Wednesday, February 13, 2013

J - O - Y

The season of Lent is fast approaching. Adam is Catholic and I am Methodist and sometimes we go to church together and sometimes we go separately. This past Sunday we decided to go to Mass together and it was a great decision.

The priest who led the service is fairly young and also fairly new to this particular parish. We've heard him several times, but I have to say, this particular Mass was his best yet. For starters, I think he's getting more comfortable with his congregation, but what made the Mass was his explanation of how he chooses what to do for Lent. In both the Methodist and the Catholic church, Lent is a time to give up or take up something, in hopes that you can make it a habit. In the past I've given up soft drinks, biting my nails, chocolate, and things like that. And in some past years, I've taken up working out, running, or something of that nature.

But this year, I think I want to follow this priest's suggestion and use his acronym J - O - Y.

The "J" in the acronym stands for Jesus. During the season of Lent, the priest stated that he always strives to do something that will bring him closer to Jesus. This year for Lent, I've decided that I need to focus on prayer and praying more often. I've found that I tend to pray when I need something, rather than praying simply to say "thank you" for all of my many blessings in life. Adam and I have also decided to start praying together more often. I think this Lenten resolution is one that is sort of two-fold in that it will bring us closer to God and closer to each other...which, in effect, also means we're doing something good for ourselves!

The "O" in this acronym stands for "others". Do something that will benefit others. Adam and I have decided to start volunteering once a month. We're still trying to decide where we'd like to volunteer, but there are a lot of great options in maybe we'll rotate! This is something we would like to start during Lent and aim to continue after Lent. So often I feel like I set Lenten goals and as soon as we get through Easter, I'm back to my old ways. This year, both Adam and I are focusing on making these things habits!

Finally, the "Y". The "Y" stands for "yourself". Do something for yourself during Lent. The priest told us that this could be anything from treating yourself to doing something that will benefit your body, mind and soul. I've decided to try and focus on two things...body and attitude. My first goal is to focus on being more positive in difficult scenarios. It's hard to stay upbeat when you're approached by someone who has had a hard day or is negative for some other reason. I want to work on staying positive in hopes that it will rub off on those around me! The second thing, is working on my body. I've been kind of slack about working out and it's time to get into a routine and get in shape. During Lent (and hopefully after...) I will do something athletic at least five days a week. I'm not putting any stipulations on what athletic means, but rather just encouraging myself to do something (walking, running, a class at the gym...).

While receiving the ashes on my forehead this morning, I realized that I am excited about Lent. I'm hoping that the goals I have are goals that will help me be a better Christian, a better healthier person and that these goals will bring me J - O - Y.

What are you doing for Lent?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Crescent Olive

So I took a couple of weeks off from blogging, but I'm back! After a tough weekend of painting and staining,  Adam and I decided we might need to take a little break from all of the work.

The past weekend, we went truck shopping and shopped on Devine Street (for those of you who are not familiar with Columbia...Devine St. is a great place to shop with lots of cute little boutiques for clothing, gardening, cooking and more). The highlight of our "day of shopping" was visiting The Crescent Olive.

The Crescent Olive is a small shop that sells "premium olive oils and vinegars"  and it is AHHH-mazing. When you walk in, you first see several rows of metal keg-like containers that are filled with olive oils and vinegars. You're given a bowl of bread (tiny little chunks) to use for tasting. They have your standard olive oil, but then they have several rows of flavor infused olive oils. We tasted several (as in we almost finished our entire bowl of bread) and so many of them were wonderful!

We decided to purchase a small bottle of the Tuscan Herb and the Garlic Olive Oils. If you close your eyes when you taste the Tuscan Herb it feels like you are in Italy...and the garlic is just plain fantastic!

We tasted a few white vinegars, but the real treat came when we tasted the Balsamic vinegars...with vanilla ice cream!

Now, before you start thinking..."I don't know about that"...give me a moment to explain. IT WAS AWESOME. I, like you, was skeptical. Adam and I were each handed a small cup of vanilla ice cream and a spoon. They instruct you to take a scoop of your ice cream and then pour a little of the vinegar on top and then take the bite. We started with the black cherry balsamic because its information card said it paired well with the two oils we already knew we HAD to have.

It was like tasting vanilla ice cream with a rich black cherry syrup on top. I am so serious when I say that all I wanted to do was sit and eat my ice cream with that rich, tart black cherry vinegar on top. It was sweet, slightly sour, and absolutely delicious. We tasted several others, but the black cherry won.

In the end, we took home the Tuscan Herb Olive Oil, the Garlic Olive Oil, and the Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar. We highly recommend visiting the Crescent Olive. For more information and to hear about their specials you should check out their Facebook page!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spring Rolls

Super Bowl Sunday was a fun time at our house. We invited several of our friends over to hang out, watch the black out game and eat lots of yummy appetizers!

I decided to try yet another a Pinterest recipe. My Pinterest recipe of choice was a recipe for Baked Spring Rolls from Joyful Abode.

The recipe was very easy and surprisingly good! Here is a little look at the process...

Folding the eggroll wrapper over before rolling.

Tucking in the corners so the filling doesn't escape.

Lining them up on a cookie sheet to go in the oven.

These little spring rolls were very good. I'd like to try them again because they weren't as crispy as I would have liked. Other than that, they tasted great and were eaten up fast! I also mixed together a little dipping sauce with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and a touch of dijon was the perfect dip!

What did you do for the Super Bowl this year?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Breakfast Bar

We had another busy and fun weekend of work on our house. We did manage to cross a few things off our to do list and we've even left a little time to entertain for the Super Bowl! As mentioned in my previous post, one of the projects on our list this weekend was to sand, stain, seal and wax our new breakfast bar (we're still trying to figure out what to call it...).

Before the big, demolition project, there was a wall of cabinets between the dining room and kitchen. We took out the cabinets, top and bottom, and knocked out a large portion of the top half of the wall. Now, in the post about our demolition, I mentioned that we were adding a little breakfast area...and this is it. When we took out the cabinets, we needed extra storage, so we added a pine dresser base and had to lose our island. We used to eat breakfast and sometimes dinner at our island so this was something that we were kind of bummed about giving up. Never fear...we were able to add a little bar on the wall shared by the kitchen and dining room to make a great, casual place to eat.

The Story

There is a story behind the wood we used as the actual bar. When Adam and I got married (almost 3 years ago...can you believe it?) we decided to have our wedding reception at my parents' house.We built a pavilion to use for the band, tables and lots of dancing. Before construction started, a few trees had to come out. My dad had the trees taken out and taken to a saw mill to be turned into lumber that could be used for future projects. The board we used as our bar, is from one of the trees cleared for our wedding! Kind of sentimental!

Here is the process we went through this weekend to get it ready to use!

Step 1: Sand. Always sand, stain, wax, etc. in the direction of the wood grain.

We were able to find a very affordable palm sander at Lowe's that also had a filter to catch the dust. While sanding still produced some dust, clean up was made much easier with this little filter!

We wanted to stain the counter top to match our furniture, which is significantly darker than the beautiful pale pine. We chose an English Chestnut stain by Minwax and applied the stain to the wood using an old t-shirt (cut into small rag-size pieces).

Rubber Gloves are a MUST when staining anything.

Happy Staining!

After staining, you have to wipe down your stained surface with a clean, dry cloth to soak up any extra stain. Once you have done that, you let your stain dry for at least eight hours. After eight hours, you can begin applying your sealant. We chose a water soluble sealant with very little sheen. We didn't want to use polyurethane because we didn't want this surface to be shiny.

Adam applying the first coat of sealant.

With this particular sealant, you have to apply one coat, let it dry for two hours and then sand it. After it has been sanded, you apply your second coat, wait two hours and then apply your third coat. The instructions recommend at least three coats.

Now our breakfast bar is looking very sharp and matches all of the surrounding furniture. The stain really brought out the wood grain pattern. Our bar has beautiful character that was brought to life with just a few simple steps. Later this week, we will wax the bar, just to give it an extra protective coat.

This was a simple project that really made a huge difference! I'll post more once we've waxed the bar!