Monday, June 15, 2020

The time for actions is now

I’ve missed my blog.

Admittedly a lot has been on my mind and although blogging has always been therapeutic to me it has been the last place I’ve wanted to be. I’m incredibly sad, frustrated and angry that this post I wrote in 2013 regarding Trayvon Martin still rings very true seven years later. I am hopeful because I am seeing a lot more people speak up against the injustice Black people have continued to face versus sitting quiet because let's be honest a lot of the issues that affect Black communities do not affect them at all. That has been the silver lining in all of this. I am truly trying to stay hopeful and do much more than just pray. Praying is great and all but Faith without works is dead. And don’t get me started on how churches have chosen to stay quiet about racism for centuries but I digress … I’ve been educating myself on these issues ever since Trayvon Martin and I’ll continue to do so. These issues are not a trend, these are issues that have plagued the Black community for way too many years and people who want to fight along with us are all welcomed. Be sure that when you join this fight you are all in. There is no what ifs ... with us, or against us.

I think that’s pretty simple and it should have been for centuries.
Black Lives Matter to me. And it should for you too.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

RECIPE TO TRY: CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

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So, since I posted the cinnamon swirl loaf recipe I’ve baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch (three times!) and made two loaves of zucchini bread. I haven’t baked bread yet but it’s on the list as well as a decadent chocolate cake. It’s funny how I look forward to baking these days and I have a feeling that this is something that I’ll continue to enjoy once life resumes to “normal’.

I came across this chocolate chip cookie recipe on Kat’s blog and although I haven’t tried every chocolate chip cookie recipe this one is pretty darn good. So if she’s claiming it’s the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, then I’ll just nod my head and agree. I find the recipe to be easy and straightforward so you can’t mess up especially since I was that person who had never made chocolate chip cookies from scratch before. The only tip I would add if you’re a beginner baker (like me) is that when you take the cookies out of the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes and then transfer it to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes. They are incredible! Warm, gooey and chewy, just the way I love a chocolate chip cookie to be. The day after I made the cookies I put one in the microwave for about 10 seconds and they were as if they had just come out of the oven. I’m sure I’ll be baking them again this weekend. I did halve the recipe like she recommended since it's only Sean and me eating the cookies and because self-control, what's that?

BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE

1 cup unsalted butter softened (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (dark or light doesn’t make a difference)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp hot water
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg one by one, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and add to the batter. Stir in the salt, flour, and chocolate chips. Scoop spoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

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I hope you are well and that you have a wonderful weekend! ♥

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Instant mood lifter

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Flowers have always been appreciated by me but these days they seem even more valuable. I'm finding them to be an instant mood lifter as it's difficult not to crack a smile when I see them scattered around the house. And honestly, these days it seems I need all the smiles I can get. Since I currently can't get them as frequently as I use to, I'm treasuring them a lot more these days; doing all I can to extend their lives for just a few extra days.

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The next time you go grocery shopping be sure to pick some up ... dare I say
that I find them to be very essential during this time.

I hope you all are well and safe. xoxo ♥

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A drive to nowhere

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A little over two weeks ago, Sean suggested that we go for a ride to nowhere and put on clothes as if we were going somewhere. I was a bit hesitant because I thought the suggestion was a little silly as I’m perfectly OK with wearing only lounge wear during this time. But also because being outside at any given time was making me incredibly anxious.

The thing is that I am fully aware that getting fresh air while practicing social distancing is perfectly fine but try convincing my worrisome self. It was difficult getting me to relax while I was outside even while I was doing all I could to be safe.

I told myself that I did not want this time in life to create a problem where I was afraid to go outside because I was finding myself making all sorts of excuses not to take our dogs for walks, etc. I reluctantly agreed.

And I’m glad I did because that day changed a bit of how I behave now. Just being in the car, listening to our favorite songs was enough to transport me to anxious free days. When we ended up by a river we got out of our car and took in the fresh air, feeling grateful for the moment. That day I found out that that fresh air is good for mind, body and soul; it's not just a cliché saying.

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And well, dressing up to go nowhere … well that isn’t so bad either.
Funny thing is that I didn’t even notice that Sean didn’t exactly dress up until I reviewed these images, ha.

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I've been saying this phrase a lot lately but really, what a time to be alive!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Easter Dinner 2020

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Easter was certainly different this year as I'm sure it was for all of you but it was good nonetheless.

We’ve had a tradition of buying a turkey and freezing it for several months prior to Easter. We purchase the turkey months in advance as we’ve run into the situation in the past where Easter rolls around and a turkey is no where to be found. Well, how fortunate we were this year because I’m pretty certain that we would not have found a turkey this year.

This year, we felt pretty grateful to celebrate Easter together. Our health in tact and our love for each other in tact.

Sean requested that we have our Easter dinner the day before Easter and I think it is because he wanted to eat turkey two evenings in a row. But it ended up being a great suggestion because when Sunday rolled around we already had dinner ready.

Setting our dining table:

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Our Easter dinner closely resembles our Thanksgiving dinner and we wouldn't have it any other way. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing with dried cranberries, corn, roasted green beans, gravy and red wine. Our wine came from a winery in Sonoma and was incredible; my favorite Pinot Noir to date. I’ve already ordered two more bottles and I’m looking forward to receiving them. They currently have a 30% off promotion in case you want to take advantage. It is a lot of food for just two people (we intended to host Easter dinner in our house this year) but we had left overs for days and froze the remaining turkey as I plan to make turkey chili or turkey soup soon. It has been unseasonably cold the last week so soup sounds really good.

Carving the turkey which Sean learned how to properly do from YouTube after all these years, haha.

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On another note, I find that picking up my camera and snapping pictures at every possible angle makes me feel good. It’s something that has always been consistent in my life so it makes me feel ... normal. So, I’m making note to pick up my camera more often even if it means taking pictures of the remote control.

I hope you all had wonderful Easter weekends. Take care & stay safe! ♥

Thursday, April 9, 2020

One day at a time

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I'm thinking that Thursdays can serve as my weekly blog update as we ride out this storm.

Last week was rather rough. I suffer from seasonal allergies so you can just imagine that every symptom started to bring out the paranoia in me. And although I’ve limited the amount of news I consume, I still had the tightest chest and at times felt like I could not breathe. I was finding myself feeling extremely worried for Sean. Sean works for Amazon and is not a person that stresses or worries easily and well, if he says he’s a bit stressed that’s a major thing to hear. I’m proud of him for being the person who spoke up and for being the person who is now in charge of all the social distancing efforts at his job. He is stressed because with everything going on, he still has to do his job which is already demanding. But if there is anyone who can assist in the safety of his employees it is him because he does not play politics. He is honest and good luck trying to change his mind about something once it has been made up. We came up with a system that we both agreed to when he gets home from work so that has helped.

I’ve had to talk myself down more than I can count but I find that this scripture “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” said multiple times then taking a deep breath has helped to calm the anxiety.
Instead of us, I say me.

Hearing daily about friends being exposed and having to quarantine and knowing that a lot of them can’t quarantine properly doesn’t help. Hearing of health professionals who have lost their lives trying to save others breaks my heart. I’m praying hard and find myself with tears running down my face as I pray for everyone. For people I know, for people I don’t know; I just want us all to conquer COVID-19.

Something that has helped tremendously is to have worship music played all day. There’s nothing like worship music to take away some anxiety. As I navigate this new way of life, I am slowly figuring out what helps me and what does not help me. Reading articles surrounding COVID-19 and watching the news simply does not help me. But focusing on the things that I can control helps me. So, if that means, coming through the garage and throwing my clothes in the washer as soon as I get home from grocery shopping that’s what I’ll do. If that means wiping down everything we bought in the grocery store with sanitizing wipes that’s what I’ll do. If that means spraying disinfectant on my shoes or having packages sit outside for several days before bringing it into the house, that’s what I’ll do. If that means drinking an intense amount of tea with honey and lemon, that’s what I’ll do. You get the point, but focusing on what you can control versus what you can’t makes a huge difference.


I’ll bring this post to a close with a few things that has sparked joy in the last few weeks.


We finally purchased a snake plant to put in front of the large window in our sitting area.
I don’t think the yellow planter will stay but it’s good for now. A cheery, happy color.

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The azalea bush in front of our house has bloomed. Although it’s bittersweet that they won’t be around for much longer and I haven’t really been able to enjoy them since I’m leaving our house less and less; it still sparked some joy and made me want to capture its beauty which is always a good sign for me.

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My dog’s joy of having someone in the house 24/7. They are living their best life and are loving being let out a million times a day. I don’t know what they’re going to do when I go back to work but for now they are some happy pups. Izabella’s winter coat is already shedding and her black fur is turning brown which has always sparked happiness in me because I know that warmer weather is coming. Even if staying at home is extended we’ll soon be able to enjoy our backyard. I’m looking forward to eating out on our deck, sitting in my hammock while reading a book and possibly having the first picnic in our backyard.

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John Krasinski’s ‘Some Good News’ has been an instant mood lifter and I’m finding myself looking forward to a new episode each week. Thank God for him finding a way to keep us all sane during this trying time. We don’t only want good news, we thrive on good news. If you haven’t yet watched, I highly recommend you YouTube it. There has only been two episodes thus far so there’s time to catch up.

This absolutely beautiful and inspiring book.

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A sunny (and clean) kitchen

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Being able to do laundry during the day. Game changer! :)

I will end this post to say that we’re all going through similar emotions but we are all handling it differently. Know that however way you’re handling it is OK as long as you’re not putting yourself or others at risk. Find what sparks joy in you and do that thing everyday. Please stay safe and well.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Recipe to try: Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

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Earlier this year, I noted that one of my goals this year was to bake more. I love to cook but baking has never been something I've enjoyed due to exact measurement requirements. But I put it on my goals for this year as it’s something I decided I wanted to be better at in the kitchen. Also, I find baking to be something that requires patience and I'm working on that too.

Now that our weekends have freed up considerably there is no better time than now to start baking. So, on our last grocery shopping trip, I picked up some flour and yeast. I’ve never purchased yeast before, yet alone used it but I'm told that I need it if I want to bake some homemade bread.

I am aware that this might be something frivolous to blog about considering everything happening in the world; but I’ve decided that my blog shouldn’t be the place you get news on COVID-19. There are far more experienced people who are sharing the news surrounding it and doing a standup job. With that being said, here’s the recipe for the cinnamon swirl loaf that I found on @erincsousa's Instagram. She notes that it is her mom's recipe and it's a wonderful one at that.

RECIPE: CINNAMON SWIRL LOAF

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp real vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder

TOPPING:

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

HOW TO:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line loaf pan with parchment paper * Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl * Mix sour cream and baking soda in a bowl, set aside * In large mixing bowl, blend softened butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy * In separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Alternate with sour cream mixture into your butter mixture ensuring you don’t over mix * Layer batter into your loaf pan: one layer batter, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar, swirl with a knife, add second layer of batter and sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar, swirl with knife * Bake for about 45 min, checking with a knife or toothpick for doneness.

She notes that this recipe doubles and freezes beautifully!

It turned out so good and I was surprised. I kept on telling myself not to get upset if this was all a waste of ingredients. I didn’t have parchment paper on hand so I used aluminum foil and coated it with cooking spray. I also did not have sour cream on hand so I soften some cream cheese in the microwave and added some milk to get that sour cream consistency and it worked! It’s amazing all the things you can substitute when you would rather not go to the grocery store.

Sean absolutely loved it and we finished the entire loaf in two days, just the two of us. I already can’t wait to make it again.
Next on my list is to make some homemade bread! I’ll share how that goes once I bake it.

I hope you all are doing well and are staying safe ♥