Monday, May 27, 2013

happy memorial day

this is my big brother. not sure if you know this, but he is a pretty big deal around these parts. our family is so proud of him and all the sacrifices he has made for our family and our country.

ben has been serving in the military since he shipped out to the naval academy in 1996. he has lived all over the world, but one thing has remained constant-- a love for his family and the need to serve his country. ben is a natural born leader and the navy is lucky to have him.

ben, thank you for your continued dedication to military service. your sacrifices have never gone unnoticed. we love you and wish you the happiest of memorial days.

a very happy memorial day to all those who have served and continue to risk their lives for our country.
thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

ode to my mother

let's face it.... moms need more than one official day in the year to celebrate them in all their glory. being a mom is one of the hardest, most rewarding jobs in the world. 

i personally know some great moms out there-- friends, mother-in-laws, aunts, first time moms, and grandmas alike. no one, and i mean no one takes the cake like my mom. she is quite frankly one of the most amazing women i know.

my mom has taught me a thing or two. she has shown me how to have the confidence to take hardships, road blocks and challenges head on.  she is the poster child for generosity. my mom taught me early on that it is always better to give than take and that hard work and passion will get you far. her creativity is endless...and she never ceases to find new ways to show her love. this is just the beginning, people...

mom, you are the greatest... i am blessed to call you my mother and my friend. thanks for all that you do for us. your generosity and spirit shall never go unnoticed.
love you today and always!

happy mother's day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

vegan african peanut soup

if you can't tell from previous recipe posts, we are quite the spice addicts over here. we like it hot and with a kick... ginger, crushed red pepper, jalapeno, garlic, hot sauce, name it, we use it.  this soup is no exception. the spicy allstar ingredient featured in this recipe is sriracha hot sauce (i know not very african, but delicious all the same). you had me at sriracha.  

this soup is comfort in a bowl. i almost wish the mild weather would stick around so that i might have this on full meal rotation. emphasis on the almost. ok, just kidding. come on in summer, i will make this soup regardless. i just might sweat.. like a whole lot.

it will be worth it.

the combo of ingredients in this soup....the tomato paste, peanut butter and collard greens all might sound a wee bit silly. silly this soup is not. it is soooo incredibly delicious and satisfying. it might not exactly be paleo, but neither am i. hell, who really is. i am a gal who really enjoys the peanut butter and  this dish fulfills my unending pb a healthy way.

make this soup. trust me on this one.
many, many thanks to kate of for her recipe inspiration.

>> vegan african peanut soup <<

6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch collard greens (or kale), ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch strips
3/4 cup unsalted natural peanut butter (we used 1/2 cup natural pb and 1/4 cup almond butter)
1 4oz. can of tomato paste
Hot sauce, like sriracha 
coconut oil (or fat of your choice)


add a tablespoon of coconut oil to a medium dutch oven or stock pot. add the onion and saute over medium high heat until onions begin to brown a bit. add ginger, garlic and salt and saute for another five minutes. add the veggie broth to the pot and bring to a boil. once the broth begins to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 10  minutes.

meanwhile, in a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1cup of the hot stock to the bowl. whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well. stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce and a drizzle of honey to taste. simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.

serves 4 very happy peanut butter loving people.

Monday, May 6, 2013

deck rehab 101

this weekend i got my hands down and dirty in order to get our deck spiffy clean. husband and i are graced with the fortune of having a great little balcony that overlooks our back yard and the park behind our house. (this is destined to be our perma hangout this summer as we welcome the respite of teacher break).

the problem is that the deck previously looked like this....

you could say that this is not quite up to our lounging "standards." this deck has suffered much abuse....water damage, mold, and years of leftover leaves and brush to boot. 

it took a lot of scrubbing....but i managed to get it to look like this.....

so great, right!? here is how i did it...

before starting the process, be sure to sweep the deck clean of any debris or dirt.

first step >>
create the miracle mixture: 1 part bleach, 2 parts hot water and a few good, hardy squeezes of dish soap (keep in mind we used this on an unfinished wood deck...there was  no finish, stain or paint)

second step >>
grab a scrubber and put some muscle into it. plop down the liquid and scrub away...i used two scrubbers. one on a long handle (for the first scrub) and then a hand scrub brush with plastic bristles. i literally got down on my hands and knees and worked up a sweat.

third step >> 
gear up the power washer and spray, spray, spray.

husband and i are so happy with the results... we anticipate giving it another good clean in a years time and finishing it off with a nice stain and protectant.  this year we are happy with just setting up our new patio furniture and making this place our future summer fun no students screw grading what IEPs?, cocktail hour dinner party no work zone.

another before shot....

...and the sweet, sweet final product (for this year)!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

husband tested, wife approved: harry's razors

we got crazy up in here. husband and i are doing a little switcheroo of sorts. he is having a go at this whole blogging thing and i am taking on the whole relaxing thing. let's see where this takes us....

husband here... writing my first blog post for pretty preened. i take this as an honor and privilege to share an amazing find with any and all of the gentlemen out there. ladies, feel free to share this post with the men in your life. better yet, give a shave...and give the gift of harry's. they will love you even more after their first swipe.

as you may have surmised from my last sentence, i am talking about a company that specializes in shaving accessories called harry's. perhaps you hip young cats have heard of a little company called warby parker. well they aren't just helping you to see and look better for poco dinero...they've branched out to whisking away those whiskers as well. jackpot.

as a fella that's always looking to be well groomed at a fair price, harry's is helping me to do just that. while a 12 pack of my gillette fusion cartridges cost about $35...i'm now getting a better blade at $25 for a 16 pack. i'm 5 shaves in and the blade is still going strong. score. one. for. my. pocket. and. face. 

harry's isn't just razors gents. they have stylish handles as well as shave cream. i started with a set called the truman. for a cool 15 washingtons i got a handle, 3 razors and an 8 oz bottle of shave cream. oh did i mention that they also have donate a shave program? not too shabby harry's. not too shabby indeed.

if you want to take a peek or dive right in, check out

husband. out.

p.p.s..this is not a sponsored post.

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