We have moved!

Moving day!

Dear readers,

Are you out there? ­čÖé Sorry for the total falling off of the planet – we moved four hours north of our old home and since then it has been complete whirlwind. My last post happened just before I received my Masters diploma and now we are settling into our home in Bloomington, IL. I have been musically directing a show, meeting people, painting walls, repurposing furniture, and… dun dun duhhh… doing P90X with my honey!

We have been working very hard. We kind of sucked on week 2, so we decided to repeat it, and we have just finished our fourth week in phase 1, and then decided to add another week to it because we’ll be out of town for two weeks and due to resources in various locations, it was just easier that way. So, we are extending Phase 1 for another week, then starting our recovery week, then Phase 2 begins! Tim has lost significantly more weight than I have, but as he says, he had more weight to lose to begin with (although I’m not sure about that). His goal was about 15-20 pounds of loss and mine is about 7 pounds. So far I’ve lost 3, and he’s lost about 8. We’ll see how it goes on vacation! We have also both been gaining a ton of muscle mass so I just have no clue what the actual numbers are.

Things are going pretty well… and I’m sorry I don’t have a recipe for you today! But I am here, and will do better!

Happy weekend!

Natalie

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Sunday blues

I’m only a fan of Sunday when Monday has nothing for me to do. Sundays are always busy days, too, though, since I am a soprano section leader at a church in town. Tonight I have a rehearsal for The Messiah with the symphony (which we will perform on Tuesday) and I’m a soloist.

Yesterday was.. well, I could say it was busy but that would kind of be a lie. It was supposed┬áto be busy, but I’m kind of at burn-out point in the semester. You know what I mean? One of Tim’s friends moved in with us yesterday (he’s taking over our lease when we head out in a month) so I felt I needed to be around the house to play Zuma on Facebook and watch movies hold down the fort in case the boys needed any help. Lazy? Guilty. Needed it? YES.

We even had a lazy dinner: another hydroponic lettuce and goat cheese salad with grilled chicken.

Yummy light dinner!

And a side of steamed-and-sea salted-asparagus and Ezekiel bread:

I love fresh asparagus.

As Tim and I like to say, it were good.

And now I’m procrastinating on the writing part of yet another paper.

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Growing faith, hope, wisdom, and courage…. and some food

Last year around this time, I was going through something. I don’t know what it was. As my yoga teacher used to say, “You’re just passing through something,” which I love the image of – it means there’s another side to the darkness of the place you’re in.

My voice teacher, constantly seeing me as a young version of herself, understands the fact that I can be extremely tightly wound, anxious, panicky about the future, and generally have a strong need to be in control. Yes, I’m a treat.

Well, she gave me a gift no one has ever given me – a bunch of iris bulbs. On a particularly crappy day I hunkered down with my trowel. I remember not even wearing gloves, I just needed to dig, and do something earthy, and feel like there was something much more tangible under my feet than in my head. So I planted them. It felt extremely symbolic, like I was burying my troubles and letting them grow into something else.

And then our landscapers chopped ’em. Continuously. I was sure they were done for, but little did I know.

When it started warming up, they started leafing. Yesterday, they had a bud.

Today, well…:

They blossomed.

So intricately beautiful, beyond anything a human could create.

I read that irises are symbolic of faith, hope, wisdom, and courage – things that I desperately┬áneeded last year. And amazingly, all the things that had me in knots last year kept me in knots until very recently, when suddenly answers started appearing, as these irises started proving me wrong: chopping something to the ground does not┬ámean it is hopeless.

I should mention that as a teenager, I thought gardening was… stupid. In fact, I am sure that in a diary somewhere I wrote, gardens are stupid.┬áI know, whatever. But my parents were always outside gardening! What the what is so great about it, I pondered. As an adult, I found myself thrilled when I moved in with Tim that we had both hydrangeas and┬ápeonies, but to be honest, I didn’t know what either one was except that mom and dad would always say, “Nat, look at the hydrangeas! They’re so beautiful!” and I would likely roll my eyes and mutter “…yup.”

This year I have been waiting for them to grow. I am so excited about THIS:

A peony bud in my front garden

I hope my mommy is happy that I’m happy about this ­čÖé

And now for what this blog is REALLY about… food! But I gotta be honest. We’ve been crazy busy, so our meals have kind of slipped away from creative and amazing. I’ve enjoyed some smoothies…

Busy morning!

I think this one was banana, mango, and greek yogurt. Divine.

Dreamboat Smoothie

Lookin' all dreamy after my massage - and my hair was janked!

And this mmmm-iness was banana, strawberry, pineapple juice with protein powder enjoyed after a massage yesterday. It was from one of my favorite establishments ever, Longbranch Coffeehouse.

It’s just been busy. We purged our closets last week. This is what came of it:

To Donate

To trizz-ash

I don’t even think we went to the store this week. I’ve been scrounging things from the pantry and fridge. For instance, one day for lunch I had this:

But I didn't eat the book.

Hydroponic lettuce is the jam

But don’t let looks fool you – the chicken was already cooked, and the egg.. well…

Yep. It was an Easter egg before I ate it.

And the goat cheese was leftover from Tim’s birthday. It was still absolutely goat cheese-y. The Ezekiel bread was tasty as ever, and the pear was a little past its prime so most of it ended up in the trashcan, but everything else was great.

And if you haven’t read Tina Fey’s book, ya better start.

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Dorothyyy! …and why I didn’t have couscous.

Dear goodness gracious blessed heart divine! (I say this in total jest.)

Another night like this.

I cannot emphasize enough how sick I am of terrifying weather. I am such a baby about storms and tornados, and this ish scares me! And Tim is out of town! I was at our Neighborhood Co-Op grocery store and a grocer came up and told me that we were under a tornado warning and should I need to take shelter I can just pop through the double doors to the back. GREAT. I am TIRED of needing to take shelter. So I sat there. At the co-op. For forty minutes.

And then I decided to go to an optional rehearsal of the Messiah (which I am in but had already rehearsed for). Since this is my music building,

Altgeld Hall, home of the SIU School of Music

I figured I would be safe there – and safer still, singin’ about Jesus! ­čÖé

I was going ┬áto come home and make some awesome couscous and asparagus, but the storm kinda killed my plans. And now I am home alone. And skeered. And so I’ll just write a paper huddle with my stuffed puppy and shake in fear.

Anyone grow up around tornados? Any tips for this Carolina girl who knows only sunshine (and hurricanes)?

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Vegetarian Enchiladas (as inspired by my mama)! And an awesome salad.

So the other night we had insane weather, and a tornado hit our town (but not us). We had to sit in the bathtub with pillows and such, and frankly, I don’t do well in those situations. I did not grow up with tornadoes, so I don’t know what to expect, so I was shaky and scared! And we lost power for several hours. Fortunately we had leftover chocolate cake and plenty of candles and lemonade┬ávodka.

Before the storm hit, we had a ring of safety around us!

No power ­čśŽ

Anyway, we survived. I talked to my mom and she said they recently had some awesome chicken enchiladas. With that in mind, I made vegetarian enchiladas the next night. Here’s my recipe, as inspired by my mama’s.

Vegetarian Enchiladas 

Prep Time |20 minutes
Bake Time |15-20 minutes

6 flour or corn tortillas (any kind you like)
1 bag Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles (or you can use lean ground beef)
1 can vegetarian refried beans
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can chopped green chiles.
1 packet burrito seasoning (optional for seasoning “meat”)
1 can enchilada sauce (also optional)
Shredded cheese for sprinkling
Condiments of your choosing (I used salsa and FF sour cream)

Preheat oven to 375.

1. Sautee onions and green pepper in a little olive oil until soft and fragrant. Put in a bowl.

2. Using same pan (which you have now rinsed and dried), heat up Veggie Crumbles and follow directions on packet for burrito seasoning.

3. Spread 6 tortillas on counter. Work your way through the ingredients, layering them in the middle of the tortillas: I did refried beans first, then cooked veggies, then meat, then chiles, then a little cheese.

4. Roll tortillas and place in a pyrex sprayed with cooking spray. Pour enough enchilada sauce so that most of the wraps are covered.

5. Sprinkle with cheese.

6. Cover with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until hot.

Prepping the bad boys

MMMM

Meat on top!

They were super filling and tasty – so much so that I don’t think I got a picture of the finished product.

I forgot to mention a salad I made the other day that was fantasmic.

Birthday salade

This awesomeness was for Tim’s birthday lunch – local organic greens, organic red pears, goat cheese, cashews, and Drew’s balsamic vinaigrette, served with sparkling lemonade. Shoooo-eee! That was good.

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Tour and otherwise

To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of food to speak highly of on tour. Lots of gas station food, a fixed menu at Bennigan’s, some reception food, and continental breakfasts.. blahhh. But there is lots to share! Here’s a tour in photos of… tour…

Chicago skyline from Michigan Ave

We went to the Art Institute..

Saw Modern Gothic...

Saw Seurat's Sunday in the Park...

Saw the Seated Buddha...

(and I loved the lotus in his hand)

And we performed HERE.

That's right, folks, Orchestra Hall in Chicago.

This is only ┬áa modicum of the photos I took, and only in Chicago, but it was a good if exhausting trip. I spent the whole next day resting┬ápracticing for a concert I’m singing in soon and rehearsing for the two church services I had to sing early EARLY the next morning. And, also, shopping for Timothy’s birthday!

We had steak on the grill and parsnip fries!

Stonehenge Parsnips

Before baking

Parsnip Fries

Prep Time | 10 minutes
Bake Time | 20ish minutes

Several parsnips (I used 5 med.-large)
E.V. Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

1. Peel parsnips and chop the ends off.

2. Cut into strips. My methodology was to cut them in half lengthwise and then go to town chopping them into long skinny strips. I won’t lie, this was not a fast process.

3. In a bowl, toss with olive oil (not a lot, maybe a couple of tablespoons until they are coated).  Option: You could also just spray them with cooking spray while spread on the baking sheet.

4. Spread on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Bake until golden brown – keep an eye on these puppies! I also rotated the sheets about halfway through.

I made my first birthday cake and decorated it all by myself! It is not beautiful.

Happy 36th baby!

Cute birthday boy!

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Catching up on last week, plus a big announcement!

Wow – a lot has happened. First of all, it’s time to announce where we are moving!!!

Bloomington, IL!

Yep – we are moving to a town about 2 hours from Chicago called Bloomington. It is actually a combined city with Normal, IL, and is called Bloomington – Normal (much like the twin cities in Minnesota – kind of). It’s a great town with a population of about 120,000 which is relatively small but not tiny. And it has one of my favorite things – a Fresh Market! If you have one in your town, you know why it’s fab.

Anyway, Tim accepted the job offer last week, and we are really looking forward to the move. There are some opportunities for me as well which I will announce at a later date ­čÖé

To celebrate, we had a yummy dinner:

MMMM

This awesomeness was asparagus, onions, black beans, and red peppers sauteed together in a cilantro sauce and served over basmati rice, topped with avocado, and sprinkled with lime juice. I can’t begin to tell you how yum this was. And I invented it all by myself! ­čÖé

Cilantro Coconut Awesome Sauce

I also attempted Pineapple Bliss Cupcakes from Gina’s Skinny Recipes. A really simple idea – 1 can of crushed pineapples, 1 box of vanilla cake mix. Well, I used organic cake mix, which I don’t think was the problem . My genius self, instead of making 24 cupcakes, decided to just make 12 REALLY BIG cupcakes… which turned out like so:

Whoooops

But I topped them off with some Brown Rice Marshmallow Dream (organic marshmallow cream) and they ended up kinda tasty. Tim didn’t love them.

Pineapple Whoopsy

So I’ve renamed them Pineapple Whoopsies.

The next day was a busy day as I had to get ready to go on tour with my University’s top-ranking choir. We had 5 concerts scheduled for three days… it was insane!!!

Gettin' outta town outfit (or, gettin' ready to get outta town)

Boots, Coach. Leggings, Target. Sweater, H&M I think. Earrings and bracelet, Tiffany & Co.

That morning I had an awesome smoothie. I picked up some sample packets from my local co-op to test out Spirutein, a protein powder I’d tried before but thought I’d try again so I can buy a big tub. I LOVED it!

Raspberry vanilla goodness

I think I just threw in some frozen organic raspberries, the protein powder, a bit of water, and a splash of cranberry juice. It was so filling I couldn’t finish it! And I had to eat it with a spoon!

The next day was tour… but I’m going to have to make that a separate post! Lots to say… and I have a quiche in the oven waiting to see me!

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