Simple Changes no. 7

Image at Murmured Musing

It has felt very spring-like here this past week and we are soaking up every minute we can.  We have been outside cleaning up the yard (mostly me), hand washing and detailing cars (mostly Joe and Riley),  jumping on the trampoline, climbing trees, playing basketball, scooter-riding, and playing badminton (all Halle).  Lainey and I took the dogs for a long walk and talk in the fields and we could smell spring all around us…warm, wet dirt and new growth.  I have also been driving with the sun roof open and sleeping at night with my bedroom window cracked.  I just can’t get enough of fresh air and sunshine right now.  We are supposed to get more snow next week, but I’m choosing to ignore that idea.  Instead, I’m planning on planting pansies and watching my daffodil and tulips grow a few more inches.  Meanwhile,

It’s a new week…are you ready for some simple changes?

Make some Embroidery Thread Wrapped Earrings…I love this idea and think it will make a great project with my girls.

Try some Real Vitamin Water.

Send a PostCarden…best gift idea ever!

Upcycle a Map or two.

Be inspired by some Daring New Ideas from Ted 2013.

Shake up your beauty routine with Tinted Moisturizer or BB Cream. Apparently I’m the last to the party on these products.  I wasn’t even sure what BB Cream was!  I’m trying out the L’oreal brand right now and I really like it. More thoughts on these products here.

Hoping you are enjoying spring-like weather,too.  If not, here’s hoping some is heading your way!

Simple Changes no. 6

Image at An Itinerant Poet

Writing about simple changes always makes me feel happy and motivated for some changes in my life.  Especially in light of recent bit changes that are happening over here.  I was just hired as the scholarship coordinator at a local high school as well as a free-lance writer for the local newspaper.  That means big changes for me and my family in every possible way.  Things like early bedtime, an office wardrobe, meetings, workshops, deadlines, interviews, a daily commute, coworkers, presentations, conferences, advertising, and lots and lots of organizing are rapidly becoming part of my world.  And so far I love every minute of it!  It is definitely going to be a learning curve, but it is also a challenge that I have been hoping for.

I’m not sure how any of this will affect this blog, but I’m hoping to keep plugging along as regularly as possible.  This space is on of my happy places and one that I’m not ready to leave behind just yet.  I’ll be here, so I hope you’ll stick around, too.

It’s a new week…are you ready for some simple changes?

Discover what 200 Calories Looks Like via A Cup of Jo.

Try Printed Denim. (I had the most awesome pair of printed denim jeans in college…very muted and subtle polynesian men in canoes with palm trees!  Also, when are you too old to wear printed denim?)

Organize your Linens & Loo.

Create your own Spring Salad.

Make an Ice Cream Cone Garland.

Read one of the Best Books of March.

DIY Painted Stones…simple and beautiful.

If you have any simple changes you’ve tried or are thinking about, I would love to hear about them here.

 

Chasing Ice

We held our annual family Oscar Awards party on Sunday night…nothing fancy, just the show and a popcorn bar and by the end of the show, Joe and I were the only ones watching.  We love movies at our house and one of our favorite parts of the Oscars is discovering new movies to add to our viewing list.  We’ve got several we’re planning to watch now, but at the top of our list is the documentary Chasing Ice.  I’m sure it is environmentally and politically charged, but we’re a bit environmentally and politically charged so it appeals to us.  The cinematography looks amazing and we are always up for watching extreme adventure (just not for participating).  Embarrassing to admit because it’s a bit shallow, but what really grabbed us was the original song from the movie.  It is hauntingly beautiful and I had the original version downloaded within minutes after hearing it at the Oscars.  The next day I downloaded the version featuring Scarlett Johansson and Joshua Bell and that version is my favorite…Joe likes the original the best.  If you’re interested, here is my favorite version from YouTube…

Did you watch the Oscars Sunday night?  Any new-to-you movies you are dying to see?

Almost Perfect Rice Pudding

rice puddingI fell in love with rice pudding about 12 years ago.  It is strange because my dessert of choice usually involves chocolate, nuts, caramel, and peanut butter.  But, I had a sweet lady from church who would occasionally bring me a loaf-size pan of warm rice pudding, covered in nutmeg, and full of the most amazing creamy goodness.  I could not get enough of it…and I could not get over the fact that Jill had made it.

Jill was a young twenty-something blonde from California.  She drove a Mercedes, and I never saw her wear anything but  designer black. She and her husband lived in a gorgeous and very expensive home where  they were building a business together.  They were very successful and very busy.  Jill oozed style and wealth and beauty, but not so much domesticity.  But she was the queen of rice pudding. That whole judging thing, I’ve totally given it up.

I suspect that someone else really made the rice pudding because every time I asked her for the recipe, she was very vague and dismissive, claiming that she didn’t really use a recipe, she just threw some things together.  But it tasted exactly the same every time, and it was perfection.

I moved away from Jill and her rice pudding goodness about 10 years ago, and since then I’ve searched high and low for something similar.  I’ve ordered rice pudding at restaurants and cruise ships.  I’ve tried homemade recipes, store mixes, and containers of rice pudding in the dairy section.  And I’ve found nothing to even equal Jill’s rice pudding.

But, this recipe is pretty close.  It is from the Better Homes & Gardens website, fairly simple, and amazingly creamy.  I followed the recipe exactly, except for the lingonberries.  Instead I topped it with nutmeg, just like Jill’s.  The only thing I will do differently next time is add more sugar.  Without the berries, I think it needs a bit more sweetness.  Also, this was my first experience using a vanilla bean and it was pretty easy.

If you make this recipe, realize that it will feed a small army, most of your neighbors, or your family for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week.  Also, I always serve it warm and think it is the perfect winter dessert.  And just a warning…you will fall in love with the creamy deliciousness that is almost as good as California Jill’s.

Festive Rice Pudding

Prep 20 mins
Cook 5 hrs
Makes 16 servings
Festive Rice Pudding

Ingredients
  • 1 quart whole milk (4 cups)
  • quart half-and-half (4 cups)
  • cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice (do not substitute long grain rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • vanilla bean, split
  • 4 – 6 whole cloves, tied in a 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth bag
  • Purchased lingonberry sauce
Directions
1.In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker stir together milk, half-and-half, sugar, rice, and salt. Add vanilla bean and cloves. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 5 hours. (Do not stir).2.Remove vanilla bean and cloves. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes before serving. (If pudding gets too thick upon standing, stir in additional milk to make desired consistency.) Serve warm or chilled with lingonberry sauce.

A Getaway of My Own: Part 2

pillowsGreetings from a snowy mountain town in Utah where I am still enjoying my time alone.  Yesterday was all about words, but today I thought I would share a few images of what my getaway looks like.  Not images of my surroundings but images of what I’m using to make my getaway rejuvenating and meaningful.

dog bookbookspj
pamperjournalcandle
ricedowntonpond

I think we need a larger shot of Lady Mary, the Bride…

lady mary

And here is a list of the books I brought:

The Book of Mormon
Secrets to Happiness, Sarah Dunn
Magnificent Obsession, Lloyd C. Douglas
A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
Open House, Elizabeth Berg
Mormon Women:  Portraits and Conversations, James N. Kimball and Kent Miles
What Should I Do With My Life?, Po Bronson

*I have read and would definitely recommend The Book of Mormon and Open House (or anything else by Elizabeth Berg).  All the others are new to me, but I’m really enjoying the last two on the list.

The Weekend Changes

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It is so cold here…colder than I remember it feeling for years!  Even inside it is hard to stay warm so I have been adding layers and turning up the thermostat.  We are laying low this weekend and working to stay warm.  Sunday afternoon, though, I am doing something that is a first for me, ever!  I am taking a little trip for some alone time for a few days.  I plan on reading, writing, thinking, praying, and mostly just regrouping for the new year.  I feel slightly selfish and naughty about doing this, but my excitement far outweighs any other emotion.  Have you ever taken a trip alone for no particular reason, and if not would you?  I can’t seem to ever get enough uninterrupted time so I consider this a huge luxury…and hopefully the beginning of an annual tradition.

I’m still putting Christmas away, and now packing to go as well, but first I wanted to leave you with a few changes I found:

A Day Home with Dada.

DIY Giant Confetti Wall…such a fun idea for a birthday or graduation party.

The Good Habits App just might help us all keep our resolutions.  I loaded it today and it is Free!  Thanks Shawni.

A few books I read over Christmas break:  The Garden of Evening Mists, Midnight in Austenland, and Wild (a little sexy and some profanity)…loved them all.

Photo wallpaper…I think this would be a fun and easy DIY.

Enjoy these changes and a few of your own this weekend.  And stay warm!

Project Life 365

Just found out about Project Life 365 from Erin.  Although I’ve never participated, I love following themed-photos on Instagram.  I’m also a lover of catchy titles so “Project Life 365″ had me at hello!  I’ll be sharing my photos on Instagram where I’m known as thechangelady.

 

 

Changing Clouds + Instagram

Just started using Instagram a few weeks ago and I’ve noticed a cloud theme running through a lot of my images.  The sky in my part of the world is exceptionally beautiful lately and I can’t resist snapping a photo every few days.  Here are a few of my favorites…sadly, Instagram does not transfer well so they are blurry.  I’ve been posting my Instagram photos on Twitter, so you can see the unblurry versions there.  If you want to see the real deal, follow me on Instagram.  My user name is thechangelady.

Despite the inability to transfer photos, I love Instagram and am having lots of fun trying out filters.  You should try it and then let me know where I can find you.  Isn’t technology amazing!

The Weekend Changes

Image and Print by Romawinkel at Etsy

Happy, happy weekend!  I love early Sunday mornings…watching the sun rise with a cup of peppermint tea and this book.  Yesterday was a bit of a disaster.  Joe and I were hanging a photo gallery in the dining room, and we managed to punch a nail through a copper water pipe.  Thank goodness I could hear the water spurting out behind the wall and we were able to turn off the water main before any major damage happened.  This was our first experience with plumbing issues so Joe immediately researched the internet, called his dad, and left for parts at Home Depot.  After a few hours the pipe was fixed and now we have a hole in our wall instead of a photo gallery.  I’m thinking about putting a frame around it to see if it blends in with the rest of the gallery…

On the schedule today, church, a birthday dinner for Joe, and other Sabbath activities.  I’m going to try and sneak in a walk with the dogs this morning, but not before I leave you with a few changes:

A Chevron Wall Painting…would be fun to do over an old print, too.

Money as You Grow.

A beautiful Paint Chip Chandelier…thinking this would be fun for my daughter’s college apartment.

For Breaking Bad fans, A Wooly Walter White.

Pistachio Fudge looks amazing…fun for Christmas with a few craisins added.

Inspiration…25 Things I Want My Daughter to Know, and the poster here.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend…I hope you will meet me back here tomorrow.

 

Back to School Supplies

 

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I love school supplies!  Stylish and beautiful, inexpensive and functional, unique and trendy, I love them all.  I still remember what it felt like on that first day of school when my teachers would pass out new boxes of crayons, sheets of blank paper, new textbooks, and a few precious pencils.  When I was older, my school supplies included more exciting things like boxes of colored pencils, graph paper, and calculators.  And college meant a typewriter, luggage, and a planner.

As a grown-up, I’m still thrilled when school supplies start to pop up in the stores, and I always stock up on a few things at home…crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, tape, and glue sticks are staples.  We also buy several packs of mechanical pencils.  My teenage girls prefer them because they don’t like to waste class time sharpening pencils, or add too much distraction to their classroom (it makes some teachers grumpy).  We found some nice pencils at Target this year.

If you haven’t already purchased school supplies, here are a couple of lists I’ve rounded up:

15 Totally Awesome Back to School Must Haves…the notebooks are my favorite.  I want one in every color!

Design Mom’s 7 Hip Picks for Back to School…I really want to try beeswax crayons.

11 Incredible Back to School Supplies I Wish I Had as a Kid…I wish I had them as an adult.

12 Office Space Picks for Fall…beautiful supplies for grown ups in brass and leather.

Any other great lists out there that I should include?