Oct 25, 2012

Creating a Haven

My husband and I watch Go On together. The characters are kooky, the storyline is fun, and I don't feel like anyone is pushing an agenda. (The premise of the show is a radio sports announcer loses his wife and must go to a therapy group to cope.) A lot of the people in the support group use different coping techniques to deal with stress, anger, depression, or loss. One of the characters has an entire town in his mind that he can retreat into. While I think this is a little excessive, I think that creating an oasis is not a bad thing.  Do you have a mental and physical place that you can retreat, regroup, and recover? 

My haven is my home. In order to maintain this feeling I like to keep my home as organized and clean as possible. I love walking into my kitchen and seeing an empty sink. (Though this is often not the case.) I love being able to find the things I am looking for in a pinch. I love having a freshly made bed. But all of that takes maintenance. Surprisingly a lot less maintenance that one would think. A while back a stumbled upon the Fly Lady. Weird name but suprisingly effective website. She taught me the 15 minute rule.

Set a timer for 15 minutes. Do as much as you can in those 15 minutes. When the timer goes off stop and regroup. Sometimes that means setting a new timer and going on. Other times that means taking a short break to reward yourself.  There are 1440 minutes in one day. Using 15 of those is 1/96 of your day. I think I can give 1/96 of my day to create a better haven in my home. What about you? What can you accomplish?

Oct 18, 2012

Vegetable Adventures

I did not grow up a huge vegetable fan. It took years of home canned green beans to convert me to eating them willingly. (Thank you grandma!) I considered myself healthy because I ate corn, potatoes, and tomatoes willingly. (Yes someone has informed me that those are starches and fruits.)

It appears my lifelong avoidance of vegetables needed to be changed because I was sent to a foreign country and expected to eat what they ate. Anyone who has visited Japan knows that they love three things. Fish, vegetables, and rice. (No wonder they are all so skinny.)  I did not like fish or vegetables. But I knew that vegetables and rice were a lot easier for me to swallow.

I started trying new vegetables and I became converted. I fell in love with spinach, bell pepper, carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, peas, and brocoli. I only tolerated eggplant, asparagus, and artichokes. I became a veggie lover. Some of my family still can't believe it.


I'm still on the beginning end of this spectrum. I am learning how to eat vegetables. I generally like them cooked with some sort of seasoning. My husband is more hard core and can eat things raw. This last week I took a giant step in my vegetable preparation and consumption. I made pesto. Not only that, I ate it. I was so proud of myself.

I even added it to another recipe intended to increase my vegetable and fruit consumption. Delicious homemade tomato and red pepper soup. It is delicious! And it made a giant batch so I was able to free some to break out on a lazy day. Points! This soup is perfect with grilled cheese or with added whole grain pasta. I highly recommend you try it out. But be aware it is A LOT of work.

Oct 11, 2012

Chicken Taco Meat

I am a well intentioned blogger. That doesn't always mean I am a disciplined blogger. I have also discovered that if I take photos on my real camera, I am likely to leave said camera in the car. (For weeks on end.) Which means that my photos never get uploaded, which means you never get the recipes I promise. And so, I've decided you will just have to cope with less than stellar photos.

I learned this recipe from a good friend, who terrifies me in the kitchen. You know the kind, the one who can make something delicious out of anything? She used to own and run her own Mexican restaurant. She could probably go on Iron Chef and win. Me? I'm still trying to figure out spices. Being able to use them without measuring (and still have it turn out delicious) is way beyond me. So I'm sorry that I don't have precise measurements/times. When I asked her for more details she just gave me a funny look.

You need: a couple of chicken breasts, a diced onion, a diced bell pepper, a clove of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, water, and two pans.

First you bring the chicken breasts, 1/4 of a diced onion, salt, pepper, and water to a boil. Cook until the chicken looks cooked all the way through. Drain the water. Shred the chicken. (My favorite trick for shredding chicken is to throw the hot chicken into your mixer. It literally falls to pieces and it is super quick.)

In a seperate pan add the diced bell pepper, 1/2 diced onion, and a clove of garlic in some olive oil to brown. When everything looks and smells delicious add 28 oz. of canned tomatoes with 1/2 tsp. of oregano and a dash of salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a while then add the shredded chicken to the mix. Let everything simmer for a couple of minutes until the chicken soaks up all the flavor. Turn off the heat. Combine chicken meat with your favorite taco mixings and make lots of people's stomaches happy. (My favorite part of the meal.)

Do you still have that 1/4 of an onion left? Want to use it to make something to add to the meal? Heat up one can of rinsed black beans. Add the 1/4 of a diced onion and a clove of garlic. Simmer for a couple of minutes. When the onions looked cooked pour everything into a blender. Blend it all together for your own refried beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This chicken is easy to make, it freezes well, and is very versatile. You can use it in tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more. You will be super glad you tried it. I promise.

Oct 6, 2012


So a while back I was reading one of the deal sites that I follow when I heard of Viggle. At the time I didn't have cable so I pinned it to my finance board and continued to live my merry life.
Well after moving, unpacking, and getting settled in guess who got cable for the first time in over 5 years? That's right! Me! I'm not sure we will keep it once our six month trial runs up since Comcast is notorious for getting you to sign for a sweet deal and then hiking up the price. Until then I am enjoying the food network and being able to watch the Olympics was pretty sweet.

Back to Viggle. First off you have to love it because of it's name. It sounds like wiggle. Which makes me giggle. :) But then you fall in love with the fact that it is rewarding you for being a bum or if you are a little bit more productive than me, a multi-tasker. Basically the app rewards you for checking into shows on TV. So when I am watching Rachel Ray while folding the laundry I pull the app up on my phone and check in. At the end of the show I get Viggle points. 

Eventually those points add up to giftcards or coupons. It does take a long time if you only watch a couple of shows a week. (The points needed to redeem rewards keeps climbing as well.) But getting free giftcards for something you are already doing? I'm in. I am all over ways to creatively pad my budget.

As far as I know you can use it with DVR too. Which I think is fantastic. If you check the app daily there are certain shows you can watch to earn bonuses. Sometimes these are actually shows I watch, so it's a win win. Sometimes they have interactive trivia games you can play while watching a live event. When the Olympics were on Mr. WB and I both got a bunch of points for answering questions.

If you spend some time watching TV you might want to check this app out.

If you sign up using  one of the links I posted I get a couple of extra bonus points. Thank you in advance for your support.  

Oct 4, 2012

Quiet and Start Something That Matters

Recently I have been seriously contemplating my life. It all started when I read Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie. He is the creator of the shoe Toms. It is an amazing book! I highly recommend it.

As I read, I felt like something was missing in my life. I felt like I lacked his passion, drive, and determination. I used to feel that way about teaching, but right now I feel that I am waiting. Waiting for my baby to come, waiting for my life to change. I know nothing will be the same.

My contemplation continued last week as I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Those of you who know me in real life recognize that I am a pretty strong introvert, so reading this book was full of aha moments. Reading Quiet also reinforced some of the principles that I stumbled upon in Blake's book. Susan and Blake both discussed the need to discover what makes you passionate. I've been thinking about that for a while now.

My conclusion?

My passion is my family. I want to be a passionate mother and wife! I realize that a lot of people do not consider those very important endeavors in our modern day world. But I have always wanted to be a mother, a wife, and an educator. I love improving other people's lives. And who could be more important than my family?

In her book, Quiet, Susan discussed the need of honoring your own style and cultivating your own spaces. As a soon to be mother I have been reading and researching like crazy. My husband smiles as I read articles, books, and tips online. I stalk mommy Pinterest Boards. I ask a million questions. And I try to remember everything. (Which is really tough as a pregnant person.) But I know I need to remember this idea the most. I can be the type of mother I want to be. I don't need to copy anyone else.

Both books share the idea of pursuing an activity for it's own sake and not for a reward. Will I be making a ton of money or inspiring millions? No. But I will be changing the lives of my family and the lives of the people they touch. I want to find joy in that journey and live in the moments.

Susan also expressed the need for "deliberate practice," a quiet pursuit of new skills. That is going to be my life once my husband returns to work after paternity leave. I'm excited and scared. I have never been one who chases change and adventure. The only way to learn about motherhood is to try. I have a feeling the learning curve is going to be steep, but I can't wait.

Oct 3, 2012

Weekly Planner and Goals

I love lists and organization. I'm more than a little OCD. But I have a hard time finding the perfect planner for my life. Here are some of the options I have run across in my recent attempts at organizing my days.

Week at a Glance by Amy Bayliss

Daily Goals by I Heart Organizing

 Peek at the Week by I Heart Organizing

Daily To Do by Life Your Way

The Weekly Planner by The Peaceful Mom

The Daily Planner by The Peaceful Mom

The Weekly Goal Planner by The Peaceful Mom

Today I Shall by 20 Minute Mom

Daily Routine by Ever Changing Mom

I find that there are elements in each planner that I love. I love the style of one, the comprehensiveness of another, and the emphasis on the future in yet another. I decided that since I loved different parts of each planner I would stop and create one of my own. Please feel free to download your own copy or visit one of the lovely ladies listed above. 

For more great home organization printables visit here and here.