Thursday, July 28, 2011

How Pinteresting!

I joined Pinterest!  I'm going to go ahead and label Pinterest as the hottest trend in social media right now.  Anyone agree?

If you're thinking "What is Pinterest?  Why the fuss?"  Check out this post from Bebehblog, it has some great tips too!

Follow me and I'll follow you!  I am having so much fun looking at everyone's pins!

Here's my "Wreaths" Pinboard:


Monday, July 18, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Quick Meals for 1 (or 2!)

Last week I shared with you a peek at my freezer and some of the tips I use to help me cook quick, healthy meals at home for just one person.  I've taken a few pics of some of the actual meals I made over the past week to share!

My 3 "Cooking For One" Tips:
1.  Individually freeze your protein.  It's a lot easier to pull out one piece of chicken in the morning to defrost than it is to defrost a whole pack and figure out what do with it all!

2.  Have quick and healthy sides on hand, like brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta. 

3.  Include a veggie with your meal every night!  Frozen veggies, a salad, grilled veggies - whatever! 

1.  Marinated grilled chicken (marinade = EVOO, balsamic vinegar, garlic, fresh herbs)
2.  Brown rice w/ a dash of salt and pepper
3.  Zucchini spears - drizzled with EVOO, garlic salt and then grilled

1.  Burger, pre-made and frozen with local grass-fed beef - topped with a slice of cheese and some guac
2.  Ian's Natural Sweet Potato Fries 
3.  Grilled head of romaine lettuce w/ a little feta (cut a head of romaine in half, drizzle with EVOO, grill!) 

1.  Tilapia - seasoning sprinkled on top, then panko crumbs - baked in the oven
2.  Whole Wheat angle hair pasta tossed with some pesto
3.  Sauteed asparagus

The "Splurge" Dinner!
1.  Taco meat, made using another portion of the beef I used in my burger
2.  Organic blue corn chips
3.  The veggies in this one came courtesy of a half cup serving of homemade salsa!
4.  The extras:  Cabot cheese, shredded at home, Wholly Guacamole, sour cream

Sharing, as usual, with Jen @ Beauty and Bedlam!

Monday Melody - Farther Along

My friend, Sharon, recently posted a link to this artist on her Facebook and I can't stop listening to him!  Thanks for sharing, Sharon!  Josh Garrels reminds me of a mix of Mumford & Sons, Gavin DeGraw, a little One Republic, and even some Sarah Maclachlan.  A soulful, folky type of music that makes great background, but if you stop and listen to the lyrics it will suck you in.

The song that she posted, and that sticks with me, is called "Farther Along".

In this 2nd summer without Isaac, I've found myself pondering the question of "why" a lot more than any other time.  In Rain of Me, Holley Gerth writes of a time when she was in a grief support group.  The facilitator asked how many of them wanted to know "why", and of course every hand in the room went up.  The facilitator then asked "Would it make the hurt go away?"  And of course, the answer is no.  Even if we knew why these heartaches happen, it wouldn't make the heartache stop.  Isaac would still be gone.  This song reminded me that someday, somewhere on the other side of eternity, we'll understand it all.

Enjoy the song, and if you visit Josh Garrels's website, you can download his whole album for FREE!  Sweet!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Easy Marinara

This is an easy, healthy marinara sauce from Rachael Ray.

As I mentioned in my "vlog" last week, I like to freeze pasta sauces into muffin tins for easy portion control and storage.  This sauce freezes really well!

Also, every ingredient, with the exception of the olive oil, is a vegetable - so if you freeze 1/2 cup portions of this sauce, you are getting a serving of veggies every time you eat it!  I don't care for eggplant by itself, but you really can't taste it in this recipe when combined with the other flavors.

Smoky Roasted Eggplant Marinara

1 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise
salt and pepper
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 head of garlic
2 red bell peppers
1 (28 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes


1.  Preheat the oven to 450.

2.  Drizzle eggplant with EVOO, sprinkle with salt/pepper, place squash face down on a cookie sheet and roast for 45-60 minutes until tender.

3.  Cut the head of garlic to expose the clove ends.  Drizzle with EVOO, wrap in foil, and place on the cookie sheet alongside the eggplant. (here's a quick tutorial of this step if you've never roasted a whole head of garlic before)

4.  Char red peppers either on a grill or over an open-flame on a gas burner.  Transfer to a bowl and cover until cool enough to handle.  Peel and seed the peppers and roughly chop.

5.  When the eggplant is done and cool enough to handle, scoop out the inside flesh.

6.  Add the eggplant to a food processor along with garlic (just squeeze it out of the head) and peppers. Puree until most of the lumps are out.

7.  Bring your pasta to a boil and reserve 1 cup of starchy cooking water.

8.  Empty the can of tomatoes into a saucepan and mash with a potato masher.  Add in the eggplant mixture and heat.  Add starchy pasta water a little at a time until the sauce is as thin as you like it!

For your leftover sauce, simply fill muffin tins with about 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Pop the tin in the freezer and freeze until solid.  Pull the tin out and pop the "sauce cubes" out like ice cubes.  Store in a Ziploc baggie.

Sharing this with Beauty and Bedlam!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My First VLOG!

Welcome to my first ever "vlog" (video blog)!  It was sort of a last minute decision, so the narration in the beginning was completed around 11:00pm...and you can tell - haha!

I tried doing a "summary" at the end but the audio was off with my webcam and my voice sounded like Frankenstein!

My 3 "Cooking For One" Tips:
1.  Individually freeze your protein.  It's a lot easier to pull out one piece of chicken in the morning to defrost than it is to defrost a whole pack and figure out what do with it all!

2.  Have quick and healthy sides on hand, like brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta.

3.  Include a veggie with your meal every night!  Frozen veggies, a salad, grilled veggies - whatever!

You can make a quick (and healthy!) meal as easy as 1, 2, 3!  For example:
1.  Cod sprinkled with seasoning, wrapped in foil, and thrown on the grill.
2.  Angel hair pasta cooks up really fast in some boiling water.
3.  Saute some zucchini in a little olive oil and garlic salt, when the pasta is done cooking, add it to the zucchini.
4.  Voila - grilled fish with a side!

My other trick with angel hair pasta is to always have some sauce on hand.  I take a jar of spaghetti sauce and freeze individual portions in a muffin tin.  Then store those "sauce cubes" in a big Ziploc bag.  It's so easy to make the pasta, defrost a "sauce cube" and throw together a salad for an easy spaghetti dinner!
Shared with Women Living Well!

Thankful Thursday - Girl Power

One of the biggest things in my life that I am SO thankful for is my girlfriends!  I am blessed with an amazing bunch of ladies I can call, text, or email with my prayer requests, celebrations, heartaches, and everyday life "stuff".

Some of the girlfriends in my life...

BFF Michelle...who understands that the only way to NOT be bored at a baseball game is to bring magazines.

Mentor, 2nd Mom, and all-around gal pal...Cindy!

The "Purple Circle" - an amazing group of women I taught 5th grade with! (plus Michele, who is not pictured but still loved!)

Matron of Honor, sister at heart...Mandy

Former neighbor, sister-in-Christ, Kristy 

Girlfriend Getaway Ministry Team

Bethany, Hilary, Michelle - I just have no words for this picture - haha!

Longtime friends and former college roommates, Kristin and Kellie

"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!"
(Ecc. 4:9-10)


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday Word - Waiting

original image source - edits added


It seems like this is another "W" word in my life that I don't like. 

Something that's been on my mind the past week or so is a new lie I've been hearing from Satan.  A very close friend of mine teaches beautifully on this concept of Satan's lies.  Highlighting Ephesians 6, she points out that as Christ-followers, we are subjected to "the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16).  In order to defend from those lies, we must "take up the shield of faith" (Eph. 6:16).  To take up this shield, we must first identify the lie.  Then, replace that lie with God's Truth.

There has been this lie rolling around in my head for the past month, but it wasn't until a few days ago that I actually was able to put that lie into 'sentence' form.  The lie is this:  "You're already 30.  You've missed your chance to have a family.  It's too late".  That lie, along with the other big lie I hear ("You've already had one husband.  What makes you think you deserve another one?"), have the power to tear me down...IF I LET THEM.

So I started working on the "replace the lie with God's Truth" part of this process and came across this simple line from one of my favorite books of the Bible, Hosea.

"wait for your God always"

It's short enough for me to memorize quickly.  It's simple enough to whisper in a moment of quiet desperation when I simply feel attacked.  It's beautiful Truth.  God isn't holding out on me. He didn't somehow miss the fact that I am lonely.  He didn't accidentally give me the desire to have a family.   He hasn't forgotten that I'm here.  

He. Loves. Me.

Even though I don't like it...and it's not always easy...I will wait for Him.

And, while I am waiting, I know He is listening.  Just last week, as I was starting to work this all out, my friend Elaine e-mailed me out of the blue with a quote that she read that made her think of me.  I just love when God does things like that.

"Waiting on God isn't about the suspension of meaning and purpose. It's part of the meaning and purpose that God has brought into my life.  Waiting on God isn't to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan.  Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn't simply about what I'll receive at the end of my wait.  No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I'll become as I wait.  God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He's promised. Through the wait He's changing me.  By means of the wait He's altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires.  Through the wait He's causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom.  And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands."  Paul Tripp

Sharing this with Women Living Well and Internet Cafe Devotions

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Lentil Quinoa Salad

I saw this recipe in a magazine and it intrigued me...mostly because I've had a bag of lentils sitting in my cabinet for months without cooking them!  This meal is a great side, but with the lentils, quinoa, and pine nuts, it could also make a great vegan main dish!  I actually didn't love it at first, but after a few bites I was sold!  Yum!

The original recipe is what I'm posting.  I made it without putting it on a bed of arugula, only a few tablespoons of chopped mint, and I used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine.

Lentil-Quinoa Salad with Fresh Ginger

1 quartwater
3/4 cupdried green lentils, rinsed
1/2 cupdried quinoa
2 ouncesfresh asparagus tips cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cupPompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cupPompeian Pomegranate Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp.grated ginger
1 1/4 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp.coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp.dried pepper flakes
1 cupchopped fresh mint leaves
2 ouncespine nuts, toasted
6 cupsmix arugula and radicchio leaves
1. Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the lentils, reduce heat, cover and simmer 17 minutes. Add the quinoa, cover and cook 7 minutes. Add asparagus and cook 2 minutes or until asparagus is just tender crisp. Drain and run under cold water to completely cool. Shake off excess water.

2. Meanwhile, combine the oil, vinegar, ginger, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Add the cooled lentil mixture, mint, and pine nuts to the oil mixture and toss gently, until well coated.

4. Serve over arugula and radicchio mix.

Sharing this with Tasty Tuesdays!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Monday Melody - Manifesto

Today's song is pretty simple, no deep thoughts behind why I love brain is a bit tired today.  My BFF Michelle's husband, Herb, is a part-time radio deejay at our local Christian radio station.  He introduced me to the song I'm sharing with you today!  It's become pretty popular on Christian radio, so you may have heard it before.

The City Harmonic - Manifesto

A few reasons why I love this song:

1.  It simply states some solid Christian doctrine: 
-We believe in the one true God.
- We believe in Father, Spirit, Son.
- We believe that Good has won.

2.  PIANO ROCK.  I love any "rock" music in which someone totally rocks out on a piano.

3.  The video is fun to watch.  What's not to love about a whole bunch of people jamming out about Jesus?

If you happen to be on YouTube checking out this video, take a listen to their songs "I Am" and "Coming My Way" while you're there. So good! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's the Little Things...

Yesterday I unveiled my office/craft room makeover with a promise to post about some of the "details" in the room.  So here goes...

1.  The desk:

This desk comes to me by way of my mom, by way of my great-grandma (or possibly great-great-grandma, I can't remember).  The desk was originally painted, then my mom stripped the paint and applied a light stain.  The desk resided in my parents' house for as long as I've been alive!  When my parents sold their house, this desk was one of the pieces I wanted.  I painted the desk dark grey using leftover paint from the guest bedroom, and added the pretty pink glass knobs (found at Target).  

2.  The bookshelf

This bookshelf was built by my grandfather.  The top of the shelf is actually made using wood from a bowling alley!  I painted it to match the desk and fit the room.  Also, if you look at the 2nd shelf, there are some important memories there.  On the left is a photo of the bright pink Gerber daisies similar to those used in my wedding.  In the middle is a jar of dried roses that Isaac's parents bought for me on Valentine's Day of 2010, just 10 days before he died.  His mom even found a little card he had written that says "To: My Love, From: Isaac, her husband".  They gave me the roses knowing that's what Isaac would have wanted!  And finally, the round pink and black box was used as a card holder at our wedding and now holds memories from that awesome day!

3.  The Wall Art
This was easy-peasy to make!  I just took 4 canvases and used my staple gun to attach fabric and pink ribbon to them! They were actually in the "original" black/white/aqua office, so all I had to do was add the pink ribbon!

I made this collage art last year for the original office colors.  To make it fit this space, all I had to do was Mod Podge some pink paper over top of the stripe that used to be aqua.  The link to the tutorial is here, it's really easy and super cheap!

This photo/memo board was made using an old cork board.  I simply removed the frame, and used my trusty staple gun to attach a layer of batting, a layer of fabric, and then my pink ribbons.  I staple gunned the intersecting ribbons down and then hot glued little sequin/gem things over top of the staples.  You can find all kinds of tutorials for boards like these if you Google "cork board redo" or something similar.

4.  Quick and Crafty Accents
This lamp was made by wrapping an off-white lamp shade with some white satin ribbon I had.  I then made a felt flower using this method, and hot glued it on with a piece of pink ribbon to accent!

I don't have a tutorial for this sewing machine cover.  It all kind of came out of my crazy brain.  I sewed together 2 pieces of white fabric, then added the pink ruffle and the black satin yo-yo flower (here's a tutorial for that) and a piece of ribbon to cover up the terrible job I did sewing the ruffle on.  Haha!

I did nothing to create this other than attaching it to the wall!  This whole set-up is from Ikea and cost less than $10.  I debated with where to place this, originally planning to put it under the black shelf that hangs above my sewing desk.  I decided to put it here because it is so convenient!  I find that the more convenient the storage is, the more likely I am to actually put things away.  So this is right within reach when I am sewing and crafting!

5.  The CHAIRS!
I hunted for the perfect chairs for a long time.  I wanted dining room chairs that I could re-cover, like I did with my dining room chairs.  I had a budget in mind of trying to get the pair for around $75.  I checked various stores and Craigslist.  I ended up finding this pair at Salvation Army for FIFTEEN DOLLARS!  I bought my fabric for $8 at JoAnn's (with a 50% off coupon) and used 3 cans of spray paint (one of primer, 2 of color) for $10.  That makes these 2, custom, DIY, PINK chairs....a total of under $35!

So there you have it, folks!  A completed office that I am enjoying right now as I type this blog!  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Office Makeover!

I am SO EXCITED about this latest room makeover!  It might be my favorite in the whole house.  This may turn into a really long post filled with more than you ever wanted to know about my office, so I'll apologize in advance.

Let's begin with what the "office" looked like when the previous owners lived here:
Yes...mustard yellow walls and LOTS of oak.  It's not a very large room (maybe 10x8), so 2 dressers and a twin bed really filled up the place.  

When we first moved in, Isaac's mom, Barb, painted the room this pretty aqua color for us.  The original color palette was black/white/aqua.  I loved that color, but as I started using the room I found that the shad of aqua I had picked was a little too bright/saturated or something for this small of a room.  I would straighten the room up, but then it still was missing something, so it'd just get cluttered.  It ended up functioning as a "junk room" and it looked like this:

Piles and piles and piles of stuff everywhere.

Once the room was straightened up a bit more, it looked like this:

Better...but still not what I was hoping for.  Also, see that big black "wardrobe" type thing in the corner up there?  I tore that sucker down to the studs.  Big thanks to my friend, Eric, who then came over and tore it the rest of the way down!  I guess it was some sort of makeshift closet, but for me - it just took up space!

And looks like THIS!

Here are some Before/Afters:

Antique Desk/Computer Area

IKEA desk/sewing table

There are a lot of fun little touches in this room that I made or found along the way that you can find out about HERE!


Thirty Hand Made Days