summer 2015 blog survey

Posted: June 29th, 2015

blog survey

Just a brief post today to ask if you wouldn’t mind taking a short blog survey.  I don’t care if you’ve been reading this site for years or just stumbled upon it today, I would so appreciate your feedback!  It’s a short survey, just a handful of questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.  I’d love to know your thoughts on what you like, what you’d like to see more of, etc.

Just click here to get to the survey.

Thanks!  Hope you’re having a great week.

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things i’m loving lately {june 2015}

Posted: June 26th, 2015

porch swing

My Back Porch

Our back porch has been a work-in-progress for years (and really still is.  But in the past couple of months we have done three things that make a huge difference: 1) stained it 2) strung up some lights and 3) finished staining and hanging the back porch swing.  And now it is starting to feel like the relaxing haven I have always wanted it to be.

Yoga with Adriene

I kept hearing about it and kept hearing about it until finally I had to try it.  And I am loving it.  I’ve been on the search for a dependable yoga program with lots of variety that also happens to be free, and this is it.  I also love that there are plenty of shorter (20-30 minute) routines so that doing yoga doesn’t always require an hour long time commitment from me.

Sun-Bleaching Stains

I guess I’ve always considered it an old fashioned thing to do (because really we have stain remover these days!), but y’all.  It works.  A few weeks ago Evelyn had a little red stain on her adorable white popsicle shirt (really it is the cutest! summer popsicles that are smiling!) and I set it aside on my dresser so I would remember to treat it (again) next time I washed it.  Well I didn’t get around to that for awhile…and lo and behold a week or so later, after it had been sitting in the sun from the window next to my dresser, the stain was gone.  Same thing with a white decorative dish towel.  Hung it up to treat later, and the sun from the window bleached it out.

Book Podcasts

You may have heard me confess my love for From the Front Porch (the podcast from The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA).  But I have been in a podcast listening mood recently and have been looking for more.  So far I’m really enjoying Books on the Nightstand, and I’ve listened to a bit of The Lit Up Show and I think it’s going to be a regular for me as well.

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about a tree

Posted: June 23rd, 2015

fallen tree

Last week, I think it might have even been on Tuesday, I read The Giving Tree to Evelyn.  I haven’t read that book in years.  In case you’re unfamiliar (or forget) the story, a boy loves a tree and as he grows older the trees offers him herself (apples to sell for money, wood to build with, etc.) trying to make the boy happy.  And in the end, the tree is an old stump on which the boy, now an old man, can sit and rest.

Later that day, my dad texted us all to let us know that the tree that has been standing for several decades in front of the family house fell down unexpectedly in the middle of the night.  No one and nothing was hurt, part of it just fell into the street and into the neighbor’s driveway, and the rest needed to be taken down so it wouldn’t fall on the house.

I say the “family house” because it is a home that has been in our family for over 50 years.  My great-grandparents lived in it.  My grandparents lived in it.  My family lived in it.  My grandmother has recently been living in it again.  But it is being sold out of the family for the first time next month.  We (more specifically my parents) have been over there helping my grandmother clean out closets and move her things.

The wall-paper in the small bedroom is still the same teddy bear wall paper that was my nursery theme when my parents brought me home from the hospital.  There is a Christmas tree growing tall in the back yard that my parents planted.  The first dog I ever had is buried in the back corner.

If I had a lot more money, I’d buy the house and do the remodel myself.  It’s going to be hard to drive down that street and see someone else making that house into something different.

It’s going to be hard to no have a particular reason to drive down that street.  (It’s a beautiful street.)

But we have to let go of things and move on and tree reminded me of that last week.

I got a picture in front of the tree a few weeks ago, and picture of me with Evelyn sitting on my lap, because as a child we took so many pictures sitting on that little brick wall out front and as a child I remember wrapping my arms around the tree trunk and drawing on the bark with crayons.  I wanted a picture to remember the tree before the house sold.  But I assumed I would be remembering it because my family no longer had the house, not because the tree would be gone.

In a way, I’m glad the tree fell on it’s own last week.  It would have been harder to see someone else pulling it up.  But instead, it did the hard thing first and gave us all permission to let go and move on.

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whole wheat pasta with roasted cauliflower {feasting & fasting}

Posted: June 17th, 2015

whole wheat pasta with roasted cauliflower

So right now I am reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  It is full of so many lovely thoughts about food and gathering with people we love.  It is about the holy act of hospitality.  It is about how life does not always hand us what we expect.  It is about letting go of control and expectations, both in life and entertaining.

One of her essays was about feasting and fasting, and how she always feels like summer and holiday times are feasting times, and that fall and spring are fasting times.  Which makes complete sense.  But it got me thinking about my own “feasting and fasting” patterns, because I think we all have them, whether we realize it or not.

Personally, aside from the fact that there are a few more Christmas treats in my life around the holidays, I feel like I eat about the same throughout the year.  I don’t particularly go through seasons with my eating patterns and indulgences.  In summer there is homemade ice cream, but there are also grilled vegetables and fish.  In winter there are Christmas treats, but there are also soups and roasted winter vegetables.

whole wheat pasta with roasted cauliflower

But I still have my patterns, feasting here and fasting there.  After a big couple of days of eating, I’m usually ready for something lighter, which I think is the case for a lot of people.  Over this past weekend we had burgers and homemade ice cream on Friday, on Saturday we had this pasta; on Sunday we had cinnamon rolls and pasta with a creamy sauce, and on Monday all I wanted was some salmon.

It’s always good to find a pasta dish that is particularly healthy.  I’m not always a fan of whole wheat pasta, but it completely works with the cauliflower; it all comes together with a nutty taste.  And while it is just pasta and roasted vegetables, it works as a complete meal, particularly for a weekday in which you are trying to lighten up.

whole wheat pasta with roasted cauliflower

whole wheat pasta with roasted cauliflower

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: Serves 2

A note about the cauliflower to pasta ratio: I like a lot of cauliflower, and therefore one cauliflower head per two people. The original recipe calls for one head of cauliflower and one pound of pasta (feeding four people), but I think the ratios there seems a little skimpy. All this to say, if you want to double the recipe, you can double the cauliflower or still just use one head of cauliflower. Your choice. Also, if you've never had anchovies like this, please try it. I promise promise promise it doesn't taste like anchovies at all; it just adds a nutty complexity to the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta)
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 small shallot, peeled and diced
  • 2 oil packed anchovies, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the cauliflower on a baking sheet with a good drizzle or two of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper (personally, I like a good amount of salt on my cauliflower). Spread the cauliflower out evenly and then roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, tossing it halfway through, until pieces are beginning to brown a bit.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and then drain the pasta. Toss with a bit of olive oil and the 1/2 tablespoon of butter to keep the pasta from sticking.
  3. Place the pot back on the heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with the shallot anchovies. Cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, until the shallot is tender and the anchovies have broken down.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs, and continue to cook and stir often until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the pasta, roasted cauliflower, and Parmesan to the pot. Toss everything together to combine. If the pasta seems dry (which I've found is usually the case), add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water at a time, until you reach a consistency that seems good to you.
  6. Serve warm, with more Parmesan grated over the top.

Notes

adapted from Dinner the Playbook

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what i’ve been reading {spring 2015}

Posted: June 12th, 2015

{Me Before You by Jojo Moyes}

I’ve been off my fiction reading game for a bit (I feel like I went through a non-fiction phase recently), and this is the first book I’ve read in a while that I felt fully captivated by the story.  Louisa is an average girl in a small English town (with a castle), who goes to work for Will, a paraplegic who is bitter about life.  She wants to convince him that life is worth living, but it turns out she has a lot to learn about living life, too.  Me Before You is an easy read (although I felt it was a bit long-winded in some places), and while I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, I can see why it’s been such a hit recently.

 

{The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You by Jessica Turner}

This is a book I needed badly, because in the chaos of each day (and especially days of motherhood now), it feels almost impossible to find time for myself.  The Fringe Hours not only encourages you to do that, it tells you why it’s so important for everyone in your life (not just you) and makes you think about ways you can make time for yourself happen.  While the writing style of this book wasn’t my favorite (it felt a bit dry and didactic in some places), the encouragement for women to make yourself a priority, even when everyone else in your life seems to need something from you, hit close to home.

{Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead}

The Van Meter eldest daughter is getting married on an island in Maine, the younger sister is recovering from a broken heart, the father is having a bit of a personal crisis, and the bridesmaids are causing all kinds of trouble.  It’s a book that sounds like good fun, but it is serious under the surface.  It is one of those books where nothing particular happens, but tension simmers low and slow.  I really loved this book.  It’s the kind of book that’s written slow so that you can savor it (Maggie Shipstead is a masterful writer), but you keep turning the pages with anticipation.  I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone (while it is about a wedding, it is not a light-hearted book), but I personally adored it.

{What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty}

This is a book I will be recommending to everyone.  My mom is already borrowing my copy, and I have promised to pass it along to my mother-in-law next.  When Alice wakes up on the gym floor, she slowly realizes she has lost ten years of her memory and can’t figure out why she is getting a divorce or who her children are or why she has become the kind of mom that seems a bit…tense.  What Alice Forgot is great fun, but it is also poignant–the kind of book that makes you reflect on your own life and what has changed in the past ten years and if you’ve become the kind of person you hoped you’d be.

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