Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Julie Surprise: Out of the Blue Salad

I will be the first to confess that I'm not naturally a very organized person, I'm the one who is usually a bit late, or who will call you last minute for a baby-sitting gig because I totally spaced something I needed a sitter for until the night before or even the morning of. Yes, I know. I am ashamed. I am getting better about it though, through huge effort and help from my list app, reminders and calender on my smart phone, I have improved slightly.

On the other hand, I can do spontaneous, and I can handle random. I will not have a break down if plans fall through or if something changes. I can handle change. In fact, I've discovered I sort of need things to change up a bit everyone once in a while because too much structure makes me crazy (i.e. grumpy, emotional, intense, high strung, etc.) My husband and I are well matched because we both enjoy making random and spontaneous decisions together.

For example, back in July, on one of the rare Sundays in which we did not have a family party or any other after church obligations, we spontaneously decided to drop in at his parents house to borrow their barbecue grill and their pool for a little family summer fun with our kids. His parents were out of town, but even if they hadn't been, they also have no problem with spontaneous drop-ins.

Anyway, once we got there, my hubby started firing up the grill and he asked me to look around the kitchen to figure out what else we could eat, like some kind of salad to have on the side with our grilled chicken.

(I guess I should clarify that this is also totally cool at my in-laws house. They have a standing policy that if the food is there you can have it. [which idea, honestly, was a little hard for me to get used to when I first got married because in my house you always had to ask about anything you wanted to eat in case Mom was saving it for something.] My mother-in-law sort of has this mentality about it; she feels like if she is generous with what she has, that there will always be enough. In fact, I think she sort of has a contract going on with God where if she shares her abundance that He promises her that her cupboards will always be full. Don't quote me on that, but I'm pretty sure there was something like that in the story my hubby told me.)

Anyway, there I was, in someone else's kitchen, with the task of figuring out what to eat for our spontaneous Sunday picnic. I looked through the fridge, but as my in-laws were out of town, there wasn't much there in way of produce. So I checked the freezer, "Hmm, frozen fruit." and the pantry, "Nothing." and the storage room, "Hmm, canned pineapple."

What I did find in the fridge was part of what got my wheels turning about the possibilities. My mother-in-law had some good sour cream. The kind that has only two ingredients (cream and enzymes) so I was thinking maybe I could use it to make some sort of fruit salad.
Pineapple is awesome with cottage cheese, so it seemed like I could perhaps make it work with the sour cream so I dumped a can of drained pineapple into a bowl and plopped about a half a cup of sour cream on top. Then I added a bit of sea salt and a packet of Truvia because they don't keep coconut sugar in their house (and I can't eat cane sugar).

Mixed that all up and tasted it. Hmm, not too shabby. At the same time I was doing this, I was making a fruit smoothie for us to drink with some of the frozen fruit in the freezer. I thought about adding a variety of fruit to the salad, but honestly, I was thinking something a little simpler sounded good so I decided to only go with frozen blueberries (about 1/2 cup again). Blueberries and pineapple just sounded delicious.

Once I started stirring those in, the color of the salad turned a lovely bluish-lavender color and I figured I was pretty much done. . .

Except . . . there just didn't seem to be much salad for everyone, and while it was good, it seemed like it needed something. A little more contrast of flavor. so I looked in the fruit bowl and found a couple of ripe bananas. I sliced one up and threw it in.

Tada! Out of the blue, we have a salad!

Needless to say, this salad was not only lovely to look at but it was delicious to eat as well. In fact, I had to go back inside halfway through our picnic and make a second batch so everyone could have as much as they wished. So, that being said, I'm going to double the recipe here at the bottom because for a good sized group you'll probably want it at least doubled.

Julie Surprise: Out of the Blue Salad

  • 2 cans chunk pineapple or tidbits would work well too, drained. (I added the juice to our smoothie)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, (you could use fresh, but it might not look as blue in the end.)
  • 2 large bananas sliced.
  • 1 cup clean sour cream.
  • 1 packet of truvia, or non-cane sweetener of your choice (honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar)
  • A dash or two of fine sea salt.

Mix and enjoy!

I'm so glad that I was given the task to spontaneously whip up a salad with random ingredients.
If I hadn't had that opportunity, I never would have tasted this delicious concoction!
So while I may appear to be a very flawed person, I'm so glad I can handle being creative under pressure. Things can be pretty yummy, out of the blue.

~Julie :}

Friday, June 6, 2014

Julie Surprise: Laundry Basket Tip

I recently read somewhere online about a Mom who has all of her kids do their own laundry, even the really young ones. They all have their own basket and are responsible for washing and folding and putting away their own clothes.

Because I have a stacked washer/dryer I'm not sure that requiring them to climb up in order to reach the dryer makes a lot of sense for us right now, but I have been trying to figure out ways to give my girls more responsibilities and it occurred to me that in my Mom's house, all seven of us kids had our own laundry basket; where my Mom, or whoever was doing the laundry, would put our clothes for us to take upstairs and put away.  Granted, I think some of us just left the clothes there and only came to pull something out when the closet was looking bare, but for those who lived upstairs it was a convenient way to transport newly washed clothing easily.

At any rate, I have six of these bright green laundry baskets that I bought on sale at Smith's a few years ago (when they were on sale for $0.99 each!) they've been useful for sorting different colored loads, but I've found that I do tend to wash all my girls clothes together without separating the colors much, (they're mostly either pastel colors or hot pink anyway) so I realized maybe I should designate a couple of these baskets for my girls to have for their own. Also, since I've been trying to get them to help with putting away laundry for a while now, I thought maybe this new idea would add some novelty to something they tend to find rather dull.

Then the question became, how do I designate the baskets? My mom wrote our names on ours with a sharpie, but I kind of wanted it to be easier to see at a glance.
Suddenly it came to me! I realized that all I needed to do was thread a different pretty ribbon through the mesh in order to personalize the baskets for each girl. Yay!

 Interestingly enough, I already had a few ribbons that even matched the shade of green of the baskets. 
My four year old goes by the nickname Kitty, and she loves anything Hello Kitty, she even has some Hello Kitty clothing in her wardrobe, so it seemed pretty obvious which ribbon should be on her basket.
My older daughter, Lillian, is seven now and a bit more serious. She doesn't like Hello Kitty anymore because that's for babies, ya know? So I figured she would be fine with a shimmery, sheer, floral ribbon. Besides, she prefers to go by 'Lily' so something with flowers seemed appropriate.

So there you have it! A simple way to designate and personalize laundry baskets!
Hope this made you day a little brighter!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Golden Afternoon (A Theme for Flowering Vine)

This is probably my very favorite theme that I designed for the Flowering Vine Live Wallpaper App.

I started out wanting to do something that had at least all the primary colors so that it would feel rich and full and vibrant. I chose to make the background gold and tried to make it look as truly golden as possible with the parchment texture. I think it sort of looks like gold leaf. Then I made the butterflies blue and slightly transparent so as to contrast with the background. Then to round out the color scheme I made the flowers rich pink with dark green vines. Finally I added a purple haze for the vignette effect.

I just love the feeling of this theme. It seems warm and luxurious like a palace garden in India or something. The name I chose for this theme, of course brings to mind the song from Disney's Alice and Wonderland, but I chose it because it seemed to fit the gold theme and reminds me of a dreamy summer day.

If you want to have a lot of fun playing around with the app making your own themes, the app is available for Android and can be purchased here. Thor Media has a lot of other pretty live wallpapers as well. Check them out!