27 May 2011

Recipe Review

So, I've been on a food kick (heck, I'm almost always on a food kick). But I find myself all-too-often cooking the same types of things with the same dang spices (as in, do I have b.o, or am I excreting cumin from my pores?).

So, a website was recommended to me (thanks, Rachel!) with lots of good recipes, and by good I mean, a little different for me, but not including wacko ingredients (orange juice in my black bean soup? I don't know about that). So I thought I'd tell you about some of them!

The first one we tried was the Asian Lettuce Wraps. You should check out the pictures on their website, they actually flatter the food. I almost never cook Asian food because it used to make me horribly nauseated. But something happened around my third trimester, and I'm cured!

Anyway, I did a couple of things different from the recipe (you'll quickly notice that I never EVER follow a recipe exactly, even on the first go. My rebellion rearing its head.) - the biggest difference is that I didn't make the drizzling sauce. I wanted to see if they were good enough without this extra step (and the extra calories). Verdict: plenty tasty without! Yay!

The second big change was I substituted romaine lettuce for iceberg. Stephen has nothing but contempt for iceberg lettuce (he honestly will not eat it), and I thought, what the heck? Why not go for something with actual vitamins in it! So romaine it was. Verdict: eh. The big ole vein (what's it actually called? not a stem... a spine? ugh this is how I know I'm tired. I can't remember anything) in the middle makes it a little tricky to roll. I think I also made mine a little full, so that added to the difficulty in eating. If you don't mind iceberg, maybe the ease would be worth it.

The more minor changes: 4 cloves of garlic is a lot in this household. I used two. Verdict: I think I'll do three next time, because I didn't notice the garlic. But hey, garlic is one of those bully flavors; it's kinda nice to make him support others rather than hogging the attention. Two was just fine. I also took out the sesame oil (it wasn't worth it to me to buy just for this recipe) or the mushrooms (blech!). I didn't miss either. I also used chicken breasts that I cut into itty bitty cubes, cause I couldn't find ground chicken while hustling through HEB at 10:30pm. Worked great.

Honestly, when I first tasted my wrap, I thought it was kind of icky - it was too green tasting, like chlorophyll. Then I realized what it was: the cilantro! I took it out and BOOM - SO MUCH BETTER! Verdict: NIX THE CILANTRO. I adore cilantro so much, but in this recipe it's a big no. BUT Stephen didn't notice it or mind. He really loved this dish! We ate on it for several days as well, maybe four meals all-told, which is a huge bonus for me, since the recipe calls for lots and lots of chopping, which means a good bit of time.

All in all? I think this will be added to our monthly rotation. I just need to make sure and chop all the ingredients during Ezra's first nap, including the chicken. Once everything is chopped, it's an easy, yummy, healthy meal. Yay!

One question, though, for you chefs out there: ginger. Am I doing something wrong, or is it just really difficult to mince well?

26 May 2011

So, Mommas

How quickly did you start to get paranoid that you were pregnant again?

How quickly were you pregnant again?

19 May 2011


So, I'm fasting from sugar. ish. [Don't worry; it's not a brag. You'll see in a sec.]

I made this decision maybe a week before my birthday (May 6th), when I finally started to get fed up with this craving monster addict part of me. I don't know if it's my personality, my body chemistry, or spiritual junk (or all three), but I get easily addicted to things, food definitely being one of them. Sugar is honestly one of my favorite things (when the dog bites; when the bee stings...). And I don't think sugar is the root of all food evil, but I realized I was thinking an awful lot about sugar. Like embarrassingly often. And I don't like to be all creepy with food, but I have a tendency to be a bit idolatrous with it. Or really idolatrous. Which, to me, is even dumber than materialism (also a problem). I mean, come now. Food is for fueling the body, and to bring people together. I do have a "celebratory personality," which is fun (for me at least) and helpful (for Stephen at least). But the downside of that is gluttony and indulgence and a lack of discipline. I do love even the idea of a feast. But sometimes I feel like NoFace from Spirited Away inside. Not a pretty sight. So I decided, from the day after my birthday until the day before Stephen's (July 23rd), no sugar for me. Not a fast out of a desire to please the Lord or even to focus more on Him. Purely to break an addiction that is harming me and my relationships. I'm praying it works; diabetes sounds really unpleasant.

I have since calmed that down a bit. I'm having juice (a glass a day) and will have dessert at birthday parties or weddings (no seconds). No soda, no sweets, nothing like that in the house. That came about because, when around a dessert at a party, I realized I was obsessing about the dessert (come on, a lot of us have done that when we're "trying to be good"). And obsessing while not having it is not any healthier. So I had a small piece and left it at that.

It's kind of embarrassing to admit how weak I am in this area. That, with food, I'm constantly teetering on the brink of being completely out of control. I know there's even more of a stigma for that in our culture than, say, having a hard time controlling how many accessories one wears, or even how often one cleans one's house. And I can remember that a LOT of us Americans (and yes, "us" is correct) have issues with food, either eating too much or too little or both. But still, I feel shame for it. And shame is a big load of crap.

Feel free to pray for my freedom in this area - I know it would be a heavy burden lifted to have freedom in this area. And I feel all the more urgency (spellcheck just let me know urgence is only a word in French) now that I'm a mom. I really, really don't want my children to grow up around my problems with food. I want to model the freedom that is a life in Christ. I want to model a victory that is so victorious that it doesn't even look like effort, because Jesus has already overcome. I want them to know health and joy and creativity and fun with food, why God gave us food in the first place. But I'd like to know those things as well. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.

11 May 2011


Okay, I know my music tastes sometimes veer into what others would describe as "wacky." But I think you may find that, once you listen to some songs a few times, they begin to unfold like beautiful, noisy flowers.

Song one: "Last Night at the Jetty" from Tomboy by Panda Bear
This song is so, so catchy. It has the added appeal for me that I had this song on repeat during early labor with Ezra, which was a lovely time. If you can get over the weirder noises in the background, it's a superfun, sunny day song. You can download this song for free, too!

Song two: "Helplessness Blues" from Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes
If you like Simon & Garfunkel, or the Beach Boys, or generally good music, you will like Fleet Foxes. I love this particular song because, like most songs that you absolutely LOVE, there's something in the music that just moves you in your heart. This whole album streams free on NPR (love me some NPR!)

Song three: "Beach City/Carol I Know" by Dream Cop
I'm sure you know people remix other people's songs. Most of the time, the results aren't that great. Often the remix is salvaging a not-so-good original. Or the remix is just the song to a different beat, which is usually a worse version of the original. But sometimes people make something new and exciting from previously great songs. I don't like everything Dream Cop does, but this song is supergreat. You can also download this song for free.

Song four: "Cranberry (radio edit)" from Fight Softly by The Ruby Suns
Okay, so I actually listen to a lot of happy sounding music. With harmonies. And fun times. You can also also download it for free. Listen to this song and I dare you to not bob your head or tap your toe.

Song five: "Fiya" from Bird Brains by tUnE-yArDs
This is a video - the song actually starts at about 1:30. tUnE-yArDs is amazing. She has such a great voice and, to me, it's really, really refreshing to see a female indie artist who looks like she actually eats real food. And makes great music. If I ever need a little puff of courage, I ask myself, "Don't you know I breathe in fire, breathe out fire?" It's emancipating in a silly way.

So there you have my current top five "give a listen"s. I think most people will enjoy at least three of these songs.

07 May 2011

Cream of Chick/Mush Recipe?

So I'm working on a database of recipes so I can more easily meal plan (and avoid sending my husband to the store to get the one thing I forgot and that's holding up dinner).

I have quite a few recipes that call for cream of chicken or mushroom soups. I don't mind them, but I was wondering if anyone has a good recipe for making something like them, or giving the consistency of them, that isn't pre-packaged. Does that make sense?

I'm thinking about trying a month of entirely non-processed food planning. We don't eat a ton of processed foods (except sweets, which I am surrendering to the Lord, sigh, moan, tear!). The cream of mush/chick is kind of the main thing holding me back at this point. And the thought of breadmaking... well, we may be eating a lot of paan instead of leavened breads. :) If Stephen absolutely revolts on that one, I'm willing to make an exception for the bread we buy, since it is healthier than paan.

I know I may come across as paranoid, and totally hypocritical (though I don't mean to be critical in the first place) since I love me some happy meals and Sonic drinks), but I do worry what the processing is doing to my insides, and I worry more about what food will be like when my son's 25...

06 May 2011

Birthday (hint: it's mine)

I'm 26 today! It sounds so much older than 25, which is ridiculous. But still. I can't believe I'm 26.

6 years ago, today, I hadn't yet given my life to the Lord. Actually, on my 20th birthday, I took mushrooms with my boyfriend. And I remember specifically realizing that I was looking for something that wasn't going to be found in drugs. I actually realized I was looking for a way to experience God without accepting the truth about Jesus and the consequences of wanting to be with him.

I've never been a "good" person - I never really cared about doing the "right thing" or performing to others' expectations. I thought rules should be in place to keep people safe, and if I thought it was a stupid rule, I wasn't going to follow it, and you couldn't really make me. I've always been very selfish. I mean, I know everyone is to one extent or another, but I really do think I'm exceptionally self-centered. Even now, Stephen's always been more selfless, and most (maybe all) of my friends are as well. I've never been a kind person or a patient person, and I can be very critical and judgmental (as in whoever standardized the spelling as "judgmental" did not understand the connection between spelling and pronunciation).

The point of all that is not how bad I was. It's just that, I didn't choose to follow Jesus because it was the right thing to do, or because God deserves glory and service. I chose to follow Jesus in the dead of night on the drive home (somewhere between Waco and Hearne) because I had exhausted all my other options in filling this need to be with God. He is righteous and holy and awesome and mighty and just, but He's also the Person in whom my purpose originates, and He loves me the way absolutely no one else can. All the longing and yearning, the late night drives and the paintings in my head, the songs I couldn't write but felt in my blood, my whole life was a map to that point. Almost like that point was the singularity on a black hole - everything fed into it, and past it, everything is being redeemed and made new.

I share all this to say a couple of things:
1) All the things I turned my back on, and all the dying I've done and will continue to do, is worth being with God. Having his Spirit to comfort and guide and, yes, even convict. He brings healing and restoration and sanctification (i.e. every day, I'm less of a corpse and more of a phoenix).
2) The "crazy" things I did when I was young are not nearly as difficult or momentous or life-changing or... or precipitous as the things I'm doing now, even though I'm just a wife and mom and part-time college "minister." I never expected for me to be where I am now, six years ago. I would've dreaded the thought, actually. But my plans were crap compared to this.
3) My birthday always reminds me of that time in my life. Not the time Stephen left a recording of a love song he wrote for me at the beginning of our relationship. That was so sweet, but my marriage isn't the main relationship in my life. God is my lord, and He owns my heart. My romance with Him has been much longer and will last literally forever. God loves me perfectly and it's this relationship that has caused the most change in my life, and which will always ultimately define me.

God made me, and He made me to be with Him. Thanks for the birth, Lord, and thanks for being who You are.

03 May 2011

Nap Time

Ezra has the darndest time sleeping during the day. He'll be so tired (and grumpy, with his cute little pouty face), and I'll nurse him laying down, so he doesn't even have to move, and he'll still wake up after fifteen minutes. Several days he's done that for three or four go-arounds until I just give up.

I'm assuming it's because we don't really have a routine. I usually get up whenever he wakes up. Sort of. What I mean is, he'll nurse around 7:30-8:30, and I'll try and have sleepy cuddle time with him to get some more shut-eye. And he'll accept sleepy cuddle time for anywhere until 9:30 to noon, even. Noon is pretty extraordinary, but 10 or 10:30 is pretty common.

Should I be a little more structured in getting up? It hasn't really occurred to me to do so until the past couple of weeks. It's hard to know when he should be wanting a nap since we get up at a different time every day. He's settled into going to bed around 9pm, but other than that, we both kind of play the day by ear.

Do you think the lack of structure is hard on him? I kind of figured he'd establish his own little routine, but I'm not sure if I'm hindering it, or if he's like his momma - a by-the-seat-of-his-pants flyer.

The other thing that's hard is what will work to get him to sleep one afternoon won't work the next. Often he'll just fall asleep while I'm holding him. But sometimes he just won't. Sometimes it takes putting him in the swing. Sometimes it takes horizontal nursing and leaving him where he is. Sometimes he sleeps for three hours, and sometimes I can't get him to sleep more than fifteen minutes at a time. Is this normal?

What do you do to put your little one down? Did s/he establish his/her own schedule?

02 May 2011

Pink and Blue (and Yellow, too)

So baby clothes and baby accessories and all this baby junk. (I love cute little baby stuff. I'm totally a hypocrite.)

I have several onesies that are "gender neutral" - no footballs or lace - and I prefer it that way. Ezra was in a banana-yellow onesie at HEB the other day, and the cashier assumed he was a girl (she couldn't see his face, so it must've been the color, unless he somehow has girlish limbs). Since when do colors belong to either sex? Yellow's a fabulous color - not really on Ezra right now (not the right skin tone for banana) - but it's vibrant and cheerful and full of fun, just like my little boy.

I thought about being defensive out of feeling embarrassed that I had tripped up on our social mores, but I think that's just stupid. He had a clean onesie on, and I'm glad for that. It didn't have holes in it, it kept him not too hot and not too cold, and it even had a little embroidered palm tree wearing sunglasses on the front. The only way it might be better suited for a future daughter is if she has less yellow in her complexion. Just saying. They're babies.

Can we take a step back? Even past my own weird, budding need to be seen as a good mother (I'm just saying, I'm not normally this). How dare we as a society be so nitpicky about babywear, for Pete's sake! Babies and toddlers and children and youth and adults are dying of starvation, inadequate sanitation, and lack of shelter. I am NOT going to be embarrassed because it's 95 degrees outside and my baby's only in a diaper. I am NOT going to be embarrassed because his onesie doesn't have footballs on it. I'm not even going to be embarrassed of his pink diaper cover or his (hideous) little pink socks.

I want my son to be empathic, compassionate, strong-willed, pure of heart, and confident in who God has made him to be. I want for him to be comfortable in his skin. He doesn't need to be intelligent, athletic, outspoken, or anything but what God has made him to be. It took me a couple decades to even begin realizing I shouldn't feel bad for how I was made; I should take pleasure in the talents He's given me, and trust and walk with Him in the areas in which I'm weak. The abundance and the lack in me both rest within the Lord because I belong to Him. All of me does.

I want my son to delight in the Lord; I know the Lord is delighted with him already. And I certainly don't want shame introduced into his life by me! Lord, I need Your strength to overcome the lies I've believed about myself. I need You to overwhelm my brokenness and keep it from Ezra. Please, out of the tenderness of Your mercies, break this chain.