Monday, October 29, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-Four

A lot of my meals last week were centered around green vegetables....primarily zucchini and broccoli. It was so good. I really enjoyed choosing a vegetable as the main ingredient and finding other items to go with it. It was a lot of fun, and I felt healthy and found it easier to get my daily dose of veggies.

But I did struggle with a few of my meals.....which leads me into this week's challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Don't eat in the car.

Just had to share this picture. Too cute.
I was a little lazy with a few of my work lunches. Instead of eating the salad I prepared or waiting until dinner, I stopped a few times on the way home for a hold-me-over kind of snack. Each time I regretted it. And the shocking thing is I never do this. Mr. B and I may get Subway or Burger King (his favorite) once a month. I don't know what came over me last week, but I need to nip it in the bud now.

So, if I find myself getting hungry on my long drive home I'm making sure I have water or hot tea with me to hold me over until dinnertime. To keep me occupied. However, with this weather (thanks to Sandy), I'm sure I'll be heading straight home.

Does anyone else occasionally have this problem?

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sweet B Turns One


A year ago today I embarked on my own blog journey. And it's been fun, eventful, liberating, inspirational, and delicious.

Some of my favorite (and most popular) posts were about Lucky Charms, my favorite cookies, my first story time, holiday baking with my best friend, a delightful salad, themed parties, a variety of sweetsa new home, and my life in the library.

I have some ideas in motion and plans for Sweet B's Impressions this next year, including more recipe reviews, fitness posts, book talks, and challenges. But, most importantly, I want to share more of my family dishes and my faith. I feel those were the two topics which motivated me to begin my blog in the first place, and I need to bring them to the forefront. My faith is my foundation and food is what brings people together at the table, where we share our days and love for each other. Actually, food and faith are equally present at my dinner table, and I'm encouraged to display that here on Sweet B's.

I'm happy to share my life and food with others, and am always happy to inspire new dishes and change in my readers' lifestyles. I'm very thankful and blessed that friends, family and strangers take the time to read what I have to say or cook. Please continue to comment, sharing your thoughts...and I really enjoy reading what you have to say....and feel free to suggest any recipes or challenges you may like to see on Sweet B's. I love hearing from you all.

It has been one year (and it went so fast) and I knew I had to celebrate in some way.

One of my favorite go-to desserts when company drops by or I need to make when short on time is the puff pastry. It's a blank canvas, allowing me to constantly invent new desserts with whatever ingredients I have on hand. It's lovely. It's delicious. It's fabulous.

I call these my Puffs. I've made Banana-Peanut Butter Puffs, Apple-Caramel Puffs, Berry and Cream Puffs, and many more. BUT, I have one rule: No more than five ingredients....including the puff pastry dough. So I thought what better way to celebrate turning one than to share one of my classic Puffs. And what do I have an abundance of in my refrigerator...strawberries. So here it is, my Balsamic Strawberry Puff. (Ohhh, strawberries and balsamic vinegar....a favorite combo.)

Balsamic Strawberry Puff
*Serves 6

1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
strawberries, sliced
balsamic vinegar
whipped topping (I'd prefer vanilla ice cream here, but I was all out.)

Unfold the puff pastry as directed on package and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprayed really well). Pinch up the sides, creating an edge so the filling won't fall out. Arrange strawberry slices on top of pastry. Brush berries with equal parts honey and balsamic vinegar.  (Make sure the berries are coated, but not soaking wet.)  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Garnish with whipped topping and serve warm.

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sunday Sweets (On a Saturday Night)

1. I've been going crazy because my desk looked like this all week.

I'm getting ready for my Halloween program this coming Tuesday, and let's just say I hope they enjoy it. I put so much work into this. To say I'm excited is a huge understatement.

2. Also, I plan to go as Clifford, The Big Red Dog. (He turned 50 this year!) FYI...not really going all out for this don't get too excited.

3. Friday's Preschool Story Time was a little crazy. Twenty-one kids dressed in costumes, some candy and toys, a ghost craft and Halloween stories would get anyone riled up. While helping some other kiddos cut out eyes for their ghosts, I heard this loud crying begin behind me. I mean the kind where the kid is screaming bloody murder. It was the toddler who came with his older cousin; his costume of choice was TIGGER. :)

Anyhoo, he would not stop screaming-crying, and finally the mom knew something was wrong. He tripped over his own feet and fell, but now could not move his arm. It looked like it might be broken. The mom was panicking because she's from Virginia and was driving back tonight and didn't want to spend all day at the ER. I helped them out to the parking lot. Apparently the kid had fallen before and fractured his other arm. I have no idea how this ended. All I know is they thanked me for a great story time and left.

Ai yi yi. Tales of the Library.

4. My friends and I celebrated our friend's (Jessica #2) birthday today.

 Happy Birthday, Jessica H.!

5. It was a "50 Shades of Pink" themed party. Not that any of us have read the book...she just LOVES pink.

6. This 80-degree weather a week away from November is ridiculous. At least the hubby was able to take a day off and weather-proof the deck. But I was still able to help with the leaves when I got home...AND he let me rake them into a HUGE pile.

7. You won't believe this, but Mr. B broke his pinkie toe earlier today when he ran into the couch, which happened about an hour after he ran into a dining room chair.

8. I can't help it. I'm already in Thanksgiving-Christmas mode. <3

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cookie Dough Oats {At My Desk}

Some days I can't seem to get out of bed. Although, I consider myself a morning person.

Here's the deal: My alarm will go off and I'll set it for a half an hour later, but I never (NEVER) fall back asleep. I just lay there thinking, Brindi, get up. But I don't....95% of the time. I watch the sun come up (or, as of now, lack there of) and jump out of bed in a hurry. Why I do this to myself I don't know. But I know me, so I am prepared.

Most days I eat my breakfast at work because I don't have time to even think about breakfast as I'm rushing around trying to look presentable for the day. I just grab my black coffee (and a piece of fruit, if I'm lucky,) and go.

But I have to eat breakfast. It's so important to eat that first meal, to get my metabolism going for the long day ahead. I am big on this. NO skipping breakfast! Therefore, I eat my oats at my desk.

I love oatmeal (if you're new to Sweet B's check out these other oatmeal recipes) and I prefer it hot, thick, with cottage cheese and fruit. But I don't have the time to make it on the stove, nor does the break room have a stove, and I'm not a huge fan of the microwave kind. So, I found a way to eat my oats like cold cereal. (I also like overnight oats, using chia seeds, but most nights I forget to make it.)

I have everything ready to go. I just add my oats, spices and protein powder. Mix in a little nut butter, (or peanut butter in this case....I'm out of my almond butter!!) until its consistency is like cookie dough (hence the name), add a splash of milk, and eat.

This is quite filling and a little bit goes a loooong way.

Cookie Dough Oats

Serves 1

scant 1/4 c oats (not the instant kind)

1 tsp vanilla soy protein powder
dash of sea salt
dash of cinnamon
pinch of ground flax seed
1 Tbsp nut butter
splash of 1% milk (or sometimes almond milk)

To be honest, I don't measure. Add to your liking. Oats go in the bowl first. Next add in protein powder, salt, cinnamon and flax seed. Mix in nut butter until cookie dough-like consistency. Pour in your milk and enjoy.
Simple and filling!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, October 22, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-Three

Okay, so didn't get around to making my Harvest Garland, but I did a lot of crafting at work this week...AND I organized all of my scrapbooking stuff!

It's been over a year (cough, closer to two, cough) since I last scrapbooked, and I miss it. I have all of this stuff that's not being used and so much has happened (like I could scrapbook about the house!) and I'm soooo far behind. But now that I've re-organized it, I've re-kindled my crafting flame.

I'm super bummed because a connect group at my church, The Scrapping Ladies, gathers together every other Saturday morning at the church and scrapbooks for an hour. They all bring in snacks and ideas to share. I was stoked when I heard about the group and even more stoked because I have every other Saturday off. Too bad the Saturdays they scrap are the same Saturdays I work. BUMMED.

But hopefully now I have the motivation to scrap on my own again.

Now, let's move onto this week's challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Choose a vegetable and center your meal around it.

I probably should have completed this challenge back in July, when all of the veggies were in abundance and cheap(er), but with the cold weather coming I'm craving heavy, comfort food. And to keep these favorite dishes a little on the lighter side, I'm adding in veggies. But I'm not just adding, I'm centering my dishes around these healthy foods. Like tonight I'm making a pasta dish to go with zucchini, carrots and peppers. I also bought a ton of frozen broccoli, so I'm sure many of my meals this week will be focused on that.

Instead of eating my veggies as a side, I want them front and center in the main course.

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beauty Burgers


It's all about the beans. THE beans. The BEANS.

I'm finally sharing my Black Bean Burger recipe. And it's not because I didn't want to share, I just haven't gotten around to it.

And it's not even my recipe.

I stumbled across it last summer while browsing the various blogs I read on a weekly basis. I found this recipe on Jenna's blog, Eat, Live, Run. This is one of the top three blogs I must visit every day, and her book, White Jacket Required, came out recently and it went straight to the top of my to-read list. I find her blog to be very inspirational, with healthy recipes, travel posts, and great book reviews.

But let me tell you about these burgers. I.cannot.get.enough. I would eat these every day if I could. Which technically I could if I would just make them.

I probably make these every other week. Mr. B frowns upon them (even though he has never tried one), so all six bean patties are mine. Therefore they should last me a week. Nope. I'll be lucky if these beauties last me three days...they're that good.

As soon as I make a batch, I have to eat one. Then I package them up for my work lunches.

I eat one for lunch, sometimes one and a half. And I have every intention of saving the rest for later in the week. But then I get home and I'm starving. They make a great snack. Oh, these are so good.

I think these are why I can't eat ground beef anymore. It doesn't even sound good. Last night I even thought I'd be excited because I made meatloaf; you know, THE Best Meatloaf, and I don't make it's a special treat for me (or it used to be). I took one bite and that wasn't even good anymore. I had to force myself to eat it. I don't know what my deal is. I just know I love these Black Bean Burgers...and turkey burgers.

Just look at the caramelization.

You want that.

These are a must try! Thank me later.

Black Bean Burgers
*slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Makes 6 patties

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp ground flax + 3 Tbsp water (this is your flax egg)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp cumin
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen...frozen, thawed)
olive oil (or canola oil)  for frying burgers

In a small bowl, mix together the ground flax and water. Let sit for five minutes.Add garlic and one can of beans to a food processor (or high speed blender) and pulse to combine. Add cumin and salt, pulsing until mixture resembles chunky black bean dip. Transfer the black bean mixture to a large bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, tomato sauce, flax and corn. Stir well until everything is combined. Add remaining black beans. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Form black bean mixture into patties and fry for about 4 minutes per side, until golden and crusty brown.

[That's simple!]

I usually just eat these plain and cold....straight out of the fridge. Delicious.

But sometimes, when I'm feeling ambitious, I eat them like this.

Topped with an avocado-Greek yogurt mixture and a tomato. With a side of lime tortilla chips.


With Love and God Bless,

Monday, October 15, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-Two

I made my Chicken Divan for last week's challenge and you can find the recipe here. It's amazing and so mouth-watering good. I hope you all had a chance to make your favorite dishes or current cravings as well.

I'm a little short on time so I'm making this post short. Now let's get to our new challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Get Crafty.

I've been meaning to make my own version of that fall garland, and this week I am finding the time to get crafty. And I'm hoping once I get started, my craftiness takes over because I have a list of holiday crafts a mile long.

So, borrowing this from Clinton on The Chew, "It's Brindi's Craft Corner. Let's craft!"

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. The high for today is low 70s. That's nice. Now I can't have my fire because that would be dumb. But the sun shining on the fall colors and the wind carrying the leaves is just gorgeous.

2. Don't you just hate when you plan all day to watch a movie and you get home and realize you don't actually own that movie. Yeah, happened to me on Friday. I just finished reading Breakfast at Tiffany's (which is our book club read for the month) and I wanted to watch the movie. I was excited all day anticipating a relaxing evening comparing notes and getting my dose of Audrey Hepburn. But nooooo, I don't own that movie.

Source: Yahoo! Images

3. So I watched P.S. I Love You instead, and spent most of the night bawling. Why I do it to myself I don't know.

Source: Yahoo! Images

4. Watching my Brownies and hoping we might win one game this year. Ugh, heartbreak. At least I have this tasty snack plate to keep me happy. I've been obsessed with fresh strawberries combined with fresh mozzarella. So good.

And I have some maple-coated pistachios. Mmmm

5. I also have some Pumpkin Pie Granola in the oven. Really interested in trying this...I'm not a huge pumpkin fan so we'll see. But the house smells lovely.

6. Wait, TOUCHDOWN!!!!!! Sorry, where were we?

7. I want to have people over for dinner so I can make this pretty centerpiece.

I mean we have a ton of wood out there. I don't think Mr. B would mind if I used one piece.

8. Is it bad that I'm enjoying all of the Christmas decor in the stores already? Or that I'm super excited for Black Friday? :)

9. And I really want this and this for Christmas!!

Please and thank you.

10. Here's a little inspiration for your Sunday.

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, October 12, 2012

Yes, I'm a Children's Librarian

I've been a Children's Librarian for eight months now and I still get asked by family and friends if I just sit around and read books all day.

It's okay. I have no problem explaining what I do. I LOVE my job. And I LOVE even more that every day is different. Yes, I might have Preschool Story Time (PSST) every Tuesday night, but each program is different, the crafts are different and the entire day before the program is different than last Tuesday or the Tuesday before. LOVE IT.

I remember when I told Daddy I was going to grad school to become a children's librarian he laughed and said, "You mean you're going to pay all that money just to tell people 'Shhhh'?" Daddy was joking with me, but there are so many people out there who think that is all librarians do. The books magically appear on the shelves, the programs just happen and all the while my nose is in a book...except when I have to tell people to "Hush, you're in a library." ( don't really have to "hush" because libraries aren't what they used to be...grant it, you can't go screaming, running and answering your phone...please be respectful of others...but you are allowed to talk in the library....GASP.)

So, to answer a few (repeated) questions, I decided to blog about my life as a Children's Librarian.

Here's a little peek into what my yesterday looked like:

The day didn't start off as well as I had planned. When it's pitch black out, it's hard to get out of bed, and of course I hit the snooze a few too many times leaving me barely enough time to get dressed and out the door...forget about breakfast or coffee. But I did take my OJ and a protein bar on the road. On Thursdays I have to be to work by 8:30, and since I have a decent drive ahead of me I need to leave the house by 7:40 at the latest.

8:30-9:00 a.m. First thing when I get to work I check my email and phone messages. I also check to see what programs I have going on that day, and what my co-workers have going on at their branches.

Then I get started on a to-do list for the day...I am all about making lists. If not, I don't know what I'm doing or where I am. This helps me prepare for my upcoming programs and such.

Since yesterday was Thursday, I had Toddler Tales.

Toddler Tales is a program I give every Thursday for children (19-35 months) and their caregivers. And since it's in high demand, I offer the program at 10:00 and again at 11:00 (both fill up and I usually have a waiting list).

After I figured out what I was doing for the day, I had to ready the cart for the programs...making sure I had the right CD, book, puppets, props, registration sheet, script, etc.

9:00-10:00 a.m. The library opens at 9 am, so once the doors are unlocked I open my office door (if I'm going to be working in the back for a bit) or I start-up the computer at my desk out on the floor (in the children's department). Out on the floor is where I need to be, but occasionally I'll have work that I need to do in the back office...I'm often running back and forth.

On Thursdays I immediately head out to the floor because my toddlers will be in soon and it gets busy.

I don't need to start setting up the room until about 9:15, so I take 15 minutes to tidy up the children's department. I did not close the day before and knowing the teen librarian wasn't there either, I'm sure a lot happened between 5 and 8 p.m.

While tidying up I pull a few presidential-themed books because I'm planning to replace the Banned Book display with a Voting display.

Here's a snapshot of my office desk. Allow me to give you a tour.
Starting on the left top shelf I have a huge bag full of corks. Last month I needed corks for Crafty Kids and the library staff collected a ton for me. Next are various picture books, CDs, and props I pulled for upcoming Preschool Story Times (PSST) that fit into our chosen themes ("It's a Colorful World," "Just Say Boo!," and "Let's Celebrate Me"). Next I have a few crafts I'm working on for the Halloween program later this month, more books, and binders with past programs.

Starting on the actual desktop (clockwise) and right behind my coffee are a few DVDs, audio books, and random books that I need to replace in the upcoming book orders. There is a cigar box full of crayons that need to be de-labeled for a crayon program I'm giving in early November. Behind that box is a stack of juvenile lit I'm trying to make time to read. (Contrary to what people believe, librarians don't just sit around and read books all day. I wish. We actually have to read them on our own time, so give your librarian a break next time when she admits she hasn't read every book in the collection.) On top of those are my snacks for the day (grape tomatoes and a banana).

Next are some pamphlets with selected book lists that come in handy when parents or kids come in looking for Harry Potter read-alikes, or books on bullying or princesses. I have a couple copies of a book for my Turning Pages program that is in a few Mondays from now, a stack of CDs I use frequently in programs, a few shelves of important papers, and a binder full of past toddler programs. That is what I love about this field, you don't have to re-invent the wheel. Just find and pull things you like from everywhere to create your own. That red box up there is the making of a "Monster Box" craft for next week's Crafty Kids.

And now back to the work day. Once 9:15 hits I begin to set up the room for Toddler Tales. Because the space isn't that big, I can only fit 10 toddlers and their caregivers comfortably (some usually bring extra siblings and can get tight), which is why I have to limit registration. I also set up a table in the children's department which has the kids' name tags on it. They gather out there first (it's nice to let the toddlers socialize a little before we start), then I ring a bell or beat a drum and the kids march into the room.

This week's Toddler Tales theme was "Sounds and More!" Because it is Fire Safety Week and instead of PSST we did fire station visits, I wanted to tie-in fire stations with the toddler program.

10:00-10:30 a.m. Toddler Tales #1

We start with our two "good morning" songs and then I read Wheels on the Bus...a classic story full of sounds. Next we did a couple nursery rhymes, then I got out a box of hats and we made sounds to go with them. After, I did a "Five Firefighters" finger play, followed by a few rhymes and songs with bells. Next came "I'm a Little Teapot" and then it's "Musical Notes," where the kids grab a bunch of instruments and we make music while a song plays. Then it's "Parachute Time!" and, lastly, our good-bye song.

The entire program lasts about 25 minutes.

10:30-11:00 a.m. I spend the next half hour re-organizing and tidying the set-up, marking down statistics, shredding registration forms, making more copies of the program script, setting out the next group's name tags....

and bell cleaning. These end up in their mouths so I try to keep the germs to a minimum. On this particular day I also took a few calls from parents wanting to sign-up their child for Friday's fire station visit, and answered a few questions about another branch's Baby Time program.

11:00-11:30 a.m. Toddler Tales #2

I do the entire program all over again for the next group.

11:30-12:30 p.m. I record more stats, shred more forms (because of personal information), handle more sign-ups for next week's program, clean up the room and clear off my cart for whatever program I have next. I spend the remainder of that time cleaning the bells (again) and all of the musical instruments. After, I go through the department and tidy it up again because there was a lot of playing and socializing. (I'm also still answering emails and patrons' questions throughout the entire day.)

Once I finished cleaning, I went through our new books and pulled the ones marked with "4-12." New books can stay in the "new book" section for six months, which means all of the April books get pulled this month and placed onto the regular shelves. I do this once at the beginning of the month, and again half-way through (which was this day's pulling). Any that were checked out on the days I pulled, I catch when I start pulling next month's from the shelves.

12:30-12:50 p.m. 20-minute break. My break and lunch are never a specified time. I take them when I find the time. Some days I'm so busy I don't take a break and a few times I've eaten at my desk while working. But on this day I took an early break because I had a meeting/lunch with my co-workers later that day.

I snacked on a banana and some peanut butter( I cannot believe how sweet peanut butter is! I'm so used to my nut butter.) I finished off my morning Americano while reading this month's book club read, Breakfast at Tiffany's.
I made cookies for the meeting, but the batch made so many I was able to share with the entire staff. You can find that recipe here...Warning: I halved the sugar and they were still quite sweet. But soooooo addicting.

12:50-1:30 p.m. On my way back to the desk I picked up the day's deliveries. I got the new SLJ and some bread tags from a co-worker at another branch. I'm using the bread tags for a craft in my Snowman Workshop in December, and all of the youth services librarians pass around the SLJ, which gives us annotations on new books we might want to purchase. Once we go through it, we cross off our name and pass it along.

Knowing I'd be gone for the rest of the day, I tried to get as much done as possible. After going through the deliveries (which, shockingly, I didn't receive a single new book), I began working on the layout for next week's PSST.

Our PSST's (at the branches) are six-week sessions with a week or two break in between. This session, at my branch, the teen librarian and I decided to use one book in each story time. That way the kids are hearing at least one repetition each week (I do every Tuesday night PSST and we rotate Friday PSSTs.) This session we're doing Good Night Moon. I've tried to find different ways to share this story, and my plan for next week is to tell it through flannel board, using felt pieces. And the final week I'm using the DVD version of the story. I think that will be a fun treat for the kiddos.

Next, I grabbed some of the books off my top shelf and decided which books I would read and which ones I would set-up so the parents could check out. Next week's theme is "It's a Colorful World" and I think I'm going to read Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett and I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman.

During this time I took a call from a parent wanting to sign up her son for this Saturday's Super Science Saturday program. (I'm off this Saturday so it's my co-workers program...her theme is color. Next month it's my theme is space.)

I was in the middle of planning this PSST program when Jill, the Children's Librarian at two of the library's other branches, arrived to give me a tour of The Butler.

Once a month The Butler Institute of American Art and my library collaborate on an art program for kids ages 5-10. We share two stories coinciding with whatever art happens to be on display at that time and then they do a craft. Jill had been doing this program for a few years now, but since my branch is literally a minute down the road from the museum, it was decided I should take it over.

1:30-2:00 p.m. Jill gives me a tour of The Butler and I introduce myself to the staff....Tom, a very talkative, nice, older gentleman. The art for the next few months is landscaping, and the program is next Saturday, so over the next few days I will be in search of some coordinating picture books.

2:00-2:30 p.m. Lunch with the other branches Children's Librarians at Pizza Works. The best part of our meetings (wink-wink).

I had a garden calzone. yum.

2:30-4:30 p.m.Youth Services Branch Meeting.

Here is where we coordinate the themes for our PSSTs. Our themes are different than the library's main (Warren) location....that way we're not all fighting over the same books. At this meeting we planned our themes through December, and also discussed any additional programs we plan to do through February. (It can be difficult to decide what you want to do in February when it's still October, but we have to plan early because we need to get fliers and PR out on each program.) I'm planning some more Crafty Kids, giving Turning Pages one more try, showing some movies, and working on a waffle program.....among others. Among other topics discussed were programs that worked and what didn't, struggles and positives, next year's Summer Reading Program, and we planned our next meeting (in a few weeks...we like to get together) to coordinate the PSST themes through February.

Let me just say we have some awesome programming coming up at my library's branches!

4:30-5:00 p.m. We all headed back to my branch (since it's the closest to Pizza Works) to finish out the day, which was spent digging through supplies in the basement for our upcoming programs. I acquired some google eyes, paint, and a bunch of scrap paper. The other girls left with paintbrushes, cardboard, bulletin board supplies, and puppets.

And that was Thursday in a nutshell. (Sorry for such a long post.)

I hope to share more of my days with you all!

And to leave you with a smile:

Found on Pinterest

And I NEED this mug!

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Chicken Divan

When fall hits, I crave filling and warm foods that hug you. Like chili, cornbread, homemade macaroni and cheese, and chicken and dumplings. I also desire crock pot dishes and casseroles that promise leftovers...except with Mr. B in the house it's nearly impossible...unless it's something he doesn't like, which happens at least once a week....then I need to make sure I really like it or my co-workers will get a surprise treat.

As soon as the colder weather hits, my crock pot and oven have been non-stop. And last week I started craving Chicken Divan. It's one of my many favorite go-to recipes that I pass on making in the summer because a) it's a little heavy, and b) in 90 degree heat, I don't want to turn the oven on unless it's absolutely necessary.

But when the thermostat is reading 60, it's time for a comfy blanket, the oven, and a big bowl of something Chicken Divan.

Which reminds me of my apartment days with my friend Jessica. The whole heating thing was a joke. It's a long story, but we'd find any excuse to turn on the gas stove. We'd pull up stools (while bundled in hats, gloves and blankets) and study for our exams sitting as close to the stove as we could get while we waited on dinner, which usually was tuna noodle casserole.

Oh, those were the days....hmmmm, I think not.

You can't go wrong with this dish. There's a little something for everyone.....chicken, broccoli, creamy goodness, cheese, and a hint of curry.


But the original dish was a Paula Deen recipe, so I found a few ways to lighten it up without sacrificing taste. 

And this winter you don't need to miss out on your favorite dishes. Just make a few substitutions.

Chicken Divan
*adapted from Paula Deen's recipe

Serves 6

1 (12 oz) pkg frozen broccoli, chopped
4 c shredded chicken, cooked
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 sour cream
1 c plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 c grated sharp cheddar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c soft bread crumbs
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Microwave broccoli 2 minutes, until thawed. Drain well and put in large bowl. Add chicken. In medium bowl combine soup, mayo yogurt, cheddar, lemon juice, curry, salt and pepper, and broth. Whisk together to make a sauce. Pour sauce over broccoli and chicken; mix well. Place mixture in 9x13" baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pat down evenly and smooth with spatula. Combine Parmesan, crumbs and butter, and sprinkle over top. Bake 30-45 minutes.

*NOTE: Best served over brown rice.

** Also fabulous as a vegetarian dish...substitute the chicken for portobellos.

O.M.G. This is sooooooooo delicious. A perfect comfort food.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, October 8, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty-One

By far one of the best challenges I've had all year. Saturday was the only night the lights weren't out by 11 p.m. but my Buckeyes were on.

You can't turn that awesome-ness off.

O-H, baby!

But I'm feeling very refreshed this Monday, so let's check out this week's challenge.

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Make your favorite dish.
Source: Yahoo! Images
I have many favorite dishes. In fact, my answer to this could change hourly. But right now I am dying to make my Chicken Divan. I usually make this during the colder months of the year, and since those are here this dish goes straight to the top...right behind chili, soup beans, meatloaf, and chicken and dumplings.

Soooo many favorites!!!!

What will you choose? A family favorite, Grandma's secret recipe, or will you attempt to remake a favorite restaurant dish?

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Cake Perfect for Mr. B

Last week we celebrated Mr. B's birthday.

And, like me, Mr. B does not like cake for his birthday.

(I keep trying to tell everyone this, just because you bring over a cake doesn't mean we're going to eat it. Save your money. Give it to Mr. B.)

Mr. B loves chocolate chip cookies. It seems to be the only "dessert" he'll eat...besides vanilla ice cream. But only every once in a while. (He crazy.) So, back when we first started dating and I discovered his strong dislike for cake and his love for chocolate chip cookies I started buying him the frosted cookies you can get at the grocery store.

Last year's cookie.
And lately for the past six years that has been his birthday cake..err, cookie. (Except for when others bring cake....)

But I thought I'd surprise him and change it up this year. (Actually, it's more like I'm bored and need something different. Wait, whose birthday is it.....)

BUT, last year we both agreed that the frosting was getting way too sweet, and although it looked nice, most of it ended up in the garbage.

So I put on my thinking cap for this year's "cake." What else does my hubby like? Rice krispy treats.

I know this because I made a pan of them once (like two years ago) and they didn't last 24 hours.

I was like, "Gee, babe, I didn't know you liked rice krispy treats so much."

And he was like, "Oh, I do."

So...krispies and vanilla ice cream and "cake."

It's genius, I know.

And right up Mr. B's alley.

Crispy Ice Cream Cake

Serves a crowd

1 favorite marshmallow crispy recipe (mine is your basic melted butter combined with marshmallows and added to about 6 cups of Crisp Rice....we're on a budget over here)

1 tub of your favorite ice cream (Mr. B is a vanilla kind of guy. But I used Neapolitan to spruce it up a bit...a little more color...and flavor.)

Garnishes: whipped cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce, sprinkles, and sliced strawberries (nuts are optional)

Once you've made your marshmallow crispies, butter a pie dish or cake pan and spread the crispies evenly, allowing it to cool completely. When ready to serve, scoop mounds of ice cream on top of cooled crispies. Fill in holes with dollops of whipped cream topped with strawberries. Drizzle on hot fudge and caramel sauce, followed by sprinkles and nuts.

*Note: This can either be done in the pan or you can cut the crispies, allowing everyone to top their own with whatever they desire. Kind of like a rice crispy bar. YUM.

Score, right?

So when he walked in the door I surprised him with his birthday cake. But he didn't want any of the garnishes. Just a krispy and vanilla ice cream. But I convinced him he needed the other stuff for the sake of a picture.

After he blew out the candle. He took a bite. "Man, that's sweet."

Yes, I ate his while he ate just the rice krispies.

Ugh, back to the drawing board.

Happy birthday, babe.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, October 1, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Forty

I didn't do as well as I had hoped with last week's water challenge. But I consumed more than I had been and that's what matters.

Especially since I came down with a head cold this past weekend.

Which is why this post is so short. I'm recuperating.

So let's get to it!

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Lights out by 11 p.m.

Mr. B during our Washington D.C. weekend.

As part of my recuperating regime, I slept and slept some more. This weekend my body was screaming for sleep and I finally gave in. Unfortunately, I missed a day of work, but after my three-hour nap and a healthy dose of zinc and Vitamin C, I'm feeling like myself again. And I can breathe!

In order to avoid the cold, it's important to listen to your body and to rest when you need rest. And I know my body. I need at least eight hours of sleep each night...nine would be ideal. That's just how my body works. But I need a good eight hours, so I'm challenging myself to lights out by 11 p.m. (Honestly, I'd love to be in bed by 9 p.m.---I prefer to rise early---but Mr. B works late and I have to sacrifice to see him.) There's a complete difference in sleeping between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. versus 2 a.m. and 10 a.m.

It's all about the quality not necessarily the quantity. And people just don't understand all that the body does while it's resting. So important!

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love & God Bless,