Friday, April 26, 2013

friday loves (in which I prove what a nerd I really am)

As I listen to Rush Limbaugh and bask in the warm air coming in my windows, I realised I have quite the collection of links to share with you. This is a wishlist kind of post, so yeah.

I'm looking for a swimsuit for the summer, and while I love most of the swimsuits on ModCloth, I found these two adorable swimsuits from Black Milk Clothing. Since I can't seem to get nicely proportioned photos on here, one of them is R2-D2 and the other is Alice in Wonderland. I've been sort of in love with the Star Wars one for a few years now, but the Alice one is so neat, too! I'll probably end up going with one from ModCloth since I can't decide...

This Book of Sith I also would love to have, because Star Wars, duh. And I have The Jedi Path already. Maybe this will be a lightning deal on May the 4th like the Jedi one was last year. I'll be watching!

I haven't had a new funky beach towel in probably ten years. We do have some very nice ones, but I need a geeky one just because. And what would be better than a TARDIS towel??? That's right, nothing. Well, except the real TARDIS with the Tenth Doctor inside.

Have a fantastic weekend, and allons-y!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

addicted to life

Hi, my name is Beth and I am addicted to life.
And books, Doctor Who, and geek/nerd culture...)

But seriously.

New experiences.
I eat them up.
Sometimes quite literally, as new experiences often come in the form of food.

This week I have been in the process of creating a goal list for my life. There are so many skills I wish to learn, so many places I wish to see (i.e. the entire world), so many foods I wish to taste and/or make. And when there are only 24 hours in a day, at least a few of which I ought to spend sleeping, I become easily frustrated with myself.

But then I remember that I can always begin my goal list closer to home. I have a kitchen; cooking new foods isn't an unattainable goal! Actually, I cook new foods with regularity, interspersed with old favourites to keep Nate happy. Though he has liked everything I make. (I think that's a win for my cooking skills as a wife. ^_^)

Plus, there is so much to explore in this corner of Wisconsin. Granted, at this point in time, it's difficult and occasionally impossible to make plans for us. Nate works a lot and his schedule is erratic at best. All a part of the job. And now that I have gotten a part-time position at one of the local grocery stores, our schedules may conflict. I'm praying hard that this doesn't happen since we see little enough of each other as it is.

Anyway, I digress.

Life. I've heard it said that life is what we make it. And I suppose that rings true.

In the meantime, I shall continue to write my goal list and dream.
And, you know, clean the house so that it's not in shambles when I start work next week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

five things friday no. 4

1. Apparently it's been a month since I wrote a Friday post. Oops.

2. My favourite television show is Doctor Who, hands down. My emotions are always extreme when there's anything Doctor-related around. It's a bit insane, but oh well.

3. We've been getting so much rain this week. I'm a little nervous about my tulips.

4. My superhero film collection is sadly lacking. It's basically...The Avengers. And maybe a couple others that I can't remember at the moment.

5. I'm the youngest in my workout group at the gym, but the other ladies are awesome and the workouts are tough but actually kind of enjoyable. Never thought I'd say that.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

google +

On this rainy (what?? it's not snowing? I think this is a miracle...) morning, I finally gave in and joined Google +. I figured this made sense, since the Google Reader is apparently shutting down in July or thereabouts. So I've been enjoying myself and exploring the various communities. It's cool, finding so many people who are interested in some of the same things that I am.

I apologize for the lack of posts on all my blogs. I'm sort of trying to consolidate them into one blog, which could get interesting. And this week our internet has been cutting out a lot during the day. Makes it really hard to keep up with my social media!! But I got a lot of other things done, despite having a horrid cold.

Easter was wonderful, as always. Nate actually had the entire weekend off, which never happens. We both were at all four of the Easter services at our church, since I'm in choir and he played his trombone. We were exhausted by the end of it, but what a glorious celebration of the resurrection of our Savior!

This week I joined a "boot camp" at the gym, which was probably the worst week for me to join, since I got a cold and then my body was uber weak...yeah, not a good recipe for intense workouts. Ah well, it's actually kinda fun. I like challenging myself! I've always kept my mind in shape, but not really my body, so now's the time to do that. Besides, warmer weather is coming, and hiking days are just around the corner! I hope....

Umm, what else...nothing really has been happening in my life. I applied for a job at Target, so we'll see how that turns out! Since I prefer shopping there to shopping at Wal-Mart (honestly, who doesn't?), it'd be nice to have a discount.

So I guess I didn't win the camera in the giveaway that I entered. Sadly. I usually have good luck with giveaways, but not this time. :( But that's okay. Sort of.

Friday, March 15, 2013

five things friday no. 3

1. I have no idea why I number these posts.

2. Bailey's Irish Cream is delicious over ice. And also with coffee.

3. I drove one of the milk trucks today. It was only forward a few feet, but kinda scary.

4. It's still snowing; at this rate we'll have a blizzard on Easter morning!!

5. I am currently reading a book about the history of salt. It's fascinating.

Monday, February 25, 2013

whoo, I watched the Oscars

They weren't that great. Well, the show itself was, because host whatshisname was pretty amusing most of the time. And I loved the James Bond tribute. And though I haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, I thought Jennifer Lawrence was so incredibly sweet when she won and she probably did deserve the award, but some of the winners I didn't think were right. But I also haven't actually seen all the films nominated, so yeah. I could definitely have done without Michelle Obama's appearance, though. It was totally wrong for her to be the one reading who won Best Picture. I mean, seriously. Just, no. Go away. PLEASE.

Beyond that, the weekend wasn't too exciting. Other than flinging myself off my snowmobile on Saturday afternoon because I hit a huge patch of ice at the top of a hill and went sliding sideways so fast that it probably would have rolled over if I hadn't bailed. The ice didn't feel very good, let me tell you that much. But five minutes later, I was fine (after I cleaned all the snow out of my helmet!! It's a miracle my glasses didn't break again...), and I don't even have a bruise, nor does it hurt. Weird. The rest of me hurts, but that's normal aches and pains from a night of riding. The trails kind of sucked, but hey, the end of the season is near. Though now there's more snow in the forecast. Eesh.

Spring could come, one of these days. Now that the snowmobile trails are almost all ice, they're treacherous and not much fun, so I'm not against all the snow melting. And since it is almost March, I want to see some green.

In other news, I hope this week is better than the last two. I am (finally) getting new glasses this week, which is exciting. Thinking about getting some hipster frames. ^_~ I'm also getting contacts, because I just can't stand wearing my glasses snowmobiling anymore. Plus if I get hipster frames, they'll be too big for my helmet...haha.

Geez, I wish I had a camera.

Friday, February 22, 2013

five things friday no. 2

  1. Try this new coffee creamer; it's real milk and cream and it tastes so good.
  2. I found this Stevie Nicks cd for 3 bucks last weekend. So happy.
  3. I would like some oil pastels because they would be perfect for my March decorations.
  4. It's National Margarita Day and if I had any of the supplies, I'd be making this one from Smitten Kitchen with blood orange juice. Alas, I don't have anything for a margarita.
  5. I'd give almost anything to be exploring the British Isles. Just look at this castle in Scotland.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

colour my world/a Lenten musing

The first three photos were taken in summer of 2011 (I think) at my family's home in Illinois. Currently,  I miss colour. The world is white and brown, which is beautiful of course, since we all know I adore snow. But February is nearing its end now; I find myself longing to see green buds on the trees and hear birds singing in those trees. We have another snowstorm coming; exciting as always. But as I page through my Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog and pick what I will grow this year, I wish I could open the windows and feel a warm breeze. Spring breezes have a certain scent to them. I don't mean the ones that smell of manure and farms! I mean the other ones, those that smell warm.

Lent is also upon us. We sang the hymn in that last picture both on Ash Wednesday and last Sunday. When Lent comes so early, it's a bit of a shock; we think of Easter as being in the springtime. And it will be -- it comes on the last day of March. Easter, that is. So perhaps Lent being so early isn't a bad thing. As winter holds on and spring struggles to break through, we can be reminded of our Lord and Savior's struggle with Satan and death and how He won, just like spring overcomes winter each and every year.

Yes, I love winter. I kind of hate summer. Autumn is awesome. But spring is a good time to be contemplative, and that's something I look forward to as the weather warms up.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

it's just a Hallmark holiday...

Can I just state blatantly that I have never liked Valentine's Day?
I actually kind of hate it.
There, I said it.

Hate is a strong word, but I have some very personal reasons for not enjoying the day whenever it comes around.
Reasons, of course, that don't truly matter anymore, but eh.

The point is, it's a created holiday (okay, they all are) that is named for a saint who was brutally murdered...and now it's all about love?
And the problem I see is that it's not about real love.
It's about commercialized buy-your-sweetie-and-everyone-else-under-the-sun-something-shiny-sweet-and-flowery.
Oh and don't forget the cards.

Seriously, though.
Gestures of love don't have to be restricted to just a few marked days in the calendar year.
Unfortunately, that's the impression the world gets when Christmas ends.
Valentine's Day is coming and you better get ready now because no day before then is remotely important!!!!!!!!!!

Not that you can't make the day special with your loved ones.
Go ahead.
Have a fancy dinner by candlelight and maybe get her some flowers.
Chocolate is okay, too.
But remember that love is for all the time.
It's unconditional and self-sacrificing.
It's not a money-making scheme. (But then, neither is Christmas and we see what happened there...)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

sunshine, please come back soon.

I'm at the point now where I have to continually remind myself that I love snow and winter. The problem isn't the cold and the fluffy white stuff, though. It's the fact that the sunshine has disappeared and won't show its warm face. I love bright and cold winter days, when the sun is shining down from the clear blue sky onto a brilliant blanket of snow. But these gloomy not-quite-cold-enough days just drag me down.

To keep my spirits up, I'm writing my spring cleaning list (to be begun as soon as the windows can be opened), looking up places to go snowshoeing, planning my garden, and drinking floral teas. Specifically, Berryblossom White by Tazo Tea. SO GOOD. I have my amazing friend Becca to thank for introducing me to this tea, way back when we were still in college. Okay, that wasn't way back, but I graduated almost two years ago, so....

And I just remembered that I have homemade dandelion wine to try! I'm's probably terrible. But I hope it tastes decent. And that it tastes like summer, even though I'm not a huge fan of the summer temperatures.

Of course, Valentine's Day is just around the corner, too. I've never been a huge advocate of the Hallmark holiday, but hopefully Nate and I can do something fun. At the very least, I'm going to cook us a fun dinner. I found a recipe for red wine pasta which looks and sounds delicious. I also plan on making some heart-shaped doughnuts for breakfast. Though those might have to wait until the weekend when Nate doesn't have to get up at 3:30 am.

How are you keeping back the weather blues? And what are your Valentine's Day plans?

Friday, February 8, 2013

five things friday no. 1

  1.  the snow is so beautiful and I don't want it to go away.
  2.  the new layout of iTunes makes no sense to me.
  3. as much as I love winter, I cannot wait to start my garden.
  4. my favorite alcoholic drink currently is Newcastle Brown Ale.
  5. sometimes I don't like our furnace; it makes too much noise. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

we all know how indecisive I am... of course, as the snow falls thick and fast outside, I have been designing a new blog.
Another new one.
But I realized that this blog started out as a personal blog and I really want to keep it that way.
As I began slowly changing elements of this blog, I suddenly began to wonder where I would make my truly personal posts, my thoughts about life and stuff.
But shhh.
This new one isn't ready yet!
It might not be ready for awhile, because I want to start this one off on the right foot.
And I can't settle on a good name.

So this blog, an incandescent wanderlust, will stay around.
No worries there.
But I want a more organized lifestyle blog where I post recipes, DIY ideas, natural beauty, homemaking, and things about marriage.

Hopefully, a few of you are looking forward to this. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

around the internet no. 2

Two posts in one day! Yeah that's rare. But I have a few links I wish to share with you.

Real Food and Clean Eating

Eat Wild: The #1 Site for Grass-fed Food & Facts 

5 Fats That Don't Make You Fat


Make Your Own Potting Soil

Frugal and Healthy Beauty

Homemade Lotion Bars and Lip Balm

That's all I have for today! I hope you have a lovely Monday.

monday morning vignettes and inspirations no. 2

It's snowing again. Big, white, beautiful flakes. This past weekend my mom and youngest sister came for a visit. We didn't do much other than hang out and talk, though we did go bowling on Saturday afternoon. We all did really well; Mom especially with a game of 163!! All three of my games broke 100, of which I was very proud. Yesterday, Nate and I went bowling again, during the Super Bowl. Neither of us did as well, but we were tired from bowling the day before. Moral of the story: Bowling two days in a row is not usually a good idea.

My whole house is clean, another fact of which I am proud. Many organizational things still need to happen, but the biggest part of the job is done. One of the next things that I hope to accomplish is painting our bedroom. We're thinking of a shade of green; not too pale, but not too bright. More earthy than anything. Of course, then the curtains that are in there will have to go, since they are also green. Ugly green, I might add.

As it is February, when I finished cleaning on Friday, I cut out a myriad of construction paper hearts to tape on the cabinets and windows. I will never stop loving construction paper. So versatile. I will need to make a trip to Hobby Lobby in the near future though, because I discovered I have no glitter! This is a crisis, obviously.

The month of love is upon us. Though of course we should love each other all throughout the year, there is a concentration in February. I do believe Valentine's Day is to blame, though the beginnings of that saint's day were less than glamorous. I've never been a huge advocate of Valentine's Day, partly because the various boyfriends I had over the years were never good about remembering the holiday, and partly because it's so overblown. But you know what? I like hearts and bows and shiny things. And I love creating a beautiful day for the one I love most in all the world, my dear husband.

So here's to being inspired by love, crafted hearts, the cozy snow falling outside, and mugs of hot cocoa with heart-shaped marshmallows floating on top.

(All photos taken with my iPod and edited with the app Snapseed.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

friday foodie favorites

Oh yes, it's Friday. I should be cleaning the house because my mom and youngest sister are coming for the weekend, but I've been cleaning all week (a weird obsession in this new year). And it was time to stop and eat lunch. My breakfast was sadly lacking this morning (coffee and a small piece of mango cake), so I figured I needed a fair amount of calories in my lunch. So I made a salad. I luuuurrrrvvvve salad. This salad, among a few different kinds of greens/herbs (baby spinach, arugula, chives, parsley), contained two of my new food obsessions: avocado and hemp seeds. I've had a bit of an obsession with avocado for a little over a year now, though I only just recently figured out how to cut them without mashing them... I usually mash half an avocado and spread it on toasted bread as a base for a sandwich. Hard-cooked egg goes really well with avocado. The other obsession is relatively new. I had been searching for hemp seeds for a while and finally found them at Costco. They taste a bit nutty and are super good for you. I sprinkle them on toast, put them in my smoothies, and sprinkle them on salads. So yummy. My other obsession lately is San Pellegrino. For those of you who have never had it, it's sparkling mineral water from Italy. Never thought I'd like sparkling mineral water, but there you have it. And because it's fizzy, I can trick myself into thinking I'm drinking a soda. (Club soda is good for this, too, because it's really only one step above sparkling water and still has zero calories.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

around the internet no. 1

It's snowing so profusely outside that I feel I ought to turn some Christmas music on and bake some cupcakes. I just might yet today, because I'm definitely not going anywhere.

Today's blog post is the start of a new series here on my blog. Every morning I get on Facebook and see all kinds of awesome links from the various pages/blogs I follow. I then proceed to share a few of them on Facebook. But I think maybe it'd be more efficient if I just shared them all in one place that isn't Facebook. So, without further ado, I present to you "around the internet" a posting series of links that I find in my travels and explorations online.

Health and Wellness

8 Things Your Grandparents Did That Could Save Your Life

Homemade Cough Syrup (with coconut oil!!)  

Frugal Homemaking

Top 5 Simple Green Ways to Stay Warm in Winter

Baking and other Sweet Treats

Homemade Powdered Sugar

Raw & Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Brownies (these just sound SO yummy)

Vegan Mango Bundt Cake (I made this the other day!)

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

Frugal and Healthy Beauty

Homemade Bronzer

Homemade Mascara

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

on being a coffee addict

With the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice having been yesterday, I should probably be posting about tea. I've posted about tea on here before, though that was at the beginning of this blog. I guess I'll have to make a new tea post! But today is about coffee.

I have lots of thoughts about coffee.
My main thought about coffee is that generally I like it all.
Basic filtered coffee.
French Press coffee (definitely a favorite)
Light roast.
Dark roast.
And everything in between.

If there's a way to make coffee, chances are I'll like it. (I'm not too keen on flavoured coffees, though.)
I even like chocolate-covered coffee beans!

The thing isn't cheap. Nate and I were discussing coffee and prices yesterday (yes, that's how important coffee is to us!) and we both came to the conclusion that at this point we are better off buying better quality coffee (we had just been purchasing the containers of pre-ground Hills Brothers Coffee) and paying a bit more. We've been consuming less coffee already this year than we were last year. Part of this is probably because we're eating better! Whole foods FTW! Anyway. I prefer purchasing whole beans and grinding them myself; I have a sweet little grinder that works great. (That's also the best way to prepare coffee for the French Press because it needs to be a coarser grind.) It's a little bit more work, but honestly the coffee tastes so much better. So the consensus is that our future coffee purchases will be whole bean only. This kind of leaves out flavoured coffees, but those aren't really that great. More on that in a moment.

As far as whole bean coffee goes, I still do like Hills Brothers. Starbucks is good, too, but I've actually gotten to the point where I don't want to spend money there. Not that they really bother me or anything; the place is just too tempting. And I prefer independent coffee shops. There's just a cooler atmosphere. (Sorry for sounding hipster there; I never really liked being a mainstream consumer so yeah.) But I've been researching different kinds of coffee lately, because I'm a nerd like that. Based on what I've tried in the past and what I've been reading online, fair trade and organic are seriously the way to go. Not only for the reasons most people buy fair trade and organic, but because that coffee is inevitably amazing. I'm actually super interested in purchasing some coffee beans from Grounds for Change because it sounds like exceedingly good coffee. I'm sure that in the future I will be reviewing various roasts from various places.

Of course, I don't have a problem purchasing coffee at the grocery store. That's fine. I'm there a few times a week anyway; Nate called me a "European food shopper," which I take as a compliment. He meant it as one! Besides, shopping for small amounts of food at least a couple times in one week makes it easier to spend less money, at least for me. Anyway. I don't buy coffee at Wal-Mart anymore, though. Who knows how long it's been there...and I don't buy food at Wal-Mart to begin with, so why would I buy coffee? In fact, I avoid Wal-Mart for the most part.

So, flavoured coffees. I used to buy them with wild abandon. Well, not quite wild. And not quite with abandon. But I would occasionally snap up the packets that would make one pot. But what I quickly discovered was that unless there was peppermint in the coffee, I couldn't really taste the flavours. And sometimes all I could taste were the flavours; it seemed like the coffee was watered down. (I found out that this is because in order to flavour the coffee properly, it has to be barely roasted. Ugh.) And if I want flavours I can just add creamer or syrup (of which I will now be making my own). And then I stopped purchasing creamers because even that didn't taste right.

Yes, I am a coffee addict, but not because I need the caffeine. I just like the taste and experience of a delicious cup of coffee. Nate is also a coffee addict, but more so because of the caffeine. I have noticed that he doesn't need as much, though. We have almost completely stopped buying soda (mostly we use it for mixed drinks and that sparingly), and he doesn't complain of caffeine headaches as often. I sincerely hope this is because of my cooking and food choices!

Anyway, to wrap up a long and involved post, I want to challenge you if you are a coffee drinker. Try grinding some whole beans yourself. Maybe even try a French Press. And look into the world of fair trade and organic coffees. You just might find your new favorite roast.

Monday, January 28, 2013

blogging is hard

Sharing my life with people has never been the easiest thing. Oh, I can talk just as well as anyone, and carry on a conversation. If someone asks me what I've been doing lately, that's easy enough. But when I blog, the deeper nature of my mind tends to come out. I find meaning in everything. And sometimes I blog about something that I don't feel like anyone I know personally could possibly understand. My previous post on vegetarianism is one such topic. Not nearly as deep or thought-provoking as a few of the posts I wrote on relationships last year, but still.

Blogging is hard, both the reading other blogs and the writing of your own, because it forces you to discover things about yourself that you never knew. I'm serious about this. When I begin a blog post, I have a general idea of where I want to go with it, but I rarely know exactly where I'll end up. Sometimes what I write is almost a complete surprise.

And then there's the simple fact that if you share the link to your own blog on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site, people you know personally are going to read it. This is where I may be different than most people. For whatever reason, I would rather have people I don't know reading my random thoughts and adventures. It's kind of a place to hide, I suppose.

Sharing these posts with my friends and family on Facebook is hard for me to do. I don't need affirmation for what I'm doing and/or saying, but the possibility of someone I know hating what I write just eats away at me. At least it used to; my blogging confidence is much stronger now. Not sure why.


Why am I writing about this on a dreary Monday morning? I just want to make clear that this is my blog and whether I write about my love for my husband, the DIY stuff around the house, compassion for animals or the adventures I hope to have someday, these are all thoughts from the deepest portion of my heart.

Friday, January 25, 2013

(not) eating animals

Disclaimer: I am not, nor ever will be, a full vegan. Or even vegetarian. These are just my thoughts about eating animals.

I don't know exactly when it happened, but somewhere in the recent past I realized I am an animal lover. This was before I got my kittens, by the way. But seriously. I didn't ever consider myself an animal lover. Other than cats and pictures of cute rabbits I was pretty indifferent. But more than ever I have found myself liking to spend time with animals, and not just pets like cats and dogs. I really like rabbits, and I desperately want a little goat to take care of. I'm not kidding.

As part of my quest to eat healthier, I have cut out a lot of meat from my diet. Not that I think eating meat is completely unhealthy, but less of it is generally a good idea. Don't worry, I still get my protein. Oddly enough, protein is available in many plants. Like spinach and kale! Anyway.

I tend to think too long and hard about various subjects. One of those things that I thought too long and hard about was eating meat. I don't believe it is wrong to eat meat; God gave us this whole earth and everything on it. But the way that animals are manufactured into meat just bothers me. It may seem contradictory, but I'd rather the meat on my table was raised in a humane way. Seems healthier, for one thing.

For my own sanity, I have chosen to eat less meat. I am a compassionate person, and that compassion goes to animals, as well. In recent years I have had a harder time eating a burger or steak or piece of chicken without visualizing the animal it came from. You're probably thinking, That's just stupid. Animals don't know they're being slaughtered. Etc, etc. And maybe it is crazy, or stupid. But it seems to me that if we all chose to eat a little less meat, fewer animals would need to be bred for slaughter and chopped up on a daily basis.


I think another problem I have with factory meat is that you don't know what the animal is eating. (It's probably usually GMO corn. More on that in another post...) And then you're putting that into your body. Oh dear. It's a dream of mine to find a local farmer from whom we can purchase meat that is grass-fed, not pumped with hormones, and raised humanely. That doesn't make me feel any better about the actual act of eating the creatures, but maybe my sanity will be consoled by knowing exactly where the meat came from and what it ate.


That being said, I hope you will forgive my weird tendencies to sound like a crazy-hippie-vegan-treehugger. I think I always had "hippie" tendencies...they just manifested themselves rather quickly and all at once. But I take very seriously the command that God gave in Genesis to take care of the earth, and if I have to sound crazy, so be it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

minimalism can be good for the soul

In the course of my life, I have always been the kind of person who liked things. Especially as a teenager; posters and pictures covered my bedroom walls, books overflowed the shelves (they still do, but that's another story altogether...hehe), I wore tons of jewelry, and had more colors of nail polish than I needed. Now, not much has changed; I still like things. I still have all those posters, most of which I hope to hang in a movie room/den someday. The books have multiplied and I'm certain will continue to. I don't wear as much jewelry, partly because most of what I did wear over the last decade is broken or faded or hopeless tangled with bits of my hair (ugh). As for nail polish...I have bought a few select colors recently, but since my signature polish is still black, I don't feel the need to have a ton of bottles.

But see, it's one thing when you only have a bedroom in which to cram all your things and you can go to another part of the house at any time. (In my case it was usually the kitchen. I always wished I had a way to boil water for tea in my room. And that I could keep a stash of biscuits. Anyway.) When you join your life with another person, things multiply quite fast. Nate and I both have a lot of things. Granted, in the last year we've managed to pare down a lot of what we don't need or want, but that doesn't change the simple fact that our house has no storage space. I've mentioned that before. And when you have more books and musical instruments than you do dishes (I kid, of course. Well, maybe not the books.), that becomes a bit of an issue.

I am thankful, however, that we are in a small place. This allows us to evaluate what is truly important. In the last week I have been reorganizing our kitchen cabinets. We're getting rid of as much of our plastic food storage as is possible, and hoping to purchase less in the way of canned goods. Most of our containers are glass, which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Both of us can be very we'll see how well this goes. But we have decided that we don't like the idea of plastics and food. Just...ew. (I really am becoming a crazy hippie, aren't I? Oh dear.) So the food cabinets are organized, and I even have a fair amount of items (all good, of course) to give to a local food pantry. Next will be the dishes, the cleaning supplies, and so on.

At the outset, this project seems overwhelming, and possibly expensive. But in the long run I know it will be very, very worth it. Lately I have been seeing many posts in the blogosphere about minimalism. I am not a minimalist, not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor is Nate. We don't want to be rid of everything we own; two sentimental people, that's us. But the satisfaction that comes with keeping a truly clean and clutter-free house is certainly a step in the right direction.

Though this may sound odd to a few of you, I believe that God has laid this all on my heart. Very firmly, in fact. Think about it, though. As I work my way through the house, evaluating and paring down and cleaning, I am slowly replacing things with more time to spend together in the future. Eventually, I will be spending more time in the kitchen preparing good, wholesome food, less time cleaning, and certainly less time worrying about clutter when Nate gets home from work. We'll be able to spend more time on each other without constantly thinking about the housework. (At least in my case. I'm sure Nate doesn't think about it as much as I do, haha.)

I don't know about you, but that sounds like a fair trade. Besides, what else is there to do when it's barely above zero degrees outside?

Monday, January 21, 2013

my favorite blogs

Yet another sleepy Monday. I suppose I should be thankful that I don't have to get up to go to work every Monday, but at the same time, the household tasks that get shoved aside all weekend stare me in the face while I drink my coffee or tea. (It was tea this morning. Twinings English Breakfast, to be exact.) Plus, it's negative degrees outside with the wind chill, so that makes it kind of cold in the house. Brr. Maybe I'll end up making myself some coffee even though I already had tea.

Anyway, today I want to share with you a few of my favorite blogs. These are blogs I enjoy reading because they are fun, but also that inspire me in many ways.

  • A Beautiful Mess: This blog is run by two sisters (I think) and they share multiple posts throughout the day. They share everything from recipes to restyling projects to personal stories. I have not read a post I didn't like. So many excellent ideas and they are, quite frankly, my favorite blog right now.
  • Her Library Adventures: This blog is run by a woman named Sophie. She and her husband live in Australia and they are crafting such a beautiful life for themselves. Sophie shares adventures that she and her husband have, various thrift store finds, lots of crafty things, and some deep personal posts. I began reading her blog about two years ago but didn't read it regularly until just a few months ago. It quickly became one of my favorite blogs.
  • Strawberry Koi: This blog is similar to the other two, though Aya shares stories about her two adorable children, as well. She also has an obsession with good coffee that goes far beyond my own, and she has some fantastic coffee posts! I've been reading her blog regularly for about a year now.
  • The Forest Feast: This is a food blog that I found through Tumblr. Not only are her recipes healthy and delicious-sounding, her photography is fabulous. I really want to make chili-infused oil now, because that was one of her most recent posts.
  • vintage muse modern views: Alexandria shares a post about Jane Austen and her novels almost every day, along with various other vintage inspired posts. She shares crafts, recipes, cocktails, and good personal posts about the lack of femininity in today's world. I especially like her cocktail posts, though I never have the ingredients on hand to make them.
  • CutterLight: This blog is run by an older couple (Not old, just older than the majority of the blogs I have read. They have at least one grown daughter.) who spend their summers exploring Alaska and their winters living and teaching in an Alaskan village called Point Hope, which is very far north. They post beautiful photographs, awesome recipes, and I just love their life. (Alaska is one of my top places to explore someday.) Because of their lifestyle, they also live in a minimalistic manner, which is inspiring in itself.

So there you have it; a list of my favorite blogs. I will probably post a second list of my favorite health and wellness blogs, because those definitely belong in a list of their own. And I'm sure occasionally I will stumble across more blogs that I absolutely love.

For now, I think I'm going to go curl up and read a book.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

visions of white

Growing up, I always preferred black to white. Pink and black were my preferred clothing colors for at least a decade. And I had a slight obsession with glittery things, but this was slight. :P My fingernails were usually black (still are; some things never change!), and I hated wearing white anything. I felt that it didn't do anything for my skin tone and I am so accident-prone (I spill coffee at least once daily.) that wearing dark colors was a way to prevent spillage from being too obvious. Now, I still love pink and black, but I have graduated to purchasing more colors for my wardrobe whenever I shop, which isn't often. My closet and dresser drawers are now a rainbow instead of a pattern. I can't pinpoint when this shift took place, but basically a few years ago I realized that most vintage styled clothing doesn't only come in pink and/or black. And of course, I knew the only all-white outfit I would ever wear would be my wedding dress. And I was very satisfied with my dress. (Which was only to be expected since I made it myself!)

DISTRACTION: It's a bit odd to me that I hated white everything but have always loved snow. Yeah. Just not sure about that one. Anyway.

Now, translate my preferred clothing colors to the challenge of decorating a home. Yeah, pink and black aren't going to work anywhere other than maybe a bathroom, or a sewing/craft studio (I can dream of having one, right???). I mean, I could have tried to have a pink kitchen, but nahhh. I wouldn't say that my color choices are more grown up, exactly, but they have become more varied.

Lately, I have been reading magazines such as Victoria, Real Simple, and Midwest Living, which have some gorgeous photographs of interior decoration. There are also a few blogs that I follow and read everyday that have been my inspiration. This brings me to the title of this post, visions of white. Again, I cannot pinpoint exactly when the shift happened and I began to think white was more than an accent color, but I have a very strong feeling that it has a lot to do with the lack of natural light in our little rental home. For example, last week we decided it was time to purchase new sheets for the bed, because the one nice set we had had seen better days since I generally refused to put the older sheets on. Plus, the colors were just...dull. Anyway. What we had on the bed were cream colored sheets and a blue and cream striped comforter. Pretty, but rather dark and getting dull. So I went to Target and found a set of gorgeous green sheets with darker green vines all over them. These were on sale, plus 100% organic cotton (score!); they felt so amazing. At that point I knew the comforter we had was going to be relegated to the guest bed, and that fact became cemented in my brain when I fell in love with a beautiful white comforter that was patterned to look like a quilt. SO PRETTY. And white. Which I wasn't too sure about, but then I just went with it. I made sure to get a white bedskirt, too, since the blue one would have looked tacky. After this long and involved post, I know you want a picture, but I don't have one yet...I'm sorry. It does look lovely, though. Plus, I moved the red area rug out of the bedroom and now it looks so bright in there. And a bit bigger, too. It's amazing what a bit of white can do.

Anyway, long story that probably wasn't necessary to say that my new decorating scheme has become lots of white with pops of color here and there. And plenty of flowers and plants eventually. More of a natural look, I think. Granted, this may not all take place where we live now, but it's always nice to have ideas. Especially when you hope and dream of having beautiful hardwood floors and no carpet anywhere. (I hate carpet, but more on that some other time.)


As I am also a huge fan of Victorian decor, I used to want a home that had rooms similar in style to the photo below, but I realized that would be hell to clean. Maybe just a few paintings of Victorian rooms.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

green smoothie goodness

Today is apparently just not happening. So I decided to write another blog post. This is one I've been meaning to write for a few days now, and now is better than never.

If you spend any time at all on the internet (and let's face it, who doesn't?), you have seen people posting about green smoothies. There are many books on the subject, as well. It seems that almost every blog I read has an obligatory green smoothie post. Now it's my turn, though I sadly don't have any pretty pictures because I fail at life. Just kidding, but I do have a failure of a camera. Anyway.

In my quest to be healthier, I realized I needed to eat more fruit. Truthfully, I just needed to eat fruit. Veggies, I'm good with. Fruit, on the other hand...well, textures and sensitive teeth were getting in the way. And sometimes the tastes are just too strong. Seriously. So I knew the solution to my fruit problem would be to get on the green smoothie train. Especially because the point of a "green" smoothie is that you incorporate greens into the smoothie, such as spinach or kale. And hey, I like greens! (My sister used to call me a rabbit because I loved lettuce and salads so much...but that's a story for another time.)

Green smoothies, then. Well, I stocked up on frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, mixed berries, and mango), bananas (because I love them), spinach, and kale last week. I also purchased some almond milk because I needed it for a soup recipe and I thought it'd be a good dairy-free way to thicken up my smoothies. Last Wednesday morning I made my first smoothie, and my poor blender hasn't really gotten a rest since. I've tried so many combinations that I can't remember them all to share with you, but here's one that I really liked:

Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • a handful or so frozen strawberries (slightly thawed)
  • a handful frozen blueberries (slightly thawed)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
 Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You'll probably have to vary the settings a bit to get a truly smooth smoothie. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

organizational chaos

I should have titled this post "why don't we have a basement?" but since we don't have one and won't until we move out of this place, there's no point in belaboring the fact.

But it sure does make for some sketchy organizing jobs.

Like shoving everything not necessary for everyday living into the back bedroom, which then has to be cleaned out whenever we have people stay over. Or I need to find something. (Getting the Christmas decorations out was kind of a week-long job. Ignoring the fact that I kept remembering various decorations after I thought I was done.)

To be honest, I've come to terms with the fact that our house will never be clutter-free at this stage in our lives. That doesn't make me any less stressed, though. :P

So I decided to make a list of good things about this "organizational chaos" I have found myself mired in. Here goes.

  • My new found love of natural cleaning products is slowly but surely reducing clutter in the laundry room, kitchen, and both bathrooms. I call that a HUGE win.
  • When you decide you're only going to cook real food (which I honestly always did, but when you really take the time to think, you end up with much less boxed/canned food), the kitchen cabinets, counters, and refrigerator become less cluttered, as well.
  • As I clean and organize, my crafty side is coming out just as much as my frugal side (How many sides can a girl have? A lot, I guess.), and I like to think that decorating the walls with cute/pretty things helps to take my mind off the clutter that won't ever disappear.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I can always take comfort in the fact that God (and my husband!) will always love me whether the house is clean or not. :)
Obviously, keeping house is a labor of love. If you don't believe it is, maybe you're not trying hard enough. Just kidding. Let's get real here; when I started college I didn't necessarily expect to be keeping house and cooking meals everyday so soon on the other side of graduation. I had hoped to be able to do some traveling with friends, or something of the sort. But God had other plans, and I am very glad of them. After all, I am learning many things about myself, and that is never a bad thing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

monday morning vignettes and inspirations no. 1

A kitten sleeping on my scarf next to me and a cup of coffee are a perfect way to begin a Monday morning. Especially when the coffee is in my awesome Doctor Who mug that my youngest sister gifted to me for Christmas. (She happened to watch one episode with me last autumn and was hooked. That show does that to people. I'm not even kidding.)

So, plans and inspirations for the week.

I plan to wake early each morning and read my Bible over a cup of coffee and perhaps some toast with jam. Waking early is a good feeling, though not always if one hasn't slept well. But if I wake even just an hour earlier than I usually get up, think how much more fulfilling my day can be. Besides, going to the fitness center early in the morning is probably better than when I've been going, which is shortly before lunch time. I'd rather there be fewer people there....

I have a painting project in the works, as well. Hopefully this will get done this week. Pinterest was my inspiration for that, but it's probably an inspiration for everything these days. ;)

Other plans include some major cleaning in the refrigerator and cabinets. It's amazing what one can forget about when it's shoved in the back of the fridge! My inspiration for tackling this seemingly impossible task is Pinterest, again, and the following three books:

 The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking: Decorating, Dining, and the Gratifying Pleasures of Self-Sufficiency--on a Budget!

 The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning, 2nd Edition

 The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making

 The latest issue of Real Simple is also serving as an inspiration.


Seems like a lot to tackle in one week, especially when there are still the usual tasks to do and meals to cook. But since I like cooking and did most of the meal planning last week, that shouldn't be a problem. Besides, I gotta start somewhere, right? If I ever expect to start crafting/sewing/painting/gardening then I have to complete step one, which is to have a semi-organized home. And beyond saving money with the ideas and recipes in the above books, we have the added bonus of being inspired to mostly consume real foods and clean the house in a toxin-free way.

I sound a bit like a crazy environmental hippie, don't I? But I am genuinely inspired (yes, I keep using that word, but because it's true!) by the people who live this way. Besides, it's all a part of my quest to be healthier and live in a healthier home. And if "convenience" products disappear, it won't be a problem. :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

foodie blues (or, I really miss Olive Garden)

Yesterday afternoon while folding laundry, I decided to watch a little bit of television. I don't often do this so early in the day, but it was quicker than putting in a DVD because I'm too indecisive for that and I would have spent at least half an hour choosing something. Anyway. The channel I chose to watch was the Cooking Channel. (Not the Food Network -- hooray for two food channels!) As I was matching socks and sipping a mug of reheated coffee (black -- I was tired), I realized something. I am a foodie. A HUGE foodie.

This may not come as a surprise to some of you. I grew up in a household where my parents (especially my dad) tried to expose my siblings and me to as many cuisines as possible. Our favorite, to this day, is Indian, for many reasons. Dad's mom grew up in India as a child of missionaries, and the food got carried over to the U.S. One of our favorite dishes (and the most typical one Mom makes now) is chicken curry with rice. Oh, and don't forget the poppadoms! And my dear husband knows I'm not kidding when I say one of the tests for belonging with the Blieses is trying and liking curry! (Don't worry, he passed!)

Other cuisines we were exposed to at a young age were Japanese (Dad's been to Japan four times.), Chinese (which is always fun), Mexican (tacos, anyone??), and Italian. I also really like Thai food, but I obviously have a thing for anything Asian. Of course, I've eaten my fair share of European cuisine. Good old German food is always delicious, if a bit heavy (I love me some bratwurst.). And though it can be bland, I ate some delicious food in England, too. And I live for England's afternoon tea spreads.

But out of all of these, I think I've finally found my favorite. (Excepting Indian, because that tops them all no matter what.) My favorite, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, is Italian. Any time I see an Italian recipe, my mouth waters. I make simple spaghetti and meat sauce at home a lot. But all the experimenting I do in my too-small kitchen will probably never top the gloriousness that is Olive Garden. At least once a week I find myself craving a meal from Olive Garden. This has been happening with alarming regularity for the last few years, and it doesn't help at all that the closest restaurant to us is either in Milwaukee or Appleton. Since we rarely make it to Milwaukee, and then it's to visit family where we'll be fed amazing food anyway, that's kind of out of the question. And Appleton is rather a lot farther away, but we'd be more likely to eat at the Olive Garden there...

So you see my dilemma. My favorite restaurant is not close enough. And I haven't yet found a suitable Italian replacement in Sheboygan County. Le sigh. So I'm left with my severe case of the foodie blues once again. I suppose I can console myself with a yummy fish fry tonight at our favorite bar.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

a thrifting journey

I mentioned in this post that I want to purchase only thrifted clothing this year. There are a few reasons for me attempting this challenge. Here they are:

  • money (not a huge issue for us, but it's always good to save)
  • thinking a little bit more about what I purchase
  • my lifestyle change for the better will cause me to lose weight
  • I adore vintage clothing
  • it'll be FUN!

So, money. It always comes down to that, doesn't it? And unfortunately, purchasing clothes is not cheap if you want quality. Cheap clothes from Wal-Mart and Old Navy don't last. Especially not when you spend a lot of time outside, like Nate and I do. That leads right into my second reason. Impulse buying is something we all suffer from occasionally and on different levels. To be perfectly honest, my impulse buys are usually books, but I'd rather not start being impulsive about clothing. :) And yes, I am eating better, exercising more, not sitting for long periods of time, getting enough sleep, etc, which will have the awesome side effect of slimming me down. Why buy new and possibly expensive clothing that may be cute but I won't be able to wear in a few months? Seems logical. Plus, I do adore vintage clothing. I probably won't purchase much in the first half of the year while my body is changing, but still. It's fun to make awesome finds that you can share with your friends! And the whole process of thrifting is so much fun. It's an adventure!

Will any of you, my lovely followers, join me in this adventure in 2013?

Friday, January 4, 2013

incandescent wanderlust, you ask?

Yes, of course! The blog has been rechristened as an incandescent wanderlust. Being an indecisive person, this could change yet again before I am fully satisfied, but let's just say for the sake of everyone who reads this that it's the new name. Why? First of all, I was born with a serious case of wanderlust. For most of my life I've been randomly planning trips to see the world. (When I was 13 I decided that I wanted to see the Arctic and travel as far north as was possible. I'm not kidding.) None of them have come to fruition, yet, though I have seen much of the United States and have been across the pond to dear old England (which needs visiting again...). And I was going to christen this a bright wanderlust, but decided that incandescent was a much prettier word. Unless you, my dear followers, think bright was more appropriate.

As you can see, the name is new, and the colors on the blog are new. The layout is basically the same because I realised I really like this one. I'm still working on a few tweaks, like side button links to my favorite blogs, links to my Pinterest page, etc. Also, eventually there will be a different picture of me, not just the one in my profile. And hopefully I will have a pretty banner in place of the boring title, though I do like the font.

This is quickly becoming a labour of love, so I would love some feedback and perhaps some advice on how to pretty things up and truly make this blog mine. I have grand dreams for this blog, though I have grand dreams for everything so I guess that's not saying much.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

ch-ch-changes (for the blog)

Seeing as it's a new year, I have a few things in mind for my blog. I would really like this to become a regular thing. Granted, I'll probably never be as awesome as many of the other blogs that I follow, but with a little tweaking it might look pretty.

  • a new name (not 100% positive about what it will be)
  • a new layout
  • more links
  • more pictures (which will only happen once I have a camera, though occasionally there might be bad quality iPod photos like the one above)

There are a few other things playing around at the back of my mind. It is, after all, the time of year to think "new and inspired" and I wish to carry that all the year through.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

here's to making 2013 fabulous!

Happy New Year to my dear followers! I apologize for not posting regularly on here. There have been a lot of ups and downs over the past year, but I am determined to make 2013 better than 2012. We humans, being imperfect sinful messes, always say this every time a new year rolls around. Occasionally it works, and more often it doesn't. We make resolutions to lose weight, read more books, make new friends, stop smoking, eat better food, travel more, etc.... The list could go on forever. And while resolutions can be good, I think it'd be helpful to realize that we will never be perfect no matter how hard we try.

So. I do have resolutions, though I am calling them goals because that just sounds more attainable. Besides, my goals are meant to be habit-forming and thus a change for the better, though a few of them are just fun. So here is my list.

  • read my Bible more often
  • treat my body better and get it in shape
  • drink a green smoothie at least once a week
  • eat breakfast
  • snowmobile with Nate as often as possible while the trails are open
  • play the piano more, and teach myself Claire de Lune
  • take up knitting again
  • learn how to crochet
  • perfect the art of making a latte (I consider it an art anyway...)
  • sew a fantastic Halloween costume (gonna be the Miller High Life Girl!)
  • take more walks/hikes
  • work my way up to running
  • plan at least one weekend up north camping trip for this summer
  • write something every single day
  • purchase clothing only from thrift shops (this is a goal I will expand upon in a later post)
  • shop local: both shops and farmer's markets
  • write monthly letters to friends and family
  • plant a vegetable garden
  • harvest dandelions for wine again
  • purchase a DSLR camera (I even have my eye on one... ^_^)
  • read 50 books, at least 10 of those must be non-fiction
  • begin making Christmas gifts at a decent time this year
  • don't forget that it's okay to dress up and put on a little lipstick just to do mundane shopping
  • always remember that each day is a gift from God and try to enjoy it

There you have it. It's probably not a complete list of goals, but I also tend to overshoot when I plan things out for myself. I think I'm addicted to life, specifically experiences in life. I want to do everything, go everywhere, see all the beautiful sights this world has to offer. Realistically, I know that'll never happen, but I can begin a little closer to home and enjoy what the Lord has blessed me with, which is a fair bit of goodness.
And I mean it when I say 2013 is going to be fabulous!