inspired : 11.29.11

the theme of this week’s list is better late than never! here we go!

first in line – there’s still time to donate to tim tebow’s dollar day in support of a new CURE hospital in the philippines! (and if you donate tomorrow instead of today, i’m pretty sure they’ll still accept your dollar.)

and speaking of…this article from dj gallo about the aforementioned quarterback makes me smile

this card cracks me up. totally doing this with my family someday.

overnight no heat curl. trying it this week…fingers crossed that it works and saves my recently regrettable locks. people, really. i’m starting to look like the swamp thing.

oh my goodness…so beautiful. and so beautiful.

making comparisons. it’s deadly. gets me every time.

wish i had seen this in time to actually play on thanksgiving…so funny.

can’t even tell you how much i love this initiative from kind, encouraging people to do random acts of kindness. great work, kind!

this commercial makes me cry

so did this episode of veggie tales. no, seriously. the ending is what every adult needs to hear!

beka stays faithful : reflecting on life post-roadtrip

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november: come home. sleep in bed, not van.

december: jump on treadmill, repeatedly. celebrate christmas, enthusiastically. pretend to be vegan.

january: new year’s surprise. visit hospital. chop firewood.

february: win super bowl (vicariously). return to roberts.

march: launch new blog and website.

april: overhaul wardrobe; just say no to decade-old clothing.

may: freshly pressed.

june/july/august: work, move, work, move, work, implode.

september: launch…new blog (that sounds so familiar…)

october: get busy. in the PG way.

november: get ridiculous. not in the black eyed peas way.

Oh what a year it has been! Honestly, it’s been nothing like I thought a year after a sizable life event would be. I’m not exactly sure what I thought it would be like, but I think I assumed it would be more settled. Which I find to be a logical assumption, seeing as how I had just spent three months covering hundreds of miles each week in a circular trek around the country. I think I also assumed that the mini van would be a magic portal through which all of my problems would be solved. I’d enter in September wondering what to do and where to live and exit in November with answers, experience, and 10 fewer pounds.

I think that’s what we call being young and stupid.

The experience of the roadtrip is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I learned plenty of things I expected to learn (how to harvest potatoes and shovel manure), a few things I wasn’t planning on learning (Texas road rules, a raw foods primer), and one thing I never saw coming (nouns, I’m looking at you).  I met so many wonderful people. I saw so many breathtaking sights. I figured out how to survive off of dehydrated foods and hot beverages.

I was able to see a dream become a reality.

That, in and of itself, made the trip worthwhile, not to mention the host of other factors that made it worthwhile. All in all: the roadtrip was a victorious endeavor. Mark it down as a W.

This is the part where I’d like to wrap a bow around the year that followed. I want to say that it was equally ambitious, life-changing, and just plain cool. But the truth is that it was a year. A year that defies tidy summaries. It was a year in which I was granted unbelievable blessings: having my dad’s health restored, watching the Packers win the Super Bowl, growing as a blogger and photographer, forging new relationships in an old place, deciding to stay and wholeheartedly embracing that decision. But it was also a year in which I struggled. Mightily. I tried to figure out what it means to be consistent in the midst of anything but consistency. As unlikely as it seems, I really think there was more change after driving through 30 states in three months then there was during the whirlwind tour of the country. Since last November I’ve lived in four different places. I’ve worked (at least…I’ve honestly lost track) seven different jobs. I’ve started and stopped a thousand new life plans. In short: I’ve floundered.

Life pre-roadtrip looks linear: I had one job. I lived in one place.

Life during-roadtrip looks adventurous: I set out to accomplish something and saw it come to beautiful fruition.

Life after-roadtrip looks…messy. I’m working an ever-increasing number of jobs. I’m living in one place but I’m hardly ever here. I have a million and five goals but no clear-cut career. I’m trying to stay but finding it difficult when there’s so much to DO.

Perhaps this is the problem. The same unbridled determination that carried me around the continental US still lives in me. I still have the intrinsic desire to do big things. But right now, all of that drive feels somewhat aimless. Like revving a parked car. The motor is running, the engine is raring to go, but there’s no forward motion. I’m throwing energy and enthusiasm around like crazy, but it feels directionless. And what’s left is a bunch of overzealous clutter.

Or, more likely, perhaps this is the problem. I’m reading Watch for the Light, a book of advent readings, and this selection from Henri Nouwen’s Waiting for God has me written all over it:

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere (hello, defining life direction for YEARS). The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. (Hello, this blog.) Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive.”

“We want the future to go in a very specific direction, and if this does not happen we are disapponted and can even slip into despair. That is why we have such a hard time waiting: we want to do the thing that will make the desired events take place. Here we can see how wishes tend to be connected with fears.

But Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary were not filled with wishes. They were filled with hope. Hope is something very different. Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled, but fulfilled according to the promises and not just according to our wishes. Therefore, hope is always open-ended.

I have found it very important in my own life to let go of my wishes and start hoping. It was only when I was willing to let go of wishes that something really new, something beyond my own expectations could happen to me.”

Waiting. Patience. Letting go. Gets me every time.

I sometimes feel like I’m the kid on Christmas morning who runs down the stairs to the tree and methodically shakes every box beneath. What’s in the shiny one? What’s in the big one? What’s the BEST one? The kid who is so caught up in figuring out the gifts that await that she misses out on the gifts that are already happening: there’s a feast going on the the dining room, complete with baked french toast and hot chocolate. There are people hugging and laughing and celebrating the joy of being together. There’s a palpable, blessed tension in the air from the profound meaning of the morning.

But she can’t see the forest for the (Christmas) trees: her efforts to guess the gifts are not only futile, they’re foolish. All the while, the gift-giver knows what is in each wrapped box. He knew exactly what she wanted and needed and picked the gifts out accordingly knowing that each would be an individual delight. He has a purposeful plan of which she is to open first and which to save for last. He won’t hold any back or make her earn them by guessing what’s inside. That would be antithetical to his cause; he carefully selected each one and derives joy from giving them freely.

So why can’t I let God give me each gift when he’s ready to give it to me, instead of shaking everything underneath the tree? Why am I trying SO HARD to figure everything out when he already has it all figured out, and perfectly so?

That, my friends, is the mystery of this post-roadtrip journey in a nutshell. If the story of the roadtrip was defining nouns, then the story of the year that followed was learning how to let God write the sentence.

I think it might take longer than a year.

beka stays thankful

Bleeding, sappy heart that I am, I often wax poetic about things I love and am abundantly blessed by. But if I had to boil it down to the basics, I’d say I’m most thankful for the following:

(faith)

(family and (newly engaged!!!) friends)

(freedom)

(food)

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(football)

(flurries and fitness (especially when they coincide, as they did this morning!))

I love this day! And this life!

Hope you all are having a lovely Thanksgiving too. Hug your friends! Tell your family you love them! And please, have an extra slice of pie. Especially if it’s Coconut Cream.

beka stays healthy : thanksgiving menu

Let’s talk turkey.

Or…more accurately…let’s talk turkey/sides/desserts/food coma.

This year, our humble Thanksgiving gathering (just me and the rents, like every year! love it!), will feature a mix of tried and true favorites and brand new additions. I know everyone says never try a new recipe on the big day, but what can I say, we’re risk takers. We’re CRAZY.

We keep things pretty simple since it’s just the three of us. Here’s this year’s menu:

Turkey prepared with PW’s Favorite Brine (new)

Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Cloves from this month’s Everyday Food (new)

Apple Cider Gravy (a last minute, but excellent, new addition!)

Healthy Harvest Stuffing from Whole Living (voted best dish three years running!)

Roasted Vegetables (standard favorite)

Turnips (for my dad…my mom and I gladly pass on these)

Rolls (I know, I know, frozen rolls are sacrilege…but like I said, we’re unconventional)

Pumpkin Pie (as previously mentioned, I will not be partaking in this Thanksgiving ritual)

Coconut Creme Pie (again: unconventional…but my mom has a friend who makes AMAZING pies and this one is just to die for)

Apple Cranberry Crumble (new, and for those of you keeping score at home, that is three desserts for three people)

The best part is that so much of this menu can be done in advance. We’ve already made the brine, the pumpkin pie, prepped the roasted vegetables, and are now moving onto making the cranberry sauce and the crumble. That means tomorrow morning we can watch the parade, take things slow, and have our meal ready by the time the Packers game starts. Which may or may not be a time of thanks, depending on how things go.

Good thing there are three desserts!

thanksgiving-edition inspired : recipe round up

If time/resources/calories/traditions and preferences were no object, all of these dishes might appear on my imaginary Thanksgiving table:

Baked Pull Apart Pumpkin French Toast (just to get the morning off to a good start)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (since this is imaginary, I’m totally making two pumpkin breakfasts)

Pumpkin Goat Cheese Dip with Caramelized Onions (last pumpkin recipe, I swear)

Hasselback Garlic Cheesy Bread (um, heaven)

Sweet Potato Stuffed Baked Apples with Toasted Marshmallows (you had me at sweet potato…)

Oven Crisped Parmesan and Sage Truffle Fries (potato option #1)

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Walnut Struesel (potato option #2)

Ree’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes (potato option #3)

Turkey with Cranberry Molasses Glaze (I almost forgot the turkey…)

Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Crisp (classic fall dessert)

The Pie That’ll Make You Cry (the ultimate pecan pie)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (because two chocolate desserts are better than one)

S’mores Cookie Bars (because why not?)

And if you, like me, have loads of pumpkin puree to use up this week, here are two new recipes I posted on Tasty Kitchen to do just that:

Maple Pumpkin Applesauce

Pumpkin Spice Weekend Waffles

What are you guys making for Thanksgiving? Anything especially exciting? Please do tell!

inspired : 11.20.11

this behind the scenes look at a southern weddings photo shoot makes me want to work for southern weddings!

this gingerbread barn building event makes me want to work for southern weddings AND live in north carolina!

but only a little bit…because i’m still head over heels in love with my new BFF rochester. especially now that lush is moving here, too!!!

camping and i are decidedly not BFF’s, but this fun engagement session makes me think that maybe we could be friends (or at least agree that s’mores are the greatest)

oh, perspective. you are so beautiful. thankful for this post, especially for this much-needed reminder: “I’m sick of not being inspired. So many of us are blessed to own these super cool things that put a rectangle around our worlds and then freeze them in time. Oh my gosh!”

it should surprise no one that i’m already working on my 2012 goals. expect a post detailing them soon, probably before 2011 comes to a close. but in the mean time…one of the HUGE ones?…to (somehow) attend a making things happen workshop.

until then, i’ll just stalk the making things happen tumblr

how can you not celebrate what tim tebow is doing? even if you disagree with his faith or his style of play, he is making game-changing things happen on the field while simultaneously making life-changing things happen off the field. you go, timmy.

how can you not celebrate what the packers are doing? even if it makes you break out in cold sweats every sunday? and inordinately apprehensive about thanksgiving?

loving this new (to me) food blog…the sweet potato stuffed baked apples?! oh yes. it’s on.

speaking of food blogs…i’ve also been loving this one and this one and this one

pin of the week:

the daily…pause

Peeps, dailies posts are on a temporary moratorium until life is less crazy. So, basically, until December. Of 2020. JUST kidding…December 2011 is (probably) what I mean. We’ll pick back up then…and with a new and improved dailies theme! All other posting will continue, so that will stay normal. Even though I’m sure most of you won’t be able to get through the day without knowing what I ate for lunch. Just try your best to carry on.

(Two insubstantial notes: 1 – Tomorrow’s post makes me happy. 2 – So does this.)

beka stays healthy : almond joy oatmeal

Is there any better way to start the day than with Joy?

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Especially if it’s Almond Joy?

Even more especially if it’s a breakfast that is delicious, good for you, and will keep you full for hours?

And all for 250 calories?

Sometimes life just seems too good to be true.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened, but I bet vanilla would be good too!)
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbsp walnuts (or almonds, I just prefer walnuts!)
  • 1/2 Tbsp carob chips or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 frozen banana

Recipe:

Cook the oats as per your preferred method – stovetop or microwave. Once cooked, stir in 2 tablespoons of almond milk and about 1 tablespoon of unsweetened shredded coconut, saving about a teaspoon for sprinkling on top. Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the top is just barely golden brown. Top with the nuts and put back under the broiler for another minute or so until the walnuts are toasted. Remove from broiler, top with carob or chocolate chips and remaining 2 tablespoons of almond milk. Let sit for a few minutes to cool and then top with chopped frozen bananas. You could definitely use fresh bananas; I just like the flavor/texture of the frozen ones in this oatmeal.

People. This one’s a winner. But don’t trust me – try it yourselves! There are so many variations you could try to make it even better too. I bet it would be great with coconut milk, a little vanilla, maybe some almond extract. Go crazy!

And if that weren’t enough, this is what I have to look forward to for lunch:

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Leftovers from yesterday’s lunch, Moroccan Chickpea Lentil Stew and a Rosemary Roll from Wegmans.

Oh, life is good. True story.