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a must see

Yesterday was a bit of an emotional day for me.  There are a lot of changes going on for the husband and I, and while the changes are good…the transition phase is not easy.  I’ll be sharing all about it in the coming days, but for now I have something else I want to share with you.

This something else really topped off my Friday, and the tears were flowing for sure.  I had a tutoring appointment with Hye-kyoung and afterwards I just needed something comforting.  So I headed to the health food store.  I bought a Thai peanut noodle dish boxed mix, drove straight home and started chopping vegetables and soaking noodles.

Fifteen minutes later:

I sat down at the computer and was clicking through blogs when I landed on one of my favorite sites.

You know when you hear a story of someone or you read about something that really impacts you all the way to the core?  It causes you to see life from a new and different perspective.  It makes you better in a way that is lasting…that doesn’t fade when the next TV show comes on or when a friend calls to catch up.

I’ve experienced this in some forms ever since I started reading Kelle Hampton’s blog, as it has been a continual source of all kinds of inspiration. But it all really hit me yesterday when she shared a very special video.

Inspiration is so important in life.  Different things speak to different people in different ways.  What inspires me may not hit you in exactly the same way.  Kelle inspires not only me, but thousands of other people around the world, and I couldn’t help but feel compelled to share it with you all as well.

That’s enough from me now…here is Nella’s story.

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olive

I have to say I do believe we have the funniest little dog there ever was.

Something you may not know about me is that I dreamed of having a Yorkshire Terrier from the first time I ever saw one.  I don’t know if it was their tiny size, their silky silver hair, the fact that they don’t shed or something else, but I was hooked.  I spent many years really truly believing that I would never have one because they’re a little bit costly, so I would just gaze at them from afar when I’d see one while trying to contain my envy.

So, you can imagine my disbelief and excitement when some friends of ours in Thailand asked us to dog sit their yorkie and a friend’s yorkie for a couple of weeks right before we were about to head back to the states.  What luck!

At the point that the husband and I decided we would return to the states instead of staying a second year in Thailand, we started talking about getting a dog.  We’re both dog lovers, and we felt that it was time for us to take on a little more responsibility, a third member of the family if you will.  During our long talks about what kind of dog we would get, we discussed all kinds of different breeds, and it didn’t take long for me to win the husband over to Yorkies as well.  With one stipulation that is.  I had to promise to never, ever, ever…..put a bow in its hair.

While I wasn’t happy about his aversion to bows, obviously it was an easy deal to make.  And so it was decided…a yorkie it would be.

Needless to say, going into our dog sitting days we were so excited because not only would we get to hang out with two yorkies, but we’d also get a taste of what it would be like to become yorkie parents.

Over those two weeks, we fell absolutely in love with Mocha and Lilly.

They were the sweetest, cutest dogs I’d ever met.  They’d follow anywhere we went in the house, and they always wanted to be as close to us as possible.  They were well behaved, they didn’t shed and again, they always wanted to be as close to us as possible.  How sweet is that?

I think we were back in Oklahoma for about a month at most before we started the search.

And then we found her.

She was the one that wanted to lay in the corner, liquid brown eyes staring, too shy to come over and play, but sweet as pie if you picked her up and cuddled her.  Her mom told us that she was holding out on selling her because she wanted to make sure she went to a home that would show her an abundant amount of love and attention.  She was special.

By the way – she doesn’t have glowing blue eyes. Our camera was a little rough at the time.

We were sold.

That same sweet little Olive did the funniest thing yesterday.  Like Mocha and Lilly, she never wants to leave our side when we’re at home.  But now she’s taken it to a whole new level.

I was working at the computer in our office when she trotted in from the living room and hopped up onto my lap.  Just like I always do I started scratching her back and rubbing her little ears.  And then without warning, she stood up, turned toward the computer and jumped up onto the computer desk.  It was the strangest thing she’s ever done.  I just sat there laughing at her, and within the next several minutes she went from this:

to this:

I may be like one of those parents who thinks everything their kid does is SO cute, but seriously?  Does it get cuter than this?

She spent about the next hour assuming all kinds of different positions on all different parts of the desk, dozing off and on as I worked away.

She has brought so much fun, happiness and love into our lives in the last two years…and I honestly can’t imagine our lives without her.

Are you a dog person?  If so, what kind of dog do you have?  Does he/she ever do something completely funny and out of character?  Let’s talk dogs!

Happy Friday:)

**Don’t forget to click over and enter my giveaway!  I’m dreaming up lots of crazy stuff to put in the secret package. muahaha.

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a new chia recipe

Wow, guys.  Thanks so much for all the love you showed to me and my blog yesterday.  It may seem kind of silly, but yesterday really did feel very special to me.  ChiaSeedMe has seen me through so many moments this past year, and it has been such a blessing as it’s allowed me a place to express myself in so many different ways.  It’s really quite amazing when you think about it. A blog makes it possible for a person to have a responsive audience to whatever it is you need to share – fears, hopes, dreams.  It also has allowed me to express myself through photography and writing, which I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday was hearing all the comments from those of you who love chia seeds!  These little guys are taking the world by storm.

And speaking of chia seeds, last night I added them to a meal that I’ve never added them to before.  And they were delicious as always.

When I was growing up, it was a rarity for my mom to not have a homemade meal on the table.  It was a norm for her to call us in from playing outside five times before we would actually come, and I remember never wanting to stop for dinner (who was I?).  But now I hold very dear the memories of our whole family sitting around the table every night.  My mom was (and is:) a great cook; some of her specialties included mexican casserole, tacos, meatloaf, chicken and rice casserole, roast with cooked potatoes and carrots, and last but definitely not the least – her famous spaghetti sauce.

I always loved spaghetti nights.  The sauce would simmer on the stove for hours as each flavor mingled together giving off the most mouth-watering aroma you can possibly imagine.  It would fill the entire house, luring us in from any part of the house; she probably got so tired of us inquiring “when will dinner be ready, mom?”  Sitting here right now I can vividly taste the slightly sweet, warm tomato flavors.

Now that I am older I can appreciate more than ever before the fact that my mom valued having a healthy, homemade meal on the table (almost) every single night.  Having my own family (minus kids) now, I realize how challenging it is to meal plan, get the groceries bought, plan ahead for preparation and create a tasty meal in time for dinner.  But I’m so thankful that it was important to her to do so and that she instilled that importance in me.

Last night’s dinner was the ChiaSeedMe version of spaghetti sauce.  Honestly, it doesn’t taste a whole lot like my mom’s.  But, I’ve dabbled in making from scratch spaghetti sauces before, and this one is by far the most delicious.  The flavors are much more complex and they work so well together, but this recipe was super easy as well.

I started off by sauteeing some chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until both turned slightly golden and then adding one and half chopped bell peppers.

As soon as the peppers had turned tender, I poured in the tomato puree, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, mixing them together until the different textures became one and it became smooth. Already my nose was being filled with the fresh italian aroma.

Next came the seasonings – basil, a lot of italian seasoning, rosemary, garlic powder, sea salt and ground red pepper.  Dumped them all in and stirred like crazy.  When they were all incorporated well, I completed the second best step – the taste test.  I recommend you definitely not skip this step as you may want to adjust the seasonings to perfectly suit your tastes:)

And lastly, it was time to add in the namesake of this recipe…the star of the show.

As many of you know, the chia seeds did not affect the flavor of this sauce, but what they did add is protein, iron, omega 3′s and 6′s, calcium, fiber and other vitamins.  After sprinkling them over the sauce, I stirred to incorporate them well and then allowed the sauce to simmer for another ten minutes or so.  This gave the chia seeds time to soften and gel up; they were undetectable in the sauce, but they gave it a little bit thicker texture and absorbed some of the liquid so that the sauce wasn’t the least bit watery when ladled over the noodles.

After adding the chias, I took a quick break from the sauce to toss a handful of thin spaghetti noodles (the best kind) in some boiling water so they’d have just enough time to cook.  We can’t forget the noodles!

My only question is: how did I never think of this before now?

Spicy Chia Spaghetti Sauce

Ingedients

  • 29 ounce can tomato puree
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • small can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 – 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1.5 bell peppers, any color, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil, for sauteeing
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

Directions

  • Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until both are slightly golden.
  • Add bell pepper and continue to saute until tender.
  • Pour in tomato sauce, tomato paste and tomato puree and stir until well combined.
  • Add in garlic powder, basil, rosemary, sea salt, italian seasoning, ground red pepper and stir well.
  • Lastly, add chia seeds, stirring to combine.
  • Allow sauce to simmer on low heat for at least 10 minutes.

Serve over whole wheat thin spaghetti with a sprinkling of Angela’s vegan parmesan and a side of sprouted bread slathered with Earth Balance and garlic powder and toasted in the oven until slightly crispy.

Mexican look out – italian just might be moving in for good!

How did your family handle dinnertime when you were growing up?  Did you eat around the table like me?  Was it family night around the TV? Do share – I love hearing how other families live!

**Also, don’t forget to enter ChiaSeedMe’s one year anniversary giveaway for some chia seeds or a special secret care package of my favorite little things!  You can enter by clicking here or by clicking the button on my side bar.

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happy birthday chiaseedme

Yesterday I mentioned that today would be a very special day in the life of my little blog.

One year ago today, I sat down and wrote my very first post on ChiaSeedMe.

I was beginning my second semester as a first year high school English teacher, commuting two hours every day, and in desperate need of something besides work in my life.  CSM provided that for me; it quickly became the highlight of my days.  With every post I fell more in love with food, writing and photography.  Now I can’t imagine my life without this little space.

One of the questions I’m asked most often about my blog is “why ChiaSeedMe?”

When I started this blog, I had been eating chia seeds for quite some time, and I loved so many things about them.  What’s not to love?  They are high in protein, high in omega 3′s and omega 6′s, help balance blood sugar, help keep you full longer, high in iron and so much more.  But chia seeds themselves aren’t the only reason why I chose the name.

I also chose it because of what chia seeds represent for me.  They’re tiny little seeds, hardly bigger than the tip of a pencil, but they pack a serious punch.  I try to focus my life around the little things that make a big difference, and the words I write here and photos I snap every day have brought to light all the little things in my life that make it what it is.  The way the light filters through the trees in our backyard just at the onset of evening, the way I can see the husband just perfectly through the space between our living room and office, and the softness of our down comforter when I pull it up over my shoulders each night – these little things bring me such joy and are a constant reminder of just how blessed I am to be living this life.

This blog has never been just about what I eat for dinner each night or which workout I choose each morning, although I do love writing about those things.  It’s about this all encompassing idea that this life we live really isn’t just about what we do each day.  It’s about really feeling our experiences.  It’s about seemingly unimportant moments that make a big impact by bringing a smile, focusing on the good, working through the bad and coming out better at the other end.  Moments that embed themselves in the very fabric of our minds and change us forever, one little thing at a time and sometimes without us even realizing it.  I believe these tiny little things matter more than we even understand.

And along the journey of this past year, I’ve gained one of the greatest things I could imagine.  Friendships with other people who not only have the same interests in life, but who are so thoughtful, caring and supportive.  Who reach out with comfort when I’ve quit my job and I’m feeling doubtful or help me decide whether to keep my hair short or grow it long.  And in the midst of it all, I can hardly believe how blessed and thankful I am.

So, thank you for coming alongside me this year.  Thank you for reading.  Without you all, my small corner of the internet would be awfully lonely…serving only as a space to bounce my thoughts into the air and watch them as they fade in the distance.  You are the glue that holds this little blog together.  You give it energy and life, and it truly wouldn’t be the same without you.

As a small way to show you just how thankful I am and to celebrate the first birthday of CSM – there is only one thing I can see fit to do.

Let’s give away some chia seeds!

Monterrey Bay Spice Company is a great source for not only chia seeds, but herbs, spices and teas as well.  They have been a great sponsor for ChiaSeedMe me throughout this year, and have kindly offered to send two readers each a bag of my favorite little seeds.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by midnight on Sunday, January 15th to enter!  You can say anything you want…just make yourself known:)

In addition to that, I personally want to do something for you guys as well.  I will choose one more winner from the comments on this post, and you’ll receive a little care package of some of my favorite “little things.”  I’m not telling what will be in it, but I promise it will bring a smile to your face!

Because it’s the little things that matter most.

**Unfortunately, the contest is open to U.S. residents only.  International readers – I don’t love you any less!
**I will choose a winner using random.org.

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a little thailand story

“It’s so tempting to shut people down, to limit the upside, to ostracize, select and demonize. It makes things a lot simpler. Not seeing means you don’t have to take action. Not opening means it’s easier to announce that you’re done. And not raising the bar means you’re less likely to fail.”

-Seth Godin

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog recently when I stumbled upon this quote, and the hard truth of it really struck me.  It reminded me of a situation that occurred during our time in Thailand.

In the far northern part of Thailand, settled in among the mountains you’ll find a city.  Our Thailand home.  Chiang Mai.

And in the middle of that city, you’ll find a little something called Night Bazaar, or as the Thai’s say it “night ba-saaaaah.”


Every single day at about 4 o’clock, rain or shine, the people would begin pushing their carts out to the sidewalk, ready to take on the crowds of people that would come pouring in in a couple of shorts hours.  They sold everything from t-shirts to perfume to oil burners, lamps, watches, shoes and much more.  You could gaze for miles down the busy road and still not see the end of it.

For us, Night Bazaar was a fun date night, a place to get cheap massages and a great people watching venue.  We’d weave through the backpackers carrying their babies high up on their backs and the locals stooping on the curb to slurp up noodles before the next bargaining challenge came along.

And in all the craziness there was always one thing that caught my eye – a small Thai women who looked to be about my age sitting on the dirty sidewalk with a cup held out for change and a tiny baby at her side.  While she wasn’t the only local who had found her home on the dirty streets of Night Bazaar, she was the one who caught my gaze every time I walked by… and held it.  I couldn’t forget her.

After many nights of walking by her, pretending not to see her outstretched hand or her deep eyes, I finally broke down.  I found a stand in the alley selling hot soup and bought her a small bowl and some water.  I inched up to her, feeling quite shy, and taking a deep breath knelt down and, using all the broken Thai I could muster I expressed my concern for her and her beautiful baby.

But night after night of this same routine left me wishing I could do more.  But I wrestled with the idea of it – what more could I do?  Ultimately she needed a place to live, to raise her baby….to be safe.  But I couldn’t provide that.  And with the date of our departure fast approaching, there were only so many more days I could do anything at all.

And then just like that…she was gone.  She stopped coming.  I never found out what happened to her, and I probably never will.  And that lack of knowing, lack of being able to do anything real and significant for her left me feeling disheartened and sad.  And I realize that that is often what keeps me from reaching out to impact the world in any way – the fear of failure.  The fear of feeling like I just can’t do enough.  The fear that if I allow myself to see the need, then I will always feel the ache of what I wasn’t able to do.

And the same translates to the constant pursuance of goals and dreams.  Being scared to death of setting the bar too high because I just might not be able to reach it.  And that would mean failure.  Six months ago I walked into my principal’s office, and I turned in my letter of resignation.  Sure, I did it for a number of reasons, but ultimately I did it because I wanted to pursue more.  I wanted to step out into the unknown and embrace something that would fulfill my vision for my life.  And in these months, I’ve held back, sabotaging myself because of the fear of not being quite good enough.

But I want more.  I don’t want to still be sitting here another six months from now envisioning in my mind what it is that I want to do with my life.  I want to be doing it. It’s time to raise the bar and leap for it because I would much rather be brushing dust off my backside than never getting dirty at all.  I want to see things, open myself to possibility and experiences, and offer myself to people freely, embracing the risk of hurt and disappointment.

What is one thing that you’ve been envisioning in your life for awhile, but you just haven’t quite gotten the courage to leap for?  What are you holding the bar low for because you’re scared of raising it high?

And now here’s a small ray of peace for your day:


**Also, don’t forget to stop by tomorrow because it’s a very special day in the life of ChiaSeedMe, and I’ll have a very special surprise for you!

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