Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 229 - March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 228 - March 30, 2010

Guess what just arrived?

A beautiful set of pillows that I was fortunate enough to win a couple of weeks ago. They are just the touch we needed to give our space a little more personality and add new life to our couch!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 227 - March 29, 2010

Normally, we spend our Sunday evenings on the couch, with a bowl of ice cream, watching "The Amazing Race." But last night, we had our first, and likely only, VIP experience at the Staples Center. Some friends of ours had found an amazing deal on VIP tickets (worth $100!) and invited us out to a Clippers game. We jumped at the opportunity to live like stars for the night.

We had our own separate entrance, velvet curtains that lead to our premier seating, and an in-seat food and beverage service! What an experience!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 226 - March 28, 2010

John 20:29

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not
seen and yet have believed."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 225 - March 27, 2010

For the last two weeks or so, we've been experiencing a major heat wave in Southern California or maybe this is what it's always like in March in the valley. Either way, it's HOT!! It seems ridiculous to be turning on the air conditioner in March so we're finding other ways to stay cool.

Today, we cooled off with a treat I've been itching to make since I first saw it here last July. Homemade Strawberry Sorbet!! Doesn't that just sound delicious?! And I made it without an ice cream maker! Yes, it can be done. It may take a while longer but it's so worth it! Absolutely scrumptious!!

Strawberry Sorbet


Ingredients
  • 1 quart chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup

First, mix the water and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.


Once boiling, reduce heat and allow the sugar to dissolve completely.


Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for a bit.

Chop up the strawberries, just to make it easier on your food processor or blender.


Zest 2 tsp of fresh lime peel. Squeeze the lime to get 2 Tbsp juice.


Puree the strawberries, lime juice, and lime zest in your food processor or blender. (I left a few small chunks of strawberries because I like it that way!)



Combine the sugar mixture, strawberry puree, corn syrup, and salt.


If you have an ice cream maker, pour the completed mixture into the maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

To freeze the sorbet without an ice cream maker, pour the strawberry mixture into a shallow plastic container or glass dish.


Place dish in the freezer. Wait 20 minutes or until the base and sides begin to freeze. Then take a fork and scrape/mix up the frozen bits. Return the container to the freezer for another 20 minutes and repeat until sorbet reaches the desired consistency. (I left it for about 3 hours before serving.) Enjoy right away or place in another container with a lid and keep in the freezer until ready to consume.


Enjoy!!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 224 - March 26, 2010

It's been one of those days. A to-do list I thought would take 20 minutes lead to a 2-hour wild goose chase around a really seedy part of town. My fairly stress-free life quickly became increasingly frustrating, utterly confusing, and completely stressful! And when I'm feeling that way, I need a phone call home and a trip to Target to get me out of my funk. Guess what I found to cheer me up? Delicious and crispy lightly battered and seasoned sweet potato fries on for half price (yipee!) and an adorable little grow-your-own-basil kit from the Target dollar spot! How cute is this to kick off spring?


My mouth is watering thinking about the homemade pesto and spaghetti sauces I will make with my fresh basil. Oh how I've longed for my own herb garden. Just ask my husband, he's been listening to me talk about my plans for an herb garden for the last year. I'm just hoping my Oma's gardening skills have been passed down to me. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 223 - March 25, 2010

Sumdex Xposure II DSLR Camera Sling Review

As I alluded to in Tuesday’s post, late last week, Mr. UPS brought me something fabulous; thanks to the wonderful people at CSN Stores!

With 2 DSLR cameras, 3 professional lenses, and several other camera accessories, we needed a camera bag that would not only house our equipment but also be small enough to take with us to Disneyland and on other great adventures. We have a huge camera bag (I’m talking at least half the size of me, no joke), which we actually left back home in Canada because, well, it’s big, it’s bulky, and while it houses all of our equipment, it’s completely impractical to take anywhere. So, we’ve been in the market for a new and completely practical camera bag since January. I was thrilled when I saw the Sumdex Xposure II DSLR Camera Sling while browsing the CSN Store website a few weeks back. Here he is!

Welcome home, friend!


Since our friend was new to the area, we decided to take him hiking up in Griffith Park to see what all visitors want to see, The Hollywood Sign, and also to see whether or not he’d charm his way into our hearts by the time we reached the top of the mountain.


Just how much can this little beauty hold? Well, I was able to fit a DSLR camera with the lens attached, a flash, 2 battery chargers, a card reader, an extra lens, a flash diffuser, as well as extra batteries and camera cards. The removable Velcro dividers made it easy to adjust the compartments to fit nearly every piece of equipment we owned. At one point, we even had both of our cameras with lenses in the bag.

The bag is well padded and very comfortable to wear. No cameras or lenses digging into your back with this bag. And the sling is easily adjustable to fit all sizes.

But the thing I loved most of all was the easy access to the camera. Having the opening on the side of the bag is brilliant! I could easily take the camera in and out of the bag without having to ask my hubby to remove it from his back each time the way we had to with our old bag. And I never had to worry about any of the other equipment falling out when I did so. Honestly, why didn’t someone think of that before?

The only thing I think this bag lacked was a water bottle holder. I wish they had added a little mesh pocket on the one side to hold a bottle of water. The bag is constructed of water repellent polyester so I wouldn’t be worried about ruining the equipment inside. This would have been so handy on our hike and would be perfect for day trips to amusement parks or even on location at an all day wedding shoot where you don’t have the time to run and grab a drink.

We are thrilled with our new friend and look forward to a lifetime of happiness together!


To learn more about the Xposure II DSLR Camera Sling or to purchase one for yourself, visit: http://www.csnstores.com/Sumdex-POC-484BK-WZ1380.html


Disclosure: The Xposure II DSLR Camera Sling was provided to me at no cost, for review purposes, thanks to CSN Stores. All experiences and opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own and have not been influenced in any other way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 222 - March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 221 - March 23, 2010

I’ve recently made a new friend. He’s the kind of guy who brings you gifts every time he visits. The type of man that notices when you’ve gotten a bit of sun and compliments your newly bronzed complexion. (Is that weird?) He wears the same brown suit each day, is always smiling, and never forgets to ask you how you’re doing. He’s a good friend and I anxiously await each visit. The strange thing about our relationship is that his visits are quite brief and while he always greets me by name, he has yet to tell me his name. So I just call him Mr. UPS.

Today, Mr. UPS came, as always, bearing gifts. After our brief chat, I tore open the package and found this (thanks to a great giveaway from a fellow blogger).


At about the time I started writing this blog, I remember looking at my arms in the mirror and noticing definition and tone that hadn’t been there two months earlier. Where had these sculpted biceps (hahaha) come from? The answer was simple. I had just returned from 6-weeks of heavy lifting. No, I hadn’t been to the gym even once during that time. I had spent those weeks with some of my very favorite people. That’s right, all the credit for my fabulous arms had to go to my sweet (not so) little nephews! But now that I am sadly nephewless, I guess I need to resort to this book. Wish me luck!

Oh, and stay tuned later this week to find out what Mr. UPS brought me that had both my cameras and me in love!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 220 - March 22, 2010

There are some days that adventure just seems to find you and other days that you must grasp life in your hands like a treasure map and seek out adventure! Yesterday was one of those days.

Greg and I got in the car after church and thought, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than taking a leisurely 2,707-mile drive to Scranton, Pennsylvania; home to the hit NBC show The Office. If you don’t know what The Office is or haven’t watched a single episode, stop reading immediately and go rent Seasons 1 through 5. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you’ll probably find your life is more fulfilled by the time you catch up to Season 6.

So anyway, back to business. We decided to drive to Scranton and visit the old Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. We started the 43-hour drive…just kidding! As it turns out, Scranton is only 5 minutes from church! Who knew!?! Check it out!

Do you recognize Dwight Schrute's car?

Look closely.

As we were about to leave, a car full of Office fans pulled up beside us and told us Ellie Kemper, who plays Erin, the new receptionist, just got out a taxi down the street. We sort of went into crazy stalker fan mode and may or may not have followed he car down the street. Did I just say that? Honestly, I’m not crazy.

I didn’t have my paparazzi-style zoom lens with me so you'll have to excuse the majorly zoomed and blurry image.

Greg and I often look at each other and think, oh the stories we’ll be able to tell our children some day about our adventures in L.A. How ordinary our lives were before we moved to the City of Angels!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 219 - March 21, 2010

Psalm 104: 33-34

"I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 218 - March 20, 2010

SPRING

HAS

SPRUNG!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 217 - March 19, 2010

Can you believe that I've been doing this blog for 217 days straight and I almost forgot to post today? My mind is already on weekend mode.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 216 - March 18, 2010

Earlier this week, we learned that a leading animation and visual effects company in Toronto was shut down. Over 150 people were let go and are now struggling to find work.

Two and a half years ago, my husband was offered a job at this company. Had he taken it, we would likely still be in Toronto and a job at Disney Animation would have been just another dream. He would be unemployed and we would be scrambling to make ends meet.

It would have been very easy for Greg to have taken the first job offer he received out of school, but God had other plans for us. We now see what a true blessing it was to have taken a different path. The path wasn’t always easy. We had just gotten married and started our lives together when we made the decision to move over 4,000 km away from all of our family and friends. It was definitely lonely at times. And on top of that, we rented our home out to nightmare tenants who ended up running a cross-border mail scam out of our house and fleeing, putting us out thousands of dollars.

There were many times last year, when we questioned our decisions and thought about how much easier things would have been if we had just stayed put in Toronto. But now we see God’s plan being revealed and are thankful we trusted in God to lead our lives.

While many in Toronto lined up for job interviews this week, Greg lined up to meet the art directors and animation supervisors of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.

We are praying for those who have lost their jobs and although it may not always seem like it, we know that God's timing is perfect.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 215 - March 17, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday...


Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 214 - March 16, 2010


I expect to be woken up by the alarm clock just before 8am. I expect to hear birds chirping in the tree outside our bedroom window. I expect to see sunshine pour into the room, but what I never expected was to be woken up by the rumblings of a 4.4 magnitude earthquake at 4:04 this morning.

I've experienced over half a dozen earthquakes in the last year. It's sort of expected when you live in L.A. But this was the first time it happened in the middle of the night which made it even more frightening. I was completely disoriented and when I opened my eyes to see the room shaking, I froze. Normally, I'll run to the nearest doorway and stand there praying the ceiling won't collapse on top of me, but my reaction time is not quite as quick at 4am.

As I lay in bed, I thought of the recent earthquakes that have made headlines around the world. All I could do was thank God for His protection over us.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." - Psalm 46:1-3

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 213 - March 15, 2010

Some people dread grocery shopping, but I take after my mother....I love it! I love looking through the grocery flyers in search of the best deal, making a list, gathering up my coupons, and heading out to the nearest store. I love that the grocery stores here have disinfecting wipes for shoppers to clean the shopping cart handles. So great! I love the smell of fresh baked bread that greets me when I walk through the sliding glass doors. I love the friendly cashiers that always ask me what's for dinner and where they can find the recipe (seriously, it happens every time I go to Ralph's)!

But one of the things I love most is the reduced rack at the back of the store. Yes, I'm my mother's daughter. You never know what you'll find. Sure, the baked goods may expire in the next day or two, but we all know they don't last longer than that when you get them home. In the past few months, I've scored a freshly baked red velvet cake for $2.00 (and the expiry date was days away), large loaves of garlic bread for $0.50-$1.00, bags of decadent Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips for less than $1.00, a baked pumpkin pie for $2.00, and fresh multi-grain breads for about $1.25.

On Friday, my hubby and I walked to the grocery store to pick up some ice cream for our Lost marathon (we're on Season 6 now, by the way). I went straight for the reduced rack and what did I find, but an adorable pair of chocolate brown and pink polka dotted pj's for only $3.99!!


I love a polka dotted print more than any print in the world!! How pajamas found there way into this grocery store's discounted section, I have no clue, but I'm sure happy they did. They are much thicker and a much better quality fabric than any of my $15+ La Senza pj bottoms. I could live in these things...and I just might!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 212 - March 14, 2010

Psalm 26:2-3

"Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 211 - March 13, 2010

I have quite a lengthy list of Rachael Ray recipes bookmarked on my computer and for the most part, I have been very pleased with the recipes I've attempted. So when I looked through the fridge, the other night, and found 2 heads of broccoli and a tray of mushrooms, I immediately went here and found this recipe for Chicken Divan & Egg Noodle Bake. Sounds delicious doesn't it? Well, it was! It's nothing fancy or out of the ordinary; just good home cookin'! Enjoy!

Chicken Divan & Egg Noodle Bake


Ingredients

For the cream of mushroom sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus additional to coat dish
  • 12 button mushrooms, brushed off with a damp towel and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk or cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated or ground
  • Salt and pepper

Casserole

  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 pound extra wide egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound chicken tenders or chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, about 4 sprigs, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, eyeball it or chicken stock
  • 3/4 pound Gruyere or Swiss Emmentaler cheese, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons chives, 12 to 15 blades, chopped

Preparation

Begin by chopping mushrooms, broccoli, and chicken into bit-sized pieces.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the broccoli and egg noodles. Preheat a broiler.



To make the mushroom sauce, heat a medium-size saucepot over medium heat. Add EVOO and the butter.



When butter melts, add in chopped button mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, until just tender.



Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute.



Whisk in the chicken stock and bring up to a bubble.



Then stir in the whole milk or cream. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer.



Season sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper.



Cook broccoli florets in salted boiling water for 5 minutes.



Then sift out and reserve (don’t drain the water).



Drop the egg noodles into the same boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions.



Drain the noodles and return them to the hot pot. Add the creamy sauce to the pot and toss the noodles to coat in the sauce.



To prepare the casserole, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of EVOO, then the shallots. Cook for 1 minute and add the chicken to the skillet.



Cook until lightly browned all over and firm, 6-7 minutes. Season with the thyme, salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the wine or stock, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the liquid cook off.


To assemble, lightly coat a casserole dish with butter then transfer the cream-of-mushroom noodles to the dish and top with the chicken then the cooked broccoli OR just combine them all like I did and then transfer to the dish.


Finally, top with the shredded cheese. (I used cheddar because it's all I had on hand.)



Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly, and golden brown at the edges.



Garnish with chives (or not) and serve.