Lent, Seasonal, Uncategorized

An Awakening

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of Lent, which is the 40 day period before Easter. When I think of Lent these words come to my mind: awakening , reflection, gratitude, repentance.

Lent is more than an ancient tradition observed by some. To me it is a time of “setting apart” for the next forty days. I find that I am more focused, more attentive to the where I am spiritually in my life. I allow myself to take extra time for this reflection. It is no coincidence that as this awakening begins in me; the earth is awakening from the cold, long winter. The earth is in the process of its own rebirth. I tell myself no matter how hard and long the winter may be, Spring always comes. Each day there are more and more signs of it.

  The birds are louder and their songs sounds more joyous because the sun is coming up sooner, warming the ground, making it easier to find food.

Spring reminds us that God made a promise after Noah made a sacrifice “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22.

Lent can allow us to make a sacrifice in thankfulness to this promise of the new season.

Perhaps by observing Lent, it gives me the opportunity to be more aware of God’s goodness and his beauty. I can reflect on his sacrifice, to repent of anything I’ve allowed to come between us and to love God with an undivided heart.

How do you observe Lent? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions .

-Nancy

gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, Uncategorized

A green velvet couch

All week I had been waiting for the weekend. No work, no school, we got our tax returns back and could finally buy a couch! I had it all planned out. I woke up that morning with a joy and excitement that I hadn’t had all week. I sat down on the our old broken down, “free” couch and began to write, sipping coffee, taking my sweet time, and basking in the slow morning where I would probably make a huge breakfast and enjoy it while listening to a podcast by Yoga Girl, versus my usual rush out the door with a piece of peanut butter toast and throwing together a dinner in the crockpot. Suddenly I get a call from my co-worker. She pulled her back out while working and needed me to cover for her today. I sat on the couch annoyed to the point of tears. It had been a week full of exams, work days full of trudging in the mud because it hadn’t stopped raining all week, and coming home slightly pissed off and dissatisfied. “Why did she have to pick today to pull her back out?” I asked myself reveling in my selfish annoyance. I slapped some toast together, got ready and headed to the farm to work. As I was driving I felt God say to me, “Are you grateful?” Those words hit like a knife sliding down my gut and getting caught in the tough places. I thought about it for a moment and then I begrudgingly texted my coworker saying, “let me work all weekend for you. A pulled muscle takes a long time to heal and I know you need rest.”

I didn’t want to send that text. But I did it. And immediately my heart calmed. It was pouring rain at work and I was knee deep in mud and manure but I felt happy as heck. My heart was light and I thought to myself, “Is this what it feels like to let go of my control and just let things be?”

After work my mom and I were on the hunt for a couch. I had been telling her that it was hard moving to a new place and not having a place where my husband and I could both just sit and be together. It somehow didn’t feel like home yet. It’s hard in general moving somewhere new and I just wanted a little bit of consistency and the idea that this was in fact my home. We went to four different used furniture places. I loved all the high end, expensive couches and Perrin had to keep reminding me that our budget was incredibly low and we couldn’t spend our entire tax return on a couch. I again, dug my heels in and pouted and decided that if I couldn’t get a nice couch that would last a long time, then I wasn’t going to find a couch today. It was pouring rain and I was just frustrated with the entire day and how it hadn’t gone according to my plans. But my mom had one more idea. Lot 25:40. A salvage building that collects donations of furniture and other nicknacks and all the proceeds go to homeless. I walked in and saw a bunch of couches that were in decent shape and had amazing prices, but they all had been sold and were on hold. Mom and I walked around and then I reached an antique little vendor in the building and there was a cute and funky looking Victorian/70’s couch. I loved it. It was not the high end I was looking for, it was not the generic couch I had imagined, but I was in love with it. I looked at the price and it was within our tiny budget. I asked the man if I could put it on hold so my husband could come by and see it. He walked over to the couch flipped the price tag and said, “ma’am you do realize it’s 40% off of the original price, right? You might want to make a decision today.”

As he said those words I noticed writing on the floor directly in front of the couch and it read: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19

I felt like someone had slapped me across the face. This life wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my schedule or my agenda or what I thought was right. It was about God. It was about messiness and disorder and maybe things aren’t going to pan out the way we had hoped. Maybe instead of the neutral average couch, I’ll find a green velvet one. Maybe instead of staying home and not working all weekend, I’ll work and I’ll do it with joy. Maybe life is about giving. About others. About living each day as if it’s the weekend. Waking up with an excitement and a joy and an anticipation that this life is really the best ever. We don’t only live once, we live everyday. And I can promise you it feels so much better when you wake up with hands opened from their tight fist, teeth unclenched and eyes wide open. Accepting everything as it comes and everyone exactly as they come. It’s uncomfortable and it’s very unnerving because it means they’re is no more control. But I can honestly tell you…it is beautiful. So this week, live like it’s your day off. Wake up with anticipation for whatever God is going to give you and say thank you. You might find what you were looking for.

Cheers to today!

Blogpost by Nan Ketchum nanbystillwaters.wordpress.com

Seasonal, Uncategorized, winter blahs

Keeping the Wintertime Blahs Away and a Springtime Lemon Scone Recipe (GF and Low-Carb) yes

 

Post by Nancy Gordon

Forgive me for complaining, but winter seems to last forever,and I get tired of the overcast skies. I know I shouldn’t complain, especially since I am a Southerner. Ive heard how harsh the winters are in the North.  I am glad to live where I do for that reason.   But are you feeling this way too?    I am over always being cold and going out into the frosty air.  My once cute sweaters and boots that looked so inviting way back in the Fall, now look tired, boring and dull. But instead of wallowing in self-pity I have decided to do a few simple things to change up my routine and scenery.  I’ve written down a few of the things I do to keep my wintertime blahs away. 

Below I share them with you.  

*For starters, fresh flowers are a must. Nothing says springtime like flowers.  They brighten any room.   Aldis had half a dozen lovely roses for just 3.99.  I bought a some pretty white and pink ones.  I stuck them in a vintage blue mason jar, set it on my kitchen table, and every time I look at them, I smile. 

*I also keep Christmas lights up until day light savings time.  Yes, I have a nice long strand of white lights strung in my bay window.   We eat breakfast and dinner when its dark outside, this bring cheeriness to our breakfast nook.

*I’ve discovered it’s a good time of year to look for house plants at your local hardware store.  I found tropical plants on sale there for only five dollars!  I bought a cool spider plant and a tall cane tree.  The greenery is just what these empty spaces in my home needed.  Tropical plants are easy to care for as they don’t require a lot of watering.  They like dry soil and bright light, so I have mine near windows and they seem to be doing just fine. And they remind me of warm, island days!

*I wear pink.  It reminds me of spring flowers such as pink hyacinths and peonies.  Get out of your everyday black.  Maybe pink isn’t your color of choice, but it’s one of my favorite colors.   I wear lots of it, especially this time of year.  And I’m so glad it’s a popular color this year.  I bought a really warm, pink chenille sweater back in December and have worn it so many times.  It never fails to make me happy.  What’s your favorite pastel color?  Baby blue or pale green, there are so many choices out there. Buy one and wear it on those dreary cold days and it will be sure to make you happy.

*This is the time of year for short day trips, such as a visit to the nearby art museum.  There you can bask in the Impressionist paintings of lakes, blue skies and green trees.  The still life paintings of flowers and the landscapes of oceans and fields remind us that warmer days are coming. We are fortunate to have the coast nearby.   My husband and I were recently invited to go to the beach and to stay with friends.  While the weather was still cold and overcast, it was the beach.  There’s something about walking on sand and listening to the ocean that soothes the soul.

*Bake something citrusy and light.  I love lemon scones with crème fraiche or lemony chicken breasts.  If you don’t enjoy baking buy a nice loaf of homemade bread and a jar of marmalade.  Feast on that goodness and think warm thoughts.

*My daughter and I are going to sign up for a yoga class.  Classes are a great way to keep fit in the wintertime, if you don’t like to brave the cold outdoors.  Or maybe you do, then bundle up and try a new hiking trail.  Once I get moving, even I start to warm up and it’s fun to look for signs of spring.  Maybe some bushes are beginning to bud in late February, at least they are in the mid-south.

There are so many other things you can do to brighten your day and your outlook in the midst of these short days and bare trees.  I know for some people seasonal blues is a more serious issue and I’m not trying to trivialize it.  Hopefully theses ideas will foster even more ways to bring springtime inside your home.

And the good news is that Spring always comes.  Solomon, a very wise King in the Bible, once said, “See, the winter is past;the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance” (Song of Songs 2:11-13a).

I look forward to those days of new life when the earth awakens from its long nap.  The daffodils and forsythia will bloom and brighten my yard with their sunny yellow blossoms.  And I can pack away the sweaters and boots until the chill in the air forces me to bring them out again.  But today I will patiently wait for springtime.

Here is my lemon scone recipe.

 

 

 

Low Carb Gluten Free Lemon Scones

1 cup blanched almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

3 TB granular sweetener, I use Pyure

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp Himalayan salt

2 TB melted coconut oil

1 egg

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

2 TB fresh lemon juice

Glaze

1 TB melted refined coconut oil

1 TB granulated sweetener, I used Pyure

2 TB fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In one bowl, combine dry ingredients together, almond flour through salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry until a dough forms.  

Place dough on lined baking sheet and form a circle about 1 inch thick.  Cut into 8 wedges and move apart about 1 inch.  Bake for about 18- 20 minutes until golden brown.  Scones firm up as they cool.  Do not overcook.

To prepare the glaze combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.  Let scones cool before drizzling the glaze on them.

 

 

Uncategorized

Celery juice fad

There has been a lot of hype around celery juice. I’ve seen all my favorite health instagram accounts full of pictures of this green juice. I started to get curious as I saw more and more people talking about how amazing celery juice was. As someone always on the search for anything to help my gut and stomach issues I was on board to give it a try.

Once I hunted down organic celery ( don’t use non organic) I decided I was ready. My biggest concern was the taste of the juice. But I actually like it. I’m the total weirdo that loves celery in general and the salty celery taste. The texture took some getting used to but it’s not that bad.

I’m on day 9 of drinking a glass of celery juice every morning on an empty stomach and then waiting half an hour before eating or drinking anything else.

Morning coffee goes on hold for some Celery juice.

Higher Perspective lists some of the health benefits as…

  • Celery can help prevents chronic inflammation
  • It helps regulate the pH balance of the body
  • it assist in weight loss since it is low in calories but high in fiber
  • Celery helps digestion and treats stomach issues and constipation
  • It can help treat urinary tract infections as it has potent diuretic properties
  • It soothes the nervous system and may help you fall asleep
  • Celery has been found to regulate cholesterol and blood pressure, since it contains phthalide
  • It is low in acids and relieves heartburn and acid reflux
  • Celery is abundant in vitamin A, so it improves vision, treats dry eyes, and protects the cornea
  • It can clean your teeth like a natural dental floss since it is breaking into fibrous strands while chewing

Does this magical green juice live up to the hype? Well, last night I made gluten free pasta with turkey meatballs. I accidentally had bought Arrabbiata pasta sauce which apparently means angry sauce. It was SO spicy (and SO good!) The kind of spicy that raises your core temperature a little. Yum. Normally pasta sauce alone gives me such bad heartburn I’m dying but spicy sauce? Yikes. I was nervous. But I had no heartburn last night. Not even a little.

I also tend to get very bloated very easily. My stomach has been so much flatter but more importantly happier. Less gassy bloating, heartburn, acid reflux and all those wonderful stomach issues I’ve dealt with for years. They are so much better!!

No heartburn after this amazing gluten free Cuban pizza…

Even though celery juice has most definitely helped so many of my stomach issues, it’s not a total fix or excuse to feed my body food that doesn’t nourish it. I use it as an aid to live a healthy life and assist with some issues. But you still gotta get up, move and eat a balanced beautiful diet which for me most definitely includes pizza and wine. All about balance.

This may be one wellness fad I stay on board with long after everyone else has moved on from eating their sticks of butter to whatever the next health craze is. You’ll find me cozied up in my new chairs drinking my celery juice. I may even try it at night if it helps with sleep… I’ll let you know!

Family Life, Motherhood, soup, wintertime, Uncategorized

Instant Pot Harvest Italian Soup

GSD

In the fall and winter when I ask my family for ideas for dinner I usually get back, how about soup? Nothing is as cozy as a steaming bowl of soup at the table on a cold winter night but I don’t always have time. Soup in my opinion takes a little effort. When all the ingredients are sautéed before liquid is added and when it has time to slowly simmer, I find that brings out the best flavor.

I used to make a lot of soup in the crock pot but I would often get this strange metallic taste. Sometimes the taste wasn’t there if the onions, veggies and garlic were cooked well before being added to the liquid but who has time for that when you’ve just thought of throwing something together before going off to work in the morning?

And at night when I’m trying to navigate homework, baths, babies crawling under my feet and trying to get into the cat food dish, I don’t have time to deal with fry pans and simmering something for an hour.

So my Instant Pot has been so wonderful for this busy working mom. Only one pot to clean and while I still add each ingredient to the sauté feature it only cooks for about 30 minutes. But it tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.

GSD

This is my husband’s favorite. It’s like Italian wedding soup without pasta and the variations are endless. As long as you have a base of mild (or hot if you live on the edge) Italian sausage, white beans, rosemary, onions and garlic with tomato and greens, you can add from there. I like peppers and mushrooms. Sometimes kale sometimes spinach. Red wine or maybe a splash of really good balsamic vinegar. It tastes different each time I make it.

I’m not a big recipe follower and I hope if you make this and if you like it, you’ll do it again a different way, adding what you think might taste good. That’s the fun of cooking.

Of course if you don’t have an instant pot this can be made on the stove or the crock pot. You’ll still sauté everything but simmer on the stove for about one hour. In the crock pot it can cook for 4-6 hours on low. I don’t recommend cooking it on high as rapid boiling will break down the beans and greens too much. 
Here goes.

GSD

Harvest Italian Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (I like the sweet variety)
  • 4-5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 -14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups shredded kale or spinach
  • 1- 14 ounce can white beans, drained
  • 3-4 drops hot sauce (optional)
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat Instant Pot on the Sauté setting. When it says Hot, add olive oil and diced onion, with a light dusting of salt. Sauté until starting to sweat or becoming translucent. Add celery and green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. At this point you can walk away to pretend like you know enough about math to help your daughter with her homework.

Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to lose a little water. Add garlic and rosemary and stir just until you can smell the garlic. Don’t let it get any color. Don’t leave the area.

Add sausage to the vegetables and another light dusting of salt and brown the meat. When nicely browned, pour in the red wine and deglaze pan. Be sure to scrape any of the browned meat off the bottom of the Instant Pot so it doesn’t burn during cooking. This can take about a minute.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, white beans, kale and a generous amount of pepper. Add more chicken broth if the soup needs to be thinned out. Stir well. Set Instant Pot to high pressure and set timer for 25 minutes. You can now give the baby a bath and wrangle him into his PJ’s. When done, let the steam out and stir in hot sauce (optional).

Season soup to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and serve. Can serve with crusty bread. Also great the next day.

GSD

-Claire