Making my Home: A checklist

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Have you ever thought about the influence you have over your home? How your actions, reactions, words and gestures reflect to the back of the minds of your little ones, your significant other, and your visiting friends?

There is an atmosphere about your house. There is an aura that makes your house a home, and you play a large role in creating that home.

Everything that you do and say either builds up or tears down your house. So, it is vitally important to take inventory of how you are making your home.

Building it up…

-Am I using encouraging words?

-Am I keeping the house organized to meet my family’s needs?

-Am I really listening when others speak?

Tearing it down…

-Am I scrambling to find a dinner recipe at 5pm and creating a stressful environment?

-Am I complaining incessantly and causing strife?

-Am I not making quiet time for myself to feel refreshed and centered?

There are so many considerations, and I can probably put a million reasons under “Tearing it down”, but let’s start with five maximum.

Then, choose one Build it up to expand upon, and one Tear it down to improve upon.

Your home is already looking better :)

Download here: Making my home

Men’s Shirt to Skirt

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I’ve seen tutorials on Pinterest for awhile now about how to convert a men’s button-down shirt into a skirt… and finally decided to try it! Mike had a shirt that didn’t fit quite right, so I used this (incredibly vague) tutorial and pretty much winged it. IMG_4437   For the most part, I like how it turned out! I’d love to try it with a patterned shirt next. IMG_4421 IMG_4426   Although it’s definitely not perfect (and for sure a little wrinkly… ;) ), the color is great and it works for a first “free-handed” try at making a skirt out of a men’s shirt. IMG_4440   I’m convinced that I like this style enough, so maybe the next try will be another Thrift Store Clothing Makeover!

All-natural mosquito barrier

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 2.23.16 PMWe kind of have a lot of mosquitoes at our house. Like, a lot.

That being said, my mom told me that she heard on the news that you could call a lawncare company and have them spray for mosquitoes – the story said it’s about $60 for the whole summer. I was toooootally fine spending that money to get rid of these nasty ‘squitoes.

Buuuuut then I called and it was $200 for application #1, which would last for 3 weeks, and another $100-$150 for every application after that! This is calling various companies, mind you. Um, no thank you.

One website mentioned an all-natural, chemical free, garlic-based mosquito barrier, which intrigued me. It was pricey for them to do it, but at that point I kind of asked, “Isn’t this something I could make myself?”

The answer was YES! And it wasn’t even expensive! And it was super effective for three weeks!

Ingredients

Click the links for each to see where I purchased each essential oil. I’m sure others work just as well ;).

We also bought this sprayer for $10 to spray the yard (bushes, underneath trees, brush in the back, perimeter) – you just mix all of the ingredients right in there.

We barely saw any mosquitoes in our yard for those three weeks!!!! It was SUPER easy to make. We highly recommend it :)

Life Lately [ August ]

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Life lately.

Life lately is much better for energy levels, happiness, and enjoying life. Not just from the cooler, pleasant summer weather we have been experiencing. Recently, I started (a very mild dose of) thyroid medication and it has made a world of difference. I thought that my exhaustion and slightly raised emotions (Mike is probably laughing at that line) were just as a results of having a baby… then having a toddler… even though he sleeps extremely well and lights up my life. Well, it turns out that having even slightly abnormal thyroid values can really significantly alter mood and energy levels. I am so, so, so thankful for levothyroxine. I really do feel more like my outgoing, energetic, loves-people self.

I am loving being able to work from home in a job that uses my degree on software that will be used in clinical trials to help people who need new medication and medical devices. I am so blessed, and without an explanation for why I am so blessed. I question it a lot, and I still don’t know – but I do know that I am constantly thankful and constantly in love with a God who loves me.

Life lately is back to baking. Back to creating and photographing. Back to writing training documents for work, blogging for another software company, and trying to sustain a desire to learn more about graphic design.

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Life lately is holding hands, trying my hand at yoga, and cleaning little handprints off of doors (and windows and appliances and furniture and…). It is Caleb transitioning from two naps to one nap per day, repeating tons of words and noises that he hears throughout the day, and following his dad around like a shadow.

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Life lately is home improvements (and a lot of praise for a handy husband), a little boy who laughs his head off when he burps, a dog who barks and barks at the outdoor cats walking down our street, creating new friendships, and rolling my eyes at all of the yard work there is to do.

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Life lately is beautiful, and I don’t think I’d change a thing.

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Cauliflower Rice and Beans

Cauliflower rice is something that we have tried once or twice before and been okay with (cauliflower doesn’t taste like much), but not overwhelmingly excited about.

This blog post details the basics of making cauliflower rice and three ways to make it. I definitely agree with her methods.

1. Cut cauliflower into small florets.

2. Put cauliflower into food processor and chop into small, rice-sized bits.

3. Cook on the stovetop with a little oil.

The first two steps you can do ahead of time, and cook the rice as necessary through the week.

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Have you ever had Caribbean rice and beans? They are so good. This is a much, much simpler version of the traditional rice and beans, but with the same flavor palette. We definitely loved this version of cauliflower rice. Cooking it on the stovetop keeps some of the crunchiness of the cauliflower, which we definitely enjoyed over a steamed, mushier rice.

Cauliflower Rice and Beans

Serves 8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped finely into rice
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp cumin

Instructions:

  1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. When oil is liquid and hot, add cauliflower. Cook for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add black beans and cumin. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until entirely heated through.

Summer CSA Vegetable Curry Stir Fry

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Kohlrabi. Again.

I thought it was a little difficult to use the kohlrabi from the past weeks of the CSA, but look at the one from this week!!! It is literally as big as my face!!!

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I came across this curry recipe on Pinterest and thought it looked interesting for using up my two massive bags of peas from this week’s CSA. Of course, I didn’t have potatoes or coconut milk, so I went down my own little path to create a stir fry that had the curry flavors.

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It actually turned out really well! Perfect for a summer evening. And for using up a lot of CSA vegetables.

Also, I know my food photography needs tons of improvement, but between work, watching Caleb, and home improvements, I just haven’t found the time. Sorry for any eyesores. But at least now you can use that kohlrabi ;)

Ingredients:

1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 cup green onion tops, diced

1 cup peas, de-shelled

1 small kohlrabi (or 1/4 of your kohlrabi if it’s the size of your face), peeled and diced

1/2 small head broccoli, chopped

1 small hot pepper

1 chicken breast, diced

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp brown sugar

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup 2% milk (could also use whole milk or heavy cream)

2 cups rice, cooked in chicken broth instead of water

Instructions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in wok until liquid, then add onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add peas, kohlrabi, broccoli, and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Push vegetables to outside of pan and place diced chicken in the center of the wok. Cook until chicken is almost done, about 6 minutes. Stir pan so that the chicken is dispersed throughout the vegetables.
  4. Add fish sauce, cardamom, salt, ginger, curry powder, and brown sugar. Stir contents of pan well to coat all vegetables and meat with spices.
  5. Add chicken broth and milk. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until most liquid is absorbed.
  6. Serve over cooked rice – the best flavor comes from rice boiled in chicken broth instead of water.

Note: You can use TONS of different vegetables in this recipe. I planned on adding squash, but it turns out that I didn’t get to it in time from last week’s CSA (R.I.P., squash). Have fun using whatever comes in your CSA! :)

Thrift Store Clothing Revamp: Floral Dress

Before and after

Thrift store clothing revamp: Take 2. (See Take 1 here).

Floral Dress Before

This revamp was much easier than trying to manipulate a romper. This dress had some great lines sewn in that made perfect points at which to take the dress in!

Before and after

 

Step 1: Remove shoulder pads.

Step 2: Hem lining now too long from taking out shoulder pads.

Step 3: Dye the bottom of the dress with a pink & orange combination.

Step 4: Take the dress in. Try on. Repeat until the correct size is reached.

Step 5: Sew button back onto the back.

Before and after 2

Also, I apparently did get a little bit of a tan so far this summer. (Evidence: ghostly skin on left, pathetically tan skin on right).

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The back is SO cute. And normally the zipper isn’t sticking out, but whatever. I’d go for better pictures, but I’m normally doing this while trying to bribe Mike to take pictures and keep the baby out of trouble.

I kind of love the old ladyish print. I’m cool with it if you are.

Simple Potatoes and Kohlrabi

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^ Eyesore.
^ Eyesore.

 

Kohlrabi. Probably one of the weirdest CSA vegetables I have received to date. The “German turnip” can either be green or purple, and is quite the eyesore. It also isn’t that popular online, even on Pinterest. Sorry, reject of the vegetable world.

As I was recipe searching, I came across a lot of kohlrabi slaw – like cole slaw, but with kohlrabi. Buuuut I wanted to try something a little different (seeing as cole slaw is most definitely not my favorite), so I turned to my German friend and asked her how to cook it. According to her mother, steamed with butter +  salt, and served with potatoes, is the way to go. And let’s be honest, why turn away butter and salt?

IMG_4032So, I diced up five small assorted potatoes from Trader Joe’s and half of the kohlrabi and stuck ‘em in the steamer.

IMG_4035With some butter, salt, and herbs, this side dish was really good! Caleb particularly loved the kohlrabi, and Mike thought that the flavor blended in really well with the potatoes.  Sometimes simple is the way to go when trying new vegetables :)

Simple Potatoes and Kohlrabi

Time spent: 25 minutes

Hand-on time: 5 minutes

Serves: 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • half of a kohlrabi, peeled and cut lengthwise in 1/2″ strips
  • five small assorted potatoes, cut lengthwise in 1/2″ strips
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • chopped chives and parsley for serving.

Directions:

  1. Place potatoes and kohlrabi in steamer and steam for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Place in a bowl and mix in 1 tbsp butter, 1/4 tsp salt, chives, and parsley.

*If you don’t have a steamer, I think boiling these would work out just fine :)

 

 

 

Kale, Sweet Potato, and Roasted Chicken Soup

This year is our second year participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) distribution, and we LOVE it. Cheap price, local (and organic!) produce… you can’t go wrong! This year, we chose G&S Orchards, and we love it so far.

Normally at the start of the CSA season, leafy greens make up a really large portion of the CSA produce. Since I am not an avid salad-eater like my mother (hi, mom!), I need to find some other ways to use up these leafy greens. I can handle a salad or two, but let’s just be honest and say I can’t eat four bunches of greens in salads all week. Luckily, three bunches a week (for the past two weeks) have been various forms of kale. And there is lots to do with kale :)

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Take this soup for example: it’s delicious. And perfect for a rainy day. And it has KALE.

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Kale, Sweet Potato, and Roasted Chicken Soup

Total time: 40 minutes

Hands-on time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6 entree-sized, large bowls of soup

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted chicken (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 14-oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I made my own using the rotisserie chicken bones and some fresh herbs)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
  • 4 cups chopped kale (I used purple kale and green kale)
  • 1 cup cooked rice

Directions:

  1. Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat and add onion, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Cook for three minutes.
  2. Add sweet potatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken, coconut milk, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Cook for another 5 minutes – it should come to a boil.
  4. Add chicken broth, zucchini, jalapeno, kale, and cooked rice. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until kale is wilted.