Looking ahead in 2015 - Focus

Personal Musings
Posted by Jennifer on January 31
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

My guiding words for 2014 was "Be Present". I wanted to create a slower life and to fully appreciate my life, my family and my friends. This will continue to be an ongoing journey for someone like me, who for the past 20 years, has been on the go non-stop, creating careers and feeling the need to always be doing something. I have to practice to relax. Sad yes, but true.

Last year I created the following list and I thought I'd share how well I did in making these goals happen.

1. I need to create a slower pace, like the islanders of Kauai.
I definitely feel like we've created a slower and more peaceful life by our move to the country.

2. I need to re-read Happier at Home and remember what I learned.
I didn't reread this book yet as I had loaned out my copy. But lucky for me, my cousin got me this book at Christmas so now I have a copy again!

3. I plan to build a greenhouse and garden beds and eat even more of my own crops.
I did build a greenhouse and garden beds. I love my garden.

Need some inspiration to reconnect with what's most important in your own life? Read about what my guiding word is for 2015 and how goal setting can create a life you want.

4. I plan to give my shoulder a rest and heal.
I only photographed a few weddings last year. Hiring Isabel in 2013 was one of the best things I could have done. I'm further progressing this goal and am happy to announce that all The Memory Journalists' company coverage collections will be photographed by Isabel Ollinger Photography this year!

5. I need to lead a healthier life.
I go through ups and downs with this goal. I still don't ever feel like I have enough time. I still don't always eat as I should. I don't always get enough sleep. But being conscious of all these things make me make better healthier decisions.

6. I need to rest, even do nothing, when needed.
This is a tough one for me. I'm the type of person who has to practice to relax and to practice to do nothing. When I'm just sitting around, it makes me feel like I should be putting that clean laundry away, or make the next healthier meal, or x or y or z. You get what I mean, the list never ends! This goal I will always have to work towards in order to prevent burnout.

7. I plan to enjoy my family and friends.
I've definitely enjoyed my friends and family more this last year and will continue to make this a priority in coming years.

8. I plan to rediscover myself.
This will always be a work in progress, but this last year has been great for self-discovery. I'm feeling good about my newest goals and am eager to implement them.

Being present more in 2014 has made me realize where I want to be in my life and what I want to be doing in my life. Creating a list of goals has helped me this last year have one of the best years of my life. So my guiding word for 2015 is "Focus". I have a new business about to launch in another month related to my love of healthy living and creating a happier home. I want to inspire others to reconnect with what's most important in their own lives. I will be focusing on getting my new business off the ground and sharing what I've learned along the way.

I encourage everyone to think of their guiding word for 2015 and make a simple list of goals that you want to accomplish. See how it changes your year!

I would love to have you on my subscriber list for my new business Living5x5. If you would like to be alerted when we launch and to learn more about what Living5x5 is all about, please sign up today!

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Recap of 2014 - Finding Peace

Personal Musings
Posted by Jennifer on January 31
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

I grew up in small towns. My high school graduating class was about 110 people. I couldn't wait to get out of dodge and onto bigger and better things. So I was surprised to have found peace in the country this last year.

If you recall, we moved onto 5 acres a year ago September, wanting to get out of the 'rat race'. This move has completely changed my life. It has changed me. I enjoy cooking again. I don't mind getting my hands dirty in the garden. My sister would have never thought in a million years that I'd love to raise chickens. My family always thought I was the city girl who didn't like to go camping or get her fingernails broken. And at some point in my life, that likely was true.

Now I don't worry about my nails. However, I do make sure I don't have dirt under the nails at the end of a long weekend working outside. :-) I used to watch what fashion trends were in style. I would love going through fashion magazines enjoying the new ads. I felt I had to as a wedding photographer in order to keep up with and connect with my clients. Now I'm just not interested in trends or fashion. I'm more interested in getting back to basics: healthy living, clean eating, getting enough sleep, and peaceful sunsets. Don't get me wrong, I still love clothes and shoes. It's just not a priority any longer.

I like to recap each year and reflect on what changed.  2014 was one of those years where it was life changing for me.  I'm more at peace with who I'm discovering I want to be and who I'm allowing myself to be. Read how I found peace and why.

This last week at work, I wore a gingham pink long sleeve shirt, jeans, and pink checked Top-Sider shoes. I was told by 3 different people that I looked like a farmer. In past years, I may have taken offense to this, but instead now I just said Thank You, and meant it. It was a great compliment.

I feel more at peace living in the country. I'm more at peace with who I am...or who I'm discovering I want to be...who I'm allowing myself to be. I'm wanting to make changes in my life. I'm no longer content having each year go by faster and faster without creating the life I want. Creating a slower life, as I mentioned in my 2014 look ahead, has been one of the best things I could have ever done. Everyone should take the time to reflect on last year and look ahead to the new year and make goals. Take steps to create the life you want.

I am a bit surprised with myself, but I am a Country Girl.

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What to wear for Valentine's Day?

Pinterest Ideas, Fashion
Posted by Mai on January 30
Photographed by Mai

Mai posted by Mai

You are probably laying out or scavenging for the perfect outfit to wear, but whatever it is, I'm sure your special significant other would appreciate your efforts. One way to get inspired and be frugal for this holiday is to simply shop from your closet. Take a look at recent holiday dresses, or cute tops that could use some fresh air again. It's ok to repeat an outfit. Another way is to seek current trends. There are several trends every year, but go with what you're comfortable in. Each style is different and compliments different body types. Keep in mind, it is still winter, so have a coat or wrap ready, too, if you're planning on going out. See what style will inspire your Valentine's Day look this year!

I'm not much of a flower print girl, but I'm quite obsessed with this one. It has a vintage feel, and the print is quite fashionable to where it doesn't make you look old. Plus, the silhouette of the dress is stunning and hugs you in all the right places. The v-neck is not too deep as well, which keeps you looking classy. Add a few gold accessories to glam up, and neutral colored heels to finish off the look.

What to wear for Valentine's Day? Take a peek at these trendy outfits to inspire your look!

I'm so in love with this look. It's something casual and chic for the work day and I particularly love this outfit for its functionality. It screams comfortable with the sweat top, wool slacks, and flats. You don't have to over accessorize during the day, but can definitely throw on a statement necklace, and heels after work to go straight to dinner.

What to wear for Valentine's Day? Take a peek at these trendy outfits to inspire your look!

Be bold! I think a lot of people are afraid to wear color, so why not sport a lot of it on Valentine's Day! You can definitely go bold with a colorful, lightweight sweater, and leather skirt. Add a gold bracelet, with neutral heels, and a simple clutch. You'll be on your way to an adventurous luncheon with your girlfriends, or a fun, fulfilled date-night with your beau.

What to wear for Valentine's Day? Take a peek at these trendy outfits to inspire your look!

Sometimes you just don't feel like wearing a dress. Opt for your favorite jeans, and a loose top. Keep cozy with a nice and warm coat, trendy brogues, a wrap watch, and sunnies for the day. The goal is not to stress your heels and breathe a little!

What to wear for Valentine's Day? Take a peek at these trendy outfits to inspire your look!

Make Valentine's Day extra special with the perfect outfit! Take a peep at more looks on our What To Wear On Valentines Day Memory Journalists Pinterest page.

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Healthy Nachos Grande

Healthy Living - Food
Posted by Jennifer on January 28
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

My husband LOVES nachos. Nachos is no joking matter. When we were in London with my sister and BIL, every pub we stopped at, we had to order the nachos just to see what we'd get. Nachos in the UK are terrible. They are not at all what we've come to expect. And to call something "grande" it better be damn good.

I recently read a recipe in Clean Eating magazine and it inspired me to try my hand at making my own healthy version of Nachos...but it still had to be Grande! We used this recipe for dinner twice in the same week (rather than as an appetizer). I did steps 1 and 2 in their entirety, but then I cut the below recipe in half and followed steps 3-5 using only half the ingredients each night.

Ingredients:
Olive Oil cooking spray (I use one of those mister spray bottles)
2 chicken breasts, diced after cooking
chile powder to taste (approx. 1-2 tsp)
salt and pepper (I like to use Simply Organics Grind to a Salt Seasoning)
8 6-inch corn tortillas (I like to use La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style Yellow Corn Tortillas)
12-18 cherry tomatoes diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers diced (I used my frozen fresh peppers that included Jalapenos and Caribbean Red hot peppers)
3 sweet peppers diced (you know the type that have the shape of jalapenos but aren't hot? and are red/yellow/orange in color)
1/2 onion diced
1 15oz can Refried beans (I used black bean based refried beans, but you can also make your own. See below).
4 oz shredded cheese of your choice (I like the Mexican cheese blend most of the time, but I was out so I used regular cheddar cheese).
1 avocado diced

Optional toppings:
shredded lettuce
sour cream
fresh cilantro

Nachos are a favorite appetizer for Superbowl festivities.  But I wanted to make a healthier version.  Check out my mouth watering recipe just in time for this year's Superbowl.

Steps:
1) Sprinkle chicken breasts with fresh ground pepper, salt, and 1/4 of the chile powder (approx. 1/2 tsp). Broil chicken until done. Thickness can make cooking time vary from 5-10 minutes per side. Let cool and dice up.

2) In the meantime, cut the corn tortilla shells into 6 equal pie shaped pieces. Line cooking sheets with foil and mist with olive oil. Arrange tortillas into a single layer and mist with oil and sprinkle with remaining chile powder. Bake at 350degrees for approx. 15 minutes. Be sure to turn 1/2 way through. The "chips" will start to turn brown on the edges.

3) If you are in a hurry as I usually am, rather than make your own refried beans, I heated a can of beans on the stove (or in the microwave) until hot.

4) Using a serving dish that can be heated in the oven, spread half the chips on dish. Top with half the beans, chicken, and cheese. Create 2 more layers, each time making the layer smaller as you build up. Heat the entire dish in the oven (at 300 degrees) to melt the cheese.

5) Before serving, add the diced tomatoes, jalapenos, sweet peppers, onion, avocado, and any other additional toppings of your choosing.

If you want to try your hand at making your own refried beans, you can use a can of whole black beans. Spray a pan with some olive oil, add 1 clove garlic minced up for about a minute, add the beans including their liquid and heat on medium until hot. Add in optional hot sauce to taste. Remove from heat and mash up until desired consistency.

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Leftover Candy Cane Recipes

Pinterest Ideas
Posted by Mai on January 23
Photographed by Mai

Mai posted by Mai

I know it's the third week into January, but are you still getting over Christmas? I sure am. Although I've put the Christmas tree and decorations away, there's still one more thing lingering in my pantry-Candy Canes! I definitely need to get rid of them soon, and with Valentine's Day coming up, they make quite the useful treat.

Let's see what we can make with leftover candy canes.

After the holiday clean up, there's still bits and pieces of wrapped candy canes in the house. What shall we do with them? Find leftover candy cane recipes, and simply enjoy the sweetness of life!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

I'm a big fan of peppermint anything, and this is one of my favorites. My daughter loves it, too! It's nice and cozy during winter time when you can cuddle up with this hot cup of peppermint hot chocolate! This recipe is non-dairy, but is exceptionally tasty.

Photo Courtesy: Fork and Beans

After the holiday clean up, there's still bits and pieces of wrapped candy canes in the house. What shall we do with them? Find leftover candy cane recipes, and simply enjoy the sweetness of life!

Candy Cane Syrup

Can you imagine waking up to the smell of peppermint and having it on your pancakes? Learn how to make peppermint syrup that you can basically use for toppings!

Photo Courtesy: Chica and Jo

After the holiday clean up, there's still bits and pieces of wrapped candy canes in the house. What shall we do with them? Find leftover candy cane recipes, and simply enjoy the sweetness of life!

Candy Cane Rice Krispie Treats

I'm not sure about you, but I can't get over good old Rice Krispie Treats, especially when they're peppermint! These are to die for, and can be easily packaged for Valentine's Day treats! It only requires 5 ingredients to make, and takes little time!

After the holiday clean up, there's still bits and pieces of wrapped candy canes in the house. What shall we do with them? Find leftover candy cane recipes, and simply enjoy the sweetness of life!

Peppermint Ice Cream

Another one of my favorites is peppermint ice cream! I love mint chocolate chip ice cream already, so this just adds to my list. If you have an ice cream maker, this recipe comes in handy. If you don't own one like me, you can go out and get regular vanilla ice cream, crush the candy canes and blend it together. It may turn out like a smoothie, but not entirely if you don't add any liquids. It will churn well in the blender, and comes out super delicious.

After the holiday clean up, there's still bits and pieces of wrapped candy canes in the house. What shall we do with them? Find leftover candy cane recipes, and simply enjoy the sweetness of life!

Peppermint Bark

Probably the most popular holiday treat. This peppermint bark recipe is not as complicated as it looks. All you really need for this treat is white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, crushed candy canes, and peppermint extract. You just have to take your time with melting the chocolate as you don't want it bursting everywhere.

After the holiday clean up, there's still bits and pieces of wrapped candy canes in the house. What shall we do with them? Find leftover candy cane recipes, and simply enjoy the sweetness of life!

Candy Cane Crinkles

For an easy treat on the go, cookies are the best. You can make a couple of dozens and wrap them up for V-day treats as well.

Photo Courtesy: Lauren Latest

After the holiday clean up, there's still bits and pieces of wrapped candy canes in the house. What shall we do with them? Find leftover candy cane recipes, and simply enjoy the sweetness of life!

It's nice to round up recipes for leftover treats and use them again for future holiday festivities. Not only do these recipes compliment the winter holidays, but are also useful for Valentine's Day Treats. If you can't get enough peppermint, make them all year round!

Get more Leftover Candy Cane recipes on our Memory Journalists Pinterest page to cure your sweet tooth. Enjoy!

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