The One with the Crooked Tree

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Well, we’ve got ourselves a leaner.  Our perfectly full and even-branched tree is split in the middle – about four feet up the tree it branches off into two major sections, so that our tree top is a little more than slightly askew.  But you know, I still like him.  The house smells like heaven, and the lights do wonders in cheering up our quickly dark afternoons.

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We won’t be moving until after we return from the holidays, so I went into full nesting mode over the weekend, baking up a storm and trimming the whole apartment.  The recipes you’re going to want to add to your repertoire:

Apple Cider Ginger Snaps

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Pecan Chocolate Chip Snowballs

I brought a few of these sweets to a mug exchange party, and between that and watching the Holiday it felt like the perfect Christmasy weekend.  Of course, I avoided all the grading I needed to do, and will be paying dearly over the next week.  But in the midst of this crazy season of three schools and a new house, I continue to feel this undercurrent of peace – that I am precisely where I am supposed to be, and that in my brokenness I am being made whole.  And it’s exactly in this season where I can so obviously count the ways that God is using the people around me to affirm and encourage me in his plan, and I’m learning to open myself up to do the same for others.  Letting people in on my story has never been sweeter.

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Soon, sweet puppy, you’ll have a new house full of street-level window access so you can gaze the day away.  Until then, save the snuggles for the couch you’re (supposedly) not allowed on.

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The One with a Recipe Rut

Of all the things I love, feeding people comes in pretty high on my list.  I love the cooking and the baking and the mess-making and every once in a while, I love the dish-cleaning too.  But between shifting schedules, coaching seasons, and four evening classes each week, I’ve quickly found myself in a cooking rut.  I’m bare minimum kitchen lady lately, which just isn’t natural around these parts.  We’re surviving off of like, four recipes.

It’s this veggie lo meinthis roasted broccolithese slow cooker carnitas, Pepe’s pizza from down the street with this salad on the side, and my ability to make popcorn on the stove (but always separate batches because I like mine with sugar and the tall husband does not).  Honorable mention to Trader Joe’s harvest blend grains and cheese tortellini.

So for some food inspiration, I’m charging myself with revisiting some old favorites and branching out and trying a few new recipes over the next month or two.  Hold me accountable, good people.  Ask me how many times I ate roasted broccoli last week.  The struggle is real.

 

Items to revisit –

This buffalo chicken mac & cheese – Joe loved this when I made it the first time around, and for whatever reason I’ve forgotten about it until now.

These strawberry cupcakes – never forgotten, just waiting until summer and the right occasion to whip these up – but who’s to say that a random Thursday isn’t the right occasion for these bad boys?

This crockpot lasagna – crazy simple and reheats so well for lunches the rest of the week… or at least it did that one time I was organized enough to plan for lunches in advance.

 

New player lineup –

This tequila lime shrimp – because I actually have tequila in the house and like zero tolerance for pre-mixed margaritas

This one pot pasta recipe – one. pot.  that’s all.

This kung pao chicken – because the tall husband isn’t the biggest fan of Chinese food, preparing it at home with friendly ingredients makes it much more likely to please his palate and 100% more likely that I’ll get to eat Chinese food.

 

Wish me (and my kitchen) luck!

The One after a Fast

Well, I had this neat little wrap-up post planned for how I completed the Daniel Fast and gained so much out of it, but then we made last minute plans to spend Easter in the Carolinas, and the fast fell quickly to the wayside.

Here’s the thing – I already did the super-restricted-diet-that-demands-accomodations thing at a birthday dinner for a friend and really hated it.  I stuck to my fast, but I felt uncomfortable, and like my dietary weirdness distracted me from really celebrating.  Ultimately, my  momma raised me better than to make unreasonable demands as a guest in someone’s home, especially when I have no medical reason behind my requests.  I hate inconveniencing people, and so on our long weekend visiting family, I ditched the fast for the most part, and focused on being present and spending quality time with our loved ones.  I feel okay with this decision in the long run, and don’t think it took away from everything else I learned while fasting, but I do sort of wish I could have finished strong.

Some of my main take-aways from the fast:

I loved the prayer focus.  I hope to continue keeping up that structure – it made my time spent in prayer seem productive, and it also kept my heart close to those issues and people.

Veggies are my best friends.  I am aiming to keep a mostly plant based diet, with (well sourced) animal protein being a bonus on occasion.  But overall, I feel much more confident in my ability to prepare filling vegetarian meals.

While I love pizza and ice cream, they don’t love me back.  So moderation is key here, like everything else.  And I’m still working hard to keep away from excess sugar (some days it’s a losing battle).

Some of my newly discovered favorite recipes (how I survived the Daniel Fast):

Garlicky Roasted Broccoli

Roasted Carrots

Crockpot Marinara

Italian Orzo Spinach Soup

Barley Vegetable Stew

Veggie Lo Mein

Veggie Fajita Pasta

Raw Peanut Butter Cookies

Some recipes I made my own adjustments to in order to fit in with the fast (like the stew – omit chicken, sub veggie broth for chicken broth).  Overall, we became good at eating leftovers, and more often than not, would have a huge bowl of roasted veggies over some brown rice.  I am not a salad lover, and especially with fasting during cold weather, I leaned more towards soups and hot meals.

Overall, I loved finding new favorite foods, and found a great spiritual balance during this time, making this Easter celebration really sweet.  Extra thanks to sweet friends and a very loving husband for supporting me in this little adventure!

The One with a Fast Break

Look here, dear friends.  Before I met my wonderful husband, I knew zero things about basketball.  In fact, once during trivia I wrongly answered that ‘b-ball’ stood for baseball.  And now here I am, making basketball puns about breaking my Daniel Fast ((what a world we live in)).

So I broke my lenten fast for approximately 40 hours.  Because mother-daughter weekend in one of my favorite towns, that’s why.  Ultimately, I felt like our time of fellowship was more meaningful being fully enjoyed ((vineyard tours and all)) than any enrichment I would get from sticking to my fast.  And if that justification is too much of a stretch, well too darn bad.  The food in Charlottesville is just that good.

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My mom and I met up in Charlottesville Friday afternoon, and shopped, wedding-shower-planned, ate, photographed, and walked our way through the fabulous town.  Gosh, the sandwiches from Take it Away.  And the red, white and blue nachos from Continental Divide ((that’s blue corn chips with goat cheese and red onions, for you poor deprived souls who haven’t graced this Cville haunt)).  It was so sweet to spend some much needed quality time with my momma, and it was nice to be in a well-loved familiar place.   Plus, my mom makes a pretty stunning model, right?

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I often joke about moving to a “dirty harbor” after being in such a cute little town, but the people in Baltimore make driving away from the beautiful mountains so worth it.  Baltimore may have won my heart, but Charlottesville forever has my taste buds.

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