Sunday, March 31, 2013

What I Wore Sunday/OTI: Easter

Double link up alert! Woot! I feel like I'm breaking a rule... but I'll drown the feeling with another Cadbury egg.

Camp Patton

I thought I'd link up today since I wore something outside of my normal 3 Mass outfits!

First, here is what my church wore:

Our parish isn't nearly as big and fancy as our previous one, but I still love it! I got a tiny bit emotional when I saw the Easter lilies, because last year when we walked the cathedral for our rehearsal, the altar was still covered in Easter lilies from Easter Sunday the week before. They still looked good, so the wedding committee wanted us to have them there for our wedding. So anyway, seeing these today choked me up a tiny bit. We went to the later Mass so we could find our baskets, go through them, and make resurrection rolls. This meant we ended up at the kiddie Mass, which was fine since we got to watch the 3-4 year old choir sing. *SO CUTE*

And here's what I wore!
Oh, what are those, you ask? Those are the from scratch Peeps cupcakes I made for my in laws get together after church today. The frosting turned out to be better suited to cookies, but everyone raved about them (and the kids loved the peeps), so mission accomplished! It was the first time I ever contributed to the meal at the extended family get together, so I was nervous, and very relieved that they were tasty!

Outfit details:
Cardigan is Merona brand from Target. So worn out, but I love it.
Pants are also Merona brand from Target. They grow a size throughout the day, which turned out to be really helpful.
Shirt.... I'm not sure. I've worn it like, maybe once? I love it, so I don't know why I have kept it buried! I usually don't wear this much color but I had a lot of fun in it today, so maybe I should branch out!

Happy Easter!

Now let's get our party on for *50 days*!!!!

Check out Fine Linen & Purple for more awesome outfits!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Zero Waste Blueberry Dyed Eggs

This is one of those posts that really annoy me.... 1) because what help is this the day before Easter morning and 2) it will be long forgotten for Easter next year. However, since we celebrate Easter all the way until Pentecost, you can still try this out this year, even if you don't do it tomorrow morning! 

But my excuse is that I didn't know well enough in advance so here is is Saturday morning and I am breaking my blogging fast to share this with anyone who dyes eggs last minute like I do. I try to keep it as far away from Lent/close to Easter as possible, so I settled on today. I have thought throughout the last year about dyeing eggs naturally. I don't generally like food coloring (which doesn't mean I don't eat it, but I avoid ever using it at home or in anything I make), and even though it just goes on the shell, I still felt like there was a better option. I've seen things floating around about different spices and vegetables you can use to dye eggs but it just looked like so much work. So I kind of avoided thinking about it, until my sister posted something on my facebook page about it (a cool chart with what things make certain colors) and I said to myself, "Self. That's it. You're doing it!". But being the lazy person that I am, and because my husband will eat one or less hard boiled eggs, I decided to start with just one color and six eggs this year.

I thought about what would be easiest (again... lazy) and pretty. I settled on blueberries and bought them frozen. I swear this is easier than it sounds. Here's what I did, and failed to capture the process on camera because I was sure they would be a flop:

Blueberry Dyed Easter Eggs

  • Purchase fresh or frozen blueberries (which is what I used, so I can't guarantee how fresh will turn out), and heat them over medium heat with a small splash of water, 1/4 cup or less.
  • Once the blueberries are warm, use a potato masher to mash the blueberries so the juice comes out.
  • Put your cooled hard boiled eggs in a bowl with a colander on top of the bowl. Don't let the colander touch the eggs so they don't crack in the next mashing step.
  • Pour the blueberries into the colander over the eggs. Use your masher to continue mashing the blueberry pulp until you think the juice is out.
  • Set the pulp and colander aside. Use a spoon to stir the eggs around in the blueberry juice, and to coat them a few times with the juice. 
  • Once they reach your desired shade of beautiful purple-y blue, set them on a wire rack with LOTS of paper towels and newspaper underneath. (I have white counters and blueberry juice can stain!)
See the speckles? Love them!!! They are a bolder purple in real life, but my camera and my camera skills both suck ;).

Bonus step:
Put the pulp and leftover juice in a bowl. Top with whipped cream and reward yourself for making naturally dyed eggs!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stumbling Over the Finish Line

This has been a less than stellar Lent for me. Every year, I hear people say they are failing at Lent, and I haven't understood it. I really enjoy pouring myself into Lent. But this year, I am right alongside those people and share the feeling of 'failing Lent'. What I chose to do this year just wasn't challenging enough for me. I should have switched once I realized it, but then I felt like that was failing. Scrupulosity is a bumpy road. I think part of it might be that I am more in touch with my faith than ever, so I have to work even harder at Lent to get what I should out of it, rather than it just feeling spiritually challenging and rewarding because I'm not doing much the other days of the year. And I realized that a bit too late, as we are now mere days from Easter. But Lent isn't over yet! I want to pour myself into Holy Thursday and Good Friday. I want to do some reflecting on Saturday. And on Sunday, I'm going to do a whole lot of rejoicing, eating, and visiting with my in laws! So I'm taking a mini blogging break, and not posting quick takes this week in observance of Good Friday. I hope you all finish out Lent as best you can, enjoy the beginning of the Easter season, and hopefully I'll see you back here sometime next week!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Church Doesn't Love Women?

Yes, I'm taking the bait. I don't know why I do this to myself. Usually I try to blog about harmless things like frugality and eco friendly cleaning. But every now and again, I try to blog about faith and, even less often than that, I try to tackle a subject that is near and dear to my heart, yet controversial. Don't worry. After this post, I will self medicate with some chocolate and swear never to blog about faith again. And that should last at least a week or so. I do apologize for an underlying level of snark. I don't mean to be snarky, but my writing sometimes comes across that way (especially after I spend month being bombarded with comments about how the Church doesn't respect women).

There is a huge misunderstanding by non-Catholics and by many Catholics as well that, because the Church doesn't allow women's ordination, the church doesn't love or respect women. Some people seem to think the pope has the option to say women can be ordained. We all heard about that with the recent conclave. News sites love  to speculate on what the pope will change. As if the Church has ever changed. As if the Church will ever change. But it might take the world another 2,000 years to get that. As often happens, well meaning non-Catholics (and even misunderstood Catholics) don't know about in persona Christi which, in very plain terms, says that Jesus instituted the priesthood and the priest acts in the person of Christ during the Eucharistic rite. Jesus being a man, and choosing only men to carry on his mission, means that only men can act in persona Christi.

Now, I know a lot of people will come back with, "But Jesus lived in a very patriarchal time! Of course he didn't choose a woman then. But times have changed!". And here is my response. You do realize that Jesus was about as counter cultural as counter cultural gets, right? If he wanted female priesthood, I have no doubt he would have instituted it. He certainly didn't let the time he lived in dictate anything else he did (remember the woman at the well?), so why would we think this is any different? I also have people ask me if it bothers me. It honestly doesn't for the simple fact that I understand the love the Church has for women. I don't feel like less, but I do recognize that I have a different role. It's sort of like feminism versus new feminism. The first says that women can do anything men can do, and men are often portrayed as not needed or useless. The second says that men and women are equally valuable, but have somewhat different roles. Women are so valued in the Church, and I do not take it personally that my role is different. Clearly, only women can have babies. I don't hear people asking if the pope is going to change it so men can have babies, even though that was also instituted by God. The next time someone asks me if I hope the pope changes the Church's stance on women's ordination, I do believe I will say that first I want the Church to change her stance on women giving birth.

So beyond that.... wait, there is a beyond? YES! Lots of people can NOT see beyond the point of women's ordination. So everything else that the church does and believes is totally ignored because we don't have female priests. You know how I talked about different roles? The roles of being a sister and a nun are so needed and highly valued in the Church. Sisters teach so many of our children, are often passionate about affecting change in their communities, and nuns spend their entire lives praying for US, for you and me and everyone else! If those things are not huge levels of responsibility that the Church entrusts to women, I'm not sure what would 'count'. (And yes, I do realize men can do similar things, but the title of 'sister' and 'nun' are obviously reserved for women.) And for women who don't feel called to become a sister or nun, there are so many ministries inside our parishes that we can join. If you belong to a small parish without much opportunity to get involved, create something, talk to your priest, or see what your neighboring parish is offering. My parish is pretty small and there are still between 5-10 women's ministries and groups! Think about becoming an NFP instructor (yes, yes I will address NFP below). Instructors are always needed and the Church is dying for us to know and understand our bodies! I'm not an instructor, but I would imagine that the ministry of teaching NFP is pretty powerful... helping people to create, plan, and space their families and children as well as monitor their health in a totally natural, great for the body and soul way.

But back to women and the Church. Take Mary. Wow. She is seriously the most loved woman in the world. We do not worship her, but we do love, adore, and honor her. Have you counted the number of approved Marian apparitions? I haven't, but I know there are a lot! Mary comes to us in so many different ways and the Church LOVES her. Check out all the shrines and churches dedicated to her! She is such a beautiful example of how powerful a woman in the Church can be. We are not expected to sit back and let men run the show while we twiddle our thumbs. She bore the Savior of the World and in a time when women were not empowered like we are today.We are called to be spiritual mothers in our families, workplaces, and communities. This is a role that only we can do!

Along similar lines, I have heard a lot of criticism against natural family planning. I've heard people say that it is a way for Catholic pews to get filled and money to be put in the basket (implying that it doesn't work and everyone who uses NFP will have large families). I've heard people say that it is a way to keep women barefoot and out of the workforce (again the large family implication that a woman will get pregnant by accident enough times that she won't be able to afford childcare). I've heard it all. And guess what? I shared similar negative feelings about NFP before I bothered to learn exactly what it is, what it is about, and the Church teaching behind it. After we took classes in NFP, we discovered quite a few issues I was having. Here is a crazy tidbit of information: Did you know that many mainstream doctors will let a woman miscarry three times before doing a simple progesterone level check? Thanks to the Church's teaching on NFP, I learned that I have low progesterone before we were even married! And thanks to the Church's teaching, I am not waiting on pregnancy to correct it. I have a doctor who is working on treating it NOW. But even if I wasn't working to correct it now, we would know that going into a pregnancy, would have the blood test done immediately, and would treat with progesterone injections. The Church loves women so much that she wants women to know their bodies, know the biology, know the science, know and treat (rather than mask) any issues. She also wants us to know how to space our children if we need to without putting class one carcinogens into our bodies. She wants our men to respect us, to accept all of us- yes, even our fertility, and to have open lines of communication about what is right for our families. I wasn't getting any of that from the secular world, who supposedly loves women.

I'm not saying that there is nothing good about how the secular world views and treats women. What I am saying is that the Church loves, protects, and values us so highly, but the secular world seems to have completely missed that. I know this is a pipe dream, but I wish that the media would talk to Catholic women who are fully living the faith and following the teachings. I am in multiple groups with those women (some groups as small as 25, some as large as over 1,000) and yes, it can be challenging, but it is so worth it and the satisfaction level is very high. I honestly never understood my worth before reverting back to the Church and really learning what it means to be Catholic. I sold myself short constantly. I know the people in the Church aren't perfect (which is very different from saying the Church isn't perfect... because she is), but I do hope that non-Catholics and Catholics who recognize that they have more to learn and understand would come to the source.... the Catechism, church documents, and women in the Church living it out daily, and hear the challenges and rewards from us. Ask us your tough questions and, if we don't know the answer, we will find it for you! Ask us how NFP affects our marriage; ask us how we feel as women of the church; ask our husbands and families if we seem 'oppressed' by the Church. Again, this comes from someone who was on the other side and made a lot of judgments and excuses, so I know what that's like. I just wish that years sooner I had taken someone aside and asked questions. I wish that I hadn't gotten my information on the church from secular sources who don't at all understand the Church. If you don't already, get to know the Church a little more. I think she'll surprise you :).

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Joys of Everyday Life

There are many posts that I write for my readers. They are all also 'for me', but I cater the topic or my delivery of information for those of you who read my blog. You probably couldn't tell ;), but I do! This is not one of those posts. Every once in a while, I just want to document something for myself. I have a pretty terrible memory. Though I can remember the birthdays, addresses, and other random, needless facts about the 34 people on my caseload at work, I have a really hard time recalling experiences in life. It makes me sad because a friend will bring something up that I *kind of* remember, but never would have remembered it on my own. I think that's part of why I started blogging many years ago (on a different site). I wanted a record of every day life events that I may not recall years from now. I do still enjoy going back to my original blog, picking a random date, and seeing what was going on then.

Newlyweds yapping while the photog attempted to do her thing.

One thing I really want to remember when we are old and gray, or even in a few years when (God willing) we have children keeping us insanely busy, is some of our newlywed memories. The simplest things make me sit back and thank God for the gift of marriage and for the gift of Steven, in particular. Last night we had a date night (which is basically what we call it any time we leave the house!) that was so simple but so special and fun. We started off by going to stations of the cross at our church. Since we were members of a different parish last year, this was our first time doing stations here. It was definitely different, as our parish now is smaller and very humble, without the bells and whistles I loved at our old parish. But sometimes simple can be so refreshing! The church was at least 2/3 full, if not fuller. I LOVE seeing a busy church for non-required events! There were some singles, a few young marrieds like us, families with children, and older couples all together celebrating the way of the cross. Our deacon led it and he was efficient while also reverent... my favorite combo! One thing I love about Steven is that he isn't afraid to be affectionate in church. I'm not really sure where the idea came from that it's 'inappropriate' in church, but he never got that message and I love it. We would be in the middle of one of the stations, and he'd just brush my hand, or put his hand on my back for a second. Little gestures like that still melt my heart. 

In real life my hands are kinda creepy. But I love this picture!

After stations, we originally were going to go back home. But at dinner, I had told Steven that I wanted a coffee drink earlier in the day, but my day got really busy so I just didn't have time (I have a gift card I am burning through it quickly!). He said he had been wanting a shamrock shake*, and asked if I wanted to go on a 'drink date' after stations. So after church, we got in the car and headed to the next town over. I love a night drive! We got his shake, then swung through and got me a frappuccino, and just talked and enjoyed our treats on the drive back home. My heart was so happy! I know these years will pass so quickly and at some point be a distant memory, while we start a different yet equally exciting and fulfilling stage of married life, and I will really enjoy coming back and seeing how things were 'back in the day'. 

*Hey, don't judge ;)! We didn't give up sweets for Lent! (Although, our goal is to be one of those families who doesn't give up sweets for Lent, but just has that as a standard Lenten practice along with whatever we give up.... yeah, didn't happen this year.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Most Boring Quick Takes Ever

--- 1 ---
I am happy to announce that, while none of our veggie plants have produced actual veggies yet, we have a 3rd plant growing! One of the plants didn't grow anything from seeds, but I stuck the seed cup in the big planter anyway. Well, now something is poking through! So I have 3 veggie plants growing, and I'm not entirely sure what any of them are. I am just hoping at least one produces actual produce. I don't want Steven's arm strength from carrying them in and out on freezing nights to be in vain!

--- 2 ---
My weight loss had slowed, but I've been testing the limits. It seems like we've had a lot of food related stuff happening, lately! I have either remained the same or lost a piddly few ounces each week, but I know that is better than gaining. I also quit exercising, which doesn't help. Now that the weather is warming up, we are excited to resume our outdoor walks!

--- 3 ---
I've learned that if I'm the person who checks mail at work, I can snag all the awesome coupons that get mailed to us. This week we got a Which Wich coupon 2 days in a row, but I only checked it the first day, so I ended up with just one. I have images of my coworkers and I rushing for the mail key at the same time and having to duke it out. Except probably no one cares besides me.

--- 4 ---
I don't think I ever told the story about how my husband thought we weren't married. I can tell it now that the charm of reading my blog has worn off for him ;). When we flew back into the US from our honeymoon, we were standing in the immigration line. There was a sign that said to come up as a family. So I motioned for him to come with me and he said something like, "But we aren't technically married.". After glaring at him and then quickly smiling at the immigration guy, we got through the line and I hate to admit that I snapped at him "what do you mean we aren't married!?" with visions of the hours upon hours of planning and the wedding and honeymoon dancing in my head. He said that he thought it wasn't official until we got the marriage license in the mail. SOMEONE was not listening in marriage prep!!!! I still laugh (and tease, oh do I tease) over that.

--- 5 ---
This got delivered to us yesterday:

It is just chilling on the front porch til installation. It better be worth the astronomical price. I'm sure no longer experiencing torrential downpours in our bedroom will be worth it but gah, house crap is expensive! Steven keeps pointing out that we could spend double what we've spent on house repairs and still have gotten a crazy good deal on our house (it was a short sale) so I keep telling myself that. Oddly, it doesn't calm me as much as a bowl of ice cream can.
--- 6 ---
Speaking of, those are my Saturday plans. Watching people install a window for hours. YAY. For some reason, I'm super self conscious when work people are at my house. Which means I have a list of things I need to get done, but I'll sit on the couch feeling awkward all day. I think I need a social skills class!

--- 7 ---
Stay tuned to the blog Monday. I have a post coming up about women's roles in the Catholic church! Woot woot!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Our Honeymoon Part II

I realized that I never finished writing about our honeymoon and, as it is almost a year ago, I wanted to get it written down before the memories escape me!! Last time, I wrote about Sunday- Tuesday and I ended with us going to the resort's Japanese restaurant after going to the ostrich farm.

Forcing pictures first thing Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, we went back to the downtown area of Curacao (Willemstaad). We had plans to see the Cathedral, but there was a funeral going on, which we found out after a hot, sweaty trek to the church! So we didn't get to see the inside. We walked back towards Willemstaad and by the time we got there, I was miserable. I had on linen pants and they were completely sticking to me because I was so sweaty. They were a bit tight to begin with (thanks to Old Navy's lack of quality control) and just so uncomfortable. So Steven found us a little shop where I bought a Curacao tshirt and capri workout type pants. Oddly enough, they turned out to be men's pants. Apparently in Curacao, men wear capris! I went into the bathroom near the water to change, and Steven walked a ways down to watch the pontoon bridge open up for a ship to come through. When I came out of the bathroom, the bathroom attendant lady began scolding me, but I couldn't understand her. I finally gathered that she wanted me to give her a dollar for using the bathroom. I had no money on me and Steven couldn't hear me calling for him. It was a panicky few minutes. He finally came back over and paid the lady so she quit holding me hostage at the bathroom. 

Isn't it crazy that a tractor trailer can only pull 1-2 of those? This giant ship is so much more efficient!

We walked around for a while and saw $20 segway rentals. Unlike America, we didn't give a credit card, sign a waiver, or anything! We didn't even have to give our names. We just gave the lady $40 cash with a promise to bring them back in an hour. It was a wonderful way to see the other side of downtown, Punda. We covered SO much ground that we wouldn't have been able to cover on foot. We saw a basilica, more of the normal, non-touristy parts of town, and scoped out places to eat. After about 30 minutes on the segway, I managed to crash into a curb while avoiding a pedestrian. It was SO embarrassing! I literally flew off the segway and it kept going right over top of me! Steven grabbed it and couldn't help me because he was holding onto both segways. I got up, brushed myself off, and got us out of there as quick as possible out of embarrassment. I tore my hand and knee up pretty bad. We found somewhere to stop and get a drink and rest for a minute. We washed my hand off as good as we could, but didn't have any bandages. I'm quite the whiner normally, but I had to just suck it up so we could enjoy the rest of our time with the segways. It was only after this trip that I learned the segway inventor DIED on his segway lol.

 Steven in front of the pontoon bridge.

 The elusive cathedral.

 Beginning our segway adventure, and a costume change.

Major costume change on my part.

When we got back to the resort that afternoon, we went snorkeling. It was way more fun than I expected! The water is clear and there were lots of really neat fish. There was a reef that they told us had even cooler stuff on the other side, but a strong current. We weren't brave enough to try it, and stayed on the calm side. Later that night, I ended up having to go to the super scary resort nurse. The kid in the room before me had vomited on the floor, and she hadn't cleaned it up. I dodged it and sat down. She pulled my hand over a trash can, doused it with rubbing alcohol (OUCH) and rubbed at the wound with gauze. No gloves were involved. She had no bedside manner, but she was free so I can't complain too much. She bandaged it and Steven nursed my wounded pride with a buffet dinner.

 All geared up for some snorkeling! 

 The resort just kept getting more awesome.

It doesn't look like much here, but this is after she violently scraped away the blood, dangly skin, dirt, and pebbles.

Thursday was our day to do nothing. We wanted at least one day with no plans and where we didn't leave the resort. We did a lot of fun stuff that day including more snorkeling, riding the big water bike, and riding the hobie cat. We still stayed on the calm, more shallow side of the coral reef but we were able to go almost the whole distance this time. My favorite fish was one that was yellow and black. It was so bright! 


We would park under one of those small umbrellas nearby this bar, and hit it up for multiple snacks throughout the day. By 'snack', I mean soda, fries, and chicken nuggets for me. Same for hubs but cheeseburger instead of nuggets. It was divine. I put on 10 lbs in one week. Glorious gluttony!

Friday morning we were supposed to have a jeep tour of the island and national park, but it was cancelled because not enough people signed up. One part of me was really bummed because we would have seen really cool areas of the island, but the other part of me was glad that we could just relax on our last full day. We went snorkeling again, ate tons of free snacks, and just lounged around, enjoying each other's company. It was wonderful! During snorkeling, we got brave and went to the back side of the reef. It was deep and there was definitely a strong current, but we saw some of the coolest things, like brain coral, that didn't exist on the shallower side. That night we went back to the Italian restaurant for a delicious farewell dinner.

The last supper!

 Airport funny #1

Airport funny #2

Saturday morning we went for one last swim before we showered and headed to the airport. We were very happy to get home and begin married life together, but also sad to leave such a wonderful week!!!

Leaving our honeymoon... sad face!

Even though I knew we'd have a blast on our honeymoon, the week was so much better than I had even imagined. We ate up having all that time together and being totally away from everyone we knew and normal life. We had a great balance of relaxation and adventure, with a good dose of romance mixed in. I had almost constant realizations throughout the week that I was MARRIED and Steven was my HUSBAND! I spend the majority of the week very giddy. Our honeymoon was a wonderful investment and a great way to start married life! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes- New Pope Edition

--- 1 ---

First things first: Who's glad he didn't choose the name Peter!?!? Hahaha, I'm just kidding. I crack myself up sometimes. 

--- 2 ---

Unlike Pope Benedict who I had to fall in love with slowly over time, Pope Francis (too early to call him Papa F? Sounds like a rapper!) stole my heart within minutes. His one liner and amazingly beautiful prayer did me in! I think the Church is in very good hands. 

--- 3 ---

I asked my dad to take me back to Rome again, but I don't think he's having it. I hope this pope is there at least a decade, because that's how long it will take us to pinch pennies! Or who knows, maybe he will come somwhere close by! JPII went to my home state a few years before I was born, so a girl can dream. 

--- 4 ---

You know what's lame? Being a guardian for almost 4 years and then being required to go to a 2 day training on how to be a guardian. If they hadn't dumped Reese's Cups and Snickers on the table yesterday, I might have gone crazy. I am there again today and will offer up my suffering for you ;).

--- 5 ---

Let's go back to Poperydom. Did you get your plenary indulgence? If not, I'm pretty sure you can watch the papal blessing from Wednesday and still get it. You have to make a confession and receive the Eucharist within 7 days, and you can offer the indulgence up for a deceased family member/loved one or use it yourself. I am admittedly pretty new to indulgences (always knew the word, but didn't know much about them) so I was VERY excited that we already were scheduled to go to confession on Wednesday! Which by the way, I almost cried when the priests (8 of them) had us sing Long Live the Pope, and had Habemus Papam signs on the doors. It was a total goosebump session!

--- 6 ---

Weekend plans: My husband is mowing today for the first time this season while I'm at my training. I'm thinking while he is at work tomorrow, I might get my hands dirty in the yard. We are going to re-mulch and plant flowers after Easter, but I want to at least do a little weeding. It's funny. I hated weeding when I was little, but there is a definite charm in weeding a garden of my very own! What are your yard work plans this spring? I'm trying to get some ideas. 

--- 7 ---


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Five Favorites

I thought I would link up with Moxie Wife about 5 of my favorite things! Notice I said "5 of" and not "my 5 favorite" because asking me to choose just 5 things is like telling a kid at Christmas to just open one present. 

This gender neutral nursery is one of the very first things I pinned. Yes, my wedding did not entice me to join pinterest, but planning for our future hypothetical baby did! It has also been my most popular re-pin. I don't love orange. At all. But hubs does, and I won a quilt at an auction a few years ago that is perfect nursery size and is green, yellow, and orange. So this nursery just calls to me!

This is seriously my favorite cleaner. Water, vinegar, and essential oil (I use sweet orange), shaken once before every use. The scent of vinegar only lingers a few seconds, and I've actually come to associate the brief scent with the scent of clean! It works well, is SO darn cheap, and doesn't have all the crazy stuff in it like mainstream household cleaners. 

With our one year anniversary coming up (oh my, so much to blog, so little time!), I am feeling extra sentimental about our wedding pictures. My living room and bedroom are heavily decorated with wedding photos, and I love seeing them all the time! I have lots of favorites, but this is one of them. 

I thought I'd add a favorite of Steven's in here. He likes almost everything I've made from pinterest, but I think this recipe was his hands down favorite. We homemade the meatballs, but not the bread. Since it was 11 points, it will be a rare treat (because I can't just eat half of one). Drool-tastic! 

I'm not schooled on copyrighting, so there is no picture to go along with this one. You'll just have to trust me and click over for yourself. This website is my all time favorite site for recipes. It is my go-to source and easily 75% of our recipes come from here. DELISH and so good for you! On Monday I made the refried beans and whole wheat tortillas. They are sooo much more filling than the store version!

Thanks for joining me for my 5 favorites, and be sure to head over to check out the other posts in the link up! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Conclave 2013

I know the blogosphere will probably be overwhelmed with conclave posts, but I get to write without your eye rolling since I didn't post about B16 abdicating, right? 

When JPII died, I cried. I distinctly remember where I was (in Charleston, visiting my brother with my parents, out to lunch). My brother broke the news, and my reaction totally shocked me... and embarassed me a little, too! I didn't know I was so attached to him until that very moment. I had been in his audience for World Youth Day in Toronto and just love, love, loved him, like the rest of the world. He was so sweet with the youth, and so fatherly. I loved the sweet sentiment of us chanting "JPII we love you!" over and over, and when we finally stopped, his saying back "JPII, he loves you!". 

But I honestly can't remember anything about B16 coming in. I must not have watched anything on tv, read anything online, etc. I mean, I knew a pope was chosen and I knew his name, but I don't have any specific memories. It took me a while to like B16, which was all about me, and nothing about him (you know... the famous "it's not you, it's me" line). I just didn't make any effort to get to know who he was for a while. I can't pinpoint exactly when I started really liking him, but I am guessing my 2007 trip to Rome, standing in the papal audience definitely helped! (And to clarify, I didn't not like him; I just kind of didn't care much.)

Anyways, back to today. I have been very excited about the conclave and knew it was starting, but didn't really know what would be televised. Thankfully, two of my non-Catholic friends texted me about watching it (haha!) so I found EWTN's streaming feed online. My new office mate graciously agreed that I could have it on in the background... I think it freaked her out a little. I only saw bits and pieces since I was doing other things, but it was really cool to watch them filing into the Sistine Chapel. I have to admit that we went into the Chapel at the end of the Vatican museum tour and I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we saw, and therefore underwhelmed by the Chapel. BUT seeing the conclave begin there today definitely stirred up some strong emotions! As much as I missed B16 and don't like change, I am excited to witness this moment in our Church's history! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recipe: Coconut Red Lentil Soup

I'm going to be honest with you. There are no pictures to accompany this recipe post for a few reasons:

  • I didn't have the ingredients for any coconut lentil soup I found online, so I read about 5 and just kind of made up my own. I was convinced it would be terrible and I'd never make it again.
  • It is ugly food. There is nothing pretty about lumpy, reddish orange soup.
  • Once we realized we loved it, we ate it too fast for me to stop and take a picture.
My recipe is mostly based off of this one more than any other one I found, so you can choose if you want to try my version or hers! It was a little too frou-frou for me, and I didn't want to send hubs back out for a lime when he had just brought me home an onion. 

Nomtastic Coconut Red Lentil Soup

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil 
1-2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste, this is mildly spicy)
1 cup red lentils
2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon cumin
1 14oz can of coconut milk (I used light and it tasted delicious.)
2 and 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

  1. Put the chopped onion in the pan with the coconut oil on medium heat and let the onion become slightly browned and tender.
  2. While the onion cooks, use the side of a knife to mash and chop the garlic.
  3. Put the ginger and chili powder on top of the garlic on the cutting board. Use the side of the knife (or your preferred kitchen utensil) to mix it all together. 
  4. Place the garlic and spice mixture in the pan and turn to medium low heat.
  5. Add rinsed lentils and the rest of the spices (nutmeg, paprika, cumin) to the pan . Stir.
  6. Put the coconut milk and water in the pan and stir again. 
  7. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium low and stir frequently. Depending on your pan, you may need to lower it further if the lentils begin to stick.
  8. Stir every 4-5 minutes for 30 minutes or until the lentils are mushy. 
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

You can add the step of using an immersion blender to get it really smooth and soupy, but we liked it the way it was out of the pan. The good part about this recipe is that it tastes amazing, is super healthy, and reheats well. The bad part is that you have to babysit it while it's on the stove. I think I will make a double batch next time since it reheats well. The first night we had it with red potatoes and it was way too heavy of a meal. Tonight we had it with green apples and grilled cheese which was filling and delicious! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

Our double date/overnight trip to Columbia with my parents last weekend was a BLAST. I cannot, however, recommend Comfort Suites after that trip. The first room we went into had a couch and one bed (we reserved a couch and two beds). Uh, yeah, wasn't going to work for 4 people. The second room we got put in smelled horribly of smoke (in a completely non-smoking hotel) and the sheets on BOTH beds were messed up... *gross*. The 3rd room was supposed to have one bed and a pull out couch, which we could make work. We got up there and there was a couch, but it was not a pull out. Finally the 4th room had 2 beds AND the couch area my parents had paid for. It was one of those things that is maddening and hilarious all at the same time. And a few hours later, we realized we had left the bag of snacks in one of the other rooms lol!

--- 2 ---
On Saturday, we met at the SC State Museum. We had a brief guided tour, and then spent about 2 hours exploring on our own. I forced pictures in front of random things because we were getting to the end and I had forgotten to take any pictures! 

 John Deere: Welcome to the South

--- 3 ---
Saturday night we played board games in the hotel. Steven and I bought Headbandz last month and it is a lot of fun! You have to ask yes or no questions to guess the card on your forehead, sort of like 20 questions. We love games that you can play with just two players, since it is mostly just us, and this one is fun with just 2 but a blast with more!

 So scandalous, she is!

--- 4 ---
Sunday we went to Mass, lunch, and then the zoo before heading our separate ways. I was a silly 18 year old because I attended this church a few times since it was minutes from campus, did not appreciate it, and found a different parish. But now going back almost 10 years later (gulp), I was so in awe! It was beautiful and reverent.

Steven with the napping grizzly that blends into the rock.

 Feeding time at the zoo!

--- 5 ---

I made an amazing coconut red lentil soup this week (if I do say so myself). I was getting ready to post the recipe and then wondered if recipe posts make you want to jab your eye out? I tend to enjoy recipe posts on foodie blogs, but not as much on other type blogs. So how do you feel about the occasional recipe post? You won't hurt my feelings.
--- 6 ---

If you're frugal minded, I could use some help. Check out my post from earlier this week!

--- 7 ---

This weekend we have our annual gala for work. I am working at it (monitoring silent auction items for the win!) so I asked Steven to close at work so we could be together during the day. We're going up to the performing arts center at the front of our neighborhood to see Charlotte's Web that morning, followed by lunch out. I'm also on call and realllllly hope it stays quiet since my day will be so busy. I was supposed to be on call the last week of March, but that would have meant being on call all day Good Friday since it is a day off. So when a coworker asked me to switch, I didn't hesitate! Anyway, those are the weekend plans! 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

All Things Frugal

As we crunch numbers for the future, we get more and more inspired to increase our frugality. We are doing pretty well with our budget- until we realized we miscalculated by $200, that is! We were saving all of my income, which was our goal when we got married last April. It took us many months, creativity, and a raise on Steven's part to figure it out. Then we realized our budget said we were making $200 more than we are, so we are back to not quite saving my entire income, and back to it being a work in progress. But as we sat down and were discussing it the other night, that still doesn't leave much room for things that don't fit into a pretty little excel block... like unforeseen doctor copays or things needed for projects around the house. We'll have savings but ideally wouldn't use it for things like that. So, I decided to read two books that I've been wanting to read for a while: The Tightwad Gazette and You Can Afford to Stay Home With Your Kids. I was going to buy them, before realizing the irony in that. So, hubs and I made a trip out to the library (about 4 minutes from the house!) on Sunday after church to get a library card. I got one when I first moved to NC 3.5 years ago, but had since lost it and it was in my maiden name at an incorrect address anyway. And might have had late fines on it. *ahem* Anyway, I could only find The Tightwad Gazette II, which is a little outdated, but still fascinating. The only issue I'm having is that I can't highlight anything since it's a library book. I think I'll have to buy a used copy of the newer version! I'm enjoying it so far. There are quite a few things that don't apply or that we wouldn't use, but I enjoy learning little things here or there that are helpful. I think the most important way to save money is by doing the little things, because they add up SO much over time. Plus, anyone who is budgeting and being frugal has most likely already done the big, obvious things. But after I finish those two books, I'll need some more recommendations. I find this stuff fascinating... learning how people's minds tick, seeing their creative process in saving, and challenging us to apply it to our own lives. So while one or two books may be plenty, I am crazy enough to enjoy it and want more! I love reading through and picking out what could work for us. I am up for a challenge!

What are your go to sources for frugality? It can be anything: websites, books, articles, ideas.

Friday, March 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
You know what makes moving day at work really long? When the movers decide to bring up all the boxes and miscellaneous stuff before bringing up the big furniture. Luckily, I was allowed to leave at 3pm, so I still have some hair left on my head. At one point, I was in the new office by myself with 7 movers for 2 hours, none of whom could read the incredibly detailed, yet easy to read blue print my boss had made about where everything went. I was a human door stop as well as telling EVERY one of the 7 movers where EVERY one of the million boxes went. And trying to answer questions from the two IT guys. Don't worry; I drowned my stress with pizza that a board member brought, chocolate that a coworker brought, and brownies that a neighboring office brought to welcome us. Today we are unpacking, so I am thinking the day should be fairly calm. But probably our server, phones, and internet will still be down, our desks won't have fit properly, and I'll be having the shakes since I can see the Dollar Tree from my office window.

--- 2 ---
This number may be slightly inaccurate after consuming the above listed snacks, but so far I have lost 14 lbs with Weight Watchers since starting it on 1/3. Slow but steady wins the race! I am very happy with the progress I've seen, even though I have so far to go. I am still 60 lbs bigger than my lowest weight. Gulp! I am just aiming for 5% goals though, or else I will get stressed and eat ALL THE CADBURY EGGS.

--- 3 ---
I'm writing these all on Thursday night, instead of my usual throughout-the-week writing. It's a lot harder for me to come up with them all at once, but this week was just so busy that I didn't think about it. Anyway, here's a gem from the husband just now:
Me: I'm going to miss you while you're gone tonight. I'm bored and don't have anything to do.
Husband: You could clean.
Me: *crickets*
--- 4 ---
We were sitting out on the front porch last Sunday and I happened to see this:
My hyacinths are blooming! Thanks to my mom and Jen for IDing them, since I had forgotten what they were. I bought them on clearance at Lowe's for like $2 and planted them almost 2 weeks past the last recommended date, and every last one of them came up! They are pink, purple, and white. I planted them in between the bushes up against the porch, but I will definitely plant some in the little gardens underneath our front yard trees next year.
--- 5 ---
Birds have taken up residence in my chimney. They lived there last summer and fall, too. I don't want them there, but I also don't like the idea of smoking them out. I think we'll have to deal with another year of squawking. Last year, it was a crow. Couldn't it at least be a cute bird?

--- 6 ---
I don't get why my coworkers think I'm possessive. They are just jelly of my wireless mouse and keyboard that I refuse to give up.

--- 7 ---
We are in for a super fun weekend! We are going on a double date, overnight trip with my parents to my old digs- Columbia, SC. I lived there for 6 years of college and grad school before moving to Raleigh. It's 3.5 hours from me now, and 1.5 hours from my parents. We are meeting at lunch time tomorrow with plans to go to a tour at the state museum, play board games in our hotel suite, eat out at some places I miss lots, and go to the zoo! Do you have fun weekend plans? 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!