Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DIY Matching Bedroom Set

I am going to get a little bit crafty in today's post. One of my favorite things to do is work on my house, making it look cute and homey without breaking the bank.

When Cory and I got married we did not want to get into debt or spend any money unnecessarily. Therefore every piece of furniture that makes up our cozy little home consists of hand-me-downs (with the exception of two items that I purchased at garage sales within the last few years).

I have strived to let my creativity mask the mismatched pieces to make a complete ensemble. In some cases I have done better than others. In others I don’t even know where to begin.

My parents let me have these two old… though rather homely… dressers. The drawers worked wonderfully. I was thrilled that they matched at, if nothing else in my bedroom or house. Cory had these old nightstands that were a terrible brownish color with the tops was peeling off.

My bedroom looked like a genocide of color. 

And so I decided to paint everything in my room to make it match. I bought a gallon of this beautiful burgundy paint that matched my bedspread. I got new handles for the nightstands that would better match the style and color of the handles on my dressers and I sanded the tops.

In addition to the pieces of furniture, the dresser had a big mirror unattached and I bought an ugly gold frame to accommodate our recent photos.

This was one of the funnest projects because I was so happy with the outcome. I even painted a small accent wall in the same color to tie everything together.

I still have a few ideas that I want to work with... but this was a good start. 

This is all I needed to completely change the look and feel of my bedroom:

1 gallon of Paint - $22.00
Painting accessories - $10.00
New handles for nightstands - $8.00
Ugly gold frame from Marshalls - $10.00

So for a grand total of $50.00 and a couple days of my time, my room actually looks put together. I have a complete set of matching furniture.

How about you? Do you have any creative ideas or visions for your home? You don't have to spend a lot of money to make your home cute. Start with one room at a time.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Idea For Which I Can Live and Die

Because I wanted to take part in “Inspirational Monday” over at Happy Medley, I decided to share one of the most profound quotes I have ever read (though I cut a chunk out because I don’t want to overwhelm those who have not already discovered a love for philosophy).

When I was taking my first philosophy class in college I developed a love for Kierkegaard. I still remember when I first read these words… I felt life pumping through me because I felt exactly this way but I just struggled to find the words.

“What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except insofar as a certain understanding must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die…What good would it do me to be able to explain the meaning of Christianity if it had no deeper significance for me and for my life; - what good would it do me if truth stood before me, cold and naked, not caring whether I recognized her or not, and producing in me a shudder of fear rather than a trusting devotion? I certainly do not deny that I still recognize an imperative of understanding and that through it one can work upon men, but it must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognize as the most important thing.”
- Soren Kierkegaard

It was a long time ago that I read this quote for the first time. The words still resonate in my spirit in a way which is difficult to explain.

It was in 1835 that this great philosopher penned these words upon the page. The world has changed vastly since then, yet I feel the same way. It is nothing to merely know the truth and do nothing about it. It is nothing to proclaim to others that you are a Christian without allowing those principles to take root in your life.

Therefore this quote is acting like a catalyst within me, encouraging me to think and write down those ideas. Very often they will be the silly musings of a young girl, but sometimes I hope I will touch on points which will resonate in another’s soul like this quote has within me. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Butternut Squash Five VERY Different Ways

Once fall hits the homemaker in me is amplified by like a zillion. I want to cook, and bake, and try a bunch of fun recipes. Perhaps it is the Christmas lover inside of me trying to prepare for the excessive eating that comes with the wonderful holiday season… looking forward to that for sure. Let’s not use the dirty word “gluttony”… rather an appreciation for culinary achievements. Sounds way better. 

Anyway, today I am linking up with The Good Life Blog and I decided to talk all about one of my favorite things – food! I enjoy cooking in season and I love, love butternut squash. So all week I have been up to my elbows in the stuff. It was pretty fun trying all of these oh so different recipes. 

Here we go. Butternut squash five different ways!

1. Twice Baked Butternut Squash
So I found a recipe for twice baked butternut squash months ago and I thought it sounded delicious. When I finally got around to actually making it today I decided there was room for improvement. So I took away some ingredients and added some. I changed all the spices... I pretty much made it a different recipe. Yes, I have actually become one of those people. Who would have thought.

I added butter and cream. The two things that make everything delicious. I guess I got that from my husband. Whenever he cooks for me those are the two top ingredients on the list. His cooking could put cellulite on supermodels.

Anyway, this was seriously a yummy invention!

Butternut squash
1 T sour cream
3 T butter
3 T heavy cream
1 tsp chives
1/2 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp cayenne
Bread crumbs (as many as you like, toasted in a skillet with butter... yum)

This is super easy. You just bake the squash until it is soft enough to pierce with a fork. Then dig out the insides so that you still have enough shell to maintain the shape of the squash. Put all of the ingredients together except the bread (you could add cheese too. I didn't think of it. But now I think it would be delicious).

Since I don't like the stringy texture of squash that much, I threw everything in my vitamix for a few minutes. It came out so creamy and smooth. Then you just scoop the yummy filling into the shell and throw the breadcrumbs on top. Easy, yummy, and gourmet looking. You really can't beat that!

Bake at 450 for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Enjoy!

 2. Butternut Bisque

This is seriously one of my favorite recipes! It has such a wonderful flavor. You can make a huge batch of it and it freezes great. I like to add a little extra cayenne to give it a kick. 

·  3 tablespoons butter
·  1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
·  2 garlic cloves, sliced
·  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
·  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·  1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper plus more for garnish (optional)
·  Coarse salt
·  1 large butternut squash (about 4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
·  1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
·  1 cup half-and-half
·  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Since it is late and my hubby is already sleeping (therefore I am not going to type everything out) go here for all of the details on how to make this delicious bisque.

 3. Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas
I happened upon this recipe in my meal planning app on my phone. It is a great autumn back up meal and really tasty. It has more cans than I usually cook with but if you make your own black beans then that eliminates one :) The adobo soaked peppers have such a a great flavor and carry a really nice kick. If you like spicy, cheesy, deliciousness, then you will like this!

1 (pound) 1 (pound) butternut squash, cubed
2 (tablespoon) 2 (tablespoon) olive oil
8 (whole) corn tortillas, sliced in half
1-2 (whole) chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, chopped 
1 (15.0 ounce can) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (10.0 ounce can) diced tomatoes with green chilis, in liquid
1 (cup) 1 (cup) monterey jack cheese

Click here for the step by step instructions and enjoy!

4. Butternut Squash Breakfast Smoothie
Did you know that butternut squash is insanely good for you? It is packed full of vitamins and fiber... especially when it is raw. So to avoid munching on a raw hunk of squash I made a super tasty breakfast smoothie. Don't be freaked out by the slightly greenish color... it is just from spinach.

1 wedge of butternut squash (this is about a quarter of one side of the squash)
1 apple
1/2 banana
Handful of spinach
1/2 frozen peach
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Just throw it all in the blender and enjoy your nutritious and delicious breakfast.

 5. Butternut Squash Pudding
Can I just say yummmm. This pudding is so amazing. It is like caramel, butterscotch heaven in your mouth. And it is so easy and fun. You need to make this. You will think it is a truly wonderful invention and experience.

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup roasted butternut squash purée
2 cups half and half
pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Click here for the instructions on how to make this delightful concoction.You will not regret it!

Happy cooking this weekend!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

(kinda) Wordless Wednesday - Disney!

Those who know me, know that I am a Disney lover. Disney movies and Disneyland are some of my favorite things. I have had a Disneyland Pass for twelve years consecutively... Frivolous you may think. But I think it is an investment in family, laughter, happiness, and memories. How could you pass that up?

I happened upon a blog called Focused on the Magic, in which all of the posts and prompts are Disney themed. How fun is that? Today they have a link up called "Wordless Wednesday" and the prompt is "Disney Inspired letter 'P'". Since this was a spontaneous link up I just went through all of my photos from Disneyland this year and came up with a few important "P's". Peter Pan and Princess.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lamentations of an English Major

Today I took a little drive down to one of my old stomping grounds... the campus in which I passed my first two years of college. Six Years ago now. That is ridiculous. Am I really that old? 

I was driving with my brother and we were discussing writing and ideas. Mentioning that I didn’t know what I was going to write about today he told me, “write about us and how awesome we are and how I am more awesome than you” (that is verbatim by the way). The nerve of him.

I am not going to sit here and write about how awesome we are (though we do have our moments). 

Our trip today brought to my remembrance those wonderful days in college. The professor gives you an assignment and you have no idea how you are going to do it or what you are going to write about… and yet somehow when the day comes you do it. Creativity born of necessity. Why can’t I just conjure that up at any given moment?

All through college I was asked if I wanted to be a teacher. No I didn’t. English just made sense for me. I wanted to read and write all the time.

I chose to major in English because I felt like I had inspiration just welling up inside of me constantly. I was inspired by songs, books, movies, quotes, nature, even moments. Overcome by this sensation, I would sit at the computer for hours, agonizing over all of the wonderful things I had to say but couldn’t find the words.

Not much has changed. I still agonize over the ideas. I still feel that inspiration struggling to find its way to the page. 

Only now the professor isn’t directing me.  I may not be given an assignment from an external source, but internally I am going to continue to struggle with the inspiration until it can no longer be contained inside me. 

How about you? What are you inspired to do?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Three Points to Being an Awesome Parent

Happy Monday everyone! I hope your weekend was as wonderful as mine... filled with church, family, laughter, and food :)

For those of you who read What I Have to Say About Parenting, here we go with all of my brilliant (and perhaps some not so brilliant) insights into the subject. It was so much harder than I thought to narrow everything I have to say into a blog post.... so here is part one.

1.Be Real

One of the most invaluable things in parenting is an ability to ‘be real’ as I call it. So many parents don’t even realize it but they operate on the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ principal. This is probably one of the most detrimental concepts that ever had the audacity to present itself in the home.

Be the example you proclaim. Hypocritical parents can turn their kids off to them, the family, and God. What are they going to think of you if they hear you professing what you believe, and instructing others how to act, if they see your “other side” at home? If you profess to be a Godly man or woman, then you surely need to show them that at home. Do your kids ever see you reading the bible? Do you implement the necessary elements of Christian living into your daily life? Because trust me, your kids are watching you. It is you they are learning from.

Starting from a very young age, children are looking to their parents to be examples of everything that they are told is right. This doesn’t mean that the parents will never make mistakes. But that is one of the most important parts of the ‘be real’ concept. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, even parents. But as a parent you should not avoid it or pretend like nothing happened. You have to confront the issue at hand so that you do not present confusion for your children. 

2.Open Lines of Communication

In my humble opinion, when going through the tough teenage years this is the most important element of parenting. Oftentimes parents don’t want to know and so they purposely look the other way. This is a critical mistake!

Kids need to know that you will listen without judging and encourage without condemnation. Don’t be afraid to talk about stuff, anything, and EVERYTHING. Most people would probably be shocked at the easy way all of us kids can talk about unmentionable things with our parents. But it is because of this, because we always knew we could talk to them, that we did not feel the need to go find the numerous dirty things in the world for ourselves.

Make it a point to ask your kids how they are doing, how things are going. Listen to each one as individuals and deal with them according to learning capabilities and reasoning. Discuss ideas, dreams, and plans. And listen, I mean truly listen, to your children. If you listen to what they have to say, they will go to you when they want someone to talk to. They will ask you for advice.
3.Find Your Disneyland

My dad claims that having fun is the third most important thing that he could have taught us. I mean, truly to enjoy life and live like you are doing it on purpose.

In our family we refer to Disneyland as our ‘happy place’. Find something that you all enjoy doing together as a family and do it often.

My parents made it so wonderful for all of us to be together as a family that we had no desire to look for fun anywhere else. Our friends became part of our family fun as opposed to us searching outside the home for a good time. They showed us the beauty of good, clean fun, which bonded all of us together.

It is really quite simple, you be the one to show your kids how wonderful life really is.

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