4/06/2014

Is it really April already?!

Some noteworthy things about April so far:
  • Had a fun first April Fools Day at the elementary school. It was amusing to see and hear about the various 4th grade level pranks that were attempted throughout the day. They went easy on me, but I'm sure once I'm a teacher I will have to be prepared for a lot more pranks!
  • The seeds for our garden finally arrived! We ordered from a highly recommended site, Seed Savers Exchange. This will be the first year we try to grow everything from seed. Well, almost everything. We are planning on buying a strawberry plant or two once they are available in nurseries. They didn't have them on the site we ordered from, plus we haven't tried them from a transplant in our container garden yet, so maybe next year if all goes well this year. Also, they didn't have a bell pepper we wanted, so we will either buy seeds this week for that or just buy a transplant. It should be a fun experiment!

So many great veggies!
  • We ordered a few bags of organic jelly beans and they finally arrived!! I can't believe how delicious they are! We ordered from a site that is now on my favorites list, Abe's Market. There are other organic treats that I want to try someday, but for April the jelly beans are perfect. Although I started a new rule in January to not eat any treats during the week, but only on weekends, and having these around has made that a tad difficult :)
Bad Instagram picture!
  • Friday I had my first meeting for the Elementary Education program! We were assigned our cohort (the time we will be meeting for classes for our last few semesters), and were told more information about the program. I was placed into the 11-3 cohort, but really I will be having classes Mondays and Tuesdays 11-2, Wednesdays from 11-3, and Thursdays from 11-4. We have Fridays off! I am beyond excited for it! I still need to study my butt off this month for College Algebra, and of course take Math for Elementary Teachers 1 in the first block of summer, but then I will be starting my actual program classes. I'm really excited about how you go about signing up for classes. Starting with fall semester, my advisor will email me each semester with a list of codes that I'll type into spaces on the registration page, then hit enter. That's it! Just type in a few codes and hit enter and BAM, I'm signed up for classes. No waiting until midnight of the first day I could sign up, or trying to finagle the perfect schedule. It's all done for me :) Anyway, my first program semester will include the following classes totaling a whopping 17 credits: Educational Psychology (can't wait for this one!!!!!!!), Instructional Media, Classroom Management 1, Creative Arts Methods, Social Studies Methods, Foundations of American Education, and Curriculum Design and Assessment. That semester will be even crazier than this one....
  • Yesterday we drove up to Salt Lake to get into the standby line for General Conference. Derek and his girlfriend, Breanna had gotten 2 tickets and came down for the day, so we were hoping to see the afternoon session too! Anyway, we got in line, and after a while of waiting and only 10 minutes before conference was going to start they started handing out tickets. Once you got a ticket (in the order of when you got in line) it was a mad dash across the street to the conference center. If you were fast then you could get ahead of the rows in front of you, but if not then you were just out of luck. We finally got a ticket and headed over to the conference center asap, but after 15 minutes of walking around the balcony looking for seats, we couldn't find a seat and were sent back to the tabernacle. I was so bummed! I didn't think we'd be sent back if we had a ticket, but we were. I'm not sure how I feel about the standby line unless we could get in line halfway through the first session, maybe then it wouldn't be bad. Anyway, we just walked around for a bit (we missed a good 25% of the second session by that point), and I of course took some pictures. It turned out to be a lovely spring day, so I didn't really mind staying outside.
Temple Square Selfie :)
Teacher Outfit!
the blossoms were everywhere!
After the session we met up with Derek and I got to meet Breanna for the first time. We ate at Chipotle for dinner, then Vince and Derek went to priesthood session and Breanna and I went to the mall for some shopping. It was a fun evening! I found an adorable dress at Old Navy, as well as a cropped white cardigan I had been looking for, and the cutest lilac shirt from JCPenny. After priesthood session was over for the guys we met up again to say goodbye, then came home.
  • Today has consisted of watching conference, making a yummy strawberry cobbler, and just relaxing while spending time with family. Alpine School District has spring break this week so no Girls on the Run or going to the elementary school this week, and the wind symphony director will be out of town as well so we are only meeting once for sectionals. It will be nice to have most of tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday to study for my math test and work on a few projects. It should be a fun week though!
New top from JCPenny!

Rest of March and Wind Symphony Concert

The day after I got back from my Ohio trip was St Patrick's Day. I had thought about making some Irish Soda Bread or something else more Irish, but instead we went simple with an all green dinner! In the bowl on the right was our salad that included romaine, broccoli, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and avocado. The bowl on the left is yogurt with granny smith apples and kiwi. It was a very tasty (not to mention very healthy) meal!
School has been very busy! I can't believe how many projects and assignments are all happening at the same time. That, in addition to practicing for 4 different music classes, working at the elementary school, coaching Girls on the Run, and starting to run again means there's little time for anything else. The 23rd we went up to Herriman for dinner, where I brought a yummy peach pie. I also got a few cute pictures of Boombox.
It had the best pie crust I've ever tasted!
That next Monday I went and got fitted for new running shoes! One of the workers recorded me running outside, then asked me if I had been running for a while because my form was perfect. It made me feel good about all of those hours spent perfecting my form in high school track!
Anyway, I love the new shoes, and they are pretty much the opposite of the ones I had as far as cushioning goes. My old shoes barely had any cushion, but these ones were a 97 out of 100 on a ranking of cushioning. I am not a fan of the color orange, and I was rather in love with the design of a bright green shoe I had seen at the store, but these felt the best so that's what I went with. I'll just pretend the orange is a bright green :)
At least people can see my when I run!
March 25th was my second Wind Symphony concert for the semester. We had a wonderful selection of songs that each had their own challenging aspect. Vince did record the songs, but every time the percussion section is playing loud it doesn't sound good :( Videos and descriptions for each song is below, but I'm also adding a link to the Spotify playlist I created of songs we played (performed by other ensembles with much better sound). We did sound really good if the recording wasn't so bad!! I'm going to miss Wind Symphony so much in fall semester. There's no way I'll be able to be in it, but I'm still hoping to still be in University Band, so that I at least am in one performing ensemble!
This first piece, Block M March by Jerry H Bilik, I felt a little dirty to play because it was written for the University of Michigan Marching Band. It's a great march, but even after years of having heard it before it still reminds me of Super Mario World music. 
Next is the song Libestod by Richard Wagner, and is from the opera, "Tristan and Isolde". This song was fairly difficult to play, not because there were any technical parts, but because of the constant playing and long phrases without many opportunities for a breath. It's a beautiful song though and now I'm interested to hear the entire opera.
Third is the song Bayou Breakdown by Brant Karrick. This piece was conducted by the American Fork High School band director Mr Miller. I loved this song! The clarinets had a really fun part and the song was just a lighthearted and fun song to play.
The fourth song we played was my favorite, Suite From Mass by Leonard Bernstein. When our director was describing this song early on, he said he chose it because of how much it spoke to him. I must agree with him, because this song spoke to me as well! I've listened to it on Spotify over and over, and just can't get enough. It was a very challenging piece with a few technical parts, but mostly because of how many times it changed time. Here's a list of each time signature from the piece: 2/2, 3/2, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 5/8, 7/8, and my favorites 3/8 + 3/4 and 3/4 + 3/8. The last two are actually two time signatures per measure. For example the first combined one is counted is 3/8 first then 3/4 each measure. It was a very fun song to play, and the UVU Brass Quintet played with us, as well as a harp player. Oh and we ended the song by singing A-men. I can see why it was such a controversial piece because most of the song isn't very reverent as we know a Mass to be. It's truly beautiful though, and is on my list of favorite band pieces!
Because one time signature isn't enough!
Last, but certainly not least, is the song Symphonic Dance No. 3 "Fiesta" by Clifton Williams. This was another challenging but fun song to play. I'm so bummed that these recordings turned out poorly, because the percussion parts of this song are the best!!! They are overpowering on the recording, but if you look up the piece on a professional recording you'll hear how intense it is. It was a great ending to our concert!
Well I tried to figure out how to embed my playlist in here but it's not working, so here is the link:
https://play.spotify.com/user/1238770945/playlist/334z5waXA9n5NoPIMInvjB

The only other things I remember about March is going to a picnic with family for Aunt Ann's birthday, going to World Market to pick up the serving bowl that goes with our dishes and bowls, and making some carnitas. School makes it hard to remember anything else!

3/31/2014

Recipes of the Month: March '14

This month was the month of PIE! After all, it was Pi month (3'14). Nearly all the new recipes I tried this month were during spring break. I had an entire week off and it was nice to be able to try a few recipes I had been wanting to try for a while. The second Sunday of each month my parents have the missionaries over for dinner, so the first Sunday I was there happened to be missionary Sunday, so I was put in charge. We had one of my favorite chicken recipes, chicken fajitas, and I also tried a new recipe for Blueberry Cheesecake "Pie". I decided to count it as a pie, even if it was cheesecake. The name is slightly deceiving because the flavor from the lemon zest made it more of a lemon blueberry cheesecake, instead of just blueberry cheesecake. Still, it was absolutely scrumptious!!
Blueberry Cheesecake Pie
yields 8 servings
INGREDIENTS
    For the Crumb Crust:
  • 9 large rectangular graham crackers (around 1 1/2 cups), crushed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • For the Cheese Custard:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
  • For the Berries:
  • 2 cups blueberries, rinsed
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter. Pat the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 minutes, until very lightly browned and set. Let the crust cool completely before filling. Leave the oven on.
  2. Meanwhile make the cheese custard: in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add the eggs and beat well. Stir in the lemon zest. Pour into the cooled shell and bake until just set, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  3. While the custard is baking, combine the berries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and cool until tepid.
  4. Spoon the berries over the custard. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Next is a pie that's much more traditional, peach pie! This crust recipe is hands down my favorite now. I even went through my Pinterest boards and deleted the other pie crusts I had tried and liked before, because this one tops them all!! Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite blogs for desserts, and this recipe doesn't disappoint. I wanted to use some of the peaches we had canned, especially since one of the reasons I had canned so many was to make a peach dessert in the winter.
Peach Pie
Crust
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
1 tablespoons (15 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks (225 grams, 8 ounces, or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup water, very cold
Filling
About 3 1/2 pounds peaches (approximately 6 large, 7 medium or 8 small)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, from about half a regular lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar (see note up top; use 1/3 cup for a sweeter pie)
1/4 cup light brown sugar (ditto)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons minute tapioca, ground to a powder (see note up top), or 3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
To finish
1 tablespoon milk, cream or water
1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar

Make your pie dough: Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. (You’ll want to chop your butter into small bits first, unless you’re using a very strong pastry blender in which case you can throw the sticks in whole, as I do.) Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days. Slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 to 2 months (longer if you trust your freezer more than I do). To defrost, leave in fridge for 1 day.

Meanwhile, prepare your filling: Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Prepare an ice bath. Make a small x at the bottom of each peach. Once water is boiling, lower peaches, as many as you can fit at once, into saucepan and poach for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath for one minute to cool. Transfer peaches to cutting board and peel the skins. In most cases, the boiling-then-cold water will loosen the skins and they’ll slip right off. In the case of some stubborn peaches, they will stay intact and you can peel them with a paring knife or vegetable peeler and curse the person who made you waste your time with poaching fruit.
Halve and pit the peaches, then into about 1/3-inch thick slices. You’ll want 6 cups; it’s okay if you go a little over. Add to a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, stir together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch until evenly mixed. Add to peaches and toss to evenly coat.

Preheat: Oven to 425 degrees.

Assemble your pie: Flour the heck out of your counter, unwrap your first dough (if the two pieces look uneven, go for the smaller one) and put it in the middle and flour that too. Be generous, you’ll thank me later. Start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the pin and moving it from the center out. You’re not going to get it all flat in one roll or even twenty; be patient and it will crack less. Roll it a few times in one direction, lift it up and rotate it a quarter-turn. And that’s what you’re going to continue to do, roll a couple times, lift the dough and rotate it. Re-flour the counter and the top of the dough as needed–don’t skimp! You should be leaving no bits of dough on the counter and none should be stuck to your pin. If at any point, the dough starts to get sticky or soft, it’s warming up and will only become more difficult to work with. Transfer it back to the fridge for a few minutes (or even the freezer, but for just a minute) to let it cool, then resume your rolling process.

Once your dough is a 12- to 13-inch circle, transfer pie dough to a standard pie dish by folding it gently into quarters (making no creases), arranging the folded corner into one quadrant of the bottom of your tin and gently unfolding it to fit over the base. Trim the overhang to one inch.

Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any accumulated juices (they contain the thickener too, also: tastiness). Roll out your top pie dough using the same procedure, until it is 12 to 13 inches in diameter. If you’d like to make a regular lidded pie, use it as is, cutting some decorative vents in the pie lid before baking. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction. Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim (i.e. no overhang; only the bottom crust will have that and this is a case of do as I say, not as I do, because I totally forgot this detail when I was making the above pie). Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.

To finish: Brush pie with milk, cream or water and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pie: For about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown. If the pie lid browns too quickly at any point in the baking process, you can cover it with foil for the remaining baking time to prevent further browning.

Cool pie: For three hours at room temperature before serving. I know you won’t listen to me — there’s hot delicious pie to be eaten, after all — but if you’re concerned about the runniness of the pie filling, keep in mind that the pie filling does not fully thicken until it is fully cool. Pie can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge; from the fridge, it will be even thicker.

And finally, I used leftover pie dough from the peach pie to make pie pops! I used some blueberries and filling from a can of blueberry filling I had (the only store bought filling without dye...), and of course lollipop sticks that I have on hand for cake pops. They turned out absolutely adorable! Now I probably put too much filling in them since they did seep out a lot, and I don't think I crimped the edges down enough, but I love how they turned out. I'll have to experiment with homemade fillings in the future. Here's the "recipe" I used from Bakerella (I seriously LOVE that blog...it's been way too long since I've made something from it).
Finally, here are a few other recipes I tried and liked. Thank goodness for spring break to give me time to cook and bake :)
Mexican Lasagna
Cream Cheese Banana Bread
This last "recipe" is very simple. The pin I had saved ended up being a dead link, but the recipe is on the pin description. Since we made it on St Patrick's Day we didn't use raspberries, but I bet it would make this treat even better!
Not sure how many new recipes I will be able to try this month, but I am getting closer to having tried all of my Pinterest recipes :)

3/30/2014

National Craft Month Part 4: Crafts in Progress

I have a few projects that are still in progress that I wasn't able to complete this month. First is the scarf for my brother that I am too embarassed to mention how long I've been working on it. He is coming down to Utah next weekend, so I'm hoping to have it done by the end of the week. I am really close so I'm not too worried about that. I don't have much left to knit, and then I have to block it and it will be finished.
Next is our king quilt! It is finally back from the quilter, but just needs binding. We will see if I can squeeze in time to finish it before the semester is finished, but if not, it will be the very first thing I do over the break. It's going to look great in our bedroom!
Last is one that I actually haven't started yet, but will be starting once the king quilt is done, and that is a Mega Man quilt for Vince! I have almost all of the fabric I need (I might need a few more solids), and am eager to start cutting out the squares. I hope it looks as good as I'm thinking it will.

National Craft Month Part 3: Headboard and Nighstands

Since we are finished with the furniture I figured I better write a post on it. Eventually I'll do a before and after with the headboard and nightstands actually in our bedroom, but for now you get this. Technically we had already built a planter, so building wasn't completely new to us, but this time we had a miter saw and Kreg Jig to use! We decided to stick with pine as our wood, but had a difficult time finding good pieces. I kind of wish now that we would have spent even more time and gone to more places to get the best wood pieces, but we can't change that now, only remember it for future projects. Anyway, we started both of these projects in November! It's been a fun project to work on, and Vince has discovered how much he loves, and is talented, in building. Since we live in an apartment complex, and since it was November, we did our building at Doug and Suzanne's house. Even if it were summer I think we still wouldn't have built at our place, with everyone living so close I can't even imagine how loud a miter saw might be to our neighbors. Maybe we'll try to cut something this summer on the balcony and wait for their reactions :)
This might not have been the safest idea...but oh well :)
Our pile of wood to start. it shrunk as time went on...
We started with the headboard, which came together beautifully. From a builders' prospective, there aren't many mistakes on it at all, which is great with this being our first time building actual furniture. And just like most DIY furniture builders these days, we used a plan from Ana White. Someday we want to build the rest of the bed, isn't it perfect?! Anyway, I first wanted to paint the headboard white, but with our sheets and quilt being a cream color I didn't think that would look good (and didn't want to remake a king quilt and buy new sheets), so we decided staining would look the best. But as we looked into it, most of the pine stained pieces we saw online kind of looked like crap, and since we didn't even have the best pine there was we knew ours would too. The color that kept coming to my mind was gray, but after searching on Pinterest and Houzz I couldn't really find a gray painted wood headboard, only fabric ones, so it was hard to picture if the gray would really look good on wood. After much indecisiveness we decided on gray, and boy am I glad because it looks lovely on the headboard!!! Not to mention the gray will really complement our cream sheets and cream, purple, and green quilt. Not even 2-3 weeks after deciding it I started to see gray EVERYWHERE on design blogs and magazines. Looks like I am still just ahead of the trends these days :)
Vince loved his new tools!
Our headboard center
Vince with the headboard once it was built
Doing some sanding
Me with the finished headboard!
Now the nightstands are a little different. We knew they'd be harder to build, and since we didn't have the best of wood they ended up not fitting together as well as we'd hoped. As far as the plan goes, we used a combination of this plan and this plan, in addition to modifying a few things (like another shelf!). The part I was the most worried about (the drawer) ended up working out great, but the shelves don't fit very well. We did have a few bowed pieces, and that affected the squareness of things. First the pieces that were left for the shelf weren't wide enough, so there was going to be a gap. I kind of wish we'd have kept it like that and just worked to find a sliver to fit into the gap. We changed directions of how the boards on the shelves were going to go with different scrap pieces we had, and we thought we'd be able to fit them in, but soon discovered they weren't going to lie completely flat in the shelf. There's not really anything we can do at this point about it, so we will just use it as is. The rest of the nightstand is great though and I do love them! It's just frustrating when the rest of the nightstand is so beautiful! Anyway, we went with the same gray for the top and the shelves as we did the headboard, but supplemented it with a slightly creamy white. I love the two-toned color scheme!!!
Working on the nighstands
The nightstands when they had the old shelves with a gap. I wish we would have kept them like this!
The (almost) finished nightstand. I don't have a picture with the drawer pull on, but you will see it when I take a picture once they are in our room. I am in love!!
Once we put the furniture into the bedroom I will share how it looks. I'm so excited :)

National Craft Month Part 2: Crafts with the Silhouette

Looks like I haven't been posting all month like I thought I would haha. Anyway, here are a few of the crafts I've made using my Silhouette Cameo (that weren't on the kids post). It's quite the versatile machine and I've made a wide variety of projects with it. First up are of course a few cards! Once the cards are sent and receieved in a few weeks I will post the rest of them on Scrapeite, but here's one that I've already given to my uncle. Making cards for men isn't easy, but I saw a similar card in print on Etsy and wanted to make a birthday version. Isn't it cute? I used the Silhouette to cut out the glasses from this image set.
Get it? Since they are spectacles!
Next is the craft I presented at the Elyria Ward Relief Society birthday dinner, tissue paper flowers. They were so incredibly easy to make, not to mention super cheap, and they look wonderful! We ended up making a template of the flower that women could trace onto their tissue paper then cut out. I figured it would be easier than for everyone to try to free hand the flower. The template is made using the blue flower from this image set. I try to buy an image that is part of a set so I'm getting 3 or more images for .99 instead of just one. And of course I will be able to use the flower images for plenty of other projects. How cute would just project be with felt and used on a hair clip for a little girl's hair?! Or to make a bouquet of flowers for a centerpiece. The uses are endless!
While in Ohio my mom gave me a roll of chalkboard vinyl to take home. I was pretty excited about the things I could use it on, and since I didn't use much of it there's still plenty left for future projects. The first projects I used it on were to make chalkboard labels for our kitchen canisters and for our memory jar. I was originally planning on writing in pen onto the labels for the canisters, but since the contents of them might change I decided to stick with writing in chalk and see how that goes. If it seems to be rubbing off a lot then I will write the ingredient in pen. I definetely wanted to write with actual chalk on the memory jar so we can write the current year on it, but still be able to erase it and write future years as well. I also used the vinyl to make an adorable card for my nephew's birthday, but I won't post that until after he receives the card :)
I love how the canisters look now! Someday I want to add a few more for cake flour, oats, and wheat
Our cute little memory jar!

3/29/2014

Spring Break in Ohio!

Can't believe I never posted about my Ohio trip! I came back to a very busy 2 weeks, but now finally have a few free hours. This year for spring break I decided to visit my family in Ohio. I hadn't been there in March since 2008, and I soon discovered why it isn't the best time to visit. The weather was indecisive, and since it was so wet and/or muddy we didn't get outside as much as I was hoping. Despite that it was still a wonderful trip! Here are the highlights of the trip:

March 7th: I didn't get into Ohio until almost midnight. I normally like taking an earlier flight, but I knew I had math and clarinet choir that I couldn't miss. A few weeks after I bought my ticket I also found out that was the day of my elementary education program interview! So that day was incredibly busy to begin with, then I got on a plane for a few hours. 

I have to mention the cute story about Toby when I first got home. My mom went inside first, but as she went in she propped the door open so we could bring in my luggage and some of the groceries she had bought. She had Toby follow her into her room then eventually told him that I was there. Toby came down the steps into the garage, and since I was silent he started going back up the steps. But then I started giggling so he ran down the steps around to the back of the car where he saw me. He was beyond excited! It was quite adorable :)
He's so cuuuuuute!!!!
March 8th: Had a lazy morning/early afternoon, then ran a few errands including visiting a grocery store in Lorain called Fligner's. Right before we left it had started to snow, and we even saw an Amish buggy on it's way somewhere. But the grocery store was really neat, and had quite a variety of ethnic food, including Hungarian pastries called kiffles. They sure were tasty, and I've already been thinking of making some.
March 9th: Went to church on a beautiful morning, then came home to make chicken and steak fajitas and blueberry cheesecake pie for the missionary dinner. The dinner was delicious! I had to make a pie in honor of pi day that week, so I counted the cheesecake "pie" for that :)
Toby cuddled up next to me
March 10th: More vegging, taking Toby on a walk, then going to dinner with Darleene at B-Spot Burgers and walking around Crocker Park. It was nice to catch up since we weren't able to go out during my last trip. And of course it was cute arriving home and seeing Toby waiting at the door.
Happy to go on a walk!
Toby's version of Abbey Road
March 11th: Played with Toby for a while, then ran a few errands with my mom and dad including getting our hair cut, stopping at the store, and grabbing a bite to eat. We also went for a walk at one of the Metroparks since every hiking trail I wanted to go on was probably too muddy. While my dad was getting his hair cut, I walked around Grafton taking a few pictures. I wish I would have looked for the picture, but when I was little we had gotten cousin pictures taken in front of the same barn!
Toby with 3 of his toys
Our Metroparkwalk was nice as well. We went on one of the multipurpose trails since all the hiking trails were too muddy and wet to use. I think this park would make a great running spot too, with a few hills and bridges. There was still some snow on the ground, but it was in the 60's so it was a pleasant walk.
Beautiful white barn!!
Once we got home I spent some time enjoying the lovely weather outside and playing with Toby since the winter storm was going to hit the next day. 
The birds must have gotten the winter storm memo
Happy Toby
March 12th: The winter storm arrived! We luckily we didn't get very much snow (maybe 6 inches), but what made it bad were the 30 mph sustained winds and even higher gusts. Parts of the yard were covered in 2.5-3 feet, while others you could still see the grass. About 40 minutes west on the Ohio Turnpike there was a 70 car pileup that killed three people, not to mention hundreds of other crashes in the area. It was a very good things that we stayed home! And in typical Ohio fashion, the day before the storm it was 64 and partly cloudy, while the day of the storm it was 24 and windy. Not even two days after, the temperatures jumped back into the 50's, and two days after that back into the 20's! It was nice to stay inside and watch the snow fall, in addition to scrapbooking/crafting, cooking, and enjoying time with my family.
My favorite picture of Toby from this visit! I had been trying to get a good picture of Toby but he kept fidgeting, so I told him I would put my camera away if he would let me get one good shot. Moments later he stopped and looked straight at the camera for me to get this picture, then resumed his playful ways :)
March 13th: It was really cold this day (I think it got up to maybe 20? The windchill was in the single digits during the day I know). I braved the cold to take a few pictures outside, and of course made some delicious cream cheese banana bread! That evening we attended the Elyria Ward's Relief Society birthday dinner. I was in charge of the craft which were tissue paper flowers to decorate a gift. Pretty fitting for a birthday dinner craft huh? Plus they turned out so stinkin cute!!!
One of the squirrels that frequents the back yard.
March 14th: More playing outside and inside with Toby. I also took a few pictures of Toby for a class project of mine. I will explain it once I'm finished, but all I know is that it's going to be so cute! It was a delightful 50 degrees outside that day, and the snow started to melt. After a fun morning/afternoon we went out shopping (to my favorites: Hollo's Papercraft, JcPenny, Dicks Sporting Goods), ate at Panera, and visited one of my cousins and her adorable dog! 
Toby playing keep away with me
One of the picture for my project
March 15th: Went for a walk/run with Toby in the shoes I had bought the day before, but they just didn't feel right at all. Luckily they let me return them later that day (there wasn't much wear on them, but I'm thinking they just took major pity on me). Anyway, after my run I changed back into regular clothes, then visited with my cousins who had stopped by. The little boys are the cutest!!
Once they left my mom and I got ready and headed up to dinner at Blue Sky Restaurant with my aunt and uncle. I had never eaten there before, but boy was it tasty!! I had the Lake Erie Perch and tons of sides, for only about 11 dollars. We already have plans to go back and try some of the other dishes.
After dinner we stopped at Dicks Sporting Goods to return my shoes, Target, and the grocery store. Vince also called with news that I had received my acceptance letter into the Elementary Education program for fall!!!!! Once we got home we put away some of the groceries, watched some HGTV, and played a game of 3 to 13. 

March 16th: Since we had stayed up so late the night before, my mom and I accidently slept in and didn't make it to church. It worked out anyway since I had to finish some last minute packing and eat some of the pot roast my mom made for dinner...mmmm! Oh and of course Toby needed to do tricks for treats and go on one last walk.
Toby is very good at doing tricks!
My flight home was kind of bumpy, but I made it on time and even got to eat a gyro from my favorite place at Chicago Midway. What a wonderful trip!! My next visit won't be until probably July, but thankfully I will be so busy that the time will go by quickly. And it obviously already is since I'm just now getting to this post.