Thursday, May 30, 2013

Via Protein Power Shake

My latest obsession.

Over the last six days, I have started my mornings with this refreshing beverage. I just can't get enough.

It's amazing. It's simple and fast.

It's perfect on those hot and muggy mornings.

It has coffee. And protein. And it's creamy.

And it's versatile. On regular mornings (you know, the ones where I'm rushing out the door because I just could not get out of bed), I use my favorite, unsweetened almond milk, as the base. But it's also perfect as a post-workout beverage. For those times I replace the almond milk with chocolate milk. It gives my muscles an extra power boost.

Via Protein Power Shake

Serves 1

1 c unsweetened almond milk, or chocolate milk (or any milk for that matter)
1 Starbucks Via packet (or any instant coffee packet)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (chocolate would work well, too)
5-7 ice cubes, or as much ice as you desire

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more ice until desired consistency is reached. Drink up!

*Note: I'm sure a tablespoon of nut butter would be divine in this beverage, or make it into a dessert shake by adding in a scoop of ice cream instead of ice. Like I said, very versatile.

Oh, and it's National Water a Flower Day. Soooo, hop to it!

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend, remembering those who have and are still defending our freedoms. Maybe you caught a parade, grilled out, and spent time with family and friends. My hubby and I kicked off the weekend with a yard sale (cha-ching), and then we went boating with his mom and step-dad. The day was quite chilly with occasional drizzle, but it was quite nice relaxing and finally enjoying a three-day weekend.

I decided Memorial weekend cannot be celebrated without ice cream, so on Saturday I made two batches: Strawberry-Lime and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake (which I blogged about here). I don't think my ice cream maker bowl was cold enough because the batter never thickened. I placed it in the freezer anyways and it turned into this ice-like texture. Not good for ice cream. But was quite tasty as a milkshake. Overall, it was a great holiday weekend.

So, here's a currently post to get this short week started! (Read my previous post here.)

I'm currently....

Watching.... nothing really, except some baseball. I've lost interest in TV, and the shows are getting more and more ridiculous. But, I am interested in Dwayne Johnson's new show, The Hero, which begins this Thursday on TNT.

Eating.... This Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta. Except I tried to make it a little healthier and skimped on some of the cheese. It needs the cheese. I like cheesy pasta.

Planning.... my Yogi Kids programs. They're part of this summer's reading program agenda and I'm having a blast looking at all of the fun yoga games we can play. It's on Tuesday evenings, so I'm hoping we can get outside a few times and enjoy some nice weather.

Reading.... I'm in the middle of finishing Killing Kennedy, and just picked up part two of Outlander's seventh installment on audio. Yes, I'm still trekking through these, and the new one comes out in a few months!

Inspired's Bible devotional. Since I joined everyone else and finally bought a smart phone, I downloaded The Bible app. The.Best.Thing.Ever. I'm doing five different daily devotionals, and I have them set throughout the day, so I'm constantly reflecting on God's word.  The following is from this morning's "Hearing From God Each Morning" devotional: Your worst day with God will be better than your worst day without Him. I don't think any sentence has ever been truer.

Excited about...."Dig Into Reading!" Our summer reading program for the kiddos this summer. We've been decorating (as you can see from the above picture) and planning like crazy, and the library's kick-off party is next week. I cannot wait for the kids to experience all of the fun stuff we have for them this summer. Not sure who is more or the kids?

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keep Counting

My previous "Blessings" post was well received, and I planned on doing another one but had it on the back burner. With the recent Oklahoma tornado tragedies, I find myself once again counting my blessings and turning my eyes to the Father. I seem to wake each morning with fear of turning on the news, afraid of what new tragedy has occurred. This world is scary. It's mean. Hard. Full of hate. Unpredictable. Because we live in a fallen world. "We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." 1 John 5:19 (NIV) 

But there is always light. And good. We need to focus on, and look for, that when hardships are knocking on our door.

This particular story, on a teacher at one of the schools destroyed by an Oklahoma tornado, pulls at my heartstrings.

A teacher's job is hard enough....Saving kids in a natural disaster makes them heroes. Rhonda Crosswhite put her life directly on the line for her students. She's a 6th grade teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, OK - the school that was flattened by Monday's tornado. Rhonda was hiding with several kids in a bathroom stall at the school - and when she knew the tornado was directly on top of them, she laid her body across the kids. Crosswhite says, "One of my little boys just kept saying, 'I love you, I love you, please don't die with me.' But we're okay. We made it out." All of the children who were with her are now safe, there was one minor injury – a cut to the head. Crosswhite suffered only minor cuts and scrapes. Thank you Rhonda for keeping those kids safe - and thank you to all the teachers, first responders, and citizens who came to the rescue of others.

She is one among many, many heroes, and I want to personally say thanks, and that you are truly a blessing to that community.

Here are a few more blessings from my ever-growing list...

27. God's Word. It's my one true comforter. When everything is going wrong, the road looks long and dark, and nothing good is on the news anymore, I open the Good Book. I read His promises. "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20 (NIV)

28. Ears to hear. I can hear the worship service on Sunday morning. I hear the laughter and never-ending questions from the kids during every story time session. Even though it drives me mad, I hear the birds chirping outside our bedroom window at 5:30 in the morning. I can hear "I love yous," "Thank yous," and "I miss yous." I can hear music!

29. Getting out of bed each morning. I woke up today. I was able to climb out of bed without the assistance of another, which as Mama (who is currently rehabbing after knee surgery) can point out is annoying.

30. Strength. "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

I'm talking about all kinds of strength: mental, emotional, and physical. I'm blessed that my body can handle the weight-training sessions, the endless yoga poses, and frequent runs I put it through. One day it may not.

31. Ambition. I'm thankful I have "drive." Thankful I have goals and motivation to accomplish them. Thankful I work for them and not live off of, or take advantage of others. When I'm asked of the Father what I did with the time I was given, I can show him. I can show him the things I did in His name. Glory be to God.

32. Coffee. Oh, coffee beans. You are beautiful. Thank you, Lord, for putting them on this earth. And I can only hope heaven is filled with 'em!

33. Freedom. I am beyond blessed that the Lord gave me life, and that life to live in America. My freedom allows me to maintain a blog centered on my beliefs. I don't have to cover my entire body to walk outside. I can make eye contact with people. I can speak freely on my views.

34. Day shift. I love my job. I enjoy my evening preschool story time and yoga programs. But I love being home with my husband, eating at the dinner table together, and enjoying an evening walk through the park.

35. Nut Butter. When I was younger not a day would go by where I wasn't spotted walking around with a spoonful of peanut butter. These days I turn to almond butter for my fix. But I still indulge in my creamy peanut butter, usually in the form of brownies, Reese's Cups, fudge, or ice cream. It's a blessing to have a favorite. And I am very thankful for nuts.

36. My yoga practice. The number one reason I stay strong with my yoga practice is because it calms me. It is the perfect outlet for stress. The second reason: it brings me closer to God. When I'm able to shut-out the world around me, it clears my head. As I flow through the poses I find myself constantly talking with God. But I never intended this. I'm thankful I've found a place to meet with the Father. I didn't start yoga with that thought in mind. I actually began in order to tone my body, which is the third reason for my practice. But now I highly recommend yoga if you'd like to draw closer to God, forget your troubles, de-stress, or to just get in touch with your body.

37. Grace: to get something that you do not deserve; unmerited favor. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2 (KJV)

"Let us therefore with come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4: 16 (KJV)

38. Laughter. I love to laugh. To be honest, it is probably my most beloved hobby. And Mr. B can sure make me laugh. The Lord wants us to be happy, to laugh, to enjoy this life.

"A time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:4 (KJV)

"Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh." Luke 6:21 (KJV)

39. The kindness and goodness of others. They are there. Just look at all of the relief foundations springing up to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes. There is evil in this world, but there is also good. I was raised to help others, giving whatever I can...whether it's food, clothes, money, advice, or time. I'm thankful for my parents and this important lesson.

40. My voice. To not have a voice. To not be able to sing. To not sit and discuss my life with my best friend. I cannot fathom.

41. Mistakes. They constantly teach me to be a better person, how not to handle the next situation, to get back up and try again. To trust in God and His time, not my own.

42. Clothes. I'm not running around naked. Or better yet, I don't have cuts on my feet because I have shoes. I don't have sun burns because I have shirts and pants. My fingers and ears aren't frost bitten because I have gloves and hats. I'm not walking around in dirty t-shirts or holey jeans because the Father provides.

43. Worship. I'm blessed with music and words, and that I can praise my God through these.

44. Smells. I can smell the fresh-cut grass. The coffee-scented candle. The air right before it rains. Steak on the grill. I cannot imagine a life where one couldn't smell. How awful.

45. The telephone. Yes, I'm even grateful for this. I think of my ancestors, out exploring the world, leaving loved ones across oceans and never seeing, or hearing, from them again. I'm blessed to live in a time where I can talk to someone on the other side of the country. I can literally see my brother in South Carolina. I can call my family on holidays when I can't be there. I can call for help if I break down on the highway.

46. Hobbies. I have many passions, like baking, trying new recipes, yoga, scrapbooking, reading, sports, and gardening. I'm thankful the good Lord created us this way, giving us hobbies so we aren't all work and no play. It's a great socializing tool.

47. A child's smile. I can run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to create the most engaging programs, worrying about deadlines, costs, literacy levels, etc. But when the children smile because they've had a blast, and say "Thank you, Miss Brindi," my heart melts. It's always worth it for these kiddos.

48. Soap. I'm thankful for cleanliness, that I don't have to worry about minor germs. I think soap is something so easily taken for granted.

49. Holidays. I look forward to (And birthdays.) I love spending time with family. We are extremely close. I live about two hours away from my family, so I don't get to see them like I used to. I miss the days when my aunt (or whomever) would call and say, "Hey, we're throwing some burgers on the grill. Wanna come over?" I think it's why I look forward to the holidays so much. Especially the big ones...because then I know my brother will try to make it home.

50. And now that I mentioned it, OHIO. I only live two hours away from family, but my brother is seven hours away. So, I guess I'm thankful I'm still in Ohio. I actually love Ohio and, other than my short dream of being a magazine journalist in New York City (this was shortly after high school, and it was very short-lived), I wanted never to leave. I'm not from the city. I'm from the other beautiful parts that people tend to overlook when they think of this amazing state. I love it.

I want this shirt!
51. Cheesecake. It's my favorite. God bless the cow, the wheat, the chickens, the plants, the fruit, the oven, and the invention of refrigeration that enable me to enjoy my birthday cheesecakes.

Celebrated my 25th birthday with a peach cheesecake.
52. Clean water. Even more than soap. How is it that some countries have more water than they know what to do with and others barely have any that's okay to even drink from? Say a prayer of thanks the next time you flush the toilet, spill some water and are able to get more, or stay in the shower a little too long.

I encourage you to start counting your blessings. Feel free to comment and share how good the Lord is below!

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, May 17, 2013

Creamy Apple Dessert Salad

Sometimes I crave something creamy.

And it's usually ice cream. Or dark chocolate. The darker the better my friends. I'm talking at least 75%.

Sometimes it's an iced caramel macchiato. Milk. Caramel. Espresso. Hits the spot.

But then there are times when I want creamy and healthy. Creamy and light.

This dessert fruit salad hits the spot. It's simple, doesn't require many ingredients, it's fast, and will keep for a few days in the refrigerator....which is perfect in the summer when I crave something creamy and light in the middle of the week (especially when I've already had my ice cream "allowance" for the week and it's only Tuesday).

Creamy Apple Dessert Salad

yields 5 servings

5 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
5 Tbsp lite Cool Whip
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 apples, cored and chopped (use red and green apples for color)
1/4 c dried cranberries
Garnishes: walnuts, chopped; extra cinnamon

In a bowl, combine yogurt, Cool Whip, and cinnamon. Add in apples and cranberries, and toss to coat. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon.

*Note: I prefer apples in this because other soft fruit, like peaches, strawberries, and pears, do not keep well. However, if the entire dish might be used in one day, by all means try whatever fruit sparks your fancy. I also like halved grapes and blueberries in mine. Also, I will add an additional tablespoon of both the yogurt and Cool Whip, plus a heaping tablespoon of chocolate protein know, for the days when I need a healthy chocolate fix and I'm out of dark chocolate and pay day isn't until next week.

Nutritional Information
Per (original) serving: 109 calories, 3 Fat, 22 Carbs, 3 Fiber, 2 Protein

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

And It's Been 1 Year....

Holy frijoles.

One year ago today I was introduced to my new co-workers as the new Youth Services Librarian at Warren-Trumbull County Public Library's Howland Branch. Which meant I was leaving the writing tutor life behind, packing up my stuff, and saying good-bye to these lovely ladies (and a few not pictured).

I miss these girls; they were the best part of that job. But, thankfully, I still get to see their smiling faces and hear about their days over books, coffee, and gelato.

Nowadays, I wake up and rush, with coffee in hand, head in to a job I a.d.o.r.e.

Daily, I see a few more smiling faces, laugh with my awesome and brilliant co-workers, peruse children's literature, master my crafting skills, create the most amazing programs ever, continue my education, share my passion for yoga, and receive the greatest hugs (and my kiddos give the greatest hugs.) It has been a fan-freaking-tastic last 365 days.

Let's reflect on that, shall we?


And, of course, to celebrate I picked up some Starbucks (like I need a reason for a Nonfat Double Tall Iced Caramel Macchiato). Starbucks must have known I was celebrating...they gave me a free drink voucher. LOVE.


With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Sooooo, here's what I've been obsessed with lately......

But first, let me give a shout out to my mama.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

I hope everyone is celebrating their own mamas today, spoiling them with food, flowers, love, and gifts. Or maybe dinner out. Or a pedicure. Or a new tumbler.

Or maybe you're having a Very Vera Mother's Day like a few mamas I know.....

Anyhoo, here's a look at what has been going on at Sweet B's lately.

New running shoes.

Gardening. Slowly.

Cleaning up messes like this at work. Ai. Yi. Yi.

Neighborly baking. The little girls next door made us a delicious plate of chocolate chip cookies.

Extra space at my library. I can finally (!) purchase more CDS and audio books for my collection.

Landscaping and growing grass. Haha.

And a fantastic Pinkalicious Tea Party.

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I'm Reading

Y'all, my reading time has been very sporadic these last few weeks. Almost to the point where it's non-existent, except in the Youth Book Awards category. Caldecotts, Coretta Scott Kings, Belpres, and others have littered my desk at work, car, and home these last few months. Mr. B [politely] asked when we'd see our dining room table again.

I've been busy at work planning Summer Reading programs, meaning my lunch is at my desk while working. Any down time at home consists of multiple trips to Lowe's (yes, Mama and Daddy, Lowe's) buying shrubs, mulch, garden supplies, pest control, outdoor lights, ceiling fans, and anything else Mr. B can find. We never stop improving. However, I have succeeded in convincing Mr. B to buy me a peach tree.

He has promised.

You pick your battles, ladies.

I digress. What I'm trying to say is I can't believe my lack of reading lately (and posting!). But I am still reading, and here's a peek at part of the dining room table (which is now very visible, by the way).

Beautiful Redemption (Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl)
The 4th and final book in the Beautiful Creatures series.

Alas, I have yet to see the movie. But I fell in love with this series a few years ago and could not wait for the release of the final book. I was immersed in our new home and my new job, and finally in January I remembered the book came out....last October!. I was a little behind so I rushed out to buy it, but decided I needed to play catch-up and re-read the first three. (I also talked my book club into reading the first one, which I started and finished during our vacation to Las Vegas.) I'm not sure if I'm going to like the movie, but I'll let y'all know. It is a young adult fantasy novel about a boy living in a small town in South Carolina where nothing ever happens....until he meets Lena and her Caster family. Follow this link for a more in-depth review, but look out for spoilers if you haven't read the others!

Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood 
Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen
(Trisha Yearwood)

I love Trisha Yearwood. I love cookbooks. And her's are fabulous. I must own both. And soon. Not all of the recipes include pictures, which is sad because the ones that do have me drooling over the recipes. The first thing I made from her book was the Barbecued Ribs. YUM-O. Now I can't wait to try her Zucchini Bake. Mr. B and I are currently addicted to zucchini. Preferably roasted in the oven with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Here's a snapshot of some other cooking/gardening books I perused. I'm really excited to experiment with cat treats for our little Siamese. And here's the little darling...not so darling when you wake her up.

Killing Lincoln
Killing Kennedy (Bill O'Reilly)

A few months ago Mama let me borrow Killing Lincoln. I was so into it, I had that sucker done in less than a week. I was so engrossed I found myself thinking, maybe Lincoln won't be assassinated. Ha. O'Reilly's writing style had me completely right there in the middle of one of the darkest times ever in American history. Brilliant. Now my fingers are just itchin' to pick up Killing Kennedy (which Mama kindly lent me as well), but I know if I do I'll never finish this month's book club read....

Firefly Lane (Kristen Hannah)

This is my newest Book Club read. One of the members suggested it because her grandfather just finished it and he really, really enjoyed it. Hmmm.....not sure if our tastes are similar, but we all decided to give it a go. I'm only a fourth of the way through it, and while I don't hate it, I can easily see me putting it down and never picking it up again. I'm going to give it another 100 pages and see how I feel then. The back story: a friendship between two women from Seattle spans three decades. But then something happens. Will their friendship survive? Considering the novel starts in the 70s, I feel I can't relate to it as much as women who lived through the 70s could. We'll see....

And a children's book for y'all!

Children's Book-a-Day Almanac (Anita Silvey)

Each calendar day is filled with facts, book information, and an essay recommending one book to celebrate that day. For example: Today's (May 6) book is Rascal, by Sterling North. The first week of May is National Pet Week so this book fits perfectly. The day also includes tidbits on famous birthdays and the celebration of No Homework Day. This is a fun book for any lover of children's lit. Some of my favorites are in here, and I'm hoping to discover new ones.

Have you read anything good lately?

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, May 3, 2013

It's Friday!

...and that means the weekend.

But not for me. Not this week.

I have to work today and Saturday because I'm helping a co-worker with a Pinkalicious Tea Party at the library. To say I'm excited is an understatement. When I saw the program on the calendar, I guess I showed my excitement a little too much and it was decided I would help. It's not necessarily the Pinkalicious part; it's the tea part. But there won't really be any tea....hmmmm. But I get to wear pink and ice cookies.

Anyhoo, I'm helping out and won't be able to enjoy this beautiful weather (however, I was off Wednesday and it was gorgeous). I hope you get the chance to, though!

So, I thought I'd share some Lady A motivation to kick start your weekend, no matter your plans. Enjoy :)

*I promise to share photos from the Pinkalicious party.

With Love and God Bless,