Friday, July 6, 2012

My life for the next month, laid out in Microsoft.

I always have good intentions of being clean, organized, and having it all together. But I am just the type that if I do not have a list, I feel either overwhelmed or apathetic, and I don't get anything done. I am a procrastinator at heart. People think that because I am so crazy about my lists, I must be a super organized person. So not true... it's because I am such a dis-organized person and such a procrastinator, that I must use a list if I am going to be at all successful. Here's the truth... time management is much like financial budgeting. A budget is simply telling your money where to go at the beginning of a paycheck, rather than wondering where it went when it's all gone. With our time, we need to tell it where to go as well. We need to budget our time.

I know this sounds crazy, but as the stay at home mom of a toddler, I have even made a daily schedule of activities with my son. Not to say that we can't deviate from the "list" if we want to, but the fact is, without methodically taking some time in the morning before he hits the ground running to create a schedule for the day, the temptation will be to put him in a high chair in front of the tv so he can watch Monster's Inc for the 50th time while I arbitrarily look around the house for which chore I should tackle, all just to say "Meh, the bathroom is way too messy, I don't have the energy" and winding up on Facebook for the rest of the day while my son whines for attention or some sort of mental stimuli. Taking some time in the morning to brain storm some creative but simple activities, with a few pre-determined chores thrown into the mix, dramatically cuts down on the amount of stress and work I feel weighing on my shoulders. And my little guy appreciates it too.

Here's an example of our daily schedule:
7:00am Assemble roast in the crockpot, set for 10 hrs on low
8:00am William wake, cereal and eggwhite
8:30am Dance and sing with The Wiggles
8:50am Read a story
9:00am Blow bubbles in the back yard, point out and label whatever we see
9:30am Free play in the house while I clean up breakfast in kitchen
9:45am Leave for playgroup on base
11:00am Come home, yogurt and granola for lunch
11:30-12:00 Free play
12:00pm-2:30pm Nap
12:00pm Wash, Dry, Fold, put away dark laundry
Clean both bathroom toilets
2:30pm-3pm William wake, free play
3:00pm make bread dough, let rise until 4:30pm. William in kitchen high chair watching me bake, talking to him about what I'm doing.
Make weird voices in front of the fan
Roll a ball back and forth to each other
4:30pm Put bread in the oven, wash/cut salad
5:00pm Josh home, play with William
6:00pm Dinner
6:30pm Josh and William read books, play while I clean up dinner
7:00pm William bath
8:00pm William bed

When it comes to cleaning, I rarely if ever write down "clean bathroom" or whathaveyou. The task of cleaning the bathroom is an extensive list all on its own. Instead, (just as an example) Monday's list says "clean toilets", Tuesday's list says, "Windex mirrors", Wednesday says, "Clean shower", Thursday says, "Mop bathroom floors" and Friday says, "wipe counters." Every room in the house gets attention in just 1 area every day, and accumulatively, I have a clean house. My personality gets very bored, very fast, focusing on one project for too long. So it works best for me to keep tasks short and move onto the next thing.

Here's my monthly calendar which has my schedule and a dinner menu for each night.
Please share your dinner ideas with me in the comments section!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Green Smoothies as part of a raw diet

I've been so excited seeing just how many of my peers have decided to adopt a truly healthy lifestyle when it comes to eating. I think it's a movement that picking up momentum, in our home and many others.

The issue we ran into when we moved here to Florida is the lack of healthy food choices. Organic is a foreign term here, so we've started a non-hybrid garden with seeds from However, our yard isn't large enough to accommodate an entire produce section, so I was still on the prowl for a place that offered the healthy food we've been looking for. Last weekend, I finally found a small natural foods store about 45 minutes away. I LOADED up my cart with Kale, Cilantro, Kiwi, Bananas, Carrots, and Apples. When I got home with my loot, I started washing and prepping everything. I have a silicone muffin "pan" that isn't great for baking, but it's great for freezing. I whipped out my blender (which is a crazy, awesome blender), and starting making purees of the fruits and veggies. I froze individual "pucks" of each ingredient, then sorted everything into individual smoothie bags. It's so easy to just grab a bag every afternoon and throw it into my blender with a little organic fruit juice.

Here's pictures of my purees. I used my silicone muffin bakeware, as well as ice cube trays.

Not pictured is my papaya puree and cantaloupe puree - including the seeds!! The seeds in most fruits are incredibly good for you, but most household blenders can't break them up. There is as much protein ounce for ounce in cantaloupe seeds as there is in chicken! Crazy, right? Perhaps I'll post another blog with details about my blender soon. But I'm getting off topic!

In addition to the fruit/veggie purees, I add a couple tablespoons of whole flax seed, and I always add a tablespoon of turmeric powder and a teaspoon of ginger powder. They are very strong anti-inflammatories. I IMPLORE you to research the affects of inflammation on your body - it is linked to almost EVERY ailment, from allergies, acne, migraines, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, even cancer! Every food we put in our mouth either causes inflammation, or fights against it. Sugar, for instance, causes inflammation. Whereas Kale is an anti-inflammatory. Perhaps the best resource I can give you is this website:

You can input any ingredient into the search and it will not only bring up the nutritional content for that item, but will give that food item an inflammation score, and a "completeness score". The completeness score is very important, and it has helped me determine the optimal ingredients to put in my smoothie. The highest scoring food I have found so far is cilantro. Scoring 93 points (on a scale of 1-100), it contains almost every key nutrient the body needs. Kale is a close second at 85 points. Whereas sugar has a completeness score of zero. Basically, If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life and that one thing had to meet all your nutritional needs, you would look to the completeness score of a food to find out what would best sustain you. This is why cilantro weasels its way into every dish I make!

As far as inflammation goes, everything we're putting in our bodies is either scoring negatively or positively on the anti-inflammation scale. At the end of the day, shoot for a positive score of at least 50. Meaning, if you're going to have a 16 oz. Coke, your inflammation tally comes to about -48. So to bring your score to a positive 50, add a teaspoon of ginger powder to your hot tea, which has an anti-inflammation score of 482!! I'm telling ya... incorporating ginger and/or turmeric powder (turmeric being even more powerful) will do WONDERS for your body!

In closing, here is my complete recipe for my green smoothie! You can also see how it ranks nutritionally! 

PS, if you create a login on this nutrition website, you can create recipes and then get a tally for the nutritional contents of your creations! Find out how complete that dinner casserole is so you can fill in the nutritional "gaps" with complimentary sides for your family!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

DIY projects: Thrift store buffet-turned entertainment center

This DIY project we recently completed is the one I'm perhaps most excited about. And I'll be honest, I stole this idea from my sis-in-law Mandy. Except her husband let her paint their dresser Tiffany blue. Must be nice Mandy, must be nice! But for the rest of us who's husbands aren't as artistically adventurous, an aged charcoal black was an agreeable compromise.

The idea is simple. You take an old dresser or dining room buffet, and re-purpose it into an entertainment center furniture piece that hides all the wires, cables, gaming consoles, media players, etc. Our TV doubles as a ginormous computer monitor on which my husband plays flight simulator. So in addition to the dvd player and sound system, we also have a computer, mouse, keyboard, etc. Not to mention an Xbox, Kinect, and multiple controllers, plus a slew of DVDs, remotes, and whathaveyou. Suffice it to say, if all of this is exposed, it is an eyesore.

SO, I found this buffet at a thrift store for a mere $25. It was old and ugly, but it had great "bones". Unfortunately I got so excited about getting started on the project, I neglected to take a before picture. I combed through Google and this was the closest thing I could find. So let's pretend this is my before picture.


I let Josh hack the furniture to pieces before I started painting. He cut holes in the back for wires and cables to be fed through, as well as a vent for his computer. He then removed the bottom two drawers, keeping their faces, and placed hinges on them so they open down (and a cabinet magnet keeps them closed). He's a genius, right? And handsome right? Oh... anyway, the two "drawers" open easily to turn on the sound system or computer. The top 3 rows of drawers store the keyboard, mouse, remotes, and other odds and ends. The two cabinets on either side hold the X-box and our DVDs.

I really couldn't sand this piece of furniture down because it was a fake laminate finish (a sticker with wood grain printed on it, basically). So I used Glidden's grey gripper latex primer, and Behr premium latex paint in a dark brown espresso color. (Don't use oil based primer under latex paint or visa-versa. Oil and water don't mix - causes peeling!) Once again, I got out my nifty air compressor and spray gun, and went to town. Once I finished painting, I mixed a cheap $1 bottle of acrylic black craft paint with equal parts water and with a cheap paint brush, did a quick "wash" of thin black over the entire piece. This gave it a charcoal type-finish, and a deeper color. Also it left some faint brush strokes, which I thought added a nice touch. Gave it that sort of aged look.


We kept the original hardware. I appreciated how tarnished it was. Spots of brass show through here and there, but it's got a nice oil-rubbed bronze look to it. Plus, new hardware is expensive. And the point of doing these thrift store re-dos is to save money.


I love that the bottom two drawers are on hinges! And everything is hidden so well.


By the way, it was only after doing this project that I realized dining room buffets would make a great nursery changing table. They're the perfect height, and lots of storage.

My next show-and-tell blog will be about my spray-painted shoes! Thanks for stopping by!

DIY projects: Dining room table

Yesterday I posted about our updated light fixture in our rental. That was a quick fix, and my only actual involvement was picking out the lamp shade and acting as photographer/cheerleader for Josh, who was the "hands-on" guy. But this dining room table project was all me! And I'm pretty proud because it turned out pretty great :)

Perhaps the best part? We got the table and 6 chairs at a thrift store in Pennsylvania for $45, the day we moved out of our house. We drove the U-haul to the thrift store, and there was this table set, as well as a buffet (more on that in next post!). Even better? The Air Force paid us $0.60 per pound of what we moved, so we technically got paid for buying the dining room set and buffet. Not bad!

The table was solid, but unattractive. 70's upholster (which I pondered keeping, actually), and chipped, peeling finish over the oak colored wood. Our plan all along was to paint it white and put it in our eat-in kitchen. One of the reasons the dining set was priced so low is because the table is missing its extension leaf. We eventually plan to make one, but haven't done so yet. But, I digress.... Here's the before pictures of the table and chairs.


I used a spray-on paint stripper just on the table top, followed by a good sanding. I sanded the top of the chair backs since they were all peeling. For the table top, I used a high-density foam roller and used and oil-based primer and oil-based epoxy enamel. I chose oil base over latex even though clean-up is a real pain. You have to buy a separate paint thinner for oil base paints since soap and water will not clean your brushes.  However, I went with oil base because it is waaay more durable (there's a reason cars are painted with enamel rather than latex), and I know our table is going to get a lot of abuse and be exposed to moisture from spills, etc. I chose a high-gloss finish so the table can be wiped clean easily. Additionally, the paint I got is enamel-epoxy, meaning there's a glue binder in it. This particular paint is meant for high-heat appliances, like a stove top or a grill. It provides an ultra-hard finish that is just about scratch proof. Make sure though, that if you ever use any sort of oil-based paint, it's for a project you can work on outside. The fumes are almost overwhelming even when you are outdoors!


Once I had primered and painted the table, and used a brush to get into the grooves and details of the legs, I was starting to feel like I didn't want to move onto the 6 chairs! I knew I was going to have to use a brush, which takes forever. I told Josh, "Gaaaah, this would be so much easier if I had a paint sprayer!" And he was like, "Oh, yeah, I have one."

Um.... what? In the words of Robbie Heart in The Wedding Singer, "That sort of information would have been a lot more useful to me yesterday."

Anyway, we rolled Josh's 40 gallon air compressor out to the back yard and hooked up the paint sprayer. It seriously made priming and painting the chairs a SNAP. It is my new favorite tool!

So, after the chairs were painted, I headed to Joann's and picked out some upholstery for the seat cushions. I went with a yellow-goldish color with a damask imprint. I wrapped the new fabric over the old and used a staple gun to secure it (our staple gun was around $10 at Home Depot, and I think it's a tool everyone should own). I was so happy to see how it all came together, and it looks great in our dine-in kitchen. The finish turned out really smooth, even on the table where I didn't use the spray gun. High density foam rollers are the next-best thing to airbrushing, if you're careful go over your lap marks with light strokes.

In closing... in that middle picture of the table, do you see that window? Yes. Well, we had our pastor and his wife over for lunch after church a couple weeks ago (we barely know them), and the wind was blowing crazy outside, and that window came crashing down on the pastor's wife's head. Yes, you read that right. Completely embarrassing for all. Apparently, the window pane wasn't secured in the framework for whatever reason. It's secure now.

Well, that's the project. My next post will be on our thrift store buffet-turned entertainment center!

Monday, April 30, 2012

DIY projects: Light Fixture

I thought I'd post this quick entry with some show and tell of one of our recent DIY projects. My little family moved to Florida about a month ago, and we're currently renting a house. It's a cute little abode that's great for the 3 of us, and has everything we wanted in a house. It has a fireplace, 2 car garage, fenced in back yard, covered back porch, laundry room, eat-in kitchen and seperate dining room, and great closet spaces. I also love having dual vanities in the master bathroom, because now I have twice the counter space on which to scatter my makeup and hair products. :) The best part though? Florida living is cheap. We couldn't touch an apartment in Pennsylvania for the price of our rental house here. And we're 10 minutes from white sand, electric blue and green water beaches! Have I mentioned I like living here?

We went from buying a major fixer-upper in Pennsylvania (which is still sitting patiently on the market), to living in someone else's house that we're not allowed to make any changes to (but we sort of do anyway). For a couple of DIY-ers, it can be frustrating to feel like we can't fully make the place our own. But we've discovered some tips and tricks to help us give our rental some personal touches.

I'll start with the lighting. This little beauty was in the formal dining room, which is directly connected to the living room. It just screams 1993.


We decided we wanted to turn the formal dining room into an extension of the living room, mostly because I didn't want our huge TV anywhere near our beautiful fireplace, and because we have no use for a formal dining room in addition to the eat-in kitchen with just the 3 of us living here. So the plan was to create a sitting/conversation area around the fireplace, and then in the dining room, put the TV and entertainment stuff and another couch. The only thing that was keeping the TV area from looking legit, was the darkened glass and brass light fixture dangling down in the middle of the room. You can't replace rental lighting... or can you?? Yes! You sort of can!

We headed to Lowe's and grabbed a drum lamp shade in a nuetral cream color. Josh got out the drill and removed the ugly glass encloser around the light... it was starting to look better already. He then took about 5" worth of chain off, and then attached the lamp shade. Obviously we kept the glass shade and the extra chain links in storage to put back when the day comes for us to move out. But for the time that we are living here, we can totally live with this new and improved light fixture!


So that's that. I'll post pictures of our other projects a little later.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


I am laughing at myself because I started typing a Facebook status, and it was getting rather long -- like, 3 paragraphs long. And I thought, "Hmmm... maybe I should just put this in a blog." So that's what I did. I started a blog. Like the greats before me (ahemcoughDeirdre), I am putting a piece of myself out there for all to read. The topic of "wealth" is on my mind at the moment, but in general, I plan for my blog to be as incohesive and erratic as me, covering everything from recipes, to DIY projects, onto mothering, wifing, worshipping, and so on.

Here's what I'm thinking about today: Wealth. What is wealth? If we were to survey every person in the world, the responses would be as diverse as those questioned. What got me asking myself this question tonight, was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook. I just found it funny when one of my friends was complaining about a certain political candidate's wealth, and how no one should be THAT rich -- and she posted this rant via her iPhone. Her iPhone. Now, let me make it very clear, that I am most definitely not this candidate's biggest fan. There are a slew of reasons I don't care for his leadership, but the fact that he is wealthy or even filthy rich is not one of those reasons.

"Wealthy" is such a relative term. If you have a wardrobe, a ride, cable, a smart phone, internet, are literate, have a home, and food on the table... YOU are wealthy and you are living someone else's wildest dream. Why do we gaze enviously at someone else's wealth or feel that they should not be allowed to have what they have? Others might be looking at us the same way. In the US we make up 6% of the world's population but have over half the wealth of the world, and yet we still don't feel rich. We look at someone like Mitt Romney and set the bar there. We say, "THAT is what rich looks like." Yet if you were to ask Romney, he wouldn't say he's arrived. In fact, I guarantee he's still looking for where to best invest his money tomorrow to "secure" his future.

I guess wealthy is a mindset. If you were to ask, say, Mother Theresa, for example, she would have told you that she was wealthy, even though she lived a life of poverty. Some days, or maybe even most days, I feel pretty wealthy too. I look at Josh and William and really do think to myself, "I have it all". Other times though, my glass looks half-empty. And if I'm not careful, I can overlook the fact that my son is walking, and instead, complain about the fact that he has to wear braces on his legs. In the same way we can choose to focus on the good when it comes to circumstances, we can either spend our days wishing for things we don't have, or thanking God for what we do. As for myself, I've decided that I am rich.

Trust me, there's more that I'd like to have. I love the experience of sitting down at a restaurant and having someone else bring me my made-to-order food, and then cleaning up after me. I always think, if we were "wealthy", I would just eat out for every meal. And I want more clothes, my own UV light and collection of gel nail polish, a ginormous mirror above my fireplace, a Dyson vacuum, new pots and pans, new bedding set, shoes, shoes, and more shoes, a bigger garden, a bigger yard for my garden, and shoes. Oh -- and shoes. If I don't stop myself, I might let the days waste away wanting more, when all the while I was already surrounded by wealth that I ignored because I was distracted by the glittering of things I hoped for.

I guess this principal doesn't apply just to wealth. There's lots of dreams that can keep us from being content. Maybe you feel unsettled and discontent because you want to make a name for yourself, and until you are well known or famous, you won't really be happy (used to be me). Maybe you feel like you won't be happy until you are married, so you are cruising through life just waiting to find that special someone, and everything else that happens in your day to day are just mundane details. Maybe you're on the brink of retirement, and you've set your life to auto-pilot until that day arrives when you can truly enjoy life. I don't know, that's just a few examples. But what is it for you that's keeping you from being content? What's that carrot stick you're chasing that's promising "future happiness" and keeping you from enjoying life today?

God wants us to learn the art of CONTENTMENT. 1 Timothy 6:6-7 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. That is a great verse. And I think this one does an even better job getting my point across... Hebrews 13:5 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," <-- In other words, we already have it all. Jesus, who is rich in love and mercy, will never leave us or forsake us. So we should be content with what we have. Easier said than done, I know... but it's worth shooting for, I think.

Now how do I put some sort of fancy font on here and spell check? Only after I've achieved those two things will I truly be happy :)