Thursday, June 27, 2013

elevated.



I am still digging slowly out of the sick-house hole we've created in the past couple weeks. Today, I vacuumed. To me, that is the sign of real progress. When there is actually a visible floor in which to clean.

I have a love/hate connection with cleaning. On the one hand, I hate it. duh. On the other, my mind seems to settle and come more alive when I am vigorously engaged in monotonous physical labor. Is it weird to think that my most expansive thoughts have come during a good bathroom scrub?

I like to listen to podcasts while cleaning, mainly. Other days music more aptly suits my mood. Today I'll leave you with a few links that might help you through a day of whatever drudge work you might have on hand to tackle. Let's call this

  The Elevated Laundry Folding series, shall we?!

To listen:

On Being: The Future of Marriage(click here)
{In light of the current events: one of the best conversations I've heard in a long time. I may have a cried a little, I found it so refreshing. }

To read:

Quit pointing your avocado at me (Momastery/click here).

Glennon, how I love you. Nailed it. Have you read her book yet? I grabbed two copies.

To watch: (or listen):

An insightful, fun conversation with Dwight (!!) (Rainn Wilson) from The Office and Oprah: my two favorite people, like ever?!...;)

Listen Here: Oprah and Dwight Audio.
or you can
Watch: Oprah and Dwight Video.

Rainn Wilson's Website SoulPancake.



Off to enjoy a weekend at the ocean. Pinch me!






Wednesday, June 26, 2013

today i want MY mommy.


{photo catch-up:
my sweet Joanie and her momma Joan came for a quick visit last week....such a treat!}

in unrelated news:

yesterday after i took stock of the damage in a gross house complete with clothes everywhere and coughing kids and total house arrest and fatigue and fast food bags i went a little

NUTSO.

my sassy children were pulling each others hair and i immediately loaded us into the car looking like homeless people and promptly drove to the nearest park. i watched them play and wished that for this day they could be back in NV, up at my parents house running wild. and me? i would be happily free for an afternoon to go back home in solitude for a much needed  nap and a few hours to catch up on life. 

this is going to be an adjustment for me.

i've lost my swooper.

what's a swooper, you ask?

my mom is a real swooper type. the kind who, when the going gets rough, tends to swoop on in and help you handle things. the kind that doesn't wait to be asked. with her in the vicinity i just know that clear liquids and popsicles are moments away, my workload suddenly divided in half, children  packed up and distributed between aunties and pop, and one of my favorite parts: a much needed injection of laughter and sparkliness added to my energy field when she bounds in. always quick, always busy, but always merry. such a good mom. 

i can only hope that my girls will like me so much someday.


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Ps. Although, just as a side-note, I do have a pretty great husband. He got home from work, found me lying on some couch in abject self-pity, and set to work to team up on everything in general. So I guess you could say I still gots me a swoopdaddy...and a sexy one at that.;)











Monday, June 24, 2013

Meal Planning Mondays: easy summer.


We are currently battling nasty chest colds in our neck of the woods. Seriously, what is up with colds in the SUMMER? I mean, COME ON.

Emerson has a sad, barking cough and lets out a pitiful whimper each time her chest must release another tight, prickly heave or sneeze. My poor baby. Have I mentioned I do not handle my children's sicknesses well? Not from the outside, mind you. From the outside appearance I am chivalrous and soothing and calm. Pretty much the opposite of my regular demeanor. But on the inside I am a disturbed and paranoid and overly dramatic mess. At this very moment I am consciously choosing to post these recipes in order to override the usually irresistible impulse to google and educate myself on any and all forms of mutated, incurable viruses, followed by locking myself in a bedroom to compose poetry centered primarily around themes of despair and abandonment.

Will I ever be normal?

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Moving on....

Here are two summer recipes that were easy and delicious!

1. No cook night! 15 minute meal!

Caprese Chicken Salad Sammies

2 cans chicken (I use Costco Kirkland brand, or if you want to be a real snootface about it you can shred your own cooked chicken breasts, or a rotisserie chicken. In fact, that will probably taste a million times better. pff, show off.)
1/2-3/4 cup mayo or greek yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
1/2 cup pesto sauce (I used Costco Kirkland brand)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh tomatoes, sliced
Fresh mozzerella, sliced
1 large baguette, sliced in half

Mix together shredded canned chicken, mayo(yogurt), and pesto sauce. Season with salt and pepper. You can omit or add any of these ingredients to suit your taste. I tend to like very little mayo/yogurt and more pesto sauce.
Top sliced baguette with tomatoes and mozzarella. Spoon chicken mixture over the top. Slice and serve!

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Kitchen views:






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2. These tacos were AWESOME. Don't skip the slaw.

It was all about the slaw.


Korean Style Beef Tacos

    Meat:
    1.75 pounds beef roast (I used a trimmed chuck roast)
    3 tablespoons honey
    1/3 cup soy sauce 
    2 cloves garlic minced
    1/2 onion, diced
    1 tsp ground ginger
    2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 whole jalapeno, seeds removed and diced (optional: i didn't use)
    8 6-inch flour (or corn) tortillas

Meat: 
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. I didn't brown my meat, but I did trim off the visible fat.Throw everything in however you'd like.

Cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat has fully shredded--- you can help it out by cutting the meat into pieces an hour or so before serving time. Serve in soft corn or flour tortillas. 

Slaw:
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
2 pinches salt
1/2 of a large onion - very thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled then "sliced" into long thin strips with your peeler
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. or drizzle sesame oil
1 sqeeze lime juice (about 1 tsp.)
1 tsp. fresh ginger, FINELY minced
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds


For the Slaw:
(To toast the sesame seeds, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir for about 4 mins. until golden brown and aromatic. Remove immediately and set aside.)
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the sliced onions to the mixture and let sit for about 15 mins. to pickle & sweeten the onions.
Pour onions & mixture into a medium bowl. Add carrot pieces. Gently stir in your red pepper flakes, cilantro, sesame oil, lime juice, and ginger.
Reserve toasted sesame seeds until JUST before serving so they retain their crunch. Can be made a few hours ahead of time and kept in the fridge, sans sesame seeds.





Happy meal planning!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Meal Planning Mondays: and we're back!




There are a variety of factors I love about the recipes I'm sharing today.

*crockpots: yes, yes, and YES. always easy. always eliminates kitchen time. and best of all, makes your house smell like ANTICIPATION!

*doubling: turning one meal into the next day's meal without any feelings of boring leftovers. I call it a leftMAKEover! saves time (again!). saves food that otherwise gets tossed (waste not, want not!). saves money.

*good neighbors: not a week into living here, a darling couple who live a few houses down arrived on our doorstep with their cute baby and a small burlap, ribbon tied sack filled with fresh lemons from their tree. heaven i tell you. i looked at her like well hello there little martha stewart aren't you just a total class act and how did you know i am obsessed with lemon trees? perfect ingredients for a real meal made with love. there are some days when you just say WORLD, what a nice little place you can be sometimes.

*Side dishes that make my kids like broccoli: need i say more?

*A salad dressing worth remembering: don't be fooled into thinking the salad below is any ordinary cabbage chicken chopped salad. The coconut lime peanut dressing will KNOCK YOUR THAI SOCKS OFF. Bring it to your next BBQ, dinner at the park, or potluck!



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Meal #1



Crockpot Lemon Italian Chicken

3-4 Large boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
A few swigs of olive oil
1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing/seasoning mix
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I used two fresh lemons)
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan (optional/garnish) 


Plug in crock pot and turn setting to Low heat.

Heat a swig of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, add half of the chicken pieces. (You don't want to over-crowd the pan, so you'll cook the chicken in two batches) Season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown,on each side. 

(You're not cooking the chicken all the way, just getting a slight golden-brown crust)

Remove chicken from skillet and place in crock pot. Cook remaining chicken and add to crock pot.

Sprinkle the Italian dressing/seasoning mix evenly over the chicken. Pour the lemon juice and chicken broth over the tops. Cover with lid, and cook on low heat for 3 hours. 

Either serve chicken pieces whole or shredded, with the lemon sauce/broth. 







Cheezy Broccoli Orzo

1 c. orzo pasta
1 1/2 c. chopped broccoli florets
1/4 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
2 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl. butter
1/4 - 1/2 c. chicken broth
salt and pepper

Add orzo to a large pot of salted boiling water.  Cook for three minutes, then add the chopped broccoli; cook two more minutes or until orzo is tender.  Drain very well.  Return to pot and stir in the Cheddar, Parmesan, butter and chicken broth to desired level of moistness.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serves: 3-4


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Meal #2 
(Use previous days leftover chicken, shredded)


Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

For the salad:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 whole carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 english cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 ounces cooked spaghetti (i omitted this)
  • Handful of fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
  • Chopped peanuts for garnish
Add all ingredients in a large bowl, toss with dressing (below), and serve!

Coconut Peanut Lime Dressing:

1 tbsp ginger, peeled and chopped 
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3⁄4 tsp sambal oelek (a South Asian chili sauce)
2 tbsp cilantro, densely packed 
2 tbsp natural peanut butter 
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lime juice 
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp plus 1⁄2 tsp tamari (a type of soy sauce) 
1-1⁄2 tsp sugar
4 tsp coconut milk 
3⁄4 tsp sesame oil 
1⁄2 cup sunflower oil






Happy Meal Planning!!





Wednesday, June 12, 2013

to the desert!


We had our first official date night since moving! woot woot! We drove to palm springs for the evening and enjoyed dinner under the night sky, twinkly lights, and spray misters relieving the dry heat. It was pretty lovely.

Thirteen years of regularly trying to sneak off to spend time alone together...has it really been so long?

I love you, tyler.

Here's to thirteen (millioncazillion) more.







Tuesday, June 4, 2013

the content we keep.




I won't be posting much this week. I need to dedicate all free time to preparing a talk for church on Sunday. A "talk" is just Mormony lingo for a speech of sorts. And I will tell you, with my somewhat limited world religion encyclopedia, that it is only in Mormonism....yes, ONLY in Mormonism where new people in the congregation are compelled to stand and introduce themselves by way of a twenty minute speech that elaborates on a theological concept. Indeed! Can you think of any better way you would like people to learn about you than to PUBLICLY SPEAK? Haven't they gotten the memo yet about people's NUMBER ONE FEAR?!

But actually, I appreciate the vulnerability quite a bit, so long as I'm not the one feeling vulnerable. One of my favorites weeks of the month to attend church is the fourth Sunday when members of the congregation can stand and share something they believe. Kind of like an open mic day. It is beautiful. It is messy sometimes. Some token cray cray's have been known to chat about some fabulously cray cray things in my day. And you know what? I love it. This is humanity in action, no? 

I've been having a hard time mustering the mojo to get this blog back in action. The problem isn't that I have nothing to post about, the problem is I have TOO MUCH to post about. And it's scattered. Wildly scattered. In fact, I'm sure if I dedicated myself to daily posting each topic that crosses my mind I'm sure it would make a clear case for ADHD. 

I've been trying to collect myself and decide what this blog really should be about. Because you don't just publicly write and put things out there without any intentions whatsoever, right? This is a hobby, it is an outlet. But who am I serving, ya know? Is anyone ever stepping away from reading feeling remotely enlightened? Encouraged? Amused? Annoyed?!

Every now and then I get an email from someone who reads, and instantly that person becomes the new so-and-so who is reading the blog. I even had ONE PERSON, who ISN'T my mother, tell me that I am their FAVORITE blog (my dear friend, she must not get around much!):) 

Do you have any idea what an HONOR THAT IS? To be even one person's self described favorite?!!! 
Here's what this does to me to know that:
I get more nervous about posts. I wonder what the individual will think. I worry that my content is not suitable to their tastes. I wonder if my thoughts will seem flippant and silly given their life circumstances or perspective. Or completely nerdy and too philosophical or bizarre, given how much obviously cooler such reader is than me.  I go back and notice an old post and feel hideously embarrassed over something stupid I shared. And then I begin to wonder why share at all? Why open up and post anything publicly? Why not just get on instagram and be DONE with this whole business?

Writing, publicly, in any form, is truly like standing naked in front of the world. No...no...I take that back. It's like standing naked, stretching out your deflated no longer breastfeeding breasts, wrapping them around your shoulders, and counting the stretchmarks with a magnifying glass in front of the world. 

Exposing your mind, and all its deficiencies, its inadequacies, its misgivings, its grammatical errors, is terrifying. And strangely, exhilarating. And cathartic. 

It's something I decided is worth a go. And consequently, I can't constantly be concerned over who is in the audience. I must be me. Scattered. Goofy. Thoughtful. Messy. It will not always be cotton candy fluffy goodness. It will not always be funny. It will not always be informative. Heck, it will not always be coherent. Instead, it will be reflections and outpourings from me. Things that hopefully will serve some purpose. And if nothing else, it is a personal  sounding board for thoughts that stream incessantly through a mind hell bent on seeking out new and good things. 

Going forward, I hope to provide more content. I'm pining to fuse a little more of my inner life into this narrative. So beware, it might get boring. But I promise to lace it thoroughly with pictures of my girls, so you can count on an illustrated classic (in that sense at least). And let's be real, I will still need to post pictures of my hair and shoes on occasion too. And food. There will always be food. Meal Planning Mondays will be back soon. That will be a regular. I am also going to post a new mini-series edition over the next year. Each one dedicated to a topic I find worth exploration. I hope you'll enjoy it!

First series coming in July: Radical Homemaking. It's like...totally. rad. huh huh, get it?

K peeps, I'm off, hope you enjoy your week!




-rae