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So I've decided to shut this blog down. But have no fear...I'm starting a new one. I'm calling it, "Better Than Doing Laundry." Why the new blog? Well, as much as I love photography, I can't make it even a part time job right now because of my work schedule. So, rather than give the impression that I'm open for photo jobs (thank you to all who have inquired!), I'm moving my random thoughts and photos to a new home.

Join me over at Better Than Doing Laundry, please? Pretty please? With a cherry on top? And sprinkles too. Because sprinkles make everything happy.

~ Erin ;-D


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{Dinner}
Hope you are enjoying a beautiful Labor Day weekend!

I made a yummy dinner tonight, as you can see from the above photo taken with my super awesome iPhone. I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

Mesclun with Parmesan Vinaigrette {recipe from EatingWell.com}

8 cups of mesclun salad mix (approx 2 bags)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Whisk together Parmesan, oil, vinegar, garlic and mustard. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss with salad greens.

*I made the dressing and used it to dress an individual portion of greens.



Portobello Pizza

1 large portobello mushroom, cleaned and stem removed
2 tbls pizza sauce
5 turkey pepperoni slices
2 Tbls part skim Italian 4 cheese blend shredded cheese (or mozzarella)
pinch of oregano, optional
pinch of hot pepper flakes, optional


Preheat the toaster over (or oven) to 350 degrees.

Line a small tray with foil; spray with cooking spray.

Place trimmed portobello mushroom on pan and cook in oven for 10 minutes.

Pull mushroom out of the oven. Spread pizza sauce on top of mushroom and top with pepperonis, cheese, and oregano and pepper flakes if using.

Bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is brown.


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I picked up my purse and started to walk out the door.

"Wait a second. You're not leaving the house like that, are you?? Did you sleep in those clothes??" she asked me, horrified at the thought.

"Mom, I'm going to WalMart. It's fine. It's only 7AM. It's not like anybody is there. Besides, I'll fit right in."

She stared.

I stared back.

She arched her eyebrow.

I lifted my chin in defiance.

Suddenly, I was 10 again, and we were facing off in the living room. That time, it was over my perceived right to fix my hair. She wanted to french braid it. I wanted to do whatever it is that I wanted to do, which amounted to, "I had no clue what I'm going to do but it's totally going to be the opposite of what you want."

I squirmed.

I cried.

I howled.

I wailed.

She cracked me on the backside with that old pink hair brush that used to be hers when she was a teenager.

The minute that hair brush connected with my bottom, I knew what I was going to do. When she got done braiding my hair, I stood up. I stalked out of her bedroom to the living room. She followed behind me. It was my moment. My moment of defiance. There was no turning back...I knew the consequences.

I grabbed a pillow off the couch, and I turned around to face her. I took the pillow and rubbed it all over my head to mess up my hair.

Yes. Yes, I did. There was something oddly thrilling about it. I had willingly crossed the line. Punishment be cursed! This was my hair on the line.

My mother, bless her heart, could have killed me.

And I knew it.

But she said, "Fine. Do your own hair." But she said it only like a mom could say it. She only said five words out loud, but what she really was saying was, "Fine. You do that, missy. Just you wait. Your hair is gonna look awful. When we go out, I'll get sympathetic nods from other moms who know. I smile and wink back at them. Because they all know what I know. In 10 years you'll look back at the pictures and you will regret it and you will ask me why I ever let you leave the house looking like that and then I'll be happy."

But now, I'm 29. There is no cracking me on the bottom with a hair brush. Funny all the thoughts and feelings that run through your mind in a split second, isn't it?

And then Mom shook her head and said, "You and your father...that's fine."

I WON!!! I WON!!!! HA!

By the way - I count winning as "not getting my backside cracked with a hairbrush."

But in the end, I was a total loser. She played the "Mom-game" on me. Those two words that could be interpreted so many ways plagued me the whole time I was shopping.

"That's fine."

As in, "If you want to look awful, be my guest."

It was one of the most miserable shopping trips ever. I kept thinking about how I looked. Did I look that bad? Does anybody know I didn't change before leaving the house?

I hope she's happy.

She won.

And I hate every photo of myself from age 10 until about age 15. It was like my arms weren't long enough to reach the back of my head to brush my hair or something.


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Do you sometimes feel like you are in a perpetual state of waiting?

When I was a teen, I remember Josh Harris sharing something at a conference that has resonated with me years after (You probably know Josh now as the guy who wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye (although he's written so many more since than). You may have attended one of his New Attitude conferences (now known as NEXT. He may even be your pastor - he's now the Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg.).

"Joshua," his mom Sono told him, "You need to hustle while you wait."

I'm reminded of that message even more as I get older. I feel like I'm still waiting on God for things and I'm getting tired of waiting. How about you?

Maybe you've been waiting on God for your spouse's salvation.
Maybe you've been waiting for God to intervene in your child's drug abuse.
Maybe you're single and tired of waiting for God to bring you your mate.
Maybe you're waiting for God to answer your prayer for a pregnancy.
Maybe you're waiting on God to give you an answer for something deeper.

At the root of the waiting on God is the feeling of His absence. He's not responding to our request and it makes us wonder if He's even listening and hearing what we put before Him. And so, in frustration, we stop hustling. We stop praying, we stop asking, we stop talking to Him. We think He's abandon us. We couldn't be farther from the truth.

I thought I'd share this with you. This is a passage from Chuck Swindoll's book Great Lives From God's Word: Esther.

Don't think for a moment that God is whiling away His time, busy with other things. Remember, He may be invisible, but He is at work. That's the beauty of His invisibility. He can be moving in a thousand places at the same time, working in circumstances that are beyond our control. During a waiting period, God is not only working in our hearts, He's working in others' hearts. And all the while He is giving added strength. Remember Isaiah's words about waiting?


Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
The will mount up with wings like eagles,
The will run and not get tired,
The will walk and not become weary.

-- Isaiah 40:31


Even though the prophet's pen put these words on the sacred page centuries ago, that verse of Scripture is as pertinent and relevant as what you read in the paper this morning - and far more trustworthy.

From this verse we learn that four things happen when we wait:

First: we gain new strength. We may feel weak, even intimidated, when we turn to our Lord. While waiting, amazingly, we exchange our weakness for His strength.

Second, we get a better perspective. It says we "will mount up with wings like eagles." Eagles can spot fish in a lake several miles away on a clear day. By soaring like eagles while waiting, we gain perspective on what we are dealing with.

Third, we store up extra energy. "We will run and not get tired." Notice it's future tense. When we do encounter the thing we have been dreading, we will encounter it with new strength - extra energy will be ours to use.

Fourth, we will deepen our determination to persevere. We "will walk and not become weary." The Lord whispers reassurance to us. He puts steel in our bones, so to speak. We begin to feel increasingly more invincible.

We'll gain new strength. We'll get better perspective. We'll store up extra energy. We'll deepen our determination to persevere. All that happens when we wait. And at the same time, during that period of waiting, nothing is happening - at least nothing visible. You could easily tell yourself at the time, I'm waiting in vain. Nothing's going to change That's what the adversary wants you to think: "Waiting's a waste."

Don't you believe it! When the enemy's message roams into your mind you need to kick it out. Reject it. Look at another verse in Isaiah, just a few verses after the "eagle verse."


Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

"For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'"

--Isaiah 41:10, 13


When you wait, you listen. You pore over a favorite passage in His Word. You quietly give attention to His presence and to His direction.

--Charles Swindoll
Great Lives From God's Word: Esther

If you're in the waiting game, I recommend reading the book of Esther, and maybe even take a trek to the library or your local Christian bookstore to get Charles Swindoll's book. Interestingly, God isn't mentioned in the book of Esther. But He's there. He's all around. He's in the tiniest of details. Be encouraged. The same God who made an orphan girl queen so He could use her to save His people is the same God who is working out the details in your life. Keep hustling, keep praying, keep waiting.


Praying for you,

Erin


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Anytime Peach Coconut Cobbler
I love frozen foods.

Seriously.

I love the convenience.

I could fill my cart to the brim with frozen broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, butternut squash, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, peaches...

Frozen veggies and fruits are frozen at the peak of their freshness, so you're guaranteed great flavor. Unless, of course, you've had the bag sitting in your freezer for 2 years. Not so tasty.

I love it when I buy stuff at the grocery store because I have a coupon or it's ridiculously cheap, cram it in the freezer, and forget about it. It's almost like Christmas when I go shopping in my own freezer and discover the delightfullness hidden inside.


I discovered that I had purchased two bags of frozen peaches. I guess maybe I bought them to make breakfast smoothies? I don't know. I had no idea what I was thinking when I bought them. All I know is I found two bags of frozen peaches, it was a cool and breezy morning, and I was ready to turn the oven on.

I ran through a list of what would go well with peaches that I might have on hand. I remembered some toasted coconut that I had left over from a dessert that I had made a month ago. Peaches? Coconut? Yup. That works for me! Here's what I tossed together...

Anytime Peach Coconut Cobbler
Anytime Peach Coconut Cobbler

Filling:
2 16oz bags frozen peaches
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 Tbls dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp corn starch

Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1 Tbls brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 Tbls shortening
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Make the Filling:
In a large saucepan, combine the peaches, lime zest and juice, and brown sugar (I like my filling on the tart side; if you'd like yours sweeter, by all means add more sugar). Cook over medium heat until the mixture is hot and bubbly - about 10 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with a little bit of water and pour into peach mixture. Let boil for one minute and remove from heat.

Make the Crust:
In a medium bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, toasted coconut, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the shortening until mixture looks like fine crumbs and holds together when squished in your hand. In a small bowl, stir the coconut extract into the milk. Pour milk mixture over flour mixture; stir until combined.

Let's Make It Happen:
Pour the hot peach filling in to a 2 quart dish. Drop large spoonfuls of the crust over the hot peach. Pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is brown. Try not to eat it all at once, OK?

Anytime Peach Coconut Cobbler


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Tree Branch
They blended into the dirt hill. I dropped the bag of groceries I was carrying so I could slam the trunk shut. It landed with a THUD. As soon as the trunk hit the car, their eyes popped open. I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked at them; they looked at me, and then they stood up.

I grabbed the bag of groceries and ran to the house straight ahead. They ran after me. I threw the groceries over my head and that satisfied one of the alligators chasing me. But the other kept coming, fast.

There was a tree near the door. I jumped, catching the branch hanging over the doorway. The other alligator caught up with me. I lifted my feet, but he kept snapping away. I managed to wiggle off my shoe. I tossed it at him and he started chomping on it like it was a Tasty Kake.

I saw my opening.

I wiggled off the other shoe, tossed it at the hungry alligator, swung my body over his head, let go of the tree branch, and landed on the front porch. I swung the door open so fast and ran inside, slamming the door behind me.

The End.

Three thoughts.

1. I'll never drink orange juice before going to bed ever again.

2. This is why my feet MUST be completely covered by blankets while I sleep. I know I wouldn't be dreaming about alligators eating my feet if my left foot had been completely covered.

3. I know I'm dreaming of alligators because that kid found one in the Patapsco.


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IMG_5365
There's been a silent duel over the backyard for years.

Years, I tell you.

Some day he decided the backyard was his.

And that was it.

No contest.

The backyard has been my big brother's since that point. He's done a good job, I'll give him that. Except for the blackberries. He kinda lets them die. But it's not like he hasn't been busy being a police officer and all.

My dreams of planting my own veggies, fruits, herbs in the ground have gone unfulfilled. I've worked around not being able to plant in the ground. I've been planting my herbs in containers. They've survived, but there is something about planting directly in the ground that is so...so...earthy.

When he bought a house this spring, my first thought was, "The backyard is miiiiiiine!!!"

I swooped in faster than a seagull on a french fry at the boardwalk. That plot of land was mine. I hoed that thing. I tilled that thing. I weeded that thing. I poured myself into that plot of land and pulled a hamstring in the process. But it was beautiful. By the time I was finished, I had the most gorgeous herb garden. Not Martha Stewart gorgeous - it's my first year - but it's on its way. I planted 4 varieties of basil (sweet, cinnamon, thai, and globe), parsley, cilantro, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and peppermint. I haven't checked on it for a few days and I nearly fell over when I saw my basil had grown to small bushes. There is no way I was going to use all of that.

The only thing I know of that uses up that amount of basil is...pesto.

I've never made pesto before, but the one drawback for me is the amount of oil. Even though it's good, healthy oil, it's still a lot of fat if you're trying to lose weight. After reading through a number of recipes, I decided to pick my favorite parts of the recipes, smoosh them together, and create my own. I used three varieties of basil from my garden: Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, and Cinnamon Basil. I'm calling this "Trois Pesto de Basilic," which means "Three Basil Pesto." See why I went with the French?

Trois Pesto de Basilic
8 cups loosely packed basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated Romano
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup walnuts
3 Tbls garlic
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil


IMG_5182_combo
These are the three varieties that I used.


IMG_5237
I gathered more basil than I thought I would need and it turns out I actually gathered the right amount. I stripped the stalks and dropped the leaves into a bowl of water to rinse the dirt. I washed the basil three times to be extra sure no one was going to get a surprise bite of dirt. Ew.


IMG_5254
After washing and drying the basil, I loosely packed the leaves into a giant measuring bowl.

IMG_5272
Then I used the food processor to chop/grind some parmesan and romano cheese. There was no way I was going to do that by hand.

IMG_5279
Then I poured in a 1/2 cup of pine nuts.


IMG_5292
I also added a 1/2 cup of walnuts. You could go all pine nuts or all walnuts if you wanted.

IMG_5300
I pulsed the nuts until they were ground. I added 1/2 cup each of the parmesan and romano cheese, and then added a giant handful of basil leaves on top.


IMG_5307
I flipped the food processor on and slowly drizzled in the half of the olive oil. After a quick taste, I realized I hadn't added any garlic, so I threw in 3 Tbls of chopped garlic.


IMG_5315
I kept adding basil leaves and the rest of the oil until it all came together. Delicious! I purchased some 4 ounce canning jars at Wal-Mart for about $8. I love those little jars. Aren't they adorable?? They're sooo shiny and sparkly.


IMG_5333
I packaged them up in small portions so I could give them away at work. The little labels came with the jars thankfully. You could be uber creative and create your own tags, but I'm happy with the little sticky labels.

So what do you with the pesto? Well, you could use it over hot pasta noodles, over gnocchi, over grilled chicken or steak, over fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. You could also stir it into some mayo or sour cream and use as a dip/spread. You could spread it in place of pizza sauce on pizza dough - top with tomato slices and fresh mozzarella and bake. The possibilities are endless. Either way, pesto is a great way to use up a major overabundance of basil. I think I've got enough to make another 3 batches. And I'm not complaining :).


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