Monday, December 31, 2012

¡Panza Llena, Corazón Contento!

Full belly, happy heart.

My favorite restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico is Cafe Pasqual's.  In a rather delightful and spontaneous turn of events, I was able to enjoy one of my last meals of 2012 at Cafe Pasqual's. 
Spending any time in Santa Fe will most certainly guarantee a full belly. 

My happy heart has come from lots of leisurely family time, dedicating time to my home, and a birthday/holiday season full of quality time with the people that mean so much to me.

All the best for a wonderful, happy, healthy, well intended, and accomplished New Year.

Bring it 2013...

(brief, but needed update via the iPad)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fabulously Easy Chocolate Chip Cheesecake (no water bath)

Once upon a time this recipe was one of my favorite standbys for a special dessert occasion. I loved it because it was the only fool proof cheesecake recipe I found, after trying many, that didn't use a water bath. To me a water bath is just another thing for me to mess up. This recipe is so basic, I hope you find yourself turning to it more often than not. Before you know it, your friends and family will be requesting you bring dessert to the next gathering! 

As you will see, this recipe is very basic and simply delightful and a refreshing alternative to a flour based cake. 

Crust:
2 cups chocolate wafers crumbled finely
6 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling:
3 pkgs of cream cheese
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3 Large eggs
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Crust Preparation:
Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter. Note, my local grocery store does not carry Oreo crumbs, so I buy chocolate wafer cookies and break them up myself. I have used chocolate graham crackers in a pinch, but I do not prefer them over the wafers. Press into 10" spring form pan and 1" up sides. Freeze crust for 15-30 minutes while preparing filling. 

Turn on oven, 225 oven rack in center. 

Filling Preparation:
1. Blend cream cheese and sugar, 3 minutes medium speed.
2. Reduce to low speed, add eggs, one at a time.
3. Scrape bowl sides.
4. Add whipping cream and vanilla, beat 3 minutes medium speed.
5. Pour 3/4 of the filling into the crust.
6. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
7. Add remaining filling.

Bake 1 hour 15 minutes (225 degrees). Turn off oven, leave door closed 1-1.5 hours. 

Refrigerate for 8 hours. 

Enjoy! 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

At Six, The World Is Her Oyster

This week G turned six. Six years old looks like two missing front teeth, a Judy Moody chapter book under her arm, matching outfits with her new look alike American Girl, all while balancing on her new 2 wheeled scooter that has light up wheels.

I envision six bursting with even more incredible milestones, as she fully comprehends that sure enough, the world is her oyster.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's All Good

As I tugged and yanked the slipcover off my favorite white chair, I may have cursed my love hate relationship with it yet one more time. I allowed too much time to pass in between washings and I was appalled with it's current murky condition. As I walked to the laundry room it took a simple fixation on a little blue spot to get a tidal wave of thoughts rolling through my mind.

I'm done settling...

I've settled for a long time with notions such as that's just how things are, it's all too much, that's how he's always been, that's what she's like, and the comfort of there's always tomorrow. I'll start tomorrow or Monday, the inevitable Monday promise that winds up coming and going like there's no tomorrow. Hardy har har. All of those notions? Settling.

As the water rushes from the backside inner lip of the washing machine I snap out of my thoughts. I convince myself the stains will come out, like they always do. I walk out of the laundry room and look directly into the mirror. It takes me a moment to look deep into my eyes and even though I notice every one of my flaws, I embrace that I don't have tolerance for inauthenticity. I accept the wrinkles, the blemishes on my chin, and the worst haircut I've ever had. I turn away oddly enough smiling, knowing in my heart, it's all good.

It's all good.

What Is This Wii U Everyone Is Talking About?

There's no doubt in my mind that we look to Nintendo to give us the next generation in gaming technology, but honestly Wii U is beyond what I ever could have imagined.  You really have to see it to believe it, so here's a glimpse of a video that was shot at the Wii U preview event I attended back in August. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Tips: GMO News! Vote With Your Dollars!!!

Let's face it, every dollar you spend is like a vote. When you walk into a market, the way you shop is directly correlated to the products that grocery store stocks on it's shelves. Unfortunately in this day and age, companies have become savvy about their packaging and it's hard to know if you are supporting a small mom and pop company or a global food conglomerate.

This just happened to us tonight, my husband was holding a Dagoba Chocolate bar in his hand. It's got the paper wrapper, it's organic, the labeling is top notch, the cacao is Rainforest Alliance certified and my husband was SHOCKED when I told him it was a Hershey product. Is it really that big of a deal, picking up a candy bar that looks full of integrity, but all profits go to Hershey? Up until last month, I may have given you a different answer, but after the Proposition 37 (right to label GMO initiative) failure in California, I have very small wiggle room in my tolerance for the companies I support.

Proposition 37 opposition raised $46,000,000 in support from chemical companies and Big Food. Proposition 37 supporters raised $9,000,000 from small organic companies and organizations.


Here's a list of companies that top my grocery list, every time I shop (GREEN), this chart is not representative of the final tallies in dollars from the Prop 37 fight, the totals above are:

Click to Enlarge! 

In search of more information on the conglomerates that own Organic Companies, read this post

Monday, December 3, 2012

All Roads Point Within

Courage is recognizing one's weakness, but having the confidence to accomplish what you set your mind to. In the past few months I had so many days of facing situations that made me uncomfortable (example, walk in closet) that I finally drew the line. Enough was truly enough. I held onto to a thread of hope, a simple notion of how I wanted my home to feel. Wheels of motion set a plan of action into place and literally within moments I could feel the confidence to keep the momentum going. I'm still working towards creating a space that feels representative of our family, but I am no longer overwhelmed by how much I was disconnected to my space.

Which leads me, to me. 

I took for granted the routines I had set to help keep my body and mind in a good place, a place where I was content. I'm back to a darker place, a place full of negative thoughts, and a place where I am feeling defeated. Which means it is absolutely time to do the work. Time to establish my healthy routines again and start feeling better about putting on a pair of jeans. If I owned a scale, I would latch onto a number that I am sure would anger me. Instead, I'm just going to focus on how I want my jeans to slip over my hips with ease and how a belt instead of a roll of fat would be a great addition to my look. 

Shoes on, pavement your about to get pounded...

--

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Celebrating 21 Years

Today Josh and I will celebrate 21 years of being together. It's our original anniversary, the anniversary we celebrated for 6 years before getting married. By my calculations it's a celebration of spending 5 years of sleeping together, with an average of 6 hours of sleep per night.  It's a celebration of having the courage to pick up and move across the country, having faith in chasing our dreams, and living that dream in Boulder, Colorado the place we call home. It's a celebration of living together in four apartments, a rental house, and now the second home we own. It's a celebration of two of the best things we created as a part of our commitment to love, our amazing daughters.

It's a celebration of opening a door at a party as a teenager and recognizing something incredibly charming about the young man you just met. It's about friendship first, just the right timing, and resilience, it's about give and take, and picking your battles. It's a celebration of sticking it out and knowing what's on the other side when we power through the hard times. It's about recognizing just how far we've come and that would be a long way baby.

It's about cherishing one of the greatest gift a human being can know, a soul mate.

It's about love.

----

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Books To Inspire Home Organization!

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about craving space. Looking back, I consider the place that I was coming from as rock bottom. I felt so incredibly overwhelmed by what I wanted to accomplish in my home, but knew if I just persevered I could indeed create the harmony I was craving.

  • One truck load, even with the cab full of stuff to a local charity.
  • One huge week of trash pickup, imagine 2 cans full, bags, odds and ends propped up next to the cans. Imagine me hiding behind the curtains to see if they would TAKE IT ALL! 
  • One straight week of work.

I've arrived at a place that I feel more at home in. I'm almost there, but need to still take care of some miscellaneous spaces and sell a few high ticket items. We did donate 95% of the stuff we got rid of, but decided it would be worth our time to auction or craigslist items that were in excellent shape and of good value.

My journey was inspired and nurtured by a few books:


It's All Too Much, An Easy Plan For Living A Richer Life With Less Stuff by Peter Walsh 
Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin
Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley "The Fly Lady"
Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones

I started with Peter's book, I enjoyed his style of decluttering and helping people work through their stuff on his TLC show years ago called Clean Sweep. I believe he now has a show on Oprah's Network called Enough Already. Peter really has a no nonsense approach to tackling your clutter problem. Once I let go of the excuses and started to do the work, I was amazed at how quickly I began to feel confident and gained momentum.

One of my biggest hurdles was our one and only storage closet. It's a walk in closet off of our guest room, it's 11.5 feet by 7 feet and just last month, I COULD BARELY WALK INTO IT. It was my dumping zone, I would sort out things, throw piles of the girls' stuff into a laundry basket and plop it into the walk in closet. It become a nagging sore spot to me, I started to keep the guest room door closed, trying to forget what was just a closed door away.

Today, my closet looks like this:


I wish I had the courage to take photos before, but honestly I couldn't do it. ALL of our files are down to one bin (right corner, blue lid), the striped boxes behind it are the girls' artwork and school mementos, the top shelf green bins are 2 Christmas, 1 Easter/Halloween. The shelf straight ahead to the left is games, puzzles, some toys, and organized items such as ribbon, stationary, etc.

The best part of the photo above? You can tell it's a CEDAR closet, it's not so jam packed with stuff from floor to ceiling that you can't even see the walls! Open space. I have empty shelves and lots of hanging space for the future! It feels so great to know that closet is no longer bursting at the seams.

I also worked my way through all the other closets in our home, our cabinets, my pantry, the buffet! No space was left untouched. What a feeling.

On a related and random note, during this entire process, I also purged my hair. I'm still warming up to it... I cut about 5 inches off!


Best of luck if you are ready to do the work! Have a little faith and a lot of patience and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, no matter how overwhelming the task feels.