gift card holder.

I'm not a scrapbooker - I've never had the time, patience, or desire to absorb myself in that hobby. I don't make cards, either, for the same reasons.

But sometimes I like to play around a little with making something out of scrapbooking supplies, most often in the form of invitations. This time, though, I decided to do something a little different - a gift card holder.

I made this to go with a graduation gift. Normally, I'm not a big fan of giving gift cards (they often seem unoriginal to me), but sometimes they're just the best option, so I thought this might be a fun way to dress it up a little and put a personal spin on it.

The quote on the inside is one of my favorites:

I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. - Diane Ackerman

so this is what criminal court really looks like.

Guess what I did today?

I went to criminal court today, as a witness against the guy who drove through my fence and shed last month.

Guess who didn't go to court today?

The defendant. So they issued a warrant for his arrest, and I wasted an hour and a half this morning.

local veggies.

I'm not sure where I first heard of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (probably Real Simple), but I've wanted to do one for several years now.

Essentially, you buy a share of a local farm's produce for the season. The food that you get, and the quantity of each fruit or vegetable, varies from week to week. I like that I'm buying locally grown food (and, depending on the farm, organic produce). I also love the challenge of using whatever I get, and getting exposed to new fruits and vegetables.

The only thing that's held me back from joining up until now, is that I worried that even the smaller share of produce would be more food than I could use, or even freeze for later. So when my friend Teresa said she was interested in joining a CSA as well, we decided to join up together.

This is our bounty from this week (week 3) - green onions, squash, zucchini, red potatoes, green beans, and peaches.

So far, the biggest challenge has been using the food before it goes bad (at least, for some of it). This is partly because I've been out of town so much, I've had little time to cook in my own kitchen. It also seems like some things turn more quickly than they do when I buy them from the grocery store - I'm theorizing that this might be partly because the farm uses less chemicals to preserve the food, but I don't really know.

recent recipes.

I'm still working through the 50 new recipes I need to try to complete #13 on my list of goals for the year. A couple of weeks ago I realized that I was only at 18 for the year and needed to play catch up a little, so I planned two weeks worth of menus with a ton of new recipes.

Several of these were from cookbooks and not available online (unlike most of the recipes that I try).

Chicken and orzo supper
(from Betty Crocker's Everyday Meals)

This was really good, and pretty simple. And healthy - can't forget that. It's basically chicken and orzo with Italian-style stewed tomatoes and zucchini.

Chicken and Noodles Paprika
(from Betty Crocker's Meals for 2)

Don't bother with this one.

Baked Creamy Chicken Tacquitos
(from Our Best Bites)

So good, and much easier than I thought it would be! The ingredients list is a bit long, but its mostly spices and easy stuff, so don't let that intimidate you. There's a lot of cheese in these, but I'm thinking if you tried a lower-fat cheese, they wouldn't be too bad for you, especially if you were careful about portion control.

Golden Baked Pork Cutlets
(from The Food Network)

Eh. I'm just not a big fan of pork.

Florentine Lasagna Roll-Ups
(from Real Age)

This is actually the second time that I've made lasagna rolls (you can find my first recipe here). These weren't bad, but the others were much better (and more fattening). These also seemed to take longer, but I think I could probably find a way to combine them to find the best of both. I think these could have been improved a lot with some marinara sauce, either baked with them or heated to eat on the side.

Cheesy Zucchini Bake

My friend Teresa and I joined a CSA together (more on that later), so I've found myself with all kinds of produce that I'm trying to figure out how to use. I'm in Frederick right now, helping take care of my mom following her recent surgery, and she suggested finding a side dish recipe that used both yellow squash and some fresh tomatoes she had on hand. This was okay - it made a lot, and the parts near the top were good, though the rest was a little bland. We didn't save the leftovers, which isn't a great recommendation.

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
(from Bakerella)

I made these for our family Father's Day celebration, because my sister's boyfriend loves them. I'd never made them before, though my mom often does, and though they did turn out okay, I think I discovered that its never a good idea to try a new recipe after midnight. First, I forgot to put the vanilla wafers in the bottom of the first batch. Then, I remembered this for the second batch, but they kept floating up to the top (maybe because I used 1/3-fat cream cheese (neufatchel cheese). Still, Vince ate then, and didn't whine, so they couldn't have been too bad (I didn't try one, because I'm not a huge fan of cheesecake).

Grandma's Vegetable Soup

My grandmother's vegetable soup recipe, which was a great way to use up a bunch of leftover vegetables.

Grandma's Vegetable Soup

1 pkg short ribs
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped (approximate)
1 cup celery, chopped
5 or 6 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can cut green beans, drained
1 can corn, drained (or fresh)
1 can peas, drained (or fresh)

Boil short ribs in large stock pot, with just enough water to cover them. Once boiling, reduce heat and continue to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add cabbage, tomatoes, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Cook for 1 hour. Add remaining ingredients (green beans, corn, and peas), and cook for 1 hour.

Remove bones from soup and chop up meat.

(I'm now at 27 new recipes for the year.)

travel. that's what i do.

Its been a really busy few weeks - filled with lots of traveling and visitors. I was in California toward the end of last week on business (though I did take some time to just chill at the edge of the Pacific Ocean), then my sister and nephew and six of their friends came to stay at my house on their vacation (they arrived about six hours after I got home, which gave me enough time for a nap and a tiny bit of last-minute cleaning).

Katie et al left Tuesday night for Frederick, and I traveled with them to stay with my mom over the rest of this week, to help her out as she recovers from surgery.

So, if I've been a bit absent...that's why.

i am small.

After a busy few weeks, I'm finally home and getting back to my regular schedule (if there is such a thing). I wrote the following while traveling for work, and have only recently had the chance to take the photo to go with the post:

I'm in Ventura, CA on business, and for the first time on a trip out here, I actually have down time. I so wish I had brought my camera with me.

I love the ocean. I love looking out at it and seeing nothing beyond it, just the sky meeting the water, and knowing that there is still miles and miles of it that I can't see.

It makes me feel small, which is a good thing, because I really spend so much of my life acting like I'm big.

I saw this rock on the beach, and thought it was beautiful. When I got home, I wrote myself a little reminder on the back.

I am small.
The ocean is big.
God is bigger.

master bedroom update (in progress).

Welcome to my new master bedroom! Its not done, yet, but that will have to wait for now, because I'm busy trying to get things ready for a work trip next week. (See the before pictures here.)

And besides, when it comes to decorating, I don't think I'm ever really done.

Even so, let me take you on a tour of what I have finished.

I love the new paint color. I picked it up for $5 at Home Depot (it was oops paint) probably a year ago, and it goes so well with so many of the things I've been buying for this room over the years.

Yes, I said years.

Above you can see the dresser that I painted, several weeks ago. I used to store my jewelry in this organizer hanging above the dresser, but I think I want to change that up a bit (I was inspired by this version of the same thing at Centsational Girl).

The new "headboard" is one of my two favorite things in here. These are old wooden shutters I picked up at a yard sale a year ago, and I've been storing them trying to figure out what to do with them ever since. I thought about jewelry storage, displaying photos...but in a sudden inspiration last week, decided to paint them black and attach them directly to the wall (my friend Victor did the actual attaching-to-the-wall part).

I'd still like to replace that nightstand with something more substantial.

This is my other favorite thing - these old windows. I picked these up from a neighbor probably two years ago now, and they've been sitting in my garage ever since. So, this weekend, I took them out, cleaned them off, and gave them a fresh coat of white spray paint.

This corner still needs some work. I have window treatments for the windows that I bought from Ikea - just need to get the panels out and hemmed, so I can hang them. I started the process of painting the dresser on the right (that's why the drawers are missing, because I got those painted, just not the dresser itself).

There are a couple things sitting on the dresser and little side table that still need to be hung on the wall (and in the case of the surfboard print, framed).

Another shot of the windows, because did I mention that they're one of my favorite things in here? I have a bunch of ideas on how to decorate them - I've got a great Beach House sign that I want to hang on the top one, and some smaller postcards and other things to add.

All that's coming later.

In the meantime, since this includes several trash-to-treasure projects, I'm linking up to Trash To Treasure Tuesday at Reinvented.

goal update.

I figured, since the year is now half over, that it would be a good idea to update my goals list and see where I am.

  1. Lose 30 pounds.(in progress)

  2. Read 10 non-fiction books. (in progress)

  3. Get a stamp in my passport. (done 02/07)

  4. Read through the New Testament. (in progress)

  5. Run for 2 miles. (in progress)

  6. Save $3000 in a savings account. (in progress)

  7. Cut out all sweets for a month. (done 04/11)

  8. Teach Harvey and Dakota to walk well together on a leash.

  9. Take Harvey and Dakota to the beach.

  10. Walk the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

  11. See a Grand Illumination (Williamsburg or Norfolk).

  12. Grow out my fingernails. (in progress)

  13. Try 50 new recipes. (in progress 24 of 50)

  14. Take an aerobics class. (done 04/23)

  15. Refinish dressers (2). (in progress 1 of 2)

  16. Clean out the garage. (in progress)

  17. Start recycling.

  18. Entertain once a month. (in progress 6 of 12)

  19. Watch the sun rise over the ocean.

  20. Get a hammock.

  21. Lead worship at church.

  22. Try 3 new fruits or vegetables. (done 02/12)

  23. Post jewelry to Etsy.

  24. Take a training class for work.

  25. Watch Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3. (done)

  26. Volunteer at Oasis (food kitchen) 5 times.

  27. Enroll in 401(k).

  28. See 3 live concerts. (in progress 1 of 3)

  29. Have Jake visit for a weekend.