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Fresh and Tasty {A Veggie Recipe Round Up}

18 Mar

We had our first truly warm days of the year this weekend and it was wonderful! It was the kind of weather I wait for all winter – the kind of days where you get that first hint of truly warm weather that you can feel in your bones. I love it!

After a long winter full of cold days, huddling in our homes, and scarfing down more comfort foods than we should, I’m craving some fresh veggies … and I thought you might be, too. So, here’s a little round up of delicious, good-for-you, fresh foods made largely with vegetables.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries from Women’s Health.


Farfalle with Watercress, Cherry Tomatoes, and Feta from Fitness Magazine.


Roasted Chickpeas and Cucumber Salad from FitSugar.


Zucchini “Pasta” from Whole Living.


Spaghetti Squash Chicken Casserole from Eclectic Recipes.


Feeling inspired to go make something fresh and healthy? I am! Hope you enjoy.



Here’s to Our Health [A Recipe Round Up]

18 Feb

I’ve been asked by numerous people to please not stop posting recipe round-ups. :) So I thought since I haven’t done one in a while, today would be the perfect day to do one – especially one that focuses on healthy food choices.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just crave HEALTHY FOOD. This usually happens in the dead of winter after I’ve eaten all the comfort food I can hold. It usually happens about the time the temps take a deep dive (like they did this weekend in our neck of the woods) making me despondent for Spring temps and fresh Spring foods. Well, maybe despondent is a little extreme :), but those of you who are not fans of the cold know exactly what I’m talking about.

So, I thought I would round us up a tasty selection of healthy foods we can enjoy without so much guilt while the chill is still in the air. Now, here’s my disclaimer. Everyone’s interpretation of healthy is different – these recipes fall into the category of “What Rachel Thinks Is Health(ier Than What She Usually Eats).” Some of you will think they are WAY too healthy for your taste buds. Others will think they don’t even come close to being healthy. But, either way – hopefully you might see something that interests you. :)

For breakfast, how about some Biggest Loser Oatmeal Pancakes. Add some fresh fruit and you’ve got a great start to your day!


This next recipe could serve as a snack, appetizer or side dish that would be great served along side a sandwich. These Oven Baked Zucchini Chips from The Nutrition Twins look yummy and so easy to make.


I’m a pasta lover, so no round up (even a healthy one) is complete without a pasta dish. This Whole Wheat Pasta with Ricotta and Vegetables from Fitness Magazine looks scrumptious.


I’m also a big fan of rice and beans. They are very filling and usually quite healthy for you. This Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole from Food and Whine would make a fast, fresh side dish or could be a great entree for a Meatless Monday meal.


We gotta have some sweets in here, so how about this Strawberry Jam Crumb Cake from Cooking Light? At 250 calories per slice, it’s not a bad alternative to some of the heavier dessert options I’m known to love.


Now I’m hungry. I need to go downstairs and see if there’s anything healthy to eat. :)


Super Bowl Munchies: A Recipe Roundup

31 Jan

I’m not a big pro football fan, but I’m intrigued by this year’s Super Bowl knowing that the head coaches for both teams are brothers. That should make for an interesting game! And the commercials are usually fun. I always like the Budweiser Clydesdales because the horses are so majestic and one of my all-time favorites is Volkswagen’s The Force spot from a couple of years ago:

{If you are reading this in email,
you may need to click over to the blog to watch the video.}

All right, how about some Super Bowl party recipes?

First up is this Pull-Apart Party Loaf by Land O Lakes. Wow. In addition to the recipe, they also have step-by-step instructions with photos (I don’t know about you, but I need photos when I cook).


For the patient soul, here’s an adorable Fruit Football Helmet from the National Watermelon Promotion Board (who knew there was such a thing??). I’m not patient enough to cut the helmet out of a watermelon, but I could definitely chow down on that fruit.


No football party is complete without nachos and these Chicken and Black Bean Nachos from Women’s Health would satisfy any tummy.

043641_ChxBeanNachos says kids will love these Sideline Beef Sliders, but I’m thinking this big kid would love them, too. :)



4 Blog Posts You Should Read

24 Jan

I subscribe to way more blogs than I can possibly read in a day. Or a week.  Or a lifetime. They’re all so good and I wish I had time to read them all. Sometimes, as I’m skimming the titles, I’ll see a few that catch my attention enough that I’ll read the whole post. I’ve found a few recently that I think are worthy of sharing.


Tracy at Time with Tracy talks about 3 Ways to Be a Remarkable Friend. It’s an interesting perspective and I could learn a lot from her suggestions. So many of us are not necessarily lacking in empathy, we just don’t tap into it enough.

While the idea of praying for your spouse as you fold their underwear is a good one, it’s not what I needed to hear in that moment. I was struggling. My insurmountable laundry wasn’t the problem; it was the symptom.

You can read the rest of Tracy’s post here.

Layla Palmer at The Lettered Cottage has such a great idea for this year! One of her goals is doing random acts of kindness for people, so she had the idea to leave a few anonymous notes for random people in her neighborhood. What a fun idea and great way to perk up someone’s day!

RIGHT before I stuck the sticky note to the mailbox, a mail man came walking through the door, and your girl panicked. I instantly entered a little state-of-being I like to call the Perspiration Station, and proceeded to blurt out something about a “photo project” before he even asked why I was standing there with a camera in one hand, and a sticky note in the other.

You can read the rest of Layla’s post here.

Michael Hyatt is never short on great advice. In his post, Courage Is Not the Absence of Fear, he talks about how he confronted one of his fears – conflict – and dealt with a difficult situation.

Years ago, soon after I became head of one of our publishing divisions, I had to confront one of my authors. He was pleasant and cooperative when I spoke with him. But he was demanding, uncooperative, and downright nasty to my staff. Finally, one of them came to me in tears and said, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t take it any more.”

You can read the rest of Michael’s post here.

Justin Davis at Refine Us has a great piece for any recovering perfectionist and points out some of the struggles perfectionists deal with regularly: unmet expectations, living in defeat, and lacking in joy.

My guess is that some of you are perfectionists too. You have to be perfect at work. You have to have a perfectly kept house. You have to have perfectly behaved kids. You have to be the perfect spouse. You have to be the perfect friend. If you can’t be perfect, then most likely you just put on the facade of perfection. You pretend things are perfect at home; with your kids, in your job. No one can know you may not be perfect, after all.

You can read the rest of Justin’s post here.

I hope you enjoy these posts from some fabulous bloggers. Have a wonderful day, friends!


Farewell 2012 and a Big, Fat Thanks!

31 Dec

We’ve come to the end of another year. 52 weeks of life, love, celebrations, and tears. 365 days of waking and sleeping, praying and hoping, living joyfully and struggling to make sense all wrapped up in one 12-month package called 2012.


It’s been a good year around our home. My maintenance chemo treatments went smoothly and I’m halfway through the 2-year plan. Outside of a lingering cough & ear congestion that has stuck with me for the entire month of December (uugghh…), I’m feeling pretty good. I truly hope the highs of your year outweighed the lows and that you experienced more joy than heartache.

I received a summary of interesting stats about this blog and thought some of them were worth sharing with you guys.

It seems that people who search for and find my blog do so after searching for “blessings in disguise,” “cancer,” “lymphoma,” or “sweet potato casserole.” Sweet potato casserole?? Yep. You guys like food. :) Apparently, the Thanksgiving Favorites post was one of the most viewed posts on the site, along with these other five posts from the year:

1. Courage Does Not Always Roar

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes, no doubt.  Many things that we assume require courage actually do not.  For example, having cancer requires no courage at all, yet people say to me that I am courageous.  Going through treatment does not make me courageous, it makes me hungry…for life.  It makes me desperate to do whatever I can to make sure I get to live the full life that I hope has been planned for me.  It does not make me courageous, it simply makes me willing. {Read more…}

2. Best Oatmeal Cookies I’ve Ever Had

If you like oatmeal cookies, you will want to make these someday soon.  I’m not kidding.  They are amazing – if you like thick, soft, chewy cookies.  They are especially tasty when they are warm.  I’m in love.  :)  This recipe comes from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  I’d heard of her blog before this week and even took a look at it before, but here’s a confession.  {Read more…}

3. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Four months ago, the fact that this month is Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma Awareness Month would have meant nothing to me. (Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma are classified as blood cancers.) If I heard it on TV or saw it online or in print somewhere, I would have breezed right past it without stopping to give it a second glance.  Well, the times, they are a changin’!  {Read more…}

4. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

There are few things that touch my heart more than a child with cancer.  God must give parents whose children have cancer a very special strength because I can’t imagine the pain of watching your child suffer and fight this horrific disease.  There are numerous hospitals around the country that specialize in treating childhood cancer, but there are some that stand out from the rest.  {Read more…}

5. Amazing Grace

Yesterday, we started talking about grace.  The word grace is a big, bold word when you stop and think about it.  It has multiple meanings and can be used in a variety of ways.  But what does grace really mean and how does it apply to our lives?  What does grace really mean?  The word “grace” actually means a lot of things.  {Read more…}

In addition to the riveting knowledge that hungry people like my blog {grin}, the report also told me that you guys are visiting from more than 140 countries. What?? Seriously. How humbling and so incredibly cool.

It’s been a terrific year here on the blog – thanks to each of YOU! I am incredibly grateful that you share a few minutes of your day with me and allow me to blabber on about various things that are sometimes interesting, sometimes silly, but always heart-felt. I appreciate each and every one of you!

Oh, and for a Diet Dr. Pepper update – I splurged on Christmas Day and had one! That’s the only one I’ve had and I really haven’t craved it or wanted to have another one since then. So, I’ve had one Diet Dr. Pepper in the past 62 days. That’s about oh, I don’t know, maybe 70-75 less than I would have had if I were still drinking them. I call that progress. :)

Blessings to you for 2013!

Christmas Card Shoppes {A Round Up}

28 Nov

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of another stinking migraine. :( This one was worst than the Thanksgiving Day migraine. Not fun at all. But once the migraine meds started working late in the afternoon, I was fine. I am crazy grateful for those drugs.

So, here’s a blessing in disguise of lymphoma. When I was going through my first line treatment – I didn’t have headaches. Have no idea why unless the chemo was attacking everything including the little boogers that cause migraines. As my friend, Florence, would say – there’s a perk of having cancer. :)

Because I love all things paper, I am enamored (when was the last time you used the word enamored??) with Christmas card designs. I like the custom ones that allow you to add a photo – or two or three – because they feel so personal and original. With all the print and design choices available, my biggest challenge is selecting which one to use! It can take forever, so I was glad to encounter a great deal yesterday that was only good for one day – so I had to decide quickly and just order them.

I’ve come across some great sites that produce really quality Christmas cards (and invitations, graduation announcements, etc.) and I thought I would share them with you to maybe help you along with your Christmas preparations (if you’re not already familiar with them!).

1. First up is which I used for the first time to create this year’s Christmas card. Can’t wait to get the shipment and see how they turned out!

They are having a GREAT deal right now – 70% off holiday cards (including their folded cards) when you use the code CCN2770 + free shipping. The offer ends today 11/28, so act fast! (I have noticed they’ve been doing lots of good offers, so if you miss this one there will likely be more.)

2. Another favorite is Tiny Prints.

Their designs are classic, modern, and everything in between. I really love them. These are two of my favorites from their 2012 collection.

3. Hallmark is the Grandfather of Christmas cards and they have a nice selection of customizable cards.

They are running a 40% off personalized cards + free shipping special when you use the code CYBER40, which is an excellent deal at Hallmark. They have a very nice selection of non-photo cards that can be personalized which I think is nice because we all know how hard it can be to get everyone together for a photo, right?? :) They also have postcards sizes which could help you save on postage if you are sending out a truckload of cards. Here’s two of my favs.

4. All of the traditional photo sites also have tons of card designs to choose from. Most will also let you upload your own design/image if you are feeling ambitious and want to design your very own card this year! Shutterfly and Snapfish are two of the bigger ones, but you can also order photo cards from most drugstores or mass retailers such as Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart. In my experience, Shutterfly really has good quality cards and they usually have specials running throughout Christmas so you can always get a deal.

Right now, Shutterfly is offering 40% off holiday cards + free shipping. Here are a couple of my favorites from their selection this year:

5. And lastly, for our technology-driven folks who can’t bear the thought of addressing and sending tons of paper cards, there is an excellent (and non-cheesy) option for you now. Paperless Post has created some fantastic designs (including Kate Spade!) that you can personalize with your own photos and words, then email to as many people as you like. The very best – some of these cards are FREE to send. :) There is a charge for other designs, but it is less than what you would pay for print cards. Check it out:

Do you have a favorite card shop? Please share in the comments – I (and others) would like to hear your recommendations!

Have a great day, friends!

Thanksgiving Printables {A Round Up}

19 Nov

Thanksgiving week is here! Can you believe it? We had some beautiful weather in Chattanooga this weekend. Cold mornings, but lots of sunshine and highs in the mid-60s. Doesn’t feel like some of the chilly Thanksgiving weeks of past years . . . but I am not complaining! :)

I love paper. Let me repeat that. I LOVE paper. Cards, prints, journals, anything on paper. I also love printables – especially ones that use typography in beautiful ways. There are so many creative people who enjoy making things to share with others, so I thought I would share with YOU some of the best I’ve found when it comes to Thanksgiving printables.

If you are hosting Thanksgiving at your house, some of these might come in hand as you think about adding a little extra touch to your table decor. If you will be visiting someone for Thanksgiving, consider printing one of these and framing it as a hostess gift. The best part about all of these is that they are FREE for you to enjoy!

This first one is something I put together to remind myself that this is truly a time to give thanks. Thanksgiving is not just about eating good food, watching football, and shopping til we drop – it’s most importantly about remembering all of the ways we are blessed. Click here to download a copy that prints two 5×7 images on a page – one for you to frame or stick on the fridge, and one to give away!

{Background Paper: Happy Now Paper Pack by Pink Paislee}

I like the vintage look of this 8×10 Be Thankful printable from Three Little Monkeys Studio.

If you’re feeling a little ambitious, this Give Thanks banner from At Second Street would look adorable draped across your mantel or even above your buffet table.

Want to send your guests home with some leftovers? Use these sweet Give Thanks labels from It Is What It Is to give their “carry out” meals a personal touch.

This vintage Glad Thanksgiving Wishes postcard from Altered heART Works is just beautiful.

Make a loaf of Pumpkin Bread for your guests and wrap slices with these elegant chalkboard-effect Give Thanks bands and tags from PolkaDot Prints.

This Psalm 100 print from Dear Lillie is the perfect piece to accompany any Thanksgiving decor as it reminds us what it means to truly give thanks. We are so blessed!

I truly hope your Thanksgiving week starts off well and that you make time to stop and think about all of the blessings in your life!