Friday, March 27, 2015

Jesus Swagger - Book Review

Do you have Jesus Swagger?

It's not just calling yourself a Christian. It's not just going to church every Sunday. It's not just placing a Jesus fish on your car.

According to author Jarrid Wilson, Jesus Swagger is a lifestyle that follows the teachings of Jesus. It's living a life that reflects Jesus' example. Many people claim to be Christians, but they don't walk the walk. They don't have swagger.

In his book Jesus Swagger: Break Free from Poser Christianity, Wilson challenges Christians to take a leap of faith, to garner up the courage, to fear/respect God enough to truly walk the path Jesus paved. It's hard! Any Christian knows that. In order to walk the Jesus path, you've got to detour off your own selfish path, giving up what you want for what God wants.

In the first chapter, Wilson gives eight examples of differences between being a believer and being a follower. It's not enough to just believe in Christ. You've got to follow his teachings. It's all about your actions. Are you acting in a way that shows people Christ? I once read somewhere that people should be able to look at you and see Christ. That's what this book is about. Can people just tell you're a Christian or are you doing a good job of hiding it because you fear what others will say about you?

One of the passages in the book that stuck out to me was about Mother Teresa. Everyone knows what a great person Mother Teresa was. She's truly unique and one-of-a-kind. But if there are so many Christians in the world, shouldn't there be more people like Mother Teresa? How can there only be one person out of so many who is willing to show the love of Jesus in such an unabashedly public way? There should be millions of Mother Teresas out in the world!

There's a lot of good information in this book. I don't think much of it is unique, but it is a good reminder to Christians to reevaluate where they stand. This would be a book to take off the bookshelf every so often to keep your faith journey in check, to give you strength to be Christ-like without abandon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

3 Pizza Toppings for Schar Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts

Several days ago, Schar sent a group of gluten-free food bloggers, including myself, three complimentary boxes of Schar gluten-free pizza crusts with instructions to make some awesome gluten-free pizzas and share them with our blog readers! I made three different pizzas:

To start, you've gotta have your classic pepperoni pizza. I made this one by request from my husband. I used Prego pizza sauce (the jar says "gluten-free"), Hormel pepperoni slices (the package says "gluten-free"), and shredded mozzarella cheese. Super simple. It's truly a classic.

If you like white pizzas (no red sauce), then you might like this one. It's one of my favorite new pizzas! Alfredo sauce as the base (make sure your brand is gluten-free), spinach, shredded mozzarella, and crumbled goat cheese. Man, I love goat cheese.

Another one of my favorite pizzas is a black bean pizza. The topping mixture is just one can of black beans (rinsed and drained), one cup of frozen corn (thawed), 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. chili powder, one chopped avocado, 1/2 cup chopped scallions, 1/2 tsp. salt, three dashes of pepper, and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. You can also add diced tomatoes, if you want, but I don't like tomatoes.

For all of these pizzas, just pile your toppings onto the Schar pizza crust and bake according to the instructions on the Schar box. Each box of Schar pizza crusts includes TWO personal-size crusts, and all of the above pizza toppings make enough for two of those pizzas.

What I like about the Schar gluten-free pizza crusts is that they have a nice thin crust consistency and they stay that way even after you top them and bake them. The same cannot be said of other gluten-free pizza crusts, which get a little soggy and chewy after baking.

If you're not a fan of making your own pizza (even if the crust is pre-made), then check out Schar's gluten-free frozen pizzas! There's veggie pizza and cheese pizza to be found in your grocery store's freezer aisle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You Make Me Merry

This two-pager is just one of many Christmas day scrapbook layouts you're going to be seeing over the next few weeks. I've got a lot of Christmas day pictures to scrap!

I didn't have many Christmas embellishments, so I decided to make some of my own. Those white stars are actually painted onto the page with white acrylic paint. 

Above is the star stencil that I used to paint the stars. I then painted the star stencil with the paint, placed patterned paper behind it, and used glue dots to adhere it to my layout.

One of the best things about scrapbooking is when you pull out random embellishments and make them work. This cluster of embellishments are not Christmas-specific, but they worked! And I was glad to get them out of my stash and onto a page.

Same goes for these embellishments. They just happened to be the right color and offer the right sentiment for these pictures.

Do you only use embellishments that match your papers or your theme, or do you just pull out whatever looks like it will work?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DIY Easter Wreath

A few years ago, I purchased a pre-made Easter egg wreath from the Target $1 spot. It's a perfectly nice wreath for our front door, but I wanted something a little nicer and larger to hang above our mantel during the Easter season. So I looked up a variety of different ideas in my Easter Pinterest board, and then went to Joann Fabric to pick up some supplies:

1. kraft-colored yarn
2. light pink yarn
3. 16-inch foam wreath (white or green)
4. sparkly egg accessories
5. a burlap bunny garland

My plan was to wrap the foam wreath in the kraft-colored yarn, add some of the light pink yarn as an accent, glue the sparkly eggs onto the wreath, and cut off one of the garland's burlap bunnies to also glue to the wreath.

Now, I've made a yarn wreath before. It was really simple! Just wrap the yarn around the foam wreath. However, the foam wreath I purchased wasn't covered in plastic, and you REALLY need your foam wreath in its protective plastic covering. It will make things so much easier. I decided to wrap my wreath in plastic wrap - you know, the stuff you use to attempt to cover bowls of food and it never sticks? Well, it stuck pretty well to the foam.

I did two coats of the kraft-colored yarn to make sure there was no more green left. This is a time-consuming process! Make sure to sit in a comfortable chair while you do this and take frequent breaks, otherwise your fingers and hands will start to cramp up. (Sounds super fun, right? Aren't you just dying to do this now??)

Once the wreath was completely covered, I measured out where I wanted my pink yarn to go. I did two patches close together at the top, and two patches a little more spread out on the bottom. 

(Who am I kidding? I didn't plan for the two bottom patches to be so far apart, but it ended up working, so whatever.)

In the past, I've used a hot glue gun to adhere things onto my craft projects, but I always have issues with stuff falling off after awhile. So this time, I decided to try Aleene's Turbo Tacky Glue to glue the sparkly eggs onto my wreath. A few months ago, I got box of Aleene's Tacky Glue sent to me at work. It's not something we would have reviewed at work, so I brought the box home for use on craft projects. 

It took longer for the tacky glue to dry than hot glue, but surprisingly, the sparkly eggs stuck and they haven't fallen off yet! It helps if you press down on what you're adhering for a few minutes to make sure there is a good bond.

To adhere the burlap bunny from the garland, I used the garland's cardboard packaging to add sturdy backing to the bunny before using the tacky glue to stick the bunny to the wreath.

And here is the finished product:

The container of sparkly eggs had a sheer yellow ribbon on it, which I used as a pretty hook to hang the wreath from the nail already in our brick wall.

Yes, this wreath took me two weeks off and on to complete, but I think all the effort (and hand cramping) was worth it.

Easter is almost here! Are you guys finishing up any last-minute Easter crafts? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - March 23

Snow on the First Day of Spring
Well, we rang in the first day of Spring with snow! I'm hoping that the rest of March is snow-free. Is it summer yet?

Here's what we're eating this week!

Sunday - Mrs. Leeper's Chicken Alfredo

Monday - chicken strips and fries

Tuesday - french bread pizza

Wednesday - sloppy joe's and fries

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - on our own

Saturday - on our own

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cooking with Goya Yuca, EVOO, and Adobo Seasoning

A few weeks ago, Goya sent some food bloggers, including myself, complimentary Goya products to get creative with in the kitchen! I received Goya Adobo Seasoning, Goya EVOO, and Goya Frozen Yuca.

What the heck is yuca?

As a girl of German descent living in the Midwest, yuca was not prominently featured in our grocery stores or my family's cuisine. So I really had no idea what to do with the yuca.

Before I got started, I did some research online to figure out just what it was that was now taking up space in my freezer.

Yuca is a root vegetable with many similarities to white potatoes. This super starchy tuber has its history in South America and continues to be used in South American and Caribbean cuisine as well as Asian and African meals. You can find a whole lot more information on yuca from this very helpful post over at Empowered Sustenance. There is also an embedded video from Predominantly Paleo that shows you how to prepare frozen or fresh yuca and turn it into a dough. It was this video that inspired me!

Goya did give me a yuca recipe (more on that later), but I really wanted to try something adventurous, and for my first outing with yuca, it turned out pretty well!

I used the Paleo Empanadas recipe from Predominantly Paleo to guide me, using roughly 3 cups of frozen yuca (cooking it according to the package instructions), vegetable oil instead of avocado oil (I am not that worried about my health), regular ground beef instead of grass fed (sorry cows), and regular sea salt instead of garlic sea salt.

The only issue I had with turning yuca into dough was that it gets super sticky once cooked, and it kind of clogged up my blender, and so I wasn't able to blend up all of the yuca as much as I would have liked. The original recipe calls for a VitaMix, which I don't have, so I don't know if that is just more powerful than my regular old CuisinArt blender. I would probably try to separate the yuca into two batches to make it easier to blend.

And here is the finished result! Little gluten-free empanadas made with a yuca dough! How cool is that? They were very yummy, too. (This recipe only makes 12, so next time I think I would serve it with rice or some type of dipping sauce.)

I then made the recipe that Goya gave me for Yuca with Garlic Sauce, which uses the yuca and Goya EVOO. I served it as a side to turkey burgers instead of french fries. 

Gotta say, not as fond of yuca in this form. The yuca didn't seem to suck in the garlic sauce enough to really get the flavor, and the cooked yuca tends to get these long fibrous bits in them that you have to pick out because they're not super pleasant to eat.

And last but not least, I made my own little Mexican rice side dish to accompany some Udi's breakfast burritos for dinner one night. For the rice, I used a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup of Minute Rice, 1 tsp. of Goya Adobo Seasoning, and 1/8 tsp. of cumin. Just cook the Minute Rice according to the package instructions, and then add in everything else when done. Kind of a nice change of pace from traditional white (or brown) rice.

I think the Adobo Seasoning would also add a nice flavor to a breakfast hash or home fries. Spice up your morning a little bit!

Have you tried any of these products? How do you use them in your cooking? Share favorite recipes or Goya products in the comments below!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Christmas Eve Scrapbook Page

Merry Christmas! Well... it's still Christmas in my scrapbook room.

Here's a super easy page I created, if you can even say "created", the other day. All I did was add embellishments and letter stickers. The paper itself, part of the Elle's Studio Noel line, was decorated to look like a layered scrapbook page.

While I do like layering my own scrapbook pages, sometimes pre-printed pages like this are just so nice because you don't have to do a lot of thinking or worry about having the right paper and embellishments.

The "Absolutely Amazing" chipboard sticker, the polka dot flower, and the Pebbles letter stickers were the only things I added to this layout.

The journaling spot was already on the page, which is so nice because sometimes I never have just the right journaling tag to match what I'm working on. I have a whole bag of random journaling tags, but it's still hard to find ones in the right color or style.

I loved those pre-printed stars and definitely didn't want to cover them up. I printed my pictures out as 3x5s (on my home printer) and then cropped them a bit so that I wasn't covering up too much of the pre-printed details.

How far along are you with last year's Christmas pages?