monday miscellany

Rainy days and Mondays…make for a short list:

~ I’m glad to see someone talking about this: All sins are equal, and further reflections on the belief that “all sins are equal.”

~ Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip copycat recipe. I really want to make this but I’m afraid it would set off a binge the likes of which I’ve never seen. That stuff is good, y’all.

~ 25 books to read when you feel like the world is falling apart. I actually don’t feel like the world is falling apart, but it’s an interesting list nonetheless. I’d put at the top Island of the World, my favorite novel. I’m going to read it again in 2017.

~ And last, a little something to think about on this Monday from Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink:

Think about yourself. Does what energizes you—what gets you up in the morning and propels you through the day—come from the inside or from the outside? What about your spouse, your partner, or your children? How about the men and women around you at work? If you’re like most people I’ve talked to, you instantly have a sense into which category someone belongs.

Happy Monday, y’all!

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5 favorites

Here are a few of my favorite things these days:

okra1~ Roasted okra — I can’t get enough of this. I wash the pods, snip off the caps, and make sure they’re thoroughly dry. Then I toss them in coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. I roast them around 400 degrees until they’re nice and brown, tossing them around occasionally as they cook. So yummy and perfect for whole30 (I’m back on the wagon this month.)

~ My magnifying mirror — My mom gave me this years ago, but it’s only in this past year of aging eyes that I’ve come to rely on it every single day. I didn’t realize how dependent I’d become until I traveled to Chattanooga for a week recently and didn’t think to bring it along. Big mistake. I had a hard time seeing to put on eyeliner or make sure my eyebrows were tidy. When I finally got home, I had to do some serious deforestation there. I think this one is like mine, but it’s marked as currently unavailable.

~ Savannah Bee Company Earl Grey Lip Balm — I use this every night before bed, and I can’t go to sleep without it.

~ What Should I Read Next? podcastI’ve mentioned this one recently, but it is my favorite podcast these days. I’m listening my way through the archives  on my commute. My wishlist continues to grow…

~ Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherford — my favorite fiction so far this year.

Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?

monday miscellany

An overdue round-up of links from ’round the web:

~ The best Christian novel you’ve never heard of. You’d better believe it’s on my wishlist.

~ My kids don’t eat organic.

~ Webb Simpson on marriage

~ Breaking News from 1973: Burgers Won’t Kill You

~ How is your Bible reading going? A peek:

The more I read the Bible the more I learn about God and about being one of His children – and the more I find comfort and courage in some of the most unexpected places of this big book.  There are certainly many “go to” passages in times of trouble or despair but the more I get to know all of God’s Word, the more I see what I know to be true about God – His love, mercy, faithfulness, patience, justice, wisdom, sovereignty, holiness – in every page and so I can receive comfort and courage not just from the “go to” passages but also from simply reading the next bit and being reminded afresh of God and His good promises.

~ I recently made this Very Greek Grilled Chicken (I did the marinating, and Paul did the grilling.). It’s a definite do-over. So good!

I hope your Monday has been a good one,

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hey there

Hi, I’m Anne, and I’ve been a very lazy blogger. It seems that when I get one or two areas of my life together, something has to go, and for this past month or so I just haven’t had the time or energy to sit down and type anything coherent. I’ve been focusing on improving my health, and that is going well. At the beginning of April, I began another round of Whole 30, and after a day or two of detox “flu,” I immediately felt so much better.  On my first round I discovered that I’m allergic to dairy. Nevertheless, I let it back into my diet and had a terrible fall and winter of stuffed up nose, sinus headaches, and absurdly puffy eyelids. But since giving it up again, I haven’t had to take a single pill for my allergies all month — when everything is blooming and I’d normally be sniffing and sneezing.

We also began a step challenge at work around that same time, so exercise has been a priority. I’ve been walking nearly every day, and that has me feeling more energetic and more antsy when I have to sit for any length of time. I can tell that my endurance and speed have improved, as well.

I still compose blog posts in my head when I’m in the shower or on the road, but they’ve not yet made it to my laptop.

I have kept up with my 366 photo project on Instagram. Here are some recent photos if you don’t follow me there:

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I’ve also been knitting, reading when I can, and trying my best to avoid thinking about moving soon.

If anyone is still checking in over here, thanks! I’ll try to have something new next time you stop by. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

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life-changing books

Last night I tossed out a question on Twitter & Facebook:

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I’ve received some responses and added some books to my Amazon wishlist, and there has even been some related discussion among Facebook friends. I’ve been laid up with another nasty headache today (the third one in a couple of weeks), so instead of reading, I’ve been thinking about books that have stuck with me, challenged my thinking, and shaped my beliefs.

I fell in love with books as a young girl, and the likes of the Nancy Drew series, Charlotte’s Web, The Boxcar Children, and Anne of Green Gables were some of my first loves. I constantly had a book in my hand, on the bathroom vanity propped open with a brush while I blow-dried my hair, or on the floor beside my bed underneath my nightlight, with me peering down at it, reading late into the night. So I’d credit those titles with changing my life.

Kim mentioned The Well-Trained Mind, and I definitely agree with that. It challenged me, changing and shaping my philosophy of education while giving me tools to put that philosophy into practice. I’d put Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning in that category, too.

The Pleasures of God, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Spiritual Depression, and Peacemaking Women are some of the books that I consider influential on my faith. They’re marked up and I revisit them from time to time.

Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions explains so much about why there is polarization in politics. It’s not an easy read, but I think about it often. He’s brilliant.

Island of the World is the best novel I’ve ever read, and it’s a story that will never leave me.

On a lighter note, the Southern Living Cookbook has been a go-to reference in my home, and several of the dishes are family favorites.

So what books have changed your life?

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saturday afternoon

It’s another gray, gloomy Saturday, but at least we have a little taste of cooler fall temperatures. I’m happily at home, with a huge pot of Brunswick stew (recipe below) on the stove, a sweet dog nearby, and football on the big screen. We’re dog-sitting for my parents this weekend, so I’ve had a little sidekick:

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I haven’t made Brunswick stew in years, but Paul and Stephen both expressed an interest. (I really like cooking when folks appreciate it.) People can get a little crazy over Brunswick stew preferences, but here’s the tried and true recipe I use. I love that it makes a huge pot because leftovers are always a blessing.

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Brunswick Stew

1 whole fryer (about 3 pounds)

2 stalks celery – cut into 1-inch pieces

1 small onion – quartered

water

2 (10-oz) packages frozen lima beans

2 (10-oz) packages frozen kernel corn

1 cup chopped onion

2 (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped

1 (8-oz) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped

3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon salt

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper, or to taste

Combine chicken, celery, onion, and enough water to almost cover the chicken in a large stock pot; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 hour. Remove chicken, celery, and onion from broth, reserving broth in pot; discard celery and onion. Cool chicken; skin, bone, and coarsely chop meat. Add chicken, lima beans, and remaining ingredients to broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered about 4 1/2 hours or until desired consistency, stirring often. Add water if/as needed.
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The Auburn game is starting in a few minutes, so I’ll be flipping back and forth between that and the UGA/Bama game while knitting. Go Dawgs! 🙂

Oh, and another tidbit about the Brunswick stew: My dad says it’s good to eat when you’re sick because it looks the same coming up as it does going down. You’re welcome.

Happy Saturday y’all and War Eagle!

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random thoughts

~ I don’t know what’s worse: walking out of a dressing room when nothing fits or walking out when everything fits.

~ We recently rented a condo on the Gulf coast, and it was crammed full of useless “decorative” items (a large frog with artificial greenery coming out of the top, odd fish-shaped vases, etc.). It was a small studio condo, which was all we needed, but it felt even smaller because of all the clutter. Less really is more, you know.

~ Fall is in the air. I’m so happy. But what’s with the pumpkin-spiced everything? We recently went to a Mexican restaurant, and at their hostess desk, a heavily fall-scented candle was burning. Um, pumpkin-spiced Mexican food does not smell good, y’all.

~ I went back on Whole30 for a whole five days. It made a difference, though, and I do feel better. It was a good detox from vacation.

~ Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Trader Joe’s and get some dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Or don’t. So there will be more for me.

~ I’m back on a knitting binge. I’ve got so many projects in progress and in the queue, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve got my Auburn football scarf all ready to resume during tonight’s game, a spur-of-the-moment easy drop stitch scarf on my needles, a complicated shawl waiting patiently at the bottom of my awesome knitting tote, a wrap I’m itching to start, a class to take in a couple of weeks, and countless patterns pinned and saved in Ravelry.

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~ Today is a Saturday with nothing on the calendar except a football game tonight. I’ll be making a Costco run, cooking, and cleaning, with college football as my soundtrack. Yep, I love fall.

~ Late start this morning. Yay!

~ Hey, if you’re in a drive-thru line, would you please consider pulling up close to the car in front of you? When you leave a car length or more, you leave folks hanging out in the road. Thanks ever so much.

~ I’ve got a bad case of TrumpFatigue. Seriously. I don’t want to hear any more about him.

~ Speaking of politics, so glad Boehner is out and I wish he’d grab a few others as he heads off into the sunset.

Signing off now to get started on my Saturday. What’s on your agenda?

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monday miscellany

An abbreviated collection of links:

~ I love historical fiction, so A Week in the Life of A Roman Centurion is going on my wish list.

~ 3 documentaries I’d like to watch: Culinary Cinema. (I actually started watching Chef’s Table this weekend.)

~ Why intellectuals hate capitalism. You’ll probably be surprised when you find out who is making that claim.

~ If you’re looking for a good Bible study book, I recently finished Let’s Study Ephesians by Sinclair B. Ferguson and can recommend it. Next up is Kathleen Nielson’s Psalms study – Volume 2.

~ An introverted Christian.

That’s it for today. Happy Monday!

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a (not so) little whole30 update

As I mentioned, I finished my first whole30 last week. (Just to recap: it’s basically 30 days of no sugar, no gluten, no grains, no dairy, no alcohol, no legumes, no soy.) Since then, I’ve been experimenting with a few of those forbidden foods, and I’ve learned quite a bit.

I was really curious about how dairy would affect me because I missed (craved!) it during June. I don’t drink much milk, but I do love full-fat plain Greek yogurt mixed with berries for breakfast, and I enjoy all kinds of cheeses. I’ve found that while yogurt hasn’t upset my stomach at all, it does leave me with almost immediate drainage in my throat that’s thick and hard to clear (sorry to be gross!). I’ve had sinus and allergy issues as long as I can remember, and now I’m wondering how much of that has been because of dairy products. I’ve decided to have yogurt for breakfast on occasion, but it will be a treat — as will dairy in my coffee and cheese on my salads.

Reintroducing my favorite Belgian dark chocolate didn’t go well. I ended up with a horrible case of indigestion. I’ve heard that it can cause reflux, but I’d never isolated it before. Sure enough, it left me quite uncomfortable. I’ll give it another try to be sure, but I’m fairly certain it will be be a very occasional treat from now on.

Last night I came home from work very tired — and craving pizza. So we went out, and I indulged in my first gluten since May 31st. Honestly, it didn’t taste that good but I was so hungry that I ate an enormous slice. I expected to get pretty sick. I felt stuffed, but I haven’t had any other adverse reactions. I got up this morning and returned to my whole30 way of eating (that is definitely what they call a non-scale victory!). I had no brain fog or mad sugar cravings, and I had enough energy to exercise after work.

Speaking of exercise, I’ve met my goal six of the past 8 days. I’m pretty happy about that.

Even better than feeling good physically, I feel more like myself these days than I have in months. To be honest, our move earlier this year combined with a loooong stretch of insomnia really wiped me out. I had achy joints and absolutely no energy. I got out of my usual routine, and it’s taken me months to get my groove back. Now I’m reading more, blogging regularly, picking up my camera every few days, and knitting again. Those are activities that energize me and make me feel more alive.

I promise that I won’t blog obsessively about whole30. But I can’t help sharing with you something that has really helped me. My friend Natalie has been blogging about her positive experience, too — most recently here. And here’s why the whole30 is the diet for people who hate diets.

Seriously, y’all. I feel good.

G’night,

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i did it.

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 9.52.18 AMI finished whole30, and I’m so very glad I stuck with it. I feel better, and BONUS! – I lost 9 stubborn pounds. My joints aren’t achy, and my digestion is much improved. I have an fresh awareness now of how what I put into my body makes me feel, and I’m enjoying the taste of real food. (Just yesterday I had one of the best salads I can remember. I used leftover steak from the night before with romaine lettuce and assorted salad veggies, a few walnuts, and a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette that’s become my favorite dressing. Every bite tasted wonderful, and it left me satisfied until supper.) I’ve cut back on caffeine, and I’ve found I really don’t “need” snacks anymore.

I’ll admit that it took a lot of planning and work to hang in there for 30 days. My eyes have been opened to how hard it is to find whole, real food without any funky additives. Sugar is in nearly everything, and did you know soy is in much more than you’d suspect — cans of tuna, vitamins, supplements, and more? Meat in restaurants is often not 100% meat — dairy and soy are added to meat even in upscale burger joints. Having compliant food in the house takes real effort. And I never seem to buy enough eggs or berries.

It really helped to have some friends at work committed to this way of eating, too. We shared experiences and recipes and encouraged each other.

There have been a few moments of mad cravings, but honestly, the worst part has been the never-ending pile of dirty dishes in the sink. (Fortunately the dishes fairy pays regular visits. Thanks, Paul!) When there are few places you can eat out and you have to do some sort of cooking at every single meal, it gets old.

I’m going to stick with many of the habits I’ve acquired over this past month — cooking with coconut oil (Trader Joe’s is my favorite), eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, avoiding soy and gluten, compulsively reading labels, having boiled eggs always ready in the fridge. I’m most curious about how dairy will affect me when I reintroduce it because I really miss my full-fat, plain Greek yogurt with berries for breakfast. And I love the creaminess of half & half in my coffee, even though I’ve learned to make do with coconut oil or coconut milk.

Now that I’ve seen what a difference 30 days can make, I’ve decided that July is a month to really commit to moving my body every day except for Sundays. I’m encouraged and motivated by my progress in June and want to keep the momentum going in July. My Fitbit is now back on my wrist.

I really think most everyone could benefit by checking out whole30 (the website is generously filled with free resources).  It Starts With Food is a helpful read and reference, too.

It’s not easy, but what positive changes ever are? If you’ve done a whole30 or are considering it, I’d love to hear about it.

Feeling good,
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