Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Giveaway? How Can I Go Wrong?

I haven't ever posted anything like this before, but I couldn't help myself!

I've been very into the vintage style lately, and I ran across quite a plethora of blogs devoted to all things retro and some of them are giving things away!

This one I am really excited about. In The Heyday is giving away a Fleur dress!Isn't it cute? I'm super excited to try that hair-do, by the way. It's a wrap dress that's oh-so -40s-and-girly with pockets, matching buttons and bows! Hooray!

For a direct link to the giveaway, click here.

Ok, I know I sound ridiculous, but one of the ways to get an extra entry into the giveaway was to post it to the blog. So, if you're anything like me, I expect to be seeing your post about it before October 29th :)

Best of luck!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hooray For Handouts!

I'm not really sure why, but I've been very into making handouts for church related things lately.
For months I've been accumulating all kinds of digital scrap booking supplies (which I never knew existed until probably this past June) and there is one particular site, Steadfast and Immovable, that specializes in Young Women Organization related items, and I knew my mom (as the new Young Women's President in our ward) would be all over it. Erika, who runs Steadfast and Immovable, designs really cute handouts for each week to go with the Young Women's lesson for that Sunday and you can download them for free! She also made a few for Relief Society, but stopped after the two. With her work as an inspiration, I decided to make my own.

I began with the September Visiting Teaching message:
Then I had to keep going with October's Visiting Teaching message:
Also, I'm the 4th Sunday teacher and they assign me conference talks to teach on, and this week will be "You Are My Hands" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf from April 2010 General Conference. Here is the full talk: LDS.org - Ensign Article - “You Are My Hands”. I was happy about this assignment because I really liked this talk when I heard it the first time. It begins with an object lesson of sorts that explains the title, so I decided to make a handout and a sign with just the main title to be a reminder:
Now, this may be arrogant of me, but all these other women do it! Since I've made a few handouts, I figured others might like to use what I have already created so they can have good messages and handouts. And what do you know, I already have a website! So, I put up the full sized images of each one of these so you can just right click them and save the image to your computer or copy it. So, check out: my downloads and you can follow the links depending on which one you want. They are already sized for my own purposes, but you can resize them to fit on the page however you want. I don't mind :)

For direct links:
September Visiting Teaching Message: click here
October Visiting Teaching Message:click here
You Are My Hands Lesson Poster:click here
You Are My Hands Single Handout:click here
You Are My Hands Page of Handouts:click here

I fully plan on keeping this up the Visiting Teaching Messages each month, so check back to get yours. Wouldn't you rather receive something like this than a xeroxed piece of paper? I thought so :)

Thank you to all those ladies whose scrap booking pieces were used to create these. Unfortunately, I do not have the info on each artist for these, but I will be sure to save that info and post credit on future designs.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

So, I have a little tradition I started for myself. Every October (because that's when canned pumpkin becomes easily available), I make pumpkin cookies. Growing up, these were and are a Kline family favorite. My mom has to make at least a double or triple batch when she makes them or else they don't last longer than a few hours after she makes them.

So, I felt that I should share this fantastic family recipe (that was given to us by the lovely Carol Fowler) so that everyone can enjoy the new fall season :)

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups canned pumpkin

Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
confectioner's sugar (1 whole box)

1. For Cookies: Cream shortening, sugar and 1 cup brown sugar together. - The mixture just becomes kind of evenly crumbly.
2. Sift the next 6 ingredients together (salt, flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking powder). Add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with canned pumpkin. Beat well after each addition. - I add a little more pumpkin at first just to get it creamier, then I start adding more flour mixture. This gets really thick, so definitely mix really well adter each addition.
3. Drop by spoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degreed F. - Make them as round as possible. These cookies don't melt and they don't rise very much, so they will look the same after they are baked, just darker.
4. For Icing: Mix butter, milk, and 1/3 cup brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
5. Stir in vanilla. Let cool slightly then add powdered sugar a bit at a time. Keep adding until icing is nice and thick. - It seems like a lot, but it really does take a whole box of powdered sugar. If you are using powdered sugar that comes from a bag, just keep adding until it's the consistency of thick icing.
6. Drop balls of warm icing onto cookies. - Be really careful not to put too much. The icing melts over the cookie like a glaze. If you want to be able to control the icing a little better, I let the icing cool and I put them on the cookies while they are warm. This makes the icing melt a little slower and it doesn't go all over the place. Just for comparison, I put a nickel sized ball on a 2 inch cookie.

Sorry to cover the recipe with all that red, but hopefully it makes the process a little smoother the first time you make them. This is the wisdom I have acquired over years of making these.
I got a little fancy this time and tried them out as muffins, and they taste great :)
Just as a side note: I would advise against being healthier and foregoing the icing unless you really like the flavor of pumpkin. They are kind of boring without the icing.

So, I hope you enjoy these as much as we do :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Justin's Check Up

Well, we went to the back doctor today to get Justin checked out and (his highlight) get the staples taken out of his stomach. Since he's been able to wear more than a hospital gown, the 4 incisions have made wearing normal pants a bit of a painful situation as two of them span right where the waistband hits - ouch.

On the cool side, they had to take x-rays of his back to make sure everything was healing properly and they said it looked wonderful! They were all very impressed with how well he is getting around.

So, here is what it looks like:

I was a little surprised to see so much metal in there, but I'm glad everything is healing well. Hopefully it heals fast :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Justin's Surgery

If you are connected to me or Justin on facebook, I'm sure you've seen all sorts of posts about his being in the hospital without much explanation as to why; so, I figured I would clarify that here.

For the entire time I have know Justin, he has had back pain that limits how and what he can do. In fact, back when he was 17, he had a similar surgery. He needed work done on some herniated discs, but since he was so young, they were worried about doing a spinal fusion and hoped that he would be ok with whatever their "quick fix" option was at the time. Well, it didn't last for him. His pain has gotten worse and worse for years now, making us come to the decision that now was as good a time as any to get it taken care of (plus we have health insurance now which will not last after the Space Center shuts down the shuttle program).

After going to several Doctors and trying everything from therapy to injections, he slowly negated all other possible fixes to his pain which lead us to Dr. Hynes.

Dr. Hynes is a very famous surgeon throughout the US. He is the person who did Justin's original surgery as well. He gave him a few options, but said that a partial spinal fusion on at least two discs would be the best option for his condition.

This brought us to Friday morning, October 1st when Justin checked into Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, FL ... at 6am. I got to be with him until they took him back for surgery around 8am (I was a blubbering wreck too which he fully enjoyed).

His parents and I waited for 4 hours in the waiting room and they finally said he was in recovery and everything had gone great. **Note, this is the last time you will hear of anything with this experience going "great."

By about 2pm, they had him in his room and were getting him situated. He was still very out of it from the anesthesia , so we let him sleep for quite a while. His mom and I sort of took shifts after that. I stayed with him for the rest of the day (while he slept) and then his mom came to relieve me at 9pm so I could go home to sleep since I had to work the next day. Around 8:30 is when things really started to get interesting. His anesthetic was wearing off and the pain was starting to kick in. Now, having someone slice open your spin and abdomen is bound to be painful; but when you add in that the surgery was laproscopic, that complicates things even further.

Laproscopy is a surgical process that is supposed to be less painful than traditional incisions. They make a few small cuts in your stomach, blow it up with air, then insert cameras and small tools that they use to to the surgery by camera. The advantage is that they don't have to slice you completely open. The disadvantage: you are full of carbon dioxide gas. Now, before this experience, I would have said, "Why is this a problem?" Well, when you have people up in your bowels touching everything, they kind of freak out and shut down; thus you have all this gas in your body and your bowels won't do anything to help you get it out.

Ok, so we knew that some gas would remain in there, but nothing too ridiculous. Not so with Justin. At 8:30 on the first night, he began to complain of intense pain in his chest when he breathed. The pain would cause his heart rate to rise, sometimes up to 160 bpm. This is not a good thing. The poor nurse was wonderful, but no matter what she did or who she called, she couldn't help to relieve his pain. After work the next day, they had just given him a bunch of morphine and muscle relaxers to help him sleep before I got to the hospital, so I sat with him again while he slept for hours. Around the same time (9pm), he woke up and started having terrible pain again. All night, he would call to me to help him with something or other, turn him on his side, get him a blanket, etc. The pain just got worse and worse and his heart rate continued to climb. We got so used to the constant beeping of annoying machines because they just would not stop.

By the morning, they actually became worried he may have had or would soon have a heart attack. So, a cardiologist came and ordered a ct scan of his chest. If it wasn't a heart attack, it could have been a blood clot that had made its way up into his lungs which cause the stabbing pain while breathing. Also note, his bowels had not yet shown any sign of waking up, which for other laproscopy patients would have already been in full swing. So, they took him for some scans and tests and then transferred him to the telemetry floor where he could have his heart constantly monitored. This meant a little box was hooked to him at all times, which was annoying for anyone, but it was not designed for someone who needs to wear a back brace at all times. The box would not fit beneath the brace without pushing on the cuts on his stomach, and could not be left to hang because that would disconnect the wires. So, he had to hold it whenever he moved.

Anyway, all the scans came back fine - no clot, no heart attack yet. So, he was monitored, and given everything they could to get his bowels working. The nurses got a little over anxious, and they gave him 3 suppositories and a laxative at the same time. Well, his bowels started to work, but not in a fun way. Soon, they couldn't do anything to make them stop. Which brought on another problem in itself. He was still in horrible pain and he could only have liquids. Not a fun combo with nothing to comfort you.

So, this long explanation finally gets a little better. By Monday, which was his last full day in the hospital, he could at least watch tv and get up to walk around. Remarkably, he was able to go home on Tuesday morning, which was faster than normal for his surgery. He was able to eat solid food again and walk just fine. He was in a lot of pain for the first day, but now he can actually walk without a walker.

Our problem has now become his actual surgical sites. He is allergic to the tape they use to hold the bandages on, so not only does it itch because the skin is healing, but he has blisters and rashes under the tape that itch like mad, and we can't do anything about it. So, his mother, who is a nurse, comes by every so often and changes the bandages to help alleviate the pain and itching.

Other than the tape, his main issue is frustration and boredom. He has to wear a brace and he also can't bend, twist or lift, limiting the things he can do to laying around and playing video games. He can't shower, which annoys him to no end. He can't walk very far without becoming incredibly tired since his body is literally using a protein they injected around the discs to grow bone.

So, I know I have put a very depressing spin on things, but we are glad to have it done. The worst is over and he gets the staples taken out next week. And on the bright side, he can't work for at least 4-6 weeks, so we get to spend a lot of time together. So, thanks to modern medicine, he will be able to pursue the more physically demanding careers he really wanted after he has healed :)