Quick and Easy Spring Rolls

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls || amayawrites

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls || amayawrites

I have had a hankering for Asian food this year. Back in Spokane, there was a delicious restaurant called Taste of Thai that I may have eaten at twice a month last fall.

Now that I am home, there are many less spontaneous Asian food runs. But I still get my fix with these spring rolls, which I eat almost every day for lunch. To be honest, the “fix” is for peanut sauce, but I can’t just eat that with a spoon now, can I?

Once a week, I make a big bowl of vegetable “coleslaw”. For my simple tastes, I just toss red cabbage, bell pepper, and cilantro. You may enjoy adding hot peppers, lettuce, tofu, carrots, pork, shrimp, avocado, jicama, radish, cucumbers, and other herbs. When farmer’s markets open again, this would be a great recipe to help you shop the season and use fresh produce.

To soften the rice paper, just run it under cold water and let it rest on a plate. In a few minutes, it’ll be pliable and ready for fillings. No soaking required!

And talk about budget-friendly! Even in the winter, the vegetables for these rolls only cost about $5. The package of rice paper wrapping will last about a month and is $4.

This is a great recipe for clean-eating, too. The vegetables are raw, high in water, fiber, and vitamins, and low in fat. I don’t feel guilty dressing it up with peanut sauce or chili garlic sauce. And if you don’t like messing around with rice paper, this “slaw” goes great on top of rice noodles or in a vegetable-based soup.

It’s easy for me to ignore or snack my way through lunch, but as part of my vision for 2015, I am committing to putting time into making food that I enjoy. Do you like lunch, or could you pass on it?

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My Five Favorite Kitchen Goodies

Most of you know that I recently graduated and I am now living at home in Colorado Springs. As I was laying in bed yesterday, it was still hard to believe that I won’t ever have to relocate or live alone again!

One of my favorite things about being home is getting back to cooking. I’m not a gourmet chef by any means. I don’t eat a lot of meat, I’m still learning what spices do what, and I didn’t grow up with heirloom recipes, like cookies or casseroles. I recently tried to bake yeast bread, but instead I discovered three ways to bake bricks. But I still love it. My kitchen is my favorite place in the house, and part of the charm are my favorite appliances lining my counter space.

1. Kitchenaid Mixer

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

I was NOT expecting to have this until after the wedding, but on Christmas day Ben put a heavy box on my lap and this was in it. In red. I am still learning how to use it to its full potential, but just as an example of how it’s already changing my life, I made waffles the other morning and even put in the effort to whip the egg whites.

2. Bialleti Moka ExpressMoka Pot

I make coffee with this every morning for a rich, dark brew that I mix with equal parts almond milk. With fresh grounds, it even produces a small amount of crema. To keep my pot newer longer, I boil my water in my kettle first, then put it in the bottom chamber. That way, the actual Moka pot spends a lot less time on direct heat, and I don’t have to wait as long for the coffee.

3. CrockpotCrockpot

The “-riginal” slow cooker! We really love our crockpot to death for making whole chickens and roasts. My basic recipe is four quartered potatoes, half an onion, diced, four cloves of garlic, minced, and half a cup of liquid (either water or a splash of whatever wine is open). Last year, I made coq au vin in the Crockpot and it turned out fantastic.

4. Immersion BlenderImmersion Blender

I make a smoothie many times a week. For single servings, this immersion blender is perfect because I don’t have to rinse out a big blender pitcher (don’t you hate how those little berry seeds stick to the sides?). This has also been valuable for blending parakeet food (more on how we care for our birds later).

5. Olive Oil MisterOil Mister

We received this vaporizer as a gift from our real estate agent. Just a few pumps and it produces a nice, even spray of our own olive oil, great for browning onions, lining a baking pan, or separating pasta

I hope you enjoyed this list and that it inspired you to take a grateful survey of your favorite things around your house. What are you must-have kitchen items?

My Most Visited Blogs

Sometime in the morning, I like to check in with my favorite blogs to see if there is any new content. Here is a tidy list of the ones I visit most. As a bonus, I search for them using the Swagbucks search bar, so that I can get points towards free gift cards. I hope that my own blog will grow into a mix of everything I love about these. What are your favorite blogs?

Faith:

Norbly

Ungrind

Zenhabits

Lifestyle:

Light by Coco

Simply Clarke

Wool and Wanderlust

Fashion:

Un-Fancy

Merrick’s Art

The Beauty Department

Creativity

The Yarn Harlot

Alisa Burke

Lena Danya

My 2015 Vision Board

I was inspired by this post from Light by Coco to make a vision board. Here is how I am visualizing 2015!

2015visionboard

Images sourced from Pinterest searches

From right to left, top to bottom:

  1. Do a handstand. Build strength. Continue my yoga practice. Stay strong.
  2. Run more. Make a habit of it. Increase distance. Find new trails.
  3. Keep a prayer journal. Be consistent. Be faithful. Become a prayer warrior.
  4. Keep an art journal. Be consistent. Improve on texture. Improve on light.
  5. Keep knitting. Use yarn from the stash. Make my first sweater.
  6. Give better gifts. Remember birthdays. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  7. Maintain my blog. Post regularly. Keep up social interactions. Take more pictures for it.
  8. Do more “big girl” paperwork. Help with taxes, mortgage. Create and maintain a budget.
  9. Curate my wardrobe. Nicer shoes. Sleeker shirts. Increase professionalism.
  10. Pray more.
  11. Communicate. Makes more calls. Skype more. Remember birthdays. Friends, family, acquaintances.
  12. Eat what I love. Indulge in complicated dishes. Fill the pantry with my favorites.
  13. Bake a perfect loaf of bread.
  14. Handle my anxiety. Journal. Talk. Breathe. Fight back. Stay positive. Remember to smile.
  15. Work toward my dream. Get my sub license. Assistant teach. Stay sharp. Find a mentor.

The Problem with “Basic”

Dear Women Who Call Themselves and Others “Basic”,

I see you on social media. You with your coffee drinks, earmuffs, puff coats, boots, skinny jeans, and the same caption over and over again: “Having a basic day…feeling so basic…”. And you’re saying this maybe because you’re laughing at yourself. Maybe you grew up trying to go against the grain but now that the daily high temperature is a balmy 30 degrees you’re realizing that hey! scarves and puff coats and coffee are comfy! Maybe you think it’s hilarious that you twin with other girls on a regular basis.

But I’m worried that when you call yourself basic, part of you really thinks you’re basic. I’m worried your buying into this latest trend that has labelled your outward appearance and beverage choice as an expression of your inward self, calling you expendable, monotonous, routine, and unnoteworthy.

I’m writing to you because nothing could be further from the truth. The Tuesday service at my university is working through the book of Ephesians. Talking about Ephesians 1, our preacher pointed out that no one wants to feel like they are on the losing team. Most of all, no one wants to feel like they are the last choice. You know, when you’re lined up against a wall while team captains pick their teams, and you know you’re not the cream of the crop. You feel basic. But God’s truth has a different message: you are so important, so vital to Him, and so essential that you were “predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

There’s nothing basic about that.

So whatever you have in your hand, around your head, over your shoulders, and on your feet this season, remember that you are so priceless that before your first breath you were set-apart. Don’t let anyone diminish you. Does their opinion matter over God’s truth? Me, I’ll play the game, run the good race while I’m here on Earth. But I’m playing for God’s team, because He picked me first before all others.

Basic

The Uniform

I don’t mind having a uniform look. In the cold weather, it’s a long sleeved shirt, slim pants, boots, and a scarf. Really, it’s almost too common, but I try to add edge to it. Today, I tucked black jeans into brown boots and I clashed my maroon sweater with a rich blue, tasseled scarf.

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Now I’m off to go choose a different outfit. I just smeared my sleeve in cinnamon roll frosting.

How I Manage A Capsule Wardrobe in College

I didn’t mean to end up with a capsule wardrobe. I’m aware of the process and admire the concept, but packing for my last semester of undergrad, I didn’t think about putting together a small wardrobe, or keeping my items under a certain number. I did ruthlessly choose only the items that I loved and felt comfortable in. I did a few edits this weekend, pulling out my few summery pieces and putting them away. I put everything back in my closet and did a quick count. Including my two jackets and two cocktail dresses, I have 35 items.wadrobe.jpg

Not all of my clothes are pictured, and I didn’t count my scarves or shawls even though they are picture.

The totals are:

  • 4 skirts
  • 2 body-con dresses
  • 2 cocktail dresses
  • 4 pants
  • 5 sweaters
  • 2 dolman tops
  • 4 nice tee-shirts
  • 2 plain black long sleeve shirts
  • 1 denim button-up
  • 4 tank tops
  • 3 cardigans
  • 2 coats

I do laundry about twice a month; it’s easier now that I am wearing boots because before I was limited by the number of invisible socks I have. I wear most of my garments twice before washing them, unless they get stained. It’s not apparent to anyone that I have a small wardrobe, or else they’re just not commenting on it.

I’m just so pleased every time I open my little closet and see my favorite things; looking put together has become convenient because I simply don’t have very casual clothes (by choice – capsule wardrobes can certainly exude casual style if the owner desires). Even when I wear my wide-legged jeans and a loose sweater, the colors and fabric are on point so it never looks sloppy.

I can tell that I am on the verge of needing to replace a fair amount of my items as my taste in fabric changes (matures, maybe). For example, I have a bright red sundress that is made with a very swingy jersey; it was a favorite when I got it a few years ago, but these days I desire a thicker, sturdier fabric for dresses and will probably replace it with a ponte fabric piece. Some of my items are getting to be four years old and starting to look it with pilling and color fading. I am starting to research the lifespan of higher-end clothes, as these four-year old items are the exception, not the norm, of the places I tend to shop at.

Capsule Wardrobe Resources:

How I Care for my Clothes

A few simple practices have allowed me to keep my clothes fresh-looking, well-maintained, and wearable for many years. Besides learning to recognize good fabrics and quality brands, these care tips are how I stretch the lifespan of my clothes.

  • I wash all my clothes in cold water in the machine. Workout clothes, sweaters, undergarments, and washable hand-knits are all put in. If I have to hand-wash, I still use cold water.
  • I turn anything with lace, a printed design, or other appliques inside out to prevent fading and fraying. Like this Xhiliration dress from Target.

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  • I also turn my dark denim inside out to prevent fading and bleeding onto other objects. Like this Ann Taylor Loft pencil skirt

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  • I put all bras, fancier undergarments, and hand-knit socks in these mesh lingerie bags from Target. They sell for under $2 and are great to have on hand. I also place any garment with long ties, such as this teal shirt, so that the ties won’t get wrapped and stretched during the wash.

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  • If it’s not a casual tee shirt, workout clothes, plain underwear, or jeans, then it gets air dried. This might be why my clothes stay fresh for so long. This does mean my drying rack is overflowing and there are sweaters drying on towels on top of the machine. But when I remember that lint is frayed fibers from your clothes, I am happy to take this step to ensure that my items don’t wither away bit by bit. If my clothes seem to have dust or fibers on them, I use a lint roller, which is much gentler.
  • I hang most of my clothes on appropriate, sturdy hangers. If I feel that a dress is especially drapey and heavy, I will take its weight off the straps by looping the skirt of the dress back up over the hanger. This helps it keep its shape longer.
  • I don’t fold my hand-knit socks in each other, because this stretches out the yarn and I find that the sock that was folded over the other tends to fit looser around my ankle. Commercial socks with more nylon can handle this.
  • I put on and remove my clothes carefully. This means not tugging at sweaters, pulling up my jeans by the belt loops, or taking off my shoes by pressing the back of the heel down (like the picture below). I unzip, unlace, and unclip everything.

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My go-to brands for quality and longevity are Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft, Mossimo (Target) for shoes, Take Out (Kohls) for cardigans, Hanes Concealing Petals for bras, and C9 (Target) for activewear. If a cotton item (like tees and jeans) is very soft, I usually won’t buy it because it doesn’t tend to hold up. I avoid slub knit fabric because it pills unevenly and looks “tired” very fast. My most tenacious purchases have been a pair of cardigans by Take Out (at Kohls) which are a cotton and acrylic blend. They are nothing fancy, upscale, or even very soft, but I’ve worn them at least once a week for the past four years and they are still good as gold. So sometimes you can find surprises, although two Take Out pullovers I bought the same year lasted just one season because they pilled immediately

I hope these tips help you with the care of your wardrobe.