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Greek Appetizer

IMG_462579218We were going to dinner at a friend’s house and I was asked to bring an appetizer. I had cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions fresh from the garden, so this is what I took. My friend Michelle gave me this recipe years ago, and it’s light and refreshing, perfect for the end of summer.

Greek Appetizer

1 large tomato

1 large cucumber

1/2 red onion

12 oz. Greek Vinaigrette (I used Wishbone)

8 oz. cream cheese

crackers or pita chips

Chop the three vegetables, removing seeds from the cucumber as you go. Mix them together and pour at least 8 oz of the Greek Vinaigrette over them. Allow to marinate for at least one hour, the longer the better. When ready to serve, spread the cream cheese into a circle, like frosting a cake. Pour the vegetables over the cream cheese and serve with crackers.

 

I’m Done with Being Done

fightingI’m Done!

It’s a statement used more and more often these days when relaying a story that involves frustration or anger, indicating that a person is ready to walk away. It seems like it started out as a way to explain how someone broke up with their gym membership or cellphone company, but now it is used in everyday conversation about relationships with others. What’s interesting to me is that people have various ways of regarding this statement, where one person may mean, ‘I’m done with this conversation’ and the other thinks, ‘I’m done with this relationship’. The misunderstanding can continue to the point of a break up, and even divorce. I know because I have seen it happen more than once.

Making statements like I’m done is an indication that you need better communication skills in the relationship. When we were dating I was known for my dramatic exits; making my case and leaving the room/building/state before my guy could say anything. I made it so much more difficult to begin the conversation again, and then to move on to resolution because I was done. Not forever, but until I could win again. Not only was this unfair to my guy, it was so damaging to us. You see, even though I wasn’t ending our relationship with these statements, I was severing our connection. 

How can we do this better?

By committing to staying in the conversation. Maybe someone needs some physical space, that’s normal, but honor the relationship by staying in the overall conversation. When I began to see the damage I had added to our already fragile relationship, I told my guy I would stop exiting the stage and I did. Sometimes it was very difficult to stand firm, but it made a huge difference in how we resolved conflict.

Avoid making sweeping declarations of any kind, especially when you are angry or frustrated. Saying things like I’m done serves no purpose other than to make you feel better in the moment. You may think you are standing up for yourself, but in a marriage, you are shutting everything down, including yourself. It is so much harder to restart after these kinds of statements than it is to continue working.

Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Learn from someone who has been there, how to choose words that will invest in the relationship, instead of killing it. Make the choice to remove these kinds of declarations from your vocabulary because they do not benefit anyone.  And when you have decided that this is the case, share your decision with that trusted friend and with your spouse.

Two little words can have such an impact.

I do.

It meant everything one time. Change your I’m done back to I do and just see what happens.

Wish You Were Here

wish

My guy is in Vegas for the weekend, staying at a triple five star hotel as a rewards trip for some customers.  A triple five means that it has earned the five star title as a hotel, a restaurant and a spa and there are only 13 hotels in the world that have this title. Last night’s dinner was many courses long with a wine pairing for each course and today the customers will race Ferrari’s on an open track. Tough weekend. I have been on many trips with my guy over the years, and we had planned for me to be able to join him on this once in a lifetime one, but the opportunity just fell apart as the time came closer; we are in a season where it’s not only difficult, it’s really not even responsible for both of us to leave our family. Sometimes when this reality hits I can feel sorry for myself or even mourn the fact that I’m missing some wonderful excursion with my guy. But last night when he texted me, saying, ‘I wish you were here’, I actually found myself thinking, ‘no way’….

Last night I had the opportunity to witness all three of my children be their best selves, stepping into the roles that God has laid out for each of them. In the matter of two hours I watched one young adult give her heart to the vulnerable, I saw another handle a difficult situation with grace and maturity and then I witnessed the progression of another moving from heartbreak to taking on the yoke of leadership. I had a front row, breathtaking view of the show of a lifetime last night, and all I could think was two things: To God be the glory, and man, I wish my guy was here!

I was reminded last night that even though we make good plans for ourselves, God always has better ones. I am so grateful that I got to stay back, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and watch the show!

Here are the 13 Triple 5 star hotels: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2014/02/11/forbes-travel-guides-13-most-elite-five-star-properties-of-2014/

Homemade Almond Milk and Almond Flour

IMG_461776745There was a time when describing someone as ‘crunchy’ was not a positive thing, in my mind. Our daughter loves being considered crunchy, and some of her ideas have rubbed off on me. We have been using Almond Milk in our smoothies daily for more than two years now, finding the brand that we prefer, but never really thinking much about the ingredients. Miss Crunchy took a look at the label and did some research and has convinced me that buying raw, organic almonds and converting them into milk is simple, less expensive and healthier, and you get almond flour (which is ab0ut $10 per pound) in the process! We tried it one morning last week, and it was a big success! I used the resource at http://ohsheglows.com for the recipe, you will need an Almond Nut Bag (also called a sprouting bag) to do this.

Homemade Almond Milk

1 c almonds, soaked in water for at least 4 hours (12 hours is ideal)

31/2 c water

1 t vanilla

1 t honey (if you like sweetened almond milk)

1 pinch sea salt

Place soaked almonds and water into a blender, blend on high for a full minute. Pour the mixture slowly through the nut bag into a bowl, gently squeezing the almond remains for 2-3 minutes. Set aside the remains, which will be your Almond Flour. Rinse the blender and pour milk back in, adding the vanilla, honey and salt. Blend on low for 20 seconds, and smell how delicious almond milk is! Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate, use within 5 days, shaking well before serving.

 

Almond Flour

Pour the remains from the sprouting bag onto a cookie sheet, heat the oven to 170 degrees and allow to dry out the flour for 3 hours on this setting. Pour the flour into a food processor and process for just a few seconds. Store in a cool, dry place. 1 c of almonds should produce approximately 2/3c almond flour.

 

 

It Mattered

matteredThe last few days have been rough. As a community, we have experienced a loss that will reverberate and continue to be felt for a long time. Ty and Terri Schenzel, a dynamic, God-loving couple who poured themselves into our city were tragically killed in a car crash late last week. The news spread like in the old days, phone calls to those closest and then outward in the circle. The interesting thing about it is that no one would have believed they were on the outer part of the circle; these people had the ability to draw everyone close and love them equally, while making each feel special. The downside to this phenomenon is the devastating feeling of loss.

In our house this same week, we have experienced another form of loss that is profound. Our daughter left yesterday to embark on the next chapter of her story, attending missionary training school halfway across the country. As her parents we are excited for, proud of and rooting for her. We understand and agree that this is the next thing that God is leading her to do. And last night as she landed in her new state, I received the last text I will get for quite a while, as all communication except snail mail is impossible. That last sentence is the kicker for me. I’m becoming acutely aware of how much I lean on hearing from those I hold the closest.

What do these two situations have in common? Special people who were just here are now gone. Those left behind must learn a new way of living. The place where they now are is so much better than where they were, at least, it had better be because a lot of sacrificing is being done to not have them here now! We have a choice as to how we will respond, there has been a time of mourning and soon it will be time to rise up and show how we were impacted by these special people and do something about it, which is exactly what they would want us to do. I don’t know what that looks like yet, I’m going to give myself a little time to adjust, show myself and others a little extra grace and allow us to really feel this loss.

And then I’m going to praise God for the time that I had and ask Him to show me what’s next.

http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/322511262.html

The Closer

puzzleMy guy is known in our house as ‘The Closer’. He won’t even glance at a 1000 piece puzzle until the bitter end, and he is the one who usually finishes off the cakes or cookies after everyone else has forgotten them. It’s often a joke in our family, but this really is a characteristic that I value greatly. You see, I tend to get excited at the front end of an idea, I like the dreaming and planning and beginning of new things, and will push through to the actual implementation, even while my interest is waning. Once the new has completely worn off and there is something else to grab my attention, The Closer kicks in. My guy will sit down to the minutia and wade through the details, and stay there until the work is completed. This trait is so important for our family and for the ministry that we do, because it allows us to work together to start something and even finish it strong.

I’m so glad God knew what he was doing in pairing us up with people who aren’t just like us, even though it is important to find someone with some important similarities. We have a choice in our marriages to get really frustrated with our spouse because they aren’t copies of us, or we can appreciate the blessing that this is the case. I wish it didn’t take me years to get it, but now I know that if it were up to just me, there would be a lot of incomplete puzzles laying around our house.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

IMG_461026787How’s your garden coming along? Is it bursting with zucchini? I found this recipe for a bread that isn’t as sweet as most, it has a little brown sugar and honey in place of the usual 2c of white sugar. It’s fromhttp://thecharmofhome.blogspot.com/2013/08/double-chocolate-zucchini-bread.html. Would love to hear what you think.

 

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded, peeled zucchini
1 1/4 c semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Add the  salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and flour mixing well.  Stir in the zucchini and 1 cup of the chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Scattered the the remainder of the chocolate chips on top of the batter.

Bake the bread for 60 minutes, use a toothpick test to test for doneness.

Remove bread from oven and let it rest 15 minutes before removing it from the pan.  Run a knife around the outside edge to loosen the bread from the pan.  Completely cool on a wire rack and slice to eat.  Store well-wrapped at room temperature.

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