Friday, June 15, 2012

Pinterest Find Friday for Summer!

Happy Friday everyone! Can you believe we are already half way through the month of June!? Can it really be summer already!? I'll be honest and say that summer is not my favorite season. I would much rather enjoy a cup of hot apple cider, a crisp Autumn breeze and brightly colored changing leaves. I am however learning the joy of all the seasons, though I have to work a bit harder to enjoy the winter months especially after Christmas. I do feel blessed to live in a place where I get a glimpse of Gods beautiful creation in four different seasons and am trying to learn to enjoy them all.

So like it or not summer is in full swing now with kids home from school, graduation parties, barbecues, trips to the beach, camping and so much more! How are you planning on enjoying summertime this year? I am hoping to go to the pool at least a few times, maybe head to the beach with my husband and enjoy a sunset, go to the park and have a picnic, use our new grill some more and maybe even go on a camping trip. I'm also hoping to get away for a weekend for our second anniversary coming up the end of next month. Last year we went to Ludington where we stayed in a bed and breakfast and loved it!

In honor of summer I want to share some of my favorite Pinterest finds to get you excited for summer!

  • I picked up a tray for making popsicles on a grocery shopping trip a month or so ago but I have yet to make anything with it so I have been looking for some recipes to try. When I came across this mocha ice pop recipe from Eating Well I knew I wanted to try it out. I haven't made it yet, but hopefully will soon!
Source: Via Ashley RR on Pinterest

  • Get those toes looking pretty and sandal ready with this easy DIY pedicure from the Dating Divas. Pick a bright summery color and you'll be ready to go! Mine are currently painted with Rimmel's 'Posh Pink'.
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest

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  • Looking for a quick and easy no bake dessert for a cookout? Try this tiramisu trifle by Dashing Dish. I've made traditional tiramisu before and that was heavenly and light but what I like about this recipe is that she put a spin on it to make it healthier. I'm going to make this to take to my parents house for fathers day. My dad is an avid coffee drinker but also diabetic so when I saw this had sugar free pudding I knew I wanted to give it a try!
 Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
  • I recently picked up a copy of Money Saving Moms Budget book from the library. I just started reading it and began exploring her website. She has lots of resources to great deals and other things. One of them was this great FREE e-book. It's all about summer! It has a ton of recipes, activities for things to do with kids and more. 
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
  •  I love finding new ideas for sewing projects. I saw this one for a beach towel tote a while ago but put it out of my mind as it was the middle of winter. Now that summer is here I just might want to make one! Plus my beach towels are due for replacing. Here a couple of different ones with tutorials included. The first one rolls up to a tote but also has a pillow for laying out on it. The second one is just a nifty way to roll and fold the towel. 
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
I hope you are all enjoying this fine Friday in June! Make sure you find some ways to enjoy summertime this weekend!

       Ashley :-)

*To see where I will be linking my post click on the weekly link-ups tab at the top of the page*

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Adventure in the Kitchen

Today as I was thinking about a recipe to share I decided I should tell you a story instead. It starts about three and a half years ago when my husband and I started dating.

Christmas 2008, one of our first pictures together
 This is the story about my adventure learning to cook...

Before I met my husband I did some cooking but still had a lot to learn. I did like to bake cookies and a few desserts around the holidays but other than that my idea of cooking was heating something from a bag or the occasional quiche I made with the help of my mom of course. Growing up when I would get asked what my favorite food was I didn't say pizza like most kids. I was the weird one that said quiche. You see when my mom was in the hospital before I was born she had quiche and I guess it stuck with me so I at least had to learn to make that. Okay, moving on...So basically, I was not too good in the kitchen. In fact I tended to burn things and recipes often confused me. My dad even used to make fun of me that I couldn't even boil water. But after meeting my husband that slowly changed.

On the night of my first date with my now husband I happened to be baking cookies for Thanksgiving which was the next day. When he came to my door I handed him a cookie, it was oatmeal with white chocolate chips and cranberries. I'm sure I must have had him fooled into thinking I was a great cook. Well it didn't take long for him to figure it out because a couple of weeks or so after that date I decided I wanted to make him dinner. But knowing I didn't cook well meant it was a pasta meal from a bag. I got so nervous that I was going to screw it up that he ended up doing most of the cooking. That is when I found out this man knew what he was doing in the kitchen, I liked that! However, it wasn't until our first valentines day that I really found out how much he knew about cooking.

He pulled out all the stops on this one and if I wasn't hooked already he totally had me hook, line and sinker after this. This incredible man was sweet and kind. He also treated me like a princess and would you believe it, he was practically a bona fide chef too?! Okay, well he didn't go to culinary school or anything, he works in architecture, but I like to call him my chef and after this night he will always be that to me. Here is what he did... 

When I arrived at his place he had the table set with candles lit and a gorgeous bouquet of one dozen pink roses waiting for me. He also was making our dinner and not from a bag this time, from scratch. We had chicken cordon bleu with gruyere cheese and prosciutto, green beans in a butter sauce with mushrooms and pancetta, garlic and chive yukon gold mashed potatoes and dinner rolls (which he actually bought from the bakery so not totally from scratch I guess, but I didn't care)

And that isn't all! He made dessert too! It was the most decadent raspberry white chocolate cheesecake. This stuff is velvety with just the right amount of richness and a bit tartness from the berries. He's also made pumpkin cheesecake and I have even gotten him to make me mocha cheesecake a few times. He makes these cheesecakes so well that he is known for it among friends and family.

I even got him to make two cheesecakes for our rehearsal dinner. Him and his brother also cooked the entire dinner from scratch along with three whole turkeys and four hams for the wedding. Our wedding meal was all prepared by friends and family who offered to help and I am so glad we did it this way. We had a better meal than most caterers would have been able to provide at a fraction of the cost.

Here he is working on one of the hams for our wedding dinner.

 After our first valentines dinner and even early on in our marriage I would sit at the counter in the kitchen while he was cooking. Slowly I started doing more cooking with his help of course as I always asked tons of questions. At first I made simple things, even hamburger helper and things like that, but I was cooking and learning which is what counted. Sure I have had my fair share of mishaps, and still do. My most memorable is probably a pasta dish I made once called spaghetti with sand. You would think the name would have been a turn off but I had the ingredients on hand so I tried it. Let me tell you, it may have tasted better had I actually dumped dirt on my plate. My husband graciously ate it until I asked him to please stop as I couldn't even stomach it. We laugh about it now though. Because of this I have learned that just because something is printed in a recipe book or website does not mean that it will be good.

Since then I have ventured to more complicated dishes and making more things from scratch. I'm pretty sure I shocked my husband when I told him one day while he was at work that I was making bagels from scratch. I have grown to love being in the kitchen and am always looking for new recipes. My husband doesn't totally get off the hook though. I do make dinner most days now but he often makes Saturday morning breakfast (things like crepes, eggs benedict or one of our new favorites dutch apple pancake) and is always in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey.

I hope that you are inspired to go do some cooking of your own now. Remember, even if you don't think you are a good cook, this is something that you can learn to get better at. Trust me I'm the girl who couldn't even boil water who now can do much more than just that! 

"Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"  ~Julia Child~

          Ashley :-)

To see where I will be linking up my post this week, check out the weekly link-ups tab at the top of the page.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Are you a hard worker?

 I hope that you all had a good weekend! Mine involved and unplanned trip to the doctor but I did try some new recipes that I hope to share with you. I had planned on posting a Pinterest find Friday entry last week (I'm working on putting one together for this week) but ended up having to go to the doctor on Friday morning with pink eye and an ear infection. My ears had been bothering me for a while but I had been putting off getting it looked at. So when I woke up with pink eye symptoms I figured that was a sign I better go to the doctor. I've been putting drops in both eyes and ears which has thankfully helped clear up most of the symptoms. I am also very grateful for my husband who has a good job that offers us insurance benefits and that he was able to take time off work to take me to the doctor. He has also been helping me with my ear drops three times a day. I love him!

Now on to today's topic; to go along with my GMG study, I want to focus on work...

 Since I have been studying Proverbs 31 I have been convicted that I do not work as hard as I should and often lack the motivation to stick with it. A while back, I followed Courtney from Women Living Well on her series about discipline. I did okay in the challenges but had a hard time keeping up with it and staying motivated. So much that I got busy with other things and never even did the last weeks challenge on on the discipline of work, which was probably the one I needed the most!

Looking back on this I think that part of my problem was that though I had good intentions, I didn't keep a proper focus on the Lord. Since starting the Proverbs 31 study I have realized that even though it is great to work diligently, it means nothing and we will not be able to keep up if we do not have our priorities right. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men."

For my quiet time today I read Proverbs 31:17 which says, "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." This got me thinking about what does hard work look like. I know I often struggle with the motivation to get things done in a timely manner and often put it off until the last minute. I don't imagine the woman in Proverbs 31 was like this. She is described as vigorous and eager in her work, something I could use some help with. One of the things that hinder this is my lack of motivation and laziness. So I have decided to commit to working on the discipline of work. 

Last week in the study we talked about how the Proverbs 31 woman got up early in the morning. Now, I am not a morning person so getting up early is not something I particularly enjoy but I know that if I am lazy nothing will get done. So I started trying to get up about the same time as my husband so I could do my quiet time and get his lunch ready while he gets ready for work. I was able to do this most days and am still working on it for this week. I've also decided that I need to have my breakfast and shower in the morning before I get on the computer which I hope will help me to be more productive and waste less time sitting in front of the computer screen. Lastly, in an effort to keep my focus on the Lord I want to keep working on memorizing Colossians 3:23 and Proverbs 25:4-5. I have a stack of note cards that I keep together with a binder ring to write verses on as a way to memorize them and these are the first two verses I wrote in it.

What ways are you trying to be more diligent in your work? May you be blessed in all you do!

Joyfully, Ashley :-)

To see where I will be linking up my post this week, check out the weekly link-ups tab at the top of the page. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Women: Friend or Foe?

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I recently began a bible study with four other women on Proverbs 31. We are using the Good Morning Girls study guide along with Courtney from Women Living Well's e-book The Proverbs 31 Women: One Virtue at a Time.

I have to admit that before this study I did not know very much about Proverbs 31 other than it was supposed to be some sort of model for Godly women. I quickly discovered that there is actually a lot of mixed feelings about Proverbs 31. Some people can't stand it because the woman that is portrayed is impossible to compete with while others love her example and do whatever they can to model themselves after her. I think I am somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I don't despise her but I do think some people take it a bit too far and place her on a pedestal. That being said, I do believe that there are a lot of good things we can learn from this passage and I am glad to say that I have been doing just that! Here is a bit of what I have been learning so far...

We are on week four of the study which has brought us up to verse 16. The P31 women as I like to call her, is introduced in verse 10.

Proverbs 31:10-16
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and she works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earning she plants a vineyard.  

Now, I don't intend to take this passage literally in the sense that I don't go out to buy wool, I don't go very far to get my food, I certainly don't have servants and I don't think I'll be buying a field to plant a vineyard anytime soon nor do I think someone who does is somehow better than everyone else. However, if you read between the lines a bit there are plenty of applicable points in this passage. Even if you are unmarried you can gain some insight into how to be a Godly women especially if you hope to be married one day. So let's look at what this means for women today...
  • First we see that she is of noble character and because of this she is rare and precious.
  • Her husband has confidence in her. He trusts her and knows she is capable. 
  • She always seeks to bring good to her husband. 
  • She is a diligent worker, not a slacker. 
  • She takes care in bringing good food for her family. 
  • She gets up early to begin caring for her family. 
  • She is not prone to rash decisions, but takes time to consider her options first. I imagine she would spend time in prayer about it.
  • She has money saved to purchase that which will bring good to her family.
How would your life be different if you started trying to be more like that? What if you decided you didn't want to be like every other woman you see on TV, but one who has true value? How much more precious would you be to your family if you took the time to prepare good meals and worked hard with a thankful heart and eager hands instead of putting things together at the last minute with a bitter spirit? How much more could you accomplish if you got up a little earlier in the morning? How much more confidence would your husband have in you if he knew that you could depend on you not to make quick decisions especially in regard to how you spend money? How much more fruitful would your life be if you actually spent time alone with God in prayer? Sure these are some tough questions, all of which I have had to ask myself. What we have to realize is that we cannot change ourselves instantly. It is a daily process of surrendering to the Lord and it is not easy but it is worth it.

So why do I want to be like the Proverbs 31 woman? Because she is beautiful inside and out. She is precious and valuable especially to her family. She is well respected and does her work with a joyful attitude. She is not selfish but does what she can to bless others. The following adjectives describe her well, all things I hope to be...
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So yes, I want to strive to be like the P31 woman, how about you!?

         Ashley :-)

Click the weekly link-ups tab above to see where I am linking up my post

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Delicious Lasagna With No Meat!?

Okay, be honest...when you read the title were you questioning why in the world I would make lasagna without meat!? Truth be told it is actually from a recipe called spinach lasagna but since I changed some things I decided to rename it meatless lasagna. I'm no vegetarian but I like to have some meatless meal options for my menu and this is a great one. It is so good that I promise you won't even miss the meat, yes even you devout meat eaters. Seriously, even my Dad who is a rather picky eater cleaned his plate the first time I made it!

I created this recipe from a few different sources and added some of my own twists to it as well. The main recipe is from but as with most Kraft recipes that I have used, it needed some tweaks. One more thing before we get to the recipe...Please do not forget to cover with foil before baking, this is one of the most important steps to getting your lasagna to turn out well. Failing to do so will result in a dry and not so appealing lasagna...not that I would know from experience or anything *wink*.

Meatless Lasagna 
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  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • 1 (16 oz) container of cottage cheese OR ricotta cheese, depending on your preference
    • I recommend using a thicker cottage cheese such as Daisy or Breakstone brand
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained 
    • To drain thawed spinach, place in a colander to allow most of the water to drain. Then, using a paper towel, squeeze the spinach of any excess water.
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    • Use low fat cheese for a healthier option
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping 
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley 
  • 2 cloves minced garlic, or 1 teaspoon minced garlic from a jar 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped 
  • olive oil, enough to lightly coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan 
  • 1 (24 oz) jar of garden vegetable spaghetti sauce 
    • Any spaghetti sauce will work but I like the addition of the extra veggies. You could also add fresh chopped veggies to a plain sauce. Some good veggie options would be red or green peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, zucchini or other squash.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 
  • 9 oven ready lasagna noodles, or regular noodles cooked
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  2. In a medium sized bowl; combine eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, 2 cups of mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and parsley, set aside. 
  3. Coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan with olive oil, allow to heat at medium temperature for a few minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. 
  4. Pour spaghetti sauce into sauce pan then add basil and oregano. Cook for a few minutes to blend the flavors then turn off the heat. 
  5. In a 13x9 inch baking dish; pour 1 cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan and spread to cover. Place three noodles on top of the sauce to create the bottom layer then spread half of the cottage cheese mixture on the noodles. Layer one more cup of spaghetti sauce on top of the cheese layer, then add three more noodles and the rest of the cottage cheese mixture. For the top layer, place the remaining three noodles on the second cheese layer, add the rest of the sauce then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and enough parmesan to lightly coat the top.
  6. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 
The result is a gooey, cheesy delicious and (almost) guilt free lasagna! Want to make your own!? You will see a link under the name for a printable version which will take you to a more simplified version of my above recipe. Click, print, make and enjoy!

          Ashley :-)  

To see where I am linking up my post check out my weekly blog link-ups tab at the top of the page 

Friday, June 1, 2012

A New Month a New Start...

 So if you've been here before you've probably wondered if I have dropped off the face of the earth as I suddenly stopped posting about a month ago.  I can't say I have any great reasons as to why other than I got busy and needed to take a break from the blog to re-prioritize things. I have been itching to get back to writing though and plan to do so more frequently now. Here is a few updates about what I have been up to...
  • I started a Good Morning Girls group with four other women. We are reading through Proverbs 31 as well as other applicable verses. It has been very good for me to get on a better bible reading routine and I have loved learning about how to be a more Godly women and wife. I posted a while back about trying to meet with someone from my church to get word out about starting more groups. This did not happen due to schedule conflicts, but I am praying about the opportunity to do this before the next session of groups starts later this year.  
  • My husband was able to take a little time off of work and we spent some much needed time together going on some fun dates. One day we went to a mini-golf/arcade place then out to dinner at Culver's for burgers and fries, they also have really yummy root beer. One of the awesome things about this date was that we had coupons that saved us about half off of everything. Then the next day we went to the zoo. We've also been trying to be more intentional about doing things together. A couple of examples are that we started to read The Five Love Languages book and recently started putting puzzles together.
  • For the first time since living here, I was able to decorate my small deck outside! We purchased a gas grill, some flowers and two rectangular shaped planters that I made an herb garden with. We already had a table and two chairs, but I love how nice and cozy it looks now! I'm hoping to get one more small flower plant to put on the table in a cute little striped red pot that I have and it will be complete.
  • I have also been spending time trying to find more recipes to add to my collection and hope to start sharing some with you here on the blog! I'll be posting my first one soon, it's a yummy meatless lasagna that I made for dinner a couple of days ago, so stay tuned for that!
I'll leave you with my new memory verse that I picked from my quiet times this week:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men." Colossians  3:23 

          Ashley :-)

ps: If you like the picture above, go check out the crosscards website. They always have great desktop wallpapers and come out with new ones each month. I put that one on my computer earlier this morning. You will also find e-cards there. I like to use these to send notes to my husband while he is at work.