Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mr. Darcy's "Gotcha" Day

It's been exactly one year since this little guy bounded into our lives and stole his mama's heart.

He's grown quite a bit.

He still doesn't like to be held.

We had our fights and our makeups.

He's outgrown most of his clothes.... well as his bed.

He knows where he likes his naps.

He's developed quite the personality. And that has gotten him into trouble more often than not.

He NOW loves riding in the car.

He thinks he owns the park.

He really wants to befriend the cat. Right now he settles for herding her around the living room.

He's a pro with the fan. Apparently, we bought it for him.

He's developed a yoga practice (or lack there of).

His little sploots kill me. Too much cuteness.

He's a Mama's Boy.

Happy "Gotcha" Day, Pumpkin! You are my favorite MISTER.

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I'm currently....

Watching.... baseball. BASEBALL. America's favorite pastime.Oh, and the CAVS. In THE FINALS. :)

Eating Drinking.... I've been crazy about my ginger sodas from my local Seven Grains. These are just fabulous and satisfying. My favorite is Reed's Cherry Ginger Brew. My other favorite is their Extra Ginger Brew. Sipping on gingers. All day. I can't get enough.

Planning.... our camping trip this holiday weekend. My parents have rented a space for their camper at a local campsite about 10 minutes from our house. I can't wait! I'm packing and planning snacks and food. Even though it's only a few minutes from the house, Mr. Darcy and I are staying and relaxing and vacationing camping-style. Mr. B will join us when he gets off work on those days, but I plan on staying there. I love camping, and am thrilled Mama and Daddy will be so close. Here's to hoping the skies are clear with no hail, and preferably above 60-degree temperatures, unlike the last time we went camping back in October.

Yep, last time we had hail, rain, a few flurries, and 38 degrees.

Reading.... I'm re-reading the first book in the Outlander series. Actually, I'm listening to the audio book.

Inspired by.... my spa day. It was my first time ever getting a massage, facial, pedicure, and manicure, and it may sound petty, but I'm convinced this is something every woman needs at least once a year. My husband has no idea what he just got himself into with that gift certificate.

Honestly, as I was lying there during my massage, I found my mind kept wandering to things...things I need to do, things I need to add to my to-do list, things at work, things at home, stressful things...and the list goes on. But then I caught myself. I need to shut down and stop every once in awhile. Immediately, I started thanking God for the money for this experience, that we could afford to treat myself and my friend to a much needed day of relaxation. I let go. I gave everything worrying me to God, refusing to take it back from Him as the day went on. I was in a funk these last few weeks and now I feel a thousand times better. And while it was nice, it's not something we can afford often. (Or I should say shouldn't afford often.) But it opened my eyes to how important it is to shut down for a bit and fully relax in His peace and presence. And it shouldn't have to cost a lot of money to do it. I'm inspired to make time for me every week by setting aside an hour to either meditate in His presence on my yoga mat or hide in the bathroom and paint my nails. Maybe a nap will suffice.... Who knows, but I'm committing to this!

Excited about....our mini vacation to Hocking Hills next week!!!! Eeekkk! I have been asking Mr. B to rent a cabin there for years. And we're taking the pup. Eeekkk! :)

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Munster Turkey Burger

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, it's definitely time to get those grills going if you haven't already. I mean, it is National Barbecue and Hamburger month. Over here, Mr. B grills year 'round. That's saying a lot considering we're in Ohio and most of the time the ground is covered in snow. If not snow, then barely above 40 degrees. But, of course, that has never stopped him from a burger or chicken breast grilled to perfection every month of the year.

I love this time of year because of the smells. I step outside my door in the early evening and BBQ smells greet my nose. It's welcoming. It's wonderful. It smells mighty tasty. Personally, I love almost anything on the grill, from steak to pizza, vegetables to peaches, salmon to ears of corn. Oh my goodness, corn. Grilled corn in the husk. YUM.

Here in Ohio, though, Memorial Day weekend is usually too early for our corn.

"Knee high by the Fourth of July" folks!

Occasionally, I may have some from last season still in the freezer. This is highly unlikely. We love our corn.

But one thing is a must this holiday. The grill. And anything and everything that can be grilled. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken breasts, black bean burgers, ribs, vegetable kebabs, sausage, and bratwurst. (You will never find me anywhere near a brat, by the way.) I could go on, but I'm going to stop with the burger.

This turkey burger stuffed with Munster cheese is one of my new on the grill must-haves. Of course, with all the fixin's. It's juicy, well-seasoned, and stacked.

It's something a little lighter for the summer, and will actually please your beef burger-eater of a husband. I promise.

The Munster Burger

Serves 4

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 T Italian seasoning
1 T lemon-pepper seasoning
4 (thin!) slices Munster cheese
All the fixin's: caramelized (or grilled) onions and mushrooms, tomato slices, dill pickles, Romaine lettuce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, black pepper, balsamic vinegar or your favorite BBQ sauce
4 buns, if you prefer your burger on a bun

In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey with both seasonings, working the spices well into the meat. You can use a big wooden spoon or your hands, whatever works best for you. Divide the meat into four sections. My tip for stuffing your burgers --> take the lid of a mayo jar (I always keep one on hand from a previous jar), and lay a piece of plastic wrap on top. Take one section of meat and divide it in half, stuffing one half into the mayo lid. Add a slice of cheese, folding it if necessary in order to fit. Add the other half of the met on top of the cheese and press down. Wrap the sides of the plastic over the meat and press until the cheese is encased in the meat, pinching the sides together so the cheese won't leak out. (If it does, no big deal, it's just extra delicious.) Unwrap the meat, pick up the mayo lid and flip out the burger onto a plate. Continue with the other three patties. Chill the burgers in the fridge a few hours or overnight.

Heat up the grill and cook your burgers until well done. Top with anything you like. WHile Mr. B figures the more the merrier, I prefer my Munster turkey burger on a big leaf of lettuce, topped with a couple slices of tomato, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a dash of black pepper.

*Note: I forgot to take pictures of the burger-making process, so I'm adding a link for you to get a visual of what I'm talking about. Check out this blog for an example until I post my own photos. When I stumbled across this "how to" post, I was excited to see I wasn't the only one being resourceful in the kitchen! (Plus, I love the size it makes the burgers.)

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, May 15, 2015


1. Flowers. So pretty. I'd like to see a show of hands. Who has a husband that decides a purple section of plants would look perfect against the house? Yes, this wife. Right here! Never loved him more. He gets me.

2. And speaking of planting...earlier this month Mr. B and I planted our garden. As of right now, with all the high 80-degree weather, we look like geniuses.

3. It's National Thank Law Enforcement Week. And today is Police Officers Memorial Day. Please, hug a cop. Okay, if you know one really well (like, if he's your husband, wink wink. actually, he's a deputy, so he gets more hugs, wink wink) have at it. They keep us safe. They see people at their worst. EVERY.DAY. I can't get into this topic too much, with what's been going on in our country as of late with the media and law enforcement and such, because I break down in tears every time, but I just want to say instead of pointing accusatory fingers at the cop, why not look at the criminal the cop was up against. The number of times that person has been in jail. What kind of human being that person was. And then decide if you're brave enough to interact with that on a daily basis. If you could handle that every day. What would you do in that one split second when it comes down to you coming home to your family?

4. Oh, and we stained our deck. That was quite the adventure. Epic. But it looks, oh so GORGEOUS with our new table umbrella.

5. So.... I have a spa day tomorrow planned with my bestie, thanks to my anniversary gift from Mr. B. I'm more than ready to be pampered, adored, and to mark off one of my bucket list items.

6. And this. Starbucks. It has kept me entertained. Daily. Oh, the names. I wish I had taken a photo of every name I ever received on my cups. Laughs for days.

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Year of Reading Challenges {Part One}


Let me tell y'all about these reading challenges I've been obsessed with consumed with doing.

I know I mentioned them a few times in past posts. I hinted to them here and there, but I don't think y'all understand how FANTASTIC these reading challenges are. As if you need another reason to read, or another reason to make reading fun, these are THAT reason. I promise.

Honestly, I can't remember who started them or who found them, but my co-worker and I are in the midst of dozens of these challenges. Last spring, we found a few BINGO challenges on the Internet, which were the beginnings of our madness. One was an audio book challenge, the other full of random fun.

Soon the "BINGO!" texts were flying back and forth, and since we share an office, it was quite easy discussing which squares we had yet to mark off, how many BINGOS we had, and what books fit what criteria. For example, I read Labor Day for my "a book that became a movie" square and Seraphina for "a book with non-human characters." A few of my audio books were Doll Bones for "an audio book that scared me" and Hokey Pokey for "listened while cooking." For both of these BINGO challenges, we gave ourselves the full year to complete the card. It was so much fun, and for a few squares, like "a book with a one-word title" (for that I chose Fangirl), I had to dig into my TBR lists to find a book that would fit. It encouraged me to read books I'd been putting off or ones that have been on my list for months.

A BINGO card like this would be great for book clubs, especially when you're not sure what to read next. Once everyone has agreed on a square, for example "a book based on a true story" (for that I read Wild), then the group can vote on a title that fits the criteria. This is something I've been meaning to bring up to my own book club. They are all fully aware of my love for these reading challenges. However, I'm sure they are not aware my love has turned into an addiction. One I'm slightly embarrassed by. But not really.

These cards were quite fun. It was our new thing. And then we found a group on Good Reads which featured their own reading challenges. Ummm, a couple groups, actually. (Not that we were searching for them, ahem.) My co-worker and I were like kids in a candy store. 

One group we found, A Million More Pages, has a monthly "Scavenger Hunt" where you have 20 words you need to find while reading. You can't find them all in one book, the most for one title is five words. Once you find your 20 words, "congrats!" you finished. I've been participating since last August and including this month (May) I have finished a month's entire list TWICE. Any words you can't find rollover to next month's list and so on. Seven months later and I'm still searching for that bloody "hayride."

On the discussion boards, once the group moderator posts the word list (and you can bet we're checking as soon as we get up on the first of the month), members then re-post a copy and cross off the words as they find them. I could glance at what books other participants read for that word, but to me that takes the fun out of stumbling across the needed word while reading and shouting out (to no one in particular) "FOUND ONE!!!" For example, in the book I finished on Monday, Dancing with Fireflies, I found FOUR words from this month's list: lampshade, mother, five, and butterfly. (FYI. I was super stoked to find lampshade. I thought for sure I was going to have to rollover that one.)

This makes reading so much fun.

Other reading challenges I participated in recently consisted of spelling out words using a book's title or author first/last name, a few book cover challenges (like, the number of books you can read in a four-month period with an actual book on the cover), and monthly mini challenges. For instance, the group Wacky Reading Challenges' mini May reading assignment was to read one book that fit each of the four criteria: read a book whose title begins with "M"; read a book that is #2 in a series; read a book in which the main character is a mother; read a book with a red, white, or blue cover. As of today, I have four of the four tasks completed. Yay! Go me! Finished! (It's those Christian romances...I devour those.)

And there are so many more reading challenges!

But, I see this post is a tad long already, so I'll share a few other reading challenges in another post.

I hope this gives you an insight as to what I mean when I mention reading challenges, and if you love to read, or read a lot or read a little, or need a reason to read, definitely check out a few of these fun challenges.

It's perfectly okay to do just one challenge at a time. Or just do the monthly scavenger hunt. You don't have to become obsessed like me. I think I have about 30 different challenges going on right now....

Good thing I'm so organized.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, May 11, 2015

Chicken Florentine

It's National Eat What You Want Day!!!!!

Actually, I guess I saw it as DRINK What You Want Day. I knew as soon as I woke up this morning, on my way to work I was heading to Starbucks for an iced double grande dirty chai. It was fan-freaking-tastic. I was sad I only got a grande. At 11 a.m. it hit the spot. Cold. Spicy. Caffeinated. Perfection.

Anyhoo, since it is EAT What You Want Day, I decided to share one of Mr. B's favorite week night meals. It's fast, and as long as I prepare the sides ahead of time (yes, husbands. those boys), he has no problem making on the evenings I work. He loves anything he can throw on the grill.

And if I'm being completely honest, I thoroughly enjoy this meal, too. While I listed the directions for cooking this on the stove, it's quite simple to adjust the recipe for the grill. Instead of in a skillet, cook the chicken on the grill and brush on a little Italian dressing. On foil, grill up the spinach and any other sides you might enjoy with the chicken, such as zucchini chips or baby potatoes.


Yes, I want this.

I'm salivating just ogling these photos.

Chicken Florentine
*inspired by a picture in a menu

Serves 4

3 Tbsp Italian dressing, divided (homemade or your favorite)
4 c lightly packed spinach leaves
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 slices smoked ham
4 slices Provolone cheese

Heat 1 Tbsp of dressing in large ovenproof skillet on medium heat. Add spinach; cook and stir 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Remove from skillet; cover to keep warm. Add remaining dressing and chicken to skillet; turn chicken over to evenly coat with dressing. Cook 5-6 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through. Top evenly with ham (I like to toast my ham a bit before putting on the chicken) and cheese; cover. Reduce heat to low; cook 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted. (Or, place under broiler to brown.) Spoon spinach mixture evenly onto plates; top each with chicken.

Yeah, I was starving a little hungry, and, as you can see, the spinach never made it to the plates! But at least my zucchini chips add some color. Yum.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, May 4, 2015

What I'm Reading

Happy May!!! Let's play what-I've-been-reading-lately-catch-up. Mmm'kay?

A few quickies for y'all: Bill O'Reilly's fourth installment, Killing Patton, was great. Of all the historical figures, Gen. Patton was definitely the man I knew the least about. It wasn't as good as Killing Lincoln, but I liked it as much as the others. A worth picking up if you're a fan of O'Reilly's other books or a WWII fanatic. For this past book club we wanted something light and humorous, so we opted for the memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (of The Office and The Mindy Project TV fame). My thoughts? Meh. I really wanted to like it, but it's only okay. Mainly because her thoughts on apologizing for being fat and her body image. I would not consider her this and while she's trying to convince me she has good body image and doesn't care what others think, the fact she talks about it so much makes me think she does care. Also, this reads like a diary (and the editing it horrendous)... kind of seems pointless. As the other members agreed, it started off strong and then fell flat on its face. 

My favorite audio book of late is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Fantastic! I really, really enjoyed the descriptive narration throughout, discussing her love of books, scenery,'s probably because I'm a librarian and a very visual person, but I felt right at home. But only at the beginning because then things get weird. In a good, mysterious, and entertaining kind of way. In a few sentences, it's about a woman, Margaret, who is hired to be the biographer of a famous ailing author, Vida Winter. Tasked with telling her life story, Margaret discovers Miss Winter's disturbing past. It did stall in a few places, but picked up again. I was quite enthralled with the story so I didn't mind too much. I found the secondary characters stole the show. It's darker than I was aware of when I picked up the book to read as part of a Good Reads' group book choice. Overall, I really liked the ending and all the mysteries swirling about. You must give your full attention to this one!

A few guilty pleasures: The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer. Loved, loved, loved this story! It's Christian fiction and I've become addicted and obsessed with this literature. It's a way to get my romance and fairy tale-like endings without the unnecessary bedroom scenes. Which is all I really care about anyway. The courting. The pursuing. The falling in love. All around God and faith. And this book really displayed how God will work sometimes. Always turning evil into something good. It's beautiful standing back and watching God work. And Dan is a sweetheart. This lovely romance is about firefighter Dan falling for the small town's newcomer and single mom, Ginevieve. But Ginevieve is dealing with her daughter's teenaged-pregnancy. It's rocky and passionate. But the ending. Gahhh I wanted to see more of the dialogue between them!!! The discussion questions in the back were a great addition, and I would love to start a Christian book club with this read.

In Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter, Madison is determined to sail in the regatta for her twin brother, whom she lost years ago in a drowning accident. The town rebel, Beckett, is the man charged with training and helping her accomplish this feat. But there are secrets being kept, hearts falling, and a lot of grace going around. This is definitely my kind of romantic fluff. My kind of guilty pleasure reading. I liked so much about it...the characters, the story line, the faith.... it was a quick read. The main male character, Beckett, was my favorite by far. I just couldn't help rooting for and liking him. Plus, I always love the small, farm town Midwest stories. Feels like home. I'll be reading the second one in this series very soon, I'm sure.

My favorite juvenile pick is A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. It's been quite a long time since I've come across such a cute, sweet book for young youth. This is just too precious with a snicker of humor and a huge scoop of hope. Loved, loved, LOVED it! In short, it's about a 12-year-old girl, Felicity, who collects words and whose mother is sort of a gypsy (never staying in once place too long), and who finds herself back in her mother's hometown of Midnight Gulch, TN. There is quite the history to that little town and Felicity must discover how to bring back its magic. I was thinking about my favorite words the whole time I listened to it (the audio is an award winner). It's such a beautiful and quaint story, and the writing really places you in the middle of this small and magical town. And who doesn't like a book about magic, words, and ice cream?

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, May 2, 2015

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.]

Easter adventures with the family.

My Emerald City.

He loves using anything as a pillow.

It's been FIVE years. It feels like yesterday.

With Love and God Bless,