Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday--The day before the Fast

Welcome to the WIAW party!

While none of my foods are green this will certainly be seeing a lot of spinach and avocado in the next month!

So here are my eats, the day before the fast:


A basic yogurt mess...dairy yogurt topped with fresh fruit, puffins and granola.  Don't hate me for the dairy.  I am not one to let food go to waste and it was in my fridge.  What's a girl to do?  Especially since we ran out of almond milk!

Oh me, oh my!  I had the wonderful pleasure of receiving a real massage yesterday, but didn't get home until nearly 11:30!  So my usual morning snack was switched out for this wonderful sandwich.  We'll call it the Italian Meatball Panini.

In the mix: spinach, basil, leftover "meat" muffins, marinara, and Daiya Mozzarella cheese. Yum!  I cooked it on the George Foreman for a few minutes until all the cheese was melty.  So delish!

I think I was hungrier than usual since my meals were thrown off a bit, so I dove into this open-faced peanut butter and jelly with a small blood orange on the side.

Snack (again):
And dinner was just so far off, so a dry bowl of Puffins appeared in my lap as I was reading yesterday afternoon.  Whoops!

Our usual fellowship group potluck consisted this week of Vegan Pot Pie and a fresh salad.  My contribution:
Applesauce Cake!  (Elizabeth, what's it called again?)

It turned out so light and fluffy and just slightly sweet.  Perfect!

Applesauce Cake

by Tanya Kummerow
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (16 servings)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup organic canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on lined baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In separate mixing bowl combine applesauce, vanilla and canola oil.
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Stir in walnuts.
Pour batter evenly between two 8" round cake pans that are greased and prepared. I used silicone baking pans which require not preparation.
Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on rack and serve. You could use frosting to layer the cake for a more decadent treat, or just serve up slices with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
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I ate a slice of Applesauce Cake with dinner and when we retreated home this might have happened:
Mmmm Girl Scout Cookies!  My weakness!  I ate 4 throughout the day yesterday.  Tagalongs are one of my unexpected favorites.  And they are vegan (accidentally so I'm sure!)

Tomorrow begins the world of sweet potatoes and oats, spinach and apples, almonds, avocados and tofu.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Vegan Nacho Cheese

Guess what?  I am still a runner...and apparently I eat cheese.
Vegan Nacho Cheese that is!  I often take nutritional yeast and mix it with various other condiments to create a dip for my veggies.  Sunday night my dip went from ordinary to extraordinary!  One taste and my taste buds were skipping a beat!  Nacho has been way too long!

Vegan Nacho Cheese

by Tanya Kummerow
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Keywords: microwave snack sauce/dip vegan

Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon shoyu (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons Daiya Mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vegan sour cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
In small bowl mix nutritional yeast with shoyu sauce and 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Add cheese and sour cream and microwave for one minute. Stir until all cheese is melted. Add a few more tablespoons water to reach desired consistency.
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Oh and about that running thing...Forbes and I took a 6 mile run/walk on Sunday!  Felt so good but my back was very achy.  I have been averaging one run per week for about a month.  It feels good to be moving again!  However, it is already having negative effects on my cycle once again. 

Today I have a massage schedule and I can't hardly wait!  Eleven will not get here soon enough!  This Tuesday morning is creeping by!  Enjoy the cheese!

Monday, February 27, 2012

7 things

Who's ready for a challenge? 

Last week at our small group on Tuesday, the husbands paired off and calculated a plan to start a men's only study during our fellowship group.  How dare they?!  They were tired of waiting on us chatty woman to get our act together.  After all, we are terribly busy with lots of babies, if you waited on us, you may never get results! 
I offered to help our women, and try to find a book for us to start together, but Shannon beat me to the punch.  She began reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess last week.  She was so enamored by the wit and humor and pure sadistic ways that she suggested we try this out for our small group study. 

Here is an excellent description of the book I copied from the Amazon website:

American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

In the spirit of fasting, when Shannon brought up this challenge I was on board.  This type of fasting excites me.  It is honoring God with every part of our existence.  And it will be great practice and an awakening experiment for when  I leave for the mission field.  I am all in!

So last night I posted on my facebook wall an important question:

"If you could only eat 7 foods for one month, what would they be?"  

And here are some of the answers:

My mom said: yogurt, nuts, Pasta, Kashi cinnimon cereal, bananas and dried mangos and zucchini
Jen doesn't even need 7, her pick: Cereal, fruit and frozen yogurt
Abby chose: spinach, feta, tomatoes, sourdough bread, goat cheese, onions, salmon
Laura said: Yogurt. Granola. Chicken. Broccoli. Green beans. Mushrooms. Fat free chocolate pudding (so I don't go insane)
And Sara joked that a month ago it would be McDonalds and Starbucks but now these are her choices: bananas, yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, pasta, spinach, eggs

It appears that yogurt, cereal and pasta are pretty important to most people.  In the book, Jen chose spinach, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, apples, whole wheat bread and avocado.

And so now after careful consideration I have chosen my 7 foods as the first fast in a 7 month journey.  

Spinach, avocado, almonds, apples, tofu, sweet potatoes and oats.   

Starting March 1st, this will be my diet for one month.  (even though my birthday is smack at the beginning of this new challenge!) It seems extreme and crazy, yes.  But reality tells me that I will likely be forced into an even smaller diet once I'm a missionary.  It will be difficult, but this is where I will rely on God and be reminded to pray often with honesty, passion and submission.   

I wanted to share with you in advance in case you are also looking for ways to eliminate excess in your life and begin a fast.  You can start thinking about your 7 foods, pick up the book to read along with us, and participate in an online community.  

I am already thinking ahead to April where I must choose just 7 articles of clothing to wear the entire month!  Oh my!  

So please join in if you are willing!  I would love to use this blog as a two-way communication through this experiment.  Let me know if you are in! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Service Recap--Jesus' Prayer Life

It has been too terribly long since I have written a recap of a service message.  Come to think of it, it has been too terribly long since I have had the opportunity to sit at our church and hear a message.  I am very committed to the children's ministry at church and have serving most of the Sundays in the new year.  Additionally, we were out of town two other Sundays this year, already! 

So here I am, back at it.  Today's message really captured my attention.  It might be that I was just so hungry for the Word after being gone for so long.  I also think that I yearn more now for the teachings than I ever have before.  In fact, today I really started thinking about how eager I am to learn and I hope to find a class or a study that will help shepherd me even more. 

But I digress.  All this year at Lake Norman Fellowship we are studying prayer.  The children ministries at our church will also be following the same topics and theme so when I'm not in church, I am still teaching the same message.  But today, hearing the message was so powerful for me.  We read in Luke, chapter 22 about Jesus praying on the Mount of Olives:

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."  (Luke 22:42)

The last two weeks, Doug has been teaching on Jesus' Prayer Life.  How did Jesus pray?  And what did his prayers sound like?  How can we learn from Jesus' prayer life to improve our own?

Identified in Luke 22:39-46 are four truths about Jesus' prayer life:

1.  Jesus prayed regularly.
2.  Jesus prayed honestly.
3.  Jesus prayed submissively.
4.  Jesus prayed intensely.

All through the New Testament Jesus is lifting up his voice in prayer to God.  He is in constant communication and reaches out to God about everything.  Am I that regular with prayer?  I have this concept of "Daily Quiet Time" that I strive to maintain.  Sometimes in the morning, sometimes later in the afternoon, sometimes at night, and even in the middle of the night.  I try to focus some time each day to pray, but all too often it falls to the wayside.  What would it mean to be in constant communication with God?  Prayer is where the action is.  Many times prayer can seem to be a cop-out.  "Oh sure I'll pray for you" is an answer we give to get out of actually helping others.  But prayer is an action and is help.  Praying frequently is so very important.  Having an appointment with the Lord and keeping it is the best way to maintain a regular prayer life.  Don't just pray when you feel like it.

On the Mount of Olives Jesus was open and honest.  He cried out "Take this Cup from Me!" The cup referring to the wrath of God Jesus was to experience on the cross when he took the sins of the world on himself.  Jesus was fully man, and I can only imagine him to be very anxious, weary, fearful, and alarmed at what was to come.  His sweat became blood drops as he prayed.  What a tumultuous time.  He died an awful, horrific death so that we could live.  And he cried out to the Father.  Am I honest when I pray?  Do I pray in it or about it?  Am I lifting up prayers that sound rhythmic and rehearsed, or do I cry out to the Lord?  We don't need to put on our pretty little Christian persona to pray to God.  He already knows our hearts.  Pray open and honestly!

But even in our honest prayer, like Jesus, we must submit to God.  "Not my will but yours be done," Jesus proclaims right after he pleads with God for his life.  Not my will but yours be done.  No one else is as worthy of our surrender.  When we pray "thy will be done" we pray in faith and submission that God is head of all and in control. 

Finally, Jesus prays so intensely and passionately that he requires the help of an angel to strengthen him.  The passage tells us "And being in anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."  Now that is intense.  That is a passionate prayer.  My prayers tend to stay light, almost beating around the bush of the tough issues.  There is a difference between saying prayers and praying.  And that difference is intensity.  Intensity doesn't have to mean one thing or another.  You can pray intensely even if you're quiet; you can pray intensely if you are being loud.  The key is to allow yourself to actually pray, not to say rehearsed words out of duty. 

Jesus tells his disciples to pray so that they will not fall into temptation, and that command is for us as well.  We do not pray to manipulate God into acting in our will, but to allow ourselves to act in His will.  Prayers can be a preparation for testing and temptation we are likely to experience. 

My prayer life is always growing and changing.  This year is an exciting time for our church as we discover together a stronger and more real prayer life.  The best example is of course from Jesus and His prayer life. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Baby Brunch

This morning I had the distinct pleasure of hosting my friend Melisa's Baby Shower.  Melisa has been one of my dear friends since the very first day I moved to North Carolina.  We met at the YMCA--I was working the front desk and she came in for a tour and to purchase membership.  And as they say...the rest is history!
We had so very much in common.  Both of our husbands are school teachers.  We both moved from way up north to the south nearly the very same week.  And our birthdays are literally days apart (next week if anyone is counting!)  So naturally we began working out together and a friendship quickly grew.  She inspired me to run my first marathon and together we planned our futures in North Carolina.  Home buying and children were on the agenda...I got to the house first, and well she got to the kids first!
This is already her second...boy do I have some catching up to do (not!)
Pinterest is my new favorite hosting tool, and with the help of some dear friends from church I was able to pull together this deliciously shabby chic Baby Brunch!  Check it out!
Food was all homemade by moi, with the exception of the veggie tray that Kristy brought and the beautiful cupcakes I enlisted from my friend Whitney.  She is so talented!

We played a few baby shower games including the purse game and the Woah Baby Game.
Woah Baby

Each baby shower attendee gets 3 (or more) clothespin to clip to their outfits.  Anytime someone says "baby" and is caught by another attendee, they must give up one of their clothespins.  The player with the most clothespins at the end wins!  Fun prizes for winners are always appreciated!

Purse Game

Create a list of 15 or 20 items, some commonly found in purses, and others more obscure.  Create a point system for each item, with the most common items being worth one point, and less common items being worth up to 10 points.  As you call out each item, each player must produce that item and tally their points.  The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.  And as above, prizes are always appreciated!

The best part of the baby shower was the Headband Making Station!
I purchased stretchy ribbons and decorative flowers from a craft store and using a hot glue gun we created headbands for the new baby!  This is so super simple and fun and the mom-to-be benefits with extra gifts!  A 10" headband will fit a new born.  Go for 12" or 14" for 3-6 months and 6-12 months. 

Using mini-chalkboards added a beautiful touch to the party.  All the chalkboard frames were made very inexpensively by painting old frames and inserting a piece that was painted with chalkboard paint.  All of these were on loan from my friend Julie.
The menu consisted of Fruit and Granola Parfaits, Tofu Salad Stuffed Shells, Lemon Coconut Mini-Donuts and Chocolate Cupcakes. Click through each link to find the recipes!
I believe the parfaits were a smash success, and the use of mason jars added a chic touch.
I had so much fun!  Thank you Melis for letting me plan this shower for you!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Yesterday, in the middle of a very useless meeting, I received a phone call that the car was dead.  Totaled.  Doneso!  RIP Honda!  Initially my stomach lurched as the information startled me.  We had no idea this was coming!  I was devastated!  We need this car! 

Well as the news continued to sink in, and I had the opportunity to relay the information to Forbes, we realized what a blessing this is actually!  We are downsizing, considering getting rid of one vehicle, selling the other to help pay off debt and then bam!  Now we don't even have to worry about selling.  Just when I think everything is at a stand still, I see the work of God and how He is moving around us. 

So many times we think we control the actions of God and we determine what is going to happen next in our lives.  And then out of the blue something even better comes along!  This is faith, releasing control to allow God's will to be done. 

Now of course you may think I'm crazy to mention this is better.  A car accident, a sore and stiff neck, paperwork, insurance companies...the list goes on.  But nobody was seriously injured and the insurance companies have been so great to work with.  They will give us top dollar for the car, money we probably would not have received if we sold it ourselves. 

Here's the best part: the amount they offered us for the total, is almost exactly how much we owe on our last consumer debt loan.  We fully intend to pick up the check today and head directly to Bank of America to pay off the loan!  This is the most exciting news of all to me!  After this loan is paid off, we are down to our mortgage and my student loans...which is very meager at this point!  It is so important for us to be debt free and we are miles closer because of this small car wreck!  What a blessing!

So how will we function with just one car?  We are anxious to figure that out as well!  Forbes can catch a ride to school each day, and I can always be available to pick him up if I need to.  Since I work from home, many days I may not need the car and he can drive to work.  Outside of work we pretty much spend all of our time together, with the exception of Monday nights at Jill's, and Wednesday nights at Praise team, but in those situations we can take turns.  Usually I don't leave the house when he is at Praise team, and usually he stays home when I am at Jill's so it works just fine.

So now we bid farewell to the car that has served us so well!  We will miss you Honda Civic!  I will miss driving you, and the low gas mileage!  But I don't mind the money you earned us!  Thanks!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

1.  This mess has got to go! Clothes are headed to the mission today and the rest to the garage for a future yard sale.  Living like this is no fun!

2.  We applied for jobs with Samaritan's Purse today, as Executive Directors of an orphanage in Haiti.  Can you say Dream Job?! 

3.  My new ride:
This is the rental Enterprise hooked us up with.  Forbes wants me to return it for being a gas beast...but I just can't part.

4.  The house is still for sale on Craigslist...the offer still stands--everything's included $164,000.  Who wants it?!

5.  I have scoliosis.

6.  My mom is coming to visit me for my birthday...just one week away!

7.  If you want to celebrate my birthday with me, sign up to run this 5k with me:
Coolbreeze Multisport Challenge

8.  I need gym membership!

9.  Thank you to the incredible response to my post yesterday!

What are your Thursday thoughts?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What I (didn't eat) Wednesday

But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
                   --Matthew 6:17-18

That would then make me a hypocrite for telling you today I am fasting.  I don't bring it up as a way to bring attention to what I'm doing.  But to keep a personal journal of why and how I am feeling, and perhaps bring a little enlightenment to the ritual of fasting.

Have you chosen a fast for Lent?  What do you mean you haven't?  Isn't that what you are supposed to do on Ash Wednesday?  Don't you want to give up chocolate, or sweets or TV?  Oh, ok, so you have given something up...well let me ask, Why?  Why do we choose to fast? 

The Lenten season is a commemorative time where we observe the 40 days Jesus fast in the desert before beginning his public ministry.  The time between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday is a sober time where we reflect on the precious gift of Jesus as penance for our sins.  Therefore, many people choose a fast to help them to remember to pray and seek God even more during this time. 

Like so many other things, we have watered down basic Christian traditions.  I am afraid that Lent has become an opportunity for folks to exert control over their lives rather than allow God to be in control.  I am so weary of fasting, especially in a food sense because of my relationship with food.  All too often I want to exert control and so I choose to restrict food and strictly speaking, a Christian or faith-based fast should be quite the opposite.  When you feel hungry it should be a reminder to kneel in prayer, and a reminder that God is in control. 

When I feel urged to fast I am so careful about where the urge comes from.  Am I wanting to eliminate sweets so I can fit into a swim suit in 40 days for spring break, or is it because God is calling me to a deeper relationship with Christ? is ok to give up sweets and any other dietary choices to be a better, healthier version of yourself.  You can even do it in the name of God because He desires that our earthly bodies be a temple in which to serve Him.  I am concerned, however, for the multitude of people who choose a fast for Lent without any knowledge of what it means.

I was there.  I did it too.  Four years ago I sat down with my Bible study group and proclaimed that I was giving up sweets.  I am thankful that I have close friends who are willing to speak the truth in love and remind me of the purpose of Lent and fasting.  As well as the purpose of allowing it to be between God and me and not proclaiming it to the world as if I were bragging about the control I could exert for myself. 

It isn't often that I am so bold to announce something I believe to be so wrong, and like my friends who lovingly brought attention to my misstep, I hope that my dialogue here can be seen as truth in love.  I bring it to light because I too felt the urge last night to choose a fast for Lent and found myself wishing away sweets or wine to please my worldly nature.  I was stopped in my tracks and led to a fast that allows God to be in control.  I chose my fast because I knew A. it would be difficult and therefore I could not achieve it on my own free will and B. I personally needed a time of clarity and meditation with my Savior over the course of my future.  It just so happened to collide with a day that so many others are also choosing to fast. 

If you have been led to fast because of an American tradition and perhaps feel that it is not for the right reasons or out of the right intentions try one of these as a fast for the next 40 days:

Attend church regularly
Pray once a day
Volunteer some of your time each week to a local mission

If you want to go on a diet, then go on a diet, but if you want to glorify God then choose a true fast.

Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
               --Isaiah 58:6-7

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Apple Nachos

Let's talk about my new favorite snack...Apple Nachos.  A Pinterest find that I just can't resist.  Truly, the flavor isn't that much different from apples dipped in peanut butter--but the presentation makes this dish!  Thinly sliced apples, drippy peanut butter, almost melted chocolate chips and a sprinkling of chia seeds....mmm-mmm!

Apple Nachos

by Tanya Kummerow
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (1 serving (or two if you are n)
  • 1 granny apple, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Arrange apple slices on plate. If your peanut butter isn't drippy, you may want to heat up in the microwave for a minute or so. You could even melt the chocolate and peanut butter together before topping the apples.
Drizzle drippy peanut butter on top of apples and top with chocolate chips.
Microwave for 30 seconds, just until chocolate chips are soft but apples aren't too warm.
Sprinkle on chia seeds and serve.
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Tuesday is a busy day with more scheduled meetings than I can physically and humanly make.  Ruh-roh!  So I am off to try to figure it all out!  I hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy a snack of apple nachos!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend in a Nutshell

My weekend started like this:
Crash, Boom, Plow, Thunk.  Car wrecked. 

Unhappy, but trying to roll with the punches, I exited my banged up vehicle and tried to make nice with the stranger that pulled out in front of would she have known that I was on my way to a work meeting with someone whose phone number I don't know, so I can't call and cancel, and after the meeting, I was going to fill up the car with gas so Forbes and I could be off to see my sister's in Nashville for the weekend, and that this car is my husband's favorite thing ever, and how dare she ruin it!

Nope, none of that I said, I just simply grimaced and asked her if she was ok, while my own neck and shoulders began to stiffen.
Forbes came flying to my rescue and after a short wait for the police to finish the report and all information to be exchanged he headed back to work, and I sulked off to Panera for comfort food and a little bit of work. 
I wasn't sure if we would make it to Nashville to see my sisters after all and I was pretty bummed.  Forbes assured me we would go, we would just take the gas-guzzling Jeep. 

Thank goodness we did, we would have missed this shining face:
And this precious twosome...
Plus all the brother-in-laws.  We had so much fun, I barely took any photos!  It was a short trip, but oh-so-sweet!  Family is so precious and important and I am so happy to have Diana close enough for a weekend trip and right in the middle of Stephanie and me so we have a convenient location to meet up!
Driving home was, well I wouldn't know, Forbes drove the whole way.  But I hear it was fun in the rain/sleet/snow that never ceased.  Finally back home now...a 3 hour delay for school and a breakfast date with my hubby.
And that's a wrap!  A weekend in a nutshell. 

Back to the grind...welcome Monday!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Soup

Our home cooked Valentine's meal may have been postponed, but that didn't make it any less stellar when we finally were able to sit down to it on Wednesday!

The original plan was Vegan Crab Cakes and Creamy Mushroom Soup...the crab cakes were quickly scrapped when we realized we had eaten the tempeh earlier in the week, so soup it was.

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Soup

by Tanya Kummerow
Prep Time: 1 hour (not active prep)
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2 dinner portions, or 4)
  • 3 cups Baby Bella (Crimini) mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dried Shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
Roast the garlic whole by slicing off the tops of the cloves, top with one tablespoon olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for one hour at 375 degrees.
Meanwhile, rehydrate your dried Shitake mushrooms by submerging them in 1/2 to 1 cup of water. Let stand for one hour.
Heat remaining olive oil in large saute pan and cook onions over medium heat until fragrant and soft.
Add Crimini mushrooms and saute until soft and golden. Add in sage and thyme and saute a few more minutes.
Transfer to a large sauce pan and add in butter. Chop rehydrated Shitake mushrooms and add to pan.
Heat over medium to high heat and add 2 cups vegetable broth (enough to cover tops of mushrooms) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, adding more vegetable broth to keep tops covered if necessary.
If you have an immersion blender you can use that to blend soup together. If not, remove soup from heat and pour into food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, adding more broth to reach desired consistency.
Add salt and pepper to taste, bring back to heat and serve.
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Yesterday morning I was feeling quite productive and decided to start the purging process.  Into the living room and dining room came every excess that Forbes and I own.  I went through all the closets, shelves and drawers.  And this is the mess I ended with.
I invited my girlfriends to come over and weed through what they want first.  Next week we will be hosting open houses and "indoor yard sales" all week to try to get rid of the rest of this.  Whatever doesn't disappear next week will be given to the Christian later than Friday!  I have a brunch scheduled at my house on Saturday morning so no wiggle must go!

I mention this...because if you are local we have lots of awesome stuff to get rid of, including my entire collection of cookbooks, lots of extra kitchen gadgets and supplies, Christmas and home decor and much, much more! 

The funny thing last night was all our friends wanted to feel bad for taking our things.  Seriously!  Take a year we won't have a home to store it in!  Do not feel bad...we WANT to get rid of it all!

Forbes and I are reading Radical together and last night's chapter was all about "Sell your possessions to give to those who are in need."  So fitting with what is going on in our house currently! 

Something that really got my mind going was the thinking of giving as "What can we spare?" versus "What is it going to take?"  All too often I am so guilty of just giving the little bit of extra I think I can spare.  Even right now, I am holding on to some of my favorite things in the house, knowing full well that even these must go soon.  But what if instead of thinking about ourselves first, we truly thought about what it will take?  Examine the issue, and acknowledge the vast problem and then set out to do everything you can to make it better.  We are all each but one person, and together the problems can be I warn against the thought that it is too big so instead I will do nothingRather, do everything you can!  Give until it hurts!  Do not settle for throwing your scraps, your leftovers, your extra, to the poor, but give the best.

Ok, that is my soapbox for the day...Radical is truly an amazing and transformative book.  Check it out!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Christian Associates

I know I have been talking about them a lot lately, but we have received some really good news through the organization yesterday and I am anxious to tell you more!

Forbes and I were invited to attend their Engage session.  We will be traveling to Denver in May for this four day event to assess the organization, and for them to assess us.  During this event we will be subjected to rigorous psychological testing--ok, it probably isn't that bad--and evaluations to discover if we are a good fit for this organization.  They want to know about our faith and our calling, and we want to know if their values align with our own. 

After Engage, we will be given the "green light" to move forward with planning for the mission field if they accept us.  This is a really exciting interview and we are so very anxious! 

Why do we like Christian Associates so much?

Forbes and I have had the opportunity this past week to sit down with Richard Wilson, a staff member on the Europe Advance Team.  Through this conversation we were convinced we had stumbled on an amazing, Christ-driven organization.  Their objective is to spread the gospel and plant churches Internationally.  Many organizations are doing just that.  What we love about CA is the intentional way they approach this, by first discovering the needs of the people and building around those needs.  Often in home churches, Bible studies, and even through local missions.  This is exciting to us because we believe that we are the hands and feet of Christ and therefore spreading the Gospel can be done productively through serving people's basic needs and simply showing the Love of Christ.

Our Skype call on Tuesday further solidified our commitment to Christian Associates!  CA is a communal movement, just as Christ intended it to be.  The Church is defined as the people not a place of worship, therefore when CA talks about planting churches, they don't simply mean to build a large worship center, but to disciple to others.

I felt very strongly in the beginning that I wanted to serve in a third-world country, and the potential does exist with CA.  However, the more we hear about their projects, particular in Europe, the more we are inspired to work in other regions.  Did you know in France right now, only 2% of the population call themselves Christians?  The church is dying in Europe and not only can we meet the basic needs of people in the cities, but also revive a nation with hope and joy.

Next Steps

As aforementioned, Forbes and I are attending Engage in Denver.  This is a scary endeavor because we will need to come up with over $350 by March 1, and then still have to purchase plane tickets and the rest of the fees in March!  Of course, this is the alternative to attending Engage in Brussels--which would be fantastic!  Their mission in Brussels is quite outstanding from what we hear.  Alas, Denver it is.

If given the green light, over the next year we do intend to travel with CA quite a bit before going full time.  We will be attending several mission and vision trips to discern where our place will be.  These include a conference in Chicago and perhaps a mission trip to France this summer.  In the fall we are also hoping to attend one of their regional meetings where we will meet directors from several different missions altogether.  That meeting will likely be International as well. 

Meanwhile, we will be in constant prayer, discerning God's will and timing.  We are open to placement anywhere in the world but want to find a location where our unique gifts and talents can be used to glorify God.  Of course we will also be raising support for full time mission work through all of this as well.

It is a scary and unknown future, but I am more certain of this than I have been of anything else.  I know this is where God is leading us and I am excited for this future!

What do you think?  Will you keep us in prayer? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WIAW-Valentine's Day

Good morning chums...Wednesday is off to a very odd start!  It all began at 2am when I just couldn't sleep any longer.  This keeps happening to me, and finally this morning I gave in and got out of bed.  What is wrong with me!?  I am questioning my sanity...

At 2:30am you could find me curled up on the couch with the fireplace on, enjoying a BBC Masterpiece Classic and a cup of tea as if it were 9:30pm.  My eyes were wide open and everything was just hunky-dorey.

Until around 4am when suddenly I felt like I was hitting a brick wall!  I reluctantly crawled back into bed knowing this morning would be rough, and waking up a second time would be no fun.

Well here I am.  Self-fulfilling prophecy or is a rough morning.  So rather than talk about Wednesday, which I would already like to forget, let's just reminisce yesterday's awesomeness!

Yesterday morning started with an un-pictured bowl of cereal.  Pretty boring, I didn't even add a banana.  I was saving my one lonely banana for my mid-morning snack:
About 3 cups of spinach, a whole banana and a scoop of protein powder went into this concoction, along with some almond milk and a few ice cubes to thicken.  I am enjoying my Green Monsters way too much these days!

Lunch never really happened yesterday.  Forbes arrived home from work just before our Skype call with Christian Associates.
We were so eager for this call and it really solidified how we were already feeling toward this organization.  Their mission and vision is spot-on what we are looking for.  All the people within CA have been so helpful, friendly, and most importantly--Christ driven.  We are already starting to plan ahead to partner with this organization!

While we chatted, I ate a small orange and after, Forbes and I toasted to Valentine's Day with an afternoon bottle of Champagne!
We watched the latest episode of Downton Abbey while sipping our bubbly and enjoying a lunch of sorts:
Love letters included!

For Valentine's Day I made Chocolate Covered Strawberries for Forbes.  These turned out amazing and couldn't have been more simple!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Champagne and Popcorn...what more do you need?!
Of course, a bottle of Champagne in the afternoon doesn't make for a very productive our homemade dinner was scrapped in favor of Mexican!
We enjoyed Si Senora for dinner and split the Vegetable Fajitas for one.  Still plenty of food for two!
Forbes enjoyed a beer and I had a very cheap glass of red wine, only $3.25!  I'm sure it was high-quality stuff...and perhaps the reason I was wide-eyed at 2am!
We had good intentions of watching a movie when we got home, but fell asleep on the couch shortly after the start at 8pm!  Yup...we're too old for this!
And that's What I Ate Wednesday Valentine's Edition...not including the chocolate-covered strawberries consumed at 2am this morning!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

by Tanya Kummerow
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (18 strawberries)
  • 1 pint organic strawberries
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Rinse strawberries and dry with clean towel.
In small microwavable bowl, add chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Microwave an additional 30 seconds if needed but first try stirring to melt all the chips together.
Submerge each strawberry in melted chocolate up to the top and place on waxed paper.
Refrigerate until serving.
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