High Five Friday 6-29

It’s finally Friday! I’m writing this post on the way to my in-law’s house in Lima. We’re staying there for a few nights before heading down to Hilton Head, SC for a week-long vacation with friends. What a great day to do my “high five” of the week!

1. On Wednesday, my husband Ryan celebrated his last birthday in his twenties! We started the day off with a breakfast date at The Eye Opener, a local breakfast place that has AMAZING coffee and bloody mary’s (of course, since it was a work day, we passed on those!).

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2. That night, we went to dinner with one of Ryan’s friends and his sweet girlfriend. Ryan chose The Rail, a local restaurant that specializes in burgers made from cows raised in Ohio and naturally fed. Seriously, best burgers ever. And their desserts aren’t bad either!

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Anything in a mason jar is right up my alley!

3. Spending a Thursday evening with my parents, husband and my sister’s family = the perfect way to start the end of the week!

4. Earlier in our road trip, I snapped this picture of our baby, Sarge:

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Isn’t he just the cutest thing! And if you’re wondering: yes, I am sitting in the back while Sarge sits up front with Ryan. We figured out a while ago that this makes for the smoothest car trips with him. Judge us if you must.

5. Did I mention we’re going to the beach?! Getting ready for that has definitely been a high point of the week!

I probably won’t be writing much next week while sitting in the sun and sand, so I hope every has a wonderful and safe Independence Day!

Be a Part of the Olympics!

I would LOVE to be in London for the Olympics games this summer, however, since I’m too cheap to buy a plane ticket to get over there, my only shot would be to qualify as a participant. But…

My 400 meter dash time sucks, I don’t know how to swim the butterfly and I’m pretty sure one has to be able to lift more than 50 lbs. to be considered “an Olympian”.

So, London for the games: that simply is not going to happen.

If you’re finding yourself in the same predicament, there is a way you can be at the games in spirit: by donating $12 to the Team USA “Raise Our Flag” campaign by July 12, you help Team USA buy food, supplies and all other necessities for the Olympic athletes. Plus, you get assigned a “stitch number” in the flag the athletes will carry during the Opening Ceremonies. My stitch number is 15,062:

If you’d like, you can dedicate the stitch to someone or leave the team a message. If you’re interested, click here to go to the site.

I’ve faced the facts that I will most likely never qualify for an Olympic games (unless adding numbers on a ten-key becomes one of the games). But I’ll be watching from Akron, Ohio, cheering on Team USA and looking for my stitch in the beautiful American flag at the opening ceremonies. GO USA!

Cool Site – What Should I Read Next?

I’ve written before about my excitement over the ever-increasing amalgamation of books and the internet (if you missed it, check it out here). My newest find: What Should I Read Next?

On this site, when you enter the title or author of a favorite book, the site generates a list of other books you would enjoy. From what I can tell, the analysis is done based on other registered users’ favorite book lists (in other words, if I had The Road by Cormac McCarthy on my favorite book list, the site would look to other books one my list when a user entersThe Road into the search field).

To test it out, I entered one of my favorite books I’ve read recently, The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates. The results included books written by other authors I love (Jacquelyn Mitchard and Jodi Picoult, specifically) and another of my favorite books, Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz (so far, so good). I then did a few searches for books and authors I do NOT like, to make sure the results this site generates are not totally random (they don’t appear to be). My final test was to enter The Gravedigger’s Daughter once again to verify the same list of books was given (it was).

My conclusion: this site is pretty legit. It passed all parts of my three-pronged test (which was extremely scientific and researched, which I’m sure you concluded while reading it). I bookmarked the website for whenever I FINALLY make it to the bottom of my “to read” list. I’m not sure that will ever realistically happen, but it’s a great feeling to have options. Check it out!

June 2012 Birchbox

This month’s box of goodies arrived at my door last week.

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And the Birchbox theme of the months is…Jet Set!

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The box included:

– Two self-tanning towlettes from Comodyness – very excited to try these! Self-tanning is what all the cool kids are doing.
– A sample bottle of Juicy Couture fragrance – not my favorite, but fun and summery. I’ll definitely get some use out of it.
– Jouer tinted moisturizer – I loved last month’s tinted moisturizer, so I’m looking forward to trying this one as well.
– theBalm cosmetics Stainiac two-in-one lip and cheek stain – LOVE the color of this.
– COOLA SPF 30 sunscreen – eco-friendly + SPF = awesome.
– Modcloth headband – so retro! I gave this a test-drive while doing some shopping over the weekend. I was very impressed with how well it stayed put. Plus, since it wraps around your head using a flexible wire, no painful pressure points!

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Very cool Birchbox this month. And the headband alone retails for $14, so again the $10 investment was worth it. It’s the start of vacation season, which means it’s also the perfect time to have these travel essentials. Well played, Birchbox. Well played.

P.S. For July, Birchbox teamed up with Glamour for a “Five Senses” box. I’m intrigued…

 

Crazy for Quinoa!

Last fall, I visited one of my best friends, Lindsey, and her husband Tim in Toledo. I can always count on them for some tasty, healthy meals. This time, I was told we were having marinated shrimp with keenwa. Uh, wait a second…I had to ask: what is “keenwa”? After a quick tutorial (and a peek at the bag), I realized “keenwa” is actually the health super-food I’ve read so much about (but pronounced very incorrectly in my head): quinoa. And let me tell you, just after that one meal, I was hooked.

In honor of the healthy-eating initiatives going on in the Bowers house right now (hello beach vacation in two weeks!), we have been trying to incorporate quinoa into more meals. This hasn’t been very hard to do, since quinoa can be used in so many different ways!

1. Substitute for rice in just about anyway you use rice. We had ours with a stir fry (check out a quinoa stir fry recipe here).

2. Cheesy Quinoa Bites – thanks to Pinterest, I found this yummy recipe. Good for a meal or appetizer.

3. Soup – we added cooked quinoa to tomato-basil soup, along with some cooked, cubed chicken breast.

4. Breakfast – for some quinoa “oatmeal”, mix 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 banana sliced. Heat in a small skillet over medium until most liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl and top with chopped walnuts, more banana slices and a little maple syrup. Looks and tastes SO good (and it’s very filling).

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5. For south-of-the-border taste, try mixing cooked quinoa with a can of diced tomatoes with chiles, black beans and a little cumin to taste. We added a little lime juice, too.

If you have any more ideas, I’d love to hear (and eat) them!

NBA Finals – Grammar Edition

Like many sports fan right now, my husband is completely enthralled by the NBA  finals. I’ve watched many of the games with him (and most of the time I manage to stay awake for the whole game), but it wasn’t until I ran across this article that I got REALLY interested in the Heat-Thunder series:

The Thunder Are A Matchup Nightmare for Copy Editors; So Is The Heat

Great article for fans of the English language (even the title is clever). And I love the last line (it’s funny because it’s true).

I played basketball for many years of my life, so I’m not sure why I haven’t been into the play-offs this year. And no, in case you’re wondering, I’m not still upset about the heart-break that was “The Decision”.

(To some, calling the night of July 8, 2010, a “heart-break” might seem dramatic, but to that I say: you weren’t in Northeast Ohio that night. You didn’t hear the collective sound of  our dreams of a winning sports team all shattering with the words “South Beach”. You can’t possibly understand…)

But trust me, I’m totally over all of that. Completely. Truth is, I’m just not that interested this year. And honestly, I don’t care which team wins…just as long as it’s not the team LeBron James is on. Jerk.

… Ok, maybe all wounds haven’t healed. #OKCLE

Basket Case!

I believe in themes. For parties, for room decor… and definitely for gifts. For the baby shower I threw recently, I opted to go beyond the candle / picture frame / scented lotion prizes typically given to the winners of shower games. Instead, I made four themed gift baskets:

I had so many ideas for the themes of the baskets, but ultimately I ended up with the four themes below. Once I had everything bought and separated into the baskets, I wrapped each basket in shrink-wrap. Then, I made tags for each gift basket by printing off a list of each item in the basket, gluing it to the paper I used throughout the shower for decoration and attaching it to the outside of the basket. Finally, I topped each basket with a festive bow (which, except for the bright green bow, are all handmade, thankyouverymuch!). I LOVED how they turned out! And I love that each basket cost me less than $12 (all but one were under $10). Much more fun and personal than a generic candle or picture frame, at about the same cost.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get good pictures of the baskets, so you’ll have to take my word that they turned out great. In fact, one of the guests at the shower asked me where I bought the baskets so she could get some for a party she was throwing in a few weeks. She was shocked when I told her I made them. What a compliment!

1. Gardening basket

What was included:
* Spade
* Gardening shears
* Hand lotion for gardeners
* Gardening gloves
* Assorted seeds (flowers and vegetables)
* Gardening caddy

2. Summer Fun basket

What was included:
* Beach ball
* Bob Evans barbeque Sauce
* Sand castle bucket and shovel
* Bubbles
* 2 bottles of flavored soda

3. Fiesta! basket

What was included:
* Gourmet tortilla chips
* Gourmet salsa
* Non-alcoholic “skinny” margarita mix
* 2 plastic margarita glasses
* Serving tray

4. Coffee Break basket

What was included:
* Bag of organic coffee
* Flavored coffee syrup
* Bag of assorted Lindor truffles
* 2 magazines (Reader’s Digest and Women’s Day)
* Decorative basket