Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Favorite Salad: So Easy and Delicious!

      Well, you may or may not have noticed that I haven't exactly been posting many recipes.  That is because I basically took a hiatus from cooking - especially new recipes.  I have been in surviving mode, not that anything is so hard, but it felt hard to get food on the table.  We also do have the privilege of owning a restaurant, so we have been eating from there a bit more this summer.  Good thing the girls love chicken.  That said, last night we had friends over, and I made these Apple Pecan Brie Sandwiches and thought they should be accompanied by a tasty salad.  Enter - my favorite salad.  It is a knock off of the "ZaZa" by ZaZas restaurant here in Little Rock.


Here's what you need.

Spinach Leaves
Goat Cheese
Glazed Walnuts
Dressing of Choice (mine is Balsamic Vinaigrette)

Throw the spinach in, and then top with blueberries, chopped strawberries, crumbled Goat Cheese and Glazed Walnuts.  There you have it.  How easy was that?


This is a salad that I have realized I could easily consume over and over again.  I like it that much.  Last night I added warm chopped chicken, because we needed a little more protein in our dinner, and I liked it with the chicken as well.  Seriously, so tasty.  And easy, since you can purchase the ingredients basically ready to go for you.  Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Little Blog about Blogging

      I have been blogging consistently for several months now and have found it to be a really great outlet for me.  I enjoy sharing projects and recipes, as well as keeping up with and documenting our little world with two little friends.  Mostly, it has been really fun, and I have found that it fits who I am very well.  There are a couple of things that concern me about it, and I just want to be upfront about the kinds of things that I think and wrestle with.
      I read this post by my dear friend Stefanie about selfish ambition, and it has haunted me since then.  (Thanks for the encouragement, Stef!)  It spoke to me on several levels, because I relate to the struggle of making anything all about me and my own glory, instead of about the Lord.  I wish that I could have pure motives!  I wish that the weed of selfish ambition were not always creeping into my heart and mind.  I wish that I didn't want anyone that reads this blog to think I am great and wonderful (which I am not.).  If I am not careful, blogging can feed this inside of me.  The positive feedback and good reception can go to my head, and I can think that I am much cooler than I am.  Basically, I can think a lot more about myself than I ever should.  I want to glorify the Lord with my time and energy, and I hope that my writings and experiences can be an encouragement to those who read them - not a pat on my back.
      I have several things brewing in my head about ways to leverage the influence that we have in our lives to do good things.  I am not ready to share them, because I am not sure which direction they will head or what will come of them.  I am still praying and thinking about what I believe God wants for me to do with the time that I am given, and I have to be honest, it is hard to figure that out.  Stef quoted 1 Thessalonians 4:11 - "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you."  This is the verse that was taught on in a sermon that helped John and I decide to go into Chick-fil-A.  Sometimes I definitely get ahead of myself and try to do more than I should, and I never want to steal time from my husband and children in ways that would not be healthy for our family.  It is hard to know what to do with the gifts that He gives us.
      So, that may have been way more information or insight than you wanted, but it is where I am at.  I really do love blogging and the little world that it is becoming for me.  Thanks for reading - I really do appreciate it!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Project: Glitter Bottle

      Ahh, Pinterest, you have done it again.  You have inspired me to immediately try something that looked just right for my girls.  And, it was easy and cheap and fun.  If you have babies or toddlers, this is something that belongs in your life.  I saw these pinned to Pinterest from this blog and thought I should try it.  Glitter Bottles.  Genius.


I was thinking, "What clear plastic bottles do I have around my house that I could use for this?"  Sometimes I annoy myself - since I drink about 3 of these a day, I have a ready supply of clear bottles.  Please ask if you need one for yourself.


This is all that I used to complete our glitter bottles.


I was really sad that the little mirrors didn't fit inside the bottle opening - those would have been awesome floating through the water.  I did discover that sports drink bottles have wider openings, so you might try one of those if you want bigger things to float inside your bottle.  I had Lily help me with this project, which was mostly really fun.  I followed the instructions from the tutorial and filled the bottles partially with water, and then let Lily poke things into them.


I chose a mixture of things that would float to the top and sink to the bottom so that each time you flip it, things are switching places.  Such fun.

Picnik collage

After making sure that it worked, I used hot glue to seal it shut.  First, I put hot glue all around the inside of the lid and screwed it on while it was still hot - hopefully sealing it.


Then, I added a ring around the bottom of the lid once it was secured on the bottle.


So much fun.  These have endless possibilities - you could do specific colors for Christmas or Easter - or match them to a party as party favors.  Seriously - the sky is the limit.


I have decided that they will be car toys only for us, so hopefully they will not get old and provide quiet entertainment in the car.  So far, I have been very pleased with the results.  Bella loves hers.


So, there you have it.  Make one (or more) today.  Thanks, Pink Pistachio for the fantastic idea!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pete and Repeat

      Pete and Repeat were sitting in a boat.  Pete fell out.  Who was left?  Lily.
Having someone that will repeat anything and everything that I say in exactly the same intonation is a bit alarming.  Example.  She has started saying to Bella, "No, ma'm, Bella.  Stop whining.  We do not whine."  I have to choke back my sarcasm at the irony in this statement.  It does regularly make me think about what I say, which is a good check.  I want her to be encouraging and say things that honor the Lord, which means that is what I must model.  No pressure or anything.  We have also caught her saying, "I love you so much" to Bella, which makes my ♥ so happy.  ♥
      Yesterday I discovered that Pet Smart is actually a poor man's, air-conditioned, scaled-down Zoo.  We went in to get new cat food dishes and stayed 45 delightful minutes.  The fish were especially thrilling.  (all slightly blurry phone pics . . .)

b fish
l fish
both fish

In other random news, I have been trying to figure out how to best organize my time and energy.  I have so many projects and ideas floating around my head, as well as things that must be done, that last night I spent time writing it all out.  It was several small pages worth of "To Do" and "Want To Do."  And you know, doing that in and of itself make me feel like I was creative and productive.  I should make these lists more often, just for that feeling.
      Last night on Pinterest, I saw a sign that said, "Thank You Pinterest for making me feel creative even though I have just been sitting at my computer for the past three hours."  I laughed out loud, because this is so true.  There is definitely inspiration overload out there, and I often find that I need a road map for getting the projects all done.  Road Map is now checked off the list.  Be warned, there is much fun ahead on the John and Carol Show.  Stay tuned.
      Happy Weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Gift of Community

      Tuesday night we had Community Group.  It was a normal night - we ate dinner, we talked through the chapter in the book we are reading, and then we shared prayer requests and prayed together.  We reveled in not having the children with us.  We laughed - a lot.  We shared hard things from inside our hearts.  Later that night, as John and I were talking about it, I realized (all over again) that we are so blessed to be able to live in community with like-minded souls who are seeking to live lives that please the Lord.  What a gift.

Every good gift
(photo by the amazing Luke Davis from our Canada trip - I added the text.)

I feel like we get to see glimpses of heaven through our group.  I cannot imagine living life without other people, and I am so thankful that God designed us for fellowship.  He knew that in the midst of all of the heartache and joys that life can offer, that we would need safe places.  Places to be really known and loved.  Places to be encouraged, and for us, our community group is that place.  It takes work, because you have to be vulnerable, which often shows the messiness that it is easier to hide, but the payoff is so big!
      My heart is overwhelmingly grateful to God that we are allowed this opportunity during this time, and I am thankful to each family in our community group for helping us to see more of Him through their lives.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gulf Shores Wrap Up and Re-Entry

      Well, Monday morning we drove away from the beach.  Insert sad faces here.  I ran out Monday morning to get a few last shots of the beach.



Here's our take on Gulf Shores - it really is great.  We had a fantastic trip, and I feel like there would have been more to do and see if we had wanted to stay longer.  For the length of time that we were there, hanging out at the beach and the pool worked perfectly for our little family with little friends.  We have heard Gulf Shores called the "Redneck Riviera" since so many people from the SouthEast vacation there, but it was really nice.  I felt like it was really similar to Destin, though Destin has prettier water, but for the hour and a half or more that we save in the car, we will be heading to Gulf Shores for years to come, since all other things seem pretty equal.  We really enjoyed staying at the Beach Club, on the bottom floor.


There were four towers there, but since we went after school started, it was already pretty empty, which was awesome.  We love going places just after or before the peak season, when the weather is still nice, but when you won't be fighting with loads of people everywhere you go.

Things I want to always remember from this trip include: John telling stories to Lily at night about Princesses Tilly and Stella.  The way Lily talked about going to "our condo" and her enthusiasm about the beach and how she sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" at the top of her lungs during her "nap."  Seeing Bella really become a baby on the move by crawling everywhere and the way she started saying "Ma ma ma" though I know she doesn't know what she is saying yet.  How simple and joyful it is to just be together, without any expectations or things we need to check off of lists.  My heart is full of thankfulness for this time.  Thank you, Lord.

Our drive home was much better than we ever imagined it could be with Lily.  Here she is helping us get packed.


Bella blew out her diaper and clothes in the first hour (which she hasn't done in months) and was dressed like this most of the day, since we didn't feel like digging out more clothing.  Such a cute diaper dandy.

They watched Tangled twice and Finding Nemo twice.  I still have the songs from Tangled playing in my head, but I am glad that she likes that one, because it is super cute.  This car trip made us think we may actually attempt road trips in the future, if we can have well-behaved children.  I mean, there were some bad moments, but they were few and far between and did not take over the whole of the trip as they have in the past.  What a blessed improvement!
      Monday night Bella slept all the way through the night without crying for the first time since the teeth started, which is fabulous.  However, in a dramatic turn of events, we got a phone call from the store alarm company around 12:30 telling us that the power at our store had been surging.  So, John had to run up to the store in the middle of the night to check on things (owning a restaurant is really glamorous), and though everything turned out fine, it took a while to get all sorted out and back to sleep.
      John is getting back into the swing of things at work, and I am trying to get our house more organized before starting any more projects.  Here's hoping I can make some progress on that since I sort of detest doing it.  I like it when it is over, though, which is worth the work.  I think.  I hope.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gulf Shores: Day Three

      On Day Three, we did a variety of things, because we could, because it was vacation.  We started by trying to get some nice beach pictures as a family.  This was humorous for several reasons.  1.  We didn't bring along my professional photographer brother-in-law this time around, so we had to do it ourselves.  2. I forgot our little remote, meaning that we had to do it on self-timer.  3.  It was flipping hot at 9 a.m. on the beach, so John and I were feeling more grumpy about it than the girls were, though it was all my scheme.  4.  We have a toddler and a baby who are not cooperative, though, to be fair, they weren't not helpful, they just don't really get the point of it all.  All of that said, I do like the pictures we got, though the girls are not looking at the camera.  These are actually the only two we took.


      When we tried for some of just the girls, it was only epic failure.  Alas, I don't really blame them - it was hot.  I made their seer-sucker dresses with whale applique' inspired by some I saw by a friend on Facebook and matching bows - I do love how they turned out.


Poor, hot babies.  We quickly changed into swimsuits and came back down for more fun in the sand.  John caught a jellyfish in a bucket.


We realized that the jellyfish definitely were out more in the morning, and by 11, we couldn't see any at all, which was a relief.  The girls enjoyed the kiddie pool, and John and I each got a girl and waded out into the waves, which was so relaxing and just the right temperature.

Picnik collage

How's this for a mustache?  Or shall we say, crabstache?

(I am always so thankful God put me with him.  ♥)

I mentioned that Bella really enjoyed her Goldfish - here's some evidence.


I don't even know how she did that.  After the morning at the beach, we decided it was time to retire from beach fun and get cleaned off.  The foot shower was the perfect height for baby girl.

Picnik collage

After cleaning up, lunch and naps (and more Cupcake Wars - a marathon!), we headed out for ice cream - one of my favorite vacation activities.  We hit up Scoops, which had a long line the night before, so we figured it must be good, and it did not disappoint.

Picnik collage

Then, we walked along the beach on the boardwalk, reflecting on how unusual it is for us to just take a stroll.  Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of time together to enjoy one another.


That night we had the distinct pleasure of going to eat at Lulu's, a place recommended by everyone, and now I know why.  It had sand for the kids to play in, live music, and lots of great atmosphere.  In a funny coincidence, we found out through Facebook that some friends of ours were also in town, and we got to meet them there for dinner.  It was great to see them and catch up again, and Lily warmed up much more than she normally does.

Picnik collage

It was another great day, and I was sad to see it end.  Tomorrow I will post a vacation wrap up and re-entry post, since we are right in the thick of it now.