The other day I was looking for a yummy healthy casserole via Pinterest and my search ended up leading me to a Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole that wasn't even on Pinterest! Oh well, at least it sent me in the right direction. I've been wanting to add dishes to our general rotation of meals and a casserole seemed perfect. What's easier than tossing everything in a baking dish and walking away for 30 min. Apparently I picked the wrong casserole when it comes to easy. Not that the broccoli quinoa casserole was so difficult, it was just a lot of work before even getting it into the oven. I had to cook the chicken, quinoa, sauce, and veggies separate then mix it all together. The amount of dishes to wash at the end was outrageous. I guess I should have actually read through the recipe before buying the ingredients!
After all this work, when I pulled it out of the oven it actually looked like the picture I had seen online. This is usually a good sign. Unfortunately it didn't taste as good as it looked. Maybe I messed up on the quinoa, because it completely took over the casserole. Next time, if there is one, I'll definitely cut back on the amount of quinoa I add. And to be honest, the website labelled it as healthy but with the amount of butter & cheese mixed into it, I question that. I of course tried out the new recipe while my husband was away on a business trip, he doesn't like being a guinea pig. This left my 4 yr old to taste test the new dish with me, and she gave it a big thumbs down and even a few tears. When I mentioned leftovers, she suggested just eating her vegetables instead, this says enough, ha-ha!
Any suggestions for a tasty, healthy, & easy casserole?
It's been ages since my last "Movie Time", try 7 months, oops! As I mentioned in my last post, I love a good action romance book or movie, and a month or so ago, I found one! 47 Ronin
In order to appreciate it, you have to enjoy martial art movies. I've been a big fan of this genre since I was a kid watching all of Jean-Claude Van Damme's films! It takes an old story and adds fantasy, and of course Hollywood money & actors. Here's the unusual part, the lead is Keanu Reeves. Stop laughing, he actually did a good job!!! (I know you're all picturing Tom Cruise and The Last Samurai!) The movie has you rooting for his character, Kai, the entire time, even until the bitter end. (Wow, everything I've wanted to write will give away too much.) I feel the movie has something to offer everyone... action, romance, acceptable CGI, interesting characters, great costumes, and of course decent acting. Not wanting to spoil the movie, all I can say is, give it a chance. (And if you want a hint, imagine Jet Li'sThe Forbidden Kingdom mixed with Memoirs of a Geisha.)
Recently I was contacted by Anne, from over at Nearly Irish, wondering if I would be interested in participating in the #mywritingprocess blog tour.
First off, who's Anne? She is an expat like myself, but instead of being an American living in The Netherlands, she's French and living in Ireland. And she does a brilliant job of blogging in English even though it's not her native language (big pat on the back, I wouldn't dare blog in Dutch, ha-ha)! Also like myself, her blog isn't just about being an expat, it's about being integrated into a foreign country due to the extent of time abroad. Be sure to pop over and give her blog a read.
Second, what is the #mywritingprocess blog tour? It's a way for bloggers to explain just how they come up with the great material they pump out on a weekly basis. And it can even go beyond blogging, because I'm sure a lot of bloggers are just writers in general, so there are possible manuscripts, poems, articles, etc. going on in the background. And of course it's a way to spread the word about your blog as well as learning about other interesting blogs.
So here goes, 4 simple questions :
1) What am I working on?
I write nearly every day, sometimes it's blog posts and sometimes it's a story. When it comes to blogging I write about events/topics as they happen or refer to the drafts I generally I keep on the back burner for the weeks when I have little content. When it comes to my stories (manuscripts - yet most of them are short and not finished) I have weeks when I am working on the same one and then times when I skip around between drafts, depends mostly on my creative flow.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The best part of my blog is that you (and I) never know what I'll blog about next. I feel this is what makes my blog different. One day I could be posting about clothing and the next crime. And I also have a love for photography, so I like to incorporate my own photos into the blog. As far as my stories, well, I'm not sure what makes me different because I've never dared try to publish any of my work. All I know is that the stories keep coming to my head and it's been like this my entire life. Somewhere inside I have a natural gift of creating characters and story lines, I now just need to find a way to hone in on that and turn it into something I can share with others. (But to be honest, I'm also happy just writing for myself.)
3) Why do I write what I do?
Blogging helps me get out all of the the nagging thoughts that I want to share with people. Sometimes I want people to understand you can live a normal life abroad, that it's possible to be integrated and a foreigner at the same time. I also blog because I love spreading the word (good or bad), so if there is a product, company, movie, store, etc I (dis)like, I want to let everyone know. I'm always looking for tips, so why not share my knowledge. My stories (books) are different, I tend to write action romance. I'm a sucker for a good romance, but not the boring ones. (Think of Die Hard mixing with The Notebook, ha-ha, I wish!) And in order to keep my creative side interested I hop all over the place time period wise, from medieval times to the future.
4) How does my writing process work?
Unfortunately the process is my downfall. My blog explains it all, random, random, random. I wish I could tell you I sit down and write out a good outline before I get started. If I could just get myself to do this I might actually be a published author by now. Whether it's my blog or my stories, I write what comes to mind at that moment. Sure I make notes here and there, but that's mostly because I don't have the time to write just then or maybe I have a goal and don't want to forget it. (When you write like I do, you get side tracked easily... in general I get side tracked easily, it's a personality thing.) The problem with being creative is you never know when it will hit you; being a stay-at-home mom I don't have the time to write whenever, so generally I stick to mornings when my kid is at school for my blog, and evenings for my stories (keeping in mind my husband also deserves some of my time. Oh yeah, and the dog & house, ha-ha!) The time I allot also varies, blog posts can take 15-30 minutes, and my stories, well, before my daughter came along I was writing roughly 20-40 hrs a week, and now in 30 min spurts here and there!
As mentioned, it's a tour, so of course the torch has to be passed on. I follow lots of different blogs, so I figured I would pick two completely different bloggers to keep this tour alive on July 21st.
- When looking for a fun blog with lots of blog parties, one blogger stuck out, Paula from Sincerely Paula. She maintains a lifestyle blog, but to be honest I love visiting for the blog hops. It's a guaranteed place to meet other bloggers as well as exposing my own material. She's also known for her Pinterest addiction, ha-ha (we've all been there, right?)
- When looking for posts that will get my brain churning, another blogger stood out, Karen from My Own Mind. She often talks about homeschooling and/or being Atheist, and now her blog has shifted a little since her return to The States from Australia. I enjoy the way she can get people riled up and talking, it never hurts to challenge someones point of view and open a discussion.
Please do yourself a favor and check all of the mentioned blogs, and if you're interested in the #mywritingprocess blog tour but haven't been asked to participate, send me an email!
In our house we're always watching great tv shows via You Tube like America's Funniest Videos (funny personal home videos) or Benidorm Bastards (staged pranks by the elderly). We love a good laugh! A while back on Daily Mail (gossip news site) I stumbled upon a great prank, the dinosaur prank. The set-up is a nest of eggs for people to stumble upon while walking in the park, then out of the trees a t-rex comes running out to protect the eggs. To be honest I was surprised at some of the reactions, some people barely flinched! I know myself, there would be a lot of screaming and running. But to me the most surprising reaction was the mother of two. When the dinosaur comes roaring out of the trees, she throws her hands up and starts to run, but hey wait, she forgot the kids??!! If you want a good chuckle, click here.
It's the end of the school year and this means helping the school with odd and end tasks, as well as the usual ones. Since January I have been working in the school library, once a week another mom & I tidy up the shelves of books and return all of the borrowed books to their places. Generally this is about 30 minutes of work, which I don't mind. I like volunteering at the elementary school, I think I would even take a part time job at my kids school if something opened up. Today was the last morning I was to work in the library, and unfortunately the other mother couldn't help out. It would have been nice to volunteer one last time together, oh well. I actually thought there would be less books than usual, but actually it was just the opposite. At least they left me something to remember the school by. (My daughter will be going to a different school after the summer.)
Besides the fixed volunteer work, I have always been available to help out in the class when needed. Cleaning up after sleepovers, checking for lice, helping out with breakfast's, and even going on field trips. And there was one last request, help clean the toys in the class before the summer. I wanted to sign up to help clean the classroom itself, but my husband was away and I didn't want to arrange a babysitter on a school night. So I offered to take double the amount of toys home to clean. I ended up with 2 trash bags full. One full of stuffed animals and the other full of costumes. Glad my husband wasn't home, because it looked like I was running some kind of kids laundry mat for two days!
Now that all of the tasks are completed it's starting to sink in, school is almost over, summer is nearing rapidly, and August is going to bring a lot of new experiences our way. Hopefully I can also get involved at the new school!
Yesterday I turned 33 years old! Like so many birthdays in the past my family was sure to make it a very happy birthday! Even though my side of the family is in The States, they are always sure to call, Skype, send cards, & presents - thanks! The other half of the family I get to see in person, and we have our yearly bbq combined with the city fair, and of course cake & presents - thanks!
This year, like so many, my incredible husband bought me an amazing b-day gift. (Last year he bought me my 1st car here in The Netherlands!) I do have to give my daughter credit for coming up with the idea this year but it was my husband who made it happen. They bought me a brand new bike! See here in NL bikes are very important (wrote about this when my last bike was stolen). Finally I have a bike again, and it's beautiful!!! It's retro style and even has a cute wicker basket. I was sold on it the moment I walked into the shop (great display work on the stores part). And on top of the great present, my husband did me a huge favor and biked it home for me from my in-laws one town over (45 min bike ride), thanks!!!
As always I have to include pics. One is the display at the store Bike Best. And the other is an adorable plaque on the frame of the bike.
Summer dress... party dress... something to wear to a wedding, whatever you want to call it I'm having a little trouble deciding what to wear to an upcoming event.
When purchasing a dress for an acquaintances wedding many requirements arose.
#1) It has to be multi-functional, I can't justify getting a new dress if I'm only going to wear it to weddings. (At my age there aren't so many weddings anymore.)
#2) It has to be able to handle weight loss & gain. (This is unfortunately common for me.)
#3) It has to be fun, I'm not really into formal, chic, or stuffy. (Most people are surprised when they see me in a dress.)
#4) It has to be summery with refreshing colors, patterns, or embroidery. (Here in NL it's only warm enough to wear dresses in the summer anyway.)
Keeping all of this in mind, as well as a budget, I ordered 8 dresses from an online store. The beauty of ordering online - you can try it on in the convenience of your own home and return what you don't want. Generally the "fitting room" sessions are quite upsetting. I went through this in the weekend at H&M, I left feeling like an elephant and that styles these days aren't made for my body shape. Depressing!!! But luckily the "fitting room" session in my own bedroom today went much better. Shockingly I liked the majority of the dresses and they liked me. I actually had to choose between what I wanted to keep and/or found most relevant for the event. (This never happens!)
So, now I've narrowed it down to two dresses, and just have to decide which one to wear. The old tradition says never to wear white to a wedding, but come on, it's 2014, and I'm sure that tradition is long gone. But I also have to keep in mind I'm in The Netherlands and to be honest I have no idea what their norm is for wedding guest attire. And to be fair, coral is my color, it makes me look tan and cheerful. So most likely I'll go with the coral dress but I thought I'd first ask around for other opinions.
What do you think, which dress is more wedding guest appropriate?
(Keep in mind the white one is embroidered on the top, it's kind of hard to see. And the stripe near the bottom is see through.)