I’ve moved to www.lovecreatenourish.com, so head on over there! I’ll keep this site up and running so anyone from Pinterest still has workable links!
***UPDATE 11/11/2014: I’ve moved! My new site is www.lovecreatenourish.com, so anyone here from Pinterest can head over there! 🙂
First things first: my resolution to be more disciplined is going well! I’ve been keeping tabs on what I eat, portion size, and have exercised every weekday so far, not to mention the other important parts of my discipline. Overall, successful so far.
So, I wasn’t going to blog about this recipe . . . because it’s not really a “recipe”. It’s pretty much the easiest thing in the world and one of the most delicious things in the world. I can’t believe it took me over three years of cooking to be brave enough to attempt it. And I really didn’t need to be brave, because, seriously — easiest thing ever. What is it?
Chicken in the crockpot — a whole chicken. I have to be honest, I just really don’t like working with meat that has bones and fat that you have to pick apart to eat. When I was little and my mom made bone-in pork chops, I’d eat as close to the bone as I dared and then would hand it off to my dad to finish it. When I make bone-in pork chops now, Brett actually cuts it for me, because yes, I am three-years-old. He picks apart the good stuff so I don’t have to get too close to the bone. I know, I know. Ridiculous. He’s so lucky to have me around.
So that was another reason I was nervous about making this chicken, but I didn’t need to worry. Brett dissected it for me so all I had to see when we ate was the meat. And it was so, so good. Tender, juicy, perfectly cooked and extremely flavorful! It was also extremely cost effective. The meat filled a tupperware bowl, and then I chopped three cups of it to make these easy, delicious enchiladas. (Seriously, try them! Four ingredients!) The rest of the leftovers were turned into chicken salad for sandwiches.
The best part was that I made crockpot chicken broth afterward. All you do is add water to the bones/skin/etc., (I did six cups and will probably do more next time), turn the crockpot on low, and let it cook overnight. Once it’s strained, you can refrigerate or freeze it. I realize I’m late to this party as a lot of my friends already do this, so I’m glad I finally joined! I was even feeling congested and crappy for a few days . . . then I made potato soup with the chicken broth, ate a bowl, and woke up feeling almost 100% better the next day. Seriously, if I haven’t given enough reasons already to try doing this, that has to be the best yet!
Here’s the “recipe”:
Crockpot Whole Chicken + Crockpot Chicken Broth
- 1 whole chicken
- seasonings of choice (I used garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt)
- water (I used six cups, but will probably do more next time)
- Remove giblets from chicken.
- Place chicken in crockpot. (I sprayed my crockpot with non-stick olive oil spray.)
- Combine spices/seasonings and rub all over the top of the chicken.
- Cook on low 7-8 hours. (I had a 5-lb. chicken; cook less for smaller chickens.)
- Once cooked through, remove chicken from crockpot for serving.
- Place bones and skin back into crockpot. Add water.
- Cook on low overnight. Strain and place in containers to store for future use.
***UPDATE 11/11/2014: I’ve moved! My new site is www.lovecreatenourish.com, so anyone here from Pinterest can head over there! 🙂
Did any of you make a New Year’s resolution? Have you already totally failed at keeping said resolution? Or maybe you’ve just been slacking off lately? Well, here’s your chance to jump back on the wagon. Who’s with me? Winter’s almost over, spring’s almost here (even though we’re supposed to get, you know, just a foot of snow tomorrow), and I say it’s time to make some new resolutions.
The great thing about resolutions is that they can be absolutely anything that will improve your life and lives of those around you. So what’s my new resolution? It’s simply to be more disciplined. It’s something I struggle with the most. No matter who you are, what age you’re at, or what life stage you’re in — everyone could use more discipline in some area. For me, it’s reading the Bible and praying every morning. It’s making a to-do list of my design projects and checking them off the list. It’s blogging at least once a week (I’m so totally great at that, obviously). It’s researching and growing my online business. It’s keeping a record of my food intake (and improving my nutrition). It’s getting back in shape by exercising regularly.
Right now the most difficult parts for me are my food intake and exercising regularly. We don’t eat unhealthily over here, but we’re definitely not perfect. Two nights ago we had spaghetti and meatballs, last night we had enchiladas. For me, it’s all about portion sizes and having healthy foods alongside the higher-calorie foods, like a decent-sized spinach salad with the not-so-huge helping of spaghetti. We also never have junk food or pop around, and barely ever have cookies or brownies or other desserts in the house. The great thing about that is that those things are more of a treat when we’re at someone’s house, so it’s kind of a win-win situation. Except that I really have to watch myself with the goodies — I can just tell I have that “winter tire” going on, with too many sweets and rich foods at our families’ houses and not enough exercise.
A way I’m keeping myself accountable with food intake is by utilizing this weekly food journal:
Yes, I had a lot of fun designing this one, and made it gray to be easily printed and copied multiple times. Click here to download it for free!
Seriously, I think it helps so much to see what food you’ve eaten, how much water you’ve drank, the amount of exercise you’ve done, and what effect is has on you. Even when I recorded my food for the first time last week, I could clearly see which days I didn’t drink as much water I should have. I was also a little congested and stuffy towards the end of the week, but the morning (Sunday) after eating homemade chicken broth (in potato soup) I felt almost 100% better, no joke. It’s little things like that where you might be able to see how your food and exercise habits relate to how you feel. Here’s what mine looked like last week:
As you can see, exercise totally fell by the wayside, as usual. And to be honest, I haven’t really steadily exercised for almost a year now. It actually appalls me to write that, so it’s getting remedied now! I’ve just been lazy, that’s all there is to it. I mean, really, my husband has an exercise science degree, worked as a trainer for two years, and works with athletes in the weight room now . . . so I don’t have any excuses at all. My five-pound winter tire needs to disappear and I simply want to be back in shape, so Brett made me a little workout program for three days a week to start. Absolutely anyone can do it, no matter how overweight or out of shape you are, but the hardest part is actually doing it. Just thirty minutes of exercise three times a week to start. It’s so simple.
Anyone else want to join? I’m going to keep myself accountable on here so I have no excuses. If you want, click the link above to download my food journal free! Keeping track of your food intake can help so much, and hopefully exercise will follow. Discipline in all areas of life is so important.
We still have some of our Christmas decorations up. Don’t judge. Life has been busy lately, or at least it seems that way. I’m usually up by 7am every weekday to help Brett get out the door (a.k.a., make his lunch), and while I typically don’t head into work until 10 or 11am, I use that time to get the majority of my design work done. I’m loving having consistent design projects, but not loving that I get on a roll, lose track of time, and all of a sudden I have to leave. Talk about major motivation to keep growing my business and blog . . . someday, someday.
Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, mainly because of some hefty design work that I can’t wait to share with you in the future. I thought today I’d just share just a few snapshots of life lately:
I can’t help sharing pictures of good food. This was taken about a month ago when one of my best friends came to visit. I almost always have some sort of pizza on the menu every week, whether it’s stromboli, regular pizza, pizza bagels, pizza loaf . . . you get the picture. It’s so easy and cheap to make. In this case, we went with two pepperonis, one veggie, and one barbeque chicken. Let’s just say that last one was amazing. I had the leftover shredded barbeque chicken in the freezer, so once that was thawed, all I had to do was heat it up and throw it on the loaf before it was baked. SO good. Pizza loaves are always crowd pleasers. Just make sure you have plenty of cheese.
The Superbowl. We had Brett’s family over, and I wanted to make something cute but also really easy. Hello, giant cookie. You were delicious. I was going to just buy pre-made cookie dough for this, but I knew I had all of the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies already. When I Googled “giant football cookie” this was the first link. The only change I made was using all chocolate chips because I had no peanut butter chips, and I just used canned chocolate frosting. The white decoration (courtesy of Brett’s artistic side) is just melted white chocolate chips since I couldn’t find those cake decorating pens anywhere. This cookie really did turn out huge — we were eating it for weeks afterward, bits at a time. Yum.
Say hello to my nice old Mac. You better believe I brought it out to the living room to work while we watched the Olympics. We’re a little obsessed over here. I mean, it only happens once every few years — how do more people not care? Not a single person I work with has watched any of the events. I’m not a very athletic person, and normally the only sport I truly enjoy watching is football (and gymnastics and figure skating, duh). But some of these sports are insane! I can’t believe people actually do some of these things (going 85 miles an hour down a hill?!) for careers. We only watch NBC’s prime time coverage, so sometimes we accidentally know who wins medals, but most of the time we have fun guessing who will win each event and trying to say the athletes’ names. I’ll be a little sad when it’s all over this weekend.
A lot of people go all out for Valentine’s Day . . . yeah, we’re just not those people. We did little things to make it special: Brett got me a box of delicious chocolates and I got him a metal cup he’s been wanting. I know, you’re thinking, “Seriously? A cup?” My husband’s been obsessed with survival kits lately, and the cup can be used for boiling water. Yep. I’m impressed with myself for just knowing that much. And what does that have to do with a picture of half-eaten food? This was our Valentine’s dinner, a day late. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and stuffed ourselves silly. I tell him pretty much every time we get this food that I couldn’t have married someone who doesn’t like Mexican cuisine. We eat way too much of it.
Here was my Pinterest project this past week. I was really craving hard-boiled eggs, and since Brett hates them I get them all to myself. The reason they have weird brown spots on the shells is because I baked them in the oven — yes, you read that right! I saw the idea on Pinterest and had to try it. I would link to the website but the pin only had a description and no clickable link. Basically, all you do is put a dozen eggs in a 12-cup muffin tin, set your oven to 325, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Seriously, that’s it. I think I cooked them around 26-27 minutes, and while a couple of them were difficult to peel, they turned out perfectly! I’m totally doing this in the future. Way easier than boiling water.
So there was a tiny look at our life lately, and I just realized it’s mostly food. Exciting stuff, people. Anyway, this coming week is Brett’s winter break from school, and we’re flying out to Ohio to spend some time with my family. Even though our flight is literally at the crack of dawn, we’re so excited to see loved ones and relax. The forecast says there will finally be a break in the seemingly constant inches and inches of snow up here, so we shouldn’t have any problems flying this weekend. Is anyone else ready for spring? Me too.
Are you completely, totally addicted to coffee? Multiple cups a day? Black? Sugar? Creamer? I’m what you might call a part-time coffee drinker. I have family members and friends who drink it all day long, day in and day out. I do love coffee (with decent amounts of cream and sugar, thanks for asking), but not five-cups-a-day love. I actually only buy it when we have company, because Brett doesn’t like it and I don’t want to waste money on coffee for myself. And honestly, coffee is more of a treat when I do get to drink a cup, because that normally means I’m with a friend or at my parents’ house in Ohio or somewhere special.
Coffee actually always reminds me of my church’s youth group growing up. Being with that group is one of my fondest memories of my high school years, and coffee was our thing. We’d be going somewhere, or on a trip, or coming back, (or pretty much anywhere, who am I kidding), and we’d make a Starbucks stop. My youth pastor and his wife would make it for us any time we were over at their house (which was all the time), and they always had the best flavored creamers. I think it got to the point where they knew exactly how some of us liked our coffee and would just bring it out without asking.
This print was created for one of my best friends (Brigitta), who spent an insane amount of time with me at Paul and Gen’s. We totally took advantage of their hospitality and were often oblivious to their tiredness or their poor kids needing to go to bed. (Sorry Paul and Gen, I really don’t know how you guys did it sometimes!) Now Brigitta has the cutest little apartment of her own and is slowly decorating it as she acquires furniture and gets crafty. For one of her walls, she split a huge map into three pieces and put them over canvases above her couch. I’m totally jealous and will definitely be doing that myself someday!
I created this for her kitchen as a Christmas gift with a quote she had pinned on Pinterest. She’d told me that she wanted to make a corner of her [lovely, spacious] kitchen into a coffee bar, so what better to decorate with but some really cute wall art? And the funny thing is, she received two other unique wall prints/decorations from friends for Christmas. So no excuses Brigitta, you have to get that coffee bar going!
And this print is now available on my store! Find it here. Hope you coffee lovers enjoy it!
Today I’m sharing a few Save the Dates I’ve made recently. While making these, I was wondering: am I the only designer out there that uses Adobe InDesign for pretty much everything? In college we had classes specifically for Photoshop and Illustrator, but nothing with InDesign. I used the program a lot as an intern at a publishing company, and to me, it just makes so much sense to use for any and all print documents. I’m still using CS2 on my nice old Mac, and InDesign is the only program that lets me package my files. To my non-designer readers, “packaging” files basically means InDesign does the hard work for me: it puts copies of all fonts and images used in my design into a new project folder. That way I will always have the fonts and images, even if they accidentally get deleted from other areas on my computer . . . it’s awesome. Plus InDesign just has a lot of tools for organizing text and making designs ready for printing that just make it preferable to Illustrator.
That’s not to say I don’t use the other programs as well. I use Photoshop for — you guessed it — editing images. I also save all my images for this blog and my store using Photoshop. Illustrator I use . . . almost never. Only for complicated — again, you guessed it — illustrations. InDesign has most of the illustration tools I use, so there’s often no need for Illustrator. It’s all about preferences; I’m sure there are lots of designers who would read this and be shocked. Oh well.
Anyway, about these Save the Dates! Originally we were going for a somewhat vintage look. These four were the first options I showed my client, and none are the final product — in the end, we went with a much more simple text treatment. A couple of these will be available in my store starting today! Enjoy.
***UPDATE 11/11/2014: I’ve moved! My new site is www.lovecreatenourish.com, so anyone here from Pinterest can head over there! 🙂
I have another meatless recipe for you! You’d almost think we were vegetarians around here, but we’re most definitely not. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a vegetarian, buuuut we love our chicken and beef and steak. I just like to only cook meat two or three times a week and keep the grocery bills down, so I’m always on the hunt for yummy meatless meals. As I’ve said before (in this post) I grew up hating all vegetables except potatoes and lettuce, and even then I’d only eat lettuce in salads. Never, ever on sandwiches. I actually still never eat lettuce on sandwiches — something about the watery, crunchiness of it grosses me out. I do heap a pile of spinach on my sandwiches, though . . . which is healthier than iceberg anyway! So there!
Anyway, now that I cook almost every night, I eat vegetables way more often. I don’t know if my taste buds have changed or what, but I like broccoli now. Kind of. Only if it’s cooked thoroughly in a dish with lots of other flavors, or thoroughly soaked with a dressing in a salad. I think my extended family would drop dead to read this . . . I get teased a lot about my weird food tendencies. If it helps at all, I still hate eating plain fruit. Apples are the only fruit I can stomach happily. Seriously. Everything else tastes good, but the texture . . . ick. I can’t handle it. That’s why I make myself a smoothie almost every single day. I typically put in a banana, a lot of frozen fruit, spinach, a little yogurt, and water or milk. It’s the only way I can deal with fruit. I know, I know. It’s weird.
But this chowder has tons of veggies! Lots of nutrition, right? Right.
Now, this recipe called for most of the veggies to be sauteed, potatoes + broth added and cooked till tender, and then the broccoli added. Well, I decided to be extra productive on my day off last Monday, and I actually chopped up all the veggies I needed that week for various recipes. I separated them into ziplock bags by meal before realizing the broccoli was supposed to be added later. I wasn’t going to pick it out piece-by-piece now. And you know what? It turned out perfectly. It was still great. Having slightly crunchy broccoli in this soup would’ve ruined it for me anyway, so I think I’ll stick to doing it this way any time I make it!
This recipe is so good and extremely versatile. You could probably do any vegetable your heart desires. I wanted to add in a zucchini, but my grocery store was out. I did add in a red bell pepper and extra carrots and potatoes. It was so good, and after the hubby and I had two full bowls, we were left with three more servings. That was my lunch the rest of the week!
I made some easy-peasy garlic cheese biscuits to go with these, recipe found here. It was the perfect dinner on a nasty, rainy night.
Cheesy Veggie Chowder (adapted from this recipe)
- 2 T. butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 c. finely chopped carrot
- 1 c. finely chopped celery
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 c. chopped broccoli
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 2 large potatoes, chopped
- 1 T. flour
- 1/2 c. cold water
- 2/3 c. milk
- 2 heaping c. shredded cheddar cheese
- Melt butter in large pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, red bell pepper, and broccoli. Cook until mostly tender.
- Add garlic; stir well and cook 1-2 minutes.
- Add broth and potatoes; bring to boil and cook till tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Whisk flour into water. Slowly stir the mixture into the soup and simmer until slightly thickened.
- Add milk; stir well and simmer 1-2 minutes while stirring.
- Add cheese and stir well.
In honor of my mom’s birthday tomorrow (January 18), I thought I’d share what Brett and I gave her as a Christmas present. As most of our family and friends know, she hasn’t had the easiest past few months, and that’s an understatement. More about that here. Needless to say that even though she hasn’t felt like it, she’s been incredibly strong and very inspiring to many, many people.
This verse was one Mom had in the hospital with her, one I read to her often, and one she posted to her Facebook awhile ago. I knew it was a favorite of hers, and even though we didn’t “do presents” with my parents this year, it was something Brett and I still wanted to do for her.
I don’t normally work with images like this in the background, but this time I wanted something with color and something inspiring. What better than a sunrise or sunset?
It took me a few tries to get the text just how I wanted it (as is the normal process for design). My first thought was “bold”, but when the letters blocked out so much color, I re-thought the whole thing. Outlined letters to the rescue! It turned out exactly how I wanted it, which was great. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, and it just takes a lot more experimenting and tweaking and obsessing. Good thing I love doing what I do!
This is one of my favorite prints that I’ve made. It’s available in my store here, so check it out!
Gifts in jars . . . what could be cuter? I got this idea from a conglomeration of pins that showed pretty much anything you could imagine stuffed into jars as presents: banana bread mixes, drink mixes, foot scrubs, handmade lotions — the possibilities are endless, and mason jars just make everything cute. Am I right? Just look: You know I’m right.
I made one of these for each of my five co-workers, Brett’s co-teacher, our landlords, and my best friend in Ohio . . . eight in all. The jars came in a package of 12 from Walmart. Target also has them, as does probably every other craft store out there. The ribbon also came from Walmart’s craft aisle. As for the “directions”, I just used a couple fun fonts and printed them myself, adhering to the jar with two small pieces of double-sided tape.
I actually did a test-run of placing the ingredients in the jar and then making the recipe itself. No way was I going to give away a recipe that was a dud. Luckily I only had to make a couple of adjustments and the cookies were great. But I also learned an important lesson . . . let’s just say it looked like a flour bomb exploded all over my kitchen table, and that’s an understatement. It’s actually really difficult to measure out two cups of flour, mix in some baking soda and salt, and then put the mixture in a jar without spilling, oh, half of it.
So you would think my first step would be to re-visit the canning aisle where I got the mason jars for a canning funnel, right? Oh, you give me too much credit. Of course I didn’t go there. I didn’t even know those funnels existed. I went to the kitchen gadgets aisle, and there aren’t funnels there. None. And when I asked someone where to find them, I was led to — where else — the oil aisle for cars. Well, the good news is there were funnels, and I got so excited to use my new funnel. Seriously, my excitement over a funnel was a little ridiculous, and not long-lasting. The flour immediately got stuck in the mouth. Cue me banging the jar on the table to get the flour down and using a wooden spoon handle to shove it through. It took forever. So the bad news is I didn’t realize until after driving the 20 minutes to Walmart and 20 minutes back that I needed a wide-mouth funnel. Somehow I finally completed all eight jars, but I totally learned that lesson. Never again.
Besides all of that, I really did enjoy making these cute gifts and giving them away. I realize a lot of people make and receive tons of cookies around Christmastime, but to me, here was a major time-saver handed to you in an adorable package: going to a Christmas party and quickly need a dessert to take? Having a few friends over and nothing in the pantry? Or maybe you’re simply craving nice, warm chocolate-y cookies from the oven and don’t have the ingredients to make them from scratch? Well, here you go. All you need besides the mix are two eggs, some butter, and vanilla extract. Yum! Here are the instructions for the jars:
Christmas M&M Cookies in a Jar (adapted from this recipe)
What you need:
- 1 quart-sized glass jar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/4 t. salt
- 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
- 1/4 c. white sugar
- 1 1/2 c. chocolate candies or chocolate chips (I used half mini green and red M&Ms, half mini chocolate chips)
- Rinse the jar with hot water and dry thoroughly.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Place this mixture in the bottom of the jar.
- Onto this, layer the brown sugar, then the white sugar, and finally the chocolate candies/chips.
- Attach the following directions to the jar: (1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (2) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (3) Empty the contents of the jar into a large bowl and mix well. (4) Using your hands, add in 3/4 c. softened butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (5) Beat 2 eggs with 1 t.vanilla extract. Work this into the flour mixture until well-combined. If dough is too crumbly, place in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. (6) Shape dough into 1 inch-sized balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Slightly flatten the dough balls. (7) Bake for 10-14 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Remove cookies to a rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen small cookies.
Well, well . . . long time, no see. Sorry about that. Sometimes life just gets in the way. And sometimes I’m lazy. But let’s be honest, the “life” excuse sounds way better.
For my first post in the new year, I’m sharing our Christmas card! I had way too much fun designing it. I’ve been seeing the “year-in-review” cards becoming more and more popular, but I wanted to put my own spin on it. Instead of tons of miscellaneous information, I tried to think of a few key things that happened in 2013 and turned them into graphics. Did I say I had fun? Because I did.
One of my secrets of coming up with color palettes is . . . *gasp* . . . researching color palettes on Google. Sure, I can come up with various color combinations myself, but sometimes people have combined colors that I would never think of. I wanted our cards to have a fun palette, not too Christmas-y and not too far away either. The orange-y red, greenish blue, gray, and off-white seemed perfect.
I also have to give a major shout-out to Overnight Prints. Last year we sent out a postcard that we printed and mailed through Vistaprint. Not only was the quality of the picture we included not that great, but about 1/4 of our mailing list never received the cards! I vowed never to use Vistaprint again, but when I researched printers this year, every company had what seemed like sky-high prices. I was seriously considering Vistaprint again when I stumbled upon Overnight Prints. Their website is awesome and totally user-friendly. Their prices were great and they send a sample pack of their products! The quality of their samples was fantastic. And the best part? The night I ordered our cards, Overnight Prints was having a half-off sale on postcards! I couldn’t believe it. We got an incredible price for thick, semi-glossy, quality postcards. They also were shipped and delivered right on time. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. (Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to say nice things about Overnight Prints. They have no idea who I am. I just had a good experience and wanted to share!)
Here’s how the back side of our cards looked, along with a side note about this picture: it was totally taken in our apartment. We really wanted to take a nice winter-y picture outside, but the weather wouldn’t cooperate with us. So the hubby set up a makeshift tripod and I edited out the background. I would call it a success.
It’s also important to me to include the true reason we celebrate Christmas. It may sound cliche to many of you, but it’s not about presents or even spending time with family and friends. Those are wonderful, fun things, but they mean absolutely nothing in the long run. Only by knowing Jesus can we truly live.
And last but not least . . . I know I totally ragged on Vistaprint a few paragraphs ago, but I did back down and order one thing from them. I really wanted some custom address labels that matched our cards, and Vistaprint was having a great deal. I think I got 140 address labels for $3. Can’t beat that! Here’s what they looked like (obviously with the address blurred out):
So that was our Christmas card this year. I’d love to do something completely different each year, but I loved the format of this card so much it may become a template for future years! I would also love to create custom Christmas cards for anyone who would like them, so when November rolls around, remember to contact me!