Monday, February 27, 2012

St. Patricks MONTH (yes, it has already started for me)

St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. Some people would find that strange, due to St. Patricks Days association with people claiming what shred of an Irish heritage they can, kissing or pinching people, green beer (really, that has to take SO much dye. Gross) and public forgiveness for being drunk.

Those things are not really me. I do have a shred of Irish heritage, along with lots of other nationalities. I only kiss people in my family and the same is mostly true for pinching. I am not a fan of green beer or drunkenness (though it may be entertaining to watch at some sporting events.)

I like St Patrick's Day better than Valentine's Day (lucky husband), better than 4th of July (totally not because I am unpatriotic), and better than my birthday (which often falls on Labor Day). I would be tempted to say more than Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I have too much great family time at those, I actually enjoy being thankful, and well, Jesus is the reason for the season.

Some people would find my obsession strange, but let me explain.

This is how I feel about Ireland. This little boy and I, kindred spirits.
I have been blessed to be in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on several occasions, and so a part of my story is based there. The above picture is in Northern Ireland, in a small quite valley, not far from where I lived.
It truly is an Emerald Isle. This was taken as I was driving with friends up the North Coast. The colors are so brilliant and vibrant, that it takes your breath away.
Yeah, I enjoyed my time living there immensely and most of all, I loved the people.
Each year, I find new ways to pay tribute to the time I was there. Generally it involves grabbing my recipes that I got from Heather and Allen, concocting a feast and watching some favorite old movie or another. I often get out my pictures and remember my friends: Ewelina (whose birthday is St Patricks Day!), Cynthia, Richie, Jane, Claire, Ben, Emma, Martina, Stefanie... I could go on.
I also think of my friends in college, who put up with me making an Irish feast and eating with me each year. I even took a whole group back with me around St Patrick's Day for a wonderful week serving at Murlough House. (If you ever want to do mission work in Northern Ireland, let me know!)
I always make Blarney Stones from my Grandma's recipe and send out St Patricks Day cards to my family. For me, it is a deeply personal holiday that resounds with love and laughter.

This year, I wanted to bring a more vintage feel to my St. Patrick decor. And yes, I started celebrating and decorating the day after Valentine's Day. So, I got some pictures of vintage St. Patricks Day postcards and reprinted them on card stock. I changed the images size so I could have some little and some rather laarge ones.
I pinned four of them to my wreath on my door and the other two went elsewhere.
Its the little things that bring you joy, invoking memories of drinking tea in a small flat above my room at Murlough House, looking for the Green Box that my grandparents always hid for us, and soaking up the sunshine or the rain as it fell on the fields in the reserve in Dundrum.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What I'm Reading Now

This story follows a recently retired airline pilot as he struggles with what to do in retirement. His wife has recently died and he has a hard time "sitting still". He decides to go to Belgium where his plane was shot down in World War 2. Once there many of the villagers come out and tell him their memories of when the plane was shot down. Within their stories he realizes that other that helped him escape Belgium & France may also remember and be willing to share their story.

His travels take him to the French countryside and then to Paris where he rents an apartment and attempts to find more of the people that hid him and helped him through the network.

This was an interesting story for me. Purely by chance I got this from the library right after I had read a WW2 book from a German woman's perspective. (not recommending because it was sad and pretty graphic). So both stories were very insightful (and it's no secret I enjoy learning about this time in history).

I enjoyed this book - but the ending was too "neat" for me. Sometimes I don't need to story to be packaged well and ended with everything resolved...but that's just me. I thought the character development was very good as far as the main character was concerned. Although I felt he was if he was supposed to be serious the author fail! ;-) It was interesting how the author showed both present day scenes as well as what they looked like in the man's memory.

Solid book - kinda long read.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tips to Get Things Done!

Today I want to share a post I read at Money Saving Mom because I think it's really great! (Link above takes you directly to her post)

Feeling like you’re always behind, stuck going around and around in circles, and never really getting anywhere or finishing anything? Here are three of my top tips for getting stuff done:

1. Keep Your To-Do List Short
You need a plan for your day, otherwise, you’ll most likely just end up running in circles. However, if you try to bite off more than you can chew in a day’s time, you’ll end up overwhelmed from the get-go.

Set yourself up for success by creating a short to do list for each day. I suggest no more than 5-7 items on your list.

It’s better to only plan to do four things and to actually accomplish three of them, then to make a list of 47 to-do items, and a only get a few bits and pieces of some of them done.

2. Make Your Daily Goals Measurable
When you make your to-do list, be realistic. Don’t write down “Clear out clutter in the whole house” or “Clean house” or “Find a new job.”

Break things down into bite-sized, manageable pieces and be specific. For instance, instead of writing down “Clear out the clutter in the whole house.” Set a goal to spend 30 minutes clearing out the clutter in one room. Instead of attempting to clean the whole house, make a goal to vacuum two rooms, do a load of laundry, and clean the toilets.

Not only are specific, measurable goals much more concrete, they are also much more manageable. The thought of cleaning the whole house is overwhelming, but knowing you just have to vacuum two rooms, finish a load of laundry, and clean two toilets is much more achievable. Plus, when you set measurable goals, you know when they are accomplished.

3. Use Your Minutes Wisely
If you want to have more productivity and efficiency in your life, you need to become the master of your minutes. If you find yourself with a short two-minute window of time, don’t just twiddle your thumbs. Do something. I’m always surprised at how much can be accomplished in a few minutes’ of time.

Things You Can Accomplish When You Have 2-3 Minutes’ of Free Time:

::Write a short thank you note or email.

::Clean the sink or toilet in the bathroom.

::Switch a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer.

::Pull out dinner from the freezer.

::Make a healthful snack to munch on instead of grazing on high-calorie, low-nutrition snacks.

::Take your vitamins and drink a glass of water.

::Do 25 sit-ups.

::Do a quick clean up of a room.

::Read a short story to a child.

::Text your husband to tell him you love him and appreciate him.

::Read 2 pages of the book you’re currently reading.

::Make a quick phone call.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday

Today's recipe comes from

Honey Beans and Spinach

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced finely
2 medium (or 4 tiny) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup honey
1 (12-ounce) bag baby spinach, washed (even if the bag says washed, rinse it off again)
2 tablespoons cream cheese (optional)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Drain and rinse both cans of beans, and dump them into your crockpot. Add the onion, garlic, and sweet potato. Add dry spices, and stir in honey and lemon juice-- you want the beans and veggies in the pot to be coated with them. Rinse off your spinach, and add it to the pot. You'll need to squish it all in, but I promise it'll fit. Plop a dollop of cream cheese on top. Cover, and cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for about 3. Stir well before serving over a bed of white or brown basmati rice.

The spinach on top may stick to the edges of the pot and get a bit crispy. This is okay-- just peel them off and stir them in. The bit of cream cheese mixes with the lemon and honey to create a fabulous sauce.

My changes:
Instead of black beans I used a "bean mix". Unfortunately I didn't plan ahead and prepare black beans...and the bean mix can was on sale. It had black beans in it!
No corriander - didn't have any
Only used 6oz of spinach (should have read the recipe better before going to the store!)
No cream cheese

Thoughts - um, yum! The sweet potato and the lemon juice mix perfectly. Had this for lunch today and I'm not going to mind eating the leftovers!

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I'm Reading Now

I feel like every couple of years a book like this comes out. And every couple of years I need to read it. A review on Amazon points out that what Platt is challenging people to do is not Radical...and I agree, to a degree. On paper it doesn't seem like a huge thing, but when you look at all 5 steps and how most people aren't doing them on a regular basis, I think you start to lean toward radical. But I think what's key here also is the tag line "taking back your faith from the American dream". All too often we get caught up in what we should have, how we should live, what we deserve and we forget about how the early followers of Jesus lived.

The 5 steps:
1. Read through the Bible in one year.
2. Pray for the world.
3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
4. Spend your time in another context
5. Commit your life to multiplying community

all good things to work on/toward.

I liked the book - it challenged me. Always good to read a challenge book at the beginning of a new year!

`My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him.' - David Platt

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday

Nutella Cookies! When I saw that Sister #2 pinned this on Pinterest I knew I had to give them a go!

Here is the inspiration.

Super easy!

1 cup Nutella
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the Nutella, sugar, and egg. Beat on medium speed until well combined, about a minute. Roll mixture into 1″ balls and place several inches apart (they spread quite a bit) on an ungreased, nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for about 3 minutes. Carefully remove cookies to finish cooling on a baking rack.

Those are mine above.
Things to note:
*1 cup of Nutella is almost the entire jar!
*My eggs might have been a bit old - so I am going to retry with
fresher eggs (hello mom?! ;-)) and the Crunchy Kroger version of

Things I didn't like (and hope are better with round 2):
*As seen above, 80% of the cookies broke when removing from the pan.
Not sure if I left them on too long or if this is where my old eggs
came into play.
*Some of the texture was grainy like all I was getting was sugar.
That's why I'm going to try the crunchy version...

**Edit: my staff and select customers LOVED these. So maybe I'm the one with the picky cookie pallet ;-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vintage + Modern Mash-up

Does it sound like I have been watching Glee? Well, I have not. However, I do like listening to most of their songs after it airs. Who doesn't like classics?
We bought this setee for $20 from our neighbor who sets up next to us at the outdoor antique show we go to. He couldnt sell it, so after trying all day, he sold it to us for less than he paid for it. It has been sitting, waiting for me to work on it since last fall.
Im not sure who recovered it last, but it had severely mismatched fabric. But, the bones were there and it really is a pretty frame.
Can you see just above the polka dot material? All those holes are from other reupholstery jobs gone wrong. It looked mutilated in places with all the nail/staple holes.
So, I ripped everything off and got to see the true frame. I had no idea it was solid in the middle, but it was a shame that the decorative pice was taken off. I couldn'd use it that way, and had to recover it all.
I started with new cushions. The old was lumpy and...well...old. I cut it down to size to match the seat.
I wanted a really modern graphic for this piece. I wanted to bring it in to the present, while still letting it be a solid traditional piece. I picked a black and white graphic.
Then came the fun part, of fitting the material over it all and nailing it into the proper place. I didn't want to hurt the wood anymore, and I wanted to give it an updated look. So, I took the material all the way to the bottom.
Here is the back, finished. I raised the back to cover up the holes, then we screwed it on from the back. No more new nail holes! I must say, that my husband helped with this part. He normally likes to remain anonymous, but he worked hard helping me screw the back in correctly. I couldn't have done it without his help.
I also finished it up with a really neat black boarder.
Here it is all finished. I would have taken nicer pictures outside...but it was snowing. :-)
And here is the back! I have it for sale, but if it doesn't sell...I know a great place for it!

Friday, February 10, 2012

What I'm Reading Now

Whenever I go "home" I raid my dad's library. This trip home saw me with a stack of 5 books (for 2 weeks) that I knew I couldn't get from the library and a list of those that I thought I could. This was the first book I read (and since I was sick 80% of the time I was there, the only one I finished!).

I started off with issues. Picture of Manhattan on the cover and the authors are from Austin & St. Louis....but I got over it ;-)

What I like about this book is that both men built the church that their community needed. That is not to say that they weren't Biblical, but more to say that they didn't fit "a mold". I like that. I think that it's something that is hard to accomplish when you move into an area to start a church. You might think you know what the area needs, but maybe it's not. Taking the time to determine that is a step that I think is often missing from today's planting.

With that primary thing being said - it's hard to read this book and gather tips. They have good ideas, successes and failure - but they are for their city/area. Meaning their success might not work in your city and their failure might not be a failure in your city.

This book is a good starting point. I think it would be encouraging for a planter that knows they want to do something different than what they are coming from or know, but are getting resistance from their sending group.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday

I can't remember where I got this recipe - so I can not give the credit due. Also - mine sat on the warm setting for awhile, so it looked kinda gross (so no picture!).

1 pound cooked sausage
1 large or 2 small apples, chopped (no need to peel)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3 cups already cooked long-grain rice
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tbls dried parsley flakes
1 Tbl brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth or water

Put all ingredients into the crockpot and stir well.

Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or on high for 3-4.

This doesn't stick together like casserole it has the consistency of fried rice.

My changes: no parsley flakes or allspice.

Loved the texture, loved the flavors, love that I threw it in the crockpot, stirred and went on with my day. Yum! (also using this to experiment with freezing cooked rice as I had lots of leftovers and then left town for a week)