Saturday, February 28, 2009

My first sewing project

This Thursday Me, Meggan, Kim and Randy's mom, Joan (who is a seamstress), all gathered for sewing lessons. We used a pattern from one of the fabulous books that my mother-in-law got me for Christmas and we had an evening filled with chatting, laughter, girl time, and crafting. I learned so much. It was great to finally learn how to use the sewing machine that I bought months ago, and to create an entire project start to finish in one evening. Talk about instant gratification. I usually bite off more than I can chew when it comes to crafting and discourage myself, but this project was just right, especially under Joan's guidance and with her assistance. What a wonderful time of teaching and investment made from an older, wiser woman to us. I'd wager to say that not all that we learned that evening was sewing. Anytime you spend quality time in the presence of a spiritually mature believer discipleship just seems to happen naturally along the way. As we sewed, giggled, and chatted, we also learned life lessons about being a Godly woman and mother. What a wonderful example of Titus 2! And below you can see my first project, a baby bib and burp cloth made of orange flannel and white terry cloth.

(please forgive that this is on top of a moving box as a back drop, that's about the only surface we have available in our home right now... boxes, boxes everywhere!)


Friday, February 27, 2009

Farewell Myrtle Beach

This week as I sat at the beach on my lunch break I nestled a restful period of prayer and reflection into my otherwise chaotic day filled with work, moving details, and packing. As I gazed out over the ocean my heart and mind finally started to grasp that I really am leaving this place that I've called home for almost five years now. I never would have known upon moving here the turns my life would take in Myrtle Beach... I never would have known how God would have used this move to draw me to Himself, give me a husband who loves Him, and a community of friends to share my life and my heart with. How He would use this five years as a huge transitional period, freeing me from so much of the pain and insecurities of my life before Him and teaching me who I am in Him, what that freedom means, the depths of the power of His healing, comfort, love, grace, and forgiveness. As I stared out over the ocean, just a few blocks away from where I was baptized just a few years ago all of these thoughts filled my head. I found comfort and security in God's plan. Reflecting on how five years ago I moved here as a person purely living life for myself, and now leaving with my life in the hands of Christ. How God has time and time again taken the worst of my circumstances, failures, and struggles and used them for His glory. How now when I am again heading into an unknown place and people (just as when I moved to Myrtle Beach) God still has a plan for me (just as He did when I moved to Myrtle Beach). And in all of this I find comfort. In knowing that God is so much bigger than me, my questions, my plans, my ways, and my desires. With all of this I bid Myrtle Beach a sweet farewell as she will always hold a special place in my heart, as so much transition occurred here. If I were in the Old Testament I would probably build an altar to God here and my name would be changed signifying my encounter with Him (as with Abram, Jacob and many others).


Monday, February 23, 2009

My birthday party and a bang update

Since my birthday was in the middle of the week Jeremy and I celebrated my birthday on Saturday. He planned a whole day full of surprises for me. I started off my being able to sleep in (which never happens). Then I got to do some cardio on my stationary bike. Then it was off to lunch at a surprise venue. Much to my delight it was sushi, one of my absolute favorite things to eat; actually sushi and chocolate are my two favorites and I got to enjoy both on my birthday! After a wonderful lunch of great food and conversation Jeremy and I headed home. We relaxed for a bit while I perused a new cookbook that was a birthday gift (another one of my favorite past times is cookbook reading). Then we got ready for an evening "out" for my unknown birthday celebration. We started with an hour or so of coffee and tea at Barnes and Noble while we chatted and perused more reading material... muscle mags for Jeremy and cookbooks for me. Then we headed off to our destination but had to make one quick stop at home to pick something up. ****Surprise**** Our house was filled with an assortment of our closest friends, balloons, confetti, snacks, and that chocolate cake that I mentioned earlier. We spent hours chatting the night away and enjoying the company and conversation. Here's a few pics from the evening. It was definitely one of my favorite birthdays ever! It was great to have a chance to get so many good friends together, especially knowing that we are going to be leaving soon and our time here with them is very limited.

Some pre-partying before Jeremy and I arrived (the other Jeremy shown in the pic)

Dan and Sophia playing

Carmen pretending to be me and surprised

Carmen again

Who stole Kim's smile?


(lots of laughter)

look at all the pretty confetti (that is actually still on our floor)

(Meggan must like taking pictures of Carmen since all of the photos are hers and this is the third Carmen photo)

My handsome part planner extraordinaire turned candle lighter

The delicious, fudgy chocolate cake made by Meggan

Crystal trying not to burn down the house by walking VERY carefully

"Make a wish"

Daddy's little girl

Every time I walked through the kitchen my foot picked up pieces of the confetti that was scattered all over so Meggan decided to capture my foot art. The best part was the 5 minute long leg lift that she made me hold while taking this picture.

The gals

(All the pics above were from Meggan's camera, the one's below are from ours, which isn't as good a quality)

Dan & Crystal

Jeremy & Caleb, the old roomies

Jeremy A. & Randy

Kim & Jeremy

Sophia & Meggan

Caitlin & Carmen


P.S. Onto the subject of bangs... You've probably noticed that I did go back and get "full" bangs cut. However I'm still not quite 100% happy with them. They are a little thin for my taste. You can still see my forehead through them, and I was really looking for a thick, full layer that covered my entire forehead. So dare I go back for round 3???? Third time is a charm, right???


Monday, February 9, 2009

adventures with pinto beans

Since I went “vegan” (in quotations because I’ve “cheated” a couple times on the weekends) my lunch of choice for work has been to eat a can of beans with some salsa. This costs between $0.54 and $0.62 depending on the type of beans, plus the cost of the salsa. Canned beans are so easy and convenient, and a lunch at merely half a dollar is about half the price of my lunch each day prior to going vegan. That said, the frugal side of me still wanted to cut this cost down more, knowing that I could do so by using dried beans rather than canned. I’d used dried beans before at times for soups, but still had a tendency to grab the easy canned variety when assembling dips, snacks or quick dinners. This Sunday I decided to tackle (with helpful hints from my boss Kristal) making a pot of beans that would serve as my lunch for the entire week. I bought a 4 lb bag of pinto beans (for $3.18) and put about ¾ (so I’m assuming around 3 lbs) of it into my slow cooker (no pre-soaking or boiling, I’d always thought this was a requirement, but Kristal assured me that she does it without this step… fine by me, the less steps the better!). Then I covered the beans with water, added a chopped yellow onion, 4 large minced cloves of garlic, a can of generic Rotel, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons cumin. I set the pot on high for the first 5 hours and then cooked it on low until the beans were tender. We arrived home from church on Sunday to our home full of the aromas of Mexican cooking (to my delight, but to Jeremy’s dismay as all his clean laundry that was laying out was absorbing these strong odors). The beans turned out well in taste, color and texture, but I'll probably play with my recipe a little bit until I find exactly what works best for me. The only "fumble" that I made was I had no idea just how many beans I was cooking and how much they would expand. I started off with about 1/3 of my slow cooker full, but ended up with my entire 6- quart slow cooker filled to the brim with beans. This was obviously more than I could eat between lunch and dinner for the entire week so I threw some into a freezer bag to have on hand for chilis, or backup lunches and dinners. This weekend I'm hoping to branch out further with a pot a kidney beans or black beans and tweak the spices a bit. I'm thrilled to enjoy many more meals that are this inexpensive and low maintenance!

If anyone has any great bean recipes or flavor combinations please share!

What's your favorite way to eat and/ or cook with beans?


Monday, February 2, 2009

Game day food and a recipe gone vegan

Here are the recipes for some of our favorite snacks, the ones Jeremy requested I make for us to bring to a friends house to watch the Super Bowl.

Carolina Caviar

We like this best when served with Scoops chips to form a pocket for the ingredients.

-2 (14.5 oz) cans of black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 cup or a half bottle light or fat free Italian salad dressing
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1/2 of 2 or 3 different colored peppers (I recommend a variety or green, red, yellow and/ or orange), diced
-¼ to ½ of a bunch of cilantro (as sold in the store) washed, pulled of the stems and minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill for at least an hour before serving.


-4 avacados, sliced in half, then sliced into small cubes (while skin is attached) and removed from skin with a spoon
-2 roma romatoes (or 1 medium to large tomato), seeded and chopped
-½ red onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic minced
-salt and pepper to taste (up to 1 teaspoon of each)
-a couple drops hot sauce
-chopped fresh cilantro
-the juice of 1-2 limes

Combine all ingredients in bowl, stir and serve immediately. Keep the pit of one of the avacados in the bowl if the dip will remain out for a while, or if it will be refrigerated (this helps keep it from turning brown).

7 Layer Dip

Layer your favorite ingredients. In this one I did refried beans on the bottom, sour cream, the homemade guacamole, salsa, cheese, cilantro and sliced jalepenos. You can add scallions, chopped tomatoes, black olives, or your favorite Mexican sides. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy.

Chickpea, Spinach and Whole Wheat Pasta

I adapted this from the Chickpea, Bacon, and Spinach Pasta on Kate's blog. I made Jeremy pork chops for dinner and served him this as a side while I enjoyed this as my main dish on Saturday. I also doubled the recipe and still had leftovers to enjoy for lunch Sunday and today.

-1 onion, thinly sliced
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 t. red pepper flakes
-1 t. cumin
-1/2 t. black pepper
1 c. dried chickpeas, soaked and fully cooked (or 1 or 2 cans chickpeas, I'm not sure of the equivalent)
-1/2 bag frozen chopped spinach (or 4 c. fresh spinach)
-2 T. red wine vinegar
-1/2 c. veggie broth
-1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta (I used rotini because that's Jeremy's favorite, but I would have preferred the spaghetti that Kate used in her recipe)

1. Heat a small amount of olive oil in large pan, add onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin & black pepper. Cook until onions are tender.

2. Add chickpeas and spinach and cook for 5 minutes, until heated through. (At this point, you could stop and have a wonderful side dish

3. Stir in the red wine vinegar and veggie broth. Bring to a low boil and let simmer until the stock begins to thicken a little. Add pasta and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.