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The Hard & The Holy

“Please hear me, Girl: The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things.”
– Ann Voskamp

Well–I love this quote.

Life right now is full of lessons (nothing out of the ordinary there, I suppose), but they all seem to be centered around the idea and–more challenging–the act of sacrifice.

It’s not particularly fun, but it’s the uphill climb to get to the summit. And I know my sacrifices are small in comparison to much of the world, but it’s still my journey uniquely, and right now I’m tired because it’s hard.

I try to remind myself as I make final preparations to leave one life season and style for another, that once I’m there, I’ll be able to appreciate and value it that much more–knowing the cost it took to get there.

Because I want to be a woman who knows more than how to do my hair.

So I’m embracing the sacrifice and discovering the increasing springs of strength to grow in my journey through the hard and holy things God has called me to do.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.”
-Psalm 84:5-7 ESV

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Monthly Review

Ten Month Review

Life is full of countdowns right now, so even counting the total months I’ve been doing this project feels like a conclusion. 

How do you feel about the project? 

Ten months would feel like more of an accomplishment if I were on track with everything I originally set out to do. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to just let it go!

What have you learned? 

Hmm. It’s funny how as the project has progressed, learning has gradually become more abstract.

I’ve been currently learning about how to live, and love, and give of myself, and end things well. People keep asking me what are the one or two things I really want to do before leaving Michigan. And really the only thing that comes to mind is finishing well–in work and in relationships. And, well, I wanted to go salsa dancing at least once more, but I’ve just gotten that one out of the way this past weekend. It was wonderful.

What do you like?

I like being unconventional and doing things that many other people only dream about. Not because I don’t want others to have great experiences and accomplish their dreams, but because it feels like confirmation that I’m living fully and chasing after opportunities and won’t regret it.

What do you not like?

Being unconventional is scary. Doing “an alternative graduate school experience” is all alternative and hipster and cool until it involves quitting your job, selling all your things, cutting ties, etc. Granted–those are mostly voluntary choices–but still. There are times I think I’ve completely lost my mind and will never be “successful” because of the choices I’m making right now. But then I just tell that voice to be quiet and go away because it’s not telling me the truth.

What are you looking forward to? 

I’m really looking forward to the experiences and learning I’ll have on the road, particularly in meeting new people. (I can’t believe I’m even saying that–I’m so not a people person.)

I’m investigating some volunteer opportunities for while I’m traveling, and I’m very hopeful that some of them will work out. It’s bizarre to think of not working, but I’m very excited about the thought of being able to give my time and energy to the things that are important. (Not that I don’t think my jobs are, as well.)

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Food and Cooking, Photography

Foto Friday No. 7

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This might be the last “Foto Friday” since I need to keep trucking along if I want to get any closer to my finish line of accomplishments for this project. I think I’ve learned a lot about food photography, forced myself to be more thoughtful in taking pictures and setting up a shot, and I definitely have much greater respect for the amount of work it is!!

Today’s photos are of  kale salad with carrot-sesame dressing. I found this recipe for sesame carrot noodles from the blog “Clean Wellness” and whipped up a batch of just the dressing last week. I was planning to actually follow the whole recipe, but ended up tossing the dressing with a big bunch of kale, and it was delish. Like, I-ate-it-for-every-lunch-all-week-delicious. Granted–I have an unusual capacity for eating the same thing over and over without getting sick of it, but I’m already dreaming of a way to modify the recipe into a carrot sesame soup so I can justify (essentially) just eating the dressing for a meal.

Anyways–the point is–this dressing was amazing. You should definitely consider giving it a try.

I’ve also been on a bit of a coconut kick lately (helloooo, coconut butter!) so I thought, what could be better than adding some coconut into the dressing? I gave it a try today, and here you have it: my own modified, carrot-sesame dressing for a kale salad.

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Kale Salad with Carrot-Sesame Dressing

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale (washed, thinly sliced, and massaged)

2-3 carrots (washed and/or peeled and sliced)

scant 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 tbsp. sesame seeds (or tahini, which I probably what I would have used if I wasn’t out)

2 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. fresh ginger (tip: keep ginger root in the freezer, and just cut off as needed for recipes)

1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tbsp. water

1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes

1 tbsp. maple syrup

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Steps

1. Put all ingredients except for kale into a blender, and blend until smooth.

2. Toss dressing with kale.

3. Enjoy. : ) It’s that simple!

The dressing will make about 1 1/2 cups. Depending on how much dressing you like and how large your bunch of kale is, you might have leftover dressing. Not that anyone’s complaining about that. : )

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Uncategorized

I Quit!

areyoulivingyourdream

The past weeks have been full of so much that I won’t try to recap for the blog; I’ll just pick up with where the journey has brought me thus far. (Also, be on the lookout for my 10, TEN, month review at the start of July next week.)

When I decided last fall to embark on this journey, I didn’t have much foresight into what it would hold. I did expect to be able to accomplish all the “assignments” which I now realize was a tad overambitious. I knew I was definitely interested in traveling around the world, but honestly, that part of it didn’t feel so real. I told a select number of people about the plan, and I talked about it with confidence, mostly trying to convince myself that it would really happen. As time progressed, I think I’ve had every emotion under the sun about the trip.

And now, just yesterday, I gave my workplace my resignation notice so I guess it’s official!

I’m really not sure what else to say about that.

I’ve had so many different emotions about resigning and leaving Michigan over the past year, and it’s completely surreal that it’s happening now. It feels empowering to embark on this trip, but it also feels overwhelming and all consuming, like I’ve just plunged myself into the waves of the unknown and now I’m not really sure which way is up. I know I’ve made plenty of other decisions that have changed the course of my life, but this decision just felt so final. At one moment I had complete control, and the next I felt so … exposed. I certainly wasn’t expecting was to feel so emotionally raw and spent after resigning.

But it’s absolutely and completely wonderful, too. I’M LIVING MY DREAM!!!!

!!!

Can’t believe it.

In the coming weeks, I’m really going to try to get back to blogging. Now that the end is so near, I have a renewed energy to push myself to the finish line, and I hope to accomplish a decent amount of things that are still on my list for this project. I’ll also have a lot of tips and info I’ll share about round the world travel, as I’ve learned so much over this past year about that. I’m also considering keeping the blog alive as I travel, but it’s been so touch and go over these past few months I’m not sure if I will be able to blog consistently once the project is actually over.

In any case. In conclusion, this quote has been reassuring to me as I commit and begin. Go begin something today! And let me know about it in the comments, if you please. 🙂

GoethesFaust

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Food and Cooking, Photography

Foto Friday No. 6

Experimenting with low key food photos here. It was an impromptu project inspired by how beautiful the roasted golden beets looked as I chopped them.

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Work has gotten significantly more manageable in the past week, as the project to which I’ve devoted countless hours over the past year finally launched last Sunday. So I’m planning to be a bit more faithful to this blog now…

But without further ado, a veggie-packed wheat berry salad. This salad would make a great side dish with anything grilled (summer cookouts, anyone?) or as a lighter meal option with some crunchy  veggies on the side. I mainly followed this recipe from the Kitchn, with a few minor changes:

1. Subbed wheat berries for the barley.

2. Used kale instead of chard. I didn’t cook the kale, just mixed it in with the wheat berries while they were still hot. I find that if you shred kale thin enough and mix it with an acidic dressing (like the lemon juice in this salad) you can often get away without massaging or cooking it.

3. Added all the lemon juice straight to the mixed up veggies and wheat berries, and only added 1 tbsp. of olive oil (also directly to the salad).

4. I soaked a handful of dried cranberries in white wine vinegar, then added that whole mix to the salad. The extra acidity helps brighten the whole salad, and the sweetness from the cranberries is spot on with the beets and wheat berries.

5. This isn’t entirely relevant, but I used a French feta cheese, which tasted (to me) a lot less salty than the Greek kind I normally buy. So I salted very generously.

Overall, this salad is super delicious. It tasted great at room temp, and I’m sure it will make tasty cold lunches this week, too. You could easily omit the feta (or use a vegan cheese substitute) for a vegan salad option, or use brown rice or another gluten-free alternative to make it gluten-free.

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Food and Cooking, Photography, Uncategorized

Foto Friday No. 5

I’ll keep it simple here. Mainly because I’m already feeling like it’s time to climb into bed, but also because that’s what this soup is.

I had come home from the grocery store today planning on making up in advance some smoothies and kale salads to fuel the crazy week ahead. (To avoid a repeat of this past week, when I mostly ate cookies, apples, and cereal.) But I was in a mood where I just wanted to use up all the old food in the fridge, so I decided to tackle the crisper drawer-full of random CSA root veggies which we’ve been avoiding. Things like celeriac and rutabaga. Seriously. What do you do with these things??

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I, for one, whipped up this soup. I’ve put a recipe below, but t’s really more of  a guideline. I’m sure you could sub in parsnips or potatoes, or maybe even turnips for the rutabaga. Herbs are optional and customizable, and I’m definitely not one to be particular about apple varieties.

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This soup is slightly sweet, creamy and hearty, but not heavy. It’s simple, good, real food–completely unassuming. It’s pictured below with Wasa crackers, but some fresh bread would have been delicious.

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Celeriac, Rutabaga, and Apple Soup

makes approx. 4 servings

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 celeriac

4 rutabagas

2 apples

4 cups of vegetable stock

1/2 tsp. dried Italian herbs

salt & pepper to taste

parsley for garnish, optional

Directions:

1. Heat a stock pot with a few glugs of  olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, and sauté until golden. Add minced garlic, and stir in with onion for about 30 seconds. Make sure to not overcook at this point, or the garlic will burn which really ruins an entire dish. I speak from multiple experiences.

2. Add diced celeriac, apples, and rutabagas to the onions and garlic. Pour in vegetable stock, and add herbs and salt and pepper. Stir it all together, and cover the pot.

3. Let the soup boil for about 20 minutes, or until your veggies are cooked through. You should be able to pierce them easily with a fork, but they shouldn’t be falling apart to mush.

4. Blend the soup either in a blender, or use an immersion blender if you have one. I reserved some of the veggies before blending, so I could add them on top of the pureed soup when serving. I like to have a little texture, and if you’re serving to other people, it’s always nice to know what you’re eating. 🙂 If however, you like to keep it as simple as possible, just blend away with everything all together. Taste it at this point, and add salt and pepper as needed.

5. Optional extras: I garnished with a  little parsley and cracked black pepper, but since the soup’s flavors are rather delicate, the parsley definitely stood out. If you’re not crazy about the flavor of parsley, you can sub another herb or omit altogether. If you’re not trying to keep the soup vegan, a swirl of cream or sprinkling of cheese would probably be great for finishing it off, too.

And there you have it. Super easy. Dicing up the veggies and apples will probably be the most time consuming part of the recipe, but even that goes pretty quick. Let me know if you give the soup a try!

 

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Uncategorized

In the closet

I have friends who self identify as artists. They use the term often and freely–in conversation, in their Instagram names, on their websites where they describe themselves as artists and creatives and all sorts of other deep things disguised amongst the buzzwords.

I, however, have had a long journey to self identifying as an artist, and even now, I would prefer not to use that term. I’m not a reallll artist like them. I would never put it out there so publicly.

I’m sort of a closet artist. I just try to live as creatively as I can each day. And some days that means I give an artful swirl to my peanut butter on toast or I pause for a few seconds to revel in the beauty of the steam lifting off my freshly poured coffee or the way the sun feels just so–which after a record breaking michigan winter (in both length and severity) is certainly something deserving of reveling.

But obviously I hope for the other days too, where I am more like the “real” artists. I love finding this new way of art and creativity in every minute thing because it has given me the freedom to embrace an identity as an artist– one I never thought I needed, but somehow sort of came to find me and camp out like a stray dog refusing to leave until I patted it on the head and said fine, you can stay. You can be mine. I will be an artist.

And secondly, it’s a lot less scary to be an every-moment artist. For your craft to be all those little hidden secret things, and occasionally bigger public things, but only when you feel really good about it. It takes away all the risk and vulnerability.

But maybe it takes away some of the honesty too. And so–I’m working on continuing the baby steps towards leaving my secret artist closet and fulling embracing what it could be to be “real artist”.

One of the books I’m reading right now is “Art and Fear”, and it’s been very helpful in this path of learning so far. Hopefully I can finish it soon and get some notes and quotes up from it.

AND I’ve got something special planned for Foto Friday this week. It should actually even happen on Friday. Woohoo!

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