ally mcbeal made me late for church

here’s the deal: it’s been a long time since i’ve sat down and really just….blogged….. i have been posting recipes and home projects, but when i created this blog i did so as an outlet for my personal self too; a place to document my life, my struggles, my triumphs…. and i feel like i’ve kinda gotten away from some of these topics…………i think i’ve figured out why, and this is where ally mcbeal comes in…

a while back pauly and i signed up for netflix, and since then have been enjoying a wide variety of movies, tv shows, and documentaries. i find it comforting, honestly, to have some ‘back ground noise’ on during the days when i’m home, and i tell myself i will multitask with shows and laundry, or making meals, or cleaning the bathrooms….

the problem, however, is my addictive personality. see, i can’t just watch a show, or one movie. just like i can’t occasionally drink a diet coke, or buy a starbucks latte once in a while.  if i am going to do, i’m going to do it.  and since tightening up my diet, i have discovered this unfavorable phenomenon over and over in my life. i realized it first with food, and now am finding it to be true with tv watching. i just can’t stop. oh, and as far as multitasking goes….let’s just say i could tell you ‘frasier’s’ entire life story…or write it in the grime on the bathroom counter……i have learned that the only way for me to overcome something negative is to cut it out of my life. (i’m a wee bit all or nothing, can you tell?)

so, the other day i had a conversation with pauly that went like this:

me: i have to tell you something, but it’s embarrassing so don’t laugh

pauly: *laughs, cautiously* okay….

me: i mean, you can laugh, i would, but just know that that will probably also hurt my feelings…

pauly: okay. i won’t laugh

me: *sigh* no…now…..i just…i’m making this weird. laugh. it’s fine.

pauly: *sigh* why don’t you just tell me, and i will decide to laugh or not…

me: okay. that sounds good. *beat…* *beat…* i think i’m addicted to tv….

the conversation continued from there..(pauly didn’t laugh….too much…) and i told him that i am really struggling now finding the motivation or desire to do anything with my ‘spare time’ other than watch my latest tv series….which is ally mcbeal as of late….and i know it may sound silly but it’s really true. i haven’t really felt like blogging, i’m not getting the house organized like i really want to, and i really was late for our bible study on monday night because i just had to see how season 1 of ally mcbeal ended. there are so many better things to fill my time with, and i knew i needed to cut the ties and be done with netflix for a while.

so that night after our talk, pauly cancelled our netflix account. and i honestly had to tell myself “well..it will just be for a while..just to break this habit…i’ll be back…it won’t be forever….” literally like a drug addict. because honestly, it really was an addiction. i felt like it was starting to affect my mental functioning. and i don’t want to feel the need to count frasier crane, ally mcbeal, and adrian monk among my ‘close friends’.

so there you have it……..a little dramatic? oh, probably. but that’s my life. and i think only good things will come of this…so check back soon to see what amazing things i am filling my time with now! (insert pictures of me napping, open mouthed on the couch: here.)

netlflix

word

delicious “feel better” soup

disclaimer: i wasn’t quite sure how to punctuate this title….just know i am not telling Soup to feel better….nor am i suggesting with the quotations that this is a sarcastic title, and i’m somehow trying trick you into drinking this soup under the guise of ‘feeling better’………this is a soup, to help you feel better.

i have been making the soup weekly it seems. this hot and savory soup seriously helps kick start my wellness whenever i feel a cold or flu coming on. usually within a day or so of drinking it, i will notice a significant difference in my energy, a decrease in my body aches, and overall i will just feel better.   of course it will depend on what you have and how severe your symptoms are, but this stuff really works for both paul and me whenever we have a cold or flu.

the garlic is incredibly antiviral and antibacterial , the ginger is an antiviral and antibacterial root, and can help to inhibit mucous production and clear up congestion. the green onions are a rich source of vitamin K, as well as support for the immune system. i drink this several times daily until i am feeling better. and then i mix noodles and veggies into any leftover broth and make an awesome veggie noodle soup! win. win. 

the key is to drink it as hot as you can handle it. drinking it super hot will help you sweat out toxins, and get the healing process started. 

here’s to health!

ingredients:

3 cups water

2 vegetarian bullion cubes

1/2 to 1 inch peeled ginger root, minced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 green onions, chopped

how to: 

place all ingredients in a large pot over high heat. bring it to a boil for about 5 minutes. reduce heat to a simmer, and let the soup simmer for 5 more minutes.

again, drink this soup as hot as possible without burning yourself! drink this several times a day and feel better quick!

better picture coming soon. just wanted to get this recipe up asap!

better picture coming soon. just wanted to get this recipe up asap!

guest post: quick and easy pico de gallo

hi friends! i’m very excited to introduce you to a fabulous blogger and guest writer here on my little corner of the internet! rachel’s blog, RachMariePR, is incredible– i highly recommend checking it out! she blogs about everything from fashion, to food, to friends, and fellow bloggers :)

here is her amazingly yummy pico de gallo recipe, and i am making it as we speak! (well, shortly before typing this..)

i will be posting more of rachel’s yummy recipes soon, and hopefully we will be seeing more of her here in the future!

Rachel’s Perfect Pico de Gallo

Who doesn’t love a quick and easy salsa recipe?! Here is my delicious recipe for a very quick and easy pico de gallo. It is pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Every time I bring this salsa along to a gathering of friends or family, or any one tastes it, everyone raves about it and can’t get enough. Try it out and let us know what you think!

I use all of these ingredients to taste – I LOVE cilantro and red onion so you may decide you want less of each, but I have included a guideline for how much of each I use.

1 Red Onion
Cilantro – to taste
6 Tomatoes
1 tbsp Lime Juice
3 cloves of Garlic minced
Salt and Pepper – to taste
3-4 Jalapeno Peppers
1-2 Serrano Peppers

Chop the onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and peppers. Put everything into a bowl and mix together while adding garlic, lime juice and salt and pepper.

Tip: When I cut the tomatoes I cut the juicy, seedy center out and do not add to the salsa.

pico-de-gallo

amazing chocolate cake…listen: amazing.

i don’t know about you, but after the holidays i think i need to go on a sugar detox. and by sugar detox i mean i need to immediately find a ‘healthy’ chocolate cake recipe that i could eat guilt-free……enter stage left: this amazing chocolate cake. sweetened with honey, gluten free, and (and i hesitate to even say this for fear it will turn people off…) black beans. yes. black beans, but just go with me here. you can’t taste them, it gives the cake an amazing texture, and you can feel good about eating piece after piece because, come on…black beans.

this is so easy, and i guarantee you have all these ingredients in your pantry now!

the original recipe can be found here. i have adapted it slightly.

ingredients:

one 15 ounce can unseasoned black beans, drained and rinsed well
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons coconut oil, in it’s solid form, not liquid
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons honey or agave syrup
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
powdered sugar or xylitol powder

**xylitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits, as well as birch bark.  it is a very low calorie sweetener, and has been said to be safe for diabetics, because of it’s extremely low count on the glycemic index. (obviously check with your doctor to see if this applies to you, if you’re a diabetic).  xylitol has also been said to be great for your teeth, and if you look in many natural tooth pastes, mouth rinses, and gums, you’ll find that this is used. **

how to:
preheat oven to 325 degrees. grease a 9″ round cake pan with cooking spray, butter or coconut oil.

in a blender, combine beans, three of the eggs, vanilla, and salt. blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. be sure there are no lumps!

next, in a separate bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.

using a kitchenaide or hand mixer cream together the coconut oil and honey until fluffy. this doesn’t take too long, and be sure not to over mix so the coconut oil turns completely liquid-y.  beat in the remaining two eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. beat the bean mixture into this batter. finally, stir in cocoa powder and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth.

scrape the batter into the pan, and smooth the top, and rap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. remove the cake and let it completely cool. dust lightly with powdered sugar or xylitol, if desired.

again, i cannot say enough good things about this cake! i passed it off to my family as ‘regular’ chocolate cake, and everyone was shocked when i told them it was healthy. they loved it. like, lick the bowl, love.

enjoy!

moist, delicious, and healthy. happy new year, y'all.

moist, delicious, and healthy. happy new year, y’all.

cakecousins

cakecousins

Life Changer Thursday: Paul’s Story

we’re back! i hope you all had a wonderful new year and that you look forward to 2014 with hope and anticipation of great things to come!  after taking a week off from ‘life changer thursday’ today seems like a perfect day to talk about life changing moments! new year, new goals, new lifestyles…what’s motivating you this year? where are you hoping to change, grow, or stay steady? 

this week’s post is near and dear to me because it’s written by….drumroll please……my husband! when i told pauly i was going to start this ‘life changer thursday’ deal, he was so excited and asked me when he could write! he has an incredible story, and i am so proud of him and so proud to share that with you now.

Paul’s story:

You should see the look on old friends’ faces when I tell them I’m a vegetarian. It’s utter disbelief. “You?! What…how…but you..really..uh..vegetarian??!!” If I were them, I’d be just as shocked.  I grew up on pepperoni pizza, bacon, steak, chocolate milk, and Mountain Dew. I was probably the worst eater of anyone I knew. At Thunderbird, where I attended graduate school, my friend Josh and I would go to Safeway on Saturday mornings and buy a 3 lb. package of bacon – it was easily gone by Sunday, if not sooner.

Since we’d been married, Leah had tried to gently coax me into a healthier lifestyle, but I was stubborn, and I would cite my family’s longevity as an excuse to not have to change.  In 2010, Leah took the plunge into vegetarianism.  She literally went cold turkey (ironic pun intended). I kept demolishing packages of bacon.  Leah was a vegetarian because she needed to do it for her health, I told myself, but I was fine.

Then, in 2011, people around me started getting skinny, or at least that’s what I was telling myself. It’s certainly didn’t occur to me that maybe I was just gaining weight…  But when I looked around my office and church small group, I was the fat guy. In Sept. of 2011, I was 237 lbs. and my waist was a robust 38″ (I’m 6’2″).

I stumbled my way into becoming a vegetarian in November 2011.  One night, Leah and I, along with our friends, Cory & Summer, watched an incredibly compelling documentary called “Forks Over Knives” – it changed my life. It wasn’t preachy in the least, and the case was so clear.  I am so grateful for that night.  I committed to being a vegetarian the next day, and it stuck.

To be honest, I started mostly out of solidarity with Leah, but it quickly turned into so much more. (Ironic side note, I actually gained about 5 lbs. after becoming a vegetarian because things like french fries, potato chips, and ice cream aren’t meat… I’m a slow learner, just ask Leah :) Thankfully Leah is an incredible cook, and once I got the courage to try “her food” (more like got over myself), I found that I actually liked what she made MORE than what I used to eat.  By Oct. 2012, I was down to 190 lbs. and a 34″ waist. I ran my first 10k – and lived to tell about it.  In Aug. 2013, I completed my first triathlon.  I am going to run a half marathon in 2014 and do 2 more triathlons.

Now that I’m over 2 years into my journey, my views and convictions have grown from simply acting out of solidarity with Leah and  my own health. I have come to see the importance of manifesting a non-violent lifestyle by the way I eat. Trust me, 2 or 3 years ago, my “hippie”, “tree hugging”, “uber-liberal” red flags would’ve been raised.  I was a vegetarian for health reasons, not because “cows have moms too.”  But, the more I learned about the shocking, revolting, and horrific way we treat animals (namely cows, pigs, and chickens) in this country, my commitment deepened. (the documentary “Vegucated” is pretty preachy, but the fact that I became utterly sick to my stomach when I saw how animals are slaughtered truly rocked me. God calls us to care for the earth and the animal kingdom; I no longer had the luxury of looking the other way when it came to how “meat is made”).  I am explicitly not saying this is the “Christian way” to eat – Jesus ate lamb at the Last Supper after all :)  I am simply saying this is something Leah and I are exploring and growing in. I should mention here too, that Leah and I do occasionally eat seafood. Especially when we have traveled abroad, maintaining and exclusively vegetarian lifestyle would be difficult, so introduced wild caught, (never farm raised) Alaskan salmon and other fish back into our diet and do enjoy sushi on special occasions. We also make it a priority to never be “those people” when we are invited anywhere for dinner, and seafood is an easy way for us to share meals with friends and family.  I say all that to say this: it’s an art not a science. Growing in our convictions and finding a healthy balance is what it’s all about.

Leah is “encouraging” me to keep this brief, so I will wrap up by saying this: it has been a long, slow journey. I started with incredibly small steps, like eating cheese pizza instead of pepperoni…. But by surrounding myself with a network of healthy people, and being willing to ask difficult questions about where my food really comes from and the implications for my  health (not just weight),  this journey has become one of the best things I have ever started. This is a philosophy and lifestyle Leah and I are cultivating not only for ourselves, but our future children as well.

And just so you know, if you wake up tomorrow and make 3lbs of Safeway bacon, no judgment. :) I’ve been there.

before.... and........

before…. and……..

ready for the gala!

ready for the gala!

 

i love this pic of him finishing because it kinda looks like he's doing the 'running man' dance move! haha!

finishing my first triathlon!

and again, if you have any questions, comments, general ponderings about this or any life changer post, please leave them in the comment section and paul or i will be happy to answer them!

house update: DIY pallet wall

HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE! plergs are spending the night in our jammies, blogging, reading, eating crab legs with relatives, and going to bed early,  partying like it’s 1999–naturally.

one of our new years resolutions is to *finally* get our house in order. and yes, i know we have only lived in our house for a month now, but my OCD is killing me. I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS! everything has a place, and i just know it’s itching to get to its proper spot.

so in the spirit of getting crap done, pauly decided to undertake one of our larger projects this weekend and put up our pallet wall in the loft! *sidenote: i hence forth promise to post more pictures of our house in 2014*

here’s how we did it! i think it looks pretty sweet and will only get better looking as we finish the room with bookshelves, pictures, throws, and lamps.

three cheers to pauly!

and happy new year everyone! may all of your wildest dreams come true.

so here's how we started: my brother in law hooked us up with some pallets from his office. honestly, don't pay for pallets. so many businesses have them and don't need them... also, we didn't treat or stain any of our boards. we picked pallets of differing coloring to add variety

so here’s how we started: my brother in law hooked us up with some pallets from his office. honestly, don’t pay for pallets. so many businesses have them and don’t need them… also, we didn’t treat or stain any of our boards. we picked pallets of differing coloring to add variety

then pauly used a 'sawzall' saw to take the pallets apart. tip: saw right through the nails. DON'T waste time prying them apart to take the nails out. you can cut right through them and then pound down any sharp edges.

then pauly used a ‘sawzall’ saw to take the pallets apart. tip: saw right through the nails. DON’T waste time prying them apart to take the nails out. you can cut right through them and then pound down any sharp edges.

next, we laid out the pieces to see how we wanted to arrange them on the wall

next, we laid out the pieces to see how we wanted to arrange them on the wall

since we were mounting our tv on this pallet wall, pauly made a cardboard mock-up so we could place it perfectly on the wall space and find what would be the center of the pallet wall

since we were mounting our tv on this pallet wall, pauly made a cardboard mock-up so we could place it perfectly on the wall space and find what would be the center of the pallet wall

after finding the studs, we nailed (with an air nailer) the first two boards, starting in what we figured out would be the center of the pallet wall. this way we could add to the top and bottom and make the wall as big or little as we wanted. tip: USE AN AIR NAILER i can't even being to imagine pounding this puppy up nail by nail.

after finding the studs, we nailed (with an air nailer) the first two boards, starting in what we figured out would be the center of the pallet wall. this way we could add to the top and bottom and make the wall as big or little as we wanted. tip: USE AN AIR NAILER i can’t even being to imagine pounding this puppy up nail by nail.

the finished pallet wall! we wanted to make ours a frame for the tv, so from here pauly drilled holes in the wall and pallet wall to hide the cords for the tv.

the finished pallet wall! we wanted to make ours a frame for the tv, so from here pauly drilled holes in the wall and pallet wall to hide the cords for the tv.

ta-da! i think it turned out so well and i can't wait to add more to the room to finish it up!

ta-da! i think it turned out so well and i can’t wait to add more to the room to finish it up!

 

life changer thursday: rachel’s story

this week’s ‘life changer thursday’ really has my heart. when i contacted rachel and asked if she would like to write here about her time in Africa, i had NO idea how powerful her story would be, and how it would change my perspective so greatly.  after seeing the incredible faces of these children, and reading stories on the HopeChest website, i decided to sponsor a child, and let me tell you, it is incredible! HopeChest has not only changed rachel’s life, and hundreds of orphans in uganda, but my life too. if you are interested in sponsoring a beautiful child, there are links at the bottom of this page to help get you started. please consider sponsoring this year. these kids are so deserving of extra love and support all year long.

rachel’s story

When Leah asked me to write about the kids in Uganda for ‘Life Changer Thursday,’ I immediately thought how immensely these kids have changed my life.  When I think about them my heart beats harder, I get a little teary eyed, and most of all, I want to be with them again. But until day comes, I will share their stories.

From the time I first met God, I have also had this strong urge to get to know people from other cultures.  And when I  met my husband John—the most incredible, loving, handsome man who exists— he knew that I hoped to spend a lot of time in another country at some point, but had no idea where or when that would be.  When one of my friends told me about Children’s HopeChest, and the opportunity to visit Uganda on a yearly basis, John was on board and excited for our family to become part of this new adventure.  Both of us went to Uganda in 2012, and I went again in 2013, both times with a team of people from the states.

I have to say, my initial opinion of missionary groups wasn’t’ great.  There seemed to be a reoccurrence of people who wanted to ‘do good’ for others but, due to lack of experience or information, ended up making little difference or even hurting people more than helping.  Children’s HopeChest, however, had a deeper purpose compared to other organizations I had come across.  Their aim is to build long lasting relationships between two communities–one stateside, such as a church or business, and the other a high orphan population, like an orphanage or village. Building these relationships is meant to allow God to bring change to both groups of people. I honestly didn’t think this was possible, until I went to Uganda.

A soon as I got there and met the people, I kept asking myself, “How is it possible to fee like family when you’ve just met,  and hardly speak the same language!?”  Our teams spent the majority of each trip in two neighboring villages, Bukedea and Ogoloi, with a combined orphan population of over 300 being sponsored through Children’s HopeChest.  Our main focus here was to spend time with the kids and get to know the families.  There were numerous things we did while in each village, but loving on the kids is priority.  I would like to share one of their stories with you:

Thomas lives in Ogoloi with his grandma.  He is HIV positive.  He is incredibly quiet and shy when you meet him, yet latches onto your hand and follows close by you wherever you go, as faithful as a shadow.  During my first trip in August 2012, I went back to my hotel crying for Thomas more than once.  During my time with him, sometimes he would be content enough to stand by my side, smiling every now and then.  At other times, however, he would shake with pain from headaches or stomach aches, crying uncontrollably.  I saw him throw up the little lunch he ate one day, and then later watched a friend remove jiggers (a type of worm with eggs) from his feet.  In addition, his head was covered by a fungus that led him to scratch until he bled.  This boy seemed to have a mountain of hopeless hardships for someone still under ten years old.

The beauty in all this filth was though, was to watch the HopeChest staff in Ogoloi love and care for him and his family.  They visited with his grandma, and helped her however she needed around their home. Discovering that Thomas had not been taking his medicine, the staff made a care plan for him to take his medicine, with food, under their supervision each day.  By the time I saw him again the following August, his head was almost completely healed. The staff reported he had been getting healthier and healthier, and I was able to witness a happy Thomas, actually playing with other kids.

Thomas is one of so many stories that have left me changed.  The way I spend time, money, and how I value people have all been affected by my experiences in Uganda.  However, it is my prayers that have been changed more than anything.  Before my time in Africa, I was relatively satisfied with how things were—in my life and with the world.  Since then, I have a new prayer: ‘Jesus, help us bring Your Kingdom to earth.’  God wants us to partner with Him, as He makes us and others more like Himself.

There are more orphans in Bukedea and Ogoloi who still need sponsors. If you want to be part of these transformations, in both yourself and the kids of Uganda, please visit the links below.  If you have any questions for me, feel free to post on this blog or e-mail me through Leah.

john-and-rachel
ugandakids

self doubt

there are some days when i really don’t know if i will be a good mom. **not fishing for compliments….but if you want to egregiously compliment me in the comments, i mean…that’s okay….** really though, somedays teaching preschool kicks my butt. conflict resolution at every turn, boogers, poop, glitter, and spilled snacks somehow mysteriously find their way onto my clothes, and by the end of the day i don’t care if i ever hear my own name ever again. and it’s in these moments when i think, ‘yikes….this is kinda like motherhood…..dang.  those b&*^@#s are legit! this is hard-freaking-work! i just don’t know if i have what it takes!’ …………aaaaaaand then proceed to drown my anxiety in some form of chocolate-dipped-fudge-covered…anything….

i think i have been pondering these things in my heart (cough:christmas mother reference..) more lately because pauly and i are about to embark on our adoption journey this next year. (i plan to write much more about this when the time comes) for some reason, (probably has something to do with my new nephew), i am really considering how our life will change when we have kids, and how hard day-in-day-out-never-get-a-break parenthood really is. i know we can and will do it and do it well, but man…self doubt…it’s tricky….

so, to all you parents out there in the thick of it, i stand and slow clap in your honor. well done doing 10 times what i do without getting paid! keep up the good work. and remember: you, like me i suppose, are really good at your job…. even on the tough days.

okay off to talk to some more food about this…and then take a nap.

sleepyleah

life changer thursday: evan’s story

today’s installment of ‘life changer thursday’ will come as no surprise to those of you who follow me on facebook and instagram.. today at 12:52pm my very first nephew (and our family’s very first grand baby) was born! (read: AHHHHHHHHHH! AH! AH! AH! YES! AHHHHHHHHH!)

evan thomas was born on this cold cold COLD december day to my ‘little’ sister emma, and her husband dan. baby and mom are doing great, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect boy. my life has been irrevocably, unconditionally, indescribably, all consumingly, changed. thank. you. Lord.

holding him in my arms for the first time today was the most surreal, wonderful experience ever….and my first thought was oh my gosh! this world is filled with weirdos and perverts! we have to move to an island! no one is allowed to hold him but me! i hate everyone else!  i mean…’man. i love you so much! i can’t believe you are finally here!’

it’s been a long day but i think we will all go to bed and sleep extra soundly tonight, dreaming of our little christmas present….well….at least we will. dan and emma may be in for a longer night…….

so, without further ado, i would like to introduce to you the new love of my life…..my little evan:

evanhat

have you EVER seen anything cuter! no. no you haven’t. it’s like he’s showing us his muscles! our big strong boy!

we love you e-man!!

we love you e-man!!

there aren't words to describe my love. literally. they need to invent new words.

there aren’t words to describe my love. literally. they need to invent new words.

evan loves grandpa stevie! and look at that blonde hair!

evan loves grandpa stevie! and look at that blonde hair!

grandma suzie during ev's first bath! these guys are best buds already.

grandma suzie during ev’s first bath! these guys are best buds already.

the most perfect little family that there ever was.

the most perfect little family that there ever was.

happy birthday to you!

happy birthday to you!

happy birthday, my dear evan!

happy birthday to you!

i love you boy! xoxoxox auntie