Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year Resolution time already?

With the new year only a day away, I am stressing that I haven't put my resolutions down on paper yet!  Usually I have this done way in advance and think about it for quite some time and here I am doing it last minute.  Each year I try to cover certain areas that I think that can always be improved upon.  For me, this includes health, relationships, spirituality, professional endeavors and personal happiness.  I break my resolutions into these categories and try to think about things that I can do to improve these areas of my life whether it be small gestures or huge undertakings.

Since I am behind, let me just "write it down" right here on this post.  Might as well, right?

Let's start with health.  This one is a toughy as I have been struggling to get on any kind of exercise routine or get some health issues looked into.  It is easy to say that I have put my health on the back burner.  I think this boils down to two things; number one is laziness.  Pure.  Complete. Laziness.  I could give you a million excuses but the reality here is that I have been lazy.  The second reason is that I am always putting others before myself.  I am good about making sure my kids go to all their well baby appointments or see a doctor if they get even a slight sniffle but when it comes to myself, not so much.  In fact, I had not been to the Optometrist in over three years and had been wearing the same contacts for a year and a half up until last week.  Note that the contacts prescribed to me are only supposed to last a month!  Ridiculous, I know!  The only reason I went in at all was because I was making an appointment for my husband to get his eyes checked so he could get new glasses.  What makes this scenario even more obnoxious is that I have health insurance that is crazy good!

The other element of health is that I need to get more physically active.  I need to get on a routine of working out four or five days a week and sticking to it.  I think that this will be much easier to do since I am returning to Corporate America in mid-January.  There is a 24 hour gym only two miles away that I can either go to before or after work.  The hard part for me about being a stay at home mom is that I do not have a set routine.  We just go with the flow.  Of course there were certain things we do each week like go to our playgroup on a Wednesdays, the grocery store on another day, the library on a different day, etc. etc. but other than that ....we just do as we please.  Say we want to go to the bounce house....we go.  Shopping...of course!  Impromtu visit to problem.  This is not to say that I do not like the luxury of doing so, but I am a very regimented person.  I like to have a plan.  This is why I think that when I go back to work, I will find it much easier to put exercise into my schedule.  I will also incorporate healthier eating.  It isn't that I don't eat healthy.  The problem is that I do not eat regularly.  For example, for breakfast I make Jude oatmeal on most days at his request.  He almost always leaves one bite in the bowl.  I eat that last bite for my breakfast.  If the bite is not there, I don't eat anything.  For lunch, I make him something to eat....same routine.  I eat what is left of his food whether it be a quarter of a sandwich or a half of a banana.  When we leave the house and are out and about, I alway get a Large Unsweetened Iced Tea with light ice from Mcdonald's.  (It is my addiction).  Then I come home and prepare dinner and eat a normal dinner with the family.  This is obviously not healthy and far from a balanced diet.  There isn't a number I want to put with this group of resolutions.  There isn't a weight I want to be or a number of inches that I want to lose.  I simply want to get more fit, be healthier and have a higher level of endurance.  It is hard enough keeping up with one toddler, I cannot imagine what I will do when Gwenyth starts running like a crazy person in a fashion similar to her brother!

I think that in order to improve upon my health begininning in 2012, it is important that I:

1.  Find a family doctor.
2.  Make and keep doctors appointments. 
3.  Try to eat three meals and two snacks each day.
4.  Exercise 4-5 times per week.

When it comes to relationships, I am so pleased with the people that I have surrounded myself with.  The people I call my friends are truly my friends and the family members I keep close are unbeatable.  When I think about the elements of my life I appreciate most, it most certainly includes my friends and family.  Each New Year I think about how I want to strengthen these relationships further.  There are times where I think that the hustle and bustle of life take over and I do not show my friends and family enough just how much I appreciate them and feel that I need to make more of an effort to do so.  Some ideas I have are to

1.  Call long-distance friends more regularly.
2.  Send simple hello's or thinking about you's in the mail.
3.  Plan more dates/visits.
4.  Be the best wife/mommy I can be.

I have already began making efforts to do some of the above things I have listed.  For example, I have a July trip planned to see my friend Katie with two of my friends!  I cannot wait!  We have decided that we would do an annual trip together.  This year we are doing NYC, next year is Chicago, then the following year I think we will revisit Vegas! 

When I think about how I can grow spiritually I am sometimes very overwhelmed.  I am constantly amazed at how blessed I am in this wonderful life that I live.  There was a point in my life where I was unhappy and didn't understand why things were not this way or that way or simply the way that I had imagined they would be.  I questioned whether I would ever truly be happy.  I just never felt content or at peace.  Did it ever hit me like a ton of bricks.  I remember it vividly.  I was a Junior in college on my study abroad trip in London, England.  Here I was experiencing places like France, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and other places in the world others only dream to see in their lifetime.  I was becoming friends with the most amazing people I had ever met while still maintaining the great friendships that I had back at school.  I was interning at a school full of refugees who had left a war stricken country and seen their families murdered and I thought I had something to be unhappy about?  I walked through the city and saw others my age who were homeless and cold who may not have had a hot meal or warm shower in months possiblt and I was unhappy? 

That was my wake up moment.  I could not believe that I had the nerve to be unhappy!  I had an overwhelming sense of guilt for ever feeling sorry for myself.  From that moment, I made it a point to always tell myself that regardless of whatever my situation is, there is someone out there who is so much worse off.  If anyone were to ask me what my personal best life experience has been, I would say it was my study abroad experience.  During that experience I grew leaps and bounds on the inside. If I said I felt a physical transformation from this realization that took place, you might not believe me, but I did.  I felt it in my attitude, my outlook and most of all my heart.  My heart grew bigger and I am ever grateful for it. 

During the time after I had this revelation, I had never felt closer to God than the time following this event.  It lasted quite some time; years even.  But now, even though I remember this experience so well, there are times when it gets away from me.  There are times I forget to count my blessings on a daily basis.  I am always thankful for my blessings but it's not enough.  I sometimes forget to say my prayers, I fail to remember that I don't always have to have a plan or a solution and that I should put my trust in Him, and I don't always put Him first.

My plan for the coming year is to

1.  Spend more time with God through prayer.
2.  Count my blessings daily.
3.  Accept His plan without question.

Since I am reentering the work force after over a year and a half, I need to think about the goals that I must set as a professional.  I have always set my standards high and this time is no different.  I am entering unchartered territory and a field that is very new to me.  This is why it is more important than ever to make certain that I am successful.  Not only is it important to me to be a successful professional in the corporate world again, but it is more important for me to be a professional working mother in a corporate world without losing the work and home balance.  I know how fortunate I am to get the opportunity to start a career at a company of this calibur in todays economy.  There are so many people scouring for jobs anywhere and I was blessed with this opportunity.  Therefore, I think that some excellent goals would be to

1.  Quickly learn and enhance my skills as an Underwriter.
2.  Have a positive performance review.
3.  Build strong relationships with colleagues.
4.  Pursue continuing education in the field.

As far as my personal happiness goes, I think that overall I am in a very good place.  I think about what could make me even happier and it boils down to mapping out the things that make me happiest.  This includes my family and friends and also doing more of the things that I enjoy.  What do I enjoy?  I love traveling, DIY, blogging and party planning!  Also, the one area that makes me happiest is making other people happy and doing for others.  Therefore this is an easy one.

1.  Plan a kick-butt party for Jude's 3rd Birthday, Gwenyth's 1st Birthday and Clint's 30th!
2.  Plan a family vacation.
3.  Plan a visit to my friends in Chicago for just me!
4.  Thrift and refinish furniture pieces to incorporate into our home.
5.  Do more sewing projects.
6.  Find ways to give back.
7.  Blog about all of the above!!!!!

There you have it.  I am not sure if everyone puts that much thought into their resolutions, but I map it out quite extensively and put a great deal of thought into it.  I am interested to hear what types of things you put on your list or if yuor method is similar at all to mine!  Are they more clear cut or more vague? 

Since I am a crazy list maker, I will have to get out my notebook and write all of these down in it so I access to it there as well as on my iPad and in my phone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Have you said thank you?

Each year we host Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We invite our parents as well as Clint's sister and her hubby and kids. Only fourteen of us all together. This year I found a saying on Pinterest and printed it on card stock and framed it. I thought it was though provoking and fitting for a Thanksgiving celebration. Here it is. What do you think? Have you taken the time to thank Him?

Friday, December 2, 2011

So much to blog about...

It was pointed out to me recently that it has been quite some time since my last post. (Thanks Lisa)! =) I am always well aware of the time lapse but as I said many times before, football season in the Galvas House is insane in the membrane! Now that the season has ended, I have returned from my stint away and have plenty to blog about in the coming days, weeks, months, etc. I have been making a list throughout the season so that I was sure to remember what I wanted to blog about but just didn't have the time to do at that moment. So be expecting posts to begin coming consistently again.

As for now I had to share that Jude has acquired a new friend in the form of a Box Elder bug today. (Yuck). I despise this type of bug as they are around by the crap loads twice a year in our area. During that time you can often find me spraying them with the hose trying to drown them or make them miserable or spraying them with some homemade concoction of dish soap and lemon juice. Usually they are gone by now but somehow Jude has found one and apparently he believes it to be one of his BFF's. Usually I would catch it and throw it outside but it's somehow adorable.

He introduced me to "Buggy" as he is so creatively called, this morning. He caught him last night and placed him in Clint's case for his glasses where it slept all night. When Jude woke up he brought it to me and asked me what was in there. I said "nothing". He responded "nah ugh" and opened it up to reveal his treasure. (Buggy). He literally played with him all day long minus the time we were away from home to stop and see Grandma and go to the grocery store. Not to say that he didn't beg to take him and have a melt down when I refused to let him take it.

I felt very bad for the bug all day having to be handled by Jude. I was surprised he was still living by dinner time. I did notice he was limping and missing a leg but he was still alive. That was saying a lot. Sadly though, we had a visit from a football coach friend and his son where Jude insisted on showing Buggy off. By the end of the visit, Buggy was lifeless. Needless to say, I didn't think he stood a chance. I was in shock he lasted as long as he did. I was (surprisingly) sad at his passing since Jude had gotten so attached and even stated that he was part of our family. Luckily, we had a great day with Buggy and even had caught a few pictures of Jude and buggy together. Buggy has no idea how much I appreciated his time spent entertaining Jude today.

Take a look below at the pics. Notice that Buggy is missing a leg in his portrait and Jude holding his home (eyeglass case) proudly.

Oh, the joys of parenting never end.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hair diddies from felt rosettes

There are a gazillion tutorials on how to make felt rosettes but here is how I do it.  I made a few yesterday so that I could make some hair diddies for Gwenyth in black and white that she could wear to the football games.  I also made a few for my niece who started preschool this year. 

To get started, I cut a square out of the felt.

Then simply make a swirl design with a marker, pen or pencil and cut along the line.
You do not have to actually draw it out, I usually don't but for tutorial purposes, I did.

You will end up with this.

 Take the outside part of the swirl and begin rolling it until you reach the center of the swirl.

Use a hot glue gun to glue the end of the swirl to the back of the rosette.  It's amazing how it works out...but you will be left with the perfect end to glue into place. 
 I often like to cut out a cirle to glue on the backside for extra security and so it doesn't snag ones hair. 

 Here is the finished product.

I chose the two smallest ones and glued them onto a piece of felt and put a dab of glue to fuse them together as well. 

Then, I attached a clip for using it in your hair and it was complete.

So simple and cheap, it's sickening.  It takes maybe a total of five minutes to make a rosette and if you have a hot glue gun, you can make four small rosettes for about fifty cents.

These rosettes are not only cute in hair, but also on pillows and wreaths as well!

Butternut Squash Puree

It's baby food making time!  It is hard to believe that in one short month, our little girl will already be eating solids.  I decided to get a jump start on the baby food making and made her butternut squash puree this week.  I highly recommend making baby food.  Not only is it a cinch and obviously healthier, but it is delicious as well.  Everytime I make it, I can never resist spooning myself a small bowl full as well.

I especially am fortunate that she was born just in time to enjoy all the wonderful foods that fall has to offer.  Not only will we be making a variety of squashes, but there will be pumpkin and sweet potatoes in the freezer as well!  As I did with Jude, I believe that her first food will be avacado.  Jude loved it and I hope she does as well.  Those babies are chock full of healthy yummyness.  Like bananas, avacoados are served to babies simply mashed until creamy.  No cooking necessary.  It is not uncommon to find either a banana or avacado in my diaper bag once the kiddos start to eat. They are so convenient for taking to restaurants.  Simply ask the server for a plate or bowl, peel and mash away!   

Like I said, baby food making is a cinch.  For this butternut squash puree, you simply preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the squash in half exposing the flesh, scoop out the seeds and place face down onto a baking sheet.  You fill the pan with about an inch and a half of water and bake for approximately 40-50 minutes.  The shell of the squash will pucker and brown.  Once it is done baking, remove the "meat" and scoop into a blender.  Puree until it is smooth and creamy.  Transfer to ice cube trays or cubes made especially for baby food and freeze.  Ta da....BABY FOOD!

Three squash will make about (24) two ounce containers of baby food depending on the size of your squash.  I made twenty because I devoured the other four ounces myself.

Cut the squash in half.  This can be rather difficult as the shell is hard.

Place face down after scooping out the seeds.

Bake and they look like this when done.


 And freeze!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quick vase update

I have had these thress vases for some time.  They were used as part of one of the centerpieces from our wedding.  I love the color an the metallic finish, but they no longer went with the color scheme in our  home.  When  we first moved into our house, the living/dining room area contained red accents, now it is more blues and greens, so these needed to be removed from the space.  Rather than give them back to my mother in law for the greenhouse, I took them out to the garage and gave them a quick update.  I didn't want to get rid of them because I love the shape and they hold my fake grasses perfectly. 

Here is the before:

 And here is the after with a coat of spray paint!

And here they are in their spot.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Snail Mail shouldn't be a thing of the past.

I love snail mail.  There is nothing like getting something in the mail that isn't a bill or some sort of credit card offer.  Wouldn't you agree?  Whether it be a simple letter or a card for a birthday, anniversary, holiday or a package with a gift enclosed, there is nothing quite like it.  When someone sends snail mail, you know much more went into it.  It begins with them thinking about you, they drove to the store, picked the perfect card, wrote in it, stuffed the card into the envelope, licked the icky tasting envelope, spent money on a stamp and took it to the mailbox.  I worry that my kid's generation will miss out on this feeling. 

To try to avoid this, I do my best to make sure that Jude understands its importance.  Not only do we usually send out Thank you, Easter, Halloween and other holiday cards especially from him to his little buddies and cousins, but I also have him help me send out other mail as well.

I love how excited he gets about it!  He gets into his tractor with all the mail by his side and drives down the driveway with me following.  Then he positions his tractor perfectly so her can reach and place them in there himself. 

And some of them get a little extra love (spit).  <3

Jjajang myun is Yum!

Those of you who know me personally know that I am half Korean.  My mother is Korean.  Her and my dad met while he was stationed there for the Air Force.  When my brother and I were born we moved from base to base living in Washington, Guam, Korea several times....eventually, we made our way to Oscoda, MI.  When there was news that the base in Oscoda was closing, my mom pushed my dad to get out of the military so that my brother and I could go to middle school and high school without having to move several times. 

I am so fortunate to have a Korean mother for several reasons, but one of them is that it has exposed me to some delicious foods!  I will never forget how throughout school all my friends who came over knew that they could expect a rice cooker full of sticky rice and they loved it.  I have to say though, my most favorite meal is Jjajang Myun!  If you haven't tried it, you should!  Find your nearest Korean restaurant and order it or hit up your local Asian market and buy the ingredients and make it yourself!  It is amazing!  I know that the looks of it is a bit off putting, but you will not regret it once you taste it.  The sauce is black so that is what throws people off a bit, but it is made of soy beans which is where it gets its color.  The sauce is full of vegetables which is present in most Korean dishes.

I recently have had the urge to make more Korean dishes and stumbled upon a GREAT blog called Maangchi.  Maangchi posts all of the traditional dishes that I had throughout my childhood and I am in love with the blog.  She also has a list of Korean markets by state under her cooking tab.  The list is very incomplete though which is understandable considering she can't know where all of them are when she is from New York.  For those living in Genesse County, the best one is on Corunna Road in Flint called the Seoul Market.  There are several throughout Lansing and East Lansing as well. 

Anyway, back to the Jjajang Myun.  It is my fave! (like I said).  But, I had never made it myself so I went to Maangchi and set out on making it!  I followed this recipe but had to make a few changes....such as using yellow squash instead of zuchini because I thought I had some but I didn't.  I didn't have any asian radish either.  Also, I used regular potatoes in liue of sweet.  This is one of those meals where you can swap ingredients easily.  For example, many places use shrimp in lieu of pork, and I am sure I will make it with chicken in the future.  Proteins can always be swapped in this recipe. 

I thought that it turned out wonderfully and Clint ate his and gave a great review as well.  If any one decides to give it a whirl, let me know what you thought whether you ordered it or made it.

For those of you going to make it yourself, here is a picture of the Korean ingredients and what they look like if you are looking for them in the markets.  I am sure brands vary from store to store, but these are popular.

 The first item is sesame oil and the second is the Jjajang sauce.

 These are the noodles called the myun.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pillow Revamp

The pillows on our couch were looking way too shabby.  First of all, they did not offer much contrast as they are the pillows that came with and coordinate with our couch.  Second, they had seen better days as they have had to endure the wrath of two dogs, being used as support during late night feedings, and being thrown at the members of our household by Clint as he sometimes finds it really funny to throw the pillows at people when they least suspect it. 

Anyhow, I knew that our couch needed new and improved pillows.  I didn't want to get rid of them completely, but wanted to add some and revamp some of the coordinating ones.  For the revamped ones, I did this by ripping the seams of some of them and adding stuffing to them and stitching them back up.  For the new ones, I went to JoAnn's and bought two fabrics and made four pillow shells.  I stuffed them using the stuffing from two of the couch pillows I was omitting from our decor.  This made the project very thrifty!  With the use of my 40% off coupons I was able to make four pillows for under $10!  I do have a little bit of material left over that I plan to use to make some rosettes with. 

This project was fun and I think it turned our nicely, don't you?  Take a look for yourself!
Here is the before:

 And here are a few after shots:

Gwenyth's Baptism and Brunch

Our little angel, Gwenyth had her Baptism on August 7th and it was such a beautiful ceremony.  It was held at St. Michaels in New Lothrop which is the church we are members of.  It is where we attended throughout college, where I had my first Communion and beacme Catholic, where we were married, and where Jude was Baptised.  We were blessed to share the day with close family and friends.  We chose her Godparents just as carefully as we did for Jude and chose our closest friend Steve for the Godfather and my husbands sister, Amanda as her Godmother.  We were ecstatic to see how honored they were when we approached them about taking on the role.  We truly are blessed by the great people who are in our lives.  After the ceremony, we held a brunch at our home and it turned out beautiful.  This is one party I would say I am most proud of. 

I wanted it to be more elegant than a cookout which is what we had for Jude's big day.  I think I wanted it to be more girly and feminine.  Therefore, we had cloth tablecloths, runners and floral centerpieces.  And as usual, I stayed up the entire night before preparing food and working on last minute details such as the cooridnating food cards.

The menu was so delicioous and yummy and I tried to keep it simple, which is often quite hard for me.  I loved how everything turned out and it all looked just so.....pretty!  I borrowed beautiful ornate chafing dishes for the food to keep warm in and bought matching containers for the drinks to be poured from.  Also, we had a big tent in case it rained that also added to the elegance of everything.  As for the menu, we had homemade biscuits and gravy, waffles with a homemade blueberry sauce (this sauce was ridiculous with all it's yummyness), Baked Stuffed French Toast, Roasted Potatoes, Summer Fruit Salad, Individual Omelet cups, Ham, assorted scones, coffee cake and muffins, individual fruit and yogurt parfaits topped with granola and Aunt Rita's yummy delicious cake!

It was such a wonderful day. We cannot be happier with the decision we have made to raise our children in a faithful, loving family with Christian beliefs. We hope that by with the guidance we provide them, as well as their Godparents, they will continue on the same path and continue to be as blessed as they were on the day of their Baptisms.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Overnight to Chicago

I decided to take both kids to Chicago for  weekend getaway ALL BY MYSELF!  Might not seem like a big deal but traveling on a train with an infant and a toddler is very hard work when you consider luggage, stroller, snacks, and two kids!  Whew!  It was tough at times but so well worth it!  We all had such a great time and Jude cannot stop talking about the Aquarium (Shedd) and how much fun the splashy water place was!  There were a few moments on the train during the trip back that I thought I was going to completely lose my mind but we got through it and made so many wonderful memories.  We stayed with one of my friends from college, Andrea who is the best hostess.  She took us around everywhere and was so helpful with the kids! 

I thought I would share some photos from our trip.

Jude in front of the sign at our departing station in Durand, MI. 
He was so thrilled to know that he was going to be riding on a train!

Group pic.
One of the surprises I brought to entertain him on the train.
Napper #1.

Napper #2.  Even better!

We went right to Shedd and Jude had to put his hands into the water in the fountain outside.

What an angel.
He loved the Aquarium!

He has the absolute best smile I have ever seen.

Our hostess, Andrea! 

This was all of our favorite part of Shedd!  The 4D experience!
Jude adores Andrea's dog, Butterball!  He spoils him with endless amounts of treats!
Subway ride!

I adore this boy!

Gwenyth taking it all in!

Napper #1.  (Praise God)!
Napper #2.  (Even better)!