Friday, November 7, 2014

On the Why


I haven't run out of things to say, in case you're wondering. I haven't run out of things I do either. I haven't run out of things I feel or want or need either.

I spent an enormous amount of time trying to convince the world around me that it was okay, that I was okay, and where I was was okay. I wrote about it, I talked about it. It must have worked  alright because I remember a friend saying to me, "you seem so happy."

Actually, I'll let you in on a secret. I learned something over the years and it works. It's called being happy where you're at and accepting where you've been. I did both. Every day.

I'll let you in on another secret, I still needed more.

I spent 8 years as a single mother. I raised 3 wonderful human beings with some help too. He helped me provide good things for kids who didn't deserve to have no dad in their life. He provided stability and we provided companionship. It was a partnership and it worked for a while and I can't help but to be grateful.

My ex was a dud, but I missed having a partner. I wanted someone who wanted me and my kids in their life, even though it would be hard sometimes. I didn't want to feel like having kids was a liability or a disadvantage to a potential mate. I wanted to know what it felt like to be loved back when I love them so much. I didn't have any of that.

I found it, in him. I didn't even have to look because he's been right there with me.

25 years ago, I was a 6th grader in my first year of middle school when a wild-haired boy with a broad smile opened a door for me and proceeded to tease me about the "Shawn Coffee" incident (read about it here) the school year before. We didn't even go to the same school the year before, but obviously that didn't matter because EVERYONE KNEW ABOUT IT! (Insert some snarky comment about small towns here.) We had classes together on and off together the rest of the way through school. We had a similar group of friends in high school and I remember sitting next to him freezing on the quad during lunch and buying him things off the snack cart. We were on the yearbook staff together


and I remember giving rides home occasionally too. Senior year I wanted to ask him to be my date to homecoming and I can't remember why I didn't. I should have.

We grew up and left our decrepit little town and went about our lives. Several years ago when I joined the blogging world, I joined Facebook too. I befriended classmates and relatives and I received a friend request from him. I exclaimed out loud, "Omigosh! He was one of my favorites!"

I recently glanced back through our messages (did you know that Facebook counts them for you?) and we have messaged each other 10, 500 times over the years. This doesn't include texts, phone calls, messages through words with friends, and even visits in person. People who talk to me in person know of my "friend in Phoenix" because I talked about him a lot!

I missed him when we didn't talk. I thought about him more than anyone else. (Besides the kids, of course) Somewhere along the way, I didn't want to lose him. I couldn't imagine my life without him. I remember telling a mutual friend of ours that if I could ever find a way to work it out with him, I would. In a heartbeat.

I did. And it did. And know this, I am happy. I don't even care what else is going on around us, I get to be his wife. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

I have a family again. Not some patched together people who look like a family because they co-exist together. No, a real family with a mom and a dad and kids who love each other and work to make each other better.

I haven't run out of things to say. I still do things and I still have many opinions I could express.

I don't have to hold up signs that say "SEE, I AM HAPPY" anymore though. I just get to be happy and live.

And if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do just that. <3 nbsp="">

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Dress a Day inspiration




As you all know, one of my favorite things to do is to revamp old things and make them new again. I mean I LOVE it!! Imagine my excitement when I found a blogger who does it EVERY DAY! Marisa and her blog New Dress a Day spent an entire year taking thrift store dress finds  (a new one everyday) and making them fabulous! Some of her stuff is simply amazing in transformation!

Now, I found this piece as I was looking for dresses long enough for my daughter at the thrift store. I love the idea of reusing things as an eco-friendly solution, well, that and my daughter (at almost 13) is ridiculously picky and is perfectly happy to wear second-hand items that I've revamped (trust me, my wallet is thankful too). See some of them here, here, and here. Anyway, I loved the lace on this dress, but the color and fit weren't as good. We love us some Rit dye around here and I knew exactly what this dress needed.

I dyed it using Teal Rit dye on ye old counter and rinsed it in the sink and dried it in the dryer. I wasn't found of the sleeves and snipped them off pronto. It was also a bit big and I wanted the waist cinched in a bit so, I used a length of bubblegum pink ribbon in a pretty bow. I thought it turned out so cute! I wore it for Mother's Day and took my family out for a little photo shoot.



Ooh la-la!

Momma to 3? 

Gurl, puhleeze!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sew, this is what I do

Okay the title on this post in a bit misleading...because I obviously haven't sewed all of these things, I did however, create them with my own two hands. :) Up top here is a pic of me with my hot-pink dyed Levi's, these turned out so cute! I bought a pair of white jeans on clearance for like $7 and utilized a box of Rit dye in hot pink and dyed them with a lot of boiling hot water and a big metal bowl on my counter top. Super easy and you gotta love the result! :)

This next project was super fun to make! I have a friend with a little girl who was turning 3 and LOVES Curious George. I also found out that she needed a toy box and thought I would combine the two. I picked up a second-hand toy box and spray-painted it turquoise (the same color as a vintage Curious George story book). I then Googled a cute Curious George image and sketched it free-hand to the top of the lid. I colored in the image with some acrylic paint and used a black sharpie to outline the details and spayed it with a clear lacquer. I can't believe how cute it turned out! Very appropriate for a "Curious" little girl! :)


I also learned how to make felt flowers, which is super easy and pretty too! I attached one to my second-hand Down East sweater that had a couple of small holes in it and I made a hair clip or two for my daughter. I also made one for...
A sweet little dress for my youngest niece. She turned 3 in April and told me specifically that her favorite color was "lellow". :) This dress was made from a yellow tank top and the now found chambray
(click here for the rest of the chambray dresses for my nieces). I cut off the bottom of the tank top and made a skirt out of the chambray. All of the dresses I made this year featured belts and for this dress I made the belt from a little polka-dot grosgrain ribbon and made another felt flower for it. I didn't hem the skirt because the selvage was neat I wanted to keep it. Such a cute little dress! :)


 I had a coworker leaving on a L.D.S. mission and wanted to give him an appropriate present. This was a hard back journal that I picked up for cheap several years ago. I wrapped the cover with some denim making sure the seam ran along the spine and sewed a little pocket for the front. I used some spray glue (good stuff BTW) to stick the denim on and recycled a couple of pieces of cardboard with a great denim motif for the inside covers. I thought this turned out so great and was a fantastic memento. :)



 I still love felt (can you tell?) and this pillow was made for my Mommy for Mother's Day! These are colors I knew she'd love and I love, love the natural tree motif. I Googled a pine tree silhouette image and cut it out on paper. I used it a pattern and traced it onto 3 colors of felt and cut them out. Using a little Aileen's quick dry tacky glue I glued two trees to the background and let them dry. I carefully sewed around the outline on each tree and layered and glued the third tree on top. After it dried I carefully sewed around the outline of the third tree. I sewed on a brown and green border and a meadow print for the back. A little polyester fiberfill and voila, pillow! :) It turned out great and my Mommy loved it. Of course she texted me a picture of one of her dogs laying on it, so at least I know it's getting some use! lol

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Confessions of a vegetarian


If you read the title of this post, you no doubt have realized that I (Jgirl, of She's Not Your Average Mom fame) have taken the leap into a meat-free lifestyle. "So...you don't eat meat?" (insert incredulous look here) I get this comment daily...and to be honest this isn't a huge leap or anything for me. I have avoided red meat like the plague for the last 12 years in fact and have slowly whittled meat out all together for the last 5 years or so. Really, no big deal here. Honest. So, what made me want to quit it all for good?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKzng1_byMY

My family gave up cable a few years ago (seriously, best decision ever) and because of this we watch an enormous amount of educational television (we have an antenna booster) and everything that Netflix offers (including many, many documentaries). My manpanion and I sat down and watched this documentary above in it's entirety.(Yes, it's available on Netflix right now) Let me tell you that I had no whimsical ideas of farms where animals roam free that are meant for our dinner tables. I know it doesn't work that way. What amazed me is that factory farming (which is where that hamburger you are eating comes from) is so cruel, and disregarding of life in general. It's sooo hard to close your eyes and pretend that you are not contributing to the problem when you are downing your chicken dinner. I decided that I won't do it any longer and I haven't looked back.

So, do I miss any of it? Not really...although I've had to plan my meals a little more carefully to make sure I am getting enough protein and watch my sugar intake (I am hypoglycemic and too much sugar makes me really sick and getting enough protein is super important to keep my blood sugar even). Really, it's not a big deal though.
I have loved, loved cooking meat free! I made this yummy recipe last night:

Guacamole soup (GF and Dairy-free of course!)

2 large ripe avocados (peeled, pitted, and cubed)
1/2 a red onion (chopped)
1 leek (chopped)
2 small Roma tomatoes or one large tomato (diced)
1 clove of garlic
optional:{1 jalapeno (seeded and sliced)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro}
1 carton ( 32 oz Kitchen Basics) of vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup coconut milk

Heat over medium heat olive oil, onion, leek, garlic, and tomato {jalapeno and cilantro} with salt and pepper in bottom of large soup pot. Heat until onion begins to caramelize. Add vegetables to blender with avocado and half the carton of vegetable broth and blend until smooth. Return to soup pot and continue heating over medium heat and add the rest of the vegetable broth and coconut milk and lime juice and stir. Bring to a simmer and turn on low and heat through (about 10 mins.) Top with a little shredded cheese and sour cream (for nondairy-free eaters) and serve with corn chips or corn tortillas. Makes 6 servings.

This was soooo yummy good! Makes me not miss eating meat at all! ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recipe-palooza!

I was just thinking the other day that I have a bunch of recipes I've tweaked or made-up or discovered to be fantastically GF, but I've neglected to share. Shameful, I know. ;) Well, let me remedy that with the great..


Recipe-palooza!! 

sweet! Here goes:


This soup is a family favorite and can be easily modified for GF/DF individuals and back again. It is also delicious with a little cheese on top for people not sensitive to dairy. :)

Gluten-free/Dairy-free Cream of Chicken Soup

4 cups Coconut milk (dairy, soy, and almond work as well for non GF/DF)
2 tbsp Earth balance soy butter (or butter for non GF/DF)
2 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free all purpose flour (or wheat flour for non GF/DF)
2 cups cooked chicken (I use 3 breasts of boiled/shredded chicken)
1 can white beans and 1 clove garlic blended in blender (use a little milk)
½ tsp salt
½ ground black pepper
½ tsp curry
¼ tsp turmeric
1. In saucepan melt butter. Gradually stir in flour. Let this form a paste or roux and gradually stir in the milk and continue until thickened (FYI it does not thicken much without dairy milk)
2. Add chicken to the white sauce mixture. Add white bean mixture (used for thickening), salt, pepper, curry, and turmeric. Mix well and cover and simmer over low heat for 20 mins.
3. We add steamed broccoli to this as well. Asparagus or spinach are also delicious in this soup. 6 servings.
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We love Mexican dishes at our house and what a shame it is that most packaged taco mixes contain dairy. Not to worry though, it's really easy to make :)

Easy Taco Seasoning

 4 tsp granulated onion
3 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne
1. Mix together all ingredients in small air-tight container or place in baggie and shake well. May be stored up to a month.

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I crave this soup frequently, especially in the cold winter months. So, so good!


Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground corriander
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 (15 ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup light coconut milk

1. Heat the coconut oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic; cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 mins. Mix in the vegetable broth, curry powder, salt, coriander, red pepper flakes, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a gentle boil, about 10 mins. Cover, and simmer 15 to 20 mins more, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the pumpkin and the coconut milk, and cook another 5 mins.
2. Pour soup into a blender (or food processor), filling only halfway and working in batches if necessary; process until smooth. Return to pot, and reheat briefly over medium heat before serving. 6 servings.

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Unfortunately, we don't only have an issue with Gluten and Dairy and our house, we also have a peanut allergy to contend with as well. Good thing this recipe is soooo darn good, because you can't even tell. :)

Thai Peanut-free Chicken

2 cups cooked rice
3 tablespoons soy sauce (La Choy)
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter alternative (Soy-nut butter)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 breast cooked and shredded chicken
3 tablespoons garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
3/4 cup onions
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets

1. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, peanut butter alternative, vinegar, and cayenne. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in skillet or wok over high heat. Add chicken, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, about 5 mins.

3. Reduce to medium heat, add onion, broccoli, and the peanut butter alternative mixture. Cook stirring frequently for 5 mins, or until broccoli is tender. Serve over rice. 8 servings.

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What's better than a bowl of hot tomato soup on a cold evening? Not much, that's for sure!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons soy butter (Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon Bob's Red Mill All-purpose Gluten-free flour
1/2 cup coconut or soy milk
1 can low sodium V8 vegetable juice
1 can diced basil, garlic, & oregano tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 can no salt added tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 1/2 cups of baby spinach
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Blend diced tomatoes, V8 juice, Spinach, and clove of garlic in blender until smooth. Set aside.
2. In your large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir to form a smooth paste. Gradually add milk and tomato sauce stirring constantly. Add blended tomato/spinach mixture and bring to boil, stirring constantly for 2 mins or until it starts to thicken. Add sugar and salt and let simmer over medium heat 5 mins. 6 servings.

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Don't these all sound delish? I'm thinking tomato soup ought to be on the menu this evening...mmmm, don't you? :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"I never saw a discontented tree...."

Love for Ms. A
I have two beautiful friends with birthdays at Christmas-time. Can you imagine having a birthday during the holiday season? Yeah, I'm sure there are people who forget intentionally or wrap your presents in Christmas paper or give you the dreaded Christmas/birthday combo gift...um, yeah yuck. Anyway, I kinda know how they feel (my birthday is on a major holiday as well) and I like to send them something homemade each year. In the spirit of full disclosure here, I was very late this year...poo, but I have a valid reason, honestly!

It's no secret that I love felt and wanted to make something great with my favorite medium. I also love to make pillows and decided I would incorporate both loves into something beautiful. Now for the inspiration...hmmm, what should I use for an image? I actually had the idea for a graphic leaf design in the back of my head when I purchased my materials, but no concrete image to use. During a break at work I reused a couple of post-its and drew a picture of a tree branch for my co-worker. Ah! Inspiration comes from everywhere I suppose! ;) I knew the end result would be beautiful, but it did require a lot of patient sewing behind my machine.

A little love for Ms. H
I found a free image:
and drew a branch freehand onto my felt and patterned one branch from the other. I knew the body of the pillows would be tan and I wanted a graphic pop of the branches, so I used my colored felt and made stripes behind the branches. The leaves I cut from pieces of scrap felt from the branches just with my scissors in rough leaf shapes (to be more natural looking and not so uniform). Lots of gluing down and very slow moving machine work later and they turned out so beautiful! This was one of my more involved projects and even though I was annoyed it took so long, I can't help but to love the result. :)

"I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.  They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!"  ~John Muir

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Eliminate

Well, Howdy!

It turns out that I continue to live and breath. It occurred to me the other day, that if I were going to continue to tell people that I author 5 blogs...that perhaps I should, um...actually blog in them. You see, I live to please and I don't know that I even have anything to say. Not that I don't have anything going on in my life or anything. Christmas was good and a whole lot less stressful than it usually is.

So, how did I manage that? Well, let's see first I eliminated everything that stresses me out. I didn't send out Christmas cards...um, at all this year. I didn't do any holiday baking either (although I will be restocking Mr. Gluten-free's freezer this week with his goodies). I made a few things, but nothing like I normally do. Sheesh, one year I made all the holiday ornaments, wrapping paper, stockings...and it's not that I didn't love, love how it all turned out (because it was fabulous!), I just couldn't do the stress this year. And you know what? Christmas turned out perfect and simple and I was able to enjoy my family and myself and now that it's over, I can stop feeling guilty for everything I wasn't able to do. ;)


What's in store for 2013? You all know I don't believe in New Year's resolutions (I'm more of an improve yourself daily person), but I would like to share what I've learned for 2012:

1. I am my biggest critic. 

I really don't care what you think, I struggle much more with what I think. The beginning of 2012 was really rough and I was really concerned about making it to 2013 myself. I really scared myself (and some other wonderful people who I love) and once I recovered, I knew I had to change my internal dialogue. Instead of thinking, "Why doesn't anyone care how I feel?" I changed it to. "Jessica, seriously, no one cares how you feel."  It may sound a little harsh, but it works and I think I'm better for it. I no longer get caught up with how people should act or feel and practice what I preach and just accept them for who they are. And live my own life. Mine. Not yours. Not my kid's or my man's, just mine. You can't expect other people to ever make you be happy. Nope. Your happiness is entirely up to you, period.

2. Say "I love you" daily.

We cannot foresee the future and no one has a crystal ball. Who is to say that the people who are important in your life might not be there tomorrow? Right, they may not be. My kids hear it from me everyday and my man as well. I don't just say it out of habit either, I mean it. I catch people off guard and when I do, it's okay, they'll get over it ;)

3. You can't make people love you.

Nor would I want to really! I figure if life is meant to be and you were meant to be in it, then it will work itself out like it's supposed to. Love yourself first, the rest will work itself out. I am a huge dork. I love loud socks and converse sneakers. I have a sick sense of humor too. You know what? I'm good with all of this and I can put up with him too. Yep, I think we'll easily last another 9 years ;)

4. Don't take yourself seriously.

Trust me, if I have to laugh at myself. I am really dumb some days too. I know I talk big like I have the answers, but turns out I am pretty clueless and provide endless entertainment for my kids and man with the dumb things I say and do. "Would you turn on the heat seater for me too please?" Cuz, that's how I roll. :P

5. Live for today.

My idea of bliss some days is just getting a nap. I know, I know the idea of "living for today" is to be out adventuring and seeing the world. Hey, I can't help it if I am more interested in reading a book and sleeping in... that's my idea of living. Boring, I know but it makes me happy and when I have a chance to that...you better believe I'm going to take it! ;)