Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow Days, The Sequel

We are home bound once again, after receiving another eight inches of snow this week. Two snowstorms a week apart, real unusual for us. Everyone was well prepared schools and many places of business closed at noon on Tuesday before the first flake even fell. I had always thought these closings were a bit of an over reaction but after seeing what happened on some of the roads in Alabama and Georgia there is wisdom in it.

Schools will probably be closed the rest of the week, many places of business are still closed (including my husbands) so things are quiet around here. I am thankful for this time, it's a gift to have our schedules stopped for a couple of days. Even without children in the home our lives are busy it's a different season, we have different responsibilities but life continues to be busy. I'm not complaining, just thankful for this time of quiet.

We have made good use of the time, I have cooked (soup beans with ham hock in the crock pot) went for a walk in the snow, something we all seemed compelled to do when it snows here, did some reading (I have already fallen behind on my reading plan for the year), worked on putting blog into book form and have been cleaning up my files in IPhoto. I take thousands of photos over the year, so I have been deleting and organizing making room for new ones during these quiet days. Come to think of it I should probably clean out my email boxes as well.

I desire to make the most of every opportunity even if the opportunity is simply be quiet and to stop

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow Days

Snow around here is a novelty, some winters we don't get any and if it does snow, it is generally melted within a day or two. I don't own a snow shovel and I don't know many who actually own a sled. You are most likely to see a trash can lid, cardboard box or  boogie board going down a slippery slope for fun in the snow here. (I even saw a photo of someone using a surfboard on FB last week) Trash bags taped around the ankle work in a pinch for boots. That's how it rolls down here.

We got a little bit of snow last week, maybe two or three inches and it closed everything down. Schools were closed two days and most places of business were closed the day of the "storm" That snow didn't go away for several days because the temperatures stayed below freezing, but this grandma wasn't complaining because it gave me the opportunity to get some photos

Even though I am not a big fan of snow...too cold, it slows us all down from our busy lives. Schedules stop, everyone is home, we have time to play games, pop popcorn, cook, work on projects together and enjoy each others company, not really a bad thing.      Why are we so busy?

The snow is going to make a repeat performance sometime today, so it looks like we will be home bound again,  and I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dairy Free "Cream" of Cauliflower Soup

We are homebound today after after freezing rain and snow blew through last night. What makes it worse is they are not expecting the temperatures to go above freezing for the next couple of days. This kind of weather shuts everything down around our neck of the woods, we are in the south, we don't do snow well. (right after husband spent twenty minutes clearing the car, his work called and told to him to stay home, his office would be closed)

I like being homebound, it puts me in the mood to cook, and soup is a natural for days like today. I make a lot of soup, especially in the winter, pair it with a sandwich or a nice piece of bread and you have a meal. I am always on the lookout for a new recipe and have been trying to find ways to adapt some of the old recipes I made before going dairy free. 

I used to make a cauliflower cheese soup, it no longer worked with my new dairy free lifestyle, but I really had a taste for it.  I started with the base of the old cauliflower cheese recipe and adjusted and added/deleted  ingredients until I came up with something that tasted pretty good. An immersion blender and coconut milk made it so creamy that I didn't even miss the cheese. I knew it was a winner when husband remarked that I needed to write down what I did so I could make this soup again. 

Cream of Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2-3 slices of bacon, chopped 
1-2 cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon butter spread (I use Earth Balance)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Break/cut  cauliflower into small pieces and cook in water till fork tender. While cauliflower cooking saute chopped carrot and onion in 1 tablespoon butter spread in saucepan until tender, take it out of saucepan and set aside. Then cook bacon in that same saucepan until crisp, drain on paper towel. Once cauliflower is cooked, drain and add remaining butter spread, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add about a cup of coconut milk and begin using the immersion blender and continue adding the coconut milk until it gets to the consistency that you like. I blended the cauliflower until it was pretty smooth, you may like it a little chunkier. After blending the cauliflower I added the bacon, (reserve a little for garnish)  blended, then added the onions and carrots. I only blended a few seconds after I added carrots and onion because I wanted some texture. I garnished with the leftover bacon bits.

I like the thicker consistency, you may like yours a little thinner. Seasoning could also be adjusted to your taste. My goal was to make a cream soup without using dairy, this worked

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Embracing This Season

Last fall I considered going back to work. I have to admit there wasn't a lot of thought process involved in the decision or much time spent in prayer, it was a more of a reactionary response to some events we were experiencing. (never a good thing)

 I went online, found a position that looked promising, put my application in and forgot about it. Fast forward four weeks later... I was called for an interview.... again without thinking.. OR praying about it. I agreed to the interview and a week later  I was offered the position and accepted it.

I now had a job but no peace....none. It seemed like the perfect position, the hours were flexible, and the compensation was good, but had I really considered all that would change at home? Had I considered the physical challenges? Had I really counted the cost of me going back to work?

The truth was I had enjoyed being home and it has been good for me physically. Last year was kind of a recovery year for me, so it was easy to justify not looking for employment after I lost my job but, I have been feeling so much better, wouldn't I be more of a help bringing in some extra income instead of staying home?

Now, I was praying about it, (better late than never) I was thinking about what I do at home, and what things would invariably change if I went back to work. The first thing I realized was that I needed an attitude change, there was still a part of me deep down inside that believed being a nurse was more valuable than being a homemaker, especially now that my children are grown.

This is familiar territory, I have been around this mountain before. When I first stopped working I made a list of how my time could be used now that I was home

  • I can work my schedule around my husbands needs
  • More available for grandchildren, I can go to events and be available to assist in care
  • More available for Sister-In-Law's care, and many in the facility could use an encouraging word
  • I'm friends with several young moms without moms locally
  • More opportunities for hospitality
  • Learning new things
I eventually declined the position I was offered a week after I had accepted it (before I technically started) I realized that what I was doing at home right now had more lasting value than what little income I could bring in. Is this permanent? I really don't know...life continues to change and there may yet be a time when I will find myself back out in the work force, but for now I am going to embrace this season of mine.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Moroccan Chickpea Chili

Did you know that January is National Soup Month, it's also National Hot Tea month, National Slow Cooking Month and National Oatmeal Month. I am not sure who comes up with this or why but in celebration of National Soup Month I though I would share a new favorite soup of mine.

I was looking for something new and different and used ingredients I already had on hand. (Yes, I had turmeric on hand, I think my son had bought it on one of his visits home, it's not unusual for him to cook when he comes for a visit). I was a bit nervous about using all these spices but it was delicious and is now a regular week night meal.

Recipe from "Cooking Light" September 2007

Moroccan Chickpea Chili
 2 teaspoons olive oil
 1  cup chopped onion
 3/4 cup chopped celery
 1/2 cup chopped carrot
 1 clove minced garlic
 2 teaspoons ground cumin
 2 teaspoons paprika
 1 teaspoon ground ginger
 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
 1-1/2 cup water (I used 2 cans chicken broth)
 2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained (I used 1 can)
 1 (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes
 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. And onion, celery and garlic to pan; saute 5 minutes. Stir in cumin and next 7 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth, tomato paste, chickpeas and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.

This recipe is quick and easy, and has the added benefit of being healthy and low fat and did I mention it was delicious. Trust me on this one, you've just got to give this one a try.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Thankfulness helps in developing an attitude of gratitude and on this very cold winter day I want to be
grateful for my many blessings. Giving thanks

  • For electric blankets, warm fuzzy throws and rice bags that can be popped in the microwave and warmed up
  • The ability to remove Sweet Lady's sutures. (Sometimes being a nurse comes in handy)
  • On that same note, I am thankful that Sweet Lady did not break anything when she fell last week.
  • That we live close to Sweet Lady and can be available when things like falls happen
  • Meals in my freezer, when I cook I usually make a full recipe and freeze half for another day. Last night was care group, so it was nice to have a quick meal to pull out for dinner.
  • For the sweet ladies in our care group, a group of ladies that are willing to serve one another, pray for each other, encourage and point each other to the truth of scriptures. I am so thankful to the Lord for putting each of these ladies in my life.
  • A new baby in our circle of friends, an answer to many prayers
  • Birthday celebrations for daughter-in-law and grandson. We've had a busy couple of weeks

Thankful for this daughter-in-law of mine. I have said many times and I will say it again, she is the daughter I never had and I am blessed that she is part of our family.

I am thankful for naps with sleeping grandchildren...the best kind of naps

I am thankful that we didn't get any of this white stuff this week, we did have the cold weather but I did not have to venture out in it.

It's your turn, can you think of some things in your life that you can be thankful for, take the time to list those things, you'd be amazed at how it can change your perspective on things.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Looking Forward To The New Year

When a friend asked me the other day if I had made and resolutions or goals for 2014, I had to admit I hadn't even gotten around to thinking about it. I spent the last couple of days thinking about what my goals were for the coming year (better late than never)

I would like to be more consistent with my devotional time.  I found a ESV Daily Reading Bible that incorporates the M'Cheyne  reading plan, my goal is to read the bible in a year. I will probably continue to use several different devotionals,  I am currently using are "Morning and Evening" by Spurgeon and "Life is a Vapor" by John Piper. I also like "Solid Joys" by the ministries of John Piper. That one is nice because I'm able to  download to my phone, so now when I find myself waiting somewhere, I can pull up the reading for the day.

Another goal  I have is to eat healthier, in particular to cut down on process foods as much as possible. (if it has an ingredient that we can't pronounce we avoid it) Hopefully there will be a financial as well as health benefit to this. I have continued my "dairy free" and "egg free" cooking and hope to add more recipes that will work for our family. (I would have never thought it was doable, but it is)

I did a 365 Challenge last year and I am going to do it again this year. Taking a photo a day can be tedious (many an evening photo was taken before bed because I had forgotten to take one that day) but I have found, like most things, that if you don't set any goals you just drift aimlessly along or you don't do it at all.

I also want to be more aware of my time and what I am supposed to be doing with it. The Lord has me "free" to be available for his purposes and I want to be more aware of the opportunities his puts in my path. It's easy to think that now that my children are grown and I am no longer working outside the home that my days are my own, but this simply isn't the truth, my days belong to him. I want to incorporate that truth more into my everyday life. I am so easily distracted!

 I am sure I will re-evaluate these goals and add to them in the months ahead, as life continues to change. How about you, what kind of goals have you set for this year?