Archive for the ‘Simple Living’ Category

Quick Trip Home

December 17, 2013

Well it seems that blogging has gone by the way side lately; time has been speeding by so quickly and all of a sudden it’s been two months since my last post. Eek! This can only mean one of two things: our lives have been unusually boring and therefore nothing blog-worthy has been happening OR our lives are full to the brim with things I wish I had time to share, but don’t…the latter is definitely the case :)

On a sad note, our sweet Otis went to doggie heaven a couple months ago. I honestly believe that the bigger the dog, the bigger the heart and our loving buddy was no exception to this rule; he was a big, tough guard dog on the outside and a cuddly marshmallow on the inside. I’ll never forget how he would bark and growl at Mark the first few years that we dated but over time Otis grew to trust him and finally they could wrestle and play together in the yard. You’re definitely missed sweet buddy.

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Mark and I went to Rogers for an extended weekend as sort of a pre-Thanksgiving visit and got to enjoy some relaxation time on the farm. It’s so nice to get away and just do nothing! Dad showed off his new remote controlled airplane and even let Mark fly it, I took some photos of the garden and of the newest litter of kittens and we went on walks around the property with pellet guns (our favorite).

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We also got in a little bodark bowling with Ben, a classic Baecker family pastime. If you are new to the sport, it is basically this: gather a wheel-barrel full of bodarks (aka: horse apples) after they’ve fallen from the Bodark tree, wheel them down to the top of the driveway hill and take turns bowling them down the gravel road to see whose can go the furthest.

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It actually takes more skill than you would think, after all the gravel is bumpy and the road curves a bit so you have to hit the rocks just right and keep your horse apple from bouncing off to the side. As kids we would do this all the time and then leave our leftover bodarks in the road for us to drive over later. I’d say our design this time was the best yet.

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Of course a Rogers visit wouldn’t be complete without a pic of our favorite feline, Mr. Jack. Here he is posing while he sits in the kitchen sink, patiently waiting for someone to turn the faucet on so he can drink from it (just a slow dribble, not too fast or he won’t drink). He’s definitely spoiled rotten.

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And our favorite canine as well, my Sadie May. She kills me with her sweet jealousy…I was sitting in a lawn chair with a cat sleeping in my lap and she comes over, puts her head on top of the cat and wags her tail, wanting a scratch behind the ear. Sweet, silly dog :)

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Homemade Ice Cream

May 18, 2012

Over 30 years ago my parents received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift; we used it countless times over the years on the 4th of July, at birthday parties and on random summer nights. That same maker is still kicking today and with all of the great memories it provided for our family my parents decided to buy Mark and I one for our wedding as well, to carry on the tradition. We’ve only used it a handful of times over the past two and a half years but we’ve enjoyed it very much.

I can just imagine the fun we will have making ice cream with friends, with family and with our kids someday. Here’s hoping that this one will last us 30+ years as well!

Autumn Bucket List

October 6, 2010

If you know me at all you probably know about my love of list making; grocery lists, to do lists, packing lists…the list goes on and on {mwahaha}. You might have also caught on to the fact that Fall is my favorite season {sorry Summer, I liked my tan but not the sweat and 105 degree heat}. Today, I am combining my love of the third season with my love of lists and brainstorming 10 things that I hope to accomplish in the next couple of months.

:: Britney’s top ten list of must-do’s this Fall season ::

– Pick apples at an orchard and bake a pie {check}

– Collect pinecones and use them for decoration {half check}

Build something with my dad and bake something with my mom {half check}

Carve pumpkins with the husband {check}

Take an extended weekend camping trip {check}

– Drink hot chocolate while wearing warm socks

Cook a big pot of stew or chili and bake cornbread {check}

Go to an Aggie football game in College Station {check}

– Wear boots, sweaters and scarves

Wrestle with Sadie in the leaves/cuddle with a warm kitty {check}

What Fall-inspired fun makes your list?

Sunfood Farm

June 29, 2010

In case you didn’t already know my dad loves to garden, so much in fact that he has slowly begun to share his produce with others. He started out by taking lettuce to local Dyer Dairy in Georgetown where they sold it along with their milk, cheeses, meats and other goods. Then a couple of weeks ago Scott & White hospital held their first farmer’s market as a part of their wellness program and my dad was invited.

In preparation for the event he asked my help with brainstorming a name and designing a logo for his growing farm. The name was inspired by some quotes from the Omnivore’s Dilemma; in the book, Pollan spends a week at the infamous Polyface Farm where he discovers that farming is {in the simplest of terms} harvesting the sun’s energy into a form that we can consume. Therefore sun energy + plants = sunfood.

The farmer’s market went really well…ours was by far the best looking table {I should have ironed the table cloth}. There were about 20 vendors total; a couple selling grass-fed beef and jerky, one selling eggs, a couple with dairy and cheeses, many selling various fruits and vegetables and one table with nothing but home-canned pickles.

My dad enjoys experimenting with different varieties of vegetables in order to discover new, tastier produce that is best suited to grow in the hot, central Texas climate. This definitely proved to be advantageous for our table because we had things that nobody else had! Most of the other produce tables had red potatoes, yellow squash, cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, etc. while our table consisted of two varieties of garlic, sweet Texas onions, fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard, rosemary and sage.

My dad also came up with this great idea of selling pre-made baskets of mixed vegetables along with a recipe for making a simple soup. Each “Sunfood Soup in a Sack” contained one pepper, some potatoes, an onion, a tomato, a couple cloves of garlic and a bunch of Swiss chard. All you need to add is your choice of a piece of meat!

We both had a fun time and it was definitely a great first farmer’s market experience. I can’t wait for the next one!

A Peachy Weekend

June 9, 2010

Last weekend I spent a couple of days at home with my parents while Mark was out of town and my mom and I decided to make peach jam!

Early Saturday morning we hit up the Temple and Belton farmer’s markets and scored a half bushel of lovely, local peaches for just $20.

The first steps were to pick out the ripe peaches, rinse them off and remove the pits. Then we ran them through this juicer/grinder that squished out all of the juice and pulp, leaving behind just the skins.

Then we added a little honey, some sugar and the pectin and brought it all to a simmer on the stove.

Once the peach mixture was nice and bubbly we ladled it into some half pint jars, screwed on the lids and placed them in the water bath for about 10 minutes {this is the point at which the camera battery died so, sadly there aren’t any more in-process pictures}.

Once I got back home I cut a few circles out of some fabric that I had and put it under the lids to make them look all cute!

Making the peach jam with my mom was so great and every time I use some of the jam I’ll remember the time we spent making it together! I had forgotten how fun it is to can stuff; it takes a lot of time and effort but in the end you’re left with these wonderful jars of deliciousness that you can choose to keep or share with friends {plus you know what’s in it}.

Since we only used about half of the peaches to make the jam, I brought the rest home and last night Mark and I made peach hand pies. No, I didn’t know what hand pies were either until I started looking up peach recipes; they are basically what the name implies, little pies that you can eat with your hands. Every recipe that I could find was just a rendition of the one I found on Smitten Kitchen in which the crust is made from scratch. But since I didn’t feel like being that crazy I stole an idea from this Good Housekeeping recipe and used pre-made pie crusts instead. Needless to say they were AMAZING, Mark and I both ate one right after they came out of the oven; the only thing it needed was some vanilla ice cream!

I forgot to take a picture and they all got eaten when I took them to bible study this morning so here’s my adjusted recipe instead:

Bourbon Peach Hand Pies

1 T. butter

4 t. cornstarch

1/3 c. sugar + some for sprinkling

2 lb. {about 5 large} ripe peaches, unpeeled, pitted & chopped

dash salt

1 t. vanilla

2 T. bourbon

1 T. fresh lemon juice

2 pkg. unbaked pie crusts (4 crusts total)

1 egg, beaten

Take pie crusts out of refrigerator and let warm to room temperature.

In large, non-stick skillet melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir together peaches, sugar, salt, vanilla & bourbon; add to butter in skillet. Cook 20-25 minutes or until peaches are very tender and mixture has thickened and is bubbly {the smell of the peaches simmering with the vanilla and bourbon is to die for, seriously…you should make these}. Be sure to stir frequently. Remove skillet from heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Unfold dough and cut into quarters. Wet edges of dough with water to help the dough stick to itself then spoon about 2 T. of peach filling onto the center of each dough piece. Fold dough over filling and seal edges by pressing with a fork. Transfer pies to cookie sheets.

Brush tops of pies with beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar. With knife, cut 2 slits in the tops of each pie.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower oven racks after 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream!

My Week Without TV

April 3, 2010

Earlier this week I decided not to watch television for a while and see what would happen…

it…was…great.

I caught myself so many times headed for the couch just to relax for a minute, I didn’t realize how often I actually watched television. So I had to find other things to do; I read a lot of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, I cleaned, I organized, I made granola bars, I laid out, and not to mention this is my third post of the week. I had so much time to do stuff! To be honest, I don’t really feel like I missed much. It’s a lot harder to turn the TV off when it’s already on than to avoid turning it on in the first place.

In our gym here at the apartment complex there are televisions built into the cardio equipment and there is a huge flat screen on the wall that is always on. I brought my ipod so I could run without watching TV but the flat screen I had no control over since other people there were watching something on it while working out. From those few moments of having something on in the background during my week of no TV, I have come to these three conclusions:

1) I HATE COMMERCIALS. I feel that by watching commercials I’m letting them get to me in some way. It’s bad when you can sing along to the jingles.

2) TV is so vulgar. I flipped through a few channels just now and saw some female comedian going on about what she screams during sex…really? Seriously people, c’mon.

3) TV is a time machine. They should have made a movie called TV Time Machine instead of a hot tub because this thing is legit. It’s so easy to mindlessly sit and watch for a few hours and then all of the sudden you start seeing the commercials for girls gone wild or the hot girls you can call on the phone and you’re like, oh dang it’s already 1am….where did the time go?!

From all of this I have come up with a new rule for myself: don’t watch television unless there is a specific show on that you know you want to watch. There is one new show that I’m interested in which I will make an exception for, it’s called Food Revolution {check this out}. Anyone seen it yet?

Green Smoothie Test Results

April 2, 2010

After a few weeks of having a smoothie almost every day I’m proud to say that I did lose a couple of pounds {not that my goal was necessarily to lose weight but YAY anyways!}. I have to admit, it was really hard to keep up with having one every day because my work schedule/workout schedule varies so much. Also, it’s hard to always have fresh fruit and greens on hand without making a special trip to the grocery store in between normal runs. It helped that Mark wanted in on the smoothie action after workouts, the only problem is that he likes his minus the green stuff; but we started adding protein powder so his smoothie could be a little more manly :)

In the end I did miss a few days; I’ve heard that you have to do something every day for 21 days in a row in order to make it a habit…oh well. I don’t think I’ll continue to have a green smoothie every single day, but it’s nice to have the ingredients around so it’s an option. Most of the time when we go work out together it’s already 8:30-9:00pm once we get back and eating something heavy that late is never good, so in that situation a smoothie is the perfect solution.

We’ve perfected our strawberry/banana recipe:

– 1 banana

– 4-6 strawberries

– 2oz. apple juice

– 2oz. pineapple juice

– a handful of greens

It’s usually a lot better if the fruit is frozen and the juices have been refrigerated, otherwise you end up with a lukewarm smoothie which is kind of gross really.

I just went to HEB today and got frozen blueberries, blackberries and mangoes…looking forward to creating a fun new recipe!

The Cult of Busy

March 29, 2010

“Some of the best thinkers throughout history had some of their best thoughts while going for walks, playing cards with friends, little things, things that generally would not be considered the hallmarks of busy people. It’s the ability to pause, to reflect, and relax, to let the mind wander, that’s perhaps the true sign of time mastery, for when the mind returns it’s often sharper and more efficient, but most important perhaps, happier than it was before.”  –  Scott Berkun

This quote from Scott Berkun’s blog post The Cult of Busy really speaks to me for some reason. It makes me want to throw my television out the window, spend more time reading, or just plain do nothing to leave time for unexpected detours or adventures. I think I’ll challenge myself to take a break from television this week {except for the Office that is}.

Green Smoothie: Day 2 & 3

March 13, 2010

So I had another green smoothie with my lunch yesterday, I brought it with me to work along with half a sandwich and a granola bar; to my surprise I could hardly finish all of what I had brought, that smoothie was so darn filling! I made the same strawberry/banana/spinach mixture and found that it was already starting to get a little boring. I’ve read that it’s good to change up what fruits and greens go into your smoothie day after day so that you get as many varying nutrients as possible.

With that thought in mind, Mark and I visited the Austin Farmer’s Market on 4th and Guadalupe this morning to scope out the scene {we had never been before} and find some other fresh greens. The market was great, the sunny weather and cool breeze made for a perfect day to walk around and see what all the vendors were selling. I bought a small bunch of baby swiss chard and a head of red lettuce, then we headed back to make lunch.

This time my smoothie consisted of some frozen strawberry/blueberry/raspberry fruit mix, a little orange juice and a handfull of the swiss chard. The change in fruit was nice but this one definitely tasted a little “green.” I knew going in that chard has a stronger, more bitter taste but the thicker and darker green the leaves are the better it is for you. All in all it turned out to be pretty tasty, it wasn’ t green in color this time thanks to all those red berries and the orange juice gave it some acidity.

I’m sure 90% of this is all in my head but I’ve felt more energetic the past few days. And when I start my day off by drinking a smoothie, I start my day with a healthy attitude. I think I’m going to start replacing my breakfasts with a smoothie; I’ve never been a huge fan of breakfast anyways {I’m not much of a morning person}.

My goal right now is to have one green smoothie a day for 14 days…so day 3 is down, 11 more to go!

Green Smoothie Experiment

March 11, 2010

Lately, I’ve been searching for a way to fit more fruits and green vegetables into my everyday diet and I think I’ve found a solution…green smoothies! It just makes perfect sense to me, I love fresh fruit smoothies so why not throw in a handful of leafy greens and make it even better?

After a little research I found that drinking green smoothies has a TON of healthy benefits including increased energy, regular digestion, healthier skin & hair, reduced appetite and not to mention it makes you feel good! I know that when I eat healthy I feel more motivated to exercise and vice versa; but that goes the other way too, when I eat crappy food I feel like being a slug. Of course this is all a challenge that we each face everyday, such is the omnivore’s dilemma {great book so far}.

My thought process is this: the more raw foods I consume, the more steps I’m taking out of the trip our food’s energy makes from the sun into my system. For example, with spinach {or any plant}, the sun’s energy is harvested through photosynthesis and then we eat the spinach…two steps. Then there’s the everyday breakfast cereal; sun to the grain, grain is dried and ground to a flour, then its mixed with things like sweeteners, flavoring agents, vitamins & minerals {that must be added because the natural ones are lost in the process}, that all gets cooked, then pressed and dyed into some shape attractive to children, which is then stored in plastic bags……you get the point, I don’t know how many steps to call that but the point is the more our food is messed with, the less natural nutrients remain in the final product.

…sorry, I tend to get up on my little soap box when I blog because it feels more like I’m just thinking and not typing something that someone actually might read, haha….ANYWAYS, on to the experiment!

I decided to start out with something simple, a strawberry banana smoothie. Ingredients included one ripe banana, 4 or 5 strawberries, a handful of spinach, water and a dash of cinnamon.

The first step was to cut up the fruit into chunks and place in the blender with about 1/4 cup of water and blend until smooth; I added a few ice cubes too. At this point the smoothie still looked normal and it tasted great.

Then came the spinach…

I added the cinnamon last after everything was already nice and creamy. It definitely looked like Nickelodeon slime, except with little flecks of spinach leaves. To my surprise it really didn’t taste that different after adding the spinach, just a tiny bit more “healthy” but nowhere near “grassy.”

This particular smoothie did turn out rather thick, I think I’ll add more water next time or maybe I’ll run by a smoothie shop and steal some of their huge, 1/2″ diameter straws. I’m looking forward to experimenting with creating some new recipes using different fruits and vegetables, should be fun!