Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Best salad I've ever had

This recipe is from an awesome cookbook my friend gave to me...The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without by Mollie Katzen

Is it legal to blog about it???  Someone tell me if it's not and I'll take it off right away.  I'm shortening the directions a bit too...

Broccoli, Apples, and Red Onion in Honey Mustard Marinade (longest title ever)

1 large bunch broccoli, cut into florets
2 T cider vinegar
2 T dijon mustard
1/2 t minced garlic
1/4 t salt
2 t honey
5 T olive oil (I usually only do about 2 of 3 T)
3/4 C thinly sliced red onion
1 medium apple, thinly sliced

Steam the broccoli until it is bright green and tender crisp.  Put the red onions on top of the broccoli so the steam can soften them for the last minute or so.  Mix vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, honey, and olive oil in a medium sized bowl.  Add broccoli, onion, and apple and mix well with the dressing.

Oh man.  You're gonna love it, I promise.

Monday, April 28, 2014


A few weeks ago, I heard a talk that I loved.  It was about being grateful.  I don't know if it's a consequence of hearing and thinking about this talk or just random timing, but I have been feeling extremely grateful the last little while.  

This is weird, really.  I've always had a hard time being grateful.  I've had countless lessons on having an "attitude of gratitude".  I've tried the gratitude journal thing.  I've been told to count my blessings.  And I've always found a way to continue comparing my life to some elusive standard I see plastered all over the billboards, commercials, magazines, and ads thrown at me everyday.

The fact is that I haven't always been as grateful as I could be.  There have been moments.  Like when I got back from my humanitarian trip to Peru.  My husband and I walked into our small condo and almost kissed our microwave, clean toilet, and fridge.  I felt grateful for a few weeks...and then my thoughts slipped back to what I don't have, what I want, how much money we don't have, let's go shopping aimlessly again...

And right now my life isn't really going like I planned.  See my How this started post.  It's been over a year now since I found out I was pregnant with conjoined twins.  And then the miscarriage.  And the other miscarriage.  Yet, my heart is FULL of gratitude recently.  It's usually for somewhat silly and ordinary stuff.  Walking through the grocery store and picking out fruit and veggies that are fresh and delicious.  Glancing at the mountains on my drive home.  Cooking with spices that come from the other side of the world...isn't that crazy if you sit and think about it?  Spending some serious quality time with my 3-year-old without the distraction of another baby, or morning sickness for that matter.  A small and comfortable house to sleep in while listening to the pounding rain outside.  Am I getting too sappy?

Well, if I am, then read some of this.  These are some of my favorite lines from Dieter Uchtdorf.  HERE is the link to the whole talk if you want to read it.

But some might say, “What do I have to be grateful for when my world is falling apart?”
Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.
It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?
Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.
This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.
When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.
In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless13 and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Having new eyes

Yesterday was a rainy day.  We had (ok, I had) a long list of projects we wanted to get to, but most of them were outside.  So instead we went to IFA to show the kiddo the baby chicks and ducks (he ended up being more interested in the kid size gardening tools...suprise, surprise!) and then stopped at the nursery just a few blocks from our house.  That proximity has been bad for our budget.

We walked around a bit - mostly I followed my child pushing one of the carts around - until I came to this lovely shrub.  It's called spirea magic carpet. 

I fell in love.  A bit later, we walked out with this plant, along with a few others.  As soon as we got home, we walked around our yard, rain falling in our faces, looking for the perfect spot.  

I had to laugh because when we bought our place almost 5 years ago, I remember my husband making plans for the yard, saying stuff like, "We'll need more height here...I wish we had more plants with interesting foliage...we'll have to get some more..."  and I was like "blah, blah, are flowers...whatever.  Let's just focus on getting grass down so there isn't so much dirt tracked in our house!"

Oh how times have changed!  His love of gardening has rubbed off on me big time.  I was reminded of something I read recently in The God Who Weeps (one of the best books I have EVER read).  The authors quote the philosopher Bertrand Russell:

"The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible."  The authors then paraphrase, "The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has."

My husband is one of the happiest and most content people I have ever met.  And he is interested in EVERYTHING.  Well, most everything.  He is fascinated by the workings of everything around him.  And it is rubbing off on me.  Now I'm the one walking around the yard thinking of what I can look for next time we go to the nursery.  Our neighbors think we're crazy spending so much time in our yard, weeding, mowing, sitting on the porch and talking while the sun goes down.  I used to think it was crazy too, but the simplicity of gardening has brought me happiness I didn't notice before.  I think it's lovely :)

"The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new vistas but in having new eyes."  -Rachel Remen

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I am who I am

Something I have ALWAYS lacked is self confidence.  I constantly second guess who I am, what I really believe, what I want to be when I grow up...I even question stupid stuff like the amount of makeup I wear (or don't wear), the car I drive, the movies I like or dislike, my thriftiness, how I'm raising my kid, the restaurants I love, the music I listen to, the things I say during conversations....

It's exhausting.  I come home from a social event, or even the grocery store, and wonder "Why did she say that to me?  Am I wrong to think that way?  I wish my clothes looked like that.  Why don't I live my life more like that?  What must they think about me?  What do they say about me when I'm not around?"

Compare, compare, compare, doubt, doubt, doubt, fester, fester, fester.....

I hope I'm not alone in this.  Maybe in my intensity, but please tell me other women are unsure of themselves too....

So, a few days ago, I came home from one such event that caused me grief for the next 24 hours at least.  I had expressed an opinion on something I sincerely felt, had gotten a negative reaction from someone, had immediately doubted myself, and then had let it fester inside me until I felt sure I must be crazy.  I was talking to my husband about it and suddenly realized that most of the things I feel insecure about in my life are really things that I have consciously decided.  I don't go with the flow and follow the crowd.  At least in most cases.  I do what I do because I've seen that there is a choice, I've thought about it, and I've chosen something that makes sense to me.  I live an authentic life.  Or at least I try to.

I CHOOSE to be thrifty and cheap and save what little money we have to create memories rather than buy stuff.  I CHOOSE to skip the makeup and fancy clothes and instead spend more time outside, hiking, playing with my kid, reading, writing.  I like quilting and sewing.  I'd rather spend an evening at home reading a book next to my husband than attending a social event.  I like music that isn't mainstream.  I'd rather eat brussels sprouts than chocolate cake.  I love to go to art galleries.  I'd rather go backpacking than go on a cruise and be pampered.  I love to visit other countries and cultures.  I WANT to hear views that oppose my own so I can understand the world better.  I want to be a stay at home mom, not a career woman.  I'd rather be comfortable in my clothes than beautiful in what I wear.  I can't keep myself away from thrift stores.  I like to buy weird t-shirts.  I have gotten really into canning and preserving stuff from my garden over the last few
years.  I keep lists of anything you can imagine...  and IT'S OK!!!  I am enough!  I am who I am and I don't need to make excuses for myself or my behavior or my opinions.  Is this so stupid that I'm 31 and just now coming to this conclusion?

And just so I'm not misunderstood, I also believe the best part of this is that everyone has the choice to live their authentic life too.  The stuff that I choose isn't going to be the best choice for anyone else.  We might overlap in some areas, but one of the beauties of life for me is watching how other people choose to live their lives, what their strengths and quirks and interests are.  I'm probably a nerd, but it fascinates me a little bit.  I'm just realizing that as I'm watching other people, I need to STOP the comparing and see the value in my own life.

"It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection."
-ancient Yogic text

"I believe in being what I am instead of what sounds good to the rest of the world....
a friend reminded me that you only have to talk about what you DO for five minutes at parties, but you have to LIVE what you do every day of your life, so better to do what you love, and forget about how it looks."
- Yolanda O'Bannon in This I Believe II

I can't tell you how hard it was to push the publish button on this one....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wanting less

This was posted on a blog I check's also listed on my "blogs that inspire me" list on the right side of this page.  All of the posts are good, but I wanted to share this the moment I saw it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tomato Basil Hummus

Another creation of ours.  Well, it's technically from my husband.  This is especially amazing with carrot sticks.

Tomato Basil Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained...but save the liquid to add in later
about half a can of tomato paste
1/2 T dried basil
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t garlic salt
1 T soy sauce
5 T lemon juice
1 t cumin
1 T olive oil

Blend in food processor or blender until smooth.  If you need more liquid, use the reserved stuff from your can of garbanzo beans.  Serve with chips, crackers, bread, veggies, etc

Friday, April 18, 2014

Homemade wheat bread

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm just a tiny bit obsessed with bread.  When asked the question, "What is your favorite food?" I reply without hesitation, "Bread."  I love it.  I've always loved white bread, especially fresh out of the oven, but in the past couple years I have converted myself to wheat bread.  Because, as my dad loves to remind me, the whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead.

Here is the recipe I make at least a couple times a month.  It is a combination of 2 or 3 recipes I've experimented with.  It is a creation of my own so it is not as precise as it probably should be.  If you are wanting to make it and have questions, let me know :)  It makes four loaves.

9 Grain Wheat Bread

Mix together (I use a Bosch):
5 C hot water
1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C honey

Add 3 C wheat flour and mix for about 15-20 seconds.  Add 3 T yeast and mix again.  Let sit for about 5 minutes while the yeast grows and bubbles.  Then add:

3 T dough enhancer (optional)
1 T salt
1/3 heaping C wheat gluten

Turn Bosch on low and slowly add:

1 C oats
1 C 9 grain cereal (I get this in bulk at Winco)
2 C white flour
4 C wheat flour (plus or minus a cup)

You'll have to turn up the speed on the mixer as it gets thicker.  Stop adding wheat flour when the dough starts pulling away from the edges and isn't too sticky.  I know, that's such a clear direction, but it's the best I can do when not in person.  Mix on high for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 equal parts, spray bread pans with non-stick spray, and form loaves for each pan.

Turn oven on to 350 for one minute, turn it off, and stick the loaves in the warm oven for about 23 minutes.  Then turn oven on again to 350 and let bake for about 25 minutes.

Yum.  I hope you like it as much as we do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Do something

Here's a quote by Helen Keller I've heard before but was reminded of recently:

"I am only one, but still I am one.  I can not do everything, but still I can do something.  I will not refuse to do the something I can do."

This made me think of a book I found at the DI a couple years ago.  It's called What's Worth Knowing and it is a collection of life advice from seniors living in rest homes.  One lady named Ella May Jones said, "I take each day one at a time.  Whatever I can do, I do."  Another lady, Grace Stanchfield, said she lives her final days thinking, "There must be something I can do for someone..."

Isn't that impressive?  Here are these people who have lost most of their independence, health, family, homes, and everything that is familiar to them, and they are saying, "Hey, I can still do SOMETHING.  Life can still be worthwhile!  Someone can benefit from me being here and being alive."  And it keeps them going.
I need to feel like I'm needed and important.  I want to make a difference somehow, even if it is small.  I think most people are this way.  We need to find meaning in life.  We need to use our talents and strengths to bless the lives around us.  We want to be seen and noticed.  We need to keep doing something...anything, especially when life takes away dreams we've had or plans we've made.

Most days I feel very small.  I'm not a great, influential person in the world.  I have a long list of flaws.  There are things in my past I'm ashamed of and there are parts of myself I want to hide.  I struggle in ways that make me feel small and worthless.  I'm afraid that there is nothing I can give to make the world better.  I worry that my imperfections will keep me from ever achieving anything great.  But when I read the words of these great people, I feel hope that despite any weaknesses or struggles I may have, I can still do SOMETHING to make the world just a bit better.  I'm almost certain my something won't be as big as the something Helen Keller did, but still I can do something.  I can do something good each day, even if it's small, like kicking the soccer ball around with my kid or cooking a healthy meal for my family.

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I eat plants

Looking over past posts, I realize I'm not being great at sticking to the theme "live with less and have more" all the time.  I mean, most of my posts come from thoughts that in some way stem from that general theme, but....well, here's one I've been thinking of sharing for a while.  If you're a vegetarian hater, read no more!  

I decided to dramatically cut back my meat-eating about 4 1/2 years ago.  While at first my motives were entirely selfish (I'm pretty sure eating red meat was killing my insides), I now see eating less meat as one big way that I "live with less and have more."

Here are my reasons (which have evolved over time) for giving up my beloved steak and carnitas:

1. Health.  Like I said, meat was hating me.  That was the primary reason I gave it up in the first place.  I used to get serious crampiness every morning that would make me double over in pain.  I read a book called The China Study that convinced me to at least give vegetarianism a try.  Obviously it helped.  The American diet is killing all of us slowly.  Go to the library and pick up the DVD documentary Forks Over Knives  It's crazy!

2. Bacteria and animal nastiness.  I've always been super grossed out by bloody, sinewy, gristly meat.  And I would often worry about bacteria lurking in my kitchen after I cut up and cooked meat.  I don't have to worry about it anymore.

3. Pollution.  I read recently that runoff from farmlands is one of the biggest threats to water quality today.  Also the EPA says that "95 percent of pesticide residue in the typical American diet comes from meat."

4. Ethics.  I just copied and pasted this info from here

About 70 percent of all grain produced in the United States is fed to animals raised for slaughter. The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the American population. “If all the grain currently fed to livestock were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” says David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell University. If the grain were exported, it would boost the US trade balance by $80 billion a year.

Whoa.  Those are some serious numbers.  This reminds me of a quote I saw at my sister-in-law's house - "Live simply so others may simply live."

5. Animal Cruelty.  Now, I'm not an animal lover or advocate.  I don't even really like my own dog.  But the stuff I've read about and seen on documentaries like Food, Inc makes me sad.  I feel bad that our diet is to blame for what's going on in the meat industry.  

So, if you're still reading this and not rolling your eyes at me, just know that I'm not writing any of this to convince you or preach.  I'm just sharing information.  And maybe hoping a little that someone who reads this will decide to cut back on their meat-eating.  Believe me, it is soooo delicious.  And I think it's one way to make a small change for the better.

I will keep posting some of my favorite vegetarian recipes.  You can ignore them if you want...but don't :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What do we live for...

I have lots of thoughts rolling around in my brain right now...but not much of a desire to write for some reason.  So here are a couple quotes that are always in the back of my mind.  I try to live my life by these words.  I rarely succeed but I'm always trying!

"What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?"
-George Eliot

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."
-John Wooden

My parents are classic examples of this last quote especially.  I grew up watching both of them dedicate their lives to serving others in ways that truly could never be repaid.  I couldn't have had better models for how to live.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

(don't hate me for posting pictures of you, k?)