"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kitchen Gadgets I NEED

Sometimes when I'm cooking (which is often) I realize that if I had X, Y or Z my life would be a lot easier and preparing meals would go a lot more quickly. So here is a list of gadgets I'm on the lookout for, aka "a list of things I should have registered for when we got married."

Immersion Blender
My friend Katie has one of these things and loves it. And I never knew what it was till her blog post about losing it in the move and needing a new one, etc. Now it seems like something that would just be so useful! The nifty thing about these guys is that they allow you to blend (and chop, which hand mixers do not) right in the container food is being prepared in. You don't have to put things in a specific container to chop or mix. You can put it right in a pan on the stove! 

Here's a link to KitchenAid's version. It's of course fancy. 

Food Mill
So far, the only time I've wanted one of these is when making applesauce. And I'm not sure what else you really would use it for. It separates seeds, stems, skins, larger chunks etc. All the bits that you don't want from a food product that you're taking from whole to pureed or mashed. I suppose once I have a gas stove again and am able to start canning I'll be using this to make tomato sauce (not pasta sauce, the base for pasta sauce) and tomato paste, etc. 

A pretty version from Williams-Sonoma.

Now that we're eating healthier this seems like something that would be handy to have around. I don't know if I would really start drinking glasses of pureed vegetables. But one of my favorite things about our honeymoon in Mexico was the watermelon water. It was SO GOOD. And I'm fairly confident I could make it with this! Or at least juice some limes to make tasty margaritas. I suppose that's reason enough in itself! 


So, what fancy things do you know of that I need to add to my list? 

P.S. Up tomorrow-- a recap of my amazing weekend in Indy!!! So relaxing. Wonderful time. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Reason #48294578 Why Crossroads Rules

So I get quite a large package in the mail yesterday from our church. Very strange. You can't order anything from the church. And we've never gotten anything before. Brian didn't say he was expecting anything. I never get anything from the nursery team except the occasional awesome and uplifting card. I open the package, and this is what's inside: 

The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World.

A $25 hardback book about beer and God. And this card: 

Definitely click to make it bigger--this is a must read.

Are you for real!?!? Never in a million years would I expect to see this in my mailbox with that card attached. If you've never experienced a place that loves God and does things like this because they feel like it, let us borrow your Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning and introduce you to Crossroads (we'll buy whatever appropriate meal should follow the service :). This place is incredible and honestly, what's the worst it could do to you? Change the course of your life forever? 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Superhero Granny

Someone posted this on Facebook today and it pretty much made my afternoon. 

Amazing. I recommend enlarging this.

My Modern Met blog explains the back story on this photo shoot: 

A few years ago, French photographer Sacha Goldberger found his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer her up, he suggested that they shoot a series of outrageous photographs in unusual costumes, poses, and locations. Grandma reluctantly agreed, but once they got rolling, she couldn't stop smiling.

So basically this photo shoot and the realization that her life story (which you can read more of on the blog) was inspiring to others and had a purpose knocked her out of her mental funk. Here's another:

This one made me literally laugh out loud.

And then I got to this one and realized--THIS IS MY GRANDMA!!! 

Not LITERALLY my grandma.
LITERALLY my grandma. 

I hope she doesn't kill me for putting this on the internet. This was taken a few years ago on our "Mothers and Daughters Gone Wild" trip to Amish Country in PA. (Read more of the backstory and about the ladies in the family here.) And this is why I think my grandma would totally do a photo shoot like a superhero. :) 

Love this one too.
I love these pictures because of how happy Granny is. And trust me, we were all laughing this hard. And it really did turn into Granny's little photo shoot because after we realized what she was doing everyone grabbed the cameras. (And for the record, my instructions to Granny to get a photo of just her were "Pose, Granny!" She did this all on her own!)

My grandma cracks me up. She says pretty much whatever she wants whenever she feels like it. And every once in awhile she'll throw out a zinger that makes us howl with laughter till we're crying. And, to hopefully make up for posting these, here's my favorite photo with Granny to date, from our wedding.

P.S. My Modern Metropolis did a follow up post on another photo shoot the photographer did with his grandma after the popularity of the Superhero one! It's definitely more melancholy and reflective in tone. But still beautiful photos and a beautiful grandma.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our Office: Worthy of a Magazine

While Brian was still on tour I started a massive undertaking of cleaning the house pretty much top to bottom. The final room was the office. It hasn't been cleaned top to bottom in recent memory. Pretty gross. We used to spend a lot of time in there when I was making cards and the weather was bad. And then it became a disaster. 

The interesting thing about the office is that it is also our closet. We live in an old house and it has those little bitty "closets" that aren't good for anything but shoes (and a litterbox in our case). [Also, if anyone else likes history, here's why there's no closets in old houses: people used to be taxed on how many rooms they had/size of the rooms, etc. Closets counted!! That's why they had so many dressers [with locks] to store all their things in instead. Brilliant.] We went to IKEA and had a LOT of fun. And then during my cleaning spree I went to IKEA again and had even more fun. :) 

So I'll show you the closet portion of it for now, perhaps the desk parts later. (I'm tired and cranky and it's time for bed!!!)

Yay organization!!!!!
There are places for my shoes, odds and ends of office stuff, magazines, tshirts, winter clothes, sweaters, etc. And one of the huge boxes on the top right is even completely EMPTY! 

This thing is floor to ceiling. We're not messing around.
If clothes are going to be out they have to be in proper rainbow order!!
New shoe cubbies for my most favorite work shoes so I can get ready all in one place!
One of the best parts about this project: busting out the label maker. Love that thing.
There you have it. It still looks exactly like this and I plan to keep it that way! 

P.S. All those boxes came flat and you assemble them (duh...from IKEA) kind of like pizza boxes. I highly enjoyed it. Plus, they were REALLY cheap. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kale Chips: Weird and Awesome (I think?)

I've started exercising for the first time since senior year of college (when I worked out for the first time in my life for 3 months before graduation). I'm on week 1.5 and so far so good. The main purpose of this (it's shocking!) is to be more healthy. Being thin and being healthy are NOT the same thing. Yeah, I'm thin by the grace of God, but walking up two flights of stairs makes my heart explode and my legs feel like rubber. I've decided that's pathetic and not really a good long-term life plan. The working out part is actually not so bad (and more about what I'm actually doing later). It's changing the diet that is super hard for me. 

I like to eat, and I like to eat whatever I want whenever I feel like it. I think butter should be its own food group. Gummy worms and Skittles probably deserve a slice of the new food plate chart too. Don't get me wrong--I like my fruits and veggies. It's just that cookies and pies are more fun to eat and make.

This is where the kale chips come in. You're probably thinking, "Oh this is going to get really boring because all the food Megan is going to make and take pictures of is going to be healthy crap." And THAT, my friends, will be your downfall. Is is going to get a little strange? Yeah. For sure (keep reading). Is it going to be healthier than what I normally cook? Let's hope so. Am I going to stop baking delicious (sometimes unhealthy) things completely? No way. There's a reason I study portion sizes and self control. 

So, on to the promised kale chips. If you're like me, you have heard of kale but never eaten it, really seen it or cooked with it. We decided to do our first week of healthy-food shopping at Whole Foods. It just seemed appropriate. And they have a sign that explains all the numbers next to the fruits and veggies are rating their overall "goodness" for you. Brian really liked this, and preceded to research all his favorite foods and things we eat often. Here's an example: soda = 1 point. Kale = 1000 points. For real. So he suggested I get some kale. And I decided that, despite not being born in the deep south, I would buy some and figure out what to do with it later. 

 It looks like the foliage you get on the side of your plate at a restaurant. Not a good start.
So I found a recipe for kale chips, my friend Mary said they're amazing, and it sounded like it would take approximately 15 minutes total. It also has "chips" in the name. I'm in. You start by washing the kale, tearing it off the long stem into mouth-size pieces, and putting it on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. 

Still looks like plate foliage decorations.
Then you spray the kale with cooking spray (you probably don't need as much as I used, but I was nervous). I sprinkled some garlic salt and parmesan cheese on top (not too much!) and put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes at 350. The recipe comments said a hundred times to watch it very carefully, especially at the end, because there is a fine line between soggy kale chips and burnt kale chips. At about 9.5 minutes I checked and they were done, couldn't take another second without burning. Here's the REALLY weird thing: they shrink big time! 

Where'd all the kale go!?!? 
They still LOOK like regular kale...but they're crispy!! I put one in my mouth and it just disappeared! It was like crunchy air. And it was DELICIOUS. I ate probably 1/4 of the pan above (portion control what?). And I will warn you, as good and addicting as these things are, if you eat a bunch at once you will end up chewing lettuce-like stuff because some pieces will be more lettuce-like and less crunchy than others. I'm okay with that. 

Ta-da! Weird and awesome. 
Moral of the story? My future kids are going to hate it when I pack them "potato chips" for lunch. 

P.S. If anyone has made these/ends up making these with different types of kale let me know what happens. There's several varieties and I'm curious about how they all taste! I have heard that the more purple ones are more bitter--that seems to actually make a lot of sense. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Well, hello there.

Hi.... remember me? I used to write here often. And then life got CRAZY. I mean seriously crazy. Here's a crash course on what you've missed. Now that my office is clean (a 7+ hour project I will not be reliving in blog world) I hope that I'll be able to get to more detailed posts about each of these soon! 

1) I have let my Etsy shop go. I still make cards. I still sell cards. But it's more for people who know me and what I make or the random Etsy shopper who stumbles across a sold item of mine. This is sad, yes, but see #2 for why it's also awesome. 

2) I now sell Mary Kay!! We decided that in order for me to do Mary Kay, something had to go. I am just way too busy and over-committed. The card shop was the thing that went. And honestly, I'm okay with it. Mary Kay is an amazing company to be a part of. And I'm making excellent money doing something that hardly ever feels like real "work." 

3) Brian left for tour with the Blue Stars Drum Corps on June 14th and I joined him in Texas on the 17th for 10 days on tour. I was home for a few days and then back again for another 5 days over July 4th weekend/week. Then 11 days without Brian, home alone (NOT FUN). And now he's back home for 3 weeks of La Salle's band camp before we both head to Indy for DCI finals mid-August. 

4) We booked a cruise!!!! Since drum corps and marching band are going to pretty much flow one to the other seamlessly this year, we're not going to get much of a break until the third week of November. (Or see each other for that matter) We have booked a cruise over the week of Thanksgiving. Six nights of awesomeness on Royal Caribbean for just the two of us! Cannot wait. 

5) I did some redecorating and reorganizing since we're going to be staying in this apartment for another year. Our "closet" now looks like it could have come form an Organized Living catalog and I own tulip lampshades and area rugs. Amazing. 

6) I discovered (thanks to Mary's help) the most amazing banana pudding dessert ever. Possibly one of the most amazing desserts ever period. And really, really easy to make. 

Those are pretty much the highlights of the last 3-4 months. I've been absent for so long it's been living visiting someone else's blog looking through all my previous posts. 

Hope all is well in your worlds!
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