Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Three Whole Days

Happy Tuesday! I surely enjoyed the last three days spent with my little family. We worked hard and played hard. Here are a few highlights.

Made pancakes for breakfast Saturday morning. Miss M has named Saturday morning "Pancake Saturday". We've had pancakes for the last four weeks I think. She's loving it because she gets to make them with her daddy.

Took a walk to the park and played. The weather was perfect.

Went out for a yummy dinner. The kids were so cute and very well-behaved.

Put the kids in bed and watched the Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader with Husband. Have you seen it? It's been a long time since we've watched a movie. So fun.

Went to church Sunday morning. Husband and I take care of the little nursery kids. They were all exhausted and kept laying down on the floor. I felt the same way!

Husband and Miss M cooked dinner while Mr. T and I had naps. Miss M came running upstairs and said, "Dinner's ready, Mom. I love you." So sweet, right? Dinner was delicious, and it was so nice to have dinner at home with just the four of us. It's a rare event these days.

After the kids went to bed Sunday night, I was sitting in bed reading, and Husband was playing games on his iphone. He fell asleep just after nine. I thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet in the house and didn't want to put my reading down!

Spent all of Monday putting a few more things away and organizing. I finally feel like things are getting close to being finished.

Reflected on the incredible blessing it is to live in our beautiful country. My grandpas both served in the Armed Forces. I am so thankful for all of the brave men and women who have served, and those who are currently serving, to protect our freedoms. What a blessing it is for us all. May those serving be continually watched over.

I feel rejuvenated and energized after this lovely weekend. Ready to tackle the coming week. Hope you had an equally as enjoyable weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Long Weekend and the Perfect Spring Jacket

I am loving this darling jacket.

The stripes.

The bow.

Oh my. Love.

So ready for a long weekend. Husband actually has Monday off! Hooray!
We are planning some fun things, weather permitting. We'll have fun either way.
Miss M is stoked that Husband will be home for three whole days.
So am I.

Have a lovely weekend!

Try Cork As Toxin-Free Shelf Liner

Before moving into my new house, I started looking for shelf liner because I wanted to protect my cabinet shelves and drawers, especially in the kitchen and under the sinks. Most liners I found were made of some type of plastic. I really wanted something that provided some cushion and was also toxin-free, so my search began.

After some quick searching, I realized this wasn't going to be an easy task. There wasn't a single website that listed their liners as BPA, phthalate, or PVC free. I picked a handful of companies and sent requests for information about the material content in their shelf liners.*

While waiting to hear back, I started thinking about alternative materials. I had noticed that a few sites offered cork shelf liner, but it had adhesive backing which I wasn't thrilled about. Since cork is used for a variety of things, such as bulletin boards and under hardwood floors, I started searching for rolls of cork I could cut myself. The vast number of options surprised me, and after reading more about cork, I ordered a big roll of it.

A bit about cork: Cork comes from a tree. It is naturally toxin-free and considered environmentally friendly. It is also hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, which is perfect for under the sink. Cork also provides the bit of cushion I wanted, and it is easily cleaned. A roll of cork costs significantly less per square foot than cork shelf liner and regular shelf liner. It also doesn't have the adhesive backing which can attract pests.

It took about a week for my cork roll to arrive. It looked huge on my doorstep. It took some time to cut the cork to size, but it would have taken that long with any other shelf liner, too. I'm really happy with the cork on my shelves, and I love how it looks.

Do you use shelf liner? Have you found a great, toxin-free product?

*Of all the companies I emailed, only one company, The Container Store, said they had a few toxin-free natural fiber shelf liners. The woman at customer service went way above and beyond in contacting every company that The Container Store receives shelf liner from to find out the materials used. That right there impressed me very much with their service. However, I had already decided on cork.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Hanging in there

Loving these shaded sandbox ideas to protect from the sun.

Went on a date with Husband Friday night. It's been a long time since we went out by ourselves. Saw Pirates of the Caribbean. Enjoyable. Big thanks to brother and his girly friend for watching the little monsters.

Took sister-in-law out to breakfast for her birthday Saturday morning. Yummy food. Better company. Proud of her.

Took a walk with Miss M and played outside in the dirt. Enjoyed the bit of sun we had. Love that girl.

BBQ'ed with friends on Saturday night. Wonderful to catch up and kiddos had a blast. Dirt-covered and all.

Semi-relaxing Sunday complete with a big family dinner.

Husband got sick. Miss M still coughing. Still raining. Will it ever go away? I'm not sick yet. Trying to hold out this time. Fingers crossed. Like the rain, but ready for some sunshine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a favorite snack at my house. (I like to call them chickpeas because it sounds cuter.) The kids both love them, and so do Husband and I. Well, I think Husband just "likes" them or tolerates them.

I cooked up a batch of dry chickpeas on the stove this morning during breakfast with the intent to roast them for snack time. Mr. T couldn't even wait for them to cool down after cooking, so I pulled a bunch out and set them in a little bowl. He would toddle over with his empty bowl and hold it up to get more. Miss M soon followed with a request for her own bowl.

Mr. T devouring his chickpeas.

My favorite way to eat them is roasted. I love foods with a good crunch. Roasted chickpeas are a great replacement for your favorite high fat, salty snack. Chickpeas are a good source of fiber and protein. They are also high in copper, folate, and manganese. To learn more about chickpea nutrition facts, go here and here.

My finished chickpeas. Crunchy and delicious!

Roasted Chickpeas

2 C freshly cooked chickpeas*
Olive oil, about 1 T
Garlic salt or another seasoning of your choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Give it a little shake about 10 minutes in. After the 20 minutes, take it out and lightly drizzle on olive oil and seasoning. Gently toss to coat. Return to oven for another 10-20 minutes. Ovens vary quite a bit, so your time may be longer or shorter to get a nice crunch. I also watch pretty closely the last 10 minutes or so to make sure they don't burn. The chickpeas along the outside will brown quite a bit faster in the end.

*I prefer the taste of freshly cooked, dry chickpeas. I soak them overnight and gently boil them in water for 60-75 minutes or until tender. Adding a bit of salt the last 15 minutes or so. You can use canned chickpeas if you prefer.

Besides being super tasty, I love that my kids will devour them. I much prefer feeding them something like this for a crunchy snack than less-nutritious alternatives.

Leftover roasted chickpeas (if you have any) make a nice, crunchy addition to salads.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grilled turkey, goat cheese, and roasted red pepper sandwich

Last week, Husband and I made one of the most delicious sandwiches. I've been craving lighter meals as the weather warms up, and this sandwich makes a perfect light meal with a side of veggies.

The sandwich we created was based on this recipe from Cooking Light. First, I decided against using a pre-made pizza crust for the bread. Instead I found a nice, freshly baked loaf of ciabatta bread. After slicing the bread, I drizzled balsamic vinegar on the inside before layering the filling ingredients on. I also layered in some fresh baby spinach to add nutrients and color. Don't skimp on the roasted red pepper or basil. I thought the amount in the original recipe would be overwhelming, so I added less, and it really needed more. The second time I made it, I added one whole red pepper per sandwich and a couple of basil leaves. It was fantastic! Husband gave it a 9 on his 1-10 scale. He doesn't throw his 9's around lightly either. It's a really high number around here.

Grilled turkey, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers sandwiches
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 small loaf of crusty bread (I used ciabatta, but focaccia would be really yummy, too.)
balsamic vinegar
4 oz goat cheese
3/4 lb sliced turkey
1 (7 oz) bottle roasted red peppers or 4 peppers
1 C. baby spinach
fresh basil leaves (I just used a little packet from the store)

Heat a skillet over medium low heat. The sandwich will be thick, so cooking it slowly ensures the cheese melts, the turkey gets warm, and the outside bread gets crispy.

Cut bread in half horizontally if it is thin. You'll build the sandwich and then cut it in quarters. If it's a thick loaf of bread, just slice it and build your sandwiches that way. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on top half of bread. Spread goat cheese on bottom half of bread. Then layer turkey, peppers, spinach and basil on top. Top with balsamic drizzled half. Cut sandwich in quarters. Add to pan and cook until desired crispiness is reached and middle is warm.

I hope you like it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are brown eggs healthier?

Have you ever wondered, "What's the difference between white eggs and brown eggs?" Are brown eggs more nutritious? Is one better for you than another?

Maybe you already know the answer, but I sure didn't. I actually hadn't really thought much about it until a few days ago. My sister came to visit and asked me if I knew what the difference was. She told me it had to do with the chickens' earlobes. Whaaaat?

Here's the scoop on brown eggs versus white eggs. Even though many people believe brown eggs are healthier, brown and white eggs are nutritionally the same. The difference in the egg color is determined by the breed of chicken. Chicken with white feathers and white earlobes lay white eggs. Chickens with red feathers and red earlobes lay brown eggs. Oh, and one more difference is brown eggs are usually more expensive because we think they are healthier.

So, next time you are picking up eggs, check out how the chickens are treated instead of just the color of their eggs.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Salad in a jar?

Have you seen this way to prepare salad for a whole week? I think Paula over at Salad in a Jar is on to something.

I'm super interested to try it since I'm really good at buying lettuce and really bad at preparing it as often as I should :)

I also appreciated this post by Paula about deciding if food should go in the waste or on the waist.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sticky gum mess

About a month ago I found a wad of gum ground into the floormat of my car. At the moment, I didn't have time to try figure out how to get it out, and I soon forgot about it until a couple of nights ago when Husband and I were cleaning out the car.

I went inside and looked around at what I had on hand. I decided to see if lemon essential oil would take care of the sticky disaster. It not only smells wonderfully fresh, but it cleans wonderfully and dissolves sticky, gooey messes. I put a few drops on a rag and scrubbed for a few minutes. The gum came right up with a little elbow grease. The added bonus is my car smells delightful.

Lemon essential oil is great to have around. I love to clean with it. I'll be doing a post later about many more of its benefits.

*Make sure to do a spot test before using on fabric or upholstery and follow with a damp rag or water rinse.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Splashing in the rain

Source: google.ca via Sarah on Pinterest

Yesterday and today have been cloudy and rainy.

Wishing I had these to splash in the puddles.

Rain is always better when you can splash in the puddles.

Don't you agree?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Celebrating Mothers

Received a beautiful bouquet of tulips and a sweet card from my dad. He's the best.

Attended a graduation party on Friday for my dear friend who just completed architecture grad school. So proud of her.

Spent Saturday with the family running errands and working on house stuff. Boring stuff is always better with people you love.

Woke up to breakfast in bed on Sunday morning. My two little kiddos helped me eat it as they jumped on my bed.

Got to spend the day with my own mom who is in town this week. She is one of the most incredible women you will ever meet.

Went to church and had a big family dinner at my house with my mom, siblings, and in-laws. Always love a good party.

Big thanks to Husband for the breakfast, much-needed afternoon nap, and wonderful dinner. He also gave me the sweetest card. Simply my best friend and favorite person ever.

Hope you had a lovely weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


The last couple of days we have started to explore our new area more.

Source: tumblr.com via Ariel on Pinterest

We finally went to the library in our new city. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't as cool as the one by our last place. But to Miss M, it's still a fantastic place to explore and find lots of great books, and that's what matters. We have been devouring our new books. I love reading to Miss M. I love to watch her little facial expressions as we read and listen to her cute comments about the stories.

On Tuesday, Husband came home early, and by early I mean before six o'clock. He surprised Miss M with a gift certificate to get a treat at a local dessert bakery. She was so excited and hurried to finish her dinner. Upon walking into the bakery, Miss M's eyes got big, and she started looking at the pretty cupcakes and other treats in the glass cases. We let her pick out what she wanted and headed home to eat. Miss M and Mr. T each thoroughly enjoyed half a cupcake. They had a bath directly after. Small, simple outtings like this make being a parent so fun.

Yesterday, we went to our neighborhood park. I met a few other moms, and we thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air. Miss M was surprisingly nervous to play with the other kids. She kept asking me to come play with her, so I also enjoyed a few good runs down the slide. I'm thrilled it's supposed to be warm all week! Playing outside is the best.

My mom is flying in this afternoon. I'm excited to see her and let the kids have grandma time. I sure wish my dad was coming, too. He's headed to Japan for business instead.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be a kid again? When life was magical, simple, and full of play and learning. Sometimes I think it would be nice to go back with the knowledge I have now. Maybe I would do things differently. I know it doesn't work that way, but sometimes I just wonder what it would be like. And sometimes, it would be nice to be carefree again.

Do you ever think about being a kid again?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Life is beautiful with Obol?

Can I just tell you how cool this bowl is? I hardly ever eat cereal because I hate when it gets soggy. Grosses me out. As a kid, I would pour about a tablespoon of milk on my cereal at a time. Eat. Repeat. Now I just try to eat it fast while I tip my bowl. This bowl can solve my soggy troubles and just might save me some time in the morning.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To neti pot or not?

Last week I had a nasty cold. (This is the last time you'll hear about it. It was just that bad.) It had been going strong for about five days when I started to feel weird pressure in my cheek bones. I have never had sinus pressure before, but this was it. What a yucky feeling! I told Husband about it, and he decided it was time for me to try his neti pot.


I first saw the neti pot several years ago on Oprah with Dr. Oz. You see, I tried it a couple of years ago, and I vowed to never do it again. It was a horrible experience. It felt like I had pool water not just up my nose but sloshing around in my head, and I thought I was going to drown myself. Such an uncomfortable feeling. I had no interest in repeating that.

Husband has been using a neti pot for several years. He's had sinus problems ever since he had a second round of wisdom teeth surgery, and the doctor nicked a hole into his sinus. He uses his neti pot several times a week and tells of his great results.

After five days of stuffy nose annoyance and the beginnings of a sinus infection, I was starting to get desperate. Husband, or should I say my neti pot Master Sensei, as he referred to himself, convinced me to give nasal irrigation another shot and offered to show me the ropes.

I was nervously laughing and not sure I could do it, but I did. It worked, and it was a success. I'll spare you the gory details, but let's just say I could finally breathe after getting all that gunk out and the sinus pressure was gone. It worked so well that I have used it three times since with great results each time. I'm finally, FINALLY, feeling better today.

Master Sensei's top tips:
  • Use warm water. I made the mistake of using water that was too cold the first time. It burned like crazy. You want it warm but not hot. Something similar to body temperature is best because it will be the most comfortable going inside your body.
  • Add enough salt. I also made the mistake of not adding enough salt the first time I tried it. This also made it burn. Your body appreciates a nice saline solution much more than plain water because it's less irritating. A general guide is 1/4 teaspoon salt to 8 ounces of water. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda which can make the solution a little more gentle.
  • Tilt your head forward. Don't lift your head up to watch in the mirror. Water doesn't come spilling out of your nostrils like this very often, so you'll be interested in watching, but keep your head tilted forward so the water doesn't run down the back of your throat instead of out your nose. You'll figure the angle out pretty quickly, and you can probably still get a quick peek.
  • Blow. Blow that gunk out with full force, both nostrils at the same time. You'll be amazed.
The great benefits of nasal irrigation are simple - you clean out the gunk and dust in your nose. This allows you to breathe easier, relieve pressure, and simply feel better. It's great for when you are sick, and it will also help with chronic sinus problems and allergies. I think Husband didn't get the nasty cold like the rest of the family did because he rinsed it out of his nose early on and avoided the full-blown version.

I just might be a nose rinsing, neti pot convert.

Have you ever tried a neti pot?
Have you had success with nasal irrigation?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lovely Weekend: Being Kind

I could really use a gorgeous piece like this.

On Saturday, we spent the day running errands and organizing our home. It's a long process, but things are slowly coming together after taking all of last week off.

On Sunday, we attended the baby blessing of Husband's coworker. It was a beautiful event and wonderful to hear the parents sweet words about their baby who was born with heart complications and had heart surgery at 5 days old. The baby is doing surprisingly well, but there will be many more surgeries to come and someday a heart transplant. The strength of some people in this world amazes me.

Sunday afternoon, I had a much-needed long nap. It was glorious.

My brother and his cute girlfriend came over for dinner. I tried a new recipe that was delicious, and we had a great time.

Sunday evening, I went with Husband to a new friend's home. She had met Husband at a benefit concert in November and invited him to come play the piano at her home. Husband played the piano and spoke to a group of young men, young women, and some of their parents about choosing to listen to inspiring and uplifting music. He did a wonderful job.

The new friends we made were so kind to us. They own a professional landscaping company and offered to help us landscape our yard for their cost. Wow. They are going to come by in the next week or two and draw up some ideas and help us get going on our yard. I'm so excited!

The generosity of people we know and new friends we meet amazes me. They are so kind to us. I hope I can be that thoughtful to my friends and people I meet in return.

Wishing you a lovely week.

Mine will be full of the last bits of unpacking, organizing, and a good deep cleaning after our sickie week.
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