Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Home Improvements

Having the summer off has been great in a number of ways.  I've been able to do so much around our home that I couldn't find the time to get done during the school year.  This house has been so clean and organized and my checklist is almost all checked off.

I am fortunate enough to have a nice pantry now.  When we first got married and lived in our old home down in North Hill, we had 2 cabinets...we had to fit food and dishes in 2 cabinets. So, I'm very thankful to have the space now.  But when we moved into this house, we kind of just threw everything in the pantry thinking that we'd deal with it later.  Later came and went.  It was long overdue, so it put it on my summer to-do list. Must clean and organize my pantry.  It took me about 4 hours, but I finally did it and it makes me so happy to walk into a pantry that's organized and orderly.  My OCD self feels at peace now.

This was everything that was either on the floor or the bottom shelves.

Right side before...just a mess of everything.

Right side AFTER.  Organized by starches & canned goods.
Left side before.  Just a mumble jumble of baking goods, breakfast items, snacks, and special occasion dishes.
Left side AFTER.  My cookbooks organized, baking goods organized, and dishes all neatly stacked.
Pantry AFTER.  You can better see how it all came together, but it was hard to capture everything.  I was a bit concerned that my baking items took up 2 shelves.  Guess that shows where my pantry's importance lies. ;)

It's amazing to me just how cleaning or organizing something can totally change the look and feel of your home. Maybe it's just me.  Anyways, we've also been working on the main living areas of our home.  We ordered our new furniture and almost all of it has come in.  Our walls are so bare - I have a hard time committing to hanging stuff up.  BUT, we got our console table and finally did our picture wall.  I love the way it turned out.  Props to my handsome hubs because he hung up all of the pictures.  It really makes the house feel more home-y.

Before we decided where the pictures should go, we laid out the design on the floor.  Then we moved photos around, and moved them around some more until we finally settled on a good arrangement.  J then cut out the frame sizes on contact paper and taped them on the wall, so we could be sure they looked right.  Once that was all set, he just nailed the picture right on top of the paper, then went behind after and pulled the paper off the wall.  It really made it easy.  Thanks to my awesome friend, Erin, for that idea. :)

Wall Before
Wall After.  That wooden sign in the middle was a wedding gift from our brother-in-law, Brian.  He's SO talented.
Next up will be the living room.  It'll all be done in time for football season, hopefully.  Oh boy, I can't wait for both - a comfy living room AND football season.  I'm ready to wear my Hog gear.

In addition to inside our home, Jared has been doing an A+ job in the yard.  He used his vacation time to trim hedges in the backyard.  Thanks, babe, for making our yard look pretty! 

Rosie and I were out walking the other day and I snapped a picture of our grass.  It just looked so green.  I'm thankful my husband has a green thumb.  I love the stripes from the mower too.  It's the little things. ;)

Have a blessed day!  Next post will be a recipe for a Reese's trifle that's not only easy, but a total crowd pleaser.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eat Clean's Summer Salmon

I've had a few people request some healthy everyday meals.  This is one of my very favorite recipes.  Salmon is probably my favorite fish.  I love it's buttery taste and it's Omega 3s are so good for you.  I got this recipe from my Eat Clean Cookbook.  It's called "Summer Salmon", but we eat it year round.  It's so simple and quick.  My husband even loves it and salmon is not his favorite.

Eat Clean's Summer Salmon

-Salmon fillets (Varies depending on how many you're feeding.  I do one filet per person.)
-Olive oil
-1 lemon
-Sea salt
-Black pepper
-Fresh or dried rosemary (I use fresh from my herb garden)
-1 to 2 green onions, finely chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 425°
2.  Coat a baking pan with non-stick spray.  Lay salmon filets (skin on*) in pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.
3.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on each filet along with rosemary and chopped green onions.
4.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the filets.
5.  Bake for 20 minutes.  
6.  When finished baking, squeeze the juice of the remaining half of the lemon over the top.
7.  Enjoy!

*I leave the skin on to prevent the fish from sticking.  It's easily removable once they're done baking.  You can choose to remove it before baking though.  Just a personal preference!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another Year Older

Another birthday has come and gone.  I'm starting to feel old.  I know that's so silly, but I'm not "young twenties" anymore.  Thirty is creeping up.  I had a great day, but there was a little sadness behind it all.  I hate to even write about it, but I know I'll never forget it so why try to mask my feelings?

As I had said prior in dealing with the miscarriage, there would always be certain days that I'd be sad.  For the most part, I've been good here lately.  I've had great news from the doctor and am feeling back to normal.  BUT around my birthday was when we were supposed to find out the gender of our baby.  I had been so so so excited about this, making plans in my head already and then it was all taken away.  So, I couldn't help but think of that and feel the sting where excitement had once ruled.  I know it'll all be okay, but there were those "landmark" moments in my pregnancy that I anticipated with so much excitement.

I'm just thankful for my awesome hub-sand and my family and friends to give me the love that I definitely needed.  My day started with a great birthday lunch with my mom, Meemaw, and hubs at my favorite local Mexican restaurant.  Their food is so fresh and so good.

Meemaw, momma, and the birthday girl

Jared and I
I get some pretty amazing flowers.  I love flowers.  I always try to have fresh ones in the house.

Flowers from Jared
Flowers from my Meemaw.  Ab Lincoln roses smell divine.
Before going to dinner at another favorite local restaurant, Jared snapped a few pictures.  You know I had to get one with my dog-ter.

A hug and a kiss from Rosie Posie
We came home and celebrated with birthday cupcakes.  I guess this is a tradition because we did the same thing last year.  Jared didn't let me lift a finger and it was awesome.  I welcomed the relaxation.

Jared was in the midst of trial prep, so we kept it low key.  I'm a low key type of person anyways.  I much rather be at home in my sweats.  (Which is in fact, is what I'm doing at this very moment.)

I got a new Daily Devotional from my older brother and SIL.  I hadn't heard of this one, but I love it.  It's so much more in depth and there are actually scripture passages to read along with the devotion.  I had started Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer, but it just wasn't doing it for me.  In my opinion, it was kind of silly.  This was what I had been searching for.  But the OCD in me thinks I need to wait until January 1st to start it because that's the proper order.  I haven't decided yet, but either way, it's an excellent addition to my quiet time.

I was able to really relax this last week and I finally finished another book that I had been wanting to read since I bought it back in March.  I'm a book nerd when I have the time.  The Memory Keeper's Daughter was a great read.  I'd definitely recommend it.

I'm thankful for another year.  Seriously.  When I look back at my birthday last year, we were living in our rental and I was still working at the law firm.  Not that there's anything wrong with any of that.  It's just amazing to me how much grace God has given me in a year's time.  I know I've been through some hardships this last year, but I have to keep it all in perspective and count my blessings, not my troubles.  I must reflect to remind myself of all I've been given.  I'm so blessed with my wonderful husband who can't wait to get home to me every day, our great families who love us so much, our beautiful home to make our own, my teaching career, and a magnitude of people who love me and took time out of their day just to tell me Happy Birthday.  Thank you so much.  XO

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up with Jamie at This Kind of Love for What I'm Loving Wednesday.

Today I'm loving my Daily Bible verse: 
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. -Mark 12:30
 It immediately put me in a good mood and I started singing the song that has this Bible verse in it.

I am loving my time off.  It's so relaxing to wake up and drink my coffee while watching GMA.  During the school year, I leave the house at 6:15, so GMA isn't even on yet.

I am loving our new mercury glass lamp (the one on the left).

I am loving our patio furniture set.  It sure is nice to have a comfortable place to sit on the back porch.

I am loving my sweet, supportive, made just for me hub-sand.  He's the answer to my prayers.  He cracks me up, loves me unconditionally, makes me feel good about myself, and always knows just what to say.  Even when I don't want to hear it!  ;)  Our relationship has grown so much.  I didn't think we could get closer, but our miscarriage experience has changed that.  We both feel like we're closer than ever before.

I'm excited about my new personalized school planner from May Books.  Am I a nerd for this?  Possibly, but I'm excited for the upcoming school year.

It's the middle of summer in Florida and it's been hot, hot, hot.  But not today!  I'm loving the cool walk I had with my dog-ter this morning. Hence the reason why it was so cool...Looks like we're in for another stormy day, but that's okay with me.

And I'm loving that this song has a whole new meaning for us.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Homemade Pesto

My basil plant looks like it's taken steroids this summer.  The thing is HUGE and there's no way we'll be able to eat all of it before the summer heat finally gets to it.  So to make the most of it, I've been wanting to make homemade pesto.  I can finally check that one off my list.  It tastes way better than anything you buy at the store and is ridiculously easy.  Here's what you'll need...

-about 2 cups fresh Basil (packed)
-1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-1/4 cup Parmesan
-3 to 4 Garlic Cloves
-Salt to Taste

I tweaked this recipe from She Makes and Bakes.  I took out the pine nuts, I'm not a fan.

1. Wash basil thoroughly.  I spin my dry with my salad spinner to get all of the excess water out.
2. Heat a small skillet on med/high heat and toast your garlic cloves (with skins still on) until brown spots start to form.
3. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend thoroughly.  Add garlic once it's cooled and you've peeled it.

4. Transfer to an air tight jar and store in the fridge.  These measurements fit a medium sized mason jar perfectly.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Thank You & Life

I thought I'd have so much more time to keep up with this during the summer, but life's been a little busy around these parts.  Between doctor's appointments, Jared's crazy work schedule, Bible studies, VBS, and just the daily up keep, I've let this slip again. 

Before I do any catching up, I just want to take a moment to thank all of you who reached out to us and prayed for us during and after the miscarriage.  You are all so, so wonderful and your comments, messages, phone calls, and texts have meant the world to me.  It is so amazing to have friends who remember exactly when your appointments are and shoot you a text minutes before you walk in the doctor's office to tell you they're praying for you and they love you.  I have never felt so loved as I have during these trying times.  Each of you who share your miscarriage stories with me...thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.  I find so much hope in your stories.  No one gets it quite like someone who's been there, although I definitely appreciate ALL of the love and support.  If you've experienced this, my prayers are with you. 

The word miscarriage is just a simple little word, but it can be so disheartening and gut wrenching when you're experiencing it...and it's not a quick process for all.  I'm STILL going through the after effects.  It's been two months since I first learned I was having a miscarriage.  For those of you who don't know about all of the saga, I want to make people aware of the struggle that comes along with this kind of thing. I think my experience needs to be shared so people can either empathize with someone or feel like that can talk openly about their own experience.  I know I found a lot of comfort in other people's stories.

I've had to have bloodwork done on a weekly basis since my D&C.  The doctors were concerned because my hcg levels weren't coming down as fast as they'd like them to.  There was a mention of a molar pregnancy.  If you don't know what that is, you can find out here.  I cannot describe the feeling of terror and helplessness when you hear the words "cancer" spoken to you.  THAT gave me a new perspective for all of those struggling with that terrible disease.  But, praise be to God, that was ruled out.  After more rounds of bloodwork and an ultrasound, it was determined that there appeared to be something left behind from my 1st surgery.  Talks of a second surgery were mentioned.  I didn't know how in the world I was going to get through that.  One was ENOUGH.  The 2nd surgery option was later ruled out and then I was told I would likely be undergoing a round of chemotherapy (with methotrexate).  That was just last week.  It felt like it was never ending and I know I was getting close to my breaking point.  In the midst of it all, one day week before last, as I was pulling out of my doctor's office, I was crying and I was angry and talking to God about how mad I was.  All of a sudden, I heard the word "patience".  I don't really know where I heard it-in my ears, heart, or head, but it was SO loud and pressing.  There was absolutely no ignoring it.  I told God that I got it, loud and clear.  From that moment on, I haven't felt anxious about anything.  I'm at peace with my waiting game.

Now my levels are almost zero, so my new doctor says I don't need to do either of these things.  It just continues to be a waiting game.  But I'm okay with that!  Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!  God has been so faithful to us through it all.  He's given me strength when I literally didn't think I could pick myself up.  He's given my husband the right words to say to me.  He's placed the right people in my life to lift me up and help me carry on.  I also started reading this book at the recommendation of someone dear to my heart (who also shared her miscarriage story with me).  It has been a God send and I'd encourage anyone who's going through infertility, miscarriage, or stillbirth loss to read this.

Hannah's Hope by Jennifer Saake

Again, thank you for everything if you've loved on us and prayed for us.  We appreciate it more than you could ever know. 

Now, to play catch up...I'm so thankful I've been able to spend more time with my little niece.  She is the funniest kid.  The things that come out of her mouth crack me up.  She's just so sweet and perfect.  Here are some pictures from our dates.  :)

Eating some frozen yogurt at my favorite place.  She loved the "pink" yogurt.
Excited about playing hide and seek.
Wearing our Mississippi gear!
Worn out after playing.  Isn't this the sweetest thing?  It makes my heart happy.

We had a great 4th of July celebrating with some wonderful friends on their boat.  We had to outrun a rainstorm, but we had such a good time with them.  We watched the fireworks over Pensacola bay from the boat.  It was so beautiful.  Thanks for having us!

We're working on getting some new furniture pieces for our home.  I can't wait!  Last night, we found this little treasure hidden in my parents' garage.  They didn't have a use for it, so we snagged it, cleaned it up and it's now in our entry way.  It fit perfectly.  It's an antique Singer sewing machine.  No telling how old it is, but we thought it was so neat and different.  We haven't decided if we want to sand it and refinish it or leave it the way it is.

 You open the top, and here's what's inside...

Our little family is just trucking along.  We are so blessed.

I'll try to be better about this blog.  I've made some pretty good recipes lately that I'd love to share, but that will be for another day.  Hope y'all have enjoyed your weekend!