Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Craft Hope: Orphan Outreach Bracelets. Please Join Me!

I randomly stumbled across a pretty fantastic blog today:  Craft Hope.  Their aim is to share homemade crafts with those who need them most.  They are currently on Project 12 and the goal is to provide bracelets to orphans in Russia.  They give plenty of details about the dire state of affairs in Russia, but I'll just share a few:

Photo from Craft Hope

There are currently 750,000 children in the Russian orphanage system and hundreds of thousands more who are homeless in Russia.  With the final numbers totaling over 1 million.

Over 60% of the girl orphans become prostitutes and 70% of male orphans become hardened criminals.

The number of children in Russia without parental care has more than doubled in the last 10 years, even though birth rates have fallen.

Photo from Craft Hope

So what can we do to help?
Orphan Outreach and WCSG, a Christian Radio station in Grand Rapids, MI are teaming up to help children in Russia.  They'll be working at St. Petersburg's Crisis Center to help meet the physical and emotional needs of children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.  They're also taking homemade bracelets to give to the children.  And that's where we come in.  All you have to do is make bracelets.  Hemp bracelets.  Bead bracelets.  Woven string bracelets.  Fabric bracelets.  They can be any type and any size, for any age range (they help kids ages 4-18+) so long as they're homemade.
Photo from Craft Hope.

Anyone can do this.  There isn't a particular skill set required, or material, or anything.  So how about we join forces and put a smile on a child's face?

They are accepting bracelets until June 15th, which gives me plenty of time to crank out some after finals.  I'll be mailing a box of however many I can get together...and friends, be forewarned...I will be enlisting you!  If you're in the Dallas area, I'll mail any you create!  Just let me know.

If you're not in Dallas, you can mail your bracelets to:

Carin Vogelzang
630 Griswold SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
Check out the Craft Hope website for more information!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekday Meals: Easy Drop Biscuits

There is virtually nothing in my pantry or refrigerator right now.  Literally nothing.
It's actually a little sad how empty my refrigerator is, but a girl's gotta eat somehow.
Monday morning, I woke up to gray dreary skies and 1/3 of a my income tax final to finish.  The only thing that seemed appropriate on such a day was coffee and biscuits.  However, I knew that whipping something up out of the ingredients I had on hand was going to be a challenge to say the least.  All Recipes to the rescue.
They have a neat function where you can search for recipes based on particular ingredients and pick what type of meal you want to cook.  And no lie, these are the ingredients I typed:

Sour Cream.

I wasn't expecting much.  I mean, I didn't even have eggs.
But lo and behold, I stumbled upon the best slightly sweet biscuits I've ever found.  You can find the original version here, but here's my slightly different version

Mint leaf totally not necessary, but pretty.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

I usually take how to pictures, but you're literally just dumping things in a bowl.  Nothing that really needs explaining there.
  • Preheat over to 450 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the butter cubes to the food processor.  Pulse several times until the mixtures resembles small peas.  If you do not have a food processor, simply cut the butter using butter knives.
  • If using a food processor, move into a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the sour cream and 2 tablespoon of milk.  Mix until just combined.  Add more milk, if necessary.
  • Using a large spoon, drop the biscuits onto a cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.
  • While the biscuits are baking, mix the glaze.  Start with approximately 1/3 of powdered sugar and add about 1-2 tablespoons of milk.  Add it slowly, because it really doesn't take a much liquid to dissolve the powdered sugar.  Once dissolved, add the cinnamon.
  • Once the biscuits are slightly cooled, drizzle with the glaze.
Perfect with coffee or tea.

Up close and personal.

And on a totally unrelated note...
Look what I picked from my "garden" today!  There are few things I love more than homegrown tomatoes.  They just smell like summer-time to me.

Only two more weeks until it's "summer time and the livin's easy"!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hump Day Humor

I am officially exhausted.
I start my first final this Thursday...eek!
But I have a fantastic boyfriend at home making sure I keep my sanity.
I have friends who make me smile.
I have a puppy who loves to give kisses.
And...I have quirky sketch comedy to keep me laughing.
I love Portlandia.  It's a bit off beat, a bit weird, and down right fun.  
And this has to be the best clip ever.

Life is good.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

This is Your Brain on Law School

Remember the "This is Your Brain on Drugs" campaign from the late 80's/early 90's?  The one with the cracked egg?  Well if that's your brain on drugs, this is your brain on law school:

Any questions?

...Also, I apologize, in advance, for the sporadic and shorts posts that'll happen for the next few weeks.  I promise to be back to full capacity after May 6th!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Weeknight Meals: Salmon and Roasted Cauliflower

So things have been very chaotic in my life this week.  From school commitments, to school itself, work, and life I have a been one incredibly busy girl.  I'm really working on being content with my life, even if it is uber-stressful at the moment.  That said, I am really looking forward to some down time...even if that means waiting until after finals.  Another thing I'm working on is actually eating during finals.  

That may sound ridiculous.  And trust me, it is.  But I always seem to lose about 10lbs during finals...likely because I'll go to bed at night and realize that I've only eat 1 or 2 Clif bars all day.  It's not a conscious decision.  I don't wake up and think, I'm only going to eat a Clif bar today.  There's just a finite number of hours in the day, and if I get really busy doing something, I always end up forgetting to eat.

Well friends, I am seriously working on changing that.  And meals like this are making it easier to do so.  Having 3 girls and a boy who constantly check on my daily food consumption doesn't hurt either.  Thanks guys.  :)

Here's a quick, easy, and healthy meal that even the most time strapped can fit into their schedule.

Salmon and Cauliflower
This recipe comes from the fabulous Martha Stewart.  Find her version here.

  • Salmon  (I promise my next weeknight recipe will be something other than salmon.)
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • 2-4 anchovy fillets.  Don't be freaked out by these.  They give a great briny taste to the cauliflower.  Be adventurous and try it!
  • 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes (I used more)
  • 4 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • Preheat the over to 450 degrees.  Place the garlic cloves, anchovy fillets, red-pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt into a bowl.  This would be easier if you have a mortal and a pestle.  Using a utensil (I started with a fork and then switched to a very hard plastic spoon) grind the ingredients into a paste.
Yes, I use Cento anchovies and their canned tomatoes.  
See, nothing to be afraid of here.  They're just tiny fish fillets packed in olive oil.
  • Put the paste into a large bowl and mix in the olive oil.  Add the cauliflower and toss to coat.  Spread the mixture in the bottom of a baking dish and roast for about 15 minutes, until the cauliflower begins to soften.
  • Season the salmon with salt and pepper.  Place thin slices of lemon on each salmon fillet. 
  • Remove the baking dish from the oven.  Push the cauliflower to the side of the dish and place the fillets in the pan.  Bake until the fish is opaque and flakes, about 10 minutes.

  • Serve with lemon wedges.

The cauliflower and the salmon taste pretty good on their own, but eating them together in the same bite is oh so tasty.  I had the entire meal on the dinner table in a little over 30 minutes.  Perfect!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TOM'S One Day Without Shoes is TODAY!

I'll be in a suit most of today, so I won't actually be barefoot. I'll be barefoot at heart.  If you can get away with it, you really should.  Help raise awareness!  And if you haven't heard of the Tom's concept, in case you've been living under a rock :), go check out TOM'S to learn more!

One for One.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meet the Characters of My Life: Dolce

Dolce is my 3 year old Yorkie.  I love him like he's my child.  He's been in my household since 2008, when I rescued him from a vet's office where my friend worked.  His original owners brought him in with a broken leg; he'd been run over by a sand-cart.  :( He was too small and his leg was too swollen for the vet to x-ray, so they told the owners it was definitely broken and would likely need surgery.  So they decided it would be best to just put him to sleep, instead of paying for his leg bill.  I mean they'd already spent a lot of money purchasing him; why spend more?!  Horrified, the vet asked them to sign away their rights to Dolce, so they could find him a different (and better) home.  My friend immediately called me, and asked if I wanted to take him home.  She knew that I'd always wanted a Yorkie, and I immediately jumped at the chance.

I'll never forget the day Jason brought him home to me.  He was only 13 weeks old and barely weighed a pound.  I ran out to the car when Jason parked and eagerly peered into the car.  Where is he?  Where is the dog?  Dolce was so tiny that I couldn't see him nestled in a blanket in Jason's lap.  I promised Jason as a condition to getting him, that I would get rid of him if he was your typically annoying small dog.  However, the moment I saw him, I knew that would not be a possibility.

Happily, Dolce has turned out to be one of the best dogs I've ever owned.  He's smart; he sweet, and he's loyal.  He has his daily schedule down to a science, and I swear he understands English.    Dolce is allowed in our bed at 6:30 am and he'll let you know exactly when it's time. He loves to play fetch, especially with a tennis ball; although I'm pretty sure he has to dislocate his jaw to be able to pick it up.  His best friend is lab named Woodrow.  Dolce always pretends to be a real dog when he's with Wood.

So pensive, always thinking about something.

He has terrible allergies and has to take steroid pills to alleviate the incessant itching.  It's caused him to gain some weight lately, so now I call him my Porkie Yorkie.

"Quit taking pictures of me."

He's so patient.  Always lets me get my annual Santa Paws picture of him.

Honestly, I could go on, and on, and on about how much I love Dolce, but I won't.  I'll just wrap up by saying he helps keep me sane.  I love that he sits in my office while I study, and that he tells me when it's time to go to bed.  I love that he knows what time I come home, and that he always greets me at the stairs.  I love that he chases squirrels, and thinks that he's a guard dog.  I love that he loves the lake as much as Jason and I do. I love that he's my dog.

Friday, April 1, 2011

This little light of mine

I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
One of my favorite Sunday school songs.

When I left class night, there was the most beautiful sunset that I've seen in Dallas for a while.  I immediately ran home and grabbed my camera.

There's just something about a beautiful sunset that makes everything seem right in the world.

Or maybe I was just excited because it was actually daylight when I left class, instead of pitch black and freezing like it's been for the last several montsh.

And maybe it's just because I like things that are pretty.

Regardless it was a great way to end my week of classes.  And today is proving nothing short of spectacular as well.  The sun is out; the birds are shining, and I'm studying income tax with the doors and windows open (which in case you're wondering is the best way to study income tax).

Happy Friday All!