My life - from the impact of great loss, to a refreshing new take on life and a place where I now share ............... my favorite Plant Strong recipes....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rejoicing This Christmas

I am blessed.  There are so many things in my life to be thankful for right now.  I am loving the anticipation for Christmas.

Though I hadn't planned on doing much decorating this year, somehow we keep doing more and more.  A light fixture here, the card tree there, tonight the Nativity.  Though I love all the colors, ribbons and being creative - I think I would be just as content with simply the Nativity up.  That's what my eye keeps going to, even in a room full of lights and twinkles and ribbons and...

The Nativity.

The Reason for the Season.

This has become one of my best Christmas Season's ever.  Yes, I have known great loss, but maybe it's from that loss that I can realize the great love that I have in so many areas of my life.  It has been a goal for Jeff and me this Christmas season to keep things simple... to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.  In a time when there is stress and chaos all around us, and technology that can easily consume us, it isn't always an easy feat. 

Yet when I focus on Jesus - His birth, His teachings, His love, His sacrifice - then all those things that bombard me lose their draw.  My focus changes.

I don't have the desire to fight traffic and crowds for those perfect gifts... but what I love more than anything is sweet time with my family and friends.  This season, this is my priority - for my time to be well spent on the those whom I hold dear.  Even with the miles that separate, I hope my family and friends know just how much they mean to me.

Relationships.  Encouragement.  Love.
Remembering our Savior, and celebrating His birth.
Humming my favorite carols...

"O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel."

... and rejoicing this Christmas.

 A couple of Chelsea's ornaments
 He's a professional you know...
 Last year's 'after Christmas' super cheap poinsettas.
 They don't like to have their picture taken.
My cozy evening. I am thankful.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Joyful Surrender

It’s one of those times again…. I have been sensing change on the horizon. The Lord has been doing a work in me. Thankfully, it’s been a gentle work, rather than my whole world crashing in around me as it did a few years ago during Chelsea’s battle with cancer.

This change is different. I am different. I am changed – because of what He showed us those last several years. The things we had to endure were horrible, devastating in many ways. Yet at the same time, we got to see the Lord move in a magnificent way.

So now, I trust Him.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I am at peace. There is a contentment even, in knowing that I don’t have to worry. God knows what I need better than I do. My focus simply needs to be on focussing on what is right and true, remembering the promises in His word. (Jer 29:11, Prov. 3:5,6 and so many more…) This time of year, when it’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos.... keeping the main thing the main thing is more important than ever.
Today is a new day.

I will face it surrendered, and with much JOY.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Banana Crepes (Grain Free, Protein Rich)

Banana Crepes (Grain Free, Protein Rich)

So I saw a great new recipe this morning, and decided to try it out right away. I love the idea of grain free simply because I know so many who are avoiding grains. I was surprised and delighted with the simplicity of this recipe. If it’s catching your eye, let me just say that you probably already have the ingredients on hand.

These Banana Crepes were impressive, and if you’re a foodie, than you’ll love the idea of getting your fruit and protein in such an easy, fast, delicious, REAL food way.

Here’s what you need:

1 Ripened Banana
2 eggs
butter, palm kernel oil, coconut oil or ghee for frying.

Simple Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil or butter in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-low heat. Mash banana with a fork and then add the eggs and whip with a fork. Spoon the batter into the oil.  Once they firm up, flip them once... just as you would a pancake.

At first, I was hesitant to mix the egg and banana flavors, but it really turned out well. It tasted more like crepes than it did egg. I didn’t top with anything this time, but it would be delicious with nutmeg and cinnamon or whatever else you normally would top pancakes with. 

It's a great way to use those ripe bananas that you may have in the freezer - just thaw them first.

With a healthy easy breakfast out of the way, I can spend my time on more important things....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Soupas! Portuguese Feast Roast

This is a recipe that I remember my dad and my uncles getting so excited about. I love how my Grandma Dutra could always bring the family together with a good meal.  It has a very distinct aroma and taste, and it seems people either love it or hate it. After my father passed, I went without Soupas for several years, until just a couple of years ago when my cousin made it for the family at the annual Yosemite camping trip. The aroma was amazing, the anticipation as it cooked unbearable... and that first bite.... Delightful! I'm not sure which I like better, the taste, or the wonderful family memories that come flooding back when I smell it cooking.

•4 lb chuck roast
•oil, salt, pepper, water
•4-6 cloves garlic
•2 med white onions
•4 sticks cinnamon
•3 small cans tomato sauce
•1 ounce or more ground cumin (to taste)
•1 1/2 cups red wine (optional)
• fresh spearmint (as much as you can fit in the pot)
•1 loaf Sourdough Bread

In a little oil, fry roast on each side, adding salt and pepper.

Put roast in a crock pot and cook for a couple of hours. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Add water to 1/2 - 3/4 way up the roast. Add tomato sauce, cumin, cinnamon and mint. Simmer several hours until meat falls apart and sauce thickens. The roast should be covered with liquid. Add the wine for the last hour of cooking. Adjust cumin, cinnamon to taste. If juice is too thick, and more water. If using a chuck roast, it will need at least 8 hours of cooking on high.

Strain and pour over thick slices of toasted sourdough bread. I love the flavor of the sourdough and the sauce together... even more than the beef. Enjoy!

 There is a roast under the onions and garlic.  Next time, I'm not going to use quite so much water.

Thick slices of sourdough french bread toasted work best...
and definitely make the flavors come together.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Incorporating KALE - Breakfast Scramble

I love kale, though I have to admit, I’m pretty limited in the ways that I know to prepare it. Yes, I love it in my Calde Verde soup (ground turkey- italian style, potatoes, garlic, onion, kale, italian seasonings)…. but other than in soups, I don’t use it much. Since I don’t use it much, obviously I don’t buy it much. But this year is different, thanks to my garden, and I now have kale that I need to use.

Kale is one of those super foods that I want to incorporate into our diets more. I’ve recently read that it’s “amazingly nutritious”. Amazingly?? Who can pass that up? Kale is great for protecting your health, providing you with a rich source of vitamins and minerals, and preventing cancer.

Here are a few facts that impressed me about this green giant:
It has large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, B6, manganese, calcium, copper and potassium.

Benefits of vitamin C alone include helping to reduce cell damage that results in inflammation (one of the primary causes of heart disease and autoimmune diseases). It helps to oxidize cholesterol, fight infections, and ladies, it renews collagen in our skin for a “healthy youthful appearance”.

There is so much more, but I realize that not all are interested in such facts. But for those interested, a few minutes googling kale can give you tons of information on how all this nutrition can affect cholesterol, osteoporosis, mental decline, eye damage/cataracts and more.

One of the most impressive facts to me is that the organosulphur compounds have been proven to be highly effective against many cancers, including stomach, colon, breast and ovarian cancers. It seems everyone has been impacted by cancer, and it seems to be happening more and more. I’m not saying kale is a cure for this, but I am willing to recognize it’s benefits and to incorporate it into our meals, hopefully helping our family stay as healthy as possible.

Breakfast Scramble:
1 egg (another superfood for another day)
1/2 tsp of butter (doesn't take much)
1 slice turkey bacon (cut into 1/2" pieces)
2 cloves garlic (that might be a bit much for some, but I love it... also a superfood)
2-3 kale leaves (stem removed, chopped)
2 tbsp Pepperjack cheese (shredded)
I crisp the bacon, add the butter, saute the kale for a few minutes before adding the garlic (more health benefits the less you cook it).  I bring it all to the center of the pan.  I scramble the egg and pour it over the mixture.  I let it cook until mostly solid, and then flip it like a pancake. I sprinkle a small amount of PJcheese on top for that added kick.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Favorites 10/30-11/5

All in all, it was a good week.  Tuesday was rough - but the other days more than made up for it.  Here are some of my favorite moments...
 Road trip...
Clouds and ponies...
I love entering Warm Springs....
Blue skies and crazy rock formations....
And snowball fights....
 I'm not alone with my passion for rocks...
The twins hounding...
Bumpy roads...
 And hidden mountain tops....
Beautiful ride home...
A new favorite place...

Chicken Phyllo Pie
Moroccan chicken, dried cherry, cinnamon
 Beautiful decor that doesn't even compare to my friend....
  Stained glass...

 Walks with my monkey...

 Changing seasons...
  And the best company.

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3,4

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Continuing with my theme of titling my posts with the first letter of the day of the week, I almost titled today's post, "Teary Tuesday".  It's early, but already I can tell it's going to be one of those days (insert big sigh here).

For most, today is simply Election Day - and this is my cue to remind you to get out there and vote.  I love how my friend Dave says it, "If you don't exercise your right to vote, you don't have a right to complain!".  If only you all could know Dave....

So today would be Chelsea Rae's 17th Birthday.  I watch her friends, and wonder what kind of things my baby would be doing.  What would her interests be?  There's a few given.  We probably would be going to the DMV today to test for her driver's license.  School would be causing grief and late nights working on projects.  There would be lots of giggles, texting and phone conversations - and yet at the same time there would be a maturity as she transformed into a young women.  Talk of college and dreams....  and Kate would want you all to know that she was the bestest big sister ever.

Where has the time gone? You should be here with me. I should be teasing you that I’m not going to let you get your drivers license until you’re 30.

New hairstyles, new music, new clothes…


Groans regarding homework and chores.

Drama over the little things.
Prayer over the big things.

Oh how I miss those times.

Today would be your day. Who knows how you would have wanted to celebrate?

I wonder about the little things… what would your favorite color be now. What kind of hair style would you chose. Would you have a rebellious streak, or would you be easy going as you go through these teen years – almost an adult...

Would you still have a heart for worship, or would you be so busy being busy?

I smile as I realize that your heart for worship now far exceeds anything we can grasp here on earth.


My heart aches as I miss my babe. No, this isn’t the way I planned for things to be at this time in my life.
Yet those who have been through trials and hardships – who haven’t given up – those are ones who truly know joy.

I have joy – in the midst of the trials. I have peace, even though I miss my baby. I have faith in God who loves me so much, and supernaturally carries me through. You may argue that He doesn’t care, or maybe even doesn’t exist. But that would be like trying to tell me that my best friend doesn’t exist. His presence has proven itself over and over in my life, so really, it doesn’t matter what others say or think.

I have hope in tomorrow. I have excitement, in the things that God is going to do in my life… and even more so, in the lives of others.

I have eternity.... with my baby.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
  • '"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"  Then He said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."                    ~ Revelation 21:1-5

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mellow Monday

There's nothing quite like a relaxing day after a busy week or two.  Time seems to be flying by faster than I can keep up.  My Monkey is loving first grade, and I am loving her being in first grade.  I had forgotten what quiet time was like, or lunch dates without kiddie menus.  About the time I start missing her, it's time for her to come home.  School is really working out rather nicely.

Today was one of those sweet days with a sweet friend.  We had set up our 'date' a few weeks ago, and the anticipation was fun as I was being taken to a new place.  We both loved the historic establishments in the area, and watched a man almost get blown away by a tornado of leaves.  The colors were stunning!  We laughed, and we laughed some more, not at the man of course.  Okay, maybe a little bit at the man.   It was mellow, it was easy, and it was nice. 

Monday migraines are not so much fun, so when Monkey got home we cuddled and snuggled and made beaded necklaces.  More mellow, as it should be.

I've had some blogging ideas that I may incorporate later this week that may be fun...and could help me be a bit more consistant with my random posts.  But for now I must go, as Monkey is ready to read "This Little Pumpkin".  Time for this Mellow Monday to wind down....

Mellow Monday keywords:  Morris, Meriwether, Monkey

Friday, October 29, 2010

Parade of Recipes!

Hey Guys!

So I'm heading out the door in a few minutes, but couldn't resist posting this link to some great recipes.  It's from a blog I follow regularly - Heavenly Homemakers (you can always find the link down on the right of this page).

Several people have all linked together to share some of their favorite recipes, so if you have a blog with recipes, feel free to do the same ( A-hem - Bev - cough cough).  It's a fabulous resource for some great real food foods!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Can you guess who the star was in tonight's dinner?  Nope, not the pork that cooked all day in the crockpot, then baked in the oven to 'goo-ify' the bbq sauce.  No... not the applesauce (yes Kristin, Granny's recipe ;o).   That's right, it was the brown rice!

That just doesn't sound right, now does it?  But it's true.  When preparing the meal, I didn't know what to make to go along with the pork and apples.  Plain brown rice just didn't have much appeal.  I love brown rice, but normally I make it with curry, or jalapeno mango sausage, or with stir fried vegies.  But tonight, I just wasn't prepared.  I grew up eating similar meals to this, but with processed applesauce, and even worse, processed rice mixes.  Farmhouse Herb & Butter was the family favorite for many years.  It wasn't until I was married and cooking that they stopped making it (or at least I couldn't find it in the stores) so we switched to a cheddar broccoli mix.  Jeff loved it, and I loved the convenience of simply throwing it in the microwave. 

But those mixes are history for us now as many of you know I don't tolerate all the chemicals so well these days. We've moved on to the much healthier option of brown rice.  But sometimes brown rice just seems bland.

That's why I was so excited tonight at how well this meal turned out.  Earlier in the day I had cut into a mango that just wasn't juicy enough for my smoothie, so I had saved it thinking I'd just eat it later as a snack. (Yes, I realize I have a mango addiction....)
 It ended up being the perfect addition to the rice!  I also added some fresh garlic, chives and a mini pepper, both fresh from the garden.  My bland brown rice that I had cooked was suddenly bursting with delicious, non packaged, flavors!

I am loving how much easier it is becoming to eat REAL foods.  I hadn't ever realized just how many processed foods we had eaten, and the adjustment has definitely taken time.  But I have learned that it really doesn't have to be that much more work, and we might even be saving some cash in the process.  Keeping fresh food in the house is the key, and it really is rewarding when something turns out so much better than expected.... like the star tonight.... Mango Brown Rice.  Yum!

What are some of your favorite brown rice recipes?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pork Loin – Cinnamon Style

Trader Joe’s had a great price on Pork Loin yesterday, so I decided to surprise Jeff with one of my dinner experiments. I’m sure there are recipes out there somewhere similar to this – I just never seem to take the time to look for them. Anyway, dinner turned out fabulous so I thought I would share a very casual recipe with you. I’m not one to use measurements, but with these ingredients I don’t think it matters much.

I didn’t think to take a picture, but I have to admit, it sure turned out pretty!

In a gallon ziploc bag I added the following ingredients:

Fresh garlic – chopped
Brown Rice Flour (about ¼ cup)

I played with the bag to mix it thoroughly, and then added the pork loin to the bag, played with it some more until the loin was completely coated with the mixture.

Then I seared the loin on all sides in my hot cast iron skillet with a little bit of butter. This only took a few minutes, then I removed the loin and set it into a 9x13.

Next I added a sweet onion (sliced) and a couple gala apples (chunked, skin removed) to the hot pan. I LOVE how cast iron sears for nice crisp edges. I didn’t cook them completely, but just long enough to give them some brown edges.  Cast iron is also fun for the sizzle sound factor... my family is always impressed!

I then spooned the onion/apple mix over the pork (mmm…  golden raisins would be good tossed in here, and maybe a few pine nuts). I then poured the remaining seasonings from the bag over the top. I covered the pan with aluminum foil and baked at 400 for about 40 minutes. I then removed the foil and baked for another 10 minutes or so, just to dry out the edges a bit.

What resulted was a wonderful, juicy, flavorful festive fall meal that we will have to do again soon. I had some homemade applesauce going while it was baking, along with a vegie mix ( cooked in the same cast iron, as it was just sitting there…) of fresh green beans, zuchinni (yes, both from the garden), onion and turkey bacon seasoned with pepper and garlic.

It didn’t take long, it was easy, and even the cleanup was simple.
Let me know if you decide to try it, or have a similar recipe that you enjoy ;o)

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Every Morning

So there I am this morning, sitting on this perfect bench. Enjoying the serenity of the crisp fall morning. The geese had spent some time diving for breakfast, and now had moved over to more shallow ground. The fish have begun their breakfast as well, and I watch as several leap out of the air, only to fall back making a most delightful splash. Some are close enough that it seems I can hear the slap as their bodies hit the water. It makes me wish Jeff were sitting here with me, since he is the mighty fisherman and all.

I hadn’t been out of the house much last week due to ‘the crud’, but this morning I had to be up early, not only to get my Monkey to school and prepped for school pictures, but to be at the school to have my picture taken. You see, I get a fancy volunteer badge to wear on the days I go in to help in her class. Monkey is especially excited about this ‘offiical identity’ I will have, and she hopes that I get the gray background like she chose to have for her pictures this year. She makes me giggle. (Side note: So how come we didn’t ever get to chose colors and backgrounds for our pictures?)

So having had cabin fever the last several days made this morning especially nice. I had expected rain, so to have sunshine was a sweet treat, and it was my intention to soak up as much of it as I could.

The park was quiet except for the wildlife. It was perfect. I sat there praising and thanking the Lord for my family. As I’m thinking about Jeff, I get a sweet text from him. Have I mentioned that the Lord’s timing is perfect?

After having sat there for a while, I reluctantly got up to head home, mentally motivating myself with my to do list. Yes, I have simplified things, but I still have lists with much to do, lol.

I start walking down the path, and am approached by this sweet old looking dog named Ernie. I notice that Ernie only has 3 legs. Poor old fella. Ernie’s person isn’t far behind with 4 more rescue dogs circling around her, one even being pulled in a wagon because he was abused and can’t walk much. As I’m petting Ernie’s head, it’s then that I learn that Ernie had lost his back left leg to bone cancer 6 months ago and it has now spread to his lungs. Ernie is 12.

The similarities (yes, I realize Ernie is a dog…) hit me like a brick, and I am flooded with memories and emotions of my Chelsea Rae. Left leg (she was going to have her femur removed), spread to lungs, 13 years old.

And he looks up with me with those sweet, big brown eyes.

“Really?” (insert sarcastic tone here)

No, I didn’t say it out loud, that’s the only word that describes my mindset. Did I mention that I was hit by a brick? Yeah… make that a ton of bricks.

Did I mention that God’s timing is perfect?? Yeah, so maybe not sometimes.

Okay, maybe I don’t always ‘feel’ like His timing is perfect…. But His timing really is perfect. Trusting in that truth, I surrender. I decide not to step back up on my pity pot, but instead, I brace myself for what’s to come.

My agenda for the day has come to a screeching halt. Oh, I will still get some things done, but my mental state will be focussed on so much more. It has slowed me down, but that’s a good thing. As I dig into His word I will be refreshed. Already, from a simple facebook update, I have been encouraged and loved, and the simple compassion that others have towards me brings me to tears. There is nothing quite as rewarding as being genuinely, unconditionally loved.

And if  they ’love me that much – then how much more does my heavenly Father love me?

Enough to send His one and only Son on my behalf. He knows and understands my pain even more than I do. I am thankful that I have the peace that only He can bring.

And I will continue to praise Him.
"Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
 "Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
       ~Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960)