Saturday, December 18, 2010

Charity:Water

So tonight started out like every single night in our house. Jay asking have you thought of anything you'd like for dinner? Me saying, no. Nothing sounds good. I'm out of ideas. Then we throw a simple and very nutritious dinner together while complaining that (while it's tasty) we need to find some new dinner ideas.

As we sat in front of the tv, chowing down on a very healthy version of stirfry and drinking crisp clean water we tuned into a special on 20/20. Did you catch it? It was called Be the Change: Save a Life. Well, we both cried. It's not that we're naive and don't know what is going on in the world. It's just that we get wrapped up in our own world and our own problems (that seem pretty trivial in comparison). Sometimes we just don't know where to start. There are so many people that need help. We figure what's the point? I can't afford much and where would my measely 20 bucks help make a difference?

The stories that hit me the most have to do with clean water. Seeing what other people are forced to drink is just...heartbreaking. There's no reason for it. It's bubbling up from this earth for crying out loud. Watching the show I learned there are 1500 wells across Africa that are OUT OF SERVICE because of maintenance issues. We have donated money to a charity that digs wells before but I've never once given a thought about the maintaining of those wells. They talked about a charity called Charity: Water. Basically they ask you to give up a birthday. Take that birthday (Christmas, wedding, etc) money and donate it. 20 bucks will give one person clean water for 20 years. 20 YEARS people! That's amazing. And so easy.

For more information or to donate to Charity:Water click here.  For information about the other stories from tonight's show and different causes to help support click here

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.   Proverbs 11:24-25


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Turquoise Makes Me Happy =)

I LOVE the color turquoise. (And robin's egg blue, Tiffany blue, watery-green) They just make me smile. Since I currently reside in a beige dungeon I have to get my fix looking at beautiful pictures. Here are a few of my favorites...


image via Country Living

If I had a closet that wasn't stuffed to the brim with totes and a million other things I would definitely try recreating this workspace. 

image via Country Living

If I were a single girl this bedroom would be mine. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. My manly man would not go for that headboard though. But when I have a little girl someday this will be her room so I can lay in there and pretend it's mine. :)


Creamy cabinets? Check. Marble counter? Check. Amazing bar stools. Check. Check. What's not to love about this kitchen?


image via Country Living

My eyes didn't know where to look first when they spotted this beauty. That fridge. Oh my. I think I would sit in the kitchen for hours just staring at it! The color on the walls and that island are amazing. I normally don't like chandeliers but this one keeps whispering, "Look at me...look at me. I'm spectacular."


Those dining chairs will be mine someday. Mark. My. Words. I can't imagine walking past them and being in a bad mood. You just have to smile. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Homemade Facial Mask

I thought my days of oily, acne prone skin would leave me when I reached my 20s. I was wrong. I'm in my early 30s (eeks!) and I'm STILL battling craptastic skin issues. I've tried every product out there and they only make my skin break out more. I have been doing a lot of research on what would be best for my skin and have found a combination of things that I think will work. You'll need:

1 ripe strawberry
Strawberries contain natural salicylic acid to help remove dead cells, clean pores, and calm acne. They are high in antioxidants to help repair skin damage. And packed with vitamin C which will improve texture and help fight cancer cells.

oatmeal
Oatmeal is great for cleansing and exfoliating. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.


1 teaspoon honey
Honey has natural anti-microbial and antioxidant properties to help protect from skin damage. It's a natural moisturizer which will help keep wrinkles away. Honey absorbs impurities from the skin which will help with acne.
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
Yogurt has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which will help with acne. Also contains lactic acid which helps reduce wrinkles, soften, and hydrate skin.

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Helps absorb oil and leaves skin silky and matte.

Mash the strawberry up and then mix in the honey and yogurt. Stir in the cornstarch and then use the oatmeal to thicken it up. Slather it on (don't forget the neck and d├ęcolletage!) and take a relaxing bath or cover your pillow and relax. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then rinse with warm water.












Friday, November 26, 2010

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

This was so delicious - and healthy! The pearl barley provides 50% more protein than standard rice. It also has 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving (long-grain brown rice only provides 1.75). The butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, and fiber. We enjoyed this as a side dish with turkey breast the first night. The next night we added mushrooms, spinach, and shredded chicken to the leftovers for a one-dish meal.




Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash
From: Country Living Magazine

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash
2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
         salt and ground black pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups pearled barley
3/4 cup dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon blanc)
1  teaspoon fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
         zest of 1 lemon
3/4  cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (we didn't use cheese and it was still delish!)


1. HEAT oven to 400F. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking pan and roast until tender, about 25 minutes, turning once halfway through. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring broth to a gentle boil: then reduce heat to low. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add barley and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add wine and stir constantly until absorbed for about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup broth, 1 teaspoon thyme, and lemon zest; stir frequently until liquid is absorbed.

3. Repeat with remaining broth, adding 1/2 cup at a time, until barley is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Gently fold in the squash and garnish with thyme.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving


(Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer)

Let us give thanks to God above,
Thanks for expressions of His love,
Seen in the book of nature, grand
Taught by His love on every hand.

Let us be thankful in our hearts,
Thankful for all the truth imparts,
For the religion of our Lord,
All that is taught us in His word.

Let us be thankful for a land,
That will for such religion stand;
One that protects it by the law,
One that before it stands in awe.

Thankful for all things let us be,
Though there be woes and misery;
Lessons they bring us for our good-
Later 'twill all be understood.

Thankful for peace o'er land and sea,
Thankful for signs of liberty,
Thankful for homes, for life and health,
Pleasure and plenty, fame and wealth.

Thankful for friends and loved ones, too,
Thankful for all things, good and true,
Thankful for harvest in the fall,
Thankful to Him who gave it all.

 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Random Things I'm Lovin' This Week

It's been a week full of doctor appointments, procedures, and hospitals. Ugh. I was starting to feel a little down and overwhelmed today so I decided to indulge in some things I love!


1. Lavender. If I could be anything I'd be a farmer and grow fields of herbs and spices.


2. Wedgwood Vase in Black Basalt. LOVE.


 3. Le Creuset. Enamelled cast iron cookware in my favorite color. Someday these beauties will be mine! Someday....

4. Jason's pumpkin cheesecake. One more day and this will be melting in my mouth. Yum. Can't. Wait.


5. Peppermint Mocha Ice Cream. I'm so addicted to this flavor. I dream about Starbucks Iced Peppermint White Mocha drinks on a regular basis. I have issues.

6. Gorgeous fall/winter wreath. I need to get crafty this week and make my own.

image via Lula Boutique
7. Jadite..and milk glass. We went to the thrift stores last week and the only jadite we found was a set of canisters for...wait for it...$1000!!!


8. Mr. Bean. I dunno why but this picture just cracks me up!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Training for a 1/2! Whoot!

I'm so excited! My dear friend Heather called last week and said she was going to be running the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon in February and that I was going to be running it too! =)  I've been wanting to train for a real race for quite awhile but just haven't been healthy enough to put in the time and effort. I'm nervous and excited. I hope I can finish. I'd like to finish with a good time but I'll be pretty happy if I can just cross the finish line.


I think I'm more excited about the fact that while she's here we are going to see the new Harry Potter park at Universal!!!! Yeah....I'm a dork. I'm a Harry Potter fan. I can't hide it. You can take one look at me and know I'm a nerd. =)


I really need to figure out a training schedule that works for me. I also get an upset stomach when I run so I need to figure that out too. 

Oh! And I figured out something pretty awesome today. I've been running this same loop around our apartment complex that I thought was 1 mile. In my mid distance runs (say 4-6 miles or so) I've been REALLY discouraged with my times and pace. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why my times were just so dang slow. I went to map my run tonight and found out my 1 mile loop is actually 1.2 miles. Not a big difference at first.  BUT when you realize that a (previously thought) 5 mile run is actually 6 miles...whoo hoo!!!! My times aren't so shabby now. =)


I kept losing track of how many miles I was counting in my head today. I decided I either did a really bad 3 or a really great 4. We'll say it was a great 4 miles. Haha. I really want NEED one of these babies. Right now Walmart has them for $138. I'm trying to explain to Jay how essential it is that I have one for training. Wish me luck! =)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yum-O...Pork Souvlaki Saute with Tzatziki

We've been trying to incorporate new -and healthy- meals into our usual lineup.  We basically eat the same meals over and over in rotation. I enjoy them but my taste buds are getting bored. So I went on the hunt for new and unusual things. I came across this recipe on the Food and Wine website. It's normally served with whole wheat pitas but we didn't have any and didn't feel like running out to the store. So we just ate the pork as is and dipped it into the yogurt dip. We haven't had pork in years and I have to say this was delicious! Definitely going to be a staple in our rotation.


Pork Souvlaki Saute with Tzatziki
From:  Food and Wine Magazine

Ingredients
2 boneless pork chops, cuts into thin strips
1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup Greek or plain non-fat yogurt
1/3 cucumber, finely diced


1. In a bowl, mix together the pork, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and 1 clove of mashed garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 20 minutes.


2. Mix the yogurt, cucumber, and the remaining 1 clove of garlic. Season with salt and pepper.


3. Heat a saute pan, and add the pork and onion mixture. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally. I let mine get nicely browned and it took about 10 minutes.


4. Serve the pork and onions with the tzatziki. You can also serve it with the whole wheat pitas. We ate ours just dipped in the tzatziki and served it with steamed broccoli and a sweet potato.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I've lost my mojo...

I've been trying to get back into working out since I had surgery but it isn't going very well. I decided last night it's because I have no real plan in shape. I was just doing things willy nilly. So, in order to get back on track I've decided to log my workouts and make a plan. Hopefully, this will keep me focused and motivated. I'm only 15 pounds away from my high school weight!!!! Whooo hooo! Although, I've decided that losing the weight isn't my main priority anymore. I'm in the healthy weight range for my height.  Holy moly. I didn't think that would ever happen again. I had kinda resigned myself to being the fat girl for the rest of my life.  Now I just want to be in shape. Tight and toned is my new goal!


I think this new plan has rejuvenated me. I woke up this morning and got right to it. I didn't have to talk myself into it like I normally do! When I was finished I felt great and ready to start the day.  I started off today with a butt blasting workout!  I want a butt that fits into jeans. =)  Actually, mine has no problem fitting into them....it's filling them out I have a problem with! I have flat butt-itis. So, to hopefully fix this ailment I did the following routine.


1. Jump squats and backward lunge (10 reps)
2. Prone hip extensions with leg crossovers (20 reps)
3. Bulgarian squats (20 reps each leg)
4. Mountain climbers (30 reps)

Repeat 4 times

I also went on a very slow 4.4 mile run. Hopefully, my mojo is back and I'll be sporting a toned tushy soon!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

My favorite time of year!

October is absolutely my favorite month of the year. The smell of the damp earth, the cool air, beautiful leaves, football games, cardigan sweaters, the food - good grief- I could go on and on.  I'll spare you the rambling though and get on to the best part. The food! It's the perfect time of year to finally turn on the oven and do some baking (actually, for Jay to do some baking). I really love a good soup/stew/chili too. Here are two new favorites to start off October with. First, the ridiculously easy (and healthy!) zucchini soup.


Ingredients:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 lbs zucchini (about 3 or 4 zucchinis), roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock to keep this vegetarian)
3/4  – 1 cup loose basil leaves
1 Parmesan cheese rind
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Toasted pine nuts, for garnish


1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes and then add the garlic. Cook for an additional minute. (Savor the aroma and think about how great you're going to smell when you exercise later!)

2. Add the zucchini and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock and cheese rind and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Remove the Parmesan rind. Puree the soup in a food processor with the basil.

5. Serve garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.

6. Slurp 'til your heart's content.




And the perfect fall treat- Pumpkin Pie Bars

Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup  granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup  (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/2 cup  chopped walnuts (optional)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp.  pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with parchment, with ends extending over sides.

2. Mix flour, 1/4 granulated sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and nuts (optional).

3. RESERVE 1 cup of the oat mixture and press remaining mix onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.

4. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and spice with mixer until well blended. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture

5. BAKE 25 min.; cool 10 min. Use parchment to transfer dessert from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Pumpkin Pie Bars recipe


Hope everyone enjoys their day! I'm off to pretend I live in a state in which autumn actually exists!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Dream House

I'm a serial stalker....of interior decorating blogs. I look at them for hours on end before I remember I have homework due before midnight. I normally have to turn the computer off while studying otherwise they suck me back in! =) Right now we live in a depressing little apartment so I find myself dreaming of houses everyday. A house with tons of windows that let in the light. I want to open a window and watch my curtains blow in the breeze. I can't wait to live in a house with no carpet! I can't wait to live in a house. Period! I've collected TONS of pictures over the years. (I never thought I'd be sharing them so I didn't keep track of where I found them. If you recognize one let me know so I can give it credit!)  Anyway...welcome to my dream house. *Sigh*

How gorgeous is this? Of course this is from the Hamptons...

A bright and airy kitchen with a big island. I want a big farm table the family can gather around to eat dinner, do homework, decorate Christmas cookes, and play games....

A comfy living room with built in bookshelves

A cozy bedroom

A tub I can spend hours in. Ahhh...

A comfy guest room

A nursery....of course =)

A pretty mudroom that leads out to this...


A girl can dream right? =)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Feeling Homesick

Every year as we cross into September I get a little lump in my throat.  For me, there is nothing more beautiful than Michigan in the fall. The colors, the smells, the cool invigorating air. I've been gone for about 9 years now and I can still close my eyes and see my favorite places clearly and smell the damp cold dirt. For anyone who has never visited Michigan I encourage you to save your pennies and head north for you next vacation. There is something for everyone there. Small towns to explore, constant festivals of all sorts, some of the finest wineries, water everywhere.  I could go on and on listing all of the wonderful things Michigan has to offer. Tonight I want to focus on one of the things I miss the most. Barns. Yup. I miss them terribly.  They are beautiful and it breaks my heart every time I hear of someone tearing down an old historic barn. They just don't make them like that anymore and I think they should try and save as many as possible.  I used to take my books up into the hayloft and read for hours; tucked into the hay with a few barn kittens. The sweet smell of horse grain permeating the air. I would even take my trumpet up there and practice for hours. I loved opening the window and looking out over the fields. Especially the wheat. The golden rods blowing gently in the breeze.  You can't help but feel completely relaxed when you're looking out over this:





Here are a few pictures of barns I've collected over the years. I hope you find them as relaxing and beautiful as I do.










Sunday, September 5, 2010

Letting God Take Control

"Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life." ~ Nancye Sims


I recently stumbled across this quote and it really resonated with me.  Precisely because I have been living both in the past and the future simultaneously while drifting through my present days. I had hopes and dreams just like anyone else. I had a "life plan" when I was in high school. I was an over-achieving perfectionist who thought she knew exactly how her life was going to play out. Oh you silly naive little girl. I was going to join  the Air Force, obtain a college degree, be married, and have 3 children by the time I was 30. Well, none of that worked how I had hoped. Have I mentioned that I'm also a control freak? Yeah. Just a bit. So I don't understand how I let so many other people control my life for so long. 


I gave up. I quit my own life. I did what others asked. I tried to please those around me. I gave up my dreams, hobbies, friends.  Depression set in and swallowed me whole. I knew I had to do something drastic so I started a new, fresh life. Problem is- I still lingered in my past. Constantly thinking, "wish I'd done this, wish I'd been stronger, wish I'd done that".  If I'm not visiting my past I'm waiting for my future. My thoughts turn to, "when I'm done with school we'll be able to do this and that...I'll have a real life. I'll be happy then".


Then I realize that I'm 31. I have no idea how that happened. I swear I blinked and lost an entire decade!  I think about how old I'll be when I finally graduate, find a job, buy a house, start a family. Then - anxiety sets in and I start thinking about how if I'd only done this and that ten years ago. Ugh. It's exhausting.


I'm pretty sure God has been shedding tears over this lost girl. I tried to control my life and lost control. I tried to plan and dictate my life and nothing went my way. I'm convinced God thought, "Wow! This girl is stubborn and seriously doesn't listen. How can I get through to her?"  Well, He did. I think a cancer diagnosis was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Sounds crazy doesn't it? Some people realize they have to live each day to the fullest. Others (ehem...me) need a hardcore reminder that our next day is not guaranteed. I was given a poor prognosis and no doctors seemed to be able (or willing) to help. I was staring death in the face. I tried getting appointments at certain facilities or with certain doctors all across this country. Nothing was working.  I finally gave up control. I started praying for God to just take over. Send me where you need me. He found me someone 30 minutes away.  God is good. Life is good.


I need to remember that God has a life planned for me far greater than I could dream up for myself. I'm going to enjoy my days. Do something that makes me smile everyday. Try new foods, new adventures. I need to stop bemoaning my past. It is what it is. It's made me who I am today and I'm okay with that. So, this post is really just me purging. I'm letting it out, taking a deep breath, relinquishing control, and tomorrow I'm going to love with all my heart and laugh about something silly. Bring it on God- I'm listening and ready for my adventure. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My name is Rebecca and I am a book addict.

My love affair with books started at an early age. I loved escaping into other worlds. I would completely lose myself in the pages. I would imagine what it was like to be the size of Thumbelina and live in her world.


Or I would imagine living in a tree with Mr. Fox and his family. 


When I'm reading a great book I will actually think about it throughout the day when I'm not reading. Does anyone else do this or am I a bit crazy? I mean ... I know I'm a little off my rocker...but is this normal? Even just a teensy bit?  When I got sucked into the Harry Potter series (yeah, I admit it) I would actually find myself wondering what Harry was up to. Yeah, saying that out loud makes me realize just how crazy it sounds. Oh well.

I absolutely adore the illustrations in vintage children's books. I can't wait to have children and fill their bookshelves and walls with some of these beauties. These were a few of my favorites growing up.







It's not just the stories that I love though. I love beautifully made books. I love feeling different papers used for the pages. One of the first things I will do is take the dustcover off to see what the book cover and binding look like. For my birthday, Jay bought me two books I've been lusting after. They are from the Penguin Classics Collection. He said more are to come. This is to start my collection. I love him..



Aren't they purdy? =)