Friday, December 31, 2010

RECIPE: Mom's Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad

This recipe is one that my mom, Jamie, created  this month. She made it for Sunday dinner a couple of weeks ago and it was so good that we've both made it for dinner parties since then. The mixture of black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, and lime juice make it yummy and the cilantro is the perfect finishing touch. Enjoy!
This recipe was inspired by a sweet potato salad recipe from Mary Jesperson

1          small sweet potato, unpeeled and cut in small cubes
1          large red onion, diced
3-4       Tbsp olive oil
            OR any spice combination you would like i.e. Herbs de Provence, or cumin and paprika, etc, and salt and/or pepper to taste.
Mix veggies together in a medium-sized bowl with olive oil, spread on a cookie sheet, then add spices and salt and pepper.  Roast at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

           (Jamie: cheapest place in our town to buy this is at WinCo)
           (Jamie: I haven’t tried it yet but you could use any rice and season it).
           Prepare as directed on the box.
1          can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2       cup fresh cilantro
2  Tbsp fresh lime juice
2  Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Whisk together it all together
Add  together roasted sweet potato combination, black beans, cilantro, dressing and rice. Mix gently to combine.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

QUOTE: Succeeding at Trials

If it is our trial, then we can succeed. 

When in situations of stress we wonder if there is any more in us to give, we can be comforted to know that God, who knows our capacity perfectly, placed us here to succeed. No one was foreordained to fail or to be wicked. When we have been weighed and found wanting, let us remember that we were measured before and we were found equal to our tasks; and therefore, let us continue, but with more determined discipleship. When we feel overwhelmed, let us recall the assurance that God will not over-program us; he will not press upon us more than we can bear.  
     Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Than Words

I read this book this weekend. There is one particular sentence and line that leapt out at me it was so beautiful. And perfect. I would share it with you but I only borrowed the book and read it like a I was a drunk with a new bottle of wine. I read it so quickly that I'm still digesting it and I need to go get my own copy so I can write in the margins and highlight my favorite parts.

There is just something about reading that wakes me up and makes me feel alive again. Especially a really, really good book that I can whiz through because the writing is delicious and the story is worth following. They remind me why I love reading so much. It humanizes me, tenderizes me, makes me aware of fellow travelers on the path of life.

I love a good book.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I attended a writers' workshop a few weeks ago where a writer my age spoke about his work in fantasy fiction. He was tall and funny and balding in that gentle way that makes him seem too young to have encountered such follicular challenges. He was more than I expected and better too.

He reminded me that I love the gasp of delight that comes when I encounter unexpected goodness or joy. It feels a bit like jumping impetuously off a rocky ledge on a summer-hot day only to be engulfed by the startling cold water of a mountain lake. The joy of feeling comes partly from the sharpness of that initial pain. 

In some way that describes what I felt when I first read my friend Sarah's essay "Pregnant Thoughts in the Afternoon." It elicited that gasp as it cut me to the quick with this 

[C]ruising through the culture-doused streets of Paris with nagging anxieties about my future clawing into what should have been a care-free vacation with a good friend (whose rich "uncle" was paying for the whole shebang!). While I should have been joyfully diving into patisseries and appreciating only the layers of butter and air, I was worrying about that whole husband thing. Would I ever meet him? The One? Would I be too flawed for him to love me back? There were no prospects at the time and while I was prepared to run to him with open arms, I had serious doubts that he actually existed.
She had articulated my own thrumming thoughts and the often incessant whirl of doubts in my own head. She just did it so well that I nearly missed the real point of her post. And I don't want you to miss it either. 

So, take a minute to digest it for yourself. You might be surprised by joy just like me.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reading Roundup 11/12/10

I often find at the end of the week that there are several things I have come across that week that made an impact on me or that I liked or that made me laugh, so I'm introducing Reading Roundup. A chance to review some of my favorite things that week.

Here are the tidbits and stories this week: 

A word of advice about what NOT to do when the UPS man shows up at your door. This story made me nearly cry with laughter when I first came across it. So, cop to it--just how many of you have done something similar? 

A bluesy song from the two sisters of the Dixie Chicks. I heard this song this week and I liked the stripped-down and laid-bare feel of it. Take a listen and see what you think. 

The most inspirational of the week was my brother Brock writing about his last year doing Crossfit and how it has changed his body and his mind. He goes into detail about what he has learned from this process and I loved reading it. It gave me a boost of can-do attitude as well as insight as he addresses issues like body image and self-confidence. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Goobies Photo 2010

I've been looking at this photo for weeks on my desktop. It makes me smile every time I see it. I love Kai's face, Gaby's girliness, Noah's total comfort level, and B's attempt at a smile. And Meg and Spencer just look good and happy. I think this photo captured a moment in time that will make me smile for years to come.

Meg had a great photographer in the valley do the photo shoot. Her business is called Captured by Mikki.  Check out the other photos from the photo shoot on her blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Introducing Miss Celia

This little darling is baby Celia. She joins 4 older siblings, is greatly loved by all and is as sweet and delicious  as she looks

I love babies. And the more babies join the family (and baby Celia is #21) the more my heart explodes with L-O-V-E. I can't believe how much each new baby splits me wide open with excitement and joy. And that love doesn't diminish any of the sweetness and delight I have in any of the other 20 n&ns that I still get to enjoy. I feel so, so lucky to have so many of them around. I know the parenting gig can be a tough one but I appreciate so much all of my siblings and their spouses and their willingness to be parents because the rewards for me as an auntie? They are incomparable.

In the meantime, check out my sister-in-law Cissy's blog where she shares more about this little sweetheart. And sit and stay for a spell. I love perusing Cissy's writing because she has such writerly way about her and knows how to tell a story simply and well.

Meanwhile, I'm planning my next opportunity to stop by and give little Celia another cuddle. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Queens of the Dance

I'm "borrowing" most of this post wholesale from my darling niece Abby who writes on a private blog at She is such a creative teenager who loves music and words and is poised to conquer the world with her gifts someday soon.

Tonight though she just made me LAUGH when she pulled out a video from this summer that features two of her aunts dancing for National Dance Day (inspired by the show So You Think You Can Dance). What do you think of the talent these two display?

These are Abby's words on the subject:
This is my FAVE video that my Aunt Julie (Brown hair) and my Aunt Cassie (Blonde hair) made. I'm suprised it only has 67 views. But I know we can get it to thousands... :)

Let's make Abby's dream come true by getting them more airtime and see if you don't bubble over with their crazy fun while you are watching. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

What I Want

I know it has been forever since I have written. I have a number of excuses handy about why that is the case but what it comes down to is this: I am mixed up about what to say. I want to say too much and not enough. So, I'm just going to get some of it out on the table. Here's the lowdown lately:

  • Work is going better than it has in a really long time. I feel more organized, I love the sunlight in my office, I like having all of my coworkers together in the same office suite, I like working in a beautiful building. Work is very left-brained for me but it certainly helps my right-brain side when I can work in beauty.
  •  School is busy. Really, really busy. 
  • The weight thing for me is nonstop, constant thing. I don't write about it here. I've written about it some on my other blog and that is for now where most of it is going to stay. 
  • I am the ward newsletter editor right now in my church calling. It is actually a lot like the work I do every day--compiling content, editing it for access, making it palatable and interesting for consumption. I really enjoy getting to interact with lots of people to put the newsletter together. I also like that people seem to enjoy it so much. It makes me really happy. 
  • I have a new niece (Matt and Cissy's little Celia) and two more n&n's are on the way. I certainly enjoy my weekends when I get the chance to spend some time with n&ns. Love those kiddies. Love them to pieces. They make my heart skip with excitement and love. I feel so, so lucky to be near so many of them and to have the chance to share love and cuddles with them. 
Now down to what I want. Between school, work, and my church calling, I spend a lot of time at the computer. My old home computer has been out of commission for at least a year and I've been using a laptop from work at home when I needed it. What I realize more and more is that I need a better set up at home. New computer, a working printer and a scanner. And that is just to get the newsletter done each month. That doesn't count finances, photos, music and all the other personal life organization I like to stay on top of.

So, here is my wish list.

An iMac:

A laser printer:

A Fujitsu ScanSnap:

That is to get my office in working order. If I was really, really rolling in dough, I would add this to the list.

An iPad:
Finally, I heard a rumor that very, very soon Verizon and Apple are going to announce this event: 
Verizon iPhone: 

And that is something that makes me very, very excited. Just call me a Mac fangirl. I am one through and through. 

I know money can't buy happiness--just like you. But it certainly can buy some pretty sweet toys. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Inaugural Summer Ball

Thanks to Megan's persistence and Mom's amazing dedication to the cause, they hosted and pulled off the first Family Summer Ball last week. All 36 of us--adults, teenagers, children and babies were present for the big night. I knew we would have fun but I must say it was MUCH more fun than I expected. We had such a great response to our first family ball that we are already planning next year's big event. 

Mom, of course, outdid herself with all kinds of yummy treats, Julie made all the invitations, cards and labels, Megan found the gorgeous lights and she insisted that this was a fancy ball and we all dressed up in our finest. Rus provided the music and learning to waltz was free! 

Highlight moments for me included:
  • watching the littles dance with each other--Gaby with Daven, Benson with Elle, Jamie Beth with Noah--and then watching brothers dance with sisters and all of them do it so sweetly. The kids really made this party such a blast!
  • seeing all the women show up in sparkly, twinkly dresses and big diamonds. The dressing up was almost as much fun as the dance.
  • watching Mom and Dad cut the rug on the big band dance numbers
  • seeing my brothers out on the dance floor having a really good time
  • wrapping it all up by dancing the electric slide as one big group. 
For all the details and some incredible photography of that night, you must check out my sister-in-law Julie's blog. She took some excellent photos of the night that made it seem magical. 

I can't wait until next year!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ladies at Lunch

A week ago, my mom invited my sisters and sisters-in-law to lunch at a new restaurant in town called La Jolla Groves. We went on a Thursday afternoon when the place was bustling and full of women, women, women. It was a beautiful, sunshine-filled spot with a delectable menu full of scrumptious selections. It seemed everyone was in bright colors and had big smiles. It was just a lovely afternoon. If I was a lady of leisure it is something I would want to do every week--enjoy an excellent lunch with good friends.

After lunch was over, I was the first to leave and as I walked out, I realized just how much I love all the women at that table. These are good women, filled with light, hard workers who make careful, deliberate decisions about family, home, education, ambition and future. These are women who love deeply and care whole-heartedly about their husbands, children, family and friends. They are accomplished, educated women with bright minds and immense talents. They are women who pray and serve and study the gospel. They have a vast array of gifts and skills and interests and yet they take the time to come together as family to help and bless each other. I feel so, so lucky to have them in my life.

I have two native sisters of my own who I love and adore and the sisters-in-law add a bevy of beautiful, gifted women that make me feel like they all have my back. I know that we had lunch in a gorgeous location with linen napkins and marble floors and I appreciated that beauty. But the joy that welled up inside of me came because of the goodness of these women who I sat and ate with, who I share my life with, who I've spent countless hours with at the family dinner table on Sundays. I've watched them all work and love and pray through good times and bad ones. They are good and fine people and I feel lucky to know them.

Thank you to my sisters, my friends.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Plans

Me at three years old at the town parade that kicked off the weeklong
fair & rodeo festivities. It was the big hurrah of the summer. I still love parades.

I've always been a bit of a late bloomer. I'm just now getting around to my summer plans when it is nearly July. I like things to sit and percolate in my mind a bit before I make some big decisions. I want plenty of time to survey my options. Get the lay of the land. Anticipate the curves ahead. Then finally make a decision. Here is my list for the summer of 2010:

  • Teach my three nephews to cook 10 basic meals
  • Hike to Stewart Falls
  • Hike Rock Canyon
  • Do some gardening (even if all it amounts to is pulling weeds and admiring my dad's garden and praising my sister's garden)
  • Learn how to utilize my CSA share of vegetables
  • Attend 2 family reunions
  • Play in the water
  • Lay on the grass and read books
  • Soak in the sunshine
  • Take a class
  • Finally take some of the n&ns to Golden Spike National Monument
  • Go at least 3 times to Thanksgiving Point Gardens
  • Go to Timpanogos Storytelling Festival
  • Attend a Scera Shell play
  • Go to Hale Center Theater
  • Take a road trip
It's an ambitious list. For the most part, I'm excited if I get to spend 20 minutes outside most days. I want this summer to be different. I want to enjoy every moment presented to me. I want "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life" and for me that tends to mean venturing further than the tidy comfort zone I usually inhabit.

How about you? What are your plans for the summer?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Foodie Weekend

One of my friends came to town this weekend for a conference and we made a three-day affair out of the event. Amy got to attend her conference and Katy and I got to cook for her and all hang out together. These two love to talk about food, plan food and especially enjoy food. They both have some food allergies so it makes it even more fun to cook together because we get to discover food in new ways.

This is the menu from this weekend. Hopefully it sounds as good as it tasted.

Dinner: Penne pasta with a garlic, veggie, ground turkey tomato sauce

Breakfast: Katy's Breakfast Burritos (eggs wrapped in a brown rice tortilla w/ almond mozzarella cheese, avocado and salsa)

Lunch: Hot, fresh gluten-free bread with almond butter and jam

Dinner: Brazilian night (black beans, garlic jasmine rice, kale sauteed in olive oil, lemon and garlic)

Breakfast: Blueberry smoothies and eggs

Lunch [Brown bag while attending the conference): Salmon salad sandwich with avocado mayo, apples & carrots

Snacks: Trail mix, cashews, almonds, blackberries

Dinner: Pad Thai w/ asparagus at Noodles & Co.

Breakfast: Egg and toast

Dinner: Garlic baked salmon with an avocado remoulade sauce, asparagus sauteed in olive oil, garlic & salt, spinach salad with chopped almonds, apples, blackberries with a citrus vinaigrette, zucchini and yellow squash veggie medley and crash hot potatoes


Thanks to several great food bloggers for sharing their excellent recipes. One not featured in this list is Elana at We didn't have time to make her chocolate chip cookies or some of her other great recipes, but I utilize her recipes weekly in my daily cooking. It is such fun to be connected across the Internet to great people who cook well. I had my computer in the kitchen most of the weekend as I was referencing recipes and I realized with the iPad in existence, we are just steps away from having permanent computer screens in our kitchens so we can pull up any recipe in our collection of virtual recipes. Can't you see the iPad installed on the front of your kitchen cabinet so all of your recipes are eye level for you? That will be fun!

As far as pictures of all the food are concerned, I didn't snap a single photo. I think I get so absorbed in the cooking that I entirely forget (or I am too tired) to chronicle the event in photos. I will continue to work on incorporating more photos.

Also, after typing out this menu, I realize we consumed a lot garlic this weekend. I think staples in any kitchen include garlic, salt, lemons and olive oil. Those were used in abundance and they made everything taste yummy!

In addition to all of the good food, I pick up little tips and tricks from friends as we cook and experiment together. From Katy, I learned about the art of compiling her breakfast burritos and the way to warm a brown rice tortilla to perfection. From Amy, I learned about adventure as she experimented with several citrus vinaigrettes inspired by the ingredients available to her. From both, I get a delight in good food shared among friends.

Good friends and good food make for a great time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Cleaning Question

I find that the mood to clean rarely strikes me. Mostly I dream--and I've said this before--that I am the displaced daughter of some extremely wealthy person who is now forced to live a Cinderella existence when I'm truly meant to live a life of pampered indulgence.

Cue your tiny violins.

I was built to recline on a chaise lounge all day and have my every need and want supplied by a dozen adoring servants who coddle me all day long, feed me grapes by hand, fan me delicately, and turn my chair every hour or so to capture the full benefit of the view from my tasteful mansion perched on my gorgeous, private island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.


And then I wake up to my dirty floor, my unfolded laundry and my paper piles. Surprisingly, the one time during the week that the cleaning bug usually hits me is Sunday morning. For some reason that is the day I get deep urges to mop the floor on my hands and knees, to fold laundry, to scrub the tub and to dust the light fixtures. Yet, Saturday morning? No such desire.

Saturday morning I want breakfast in bed and then lunch and finally dinner. On Saturday, my fantasy island dream is at full pitch.

I've tried various techniques to overcome this persistent lack of cleaning desire: I play loud music to encourage me to get up and get moving, I set the timer and convince myself I only have to clean for so long, and I've broken up the cleaning jobs into daily tasks so I don't have to do a major cleaning each weekend. Each of these techniques has met with a limited amount of success but not a permanent change.

So a few Saturdays ago, I decided to recreate Sunday morning at my house and see if I get the cleaning impetus to kick in. I opened all the blinds and I turned on General Conference. You know, listening to spiritual messages and basking in sunlight.

And what do you know? Better than show tunes, better than daily cleaning, better than setting a timer, I was suddenly in the mood to clean.

It has something to do with my brain. This oh-so-big noggin of mine always does it best work when it is distracted by an influx of wisdom and light. For example, in college I would be a disorganized, disheveled mess upon arriving at class some days but once the lecture started and my brain latched on to creative, insightful and meaningful ideas, I suddenly could see clearly. Look at my college notebooks and they are filled with scribbles, journal entries, and list after list after list that made sense and order out of what was once a mish-mash in my brain. It seems that what I crave most when cleaning is not only order and light in my environment but also order and light internally. It seems I can't get one without the other.

P.S. And I also like to write blog posts & journal entries in the middle of my cleaning events. So, back to unloading the dishwasher!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who Am I Becoming?

I'm speaking to the young women in our church (ward) tomorrow night. I've been excited about it for weeks. So much to say. So much to share. There are things I want to reassure them about, things I want to warn them against, things I wish I had known at that critical crux between childhood and adulthood that is the tumultuous teenage years. In some ways, I'm speaking to the girl I was twenty years ago--wanting to go back and firm up her faith in herself, bolster her confidence and tell her to smile in pictures, for pete's sake! I don't know what I was looking so glum about every time a photo was snapped in my teenage years, but please girly, look like unbridled joy wasn't the furthest thing from your mind. Or your face.

Sitting at the guest book table at my cousin Andrea's wedding. I remember that night was fun so I can only assume that my lack of cheerful countenance had something to do with the fact that I despised having my photo taken as I was convinced I was truly the Goodyear blimp and the size of a house. Oh, honey!

In some ways, I still feel firmly entrenched in my teenage years (how about you?). I still wish I was thinner, I have bad hair days, I can't wait until I grow up, and I'm sure fame and fortune are just around the corner.

I think mostly I want to reassure the girls tomorrow night about the decision-making years they have ahead of them. "Don't worry! You will make it," and "This too shall pass," and "Don't give up."

But I feel like a fraud trying to say those things. Mostly because I'm still working to believe them myself. Mostly because I don't want to rosy up the picture so much that I forget to warn them about the bumps and bruises that await them or the rough ride that some of them will endure. Mostly because it is often so easy to say in public what it is so hard to live in private.

And this week the private life just isn't living up to expectations. (Okay, seriously, how often does that happen?) Instead of walking into this talk cool as a cucumber, I will come off a rather harrowing week of finals at school, interviewing and replacing half my student staff at work, and a house that has needed a deep clean for nigh on three weeks now. Also, the fact that I've consumed more chocolate in the past week than I consumed in all of 2009 together puts me on the fast track for either a nervous breakdown or a break into a zen-like nirvana.

What I think I most want to say tomorrow is "Don't fear failure." It is the stuff and messiness of life that forces us to bend, pushes us to grow, and opens our eyes not only to our limitations but also to new possibilities. It is in responding to failure that you will build the successes in your life.

Don't let it sink you, don't let it mire down your hope, your faith or your relationship with God. It is often the easiest thing in the world to abandon Him in the midst of our pain. The harder road is to stay close to Him through the bad times. That is the path that takes greater courage and greater resiliency.

And that is the path the will bring you the joy and peace that "surpasseth all understanding."

And even teach you to smile.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Round Up: March 2010

I've been in a bit of an incubation period lately. So many thoughts have been rolling around in my head for the last several months about health that I almost don't know where to begin.

Suffice it to say that in many ways I've decided to embrace my inner tree hugger. The more I study health and try to solve my own health issues, the more I am pulled deeply into a world of fresh, whole, real foods. The less packaging the better. The more natural the better. I look for local, organic and fresh in my food plans. What excites me about this process right now is that my mom and sister have been experimenting a bit as well and I love the synergy of learning things together and making delicious, yummy food that tastes great and is great for my body. Who knew that health could be so much fun???

I am, once again in my life, on a giant learning curve. I feel enthused and inspired by health one day and overwhelmed and vexed by all the changes the next day. But all in all I can't get enough. I've always been a bit higher on the learning side of things than the doing side so I'm really focusing on doing now and not just learning.

Here are some of the changes I've been incorporating in my life and some readings that have helped me along the way.

1. Buying raw milk: I've never been much of a milk consumer. I think I stopped drinking milk as a teenager and I've never taken up the habit again. I pretty much gave up cereal around that time too. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have purchased a gallon of milk since I moved out on my own in college. I've always used other types of milk: rice milk, soy milk, almond milk and during the last couple of years coconut milk. My pantry is well stocked with almond milk and coconut milk but now I've purchased raw milk a few times in the last several months. Yummy! It makes me think about when we had a milk cow on our little farm in Burley and drinking fresh, creamy milk chilled to perfection. Maybe that's why I've never quite been able to stomach the pasteurized, homogenized variety on store shelves. This fresh-from-the-source milk just tastes so gooood!

2. Bought my first CSA vegetable share from a local farm: I am so excited about this. Lots of veggies, all organic and local and fresh from the vine. Most people agree there is just something different about eating a food fresh from its source--something that hasn't been picked early, wrapped in plastic and transported thousands of miles to hopefully ripen under the yellowish hue of fluorescent lights in your local big-box grocery store.

3. Working on purchasing pastured chicken, pork and beef from another local farmer: This excites me too. To know the source of my food, that I'm supporting my local economy and that I'm feeding my body the best nature has to offer. Animals that have been fed on natural grasses are full of omega 3s and a different kind of fat than the marbley white fat that we are all so used to seeing in our meat. That fat develops because beef are fed a heavy grain diet which allows them to pack on pounds quickly. When you look at grass-fed beef, the meat is not as marbled and the fat is more of a yellow color and much smaller.

4. Read a great blog that was featured on CNN in early March. This blogger had a real foods challenge with her readers for a month where everyone ate only foods that were local, fresh and not packaged. Can you imagine not consuming any packaged food for a month? Not a bit of packaged food at all? It was kind of inspiring to read what they made and how they ate for that month.

I'm working on incorporating more and more real foods in my life. I'm thrilled with some of the great recipes that have been coming into my life because of this research. I hope to be able to share more and more of those over the next few months.

In the meantime, here is one I plan on testing out this week with some great root vegetables, small red potatoes and a whole chicken. It comes from one of my favorite food bloggers, Elise, over at and is titled "Keller's Roast Chicken." Anyone want to try it out with me?

Friday, February 26, 2010

RECIPE: Hummus and Barbecue Onion Wrap

Hello friends! I've missed you. A thousand times a week, I think "I should blog about that" and then it seems time slips out of my hands. And by that, I mean if I'm not at work or school then I'm doing the essentials like sleeping or brushing my teeth.

So, here I am finally blogging about something. A delicious little wrap that I made the other night and loved, loved, loved. It comes from my new favorite cookbook The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook which comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Ali at the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen blog ( Ali and her delicious recipes have helped me expand my food horizons and my nutrient profile. I like her green smoothies (who knew that kale was so delicious first thing in the morning?) and her maple raspberry scones which were my first foray into mixing flours in gluten-free cooking, and her apple crisp which introduced me to the wonders of coconut sugar.

I feel the same way about her cookbook. It has pages and pages of great, nourishing recipes that taste good. When I ran across the wrap below, it sounded so good that my mouth immediately started watering and I knew I had to try it out. Read it with me and see if your mouth goes into paroxysms of delight as well.

RECIPE: Hummus and Barbecue Onion Wrap
from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen Cookbook, p. 350, by Alissa Segersten

Barbecue Onion
2 large red onions
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
2 to 3 Tbsps. organic, gluten-free barbecue sauce

The Wrap
2 brown rice tortillas, warmed (either in microwave for 30 seconds or in a pan)
1/2 cup of hummus
1/2 cup barbecued onion
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 small zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup finely sliced romaine lettuce

1. To make the barbecued onions, remove the skins from the onion, cut in half, and then thinly slice in crescent moons. Heat large stainless steel skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, then add the sliced onions and a pinch of sea salt.

2. Saute the onions for about 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are very soft. Remove for heat and stir in barbecue sauce. Onions can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

3. To assemble the wrap, place the tortilla on to a flat surface or plate. Spread 1/2 of the hummus evenly over one side of the tortilla. Place 1/2 of the barbecued onions, shredded carrot, shredded zucchini, and thinly sliced romaine lettuce into a line in the middle of the wrap.

4. Tightly roll, and then cut in half. Serve immediately or wrap in waxed paper for later use.

I didn't have any romaine lettuce or zucchini on hand so I substituted both for some finely chopped fresh spinach. Also, I used roasted garlic hummus because I wanted some extra zing that I don't find in regular hummus. I found a great barbecue sauce too that was gluten-free and is a new staple in my pantry now. Then I made my first batch and oooohhhhhhh wow! I suddenly knew I had another keeper recipe on my hands.

I took a sample to one of my main taste testers (Meg) and got a thumbs up, so back to the kitchen I went to perfect my technique. In the meantime, I called over a couple of friends and we had a little impromptu dinner party and ate these to our hearts' delight. There is just something about barbecue and onions and wrap that seemed to make all go right in the world that night.

So try these and see if they make you smile too. You might even find yourself in the midst of your own impromptu dinner party.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Little Rearranging

This has been the arrangement of my living room for at least the last year. The table across from the couch, the large yellow chair in the corner by the front door.

I had concluded with my limited space and with other failed rearrangements in the past that this was the best working arrangement for the room. The yellow chair is so big that it tends to swallow the space it is in and the table is petite enough that it fits comfortably on the short wall between the door to my storage room and the unused, locked door to my landlady's storage room (which she accesses from a door in the other part of her basement).

The table was adequate next to the wall especially if I was only feeding one or two or even three people. But when I invited people over for dinner (like our roommate Christmas party above) I had to pull the table out into the center of the room. Which worked fine once every few months although it made it awkward to get around the table and I had to make sure I was always seated closest to the kitchen so I could serve the food.

Then it really started to be a bother me this fall and winter when my weekly Sunday niece/nephew ritual with the littles grew to the number six. With six kiddies running and playing and building blocks and legos, floor space was at a premium. But if I was going to feed them lunch, we had to pull the table out from the wall which reduced the floor space. We tried to eat picnic style in the kitchen but the smallest of the littles have a hard time handling food in bowls and cups of water on the floor, so a table was necessary. So, we would haul the table out, reduce the floor space and squish our traffic patterns around the table. It wasn't practical. The table had to be more accessible for my sanity and our combined enjoyment.

And this is the result. I made the living room area more intimate and cozy by putting the yellow chair directly across from the couch and put the bookcase in the awkward space next to the unused door.

There is now room for the table to be out from the wall and put four chairs around it and when I need to feed six kids I pull out two folding chairs and everyone has room and the table doesn't impede traffic, so the kids can eat lunch comfortably and run around and play without either activity hindering the other.

I even put in the two leaves that I've never used for the table and stretched it out to its full length and what do you know? I can seat a party of eight now if I really, really want to! Anyone want to come for dinner?

That's when my rearranging felt inspired.

I'm still thinking I need that art intervention though. The bare walls could use some love.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The New Year Can Now Begin

Everybody miss me?

I missed you too!

I've been a bit buried for the last six days, six weeks and six months. My stress level has been about mach 10 for most of that time and I kind of threw down this week and had a bit of a wallow in the woe-is-me pit of despair. And now I've tidied up from that, finished the last grad school application and I'm suddenly grasping around wondering what is next other than the hurry-up-and-wait stretch that continues from now until the spring. I'm hoping to get back to blogging a bit more now. In the meantime, here are some selections from all those grad school applications I've been pouring over.

During the last several years, I have had a number of experiences that have inspired me to pursue graduate studies in marriage and family therapy. I now realize that these experiences were building on strengths and abilities that I have always possessed, but that I have not been able to fully act upon in the various employment paths I have taken.
For the last eight years, I’ve worked full-time as a web editor for an academic journal. I was originally hired as a writer for this position and it developed into an editorial position. I have always loved writing and I use it as a creative outlet, so during this work experience I seriously contemplated pursuing graduate work in writing. Yet, I couldn’t seem to settle into it as a profession. I kept feeling like there was more I was supposed to do. In part, this was due to the fact that I have always been fascinated by relationships, people and teasing apart the layers and complexities that make us human. I’ve also had a nearly insatiable desire to listen to others’ stories, their truths, their heartaches and their realities.
A turning point came three years ago after fighting a lifelong battle with my own weight, I took a health class at the university taught by Dr. Steven Hawks that focused on eating disorders, intuitive eating as a counter approach to these disorders and the psychology of the eating disorder spectrum that affects so many women in the United States. I knew after that class that I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with women and girls countering and confronting the dark lies that permeate too many women’s minds in our country. This is where my interest in family therapy grew. I am fascinated by the role that relationships play in contributing to an individual’s health and well-being and particularly the family influence on the development and treatment of these disorders.

That is just a taste of where I'm going next. I'm excited for all the fun to get underway. Hopefully they are ready for me.


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