Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DIY--Menu Board

Today, I had the day off of work, and I decided to tackle a project that I had been contemplating for a while. That project being putting together a new menu board for our kitchen. So, I swung by Michael's to peruse craft supplies and pick out what I wanted to use. When I got home, I set up shop in the living to piece together my board. And I'm very happy and proud of the results.





To make your own:


Gather your supplies. Cork board, patterned paper, letters, "decor", double stick tape, glue, push pins, paper cutter/scissors. Cut your paper and arrange in a pattern that suits you leaving a space in the middle for the menu. Tape the paper pieces together and use the push pins to secure to the cork board. Add the letters and "decor". Hang and attach menu. Enjoy your menu board!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Little Anecdote and A Recipe

After telling this little anecdote to my husband last night, and he told me I should share it on my blog. So here we are. :) When I run in the mornings, I listen to Pandora, and the latter half of this week, there was an ad for a free tall House Blend coffee at participating Starbucks on Friday before noon. So, I decided that I could treat myself to a free coffee yesterday, and because I felt bad about not spending any money (and because I've been craving chocolate haha), I'd also buy a brownie. 

I proceeded to carry out my morning routine as per usual, leaving for work a little bit earlier than normal for my Starbucks stop. As I stood by the bakery case looking for the brownies, I glanced at the cold case with sandwiches, parfaits, etc., wondering to myself if I wanted to buy anything else while I was there. Just as I was deciding not to buy anything else, I realized that I had made one big misstep in my morning. While I managed to grab the fixings for my lunch, I hadn't remembered to grab my apple for breakfast. No breakfast=bad plan, especially when drinking coffee. And so, I ended up not only buying my brownie but also buying a protein breakfast pack, therefore spending far more money than I'd planned to. At least the coffee was free!

Moral of the story: don't forget your breakfast when stopping for free coffee!

Earlier this week, I made Baked Oatmeal Squares from this recipe here. I really like them, although don't make them expecting something supper sweet, because while they do have some sugar in them, they don't taste like dessert. The dried cherries really are the best part. The next time I make these, I'll probably put more in than the recipe calls for.




We've lots to do today. Buying plants for my balcony garden, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning around the house, buying a grill.....oh, yes, we're buying a grill. I'm so excited!! Hamburgers on the grill tomorrow for supper! :)

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Morning Thoughts #2

In the past month and a half, I've been running rather sporadically. A day or two here, another one there, skip a week, run a couple more days, etc. Clearly inconsistent, and of course I wasn't seeing any results that I wanted to. I wasn't motivated. I don't like running. I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. You get the picture.

Last weekend, I was thinking about a concept that the Christian ministry my husband and I are a part of talks about,  and I realized that I was thinking about my running all wrong. The concept is:



I had never thought to apply this concept to something so basic as running; it was only for more spiritual, enlightened things haha. But of course that isn't true. I realized that I needed to make the decision that I was going to run consistently first. Then I would begin to have the desire. The details would come in my increase of capability during my running: stamina, muscle strength, lung capacity. And eventually I would see the deliverance: distance running, toning of body, more energy.

So I made the decision. I ran Monday through Saturday of this past week. Friday, I hit my first stride where I felt that I could run forever. And every day I've had the desire to run. Mind=blown. I was beginning to think that I'd never be able to develop a desire for running. I'm so thankful for this past week of learning. I will continue to run. I will continue to have more energy. I will continue to have the desire. I will see the deliverance. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Running

It's rainy. And cold. But it's Friday, and I'm happy happy happy. Today was my 5th day of running (in a row), and I feel energized-accomplished-motivated-proud. Today is going to be a good day. :)



We design out own lives every day. We decide what we are and aren't going to do. We motivate ourselves or we don't. I'm not gonna be a wannabe runner much longer; I'll be one for real. 'Cause that's how I'm designing it. Happy happy happy! :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Evenings

Monday was the perfect spring evening. D. and I took an hour long walk down by the river, and then I cooked up a new recipe for dinner while listening to a French Cafe radio station on Pandora. We had some wine with our food and enjoyed having the balcony door and bedroom windows open. All in all, a great end to a beautiful day.



Normally, this quote I found on this blog here fits my perspective on Spring perfectly:

"I do not love spring. I love what it represents, to be sure. I love the new buds forming, the light scented air, the possibility of warmer days and nights, daylight savings time...But generally spring is windy and tricks you into thinking it's warm because the sun is out, but really it's cold. And I find the whole season just slightly irritating."

When I read this yesterday, I had to laugh out loud because finally someone has expressed exactly how I feel about Spring. Except yesterday didn't really fit into Spring. It was definitely a Summer day. 80 degrees. Sunny. HOT. But I got to wear a dress to work and not freeze, so not complaining. Even if it was much to hot to sleep last night. Ah, well.... :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Crocheting: Project in Progress

I'm an occasional, mostly a wannabe, crochet-er. Meaning, every few years, I get the urge to dabble in crocheting (my Mom taught me the basics when I was a kid), and so I pull out some yarn and a crochet hook, brush up my skills, crochet a few lines, and ultimately lose interest in whatever it is that I'm "making." It's very uninspiring, really. But a few months ago, I was inspired to start and really make the effort to finish something. What is that something you ask? Why, a blanket! I've wanted to crochet a blanket for years but have never taken the time to really put in the work and effort to achieve that dream.

Now, I'm not writing here tonight to declare to the world that I've finally managed to finish a crocheting project (soon, soon!). However, I've made awesome progress, more progress than I've every made before, so I decided to offer a sneak peak of my blanket.



My target finish timeline (that I'm making up even as I type haha) is around the end of April, which should be very doable even with only working on it a few nights a week. And I can already say that it makes a great nap blanket, because I've unintentionally tested it out :)

Everyday, it seems recently, I'm inspired by a blog that I read or something that I find on Pinterest; whether it's a new project or a recipe to try or a quote, I feel like I'm brimming with potential and excitement. And love. Can't leave that out! I'm brimming and overflowing with love for my husband; he makes me so happy. Yes, I'm one happy, joyful girl!

I can't wait to share some of the projects I'm looking forward to getting into in the coming months. Stay tuned to the Chronicles!

Friday, March 22, 2013

English Muffin Bread

On Wednesday, while I was at work, I randomly got a craving for homemade bread. I'm not really sure why haha although it may have had something to do with the blogs I was reading during the day. But I really wanted some homemade bread. So, that night, I pulled out my recipe for English Muffin Bread, and after making sure that I had all the ingredients (thankfully I had a bit of milk left), I whipped up the simple but yummy savory bread. It was actually even easy to make than I had remembered; that was nice to discover lol. As soon as it came out of the oven, D. asked for a slice. I made him wait a few minutes for it to cool first :) 

Now in the plans for the weekend: make more English Muffin Bread. The loaf I baked on Wednesday is almost gone already!



Gather the ingredients:

Cornmeal
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup milk
1/4 Cup water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Grease a 8x4x2-inch loaf pan. Lightly sprinkle pans with enough cornmeal to coat bottom and sides; set pans aside.

In a medium mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and baking soda; set aside. In a saucepan heat and stir milk, water, sugar, and salt until just warm. Using a wooden spoon, stir milk mixture into flour mixture. Stir in remaining flour.



Place dough in prepared pan. Sprinkle top with cornmeal.



Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 45 minutes. I heated up my oven to 225 degrees and placed the covered pan on top of the stove with the range light on; it doubled perfectly.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove bread from pan. Cool on a wire rack.





This is actually half of the original recipe as I only wanted to make one loaf rather than two. But I mention this as it would be very easy to make more than one loaf at a time. Enjoy!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers


I wasn't planning on writing a blog entry for these Southwestern Stuffed Peppers. It was more of a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing! Since I've started this blog, most of the posts that I've done have been pre-planned and pre-written; doing it this way has (at least when I pre-plan and pre-write haha) helped me stay motivated and a smidge more consistent in my blogging. But as I've been procrastinating on actually doing some of the projects and cooking that I've pre-written.....it's kinda hard to blog about them! So instead, I decided in the middle of my cooking to snap some pictures and write about my newest try-out recipe that turned out to be a smash hit. I know so since D. told me to say that they were "yummy!" Such a sweet, supporting husband I have. :)

Of course, I found this recipe via Pinterest. After scanning the recipe, I thought it looked intriguing enough to try. Good decision! Click here for the recipe. Something that I appreciated about the way this recipe was written is that it can be adapted for your eating preferences: meat, vegetarian, vegan. So while we enjoy the meaty version in our house, adapt as suits you! I also really like the southwestern flare; it adds a fun, different taste compared to what I'm used to in stuffed peppers.

Side note: I somehow managed to make far too much stuffing, plus I think my bell peppers were much smaller than hers due to it still being in the middle of winter here....oops! I added the extra to the bottom of the baking dish before putting it back into the oven. We'll have a lot more leftovers than I had planned for, but I'm not complaining; I can't wait to take them for lunch!







In other news, our family is adapting well to the new addition! Lucy still seems to be getting the balance on when we leave and when we're home, and I'm still getting used to her play time at 3 AM......sigh. But we're having so much fun with our little kitty; she's quite the entertainer!



Isn't she just so cute? :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Meet Lucy

I mentioned in my first blog post of the year that we were thinking of adding to our family....well, we've finally done it! We've officially become cat people with our very first pet :)



Meet Lucy. Middle name Rae (cause why shouldn't a pet have a middle name haha). She's a cuddler and quite feisty, and we're very excited to have her! She's settling in nicely for her first evening here, and she's already started to curiously nose into places she shouldn't be; she is, after all, a cat.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Beef and Barley Stew

Recently, my husband has been pestering, er, lovingly suggesting that I find a recipe to cook in the Dutch oven that we received as a Holiday present. Even though I was originally waiting to use it to bake some sort of bread (still planning on that), I decided to do as he asked and peruse the internet for a recipe for dinner this week. So I skipped on over to my trusty friend, Google, and came across a recipe for Beef and Barley Stew. It looked yummy and do-able without a terrible amount of work (always something I look at with new recipes); and since I would be done with work earlier than normal today and have some extra time for cooking, I picked it as our try-out recipe of the week.

It was a good choice! Although I believe that the original recipe was supposed to come out more as a soup, ours turned out as a stew and I'm glad, because it was de-lish! D. and I both agreed that this recipe was definitely going into the repertoire.

If you're inspired by this recipe and would like to make it but don't have a Dutch oven, you could easily whip this up in a large pot.



Gather the ingredients:

     8 oz. sirloin steak, cut into bit-size pieces
     1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
     4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
     1/2 to 1 whole onion, chopped
     1 large carrot, sliced
     2 tablespoons tomato paste
     1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
     3/4 cup barley
     4 cups (32 oz.) beef broth
     1 cup water
     1/4 teaspoon salt

Sprinkle steak with a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add steak  and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl. 

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, onion, and carrot to the pot and cook, stirring until beginning to soften. Add tomato paste and thyme and cook, stirring, until the veggies are coated with the tomato paste and beginning to brown.



Add barley, broth, water, salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain simmer; cook until barley is tender, about 40 minutes.  Return beef to pot and heat through. Remove from heat and enjoy!



Side note: my husband doesn't really pester me, but I have to tease him sometimes. ;)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

This Love Day...


…I am so happy. This day and every day; it’s a blast to experience this life with my best friend. Who knew marriage would be this fun? It just keeps getting better and sweeter. I love my Babe :)

Last night, I made chocolate dipped strawberries for us to enjoy today. Yum!





Friday, February 8, 2013

Winter's New Look

It's February, and I've hit the itchy part of winter where I long to change something up. Namely with my hair. It never fails to happen haha. So, I hopped over to my hairdresser and said, "Let's play!" She loves me; I'm always asking her to do something different, and we have fun. Yay! So happy!



Also, I got to meet my hairdresser's husband, and he told me to blog about it, so there! Done! They make a great couple, and they're cute together too :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Morning Thoughts #1

Over the past few weeks, I've embarked on what I consider to be two huge projects: organizing the office and organizing the bedroom! Now, one would think that having been married 8 months and me living in our apartment 9 months, this would already be a done deal. Er, not so much. I've found that it's been a lot harder than I imagined to combine two people's things, especially when one of the people (me!) has a lot of stuff. We've come a long way, gotten rid of stuff, gotten rid of more stuff, organized, reorganized, and finally it all seems to be coming together. It's not finished, but we're getting closer!

Organizing our life together has definitely been a process, though. And not one that I really wanted to tackle most of the time. We probably could have had the results that we're seeing now sooner if I had decided to motivate myself sooner. Making the decision is the key. It's easy to put things off, saying, "I'll do that later." But then all the I'll-do-that-later's start to build up, and you're overwhelmed with all of the work to do and don't know where to start.

Just pick a place and start. It's as easy and as hard as that. Make the decision, draw yourself a schedule if you work that way, and then dive in. Putting things off doesn't help you in the long-run; I'm the ultimate procrastinator, I would know. :)

Who you are, what you do, who and what is around you is up to you. Every morning we're given a new day. Make yourself.



And remember: don't just be a wannabe; DO!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lasagna Roll-Ups


A while back, I posted about White Veggie Lasagna, and in that post, I mentioned that I don’t really like lasagna all that much. Now I’m blogging about lasagna again, and I don’t think people are going to believe that I don’t like lasagna haha. I suppose that a better statement would be that I don’t prefer traditional lasagna, but rather variations.

I’ve spent some time thinking over the years of making Lasagna Roll-Ups as to why I like them so much, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because they aren’t overly cheesy or saucy but have a good balance of meat and other flavors. Flavor is, to me, my favorite part about eating.

I originally found this recipe in one of my mother’s cookbooks. The first time I made it, I bought the wrong type of tomatoes and didn’t even realize it until the next time I made the recipe and used the right type of tomatoes. However, I liked the way the Lasagna Roll-Ups tasted the first time I made them better, with the “wrong” type of tomatoes, and so I decided to use those from there on out when I made this recipe.



Gather the ingredients:

     6 lasagna noodles, cooked
     1 lb ground beef
     2 tablespoons minced onions
     1 garlic clove, minced
     1 can diced tomatoes
     ½ teaspoon salt
     ½ teaspoon oregano
     1 to 1 ¼ cups small-curd cottage cheese
     1 egg, lightly beaten
     1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
     ¼ teaspoon onion powder
     ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a skillet, cook beef, onion, and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add tomatoes, salt, oregano; simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon half of the meat sauce into a greased 9-in. square baking dish.


In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, egg, parsley, and onion powder. Spread ¼ cupful of cheese mixture onto each noodle. Top with remaining meat sauce. Carefully roll up each noodle and place in baking dish.




Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Note: Serving size is approximately 2 roll-ups. This recipe is very easily doubled to make for more people. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

DIY--Easy Pillow Slip Covers


I’m dedicating this post to my good friend, Justin, who first encouraged me to start a blog. I’ve really been enjoying all aspects of blogging, from thinking up and doing posts, to designing and redesigning (and redesigning again lol) the look of my blog. I’ve really been striving to carry out what I originally stated as my blog’s purpose: to stop just being a wannabe and actually do some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I’m not perfectly there; I definitely have some big areas that I want to start making waves in (namely being more organized at home and getting rid of the mess haha), but I’ve been pleased with my progress so far. So, thanks Justin; I gave you the blame when I first started this venture, and now I’ll give you the praise! :)

I LOVE being crafty! Really, I love being crafty with a purpose. There are a lot of simple craft ideas out there…..but a lot of them are things that I would never use. I don’t like to make a project that I ultimately won’t use just because I want something to do. So, I look for ideas that I think are useful or practical. My recent pattern has been to search Pinterest after I finish my Facebook time to see if I can find any good ideas. Which is how I found the project I’m blogging about today.

I think pillows are wonderful. They’re fun d├ęcor that add warmth to furniture. When I’m at a store, I could spend quite some time just looking at all the pillows. The only problem with them is that they are expensive! “You want HOW much for this pillow?” I feel like asking. I just look at them and know that I can’t really justify the expense, nor would my husband appreciate me spending that kind of money on pillows. So, I was really excited when I came across the tutorial for these easy pillow slip-covers.

The best part about these (other than being easy to make haha)? I was able to get 4 pillow forms for just over $20 total, plus approximately $10 for fabric…..voila! Four pillows done for around $30. Yay!

I followed this tutorial here. However, I'm also going to blog this tutorial myself.

To make your own:

Gather a pillow form, 1/2 to 1 yard of fabric (depending on how many pillows you'll be making and the size; I made 14" by 14" pillows and used about 3/4 of a yard for two), thread, and your sewing machine.



Wash and iron the fabric. Cut the fabric two times the width of the pillow form plus 6 inches by the height of the pillow plus 1 inch. For example, for a 14" by 14" pillow, the width would be 34" by a height of 15".



Iron and sew a rolled hem on both short sides of the fabric.





Place the pillow form in the middle of the fabric, right side up. Fold one side of the fabric over the pillow until centered and then fold the other over until snug around the pillow form. Pin the fabric together at the top and bottom.





Carefully remove the pillow form and repin all three layers of fabric. Sew the top and bottom edges with a half inch seam allowance (I cut my fabric a little larger than I meant to, so my seam allowances ended up being more like 1 inch each; if this happens to you, adjust the seam allowance as necessary).



Turn the slip cover right side out and poke out the corners with a point turner (or whatever pointy type instrument you happen to have on hand lol). Insert the pillow form, and you're done! You're very own homemade pillow!