Friday Favorites: Snail Mail Surprises

I have a couple of friends that love snail mail as much as I do, giving and receiving. Occasionally we send each other a little something something. When I am out and about it is my favorite thing finding a treasure that makes me think of a family member or friend. It is not the easiest thing for me to get it to the post office, but it will get there *smile* my friend, Melissa, sent me these note cards from Tiny Prints with artist Stina Persson. The print is of a woman that has amazing earrings. Melissa and have a “thing” for Nickel and Suede earrings. It’s a connection we have, in addition to many others! Thanks to this wonderful gesture, I have found a new artist to love!

Cow Pie Memories

I love memories of my childhood. I was blessed with two loving parents and a fantastic little sister. I went to good schools, joined in activities that allowed me to be creative and was surrounded by loving and caring friends.

I get to relive my childhood each day with my two littles. Stella is a spitting image of me and Em, well she is “my little sister”. Stella’s class, along with the other kindergarten class, was invited to a farm in Bemidji. I just had to chaperone this field trip. See, my mom chaperoned my 1st grade field trip to my teacher’s farm when I was little. I have videos on a VHS tape that my mom filmed of this trip. I am huddled by my best friend, Jenny, getting grossed out by the Cow Pies that we could throw like frisbees. *gag*

The kids didn’t throw Cow Pies this time around, nor were the words uttered to the kids. The field trip though, was such a joy to my heart. It was a blessing. It brought smiles to my face, my heart and my brain. I saw Stella run around with her friends, she held hands with many of them and clearly enjoyed herself.

I imagine my mom having the same feelings 30 years ago. *ugh, 30 years ago*

I hope there are not many times in my future when I think of Cow Pies again, I imagine Em will go on this field trip in a year or so, but I do look forward to witnessing the girls surrounded by classmates and friends that help form them into the girls God wants them to be. Kind, caring, smart, strong and beautiful human beings.

Love Wins

We are in a time where we need constant reminders that Love Wins. This seems like it should be common sense, but why is it not? I believe that there are still more good people in the world than bad, but why is it that our kids have to learn ALICE training? Why is it that we have to worry about our kids’ safety at school of all places? It broke my heart to hear about the school shooting in TX. I was fortunate to spend the day with my daughter’s class on a field trip last week. Such innocence ran around the farmstead we visited. They are well aware of what to do if a bad person comes into their school. They know they are to throw any object at the bad guy and they know to take direction from the teachers that hopefully can protect them. To write this forces me to vision my kids in these situations and it causes instant anxiety, broken breathing and tears to form. This world has become a very scary place. We need to come together and end the violence. We need kids to have boundaries. The small troubled fish need to be stopped in their actions before they become big fish that are out of control. Innocent kids are being killed and being threatened in this great world we live in.

The shooting, in my opinion, was a bit overshadowed by the Royal Wedding. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love a prince getting married, especially one as good looking and kind as Prince Harry? The sermon that was given at the wedding by Rev. Michael Curry was incredible. It spoke to me on so many levels. I pray that we continue to love. Again, Love Wins!

Words that won me over:

“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love” … “And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world”

“Imagine our governments and countries when love is the way”… “Imagine business and commerce when this love is the way … No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that. Poverty would become history in such a world as that.”

Maybe Rev. Michael Curry didn’t intend to discuss love in the way he did at the Royal Wedding, but he had a large audience listening to him. Harry and Meghan seem to be very dedicated to making the world right again through love. It was a fitting sermon for them to hear along with those that tuned in. MAY LOVE CONQUER ALL.

Shirt: Old Navy

Monday Meals: Summertime Grilling

‘Tis the season for grilling! Bring on the summer meals. This means a lot of meat on the grill for us. It is hard to believe that I was a vegetarian for a year. I adopted this way of eating after I saw the documentary Food Inc. If I had not married a man from Minnesota who has hunting as one of his hobbies, I would probably still live with those eating habits. He probably married me as I “gave” up this diet after a year. It was a difficult way of living. I mainly ate this way as I have a very passionate love for animals. T is a wonderful cook and grilling meat is his specialty. Last night we ate pork chops on the grill, grilled potatoes, cooked green beans and a couscous salad. T has a homemade blend of seasons he uses on almost all the meat he cooks. If I was to pick one store bought blend I would suggest 21 Salute from Trader Joe’s. Anything we put this on tastes good.

Potatoes:

Slice the potatoes into thin slices

Between two pieces of buttered tin foil place the potatoes, sliced sweet peppers, sliced onions and minced garlic, we also add a few more slices of butter throughout. Sprinkle with 21 Salute.

Fold the tin foil and grill on the grill until fully cooked.

Green Beans:

Steam a few servings of green beans and drain the water from the pot.

Add a couple of tablespoons of each, soy sauce and butter.

Sprinkle with black pepper.

If you have sesame seeds, sprinkle on top before serving.

Couscous Salad with Mint, Raisins and Almonds

1/2 cup cooked couscous

1/2 cup raisins (or Craisens)

1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cucumber, sliced

1/4 cup mint, chopped

1 T sliced almonds

Curry Dressing:

3 T soy sauce

1 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 t curry

2 T honey

Mix all ingredients together.

We made two types of burgers tonight. Both come from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks. Read here for my love of everything Gwyneth!

Thai Style Burgers (semi altered) from It’s All Good

1-1.5 lb ground beef

2 t minced garlic

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 small chopped onion (called for 2 shallots)

1 t chili powder

2 t soy sauce

1/2 t salt

1/2 t ground pepper

Mix all ingredients, form into burger patties and grill

Cheesy Stuffed Burgers (semi altered) from My Father’s Daughter

1/2 c mixed onion

1 t dried rosemary

1 -1.5 lb ground beef

1/2 t salt

1/4 t ground pepper

1/2 c shredded cheese

Mix all ingredients, form into burger patties and grill

Add some fresh fruit on the side for a nice added sweetness. I love the taste of comfort food in the winter, but goodness, I love the taste of summer freshness!

Magnolia Table Book Review

I have owned the Joanna Gaines cookbook, Magnolia Table, since it came out a few weeks ago. I have ooohhhed and aaaahhhed over it almost daily. I finally tested out one of her breakfast recipes for my in laws this weekend. Emery and Stella said it was a keeper. Easy to make and much more tasty than the Pillsbury kind. The orange frosting was a bit too much for our taste. I sat it aside and drizzled it over some brownies we made later in the day.

Ingredients

Rolls

1.5 sticks of butter, room temp

3/4 c brown sugar

4 t grated orange zest

1 t ground cinnamon

2- 8 oz cans crescent rolls

1 c chopped walnuts

Glaze

2 c powder sugar, sifted

Orange zest from 2 oranges

2 t vanilla

1/2 c fresh orange juice

Directions

Heat oven to 375

Mix butter, brown sugar, orange zest and cinnamon into a paste.

Roll out dough and pinch the perforations to make 2 single sheets.

Spread butter mixture onto both sheets.

Sprinkle walnuts on butter mixture.

Roll up each sheet, long way.

Cut into 12 rolls total.

Spray bottom of 8 in round cake pan.

Place 12 rolls in cake pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Whisk glaze ingredients until well mixed.

When rolls come out, flip onto plate and let stand 5 minutes.

Drizzle glaze over rolls and serve warm.

The brownies looked a bit funky after my kids cut them apart, but we’re sure tasty. I have learned to make my own with this recipe, but this was an Annie’s Brownie Mix.

Janet.

I got myself out for a walk/run tonight as it was absolutely gorgeous out. Just enough breeze, enough sun left and a quiet road all to myself. I had Janet (Jackson) on tonight. I was about ready to switch it up when Black Cat came on, you know, the music video where she is wearing a white button down shirt and black pants on stage? Who knew that classic combo could be so rock n roll? Oh yeah, there was the black bra too! Maybe not so classic? Or maybe so *wink* Rhythm Nation was one of the first cassette tapes I owned. In fact, when I listened to that song tonight I was expecting to here the “glitch” on the song that my cassette tape used to have because I listened to the song so often!

Here are my top 10 Favorites:

1. Black Cat, that guitar solo!

2. That’s The Way Love Goes

3. Escapade (hello, Minneapolis!)

4. If (I once requested the song on the radio station as an 11 year old, boy did the DJ have fun asking me if I knew what the song meant… *blushing, I only slightly had an idea* *dying laughing*

5. Rhythm Nation, what a great dance sequence. Talk about an iconic video.

6. Scream, not enough credit for this sister/brother duo. The words still speak to me today. Full of complete emotion. And her hair cut in the video, awesome and edgy.

7. Got Til It’s Gone with Q-Tip (remember when he played her boyfriend in Poetic Justice before she met Tupac?) He has such a unique voice. This album was underrated. There was such an underground and groovy sound to it. Possibly a favorite of mine.

8. Love Will Never Do Without You, the deepness of her voice was so surprising to me when I heard this the first time.

9. Again.

10. All Night, possibly my last favorite of hers to come out.

Stepping IT up a Notch

I have shared a few times that I have been a Tracy Anderson Method fan when it comes to exercising. I learned about her so many years ago. At least 10 years ago I imagine. I follow her on Instagram to remain motivated to work out and when I visited LA for a work conference a year ago, I made it a point to attend one of the classes at her studio there. It was amazing. Hearing the loud music, walking on her bounce floor and going through the exercises with her trainers that were like second nature to me, it was a high I can not explain.

Even with all of this love I have for her and her program, I found myself in an exercise rut. I needed to try something new. I ran into Mom’s Into Fitness when I was pregnant with Stella, our first child. This was prior to Tracy Anderson coming out with her 9 months of pregnancy videos. I was following MIF on Instagram too; I need all of the motivation I can get. I decided to order her 8 week program, Pretty Fierce. I remained dedicated and completed the program. I tried to not step on the scale too often throughout the 8 weeks. I wanted to see how I felt rather than what the numbers said. I didn’t change my eating habits much, but tried to be more mindful. After the 8 weeks I weighed a couple of pounds less, lost a couple of inches between my thighs and waist and could see more definition of muscle forming with my arms, abs and legs. A win for me.

I read some reviews of the MIF fitness program, Pretty Fierce Lean Out, and found that women had stronger results with this program. I took a week off from working out and jumped back on the bandwagon tonight. My arms are shaking while I type this post. Here we go again! May God help me stay motivated as I throughly enjoy the workout shakes! This makes me happy, just one more thing I am strengthening. *smile*

Monday Meals: Cheeseburger Joes & Chicken Tikka Masala

These are two easy crock pot meals to whip up for busy weeks. We have just a couple of weeks of school left and then things get a little less chaotic for our family. The Tikka Masala Recipe came from the Real Simple magazine. I do not think we have had a failed Real Simple Recipe occur. I think the cucumber and cilantro gives this a summery feel.

Click here for the Tikka Masala Recipe.

I don’t recall where the Cheeseburger Joes recipe came from. My kids love it. We don’t make it often due to the Velveeta cheese that it calls for. It is a no fail recipe for them though!

Cheeseburger Joes

1 1/2 lbs beef

3 cloves pressed garlic

1/4 t salt

1/2 t pepper

8 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed

2 T milk

1 onion, chopped

Pretzel rolls, 8

Mustard, ketchup, pickles, mayo, tomato to top the sandwiches

Brown beef in skillet w/ 1 clove of garlic and seasonings.

Drain, mix with rest of the ingredients.

Cover, cook on low in croc pot.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all who are a mother in some aspect. There are so many different kinds of mommies out there. Mommy with a kid, Mommy who had.a kid, Mommy who wants a kid, Foster Mommy, Animal Mommy, Like-a-Mommy and any other Mommy types I may have missed.

I am blessed to have my mom in my life. I gave her a card today that said Best Mom + Best Friend. It is true, she is one of my best friends. I have looked up to her for as long as I can remember. I look to her for advice on a very regular basis on topics that range from being a mom, being a good person, and fun things such as fashion (I take her hand-me-downs often), recipes (we share a love of recipe books) and home decorating (this is where my passion for interior design comes from). I am fortunate to see here at least every other month. I could easily move away from Minnesota, until I start to think about moving away from my mom (and dad). My mom helped form me into the person I am today. I thank her for that and thank her for all of the times she has set aside for me. I love you!

Friday Favorites: You are my sunshine

We had summer show up briefly, but I am wishing for more. Here are a few of my favorite things that bring me summer all year along.

Maui Jim sunglasses are my favorite and I don’t think I can go without them.

Yankee Candle has this this candle that my mom and I equally love. It’s like a day at the beach.

Sun Bum is exactly what sunscreen should be. It keeps my skin safe and smells like sunscreen should- coconut and the ocean. Sometimes I will put it on just to smell like summer.