20 Jun
Posted in: Food, Main Dishes
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Chicken Green Chili Soup

I am not going to deny the fact that I enjoy soup. Even when it’s 90 degrees outside, I will still eat the soup. And this particular soup is so light, so fresh tasting that it’s great in the summer. Even if it is hot outside.

Chicken Green Chili Soup
2 C. rice
8 C. chicken broth
2 C. water
2. C. chicken, cooked and chopped or shredded
1 can Ro-Tel (or other diced tomatoes with green chilies)
1 small can green chilies
Juice from 2 limes

2 Avacadoes, chopped
1/2 C. cilantro, chopped

In a soup pot, cook rice according to package directions. Add in chicken, chicken broth, water, Ro-tel, chilies and lime juice. Cook until simmering.

While soup is heating up, chop avocado and cilantro. Then admire your handiwork.

Spoon soup into bowls, and add avocado and cilantro just before serving.


14 Jun
Posted in: Abode, Food
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I Picked A Pepper

This summer, my husband and I (along with the help of some fantastic friends) set out to plant our very first vegetable garden.

The places on our property that get the best light also happen to have the worst soil, so we settled on a raised-bed garden rather than a row garden, which is by far the most common way of operating in our neighborhood.

And so we set out to work. I don’t know about you, but I still find it nothing short of a daggum miracle that you can plant a tiny seed in some dirt (not even great dirt, at that!) and out pops a plant that will produce the most delicious vegetables your mouth ever laid… eyes(?) on.

We’ve been weeding and watering when it doesn’t rain, and checking the vegetables regularly. I’ve had my eyes on a couple of banana peppers and today one looked big enough to pick. So I brought it up and sliced it up and the kids and I had a few bites of the first bounty of our garden. I am thrilled. I can’t wait to show you what we end up with out of our humble little raised beds. And I can’t wait to cook and freeze and can some of the stuff!

8 Jun
Posted in: Food
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Favorite Restaurant Desserts

This week was my dear friend Brittany’s birthday, and for her birthday dessert (it’s a house church tradition!) she requested I make the Applebee’s Blondie with Maple Butter sauce. I happily obliged, as it is one of my all-time favorite restaurant desserts.

I mean, come on, I LOVE to bake, so most of the time if I want a dessert, I just make it. But there are a few available at your everyday chain restaurant that are worth the calories. So – my humble list of favorites.

Tiramisu from Olive Garden. I know this Tiramisu recipe is likely as authentic as the numbered menu at your local Mexican restaurant, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious in my opinion. Light fluffy cream over espresso-soaked ladyfingers with a dusting of bitter cocoa to top it off. Mmm.

Walnut Blondie with Maple Butter Sauce from Applebees. The inspiration for this post, a warm, moist walnut blondie served on a hot skillet with the most decadent maple butter sauce. And, of course, ice cream.

Torta di Chocolate from Olive Garden – Touted as their “no sugar added” option. HA! This is a joke – it is one of the most calorie and fat-laden dessert items on the menu, so don’t feel healthy for ordering it, ok? But do feel good for making an incredible dessert choice. Smooth, creamy dark-chocolate torte served with a vanilla creme sauce and strawberries. Yes, please.

Ice Cream Taco from Chili Willie’s – I realize this isn’t a chain at all. In fact, it’s a pretty delicious one-off local restaurant. But the fact is, their ice cream taco is so good, I would be remiss if I left it off my list. If you live in or around Huntington, WV, or are just driving through, do yourself a favor and eat here. And order this. You will thank me. A cinnamon-sugar taco shell filled with sweet cinnamon ice cream, topped with real whipped cream, honey, almonds, and chocolate chips. Oh, and a cherry.

Cookies and Cream Milkshake from Chick-Fil-A – I do not eat fast food frequently. With one exception – Chick-Fil-A. Also known as Yum-Yum-Yum. And of all the fast food dessert options, Chick-Fil-A’s milkshakes are to-die for.

Petite Vanilla Bean Scones from Starbucks. Little bite-sized bits of fabulousness. Perfect with a hot latte, and the perfect size for a sweet little bite without breaking the calorie bank.

Honorable Mention: Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake – the underdog of the Olive Garden dessert lineup, this cake is surprisingly light and de-licious. Chick-Fil-A’s Lemon Pie – made with a flaky crust and real meringue.

So what did I miss? What are your favorite restaurant desserts?

4 Jun
Posted in: Craft
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Gathered Clutch

My friend Mandy is a paradox. “Work Mandy” is totally put-together, organized, thorough, passionate, and inspiring. “Home Mandy” is a little more… scattered. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for her to be out without a wallet/cash/phone/ID. I knew she had been looking for a little wristlet she could through the above items in and grab – smaller than a purse, but with a strap, unlike her wallet. Her birthday was a couple weeks ago, so I was determined to make one for her.

I had seen this super cute tutorial a couple months ago on a craft blog. I knew that with the simple addition of a wrist strap it would be the perfect little clutch for Mandy. I won’t repost the tutorial (it isn’t mine, after all) but I will show you how mine turned out, and how to add the wrist strap.

The inside: The floral fabric is a divider pocket, the red polka-dot two credit card/ID pockets. The blue is just the lining.

Instructions for adding the wrist strap:

Cut a 2″ x 11″ strip of fabric. Sew along long end, right sides together. Turn tube, and press so that seam is in the middle (not along the side).

On the very last sewing step (where you sew around the edges of the lining and the outer fabric. ) – tuck the strap in between the two outside fabric panels. See my photo below about how NOT to do this:

That’s right. I’m such a fantastic blogger that I took a photo of the wrong way to do it, ripped the seam out, replaced the strap in the correct position, and sewed it all up without taking a photo of the correct way to do it. Awesome.

Anyway, the strap should be tucked inside the fabric here, with just the little end tabs sticking out from the middle. In other words, the opposite of the above photo. Make sure the seam on the strap is turned facing the inside. Then sew it up according to the instructions on the tutorial. You may want to pin the strap in place if you don’t plan to start sewing at that spot.

I want to make another one or two of these to have on hand for gifts. This first one took me about three hours, including choosing the fabrics. I would imagine the next ones would go a bit more quickly, since there would be less seam ripping taking place. At least, theoretically.

As for Mandy, she says she hasn’t left her wallet/cash/phone/ID even once since she’s been carrying it. I’m glad I could be a life-changer for her. :-)

28 May
Posted in: Life
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Simply Links – May

It’s that time again – for me to share with you some of my favorite things. I hope you enjoy.

1. Tag Reader – this is one of the best toys my children have, hands down. I love the thing. It’s a pen they can use with Tag books to read, explore, and play games. You load the audio files onto the pen by connecting it to your computer and downloading them from the Leapfrog site, and that’s it. Some of the books are storybooks (Cat in the Hat) and some are filled with a story and activities. Either way, they’re great. The kids both love them, will play for 10 minutes or more at a time (huge for a 2-3 year old) and they’re educational. Not to mention the reader goes on sale frequently and can be had for a steal, and the books cost no more than regular story books.

2. Alchimie Forever – While it is true that this hand and foot cream costs twice as much as I would typically pay, I do not tell a lie when I say it’s worth it. Because my oldest client is a medical spa, I’ve known and loved Alchimie Forever products for the past five years or so. But their 532nm hand and foot cream (all their products are named after beauty lasers) found its way to my appendages while I was pregnant with my son. Some of you know that swollen, tired, terrible feeling your feet acquire while carrying around a watermelon on your belly – this foot cream was like heaven. It actually contains ingredients to help with swelling AND soreness. So if you’re pregnant, it’s a must, and if you aren’t, it’s worth the splurge.

3. Every month I show you an Anthropologie find, because I really do love the store. that. much. Since I last did a links update, I actually got to step foot in an Anthropologie store. Lets just say I count it a good thing that there isn’t one closer to me. My wallet (and conscious – I do try not to buy in excess) wouldn’t appreciate it. I did find this very cute shirt and brought it home with me. It needed a good home.

I also bought an orange-vanilla candle and a really fun retro kitchen timer. And I saw a totally craft-able headband that I’m hoping to make and share with you soon. You know, in all my spare time.

4. One of the 3,253 blogs I read on a daily basis (I kid, I kid. I think.) is Design Sponge, and probably my favorite feature is their before and after.

It makes me want to run to my nearest thrift shop and buy something, anything to redo. I have not acted on this impulse yet, but someday, friends, someday. Anyway, this week they featured this bench which I absolutely, positively adore. Click here to read the article – you must see the before.

25 May

Buttered Pecan Apples

I’m a fan of cooked apples. Scratch that: I’m a fan of apples when they’re cooked well. Not when they’re cooked down so much that as soon as you insert a fork you’re approaching applesauce, nor when they’re swimming in so much butter and sugar it’s more like a pie without the crust. My perfect cooked apples hold their shape but are still pleasantly soft, and are sweet and flavorful enough, but not void of all nutritional value because of an excess of sugar/fats.

These apples were, if I do say so myself, probably my favorite. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Buttered Pecan Apples

3 T butter
1/4 C. chopped pecans
3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 T. honey
1 pinch salt

In a medium frying pan, melt butter and add pecans. Toast for 2-3 minutes. (Resist the urge to add in heavy cream and throw in an ice cream churn. Yum.) Add honey and salt, then apples. Stir to coat. Cover, and cook over medium for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep apples from burning. Enjoy!

23 May
Posted in: Craft
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Quilt Week 3B

Nevermind that “week 3” has taken, in all actuality, six weeks. The quilt top is finished! I refrained from doing a happy dance. I have a suspicion the remaining “weeks” of the quilt-making will be a little easier than this step. As long as I have it finished by fall when the weather cools off, I’ll be happy.

Regardless of my snail’s pace, I am loving these colors. What do you think?

To see the tutorial again, click here. Hopefully for my next update I can share photos of my fellow quilters progress, since they aren’t bloggers.

20 May
Posted in: Life
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Nine Years

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our nine-year anniversary. I find this nearly impossible to believe, because it seems like I just graduated from high school about six years ago (not 13) and it seems like I just graduated from college and got married about four years ago (not nine). Unfortunately, the calendar keeps me on track, and so it really, truly has been nine years since 2001.

Anyway, we spent the evening being extra kind to each other, holding hands, enjoying each other’s company. and going out to dinner. (Stuffed eggplant anyone? Yes, please. And don’t forget the house-made strawberry-mint lemonade. But I digress.)  I asked the annual, “Are you still glad you married me?” and he replied something along the lines of “Yes, I still don’t believe I deserve you,” and it dawned on me that perhaps the key to a happy marriage (or at least one of them, or at least in our case) is that you both think you got the better end of the deal.

Let’s look at the facts. A few points about my husband:

  • He can make or build anything. This includes, but is not limited to, a ring while we were dating, a dog crate that was – at the time – nicer than any piece of furniture I had to my name, copious amounts of furniture in our home, our entire home, etc., etc.
  • He can cook, and enjoys it. He admits sometimes he’s a little sad that I’ve taken up food as a hobby because I sort of kicked him out of the kitchen.
  • He is tidy. To me, this is a big plus in a mate.
  • He tells me I’m pretty on a regular basis. This is important for a woman who recently birthed two children and is carrying around 5 pounds or so in the midsection alone. And I really, truly believe he cares about me, even if he never said so. Except that he does.
  • He takes care of our family. If there’s something that needs done, it is taken care of. I don’t have to worry.
  • He works hard. Like, harder than any other person I know.
  • He’s super smart. Sometimes I don’t like this about him because he’s smarter than me. At least, most of the time. But in general, it’s an asset.

Let’s look at my list:

  • I’m moody.
  • I have little to no hands-on skills.
  • I like to yell when I’m frustrated.
  • I get grumpy when I’m hungry or sleepy.
  • I don’t like outside work.

I’m sure his list might look a little differently. After all, he does still say he’s glad he married me. But for the life of me I can’t figure out why some days.

Anyway, like I said. We both think we got the better end of the deal.

17 May
Posted in: Life
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Happy Birthday, Blog

I can hardly believe it, but this week marks Simple | Modern | Life’s first birthday. That’s right – just a year ago I

was posting recipes for Slow Cooker Pork Chops, my take on Rice Krispy Treats, declaring my love for swings, and bragging on my husband’s carpentry skills.

I’ve enjoyed writing about my hobbies (probably more than you’ve enjoyed reading about them, honestly), and I’m hoping to stick around for a while longer. What I’d like to know, though, is what you want to read more about. Do you look forward to recipes? Craft tutorials? Book reviews? Why do YOU come here? I need to know these things. It helps me plan for the future.

Thanks for reading, my handful of faithful readers. And I hope you continue to stop by here a few times a week for updates.

11 May
Posted in: Life
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The Best $30 I Ever Spent

My husband and I have about a 10 degree difference in our internal temperatures. This was magnified when we added our the master bedroom and bathroom a few years back. The addition had to have its own central heating/air unit because the extra space would have put too much strain on the one serving the original part of our house. This meant we could keep our bedroom a different temperature from the rest of the house – and boy do we ever.

Before we had children, throughout the winter my husband would simply turn the heat off for the night. We’d go to bed at a comfortable (to me) 68 or so degrees, and wake up at 53. I am not exaggerating. Once we had a little one in a bassinet by the bed, we kept it above 65, but that didn’t stop our nightly conversations that went something like this:

Me – “I’m freezing. It’s so cold in here.” (I’d say this with long pants, a sweatshirt, and thick socks. Shivering. Under four blankets.)
Husband – “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m sweating.” (He’d reply wearing boxer shorts and covered with maybe a sheet.)

Repeat nightly.

Not only that, but it would often take me as much as an hour to get warm enough to fall asleep.

We have a king-sized bed, so one day it occurred to me I could purchase a twin size electric blanket to cover my half of the bed. I already slept with an extra blanket on my side, which wasn’t enough, but thought perhaps the extra kick from an electric blanket would help. And I am not lying when I say it is maybe the best purchase I’ve ever made.

Now when I come upstairs for bed, I turn the blanket on high. I go brush my teeth, wash my face, put on my pj’s, and when I return, the bed is nice and warm. Within about 10 minutes I’m warm enough to turn it down to a lower setting and sleep like a baby for hours. On occasion, I even have to turn it off. Every night (no kidding) I say to myself, I’m so thankful for this electric blanket.

The best part is it’s totally eliminated the nightly “discussion” of temperature. Now if I could just find a heated toilet seat, I’d be all set.

Do any of you have a similar purchase that totally changed your life?