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a snowy weekend

Our very first snow of the season decided to grace us with its presence this weekend.

It wasn’t very heavy at first, but I was still oohing and ahhing over it every time I glanced out the window.  It would have random bursts of thicker, heavier flakes, and then it would taper off again to a light mist.  It was lovely.

Guess what the husband and I did on Friday night?

If you’re thinking we had some friends over, popped open a bottle of vino and stayed up playing charades until the wee hours of the morning…then you’d be wrong.

We slept.  Yep, that’s right.  We layed down on the bed at about 6:30 pm, and the next thing we knew we woke up and it was 11 pm.  I guess we really were just that exhausted.  So, we got washed up, poured ourselves a bowl of cereal and watched House Hunters for a little over an hour.

All would have been just fine had we both gone to bed afterwards and slept soundly until the morning.  But that just wasn’t the case for me…I was so wound up and restless at that point, and I didn’t end up falling asleep until about 3am.  Bah.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling like a train wreck.  I made myself a green monster which significantly boosted my morale, and then we spent some time cleaning up the house and getting ready to head to the city for the day to run some errands and do some top secret investigations (more to come on that soon).  One key thing I had forgotten that was set to happen on Saturday was that the water in our neighborhood was going to be turned off from 11am until 6pm.  We had received a notice on our door earlier this week, but who really ever pays attention to those things?

Anyway, so I had just gotten my green monster all mixed up, and I set out to run some water in my Vitamix so the chia seeds and spinach wouldn’t stick to the sides and never come off (not that that has happened before).  But when I turned on the water, nothing came out! And then it hit me.

Now one thing you must know is that I am very very protective of my Vitamix.  After every time I use it I immediately wash it with soap and water and dry out the inside so there are no water spots left behind to taunt me.  So I was really in a stitch when there was no water and the inside of my Vita was coated in green.  And that’s when the husband came up with a brilliant idea.  First, we went around the house, rooting around desks and through yoga bags, coming up with several mostly empty water bottles.  We dumped those in, and then turned to the freezer, breaking apart the huge ice chunks that had cemented themselves to the bottom of our ice maker and dropping them in as well.  Now we’ve got some soaking action. yesssss.

That things could take on the Titanic, no?  Obviously ice cold water isn’t ideal for soaking, but we made due and my heart rested easy the rest of the day.

On Sunday, aside from staring at the beauty outside, we also went to early service and sunday school at our church and spent much of the afternoon sorting through Outbox stuff.  Tax season is approaching all too quickly, and there is much to do on the home business front.  Every single other year we’ve done our taxes ourselves, but this year I think we’re going to hire an accountant.  Kind of a bummer on the financial side, but with our business and my fourteen (exaggeration) jobs it just seems like the only way to go.  Hopefully it will make tax season a little less stressful and hopefully we’ll be able to get everything taken care of before the first week in April this year.  Fingers crossed.

Obviously the tasks had to be done, and there was one distinct way I could think of to make it a bit more enjoyable.

How about some hot and gooey vegan white chocolate and milk chocolate chip cookies, husband?  yes, please.

Husband’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from here

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • chocolate chips of your choice, as many as you want
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar, sifted to remove clumps
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, mostly melted (should be room temperature)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 EnerG egg replacer egg
  • 2 tbsp non dairy milk

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray baking sheet with cooking spray or use liner.
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix together all dry ingredients including chocolate chips.  Create a well in the center and set aside.
  • In a small sized bowl, mix together the melted Earth Balance and the sugar.  Add in the maple syrup, egg, water and milk and stir until well combined.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix by hand.  Dough will be very crumbly after it is all mixed.  You will have to get down and dirty with this dough:)  Scoop a spoonful of dough and use your hands to form it into balls.  Space the balls evenly apart on the baking sheet and then press down with the palm of your hand to flatten it.  The dough will not spread while it is baking – it will look the same when it comes out as it did when it went in.
  • Bake cookies for about 15 minutes.  They will appear to not be done, but take them out anyway and transfer them to a wire cooling rack as soon as they are movable.
  • I referred to these as “alien cookies” because it seemed like they just weren’t getting done. I kept having to put more time on the timer, but when I finally just decided to take them out and let them cool, they turned out great!  Keep in mind that oven temperatures can vary, so it would be a good idea to check them after 10 minutes and then again ever couple of minutes to make sure they don’t burn.

The husband gave these a great review!  He actually loved them even more than I did, although I certainly ate my fair share:)

Perfectly warm treat for a frigid day and a perfect end to the weekend.  Bring it on, Monday.

What was the best thing you did this weekend?  Has it snowed where you are?  Do you love snow?
I say if it’s going to be cold, then I’m more than thrilled to have pretty snow to look at.  I hope we get more!

Also, are you the type of person who gets your taxes done early?  Or do you procrastinate until the last minute?  Do you use an accountant or are you talented enough to figure them yourself?

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a

means by which we arrive at that goal.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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camp coffee cake

I spent the summer of 2003 and 2004 working at a summer camp for kid’s in the hills of Missouri. I was a boat driver by title, but I also taught everything from mountain biking to diving to archery.  I still cannot believe that parents left me alone with their children and a bow and arrow.  Or a boat motor for that matter.

Those were the best summers of my life and the worst summers of my life.  The morning call would blare over the speakers in our cabin (John Tesh in person some mornings!), and we would have 15 minutes to get up, get our kids in motion and book it to the dining hall.  Many mornings I would sneak out of our cabin before the sun rose and tiptoe down to the lakeshore, where I would meet my best friend, Ann.  We’d grab a couple of kayaks, shake all the spiders out and head off across the lake to the rock cliffs on the other side.  Once we reached them, we’d rest our paddles across our laps and sit forever, just talking about nothing or something.  The water was like reflecting glass, so perfectly still, the only ripple a consequence of the slightest shift of our kayaks.  And then, at the last possible second, we’d grudgingly head back across the lake to resume our positions.

Ann and I with the husbands at her wedding reception

As a counselor I was forbidden to have a cell phone, so the summer was filled with daily races to the main office, hoping there was a letter with my name on it.  The husband and I had only been dating about a year, and two months away from him seemed beyond eternity.  I would sit each night, listening to the bugs outside.  Flashlight in hand, I’d write and write and write hoping that my words would convey to him just how much I truly missed him.

Not only were we not allowed to have a cell phone, but we were also not allowed to bring our own food (I know).  The dining hall was pretty much hit or miss, but there were two things in particular that they were famous for: lasagna and coffee cake.

The coffee cake in particular was my favorite, and I can still remember the taste of brown sugar as if it was just yesterday.  I remember exactly the way it looked on the cheap, plastic serving dish and the way it crumbled ever so slightly when my fork would slide into it.  Bliss I tell you…bliss.  I believe I had only experienced coffee cake maybe once in my life before that, and since then I honestly have not eaten it again.  The husband hates it when I make absolute statements like that, but I promise it’s true:)

From time to time my mind has drifted to thoughts of that coffee cake, and I’ve had visions of sinking my teeth into a warm square of it once again.  And I’ll tell you, if I stumbled onto that exact same recipe made by the exact same people again I’d snatch it up in a second.  But you guys know me.  If I’m going to branch out and make it myself, I’m going to veganize it and healthify it.  Because that’s what I do. It makes me happy:)

Which brings us to the other day.  I was browsing the pages of my awesome new cookbook Vegan With a Vengeance,  given to me as a Christmas gift by my lovely friend, Grace.  I’ve wanted VWV for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally get to dig into it!  Awhile back, I unknowingly baked a chocolate muffin recipe from it, and the muffins were to die for, and ever since I’ve been itching to get my hands on a copy.

Anyway, so I was flipping through and suddenly my eyes landed on a recipe for blueberry coffee cake.  I did a double take.  Vegan blueberry coffee cake!  The best part was that I already had all the ingredients waiting in my pantry except for soy vanilla yogurt which I ran out of last week.  So, I grabbed my purse, grabbed the husband and headed to the health food store.

A half hour later, this:And this:

And this:

Then, finally…this:

Did it taste exactly like the coffee cake of my camp counselor days?  Honestly, no.

But it was oh so delicious.  I could go on and on, telling you about how moist it was and how it had just the right amount of sweetness – not sickly sweet – but soul satisfying.  But instead I’ll just be honest and say that I’ve had a slice of it every morning for the last 4 days, and one day I had it for lunch as well (my appetite has been a little funny lately, but that’s another story).

I’ll still be on the lookout for one of the white aproned, chef hatted cooks from the summer of ’04, but until then…

Did you go to summer camp as kid?  What’s your favorite memory (food or otherwise) from those days?

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goals for twenty eleven

So, I’m finally ready to talk goals, friends.

I realize that I’m coming in a little late on the 2011 goals discussion.  But I like to think of it as fashionably late.

It’s no fluke that I’ve waited until a week into the first month of the year for this.  The end of December is just so busy that I didn’t even start contemplating goals until the 1st.  And then I needed some time to really think about what kind of goals I want to make this year.

You see there are many strategies out there when it comes to goal setting.  Some people take the route of picking the same number of goals as the current year.  For instance, this year they would choose 11 goals to focus on throughout 2011.  Other people decided on a magic number, say…..3 for instance.  Lucky number 3.  And then I’ve heard of others who decided to fore-go goals altogether and choose a single word to represent their ambitions for the new year.

My goals sort of encompass multiple strategies.

I’m a simple girl, but when it comes to goals I get a little crazy.

For those of you who have been reading CSM for awhile, you may remember last August when I decided on 27 things that I wanted to accomplish in my 27th year of life.  Some of these things I’ve already accomplished – get certified to teach yoga, learn how to make great tofu, drink more fresh juice – and some of them I’m still working on – run another marathon, open up a CSM t-shirt shop.  Considering I am still working on at least half of this list, I decided that I probably have enough definitive goals in the works right now.  Oh sure, along the way I’m certain to set new goals, but as far as a specific goal list, I don’t think I can handle many more!

Even though I’m sticking to my existing list of goals for the most part, I really love the idea of choosing a word for the year.  It’s a great idea because this word can encompass every goal I have as well as every goal I might make as the year goes on.  It’s sort of like a mantra…an idea I can come back to day after day that will inspire and encourage me to grow in an area of character.  And isn’t that where it all starts?

So, I’ve been thinking through this for the past week, and honestly I’ve been pretty stumped. I’ve come up with several words that would be okay, but none that just seemed to fit.  Until yesterday.

I was standing in the bathroom blow drying my hair.  And as usual when I’m blow drying my hair I was thinking through a lot of things going on right now.  Things that Satan is trying to use to drag me down and cause me anxiety.  Things I’ve been dealing with for weeks/months now.  Things that make it hard to stay positive each day.  You get the idea.

And suddenly it all just seemed like too much.  I couldn’t keep it in for another moment.  I clicked off the dryer, placing it on the bathroom counter.  And I headed for the spot I always head to when I’m feeling like the world has just become too tough.  Laying down on our bed, I pulled Olive’s furry little body up next to me, and I began to pray. And with the first words that came out of my mouth I instantly knew what my word would be:

“Father, I’m really struggling with all of these issues going on right now…please just give me peace in my heart and let it spread throughout my whole body, from my fingertips all the way to my toes.  The peace that only comes from You.”


No matter who we are, where we live, how much money we have, whether we’re married or single, have children or don’t have children…there will be trials in our life.  It’s a non-negotiable.  So the questions is not  “will I  I face challenges, sadness or conflict this year?”  The question is “how will I react when I face these things?”  Will I shut off?  Will I yell and scream and place blame on myself or others?

Or will I turn to the Lord, who is the only one who can and will provide peace in my life?  Will I remain calm in my heart and continue to press on in my daily life?

I want to grow to become a woman who finds peace in all situations, be it the last 2 excruciating miles of a marathon, fear of life circumstances beyond my control or frustration over falling to the mat after just 1/2 of a tricep push-up.

So these are my goals for 2011.  I believe my life will be just as or more full than it was during 2010.  And my biggest hope and prayer is that I become a better person.  A better wife, friend, daughter, sister, granddaughter and child of God. And that I learn to be more thankful for the life that He has given me as I accomplish each and every goal.

Also, as a way to help enforce my word of the year, I’ll be posting a quote of some sort or scripture each day for the next month (today through February 6th) that relates to peace.  My goal is to memorize as many of them as I can (hopefully every one) so when I need a little inspiration or reminder I’ll have something to focus on.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

- John 14:27

On a lighter note – one other goal I’ve decided on recently (possibly during that same hair drying escapade:) is that I think I’m going to grow out my hair!  What do you guys think?  You probably don’t know that I cut my hair to this length only a year and a half ago.  Before then I was always changing it – the color, the cut, the style – I was a hair chameleon.  But when you really take the plunge and go this short, there really isn’t anything else you can do until you take on the challenge of growing it out.  I still like my short hair, but I’m just ready for a change.

Here are some past pictures to give you a frame of reference – they’re kind of random.

I also wear it pulled back like this a lot when it’s long

and some short pics


So I need your opinions – stay short or grow it out? You won’t hurt my feelings either way…promise.

I’d also love to hear one goal that you have for the new year.  I know you may be sick of talking about goals by now, but I’m just getting started…so humor me:)

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bringing in a little warmth

If you all are anything like me, you may have felt a little sadness in letting go of the Christmas season.

It inevitably happens every January.  The tree is taken down, candy canes are placed on the clearance rack, the lights are stashed in the closet for another year and the Christmas music is turned off.  The season of festivities is over and it’s back to the daily grind for another year.

I always get into sort of a rut, feeling more than ever the dreariness of the cold, leafless streets.  I’m past the initial excitement of a new year of possibilities and am in need of change, refreshment and a little bit of inspiration.

So this year I decided to get a one up on the January blues. Starting in my favorite place.

The kitchen.  Getting rid of the clutter, consolidating the 4 canisters of cinnamon that have taken up residence in my cabinet over the past 6 months, and vacuuming out the trail of flour weaving its way around my baking shelf.

it must get worse before it gets…

better

The husband and I spent hours over the weekend, cleaning out every last cabinet, shelf and drawer in the kitchen, getting rid of anything we haven’t used in the past year and re-organizing everything in the most efficient fashion possible.   It’s funny how clearing out the clutter from the house seems to simultaneously de-clutter my head as well.  With every pot that was placed in a new, clean, accessible spot, my thoughts became a little more clear and my motivation gained a little bit of momentum.

After the kitchen, we moved on to the rest of the house.  There hasn’t been time to re-organize every closet and drawer quite yet, but there is a plan for it.  And just scrubbing everything down and sweeping up all the dust and pieces of ribbon leftover from wrapping gifts was so energizing.

Once the cleaning was all done, it was time to bring some life back to the house!

Plants have a way of breathing freshness into a space that feels a bit lifeless.

I gathered up every vase in the house

I also potted some new plants for our office.  I never imagined that the process of potting them would be as helpful as getting to admire them as we work late into the night. Squishing the soil between my fingers pressing it firmly down around the roots almost made me feel like spring had made an early appearance.

Have you started to feel the post-Christmas wintertime blues?  Or are you still riding on the wave of the new year?

What are you doing to bring in a little warmth?

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2010: a look back part II

It’s time for part two of my epicly long recap post! Part I is here.

I really wanted to recap the year primarily so in the future I can look back at what all happened during the year twenty ten, but it turns out there is another huge bonus to spending hours going back through posts from this year.  It was so good for me to go back and re-live all the major events and circumstances that led me to where I am now.  I was reminded of my goals and dreams and the reasons why I made the decisions I did; I’m now left with a fresh excitement to keep chasing after all the things I want for my life.

So let’s get back to it!

September 2010 started out on a contemplative note as I talked about learning to trust myself and live in the moment, enjoying where I am in life right now.  A week later we celebrated Labor Day with a spur-of-the-moment trip to Tulsa, stopping to see my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and then paying a visit to Whole Foods.

The biggest event in September was all about yoga – I drove to Dallas and spent two days getting certified as a yoga instructor and then I taught my first class.  Success!!

A not so great highlight of September, but definitely a big issue that came about this year was the problems I began having with my skin.  I decided to clean up my diet even more plus implement several other strategies to try and get it to clear up.  While my skin didn’t miraculously heal, the changes brought more energy and satisfaction to my every day life.

And then in the middle of September, things started looking up when I entered the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog competition.  I had so much fun thoughout the month, stretching and challenging myself in new ways.  I made it to rounds one, two and three before getting cut, which was way farther than I ever thought I would make it!  I also picked up one more student named Nada for tutoring, and began meeting with her three times a week, and we (grudgingly) put our Mini Cooper up for sale (still hasn’t sold!).

September ended with a long roadtrip to Iowa (part II, part III) for a wedding that Jon was in.  We got to spend great time with friends, eat lots of good food and see some site along the way.

With the beginning of October we welcomed my favorite season with open arms, I talked about finding contentment, we lived through our first earthquake and we went to my hometown and celebrated my mom’s birthday.

Later in the month we got the chance to travel to the nation’s capital (part II, part III, part IV) where (when Jon wasn’t in meetings) we explored the district, did lots of walking, ate cupcakes and I got to meet Emily!

And we ended the month by attending a Halloween party with our friends from Sunday School and dressing Olive up as a bumblebee.

In November I made my very first loaf of homemade bread, we visited mom and dad McCoy for the weekend, I took pictures of my Korean student and her little girl, all of Jonathan’s hard work payed off when his design debuted at the Route66 Marathon (here and here), and I took more pictures – this time of the family I used to nanny for.

And lastly, we celebrated Thanksgiving, my Grandma’s birthday and my sister’s birthday by going to my hometown and spending time with the family.

And to round out the year, we spent December doing lots of Christmas shopping and looking at lights, celebrating my two-year anniversary as a vegetarian, wrapping gifts, baking lots and lots of cookies and celebrated Christmas at the McCoys.

We also got to have Jonathan’s team from work over for a Christmas party, wished all our friends and family Merry Christmas with a Christmas card, baked and cooked up a storm, celebrated Christmas yet again with my family, ate dinner and visited with my Grandma and Grandpa and roadtripped down to south Texas to see our extended McCoy family for several days.

On the way back home from Texas we stopped for a night in Dallas and stayed at our one of our favorite hotels before rushing back home to welcome the newest member of our family!

2010 has definitely been a year full of everything that the husband and I value – family, travel, each other – and it’s been so full of possibility! We’re so thankful for everything God has blessed us with this year.  Here’s to 2011 being even sweeter.

Happy Twenty Eleven!

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