Wednesday, August 31, 2011

EAT: zucchini fries

Welp, I may not have delivered on all of my New Year’s Resolutions, but I did, in fact, fulfill my New July Resolution. Last night I made zucchini fries! 

They weren't quite as beautiful as the original recipe, but they turned out to be very tasty. 

I'm not going to lie, they didn't actually taste like french fries, but they did taste really great...

 We also attempted to grill a couple, just for fun. The baking turned out better...
 Ta da!..

Monday, August 29, 2011

PLAY: Bucket List

As fall is encroaching and the school year is getting started, I find myself longing for more long and hot days of summer.  I love fall, but I am always sad to see summer come to a close.

So, in an effort to keep the summer festivities alive, we have made a summer bucket list that I hope to complete and enjoy.  And even if the activities linger into fall a bit, it will allow the joy of summer to live on longer!

Bucket List:

1.) Enjoy ice cream cones...often!
2.) Go camping.
3.) Host a cookout.
4.) Swim lots more!
5.) And spend as much time as possible enjoying the warm sun on our faces.

What activities do you hope to enjoy before autumn settles in??

Friday, August 26, 2011

NEST: Filing.

I despise junk mail. I can't stand sorting through old paperwork. But, we have a little bit of a filing situation happening in our basement. And, a little bit in our mail basket. Sometimes I avoid going down to my husband's work area in the basement just because I don't want to look at our filing crates. Yes, it's plural. We have two large crates full of paperwork. We just keep stuffing papers into them. As I said, it's a little bit of a problem.

I decided to nip it in the bud, though. If you have a similar problem, perhaps we can work through it together. Rather than continuing to add to the mayhem, I chose to address the present flow of paperwork first, before delving into our crates. I'm developing a new system. This system is partly based on what I've read so far in Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider. She recommends creating a household management notebook, which I am using to help get this mess under control.
Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

New System (step by step)
1. Remove our names from credit card offer mailing lists. You can quickly and easily opt-out by following this link.
2. Sign up for e-statements whenever possible. Everything from bank statements to credit card bills to coupons can be received via email. And, it is actually more secure (and eco-friendly) to pay bills electronically.
3. All current receipts go into a plastic pocket in my household management binder. At the end of the month, only the most important receipts will be kept (large purchases, electronics, plants).
4. Mail is checked and sorted daily--mail that needs attention goes into the binder, mail that needs to be recycled is, coupons go into a coupon section of the binder, confidential information is shredded.
5. If something needs to be filed, it can go into the mail basket by our front door. At the end of the week, papers are filed.

Dealing with the Old Stuff
Once the current paperwork is kept under control, I can address the folders of old paperwork. Most of the papers in our basement should be discarded. We have manuals for appliances we no longer own, pay-stubs from well before we were married, and travel itineraries from years ago. Denver has an annual shred-a-thon each May. We'll box up our old paperwork until then and drop it off to be shredded, although we do own a shredder. We have so much to be shredded that it would probably burn out the motor! If you have the space for a simple shredder, it is a great way to protect yourself from identity theft and to keep up with your shredding needs. I'll base my decisions about what to keep and what to toss on an article I found in Consumer Reports.

The following documents should be kept for...
A year or less: credit card bills, bank records, current year tax records, insurance policies, receipts
Until they no longer apply: warranties, investment confirmations, loan documents, savings bonds, vehicle records
For seven years: tax returns
Permanent paperwork: estate planning, life insurance policies, pension plan

Happy purging and remember to recycle!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PRAY: the new rules for love

I recently watched the New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating through Buckhead Church and I highly recommend it. It offers an amazing perspective on relationships and I think, no matter where you are currently (even happily married or happily single!), you can benefit from watching. It's a little long, but I assure you that it goes quickly.

Monday, August 22, 2011

MAKE: Mobile

When our daughter was born, I noticed that so many baby mobiles are either kind of garish and over-the-top or many of them were muted and boring.  We ended up with a boring yellow, green and blue mobile that never caught our daughter's attention and it was put in the attic after a few months.

So when we found out we were expecting again, I decided I would try to make a mobile.  I knew infants responded best to vivid colors and black and white so I went in that direction.

I cut dozens of circles out of brightly colored and black and white card stock and strung them on a thin wire.  I tied knots under each circle and put a small bead to hold it in place.  After placing all of the circles on the wires, I tied it all to a metal hoop I purchased at Michaels and tied it to a hook on our ceiling.  Both of our sons love it!

So very easy and inexpensive and it adds some fun whimsy and color to the room!

Friday, August 19, 2011

EAT: Zucchini, Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Oh, yes. Cookies for breakfast! These are my son's hands-down, favorite breakfast. They are easy to make, protein and whole grain-packed, and super tasty. I modified this recipe that I found by replacing some of the banana with zucchini and making a few other substitutions. I have tried so many variations on these cookies--truly, you cannot mess these babies up. I use my stand mixer (I'm obsessed with it) and keep it on stir. Then, I add one ingredient at a time. Bake these bad boys at 350 degrees on an un-greased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. If you make huge cookies, they will take longer to bake...that's probably a no-brainer! These cookies will not spread, so flattening them out a bit before baking is a good idea.

1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 banana
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. oats
small handful chocolate chips

Dried fruit is delicious in this recipe, as well. I generally add raisins to this recipe.
Just this week, I added a healthy dose of pumpkin pie spice. Then, I halved the amount of zucchini, added half a cooked sweet potato and a banana. (This was the best combination yet!)
Often, I chop an apple and throw that in--in place of some of the zucchini. I generally add cinnamon to that mixture. (And, probably leave out the chocolate chips)
The original recipe contains two bananas instead of zucchini.
A little orange juice and zest, along with some dried cranberries would be awesome. Reduce the applesauce if you add the juice. (I could go either way with the chocolate chips on this one!)

Let me know if you try this recipe and if you have any other ideas for changing it up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PLAY: hello summer, hello braids

I'm admittedly a summer addict. I love nothing more than a hot, humid day. And while I (will only sometimes) admit that I kind of dig fall once it starts happening, I dread the end of summer. It's just such a carefree season that brings me utter joy, it's hard for me to say goodbye for three full seasons.

This week at Anthropologie, I was buying my friend latte bowls. The girl working there was trying to convince me that I should get the brown, red and navy combination. She probably thought I was 90 percent insane, because I must have told her two or three times: I'm looking for something brighter. A little more summery. Less fall. No I'm not ready for fall colors. How about yellow? Do you have anything brighter? 

Finally, I got a nice teal, white, royal blue combination, which completely screams beach vacation, and walked away feeling only slightly panicked that this girl had already lost faith in summer. It's only August, and this is Georgia. I'm thinking more Lake Lanier and less brown cardis. 

And beyond boating, flings and ice cream, nothing screams summer more than braids. They're so carefree, youthful and happy. 

I recently found this tutorial on how to perfect the so-low-key-and-cute-that-I-look-like-don't-care-even-though-I-googled-a-tutorial-braid and am hooked. 

I love that the girl doesn't appear to have crazy thick hair, and yet the braid still looks very full. With a sundress, sandals, sunnies and sipsies in hand, I think it'd be the perfect look for a Labor Day darty. Which, btw, does not mark the end of summer. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

NEST: A Splash of Color.

It is amazing how a little color can transform a room.

Whether it is a new coat of paint on a wall, a new fabric on a chair or a pillow on a bed.

While I love our rooms to feel peaceful and serene, there is something so uplifting and powerful about a vibrant color.

And in the summer, one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to do this is with a few fresh flowers.

I have been loving having fresh flowers from our farmer's market and even from our front yard.  I don't have the most extensive garden, but just cutting a few buds from a bush or plant and bringing them indoors brings so much joy to a room.  

Hooray for summer!

Friday, August 12, 2011

PRAY: Vulnerability

Every once in a while you run into someone who is just bursting to share the most intimate details of her train-wreck of a life with you, a total stranger. You know, the woman sitting next to you on the plane, the clerk at the checkout in the grocery store, your hairdresser. And, while these awkward confessions often contain sitcom-worthy comedy, they are few and far between. Most of us hold our failures and struggles close to our chests.

There are times, however, when it truly does us some good to reveal our vulnerabilities and just be honest about where we are emotionally. Of course, we all have a small handful of people that we confide in--siblings, close friends, spouses or boyfriends. But, I think opening up with someone we don't know quite as well can bring about positive change. It may be an acquaintance with whom you've wanted to make a deeper connection or someone you've worked with at church who seems to be on a different page than you. There may even be a co-worker or family member--a fractured or frustrating relationship that always leaves you hoping it could be healed. Revealing your own weakness not only makes you more accessible, but extends trust to a person who may have felt a distance that he or she did not know how to reach across. It gives someone a chance to help you, comfort you or understand you more. In the end, both people can find a sense of renewal and fellowship through this simple confidence.

God calls us to have child-like faith. As children we have very little fear of people seeing us we truly are. We have faith that people in our lives are trustworthy and have our best interests at heart. While the discernment of adulthood protects us from hurt and betrayal, it can also keep us from experiencing true fellowship. Let a little child-like trust for others into your life--you may be amazed by the freedom it brings.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MAKE: stockpiling

At this point, my apartment is pretty well outfitted. I don't have a need for a lot of DIYing yet, so my make skills are often underutilized.

However, being the planner that I am, I'm constantly finding projects I'd like to try in the future. I used to email them to myself and archive them - but even Gmail didn't offer the level of DIY organization I desire.

However, Pinterest has become the perfect solution. The site is a haven for DIY projects, so if you're like me and just want a place to catalogue inspiration for the future, or are actually looking for projects right now, it's the perfect outlet. You simply search for a topic, browse the images, and open up the original sites for instructions to try it out. If you like it, you just repin it to your board (i.e.: DIY).

Below are a few of my fav recent finds. I'm saving them all for future endeavors.

Do you DIY? And do you pin to make it happen?

images and projects via: 1, 2, 3

Monday, August 8, 2011

EAT: Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas

When Crosby was born, we were so blessed with many amazing meals.

One such meal was from my friend, Becca.  And she shared the recipe with me.


Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas

1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T olive oil
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
1/4 cup picante sauce
1 T chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups cooked brown rice
8 flour tortillas, warmed
1 cup salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.) In a large nonstick skillet, saute the green pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender.

2.) Add the beans, tomatoes, picante sauce, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes; bring to a boil.

3.) Reduce heat, simmer uncovered until heated through and the mixture thickens.

4.) Add rice.  Cook five minutes longer or until heated through.

5.) Spoon a rounded 1/2 cup down the center of each tortilla.  Fold sides over filling and roll up.

6.) Place in a 13 x 9 dish coated with cooking spray.  Spoon salsa over each tortilla.

7.) Cover and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

8.) Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and bake 2-3 minutes longer.

This recipe is delicious.  I have made it several times and BOTH of my kids love it!  Success!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

PLAY: Just Tri

Some may argue, but I think a good workout fits just fine in our PLAY category. Now, Courtney and Whitney are runners. Serious runners. They do all kinds of crazy things--like running marathons. (Although, Whitney is currently sidelined.) I consider myself a lover of workouts, but no matter how much I try, running just hurts. That being said, it was a major accomplishment for me to complete the Bolder Boulder 10k after Griffin's birth. It was a sort of reclaiming of my body and identity to train for it and finish it. It may be a little strange, but as I near the end of this pregnancy, I find myself wanting to plan another physical feat...other than labor, that is.

Several of my friends here in Colorado are passionate about competing in triathlons. It has given me the inspiration to consider making that my post-baby goal. Seeing as I haven't swum competitively since high school and I've never biked in any sort of a race, it will definitely be outside of my comfort zone. I don't even know where to begin with my training--luckily I have quite a few people who can help me with that! But, I do know that a physical challenge does something good for the soul. So, while I will be exhausted from sleep deprivation and toddler chasing, I know that I will also find myself invigorated by the quest to "tri" something new.

Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

NEST: More green cleaning options

The fact that I'm just now posting this is indicative of the insanity that is life right now. It's just so busy! I thought summer was supposed to be a little slower paced, but I am clearly wrong.

On Sunday, I gave my apartment a deep cleaning treatment, but I already feel like I want to do it again.

On nights like this, when I don't get home until after 11 p.m., and I still have to make my lunch and manage tasks for the next day, I feel panicked when I can't get the dishwasher emptied or my laundry put away. I woke up this morning and thought - ah, I just want to clean this place! And then I realized that, in fact, it didn't really need to be cleaned, it's just that act of doing it that makes me feel like things are under control.



But don't you agree? When the little things are in order, I just feel like life in general is more in order. I recently found this great article from Martha Stewart on green cleaning solutions. We've posted other green cleaning options before, but I especially like how simple this version is.  The ingredients are basic and don't require a trip to the grocery, which is more than I can say about the Pledge wood cleaner I've been using.

Have you tried out green cleaning options?

Monday, August 1, 2011

PRAY: Homesickness

I have an awesome devotional by Sarah Young called "Jesus Calling."

A recent entry I read was as follows:

"Seek my face, and you will find all that you have longed for.  The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me.  I know, because I designed you to desire Me.  Do not feel guilty about taking time to be still in My Presence.  You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you.  I made you in My image, and I hid heaven in your heart.  Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness: longing for your true home in heaven.

Do not be afraid to be different from other people.  The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you.  The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts.  To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people.  However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world."

This devotion struck me in so many different ways.

First, I was struck by how much trouble I have to be still in the Lord's presence.  I am such a "doer."  I have trouble being still at all.  And I think this is a discipline I need to work on in my walk with the Lord.  Just being consciously still with no media or chatter pouring into my life for five minutes a day and being still before the Lord can be so powerful.  And can center me in my walk so very much.

I was also struck by how much I aim to please others.  My daily goal should not be to please others, but to please the Lord. And in doing so, I will be serving others.

And thirdly, I was struck by how I am often homesick for our eternal home.  I adore my life here on earth, but there is so much heartache and sorrow here.  I truly long for the day when we are in a place with no tears reunited with our Maker.  What a beautiful day that will be!  I love that the Lord "hid heaven in our hearts."

What has challenged you to think more deeply about your faith recently?
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