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Pretty Painted Paper Lanterns

Trying saying that three times fast, am I right?

Here is the story of how we took six paper lanterns, some pretty paint, two small children and tossed it all together for one Pinterest Challenge inspired project. What’s that? You didn’t know there was a Pinterest Challenge going on?

Once again, Bower Power and Young House Love teamed up to challenge the world to create Pinteresting items, this time with friends The Remodeled Life and Decor & the Dog. This is the first time I have actually had a blog up and running during one of their Pinterest Challenges, and as it nicely coincided with a project I wanted to complete… well, the stars aligned.

These six plain white paper lanterns were actually leftover from our wedding, which was lovely. I was feeling all gushy and sentimental and just couldn’t toss the lanterns out, so they hung out in storage for a couple years before they met their destiny this past weekend. I was inspired to drag them out of storage after stumbling on this tutorial by Four Flights of Fancy. She took similar lanterns and beautified them with watercolor and her kid’s help, which really rang a bell with me of course! Check out her version – I like how she really soaked them with color – maybe ours will get another coat in the future, but the kids were being a little delicate with their brush strokes.

Latern Photo 1

We did put our own spin on it. I used acrylics – it’s what I had to make the colors I wanted. We did a little more brush-stroking rather than spraying (although I did bust out a spray bottle in the end). The kids seem to enjoy handling a paintbrush so I thought I’d give it a try first. I think they turned out just lovely!

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My supplies included:

  • Six paper lanterns (I don’t recall what they cost, but they were either from the Dollar Tree in which case they were probably… yep… a dollar each. Or, they were from a three pack at Party City here in Bloomington in which case they were probably just a few bucks)
  • Some yarn or thread
  • A cup or jar of water
  • Brushes or sponges for applying paint
  • Watercolor or acrylic paint in colors you like. I used gesso to make the white tones – I have a lot of it, and I have a little crush on gesso. It’s my version of duct tape – good for everything.
  • A drop cloth or someplace you don’t care about making a mess at.

For us, this was a no-cost project since we had all the materials on-hand. Even if you had to buy things, I imagine it could be made for pretty cheap! If you don’t have paints, I bet koolaid colors or even one of those little watercolor trays for kids for a dollar or two could do the job!

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Originally, I tied the metal top of each with some pretty wool yarn I happened to have, and which I thought would fit nicely into the colors of Haven’s room – where I intended to hang them up. All that will change eventually when I realize I hate the heavy yarn on it, and switch it out. We’ll get it that.

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While this may have been a project for his sister’s room, Diallo is pretty much ready to join into anything – and he was actually pretty focused on his work. He is much more unrestrained with his brush strokes than his sister and wanted lots of drips and cool effects, which turned out pretty cool. Just like the original creator of this project, I learned that letting the kids follow their instincts works out.

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Haven was meticulous in where she wanted the colors – but they each took turns painting each lantern so they all turned out pretty balanced. We choose a light blue, a light green, and a nice mid-tone pink so it would tie in with the rest of our plans for Haven’s room.

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Afterward, just to get the colors mixed a little better, I used my spray bottle with plain water in it and sprayed each lantern down a bit.

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These lanterns are so paper-thin, they dried in just a few minutes! We balanced them on paper plates while they were painted and dried, but it was such a quick process. Seriously – it took maybe 15 minutes, max.

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That very afternoon I proudly stomped up to Haven’s room (I’m a loud walker. Seriously.) and  hung the lanterns up – three in one corner, and three in front of the window. I tied each set of three together first, to make a little grouping of them and hung them from tiny cup hooks in the ceiling. I stood back to assess my work… and hated it.

I loved the lanterns, they actually turned out really cute and I love seeing the kid’s brushstrokes. But the yarn was all wrong! It changed them from feeling like they were floating ethereally in the air and made them heavy and clumsy. Bluck.

So, I admitted I was wrong and fixed it. What other way is there to respond, really? I went down to my workroom, grabbed some plain white thread and re-hung them.

Latern Photo 4Latern Photo 3

Muuuuuuch better. Okay, let’s admit that the pictures above aren’t great. We rent our current townhouse, and while we can repaint we didn’t bother repainting the kids rooms. Her room is a sort of a… scuffed up cream color. The trim has seen better days, too. It just isn’t real photogenic… so just blur your eyes a little bit and move on down to the rest of the post. Thanks!

This time, I re-hung them using tiny little white tacks… sort of like thumb tacks but much smaller. The lanterns weigh almost nothing, so it holds it up.

Latern Photo 2

Didn’t they turn out so sweet? They add a nice depth to the room, too, having something so light and whimsical hanging all around. They are also hung up nice and high so the kids can’t pull on them – but honestly, if they did, it wouldn’t exactly come “crashing down” on them. These things are like… an ounce each.

I can’t wait to see all the other Pinterest inspired projects posted to the blogs this week! Anyone else participating? Anyone else have plastic storage totes they want to crack open and put to use?

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Make The Most Of It: 5 Recipes Using Fresh Spinach

Is anything worse than throwing out half a bag of fresh spinach, because it went south when you couldn’t find a use for it? It is almost impossible to buy “just enough” for one recipe, and I really do love fresh spinach. It is just so wasteful to toss half of it because it turned the corner into ickyville.

In cold weather months, I make a big batch of Minestrone Soup about once every two-three weeks, and often have the very best intentions when I buy that bag of pretty green leaves… only to discover the leftovers a week later, and grieve its loss. So, I sat down tonight with a cup of my new favorite tea and made  a list of 5 worthy recipes using fresh spinach. Here we go!

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Spinach Artichoke Pasta  by The Pioneer Woman: This is amazing, really and truly. If you love spinach artichoke dips (obviously you do, it’s also amazing) The Pioneer Woman has discovered a way to make a legitimate dinner out of it. This is delicious, and our kids even ate it! Also check out her recipe for The Best Spinach Artichoke Dip Ever.

Minestrone Soup by Painting Sunny: My own version of minestrone soup, this is healthy, very affordable, vegan (don’t let that be a turn-off), and makes enough to freeze for many a meal. Fresh spinach is what makes this soup reach a whole new level of deliciousness and wholesomeness. That’s a lot of ness, right there.

Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna by Simply Recipes: This looks amazing. Full disclosure, I haven’t tried this recipe yet. For years I’ve used the Barilla No Boil Lasagna Noodle recipe from the box, and just substituted vegetables in place of the Italian sausage. Usually, I use spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, and maybe a red or yellow bell pepper. Ms. Bauer’s version looks looooovely, and will be utilized the next time I get a craving for a big hearty Italian dish. It does call for frozen spinach, but I’m thinking fresh would fit in alright, don’t you?

Scrambled Egg Quesadillas by Painting Sunny: This is a staple in our household. We practically have a quota of how many of these we eat on Monday nights. I love adding fresh spinach and maybe a little artichoke heart to mine, to kick up the flavor. Affordable, quick, and family-friendly: a triple-threat. This is the Jennifer Hudson of recipes.

Asparagus, Spinach & Feta Quiche by Two Peas & Their Pod: This is one other recipe I haven’t tried yet, but I am excited to have found. I’ve made spinach quiche before… and it always called for frozen spinach, and always turned out… well, weird. This recipe calls for fresh spinach, and looks like a fantasy of weekend morning brunches. Their Green Smoothie recipe is also intriguing… I just need an appliance that makes smoothies first.

Well, that’s a wrap. A spinach wrap, really. Anything else I’ve left off? Fresh spinach is such a versatile ingredient, really, this list could blow up to 10, 20, or more I’m sure… Keep calm and cook on!

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Spinach Quesadillas 11

PS: What is that new favorite tea you ask? I’m obsessed. It is Sweet Cinnamon Spice Herbal Tea by Private Selection (Kroger brand). It tastes like melted red hots candy but not quite as hot and sweet, and more tea-like. Clearly, impossible to describe. 

PPS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Make Yourself A Dang Quesadilla

Okay, raise your hand if you picked up on that Napoleon Dynamite reference. Anyone? Anyone? Okay, let’s take a moment to catch up.

Now, time for some Scrambled Egg Quesadillas!

Last year I was at our local discount bookstore and paid $1 for a copy of Quick, Quicker, Quickest: 350 delicious meals ready in 20, 30, or 40 minutes! by Better Homes and Gardens. If you click here it looks like Amazon has it for pretty close to that price, too. This is not a cookbook recommendation or review, though. In fact, the cookbook itself has been only mildly useful. For $1 it was worth it, though, just for this one recipe (page 241 in the book, in the 30-Minute Meals section) which is our new favorite, and we now eat in excess at least once a week.

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These are quick, super affordable, and pretty family friendly depending on what you add. I add a little spinach or artichoke inside mine, so this is pretty dang customizable. Which appears not to be a word… which is weird because I hear people say that all the time.

Abbreviated version of the recipe is at the bottom of the post.

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Gather those ingredients… no worries, I’ll wait here for you:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tbs diced green chilies (like you can buy in a cute little can)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated queso quesadilla cheese (as seen in the picture below)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • four-six 10-inch flour tortillas
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Toppings such as salsa, hot sauce, etc.

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We did change it up a bit from the original cookbook recipe… substituting  ingredients we like more, especially the cheese. I loooove this Cacique Queso Quesadilla stuff. This is not a sponsored post, but if someone tried to bribe me with this stuff… well, my willpower would be tested. It melts to perfection. Perfection I tell you.

Spinach Quesadillas 1

Heat a large skillet or pan on medium heat and start off with melting your butter. Okay, fine, I used just a smidgen more than 1 tbs… I just really like butter.

Spinach Quesadillas 2

Add your diced onions to the skillet and let them cook for a few minutes until they get soft and a little browned.

Toss the 3 tbs of diced green chilies in there and let those cook 2-3 minutes as well. This is not pictured above… but the chilies are totally what makes the flavor of this dish.

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While that cooks, crack your eggs into a bowl and add some salt and pepper. Beat the eggs an extra moment or two, so they will cook up a little bit fluffy. Add about 1/3 of the cheese and stir it in.

Once your onion/chili combo is ready, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it cool down just a minute. Spread the onions/chilies evenly around the skillet, using a spatula. Add your eggs to the pan, and tilt the pan around until it evenly covers the bottom.

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Let the eggs cook just a bit, then stir them. It may look really brown from the cooked buttery onion stuff in the pan – no worries, as it cooks it won’t look so dramatic.

Occasionally flip and gently stir around the eggs, making sure they cook through. When they’re done, turn off the heat.

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Spread a little more of your cheese over the middle of half the tortillas. I just take the grater and grate it right over the top of them.

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Spoon some egg mixture from the skillet into the middle of those tortillas, right over the cheese. Spread it out a little, but not too close to the edge – you don’t want it to get squished out. Spread the rest of your cheese over top of the egg on each one, as shown above.
Spinach Quesadillas 9Either clean up your skillet from before, or get another one ready. Heat it up until it’s warm, over medium heat, and spray some non-stick cooking spray on it. Put the other half of the tortillas over top of the egg and cheese covered ones. Carefully transport a quesadilla into your skillet.

Cook it on one side for 1-3 minutes, until lightly browned and the cheese has melted. Flip it over, and cook the other side.

I use a cast-iron press made by Lodge company, to press the quesadillas down. If you don’t have a press, you can either just skip it being pressed down and plain-old cook it, or you can use the bottom of a smaller pan to press it. I do love this cast-iron press, though. It will last longer than anything else on earth, and makes a killer panini too.

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Seriously,yum. You can see I wasn’t lying about adding the spinach to mine. I use a knife or pizza-cutter to slice them into quarters (or eighths for the kids) and serve them with sides like a southwestern salad, cold pineapple, or sliced oranges.

Anyone else finding ways to make every dinner actually be breakfast? Breakfast is just the bees knees, you know? Any other $1 cookbook finds? Or Napoleon Dynamite references?

Scrambled Egg Quesadillas

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tbs diced green chilies (like you can buy in a cute little can)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated queso quesadilla cheese (as seen in the picture below)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • four-six 10-inch flour tortillas
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Toppings such as salsa, hot sauce, etc.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Melt your butter. Add your diced onions and cook 3-4 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Add the chilies  and cook 2-3 minutes. While that cooks, crack your 6 eggs into a bowl and add some salt and pepper. Beat the eggs an extra moment or two. Stir in about 1/3 of the cheese.

Once your onion/chili is ready, turn the heat down to medium-low. Spread the onions/chilies evenly around the skillet. Add your eggs to the pan, and tilt the pan until it evenly covers the bottom. Occasionally flip and gently stir around the eggs, making sure they cook through. When they’re done, turn off the heat.

Spread a little more of your cheese over the middle of half the tortillas. Spoon some egg mixture into the middle of the tortillas, right over the cheese. Spread it out a little, but not too close to the edge. Spread the rest of your cheese over top of the egg on each one.

Heat a skillet until it’s warm, over medium heat, and spray some non-stick cooking spray on it. Put the other half of the tortillas over top of the egg and cheese covered ones. Carefully transport a quesadilla into your skillet. Cook it on one side for 1-3 minutes, until lightly browned and the cheese has melted. Flip it over, and cook the other side. Cut the quesadilla into quarters and enjoy!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Window Shopping With Our Friend Etsy

Admittedly, I’m not a big shopper, unless it is for food. I don’t at all mind spending time comparing Greek yogurts at our local grocery… but trying on a million pairs of pants has never sounded appealing to me. Ever. Online shopping has become almost my sole source of clothing and accessories. Somehow I feel more level-headed and relaxed while shopping online, and love not having to worry about having a meltdown in a shabby dressing room.

Etsy is a true love of mine. It is a way to mindlessly browse online, procure cute and affordable jewelry, and support an actual person instead of a major department store. Win-win-win in my book. While I am all about my earrings, I don’t actual own necklaces (aside from a few old sentimental ones) and have never really been into wearing them. Maybe that could change?

Here are my top picks for lovely and affordable (all between $20-$40) accessories: 

Etsy Necklaces MoodBoard Numbered.jpg

  1. Viva Revival: This is a little unique spin on the very trendy personalized necklaces out there.
  2. Sincerely, Me: Another personilized option, for a monogram.
  3. Lakeshore Creations: A nice size, and pretty and simple.
  4. Paperface Studio: I love the secret feeling of this one! A hidden love note… sigh.
  5. Lucky Accessories: For any Mama, the number of peas can match her number of kiddos.
  6. Viva Revival: Again with this shop: this necklace is just so tiny it is irresistible!
  7. Lakeshore Creations:  Pretty and would look nice with dressier outfits and work clothes.
  8. Morgan Prather Accessories: This is my favorite, actually. It is just so delicate looking.
  9. Viva Revival: I seem to be drawn to this shop… Must be fate telling me something.
  10. SMAfactory: Something very 70s about this necklace appeals to me.

 

Guy’s appreciate a little love too, right? While I was at it, I went ahead and rounded up a few things I thought the handsome guy in my life (and maybe the ones in yours?) would enjoy:

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  1. TimeWatch: Okay, I am not in the know enough to understand what Steampunk is. But these cufflinks are fascinating…
  2. RN & TN: Simple looking keychains, but classic and the colors are just so pretty.
  3. Hope Of My Heart Designs: A hidden-message tie clip… this would be the perfect for a good-luck wish on a job search, maybe for a recent college grad?
  4. sassybrassycharms: For a climber, this is so affordable and a unique idea.
  5. Scotswhahae: I don’t know why, but I love the idea of a non-boring-leather wallet and this shop seems so authentic, straight out of Edinburgh, Scotland.

 
Anyone else spending too much time pumping up their favorites section on Etsy? I promise, I will get back to regular recipes and projects soon, but a little pretend-retail-therapy never killed anyone, right?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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All-time Favs: A Whole ‘Lotta Minestrone Soup

I literally live off this soup sometimes. Not joking. The saving grace is that this soup is healthy, affordable, and not all that hard to make. Believe me, I’ve got it down to a science at this point. Or maybe an art. Either way, it’s delicious. And vegetarian, actually.

This is my all-time favorite soup.

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Okay, the picture below looks like a whopping amount of ingredients. Bear with me for a minute. Most of the ingredients are canned; although they don’t have to be, that’s just what I use. You can see I used a mix of name-brand and store-brand ingredients. Honestly, with a tight budget and a family of four I buy whatever is most affordable except for items we just really prefer the taste of the name-brand. Many of the ingredients are also stock items you probably already have in the kitchen. I would guess I make about 10 big bowls-worth of this soup at one time, and it costs about $10 total. So, about $1 per bowl…. and I make really large portions per bowl.

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Gather your ingredients: (full recipe at the bottom of post)

  • 3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tbl diced garlic (I like the jars from Delallo)
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 whole carrots
  • 3 medium-sized zucchinis
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 quart V8 juice (seriously, V8 tastes so much better than the generic or just tomato juice)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional, but I think it makes it extra delicious)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can diced tomato (I like the “fire roasted” ones)
  • 1 tbl fresh herbs (I use a squeeze tube from the produce section of my local Kroger, which is “italian herbs” but you could use fresh oregano, basil, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup seashell pasta (I like the mini-shells from Barilla. They are tasty and adorable at the same time).
  • Toppings: I love saltine crackers and parmesan cheese, but goldfish crackers, a spritz of olive oil, or whatever you like would be great!)

Obviously, many of the above ingredients are optional or could be substituted. It’s soup, ya’ll – that’s how it works. When I first made minestrone  I used Jamie’s Minestrone recipe from Allrecipes. Over time, I altered it to suite my taste and pantry-stocking-abilities and at this point it is at least 60% different. That is true of a lot of things in life, isn’t it? Oh wait, I’m getting all philosophical – let’s get back to to the soup. Don’t mind me.

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Let’s get started! I have no attention-span whatsoever.  I’m not joking. While writing this, it is entirely likely I forgot what I was doing and went to make a sandwich – twice. So, before I start the heat on the stove I go ahead and prep all my vegetables, get a spoonful of diced garlic out, and so on. Then, I don’t have to panic mid-cooking because a Criminal Minds marathon started and I wandered off.

Chop your zucchini and carrots into like-sized cubes. That is super important, so it will all cook evenly. Dice your onion. Slice up that spinach a bit too, while you’re at it. I also remove the stems if it is the kind that has them. If you aren’t using already-diced garlic, go ahead and dice that bad boy.

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In the meantime, heat your olive oil in the bottom of a stock-pot on medium-heat. It needs to be large – this is a ‘lotta soup. I warned you.

When your oil is hot enough, add your garlic and saute until it is very lightly toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute.

Turn the heat up just a touch, and then add your diced onion and saute until it is to your liking. Some people like it almost raw. I call those people crazy. I cook mine until it is nice and caramelized and light brown, about 4 minutes.

Add your carrots and saute for 4-5 minutes until just starting to cook through.

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Add your quart of V8, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain first), and red wine. Bring to a boil, stirring very frequently.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add black beans, kidney beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, and all spices and seasonings. You will notice that the spinach and zucchini float at the top at first. No worries, they will settle down after a couple minutes. It’s just weird physics…. I think.

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If you have never used vegetable buillon cubes and want to, here is how I do it. I buy tiny little cardboard boxes of them in the healthy-food section of the grocery store. Then, I heat up a pyrex full of 2 cups of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. I chop a little cube up into smaller squares and add it to the very hot water, and stir it until it is pretty much dissolved into it. Since this recipe calls for 4 cups, I do this twice.

Let your soup simmer on medium-low for at least 30-40 minutes. Longer is better, honestly. This is a great lazy Sunday meal.

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Meanwhile, boil some water and cook your seashell pasta until al dente. Do not overcook it! Please, I beg you. Nobody likes a mushy seashell.

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If you’re eating it right then and there, go ahead and add a couple spoonfuls of seashell pasta to each bowl. Ladle some soup over the top of each and stir.

I think this is amazing and delicious and a good amount of your daily servings of vegetables. Basically, a triple-threat. I think it is even better after time. With soup, the flavors really meld over time… so leftovers should be stored in the fridge for the next day or…

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FREEZE-AHEAD TIP:  Freeze it in mass quantities  I make this for just myself usually, and eat one bowl right after it cooks. Then, I divide the rest into quart-size freezer bags, adding to each bag about what I would eat for a dinner. Which is an embarrassingly large bowls-worth. This makes 10 total dinners for me, so I freeze 9.

I add all of the pasta to the pot and stir it in well. Then, I leave the bags to cool completely on the counter for about an hour. I then stack them lying flat in the freezer and enjoy 9 delicious dinners later on!

REHEAT FROM FROZEN TIP: Stick a bag in the microwave for 2.5 minutes. Remove the bag and empty it into a bowl. Cover with cling wrap. Microwave again for 2.5 minutes. Lift one edge of the cling wrap and stir. Microwave again for 2.5 minutes or until warm – will depend on your microwave. Add your fav toppings and enjoy! Warning, the bowl will be hot.

Painting Sunny Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbl diced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 whole carrots
  • 3 medium-sized zucchinis
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 quart V8 juice
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can diced tomato
  • 1 tbl fresh herbs
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup seashell pasta

Chop your zucchini and carrots into like-sized cubes. Dice your onion. Slice up that spinach and remove stems. Dice garlic if it is not pre-diced.

In the meantime, heat your olive oil in the bottom of a stock-pot on medium-heat. When your oil is hot enough, add your garlic and saute until it is very lightly toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Turn the heat up just a touch, add your diced onion and saute  about 4 minutes. Add your carrots and saute for 4-5 minutes until just starting to cook through.

Add your quart of V8, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain first), and red wine. Bring to a boil, stirring very frequently. Reduce the heat to low and add black beans, kidney beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, and all spices and seasonings.

Let your soup simmer on medium-low for at least 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, boil some water and cook your seashell pasta until al dente. Add a couple spoonfuls of seashell pasta to each bowl. Ladle some soup over the top of each. Add toppings as desired (crackers, Parmesan, etc.)

Can be frozen ahead in quart-sized freezer bags and re-heated in the microwave; follow instructions included with recipe on Painting Sunny.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Get Your Fit On: 25 Workout Jams

The right beats are crucial. At least to me, when I’m working out. Most of the time I’m multitasking it mama-of-two style at the gym (aka elliptical machining, People magazine reading, hip hop playlisting, CNN subtitle reading). I also like to get out for a nice 5k outside run. Okay, 5k jog. Okay, 5k wog. Wog is a cross between walk and jog and is totally legit. I also believe that cleaning the ceiling fans is considered a hard workout.

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It can be hard to come up with new workout songs, so I thought I’d throw a few suggestions out there. I may actually have quirky tastes in music, so obviously this list isn’t for everyone. I’m accused of being “quirky” a lot actually. Still, I hope this at least serves as inspiration for those thirsty to change it up a bit on their runs.

Tips for choosing songs and creating playlists:

  • The right BPMs (beats per minute) for the activity you want to do can be really different depending on if you are running, stretching, weight-lifting , etc.
  • Think content: emotional songs might distract you, songs with powerful lyrics could pump you up, and songs with really explicit lyrics might be a bad choice for group exercises.
  • Remember, have no shame. This is about maximizing your exercise. If Bieber is what gets your going, go with it… just maybe don’t brag about it to teenagers.
  • Rotate the songs out on your playlist so you don’t get sick of them, or have separate playlists for different activities or just to change things up.
  • Find that song that makes you just want to kick $%& and get it. Play it over and over during a run if you have to, or save it as your “Power Song” and play it right when you need a kick-start. Some apps have that built in as a feature.
  • If you have a smart phone, find a good app that works for you. I use Nike+ Running on my iPhone, and love it. There are a bunch out there!
  • Don’t just think current hits; look back at your fav songs from your Napster dowload and Sony Walkman days… you may find some killer jams you forgot about.

Okay, let’s get down to it. Drum roll please… my current workout playlist!

  1. Whatever You Like by T.I.*
  2. Super Bass by Nicki Minaj*
  3. Thift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  4. Womanizer by Brittany Spears
  5. Whistle by Flo Rida
  6. Want U Back by Cher Lloyd
  7. Toxic by Brittany Spears
  8. Too Little, Too Late by JoJo
  9. Leave (Get Out) by JoJo
  10. Telephone by Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce
  11. Paper Planes by M.I.A.
  12. Ready or Not by Bridgit Mendler
  13. Not Myself Tonight by Christina Aguilera
  14. No One by Alicia Keys
  15. Maneater by Nelly Furtado
  16. Lights by Ellie Goulding
  17. I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift
  18. Dirrty by Christina Aguilera (feat. Redman)
  19. Creep by TLC
  20. Boom Boom Pow by The Black Eyed Peas
  21. Blow Me (One Last Kiss) by Pink
  22. Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera
  23. Toxic by Brittany Spears
  24. Circus by Brittany Spears
  25. TiK ToK by Ke$sha

* Note: for Whatever You Like by T.I. and Super Bass by Nicki Minaj, I used to have the explicit lyric versions but changed over to the edited… which is saying something, for me. I’m normally inexplicably drawn to the filthy versions, but for these songs it just got distracting. I just can’t handle the N word on my playlist. Others also have explicit versions, but I’m apparently cool with those.

Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is my newest obsession, and Paperplanes by M.I.A. is the best to run to. It’s beat just can’t be… well, beat.

Can we all pretend I did not have so much Brittany on my playlist? Or maybe the Ke$ha? Seriously, I have no shame.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Book Review: The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls | By Painting Sunny

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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A memoir of a childhood, Jeannette Walls recalls her life growing up and her transition into adulthood with a style that is clear, honest, and level-headed. The story of a family living in poverty; nomadic, complicated, and forever tied to each other.  What the Walls were lacking in stability and geographic roots, the children sought to make up for perseverance and loyalty.

Following the Walls children through each unsteady and abruptly shifting chapter of their lives, there are several lessons embedded. It is remarkable how resilient children can be, in their ability to adjust to hardships and care for each other wholly and absolutely. The Walls siblings survive. They each show unwavering loyalty to each other, while tenacious and self-aware. Each has gifts they were born with, and some of which appear to be the only true things their parents ever gave them. Jeannette has an unstoppable work-ethic, Lori is intelligent and creative, Brian has a friendly disposition and is level-headed. The family must rely on their wits and their initiative. Each sibling empowers and protects the others through each hardship.

Rex Wall’s glass castle was a dream, and a hope for a better life. Despite an often tenuous relationship with his wife and children, they showed kindness in pretending and supporting him; past the point of realization it was far-fetched and a deception that allowed him to excuse his lifestyle. Sometimes the hope of a better life is all you have, and the importance of maintaining the illusion is essential.

Jeannette Walls details the beauty she finds in the physical settings and in the occasional truly kind person in her life, even while calmly laying out the straightforward facts of the destitution that surrounded her.

Each Walls family member seems to find their place in the world. The key is, not everyone wants the same place. Some are seeking happiness; others are searching  for escape, freedom, a connection with another person, or a sense of stability.

The question I’m left with is: whatever happened to Maureen?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.