Sunday, January 31, 2010

last night's dinner

our attempt at a "healthy" easy pizza.

we love keeping a frozen pizza in the fridge to throw in the oven for a quick dinner, but the really good ones are not the best for you--and the "healthy" ones weren't kinds that we were really interested in eating.

so we picked up the ingredients we needed to make our pizza--a whole wheat pizza crust.

mushrooms and green pepper (both organic), pizza sauce (not organic, but better than any of the other jars of pizza sauce we looked at), pepperoni (i don't know that a healthy option for pepperoni exists--but i can't have pizza without it!) and mozzarella (natural).
(tip for the pizza sauce--every generic or "popular" brand of pizza sauce had high fructose corn syrup listed in the first 3 ingredients. then we looked at the specialty Italian brands and found much better options there.)

so after putting it all together...
we ended up with tasty, fresh pizza with natural ingredients. a little more expensive, but totally for it for the quality.
this morning, we watched streaming worship services online and then began working on clearing the ice. we finally got the driveway and cars cleaned off, but the back yard is still pretty well iced in.
it's continuing to melt, but i'll admit--i love the ice on our branches and plants.
there's something about that sparkling, clear coating that is just magical
i have chicken and pastry ready to go for tonight (that i think i'll document and share with you, too. that's one of my favorite easy winter recipes!)

and then tomorrow's back to the real world. as much as my extroverted nature has had a tough time with spending all weekend at home, i will admit that i've gotten a lot done. laundry is caught up, i should be finished (or almost finished) with connie and travis' wedding photos by the end of the night, and they've already called the county schools for tomorrow. though the sun is helping with the ice, i imagine it's going to re-freeze a lot tonight. brrr....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

snowy weekend...

so last night, the snow began falling between 9 or 10. we had big, fat flakes coming down and a nice slush for pepper to go out in...

(she put the snow on her nose. not me!)

i trooped back out a little bit later to get a few shot of our snowy street.

nice starbursts from the street lights and catching some light in the snowflakes that made it on my lens...
and i thought it was sorta funny when i captured this picture of our mailbox last night--

and my e-mail box looked about the same this morning!
and then one more shot from the front door this morning.
we're planning to stay in today and have already made breakfast and started a movie on netflix streaming. perfect snowy weekend...

how's everyone else holding up?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

snow, snow, snow...

typically i would really enjoy a good snowy weekend...

but i had plans this weekend!

and now we're grounded. (so to speak.) i guess we're really not getting snowed in, but more "snowed out."

we were supposed to head over to the 5-7"/8-10" area out west to see jonah, matt and patrice this weekend... and if it weren't for that possible 8-10", i think we'd still try. but the ice and below freezing temps all weekend are going to make the drive pretty rough.

so we're staying in, (hopefully) picking up our order from the spring run market (i am actually pretty excited about being able to do this--i'll take lots of pictures!) and staying warm with lots of good meals planned. maybe i'll share the recipe for one of them...

and finally, i was pretty excited to see this come in my inbox this morning. my thirty-one consultant sent me the customer and hostess specials for february and march, and even though the new catalog isn't up yet, i can already spy a new pattern that is just adorable...
check out this floral print for the organizing shoulder bag! loving it...

would anyone be interested in ordering something if i did a catalog show in a month or so? maybe march?

oh, and i plan to do lots of photo editing this weekend. that will be a positive result of having to stay in most of the day. i've finished our "yearbook" except for the cover, and i'll start on the disney book next week. i want to knock out a good portion of connie and travis' wedding and most of jessica's senior pictures. here's to motivation and getting stuff done :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

worship music wednesday

as promised--"we are yours" that i mentioned from last week.

now granted--we had an awesome reggae beat going on with our version. and the amazing sound of over 500 voices lifting up in worship. but you get the picture :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

just a quick note--

my work buddy amanda has started her own blog. go say hi! tell her i sent you :) and compliment her on her adorable blog design.

secondly, i heard that oprah is doing a show on "where your food comes from" tomorrow (wednesday) with michael pollan (of "food rules," "the omnivore's dilemma," etc.). i will be dvr-ing and figured with some of you guys also getting on the "natural food" kick, you might be interested, too.

and finally--i had two great conversations with two long-time friends last night. i love the friends that you can pick up with like you saw them yesterday, even though it may have been weeks or months since you last talked. i get to see one of them this weekend :) and hopefully the other one in about a month or so...

off to get ready for bed. i am so behind on my 365 project--not really with taking photos, but just putting them up. that's my goal for tomorrow.

one day at a time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

i heart faces: texture

this week at i heart faces, they're focusing on texture--both those found naturally in the environment and those added through photo editing programs. i purchased a set of the florabella textures back in the fall and have used them to add to many of my photos. i realized that i hadn't featured any photos from joe and kristi's engagement shoot and decided this was the perfect opportunity to use some of their gorgeous pictures!

i really loved the feel of this picture and how the black and white tones and the texture contributed to a vintage feel. the colors are really muted, which is very different from what i typically do. i think that's been my biggest learning curve with textures--how to keep the saturated, bright colors that i usually favor while also incorporating the textures.

click on over to i heart faces to check out the other texturized photos this week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

where'd my weekend go?

i'm really trying to throw something together because i'm aware that yes, it's been a few days since i've posted. and y'all, it's just been a little hectic around here! but i'm slowly getting back on track. i think i figured out that being gone sunday night and monday threw me off--because everything that i typically do on sunday (laundry, groceries, etc.) got pushed until monday when i got back. then i had a late night tuesday and then it was really wednesday before i felt caught up. but then stuff got crazy at work with just a lot going on, and before you knew it, i was praying that friday would come quickly.

and it did, and we have thoroughly enjoyed our last weekend for a while of really relaxing. with my birthday and a couple of visits to friends and family coming up, february's going to be one crazy month. but it will be good blogging material! (which i just feel like i've lacked lately. you really don't want to hear about crazy stuff at work or trips to the appliance stores to look at deep chest freezers? do you?)

so i leave you with this--a picture of dinner at our house every night. we hardly ever eat at the table. we're a tv tray family (sorry if that ruins any impression you had about me and my housekeeping skills, but we'll get to that later on) and without fail, we have an animal or two sitting right around us. i tried to catch a picture of milo and pepper both on the floor, looking straight up at justin waiting for any morsel of food he might spare. milo moved before i could get it, but you get the picture...

our latest dog toy--an almost empty peanut butter jar.
yes, it's cruel. but it's oh so amusing to watch! she gets this giraffe-like tongue thing going on and she will just go to town.
saturday, i did get up to do some senior pictures with jessica, the girl that i helped with her senior project. of course, she was willing to try some of my more "artsy" shots, and i did very little with this one out of the camera (my editing is a little backed up right now with travis and connie's pictures sitting there--but i'll get to those soon!)
i'm loving the silhouette and the reflection in the gym floor. i had been inspired by a number of silhouettes that i saw in the pioneer woman's sunrise/sunset shots that she's been featuring and wanted to incorporate something like that into the shoot. more jessica senior portraits to come...

and today was fun, but still a bit hectic. i ended up singing at church at the last minute (lost a little bit of sleep--but i love it so much!) and then got home motivated to do some cleaning. our poor house has been neglected since the holidays and needed a good day of cleaning. so while i tackled the bathroom and bedroom, justin began straightening up the living room and then got going on the piles of junk we have lying around. junk mail, bills, cards, thank-you notes, etc. that just seem to accumulate on flat surfaces in our house. he also began sorting through the pantry and weeding out old boxes of stuff that got lost in the back, as well as taming the mass of plastic bags that we collect under the bottom shelf. by the time i got back from grocery shopping, the kitchen and pantry were spotless and organized, and he was going to town with the shredder. he continued while i made dinner and then headed back to church for our middle school program this evening. we are officially de-cluttered and minus a lot of unnecessary paperwork that was just collecting dust.

i am not good at housekeeping and have never been. my mom had issues with me keeping my room clean since elementary school, and it really hasn't changed. i'm content to live in clutter--not dirtiness, but clutter. thankfully, i had roommates who understood that in college, and my husband was forewarned :) i just don't see it as a priority, and my mind is usually focused on much more important things (to me) than keeping things orderly and neat. i typically can find anything i'm looking for beneath or within the piles, and then every few months, we'll get the motivation to go through them and sort things out. justin has always said that he's a procrastinator, but when the time comes, he does a great job of following through on a task. so between the two of us, we have one day every four months where the house looks amazing--and otherwise, it's lived in and it's just "us." but i do see today's work as being one more step to getting things back on track...

...before everything spirals out of control in february with all of our plans and trips and visits and what not.


what do you do to keep things neat and tidy in your house?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

figuring out food

so last friday, justin and i had a very exciting evening planned.

after eating dinner, we went to grocery stores.

and really didn't even buy anything (except for muffins for breakfast the next morning.)

(we live fascinating lives, people.)

it was actually for research purposes. we went to two grocery stores--lowes food and harris teeter--that we typically only visit for special items or when they're having huge sales (triple coupon week at HT, for example) and compared their organic/natural selections and prices with the stores we normally shop (for me, kroger on a good day, food lion in a pinch.)

now, harris teeter does have these nice little signs and color-coded price tags for their organic items...
and "natural" items--we've figured out that "natural" means minimal processing, but not certified organic. it still isn't specific about hormones or antibiotics in most cases, so i'm a little wary of "natural," but better than conventional, i guess.

sadly, the only organic beef found in HT were these frozen 12 oz tubes for $7. not even a pound, and frozen? no, thank you. i'll stick with my laura's lean beef from kroger for that price.
over at lowe's foods, we scouted out similar options in the meats and produce. more "natural" options included sanderson farms, who actually had a list of common terms and definitions from packaging and labels on their website to explain their products to consumers.
but this one--well, this one stumped us. it may be hard to read the labels, but the eggs on the left are "cage free." the eggs on the right are "vegetarian fed." which one is better? do you want chickens that have been fed a non-vegetarian diet (and one can only imagine what that may include) but have been allowed access to the outdoors? or ones that have been fed vegetarian feed but have (presumably) been kept in a chicken house without the ability to roam?

i just don't know.

in the midst of our "research," justin also ran across an article about genetically modified foods that included the major corn seed company featured in food, inc. that led us to this shopping guide of non-genetically modified foods (GMO--o is for organisms) and a comprehensive list of companies and brands that do not use GMOs in their products. and this section of the website explains why you should avoid GMOs (if the whole "organ damage in rats" from the huffington post article didn't get to you.)

he also surprised me with a copy of "food rules" (mentioned in our first post)--and i've gotten a kick of out many of the rules.

"if it came from a plant, eat it. if it was made in a plant, don't."

"it's not food if it's called by the same name in every language. (think big mac, cheetos or pringles.)"

"don't get your fuel from the same place your car does."

"don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

and we're working on rule #28--"if you have the space, buy a freezer."

which is important since we just placed our first order for the spring run market, to include several pounds of chicken and beef from the local farms. we just need more freezer space in general, and we're left with the decision of buying a small freezer and continuing to save for our backyard fence--or buying a big freezer and replacing my 5 year old washer/dryer with a stackable set to open up space in the laundry room. that's a tough decision--because for the record, i really really want a fence. the day when i can just open up the back door and let pepper out to do her business is a good day in my book.

so that's where we are. anyone else have some stories on trying to buy organic or natural in the grocery stores?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

make it a day on, not a day off...

this past weekend, after taking a little over 700 pictures at connie and travis' wedding (those will come eventually--i just downloaded them to my computer tonight. it's been that kind of week) i headed off on sunday with the youth group to the local christian university, MAC-U, where many of our church staff members attended. they also run a popular summer camp where most of our kids go and host an event for youth groups every few months. this time, they chose to tie it over to a service project on monday for MLK jr day. i was asked to help chaperone the trip, and so we took off that afternoon with 9 teens in tow.

i had actually never been to the campus before and was in love with the waterfront and the nearby bridge...
inside, we met up with many familiar faces of other youth groups that we know well and other church members who were already there to help out with the sound system or performing with the worship band.
chris, our youth minister, led worship along with aaron (one of our seniors) and jordan (our worship leader at church.) i didn't know the drummer. sorry :)
we had some amazing worship (see the post below) and listened to a great devotional. then we brought in our stuff to the dorm rooms where we'd be staying and ended up hanging out in the student lounge for the rest of the night. lucky for me--my girls were ready to head back to the dorms a little before 10 and were asleep just after 11. i heard the boys were up until 2 am playing capture the flag in the dorms. i love chaperoning girls...

the next morning, we woke up ready and refreshed. granted, my almost 27-year old back wasn't prepared for the 6 inch foam mattress from the dorms.

after a few last minute changes in plans, we figured out that we'd be staying on campus to help with their service project. we had planned on going up into norfolk, but they ended up having enough work to be done with the university's service project.
(love the motto here: MLK day of service--make it a day on, not a day off.)

we were packaging food to be sent to haiti--a project that was chosen many many months ago before the earthquake last week. there was an assembly line set up around the gym floor with several different stations, each helping to package a dinner of rice, dehydrated vegetables and soy protein fiber.

(the only picture of me i'm including ^--just the top of my head--i was working the sealing station!)

the other part of my sealing table--this lovely lady at the end is sara--she helped me with one of our girls retreats a couple of years ago and i'm trying to find a way to get her to move closer to us after she graduates :)
chris strikes a pose (by the way, i obviously didn't take these pictures. just sent my camera around with other people.)
the organization we were working with...
and even some of the youngest church members came to help out--molly accompanied her mama amanda to work that day and helped pack up boxes of food. such a cutie!
we worked for about 4 hours that morning until 61,000 meals were packaged for haiti. so awesome!

then it was time for a lunch at pizza hut (where we left our intern joe by mistake--whoops) and then packing up the van and then on back home, where i continued to get ready for my week with laundry, grocery shopping, and preparing for a short work week (but lots of appointments and busy busy days.)

i think the whole experience was best summed up in my facebook status that i posed on the way home:

heading back home after a great day of service and spending time with our awesome youth group. I don't think I realize how blessed we are to be a part of this ministry until we're at an event like this one and I see how influential our kids are, how other leaders look up to and compliment our staff, and just how amazingly well our group works together...

can't wait til next time!

worship music wednesday

this weekend, at a youth event that we regularly go to, the band played a david crowder song that i hadn't heard before. a surprise to me, honestly, because i thought i knew most of their songs. but this one came at just the right time. we did several songs right in a row--"how he loves us," "we are yours" (which i may use for a future wednesday) and this one--and it was just amazing worship. chris said he just stopped playing at one point and listenened, and my friend david who was up in the sound booth agreed that it sounded awesome with almost 500 teenagers and adults singing together so beautifully, so powerfully.

but this song, in particular, captured me. brought me back from a gym full of other people to just me and God. "it's just you and me here and now..."

(the lyrics--simple, but so so wonderful.)

Take my heart, I Lay it down
At the feet of you whose crowned
Take my life, I’m letting go
I lift it up to You who’s throned

And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord

Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
You're my delights, be my everything

And It’s just you and me here now
Only you and me here now

You should see the view
When it’s only You

i should have time to publish more about this past weekend and MLK day later on tonight or tomorrow morning. sorry for the delay, but it's been a busy busy week :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

i heart faces: we are family!

this week at i heart faces, they're focusing on families of all shapes and sizes. i love photographing families and chose one of my favorite family portraits from this past year...

this is chris and lindsey, with their kids silas and savannah. not only am i blessed to have them as friends, but also as brothers and sisters in Christ and members of our church family. how awesome to have "family" like them (and all of my other wonderful church friends :) )

i loved the colors on this shoot--the leaves on the ground, the bridge railing overhead, and all of the lines working together to add some great dimension to the picture. not to mention those gorgeous smiles--they are a happy family!

check out the other families over at "i heart faces" this week!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

i can finally share them!

a few months ago we met to do connie's bridals. since connie and travis should be married by now (almost exactly if i time the posting schedule just right) i can finally share the bridal portraits!
(i had just gotten my florabella textures and overlays, so i was definitely experimenting with the textures around this time...)

we also had to shoot in full sun most of the time. i remember this day so clearly--i had sweated it out in the morning with brent, emelie and jake that morning, and then scheduled connie's shoot for the afternoon. and it was still so hot in the sun, but we tried to do our best to work with it!

(let me brag on her bridesmaids again--they were awesome and helped out so much--even holding up sheets and umbrellas to create shade when we needed it!)

this one is straight out of a bridal magazine :)
i love love love the tree in the background. those vines are just awesome!
one of my favorites (though i'm bringing my own ladder and nails out to fix that wood in the background.)
connie and i both agreed that she had the best natural smile in this picture.
and finally, the one we chose for the full portrait. i was definitely happy with how this turned out once we saw it on the full 16x20 canvas (i order big prints from, just for the record. very happy with their prints and pricing.)
congratulations, connie and travis! so excited to have been a part of your big day today, and i can't wait to get working on the wedding photos :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

delurking day 2010!

after visiting a few of my favorite blogs this morning, i learned that it was de-lurking day! a day where you finally make a comment on that blog that you always read but never say anything. a day to step out and say, "yes! i read your blog!" and i actually was just thinking about doing something like this (like mckmama's roll call a while back) after i responded to a couple of new comments on the nutrition post yesterday.

(i had to go on a google images search for another graphic because the one being used by other blogs includes a flasher and the phrase "show us your privates!" and y'all--that's just not me.)
so leave a comment today! share your blog address with us (if you have one) and let me know where you're from (according to google analytics, i had visitors from 37 countries last month) and how you found me (and if you're a IRL person--i get confused with comment names/e-mail addresses if it's someone that i really know or someone that's just a bloggy friend.) and i promise to spend some time tonight stopping by other blogs and checking in :)

happy delurking!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

worship music wednesday

instead of a regular song this week, i'm posting the video of our cardboard testimonies from this past sunday.

again, i'm just so amazed at what God has done in our congregation. if this isn't worship... well, i don't know what else is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

all-natural nutrition

saturday night, justin and i sat down to watch a movie (after it was determined that the nfl playoff game was going to be a blow-out) and decided to go with food, inc. i'll be honest, i'd been reading the nutrition posts that jo-lynne had written over at musings of a housewife for a while--and i was intrigued. not enough to actually make any changes, but enough to put food, inc. in our netflix queue to watch.


i mean, i knew going into it that it was going to shock me into making some changes in our diets. i posted on facebook:

watching "food inc." tonight. i have a feeling this will make me want to become a vegetarian. or at least buy organic and local.

and yes, it did. i can't do vegetarian (i just like meat too much) but within the first 30 minutes of the movie, i was researching local farms where we could purchase free-range chicken without fear of hormones or antibiotics being pumped in to make them grow so fast that their bones can't keep up so they can't even walk around the chicken houses.

i'd say that's what got to me. i also fully believe that if i lived in a time where i was responsible for preparing my own meat, i would be a vegetarian.

so between the story of the family that lost their son to e coli poisoning (and learning that there are only 13 meat processing plants in the entire country--so when one plant gets contaminated, it affects huge percentages of the products that are out there), that there is actually ammonia-spiked "meat filler" that is added to over 70% of our ground beef (with the likelihood of 100% within the next few years) and then the beautiful camera pans across a real farm, where cows grazed in fields, chickens pecked around the farm yard, and food was produced the way it was meant to be produced--i was convinced.

i'm planning on finding michael pallon's books in the library (or breaking down and ordering them on amazon) within the next week or so. he's written two books, in defense of food and the omnivore's dilemma--both that i've heard positive things about. i also like the look of this little pocket book, food rules, as a handy way to break down how to make some of these changes. and i have a feeling that what to eat could help me with the now daunting task of shopping at the grocery store--she apparently breaks down aisle by aisle what you should look for or avoid.

and that's also where i imagine we'll make some changes. i mean, already this week i started passing up the bargain-priced produce and meat to go for organic. and yes, i know that not all organic is "true" organic and not all organic is necessarily infinite times better than conventional foods. i'm still doing research. actually, i'm quite open to any suggestions or information that others want to share. (i'm going back and re-reading jo-lynne's posts and following her links like crazy.) but we are looking at all of our other options--and thank goodness we have other options! i started at a couple of sites like and and obviously trying to find local produce and farmer's markets in the middle of january is just not the ideal time. but then as i was browsing the farmtofork co-op group in the raleigh/durham area, wishing there was something similar in our area rather than having to drive to all of these individual farms that i had found--

my co-worker christie (also a fan of food inc.) sent me the link to the spring run market that offers a farmer's market every couple of weeks as well as opportunities to place orders with all of those farms that deliver to the market!

and now my brief fears of having to drive to snow hill and track down a farmer for the cuts of meat i wanted disappeared. though that doesn't really scare me. i'm a social worker. i've done in-home therapy :)

at any rate--that's our plan. now, i still have some mixed thoughts on the full-fat dairy that jo-lynne writes about. my sister-in-law who is a dietitian apparently agrees (though i haven't spoken with her at length about it.) though the back label of a margarine container frightens me, justin and i don't exactly have the best family history of cholesterol and heart issues to be able to fully embrace whole milk and real butter without some hesitation...

and the costs. well, it does cost more. but what are the costs worth? the movie stated that our eating habits have changed more in the past 50 years than the previous 1,000. we have growing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease--and then cancer, autism and the other diseases or conditions that just seem to "happen." if there's any chance that we could make changes in our diets and prevent (or slow down) the likelihood that we have to deal with any of these health issues--then i'll cut coupons for paper towels and dish soap and everything else so we can buy healthy, chemical-free produce and meats.

so ends my soapbox for the week. anyone else intrigued by this whole healthy, organic, chemical-free food? i'll admit, i used to scoff at some of the families i knew that "had to have" the organic milk cartons in their kids' lunches. i'd been known the pass by the organic fruit for the value-priced bags. i've had freezers full of cheap "family packs" of chicken that i'd use for meals on end.

but i am singing a different tune now...