Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recent Work: Alison McQuain Photography

Graduation is near and I had a fantastic time celebrating it with Melinda during her senior portrait session. She is such a beautiful and fun-loving young woman. I am so excited for her next big adventure! Congratulations Melinda!

Visit my website or facebook page to see more and learn about current specials I am offering! 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: 8 Must Have Spring Kitchen Tools

Spring and Summer cooking is THE best. For the most part the soup and stock pots disappear as fresh ingredients appear in your garden and grocery store. There are a few must have tools I am glad to have and a few I have discovered that I would love to have. I think you Tasty Tuesdayers should know about them.
  1. Paring knives are perfect for berries and small jobs like salad toppers. 
  2. Cherry pitters are a must in my kitchen. I LOVE fresh cherries.   
  3. Prepara herb savers look pretty amazing. I would totally try it-storing in a glass on the counter with a bit of water tends to work well too.  
  4. Popsicle molds take me back to my childhood and I need some in my life. And check this out! 
  5. Apple/Pear slicers are awesome to have. Try them on spring pears if you haven't already.  
  6. Veggie peelers are a must for spring carrots or cucumbers and even for things like shaving down tougher stalky veggies for quicker steaming. 
  7. Avocado savers are on my wish list after seeing this. I just put one in a Ziploc today knowing it will be brown when i eat the rest of it.  
  8. Veggie Steamers are the best. And I think this is about all you need. If you want to go bigger check this out too.  
You can find all of these items pinned on our Foodie board. Be sure to check out some other items I love that didn't make the post.

I hope this post helps make your Tasty Tuesday a little easier.


Friday, April 18, 2014

TGIF: Thank God It's Friday, Really

Happy Good Friday, friends. Remember the darkness of this day so we can see the light in three. 
Photo by Alison McQuain

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ink Blot Easter Eggs

As I sat staring at my freshly boiled stark white eggs this past Sunday, I couldn't think of what to do that would be different. I loved the look of half gold-half colored eggs, so I did half a dozen like that. You may have noticed them from Tasty Tuesday's angeled egg post. To create those, simply use baker's food coloring mixed with water and vinegar, let dry and spray paint. 

However, that left me with another 6 eggs to play with. I looked through my craft box and discovered an old bottle of india ink that I'm sure was bought in college, used once for a project and never again. Lucky for me, apparently I thought it would come in handy one day. Unsure of what the ink would do on an egg, I dropped a single droplet onto the egg and watched it run and spread. Beautiful. 

The stark contrast of black on white was refreshing because it wasn't a pastel little pretty one. It was daring and bold and I loved the look of it. I even rolled three of the eggs in the ink until they were solid black (sadly only one of those survived) and looked like leather. 

I simply had fun making these eggs and never intended on making a parallel to the reason that I celebrate Easter. Let me just get that clear. However, as I sit here and roll these eggs around, the stark blots on a once spotless white egg remind me of the sin stains Jesus was marked with when he was on the cross. Our sinful human nature marked the son of God's body in the form of blood, in the form of our sins past and present, just like this oozing black ink marks these eggs. Jesus' life was without sin-a spotless white egg. He chose to take those sins upon himself and die for every person on this planet. This would have been simply a sweet gesture of a martyr had he not risen from the dead three days later. Thus, the reason I celebrate Easter. Not because I'm told to, have been taught to or feel like I have to. 

I celebrate it because I put a lot of ink blots on that spotless egg. My sin on a perfect son of God. As a Christian, I still do and probably always will put ink blots on that beautiful white egg. If my life started out as that pure white egg, I am sure over time it would eventually look more like the solid black egg covered up with something flashy like that hot pink neon. You won't notice the blackness with the cover up, right? It's not because I'm a bad person, it's simply because I am a person. I'm not perfect. I sin. 

Thank God Easter happened because now I know that no matter how much ink I put on that egg, it is only a shell. Thank God that there is still egg underneath that blackened shell that can be peeled away to reveal a shiny soft white egg with a yolk that is untouched. Thank God when one day I die, I know I will be with a living God who will crack my shell and peel it away to make me shiny, spotless and new. Thank you for allowing me to be unashamed and admit to you the parallels of an egg to my sin and my Savior. 

This post could have easily been simply how to ink blot an egg and you can still do just that. I encourage you to think about it though. Let's just get a little deeper and a little more real today. A little deeper than a cute bunny with a puffy tail and some plastic colorful eggs. Let's celebrate something real. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tips for Balancing Your Life

I posted Monday about allowing yourself to breathe and not believing that you have to constantly be busy to be successful. Balance is the key to just about everything and if you start to feel overwhelmed, something in your life is off-balance. I recently did a 7 day cleanse and realized that even with that, I lacked balance. Yes, it got my eating and workout habits back on track but I craved carbs because I couldn’t have them. Now I am aware that I need protein and veggies and carbs to keep me sane and healthy. Sometimes I also need a cookie. Balance keeps you going, keeps you upright. I’m also aware I need time alone, time with people I love and time to hunker down and work. Balance also keeps your life steady. 
I’m still learning and allowing myself to breathe and balance. 
Here are some tips I do well with that helps me achieve life balance: 

Find a devotional, inspiring thought book or start a journal.
I don’t want something else I have to commit to, like a daily journal but I do enjoy reading a daily devotional because I can look at it quickly on my phone or computer and it stays with me for the rest of the day. It puts a positive spin on your day if you do it in the morning.

Make a To-Do List.
It helps to have what you have to do written down. It is so satisfying to me to check something off that it makes me want to do it. However, don’t just run your to-do list down with tasks. Add in fun things like take a relaxing bath, call best friend, watch Game of Thrones.
Be your biggest fan.
Every time you check something off of your to-do list, get a workout in or love your outfit (hey sometimes it’s the little things!), give yourself a wink in the mirror and tell yourself you’re awesome and worth it. 

Be kind to yourself.
We all have bad days and when so many things go wrong and you just feel off, tell yourself it’s okay. Not every single day of your life has to go smoothly. Enjoy even the hard moments and don’t put yourself down. 

Reserve one night a week for you.
It’s hard to say no to a friend who wants to last-minute grab a bite to eat when you just want some relaxation. Tell her how something stressed you out and tell her you just need to decompress. Instead of blowing her off, pick another time to grab dinner at your favorite place. Turn off your phone, computer and maybe even TV at a certain hour and just be with yourself. Read a book, take a bubble bath or sit outside with some chamomile tea and just think and be. 

Work before play.
Get everything you need to get done done. Then you can relax or play. That way when you are actually “playing” you don’t have to think about the next thing to do. You’ll be glad you did and will start to follow that pattern within your life. 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Angeled Eggs

Deviled eggs are such a spring time food in my mind. I don't like calling them deviled eggs though because I'm silly like that. I love the taste and enjoy having them at my grandparents' on Easter Sunday. I have never made them before, so I texted my grandmother the other day to see what her recipe was. She is of course much cooler than me, so she was out and about and didn't give me the full in, no measurements. She did this with dressing for Thanksgiving too, so I'm wondering if this is a test. Gangie, I'm onto you. So I kind of had to wing it which is actually just bad news for you because in winging it, I didn't write down the measurements I used either. Since angels are mysterious and surprising we are going to call these "angeled eggs" and you can decide how much of each ingredient to use! wink.

Hard boiled eggs: Allow eggs to boil five minutes, cool 15 minutes and then put in cold water for easy peeling!

1/2 lemon juiced
dill relish (wickles pickles was what I used)
whole grain mustard
mayonnaise (I used a vegan mayo for lower calories)

After eggs are cool, slice length wise down the middle, scoop out yolk with a spoon carefully. Mash all yolks together and mix with remaining ingredients. Scoop about a teaspoon full into the egg and top with paprika. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Moment of Truth:

It's time to get real for a moment. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Smile. Breathe and allow your mind to have a moment of peace away from thoughts that run your world. Let's start the week off to positive start. 

Sometimes I think we need to step away from a round up of great kitchen items and how-tos and just be real for a second. If you noticed my absence on the blog last week, here’s why:

I’ve been going through a season of being hard on myself: feeling bad about gaining a few pounds, not working out enough, slipping up on my diet plan, feeling like no one likes me because of silly things I make up, pushing to be busy so that I feel successful (when I really am just ignoring the real problem) and not giving 100% to any one thing. 

As a result, I have worn myself out and spread myself too thin. I need to get down and dirty to make Fanciful Ink a success and really devote time to it more than I have (which has actually been a lot) but I also need to know when to chill out in the evenings. I have conditioned myself to think that if I’m not doing something, I am simply being lazy. Let me just say this: I think that being lazy is good for us sometimes. We need those moments to decompress and look at our lives.

Our world is so busy all the time. It seems like busy=success. That is certainly a huge lie we are telling ourselves. Busy is just making us look like we are important. Importance leads to comparison of others who are “busy” (read: successful) and we put ourselves down so much that our self worth is measured in how many things you can pack into one day.

I was trying to be a good Barre Amped teacher, run this blog with fresh content that was interesting and build up my business. I was never giving 100% to any one of those things. I started to dread Barre Amped, felt burdened coming up with a fabulous post and overwhelmed by business in general. 

At the beginning of March, I knew something had to go or had to be redefined. This past week I have allowed myself to cleanse-in many ways. After being a Tone It Up member for years now, I finally did the seven day slim down. I had been feeling some extra weight and generally just felt icky. Sticking to the plan was much harder than expected, especially from days 5-7 when I just wanted a piece of bread. This past week I also switched up my teaching schedule at Barre Amped. Now I start my weeks off with ladies who are inspiring in their strength and a joy to be around. That leaves the rest of my week free to tackle Fanciful Ink projects, spend time with my husband, do housework and in general have time to simply be. I took a little break from the blog as well hoping to find inspiration and come up with ideas to showcase on here. 

My results? Well, I slimmed down. I don’t know if others will notice but I do and my husband does and I feel better. What did I learn? Balance is key when it comes to diet and exercise. I do my best to eat clean and I hope to keep that up but I also think cheat meals are necessary. They keep you sane. Don’t beat yourself up over some cheese dip at the Mexican place or a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday. If you keep up a generally healthy lifestyle the rest of the time, those little treats are ones to savor. With my new class schedule at Barre Amped I felt refreshed and it started off my week with a very positive tone of strength and has helped me be more adamant about a workout schedule. I have started to wrap up some design projects, spent some time with my husband for longer than a couple of hours at night and in general have relaxed

The result from my week of cleansing was balance. Thank God. I needed it to find it. I think I will still be working on it but I need to enjoy my obligations and find delight in moments that are mundane or that I would normally dread. I challenged myself to do that this week and with our 100 happy days challenge as well, it’s working. It just takes commitment to find the best balance possible for your life. Let some things go, rearrange and allow yourself to breathe. When we are suffocated by all these different things that threaten to kill our joy, we die inside and become apathetic. 

I’ll have a post later this week on tips to balance your life. Thank you for reading, I know this was a long post and it didn’t involve anything pretty! 

Breathe, balance and find the beauty in all the moments of your day this week. 



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