carrie and family
our first baby

Benjamin James
11 lbs 7 oz
Born: 12/15

Get ready for a new design coming! I am *almost* complete with my new site design. It took a minute to get familiar with how wordpress works, and to tinker with their stylesheets and php code... but it's almost done. I have to admit, I'm not loving it as much as I liked designs I've done in the past, but it will work. The archived posts work much better than blogger, and the ability to page through past posts is WAY more intuitive. I've just got to finish the flickr page to view the photo albums, and it's ready to launch! Just in time to meet the May 1st deadline that Blogger gave to turn off the old site. So sometime within the next two weeks, I'll make that push over.

Regardless of this site, we've been through A LOT in these past few weeks, not the least of which is our ever enduring house hunt. But I'm happy to report that we. found. a. house. That we both agree on. That's in a nice area. That's close to where we currently live. Drawback: it's a foreclosure, and since we are going FHA, we have to hope that we can handle any repairs the FHA appraisal requires since the bank won't do any. We made an offer on the house for a little above asking price, and we heard back in a week that they accepted our offer. So we have a ratified contract, the FHA appraisal has been ordered, and now we are in "sit and wait" mode while they schedule it, and send us a copy of the report. We're trying to remain calm since anything could still happen, and we need to be able to walk away without being too depressed. But we're still excited. It's a 3 bedroom, 1 bath colonial, with a yard :) Has a basement and a HUGE attic, that could be finished off fairly easily. One of the bedrooms is definitely small, but could easily house a kid until we're ready to upgrade (or remodel to make it bigger). For a foreclosure, it's in GREAT condition, and our home inspection didn't find any major repairs, other than the stove not working. The floors are hardwood and in great condition, and the place has been really well maintained.

So we're crossing our fingers that everything turns out ok... and I'll definitely update once we know anything!

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PhatStraps is giving a way a new Epiphanie camera bag! I LOVE these bags, but their price tag is intimidating... so I'd jump for joy if I won this one (and I love the Belle style, which is what they're offering!). So if you are in the market for a new camera bag, check them out! I'm also ordering a PhatStrap as we speak... super fun!

Time to upgrade the camera backpack :)

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Black Bean Brownies... the thought SOUNDS disgusting, but apparently they are all the rave right now. And at only 2 pts (98 calories) per brownie (the recipe makes 12 servings), that's definitely worth trying!! And everyone keeps saying how amazing these are, and they just get better each day they sit out. So I'll post this recipe for anyone else in a baking mood, and wants to lighten up their dessert fare:

Black Bean & Avocado Brownies

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 of a ripe avocado (60gm)
6 tbsp cocoa powder (30gm)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons white sugar (75gm)
2 teaspoons instant espresso

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper.

Combine black beans, egg substitute, agave syrup, and avocado in food processor. Blend for a few minutes, until completely smooth. Add remaining ingredients and continue blending until fully combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spread into parchment-lined baking dish. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean.

These are best if you let them sit overnight before slicing and enjoying!

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 98.0
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 134.6 mg
Total Carbs: 19.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 4.2 g

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I've been diligent about backing up my computer for as long as I can remember, and while I've only had a major crash once, it was one time too many, and I was SO glad I had all my files close by. However, I've gone through not one, not two, but THREE external hard drives, and quite frankly, I just don't trust them anymore. That, and I am running out of hard drive space with all the photos/videos we have of Ben... and I need to find a good solution to free up some disk space. I have burned DVD's of the photos, but I also have panic attacks about a fire, theft, irreparable scratches... anything that would cause me to lose those precious photos forever.

So I started investigating online file storage. It sounded so simple, just have a place where I can dump all my files to an online server, where someone else is backing up nightly, and maintaining their servers. At first the prices seemed steep, but slowly, more and more people are using servers and services in the "cloud", and voila, now there are plenty of options for storing files remotely. I found a slew that offered "sync" services, where I could designate a folder to "sync", and it would copy all the files to the server, where I could then access them from anywhere via the web, or via another computer with the same software. I have a "Dropbox" account (, but I don't use it as backup, rather, as a way to copy large files between home and work. Even though that would solve my "backup" file problem, it didn't let me create an "archive" where I could then delete some files on my local drive to free up space, without also deleting it from the server from the sync process.

So then last night I finally stumbled across "Jungle Disk", that uses Amazon's S3 service to host your files. You only pay for the storage you actually use via Amazon, and the desktop software is only a one-time fee. Then it shows up like a network drive on your computer, so you can just drag the files you want to save remotely to it, and voila! Instant backup and archive. Perfect :) After I use it a little more extensively I'll write another review, but so far so good!

And I did all of this research while Joe and I waited for Congress to vote on health care reform last night. I have to say, I'm a big fan of the "health care for all" initiative, and I'm still secretly holding out hope that they include a public option somehow. I don't think anyone should be bankrupt or in dire straits just because they got sick or injured. It's a broken system, and even if this effort isn't perfect, it's about time somebody did SOMETHING to change it. So kudos to everyone last night!

Now off to find an external hard drive for Joe... he's not quite at the "online storage" solution yet. I can find a decent external to clone his drive, in the event of a major failure, but he doesn't house photos or documents on his drive. His most important commodity is his music collection, which we can definitely store on the USB drive. We need to take his laptop into Best Buy to check on an earphone problem (whenever you disconnect the earphones, the onboard speakers stop working all together), and I know dropping it off warrants an automatic hard drive format, regardless of the issue. So we need to have it copied before we do that this weekend!

Wish us luck with THAT ;)

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Joe and I attended the RTCA dinner last night, and we had a GREAT time! The food and entertainment wasn't near the caliber that it was last year (no JibJab, no Obama, and no Honey in the Rock) but it was still fun to see some newsmakers in person. We caught Joe Scarborough and Candy Crowley standing near us at the reception before dinner, then Donald Rumsfeld walked past us in the lobby. We watched Michael Chertoff and his wife introduce themselves to the new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and his wife, and even Miss America as she posed with folks for photos in her crown :) We didn't get to speak with anyone personally, but maybe next year :) And even though it was a weeknight, we loved having a reason to get dressed up in our formal wear... not many chances to do that with a toddler lately!

This weekend we are travelling on Saturday to visit with friends, and then Sunday begins Softball practice with our crew from the Argonaut! This marks our 5th season of playing, and it's always great to see new faces :) We lost of lot of players this year, but hopefully we can make up ground and win a few games :) With Ben at my side, I won't be playing, but I'll be dutifully teaching him the rules and how to cheer his Dad on from the sidelines :)

The weather has finally lifted and the past few sunny days have been WONDERFUL. I love spring in DC, and am looking forward to meeting up with my photography pals during the cherry blossom festival. I hope to snap some great shots of Ben while we're there, to get some classic "DC" shots. I'm trying to "earn" a new lens since I refuse to spend any more money on my hobby until I can get my skills up to par. Should be fun!

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Sad news today, as I finally realized there was a little "warning" message above my blog letting me know that Blogger has finally decided to let go of their FTP service. Since I have more than one blog at this domain, AND I do other things not blog related with the domain, I loved that they ftp'd the files over to my hosting server. Not anymore. They are going to allow "Custom Domains" to be hosted via Google, still using a personal domain, but no more hosting your own files. I don't want to create a subdomain (like so I have no other choice.

For the next few weeks, I will be busily migrating all my crazy posts back from late 2000 to now... I guess I better get cracking on the new redesign. I have to check to see if my current host supports WordPress, otherwise, I have another domain hosted at a local Lansing company that does, and I'll migrate all my sites to that server instead.

I guess it forces me to finally clean everything up, but totally wasn't planning on spending my future free time doing that! And I've been a loyal Blogger customer since way before Google and Blogger Pro... I even have a "Blogger" hoodie that they sent me while I was in college as a thank you for my patronage. *sigh* I guess I'm part of the 0.5% that they won't miss leaving.

But I understand, and Blogger, you will be missed!

Now, on to Wordpress fun filled nights... as the nerd in me rubs their hands in excitement ;)

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Oh website, you poor, neglected soul. Life has been CRAZY with for the past month since the snowstorm, and ok, no excuses, I've been lazy about updates.

So to summarize, our household has been sick, work has been insane, and I feel like I'm going to lose my mind in my house if it does not warm up soon, and let us venture outside. Our last "adventure" to have lunch at a nearby restaurant ended in utter disaster when our sweet innocent child proceeded to puke his entire lunch all over the table, himself, the highchair, and the floor, and of course we were seated right next to the front door so that we could greet all the new restaurant people with the smell of curdled milk. *gag* I was so embarrassed, I am not quite sure when I'll be able to show my face back there. Even though the entire staff was super nice about it, we'll be looking for other non-eatery places to visit, so if sickness strikes again it won't be such a catastrophe. Oy.

House hunting... we're going on what, 2 years now? Well, after the last blow up about houses and not being able to agree on anything, I think it's temporarily on hold. I refuse to go on any more marathon house visit days until we can actually find houses that we are both excited about, and are in areas that if we like the house, we would actually consider putting an offer down. We've been travelling all over to "take a peek" at some of these properties, knowing full well that one of us does not like the area, and so even if we *did* like the house, it didn't matter. Silly, I know, so we're going to go at this more strategically from here on out... mark my words. I want to own a house this year!!! I seriously didn't think it would be this hard, but we really have different views on our idea of the "perfect" home.

And the excitement doesn't stop there :) We're expecting some visitors next week as Joe's parents drive down to stay with us for 5 days (Wed-Sun), and we're all excited since they have not seen Ben since the New Year. Then for St. Patrick's Day, we bought tickets to attend the RTCA (Radio Television Correspondents Association) dinner that evening (woohoo, black tie!), and then MY parents arrive on Friday to stay for a few days. This will give us a chance to visit some other friends on Saturday, and we're so excited!

So fun events, the weather is supposed to warm up to the 50's this weekend, and I was invited to go out with a few of the mom's this weekend for a "Mom's Night Out" :) Definitely need that, and hopefully that will allow me to de-stress a little.

More photos coming soon!

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site photographs copyright carrie a. nelson and regeti's photography