Holy Crap! Where does time go!

SO I swear it doesn’t feel like its been that long since I have posted, but apparently my last post was before I started this amazing job! How can that be.

Life is pretty good for me.  I am loving my job. My kids (the boys I am taking care of) stress me out and give me a hard time, but Its worth every second. I mean just today, It took me over an hour to get them to complete their chores correctly! And I even heard myself saying things like, “Just do it and get it over with,” or if you don’t get it done before you leave this morning you will be in trouble when you get home!”  Oh isn’t motherhood grand! And I didn’t even need to have my own kids to experience this joy!

We have had some good times. I have done a lot of cooking and baking for them, and they love it. We all took a trip to Wisconsin Dells, and not too long ago we took a 12 day trip to Pennsylvania to visit Moose Lodges and show our appreciation to them for their continued support. That was a long drive, and long trip, but a wonderful time (even though my kids insist that I went crazy and was mean).

The campus I live on is absolutely beautiful, and every day it worth going out to take a walk… well today its raining, so that isn’t going to happen. :)  here are so pictures of the time I have had thus far.

With one of my kids, Akim

With one of my kids, Akim

@ Wisconsin Dells

@ Wisconsin Dells

Out and about in PA

Out and about in PA

Detour!

Detour!

Photo Bombed!

Photo Bombed!

Gone Caving

Gone Caving

I have had a great time thus far, and have had some not good great times, but those are few and far between. If the weather clears up soon I will take pictures of this beautiful campus and the church with its breath taking windows.

I am back in the swing of blogging again. I have started a raw food diet that has me blogging here. I am Trying to lose some of this weight I have packed on since returning back to the States. Hopefully it goes well.

So again, I am sorry for my disappearance, and hopefully you will see much more of me here.

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Road….

One of the most difficult decisions I have had to make, came once I finished my physical therapy after my back surgery and the doctor cleared me to go back to normal. Do I apply to return to my Peace Corps service in Indonesia? Or, do I forge ahead and take a different road in life? After seeking advice from many people and getting comments about how I am “Not a Spring Chicken any longer” or how my “baby bearing days are almost at an end” I decided to think about my decision and come up with a plan that was best for me. All I knew at the time was that after being in pain and having limited movement from May 2012 to January 2013, It was time to take action and get my life jump started. After much debate, tears of frustration, and talking to other Peace Corps Volunteers and friends, I made the decision NOT to go back to Indonesia, and try to start my life here in the States. My best friend Emily (We banded together in College when we sat next to each other in an African American Lit class with a teacher that didn’t really appreciate our thoughts and views, and have been best friends ever since) told me that she had talked to her parents about my staying in the States and wanting to start fresh, and they were kind enough to make me the offer to move up to Chicago and stay with them while I looked for a job and got on my feet. There would be no rush, and I could take my time looking for a job that I actually wanted. After thinking about it and weighing out all of my options, I decided to take them up on their extremely generous offer and moved up to Illinois smack dab in the middle of winter in January.

Jacket

Where I am living in the suburbs of Chicago is pretty amazing. I am getting used to the cold out here, though there are days that I look like an Eskimo when I go outside. We have tons of farm fields out here and wide open spaces. Every time I take a drive, I can’t get over how pretty it is out here. There are also tons of birds of prey around here. I see hawks and falcons every day. Harry and Libby (Emily’s Parents) took me to go Eagle watching a few weeks back. It was pretty amazing. We bundled up and went out to one of the dams in the area. There were about 5 bald eagles in the tree, and we watched as they flew around and swooped into the water to catch fish. There were a ton of people out there taking pictures with these amazingly awesome cameras and lenses. I WANT ONE! Maybe one of these days I will be out there with them. We have gotten a couple of snow storms and are due for another this week, but nothing too terrible. Its giving me good practice for the future winters. I even went out and shoveled the walkway (it seems just plain wrong to sweat that much when there is so much snow all around you).

Neighborhood

I am not that far from the city. I live probably 5 – 10 minutes from the train station, and just take that right in to downtown. That being said I have only been into the city a few times. I went a few weeks ago for a night out with my friend Travis. We went to an underground circus show that totally blew my socks off. The people were beyond talented and it was absolutely breath taking. I can’t even imagine the stamina and training it takes to do the things that they were able to do… tight rope walking, trapeze, ribbons. etc. Absolute craziness. But it was an AMAZING time and we had a lot of laughs.

Circus2

Circus1

I also started the craziness that is Job Searching. There is nothing that stresses me out more than having to sit down and search for a job. Its not just looking for a job that doesn’t sound like I would want to scratch my eyeballs out while working, it is the nervous wreck I become while I sit and wait for a call back, or go for an interview. I always wonder why haven’t I heard back from anyone? Am I not qualified for a job that I felt like a monkey could do? So needless to say I have been a little stressed and irritable. That being said, I did find a job, and even though it seems like it took FOREVER, it didn’t take that long… maybe a month total. I was hired at Mooseheart Child City and School as a Family Teacher. Mooseheart is a residential childcare facility, located on a 1,000-acre campus west of Chicago. Its a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school. The position requires me to live on campus in one of the homes of the kids. I will be there to help the kids with every day life problems. homework, teaching them how to do every day chores and tasks, learn responsibility, how to do laundry, banking, etc. The goal is to teach them the skills they will need to survive after graduation when they are on their own. I will be working in the boys community. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I start mid March, and have to go through 3 weeks of training before I take on responsibilities at the house. This is exactly the kind of job I was hoping to find. I am still striving to do good, and help kids in need. That to me makes the perfect career, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to start my new life.

Moose Statue on Campus

Moose Statue on Campus

Also new… after over 2 years of growing my hair out naturally and not having anyone touch it (not even a trim) I decided to go and get my hair trimmed to remove the split ends and help it grow. To cut my hair they had to flat iron it straight. I love how it looks. It is tempting me to permanently straighten my hair.

Straight Hair

So my new journey has started here in Illinois… Lets hope this one is successful and fulfilling.

Next Stop…. Boston

The beginning of December was pretty awesome! I got the opportunity to accompany my grandfather to Boston. He had a conference to go to, and I was going to play the tourist. :) I had never been to Boston before and was totally excited to go. I called Andy and made plans for him to arrive shortly after I did so we could spend time together. It was the first time I was able to see him since I left Indonesia, and I deeply missed my traveling buddy…even if one of our last trips together had me hiking up a mountain because Andy refused to pay the driver the extra money he was trying to get from us…. But I have promised to let that whole incident go…. but if you want to know more about it read the post, “And Your Point Was?” here.

Anyhow a flight at the butt crack of dawn got my grandfather and I into Boston by 2:30pm. Andy arrived at 3:30pm leaving him and I most of the day to catch up and do what we do best…. EAT! Our first stop was to the grocery store to get snack for the hotel room, and then we ventured out for dinner. We ended up on the T-Train and went in to ChinaTown to a dumpling house. The restaurant was pretty small and jammed packed with people… Andy and I had to wait for 20 minutes in between tables with people eating because there was no waiting area. We finally got to sit and eat and ordered a table full of food! Our dinner consisted of Udon Soup with chicken dumplings, pan friend noodles with vegetables, Pork Dumplings, and amazingly HUGE chicken wings (that tasted like duck for some reason). Everything was amazing! We had dishes stacked on top of each other because there was not enough room for all of the food we ordered and our bill was less than $40 for 4 plates of food and hot tea. Sweet! We ended the night by watching “A Christmas Story.”

Andy and Me About to get on the T

Andy and Me About to get on the T

Dinner in ChinaTown

Dinner in ChinaTown

The next day Andy and I made out to the Sam Adams Brewery for a late morning Tour… which apparently ended with a beer tasting. So at 11:30am after learning about how they make beer, Andy and I had started consuming. It was pretty awesome.

Beer Tasting

Beer Tasting

We left the brewery with a light buzz to go have lunch with a friend of mine from college, Matt Sanders. Matt and I have been friends since our Freshman year in college when we lived on the same floor. We had lunch at a Kabob place that also pretty amazing. After lunch and a stroll down memory lane with Matt, Andy and I left to take a walk to Boston Common. The weather was FREEZING but it was still gorgeous out. The buildings were breath-taking, the fountains were beautiful, and our walk was relaxing. There was an iceskating rink at Frog Pond, and the swan boats were closed due to the cold weather, but the bridge was still beautiful. There were huge geese in the water, and one of them decided to follow Andy and I over the bridge.  Later that night we went to Quincy Market to meet up with friends of Andy for dinner. Quincy Market was all light up with Christmas lights, and every half-hour the lights would blink in time with the Christmas music that was playing. Andy and I sat outside in the cold watching the lights for a little bit. After our fingers grew numb we went into some of the shops where Andy and I found the most awesome thing ever…. Dinosaur Knee High Socks! We both agreed that I needed them!  For dinner we went into The North End (Little Italy) for pizza and then finished our meal at Mike’s Pastries with some freakin’ awesome Cannoli pastries. I had an Amaretto Cannoli and it blew my socks off!

Pretty Scene

Pretty Scene

Bridge in the Gardens

Bridge in the Gardens

Quincy Market

Quincy Market

The next day Andy had to head back home since he had to work the following day. Before he left we made it out to Cambridge to check out the Harvard campus. It was a pretty campus, and the red brick buildings reminded me a lot of where I went to college. We made into COOP to buy souvenirs… I got an awesome pair of sweatpants and a key Chain.

Fun at Harvard

Fun at Harvard

Afterwards I said my goodbyes to Andy and then headed to meet Matt for dinner. We also ended up meeting up with another friend from college who also lived on the same floor as us Freshman year, Sarah Quinn and her new husband.  We had a great time and it was wonderful to catch up with them after not having seen them since we graduated.

Sarah, Matt, and Me

Sarah, Matt, and Me

My last day in Boston was reserved for quality time with my grandfather. He took me out walking and showed me all of the sites that I had missed. It decided to rain the whole day, but we didn’t let that stop us. He took me see the site of the Boston Massacre, we walked the Freedom Trail, I saw the house in which he used to live, and walked up Beacon Hill. We went back to Boston Common and walked over to the Bull and Finch Pub where the TV show Cheers was filmed. That was pretty awesome since I used to watch that show with my mother when I was younger.

Me and My Grandfather

Me and My Grandfather

Freedom Trail

Freedom Trail

Site of the Boston Massacre

Site of the Boston Massacre

I was only in Boston for 4 days, but they were definitely 4 fully packed days. I had a blast and I have to say that Boston is definitely a place I would love to visit again. Maybe in the Spring or Summer where I will be able to see and do more. Boston is a Gorgeous City that should be on everyone’s list of places to travel at least once.

Make Way for Ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings

Cityscape

Cityscape

Trip To Savannah, Georgia

Being better again has many perks. I am up and walking, I could burn my wheelchair and cane if I wanted to!, I can stand long enough now to cook again, and I can sit long enough now to travel.

As some of you may already know, I love to travel. I love to see places that I never have been. They could be amazingly awesome places or just humble towns. It doesn’t really matter to me because every trip is a learning experience and another place you can say “Oh! I have been there!”

The first trip after my surgery was to Savannah, Georgia. Tybee Island to be exact. I have been wanted to go to Savannah for YEARS…. actually it was ever since I saw the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” (Yes, I let movies influence my life that much… You are looking at a woman who picked her college after watching “Remember the Titans.” My family still makes fun of me for it.) Anyhow, my wonderful Uncle and Aunt presented the opportunity for me to see Savannah and Tybee Island when they came up with the genius idea to have Thanksgiving there this year. The idea was to have a relaxed, low key, holiday to regroup and enjoy each others company. And it proved to be just the ticket! We were in a cozy cottage and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to relax and get my head together after all that had happened over the past year.

Cottage

Cottage

Though before we departed for Savannah I decided to put together a goodie basket for my hosts to say thank you for inviting me on a much needed vacation. I ended up making homemade apple butter, pink popcorn, peanut butter fudge, chocolate caramel sauce, orange honey butter, garlic herb butter, and apple cheddar biscuits. The kitchen was a mess by the time I finished, but all of the food was a great hit, especially the fudge. I will be blogging the recipes on my craft blog here. (If you look and they are not there…. have some patience with me. They are coming soon! I promise.)

Pink Popccorn

Pink Popccorn

Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

My first long car ride after my surgery went pretty well. I wore that horrid back brace contraption thing I was supposed to wear, and made the trip in relatively good shape. Tybee Island was GORGEOUS and quiet. I got to see all of my cousins and my Aunt and Uncle which made me the happiest I had been in a very long time. My cousins are all super active and we had a great time freezing and playing soccer on the beach (I didn’t play too much since my mobility was still a bit limited), going on a nature hike, and going into downtown Savannah to the River Front to shop and have lunch.

My Cousins and Me

My Cousins and Me

Downtown Savannah was beautiful! It was so nice to see all of the gorgeous statues and gardens. The riverfront was also nice. It was full of shops and restaurants. I discovered a store called The Savannah Bee Company! OMG. That is really all I can say about it. There are tons of different types of honey to try, lotions, lip balm, soap, candles, and much more made from Bees wax. I got some amazing hand lotion and lip balm that I now cannot live without! If you haven’t tried the Savannah Bee Company’s products, you should see if you can find it somewhere! The water was gorgeous and there were amazing ships out on the water.

Ship

Ship

Statue

Statue

The nature hike was also amazing. I love seeing animals be it at the zoo or what have you. I always want to take pictures and get as close as possible to them. We were able to see wolves, bald eagles, bobcats, a baby raccoon that was taunting the bobcats on the other side of the fence, lots of sheep and other farm animals, cranes, etc. It was a wonderful 2 mile hike and I had a really good time.

Baby Raccoon

Baby Raccoon

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

All in all, Savannah and Tybee Island was an amazing getaway and I would definitely visit again. If you have never had a change to visit and you are looking for a relaxing time away from the troubles of life.. I highly recommend it. :)

Sunset

Savannah Sunset

Stay Tuned!

So Now that I am up and walking about I have been busy! I have been traveling a little bit and cooking a lot! The result has been some awesome times and a whole slew of back logged blog posts for both of my blogs.  Sooo…  I promise to start posting them soon! Let me first survive this holiday and then we are back in business. Just don’t give up on me. I am still blogging and posts are coming!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Angela :)

Poison Apples

I LOVE Halloween!  There are so many cool things you can do craft and cooking wise.

Today I decided to put on “Snow White: A Tale of Horror” and make some eerie Poison Apples! (If you haven’t seen that movie, its pretty awesome.)

So these were super easy to make, and came out pretty awesome looking.

You Will Need:

1 1/4  cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon of salt (or less) (Optional)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 -2 cups special dark chocolate chips (Depending on how rich you want it)

5-10 drips of black food coloring (optional)

5 of your favorite apples (I used Honey Crisp apples and they were beautiful and tasted AMAZING!)

What You Need To Do:

1. Add the sugar and water to a saucepan.

2. Allow the sugar mixture to settle on the bottom of the pan. Cook on medium / medium high heat and let the sugar to dissolve. Continue to heat until the sugar mixture starts to turn to a golden color. Shake the pan occasionally to redistribute the sugar on the bottom of the pan. This will help to brown the sugar evenly and keeps it smooth and creamy in the heating process. (You can stir the mixture before it heats up with a wooden spoon but not too much. The sugar has to stay in contact with the heat on the bottom of the pan to brown and dissolve completely.)

3. As soon as the sugar turns a golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream into the hot sugar mixture. Adding the cream causes the mixture to bubble up and transform into caramel. Stir to combine until the sauce is creamy and evenly golden throughout. Cook the sauce on low heat for one more minute, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla, Chocolate, salt (optional) and stir well with whisk.

5. Skewer the apples to prepare for dipping, and dip them into the chocolate caramel sauce. Evenly turn the apple in the sauce until evenly coated.

6. Place apples on parchment or wax paper and let dry for 2-3 hours (the chocolate will become solid– allowing them to be wrapped easily).

7. Pour the extra sauce into a jar and enjoy another day with ice cream… (well that is what I am going to do)

This keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or so. But I think it will be consumed before it can go bad.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

I <3 Surgery

The last week before surgery seemed to fly by. It was full of doctors appointments, pre-operative testing, a class on proper care after surgery, and iPhone!  I got a wonderful iPhone and it really helped my time waiting for my appointments fly by. I also discovered Instagram. So between iPhone and Instagram, I am able to share my surgery experience with you! :)

I had to be at the hospital at 7:00am. So I woke up at the butt crack of dawn, and stumbled to the car.

 

I went through the whole prepping ordeal really quickly, and can I just say… HOLY CRAP… with the IV in the hand thing.  That was the worst part of the whole thing. I got a pretty blue hat, some stylish white thigh high stockings that were supposed to help with blood flow (and put on by a very handsome male nurse.. lol), and an awesome gown…

But as I was about to go into surgery, my doctor came in and was like ‘So you remembered your pictures right?’  So…. that answer was that to a lot of cursing (on my part) and then I proceeded to cry as I realized that my spot for surgery was pushed back while I waited for my grandfather to run back to the house to get my MRI that was left sitting by the door.

So a few hours later, with a nap during that time, I was back in the surgery room and a few minutes later I was out of it and then waking up in the recovery room.

I felt pretty good upon waking up and my mood and everything continued to improve over the next couple of days. I was able to get up and walk the next day with very little pain. I was slow but I didn’t need a walker or anything. I met with the doctors and they said that the mass that they removed from my back was much larger than was expected. But now that it all out I should notice a huge difference. And that was so correct. I was able to sit up in the car the whole ride home and felt no pain…. though I am sure that a large part of that was due to the morphine they gave me in the hospital.  But I arrived home to a wonderful recovery package on my bed, with a halloween bucket from the Popcorn factory, a letter from my friend George, and a couple of books from my friend Megan.

I have been home from the hospital for a week now. All I can say is… It feels like a MIRACLE!

I am moving like a normal person and I am pain free.  The only discomfort I really have is a sore back and a hella itchy incision. I meet with the doctors again tomorrow for a check up, and hopefully to hear that everything looks good. It feels good to finally be on the road to recovery. It has been a long time coming.

So these pictures and others can be seen on my Instagram profile. Feel free to take a look and follow if you are interested. :)