Everyday Inspirations

 
 
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
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fajita recipe
{angie}
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today we celebrate...well, what is it we celebrate? Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is observed primarily in the United States and regionally in Mexico as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. For many of the Americans that "observe" it, it's another excuse to eat good food and drink. How many invites did you get for tacos and margaritas for lunch today? It's a much bigger deal here than it is in Mexico. Why do I know this? I always wanted to be Latina. The olive skin, dark eyes, beautiful language and incredible culture of family always drew me in. Plus, let's face it, when people ask your heritage and you say, "yeah you know those countries in Western Europe? My ancestors are from all of them," it's just not that exciting. 

So what's the best way to honor my wanna-be heritage? Fajitas. Now if you think fajitas are Mexican food, you're definitely a gringo. Fajitas are sort of like me, the wanna-be Mexican that is actually American dish. Alright, so after a little research they started in Texas but were made by Mexican vaqueros (cowboys), so I'll give them that. 

Either way, they are delicious and are a family tradition at my house. Since I was a kid, we regularly hosted fajitas parties, inviting plenty of friends to join in for the fun. They are fast and easy to make, a crowd-pleaser, relatively healthy, and inexpensive. Great to whip up for 1 person or 20, I cook fajitas probably nearly once a week and to me, and I never get tired of them. So let me share my ever-changing recipe (I don't really measure so it's always different) that is so ingrained in my brain I have never bothered to write it down. Because I make it so often, I have figured out every time-saving and dirty dish-saving tactic in the book. I will share.

{Homemade Fajitas}

Ingredients* 
2 medium cuts of meat (chicken, pork or steak)
2 bell peppers 
1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
handful of cilantro, chopped
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
lime juice
olive oil
tortillas
toppings as desired (guacamole, sour cream, cheese, salsa, etc)
Directions
Slice bell peppers vertically, about 1/2 inch thick. Still have the produce bag? Move on top of that until cooking time. Slice onion in 1/4 inch rings, then cut in half. Put a little olive oil in a saute pan, then toss in onions (don't turn stove on yet, you're just setting them aside). Chop cilantro and set aside with peppers. Chop garlic (if you don't have a press) and set aside. Slice meat in long, thin pieces. Turn heat of stove on high and stir onions until a little juice is let out. Add in meat, salt, lime juice and 2/3 of the spices (be sure to grab the cumin and not curry powder...been there, done that) and saute until meat is cooked. 
Push meat to the sides of the pan in a circle and add the bell peppers and additional salt and spices. Mix together, stirring meat on top of the peppers.
how to cook fajitas
Turn to medium heat and cover for 2-4 minutes or until peppers begin to soften.
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To steam tortillas, place on top of the fajita mixture while on low. Salud! 

*Recipe is 2-4 servings depending on size of peppers and meat. If you're cooking for a group, each person will likely eat about 3/4-1 piece of meat and 3/4-1 pepper each. 
how to steam tortillas
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{ash}

My family lost our sweet dog Bud a few weeks ago. Yesterday I received a gift in the mail from my darling friend Deb: a book called Dog Heaven.

I love this sweet story. Tears streamed down my face as I turned the pages and read about the puppies who have left us and how they now run, jump, play, and sleep under the the watchful eyes of God and angels. I shared it with my mom yesterday and together we cried and laughed and missed our best friend.

Thank you, Deb, for sending this book into my life.
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I just love the pictures of puppies sleeping on the clouds.
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pasta carbonara
{angie}
Pasta carbonara is one of my favorites -- but let's face it, it's not exactly the healthiest meal. Like I always seem to do, I created my own spin to make this a much healthier dish (I even got a "wow Ang, this is really great! How did you make this?!" from my husband before he knew I made it healthy). So get in the kitchen, don't mess up your workout and don't sacrifice any bit of flavor. You could also easily make this with chicken if you prefer. 

{Healthy Steak Carbonara Pasta}

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Ingredients
Pasta type of your choice 
8 ounces of thin steak
3-4 slices turkey bacon
1/3 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
3 handfuls of fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic
1/3 white onion
1 teaspoon parsley
2 teaspoons oregano
hot red pepper to taste
olive oil
salt to taste
Parmesan cheese on top

Directions
Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare pasta. In a saute pan on high, heat up onion, garlic and bacon in a little olive oil. Add steak and spices and saute until meat is cooked. Put heat on medium low and add sour cream, milk and egg and stir until a sauce starts to form. Add spinach and cook until lightly wilted. Serve on pasta with Parmesan cheese on top. 
Makes 2-4 servings

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{ash}

We've had the documentary The Human Experience in our Netflix instant queue for a few weeks and we finally watched it on Saturday night.

Wow.

If you have not seen this film yet, watch it.

This film is beyond beautiful. It is poetic. Its story examines life -- both what is ugly and what is redeeming. It is based on one simple, undeniable fact: we are human and we are all connected.

I sat back in awe and let this message wash over me. I was so inspired, and that inner fire that is love for my own life, my own human experience, burned brightly in my heart. If I can do anything for these brave, amazing filmmakers, it is to help make sure their beautiful film is shared with our readers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

PS: Have some tissues handy.
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{angie}
Today I wish a very happy 75th birthday to my amazingly talented, smart, beautiful grandma. Many people learn how to crochet or bake bread from their grandmothers -- these are both on my "lessons learned from grandma" list, but the list goes so much beyond that. 
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My grandma was born in Chicago on May 1, 1936, just 16 years after women were granted the right to vote. Like many women of her day, she got married young to her high school sweetheart, my handsome grandpa. The next few years of her life she would be the quintessential woman of the 1950s. She was a homemaker and had three children -- Susie (my mom), Jimmy and Billy. 
But my grandma wouldn't settle for average. She went back to school with three children in tow and got a bachelor's in nursing followed by a master's degree. Many women of the time were forced to take on a masculine persona if they wanted to get ahead, but she stayed true to herself and showed she could own her feminine personality while not sacrificing any bit of strength. At 59, she got her nurse practitioner's degree and started up her own successful private practice. 
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What inspires me most is not all the degrees and certificates that hang on her wall of accomplishments, but that she was able to make the most of each of these opportunities while also filling her life with her dearest passions. Her family and friends always remained number one and she loves us all with every fiber of her being. She continues to travel the world (I can only hope to visit as many countries as she has in her lifetime) and embrace cultures of all different origins. My grandma has a witty sense of humor, loves to dance, sing, shop, play dress up and will jump at playing hostess at any given opportunity. Through her, I have learned a sense of generosity and caring that comes not from any expectation of something in return, but from her big heart. 
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As her oldest granddaughter, I have inherited her legacy of feminine strength everyday through the values she exemplifies and has instilled her only daughter, my mother. I like to think I am a lot like her as I strive to live my life with both ambition and a deep passion for life. Here's to my ever-inspiring grandma, who at 75 doesn't look at day over 29. :) I love you grandma! 

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{ash}

Have you ever come across a quote that just says it all? I had to share this one.

"I'm concentrating on staying healthy, having peace, being happy, remembering what is important, taking in nature and animals, spending time reading, trying to understand the universe, where science and the spiritual meet."
- Joan Jett

Say it, girl.
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{angie}
"Action is the foundational key to all success."
-Pablo Picasso
 

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{ash}

I don't want to spend too much time analyzing a big event that is happening in London tomorrow.

You know what I mean. ;)

However, I do want to take a quick moment to send good thoughts to England's future king and queen. I've been fascinated these past few months as I've watched the overwhelming amount of coverage around this event. While I know it will be a beautiful ceremony and that the bride will look beyond amazing (anyone else dying to see that dress?), I still know that this is just the beginning for this lovely couple. It can be so easy to focus on one day, but this is the start of something big in their lives.

I always get nervous when fairy tale fascination pushes aside real life. It's easy to look at the excitement surrounding the wedding and wish it were you walking up the aisle at that Abbey (come on, ladies, don't act like you haven't imagined that!). However, we don't think about the issues the couple will be dealing with--not to mention the serious heart-to-heart talks they must have had before deciding to wed. This isn't a soap opera drama for us to watch unfold. Royal or not, this couple is in love, and I believe this is our chance to send support and good thoughts for a long, happy life together. It's not about a wedding. It's about a marriage--one that has the power to do great things for this world.

So here's to Kate and Will, and to all the other couples around the world whose love has inspired them to spend their lives together. After all, love is really what makes this life so crazy beautiful.
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wordless wednesday
{angie}