Monthly Archives: April 2011

28 goals for 28 years

If your a soccer fan, I will join you in running in a circle with your arms up, hollering, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” 🙂

Saturday is my 28th birthday. I thought for the occasion, I would do a birthday themed post and announce 28 goals to accomplish over the next year.

Just imagine there are 16 more candles...

First, a bit about birthdays. The one thing that strikes me is when people aren’t honest about their age. This cracks me up. Maybe it’s because so much emphasis has been placed on what the years “mean.” Are they afraid people judge them because they are one of those aging type of humans?

Although, I don’t like using public restrooms and I could use my argument on myself since obviously there aren’t non-restroom using human types. Point taken…

But to me, I don’t care whether I’m (or you are) 28 or 88. Actually, I’m quite hoping to make it to 88 and so don’t want to leave out any years in between!

On the subject of making the most out of your years, I wanted to try something new this year by challenging myself to complete 28 goals in my 28th year. They are as follows:

  • 1.   Keep blogging to find my voice and take advantage of the creative outlet it provides.
  • 2.   Admit blog on Facebook
  • 3.   Support Jeremy in his new career path.
  • 4.   Commit to fit. (No diets, no guilty punishment workouts, no pity eating—just conscious choices with a healthy attitude.)
  • 5.   Grow our savings account to a two-month nest egg.
  • 6.   Eliminate paper stacks in the office.
  • 7.   Run another 5k.
  • 8.   Visit somewhere I’ve never been.
  • 9.   Organize photo albums.
  • 10.  Scan all photos for safety.
  • 11.  Buy a fire/water-proof safe for things like mortgage documents
  • 12.  Participate in The Greenhorn Adventure Race.
  • 13.  Get a new car (or at least make peace with getting one eventually).
  • 14.  Avoid grocery store eggs.
  • 15.  Update resume. (Not that I’m looking for a new job, but I think it’s a smart idea since I’ve accomplished so much since the last time I used it).
  • 16.  No self bashing. (This is partly related to #3 but I want to remember that my body has allowed me to do amazing things even though I often criticize it. If you’re a real-life friend, you are also under this rule about your own bodies. Mom I’m talking to you!)
  • 17.  Hang living room collage.
  • 18.  Take a cooking class.
  • 19.  Save more than I spend on a grocery store trip with coupons.
  • 20.  Clean out file cabinet.
  • 21.  Have a garage sale.
  • 22.  Face a fear.
  • 23.  Find an outlet for dance.
  • 24.  Use one day to do absolutely nothing.
  • 25.  Get estimates: contractor for bathroom add-on and dining room door & self for dining room walls, deck and landscaping.
  • 26.  Develop more strategic planning experience at work.
  • 27.  Keep active relationships.
  • 28.  Stave off baby fever just a little longer.

Did you do anything new today? What are some of the goals you’ve made for yourself?

Also, my birthday gift to myself is a break, which means no blogging this weekend. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you Monday!

Thrifted storage saga continues

Back to a topic I can’t seem to get enough of…my “bookcases.” Of course, I used quotes because they are not bookcases now nor will books be stored on them when I’m done, but it rolls off the tongue easier than “large, unique, storage pieces we’re using in the dining room,” right?

If you need to refer back, here is my purchase announcement, my prep work, my priming efforts and my problem trim.

It’s not looking like I’ll get to do the big reveal I had hoped for this week. But, I did make some good progress. The problem with pausing a project, well, one in the garage anyways, is that it gets dirty…

Leaves gather around it.

Pollen and dust will settle on it.

And your husband will inevitably bump into it with the lawn mower.

So I actually spent quite a bit of time up front cleaning again. But it was worth it and I spent Good Friday like this:

Painting the first coat.

I got a good first coat on every piece. Unfortunately, there are a lot of pieces. It has taken over my garage even more! I had to set up stations.

Station 1 made from two ply-wood topped saw horses and a spare 2x4.

Station 2 is a 6-foot plastic picnic table.

Station 3 is a short bookcase I put out for a future yard sale protected by a towel.

The things we do…what a mess. But it worked. And then Saturday, I got to do this:

Yay, more painting.

In addition to the many pieces in stations, the main bodies also just have so.many.surfaces. Sides, undersides, I can’t even tell you the angles I had to try to get for the area that looks like a secretary desk’s letter organizer. In the end though, I was really pleased. Just the bright, crisp white made them so much better.

First one painted!

Second one painted!

Now, I’m just finishing the glossy protective coat. Then all that’s left is the decorative accents. I decided that I’d like to wrap the support backing in fabric and fill the table-front space with Mod Podged paper to give them a little oomph…a little sass. 🙂

Here are a few fabric ideas for your scrolling pleasure:

Fabric 1

Fabric 2

Fabric 3

Fabric 4, 5 & 6

And here are a few paper examples:

Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3

Paper 4

Paper 5

So many options! I’ll be hitting up some other stores still to find the perfect complements. It’ll be fun with a lot less sweat and arm exhaustion. Plus it’s the last step to moving them inside so I’m super motivated.

Did you try anything new today? Anyone else in the last stages of a project. I’m cheering you on if you are!

Smooth(ie) operator

Ha! Ahhh, I crack myself up…

Anywho, I just wanted to touch on my latest obsession. Smoothies! I’ll admit, I’m a latecomer to the smoothie party. When Smoothie King and Tropical Smoothie places started popping up on street corners, I didn’t get it. My little brother used to get them after high school with his friends and I couldn’t understand.

Well, it’s official. I understand! I started by making them with juice. Once I realized it was the yogurt base and the strawberry banana flavor (the two most common original smoothie makings) that I hated, I started trying new mixes. And then in a fun turn of events, I worked myself up to a smoothie-lover!

I mention the background because although I came to love smoothies, they were a only-if-the-situation-presents-itself treat. More recently, I caught the fever. Foodie blogs everywhere were lighting up with news of smoothie glory…in particular, the Green Monster Movement. I decided I had to try it.

So I did. And, it was a.maze.ing. Experimental blends were happening in my kitchen daily! I’ve upgraded to a full-on smoothie-craving monster. The spinach just makes me feel good. I also add almonds for some protein and energy thanks to inspiration from my hands-down favorite smoothie place (besides my kitchen), Tropical Smoothie.

My favorite smoothie ingredients.

But I’m up for anything. In fact, you could probably put dirt in a cup and as long as it’s blended with some spinach, fruit and juice, I’d drink it. Tonight, I tried a new combination:

  • 5 ounces Greek, blueberry, non-fat yogurt
  • Splash unsweetened pineapple juice
  • Splash organic orange mango juice
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 ounce raw almonds
  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach

Loaded!

Action shot.

The green monster's ALIVE.

So delicious I wish I could share it with you. And it’s prettier than normal because I didn’t add strawberries. The red berries make the smoothie turn a disgusting rotten brown color…but it’s delicious, too. 🙂

Tonight's is a perfect spring smoothie.

In the morning I’ll throw in some ice cubes and take my breakfast on the road. Mmmmmm, sometimes it’s the little things..

Did you try anything new today? Any other smoothie addicts? What are your favorite smoothie recipes (at home or bought)?

Paying attention to details

So, a few weeks ago, I heard about this “amazing” farmer’s market where real local farmers and producers go to sell their produce, meat, cheese, honey, flowers, seafood, crafts, coffees, etc. They are also local restaurants who go to give samples and support the farmers…all around sounds like a neat-o place, no?

This is the first photo on their website--they HAVE to worth going to!

Needless to say, I was excited about giving them a try. Especially since I have really been wanted to adopt more local, seasonal, responsible food sources but  my first experience at a farmer’s market had wholesalers rather than farmers and my second attempt was a failure before I got in.

As I was leaving work last week, I went online to get directions and discovered their site was blocked at work. Bummer. Apparently the carrot man is NSFW.

So instead, I just Googled “Beach Market.” An address instantly popped up. I saved it in my phone and pulled it up as planned Saturday afternoon. I drove a shorter distance than expected and rolled into a huge place that was actually a flea market with produce stands. Not at all what I was expecting.

The people did not look like they took pride in these products and couldn’t tell me where they came from. Puzzling. After circling in a blazing hot and crowded flea market, I went back to the first produce stand I found (in between the fried carnival food cart, the adult novelties store and the Spanish Qur’an book stand).

The people were very nice and the stock looked good.

Simple first aisle.

They had normal veggies and fruits and even some more exotic finds like rambutan:

Apparently the inside flesh is white and really sweet. They are related to the litchi nut...if that helps.

And in the end, I came home with five bananas, cauliflower, two mangoes, two bell peppers and a large bunch of carrots.

All for $8.25.

Not too shabby for a place with only three produce stands total. I was disappointed that they weren’t local and were from unidentified sources though, so I did not buy the eggs, honey and other items I was hoping for.

As I was relaying my experience to a co-worker today, her face kept scrunching up at me in confusion. After a five minute back-and-forth, she laughed and said, “Oh honey! You went to the market on Beach Blvd. You were looking for the market at the beach. Two very different places!” Oh, huh. The light bulb came on. That was the first time I have been betrayed by my Googling.

Obviously, I’m looking forward to trying again…at the right place. Maybe the fourth time will be the charm and I can finally share my first experience at a real farmer’s market.

Did you try anything new today? Anybody have great local markets where they live? Also, I’m dying to know if anyone has actually tried rambutan! Maybe I’ll go back just for that. 🙂

C25K Challenge

Something amazing happened today. I was roaming my favorite blogs and the first thing on Eat Move Write was a post titled “Join Me on a Couch to 5K Challenge.”

I’ll explain that that’s amazing because I’ve been contemplating doing that program for weeks. I start with really good intentions and even did my research and bought some great new running shoes. But it’s too easy to come home from work and fade. I’m mentally exhausted, I have to make dinner, I have plans to go to a meeting or a visit a friend, etc. Well, I guess I have to take care of my body, too. So, it’s going on the agenda. If you know me, you know I LOVE an agenda!

Jasmin’s inspiring invitation told me that now was the time. No, really, it said “You. Yes, you! I want you to join me.” 🙂 I heard you Jasmin and I’m signing up. Thanks to a worksheet she provided, I have the action plan and will fill it out as I go to monitor my progress. Here’s snapshot:

My Couch to 5K plan.

In case you can’t read it, it’s just the C25K weekly plan with my name, my partner’s name (Alaska) and my goal (kick ass, taking names is optional). If you want the full Couch to 5K program plan, visit the C25K website. And, for the perfect assistance, I’m taking some of her other readers’ advice and going to Google to look up playlists that keep your time so you know when to walk and when jog.

The challenge starts next week on Monday, May 2 and follows the 9-week program, ending the week of June 27. And, just to make it interesting, I’ve signed myself and the husband (he’s such a good sport) up for a huge local run Monday, July 4…the Celebration 5K. The entry fee includes a time chip so Jeremy and I are already competitive :).

This isn’t our first run but it should be our better. Our first (and only) 5K was a charity run. It wasn’t pretty, but we started strong and had fun along the way. Here we are at home after the race:

No fancy outfits, no timer...just a ragtag duo who were happy to make it to the end.

So, anyone with me? You have a week to sign-up…or what the hey, start on your own right now! I feel very lucky to be able to run and think the challenge is the perfect kick start.

Have you run a 5K before? Are taking up a new challenge? Let’s hear it.

Palm frawns, chocolates and a kiddie pool

Happy Easter everyone! I know I could use another day off to recoup from this weekend. This was my first Easter, since being a kid, that I celebrated with kids.  I still got my own basket though so got to celebrate like a kid, too. 🙂

Jeremy and I got matching envelopes in the mail.

Mystery envelope.

If Jeremy looks excited it’s because of a hint peeking out of the envelope’s seal.

Grass!

One was green and one was pink. And when we broke it open, confirmation!

Easter baskets from Utah!

My sweet Mom packed envelopes full for each of us with traditional, colorful fake grass, goodies and cards.

The only casualty from mailing chocolate more than 2,000 miles.

I had an idea so took off toward the guest bedroom closet. In it? Our flower girl’s wicker basket…

I was excited to fill it up properly.

Alaska was also very interested.

We ate most of the candy immediately…it was the polite thing to do, right?! Hi and thanks again Mom!

We then loaded up the car with my homemade marshmallow bars and green bean casserole to visit Jeremy’s parents in central Florida.

I didn’t take any pictures as I was too busy talking and stuffing my face with ham and sides. But it was nice to see my in-laws and they even put out eggs for our two nephews (Austin is 10 months and Orion is 16 months). Orion actually got into the hunt and would put his hands on his knees to scope out the area…too cute.

After lunch, we all sat outside and let the two boys into the kiddie pool.

Cheap and quality fun.

They had a blast! Just splashing around and getting lots of attention. And since it was almost 90 degrees, we tried to stay in the shade for everyone’s sake.

Just a boy and his dog.

All around, a nice Sunday. It might be interesting when the nephews get older but this year was cute and low key.

Did you do anything special today? Easter-related or otherwise? I’m off to Skype and get ready for the week. It’s coming whether I like it or not 🙂

Like butta

OK, it’s not like butta, it is butta baby! After reading that you can make butter at home on Design*Sponge, I have been wanting to try it for myself. When heavy cream made it on my grocery list for the lasagna rolls, I had my chance.

Once I was finished with painting for today, I broke out the cream and the instructions. I’m making treats for Easter tomorrow and needed some butter! I started with three simple ingredients: heavy cream, glass marbles and a glass jar.

The ingredients.

The directions said to use one glass marble but since mine were so small, I added a couple more figuring it couldn’t hurt.

Step one: Put marble(s) in jar.

Step two: Pour in the cream.

I used the whole pint (minus the quarter cup used in the lasagna).

Step three: Put on the lid and start the clock.

As you can see, I started at 4:54 p.m. and was fairly suspicious (also I was in my painting scrubs so try to ignore my attire). Then you just shake the jar until it magically turns into butter.

Step four: Shake the ever-loving goodness out of the jar for as long as it takes.

Clearly, jar shaking is an extremely flattering and easy job. The instructions I read didn’t give a time but I had heard that old-timey churns took hours so I had no idea how long I was going to last.

By this time, it was getting really difficult and tiring (ed. note–maybe don’t do this after two days of painting), so I opened the cap to check out my progress. This is what I saw:

Whipped top(ping), get it? 🙂

I couldn’t believe it; it looked like a solid.

Step five: Shout with delight, "Holy crap, it works!"

And, in just eight minutes! Truthfully, it might’ve been done sooner and I just didn’t realize it. I really was committed to half an hour or so. I’m SO glad that wasn’t the case.

All of a sudden it is butter.

The next part threw me since it looked like it was reversing.  You can see in the picture above how much room it takes in the jar. Then it turned to this:

Getting settled.

I thought I did something wrong, but after going back to the directions, I realized it was just settling. It was time to head to the kitchen and strain out the settled milk–buttermilk.

Step six: Strain out the milk.

I know the name says so, but I never thought before about how buttermilk was made. I put a mini strainer over a piece of Tupperware.

Straining set-up.

All the milk, and there was quite a bit, was caught in the Tupperware.

Once all the milk was strained out, I poured it back in the jar.

Once the milk was out of the Tupperware container, I plopped the butter out of the strainer into it. As I was flattening it out to get the last of the milk, I hit something hard:

Whoops! Almost forgot those were in there.

Ha! So, I dug out the marbles to live to shake another day.

Step seven: Enjoy your own homemade butter!

By 5:30 p.m. I had one cup of buttermilk, one cup of butter and a fun experience. I made blueberry muffins and can’t wait to have them with my butter for breakfast. I’ve heard you can add anything from lavender to honey to cinnamon. There will be a butter making round two.

Hope you enjoyed your Saturday! Did you try anything new? Has anyone else tried butter, or other homemade staples?