27 September 2013

Baking Gone Bad.


 
Why hello, Friday, nice to see you!
Joining Jen and her faithful crew of quick takers for some Friday shares! 
 
Last Friday evening in my eager excitement to begin celebrating this lovely autumnal season, I decided to whip up a batch of pumpkin waffles.  So I dug out our waffle iron from our wedding shower, and followed a recipe for some pumpkin waffles.  My first moment of concern should have been when I tasted the batter and it just, well, plain yuck! It was certainly not the taste feast in my mouth I expected. Darn it!  Some I thought a 'couple' extra dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg would 'magically' do the trick, but alas no; still had a yuck factor.  Last time I play around with spices unsupervised.

Still, I thought I could save these soon-to-be-waffles.  On the box it said this waffle iron was non-stick.  For a split second, there was a little voice in my head that said, "Hmm probably should still spray this thing with baking spray."  Did I listen to that little Betty Crocker inside me?? (I imagine you know where this is going...) 
NOPE.

So there I was merrily pouring waffle mix onto the hot iron and jamming out in the kitchen to jazz music on the radio.  It was only until I saw smoke steaming out of the waffle iron I thought it could be potentially a problem.  Well turns out you are still supposed to spray non-stick waffle irons even if it says non-stick.  After a few 'choice' words and 45 minutes of scrapping and scrubbing batter out of the waffle iron in the sink; I decided to call it a night and reacquainted myself with a Woodchuck hard cider and some episodes of "I Love Lucy"

This Sunday, I'm planning to go round two at the waffle iron again.  This time I'm using the lovely Pam to help prevent burnage this time around:)


This next week is gonna be crazzzyyy round these parts!!  All day Friday and Saturday I'm going to a Youth Ministry conference sponsored by our diocese.  I love getting together with some of my besties in ministry, and especially excited to have a well-needed chat/some advice with my dear mentor.  Oh and the food at these things is always good; which is of course an added bonus!

Youth Group kick-off is also on Sunday, yay! Pray for a good start to the year.  And Jim and I are also getting our god-parenting duties on the first time together beforehand.

The best thing about next week is my sister Annie is getting married! I'm already looking forward to our spa day of pampering with Annie, Mom, and ourAunt...not to mention my dancing shoes are ready to get down with my funky self and boogie the night away at the reception next Friday!
Oh and I also have a biblical exegesis paper on the call of Abraham that I somehow have to find time to start working on...looks like I'll really have to master some serious time management this week!
Prayers for all that busy; especially the bride/groom and my time management skills, are muchly appreciated:)

Gotta get a fun shot of us 3 sibs at Annie's wedding for sure!!


A few weeks ago, I asked you all for advice on drinking coffee.  Diet Coke has not been doing it, and I figured at 28 was as good a time as any to try it out.
Thanks for the idea's! So I had my first official cup of coffee with carmel something creamer (Jim seemed to think I would be able to tolerate it).  Well I got half way through and oddly enough it gave me a stomach ache; I definitely felt more awake, but boy it was hard to swallow down.

I know some of you recommended Earl Gray tea's and I still have yet to get some the next time we go grocery shopping.  Tomorrow before heading out to my day conference, I may be hitting up Bigby for something sweet and sugary in a mug:)
Any other good caffeinated tea flavors?? I tried raspberry, but it just tasted like bland, flavored water.


Monday Jim and I got a big surprise!  Someone we know at a church we frequently go to on Sunday wants to pay for us (as a gift!) to attend this 2 day weekend marriage enrichment conference, called 'Living in Love.'  We were both humbled and really surprised when this man told us he thinks our marriage can help other people because of some challenging situations we faced this year, that it could be a witness to other engaged or newlywed couples.  So we get to go and really do some serious reflection and prayer together for a weekend, and then afterwards perhaps will be trained to be a "marriage mentor couple" to help walk alongside other couples who are preparing for marriage at this church.
Of course we said yes!  I'm really excited to see what this brings for us as a couple, praying about this opportunity together, and am looking forward to this weekend enrichment already:)

Since getting from our retreat a few weeks ago, I've really been thinking about the constant stream of excuses I make to explain why I can't/don't have time/or am too busy to find time to pray each day.
The last talk at the retreat was given by a nun who just really convicted to me as much as I can to stop the excuses and get my lazy rump out of bed and just spend time with the Lord.  Of course, easier said than done.
Last week, I set my alarm and hour earlier before I needed to be getting ready for work to have quiet time with Jesus.  I did it twice last week (work in progress ;) and the days I did I noticed just an overall difference in my attitude and mindset.  Its a sacrifice sure, but I'm really starting to see if I don't make time then, I''l find too many excuses to not pray later in the evening.
One thing I also did in my prayer time was bring my day before the Lord and share my plans, but then ask him if there's something specific he wants me to do or take off my list.  Especially for a chronic list make and control freak like myself, its a simple way to strive to do more of God's will and less of mine each day.
Know of course its Friday, and this week I've only got up once early to pray...like I said...a work in progress...


I'm already excited and dreamily planning our next trip to the grocery store.  Is that weird??
No? Whew, okay I thought I was the only one that found grocery shopping to be fun...I'm sure give me a few years and a couple kids later, I'll think differently.  But call me crazy, I really do find grocery shopping to be fun!
Especially when I can do this......


OR dress up like this.....
 

Don't worry we don't dress up like bears and I don't use the cart at Kroger's for my personal photo shoot...although the bear thing would be freaking. hysterical.

But for real, I'm just excited for some of idea's I have to try out in the kitchen: shepherd's pie, spinach lasagna roll ups, spinach mushroom frittata, and funetti pancakes (for the birthday boy in the next few weeks!)
All this food chatter, has got me hungry.....hhhmmm wonder what its the fridge?

Lastly this picture and words. Cause its just good stuff.

















Wishing you all a beautiful weekend...and don't forget to share your smile, cause its a gift!! :)



24 September 2013

Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff



One of the things my Mom made a lot when my siblings and I were growing up were casserole and stroganoff type dishes, probably because they were so easy with three little kids running around!

I've spent some time looking on Pinterest for ways to make some of my favorite childhood dishes but also making them a little healthier too.
With Fall officially here and also being a really busy time at work, I wanted to try a couple recipes that were pretty easy to make for a nice dinner during the work week, and when I came across this light version of chicken stroganoff, I knew it sounded like something I would want to take a crack at.



Ingredients
1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can of 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
1 packet of onion soup mix
16 oz. container of fat-free sour cream


Instructions

1// Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker

2// Combine the rest of the ingredients in bowl and mix up

3// Cover the chicken with the mixture

4// Cook on low for 7 hours

 5// Spoon up the deliciousness with noodles (I used a whole wheat pasta)

6// Add a dolup of sour cream for garnish and let the chow down begin!


Happy eating!! :)

13 September 2013

An Accusation of Magic

I've been meaning to publish this newest guest post from Molly, and I'm staring Friday off right by clicking "publish"!  Molly is the lovely author behind Molly Makes Do.  She is a wife and mommy, and entered the Catholic Church in 2012...welcome home, girl!  Stop by here corner of the blog-o-sphere and check out what she has going on!  Today she is writing on her experience on how entering the Catholic Church really became a magical experience for her...
-----------------

When I was married I was still searching.  I made it very clear that I wasn’t comfortable getting married in a Catholic Church, the religion my husband grew up with, and we made other arrangements.  I didn’t know what I was being drawn to, but I knew with a great deal of certainty that it wasn’t Catholicism.  I might as well walk around with an “I *heart* the Crusades” t-shirt on.

My husband was clear – he didn’t mind what ever I found that satisfied my soul, but he’d be remaining Catholic.  He wasn’t even that devout, but he was steadfast in this.  My first reaction to this was probably something poetic and philosophical like “Seriously?”  It was probably around that time that I started asking him ridiculous amounts of questions of an equally poetic nature - “So what’s up with the Saint thing?” is a good example.

Then I got myself in trouble; I started reading and let this be a warning to you.  If you’re at all interested in Catholicism and you start reading, it’s all up hill from there.

Eventually I started to know the answers to my questions – I knew more about the Mary thing, the Saint thing, and the prayer thing – but I still couldn’t figure out why my husband was so committed to staying Catholic.  I had grown up Protestant and was used to shopping for and jumping ship between churches so what was the big deal? 

Then, one night, I was reading a section in one of my many Catholic books about the Eucharist and suddenly, just for a moment I had figured out.  I knew exactly why he was so drawn to his religion and I was poised to attack.  A few hours later Ben walked through our front door and I just about catapulted myself over the couch, finger raised accusingly in the air.

“I know it!  I’ve figure it out!  I know why you like being Catholic so much,” I shouted.  “It’s because it let’s you believe in MAGIC!”

Now, dear reader, do not worry I’m not and was not talking about real Magic (or well actually fake Magic, because come on now), and luckily my intelligent, but incredibly nerdy husband knew what I was trying to say.

I had realized that the Church let my husband have every reason to believe in the fantastical, the unbelievable, and the miraculous and that spoke to him.  He could go to Mass and not just have a nice worship service, but witness a miracle every Sunday.  He could teach his child about amazing men and women who could do wondrous things because of their faith.  He could believe that faith and prayer can work miracles.

It was then that I realized what the Church offered him and I, a chance to be part of something real, something that could have real effects.  A symbol is just that and nothing more, but a real presence and a chance to engage fully in our roles in this amazing world around us through our faith, well, that’s kind of magical.

 

11 September 2013

5 Faves: Kitchen Gadgets & cleaning tricks

Two weeks in a row with joining the five faves link-up, score!  Today Grace is covering the hostess with the mostess duties for Hallie.
Going with a double whammy combo today of cleaning tricks (Thank you God for Pinterest!) and fav kitchen gadgets.  So without further adieu...


1.  As I looked at our sorry excuse of a microwave, I decided it was probably a good time to give that machine a good cleaning; probably not a great statement to my domestic skills if I cannot remember the last time I cleaned it?  Don't it was within the last year. I think.
Not knowing where to begin cleaning off the gunked on spaghetti sauce and tomato soup stains, I turned to Pinterest for a quick way to clean the ol' microwave.

I loved what I found and more that was simple: 1 cup of vinegar mixed with 1 cup of hot water in the microwave for 10 minutes.  I may as well warn you that your kitchen may smell of burning vinegar, because my husband came out wondering why it smelled like burning salt and vinegar chips...other than a slight temporary smell, no biggie.
After 10 minutes, take a wet cloth and wipe the whole inside out...and voila! A happy microwave is a clean microwave...or something like that:)



2. Was I the only one who apparently registered for crap steak knives at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for our wedding? They have gotten rusty well within the first year of being married, and I'm just bummed we now have to add a good set of knives onto our Christmas wish list.  No we are not cereal killers, we just like our beef. chicken. lamb. you get the idea ;)


Who knew lemon juice could get get rust stains off your knives?  Not this girl!!
Another little genius find on Pinterest.  I soaked the knives for about 10 minutes, and then I scrubbed then another few minutes with the rough side of the sponge...oh happy day!
Nothing is better than cutting into a juicy steak with rust-free steak knives.


Now onto to fun kitchen gadgets...

3.  This little wooden contraption I won as a prize at my sister's wedding shower...just looks like a glued together chop stick, right?? WRONG.
It is a bamboo tong to safely get your toast out of the toaster without electrocuting yourself!! pure. genius.  All I know is this bad has prevented me from burning my fingers and impatiently jamming my fork in the toaster.  Simple, but handy to have in the kitchen:)



4.  My DIY soap/sponge holder...



Another find on...yup you guessed it, Pinterest.  It's handy, easy, and having something pretty to look at almost makes scrubbing pots more pleasant.....almost.  If you're looking for an easy craft, here is where I wrote on how to make it.



5.  This is last one isn't as exciting, but oh so handy lately for me! Muffin pans.  I've gotten really into baking mini egg white muffins in the muffin pans.  We're talking spinach, feta, tomato, and onion=amazingly delicious experience for you taste buds!
Next muffin pan recipe? Mini pumpkin cheesecakes.  be.still.my.autumnal-loving.heart.


Happy Wednesday loves! :)


06 September 2013

Back to school...with a bouquet of sharpened pencils


It is Friday and that is something to jump for joy over:)  In keeping with tradition, I'm linking up with Jen again for the good ol' quick takes...



{1} Grad school classes started up again this week.  Even now as an adult (ish), I get SO excited about seeing the school supply section at Target; like it brings the hugest smile to my face:)  There is a scene in You've Got Mail where Meg Ryan talks about getting a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils, and I've always loved it since having a special place in my heart for back-to-school supplies.


I'm taking two classes for the fall semester, and one of them only meets every other week (heck yeah!).  I had my second class this afternoon; its a Scripture course where we intensely study the first 5 books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) to really understand and see how the story of salvation is written in even from the beginning of time/Scripture; to see that all of Scripture points us to Jesus.  The bishop who is teaching the course shared this quote today that really struck me: "The Bible is shallow enough for a child to wade in, but deep enough for an adult to swim in" -St. Augustine.  Looking forward to really getting into the Old Testament more intensely!  I love the fact I can study something that excites me and fills my heart with energy and passion:)



{2}  Since getting home from Brazil a month ago (has it really bee that long!?!?), our group of pilgrims has thoroughly shared our journey and experience with the folks of our church.  One awesome way we did this is through a kick booty video one of our pilgrims made.  She sent me a copy this week in the mail and to put on our church website.
Give er' a watch :)





{3} Growing up did anybody else legitimately think that Labor Day was a national holiday to honor women in labor to give birth!?!?! No just, me okay then...moving on right along...
On Monday, we went over to my folks for a bbq and a lively family game of Apples to Apples.  We had some drinks, ate some tasty pulled pork, and my sister and chatted about blogging and books we each have been reading. 
I'm really thinking about changing the name (re-branding?...I don't even know the terminology) the name of my blog.  Honestly, I'm not really the creative type and when I wanted to start blogging I just threw this title together to get going; now I'm just not crazy about it and what something that just reflects me better and sounds better.  All I have come up with on my own is "H is for Hubbard" (Jim and my sister quickly nixed that one) and "The Wifely Life"...
Any of you creative, type gals have idea's?? I'm stumped and am all ears for suggestions/idea's.



{4}
 In case you haven't heard, Pope Francis has called September 7 as a day of fasting and prayer in the world to pray for peace especially in Syria and also the Middle East.  Honestly it is scary to read some of the stories I have come across about the great persecution of Christians in this part of the world.  My question is what the heck is going to happen to these people whose homes and churches are already being destroyed and families being kidnapped/killed after a military strike???  We live in a broken fallen world due to sin (grad school education at work here:), but prayer and fasting are like spiritual dynamite, and I'm thinking with all the evil in our world and the horror going on in Syria and other places...what our world needs more of is PRAYER.

The awesome thing about what the Pope is ding is that he asking all people in the world: Catholic, non-Catholic, believers, non-believers, all people of good will to pray and offer up sacrifices together on Saturday to pray for peace in Syria.  Isn't praying for peace (whether you tight with Jesus or not) something we can all get behind?
Cause prayer and fasting isn't official until you get a cool graphic for it


{5}
Thursday night was the kick-off monthly meeting to our young adult group i.d. 916.  Jim and I went with my sister Annie and had a great time!  Mass, dinner, a relevant talk for young adults, and just great resources for trying to live out our faith as Christians.  In being in one of the small groups they run for women, it is really helping me meet other young women and especially new wives/mom's who are on a similar vocation path as me.
Next weekend they are having a fall retreat, and I am SO excited both Jim and I get to go.  Looking forward to spending all next weekend with the husband, other young adults...oh and yeah, Jesus too ;)



{6}
Last Sunday after Mass, Jim and I got to meet our little goddaughter, Eliana.  Her Mom and Dad brought her to Mass and afterwards when we were chatting, asked if we would like to hold her.  yes. please. Only two weeks old, she looked like a little doll in my arms, and it made my heart swoon.
The cutest thing is when I did a hand off to Jim of the baby (he has never really held a baby before) and it was awkward and sweet all wrapped into one.  You could tell he wasn't used to holding babies and he held her in this weird way so close to his face/mouth, later I said it looked like he was going to eat the baby.
Seeing him with a baby like that is crazy cool...and even more crazy.weird.cool. is thinking about us having little ones:)


{7}
Okay peeps, I need some advice.  I have never liked the smell and/or taste of the very very few times in my life I have tried coffee.  Jim is encouraging me to give it a second chance, especially Diet Coke doesn't give e the extra umph to plug through a busy, tiring day.
So I'm open to giving coffee a chance.  However, I have NO idea where to start.
Flavored or black coffee? cream or sugar? what are good types of liquid creamer to try?
Help a girl out as she branches out into a new area of caffeinated beverages.



 I'll leave you to get your Friday 'happy dance' on with Carlton Banks.  
 Seriously. How does this just not make you smile!?!?!
 

Have a fantabulous weekend!!



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