Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Relational Fatigue and Putting Down Roots

As I touched on in my last post, my entire adult life has been one of transition. First as a missionary, now as the military (Tangent alert: those two seemingly completely opposite lifestyles actually have an incredible amount in common. I fully believe that my time spent as a missionary was, in part, training for the military lifestyle. I have been incredibly fortunate to have all of those varied experiences as a foundation from which I draw my support and knowledge that I can not only survive this lifestyle, but thrive in it as well). Moving here, there, back again. Saying goodbye only to turn around and say hello. Leaving, staying. In some ways it's done me great favors; I can adjust relatively easy and quickly to new surroundings, it has given me a great sense and longing for adventure and an eagerness to try new things. In some ways, relational ways, I've allowed it to do me a disservice. I say goodbye a little too easily. That lesson came at great cost but there it is. While some people cry and hearts are wrenched when the time comes, I give a hug, a smile and say I'll see you again sometime (and really, that statement has proved rather right more often than I would have thought, luckily). I've slowly built up a wall surrounding the part of my heart that allows friends in. I by no means keep people out, but I don't allow them full access, unrestricted. I protect that part of my heart that knows a goodbye is inevitable, and start protecting myself from the first hello. I have been so fortunate and blessed by the way my life has unfolded, I hope I'm not coming across sounding bitter or snobby about it. I feel like my friends are branches on my tree of life, some grow this way, some that way, some together, but all grow from the base. Sometimes the branches break, sometimes they grow stronger.

Since getting married I have thought a lot about roots. Two people bringing theirs together, starting new ones or tying old ones together. My husband and I both hail from the same town, and nothing means more to us than our families (we both have tattoos proving it!).  In a world where everyone dreams of far away places and where they hope to one day be stationed, our dream is to be stationed back at home. When people hear that they can't understand, stating that if we can go anywhere in the world, to travel and see new things, why would we want to go back? Because our dream is of family. Of being around ours and turning back to our roots, continuing to grow and strengthen them.

But perhaps I've been missing it all along...
The roots of an oak tree grow deep, and don't stray from the base very far. Often the root system is larger than that of it's branches. The roots secure the tree to the earth steadfastly. This has always been my picture of family, a strong bond that runs impenetrably deep and is the base of everything. While that still holds for me, perhaps my perspective needs to be more like the roots of an aspen...the roots of an aspen tree grow out from the base far, they do not sink into the ground as deeply, they grow out from it.
Perhaps it's not so much about few, deep roots, as it is about 'branching' those roots out, able to settle in more varied places, able to move with more ease.
We've been married for a couple of years now, and the talk of children and expanding our family is becoming commonplace. It's a good time to think about our roots, where we came from, where we are going. Whether we want to be like the oak tree, which is native to a smaller area of land, or the aspen, which is much more adaptable.

At the end of the day, I am incredibly fortunate to spend my life beside a remarkable man, one whose roots and passion for family runs as deep as mine.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15: 5

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I am a disappointment.

Don't worry, I am so not that self-deprecating...(it's a catchy title though! :)

I've always considered myself to be a good friend, but looking back through the glasses of time and perspective, there have been a few bumps in the road. Whether those bumps were put there by me or not isn't important, they just were there.

My best friend and I are going on 12 years of best friendship, the last 10 of which have been long distance. I've always maintained that the reason we've made it this far is due in large part, surprisingly, to the distance, it's actually been our friend. We fell into the habit long ago of not communicating on a daily basis, but saving most of our life stuff for the few times a year we get together. We'll call each other occasionally and big life events always get a call immediately. For the most part though, we don't know the daily goings on, but we know everything there is to know about each other. For some reason, the distance has been kind to us; we always appreciate one another, we never fight (which I know isn't always healthy), and always look forward to carving out time in life's busy schedule for some quality BFF time, whenever we do manage to connect in the same time and same place.

Where this example has hurt me is not in my friendship with her, but in my friendship with others. I've come to not expect too much from my friends (not in a bad way though), the knowledge that they will always be there for me and I them has been enough. Couple this with an entire adult life of transition and constant hello and goodbyes, and this has gotten me into trouble. Trouble by not being dependable enough, investing enough, being there enough. I've gotten pretty jaded, I suppose. From my early twenties I spent a few years as a missionary, a quite transitory lifestyle. People were always leaving to go on short or long term mission trips, or I was. I learned how to say goodbye without feeling crushed (but boy did I learn that one the hard way), and how to say hello very well. After my time as a missionary ended (although, does it ever really end?), I married into the military and immediately moved to a different state. Needless to say, this lifestyle is almost more transitory than the last. My time previously has helped me to maintain a positive spirit (well...most days) about it, but I have discovered that I have carefully guarded my heart against letting anyone in too close, knowing that the inevitable move, whether ours or theirs, is, well...inevitable.

This school of thought has left my road littered with a few casualties, and that is something I deeply regret. I believe that we never stop learning and growing, I am only sorry that my lesson learned came with the cost of hurting some very dear people to me.
While I have learned to guard my heart (and that isn't a bad thing in itself, as long as we are guarding it against the proper things), it has been at quite an expense. When it is against people, the good people in your life, it's really no way to live, it is quite empty and life-stealing, not giving.

So, I am a disappointing person. I hurt the people I love, and I protect myself at a cost I am finally learning is way too high. But here's the thing: everyone is disappointing. God created each of us so uniquely, and with that individuality comes differences. We can allow those differences to divide us, or to help us grow and unite us. We will all hurt one another, whether intentional or not, we will all disappoint. Is that reason enough to end friendships, to move on? Perhaps that may be a factor into why the divorce rate is so high, people fall out of love once the reality of life and our differences come to light, and it's too hard or painful to work through...except that it's not, but the alternative really really is.

I may have lost someone who was once thoroughly enmeshed in my life, and I just can not come to terms with that. I have yet to come across a person who was not worth saving, or a friendship not worth saving. I am discovering that the key is vulnerability. Opening ourselves up, letting that guard down, and being prepared to be hurt. Because it will happen. I believe that an important aspect of the healing process is realizing our self worth, and realizing that our friends are equally worthy.
Don't give up. Keep letting your guard down. Keep letting people all the way in. Keep fighting for the friendship. In my relatively short life so far, every friendship has ALWAYS been worth that inevitable goodbye.
Open your heart, more and more every day, and keep it open.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

To Milk or Not to Milk...

I've never in my life straight up drank a glass of milk. Like ever. Not even when I was a kid. I've never been a fan, the thought of drinking cow juice grosses me out (After reading Skinny Bitch and this section on dairy I'm grossed out forever and ever! Here's a link to an excerpt of it, I found it online and haven't looked into the blog so can't vouch for it...yet...). I'm the person who eats cereal with a fork (to let all the excess milk drip off) or with a spoon and tilt it each time to drain the extra milk. Get the picture? :)
Having said that, I am a fan of almond milk. I eat way too much tofu as it is so I don't need the added soy in soy milk, rice milk has too many carbs for me, and coconut milk is good, but I just prefer my milk in almond form. I use it mainly in Green Monsters, vegan overnight oats and in most everything I bake.
Here is the conundrum: I have recently wanted to make my own almond milk; it is extremely easy with few ingredients, and leaves out all of the stuff you find in every container, no matter the brand (that I know of). Saving money and the quality level as added bonuses to making my own are great, but...
It only lasts a few days. I researched several recipes and every one of them stated that the milk lasted anywhere from 2-5 days, max. Even though making it is simple, I'm not sure it's worth doing every few days. And what if I don't use it all and some goes bad?
What would you do?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hard is Good, Easy Rots Your Soul

I was reading over an old journal I kept the first half of 2008- my last several months in YWAM, and the last time I took an international trip. The very last page was filled with memories and lessons learned that I didn't want to forget. The very last one was a quote we commonly said to each other then, 'Hard is good, easy rots your soul!'
Those words pierced my heart; exactly, perfectly what I needed to hear in this moment. I used to thrive on a life of unknowns, living in the day and letting God plan the rest. I was blissed out in my relationship with Him, and learning ever more about a Christ-filled life and living in community with others.
Fast forward 4 years, and I so far from who I was. God is not in the forefront of my mind, thoughts and actions...at least like He once was. My prayers are perfunctory and selfish. Quiet time? Never. I still live in community...the military community, not quite the same. I am the most important thing in my life right now, not Jesus. Before, I prayed about every little thing, now, hardly anything. My marriage is much the same, it is two of us, not three, with God in the center. It is my own doing.
It was an argument that drove me upstairs and eventually to that old journal, desiring to take myself from the present and into the past, a simpler and so joyous time. The topic of the fight isn't important, but my selfish behavior had everything to do with it. We kept going round and round, each not hearing the other and going for the head instead of the heart. I left feeling kind of hopeless, unsure how we would ever reach a peaceful resolution and a 'win/win' situation.
But as with any situation in my life that was difficult/painful, I came out of it so much the better; it was in those times that I was being refined, those situations that helped lay the foundation of my character. And all the arguments between my husband and I have only made us stronger and more closely bonded.
And that gives me hope.
Bring on the hard, for easy rots my soul.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Catch-Up

My how long it has been since my last post! Since October...

1. My husband came home from his first deployment! He came home a month and a half early (yay!) and arrived home a few days before Halloween.

2. We both went home to California for a couple of weeks after he got back for R&R (and he really missed all of his friends and family. :)

3. Thanksgiving came around, and we spent it with our military family, so blessed!

4. We went back to Las Vegas and moved into a new house! Let me tell you, moving all of your earthly possessions...when it is just the two of you...is a feat no one should ever suffer through. My back still hurts.

5. Christmastime! We spent the day apart, as he had to work, but I was lucky enough to spend it with some wonderful friends!

6. My family came! They weren't able to make it for Christmas, but did come the day after! We managed to convince them to stay through the New Year, and were able to enjoy spending a whole week with them!

7. 2012! It's the start of a new year, and I was so blessed to ring it in with my hubby this time!

It has been a whirlwind few months! Things have finally settled down; we are happily living in our beautiful home, Ryan has adjusted to a new work schedule, and I am still in school, looking forward to getting my certificate in June!

I think that has summed the last few months up pretty well! I plan on doing a much better job keeping everything up to date and posting much more often! Until then...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Two For One: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice and Whats For Dinner Tonight

I was at the grocery store earlier, and Pumpkin Pie Spice was on the top of my list.
This little canister was $5.79! Yeah RIGHT.
I can make that for a fraction of the cost...and I did! And it is so overwhelmingly better than this overpriced little bottle, there is just absolutely no comparison!
I know it's not the most convenient, but grinding your own spices really is the key to success here.

If you have a spice grinder by all means, make things easy on yourself. Unfortunately mine is buried deep somewhere in our storage unit so I had to put some muscle into it. First, the easy part:

Measure dried ginger into a small bowl.

Next, grind whole cloves into the finest dust you can manage and add to the ginger.

(I have no idea why some of these photos came out sideways, and equally have no ida how to fix it, eesh!)

Now, using a Microplane (if you do not own one of these, invest now, they are a wonderful and necessary kitchen tool!), grate the nutmeg.

Last, certainly not least, and certainly most difficult...the cinnamon. I ended up using an entire stick of cinnamon, and it took forever to grate down!

Be careful when using the Microplane, I got a little careless and chipped off part of my nail polish, oops!

It was well worth the work, the smell emanating throughout the whole kitchen was so delicious, and incredibly richer with a depth of warmness that you just can't get with the bottled stuff. And did you know that spices start losing flavor and intensity as soon as they are ground? Who knows how long the pre-ground stuff has been sitting around, losing all that complexity. And they want us to pay for that?

Stepping off my apparent soapbox now...mix the 4 spices together. 

I added a mere dash of allspice and salt to bring it all together, and wooowie it's good!
My first order of business with it is Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal that I'm going to try out for breakfast tomorrow, recipe to follow!

Pumpkin Pie Spice:
Yield: 2 Tablespoons

4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
A dash of allspice, an even smaller pinch of salt.
Mix and store in an airtight container.


For dinner tonight I tried out a recipe I stumbled upon over at The Cilantropist's blog:
Sausage and Goat Cheese Pizza with Balsamic Onions and 
Fresh Figs

Oh. My Word. This recipe is going to the top of my must-have-again list! The perfect harmony of ingredients and flavors was out of this world delicious! 

First up: The original recipe calls for italian sausage, but I had a stroke of genius at the grocery store and bought this instead:

Have you ever had aidells? This chicken and apply sausage is so full of flavor it's ridiculous, and you would never know it's chicken, I promise! Best. Sausage. Ever. 
I removed the casings and crumbled it and browned it in a saute pan and set aside.

Next up: the balsamic onion and fig marmalade. I sliced up one large onion thinly... 

(seriously annoyed that some of the photos flipped...that's what you get when you upload photos to your blog app from your phone?)

...and put it in another saute pan with a tablespoon of evoo and 2 tsp. of brown sugar. If you've ever caramelized onions, it's the same idea, cook them down low and slow.

Mmm, beautiful, perfectly ripe figs! Figs have a very short season and are pretty pricey; I've found that my local asian market has the best price on figs, they were a whole dollar and a half cheaper than a regular grocery store!

Next, add the balsamic vinegar and allow the mixture to further reduce. After that the recipe called for chopping the figs and adding the onions to them and microwaving the whole thing, but I didn't like that idea so I just added the figs right into the pan and let them cook with the onions, and they came out beautifully!

I know, it's looking pretty gnarly, but it tastes (and smelled!) amazing!

Next up: assembling the pizza. 
I used this extremely delicious garlic olive oil on the crust, to help it keep moist and add extra flavor.

I took a shortcut and bought ready-made, fresh whole wheat dough and rolled it out super thin for a crispy crust. Yum! The recipe calls for slicing the goat cheese and layering it on, but I was too impatient so I just grabbed a hunk of it and crumbled it evenly over the dough.

Then I spread the onion/fig marmalade on it:

Then I sliced the figs up and put those on:

Then the cooked and crumbled sausage:

And finally I tore some sage leaves and sprinkled them on top.

I cooked it in the oven for about 15 minutes, and out came perfection!

mmMMM this was good pizza!

To go with the pizza, I made a Fall Harvest Salad. This is probably my favorite salad, the flavors are at once complex and defined, it is rich and satisfying, but the ingredients are rather light. 

The dressing is balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, a small minced shallot and extra virgin olive oil. SO good!

The finished salad, including slices of pear, candied pecans and shaved parmesan:


I had made a vegan Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie for dessert, but it didn't turn out so well, lol. Ah well, dinner was delicious and satisfying enough!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Flavors

I had a myriad of stacks of recipes laying all over the place; some needing a test run, some done and needing editing, some classic favorites from the past I want to re-create, recipes recipes everywhere! I'm kind of a Type A personality (my husband would laugh at the generality of that statement!), and enough was enough, I needed to get organized! I spend way too much time thinking and plotting out how best to do this (seriously, if we all stopped thinking about petty things so much and concentrated on the major issues, I'm pretty sure we would have both world peace and the cure for cancer by now! :), and finally came up with a solution that is best for me. I have created three separate files: one for recipes that I have not yet made but want to try out, one for all of my holiday recipes, and one strictly for fall recipes. Yes, I have created an entire binder dedicated to nothing but recipes that are best served during autumn. It is by far my favorite time of year, the food is just so outrageously delicious! I simply bought a binder, dividers, sheet protectors and a few scrapbook-y things, and came up with something I'm pretty proud of:

Here are some of the recipes within that are my favorite: 
All of these recipes are tried and true; the butternut squash lasagna has been a family staple for years and is literally one of my all-time favorite dishes, top three for sure!

I'm working on a holiday binder now. Each section is it's own holiday, I have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Eve, Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter and Fourth of July. Whew! I'll post pics when I finish that up, but it may be some time, there aren't too many scrapbook-y stickers for Easter just yet! 
I've already hit a snag in my oh-so-well-thought-out plan of action: I have no place for normal recipes. I have a recipe book that I was given at my bridal shower, full of recipes from friends and family to help start my marriage off right (I LOVE that gift more than any other!), and I want to keep it as a book full of recipes that people have given me...unless I can figure out another way to incorporate regular recipes I just may have to...any thoughts or ideas on how I can accomplish this? I don't need 10 recipe binders floating around, I already have that many cookbooks!! :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The junk is just not worth it anymore...

So, I cheated a bit. My parents are out of town for the week, and since yesterday was the weekend still, and I was feeling all sorry for myself being all alone (I hate being all alone, I got a whole lifetime's worth of it last year!) and missing my husband like crazy (sometimes I feel like it will actually drive me crazy!), I cheated with my food. I made chocolate chip cookies. And ate a few. And ate chips. And I feel like crap today. That is mainly why I'm posting this; after having adopted a healthy lifestyle and changing my diet to mostly unprocessed, whole foods, eating junk does not make my body happy! A little suffering is in order I suppose, I did it to myself! It's interesting to me to connect the two, before I changed my habits I ate junk all the time, and while there was a general low level of crap-feeling all the time, I never associated it so closely or realized just how harmful to both body and mind it really is. I feel lethargic, my mind seems a bit muddled and my tummy is marching in a protest parade. Sooo not worth it! I think I'll go make myself a green monster and press play on my workout dvd...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bridging the gap between family and the military...

A lot of people, upon hearing that we are an military family, ask us where we have been, and where we would like to go. After hearing that 'home' is our number one choice, most everyone exclaims something to the effect of, 'But you can go anywhere in the world!' 'If you have the opportunity, take it!' 'Have an adventure!' While all of these are well and good, that's just not where we are at. Family is the most important thing for both of us (I even have it tattooed on me!), and if we have the opportunity to move back home, where our family (and hearts) is, that is what we shall do. You can always travel, but you can't always create memories and make the most of time with your family. Now that I'm married, and children are somewhat close on the horizon, I especially want to be close to home, how special to be able to experience a pregnancy and birth with my mom by my side, and giving my child(ren) the gift of grandparents. I understand that the world is a big place and there is so much to see (believe me I understand; in a three year period I was lucky to travel the world and visit Asia and Africa multiple times), but of even greater importance to me is my family. When everything else in the world fails you, you still have your family. You can never sever those ties. You can injure and disable them, but they are a permanent part of you. Having lost a cousin a few years ago, this is highlighted for me even more. I cherish my family and want to spend as much time as possible with them. This is why we want to come home, it's where our roots, and our hearts, are.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chocolate cravings and a crazy cookie.

Chocolate. I want chocolate! It's surprising, because I am by no means a chocoholic, I guess every once in awhile I just get the craving. I want something sweet, and I want it now! 
Today was one of those days. I was doing a little grocery shopping this morning, and was searching in earnest for a vegan bake mix, alas to no avail (I know Whole Foods has them, but with the nearest one to me about 40 minutes away, it's not reasonable to travel all that way for just one item...because I've never done that before...honest... :). I got excited when I saw the No Pudge Fudge Brownie mix, but it has egg whites, boo. I stayed strong (for once) and left to check out sans a sweet something. Well, lady luck was with me today in the checkout line...there, in a glorious display, calling my name...vegan cookies from the Alternative Baking Company! I'd had them once before a long time ago and wasn't thrilled, today however, one of those cookies completely satisfied my craving! I wanted something sweet, and I wanted it chocolate. With a cookie that is dairy-free, cholesterol-free, egg-free, soy-free and made with whole wheat flour, you wouldn't think it could possibly deliver on it's addictive promise...until you realize that you've just eaten the entire cookie and are left distraught, wanting more! You're lucky I had the presence of mind to snap this photo when I did, seconds later it was nothing but an empty package of crumbs and I was resisting the urge to run back out to the store and clean them out of stock! It's a testament to how good they are that I enjoyed it as much as I did, I'm quite a cookie snob. I think that  a cookie should always be soft, slightly chewy with a hint of underdone-ness, and nary a nut in sight (I love just about every kind of nut I've come across, I just strongly feel that they have no place in my cookie/brownie/cake/etc.) The only crunchy or crispy cookie I find acceptable is an oreo. These babies fit my cookie bill wonderfully! It was perfectly chewy with a stand-up texture and the middle extra soft, mmMmm! It was perfectly filling without leaving me feeling like an oaf, and almost an hour later I have yet to experience a sugar crash. I highly recommend these cookies, run out and get one today!