Wednesday, April 30, 2014

3. Baseball

America's favorite pastime.

Football and baseball are really big in my household, currently and while growing up. I remember watching the Cleveland Indians' 1997 heartbreak along with my Grandpa Bays. I'm still heartbroken. But we watched faithfully. Together. Together faithful. Together heartbroken. And so on it went. Ahhh, baseball.

Some of my family members have fond[er] memories. They're devoted Cincinnati Reds fans. Daddy and my brother are among these happy supporters. It can get tense during the multiple "Battle of Ohios" we experience throughout the season (and football season as well don't forget!). It's fun, competitive, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Unlike football, where our family roots for numerous teams, when baseball season rolls around, we're Ohio faithfuls. FYI, for your own safety do not bring up Pete Rose...just don't. Avoid the name unless you're of the Yes-to-Cooperstown! crowd.

Anyhoo, my family loves this sport. Daddy grew up playing catcher and heading to state. My brother and I played (yes, softball falls under this umbrella). Mama and many cousins played softball and baseball. Daddy and Mama coached pee-wee girls softball in my hometown for a season or two. I was part of my small town's first middle school-aged softball leagues. We won the very first game, and remained undefeated for three years, thank you very much. Go Red Team!

I think I was 10 here and ready to get my ball on.
Mr. B is very much a fan of the sport. He almost attended Arizona State on a nice baseball scholarship. Did I mention we love baseball? We try to attend as many games as possible each season. Unfortunately, our alternating schedules don't really allow for this so we aim for four to five games a season. We enjoy attending games as a family, both in Cleveland and Cincinnati. And, of course, don't forget the farm teams!

What I love most about baseball season are the sounds and smells that go along with it. Hitting up the batting cages. The sound of the ball against the glove. LOVE it. Pop-ups in the backyard until you can't possibly throw anymore because your arm hurts and you're running out of daylight. The sound of the cleats as you walk down the hallway. The seventh inning stretch. If you've never experienced a professional ball game, please, please add it to your bucket list. There's nothing like it. And you'll have quite the memorable experience.

Speaking of...we've had quite the memorable experiences.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane. When I was younger, Daddy created round bases out of wood so we could play baseball in the open field behind my grandparent's house. Every summer the whole family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and a few neighbors) would get together to play a huge game. I remember one year Grandma was up, using a 2x4 as a bat. She ended up easily making it to second base, mainly because I think my Uncle Rick was a little scared to throw out Grandma. It was quite amusing watching Grandma run the bases barefoot with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Oh, good times.

My Aunt Joann took me to my first professional ball game the summer before I started college. At an Indians game, we were chit-chatting and not paying attention when we heard the bat. If you know baseball, you know what I mean. It made the kind of sound you know ball and bat just connected and it's flying OUT OF HERE. Foul or fair. We were on the first baseline and all I remember is my aunt hollering "Oh no!" We both jumped out of our seats (of course, not quite as gracefully as we could have) to duck in the aisle as we watched the ball pretty much line-drive an older woman a couple rows back. We didn't need to get out of the way. We were safe but, you know, more than happy to entertain the fans around us. Oh, good times.

Walk-offs. Grand slams. Pie-in-the-face celebrations. Fireworks. Bobble head nights.

I have quite the collection.

Another fun story. Mama, I know you know what's coming. I apologize, but I have to. The parents, aunt, and me made our way to an Indians-Reds game in Cincinnati five to six summers back. Mama isn't the huge baseball fan the rest of us are. Mama finds it boring [big gasp]. Mama, and I have to clarify, had stayed up pretty late with my grandma for a chemo treatment the night before. We had seats a few rows back from the third baseline and Mama kept dozing off. The rest of us thought it was funny to yell "foul ball!" and watch her jump up and try to get out of the way. The first two times were hilarious. Then it, umm, wasn't funny anymore. Yeah. Mama was not a fan of our little joke. :)

Yes, very good times. Two-hour rain delays. Snow. Bugs. Extra innings. Camaraderie amongst fans. Booing the Yankees. Cheering favorite returning players. Booing a stalling pitcher. "Hang On Sloopy" in the eighth. OH-IO.

Baseball is where many a Father's Day has been celebrated.

Many an anniversary or a birthday.

It's tradition for us to stop at Steak 'n' Shake as we make our way home. Because stadium prices tend to be ridiculous, very seldom do we actually eat at the ballpark. If we do, it's usually because it's Dollar Dog Night. I look forward to my milkshake whether we win or lose. Yes, I am always a winner.

And I'm in dire need of these.


With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 28, 2014

What I'm Reading

I found Hartman's Seraphina absolutely fascinating. As you know, in my last WIR post I could not wait to finish this book. Yes, I did choose dragons and a murder mystery and an [almost] love affair over a good night's sleep. It was well worth it. One of the best young adult fantasy novels I have read in quite some time. This book was my selection for this past month's book club. We did another one of those "choose your own and share" readings; however, you had to stay within the guidelines of young adult and fantasy/sci-fi.

FYI. Other members selected The Nightmare Affair, by Mindee Arnett (okay, but written for a really young audience), Stardust by Neil Gaiman ("not sure, have to read more of his stuff") and The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (good, but not as great as her Seventh Realm series).

When the decision to read YA fantasy was made, I was very unsure about what I wanted to read. After much perusal, I chose Seraphina because it was a 2013 Morris Winner, which is awarded to the debut book of a new YA author. It was full of mystery, romance, and fantasy. Even though I was a tad confused at the beginning because I was unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, I quickly understood and couldn't turn the pages fast enough. (Oh, by the way, there is a glossary in the back of the book, which I did not discover until I reached the back of the book. Just a little heads up.) Hartman's writing is excellent, and her characters and scenes are well developed. I'm not usually into this sort of sci-fi/fantasy/dragon genre, but I was captured with Seraphina and her story. In a quick nutshell, there is a murder and it looks like a dragon did it, so there is now an investigation because the people and the dragons (which take human form when communicating) are supposed to be at peace with each other. Seraphina plays music at court, and she and the [illegitimate] prince team up to discover the truth. But Seraphina has her own huge secret. I found myself frustrated (in a good way!) with some of the situations, wanting some people to open their eyes and hearts a little sooner, shall I say. I might have teared up. I can't wait for the follow-up novel which comes out next year. (The author keeps pushing back the publishing date, which is causing an uproar among her fans. I fall into this category. Hurry up!)

Along with my Easter Bible study and devotional study, I chose to read through the 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue devotional by Deborah Smith Pegues as well. I gave this one 3 1/2 stars on my Goodreads account. I really liked the idea of this book; however, I feel she takes on a heavy subject very lightly. I was hoping for a deeper reading of each of the 30 different "tongues" we must tame daily. Pegues breaks each one into a short 2-3 page explanation, including scripture, with a short daily assessment test. I understand this is supposed to be taken as a daily devotional, but still I think it could have gone a little deeper. However, she does short really well, so I'd highly recommend this to someone who is interested but doesn't have much time. I was very interested in this topic and wanted more examples of taming.

To be completely honest, I found Gone Girl quite disappointing. I have no idea what all the hype was about. This book is...twisted. Not quite my cup of tea. I haven't read anything else by Gillian Flynn and I guess I don't care to. It's not that I completely disliked the book, I found it just okay. Nothing to write home about or to run out and share the details with a friend, recommending it a must-read. (I didn't even feel the need to bring it up to my book club ladies the other night.) To me, it felt quite predictable, and I think that's why I had a hard time getting through it. I already [guessed] how it ended (and my thoughts were right...unfortunately), which caused me to put it down, and reluctantly pick it back up each time. Still, with that being said, I'm very interested in seeing the movie and how it's adapted to screen.

Also, I finally made time to read the much acclaimed Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. It won almost every juvenile award possible. It's been sitting on my desk since award season last year. It was a great and easy read, and quite interesting. I thought it had a very Jim Murphy-feel to it. Definitely worth picking up if you have the slightest interest in the atomic bomb.

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli


I'm a pasta girl. No matter how much I try to not be a pasta girl, you know heavy carbs and gluten and all that jazz, I can't help it. I'm a pasta girl. It's delicious. Versatile. Quick. Easily feeds a crowd. Cheap. Did I mention it was delicious?

However, when asked my favorite ethnic food I always answer Mexican. I guess I'm also a taco and nachos girl. Oh, and we love fajitas over here! I'd say we have Italian night just as often as Mexican night. But we're talking noodle, right now. And quick week-night dinners. And, my friends, this one is a no-brainer. It's simple. It's versatile. It's cheap. It can feed a crowd.

Folks, it's pasta.

Sprinkled with protein and greens.

Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli
Serves 6

3 c pasta (any type would work)
4 c broccoli, chopped
3 Tbsp Italian or vinaigrette dressing
3 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
garlic, minced
2 c favorite marinara sauce
2-3 Mini Babybel single cheese rounds, cubed
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli to cooking water during the last 3 minutes. Meanwhile, heat dressing in large pan on med-high heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; continue to cook for another 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Drain pasta mix; return to pan and set aside. Add marinara and cubed cheese to chicken skillet; cook on med-low 2-3 minutes or until cheese is completely melted, mixture is well blended and chicken is coated, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm. Add pasta and broccoli to sauce mix; mix well. When ready to serve, plate pasta with sliced chicken on top, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Photo an Hour

7 AM

8 AM

9 AM

10 AM

11 AM

12 PM

1 PM

2 PM

3 PM

4 PM

5 PM

6 PM

7 PM

8 PM

9 PM

10 PM

Just to clear up 8 o'clock. We did not get a new Camaro. Some family friends stopped by to show us their new gorgeous car. Although, I'm a Corvette gal myself ;)

And here's the recipe link to the Lemon Berry Angel Food Cake Trifle I made. My mother-in-law absolutely loved it. (Psst...I plan to devote a whole post to my experience with oil pulling, so stay tuned!)

I hope everyone had a very happy and blessed Easter!

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

20 Things {Blog Series}

I found myself with a little extra free time today, and I came across this neat little list about blog topics, conversation starters, ice-breaker questions, etc. I thought, how fun! More random stuff to entertain my readers. Sweet. I'll try to fit in these short, informational posts once a month or so. You're welcome ;)

So kicking off this new "Blog Series" are my 20 random facts. For more randomness, check out this post.

  1. I'm an Irish twin. My younger brother and I are the same age for one day.
  2. Gardenias and calla lilies are my favorites.
  3. I never had a manicure or color on my hair. All natural over here. However, I think I would thoroughly enjoy a pedicure.
  4. I can spend hours in Target, literally. I just need a warm Starbucks beverage in hand, a buddy, and a reason, and before you know it, hours have passed and I have a full basket of items I didn't know I needed. It's my favorite store. (Actually, my absolute favorite is Banana Republic, but I can't really afford to shop there as often. My bank account and Mr. B are my constant reminders.)
  5. I am in full belief a bucket of fair fries with vinegar is a perfectly healthy dinner during fair season.
  6. I eat a Granny Smith apple with raw almond butter
  7. I collect coffee mugs, Vera Bradley, and cookbooks. (And magnets from vacation trips.) Oh, and family Christmas ornaments!
  8. My favorite number is 8. I learned recently it's considered a power number. If I can't have 8, then I'll select something with an 8 in it or a dividend of 8. I am all about an even 8.
  9. I have a tattoo on my hip of a pink and blue butterfly. I have it for two reasons, 1) a butterfly is a symbol of rebirth. A re-dedication of my life. Christ is often compared to a butterfly. 2) it's in remembrance of my paternal grandparents. I lost both of them to cancer.
  10. I drink my coffee black, mostly it's straight espresso. Unless I'm treating myself, then it's a Caramel Macchiato. Extra espresso. Multiple shots, please.
  11. Besides dogs, my favorite animals are penguins, squirrels (black!), and tigers. Those tigers are absolutely beautiful.
  12. Never do I go anywhere without a book.
  13. Or slippers. I always have slippers with me. Because, you know, it's cold sometimes.
  14. I prefer, actually, to do the dishes by hand myself. I've been doing dishes since I could stand on a chair and help, so I can get those suckers done faster than Mr. B can clear the table. But I LOATHE drying.
  15. I'm terrified of scary movies! In my tween years I quite enjoyed scary movies. As I grew up, I'd watch them every once in a while. I was home from college one summer and had my eyes "covered" as I watched a few parts of The Grudge. I remember Daddy telling me to just turn it off if I was scared. I didn't. I was determined to see it through. BUT, a year or so later I decided to watch The Strangers on Halloween night, alone in our apartment (Mr. B was working midnights at the time), with all of the lights on. I have never been more petrified in my entire life. I had to fast forward through parts so I'd know what was coming. I remember watching it through tears and fingers. Afterwards, I declared "never again!" and stayed up until Mr. B came home around 6 a.m. I haven't watched a scary movie since.
  16. I think fennel is the devil. It's probably worse than my dislike for pineapple. However, I will probably never eat pineapple again so I can't give you an adequate answer.
  17. I dream very vividly multiple times a night, and usually remember them. Mr. B however never does. It's a very rare occasion when he has a dream to tell me about. I, on the other hand, have about five to recall to him upon waking.
  18. I have troubles spelling weird. I can never remember if it's ei or ie. Instead I'm always finding a way to say that's odd....ha! Also, in 4th grade I came in third place in my school's spelling bee because of that forgotten "c" in AntarCtica. Never again! <--- she says with a shaking fist.
  19. I listen to Christmas music all year round. Love my Pandora stations shuffle option.
  20. I jump at every chance to make a list :)
With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week-Night Turkey Skillet

Let's be honest. I love food and I love cooking. I love cooking and baking for others to enjoy. However, by the time Wednesday rolls around and I come home from working all day, the last thing I want to do is cook. And eating out is not an option. Mr. B and I hardly ever eat out, and when we do it's usually planned, when we're off, and certainly not fast food. So mid-week dinners out are not for us, which means I'm digging through my brain during my drive home trying to think up something quick for dinner. I have a few trusty favorites, like breakfast, tacos/nachos, sandwiches (BLTs and grilled cheeses), snack plate and salads, or leftovers.

But lately, we've been enjoying my throw-whatever-I-can-find-or-needs-to-be-used-because-it's-dying-in-the-fridge turkey skillet. Y'all these one skillet dinners were a staple in my house growing up. Grandma Barb loves throwing everything in one pan to quickly feed a bunch of hangry people. Which is who I'm sure Mama got it from. And now I'm throwing everything in one pan to quickly feed my hangry husband. This turkey skillet is perfect because I toss in whatever vegetables I have on hand, which usually consists of a plethora of bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Also, it helps me to rid my pantry of the few bags of pasta that have barely enough pasta to make anything. And who doesn't have canned diced tomatoes on hand? (Aunt Joann, don't answer that!) Okay, most of us have canned diced tomatoes on hand. Most of us like tomatoes.

Mmmm....toss it all in a pan (and, if you're feeling up to more chopping, along with a salad) and very soon you'll have a very satisfied belly and husband.

Turkey Skillet
Serves 4-6

1 lb ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 c chopped mushrooms
1 c small pasta
1.5 cans diced tomatoes, slightly drained
1/2 T garlic powder

In large skillet, brown turkey along with chopped veggies. Stir in garlic powder. (Feel free to throw in whatever veggies you have on hand that need used.*) Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water. Add diced tomatoes to meat mixture. Stir, and once simmering slightly, add cooked pasta. Simmer another few minutes until liquid is absorbed. Serve immediately. Sprinkling with cheese is optional...although it doesn't need it really. This quick week-night dinner is quite tasty.

*If adding more veggies then called for, add more diced tomatoes.

Nutritional Information
Per serving for 6: 223 calories, 7 fat, 22 protein, 2 fiber, 5 sugar

This meal is even faster if you have any leftover plain cooked pasta stowed away in the fridge from earlier in the week. Or if you have a container of veggies already chopped hiding somewhere in your fridge. Enjoy!

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eight Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

During my whole can I have dairy, can I not have dairy, should I just forget it and eat dairy anyway because I want to, by golly(!) fiasco, I discovered one small glass of this satisfied my ice cream craving perfectly. And that's all I want. One glass. Every night. This, too, could turn into an issue....

2. My new Lipstick necklace.

From Premier Designs jewelry. I am completely giddy about this chunky, very pink necklace. I have so many summer dresses I see matching perfectly with this piece, I can't wait for the sunshine! A beautiful pop of color.

3. <---UPDATE: this site decided to close down May 2016 :(

Thanks to Jen over at Peanut Butter Runner, I have found my latest web site addiction. And I am addicted. Above is a screen shot of my home page, which---once you answer a few questions---caters to your personal interests. It provides healthy challenges of all sorts. "A daily opportunity to kick butt." You know I love mini challenges. The challenges I have going right now include Stop Skipping Breakfast, A**hole-Proof Your Week, Eat One Vegan Meal Every Day, and Declutter Your Workspace. Plus, the short articles, quick tips, and healthy living facts feed my addiction.  Also, it can sync to your other accounts (like My Fitness Pal or a Fit Bit) which is excellent for keeping track of all your different entries in one place. I am telling y'all, check this out. (Yes, it's FREE.)

4. Grilled Cheeses!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven't had a grilled cheese since November. Honestly. Don't worry I have rescued myself from this no dairy devastation. But I must keep my dairy intake in moderation. So, grilled cheeses every day for a week! I must make up for these past months of deprivation.

5. Unglued Bible Study.

My particular Good Morning Girls' group leader of our Facebook chapter, suggested a book study to the members, and asked if anyone was interested. Am I interested?! Let me tell you what I do for a living. Let me tell you about my other book group. Let me tell you all about the books on my mile-long to-read list. Yes, please, sign me up. (Let me not tell you I was the first person to scream, Interested!) We're half way through the book and I'm finding it very encouraging, inspiring, and most importantly, relatable. Lysa TerKeurst has a humorous and effective way of getting her point across while illustrating very familiar unglued situations. Yes, like the nerd I am, I went out and picked up the book's devotional as well. I highly recommend picking up both books. What an important and encouraging study.

6. Dishing out my own fresh nut butter at the new Market District.

I make it right there. It's still so, so warm. And then I get a free sample to enjoy as I walk around the store purely astonished at the price of healthy, "good for you" food. If this food was much cheaper, I'm sure the obesity epidemic would plummet. I'd love to buy these organic apples, but when three of them cost as much as a whole bushel of the non-organic ones...I'm just saying. Thank goodness my almond nut butter is reasonably priced. And thank goodness for local produce which keeps my grocery budget on the cheap[er] side.

Oh, and I enjoy their Oil and Vinegar Bar, too!

7. My new Vera Bradley haul. Patterns galore.

This year's trip was fan-freaking-tastic. I wish I grabbed more headbands, flip-flops, and slippers. Love these items...soooo comfy!

8. Warmer weather.

Hello, Spring! And by that I mean spring cleaning. Mr. B wiped down all the windows, while I tackled the closets, switched out the clothes, and cleaned off the outside furniture.

We are grilling out tonight, yes sir!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Must-Have VB Road Trip Snacks

It's here! It's here! THE VERA BRADLEY OUTLET SALE 2014 IS HERE!

We're pulling out early this morning, heading to Fort Wayne, IN to do a [tiny] bit of damage to our bank accounts. Don't tell our husbands. Every year they trust us to be responsible women in search of a few things we don't need. Every year they realize we have [very little] control when around said things of the Vera Bradley nature. When discussing mine and Jessica's smaller, umm let's go with budgets here, with my husband, I realized Mr. B likes the idea of this set, albeit smaller, limitation. I figure when I slightly go over that amount, he won't be entirely shocked. That seems like an easy WIN for both of us, right? Yep, that's what I thought. Genius.

This morning I woke up extra early to squeeze in a short yoga practice and enjoy one of my VIA Protein Power Shakes. (A definite must on the days I need to be on the go-go-go.) And, of course, to make sure I didn't miss anything I might need and forgotten to pack in my mad rush to cram as many things as I could into my VB bag[s]. You never know what you might need for a less than 48-hour trip away from home.

What I didn't forget to pack were plenty of road trip snacks. Here are my must-haves to keep our bellies satisfied.

My latest chip obsession.

I'm a huge fan of granola bars (particularly those of the homemade kind). They are always a great snack option for the road. Normally, I make some beforehand, but I ran out of time, so I grabbed a few store-bought favorites, including these berry crisps that I forgot I really, really, really enjoy. Usually, I prefer Larabars, but my store was all out.

A favorite chocolate candy. I don't normally indulge in candy, but when I do, for some reason I like the most expensive one on the shelf. Yes, I know, Jessica, champagne taste on a water budget. Champagne taste on a water budget. (<--- insert heavy sigh).

I packed my beloved nut butter and apples, along with some crudites and sliced strawberries. Plus, a plethora of beverages because I enjoy options.

Of course, we can't be without the cookies!

Alas, last year Jessica and her mother-in-law were not the devoted fans of the Black Bean Chocolate Chili [Cranberry] Cookies that I was/am, so I made them their own cookies guess I'm enjoying these all by myself. (I know, I'm awful. Jessica, I know you're reading this and I had every intention of making you separate cookies to [hopefully] thoroughly enjoy, but I was too busy catching up on the last season of Blue Bloods because the DVD was due back to the library yesterday and those movie fines can add up in a hurry. Plus, I'm a good librarian/patron. Gold star. But I digress.) Anyhoo, I'm bringing these along to make up for it. Cheers!

And I don't think I need to mention where our car will be headed first....

I think we're ready for a tasty road trip. Onward, ladies!

With Love and God Bless,