Suddenly Chaos: Flipflops vs. Fiber

  1. loveValentine’s Day was this week and J and I decided to steal away for a night of passion Chinese food and Costco shopping. With wedding planning and grad school and three kids and the hour-long commute between us that makes weekends the only time we get to see each other, the impromptu Tuesday night date was pure luxury. Especially considering he is working all weekend and I’m playing single mom to two of the boys and a very muddy dog (more on that later.)

I’ve had tummy troubles all of my life, and J is convinced that my fiber consumption is to blame. Thus, during our Costco run, he insisted that we pick up a jar of adult gummy fiber supplements. You take two a day and it keeps things moving. Fine, I say to myself. I’m sure I can use more fiber in my diet and if it makes my guy happy, let’s just go with it. I even took the first dose in the car to show I was on board.

We drop the groceries off at home and got the kids settled in with pizza before heading out on our Valentine’s Date. The plan was to have Mexican, but our usual place was packed. I could feel the first signs of hangry coming to the surface as my normally sunny demeanor shifted to she-who-must-be-fed. We settled on our favorite Chinese place and had a truly lovely dinner. We talked, we laughed, and for a small moment in time we were just a guy and his girl out on a date. No responsibilities, no kids, no stressful jobs. Just love.

There is a certain dread to going home from a date night. The probability that there will be some kind of mess waiting is pretty high and that means taking corrective action with the boys. It’s the part of parenting no one warned me about. The cynic in me walks in the house looking for the problem. The optimist in me prays that there is nothing to find. The exhausted pigeon in me tries to ignore it. The teacher in me knows that this is a teaching moment. The struggle is real.

Generally speaking, the house was okay. I noticed, however, that the bottle of fiber gummies from earlier looked a little emptier than it had when we left. Apparently, Flipflops (who is 13, remember) thought they were candy and didn’t read the bottle. Then this conversation happened:

Me: Who ate the gummies?
Flipflops: …um, me?
Me: How many did you eat?
Flipflops: I didn’t count.
Me: Ballpark it for me, kid.
Flipflops: I don’t know…like, 10?

There was a moment of silent disbelief before J and I burst out laughing. The kid consumed five days worth of fiber in one sitting. While not life-threatening, we knew he’d be in for some major clean-out. It took a couple of days for his system to right itself, and hopefully the natural consequences will encourage him to read the bottle from now on.

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Ah, this is the life…

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5 Things in October

I blinked and suddenly…fall. With 179 students, my schoolwork, church responsibilities, and silly things like sleeping and eating, I have been very much treading water this month. Which explains, for example, why this post is coming out on the 17th day of the month, instead of the 2nd.

Whatever, don’t judge me.

Remember this | “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — And I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Mediate on this| …so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.l  [Ephesians 3:17-19]

Eat this | Butternut Squash. Nothing says fall to me like roasting all the vegetables. Butternut squash ranks as one of my favorite cool weather staples. It’s exceedingly versatile and ridiculously easy to prepare. For a simple prep, peel and chop into 3/4 inch chunks, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400°F for about 30 minutes, tossing once about halfway through. Yum!

Do this | Grown Up Study Group. I have an absurdly long list of things to do. I have assignments to grade, lesson plans to formulate, and papers to write. Yet, when I try to do the things by myself, I hit a wall of non-productivity. There are so many things to distract me when I’m alone in my pjs trying to work instead of watching tv or taking a nap. My solution has been to get together with a couple girlfriends in similar situations and take over a table at a coffee shop. Each girl in the group brings the things she needs to get done and our work is independent, but adjacent. No joke,  I’ve never been so efficient.

Accomplish this | Clean off your desk. At home or work, a cluttered desk can cause excess stress and loss of productivity. *But but but! I work better in…* I’ma stop you right there, you do not work better in a cluttered space. Clean it up. While you’re at it, check out Greatist‘s ideas for adding a little Feng Shui to you work space.

Happy October! Or what’s left of it…

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Lunches that don’t suck | Guest posting

Happy Monday Tuesday!

I love a 3 day weekend, but the hangover of a Tuesday that acts like a Monday is a cold reality.

Not cool.

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Looking forward to lunch is a great way to get through the early morning blues. Today, I’m guest blogging over at Untidy Grace, discussing grown up lunches that don’t make you feel like you are in elementary school.

Check it out!

5 Things in September

Welcome, September!

The romantic comedy classic You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks’ Joe Fox describes fall as a time when he feels the need to buy school supplies and wishes to send his online love a bouquet of sharpened pencils.

Joe, I’m with you.

Fall is my favorite time of year and September is its gatekeeper. Soon crunchy leaves and pumpkin spice will descend upon us and the holiday season will shortly follow. Every year, I look forward to the days of cool nights and over-sized sweaters. There is a newness to fall, though everything seems to be dying, a crispness in the air that silently screams of coziness and possibilities. Here are 5 other things I’m loving right now:

Remember this | Every day is a chance to change your life

Memorize this| Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us…  [1 John 4:4-6a]

Learn this | Did you know that the human brain has 100,000 miles of blood vessels? That’s enough to circle Earth 4 times. So…now you know.

Watch this | With the insanity going on in Syria right now, this chilling video makes you stop and think about the world in which we live.

Do this | Entertain. Whether you host a couple of friends for lunch on a Saturday, or throw a dinner party for 12, open your heart (and your home) to those around you. Take time to be grateful for your friends and family and slow down to express appreciation for them.

Happy September!

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The Dog Days | 5 Things In August

Oh, August.

Unbearably hot days, scorching sun, and the end of summer vacation, August is a strange and dichotomous month in which the excitement of fall begins but the unrelenting heat of summer remains. Like students across the country, I’m headed back to school at the end of this month. However, for the first time, I’ll be on the other side of the podium. That’s right, after many years of studenthood, I’ll be joining that sacred fraternity of educators as I complete my student teaching in middle and high school classrooms and venture into the world of college professorship (more on that later).

I’ll be honest, I’m terrified. I’m having a hard time these days, with the one year anniversary of the worst day of my life screaming toward me like an oncoming freight train. Coupled with the stress of transition, I’m barely holding it together. Anyway, a list!

Remember this | Be willing to go alone sometimes. You don’t need permission to grow. Not everyone who started with you will finish with you. And that’s okay.

Memorize this| For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be shaken. On him rests my salvation and my glory, my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in the him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. [Psalm 62:5-8]

Eat this | Shrimp Arrabbiata – From the Italian for “angry” you could replace the shrimp with the protein of your choice. The slightly (or very, depending on your preference) spicy sauce is light but packs a ton of flavor. The recipe only take a few minutes to put together and it’s super delicious. For even more flavor, try fire roasted tomatoes. Make the recipe your own!

Do this | Take time for your health. Maybe you want to run a half marathon — more power to you. If you’re like me and you just want to get back into shape after a summer of less than stellar health choices, consider joining a gym or taking an exercise class. I joined Planet Fitness. For $10/month, I can work out any time I want in an intimidation-free setting.

Watch this | Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian and does a bit about the various types of hand raising that church members do during worship. As a worship team member, I find it particularly funny, but if you’ve ever been to a hand-raising church, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.

Happy August!

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Foodie Fridays | 1 Ingredient Ice Cream

Oh, friends, what a week this has been. Just wait until I start filling you in on my Kids College experience. In the meantime, I’d like to talk about ice cream.

Yum.

This is another one of those “recipes” that’s kind of a misnomer. I mean, how much of a recipe can it be if it has one ingredient? It is more like a process than an actual recipe. Whatever. Ice cream!

Ice Cream

I’ve been waiting for a while to try out this recipe, mainly until I saved up enough bananas, and enough courage. I’d seen a variety of methods on the internet and decided to just try it and see what happened.

You guys. It was amazing. So stinking good.

The method couldn’t be easier. Save your super ripe bananas in a gallon sized zip top bag and throw them in the freezer until they are solid.  Then, pop in a food processor and whirl it around until they are creamy and smooth. That’s it. Seriously.

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A couple tips:

  • Super ripe is key here for texture and taste
  • Cut the bananas into smallish pieces to make processing easier. You can cut them before or after the big chill!

I used about 3 whole bananas and it yielded around 2 cups of delicious goodness, which I promptly ate in its entirety. I don’t recommend that practice, it’s a lot of potassium to consume in one sitting. The finished product is vegan as heck and dairy and gluten free. It’s all natural and could even be organic depending on your banana preferences. With no artificial colors or flavors its and absolutely guilt free summer time treat!

The texture is rich and creamy; it more closely resembles soft serve than hand dipped ice cream. If you have the willpower, I suppose you could throw it into the freezer to firm up, but I didn’t have it in me.

Happy Friday!

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In Fear of Mustard | The best Balsamic Vinaigrette, ever

Last week, I finally got around to making this delicious Avocado Chicken Caprese Salad I found over at Joyful Healthy Eats. It was beautiful!

20150703_172150I took a few liberties; I cooked my chicken in a cast iron skillet instead of firing up my grill and I completely forgot to add the fresh basil. The biggest difference between my salad and the original was the dressing. I love a balsamic vinaigrette as much as the next girl, but the emulsifiying agent is usually mustard, and I’m allergic. Oh, sure, I could have used just oil and vinegar mixed together, but I really wanted that smooth, almost creamy, sweetly tangy dressing to balance the rich cheese and avocados and the bright tomatoes. A little internet research and I developed my own simple recipe. It’s so easy that I hesitate to even classify it as a recipe, but whatever.

EveryGirl’s Mustard-Free Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp of honey (or to taste)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil (I used extra virgin, but whatevs)
salt and pepper

Into a jar with a tight fitting lid, grate the garlic with a microplane. Add the other ingredients. Secure the lid and shake vigorously for about 2 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate until use.

20150703_172118The honey emulsifies the vinegar and oil and the result is divine. Be sure to shake it even after it seems combined, to really allow the honey to pull the dressing together. While it may separate a tiny bit after sitting, a quick shake of the jar and you’re good to go. Feel free to adjust the flavoring to you liking!

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day 26 | It’s not a party until someone’s crying in the bathroom…

I’ve decided to blame everything that happened last Wednesday on my friend, Michele. It’s not really fair, but neither is life.

Michele is an accomplished baker and specializes in making cupcakes. Honestly, she specializes in making everything, but I’ve had her cupcakes and they are ridiculous. She pinned this Neapolitan Cupcake recipe from Cooking Classy on Pinterest.


Neopolitan CupcakesThey are so stinking cute!

If you’ll recall (or you can catch up here) I did a certain gold-and-pink thing for my faux birthday. In the tradition of elementary school, I thought I’d make these sweet cupcakes and then take them to my Thursday students, before I didn’t see them for almost two weeks. Sugar them up and give them back to their parents, you know? Moriah even offered to come over and photograph the pretty confections in a mini-birthday shoot.

That’s when it started to go bad.

See, you have to make the chocolate cake, which means combining cocoa and baking soda and pouring boiling water on it. While that cooled, I used a demonically possessed hand mixer* to cream together butter and oil and sugar before adding eggs and the cocoa mixture and some heavy cream. The batter ends up a syrupy mess, more akin to pudding that hasn’t set than cake batter.

With faith, I pressed on to the vanilla cake, which went much more like I’d expect. Using three more bowls (we’re up to 5, if you’re counting), a fluffy cake batter emerged. Now comes the part where I’d like to tell you that I deftly floated the vanilla cake on top of the chocolate soup, but there was a witness. If I lie, I have to kill Moriah which would put a strain on our relationship.

There was a lot of begging and crying as I finagled the stubborn batter onto it’s watery base.

Here’s the thing, friends. All that struggle was worth it.  Topped with a delicious strawberry frosting, the cupcakes were a revelation. So much yum!

Plus, Moriah got some gorgeous photos!

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day 22 | Favorite Things Friday | Summer Time!

Summer is coming. I thought that summer was here, but then it rained for two and a half days and the temperature dropped by 15 degrees, so it’s anyone’s guess. For the time being, I’m back to hoping for warm weather!

In that spirit, I’ve compiled my favorite internet finds to get prepped for summer!

Gibson1) Love my long hair, but there are certainly days when I just need it to go away. This collection of cute (and easy) updos gets my hair up off my neck without resorting to a top knot or rusty kitchen scissors.

2) I’m headed out for a week in Southern California and the idea of dragging a suitcase through an airport leaves me less than thrilled. Check out this idea for packing two weeks worth of beach outfits in a carry on!

3) This reminder that as summer vacations get underway, where you go and what you do aren’t nearly as important as the memories you make.

4) Who says that wreaths are only for Christmas?! Check out this gorgeous, but simple, magnolia leaf wreath. What says summer more than magnolias? Plus, the leaves are artificial, so they won’t wilt on you when things heat up.

5) Summer heat means summer food! Light, refreshing, full of local produce, salads come out in full force. Check out this ridiculously delicious looking Avocado Caprese Chicken Salad. Yum!

Happy Summer!

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day 5: Cooking for 1 (or 2)

When I was in college, I used to invite my friends over for Spaghetti Night. For a bunch of college kids, home cooked meals are the Holy Grail. I’d make a huge pot of my famous sauce and a couple pounds of noodles and we’d all eat and laugh and have a grand time. The largest group I ever had was 19 people and it was awesome.

While I love to cook for a huge crowd, these days it’s more likely that I’m just making food for one or two people. Sure, I could still make a huge pot of spaghetti and eat leftovers for days (and I often do) but even that gets old.

Enter: Eggs Monterey. This (absurdly) easy dish is a ready in a snap, basically fool-proof, and easily serves 1, or double it to serve 2. I make this pretty regularly. The slightly spicy salsa paired with decadent egg makes a surprising, but delicious combo.

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Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a shallow 1 cup baking dish with non-stick spray (I use Pyrex and Pam). Fill with 1/2 c Salsa and bake for 15 minutes until hot. With a spoon, make 2 wells in the hot salsa and gently crack an egg into each well. Bake for 5 minutes, top with shredded cheese, and bake an additional 5 minutes.

The whites are cooked through, but the yolks are still a bit runny and deliciously rich. Serve with crusty bread or just on their own. Yum!

A word of caution: This recipe easily doubles, just use a larger container. However, if you attempt more than two servings (4 eggs) at a time, use separate vessels, as the heat distribution gets a bit wonky.

Bon Appetit!

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