Saturday, August 30, 2008

Need vs. Want

It is really easy for me to push my wants aside in the best interests of my husband and kids.  If I want a new shirt or jewelry, I can easily say no to that temptation, especially when the budget is tight or when formula and diapers are on the grocery list (which both have been for about 3.5 years straight, over half our marriage!).  So, I don't buy the wants very often.  The needs, well of course I buy those!  But here's what I am constantly learning... the difference between a need and a want.


There have been many times where I have felt like I desperately-absolutely-definitely NEED something that I don't actually need at all.  I remember when my husband and I started to register for our wedding.  After a day with that registry gun, I was convinced that if we didn't get a wooden salad bowl with matching individual bowls, that I would have to go back to the store and buy them.  Obviously this was an important thing for every married person to have.  As you can see, I was confused.  (I did receive those bowls as a gift, and I love them.  But I didn't need them.)  

The same thing happened when we were registering at Babies-R-Us before our first was born.  Boy do they make you feel like you need to spend at least $1000  on gizmos and gadgets before the baby even comes out!  Again my needs and wants were confused.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night in a panic that we had registered for the wrong type of stroller!  Yikes, I was a mess.  

Thankfully I am done registering for gifts.  That task makes me feel like I don't have nearly enough stuff to survive in America.   But even without registering, I still feel that confusion sometimes.  A few weeks ago, I realized that we really needed a place to put our shoes when we come in the house from the back door.  This was truly a need, as our wood floor was being ruined.  But where I got confused was how to fill this need.  I started looking on Craigslist and at Ikea for cool shoe racks with a bench and baskets and all kinds of neat gizmos.  I looked and searched for weeks (yes, it takes me a long time to purchase something that costs more than $20) and finally realized that I was being silly.  I looked around the house, found this cute basket (that holds blankets in the winter but was empty for the summer), put it by the back door!!  It works perfect and it was free. 

Deciphering between our needs and wants can help us to find a lot of contentment.  When I think that I need something, I really have to step back and figure out WHY I feel like I need it.  God provides for our needs, and sometime we just have to look at things a little differently to see just how He is providing.   

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recipe worth trying

Check out my blog for an amazing recipe. PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps. YUM!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Summer's end

I have been feeling a little bit blue about the fact that summer is coming to an end here in the Pacific Northwest.  I love the summer here, the few hot days, the occasional rain, and of course the perfect 76 degree day of NW bliss.  I love to garden, take the kids outside, go for walks with strollers, and jogs with my ipod.  I love the vacations, the lack of schedule, warm evenings at sunset.  You get the picture, I love summer.  


Rain in August?  Cold days ruining my lovely tomatoes?  Sigh.

So, here is my attempt at looking forward to the fall and winter.  I really do like each season, but this one is my favorite, and it is always hardest to see it go.  Again, sigh.   Anyways, I wanted to list a few things I am looking forward to, please add to the list if you would be so kind :)

1.  My baby's first birthday
2.  Thanksgiving
3.  Cozy fires, cozy living rooms, warm coffee
4.  Schedule (yes, I like it both ways)

Okay, please add to my list!  Thanks :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here you go Shellee!

Shellee has challenged me to decorate two areas in her home through pictures only so here are some thoughts...See her blog for the pictures and challenge.

This is tricky because 1. I have never been to your house to see what the rest of the rooms are like which is really how I love to decorate, I try to integrate every room. and 2. I don't know what kind of decor you have in your home that could possibly go in these spots you are asking about. But regardless of these things, I will give you my ideas and you can go with it:) That's why it's a challenge right??!

Okay. For the fireplace..here are my thoughts.

1. You could stick with pictures, but I would do a darker wood frame or black frames. I think the contrast to the white fireplace would make the frames and pictures stand out more. I would probably frame abstract black and white pictures. (have your niece take some of Renee)

(this is what I mean by abstract..that wasn't the best word to describe what I meant! I just love close up shots of kids! These are hanging in my living room..my sister in law took them)

2. I think it would be really cool to put some crown molding under the cubbies to look like shelves. Make sense? I don't know if you can hang anything on it, because I don't know what it's made of (if Adam can rip out that tree stump, he could probably figure something out) but if you could, I think that could look cool. It would give the illusion of a shelf! You could even hang an actual shelf that just wasn't very deep. Make sense? click here for more info. (don't decorate your shelves the way they show you to in the last picture...not good:)

3. I would stick with black or dark frames all around the fireplace. The pic of Renee is adorable, if you framed it in a darker frame and then got a couple more, I would arrange them on either end of the harth in the widest part.

(Sorry, this is really hard to describe in writing)

4. I really like the screens, those look very nice!

Okay, so the bookcase. This is challenging because again, I'm not seeing it in person but here's what I would do.

(It's a nice bookcase by the way) I would keep it simple. I think bookcases can look cluttered very easily. I would pick only a few colors as far as the accessories go and stick with that. I would get together a few frames, a couple candles or vases and some small potted flowers or plants. (fake or real) I would arrange a few of the shelves with these things in a very simple way. Don't arrange these things in a straight row across the shelves. Put a frame and candle in a corner and then a potted plant in the other corner..do you know what I mean? Be creative with it. I would save one or two shelves (depending on how many books you have) and arrange some books on them. Again, not putting them in a straight row. You can divide books by size, color, style, etc. or you can just put them in randomly. I like to line up about 5-8 books (depending on size) vertically, then about 8 books horizontally stacked next to the vertical books. On the other end of that you can put a frame or plant.

As far as the top of the bookcase goes, I would keep the decor to a minimum, I would only put a few things on top. Here are some pics of the tops of some of my furniture. Hopefully they will give you an idea of what I mean.

1.bookcase 2. TV armoire 3. end tableNow, if you like any of my ideas, (remember these are just suggestions..I won't be offended if you don't like them!!) and you decide to change anything, post pictures so I can see! Good Luck, let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for the challenge Shellee!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chicken Fingers with Honey Sauce

I tried a new "chicken maggot" (as my 3-year old calls them) recipe tonight and it was a hit!  It comes from a healthy cookbook that I love.  Anyways, here is the recipe:


12 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 beaten egg whites
1 Tablespoon honey
2 cups corn flakes, crushed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1.  Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels.  Cut chicken into 3/4 inch wide, 3 inch long strips.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and the 1 tablespoon honey.  In a shallow bowl, combine the corn flake crumbs and pepper.  Dip chicken strips into the egg white mixture.  Roll in the crumb mixture to coat.  Place in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake chicken in a 450 degree oven for 11-13 minutes or till no long pink.
2.  For sauce - in a small bowl stir together the 1/4 cup honey, mustard and garlic powder.  (I also added about 1/2 teaspoon poppy-seeds!)  Serve with chicken.

While eating this meal, my daughter said that I was "the bestest cooker at chicken maggots".  Sweet huh.  


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Decorating? What's that?

After taking that survey on here a while back and seeing that many of you wanted to see more posts on decorating, I went blank. It's like all of my ideas, tips and creative juices were erased from my brain. I think the pressure is too much. Smile. I was never a test taker, the pressure of trying to remember information was always too much and I buckled under pressure.

So, I am working on an interesting and informative decorating post. Stay tuned but don't hold your breath:)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Staying married vs. A Great marriage

I want to do more than simply "stay married".  My husband and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary in March and I was really proud, that we are still married after five years, AND that we have so far experienced (and worked hard to achieve) a great marriage.  And this is because of the grace of God.


I was thinking today about some of the daily choices I make that determine whether I simply stay married or actually have a great marriage.  I can feel the pull during conflict - the urge to pull away and say "whatever" and pretend things are fine.  But then (thankfully) the other nagging pull comes, the one that sounds much like the Holy Spirit.  I feel Him urging me to do more than avoid conflict but to instead work through it to the other side.  And with obedience to do what is right according to the Lord, marriages go from fine to amazing.

I don't always do my part to make our marriage great, but that is what I want to strive for.  I want more than to simply stay married, I want a great marriage.  And the choices I make daily affect how our marriage will be in the long run.

So, if I were to give a newlywed couple advice according to I have learned in my five years of marriage, I would say this - 
When you feel the urge for to distance yourself from your spouse, resist that urge, pray, and fight for unity and greatness.  

What have you learned and what advice would you give?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Black Bean Salad

I realize summer is almost over:( but I wanted to post a really good summer salad (could be made anytime of the year) I just made for the first time the other night that I really enjoyed! It was great as a salad or as salsa with tortilla chips. Next time I make it I am going to try it in pita bread or flour tortillas with sour cream. yum. It was fresh, flavorful, light but hearty at the same time! (if that's possible!!)

Black Bean Salad
serves 12

2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
8 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I didn't have one and it still had plenty of flavor)
1 red bell pepper, chopped (you could do green or orange as well)
1 can diced tomatoes (or fresh)
1 lime, juiced
1/2 c Italian dressing
1/2 t garlic salt

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Chill well before serving.

(The nice thing about this dish is that you really can't mess it up. You can add whatever you want to it. Change it to fit your own tastes! It's great! Enjoy!)

Contest Winner!

I decided to draw the name out of a hat, and so the winner is...

Amy's Gorgonzola Chicken 
 
Congratulations Amy!  
Expect to see some yummy Starbucks coffee in your mailbox.
(Email me your address at megnichole1@yahoo.com, and let me know if you have a preference - bold, extra bold, decaf, etc) 
Thanks everyone for joining us and sharing your recipes and fun pictures! 
Maybe we will do another contest sometime soon.  I really loved the new recipes, I hope others are able to enjoy them too! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Winter garden research

I did some research, and this site was particularly helpful.  Here are the things I learned that seem to be the most important to know:

1.  Have good drainage - Raised beds are great, or a garden that isn't at the bottom of a hill.

2.  Know when the First frost will be - I don't totally understand the math of first frost, but this site will tell you when the first estimated frost will be in your area.  Then check your seed packet.  For instance, my lettuce says that I can plant up to two weeks before the first frost.

3.  Protect against slugs, especially when the rain begins.  Deadline is great but it can be harmful to pets.  Sluggo is the safer alternative.  Slugs will eat your small stuff over night.

4.  Veggies to plant - Good crops for fall and winter gardens include salad greens, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, leeks, beets, turnips, scallions, parsley, cilantro, spinach, and parsnips. You can plant these vegetables in mid- to late summer after you harvest spring crops and space is available.

5.  Take special care of your new seeds and seedlings.  They need tender care the first week or two.  Sprinkle them with water once (or sometimes twice) a day at first. 

Hopefully this is helpful to those who are like me and trying this for the first time.  If you are out there and have some wisdom to share with us newbies, please do!  

Winter gardening

I weeded my garden today to try and make room for all the other stuff I hope to plant soon.  My technique of scrambling the weeds out when they are small would have worked if I would have actually done it consistently!  I wasn't as consistent as I wanted to be so I had some 3 foot tall weeds taking over the beans.  

I am getting ready to plant a winter crop, something that I have never done before. Does anyone have any suggestions for the best things to plant this time of year? 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Refusing to bloom"

This was a post my sister did recently on her blog and she said I could post it here.  I know that many of us will be able to relate!  Thanks for sharing Jenne, I appreciate your honesty.  I have been there. 


It is titled, Refuse to Bloom.

I mentioned earlier this week that my sister and her friend started up a cool new blog. It is called "Choose to Bloom" and it is all about encouraging others to bloom where they are planted: to take the circumstances you find yourself in and not just make the best of them, but find joy in them. Glorify God where He has placed you, and be thankful for the placement.

I was joking with her the other day that I had a "REFUSE to Bloom" day. And oh boy, did I ever. I won't go into detail, but it is sufficient to say that I was angry at my husband and it had been building for a solid three weeks. But, you know, I am pregnant so I was having a VERY difficult time discerning what the underlying cause of my anger really was, and if that anger was even defensible.

So in a fit of rage, I stormed out of the house (again) determined to discern. I really wanted things to get back to normal between the two of us so I wanted resolution and I did not want to argue about superfluous things. Its too easy to tangent into arguments that have nothing to do with the real issue - incidents from which you have built up ammunition. We end up fighting about things that don't REALLY matter and never really getting to the bottom line. Result: everyone is super mad, and nothing gets fixed.

And so I tried to make sure I knew what the main point of contention was. And one other thing I have learned in marriage: if I don't know what MY problem is, what MY unmet needs are, how can I expect Ryan to have a fighting chance to meet them?! Yes, knowing why I am mad is only half the puzzle. The other half is my ability to articulate to him WHAT HE CAN DO SPECIFICALLY TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM. My husband is a problem-solver, so if he does not have this critical puzzle piece, he gets pretty frustrated with me.

One thing that Megan said to me a long time ago about marriage is that it would be really nice if our husbands could read our minds, but they can't so don't act like they can. TELL HIM what you need. Don't hint around and then get mad when he doesn't get it. That's just not fair. She was not necessarily giving me marriage advice at the time, but it is something that really stuck with me and I have often times looked at marriage conflict through that lens: have I told him what I really need from him? And often times the honest answer I give back to myself is, "I don't even know what I need!" And so out the door I go, searching for discernment so that I know what to ask for that would really make a difference BEFORE I engage in a conflict.

So, it started out with my refusal to bloom - I was angry and was kind of enjoying the pity party I was throwing. I was really enjoying feeling sorry for myself. And even more so, I was revelling in the list of strikes I was building against my Ryan. Of course if you were to ask me, I would have said I was miserable. But really, I liked the misery. But I was not blooming.

Am I blooming now, after the conflict was dealt with and resolved? I think I am well on my way.



Friday, August 8, 2008

Countdown

There is one week left to enter the recipe contest!  You will see links in the right margin to those who have already entered.  These recipes sound so great, thanks for entering and sharing your recipes with us.  For more info about the contest, click here.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Zucchini

Zucchinis are delicious in so many different ways.  If anyone out there is growing zucchinis this year, you may be with me in having an abundance of the veggie right now!  So, here are a few ways to use it and save it.


Sauteed Zucchini
Melt 1tbs. butter in a pan.  Slice zucchinis and saute in the butter until tender-crisp.  Add a little salt and pepper while cooking.  Yum!

Battered Zucchini
1 Cup flour
1/2 teas. salt
1 teas. baking powder
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. zucchini
olive oil for frying (I use as little as possible)

Mix the dry ingredients.  Combine in wet ingredients, beat until smooth.  Slice the zucchinis into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and pat them dry.  Heat the oil, medium high heat, batter and fry.  Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

Zucchini Bread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 beaten egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)

1.  Grease loaf (8x4x2) pan.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside
3.  In another medium bowl, combine egg, sugar, zucchini, and oil.  Add zucchini mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).  Fold in nuts.  Pour into prepared pan.
4.  Bake at 350F for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Freezing Zucchini
I am trying this for the first time this year.  I found this site and this site helpful.  I shredded and froze, sliced and froze, sliced and blanched and froze.  Next year I will know what works best so that I can stick to one or two methods.  

Oh, and of course share your zucchini with friends and family! 

Anyone else have good tips, recipes, or ideas to share?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bad day

Does anyone else ever have a day where things pile on top of each other and all of a sudden feel too heavy to bare?  I am having one of those days.  The straw that broke this camel's back wasn't necessarily a heavy one, it just was the last one I could handle before breaking.  But, His mercies are new every day :)