October 31, 2011

November 2011 Goals

So I guess I need to revisit my Octobor Goals and see how well I've done this past month!

Start exercising again - I've started taking the stairs at work, 6 flights everytime I go up or down, and on the weekends I've pretty consistently done something active, but I haven't done my 3x per week goal
Organize our budget - check! (We use Mint.com - this is an awesome budgeting tool! It's created by Intuit so you know it's safe, and it's free!!)
Time with the Lord - not too consistent on this either
Finally get my wedding dress cleaned and preserved - check!!
Do at least one of the crafts that I have pinned on Pinterest - I've gotten a few accomplished :)
Being intentional with my time - Definitely been more productive this month, but I still need to work on some of my goals, so I'll give myself a 7 out of 10 on this one

Basically I've figured out that I am good at accomplishing tasks, but when it comes to sticking to a routine, I don't do well at all. This is something I need to work on with my time with God and exercise. You probably don't care about these posts but this has been helpful for me! I probably won't do this every month, but we'll see how it goes.

My November 2011 Goals:
Work on my routine
Exercising 3x per week
Time with the Lord 4x per week
Finish office futon revamp
Paint shelf and TV stand in office
Find a new desk for the office, one that is bigger with lots of storage and within our budget

October 27, 2011

Healthy Eats: Bell Peppers

I'm starting a new segment of the blog: Healthy Eats. These posts will highlight healthy foods that are tasty and good for you! In the future I hope to post recipes that go co-incide with my Healthy Eats posts. Stay tuned!


I love to eat bell peppers as a snack, because they are tangy and full of flavor, while also being good for you. As I was eating some slices of green bell pepper at lunch the other week, a coworker told me that the red bell peppers are the most nutritious for you. I decided to research to find out if this was a rumor or if it was actually true. Here are some interesting facts I learned:
  • All bell peppers are of the same plant, and their colors vary based on how ripe they are! Green peppers are picked before they are ripe, and then are ripened off the stem. Red peppers have been ripened fully before being picked. Yellow and orange are somewhere in between. This explains why green peppers are the cheapest to buy.
  • Because they are ripened fully, red peppers do have the most nutrients. This veggie is LOADED with vitamin C - 209 mg as opposed to the 70 mg found in an orange. (So if you want to build up your immune system, eat a red pepper instead of an orange!)
  • Green peppers are slightly bitter, and a lot of people don't really like them raw. Red, yellow, and orange peppers however have a very different taste - they are much sweeter and almost fruity. These are great to eat raw!*
  • Nutrients found in all bell peppers (levels varying based on color) include: vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, folic acid, chemicals stimulating antioxidant activity.
  • Bell peppers help prevent blood clots, risk of heart attack and stroke, and according to some studies, cancer. They also help lower cholesterol.
  • Like all vegetables, cooking bell peppers at higher heat will cause them to lose some of their nutrients, which is why eating them raw is such a great snack option. :)

*Bell peppers can also be purple in color, but I omitted them because they are less common and I never see them in the grocery store. If you'd like to find out more about them, check out my sources.

October 26, 2011

Office Project Sneak Peek

So this picture is not of the greatest quality (taken by my phone's camera), but here is a sneak peek of some new changes coming to our office/guest bedroom! Stay tuned for more pictures of projects that I have in the works - they should be coming in the next couple weeks!

If you can't tell, these two colors are yellow and gray. I freehanded the stripes on plain copy paper, and then framed it in a Target frame with a matte from Michael's.** I'm pretty sure that this is the extent of my painting skills, but I'm happy about the way it turned out! Can I get an Amen for cheap art??

Now, can you guess what color I'm pairing with these two throughout the rest of the room? I won't give any hints, but if someone guesses the color I'll confirm it!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week :) It is now more than halfway over!

October 25, 2011


I have a love/hate relationship with having a long list of things to do. On the one hand, it clutters my brain and all I can think about is how much I have to get done and when is the soonest I can fit some of those tasks in my schedule so I can check them off the list. On the other hand, if I had no to-do list, I would miss out on that sense of pride and accomplishment that I feel when I get things done and get to knock one more task off that list.

In a world where everything is digitized and in some type of online cloud, it seems smartest to digitize my lists as well. I have tried multiple "To do list" apps on my phone and while in my mind it makes sense to have it all in my phone (because let's be honest, everything else in my life is in that little machine), but I find it so cumbersome to have to select the app, type in my tasks, and later remember that I even put that list in there. I time and time again resort to the trusty ol' pen and paper method. I really do love writing out the lists. A cute little notepad doesn't hurt, either.

Reasons why I   w r i t e   it out:

  • I see the list. It's not just in my phone but it floats around in my car, my purse, my kitchen counter and reminds to do the things I need to! Way better than a notification on my phone, which I can just whisk away into cyberspace. (I think I'm sounding more and more old-fashioned as I write this...)
  • Crossing off a completed task is sooo much more satisfying than touching a little checkmark on a screen. Am I weird because of this?
  • A reason to buy pretty pads of paper. I absolutely love writing on pretty paper!
  • I like my handwriting and I'm not afraid to admit it. I rarely ever handwrite things and this is a chance to have fun with it!

And because I love pretty paper... here are some lovely notepads I would love to buy for all those lists! :)

Love this. via finchandhawk Etsy shop

via TheZestyDesk Etsy shop

via brittanylaurendesign Etsy shop

A cute little notepad holder via The Cottage Home

via Life's a Journal

And this is just awesome. via Pinterest

October 20, 2011

Inside-out Paint

This week I have been working on a project that I started in our den/office and I am excited to share it with you when I've got some of it finished! It involves painting, books, and some bright colored fabrics. It won't all come together very fast, so I'll share with you in stages. I'm excited to turn our den into something pretty. Ever since we moved in, it has kind of been a hodgepodge of random things from both of our previous homes, and never really had any type of theme or coordination. Since we got a TV in the room and have been spending more time in there, I have been noticing how plain and untogether it is. So this is my attempt to fix that! I can't wait to see what comes of it.

For now I want to show you a fun little trick I learned from a favorite DIY blog of mine, my yellow umbrella. Alina is the queen of DIY-ing thriftstore finds and turning them into something beautiful. She is so creative! Check out this gorgeous cake stand/table centerpiece she created from random glass objects, spraypaint, and glue:

She spraypainted the inside of a glass vase and the bottom of a glass platter, and then glued them together. How brilliant!! Check out her Faux Milk Glass Tutorial for the how-to. How cute would a series of different sizes and colors be for a baby or wedding shower, or even a wedding? And it is so cheap!

I recently tried doing this with blue spraypaint on a vase for my bathroom and sadly I picked the wrong color blue and it didn't really turn out. The problem with this painting technique is that you can't just paint over it because the whole point is to see the paint through the glass! Oh well, you win some you lose some, this I have learned with DIY projects. (I won't bother showing you pictures because it's just not worth it. Just keep looking at Alina's beautiful creation :)

I hope you are enjoying your week!
Expect some pictures of the den project to come soon!

October 15, 2011

Simple Pumpkin Muffins

This week I've kind of been on a pumpkin craze, like the rest of the world this time of year. (If you missed my Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili, check it out!). Today I made a simple recipe that is so good and so simple. My friend Morgan over at Living Life for His Glory made these pumpkin muffins for a girls night, and I could not get over how good they were, while also being good for you! I decided to change the last few up a bit, by adding in a special ingredient, which may or may not have kept them healthy. You are not going to believe how simple these are!

Simple Pumpkin Muffins

1 box of cake mix (Morgan recommended using carrot cake)
1 can of pumpkin
1 cup water
pumpkin pie spice, to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. (Do not add any other ingredients the cake box says to add - just the powder mixture!) Bake according to instructions on the box, probably at 350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes.

Recipe from SparkRecipes

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Do you see my special ingredient hiding in there?

There it is! I added chocolate chips to a few and they were Mmm mm good! Leave a comment to let me know what fun flavor combinations you come up with. Happy fall baking :)

October 14, 2011

Wildflower fail

I take back roads on my way to work, and the other day I noticed some pretty yellow wildflowers along the road. I love having fresh flowers in the house, and my previous bouquet had gone bad so I had the brilliant idea to pick some and bring them home (they were not in anyone's yard, nor were they planted by the county - they really were flowers growing wild. I promise I didn't steal them from anyone!). Well, when I had cut them and put them in water in a mason jar as a vase, it was obvious they are wildflowers and didn't look quite as nice as the hydrangea and dhalias. I still thought they looked cute though, in a disheveled-daisy-kind-of-way, so I left them on the table next to my pumpkin. I was so proud of myself for finding a fresh bouquet for free! Until last night. That's when I realized that wildflowers may have been a bad choice. It has been two days since I brought them into my house, and now surrounding the mason jar is a circle of bright yellow pollen that is continuing to drop from the flowers, making a mess on my table and fall placemats. I guess these cute little wildflowers are gonna have to go.

This got me thinking about how life in general is imperfect and doesn't always go according to plan. Throughout my apartment this is so obvious - right now my bedroom looks like an explosion of laundry, half of which needs to be washed, the other half is already washed but in a laundry basket so the clothes probably now have permanent wrinkles from sitting in there so long. My bathroom, though now organized, has gotten dirty once again and definitely needs a good scrubbing. My dishdrain and dishwasher are full of dishes that need to be put away. Our kitchen table is covered with bills, magazines, and random mail we needed to take care weeks ago. Oh, and don't forget the wildflower pollen has gotten into that mess as well (I still have yet to clean that up). Yeah, so a lot of imperfections...

To add to all that, last night my husband and I were getting settled in front of the TV to eat dinner and catch up on some of our favorite shows, and I don't even know how it happened but I knocked over my pink Mike's Hard Lemonade and completely doused a good portion of the carpet. Instead of having a peaceful and relaxing night, we ended spending a good 45 minutes trying to figure out how to clean the carpet and get rid of the stain. There may or may not have been a fight somewhere in there, too, with maybe a little bit of yelling, because we are human, and definitely very imperfect.

I could go on to say that everything "doesn't have to be perfect," "life is so much more interesting with the imperfections," and "it's the imperfections that make you you." And yes, life is definitely more interesting because of the imperfections, and my life is so much more full because I am surrounded by so many unique people who are not all just like me. But the truth is there is a part of me that still gets frustrated with my flaws, and while I have a strong desire to do things the right way, I simply just can't all the time. And that is so frustrating. I can't rely on a quote or a mantra to give me to right attitude to just let it go, as the world might tell me to do. No, I have a greater comfort: the fact that my Savior loves me in spite of all my imperfections. Not because I'm going to "try to do better next time," or after I have already cleaned up the mess. But He loves me through it all. So much that He offers it over and over again to me before I'm even ready to apologize.

I guess I just wanted to share a little bit of what's on my heart right now, and remind you that if you're feeling imperfect, know that I am, too. Very much so. But the amazing thing is that we're covered by the grace of a God who loves us so much. I am so thankful for that.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and while it may or may not be perfect, know that you are loved in spite of your imperfections.

October 13, 2011

Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili

I am linking up with one of my favorite blogs for a great chili recipe! I made this last night and it is so SO good. Honestly, this chili tastes almost just like any regular red chili. However, this one is healthy because it has ground turkey and pumpkin in it. Yes, I said pumpkin! It is not a strong flavor in the recipe, and somehow it really pairs well with the chili powder, cumin, and garlic.

The most fun part about this chili is that I prepared it the night before, and then put it in the crockpot in the morning before I left for work. All day long I was daydreaming about it... seriously I couldn't wait to get home for it! It turned out great and my husband and I both enjoyed it so much. I hope you do too!

Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili

Servings: 9 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Calories: 182.6 • Fat: 2.3 g • Protein: Carb: 10.9 g • Fiber: 8.8 g • Sugar: 2.1 • Sodium: 429.8 (without salt)

cooking spray
2 lb 99% lean ground turkey
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
2 (15 oz cans) of white northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
4.5 oz canned chopped green chile
2 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth (I used 1 can plus some water)
1 tsp chili powder, to taste
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves

Serve with:  fat free sour cream for topping, chopped cilantro and chives for topping, salt and pepper to taste, and tortilla chips

Heat a large heavy saute pan over high heat and lightly spray with oil. Add turkey and cook, breaking it up until white, about 5 minutes. Add to crock pot. Add oil to the saute pan, then onions, garlic, sauté about 3-4 minutes; add cumin and sauté another minute. Put in crock pot. Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chilis, broth, chili powder, oregano, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste before serving. Enjoy!

*Click the link above for Gina's printer-friendly version

October 10, 2011


We just had an amazing weekend visiting friends at our alma mater, Virginia Tech. If you've followed along on my blog, you know that my husband and I are huge Hokies fans. So it is an understatement to say that we had a great time beating Miami! A good amount of our college friends also were able to come for the weekend, so it was really great to catch up with them and have a mini reunion! It wouldn't have been the same without our fellow Hokie friends there. We stopped at our favorite places to reminisce and enjoy all the things we miss about Blacksburg. We got drinks and a pita pizza at The Cellar, tailgated outside the stadium, visited Oak Manor (the neighborhood we both lived in), ate lunch at Cabo Fish Taco, stocked up on Hokie gear at Tech Bookstore, and walked around campus to view the April 16th memorial and the place we got engaged. It didn't quite feel like college again, but it was close!

Good ol' Lane Stadium!

I love seeing that beautiful sky from the stands

Yay, we won!

Driving through campus - loving the fall trees!

Burruss Hall & the April 16th Memorial

Sitting on War Memorial Chapel, where we got engaged over 2 years ago

The Pylons at War Memorial

Our wonderful weekend was finished with having Monday off for Columbus Day, so I feel refreshed and ready to get back to work (almost!). How was your weekend?

October 5, 2011

Pesto Chicken Pizza

This is one of my favorite pizza recipes ever! I am usually a tomato sauce kind of girl, but this pesto combination is just sooo good. Your taste buds will love you for making this.

Pesto Chicken Pizza
pizza dough
1/4 c. pesto
cooked chicken (1 large breast, or 2 smaller ones)
1/2 can black beans, drained
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 - 1 c. mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

Mold out your dough on a pizza stone or pan. Spread out an even layer of pesto. Add chicken, black beans, tomato, and then top with the cheese (I don't know why, I just like it this way). Follow whatever your pizza dough says for baking, but add a little time since there is so much stuff on top. I use the Trader Joe's wheat dough (it is the best!), and it says about 10-12 minutes but I usually have to leave it in for 25-30 minutes to get it cooked all the way through. I also use Trader Joe's pesto. I suppose you could make your own pesto and have it be just as great, if not better!

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Extra tip: For times when I need cooked chicken for a recipe and I'm not using a marinade, I like to use Nature's Seasons. It's a combination of salt, pepper, and some other spices that add a little flavor to plain chicken.

October 4, 2011

$2.50 Bathroom Fix

So, our bathroom sink was a mess. It has been this messy probably since the last time I cleaned it. And I kept putting off cleaning it because there is so much stuff to move and it takes forever.

I decided I needed some type of basket to contain all of my beauty products because it would A) make it look nicer, and B) it would be so much easier to clean thus giving me motivation to clean more often. After searching Goodwill and Homegoods, I didn't find what I was looking for in size or price. Then I went to Target. Why didn't I go there before?? I started browsing around in the $1 section, and then found this! It was selling as a "Halloween decoration," but it was exactly what I was looking for! And at $2.50 to boot!

Doesn't this look sooo much better? Everything slides in so nicely, and it all fits, which is amazing! It totally cleans up the counter. (I'll admit that I also cleaned the sinks before taking these pictures!)

And just in case you don't believe me on the price...

This would have cost me at least $10 anywhere else (Crate & Barrel, Pottery BarnThe Container Store). Even the baskets I was finding at Goodwill were around $1 or $2, and I would have had to spraypaint them.

Here is another trick I use for my makeup tools, eyeliner, and mascara. I bought this glass mug at Walmart awhile back for about $2. It works great because everything is easy to grab.

What kind of things do you use to organize your bathroom counter?

October 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

This weekend went by way too fast. I feel like I was just starting to be productive and then it was bedtime on Sunday night, with Monday morning just around the corner. I did manage to have some relaxing time and accomplish some things I wanted to (there will be more on these accomplishments in a later post). Our weekend was full of Mexican food, bike riding on the Tobacco Trail, touring some houses in the annual Parade of Homes, Hokie football, seeing the movie Moneyball, catching up on our favorite shows, and brainstorming ideas for our den which badly needs decorating. Hopefully in the next few weeks some of these ideas will come to fruition!

One more thing I did this weekend: bake this delicious chocolate cake. This is another one of my momma's. Enjoy this recipe - it really is a treat!

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box Jello chocolate pudding mix
1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. oil
4 eggs
3/4 c. water
8 oz. sour cream
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease bundt pan. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl, then add wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool before removing cake from pan.

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How was your weekend? Did it fly by like mine did?