Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mexican Chocolate Cake

Earlier this month was my husband's birthday. The big quarter-of-a-century birthday! Yikes. It's weird, some days we feel old and others we still feel like kids. Anyways, for his birthday he wanted a Mexican Chocolate cake. I've never made one before, so it was off to google to find a splendid recipe! 

I found a yummy one on allrecipes, found here. My only changes were that I used butter, not margarine. I also made my own sour milk (milk plus a little apple cider vinegar). I baked the cake in two round pans and they did need to bake a little longer than the stated 25-30 minutes.

I iced it with a good ole' chocolate buttercream frosting, per hubby's request.

Can you see a theme going here? In our family, he's the chocolate addict! 

Rachael enjoyed seeing the candles and watching everyone gather around and sing. Give it another couple (or 7ish) months, and she'll be enjoying her own cake! 

I hope you'll give this recipe a try next time you have a chocolate craving! It's a keeper for us! :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Old Blog

I thought before I keep progressing in this blog, I'd let anyone know who is reading this that I use to have an old blog, which is still up. It was called By the By Books. I started a new one because I wanted to branch out from just focusing on books. Please feel free to check it out, I have lots of book reviews on there from the past several years. 

I started that blog during my last year in college. My last semester was fairly easy, I think I only had 12 credits, and three of those were my research credits and thesis writing. I wanted to start doing something for myself as a new challenge. I was applying to graduate school, but since I graduated after a fall semester (I graduated one semester early), I knew I'd have several months to fill before starting grad school. I ended up not going to grad school, but I enjoyed continuing my blog and connecting with other readers over the years. Eventually I stopped posting, but still enjoyed getting a few comments here and there as readers stumbled across it.  

If you do stop in to take a look, please comment and just say hi! I'd love to start talking about any book or life in general :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014


One of my resolutions for 2014 (and beyond), like many other Americans, is to start exercising.

First, let me say, I hate exercising! I never feel good before, during, or after attempting to work out. I hate sweating. I hate the exhaustion afterwards. I hate trying to fit it into my schedule.

Well, my recent focus has been trying to make my husband's and my life on the right track. Mostly that has involved learning as much as I can about personal finance so that we can be assured that our current finances, homebuying, retirement, and saving for future expenses, especially our little's college fund, are on track. I'm still in the middle of that journey, and I'd love to share what I've learned in another post, but being on the right track also includes how we take care of ourselves.

My husband is very fit. So far he's done 2 full marathons and probably around 5 half marathons, he runs (6-12miles) several times a week and he loves it! He goes crazy if he doesn't fit his runs into his schedule. Because of how our schedules work right now and daylight savings, he actually goes running right after work, showers at his office, and the does his 1.5 hour commute home, so he gets his exercising in before he comes home and ever has a chance to get sucked into the couch. I don't have that luxury- I'm always home with our little one.

I could never find the time before to exercise, and by find the time, I mean make the time. Of course I had time! I just chose to do other things. Now that I have a baby with me all the time, you would think that I really would never find the time. But I am! Perhaps it's because I am home all day and we don't go out much, but I've actually found the time for 4 workouts!

I just started week 2 of the C25k program. If you've never heard of it, its actually the Couch to 5k program, where it literally takes a person from the couch/sedentary lifestyle to being able to run a 5k. I believe it is a 9 week program, but don't quote me on that. It's very simple, you can look up the program on I actually downloaded the app ($1.99) just because I knew if I was going to do it, then it needed to be simple, so I got the app, which tells me when to jog, run, and cool down. Because I have a baby, I've been running inside on a treadmill, so I can do it during one of her infrequent naps, or just when she is entertained on the playmat. I also like that I don't get stuck somewhere because I didn't turn around in time or whatever may be the case, I can just stop when the workout has ended.

Like I said, I've already done 4 workouts, you do 3 a week all at the same level and then each week it gets bumped up gradually until you do more running than walking. This is probably that farthest I've ever made in into a workout routine, I think my husband is surprised by my commitment to actually doing it this time. Maybe after we move, we can find someplace that we could run together, although we'll have to get a jogging stroller then.

Do you have a favorite workout program or routine? What is it? How do you stay motivated to keep going?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King

  • Details:

  • Under the Dome
  • By: Stephen King
  • ISBN-13: 9781476735474
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Edition description: Media Tie-In
  • Pages: 1088


On one normal autumnal day in the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, a transparent, electric dome crashes down- severing the town from the rest of the world. No one can get in or out, water and air barely pass through- leaving streams to dry up inside the dome and air to become stale at best and putrid and dense at worst. 

Over the course of a week, the town goes from quiet and quaint to a tyranny-led mob state. Sides form over who should lead the town and the rest of the world watches in horror and pity from the outside. Eventually, all bad deeds, once hidden from public view, explode through the town- destroying themselves from the inside out.


Wow. Well, this is my second Stephen King novel ever.... I read The Green Mile once when I was younger (young, in fact, I believe I was in Middle School...). I can't handle horror at all so I generally steer clear of this author, but after watching the first season of this on Amazon Instant Video and one of my book groups on starting this book, I decided to give it a try. It's still not one of my normal books, and there were times that I had a hard time reading it, but I still enjoyed the experience for the most part.

One of the best parts of Under the Dome is the characterization. There are many characters in the book- good, bad, and average, and we get to know about all of them in this 1000+ page book. I love books with great characterization! Especially long books- over time the characters become my friends and I hate to see the story end, I want to live with the characters forever and ever! However, in this story, part of me was glad when this ended. There were quite a few nasty characters and I had a hard time sticking around with them. They would keep me up at night. There were several scenes that were hard to read.

Under the Dome kept me going, it was very engaging and I had a hard time putting it down at night, even being exhausted after being up the night before with my 4 month old. I just wanted to know who put the dome there and why! There had to be a reason! Right?

There was a reason for the dome. But I didn't like it. I don't want to give anything away, hence why I'm not even using names of the characters or describing events... it would all take too long and I'd give away the story since all the plots are intertwined. But in the end, all you want to know if the purpose for the dome. I understand what Stephen King was trying to do, he was making a fantastical plot as a means for us to discover human nature and the destruction we cause each other. Humans can have a very nasty side, especially in desperate times or when we are part of a group (for a great study on the nature of groups, I high recommend Phillip Zimbardo's books The Lucifer Effect- he was the researcher behind the Stanford Prison Experiment and an expert witness in the Abu Ghraib trials.)

The characters had to explore there own pasts and actions before they could get rid of the dome. But the actual reason for the dome was kind of stupid, in my opinion. Maybe I missed something, but I expected much more. Maybe it just wasn't told right? I felt like I spent a lot of time learning about these characters and then it was just rushed and too ethereal at the end, so it no longer felt like the same book. 

Overall, I enjoyed the thrill and pace of the book, even when it was difficult to read some of the more gruesome or nasty sections, but I was disappointed in the ending. It was a quick for a 1000 page chunkster, so don't let the heft the book stop you if you are interested! Please feel free to comment on this post or send me a message if you want to discuss the actual details of the book, or tell me what I'm missing in the ending! I'd love to know :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Craft: Finished!

I finished! Rachael's cross-stitch that is. I started this when I was about 3 months pregnant with her, and just finished up a couple days ago.
*Click picture for link to Amazon listing page, affiliate link.

Here are some pictures of mine:

 I really enjoyed making this for our sweetie pie. I have one that someone made me when I was born and I appreciate it a lot. Cross-stitch is not hard at all, but it does take a lot of time.

Now it's time to go back to one that I was working on before we got pregnant and I switched to this project. 

Anyone else enjoy cross-stitch? Share your current project- I'd love to see it!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Time to Start Again

Time to start up again! We're two weeks into the New Year and I've been a little lackadaisical in maintaining this blog. We had a wonderful first Christmas and New Year with our little munchkin, although I'm sure hubby and I enjoyed the special-ness of it more than our sweetie pie.

Daddy and Rachael Christmas morning
We visited my family for Christmas, all of who ooh'ed and aww'ed over the little one. Rachael soaked up all the attention and loved playing up her part.

Aunt Liz and Rachael meet for the first time!
So glad she was able to make the trip
in from California.

I'm still planning on finishing up a short series of posts on my experiences using cloth diapers. I also just finished Under the Dome, so look for a review on that. 

My new recipe trial for January was a Mexican chocolate cake, at hubby's request for his birthday, I'll post pictures and the recipe shortly!

A couple of days ago, I finished up the cross-stitch for Rachael's birth, so I'll show that off! I can't wait until I can get it framed and then up in her nursery.... once we get a nursery.

Which brings me to our current big project.... home buying! Hubby and I have started the process of looking for a house. We're super excited but still trying to be realistic with what we can afford. Wish us luck in finding our dream starter home! :)