#100HappyDays Recap

I did it!  I completed the #100HappyDays Challenge by capturing moments that make me happy for 100 days straight.  The challenge was harder than I expected.  A few bad days here and there made it tough, but the required photo-a-day task reinforced the need to find the good in every day.  Looking back at my images, it becomes very obvious what makes this girl happy – family, friends, food, exercise and being outside.  (Although a little shoe shopping and vacation planning doesn’t hurt either.)

If this challenge taught me anything, it was to enjoy the little things in life and to take time for myself each day.  Even just a few moments to enjoy a blooming flower.  Or, indulge in dessert after dinner.  Make time to catch up with a friend.  Escape from the city to enjoy the peace of a hiking trail in the mountains.  Whatever brings a smile to your face, take the time to do it.  Life is far too short – live it to the fullest!

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Did any of you participate in the challenge with me?  What did you learn about yourself?

- Brittany

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Recent Reads – June

Wow, how are we already a week into July?!  June was filled with quick weekend trips, lots of time with family and friends and household projects, including painting the exterior of our house.  Needless to say, June was busy!   I only managed to get through one book – the latest Emily Giffin novel.

June Recent Reads

The One & Only, by Emily Giffin
Growing up as the best friend of the coach’s daughter, Shea Rigsby’s life has always revolved around Walker college football.  She remained in Walker for college and accepted a job in the college athletic department following graduation.  Shea and her mother were still incredibly close with Lucy, Coach Carr and his wife, Connie.  When Connie suddenly passes away from a long-term illness, Shea experiences a midlife crisis of sorts.  She questions her life decisions and begins to push herself outside of her comfort zone.  In the process of finding herself, Shea realizes she is in love with someone that has been there all along.  But, when Shea follows her heart, she gets herself into a real mess…

I have read all of Emily Giffin’s novels and have enjoyed them as quick and easy poolside or airplane reads.  However, The One & Only left me rather disappointed in comparison to Giffin’s previous novels.  The book was predictable from the start and had far too much football talk for a chick-lit novel, in my opinion.  Without giving too much away, I thought the subject of her crush was a bit disturbing.  Additionally, there were a couple of loose ends or story lines that were never fully explained.  The end also felt a bit rushed, in comparison to the rest of the book.

Have you read The One & Only?  If so, what was your opinion?

- Brittany

Monday Mantra: trust

Happy post-4th of July weekend!  I hope you had a fabulous time celebrating.  We got in our fair share of Independence Day shenanigans and added a little extra to our “reasons to celebrate list” with a birthday bash for a very special birthday girl!  Lots of friends, family and good times!!  SO much good times in fact, that I’m still feeling a little tired today…All worth it though!  Spending so much time laughing and catching up with so many wonderful people reminds me of all of the blessings in our lives!  That no matter if things aren’t going the way we’ve planned them or how we think they should be, life is good!  We are fortunate and blessed with so much love around us.

“Trust that when the answer is no, there’s a better yes down the road”

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Have a fabulous week
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: step

Happy Monday!  I hope you had a great weekend…we did!  It was a scheduled – unscheduled weekend!!  Meaning we purposely didn’t make any plans so that we could just roll with the punches and do what we felt like doing!  (those do NOT come along often!)  So we spent some time with friends, enjoyed the outdoors  (i have the sunburn to prove it) and caught up on a little relaxation!  When the husband and I take a few minutes to breath and stop running around…it gives us the chance to think about what we want next in life.  Wether its the next house project to tackle, next step in our lives together or even a fabulous vacation to plan.  Sometimes the best ideas come from those moments that you let yourself dream.  For some its finding the time or the money to accomplish them, for others its finding the courage to take that first step.  Dream BIG and go for it!

The vision must be followed by the venture.
It is not enough to stare up the steps
We must step up the stairs.
~ V. Havner

stairs

Happy Monday
~ Jillian

Basil Corn

A local steakhouse has won our loyalty with its simple approach to steaks and the to-die-for sides on the menu.  One of our favorite sides is the Basil “Fried” Corn.  The concept is simple, yet the flavor combination is unexpected and delicious. We love the simplicity and flavors of this dish, and now make it at home between visits to the steakhouse.  Basil corn is a great accompaniment to grilled steaks, fish, chicken or even a grilled portobello mushroom cap.  Make this simple side for your next barbecue or at upcoming 4th of July celebrations to impress your family and friends.

BasilCorn

Basil Corn
Serves 4

4 ears of corn, shucked and cut off of cob {or 3 cups frozen corn}
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
3 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper, to taste

Remove the husks and silk threads from the corn cobs.  Carefully cut the kernels away from the cob into a bowl.  {For extra flavor, grill the corn before removing the kernels from the cobs.}

Melt the butter in a pan.  Add corn kernels and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often.  Once the kernels are tender, remove the pan from heat.

Chiffonade the fresh basil and add to the pan, stirring to incorporate.  Salt and pepper, to taste.

Enjoy!

- Brittany

Monday Mantra: new beginning

Happy Monday and Happy summer!  We kicked off this summer with some seriously HOT temperatures, a little down time and a lot of fabulous time spent with family and loved ones!!  It’s hard to believe how quickly this year is flying by…I feel like we just celebrated the new year!  The faster time seems to fly, the more I want to stop, slow down and enjoy!!  We never truly know what is around the corner or what the universe has in store for us.  Life is full of surprises…which is what makes it AWESOME!!

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

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Choose Joy!
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: the Dance

I don’t know about you…but I could use a little extra kick this lovely monday morning!!  We had a great weekend enjoying a little fresh air, some extra relaxation and lots of laughs with great people.  After such a fun weekend traveling, I feel like I need just one more day of rest to recharge for a busy week!  BUT instead how about a little moment of inspiration and a super cute little girl to get you going??

“Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance”

dancing

(Be sure to check out the inspirational blog Enjoying the Small Things to learn all about this adorable little one and her sweet momma! Such a joy! )

Happy Monday
~ Jillian

Recent Reads – May

May proved to be another busy month!  We logged quite a few miles on hiking trails, squeezed in a weekend camping trip, and made sure we spent more time outside overall.   I still managed to read a couple of books this month…well, I finished one and tried to get through another.  Oddly enough, both books had the word “shadows” in the title.  However, the similarities stopped there…

MayRecentReads

Dreams and Shadows, by C. Robert Cargill
I picked up this science fiction novel during a “daily deal” eBook promotion and thought I’d challenge myself to venture outside my typical reads.  I have to admit, my first foray into science fiction was pretty disappointing and this book was abandoned about a quarter of the story.  Perhaps sci-fi is just not my style, or maybe it was not a great first book for the genre.  The plot seemed to be all over the place and not really in a character development manner.  I did manage to get through the first 100 or so pages, before abandoning the Dreams and Shadows altogether.  Up to that point, the story had involved a cast of seemingly unrelated characters including baby-snatching rejected spawn of fairies and goblins, a wish-granting genie, fairies, and changelings, among others.  About a quarter of the way into the novel, a rather gruesome scene played out when several of these forest inhabitants teamed up to systematically and violently kill four campers one-by-one.  I was struggling to get through the book, but that last scene sealed the deal for me.

Shadows In The Sun, by Gayathri Ramrasad
“The more I try to control my errant moods, the less in control I feel.  With each passing day, the stone wall of alienation grows thicker, taller, and more impenetrable between us, until I feel completely abandoned.  Unable to think clearly or cope, I withdraw into a shell of sullen defiance.  I need their approval as much as a sunflower needs the sun.  Devoid of it, I begin to wilt – physically and emotionally.”

Gayathri Ramrasad penned her memoir, Shadows in the Sun, recounting her lifelong struggle with depression and generalized anxiety disorder.  Born and raised in India, in a culture that views depression as a sign of weakness and a disgrace for her family, Gayathri and her family hid her illness and assumed that prayer and rest would remedy her erratic mood swings.   Her arranged marriage to an Indian man living in United States moved Gayathri to Portland.  With a fresh start and new life, her emotional and mental well-being temporarily improved and her family felt it was all behind them.  Following the birth of her daughter, Gayathri’s depression spiraled out of control.  Suicidal thoughts and attempts became a regular occurrence.  Once properly diagnosed, Gayathri begins a long road to recovery which included failed attempts with medications, supervised psychiatric care and holistic approaches to controlling her depression.  Gayathri’s memoir offers a raw and uncensored view of the mental state of a person suffering from depression.  With mental health being such an important and controversial topic in our society, I found Gayathri’s story to be enlightening and moving.  A must read for those who know someone who is suffering from depression.

 

What have you been reading lately?  Any suggestions for an easy or fun pool/beach read?   I just picked up Emily Giffin’s latest novel and plan to read it this month.  I would love other suggestions.

- Brittany

Monday Mantra: the Meaning of Life

Happy monday to you.  I hope you had a great weekend, we spent it catching up with family, playing in the yard and just relaxing in general (so nice to have weekends like that every now and then!!)  It’s safe to say that the past year has been a bit crazy for me and the boy.  We have made LOTS of changes, from where we live to where we work…no rest in these parts!!  But thru it all we have  come one step closer to finding our “happy place”.  I hope you and yours are enjoying your journey down the path of life and finding happiness and meaning in all that you do!!

“The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”
~ William Shakespeare

gift

Happy Monday
~ Jillian

Cooking with Rhubarb

On a recent grocery run, I finally found rhubarb for sale!  Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is a bright red, crisp, celery-like stalk, with an unexpected tart flavor.  Rhubarb is typically cooked with sugar, to tame the tartness.  I generally lower the sugar by adding strawberries when I cook the rhubarb.

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Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote
Makes 2 cups

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
3-4 rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, over medium-high heat.  Stir occasionally, until rhubarb begins to break down and soften, approximately 8-10 minutes.  Once cooled, refrigerate until ready to serve.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

 

I’ve been making a rhubarb strawberry compote for years, always using it as a topping over ice cream or over Greek yogurt with granola for breakfast.  But, I’m drooling over the these cardamom crepes topped with the rhubarb-strawberry compote!

cardamom crepes

(Source)

 

A few other recipe ideas using rhubarb:

rhubarb sweet rolls

rhubarb strawberry smoothie

or try a rhubarb simple syrup in an adult beverage, like Rhubarb Fizz.

rhubarb upside down cake

 

Have you cooked with rhubarb?  If so, please share your favorite recipes!

- Brittany