Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pat(s) on the back!

As the title of my post indicates, I am giving myself a good ol' pat on the back for FINALLY overcoming my fear of my pressure cooker (it's ok to laugh) and using it TWICE today!  Not only did I soak some pinto beans overnight, but I soaked a couple cups of black beans earlier today to be used in this healthy and delicious-looking Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake from TastyKitchen.com (thank you Pinterest for another awesome recipe).  I even snuck in a cup of frozen spinach to take the healthy points up a level.



We shall feast on these leftovers for lunch this week, and I've portioned out my remaining beans for freezer storage.  Whenever I use beans, I like to give myself another pat on the back for discovering how easy and economical it is to buy dried beans, soak, cook, and freeze them instead of buying their canned cousins.  I love saving money, avoiding BPA/sodium from cans, and using dried beans in vintage Ball/Kerr jars as decor in our dining room.



I give myself yet another pat on the back (don't worry, won't make this a habit) for getting SO MUCH DONE today:


  • Got groceries/Christmas gifts from Whole Foods (with discount! Yay!) while dropping hubs off at work
  • Made another batch of baked banana oatmeal cups from previous post
  • Food prep: brown rice, black beans, pinto beans
  • Made above-mentioned Chicken and Rice bake
  • Made another trip to the local grocery for miscellaneous grocery items for the week
  • Made some awesome, cheap homemade Christmas gifts for the ladyfolk in my family, thanks to this tutorial: Peppermint Sugar Scrub (source: Jacolyn Murphy)



Seriously, this gift was so cheap and easy to make.  Of course, I had some help from my Kitchenaid mixer, and I already had these perfectly-sized quilted Ball jars just sitting around from a previous project.  Just need to make a cute label, maybe tie on a nametag, and I'm done.

After I showed my to-do list what's up, I had a little time left over to make a few lunches for the hubs:



Next project: Crochet Knotted Headband from All About Ami.  I am actually psyched to use up some of the yarn stash I've had laying around here for the past few years.

Farewell, productive weekend.  Until we meet again!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

the joys of adulthood

Today was one of those days that made me realize I've truly hit adulthood:
  • totally had the opportunity to sleep in but got up early anyway so that I could review/compare Eric's employee benefits with my own employee benefits to choose which plan I should enroll in
  • major excitement with day's plans of shopping for groceries (bonus: cheaply!) at Aldi's, food prepping, and tidying the house
  • epic anger/frustration over two food items that had gone bad in my fridge, which we all know equals wasted money (bonus adult points here)
On that note, I absolutely hate wasting food.  I honestly wanted to shake my fists at God and ask, "why?!" when I found that the lovely free-range whole chicken I'd given in to purchasing at Whole Foods had spoiled.  So much meat and chicken stock to waste... :(

My pity-party didn't last too long as I wanted to salvage some of the spoiling vegetables in my fridge by making a lovely veggie stock.  I hate buying stock of any variety at the store -- so much easier to make your own.  So, into my soup pot went some celery, onions, carrots, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaves to 'sweat' for a few minutes on the simmer setting.  After I felt the veggies had enjoyed their sauna, I added in some water, brought it to boil, and then down to simmer for about an hour.  Finished product: several cups of veggie stock for upcoming dinner recipes.  Into the freezer they went in ball jars and ice cube trays!

Next item on the food prep agenda was an on-the-go breakfast option.  I love oatmeal for breakfast -- cheap and nutritious -- but I was getting kind of sick of the warm glop.  To change things up (and to use up the spoiling bananas my husband promised he'd eat), I found a baked banana oatmeal cup recipe on FitnessMagazine.com that is easy, pretty healthy, and yummy.  I just put the ingredients in the bowl of my trusty Kitchenaid mixer, spooned the batter into my reusable silicone muffin cups, and popped them in the oven.  I'll admit that I will bake them a little longer next time as mine were just a touch too moist for my liking, but nevertheless yummy:


I'm about to make a second batch since I have *so* many bananas going bad...

I've been a fan of food prep/making food from scratch for a long time now, but I could be much better about  meal planning -- too often I come home tired from work and want to throw in the towel with dinner by ordering from one of the many restaurants down the street (a luxury that living in DC affords us).  I don't have to tell you that money spent on eating out adds up quickly, and I've been convicted lately of spending too much  money on 'convenient' food and not being a better steward of time and money.  That said... today I started a free 30-day trial at Plan to Eat, a menu-planning website that allows you to save recipes from the web by clicking a button on your browser (similar to Pinterest!) and adding them to your "planner."  You can even generate a shopping list based on your recipes, which I like.  I was honestly pretty hesitant as it's a paid service ($40/year), but I figured a free trial couldn't hurt.  We'll see how it works with me attempting to clear out our cabinets before leaving for Indy this Friday... :)






Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas, Soup, and Pinterest

Whoo! After being out of the blogging habit for some time, I have been re-inspired to start back up. After a lot of change in the past 3 years (marriage, new jobs, moving, school, new church, etc.), I finally feel like things have settled into a 'normal' of some sort. I can't believe it took this long! So here we are, the first Sunday of December. I finally got our Christmas decorations out of storage and, considering we only have a small tree and very few small decorations, am excited to get into the holiday spirit with a little decoration crafting. I love the rustic, Scandinavian aesthetic and am hoping to make this:


source: Nap Time Crafts

 I've also been cooking a ridiculous amount of soups from scratch. I am a HUGE fan of Katie Kimball's Kitchen Stewardship blog -- thanks to her, I now make my own chicken stock and yogurt among other things. Lately I'll buy a whole chicken (yay Whole Foods discount!), roast it, pick off the meat and store it in the freezer for future recipes, and save the bones for chicken stock. I had been making it in the crockpot (you really can't get any easier than that), but Eric and I found that the stock occasionally tasted somewhat bitter with this method, so I've been cooking it on the gas stovetop in a large stockpot instead. We re-use all of our glass food jars from spaghetti sauce, salsa, peanut butter, etc., so I just pour the chicken stock in those to freeze and keep plenty on hand. This way, I save money and know exactly what's going into my meals, which I like. Thanks to Pinterest, I have no shortage of new recipes to try. Tonight I made this lemon, chicken, and orzo soup from Tartelette blog -- take that, Panera! I have it cooling on the countertop in jars for grab-and-go lunches for the rest of the week.

 I'm off to fold laundry and find more Christmas crafts to make!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

sister.

i have a mini-project right now. i've been wanting to do something like 'this' for a while, just not exactly sure what 'this' is. something like a group of people writing encouraging letters to each other, like a penpal group? i just know that there are friends of mine who could use encouragement and prayer and if i can be a vessel, i'd be encouraged too...

life is slowly returning 'back to normal' and oddly, i'm not sure how to handle it! ive been trying to 'coach' myself into enjoying life again, saying 'its ok to be happy' here and there and to find peace again. i guess we really didn't know how bad this former living situation was until we were out of it, and now i want to slam that door shut and run like hell! God is so good in his provision and in the way he wants to bless us. i can't wait to grow into that person that he wants me to be and i feel like i'm getting closer and closer.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

from darkness into light.

things are finally starting to look up...

my last post was written from a pretty dark place. eric and i were both feeling very lost and hopeless for a while and it looked as though we might have to throw in the towel. God had other plans for us though, and through His provision we will be moving in to the apartment we looked at a few months ago which, by divine intervention, was still available (a serious miracle- the person who'd applied for it somehow got turned down). when we first looked at the place, we fell in love with it- it was in the area that i'd been wishing we lived in and it had everything we'd been wanting: more space, a dishwasher, and a balcony. i realize that doesn't sound like much, but in the DC area, a simple place like this is soo expensive (try $1025 monthly!) we thought it would be too expensive for us, and although we nicknamed it 'our dream apartment,' we forgot about it and planned to stay where we were. things got worse at our current apartment and we determined that God was prompting us to move out. so, without a new apartment lined up, we stepped out in faith and gave our 30-day notice to our landlord. shortly after, we applied for the 'dream apartment,' knowing full well that they would check with our current landlord (who has unreasonably badmouthed us to other tenants) and our employers to see how much money we make. miraculously, our landlord gave us a great reference, and the property manager approved us for the apartment even though we BARELY made enough money to meet the income requirement. i knew that if we were given the opportunity to move into this place, it was by God's hand and His desire to bless us...

right now we are packing and I'm sick, but I'm still very excited to move this weekend and be done with this awful apartment we've been stuck in for the last year. i'm more than excited at the thought that having a place to live in that we can enjoy will improve our experience here.

finally we can have space for a REAL bedroom and not a 10' by 10' box.
we can have a dining area and a living room and enough room for us BOTH to have 'studio space,' which means more artwork/sewing/crafts/printmaking/THERAPY.
we can have people over, and people can come visit and actually stay with us and not feel cramped.
we can have meals and drinks out on our own balcony.
we can walk A SINGLE BLOCK to the BEST farmer's market in the area (that is open year-round)!
we can ride our bikes to the store, or to one of the many restaurants down the street.
eric can ride his bike to school AND work and rely much less on the metro.
we can get involved in the thriving community that we will be living in.

yeah. i'm excited. and thankful that God pays any attention to us at all, let alone meets our needs in such awesome and beautiful ways.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

pray me through.

if you read this (if anyone reads this, really), please pray for us...

i'd mentioned in my previous post that i'm not a big fan of what i call "negative attention," meaning that i don't really like to throw myself a pity party, complain, etc. I really don't. but as you see here, i'm getting out of that comfort zone because, well, we need help. we need brothers and sisters. we need God. and it's been ridiculous of me to pretend that we didnt.

right now our living situation is at a crossroads. the place we've been living for the past year or so is no longer acceptable for us, for a few different reasons. we're stepping out in faith, choosing not to renew our lease for next year, and totally relying on God to lead us to a place that we can be comfortable and safe in. the cost of living here is sky high and a lot of places won't even consider our application unless we make a minimum income (which we usually don't), which kind of turns the whole apartment search into a game of chance. unfortunately, if we can't find a place to live, we'll have to come home to Indiana and Eric will have to finish his degree some other time (if they'll even let him return), having wasted his time and money here. our only other options besides somehow finding an apartment is to rent out a room somewhere, more than likely with strangers, or for me to go home and let him live in the dorms. obviously we'd prefer to find an apartment for ourselves, but it would take a miracle for us to find a clean, safe, comfortable place. we are totally relying on God to see this happen if it's His will...

Monday, March 8, 2010

a list.

so i have this weird quirk where i fear 'negative attention.' like, i fear weird things like fainting in public places, getting injured in front of others, and having panic attacks in public because i don't want anyone to think something's "wrong with me". that being said, i haven't really had anything good to say about living in maryland for the last 6 months, so i kind of haven't said anything at all...! i guess i've somehow gotten to this place where i don't like to complain to others about my life situation out of that sort of fear, like 'if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all.' i'm only bringing it up now because i am finally starting to enjoy being out here. it's been rough: new home, new jobs, new schools, being newlyweds, being far from family, etc., all without a church family or friends nearby to lean on. eric and i have both struggled with depression, stress, and anxiety with our new living situation. we have plenty of friends and family supporting us from afar, but it's obviously different. we've been to different churches and have tried to make friends and find community, but it's all been very strained with our schedules and our different ways of living. it's hard to believe how different cultures can be with 500 miles between them. we still don't feel like we can relate to most of the people and lifestyles in this area and are excited about coming home one day, hopefully with a degree for eric after all is said and done.

i've always been a list-maker and enjoy trying to see the positive in all things, so here's a list of all the things i am growing to enjoy about living here:

*sticky fingers vegan bakery and cafe
*another vegan cafe that is a short bike ride from our home
*being THISCLOSE to the metro and some great metro stops
*having so much to do and so close
*having a discount at the 32349080 whole foods stores near our home
*being near IKEA!
*my gym membership (even if i don't go)
*being close to the beach and the mountains
*small bars with awesome fries
*a million places to get good falafel
*smoothie king & bubble tea
*all the free museums and the free zoo
*the amish market
*the national mall
*tons of history
*bike-friendliness

...and hopefully this list will grow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

new buddy!

i may have neglected to introduce this guy:



this is my new buddy/nephew wyatt. my brother patrick and his wife jennifer had him right before we moved out east. it was bittersweet to say the least! my first nephew and i barely got to see him :( i get pictures of him occasionally but i definitely feel like i'm missing out.

things are finally settling down for us, praise God! our apartment is coming together although we still have a few boxes here and there. we make weekly trips to ikea, which is like disneyland for me... i am such a sucker for affordable swedish design! we finally got Maryland insurance for our car as well as the license plates and my driver's license, all of which was similar to a root canal in terms of fun-- i had to remove all the window tint from our car for our car to pass the safety inspection. Maryland is such a party pooper sometimes.

we finally made a new friend and he happens to live about 10 feet away from us! his name is Tony and ironically he is in a hardcore band that is actually pretty good. he and Eric have a lot in common and I'm thankful that Eric has someone he can chat with and go to shows with. now i just need a gal pal who likes crafts!

we have a promising lead on finding a church. i had checked out a church on my own that's down the street from where we live and although it totally seemed 'doable,' i just didn't feel that familiar connection. my friend michelle got me in contact with a girl in our area who loves her church, and that looks really hopeful! i think once we have a church family, we will feel like that last puzzle piece is in place...

i am totally in domestic mode at the moment and enjoying being married. i really like my new job- i do check-in/check-out for a group of cardiologists who seem MUCH nicer than the folks at the last job, and i've decided that even though i work more than i'd like, work makes me feel 'functional.' i've been cooking and cleaning and decorating and just enjoying "playing house." i get so much fulfillment out of serving people, especially my husband. it's funny to me in a way because that quasi-feminist side of me never really wanted to 'wait' on someone, but the spiritual part of me enjoys being the 'helper.' i really enjoy the dynamic God created between a spiritual husband and wife and i'm thankful that it somehow just makes sense to my otherwise rebellious persona...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

we made it!

after several months of planning, researching, scrapping plans and starting over, we finally made it out east. we originally thought we'd settle in virginia as that's where most of the jobs in my field seemed to be as well as my current school (northern virginia community college), but God seems to have led us to college park, maryland, home of the university of maryland. after two prospective living situations fell through, we decided to check out a small apartment right on the green line metro (eric requires metro access for both work & school). the picture on craigslist looked fair enough, but when we got to the apartment to view it, we were honestly kind of disgusted- less than 500 square feet of room for the two of us with dated appliances and college kids both upstairs and down. at first, the only advantages to the place were 1) no minimum income requirement (most places we checked out wanted us to make at least $37,000 a year), and 2) literally RIGHT on the metro line- usually we'd have to take a bus or bike to a metro station, but here the station is literally about 100 feet from our house. really, those two points were what sold us on the place- we could afford it, the landlord was willing to let us sign a lease the day we saw it, and eric can get to class in 20 minutes by metro. granted, it reminds me of my very, very first apartment (yikes), but we honestly began to fall in love with it. it's cozy for sure and the kids downstairs are actually pretty sweet (all inviting us to play beer pong and sharing their wireless), not to mention there's an IKEA down the road! despite the parties and generally disrespectful college kids, it's actually a really cool area to live in because sooo many things are within walking/biking distance: five guys burgers, a bagel shop, starbucks, chipotle, subway, a chinese place, noodles and company, cold stone creamery, jason's deli, pizza, wings, sushi... you know how college campuses are.
eric was lucky enough to stay employed with whole foods, and he now works at one of the busiest locations in the nation. it's like an airport! i'm currently working with a group of neurosurgeons, doing the ol' 9-5 type deal again, every day. right now we dont have a lot of quality time to spend with each other, which is definitely an adjustment in terms of 'being married,' but we have lots of things we'd like to do in the area when we finally get 'settled.' there is so much to do here and DC is accessible within about 20 minutes! and so much is free! it's definitely not home quite yet, but it will surely be entertaining for the next two years or so...

Friday, August 14, 2009

married.

it's official. on August 1st, 2009 I became Mrs. Rachael Dillard O'Dell. i'm still getting used to the name!





now, we must pack our 2 lives into one and move to Virginia within the next week. so much to do!