1.29.2012

Currently Obsessing Over...{Photography Edition}

Hey there! This COO (like how I abbreviated that?) is a day late and is posted late in that day, but it's a good one! Even though Justin and I have received our money from the school, I still haven't quite ordered my camera. I have decided to go with the Pentax, but I'm waiting to get it until our finances are more in order. We are still in the process of booking our trip to Disneyland (airfare is paid for though!) and today we got news that we have a coolant leak in our car. Hopefully its nothing big, but we need to be sure it is an easy/inexpensive fix before we do anything else.

Anyway, in anticipation of my camera, I have been totally obsessing over photography on Pinterest. So on my COO today, I decided to share a few of my favorite photos that I have discovered recently. There will be no description, just the photo and source. Enjoy!

1.
(via here)

2.
(via here)

3.
(via here)

4. 
(via here)

5.
(via here)

6.
(via here)

7.
(via here)

1.27.2012

Low Calorie Convenience Food Reviews

Ok I know that was a super boring title. I apologize. But it needed to get the point across. :)

This last week I have started something that slightly resembles a diet. I tried doing a diet last December, but dieting during the holidays takes more willpower than I have. However, I really need to lose a few pounds for summer. I have a few pairs of shorts that were getting too tight last summer and I have gained weight since then. :(

A few weeks ago I ran across this post on Kevin & Amanda and was inspired by how simple her diet was. Frozen meals, low-calorie sides, and fresh fruits and vegetables. know that frozen meals are not the best choice necessarily, but our schedule is so crazy right now they are a very easy option. I have a problem with portion control and these definitely help with that. I've been eating frozen meals for about a week now and I'm loving the ease with which I have been able to keep my daily caloric intake low. I haven't been counting my calories like Amanda, but I do read the nutritional information on almost everything I eat now. I've also been drinking only water, which has been difficult but awesome!

Anyway, for anyone looking for low-calorie and convenient options, here are a few yummy options that I have discovered!

(via here)

I love Indian food but Justin does not. So I really only ever have it once and a while. I was a little skeptical when I first bought this, but decided to give it a chance. Amy's Kitchen got really good reviews  online and it lived up to those reviews! This was so delicious that I even bought it a second time tonight! For about $3 I can get a filling, healthy, quick meal that tastes great? Count me in!

(via here)

So far this has been my second favorite meal. The rice is decent and the added vegetables are nice. But the potstickers are actually really good! I was a little concerned about how they would heat up in the microwave, but the consistency was good and the flavor in the sauce was good but not overpowering.

(via here)

Moving out of frozen foods and into snacks, these are my most recent favorite find! I haven't had the strawberry flavor yet, only the apple. But they are so delicious! With only 80 calories per pack, you get about 10 of these little clusters. I usually take a package of these with me to my 2-hour morning class and eat it during break. It helps me refocus and tide over the hunger until lunch. Definitely check these out!

(via here)

I haven't actually tried a Green (Spinach) Smoothie yet, but tomorrow's the day! I'm so excited to try one because I have only heard good things about them and they are really healthy! I've looked at a few different recipes, but this one looks the creamiest and has the most spinach in it, so I'm gonna give this one a try. :) I will let you know how it is!


Here are a few things I have been disappointed in:

(via here)

I was really hoping that Weight Watchers meals would be really good. I have made a few of their recipes and always been pleased. But this was just okay. The two I posted about above are much better. This one tastes too much like a microwave meal. If I am going to spend $2-3 per meal, I want it to taste unique, and this was just blah.

(via here)

I wanted something sweet to feel like I'm splurging without actually splurging, so I bought sugar-free pudding. Big mistake. At least with this flavor. I usually like vanilla pudding but this tasted way too thick and the flavor was way off. Luckily this was not too expensive so I don't feel too bad that I won't be finishing it. If you really want pudding, then just splurge and buy the real stuff. It doesn't have that many calories. 


So far those are the only things that I have found disappointing. It has been a really great experience so far and I am really looking forward to discovering new healthy products. I'm hoping to be able to do a few more posts like this as my "diet" continues. Keep in mind that I am only reviewing store bought products. I have also been snacking on carrot sticks, celery, bananas, apples, and grapes. So I am making sure I get fresh foods as well. :)

Do you have a favorite low-calorie snack or convenience food you love? I really want to hear about them if so! Leave your thoughts in the comments. :)

1.25.2012

Updates and Such

It's 11:00 pm here and I really need to go to bed. Because I also have to start a book for another class when I go to bed. Ugh. Anyway, sorry I have been lacking on the posts for the last few days. This semester is already in full gear and I can't get away!

Justin and I have pretty much completely opposite schedules this semester, which is super lame if you ask me. Really the only time we have together is after 7:00 or 8:00 in the evening. We usually spend it watching How I Met Your Mother and doing homework. We are awesome. But it has been a little lonely, especially since I am the one who has all of the early morning classes and he gets to sleep in. Jealousy.

That journalism class is already proving to be the challenge I was anticipating. But I am so incredibly excited to work on my writing! Not sure I will be posting the editorial on here like I originally thought. Think I'm gonna wait until I have a few more assignments under my belt and get a handle on this brevity thing. :) The next assignment is a column though, and that seems a lot like a blog. So maybe that will be more up my alley? We'll see.

The book that I am going to start reading tonight is a parenting book for my Christian Family class. And honestly I am extremely excited about it. I have tried getting some of my "boring" homework out of the way first so I can enjoy this book. As you may know, I have recently had a bout of baby fever and I'm afraid this book will only encourage it. So in celebration (and preparation for tonight's reading), here are a few of my recent favorite things for kids:

These might be the best things ever. (via here)


Love unique playhouses! (via here)


Kidlings + Audrey Hepburn = perfection! (via here)


I kind of want these on my bedroom wall now.... (via here)

What has been on your mind lately?

1.21.2012

Last Semester....

I can't believe it. I'm in my last semester of my undergrad degree. I just finished my first week of classes and, I won't lie, it has been incredibly hard to get back into the swing of things. I really enjoyed break. Right now even, I know I should be working on an article review due on Monday, yet here I sit. More than anything, I just want to pour my life into blogging, writing, crafting, and developing more of my interest in photography. But most of those things have to be put on hold for just a few more months. I'm trying really hard to focus and work hard, but I get easily distracted.

Luckily, so far I am really enjoying my classes this year. I'm taking a journalism class that I am really excited about. My writing preferences usually fall under blogging or creative writing. But I think journalism will help with both of those. I have a tendency to be more wordy than is necessary, so I am excited for the challenge of being more concise. First assignment is an editorial. If I'm happy enough with it, maybe it will show up on the blog! :)

I'm also taking Recent American History. My high school history classes usually didn't cover much of the last century and I love history, so this should be a really interesting class. We were assigned a year that had significant historical impact (I got 1989, and yes, it was just a coincidence that this is also the year I was born). Then we have to interview two people: someone that was at least 43 in 1989 and someone that was at least 23 in 1989. Although I often dislike assignments that require a lot of planning ahead on my part, this one should actually be really interesting.

Anyway, all of that to say that my classes this semester will probably actually spark some blogging thoughts. Love it when requirements overlap with passions! So keep an eye out for posts with ideas that may have originated in a classroom. :)

Currently Obsessing Over...

I usually try to post this earlier in the day, but I had to work 6 hours today. And I've had a continuous sinus headache for about the last two weeks, so it has taken me a bit more effort to put together a cohesive blog post. If this one seems a bit scattered, forgive me. But here is it. What I've been obsessing over recently. :)

1. The music of Jess Penner -  I found her recently on NoiseTrade. I check that site at least once a week, if not more. And if you are not doing the same, you are seriously missing out on some good stuff. Anyway, her music is absolutely gorgeous. It sounds like I want my blog to feel like. Mostly sweet, a little sassy, bubbly but relaxed. Just perfect. :)

2. DIS Boards - Here is the Disney geek in me coming out. Since the unofficial official planning for our June trip to Disneyland has begun, I have been stalking the forums at this site. The people are sweet and the information is helpful. I even started a Pre-Trip Report (hopefully to lead into a Trip Report after we return in June). If you want to read it, click here. Also, if you happen to be on the boards, hit me up! :)

3. This Engagement Shoot - I stumbled across this on Pinterest this week and just fell in love! It's a little bit more fantasy-based than I normally like, but the soft tones and the playfulness of the whole thing just captured my heart! I will give you a taste of my favorites below, but click the link to see the entire shoot.


4. This project - I first ran across this project on Tumblr and since then, I have seen a few blogs I follow repost it. The idea is so incredibly simple, yet the aesthetic it produces is so lovely! As soon as I find a book with pictures like that, I am most definitely doing this. To garage sales and used book stores!


1.19.2012

A Snow Day Dinner

Yesterday, in Idaho, it snowed. While I enjoy how the snow looks, I'm not a fan of it interfering with my plans. We haven't had time to put on our studded tires yet, so driving was sketchy. Therefore, I decided not to go to work yesterday. While it was a nice break, it just means that I will have to make up a lot of hours on Friday or Saturday. Oh well.

Since it was nasty outside, I stayed under a blanket on the couch and watched Last Chance Harvey. I also cleaned the kitchen some and made some more discoveries on how to save money on our upcoming trip to Disneyland. Plus, I got to watch American Idol for the first time in years! All in all, I'd say it was a pretty productive snow day. :)

But the thing I was most proud of was the dinner I cooked last night. Since I had some extra time, I decided that convenience food was not the way to go. I had a few recipes I had been wanting to try out, so I did!

It's not the best picture, but here is what my plate looked like before I ate it:


So what did I make? Pan-Grilled Chicken Tenderloins, my mother-in-law's famous rice pilaf, and mixed veggies, although I did the Steamfresh ones that you just microwave, so those were kind of cheater's veggies. The whole dinner was delicious, though. We even had the leftovers for lunch again today! Since it turned out so well, I decided to share the recipes with you!

Pan-Grilled Chicken Tenderloins

Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 cup zesty Italian dressing
  • 2 tsp. Lime juice
  • 3 tsp. Honey
Directions:
  1. Place chicken in gallon ziplock bag. Combine all other ingredients and pour over. Seal and marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Pour all ingredients into a large skillet and cook over medium heat until liquid evaporates and remaining marinade becomes thick and carmelized. 
  3. Coat each piece of chicken in marinade by rubbing it around on the bottom of the pan before removing it.

Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup vermicelli (broken up into small pieces)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 can chicken broth + 1/3 - 1/2 can of water
  • Basil, garlic salt, and seasoning salt

Directions:
  1. Melt butter and brown vermicelli. It should look almost burnt when you add the next step.
  2. Combine broth and water in a microwavable container and put in microwave for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add rice and seasonings, stir to heat. Seasonings vary depending on taste. I did a little less than a tablespoon of basil and about a teaspoon of the other spices.
  4. Add very hot broth and water. Be careful as it may make everything splash all over!
  5. Cover and reduce heat for about 20 minutes. Check occasionally. 
Anyway, both of these were pretty easy and very tasty! If you try them, let me know how they are!

1.18.2012

Upgrading the Camera

A while ago I posted about my goals for 2012. One of them was upgrading from my 4-year-old point-and-shoot to my first DSLR. Now that Justin and I know how much money we will be getting back from the school, I can finally seriously look into getting one! I will probably purchase it within the next month or so, but since I know I have some followers who are much more experienced in the photography world than I am, I wanted to get some opinions.

The main reason I want to pick one up soon is our upcoming trip to Disneyland. Yes, I also want one for the future to take pictures of wherever we move to, our future kids, and just life in general. But, the reason I want to get it soon is because of the trip, so take that into consideration when I explain what I want.

So, the first thing to purchase is, obviously, the camera. My dad, while still technically an amateur photographer, has been pursuing photography as a serious hobby for a number of years now, so I really trust his opinion. He has a Pentax and has been really satisfied with it. I know that Canon and Nikon are the two big brands, and yes, they are a little cheaper in the long run, but Pentax cameras have a lot of bonuses as well. The biggest one is that any Pentax lens made for a SLR camera will fit my camera. So if I pick up an old lens for cheap somewhere, I can use it. Anyway, here is the camera that I am looking at right now. I like the white to add a little uniqueness, and it is $30 cheaper. :)

(via Amazon)

Next thing to purchase is a case or bag of some sort. At first, I was looking at this neoprene case for the camera. I probably will not have any extra lenses by the time we go to Disneyland due to how much they cost so this would work. I also didn't want to carry around a camera bag because then I wouldn't be able to carry a bag with water, snacks, phone, etc. I was thinking this might be a nice alternative to that. Plus, I could make cute little felt pins to personalize it. :)

(via Amazon)

However, then I stumbled across this camera bag and I'm totally digging it. Because I probably won't have any extra lenses, I could store some of my extra things where the lenses would normally go. Plus, this one has a lot of outside pockets for things like phones and snacks. So now I'm wondering if I should just skip the neoprene case and go straight for this one? Or should I just get the neoprene case and wait to get a bag until I have more supplies to put in it?

(via etsy)

Another thing I would love to pick up before the trip is a nice camera strap. I'm sure the one that the camera comes with is fine, but I love to personalize anything I own. I love this one and think it would look really nice with the white camera. 

(via etsy)

There are a few other things I would love to get soon, but due to financial circumstances, it probably won't be for a while. I really want an external flash, but since this is the most inexpensive one (that is worth it) that I can find, this probably won't be a purchase very soon.

(via Amazon)

The next lens that I want to get is this one, a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I love the way pictures look when they are taken with this lens. Unfortunately, the Pentax version of this lens is pretty expensive, so this won't be for a while either. 

(via Amazon)

Anyway, that is what all of my research has led me to at this point. But I'm not stuck in my ways. :) If you are a photographer and have products that you really love, now is the time to convince me to buy them! Any advice for a photography newbie? I'm open to any and all opinions! Can't wait to hear them!

1.16.2012

Sherlock Holmes - A Review

(via here)

Over Christmas break, the husband and I bought some cheap movies at Walmart. It was great. And when we got home, we saw these awesome little coupons on the front for $7.50 off of a Warner Brothers movie ticket. So, last Thursday, we brought our coupons with us and saw Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows for a total of $5. Win.

We weren't the hugest fans of the first movie, but for me that was mainly because of the dark content within the story. I figured since this one would be a different story line, maybe I would like it better. But I still just feel "meh" about it all.

To me, it felt like a glorified action movie with a little bit of mystery thrown in. In fact, there really wasn't much mystery at all. In the end there were a few surprises, but they weren't an answer to a suspenseful story line. They were just proof of Sherlock's observation skills. We knew who the bad guys were from the beginning, we knew why they were bad, and we knew what they were doing. Maybe I missed something, but I don't think so.

I've also always had problems with their interpretation of Sherlock. I'm no expert, but I have read a few of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, and I just don't see Sherlock Holmes as a drug-rattled crazy man who happens to be good at observing. While he does seems eccentric in the books, I feel that the interpretation portrayed in the movies is almost too modern for the stories. But, like I said, I'm no expert and there may be reasons they chose to portray him like that. 

Overall, I'm not disappointed that we saw it, but I might have been if we had paid $20 to see it instead of $5. If you liked the first movie, you will probably like the second. But if you weren't a fan of the first, this one probably won't redeem it.  

1.15.2012

Proof That I Have Good Taste

Recently I have been daydreaming about how to decorate the next place that Justin and I live. We are hoping to upgrade to renting a small house wherever we live next, and ideally, it would be a three bedroom, two bath house. So I've been mentally decorating it like that and even started a Pinterest board to document my ideas.

Since I already have a shower curtain I love in the bathroom we have now, when I ran across this shower curtain at Urban Outfitters, I knew I had to put it in the imaginary second bathroom.


Later that day, I was browsing through the archives of A Beautiful Mess to get some more inspiration. I knew that she had recently done a series of tours of rooms in her house, but I hadn't really looked at them yet. So imagine my surprise, when looking at the photos of her bathroom, I came across this picture:


So now, if I get that second bathroom in our next place, Elsie Larsen and I will have something in common. :) Granted, my plan was (and still is) to pair this curtain with these gorgeous towels from Anthropologie:


Have you ever found items that you own (or want to own) on a popular blog or website before? It's kind of validating, isn't it? 

1.14.2012

Currently Obsessing Over...

1. Jefferson Bethke videos. These have been all over facebook the last few weeks and I finally just got around to watching them. This first one is pure truth:




This second one is a little more controversial among Christians. And I understand. I love the church and get a little touchy when people speak ill of it. It's full of broken people, and yes, some are hypocritical and judgmental. But if you really take the time to get to know those who love the Lord, then you will find some of the most kind, genuine, selfless people on this planet. At first I thought he was dragging down the church in this video, but luckily he made this comment on facebook:

"If you are using my video to bash "the church" be careful. I was in no way intending to do that. My heart came from trying to highlight and expose legalism and hypocrisy. The Church is Jesus' bride so be careful how you speak of His wife. If a normal dude has right to get pissed when you bash His wife, it makes me tremble to think how great the weight is when we do it to Jesus' wife. The church is His vehicle to reach a lost word. A hospital for sinners. Saying you love Jesus but hate the Church, is like a fiancé saying he loves his future bride, but hates her kids. We are all under grace. Look to Him."


If nothing else, this video has really sparked some great conversations, so take a look.





2. This adorable stop motion pregnancy video. Videos seem to be a theme of the day. :) But this one is much more light hearted. And it may be the cutest thing I've ever seen. I ran across it on little. lovely.




3. The music of Zach Williams. I have had his album, Story Time, on my computer for months (got it free from NoiseTrade) but I am just now getting around to listening it. And I'm kicking myself for waiting so long! This guy writes gorgeously emotional music and sets it to some bluesy tunes. It's kind of like a mix of Gungor, The Civil Wars, and Jason Walker. Here is my current favorite song from the album:



4. Eclectic Frame Walls. These have been all over Pinterest lately and I just can't get enough! I really want to do one in the blank space above our bed or our couch in the living room. Maybe both? Anyway, here are a few pictures to give you some inspiration.

(via here)

(via here)

(via here)

(via here)

What are you currently obsessing over?

1.13.2012

Everyone is Having a Baby....But Me

Okay, that's not actually true. But it sure feels like it sometimes. I'm not really complaining. I'm not trying to have a baby right now. But now that school is coming to a close and we are looking for a place to "settle down," it is hard not to let my mind drift off to baby land. It probably doesn't help that I have multiple facebook friends who are pregnant and that I intentionally seek out baby blogs....but anyway. I usually get anxious about babies during a certain time of the month (usually right before something else happens, if you catch my drift).

I'm pretty sure my husband thinks babies are contagious and he gets nervous whenever I am around a baby or a pregnant woman for too long. But he knows that sometimes I just need to talk about the desire to procreate, so he will at least smile and say "cool" whenever I discuss babies. And while sometimes I do wish that we could become parents soon, I know that it will be all worth it to continue with our original timeline.

If we follow that timeline, then we will be settled somewhere so I can have the same doctor the entire pregnancy. We can also go to Disneyland one last time before kids and I can enjoy all of the rides. :) And if we follow our timeline, then I can start decorating as soon as I want since we won't have to move.  So sometimes I just have to let logic overpower hormones. That is what keeps me going for right now. That and staring at baby stuff and dreaming.

Speaking of the latter, I read this adorable blog called Tunes and Spoons and the author, Rachel, is due to have her baby girl, Evaleigh Joy (gorgeous name), very soon! Today, she posted the pictures of the finished nursery and it is so lovely. Vintage and eclectic and just perfect. So, as a reward for making it through my ramblings, here are the beautiful photos of EJ's nursery:
















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