Wednesday

Top ten...

current events in my life... (in no particular order)

1. I've scheduled a physical for Scott and myself.... anxiety is slowly creeping in

2. really wishing that there was a fort in my living room.. #weekendproject

3. currently cuddled up in my Mizzou blanket, next to my honey, with Molly laying on my legs... some of my favorite moments

4. just got home from the fall festival at church.. the costumes were adorable.. I opted for feeling like a little girl again...


5. community is not always easy... but I whole heartedly believe it is worth every tough moment

6. desperately wanting some pumpkin pie

7. currently loving my job and learning so much about all things HR and loving ever second of it

8. stoked to be in my brother's wedding in March... so happy for both of them... here is one of their engagement pics -- such a beautiful couple!!! (more on these 2 to come...)


9. having a hard time parting with my car.. but it must be done #dowhatyagottado

10. my house is in desperate need of my attention.. yet I continue to ignore it

what is going on w/you?!  Good, bad, and the ugly?


Tuesday

Today...

I'm sending love the best way I know how...


things I wish were true about letters:

-stamps were free
-I received one everyday
-my hand never starts hurting from writing so much
-I could send my eye to capture one's reaction to getting one of my letters in the mail (in a very non-creeper kind of way)
-I could write letters for a living
-that this was everyone's love language (but not really... I like that we're all different... just work w/me here... stamps would be cheaper this way!!)
-I could create Halmark - 'fresh ink' cards for a living... these cards are seriously made after my own heart
-the passion for written letters would sweep the nation - again this would make stamps cheaper


What are your thoughts about letters?!  Wish list?

Monday

Mexican Grilled Cheese...

.... or some would call this a Quesadilla.  Whatever you title it, it sure is a staple around this house....

You will need:

soft flour tortillas (whatever size you desire- we get soft taco/fajita size)
spreadable butter
mexican style finely shredded cheese
salsa

1. butter all necessary tortillas for the meal-- once you start grilling... you won't have time to butter.  Now- I suppose you could try to health this puppy up by using EVOO instead of butter... I haven't tried that... but might just have to next time I make them!


2. put buttered side down on the hot skillet, quickly add the desired amount of shredded mexican cheese and quickly add the top tortilla (buttered side up).

3. Flip them over once golden brown... or to desired color on each side.


4. I use a pizza slicer to cut them into slices and add the good ol' salsa to the middle of the plate!

5. ENJOY!! It is THAT simple!!!

What are some of your favorite quick and easy meals?

Thursday

These girls...

These girls... So I mentioned this reunion a several posts back... well I have been thinking about these ladies and want to tell you just a little bit about them...


I love these girls.  From Left to Right is: Renee, Candace, me, and April.

Renee:  She is beautiful, spunky, artsy, and a passionate teacher.  She has a sweet spirit that is revealing of her core beauty.  I had the opportunity to be in a summer book study with her, and the other 2sday Girlz - where we went through Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  It was so encouraging to discuss this book with her, and hear her heart.  She was such a blessing to have in that group- and she is also a part of Launch (young adult Bible study) which I have (and will continue) talked about before.

Candace:  She is loyal, creative, fashionable, a great cook, and an adorable wife and momma.  She and I are kindred spirits in the way of organization queen-ness.  She and I met at youth group in high school at our church and have been good friends ever since, and we were lucky enough to go to college together.  She has a way of making things beautiful- regardless of their original state.  She is so crafty it is almost sickening :)   I love that after so many years... we still attend church together-- and remain in the same community of friends.  

April Elaine:  She is the sweetest thing on 2 legs, thrifty, soooo encouraging, beautiful, and she is the best friend a girl could ask for! She is my best friend.  You know it is a true friendship when you are roommates in college--- and still friends afterwards.  lol  We have been best friends for 12+ years and we know waaaayyyy too much about one another.  We love 'Friends' together-- quoting it often.  We go weeks without seeing one another and yet each time we are able to get together... its like not even a day has gone by.  We are so much alike and yet so different... the balance we are to each other is so beautiful!  We have discovered who we are together and dug into scripture together.  We have cried so many happy and sad tears together, we have laughed so hard we cry... I am so loved by this girl. 

Ahhhh.. that feels good to write out.  I love so many other ladies in my life... just wait-- I'm sure you'll hear all about them if you stick around long enough!


Who has been a blessing in your life today?  


#blessed

Also - check out my new 'About Ray' tab at the top of my blog... getting fancy on ya - I know! 



Wednesday

i am weak.

During launch last week we talked about gratitude.  It was beautiful.

Kandy so wonderfully defined gratitude as: embrace with gladness what God has put before me, having trust that when we have His perspective one day in heaven... we will agree with His decision... we will agree that He did what is best for us

wow.  even in the good, bad, and ugly.  that stings a little... I can't say that my attitude, my life has always been marked with gratitude.  Lord, I pray you overwhelm me with this type of gratitude

Something that really stood out to me near the end of our study was a discussion about being weak.  "I don't thank God for my weaknesses" was said... well duh- who does, right?

That seems so silly, Raylene, to thank Him for a way it seems as if He failed in me.  Yeah- that was my first thought as well, internet.

Do you realize that when we recognize our weaknesses, it should remind us of how powerful and strong He is!

The fact that I have weaknesses strengthens Him and His power in my mind... my weaknesses should remind me of His power.  My weaknesses should continually keep me dependent on Him... my weaknesses should keep me turning to Him

Lord, I want to be thankful for my weaknesses because it strengthens you... and not dwell on my weaknesses and see them as failures, but rather see them as turning points to you.

Well - I can tell you this much.. after that discussion I'm going to try to start thanking the Lord for my weaknesses....

Tuesday

Chocolate Eclair Cake!!

Scott's favorite dessert....

Not a huge chocolate fan?  Don't worry- this doesn't have much - just a top layer of chocolate frosting.  Trust me.. this one is worth a try!

You will need:

For the Filling:
1 box of grahm crackers
3 1/2 cups milk
2 small boxes of french vanilla instant pudding
1- 8oz tub of cool whip

For the frosting:
2 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate
2 tsp karyo syrup
2 tsp vanilla flavoring
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. After you gather your ingredients you will want to make the filling first.  Start with putting your 3 1/2 cups of milk in your mixer and then add both boxes of instant french vanilla pudding and let the mixer do it's job for 2 minutes. 

2. Once the milk and pudding mix is completely mixed, add the 8 oz container of cool whip and mix until completely blended.  While this is mixing, coat your 9X13 pan with butter and then line with graham crackers.  Once the cool whip is mixed in, pour 1/2 of the filling over the layer of graham crackers.  Then lay another layer of graham crackers, and add the rest of the filling over that layer.  Then add a final layer of graham crackers to the very top.


3. Whew... you've worked hard so far... so take a moment... breath... and lick the bowl.  ... What?  It is a legit step, internet... don't get sassy.


4. Ok, now you are sugared up and ready to go.  Time to melt the 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate, 3 tbsp butter, 2 tsp kayro syrup (yes it is nearly impossible to get it all out of the measuring spoon... just get over it), 3 tbsp milk, and 2 tsp of vanilla flavoring all together.  I use the microwave, but I guess if you're a super pro you can use the stove to melt these items.  As you melt, be sure to stir regularly.


5. Ok.. here is the tricky part... put on your superhero cape, cat-like reflexes, or your ninja skills... whatever it takes... this has to be quick.  You've got all of the ingredients from step 4 melted... now it is time to add the 1 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (I suggest having this pre-measured and waiting for you).  So... quickly add and stir the powdered sugar into the chocolate mixture.  Quickly spread over the top layer of graham crackers before it gets too cool to spread.  Don't worry too much about any clumps of powdered sugar... doesn't hurt anyone.  Just be sure to cover the entire top layer with goodness.


6. Ahhhh... you got it spread.  Now you can enjoy must cover and put in the fridge for 24 hours to set up.  THEN you can enjoy!  #soooooworththewait



Let me know what you think when you try it!!


Monday

#blessed

So every 6 weeks or so we get together with some good friends, Jamie and Gregg.

So rewind about 18 years... insert Jamie into my young and oh so 'I-think-I'm-wise-and-so-ocool' life... oh little did I know. :)

So Jamie and I grew up at the same church, she was a sponsor for my youth group and the Lord placed my on her heart.  (I'm not sure if that's exactly true... but I'm going with it)  Somehow, the Lord grew our relationship.  Jamie became so much more to me than a youth sponsor.  She became my mentor, and my friend!

I actually remember the first time I realized just how blessed I was to have Jamie in my life and as my mentor growing up... we were at a fall retreat down at Windemere and we were in a hotel-ish type of lodge instead of the typical 6 person cabins.  ...I remember so vividly this moment.. we were having our nightly room devotionals with your room leader (Jamie was of course my room leader)... and she had us each close our eyes and she began to paint a word picture in our minds.  It was so beautiful.  It was Zepheniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."   IT was one of the defining moments in my relationship with the Lord because it started to change my view of God from just a father who is strong/tough/just/mighty/powerful... into a father that is relational and desires intimacy with His children.

It is amazing because Jamie has been in my life for over 18 years and she continues to be a mentor and a dear friend.  She and I can share things and thoughts we've had with one another knowing that our love for one another is unconditional.  There is no judgement, just love, honesty, encouragement... transparency at its finest.  It is beyond beautiful... it is God-glorifying!




We have cried together, laughed together, spoke truth to one another, encouraged one another, laughed some more, had spouts of distance between us.... and in all of it - the Lord was glorified.

That mentor-type of relationship is so important.  I know I've talked about it before, but I believe the Lord set up the church to be full of these relationships.  He tells us in Titus 2 to have these relationships... why do we drag our feet?  Are we afraid of letting someone that close?  Are we scared of judgement from the other party?  Will they use the trusted information against me one day?  Will they really be as honest to me as I am to them?  It will take too long to get to that point, Raylene!  Oh I have that kind of relationship with a brother or sister or other family member.. I don't need anyone else?

what is it?  What is it that keeps us from letting others in?  We need to protect our heart, I realize that.... wisdom must be present when finding/pursuing these relationships.  Lets attempt to remove the excuses and crutches and let ourselves be vulnerable, transparent, honest with another lady (gentleman if you're a guy).

I know that this relationship is what gave me the passion and desire to serve the youth ministry when I grew up... I'm so blessed to be a part of the SWBC grounded ministry.  #swbclove

I could go on for hours about this one, ya'll... so we'll bring this one back up... don't you worry :)

Wednesday

my favorite feature...

I love my hair.

Ok... I said it.  Internet, I truly believe that my hair is my best feature!  I LOVE my hair.  So, for the last several years I have spoiled my hair but going to an amazing hair stylist here in town and paying too much and justifying it because 'I learn something new about my hair every time'... I loved this educational piece to my visit to the salon.  Also, it has always been kind of a mother-daughter date of ours to get our hair cut together.  

So I went out on a limb this time guys... I mean... I was probably the most adventurous I've ever been this last weekend.  so... happy birthday, Jen!  (Yes... today is her bday!  Swing by and leave her a comment on her special day!)



So back to my adventurous weekend... It all started with a party for Jen's bday... we ate at OK Joes BBQ (the best BBQ in KC) and came back to her house for some cake balls (minus the chocolate coating).



When all of the sudden... I was inspired... by this photo found on Jen's pinterest... so you can all blame her for this moment of weakness adventure....


Great hair.. right?!  So right away.. we got to work... here is the before (front and back):


I didn't really realize just how long my hair had gotten... wow... 

So then came the scissors... I was not a little anxious - I guess you could say :)


There was no turning back now.... 

a few additional grey hairs and 7 inches later...


Some have said... 'this cut gives you a neck'... I'm going to choose to take that as a compliment :)  

Needless to say.... my head weighs a whole 3 lbs less than it did this time last week-- I'm sure of it!

The crazy thing is... that SEVERAL ladies around me are making dramatic changes to their hair.. or contemplating a dramatic change.  What is it about Fall and girls' hair?  Seriously....  

On another note... today is the birthday of a very special friend, Jen!  You all know her so well-- at least if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time-- you know she is a good friend of mine.  I love this lady.... and today is a celebration of Jen!

17 Reasons I love Jen:

1. Her red-headed spirit
2. Her love for people - this girl has a HUGE heart... she often neglects her own heart to serve someone else
3. She and I are going through the same lifestyle change- together
4. She is sassy (can we say kindred spirits?)
5. She laughs at my jokes
6. She has a love for children I can't understand-- we have coined her the 'child whisperer' 
7. Her random outbursts of children's church songs
8. She teaches me so much... fashion, hair styles, cooking, home decor... you name it.. this girl can do anything
9.  She is motivating
10. She has a huge lovable dog, Kody
11. She desires genuine community-- and takes the good with the bad
12.  Her love for the Lord
13. She is hilarious
14. Her calming spirit
15.  Her love for starbucks
16. The fact that she gets routine pedicures
17.  Her random outbursts of disney movie theme songs

What adventures have you been on the past week?

Tuesday

Taverns...

I know, internet... ANOTHER recipe.  Call me crazy....

Today I am going to share a T-family special.  Scott has grown up with these things called 'Taverns'... I know- I still don't know where the name comes from.

Basically 'Taverns' are a family version of 'Sloppy Joes'.... and I was skeptical as well ... but trust me- If I like them.. you probably will too.

To make Taverns... you will need:

-1 lb of ground beef (I typically go for the 93/7 to help the health factor)
-1 Package of hamburger buns
-Chili Powder
-Garlic Powder
-1 Can of Campbells Tomato Soup (yup.. you read that right)
-Cheese -- single slices (optional... I like them with cheese... Scott prefers them plain... which is the  traditional (family) way to eat them)



1. Brown the ground beef and add a little bit of garlic powder, and a healthy dose of chili powder. (Sorry.. no measurements... I know I've told you before that I don't use recipes... so don't get sassy with me)

2. After mixing the spices into the beef, add the can of tomato soup and stir until completed mixed.  Let the mixture get hot... you will see the color of the soup will get darker as the spices marry with the liquid.  *Disclaimer:  I have no idea if that is really why the color changes... but it sounds like something I'd say if I were hosting a cooking show*

3. ENJOY!



I know... it is THAT simple!  We usually either make oven potatoes, corn on the cob, or crescent rolls as our side dish.  Tonight we had yummy sweet corn on the cob!

Let me know if you try them!!!

Monday

Gettin' Personal...

Sunday evening service is something I have grown to look forward to each week.... right along with Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, and Thursday nights... :)  No but really-- I truly missed getting to be a part of the Sunday evening service while I was in school the past 2 years.

I'm excited to be back and what a blessing it has been..  We are currently going through 2 Timothy together on Sunday evenings and oh man is it heavy, and light, and beautiful, and ugly, and everything in between.  I. love. it.

We are discussing the personal relationship that Paul had with Timothy.. and through that understanding of their relationship-- dissecting the letter Paul writes to Timothy.  Yup- tears have been shed over these discussions- no joke!

We started off a few weeks ago talking about 'building relationships centered on christ'.  It was all about personal relationships.  We learned how close Paul and Timothy truly were.  They lived so much life together... good bad and ugly.  They shared genuine love for one another.

We discussed 4 ways to encourage gospel faithfulness in a personal way and a couple of the points really stood out:

1. Through personal prayer (vs 3)
         - How many in this church do I pray for constantly b/c of my shared service to the gospel?
         - The more you pray for someone... the closer you will become to that person

2. Through personal relationship (vs 4)
         - Paul says 'I remember your tears... I long to see you'... there is power in face to face community with one another.  He desired to see Timothy to be filled with joy.  How beautiful.. who around us do we invest in and are invested into enough that seeing them would bring joy... to our core?
         - They had been through war against sin together

some truly challenging questions/thoughts were posed during the sermon...

-Often times we personalize with others through social events... we don't struggle through sin together- instead we are embarrassed by it or feel as if judgment will be placed on us for struggling with sin.  Instead we hide it, and put on the 'church face'... do we realize the intimate community we are missing out on when we do that?  We don't build a personal relationship around Christ, we don't discuss the word and His promises/commands together... we 'fellowship' and yet leave the heart of the matter out of it.

Why don't we get personal?
     - We will get hurt... people won't meet expectations
     - By exposing our hearts to others... gives them ammo to use against us
     - We live in 'what ifs' of getting personal
     - Maybe we don't want others to know the details of our lives/hearts
     - Maybe this type of relationship was never modeled for me and no one has approached me for this type of relationship so that is why it is avoided
_____________

I feel so blessed because I can truly say that I have this type of community.  Is it perfect - uh NO.  But it is beautiful regardless.  We have surrounded ourselves most closely with people who love the Lord and who share a passion for intentional conversations, community, food, laughter, truth as we do.  We do struggle through things together... we love each other hard.  We accept truth in all forms... but work hard to deliver though truth to one another with love and grace.

One of the hardest things about trying to create this type of community that is full of vulnerability, honesty, transparency, love, tears, and laughter is that some don't accept the invitation.  Just as we discussed a few sunday evenings ago... some fear being hurt... some fear letting their guard down enough to let someone in.  Some fear embarrassment or judgment.  This breaks my heart.  I've been there... it wasn't until later in college that I started to find the beauty in this genuine community concept.  I started questioning things like, 'why do we feel as if we must play a certain role when at church on sundays?'... why do we put on a 'face'... and maybe I'm the only one in the entire world that has ever done that.  I'm sick of it... why do we feel the need to be fake around those God placed in our lives with the intention of struggling/crying/laughing/loving one another together?

One of the questions I wrestled with during my early years of college was.. 'do I feel more comfortable outside of the church than I do inside?'  To be honest (as you know I will try to be)... I did feel more comfortable outside of the church than inside.  Sad- I know.  So I took a journey of my heart and found out why... I feared each of the things listed above about getting personal with my church family.  Brings me to tears just thinking about it... I can't imagine making it without this community I've been so blessed with.

Yes- there are tough relationships... but I must continue being as genuine as I know how and love hard and love often.  It can really hurt--putting your heart out there-- you might even lose friendships over trying to love hard... some will endure these tough seasons... some wont.  but through it all... some how... God is glorified (period)

If you're interested in hearing the whole message referenced above (which I highly suggest) it is called 1 Timothy 1:1-7 from 9/23/2012 given by none other than PBC.


Thoughts?

What does your community currently look like?  What would you like it to look like?

Wednesday

Lifestyle update...

So remember this post:  'I'm baaaaccckkkk'?

Well let me remind you that when I returned to the blog world, I mentioned how I was turning a new leaf in the way I live life around food.  I promised a few things on the post:

1) I will be honest about this journey
2) I will update you on this journey
3) I will neither obsess over nor neglect the type/amount of food I intake - but will focus on respect and moderation

I'm sticking to my promise... so here is the latest:

1) I will be honest about this journey:

This has been a MUCH slower process than I anticipated.  I knew I wouldn't see changes overnight... but the waiting is the hardest part for my inpatient self.

I have been tempted to make this a 'weekly update' on the ol' blogg-a-roo but as of now... I'm not convinced that I would be able to keep my promise #3 if it were weekly.  So- hope you enjoy the ever-so-often updates instead :)

I need motivation and encouragement.  I do get some of this from my WW leader.  She lost over 140lbs a few years ago and she is very motivating- so I do enjoy my Monday night meetings.  I also like these b/c I have a couple of others that attend them with me... that always helps.  I will say that the weight jars that Jen and I made have been somewhat motivating as well:



2) I will update you on this journey:

Since my original post declaring this lifestyle change... I have lost a total of 6.2 lbs.  See what I mean... it has been an up and down last several weeks.  But I'm standing by the 'slow and steady wins the race' mantra.

I am tracking my food.... this week.  I am working out more - however it has NOT become an obsession... which is exactly the healthy balance I need.  Praying it stays that way.

3) I will neither obsess nor neglect the type/amount of food I intake - but will focus on respect and moderation:


Deep down I know that I don't want to 'quick fix diets'... where you take the magical pill and lose 30 lbs and 30 days.  While my prideful self wishes that were the case... I know that I would never be able to practice respect of balance and moderation with that type of lifestyle.  Also.. what happens when you run out or stop taking the pills because an ideal weight has been obtained?  Exactly!  So I'm having to remind myself of these things every time I wish I could get into my early college year jeans tomorrow. 

I know that the Lord is using this as a way to instill some consistency and patience in my life... and I'm so thankful for that.  

____

I'm continually relying on the goodness of God to be my motivation and to speak truth and respect to my heart.  He is constantly showing me what balance truly is and that, my friends.. is beautiful!

Tuesday

Titus 2: 'Older Women...'

So currently the youth group is split up between girls and guys for a 10 week study.  The guys are discussing guy things... I imagine... and the girls are discussing girl things- for sure!

A couple of weeks this passage was mentioned:

Titus 2
"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you."

While I have heard this passage so many times, it has been replaying in my mind all week.  I continue to dwell on the section that says:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

Thinking through what this really means... what does this look like for me?  I love the investment I'm making in the youth ladies-- they are so good for my heart and I often times feel like I'm truly getting the better end of the deal.

I often wonder if I'm being as proactive as I should about the other side of the coin... So -- I'm being the 'older women' to some... but am I being intentional about who the 'older women' to me are?  I mean-- I have to bring Launch into the picture here.  I am blessed beyond words by this community, and by Kandy -- she has such a beautiful heart and I have learned so much from being in community with her and watching her deal with life.  The ladies at Launch are all very unique... no one has the exact same taste in clothes, or music, or hobbies... but that is exactly what I love about it.  Wow... so much to say about Launch... and I'm going to save it for another post.

Kind of random today... but thats what I've got for ya. #sorrynotsorry

What does this look like for you?

Monday

Fajita love...

I'm not the kind of girl that is an awesome cook... the kind that can make anything taste amazing...

But I've been asked several times over the years about my fajitas - which is, by the way, my favorite food group.  So I thought I'd share my 'recipe'... insert air quotes here b/c I don't typically use a recipe... but here goes nothin':

First you'll need:

-Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless)  I like the pre-packaged 'stir fry' chicken strips from HyVee
-2 medium green peppers (HyVee only had tiny ones so I used 3)
-1 large red pepper
-2 Small/medium size vidalia onions
-Small tortillas (I like the soft taco size - less WW points!)
-Tones Fajita Seasoning
-1 package of Lipton Taco Rice
-1 can of refried beans
-Guacamole
-Mexican shredded cheese
-Tortilla chips


1. Put a little bit of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) in the bottom of the skillet and put all of the chicken in to start cooking.  I usually want it to cook kind of slow so I have time to get all of my veggies cut.. so I will turn the dial to maybe 250-300 degrees until I'm done with the veggies.  After a few minutes of cooking... add a healthy dose of lemon pepper AND fajita seasoning.  Then turn the chicken over and season the other side.

2. Cut all of the veggies and place to the side to wait for the chicken to be done and seasoned.  This is my favorite part to put on the 'Cookin' with Ray' show... just wait... it will take off one day.  My best friend and I have been putting on cooking shows since freshman year of high school... and it was ONLY when cooking fajitas.  There is something magical about this dish.. I'm telling ya.

3. This is when I put the refried beans in the little pot to heat up on medium (stirring every few minutes) and I start making the taco rice (following instructions on the back of the package)

4. Once the chicken is turning golden brown, this is when I start taking my rubber tongs and cut the chicken into smaller pieces.  I find it is MUCH easier to cut chicken once it is cooked rather than having to handle raw chicken.... and it is way less gross :)  The less touching of raw meat involved... the better in my world.

5. Now that you've cut up all of the chicken to the perfect fajita size... it is time to marry the veggies with the chicken.  This is a tough step... really!  Dump all of the veggies and stir the contents of the skillet until it is evenly mixed up and add a little more fajita seasoning.  Then, add a little bit of water and put the lid on the skillet and then..... wait for it.



Literally... just WAIT.  This is the hard part.  It is soooo tempting to just continually stir the fajita mixture- but don't do it.  Resist the temptation... walk away!

6. After 5 minutes or so... remove the lid and stir the fajita mixture.  I will then let it finish cooking with the lid off.  I usually wait until the onions are translucent... that usually means to me that the veggies are perfect!  Now... disclaimer:  everyone seems to like their veggies at different textures... if you like more of a crunch to them.. then it will be done a couple of minutes earlier than this... I like my onions caramelized to onion glory


7. I usually heat our tortillas up in the microwave.  I use my tortilla keeper (not sure exactly what that thing is called) and I put a dry paper towel at the bottom, put the tortillas I'm heating on top.. then I put a damp paper towel on top of them and put the lid on before heating for about 40 seconds or so.  I'm not sure if the damp towel actually does anything... its just how my family has ALWAYS done it-- so why end a tradition now, ya know?

8. This is the best part... there are so many combinations possible with these babies!  Scott loooooves his refried beans and guacamole as toppings... I simply like my cheese, rice and salsa toppings.  I love guacamole, but as a dip for my chips rather than a fajita topping. :)  



Have fun and be creative with your fajitas!  

How do you dress your fajitas?!  

So if you decide to try this- let me know how you like it!

'Cookin' with Ray' - over and out. :)


Wednesday

For the love of crafts...


Hey there, internet!  I know.. it has been a whole week since my last post.  I've had so many blog ideas the last week...but alas-- other priorities prevailed.  #sorrynotsorry

So today is about how I love crafts!  (Meredith just threw up in her mouth a little bit)

So lets start by telling you who I was a year ago... I wanted to purchase all of our furniture new so that we could keep it forever and do the wear and tear on the items ourselves, instead of buying items after the previous owner was done wearing and tearing it themselves. Who wants someone else's leftovers? #eww


Wow--- after my lesson in 'how to garage sale- for real' with Jen and her grandma... How my mindset has changed!  I see so much character and potential in the items I found while garage sale-in' it up.  I suddenly am so drawn by the story behind a piece, why they painted it that color, why they are getting rid of it... not gonna lie- the fact that used things are cheaper was a pretty big deciding factor as well.  I had no idea what I was about to experience...

I walked away with a $30 couch... yeah you read the right... $3-0!  The owners bought the couch 6 months earlier- brand. new. Now it had a beam broken, however I happen to have a good friend with a very hand dad :)  If you all haven't seen Jen's home adventures... you've got to check it out here.  Anyway, her dad is awesome with his hands... very talented! So after some time at the couch doctor... we were moving it on in!



So thankful for the hubs, jen, and jonathan for getting this thing in it's proper place!


So during our garage sale adventures we found a pair of night stands for $10 each.  Yes... $20 for 2 heavy, Broyhill nightstands that are in great shape.  The owner had painted them both black... of course not my color scheme... but I looked straight through that black paint and saw inspiration! haha

Needless to say... Jen is done with her home reno, and is now helping me in my step by step... item by item investment to our home.   :)

So we took the night stands and sanded them down and spray painted them white.  No worries, I didn't want to stop there- thank goodness, right?  I wanted to create a distressed look and the white was necessary for that effect. 


Raylene... what is Jen doing in the top left picture?  So glad you asked, internet... so very glad.  We went to Home Depot to get some paint samples a few days before our designated craft night.  I settled on my favorite gray and mustard yellow swatches.  Well we got a little chatty over dinner and were not going to have enough time to run by walmart AND Home Depot.. so we decided to find the same colors at walmart.  Well Jen-- as you can see... has a great way to color match.... enough said.  oh- and no... there is nothing in her hand :)  #Iheartmycrazyfriends



So.. here is before:


Here is after!  (the lighting is totally different.. but this is really gray and mustard yellow)


Yes, internet, that is a stuffed bear on my night stand.  Scott got that for me for my first valentines day EVER with a boyfriend... so special!

So I absolutely LOVE how this looks in my room.  Please ignore the brass headboard.  That will eventually be replaced by something that comes of this inspiration:




But we will probably wait until we upgrade to a king size bed-- which I hope to do at some point!  Scott is a human radiator... thats all I'm sayin'.

So where were we?  I've gotten carried away with my dream crafts!  So I was feeling extra spunky the day after we finished the night stands and decided that I needed to paint my coffee table the same colors!

Before:

The mustard yellow board is the shelf that rests near the bottom of the table legs... please try to imagine it... I didn't get a picture of it all put together.  But we did give this table the same distressed look as we gave the night stands.  

Everything turned out perfectly!

Our next project is turning an old family dinner table into my dream farm tableish kitchen table!  We are also on the hunt (garage sale hunt, that is) for some original kitchet chairs.. I want 6 different wood chairs (with no cushions) and Jen and I are going to paint and distress them.  We have the table.... which I can't wait to tell you the story behind.  We are starting our search for the chairs!  So if you dig in your garage or basement and find one you'd like to get rid of... let me know!

What projects have you been working on lately?