Friday, January 29, 2010

Reflections...

Today I am reflective and celebrating. At 2:23 PM Jade will officially be an adult. Woooooooo! I keep shaking my head wondering how I got here. Well, we got here one day, one year, one milestone at a time. Its hard to believe its been 18 years since I held my first born for the first time. Wow.

The past six months have been a little rough for me. Turning 39 was a difficult birthday, looking ahead at the year of milestones, 18th birthday for Jade, my baby sister turning 30 tomorrow, graduations in June (one from high school, one from Jr high and one from elementary school! and then of course, the dreaded 4-0 in August) I've always seen myself as a mom with young kids and this year I've had to come to terms with them growing up. I'm a mom, yes, but my kids aren't so young anymore. It's been hard.

It really does "take a village" to raise a child. We've done a great job! Thank you to all of the teachers, friends, family, coaches, pastors and neighbors who have helped along the way (even if you never see this). Jade is a beautiful,smart young woman who thinks for herself and in this generation, I think that's quite an accomplishment. But I remember when her eyes were still blue and how she cried when daddy left for work in the morning. I had to distract her by blowing bubbles. *sigh* My son is now a good 3 inches taller than me. And Mackenzie, my youngest is 11....going into junior high this year. Gosh, where has the time gone. Sometimes when I look at them I see them as 3 year olds, especially Christian saying "my mom said no".

So anyway, today we're going to PF Changs for lunch (its the end of the semester so no school today) and possibly to a movie. Sunday, we're having a family birthday party.

Jade Rebekah Lenier, you have brought more joy to my life than I ever thought possible. You are an incredible young woman, you have a bright future, you are loved beyond measure. I thank God everyday, He gave me you. Happy Birthday, love.
I hope its beauty-filled. =)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Recipe of the week: Lentil Soup

I love Progresso lentil soup, but it has a lot of sodium in it. Plus I try not to eat a lot of canned food. I finally came up with a recipe to make it from scratch, I think its pretty close. You can top it with some parmesan cheese if you like, serve with some bread and a salad and you've got dinner. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!



Lentil Soup

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups water or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup dried French dark green or other lentils
6 cups chopped spinach
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high
Add the diced onion, celery, and bay leaves; saute for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, salt, and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add 8 cups water and lentils; bring mixture to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer mixture for 25 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach, vinegar, mustard, and pepper; cook 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Ladle soup into bowls. Serves 8. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Recipe of the week: Vegetable Egg Bake

I call this an egg bake but its really a crust-less quiche. I'm not a big fan of pie crust so I like this a lot better than quiche. You can make it with meat if you'd like but I really like it with just vegetables. Lots of times I improvise and use what I have in the frig. I made it once with swiss chard along with the spinach that I'd gotten from the farmers market. You can use green onions instead of a regular onion or whatever color pepper you like. I don't usually put tomatoes in it because I serve it with salsa. My kids love this, its an easy way to get them to eat their vegetables. You can also easily cut the recipe in half and bake in an 8X8 pan. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!




Vegetable Egg Bake

2 cups grated cheese (half cheddar and half mozzerella or whatever you have on hand)
1 small onion chopped
1 small to medium red pepper chopped
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 zucchini chopped
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup flour
10 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Serve with your choice of salsa

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease or spray a 9x13 pan. Saute onion, peppers, and mushroom in olive oil or butter. Add zucchini and broccoli cook for 2-3 minutes, you don't want them soft because they'll cook in the oven. (Add spinach last, you don't need to saute it) Transfer to baking dish. In a bowl wisk eggs together, add milk, flour, cheese, salt and pepper. Pour over vegetable mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight (optional, you can bake it right away if you're making this for dinner). Bake uncovered 35-45 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our trip to Seattle


I was hoping to write this while in Seattle but I didn’t end up with much spare time, which is usually the case when I’m out of town and yet it always surprises me. The trip was a good one, a few bumps along the way, but we dealt with them. I think the only major issue was the notebook computer not having MS Word installed, Jade needed to finish her college applications and was planning on using the flight time to write. For some reason Word wouldn’t load (of course its working fine now), so she took the flash drive with her documents on it, then we couldn’t find the flash drive! Our first objective when we got into Seattle, after getting the rental car was to find a computer. I thought the hotel might have one so we went straight there. They did, thank God.

The hotel staff was so helpful, they told me where Whole Foods was (2 blocks away) so I could go get us some water and some lunch. My two favorite things about Seattle were the people and Whole Foods, the place was half the size of Costco! It was awesome. Everyone we talked to, everywhere we went was super nice and very helpful.

Jade finally finished her applications about 3:00 pm on Friday, yay! The only bad part was that we didn’t have much daylight left to explore the city and SU. The weirdest thing about the weather up there is how dark it is. At 9:30 am when we landed it was as dark as it is here at 5:30 pm. The locals barely seem to notice the rain, its very different than here. Our rain will soak you in 2-3 minutes, not so there, its much softer and lighter. Friday afternoon we poked around Seattle University so we could get an idea of where we’d be going for the Sullivan Leaders Day on Saturday. I was getting wet, cold and hungry after wandering aimlessly around in the dark.

We wanted to eat at “local” places so we went to The Crab Pot for dinner, Friday night. There had been an ad in the Alaska Air magazine, along with a coupon (yay!) The food was good but the service was great. After dinner we went to downtown, where we couldn’t find any parking so we drove back to the hotel and walked a mile and a half or so. What’s amazing about Seattle is how pedestrian friendly it is. At 7:00 pm there are tons of people out walking. We had to go to Nordstrom store #1, it’s four stories! Jade got some really cute dove earrings. Then of course we had to go to the downtown Anthropologie, which is huge! Two stories and beautiful! We took some pictures at both places. Then back to Whole Foods for dessert, their bakery is amazing! (Mini-cheesecakes, cannolis, cookies, cupcakes...vegan options...heavenly!) Then it was time to turn in, I’d been up since 3:30am and was getting pretty tired.

Saturday morning we got up early so we could eat before leaving for SU. The hotel had breakfast downstairs, which was really nice. Jade went looking for hot sauce or salsa to put on her egg sandwich and was shocked that they didn’t have any...pretty funny. We found where we were supposed to be for the Sullivan day fairly easily. One of the counselors encouraged me to go explore Seattle since I’d never been there before, so I did after listening to the President of the University’s address. Honestly, I was really disappointed. He’s a priest and I thought/expected him to open the day in prayer and he didn’t. I thought he’d close his remarks in prayer and he didn’t.

After his speech, I skipped out for a couple of hours with my friend Janet. She took me to Pike’s Market, which was cool, but a little over-rated. We did go into the flagship Starbucks store, how they love their coffee up there. Tully’s, Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, they’re everywhere! I think its so they can stay warm, with all that rain! We walked through the market, tried a few things and watched the guys at the fish market throw fish (think Tom Cruise in Cocktail....I thought there was going to be real flying fish...haha). Janet wanted to take me to a chocolate place called Rose’s Chocolates; we eventually found it and had a little treat. Then it was back to SU to meet Jade for lunch, or not. Unfortunately, Jade and Janet didn’t get to meet this time. The parents and the students didn’t meet up for lunch together like I’d thought. At least Janet made her ferry so she could get to her dad’s retirement party. (Interestingly enough, my mom’s retirement party was the same day...congratulations to both of them!)

Back at SU, I was disappointed that Jade and I didn’t get to see the school together, I listened to most of the speakers in the afternoon and some of their programs sound amazing, others, not so much. The campus is absolutely beautiful and the security program they have is great. By the time 4:30 pm rolled around we were both pretty done, information overload! We stopped by a little cupcake place we’d seen and got 2 cupcakes to save for dessert, and we went back to the hotel. After having sack lunches, both of us wanted something healthy for dinner, so we asked the hotel what they recommended for Chinese food. They directed us to a little place called Shallot’s, which was very good! We drove around a bit in the rain so we could see the Space Needle and Jade wanted to see Pike’s Market but they were closed. I drove her by the flagship Starbucks, and then we headed back to Whole Foods (I told you I loved it!) for more water and kombucha. We sat in the hot tub for a few minutes, and then packed for the early flight home.

Sunday morning it was back up at 3:30 am! Jade has GPS on her phone and it was a lifesaver! It got us everywhere we needed to go, even when it whacked out on us a few times. After dropping off the rental car and getting through security (even the security people were nice!), it was literally time to board our flight. What a whirlwind! Oh, I almost forgot, on the flight up we met a great guy who is a professional photographer, Danny Mendoza: www.dannymendozaphoto.com. He was on our flight going home too. We hope to have him to Jade’s senior pictures in the spring. My mom picked us up from Ontario airport, where the sun was shining brightly. After visiting for a few minutes, I changed clothes, (I almost wore flip-flops just because I can) and we went to church. I was happy to make it back in time because my favorite worship leader, Chuck Jones, was playing...wooooo!

Anyway, its Tuesday evening and its been pouring off and on since Sunday at 3:30 pm. It rained so much, so fast this afternoon I thought the flood basin I was near was going to flood.....crazy. And there was a tornado warning! I thought this was Southern California! I was hoping to see a rainbow today but I didn’t, maybe tomorrow. We’re supposed to get lots more rain; I think it followed me home. =)

Have a beauty-filled day.

Ciao.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recipe of the week: Hummus

I love hummus. I’ve had lots of different flavors but I think the original is my favorite. Garbanzo beans are full of fiber and a good source of folate, magnesium and iron. By adding the tahini to the hummus you have a complete protein. I fully support you playing with your food, to see what flavors you like. I made some with sun-dried tomatoes during the holidays and it was very good. A Votre Sante!

Hummus

1 can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp cumin
¼ tsp red pepper

Drain beans, reserving ¼ cup of liquid. In the blender (or food processor), puree garbanzo beans, lemon juice, oil, salt, cumin and red pepper. Add tahini and reserved liquid, blend until smooth.

If you like flavored hummus you can add cilantro, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, olives etc. Serve with pita chips, vegetables or whole grain crackers.

Hummus can be refrigerated for up to 7 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to one month. Enjoy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Get moving...

When I told my friend what this blog is about, she held her breath for a second because I said it was all about the F words. These words are....faith, food, fitness, fashion and family, all starting with F. Hee hee. =)

Have any of you seen the movie Julie and Julia? One of the things I didn't like about it is that Julie let her health and her relationships go to hell while she was working on her blog/project. I'm a big fan of exercise and staying in shape. The key there, in my opinion, is finding something you like to do. I've been through phases where I've worked out in a gym (weight training and cardio). I've also done kickboxing, aerobics, pilates, yoga, walking and running lots of miles, and I used to jump on the trampoline in our back yard. When it comes to exercise, you have to do something you like to do or you won't do it.

My husband runs barefoot, I think he's nuts. Running on the beach? Absolutely. But asphalt, not so much. However, he loves it and it works for him. As for me, I'm just back to walking and doing some pilates. Exercise is important for your health and your well being because we were made to move! So, my encouragement for you today is find something you like to do and get moving, weather permitting, of course.

Have a beauty-filled day.

Ciao

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Recipe of the week: Colorful Coleslaw

The other night I went to make dinner and there wasn't a whole lot to work with....this is what I came up with. You'll need a food processor for this. Or you can use a grater but it will be more time consuming. It came out beautiful! Very colorful, beets are wonderful raw, grated in salads, crunchy, sweet and super healthy. It was light, refreshing, satisfying and very healthy. Let me know what you think. A Votre Sante!

Colorful Coleslaw

1 bag of coleslaw mix (no dressing)
2 raw beets
2 carrots (or several baby carrots)
2 zucchini
1/2 c sliced almonds

Grate the beets, carrots and zucchini in the food processor, mix with the colesalw mix. Add the sliced almonds and toss well.

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Drizzle of agave nectar (probably about a tsp)
Drizzle toasted sesame oil
1 tsp poppy seeds
salt and pepper to taste

In a container with a lid, mix all of the dressing ingredients, shake well. Drizzle over vegetables and toss well. Enjoy.

Inspired

Recently I was inspired by a book about Mother Teresa, ‘To Find Hope’. She was always saying “lets do something beautiful for God’. That’s where the title for the blog came. I think there is beauty in many things (including food). Dostoevsky said “beauty will save the world” and He will, one day. Until then lets all do something that’s beautiful for God.

Have a beauty-filled day.

Ciao.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Test

1, 2, 3 testing.