Monday, January 26, 2015

Three Fears {Blog Series}

I apologize for the silence. Life has been a tad stressed, definitely hectic, and a bit challenging right now. I dislike long lulls. Yes, I have dropped this ball a few times. When I took the time to look over my blog yesterday, I realized it's been a while since the "Blog Series" graced the page. So, without further ado, here is another rambling post. And if it's your first time, welcome. Enjoy these other ramblings here and here. Oh, and check out this one!

Mr. Darcy enjoy the snow. And we have a lot of it!

I came across an ice-breaker survey the other day. I can't remember where, but it was a poll asking voters to suggest and pick favorite ways to break the ice when meeting new people. I was surprised to see several people enjoyed asking and answering the question: name three legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.

Yikes! Talk about getting right down to it. Not something I would have thought to ask a complete stranger, but if you had the same fear it might be a quick way to connect. I find it interesting. Fears. This is a great way to learn about a person, and to quickly assess the person you've just told your fear to. Especially a legitimate fear. How the receiver responds is quite telling of their personality. <--- I promise to explain more on this below.

Sticking with the lighter side of this question, my three fears....

SPIDERS.
If you've known me longer than two seconds, I'm quite certain you know my huge, LEGITIMATE fear of spiders. I can't even overhear people or a TV program mention these creatures without my blood pressure rising. Upon hearing it, I then check every ceiling corner in the room. Often, I turn around and walk away immediately or cover my ears. I'm a very visual person and once my mind starts picturing... (let's just say I've started this paragraph and have walked away to distract myself twice already). I've been known to almost cause my husband to wreck the car because there was a spider on the window. To call him and ask him how soon he'll be home because there's one on the ceiling or behind the blinds. To beg a co-worker to get rid of the tiniest one on the wall. Panic attacks ensue if I turn the page in a book and touch a photo with one of those hideous things in it. Cleaning frenzies go on for days if I discover a cobweb in the house.

I'm not sure even when this fear first originated, but I've always been terrified. As long as I can remember. And, God help me, if I lose a spider in the bedroom. I won't sleep for days. And, if there's a spider scene coming up in a movie and you didn't warn me, I won't forgive you!!!!! This fear is serious, y'all.

And, yes, I'm very aware my spider mishaps are hilarious. I can't help it. Always happy to entertain :)


CLOWNS.
Now this isn't funny (no pun intended). I can tell you exactly when this fear became a fear in one word: IT.

Not when my parents decided it'd be cute to do my nursery in clowns, although I'm sure that had a hand in it, subconsciously. Not during parades. Not at early childhood birthday parties or noisy toys. It was that darn movie. Let me set the scene... I was staying the night at my grandparents. I was six and ready for bed, coming downstairs to give Daddy a kiss good night. He was watching a movie on TV with Grandpa. BTW, who puts this movie on TV??????!!!! I'm sure my thoughts were, "Oh, a movie with a clown and there are a bunch of kids. This must be a kids movie." I sat down to watch a little bit of it. Soon after, I left the room completely terrified. I cried into my pillow. I had nightmares for weeks. Daddy laughs about it now, but I bet he wasn't when I woke him screaming at three o'clock in the morning. Lesson learned, Papa Bear.

Yes, I freak out still if there's a clown at the parade or a party. I will be headed in the opposite direction. At my job, for the summer reading programs we'll often have a clown come out and entertain the kids. My boss understands my fear and kindly arranges for me to be elsewhere in the building. When it rains, I'm constantly looking for children and making sure they're okay and not alone. As for my earlier comment...I mentioned my fear of clowns to a co-worker at my previous job. He thought it was hilarious and joked about inviting a clown to the next staff meeting. Also, he'd ask me to look at his computer screen when there was a clown or send me emails. He wasn't my favorite person. Fears aren't funny. People have them for a reason.



FALLING DOWN THE STAIRS AND BREAKING MY NECK.
I'm a woman. Too often I'm in heels. This is LEGIT.


What fears happen to plague you? Let's chat.


With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Currently


I'm currently....

Watching.... I'm getting ready to watch church service in an hour. It's been a rough few days over here, and when I just want to hunker down from the world and people, and escape into my introverted self, I'm blessed my church has the technology to offer live services online. My ears are preparing to hear God's word this morning.

Eating.... I've been craving salads, but it's hard to get my favorite ingredients since we're in the dead of winter over here in Ohio. I'm trying to branch out into the "warm salads" sections of my cookbooks. However, even in all this cold, I just want a normal salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers.... and not settle for unsatisfactory ingredients. And I'm back on my smoothie kick! I don't care if it's 9 degrees; they're sooooo good.

Planning.... my meals for the week. Due to a two-day, county-wide orientation, a meeting, and the holiday off, my schedule is a little different this week and I need to be prepared to make sure Mr. B has his dinners and enough snacks, and that I'm not stuck eating food my body doesn't want.

Reading.... today I plan to start Lisa Harper's A Perfect Mess, and it couldn't come at a better time, too. It's about how in your less-than-lovely moments, God sees a precious daughter in need of His perfect love.

Inspired by.... my Holy Yoga practice. It's taking me farther than I thought I could go in yoga in building a closer relationship with God.

To all of you "Christians" who judge other Christians for their yoga practices, I'm happy to inform you that yoga is a spiritual discipline much like fasting, meditation, and prayer that cannot be owned by one specific religion. Get informed. Do what Jesus called you to do, be a doer of the word and not a hearer only; don't judge others, for God is our only judge.

Excited about....having tomorrow off and seeing my best friend tomorrow and going to TRADER JOE'S!!!!!! I'm stocking up, stocking up, and stocking up. Bringing the big bags and the bank account. And you better have my coconut oil TJ! I haven't seen my dear friend in over a month. I miss her. And her shenanigans ;)

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Thursday, January 15, 2015

BLTs In a Bowl

nom.nom.nom.nom.nom.nom.

Who doesn't like a BLT??!!


Besides the grilled cheese, it's the king of all kings when it comes to sandwiches. (All things not grilled cheese, of course.)

It's so easy to throw one together when you just arrived home from work and half to rush out of the house in a half an hour to make it to Wednesday night church service. Or when you don't feel like cooking or dirtying up the kitchen. Or when all you want is a hearty deli sandwich. Or when the pantry is bare.

It's a household favorite over here. Mr. B loves his BLTs along with a side of soup. Which got me to thinking....


BLTs with soup. BLT SOUP!

It's possible, and yes, it's delicious. Whenever I make it, I have to control myself to not eat the entire batch before my husband gets home.It's a simple broth-based soup with chopped bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Most often I use Romain lettuce, but if I make it just for me to have as my work lunch for the week, I like to use a heartier green like kale. Annnndddd....the best part? One serving is less than 300 calories. Yay! Plus, I don't even miss the bread. It's perfect with a BIG COBB SALAD. Or with toasted peppercorn bread, as Mr. B reminded me. <--- He likes his bread.

The tastiest way to celebrate National Soup Month.

nom.nom.nom.nom.nom.nom.


BLT Soup

Serves 4

3 T coconut oil
1/2 c green onions, diced
3 cups Romaine lettuce or kale, finely sliced
1/2 c flour
4 c vegetable broth
1-2 cups [fresh] tomatoes,chopped
6 slices pre-cooked bacon, chopped
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t pepper
1 c unsweetened almond milk (or regular milk)
3 T mayonnaise
3 T plain Greek yogurt
Optional: extra diced bacon for topping

In a large pot, over medium-high heat, melt coconut oil. Add in diced onions and saute 3-4 minutes. Stir in sliced lettuce, and saute a couple more minutes. Sprinkle in flour and stir until well combined. Pour in vegetable broth, cover pot, and bring to a quick boil. Once boiling, add in tomatoes, bacon, nutmeg, and pepper. Lower heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Add in milk and heat through. In a bowl combine mayonnaise and yogurt.

Serve in bowls topped with a dollop of mayo and yogurt mixture. Sprinkle with diced bacon, if desired.

Nutritional Information:
270 calories, 19 fat, 18 carbs, 2 fiber, 2 sugar, 6 protein

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Monday, January 12, 2015

What I'm Reading

Yikes! I'm embarrassed about the lack of book posts over here these last few months. And, trust me, I am not short on the currently-read list.


Actually, since the date of my last post, I have read over 20 titles. Call me what you want... reading machine, book nerd, book lover, crazy... I love books. I'm a librarian. It's my favorite pastime. And thank goodness for my hour commute because, contrary to what most believe, I don't get to read on work time. Umm, what? I know. I'm busy doing other things. Anyhoo, let's get right down to my latest good reads.


Two of my favorite reads included Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Wild, which hit theaters recently starring Reese Witherspoon. I added the book to my to-read list after discovering early last year the movie would be released. I never thought I would be intrigued with a book on solo hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. From the beginning I was engrossed in Strayed's experience and writing style. I can't imagine the courage it would take to complete this feat. But when you're broken, I guess you do what you need to do to find yourself again. An excellent read, perfect for book clubs. 

The Shadow of the Wind was a gem. I read this book as part of an online book club through Good Reads. This is definitely one of the best novels I've accidentally stumbled upon. The mystery of it kept me turning the pages well into the night, and the plot twists kept me coming back for more. The intricate details and descriptions are many, but the wonderful writing style allows them to be a great part of the story (almost a character itself) without becoming an annoying part of the book one must skip over in order to actually finish. This was excellent! I plan on reading the next books in the series eventually. But in short, this historical fiction book takes place in Barcelona where "Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Juli├ín Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love" (Good Reads synopsis). It's fantastic.

However, there were a few anticipated reads I was disappointed in, primarily Emily Giffin's The One and Only. I was a huge fan of her Something Borrowed series, but her last few were turn offs. I heard good things about this one, and once I realized the story line was centered around football (squeal!) I was eager to get my hands on it. When I won a copy of the book through another library, I was excited. Can we say total let down? While a few reviews complained about the over-usage of football terms, which I didn't mind by the way, I had issues with the story line. I'm sorry, I just don't think my best friend since birth would be okay with me dating her father (who practically raised the main character also) ever, let alone right after her mother's passing. I don't care how great our friendship is. No way. Didn't anybody else find this weird? Disturbing? Awkward? And it was poorly written. Big disappointment. Pass on this one. Sadly, I don't think I'm a Giffin fan anymore.


Also, I wasn't a fan of one of our recent book club reads, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. It's based off the popular web series, "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," (I have yet to view an episode) and as a lover of Pride and Prejudice I really wanted to be one of those fans. But I just couldn't. Meh. 2 1/2 stars at best if you catch me on a good day. Not only did the little inconsistencies of this bother me (like trying to find a college football game on TV in the middle of July?), but it's sad and embarrassing to think this is what the youth (and only a few years younger than me, mind you,) and social media are like today. Not everybody has careless sex and makes sex tapes. I understand this is a modernization of Jane Austen's beloved classic, but I kind of think she's turning over in her grave. The two are so contrasted, when this one tries to incorporate a few original lines it's just downright awkward. And Jane Bennett would never have done what she did, no matter how modern the times. I was bummed. I think I need to pick up the original for the second time this year just to rid my brain of "hipster" Darcy. Ugh.

Some YA reads included Scowler (this book is a tad horrifying and disturbing, a perfect read for the month of October), Nation (an award winner by Terry Pratchett), and The Maze Runner Series. It was on my to-read list for a while now, and after Mr. B and I saw the movie in theaters, we were both interested enough to read the books, me more so than him. Not a shocker. However, I wasn't content with just picking up with the first one, I had to start with The Kill Order, which is considered a prequel and was published last in the series. It's a very quick series to get through due to short chapters, and I thoroughly enjoyed James Dashner's writing style. It sort of read like the TV series, Revolution, (which I was fond of and sad when it canceled) because it started from the present moment yet provided flashbacks as the story continued. The characters were introduced at the beginning, but not with an over-load of everything about them. You gradually learned more about them throughout, which I really liked. I wasn't bored, but found some scenes and technology descriptions hard to picture in my mind. The movie adaptation isn't too far off the book, surprisingly. Apparently there is another one set to publish...

And, of course, my beloved audio books. At one point I was flying through these puppies left and right, but now I'm all caught up in the All Souls Trilogy, by Deborah Harkness. The audio books are each 20 discs or more, and while they're not of the amazing-and-you-MUST-listen-to-these-instead-of-reading-the-books, the story has me quite involved, intrigued, of the can't- put-down -stop-listening sort. I was first introduced to this trilogy by one of my book club friends who mentioned she thought I would enjoy it. Of, course, I whipped out my phone and immediately added it to my to-read list using my Good Reads app. A few days later, someone on Good Reads, as part of a reading challenge (oh, and I'll be posting on these challenges soon), went through my to-read list and recommended the same book. So I bit. I needed an audio book, saw my library had it, and I've been listening non-stop since. (Of course, I was a little delayed due to Christmas where I had to get in my Christmas music.) As of now, I'm half way through the last of the books, and though I've been told "it should be titled The Book of Tears!", I'm not there yet. My thoughts on the first book, A Discovery of Witches... I wanted to give this four stars because I really, really did enjoy it; however some parts were a bit too corny, so I really am giving it 3 1/2 stars. Definitely a book for adult fans of the Twilight Series, yet it's much, much better (especially the writing). The time spent on historical facts and the details are what I liked most about this novel; I'm sure most readers might find it boring but I'm a history nerd so it was my cup of tea. Yes, I really like Matthew.

As for juvenile lit, the Mother-Daughter Book Club series is wonderful. I just finished book two in the series, where they read Anne of Green Gables, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to grab the next one. In the first book the moms introduced the girls to The March sisters, and it's fun watching the girls relate Little Women to their own lives, work out their struggles, and communicate (or not communicate) with their mothers. These books give me future dreams of having a mother-daughter book club of my own some day. I can't think of anything better.

Oh, and GO BUCKEYES!!!!!! It's a BIG DAY.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Virtual Coffee Date

Welcome. It's January 2014 2015.

 I rang in the new year with a never-ending Root Beer Float. It was fantastic.

Ohhhh, if we were having coffee right now, we'd be bundled up at a nearby Starbucks with big cups thawing our hands. I would have brought along my portable heater, insisting we sit near an outlet so our toes stay warm while we chit-chat about the cold weather, the ridiculousness of school closings (I'm sure my readers in colder states are laughing at us Ohioans, and be sure, I'm laughing right along with you), and how if the kids can bundle up to head to the mall or outside to build Olaf, they can bundle up to head to school.

[Disclaimer: If I was a kid and school was cancelled, I'd be thrilled. If I was still in college, I'd be thrilled. If I was teacher, I'd be thrilled. However, as an adult I can look back knowing school was only cancelled if roads were hazardous. And I lived in the country where there was a lot of blowing and vision problems, yet very seldom did we celebrate a snow day. I could go on and on, but my coffee is getting cold. I digress.]

I guess we can all relax and huddle under a blanket since this is a "virtual" coffee date. Pour yourself another mug and get comfy; I have some new things I'd like to share.

But first, I want to know how you take your coffee. What's your favorite coffee beverage? I take my coffee black. The stronger the better. Actually, I prefer straight espresso. Or an Americano. The stronger the better. If we were at Starbucks, and I was using my reward drink, I'd get a Caramel Frappy with five shots of espresso. As I said, the stronger the better. (And, yes, even in negative-degree weather, I still drink iced coffee. I'll layer up to drive somewhere to get ice cream, too. We all have our needs, weather temperatures be... well, you know.)

If we were having coffee, I'd surely ask you about your Christmas gifts! What was the best gift, best moment of your Christmas? My favorite gift was from my friend Jessica; no, the other Jessica, in Tampa. She sent everyone in our book club a copy of the first book we read, The Secret Garden, and this awesome reading journal. It was so personal and thoughtful; I loved it. I'm using it to keep track of all our book club reads. I couldn't wait to grab a pencil and start filling it out.

But my most favorite, the very best Christmas gift were the GARTH BROOKS tickets my husband spent hours online waiting to purchase. He knew seeing Garth was at the top of my bucket list, had been since I made my list back in 2003, right before my senior year. (Actually, the very first item on my list was to graduate from high school. Hey, I wanted to start out with something easily attainable and that I'd be able to cross off soon. Items crossed off give you a sense of accomplishment, you know?)


Since we're having coffee this morning, I'd like to tell you what I have planned for Sweet B's Impressions this year. I always like to give the blog a review, looking back on what received the most views, posts I liked, didn't like, things I want to continue.


Coming to Sweet B's this 2015:
  • More recipes! More recipes! More recipes!
  • "Sunday Sweets." I'm hoping to bring this back once a month. It's morphed quite a bit throughout its previous posts; I'm hoping to keep a constant flow during this monthly post. 
  • "Favorites Lately." I'd love to not drop the ball on this one because I really enjoy sharing with y'all my current likes, must-haves, splurges, and obsessions.
  • What I have dropped the ball on are my "What I'm Reading" posts. I'm sure y'all are wondering where these posts are hidden because there have to be posts...she's a librarian for crying out loud. Doesn't she read?! Apparently, too much so.
She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain. ---Louisa may Alcott

  • Possibly a "Cooking Series"...not sure exactly on what, and this would be where I ask your opinion. What do you like? What would you like to see on Sweet B's?
  • More house updates.
  • Mr. Darcy. He clearly isn't on here enough.
  • Practicing the presence of God on the blog more, rather than just in my daily life. I want to bring that closeness here. Share with y'all my devotionals, testimonies, the goodness of my Lord and Savior. Another gift I really enjoyed this Christmas was Beth Moore's Whispers of Hope. Mama gave it to me, my aunt, a few others, and bought one for herself. We're doing the 10-week devotional together as a family. I love this, and although we've just started and haven't had a chance to chat, I hope my other family members are enjoying this devotional journey as well.
  • Surveys. Lists. Insights. Yes. More, please!
  • Oh, and I can't forget my plans to share more about my work as a children's librarian.
 There may be a few other goals I have thought on, but I'm still listening to God, waiting to see what his plans for this blog and for our family are in 2015.

I love planning, looking at what the new year may bring. I'm excited to get started.

Suggestions are welcomed. I think I'll have another cup.


With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Beautiful Month

In case you aren't on Instagram, or don't follow me, here's a peek at my Insta-Life lately.
[*All photos are taken from my Instagram account.]


He likes to sit on the stairs where he can look out the windows and sound the alarm if a car drives by or the neighbors check their mail.



Early Christmas presents from Mr. B: over-the-cabinets lights and a personal heater to keep my toes warm at work.







Our new popcorn maker. Not too bad :)

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cheeseburger Casserole

Talk about cleaning out the freezer and tossing everything into a quick weeknight dinner casserole.


This casserole is a dish I throw together when Mr. B and I are craving fast food. Burgers. Fries.

But we don't eat fast food, and haven't since March of this year. We've always been "health conscious" when it comes to food, eating everything in moderation with occasional indulgences. We don't bring junk food into the house; it's just something we I don't buy. Now if there's a party and we need chips, I'll throw in a bag or two. If I'm craving ice cream and it's the dead of winter or I don't feel like waiting two days to make my own, I'll head to the store and buy a pint or smaller. Unless it's Christmas or a special occasion, you won't find candy or cookies in my house. Mr. B doesn't eat sweets. I never get dessert when we do eat out; I'd rather make it myself.

And in all honesty, it's not necessarily because we only like healthy food. It's more likely because we're too cheap. I mean, have you seen the cost of a bag of chips or a box of pastries from the bakery lately?  For the quality, I'll just make it myself. And.Mr.B.cannot.stop.eating.when.it.comes.to.chips.

I'm mentioning all of this because we had a downfall and that was running through the BK Lounge when out and about and feeling too lazy to cook. Or through McDonald's for fries. It wasn't all the time, and considering most people, our once a week fast food splurge isn't much. But this past March we made a decision to cut out fast food. Mainly because I finally convinced my husband how bad it was for us. After watching Food, Inc. he made the decision he'd never eat it again. To my surprise, he hasn't. Here it is, almost January, and the only fast food he's consumed since that declaration is a couple Subway sandwiches and an Arby's roast beef. While on vacation we stopped for his traditional Big Breakfast and he didn't even finish it.


I'm so proud. My husband is definitely a burgers and fries guy. And I know he misses the taste, not the particular restaurants. So I created this casserole dinner just for him, as a way to get his fix. This casserole is the perfect dinner for those of us who love burgers and fries. It's a healthier, homemade version to kick that fast food craving.

Cheeseburger Casserole

Serves 4

1 lb ground turkey
S.O.S. mix equivalent to 10.5 oz (prepared)
a decent-sized batch of caramelized onions and mushrooms
22 oz. pkg french fries
1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
Toppings: lettuce, tomatoes and pickles (and other condiments optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a skillet, brown the meat, drain off fat if needed. Place meat in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, mix in the caramelized onions and mushrooms, and S.O.S. mix. Stir until combined. Spoon the meat mixture into a greased casserole dish. Next, top with half the grated cheese and the fries. Bake 30 minutes, and then sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake another 15 minutes, or until the fries are done and cheese is melted. Top with chopped tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce. Drizzle with burger condiments, if desired.


With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wishing You a Christmas to Believe In

I pray y'all take time to cherish today, count your blessings, hug your loved ones, and remember God loves you....so much so He sent His son to save you. Jesus. The most perfect gift.



Matthew West's Christmas song is my new favorite this year. I just cannot stop listening to it, and I tear up every time.

Please take a few minutes to listen to it this Christmas Day, and have a very Merry Christmas

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."  ---Luke 2: 10-14 (NIV)

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi