Simplify

Remember when I said 2013 is going to be the best year yet {well, not those words exactly}? Well, I feel like it truly has been.

I have taken deep looks into my life and changed things that have needed changing for so long. One of those changes is to “simplify”. I have had a sign in my kitchen that reads “simplify” for a few years now, but have never really thought about what that meant. To me, it means a lot. Internally, it means getting rid of things that take times away from the ones you love. One of my first acts of simplifying that I did this year was deleting my Facebook. Oh gosh, did THAT feel good!

Simplify

There are others ways to simplify, too. I figured, if I’m simplifying my life, I need my atmosphere to be simplified also. I am getting rid of tons of stuff in my home, from decorations to clothes.

Here is a link to my items for sale. Hope you like some of them and maybe even buy a few! {I will be adding more as the day goes by}

Enjoy!

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Basic Bread

This post kind of goes along with this one for the theme “simplicity”, which I am striving to incorporate into my daily life for 2013.

Anyways, I’m a fickle one – I don’t like to bake, I do like to bake… I’ve concluded that I do.

But only if it’s simple. Then I become a bread baking buffoon.

Like this.

Basic Bread

1 packet active yeast

1/2 C warm water

1/2 C milk

1 TSP salt

1 TBS sugar

1 TBS melted butter

3 C whole wheat flower

Non stick spray

Pour the yeast into a large bowl and add the water. Stir until yeast has dissolved. Whisk in milk, salt, sugar and melted butter. When all has been well-mixed, add 2 to 2 1/2 C of the flower, stirring well. If the dough still sticks to your hands, add more.

When the dough is at a desirable consistency {not sticky, but not dry}, knead for a few minutes and form into a ball. Let the ball sit in a bowl that has been sprayed with non stick oil and spray the top of the dough as well. Cover and set in a warm place for 45 minutes to one hour.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

When your dough has risen, spread it out in a 9X4 loaf pan. Cover and let sit in a warm place for an additional 20-30 minutes.

Your dough should have risen to almost the top of the loaf pan.

Let your dough bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then let cool and turn the pan upside down to release your freshly baked bread.

Basic Bread2

Enjoy!

Sorry

Sorry I have been pretty much M.I.A. for the past two weeks or so. I feel like I still haven’t been able to catch up on sleep since daylight savings {although grateful for more sunlight}, plus the boys are here {yay!} and I have been working on something that I will hopefully have up by the end of this week/beginning of next week.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos of the adventures we’ve been sharing with the boys!

AJ enjoying some McDonald's time.

AJ enjoying some McDonald’s time.

My St. Patrick's day fit. And new bangs.

My St. Patrick’s day fit. And new bangs.

I never thought McFlurry's could be pretty...

I never thought McFlurry’s could be pretty…

At the St. Patty's Day Parade in downtown Denver.

At the St. Patty’s Day Parade in downtown Denver.

Jacob, being a great brother, and covering AJ's ears when a semi honked by in the parade.

Jacob, being a great brother, and covering AJ’s ears when a semi honked by in the parade.

Oh, you know. A guy on stilts. I think I should volunteer for this job.

Oh, you know. A guy on stilts. I think I should volunteer for this job.

Enjoy!

Marriage Monday: Have Fun

Good Morning readers,

Today’s post from me does not have a preachy tone or a bible verse to go with. It’s something simple that we all know how to do because in all of our relationships  {I hope} we have had fun together. But this is easy to lose in the happenings of life. The sometimes doldrums tasks of work, bills, kids and every other responsibility seem to bury us and there are many casualties; fun being one of them. For me I have made many life choices that forced me to grow up too fast and in turn have put added stress on our marriage. Having a kid by 19, another when I was 21 and being divorced by 23 were all things that I battled with in losing my identity with Christ, but also in my ability to have fun. I went through a learning phase of having way too much fun and getting out of control. Soon after, though, I came back to a better balance of my responsibilities as a father, but also having tons of fun and that is because I met the love of my life. Going to parties, hanging out with friends and even more important than that, being silly and doing things together is the key here. It can be easy to forget, as I do, but needs to be a priority. For us it means being ridiculous with each other; we have prank called our friends, woken up at 3am just being silly and laughing with each other, killing zombies on the Xbox, painting together and chasing each other around the house. Guys, that one should be easy for you, maybe institute a Naked Thursday and pursue her. We are a young couple, but the things in our life can sometimes accelerate our learning curve. I encourage you all to keep having fun if you are newlyweds, search the fun out if you have lost it at any point and remember: you didn’t marry each other because you wanted a boring existence. Go create the adventure you both crave.

– Jason

Image

Beautiful Things

Friday:
beautiful things 4

This precious, miniscule flower, greeting me at work. Spring is coming.

Saturday:
Waterloo Bridge

Seeing one of my favorite paintings right in front of me. Of all of Monet’s work, Impression, Sunrise is my favorite, but this doesn’t fall far behind. Waterloo Bridge {I had a nerd moment here and tears welled up in my eyes}.

Sunday:
team

This part of the sermon from church, which has been becoming stronger in our marriage.

Monday:
Brothers Hilts

These amazing illustrations by the Brothers Hilts in the children’s story, “The Insomniacs”. Even though it’s a children’s story about the night {not my favorite time}, I found the pictures inspiring.

Tuesday:
French Press2

There’s this beautiful instrument – it’s called a French Press. It was much needed on this Tuesday afternoon. And do you know what? I drank all 32 ounces. Call me crazy.

Wednesday:
Hands

This is what my hands have been looking like more often than not these days. And it makes me so, so happy.

Thursday:
stencils

These stencils I got for new projects.

Enjoy!

Yesterday

Yesterday was March 6th. An ordinary day to you, but a huge turning point in my life. On march 6th, four years ago, I went on a first date.

That would be my last first date.

He was polite, and I had bangs and wore a black dress. He took me to Chinese food and we painted pottery. That last first date set the tone for our entire relationship, in a way. He didn’t know much about me, but he knew I loved to paint. He knew – and he took me to paint pottery. Now, he knows me maybe just a little bit better, and he still takes me to paint pottery. Or gets excited when I find something new to use at the craft store. And supports the Canvas & Cookies and art benefit shows I’ve done {as I write this, he’s sitting next to me at our table, painting his own picture, something me and probably everyone else never expected from this surprising man}.

But not only is he my biggest supporter, but my best friend. Everyone says that, right? And maybe it’s true for them. But I never don’t want to be around him. Ever. There has never been a point in my life, like some women, where I think to myself, “ugh, I wish he’d just go to work or go hang out with his friends.” I mean, I’ve thought to myself, “he needs to hang out with his friends for us to have a healthy relationship.” I’ve even been known to force him to hang out with his dudes because he sometimes goes too long without. But I never want him to leave. More than best friends.

And here we are now, four years after that enchanting, perfect last first date. We haven’t had it easy. No, no. But we recently talked about having it easy, especially early on in life, and how it doesn’t mold you. I never in a million bajillion YEARS thought this is how my life would pan out. When I was 18, if you told me about my life, I wouldn’t believe I would have to go through half of the things that I have. But Jason and I have been refined. We have become not only best friends and lovers, but we have become a team. And a strong one at that. The enemy has definitely tried to attack our marriage because he knows it’s a strong force, but what he didn’t know is that every time that happens, we don’t yell, we don’t get mad at each other, we come side by side.

So, my love, happy anniversary. We have been through so much, but maybe soon, we will get to stand back and breathe. Take a breath in and not have to fight for everything. But even if that doesn’t happen, I will be by your side.

I love you.

Engagement26

Modest Squash & Chicken

I found something I have never found before. Maybe I had just never looked hard, but as I was picking out different kinds of squash one day – yellow summer squash, zucchini – I came upon this little oddball called Mexican Gray Squash. It looked pretty normal, just as though it was a hybrid between the two I had already gathered. Partly green, partly yellow, not really gray, but the skin’s strange pattern gave off a fuzzy, dull look; the impression of gray, if you will. Maybe that’s where the name came from.

At any rate, it was becoming a rather cold evening, and I don’t know about you, but I think squash is perfect for cold weather {which is funny, considering it’s called summer squash}. I don’t know why, but I have had this thing for years now, about always thinking about the Oregon Trail {and I always play the game on my phone when I can’t sleep}. Anyway, I could just imagine the pioneers eating dishes like this: unsophisticated, honest and uncomplicated . Maybe we are the ones who are unsophisticated – after all, everything we do has to be done with such detail and ferocity, taking up so much time. How much more time must they have had on their hands than we do to spend doing what they love. That’s pretty sophisticated to me.

I wish to live simply, modestly like that.

Modest Squash and Chicken

Serves 2.

| Modest Squash and Chicken

2 chicken breasts

1 zucchini squash

1 yellow squash

1 Mexican gray squash

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 TSP lemon juice

1/8 TSP salt

1/8 TSP pepper

1/2 TSP dried thyme

1/2 TSP dried rosemary

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and cut each squash into little 1/4 inch slices. Drizzle about a half a TSP of olive oil in the bottom of a round baking dish or pie dish and rub around the surface with a paper towel until thinly coated. Arrange the squash in a circular pattern around the pie dish, leaving a gap in the middle. Place the chicken breasts there.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary and thyme and drizzle over the top of the chicken and squash. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the whole dish.

Place the dish in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Broil on high for an additional 2-3 minutes to get a slight crunch on the squash.

Serve immediately.

Modest Squash and Chicken1

Enjoy!

Mexican Egg Rolls

Once again, we had our marriage group this past Sunday and we signed up to bring an appetizer. The week before, I had purchased some egg roll rappers with the intent to make husband baked chicken egg rolls for a healthy, easy lunch. Then, when we signed up, I didn’t want to have to go to the store… again. So with what we had, I thought up a masterpiece of appetizer ideas.

With this Asian-Mexican fusion dish, not only are the fresh ingredients great for you {I’ve talked about the magic of beans before}, but two egg rolls weigh in at just over 150 calories and 10 grams of protein, making these little cuties perfect as a light app or a snack. Makes 30 egg rolls.

Mexican Egg Rolls4

 

| Mexican Egg Rolls

2 Roma tomatoes

1 handful cilantro

1/4 C chopped red onion

1 TBS lime juice

1/4 TSP salt

1 pinch black pepper

1 lb ground turkey meat

1 – 16 oz can refried beans {I used vegetarian}

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cheddar cheese {optional}

1 package or 15 sheets egg roll wrappers

1 TSP olive oil

non stick cooking spray

 

Preheat your oven to 425, then heat a skillet on high and brown the turkey meat with cooking spray, 1/8 tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, finely mince the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice and the rest of the salt to make a salsa. Prepare the egg roll wrappers by cutting them in half {you will have long, skinny egg roll wrappers}.

When the meat is thoroughly cooked, prepare your assembly line, putting each ingredient in the center of the wrapper {in a short line that goes lengthwise with the wrapper}: start with about a TSP of refried beans, then top with about a TSP of meat. Next, add a small spoonful of the salsa, a few pieces of red bell pepper, and top with the optional cheese. Fold by taking each of the ends, lengthwise, and bringing them to the center. Then, take one of opposite edges, and roll to the other side, until the folds are on the bottom.

Place them evenly spaced on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non stick oil. Brush each tiny egg roll with a tiny amount of olive oil. Cook each batch in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Serve with guacamole.

Mexican Egg Rolls2

Enjoy!

Marriage Mondays Part 6: Submit?

Okay, so I know what a lot of you are thinking. I have been there. The words “submit to your husband” literally used to make me want to puke. I am an extremely strong-willed person. Like, really. So a long time ago, before husband and I met, when my friend suggested I read the book “Created to be His Help Meet”, I read through one chapter, and threw it down in disgust, pretty much immediately.

I wasn’t yet in a place to understand what being a wife means. I had been in serious relationships, but the fact that I wasn’t willing to be the best I could be for them proves that they weren’t the one for me.

One thing for me that stands out about my relationship with my husband apart from other men, is that immediately after I met him, I had an insane amount of respect for him and wanted to do anything to make him happy.

That, my friends, is what being a wife means. And as for “submit to your husband”, I think that our society of feminists and man-haters has perverted the real meaning of that saying. It doesn’t mean that when he says, “Woman, go clean the toilet”, that you do it. It doesn’t mean doing everything he said just because he said it. It means falling under his protection, and when he takes into account the right insight from you or other wise counsel, being able to respect and follow his decision.

As soon as we started dating, my heart was much more open to reading that book, to be the best I could be for him. I like to think that God was saving that special part of me just for him – the part where I’m not so stubborn, and the part where my heart is soft.

Also, when we went to our marriage group a few weeks ago, one of the leaders said something that stuck with me – when your husband makes you feel safe and protected, you want to respect him and respect for men is like the equivalent of love for women. Husband often says that he knows I love him when I respect him. And I want him to feel the remarkable way he makes me feel when he loves me like I need him to.

DSC_0444

Beautiful Things

On Monday, I was cleaning and doing chores around the house, which I don’t hate, but I don’t LOVE {I mean, don’t get me wrong – I do get pretty excited to use a new cleaning product. Husband knows not to touch them if I haven’t christened them yet}. I just thought to myself how mundane people allow their lives to be. Even I have asked husband several times, “What are we doing with our lives?”

We have a great life, an amazing marriage, two awesome little boys, and a heap of dear family and friends – but what are we doing to better the world? I know in my heart of hearts that God has some big things in store for us, but I just keep thinking of this verse:

Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

So there’s the proof – plus, God knows the desires of your heart! He knows I want to change the world, change people, but His timing is perfect, right?

In the mean time I am going to do something on this blog every Friday to help pass the time while I wait on Him. Everyday of the week, I will look for at least one beautiful thing about my day, about my life. I will take a picture of it, and post it here so I can come back every time I get weary of the wait. This week, there will only be 4 pictures, since I started on Monday.

Monday: Beautiful Things

A glimpse of a piece I recently finished for Burning Through Pages‘ next art benefit show. Currently hanging on my wall, looking pretty good, but I know it will make someone else’s wall happy.

Tuesday:Beautiful Things3

An old school blouse from the 60’s that I got at Saver’s for THREE BUCKS. Score.

Wednesday:Beautiful Things2

My dogs eyeball from a morning photo sesh.

Thursday:Beautiful Things1

My creepy art collection {by this guy} in our bathroom, which is pretty much my favorite decorated room.

Enjoy life 🙂