Monday, January 31, 2011

Risotto For One

Risotto is one of my favorite foods, but I don't eat it too often. The fact that it's not especially healthy doesn't have nearly as much to do with this as it should. It has more to do with the fact that it's expensive, and Jeff really only likes it occasionally as a side dish with something else, and it takes a long time to cook and is kind of labor intensive.
I'm more than happy to invest the time and money into it when I get to share it with other people, especially other people I know (or I hope) will enjoy it. It's kind of become one of our "entertaining" foods. I like being able to share the good stuff with other people. I derive pleasure from seeing them pleased.

But what about me? What about what I want? And the fact of the matter is, I want risotto more often than I get it. I have been thinking lately about needs and wants and how they fit into my life. Not just the tangible stuff like food or clothes or shelter, but the intangible stuff like rest and peace and comfort. The risotto just happened to be an appropriate illustration that really got my attention. Because the fact of the matter is, I'm not very good at meeting my own needs, satisfying my own cravings because I don't ever try.

I have really been craving risotto lately. And we finally went to the store a few weeks ago and got some more. But Jeff is now on a low-carb kick. And he's teaching so he's not home for dinner a couple of nights a week. And work as been keeping me on my toes and I've been coming home really beat. And... and... and...

So the other night I decided that I was going to make some risotto for myself. Just for myself. Jeff was teaching and would be home late. I had worked all day but really felt as though a half hour or so over the stove would be good for me and help me de-stress before I finished a paper I had to get turned in. So that's exactly what I did. And it took me a little while to figure out what I was doing. Because I had never had to cut a recipe down for one person before! But I did it and it was delicious. It tasted better than it ever has before. I don't know if it's because I was using some different spices or because I was simply cooking less, or because I wasn't rushed and could invest the time that it needed. Or maybe because I was doing it for me.

As I was taking the time to do this, I decided to also take the time to listen to the objections that kept popping up in my head.
"It's not worth wasting a serving on just me."
"I should save this for something or someone special."
"Why spend the time if you're the only one who will be able to enjoy it?"

There were others, but they were variations on this same theme. And that really got me thinking about my priorities and what happens when I listen to myself and DON'T give in to those thoughts. Because I didn't let myself be deterred by all my doubts. I did what I wanted. I made risotto just for me, and it was spectacular. And not only was my craving satisfied, I felt really good about it. I enjoyed the process of satisfying the craving, not simply the end result. And that was an important lesson for me. That it's not just about the destination, it's the journey. And it doesn't have to be an uphill climb the whole way!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Previous Cruises

I didn't go on my first cruise until I was in divinity school. I have been on two my whole life, and I am eagerly awaiting my third. And as I gear up for the next one, I can't help but look back on the first two and consider the ups and downs of them both.

The first one was a five day out of Mobile that went to Cozumel and Costa Maya Mexico on the Holiday. The weather was not horrible, but the sea was a little rough. I didn't get seasick and I actually enjoyed the rocking of the boat, but many folks disagreed with me. I went over spring break with my friend D. and at dinner, we were at a table with 8 other random college-aged kids from all over. It was fun (especially on the last night when one of the guys was buying drinks for the table!) but not something I would eagerly sign up for again! I did enjoy having the late seating at dinner. We went on one shore excursion (Cozumel) where we went to this little beach park. It was nice because they had bathrooms, beach chairs, a pool, shaded places to sit, and an open bar. I don't know that it was worth what we paid for it though! We were supposed to get to go snorkeling, too but the water was just too rough.

The second one was also a five day. It went to Cozumel and Progresso on the Fantasy. We were supposed to leave out of New Orleans, but there was a minor oil spill that was just enough of a headache to screw up everything. The boat couldn't get in the day we were supposed to leave, so we all had to show up at the terminal in New Orleans and then ride a bus to Mobile to get on the boat there. Then, they still didn't have it cleaned up when we got back so we had to come back to Mobile, ride a bus to New Orleans, then get on a plane to Birmingham (and after that I had to drive back to Nashville!) Yeah, not cool. It was CRAZY hot so it was kind of miserable weather-wise. I guess because it was summer and there were a lot more families, there were lots of kids that were totally unsupervised and just allowed to go nuts, which I did not appreciate at all! We went with Jeff's WHOLE family, so there were 30-something of us on this boat together. It was a lot of togetherness! At dinner, Jeff and I sat with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. His parents and grandparents were at the next table. We did a little table shuffling for one or two meals, but it was kind of a pain. It was a good cruise for hanging out though! And the family photos on formal night were great! We went snorkeling in Cozumel and I wasn't a huge fan. I'm just not a strong enough swimmer for that!

This next cruise is going to be a very different experience. I'm expecting more great pictures from the formal nights (we get two because it's a longer cruise) and we will be having the early seating for dinner again. We will be going to Cozumel and Costa Maya again, but we won't be doing either of those shore excursions I've done before. I won't tell you what we are doing, you'll just have to stay tuned and find out!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Five Boycott

Ok, so I'm having a bit of a temper tantrum today, and I'm boycotting today's Friday Five that asks for your five favorite scriptures. On a good day, this would require quite a bit of work for me but I might enjoy some of it. Today, I just don't have it in me.

There are a couple of reasons. The first is that I'm just not good at quoting scripture and giving chapter and verse. I generally know what lots of good stuff says and I know where to go look it up if I need it for something (like I would have to do today if I was that invested) but I can't just pull it out of my head.

The second reason is just my being a bit obnoxious in that I'm kind of put off by the idea that since we are ministers we have to have a favorite scripture. I have several that are meaningful or have been meaningful at different times. Different passages speak to me in different ways at different times, and sometimes nothing is speaking to me, which I think is also okay.

The third is directly tied to the first two. A little over a week ago at a staff meeting we were informed that, for our devotional time, we were going to go around the table and say our favorite verse and why. Well, as you can probably guess from reasons one and two, this didn't go over well with me because we didn't know about this ahead of time and I didn't have my phone (which has a bible on it) with me or a bible or anything else to use as a reference. But still, everyone was on the spot. I pulled something out but I really don't remember what I said so clearly it wasn't especially meaningful.

So at this point, having the same assignment again isn't sitting well with me. And sure I could come up with a few things to simply complete the assignment, but that's kind of not the point. So yeah, I'm not playing today.

But I'm posting anyway because, well, I can. And also to throw out my self-care stuff for this week.
I had therapy on Wednesday like usual, but I have worked on doing some other things. One was that I made risotto for myself for dinner last night. I'm still working on some thoughts around that, so stay tuned if you're interested to hear what I reflected on around that. It'll probably be coming in the next few days.

So yeah. Sorry I'm being a bad sport about this. I'm just having a moment. Hopefully by next week it will have passed!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stuffed Shells

This is one of those recipes that makes a ridiculous amount of food! It does involve a little bit of work, but also freezes well, so this would be a good weekend recipe. You can make several small pans, having one for dinner immediately and freezing the others for quick and easy dinners later on!

1 lb ground beef (or turkey, or italian sausage)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 container (15 oz) Ricotta cheese
1 cups Mozzarella Cheese
Herbs and spices to taste (I used rosemary, thyme, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper)

Basically, just throw this stuff into a pan and let it get fantastic on you. You could also easily throw in a package of frozen spinach for a little extra something!

You'll also need 1 box of Jumbo Shells (or some other large pasta you can stuff). I boiled mine in batches but I guess you could throw them all into a big pot at one time. You'll only want to boil them about 5-6 minutes because you want them to still be firm enough to be handled and stuffed without falling apart on you!

I cheated and used regular cans of tomato sauce here. Not even the seasoned kind, just the cheap little cans (you'll need 2-3, depending on how saucy you like your pasta) Put a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of your pan to keep the shells from sticking. Crushed tomatoes would also be good here if you like things a little on the chunky side.

When your shells are cooked, just put a good spoonful of filling into each shell and fill your pan(s). Then top with the leftover tomato sauce and more mozzarella cheese.

At this point you can either stick it in the over, cover and refrigerate for later, or wrap in foil and freeze for much later.

When you're ready to cook it, you'll probably want to get it out and let it get a little closer to room temp. If it's frozen you may want to take it out the night before and stick it in the fridge, then pull it out and set it on the counter while the oven pre-heats.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (until everything is hot and melty!)

I am thinking that in the future, I will do this sort of like a baked ziti instead of going to the trouble to stuff the shells. I'm lazy like that. I'm probably also going to make a minor substitution for the ricotta - cream cheese! Not that I don't love ricotta (because I do!) but I don't keep it in the house all that often. However, I almost always have cream cheese, so I could still have my gooey, cheesy pasta without a special trip to the store! Stay tuned for that adventure.

As always, if you try this one, let me know!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week 3

I can officially cross "going without flip flops" off the list. And one pair of old flip-flops were thrown out. I hope you are thoroughly impressed!

I also started on my post-it artwork, but I hate what I did so I'm going to toss it and start over. No news on when that will be happening.

I have still been getting to bed before midnight, even last week when I was on call. We'll see what happens being on call Friday!

I got my invitation to the Boards and Agencies Dinner in a couple of weeks, but my on-call schedule just won't permit it. This means this one will HAVE to be done next year.

Jeff helped me start moving the office stuff out of the closet, but it's not done yet so it can't be crossed off yet.

I am going to try making beef stew, stuffed shells, and pork carnitas soon, so that'll put me up to five new recipes. I'm still looking for suggestions for others!

So yeah, that's this week's update! Tiny steps are being taken, but I'm going to have to pick things up to get this done!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five - Books

I am not digging this whole working on Friday thing (and thus, not getting my Friday Five done in a timely manner!) I think I'm going to have to start taking my laptop to work with me on Fridays and working on it over my lunch break. But enough griping...

Today's Friday Five touches on another of my all-time favorite topics - books! I generally can't get enough books, and it's been this way for as long as I can remember. Even when I was young, my brother and cousins would get toy airplanes and other stuff for Christmas, and all I would want is a stack of books. My grandmother would usually feel bad that I didn't have any toys, so she would get me the same thing she got the guys, but it usually went un-touched (or the guys would take it after one of theirs broke!) because all I wanted was my books!

What books have you recently read? Tell us your opinion of them. Unfortunately, I haven't done a ton of pleasure reading lately, most of it has been my texts for CPE. One fun one I found as a free Kindle download that I've really enjoyed was "Stuck in the Middle" by Virginia Smith. It's a little bit cheesy and predictable, but doesn't require a whole lot of mental investment to enjoy it. It's the first of a trilogy so I will probably get the others soon.

What books are awaiting your available time to be read? The newest one by Jan Karon, the new one or two by Joanne Fluke, the second of the "Miss Julia" books, and anything Janet Evanovich might be coming out with. Also, the next two of the Virginia Smith trilogy. I'm keeping a good list of stuff I want to get before vacation in April! I have a few leftovers from my last beach vacation in September that I haven't gotten to and one of the Mrs. Murphy mysteries my step-mom gave me, but none of them are really tugging at me right now. Harry Potter is somewhere on the radar, but I may put that one in my audio book list!

Have any books been recently recommended? The Resilient Practitioner, which is a guide for self-care for those in the "high touch" professions. It's more work reading than pleasure reading, but I enjoyed what I saw of it and am looking forward to digging into it more in the weeks to come.

Also, Hinds Feet on High Places. It's not something I would have chosen for myself, but I'm enjoying it none the less. It's going to take me a little time to get through it because it's not "fluff" and it's very thought provoking, but I can see this becoming an important part of my personal library. I still haven't decided if I can say I am enjoying it or simply appreciating it.

What genre of books are your favorites, along with some titles/authors you enjoy? I don't know if I necessarily have a favorite genre, but I classify them as "fluff" because they are typically fiction and don't require a whole lot of attention or intentional engagement. Right now my favorites are Jan Karon, Janet Evanovich, and Joanne Fluke. I'd love to get back into reading some stuff by Beverly Lewis and maybe even more Nicholas Sparks. But for now, I will stick to whatever I have the time and/or funds for (which right now is not much on either account!)

What have you read lately that you have a strong urge to recommend? Nothing really jumping out at me right now. Like I said, most everything has been pastoral care texts. If you need some thoughts on those, let me know!

Bonus thoughts: Are you a book purist or do you embrace the digital? I got my Kindle about 3 years ago when they were brand new. And I have really loved it. My husband loves the fact that it's that many less books he has to try and find a home for or move! I have since gotten the Kindle app for my computer (not ideal, but it works) and my iPhone. I ADORE having it on my phone because I always have something to read. Waiting just about anywhere doesn't really bother me anymore because I am never bored! Have to sit for an hour at the restaurant waiting for a table? No problem! Gonna be 45 more minutes at the oil change place? Fine! Stuck in an elevator at work? Doesn't bother me a bit! The only down side is that I can't (ok, won't) use it for professional stuff. I like to be able to make my notes in the margins and put my sticky notes in and spread it out in front of me while I work. I still love beautiful, classic hardback books. And children's/picture books MUST be "real" books, but for my own stuff, digital is the way to go for me!

Self Care for the Week - Therapy on Wednesday. This week was good, but hard. I'm curious about the way next week will go. It sort of feels like watching a wreck on the highway. You know it's going to be messy but you can't help but be interested!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Week 2

Yes I know, I skipped Week 1. I had all kinds of good intentions about this list thing and it's just going to heck by my own slacker-ness, but last week was a bit odd and off I'm just going to go ahead and say thank you for your grace in this!

So what have I done towards my list? Well, there's nothing I can cross off the list yet, but as I started to look at the whole thing I've been surprised at what I've already started doing!

I'm working on the whole "getting to bed before midnight" thing, and so far I've been able to do that since Tuesday, January 11th. Monday night I was doing a lot of tossing and turning and not a lot of sleeping, but I was in the bed before midnight! Being on-call is potentially going to get in the way of this, but I'm going to keep trying. I've got two more overnight on-calls this month, but sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, so I'm going to keep trying on this one. I'm not going to let being on-call be my excuse.

I've tried two new recipes (chicken and dumplings and egg drop soup). The goal is six, so I'm on the way! If you have any suggestions for recipes you think I should try, shout them out!

I have gone without flip-flops since Sunday, Jan. 9th. The goal is two weeks, so if I can keep going until Monday, January 24th I can cross that one off the list! The fact that it's been FREEZING has helped (so does having some cute and comfy shoes). It was tough on Saturday and Monday when I didn't have to work, but I made myself put on "real" shoes anyway. I still love my flippers on the weekends, but I don't feel like I have to wear them all the time anymore. In fact, my brand new ones I got for Christmas are still brand new! And my pink pair are on their way to the trash...

I bought the supplies for making my post-it artwork, so now I just have to pull all my stuff upstairs and start working on it. I don't see it happening this weekend (or really for the rest of this month for that matter!) but perhaps I can work on it during my academic break between units.

The only thing holding me back from doing the cuss jar is my own laziness. Actually, I've decided we need two cuss jars in our house. One in the kitchen (because that and the dining room are where I tend to let loose) and one in the garage (where Jeff likes to let them fly!). Mine can be glass, but his needs to be plastic, so I'll have to repo my old rice canister to turn it into his cuss jar!

That's pretty much what has been happening so far. Hopefully by next week I can officially cross a few of these off the list!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm Melting

I'm melting. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. And in many ways, it's a relief. I've allowed myself to become frozen solid by my journey. It was absolutely necessary and helpful. Because when I was frozen, all this "stuff" that was floating around without structure or support, trying to find a place, became solid. It combined and held together. A lot of stuff went into the creation of the iceberg.

I was resilient. Stuff could bounce off of me. Even when a portion of me was sinking, I was still able to float. To move. To be influenced. I was solid. I was strong. I couldn't be destroyed. But I was holding on to so much. Some of it was good and some of it was gross. And even when I appeared to be great, there was still all this stuff buried inside. You might be able to see a little edge of something, a little piece. But for the most part it was hidden.

I'll never completely melt. I'll never go back to that state of mess and chaos. But I'm softening. Parts of me are melting. The stuff that had been buried is slowly being exposed. And some of that nasty stuff is falling away. The parts that are melting are letting that water run down and create new paths, new patterns, new ways of appearing and of being.

I got probably the greatest compliment ever today. It wasn't even phrased as a compliment. It was an amusing story. The compliment of it was not just sort of a fact of the story. But it was the first time I'd heard it. And I really thought I was going to cry because I was so touched! And my head is still sort of swimming from it.

I'm melting. Softening. Being re-shaped. It's glorious.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Egg Drop Soup

Recently I've been absolutely loving (and really craving) Egg Drop Soup. Our favorite Chinese place does it so simply yet beautifully that I figured I had to give it a shot!

3 cans chicken broth (or whatever kind of broth you like for a base!)
2-3 splashes soy sauce (you may only want to start with one unless you're using the low-sodium chicken broth)
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup beaten egg

Heat the broth with all the other stuff except the eggs. When the broth is thoroughly warmed through (not really boiling, but almost). Then, take your spoon and make a little whirlpool in your pot. Then slowly drizzle your egg into the pot as it's swirling. It'll cook itself in about three minutes. I actually used egg substitute, and while it didn't look as pretty, it still tasted good.

I'm not a tofu person, but if you like it, you could easily toss in some tofu or sprouts or mushrooms or anything else you'd like in there. I'm a no-frills kind of gal (at least when it comes to my egg drop soup) so I like to keep it simple.

The recipe called for ginger, but I didn't have any. It really needs it. It wasn't bad, but it could have been better. I enjoyed it, and I will definitely make it again.

It's a surprisingly quick and easy dinner that I can throw together after work. If you like egg drop soup, give it a try. And as usual, if you try it (and especially if you improve on it!) let me know.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ridiculously Easy Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings has always been one of my favorite foods. But I never got it homemade growing up so I never learned how to make it and therefore never really tried.

I found a recipe for chicken and dumplings in the crock pot and was a little hesitant, but I figured as long as it was better than the stuff from a can, it would be counted as a win.

I may actually start making this like once a week. It really shouldn't even count as cooking, but it does!

1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3-4)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
about 1 cup water
black pepper and onion powder (next time I will also add a little garlic powder)

Put it all in the crock pot on low for about 8 hours (or high for about 4) or until the chicken is cooked. Then shred it with a fork.

Now, for the dumplings. If cooking for you requires dirtying more than a single fork you can mix up some dumplings with baking mix. Or you can be as lazy as I was and use a can of biscuits. Just tear them into little pieces and drop them in with the chicken. Make sure you poke them in and put the lid back on for about half an hour!

Yup, that's it! I'm telling you, it's amazing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Five

Today's Friday Five invites us to share five things that made getting out of bed worthwhile this morning. I'll admit it, it was a tough thing this morning!

My new book: Technically it's not mine, I'm only borrowing it for the week. But I'm really getting into it and there is the distinct possibility that I will finish it during the week I have it. I'll say more about it in a few weeks in my post on my second unit of CPE.

Being on call: I love my job, and I love being on call. It's kind of ironic that, as I started, being on call was the thing that TERRIFIED me the most. Now it's one of my favorite parts of the job.

Music: Driving to and from work (when snow and ice aren't involved) is actually kind of enjoyable for me. I have some good music on my phone that helps give me some good "me" time.

The weekend: I knew that the sooner I got up and went to work, the sooner I could come home to a day completely off!

Bright ideas: I have started keeping a list of things that might make some good research work for me in the event that I do decide to do a Level II residency. It makes it harder for my supervisor to say no when it's a research project that she suggested! I'm enjoying doing some of the preliminary research just to find out what is there (and the more often I find nothing, the more excited I get about the possibility of actually coming up with something to publish!)

Self Care for the Week: Therapy on Wednesday - I really do look forward to my appointments and I hate when I can't engage the way I want to, so I'm glad this week was better than last. I found out about some good things, and there's lots of good stuff on the horizon, so that is exciting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wardrobe Basics

Okay all you fashion-savvy folks, this one is just for you! I need your help!

I have decided that the new year is the perfect time to begin updating my wardrobe. While there are some that will swear that I have been dressing like a kindergarten teacher since high school, I feel like my wardrobe is currently more "high school student slouch" than young professional. And that needs to change.

Over the past couple of years I have been acquiring new bits and pieces here and there, but I want to get serious with what I have and what I need and getting rid of the stuff that is simply taking up space! I got a good start at Christmas this year, but there are still some things I need.

Khakis - plain old khaki pants that I can wear anywhere with anything. CJ Banks has been letting me down, but I'm still hopeful I can find some there because I really love the way their pants fit me!

Black dress pants - I have one pair that I'm not digging and don't really wear, so I need some I'll actually get out of the closet!

Denim jacket - preferable something a little feminine. There are a couple on the Dress Barn website that have my attention, but I will need to see them in person and try them on. I'm also open to other suggestions.

Sturdy cardigan - My friend Betsy has one that I have coveted for years but have never been able to find something like it. I don't want something super-thin and clingy, but something that will be a good go-to for a long time! I have found two from Lands End that aren't exactly what I want, but may be what I end up with because they're pretty close!

Shells/Tanks/Tees in lots of colors - Preferably something that is not super fitted/clingy but that is knit and has a little movement to it.

White button down - I know this is one of those things that every person needs, but I simply don't have it because I have yet to find one that fits comfortably and looks nice on me! Perhaps I need to shift simply to a nice white blouse?

No, I don't have a basic little black dress and no I don't want a basic little black dress. I know they're a classic, timeless staple, but my body is so odd right now that dresses in general don't fit me correctly! I have a good black skirt (part of a suit) and that is doing me for now!

And of course please feel free to let me in on any things you know of that I need and aren't on my list!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Marinated Mozarella

This is one I've been wanting to try for a while now, but never had the chance. I figured the holidays are the perfect excuse for trying stuff, so I gave it a try. I was a slacker and forgot photos, but I'm guessing you can use your imagination on this one!

Making this is actually super-duper easy. I did it in all of 10 minutes in the middle of the night because that's when I was thinking about it!

I used basil, rosemary, and thyme because these are what are in my garden and what I think of when I think "Italian". Oregano or other herbs would probably also be fantastic.

I also added some whole peppercorns, a little bit of crushed red pepper, a tiny bit of salt, and a whole glove of garlic (next time I would crush the garlic, but whatever floats your boat).

Of course, the main ingredient, the cheese! There are a few ways you can do this - the hard way is to get a large piece like a big ball or a log and cut it into pieces yourself. The not-so-hard way is to get pre-packaged little pieces. Now, I have seen/heard the little balls of mozzarella called "bocconcini" in lots of recipes. However, when I went to the store, the package that said "bocconcini" were about five still good sized balls per pound. NOT what I needed for appetizers. Luckily, there was a package marked "Mozarella Pearls" and that was exactly what I needed.

Moral of the story: Look at the actual product, not just the name on the label. You know what you're going for here! (Had I not been such a slacker, I would have pictures here. Sorry!)

Now, fill the jar up with olive oil and put on the lid. You may want to shake it up a little bit (even though everything will probably make its way back down to the bottom anyway!) and then stick it in the fridge. It needs to sit in there and marinate for at least three days, but you probably want to eat it within a week. You may want to take it out a bit before serving, but either way it works.

I ate these on little pieces of toast with pesto and a drizzle of balsamic. YUM!

I'm sure this would also be great tossed in a simple pasta salad, stuffed in a piece of chicken, or any where else you need a little bit of special cheesy goodness!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Five - Holiday Redux

Today's Friday Five invites us to take a little time to reflect on the holiday season that was before we try to move on to the things that are yet to come. The picture is our house the day after Christmas and the closest thing we have to a white Christmas is Alabama!

1. What food item was one of your favorites this year - a definite keeper? - I'm going to be a little self-centered here, but honestly my favorite thing from a holiday meal was my new recipe for dressing! No, I haven't shared this one yet, I think I'm going to hang on to it for a while. My favorite food from the time period in general not related to a specific gathering was the chicken and dumplings my step-mom's cousin made for us!

2. Was there a meal or party or gathering that stands out in your mind? - Well, no, not really. Nothing this year was like things have been in the past or like they will be ever again. It's not really a good or bad thing, it just sort of is. The one over-riding theme that I hope everyone takes away from this year and can remember in years to come is that there is a certain elegance to simplicity and that the holidays don't have to be synonymous with excess!

3. Were you involved in a jaw-dropper gift? Were you the giver, the recipient, or an on-looker? - I was a co-conspirator in my husband's "big" gift, which was his new helicopter and phone. In many ways I was in all three roles - I knew about and helped with getting the helicopter and the phones, I got a phone as part of it as well, but ultimately they were gifts from my family and I loved getting to see his face when he opened his present!

4. Was there at least one moment when you experienced true worship? I'm sad to say there really wasn't. I really REALLY missed having the opportunity to simply attend/participate in worship rather than planning and leading. The closest I got was the Christmas Carol service at the hospital, but at the last minute I got recruited to help lead so that killed a tiny bit of it for me.

5. What is at least one thing you want to make sure you do next year? Well, the first is that I want to make sure there is at least one worship service I am able to attend, observe, and participate in without having to have any sort of leadership or planning role in at all. (This one is on my list!) I am also going to make sure that we spend Christmas Eve at our house, preferably with nobody else there but us! In many ways this is directly tied to the first goal because I would love to be able to attend a Christmas Eve service close to home, then be able to make it home for pizza, the "Christmas Story" marathon on television, and to see Santa come through the neighborhood on the fire truck!

Bonus - What do you have to remember to do differently next year (or not at all?) - Honestly, I can't think of anything other than what I have already said. Keeping meals simple will be a change from the general past, but not from this year. Not trying to run all over creation and meet everyone else's needs is going to be a priority for us for the next year (not just around the holidays, but all year!) And taking time to be together and enjoy being together is what's driving it all!

In addition to my Friday Five, I have decided to take this opportunity to make myself a bit more accountable because I know more people will read on Friday than probably any other day. I mentioned last week that one of my hopes for the coming year was to be intentional about doing something for myself each week, so I am going to share what that thing has been this week!

Self Care for the week: Therapy on Monday. It wasn't nearly what I had hoped for, but that is entirely my fault because I was out of it. It was still what I needed.

You can expect to see therapy as a recurring theme for a little while, but I know that I will eventually not go every single week and even if that is the plan, life happens and often gets in the way of plans, so I want to begin being accountable now!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rosemary Roasted Cashews

Ok, these didn't come out as pretty as I had hoped, but they are pretty stinking fabulous, so you should totally make them and try them out. They're very easy and a lovely blend of sweet and spicy.

First things first - take some cashews (about a pound) and toast them for about 10-15 minutes.

1 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1 tsp. Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cayenne
2 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Rosemary

Mix all that stuff together and toss the hot nuts with it. That's it. Let them cool a bit and eat them up. They're better while they're still a little warm (but not bad leftover at all!)

I served these in my fabulous wooden bowl and they were a huge hit. They will keep well in a sealed container (if you can keep your mits out of them!)

My grocery store had some raw, unsalted cashews with their healthy foods, but if you can't find anything but the ones that are already roasted and salted, I wouldn't worry about it too much. You probably just want to leave out the salt in the recipe and make sure you don't toast them so long as to burn them!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

101 in 101

I am totally borrowing this great idea from Mary Beth but tweaking it a little. The original idea was to make a list of 101 things you want to do in 1,001 days. Well, I decided that I would make the list of 101 things, but my goal will be to do it in 101 weeks. This was actually much harder than I thought it would be.

X Have a child
X Pay off our credit cards (completed)
3. Put enough money to live on for one year into savings
X Get commissioned
X Go to the beach (completed)
X Give away all the clothes I haven't worn in a year (completed)
X Get a massage (completed)
X Replace our oven (completed)
X Redo the countertops and backsplash in the kitchen (completed)
X Finish the basement (completed)
X Buy a china cabinet (completed)
X Go to the lake (completed)
X Ride in a limo (completed)
14. Visit 4 new states
X Take a dance or yoga class (modified) (completed)
X Go to an Auburn football game (completed)
X Go see a musical (completed)
X Attend a worship service where I don't have to have any sort of leadership role (modified) - (completed)
19. Keep a prayer/devotional journal for 6 months
20. Get a marker for Jeff's dad's grave
21. Knit a blanket
22. Take a vacation with my side of the family
23. Actually use my boating license
X Write a real letter to someone just to let them know I'm thinking of them (completed)
X Write a will
26. Read 3 classic novels
X Have Jeff teach me to use AutoCAD (completed)
28. Teach Jeff to play a song on the piano (modified)
X Go away on retreat (completed)
X Go to bed before midnight every day for a month (completed)
X Have family portraits made (completed)
32. Eat at home every night/ don't go out for two weeks (modified)
X Institute a cuss jar (completed)
X Take a cooking class (completed)
35. Make something at one of those "painted pottery" places
X Go without chocolate for 1 week (modified) (completed)
X Go without the computer for one week (completed)
38. No fried food for 2 weeks
X Donate, throw out, or recycle 1 box of stuff I don't need. (completed)
X Give away 1 box of books (completed)
X Update our family photo album (modified) (completed)
X Take Jeff on a surprise trip (completed)
X Get a pedicure just for the heck of it (completed)
X Let Jeff do the grocery shopping and don't say anything but "thank you" (completed)
X Have friends over for a cookout (modified) (completed)
X Try six recipes I've never made before (completed)
47. Get two more sets of good sheets
48. Walk 4 miles a week for a month
X Bake a cake from scratch (completed)
X Practice 3 new spiritual disciplines for at least one week each (completed)
X Make 2 new friends (completed)
X Buy an outfit that makes me feel fabulous (completed)
X Learn to use a power tool (completed)
54. Make a piece of artwork with my old CPE post-its
55. Make a needlepoint picture
56. Have a picnic in the park
57. Learn to quilt
58. Use the good china for no reason
X Learn to play chess (completed)
60. Begin re-writing my M.Div thesis incorporating research on process theology
61. Get a new Madame Alexander doll for my collection
62. Get all my stuff out of the storage unit in Cullman
X Go to a BSC sporting event (completed)
X Go back to a Boards and Agencies Dinner - I don't know how this got marked as completed earlier, but it isn't!
X Re-plant my herb garden (completed)
X Plant another rose bush to replace the one Patches ate (completed)
67. Learn to care for and shoot a gun
X Read the next "Miss Julia" book (completed)
X Video tape at least six sermons
X Go without wearing flip flops for two weeks (completed)
X Move the computer out of the bedroom (completed)
72. Go to the zoo
X Set up a permanent craft space (completed)
X Replace the ceiling fan on the back porch (completed)
X Move the office supplies out of the closet (completed)
76. Get a good rug for the living room
X Play in the rain (completed)
X Have a girls night out (completed)
X Have a breakfast date with Jeff (completed)
X Go to a movie (completed)
X Be a counselor at Sumatanga (completed)
X Find a job as a chaplain (even if just PRN) (completed)
X Begin APC board certification process
X Begin seriously looking at D.Min programs (completed)
X Get Jeff back to school
X Have dinner at the Melting Pot (completed)
X Go to the symphony (completed)
88. Go see a ballet
89. Bake bread
90. Get my box of wine glasses back from Lillian
X Get a dutch oven
X. Clean out my nightstand (completed)
93. Get a wide format printer for Jeff's drawings
X Take a spontaneous trip (completed)
X Go 3 days without checking e-mail (completed)
X Give away something I feel an attachment towards (completed)
X. Ask someone for exactly what I want (completed)
X Do something nice for myself for my birthday (completed)
X Learn to make Key Lime Pie (completed)
X Read the first Harry Potter book (or listen to it on CD) (completed)
101. Learn to make jam

So there you have it! 101 things I want to do in the next 101 weeks! I'll try to remember to do weekly updates to let everyone know how it's going.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bamboo Bowls and Spoons

Are these little bowls and spoons not cute? I won them back in September in a giveaway over at Reverent Irreverence. I had almost forgotten about them until they came as a wonderful pre-Christmas gift! I used them for serving some Rosemary Roasted Cashews at Christmas, and it was perfect! I love, love, love them. They are lovely little Pampered Chef goodies, which Anne happens to sell. So if you are searching for some great gift ideas, buzz on over and check out her stuff!

Thanks Anne! I love my little bowls and spoons!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ornament Exchange 2010

Remember how I told you about OneWed and its fabulous forum community? Well, one of the things they do every year for the "regulars" is a secret santa ornament exchange. It's always tons of fun! This year, my secret santa was Keely. She did a wonderful job and got me the most precious peppermint ornament! I love love love it!

It totally suits me, my personality, and our tree! All our stuff is the glass, "old world" style, so my peppermint is perfect. I got lots of compliments on it over the holiday, so I'm thrilled to finally get around to showing it off here!

Thank you, Keely! It's perfect and I will think happy thoughts about you, Chad, and Paisley every time I see it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sour Cream Biscuits

Happy 2011! Let's start the new year off right - with baked goods!

I was introduced to these by my step-mom and I was absolutely in love. The best part about these is that they are SO stinking simple.

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup sour cream
1 cup melted butter

Mix it all together and bake in a mini muffin tin at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Think you can handle that? There's no rolling, no cutting, and they still taste like honest to goodness biscuits! You could easily spice them up with herbs, or cheese, or anything else you want.

As you can see, mine got a little more brown on the sides and bottom than I would have liked, but they were still quite tasty! Hopefully the new year will also bring me a new oven!

Fabulousness. Trust me! Try them!