Light steps and a joyful heart

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

-2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Beginning another school year was daunting for me. I had my first year of working with kids in the books so this year should just be easy, right? Erh..well, then crept up the increasing responsibilities and the fears that I am not doing enough for some of my kids who have so many communication needs. My mom gave me a devotional book called “Jesus Calling,” with daily devotionals that are relevant to a woman’s life. I have read it every morning before work up to this point and it has been shaping my perspective on this new school year. I am slowly allowing joy to replace fear, worry and anxiety. I am trying to give these work-related insecurities to God and let my interactions with the kids and my co-workers be guided by love and care. Light steps and a joyful heart is my reining mantra as I trudge through my day-to-day duties.

In other news…

The weekends around here have been busy! This is probably why it took a full month for me to post on here again. Nick and I traveled to St. Charles, Illinois to visit my brother and his wife for my 25th birthday. Their soon-to-be little one is due Christmas day and Jess looks AH-MAZING pregnant. She is all cute little belly and athletic little legs. (I think fall is the perfect time to be pregnant. Mommy jeans and over-sized sweaters anyone?) We watched Penn State football, watched the guys play in Aaron’s work softball game and ate out for my birthday. I also literally cried with happiness seeing my dog niece, Nellie. I think I have an unusual attachment to her that stems from never having a dog of my own while growing up.

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25! Thanks for showering me with sweet surprises all week long, Nick!
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That face! Her eye is a little crooked, she walks with a wiggle and I love her.
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Very grateful for a brother and sister-in-law.

Then my parents flew to St. Louis to visit for a weekend. Jimbo takes a week off in the fall and they decided to visit their adult children in the Midwest. We took them to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game in the city, visited the late prez Ulysses S. Grant’s home, played cards and ate good food. Then they hopped the train off to Chicago to visit Aaron. Mom made meals and snacks so that even when they physically left, their presence remained in food form in the kitchen.

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That view though! Beautiful day via Busch Stadium.
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3 of my favorite people squished all around me.

In other news, Nick got me a gym membership right across the street from my townhouse. It’s been a welcome change in the form of exercise and I’ve been literally laughing out loud watching Ellen Degeneres when I am running on the treadmill. I’ve been busy in the kitchen as well. Check out below for my latest creations and links to the recipes.

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http://natashaskitchen.com/2014/04/11/pineapple-fried-rice-recipe/

Pineapple Fried Rice: I added chicken to the mixture and nixed the ginger and sesame oil (14$ tiny bottle was not in my budget). It still turned out deliciously tasty with the pineapple and red bell pepper.

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http://www.crazyforcrust.com/2013/09/peanut-butter-pumpkin-bread/

Peanut butter chocolate chip pumpkin bread: So many things I love whipped into a delicious, moist bread. I made this and then ate a slice every night for 9 days until it was gone. The greek yogurt, pumpkin puree and peanut butter ensure that it is not a crumbly bread.

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http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/06/reeses-pieces-soft-peanut-butter-cookies.html

Reese’s pieces soft peanut butter cookies: Maybe I was on a peanut butter kick this month? I made these cookies as a birthday treat for my coworkers. They loved them! Jam-packed with choco chips and Reese’s pieces. Just looking at the pictures of these makes me hungry.

 

My heart is happy after reading back over this post and the joys of the past month. Trucking forward towards October, all things fall, weddings, baby showers, football and more adventures in the kitchen.

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“Valentimes” Day

Only one snow day this past week which left 4 actual days of work. And on Thursday, it reached 51 degrees, while back in PA my family and friends were getting pounded with 12+ inches of snow, rain and sleet. It was a fun week to work in an early childhood center, with Valentine’s day coming up. We usually give the kids a “party day” and it’s chaotic and hilarious to see how excited the kids get. We talked about who we love in therapy and superheroes ranked pretty high for my kids. In my  sessions this week, we made “Valentimes” for moms and dads (pretty common for my kids to pronounce it this way) and made our own “Love Monster” after reading the adorable children’s book by Rachel Bright. Check them out below.

vday crafts

After all of my car troubles, Nick decided to drive to my place this weekend. I told him that I would make us a 3 course Valentine’s meal. I go to his place most weekends, so I really enjoy cooking in my own kitchen when I have the chance. I borrowed a few of the recipes below from Pinterest and will share the links. Prep started Thursday night when I headed to Aldi’s and stacked my cart with ingredients. If you know me, you know that I love dessert so let’s start there. The first thing I made, Oreo Bomb Cake from “The View from 510” blog, needed to be in the frig for 8 hours so I decided to make it the night before. Here is a before shot on the left showing the layers that make up this tasty dessert. On the right is the finished shot, with a huge chunk taken out because I had already served it to Nick. (He gave two thumbs up but requested a smaller piece next time!)

precakecake

Friday after work, I hustled into the kitchen to get started on the appetizer and meal portions. First up, a spinach salad with chopped almonds and pecans and freshly sliced strawberries. I made an Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey Vinaigrette Dressing with a few spare ingredients that I found in my kitchen. When grocery shopping, a salad dressing didn’t really cross my mind. Thank God for the internet!  Below is the dressing in the works. I used my heart shaped measuring spoons that were party favors from my good friend Theresa’s bridal shower last year. Perfect for this Valentine’s day creation!

dressingsalad

The main course was my favorite part by far. Paired with a little Pinot Grigio, it was filling and flavorful. I made Crock Pot Sausage and Cheese Tortellini from the “Ice Cream with a Fork” blog. The sausage needed to be browned ahead of time but otherwise it was an easy meal, with all ingredients in the crockpot for 4 hours with a lid and the final half hour without the lid. This allowed the sauce to thicken up at the end. The recipe made plenty and we will be eating the rest later this weekend. The before picture shows the spoonfuls of cream cheese. The after picture was taken after we had actually eaten. I almost forgot to catch a shot of the meal!

mealtort

All in all, I’d say the “Valentimes” meal was a success. It was really nice to enjoy a meal over a long stretch of time (Nick insists it was too long of a stretch). A meal also tastes really good when you know the prep that went into it. Given that it’a three day weekend, I am glad to have two more days to relax. We are currently watching the movie, “I Love You, Man,” on TV and Nick is doing his best impersonations of “Slappin’ da bass mon.” Happy Weekend Everyone!

dinnernick

What happens on my 7th snow day….

That’s right. Today is my 7th snow day and 6th snow day since returning from Christmas break. I’ve almost had off as many days in the past month, as I have had school! Craziness. When these snow days first started, I was getting antsy. I might be stuck in school until the end of June at this rate. A few teachers in my building promised me that we will get a few of these days forgiven if we make it to 10. So at this point, I am praying for 3 more snow days and forgiveness!

These snow days, however, have given me time to work on some of my ‘hobbies.’ I’ve read two books (for pleasure, not textbooks) in the past 3 weeks. I’ve painted a picture. I’ve tried a handful of my mom’s recipes in my own kitchen. I’ve planned for my speech and language therapy sessions by creating themed weeks (this week should be Pirates week, if we ever have school). I traveled back to PA over the weekend (more on that later). And I’ve wrestled with the idea of starting a blog. Who is going to read it? What will I even write about? These are both questions I’ve pondered, but I’ve decided to quit worrying and just do it.

I was a journalism major my freshman year in college and the desire to write still burns within me. The most writing I do these days are on greeting cards and IEP goals for my speech kids. Hopefully this blog will be a way to share funny little joys from my days as a speech-language pathologist, tasty recipes that I’ve tried and to keep my family and friends in the loop on what I’ve been up to.

For starters, I was back in PA this weekend to attend and help out at one of my dearest friend (and pseudo-big sister’s) baby shower. Sue Lebow, has been a friend since birth and has seen me in my most awkward and annoying phases. She still loves me and I am so thankful for her! In March, she will be giving birth to a baby girl–Molly Moran. I probably will not be back then to see baby Mo so I decided to fly in this weekend to shower her with love ahead of time. This little girl is SO loved. It was also amazing to see my parents, Grandma, aunts and uncles and some of my best friends over the weekend, too. The Super Bowl wasn’t a total disappointment since my mom made crab and artichoke dip and my college friends were around to play a game of Loaded Questions against.

The picture posted is Sue and I at her shower. Baby Mo is growing bigger and healthier! So excited to be an aunt.

A quote that I have been repeating in my head lately reads:

“Take it all one day at a time and enjoy the journey.” -Kristi Bartlett

This quote is going to guide my posts. I want to take it all in, one day at a time and be thankful for this beautiful life that I’ve been given. If you read this post, THANK YOU. You are one of my first blog readers. Hopefully you will return again.

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