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Friday, October 28, 2016

Food I Ate Friday - Whole 30 Chicken Korma

Y'all, I love love love Fall and all the flavors that come with it (I could genuinely say that about every season, and probably have during the time I have had this blog). However, what I get most excited for is when my husband wants curry everyday like I do. I can eat curry in the crazy heat in the summer. I am a soupy for life. Give me soup. Every. Day. But my handsome man needs it to cool down a bit (and not be 100 degrees), so once the weather cools, the curry lover in me jumps for joy. 

 We have been exploring Paleo and Whole 30 recipes quite a bit recently and this one is Whole 30 approved. If you are an Asian food lover like me and eat Paleo or Whole 30 you should definitely check out the website this recipe came from, because wow, lots of good stuff on there!

Have a lovely weekend friends.  Eat something yummy :)

Ingredients

1 ½ lb chicken breast, thinly sliced to bite sizes
1 large shallot, minced
1 lb pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into bite-size chunks
About 5 1/2 Tbsp homemade korma paste (see below)
1 can (14.oz) full-fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
Coconut oil
Sea salt to taste

Homemade Korma Paste

4 Garlic cloves
2 large shallots
2 thumb size fresh ginger
1 small bunch fresh cilantro + extra for garnishing
4 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste (no sugar added)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Optional Crispy Shallots

1 large shallot, slice to thin strips
Coconut oil

Instructions

For the Korma Paste:

USE a food processor finely mince garlic, shallots, ginger, and cilantro.
ADD cumin, coriander, garam masala powder, sea salt, cayenne, tomato paste, and olive oil. Blend until it becomes a smooth paste.
RESERVE 5 to 5 ½ Tbsp korma paste for 1 ½ lb chicken. Store extra korma paste in your freezer for future use.

For the Crispy Shallots (Optional):

SLICE 1 large shallot into long thin strips. Heat 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a wok or frying pan over medium/medium-high heat.
WHEN hot, add the sliced shallots, season with a small pinch of salt. Pan fry them and stir frequently for 8-10 mins or until golden brown. Be careful not to burn the shallots. Use a slotted spoon and scoop them onto a tray lined with paper towel. Spread them out so they crisp up.

For the Chicken Korma:

HEAT 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a large saucepan or deep frying pan over medium-high heat, when hot, add 1 large minced shallots and 5 to 5 ½ Tbsp homemade korma paste. Keep stir-frying the ingredients to prevent them from burning for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
TURN the heat up to high and add sliced chicken. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is lightly browned.
ADD coconut milk. Give it a gentle stir. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to boil.
ONCE it’s boiled, lower the heat to medium. Add diced pumpkin or butternut squash. Cover the pan with a lid. Let it simmer until the squash/pumpkin is cooked through. Stir the bottom of the pan periodically to prevent food from burning.


TO SERVE: Sprinkle finely chopped mint/cilantro/basil leaves and topped with crispy shallots.


Recipe from iheartumami.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Penny For Your Thoughts: On Removing the Word Busy

I have been getting a series of emails from an organization called “Be More With Less” that have really effected my language and day to day attitude, so I thought I would share a few gems/take aways from them.

1. Stop using the word “Busy” – You are not busy against your own control, we are actively choosing busyness and you can actively choose to eliminate the word from your vocabulary and the overwhelming nature of busyness from your life… it will take time, prioritization and sacrifice, but it is possible. Also, my side note that has nothing to do with this, try to stop using “tired” as an excuse as well. It starts to be like the boy who cried wolf. If you aren’t up to talking about something say “I’m not up to talking about that”, not “I’m tired”… It’s just a bad habit worth focusing on breaking.

2. Learn your strengths and release what is not important. This has been SUCH a lesson for me in my current season. It could also be to focus on what you want to be good at and don’t worry about what it is not important to you. We spend so much time doing what we “should” do we aren’t focused on what we are even good at. We are jealous of others giftings when we are equally gifted, just not in the same ways. We wrestle with accepting ourselves for who we are. Accept who you are and fine tune the things that make you tick. I love food, and for the longest time I felt guilt and shame for that. I am learning to channel it. I hate cleaning, and for the longest time I felt guilt and shame for that. I am learning to prioritize it when necessary and remove the shame when it’s not.

3. Linger More – Guys, this is SUCH an American problem. We take pictures of beautiful settings, but we rarely take time to actually sit and enjoy them. Let the candles burn down. Talk. Don’t make 10 plans in one day, make one and then just be there, fully present. Just be with people, don’t fabricate a perfect moment for social media. Be the last ones on the dance floor. Watch the fire burn out. Guys, another thing I am guilty of is fabrication of meaningful moments. I am now even learning to even linger when walking my dog. Just enjoy the moments in life and limit your distractions. Seriously limit them. Start leaving your phone behind… on purpose. Just try it, it’s really very freeing.

4. This has been the biggest one for me: “Lose the guilt. Instead of thinking about the opposite of busyness as lazy, I invite you to consider that the opposite of a busy life is a full life and an intentional life.” 

Guys, these ideas have really been rocking me lately. 

 Remove "Busy" from your vocabulary, learn your strengths, linger more and lose the guilt. 

 Yup, I could work on all those things.  How about you?!


Friday, October 14, 2016

Food I Ate Friday - Whole Grain Breakfast Bars

A few months back, Bill and I decided we wanted to start making our own granola bars, since we want to avoid ingesting as many chemicals as possible, and I finally got around to doing it!

A few notes on my method: I cut the sugar in half (and made sure to use organic) and added other "add-ins" (coconut flakes and a little dark chocolate) and guys... these things are not only delicious but they are healthy and hearty.  I think they could handle whatever additions you wanted to make - any dried fruit or nuts especially.

We bought really good quality stone ground whole wheat flour, which holds more of the nutrients than standard flour, and I use almond milk.  I also up the cinnamon amount because its good for digestion.  This has been such a great grab and go breakfast, as Bill is out the door at 6 am these days, and I love having an easy breakfast option.

Ingredients

4.75 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Cooking spray

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl

3. Place bananas in a large bowl; mash until smooth. Add sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir until combined. Add flour mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries

4. Spread dough into a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 bars.


Be healthy my friends!  

Enjoy your weekend and get outside and enjoy the fall :)

Credit to Cooking Light.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Penny For Your Thoughts - Releasing Aesthetic

“Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15b

The realization that stuff isn’t making me happy was bigger than it probably should have been for me lately.  I am in constant pursuit of more, but what if I get rid of a bunch of stuff then don’t replace the stuff I have left with anything until it breaks down? 

For me, this is revolutionary, and has removed so much pressure from my day to day life.  Bill and I really are trying to figure out what it looks like to reject consumerism, but still value supporting small businesses and that sometimes the passion for less stuff can be just as distracting as the passion for more.  Our journey in this world is always about finding balance.  We can spend our lives shopping and rearranging, but does that really accomplish anything?  Once you have furniture in a room, can’t you just let it be?  Do we need to redecorate seasonally?  Or is that just another way to spend money? These are the kinds of thoughts rolling around in my mind.

My goal is first to serve the Lord and honor his commandments and secondarily to have friends, family and anyone who crosses our path feel comfortable with us and in our home and have it always feel like a place they are welcome and not judged.  Creating an environment people are comfortable in is not about having the prettiest things or the most aesthetically pleasing home, I think it is more about being present to what they need in the moment.  

I am releasing the aesthetic need for the cutest plates and prettiest serving dishes and remembering that it is more important to show care for their souls and their physical hunger than to post a picture to Instagram of how beautiful our meal is.  However, I do think there is something to be said for making every meal feel special and lighting candles and making a table beautiful for no reason, just because :)  I am just trying to remove the pressure to do so.  Every meal does not have to be colorful.  Every meal does not need to be photographed.  God knows I am guilty of this.  I am sure my husband will read this and praise the Lord for victory over this subject.  In true transparency, I might wrestle with not taking pictures of my food all the time.  However, like everything else, acknowledging the problem is the first step to addressing it.  I feel pathetic admitting that, but I don't want people to think my soapbox has nothing to do with me.  It is 100% my own problem.


Wow, sorry I am stringing you through this thought processing session.  I have SO much on my heart on this subject, and to be honest it is taking me by surprise.  

Come over for dinner and we can chat about it :)  Seriously.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Norm Rooney Turns 1


This little fluff turned 1 yesterday!

What a sweet pup Norm is and I can’t help but smile thinking about all the joy he has brought into our lives. 

Happy Belated Birthday Norm Rooney.  

So glad you are a member of the Rogers Family!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Holiday Weekend

So many puppy snuggles
Cleaning my house top to bottom
Beer with my husband
BBQ in our backyard
Sunshine 
Gardening
Sleeping in past 6am
Yoga at a brewery
Ethiopian food
Family beach walk
Laughter
Dancing in the kitchen
Birkenstocks
So much coffee
Family time
Paleo pancakes
Lit candles
Farmer's market
Essential oils
An old musical
Bare feet
Guacamole
Grandma smiles


Monday, August 29, 2016

When I am out on a walk with Norm I listen to Pandora and recently a Regina Spektor song came on that really affected my spirit.

I thought I would share the lyrics here and allow them to have the opportunity to impact anyone reading this.


"Laughing With"

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’ve lost all they’ve got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one laughing at God in hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Backyard Beer Festival Surprise


I had the best intentions of posting this last month!

The Saturday before the 4th of July we threw a surprise birthday beer festival for Bill’s Uncle Al’s 50th birthday and we PULLED. IT. OFF.  Bill’s cousin Meghan is a rock star and she had the whole thing on lock down.  Al thought he was coming to a BBQ at our house, but when he arrived friends and family were waiting outside to greet him with a beer themed Hawaiian shirt, a pretzel necklace and personalized beer tasting glasses.  He genuinely had no idea!  


The day was full of fun and laughter.  “Our family taco guy" was in full force.  There was SO much good beer.  Everything went according to plan, and was even better than we imagined.

I love having our home full of people.  It is such an honor to host a party and have people able to relax in the environment you help to create.  


 Happy 50th Al!

We love you so much and hope you felt so spoiled!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Scenes From My Weekend - Summertime Goodness


I love being outside this time of year, and I have been filling my weekends with tons of time in the sun and exploring.  This past weekend Bill and I went to an outdoor movie night with a few friends around the corner from our house on Friday night.  The movie was Jurassic Park (so awesome right?) and there was a Korean BBQ truck and good beer… It’s how every Friday night should be.  Isn’t there something so wonderful about watching a movie under the stars?! 

Saturday morning Bill and I tended to the garden, picked oranges, and admired how much is growing (including that wonderful lettuce crop and tons of green tomatoes just waiting to turn red!).  In the afternoon, we went up to LA with my sisters and brother in law and had incredible Thai food at Pok Pok LA, visited the Last Bookstore and checked out Grand Central Market LA.  It is so nice to just go on a little adventure with my family and laugh together.  I think the importance of laughter can be overlooked.  Oh and guys, all of those places were gold.  And so is my family.  So it was a big win of a Saturday.


Sunday after a lovely outdoor morning church service, we met up with a friend and his wife at Bootleggers Brewery.   I met him in Italy 10 years ago and catching up on the last ten years of life over beers in the sunshine was so refreshing.  After that, we picked up our pup from the groomers (he sure doesn’t look like that picture anymore – insert tears… I hate cutting his hair) and headed home for an evening of food prep and reading before an early bedtime.

Typing this out seems silly, because it was a perfectly normal weekend.  We all have them.  A mix of practical and fun.  We took care of important things, debated what really matters, discussed theology, ate yummy food, spent time with people we love and laughed.  Recently I am reminded in those uncomplicated moments that the real joy and depth comes from becoming familiar during those times.  Sharing a meal and laughing together bonds us more than we know.  I am clinging tight to every moment with my loved ones these days and remembering that when life feels easy to find rest, because hard times come in waves, but you have to enjoy the good times while you are in them.  

And these days are full of good times for me, and I will not take that for granted.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Food I Ate Fridays - Aloo Gobi (Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes)


For me, Indian food is something really amazing. The flavors, the smell, the textures… it’s just it for me. I truly swoon.  Flavor bomb... in the best way.

I also am a sucker for something that goes in the crock pot, so when I ran across this recipe on Pinterest I tried it very quickly. The amount that I loved it should be wrong… and guys… it’s pretty healthy.  so basically it makes me feel like a rock star.

Indian cauliflower and potatoes (#vegan #glutenfree).

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and sliced (seeds and all, if you like it very spicy; otherwise, remove the seeds)
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste (original recipe calls for 1 Tbsp cayenne; see reader comments)
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 heaping Tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped


Directions

In a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except the cilantro. Stir well to distribute the spices.
Cook on LOW for 4 hours, stirring once or twice, if you're around.
Add the cilantro just before you're ready to serve the aloo gobi with rice or naan bread.

THATS IT!  And your reward is so good... try it and tell me what you think!



Very soon I will start sharing recipes with you inspired from our garden and all the fantastic veggies that it is producing, but for now, I am catching up on a few other ones I wanted to share. 

Have the most wonderful weekend friends. 

So much love for you.


As always, original picture and recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Be Encouraged - My Heart on Summer and Insecurity


It has been awhile since I did a drop everything and get vulnerable post about something I am struggling with, but I never want anyone to think I have it all together, so here it goes.

Lately, in every yoga class, my teacher’s seem to always mention that summer is here and bikini season is upon us and I cringe every time. However, it is not because I do not feel comfortable or confident in a bathing suit, but because things like that make me feel like I SHOULD NOT feel comfortable or confident until my body is rock hard and perfect by society’s standards. Let’s get something clear, I do not think a perfect body exists. I think it is something so many people are trying to attain and they miss out on all the life they could be living. There will always be something you want to change. Health is important, but the two DO NOT go hand in hand. Excess weight is not good. But having a six pack IS NOT IMPORTANT. You cannot convince me that God wants you to be the most chiseled version of yourself and that is how he wants you spending your time. Being healthy does not equal having a hot body, and this mentality rips people apart. 
 
My recent realization has been that my struggle is not with myself, but it is with the constant need to compare perpetrated to me by others. Anyone can take anything too far, even things that are intended for good. I am not here to attack, but to simply suggest that finding balance is to remove the extreme. If something becomes an obsession how can it be healthy? Obsession by definition is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind. If we are constantly pre-occupied with our body shape and diet and exercise plan we will not be able to focus on what actually matters, i.e. loving our neighbors as ourselves and loving the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. Y’all, release it and accept yourself in the body that God gave you. Nurture that body. Give it nutrients and take care of it, but do not let that self-care turn into something that overshadows everything else. So many conversations revolve around “when I lose ten more pounds” and I want you to release that mentality and start living now. Exercise can be a form of therapy, but it shouldn’t be your only form. Make sure that along with doing the things to care for our body we are also doing the things needed to care for our minds and hearts. A perfect looking person that is lacking depth is not what the Bible calls us to.

Anyways, as I climb off my soapbox I am reminded that I am only human and currently wrestling with the way my pants are fitting and anxiety about my yoga class this evening and feeling like it is going to kick my butt and make me feel self-conscious, so trust me I am preaching to myself as well. I think of it like the faith of a mustard seed argument though. Imagine how much it would affect you if just like 1% of your mentality about your body image could change?! You know what is the most beautiful thing… when someone is really, genuinely and completely happy. That is my goal; the joy of the Lord to renew my strength.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Maui - Highlights and Recommendations


Bill and I had such a blast in Maui, and I had a few recommendations to pass along for anyone visiting this beautiful island in the future!  Most of them revolve around food and drinks, because, well... duh ;) 



We affectionately call this restaurant on the water "Al's Bar" because I am pretty sure Bill's uncle Al would live in a hammock here if it was possible.  This was one of the first places we went when we arrived in Maui and one of those places that seemed too beautiful to be real.  It was such a gorgeous day and we shared pupus and drank a round of mai tais and just sunk into it.  

5 Palms is a condo building and this bar/restaurant is on the ground floor and there is also a yoga studio below along the water where I took a class one morning.  The waves crashed and the class was gentle. I wish I had done that every single morning.  It was glorious. 

Overall, I wouldn't miss this location.  It was blissfully wonderful.



This was our first stop on the island and it did not disappoint.  I think between the 6 of us we tried most of the beer they have available, and the tasting room is beautiful.  The coconut porter was my personal favorite, but honestly everything we tried was absolutely fantastic and it is nestled in a lovely breezy setting.  We sat on the patio and took our time... It was the best way to begin the trip.  I fished out a tank top in their discount bin on the way out and I love it - the perfect summer tank to remind me of a wonderful experience.



When traveling I am ALL ABOUT local/cultural experiences, so of course I jumped at the chance to have what is considered "Hawaiian" breakfast.  Bill and I split a "Loco Moco" and some other items, but I just loved how unique this was.  Two eggs (made to order), ground beef patty, white rice and brown gravy... Delicious.  Maybe I should become Hawaiian, and take up a running hobby because I will need to if I am eating this kind of breakfast everyday!

This little cafe was also a very special stop because Bill's grandparents went to Maui together every year for many years with some of their dear friends and went to Kihei cafe every morning whenever they were on the island.  So special to experience a place so close to their hearts!



Every time I told people I was going to Maui and asked for suggestions everyone said to go to Mama's!  So the place was hyped up for me, and let me tell you, it really lived up to it.  Amazing cocktails, beautiful view, ridiculous food... it truly was the entire package and I understood why it comes so highly recommended.  

I got a traditional Hawaiian feast and, you guys, every single element was so fantastic.  It came with Mahi Mahi and Wild boar cooked in a ti leaf with a few small sides (that completely rocked my world).  It is one of those places that every single element is handled with such care and our waitress knew everything about each accompaniment.  The fish caught for this restaurant are caught that morning and the menu says what the fisherman's name was and where it was caught... doesn't get much fresher than that!  

This restaurant is right down the street from Ho'okaipa Beach known for tons of sea turtles that come ashore and swim right off the beach.  We went over and saw the turtles and drank coconut water straight out of the coconut (picture in previous post).  Gorgeous, clear, perfect water... such a cool place and experience.



This restaurant gave me major heart eyes.

Someone Bill’s father works with is associated with it, and it was more than just good food.  We had a table reserved at the rooftop bar and live music began a little after we arrived.  Everything was amazing… the food, the service, the music and the view.  At sunset there was a traditional Hawaiian ceremony and we learned about some of the Maui culture.  I cannot even explain why this meal and place were so wonderful, it just had magic.  We all relaxed and enjoyed and no one wanted to leave.  The person singing had such an incredible voice and the ambiance was lingering even after we left.    



This place was probably my favorite place of the trip.  We went to the Southern most point of the island that we could drive to from where we were and we walked along the water.  There is lava rock and live billy goats in this area and it was such colorful and incredible scenery.  The walk along the water was truly breathtaking and somewhere I would go often to clear my head if I lived near by.  Bill seemed really happy here too (which always makes me love a place more) and the drive to this location was fantastic.  



Wow, I guess I had a lot to say - this turned into a very long post!  

 I have so many more places worth mentioning, but these were some of the many highlights of our trip.  I can't wait to go back and have more to tell from my next visit :) 

Aloha friends, have a wonderful weekend!



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It's the Little Things - Simple Moments of Weekend Bliss





This weekend was lovely and I thought I would share a few reasons why:

1. Mimosas with OJ squeezed from the oranges in our backyard always make me happy, and drinking out of champagne glasses is so fantastic.

2. Bill and I went to a community event a few miles away with a friend this weekend at an aquaponics farm in the middle of a neighborhood with grilled cheese and good beer and a DJ and it was just wonderful and we all left feeling inspired. 

3. A sunflower started growing under our tangerine tree and it has finally bloomed!  Every day I look out my kitchen window at it and smile.  I feel like it should be the center of a motivational poster with a saying like “Never Give Up “

4. I love my Rifle Paper Company calendar and every month when I get to flip to the new page I get more excited than I probably should.  I am loving June (major heart eyes).


Hope your weekend had moments of happiness that caused you to be thankful for the air that fills your lungs.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Adventures in Home Owning - The Rogers Family Garden


Oh my gosh you guys... We have been having such an adventure learning how to garden in our backyard (Well, I have, Bill gets it and is teaching me the ways, which is fun for him, so we all win!).  We built our own raised planter beds and filled them with compost and garden soil.  I never got it, the appeal was lost on me.  But I am WAY on board now.  We planted almost everything from seed (a couple tomato plants as the exception). It is about more than just the produce and the end result, there is just a therapy in getting your hands dirty and working in your own backyard.  I think it is giving both Bill and I a whole new round of pride of ownership.

The pictures above are before and after, the before is right after we prepped the dirt for the boxes (it looked much worse with some rocks randomly in this open area when we moved in).  The end result looks fabulous, and it has spurred us to dream of owning a farm one day.  We have plans to continue to make it beautiful and put rocks down in between with pavers and more, but in the meantime I thought I would share our joy.

In those boxes we are growing corn, zucchini, pickling cucumbers, green onions, a Paris market mix of lettuce, rainbow beets, radishes, brussel sprouts, eggplants, kale, rainbow carrots, jalapeno, serrano, and Thai chili peppers and three different kinds of tomatoes.  We also have a herb garden (not pictured) that has lavender, rosemary, cilantro, sage and dill.  There are sunflowers and dahlias planted too and this weekend we are buying berry bushes!  


We are looking forward to our summer tomato and pepper harvest, and everything that comes in between.  We are coming to the end of the oranges currently on our trees, and we know that come August the tangerines will be ready and we will go full speed ahead again with all our citrus.  We have made our own pickles and limoncello in the last few weeks and wow it has all been such a fun process!

I am sure this is the first of many posts about the garden and everything that comes from it.  I plan to post garden inspired recipes as we navigate the best ways to enjoy these veggies at their most fresh.  

Can you feel my excitement?  



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Maui - Mahalo for your Kokua


Maui was incredible you guys.

The bluest ocean, freshest seafood, amazing drinks, splendid yoga, tropical produce, shave ice, beach for days, gorgeous sunsets and sea turtles everywhere!

It is three weeks later and it still hasn’t sunk in fully that we went, as we were only able to be there 4 days.  I will be posting again about some highlights of the trip and recommendations for future Maui goers, but for now, I just wanted to tell you it was a dreamy location and that the coconut water (pictured above) was glorious.

More pictures and details to come.


Happy Tuesday!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Food I Ate Friday - Summer Salads

I am always on the hunt for a good summer salad recipe that is filling, but not heavy, and recently, I found two!  They would be the perfect addition to a Memorial Day BBQ, so I made sure to share them with you in time for the holiday weekend J

I assume everyone who enjoys hosting has a “go-to” generic salad, and are looking for something easy and simple to mix it up.  These are both refreshing and interesting, and I am very much into that.

Grilled Salmon with White Bean and Arugula Salad


Ingredients

1 tablespoon chopped capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
Cooking spray
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups loosely packed arugula
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

Directions:

1. Whisk together capers, rind, juice, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic, and red pepper in a bowl.

2. Place beans in a bowl; drizzle with 2 tablespoons caper mixture.

3. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Coat salmon with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add salmon to pan, skin side down; cook 6 minutes. Turn salmon over; cook 1 minute or until done. Keep warm.

4. Add arugula and onion to bowl with beans. Drizzle with remaining caper mixture; toss. Divide salad among 4 plates; top each serving with 1 fillet. Serve immediately.


Watermelon and Arugula Chicken Salad


Ingredients

4 cups cubed fresh watermelon
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 (5-ounce) package arugula
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
8 ounces skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Combine watermelon, onion, mint, and arugula in a large bowl. Add almonds and chicken; toss to combine. Combine oil, rind, juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add oil mixture to watermelon mixture; toss gently to coat.

Original Recipe Found Here: Watermelon and Arugula Chicken Salad 


Have a lovely holiday weekend friends.  
Squeeze in a workout, eat something healthy and get outside!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Ready for the Weekend


Y’all!  I’m tired.  

It’s been a busy week, and I got back into daily work outs this week.  Every muscle in my body hurts in a blissful way.  What a luxury to have the freedom and time to exercise for pleasure.  I did not realize how much my muscles needed to be WORKED.  I get a little stronger every day and I know this season of exhaustion will pass.  I have some posts in the works to fill you in on our growing garden and composting efforts and to tell you more about our trip to Maui!  

Make sure to stayed tuned and have the most lovely of weekends.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

It's The Little Things - Boat Karaoke, Killer Views and Lunch Break Visits

My parents come to visit as often as they can, and every time I am blessed by their presence.


We usually do not take off work when they are here, and use my vacation time for other trips, so they usually bounce around to visit me and my sisters for lunch and we are all together in the evenings (and obviously the weekend).  When I get my lunch turn with them, it is always my favorite time of their trips.  Just me and them talking through so much.  It is so different to talk on the phone than to be next to them, and I treasure those conversations.  So much.  Sharing fries, sampling each others sandwiches, discussing our love for certain TV shows, debating on books we read, it's all just so silly, but being together doing it is what life is about.



Their most recent visit was at the end of March and on one of their last nights we rented a duffy boat in Newport Harbor for a few hours and cruised around singing random songs at the top of our lungs and eating barbacoa salads from Café Rio while sipping beer and wine and laughing til our stomachs hurt.  I will hold that memory for a long time, it was so much fun and I remember the smile on everyone’s faces.  My mom and dad looked so happy, and that is so important to me.


Bill and I had a wonderful happy hour with them one night alone as well and we sipped cocktails, ate briny oysters and caught up on life with the most incredible view (sorry the picture doesn’t do it justice… check out the restaurant here).  It’s so hard to really accurately describe quality time, it’s just such an important part of life and family and not really put into words.  Connecting, being together and sharing life... Makes my heart feel home.


Thanks for making visits a priority mom and dad. 

I love you so much.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Arizona Spring Training - Beers and Cheers


Since I met Bill he has been talking about going back to spring training in Arizona, and this year we finally got to go!  We packed our car up and headed out on a Friday evening and our 4 hour drive turned into 7 when we finally arrived at Bill’s Aunt and Uncle’s house (Rain and a flooded highway… the stuff of good stories).  As soon as we arrived, I was so glad we came.  Paul and Alice are such wonderful hosts and have such a welcoming attitude.  They stayed up late to hang with us and that meant so much to us.  We had such a blast!  I cannot believe we have not gone sooner.  We hit two different stadiums, saw the Angel’s win, stayed up in the hot tub laughing, spent time with dear friends and family, visited a local brewery and soaked up some sunshine. 

Bill and I love going to baseball games.  It was even worked into our wedding “theme”.  There is something magical about baseball stadiums, a tangible energy.  Maybe it is the yogi in me that senses the energy ha, but I am always just excited to arrive at a stadium, smell the hot dogs, get a cold beer in my hand and feels peanut shells beneath my feet.  Even though I complain when it is hot out, I secretly love it.  It is one of my absolute favorite ways to spend a summer day, just sitting at a baseball game with my guy.


We met family and friends there and our sweet godson was such a trooper.  He just fell asleep and ran around and we made it work.  His parents are some of our favorites, and just being around them is all we need.  We had the most killer pizza the last night and recognized that our friendship is one that we hold dear.  As usual, Ali and I cried when we parted ways, and we all discussed how we should live near each other.  Sigh…One day friends, one day.

Will we go again? You bet!  Paul and Alice, keep that guest room ready.  

Can’t wait for another visit!



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Maui or Bust


Bill and I fly out this morning to explore the beautiful island of Maui!  

We are celebrating Bill's father being honored professionally, toasting to much more future success and having a Rogers family vacation.  Mai Tai's await us and I cannot wait to have that lei around my neck.  

I am sure a post about all the fun we had will appear when we return, but for now Aloha and see you next week. I will be the one full of poke with tan skin and new island vibes!

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Wecker Five - On Our Sibling Tattoo and It's Greater Meaning


My best friends are my siblings.

As we get older, I am more aware that our relationship is rare.

So many people have so much distance in their family and have a different experience of what siblings are to each other.  For me, every time we get together, it is coming home.  Should my parents ever leave their physical house entirely, those people will still feel like home (although the house they live in is magical and I should write about that for the world to hear).    I cry every time I leave my family, and I cannot help myself.  They make me feel like me.  Isn’t nostalgia an amazing force?! It's more than that though right?  It is a spiritual connection in a way.  We are tied to our family in such a unique compilation of emotions.  Putting it to words almost feels wrong, like there is no way to describe the force that exists between family. 

Our parents love us more than I can comprehend and brought us up in church with Christian schooling, ballet, drama, and athletics across the board.  Ups and downs with death and new life, heartbreak and victories, celebrations and defeats, our family went through it all.  Really hard times and really beautiful times.  Times that we were united and times when we were torn apart.  When I think about it, I am amazed that we are as close as we are.  What would have torn others apart really brought us closer.   Does everyone get overwhelmed thinking about their family story?  As we add new members through marriage and birth I am constantly amazed that my heart can expand because it always feels at capacity with the amount of love I have for each and every one of my family members.

Most of you know us, but I’ll give you our rundown just to be sure we are all on the same page.  Christian and I are twins, and the oldest of the “Wecker Clan”.  Stephen came 1 year and 50 weeks later.  Faith was 2 and a half years later and Joy was 2 years and few months after Faith.  The boys are on the East Coast (Pittsburgh and Baltimore), and the girls are on the West Coast (Long Beach and Anaheim).  I pray for a day where we are all in the same place at the same time.  I am not sure how or when, but I know my parents pray for the same thing.  However, during this season of life (which is now going on 10 years for me in California), we rely heavily on Facetime, text messaging and phone calls to feel together.  

I cannot recall exactly when the idea of a “Sibling tattoo” was first dreamed up, but I know it has been an evolving process for quite some time.  At first it was going to be a 5 (or some rendition there of – tally marks, Roman numerals, etc…).  Where we landed was five dots, and the order you are in the sibling order is filled in.  Everyone put their’s in a different place, and mine is the only one on my foot, but I honestly feel so connected every single time I look at that tattoo.  It reminds me of a bond that exists between 5 people as we are now, adults who grew up together.

Adult siblings is a new world for all of us that demands respect and grace in new ways.  While inevitable conflict exists, as we navigate these new waters, I think that we are the strongest we have ever been.  We know what sacrifice is, recognize strengths and weaknesses, are learning daily about love, are learning to respect each others differences, are growing to understand that faith involves theology and that we can share faith and disagree on the theological aspects.  My siblings are intelligent, faithful, intellectual and creative individuals.  I am amazed that God chose me to walk through life with them and if my tattoo could speak, it would tell you all those things, every day, for the rest of my life.




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Matthew Robert Simone - My Best Friends Miracle

My dear friend Heather wrote the following words on her blog, and I could not help but share her incredible story (She included more pictures of her new bundle of joy on her blog, so make sure to check those out!).  To say I am blessed to call this beautiful woman a best friend would not be to give her enough credit.  She continually impresses me and I am so proud to know her.  

Heather Simone, I love you and your family and am so glad you have found so much joy with them.  You are an amazing person and someone who protects those that you love fiercely.  Your boys (that includes you too Rob!) are in good hands.  I only hope to be half the mom that you are one day.


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For Heathers Blog, Click this Link.  

(Make sure to look back over her first born son's incredible story as well)  

This girl has lot's to share with the world!

Present Day- "You may want to consider a therapeutic abortion." Back in August, those words were spoken to me and as I sit here holding my newborn son, those words ring in my ears. Me, mother of one already, woman who wants MORE children, ME. How could this have happened? At a mere 4 weeks pregnant, those words still stung me to my core. I was comforted by a verse read to me a few days earlier by my mother, 1 Peter 1:6. “Be truly glad. There is a wonderful joy ahead." God knew I needed just a tad bit more reassurance in those seconds of silence on the phone with my doctor, and the words to Hillsong's Oceans, which I just sang at church a few days prior started overpower the sentence that had just been spoken to me. "You've never failed, and you won't start now". God began telling me in those moments to trust Him. To look back and see what intricate plan He had been working on. All of these thoughts flew through my head in literally seconds. With tears in my eyes and a shaky voice, I said to my doctor, "No, that's not an option."

June 2015- I started having some issues with my pacemaker. I'm admittedly stubborn and when I finally went to the doctor in July, it was determined by my cardiologist, I needed a specialist to determine what was wrong. Despite the specialist being booked until mid-August, I got a call the next day asking me if I could take an appointment that very week because his schedule had suddenly opened up. Coincidence? I think not. At this appointment, the Electrophysiologist quickly discovered the problem. He was able to do a “quick fix” that stopped the symptoms I was having and explained that there was no immediate danger. The problem could be fixed whenever I wanted. I could wait 18 months until my battery life was lower, I could wait to see if the problem got worse, or go ahead and get things taken care of in the next few months. After some prayer and discussion my husband, Rob, and I came up with some questions for my doctor to help determine what course to take. Number 1 on the list- What if I were to get pregnant in the next 18 months? The answer was simply stated “We cannot do the surgery if you are pregnant.” Although we were not trying or planning to try, 18 months is a long time. We decided we would schedule surgery for some time in September. God intervened again, and my doctor with the jam packed schedule, gave me a surgery time a week later, for my non-emergent pacemaker switch out. The timing wasn't ideal for me. I had things I wanted to do the rest of the summer and recovering from surgery wasn't one of them. I resisted, was angry and annoyed that my plans were getting messed with. God likes to laugh at my plan to make a plan mantra; He often reminds me that His plan reigns supreme. I tried to fight the fact that I knew this is what was happening, but after some angry tears and rationale from Rob and my mother, I accepted the surgery time. The timing although not ideal for my wants, was ideal for everyone else. My mother who works during the school year, arrived to stay for a portion of my recovery time to help care for me and our 18 month old son. 

August 3rd- I arrived at Hopkins. Standard pre-op procedures were done, including a blood pregnancy test. My results were negative. The surgery went well. There was an additional complication with my pacemaker that was not detected beforehand. My doctor found and corrected that while he was in there. This added an additional hour and a half to my procedure. While I was in recovery, the doctor reported back to Rob saying, "It's a good thing we did this now, with the other complication there were more risks with waiting that we didn't know about”

August 5th- Now home recovering with my prescription pain meds I had a random fleeting thought. What if the pregnancy test was negative because God knew I needed the surgery, but I really am pregnant?" I don't know exactly where the thought came from and it went as quickly as it came. I shared with Rob, who immediately laughed and said I was crazy. I wrote it off as hormones, pain meds and lingering anesthesia. 
August 6th- The thought comes and stays longer this time. By mid-day I had rationalized to myself that I needed to take a test because I didn't want to continue with my heavy pain meds until I had confirmation. I truly didn't expect a result different than what it was in the hospital, but 3 minutes later I saw those 2 pink lines and began to weep. Panic set in. I had undergone radiation, anesthesia, heavy pain meds and to top it off, I remembered the words of my doctor, "This surgery cannot be done while pregnant." Questions flooded my head. What had I just exposed my child to? Why had God allowed this? How in the world am I pregnant?! After taking 3 more positive tests, there was no denying it. I was pregnant. I called my OB and explained the situation and they told me that if I had a blood negative just a few days prior, these at home tests were wrong and I needed a blood test confirmation. I called my regular doctor and went in for yet another test and blood draw. Their initial testing was also positive. The next day, my growth hormone level was high enough that there was no way it should have come up negative just a few days before. I called Hopkins where I had my surgery, and asked to have my blood test results read to me again. They were negative. Now having processed this chaos I found myself in, the word shielded became a powerful one to me. As I had cried to God about why He'd let this happen, another thought was impressed upon me- My baby was fine, God has shielded them from any harm. My confirmation to this thought came a few hours later as my mother had a verse pop up on her computer- Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield. I will wait for your word.” I began to cry again- God shielded my baby. Everything would be fine! A call from my heart doctor came soon after this. After hearing my situation he explained why this surgery isn't done on pregnant women. There was a constant radiation flowing through my body for the entirety of the procedure. He explained that at such a high volume he felt that irreparable damage was likely caused. "You may want to consider a therapeutic abortion". He was doing his job of course, and he was respectful of my decision to not pursue that option, and I still see him for my heart issues. I hold no ill will towards him. He didn't know what I did. God shielded my baby, and my baby was fine. Confirmation once again came soon after in the form of the verse of the day in my mom's devotional. Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw me when I was formless. All my days were written in your book and planned before a single one began.”

August 26th- My pregnancy was not drama free. At 6 weeks I began to bleed. I thought for sure that this precious baby that God had shielded was going on to be with Him before it even had a name. I prayed all night that God would save my child, or at least allow them to feel and know it was loved and cherished during its short time here. As I sat in the waiting room with other pregnant moms waiting to catch a glimpse of their child's face on an ultrasound, I cried as I waited to find out if mine was even alive. As soon as the ultrasound began I saw that flicker of a heartbeat and the nurse turned up the volume for us to hear that beautiful beat. God reminded me of His power, control and compassion in those moments. "I've never failed, and I won't start now." 

November 19th- My OB recommended I see a Perinatologist for multiple reasons during this pregnancy. One of which was the radiation exposure. At our first visit with him, he told us that he felt the timing was literally "just right" for NO harm to have been caused to our child, however he wanted to keep a close eye throughout the pregnancy. At our 20 week ultrasound, he confirmed that no damage had been caused and felt we were in the clear. I prefer to say that we were in the palm of God’s hand.

Present Day- Matthew Robert "a bright gift from God” is now here with us, healthy and perfect in every way. He is a constant reminder of how God has woven each of us together with great care, love and intricacy. He makes no mistakes. Hind sight is 20/20 and even better than that, God is always 20/20. As I look back over Matthew's story I see God in all the tiniest details, to the largest ones. His timing is perfect, His plan is perfect. From opening an appointment so I could see my doctor sooner, getting my surgery scheduled at the "just right" time for no damage to be caused, a timely false negative pregnancy test that we've been told scientifically should have been positive, the daily confirmations like special verses or song lyrics that would come to my mind. Through all of those things and more, God showed me how to relinquish my own control to Him and rely fully on His grace, power and perfect plan. To say our healthy son is a miracle, feels like an understatement. So many people rely so heavily on science, but Matthew’s story defies it and makes me want to lean deeper into faith instead of reason. Every time I look at his sweet face I remember what the Lord had brought our family through to get here together, safely, held in the palm of His hand. It’s easy to go day to day not realizing what God is protecting us from. Since this journey unfolded, I have found myself more and more grateful for His protection and plan for my life and my family’s lives. I pray that God will use my life and Matthew’s life to reassure those around me that He DOES have a plan, and that it is so much greater and more perfect than our own. No matter what you are walking through friends, be reassured that the Lord Almighty is walking it with you, shielding you from things you could not be aware of and things you cannot see.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Food I Ate Friday - Vegan Brownies


Y'all, I know what you are thinking.  Vegan Brownies?  

Come on Ryan.

Hear me out!

These babies were easy, healthy and honestly tasted like a fudgey brownie! What's could be wrong with that?! There is a chance I will always have a batch of these in my fridge moving forward. 

I'm TRYING to move towards a healthier mindset, although I crave French fries daily, but recipes like this are just the ticket to make me feel like I'm not missing much. Try it, and please let me know your thoughts. 

Two thumbs up over here! 

Ingredients

2½ cups loosely packed pitted dates
1 1/2 cups walnuts
6 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp water
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder
¼ cup pure maple syrup (or raw agave)
2 tbsp vegetable or melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine the dates, walnuts, 6 tbsp cocoa, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, water, and salt in a food processor. Process until completely smooth, scraping down as needed – It may seem dry at first, but don’t add any extra water. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan, or line the pan with parchment or wax paper. Transfer dough to pan and press very firmly until dough is evenly distributed in the pan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining cocoa and vanilla extract with the maple syrup and oil. Stir until mixture forms a paste (this is the frosting). Spread evenly over dough in the baking pan. Refrigerate brownies for at least 2 hours, to set. Leftovers can stay covered at room temperature for a day, or up to 2 weeks in the fridge, or 1-2 months in the freezer.

Credit where credit is due: Original Recipe Found Here