• September 21, 2016

    Photo Fun

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    It’s fall, ya’ll!  If you know me, or if you’ve been reading this blog, then you know that I LOVE Fall!  In honor of the first day of fall being tomorrow, I decided to deck out my house with fall things and candles.  We also spent some quality time with the pup playing with the ball and walking the neighborhood to enjoy the beautiful, cooler weather!  I hope you enjoy my little start of fall photo diary!  *grin*

     

    dining-room

     

    pretty

    aaaand some close ups!

     

    owl

     

    pantry

     

    pumpkin-muffin-mix

    These muffins are really yummy!

     

    pumpkin-muffin

    mmm… look how yummy!

     

    roses

     

    fireplace

     

    jack

     

    ball

    Happy boy!

     

    walkies-for-ollie

     

  • September 14, 2016

    Tabbouleh Inspired Quinoa Salad

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    Now that summer is winding down and fall is nearly upon us, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with this simple, hearty meal.  Using tons of veggies right out of the garden with a little quiona and feta… this has to be one of the best things I’ve come up with so far!  And the great thing is, you can use this alone for a lunch or light dinner or you can serve it alongside a nice steak or pork chop!  It’s easy, versatile, and super healthy… what more could you want?  *grin*  I hope you love it as much as I do!

    Tabbouleh Inspired Quinoa Salad Recipe

    By Erin Published: September 14, 2016

      Now that summer is winding down and fall is nearly upon us, I've gotten a little obsessed with this simple, hearty meal.  Using tons …

      Ingredients

      Instructions

      1. suppliesGather Ingredients.
      2. Cook the quinoa (Rinse 1 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then put in pot with 2 cups water (or 2 cups broth if you prefer) and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. When done, remove from heat at let stand 5 minutes.)
      3. Cook the edamame according to the packaging and cut the other veggies.
      4. When the quinoa is done, add the edamame, chickpeas, tomatoes, green onion, parsley, mint and feta to the pot. Toss to combine.
      5. 4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour into the bowl with the quinoa and toss until combined. Season with additional salt to taste if desired.
        yum
    • September 7, 2016

      Hair Cut for a Cause

      Pony-Tail

      This may  not seem like a very big deal, and really it’s not, but I got my hair cut over the weekend.  What makes this worth writing about is what happened afterwards!

      You see, I’ve been growing my hair out for about 4 years and finally decided it was time to say goodbye to the heavy curtain that pulled me down and made me look a little bit depressed and far too young.  It’s strange, but it took all summer for me to finally feel ready to part with it even though it really didn’t do anything for me.

      Back

      Anyway, the important part is the after part!  Now that I have a ponytail that’s not attached to my noggin, I’ll be mailing it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program to be made into a wig for a woman who has lost her own hair from cancer treatments.  I haven’t known anyone while they were going through chemo, but cancer has touched my grandmother, dad, friends, and co-workers in various ways and to various degrees.  I can only imagine what it’s like to involuntarily surrender ones hair to the treatment and how alienating that must feel sometimes.  I think about the people in my life and the stories I read online or in magazines of courage and strength and I think about how hard it must be to have to be strong.  To have to put one foot in front of the other, no matter how uncertain the path.  And then I think, if something so small to me could make life a little more “normal” or a tiny bit more bearable for someone, then I should give it freely and openly.

      Side-View

      And so I do.  I chopped it all off with the hope that my heavy burden might help another feel lighter and free to be herself again.  I share this, not for recognition or praise, but to encourage you to do the same if you are able.  Give what you can to make this world a little happier, a little less dark, and little more free.  Sow seeds of love and peace – our world needs all the good we have to give.

    • August 31, 2016

      August Round Up

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      Ok, friends, I am going to try something new!  I’ve been thinking lately that there are often things each month that I’d love to share with ya’ll, but that defiantly don’t warrant an entire post to themselves, you know?  So, at the end of each month I will pull together a little round up of experiences I had during that month to share with you!  Hopefully I have enough interesting things each month to keep this going… ha!

       

      Books

      August was a super busy reading month!  I recently starting going to a book club at the local co-op (we read food and cooking themes) and the book for this month was As Always, Julia.  I really struggled through this book and couldn’t actually finish it – Julia Child seemed like a marvelous woman, but her friend Avis drove me up the wall!  She seemed so superficial and uppity – I couldn’t handle it.  *sigh*  Have no fear, though, I filled the rest of my time with some really fun YA: Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children and A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.  They were both pretty quick reads, but very entertaining.  I’m really looking forward to the move and Netflix series (respectively) which is really what gave me the final kick in the pants to read these books.  *grin*  The last book in August is Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking which is the book club book for September – so far so good!

       

      Stranger-Things

      When I wasn’t reading in August, I was watching Stranger Things on Netflix.  There has been lots and lots of praise for this all across the internet and for good reason – Stranger Things hit me right in the nostalgia feel-goods and I LOVE IT.  I totally relate to those little boys – opening with D&D in the basement… you guys… that was me!  So,  why isn’t there more?  Why?!  Whyyyy?!?!  *Sigh*  I can’t wait until the next season comes out and I can’t encourage you enough to watch it if you haven’t!

       

      Kubo

      The only movie we went out to see this month was Kubo & the Two Strings and it was AMAZING!  Wow.  I mean, the style was so beautiful and matched the feel of story perfectly.  I have a soft spot in my heart for stop-animation anyway, but this film really was beautiful.  I don’t want to give the story away, so please just promise me you will go see it!

      I’ve also spent some time (probably more than I should have… but we won’t talk about that) dining around on YouTube.  I’ve been watching Carrie Hope Fletcher’s channel (It’s Way Past My Bedtime) for a while now, but her recent video, The Little Things, really struck a chord with me.  I love what she has to say and think more of us need to hear her message.  Please take a minute to think about her video.

      I’ve also discovered a new favorite in Peter Hollens and really love his music!  So many beautiful renditions of songs I really love, and everything is done acapella!  It’s really pretty amazing what he can do!  Enjoy:

      Some other sort of miscellaneous things I enjoyed this month were: the Plant Nanny app to help me track my water intake, Iced Chai because it’s still freaking hot, my first Escape Room experience, and our local Library Comic Con which was small, but really well done!

      Whew, what a busy month!  It’s been a crazy end to the summer, but it’s been a good one!  There’s good things on the way and I am so excited to share with you everything this fall has in store!

    • August 24, 2016

      Top 5 Bath & Beauty Products

      Life seems to be getting away from me lately.  Between summer activities, house projects, washer/dryer threatening to go out on me, and some really tough cases at work… I haven’t had much time for self care, let alone any writing or picture taking!  It’s been so sad for me too, because I’ve really been wanting to share this one with you!  *grin*

      Here are my top 5 favorite bath and beauty products:

      Natures Gate Shampoo/Conditioner

      Natures-Gate

      I really love the way the herbal ones smell!  Ugh, it’s SO good!  And it leaves my hair shiny and healthy without the use of gluten, animal product, parabens, GMOs, Soy, etc!  They are cruelty free and eco-friendly too!  It’s amazing to have a product that is ethical, safe, and works really well too!

      Physician’s Formula Mascara

       

      Physicians-Formula

      I have always struggled with mascara – it usually makes my eyes teary and crusty and yucky if I wear it too long.  Recently, a friend of mine mentioned that there might be gluten in the one I was using – who would have thought?!  Turns out, it’s really common and it’s actually really hard to find on that is gluten free!  No wonder I had issues before!  This Physician’s Formula mascara is easy to apply and doesn’t hurt my eyes even if I wear it every day!  Not all of their mascara’s are gluten free, but they label them very clearly on the packaging so it’s easy to find safe ones.  This particular one is not waterproof and I have found it smudges if you aren’t careful, but it’s a trade-off I am willing to make!

      The Body Shop Hand Creams

      The-Body-Shop

      A work friend gave me the strawberry hand cream for Christmas last year and I fell in love!  It is so smooth and absorbs very quickly which is a must for me in a hand cream.  They come in great little travel size tubes so I always have one in my bag and use it constantly!  The price may seem a little bit much for a tiny tube, but you really don’t need much when you apply it so it lasts a long time.  Also, The Body Shop has pretty frequent sales, so if you watch the website and buy a bunch when they are on sale, you can get a really great deal!  I think the last time I bought these, they were 3 for $10 (and when one tube usually costs $8… that’s pretty amazing!).

      Lush Bath Bomb

      Lush

      A beauty love list wouldn’t be complete without Lush Bath Bombs!  I don’t do baths too often, but when I really want to spoil myself, I love these products!  My favorite so far is Butterball.  The natural and safe ingredients leave my skin so soft and lightly scented.  It’s truly relaxing and peaceful while also being really good for my skin and they are ethically sourced too!  Ahhhhh-mazing!

      Lancome Juicy Shaker

      Lancome

      And for my grand finale, and truly indulgent beauty product: Lancome’s Juicy Shaker!  I struggle with lip colors and never feel like they last or look right and they always leave me feeling sticky and icky, but not so with this!  It is a little bit sticky at first, but leaves lips soft and comfortable after a bit.  The color is so nice too – I got the red colored vanilla pop and was a little afraid of it being too dark on my pale Irish skin, but it’s totally not!  Plus, it smells so good!  *grin*  The only downside (and why I only have one) is that they cost a whopping $21!  Ouch!  But, it’s good to spoil yourself once in a while, right?

      I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey into my bath and beauty loves!  I’d love if you would share with me in the comments what products you love and what makes them so wonderful!

    • August 3, 2016

      Photo Session

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      If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I got a shiny new toy for my birthday:

      Camera

      It’s a Nikon Coolpix B500.  I’m still learning my way around it, but so far I’ve been very pleased.  It’s not a DSLR, so there are some limitations as far as zooming and focusing and the manual aspect that higher end cameras offer.  That said, I think this is about as close as any point and click camera can get to a DSLR – the zoom is amazing and the images are crisp and clear!

      The reason I asked for this camera is because the DSLR we have is wonderful, but also big, expensive, and hard to take on camping, hiking, and vacations.  I needed something  better than my phone camera but less intense then the Canon Rebel!

      The first day I had the camera, we went to a winery and I snapped a few pictures of the grounds.  Totally forgot to take any of the actual wine tasting… I guess I’ll have to go back and try again!  *grin*

      Vineyard

      Grapes

      One day these will be delicious wine… and I will be back for them!

       

      Wine

      Then, last weekend, we went camping.  The spot we had wasn’t super great for pictures – truly lacking in flowers, moss, or any color really.  I did manage to get some nice shots of the lake, though, and the wildlife as well!  

      Tent

      Heron

      That zoom! O.o

       

      Fly-Away

      I hope you will enjoy watching me learn my way around this camera and getting a glimpse into my world as I go.  It’s been a lot of fun for me so far!

    • July 27, 2016

      30 Before 30

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      A friend of mine has had some health issues recently and we were talking about how everything kind of went to hell when she turned thirty.  That got me to really thinking about those 30 before 30 lists and how maybe enough people know that everything craps out on you after you turn 30… so I figure I better get my crap together this year and do some amazing things!

      1. Go for a wine tasting at a vineyard
      2. Sit on a beach
      3. Run another 5k
      4. Take a class
      5. Have family photographs taken
      6. See a ballet
      7. Learn to make pizza from scratch
      8. Eat vegetarian meals 2x week
      9. Make an incredible cosplay costume
      10. Find the perfect little black dress
      11. Play a video game all the way through with my husband
      12. Learn calligraphy
      13. Take better care of my skin and hair
      14. Research family history
      15. Have a homemade Christmas
      16. Buy myself a beautiful piece of jewelry
      17. Cover my home and office with art
      18. Clean my home with all homemade cleaners
      19. Fully embrace my inner nerd
      20. Do something that scares me
      21. Put up fantastic Halloween decorations
      22. Stop letting fear run my life: Be assertive when appropriate, Stop waiting for someone else to approve or tell me it’s ok to do what I want, Open up to people – maybe make a friend
      23. Complete a 30 day photo challenge
      24. Make something that makes my heart happy
      25. Learn about meditation and give it a try
      26. Learn how to make cheesecake
      27. Go to a theme park
      28. Take a girls only trip
      29. Read 30 books in the year
      30. Start an Etsy shop

      Some of these things are silly, some serious, and some are pretty freaking ambitious.  I hope to accomplish all of these things in the next 365 days, but at the very least have a plan in place to move forward!

      Wish me luck!  *grin*

    • July 20, 2016

      Throwback Thursday on a Wednesday Birthday Edition

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      Guess who has a birthday coming up???

      It’s me!

      *grin*

      I decided to go way, way back for this TBT all the way to 1988 when I turned 1!  It was such fun looking at the pictures of my first party – what little brat I was!  Look at that reaction to the yellow dress!

      Gifts

      So ungrateful.  But that expression!  It’s like, what the hell, Mom.  I told you I don’t look good in yellow!

      But then there’s this delightful cake picture!

      Cake

      That’s still how I eat cake.

      Don’t judge me.

      Anyway, I hope you had fun seeing a little history of mine!  It’s remarkable how the world has changed since that day.

    • July 6, 2016

      Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

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      I’m an emotional eater.  I always like desserts, but I especially crave sugars when I’m sad or stressed.  I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream lately, partly because it’s been rough going for a while and partly because my recipe is delicious.  I’m experimenting with new and different flavors, but if you want the tried and true, all-American vanilla, here is my favorite recipe:

      Supplies

      1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream

      1 pint Half and Half

      1 cup Sugar

      1 Tablespoon Vanilla

      Toss it all in your ice cream maker, following the instructions for your device, and wait.  My ice cream maker requires that I combine the ingredients and chill in the freezer before starting.  Once it’s chilled, I can transfer it to the ice cream maker bowl and turn it on.  After it’s done, I pour the ice cream into a new storage container and then freeze it for a while to set.  Yours may be different, but it’s pretty easy-peasy!

      Pour

      If you want to add pieces of fruit or chocolate chips or whatever, you can do that when you transfer it into the storage container – just make sure to stir it up well enough that you don’t end up with everything on top or bottom.  I think you can also add it while the machine is stirring, but double check what your machine requires.

      Yummy

    • June 29, 2016

      Hello Again

      Final-Feature-Image

      Hello, it’s me.  Hello, can you hear me?  Hello from the other side; from the outside.

      How are you?

      It’s been a while.  What I thought would be a short break from everything turned into a much longer break.  I’m not apologizing for that, just acknowledging the facts.  Pressures from work and travel combined with feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and despair made it impossible for me to write over this past month.  Sometimes life is too much.  Sometimes I need to hide and cry and grieve and try to accept my pathetic little life.  And that takes time.

      Now, I’m trying to come back.  I’m trying to write and take pictures and be happy again.  Because I can’t stay in that lonely place forever.  I can’t allow myself to think that nobody cares about me forever.  At some point I have to acknowledge that there are some who do.  There really are some good and beautiful things in the world.

      I’m still not in a place of feeling good or happy or fulfilled.  I probably never will be in that place.  Not for long, anyway.  The world isn’t often a good or happy place and it’s impossible not to focus on that sometimes; especially with so much hate and loss over the past few weeks.  I’m trying, though, to find meaning in what I have in my little corner of this world.

      I’m trying to do what I love because I love it.  This little blog is for me, not readers – nobody reads this anyway – so it has to be for me.  Sometimes I forget that, though, and get down that I’m not successful with my writing, that I’m too afraid to advertise it or tell people about it.  I start feeling pathetic and sure that there’s no point, even if it sometimes makes me happy.

      So, if you’re reading this, thank you.  I hope this little moment of honesty doesn’t put you off.  Or make you sad too.  I hope you can look and what I’ve done before and hope with me that I’ll get back to it again.  That it’s not all pointless.  I hope you have love and peace in your life and are able to do something to share that love and peace with someone else today.  I hope you take the time to lift someone up today because you never, never know what people are going through in their heart of hearts.  You never know where people are in their journey, so I hope you respond to all you meet with patience and grace.