Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Royal Party

As I'm sure you all know, my 26th birthday was a few weeks ago, and my friends and I celebrated like royalty.


We dressed in our best royal attire and had a fabulous, Queen-worthy time.

And in our honor, our friends created these beautiful royal invitations.

Since my friend Emilia's birthday is two days after mine, we celebrated our days together, as Your Royal Highnesses.

After the arrivals and crowning and decorations, it was time for food. Making an appearance were most of our favorite dishes....mixed berries, grilled peaches and strawberries, egg salad-stuffed tomatoes, salad, lime tortilla chips and mango salsa, macaroni and cheese, and mini cheesecake bites. There were also wine and tea selections.

Check out our spread!

And the best part: a Grilled Cheese Bar!!!!
I've been downing grilled cheeses like they're Caramel Macchiatos, so when Jessica asked what food I wanted to celebrate my special day, I shouted "GRILLED CHEESE!" before she even finished the question. Emilia didn't seem to mind.

And Jessica made it happen. Because she's AWESOME like that.

Jessica was so kind and (wo)manned the grill to make our perfect grilled cheeses.

My grilled cheese (with tomato, of course) was just what Your Royal Highness ordered.

This was fabulously tasty.
And the grilled peaches were absolutely sinful.

My BFF was in attendance :)
I was having so much fun and just like that it was 10 o'clock at night and I had to leave because I had LegoMania at work the next day. I felt bad. I totally broke up the party because everybody was blocking me in and therefore had to move their cars. And therefore decided it was time to go as well. :(

I spoiled my own party.

Anyhoo, I was also bummed because we never got around to watching the featured film, The Princess Bride.

One of my all-time favorites. Super-excited. Super-bummed and went around for days after quoting the movie until I finally made time to get my Westley and Buttercup fix.

Westley: I told you I would always come for you. Why didn't you wait for me?
Buttercup: Well... you were dead.
Westley: Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.
Buttercup: I will never doubt again.
Westley: There will never be a need.

Inigo Montoya: That Vizzini, he can fuss.
Fezzik: Fuss, fuss... I think he like to scream at us.
Inigo Montoya: Probably he means no harm.
Fezzik: He's really very short on charm.
Inigo Montoya: You have a great gift for rhyme.
Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.
Vizzini: Enough of that.
Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?
Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.
Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.
Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?

But before I left......


Happy Birthday, Your Royal Highness!

Me and Emilia

Next time, make your birthday party a royal celebration to remember!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, August 27, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Thirty-Five

Tea. Tea. And more tea. That's how I would sum up last week. Oh, and some wine.

As I was putting away my tea and coffee things (onto their own personal shelf in my brand new big kitchen, I might add) I was surprised to see they all...fit? I need more tea. I do not have enough options. (Or as Mr. B likes to say, "opinions.")

I hope your tea last week helped with your crazy and busy life. I know it did with mine, and this is one challenge I plan to incorporate into my daily routine.

But we're moving on because it's Monday and time for a 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:
Organize one room.
Google Images
Is it sad that I could be that girl in the above photo because I love organization?!

Yes. I know.

But this organizational challenge comes at a perfect time because I have a few rooms that still need to be unpacked and straightened from our move into our new home this past weekend :)

Kitchen. Unpacked that night. I need a bigger pantry. For those of you who've seen my gigantic pantry, it's deceiving.

Living Room.
Master Bedroom.
Mr. B.'s Man Cave. Unpacked on Sunday.

My goal this week is to finish the bathrooms and the guest bedroom. I'm sure our guests will love the scrapbooking supplies that is currently decorating the floor, but it should be at least organized...

And, good night, do I have a lot of scrapbooking materials. And it's even more sad that I haven't found the time to scrapbook in almost two years.

I blame it on books. Baking. Yoga. Friends. Mr. B. Siamese. FRIENDS. Books. The Olympics. Working out. Football. Grocery shopping. Oh, and a new home. I blame them all. I don't have time to do anything ;)

But enough about me and back to this week's challenge.

Take the week to slowly organize that room that you've been putting off, or that basement/garage/closet/junk drawer that's been driving you nuts.

We'll be one organizing nation this week!

And feel free to share before and after photos!

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

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, August 24, 2012

What I'm Reading

Ai yi yi. Where do I begin to tell you about all the books I've read since my last "What I'm Reading" post back in June? (!) How about I just mention my favorites....and, of course, my most recent book club read? (And we're meeting today to discuss, which means I get to see my dear friends that I haven't seen in over a month, which means I get some tasty gelato, which means much needed down time.)

Oh, and I pretty much haven't read anything since August 1st, so now is the perfect time to play catch-up.


Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)
Our Book Club read for August.

Actually, for the month of August we took a different route when it came to choosing a book: Everyone got to choose their own read. The only rule: A book you have never read before.

I had been meaning to read Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome for what seemed like forever and it's been on my Kindle for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence (one of my favorites) and was eager to pick up this work. And on the plus side, it was a quick read, which was all too perfect for my crazy August.

The main character's (ummm, Ethan Frome) struggles really pull at your heart strings. And out of all the classics I have been fortunate enough to read, Ethan was one of the few characters I actually felt really close with and involved. I cared for him and his decisions. I cringed at his lot in life and hoped for the best. This work was a little different from Wharton's previous ones, but I could still see her black humor throughout. Also, I felt this book was entirely satire and dark, whereas some of her others have moments of light-heartedness. My only issue is that I think the story ended too abruptly.

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to tonight's discussion and to see the various genres of books everyone chose. You can find the other titles on our Book Club page on Good Reads. (Some are listed, and I'll finish the others later tonight...some members were unsure of what to read so I couldn't add the titles.)

A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
Listened to the audio book.

Ever since our first Book Club read, The Secret Garden, last December I have been dying to read Hodgson's A Little Princess. Time lacking, fortunately my children's collection at the library had it on audio. Fantastic.

And the audio is even more fantastic. I absolutely LOVED this book. And I loved Sara Crewe. One of my favorite characters ever. I loved her joy, views, imagination, generosity, and her outlook on life. Yes, at times I found the book to be rather slow-going, but it is written for a young audience, and I'm sure it's not a problem for them. But following this child from riches to rags is indeed a heart-felt experience for the reader.

An instant favorite for me!

A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen (Susannah Carson)

Source: Good Reads

Sadly, this book was okay. It wasn't quite what I thought it would be. I felt only a few writers actually talked about why they read Austen, the rest just seemed to be an essay about character development, which on more than one occasion grew tiresome as it dragged on and on for a near 20 pages. However, I would definitely recommend turning to this book if you're writing on Austen yourself. Every work of hers is commented on, and there are plenty of great themes, character sketches and plot outlines to choose from when in need of a decent resource. But no, I will not be adding this to my Austen collection.

The BFG (Roald Dahl)
Listened to the audio book.

At first I was unsure about this book. And I'm not even sure why. But I'm glad I decided to pursue it anyways....I was not disappointed. The audio is absolutely stunning, funny and overall spectacular. I could not imagine reading this book because the audio was so good. It really captured The Big Friendly Giant (BFG) in a big, friendly, gigantic way only an audio version can. His fandangled speech had me laughing out loud throughout the entire story. This is a definite for those of you with kids and very long car rides. Pure delightful entertainment for all.

Source: Good Reads

Drums of Autumn (Diana Gabaldon)
The fourth installment in the Outlander series

Yes, I'm still reading these. Yes, I'm still obsessed thoroughly enjoying them. Yes, I insist everyone run out and start reading them. No, I am not finished with this one.

But I'm over half way!

And it's starting to get crazy-good!

Let me tell you. The first night I get to relax in my new home, I'm knocking this baby out.

(Plus, I really need to finish it because my co-worker, which has read them already, is currently listening to the audio versions. She just finished this one two weeks ago and is making threats about moving onto the fifth. I'm trying to keep up!)

*Now I need to make a point of reading some of these children's new books (and more than just the picture books!).

Have you read and good books lately? Share your good reads below!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, August 20, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Thirty-Four

I had so much feed back from this challenge and I'm happy many of you enjoyed it!

On Monday I had two huge bowls of grape tomatoes; Tuesday included two nectarines and an orange pepper; Wednesday included golden raisins and yellow pepper slices; on Thursday I had zucchini and cucumbers; Friday I dined on blueberries, of course; Saturday I had purple onions in my Chipotle...mmmm.

And on Sunday, Mama came up to help with the house (and she took the challenge, too!) and we feasted on tacos which included reds and greens. It was a hectic day and unfortunately the "rainbow" wasn't on my to-do list.

But we're moving on because it's Monday and time for a 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:
A cup of hot tea before bed. 

It's going to be an extra busy and stressful week because we're moving!!! We need to put the final paint touches on the bedrooms and finish packing, and I need to try really hard not to go crazy.

So, I'm helping myself to a cup of hot tea before bed to help me relax from the day.

I also plan to help myself to as many cups as needed throughout the day!


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

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. I have no time to breathe let alone read, blog or workout. BUT, I know in the end it will all be worth it when Mr. B and I are sitting in our lovely home, admiring all of the stuff we did (and relishing our some-what downtime).

2. And the timing couldn't be more perfect. Football season is almost upon us, in case you hadn't noticed.

3. Siamese turned 15 this week. (15!) Happy Birthday, Cat.

Here's to...many more? (But only if I can have my Chihuahua too. If not...well let's just take it one day at a time, shall we?)

4. I've been working on my Yoga Story Time for children ages 3-5. I'll be leading three programs this fall at various branches in our library system and I'm, really excited. I've been busy practicing the routine, simplifying the poses and researching the effects of yoga and youth. Plus, all the yoga has been great for my stress level!

5. This is what I came into work to a few days ago. Awesome.

Apparently, the parents allowed the kid to destroy the library all the way up until closing time and then left. The circulation staff picked up the books, but left the rest. So did our custodian. I can't blame them; it's not their job. It's okay. I didn't have anything better to do than to spend over an hour re-organizing this mess. In doing so I took a few toys away; it's obvious they don't need that many. It seems we need some more obvious signage....Ai yi yi.

6. Mama came up today and all of the wallpaper is down!!!! Now it's time to tidy up and paint. But we'll have to wait a couple of days because the bedrooms need finishing first.

7. Here's to another fun-filled week!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, August 13, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Thirty-Three

The classic I chose to read for last week's challenge was Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome.

And you'll be pleased to know I had it finished by Friday afternoon. Actually, I was quite pleased.

I really adore Wharton's writing style and loved The Age of Innocence (Pulitzer Prize winner!)and The House of Mirth. And this book was full of symbolism and themes galore...everything that makes a classic a classic. I'm not going to get into detail (I'm saving that for my upcoming "What I'm Reading" post), but I really enjoyed Ethan Frome and found it to be an easy and pleasant read. I definitely felt for the main character, but was a little thrown off by the abrupt ending.

And now that it's Monday, it's time for a new colorful 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:
Eat the Rainbow.

Google Images

To make sure I'm getting enough veggies and fruit, which I have not been very good at lately, I'm challenging myself to eating the rainbow this week. (Now I'm not saying to only eat that color on that day...just add more of that color to your diet that day. Because let's face it, when Friday rolls around it's slim pickin's and blue M & M's don't count.)

Starting with today I'm going right through the good ole' ROY G BIV.

Monday = Red (tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, apples, watermelon, red potatoes....)
Tuesday = Orange (peaches, oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes....)
Wednesday = Yellow (bananas, squash, corn, Yukon potatoes....)
Thursday = Green (peas, beans, kiwi, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, spinach, apples....)
Friday = Blue (blueberries, blue cheese? ...) hmmm other blue veggies and fruits?
Saturday = Purple (plums, grapes, purple potatoes, purple onions, eggplant....)
Sunday = The Rainbow! (a little bit of each color)

I'm on some-what of a roll; I packed a bowl full of grape tomatoes to snack on as I finish going through the new books I couldn't get to on Friday. And for dinner I have a couple baked baby red potatoes.

What red fruits or veggies have you started with today?

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

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blogger Recipe: Black Bean Brownies

Soooo, I have been dying to try these Black Bean Brownies ever since I saw them on Espresso & Cream's site months ago....and I mean moooonths ago. I had planned on making these back in February after my fast, but they completely slipped my mind.

I've actually known about these brownies with black beans for years but had never tried them. So when I stumbled across this recipe I tagged it as a must. I just had to find out what these brownies were all about. Could you taste the black beans? Were they more moist, softer, chewier? Did the beans make the chocolate flavor more intense?

When I first tried these delightful little squares, I knew I was in trouble. I wanted the whole pan (which usually happens when I make brownies, therefore I often don't!) and knowing these were a much healthier brownie made me want them even more.

They were moist and delicate and definitely chocolate intense. But since I cut back on the sugar (which I do in all of my recipes because I don't like desserts to be too sweet or too rich...except for my cheesecake) and added even more protein by substituting the oil with Greek yogurt, these brownies had just the right amount of sweetness. I finally found my perfect brownie!

I can't remember if Mr. B had the chance to sample these brownies or not because the next day I whisked them off to work, sharing these jewels with my co-workers. No one could guess the secret ingredient because you cannot taste the black beans!!! Even after I told them the beans were in there, they still couldn't taste them. Of course, some didn't like the brownies because they weren't sweet enough, but to each his own, right? (These would definitely not please my father, who is a huge sweet chocolate-holic.)

Black Bean Brownies
*adapted from Espresso & Cream's version

Makes 16 brownies

3/4 c canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 c Greek yogurt
2 eggs (I've also made these with flax eggs and they turned out perfectly, too)
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
a very scant 1/3 c sugar or Stevia substitution (unsweetened applesauce would work well)
1 tsp instant espresso granules
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/3 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
additional chocolate chips (minis!)

Preheat oven 350 degrees and line an 8x8" pan with foil.

In blender, combine beans, yogurt, eggs, cocoa powder and sugar; blend until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Add in espresso, vanilla, melted chocolate, flour, baking powder and salt. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle with additional chocolate chips. Bake 20 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.

*From now on these are my go-to brownies, and I wonder if I could use this base with a cream cheese or peanut butter swirl......

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday Treats

 Okay, I've been super busy with our new house and worked on the kitchen all day Sunday and by the time I got home I was tuckered. After a quick shower and an episode of The Pioneer Woman, I was out like a light. Therefore, this "Sunday Sweets" is making an appearance today. Enjoy :)

1. On Wednesday night we finally got the keys to our new house!!!!!!!!

2. And we met the sellers before they started their adventure to western Ohio. They are the nicest people, and I hope to stay in touch with Chuck and Diane over the years. They gifted us with a lovely card and a personalized crock with our name and a picture of our house on the front. And then Diane said a beautiful prayer for our lives in this wonderful house. It could not have been more perfect, or right.

Isn't it beautiful?!

3. When Daddy was here on Sunday, of course, we went to Lowe's. But this time I wasn't tricked, and I wanted to go, and it was for my house, and we were there forever. But I bought the paint for our bedroom and the kitchen!!!!!! Let's paint!

4. Oh, wait. Yeah, have to tear down the wallpaper first. It's times like these when I wonder why I wanted a big kitchen. But with patience, a lot of time and hard-work, it will all come down and it will all be worth it when I'm standing in my beautiful kitchen.

Until then, I give myself permission to complain on here. Ai yi yi.

5. With so much wonderful homeowner stuff to do, and I say this with deep sorrow, my evenings of reading enjoyment have come to a halt. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish my book club read during my lunch breaks!

6. Also, I'm having crazy Olympic-nitus and have been watching it non-stop...except for when I'm at work (but even there I'm constantly keeping an eye on the results). Buuuuut, now we have much to do with our house and we don't have the cable there yet...so my Olympic-watching will be cut down tremendously. But who cares, we're homeowners!!!

7. FYI. My little girl dream: I wanted to be a professional volleyball player when I grew up. However, at 5'3" God had other plans. And I love my Children's Librarian path. But when I see these two, I can't help but return to my once-upon-a-dream.

8. Mr. B and I spent all day Friday cleaning gutters, pulling out shrubs, scrubbing down walls, windows and cabinets. When we finally turned on the Olympics only to see Rogers and Dalhausser eliminated, let's just say it was catastrophic.

9. On a better note, check out our fun "Pick Me!" display in the children's section. It's fun, time consuming, and fun. I like it.

10. Oh, and finally (!) Summer Reading has come to a glorious end!!!! Time to re-fuel for the fall madness ahead :)

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. 
Psalm 127:1

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, August 6, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Thirty-Two

The negative talk challenge went out the window once we got the keys to our new house. Oh my.

That is all I'm going to say about that. But the weekend helped. I am now refreshed and ready for a new week, hopefully with a lot less stress (fingers crossed).

It's Monday and it's time for a new challenge!  Yay!

*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:
Read a classic.

Catcher in the Rye


The Scarlet Letter

Of Mice and Men


Paradise Lost

Jane Eyre

Women in Love

Dust off that classic you've always wanted to read. Head to your local library and peruse their classic literature section. Make time to read that book it seems everyone has read (remember, I'm talking classic here, not the smut that people can't seem to stop talking about haha).

Even though I'm going to be extremely busy with our new house and planning fall programs for the library, I'm setting some time aside to relax and de-stress with a little reading. I'm also making this this week's challenge because I chose a classic for this month's book club and I need a little extra motivation due to my crazy schedule.

What classic have you always wanted to read? Get started today!

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

With Love and God Bless,