Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NEST: wash and dry

When I moved into my new apartment, I had been doing laundry for years. However, for some reason I couldn't find the lint trap on my dryer. It was nowhere to be found! After a few months, I mentioned this to Courtney and she explained a few more places where it might be. Lo and behold! I basically had a carpet hanging out in my dryer.

It made me realize that it might be time to brush up on my skills. I've since gathered a few washer and dryer  tips:

  • You can fill a front-loader to the brim, but don't cram clothes past where the last row of holes is near the door. And in a top-loader, don't go above the central column. Avoiding this will allow your clothes to move freely and stay wrinkle free. 
  • Don't add extra detergent - it does not get things any cleaner, and actually can lead extra residue, making your clothes look dingy.
  • Leave the washer door open after each load to avoid mildew. 
  • Don't over wash clothes that don't get worn too often. For example, if you only wear something to work, where you're indoors and sitting most of the day, you probably only need to wash it every few times you wear it. 
  • If your gym clothes are really stinky, rinse them in the sink immediately after working out. When you wash them, opt for hot water if you aren't a cold-water-only-girl.
  • If you're going to wash a down comforter, dry it on a low heat with a tennis ball to to fluff it. 

Happy washing :)

image via

Monday, June 27, 2011

PRAY: Summertime

I love how much quieter our schedule becomes in the summertime.

I love warm mornings spent in grubby clothes going for a run, and doing yard work and heading to the pool.  I love not feeling rushed to get ready for the day.  I love the carefree long days.

But one thing I do miss during the summer is my weekly Bible study.  I have a wonderful study that meets during the school year that provides me with amazing fellowship and helps to keep me grounded.  And I miss it dearly over the summer.

This summer, a dear friend and I are planning to read a book and study it together.  While it won't be a formal Bible study, it will be great to challenge one another and help hold each other accountable.

There are so many options for studying the Word.  There are books that have study guides to help you along the process.  Or consider just reading a book with a friend and discussing it weekly.  There is also a wonderful online community of women coming together for Bible study here.  Check it out!

How do you challenge yourself spiritually over the summer?

Friday, June 24, 2011

MAKE: For the Little Girl in Your Life

Coming up with gift ideas for the little ones in my life is a delight, especially when the gift is something I can create. I love when inspiration strikes--I know just what I want to make and am pretty sure that the recipient will appreciate it.

My niece, Bella, loves playing with hair. Loves pink. Loves Rapunzel. With her birthday coming up in July, I wanted to create a special hair styling kit just for her--complete with brush, hair tie, barrette, and ribbon holders. I wanted it to be little girl appropriate, but functional enough that she could use it for years to come. I wanted it to be pink, of course.

Hair Styling Kit Tutorial
(Sorry this turned out to be longer than I had anticipated!)

Supplies: Two colors/patterns fabric (mine were 9" by 23" plus fabric for a small pocket), complementary color ribbon, one button, elastic, hair supplies
Cut two rectangles (9" by 23") of each fabric. (The bag folds into three sections--two 8", one 7" long. The 7" sections will fold in as the innermost layer.)
Cut one rectangle of outside fabric (6" by 14") for the interior pocket
 Making the pocket: Fold down and sew the short ends of the pocket fabric.
Fold fabric with right sides together to make the pocket. Leave extra length on one end to fold over. Sew down each side.
 Add velcro to fasten the pocket.
Attaching Elastics, Pockets, and Ribbon: Lay out all of the pieces that you plan to attach. I included a pocket for hair ties, elastic to hold the brush, and ribbons to attach barrettes and hair ribbons.
Sew the ends of the ribbons into place, leaving a tail on each end that will tuck into the seam at the sides. Then, sew each ribbon in three places to make four sections on each. Attach the pocket and the elastic for the brush.
 Attach a button to the exterior panel about 7 inches from the end.
Putting it Together: Pin right sides of panels together and sew around three sides, leaving one end open to attach the button loop.
 Cut a piece of batting that is slightly smaller than the bag (8 1/4" by 22")
 Insert the batting through the open end.

 Sew a fold line between each of the three sections.
 Fold the fabric under on the open end and insert your ribbon for a button loop. Sew straight across. (Ironing would probably be helpful...)
 Finishing: Add your hair supplies. And, share it with a little girl in your life.

What is your favorite gift you've given to a kiddo you know?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

EAT: veggie burgers

I’ve already admitted that I’m a veggie burger addict. And after months of making the recipe Courtney sent me* last fall, I think I am finally ready to share it. This is a big deal…

Corn and Two Bean Burgers:

2 T olive oil
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 c dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup corn (if canned, then drained)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large egg

For burgers, heat oil in a large skillet over med high.

Combine kidney beans and black beans in a bowl and partially mash with a fork. Add breadcrumbs, corn, onion and egg and stir until well combined. Add any spices you might want. FYI - I normally need more bread crumbs in order to get them to stick. Form into four to six patties. Add patties to pan and cook about four min on each side or until crisp and beginning to brown. If you’re making a large batch and freezing them, I prefer to freeze them raw, and then cook them later, but Courtney prefers to cook then freeze.

Also, I don’t do ketchup, but Courtney makes this Chipotle version for them. If you dare eat ketchup, I think this is the way to go…

For Chipotle Ketchup:
1/3 c ketchup
1 t honey
1 t lime juice
1/2 t chipotle chile powder
1/2 t cumin

Combine ingredients, add to burger, and enjoy!

*Are you noticing a pattern? Kind of a recipe thief…

Image via

Monday, June 20, 2011

PLAY: Free

We recently attended a polo match at a local vineyard.  The backdrop was picturesque and the entertainment was wonderful.  It was the perfect way to spend a warm spring afternoon.  And the best part was that it was free!

I think we often get stuck in a rut of thinking that entertainment comes at a cost.  However, there are so many activities that can be enjoyed without spending a dime.

Some of my favorite local activities (that you probably have in your city) include:

- Going to a park with a picnic.

- Enjoying a hot afternoon at a spray ground.

- Going to the library with a list of books you'd like to read in hand.  And if you have kids, enjoying story time at the library.

- Our city pools have several free days each summer where admission is waved.  

- Going on a strenuous hike.

- Having a lemonade stand.

- Hosting a pitch in cookout or picnic. (Just a small cost if everyone contributes!)

- Enjoying farmer's markets.

- All comers track meets (these sometimes cost $1 to participate in)

- Join a book club!

- Going to local museum exhibits.

- Start or join a playgroup.

- Going to a beach, lake, or river for a swim!

- Many cities have free outdoor summer concerts.  We adore these!

This is just a small list that might give you some ideas of some inexpensive summer entertainment.  

What are some of your favorite free summer activities?

Friday, June 17, 2011

NEST: Finding home on a business trip.

About a week ago, my husband learned that he was expected to be in Florida for work. He knew it was coming, but didn't expect to be given only 3 days notice prior to stepping foot into the office. I knew that if Griffin and I wanted to accompany Jose, I would have to do all of the preparation on our end, while Jose prepared for the work he would do. I rushed around our house--cleaning, packing, watering plants, doing laundry. I made lists of things that make life more convenient and planned to pack them or think of alternatives we could find at our condo. I know, for example, that Griff does better with his special milk cup and water bottle to drink and his stuffed cow to sleep. I know that I need lightweight, comfortable long pants for evenings and our jogging stroller for my sanity.

Some people truly adore business travel. Since Jose was dreading it, I took it as a challenge to prove that it could be a fun and relaxing change of pace. I knew it would be a matter of making our condo feel like home. A few of the things I considered were what we would eat, how we would sleep and what we would do to make this business trip feel like vacation.

1. Food: If you can stay in a studio or one bedroom place with a kitchen, you have a huge advantage. You can end up making money off your food stipend if you don't eat out all the time.

Plan a menu for the week ahead of time. You may be more exhausted than normal with the pace of work or a time change and having a meal on the schedule keeps you from being tempted to give in to fast food joints. If you arrive the evening before you're expected to work, find the grocery and get your necessities.

If you always feel great when you eat eggs, toast, and a banana for breakfast, but your hotel offers a continental breakfast of Eggo waffles and doughnuts and bagels, make your own protein-rich meal. There may be a tiny twinge of guilt that you're not taking advantage of the "free food," but you'll feel better for it.

2. Sleep: Get enough of it. Bring your favorite pillow if you need it. Keep your normal bedtime and routine. Although you may be tempted to skimp on toiletries, so you don't need to check a bag, packing your regular face soap, night cream and toothpaste may help your brain prepare for sleep.

If you always sleep with a fan or noise maker, try to pack it or find a substitute. You could call ahead and ask if you could borrow a fan from maintenance. Making yourself comfortable at night will make each day a little brighter.

3. Vacation: You're traveling, so you should get to pamper yourself just a bit. Plan a meal or two out during the week at restaurants that locals recommend. If you're near the beach, take a walk or run on the sand each night after work. Buy yourself a cup or two of fancy coffee on your way into the office. Or, (what I'm longing for) schedule a pedicure at a nearby spa.
Griffin and Jose on our family business trip.

Try to Keep Your Green Going: Buy only what you need at the grocery store--just because it's on sale does not mean you need a family-size bottle of ketchup. Travel with your own toiletries, instead of buying the travel-size shampoo. Pack a water bottle that you can refill, so you won't feel the need to buy bottled water. Borrow a map of the area and plot out any errands that you need to run to prevent wasting gas driving all over town. Ask about recycling at your hotel or condo so you can be responsible with the trash that you will inevitably create.

Just remember: If it's really important to you, take it with you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PRAY: Hakuna Matata

Courtney sent me this devotional, and I’ve been reading it lately when I have a hard time letting my mind rest.  

"Rest in me, my child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. 
Pray continually, asking my Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. 
Remember that you are on a journey with Me. 
When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your constant Companion who sustains you moment by moment. 
As you gaze anxiously into the distance, you don't even feel the strong grip of My hand holding yours. 
Remembrance of Me is a daily discipline.  Never lose sight of my presence with you.  This will keep you resting in Me all day, every day."

Regardless of what trials we are all facing, it’s always important to remember that we’re not in control – so there really is no point in trying to micromanage the future. Instead, we ought to bask in the glory that is the present day.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

MAKE: These are the Days

I admit to having a type-A personality.

I prefer to be organized.  And productive.  There are certain things I expect of myself in a given day.  And sometimes I have a hard time just letting down.

And since Crosby's birth, I have desired to be creative and also "productive" with my sewing machine.

However, many other things have trumped sewing and creating...such as feeding and snuggling a new baby at home.

And while I have not created much with my hands as of late, I am creating the most wonderful and beautiful bond with my baby.  Holding him late at night and having him fall asleep on my chest is the most amazing feeling in the world.

As the fog is settling after bringing a new baby home, I am remembering that I need to give myself grace in the weeks ahead.  And I am also remembering that while I may not be making something tangible with my hands, I am making something so important and lovely...I am making wonderful connections with my baby and I am helping to form the bonds that tie our new family of five together.

I truly love to create things, but sometimes I think we need to take a step back and find the joy and creativity in things far less our relationships with family and friends and with the Lord.  And remember that these are the days...

Friday, June 10, 2011

EAT: Honey-Chile Chicken

June is a bit unpredictable in Colorado. Arapahoe Basin could still be open for skiing. We could be burning up at 95 degrees. Possibly both. Who knows? One certainty is that the farmer's markets will be open. While the local produce selection is slim pickings in late spring, there will without a doubt be a large chile roaster at the end of the row of booths. Which means we are buying freshly roasted green chile. My husband wants it in his eggs, on his sandwiches, and stirred in with his rice. I try to come up with some new ways to mix in the green chiles each time we buy them. I decided to try this recipe on the fly and we all enjoyed the results.

2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 large roasted green chiles

Whisk the honey, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together.
Dice the green chile. Mix half of it into the honey mixture.
Cut the chicken breasts into four pieces. I cut them in two directions--holding the knife vertically and then horizontally.
Mix the chicken in with the honey mixture.
Cover the bowl with a plate (then you don't need plastic wrap) and allow it to marinate for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and spread your chicken out on it.
Bake it for 20-30 minutes, turning half-way through. (This would also be excellent on the grill!)
Once it is fully cooked, top it with the remaining green chile.
 Serving options:
Wild rice and a side salad
Tortillas and Asian slaw
Roasted asparagus and fresh bread
As a salad over spinach and arugula with tomatoes and a vinaigrette
(Plenty for leftovers!)

Let us know if you give it a try!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

PLAY: Summer hostess gifts for under $30

Hostess gift ideas are abundant around Christmas, but what's a girl to do when she needs a fab summer friendly suggestion? Cookouts abound this time of year, and I always want to take something casual and sunshine-filled (yet on the cheap) for my friends, as they all really are the mostest.

1. Somebody's Mother's sauces: These treats come in a variety of flavors and add a whole lot of yum to any dessert (did somebody say ice cream?). And for only $10, they're perfect for the perfect hostess.
2. Swanson Vineyards wine: Nothing says thank you better than, well, merci. Lovely on the outside, and on the inside.

3. A Prokadima set: You suddenly look extra awesome, as you bring a gift and the entertainment. I assure you, you'll be the hit of the party.
4. Martinique lantern: Keep the fun going by providing light after dark. Cute and useful! Just like you.

5. Ice cream ball maker: Just like the Prokadima set, this gift is full of fun. Add your ingredients and toss around for 20 minutes - before you know it, you've got dessert. (You'll score major points if you pull Somebody's Mother's Carmel out of your purse at this point...).
Happy party hopping!

Monday, June 6, 2011

NEST: Yard Sale

As the warm weather is here, yard sales surround us on Saturday mornings.  

Yard sales make me so happy because they make me think of warm weather, wonderful finds and deals, simplifying life and of the dozens of garage sales my mom had in my youth.  

My mom was a garage sale master...she would make hundreds of dollars over the course of a few hours and would purge our house of unwanted clutter in the process.  I remember feeling like the morning of a garage sale was such an adventure and I loved having the opportunity to make a few dollars!  

 A few springs ago, I hosted a yard sale with a couple of friends and we employed many of my mom's tricks to make our yard sale a success.  Here are a few of them:

- Start preparing for the yard sale weeks in advance.  Go through your house room-by-room and closet-by-closet to collect items for your sale.  Have a staging area in your house to store the sale items.

- Price the items in advance prior to setting them out the day of the sale.  Be reasonable and price things to sell.  If you have an item that is truly valuable or hard for you to part with, do the research to see what is a reasonable sale price.  It is acceptable to price it to make a good profit, but be willing to come down if you truly want to sell it.

- Advertise!  We placed ads in our local newspaper, on Craigslist, and we put signs out around our neighborhood a few days prior.  Some cities have laws about posting signs, so be sure to know what is allowed.  But, I do think local signs drive a lot of traffic!

- Have a clear time listed on your advertising.  (And know that whatever time you say your sale starts, the early birds will be there much sooner!)  In Indiana, we had a garage and could stage our sale the night before.  Unfortunately in our recent sale, we had to have a yard sale and set everything out the morning of.  I was pulling our items out to our front law at 6:30 am and had about 5 customers prior to 7 am...and our sale did not start until 8!  Be prepared for the early birds coming to get a good steal!

- If you do have a garage, prepare it the night before.  And if you have to have a yard sale, have everything ready to roll out the door the night before.  Getting it set up in the morning takes a lot of work!

- Try to host an organized sale.  Group like items together.  We made sure to have an adult clothing section, a section for kids' toys and clothes, electronics, outdoor equipment, furniture and such.  But be flexible as people rummaging aggressively can make a mess of your setup.  Continue to rearrange and organize as the day progresses.

- Consider having a multi-family yard sale - and advertise that!  We had three families collaborate on our sale and it brought a lot more traffic and made the experience much more fun!  Be sure to have a good system for keeping every one's sales straight.  We used different colored stickers to price each families' items and we kept a ledger throughout the sale that we tallied up at the end.

- Be sure to start your sale with plenty of coins and one dollar bills to make change for people.

- Have snacks and cool drinks for yourself.  Having a yard sale is hard work!  And if you have little kids in your family, consider letting them have a lemonade stand at your sale.  I loved doing this as a child.  It was always so much fun and taught so many great lessons - preparedness, a spirit of being an entrepreneur, math and counting skills and such a sense of ownership.  

- Consider lowering your prices in the final few hours.  We cut everything in half in the last two hours and we advertised this on the signs near us.  We made many last minute sales this way!

- Have a plan for what you don't sell.  The point of a sale is to make money and also clear out your home.  We were committed to taking everything that did not sell to Goodwill as soon as the sale was over.  Once we had schlepped our belongings to the front yard, we did not want to have to carry one item back inside!

- And remember to have fun.  Having a yard sale is hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun.  You can get to know your neighbors better, clean out your house and spend a day outdoors.  Be willing to be flexible and go with the flow.

Have fun!
our yard sale halfway through the day...a bit more disorganized, but much was sold!

Friday, June 3, 2011

PRAY: What to read now.

Several times a year I get consumed by reading a book for days. I'm tempted to shirk off my responsibilities and read until my eyes hurt. I'll read while my son is eating breakfast, while I'm cooking, and really at any other spare moment. The Eve Tree captured me over the long weekend. I love that this book was written by a blogger, whose words I've found encouraging and exciting. It was self-published and clearly a labor of love. The love of the family in the novel will stir something within you as the beautiful story unfolds.

The Eve Tree: A Novel

We all want to be known. Molly, the book's protagonist, is no different. Her journey in The Eve Tree reminds me of how desperate we can feel for connection. How lost we can feel when it seems that no one is making the effort to understand us. But, finally, how fervently God can call us back to the life-giving relationships we have.

While no one knows us completely, there is always a friend, spouse, sibling or parent who, at least, sees pieces of who we really are. I believe that God reveals our true identity to the people who need to know it. People who will do their best to love us even when we're being difficult or are feeling lost. People who want to see us succeed. People who will help us find our strength.

I finished this novel feeling thankful for the people with whom I can be vulnerable and encouraged to lean on them when life feels too big. The Lord knows me and I'll be in that blissfully perfect relationship with him someday, but, for now, I want to keep investing in relationships with the family and friends I adore, even if it feels imperfect some of the time.

But now thus says the Lord, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine."
Isaiah 43: 1

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue,  behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
Psalm 139: 1-4

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MAKE: I've got the artist in me

In high school (OK, college.) I went through this phase where I kind of thought I was an artist.

I wasn't delusional enough to think I could paint portraits or free hand a landscape, but I somehow convinced myself that my ability to make cute signs for friends and master a craft from time to time meant that I was ready for a blank canvas.

I attempted to do a few landscapes, like the one below that I made for Duke when he graduated high school.
I'll take this moment to reveal just how great a brother Duke is: he hung on to that puppy even when my parents moved houses and we purged like only Bibers know how to purge.

Once I realized my tree wasn't exactly C├ęzanne (I just Googled a landscape artist, btw...), I tried to go abstract. I painted three oversized canvases - one with multicolor circles, one with stripes, and one all yellow. Although they weren't exactly perfect, they actually turned out really nicely. They added a nice pop of color to my walls and the misshapen circles and not-so-straight lines kind of looked intentional.

When I recently found that Real Simple actually suggested my college DIY as a lost cost decorating idea, I was over the moon. My project may not have been perfect in execution, but my artistic theory was right all along.
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