The Silver Lining

I know, it’s been a while since I did one of these posts, huh? I really felt like I wanted to blog tonight, but I’m having trouble putting words together (so unlike me since I tend to talk wayyyy too much) so I think I’ll keep it short and sweet.

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Financially Creative // I’m using that as a better way to say on a super tight budget. Normally I would be really stressed about our budget, but this month I have decided to channel all that extra “worried energy” into one of the only parts of our budget I have any control over shrinking–our food budget. I menu planned the entire month on the first, made shopping lists week by week, and estimated my budget at $250 for the month. Yes, the whole month. So far, I am on track and I am super proud of myself. If it goes well, expect a sample menu, recipes, and shopping lists to be posted!

Time Out // This week we have started experimenting with time outs when Evan does something he is really not supposed to. It has been hard, but luckily we haven’t had to do it much. And on the bright side, Evan has quickly learned to sit quietly and say sorry…and him saying sorry is ridiculously adorable. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole idea of time outs…suggestions, moms and dads?

Chilly // It has been extremely windy and so cold here for the last few days, and the rest of the week is supposed to stay that way. I’m not sure why I’m including this here…in no way do I find this to be negative. I am so excited for it to be kind of cold. Let me clarify though–it was 72 today. But y’all…that is COLD for Hawaii! And the wind really was ridiculous. I know. You all hate me. Some of you are probably sitting in snow up to your eyeballs. I’m sorry! Someday when we move back to the mainland and I have to live with actual freezing temperatures I’m just going to turn into a little Maria-sickle.

Money Money Money Money // I’m pretty sure I didn’t win the $5,000 I was hoping to win from the Pysicians Formula eyebooster contest. I can’t even begin to explain to you all how much I wanted to win. I guess there is still one day to hear from them, but I only had a 10% chance, so I’m not really holding my breath. But my silver lining is that even if I don’t win I found out I have a lot of really wonderful friends who voted for me simply because I asked for their help even though they care nothing about mascara. So, thanks friends! I appreciate you all!

Fraud // I found out yesterday that someone made three unauthorized paypal transactions on my debit card, so I had to call my bank, report the fraudulent expenses, close my debit card, and change all of my pins and passwords. Luckily, though, I’ll be able to recover all of the lost funds, and my bank is pretty much amazing for how quickly they were able to help me. I love USAA.

Short and Sweet? // I obviously have no concept of what short and sweet means. But if I ever get hired as a freelance writer and get paid by the word…I’ll make bank. So, there’s that.

Have a good weekend friends!

Linking up with Five on Friday and Oh Hey Friday!

Lately

Sorry I’ve been so MIA for the last month. The first week of February was like a whirlwind as we travelled to Utah for my sister-in-law’s wedding, and the week we got back was so busy with work and babysitting and just general craziness that I fell behind with the blog and never caught back up. The month of February in general was just hard for me. I kind of abandoned all of my goals, I spent a lot of time feeling down and completely un-motivated to do things that needed to get done, and in general I was just in a slump. Do any of you have times like that that you go through?

Anyway, with the start of a new month I have tried to brush off the last few weeks and start fresh with a positive perspective. I’m usually the kind of person that really gets down on myself when I abandon a goal, but I’m going into the month of March with the mindset that just because I haven’t done something for a few weeks doesn’t mean that it’s too late to start again. My whole year isn’t ruined because things went a little sideways in February, right?!

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I love this quote. My friend handed it out during her lesson at church a few weeks ago and it really struck a chord with me. It’s so true too, isn’t it? Usually when we are feeling negative it is so easy to be down and make negative choices. Not even necessarily bad choices…just…not good ones, or productive ones. It’s during those times though that I think it’s the most important for us to make sure we make intentionally positive choices. It can really turn the whole day around, and our attitude too! This quote is my new mantra for March. I hope it helps to inspire some of you too if you have gotten in a slump over the last month or so!

I have every intention of being back to posting regularly this month, so I am hoping I can stay motivated and have that all pan out. I did want to go ahead and quickly say thank you to you all though–1) for voting for my #eyebooster video for the Physicians Formula contest (positive thoughts are still appreciated until they pick a winner at the end of the week!) and 2) for subscribing to my YouTube channel. Starting YouTube and putting myself out there has been a really scary thing (I feel like such a dork, you guys) but I am really glad I am doing it, and thankful to those of your supporting me! I already have well over 150 subscribers in just two months, and while I realize that is almost nothing in the world of YouTube, it means a lot to me. Other than my husband I haven’t really told any of my friends or family about my channel, so all of my subscribers are people I don’t know personally which makes me pretty excited! Haha, see? I totally am a dork. Oh well! If you want to subscribe to my channel or watch my videos I have it linked with the rest of my social media icons on the top right of this page. Thank you to you all!

Okay, nap time is almost over which means my blogging time is about to be cut short. I’ll talk to you all again later this week!

Eighteen Months

Me and Evan

Look at that face. Oh my goodness. This little guy–ahem, big guy–turned 18 moths old yesterday. It blows my mind how quickly it happened. I can’t believe it has already been a year and a half since our sweet boy came into the world! This little boy lights up my life. I feel so lucky to be his mom. How do I have a toddler already?!

Evan loves running, climbing, “playing” basketball (or ball of any kind for that matter), dancing, pretending to talk on the phone, reading stories, going for walks, playing at the park, playing peek-a-boo, splashing in the bath (or the ocean!), building towers, making animal noises, giving high fives and “pounding it,” Curious George, giving hugs and kisses to mommy and daddy, playing with his friends, looking at the birds, and eating eating eating. He isn’t a picky eater at all, but he does tend to throw his milk and plate when he is finished eating (we’re working on it…any tips are welcomed). He is super energetic and loves to explore his surroundings, and especially loves being chased by mama. He knows around 50+ words and is a non-stop talker–haha seriously this kid talks my ear off. He is so smart, and I can already tell that he loves to learn. He also loves helping me around the house (some of his favorite things to help with are putting the socks away when we do laundry, wiping down his high chair tray after he eats, and putting away all of his toys). He is an awesome sleeper at night, and though he goes down easily during the day I wish he would nap for longer! He has twelve teeth and has been drooling a ton lately, so I have my eye out for those canines any time now. He seems to be growing like a weed–I finally moved him up to 2T clothing last week and you know me…I totally cried.

Evan has such a glowing personality and he is so much fun to be around. He has mastered the cheesy smile and when he looks at me with his little devilish grin he makes me go crazy and melt into a puddle all at the same time. Some days are hard–he is really getting the hang of temper tantrums–but every night after he goes to sleep I sit and look through pictures and watch videos of him and just want to go grab him and cuddle him. I am so grateful that I was chosen to be his mama.

I love you Evan. You’re getting to be such a big boy!

I’ll update this post with more pictures tomorrow!

Chocolate Lava Cakes

This past weekend was so fantastic! We left for Utah on Thursday night and were back by late Monday night, so it was a whirlwind of a trip, but it was wonderful to be able to see so many friends and family and to see Shyla and Jason get married. The entire time we were there we were so busy that I forgot to take my camera with me every single day (um…fail!), but I’ll be sure to post pictures sometime later this month when I can steal a few from my mother-in-law. The wedding was so beautiful (and so was the bride!) that I wish I could post pictures right now, but I guess it will just have to wait.

Anyway, now that I’m back and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I wanted to post a yummy dessert recipe that is the perfect end to a romantic dinner at home. Brinton and I rarely go out for Valentine’s Day, but eating in doesn’t mean that dinner and dessert have to be boring or less special! Chocolate lava cakes look so fancy and complicated, but they are really so simple to make. Also, did I mention they are amazingly delicious? Because they are. Oh my goodness, yum!

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Don’t these look fantastic?! Okay, let’s get to the recipe.

What You Need:
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
cooking spray
4 ramekins, 6 to 8 oz each

The How To:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
1. In a microwaveable bowl or double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. If using a microwave, melt the chocolate in only 30 second intervals, stirring after each time in order to make sure the chocolate isn’t burning and the mixture is nice and smooth.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until well blended.
3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and blend.
4. Add the flour and mix until well incorporated and there are no lumps.

Chocolate Lava Cakes Step by Step
5. Spray your ramekins with cooking spray (I used coconut oil spray) and divide the batter equally into four ramekins (they should be between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way full).
6. Put the ramekins in the oven for 10 minutes. Do not overcook! If necessary, watch the cakes in the oven for the last few minutes. If you overcook these, the insides will just be cake instead of yummy lava. It’s better to undercook them and have to pop them back in the oven for a minute or so than to overcook them and end up with regular old cakes. The center of the cakes should jiggle slightly when you take them out of the oven.

Chocolate Lava Cakes After Baking
7. Once out of the oven, allow the cakes to rest for just a few minutes. Gently run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the ramekin. Place a dish over the top, and flip it upside down. If you greased the ramekin enough, the cake should easily slip onto the plate.
8. Garnish with powdered sugar and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Fresh fruit tastes yummy on top too!

Chocolate Lava Cake

These cakes really are fantastic. You can even prepare the batter ahead of time and store the ramekins in the fridge until ready to bake to make this a quick dessert!

Let me know if you make these yummy cakes and how they turn out for you! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Linking up with Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Small Ways to Say I love You

With my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding this weekend and Valentine’s day the weekend after that I’ve been thinking a lot about love! I’m not usually someone who really celebrates Valentine’s day–with Christmas at the end of December and then my birthday at the end of January, I honestly feel bad that there is another holiday so close that usually calls for gift giving. Brinton and I usually keep things pretty simple, and we make an effort through the year to continue to intentionally date each other and express our love.

How you might express love to those you care about may differ based on your relationship and your personalities, but here are some ideas for how to say I love you!

Small Ways to Say I Love You

Lunch notes // Every now and then I will pack my husband’s lunch for him for work and write a little note to him. It’s usually something simple like, “Thanks for working so hard!” or “I love you and can’t wait to see you tonight!” but he says it always makes him smile when he sees it.

Do his or her least favorite chore // Brinton and I both hate doing dishes, so when one of us tackles the whole sink it is definitely out of love for the other. Maybe your loved one hates folding their socks, or can’t stand taking out the trash, or really dreads scrubbing the shower. Do it for them as a small way to show your love and thoughtfulness.

Sing a voicemail // When my husband and I were dating in high school, I called him one day while he was working and I knew he wouldn’t be able to answer his phone. When his voicemail picked up I sang to him the chorus of I just called to say I love you by Stevie Wonder. He saved that voicemail for years and played it for me a few days before we were married. It was so special for me to realize that something I thought was a silly little way to say I love you meant so much to him.

Surprise him or her with their favorite meal // Food is more than just food to me–food is an expression of love itself! I love surprising Brinton with his favorite meals or snacks. Getting creative in the kitchen is one of my favorite ways to let Brinton know I care about him.

Hold hands // I love when my husband and I are just sitting on the couch and he reaches over and takes my hand. It’s the smallest gesture, but it instantly connects us and makes me feel closer to him. Feeling close and connected is so important, especially today when we are usually so plugged in and disconnected from each other.

Take time to pause together // With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, taking the time to pause can be hard. Every now and then when Brinton will come up to kiss me, I’ll be in the middle of cleaning up after the baby, or trying to get something done, or rushing to get somewhere on time and the last thing on my mind is stopping to give my husband a long hug or kiss. But then I pause and remember that the mac and cheese Evan threw on the floor can wait, because there is nothing more important than my husband and our relationship. Taking those few extended seconds with each other can make all the difference in our relationship that day.

There are so many more ways to express love, but I hope these few ideas gave you something new to think about!

Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Zucchini

I love stuffed peppers. As a kid this was always one of my favorite dinners that my parents used to make. The peppers were always so delicious, so filling, and I used to fight my sister to be able to eat the left over stuffing!

When my husband and I were first married, I started making my own version of stuffed peppers by using good old Rice-a-Roni as the base of my stuffing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Rice-a-Roni…a lot, but the “health conscious” side of me knows that there are healthier options out there that are just as delicious. I finally decided to experiment a bit with quinoa as an alternative, and though I used to always add some kind of ground beef or sausage, I decided to make a vegetarian version this time.

Let me tell you–these turned out so delicious there weren’t any leftovers!

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What You Need
3 cups cooked quinoa
6 to 8 red bell peppers, tops removed and diced, bell pepper cavities seeded
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 small to medium sized zucchini, diced
1 cup corn kernels
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can petite diced tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

The How To
Preheat your oven to 350º F.
1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions to yield three cups.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the bell peppers by chopping off the top, removing the stem, seeding the pepper cavity, and dicing the cap.
3. In a saute pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Saute the garlic until lightly browned. Add the onions, zucchini, and diced bell pepper caps. Cook until onions are semi-translucent and the other vegetables are slightly softened.
4. Salt and pepper to taste and add the chili powder as well.

Sauteed Vegetables for Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

5. Add the corn first, then the beans, the tomatoes, and finally, fold in the quinoa.

Quinoa and Bean Stuffing for Peppers

6. Stuff the bell peppers with the stuffing mixture. Place upright in a baking dish, and top generously with cheddar and feta cheeses. Note: you can add a quarter to a half inch of water in the bottom of your baking dish if you would like to help prevent sticking and to help “steam” your pepper to help it cook a bit more quickly, but it is completely optional. Don’t add too much–you don’t want your peppers to boil at the bottom and cook unevenly.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Topped with Feta

7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pepper is cooked and the cheese is brown and lovely on top.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Right Out of the OvenQuinoa Stuffed Peppers Close Up

They look delicious, right?! I promise you, they are. What are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Dinner Plate

I paired these delicious peppers with a simple salad: mixed greens with spinach, topped with fresh berries, more feta (because, yum!) and a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Dinner Plate 2

Note: I mostly just threw things together, but just before making the peppers I decided to google “quinoa stuffed peppers” to see what other people put in their stuffing and I stumbled across a recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Damn Delicious. I’ve mentioned this blog here in the past (because everything is so amazing!) and from the looks of it, the recipe was sure to be a winner. I got the idea for the corn and the feta from that blog, but I pretty generously adapted the recipe to fit my taste and what I had on hand. You can check out the original recipe here, if you are interested.

Also, you may find that the recipe makes more stuffing than will fill 6 or 8 peppers. It really depends on the size of the peppers and on the size of the other veggies you use. If you have extra stuffing, it keeps as leftovers very well and would also be delicious all on its own if you don’t want to buy more peppers.

I hope you all enjoy these when you make them! Let me know how they turn out for you!

Linking up with Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Twenty-Six

Yesterday I turned twenty-six years old. My day started out pretty rough–thanks 6am garbage truck who wakes my son every Friday morning!–but I ended up having a great day. We had some wonderful friends take Evan for the evening and Brinton and I were able to go out to dinner and just enjoy each others company. After dinner we caught the tail end of the Waikiki fireworks from the top of the Ala Moana Center and then walked around the mall for a bit picking up my free birthday perks from a few makeup stores. I also stopped to buy an adorable Curious George stuffed animal for Evan. I know it was my birthday but I knew he would love it so much!

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Later we went to buy Brinton a suit for his sister’s wedding and then went out for fro-yo at Menchies. It was such a good evening and a much needed date night. We haven’t been out just the two of us in quite a while and it was so nice to be able to go out without worrying about if Evan was getting antsy or not.

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Brinton also surprised me with a beautiful necklace from Wrenn Jewelry. Their jewelry is just so stunning–I want everything! The necklace he chose for me is absolutely gorgeous. I’m wearing it in the picture above, but I’ll post a better picture on the blog and on Instagram next week when I’m actually dressed. It’s pjs Saturday around here today…no shame, y’all.

I asked my mom to send me a few pictures of me when I was little. Here’s a few good ones of baby/toddler Maria. Ha, you can see I’ve always had quite a little personality.

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I hope you all are having a fantastic weekend. Thanks to everyone who called or messaged me with birthday wishes! I appreciate you all!