Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Hills are Alive

Oh my stars.

It is nearly Easter and I don't know where the month of March has gone!!!!! Let's see.

Well, we had breakfast for dinner:

And I made a lot of granola about 5 times. At Baked and Wired in Georgetown, they call their granola "Hippie Crack." I think this is a pretty accurate description of granola (mine, not theirs, but theirs is good too.) Cereal of the gods.

We also had our fair share of froyo:

Wok this way:

Of course there was a Chick-Fil-A stop this past weekend (what's a road trip without one?? Except when said road trip occurs on a Sunday, which they always do. But I can't hate on Chick-Fil-A for that. Never mess with Sunday*):

I also perfected a sweet-potato and black bean and chicken burrito with a smokey chipotle crema. Errrr maaa gaaaa. You won't even believe how good this is. It's a cosmic explosion of healthy Latino flavaa. The chicken is included because my husband is a starving carnivore,  but I personally don't think you have to have it:

And then I made a little reminder for myself after having a few too many chocolate Easter eggs in the office today:

So it's clear that we didn't give up any sort of food for Lent. Holy smokes, good thing I work out:

My brother and me: foosball champions of the world
In reality, we do eat really well. I guess by well, I mean 'heartily.' And most of the time 'healthily.' Michael and I both really enjoy cooking, and while I definitely make most of the meals, he certainly helps a lot. Mainly when dealing with chicken. I don't know what happened in my 26th year of life but for some reason, raw chicken now gives me the heebeegeebees. It's squirmy and fleshy and if I keep thinking about it I will get nauseated.

When we are home together, the majority of our conversation and hang-out time happens in the kitchen while cooking, or at the dinner table while eating. Oh and we have a new spot: on the sofa while eating.....drum roll please......kettle corn. I've told a few friends this: KETTLE CORN HAS CHANGED OUR MARRIAGE FOR THE BETTER. You can quote me on that. Michael's brother recently bestowed upon us his kettle corn-making secrets and it's incredible. I actually don't exactly know the process (Michael is the master here,) but I will find out and I will have to write about it. It is that good. I'd be selfish to not share it with you.

Ok and honestly, I really do work out. Actually, I think that is too strong of a phrase. Perhaps "lead a healthy lifestyle" is more accurate. There's no way I could eat the dinners we make if I didn't move my body somehow. I recently ran the USA half-marathon with a few friends, but I only ran once or twice a week in preparation for the race. I've discovered that running actually hurts my body (go figure) if I do it more often than that.

I also am coaching this season for Girls on the Run at the National Cathedral School. This is SO FUN and actually surprisingly energy-draining. Keeping track of 14 girls running around the National Cathedral is:

a. pretty cool
b. rather difficult
c. definitely really good mom practice for me for 12 years from now
d. making me think of creative ways to get these girls to keep running
e. all of the above

It's E. Duh. Here are my little balls of energy:

I usually come home from an afternoon spent with these gals and am exhausted, famished and ready for dinner. Gotta prioritize! Gotta re-fuel! Gotta eat! And then: Gotta rest!

*Which brings me to my conclusion. Alas, it is time for bed, and a date with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is incredibly compelling, yet somehow still manages to put me to sleep in less than 5 minutes. (It's the kind of book you should be wide awake for.) Anyway, gotta rest! Like on Sundays, the day of rest. Which is why this song rocks my socks:

Yppah - Never Mess with Sunday.

Goodnight, sleep tight!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Game Changer

Every once and awhile, a recipe enters your life and changes you forever.

This happens to be one of them.

S'more Pie entered my life one wintry night a few months ago when my dear friend Amy made it for our community group. It was love at first bite.
This is Amy. 

But somehow, the recipe got lost in my recipe folder in my gmail inbox. (I can't recommend enough how crucial it is to have a recipe folder in your gmail inbox. Or maybe this is what Pinterest does? You pin the recipes you like? I would be lost forever on that site.) So it wasn't until this week that I unearthed its glory once more. And it was perfect timing, since it was a friend's birthday last night. It's not like you need a reason to bake... like ever.... but why not celebrate something???
Fear the fluff. 
Here is what you need:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can buy the crumbs, but it's fresher/better/more fun to crush up your own graham crackers)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows. 1 (7oz) container is enough)

And here is what you do: 
  • Pre-heat oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugars in a big bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, crumbs, baking powder, and salt. Pour the flour mixture into the sugar mixture. 
  • Side note: I have a beautiful Kitchen-Aid stand mixer from my lovely friend Claire, buuuut it's hard to clean so 99% of my baking is done with a spatula and the strength of my arm. As was the case here. 
  • Anyway, once your dough is made, separate it into two halves. Press half of the dough into a GREASED pie plate. Use your hands - they work so much better than a spatula. You'll have just enough to cover the bottom and go up the sides. 
  • Then, break your chocolate bars and arrange them evenly in one layer over the dough. You want to cover as much of the dough as you can. 
  • Next, scoop out the marshmallow fluff with a spatula and drop in big globs all over the chocolate. THIS CAN GET STICKY. But it's ok. It works out. Just do your best to cover as much of the chocolate layer as you can. 
  • Last, put your remaining half of the dough on top of the fluff. To do this, I flattened the dough on a cutting board and then sort of just patched it all over the top of the pie little-by-little. If your dough is sticking to the cutting board, sprinkle the board with a bit of flour. I didn't do this but it probably would help since the dough is sticky. 
  • Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, but I would start watching it around 18 minutes or so as ovens vary so much. The top should be golden brown and crusty when done. The fluff kind of goes crazy and expands a lot, but it deflates again while it cools. You technically could serve this hot, but I think it would hold together better if you let it cool nearly all the way before serving. 

Birthday surprises. Love them!

One last note about the recipe -- if you are serving the pie to more than 10 people, I would probably double the recipe, and make it in a cake pan instead of a pie plate. The original recipe I followed (found here) is actually for S'more bars, but I think S'more pie is more fun.

S'more pie? Yes please.

Now remember, it is eternally more important to feed your soul instead of your belly. Don't get me wrong, food is pretty high on a lot of people's life-happiness list, but.... it's definitely temporal, if you know what I mean. "Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?" Why yes, this makes sense. Therefore, so as to not neglect your soul, this is from Eric Metaxas' Bonhoeffer, which I have been wanting to read for ages and have finally started:

"I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer.... Of course, it is also possible to read the Bible like any other book, that is to say from the point of view of textual criticism, etc., there is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary, "pondering them in our heart," so it will be with the words of the Bible. Only if we will venture to enter the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us alone with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible..."

Merry baking and merry Good Book reading. It's food for your soul.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Argentine Pope

I've been pretty excited about the recent papal election.

I can't help it -- it's in my blood. You see, I am my father's daughter, and my father is a big lover of the history of the church, St. Peter's, the papacy, and of course, the bishop of Rome. And he is an endless source of knowledge, not just on the history of the church, but basically on all of history in general. Sounds like a sweeping statement, but I am serious.

He's pretty legit.

I know nothing at all in comparison to my dad, but because he gets jazzed about it, I get jazzed about it.

To prove my point, here is a little excerpt from the countless emails we have sent back and forth on the subject:

...And given the fact the that overwhelming majority of the current cardinals where "given their red hats" by either JPII or Benedict, both of whom were very conservative, means that the new pope will almost certainly be conservative on all the above issues. BUT the real question will be "style", "personableness" and leadership/management ability. For example, it's a long shot but Cardinal Timothy Dolan of NY is being talked about. He is very warm and personable. (It would be a first that a US cardinal was elected and some say that can't happen yet, but curiously, the diminishing role of the US abroad makes it more possible because previously no one wanted a super-power pope from a super-power country. Same reasoning would say, don't look for a Chinese pope.) There's one African and one Argentinian who are possibilities. I think it would be healthy for the church to have a pope not from Europe.

That's about all I know so far!
I love this stuff. It's far better than football.
Pope Papa

Oh I agree, it's better than football. Dad basically got it right on February 12th, the day after Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. The pope is Argentinian! Be still my heart. This is mi pais. Ok not really -- I don't have any claim on Argentina, but I did spend seven months of my life there and I really, really loved it. Here's a small glimpse:

That first picture is Roberto... I spent a day fishing and hiking with him in Patagonia. By the end of the day, he asked me if he could be the godfather to my children. I'll have to track him down in a few years. The 3rd to last picture is Eli and I with sweet Alicia, our Argentinian madre, who knit the ponchos we had on. And of course, there was plenty of pasta-making involved during my stay with Alicia y Jose. After all, just like Pope Francis, my host family was of Italian decent. 

Pope Francis has a mighty burden to carry as the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, and it seems to me that he is well aware of it: one of the very first things he said as the pope was to ask for prayer for his leadership. And then, he bid his well-wishers goodbye. I can't say it any better than him: 

"Good night, and have a good rest." 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stationary Drawer Makeover

The title of this post may lead you to believe that I actually am going to tell you how to organize your stationary drawer.

Don't be fooled. I think anyone with half a brain can figure this out on their own, but I also think there are probably countless how-to-organize-your-stationary posts in existence.

I also haven't spent two weeks doing nothing but organizing my stationary drawer, as one might think would be the result of my brief hiatus from ze blog vorld. Au contraire, life has been blooming (a direct reference to the fact that it is now March -- halleluia!) with exciting happenings in this neck of the woods.

Ok. One two three. I'm pregnant!!

Syke. Sorry, I'm sorry, I really shouldn't do that. I love doing that. I really shouldn't do that. I've already knocked a cumulative total of 9 years (averaging 3 years each) off the lives of my mother, father and brother with these little jokes of mine. I'll stop. Because one of these days in the next few years , I really am going to be preggo (hopefully) and wanting eggos and legos. Comprendo?

Now, according to previous musings, I have shed light on two things (yea right, probably 18 million things) about our little apartment:

1) Well, I already said it, namely that it is little.
2) That I keep a lot of stuff in drawers because there is just no other place to put things.

Something I haven't shared is that I really love writing letters and cards. And of course picking out fun stamps from the post office to stick on these letters and cards. I like to picture what my friend or grandma looks like as she reads the little note from me when it arrives in their mailbox. It seriously makes me happy! Not to mention, I love love love receiving mail too. I save most every note or letter I get because it is a thoughtful little morsel of love from your friend or grandma who sent it.

Catching a theme here? Yes, most of the time it is Michael's Grandma Lee who writes to us. I love it. And of course my mom sends me newspaper clippings and "Love Is" cartoons from the Dallas Morning News and Park Cities People. I love it.

The issue lately is that I have been a little lackluster about writing letters, and there is a reason for it: I never dare open my stationary drawer (back to point #2 above) for fear that something is going to jump out at me. I mean not really. But sort of! It is a mess of cards, envelopes, little bundles of thank you cards, congratulation cards, birthday cards, just because cards (this is the majority of my collection), and notebook paper. (Notebook paper? Really?? From 5th grade, I'm sure.)

So clearly, I needed to organize my drawer. And while doing so, I came across a problem and I really don't know what to do about it:

You catch my drift, I hope.

What do you do with your old personalized stationary if your name changes?!??? Really. I am quite stumped. This should never happen to someone on her A-game as she would have already used her personalized stationary as she dutifully wrote letters on a regular basis her whole life, but clearly, I am very rarely on my A-game.

I really can't think of what to do. Ok, well truthfully I have two ideas:

1) Use them for my to-do/grocery lists (this just doesn't seem right to me.)
2) Pray that my brother has a daughter one day and names her Carey Elizabeth. (I mean, why wouldn't he??)

Other than these two ideas, I'm at a loss. I even googled "what to do with personalized stationary if your name changes?" and there's nothing. If this has ever happened to you, please let me know what you did. But don't tell me to throw it all away. That is some thick card stock and I refuse to leave a bigger carbon footprint than I already am. Hmmmph.

Anyway, I'm glad to finally have this tiny corner of my life a bit more organized. I no longer fear the beast waiting to attack when I open my stationary drawer. Oh and the other thing I really like about writing letters besides knowing that it will bring a morsel of love to the recipient is the fact that there is absolutely no technology needed whatsoever when you pick up a pen, open a card and write words on paper. No technology either when you stick a stamp on a letter. Lord knows me and technology don't mesh well. A few weeks ago, I borrowed a friend's Kindle charger cord because another friend let me borrow her Kindle and I was nervous I'd be stuck on a flight  home from San Francisco with no power left on the Kindle. Can you imagine anything worse??? Being stuck on a plane without a book to read??? Not I, said the fly. So anyway, when my friend gave me her Kindle charger, I promptly swung it around and threw it in my glass of water next to me.

Way to go, flopsy.

Guess I'm making a trip to Best Buy.

(Turns out, the charger still works -- victory!)

I'm sticking with old fashioned page-turners. As in, you have to physically turn the pages while reading.

The moral of the story is that my new organized stationary drawer is already a win because today, I went outside in this BEAUTIFUL weather and wrote a letter.

Oh M Gee. I can't believe I'm showing off my non-painted, dry, winter toes.

Please forgive me.

I'm over it.