Thursday, June 30, 2016

How Will I Age?

I have forever been a people watcher. 
I love to be in crowds or in cities so that I can just watch people.
Actions, reactions, expressions, interactions.

One of the reasons that I practice Thankful Thursday
is that I want to make thanksgiving a habit.

I have watched people age in 2 ways:
Some become grumbling and complaining and are not a joy to be around.
They practice an entitlement mindset.
Some are thankful and focused on others and are an encouragement at every turn.
They practice the mind of a servant.

I would like to be the second.
I want to be thankful for each thing God has given.
I want to be thankful for each food on the table - even if it is not my favorite.
I want to be thankful for the efforts of those who are carrying the load that I no longer can carry.
I want to be grateful for each day of health and strength - even if it includes aches and pains.

So I practice Thankful Thursday.
Today I am thankful for the ability to walk, to move freely.
I am thankful for the small town I frequent most mornings on my walk.
I am thankful for the strength that I have increased over the years.
I am thankful for the ability to keep learning about the mechanics of my body so as to keep it working well.

How will you age?
Will you practice thanksgiving with me?
Will you remind me when I forget?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Books in Style

This weekend did afford some time to put together the new bookshelf for hubby's "office."
The former bookshelf was left from my early teaching days in FL.

It had moved from FL to NY to NY to NY to NY to WA to NC.
The laminated pressboard and cardboard back were really not meant for so many moves,
but it served well in each location.
Hubby was eager to have a bookshelf that matched my desk,
so we put it together.
Love the metal and the dark wood and the more open look.

Monday, June 27, 2016

All Purpose Greek Marinade

One of our favorite summer meals is a grilled chicken and veggie salad.
It is quick, easy, and satisfying.
Goodbye expensive restaurant salad - hello DIY.

All Purpose Greek Marinade and Dressing

1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c lemon juice
2 minced garlic cloves
1 TBSP oregano
1 TBSP thyme
1 TBSP basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients in jar and shake.
Pour over meat and/or veggies.
I use chicken, peppers, onions, zucchini.

To make into a homemade vinaigrette:

Take 1/3 c marinade, add 2 TBSP Dijon mustard and 1/3 c olive oil.
Shake well.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Change of Temperature

Typically, my Thankful Thursday entries are the small day-to-day blessings around me.
Today, is a larger blessing.

12 years ago, God gave us a beautiful car.
It was brand new and afforded us 3 years to not worry about major problems while hubby was out to sea.
The car was priced amazingly low.
It was a simple car - 5 speed, no a/c. am-fm cassette.
Just the base model.

The lack of AC was not a problem in NY, it was definitely not a problem in Seattle.
We moved to NC and the lack of AC was a little more unpleasant,
it was only for 4 years, right?
Well, 4 years have turned into 8.

Last Wednesday,
we began looking for a new car.
I emailed a few dealership 
and found one that listened to my requests
and offered a good, even great, price.
We did not have to haggle or go back and forth.

So today, 
I am thankful for my new car.
I am thankful for the good price.
I am thankful for the car dealer who listened and arranged everything online.
I am thankful for a car with air conditioning.
I am thankful that our old car sold at a fair price.
I am thankful that we could sell it to a student in the trailer park.
I am thankful that it sold in only 2 days
(this was a blessing since it was a 5 speed and had no a/c).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just Listening (to Myself)

Hubby and I have been doing a lot of simplifying, revamping, rescheduling, evaluation.
You have seen the pictures of home remodeling - 
trying to breed efficiency in our space and a spirit of peace.
One of our goals was to make an open space where we could work out together.
That involved paring down and using space wisely.

One of the things that we are constantly evaluating is our workouts.
We both like to push hard - we like consistency.
We like to follow a plan and to not be distracted from it.
Our usual workout time is 4:45 am.

In our evaluation,
we are trying to learn to listen to our bodies.
Sometimes we just need rest.
Sometimes we want to be lazy and need to work harder.
Sometimes we need a break.
Sometimes  we need the consistency of the scheduled workouts.
Sometimes we need to ignore the scheduled exercise.

We are trying to listen.
We are trying to value quality over quantity.

Are you pushing too hard today?
Are you asking too much of yourself?
Or do you need to do more?

Be a fair critic and listen to yourself.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Next Project

The next project is in the wings ...
in fact, it was started today.

The project is to replace a bookcase that I have had since my early working days ...
after almost 20 years, it is time to update.
It was not a high quality bookcase ...
press board,
laminate coating,
cardboard back.

hubby cut the angle iron today,
he cut the wood today,
and for the next couple of days,
I will be staining, polying, and polishing.

We will have a bookcase to match my new little desk :)
The bookcase is part of hubby's office space and it should be a nice upgrade.

Pre-Tuesday Transformation

Monday, June 20, 2016

Kitchen "Must-haves"

OK - so I suppose that they are not "must-haves,"
but they do make my life easier.
I love the bright colors - so much fun!

The first are silicone ice cube trays in two sizes.
I use the small for my almond butter fudge.
Easy single portion.
I use the larger size for the Pineapple Freeze.
Again.  Easy portion control.
No thawing, cutting, and refreezing!

The second tool is a tomato corer.
It works to take the stem out with no waste.
I also use this when making the stuffed strawberries.
It makes a nice area to stuff without cutting open the whole strawberry.

I almost forgot this one:
the avocado tool.
It has one size to slice,
the tool in the middle to get the pit out (just place on pit and twist),
the other side to scoop and slice at the same time.
I didn't have much confidence when I received it at a "white elephant" exchange ...
but it really works!
We use avocado sliced with eggs for breakfast,
as guacamole for a snack or mexican side dish,
and have been using it to make pudding recently :)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

AAHH! Thursdays!

On this Thankful Thursday,
I am thankful for Thursdays.
I am thankful for Thursdays because the alarm is set for 1 hour later in the morning.
I do not think that we get an extra hour of sleep because of Prayer meeting on Wed. night,
but there is something about waking at 5:30 vs 4:30 that just lets the heart sing.

Do you have a restful morning each week?
I hope you have some time to refresh and relax.

I am also thankful for 2 nephews and 1 niece who are holding me accountable ...
for my physical health through exercise
and my spiritual health through daily time with God.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Teaching Work Ethic

One of my pet-peeves is a "fear" of work.
It shows itself in many ways ...
it could be always looking for the easy way out,
it could be looking for ways to simplify any task,
it could be "cutting corners,"
it could be a disappearance when it is time to work.

I am thankful for my parents and teachers who instilled a work ethic in me.
We (my siblings and I) all took turns mowing ... with a push mower.
I still enjoy the effort today.
My parents made me finish textbooks ... even when my teachers were going to cut it short.
My teachers made me do timed drills and whole pages of tedious exercises.
My music teachers made me count out loud and "try" to memorize.

Does work ethic seem lost to you?
Do you run into a lack of it more often than you used to?
Do you work with children - your own or someone else's?
The "hard" way should not always be something to be avoided.
Are you in the process of growing up?
Practice a good work ethic in your school studies, your home chores, etc. ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Finishing Details

With the new desk and stool,
I realized that my burgundy throw pillows were no longer a good accent.

On this hot almost-summer day throw pillows were a good inside job.
The center pillow matches the stool fabric.

I also picked up the paint for my desk baskets.
I prefer the darker look.

A Place to Work

Hubby finally had a whole Saturday off -
no church responsibilities,
no work,
no weddings,
no college vehicles to fix,
you get the idea. ...

And now I have a new desk and stool.
I am one happy wife!

Since leaving WA in 2008,
my workplace has been a rolling printer cart.
I pulled it up to the couch, I rolled it to other rooms,
it was convenient, but not aesthetically pleasing in the living room.

When we began revamping the living room early this year,
I vowed to make a change - A real desk!
I tried this little entry table for a few months and found that I could actually make it work.

I googled, I pinterested, I scoured idea sites.
The problem was many desks were too large.
The other problem was the price.
But I eventually landed on some simple pieces that hubby could make with minimal tools.

Here are my inspirations:

Plans here
Available here:  only $1000
It is larger and uses thicker wood then mine, but really $1000!
And here are hubby's adaptations:

More work space - more storage space (and hidden from view)
A comfy stool to sit on which also adds additional seating in the living room or at the dining room table.
I wish that I were neat enough not to need the basket drawers ... but :)
I do plan to paint the baskets a different color -
either dark wood brown or a color from the seat cushion.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Punch

Ever need a little change?  Host a party and want a special drink?
At our Memorial Day party, we tried this punch.
One attendee called it a knock off of a Sonic Strawberry lemonade.
If you swapped the ginger ale for 7-up it would be an almost perfect swap.
We are enjoying an occasional swap up for the pure water while going through
the summer heat this weekend.

Summertime Strawberry Punch

1 can (12 oz) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 package 20 oz frozen strawberries, partially thawed
1/4 c sugar (I omitted this)
2 c strong tea
2 liters ginger ale

In food processor or blender, combine lemonade concentrate, strawberries, (and sugar if desired).
Transfer to large pitcher or bowl; stir in tea.  
Add ginger ale and ice cubes.

Shortly after making the above,
I found another less sweet version for a treat at home.
I took it to work for a midday treat last week for hubby.
Hubby in turn made it for me on Saturday night while we relaxed in the yard.

Strawberry -Mint Sparklers

1/2 lb strawberries
2 stems of mint leaves 
3 TBSP honey
2 Tbsp lime juice
Ice Cubes
2 cans plain seltzer

Combine strawberries, mint, and honey in food processor or blender.
Stir in lime juice.
Fill 2 tall glasses with ice, divide strawberry mix, pour in seltzer.
AAHH!  Refreshing!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Forum: Summer Meals

Question of the Week:

What is your favorite, go-to summer meal?

The grill gets the majority of our summer cooking.
One of our favorites is a Grilled Mediterranean Chicken and Veggies.
Once grilled, we throw it on a bed of greens with feta, olives, tomato - greek type veggies.

We also do one pot sautes with rice.

It is the start of zucchini season here ... so plenty of "zoodles" on the way as well.

How about you?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Peonies, Petunias, and the Blue Rose

On this Thankful Thursday - 
I am thankful for the beautiful flowers all around me.

There is not much that excites me like a beautiful flower.
Each year for my birthday,
hubby and I go shopping for flowers to fill hanging baskets and entryway pots.
It is easy shopping for him and it makes the property look so cheery.

zinnias - the look of a Mexican fiesta
petunias and gerbera daisies
Love the yellow and white stripe!
During our Memorial Day picnic,
an older woman looked at me and asked if I wanted some peonies.
She had some that had just finished blooming and she wanted to share.
How could I say "no!"
On Wednesday, there were the bulbs.
They may still be in shock,
but I am hoping that they survive the transplant and are beautiful next year.

Still a little bedraggled - but hoping the peonies survive.
the blue rose.

When I went to leave my piano lessons two Thursdays ago,
one of the little ones was carrying around a large blue rose.
I asked him if it was for his girlfriend.
His mother said it was for his teacher.
Though I don't actually teach this little one,
while the school age children were picking out end of the year gifts for their teachers,
he wanted to pick one for his teacher.
And I was picked!
Just a little pick-me-up for me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Full-time or Part-time Work

It is not often that someone encourages me in my work.
It is not to say that it doesn't happen.
I have a very encouraging hubby and an encouraging family.

I was encouraged by an attender at our church at our Memorial Day picnic.
She is still fairly new in her attendance at our church,
so she asked if I worked out of the home.
My pessimistic self said "oh, here we go, the conversation killer."
"Yes, I am a home maker."

Her response stunned and encouraged.
Due to poor choices (her words), she works out of the home,
but she was thrilled for me.
She basically said, what I believe.
"Being a homemaker is a full-time job ... if you do it right."
Encouraging and convicting.
Sometimes I fall into "letting things slide."
But my work takes full-time effort and hours.
Early morning workouts,
post-workout smoothies,
lunches to pack,
breakfast to make,
house to straighten,
garden and yard to keep,
shopping to be done,
meals to plan and execute,
people to visit and encourage,
children's Bible lessons to plan.

Perhaps somedays you get discouraged in your work.
Remember it is full-time;
it is the most important work you can do for your family;
it is your high calling.

And if my friend is reading this ... Thank you again for your encouragement!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Farmhouse Industrial

My taste in decor has definitely been a work in progress.
I had the early teen years of pinks and purples.
I had a definitely Victorian phase - which you can still see at my parent's house.
I have had an eclectic hodgepodge - farm table, lodge decorations, traditional seating ...

I have finally "nailed" a look I love - they call it Farmhouse Industrial.
I boil it down to beautiful woods and metal.
Yes, I love the mixed mediums.
Remember the porch with ropes, 

the porch with metal,

the new dining set of "wood" and metal.

After cleaning out the living room space and paring down,
I was left with a small entry table for a desk.
It also boasted a 5 gallon bucket for a stool.

I was determined to not make a silly decision for my work space ...
and it had to be fairly small.
So I searched and searched to find a new desk.

What I learned was that I have expensive taste.
I also learned that desks are typically very large.
But, I did find some ideas that I loved and some that could be simplified
so that hubby could build me a perfect desk.

So here is the pile of wood and angle iron.

Hubby cut the pieces on Saturday.
I will be staining and poly-ing this week.
Hopefully on Saturday ...
I will have a new workstation :)
... and hopefully you will see it on the next Transformation Tuesday!

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Hit of the Party

I have been living life again - 
and sometimes it gets too busy to write.
But I am back,
and while sitting at the tire shop last week,
I made a plan of topics and things to write about.
So maybe there will be a consistent month here.

I share a "hit" from our Memorial Day picnic.
We hosted the church picnic and I made a few treats along with the hotdogs and sausages.
The concensus was that the strawberries needed to appear at the next church dinner.
So here they are - they really are good ...
and not too time consuming (especially with my resident piper's help).

Cheesecake-stuffed Strawberries

1 pound strawberries (approximately 10-12 large strawberries)
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a paring knife, slice the top off the strawberries,
then cut out the center portion.

In a small bowl add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
Use an electric mixer, or mix by hand, until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the cheesecake mixture to a piping bag, or use a small spoon to fill the berries. 

I made a double batch - and did not have to put any away!