Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kitchen Organization

One of my goals is to get most items off my kitchen counters. This is easier said than done when you just lack storage space. I have gone through a lot of items and put them in a "get rid of spot" for my garage sale next spring, but I still have stuff cluttering up my counters.

There are a few things that I just think belong on the counter. 1 - the coffee maker. 2 - the utensil holder/turny thing. 3 - the mixer.

Since it is inevitable that some extra things will remain on the counter, I want to make them look neat, clean, and organized. I got an idea from a magazine that I am very excited about:

This large white tray does not fit in my cabinets. So, I decided to put all of my daily-use items that just hang out near stove on the tray. Ta da! I got rid of two areas of clutter and they are all very handy, sitting right next to the stove.

First, we have the sea salt grinder.

 And, we also have regular salt. I prefer keeping it in this little $.74 dish than the entire carton or a salt shaker. It is easily accessible when using a measuring spoon or just your fingers.

Next is the cooking spray. I like this to be handy so I can use it at all times.

Then the black pepper grinder. I love black pepper.

And, the olive oil. I go through this stuff pretty fast.

This is actually a new oil for me. A recipe I am trying this week calls for it and I have actually wanted to try it. It is on the tray and we will have to see if it stays.

There are a few things I still want to add to the tray. I would like to get two spice jars (ceramic with a cork lid) and load them up with my most-used spices. I hate digging around in my cabinets for my spices (and I have another idea coming soon for organizing that area). I just need to figure out which two spices get the most attention before I buy the jars. Are there any other items you would add?

I was very happy with the result. Such a simple change, but it cleaned up the cluttered area well. And when my kitchen is cleaned and organized, cooking is SO much more enjoyable!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What I love...

...About Blogging
- hearing from the most random people about how they read one of my posts. This past week, I have found out about quite a few blog "stalkers" (people who read but never comment). The most talked about post? When I picked up dog poop with my bare hands. Total lapse of good judgment that day.

- getting my thoughts out of my brain and trying, in some way, to make my life seem more funny, exciting, and worth-blogging-about than it actually is.

- being honest. I (obviously) hide very little from you.

---About Fall
- pumpkins.

- brisk morning walks.

- chili and soup and ooey gooey cinnamon rolls, not too much bread and super soft.

- long sleeves and jeans.

- Nebraska football.

- apple cider (cold only).

- changing leaves (if only we had some decent trees).

...About our Family
- the mutual affection for our 70-pound animal.

- the central focus and goal of working to make glorifying Christ our life aim.

- the work we put into loving each other every. single. day.

- the fun we have together.

...About our Friends
- that they put up with our quirks.

- that for some reason they want to hang out with us.

- that they teach us things.

- that we have so much fun with them. they feel like family to me.

...About Hawai'i
- palm trees.

- ocean.

- temperature.

- the smell.

- the flowers.

- too many more things to mention!

...About my Birthday
- that it is on Halloween

- that it is in the fall

- that I get a free Starbucks drink, a $15 gift card to Banana Republic, and a $20 gift card to Vera Bradley. This all should equal a soon trip to Kansas City.

- that Hubs does things to make it special. My favorite time was when he had me sit on the couch and close my eyes. Then brought me a tub of Breyer's ice cream with candles in it and sang to me. It was the best.

- that it is in 34 days.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

twenty-seven, i mean twenty-six

(Yes, this was taken while I was driving. Taking pictures while driving has not yet been banned!)

The countdown to my birthday starts later and later each year. We are about 36 days away, but I am more concerned about savoring this beautiful weather we are having. My favorite time of the year is from October 1st through January 1st and my birthday only has a little to do with it anymore. (FYI to Hubs - this does not mean I will not want to celebrate my day.)

I've already been telling people I'm 27, though. I mean, we are close enough and really I can't wait to be 27.

Does that surprise you? I dreaded 26, but I am excited for 27?

Twenty-six really wasn't that great of an age. I felt like I was getting old the entire year. I realized I was getting farther away from my early twenties and closer to my late twenties. It was depressing, at first.

Twenty-six reeked havoc on my body. Gravity has started to take affect and I am having to work harder at maintaining firm skin. I feel like skin is hanging in places where it used to cling firmly to my muscles and bones. My stomach used to stay relatively flat no matter whether I was working out or eating right. My abdomen is now starting to have issues, on top of my giant thighs and ever-growing butt. And I used to be able to workout for a week and feel like the problem was fixed; now, I have worked out for months and realize the problem will never leave.

This is not complaining, by the way (I know you can't hear my tone, so I wanted to clarify). I am just making some general observations at what the age of 26 has done. So far, it has just motivated me to get on top of the problem and not let it fester until I reach 37, which I can only imagine will make things even more difficult. Lifestyle and eating habits are going to need to be adjusted as we enter these later twenties.

But right now, I am ready for twenty-seven. I have gotten over the lamenting for my early twenties. And actually, I would rather be twenty-seven than twenty-one again. I am happy to have gone through all the trivial trials of becoming an adult, and now I am able to look back and see the progress of maturity. It is so nice to have Hubs sharing my life and I really would rather grow older than get younger.

I feel twenty-seven. I think this if the first time I actually feel my (almost) age. Life has more perspective, more depth. Life isn't always about me anymore, and I can only hope that continues as I get older. Yesterday, I was actually looking forward to being 20 years older, just so I can (hopefully) be more spiritually mature in my walk with God. That is becoming what my life is about.

So, here is the beginning of the yearly countdown....36 days 'til BIRTHDAY TIME!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Elastic, and some other styles

Tomorrow is the first day of Autumn. That means that it should be cool outside and we should start wearing long sleeves, or at least jeans and jackets. Not in Kansas, though. We are still roasting at a warm 90 degrees.

That doesn't mean I don't have the urge to shop for fall clothes. No, I have been in quite the shopping mood for about a week now. Only to be a little nervous at the new style of shoes. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:

Lots of suede
Lots of ankle booties

Lots of laces

And, lots of cuffs

I actually really like this last shoe - I mean really like, especially in black.

My first impression is that most of the shoes is that they are just plain ugly. But, I am sure - like with most other styles - once I see other, more daring and trend-setting people wear them, I will begin thinking they are cute. But I can almost guarantee I will not wear laced high-heels. Laces are for comfortable shoes.

As usual, I am a few seasons behind when it comes to style. I was hoping for some bold, bright colors to wear this fall. But, when I went to Banana Republic last week, I saw lots of muted and faded colors and neutrals. Lots of heather-gray type colors. Which, I guess are pretty, but not appealing to me. My entire closet is full of gray - every shade. I wanted to step out and do something different.

So much for my bold colors wardrobe idea.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

One of my favorite finds so far has been a $10 skirt from Target. It's not really anything I would go for - pencil skirt, cuts off above the knees (I have ugly, awkward knees), and has an elastic waistband.

I put it on this morning and while I finished getting ready I noticed how comfortable the waistband was. A few hours later, I was sitting with some friends and it again entered my mind, "wow, this is one very comfortable skirt."

There is no digging into your skin when you sit down. It sits very comfortably around any excess skin layers you may have. Besides my sweatpants, this is one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing I have.

Here's to trying new styles this year - it looks like I don't have much of a choice!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Completely impractical

These shoes are $80. Rarely do I pay full-price for a pair of shoes, and when I do, it is for a pair that I will be wearing frequently. These are not the type of shoes I would pay full price for.
I would however, pay for them when they are 70% off! Hands down, Dillards is my favorite store for shoes. Really, I don't buy anything else there, except shoes! What I love the most, is when they have that fabulous sale where they put out everything and mark them 70% off.

I loved these shoes when I saw them. Because they are impractical. They are 4-inches high, which is really high for me and usually means we have reached the uncomfortable level. But wearing them for a few hours, is fun. They make a boring outfit fun. They make a casual outfit dressy.

Besides a couple of $3 pairs of flip-flops, these are the only shoes I have gotten all summer and I love them. Fun. Exciting. And, they make me feel tall.

I have been a little unsure about the new styles of shoes, though... Is anyone else there with me?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Home Alone

Life changes when I am home alone. I'm not scared or anything; but it is quiet and I get a little lonely now. I remember the time when I loved having an evening to myself; but anymore I would prefer to have Hubs around.

But, when he is gone, I find myself doing things a little differently...

There is a light on from the kitchen to the living room to the entryway to the hallway to the bedroom to the bathroom. I do not turn them off until I go to bed. It's all those mystery shows like Criminal Minds that get in my head. I would rather light up the house than give myself even the option of having a panic attack.

I stay up later. When Hubs is home, I am ready for bed at 10pm. When he is gone, I stay up later for some reason. But, I don't seem to have any trouble sleeping once I am in bed. I have heard of wives that can't sleep alone. That is not an issue for me.

I don't un-make the whole bed. This is the only positive part of him being away because it means I only have to re-make half of the bed in the morning.

I make tacos. Every. Single. Time. I love homemade tacos, but they aren't Hubs's fave. So, I have reserved that meal only for the times that he is out of town. Usually my brother comes over to eat with him - not this time.

I eat pizza from my favorite local place. Hubs also isn't a fan, but I like it. Along with that, I also usually rent a girl-movie to pass the evening.

I go to the dog park everyday. It's nice to get out and talk to people, to be outside, and to play with Ransom. 

The television is on constantly. I must have noise. Not just noise, but human voices. Actually, even when Hubs is home I don't really like silence. I just can't stand the sound of nothing.

And, I realize how much I am head-over-heels in love with my husband. I realize how I have come to depend on him and how much I need him. I anxiously wait for him to come home to me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Runners

Hubs has been running again. He's so good at it. You know how sometimes you see runners that look like they are in pain - their stride is off, they are bent over, their face is crumpled into an agonizing frown, and it just hurts to watch? Not with Hubs. He just do-bops along and makes it look like it is super easy. Of course, it's not. But I love that he makes it seem like it is all fun and games.

Lately, Hubs has had a training partner. The moment he reaches for his running shoes, Ransom's tail begins to wag and his ears perk. By the time Hubs has stretched and is ready to head out, Ransom has usually be whining for five minutes. And, when Hubs reaches the end of the driveway Ransom keeps anticipating the first step, only to be told to sit back down and wait.

I've heard of dogs training for marathons with their owners; just like humans, dogs need to work up to higher mileage. Last week, Hubs and Ransom went on their longest run yet - 9 miles!

Hubs says that Ransom wants to run fast for about the first 1/2-mile. Then he settles into Richard's 7-minute pace, which is still not a running pace for Ransom!

When they get back, Ransom's tongue is swollen to an extra-huge size and usually hangs out the side of his mouth. He heads straight to the kitchen floor and plops down for a rest on the cool tile before drinking an entire bowl of water and slobbering it all over the floor.

It's worth it, though. To have a dog fully exercised and content.

And to have a running companion for Hubs!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Does that concern you?

I've debated over how to present this post. I'm still not sure I have the best way, but I know I want to share these experiences with you.

Hubs felt a desire to work at our church's state fair booth this year. Our church buys a spot at the fair where we can simply share the good news of Jesus Christ with anyone who will listen. He signed himself up and began preparing for it, diligently both through prayer and through a DVD/book series called Way of the Master. Knowing I also needed to do this, I signed up but haven't been quite as excited as he.

It has been bothering me that it is so "hard" to share the gospel with others. Really, it just shows my selfishness - if I truly loved other people, I would be concerned for their spiritual state and want them to know that hell is real, that good people go to hell, and that there is only one way to heaven. So, I also started preparing for this day in my head, knowing that this is one of the things God has clearly called believers to do. No excuse. Period. And really, the fact that God uses us to draw others to Him is pretty amazing.

So, today was the first day of the Kansas State Fair. I worked our booth from 2-6 pm, in the HOT, HUMID weather. Satan was certainly trying to discourage me. My head pounded for all 4 hours. Sweat trickled down my entire body - gross. I was weary by the time I got to the booth. And after standing around for a while, I knew I needed to initiate my first conversation.

Here is a taste of my four hours:

"I've seen Jesus in my house, twice. He told me to stop doing drugs."

"Am I scaring you?"

"I ask for forgiveness, so I that's all I can do. Then, I hope that is good enough."

"Eternity isn't really forever."

"I don't know what Hell is, so why would I be concerned about going there?"

"I hate pastors."

"Everyone in churches are hypocrites."

"I believe we are in Hell now."

"I guess I don't know if I would go to Heaven."

"I just try to live how God wants me to live."

I was hugged by a man who hasn't showered in years days.

I was ignored by tons of people.

I was yelled at.

I was given crazy looks.

I stumble-mumble-bumbled plenty. I stuttered and slurred my words. I didn't know what to say at times. And, I wished I would have said something different when they left. But I cared about each person that walked in that tent and I did not want a one of them to walk away without understanding their place before God and their need for Jesus. And no matter how my previous encounter went, I was looking forward to the next.

I am surprised that I can't wait to go back. I want to keep sharing so that I can get better, and I want to keep sharing so that more people hear.

I am walking away from the first day praising God for salvation and praying that somehow, someway God is using what I said to bring people to Him.

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give see to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some Links

About blogging...
Here are ten important tips about blogging from a pretty famous blogger, who started out just a normal person typing away to see if anyone would read. That's pretty much what I have been doing for 2.5 years and so far - not famous.

Win a gift card...
How about a free amazon gift card? Each week this blogger gives away a book that he reviews. This week, he is giving away a $15 gift card to Amazon. So go to www.changedbythegospel.com and leave a comment by 10am CST Friday to win!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shop til you drop (literally) - take 2

It's Sunday night - 10:30pm. Usually, I would be in my comfys, reading a book, easing myself into a good night sleep. Note - I enter my late twenties in a few weeks and am not even tempted to stay up into the wee hours anymore.

Instead, I hopped into a black Honda civic with two beauties for a 24-hour shopping trip. The goal was to find a dress for one of them - the one up for homecoming queen in a few weeks. Shopping trips seems to be better with little-to-no sleep (read post).

I have not had so much fun shopping in a long time. The companions were excellent - my aunt and closest relative, Ruth. She lives in KC and was gracious to let us invade her space for a while. She is so fun to shop with and has been my "sister" for years. I was so excited to spend time with her. And my two gorgeous cousins - Bethany and Sarah. These girls are so fun - we laughed and shared and talked about God. It was so easy to be with them. Not having a sister, it was so fun to see Bethany and Sarah interact together. I was just so impressed with them both in so many ways; and I love them even more than I already did.

Our shopping lasted from 10:30 am - 6:30 pm and we are sad to say we came home empty-handed. Although we saw beautiful dresses (and some ugly ones), we just didn't find the right one. Yet.

We got home at 11:15 pm on Monday. Tired and defeated. But, it was the highlight of my weekend and I really hope to do it again!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


You may have believed that we have 2 peach trees; but nobody could have expected the amount of fruit that would be harvested from these trees.

Saturday I had high hopes of freezing lots and lots of peaches. I got one batch done. It is a simple process; yet exhausting. No wonder people usually get together to do this. Chit-chat would have been welcome; but the US Open in the background was just not enough to keep me going. I put it off until today; which will get put off for a few more days.

I went out and picked again today.

Aren't they pretty?

Yesterday I had just as many, if not more. The wonderful thing about tree-ripened fruit is that it is delish. The hard thing is that they aren't good for very long!

I'm serious. If you would like some fresh white peaches; come over and get some! Although I still hope to freeze more and am taking some to my parents, we will still have leftovers; and I know we will probably be able to pick more for at least 1-2 more days.

While I was busy in the kitchen Saturday, Hubs snapped some pictures of the process:

The peaches needed to be skinned. Luckily I had a friend give me a few tips on that task.

My goal was 5 cups of peaches. It took longer than I estimated.

I made it though. And now I have one package in the freezer waiting to be made into a yummy cobbler or pie!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Family Orchards

In our rented yard we have trees. This is one of them:

On closer examination, you will notice it has fruit. Lots of fruit.

For a while, the fruit was small and hard and Hubs and I used them to thrown at the bunnies and for our own make-shift game of horseshoes. Then I started paying attention to the fruit and I thought they may be some sort of peach.

We have had it verified by a long-time gardener. We have cut open the fruit and see the peach-like pit. They are fuzzy on the outside. They are  more white on the inside than the peaches that you buy in the store and they are a little smaller than the peaches we normally get.

Hubs and I finally ate one this week that felt ripe. They were super sweet and very good!

But wait, we don't just have one peach tree. We have two!

Our peach trees have not been treated with any pesticides or growth agents - they are organic! Unfortunately that also means that the bugs are starting to feast on these sweet little pleasures.

So, I am convicted that I can't just let these peaches go to waste. They are ready to be picked and I am going to be busy this weekend figuring out just what to do with them. My method will probably be freezing - I am just searching for the best ways.

Side note - this is just one of the great reasons to get up early and walk the dog. It promotes praise for our great God in seeing the sun rise each morning!