Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Birthdays, Boys and Book Clubs {Top 10 Tuesday}

1.  I really miss being able to upload and share the photos I am learning to take on my new camera.  In fact, we were all set to buy me a new computer last weekend but I got cold feet at the last second wondering laptop or desktop and waffling so much I just gave up and postponed the shopping trip.  Either way I am going on Friday and will let you know what I decided to buy.  I welcome any advice.  (fyi ~ I am definitely getting a Mac and switching from PC for the past 20+ years to Mac is exhilarating and scary too.)

2.  In light of said photo problems I am really enjoying Instagram and Flickr.  Other people's everyday photos are so inspiring and oddly comforting.

3.  In two weeks that boy turns 10.  Wow - my first double digit child.  I heard Dr. Kevin Lehman say that he considers kids 11 to 18 to be teenagers today because kids are growing up so much faster.  In that case I better soak up the next year with my still "little" boy!

4.  In two weeks and two days this boy turns 9.  Again, wow.  As you can imagine, we are deciding what to do for birthday parties this year.  Last year was super small and low-key and we all loved it.  This year they want to play laser tag.   Hmmm.  Must decide and soon.

5.  I'm thinking of joining this book club but I have already committed to this one.  Oh and my in-real-life book club is reading this book.  Can I possibly do all three?  If I unplug more often I think I could.

6.  The weather has been so mild this winter.  It has me wondering what may lie in store for Spring and Summer storms.  

7.  I just loved this post so much I had to share it here for you to enjoy.  The Winter From the Top Of A Swing by Elizabeth Foss.  Sometimes I feel she speaks for me about slowness, quiet, creativity and how to do these things in the midst of real life.


   
8.  Ash Wednesday is February 22.  Easter Sunday is April 8.  I really love Lent. Two years ago I gave up Facebook and it was marvelous.  (I have never really gone back.)  Maybe this year it will be something else electronic like Twitter or iPhone?  Must think(and listen) on this.

9.  What are you going to make for Superbowl Sunday?  Here's our plan.

10.  And lastly, here's a beautiful quotation that has stuck with me the past few days.

"There are people who take the heart out of you, and there are people who put it back."  ~Elizabeth David

I know which type I would rather be.



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Monday, January 30, 2012

Game Day Guacamole {Menu Plan Monday}



My husband is the guac-master in our household and this is his go-to recipe.  He eats it with chips of course but also loves to slather it on burgers, tacos or even breakfast burritos.  We usually don't make it spicy because I rarely have fresh jalapeños on hand but if you like a little kick ~ throw them in ~ it's extra delicious!


Game Day Guacamole 
from mistysmornings.com


INGREDIENTS
3 ripe avocados
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
1/2 tomato, seeded and chopped
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4  to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt depending on your taste
*optional spicy additions:
1 half fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced 


PROCESS
1. Remove avocado from skins into a medium mixing bowl. 
2. Mash well with fork.
3. Add all the rest of the ingredients. 
4. Add more salt or lime juice to taste.
5. Serve immediately so it stays bright green.



******

MENU PLAN for January 30- February 5 (SUPERBOWL SUNDAY)

Monday ~ Easy Chicken Enchiladas (I use La Victoria sauce and rotisserie chicken)
Tuesday ~  Leftover enchiladas
Wednesday ~ Homemade Naan Pizzas and  Buttermilk Ranch salads
Thursday ~ Lemon-Lime Tilapia and fresh green beans
Sunday ~ Superbowl Food:  
Game Day Guacamole (see recipe in this post)
Fresh fruit salad
BWW Spicy Garlic Wings with celery and Blue Cheese dip




 ******
You're Invited to Party Here!

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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Little Bliss List and 7 Quick Takes



1.  Sunshine through the kitchen window while I wash dishes to the sound of birdsong.




2. A hand-painted card from a far away friend who says I inspired her  (!) to share her art after I shared mine. This card will be a forever treasure.



3.  Discovering that Naan from Target is softer and more delicious than pita bread.  We have been eating it with this hummus and making mini pizzas with it also.  So easy and yummy.


4.  Finally getting my 2012 books to read organized into categorical shelves on Goodreads.  (nerd alert!)  Somehow it makes it feel more possible when I can see the lists and not just a jumble of 40+  random book titles.  In case you're interested here's the breakdown:
~cookbooks ‎(8)
~create 7
~faith (6)
~fiction (6)
~home (4)
~memoir (8)
~self-improvement
~writing (6)
~year-long reads (13)




5.  Valentine's Day coffee mugs and time to sip slowly.


6.  Seeing surfboards in January ~ a sign of really nice weather and a reminder to make time to get to the beach.  I never thought I would turn into one of those people who lives by the ocean and never gets there but alas...

7.  Fellow bloggers who share similar introverted interests like journaling enough to create a community around it. This post by Liz Lamoreux inspired me to join her Notes from the Journey Flickr group. Sometimes all that matters is to be reassured that we are not alone. 





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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Creativity Is Contagious {PHFR}

~PRETTY~
The sight of this floral box (complete with rhinestone brooch on the cover) filled to capacity with multi-colored Sharpies, glitter markers and ball point pens makes me feel that first day of school excitement every time.


I have told you before how I am exploring various modes of creativity this year.  This tiny cache of pens has been put to good use since the arrival of this book:


Creative Doodling & Beyond
     by Stefanie Corfee
        Check out her bohemian blog here.

As I have been doodling and dabbling around in the world of mixed media art, a beautiful phenomenon has unfolded around me in this house proving this quote, by Albert Einstein, to be quite true: "Creativity is contagious. Pass it on." 


~HAPPY~
ZJ, my middle son and aspiring author, has caught the creativity bug along with me.  He has his own Smash book, as does RW, my eldest, and we have passed a few beautiful hours smashing stuff side by side.  Tomorrow night we are going out for the second week in a row, Smash journals in hand, for dinner and Smashing at a local cafe.   Dad can play basketball with them but I'll take Smashing anytime.  


~FUNNY~
KC, our 3 1/2 year old, is also feeling creative lately.  Here he is "reading" me a bedtime story.  He is also busy drawing and even "writing" his own short stories.  Trust me, those chicken scratch stories are already stored forever in my Smash book!


~REAL~
Another book on creativity that we are all enjoying is Artistic Fitness
by Ed Tadem.

In the photo above, you can see that my two older boys have begun challenging themselves to sketching from the weekly lessons provided in this beautiful book. Things are truly in creativity mode around here and next week I start my first baking assignment from Tuesdays With Dorie: Baking With Julia.  So, yes, the ironing may be piling a bit high.  

Maybe I can sketch that, too, and title it "Diary of a Creative Housewife."

I'd love to hear about any creative tools you find useful and inspiring.  Please share in the comments!



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round button chicken Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grandma's Loves {Wordless Wednesday}






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Monday, January 23, 2012

Bacon Fried Rice {Menu Plan Monday}




So my son comes home from his best friend's house proclaiming the utter deliciousness of the meal he ate while there.  Bacon fried rice!  I was intrigued but let it go.  I've never made fried rice of any kind so why start now?  But my son continued to bring it up here and there - he is a lover of bacon -  so I finally asked Mrs. R. for the recipe as she stood in my entryway last evening, picking up her son from our house.


As she related her recipe in her lovely Filipino tones, I mentally checked off each item that I already had in my pantry.  The only missing ingredient was Johnny Salt which she adds.  I simply improvised after checking its mystery ingredients on line.


Just before the power went out in a lightning storm, I threw together this easy and - yes - utterly delicious bacony meal.  Although my son said it wasn't the same as Mrs. R's he gave it two thumbs way up.  In fact, there were no leftovers to share with Dad when he got home!  












INGREDIENTS 
4 cups cooked rice ( I used white)
4 slices bacon, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1 carrot, grated
2 eggs
dashes of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper
soy sauce to taste


PROCESS 
1.  Steam rice.
2.  In a large saucepan, render bacon until crispy.  Remove to drain and pour off most of the fat leaving some in the pan to sauté veggies.
3.  Sauté onions and carrots, stirring constantly for one minute.  
4.  Add eggs and stir quickly with veggies until eggs are cooked.
5.  Stir in rice, seasonings and soy sauce.
6.  Add bacon and serve. 
   
 ******

Monday ~ Bacon Fried Rice (see recipe below)
Tuesday ~ Taco Night (Brisket Style)
Wednesday ~Leftover Tacos
Friday ~ OUT (Smash Nite at craft store)
Saturday ~ Minestrone Soup (by Ellie Krieger) and Biscuits (by Homesick Texan)


 ******



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Friday, January 20, 2012

How to Create Art in Five Minutes

As I have mentioned before, my word for this year is CREATE.  Painting with watercolors is one area in which I have been experimenting.  Michael's has a really inexpensive line of art supplies called Artist's Loft.  I bought the watercolor paints and a few brushes as a way to get started without much investment. (Everything is around $5-$10.)  

Being a part of Alisa Burke's on-line class called Create Daily, has awakened my senses to the many opportunities to create quickly.  Sometimes we get caught up in the idea that we must have large blocks of time set aside to be artistic.  Surely, we think, it takes an afternoon to paint, collage, journal or compose a few lines of poetry.  Well, if you are seeking perfection, it does.  But if you are seeking to revel in your simplistic ability to create something imperfect instead of nothing at all,  there are moments of creative inspiration everywhere you look!

On this particular day, I opened my daily poetry email from Everyday Poems, to see this photograph of beautiful red berries in winter. (I wish I could tell you who took the photo but I cannot locate it.)


Inspiration struck.  In a few moments I had laid out my watercolor set, a cup for water and a piece of white cardstock.  A few pencils sketches followed by a little dab of color and voila, I had created a hand-painted card.  


I wasn't overly proud of how it looked but the thrill it gave me just to have made it was purely delightful.  (In this case, not being a perfectionist serves me well!)

So I am sharing this story with you today to encourage you to let go of perfection, let go of the idea that you must have closet full of art supplies and an entire afternoon free to "do art".  What if you turned away from this computer screen, picked up a pencil and a blank slip of paper and simply tried to sketch something within your view right now?  If it makes it easier, call it doodling.  Just try it.  I bet you'll like it.  No one is watching but inspiration is there, just waiting for you to welcome it into your life.



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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Tebow Effect {Wordless Wednesdays}







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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learning to Use Plan To Eat {MPM/C2W}





Since last week's post, I have spent much of my time putting away the last of the Christmas decorations, catching up with people and family  and spending lots of time getting organized on the computer.  (Does that count as writing?)  Something I did write this week that seems to have struck a chord with many readers was my Comparison Kills Contentment post at Catholic Mothers Online. Read that here if you are interested.


One way I am determined to be more intentional and creative this year is by creating and sticking to a weekly menu plan.  To help me accomplish this I signed up for the free trial of Plan To Eat.  Have you heard of it or are you using it already? (If so, please friend me @Mistysmornings so we can share recipes together!)


I struggled so much at first because I do not want to take the time to type in every recipe I love in order to be able to drag and drop the recipes onto the planner.  Thanks to Clint, the PTE customer assistant, I learned that I can simply find the recipe on-line, click the PTE Save Recipe button, and the entire thing is automatically uploaded into my recipe file.  No typing necessary!  This made me a believer and I have spent lots of time uploading recipes from my Pinterest food boards.  I forsee myself finally getting around to trying many of those mouth-watering recipes I have been busy pinning from the web.  My hope is that after the initial time spent loading recipes, the Plan To Eat planner and self-generated grocery lists will save me more time in the future.


Here's what we plan to eat this week:


Monday -  Pumpkin spice chocolate chip mini muffins and Sushi (out for the holiday)
Tuesday -  Kalamata Lemon Chicken
Wednesday - Mediterranean Layer Dip and leftover kalamata chicken
Thursday - Fat-free refried beans and rice burritos
Friday - Bean nachos (leftovers)
Saturday - OUT
Sunday - Tomato soup with bacon grilled cheese sandwiches






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Monday, January 16, 2012

Comparison Kills Contentment {Catholic Mothers Online Post}


My sister just texted me from the airplane. She and her husband are on their way to Germany to tour the Christmas markets – for the fifth time. Bring me a lebkuchen, I think as I close my phone and open the mailbox. The first Christmas card of the season has arrived. I haven’t even made one yet and was thinking I might skip it this year altogether. Opening her lovely card, I read that my friend has moved to a new home and lost 35 pounds in the last year. I am happy for her. Really, I am.


Please read the rest over at Catholic Mothers Online  where I am guest posting today.  Thanks!
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Surfing {Lots of Links to Things I Love}




Four things I am loving right now...


1.  SMASHBOOKING 
I ran out to buy one at Michael's after watching this video.  Maybe you can relate to having stacks of barely used journals lining your shelves?  Somehow the colorful format of these books makes it easy to fill up and not feel pressured by a blank page.


2.  DOWNTON ABBEY 
If you are looking for something escapist, visually beautiful and of excellent quality to watch after the children are asleep you must try DA.  Season one is available on Netflix to get you up to speed.  Season 2 just began last week.  It is great fun!

3. BAKING WITH JULIA
The book arrived in the mail this week and I have spent a few blissful minutes imagining myself baking from scratch.  Even though I am half terrified to have joined in on this challenge, I am going to give it my best shot.  You still have time to join in, too!


4.  TAKE TWELVE CHALLENGE
Another challenge but somehow this seems like something doable for me.  I can't stand that I haven't printed out a tangible photo in years.  This monthly project should help me get some photos into a book.  Maybe a new Smash Journal?


What are you loving right now?  Do share!




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Friday, January 13, 2012

This Moment {us}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.




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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coffee and Cocoa Christmas Party {PHFR+ a Recipe}

~PRETTY~

My boys had an entire week off of school before we went "home" for Christmas.  They each asked me to invite friends over to play so I decided to invite them all at the same time along with their mothers. I wanted a playdate too!


To send out the invitations I used an alternative to evite called Punchbowl.  It's free and more fun than evite in my opinion.


Part of the joy of having a party for me is having an excuse to make some extravagant recipes and pull out the German gluhwein mugs my sister has diligently brought me from her trips overseas.


~HAPPY~

It does my heart such good to spend a few hours in the company of faith-filled moms who share openly and support one another through the journey of parenthood.  


~FUNNY~

My three year old son had fun sharing his toys with his buddies from school.  When I spotted them beneath the train table I had to snap a photo. I wonder what they were discussing?
~REAL~

The downside of having 13 boys over to play:  The Lego aftermath.

~RECIPE~ 

This quiche recipe is the simplest to make and has become my go-to recipe.  My only suggestion is that I use extra sharp cheddar rather than monterey jack cheese for more flavor and zip.


I hope you are inspired to host a playdate for you and your kids soon!




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