Weddings and Weight Worries

Hi Simple Days readers! Today you can find me on Plus-Size Models Unite, they were gracious enough to invite me to write a post about my experiences with body image struggles during wedding planning. I hope you will all head over there to check it out, it’s a great blog open to everyone who is passionate about pursuing body and size acceptance.

I’m Back! And how to turn $10 into a custom light fixture

So I took a few months off of blogging. Creativity ebbs and flows – and the last couple months were more about getting along and less about craft projects and trying new recipes. We’re now in a new apartment – one that is bigger and in a great neighborhood, but has taken a little more elbow grease than the one before. I love a challenge, though! I had to pick my priorities, it’s a rental so changing EVERYTHING is out of the question. There’s a lot I will be blogging about in the coming months – how we painted the whole place for under $40, a massive kitchen update, and much more. One of the projects that has made the biggest impact is turning a boring and outdated dining room light fixture into a dramatic centerpiece. So here is the story of how I turned this:

Into this:

for $10!

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Pecan and Apple Spice Cupcakes with Yogurt Glaze

Growing up, my favorite cake has always been the perfectly Autumnal carrot cake. Maybe having an October birthday just destined me to love all things with nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. This year, though, I thought I would try a lighter take on the fall spice cake. These cupcakes taste deceptively decadent, but come in at just under 200 calories each. The yogurt glaze is a light take on cream cheese frosting – it adds the tartness but doesn’t overwhelm the delicate apple flavor.

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The Secret to Perfect Scones

As much as I love scones, I’ve tasted plenty of bad ones as well. The one characteristic that all the bad ones had in common was dryness. The ingredient that all of my favorite ones have had in common is yogurt.

I realize you’re probably tired of me talking about yogurt, but bear with me here. Yogurt keeps the scones moist, and gives a rich flavor without the need for large amounts of butter. It’s also convenient for us, given that it’s not uncommon for us to have plenty of yogurt in the house, but no milk.

And in case any of you have been making your own, I got the best results of all time this past week using Costco’s Kirkland 1% milk and Stonyfield plain yogurt (not Greek style) as a starter. It was thick, creamy, even a little glossy in texture.

But back to scones. Here’s a recipe that charmed us this late Saturday morning, a comfort food for a grey rainy day.

scones

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Orzo with Ham and Goat Cheese

Also known as the recipe that motivated me to come back to blogging.

So it started out over at Epicurious, when I was looking for a recipe that would make use of a small container of jalepeno cilantro goat cheese I picked up at the Austin Farmers Market. Except that I impatiently ate all that goat cheese before getting around to this, and had to pick up more at the HEB. In typical fashion, we spiced it up, cut out a little of the cheese and meat, and went a little heavier on the veggies. This really is a quick one-dish meal, good for a pre-run carb loading (or so Kim tells me), and has a nice comfort food feel to it.

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On Self-Reliance

I haven’t been blogging much the past few weeks. Partly because I go through phases of not having much to say, and partly because this not having much to say phase happened to coincide with a having much to do phase.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about self-reliance. The characteristic that drives do-it-yourselfers to get up and do instead of paying someone else to do so. Even if it takes you 10x longer. The characteristic that drives people to do it themselves, when the only other option is to not have it done.

In the past year, I’ve learned to sew (really sew, not the straight lines I used to barely squeek out). I’ve learned to make cereal, yogurt, bread, pizza. I’ve learned to chop my own onions, broccoli, carrot, and garlic instead of buying them already prepared. I’ve learned how to mix up my own tub scrub and toilet cleaner.

I’ve learned these things because this year we’ve had tough choices to make. There hasn’t been enough for everything. But there has been enough.

And I’ve learned that I am enough. For myself, for my husband, for life. I have what it takes.

There are some things that I will be happy when I can pay for someone else to take care of. I’ve never been skilled at pedicures and really miss dry cleaning sometimes. But for a lot of these things, being forced to take care of it myself has really made me wonder why I ever paid for it in the first place. Seriously, do you guys know how easy it is to chop broccoli?? And homemade pizza dough really puts the frozen pizzas to shame. I don’t often miss the meals out much because we enjoy our home cooked dinners even more (but I absolutely miss Friday happy hours).

I do hope I remember these lessons. I hope I can hold on to this self-reliance, even when it is not so completely necessary. And I hope that if I ever get so busy that I don’t have time to chop broccoli, I remember to take a step back and make sure that the things making me so busy are truly worth it.

Curried Coconut Chicken with Potatoes

We love curry dishes. They meet my husband’s need for heat, and have that lovely savory-spicy-sweet combo that I am so fond of myself. This dish has an especially well-balanced flavor — sweet coconut milk mellows acidic tomatoes, the potatoes softening the curry’s edge. It could easily be made vegetarian – we used a mix of chicken and potatoes but you could substitute an extra potato for the chicken without changing the texture dramatically. This recipe served the two of us, with a tiny bit of leftovers for an afternoon snack the next day :)

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