Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sauteed Greens with Happy Eggs

The best way to quickly learn to prepare fast, easy, and healthy meals is to have a baby. I'm convinced. Before Vivian was born I had an arsenal of very nutritious recipes that I could make whenever I wanted and take however long I wanted to prepare them. But not so anymore! (Needless to say.) It's so easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits when you have a baby, are working full time, or have too much going on for any other reason, but it really doesn't have to take any more time to eat well than to just fill your growling stomach with fast food or otherwise overly-processed convenience foods. The key is just finding the right recipes! Here's one of my favorites that I've been eating quite frequently lately: sauteed greens (usually kale) topped with a couple of local eggs over easy. (As an aside: if you're still buying eggs at the grocery store, stop immediately. Besides all the disgusting details of why you shouldn't come within ten feet of factory eggs, just taste an egg from your local farmer who feeds his/her hens according to their natural diet, and you'll never go back - there is no comparison!)
It's impossible to find a better lunch companion than this!
Just warm some coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Throw in some minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so, then add a heaping pile of kale, torn or cut in pieces. I toss the kale around a bit to spread the coconut oil evenly, then put a lid on the skillet. Wait just a couple minutes, until your kale turns vibrant green, then pour some lemon juice (the amount of juice depends on how lemony you like your greens) over the kale, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, toss everything around a little bit, and slide it all onto a plate. Add a bit more coconut oil to the same skillet, quickly cook your eggs, and then serve them on top of the greens. The whole process doesn't take more than ten minutes, and I find this meal so delicious and satisfying!

What are your best quick and healthy meals?

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Wow, December has whirled by and 2013 is nearly upon us! I haven't been able to get anything posted until now because I've just been too tired to get around to it! Clint has been on break for the whole month, so I picked up extra shifts at work. It was really great to get extra work, but it sure wore me out!

Towards the end of November, I finally finished my niece Briella's quilt and was able to send it back to her with my parents when they visited for Thanksgiving. Overall, I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and I hope "The Belle" enjoys it for a very long time!
This is my sweetie pie niece laying on her quilt. Could she be any cuter?

I was also able to whip out some stockings just in time for Christmas. I'm happy with the way they turned out too, although I admit that they're not very useful. They're so long and skinny that not much fits into them.
Vivian's is on the left, Clint's in the middle, and mine is on the right.

Speaking of Christmas, it is so much more fun with a baby! Vivian really is the delight of our lives, and we absolutely loved sharing such a special time with her.
Caught in action giving her endless pounder a good whack with the hammer.

Studying her new toy.

I like to wrap things in plain brown paper and twine. It's so much nicer than all the glitz and glamor.

A Christmas morning fire. My heart could burst.

Also this month, as part of my Re-education, I've been slowly reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I'm only about 1/3 of the way through, so I'm still suspending judgment, but I will say that so far I don't love it, I don't hate it . . . it's just very interesting. I've never read an author like Dickens before. Anyone out there have any opinions on Bleak House or Dickens?

Lastly, I want to share with you something that I'm absolutely over the moon about. This month Clint and I began sponsoring Molika through Transitions Global's Project EveryGirl. Many of you know that the issue of human trafficking is very near and dear to my heart, and that in the past I've been deeply involved in working against it. For the past few years however, I haven't been a part of any direct action, but have been eagerly on the lookout for the right opportunity. When Clint and I heard about Project EveryGirl and the chance to sponsor an individual girl in her process of restoration with Transitions Global (an organization we visited while in Cambodia), we knew we had discovered just the thing. After visiting Transitions Global, touring their home, and learning about their program, we were deeply impressed with the organization and really wanted to find a way to be a part of the amazing work they're doing. More than four years after our visit, we're finally getting that chance! If you also want to make a direct impact in the lives of those devastated by human trafficking, I can't recommend Transitions Global enough. They have an amazing program and are making a real, lasting difference in the lives of a lot of young women. Below is Molika's profile. There are many other girls needing sponsors too. I encourage you to check out the website to see which one inspires you!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Fall is the time to plant garlic, and as garlic is one of my favorite foods, I planted enough bulbs to almost completely cover the entire area of my two raised beds. The only area not planted in garlic is growing kale. I think I could live the rest of my life on nothing but garlic and kale.

I planted four varieties: Inchelium Red, Spanish Roja, Music, and Romanian Red. The night before planting I carefully separated individual cloves from the bulb. On planting day I placed the bulbs about five inches apart, labeled each row, and covered the cloves with one to two inches of soil.

Then I used our reel mower to chop up a big pile of fallen leaves. (In this picture the leaves don't look very chopped, but I assure you, they are.) I raked the chopped leaves into a cardboard box and dumped the box over my newly planted garlic cloves as a layer of mulch.

I had a very good leaf cruncher for a helper. She meticulously crunched one leaf at a time while studying every aspect of each leaf and taking breaks to chew on the stems.

And now all I have to do is . . . wait. The hardest part! I'm so looking forward to seeing shoots peeking through the leaves this spring!

Besides the amazing flavor and culinary diversity of garlic, it's pretty much a miracle substance. I call it a "substance" because, well, what is garlic, really? Is it a food? A spice? An herb? A medicine? It seems to fit into each of these categories but none explain it fully. It's too diverse to be pinned down to a single label. Did you know that garlic has been used medicinally for over 5000 years? It's antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It's lipid lowering and anti-inflammatory. Garlic is great for all sorts of infections, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, imbalances in intestinal flora, boosting the immune system, warts, cold and flu, ear infections, burns, circulation problems, and yeast infections. In fact, garlic is good for almost any ailment; the only time it's not recommended is around the time of surgery because of its blood thinning properties.

I was very intimidated by the thought of growing my own garlic. I have no idea why. Perhaps because it isn't anything like your typical garden vegetable, but so far the process is completely non-intimidating. We shall see if I'm singing the same tune this spring.

One of my favorite uses for garlic is in my famous hummus. I like a really garlicky, lemony hummus, and this is just the recipe for it. What about you? What are some of your favorite garlic recipes? I hope to be needing lots of them this spring and summer!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Historical Re-Education

Earlier in the week, I stumbled upon a great resource for my historical re-education. It's a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class. It features episodes 20-45 minutes in length, on all sorts of different historical topics and events. Clint and I listened to "Who was Tokyo Rose?" the other night, and it was very interesting and enlightening. I'm eager to listen to more and expand my knowledge!

As a side note while we're on the topic of podcasts, I've also been listening to a podcast from one of my favorite blogs (Chiot's Run) called Cultivate Simple. The podcast is described as, "A chronicle of a simple life." If you're interested in gardening, raising chickens, living simply, and the like, I really recommend the blog and podcast. But be prepared, it'll have you itching to begin all sorts of projects and read all kinds of new books. I love it! (Poor Clint though, I'm already petitioning for some chickens and a chicken tractor, thanks in part to this podcast!)

Back to the topic of history, I'm particularly interested in learning more about the Native Americans. I want to know more about their day-to-day lives, their herbal medicines, their agricultural practices, etc. Any book recommendations? I would also like to learn more about the Amish. Yes, I grew up in Amish country, had Amish friends and an Amish babysitter, but I don't know all that much about them, and I think my ignorance in this area is a shame. Plus, there is quite a bit about their lives that I admire and respect, and I'm so interested to know more. Any recommendations there? Lastly (for now), I would love to learn more about the Aztecs, particularly their agricultural practices. I recently read that they obtained seven harvests per year, the most productive agricultural system in world history. Wow. How did they do it? Why has this practice been discontinued? I want to know more!

What interesting things have you been reading or listening to lately? What have you been learning about? I would love to know!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Re-Education

Looking back at my educational experience, I sometimes wonder, "What did I do during all those years that I was in school?" Really, how did I receive a high school diploma without having ever read one scrap of authors like Dickens, Thoreau, Twain, or Hemingway? On top of that, my lack of historical knowledge is simply astounding. Historically I'm in even worse shape than I am in literature. I'm genuinely embarrassed about how little I know about past events.

Well, not being one to sit on my duff in the face of such dire circumstances, I've decided to embark on my own re-education. I'm going back and reading any great, classic, or important works of literature that I've missed, and I'm re-reading the few that I was fortunate enough to be exposed to in high school. I have a couple lists here and here that I'm using as a loose starting point for the building my literary knowledge. Many I will read, some I won't. Some I already have. Some I will re-read. (By the way, these lists come from a high school student I know. She's one intelligent and admirable young lady! I will be a happy mother indeed if Vivian has similar attributes to her when she's grown. This student has an amazing mom who I suspect has something to do with her daughter's excellent character . . . ) I may write out my own official list eventually, but for now I'm taking a more relaxed approach and just reading whatever I come across that fits into my idea of educating myself in important works of literature.

So, what about you? What are some of your favorite classics or even modern "must-reads" that I should add to my informal list? What is the one book (ok, or a few books if you're like me and too much of a book-lover to narrow it down to one) I absolutely must read? I'm also especially interested in books about historical events. Any recommendations there?

Update 11/10/12: Ok, so I made a list. I can't help it; I love lists! Link here or you can click on the "Re-Education Reading List" tab.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Very Bookish Birthday

Yesterday Clint and I celebrated our 32nd and 26th birthdays, respectively. If the day was an indication of the year to come, then I'm liking the look of 26. I'm liking it a lot. My birthday was filled with so much love that I'm positively overflowing from it all.

I told my sister that my one birthday wish was for Vivian and I to Skype with her and Briella, my brand new niece! Briella Ann was born on October 7th, but since we live exactly 724.06 miles away from each other, Skype is the closest I can get to this little sweetheart for now! Getting to see her was a wonderful birthday gift. Isn't she absolutely beautiful and just as sweet as could be? Vivian was so excited to "meet" her cousin! She got really hyper and turned into a little wild woman. I could barely keep her contained. She wanted Briella to come over and play!

Clint came home early from work, and while Vivian was taking an extra long afternoon nap for us we shared our free birthday entree from Moe's - yum! Then we exchanged gifts with each other. I had gotten Clint a nice new pair of wool socks, and he gave me . . .
. . . a book about making my own clothes that has been on my wish list for ages! Since my parents got me a sewing machine for my birthday, he couldn't have picked out a better gift! I can't wait to get into it and start experimenting, but I'm forcing myself to finish Briella's quilt and some long overdue birthday gifts before I embark on any other projects. Clint is a really good gift-giver. He puts a lot of thought into it and always comes up with exactly the right way to say, "I love you."

My mother-in-law gave me a little money to buy myself something, so I marched myself and Vivian right down to our local independent bookstore, Avid, and just happened to catch them on their one year anniversary! I finally picked up a copy of one of my all-time favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird, and also chose Wendell Berry's Bringing it to the Table. For Vivian I picked out a simple animal board book and also another BabyLit board book, Dracula. I thought it was fitting with Halloween just around the corner. Have you seen these BabyLit books yet? They're amazing! They are board book versions of classics. Our first one was Jane Eyre (another all-time favorite book of mine, and is probably Viv's favorite book too), and we also have Alice in Wonderland. I'm planning on A Christmas Carol for a stocking stuffer, and the other two current BabyLit books are Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet. And I hear three new one are due out in the spring. I'm not excited or anything.

I also received a completely unexpected package in the mail from my dear Sharon.
Three board books for Vivian about famous artists (how amazing is that?! I especially adore the van Gogh one) and an awesome quilting book for me! This is another book I'm refusing to let myself get into until I finish some of my lingering projects! The package also included some amazing fabric, selections that are just exactly my taste. (Sharon is another really good gift-giver.) They will be included in the quilt Sharon, Maggy, and I are all sewing our own versions of together. And check out that handmade card! It's easily my favorite thing from the whole package. So creative and full of love! And I literally had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I opened it. She included TWO unbelievably beautiful pendants from her etsy shop Wrought. I was blown away by her generosity, creativity, and friendship.

I also received sweet cards, texts, and facebook posts from other friends and family. I was totally feeling all the love!

And finally, I'll include a few photos from our hike up Tray Mountain on the day before our birthday. What more could I wish for than to spend a beautiful fall day in the mountains with my two favorite people in the world? Nothing, there is nothing more I could wish for.
Pre-hike. Just before setting off!
At the summit! Viv sure does love her dad.
Standing tall on the highest point of the mountain.
Vivian has started pointing at everything. I just can't help but squeeze her and kiss those sweet cheeks!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Our spring garden had been almost too perfect. Every single crop I planted grew beautifully. We had more produce than we could manage, no pests, and no weed problems. Enter summer garden. We traveled to Indiana when all my seedlings were only about an inch tall and not ready for transplant, but I had to plant them anyway because I knew they wouldn't survive in their trays with no watering. A few did manage to survive the heat and intense sun out in the garden beds while we were gone though. However, I had no trellis or support for those that did make it, so the garden quickly became an unmanageable tangle. The cucumber plants succumbed to powdery mildew and most of the small number of fruits that survived were eaten by worms. The okra was knocked over in a rainstorm. My purple basil was covered in tiny worms. Etc. Etc. Well I'd finally had enough. It was time to reclaim my garden! Last week I finally weeded out all the weak, dying, and diseased plants and set about nursing the survivors back to health. I discovered that my main problem is the caterpillar of a moth, commonly known as armyworm or cutworm.

These caterpillars were all over my tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil, gnawing down the leaves to mere skeletons. I got so angry at those little suckers that I just began squishing them with my bare hands. It was so disgustingly satisfying. Disgusting to have lime green caterpillar guts squirting all over my hands, but so satisfying to pop the fat little bodies that were full of stolen food, my food. The garden almost instantly began to improve! So now, every morning and every evening, I grab a gardening glove (much better than the bare hand approach) and go caterpillar hunting. I don't stop until I've successfully squashed at least ten of them, turning over leaves, inspecting new chew marks, and keeping an eye out for any egg masses (which can contain 200-300 eggs!). The first few days I easily reached and surpassed my goal within minutes, but this manual removal seems to be doing the trick as it becomes increasingly more difficult each day to meet my squish quota, and the plants continue to look better and better.

With the infestation on the decline, I thought it would be safe to plant some seeds for the fall garden. I seeded two kales, two onions, a carrot, a leek, and spinach, all of which have sprouted already! I'm so looking forward to keeping the garden pest-free and enjoying some delicious fall greens!