Monday, September 6

menu plan monday

it's been a crazy summer, & i have hardly cooked at all. i miss it very much, so i'm excited about getting back to the kitchen this week! our oven is still out of commission, so everything had to be stove-top made. i looked up a couple new recipes to increase the excitement of cooking again. thursday & sunday are rachael ray recipes - i'll let you know how it goes!

monday - chickpea fritters + tzatziki, zucchini, greek salad
tuesday - gazpacho, salad
wednesday - quesadillas [black bean & corn]
thursday - spanish shrimp, sausage, & couscous
friday - taco salad
saturday - y.u.m.
sunday - gnocci + sausage & broccoli

y.u.m. = yesterdays' uneaten meals

Friday, September 3

twilight night

one of my favorite things to do is event planning, especially theme parties! to quote my friend katy: "there is something to be said about a danae party. danae parties go above and beyond what anyone ever imagines." this is high praise indeed & just tickles me pink! since part of having a house & making a home [at least in my book] is entertaining, i thought i would share with you my latest party: twilight night! i hosted two nights this summer - one for the girls in our youth group & a smaller evening with four other married madams. both nights were fantastically fun! but enough talk - i know you just want to see pictures...

[setting the mood as you enter]

i also had cullen cars cut out, laminated, & taped to my garage doors. 
i never got around to making a forks sign... next time.

[the set-up for the girlfriends party]

[the "teams" table - 
team edward = white,
team jacob = brown]

[framed quotes for teams table]

all of these framed quotes & other print-outs are from the hostess with the mostest - she is AWESOME!

["bitten" cupcakes - 
homemade by my friend, rachel]

[red velvet cake + cream cheese frosting]

["stake-through-the-heart" pretzel sticks!]

["shimmers-in-the-sun" sugar cookies]

[thirsty? we have A-, B+, & O- for vamps...
for humans, we offer coke & water.]

[candy & candles - can't go wrong]

[can't ever have enough!]

[food table close-up]

["we're making italiano for you" - our feast!]

in keeping with the first book/movies, we had mushroom ravioli. rachel & i made up the sauce recipe on the fly, but it was delish! we also had a fabulous salad arranged by rachel, plus garlic bread [because we all know that vampires being afraid of garlic is a myth!]

[mushroom ravioli - YUM!]

[table setting - emphasis on forks]

[snack packs for waiting in line at the premiere]

we had way too much fun making these snack packs! but it was soooo worth the effort because we were in line at the theater for an hour & a half waiting for the premiere of "eclipse"... also soooo worth it!

[twizzler BITES]

[no twilight party is complete without EDWARD!
me & my co-hostess, rachel]

i also have tons of pics of the girls enjoying the party, but this post is long enough [check out the rest of the photos on facebook]. the schedule was simple but ambitious: hanging out + photoshoot with edward, movie 1, dinner, trivia game, movie 2, drive to theater + wait, movie 3. a long [12-hour] endeavor, but it was such a blast. i can't wait till the first 4th movie comes out so we can do it again!

i'm posting this on "today's creative blog"!

Thursday, September 2

morning routine

this summer's schedule has been pretty erratic [love that word!], so i've not kept a very consistent routine. in danae's world, this is catastrophic. i desperately need routine to keep me on task & to get everything done in my busy week. otherwise, i sleep till 10am, & things slip through the cracks, like working out & cleaning house. as a result, i haven't been to the gym since the spring, & my house is a disaster. but fall is practically here [the weather right now in indiana is definitely like fall in north carolina], & it's time to get back into routine. i've learned that starting the day off right will affect the rest of the day. i once heard this analogy: your day is a large ship guided by a small rudder. that rudder is the first hour of your day, & it sets the pace for the rest of the ship.

so, i've created a fall morning routine that is pretty ambitious. but you know me, i never do anything half-way! i thought i would post it for two reasons: others may benefit from seeing my routine & how i come about it, but mostly, i need accountability! my routines change slightly throughout different seasons of life, but my morning routine always contains the same elements. mainly, i like to make sure to include tasks that make a difference for the rest of the day, help me feel super productive, & need to be done first thing. i also like to do things that minimize effort or time later in the day. for example, i like to exercise in the morning because i then only need to take one shower a day.

danae's morning routine
:10 - wake & stretch
:05 - make bed
:05 - dress for the gym
:05 - put a load in the washer
:05 - pet care [let zorra outside, feed the 3 furballs & the fish]
:05 - snack [banana or apple + water]
:90 - exercise [includes travel time to & from the gym]
:15 - breakfast
:05 - shine the sink
:05 - put load in the dryer
:30 - quiet time
:45 - get ready [shower, dress, etc.]
:05 - brush teeth & gather stuff for the day

so, my morning routine takes me nearly four hours - a sizable chunk of my day. but i get cleaning & laundry done, as well as do several good things for myself: working out, eating breakfast, having quiet time... each of these activities makes a big impact on the rest of my day & on my attitude because i've already been productive!

the most ambitious part of this routine? in order to fit in with the rest of my daily routines, i'd like to get to work by 9am each day. this means getting up at 5am... yikes! not only am i not a morning person, i have always sworn i would never get up regularly before 6am. plus, we're on eastern time here in lafayette [stupid, i know], so the sun doesn't even come up till after 8am in the winter. guess who needs the sun to help wake up? yep, me. so, i've got a lamp next to our bedroom window on a timer. we'll see if it helps. wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 1

the most versatile quick meal

wednesday nights are kinda crazy around the casteel casa. once we both get home from work, we usually have less than an hour to make & eat dinner before "innermission" [the wednesday night class we teach for our teens at church]. it's also the end of our menu week because i typically run errands on thursdays, so the fridge & cabinets can be pretty bare.

when we were first married, i would make red beans & rice with cornbread every wednesday. there's a reason we never eat this anymore. three to four years of the same thing every week gets pretty old. i made it for so long, not for lack of imagination, but for convenience & budget's sake. then, our church started making wednesday night dinners, which made our lives so much easier! when we moved to lafayette a year ago, we were at a loss on wednesdays since our church here doesn't do dinner. especially since we've been leading the youth ministry & prepping for class each week, we have frequently foregone dinner before innermission & eaten fast food afterwards. this has become problematic to our budget & our waistlines!

my solution? QUESADILLAS. i almost always keep tortillas & a variety of shredded cheeses on hand. these keep great in the fridge long-term. it's also a super quick & super cheap meal to make. but the best part about eating quesadillas every week is how versatile they are! my favorite version is refried bean & guacamole quesadillas - yum, yum! next week, i plan to make black bean & chicken quesadillas. but the toppings are endless: artichoke, avocado, black beans, cheese [all kinds], chicken, cilantro, corn, green onion, guacamole, mushrooms, olives, red onion, refried beans, roasted red peppers, salsa, shrimp, zucchini, and more! this means we're less likely to get tired of having the same ol' thing every week. sounds good to me!