Thursday, January 31, 2013


 Funny story about how Emily and I know each other. Its almost like it was predestined! Back in the day when I was a freshman in highschool and Emily an 8th grader in middle school, the county we both live in started up a girls club lacrosse team. My family having come from a long line of lacrosse players most recently my dad, uncles one of my aunts and several of my male cousins, I immediately wanted to try my hand at the family sport of choice. Emily also saw the flyers for the new club lacrosse and we both ended up both joining it. However since we went to different schools in different districts we only ever saw each other at practice and after the 1st season, the high school Emily went to started its own team, while I continued to play all for years of high school on the club team as my high school didn't have one.

 Fast forward 9 1/2 years.. I was leading a women's bible study at church in fall 2011and Emily was there one night during her holiday break. After eyeing each other the whole evening both feeling the other looked familiar we finally asked one another and figured out we had played lacrosse together. Even more cool is that we ended up attending the same college, which I had graduated from in 2010  and which Emily was in her junior year at and guess what! She was studing Studio Art just like I did!

Small world right! Anyway, we quickly found we had a lot in common both from our relationship with God to our college major and interests. Since then we've become pretty good friends, always trying to meet up whenever one of us is in Richmond or Fredericksburg. I honestly can't express how grateful I am that God provided a friend locally who is both a sister and encourager in Christ and has a similar slightly off and very creative way of seeing the world. I have been blessed by Emily's friendship and the many conversations we have had! 
I took these photos the last time we hung out! Isn't she just gorgeous!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30 Minute Chicken Fajita Salad

So we are still doing the Slow Carb Challenge. Part of the diet is eating a lot of the same things. Apparently sticking to a pretty standard non-varying amount of ingredients is helpful in losing weight. That's great, but I'm a girl who likes variety! So its been a bit of a struggle to keep things interesting taste and texture wise while still making use of the same 20-30 ingredients. 

Tonight I had success! Sticking completely to the ingredient "rules" while getting a very yummy outcome that was a change from some of the other more repetitive meals we've had. After looking in the fridge and having randomly watched a cooking show today I was craving and saw we had the ingredients for Fajitas! Since we can't eat carbs, I decided we could just throw it over a nice big salad. Best idea ever! It was DELICIOUS! And it ended up being a snap to make!

Sarah's 30 Minute Chicken Fajita Salad: 
Gluten Free, Grain Free, Vegetarian Optional
Serves 2-3 people (For 4-6 just double the recipe!)

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Total Time: 30-35 minutes!

You'll need:
1 large black iron skillet (or a wok or a stainless steel skillet) but I recommend seasoned black iron
2 large uncooked chicken breasts
1 large onion (red or yellow)
2 bell peppers (I used 1 red and 1 yellow)
1 bag Salad- you can use whatever your favorite mix is. I used Spinach and some Artisan lettuce
1 can of black beans
1 lime or about 8 good shakes from a lime juice bottle
Olive oil

Spices: (I use all Penzeys Spices)
For Veggies-
Old Bay Seasoning (this is the only non Penzys spice)
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/1 tsp Cilantro (dried or fresh, I used Penzey's dry)
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Chile Powder

For Chicken-
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (this is the only non Penzys spice)
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 - 1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Cilantro (dried or fresh, I used Penzey's dry)
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2-1 tsp Chile Powder

Ok this is so simple! You can even do it a head of time like the night before or if you have time before work in the morning and it'll be even quicker when you go to cook it!

1. Wash and cute Bell Peppers- cut around the core like its a square, then you'll just have the seeds and core attached and can toss it. Remove the white/light pith bits that grows on the inside of the pepper. Then slice in thin long slices. About 1/4 an inch thick. Or thinner if you prefer. Put in a bowl

2. Measure out the spices for veggies in a small bowl and set aside with veggies bowl. 

3. Cut onion in half through the core. Discard skin and any outer most layer of onion that looks like its a little leathery. Then slice down the same width you did your peppers until about an inch from the base (roots), then flip forward and cut a few more slices. Don't worry about that last inch of the onion, that's where all the tear's come from.. so I skip it! Add to bowl of peppers

4. Take chicken breasts and cut into similar size slices that you cut peppers and onions. About 1/4 inch. At the thicker part of breast you can cut it in half and then continue cutting 1/4 inch thick (see pictures below)

5. Place chicken in a separate bowl from veggies. Add the spices for chicken- see recipe list! And half the juice of the lime or if using bottled juice about 8 good shakes. Mix well so all chicken gets coated. (At this point you can cover and stick in the fridge for a few hours to overnight.)

6. Ok, not get that black iron skillet and put it on a large burner. Turn to high and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Let pan get nice and hot.. you can tell when its ready when you see a slight smoke coming off (but don't burn it!)

7. Throw Vegetables only into skillet when hot. Stir. Add bowl of pre- measured spices. *Tip: don't stand directly over skillet when you do this or you might inhale a whiff of spices when it hits the heat. Toss/stir Veggies for about 3-4 minutes, until they have a slight blackening on them and have softened a bit. Then transfer them back to the bowl they were in.

8. Now, put skillet back to hot burner- keep on high and add another tbsp olive oil. Gently pour bowl of chicken onto skillet. Then spread chicken out. Stir occasionally and let cook about 5-6 minutes or until just cooked through. Remember, we've sliced the chicken thin so it will cook quickly. 

9. Once chicken is cooked, toss the fajita Veggies back in with chicken over heat and stir all together. Cook about 2-3 minutes. (If you are cooking for someone who is vegetarian.. don't do this and when originally cooking Veggies cook an extra 2-3 minutes) 

10. Throw pre-washed salad into big serving bowl. Add 1/2 can of black beans or all if you really like them. And 1 avocado- sliced into 1/2 inch cubes. 

11. That's it! Now just serve up your chicken fajita's over a plate of salad! Or as real fajita's over flour or corn tortillas! Seriously! Its that easy!

You can add anything you like to your Chicken Fajita Salad and make it your own! We skipped any cheese or tortilla strips because those are carbs but I have not doubt they would be delicious over this! Also salsa, sour cream, corn... whatever you like!

This dish tastes just like fajita's from your favorite Mexican/ Tex-Mex Restaurant, probably better in fact! I hope you get a chance to make this and enjoy! This is definitely going to be a new staple dish in our house!

Please pardon the picture quality! I was working with what over head light I had, I'm not a fan of flash and I didn't have any natural light. 

 See Below: Thats the part of the onion that makes you tear up.. toss it. Or stick in sandwich bag and freeze it for the next time you make stock or soup!

A very hot skillet is an absolute must! Otherwise you'll end up stewing your veggies and chicken rather than sautéing them and getting some nice caramelization!

If you have an oven or overhead vent use it! This will help especially when you add those spices to the hot pan!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lamp Revamp: Part 1

So I love and when I say love I mean it. I LOVE taking old things and finding a way to recreate them into something new! DIY is my jam! 

So I thought I'd share one of the more simple DIY projects I've done with all of you! 

I have this lamp, that 15 years ago when I was 10 years old and had a Spice Girls themed birthday party fit right in with that whole teeny bopper trend but which has progressively become more and more hated by me. However, this lamp has such nice lines, that I've never been able to bring myself to toss it! Its like when you see a really attractive guy or girl in really frumpy clothes you know? You just think to yourself, gosh! If only I could dress them! They'd look so hott!

Yes, I am talking about an inanimate object.. and I have a strange sense of humor, haha. 

Anyway, this lamp has been sitting gathering dust and growing greyer every year and I finally decided it was time to conquer the faux fur hideousness!  Below is Part 1 of this project! There will be a Part 2 for the actual recover and finished product. I'm still deciding on which fabric I like best!

I mean come on, look at this thing! It reminds me of that weird commercial about hunger following you around and he a furry little orange creature! Not to mention, it attracts dust like no other!

As you can see, I pulled back on the furry covering and could see that it was only attached around the rim.

Fritz wanted to help but he lacked the opposable thumbs needed so I told him he could watch. (By the way this is the perfect project to do when watching mindless television. At least the demolishing part is. I just sat on the floor in my bedroom with HGTV on while working on this!)

Once I had pulled up about 3 inches, I used my fabric scissors to cut down to the bottom. You can see there is a heavy plastic or vinyl shade beneath that is what actually gives the lamp its structure and stability.

At last! I think it looks 10x's better already! Bye bye faux fur! Bye bye bad 90's reminders! Hello blank canvas!

Next I needed to choose a fabric! I have more fabric that shown here but this was the pile I grabbed. 

I knew I wanted something that could fit into my current decor now but also be interesting enough to hold its own or even be a bold accent in another room down the road. I'm a visual person, so I need to see it before I commit. Using a few hair clips to keep it attached I remounted the shade on its base, turned on the lamp and wrapped each fabric I was considering around it so I could get a better idea of how it would look on the shade, with and without the light on as well as with my current shabby chic decor.

The black and white is growing on me. Its more modern that my normal go to but the pattern would lend itself nicely to fitting in with my things. I really liked the idea of this lovely mustard yellow linen but when I actually put it on, it just wasn't working for me. At least not with this decor. 

The Pink, Navy, Gray fabric I also really like! I think it could work in my space currently but down the road could even more so become a great accent piece when I have more spaces to decorate. The white with pink and silver (it has a slight metallic to it) medallions would definitely go with my space currently, but felt a little blah over all. A little too baby girls room if you know what I mean. I think its because the pattern is smaller so it looks more redundant that the B&W or P,N,G fabrics which are larger bolder patterns. 

Lastly was this blue lacy fabric. Clearly it didn't hit the spot. At least not for me. The only way I could see this working is if it was over another fabric, like a bright pink. But it just didn't work for me even with that concept. I still snapped a few pictures to show how its worth testing out before committing to a fabric. Folded up and in theory I was thinking it could look nice, kind of antique lace meets modern minimalist, and maybe if it were white or off white it would, but in this dusty blue, it just did not work! 

So, thats part 1 of this Lamp Revamp! Since I'm still deciding on the fabric.. tell me what you think! Which of the fabrics seen about would you vote for! Leave me vote in the comments section! Maybe I'll pick the one you like! We'll find out in Part 2!

with grace,