Green Bean!

While we were overseas, I learned about a really neat produce co-op that was going on in my old college town.  Admittedly, the town was really liberal and hippie, very environmentally friendly, and committed to locally sourced foods.  It was awesome, and I miss living there even today.  However, at that time, there was no way that the town we had been living in prior to moving overseas would ever have anything like that.  It wasn’t that the town was bad, it just wasn’t as progressive like my old college town.  Which was fine, because we were overseas, so it wasn’t like we could partake in it anyways.

However, upon moving back, we really wanted to find something where we could get fresh, local produce regularly.  I wanted to grow a garden, but quickly realized that our backyard wasn’t going to work, because it got very little natural sunlight.  Luckily, my sister-in-law has a large plot of land out in the country, and they grow a lot of their own vegetables, so we’re going to join up with them in the spring.  Until then, though, we needed another option.

In came Green Bean Delivery!  They came to our office and did a big presentation about what they offered and where they delivered, and it was exactly what we were looking for!  You start off by picking the size of your box, and then each week (or bi-weekly) they send you a list of what’s in your box.  If you like it, awesome!  If you don’t, that’s ok, because you can remove and add different things.  Plus, if for some reason you’re out-of-town or whatever, you can have your shipment put on hold, and you won’t receive anything or be charged!  We’ve done this a few weeks now, and it has been fantastic.  The produce is always fresh and often local (though we did get blueberries in one shipment…I couldn’t resist, I don’t care where they come from).  Plus, it really forces us to cook a lot at home, and really reinforces the idea of eating seasonally.  We get food that’s fresh and in season, and as such, our menu really reflects what is growing at that moment.  Plus, they have a lot of other grocery store items that I can add to my delivery, on top of produce.  I get some of our cheeses and cottage cheese there, plus they have fresh pizza dough and other things.  It’s basically an online grocery store, that delivers straight to your door.

I’m excited for spring, because we’ll be growing a lot of this ourselves.  We’ll put the delivery on hold for the season, and pick back up in the winter.  I’ve found that our diets have been even healthier since joining the delivery service, which has been really nice.  Overall, I’ve been really pleased with it, and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Does anyone else get produce and goods from a co-op?  Good experiences, bad?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Much love,
K.

green bean delivery

PS – This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Green Bean.  I just really love it so far!

Out of Surgery

J’s dad had his surgery yesterday.  They wound up doing a quadruple bypass surgery for his heart, and though it was only supposed to take six hours from start to finish, the surgery wound up lasting nearly nine hours total.  Apparently he has small arteries, or something along those lines.  Overall, the surgery went over well, and the wait at the hospital wasn’t too bad.  J and I were there for most of the time, until I had to leave to take one of our cats to the vet.  I went back to the hospital later one, and was able to see J’s dad prior to going home for the night.

As of this morning, J’s dad was awake and they removed the ventilation port so he’s breathing on his own.  All very good things!  It’ll be a long road to recovery, but I’m hopeful that it will be worth it in the end.  For the first week, J’s dad will be in the Critical Care Unit, and after that he will be either a) released to go home, or b) moved to the cardiac rehab unit where he will undergo cardiac rehabilitation for a few weeks, before being released to go home.  Either way, this next week will be crucial in his recovery, so I’m hoping things go smoothly.

J seems to be less stressed, overall.  Work has been insanely busy for both of us, and on top of work he’s had his dad’s health to focus on.  Plus, he just returned from Japan last week, so he’s still dealing with jet lag on top of all of it.  I feel bad for him, because he’s so exhausted a lot of the time, but I’m hoping this coming weekend he can get lots of rest and relax a bit.  He cancelled his work trip to Las Vegas, so that will help (it’s for a work expo/show, and those things are never restful in the least).  Since he’s not having to go to that, hopefully he can get more work finished up and relax a bit.

That’s about it for now!  J’s dad’s surgery has been our biggest concern for the past week, so I’ve not been around much to update.  Hopefully that’ll change this week.  Hope you all are doing well!

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday: The Art of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

If there is one thing that I absolutely LOVE (vegetarian and non-vegetarian), it’s a good grilled cheese sandwich.  I like how you can change it up and really completely different from the last time you ate it, and there are so many options!  There’s the classic:  white bread and Kraft cheese singles, and while I enjoyed it as a kid, I can’t really stomach it now.  Something about the grease factor of the cheese slices and the butter on the bread…it basically kills my stomach.  I guess that’s a good thing, as I’m sure the original grilled cheese wasn’t exactly “figure friendly” either.

But, I’ve found a few ways to lighten up the amazingness that is the Grilled Cheese sandwich.  I try to use really flavorful cheeses, so I can use less of it, and I skip all the butter business altogether.  Some people would argue that it’s no longer a grilled cheese, but I love it, and that’s what matters.  So, the point of this is to talk about my creation last night!  It’s my favorite go-to Grilled Cheese sandwich (though I have several in my arsenal, this is my favorite).  It’s a sharp cheddar and apple grilled cheese.  YUM!

Normally, before I started changing my diet, I’d make grilled cheese sandwiches on deliciously thick cut, sourdough bread.  But, after decided to get my eating under control and make healthier choices, I found these amazing things called Sandwich Rounds.  They’re like a bun, but super thin!  You still get bread, but not too much bread, and definitely far fewer calories.  I make a lot of our own breads, but I haven’t quite mastered the thin sandwich rounds just yet.  It’s a future goal…we’ll get there.

sandwich rounds

Another thing I like to add to my grilled cheese (specifically the cheddar and apple one) is spicy stone ground mustard.  Something about the mustard, with the apples, with the cheese.  OMG…it just WORKS!  So, instead of butter on the inside of the bread (because who likes a dry grilled cheese), I mix up a teaspoon of olive oil mayonnaise and a teaspoon of spicy, stone ground mustard.  I slather that on the inside of the bun before putting on my cheese.

Finally, the key ingredients.  The apple and the cheese.  This is where you can go nuts in your choices.  Personally, I like nothing better than a nice, raw milk, white sharp cheddar cheese.  I recently got a good one from Organic Valley.  It’s a raw milk, sharp cheddar, and it is so tasty!  It also melts beautifully, which is important for a good grilled cheese.  Plus, a serving size is 1 ounce, but I realized last night that 1 ounce is almost too much cheese for the sandwich, so you can easily cut it back a bit for a more calorie friendly portion!  SCORE!

cheese

The, of course, the apple.  I prefer granny smith apples for these sandwiches, because they’re nice and tart.  However, this honestly is a “whatever floats your boat” kind of preference choice.  Last night, I used a gala apple…it was all we had.  Guess what, the sandwich was still darn tasty!  So, you could go with any sort of apple here.  I would choose one that’s a bit under-ripe so that you can have that nice crunch, but again, it’s up to you.

Here’s where my grilled cheese really deviates from the classic.  I don’t do the whole “butter on the outside and slap it in a skillet” part.  GASP!  I know.  But…I go for healthy a lot of the time, and a few tablespoons of butter and frying a sandwich doesn’t usually equate “healthy.”  So, what I do is take my bread/sandwich round/whatever, and put it in the toaster.  Then, with the toasted bread, I build the sandwich and put it in the microwave to melt the cheese.  I would use a Panini press, if we had one, but we don’t.  So…I do the toaster and microwave combo and go from there.  Some people will be apoplectic over my choice, but I like it and it honestly doesn’t taste different from the original (to me).

So…there you have it…my grilled cheese sandwich.  I have a produce delivery coming tomorrow, and we’re getting two pints of fresh blueberries, so I’m thinking about making a blueberry brie grilled cheese later in the week.  I’ll be sure to report back and let you know how it goes!  What’s your favorite combination for a grilled cheese?  I’d love to have new ideas!

Much love,
K.

Life has a way of kicking you in the teeth.

Just when we thought everything was finally calming down with medical issues in the family, life had other plans.  Sunday evening, en route from Tokyo airport to Chicago, I got a text message from J’s mom that J’s father was being admitted to the hospital for chest pains.  For those of you who have been around for some time, J’s father had a massive heart attack on J’s birthday last year.  If you’re relatively new to my blog, the post explaining everything is here.  The doctor’s at the hospital took J’s father back to surgery immediately, and put in a stent to prevent further heart attacks and to allow the clot to flow.  J’s father recovered fairly quickly and was doing really well.  Until now.

Sunday came, and J’s father had chest pains.  The Nitro wasn’t helping, so he went to the ER and they promptly admitted him after looking at his history.  The doctors went back in and did another heart cath (luckily, they were able to go through his wrist this time instead of his groin), and determined that it was another block that was causing the pain, not the artery with the stent in it.  At this point, they had two options.

Option 1:  Put in a second stent.  This option, while not bad, wasn’t the best because J’s father is diabetic.  Due to the diabetes, the doctors have had better luck with a different course of action, rather than placing another stent.  Stents are more of a short-term fix in J’s father’s case, so they were wanting to make sure they were keeping their eye on the future, not just the “here and now.”

Option 2:  Bypass surgery.  At this point, the doctors were looking at AT LEAST a triple bypass, if not quadruple.  They felt this was a better option due to J’s father’s diabetes.  The only concern was the heavy dose of blood thinners that he was on, due to the stent placed last year.

J’s father decided to go with the bypass surgery, and has been scheduled for Monday.  We’re all nervous and worried about how this will play out, but we’re hopeful this will solve the problem.  J is a wreck, but hanging in there, which is good.  Overall, any spare prayers out there would be greatly appreciated.

That’s all that’s going on in my world…everything ok in yours?

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday!

Normally, at this point, I’d be writing about a recipe that I made last week that really blew my mind.  Unfortunately, as J was out on a business trip to Japan, I didn’t make much of anything.  So…my recipe would probably go something like this: Pick up my iPhone, find the number to Ru-Yi Chinese take-out, call in order, go pick it up.  Yeah…more like a recipe for delicious food, water retention from sodium overload, and higher numbers on the scale.

So, I decided that instead of writing up about that, I’d write a post on a recipe that I want to make this week!  I’ll definitely come back later in the week with a review once I make it (and hopefully remember to take photos), but this way I can give you a little preview of what is to come!  I’ve been craving spring food.  The weather here has been atrocious lately.  This is coming from a girl who LOVES winter and all it has to offer, and I’m even over it.  So, because of that, I wanted to make something that reminds me of the spring.  I came across a food blog that has tons of recipes that I can’t wait to try, and this one really caught my eye!  Spring Pea and Asparagus Pasta!  YUMMY!  I absolutely love peas, and asparagus is also another favorite vegetable, so I thought this would be right up my flavor alley.  Plus, we don’t really allow ourselves much pasta, but every so often it’s a nice treat.  We haven’t had it in a while, and I think it’s time to bring it back into rotation.

I’ll have to let you know how it goes!  I might make it for dinner tonight.  We recently signed up for a produce delivery program where every Tuesday we get a big box of fresh produce that is all local and all in season.  That will come tomorrow, so I’ll line up meals for Tuesday through Monday using those ingredients, once I get an idea of what all we’ll get.  But…we don’t have any from last week, since I put the delivery on hold knowing J would be out-of-town (hence the take-out).  So…I’ll add the ingredients to my list for the grocery run, and hopefully we can have a delicious (and nutritious) meal tonight!

Much love,
K.

My next sewing project.

Every since I made pajama pants for J and I for Christmas Eve 2013, I’ve  been wanting to get started on another sewing project.  I really enjoyed making the pajamas, and while crochet will always be my first “craft love,” it’s nice to branch out once in a while.  So, even though at the moment I am DETERMINED to finish Baby O’s afghan and do a post on it, I wanted to do a post on my next sewing project for when I’m finished with the blanket.

I wanted something simple and relatively quick, since I have two more crocheted blankets that I need to start and complete in the coming months.  My mother’s afghan will be a granny square motif in Chocolate Brown, Sage Green, Latte Brown, and Cream.  Then, a good friend in the UK is having a baby girl, so I’ll be making her a colorful (or “colourful”) baby blanket for her sweet baby.  Lots of bright colors for that one, but luckily my stash is extensive, and I shouldn’t have to buy any new yarn (J will be thrilled with that).

But…the sewing project will be for our house, unlike my crochet projects, which are normally gifts.  I was thinking of making some pillows for the house.  Something easy to work up, but comfortable and cute.  I’d really like them for our downstairs spare room, to put on the bed.  I have a duvet cover that is really colorful, from Kate Spade, and so I wanted something that could be done in a solid color to complement that.  The bedding is bright pink and orange, navy and white…all stripped.  I really fell in love with it when I came across it, and it was at T.J.Maxx (that store is awesome), so I snatched it up!  Here is a photo, so you can see what I’m talking about.

Bedding.

The bedding has lots of navy in it, and also has a small bit of yellow (which is a bit hard to see in the photo).  I have the pillow shams shown above, the ones that have the navy blue border, so I wanted something that would pop against the navy.  So…I thought Yellow would be great for that!  And with that criteria (solid color and fun), I went searching for a cute pillow tutorial to whip something up with.

As always, Vanessa Christenson had what I wanted!  Her quilts are always beautiful, and her tutorials read really easy (even though I’d not ventured out so far as to try one yet), so I thought I’d see what she had by way of pillows.  First thing on her blog today is an adorable pillow tutorial (serendipitous, don’t you think), which would work perfectly with my bedding!  It’s a bit 1970s shag, but I think it’s fabulous and can’t wait to give it a whirl!  I’m going to make a bigger pillow than what she has shown, but still keep it in a rectangle shape to sit in front of the two shams.  Here’s a picture!

shag pillow

Isn’t that super cute!  I can’t wait to get started on it…it’s given me even more motivation to finish up the afghan for Baby O (as if her being 3 months old at this point isn’t motivation enough), just so I can allow myself to buy fabric and get started!  I’ll be sure to blog about the sewing adventure once I’m ready, but for now, I’ll leave it at this.

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and a happy weekend!

Much love,
K.

Writing

When 2014 rolled around, I didn’t make many resolutions. I tend to fail at them, first…so why set yourself up for failure. In 2013, my New Year’s resolution was to live life in moderation. I didn’t want to pick out anything specific…I was thinking all aspects of my life. I was searching for balance, and trying to sort my way through repatriation back to the US. And really, that one seemed to work out for me, so I thought I’d carry it through to 2014.

And while I didn’t have resolutions, per se, I did have a few goals that I wanted to work towards. I realized that I’d been neglecting my blog quite a bit. A lot of this was due to the move from Xanga to WordPress (even though I already hosted a travel blog on WordPress, it just seemed weird to continue my life blog outside of Xanga), along with the increase in overall STUFF that I found myself working on. So, one goal was to write more…and so far, I think I’ve accomplished that (of course, it is only February…so we’ll see how it continues). Another area was to be more active, and now most days I walk anywhere between 3-5 miles on the treadmill while working. So that’s been good too!

But, there was one goal that I never really voiced out loud. Not on my blog, not in person…it was my own little secret. A secret where, if it didn’t happen, no one would know and then I wouldn’t have really failed at it, right? Sort of a “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound” sort of philosophical questions. But…I think I’m ready to talk about it now. I feel more ready to voice my goal, and really feel accountable to it’s success. So, here it is.

I want to write a book. Now, not some academic dissertation on the tragic downfall of state-building in Iraq (been there, did that, Junior year of college), or some analysis of the most recent court case to chisel away the rights of women established in Roe v. Wade. Nope…I want to write a book that I would want to read. And that means action, suspense, romance, and probably some smut. Yes…I said it folks…smut. Tasteful smut, thankyouverymuch! I’ve started it already, and have the first few chapters finished. I’ll vanity publish, since I doubt anyone would ever actually publish it for me, but it’ll fulfill a big goal for me. I’ve been thinking about doing this for YEARS…and I finally decided to stop thinking about it and start doing it.

So…yeah, there it is. My hidden New Year’s un-resolution (since I never really made it one). But now it’s out here, and now you all know. And hopefully you’ll all help hold me accountable to actually finishing it. I’ll probably post periodic updates (though not actual content), and let you know how things are going…but if you ever want an update, don’t hesitate to ask!

Surely I can’t be alone…who else out there has a hidden desire that they’ve never voiced? Feel free to mention them in the comments…who knows, it just might propel you into doing exactly what you want!

Much love,
K.

Good help is so hard to find.

I’m nearly finished up with a baby blanket that I’ve been working on for far too long.  Once I finish, I’ll be sure to do a post on it, but for now I wanted to show you just how “helpful” my cats are.  Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on my couch getting some crocheting done.  Lieve, one of my two kitten sisters, decided that she wanted to join me.  She spent about 30 seconds batting at the yarn, and then decided that a nap was far more enticing.  And thus, this photo.

Lieve

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday!

The week has kick-started yet again!  I don’t generally hate Monday’s, per se, but I will admit that I’m much more in love with Friday’s.  But that’s ok…I have a feeling this week will drag by as it is.  J is overseas on work travel, so I’ll be hanging out on my own this week.  Not really a big deal…I honestly don’t mind it, but the time does seem to slow down a lot when he’s gone.

On Saturday, while J was working on the home remodel projects with his brother-in-law, I was busy in the kitchen.  Apparently, the cooking bug had hit, and I had to make ALL OF THE FOODS.  There was one particular recipe I had been dying to try for quite some time…honey challah.  So…I figured I had a free Saturday, why not!  Let me tell you, I am SO glad I did!

For those of you familiar with challah bread, you know that it’s absolutely delicious.  Sort of like a croissant in a bread form.  Buttery, light, sweet…fabulous for breakfast, or a nice brie cheese and jam Panini.  It’s one of my absolute favorite breads, but it’s hard to find around here (unless you manage to get to Panera early on a Friday, the only day they have it available).  So, while browsing Pinterest one day, I came across this recipe for Honey Challah, and was totally in love!

The recipe is surprisingly simple.  I’d always been scared to death of making challah…I assumed it was ridiculously hard and I’d fail miserably.  Maybe that’s true of some challah recipes, but this one was really easy!  I mixed everything up (very similar to regular bread, with the addition of honey and eggs), and used my KitchenAid mixer to do the work for me.  After running the mixer to let it knead, all I had to do was knead it a few more times, put it in an oiled bowl, and let it rise.  Then, separate it into thirds and braid it…then let it rise again!  Then, bake it.  The hands on time for this recipe was really short…maybe 10 minutes or so to make the dough, then another few minutes to separate and braid.  The rest of the time is spent with the dough rising, and you don’t really have to do anything for that.  I will say, I did have to bake it longer than the directions called for, because it wasn’t quite done in the middle, but after giving it another 10 minutes or so, it came out perfect!  The bread was light and fluffy, with a really nice sweetness (very subtle, not super sweet).  The loaf was enormous, so I ended up sending half of it home with my in-laws who had come over to help with the remodel.  Even after that, though, I was still left with PLENTY of bread.  I’ve been munching on it randomly ever since, and each day it’s still super good!

And, what is a post without photos!  Here is my challah bread…the egg wash at that I brushed on prior to baking really allowed the top to brown up, and I think it looks really nice and shiny!  If you’re interested in challah, I can definitely recommend this recipe.  Give it a try, and I hope you enjoy it!

Much love,
K.

unbaked challah        honey challah

Valentine’s Day

Oh Valentine’s Day. The Hallmark holiday designed to make the vast majority of people feel inadequate because either a) you’re single, or b) your significant other didn’t live up to expectations on what they “SHOULD” have done. It’s a day that rivals the complexity of walking through a minefield, blindfolded and deaf. Basically, it’s a day designed to be full of love, hearts, and romance…and winds up being anything but for a lot of people.

Now, many of you are probably reading this and thinking, “DAYAM! What happened to this chick to make her so bitter!?” I can only reassure you, nothing happened to me, I’m not a bitter hag, and you don’t need to feel bad for my husband. I’ve actually never had any sort of problems with Valentine’s Day, but I have been around the block or two and listened to more than one of my girlfriends complain about the day and what it represents/lacks. So…this is all based on my observations, not so much personal experience.

J is actually pretty good at the whole Valentine’s Day. But then again, I’m pretty clear on what I expect, so the follow-through really isn’t hard. I actually think this is probably the most important thing I’ve learned in my relationship with J. Clear expectations…he can’t read my mind, so why should I be angry with him for things that he has no idea I even want? I don’t expect much, but what I do expect I am sure to communicate. It’s the same every year. I expect a card. Doesn’t have to be sweet, doesn’t have to be romantic. It could be ugly as sin. But I expect a card with a real message on it, one that required a bit more thought than just signing his name. And really, that’s it. That’s all I ask. Honestly, if the man can’t follow through with that, then I don’t know what to tell him. But, so far, so good.

This year, J will be traveling for work during Valentine’s Day. He’ll be overseas, and it’s really not a big deal. If there’s one thing we never do, we NEVER go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day ON Valentine’s Day. It’s too busy, too crowded, and too hyped up. No thanks, I’d rather sit on my couch and go out the weekend before or after. More low-key and our style. So, while J is away on work, I will be spending Valentine’s Day with a friend, eating sushi while sitting on the couch in our pajamas, watching movies. I’m actually really looking forward to it, and I know we’ll have a great time.

But, I will admit, I’ve had J’s Valentine’s Day gift ready for nearly a month. One thing I LOVE doing is giving gifts. I get a lot of joy out of it, and it makes me happy! So, I do it often. I got J a really cute coupon book that I got a Groupon for, from Datevitation. They print it out for you, and send it to you in the mail, and then you just give it! You can customize your coupons to any of their options (and they have a lot), and you can even upload your own photos for the faces of the characters. I didn’t really do that, because it seemed creepy, but it was definitely an option.

On top of that…I got him a card. Like I said…we don’t really go big for the holidays. What’s important to us are the gifts that come from the heart, and we try our best to gift each other “experiences” rather than things. So, the coupon book made it really easy, because I could easily gift J fifteen different “experiences” for when he wants to cash them in! And while I won’t be able to give it to him on Valentine’s Day, I’ll probably give it to him when he gets back, so he can really start thinking about when he wants to use them.

Otherwise, that’s it. Nothing elaborate, nothing over the top. We’re laid back people, so it fits us really well. Now, would I turn down a trip to Paris, France, if he ever decided to surprise me? Oh hell no! But, I don’t expect it, and honestly, I doubt he’d ever think of it. Lol, but that’s ok. I love him just how he is, analytical mind and all.

What about you guys…any Valentine’s Day plans on the agenda?

Much love,
K.

 

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