I was excited to wear my new cowl neck striped sweater dress, corded leggings, double buckle belt and cowboy boots. The boots arent new, but I was made to feel so bad about them the first time I wore them that I didnt wear them again for over eight months.

I bought the boots after I was finally allowing myself to move forward with my life and was trying to figure out who I really even was after...well...the crap storm. Rather than being encouraged to take that step, I was actually ridiculed. I was "being fake" or "trying to impress/change for a guy" (BAHAHAHA!! riiiight.) and so on. This came from the people closest to me. I was incredibly wounded and it really set me back. I had loved the outfit I had worn; I actually felt like I looked good, was positive about myself. Those of you who have had children can certainly identify. (except you freaks of nature that look like you havent had a child at all. Happy for you but I hate it!!)

But back to my outfit today. I suppose- according to Debbie Downer- looking nice, making an effort in your appearance and taking pride in yourself as a person is a very terrible thing. I was given a very rude, slap-in-the-face comment about how I, to sum it up, was trying to strut around and be a super model; I even got a hint of an accusation that I was acting like a snob. It completely shattered my confidence.

I do not see confidence as a snobby thing and nor should anyone else. It should be celebrated!

Every woman should feel good and beautiful. One comes with the other. Every girl deserves to be told she is pretty and supported. She may not be your physical "type" (you may not be hers!) and her style and what she's into may not be yours, but it is what makes her "her", and that is Beautiful =)

So, no, Debbie Downer. I am not "trying" to be a super model. I'm being me, wearing what I love and makes me feel good about myself. I love my style. There's honestly no way I've ever been able to describe it. It is ever evolving. (which I also love)

"Change isnt necessarily good or bad. It just is." - Don Draper. I couldnt have said it better. For whom is my change bad, you or me? I get to decide that for myself and no "I told you so"s allowed!

Though Debbie still hurts my feelings and causes me to second guess myself...I am getting better at shrugging the comments off while still retaining my confidence. I have chosen to not surround myself with those that arent positive and encouraging towards me and the new person I am becoming. I've gotten to the point that I wont remain around someone who speaks down to me, whether I leave or they do. I'm not going to have that kind of influence in my life anymore. I cant. It wont allow me to change-whether its good or bad.

Be Beautiful =D


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Joy of Almond

I wish I had created this recipe/recreation myself, but alas, I did not. I found this recreation recipe of Almond Joys-or "Almond Jays" as they're called- on a site called Chow. Almond Joy bars are Kyle and his dad's favorite candy, so I made these for them for Christmas. They barely lasted a day apparently! (You're welcome!)

The recipe calls for using a food processor. Weeellll...mine is currently packed up. I went ahead and skipped that part because I didnt think it was really going to make that huge of a difference. -Fortunately I was right.

I sectioned the coconut mixture into the amount indicated first before I shaped it.

I came up a few short from what the recipe said I would get from it, but I think it is because I didnt run it through a processor.

I altered the chocolate a little bit. It calls for all Milk Chocolate. I ended up being short of what the recipe called for and threw in some semi-sweet chocolate with it to make up the difference. I actually think it was better. It added a little bit of depth to the taste of the chocolate.

I toasted and salted the almonds myself. Yet one more thing I'd done for the first time that I was soo relieved turned out well! I left one without almonds since my brother doesnt like them. So it was a non-dark chocolate mound!

Instead of double coating them, I drizzled the chocolate over them instead. I think the chocolate had cooled just a little too much because it turned into a slow, quite messy drizzle. But they turned out great! I was so relieved at how well received they were. Nothing like recreating something and being told that they cant taste the difference between the two!

Here is the link to Chow's "Almond Jays". They are definitely worth a try!


Christmas Crafty Pillow

Yes, Christmas is over. But I thought I'd share the poinsettia pillow I made for my Aunt for Christmas. It was very simple and I can see myself making several variations of it so it isnt just a Christmas-only decoration.

I started out picking a pillow from the fabric store. Once you choose your pillow, you can determine how much fabric you will need. I was lucky and found a remnant that worked perfectly. Its a sort of suede-like material. Next I picked up red and green felt squares and after much deliberation-and multiple trips to the store- I finally chose beads that I wanted to use.

Since I only had about an hour for this project and it isnt an article of clothing, I opted out of washing and drying the fabric. I instead ironed out the fold creases. Always start with ironed fabric before cutting. I laid my pillow on the fabric and cut two squares, giving myself extra room for seam allowances, about 1/4 inch. Lay right sides of fabric (the sides you want showing on the outside when your pillow is complete) together and pin three sides. Sew three sides together. Flip right-side out. Take your felt squares and cut out your leaves and petals and lay them on the pillow or fabric to see how you want them to lay.

After three of four attempts of trying to hand sew through all the layers of felt to attach it to the fabric-while also bending my needle!- I ended up stitching them on one layer at a time. I did the petals first attached the leaves last in case the petals shifted. Next I sewed on the beads in the center of the smallest petals. Once the flower was complete, I stuffed the pillow inside it's new case. It was incredibly snug and I couldnt even get the fourth side closed. I had a baby melt down and then decided to remove the polyfil from the pillow and hand stuff it into the case. To do this, I flipped the case inside out again (carefully) and sewed the fourth side closed, leaving 3 or 4 inches to stuff. Once the pillow is completely stuffed, you must hand stitch the rest of the opening closed. I'm not going to lie, its something I need practice on. But it being my first pillow, I was pleased with how it came out. : )

My Aunt loved it. She thinks I could-and should-sell them. From her mouth to God's ears. hehe

Happy creating!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gettin' Beer Bread Wasted

Ok, so obviously you cant get "wasted" or "buzzed" from a bread, but it can certainly put me in a light daze for a bit. : ) I've seen multiple variations of a simple beer bread recipe and finally just put together my own. Now that alcohol sales are permitted in our town, I am so ecstatic to not have to plan a trip to one of the surrounding counties to make this now!! (Dont be worried, the actual "alcohol" cooks out and you're simply left with the flavor.) I am sooo not a fan of drinking beer myself, but give this bread a shot if you dont either.

3 cups of sifted Self Rising Flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 Stick (1/2 cup) butter. Melt in small bowl or measuring cup.

12 oz of your favorite beer. (1 regular can) Each type of beer will give a slightly different flavor. I use Busch just because that's just what was around the first time, and when I find something I like, I usually wont change it!

Mix all four ingredients together well. I use a little over 1/4 cup of the butter in the mix and reserve the rest for later.

Pour dough into greased loaf pan. Try to get it even and to the edges.

Put in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 50 minutes.

Pour remaining butter evenly over top and put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

Give it a few minutes to cool. Using a serrated knife cut yourself a slice. I slather it up with some butter and let it get all melty. It has become my favorite breakfast: Chai latte with a big slice of buttered beer bread. : ) Yumminess!!

I have attempted a gluten free version of this for my dad...and it turned out soooo strange!! It was the heaviest, weirdest textured thing I've ever made!! But it is on my agenda to try again at it. There are specific gluten free beers that you will need to use. I got two different kinds at Whole Foods.



Friday, December 23, 2011

...Schnitzel with Noodles...These are a few of my favorite things!

One of the staple dinners in my home is the German meal, Schnitzel and Noodles. Sounds difficult, but it really isnt.

Start with trimmed pork. I usually just check what has the most with the best price. I'll often get family pack pork chops. Trim away the fat and salt and pepper them.

Next you pound the chop to about a quarter inch thin. I've heard of some people using a rolling pin or even a pot/pan, but I use a meat tenderizer.

This is about how thin I try to get it each time. It varies each time. Be careful though, sometimes the juices from the chop splatters a little!

Lightly cover the bottom of your pan with vegetable oil. I also drop in a tablespoon or so of butter to add to the flavor, but that's optional. Set the burner to medium-high heat. Give it a swirl every so often so the butter doesnt burn.

Cover the pounded chop in egg. I use 3, but it will depend how many you are making.

Dredge in salted bread crumbs. I use the Italian Bread crumbs for a little additional flavor. You can get plain and season them as you like. Once completely covered, you can set them on a plate off to the side until you are ready to put them in the pan. Or, as I sometimes do if I'm not starving or pressed for time, dredge it back through the eggs and bread crumbs for a double coating.

Now throw that baby in the pan! Try not to mess with it too much. Just let it sit and cook. I havent actually timed it since I'm usually preparing other chops at the same time, but give it a few minutes and check the bottom side.

Watch the edges to see when you need to flip it. They'll start to golden up.

Let it cook about the same amount of time on the second side.

I cook mine on each side twice because I like mine super golden and good and crispy. When it is cooked through and to your liking, remove from pan and set on plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess grease. Let it rest a couple minutes and then it is ready to eat.

About midway through your cooking, begin boiling the water for your noodles. I use egg noodles or rotini. Be sure to salt the water. Add the noodles when the water is at a rolling boil. Cook until al dente and drain. I only put butter and salt on mine and give it a good mix.

For those of you who also have a certain someone who wont eat anything not shaped like a nugget, dice a chop up after pounding it and then prepare it the same way.

As I understand, traditionally you use lemon (juice) on your schnitzel. I wouldnt be an American if I didnt eat it with ketchup. Ha! (I'm still working on expanding my food horizons)

ALSO! If you find it hard to find the time to make decent meals for you and your family, these are great to make ahead and storage in an air tight container in the fridge. (I havent tried freezing them yet.) I Set the oven to 350 degrees and cook them on both sides for about 5 minutes, then turn the broiler on low and let that crisp them up for 2-3 minutes. It usually tastes exactly the same reheated as it does fresh!

ANOTHER also:  My dad is on an extremely strict gluten free diet. I have made these for him using gluten free bread crumbs. The kind I have used for him is Hol-Grain Crispy Chicken Coating Mix. (Also used it for fried chicken.) It says on the bottle that its not just good on chicken, but he so wouldnt have cared! Luckily it turned out great and he really enjoyed it. My mom and brother also tried it and said it was good. =) If you know anyone trying or who actually HAS to eat gluten free, send this recipe along! I've watched how hard it is just to get a decent meal.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Goals for 2012 - 25 on my journey to 25

I've definitely been thinking a TON about goals and things I'd really like to achieve in this upcoming year. I've seen other bloggers do similar posts and its a certain number per age. 25 doesn't seem terribly daunting, but even the thought of thinking up 90 goals for when I'm 90?? I think 25 is a good number to leave it at. It gives me an adequate challenge, but isn't overwhelming and causing me to be set up for failure. I've gotten a bit of a jump start, but I don't feel I have to wait another week to get started on making 2012 my best year yet.
(Not in any specific order)

1. Start a blog
2. Get daycare taken care of and get a job
3. All bills, etc. squared away
4. Have all possessions put in storage
5. Get a sweet camera [ Beautiful Canon T3i ]
6. Get sweet editing software for my sweet camera
7. Upgrade phone!!
8. Finalize divorce
9. Get a house; completely DIY decorate all myself
10. Healthily lose 20-30 lbs (boo baby weight!) and get-and stay- in shape --Especially for my lil' Jen's Florida wedding!
11. Start saving for kids' college
12. Learn to make all types of clothes and tailor
13. Learn to make jewelry and accessories
14. Refocus life and attend church more consistently
15. Make every recipe I've acquired
16. Finish writing my story
17. Do charity work
18. Quit smoking 100% for good
19. Dress and look fabulous at least 3 times a week--I can still look great while being a mom...I know I can!
20. Journal at least a smidge every day
21. Begin a yearly "album"
22. Take a picture of myself every day-no excuses (maybe that'll help with #10 and #19!)
23. Take a picture of each of my children every day--really see how much they grow day by day =(
24. Sell my first handmade item
25. Be a more positive, calm and loving mother-- I do the best I absolutely can, but I know I can do better. And those sweethearts so deserve it =)

Cross your fingers for me!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dim Past, Bright Illuminations

"Ruin is the road to transformation." -Eat Pray Love
A year ago you could say I was ruined. I had been forced from my home with my two year old son and newborn twin daughters by my husband who no longer wished to be so. My parents allowed us into their home-hoping we wouldnt be there too terribly long. I have been insanely thankful to them for giving us a home, but it has weighed on me to feel like we were a burden on them. 
Not knowing what exactly to do with myself and unable to get a job because I couldnt afford daycare, I signed up for online classes to do through the community college. It's surprisingly difficult to pratically teach yourself a course after being away from school for five years while takeing care of three children 2 and under on your own. My grandparents took the kids for about two weeks to try to allow me to catch up and I even had an incredibly generous friend buy me a laptop to do my school work since using my parents' computer had begun to be an issue. Unfortunately, by the time my grandparents took the kids it was too late to save my grades. I took it very hard. I'd always been a good wife, good mother and a pretty good student (before this particular semester); yet I failed. Having not really failed at anything in my life and then failing at two of the three most imprtant aspects of my life was soul shattering. 
Near the end of my kids' stint at my grandparents, I allowed myself to go out with friends and enjoy myself for practically the first time in years. I had, in a way, been punishing myself for my failed marriage by telling myself I didnt deserve to be happy or have any sort of enjoyable human contact. (Thank God I realized that I was being ridiculous!) Did I sorta hope guys might notice me? Sure I did. I was hurt, not dead. Was I looking for a new guy in my life realtionship wise? No. Not really. But you know how things like that go. My girlfriends and I happened upon a new group of friends through a guy friend of ours. Thats what I wanted...and needed...was friends. One guy in particular had the same style and and random-sometimes sick-sense of humor I had; but he was just a friend. A few weeks later while our "group" was out, this guy up and kissed me and I was completely taken aback. I pulled away from him and left only a few minutes later...completely baffled. I remained baffled for a few days actually. Then it dawned on me: I did like him. And that was ok. I never thought I'd have feelings for another guy again after what happened to my marriage, but all of a sudden we needed Oprah's couch to go Tom Cruise all over. I was slightly guilt ridden, though, because I was still technically married...but I had no money for a lawyer, he was supposed to be taking care of it...but was more or less taking his time. But that marriage and relationship was dead, we were both in complete agreeance with that and it was all just a technicallity; a piece of paper. We were free to move on with our lives. I was finally free to take my life back and be happy. 
So, Hello! I'm Kelsey. Altough my life is still a bit of a mess and the "Big D" is still working on getting settled, things are becoming brighter and clearer. Kyle and I are in our eigth month together. My son, Turner, is now 3. My twins, Lydia and Bridget, are now a year and a half. I, myself, have just turned 24 and I sincerely hope that 24 and 2012 will be my best year yet! I have been contemplating starting a blog for months now to have an outlet for myself and all my creative whatnotness. I am so fortunate that Kyle is so on board with it and my creative endevours and even keeps the kids out of my hair so I can finish things or run to the store.
I hope that through my blog I will be able to inspire others to carry on and make their journey through life beautiful-their own kind of beauty. The ruin caused by my ex gave me the second chance for my life and my kids lives and in the strangest way I am so thankful for it. I get to transform into what I truly want to be and encourage my kids and those around me to do the same. =)

P.S. I plan to post my DIY projects, sewing, recipes and other miscellaneous things that tickle my fancy. Hope you will get as much enjoyment out of them as I do!