Tag Archives: summer

Do . . .

This picture has been inspiring me lately. I have a couple of big dreams and plans on the docket for my summer. What about you? What big thing are you going to do this summer? What dream are you chasing?

photo taken in Vienna
photo taken in Vienna
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BLT Chicken Burgers

blt chicken burgersMmmmmmmmmm. It’s summer! Summer means burgers (to me at least, and I think my husband is pretty okay with that!)

I was messing around the other night and developed a new recipe that I wanted to share with you all. Before I start, please don’t hate me, but I’m one of those ‘eye it’ people. I’m not very precise on measurements, especially since I am in a metric country! Also, sorry, but I don’t have a photo of my burgers, mostly because we were really hungry.

This recipe came about because I am a huge fan of BLT, Jeremy is a huge fan of anything with bacon, and we don’t have bacon here. We do, however, still have a bag of the salad topping bacon bits that we have been using sparingly for the last six months. Also, I am not sure where the prices currently are in America, but here meat is about more than three times as expensive as chicken. So, I recently discovered that I could grind chicken in my food processor (they won’t do it at the butcher, but by cutting the chicken into smaller pieces and putting them in with the blade attachment of the food processor, you can easily grind your own.) With that revelation, I knew that I had to try to make a chicken burger, so I did. And it was beautiful.

BLT Chicken Burgers

Ingredients: (again, these are not super precise)

1 kilo ground chicken (2.2 pounds)
2-3 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Molasses Bacon spice (I might add a bit more of this next time, because it wasn’t overly strong.)
about 2 cups crushed crackers/breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups bacon bits
1/2 a large onion, chopped

I took all of the above ingredients and mixed them thoroughly (mostly using my hands.) Then, I shaped the chicken into burgers, mine were quite big because I had anticipated them shrinking some as they cooked, but they didn’t. I had 7 huge burgers, but if I did it again, I would probably decrease the size quite a bit and get more like 12 from this much chicken. Once I had shaped the burgers, I stuck them in the oven on 240° C/450 °F for about 10 minutes to start the cooking process. Then, I removed them from the oven and fried them on the stove top in a small amount of oil. Cook until the outsides are browned.

pin this!
pin this!

Then, of course, to make it a true BLT Chicken Burger you should pair with onions, lettuce, and fresh tomatoes on a bun with ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard . . . the perfect combination for summer!!

The best side dishes for this meal: sunchips and cucumber salad.

Afiyet olsun!!

Summer Hair

This is me, venturing out a little into the world of beauty blogging! I don’t generally do this, but I’ve recently stumbled upon a perfect summer hairstyle that my hair has personally been in the last two days straight! I started doing this with my hair before going to bed because I was getting really tired of sleeping on a wet pillow, but I still wanted to have manageable hair in the morning. If I braid my hair, it’s manageable, but I have a wet pillow. If I put it in a bun, it keeps my pillow dry, but is rather unruly in the morning. Well, turned out that I combined the two and then liked it so much that I started wearing it during the day too!

I know I’m probably not the first one to do this, but I didn’t get it from anyone else, hence I’m actually sharing the pictures of me doing it today to hopefully help you out if you want to try the same. This has become my go-to for the summer because it keeps my hair up and off of my neck, but I like the look, too. Plus, as a bonus, it takes me less than 5 minutes to do!

hair

To start, this can work with almost any hair. I actually have quite slippery hair, and I haven’t had a problem getting my hair up in this at all. You can start wet or dry, but I kind of prefer in the middle (again, I sleep with my hair like this at night, and it gives it an extra boost of volume and a little bit of curl, too.) Next, pull all of your hair back in to a pony – I prefer it to be rather high, and slightly off center – I am definitely NOT a ballerina!! Once you’ve got it all up in a high pony, start braiding (I’d suggest making sure the top of the braid is fairly tight so that it will lay well when you spin it around.) You don’t need an elastic to hold the braid, because once you finish, you are going to wrap it around the ponytail. Once you get to the end of your braid, tuck the open end back into the elastic from your original pony-tail. At this point, you should have a pretty good looking braided bun on top of your head, but if there are any places that look questionable, just mess around and stick some bobby-pins in until it looks the way you want. And voila! Super easy, super fun summer hair that requires no heat, and very few materials.

If you try it, post a pic on instagram and tag me!

By the way, I do realize that I was MIA for a few weeks, but I have just finished my Master’s Degree, have been reading voraciously (aka, reviews to come!!),  and summer is here, so . . . I’m getting excited for the possibilities!!

Summer’s Here!!! Now what?

So, I can admit it up front, I’m weird. But, I also know that I’m not alone. I haven’t even been finished my school duties for more than a week yet, and I find myself feeling like a loser because I have free time! So, for any of those weirdos out there like me, you might be wondering what to do to help make your summer feel productive and beneficial, but still fun. I’ve found that setting some goals for myself, and constantly reminding myself that I can really use this time to do the things that I haven’t had time to do all year has been helpful. Here are a couple of things to use the time for now that you have it!


1. Read! Surprise!! You knew I would suggest this, didn’t you? Besides, I just gave you all a good list of books to start on for the summer!! Right now I’m reading Beyond The Summerland: Binding of the Blade Book 1.

2. Learn something new. Choose a language at livemocha, find a music class, look up tutorials on youtube . . . whatever it is, teach yourself something new this summer!! I will be working on my Turkish and maybe playing around with some guitar or something, whatever I can fit in with all of our travels.

3. Learn new things. Is this the same? No. It’s not, that’s why I wrote it as a separate point! Use this time in the summer to explore new topics. Broaden your knowledge by listening or watching new videos. I REALLY recommend TED Talks for this. Just go on and explore, find something you don’t know much about, and watch the video! I also recommend looking around iTunes U and finding some classes you’d be interested in listening in on.

4. Try some new recipes. I’ve been finding some new recipes on Pinterest recently, and trying a few out. I have more time to experiment and a bit more flexibility if things don’t work out. 🙂

5. Focus on things you’ve been meaning to. For me, this is fitness and cleaning!! It’s nice to have the time to look around on the internet or in books to find some inspiration and ideas for these areas of my life. What area is it for you?

6. Pick a DIY and do it! I love doing DIY projects. But, at this point in my life with limited resources and space, if I’m going to do a DIY project, it needs to be purposeful and cheap! So, I like to make it a challenge to find ways to do projects that are both smart and usable, and that I like. Here is one that I’m thinking of trying:

click to visit the blog

7. Walk. I’ve been really enjoying this part of summer (maybe it has something to do with the fact that my husband buys me ice cream when we go on walks!!) It has been really nice to just walk and talk and enjoy the warmer weather and all the people out and about.

8. Focus on people. I’m not always very good at this. But, now I have time to! So, I’m trying to get better at sitting and talking and enjoying the fact that I share this story of life with LOTS of other people that inhabit this world with me.

So . . . those are a few of my suggestions for how to make the most of your summer and enjoy the extra time. What are you going to be doing? How are you filling your time? Do you have a list of goals for the summer? Leave them in the comments below!!

Extreme Weekend

Haha. Okay, so it wasn’t that extreme. But, I did get to do something super cool that I’d never done before! Life has been strangely relaxed recently what with school being finished and all. I keep double checking myself just to make sure I’m not missing something huge. But, nope, I’m not!

So, first of all, happy day after father’s day to all you dads out there! I am sooooooo thankful and so blessed with the father that God gave me! I’m really thankful to have him! I love having a dad that makes God’s love make sense. I hope you have been so blessed as I have been! And, I am also thankful for my father-in-law, another Godly man that I have been blessed with in my life!

On Saturday, we went down near a castle by the Straits of Bosphorus to watch a Red Bull MotoCross XFighters exhibition. It was awesome! The only problem was that we got there at 7:30, hoping to get good spots for the 8:30 start (which we did), only the wind was so bad that the show didn’t start until 10:00 and then they only did about 20 minutes. So, we were slightly disappointed, but at the same time I was so amazed that it was completely worth it! That was definitely a super fun experience! (And kudos to Jer for snapping such a great picture!!)

The rest of life has been exciting and summery as we are able to enjoy life here in Turkey, enjoy being a part of other people’s lives, and enjoy planning for the weeks to come. Hope you’re enjoying summer as well! What summery things have you done or are you planning to do?

Relish Life

Rock cliffs rising up. Bright sun shining down. Incredible green encasing us. A fantasy world. A world where the only traveling companions are lazy old cows, elderly flies, and scared frogs. Where the dirt paths wind up and down, and up and down. Where the midday call to prayer rings out loud and clear across the valley between the mountain peaks. Where a wrong turn leads you to a comical collection of old people hanging out their windows and relaxing on the deck, no doubt drinking tea and talking about the good old days. Old people with lisps and exaggerated speech, with excitement in their eyes that someone so foreign could get lost on their road. A world with no noises to interrupt the thoughts, and the midday sweat of hard work running down your face.

Are you imagining yet? Keep walking, it’s a long hike, but it’s so close, and way more than worth it! The ground finally levels out, but is still just crawling with green vegetation. Follow the sound of the water, there it is. The old bridge. The bridge that was made of trees that must have lived before Turkey itself was a country! It’s obvious by the swaying and mangled way the boards lie that others have used this multiple times, but that thought does not entirely put you at ease as you look down at the happily churning blue-green water below and feel the wind carry you left and right in a tremulous rhythm above the rocks. Step by step, don’t hold onto the rails too tightly, because a heavy bird might be the end of them, much less your adrenaline filled, tired, and sweaty hands. Cross carefully! It’d be a shame to end here, you haven’t yet met the frogs or touched the cool swirling water. Once you’ve made it, approach the water. Sink your toes into the muck as it gobbles up your feet and argues with you about giving them back. Watch the frogs dive in to sound the alarm that invaders have arrived. The pool is no longer in solitude!

The water is cold, breath-taking, but refreshing after the long walk, and the hot sun. Get in, feel the rush of the current pulling you. Be careful not to twist your ankle in the bigger rocks. Look around. See the mountains towering high all around you, the beauty of the color of the water rushing past you, the lush green filling up all of the space that is not rock, water, or sky. Notice that there is not the sight, nor sound, of another human anywhere. This pool is yours for these few short hours, and you do not have to share with anyone.

Rejoice in the beauty of the Creator, and joy of love together. Relish the adventure of life. This was Monday afternoon in our Black Sea trip this last week. What an amazing memory . . . I am so thankful!

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Let me know a favorite getaway or a favorite anniversary memory in the comments below! Hope you enjoyed a little snippet of our time away!

Summer Reading Guide and Challenge

So, I had an AMAZING time at the sea with my husband this last week. I’m sure you’ll hear more about it in the next week, but today is my reading post. We did read the book The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin this week. I’ll post my review/thoughts soon. But, I realized as I was driving through some pretty awesome scenery this weekend that different things remind me of different favorite books. I started thinking of all of my favorites and wondered how I can have so many. Well, it’s because they are all different! So, I wanted to give you a quick rundown on what to read for what mood you’re in this summer. I’m guessing that most of these won’t really be a surprise to you if you have been following my blog since last summer! If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave them down below!! Read all the way to the end to hear my challenge for you!

Suspense! Thrilling! Fast-Paced!

If you want an intense thrilling suspense novel, then you need to pick up one of Steven James 5 books in the Patrick Bowers series, starting with The Pawn. AMAZING BOOKS! These are fast moving adrenaline building books that keep you guessing all the way until the end. My guess is you could go through all five in one month!

Heart-rending. Intense. Emotional. Incredible. Real.

Notice I did not say heart-warming. This is one of those books that is going to consume a little corner of your heart. My words after I closed the last page – “I feel like I have lived a whole life and can die.” Island of the World by Michael O’Brien is an incredible book. It may take you a good portion of the summer – it is long and intense and sad. But, this is the story of a life, nothing left out. You really don’t want to not read this book!!

Action! Adventure! Danger!

Surprise!! The Hunger Games – the whole trilogy. Don’t you dare read just the first one!! If I haven’t raved about these books enough yet, then read on. These books are so fast-paced. Collins knows what she is doing when she spins a story. You don’t ever want to put them down. I know that there has been a lot of criticism about these books, but I feel that a lot of it is slightly skewed. If you want my personal opinion, read this post, or shoot me an email. This would be a great summer reading book for your family!

Heart-warming. Make you believe in love . . .

I actually have not written about these books because I read them long before I started my blog. But here are two books by the same author (the same author that wrote the book we read this weekend!) Charles Martin has a unique style and a great knack for building intense characters. My husband and I have read several of his books together and loved them. My top two suggestions would be When Crickets Cry or Maggie. These stories will definitely tug at your heart!

Classic. Timeless.

Need I say? Any Narnia book!! But, you better go in order! What? You’re an adult? Who cares? Read my post on Narnia here.  Then, go and check out a book! Start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I will say that The Silver Chair  is my favorite.
A couple other classics that I highly recommend are Phantom of the Opera, Draculaand The Scarlet Letter. Let me know if you want more of my thoughts on any of these books, but these are some that I have read and LOVED. If you have an e-reader, you can download all of them for free!

Funny. Laugh out Loud.

Anything by Mark Twain, except Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn! I highly recommend The Innocents Abroad (and what’s great about that is it’s free!) He has such a dry, sarcastic wit, and it translates beautifully to his work! Another good laugh out loud book is To Be Perfectly Honest by Phil Callaway. Mind you, this isn’t going to be your heavy summer reading book, but it was definitely funny. It felt like reading a stand-up comedy act.

Challenge. Christian Growth. Philosophical.

I know that I have talked about Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl a couple of times, but this book really will make you think and decide what you think about some tough issues in life. Don’t read this blindly, you have to challenge yourself and the author on multiple points. Another good book for this category is actually a novel by Randy Alcorn. In my opinion, though, it is still definitely a challenge to growth, if you read it right! Safely Home is an intense story of Christians in China. It will challenge you to think twice about how you live out your faith.

I hope that this will help get you started planning your summer reading list! Let me know what you choose or any other suggestions you have! I am challenging you here to read at least 10 books this summer. If you will take me up on the challenge, then leave a comment below. If I get enough takers, perhaps I’ll host a giveaway or some other incentive to get everybody reading!! Here’s one catch – I want you to choose one book that is something you wouldn’t normally pick up. Do you always read fiction? Pick up a biography. Never read fiction? Find a romance novel. Summer is the perfect time to explore reading and find new things. Let me know what your number 1 book is below! And, if you readers can get at least 10 people to commit to this challenge, then I will host a giveaway at the end of the summer.

Happy reading!!

Menu: Summer Picnic

Who doesn’t love an outdoor picnic in the summer! I was having company of four adults and three kids over to our tiny apartment the other night. I felt bad that the kids would be “cooped” up and unoccupied, so we decided to take dinner down to the park in the middle of our apartment complex. It turned out great! Also, I had wanted to have most of the preparations done before people arrived so that no one would feel obligated to help me, and I would be free to visit with friends and not worry about food. Well, this menu lends itself perfectly to that. The only thing that needed to be warm was the chicken, and I had made it ahead of time, left it on trays in the oven, and warmed it up for about 10-15 minutes once everyone had arrived and we were about ready to eat. Enjoy!

Mom’s Chicken Fingers

So good, and so incredibly easy!! I stole this from my mom. She usually makes hers in a deep-fryer, but I don’t have one, so I use a skillet on the stove-top. 

For a dinner party of around 9-10:

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into one-inch strips
crackers (I use Turkish fish crackers, mom uses a sleeve of saltines)
3 eggs
oil

Begin by whisking your eggs in one bowl, and crushing your crackers in another. (You may find it easier to crush the crackers with a slicer or in a bag.) Heat a 1/4-1/2″ of oil in your skillet on the stove. Take your chicken strips, dip into the whisked eggs, dip into the cracker mixture so that the strips are completely coated, and place into the skillet. Allow the strips to cook until the crackers turn a golden brown (usually about 3-5 minutes) on each side. If you have thicker cuts of chicken, it will be important to leave them in a little longer so as to cook all the way through the meat.

You’re finished! I placed mine on baking sheets and left them in the oven until company arrived, then I just warmed them up for about 10 minutes, and they were great! These strips even taste great cold. We used to take them on the boat for dinner on the lake when I lived at home, and they are perfect!!

Honey Mustard

Now, I am an experimental cook, meaning that I don’t often measure things. So, I have no idea how much of everything I use in this recipe!! But, just guess and taste until you get it right.

Mayonnaise
Mustard (any kind, I’ve used dijon, sweet, normal yellow . . .)
Honey – optional
Cracked Pepper – optional (but it makes it prettier!) 

I usually start with my mayonnaise and put close to 3/4 cup of mayonnaise in a bowl. Then, I add around 1/4 cup of mustard. If you want it a little sweeter, add just a few squeezes of honey. I wanted mine to look pretty last night, so I added some cracked pepper, and it looked great. Just keep stirring and tasting until you get it to the right mixture of sweet and tangy!

Italian Pasta Salad

Nothing special here, just a tried and true pasta salad. 

Mixed pasta
Italian Dressing
Tomatoes
Olives

Cook your desired amount of pasta. Drain. Add Italian dressing (I used an entire bottle on my large bowl of pasta.) Add some tomatoes and olives. Put in the refrigerator. Done. You can also add some peppers, onions, or other vegetables as well. 

BLT Salad

I discovered this recipe my first year of marriage, and it is one of the best ways to get my husband to eat vegetables! 

Lettuce
Tomatoes
Onions
3 slices of cooked bacon (keep the drippings!)
Bread (any kind)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbs. vinegar
Any leafy spice

Combine chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Crumble bacon on top of the salad. Mix together the mayonnaise, bacon drippings, vinegar, and a dash of your favorite spice. Pour over salad. Butter the bread and toast in a skillet until crispy and toss on top of the salad. Voila!

Fruit Salad & Cinnamon Crisps

I did this on a whim, but was really happy with the outcome! 

Fruits of your choice, I used:
Watermelon
Peaches
Grapes
Kiwi
Honey
Tortillas
Butter
Cinnamon & Sugar

Prepare your fruit salad to your own liking. I added a touch of honey on the top of mine, and also made sure to cut all of my fruits relatively small so that they would be easier to dip the crisps into.

For the crisps, cut your tortillas into small triangularish pieces. Butter on the top, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake at around 325* for 5-10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

That was our dinner! Super easy and summery. Hope you enjoy!

Life Lately . . . today

So, today was pretty fun. It finally feels like we’re actually back in Istanbul, because we made it back to places that we visited before. This morning we traveled two hours by mini-bus, metro, and walking to get to TRT, one of the main television and radio stations in Turkey. One of our students from last year, Gokhan Bolukcu, is an emerging music artist in Turkey, and he had a ten minute segment this morning on TRT-News. We went to meet up with him at the studio and hang out for a while before and after he went on. We didn’t actually get to go into the recording studio, but we were sitting right down the hallway and watching him on live TV. We also got a copy of his CD, which he kindly signed for us. I know that it will be worth tons someday!!

Once we were all finished, we went down to get balik ekmek from the near the straights. It was quite good, in my opinion. But then again, I like fish, so of course I would think it was good! Balik ekmek is just a fish sandwich with some lettuce and onions, and in my case salt and lemon juice! Afterwards, we started walking towards the biggest square in Istanbul – or at least the most famous, Taksim. We stopped for çay along the way, and stopped in some music stores. Gokhan had brought a friend along that didn’t speak English, so we got a lot of Turkish practice today. It was fun to just hang out and spend time out and about in the city. But I will say that it has worn me out. Partly the mental exercise of working on my Turkish combined with the walking and traveling around the city.

Nonetheless, it was a fun day, and something that I don’t often have the privilege of doing. So, for that I am grateful, and with that . . . goodnight.