Thursday, January 26, 2012

How I started dating my husband

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the day that my husband and I began dating. Be sure to check out the story of how we met before reading this installment in the Our Love Story series!

Now for the story...

Between the time we met in November and the time Kerry moved to Chicago to begin his graduate studies in early January, we exchanged hundreds (seriously, hundreds...I have them all printed out and in my keepsake box!) of messages via facebook. I am not sure why we chose this method of communication, but, we did, and I am glad to have those "get-to-know-you" conversations preserved for all time. We had established a good foundation for our friendship through these myriad messages, and I was looking forward to finally living close enough to each other where we could have face-to-face conversation on a regular basis.

Naturally, since I was the only person Kerry knew at Moody, we spent lots of time together. We rode the L to Target with several of my friends, I introduced him to my favorite coffee shop, showed him around campus and shared a chocolate cake shake at a Chicago must-see with him. We played chess in the student center late on a Saturday night and went to church together. I still was not sure where our relationship was going, whether we were spending so much time together because I was a familiar face or because he was interested in pursuing me further. My mind was put to rest regarding this when he asked me to go to dinner with him at Efes, a beautiful authentic Turkish restaurant in the Lakeview neighborhood, after church on January 18th. I claim this as our first date. After dinner, where I had come prepared to pay for my meal since I still was not sure where our relationship was headed, I came back to my dorm room and told my roommate that I had just shared dinner with the man I was going to marry.

That next week was busy for both of us, so we did not see each other much. We went out for cake shakes again one time that week, and I was sure that Kerry was going to ask me to be his girlfriend while we were there, but, much to my disappointment, he did not. We went to church together on Sunday and went our separate ways once we got back to campus. Monday, which was Kerry's longest day of classes, came around and I was not expecting to see him since he had such a busy day. I had gone to dinner and was sitting in my room, probably working on a paper or reading one of the many, many books I read while in college, when my phone rang. It was Kerry and he wanted to know if I would accompany him to the grocery store. I did not think anything of this because he had had an emergency appendectomy over Christmas break and was under a weight lifting restriction. I figured he just needed someone to carry his groceries home, something I had done for him already. So, we began the mile or so walk to the grocery store in the bitter January cold and I was just chattering away, per usual. I had gathered by this time that Kerry was a man of few words, but that night he was silent. I talked the whole way to the grocery store and was actually starting to run out of things to say! He grabbed my gloved hand in the parking lot of the Jewel on Clark St. in downtown Chicago and said, "I have been wanting to ask, but just couldn't get the courage up...will you be my girlfriend?". I, of course, said yes and we continued on into the grocery store to get the things he needed. Although Kerry will admit to being slightly embarrassed by the fact that he asked me to be his girlfriend in the parking lot of a grocery store, I think it was adorable and perfectly suited to his personality. And, in case we ever forget that important event, I saved the receipt from that shopping trip and it graces the front cover of our dating scrapbook!

Check back in March to read the story of our engagement!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1/23-1/29

One of my goals for the new year was to serve fish once a week. My husband and I love fish, but, I just don't have that much experience cooking it, which makes me shy away from including it in our menu plan. If you have been following our menu plans thus far this new year, you will notice that I have yet to serve fish (except for salmon patties, but those don't really count!). So, when I went to the grocery store on Wednesday, I marched up to the fish counter and got some cod fillets. Hopefully they turn out delicious!

Here is the rest of our menu plan, broken up by meals rather than days of the week because I want to try something different :)

  • Soaked oatmeal and fruit (with honey and maple syrup) x3
  • Soaked chocolate coffee cake, hardboiled eggs and fruit x 2
  • Soaked whole wheat pancakes, bacon and fruit
  • Leftovers (for me) x 4
  • Standard lunch (for hubby) x 4
  • Hot dogs, chips and fruit
  • Church lunch
  • Interview lunch (second to last medical school interview for my husband!)
  • Crockpot spaghetti, whole wheat biscuits and fruit
  • Sausage and red bean stew (recipe below!), whole wheat biscuits and fruit
  • Leftovers (for me) x 2
  • Standard lunch (for hubby) x 2
  • Honey baked cod fillets, brussel sprouts, whole wheat biscuits and fruit
  • Calzones, homemade dipping sauce and fruit
  • Popcorn and smoothies

Sausage and Red Bean Stew
1 lb. cooked sausage
2 c. soaked, rinsed and cooked red beans (2/3 c. dry beans)
1/2 c. brown rice, uncooked
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
2 c. tomato juice
1/2 c. green pepper, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Layer all ingredients in a slow cooker. Give it a stir and cook on low for 6 hours.

Are you trying to incorporate more fish into your diet? What is your favorite way to eat fish?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1/16-1/22

It is Menu Plan Monday again!

This week is unusual for us (more like this month is unusual!)...Kerry has another interview for medical school on Friday all the way in Pennsylvania and he works some double shifts, so I will be on my own for meals quite a few times this week. I am omitting Thursday and Friday from the menu plan because I plan on just eating leftovers when Kerry is not with us for meals. Breakfast and lunch are the usual.

Here is our plan for the week!

  • Dinner: Thanksgiving in January with my parents
  • Dinner: Red eye gravy, mashed potatoes and fruit
  • Dinner: Crockpot chicken curry, biscuits and fruit (recipe below)
  • Breakfast: Soaked whole wheat pancakes, bacon and fruit
  • Lunch: Hot dogs, chips and fruit
  • Dinner: Calzones and fruit
  • Lunch: Church lunch
  • Dinner: Popcorn and smoothies 
Crockpot Chicken Curry
1 can coconut milk
2 c. garbanzo beans, soaked, rinsed and cooked (2/3 c. dry beans)
2 c. chicken, cooked and shredded
1 tbs. tomato paste
2 tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cumin
few dashes of hot sauce (I use Sriacha)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of chopped and smashed garlic
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 of an eggplant, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped

Assemble all of your spices, coconut milk, hot sauce and tomato paste in the bottom of the crockpot and mix together. The sauce should be a pretty yellow color. Add the chicken and pour in the garbanzo beans. Wash and chop all the veggies, then add to the crockpot. Don't worry about stirring them in with the sauce. They will sit on top of the chicken and steam up nicely. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Stir gently to mix flavors, careful not to mush the sweet potato. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DIY: Laundry Detergent

I am constantly brainstorming and re-thinking the way that I tackle my tasks as a stay-at-home momma. I am always on the lookout for new and creative ways to save time and money. I am willing to try just about anything once, much to my don't-fix-what-isn't-broken husband's dismay!

My latest project was making my own laundry detergent. It was quite simple, but a little on the time consuming side. I am willing to sacrifice the time for the amount of money we will be saving, though! I said on facebook that I did not want to share the recipe until I had tried it out on our clothes. Since Monday is my laundry day, I was able to try it out for the first time yesterday and am happy to report that it worked! Everything came out clean and smelling fresh. It even got the avocado stains out of a few of Julian's bibs :)

The ingredients on display
If you google "homemade laundry detergent", you will get lots of different recipes. I would venture to guess that about 99% of the recipes I consulted used all three of these ingredients, although some added other things as well. Since we deal with sensitive skin in our family, I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. I adapted this from several different recipes I found online to make it the perfect amount for our family of three. I ended up with about 64 ounces of powdered detergent. I will update when I make more so you can see how long 64 ounces of detergent lasted us!

Storms Family Laundry Detergent (Powder)

1 bar Fels Naptha soap
1 1/2 c. borax
2 1/2 c. super washing soda

Cut the bar of soap into four pieces and grate. Once grated, put soap flakes into a blender with a teeny tiny bit of hot water. Blend for about five minutes until the soap is super fine. Add the borax and pulse until mixed. Add the super washing soda and pulse until mixed. Pulse a few more times for good measure and pour into an airtight container. Use 1-2 tbs. per load of laundry. 

Note: Be sure to label this as laundry detergent. It is yellowish in color and could easily be mistaken for lemonade powder! Also, I would not recommend using this for cloth diapers. I use Planet to wash my cloth diapers and am too scared to try anything else now that I have a system down!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1/9-1/15

It is Menu Plan Monday  again! Our menu plan this week is extremely simple due to the fact that Kerry will not be home for a few nights and I don't care to dirty dishes and make a brand new meal just for myself :)

We are having soaked oatmeal and fruit for breakfast every day except Saturday and the usual lunch, unless otherwise noted on the menu plan. Where lunch is the main meal due to Kerry's work schedule, we will be having the usual lunch at dinner time.

  • Dinner: at the Sliger's (bringing brownies)
  • Lunch: Salmon patties, potato wedges and fruit
  • Wednesday
  • Lunch: Hot dogs, chips and fruit
  • Dinner: Leftovers ( Kerry is traveling for a medical school interview!!)
  • Dinner: Leftovers
  • Breakfast: Soaked whole wheat pancakes, bacon and fruit
  • Dinner: Calzones and fruit (recipe below)
  • Lunch: Church lunch
  • Dinner: Popcorn and smoothies
Whole Wheat Calzones
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
1 tbs. + 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. sucanat (or sweetener of your choice) 
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 lb. sausage, cooked
1/2 c. mushrooms (or veggies of choice, I have used green pepper, eggplant etc.)
1 tbs. basil (I never measure this!)
1 egg, beaten

Dough: Dissolve the yeast in water. Add the 1 tbs. of oil, the sweetener and salt. Mix in 1 cup of the flour until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough is smooth and workable. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes. Lay the dough in a bowl with 1 tsp. of oil, then flip the dough over. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place about 40 minutes or until doubled. Alternately, you can make the dough the night before and cover it tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. If you do this, let the dough warm up for about a half hour before making the calzones.

Filling: While the dough is rising, combine the sausage, veggies and basil in a bowl and refrigerate. 
Preheat the oven to 375. When the dough is ready, punch it down and separate it into two equal parts. Roll parts into thin circles on a lightly floured surface. Fill each circle with half of the filling mixture and fold over by securing edges and pressing in with a fork. Brush the top of each with egg and place on a baking stone or cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with homemade dipping sauce.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An extra recipe

I like to try to incorporate a new dish into our weekly menu plan as often as I can. This past week we finally were able to try Lentils and Spinach, a dish I found from this blog. I adapted it to fit our family's preferences and we had it for dinner on Thursday. My husband was leery of it, as he usually is with anything that involved lentils, but he surprisingly gave it his seal of approval.

Lentils and Spinach

1 tbs. coconut oil (or healthy fat of your choice)
1 red onion, sliced into rings
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. lentils
2 c. water
1/2 lb. sausage, cooked or 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
1 pkg. frozen spinach
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin (I ran out of cumin, so I used chili powder this week)
freshly ground black pepper
extra garlic

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat and saute onion for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so. Add lentils and water to the pan and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the spinach on the stovetop according to package directions. Add spinach, salt, cumin and meat to the pan and simmer another 10 minutes. Grind in plenty of black pepper and smash in more garlic to taste.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Julian: 8 months

Julian turned eight months old on Thursday!

He looks so old to me lately! We don't have a well baby check-up until February, so I don't have his current weight, but I can tell he is growing just fine...check out those adorable baby belly rolls :) Two bottom teeth are pushing their way through, but have not completely surfaced yet. Don't worry, I DEFINITELY know they are there! He is still nursing wonderfully, about six times a day, and eating twice a day. His current favorite foods are cucumbers and apples. He sits up beautifully and scoots/pivots using his hands and bottom. No signs of crawling yet, much to Kerry's chagrin! This chagrin is mostly my fault because I mentioned in passing something I read or heard (I cant find it now) that talked about the relationship between crawling and math skills later in life. Now he is fixated on Julian crawling! 

Here is one more picture showing just how big our little man is!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: Reading list

One of my goals for 2012 is to read 12 enriching books on my own and 6 books together with my husband.

Here is the list of books I plan to read in no particular order:
  • The Money Saving Mom's Budget
  • Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
  • Mission of Motherhood
  • Radical
  • Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian by John Piper
  • Practicing Affirmation: God-centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God
  • Total Money Makeover
  • Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches
  • Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God
  • Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate
  • MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Mothering
  • Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-free Approach to Intentional Living

And here is the list of the books my husband and I plan to read together:
  • Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together
  • Shepherding A Child's Heart
  • Don't Make Me Count to Three
  • Sex Begins in the Kitchen: Creating Intimacy to Make Your Marriage Sizzle
  • The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
In the spirit of practicing frugality, which is part of my personal mission statement, I will be attempting to borrow these books from the library (we have access to a SUPER extensive inter-library loan system) and from friends. So, if you have any of these books and would like to let me borrow them, let me know!

Happy Reading!

Menu Plan Monday 1/2-1/8

Happy New Year! And welcome to the first Menu Plan Monday of 2012 :)

Last week I did not post a menu due to the abundance of Christmas leftovers we were blessed to receive, so it has been a good two weeks since I have posted my menu plan here for you all to see. We are still getting settled into my husband's new work schedule and you may see that reflected in our menu plan on days where we have dinner at lunchtime and our usual lunch at dinner time. We are back to eating soaked oatmeal everyday for breakfast, except Saturday, and our standard lunch at lunch so I won't be posting our breakfast or lunch plans, unless they deviate from the usual.

That being said, here is our menu for this week!

  • Dinner: Spaghetti, biscuits and fruit 
  •  Dinner: Keema, biscuits and fruit
  • Dinner: Three bean chicken chili, biscuits and fruit
  • Dinner: Lentils, spinach and sausage, biscuits and fruit
  • Dinner: Leftovers
  • Breakfast: Soaked whole wheat pancakes, bacon and fruit
  • Dinner: Calzones and fruit
  • Dinner: Popcorn and fruit
Three Bean Chicken Chili

1 onion, chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
2 c. cooked and shredded chicken
1 2/3 c. cooked kidney beans
1 2/3 c. cooked pinto beans
1 2/3 c. cooked black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 c. chicken bone broth or water
3/4 c. salsa
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt

Put oil in the bottom of a large stockpot and heat on medium. Add chopped onion and cook until soft. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.