Everyday Inspirations

 
 

~ how to ~


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I love that the holidays are a time to care for one another. While it's fun to give and receive gifts, nothing feels quite as good as knowing you made a difference in someone's life. In fact, I believe that taking time to think of others is an imperative part of learning to be truly, deeply thankful for our own blessings.

It's incredible to watch people join together with the sole purpose of spreading love. It doesn't have to be something big, like donating gobs of money. It can be as simple as buying a gift for one child, dropping a turkey off to a family in need, or giving away a coat you know you're not going to wear.

I've gathered just a few ways to spread holiday cheer. Please feel free to share yours in the comments section.
  • Feed a family by making a donation to your local food bank
  • Keep someone warm this winter by donating a coat
  • Brighten a kid's holiday by dropping off a gift or making a donation to Toys for Tots
  • Send a holiday card to a soldier through the Red Cross
  • Send a care package to a homeless child
  • Donate the gift of time by volunteering for an organization or cause that's important to you
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~ small inspiration ~


Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
{angie}
No matter where you are in a relationship, you always need to make time for date night whether it's a night at the movies, going out to dinner or making dinner and snuggling on the couch. It's that important time to get out of the ordinary and just focus on the two of you. This is one of my favorite date night recipes, grilled cheese sandwiches with fire-roasted tomato soup. Perfect for a cold night in like tonight!

{Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup}

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1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
14 ounce can tomato sauce
6 ounce can tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons basil
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with sour cream, fresh basil and tortilla strips
In a large pot, saute onion in olive oil. Add garlic and saute a few more minutes. Add tomatoes, sauce, paste, spices and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Add milk and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Add garnish and enjoy!

 

~ our world ~


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Drive-by clicking -- Las Vegas 2009
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I've always loved big cities. To me, nothing else can match their energy. I love being places where hundreds of people clog the sidewalks, where you can walk any direction and get lost in your surroundings, and where lights burn brightly all night. 

For some reason I was thinking about a few of my big city trips on the drive home from work today. The memories made me smile. I love that each city I've visited has its own personality and has left me with happy, lifelong memories.
 

~ food ~


Pumpkin Pasties recipe
{angie}
Here at Everyday Inspirations we are SO excited about tomorrow's screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1! Ash and I are just a set of cloaks and wands away from being some of the biggest Potter nerds out there (we haven't quite gotten to the point of dressing up to see the movie...yet). To celebrate, I needed to make pumpkin pasties and butterbeer, the staples of any Harry Potter-themed party. After all, I need a snack while I'm watching Half-Blood Prince tonight! Watch for our upcoming review of the movie, coming soon! 

{Pumpkin Pasties}

For those who haven't traveled to England, traditional English pasties (pronounced ˈpæsti), are like pies folded in half and filled with meat and vegetables. And, may I say having had one in the charming town of Bath, they are totally delicious! However, these are not to be confused with another kind of pasty (pronounced pey-stee) that I will not link you to. I mention this because the other day when I tweeted I was making pumpkin pasties someone tried to correct me that meant pastries, obviously finding it funny that I should make pumpkin "pasties." The other kind. Come on, I'm giving you G-rated recipes here (minus the optional alcohol you can add to the butterbeer). Anyway, the pasties in Harry Potter I'm sure is Rowling's nod to her British culture with a dash of pumpkin for the wizarding world. These are like individually-wrapped pumpkin pies. Could even be a great recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, but definitely delicious along with a mug of butterbeer!

Ingredients
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
16 ounces canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 tsp. ginger
12 ounces evaporated milk
Butter for greasing
18 ounces pie pastry dough

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. For pumpkin filling, mix eggs and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Add pumpkin, salt, spices and evaporated milk to bowl and mix well. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes at 425, then an addition 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool filling in refrigerator until it reaches at least room temperature.

Roll pastry dough thin and using a
wide glass or cookie cutter, cut circles 3-4 inches in diameter. Put a spoonful of the pumpkin in the center of the circle and fold over, pressing the edges of the crust together. Crimp the edges with your fingers or gently with a fork. Cut three small slits in the top for venting and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees or until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Makes 16-20 pasties.

{Butterbeer}

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This butterbeer recipe is somewhere between a butterscotch Italian soda and a rootbeer float. It's full of creamy, buttery flavor, just like you'd find at the Three Broomsticks.

Ingredients
64 ounces cream soda
2-3 tablespoons butterscotch syrup
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup butterscotch schnapps (optional)

Directions
In a medium bowl, whip cream until peaks form. Stir in sugar. Dissolve butterscotch syrup (and schnapps if you choose) into soda by stirring gently and divide into four glasses. Dollop whipped cream into each, slightly stirring in cream until foam rises back to top. Enjoy!

 

~ a better you ~


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If you've never had a great foot massage, you need to stop reading now and go out and get one.

Go. Do it.

I'm absolutely fascinated by the way the body responds to touch (I especially love reading up on foot reflexology). Pampering yourself isn't always frivolous. It can be a great way to release stress. Hey, man, science said so.

Every so often, I love to treat myself to an at-home foot treatment. Nothing too fancy, but it always makes me feel great. Start by soaking your feet in a warm bath (drop in one of those bath fizzies if you have one!), then applying a scrub. I love mint scented scrubs, but use whatever you have around. If you have a pumice stone, use it to treat those rough, scaly areas. Rinse, then apply a light lotion (I follow up with mint -- love it), allowing it to soak in to your skin. Simply heavenly!

By the way, apologies to my friends who hate feet. That's a mighty large picture of them. (I'm talking to you, Kayla.)
 

~ home ~


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{angie}
This time of year, namely the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I always get a hankering to decorate for Christmas. Generally tradition dictates the tree and holiday decor go up on Black Friday, but it's all I can do to keep myself from decking my halls with boughs of holly before Turkey Day.

Instead I have picked out a few pieces that are a good transition between fall and winter. My red, striped placemats liven up my table and with a cinnamon-scented, pine cone centerpiece, my dining room table has a festive holiday flavor. The cinnamon smell radiates through the house which I absolutely love.

I also put up a red berry wreath in the center of my home which adds some color with just a hint of Christmas.  

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And because I couldn't resist, here is my little reindeer waking up from her nap. I know, I know...I'm one of "those" pet owners. But with those doelike eyes and her coloring, how can I help myself?

 

~ fashion ~


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Whoever decided that no one should wear white after Labor Day obviously didn't own this coat. (Of course, this may mean nothing. Isn't that rule no longer in effect?)

I've collected a few winter coats over the years, but this cream-colored number is one of my favorites. There is something very retro about it -- and you know how the EI girls love classic fashion (remember this and this?).

This coat can be worn with most outfits but is especially adorable with skirts, tights, and booties. I adore how it hits high on my thigh and that it's cut to hug my waist. Very feminine -- and I have no complaints about any article of winter clothing that makes me feel sexy while still keeping me warm.
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Macy's Day Parade, photo by Phil Bastian
{angie}
Thanksgiving is a time of bringing people together. Since it should be a time of celebration, whether your the host or a guest, be sure to exercise some etiquette so everyone can be thankful for the amazing family and friends in their lives. 
What to wear
Even informal gatherings can have a dress code of sorts. As the host, be sure to let your guests know what type of attire they should wear. As a guest, if you're going somewhere new, be sure to find out. You don't want to show up in jeans and a tee when grandma got out her best pearls for her favorite holiday. If they say, "wear whatever," it's always safe to be on the dressy casual side.

Be punctual
There's nothing more annoying than having dinner all ready and all you have to do is wait until cousin Bobby shows up. Expect heavy traffic and icy roads and leave early to respect everyone's time. By no means should you purposely show up late or leave early so you don't have spend as much time with your in-laws (which I'd never do because I have the best in-laws ever).

Dinner time
Some may make it all as traditional as the pilgrims while others may have their own special spin on Thanksgiving. Be respectful of their traditions, no matter if they don't fit into what you're used to. The nice thing about Thanksgiving is there's usually so much they won't notice if you don't take a scoop of the jello salad. If it's a family specialty you will be expected to partake, but you can always take a small amount.

Don't gorge yourself
What is Thanksgiving infamous for? Stuffing our faces until everyone is ready to pop. Oh and did I mention there's dessert? Six different kinds of pie. There's nothing pretty (or comfortable) about gorging yourself though. As you're serving up your plate truly take a *little* of everything, even if they are your favorite mashed potatoes. You can always go back for seconds. Also, don't skip on the greens. Some people say they don't want to fill themselves up on it when they could use the room for extra sweet potatoes, but it will aid in digestion so you don't feel like you might explode. Finally, eat slowly.

Thanksgiving traditions
Whether it's customary to watch the Macy's Day Parade or participate in a little touch football, don't ditch out on or complain about the traditions. Just focus on enjoying the people around you and the way Thanksgiving brings people together.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!
 

~ small inspiration ~


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I constantly find myself falling in love with texture. The variety of sensations our bodies feel each day -- a soft pillow against your cheek, smooth glass against your lips, another person's hand in yours -- is simply inspirational.

At times I challenge myself to enjoy the feeling of different objects against my fingers... to not just hold something, but to (I can't believe I'm going to say this, it sounds so out there) experience it. Nothing is the same as the feeling of a baby's hair against your fingers or a soft sweater hugging your shoulders. Like scent, texture punctuates memories. We experience the world through touch.
 
geese fly south
{angie}
As Winter Comes
The water freezes
The geese fly south for winter
White will cover brown