Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My New Obsession...

My newest obsession has nothing to do with jewelry making.  It's watching all the new panda cubs on Smithsonian National Zoo and Zoo Atlanta's Panda Cams.  I'll admit, my favorite to watch is the National Zoo's Mei Xiang and her little girl.  Don't get me wrong, Atlanta's Lun Lun and her twin boys are just as cute.  But I've followed Mei's journey for a couple of years now and watched last year as she cared for her little cub that died short of being a week old.  Mei has had her struggles and for some reason I feel for the girl.  I also know how important it is to save this species.  I've learned so much about the efforts to save the pandas.  Their reproduction cycles are a big part of why the species cannot keep up.  It's so slow and challenging. So far, this little girl is tough and very healthy. She'll be a month old Friday and she's doubled in size already!  I think it helps that Mei is an awesome mother.  She cares for that baby constantly and only in the past week has she put her down and wandered off to finally eat something.  Which is very common for pandas.  They don't eat or go potty for several weeks after giving birth.  So interesting!  

I captured this images from the Smithsonian National Zoo Panda Cam.  This is Mei and her female cub.

Only 5 zoos in America have panda bears and they're all on loan from China for reproductive purposes.  A specialist from China monitors all efforts.  It's quite an operation they've got going on.  Lun Lun has been interesting to watch and learn about because there are twins.  I learned from their informative site, Atlanta does have the better site for information and updates, that pandas really only know how to take care of one baby.  In the wild, one will most likely not survive if there are twins.  So the Atlanta team switches out the cubs every 4 hours.  So while Lun Lun takes care of one, the zookeepers care for the other.  Or as they refer to them, Cub A and Cub B.  Pandas are not named until their 100th day which is Chinese tradition.  Of course, the naming contests are underway!  And yes, I did enter to win the trip to Atlanta to be a part of the party.  The twins are a month older than Mei's little girl cub.  I'm just glad there's a girl this time.  San Diego had a boy last year.    

Image captured from Zoo Atlanta's Panda Cam.  Their view is smaller and darker.  I did lighten this up so it would show better.   This is Lun Lun and one of her cubs.  They sleep like this a lot.  I hope Mei will when little girl is bigger. 

These cubs grow so fast!  I check every morning and throughout the day, and then again when I'm home.  Told you, I'm obsessed.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, I switch over to the cams.   I feel so much better.   The National Zoo has good camera work.  They zoom in and even have sound.  Oh my goodness, that's so much fun to listen to.  These babies are very vocal.  I can smile and laugh at Mei's cub for hours!  She's a talker that girl.  The Atlanta zookeepers say the twins are too, but I don't know since they don't have sound.   Now for Atlanta, their camera is alright.  The dens tend to be pretty dark. But I've seen some pretty cute moments.  Both cameras are black and white unfortunately.  

I captured this image from the National Zoo Smithsonian's Panda Cam.  Mei and her female cub.  Thought this was a funny position.  These mama bears hold and carry their babies much like we do.  Except they will use their mouth.

Hope you learned a little something and thank you for humoring me while I talk about the babies!  Please hop over to the sites and learn more about the species, raising cubs, and what you can do to help their survival.  On those sites you'll see official color pictures.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I had a special guest over for a girl's overnight last weekend and I wanted to make her a special breakfast.  She always says I come up with the neatest things to eat.  Being that's she's 12, I still have to be careful not to go too overboard.  Then I remembered a recipe I saw on Lovin' from the Oven - Cinnamon Roll Pancakes.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

  1. First, make the pancake batter. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually whisk in the milk, oil, and egg until just combined. Make sure not to overmix– Lumps are okay!
  2. Now make the cinnamon filling. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a ziploc bag. You want this mixture to be very liquidy. 
  3. Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. Scoop about 3/4 cup batter onto the skillet. Cut off the corner of your ziploc bag of filling and squeeze a spiral of the filling onto the top of the pancake. When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip over and cook until just browned (an additional 1-2 minutes).
***** Sarah's Advice and Alterations *****
As usual when it comes to a Pinterest recipe, I always have to make some sort of alteration to make it work.  I made this recipe exactly as listed, but I struggled with it.  The batter was too runny and adding the filling made it worse since it's melted butter. With my slight tweaks, they were easier to make and came out just as tasty and the way I like them.

  1. Cut the cinnamon filling in half or make a double batch of pancakes.  I ended up with a ton of filling leftover.  I just saved it for the next weekend and made another batch of pancakes.  No harm done.
  2. Thicken up the batter and not use so much to make the pancake.  3/4 c. is a lot of batter when it's super thin like this recipe.  I added less than a quarter cup of extra flour.  But make it to the texture you like.  I think the third step is the most helpful.
  3. Don't add the filling rings to the pancake until it starts to bubble.  Swirl then flip.  I found the pancakes came out much better. 
  4. I made a sugar glaze from powdered sugar and a splash of milk and drizzled over the pancakes.  Totally optional.  

If you try these, let me know what you think. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin

bloglovinIf you use Google Reader, you have probably heard that it will be saying goodbye July 1.  Solution to follow Finding Charm...Bloglovin.  I created a Bloglovin account quite some time ago.  I really like it.  I like that I can sort by groups.  

If you have a Bloglovin account, be sure to use the app that will automatically import Google Reader subscriptions!  Simply log in to your account and follow the instructions that pop up on the screen.  If you do not get the auto prompt, go to your icon in the upper right hand of the screen, hover your mouse over it until you see this:

Click on the "Import from Google Readers" and follow the steps.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Drive Traffic from Facebook to Your Product

Graphic courtesy of 3martinilunches
I came across this article from Handmade Success a while back and I'm finally get around to reading it.  I thought it was a very honest and accurate depiction of Facebook and the importance of content is King.  I encourage anyone who uses Facebook to reach friends, family, and customers to promote products to read Drive Quality Traffic from Facebook to Your Etsy Shop.  The rules apply across any market/product. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pinterest Meal: Light Summer Fare

I was recently talking to a co-worker about how I cook differently in the summer than I do in the winter.  The main difference is that I don't use the oven.  If it takes an oven, that means it's heavy comfort food (ie lasagna) and not something I'd want to be eating on a hot summer day.  She looked at me like I was from another planet.  I grew up that way.  We ate certain things depending on the time of year.  Now that the AC is on, I won't use the oven to cook meals.  Summer meals consistent of cold salads, tacos, and stovetop meals that are general lighter fare.  Desserts are of the chilled kind or just plain ol' ice cream.   Was my family the only family that changed their meal habits due to the weather?  Growing up in the Midwest, our summers are excruciatingly humid, so we're hot all the time and the AC doesn't detect humidity, so who wants to be turning on a hot oven to eat lasagna when it's 100 out with a heat index close to 120?  I know I don't.  Plus, it does heat up your house causing the AC to work even harder.  

I do know others who grew up around me who do cook that way, but was wondering what others do in other parts of the country.  Do you cook differently for summer vs. winter? 

Here are some new summer recipes I want to try this year from my Pinterest boards:

Watermelon Lemonade Margarita

Chicken Almond Salad
Seven Layer Ice Cream Pie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pinterest Meal of the Week

I know I've been MIA lately.  I started a new job and had a loss in the family.  But I'll start coming back now...

How about a yummy Pinterest Meal idea?  It's warmed up and I was thinking light summer recipes.

Flavored Water Ideas

Chicken Salad
Rocky Road Pudding Mousse

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Random Musing: What Do Your Feet Say About You?

I came across a funny post on Facebook showing a picture of feet and how the shape of them tells you your roots - Greek, Roman, Egyptian, etc.  Well, I got to thinking about what my feet say about me at a more personal level.  I found this quick quiz that tells you what your feet say about you.  It's a simple 8 question quiz and you'll get a full synopsis of what your feet say about you.  I was surprised, mine was very accurate.  What about you? 

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