A whole lot of cooking

Will and I just went on a little weekend getaway less than two hours north of Louisville. One day, after talking to our friends about their upcoming vacations, we opened up Airbnb and chose Columbus, Indiana, which is famous for several of its public building being designed by noted architects. (I’ll share more of the architecture pictures soon.) It is also right next to a quaint little artsy town and a state park. We ended up finding a Airbnb that was located on a dirt road off of dirt road. The woman who owned it was a minister to the Earth Mother, which I a very unfamiliar with but it was definitely reflected in her decorating.

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I was less excited about the trip, though, when I realized that we would be on the Whole30 during it. The Whole30 = lots of cooking, packing, and not being able to eat out, so we packed a cooler full of leftovers, gathered some vegetables, eggs, and meat to cook, and made a little meal plan for the weekend which included some delicious and surprisingly filling soup.

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I made bone broth using TheKitchn’s bone broth instructions and then used that to make Paleo Asian Chicken Soup. The bone broth sounds complicated, but it wasn’t. I bought chicken necks at Whole Foods, roasted them in the oven, cut up some celery and onion I had in the fridge, and threw it into the slow cooker I borrowed. Twenty-four hours later I had rich, flavorful broth.

The final product of the soup was really special, warm, and filling. I could talk about the recipes we have cooked and the Whole30 for forever, but my brain is tired of food. It just wants to have brownies and cookies and cake and for me to hush about the other stuff.

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Anyway, I ended up really appreciating the trip because it gave me a chance to relax, not think about food, and to have fun with Will. We talked about his mountain biking days, what life would be like in the middle of nowhere, and the book I was reading, Miss Jane  by Brad Watson. We spent time with God in a touristy, cozy tea shop with a fireplace. We dreamed a little about the future. We missed Louisville and our apartment by the end of it. We felt more relaxed and expectant about the holidays.

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Here’s to weekend getaways and quitting the Whole30 (more on that later)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

what’s cooking-roasted root veggies

Last week, my friend who has graciously let me use her camera, asked Will and me to take some pictures for their Christmas cards. You can tell how on top of it my friend is, right? I still think of Christmas cards as being an adult thing.

Anyway, we went back to her house afterward to walk and sit by the fire pit. My friend has a little hutch in her kitchen with gorgeous cook books on the shelves, including a delicious veggie-centric one called Plenty by Ottolenghi. She laughed and joked that the recipes had ingredients that were too hard to find, so when she let me borrow it, I scoured through the ingredients list looking for one that seemed more familiar, and this roasted root vegetable recipe is the first (and only) one I made.

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We’ve been using our cast iron skillet a lot lately. It was a hand-me-down from Will’s grandfather who passed away last year. I never got to meet his grandmother, but Will says she really loved cooking and remembers sleepovers in Huntsville with a big breakfast in the morning. I like to think of her sweet face from the scrapbooks smiling and cooking sausage in the same skillet.

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This is basically roasted root vegetables (including parsnips which I had never cooked with) with a tangy, capery dressing. We paired it with chicken thighs, but I think it would be even better with a pork tenderloin. Just rub a little oil on that baby, brown it for 12 minutes on 550 (flipping in the middle), and then broil it at 450 for 20-30 more minutes. I did it until it was 140 degrees in the middle. Anyway! Back to the veggies.

I used this recipe, and we munched on it for a few days afterward. We made this before the Whole30, but you could easily replace the mustard with a Whole30 compliant mustard (try Annie’s) and omit the sesame seeds. Yum!

img_0104img_0106What have you been cooking up lately?

 

but what about my bagels?

Have you ever been considering a big change and you are excited and also defensive at the same time? I’ve been reading It Starts with Food which is the book that started the Whole30, a commitment to eat veggies, fruits, meat, and nuts for a month and cut out added sugar, grains, and legumes. Will and I have been talking about it the past few days, and we are going to start doing the Whole 30 on October 30 (Happy Halloween! Have some sweet potato!) It’s exciting to think about changing my relationship to food, but it frightens me to say good-bye to my bagels, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and earl grey with honey and milk.

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As I was praying today, I found myself grumbling. Am I putting my life on hold this year to nanny? Should I have started that graduate program? I’m really tired of hearing little pookie ask me what a car is over and over again. Trying to pray a different way feels weird. I want my bagels. I’m sure you all have a list of things that can spring to mind once something settles in that says, “This is not what life should be.”

It helped me to write it out to God today that being in college was hard, teaching was hard, having the summer off was hard, and now nannying is hard. I came to a conclusion that I honestly hadn’t really realized… life is hard! (I know some of my wiser readers may be laughing at me right now, and I’m laughing right along with you.) It is a struggle every day to remain faithful to God, to not watch hours of Netflix, to stop after the third cookie, to push myself to write, and to be kind to Will when he says something discouraging. Every season seems to bring its own challenges and demands on my heart even when my job isn’t stressful, and I don’t have 3 papers due.

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I remembered what I had learned through A Thousand Gifts, and I began to speak my gratitude to God. Thank you for my job. Thank you for the sunflowers from the farmer’s market. Thank you for these comfy pants I found in Chelsea’s closet last summer. Thank you for the house being so quiet that I can hear the ticking of the clock (shout-out to Will for wearing headphones). 

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It’s hard to write about the turn without sounding cheesing, but professing gratitude quieted my restless heart. My mind filled with Psalm 63 (which I found a little funny because of the food references) that says:

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” 

I am worrying about giving up the foods that I love, and God is saying that they couldn’t satisfy me in the first place, only He can. He says I should praise him through the ordinary days because I remember who He is. He offers the peace of satiety.

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And, also, thank you, Jesus, that we got to worship with United Pursuit!

So, there it is. One ordinary day’s struggle in my slow life. What have you been fighting for recently?

approaching God in a new (or actually old) way

One of the things I like about nannying is getting to be a part of a different family, like when I went over to my middle school bff’s house, and they kept the bread in the fridge or they did time-out instead of go to your room.

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little pookie

More importantly, as a teenager, I remember listening to my friend talk to her parents. They never yelled at each other (!!!), even when my friend and her sister fought. It struck me that other people did things differently than I did. Now, I not only get to be a little family with Will where we try things out together like meal planning or having unplugged evenings or asking each other questions I got off a Today’s Letters, but I also get to be a part of little pookie’s family where they have different foods and different toys than the ones I grew up with. I guess that’s also what I like about blogs and reading about admirable people’s routines and just normal day-to-day life. It gives me a glimpse into another structure, another way of living.

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yes, that’s a mirror

Prayer is one of those things that everyone does a little differently, I think. I say I think because I just don’t know. I have heard friends and pastors pray, but that has always been with them knowing I am listening. The closest I got to this was accidentally reading Will’s prayers from high school that I found in a book I thought had the credit card account password in it. When I told Will about it, he died. He didn’t want to laugh or read them over, he just wanted to shrivel up and never talk about it again. (I thought they were sweet, special prayers from his sweet, special heart.) They’re personal, you know? To the point of thinking, “How dare you tell me how to pray? This is me!”

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That’s why when Prayer by Tim Keller started to talk about how to pray, I was both excited and apprehensive. I’m excited because it’s cool to get a glimpse into other people’s prayer lives. Apprehensive because I’m lazy and sitting on my couch writing down stuff in my journal has been my go-to prayer time for the past 5ish years. Do I really want to read what Martin Luther (who prayed for ~3 hours a day) tells his friend in a letter about prayer? Well, apparently I did. I was most surprised about him talking about preparing for prayer. He says that when he feels “cool and joyless” about prayer he says, “quietly to myself and word-for-word the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do.” The ten commandments surprised me because I don’t think about the ten commandments very much and also because I only know them through the song we learned in third grade (which I found on YouTube, featured below for your viewing pleasure).

So, I went through the Lord’s prayer and focused on each line, thinking about God as Father, how holy He is, and so on. I still wrote in my journal afterward, but focusing on the Lord’s prayer did put what I was doing— talking with God— into context with Jesus praying and the God of the Bible. What I mean to say is that yes, I read the Bible and then pray, but focusing on the Lord’s prayer made me think more about who I was talking to instead of just talking. It made more sense to me that Saint Augustine says we must realize how no matter how blessed we are, nothing in this world compares to God’s glory.

Isn’t it crazy that God wants to talk to me? That he wants to talk to you? That people who were actual prayer warriors wrote about their rhythms of prayer?

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you can’t see Will’s special heart, but it’s in there

I’ll get into what he says more and my attempts in a later post, so I’ll leave you with this little quote: “We must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to be necessary which, after all, are nothing of the kind.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

off the shelf- today will be different

 

I just, just finished reading Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. She’s most widely known for Where’d You Go, Bernadette? which is a really fun and interesting and quirky story of a mom gone missing. I wasn’t sure what I expected in Today Will Be Differentand I was initially disappointed in the first third of the book. She starts off with a paragraph full of simple hopes for the day like, “Today I will buy local,” and “I won’t talk about money.” After introducing the goals of the day, Semple introduces us to a a woman who loves her husband and son, but is disappointed with herself and her life in humorously detailed ways. We go through the whole day with her and see present, past, and a glimpse of her future.

The book really hits its stride, though, when we get the long-awaited back story and start seeing Eleanor as a more than a mother and wife but as an artist, a sister, and a friend. The thing that really gets me is the outrageous thoughts and actions and unspeakable distilled into words that leave you laughing and nodding and feeling like you are being confided in by one of the most interesting people you’ve met. Don’t get me wrong, if you were friends with Eleanor, she’d drive you nuts, but she’s special and says what she thinks and is the a great character for you to enjoy and marvel at in a novel because in real life, you’d never get a word in.

If that doesn’t make you want to read it, then maybe you’ve watched Mad About You on Lifetime when you were home sick from school, and you thought it was hilarious. In which case, the fact that Maria Semple helped write it will make you say, “Oh, yeah! I loved that show. She’s good.”

Or maybe not. Either way, the book is sincere and surprisingly tender.

 

praying and walking, walking and praying

To me, fall is mostly a welcomed relief from the Southern heat. Finally, at last, I can take a trash bag outside without breaking a full on sweat. Or maybe I’m just a sweaty person.

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Will’s tree photography

All of the sudden, when the temperature drops, heaven opens up and it makes me want to bake and snuggle in to read the 50 books I have checked out from the library. It also makes me feel like I can pick up some of the things I’ve set down, like reading Prayer by Tim Keller. I’m on my third and final library renewal, so I’ve got to finish it. Keller talks about how essential prayer is, how it is the most important thing we can do as humans, and even confesses how weak his prayer life once was. I particularly appreciate his humility to confess that although he was a pastor, a husband, and a father he still hadn’t gotten the prayer thing really going. It made it easier for me to start reading. If such a man of God could admit he didn’t really, really dig into praying, then I can, too. So I’m going to confess to you– I’ve had years where I prayed every day with vigor, but I’ve had more recent years where I have mumbled to Him hurriedly or thrown guilt-ridden prayers up before falling asleep. He’s awakened a desire to know Him and talk to Him in the past few months, and I’m trying to respond.

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Hello, little prayer acorns!

Which leads me to this past Saturday. I’ve volunteered at a camp that encouraged spending long amounts of time with just God. I forget exactly what they called it, but I have precious, soul-defining memories of laughing and crying with God as I confessed all of my anxieties and prayed through my weaknesses and interceded for others. So I asked Will if he wanted to go on a little morning hike and have time in prayer together and apart.

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The stairs to heaven are in Jefferson Memorial Forest

And let me tell you, it was special. The air, the little dogs walking with people passing by, the gorgeous trees with views I didn’t notice until Will pointed them out on the walk back after we turned around together. Most of all, the communion with God. We walked and talked and I asked Him things and talked through some of what’s been on my heart. He showed me how I have a lack of compassion in my heart and how present He is and even what a big commitment Will and I made to each other 1.5 years ago. My prayers rambled past my sleepy morning talks to more touchy topics that take a while to work through.

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an imperfect, redeemed, wannabe prayer warrior

Thanks for asking me to spend time with you, God. Even through the imperfect days that have followed including getting mad at Will for not reading the dumpling cooking instructions, and wanting to fall asleep when the sermon got long on Sunday. You are good.

decor- styling a hope chest

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I went through a phase in high school (that most likely coincided with my reading of Christian romance novels set in the West) where I really, really wanted a hope chest that I could fill with china, knitted blankets, and monogrammed handkerchiefs. I even asked my mom for some china for Christmas which she, thankfully, ignored. But she did order me an Amish hope chest, knowing that I still appreciate it even after I came to my senses.

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It is cherry and beautiful (and still unfinished), and I wanted to put it at the end of our bed, but we didn’t really have enough room for it, so I ended up putting it in this weird transition space between our living area and dining nook. Styling it was a-whole-nother ballgame.

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I bid on these prints in a lot of about eight on an eBay auction, and Will framed them. I thought they were up too high and looked a little lacking, so I switched them for their down the street neighbor, the To Kill a Mockingbird canvas poster my mom got me for another Christmas. It definitely fills the space better and adds a nice red to the white walls.

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One of the things I liked about the chest was how wide it was on top, and I had the perfect friend in mind to put there: Will’s granddaddy’s record player. I love thinking about how granddaddy would love that we are using it and that it’s a big part of living room.

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Next, comes the little vintage-inspired fan Will scored at an estate sale in Birmingham. It sells for $139 at Restoration Hardware, and we got it for *drumroll* $20. I like that it is simple and quiet and not plastic, and we sometimes air-dry laundry or baked treats right around there, so it is helpful to have the fan nearby.

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And then I wanted something big and alive to anchor the top and make it less nick-nacky because the chest is big, the art is big, the record player is big, and something vertical and green makes it feel finished to me. In the same morning, Will and I drove out to a barn sale, and got a few old terracotta pots (I like the color variation and price of used terracotta pots) and picked up this snake plant afterward at Lowe’s. The pot was $1, the plant was $10. Snake plants or Sansevieria trifasciata are amazing. They are incredibly easy to care for and thrives in a variety of light exposure, making them great indoor plants. The little guy next to it is a type of Peperomia that it also low-maintenance. He is planted in a pot I got from Tuesday Morning for $1 as they were clearing out summer things for fall.

The basket next to it is helpful for chilly guests. I rolled the blankets so that they would fit and still show off the different colors. I like how the blanket peeking out the most even looks soft. It makes the angles and cuts of the chest a little less sharp.

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So, there it is. It makes me happy to look at it. It’s what I see when I am coming down the hall. It’s where my eye rests a lot from the couch. I like how it is one of those surfaces that doesn’t change or have a rotation of books, shoes, or cups. Instead, it exists on it’s little island as finished. At least for now 😉

P.S. Don’t tell Marie Kondo, but the chest is filled with books.