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Since Applebee’s stopped selling onion peels, I have been a little upset with them.  We don’t eat there very often, but Kyle, Gigi & I met a few friends there for a lunch a bit ago.  I had the Fiesta Chicken Chopped Salad and it really lifted my anti-Applebee’s attitude! This recipe is reminiscent of Applebee’s and I have made it a few times and suggested my mom make it for a graduation party my parents had for me last weekend (even though she had never even bought an avocado before!)  It is so fresh and so perfect for the warm weather that has finally invaded Wisconsin.

Chopped salads like this are my new favorites.  Chop all the ingredients into bite-size piece and keep the lettuce as just one of the ingredients, not 90% of your plate.  Every scrumptious bite gets a little of everything! I add some chicken to serve it for a main course, but you can leave it out for a side or vegetarian option.

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Southwest Chopped Salad  (adapted from My Life as a Mrs.)

Dressing:IMG_4520
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salad:
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn (I like it raw and fresh, cut off the cob)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (cherry are best)
4 green onions, chopped
4 cups romain, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
tortilla strips to garnish (found next to the croutons)

Combine all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Combine all salad ingredients (except the tortilla strips) in a large bowl.

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Pour dressing over salad and combine to coat.  Serve topped with tortilla strips.

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Suddenly Salad-y,

Kara

P.S. We got a CSA this year!  It was a little challenging to find one that delivered to both Madison and Milwaukee and was willing to change our delivery location when we moved, but we did and are enjoying the fruits (and veggies) of the farm’s labor!

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One of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, recently had a Pinterest Challenge to inspire us all to stop pinning and start doing!

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 I had been planning to make a special little something for my friend Megan’s wedding and had a few things pinned with her in mind.  A quick look through my will-never-complete-every-project pinboards led me to this page from All Things Homie, but I found the original page from Lee La La to be more helpful. I didn’t take step-by-step pictures, but I’ll outline the basics and encourage you to refer back to the original links!

Supplies:

I first copied and pasted my photos into microsoft word, two 4″ square photos to a page.  After several failed attempts, I found the only way to print my photos onto the tissue paper was to place a regular piece of computer paper on the tissue paper and cut around the tissue paper making it about 1.5 inches wider on each side.  Then fold the tissue paper around the computer paper and tape it to the back of the computer paper with long strips of tape. Then print off your photos onto the tissue-covered computer paper (praying it doesn’t rip or jam your printer!)

I liked the look of torn edges for my photos, but you can also cut them.  Apply a thin layer of mod podge to a tile and carefully place the tissue photo onto it.  Starting in the center, smooth the tissue photo onto the tile.  I found using circular motions starting in the center and working outwards was helpful. There will be wrinkles to smooth out. Let dry, apply a coat of mod podge over the photo.  Let dry and apply 2 more coats of pod podge, letting them dry in between.

Once dry, apply 2-3 coats of acrylic spray, letting the tiles dry between coats.  After 3 coats to the top of the tiles, I flipped them over and added a coat to the bottom. When dry, I attached the felt pads to the bottoms so they won’t scratch anything. I was so happy with how they turned out and I hope they hold up well!

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I used some of Megan & Andrew’s engagement photos that were on facebook as well as their super cute wedding invite, which I scanned onto my computer.  I stole my sister-in-law’s wedding gift idea (thanks Linds!)  and went with a wine theme: bottle opener from the registry, glasses, the coasters, and this awesome wine I found…

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The wedding was beautiful and even though we had Gigi along, we enjoyed a super fun reception! But back to the Pinterest Challenge…I did it!  I’d love to hear about your pinterest ideas put into action too!

Motivation & creativity,
Kara

P.S. I graduated yesterday!  It feels surreal and although I will continue to travel along this long road of learning, I have travelled far enough to earn the title Dr. and put a few letters behind my name (M.D.)  I am very thankful to my family and friends, but I am most thankful for these two…

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It’s not easy to be the husband of a medical student, but Kyle is amazing!  And not every baby would let you operate at 39 weeks pregnant, but Gigi is not every baby! She must take after her dad:)

 

I have a strict no-soup-in-the-summer policy, but this recipe is making me reconsider.  I have always been afraid of black bean soup due to the fact that it looks like poop mud.  I decided to give it a try since I like everything in it and I loved it! Several years ago I saw a recipe that called for it to be served with a fruit salsa and that was my favorite part! The salsa, along with a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice catapults this to (can’t believe I’m typing this) the perfect summer soup.

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Black Bean Soup with Mango Salsa (Soup from Our Best Bites, salsa by me!)

Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
3/4 cups shredded or chopped carrots
3/4 cups diced celery (about 2 ribs)
1 onion, diced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 3.5oz can diced green chilies
2 15-ounce cans low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1 lime
Salsa
1 ripe mango, diced
1/2 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 cup cilantro
In a large soup pot, saute garlic, carrots, celery, and onion in olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Add beans, chilies, and broth. Stir in salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf.  Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.  While soup is simmering, stir together salsa.
Remove soup from heat and remove bay leaf.  Use a blender or immersion blender to blend soup to desired thickness. If using a blender, remember heat needs to escape, so replace the lid stopper with a paper towel.  Stir in the juice of a lime and serve topped with salsa.
Crazy for summer soup,
Kara
P.S.  Harry potter fans, my husband showed this to me this morning and I am still giggling!

If you’re looking at the title of this blog going, “What???” you might as well stop reading, because this will not be of interest to you!  I keep thinking, however, that I need to share my experience with PUPPP, which stands for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy.  It is also called polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP.)  If you know what I’m talking about, I’m sorry, because it probably means you’ve experienced it!  I’d like to share my experience as well as my tips because when I had it, I spent many hours looking for blog posts just like this.

My PUPPP showed up at 12 weeks, which is really unusual.  Normally it creeps up late in the third trimester or even post-partum.  I woke up, excited to be into my second trimester and looking forward to announcing our pregnancy!  I had been having itchy, rashy ankles, but chalked it up to summer bug bites.  After my morning shower, I noticed by stomach was RED and itchy.  I was studying for a big exam at the time, so I headed to a coffee shop to study.  While there, the rash spread to my arms and down my legs.  I called my doctor and was able to get an appointment.  I had already read up on the internet and diagnosed myself with PUPPP, although it is really rare so early in pregnancy.  My doctor had a second physician come in and after looking at all the dermatoses that can creep up in pregnancy, they agreed with me.  I left with a prescription for steroid cream (the tiniest tube ever by the way!) At it’s worst, only my face, palms, and soles of my feet were spared, which is classic PUPPP.

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Over the next few days, the rash and itching became ridiculous.  I couldn’t sleep, study, or really do anything except try to keep the itching at bay.  I was getting maybe 2 hours of sleep per night and I felt myself going a little crazy.  After 1 1/2 weeks (doesn’t seem that long to you, but felt like an eternity!) my symptoms started to die down.  I continued to battle with the rash and itching until 16 weeks, when it finally went away.  I worried that it would come back, but I’m currently 2 months post-partum and have had no recurrence.  If you’re thinking it couldn’t be that bad, I’ve heard people say it puts chicken pox to shame!

What causes PUPPP?  We really don’t know!  Some believe it’s due to over-stretched skin (not in my case as I wasn’t even showing!)  They have found fetal cells in the skin lesions, so another idea is that it is essentially an “allergic” reaction to your baby!

So onto the important part, what did I do?

1.  Take solace in the fact that this is of no harm to your baby!  There are, however, some rashes and itching in pregnancy that can be a risk to your baby, so make sure you see your doctor.  She will do some simple blood tests to rule that out.

2. Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soup: Get this at the first sign of itching! I found it at my local grocery store, but amazon also has it.  It smells awful, like you didn’t bathe and were sitting around a campfire for a week, but I do feel that it helped me.  I would take several showers a day (more on that below) and use it in every one.

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3. Showers and baths galore: I took at least 2 showers and 2 baths per day for relief.  I was at home studying during this time.  I don’t know how someone would be able to work while having PUPPP.  Use cool water and pine tar soap!  I also took many baking soda baths (just dump a cup of baking soda in the water) and also liked Aveeno’s oatmeal bath. You could find me in the bathtub at 2 am as I couldn’t sleep.  Luckily Kyle was on summer break, as he didn’t get much sleep with me sulking around, running water constantly, and complaining.

4. Anti-itch lotion: I did not find the tiny tube of topical steroid cream to be helpful.  I bought pretty much every anti-itch lotion from the store and I would recommend you do that same as each person is different.  Calamine lotion was not helpful to me at all.  Sarna and Sarna sensitive lotions are good, but smell.  Actually, pretty much everything is smelly and since you are using the pine tar soap, you should just give up on trying to smell good at all. These lotions contain menthol, so they have a cooling sensation that takes away (briefly) the itch.  I kept these by my bed and when I woke up itching every 10 minutes (no joke) I’d slap some on.  I also like Aveeno’s Skin Relief lotion.  It was not smelly and was soothing, but didn’t have as much itch-relief goodness.

5.  Dietary craziness: This probably didn’t help, but I read that tomato juice and lemon juice was helpful for some people.  I drank 2 glasses of V8 each day.  What you don’t know is that I HATE tomato juice.  I would pour a cup, add lots of ice so it was really cold, and drink pound it with a straw so I didn’t have to taste it as much.  I also would drink the juice of one lemon a day.  I’d add a little sugar and carbonated water, so that was like a delicious lemonade!   Like I said, I don’t know if this helped, but it couldn’t hurt!

6. Fetal DopplerI don’t recommend this for everyone as there are pros and cons to getting an at-home fetal doppler so you can hear the baby’s heartbeat.  When you find the heartbeat, it is awesome!  If you can’t, it will create anxiety and fear!  I decided since I had experience finding the heartbeat (it can be difficult early on) I would get one.  Listening to baby’s heartbeat reminded me of the amazing things my body was doing since I couldn’t feel baby moving yet.

What didn’t help me:
Antihistamines: I tried Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claratin with no relief, but you might as well try!
Steroids: Topical steroids were useless to me.  I would have needed a gallon tub to slather on my entire body.  Oral steroids are an option, but since I was still early in my pregnancy, I chose to try to avoid them.  I can’t say how much longer I could have endured PUPPP before taking them.

The good news is that, as I kept telling myself, it is totally worth it!

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Hopefully helpful,
Kara

P.S. I think everyone is thinking of those affected by the tragedy in Boston and I am no exception.  My friend Becky shared this lovely article.  I find tragedy brings out the best in people.

People Being Awesome

And although I am thankful to look at the images and tweets shared, I hope that if I find myself in a similar situation, my first instinct is to reach out and help, not reach for my phone.

 

You know that show Best Thing I Ever Ate? I feel like I should make my own episode.  Star of that episode would be Selma’s cookies that I fist discovered at Gloria Jean’s coffee shop in La Crosse.  The love I have for these giant, delicious cookies would lead me to search for them at every Gloria Jeans (including all 4 at the Mall of America) I have seen since then and I have never found them again.  Except a few years ago when my family went to Disney.  Of course the happiest place on earth would have the most delicious cookies!  So I would occasionally google looking for “copy-cat” recipes with no luck. Then I stumbled upon a recipe for another Selma’s cookie and adapted it to be similar to the white chocolate chip version that is my favorite.  This mostly involved me putting in every chocolate-anything I had in my cupboard.  The result is my new favorite, perfect cookie. Bummer that Kyle thinks they are amazing too since they are gone way too fast!

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White Chocolate (with extra chocolate!) Cookie (adapted from Rumbly in my Tumbly)
Really any combination of chocolate chip-ish add-ins would work.  I think Selma’s uses white candy melts in their cookies, but I had almond bark and it has been delish.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugarIMG_3840
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate chunks
6 ounces white almond bark, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, sugars, and eggs until light and fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients and sour cream.  Mix well.  Add in the chocolate and mix.

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I wanted big, thick cookies just like the originals so I used my large scoop (about 3 tablespoons) to portion out the cookies, then gently pressed them down.  This made 16 cookies.

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Bake for 15 minutes and let cool.  The insides will be a little soft!  For smaller cookies, you’d want to decrease baking time.

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The cute mug is from Starbucks, but really my friend Emma had them and since I have driven a moped for years (even while pregnant!) I needed one too:)

Coooookies,
Kara

P.S. Check out my friend Emily’s awesome new product!

Super cute and practical…now available on etsy!

 

 

 

Several people have asked how I made the pom pom garland in Gigi’s “nursery” so I figured I’d show you how!  This is a putzy project, so I’d recommend setting up shop in front of the tele with a good movie:)

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Supplies:

fabric
2.5 inch circle pattern (cut out of thick paper)
needle
light or clear thread

First, you will need fabric circles.  I used a 2.5 inch diameter circle, but you could use a larger or smaller size.  I folded my fabric (so I could cut multiple circles at a time), traced my circle pattern, and cut it out.  You need about 15 circles for each pom pom.  Prepare a length of thread to hold your pom pom.  I used about a 2 foot long piece folded in half (it needs to be strong.)  Thread your needle and set somewhere you can find it!  Next, take one circle at a time to fold.  Fold the circle in half, as shown below.

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Then fold the circle in half again.

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Next, you need to fold the front and back flaps to the left to create a little “petal.”

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Now you will put this onto your thread.  Grab that needle and thread you prepared earlier and put the needle through the point of the folded circle. Keep the petal in the middle of the length of thread.

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Continue folding the circles and adding them to your thread.  To make it go a bit faster, I would fold several circles and hold them in my mouth (okay maybe that’s weird, but it worked) so that I could thread several at one time.  Once you have about 15 on your thread, push the petals together and tie the ends of the thread, pulling tightly so all the petals are squished together.

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Gently pull apart the petals to fluff up the pom.  Now you have a completed pom pom! If you don’t like the fullness, add more or less petals before tying the petals into a ball.

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In order to make a garland, you will need to cut a piece of thread (or fishing line might work better and be stronger) and thread each pom pom onto the thread.  In order to space them, you can either knot the thread before and after you put on a pom pom or thread a pom pom on and then put your needle through a layer of the pom pom “knotting” it into place. Then hang it up for a fun little decoration!

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You can also keep them as individual balls like I did here…

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I’m not the best at writing out directions, so let me know if anything is confusing!

Decorating diva,
Kara

P.S. We have been enjoying getting Gigi dressed up for every “holiday”…

Pattys

Easter Decorating

I love decorating for the holidays, but our lack of storage space makes it difficult to have lots of cute holiday items stored away.  My new favorite way to decorate is to print off free “art” from the internet and pop it into frames I have around the house.  I thought I’d share a few cute ones I found for Easter.  A quick google search of “Easter subway art” will yield lots more results if you’re interested!

easter copy From Visual Eye Candy

he is risen From Tattered & Inked

salt-and-paper_product_peep-calm-carry-on_art_17570_13-03-12_14-31-46 From Salt & Pepper

Here’s a little corner of our home…

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Such an easy, festive, and free way to celebrate,
Kara

P.S.  We enjoyed a pretty great freezer meal that I wanted to share.  It’s Black Bean Taco Soup from Six Sisters’ Stuff.  We enjoyed ours with sour cream, cheese, and avocado.  It’s been our favorite freezer meal so far!

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