Hell0, 2017!

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I have a love/hate relationship with midnight, New Year’s Eve. I appreciate the opportunity to turn a new leaf, but I am very nostalgic, so I always cry as we bid farewell to another year. One year, Andrew and I took a getaway over New Year’s with two couples. While the other five were drinking sparkling cider and watching fireworks from the balcony, I was sitting inside with tears streaming down my face. It’s become a big joke…my friend Brittney always texts me to ask how my annual cry was. ;)

This year, I missed the countdown. My hubby was in bed and I was in the dark living room feeding my baby. I felt contented and peaceful as I looked at the clock and realized it was midnight, 2017. I didn’t cry.

I’ve come a long way in the past year. When I reflect on where I was at as of January 1, 2016, I am thrilled to see tangible ways that God changed and grew me. If I had to pick one word to describe my 2016 “journey” it would have to be “trust”. I continued down the path of learning to give my mommy anxiety to God and let Him care for my little ones. I gave our future job/ministry plans to God as we waited for Him to open doors. I let go of stressing about when God would give us another baby. Over and over, God met our needs and gave us answers, sometimes to questions we hadn’t even thought to ask. He showed me repeatedly that trusting Him is always best, and He is always faithful. I am so grateful for the work He did in me, through pain and through joy, and I look forward to 2017 with great anticipation for what He will accomplish!

In some ways, with the excitement of a new baby and Andrew’s completion of seminary, the New Year caught me off guard. So I’m behind on goals and plans. But here are a few scattered ones I’ve been mulling over for awhile. These are mostly practical/tangible. There are also many other ways I am asking God to grow me in godliness and Christlikeness this year.

I am purposing NOT to push through the days and “just try to make it” to crib time or bed time or Daddy getting home. All the frustrations and accidents and challenges that happen on our way to those times of respite are what these little years are made of. How can I wish them away?? I want to be very present and to enjoy my children even when it is hard to see past the spilled juice and the meltdowns and the blowouts. These sweet little souls will only be little for so long and I will choose to embrace this season, each part of it!

I hope to grow in my prayer life, to sieze many small opportunities to commune with God throughout my day. I have grown in being faithful to actually pray for people when I say I will, and I desire to be even more consistent in this and remember to check in with those I am lifting up.

I will seek to grow in having a “helper mindset” toward Andrew. To be flexible and adaptable, eager to free him up for ministry to others. I was dependedent on him so much last year when I was in the throes of pregnancy sickness, and I am excited to use my good health and energy this year to better serve and help him fulfill his callings. I want to be a gracious and humble wife, with low expectations.

I desire to train our children with their salvation and love for the gospel in mind. To correct for the purpose of showing them their need for Christ and His perfect fulfillment of that need, rather than for the purpose of making my life easier, making me look good, etc. I want to train them unselfishly with true, biblical love, and to be consistent and not lazy in my correction.

I will take consistent preventative measures to build up our immune systems as best we can, while knowing that God alone oversees our health. I did some research over the past few months and with Andrew’s permission, picked a few realistic things to create our new daily supplements “regimen”. They are a good probiotic (I’ll be rotating which one we take every few weeks), vitamin C, and cod liver/fish oil. I also just bought elderberries to make elderberry syrup, and we have almost entirely cut refined sugar from Caleb’s diet. I am still taking my prenatal vitamins, magnesium, and a large dose of Vitamin D daily, per my midwife. I hope these efforts help us achieve a healthier year, but I know that God is in charge of whether or not we get sick.

I hope to read six books. I hope I read more, but I figured I’d start with a super realistic goal and go from there. ;)

These are a few of my random goals for 2017, what’s left of it now that we’re in February. :) What are you working toward?

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{Homemaking Journal} New Spring Recipes

Five months into this whole mommy thing, I’m still loving the extra time I have to cook proper, delicious meals for my little family. Granted, this week included two nights back-to-back where I got precisely nothing on the table due to completely packed apartment days, but under average circumstances, I have the time and the energy to put yummy food in front of my hubby each night and I love it! Here are a few favorite new recipes from recent weeks. Please pardon the language in one of these blog URLs. It’s an unfortunate blog title but the food is scrumptious! My new favorite cooking blog for sure.

As always, I made numerous changes to these fine recipes…including altering them to be gluten free. Sorry for the poor photo of the Bang Bang Chicken! I always forget to get my Nikon out after I’m done cooking. =)

Trader Joe’s Spaghetti Squash Carbonara – I personally loved this more than the Cheesecake Factory version. To die for!

Cheesy Enchilada Rice Skillet – Nothing earth-shattering flavor-wise, but SO easy.

bangbangchickenBang Bang Chicken – I’ve made this twice already! DELICIOUS! Worth the fuss!

Cauliflower Chowder – I’m honestly not a big fan of cauliflower, but I absolutely loved this soup. And it was sooooo simple.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Panini – These satisfy that occasional and obsessive craving for something toasted with cheese.

{Homemaking Journal} Favorite New GF Dinner Recipes

I am loving this new season of life, with the bulk of my time and energy being devoted to home life! Andrew and I are still apartment managers, but because we currently have no vacancies, that job is only requiring a few hours a week on average. I am also back to reading books and writing reviews four hours a week, another fun job that I can cater to my schedule. With this new schedule, I have enjoyed getting to put more energy into cooking and trying new recipes! Here are a few recent favorites, all gluten free. My disclaimer is that I rarely follow a recipe and often toss instead of measure. Also, I add minced garlic or garlic powder to nearly everything I cook. =)

Honey Balsamic Meatballs – I love that these meatballs use cooked quinoa instead of bread crumbs. They were really easy to make and tasted great with brown rice.

image1Kale Caesar Salad With Crispy Garbanzo Bean Croutons – A friend made this at a recent baby shower and I couldn’t wait to try it myself. The homemade dressing is to die for! Making the “croutons” is a bit time intensive. I might opt to skip them next time, although they do add a lovely crunch.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken – Sadly, another delicious recipe that has sugar. But it can’t kill you once in awhile, can it? I’d actually like to try subbing honey and see what happens. This is in the oven right now…Andrew immediately requested a repeat when we enjoyed it last week.

IMG_4669Southwest Salad – I recently learned that this kind of salad is one of Andrew’s favorites. I cheated and started with store-bought Ranch dressing, then threw in chili powder, cayenne, etc. And I used corn chips from Trader Joe’s instead of making my own.

Chuck Roast With Balsamic and Dijon – Except I didn’t use dijon, I used regular mustard, as I always do. This was delicious.

Tasty Chicken Hot Pot – This came out a little bland, but was better after some Frank’s hot sauce. I’m still saving it because it’s fast, simple, and doesn’t require unusual ingredients. We ate it over brown rice.

{Recipe} Homemade Bean, Rice, & Cheese Freezer Burritos

dsc_0099This is a repost of a “recipe” I make for Andrew with some changes I implemented this past time.

Andrew loves frozen bean and cheese burritos. He could eat them pretty much every day for lunch. So a couple of years ago, I decided to try making them myself to save money and add some nutrition.

Each time I’ve made them I’ve tried revisions. This weekend, I cooked a bunch of pinto beans and black beans on high in a crock pot for about six hours until soft through. Without rinsing or draining them, I used a slotted spoon to add them and some of the liquid to my Ninja Professional Blender. I threw in a bunch of Pace Picante Sauce (any salsa will do) from Costco. Then I dumped in a generous portion of salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper flakes and blended. Wa-la. Refried beans that taste awesome and are actually good for you!

The amounts of all the spices and salsa are entirely to-taste. You can’t really go wrong. These were the most flavorful refried beans I’ve made yet and I loved the pinto/black bean combination.

I slather the beans onto large tortillas, add handfuls of cooked brown rice, top it all off with grated Mexican blend cheese, and roll them up. They’re all happily packaged in foil and stacked in ziplock freezer bags ready for consumption. Hooray!

 

As a recap, here’s what you’ll need: 

  • A bunch of pinto and/or black beans that are cooked until they’re soft
  • Any kind(s) of salsa you like
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cooked white or brown rice
  • Grated cheese
  • A blender
  • Tortillas
  • Tin foil
  • Ziplock bags

{Recipe} Copycat King Mahalo – Chipotle BBQ Chicken Sandwich

imageDo you live in the Pacific Northwest? Have you ever dined on the King Mahalo Sandwich at Coconut Kenny’s? No? Then you are not experiencing everything that the PNW has to offer. It is literally the world’s best sandwich. But I have good news. You can make this fabulous item right in your very own kitchen, and it comes mighty close to being every bit as mouth-wateringly delicious as Coconut Kenny’s original.

First, to give credit where credit is due. I started with this recipe and then made a number of adjustments. My version, which is closer to Coconut Kenny’s, is below. (I used a gluten free bagel for mine, but I am sure Andrew’s was tastier on a hot dog bun.) I also didn’t measure anything, but below is approximately what I did. Note: omit the chipotle pepper if you don’t like spicy!

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (thighs will be the moistest)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
A bunch of fresh cilantro
Sliced cheddar cheese (enough to cover each sandwich)
Mayonnaise
6 hot dog buns

1. Mix chicken, pepper, and barbecue sauce in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until warm.
2. Mix in red onion and crushed pineapple. Leave warming on the stove.
3. Spread mayonnaise on hot dog buns and broil until toasted.
4. Add cheddar cheese slices to one or both sides of the buns and broil until melted.
5. Spread chicken mixture onto sandwich.
6. Top with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

{Reading Report} Glimpses of Grace

glimpses-of-grace_1As I ate up the reasonably sized chapters in this book by Gloria Furman, I was happy to find a balanced view of salvation and its affects on our thoughts, motives, and behavior as Christian women. Glimpses of Grace offers theologically sound but practically helpful counsel for cherishing Jesus, Who He is, and His beautiful gospel in the midst of the mundane moments that a woman’s life is made up of.

The balance of this book is clear throughout, including in the following quote from Chapter 3:

I believe it is helpful and necessary to retreat to quiet places to pray and read God’s Word. But silence is not necessary for you to have a vibrant relationship with God. your spiritaul life is not restricted to early mornings before the noisemakers in your life wake up. If you feel that God meets with you only when the house is empty or quiet, you’ll view every noise and every noisemaker as an annoying distraction to your communion with God.

Here we see the well-rounded philosophy that it is helpful and even necessary to retreat to quiet places for quality time with God. Yet if we legalistically believe that we can only commune with Him in that setting, we are opening ourselves up for a lot of unnecessary frustration and wrong reactions to the interruptions He has ordained.

One of my favorite things about this read was Mrs. Furman’s emphasis on the Person of Jesus Christ as our object of contentment. I’ve realized in recent months how easy it is to think I’m content because I’m choosing to enjoy my housework, my job, and the other mundane pieces of life. That’s great, but I really need to take it a step further. Mrs. Furman explains,

Surely these things–a cheerful attitude and sense of hopefulness–are wonderful by-products of rejoicing in God while in the midst of our homes. But that’s just what they are–by-products. The source of our faith, hope, love, joy, and gospel-grounded optimism is God Himself and not our stuff or our circumstances.

I also love the connection drawn between dwelling on Jesus and becoming like Him.

We study Christ because we’ve been saved for the purpose of being transformed into His image, and in our beholding, the work of transformation occurs.

In terms of practicality, Chapter 7 “All Grace and All Sufficieny for Every Dinner Guest” was my favorite. Serving through hospitality must, like everything in our lives, must be done out of a deep-rooted love for Jesus. I’m sure every woman can relate to the fear of man that is shown in letting earning the satisfaction and admiration of our dinner guests become an idol as we prepare to open our homes.

When we serve with the strength God supplies instead of from our own energies or motivation, we can serve with cheerfulness to the praise of His glory. We don’t have to be embittered martyrs on the altar of hospitality.

Quite possibly my favorite quote from the book is also in Chapter 7:

When grief over our sin and thankfulness for the gift of grace meet together at the cross, a powerful work of transformation occurs in our hearts.

I hope these few quotes whet your appetite enough to compel you to pick up Glimpses of Grace. As a young wife looking ahead to, Lord-willing, many years of serving primarily from my home, the truth and encouragement Mrs. Furman had to share rang true in my heart when held up against Scripture. Her sense of humor and realism kept the book light and enjoyable, and her illustrations and real-life examples skillfully brought heady theology down to a practical level, while not trivializing the magnitude of the Cross. I believe this is a book I will return to in years to come as I fight carnal thinking in the mundane moments of life, and I highly recommend it to any woman seeking to love Jesus through her day-in, day-out routine.

Flourless Chocolate Cake: My Company Go-To

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I have to share this absolutely fabulous recipe. I got it from my friend, Meg, about a year ago and I’ve made it multiple times since for company or to take to friends’ houses. It’s by far the most easy and delicious gluten free treat I’ve made. Plus, it’s really fun to concoct. I love the separating of the eggs, the beating of the whites, and the folding in at the end. I feel like I’m on Master Chef, and yet it’s so simple! The cake comes out fudgy, airy, and chocolatey–but not too rich, as most flourless cakes I’ve eaten. Since I make no changes to the original, I direct you to Martha Stewart for this fabulous recipe. The photo in this post is from the middle of enjoying the cake with friends last night. Enjoy!