Friday, September 28, 2012

Stocking Stuffer Swap: My gift from A Blessed Home

So I am very excited to have been a part of this fun blog swap! My friend Darby over at Life with the Hawleys started this swap to give everyone a fun way to pick up ideas for stocking stuffers this Christmas (don't you always find it hard to find gifts for the stocking?). The rule was your gift had to be under $25. Therefore, you had to get creative!

Anyway, I was paired up with a wonderful blogger from TX, Stephanie from A Blessed Home. After a quick peruse of her blog, I new exactly what to get her! You can check out her blog to find out what I gave her!

Her gift to me was sooooo wonderful! Here it is..

Isn't this just the prettiest gift ever?!! I can't express how much I love it. It is a sterling silver bracelet with a camera attached. As a photographer, this is such a precious gift to me. I love it so much, I am pretty sure I am not going to take it off...ever! 

I am so glad I participated in this swap... and thanks to Darby at Life with the Hawleys for organizing it! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yummy White Chicken Chili

As I mentioned before, this week has been crazy. I have been actually writing my blog posts the morning before I go to work. I should have written some of them this weekend to get ahead, but this weekend was CRAZY busy. This pin is basically the same pin as on Tuesday. However, it is a different recipe from the same pin. (I told you I was on a fall kick! What says "fall" more than chili and soup?!)

Here is the pin. I know it looks like the tomato soup. However, it is really a link to around 20 different soups and chilis. On Tuesday, I made the tomato soup. Today I am sharing the White Chicken Chili. 

Source: via Lindsey on Pinterest

The recipe called for quite a bit of spices, which I combined first to save time. Check out the full recipe on the pin above for details instructions. It also called for a whole onion, butter, and white kidney beans. Well, we couldn't find any white kidney beans at the store that we "knew" were gluten free. Therefore, we just bought regular kidney beans. Honestly, it tastes delicious with the regular ones, so don't feel pressured to find the "white" ones. (Please excuse these photos... I totally didn't edit because I didn't have much time).

The spices


Basically, you make a mixture of the onion and spices and cook it. It definitely is fragrant. Yum!

The recipe calls for cooked chicken. So I cooked my chicken in a dish in the oven. Then I cut it with kitchen scissors (which is soooo much easier than cutting it with a knife). Now, you can also cut your chicken before you cook it. It will cook faster that way, however it may dry out a bit.

Then you add the chicken, the corn and the beans. (Again, look to the pin for the detailed instructions!). I get organic corn because most corn is GMO, and I don't want any of that!

Organic corn

2 cans kidney beans

Ok, can I just say for the record that I LOVE LOVE LOVE these green chilis. I have used them in a million different recipes.
2 cans diced green chilis.
 Here is the mixing stage.

Then you add chicken broth and a bit of milk (or cream but I am watching my calories so I chose milk).

You add a bit of flour as a thickener. I used rice flour because I am gluten intolerant. Here is the final result. It tastes VERY good. Ivan loved it. He is always the first to tell me if a recipe was "good, but not good enough to make again". He definitely loved this. He pretty much ate it all before I got to have any!

So what recipes have you been trying this fall? Anything interesting? Anything that you plan to make a tradition?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 7: Happiness Project - Ivan, PF Changs, and Fitness

Today was Day 7 of the Happiness Project. Click here to find out more about the Happiness project. Feel free to join in with your own blog. Post your link in the comments so that I can follow you and see what you are thankful for! The great thing about posting these things on a delay (for example all of this was written over a week ago), is that I get to remember what I was thankful for! The three things I am thankful for today are:

1. My husband coming home!
Although this didn’t occur “today” and rather occurred on the weekend, I am still thankful for it. Ivan was gone on a business trip to Calgary. I am so excited that he is home. I hate sleeping alone and the house just gets so quiet and lonely. I am glad he is home! (Isn't he handsome?!)

2. Diet Accountability
It is time for me to start my accountability today. I am excited. I feel like accountability really helps me get my butt out of bed in the morning to exercise. It also helps me eat right. I know I am going to have to tell my accountability partner everything I eat so it really helps me not eat junk! So let’s see if I can lose these 20 lbs! (sadly this is on a delay and it isn't going well.. stay tuned!) 

3. PF Changs

I love that PF Changs does gluten free. There are so many restaurants out right now that “say” they do gluten free but they really don’t. It bothers me to no end when I see this on a gluten free menu “we have gluten free items but we do not take any precautions in our kitchen against cross contamination. So if you have a gluten allergy please tell the manager”. So what is the point? I mean seriously? This is what happens when people do “gluten free” as part of a diet fad. There is a lack of serious education on gluten in restaurants. I actually ordered off a gluten free menu at this one restaurant. I spoke to the manager and he said that he would make sure it was cooked on a separate area etc. Then, my food came out with BREAD on the plate. I couldn’t believe it! I was ticked off at the manager for clearly promising that he would “look after my food” , and then not following through. I was also ticked at the kitchen for not seeing “GLUTEN ALLERGY” written across the ticket. Anyway, PF Changs is awesome! I always feel safe when I eat there. I have never had a problem… and their food is delicious. We actually got carry-out from there last night. So good!

Ya, did not exercise today. Should have, but I didn’t. ERG. No excuses I know. 

I spent some time studying God’s word today. The lesson was based on God’s tabernacle and how it was the responsibility of the Israelites to maintain it. God blesses us and offers us salvation, but it is our responsibility to be obedient to Him. I enjoyed the lesson. I also spend some time in prayer. My heart has been heavy with just all the things I have on my plate right now. The holidays are approaching and I am starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. This time of the year also makes me wish for certain things that I can’t have right now. So, focusing on the present becomes a struggle.

Random Act of Kindness: 
I reached out to a friend who wasn’t having a great day. I just tried to comfort her and offer her prayer. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup...Yum!

*whew* You are lucky I did any Pinterest projects this week.. haha! I have been crazy psycho busy! I typically try to do my projects on the weekend. This weekend though was loaded with photoshoots, and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I was slammed packed to say the least! However, I did get around to doing   a recipe from a pin I pinned. 

Since it is officially fall, I decided to break out the soup recipes. I have always loved soups but my taste buds are more interested in the highly caloric cream based soups (forget vegetable based soups.. hah!). Anyway, I found some great soup recipes via this pin. You may actually see these recipes pop up a couple times during the Pinterest Procrastination Project. ( Btw, one of these days I am going to do a link up so you all can share your Pinterest projects, so be ready!). 

Anyway, I tried this roasted tomato soup recipe. I have never been a big tomato soup person. I don’t know why. It may be because the Cambell’s version tastes like liquid ketchup? Who know! I decided to give this one a shot. Now, I did use a bit less oil than the recipe (1 TBS less). I just didn’t see a need for 3 TBS of oil. If I was to do it again, I probably would use even less. I also would use half and half instead of heavy whipping cream. Often times, I find it gives a similar taste for much less calories. However, since this was the first attempt, I didn’t want to cut too many corners. 

Here is the pin

I roasted the tomatoes first with the seasonings called for in the pin (click on the pin to get the full recipe).

When they were all shriveled they went into the pot with the tomato sauce and other ingredients. The heavy whipping cream went in at the end. Then I had to blend all the ingredients together for a smooth consistency.

Here is the final product.

Omgoodness, I have totally been missing out! I love this tomato soup. It tastes delicious. The roasted tomatoes provide a really nice flavor. I actually had a Lunch/Dinner that consisted of this and a gluten free grilled cheese sandwich. It was total fall bliss! Top it off with a pumpkin spice latte in the morning and it was a great “food” day! YUM!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 6: Happiness Project - Candles, Friday, and Packages

Today was Day 6 of the Happiness Project. Click here to find out more about the Happiness project. Feel free to join in with your own blog. Post your link in the comments so that I can follow you and see what you are thankful for! The three things I am thankful for today are:

1. My “Happy Thanksgiving” Yankee Candle
Ok, can I first just express how much of a nut I am when it comes to candles. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I really don’t think there is such a thing as having too many candles. That being said, I had to trash a bunch of candles recently. I have these pumpkin candle holders (see this post) that I love. However, the candles that I bought to go in them were very cheap. They smelled very nice, but they were cheap. The problem with them is that they had an oil on the outside. This oil caused them to eat through the Ziploc bags that I put them in for storage (eessh… talk about toxic!!!). Therefore, I trashed them. I really wanted to get some yankee candles to put in the pumpkins but all of the yankee pillars have glass and I just wanted free standing pillars. Anyway, I went to the yankee candle store anyway. I wanted to get this three pumpkin tea candle holder that my sister and mom have. While I was there, I discovered their “swirl” candles. Wow! Amazing. These candles are basically two candle fragrances combined into one jar. I bought the happy thanksgiving one which was a combination of pumpkin pie and be thanksful scents. It is glorious! I lit it last night and this morning and I couldn’t be more in love!

2. Friday (Don't forget, these posts are on a delay! I know this is actually posting on Monday!!)
I was tempted to post the “Friday” video, but decided to spare you (this should have been my random act of kindness ahah!). Anyway, I am really glad it is Friday today. This week has been pretty long for me. I have a lot of Pinterest crafting to do this weekend as well, so I am excited to get started on it when I get home. I also have a blogger symposium this weekend which I am excited about. I have never been to a blogger symposium so this will be new for me!  (Of course by the time you read this, I have already been there. See the recap of it here!)

3.  Notice that my package shipped
I got notice that my package from B&H shipped. I ordered this special deal about a month ago which included Photoshop and Lightroom 4. The deal was so good that I purchased it despite the fact that I already own Lightroom. Anyway, I am so excited. I get it next week!!! I have photoshop now but it is a pretty outdated version. I am totally psyched! 

As mentioned before, I am not exercising until Ivan gets home. I have too many other things to do when he is gone. 

I had a great time of just relaxation and meditation when I got home. I have found that my "thought time" has been a lot more positive lately. I have also found that although I can be interrupted with something negative during the day, I bounce back to "happy thoughts" pretty quickly. I don't know if that is just the result of a good week or the project. Only time will tell!

Random Act of Kindness: 
Today, as I was driving through Panera to get my Pumpkin Spice Latte, I decided to grab one for a colleague at work. My colleague was extremely grateful and it felt good to bless someone’s day!

Day 6 down, 24 days to go!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 5: Happiness Project - Driving, Harmony, and Babies

Today was Day 5 of the Happiness Project. Click here to find out more about the Happiness project. Feel free to join in with your own blog. Post your link in the comments so that I can follow you and see what you are thankful for! The three things I am thankful for today are:

1. My Morning Drive
I don’t know if it is the fact that it is fall (in my mind), or the fact that I had my pumpkin spice latte with me… but I really have been enjoying my morning drives to work. I have been playing my Christmas music (don’t judge!) and just relaxing. 

2. Harmony
My dog is by far the cutest dog ever! That is not a biased statement . Last night she was all whiney…watching the door every 5 minutes. She was waiting for Ivan to come home. However, Ivan was out of town. It was so cute. She loves Ivan so much and when he doesn’t come home it is like the most depressing moment in her little life. When I called her in for “bed time” she just tilted her head (the cute way Pomeranians do) as if she was saying “What? bed time? But daddy hasn’t come home yet.” It was adorable.

3. My friend Amanda and her new baby Anderson
This morning (remember these posts are on a delay) I woke up with a text from my friend Amanda. She had her baby! He is such a sweet little thing. He did not want to leave his mama either. She was past her due date and everything. I am so glad to have friends like Amanda. I hope to see her sweet one soon!

I am not exercising until Ivan gets back from his trip. I have too many things to deal with so let’s just put it like that.  He runs with me in the morning and when he is not here, I am totally unmotivated to do that. 

I had some nice time in the car on the way home from work and at home where I just reflected on the day. Since Ivan hasn’t been home, the house has been very quiet and I have been able to just “relax and reflect”

Random Act of Kindness: 
This is going to seem like a very odd random act of kindness. I actually reached out and spoke to someone at the craft store. I was basically in line at Joann’s getting some materials for a newborn shoot I have coming up. Anyway, I went out of my normal comfort zone and asked the lady what she was making. She lit up when I asked her. She went on and on about what she was making, and why, etc. I clearly had made her day by asking her. It actually felt good.

Day 5 down, 25 days to go!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Houston Blogger Symposium Update!

This past weekend I went to my first blogging event. I went to the Houston Blogger Symposium. It was a great time! It was a great opportunity for me to connect with other local bloggers. I typically don't do well at networking events. I am just an extremely awkward person. I am a super wall flower...I don't do well with approaching people I don't know. However, we were all placed at tables with different people. Once we all sat down together, I got to know some people. UPDATE: Here are some pictures that were taken by Paige Budde at the symposium!

Me chatting with Paige

Here are some of the cute table decorations (and yes we did have champagne at 10am!):

I connected specifically with these bloggers:

I am so excited for the new blog friendships! I definitely will go again! We also got these wonderful "Swag Bags" from Francesca's Collections and Langford Market. So many cute things in the bag such as soap, lotion, a scarf, a tank, leggings, jewelry, etc. It was like early Christmas.. haha! I even wore the earrings I got yesterday.. love them! 
We also got to hear from a wonderful panel of bloggers. Overall, it was a great experience and I definitely will want to go again sometime. 

A Lemon to Remove Water Spots??

My second project for the week is a cleaning project from Pinterest. I am pretty sure I have probably pinned this or a variation of it a couple of times. Anyway. Here is the pin…pretty self-explanatory right? Well, lets give it a try.

Here is my before (embarrassing…I know!)

Here is my lemon.

I rubbed the lemon on the water spots. I actually pressed pretty hard. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to leave the lemon on the water spots or not. I left it for maybe 5 minutes before I wiped it off with a paper towel.

Here is the after

Well, it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference, if any. I was doubtful, but I gave it a shot anyway. It is really weird because we do NOT have hard water. We have had it tested a few times and it is not very hard at all. We also have a whole house purifier, although I think these spots appeared pre-filter. Anyway, it was worth a shot. This lovely little pin will be removed from my Pinterest. I have no need to keep it. Of course, you can always try it yourself and see if it works for you. Maybe my water spots are just rebellious! :) 

Check out my Pinterest page via the links in the right side bar See something that you would like me to try… let me know and maybe it will be my next Pinterest Procrastination Project!