2am rambling

It’s 2 am, and I can’t sleep. Norah is next to me, and her little tummy is moving up and down. In and out. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.

 

So many times these past few weeks, I have relied on my own breath to get me through a moment.

 

My mother always tells me a story about when my dad died in an accident and she had a 5 year old and a 2 year old. She couldn’t sleep or eat or imagine what to do the next day. She would repeat Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God. It’s all I can do in these nighttime hours lately. I repeat it to myself like a chant and drift back to sleep for a moment.

 

I am not religious in the traditional sense. But I know someone is out there listening to me. I know there is a method to any madness we experience here. I know life is crazy and full of surprises, and something bigger than you carries you through.  I know pain is wasted if you don’t evolve. Become bigger and stronger.

 

Sometimes I feel that presence lately. And sometimes I don’t.  It’s so easy to be blinded by fear, doubt, sadness. It’s so easy to forget that there is a master plan involved.

 

I pray every night that my little life will look just the same in a year as it did two months ago. But I just don’t know. I feel it in my bones that the train is barreling out of the station, and a new destination is there. I don’t want to go, but it’s there for me – whether I choose it or not. But this life? This one has been so perfect in so many ways. It’s hard to see the past few years as anything other than the best of my life.  But life doesn’t always ask our permission before moving to a new chapter.

 

Friends, if you are the praying type, I want to you pray for peace in my heart and in the heart of others. For love to prevail.  And forgiveness and hope. And gratitude for the blessings I have.

 

 

 

 

 

officially holiday’ing!

On Friday, I graded my last exam as I  hurriedly inhaled a sandwich at my desk.  As I began my position in August, it felt like SO MUCH  desk time and many office hours compared to my previous teaching days in a high school setting.  I thought I’d always be caught-up and that grading would never feel like a push.  It hasn’t turned out that way entirely though.  Between Writing Center tasks and other odds and ends that come up, it still feels like a push to get all the grading done at the end of the semester.  And when that last one was finished?  Such a feeling of relief.  I am staring at four full weeks of a break, and I’m excited to slow down and do a little bit of nothing and keep whatever pace we feel up to.  As always, I can’t help but keep a list of goals in my head and consider all the things that need attention right now – specifically house projects that never happened after the move.  But really, they are not essential and whatever gets done will be.  Whatever doesn’t, doesn’t.  I’m just ready to relax and enjoy the last bit of the year with my little family.

We had a great Thanksgiving, and Jude helped – truly helped – with a few kitchen tasks as I prepared a ton of food for family.  He has always loved helping in the kitchen, but recently it really is a true help unlike the “help” a toddler can give.  I’ll give him a bowl and a spoon and he can stir something while I move on to another dish.  Or the other night we made muffins for his teachers, and he actually portioned out all the muffin liners and the batter on his own.  It’s so fun to watch, and he is ridiculously proud when he makes something.  I love his interest in food and his genuine desire to help.

Untitled

We also saw a great production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with some friends at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta last weekend. It was awesome, and I definitely suggest it to anyone with kids in Atlanta.  Norah was squirmy as expected, but Jude loved it.  I know next year she’ll follow it more closely, and I’d love to make it an annual tradition.  We got to follow the production with a workshop making puppets.  This snow monster has been played with constantly since, and Jude even wrote “puppets” on his Santa list earlier this week.

Untitled

Untitled

Other than that, the last week has been mostly full of Elf on a Shelf shenanigans (so fun this year!) and time spent at home.

Untitled

I’m looking forward to more of that in the days and weeks to come. Cookie baking, present wrapping, Santa planning, and reflecting on the year that’s passed. There’s so much to enjoy in the Advent season – especially with kids these ages. Magic is so real to them, and it’s a joy to watch.

beginner collard greens

This resolution of Sunday and Wednesday posting will have me sharing more recipes, I think.  I sometimes have nothing much to say, so I’ll rely on whatever I’ve been cooking to get me posting and keep me regularly appearing around here.

I don’t have a “real” photo of dinner last night, but I did snap one with my iPhone just before we ate.

Collard greens and chili Mac

I found this homemade hamburger skillet recipe on Once a Month Mom, and I ended up with some fresh collard greens from my grandparents’ garden, so I paired them together and it hit the spot.  It was cold yesterday, especially by Atlanta standards.  When I picked Jude up at school at noon, it was still below freezing and windy.  Nature knew what it was doing when it made greens seasonal in the winter months.  They are packed with nutrition to keep you healthy, and I think they taste perfect against the somewhat bland backdrop of other winter foods and produce.

I grew up eating greens, and Scott loves them.  Selling greens on our toddler has not been that easy, but we asked him to take one bite before finishing dinner last night, and he took a second one, too.  I’ll call that a victory!  I’ve grown up eating them the traditional southern way when they are cooked all day and almost increase in bitterness, and it’s a taste I grew to love.  This recipe is great for someone less inclined to like greens though.  The honey and sesame oil mellow any bitterness, and the result is delicious.  Trust me, if you think you don’t like greens, try them this way and see if you change your mind.

 

Beginner Collard Greens

about 1 pound collard greens

1/2 a yellow onion, diced

3 cloves minced garlic

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp honey

dash of red pepper flakes

Melt the butter and oil together, saute onion and add garlic.  Add greens, sesame oil, red pepper, salt, and honey.  Cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

basic granola

It does not feel like January outside at all.  Yesterday was 70 degrees in Atlanta, and I saw people outside in shorts when I did my weekly grocery run in the afternoon.  But even though it doesn’t feel like it out there, it definitely feels like January in my kitchen.  Resolutions have not been left behind yet, and we are knee-deep in green smoothies and whole-grain goodness lately.  I feel like my body has finally recovered from Christmas and all of the overindulgences of the holidays.

And front-and-center here this week is some yummy homemade granola I want to share with you.

_DSC5117

Jude has begun to like cereal.  We don’t eat it often for breakfast, but he’s been snacking on it sometimes lately, and it’s one area that could use some improvement since even the most “natural” variety out there is somewhat processed and high in sugar.  (And so expensive!) This works well as a homemade alternative, and I couldn’t help but snack on some in a mug with a splash of milk when this batch came out of the oven.

_DSC5119

Granola is the perfect snacking food that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty, and while it is delicious as is, the best part is the possibilities in store with this basic recipe.  There are so many add-ins to choose from and many ways to tailor the taste to what you love.  If you feel sort of blah about store-bought granola, try some homemade before you give up on it.  It’s not even in the same league to me.  The taste of the oats toasted in your own kitchen is so much better.

________________

Basic Granola:

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup nuts (I often use slivered almonds.  Pecan pieces or walnuts are also great.)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar if you’d like)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup real maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima fake!)

1 tsp salt (For me, I love the sweet/salty combination, but if you are less inclined to that, you can cut the salt to about half a teaspoon instead.)

Mix the first four ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix oil, syrup, and salt and pour liquid over dry ingredients.  Stir well and spread onto cookie sheet.  (You want a shallow layer, so I use a large cookie pan and a smaller one, too.  Just be sure it’s not a deep pile of oats or it won’t get crunchy.) Bake at 250 for about 70 minutes or so and stir it every 20 minutes as it bakes so it all gets evenly toasted.  Done!

As for add-ins…. I add a few chocolate chips sometimes when I eat it with yogurt or milk.  You can add raisins or any dried fruit, but be sure to do it after it bakes and cools so it won’t harden the fruit.  Flax seeds or chia seeds mix in unnoticed for an extra dose of nutrition as well, even making it past a picky toddler!  I store mine plain with no add-ins in a cereal storage container and leave it in the pantry so it’s accessible as an easy snack, and then I just add whatever we are in the mood for when I eat it.  Enjoy!

 

By the way, I’ve added a recipe page to the bar at the header here so that all my recipes are more easily accessible.  I don’t have many on here yet, but I hope to add to them soon.  Happy Sunday!  Hope it’s a good week ahead.