Sunday, November 13, 2011

Easton Henry Miracle 10.21.11 Part 2

I finally got around to posting the rest of the pictures from our trip! Can't wait to see everyone again in a couple weeks for Thanksgiving :). Enjoy the cuteness!





























Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crafty Before and Afters

Last year I made a fall wreath using supplies I had at home. While I liked the look of it, several months of working with silks and making wreaths at work inspired me to improve it.

BEFORE


AFTER

I like the improved look much better!

I recently acquired (for FREE!) a mirror from our delivery driver at work. I love the shape, but the bright yellow and scratches were not pretty. I had a can of red paint left over from painting my desk, so my free mirror got a free makeover.

BEFORE


AFTER

Much better.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Easton Henry Miracle 10.21.11

I am officially an aunt!
My nephew Easton Henry Miracle arrived last Friday morning!
This past week I've been in Texas with my mom helping Dustin and Elissa out with their new arrival! I will post more pictures later this week :).
Isn't he adorable!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good Eats

These are some of the recipes we've tried the past couple weeks!
Sorry there's no pictures- we were too busy eating :).

Spicy Hummus
Ingredients:
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 rounded tablespoons tahini sesame paste
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Pita breads, grilled and cut into wedges for dipping
Directions:
Combine beans, tahini, oil, pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, garlic, salt, and lemon juice in food processor bowl and grind into a smooth paste. Transfer to a small dip dish and surround spread with warm pita wedges. *Recipe from the Food Network

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Directions:
Saute sweet potatoes and onion in 1 T. oil just until tender. Add black beans, cumin, cinnamon, and salt, cook until heated through. Divide bean mixture and cheese among tortillas and roll up. Place in 9x13 in. baking pan. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, and fresh cilantro. *Recipe from "Simply in Season"

Baked Penne with Zucchini
Ingredients:
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced, about 6 cups
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 jar (26 oz.) pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, optional
  • 1 pound penne
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Directions:
Heat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 9x13 baking dish. Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat oil in skillet, saute zucchini, pepper, and garlic until tender (about 5-10 minutes on medium heat). Add pasta sauce and basil. Transfer cooked pasta to baking dish. Top with pasta sauce zucchini mixture. Top with shredded cheese and parmesan. Bake for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Serve hot.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Menu Plan

Last weeks menu was AWESOME!
I will try to post those recipes at some point this week.
We went to the farmer's market on Saturday and got some great deals on peppers, zucchini, watermelon, and sweet potatoes! Can't wait to use it all up in meals this week :).

What's For Dinner?
  • "Chicken" (Lentil) Noodle Soup
  • Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos
  • Baked Penne with Zucchini
  • Scrambled Eggs with Sausage, Peppers, and Broccoli
  • *Leftovers eaten for lunches and in-between days

A couple things I've learned from cooking with mostly beans and vegetables...

  1. A good food processor is a necessity.
  2. Stock up on spices, onions, and garlic (almost every Veggie recipe I've used calls for these).
  3. Don't rush, be patient. Cooking beans and veggies takes longer than most meats.

Also...

Did you know toasted cashews smell like fried chicken?!

1/4 lb. pork sausage (one serving) has 200 calories and 7 grams protein. 1/4 cup lentils (one serving) has 80 calories and 10 grams protein. CRAZY.

Monday, October 3, 2011

3/4 Vegetarian



I don't blog recipes a lot... and when I do it's usually a dessert :).
I've toyed with the idea of blogging weekly menu plans for awhile now for these reasons:
  • Spend less on groceries
  • Stay more organized
  • Avoid the evening panic of "what's for dinner???!"
Over the past couple months DJ and I have talked about going more meatless in our diets. We are not ready to give up meat entirely (not sure we ever will, I love a good hamburger :), but in an effort to decrease our carbon footprint on the earth, the growing costs of meat products, and an increased knowledge of animal slaughter (ugh), we are ready to go vegetarian for most of our meals.

Since there are only two of us, I will plan three vegetarian meals a week and one meat inclusive meal a week (mainly chicken or fish).

So far the challenge has been getting used to the different flavors and textures of veggie dishes. Veggie meals use lots of spices I wouldn't normally have in my cupboard. The protein in the dishes are also flavors we're not used to eating a lot of (chickpeas, tahini, and edamame, lentils).

This is our second week of going mainly Veggie. We are enjoying the challenge of grocery shopping for new ingredients and trying out new recipes! We have switched grocery stores as well. Our Walmart's produce and ingredients are lacking in quality and quantity... like finding half eaten apples on the display... or being completely out of carrots!! So, we are now shopping our local Dillons, which is WONDERFUL. I thought we would be spending more on groceries at Dillons but we're actually spending less. Plus we get gas points for money off at the pump, AWESOME.

I am really hoping we can stick to this. My biggest concern is that we get enough protein and actually feel full at the end of a meal. So far it's been great. I am also very lucky to have a husband who's not a picky eater. He'll eat whatever concoction, veggie or meat, that is put on the table!

WHAT'S FOR DINNER?
  • Dilled Crockpot Chicken, butter brickle cake (yummy)
  • Spicy Hummus with toasted pita, salad, tropical fruit
  • Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna, salad
  • Curried Cashew Burgers, salad
  • *leftovers eaten for lunches and in-between days
If it's a great recipe I will try to post it on the blog :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Diary of a Lazy Cat

Morning yoga keeps me young.

It's okay, the mouse will be there when I wake up.


If I stare at that bug long enough it WILL come to me.

This is my glass right?

My bowl runneth over.

It was just a little flea! I can bathe myself thank you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Craigslist Questions Answered

This is for Megan... and everyone else who has asked me about how I sell things on Craigslist!

We love Craigslist!

I have sold several things over the past two years, furniture, dog crates, cat toys, kitchen supplies, and video games to name a few :). I found our current house and my current job listed on Craigslist... come to think of it I bought our stove off Craigslist too!

Here are my tips for selling things on Craigslist:
  • If it is in semi-poor or fair condition don't bother selling it. Donate it. This also applies to really ugly furniture. For example, we had a very ugly floral loveseat that we got for free when we first moved here, I didn't want to bother listing it and so we set it on the curb (it was a sunny day). It was GONE within two hours! Since it was free to me, I did not lose any money, plus I didn't have to look at it any longer than necessary!!







The cat liked it :)
DJ hated it! Haha... glad I still had this picture! Love you dear!









  • If it is in good/excellent condition and I remember what I payed for it, I usually knock off $10-20 depending on what I paid for it. Other than that I search on Craigslist for what similar items are priced for and price mine competitively.
  • Create a Craigslist account so you can "renew" your listing every few days, as well as create and keep track of multiple listings. Otherwise your listing stays under the date of the original post. Don't let your add go to the bottom!
  • NEVER list your phone number and address directly on the Craigslist page. If you do list your phone number mix it up by spelling out some of the numbers example: one 2 three-45 six-78 nine ten.
  • We have people e-mail us if interested using the disguise e-mail option. If we get an e-mail from someone interested and it seems authentic we e-mail back with our phone number (scrambled) and tell them to call us so we can set up a time to meet and give our address. So far this system has worked great and we haven't had any weirdos! We have had a couple no-shows which is frustrating but that is the risk you take. SAFETY: I always make sure the hubby is home when I set up a meeting.
    We also try to show items outside on the porch, if it's a nice day and a small enough item, so people don't have to come in the house. Follow your gut!
  • Here's my BEST piece of advice.... always add a picture to your listing! I have listed a couple things with no picture and had zero hits. When I added a picture I had e-mails the next day. Make sure the item is neat and clean before you photograph it. I also like to set the item against a plain backdrop so it stands out nicely (the less clutter the better).
Example advertisement:
Limited Edition Bing Crosby Christmas Character, Excellent Condition
Price: $10
Location: Somewhere, KS
Description: Limited Edition Bing Crosby Christmas Character, Excellent Condition. Comes with original box, box has seen some wear but is functional. Sings and dances. Would make a great gift! Asking $10 FIRM, CASH only. You pick up. E-mail us if interested!

  • Key words: I always say "price is FIRM" so there's no haggling (it's happened), "CASH only" (you don't want a bounced check), and "you pick up" (you don't want to risk the person not being home- waste of time). The scrambled e-mail Craigslist provides is usually at the top of the page so they can just copy and paste it to their browser of choice.
Phew!
I hope that answers all your questions! Feel free to ask more if I left something out. Like I said, we have had great experiences with Craigslist. It has been the best way to get cash for items without hosting a time-consuming garage sale.

Happy Craigslist-ing!

~Gretchen~

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Post 2: Operation Apartment With A Yard

I am still not done with my purging/organizing extravaganza.
It is taking forever!
I may or may not have had a few panicky moments (and almost a breakdown) when deciding whether or not to give something away. It is hard, especially going through some of my childhood things.
I did sell three things on Craigslist so far! Hooray for cash!

I have discovered that I have to prepare myself mentally before I dive in to organizing and purging. I Google anything and everything and find articles on other people who have done this- pictures help too.

Perhaps the most inspiring thing I've seen so far has been these three videos. They are from a website called www.faircompanies.com. It is amazing that people can live in these small spaces with so little!

It has inspired me. I hope it inspires you too :)

Manhattan shoebox apartment: a 78-square-foot mini studio


Lego-style apartment transforms into infinite spaces


Shotgun shack redux: mortgage-free in 320 square feet


AMAZING!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Change ahead...



One thing is for sure: this year has been the year of change in our household. Mom passing on, jobs ending and (hopefully) beginning. It has been hard. I have read a few books on grieving, none of them have been easy to stick with for any length of time. But one thing that is common in them, is that acceptance is very important and that you have to give yourself time to grieve. As the oldest of 3, I had a different experience with Mom than my brothers, but not too different. Just different enough.

The feelings, memories, and thoughts I've had are constant and for at least a month or two I did absolutely nothing with my life that was different. Now, with school starting and after a lot of reflection I am picking myself up again but it's hard. You see, I miss Mom. I miss her a lot.

This has been the hardest year of my life so far. I do not say that lightly.

But now, it's time to move on. This process of moving on I've read, will be tough. All good things are worth the struggle after all right?

I am ready for The New. New beginnings, new friendships (or the re-kindling of one's I had), and the new things that will help the moving along along. At Mom's funeral, there were some people there that I had never met but who Mom had made a tremendous impact on. As a teacher, I'd like to think I've had some influence on my students and staff I've worked with. They definitely, definitely made an impact on me and I miss them. I don't like the fact that I'm not in a classroom right now with students. I didn't want to leave them last semester, and will not like being without a class this year too. Kansas' state requisite scores have been very hard for me to overcome for some reason, even though my scores are great for many other states. This has had it's drawbacks and caused a lot of frustration.

But this, like all obstacles shall come to pass. That's what I keep on thinking, and I hope I can keep it up.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Post 1: Operation Apartment With A Yard

My summer project of de-cluttering and organizing has taken on a whole new depth and given me a new mission: SIMPLIFY.

Our first apartment was an 1800 square foot loft apartment on main street of my hometown. It had served many purposes before we moved in, including a restaurant and ballet studio. In fact, it still had the huge wall-sized mirrors from its dancing days... as well as dark navy walls and sparkly stars stuck everywhere. We got cheap rent in exchange for painting, cleaning, and assisting in slight renovations. It worked out great for us! Our marrying and moving in together coincided with my grandparents moving in to a nursing home. So we basically got a whole house of furniture, which we had PLENTY of space for!

However, when our landlord decided to sell her house and move back into our place, we needed to move. Luckily, my family was nice enough to let us rent out the family farm. While we were getting outdoor space the actual living space in the house was diminished to probably about 1000 square feet. As a result we had to go through all our possessions, wedding gifts, and of course everything we received from my grandparents' house. We donated several boxes to Goodwill. Fortunately the farm had space to store some of our excess too, so we didn't really need to make any big decisions about letting go of anything.

Fast forward six months and DJ gets a job two hours away. Time to move again! Oh joy. Now we were facing renting a moving van. We wanted to be able to fit everything in one van to keep moving costs down. Our family also chipped in with their own vehicles. Still, we had to cut down on stuff again. Several more boxes were donated and most of our furniture we left behind. The hardest piece to leave was the dining room table... we loved that dining room table!

So here we are now in an 800 square foot house (I like to say we live in an apartment with a yard) :). Two bedrooms- one bathroom- and a tiny little kitchen. Over the course of the past two years we have sold some things on Craigslist, bought a decent couch (finally), and re-arranged the rooms several times to figure out the best configuration for our tiny space. However, I still have tubs and boxes stacked on top and bottom of our three closets. It drives us CRAZY! We can't find anything without moving at least one box to get to it. We are TIRED of it.

Since buying a house or renting a bigger place are both out of the question for us right now, we have two choices: live with it or SIMPLIFY.

So we have started simplifying. My inspirations have been www.orgjunkie.com and a few books perused at Barnes and Noble and our local library. My organizing mantra is from Orgjunkie: "Clutter= anything you don't love or use or have the space to store".

So far I've been amazed at how much emotional attachment we have to such silly things like old papers or clothes that look nice but we never wear. Also, at how much stuff we've moved around with us and never used. We plan to either donate everything except what we can sell on Craigslist OR have a garage sale.

I've also started researching Fung Shui arrangements for each room of the house. I want to do anything I can to make it feel like we have SPACE.

For inspiration I've been looking on www.thenest.com for pictures of rooms we can aspire to.

Operation Apartment With A Yard
1. Get rid of anything we don't love or use or have space for
2. Re-arrange the rooms using Fung Shui criteria to maximize our space
3. Decorate without spending any money (using what we have). Sadly, we aren't allowed to paint- the bane of renting. I will just have to get creative! :)

Well, I'm off to conquer the STUFF. Wish me luck!


The Apartment


The Farm


The Apartment With A Yard

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wedding pics are up...

www.gretchenbookoutphotography.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1st Corinthians 13:4-8



By DoodleGraphics on Etsy

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Elissa "Baby Bump" Pics... gretchenbookoutphotography.blogspot.com

Hey all,
Check out my beautiful sister and her cute baby bump on my photography blog! They are expecting a boy in October!
Very excited to be an "Auntie" and can't wait to meet the little Miracle!

-G.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Curious Cat

Aster loves sitting in open windows right next to the screen. There's a neighborhood cat that roams the perimeter of our house and he likes to talk to it, his tail goes crazy and he cackles. I didn't open the window enough for him to sit in it, so he stood with his face smooshed next to the screen hoping to catch a glimpse of his friend. Love this furry little cat.