Thursday, June 27, 2013

Settling or Accepting? Think About It Thursday

Folks, I am aware that I have missed the past two Thursdays... I'm so sorry! Things have been super hectic and I have some new things on my plate (hopefully more about that later). I also got my days mixed up last week and didn't even realize it was Thursday until 11:30 that night!

Today's question is a tough one: 

What is the difference between settling for things, and accepting the way things are?

Looking back over life, I feel like maybe I have settled for some things when I could have asked for better, and that I have accepted some things that I should have rejected. I think the key word here is change. Can I change this situation?

When we "settle" for something, we are saying, "I know this situation could be better, but I'm too lazy/afraid/unconfident to change it, so I'm just going to take it the way it is." To put a finer point on it, it's apathy. We don't care enough to put our foot down, so we deal with it. Which can be fine in certain settings, but should never be tolerated in relationships or moral choices that we have control over. Don't settle for less... Keep the standard as high as you want it to be, and stick to it. 

On the other hand, accepting things generally means we don't have a choice. There is something out of our control, and we can either take it or leave it, but if we accept it, we have to realize it is what it is. And once we realize those boundaries, we can begin to work with them and even learn to appreciate them, or how to at least tolerate them. When you accept something,  it generally means that you realize the benefits of the bigger picture outweigh the limitations.  

What things in life have you learned to accept, and what things are you just settling for that you could change?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Asparagus Stromboli Recipe

I decided to experiment for dinner and made this yummy asparagus stromboli - this was super easy, and could be the springboard for tons of different variations. I think it would be yummy with prosciutto or thin sliced turkey with the asparagus, and everything can be improved with onions, garlic, and peppers! I just didn't happen to have them on hand tonight. 

First off, I followed this recipe for making asparagus a few nights ago:
(From Ella Claire)

We had leftovers, and I didn't want to see them go to waste, so I made up the Fifteen Minute Pizza Crust, and got to work. Roll out the dough to completely cover a cookie sheet, then spread thinly with cream cheese and herbs. Place your asparagus (I had about 1/2 a pound) in the center third of the dough, and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella or colby jack cheese. Cut the sides of your dough to look like this:

(from kirsten787 on Photobucket)

Fold up, alternating strips to create a braided look, and tuck in the ends. Bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes. Cool, then cut into strips and serve with ranch dressing or spaghetti sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Meet Calvin

We just went into the pet store for dog food...

I've always had a soft place in my heart for rats since I was eleven and was convinced to buy one by the Petco associate. It was the best pet I have ever had. Her name was Flower, and after three years she was followed by Galadriel. When we moved to the Big Woods, I sold all of my small furry friends and said my goodbyes. 

Last year, the local pet store move to a new facility that is easier to get to, and we've been frequent visitors to hold the animals and buy dog food. While I was in there today, the store owner's daughter told me that I could have this sweet black and white hooded rat because she just couldn't bear the thought of him becoming snake food, and that was most likely going to be his fate. How could anyone refuse? 

I've named him Calvin, and he is such a sweetie! He sat on my shoulder and supervised me folded laundry today, then he fell asleep in my lap while Mom arranged his cage. Now, I'm watching him run on a bright yellow wheel and search through his food bowl for the best treats. 

Most people think rats are gross, but once you've had one as a pet, you never see them in the same light. They are sweet-tempered, intelligent, cuddly, clean, social, and very laid back. They are always on the alert for a treat or a ride on your shoulder, and their little eyes sparkle with curiosity. Can you tell how much I love them? It's good to have a furry friend of my own again.

Want to see more pictures? Check out the album here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chicken and Veggies Over Couscous (Healthy Eating Series)

Chicken and Veggies Over Couscous

This was so good! I used pre-cut, pre-cooked chicken, so this meal was a snap to prepare. In a saute pan, put a tablespoon or so of oil and throw in chopped onions and red bell pepper. Cook at medium until they are just getting soft, then add in thin slices of zucchini. While the zucchini is cooking, make the couscous according to the box directions (if it's plain, throw in some crushed garlic, poultry seasoning, and cumin). Once your zucchini looks like it's nearly done, throw in your cooked chicken and cook until it's all hot. Scoop the chicken and veggies over a bed of couscous, and serve with fresh tomato and avocado - the avocado tastes especially delicious with the cooked chicken. For this meal, I was feeding three light eaters, so I used half of a zucchini, 1C cooked couscous, 1 C cooked shredded chicken, half a bell pepper, half an onion, half an avocado, and one roma tomato. Enjoy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Baked Veggie Sticks (Healthy Eating Series)

With the onset of summer, I wanted to start eating more fresh veggies, less packaged foods, and minimal salt use. I based some of my recipes off of a Mediterranean-style diet, but not strictly. Since I'm always trying to think of new things to feed my family, I thought you might appreciate if I shared some of the healthy meal/snack ideas I've come up with in the past two weeks. 

Baked Veggie Sticks:

These are so good and easy to make! Preheat your oven to 42oF, and coat a metal cookie sheet lightly with olive or coconut oil. Slice your preferred veggies into about 3in. sticks - I cut the zucchini in quarters, then cut each quarter in half. For this mix, I used carrots, zucchini, and sweet potato. Put the veggie sticks into a plastic baggie, then drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add in your seasonings, and you can also add about 1/4 cup of cornmeal, or flour, or parmesan cheese. Toss around in the bag until evenly coated, then spread in a single layer on the cookie sheet:

Bake for 10 minutes at 420F, then gently flip/shuffle around. Bake another 10 minutes, or until the veggies are just browning and they are soft (I checked the carrots, since they are the hardest). I had coated mine with parmesan and cornmeal, and it made them delightfully crispy. The sweet potato was voted the best - I just figured out how to make my own sweet potato fries! 

Remember, a little seasoning goes a long way, and be sure to watch the last few minutes so they don't burn. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Week In Review +365 Project (119-125)

Spring is finally here! I've enjoyed getting a few flower shots, and all around taking in the color and outdoors feel. 

The lilacs out front

I love these bowls...

Salmon over couscous with roasted brussel sprouts and beets

Music in the "park" (it rained, so we were at the school)

Lunch at the drive-in with Mom 

Safety (and priorities) first!

Anybody know what these are? Purple globe flowers?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Carlyle 5K

Ran my third ever 5K today! Here are a few pictures from the race.

We got these awesome moisture-wicking shirts that are a pretty blue color.

The weather was actually warm and it didn't rain, woohoo!

There were 191 participants

 My time was 49:50, two minutes slower than the Shamwalk, but I did not train for this like I should have!

Had a great time, and now we're looking ahead to the Freedom 5K on July 4th!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Have You Read That's Inspiring? Think About It Thursday

Sorry this is late, folks! Seem to be getting my days mixed up lately!

There are so many online articles, blog posts, and pins that we read every day... some funny, some sad, and some that are just an 'aha!' moment of inspiration. They make you want to clap for the person who wrote it, except they need to make a digital clap so the author can hear you. Well, maybe just leave a comment and tell them that you were inspired. :)

The article that comes to mind as a recent read was from Smartter Each Day, and it was about raising her kids on NASCAR. Before you make any assumptions, just read the article - it's great! It made me proud to be American, a Southerner, and it made me want to go to a live NASCAR race at least once in my life. 

"I love how NASCAR makes time for my three favorite things – Jesus, America, and country music. And I'm not trying to be flippant about the first one. NASCAR is one of the few remaining entertainment forums where you can still mention “Jesus” if you want to, and say your prayers without whispering, and not cower in the corner shielding your faith with a blanket. There’s something to be said for that." - Jessica Smartt

So what have you read online recently that you find inspiring? A picture? A post? Please share the link in the comments!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fifteen Minute Pizza Crust

If I had to choose just one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be pizza. I LOVE IT! The only thing better than ordinary pizza is homemade pizza, and I try to make it fresh for my family as often as I can. I have tried many recipes for pizza crust, from using store bought crust to the ones you have to leave out to rise three hours before making... those don't work for me, because I don't think that far in advance. So, Betty Crocker to the rescue! I have taken her recipe and added a few of my own tweaks to make it even more tasty. This is your basic thin crust, and it's ready in the time it takes to preheat the oven! 

Fifteen Minute Pizza Crust 

Mix together in a medium size bowl:
1 packet yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp. yeast)
1 C warm water

Add in:
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 T oil

Mix briskly 20 times, then set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 425F (I usually turn the oven on when dough is setting, it takes about 5 min to heat up). Pull out a flat pan - I use a stoneware cookie sheet - and lightly coat with butter or cooking spray. Sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal down (optional) and place dough onto surface. Gently knead and stretch dough over the pan edges, either with hands or roller. Brush with oil and place in oven for 7 minutes. Pull out and top with your favorite toppings - leave room around the edges to keep sauce and cheese from oozing off. Put in oven for about 15 minutes. The last two minutes, to give your pizza a golden glow, turn the broiler on at 500F, but watch the pizza carefully to keep it from burning! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 1, 2013