Friday, November 30, 2012

Dino Lingo - Language learning programs for kids

Gosh, it's been FOREVER since I've actually posted here. I don't really have an excuse other than the holidays coupled with the end of this semester has me super busy. I have some posts I want to get posted, but they just don't seem to be working with me. Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things with this and just keep on keeping on.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you're all enjoying the lead up to Christmas.

I'm going to make this post as an opportunity to talk about Dino Lingo.

Disclaimer: I viewed these clips complimentary via Influenster.

For a brief period of time, I considered a major in Linguistics when I was trying to decide what direction I wanted to go with my schooling. While I ultimately decided on History, prior to switching schools, I had a declared minor in Linguistics. I've always been fascinated by languages and I've got a pretty decent knack for them, too. So when I was pointed in the direction of Dino Lingo, I decided to take a look, even though it's a program for kids and I a) am not a kid, b) do not have kids, and c) have no plans for kids any time soon.

I viewed European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese (just to see the differences, because I think it's interesting).

Knowing what I know about language development a acquisition, I think the program has a solid concept. It combines audio and visual learning. There isn't any English spoken, which I think is helpful. It's a little cheesy and sporadic - but that's what keeps a kid's attention. If I have children, I'm a solid supporter of making certain they're bilingual at the least, so I would definitely use this sort of program to help broaden their minds and learn another language.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Hiatus

This week is already turning out to be far busier than I thought it would! I was writing papers and turning them in like a frenzied person yesterday (and I still have one more to do, aah!) and today we had to pack up ourselves and Ahab and head on down for a week with our families.

The BF and I currently live in Dalton, GA, which is way up in the Northwest area, close to the Tennessee border. Our families live in Covington, which is south of Atlanta and the trip took us about 3 hours (thanks, holiday traffic) today. Now that we're here, I have some cooking to do (I'm in charge of dressing for my family's Thanksgiving) and the BF and I will be working on some pottery as well - we have to fire up the kiln, fire some stuff we've made, and then glaze it all and fire it again! I'm so excited to see how they all turn out and hopefully I'll have pictures to share with you all.

So I'll be taking a mini "hiatus" of sorts until this weekend! I hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving and I hope you all get to spend loads of time with family and friends and eat lots of carbs and turkey and other delicious things. :]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pure Balance Dog Food

So, let me tell you about Ahab (again). He has a sensitive stomach and sensitive skin. He breaks out easily (certain grasses, flea bites) and certain foods (any dog food with corn meal, chicken, or wheat basically) upset his stomach. Basically... he's a pain in the butt to buy food for. We tried different foods - first Iam Sensitive Naturals Ocean Fish, Barley and Rice recipe.

To say Ahab didn't like it was an understatement.

Next, we tried Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Formula. This one was also made with fish and Ahab also hated it. He would just refuse to eat, period. Talk about frustrating.

So we tried Pro Plan Shredded Blend Lamb and Rice and, eureka! Ahab loved it. I even recently reviewed it on Influenster (sidenote! Influenster is a ton of fun. I joined up and have done a ton of reviews for all kinds of stuff) and gave it an A! The only problem? It was close to $16 for only 6lbs! There was no way we could afford to feed Ahab on our budget if we were going to be buying this. As much as Ahab loved it and as much as I loved that he was no longer itchy and rashy.

So it was back to the drawing board. We've been feeding him Purine One Beyond Lamb and Barley, but it's a little pricey too. Yeah... being on a super strict budget with a sensitive doggy? It's no fun.

But then Walmart came out with Pure Balance Lamb and Brown Rice.

It's their answer to the recent trend in better dog food and it's a little less expensive. They had a little chart out and it lined up with most of the stuff Blue Buffalo offers (which is skyscrapers above our budget). I was a bit wary to purchase it, because it's under their Ol Roy brand, which is generally terrible regularly (not to mention, it just tears Ahab's stomach up). But we decided to give it a try.

And Ahab loved it!

He's super stoked whenever meal time rolls around and so far - no upset stomach! We had to go back to cheaper dog food before I found this :( and so he'd broken out again, and his rashes and his itching are beginning to fade away, too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lazy Day

I haven't done much today. Fridays when we don't travel back down to Covington are days we like to spend sleeping in and not doing much if we can help it. So the day started out a little like this:

Ahab loves to sleep in bed with us and I'm such a big softie that he always gets to do it. He's a great snuggle buddy when it's cold out! And on our free days, he likes to just lay around in bed, too.

So earlier this week, we canceled our cable service with Charter. While we really like their internet, the cable service has been steadily climbing in price so that our bill went from $82 to $112 - NOT cool. After talking about it, the BF called and we got rid of the cable and now our bill is currently at around $50. Not bad. We only watch about 5 hours of television a week and it's just our weekly television shows - all of which we can access online.

Now that we aren't chained to where the cable hookup is, we could move our television wherever we want! Which thrilled me to no end, so we spent a good chunk of today rearranging and reorganizing our living room. I love mixing up placement of stuff from time to time and now we've even made sure to keep a space clear for our Christmas tree, which will go up next weekend, after Thanksgiving.

For dinner, we had homemade veggie soup that I made a few days earlier and I froze the rest for later on. I tested out a small batch of my new dressing recipe I'm taking to Thanksgiving (I'll post about that later). And now we're listening to Christmas music on Pandora and the BF is working on some clay pottery that we're giving out for presents this year.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't such a lazy day. But you wouldn't know that judging by this little guy:

That's all he's been doing all day!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Recipes | Chicken Moscato

SO, the other day I was lamenting how I don't drink enough wine and I really want to be a Drinker of Wine. Unfortunately, we're on a super strict budget and so I'd pretty much written off wine consumption as something that would have to wait until I became Employed and no longer just a Student. And then I decided to just check out the wine section at Walmart and see if they had anything cheap enough that could justify my purchasing it.

Enter Lucky Duck.


This stuff was only $3.47. We grabbed a bottle of Moscato and it was delicious! Turns out I can drink wine while being a Poor College Student. Huzzah!

Anyway, after a few days, there was still a little wine left in the bottle and I decided to see if I could come up with a recipe to use it in. Behold, Chicken Moscato.

I perused the internet for some inspiration, but couldn't find anything that a) matched the ingredients in my pantry, b) really sounded delicious, and c) took minimal time/effort for me to put together. So I came up with my own.

Chicken Moscato
2 small chicken breasts (or 1 big one)
1/8 cup flour
2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup moscato wine
gravy (recipe follows)
salt and pepper to taste

First, take your chicken breasts (or, if you're just using one big one, butterfly it out and then halve it) and pound them out super thin. This will make them cook up faster. I cover mine in plastic wrap and then pound on them.

Once you've done that, salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. In a plate, combine your flour and herbs de provence - don't forget to season this with salt and pepper as well. It's important to s&p every step!

Now in a bowl, beat your egg until it's frothy. Dunk your chicken breasts into the egg, shake off any excess, and then coat both sides in the flour mixture.

Go ahead and put a pan on medium-high heat - make sure it's big enough for both breasts and has a high enough lip so that when you add liquid, it won't slosh out. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Once the pan and the oil have heated up, place the chicken breasts into the pan.

Once both sides have browned, go ahead and add your 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup of wine. Drop the heat down to medium and just let the chicken simmer, turning occasionally so both sides can soak up the moscato-y goodness. If the liquid reduces too quickly, just add more wine and chicken stock as you see fit. I simmered mine for about 15 minutes. Afterward, you can go ahead and taken the chicken out of the pan.

Now it's time to make some gravy!

Moscato Gravy
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup wine
herbs de provence, salt, and pepper

With the pan still hot, melt the butter and then add the flour. Once it starts to thicken and form a roux, you can add in the wine slowly until you reach the consistency of gravy you'd like. Now, when I say 1/4 cup, I'm just guesstimating. You can just eyeball this and make as much gravy as you like (the more liquid, you'll need more flour and you'll need to cook it longer so you don't have a "doughy" taste). You can add chicken stock instead of wine, or a mixture of both, depending on how moscato-y you want the flavor to be. And don't forget to season the gravy as well! With both the herbs de provence and s&p.

Plate up and enjoy!

I made enough gravy to put on our homemade mashed potatoes! We also had green beans and brussel sprouts. Altogether, a pretty tasty meal!

If you try this recipe or if you have a similar one that you've made and loved, let me know! I loved to hear about others' cooking forays. :]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Captain Ahab Appreciation

Yes, it's a two-post kind of night, guys. I'm parked next to the heater because it's ultra chilly out and I'm feeling a little bloggy, so yep, that's just how it's going to be.

Today's second post is going to be dedicated to my dog - Captain Ahab. Because I'm pretty sure he's the cutest dog on the planet. And I'm totally not biased or anything.

Okay, so "captain" is just a formal title and no one really addresses him as such. It's just Ahab around here. Or as he's somehow come to be called, Ahabs-Ahabs. Yeah, I don't know.

Ahab is a rescue mutt. He had been dumped out on the side of the road along and left to survive all on his own. The BF and I took him in. We hauled him into the car, tried to feed him french fries (which he didn't eat because, as I learned later, he only likes hot french fries and not lukewarm ones... the spoiled brat), and took him back to the BF's apartment to give him a bath and some food. It was love.

As far as we can tell, he's some sort of lab mix. Or a border collie mix, as he's much closer to that size and he's got a fluffy tail that curls straight over his back when he's in a mischievous mood. Ahab is incredibly sweet and he knows a small collection of tricks that include sitting, laying down, shaking hands, begging, and jumping. Rolling over? Not so much, he just kinda flops down and stays there.

And let me tell you, he is the world's biggest baby.

The only downside to Ahab is that he's very distrustful of other people. I guess it's because he was abandoned when he was so young. He adores and is fanatic over me, the BF, family, and close friends, but anyone else? He isn't fond of. Oddly enough, though, he gets along well with dogs AND cats (well, if the cats will bother giving him any attention).

That's Ahab with the Bestie's chubby little dachshund, Ollie.

Ahab is also totally terrified of water. Ollie, as seen above, actually really enjoys it. But Ahab? He will avoid getting wet at all costs. Which is why it was so awesome when we took him to our local park and he actually, voluntarily hopped into the creek that runs alongside it.

How adorable is that?!

I'm not gonna lie, though. He's a bed hog. His favorite place sometimes is right between the BF and I, and he loooves to spoon. Or just generally space-invade.

But really... he's so super adorable that I can forgive him. He makes a good cuddle buddy, anyway.

I Love Harry Potter Link Up

I'm a little late getting to this link up. School has been hectic. But! I couldn't completely miss the Harry Potter link up. PLUS, the hosts are doing a giveaway this go around, so be sure you go join in. :]

1)Which wizarding school - Hogwarts, Beauxbatons or Durmstrang?
Hogwarts, naturally. While I think Beauxbatons would be neat, my French is not what it used to be...

2) David Yates as director or Chris Columbus?
David Yates. While I think Chris Columbus stayed closer to the actual events in the books, David Yates grabbed the feeling of them much better. Plus, he gave me my fave add-in scenes ever - Harry and Hermione dancing in DH1 and Hermione's emotional "I'll go with you!" in DHII (I love me some Hermione, okay?)

3)What is your favorite joke from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes?
Whiz bangs, I think. I don't think I'd spend a lot of time in their shop, but those were pretty nifty.

4)Would you put your name in for the Triwizard Tournament? Maaaybe. I think I could pull it off. If, you know, there weren't dark wizards running around sabotaging things and the like.

5)Least favorite book?
Half-Blood Prince. While I loved Draco's development, and Snape's story was okay, I have to admit... it totally turned me off of James and Sirius, who I had liked up until that point. It turns out the Marauders were just a bunch of bullies - total buzzkill. Also, I felt like a large chunk of the book was filler and just Rowling spinning her wheels. No me gusta.

6) Least favorite film?
Goblet of Fire. THEY JUST LEFT OUT SO MUCH. Like poor Molly Weasley and Percy and just SO MUCH. GoF is one of my favorite books, too, so that didn't help.

7)Which quidditch position would you play?
Chaser, I think. I'm not burly enough for a beater, being a keeper sounds boring, and I don't pay attention enough to be a seeker. :]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012: Obama Re-elected!

This will be the last political post for a long while, I think. The election is over, the results are in. Am I happy? HELL YES. This election was about more than who's going to be the next POTUS. It was an election about ideals. About standing up and believing in equality and inalienable rights. About moving this country into the 21st century and keeping up with the rest of the world.

If you missed it last night, I really suggest you go read the full text of Obama's victory speech. It was incredible.


The one thing I've seen that bothers me most is how people have been throwing God at the situation. I've seen posts that range from the harmless "Pray for our country" to the ridiculously notion that somehow they need God to save us from this terrible leader we have. Christians are acting like Obama is some sort of tyrant or anti-Christian ruler who is determined to destroy us all and the only way to possibly survive the next four years is if God (who, according to them, was a Romney supporter) has mercy on all our souls.

Uh, WTF?

As I've said on FB already... maybe God wanted Obama to win. Before you're so quick to condemn him for winning and claim God didn't want that and you need His protection to survive, maybe you should consider the notion that this is God's plan. After all, Obama was the candidate who supported accepting everyone despite their difference. He supports equality across the board. If God was going to get behind anything, wouldn't it be the idea that we need to love each other and treat each other fairly and equally? So calm down, Christians. You make us less-panicky, less-egocentric Christians look bad.


I didn't want to get on a soapbox. I wanted to take this post to celebrate that Barack Obama will be my president for another four years. And what's the best way to do that? With celebratory gifs!! All of these came from tumblr.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

"Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason, and plot!"

When you think of Guy Fawkes Night and the fifth of November, how many people think of this guy?


Well that's totally wrong! That guy has nothing to do with Guy Fawkes or the Gunpowder Plot. Sure, that's a Guy Fawkes mask, but it's one that was made popular by "V for Vendetta" and then, Anonymous and the whole Occupy movement. Which has nothing to do with Guy Fawkes or the Gunpowder Plot, really.

The Gunpowder Plot was found out on 5 November 1605. What was this plot? An attempt to blow up Parliament. It was designed by Catholics (notably Robert Catesby) as an attempt to destroy all the current members of Parliament in order to replace them with Catholic ones so that they could have religious policies go the way they wanted. King James I was strict concerning most religions at the time (Puritans, Presbyterians, Catholics, etc) and the Catholics wanted the restrictions eased up a bit, but couldn't get it to happen.


The used a cellar that was directly under where Parliament met and filled it with 32 barrels of gun powder, topped with iron scraps, and packed with combustible stuff in order to make it burn quickly.

Unfortunately, they kept telling more and more people about the plot - they wanted to ignite a huge rebellion right along with it. But word spread to a man who had a brother in Parliament and so he warned the brother. And of course, word ultimately got to the government. They searched the cellar and NOW is when Guy Fawkes finally comes into the story.

He was just watching guard over the gun powder. He was arrested. Then tortured until he gave up the names of his co-conspirators. (That's how they rolled back in the day.) Conspirators were all sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (a terrible way to go).


The end result was that the government decided Catholics couldn't be trusted and so restrictions were intensified and they even put fines in place. The Protestants, on the other hand, saw the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot as a sign from God - he was protecting Protestantism in their eyes. So they took to celebrating the Fifth of November to commemorate the event. They set off fireworks and burned effigies of Guy Fawkes and other hate-figures (including the Pope). Puritans held sermons condemning popery and it was, all around, a pretty anti-Catholic thing in the beginning. It has since dwindled down to a purely social celebration.


In the beginning, when people would go around to gather wood and stuff for the bonfires, they would sing songs. Most notably, this one from 1742:

Don't you Remember,
The Fifth of November,
'Twas Gunpowder Treason Day,
I let off my gun,
And made'em all run.
And Stole all their Bonfire away.

Tada! History unwrapped. I feel better about having a blog and being a historian now that I've blogged about something historical. :]

I Love Harry Potter Link Up

It's Monday again. Sigh. But that also means it's time for the I Love Harry Potter Link-up!

1. What wizarding job would you most like to have after finishing Hogwarts?
I think I'd like to work in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Maybe as a Dragon Tamer! Or... idk, anywhere. Dealing with magical creatures sounds like it could be fun.


2. Favorite member of the Weasley family?
I'm probably one of the very few who wasn't a huge fan of the Weasleys. I don't really like Ron or Ginny. :/ BUT I do like Arthur and Molly. My favorite, however, would have to be Charlie. He was the coolest of them all - who wouldn't like a dragon tamer? It's a shame they completely left him out of the movies.


3. Least favorite DADA teacher?
Professor Quirrell. If only because he wasn't very developed and you didn't really get to know him the way you got to know the others!


4. Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade?
Diagon Alley! It was the first way we were introduced to the whole wizarding world and it's right in London. There are so many shops. Hogsmeade is a quaint little town, but I just have a soft spot for Diagon Alley.

5. Ever been to the Wizarding World of HP Theme Park? What was your favorite part?
SIGH. No, I haven't been yet. But I desperately want to! I can't wait to finally get a chance.

6. Favorite villain and why?
Dolores Umbridge! While Voldemort is the main bad guy, I didn't think he was as evil this lady was. Voldemort was all ideological and crazy because he had a messed up childhood, etc. Umbridge was just sadistic.


7. What character could you never get enough of?
Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger! Draco was, in my opinion, one of the best developed student characters in the series. And after reading the Malfoy history from Pottermore, I love him even more. He was such a pitiable character. Hermione has always been my favorite character because I relate a lot to her. When I moved to Georgia, I was made fun of for having big teeth, frizzy hair (thanks, Mom's DIY perm), and glasses - not to mention, they immediately put me into the Gifted program, so I got made fun of for being a nerd. I loved Hermione's development through the first five books, though I felt Rowling kinda let her devolve a little for the sixth and most of the seventh. She's a much better role model than the likes of Bella or Sookie or Elena from other teen fiction.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Political Beliefs

Okay, so I lied. I said I wouldn't really talk about my political beliefs. But I was cruising through the internet, reading blogs, reading articles, and looking at Facebook when I realized... this is my blog. I don't have a kid, I'm not married, I don't DIY, and I don't have the budget for fashion, travel, or even innovative recipes. So what does that leave?

I have my opinions. My thoughts. My life.

So I'll say it's for posterity. For my own satisfaction. Because even though I live in an area where I was ostracized for not being politically conservative, I'm still proud of what I believe. And because I firmly believe that you shouldn't bully or shun people just because they want to talk about the "serious" issues or just because their opinions on those "serious" issues don't coincide with yours.

So what do I believe?

As I stated in my previous political post - I believe that, if you're going to vote, you owe it to your country and your fellow Americans to get informed first. I believe you shouldn't vote on party lines - it shouldn't matter if someone is Republican, Democratic, Green Party, whatever - you should vote based on where someone stands on the issues specifically (which goes back to being informed). And on top of that, you need to vote based on your own convictions about the issues. Don't vote for the Republican just because you think you side with Republicans because that's what your parents do. Read up on the issues, where the specific candidate stands, decide where you stand, and THEN vote Republican if everything still lines up. If not? Vote for whoever lines up with you.

Where do I stand? I'm a Liberal and here's why:

I'm a Liberal because I'm a Christian.


As a Christian, I find it mandatory that we need compassion for our fellow men. I support a candidate who wants to help Americans - the disabled poor, the working poor, the unemployed, the uninsured, the middle class, the working class, the ostracized, the excluded. You know, those "huddled masses" we like to brag about welcoming in. It shouldn't matter if someone is gay, if they're a minority, if they weren't born here, or what religion they are. Across the board, everyone needs a fair shot at this American Dream we harp so much on. We're supposed to love everyone as Christians and as it stands now, the Liberal side (and some Moderates) are the only ones who truly showcase that time and time again.

I'm a Liberal because I'm a historian.


I've been studying history for years. European history. American history. Chinese history. Native American history. Through wars and empires and there's one story that remains the same - those who don't have open minds are the ones who get left behind. They're the ones History looks back on and frowns. Fifty years ago, people thought it was okay to be "separate but equal" and that integration was an abomination. People thought women didn't need the right to vote. Nowadays, people want to outlaw gay marriage and deny women their reproductive rights. History is a litany of reasons why we should keep an open mind and when I'm an old woman and my grandchildren ask me what I thought about these things - I don't want to tell them I hid behind religious rhetoric, fear, and bias, I want to tell them that I've always believed in equality for everyone.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Autumn Leaves

A lot of people think the leaves don't change colors in the South. Growing up in Florida, that was pretty true. Even down further south in Georgia, it isn't quite as dramatic. But up here in the North Georgia mountains? Everything's been turning bright reds, oranges, and yellows for weeks now.

I finally went out and took some pictures:

These next two are photos of the bell tower at Dalton State College, where I'm finishing up my history degree. It's iconic for the school and rings every hour on the hour.