Creamy Tortellini Soup and Sausage

So I made this meal on a whim. I had some of the ingredients for a Creamy Tortellini Soup with Sausage and improvised on the rest. I thought it was okay, but my husband said the soup made the list of his top 5 soups. Apparently (for him) thicker, creamier, meatier is the way to go for soups. I personally like healthier, broth-based soups, but also like to keep my man satisfied 😉 Details on the soup below. Thanks for reading.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1/2 to 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • To taste salt
  • To taste ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose or coconut/almond flour
  • 3 cups (24 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 1 package (9 oz.) gluten free or regular cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • a pinch of brown sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • To taste: oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes, cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot for 2 minutes over medium high heat until the oil sizzles. Add sausage and stir to cook for 5-7 minutes until browned. Break the sausages into small pieces using a spatula.
  2. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender. Stir well to combine and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in flour until well combined, about 1 minute. Then, pour in tomato sauce and add the diced green pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and stir well to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Turn to low heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini and cook until tender, about 8-10 mins according to package directions. Stir occasionally to cook evenly.
  5. Add heavy cream and stir well to mix. Make sure the heat is on low and stir well to achieve a smooth creamy consistency. You should notice the soup turn into a creamy orange color after adding heavy cream. Add in spinach. Cook for 1 minute until soft.
  6. Garnish with a fresh parsley or if you’re like my husband, you can garnish with more cheese!

Hope you enjoy this as much as my husband did!

Lobster Bisque

I do not really enjoy seafood soups, but my husband does, so I read half a dozen different recipes (with reviews) and combined the best of all the recipes. The soup turned out great, and I would make it again. Update: I did make this soup again for my mother-in-law and husband. The second time around was much better, so I added the updates in bold. They both agreed that this soup is not a Lobster Bisque, but it is very good.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp butter or ‘other’ fat
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 c. mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to aste
  • *Paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, and/or cayenne to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 c. Chicken broth, seafood or fish stock
  • 1 1/4 c. dry white wine and/or Sherry * 3/4 C. dry white wine and 3/4 C. Sherry
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme *or Rosemary
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 lb. cooked lobster meat, chopped *Leave bigger chunks of meat
  • Chopped chives, for garnish
  • *Chopped bacon bits, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, heat butter or other fat. (I fried 4-5 pieces of bacon to use as a topping with the chives, so I cooked my vegetables in the bacon grease.) Add onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, crushed red pepper, and/or Cayenne.
  2. Stir in garlic and tomato paste. Cook until garlic is fragrant and tomato paste coats vegetables, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in your preferred ‘base.’ (Given I do not like seafood soups, I used 4 cups of chicken broth. My husband definitely would have like a more ‘fishy’ flavor, so in his case, a seafood stock would be better.) Pour in your stock and wine, then stir in bay leaf and thyme. Reduce heat and let simmer until liquid is reduced and flavors meld, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. (To note: I read many different reviews that said you can omit the alcohol or use a dry white wine (Pino Grigio) and sherry. I heard sherry was a good call. I read different reviews about seasonings, but I say make it to taste. I added fresh rosemary and basil and used a lot of paprika because I like heat!)
  4. Remove bay leaf and thyme or rosemary sprigs and purée until very smooth. Return to medium-low heat and stir in heavy cream and lobster meat, cooking just until warm, about 5 minutes.
  5. Garnish with chives and bacon before serving. A garnish with chives and bacon crumbles was delicious! We also made some french bread to dip into the soup. It was SO tasty, a nice fall dish!

Important note: I did not have an issue with the soup being runny. Mine was actually very thick so I added more heavy cream into it. However, if your soup (for some reason) is runny, you can add corn starch, flour, or more tomato paste to thicken.

Crisp Peach Cobbler

This fall in Nevada has been awesome for fresh, organic fruit. My friend gave me a ton of apples. After making a bunch of crisps, I tried a sauce and butter. They were both fantastic. Then I was offered a bunch of super ripe peaches. I thought about doing a salsa for fish tacos, but opted for a Crisp Peach Cobbler (that was to die for)! I followed aspects of this video, but I changed it up a bit.

Ingredients

  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sugar (Reserve 1/4 for later)
  • 1 Cup Flour + 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Oats
  • 2/3 Cup Milk
  • 12 fresh peaches

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Cut the peaches into 1/8 or 1/4 slices. I’m sure you can use canned peaches and it would be fine. I did not peel the peaches because I’m lazy and it didn’t seem to affect the taste or texture. Add the sliced peaches to a baking dish; use a size that fits the amount of peaches you have.
  • Zest one lemon over the peaches; then juice the lemon and pour over the peaches and stir them about. I was nervous about adding a full lemon, but it seemed fine.
  • In a large bowl make a sugar and butter ‘paste.’ At this point you may want to check out the link to the video above. He does a great job demonstrating what the next steps look like. He uses more sugar, but I though the peaches would be sweet enough and more is used for the topping.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, salt, oats, and milk to the paste and stir.
    • To note: I used regular flour. I prefer to use coconut or almond flour, but I had recently made fish tacos and tried to make a beer batter with coconut flour and the texture did not come out right, so I really wanted the taste and texture to be perfect for Game Day! I also used Gluten Free Rolled oats and Coconut Milk in a can because I needed to use it up. Also, you can always make more topping if it doesn’t cover all of the peaches. I always double the topping recipe for apple crisp because that’s the best part!
  • After the topping is mixed, spread it over the peaches.
  • Add 1/4 of sugar over the top of the spread and spray with cold water
    • This last step is kind of weird. Again, I would recommend watching the video because it’s atypical, but it’s really what makes the crust crisp.
  • Bake for 45 minutes and enjoy!

I think this recipe could also benefit from a few spices. Not many, but next time I would try adding allspice, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, mint, basil, or even ginger.

My husband enjoyed this with Vanilla Bean ice cream. I used a plain Coconut Milk yogurt and really enjoyed.

Apple Butter

My friend gave me a TON of apples. I made a HUGE batch of apple crisp that was quickly devoured, and I still had over a dozen apples left. I considered apple pie, applesauce, some type of cobbler, but settled on apple butter. I used to love apple butter as a child. Every fall it seemed to resurface – a seasonal treat! I’d not made it before so I looked up a lot of recipes – all pretty much the same – but here’s what I did and here is what I would do different.

  • Peel and slice 12 apples
  • Place in a crockpot
  • Add: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, all spice, and a dash of nutmeg and stir all the apples/spices together
  • Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring every couple hours
  • When it cools, add vanilla extract and stir about
  • (optional) Puree apples to get a smooth consistency
  • Add any additional seasonings that may be needed to appease your taste buds

So that is what I did, but here is what I wish I had done:

  • Added more seasonings on the front end.

I did not want the apple butter to be over-seasoned. Too much spice creates a ‘gluey’ feeling in your mouth, but I don’t think that was as much a concern as I thought it was going to be.

  • Not pureed

My favorite texture is crunchy. So having an entirely smooth apple butter was nice, but I would not have minded a couple (small) apple chunks here and there.

  • Added a bit of applesauce or apple juice as necessary

I was intending to cook the apples for 10 hours on low, but I could tell the moisture was getting zapped from the apples, so I only did 8 hours. I thought about adding water, but decided not to. I think adding apple juice as necessary would have given it a good flavor.

  • Played around with different flavors

Most recipes used more sugar than what I added, but I am not a huge sweets fan, so I did more spices. I don’t think the vanilla added anything. Probably could have excluded that, and I wondered if adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar would’ve given the flavor a little something extra? Not sure, but will try it next time!

I used 12 tart apples, but I think it would have been better to use a variety of different apples, tart and sweet. Tart is what I had in abundance to use up, so I did.

With 12 apples, I made two 8 or 12 oz glass jars. I froze one. I hear you can freeze up to 6 months, and we are making our way through the other jar. Regardless of amendments for the next round, the apple butter was still delicious and a great seasonal treat!

Bomb A$$ Nachos

The Twins home-opener was last week. With the absence of sports due to COVID, we were pretty excited to watch a baseball game. Feeling pumped for the game, we wanted to create the ‘baseball stadium feel’ at home with some tasty nachos and cold beer! We have made nachos in the past that were ‘okay,’ but we wanted some LEGIT nachos. So I went on the hunt to find the ‘best’ nacho recipes. In looking up different recipes, I found a handful of ‘tips and tricks’ that really brought our nachos to the next level. Tips and tricks, such as:

  • Don’t use shredded cheese. Shredded cheese has an anti-caking material on it and does not give your nachos ‘optimal melt.’
  • The best cheeses to use are: Pepper Jack, Monterey, and Cotija.
  • Use a firm chip
  • Use shredded lettuce
  • Use refried beans
  • Don’t bake the ‘cool’ ingredients like shredded lettuce, guac, peppers, etc.,

The last two were a tough one for us. We usually ‘nuke’ the jalapenos and peppers, but we decided not to, and it worked! Not cooking the vegetables gave the nachos a nice, fresh taste and crunch. Refried beans. Yikes – what else can I say?! They look untrustworthy. Usually I use canned black and/or kidney beans, but I gave the refried guys a try — well worth it!

So here are the ingredients we used.

Ingredients

  • Firm chips
  • 1 lbs carne asada
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 batch of guacamole
  • 1 batch of Pico de gallo
  • 1 tub of sour cream
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 purple onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 pepper
  • Tostitos Queso Blanco Cheese
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce

Process

First step is first: season the meat. The morning of, I marinated the carne asada with 3 limes and the following seasonings: garlic, salt, pepper, Cajun, red pepper flakes, and paprika. I slice and juice the limes and pour the juice over the meat (this helps ‘tenderize’ the meat). Then I rub on all of the seasonings and allow it to sit all day.

Second step is food prep: shred the cheese, chop the cilantro, chop or dice the pepper and jalapeno. In a small pan, heat the refried beans in a pot and add water as applicable to make the beans edible and not as disgusting looking.

Next step is to spread chips out on a baking sheet, ensuring the chips are in a single layer so EVERY chip gets some nacho-topping love! Pour on the refried beans, add the shredded cheese, and put in the oven to bake at 350 degrees. It does not take long for cheese to melt. So while the cheese is melting, we grilled the carne asada – as both only need about 5 minutes. Cut the meat.

Last step, add the toppings! Add the meat to the chips, beans, and cheese. Then scoop up all the ‘cold’ ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the chips. We put the guac, pico, sour cream, and queso blanco cheese on last in big globs.

It was delicious with great flavors and textures, a good blend of healthy and unhealthy ingredients. You can add more or less of any ingredient you like/dislike. Make it your own!

The Long Road of Healing

This morning I found myself strolling down Memory Lane, a memory that scares me, a memory I wish I could bury forever and never recall.

The memory used to cripple me. It would rise up from the deep, dark hole I shoved it down and arouse intense emotions, leaving me in a tail spin as I fought to distance myself from it, as I fought to justify and make sense of what happened.

I have done a lot of work to grow and heal from this memory, and I do not remember what triggered it. I just know that I was beyond the initial question of figuring out if I wanted to deal with the memory or shove it back down. That ship had SAILED. I was already in the memory, in the place of ‘fighting to justify’ what happened. I was trying to make sense of it all and could feel ALL the emotions rising up: Anger, indignation, hate, confusion, sadness, physical pain, guilt, remorse, and so many more feelings that words cannot explain.

The fear of being drowned by overwhelming emotions sent up a (mental) RED FLAG.

I paused — unsure what would come next. Then a voice asked: “Are you still a victim or are you a victor?” Carrying on that thought, I wondered: At what point do you ‘change’ from victim to victor? Truthfully, I don’t know. There were years where I was always the victim and it wasn’t going to change, but at some point, something was changing or had changed in me. I did not want to be a victim anymore. I did not want to be burdened and weighed down any longer. I wanted to be the victor — whatever that meant.

I thought about which direction I was going to head down, which title I was going to claim: Victim or Victor; Broken or Beautiful; Damaged or Whole; Hurt or Healed; Volatile or Stable; Incapable or Capable; Begrudging or Forgiven.

It took nearly nine years to get to this place, but I chose: Victor, Beautiful, Whole, Healed, Stable, Forgiven, and able to Forgive.

In that moment I THANKED God for forgiving me and giving me the ability to forgive all who have wronged me. I thanked God for the healing work of His Spirit and the GIFT of faith to believe in the healing. I think I was healed for a lot longer than I knew — I just didn’t claim healing. It wasn’t the time then, but it is the time now.

Later that day, I gave thanks again…..so very grateful to ALL the people who helped me heal, process and overcome. Grateful for God’s strength rising up to ask which direction I was going to take and which title I was going to claim, and I was proud of myself. We have to give ourselves praise for big and little victories accomplished. So I gave praise where praise was due. Later that day I wondered ‘Why the HECK did it take nine years to get here!?’

I am sure there are more researched answers than mine, but here are my thoughts as to why it is hard to overcome ‘victim mentality.’

  • Claiming victory over wounds ‘diminishes’ the wound.

While this does not make sense, it does. There was a very bad, maybe even traumatic, terrible, and negative thing done to you. You wrestle with this. You battle this for a long time. It becomes part of you. Let’s be honest, it IS part of you. The moment ‘that thing’ happened, it became part of you and your story. It shapes who you are and who you’ll become. It is yours. Yours to claim. Yours to carry. Yours to work through. Yours. It’s almost like moving on diminishes that. Moving on ‘takes away’ the pain of what happened, and you ‘earned’ that pain. You would not choose it. You don’t want it. You’re not going to wave it around like a trophy, but it happened to you. It’s real. It’s hard. It’s yours.

While moving on does take away the pain of the wound, it does not take away what happened. Nor will it ever. What happened was real, and it should not have happened. What you went through will never be undone or diminished by moving on. What happened to you was SO wrong and painful and heavy. Moving on does not say what happened was okay or what happened didn’t happen or what happened ‘wasn’t that bad’. Moving on acknowledges the hurt happened. It was bad and it was wrong, BUT you are no longer tossed to and fro because of it. You are no longer going to let the perpetrator (or wrongdoing) have influence over your thoughts, mind, body, heart, emotions, or life. Moving on says what happened was real, but you’re more than that. You’re better than that. You’re ready. You’re able. You’re a victor – not a victim. You’re beautiful – not broken. You’re worth more and worthy. You are NOT damaged goods. You are whole, healed and healing. You are your own, beautiful person. Claiming victory over the wound does not and will never diminish what happened to you.

For me, another scary thing about moving on is:

  • Fearing the unknown of it

How do you move on? What does it look like? For so long you have been defined by what happened to you. So who are you now? What does life look like when this ‘thing’ does not control you?

We all fear the unknown, and the questions are real: Can I still talk about what happened? Is it part of my story? If it surfaces or I am triggered by it, does it mean that I haven’t moved on? Does it mean I am not healed? What if I thought I forgave but I find myself angry and upset again? What if I have to continue to work through after I think I have moved on?

The answer is Yes! You can move on slowly, one day at a time. Your life does not have to look like anything in particular. It looks like what it needs to look like. When you are not controlled by this anymore, you can allow healthier thoughts and hobbies and reactions into your life. You can still talk about what happened. Talking about what happened does not mean you have not worked through it – it means you have strength to share your story. It means you have the ability to help and encourage others with the same thing they’re working through. It will always be part of your story, but you can say when and how you share it. You write the narrative! It means you are healed, but there still may be triggers to work through, and that is okay.

Healing and forgiveness is a lifelong process. There is not that ‘one moment’ when you realize ‘you’re all better’ and that’s it. It is day-by-day, choosing healing, choosing forgiveness, choosing which path to take. I wish it was a one-and-done: You forgive. You heal. You move on. For some reason it does not work like that. What happened to us lives in our bodies and our memories, which is why certain smells, songs, movies, people, places, etc., can trigger what happened. Being triggered does NOT mean you have not healed. It means you’re real and what happened was real, but again, you now have the ability to acknowledge the trigger and say ‘You don’t control me,’ or say whatever you want! “Sorry guilt, nobody is here today but righteousness.” “Sorry memory, I acknowledge your presence, but I am not going to think about you today.”

You do not want to repress memories or feelings. You do not want to deny them when they surface. You want to take a moment, acknowledge, determine if it is something that you need to work through, like another layer of healing that needs to take place, and if that is the case, you should address and work through. But if it is not another layer of forgiveness and healing… if it is not something that needs to be addressed, then tell that thing you’re in the driver’s seat and it can ride in the trunk!

Thanks for reading about my journey. If you have any questions or encouraging stories, please hit me up in the Contact Page. As well, I strongly believe that seeking professional help is not weak. It is never wrong, and it is always worth the money. There are a many other ways to cope and heal aside from professional help – techniques (below) are some ways that helped me work through hurt:

  • Journaling my thoughts
  • Writing a letter to the person and sending OR not sending
  • Sharing my story with ‘safe’ people
  • Sharing my story in a larger group (as applicable)
  • Sharing my story in any medium (songs, journals, blogs, books, etc.,) that are meaningful to me
  • Counseling (Christian-based or not, Trauma counseling, Inner healing ministry)
  • Seeking prayer
  • Praying
  • Yoga, prayer walks, physical activity that allows me to reconnect to my body/thoughts
  • Reading the stories of others
  • Reading books about the topic or healing from the topic
  • Support groups
  • Time and a lot of effort!

Morning Thoughts: The Hurt and the Healing

Thunder crashes in the background as I sip my morning tea. The first rays of sunlight drift warmly in through the windows as the puppy curls into a ball for his post wake-up nap.

Is there a storm in Reno today? Not at all. Thank you modern technology and Google Home for bringing thunder storm sounds to this sunny and 60 degree day!

No doubt I am bored in quarantine, and even though it is a Saturday, my husband had to work; so I sit here alone. With my thoughts. A place many of us do not want to be.

I tried to open my Bible and read its pages with hopes of getting an encouraging word to start my day, a regular morning habit (and the best habit I have formed in the last 10 years).

I opened my Bible pages and read the context of 1 Peter.

“Everyone needs grace to overcome life’s hurdles,” the author starts with. I thought, ‘yea, that’s a good thought.’ “For some it is a difficult marriage, or the frustration of children, or people’s own limitations and hardships….”

I started to lose focus, so I skipped to Peter’s chapters. (I like Peter. He seems as bold and dumb and crass as I can be. You know, the imperfect person you can relate to and grab a beer with. I think he matured some where along his faith journey…. I am still waiting to get there;)

I had read through 1 Peter chapter 1 and was about to flip the page when I realized I did not recall a single thing I just read. I was reading but thinking about something else. (I heard in my work call this week that thunder in the background promotes focus. Next time I’ll have to try crickets or something.)

What had I been thinking about? I knew what I was thinking about, but why?

I was thinking about a ‘hurt.’ How had I started thinking about this hurt? It seemed very irrelevant to the “Living Hope” Peter wrote about.

In that moment I paused and wondered which path to pursue: I could process this hurt and find resolution OR skip over it and let it resurface at a later date. Against better judgment, I decided to process. Here we go:

This hurt is not ‘my’ hurt. No. I was not wronged ‘firsthand.’ A family member, someone I love, was wronged. I was hurt for him.

So instead of reading Peter, I was contemplating what I am going to do the next time I see the people who hurt my loved one. I’m thinking, “I can avoid them! That will be good. Nobody likes getting the cold shoulder.” OR “I can say I don’t want to get close because I might be an asymptomatic carrier.” Yea, yea, that’s good. Believable. OR “I can say something to them… we can clear the air, but it really is not my ‘hurt’ to clear the air with.”

At this point I am rooting for the ‘cold shoulder’ technique. You know: avoid the people and avoid the emotion of the situation. Avoid. Escape. Ignore. Block out. Put up walls, etc., The cold shoulder — oldest trick in the books. It’s a classic! Super easy. Super effective!

Then that sneaky little voice said, “Is that going to work?” WHAT? Don’t GOAD me! PSSSH. Get otta here. Of course it will work…. have you not been paying attention to ‘the plan.’ Apparently not. Apparently ‘Sneaky Voice’ was still reading 1 Peter while I was sculpting my master plan.

Sneaky Voice felt bothered, maybe sad; I could tell, so I wanted to check in with him/her and acknowledge where he/she is coming from.

Sneaky Voice: When you give the cold shoulder, not only do you ‘ice out’ your family, but you freeze and harden a piece of yourself as well. Blocking out, avoiding, and not forgiving hurts you as much – IF NOT MORE – than hurting the intended victim. I want better for you. You deserve more than that kind of pain and hurt in your life. Extending grace is not fair, but it’s loving. It’s what I chose to do for you. Will you choose to do it (for Me) as well?

Me: Yea, but what can I do? I am hurt by the situation. I would like to have a conversation with all parties involved, process and move on, but that isn’t an option. So how do I work through this solo with no apologies, clarification, or understanding of both sides? Do I just give grace, forgive, forget, and move on? That seems unfair, but the alternative is holding onto this bitterness, this hurt, this poisonous stick until I decide enough is enough, and I let go.

It seemed clear to me which option was optimal. Although I did not and do not believe grace is fair. Letting the ‘wrongdoer’ off the hook is not fair. There is something that feels so WRONG about grace and forgiveness, but I must admit, I do love being on the receiving end of grace. It’s just hard to be on the giving end of it.

Walking around with a chip on my should because someone else is choosing to be unkind or unloving or apathetic does not sound appealing. Why I should I let the decisions/choices of others to negatively affect me? I am not going to choose that. I am going to choose grace. I am going to choose love. I am going to choose to forgive, forget, move on, and when I see them next, I will love on them as much as I can.

The only regret I have now is: motive. Yea.

I wish my ‘motive’ to forgive was selfless, but it is not. My motive to forgive is ‘how it will affect me.’ I am the one at stake here.

I hope Sneaky Voice will grow my heart so my motive to forgive is because it is what is BEST for the other person. I am forgiven much, and I hope I can quickly extend the ‘unmerited’ grace I have been given.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 reads like this:

Love Is the Greatest

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance

Of this verse, I love verse 5 and 6:

  • Keeping no record of wrong is next level! It is one hurdle to forgive, and a next level hurdle to not bring up the wrong to that person. (My husband and I could both grow in this a bit if I’m honest. You likely could too if you’re honest!)
  • Love rejoices with the truth. The truth is: everyday is a new day with fresh grace and new mercies, a day to start over and believe the best of each person.

Thanks for reading. If you have anything to share, process, or contribute, message me on the Contact Page. God bless.

The Decision To Do Foster

Growing up there were two girls in my class of 100 who were adopted (that I knew of). Nobody in my immediate family did foster care or discussed foster/adoption. So it was never on my radar — nor the radar of my husband.

About three years ago I started volunteering with ‘high-risk’ (female) teenagers. One teen was 17 and had a baby. I was unsure if she would be able to keep this baby as her life was pretty chaotic. Then I heard of a ‘mentor’ who got licensed to do foster care to help these teens out.

I thought that was a novel and selfless idea, and the gears started turning!

I certainly caught my husband off guard when I mentioned getting foster care licensed; nonetheless, he decided to consider it in prayer. After six or more months, he said we could take steps to get our license, but that did not mean we were going to take a placement. I went ahead and started on the paperwork and requirements, and man was it A LOT!

We had to do background checks, fingerprinting, get references, fill out a short novel of paperwork, and get household items like: interconnected smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, outlet covers, etc., We had to have all of our medicines and essential oils in a locked cabinet or box, and other things like that you would normally not think about.

Mid-way into this process, Josh came to me and said, “Katie, what about this…. what if we decide to quit our jobs and travel for six months instead of getting foster licensed?”

Wow… that was a thought (I thought)! If I caught him off-guard with my request to get foster care licensed, this idea caught me 100 times more off guard. My husband is very stable, very steady, and likes detail-specific plans. So this was very uncharacteristic. I think he was going through a ‘quarter life crisis.’ He started saying things like, “I’m only 28. I’m not even 30. I don’t know if I want kids yet.” (HA — who knew those two magic years between 28 and 30 were so clutch!?)

I am not going to lie, I struggled with this. It took me three months of wrestling and praying over his idea before I said, “Okay! If you want to pause getting our foster license, quit our jobs and travel for six months, then that is what we will do!” He was pretty shocked and surprised by my agreement and wasn’t convinced anymore that it was a good idea. We settled on two weeks in Europe and did not quit our jobs. Thank God!

We pushed ahead to get licensed to do foster care, and after completing the paperwork and 30 hours of classroom training, we were ready to do the home inspection. To pass the home inspection, we needed a crib. In true procrastinator fashion, I waited until last minute to get one, and in my haste of moving furniture around, I dropped a desk on my big toe!

Icing my toe after dropping a desk on it

After hopping around in pain and creatively shouting out made-up curse words, I regained some composure.

If dropping a desk on my toe was bad, assembling the crib was as bad, if not worse. There were so many pieces and parts to figure out, and I had to turn in so many screws by hand that even with the screwdriver, I still got a blood blister!

Blood blister from assembling the crib

Who knew getting licensed to do foster care would be so dangerous?! HA. When the social worker left our house, she said we would likely pass the inspection with flying colors. YAY!

From start to finish, it took us about two years to get our license, and that was okay! I would rather us be certain we want to do this than to take a placement and change our minds. The kiddos experience enough trauma without being moved around from home to home.

Although it was a lot of work and time and prayer and frustration and fear and boredom (sitting through 30 hours of classroom training), the decision to get licensed was a great one, and I would do it all over again. Caring for the needs of a vulnerable child in need is always worth the cost.

Lime in the Coconut

Day 14 of COVID-19 lock down, we are finding new ways of staying entertained. Last night I decided I would perfect my homemade margarita. Stocked with:

  • Fresh oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Silver Tequila
  • Cointreau
  • Salt and sugar
  • And a playlist based on “Lime in the Coconut” I was ready!

One sip turned into more sips as I worked through sticky fruit juices and various techniques of blending…shaken vs stirred. By the time Josh came home, I was feeling it. He had no idea what he was walking into as I started dancing around the kitchen singing “Docta’ is there nothing I can take. I said DOC-TA!”

I apologized to him saying I had no intentions of getting ‘buzzed,’ but doing tastings on an empty stomach proved to be a bad idea.

He went upstairs to take out his contacts, and it seemed at random my playlist switched from ‘Spring Break Party’ to “Amazing Grace.” What a buzzkill – I quickly asked Google to play ANYTHING else. (Though it was too late, conviction started to sink in.) I tried to push it away by cranking the tunes, creating my own disco by switching the lights on and off in sync with the music, and making my left-footed husband dance with me in the kitchen when he came downstairs.

Dancing around was so much fun I decided to keep the party vibes going and made another ‘Rita. I was not a sip into the salty, sweet, bitter beverage before my music again switched to Christian worship. In all my times owning a Google Home, it has never played such contrasting songs, one after another.

Conviction sank deeper as I offered my tasty marg to my husband and switched to water.

“Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray” 1 Peter 4:7

My personal conviction as a Christian is we are not meant to expose our bodies or our minds to drugs or alcohol in a fashion that causes us to become buzzed, drunk, or out of control, and I struggle with this.

As an Enneagram 7, my greatest weakness is gluttony, an over-consumption of anything that creates ‘good vibes:’ food, alcohol, travel, etc., Personality type aside, I LOVE to party. I enjoy hosting friends with dinners paired with a complimentary wine. I enjoy drinking and keeping up with the people I am with. I enjoy the feeling of getting buzzed and having a good time. (Though I have wondered if there is a lie that “Alcohol is a good time.”)

Truly I struggle to reign myself in. Part of me wants to and part of me just wants to have a ‘good time,’ but the part that does want to reign it in is greater than the part that does not. Paraphrasing what the Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 4:7

“Think of this struggle as a weaning from your old and wrong habits of living. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free! Free to pursue what God wants instead of what you want.

Katie, you have already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and wasted life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends (even your old self) do not understand why you don’t join in with the party lifestyle anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. You do not have to be a people-pleaser. Is it better to please your spirit-given conviction, people’s expectations of you, or your own selfish desires?”

This is my belief and my conviction that I would not push on someone else or judge someone else for. I believe that if I am convicted about drinking and getting buzzed, but I do it anyway, then it is sin/wrong. The Apostle Paul in the Message translation of Romans 14:23 says it this way.  

“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.”

So in conclusion, I believe the Spirit killed my buzz with uninvited worship music last night, and I am so grateful. It is an answer to a long withstanding prayer of mine to be consumed with the Spirit and not with alcohol, a prayer of mine to live unto my Belief instead of unto myself.

Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.

God bless!

Pretty Sexy Chicken and Rice Soup

I will not say it is the BEST chicken soup you’ll ever eat, because ‘best’ is subjective. However, I will say it is my favorite. It is so hard to get good flavor into chicken soup: broth can be bland; vegetables are bland; and let’s be honest, the average chicken noodle soup (or in this case chicken and rice soup) is not very sexy.

Between the rotisserie chicken and turmeric/curry, this soup is sexier than your average bird! ;P

Not only is homemade chicken soup healthy and nourishing when you’re feeling sick, but this soup is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger, turmeric, garlic. *If you like a little more flava-flav, add more turmeric/curry. Enjoy!

Prep Time 10 minutes (this always takes longer)
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 269 kcal

Ingredients
1 tablespoon avocado/coconut oil or grass-fed butter
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 + large carrots, thinly sliced
2 + celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 + tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1+ tablespoon fresh grated turmeric or curry
6 + cups low sodium chicken broth
1 rotisserie chicken
1+ sprig freshly rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme, stems removed
Bay leaves, fresh
salt and pepper to taste
Rice, potatoes, or Quinoa

Instructions

  1. Place a large dutch oven or pan on oven at medium high heat and add in oil or butter. Once it is hot, add in garlic, onion, carrots, and
    celery; cook for a few minutes until onion becomes translucent.
  2. Next add in grated ginger and grated turmeric (or curry). Saute for 30 seconds to let the spices cook a bit, then add in chicken
    broth, rotisserie chicken, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Bring soup to a boil, then stir in rice or potatoes.
  4. Serve soup with shredded cheese, crackers, homemade bread, or favorite toppings.

    Recipe Notes
    When I cook, I rarely measure. I hate following recipes and think they are more like guidelines. I might have used Curry instead of Turmeric, and I did not have ginger, so I subbed All Spice. So make it yours! To make vegetarian or vegan: Use vegetarian broth and sub 1 can of drained chickpeas for chicken.