Tuesday, April 29, 2014


(Sometimes you doodle on conference calls to get your creative soul through the day.)

I'm not always so good with change. It's strange… because I often want change. But then when I get it, I tend to freak out a bit. I started my new job last Thursday and the change has been tough. I was the expert at my old job - everyone knew me, most people liked me, I was the go-to girl when someone had a question or needed something to get done. Now I know nothing, few people know me, and I have to establish myself all over again. And that's hard for me. I texted a few people Friday morning saying, "Pray for me. I'm panicking that I'm going to hate my new job." (A little dramatic? Maybe…) Their prayers and this little post-it note that I saw on my new co-worker's computer got me through the day. Her post-it note said:
"You can only like what you know. You have to have knowledge to know what you like." 
It's a cheesy quote but it couldn't be more representative of what I'm struggling with right now. I don't even know this job or this department or these people… (Yet.) The post-it has actually proven itself to be true… because the more I have learned, the more I have liked this new job. And that's good news!

It's funny how a little post-it note (and Jesus) can totally change your outlook on things.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A good salad.

(Yes, I realize it looks like I had more topping than salad but I hadn't mixed it up yet…)

I can really enjoy a good salad. I wish I was that person who ate salads all the time… but I'm not going to pretend to be. I love my fair share of pulled pork sandwiches, general tso's chicken, pepperoni pizza, pad thai, and the like. But occasionally (I said, occasionally) I like a good salad. And I made one the other day.

It was easy and delicious and just in case you're looking for a new salad... I thought I'd tell you about it. The recipe is actually Pioneer Woman's but I made a few alterations because I can. I don't think she'd mind. She seems pretty cool. 

The ingredients:
-Lettuce (or some sort of green)
-Chicken (confession: to keep it simple, I just bought the pre-cooked chicken breast in the deli meat section)
-Blue cheese
-Apple (I have been going for braeburns lately although my heart will always long for honeycrisps. At $4.99/lb, my heart is going to have to hold off until they go on sale)
-Dried cranberries (PW's recipe calls for dried cherries but those are hard to find and are more expensive)
-Red onion
-Maple Dijon dressing (that's where the Pioneer Woman comes in, the recipe for this is below)

You chop up all of these ingredients and throw them together and have yourself a deliciously refreshing salad. I have been making mine for lunch and have been quite satisfied. Hope you enjoy!

The dressing:
-1 tablespoon (heaping) dijon mustard
-1 tablespoon maple syrup (more to taste)
-1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (more to taste)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

In a small jar, add all of the above ingredients. Put the lid on the jar and shake well to mix the dressing.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cake toppers.

It had been a while since I had baked a cake but I had the chance to make two in the last week. Confession: cakes stress me out. I love making them... but I'm a perfectionist and a lot of things can go wrong when you bake a cake. You could burn it while baking it. The frosting could turn out wrong. You could stack it and it ends up lopsided (one of my most common mistakes that drives me crazy.) You could screw up while trying to write words with frosting...

I've decided to do away with the possibility of the last stressful situation and am going to take a break from writing on cakes. It stresses me out. And if I do it the way that guarantees results it takes waaaay too long. But it just happens to be my lucky day because Pinterest agrees with me and is all about this "sticking things on top of a cake and calling it a day" thing. (And what Pinterest says goes.) So I made cake toppers instead!

(This is how it's done, folks.)

One cake was for a family birthday party. It was a white cake with white frosting (with a lil' almond extract to make it special.) I used some wooden skewers, cute scrapbook paper, string, glue, and a Sharpie to make a banner. It was really easy to make and the family was impressed. (Not that that says that much… they love everything I do because they have to.)

The other cake I made for my friend Megan. It was a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and peanut butter filling. Megan's an artist so I wanted to do something cute for her. I kept it simple because I didn't have a lot of time but I was happy with the results.

You can do it too! An easy way to spruce up a cake without the risk of writing on the cake itself - a DIY cake topper. Man, I love workarounds… Happy baking and decorating!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A perfect night in Kansas City.

Tonight was one of those nights where I found myself saying out loud "This is so great…" all throughout the evening. So I thought I'd tell you about it...

Last week, my brothers Joel and Cory tried out a new barbeque restaurant in Kansas City called Q39. They had great things to say, and they know their barbecue, so I wanted to try it for myself. I went with my friends Kim and Becky and it was indeed delicious! Oklahoma Joe's will always reign supreme as far as my favorite barbecue joint goes. But Q39… a close second. It has a classier feel (being that it's not in a gas station) and the barbeque was outstanding.

After dinner we went over to my favorite place in Kansas City: Loose Park. I love that place. The tulips were out. The grass was soft (Kim encouraged us to take our shoes off and soak it up… it was a great idea.) The weather was beautiful. It was perfection.

After Loose Park we decided to take the scenic route back to Independence and go through downtown. I got the sudden urge to go visit The Scout and luckily Kim and Becky were on board for an added adventure so we made a quick stop.

What a great night. Have I mentioned that I love Kansas City? Because I do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Try-It Tuesday: Sesame Peanut Noodles.

It's been quite a while since I've posted a Try-It Tuesday post. I haven't really been in the mood to cook. No - I haven't been depressed… My house has just been a little all over the place lately and it hasn't inspired me to cook. A few weeks ago the heat wasn't working… that lasted about two weeks. The heat is now fixed (plus it's getting warmer outside) and so now we have ants. Just in the kitchen. Where all the food is. These things have made me feel not so motivated to get in the kitchen - so I've been eating out way more than I should. But I finally made a meal at home last night - and this is good news!

One of my new favorite food blogs is called Le Creme de la Crumb. I have made her Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake Bars (they were a hit!) and Hawaiian Hula Chicken (confession: wasn't a huge fan of this one.) When I saw her recent recipe for Sesame Peanut Noodles and knew that I actually had all of the ingredients at home - my previous excuses to stay out of the kitchen weren't going to keep me away. So I killed all of the ants I could find (sick, I know), whipped up the sauce, boiled some pasta, and about 15 minutes later I was eating dinner. The recipe was really quick and easy. There wasn't an overabundance of sauce which can either be a good thing - to keep it healthy, or a bad thing - because you love peanut sauce and want more. Also, there's no meat which can either be a good thing - because you're a vegetarian, or a bad thing - because you're like my dad and a meal without meat is not meal at all. Are there better peanut sauce noodle recipes out there? Yes (and this is the one.) Are there recipes that are this quicker, easier, and that still taste good? Maybe… but I am going to stick with this one. (This one's so easy, even you could do it, Katie Hayes!)

Sesame Peanut Noodles. Do it.

(Not bad for an Instagram pic, if I do say so myself…)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good news!

(Yes, I'm that girl who bought herself flowers to celebrate… and I'm ok with it.)

Have I mentioned that work has been rough lately? (Yes… we all know I have. Sorry...) Well, folks… I have some good news! I was offered a new job today. Still working for JPMorgan (but not for long…) but in a different department. I was hired at JPMorgan about three and a half years ago and have been working in a call center since. I am moving out of the call center (hallelujah!!!) and into "operations." Yeah, I know that sounds interesting… :) I'm excited for the chance to learn something new and to meet new people. I'm sure it'll have it's fair share of trials and issues… But I'm excited!

I've been waiting for a change for a while and God has decided to provide it for me now. I'm going to assume His timing is perfect… as it always is. So I'm excited to see what this new job has in store!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Deck ideas.

One of my favorite things to do is to make a space beautiful. Whether that's decorating a new wall or putting up decorations for a holiday… I love it. I live in a relatively small house which means I quickly ran out of spaces to makeover. The weather has recently started getting nice and I spent some time on my deck the other day… I love being outside. And the deck is a blank canvas… Which means I have found my next project!

First thing's first: I needed some seating. Eating outside is one of my favorite things to do so I wanted a table and some chairs. I really wanted to buy something cute from World Market but I'm on a budget so a simple table and chairs from Target did the trick.

Next was lighting. I have an affinity for white Christmas lights so I bought some of those and hung them around. I have grander ideas for these lights… but the house I'm living in is not my own so I kept it simple.

I decided that a table, chairs, and lights were about all my budget could handle for one weekend… so I stopped there. I have visions of having friends over and eating good meals, laughing til our sides hurt, having dance parties, playing games, and having deep conversations late into the night. I want an atmosphere that will be conducive to all of that. And I think I can do it. Here are some pictures/ideas I've seen that have got me dreaming…

The way I would actually like to hang the lights. Maybe someday…

Or like this...

Planting some lavender. I want plants. And I love the smell of lavender. So this just makes sense.

Mason jar lanterns/lights. You knew there had to be something like this…

Or this...

Succulents are all the rage. I wouldn't mind a table centerpiece like this…

Some kind of bench would be nice. (I'll take the view, too. Alright, thanks.)

Maybe I'll give an herb garden another try. I failed last time. But if at first you don't succeed…

Pots with personality? Yes, please.

Cushions and pillows for my patio furniture. I have mixed feelings about these… I really like the idea - but I have a feeling I would accidentally leave them outside and it would rain. Is that a risk I am willing to take?

Flower shadow boxes. I like this idea a lot!

And maybe a tree swing? It wouldn't be on the deck but the deck would overlook it which could be lovely.

Oh, the deck I could have...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A little Diet Coke thing...

This message is brought to you by: the little things in life.

I'm a bit of a Diet Coke addict. I remember when I was little hearing about these people who would drink Diet Coke throughout the day and I thought, "That's so bad for you. Who would do that?" When we were little my parents limited us to one can of pop a day, and that was it. So to hear about these people who drank tons of pop all day long… it was unheard of.

Then somewhere along the way… I became one of those people.

My favorite way to drink a Diet Coke is via fountain drink. Bottles will do. Cans are better than bottles.  Fountain reigns supreme. I don't know what it is… more fizzy? extra syrup? I don't know… But it's the best. Just about any Diet Coke drinker would agree. Another thing all DC drinkers (or any drinker of liquid, really…) would probably agree on is that when they fill up their drinks they will try to fill it up as full as possible. (Gotta get your money's worth, you know?) It's great, but… it results in the dreaded "push your straw in and pop comes spilling out of the straw hole so you have to slurp it up real fast before it spills everywhere" problem. An easy solution would be to just not fill your drink up as full. That would be logical.

The problem.

But McDonald's has a different answer to the problem. They want you to have your cake and eat it, too. They want you to be able to fill your pop to the top and not have it spill everywhere. So they raised their straw hole. "They what?" They raised their straw hole! It's genius, really. And I bet you've never noticed it. I didn't either… until one day I did. "I'd like to shake the hand of the person who thought of this," I thought, and continue to think. What a good idea!

The solution.

It's the little things in life… Raised straw holes. That's what I'm appreciating today... and I hope you will do the same.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The day I started blogging...

One of the ideas that I came across when I was experiencing some writer's block a while back was to write about "the day I started blogging… What was I thinking?" That's a good question. I was a 21 year old college junior who thought I was unique in the way that I appreciated the little things in life and decided to make it public rather than keep it to myself. (Now I realize I'm not that unique…) And I loved (and continue to love) things like coffee shops, movie popcorn, benches, condensation on cups, TV shows… And I wanted to write about it - but not just for myself for some reason - I wanted it to be public. (I'll blame it on my generation because we like to be the center of attention. Or my dad - because he taught me how to be a drama queen - love you, De Da!)

Some days… a lot of days… I feel silly that I still blog. I'm now 26. (It's been 5 and a half years. Holy. cow.) I work in finance. (What?) I should be spending my down time cleaning my kitchen or doing laundry or something, right? I've only got like 46 consistent readers - most of which are my family. I'm worried that "with my old age" I'm losing my ability to notice the little things. And I can be so insecure at times that I'm afraid to even tell people about my blog because: 1. all of the reasons listed above, 2. the title is kind of ridiculous - an old MuteMath song… really?

But then… Then I remember how great I feel after finishing a new wreath for my front door and how I can't wait to write about it. Then something funny at work happens and a guy tells me that my sweater is ugly and it's got to be documented somewhere. Then someone tells me that they started writing letters to the people in their life because they saw the idea that I am writing letters on my blog. Then my "grandma" Lois tells me yet again that she loves reading and that she wants me to write a book. Then I get my confidence back and don't ever want to stop.

So yes. I'm 26. I work in finance. I love driving with the windows down, playing SkipBo on my iPhone every night until I fall asleep, ridiculous TV shows the The Vampire Diaries, laughing so hard that I cry, the way that batter looks in a Kitchenaid mixer, listening to a song on repeat because I love it so much and once is not enough… And I love writing about it. And I love that all 46 of you read it. And I'm thankful for that. Here's to five and a half more years of "noticing my heart." ;) (You knew that I had to end it with a cheesy line. I just had to.)

(My first post ever… Written on November 16, 2008. Entitled "Ah hey…" Sounds like me.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Buy the hammock."

I went to Austin this last weekend. A lot of people have been asking how my trip was and what I did and I feel like I could sum it up in two words: eating and laughing (ok, three if you count "and" - don't be a jerk.) I had a great time with my brothers Joel and Cory. Austin is a great town. And my goodness, did I eat a lot of good food.

We stopped by REI while I was there because Joel had been dreaming about some new hiking boots for a while and was finally ready to take the plunge. While we were there I came across the hammocks… "Man, I've been wanting to buy a hammock for a while." I stood there and stared at them. Debated with my brothers. Walked around the store some more. And Joel finally said, "Buy the hammock." He's always been pretty practical - I mean the guy had come to REI three different times to try these boots on before actually buying them, so when he tells me to drop $100 without batting an eye I was surprised. So I did it. I bought the hammock.

We were talking later about how his outlook on life is changing. He's living more and encouraging others to do the same. Go back to school. Order a cupcake. Ask the girl out. Buy the hammock! So I did. I took Monday off and it was a beautiful day - I put the hammock up and read in my back yard for two hours and I was pretty stinking happy that I bought the hammock. I want to start living in a "buy the hammock" kind of way. And you should, too. YOLO was so three years ago… Buy the hammock's the new thing. And you should do it! Buy the hammock!

"Buy the hammock!"