Saturday, October 1, 2016

Welcome to 31 Days of Living Intentionally


Welcome to my blog and my 31 Day series on Living Intentionally. The last time I did a 31 Day writing challenge was in 2014 (you can check that page tab out if you want to learn more). I almost didn't do it this year...I won't have time, I just can't do it, life is crazy, what will I write. BUT I decided just to do it anyways. It's good to step out and challenge ourselves sometimes.  

Why Living Intentionally? Because I believe that we often get so consumed with day to day life, possibly feeling like it is just same-old, same-old, mundane everyday life. If we are moms and wives, we often put everyone else first before ourselves. 

At the beginning of the year I was really feeling like I had been neglecting myself, spirit, soul and body for the last few years. So I decided that 2016 would be The Year of Me, I wanted to be intentional. I will admit, this hasn't been easy and I'm not at all happy with where I am, because it's so easy to stay in our ruts sometimes, and in our comfort zones, BUT I am more aware, and so I plan to carry this "word", Intentional into 2017. 

I believe being intentional is a key to living a vibrant life, so I hope you will journey with me this month as we talk about Living Intentionally when it comes to our spirit, soul and body. This is about you! Taking time for you, taking care of you! I hope we can learn together, interact together and come out with more of a lightness to our steps. I don't know exactly what it will look like each day, but that's the fun of it. 

Intentional = Done on Purpose, Deliberate. Let that sink in and think about how it means for you to Live Intentionally, and taking care of you!

You will find a page tab for this month so it's easier to find and I will post a link there and also at the bottom of this page. If you want to more about who I am, go here.  Come back tomorrow to get started. I'm so excited.

31 Days of Living Intentionally

Day 1: Welcome 




With Joy Unquenchable,

Monday, September 19, 2016

SRC Reveal: Jalapeno Poppers

I have been a part of The Secret Recipe Club for quite a few years now and thoroughly enjoy it. Sometimes I've stretched myself and made sometime a little more difficult, and sometimes I stuck to what was familiar, but regardless, it is always a blast to learn about new people, find new recipes and of course, be secretive in it all!

This month I was assigned the blog Mangia, hosted by Chelsea. I love the name Mangia. In Italian, it means "eat". Chelsea is from an Italian family. My moms side of the family is Italian and so I loved Chelsea's recipes and stories. 

Mangia means “eat” in Italian. Now, you can’t take this word for face value. Mangia means more than eating in the physical sense, but also, eating to enjoy life. Eating is what we do best in an Italian family, it’s what we do to come together, to share stories, and to show one another love through food. Naturally, I want to share this love with you, through my recipes. 
The other thing I loved about her blog is all the gluten free and other "healthier" versions of classic faves. Because, after all, it is a bit difficult to be Italian and not be able to eat all the pastas, breads, etc..Her sister is her inspiration for many of her recipes. 

I had pinned three to try. Her Lemon Cashew Cream Pie, which actually was an SRC recipe that she tweaked for dietary reasons...but my hubby said he's not a fan of lemon so I nixed that one...maybe I'll try it sometime making just a small personal pie. I also pinned her recipe for Mini Vanilla Bean Scones because I LOVE Starbucks vanilla bean scones, and hers are GF. But I have too many things that need to be eaten up so I'll make them this week sometime. So I decided to make her Jalapeno Poppers-Two Ways. We were having a dinner for my hubby's birthday yesterday and I thought I'd make these as the appetizer. I'm so glad I tried them. The fillings sounded so good and so unique to what I've typically had. Jalapenos are interesting because sometimes you get one that's not to hot, and then you get another that kills your mouth...I am sensitive to spice..lol. But I would totally make these again and actually used the leftover spread on some crackers later...YUM!

There are two versions of these. I'll list ingredients for both fillings and then directions (since they're the same), below them. These are great for a football party!  I was worried that the filling using greek yogurt would completely melt and run out, but it held really well.

Ingredients:

Honey-Citrus Goat Cheese Filling:

4 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
1Tbs. Honey (or more...I ended up using more...kept tasting till I liked it)
1/2 small orange, juiced (again, I used more. I wanted to taste all the flavors)

Fig and Yogurt Filling

6 0z. plain Greek Yogurt (I used Fage, it was on sale)
1/2 c. Fig Preserves (Both our Walmart and Safeway had this)

Other ingredients:

1-1 1/2 lbs. bacon. I needed two packages since I was short about 4 slices
8 jalapeno peppers, sliced vertically down middle and de-seeded


Instruction: 

1. In separate bowls, combine ingredients for fillings. 

2. Line a  baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

3. Fill cavity in each pepper with fillings (8 halves for each filling). 

4. Wrap bacon around each pepper, starting at one end. I used an entire piece of bacon. 

5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until bacon is nicely browned and filling bubbly. This makes 16 pieces total. 

I loved these. They're just different from the traditional cream cheese filled poppers, but I think they'll be loved by all! Try them at your next football party!



http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=653256



With Joy Unquenchable,



Saturday, September 17, 2016

Giving old Candleholders a Facelift

Years ago I sold Partylite Candles and Accessories. I loved that stuff. One of the items I had in my collection and happened to hold onto, was their gold taper candle holders. I loved them at the time, used them all the time, but over the years, kind of outgrew "gold" and they just sat somewhere unused. As I was decorating for fall the other day I came across them (being unused), and thought "I could do something with these", so I brought them downstairs. As I was at Dollar Tree looking for a few extra items to decorate with I saw some really cute tealight holders and that fun little idea bubble appeared over my head. I knew what I could do with them. 

My idea? Glue the tealight holders onto the candle holders. But I still didn't like the gold, and since I had some black spray paint at home, I thought "why not paint them black". It's not like they were being used anyways. I love how they turned out. Great for any season, quick and easy and only cost me $2 since I had everything but the tealight holders. So instead of throwing away those hold candle holders (unless you just have way too many), or see some hanging at a garage sale, this is a great way to re-use them. 


Items Needed:

Spray Paint (your color choice)
Taper Candle Holders (or other type)
Tealight Holders (again, your choice...get creative)
Hot Glue Gun

Instructions:

1. Make sure candle holder is clean and dust free.
2. Lay on a plastic garbage bag, old plastic table cloth or whatever you don't mind spray painting over.
3. Place one good coat of paint on holder and let dry. Follow up with a second coat. Allow to dry all the way. 
4. Place a good amount of hot glue onto the top of the candle holder and carefully center the tealight holder on top. Press lightly and allow to dry. 



That's it. Quick, easy and I love them more than I did before! Winner winner, chicken dinner!!

The centerpiece was made with items I already had around the house. The bottom tray is always on my table. I put a couple small books in the center and added the basket, and then inside that put the black....whatever it's called...I'm drawing a blank. I then just filled with fall decor. Thinking I will keep it like this and add winter to it. I love how it turned out. 

With Joy Unquenchable,


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Puff Pastry Cannoli

Friends, I found an easy and yet elegant dessert that takes no time to whip up. With a few simple ingredients you can have this on the table in no time. I was so excited when I played around with some leftover cannoli filling that I had in the fridge. I didn't want it to go to waste but needed something to do with it. 

A few weeks ago, I found this recipe for Puff Pastry cones with Cannoli filling and knew I had to make them. I remember making homemade Cannoli with my family and thought this would be a fun way to re-create those with a bit of a twist. They were fun and easy to make and oh boy tasted wonderful! I'll share the filling recipe below.

Now, I was going through the fridge yesterday and still had some leftover filling that I didn't want to go to waste. I also had a sheet of puff pastry left in the freezer that desperately needed to be used (as in it was drying out). What I came up with was so yummy it's a good thing I only had enough filling for three, otherwise I'm pretty sure I would've eaten more. 

Once the pastry thawed, I cut it into 3 strips (along fold lines), and then each strip into 3 "squares". You could cut them smaller for more appetizer type bites. Play around with it.

Puff Pastry Squares

1-2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg
1 tbs. water

1. Let pastry thaw on counter for about 40 minutes or so.
2. Unfold and cut along fold lines.
3. Cut each strip into 3 squares, or as mentioned above, whatever size, shape you want.
4. Lay each piece on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with egg mixture.
5. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.

Cannoli Filling

1 c. whole milk ricotta cheese, drained (see note below)
1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1 pkg. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (more or less)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/3 c. heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks


1. TO DRAIN RICOTTA: Place ricotta in a fine sieve over a bowl, top with a paper towel and something heavy to press the liquid out. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. The longer you let it sit, the thicker the filling will be. 

2. Stir ricotta, confectioners sugar, almond extract, spices and 2 Tbs. chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Gently fold in whipped cream until just combined. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. 

Chocolate Drizzle

1 c. chocolate chips
2 tsp. coconut oil

Combine chocolate and coconut oil and melt over low heat. Allow to cool slightly.

NOTE: If you plan to make the pastry cones like the recipe link, follow their directions for chocolate since you dip the cones in the chocolate and thus, need more. I added coconut oil to my chocolate to thin it out a bit in order to make it easier to drizzle. 


Assembly:

1. NOTE: If you want to do the cones, follow directions in link. Otherwise, place cannoli filling in a pastry bag with a large tip. 

2. Pipe filling onto the top of each pastry square. At this point you could get creative and stack them, or leave them open faced. 

3. Place chocolate in a ziploc bag and cut a very small hole in one corner. Drizzle chocolate over the top of each pastry and either serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later.  

With Joy Unquenchable,

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hood River Getaway and Airbnb

The views are stunning from so many locations. It is never tiring. Mt. Hood.

I'm so thankful that we live in the beautiful Pacific NW. I feel like we live in one of the most beautiful areas of the U.S. Now, I also realize that there are beautiful spots in every state and I would love to be able to visit them. One "dream" I've had is to go on a leisurely road trip, visiting different areas, tasting their cuisine, enjoying their sites. Not sure that'll happen but I'm fascinated by those things. In the meantime, I'll thoroughly enjoy our little slice of heaven. 
We had to find a spot to take our signature shot!
It's so easy to get caught up in the everyday hum-drum of life and I'm the first to admit that we don't take advantage of opportunities to just put things aside and go for a relaxing walk through nature, or a cool neighborhood, or get in the car and go on a random drive. I know that I often think way too much about the "time" and "money" it might take, and is it "worth it" when we have such a short amount of time, it's easy just to stay home and do the same ole' same ole'. I want the mindset that "it's always worth because if not now, then when?" 
This last year and a half we have take shorter mini-trips rather than the one longer trip that we have normally done in the past. We've yet to get back to our favorite spot, Sunriver, Oregon. They have typically been trips to the beach since the Oregon Coast is a short drive from where we live (anywhere from an hour to 2 1/2 hours), not too bad when you're only going for a couple nights. 
Recently, my hubby, youngest daughter and I traveled to Hood River, Oregon for a 4 night stay. I shared awhile back about a day trip my daughter and I took there, and we decided it would be great for a mini-trip. It's still weird not having our oldest along (as well as her hubby since she got married last December). Their work schedules and school just don't always allow for that extra time off. 

I always like to be prepared, especially when we don't have a lot of time. I want to have a general idea of where we might want to go while there, where we might eat, what we might do. It's obviously still spontaneous, but at least we have an idea. It was a great trip and I think we will totally do it again. 

One thing I love about the area we live is it is filled with so many natural attractions and living and sourcing locally and sustainably is huge. I love that. You don't have to drive far for hiking trails, mountain lakes, waterfalls, or cool and hip downtown shopping and eateries, not to mention Hood River is one of the top destinations in the US for Kite Boarding and Wind Surfing, oh, and let's not forget it's abundance of fruit...it really is a great location. 

We used Airbnb for the first time ever. We had a great experience with it. We have found that you need to plan ahead when visiting popular areas, especially if you have a budget. We had a hard time finding something in Hood River, so we went across the river and rented a large studio in Husum, Wa. The family was so sweet and our apartment was roomy and perfect for the three of us. I plan to look into Airbnb for a trip we are planning to NYC next year. 
It was a relaxing trip. We spent time just chilling and watching the kite boarders and wind surfers, which is absolutely fascinating. My hubby and daughter rented a wave runner for a few hours and had a blast. I sat on the shore and read. One thing the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River are popular for is the Hood River Fruit Loop. The loop consists of 31 stops and each are marked and maps are available at most locations in the area. While it would probably take an entire day to visit all of them, we chose just a few to stop at. One of my favorites is Packer Orchard and Bakery. Everything they sell is made in their own onsite bakery and canned on their farm. I came home with some Raspberry Jalapeno Jam and we purchased a few boxes of peaches. They also sell ice cream, milkshakes and a variety of baked goods. Not to mention shelves of jams, preserves, and so much more. One of the other stops and a new favorite is The Old Trunk. A quaint antique and soda shoppe. Here I browsed the shelves and my hubby and daughter enjoyed fresh made peach soda, and blueberry and huckleberry ice cream, all made with their own fruit. So good! During our stay we enjoyed quite a bit of ice cream because it was so hot. One of our faves is Mikes Ice Cream. This place was packed each time we went and just celebrated 30 years in business. Another place we frequented several times was The Farm Stand in The Gorge, which was an awesome Organic market and cafe. We stopped there a few times for fresh fruit and one day for lunch. I actually think we stopped there every day we were there. For coffee, our one stop was Doppio Coffee. Hood River has several great coffee shops but we only went once and this was where we wanted to stop. Since it was hot we sat and enjoyed our drinks, ate a snack, and just chilled for about an hour in the coolness of the cafe.
 The Farm Stand Cafe. Awesome food and Komboucha

Doppio Coffee...chocolate croissant and an iced coffee
The Old Trunk! Loved these seats at the counter.
We took one day and did a bit of hiking. There are so many places in the gorge to hike from easy strolls to grueling all day hikes. We chose a somewhat easy hike called Falls Creek Falls (well, okay, easy according to the book Curious Gorge, but I thought I was going to die!). The view at the end was gorgeous and totally worth it and the trek down was easy peasy. Thankfully my hubby and daughter let me stop when I needed too. The second spot we hit was Panther Creek Falls. A quick trek off the road but gorgeous as well. We stopped at a few viewpoints along the way and also stopped to watch the boarders and surfers before heading home to shower and go to dinner. 
 Beautiful trails meandering through old growth forest and along the creek.
 Falls Creek Falls

Panther Creek Falls
Despite the weather being in the upper 90's, our car's AC being out and the studio we stayed in not having AC (they did have fans and their was a lot of shade from trees), we had a great time. I completely recommend this area for anyone wanting to experience some wonderful outdoor activity, shopping and great food. We also took in a movie because it was so hot. We went to this awesome theater and pizza place called, Skylight Theater and Andrews Pizza. After the movie we purchased 3 slices of pizza to take home and eat later. We were so tired, we decided to chill, watch the Olympics and eat our pizza (which was really good). 

 Another favorite stop was Draper Girls Farm. Antiques, fruit and beautiful flower gardens. 


With Joy Unquenchable,


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