Monday, April 30, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Eighteen

I'm a sucker for mini challenges, goals, or fasts. I love fasting to clean out my body and soul, to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. Beginning new devotionals for better understanding of God's word. Trying new things for a few days. Omitting things here and there to simplify my week, or to give my body a break.

I was thrilled when one of my fellow bloggers added a weekly challenge to her site, Blogilates. Her first one started on New Year's Day and every week was a different challenge. tampered out around week 8, so I've been creating my own since. I've been doing things like eating the rainbow, completing a chore a day so I'm not overwhelmed on my days off, yoga every morning, making sure I eat breakfast, no dining out, and drinking hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. I was mentioning this to a friend and she wanted to do it with me, suggesting it would be a great topic for my blog. So, here it is.

I'm currently beginning week 18 and thought maybe you'd want to join. The challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. (The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.)

You can start right now. With me. Week 18. Here we go!

This week's challenge:
No sugar!
Source: Yahoo! Images
I had an awful week last week. My allergies were going crazy, and the only thing that seems to help me from sneezing every 5 minutes is something cold on my throat. Which is why it was a bad time for me to discover Ben and Jerry's new Greek Frozen Yogurts. I ate those two pints like crazy. It was wonderful. (You can read about that here.)

Because of my misery, medicine and sugar intake, I've been running a little sluggish since. I need to clean out my body, so I'm avoiding sugar this week. All forms, like processed foods, ice cream, honey, yogurts, white bread/pasta, etc. My coffee will be black this week. (Which means no Starbucks....) But it's okay, I drink my actual coffee black anyway. (Espresso is when I mix it up; although my current obsession is the strong Americano.) My Grandma Bays always said, "You should drink your coffee black because you might not always have cream and sugar available." A wise woman my grandma.

So, if I do get sugar this week it'll be from my fruit intake.

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know and share your thoughts/struggles below!

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. This was a looooong week made extra long when I discovered, Thursday morning on my way to work, that some IDIOT mean person hit my car. Dents, deep scratches, brown paint and a busted taillight. I learned this devastating tidbit because I decided to walk around the other side of my car to place my bags in the passenger seat instead of the back seat. I was in complete shock. Who would do this? It had to have happened while running into the mall or the grocery store. And I was, literally, in each place 10 minutes tops!

2. I cried. Balled my eyes out on the way to work. Heard Daddy in my head with his famous "We can't have anything nice" spiel. Spent the next few hours dreading my lunch break when I'd have to make that awful phone call to Mr. B. declaring I'm incapable of ever driving again because I can't even pick good people to park by.

3. Mr. B made me feel so much better. "It's just a car. It still works," he told me.

4. When I got off work I ran to my car hoping I imagined this whole scenario. Nope.

5. Which is why you should always walk around your car...everywhere! But it won't matter when the other car drives off!!

6. AND I was miserable with a severe case of allergies earlier this week. Completely miserable. Until a co-worker introduced me to the Neti-Pot. I've been meaning to try this contraption for quite some time now. I am now hooked. It's a God-send! I will be making my own purchase very soon.

7. The only other thing that seemed to help my allergies were these beauties:

Ben and Jerry's new Greek Frozen Yogurts. The grocery store had them 2 for $8 and I bought the Peanut Butter and Banana and the Blueberry Graham Monday night. By mid-day Wednesday they were both gone.

Which was devastating because when I arrived home Thursday evening, I was so sad because I desperately needed ice cream and all the ice cream was gone.
Blueberry Graham is my new all-time favorite ice cream...EVER.

8. I'm starting a no sugar week ASAP to make up for my over-indulgence. (And then the week after I'm going to try the other two flavors. Everything in moderation, right?)

9. Then, Thursday Mr. B got home from work only to tell me he dropped his phone and it broke.

10. And then, Friday night he comes home from work to tell me someone ran into the back of his mom's car while she was inside a restaurant. However, this lady came in and admitted it. Her insurance will be fixing the damage. Oh, there are decent people.

11. On a positive note: I have some new post topics I'm bringing to Sweet B's over the next few weeks. So, stay tuned.

12. Oh, and the NFL Draft. Cleveland, the first pick was spot on. But the second....What are you doing?!!!!!! Another QB? And he's almost 30?! When will you realize it's not the QB? Surround him with play makers, please.


Here's to a fantastically better week.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mexican Rice and Broiled Polenta

For Christmas I ordered The Ultimate Daniel Fast Cookbook. As a congregation, my church does an annual fast every January, and my goal is to eventually work up to a full 31-day Daniel Fast. However, when a lot of people (including myself at one point) think about the Daniel Fast, it seems as if you can only eat fruits or veggies. That is not the case. There is so much that you can eat on this fast, and when fasting it is important to focus on what you CAN eat.

Kristen Feola, author of The Ultimate Daniel Fast blog and its coinciding cookbook, offers a plethora of information on the subject of Daniel-fasting. Her blog not only focuses on the fast, but includes food guidelines, recipes and devotionals. These devotionals are a great support system as you journey through your fast. The cookbook also supplies devotionals and Scripture references for fasters throughout their fasts, offering support through God's word and journaling topics.

I was stoked when I finally received my copy of The Ultimate Daniel Fast Cookbook. There are so many delicious meal options, and I can't wait to dive into the recipes even more. Especially when summer comes and more fruits and vegetables are readily available. (And don't cost an arm and a leg.)

This Mexican Rice dish is one of many satisfying recipes offered in this amazing cookbook. But I will warn you...this rice is SPICY. So, go easy with the cayenne and cumin at first. I added some plain Greek Yogurt (since, at the time, I wasn't fasting but just trying out recipes) and it took away some heat. I also paired the rice with broiled polenta. I love polenta. Mr. B....not so much. I just followed my simple go-to polenta recipe.


3 c water
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c cornmeal
dash of garlic powder
handful of fresh basil, chopped

Heat water to boiling in large saucepan and add salt. Slowly add cornmeal, whisking constantly so it doesn't stick together. Stir 20 minutes until polenta is thick and pulls away from sides of pan. Stir in garlic powder and basil. Serve...or broil.

To Broil: Wet a paper towel and rub bottom of casserole dish to prevent sticking. Transfer cooked polenta to dish and pack well. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled, about 2 hours. When ready to serve, preheat broiler. Rub baking sheet with olive oil. Remove polenta from dish and cut into squares. Place squares on prepared baking sheet. Broil, 4" under broiler, until both sides are crispy, about 10 minutes each side.

I hope you give this recipe and Daniel-Fasting a try. Your life, your body, and your relationship with God will benefit greatly.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. I've had like five grilled cheeses this week. I.cannot.get.enough. There is nothing better than a perfectly grilled cheese.

2. And no, Aunt Sis, I'm not pregnant.

3. This pork tenderloin is THE best pork tenderloin in the world. Mr. B and I made it Monday night. Besides the grilled cheese, it's all I can think about. Shut-the-front-door good.

4. I found my friend Jessica's dream kitchen. When I showed her, all she could say was "There's not enough pink." True story. Pink is her signature color.

5.  "My colors are Blush and Bashful." "Her colors are pink and pink....That sancutary looks like it's been hosed down with Pepto-Bismol."

(That's for my friend, Jessica. Not the Jessica up there. My other Jessica. Not my cousin Jessica or my boss Jessica. My other Jessica. Yes, I have Jessicas. Plural. Who doesn't?)

6. As you know, Mr. B and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary this week. He came home early and surprised me with these:

7. And then we went out for Mexican. We've been wanting to try the Mexican place down the road from our house for years. Every time we pass it we say, "We should eat there." Well, we finally did and the fajitas for two was Ah-mazing and soooo much food. Half way through the meal I realized last year we went out for Mexican on our anniversary. I think we just stumbled on a tradition.

8. I can't get over my love for Trisha Yearwood. Obsessed.

9. You would not believe how many people call the library in search of someone's phone number. They all have the same story: She was my long-lost friend. I have her address. I just want to talk..... Here's a heads up. The library does not do your stalker work.

10. Now, I'm off to a Coffee party with my co-workers. I took a few of my favorite things--coffee, cream cheese , ice cream, Starbucks--and threw them into a sinfully tasty graham cracker crust. That's my contribution to the party. I'll share the recipe soon!

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two Years

Today is our two-year anniversary!

Happy Anniversary, Mr. B.

To celebrate, I just wanted to share some of my favorite photographs from our beautiful day. Enjoy!

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Muesli Oatmeal with Strawberries

I feel like it's Monday all over again. I don't even have enough time to cook! (Thank goodness Mr. B assisted with made dinner last night or it would not have been.) Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled and blessed with the number of hours given to me at the library. I'm just trying to get into this new routine. My days are starting much earlier, which means I don't have the time to prepare meals for the day like I used to.

I'm thinking the crockpot is going to become very friendly with my kitchen counter.

And because my weeks are jam-packed,  I need my breakfast bowls to be jam-packed. With goodness. Lots of it.

My grocery store had a new product this week: Muesli. I've been eager to try this breakfast dish but wasn't sure if I'd like it cold or hot. I had some cold the other day and really enjoyed it. But I love oatmeal so much I decided to try it hot.

Muesli is a popular breakfast meal based on uncooked rolled oats with a mixture of cornflakes, fruit and nuts. Similar to my oats, it's a versatile canvas for every season. And I'm a firm believer of using fruits in their seasons.

Which is why I added fresh strawberries to my bowl of Muesli this morning.

The version I bought from the store lacked nuts, so I grabbed a handful of chopped almonds and walnuts and embellished.

I gobbled up this bowl and was satisfied for hours. Yet, I realized, I prefer my Muesli cold. With almond milk. A dash of flax meal. And plain.; no toppings.

I want to keep my oatmeal and Muesli experiences separate. I'm stubborn like that.

Muesli Oatmeal with Strawberries

Serves 1

1/2 c Muesli
1/4 c unrolled oats
1 c water
4-6 strawberries, sliced
1 Tbsp flax meal
Handful of chopped nuts
Optional: splash of almond milk (for desired consistency)

Place Muesli and oats in medium saucepan with water over medium-high heat. Once mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer until desired consistency is reached. A few minutes before finished add strawberries. Pour into bowl and top with flax meal and a few splashes of milk.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. Mr. B informed me there was a Zoup! near my work. I was beyond excited. I never drive that specific way and so I was oblivious to the fact that it had been there for 3 months! And nobody told me. After I found out, I had it for lunch on Tuesday. And once I saw there was plenty of space, I made the executive decision to have our Book Club meeting there on Friday. Their Tomato Basil is my favorite. Sooooo good.

2. Vera Bradley!!!!! On Thursday my family, friends and I headed out to Ft. Wayne, Indiana for the VB Outlet Sale. When I walked into the auditorium, I was so overwhelmed happy I wanted to cry. It was absolutely beautiful.

2.1 Mr. B made the tiny suggestion that I leave my card at home and only use the cash that I brought. Silly man.

3. I wanted everything. My garbage bag was over-flowing by the time I pulled it aside to assess the damage. I had almost $500 worth of VB....and that was the total at sale price. Eeek! I had to put things back or Mr. B would kill me. Or we could go without cable for the rest of the yearI mean we had discussed this possibility before... Hey, don't judge. That thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion.

3.1 Alas, I put more than half back, like another sunglasses case, three purses, an address book, the apron, a curling iron case, flip flops, two wallets and the book bag I desperately coveted. I got all the way to check out with a headphone case (in Watercolor) before I remembered I used big headphones. I don't even like the little ones. Mama gladly took it off my hands.

4. Here's my actual damage: Large Duffel in Lemon Parfait, Good Book Case in Safari Sunset, Mini Hipster in Watercolor, Imperial Toile in Angle Tote (THE hot item of the sale), and Alice in Lemon Parfait. All for under $150.....I saved over $300!
Excuse me for a minute while I lay in my pile.

5. Another bonus of the VB trip...on the way home we stopped for dinner and I ordered a root beer float. I haven't had one of those since my days as a car hop back in high school when I was in desperate need of gas money, and the childish desire to grow up and get a job. What was I thinking? But that root beer float was sinfully delicious.

6. For National Library Week, my place of work held a baked potato staff luncheon. It was divine. I didn't get the memo about dressing up as your favorite book character (my boss was Katniss--LOVED), but I did win Mr. Potato Head.

7. I'm obsessed with these shoes and am convinced these would be darling flats.

8. I can't help it but when I look at this beautiful picture of Miranda Lambert's wedding, I'm filled with intense jealousy. Why didn't I do this for my wedding?! Mr. B. We're getting married again. This summer. ASAP.

9. I'm officially a Goldie! A month and half ago I reached Starbucks' Gold Card status. However, it took them forever to get the card to me. But I received it in the mail last Saturday!!!!! That's right, baby. GOLD.

10. I baked attempted a strawberry cake today. For some reason, the cake did not want to come out of the pan. I was determined to save it. My strawberry cake is now falling down. Ai-yi-yi.

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Berries, Flax and Protein Oatmeal

I don't know if you are aware, but I'm an oatmeal-aholic. If my day doesn't start with a big bowl of oats, I can't function. [Well, technically, I'll manage, but you get my point.]

Oatmeal and strawberries is my absolute favorite combination, with fresh peaches as a close second. But some days I'm just in the mood to shake up my taste buds.

This morning I was craving nut butter and strawberries. Usually I just throw these ingredients on some toast and rush out the door, but since it's Saturday and I'm anything but in a hurry, I decided to heat up some oats. Smartest thing I've done all day.

Berries, Flax and Protein Oatmeal

Serves 1

1/2 c rolled oats (not instant!)
1 c unsweetened almond milk
4-6 large strawberries, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp flax meal
1 Tbsp nut butter (I had almond, peanut and cashew butter on hand)
Optional: 1 Tbsp nonfat cottage cheese, or 1 Tbsp chopped nuts or granola (Depending on how I feel, I'll occasionally throw these in for a little more creaminess or texture.)

Combine oats and milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached. (You can add more or less milk if needed.) Add in berries and cottage cheese, if using. Cook 2-3 minutes more. Spoon into bowl and top with flax, nut butter and any additional toppings. Enjoy immediately!

*NOTE: This bowl of oats can keep me full for hours. But some days I'm not as hungry and I only manage to eat half. When that happens I just put the oats in the fridge and eat it cold as a snack when I get home. Delicious!

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. Happy Easter!

While we're gathering with family today, we're celebrating Christ. Celebrating that Jesus put death in his grave. The glory of God went into hell and brought Jesus out. And he unleashed grace on earth
Mark 10:34 - "And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

Thank you, Jesus, for your incredible work on the cross.

To celebrate this glorious day, here's a video featuring my favorite song. Enjoy!

2. Yesterday we celebrated my Grandpa's 70th birthday. My grandpa loves Golden Corral, so we had a big party for him there. Mr. B and I never go to buffets...unless it's for a party. (We're just not fans of being able to eat an endless amount of food because then you always over eat and feel miserable later.) Anyhoo. Do you know they have cotton candy? That's insane. I felt like I was at a circus. I haven't had cotton candy in forever. Of course, I had to get one. After three bites my teeth felt like they were going to fall out.

2.1 Later that day Mama and Daddy decided to take Mr. B and I to a small ice cream stand on the outskirts of town. I got a small twist cone. It was the size of my head! No joke.

2.2 Good night! I was on a sugar rush like I had never been on before. And then I crashed....hard.

2.3 And then Mama surprised me with two! boxes of Lucky Charms. She got them on sale with her coupons. She's a coupon-holic. Now I'll be swimming in Luckies for a while....if Mr. B doesn't hoard them first.

3. I want to make these candle holders and display them all over my house for my book club friends.

4. Opening Day has come and gone. And my Tribe made MLB history on Thursday...however, we blew it in the 16th. And then we blew it in the 12th yesterday. Mr. B is now ranting about how our season is over and he's going to start rooting for the Reds. (I'm sure Daddy and my brother would be thrilled to have one more on the Cincinnati side.) I don't think Mr. B understands there are 160 games to go....

5. Working as a Reference Assistant at the library has allowed me to answer a plethora of questions that I was unaware the library actually looking for Home Depot's phone number or finding out how much you can sell your Chevy Cavalier for on Craigslist.

5.1 Of course, the first question I answered post-training was about martial law. This had the whole library stumped, and 4 hours of research later we still weren't able to give the patron the information he needed.....there is absolutely nada in print.

6. I stumbled across this on Pinterest, and I HAVE to have it! I don't know where it will fit on our counter, and if I bring one more thing home for the kitchen Mr. B is going to kill me. (Or go on a "tossing" rampage while I'm at work--he keeps threatening--which if he does, and I hope you're reading this, my dear, I'm going to throw the biggest tantrum you have ever seen!)

7. I love this blog, and my mouth is watering just looking at these cupcakes. I need to get my friend Jessica on these ASAP!

8. I was suuuper excited when I finally made it to Robeks this week and saw they are now offering fresh juices. After I went on and on about how excited I was, I vaguely remembered that I knew this already. I even remember them announcing it on Facebook.


9. Ummm....I just found out that Trisha Yearwood is getting her own show on Food Network! It premieres April 14th! Who knew about this and didn't tell me? I thought we were like.this.

10. Because I allowed myself to be side-tracked by other great books (cough, The Hunger Games, cough), I will have to speed read the rest of the A Wrinkle in Time books in hopes of finishing them by Book Club on Friday!!!

10.1 Which reminds me, I need to write a "What I'm Reading" post. I want to hear what great reads you all have picked up lately!

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kitchen Love

It's Tuesday! I hope everyone's week is off to a grand start. I've been so busy I actually thought yesterday was Wednesday. I can't seem to keep my days straight and literally didn't realize it was April until today. All of my students' slips still say it's March. Oops.

But I wanted to take a minute and write a quick post to inform you.....(drum roll, please):

The new Recipage is up for you to view!

Just click on the Kitchen Love tab at the top to find a list and links to those tasty dishes. I will continue to update the page as needed!

Hopefully, ya'll are having a less busy week than I, and have a chance to peruse some recipes.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. It's been one of those days. My breakfast popovers didn't pop, my chips burnt in the oven....I'm afraid to attempt a grilled cheese for lunch. Ughhh.

2.1 I'm still heartbroken over my Buckeye loss last night. I spent the first 5 minutes of post-game staring at the TV in complete denial. Then I shed some tears. Don't laugh. I'm very passionate about my sports teams.

2.2 I'm still proud of them, though, for making it to the Final Four.

3. My new position with the library has made me suuuuuper busy this week. No idea where the week went. I realize it has been a full week since my last post. Sorry!

4. I have to confess. The free time I did have this week was spent watching the entire first season of Downton Abbey. I'm obsessed. Best show on TV. Get on it.

5. I then spent the remainder of my free time stalking the actors on IMDB......Don't judge.

6. Oh. I want summer to be here so I can make these STAT.

7. I also want to sit on my front porch with a tall glass of peach sangria. Problem is I don't have a front porch or a tall glass of peach sangria.

8. Ever have a conversation with someone where you leave with more questions than you had when you started? Yeah. Times that by 10 and that was my Friday.

9.1 I made this for dinner this week. Recipe post is coming soon :)

9.2 Also, I'm hoping to have my Recipage up and running this week. All the recipes will be easier to find in one place.

10. Are you as pumped as I am about tonight's Country Music Awards? After last night, I need some eye candy. And a relaxing bubble bath.

With Love and God Bless,