Monthly Archives: February 2013

Snow Day Fun Day

As a kid, there was nothing more exciting than the potential snow day.

An entire day to sled with friends, build snow men and drink hot chocolate while hanging out by the fireplace. As an adult, you realized that there weren’t snow days and a large amount of snow only meant scary driving, driveway scooping and really really cold houses.

Well guess what friends? This girl works for someone who believes in snow days again. The world is a much more beautiful place. An amazing, beautiful, snow filled place. So this morning I woke up to a text letting me know that I could roll over and go back to sleep. Talk about the best text ever. This might have been it. Then I woke up to a little love in my favorite coffee mug and a cookie or two. Because, really, what snow day isn’t complete with some cookies for breakfast?!

Breakfast of champions.

Breakfast of champions.

And although I’m no longer five years old, when it snows, you’d better believe that I want to go play in it (after throwing in laundry, doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen). And so does the dog who was built for this weather.

Action shot. Running like a crazy lady and loving every moment of it.

Action shot. Running like a crazy lady and loving every moment of it.

I mean, look at her.

And the best part of the snow day is that everyone in Nebraska was talking about the upcoming storm… and then got no snow. And this is how much snow we got. So much snow.

Thank goodness for Uggs.

Thank goodness for Uggs.

But the best part? By the time I went to climb in my car – this is what it looks like:

I DON'T EVEN NEED A SNOW SCRAPER! How great is that?!

I DON’T EVEN NEED A SNOW SCRAPER! How great is that?!

I love the sun here. Love. Love. Love the sun. Makes it easy to drive around the city when all the snow on the roads has already melted by noon!

So thank you new job for the amazing day off to play in the snow, catch up on life and spend a little time on the couch working while catching up on The Mindy Project.

Perfect day. Hope all of you had a great one as well!

 

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A Little Home Upgrade and Paleo Chicken

I have a confession. When I moved, I left all of my tools with the house.

Because what on earth do you do with a saw and a drill in an apartment?

Hang things and cut stuff. That’s the answer.

Luckily for me – Mr. Southern Gentleman has every tool imaginable… and is handy. Man, I knew I liked this guy. So I traded a homemade meal for his handy help around the apartment. Which began my search for a paleo friendly meal – as he’s a clean eater. At the suggestion of a friend – I checked out PaleOMG. What. An. Amazing. Blog. Be warned – she’s a little vulgar – but the girl can cook! And when I stumbled upon this recipe – I knew I had found a winner – especially because I already had all of the ingredients at home. That has never happened to me… in my entire life! I felt so very June Clever.

Delicous. And completely healthy. #winning

Delicious. And completely healthy. #winning

Paleo Sweet Lemon Pepper Chicken

Ingredients:
•1lb chicken tenders/breasts/thighs (I just used two pieces of chicken, you know, because there were two of us)
•1 yellow onion, thinly sliced (I only had half an onion… and it was fine)
•1 apple, thinly sliced (I chopped)
•2 lemons, halved (ahem, lemon juice works too…)
•2 tablespoons raw honey
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•1 teaspoon nutmeg
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon black pepper
•½ teaspoon white pepper (I just have no idea what this is and will research further – until then, extra black pepper was fine!)
•½ teaspoon garlic powder
•½ teaspoon onion powder
•2-3 tablespoons fat, I used olive oil

Instructions
1.Thinly slice your onions and apples and throw them into a fat greased skillet under medium-high heat.
2.Let the apples and onions cook down for a bit until they begin to become translucent. When they do, add ½ lemon (juice), 1 tbsp honey, ½ tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and ¼ tsp white pepper, garlic and onion powder and mix thoroughly to help combine and let caramelize (this really happens, and it’s cool).
3.While the onions and apples cook away, pull out another large skillet (again – who has two skillets?! my one skillet solution: I threw the apple/onion mix into a pan and put it in the oven on warm, cleaned the skillet and then reused it), add some fat and heat up under medium-high heat. While the skillet heats up, salt and pepper your chicken and add them directly to the pan.
4.While the chicken begins to cook, add the rest of your ingredients including the spices, honey, and lemon on top of the chicken.
5.When the sides begin to turn white, flip the chicken over and add any extra honey and/or lemon on top, to taste.
6.Once the chicken has cooked through (the outside might blacken… I choose to call that the honey glaze seal… but um… whoops), layer some caramelized apples and onions on a plate, and top them off with some chicken.

I thought that a little quinoa would be perfect for this meal – so when I threw the apple/onion mix in the pan I also put my quinoa on to boil/cook. And it turned out about perfect! Plus – it tasted delicious! Plus – it was a nice clean meal.

Drilling, stud finding, tool using fun!

Drilling, stud finding, tool using fun!

But the best part? Was after. There was measuring, there was design, there was some laughs and a whole lot of sawdust… but then there was an opening in my cat box! Check that out.

PLUS – we (read he) got my map hanging up in my room. AND he fixed the crooked frame.

But as home projects usually go… now I’ve got the itch to re-spray the side the of the cat box… and all of my bedroom furniture.

Too bad it’s too cold here – so that project will get postponed for a while. Especially since now we know that spraying that inside is just a headache waiting to happen!

But the place is coming together nicely. Just in time for me to move in a few months!

Cooking Challenge – Chicken Parmesan

Having this blog has been a blast – because when someone tries something that they really like – they then forward along the recipe.

I love that. So please keep it up!

This weeks adventure goes to my dad for passing along an easy chicken parmesan recipe from the beloved food network!

Ingredients:

Tomato sauce: (heads up – hypothetically – you COULD buy sauce and use that to save time – just sayin)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (reminder – this will make it spicy, cut it if you hate that)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Chicken:

  • Cooking spray 4 thin chicken cutlets (about 1 1/4 pounds total) (see how this says THIN?! lesson learned: if you have thick ones, you can cut them in half… otherwise it’ll take forever to cook your chicken!)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons dry Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Tomato Sauce: Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes (if it’s burning… TURN DOWN THE HEAT, I mean, you’d probably never do that… but just in case…). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the flavors are blended and the sauce begins to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the basil.

It's gross. And cool. All at the same time.

It’s gross. And cool. All at the same time.

Chicken: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle the cutlets with the salt (ps. if there’s gross fat on it, feel free to cut off the parts that look gross – that’s allowed). Lightly beat the egg whites in a medium bowl. Combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan on a sheet of waxed paper. Spread the flour on another sheet of waxed paper. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, dip both sides into the flour, shaking off excess. Dip each piece into the egg whites, shaking off excess, and then press both sides into the breading to coat.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (side note: I have ONE skillet. So after making the sauce, I put that on a back burner in a sauce pan, cleaned out my skillet and reused it for the chicken – add ‘extra skillet’ to the list of things I need…). Add the chicken (in batches, if necessary) and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes (per side… and this is important for two reasons 1) you want to make the breading a little crunchier and 2) otherwise you have to cook them in the oven for longer). Transfer the chicken, in 1 layer, to the baking dish. Spoon the sauce over the chicken then sprinkle with the cheese. Bake, covered loosely with a tent of foil, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 12 to 15 minutes.

You guys. It was delicious.

It's so pretty! And I MADE that!

It’s so pretty! And I MADE that!

While I was cooking the chicken, I took my sauce pan, cleaned it out (I know, I know, I need more pans) and cooked the pasta. And this – is what we ended up with! It took about an hour from start to finish – but it makes for the perfect winter evening meal. A whoever said that cooking was quick – lied. But if you’re enjoying it – it’s absolutely worth doing!

Especially when you get to brag about the meal to family and friends the next day!

Uncooked chicken breasts might be the most repulsive thing to work with – ever – but they are delicious and have so much potential! Stay tuned for more chicken recipes!

DIY – Making My Map!

I dream of being a DIY house blogger. Please tell me you’re all reading Young House Love. They are amazing. Incredible. I adore them.

My catch? I’m really not very DIY myself. I love the idea – but in the past I haven’t had the time or the patience to start a project and finish.

With the exception of my map.

Photography is maybe not my thing. Also I live in the bat cave. Just know, this is huge and looks awesome in real life!

Photography is maybe not my thing. Also I live in the bat cave. Just know, this is huge and looks awesome in real life!

My beautiful, incredible, amazing map. And honestly, I think the reason I ever finished is that I told the guy I liked that I was doing it – and he kept asking about it – and I HAD to finish it. You know, to show him I’m awesome. Looks like it worked out for me… even though now he knows me better than that. But that’s another story!

It began with the thought that I needed at least one piece of artwork in my house. As I had none. No judging. And I love those maps with pins in them that show you everywhere you’ve been. I love to travel. But here’s the thing. I didn’t want an ugly map. I wanted a cute map. With buttons. Surely I could buy one… right? And so the great map search of 2011 began… and failed. Until I stumbled across the amazing A Girl’s Eye View blog. Scroll down a bit – because this girl MADE HER OWN. With scrapbook paper of her choosing. It was adorable. And I wanted it. Enough to be crazy and try it myself.

And just think – making it myself would save me money – right?

Silly Betsy.

But I didn’t want a dinky little map. I wanted a MASSIVE map. So I started by purchasing a massive map – a children’s toy foam puzzle map. Thank you Amazon Prime. You’ve saved me once again. And I picked a variety of shades of red (I’m a red girl – I can’t help it – I blame the Huskers) in scrapbook paper. 7 different papers – and then looked at the map and strategically picked with state would be in which paper. To make sure it was nice and spread out and all meshed well together. And then I started tracing. Keeping in mind that this is a children’s puzzle – my state lines may not have ended up the best. And don’t always fit together when I attempted to free hand around the puzzle parts.

What I really really really want you to know is, as the blogger suggested, YOU SHOULD LABEL THE STATES ON THE BACK. Why? Because although you think you’re the bees knees and you have all of your states down… you’re not that smart. Jumble those suckers up and how do you know what’s Colorado and what’s Wyoming? Not to mention – that although when you look at a map – you might be able to name all of the states – having to actually piece them together is incredibly difficult. Trust me. Especially when they don’t really fit. Which – don’t let it get you down – it’s part of the overall beauty of the finished art!

Luckily my mom had an extra-large massive canvas lying around (lucky me) so I painted that sucker – and then being super crafty, I tacked some linen fabric onto it (stick with the paint – the fabric collects hair and that’s just gross). Then I laid out the states and started to modge podge over them.

Heads up. You’re going to want to hot glue the middle of the states down before modge podging, so they stay in place. Because nothing makes you want to cry quite like getting all of the states in place and then disrupting them all with a sticky paint brush. Nothing. Okay, the legs of the table going out in the process and dumping the whole thing on the ground is a bit depressing too. Maybe don’t use a folding table either.

The buttons. Oh how I adore the buttons!

The buttons. Oh how I adore the buttons!

After getting everything STUCK DOWN (it may take you a few attempts, don’t let it depress you) I took out a hot glue gun and a real map and started gluing buttons to the places I’ve been. I had some gold buttons, some wooden buttons, some red ones – all of different shapes and sizes. Half the fun is getting to go through your button pile and find the right one for each state!

This map has been an INCREDIBLE conversation piece. People love to look at the buttons of where you’ve been, talk about their own traveling adventures and it absolutely accomplished it’s purpose of having SOMETHING on my walls. What it didn’t do – was come super inexpensively. The amount of time, the cost of bags of buttons, scrapbook paper, modge podge, fabric, brushes, hot glue and a glue gun… probably would have been easier to buy something from Gordmans. But – then there wouldn’t be the pride nor would it be half the conversation piece it turned into being.

DIY Project for the win.

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Cooking Challenge – Sausage Stars

Pre-filling.

Pre-filling.

I have this amazing friend in Lincoln.

She’s cool. She’s trendy. She watches home reno shows with me… and she reads this blog. 🙂

What I’m telling you here – is this lady is super fly.

And this lady makes some MEAN Super Bowl Party food.

So this year, being 550 miles away from her, I asked her if I could steal her recipe from her for these incredible things called Sausage Stars.

And now I’m sharing with you.

Whoops. Hope it wasn’t a secret…

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound hot sausage (don’t get mild, you’ll regret it)
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 can small olives
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mayo (don’t use miracle whip – you will absolutely hate yourself later)
  • 2 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 package wontons

Brown sausage and drain.

Mix milk and mayo and mix. Then add the rest. (You may think that it’s not all going to stir in. It will!)

Brown wontons @ 350 for 6 minutes.

Fill with mixture and bake at 375 until bubbly (took approx ten minutes).

Well hello happiness.

Well hello happiness.

You guys. These are amazing. Perfect for a group.

And they are just delightfully snack like.

Oh – and they are SUPER easy.

I accidentally thought I could pull off miracle whip instead of mayo. But you know that tangy taste of miracle whip? Yup. You tasted that for sure.

And it was gross. So don’t do that!

But DO try these. And don’t spread the word too far that I shared this super top secret recipe.

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Happy Love Day

Even looking at these beauties makes my heart happy!

Even looking at these beauties makes my heart happy!

Valentine’s Day.

Singles Awareness Day.

Overpriced greeting card day.

Regardless whatever you call this holiday. Remember that the day is all about LOVE.

Loving your friends for being your constant strength in life.

Loving your family for your upbringing in life.

Loving your job for providing you with an income so that you may buy groceries, pay rent and those darn utility bills.

So regardless of your check box in the SINGLE, MARRIED, ETC list, make sure you spread love today. Send an email to a friend giving them a compliment and reminding them that you love them for everything they do in your life. Call your parents. Smile at strangers.

And heck, if you want those tulips (or that box of chocolates… or both… no judging here) and no one is sending them to you.

Buy them yourself.

Because you’re so worth it. 😉

40 Days of Lent

A giant thank you to my delightful friend Grace for sharing this with me. An alternative to giving something up for Lent… and instead… taking something on.

Lent – in reality – is all about preparing yourself for the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Typically it’s about fasting or giving up a luxury as a penitence. But I think we’ve gotten a little past that and more towards giving things up for your own reasons. I don’t want to eat chocolate because it’s all going straight to my waist – so that’s out for 40 days! Lent. The fast food diet.

No judging here. I’ve done my fair share of that – fast food, caffeine, no sweets, giving this or that up selfishly… but this year – I decided to make it actually more about preparing myself for the coming of Christ and less about my own selfish desires.

So I present to you – the 40 Days of Lent list. This is a great way to do one thing a day that actually gives something away (pride, money, earthly treasures) – but also will make for a great daily reminder of what Lent is actually about.

So if you’re looking for something to ‘give up’ still and you accidentally already had your morning dose of caffeine… might I suggest you give this a whirl?! And let me know if you do – we can encourage each other!

Happy Lent friends!

Day 1: Pray for your enemies.
Day 2: Walk, carpool, bike or bus it.
Day 3: Don’t turn on the car radio.
Day 4: Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing.
(Sunday)
Day 5: Take 5 minutes of silence at noon.
Day 6: Look out the window until you find something of beauty you had not noticed before.
Day 7: Give 5 items of clothing to Goodwill.
Day 8: No bitching day.
Day 9: Do someone else’s chore.
Day 10: Buy a few $5 fast food gift cards to give to homeless people you encounter.
(Sunday)
Day 11: Call an old friend.
Day 12: Pray the Paper (pray for people and situations in today’s news).
Day 13: Read Psalm 139.
Day 14: Pay a few sincere compliments.
Day 15: Bring your own mug.
Day 16: Write down a goal for your week, month or year. Put it on the fridge.
(Sunday)
Day 17: Forgive someone.
Day 18: Internet diet.
Day 19: Change one light in your house to a compact fluorescent.
Day 20: Check out morning and evening prayer at The Daily Office. http://dailyoffice.org/
Day 21: Ask for help.
Day 22: Tell someone what you are grateful for.
(Sunday)
Day 23: Introduce yourself to a neighbor.
Day 24: Read Psalm 121.
Day 25: Bake a cake.
Day 26: No shopping day.
Day 27: Check on an elderly member of your neighborhood.
Day 28: Light a candle.
(Sunday)
Day 29: Write a thank you note to your favorite teacher.
Day 30: Invest in canvas shopping bags.
Day 31: Check out the blog on givemore.com.
Day 32: Donate art supplies to your local elementary school.
Day 33: Read John 8:1-11.
Day 34: Worship at a friend’s mosque, synagogue or church and look for the beauty.
(Sunday)
Day 35: Confess a secret.
Day 36: No sugar day – where else is there sweetness in your life?
Day 37: Give $20 to a local non-profit.
Day 38: Educate yourself about a saint http://www.catholic.org/saints.
Day 39: Pray for peace.
Day 40: Pray for your enemies (you probably have new ones by now) then decide which of these exercises you’ll keep for good.

**Update: This originally came from redletterchristians. Always want to make sure the source gets proper shout outs!**

The Runza Adventure

What happens when you’re enough obsessed with a food item that you talk about it to your new friends for months on end without stopping?

Well – you might just convince them that hopping in the car after work one night and driving for two and a half hours to try this ‘incredible thing’ is the way to go.

Which is exactly what I did.

I kept reading and coveting all of the Facebook posts about the amazing Temperature Tuesday (buy a sandwich for the price – in cents – of the temperature at 6am) and I realized this was my in. I just threw it out there. And people agreed. Crazy friends. Man I like them.

So on Tuesday evening, we piled into the car and drove through Denver rush hour traffic (it’s terrible, it’ll make you want to cry, I don’t recommend it) for 2 1/2 hours to Loveland. Oh wonderful Loveland. Why are you so fantastic?

And that’s where this happened:

Hey Mikey - they like it - they really like it!

Hey Mikey – they like it – they really like it!

I was really unsure of how it would be received. But they loved it! The ranch! the cinnamon rolls! The fact that there was Dr. Pepper. All of it. It was all well received.

And on full stomachs and after lots of laughs and disturbing other patrons during the meal time… we climbed back in the car for the return drive.

Don’t worry, this trip only took 2 hours. And it may or may not have been a dance party. We pulled back into town about 11pm.

Oh the adventures of the young and fun.

The next day was a little rough on all of us. But the trip? Totally worth the drive. Plus, there was a huge takeaway:

See... I'm not crazy. Chili and Cinamon Rolls is a THING!

Boom.

I’m not crazy. Chili and cinnamon rolls is a THING.

Ah validation. So sweet.

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The Views

This state is seriously incredible.

I finally made it into a house more “in the mountains” than downtown. Here’s the backyard:

Whoa.

Whoa.

 

And if that isn’t amazing enough. Check out what was hanging out in the front yard.

Stop. The. Madness.

Stop. The. Madness.

There aren’t words.

Totally incredible.

If you’re trying to get closer to God? Move to the mountains. His beauty is everywhere. It’s crazy town!

 

 

 

 

Just Call Me Miss Colorado

ZOH!

ZOH!

You guys. It happened.

I officially live in Colorado.

It’s okay friends. Take a deep breath. I promise, I’ll come home again. Don’t worry about it.

But last week was CRAZY productive. This is the beauty of these monthly goals. You’ve only got some many days to get your stuff done. Here’s what I did:

  • Got my license
  • Went to Walgreens for a new passport photo (I mean, I’d already curled my hair)
  • Went to the post office to re-apply for my passport (I lost the last one – I don’t recommend doing that – it’s crazy expensive)
  • Sent a love day package while I was there
  • Got a VIN inspection (which, ps, is $15 worth of nothingness)
  • Got my Colorado plates
  • Mailed my NE plates back for a credit

Bam. Kick it. Wowzer.

That combined with the trip to the vet for K make for a rather expensive February. But, um, better to get it all done at once right? Rip the band aid off. Start the new year off right. And really, it’s just not possible to say no to this face.

I mean, come on, she's adorable.

I mean, come on, she’s adorable.

 

Now we’ve just got the eye appointment next week and the dentist the week after that and we’re kicking butt on those goals. High five self. Maybe I’ll try and get my taxes done too? Whoa, slow down there Bets. Let’s not get too ambitious…

I’m already brainstorming things to do in March. Man on man, is this going to be a 2013 or what? Especially now that I’m so officially Colorado. Thanks beautiful mountains. You apparently really inspire me!

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