good things : summer bucket list

Happy 1st day of summer, friends!!! I haven’t done any bucket-listing for awhile, but summer just begs to be bucket-listed. There are so many fun things to do and plenty of time in which to do them! Here are my top 10:

Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt Pops

pinned here via here

1 :: get ice cream at Lugia’s

2 :: go to Hamlin Beach

3 :: make my own greek frozen yogurt pops

4 :: spend a FULL WEEK at home

5 :: have corn on the cob, watermelon, and chicken on the grill

6 :: go for a long, hot run on the canal and/or Genesee River

7 :: take a day trip, complete with packed picnic lunch (Canandaigua? Pennsylvania???)

8 :: have strawberry lemonade

9 :: make s’mores

10 :: go to an outdoor concert/drive-in movie/summer festival on a warm night

and bonus!

11 :: have dinner outside with friends by the water

via martha stewart

What’s on your bucket list?! If you need any ideas…look no further than Martha Stewart’s definitive guide to all things summer. We’re talking 60 ice cream desserts, no-cook recipes, party ideas galore, and an index that makes it unbelievably easy to lose a few hours in summer planning. Have fun! And happy summer!!!

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good things : fire and backflips and joy

Things that are literally setting my heart on fire this morning:

this breakfast

this photostream

this website

this song

this band

these pins

this conviction

Bursting at the seams. There have been squeals of pure joy and happy dancing involved.

(If you need me, I’ll be running out some of this enthusiasm in laps around the neighborhood for awhile so I don’t blow a fuse. Oh my word.)

(OH MY WORD!)

good things : june chalkboards

living room :

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” – Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG)

bedroom:

Romans 8

kitchen:

Be YOU tiful.

june magazine line:

good things : discoveries

Recently I’ve discovered a few wonderful things. And they are:

1. NFL Network on Hulu

Um…HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS??? There are no words. Well there are words, and they appear in the picture above. They say, “Need a break? You have been watching for more than 3 hours.”

Oh.

Well, then.

In my defense, I have no defense. I just love football way too much.

If you’re looking for me between now and September, you know where I’ll be.

2. New Old Soap

I ran out of bathroom soap. Which is only half true, because I have plenty of other soaps that would have no problem making themselves useful in the bathroom. What I really ran out of was eucalyptus mint foaming soap…and I really prefer foaming soap in the bathroom and scrubbing soap for the kitchen because I’m just one big freak. I was just going to use my back-up kitchen soap in the bathroom…but had a stroke of genius instead! I pumped some of the lemon scrubbing soap into what little remained of the eucalyptus soap, added some water, and gave it a good shake. And lo and behold, I now have lemon eucalyptus mint foaming soap that I like even better than the original! (In no small part because I feel like this is a great discovery for all of womankind. Really…just think of the possibilities!!!)

3. Fresh Greens

For the record, don’t believe me when I say that something changed my life. Because it happens often. And while true, it usually doesn’t carry the weight of what most people define as life-changing.

But really…fresh greens changed my life this weekend. And you can take that one to the bank. Or to the farmer’s market, where I purchased said greens.

PEOPLE. OH MY WORD!!! I didn’t think that I could love salad more than I already do. But buying fresh spinach and arugula changed everything. It was like going from Sunny D to fresh squeezed orange juice. So crisp! So fresh! So flavorful!!!

I then proceeded to make six salads. For myself. For the whole week. I’m not even kidding.

Sometimes, when I’m in the kitchen, I’ll pluck a few leaves of spinach from the bunch just to snack on because they’re that good.

Oh my word. Totally life changing.

4. Homemade Sound System

That insert on the chute of the food processor? Perfect for holding an iPhone playing Pandora and amplifying the sound x 100. I had many a kitchen jam session this weekend.

Clearly, because there was so much to celebrate!

Two thumbs way up for unexpected goodness all around.

good things : spring groceries

It’s time for another grocery post!!! Here are a few favorite pantry staples this spring:

Theo Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs are, according to Theo’s website, “bits of unrefined cacao beans that have been separated from their shell and roasted to perfection in our chocolate factory. Nibs are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of antioxidants.” Cacao nibs are also, according to me, delicious. I love sprinkling them on my oatmeal, greek yogurt, and banana ice cream! I think they’d be really good in pancakes or waffles, too. Thank you, Wegmans, for adding this product to your already-brimming shelves!

TJ’s Golden Roasted Flax Seeds

I like burnt food. Burnt popcorn especially. I know, it’s weird. But what I like most about these roasted flax seeds is the depth of flavor due to the roasting. They don’t taste burnt…but they almost do. Regular flax seeds I could totally live without. I mean, I like them for their health benefits, but flavor-wise, they’re entirely forgettable. But these! Oh these! These I add to everything. Such a good advancement in flax seed technology.

TJ’s Omega Snack Packs

Apparently all of my omega needs are being met by Trader Joe’s these days. While I usually don’t spring for preportioned snack packs because it just seems too much expense for too much laziness, these have been really handy to have around when life gets crazy and I need food to-go.

Ezekiel Muffins

These are long overdue as a feature but let me tell you, totally worth the wait. I wasn’t going to buy them because it takes a lot for me to purchase a grocery item that costs about $5. Especially when that item is English muffins. But what lured me in was the protein content – 8 grams in each muffin! So I added them to the cart. And I’ve never looked back. I am hooked on these things…so good for you, and SO GOOD! Oh my word, with peanut butter and banana slices…heaven.

Kashi Lemongrass Chicken

Kashi, your frozen meals make my life a better place. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love them. And this Lemongrass Coconut Chicken? It’s like a summer vacation! Love it!!!

Ben & Jerry’s Greek Frozen Yogurt

This picture was not taken this morning with all of the rest. Because I had to pull it from my Instagram archives. Because this item is no longer in my possession. Because I had no problem finishing the pint in under 48 hours. I think that’s all I need to say about that.

Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

This stuff is the magic behind the chocolate greek yogurt and the chocolate banana ice cream. And if you want to eat brownie batter for breakfast (and really…who doesn’t?), just add a tablespoon to your oatmeal in the morning and mix it with some almond milk. You get all of the rich luxuriousness of dark chocolate for only 10 calories per tablespoon – no grams of sugar and one gram of protein! Miracles DO happen!

Nature Valley Protein Bars

Something unprecedented happened over the weekend. I swapped the week’s worth of LUNA bars I had already picked out for these Nature Valley Protein bars. Now…hear me out. Ingredient wise, LUNA bars are filled with real, organic ingredients and probably have a quality advantage over Nature Valley. But what swayed me was that, surprisingly, the Nature Valley bars only have 6 grams of sugar per bar along with the 10 grams of protein…and the ingredient list was much shorter…and the price was much cheaper! I still love me some LUNA; they put out so many great products and I support their mission. But for less sugar and less money and great flavor…I’ll be buying these for awhile!

Chobani

Speaking of sugar, I usually prefer to buy plain yogurt and add my own toppings because flavored yogurt just has SO MUCH sugar! However, Chobani has won me over. For quick and easy protein these yogurts can’t be beat, and they’re so good! Add something crunchy on top for texture and you’ve got a great snack on the go.

Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai and Fruit Tea Sampler

The Thai Chai, aside from being fun to say, is helping me weather these less-than-springy days we’ve had around here recently. The Fruit Tea Sampler gives me hope that someday, in the far and distant future, fresh fruit will be readily available and iced teas will be brewed with enthusiasm.

Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno Chips

I’m so glad Carolyn suggested this brilliant combination: jalapeno chips and guacamole were made for each other. Oh my word…SO good! These chips are great by themselves or with hummus, too, but they’re really best with a hearty side of guac.

Annie’s Fat Free Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

Fat free and low fat items aren’t my favorite. I feel like the real deal has so many more advantages than disadvantages, satiety being one of the main ones. However, if you’re looking to save a few calories but not lose any flavor (or sleep over fake food), this is one fat free dressing that can’t be beat. It’s made from real ingredients, won’t add any extra fat or many extra calories to your meal, but tastes amazing! Great pick for a healthy dressing or marinade.

And there you have it! These items have been frequent flyers on this season’s grocery list. How about you guys? What have you been buying lately?

good things : weekend peace

:: 1 ::

{ Friday Night Light }

There’s almost nothing in the world I crave more than time spent sitting outside on warm nights, reading magazines and listening to good music. It’s magically restorative.

:: 2 ::

{ Truth }

“Whatever we focus on, whether it’s positive or negative, tends to come true for us. That doesn’t mean if we expect to win, we’ll always win. Or that everything we fear will eventually happen. But there’s a general pattern: when we focus on what not to do, we often end up doing that. But if we can envision what we want to do, we have the motivation and the faith to see it through until it happens.

We need to discipline our thoughts to accomplish the things we dream of and the things God has called us to do. He wants us to do our best and use the gifts He has given us to achieve extraordinary results. In order to do that, we have to believe what He believes – that we can. It’s hard, if not impossible, to achieve what we dream while focusing on all the reasons we can’t. When we focus on the obstacles in front of us, they seem to grow larger and larger until we give up. But if we focus on what God can do through us – and on His promise that if we delight in Him, He will give us the desire of our hearts – we become confident and able to achieve whatever we were designed to achieve.”

The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker

:: 3 ::

{ Breakfast }

DIY Chocolate Greek Yogurt // Sliced Strawberries // Oatmeal // Golden Roasted Flax Seeds // Cacao Nibs // Cinnamon // Agave Nectar

good things : necessity

First things first, I may have worked all day and night yesterday, but I still had a pretty wonderful birthday:

Thank you so much, everyone! You all make my life a wonderful place to live.

In other news:

IMG_2456

If necessity is the mother of invention, I’m certainly glad she parented this dinner.

Necessity = making a meal on a limited pantry over the weekend because I hadn’t been grocery shopping in 2 weeks and didn’t want to face the all-consuming decision that is ordering out so I opted for making something at home instead. Which ended up being farro tossed in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and basil on a bed of mixed arugula topped with goat cheese.

Not a bad dinner, all things considered! It’s definitely a keeper!

I didn’t know I had it in me (or my kitchen).

Necessity: 1, Pantry Famine: 0.

good things : DIY chocolate ice cream

I’m sensing a trend here: making chocolate things out of things that are not chocolate.

I mean, isn’t that what life’s all about?

This time around, it’s a bit of a repeat, but I can’t help but share this again and IMPLORE you to try it, asap.
IMG_2391

This is ice cream made out of a frozen banana.

Ice cream…from a BANANA! I’m so tempted to quote Gwen Stefani right now but I’ll refrain.

And I promise – cross my heart and hope to (not) die – it’s every bit as good as any frozen dessert you’ll ever eat! It’s perfect for the upcoming warmer months. Which means it’s also perfect for fitting into things that are not sweatpants and sweatshirts while still eating ice cream.

Really…does life get any better?

Here are the basics:

Combine everything in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth, adding more almond milk if needed.

Top with anything you want! I’ve tried fresh fruit, peanut butter, granola, and pictured above is a mix of large flake coconut, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and triple berry jam.

People, if this blog gives you anything, let it be the gift of frozen banana ice cream. Your life will change for the better.

(Unless, of course, you’re allergic to bananas. In that case, please refer to my close personal friends, Ben & Jerry.)

beka stays real : two stories that made me laugh out loud

Story 1:

The family I nanny for had the sad task of deciding to put their dog to sleep last week after her valiant battle with cancer. When explaining to their four year old that their dog had died, she replied, “But that’s ok, because in 3 days they’ll roll the stone away and she’ll rise from the dead!”

Apparently we’ve been hitting the Easter stories a little too hard.

Story 2:

During a Skype conversation with my parents over the weekend my dad mentioned that someone he knew was looking for advice about going into full-time ministry. Having spent over 20 years in full-time ministry, my dad had a few thoughts to share, one of them being a precautionary tale about the financial toll on a family. Then my mom chimed in:

“Yeah but it’d be harder for them because they have kids.”

My dad looked at her, paused, looked at me and then asked, “…who do you think we’re talking to right now?”

To which my mom replied, “Oh, well it’s just Beka.”

Which either means I’m extraordinarily low-maintenance as offspring or extraordinarily forgettable as offspring. One way or the other, I think this can definitely be used as blackmail for the future.

(I love these stories. And these people. And my life.)