Birthday Pumpkin Pickin’

The end of September means the official start of Autumn and Matt’s birthday!  My wonderful in-laws came down for the weekend to watch Aviana last night so we could go out to celebrate, baby free.  During the day saturday, before our big night out,  we decided to take our in-laws to our favorite little farm nearby for some fall fun!

Hope you all are enjoying your own, fall family fun 🙂

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Refining Talent

I stop in the bathroom to wash my hands, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The smudge of charcoal on my forehead has probably been there for at least two hours, since I’ve been in the studio for the last three. I smile at how typical it is and rub it off with a paper towel.

Out in the hallway, on the way to my locker, I look at the critique going on. They’re putting up work for the first time this semester, and I silently judge the quality and composition of the paintings just hung. Then I happily drop off my portfolio in my locker, glad to lighten the load before the walk back to my apartment. I stop in the back of the art building to visit some friends in the wood shop, all of them covered in sawdust that they throw on me while they show off the progress of their work.

I can’t believe this has become normal. It’s never where I expected to be, but now I can’t imagine anything different. Or anything I could love more.

Amidst all the overwhelming stress, challenge, and competition I’ve experienced in becoming an art student, there are moments of total joy like nothing else. Even the moments during critiques when I want to cry, when I cut my finger for the fourth time of the day on an X-Acto knife, when I just can’t get the perspective right on a drawing- It is completely worth it. Through it, I’m being refined.

Out of my three studio classes this semester, Life Drawing has been my favorite so far. Here’s a few, more to come. They’re not perfect, but neither am I. What matters is I’m growing daily, and surrounded by more inspiration than I know what to do with. And because of that I couldn’t be happier.
Bekah

Don’t Steal my Sunshine

On Friday afternoon, after work, I rushed to my housing inspection.  Both anxious and excited, I put on a friendly smile and introduced myself to the inspection duo.  Their over-friendliness and thorough explanations made me relieved that I had not received my realtor’s coupon for their competitors sooner.

We started in the basement and went over what needed more attention, what was really impressive about the facilities, and what I would have to do if I one day wanted a kiln down there to make pottery.

As a first-time homebuyer and going into this all by myself, I found the “flaws” of my future home overwhelming. The inspectors were kind and seemed to sense my worry, telling me that I had myself “a really nice little home”. I enjoyed the inspection, as it was the most time I had spent in the home– walking around and discovering things, on my own.The sellers had not been negotiable in the price of the home, which I found frustrating and overbearing when I had made my offer. Having watched the market for months, I knew that I was paying top-dollar for my home, but had not seen one that fit my wants and needs more.  This non-negotiable attitude is what worries me tonight. During the inspection, the immediate need for a new roof was discovered. An active leak into the garage, that had been active for some time, is all it took to “steal my sunshine”.

My realtor, after having been at another appointment, showed up shortly after this problem was discovered. She emphasized to the inspectors how vital it was that they include the need of a new roof in the inspection report.

I worry because I love the house so much but I know that I should withdraw my offer if they do not offer money towards a new roof or replace it themselves.

 

Just when I thought the hard part of all of this was over…

❤ Kate

Where’s the Finish Line?

It’s Saturday.  Usually, I keep my mind focused on Saturday because it means freedom and a chance to relax away from my plus forty hour a week job in an urban school district.  But, today is a lock-down day.  My friends know “lock-down day” well; it means I’m not communicating with anyone all day and focusing solely on writing my Master’s thesis.  I find that these days are hard to come by as the weekends fill up so quickly.  I try desperately during the week to have the motivation to write, but I’m so exhausted after work I only want to be with my fiancee, Rick and cuddle my dog, Bella.  So, I dedicate mandated weekends to this endeavor.

I’ve been working on a Master’s degree from Penn State part time for the last three years.  I have finished all of my course work, and my thesis is the only thing between me and graduation.  “Only thing” sounds so much less intimidating than I am finding it to be.  My topic focuses on how the subversive collegiate generation of the 1920s was a catalyst for social change in America.  You’re enthralled right now, huh?  I know; so, imagine having to write 60+ pages on it.  In all honesty, it is a good topic.  It truly is interesting how college students of the 20’s broke barriers that no other generation had broken before.  The 20’s do fascinate me.  It was an era of new style, originality, rebellious activity and progress.  It was an infamous age.  I do love my topic, so it isn’t that.  It is all about my time.  Because, there is no time…

We strive through life to not just do the things that we choose to pursue, but to do them well.  I sent in the first three chapters of my thesis to my first reader, a professor I respect and am fond of.  He returned  the first chapter with countless comments and corrections.  My heart sank; I broke down to Rick in tears, doubting my ability to finish.  I spent five hours of my day fixing those errors.  I then took a break and walked Bella.  It was a beautiful fall day today, and as I was walking, the sky filled with that heavenly glow it gets right before the sun falls.  I was filled with frustration at that point; but, when looking up at that gorgeous sky, I couldn’t help but feel peace.

I may not finish my thesis this fall, and I may not be able to accept my diploma in December, but even if it takes me months longer than I planned, I’ll prevail.  After all, nothing worth having in this world comes easily, right?  Below is a picture of my work station, as you can see I have sacrificed the kitchen table my grandparents passed down to me for scholarly research.  I like to think they would be proud!

I do enjoy writing, and I hope to write again soon.  If not, feel free to blame Penn State; these days they won’t even notice. 😉

Christy

I’m Going to Miss This

Thursday night my husband and I were talking about the upcoming weekend.  After I got off work Saturday morning we would leave for my parents.  After arriving, we would head straight to Knoebels  (an amusement park) and eat dinner the four of us and Aviana at a restaurant there.  Sunday, we would head to the State Fair.  My parents offered to watch Aviana so Matt and I could enjoy the fair for the day together.    Knoebels and the State Fair are two places where I have many happy childhood memories and I try to get back to once a year.

I have off Fridays so it’s always Mommy and Aviana day.   I am part of a playgroup with five other women and their babies and we meet on Fridays.  We decided to meet at a park since it was GORGEOUS out and enjoy the day.  Aviana was having a great time and was climbing everything!  She has no fear.  I was exhausted by the end and felt like I’d spent a couple hours at the gym!   Her nose was running a little and I contributed that to her new tooth coming in (tooth #5).  Around noon, she wanted me to pick her up and then she put her head on my shoulder and started to fall asleep so we left.   Here are some pictures of her at the park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She usually sleeps two hours and she slept three.   After the third hour when she stirred a little so I decided just to go in and check on her, since it’s so rare that she naps that long.  She was burning up!!!  I was shaking, I checked her temperature 102.8.

I had so much anxiety and worry that I couldn’t sleep until around midnight.  Matt set his alarm clock for 2am so we could check her temperature and sent me back to bed and said he would stay with her since I had to work.  At 3:30am after tossing and turning for over an hour I checked on them. A precious sight, Matt sleeping by Aviana’s bed, Stewy (our yorkipoo), sleeping next to him.

Needless to say our weekend plans changed.  I came home from work to my poor sick little girl, with her feverish eyes and her runny nose.  We read books and played with puzzles.  We rocked and rocked in her room.  It was like the early days, back when she cuddled, she rarely cuddles anymore, just wants to be up running around, exploring the world.   There is a country song, by Trace Adkins, that started to play in my head as I rocked her.  The lyrics go like this,

“You’re going to miss this  You’re going to want this back  You’re going to wish these days  Hadn’t gone by so fast  These are some good times  So take a good look around  You may not know it now  But you’re going to miss this”

I thought about our weekend plans.  Rocking her, her head on my shoulder, this is what I’m going to miss.  Kissing her beautiful head and singing her songs, it’s worth all the cancelled plans.

Cuddle your babies….you are going to miss this!

Laura 😉

Interweaved

“I’m gonna braid our hair together so we never have to be apart.”

My best friend Rose and I enjoy playing around with photography type things. We’re a little amateur at it sometimes, but these are pretty fun. We put both of our hair in one braid and captured some moments with my beautiful Canon Rebel T3.

Bekah

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Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

One of my favorite comfort foods my mother made for us growing up was her Chicken Rice Casserole. I craved it yesterday but decided to put my own twist on it and make it a bit more healthy and created a Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole. For those of you who haven’t heard of Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) it’s a nutritional powerhouse that can be used in place of rice. If fact, Matt and I never cook with rice anymore, having replaced Quinoa with rice in every recipe. Quinoa has a bit more of a nutty flavor than rice, is a bit chewy, and very very healthy. It’s full of protein, in fact I’ve read that a cup of Quinoa has more protein than an egg. It’s low in cholesterol, rich in fiber, and gluten-free, so really there is no reason not to at least give it a try!! I also have to express my dislike for MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). We try to avoid it so I was super excited to find an organic cream of chicken soup that does not contain it (because most do!!)

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Ingredients

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cut into bite size pieces)

2 cups of quinoa (check your bag/box of quinoa, you may have to rinse it first)

2 cups of milk

1 box, 12 ounces of Organic Cream of Chicken Soup (we used Pacific Natural Foods brand)

1 cup of vegetable broth (if you like a creamier casserole then use another Cream of Chicken soup in place of the broth)

3 cups of frozen broccoli

1/4 of a teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 of cup of cheddar cheese or more if you want it extra cheesy!

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Combine the milk, quinoa, soup, vegetable broth, broccoli, and black pepper. Mix the ingredients well.

3. Pour the mixture into a l9x13 inch glass baking dish.

4. Add the chicken pieces.

5. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 90 minutes. I stirred the mixture about halfway through. Cook until quinoa is fully cooked, it will be moist and sticky, similar to cooked rice.

6. Remove the aluminum foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes

7. Remove from oven, add cheese on top and let stand for 10 minutes.

8. Serve!

Now you have a delicious meal that includes meat, grains, and veggies. Enjoy!

Laura 😉