Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Book 8: Common Sense

I just finished reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine. It is his political treatise to sway Americans to fight for their independence from the British. It is a great read and takes you back to why and how our country came to be.

It was very interesting to read after finishing The Hunger Games trilogy. A lot of the reasoning for American independence can be seen in the reasons the 13 districts must rise up against the Capital in order to gain their own independence. 

Excerpts from the book:
Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness, the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
...consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the same concerns at stake which those have who appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would act were they present. 
Oppression is often the CONSEQUENCE, but seldom or never the MEANS of riches...
Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.
Our plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because, it is the interest of all Europe to have America a FREE PORT. Her trade will always be a protection, we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law OUGHT to be King; and there ought to be no other.
Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing.
The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a Spaniel.
...we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now.

Granola Bars

One of our big grocery expenses is Clif Bars for Daniel. He loves them.

We have been discussing alternative options for the bars and Daniel asked if I could make something similar. Since that conversation, I have been on the hunt for a good recipe.

Over the course of the last month I tried several different recipes. One had condensed milk {low fat} as a key ingredient. Another had peanut butter and honey as the sticky component. I have been experimenting with the bases and trying different flavors. 

Then I jumped off the wagon and tried Popcorn Balls with Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzels {it was a healthy snack with popcorn in lieu of oats}. Daniel was not amused {I thought they were delicious}. He emailed me to ask if I had lost my mind and why were their popcorn kernels that he might chip a tooth on in his granola bars???

I guess I got a bit distracted from the task at hand. I didn't think it was a big deal, but when the story of the popcorn balls was shared with both my family and his mom and sister, I learned that maybe I was a little off my rocker on this one.

So yesterday I returned to my senses and went back to the recipe that Daniel liked the most. It is simple and fairly healthy {high calorie, but gave it a B-}.

They taste great and I still plan on experimenting with the flavors some... after all, if you know me, you know I don't cook the same recipe very often.

Granola Bars {that are not Popcorn Balls}
Recipe adapted from A Recipe A Day

2 cups quick oats
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp flaxseed
14 oz sweetened condensed milk {I used Eagle Brand, low fat}
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup craisins

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Line a 11×7-inch pan with lightly-greased parchment paper. 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl then spread into the prepared pan, evenly pressing into the corners and out to the sides.

Bake 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown {use slightly less time for chewier bars and slightly more time for crunchier bars}

Let bars cool for 5 minutes in the pan before using the parchment paper to lift them from the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars.

Let the bars cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Makes 8 bars. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jack's First Trip to the Park

This past weekend we were visiting with my family and my brother suggested we go to the park – he is all about getting out of the house. I guess he gets bored sitting around holding babies all day :)

With two babies in the family, this can be a challenge. However 2-year-old Izzy definitely benefits from running around to expel energy, so we all bundled up and headed out {Robert stayed home with Levi and Daniel and Sophie took a nap}.

Getting out the door took a little while... Izzy needed her tutu to wear over her pants. Then she needed shoes {and socks}. Also a hat and scarf. Then I had to bundle up Jack, make sure his diaper was clean, and grab the Baby Bjorn and a warm hat and a blanket and the camera.

The first order of business at the park was the swings.

Then we went over to the slides. This playground had a double slide, so we took turns racing Izzy down. 

She also insisted that we ride down the big slide as well {the swirly kind}.

As usual, Jack was totally laid back. 

In the end, everyone got too cold and we had to leave. Everyone that is except for Izzy. Angela bribed her with Dunkin Donuts to get her to go home! Thank you Angela for getting us all donuts!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Things (Random, February 2012)

Last Thursday I mentioned the things I wanted to be when I grew up...

Well, I may not have become a truck driver, but I have made many long distance road trips. I may not be a professional photographer, but I love to take pictures. And I may not have joined the Peace Corp or moved to China to teach ESL, but I have traveled the world AND taught at a community college.

I guess it is all about perspective. 


Daniel will often ask me ridiculous questions that involve numbers and I have an uncanny ability to almost always guess the right answer.

Perhaps this is why my second highest score on the ACT in high school was in Science Reasoning {my highest was in Math}. Then I went to college and studied Art. What's up with that?

I think striped sweaters on babies are incredibly adorable. So are striped socks. And onesies. I think I must have an affinity for stripes.


Daniel and I have been watching Top Gear (UK) on Netflix. 

We recently watched the episode where they have to drive out of the jungles of Bolivia, across the Andes to the Chilean coast

There were several moments that reminded me of Papua New Guinea. 

Daniel and I reminisced about our experience of being in a Landcruiser with Andy Scott back in January of 2005. 

As Andy drove us across a particular bridge near Drima, he was telling us that he had only fallen through that particular bridge once... when he was with my Grandpa... 20 years before. 

As he finished the story, the Landcruiser suddenly started falling. 

My heart was in my throat. 

Thank goodness in PNG they make bridges with 3 beams... the chassis of our vehicle was sitting on the middle beam. 

We all got out and with the help from men from the village and a winch (attached to a very small tree) the vehicle made it across. No harm. No foul.

Thanks Top Gear for the walk down memory lane!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chocolate Oreo Cake

Saturday we went to Chattanooga to hang out with TTU friends – can't believe it has been almost 10 years since we were in Cookeville!

Since Jack is still little, we opted to go down just for an evening of dinner and games {everyone else met earlier in the day for lunch and bowling}. 

I hate to show up to a get together empty handed, so I raided my cupboards to see what I could whip up... 

I had a container of Hershey's Cocoa Powder and it had a recipe for a chocolate cake on the back. I also had leftover Oreos from the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bars that I made for Valentines Day. So I decided to make a cake topped with Oreos and Cool Whip. It turned out to be incredibly moist and delicious – definitely a hit.

Chocolate Oreo Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY®'S Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot fudge sauce*
1 cup boiling water
Oreos, 1/2 package chopped (or as many as you want).
Cool Whip

Heat oven to 350º F. 
Spray cooking spray in 9x13x2 pan.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. 
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. 
Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). I found this step to be odd, but I think it made the cake incredibly moist.
Pour batter into prepared pan.  
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 
Cool cake then top with oreos and finally cool whip. 
Serve with a glass of milk.

*Update: I forgot to include the secret ingredient when I first posted. Hot fudge sauce for the win.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2012 Book 7: Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

According to Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know is a comprehensive collection of tales edited by the American essayist, editor, critic, and lecturer, Hamilton Wright Mabie. 

Most of the tales in this compilation were ones I was familiar with. Though there did seem to be some differences in how some of the stories went. For example, this compilation has the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk AND Jack the Giant Killer. I am not sure that the Jack's are the same character but I thought the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk was the one to say, "Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman." However, according to this book, that line belongs to a Giant in Jack the Giant Killer.  Furthermore, this compilation calls Cinderella "Cinderbritches" and Goldilocks "Silver Hair." There were also a few stories I had never heard before, including The White Cat and The Light Princess.

What I gleaned from reading these stories is that fairy tales are extremely gruesome and I am not sure that children should read them. Maybe wait until they are teenagers or pre-teens?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Things (Random, February 2012)

I like to eat cornflakes with vanilla ice cream. It's like an ice cream cone you eat with a spoon.

Daniel and I have a habit of quoting lyrics to songs whenever we hear certain words.
For example... Someone says, "stop" which is followed by one of us saying, "collaborate, and listen. Ice is back with my brand new invention..." 
Now that we have a baby, we sometimes quote lyrics to baby songs. In public. Not cool.

When I was in the fourth grade I wanted to be a truck driver when I grew up. When I was in Jr. High I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. In college I wanted join the Peace Corp and travel the world or go to China and teach English as a second language. What happened? I didn't come even remotely close to doing any of those things.

I find chopping vegetables to be therapeutic. Grating cheese, not so therapeutic.

Lately I have really been wanting to go mountain biking. Not sure how to work that around having a baby. The closest places I know to go are in Chattanooga and Huntsville {somehow I thinking biking in wildlife management areas around here would be frowned upon}. Also there is the whole having to feed my child every couple of hours... I guess I will have to wait for now.

I have been trying to persuade Daniel to sign up for this year's Muddy Buddy race in Nashville. He is not crazy about the idea of getting a bike really muddy!?!?!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentines Day and a Recipe

V-Day was pretty low key for us. On Monday I sent Daniel to pick up groceries since I was in Chattanooga most of the afternoon. At the top of my grocery list I put "Valentines Card." I was being cheeky as I was pretty sure my sweet husband wouldn't forget.

Later that evening, he informed me that I should provide a service for people where I make their shopping lists... for convenience I had written the items in order of where they are located in the store. I figured this would make the shopping experience less of a hassle for Daniel.

Tuesday morning I woke up and found that Daniel had left me a vase of purple tulips on the counter {one of my favorite flowers}. He also had a "card" set out for me. Evidently Walmart only had 4 options for cards left and there was a rather large line of people {presumably men?} waiting to look at said cards. Instead Daniel found a scrap of plywood and wrote me out a letter. In all honesty, it was much sweeter than some generic card.

For him, I made dinner and dessert. A deep dish pizza with homemade crust {one of our faves}.

Followed by Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bars with Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert and a homemade card. There were quite a bit of leftovers so I cut them up into small pieces and sent them to work with Daniel {you can't have that kind of chocolate goodness laying around the house}.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bars
Recipe found at Kevin & Amanda

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/8 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
tsp salt
1 cup (6 oz) chocolate chips
1 pkg Double Stuffed Oreos
1 Family Size (9×13) Brownie mix
1/4 cup hot fudge topping

Preheat oven to 350º F. 
Cream butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. 
Add egg and vanilla.
Mix to thoroughly combine. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Slowly incorporate into the mixer until the flour is just combined. 
Stir in chocolate chips. Spread the cookie dough in the bottom of a 11x7 baking dish that’s been lined with wax paper and sprayed with cooking spray. 
Top cookie dough with a layer of Oreos. 
Mix together brownie mix {according to package directions}.
Add an optional 1/4 cup of hot fudge topping to the mix. 
Pour the brownie batter over the cookie dough and Oreos. 
Bake at 350º F for 45-55 minutes. Let cool completely* before cutting — brownies may still be gooey in the middle when still warm, but will set up perfectly once cooled. 
*I actually cut mine while warm and served with Ice Cream on top. They were messy but so good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We Choose Love...

Be each other's best friend. 
Be your mate's confidant. Their safe haven. 
Do fun things together. 
Have hobbies that you mutually like.
Let your mate do things they like. Without you. 
Do stuff you like. Without them. It's ok. It will give you things to talk about later. 
Share experiences together. 
Try new things. 
If you need something in the relationship, tell the other person. 
Chances are, they are not a mind reader. 
Pray together at dinner time – it will remind you to be thankful at least once a day. 
Try things your partner likes, even if you aren't crazy about them 
{I learned how to shoot a gun and ride a motorcycle}.
Learn something new together {we have learned how to rock climb and scuba dive}.
Dance together in the kitchen.
Always kiss each other goodbye in the morning {even if it's before daylight and one of you is still in bed, asleep}.
Always say "I love you" when you hang up the phone.
Listen when your loved one complains about their job. Or their family. Or whatever. Don't try to fix it {unless they ask}, just let them vent.
If you like kids, have a baby. Or two. Or more. But only when you are both ready. They will make you fall in love all over again. They may also drive you a little crazy at times.
If you aren't into having kids, get a pet.
If you don't like pets, that's okay too.
Email or txt or chat throughout the day.
Get away from technology. 
Stare at the stars.
Lay in a hammock together. 
Learn how to argue.
Sometimes agree to disagree – especially if you both absolutely think you are RIGHT and don't want to give in.
Forgive and forget. I'm serious. Don't bring up the past.
Never bring up the D word.
Let your partner have the remote control.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jack is Three Months Old

Jack started babbling at us this month. If we talk to him with pauses, he will babble during the pauses like he is having a conversation with us. Daniel comes home every day and tells him all about work. Jack is enraptured.

Daniel's dad is convinced that Jack said his first word "Ma." According to Grandpa Moore, Jack said "Ma" three times while looking at me. Daniel and I are not so convinced. Until that word has meaning we don't count it as a word. Besides that we have never purposefully tried to teach him any words, so where would he have learned this from?

Jack loves our Lullabye and Family Folk Song Stations on Pandora. He is a big fan of the song: B-I-N-G-O. One time when I was singing it to him, he kept trying to say "O" every time I got to the "O" part. It was pretty funny.

Little guy has started drooling a LOT. Along with the drool there have been a few days of extra fussiness. Thankfully he is still laid back most of the time. I hope he is not teething already – it is WAY TOO EARLY for such things.

Last month we discovered the magic of a pacifier. This month Jack discovered the magic of his sticking his fist in his mouth.

Jack continues to spit up. Some days we almost make it through without an incident, but other days he makes up for it in spades. He doesn't fit any of the reflux symptoms other than spitting up, so I get the privilege of doing lots of laundry. His and mine.

Our first major road trip was to Searcy, AR this month. It was 8-ish hours in the car. Each way. Jack's maximum tolerance for the car seems to be around 6 hours.

Jack met his Great Grandma Davis {on my dad's side} as well as his Great Aunt Linda and Great Uncle Keith. We are getting closer to having introduced him to all of our extended family. 

Jack's 2 month PED visit went well. He is in the 55th percentile for length (23.5in), 60th percentile for weight (12lbs14oz) and 90th percentile for size of head (16.75in)! Our PED says that just means he has a big brain :) 

Jack did really well and calmed down fairly easily after his immunizations. He was fairly subdued afterward and ended up developing a low-grade fever later that day. He was out of sorts for about 24 hours. We spent lots of extra time cuddling.

Jack experienced his first bout of sickness this month... just a cold. Thankfully labs for RSV came back negative. Jack and I were both sick for about a week. The humidifier and snot sucker thing came in handy.

We took Jack to the movies for the first time this month. We thought he would sleep the entire time. Instead he seemed to be enamored with the big screen. We aren't sure if this is good for him so we may not go back for a while.

We try to eat out weekly. Mostly for our own sanity – I like having a break from cooking and it is nice to do "normal" things that we did before we had Jack. We have even gone out with friends a few times. Most of our friends in town are not "kid people." We completely understand that. We weren't kid people until Jack was born. Now we LOVE our kid. Anyways, our friends were impressed by how chilled out Jack is. According to them, Jack is courteous even when he cries :) Also, one of Daniel's co-workers told us that we probably have a Stewie on our hands... If you are unfamiliar, Stewie is the baby on Family Guy; a 1-year-old prodigy who is obsessed with world domination.

A couple of weeks ago, Jack and I attended my sister's baby shower

Cousin Izzy had a ball playing with and caring for Jack. 
She is going to be an amazing big sister.

Speaking of big sister... on the last day before Jack turned 3 months old {yesterday}, his cousin, Levi was born. We are so excited for my sister and her family and I can't wait to watch these two little boys grow up together.

*I will be writing monthly updates of Jack with pictures of Jack and the Tonka truck on the 11th of each month. One Month Old. Two Months Old.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...