Thursday, April 17, 2014

20 Things {Blog Series}

I found myself with a little extra free time today, and I came across this neat little list about blog topics, conversation starters, ice-breaker questions, etc. I thought, how fun! More random stuff to entertain my readers. Sweet. I'll try to fit in these short, informational posts once a month or so. You're welcome ;)

So kicking off this new "Blog Series" are my 20 random facts. For more randomness, check out this post.

  1. I'm an Irish twin. My younger brother and I are the same age for one day.
  2. Gardenias and calla lilies are my favorites.
  3. I never had a manicure or color on my hair. All natural over here. However, I think I would thoroughly enjoy a pedicure.
  4. I can spend hours in Target, literally. I just need a warm Starbucks beverage in hand, a buddy, and a reason, and before you know it, hours have passed and I have a full basket of items I didn't know I needed. It's my favorite store. (Actually, my absolute favorite is Banana Republic, but I can't really afford to shop there as often. My bank account and Mr. B are my constant reminders.)
  5. I am in full belief a bucket of fair fries with vinegar is a perfectly healthy dinner during fair season.
  6. I eat a Granny Smith apple with raw almond butter
  7. I collect coffee mugs, Vera Bradley, and cookbooks. (And magnets from vacation trips.) Oh, and family Christmas ornaments!
  8. My favorite number is 8. I learned recently it's considered a power number. If I can't have 8, then I'll select something with an 8 in it or a dividend of 8. I am all about an even 8.
  9. I have a tattoo on my hip of a pink and blue butterfly. I have it for two reasons, 1) a butterfly is a symbol of rebirth. A re-dedication of my life. Christ is often compared to a butterfly. 2) it's in remembrance of my paternal grandparents. I lost both of them to cancer.
  10. I drink my coffee black, mostly it's straight espresso. Unless I'm treating myself, then it's a Caramel Macchiato. Extra espresso. Multiple shots, please.
  11. Besides dogs, my favorite animals are penguins, squirrels (black!), and tigers. Those tigers are absolutely beautiful.
  12. Never do I go anywhere without a book.
  13. Or slippers. I always have slippers with me. Because, you know, it's cold sometimes.
  14. I prefer, actually, to do the dishes by hand myself. I've been doing dishes since I could stand on a chair and help, so I can get those suckers done faster than Mr. B can clear the table. But I LOATHE drying.
  15. I'm terrified of scary movies! In my tween years I quite enjoyed scary movies. As I grew up, I'd watch them every once in a while. I was home from college one summer and had my eyes "covered" as I watched a few parts of The Grudge. I remember Daddy telling me to just turn it off if I was scared. I didn't. I was determined to see it through. BUT, a year or so later I decided to watch The Strangers on Halloween night, alone in our apartment (Mr. B was working midnights at the time), with all of the lights on. I have never been more petrified in my entire life. I had to fast forward through parts so I'd know what was coming. I remember watching it through tears and fingers. Afterwards, I declared "never again!" and stayed up until Mr. B came home around 6 a.m. I haven't watched a scary movie since.
  16. I think fennel is the devil. It's probably worse than my dislike for pineapple. However, I will probably never eat pineapple again so I can't give you an adequate answer.
  17. I dream very vividly multiple times a night, and usually remember them. Mr. B however never does. It's a very rare occasion when he has a dream to tell me about. I, on the other hand, have about five to recall to him upon waking.
  18. I have troubles spelling weird. I can never remember if it's ei or ie. Instead I'm always finding a way to say that's odd....ha! Also, in 4th grade I came in third place in my school's spelling bee because of that forgotten "c" in AntarCtica. Never again! <--- she says with a shaking fist.
  19. I listen to Christmas music all year round. Love my Pandora stations shuffle option.
  20. I jump at every chance to make a list :)
With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week-Night Turkey Skillet

Let's be honest. I love food and I love cooking. I love cooking and baking for others to enjoy. However, by the time Wednesday rolls around and I come home from working all day, the last thing I want to do is cook. And eating out is not an option. Mr. B and I hardly ever eat out, and when we do it's usually planned, when we're off, and certainly not fast food. So mid-week dinners out are not for us, which means I'm digging through my brain during my drive home trying to think up something quick for dinner. I have a few trusty favorites, like breakfast, tacos/nachos, sandwiches (BLTs and grilled cheeses), snack plate and salads, or leftovers.

But lately, we've been enjoying my throw-whatever-I-can-find-or-needs-to-be-used-because-it's-dying-in-the-fridge turkey skillet. Y'all these one skillet dinners were a staple in my house growing up. Grandma Barb loves throwing everything in one pan to quickly feed a bunch of hangry people. Which is who I'm sure Mama got it from. And now I'm throwing everything in one pan to quickly feed my hangry husband. This turkey skillet is perfect because I toss in whatever vegetables I have on hand, which usually consists of a plethora of bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Also, it helps me to rid my pantry of the few bags of pasta that have barely enough pasta to make anything. And who doesn't have canned diced tomatoes on hand? (Aunt Joann, don't answer that!) Okay, most of us have canned diced tomatoes on hand. Most of us like tomatoes.

Mmmm....toss it all in a pan (and, if you're feeling up to more chopping, along with a salad) and very soon you'll have a very satisfied belly and husband.

Turkey Skillet
Serves 4-6

1 lb ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 c chopped mushrooms
1 c small pasta
1.5 cans diced tomatoes, slightly drained
1/2 T garlic powder

In large skillet, brown turkey along with chopped veggies. Stir in garlic powder. (Feel free to throw in whatever veggies you have on hand that need used.*) Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water. Add diced tomatoes to meat mixture. Stir, and once simmering slightly, add cooked pasta. Simmer another few minutes until liquid is absorbed. Serve immediately. Sprinkling with cheese is optional...although it doesn't need it really. This quick week-night dinner is quite tasty.

*If adding more veggies then called for, add more diced tomatoes.

Nutritional Information
Per serving for 6: 223 calories, 7 fat, 22 protein, 2 fiber, 5 sugar

This meal is even faster if you have any leftover plain cooked pasta stowed away in the fridge from earlier in the week. Or if you have a container of veggies already chopped hiding somewhere in your fridge. Enjoy!

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eight Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

During my whole can I have dairy, can I not have dairy, should I just forget it and eat dairy anyway because I want to, by golly(!) fiasco, I discovered one small glass of this satisfied my ice cream craving perfectly. And that's all I want. One glass. Every night. This, too, could turn into an issue....

2. My new Lipstick necklace.

From Premiere Jewelry. I am completely giddy about this chunky, very pink necklace. I have so many summer dresses I see matching perfectly with this piece, I can't wait for the sunshine! A beautiful pop of color.


Thanks to Jen over at Peanut Butter Runner, I have found my latest web site addiction. And I am addicted. Above is a screen shot of my home page, which---once you answer a few questions---caters to your personal interests. It provides healthy challenges of all sorts. "A daily opportunity to kick butt." You know I love mini challenges. The challenges I have going right now include Stop Skipping Breakfast, A**hole-Proof Your Week, Eat One Vegan Meal Every Day, and Declutter Your Workspace. Plus, the short articles, quick tips, and healthy living facts feed my addiction.  Also, it can sync to your other accounts (like My Fitness Pal or a Fit Bit) which is excellent for keeping track of all your different entries in one place. I am telling y'all, check this out. (Yes, it's FREE.)

4. Grilled Cheeses!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven't had a grilled cheese since November. Honestly. Don't worry I have rescued myself from this no dairy devastation. But I must keep my dairy intake in moderation. So, grilled cheeses every day for a week! I must make up for these past months of deprivation.

5. Unglued Bible Study.

My particular Good Morning Girls' group leader of our Facebook chapter, suggested a book study to the members, and asked if anyone was interested. Am I interested?! Let me tell you what I do for a living. Let me tell you about my other book group. Let me tell you all about the books on my mile-long to-read list. Yes, please, sign me up. (Let me not tell you I was the first person to scream, Interested!) We're half way through the book and I'm finding it very encouraging, inspiring, and most importantly, relatable. Lysa TerKeurst has a humorous and effective way of getting her point across while illustrating very familiar unglued situations. Yes, like the nerd I am, I went out and picked up the book's devotional as well. I highly recommend picking up both books. What an important and encouraging study.

6. Dishing out my own fresh nut butter at the new Market District.

I make it right there. It's still so, so warm. And then I get a free sample to enjoy as I walk around the store purely astonished at the price of healthy, "good for you" food. If this food was much cheaper, I'm sure the obesity epidemic would plummet. I'd love to buy these organic apples, but when three of them cost as much as a whole bushel of the non-organic ones...I'm just saying. Thank goodness my almond nut butter is reasonably priced. And thank goodness for local produce which keeps my grocery budget on the cheap[er] side.

Oh, and I enjoy their Oil and Vinegar Bar, too!

7. My new Vera Bradley haul. Patterns galore.

This year's trip was fan-freaking-tastic. I wish I grabbed more headbands, flip-flops, and slippers. Love these items...soooo comfy!

8. Warmer weather.

Hello, Spring! And by that I mean spring cleaning. Mr. B wiped down all the windows, while I tackled the closets, switched out the clothes, and cleaned off the outside furniture.

We are grilling out tonight, yes sir!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Must-Have VB Road Trip Snacks

It's here! It's here! THE VERA BRADLEY OUTLET SALE 2014 IS HERE!

We're pulling out early this morning, heading to Fort Wayne, IN to do a [tiny] bit of damage to our bank accounts. Don't tell our husbands. Every year they trust us to be responsible women in search of a few things we don't need. Every year they realize we have [very little] control when around said things of the Vera Bradley nature. When discussing mine and Jessica's smaller, umm let's go with budgets here, with my husband, I realized Mr. B likes the idea of this set, albeit smaller, limitation. I figure when I slightly go over that amount, he won't be entirely shocked. That seems like an easy WIN for both of us, right? Yep, that's what I thought. Genius.

This morning I woke up extra early to squeeze in a short yoga practice and enjoy one of my VIA Protein Power Shakes. (A definite must on the days I need to be on the go-go-go.) And, of course, to make sure I didn't miss anything I might need and forgotten to pack in my mad rush to cram as many things as I could into my VB bag[s]. You never know what you might need for a less than 48-hour trip away from home.

What I didn't forget to pack were plenty of road trip snacks. Here are my must-haves to keep our bellies satisfied.

My latest chip obsession.

I'm a huge fan of granola bars (particularly those of the homemade kind). They are always a great snack option for the road. Normally, I make some beforehand, but I ran out of time, so I grabbed a few store-bought favorites, including these berry crisps that I forgot I really, really, really enjoy. Usually, I prefer Larabars, but my store was all out.

A favorite chocolate candy. I don't normally indulge in candy, but when I do, for some reason I like the most expensive one on the shelf. Yes, I know, Jessica, champagne taste on a water budget. Champagne taste on a water budget. (<--- insert heavy sigh).

I packed my beloved nut butter and apples, along with some crudites and sliced strawberries. Plus, a plethora of beverages because I enjoy options.

Of course, we can't be without the cookies!

Alas, last year Jessica and her mother-in-law were not the devoted fans of the Black Bean Chocolate Chili [Cranberry] Cookies that I was/am, so I made them their own cookies guess I'm enjoying these all by myself. (I know, I'm awful. Jessica, I know you're reading this and I had every intention of making you separate cookies to [hopefully] thoroughly enjoy, but I was too busy catching up on the last season of Blue Bloods because the DVD was due back to the library yesterday and those movie fines can add up in a hurry. Plus, I'm a good librarian/patron. Gold star. But I digress.) Anyhoo, I'm bringing these along to make up for it. Cheers!

And I don't think I need to mention where our car will be headed first....

I think we're ready for a tasty road trip. Onward, ladies!

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Sweets

This morning I enjoyed a big bowl of oats for breakfast. There were strawberries and almond milk and almond butter. It was a big bowl of deliciousness. Oh, and I enjoyed a big mug of coffee. It was a big mug of, you bet, deliciousness. Actually, more like two big mugs of deliciousness. God bless beautiful Sunday mornings.

It is a beautiful morning over here. The sun is shining and the weather channel reports a high of almost 60. Hallelujah! Spring is on it's way. A walk through the park sounds perfect, but first I'm getting on my baking. I'm pulling out my recipe for my favorite healthy chocolate cookies, these Black Bean Chocolate Chili Cranberry Cookies. And when I pull out this trusty treat, it can only mean ONE thing: It's time for VERA BRADLEY. (Well, actually the second is when my grandfather politely requests his own personal batch, but I'm talking about VB here.)

Yep, this Thursday my best girlfriend, her mother-in-law, and I will be heading to the annual VB Outlet Sale. And I am ready! (Or I will be when I finish stuffing my Vera Weekender bag [in Java Blue, by the way]....) I think it's time for a new purse and wallet combo because, you know, the seven purses hanging in my closet right now are not enough, and you know, I still have to bare hooks. Hey, we are all collectors of something. VB is it for me. Oh, and coffee mugs, can't forget my coffee mugs...

Here's your smile for today, and I found it quite fitting. Thank you. Don't mind if I do.

I'm thinking these might be the next tasty dozen or so cookies to go in my oven. YUM. Except I'm going to use my favorite chocolate, Ghirardelli. The darker the better, my friends.

Image Source: Yes, I Want Cake

Happy Sunday! I hope y'all find something sweet to get into today.

It's also the beginning of National Bake Week, as if you needed another reason ;)

With Love and God Bless,