Thursday, July 31, 2014

Favorites {Blog Series}

In light of recent events, I think it's time for another fun random questions survey here on Sweet B's.

Cheers!

As Janetha mentions on her blog, I too have a hard time picking favorites. I definitely go through seasons when it comes to favorites. My favorite beverages, foods, movies, and clothes are always changing. Honestly, sometimes within the same hour.

So, whoops, some of my FAVORITES may have more than one answer.

Person. I have quite a few favorite people in my life. I married my best friend, the lucky man I want to annoy forever ;)  So let's start with Mr. B, my lobster.


And then, of course, my best GIRLfriend, who never tires of my annoyance, and gets me completely when I say things like, "I don't have a VB purse that does what I need it to do right now." "I just want to walk by Banana Republic." "I went to Starbucks twice today." "Help! I just spent an insane amount of money at Target, and Mr. B is going to kill me." "This plane doesn't even have phalanges!"

And my parents....who know why I am the person I am. And I can't leave out my beloved Grandma Bays, the woman who had the biggest influence on my life.

Color. Purple. Plum to be exact. But I'll never turn down purple-ish anything.

Food. While I do have a favorite food, I love all foods. When asked the question, "What would you eat for your last meal on Earth?" I will more than likely reply that I have my whole last day of food planned. I know what I want for breakfast, lunch, dinner, mid-day snack, dessert, and beverages. But my couscous is definitely my favorite, and I'd just really want to devour an entire bowl of that.

Smell. It changes every time I smell each of these, but these are all my favorites: rain, coffee, the smell of someone burning in the country (most folks would call this a bonfire). Oh, and the smell of a peach will stop me dead in my tracks. I will turn around and probably eat it promptly. But that's a close second to the other three. Oh, and gardenias is tied with that.

Book. Pride and Prejudice. Hands down favorite. But Gone with the Wind, Little Women, and The Princess Bride are close seconds.

Movie. It's a tie between Pretty Woman and Steel Magnolias.

Time of day. Mornings, where I find my quiet time with Jesus, that first cup of coffee, and a gorgeous sunrise. (Preferably from my new deck.)

Day of week. Sunday. It's the Lord's day, and I believe we are to rest and spend it with the ones we love. I love Sunday mornings, going to church and coming home to a big pot of something on the stove or in the oven, lazy Sunday afternoons, and lots of football! Possibly a nap curled up on the couch with the puppy.

Thing to do when bored. I don't get bored. I don't understand when people say they're bored. Well, then do something! I enjoy reading, yoga/working out, walks through the park, cooking/baking, board/card games, coffee with friends, and Netflix. But I guess if I was extremely bored, you'd probably catch me singing and dancing around the house. Or...I might be taking this little guy for a car ride.


Celebrity. Ummm, I'm sure my movie favorites gave that away. It's Julia Roberts. (But I'll never say no to Jeremy Renner.)

Beverage. Coffee!!!!!!! (If you have any doubts, please read this post and then this one.)

TV Show. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Like there is anything else?

Fruit. Peaches. Every time I eat a peach I look at Mr. B and say, "Peaches are my absolute favorite. When someone asks what your wife's favorite fruit is, it's peaches." He then replies, "You say that about every fruit. You said it about strawberries last week." "NO. PEACHES ARE MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE." This conversation exchange happens.every.day.

Vegetables. I'd say tomatoes, but then you'd say that's a fruit, so I'm answering CORN. But just so you know, I can't pick between the two. Mr. B says I must choose one. Why? Why must I choose? When will I ever be in the position where I must choose one over the other?! (Apparently, when answering surveys like this.) Over the last week I've been enjoying on average two ears a day. It's the best.

Store/Shop. Target. Banana Republic. Starbucks. Vera Bradley Outlets.

Workout. YOGA. All kinds, any time of day. (But I do like a good kickboxing class.)

Quote. Here are a few current favorites....

"But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength." --2 Timothy 4:17

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." --Harper Lee

 "Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful." --Hazrat Inayat Khan

"You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches." --Unknown

Potato chip flavor. Hmmm, I am not a chip fan, so when it comes down to this snack I would say tortilla chips. Or better yet, pita chips.

Meal of the day. BREAKFAST! I am a firm believer about starting your day right. Your body has fasted all night long, and it needs something to kick start your day. Whether it's coffee and an apple with almond butter, juice/smoothie, a bowl full of oats, or a full plate of eggs and waffles, you'll never find me missing this meal.

Ice cream flavor. Coffee! or something with peanut butter in it. And it has to be a peanut butter ripple, not peanut butter cups. YUM.

Season. Fall. Of course, it's Fall.

Dessert. Well, it used to be cheesecake, which I treated myself to twice a year (my birthday and Mama's Thanksgiving Cheesecake Special). But as I said, in light of recent events, I'm sticking with ice cream. Homemade. In a bowl. A Sundae. Waffle cone, only please. Full-fat variety. Fro-yo. Gelato. Even my banana "ice cream." Yes, I'm a fan of them all. People who say they don't care for ice cream (Mr. B included), who are you? I don't think I've ever been more dumbfounded by any other statement.


Lifehack. Using a straw to pit your cherries. Bring on the pie, please! (BTW, I found this question to be quite random.)


With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dessert of the Month

Hi. I'm just going to come right out and tell y'all I had planned on sharing some fantastic "Dessert of the Month" review post today.

I was going to make this mouth-watering cheesecake over the weekend (because today is National Cheesecake Day!) but life had other plans. Like the oven not working. The broiler worked. The stove top worked. But no oven. Funny thing though, it worked seven hours ago when I made this fantastic Cheddar-Apple Brunch Tart for my jewelry party earlier that Saturday.

My graham cracker crust was ready to go in and I was about to mix the cream cheese until delightfully smooth when I realized the oven should have preheated already. NOPE. Nada. "Nuttin'!" (<---Yukon Cornelius, anyone?)

Not awesome. Not okay. By gosh, I wanted cheesecake! It's bad enough cheesecake is already a two-day process with a working oven. Remember when this happened to me last year? Why does the oven go out when I'm ready to make a planned-weeks-in-advance-delicious dessert for family???

"Because our oven is 21 years old," Mr. B tells me.


It's of drinking age, and apparently this weekend it had one too many.

Alas, I covered the unbeaten cream cheese, and the not-yet-golden crust, and put everything back in the fridge with sweet dreams of waking up to an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Hey, it worked before. Not this time. Sunday found Mr. B and I shopping for a new stove. It's currently on back order and will not arrive until August 9th. No oven. No grill. Makes for one raw summer.

But, I couldn't get over not enjoying my belated birthday cheesecake. It was lemon, too, my favorite. I needed to finish it, and I was not waiting two weeks. This led to a surprise visit to the in-laws to use the oven and enjoy an unexpected dinner with promises of providing cheesecake for dessert...but not until tomorrow (because it's a two-day process kind of dessert, you know. Ugh). So now we had to wait until Monday.

I should have known starting with a broken oven was a bad sign and should have abandoned the entire dessert. Settled for a creamy frappuccino or a big cone of ice cream. But no, I was determined to make this cheesecake. Apparently, I was so worried/paranoid about my in-laws oven possibly not working, I pulled the cheesecake out at the said time, gave it a jiggle, decided there was a little too much wiggle, and put it back in. (Only then realizing the recipe mentioned a 13" pan and I was using a 9"pan. I need to compensate for the height, so more time shouldn't hurt.) I'm pretty sure I over-compensated. And while fretting over whether or not it was baked enough in the middle, while transporting it to a cooling rack I burnt.the.heck.out.of.my.arms. OUCH.

My burns three days later...
"At least it's uniform," Mr. B tells me.

Ai yi yi. Then the cake fell in the middle when I gently spooned on the Greek yogurt topping (instead of sour cream). Finally, I took my sad little cheesecake home to finish the glaze on our stove top because, yes, that was working.

It was a disaster from the start. Hopefully, a night in the fridge would bring it back to life.


Guess what I had Monday morning for breakfast?

Lemon cheesecake. It was more like a lemon cheesecake trying its hardest to be a lemon cheesecake, yet it had all the angst of the oven dilemma in it. Instead of love, of course. You know, the it's so good because it's made with love saying? Yeah, well mine was made with over-worked patience and burnt arms. And, to me, it tasted like it. Over-cooked, not enough pucker in the cheesecake, and (believe it or not) not enough sugar in the not-as-yellow-as-the-photo glaze.

My worst cheesecake-making experience ever.

I guess there's a reason I only make this once a year. And now that I'm trying to enjoy it, I don't really think I like cheesecake as much as I used to. I'm definitely retracting it as my favorite dessert. Yes, I'm positive ice cream is my favorite.

BUT. Let me tell you about this crust. The recipe called for butter, but I used coconut oil instead and cut the sugar in half. Ohhhh.Emmmm.Geeeee. I will make my cheesecake crust no other way from now on I promise you. And I'm not a crust person, so this is saying a lot. Actually, I just want to eat the entire crust while I pretend to eat the cheesecake.

Of course, a second opinion is always needed. Later that Monday, the in-laws were stopping by for some of their promised dessert, and as I walked out the door I hastily told Mr. B to send the entire cheesecake with them if they liked it. After work, while driving home I thought about trying the cheesecake again just to see if I still felt the same way. And if I did, well there was always the crust. It seems Mr. B was actually listening when spoken to this morning, and sent the entire cheesecake home with them. Just a tad bummed, I settled for a deli sandwich before bed instead.

However, my in-laws seemed to enjoy the cheesecake, saying it was very delicious. Yesterday morning even, I received a text from my step father-in-law (Happy Father-in-Law Day, by the way) saying it was even better the next day.

I guess it wasn't too much of a disaster. To each his own....


Cheers to National Cheesecake Day. Yum.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Sweets

My brother. Gosh, I miss him.



He was here last week, and of course I had a program every day and couldn't take any time off to visit (except for a few morning hours on my birthday). But thankfully we spent some quality time together a couple of weekends ago when he was here as Mama and Daddy's huge surprise. Our parents renewed their wedding vows a few weeks ago and, sadly, they didn't think my brother was able to fly in for the weekend ceremony. Parents. Little do they know.




I haven't seen Cody since last summer. The pains of adulthood, living in different states, hectic schedules, and money reserved for bills, loans, and mortgages. Being an adult is overrated. I feel as if all those childhood years together were taken for granted.

Yet, I'm beyond proud of the responsible and awesome man he has become. And I just needed to share.

Happy (blog belated) Birthday, Cody!


I cannot wait until Christmas!!!


This makes me laugh. Can't stop.... This would be us.

Happy Sunday! I pray you all are enjoying this day with family (and siblings if you have 'em!).

It's an [Irish] twin thing.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Thursday, July 24, 2014

4. Mr. Darcy

The puppy love of my life.


I love him and I can't get enough. Can't.get.enough. He is the most handsomest pup in all the land, I tell you. Oh, and boy does he know it!


What a stud. I can't believe this little pup has been in our lives for almost three months now. And he's growing so fast!! He has the attitude of a tween-ager for sure. Remember how I bragged about how smart and brilliant he was at 9 weeks, bell-trained and everything? Umm, yeah. After I posted that, the next day he tore the bell off the wall and refuses to go near it. He can be in the other room, and as soon as he hears somebody accidentally bump it on the counter, he'll come tearing into the kitchen like a wild banshee ready to tear the thing to bits. Since then, he just sits and stares at the door when he needs to go out, which is awesome but a lot less "alerting" to the humans.

Oh, and he likes to be fancy. He has taste, y'all.


10 Things About Mr. Darcy:
  1. He does not like toys with stuffing in them. If you give him one, he will immediately chew it to bits.
  2. He prefers his lemonade with strawberries, thank you very much.
  3. He can't wait to howl along with the clock chimes every hour on the dot.
  4. He loves chasing ice cubes around the house on hot days. And on particularly miserable and humid hot days, you will find him plopped down in front of his fan. (But he'd much rather sit inside the fridge.)
  5. When Daddy leaves for work in the morning, he can't wait to plop down on his pillow and sleep in with Mama. And then, of course, Mama would much rather snuggle with him than get in an early yoga session.
  6. He gets super excited when Mama let's him lick the empty nut butter jar.
  7. After walking through the park, he insists Daddy drives him around the block so he can feel the wind in his ears as he hangs out the car window for a much needed cool down.
  8. He loves snacking on carrots, but a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese are his favorites.
  9. He can play tug-of-war for an hour and not get bored. He's awfully kind about it too, making sure you have enough of the super slobbery end so you won't lose your grip when he fixes to tug like crazy. Bless him.
  10. He's exactly like Daddy. Doesn't want to be cuddled, sleeps through thunderstorms, and moves about 50 hundred times before finding the perfect spot in front of the fan.
As I said before, he's cute and he knows it.


I can't bear being away from him. Going to work most mornings and saying good bye is heart-wrenching (for us both, I'm sure). Actually, I contemplated (once or twice) not taking our vacation trip to Maine this fall because the idea of leaving him all by his lonesome, with my in-laws or boarded, just breaks my heart. Maybe we could take a shorter trip and take him with us? [Let's keep this thought between us. Mr. B doesn't need to know everything, mmm'kay?]


He's Mama's favorite.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Monday, July 21, 2014

Latest Snacking Obsession {Review}

I've been MIA this past week. I apologize. But it was my birthday. I celebrate all week long. ( <--- read all month long, actually.) I'm a huge fan of birthdays, and everybody's birthday should be a special day spent doing your favorite things with the people you love. Last year my bestie treated me to a picnic lunch at the Cleveland Museum with a side tour of the Botanical Gardens (where, at the time, she worked). Oh, and THE Starbucks stop must. It was a beautiful and hot day, of course. I melted. This year was quite different and it was absolutely wonderful. I've never celebrated my birthday week in jeans and long sleeves. What glorious chilly weather! Perfection.


This week Mr. B surprised me with a half dozen balloons to celebrate (and, yes, those will be tied there until they're dragging on the floor and Mr. Darcy tries to take off with them). I adore balloons; nothing shouts "SPECIAL OCCASION" like balloons. And candles. Balloons and candles are a must.

Allow me to quickly throw out a few other words regarding my week/weekend birthday celebrations in order to avoid an overly-long detailed celebration post, and to quickly get to the actual point of today's review obsession.

Multiple Starbucks trips.
Ice.cream.every.day.
A Mexican dinner outing where I ended up with a big sombrero on my head and a chorus of loud off-key singing.
FAMILY.
Daddy's ribs.
My favorite food dish of all time.
Birthday Sundae Bar.
Lots of puppy time.
Oak Ridge Festival.
More coffee.
Birthday wishes.
Sleeping in past 6 A.M.


And these tasty power snack balls. <---point of this post (See? I'd get to it eventually....)

These are fabulous. My pastor's daughter, Stephanie, and daughter-in-law, Amber, came together to create a wonderful web site called, Wild Saints. {Please head on over and check it out!} It's a new project, and on here these talented and gorgeous ladies provide DIY tips, fashion, kid-friendly recipes, videos, and more on their blog. In one of their YouTube videos, they shared this lovely snack recipe. Y'all, I was all over it. When I finished watching, I went straight to my pantry, brought out all the ingredients, and quickly mixed up a batch (fitting the recipe to my own tastes, of course). Because of the size I made my balls, I was able to get two dozen out of one batch. This will vary depending on the size of your balls. I cannot stop eating these. A huge fan of them, I decided to bring the ingredients to work and let the tweens in my yoga program make these as their healthy snack. They loved them. So did the parents. My co-workers devoured the leftovers. I came in the next day bombarded with multiple "When are you making these again?" demands.


The only thing I did differently than the original recipe is omit the vanilla and replace it with water. The snack balls are sweet enough with the honey, you won't even know you're missing it. If extra liquid is needed, just add a few tablespoons of water. (And, you know, I like the darkest chocolate you can find.) Definitely cannot get enough of these. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Mid-day snack. Late-night snack. Crumbled on yogurt. Fan-freaking-tastic. I think it tastes like cookie dough. I keep mine chilled, and eat them straight from the freezer.

However, I'd like to get the sugar content a tad lower since I'm liking these for an everyday breakfast snack ball. (They go perfectly with my morning cup o' Joseph.) Otherwise they're perfect for a "dessert" when eating clean, and as the ladies suggested, or as travel treats.

A few days later I brought another batch into work to share because it was the day-before-my-birthday treat.

'Cookie Dough' Power Snack Balls
*recipe slightly adapted from Wild Saints

Makes 20-24 snack balls

2 c dry quick oats
1 c chopped 85% dark chocolate (or your favorite dark chocolate chips)
1 c ground flax seed
1 c raw almond butter
2 T chia seeds
scant 2/3 c honey

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. (If too dry, add in 1-2 T water.) Roll mix into balls and set on platters to chill in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Keep stored and covered with wax paper in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Nutritional information per snack ball (varies depending on size of ball; I got 24 balls): 145 Calories, 8 Fat, 5 Protein, 4 Fiber, 8 Sugar

*I know, you're asking where's my birthday cheesecake? It's coming. I'm still celebrating. Hello 28!

**Oh, and don't forget to check out my 30 Before 30 List. I'm working my way through it...slowly.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Currently



I'm currently....

Watching.... The Immigrant. Jeremy Renner's indie movie, which came out last year in other countries, never hit theaters here and it yesterday became available on Netflix. After waiting over a year for this movie, I was super excited and got up extra early this morning to watch it before heading into work. No wonder it never made it to theaters. Not enough JLR that's for sure. And I don't think the plot line was solid, and there was way too much unnecessary showing of...stuff that I fast forward most of the movie. And he's not even in it that much!!! Definitely a movie to skip...grrr. Thankfully, JLR's Kill the Messenger will be hitting theater's this October.

Eating.... fruit and sandwiches. Can't.get.enough. I just had the juiciest peach of the year for a mid-morning snack. OhhEmmGee. I've been all over Peach Caprese lunches and putting berries in my mugs of fresh lemonade, and the sandwiches at Starbucks are deeelicious. Hello, Summer.


Planning.... the finishing touches on our new deck, which demolition removal started today!! FINALLY. It's been an irritating five weeks.

Reading.... Ugh. Ever his a reading slump? Well, I never have past two books. That's been my previous running streak of must-abandon-because-I-don't-have-time-for-this-awful-writing-excuse-for-a-book. Until this past month. If it's not a non-fiction book about food/health or a children's literature book, then it's been completely awful and I abandoned every one. I'm talking a bad five in a row here, one of which included the highly-praised The Goldfinch. What?! Who ARE you people that think this was 5-star great?! One of my co-worker's agrees. I'm picking up Fangirl next, and hoping to get out of this rut.

Inspired by.... my yoga programs at work. Especially my tween one last night. These young girls are definitely inspiring, not just in their attempts at practicing yoga, but in their dreams, journaling, goals...just hearing their chit-chat. Gah, I love my job.

Excited about.... MY BIRTHDAY!!! It's my birthday month, week, weekend! Woot. Woot. Celebrating with the family all weekend, which is exactly what I'll need once this hectic week comes to a close. Six programs in five days. In the midst of Summer Reading. Who was I when I planned this schedule back in April? Just stick me with an espresso IV.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Marketplace + a Kale "Chipotle" Bowl


Mr. B and I spent the morning of July 4th walking around the Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market. It's a huge deal around these parts, and I love going and finding great deals on produce, gifts, and little knick-knacks you didn't know you needed. Hartville Marketplace is open on a daily basis (except Sundays), but the outdoor farmer's market has shorter hours, and the mass flea market is featured on special holiday weekends, like 4th of July, Labor Day, and their biggest event, Memorial Day Weekend. People come from all over during these weekends, and it can get quite crowded and fast. Fortunately, we live less than 10 minutes away and can get there nice and early. Besides the fantastic Marketplace, a restaurant, collectibles shops, and gigantic hardware store are also in the area. (And that hardware store is insane!)



Anyhoo, it was definitely less crowded on The Fourth than when we went with my in-laws during the Memorial Day Weekend event. Holy frijoles. (Oh, but it was so much fun, and I found the cutest birthday/Christmas gifts. <--- Hey, it's never too early to shop.) This time I stumbled upon a quaint little coffee shop, and purchased these fabulous coasters, perfect for my coffee bar.



Along with the coasters, Mr. B and I scored on a plethora of produce, including blackberries, cherries(!), leeks, baby potatoes, tomatoes, and kale. A ton of kale.

However, by mid-week I realized I'd forgotten completely about most of the kale now dying in my fridge. So the other night I was determined to not let any of it go to waste; I was salvaging every last leaf. Kale salad. Sauteed kale. Kale chips. A list was running through my head of all the different ways I could quickly use up my leafy greens. But then on my drive home I really craved Mexican. Chipotle to be exact. But, as most of you know, Mr. B and I hardly eat out, and very rarely do we ever during the week. While it would have been much easier on my tired self to drive us to Chipotle, yet by the time we would have arrived (almost a half hour away), waited in the looonnnggg line, and then paid, I could have made a simple dinner using up the already bought ingredients at home. And that's just what I did.



With a couple (wilted) bunches of kale on the counter, and Chipotle on the brain, I did my best to use up my produce to create a quick and delicious meal of my own. Voila! My Chipotle inspired Kale Bowl. Mr. B thoroughly enjoyed this.



Kale "Chipotle" Bowl

Serves 4

1-2 huge bunches of kale, chopped (once sauteed, about a cup and a half)
1-2 T olive oil
1 1/2 c brown rice, cooked (I like mine with a decent amount of lime juice, and cilantro if I have it on hand.)
1 lb. lean ground turkey
homemade taco seasoning
3/4 c water
1 c zucchini, chopped
1 c leeks, chopped
1 c corn
1 c black beans
salt and pepper, to taste
toppings: tomatoes, avocado, plain Greek yogurt, salsa (cheese and tortillas, optional)

In a large pan, over med-high heat, saute kale in olive oil. Set aside. In same pan, cook ground turkey, chopped zucchini and leeks (use onions here if you don't have leeks). Once almost cooked, drain grease if needed, add corn, black beans, taco seasoning, and water. Simmer until thickened and water is absorbed, stirring often. Taste and, if needed, add salt and pepper. Assemble bowl: start with a layer of kale, a big spoonful of rice (I always keep a container of cooked rice in the fridge; it makes for a fast dinner ingredient), and a helping of the turkey mixture. Next top with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, yogurt, and a small dab of salsa. Or you can take Mr. B's route and enjoy it all on a flour tortilla or two.

Nutritional Information per serving (w/o tortilla and cheese, or topping options): 
510 Calories, 14 Fat, 38 Protein, 9 Fiber, 3 Sugar

And if you're ever in the Northeast Ohio Akron/Canton area, visit the Hartville Marketplace. It's a great day trip! Can't wait to run up there and do a produce re-stock this Monday.

With Love and God Bless,
Brindi

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Little Wednesday Inspiration

Because I need a whole lot of Jesus today. And maybe someone else does, too.


Newsboys' "We Believe" came on the radio today as I made my drive into work. There's no better feeling knowing God is bigger than whatever difficulties, struggles, differences, annoyances, hurts, or dilemmas I may be facing. No matter how copious or trifling.

Hebrews 12:2  says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,who for the joy set before endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (NIV) There are no truer and comforting words, my friends.


With Love and God Bless,
Brindi