Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Hi all!

I apologize for my absence and sparse entries these past two weeks. Travel has kept me confined to an airplane, a car, or some other mode of transportation and allowed me little time to write, bake or create!

Since today is Veteran's Day, I thought I might write a post in dedication to our valued soldiers overseas, or the ones training to be overseas like my friend Cody in basic out there in Texas.

I use Google Trends a great deal in my daily ramblings, and today I spotted something interesting. It's called "Operation Gratitude" and it's helping thousands of soldiers by sending supplies and letters, as well as love, across the sea to Iraq.

As an individual who lacks a steady income, I was not able to make a donation monetarily, but I printed out the list of supplies they need and am also going to enclose a letter to a soldier. Or soldiers, depending. I'm going to make a mix cd for my friend Cody and send it to him at basic training.

I think that sometimes we take for granted the fact that there's a war going on with our sons, daughters, wives, husbands, etc..fighting for freedom in the name of individuality rather than just the United States. These brave men and women are hoping for a brighter future and learning a skill at the same time, something I can't particularly say about myself.

I wanted to show my appreciation for what my friend Cody is doing, especially since he's younger than me and has already pledged his time, energy and youth to the Army National Guard. There's a song by Bright Eyes called "First Day of My Life". It reminds me of how important my friends are to me, especially Cody for what he's doing and for all those that have touched my life somehow.

With Thanksgiving approaching we should also remember to be thankful for our troops, to our families and friends and band together to pull out of this recession nonsense.

And, as always, check the links to the right. You never know when someone will need a little bit of your love via hit!

Thanks to all of you! Happy Veteran's Day!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Witching Hour

Greetings to all! Halloween is fast approaching, with only a week or so to go until the big trick or treating extravaganza. Many of you are probably stuck on costumes, but no fear!

I've been taking some time to figure out exactly what I want to be. To me, Halloween doesn't stop once you hit college, it only gets better and more creative! Despite my lack of extra money, I decided to put the fun in funds and invest in...*drumroll*... some time and energy to create a great home and heart made costume.

There are a few steps to creating a homemade costume, the first being an internet search. If you have a specific idea in mind, but only a few bucks to spend, find websites with costumes and then make a list of ways to create the costume on your own. Accessories can be found in your closet, jewelry box, siblings/spouses/child's room, anywhere! Borrowing is acceptable so long as you're willing to return the borrowed item in a timely manner.

To the right you can observe last year's costume: Teenie bopper. I had on Converse sneakers with heart laces, pink tights, skirt, black shirt with pink writing, rings, big pink heart earrings and plastic bracelets. Whenever someone brought up the Backstreet boys or N*sync or heck, even the Jonas Brothers, I would scream and jump up and down and gush about how cute they were. It was really fun!

Below is a list of homemade costumes my family, friends and myself have come up with over the years:

1.) Flapper- When I was in 8th grade, I was obsessed with the roaring 20's. We did a unit in my history class and I was fixated on the red lipstick and knee skimming skirts. A trip to Party City dampened my spirits when I found that all the costumes looked the same...and were pretty pricey to boot! Instead, my mother suggested we try the consignment shop in our town; for two dollars I found a dress that fit perfectly AND was historically accurate. Traveling to places like Target and Michaels made finding feathers, headbands, shoes, stockings and fake long strand pearls very easy.

2.) Librarian- I'm book obsessed, so this year when it came time to find an outfit that was inexpensive, fit in a suitcase (I'm traveling to Illinois) and reflected my personality, I chose a librarian. I was super excited about this because retro is back in, therefore my pencil skirt, peter pan collared shirt, long sweater and glasses would fit right in with current librarians (I observed them at my local library). A pair of flats and some pearls complete the outfit!

3.) Jackie-O and Marilyn- My friend Jessica and her friend Tasha are going as Jackie and Marilyn (wherein I made a "Who's gonna be JFK?" comment and puzzled looks were had). Jackie is simple, with clean lines, big teased hair, pearls, large sunglasses, anything with large buttons. Marilyn, I'd say the classic white dress has been overdone. Instead, opt for something uber glamorous, but buy the super white-blonde wig and wear red lipstick. Take note of Some Like It Hot.

4.) A Mom- This seems silly, but my mom actually went as...a mother for Halloween one year. She got really creative with it, wearing a crown, leaving curlers in her hair, with smeared makeup and one of my American Girl dolls in her hand. She even got my brother Jameson to make footprints on an old bathrobe to say that people were "walking all over her". I never thought to ask if she was referencing us, but suffice to say the costume was a hit!

5.) Betty Rubble or Wilma Flinstone- My friend Stef really wants to be Betty and her friend Katie is going to be Wilma (she's a natural redhead). Since Stef is paying for grad school, her apartment and all her living expenses, she does not really have the funds to pay for a pre-made costume. A few days ago we brainstormed what she might be able to do, and my suggestion was this: Buy a large piece of blue felt from a fabric store, a thick needle and some black thread. Sew the piece so it fits your body properly, and then with Betty, all you need to do is use some black ribbon to make a halter top of sorts, then take anything round and silver and glue it to the front. There are definitely other ways to do it, but that was my suggestion!

6.) Zookeeper- I was a keeper of animals when I was in fourth grade. We were lucky enough to have large stuffed animals, including a fabulously long stuffed snake. My mother found me a plastic safari hat, and I wore all khaki, put on my hiking boots from Girl Scouts and my mom found an engraver who made me a name tag (for around $5) that said "Kaitlin, Zookeeper". She then pinned the snake around my body (it was pretty large and I wasn't even 5' tall yet) and I carried around a lion and a moose stuffed animal (the moose was a puppet).

7.) A flight attendant- My Aunt Beth is a flight attendant for United. She kindly altered an old flight outfit for me to wear, my mom teased my hair and gave me a scarf. I looked just like a flight attendant from the 60's!

When it comes to Halloween costumes, don't hesitate going vintage. The best places to look are second hand shops, consignment shops or vintage clothing stores. I won't suggest ebay because you can't really return things, but any place around you works. I've had friends dress up as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. My brother was Beakman once for Halloween, though I doubt anyone remembers him.

The key to dressing up on Halloween is not to forget yourself: remember that even though Halloweeen means dressing up like someone you're not, it doesn't mean you should throw away diginity or morals!

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Make it Yourself

To go with the theme of making things on your own, I found a failsafe song that'll remind you that a gift made by hand is a gift also made from the heart.

I give you Wow!Wow!Wubzy, a personal cartoon favorite of the kids I nanny for. The song came up on an internet search and fit so perfectly with what I had in mind for this blog that I thought I'd post it for a little inspiration.

I promised soup in this entry, but it's been so warm this past week I couldn't bring myself to make any! Instead, I've been cutting up vegetables and fruits, as well as drinking a lot of green tea :-)

Awhile back I toyed with the idea of creating "Feminist Rosaries". When I thought about it more, I realized that I just could not follow the Catholic ideology a.) because I didn't know much about it and b.) because I didn't think it would be fair to the people who do.

Instead, I picked up craftstylish.com's "Gifts to Make" at the Barnes and Noble by my house. Inside, I found the best idea for rings: buttons!

Luckily, my mom used to be a huge crafter (and doesn't like to throw things out), so I found a jar of old buttons that would work great for cocktail rings.

Ring bases can be bought off Ebay.com, but the mag recommends Jansjewels.com. Then you can take whatever buttons you find interesting, detailed, or just plain awesome and glue them with epoxy glue to the ring bases. It's best to have adjustable ring bases, that way if you'd like to give them as gifts you don't need to have exact sizing down.

When using epoxy, make sure that the ring isn't worn for a few hours until the glue is dry. Make sure to prop it up so it doesn't come apart while drying!

In a few days/a week I should be getting my ring bases, and once I put them together I'll be sure to post the pictures.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is experiment!! A lot of the greatest pieces I've made, ring or otherwise, were at some points just me winging it because I thought it might turn out great. And it did.

Happy Crafting! Perhaps next time I'll be able to write some soup entries :-D.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Packing in the Protein

Starbucks has really been a bit of an inspiration to me. It seems that no matter where I go, the comfort of incredibly strong coffee and overpriced sandwiches envelops me like a security blanket.

After a trip back from Manhattan this past weekend, exhausted from traveling, I met my friend Heather at our local Starbucks. It'd been over 12 hours since I'd last eaten and the least expensive thing food wise would have been a sugary, chocolaty, calories up to my eyeballs cupcake. Instead, I decided to hork over a few extra Washingtons for a health conscious meal.

The up and coming get-fit trend is growing and Starbucks has jumped on the bandwagon with a few choices that are both healthy and delicious.

I picked up a "protein pack", a lunch that consisted of one hard boiled egg, two miniscule slices of mild cheddar, a smattering of grapes, two apple slices, a mini whole wheat bagel and peanut butter.

When I thought about it, that entire meal could have been made for less than the five dollars I paid for it.

Like the Pumpkin Spice Latte before it, I decided to create my own version. Most of the things you find in your fridge or pantry can be protein packed and awesome, so just in case you're not sure you can check out About.com for more info.

The protein pack I purchased was reasonable small, like any lunch pack. In Japan, they make these things called Bento boxes that I have been dying to try out American style. It may be packed with less protein than the Starbucks one, but it sticks to the silly/fun aspect of Bento.

Here goes nothing!

Kaitlin's Protein-Bento Awesomeness

2 hard boiled eggs for egg salad, which includes yellow mustard, 1tbsp of miracle whip, and some garlic power/salt put onto whole grain mini rolls or sliced into fun shapes
1 sliced green peppers
Nature's Harvest granola bites
4 slices Havarti cheese
5 carrots

Picture to come shortly. It seems that my father moved my camera to regions of my house unknown to myself.

Next post: Soup for the Soul! A few recipes to soothe your chilly bones as winter sets in.

Happy Lunching!

PS I'd love to encourage all of my readers to clicky clicky on my top links, they rock!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Personal Reflection on Yom Kippur

I'm not Jewish, nor do I celebrate Yom Kippur in the traditional sense, but since so many of my friends are fasting and atoning for whatever they've done wrong, I thought I might join along and start asking for forgiveness in my own way.

My grandmother was the first to get the idea rolling. She has been incredibly interested in all aspects of religion for as long as I've known her (which, of course, is all my life). Recently, she sent an email asking my extended family to forgive her of wrongs she might have done us in the past or present. At first, I was concerned: why would my grandmother believe she'd done something to upset any of us? Then after a quick phone call to Illinois my father found out that she had been studying up on Yom Kippur and the day of atonement. She had wanted us all to forgive her for things she might or might not have done in order to lighten her sinful burdens.

That's when I came up with the Atonement Chart. The name is a work in progress but I decided I would do something like my grandmother did, but a little more on the crafty side.

This is what I thought up:

Take a piece of poster board and with a ruler make lines 2 inch apart from one another. Split the poster board down the middle with another line. On one side write "Sin" on the other write "Atonement". Next, list all the things in your life and what you regret on the left and ways to atone for them on the right.

Seems a bit silly, doesn't it? Well, I thought that I would use this chart to help myself become a better person. For example, I used to be a Girl Scout and recently I received their magazine in the mail. I missed volunteering and having the GS mentality of "always be prepared". There have been moments in my life when I have been significantly unprepared.

In order to go back to what I had loved, I decided to go online and look up places to volunteer close to where I live. Then I created a "Be Prepared" kit to make sure I always had what I needed.

Kaitlin's GS "Be Prepared" Kit

2 bandaids
1 pack Neosporin
1 list of emergency phone numbers
2 quarters
2 bobby pins
2 safety pins
1 Luna bar (I get cranky when I don't eat, and so do the kids I sit for)
1 small water bottle
1 picture of my family
2 wet wipes or 1 mini bottle of hand sanitizer (baby wipes work, too)
1 tampon (hey, I'm 22, what'd you expect?)

What I loved about this pack is that it also reminded me of the "Earthquake Kits" we had when I went to school in Los Angeles. Each child was told to bring in a kit with canned food, space blankets and other necessities just in case an earthquake hit and our parents couldn't get to us at school. My mom always put a note inside telling me that she was coming to get me as soon as she could. That was why I thought putting a picture of my family inside my kit would be important; seeing people you love when you're in a bad situation will always boost your spirits.

I'm an avid traveler to New York City and while the city itself is awesome, it can be really, really dirty. This pack is perfect if you're going to spend the night with friends or just out taking in a play and riding the subway. The pack also works in all major US cities and abroad :-)

I cannot stress enough the importance of having extra phone numbers handy! My aunt recently had her phone die at the airport and was completely without a ride or my number, which was the one she was supposed to call. No one knew how to reach me and it was over an hour before she got me on the phone. Suppress worry and stress by keeping a small list of important numbers on you at all times.

With my kit and list of volunteering locations, I've managed to not really atone, but create a solution to a personal problem. The "Atonement Chart" was merely a device that helped me reach higher goals.

Life is not always perfect, but the trip to being the best person you can be the most rewarding.

Happy Living!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thanks a Latte

While on the search for beads for my "feminist rosary", I just had to stop for a little caffeinated goodness at the local Starbucks.

My favorite drink of theirs in the fall is the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I asked the barista for a tall one and she said to me "that'll be four dollars".

I nearly passed out.

Since graduating, I've been attempting to be frugal with my meager income and so I decided I would make my own version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte with whatever I found on the spice rack in my kitchen.

Kaitlin Adele's Already in Your Pantry Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 shot (or really however much you want) of super strong coffee
1 1/2 cups of milk, heated up and frothed
Pumpkin Pie Spice, which includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice
A sprinkle of cinnamon for the top
1 tsp vanilla
2 packets of Splenda (if you like it sweet and low fat)

Brew coffee in the coffeepot, usually at 2 parts coffee to 1 part water depending on how strong you like it. Pour 1 1/2 cups milk into cold sauce pan, heat on low/medium until it begins to bubble gently, constantly stirring so as not to burn it. Add Pumpkin Pie Spice (however much you want), vanilla and Splenda to the milk, continuously stirring until hot and desired sweet/spiciness. If you want froth, take a wisk and wisk the milk vigorously until bubbly froth appears. Take off heat.

Take coffee and pour one shot into a mug, add milk. Spoon froth on top and sprinkle a little cinnamon (or if you have it, cinnamon sugar) for an added kick.

This was the result:

Pardoning the Santa cup, which is sorely out of season, the latte turned out pretty decent. I had my brother, Jameson, test it out just to make sure I hadn't messed up and he said it wasn't half bad...which is a compliment coming from him.

If you wanted to get even more creative, a vanilla bean sliced and de-seeded would be amazing, or even a cinnamon stick used as a stirrer. If you're not as freaky about sugar as myself, you can use granulated sugar, of if you're feeling mapley, some brown sugar.

Happy Frothing!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Little Pumpkin Baking!

'Tis the season for holiday treats of the orange and black variety, and since my return from Minnesota I thought all of you would enjoy some fall baking ideas.

I was inspired by the beauty of St. Paul, the crisp, clean air, and the apple orchard down the road as well as the abundance of pumpkins.

When I was a little girl, my mother made these muffins that became an autumn hit.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (a Mimi Pat classic!)

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs (brown or white, doesn't matter! Keep it organic if you like)
1 cup plain pumpkin (half of a 1lb can, but if you want you can try using the natural stuff after a carving with your kids!)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips (but I like to use the whole bag :-D)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly mix the dry ingredients in one large bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Pour the wet into the dry and add the chocolate chips, folding the ingredients in with a spatula until all the dry ingredients are moist.

Bake 20-25 minutes (time various with each oven) until the tops are springy to the touch.

These have been a party favorite amongst my friends. My friend Lyz has been making these for her cousin's Thanksgiving dinner since I met her, almost 8 years ago! Every year she asks for the recipe, so just in case I put it online for her :-).

When my mom started Weight Watchers, she began using all low fats and Splenda, and made them mini sized with a mini-muffin pan and mini chocolate chips. When wrapped up nicely they make the best housewarming gift.

Next on my autumn agenda is pumpkin seeds! When I was in college last year, my roommate and her fiance carved pumpkins and I took the seeds, soaked them in water to get rid of the pulp and baked them up to perfection.

Kaitlin Adele's Pumpkin Seeds

As many pumpkin seeds as you can find
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or melted butter in a spray bottle)
garlic powder
a little cayenne pepper

Lay pumpkin seeds in one layer on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with EVOO (thanks Rachel Ray!) and however many spices you think you need. I usually put a little garlic powder on one half, and cayenne on the other. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and crunchy. If you use butter, be careful as the seeds have a tendency to burn. You can use pretty much anything in your pantry to garnish your seeds, but if you just like them simple, a bit of sea salt makes them delish!

These were a great snack during my five class days, especially since they were all film classes. They're a great alternative to popcorn or sugary snacks at the movie theater or in your own home!

I am taking suggestions for more Fall treats and will feature a really good one up here on my blog for all to see, so please email me suggestions at wildflowerlane.blog@gmail.com and I'll make a post all about my attempt at baking your dish (pictures too!)

Thanks so much and Happy Baking!