Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Painted My Front Door.

I did. 
I've been painting our front formal living (?) room grey, so, by the light of the full moon and the fire of insanity in my eyes, I gave our front door a coat of grey, too. Because, I mean, what's one more thing? In the late night hours for this NON-NIGHT PERSON? Who has three tiny kids? One more thing?

It turns out, it was a very good thing.

(And I can always throw back coffee today.)

Here's a little "during" shot for you. Notice the black of night outside. I haven't see these kinds of hours since college.

And we'll do the "before" pic now, to give more of an impact, right? So, before ...

... and after! Yay! Light! Clean! Happy! Grey!

Here is a little close-up so you can see how it compares to our beige walls. It seriously changes the look of the entryway. I love it! The color I used was Gravity by Valspar at Lowe's, in Interior Super-Flat (washable, for sticky fingers). The door was stained originally, but I didn't need to sand. If I had actually planned ahead (which I never do before I paint), I would have bought a short roller and rolled it. Instead I used my cutting brush (again, no planning) and did two coats. It dried streak-free!

There you have it!

Have a lovely day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Improvised Veggie Lasagna

Let me firstly say two things to preface this post:

1) I do not consider myself to be a chef, so, if there are a ton of mistakes in this recipe, feel free to have a giggle or two at my expense. 

2) I posted pics of my experimental lasagna on Instagram and a good friend of mine said I should blog the recipe, so here it goes!

I mentioned in a previous post that I have given up meat for Lent. This endeavor does not include my family (they had sausage pizza the night before I cooked this lasagna) but it has given me the opportunity to prepare some vegetarian meals, something I've never really done before. The only thing I've noticed not eating meat is that I've felt a little light-headed at times, before I realized I wasn't eating my daily piece of turkey sausage (yum!), and was thusly missing out on my daily dose of iron. Enter dark leaves: Spinach, collard greens, kale, etc. If I whip up a smoothie and throw in some spinach leaves, I feel great. Yes, sad to say, I was not eating dark green leaves every day ... but I was putting down turkey sausage! Woot woot!

Anyway. On Friday night, I had some lasagna noodles handy and decided to try my own version of veggie lasagna. 

I made this on the fly, so I'm trying to remember exactly what I used. You'll see some strange things possibly, like garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. Let me tell you something I've discovered thus far in my meatlessness: A lot of what I love about meat is the texture. I'm totally a texture person. I did not know this about myself. I like just about any food, but I really love good texture above anything else. Huh. Who knew! That being said, I tried to think of something dense that could replace the texture that meat provides in lasagna. Enter pulvarized garbanzo beans. Sounds weird, but it worked.

Here is the rough ingredient list:

Lasagna noodles (a normal-sized package?)
Two tomatoes, sliced
16 oz. fresh mozarella, sliced
A good chunk of crumbly feta cheese, to taste (We were out of parmesan, so I used this--it worked great)
2-3 cups cottage cheese
8 oz. garbanzo beans (yes, I used canned)
A bit of onion, diced
A bit of garlic, diced
Handful of spinach leaves, stems removed
Handful of kale, stems removed
Whatever itty-bitty tiny amount of spaghetti sauce you find at the bottom of the jar in the back of your fridge
Red wine vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper (always a good idea)
Shakey-shake of basil (fresh is better, but I didn't have any)

Preheat oven to 350.

I boiled my lasagna noodles. See? Right there, you can totally make fun of me. Call me nutty, but I just can't bring myself to not boil my lasagna pasta. Lame, I know. Anyway. If you boil your noodles, start heating the pot now. When boiling, add your noodles and cook until al dente. Drain. Lay them on paper towels to help pull some of the moisture out.

Saute half of your diced onion and garlic in olive oil on the stove. I also used a dash of red wine vinegar. Once the onions are clear, add the garbanzo beans (I like my garbanzo beans more when they are flavored a little, hence, the sautéing ). Stir them around in there until they get a little toasty on the outside. Then remove them from the pan and dump them in your food processor. I have a small one and they all fit fine. Pulse until they are crumbly. Not liquified, just crumbly.

Add another drizzle of olive oil to the same pan, with the rest of your garlic and onion. Saute once again, and when the onions are clear, add your handfuls of greens. Saute until they are nice and wilty. 

Dump your cottage cheese into a medium bowl. Add your now-crumbly garbanzo beans and your crumbly feta. Stir like a boss. Add your wilty greens. Add a shakey-shake of basil. Continue stirring like a boss. If it gets too thick, add a drizzle of olive oil and continue stirring. Good job. Give it a tasty-taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. If the thought of lasagna filling without an egg freaks you out, throw in an egg. I forgot to. The finished product still tasted great.

Grease (spray?) a 13x9 baking dish with olive oil spray and add your first layer of lasagna noodles. Take whatever pathetically small amount of spaghetti sauce you can scrape from the bottom of the jar and use a spoon to spread it on the noodles. Add a layer of your cottage cheese/garbanzo bean/wilty green/feta mixture on next, then add a layer of sliced mozarella, and finish with your sliced tomatoes. Like this:

Continue that same layering pattern: Noodles, pathetically small amount of spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese/garbanzo bean/wilty greens/feta mixture, fresh mozarella, sliced tomatoes.

Finish with a layer of fresh mozarella on top, and throw it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Oh y'all. OH. It was so good. I don't know how, but it was. It was even thicker and better the next day after spending some time in the fridge. In fact, next time I might make it a day in advance and let it chill in the fridge (ha ha) to help the ingredients meld a little. Mmm.

My husband gave me a high-five and the kids devoured their pieces, wilty greens and all.

There you have it! Improvised Veggie Lasagna.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A la Maison: The Entryway!

After taking a cue from a good friend of mine, I decided to gussy up our entryway. I find that I am constantly wanting the decor in our home to be a reflection of us and I think the entryway is well on its way! Our entry wall is tricky because it has two light switch plates (one of which contains three switches) and our alarm keypad. Makes it a little tricky to maneuver around when it comes to hanging things! I ended up just covering one of the light plates with a picture after unsuccessfully trying to remove it (we have no idea what that switch goes to, how sad is that!) and I think it all came together!


The framed "5" is probably my favorite thing in the collage. Next to the picture, of course. ;) I'm sure the collage will grow taller as we find things to add. For now, it's a good start!

 The teal table was a find at TJ Maxx and I love it. The shape, the color, it's perfect for the space!

The next step will be to paint the inside of the front door a fun color. It's on my very long home decor to-do list ... :)

There you have it! A peek at my entryway!

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lately ...

1) On February 7, we welcomed my new niece, Anna, into our family! She's such a beauty!

2)  Valentine's Day traditions: Heart-shaped pancakes on heart-shaped plates. And Valentine buckets waiting for the kids when they woke up--a new shirt and a little toy.

3) I always swore that if I ever had girls, I would never dress them alike. I would want their "own personalities to shine" blah blah blah whatever. I love dressing my girls alike. LOVE IT. And they love it, too, so ... it happens a lot! They can have opinions about it later ...

4) My new favorite picture of the kids, eating cookies from Memere, sitting on a telephone table my Grandpa made before I was born.

5) Awkward side-bend selfie whatever pose: My favorite staple during the winter has been my red jeans and my fringed booties. I wear them all the time.

6) Every Sunday morning, we take the kids to get donuts before church. A totally fun and unhealthy tradition. Yum!

There you go! A quick update this morning, in the midst of the breakfast show!

Have a lovely day!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent and Thoughts.

I usually write a post about Lent, or, at least, Ash Wednesday. Oops. I'm sorry, blog. I remember you and I think about you, but it's usually after I've fallen face-first into bed and don't have the energy to get up and write something.

But look! My reality TV is paused and I'm sitting down to write a post!

And it isn't hateful.

Yes, not as much Facebook during Lent. But, meh, that's more because it's a convenient brain break.

Anyway. Lent.

I've mentioned in a previous post about my experience with Ash Wednesday and Lent. This year, I was determined to make it to an Ash Wednesday service. After coming up short finding childcare for the noon service, I found out that our local Catholic church began giving ashes at 7:00 on Wednesday morning.

Well-played, St. Henry's.

So, before my kids were awake, I hopped in my husband's truck and found a spot in the busy parking lot of the church. Let me say, I'm not Catholic. I do not observe Lent to the same standards that some Catholics do. But, a really great thing about our town's Catholic church is that they open the giving of ashes to the community--Catholic and non-Catholic alike (they are a sacramental and open to everyone). Come one, come all. If you have a bare forehead and a penitent heart, we've got ashes for you.

I followed a line of people quietly into the sanctuary and stood until it was my turn. I bowed my head as the priest murmured those precious words, Remember that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return, dipping his thumb into the small cup of ashes and making the sign of the cross on my forehead. I quietly found an empty pew in the back row and knelt to pray. While I missed the fellowship and homily that accompany a proper Ash Wednesday service, I found myself enjoying the moment of quiet, peaceful reflection. A deep breath and a sigh. Respite, really. A moment to focus my thoughts on the beginning of the Lenten season--these forty days leading up to Resurrection Sunday, Easter morning.

I find that I am always ready for Lent to begin. The weight of winter's cold and claustrophobia begin to set in once the holidays are through and January has ended, and I find that my heart is usually ready for a refresher. Lent is poignant for me because it aids in helping me keep my focus where it needs to be--on living my life in constant awareness of what Christ has done for me.

When it came to choosing something to "give up", I found myself struggling a bit. When I first began to observe Lent, I would give up dessert or something that was a "treat" or "vice" in my life. Then I started giving up Facebook because it took up so much of my time. But this year my heart was unsettled at what to choose. Giving up a treat didn't resonate with me as it had before. I realized that giving up treats is actually beneficial to me, and I'm not sure if Lent is supposed to be "beneficial" in that way. The sacrifice is supposed to be ... inconvenient. Is giving up dessert or coffee hard? Sure. But is it inconvenient? Not totally. Try as I may, those things are, in the end, only "extras" in my life, not what I consider to be necessities (insert all kinds of "yes coffee is a necessity" comments ... trust me, I get it). But I wanted to choose something that was almost ... annoying to give up, if that makes sense. It needed to leave me wanting.

So, in the end, I chose to give up meat, with the exception of fish. I try to prepare healthy meals for my family and we don't always eat red meat or poultry, but it's definitely a part of our diet. My plan is to continue to cook the meals I usually cook for my family, including the meat, and I have to just pick around it. For me to make my family go vegetarian wouldn't exactly be a personal sacrifice! If there isn't meat in the house, I'm not tempted to eat it. I need to be tempted. It needs to be ... inconvenient. I want to be reminded of what I am giving up, several times a day, to wrangle my thoughts and keep them where they need to be, focusing on what Christ has done for me. The spiritual discipline where I hope to see growth is in service. My goal is to express gratitude or do an act of service for someone every day during Lent, whether it's writing a note, an e-mail, bringing someone coffee, etc. In my own little world it's easy to be selfish ... or, maybe, just self-centered, since I stay at home and my world does kind of revolve around my family. I need to practice tangible ways of intentionally reaching outside of myself, appreciating more the people God has placed in my life. Service. Gratitude.

So, there you have it. My thoughts for this Lenten season.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Rant About Facebook.

This is a garbled and haphazard attempt at collecting my thoughts enough to write a somewhat cohesive post about something that has just plain been bothering me lately.

I like Facebook. I like the convenience and the way it makes networking a breeze.

And then I hate Facebook. Lately, I've been really hating Facebook, to the point that I feel like I really  must have some sort of heart issue that needs some addressing, ha. But in all seriousness, the social network that in one theory promotes connectivity, is also simultaneously divisive.

Case in point. I open my News Feed. Firstly, some articles that someone remote that I know has "liked" or whatever (titles exaggerated by yours truly):

Twelve Reasons Working Moms Hate Stay-At-Home Moms

Proof That Gun Owners Must Have Flunked Third Grade

Ten Reasons Stay-At-Home Moms Will Someday Rule The World

Obamanomics and the Fall of Society

When in the World Did The Huffington Post Become Our Idea of an Objective Soundboard?

Oh, wait, I think I made that last title up completely. Yes, yes I did.

Then there are pictures that remote people I am "friends" with have "liked":

"Like" if you love God.

If you do not "like" this picture, you do not love God.

Worse, you do not love God or puppies.

If you do not "like" this, you must want to kill puppies.

You are a puppy-hating puppy-killer.

I don't want to "like" a random Renaissance painting of God that some kid named "Teen Angst" posted to try and get a million "likes". I just won't do it. I WON'T! I WON'T DO IT.

Then the ads. Wal-Mart, Tide, random boutiques, blah-blah-blah. I don't care. Facebook is public, I get it. And now it's super-annoying.

So, beyond the articles, the lets-get-a-million-likes-for-puppies pictures, and the ads, then there's the statuses.

Suzy writes: "Today I washed my clothes. Yay!"

To which several people respond: "What detergent did you use? Because if you used THIS kind of detergent, you are killing baby seals. Oh, but if you used homemade detergent, then that stuff is lame and doesn't work anyway...

[Insert someEcard with a picture of someone making fun of people who make their own laundry detergent, because I'm like my kids are up and dressed and that's a miracle, or whatever, etc.]

... and you should really only wash your clothes once a week, Suzy, we're all about conserving water. And baby seals. Also, it's some kind of cancer awareness month and I want you to know the color of my bra."

(I warned you this would be really haphazard.)

And I'm sitting here, checking my Facebook, really only interested in what people are doing. But poor Suzy can't even post about washing her clothes without getting flack. For reals?

So, I've kind of just stopped updating my FB. I've unfriended half of my "friends" (the ones I never interact with anyway .... the fact that we knew each other when we were twelve doesn't mean that I want your spouse, who I do not know, to have the potential to access my page and pictures of my kids, etc.). I'm on Instagram and will share those pictures on FB, because I have a lot of family out of town who are on FB but not Instagram, and they like to see pics of the kids. Works well.

Other than that, I'm kind of sick of it all.

Does this make me an old crow?

Have a lovely day.