Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Sweets


Y'all, I have been waiting FOREVER for a puppy dog of my own. (And now I can finally cross off the first thing on my 30 Before 30 list!) I am a huge dog person, and I love these four-legged family members. And from where I come from, they are family members. And we've had many of them, with plenty of love to go around.

Side note: a running list in my parent's household includes JoJo (Cocker Spaniel), ----> failed attempts with Chance (Chow-Chow/Lab mix) and Teeny (Dachshund) until we found the perfect fit with Sammy (Chihuahua), then he passed and my parents gave order...Ice (Siberian Husky), Sheldon (collie), and Tiki (Jack Russel/Lab mix). Since I've been out of the house, my parents have had Franklin--a.k.a. Chopper (terrier mix?), Rizzo (Maltese/Papillon mix), and after her unexpected passing now have Gibbs (mix?).

[Don't even get me started on other beloved family members' pets which names include, Tippy, Taffy, Lucky Charms, Monica and Chandler, Buffy, PJ, Jake, and mention a few. Did I mention we love our puppy dogs over here? Did I mention I love finding out pets' names? I think the pet's name says a lot about its owner.]

I'm sure you can imagine my disappoint when I met Mr. B, almost seven years ago, and discovered he was the proud owner of Siamese. Yes, I'm not a cat person, never have been. This probably stems from the first cat [and LAST cat] I ever owned at the age of eight. Her name was Bootsy (because she was all black except for her four white paws) and she was nothing but a living terror for the month or so we had her. She kept trying to get out of our house, tearing down the screens, biting people, and finally we set her free. She continued to haunt our neighborhood for years.

Whoa, big sidetrack. Anyhoo. On Friday we picked up this cutie, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and he'll be nine weeks old tomorrow. I love him to pieces. I mean Be.Still.My.Heart.

Oh, Mr. Darcy, you are just precious on a stick.

Since we were picking him up near my hometown, we had to stop and show him off. Mama and my aunt fell all over him. How can you not?! Just look at that face. And those stubby legs. And that BUTT! Once we arrived home, two hours later with no accidents or issues, the neighbors and in-laws were all over him. Mr. Darcy is definitely not shy, loves the outdoors, and enjoys car rides. Siamese is handling this new four-legged intruder quite well actually. When we entered the house, she hissed at him to let him know who's boss. She is constantly following him around, keeping a close eye, and glares whenever Mr. B shows him any attention. I think we have one jealous lady. Mr. Darcy was scared of her that first night, yet after a good night's sleep he's now quite curious of her. But we're keeping them at a distance for now....

We made it through almost 24 hours without any accidents. And, as of now, we had only one little incident. Can I brag a little more on this sweet boy? In less than two days, Mr. Darcy knows how to fetch and bring back, tug with his toys, knows where his food and water bowls are and the times he gets his meals, and is bell potty-trained. Two days, my friends. Two days. And this morning, he now knows his name. Corgis are brilliant dogs. I am one proud Mama.

And these two...I can't get enough of watching them together. Best buddies.

However, I can't get anything done! Mr. Darcy loves playing and chewing, but you need to be right by him. If you walk away or turn your head to look at the phone or the TV or a chipmunk running across the driveway, he immediately stops what he's doing and nips at your heels (herding you) until you give him 100% of your attention. And I can't pick him up and carry him around. Oh no, this little boy is too busy exploring and chewing everything. He does not have time to be held. He gets all squirmy, and his stubby legs get going. If he's tired or scared then, by all means, cuddle away. Mr. B keeps telling me to put him in his exercise pen (THE best purchase ever--but more on that later), but I feel bad keeping him confined if I don't want him to nap. But his puppy-self needs many naps.

And, y'all, oh how he loves his tennis ball and carrots.

Heads up! Puppy pictures galore will soon be all over this blog, I'm sure. :)

I'll post a puppy update soon. Until then, I'll be over here trying to keep all my fingers.

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mid-Week Ramblings {Blog Series}


Today, I'm playing along with the recent 20 questions floating around the blog world....even though I participated in another one last month. But Q&A's are so fun.

1. What brings you the greatest joy?
Knowing I am a child of God and am surrounded by love.

2. What are your vices? 
Ice cream. Coffee mugs. Shoes and sundresses.

3. What is on your nightstand?
A few things, which Mr. B constantly grumbles about when he dusts. But I can't help it; I mean, a nightstand is supposed to have things on it, right? Besides a lamp? (Said lamp is apparently for looks only, according to Mr. B. who, again, grumbles when I want to read at night and he wants to go to sleep. Ai yi yi...) So, with all that being said, here's a short tour: said lamp, wedding picture, a book with daily inspirational quotes and scriptures, a gardenia-scented candle, favorite Aveeno moisturizer, lip balm from The Body Shop, my Bible in its Vera Bradley Carnaby Good Book case (in case wondering minds wanted to know), the current Yoga Journal, and water.

4. Do you have a secret talent? 
Ummm, no. But I do think I have a gift with words :)

5. What is your greatest indulgence?
Cheesecake. Probably once a year, and I usually request it as my birthday "cake."

6. What should every woman try at least once in her life? 
Focusing on improving/creating a personal relationship with God. The strength and understanding she will come to know from His truth is life-altering.

7. What makes you laugh? 
Mr. B. This man....I pee my pants daily. Possibly too much information, but I love to laugh. I come from a very comedic family.

8. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I grew up wanting to be a singer, then an actress, then a singer, then an actress, and back and forth I went until graduation day came and I went off to Kent State as a journalism major. Yes, I'm sure God, too, laughed at my plans.

9. What is on your bucket list?
To go horseback riding. I've never been. I don't think riding the pony at the county fair when I was little counts.

10. What is on your feet right now? 
11. How did you make your first dollar? 
At a local diner/ice cream parlor called Miller's. I was your local car-hop gal (minus the skates).

12. What superstition do you believe in?
I don't believe in superstitions. However, I am in full belief that when you see a rainbow, God is promising you something.

13. What items in your closet do you wear the most?
Probably my various dress pants for work and cardigans/jackets. I'm in need of layers because my body temperature changes multiple times hourly. I'm usually cold. (In warmer weather, it would be my sundresses ---> see #2.)

14. What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
I'm not materialistic at all, but I would have to say the best gift was my high school graduation gift from my parents. Daddy made me a hope chest. I had no idea and was surprised completely.

15. What is on your liquor shelf?
I don't drink, except for the occasional glass of wine here and nada.

16. What is on your kitchen counter?
I'll tell you one thing that isn't on my kitchen counter. A coffee pot. Because I have a beautiful coffee bar.

17. What would you never leave home without?
Sunglasses! It's Ohio, people. The weather changes every five minutes.

18. What movie has the greatest ending?

19. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
Ummmm....these two.

20. What is one thing you wish you had known when you were younger?
How unhealthy pop and processed and fast food are for you!!!! Ugh. Especially when childhood is such an important time to build healthy habits.

Cheers to a fabulous rest of the week!

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cookie Troubles

What is up with my Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Every time I go to make these for Mr. B, whether it's the same recipe or a slight tweak, they come out looking different. Every. Time. Sometimes flat. Chunky. Crumbled. Perfect. A total mess. Soft and chewy. Crispy. Hmmm...maybe the cookies reflect my mood?

My old favorite chocolate chips included instant vanilla pudding as the secret ingredient, and then I tried it using mashed up bananas to replace the butter. These made them extra moist (but if left uncovered overnight, the next morning were the perfect texture), and you couldn't taste the banana unless you knew it was in there. Now I always replace the eggs with flax/chia eggs and use less sugar than called for. I've made this version with plain Greek yogurt as a butter replacement, and I like that version best.

I recently ran across this chocolate chip recipe and decided to give the secret ingredient and method a go. I replaced the full egg with a flax egg, and I divided up the dough, making one batch as soon as the dough finished chilling for an hour; the other, I covered the dough balls with plastic and stuck back in the fridge for a little over 24 hours. I sprinkled the sea salt on both batches. FYI. This was by far the fluffiest, creamiest and tastiest batter ever. Not kidding.

The cookies pretty much looked the same, yet Mr. B and I both preferred the cookies from the first batch. For some reason the 24-hour chilled cookies didn't seem to have as much flavor and were a tad too soft for our liking. However, this did not stop Mr. B from consuming either batch within 48 hours. (This is also why I don't make cookies too often; they are devoured.)

With my recent look-back and after annoyingly questioning Mr. B (who can't remember all the varieties really), I decided my favorite cookie is my old favorite with plain Greek yogurt, the sugar halved, flax eggs, sweetened vanilla almond milk, and a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flours, with the addition of chilling the dough for an hour and sprinkling sea salt on top before baking. I must try this combo next time and, of course, I'll be updating you all.

However, in the meantime I might just try this recipe, oh, and this one too. Because I like to try new things. So sorry, Mr. B. I promise to find the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. And I will stick to it.

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, May 16, 2014

{Beauty Series} Oil Pulling

I'm obsessed with coconut oil. I cook and bake with it, use it in my hair, as a moisturizer, home remedies, I use it as a cleanse, eating it by tablespoon every once in a while. Back in February, when my best friend's sister-in-law mentioned she was oil pulling, I was all ears and all in. I've been doing it daily ever since. The results are fabulous. It will forever be part of my morning ritual.
Psst...It's Wear Purple for Peace Day :)
Now, these days I can't read through my blog feed without finding one or two posts about the new oil pulling trend. I've been meaning to share about my experience, and now that I found some unexpected down time I'm blogging away.

So what in the world is oil pulling? Well, every morning after I drink a glass of water, I get up and take a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil and swish it around my mouth for 15-20 minutes. During this time I'm preparing my coffee, breakfast, work lunch, chores, laundry, laying out my clothes, hop in the shower, or taking a stroll around the yard (soon with our puppy!!!!). The more distracted you are the easier it is to reach that 20-minute mark. (The first time I did it I lasted 6 minutes, and by day three I was at 20 minutes.) When I'm finished I spit it in the trash, rinse with a few sips of water, and go about my day. I feel refreshed. My teeth are whitening, and my gums have not bled once since I started (which is saying a lot because I tend to brush a little too hard). It's supposed to help with bad breath, and have anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis treatments, too. Then, after breakfast and coffee, I brush my teeth. (However, I have heard some people only oil-pull and forgo each his own.)

So what is the point? One article states, "In India people credit oil pulling with a range of cures, from reducing all manner of aches and pains to even reversing heart disease....It’s well documented, for example, that ingesting certain kinds of oil has a [pulling effect] on other oils and fat-soluble toxins, such as heavy metals and pesticides, drawing these substances from the fatty tissues of the body." It's also rumored to relieve headaches and detoxify the body by pulling out toxins.

Points to remember: Don't eat anything before oil pulling in order to really pull the toxins out of your mouth and body. However, you want to drink a glass of water beforehand to get your saliva going. Don't swallow or the toxins will go right back into your body. Spit it in the trash. It's oil. It will clog your drain, pipes, and toilet. If the oil is grayish or yellowish then the toxins are coming out. (I don't really pay attention to the color, I just spit it out.) Spit the water you use to rinse with in the trash as well. (I heard of people rinsing with salt water as well.) Don't brush immediately after; it's good to let the oil sit on your teeth.

Some people do this at night before bed. I prefer to do it in the morning. Find the time that fits best with you. It will feel weird at first, but trust me you will easily get used to it. I look forward to oil pulling and use it as my natural morning mouthwash. I'm obsessed.

I convinced Mama to try it and, as long as I melt it down a little bit, Mr. B reaps the benefits too!

Please feel free to ask me any questions! :)

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

all things SUMMER

Sunshine. Thunderstorms. Muggy, sleepless nights. Bugs. Bugs. And more bugs. Batches of iced coffee. Neighbors mowing lawns. Garden bed preparations. Sun tea.

If these aren't signs summer is knocking on the door, then you probably live in Ohio I don't know what is. But they've definitely put me in the SUMMER mood. I say this as I'm looking at the week's forecast and Friday's high is a cloudy 56. Yep. Cloudy with a chance of meatballs. (side note: I'm not a huge meatball fan, never have been. I'll take my spaghetti without, thank you. Actually, I'm not a spaghetti fan either. I think I'll stop there before you write me off completely.)

Of course, this calls for a list. If you know me at all you know this is a must and my blog title alone alerted you to another Sweet B's Type-A lists. So, let's hop to it. My SUMMER bucket list looks like....
  • drink freshly squeezed lemonade and often
  • invite friends and family over for a cookout
  • get back into running with the hubby
  • drink at least 60 oz of water daily
  • buy a new pair of cheap, brightly colored sunglasses
  • cross off some DIY projects
  • hit up garage sales!
  • make 1 night a week HOMEMADE PIZZA night
  • take a few day trips (to some outlet malls and the West Side Market)
  • make homemade gifts for friends and family
  • enjoy my morning coffee on the deck
  • get Mr. B to take me to more fairs and festivals
  • and, of course, consume as many vinegar-soaked fair fries as possible
  • go berry picking (but it has to be with Mama and my aunt because these adventures are hilarious)
  • learn or try 1 new thing
  • throw a themed party
  • hit up the batting cages
  • miniature golf!
  • visit a new place
  • make homemade ice cream in a coffee can
  • make 1 night a week SALAD night (it's too hot to cook)
  • take my yoga practice outside
  • enjoy daily walks to the park
  • multiple park picnics
  • go to the Drive-In (Mr. B and I haven't been since our early dating days)
  • put my homemade ice cream maker to more use this summer (I say this every summer and then end up only using it once or twice)
  • buy a few new sun dresses (ooh and hats!)
  • cross off a few 30 before 30 items
  • star-gaze on the garage roof
  • paint the living room
  • re-design a few old T-shirts
  • make 1 night a week TACO night (with plenty of avocado)
  • go to the zoo
  • finally buy the contraption that will allow me to make popsicles. YUM.
  • read 8 more books on my Bingo Card (so far 9 spaces are complete)
  • cross off a few Life Bucket items
  • more date nights with Mr. B
  • more family game nights on the patio
  • tend my garden a little more often this year
  • roast some pizzas and pies over a bonfire
  • enjoy multiple corn-on-the-cob-and-watermelon dinners
  • make weekly trips to the Farmer's Market
  • fondue dinner
  • dance in the rain...or a water fight sounds good too
  • get in plenty of car washes
  • make banana splits
  • indulge in homemade peach cobbler
  • possibly a theme park...

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Real Life---> Wellness & a Salad

I find it comical that I'm sitting here writing a wellness post for y'all while I'm recovering from the 24-hour stomach flu, which took me out completely this past weekend. And I mean OUT. I missed worked, fretted over program coverage, high fever, dazed and confused for sure. I don't get sick, and when I do it's usually a bout of sinuses and very rarely a head cold. Praise Jesus that I don't get nauseous because I can't handle it. I think it is the worse feeling in the world. Give me a fever. I'll take a whole week of severe allergies if it means I don't have to be nauseous. Lord, help me if and when I become pregnant someday (not that plans for that are soon, mind you.) Actually, Lord, help my husband. I'm sure that will be a definite "for worse."

But after two days of stomaching only soda crackers and a sip or two of Ginger Ale (and then spilling said Ginger ale all over the coffee table rug), I'm feeling much better. Just in time for Monday. Instead of busting out my yoga mat or the new Pilates challenge I was eager to start (just delaying it a day or two) on this dreary, albeit muggy, morning, I'm allowing myself a full day to recover, easing my way back into my routine. So I'm bundled up on the couch enjoying my protein shake, ready to share a few wellness highlights I've been participating in these past few months.

The first involves my place of employment. Over the past year, my job has formed a Wellness Committee in order to encourage its employees to make healthier lifestyle choices by providing diet and exercise motivation. I have the opportunity of serving on this committee and have found it very interesting how differently people view "wellness." Some challenges the committee has organized include:
  • "Lose to Win" This was a 12-week program running from mid October through mid December. Each employee weighed themselves on a scale in the office, and whoever lost the most weight/body fat won. Also, it was a team effort, so the winning team won Walgreen's gift cards. (I'm proud to say I was on the winning side of this one.) Yet, I think most employees were discouraged with this program because of the whole weighing-in.
  • "Racin' Route 66" was an 8-week program. Those participating calculated the amount of steps he/she took every day. Employees were given pedometers to count the steps. The individual who went the farthest distance received a Fit Bit Flex. Since it was a team challenge, each member of the winning team received Fit Bit Zips. (I now have an indentation on my hip from the pedometer. Ouch.) On a side note: it's actually National Odometer Day.

"Racin' Route 66" was the most recent wellness challenge, and it just ended last week. I am a very competitive person, and to say my team actually came in last(!) is upsetting. Who would have thought the Youth Librarians would end up dead last?! As another co-worker and I joked, next time we pick our own teams. A little competition and humor is good for everyone. Losing is sad, humbling, and motivational, so I keep telling my wounded pride. The goal of the whole challenge: to get people to realize how little they actually walk every day. Instead of emailing or calling, if you can, get out of your chair and walk over to the other person. Instead of playing on the computer or reading on all of your breaks, take a 20-minute walk (weather permitting, or stairs permitting, of course). And from what I overheard throughout the last eight weeks, it sounded like we accomplished just that. We brought awareness to how often we sit throughout our day. And unless I did something outside of work, on the days I worked, I wasn't very active. Unless I have a program going on, I am mostly sitting at my desk. Learning this was discouraging; however, I'm now more conscious of what I need to do outside of work to keep active. I make better use of sunny days and 20-minute breaks. I make an effort to walk around my department more, to walk to my co-worker's desk to speak with her (although she might find this annoying), to take that walk before or after dinner as often as I can. Would I be too nerdy if I told you I'm looking forward to the next challenge?

Source: Google Images

Another little personal "wellness" thing I've been doing, now that more fruits and vegetables are in season, is adding salads to my daily meals. If not adding, then I'm aiming to make one meal a day a big salad. My most recent creation is this healthy tuna salad I've been devouring. Yet, I'm limiting myself with these because I know there is all this talk about high mercury levels in tuna and you shouldn't eat it too often. Oh, but it's so good.

Healthier Tuna Salad with Arugula
Serves 1

1 pouch tuna in water (or 2-3 oz)
2 cups arugula
1/4 c cucumber, chopped
1/4 c bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c tomato, chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
splash of olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
sprinkle of pepper

Layer ingredients in a bowl and top with oil, vinegar, and pepper. Enjoy with a few crackers. YUM-O.

Also it's National Salad Month, so eat up!

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, May 8, 2014


I'm currently....

Watching....movies with the family. Mama came up to visit this past weekend, and we watched August: Osage County. Julia Roberts is my absolute favorite actress of all-time, and when the movie became available on Netflix, it shot straight to my #1 spot. If anything, this movie will leave you with thoughts that your crazy family is actually not that crazy. And Meryl Streep. Oh, Meryl Streep. How she did not win an Oscar for her role of Violet is beyond me. I mean that character is phenomenal. Phenomenal-ly crazy.

This morning we received the movie Out of the Furnace, with Christian Bale and Forest Whitaker, but it will have to wait. The next few days will be consumed with The 2014 NFL Draft. And, yes, it starts tonight, my friends.

Eating....strawberries and blackberries, and I am LOVING this time of year. When the berries are cheap at the markets and actually have flavor.When my baskets are full with about eight or nine containers [each]. When I can't wait to rush home and make protein smoothies or toss a handful on top of some plain Greek yogurt for a healthy dessert. The only thing better than this is peach season.YUM. Then I can make this beautiful tart. But for now I might indulge in this Strawberry Tart.

Planning....this coming week's dinner menu. I'm OCD and love to make lists, and if I don't have lists then I pretty much have no idea what I'm doing. I plan dinner menus every week, and I probably follow it four out of the seven days. Either we've run out of ingredients for the planned dish, something came up and we're unexpectedly eating out, or Mr. B decides he's hungry for something I didn't suggest. So, why do I plan a week full of meals? Because I need to know I know what's going on. Lists help me feel like I have it together when I sometimes don't. Lists make me happy. This week the menu includes my nacho tray (for consumption while Draft watching), possibly my mother-in-law's favorite must-now-have-for-every-event cake because, you know, we're celebrating our Mamas this weekend, some chicken on the grill since it's supposed to be so nice out (hitting 80s today!), stir-fry veggies over brown rice, and maybe some spinach and mushroom omelets.

Reading.... I'm working my way through a couple of this year's and last year's Newbery winners. As a Youth Services Librarian, I'm often asked a lot of reader's advisory questions. While I'm usually caught up on all of the new picture books that cross my desk, the juvenile titles take a bit more time to get through. I don't mind suggesting titles from other librarians' (or award-winning) lists, but I really like to familiarize myself with the titles I recommend to my patrons. This takes a lot of time, and I'm not as caught up on this as I'd like to be. NO, I have not read on my shelves. GASP.

Inspired's Bible verse. "You haven't done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy." --John 16:24

Excited about....our new Corgi puppy!!!!!! Mr. B and I will be picking up the little guy over Memorial Day weekend. I CANNOT WAIT. This puppy has been discussed for years because we couldn't agree on a breed, and now that day is almost here. Sixteen days to be exact. I don't think Siamese knows what she's in for :)

I promise to share photos. And quite often. You have been notified. It will be Corgi Nation over here.

For now, let's start with these cuties I found on Pinterest. (Just in case some of you are scratching your head and asking yourself, "What the heck is a Corgi?" like my father-in-law did. P.S. I'm hoping you can actually pronounce it, unlike my father-in-law.)

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Beautiful Month

In case you aren't on Instagram, or don't follow me, here's a peek at my Insta-Life lately.
[*All photos are taken from my Instagram account.]

Shoot. I think we forgot to get something?!

I know I shared the 80-degree day spring cleaning photo a few posts ago, but I had to post again because a few days later came more snow. Cheers to Ohio living.

The never-ending task of creating more space at work.

With Love and God Bless,