Moving On Up

Less than a week ago, my husband and I were notified that we had been placed in Southern California for his rotations and last two years of medical school! We were very excited as this was our first choice of placement! However, we knew it would be a quick turnaround to get right to work to find a place to live in a very short amount of time. Yesterday, we went to look for our new home- our first time getting to actually pick an apartment since we have been married! We are definitely rookies as we didn’t know ALL the questions to ask and EVERYTHING to look for in each apartment; however, we think we still were able to find what we were looking for! Moving can be stressful, but it really helps to do research before on the area you are moving to! Contact friends or friends of friends who live or have lived in the area, and think about what you are wanting in your new home so that when it comes down to decision time you know what you are willing to potentially sacrifice and what aspects you will not budge on!

Here are some great questions and checklists to consider when renting a new home…

1. This checklist from LifeHacker.com is a great way to remember to ask the important questions and have a clear way to record the answers. The article states…

“The checklist form is in PDF format and you can download it via the link below. Just print it out and take it with you when you’re at an apartment showing, and fill out the two pages with the answers you receive. This will provide a nice refresher when you’re going back and trying to choose the right apartment. You may also want to bring your camera along so you can take a few photos, print them out, and attach them to this checklist form for additional context.” (Click on the link below to download and print the checklist)

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2. Here is a list of 100+ questions from Degraeve.com. The creator of this list has moved numerous times in a variety of sizes of homes, areas, and types of homes. Throughout the years, he developed this list to help others know what is important to ask and look for when searching for your new home.

100+ Questions to Ask Before Renting an Apartment

3. Lastly, here is a list of 10 Things to Do Before Signing a Lease from Rent.com. Not only does this list include important questions to ask and what to look for, but also includes why it is important to develop a good relationship with the prospective landlord and the mindset you should have when doing your first look through at each apartment. Check out the lists below…

10 Things You Should Do Before Signing a Lease – Part I

10 Things You Should Do Before Signing a Lease – Part II

Apartment or House Hunting can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! I think these lists can really help in making your search much more enjoyable and allow you to feel very prepared when looking at each new place! You may not be moving right now, but these lists are great to tuck away if that day ever comes to MOVE on up! :)

 

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Satisfied

What does is mean to be truly satisfied? The definition of the word satisfy used as a verb is to fulfill the desires, expectations, needs or demands of a person or to put an end to a desire, want or need by sufficient provision. Some of the synonyms for the word satisfy are gratify, pacify, appease and please.

How are we satisfied? What brings satisfaction…..? For some people it might be when their relationships with family and friends are going well and they do not have conflict. For others it may be when their “To Do” list is completed.  Still others to be “satisfied” may be when they feel they are making a contribution to society. Satisfaction comes when our hopes or our expectations are met by people, or circumstances that we can control or events that occur in our lives that we have no control over. Often times we think of satisfaction only in terms of the fulfillment of our material wants and needs. In our culture of consumerism and materialism we get off track easily. Every where we turn there is an opportunity to to be discontent because the goal of media marketing is to makes us believe there is “more and better” of everything we could possibly need or want.

A few months ago, my husband and I read a book with a few friends called “Satisfied-Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption” written by Jeff Manion.IMG_3014

There was a workbook that went along with this book that had some challenging tasks for us to do, to help us begin a journey towards contentment and generosity.  One week we had to count all the shirts and shoes in our closet. One week we were asked to write all the blessings we could think of that we have in our life. One week we had to go on a spending fast and were only allowed to buy food and medications. My favorite was the week we were asked to serve someone or volunteer to help someone-cleaning, moving, cooking-whatever they needed. All of these exercises helped us identify our attitudes and beliefs about contentment and being satisfied, because we were forced to actually take an honest look at our practices and behaviors.

During the week we had to count our clothes, I was relieved to be in the middle of a total house purge and garage sale preparations. I was inspired to let go of more clothes than I might have if we were not studying how at times contentment is a result of living with less. The week we had to write down our blessings was easy for me. I have so many things to be thankful for. If I were to measure my wealth in terms of relationships, I am the richest woman ever.IMG_2797 IMG_2896 IMG_2977 I love my family and friends and am always so grateful for any opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. I thought the task of NOT spending money on anything but food and medicine for a week would be the hardest, (especially since we had to do it for two weeks) but it was actually very freeing. I wasn’t really tempted to buy anything and every excuse I usually use to justify buying things I do not need did not seem convincing enough to make me break my spending fast. My favorite task was to serve someone because it gave me a fresh perspective on how satisfying it is to put your own needs aside and serve another person, just for the sake of serving. I realized how important it is to look at life from another person’s perspective who had a need that I could fulfill. I was able to bring satisfaction and have a generous heart toward her.

One of the most important things I learned was that by examining what I value, I can practice a habit of trusting God to provide all that I need for true contentment and to live a satisfied life.

Psalms 107:9 says “For God satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” and in Philippians 4:11 the apostle Paul says “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Are you satisfied?

Kerry Signature48

 

Trash or Treasure?

I know that it is important to not hold too tightly to our earthly possessions. It can be both healing and helpful to de-clutter and organize our homes, but I wanted to share that there is value in saving a few special items.

My mom is one of those people that likes to keep things. This means that we got to be the fun house with loads of dress up clothes perfect for theme parties and high school dances. I have so many wonderful memories of rifling through our dress up trunks. Over the past 2.5 years that I’ve been a mom, she has been able to give me a few items of clothing from my and my sisters’ childhood. It has been really special to dress Ellie and Hanna in clothes that we used to wear.

A few weeks ago she brought some new treasures to share. Among the bounty was a pair of 1980s jazz outfits that Jess and I wore for a recital when we danced. The girls were so excited when I presented them with the new dress up outfits. We proceeded to have an epic dance party with lots of fun posing for pictures.

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I hope this post will encourage those of you that have a few things you want to hold on to. It might seem like trash or clutter, but one day it could be someone’s treasure!!

Rach Signature48

Bridal Shower Gift Ideas

There are so many ideas for bridal shower gifts.  You can do honeymoon theme, travel theme, date theme, kitchen theme, cooking theme, marriage wisdom theme, lingerie theme, and on and on and on… But a couple of the most creative gifts I received at showers I have tried to put my own twist on and pass along to other people. Here are some of the most recent gifts I passed along.

Frame and dry erase marker: Then you get to fill in the blanks!!!
“I love you because” frame

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“We go together like” frame

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Date Night question jar: Fill and decorate a jar with questions for the couple to ask 

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Mr. and Mrs. Mug with Tea in a mason jar. Put chalkboard paint on the top of a mason jar so they can change what they put in the jar and label it with chalk.

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Here are some other ideas that I have seen at showers

  • Letter decor of the couples initials
  • Marriage Books
  • Bible with new married name engraved
  • Apron
  • Mr. and Mrs. Pillowcases
  • Embroidered blanket with wedding date on it
  • Dress hanger with the bride’s new name
  • Movie night package with candy popcorn and gift cards
  • Date night to their favorite restaurant
  • Game night with board games
  • Personalized jewelry

Bethany Signature48

PB Snickers Cookie Ice Cream Pie

At the beginning of our blogging adventure, Kerry/Mom posted how delicious Ice Cream Pie is and how great it is for any type of celebration! My husband finished his first set of medical national boards (Aka USMLE Step 1) and I planned a surprise party with family and friends to celebrate this big accomplishment! And, I decided what better way to celebrate than with an Ice Cream Pie- A Peanut Butter Snickers Cookie Ice Cream Pie! Mmmm :)

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                    What You Need for This Pie:

Large Springform Pan

Package of Oreo Cookies – Regular, Not Double Stuf

Ice Cream: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Cookies & Cream

Bag of Mini Snickers

Peanut Butter (Any kind will do, but I used Kirkland Natural PB)

1 Small Ziploc Bag (May need more if not using food processor)

Food Processor (optional)

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The How To:

1. Take the ice cream out so that it is slightly melted once ready to be added to the pie. Use a food processor to crush about 20 Oreos. If you do not have a food processor, put 20 Oreos into a large ziploc bag and crush by hand into as small of pieces as possible. Dump the pieces into the springform pan and flatten the layer to create the crust. You can take a plastic or not sharp knife to the sides of the bag to scrape off what gets stuck and add to the bottom layer.

 

 

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2. Use a flat ice cream scoop or 2 spoons to make horizontal slices in the ice cream. Start with Chocolate and place the slices on top of the Oreos. Do this until the Oreos are covered. Smooth the Chocolate layer out to create a flat layer. DSC_6119

3. Put 1/3 of a cup of peanut butter into a ziplock bag. Snip off one corner of the bag and squeeze the peanut butter out in a zig zag motion on top of the chocolate layer. You do not need to use all of it, as you will need more peanut butter for the top. If you love peanut butter and you wanted to use the whole 1/3 cup at this point, just add more peanut butter to the bag for the top.DSC_6121 DSC_6126

4. Follow Step 2 using the Cookies & Cream ice cream.DSC_6130

5. Cut the mini Snickers in quarters and place them on the Cookies & Cream layer. Follow Step 2 with the Vanilla ice cream to cover the Snickers pieces.

6. After you smooth out the Vanilla layer, use the rest of the peanut butter on top of the Vanilla ice cream using the same method as before. Take 4 Oreos and put one at the top, bottom and each side. Take 6-8 mini Snickers and place them in between the Oreos.  In a new Ziploc bag, put 3-4 Oreos and mini Snickers and smash by hand. Sprinkle in the middle on top of the peanut butter. And…your creation is finished!DSC_6133

What kind of ice cream would you HAVE to use in an ice cream pie??

Bekah Signature48

 

Family MealtimeTable Manners

Summertime brings opportunities for extended leisurely dinners, outdoor barbecues, picnics at the park and more casual family supper time fun. Incorporating a time to practice mealtime manners can be a natural part of your family’s summer routine! My husband and I are spending the week helping our daughter, Jess, take care of her four children while their daddy is out of town. We had a barbecue the first night and the children were excited to tell us all they had been learning about mealtime manners. Their mommy had received a gift from a friend that is a cool placemat with a “roadmap to manners” design on it. imageWe talked about chewing with your mouth closed and no elbows on the table, not talking with your mouthful and making sure to thank the cook for dinner. My favorite was taking turns asking about each other’s day. It was wonderful to watch the interaction of the 5 year old and his two almost 3 year old siblings having a fun competition trying to remember all their manners they were learning.image
For more information about the placemat or other ideas for mealtime manners, go to www.mothersfriendSOS.com and have a fun summer practicing mealtime manners!
How has your family practiced mealtime manners?
Kerry Signature48

Mexican Summer Salad

When the summer days warm up, a great option for an easy dinner is this delicious and nutritious Mexican Summer Salad.

Ingredients

1 (15 oz) can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ red pepper diced
½ cucumber diced
2 cloves garlic minced
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Optional: 1 tomato chopped and 1 avocado cut into small pieces

Drain cans of beans and corn and add all the remaining ingredients. Stir and chill at least an hour or until ready to serve. You can serve this as a side dish with quesadillas or barbecued meat. We cooked up some seasoned ground meat and had a build your own Mexican dinner salad picnic with lettuce, meat, salsa and chips.
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Rach Signature48

How to Cut a Watermelon

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There are numerous ways to cut a watermelon. But after buying an enormous amount of watermelon the past few years (it has become a new obsession) I have found a way to slice pieces effectively and efficiently. So I wanted to pass on this new wisdom.

First, a few tips on picking a watermelon. You want to find one that looks fairly symmetrical with one yellow spot. When you pick the watermelon up, it should feel heavy. If you knock on it, it should make a hollow sound. Depending on when you are going to eat the watermelon, look to see if there are some brown markings on the outside. If there are brown scratch like marks, that means the sugar is set and it is ready to eat. If you want to wait for a few days, try to find one without scratches.

Now, to cut the watermelon.

1. Cut the watermelon in half.

photo 22. Depending on how much of the watermelon you want to cut, you can cut one half and saran wrap the other. Stick the saran wrapped half in the refrigerator.

 

 

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3. Cut the half into thirds. You can see the lines on the watermelon where it is best to cut.
photo 44. If you want to cut slices, take the third and cut it in half, then cut into slices pieces with rind. 
photo 55. If you want to cut it into small pieces without the rind, take each third and cut separately. Cut along the rind as you see in the picture below.

photo 16. Turn it to the side, cut at the bottom of the fruit on each side.

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7. Then  cut along the third as show below. photo 3

8. Cut the opposite direction.

photo 49. Then slice through the middle of the cuts to make smaller pieces.photo 510. The pieces should fall out easily.photo 111. If there are any stuck to the rind in the middle, just cut at the bottom of the fruit and they should come off easily.

photo 212. Enjoy the watermelon!

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How do you cut a watermelon?

Bethany Signature48

Courage

I just finished reading the book Divergent. If you haven’t read it or finished it yet, don’t worry, this post does not have any spoilers. But, I will tell you that one of the main themes in this story is COURAGE to overcome fears. There are many life situations that call for courage: Standing up for what you believe in, Standing up for a friend, Taking Risks, Doing something out of your comfort zone, Moving to an unknown area or country, and the list goes on. When I need to face a challenge and choose to be brave or be deterred by the anxiety caused by a potential uncomfortable situation, my best encouragement comes from the Bible. There are plenty of verses that talk about courage, but here are a few of my favorites…

“Be strong and courageous. Do no be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:10, 13

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 

Find courage in these TRUTHS!

Where do you turn when you need courage?

Bekah Signature48

Olallieberry and Blueberry Cobbler

For a delicious and nutritious summer dessert try making an olalliebery/blueberry cobbler. We had a wonderful afternoon barbecue with friends to celebrate the 4th of July. I enjoyed the time of fellowship while reconnecting with friends, the beautiful weather and some competitive corn hole games. We ate delicious bbq turkey burgers, bison burgers, chicken, orzo salad, a green salad with watermelon and feta cheese and I made this cobbler recipe for our dessert. It was a hit. I combined two different recipes to come up with this tasty treat. I baked it in a 9 x 13  pan and when it was cool, I decorated it like an American flag with blueberries for the stars and sliced strawberries for the stripes. IMG_2619
Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

Fruit filling
8 cups olallieberries fresh or frozen (mine were fresh picked out in Brentwood and then frozen)
2 cups Maine blueberries (I used frozen)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ cup butter (¼ of a cube) cut into small pieces

Topping
2 cups oats
1 cup flour
½ cup wheat germ
¾ cups brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter
½ cup coconut oil

In a large bowl, combine the thawed berries with ¼ cup each brown sugar and white sugar. Add the 3 Tablespoons flour, fresh lemon juice and nutmeg. stir gently until combined. Pour into a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with coconut oil spray or Pam. IMG_2604Place into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile combine the first 6 topping ingredients. Cut the stick of cold butter into the dry mixture with a pastry blade and when the butter is pea sized, add the coconut oil and mix until crumbly. Remove berry mixture from oven and sprinkle topping on top. Place back into 350 degree oven and cook for an additional 30 minutes until berries are bubbling a bit on the sides. Watch carefully to make sure the topping does not brown too quickly and if it starts to get too brown cover lightly with foil until berries are bubbly.IMG_2613Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. ENJOY!!!

What is your favorite summer fruit cobbler?

Kerry Signature48