JOIN ME: 31 Days of Soaking Dry Bones

Cracked clay landscape in the Atacama desert.

Today I’m doing something quite crazy in my mind… I’m committing myself to a 31 day experiment.

When I left for the retreat last week, I need to tell you the truth: I was OVER it. I was over cleaning, and serving, and volunteering, and washing, and doing, and answering, and feeling like a puppet. I was over being exhausted, lonely, and feeling overlooked. I was dried up on the inside and dying (praying!) for the time away to light me up.

As I shared with you yesterday, the time away did renew me. The hard part about that, though, is that it didn’t renew me only because it was all fun and roses. (Sometimes we think fun will solve all of our problems, don’t we?) No – the deeper reason I came back renewed is because I did something I had been struggling not to do: face the Truth my hard heart was the reason for my exhaustion. As we opened the Word and shared our stories with one another, minute by minute, brick by brick the wall of bitterness separating me from the Truth came down until, all at once, I saw clearly: I wasn’t doing what I was called to do.

I am called to be a servant – that’s just what it is. I am married, I have babies, we have a life that requires my 100%… yet, I had stopped seeing it as a get to and turned it into a ‘got-to’. I had been running from “servant”, fighting against “servant”, hating the word “servant”… yet, on the very last day of our time together, one of the sweet gals handed me a printed word and said, “I’ve been praying for you… and as I prayed I asked the Lord for a word to share with you. He gave me this word…”

I reached out – excited to see “powerful”, “leader”, “strong”, “courageous”… yet, you know what she handed me?

SERVANT.

I didn’t know what to say in that second (especially since disappointment was coming on fast like a tidal wave), so thank God she continued. “… and here’s the verse this word for you flows from. I held back the tidal wave, looked her in the eyes, and she read to me Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”

I wept. Like, I couldn’t hold it back kinda cry. It was like Jesus has stepped down from heaven in the form of my sweet sister, grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “SERVANT – LEARN FROM ME. SERVE LIKE I’M ASKING YOU TO AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOUL.”

It was a life-changing moment… that moment standing by Priest Lake with Jesus and Truth.

Now that I’m back, the challenge begins. Change doesn’t just happen – we have to MOVE in the direction we want to go in. And, me? I want to go in the direction of green pastures, still waters, and joy in the day-to-day of my actual, everyday, very real life. It’s where He’s calling me – to learn what SERVANT looks like so that I can life free, and full, and bright like He did when He walked this earth.

Studies show that the best learning happens when we engage ALL senses. This means for the next 31 days…

Here’s the plan:

Each day I will wake up with a new Truth to meditate on; a Truth that will help me get my focus off me and back on Him. I will read it with my eyes, speak it with my mouth (2 senses)… and then I’ll also assign myself an activity for the day that will reinforce what I’m meditating on (hopefully engaging touch, taste, smell).

I don’t know how this is gonna work – I’m literally thinking of it as I go and praying for inspiration. All I know is this: in the valley of dry bones, the only thing that can bring life, and form, and wholeness back is His Spirit pouring into us.

This is where I’m at… with dry bones that need a good, long soak.

What do you say… join me?

If so, come on over to Facebook and Instagram where I’ll be posting my daily verses and activities. Also, please tell me: what sucks the life out of your bones? Hearing what you have to say will be great inspiration for where to focus this journey. We’re in this together, you know – and I’d love to walk hand in hand as we pursue His heart.

The Door Is Open

IMG_1469
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Matthew 7:7

Several months ago in late spring, right in the middle of closing on our new house and anticipating the new life we were jumping into, an invitation arrived in the mail.

It was an invitation that came unexpectedly… from a woman I had never met personally… and invited me to join a group of other women from across the country that I had no personal knowledge or connection to.

The funny thing, though, is that in my quiet times before the Lord, I had been praying – PRAYING – with tears for help. My spirit and creativity were drying up; I had been feeling lonely in my writing, wandering in my work, questioning my calling. Even though everything on the outside said “good” and “put together”, my insides were a mess.

Father, please,” I had asked Him… “Please place someone in my life that understands this place that I’m in – someone who can help me discern what you’re calling me to do with all You’re faithfully giving to me.” Days upon days went by – and soon weeks of this prayer, always the same: “Father, I know you see me. I need you – I need your guidance to calm me in this storm of confusion, and to focus me on using my gifts and talents for YOUR work.”

Then… He showed up in an invitation to The Open Door.

I chuckled to myself as I read the invite thinking, “Lord, I asked for someone… are you serious? You’re giving me an entire GROUP??”

I continued to read and when I got to the themed verse of the entire event, He whispered through it, “Yes, sweet girl. I’m giving you an entire group, and here is My purpose: that, when you walk through this open door, YOU WILL KNOW MY POWER, together with all of My people, and be able to grasp how WIDE and LONG and HIGH and DEEP My love for you is, and that My abundant love surpasses all knowledge.”

Fast forward. Priest Lake. Food. Prayer. Laughter. Wine. Song. Women I came to adore within seconds of meeting them. We opened our hearts, shared our visions, spilled our souls – and, in our vulnerability, Jesus met us. Through our talks He cast new light on our old stories; He softened hard places as we realized we are not alone in our struggles; He filled up the places that came empty; He took the baggage we were afraid to let go of; and, He inspired us to keep moving.

So, while I’ve tried to figure out how to tell you all about it, the truth is this: I just can’t. There simply aren’t enough words that would do the experience justice. What I can tell you, however, is this: when we seek Him, we find Him. Period.

As He called me to the shores of Priest Lake, He used the time away to remind me that when we pursue Him, He brings us to sweet places. Yes, we must be willing to call and seek and search…but, more importantly, we must also be willing to let him say things to us that are hard to hear. We must be willing to let Him tell us we’ve been (or are being) prideful, or selfish, or mean… we must be willing to hear it’s us that needs to change, not the one we’re pointing at… we must be willing to be humble and broken so that He can fill in the gaps… and, we must be willing to do the hard things He asks of us – things like serve, forgive, trust, honor, hope, seek peace, lead with love, stop going our own way.

He’s calling our hearts, people. HIS DOOR IS OPEN. I’m telling you this because, here I am, 42 years old and ‘pulled together’ – yet I am human. From a past of brokenness. Prone to pride, anger, and bitterness. Not always happy to serve. Insecure, unsure, and longing for hope. The more diligently I seek Him, however, I more see Him… and when I see Him – like I did so mightily in the presence of the 11 beautiful women who started as strangers – I am able to take a deep breath, throw off everything hindering and entangling my spirit, and continue to run with perseverance this race marked He’s marked out for me.

You may not have a retreat you’re about to go on, but can I just encourage you today to seek right where you are? If you are discouraged, or exhausted, or questioning, or lonely, HE CAME TO SAVE AND HIS DOOR – AND HIS ARMS – ARE OPEN.

You are loved… adored… desired… valuable… needed. If I can pray for you in a specific way, please let me know – I would so love to come alongside you as you seek Him.

I’m blessed you’re here with me.

PRAYER: Father, while I thank you for the mountaintop experience You have brought me through, I pray for anyone reading who is longing to see you, not as the world portrays you, but in Spirit and Truth. May Your light shine bright in this dark world… and, as we seek, show yourself faithful and true to the brokenhearted. Thank you for how You love us unconditionally – and how, because of your Son’s willing sacrifice, we can have HOPE and HEALING. Thank you for who you are: unchanging, faithful, and true. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

How to Make A Tasty Quinoa Smoothie… and ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

DSC04495

Now that the kids are back in school, our schedules have returned, and we’ve paused the home remodeling projects, normalcy has returned to my days.

My day starts between 5:58-6:15 when our kitty, Daisy, starts meowing at my bedroom door for her breakfast. (Literally, EVERY SINGLE MORNING; she’s my alarm clock.)

I feed Daisy, put the coffee on, wake up kiddos, and get to making lunches.  If I’m making a hot breakfast, I get that started… and, then, by 7am, kids are bellying up to the counter ready for their sustenance.

By 7:15 I’ve prepared three lunches (sometimes four if my man needs one), fed five mouths, cleaned the kitchen, found lost clothing items, typically put a load of laundry in, mediated a minimum of three disagreements, and stolen a few moments to get dressed and pull myself together.

I’ve promised myself that this will be the year I get back to the gym on a regular basis. The summer really took a toll on me with the move and the remodel…. and getting everyone back on a schedule means it’s time I get myself back together. Mentally. Spiritually. Physically.

One of the things I’ve been re-incorporating into my day is a morning smoothie. My whole life I’ve been a smoothie girl – actually a “protein shake” girl… wayyyyy before Jamba Juice ever made smoothies a thing. When my dad had his gym in Oakland, he opened the first juice bar of its kind, offering simple protein shakes made with protein powder, apple juice, a banana, and ice. Then, when we moved to Guam and I ran the front desk of his gym there, I became the “Smoothie Queen” of the gym and made protein shakes for the bodybuilders all through my high school years. So, when I talk smoothies, know this: I take my smoothies seriously.

The way I make smoothies these days, however, is a little different. Instead of apple juice (which is too much concentrated sugar), I use water or coconut milk; and, no matter what fruit I use, I always add in small handful of baby spinach and 1 heaping tablespoon of something else I’ve come to appreciate, raw coconut oil. Finally, while I still love regular protein powder, I’ve also come to enjoy using something you might have never imagined would be good in a smoothie: quinoa flakes.

Yes, QUINOA FLAKES.

51+eq2PlBHL

Quinoa flakes are typically used in baking, or for instant breakfast cereal or thickening soups. (I used quinoa flakes when I developed my SmartyBars, too.) Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the texture of flakes when they’re cooked alone (they get too mushy for my tastes), but I love the nutty flavor they add to my shakes. (And, you know me: I simply love quinoa in everything.)

Here’s the recipe I’m drinking these days for my mid-morning snack:

DSC04493

DSC04490

(makes 16 ounce serving)
1/2 cup of frozen fruit (I prefer frozen berries or frozen pineapple)
1/2 banana (add sweetness and thickens)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup (more or less) of water
1 small handful of spinach
1/3 cup of Green Quinoa Organic Royal Quinoa Flakes
1 TBSP of raw coconut oil (you can also add 1/4 cup of avocado – YUM!)
1/4 cup of ice

Layer your ingredients into your blender

DSC04501

Add 1/3 cup coconut milk

DSC04504

DSC04505

DSC04506

DSC04509

This recipe has protein, fiber, iron, and lots and lots of other good nutrients that help me feel satiated, bright, and energized… all the things I need to feel as I kick start my days.

GIVEAWAY:

Tell me your favorite smoothie recipe in the comments below and I’ll choose ONE random winner to receive a box of the Organic Royal Quinoa Flakes I use in my smoothies!

Ready… set… POST AWAY!

(This post is sponsored by Green Quinoa and giveaway prize is provided by Green Quinoa… but recipe and comments are my own 🙂 Comments for this giveaway will close at 6pm PST on Sunday, September 27th, and one winner will be announced on my Facebook page on Monday at 9am PST.)

ENTER TO WIN: Reclaiming Home, A Book By My Friend Krista Gilbert

IMG_1240

Today I’m joining in celebration with my friend Krista over at Meaning In A Minute. It’s the official day of her book launch… and peeps, let me tell you: this is a book I encourage every crazy busy mama out there will buy, read, and savor.

Krista sent me an early copy of her book several weeks ago – just as we were settling into our new house. It arrived in an oversized hand-addressed envelope; I wasn’t expecting anything and I must say: I was pretty giddy thinking something good may be hiding inside. As I reached in and pulled out the goodies, I was in awe by what I was holding: a handwritten note, her book, glittery things, an encouraging calendar… it was like an envelope of love and I could feel Krista’s sweetness pouring into my frazzled and overwhelmed spirit.

“Reclaiming Home: A Family’s Guide for Life, Love & Legacy” on the front… and, on the back the truth of my life in that very moment: “Are you watching as your family spins out of control?”

IMG_1241

Yes. There it was. My truth in a headline.

Krista’s care package met me right where I was. Wires hanging from the ceiling where fixtures should be; kids bickering; groceries waiting to be unloaded; laundry taunting me from the other room; long, long lists of ‘to-dos’ I had to do to get us settled into our new space; and, an overwhelmed heart from recognizing this fact: I only have four more years with my oldest girl before she’s on her own and my day-to-day with her is gone.

Our move was more disruptive than I could have ever imagined – and, honestly, the first weeks after moving in I was filled with anxious thoughts. How the heck do I reign our lives back in and get things back in order? What can I do to get technology use under control – the devices have taken over?! How do I bring joy and peace and connection and play back into our seriously ‘busied’ family… and, Lord, show me how to fill our home with so much love and warmth so that, while my kids my leave someday, they will always long to come home?

I was praying for wisdom… praying for clarity… praying for practical advice. Then, out of the blue, Krista showed up on my doorstep and invited me to do what I was struggling to do: RECLAIM MY HOME.

THIS BOOK IS ANSWER TO MY PRAYERS.

Just check out the titles of her chapters:

Reclaiming Your Foundation
Reclaiming Time
Reclaiming Ordinary
Reclaiming Marriage
Reclaiming Childhood
Reclaiming Play
Reclaiming Imperfection
Reclaiming the Table
Reclaiming Traditions
Reclaiming Legacy
Reclaiming Faith

At the end of each chapter Krista has little checklists, worksheets, dares (the dares are awesome)… all kinds of things that have helped me pause, intentionally think through specifics of my situation, and be encouraged in the midst of the crazy, busy season our family is in right now.

IMG_1239

There’s so much I could tell you about it… so many nuggets of wisdom I could share. But, instead of being long winded, and because Krista is so dang cool, I figured I wouldn’t just tell you about it – instead, Krista said I could give you a chance to WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY.

All you have to do to enter is this: leave a comment to this post stating the ONE chapter from the chapter list above that is speaking loudest to you. That’s it!  (I also hope you’ll subscribe to my blog in the sidebar… but I won’t make it a requirement for winning 🙂 )

I’ll announce THREE random winners on my Facebook  Page this Friday, September 18th, at 12pm PST. So, after you leave a comment, be sure you follow me on Facebook so you’ll know if you’ve won!

Ok, now go for it. I really want to give you a copy… it will bless your socks off.

YOU CAN DO IT: Chocolate & Coconut Black Quinoa Pudding

IMG_1096

Today my last little bird flew from the nest and into 3rd grade… which means a new school year has officially started for our family. Early mornings, carpool afternoons, sports, homework, and, hopefully, breathing room for my brain so that I can finally feel the freedom to get stuff done.

As I sit here in my quiet house, there are little piles of life all over the place – and I’m excited. Today begins the work of getting back to life. Bills to pay. House finishing to do. Pictures still waiting to be hung, and laundry waiting to be washed. Planning for the months to come. I feel the urge to nest – to hunker down, cozy up our half-finished house, and begin the process of welcoming Fall to settle in with us.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is getting back into a routine of cooking. I have to be honest: in the summertime, it’s grazing season. A quick salad. Slices of deli meat and cheese with some crackers. A steak on the BBQ with some roasted veggies. Meals happens… and don’t happen… and yet we all seem to make it through the hot, leisurely months satisfied.

With school back in order, however, food and life require more planning. I mean, with three kids and my man, I’m set to make over 640 lunches alone in the next 9 months. 640 lunches! Add in breakfasts and dinners, and I’m looking at potentially 1400 meals this year. (Ok – I’m tired.)

Flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to mealtime isn’t an option.

I also have to be really conscious of feeding myself well, too. While I’ll still grab and go on most days, I have to be prepared to have the right grab-and-go food available: a quinoa salad, some hardboiled eggs and a piece of fruit, greek yogurt with some quinola and fruit, or THIS:

IMG_1092

This is my chocolate and coconut quinoa “pudding”. When I was little, we used to eat a rice version of this pudding called “Champulado” – a Guamanian treat. Traditionally, champulado is made with white rice, sweetened condensed milk, refined sugar, and chocolate syrup. This version, however, is not only healthified with quinoa and free of refined sugars – the texture and taste is a thousand times better than what I grew up loving.

I’ve made this many times before and always used the regular white quinoa I can find in bulk. Green Quinoa, however, sent me a bunch of their black Royal quinoa and I WILL NEVER USE WHITE QUINOA FOR THIS DISH AGAIN.

IMG_1073

GQ’s black quinoa didn’t really ‘open’ when cooking – it softened. The texture of the quinoa in the finished pudding reminded me of what happens to chia seeds when they’re soaked in coconut milk – not mushy, and just enough of a crunch when you chew. (When I’ve made this with white quinoa the seeds always open normally… so, it’s interesting to me the black quinoa responded differently with the coconut milk/water mixture.)

Seriously: this is SO GOOD. So good hot and right out of the pot… and so good as a grab and go snack out of the fridge.

Here’s what you need:

1 box of GQ Royal Black Quinoa
1 14 ounce of coconut milk (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey

(Optional Add-Ins)
1-2 bananas
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

DIRECTIONS:

Place quinoa, coconut milk, water, and cacao in a high sided pot, then whisk the mixture until cacao powder is broken down. Add in the coconut and honey.

Bring pot to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Allow pudding to gently simmer for 25-30 minutes. (Every 10 minutes or so be sure to stir the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom while cooking.)

Turn off heat. DONE.

Now, you can eat the pudding right away as a warm porridge for breakfast (the way we always ate champulado). I love topping mine with fresh fresh sliced banana and grated ginger…

IMG_1090 IMG_1107 IMG_1098

Or, you can gently mix the sliced bananas and ginger directly into the pot, stir, and then portion the pudding out into individual storage containers, like this:

IMG_1108

I do both… and then, when I need a grab and go meal, I have one ready to go. (I’m eating one of my pre-portioned puddings out of the fridge as I write this 🙂 )

I’d love to know some of your tips for getting off on the right foot with food now that kids are back in school. Do you have any tips or recipes you want to share? One thing I know for sure: it takes a village… and WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.

Thanks for reading – and thanks to Green Quinoa for sponsoring this post! Find them on Facebook and Instagram.

YOU CAN DO IT: Bone Broth Chicken Quinoa Soup

DSC04482
This is a sponsored post paid for by Green Quinoa, but you know how I LOVE quinoa – and the recipe, thoughts, and opinions are all my own. Connect with Green Quinoa on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

I’m a big believer that a mom has two best friends in the kitchen: quinoa and a rotisserie chicken. If you have one, or the other, you’re minutes away from a powerhouse meal. Now, if you have BOTH on hand, you’re really set up for greatness.

Today I want to do two things:
1) Introduce you to 100% Bolivian quinoa brand – Green Quinoa. All their products are made from 100% organic Bolivian quinoa (aka “Royal Quinoa”) – and BOLIVIAN ROYAL QUINOA is the best quinoa in the world. It’s the largest, fluffiest, nuttiest tasting, and most nutritious variety… PLUS, since Green Quinoa traces their quinoa batches from farm to shelf, you can be confident it’s clean (meaning you don’t have to rinse it) and free of pesticides and contaminants.

2) Show you how to get another meal out of a rotisserie chicken you may think has nothing left to offer. When I buy a rotisserie chicken, I typically debone the breasts and thighs and use that for dinner #1.  What you may not know, however, is that with just a little more effort and a few additional ingredients, you can turn that almost fully deboned chicken into bone broth chicken quinoa soup… and, if you’re not familiar with bone broth, know this: it’s amazingly healthy.

INGREDIENTS:
leftover rotisserie chicken
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
3 medium carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1/4 cup of finely diced parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 box of GQ brand mixed grain Royal Quinoa
1 TBSP sea salt
1 TBSP black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce

PROCESS:
Add 10 cups of water to a stock pot with the apple cider vinegar. Then, remove as much skin as you can from the chicken and place the entire chicken into the pot of water. (NOTE: be sure you add in all the gelatinous goodness that settles in the bottom of the rotisserie chicken tray and collects around the chicken skin you’re discarding. It’s full of flavor and nutrients that were cooked out of the chicken on the first cook – so, use it!)

DSC04411

DSC04408

Bring the bones to a rapid boil, then turn down heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour on medium heat. (While the bones simmer, this is where you can get another load of laundry in, help with homework, and prep your soup ingredients. 🙂 )

While the soup is boiling, prep the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and parsley (the parsley didn’t make it into my picture):

DSC04464

…dicing them all up like this:

DSC04478

Once your bones are boiled down, they should literally fall apart as you go to remove them from the water. So, using a slotted spoon, remove the bones from the pot and onto a plate.

DSC04471 What will be left in the pot is this golden goodness – your bone broth:

DSC04469 Using a pair of tongs, or a fork, or even your fingers, remove all the chicken you can from the bones. You’ll be shocked at how much meat was still left! Look at mine – when making the soup for this post I was able to get close to two full cups of beautiful chicken off my bones:

DSC04472

DSC04473

At this point you can toss the bones in the trash, put all your veggies and the chicken back into the pot…and, this is where the quinoa comes in:

DSC04481

One box of GQ mixed grain quinoa is about 2 cups of dry. I wanted a thick soup, so I added the whole box of dry grain into the pot. (If you want your soup less thick, add less dry quinoa.)

Add your sea salt, black pepper, and soy sauce. Bring the soup to a rapid boil reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 15-18 minutes – just long enough for the quinoa to cook.

When the soup is done, this is what you’ll have:

DSC04484

DSC04485

DSC04482
Isn’t it amazing how leftover bones you’d probably be tempted to throw away have the potential to become this stunningly beautiful, flavorful, and healthy bone broth chicken quinoa soup?

My man goes nuts for this soup, as do my kids. They always tell me it’s just like something from the Whole Foods soup bar – but even better… and, it’s true.

With Fall upon us, I hope you’ll remember this simple recipe and give it a try… and then come back and tell me about it!

YOU CAN DO IT: Strawberry Ricotta French Galettes

DSC04393

After months of being consumed by remodeling, moving, unpacking, and purging, all of a sudden I woke up and the truth hit me: I have a child starting 7th grade, one starting high school, and my baby going into 3rd grade next week; the big Labor Day camping adventure we do with six other families every year is THIS weekend, our 17th wedding anniversary is coming up on the 5th; and, yes, SUMMER IS OVER.

Wow. Three months gone. Just. Like. That.

While summer started with us packing up and moving out of the rental we were in for two years, it’s ending with us officially in our new house – yippee! It’s the smallest house we’ve lived in as a family (we left 3800 sq feet in suburbia three years ago and now live in just about 2100 sq feet), yet it’s also the happiest, most comfortable house we’ve ever lived in. Soooo much work went into getting it ready for our July 1st move in: tearing down walls, a new beam, electrical work, floor installation and refinishing, painting, carpeting… and, even though we’re in, there’s still lots and lots of work to complete. But, WE ARE HOME – and we are blessed we now have a place to root our hearts and watch our kids continue to grow.

One of the raddest parts of this remodel and move is that Frigidiare partnered up with me again! Yep! Revolocity Creative spearheaded the whole project and in just a few weeks our new kitchen campaign will launch. You’ll see the reveal of my kitchen before and after, tag along with me as I shopped for appliances, and then cook with me in the kitchen! I’ll share recipes, kitchen life hacks, and we’re even doing a recipe contest giveaway! So, follow meFrigidaire and Kraft Foods on Facebook and STAY TUNED!!

Something I want to share with you today, though, is this: my strawberry ricotta french galette.

DSC04395

It seems only appropriate as we say goodbye to summer and, soon, to fresh strawberries, that we mark the end with a little something special, no? Well, THIS is special… and it’s gonna thrill your taste buds to no end.

All it takes is this: a pint of fresh strawberries, some ricotta cheese, a little powdered sugar, and homemade pastry dough…

DSC04326

and then these simple ingredients for the finishing: an egg wash (take a room temp egg and beat it until smooth), a little sugar, and some fresh grated lemon zest.

DSC04341

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and make the dough. It’s the dough I used for my mango tart on Food Fighters, and the same dough I use for my hand pies and plated pies. This is the dough you need to know.

FOR TWO CRUSTS:
2.5 cups flour
2 regular sticks of salted butter
2 TBSP sugar
12-13 TBSP ice water

  • Add flour, butter, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Turn on for 10 seconds nonstop. Then, pulse and additional 5-8 times. The goal is for butter bits to be about a little larger than pea sized…. so don’t over process!
  • Drizzle a TBSP of water at a time through the top of the food processor and pulse for 1 second after each water addition.
  • Pour mixture from food processor bowl into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, squeeze the dough together until all of the mixture is stuck together. (NOTE: The dough should lean to the dry side. If it is too dry, wet your hands and continue to work dough until it adheres. If it is too sticky, add a tsp of flour at a time until the stickiness is gone.
  • Form two discs, wrap in plastic, and chill.

For a video tutorial on the dough, watch this:


Second, prepare your ricotta mixture.

  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup of powdered sugar

DSC04331

Place the two ingredients in a bowl together and stir until sugar is fully incorporated. Set aside.

Third, prepare your strawberries. Wash and dry them, and then slice them in thin slices. Be sure to keep the strawberries together, though – it will make for a prettier layout when you put the galette together. Set aside.

DSC04335

Fourth, roll out the pastry. Once your dough is chilled and ready to use, flour your surface, flour the disc, and get to rolling until you have a disc that’s bout 1/4″ thick.

DSC04332

Now, one of the things I love most about galettes is that they’re meant to look rustic. So, when you roll the crust out, remember that: it doesn’t need to be perfect.

DSC04334

Fifth, assemble the galette. With the rolled out pastry centered on your baking sheet, smear your sweetened ricotta cheese around the center (being sure to leave about 2″ between the ricotta and the edge of the crust).

DSC04336

Cover the ricotta with your strawberries, and then begin to fold the crust up over the edges of the strawberries….

DSC04338

DSC04337 until it looks like this:

DSC04339 Once you have the sides folded in, wash all of the exposed dough with your egg wash (it’s what helps the crust get nice and golden)…

DSC04346 Lightly sprinkle the entire tart with some sugar…

DSC04357 And then finish it off with a little fresh grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon worth)…

DSC04369

Once it’s ready to go, bake it in the oven for 15-18 minutes (or until golden brown)… and LOOK WHAT YOU’LL HAVE: pure deliciousness.

DSC04396

DSC04393

From start to finish, this is something you can get together in less than 30 minutes (if you already have the dough made)… AND, it’s something that will make whomever you serve feel your love 😉

Make it. Eat it. Come back and tell me about it. I’ve missed you… and, now that I have my brain back and I’m settled in, I promise I won’t be a stranger anymore. Thanks for sticking with me – thanks for reading.

TOMORROW: It’s quinoa time!! I’ll tell you what to do with a leftover rotisseri chicken and a box GQ Brand 100% Royal Tricolor Quinoa. It’s a fast, flavorful, crowd-pleasing meal you don’t want to miss.

Coffee Is Not My Friend

DSC04140
I think my coffee habit started when I was 5 years old. We were living in an apartment in San Leandro, California and, every morning, my nana would wake me for school with a little rub on my back and no words. I’d get dressed, rub the sleep from my eyes, and work my way down the staircase to my dad’s antique rocking chair – a chair with a dark oak frame, velvet cushions, and ornate lion heads made for a big man to grasp as he rocked away. I’d curl up into its massive frame and… wait.

The house was always dark and quiet. I never remember announcing to my nana I was in the chair, but she was always shortly behind my arrival with breakfast: toasted Roman Meal wheat bread with butter and strawberry jam, and a cup of coffee – extra carnation milk (it’s a Guamanian thing) and a bit of sugar. Sometimes there’d be a scrambled egg, but usually not. Toast and coffee was it – and then away I’d go for the two block walk to school.

So, when I tell you I love coffee, I LOVE coffee. Coffee is history to me. Coffee is quiet time with my nana… it’s feelings of peace… it’s comfort and place and simply part of me. I’m one of those people who, literally, dreams of my morning coffee as I’m going to sleep at night. I feel the warmth of the mug between my hands – I hear the sweet morning conversations that will carry over my cup.

Coffee + morning… there’s never been another way.

While we were going through the darkness with the house transaction, however, I found myself drinking more and more coffee than usual. Yes, I’d have it in the morning… but then I’d have it again about 10am, I’d grab another cup sometime mid-day, and (as crazy as this sounds), I even found myself making  a small pot while I made dinner at night!

Coffee… coffee… coffee. It was the easy go to, you know?

Something not right? Drink coffee!

Feeling a little tired? Drink coffee!

Wish you could crawl into bed and cry over all the stress? Drink coffee!

I was easily at 4 mugs of coffee a day – and, if a large mug is really 16-24 ounces (and a ‘cup’ is 8 ounces), that means I was drinking 8 cups of coffee a day. 8 CUPS OF COFFEE. (Gosh, just writing that makes me sick right now.)

Then, one day about four weeks ago, I was standing in the kitchen… exhausted. There were two Starbucks cups of coffee on my counter, both half-finished. I had run out to my car to grab something for one of the kids and, lo and behold, there was yet another take-out coffee cup in my cup holder. I grabbed it, took it into the house, and, as I stood at the sink pouring out the three half-drank cups, it hit me: Elisha, pull it together, girl.

It was in that moment I decided coffee and I needed a break. I was embarrassed to realize the habit that was taking over and surely contributing to my lack of energy and clarity. I had stopped appreciating what I loved and enjoyed because I had stopped being intentional… and, because I had stopped being intentional, coffee had stopped being my friend.

No longer was coffee my sweet morning companion, it was my bane. It was zapping my brain, taking my money, and giving me the most horrendous taste in my mouth at all hours of the day. I felt gross every night.

So, in that very moment, I made the change. Literally, I simply chose different – and, instead of making coffee, I made a pot of green ginger tea.

“It’s better for you”, I told myself. (Agh! But it’s not coffee!)

No, it’s wasn’t coffee – it wasn’t my love; but, it was pleasant. It was so light on my palate. The ginger was spicy, the honey gave me that bit of sweet I needed.

The next morning – it was an intentional decision again: tea over coffee.

And the next day… and the next day.

By the third day my man was asking for some of the tea instead of his coffee.

Fourth day, fifth day… a whole week went by. While I still woke up wanting coffee each morning, I’d say to myself, “Self-control, Elisha… drink the tea.” Moment by moment, day by day, it was a decision I made. If I was out and about where coffee was offered, I’d drink ice water. If I met girlfriends ‘for coffee’, I ordered tea. INTENTIONALLY I choose to say no to what I felt was zapping me – and, after I had suffered through four or five days without it, I wasn’t going to give in and make all that suffering for nothing, you know? (Remember: I LOVE COFFEE. So what I’m telling you was not easy – it took effort!)

To make a long story short, here I am: back in the light and about four weeks without coffee and, let me tell you: I FEEL AMAZING. I’m not dying for a cup of coffee the way I used to; and, as a matter of fact, I don’t even find myself really wanting it anymore. Truly. I feel brighter, I’m not tired in the afternoons, I don’t have that constant nasty taste in my mouth that coffee leaves. I’m not saying I’ll never drink coffee again. As a matter of fact, just yesterday I ordered a cappuccino while I was writing and it was really, really good… and I only had ONE.

What I am saying, however, is that what I learned in the dark is this: sometimes the things we think we need are really things we should do without. We can get into habits, or patterns, or whatever… and we can crave and desire because it’s just ‘who we are’ or ‘what we do’… and, when we add stress the mix, those ‘things’ can even seem like our very best friends! But the truth is this: “God does not make us timid, but gives us POWER, LOVE, and SELF-DISCIPLINE.”  GOD MADE US FREE PEOPLE – PEOPLE WITH POWER OVER OUR CHOICES. This means when we’re in the dark and we discover there’s something breaking us down instead of building us up, our God gives us the power to change it!

For me in this season, the ‘thing’ I needed to do without was my coffee crutch. And, thanks to the darkness I walked through with my Father before me, I was able to see I’m better off without it.

The conclusion? Coffee is not my friend… but self-control sure is. 🙂

Ginger tea anyone?

If so, here’s what you do:

In a high sided pot, add 2 cups of water, 2 green tea bags, 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for 2 minutes.
Add 1 tsp of honey and a bit of milk (if desired)
Pour into your favorite mug… ENJOY! (Oh, and don’t use a strainer! You really want the little ginger bits… they’re delicious.)

FYI: My favorite green tea is the one at Costco:

DSC04139

And, for the ginger: use the back of a spoon to scrape the skin off, then use a microplane (or other fine grater) to grate it:

DSC04146

(NOTE: Green tea alone is like a superfood in a cup… and then you add the benefits of fresh ginger and raw honey! Wowza! Seriously – you’ll feel a difference if you replace your coffee habit with this concoction. I’m walking proof.)

YOU CAN DO IT: Tangy Roasted Beet & Quinoa Spring Salad

We’ve owned the house for about a week now, but nothing major has started just yet. We had every intention of taking possession, starting demo and getting to work… but, there’s something different about this place. There’s something deep and solid and weighty that’s drawn us in and asked us to just – listen.

Several of our friends have even said to us, “Don’t rush – you gotta live in it first to really know what to do.” While that goes totally against how we usually tackle things, we see the wisdom in it for this home and this season of our life. Stillness. Quietness. Patience. LISTEN.

So, listening is what we’ve done for the last seven days.

We lit fires in the early morning coolness and listened to the crackle of wood that came from trees in the yard. We’ve sat on the hardwood floors in the mid-day sun and drank iced tea while listening to the house adjust its bones and welcome the warmth of the afternoon. We’ve listened to the kids squeal and laugh as they had water-balloon fights on the deck. We’ve looked down into the yard and listened to the birds, the squirrels, the frogs, the ducks. We’ve walked the rooms over and over listening to the beautiful quiet the empty house holds…and, in the quiet, we’ve listened to God’s kind, sweet voice saying, “You’re welcome” to the thanksgiving prayers our hearts constantly utter.

Listening has been good – really good… and, now as we begin the work, we feel we’re doing it in connection with all this house holds.

With all that said, staring today (and for the next few posts) I want to share some of the things I learned “in the dark”. (When I say “in the dark”, by the way, I’m referring to the pit of uncertainty (i.e. darkness) stressful situations often thrust us into. The four weeks leading up to the closing of our house I was “in darkness”: scattered, unsure, and depending wholeheartedly for my Father to work everything out as I woke each day and simply did the next right thing. The paperwork requests, the documents to sign, questions, the stress of three families behind us waiting for US to close. I was not myself, to say the least. But, as Jesus said, “What you hear in the dark, proclaim in the light.” So – here I am: out of the dark, back in the light, and excited about some really cool things the dark taught me.)

The first lesson I learned in the dark:

Beets are really good things.

DSC04133

I’ll be 42 in just a couple of months and, with all seriousness, I have never in my life eaten a beet. EVER. (I’m pretty sure I was traumatized after having a salad bar beet forced upon me as a child and I’ve never allowed them to touch my lips again.)

As we were going through the last four weeks, however, my homemaking duties were falling short – waaayyyy short. Not a day went by where the kids weren’t saying, “Mom, we’re out of…”… and, we honestly ate burritos probably four out of the seven nights a week for four weeks in a row. I grabbed take out more than I’ve ever grabbed take out in all our years of marriage – and, just like I had to grab take out for the family dinners, in the middle of the day I was so short on food I found myself gravitating to the Whole Foods salad bar for my personal sustenance. (I know, I know – quinoa saves the day! So, you know if I didn’t even have quinoa on hand – I was in a bad state of affairs.)

Enter, the beet salad.

There was something about the particular day I choose the beets: it was sunny outside, I had just finished a workout, the salad title said, “tangy beet salad”… and yes, I was dying for a little ‘tang’ to give me a pick-me-up. While the color and the title caught my eye, I did have to ‘amp it up’ a little. So, with the beet salad I added a couple other salads off the bar: a tricolor quinoa salad and some arugula and greens from another.

I LOVED IT.

Beets. Who would have known? They were amazing! So amazing, as a matter of fact, I went in and bought an entire bunch of them just so I could recreate my own version at home… and that’s where this salad comes from.

You ready? This recipe will make two meal servings of the salad…

DSC03997

First, here’s what you need:

DSC03968

1.5 cups quinoa (any quinoa will do, but I did like how the tricolor helped the presentation of this recipe)
2 medium beets, rough chopped into chunks and roasted with salt and olive oil for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees
1 large handful of baby arugula
1 large handful of baby spinach
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onions
1 TBSP of fresh diced jalapeño (or, more or less depending on your preference)

Then, for the dressing:

DSC03976

1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

First, make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a jar with a lid, and SHAKE VIGOROUSLY for about 20 seconds. Done.

Then, assemble the salad:

First, put the beets, onions, and jalapeños in your bowl, then pour the dressing over the ingredients to soak them:

DSC03979

DSC03983

Next, add the spinach and the arugula, and toss everything together until evenly coated by the dressing:

DSC03987

Finally, add in your quinoa:

DSC03990

(NOTE: when dressing with a vinegar based dressing, I ALWAYS add quinoa last and never dress the quinoa directly… you don’t want the quinoa to be overtaken by the vinegar.)

Toss everything together until evenly coated… and serve: DSC04000 Isn’t this a gorgeous salad?

DSC04001

DSC04005

The funny part is that, had I not been ‘in the dark’ and forced out of my box to eat something new, I don’t know if I ever would have discovered my love for beets… or this amazing salad.

Conclusion? Thanks to the darkness I learned beets are really good things.

What ‘good’ has come from a darkness you’ve worked through? I’d love to hear…

(FINAL NOTE (and maybe TMI): Beets CAN turn your pee red. Just saying. So, when you eat way too much of this salad like I did, don’t call your doctor and tell her you think you’re dying because your pee is red and you have no other symptoms of anything. She’ll just ask you if you’ve eaten anything out of the ordinary and, when you tell her ‘beets’, she’ll tell you have “beeturia” and then you’ll both have a good laugh and you’ll hang up and feel like a four-year old. Oh, then you’ll read this article and you’ll learn you have low stomach acid… and you’ll start eating more yogurt, drinking lemon water, and eating a tablespoon of pure coconut oil every day. 🙂 )

Up next: The second lesson I learned in the dark: Coffee is not my friend.

Thanks for being here…

Trusting Through the No

11161344_10153309243125799_4004172757734952239_n

The other day a friend of mine posted a photo of his little girl. She’s just a few weeks shy of three, darling as all get out and has a smile that lights up a room. In this particular picture, however, the little beauty was sprawled out in her velvet dress with her back against the concrete. From the lack of focus on her legs, she was obviously flailing her sparkly Mary Jane covered feet while clutching her hands to her chest and crying bitterly.

“Wasn’t allowed to dig a hole in the front yard,” the caption said.

I died… laughing.

If you’re a parent, you’re probably like me where, you see this photo, and your mind starts recalling all those ridiculous things that send kids to their knees:

“Brother pushed the elevator button first.”

“He was told he couldn’t pea on the front porch anymore.”

“She was told she had to put on pants if she wanted to go outside and play with her friends.”

“A blue bubblegum came out of the vending machine… she wanted red.”

“We asked her to not throw the cat against the wall.”

The only reason our kiddos freak out over these ‘non-issues’ is because they don’t get the ‘why’. They are so focused on self – and self wants what it wants when it wants it. Right? So, when they don’t get their way and they can’t understand why… well, all hell breaks loose.

The thing about this photo, however, is while it’s a picture of a little girl acting out… what came to mind (after I laughed about it) was this: Father, this is what you must see in me when I lose my self-control.

Ugh.

If I’m not careful, my self-control is easily whipped out the window and I throw an adult tantrum:

I can get critical…

I can get demanding…

I can withdraw…

I can get mean…

And, worst of all, I can start to doubt that the One who’s telling me ‘no’ really loves me and is for me – and my doubt makes me want to clench my fists, bite someone, and push the Big Bully out of the way.

It’s how our kids feel when they hear no, isn’t it? They feel we’re not for them… they feel we’re withholding something really good… they feel we just ‘don’t get it’. They see us as these great big bullies that just want to ruin their fun and prevent them from doing amazing things.

But that’s not a parent’s heart. We parents don’t say ‘no’ because we’re malicious… we say ‘no’ to things because we have perspective and maturity. We’ve lived enough life to know what hurts and what’s wrong – and, when we say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ even, it’s because we LOVE our kids – and we recognize that ‘no’ is part of the training that will help them grow up into responsible, thoughtful, other-centered, gracious, loving human beings.

Jesus once said, “Which of you, if your child asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I am not a perfect parent… sheesh, I’m not a perfect anything. But what this verse tells me is that if I, even with my faults and baggage and pride, want good for my babies – how much more does my perfect God want my good.

This is what I remind myself when I start to doubt His love or His presence in the ‘no’ or ‘not now’. This is what I speak when I’m on my knees, lost and confused and weeping over why my great idea has been shut down by the hand of God. I say, “Father – I am yours… I don’t like ‘no’ and I don’t understand why I can’t have my way, but thank you for your faithfulness… and thank you I can trust that ‘no’ (or ‘not yet’) is for my good. I turn my eyes off myself and onto You – help me to see You clearly in this… and do the work in me this ‘no’ is meant to accomplish.”

Don’t get me wrong: this self-control thing is stinky hard and IT. TAKES. WORK. Seriously – it takes WORK. It’s HARD not to follow my pride. It’s HARD to respond to mean people with love. It’s HARD to respond to irrational situations with patience. It’s hard to be vulnerable and be childlike in His presence.

But GOD… peeps, I tell you with all my heart: when I have the wherewithal and control to forgo the tantrum (and all the nastiness that comes with it) and instead call on Him for help, HE SHOWS UP.

He HEARS, He RESPONDS, He gives me strength and endurance and peace that, seriously, blows my mind. (And, if you know me personally and know my history, self-control is not in my blood.) When I look for Him in the ‘no’ or ‘not yet’, He, without fail, distracts me from the bitterness and anger that threatens to take over when I don’t get my way… and, yes, I’m kept off the ground clutching my hands to my chest as I cry bitterly.

Just as our goal as parents is to raise kids that can stand tall and face this harsh world – how much more does our Father want to mold us into bright, glorious, gracious people for His kingdom. If you’re hearing ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ today, think on these things. Seek Him. Ask Him. TRUST HIM. He’s never failed me – ever.

Thanks for being here… thanks for reading.

(Next time: a few things I learned in the dark while buying our house. I hope you’ll subscribe and stick around!)