Building a garden

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Here’s what we have been up to the past week. It’s snowy today, giving me a chance to catch up with the inside chores and to share our progress. I’m happy to report everyone had a good time and we made it a family affair. Skinned knees and dirt everywhere. Can’t wait to plant our seeds this week and leading up to May!
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Big blank canvas
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Also got our smaller beds planted with lettuce and greens

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8′ bed complete, 10′ to go

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New day, new boxes

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Free compost, Camden, don’t touch! Compost is horse poo!

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He’s sad there’s no more dirt to shovel

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All ready for an abundant garden! Here’s to a weekend of sweat, and to growing more of your own food!

Ten Years • An Analogy

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March 27 marked a big milestone, our 10 year wedding anniversary! I tagged a social media post with #worthit and had many thoughts as to why.
Recently, I was repairing a quilt we have. My mother-in-law made it for us and gifted it as a wedding present. It was a labor of love birthed from her creativity and skill, and from all these great silk square samples I’d collected over time that were lovingly pieced together, probably the most meaningful present we received. Ten years later, we still use the quilt on our bed pretty regularly. It’s starting to show it’s age…it’s well-worn, fully broken-in, wrestled on with two kids, made up every morning (because I like the feeling my room exudes when I make my bed every day, if I accomplish nothing else, at least my bed is made). A few months ago, my MIL had to be called in to replace a torn piece that came as the result of our three-year-old grabbing the quilt and using it as a handle to climb up onto our bed. Little did I know, it was only the first of many repairs to come.
I was sewing another repair patch on our much-loved quilt the week before our anniversary, and as I was doing so, thought of the years of my marriage. Some are worn and tired years, not seeing eye-to-eye much of the time, growing personally at different paces and in different ways. To put it plainly, marriage is not easy, so as I was diving into sewing these repairs, all these analogies cropped up in my head.
Repairing something in an act of love in itself. It requires focus, determination, participation. It might not turn out how you’d originally anticipated. I had to go back from time-to-time on a stitch here or there. I’m not the best seamstress, so to really slow down and look at the work I was doing as it went along required patience, not of my own understanding or limit. Oh, and once that patch was complete, it wasn’t many days later I started noticing more little holes here and there. Actually, I may not be able to patch all these holes, some may have to remain for the time being, some may require some external help from a professional. It’s overwhelming and I might want to give up if I focus too long on all the flaws. This is where I’m at today. Encouraged at times, doubtful other times. God, please remove my doubts.
So, what about looking at it from another perspective? Overall, it really is a beautiful quilt. Overall, we do have a beautiful marriage. We keep plugging away in our own ways, hopefully, prayerfully, wearing well together, asking for help from others when needed. Inviting God to play the most important part, even if Z doesn’t fully believe. With trust in God, we can weather another ten years…and more.

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Quiet

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Some days just call for it. I had planned to go to a meeting this morning, as I do at least a couple times a week, but today a hot shower, and lazy morning on the couch called instead. This goes against my natural inclination to go, go, go, and for the fact that I didn’t fight it, I am grateful.
Every year at my church, we have been encouraged to give up and take up something. I never did anything like this growing up, only heard about Catholic friends having to quit eating candy for 40 days and eat fish on Fridays. But I like the practice my church encourages. One year I gave up caffeine, I mean, I was an absolute slave to it, and not having it really changed my perspective. Last year I gave up Facebook. Again, I was letting something control me and I didn’t like the obsession. Doing these practices has left lasting impressions on me. I no longer have to have coffee every single morning, and I don’t get on Facebook to troll around every time there’s a lull in my day.
This year, I was compelled to give up “busy”, and take up “intention”. The weeks leading up to Lent were unusually busy ones for me. I found myself leaving the house every night of the week for one thing or another. This greatly impacted my feeling of balance, and my family suffered the ill effects as well. So here I am about half way through the Lent season, I didn’t ever clear my calendar completely, and I think that’s okay, that wasn’t the intent. I’m more aware of where I am spending my time, more open to mornings like today where I have the choice to be on the go, or to pause, reflect, and relax with a hot cup of tea and no agenda. It sets the tone for a peaceful week for my family and me, and opens the door for creativity because I’ve allowed my brain to catch up and process all that’s going on around me. Whew, feels good!

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Some good Thai soup

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Something this colorful has to taste good

I made this soup for dinner last night, and now posting while I still remember the ingredients!

I like to use prepackaged soups as a starter vehicle for a heartier, more flavorful stew. It takes some of the prep time out of my cooking, makes the idea of prepackaged more appealing (I almost never eat soup as-is, I always gotta “church it up”), and we end up with a kinds of unique concoctions. Most of the time I’m unable to duplicate a recipe, but since I’m writing this one down there’s a 1,000,000% better chance for recreating it!

Here’s what went into my Thai soup:
Started with this base soup from Happy Planet, this a two serving package, another reason to add to it, I like my soup to be enough for 8 servings – or two whole meals (see pic below)
Added 6 small carrots
Half a diced red onion
Half a chopped red pepper
Two stalks celery
Bok choy
1/4 of a chopped red cabbage
1/2 can Organic Coconut milk
Chicken broth
1lb shrimp
Lime juice, cilantro, fresh ginger, and garlic to taste
A big tablespoon full of this leftover lemongrass / basil marinade I had sitting in the fridge waiting me to use it all up…
(Where I don’t list quantities, it’s to whatever soupiness or quantity of vegetable you desire)

Served over jasmine rice, and everyone ate it all up which is a success in our house. Would also be yummy with thin rice noodles.
I think broccoli would be a good addition if you didn’t have cabbage or bok choy. When I make soups I prefer them chunky with a hearty base, so I puréed only half of the first four ingredients after they cooked for a bit, (with some chicken broth) then added it all back into the pot.

Happy cooking!

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Business stuff

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Having been self-employed for the past 3+ years, I’m finally getting around to branding. New business cards, a website, and all the other collateral that comes with the process. I’m working with a great creative gal on this, and I’m excited about what’s to come. Today, I’ve been pouring over websites and Pinterest for inspiration. I’m about to go cross eyed, as when I get started on these types of things it’s hard for me to stop (although, I have to make dinner soon so that will be a good, forced stopping point). They’ll be more to tell as things roll along, but getting the creative juices flowing is such a fun thing for me that I had to share.
I’m usually the one asking potential clients what they like and why. Why they prefer a specific color over another, what a certain flower or accessory means to them, and so on. Now the tables are turned and I’m the one having to answer those questions, it’s challenging and exciting! Thankful that I don’t have to go it alone and for the countless ideas out there for inspiration.

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Being productive on Pinterest earlier today, a great tool when you’re looking for something specific. A great distraction when you’re not.

Baking with love

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I go through cycles of loving/loathing cooking. I’ve been cooking and baking gluten free since August 2013. (Going off gluten made a huge difference in my energy and overall well being). Hoping that with a blog I can better categorize my recipes, especially when I make changes or add things, or make something from scratch because I think the ingredients will be good together then can’t remember that thing I made that tasted so good when I’m out of ideas or in a loathe cycle.
Enter today’s challenge. My husband and mother-in-law celebrate birthdays three days apart, March 3rd, and 6th. We’ll head up to Thornton tonight to celebrate with dinner and just being together. My MIL asked me to bring dessert since I’m the one with dietary restrictions. (Thankfully my family goes along with my needs, I guess they have to since I’m the one cooking). Leave it to my husband to request angel food cake. Now, I’ve (mostly) successfully baked plenty of dense breads and cakes with my own blend of gluten free flour. But like stated, those were dense breads, easily accommodated to the denser properties of gluten free flour. Angel food cake is the complete opposite of dense, one can’t easily hide mistakes. I’ve made angel food cake from scratch with regular wheat flour, failed miserably, then went to the store to get the box kind. I was feeling a little intimidated.
Well, a key for my gluten free baking is to scour the internet and Pinterest for well-tested methods, then to make sure the person posting the recipe isn’t some highly acclaimed or trained chef, and finally to read all of the comments for any tweaks. Basically, does the recipe translate to my normal kitchen without any high tech gadgets or hard to get ingredients?
This recipe seems to fit the bill. And now I’ve reached that point in the post where you let the pictures do the rest of the talking:

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Forming stiff peaks (then being patient enough to gently fold in the flour and sugar blend)

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Fresh out of the oven, meaning it still had the potential to collapse

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Success! Baked with love. Happy birthday Grandma B and Zach! Can’t wait to celebrate tonight!

On unexpected windfalls

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This past Monday night the strangest string of events unfolded. I’m no stranger to debt, having paid our way out of too many years of consumer debt mainly in the form of credit cards, we declared ourselves completely debt free early last year. I don’t ever want to go down that road again. Well, the three year old recently had a major dental event arise, and we don’t have dental insurance. In January we discovered his molars were basically rotten, he needed four root canals. We got some financing in place (read:debt) to get the day scheduled. I was feeing wary of the $200/month bill not even inclusive the co-pay from the hospital and the 30% we will be paying for anesthesia and any other costs incurred.
Now, back to Monday. My husband posted our fancy schmancy Bob stroller on craigslist and some people were coming over to take a look. I randomly said / joked that he should post our car to craigslist too. Our friends sold us this second vehicle last summer for a nice low price and it was intended to save me from driving our big monster truck Jeep around. But having a second car is a luxury, and if push came to shove, I’d just as much drive a monster truck instead of losing our inconspicuous silver grand Cherokee in every parking lot. He posted it on craigslist, and less than two hours later it was sold. Cash in hand.
We were able to pay our insurance deductible at the hospital with cash, and will continue on being able to pay the medical bills as they come in.
It’s just funny to me how it all came into play. God ALWAYS has a way of providing, even when that way is unseen by us two days before an anticipated surgery. I’m just so grateful. And I get to continue being the mom with the big red jeep, that’s more my style anyway.
My big guy is healing well, and we’ll keep rolling along…debt free.

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