A beautiful day to get outside!

Hey y’all.

Thanks for the wonderful response to the post the other day. Knowing that people are reading and care, certainly does make a person happy to put their thoughts out there. I’ve got a recipe coming up here one of these days, but for now, I figured we’d just keep sharing life.

We’ve got a good old four day weekend going. I needed the break and so far it’s been really nice and relaxing. The day started off with a nice fun run with Jackie and Kaitlin. I had a great time with Mike and Eddy for our church Executive Leadership Team (ELT) meeting. And then the bulk of our day was spent with our friend Connor who just got back from Peru. He was part of a team of 13 that went with Leadership Excursions/Endurance Leadership. We were very excited to get to hear all about how God was working down there. Both on the team that went as well as with the orphanage there.

We made some sandwiches featuring Herbivorous Butcher “meats”. Oh my delicious. Jackie’s favorite is the “turkey” slices, I personally like the “pastrami” the best. Whatever way you slice it, it’s all good. Connor was a fan, which is always a plus, when your omnivorous friend, digs the food.

We had planned to drive to Maryland to check out the Red Shedman Farm Brewery.  We’ve picked up some of their raspberry cider in the past and it’s super good.  We thought it would be fun to put the dog in the car and head out there to hang out and try some beverages while playing some games and catching up.  It was perfect for all of that. First off the Farm has beer, cider and wine.  We didn’t check out the wine today but we sampled everything else.  Its set in such a beautiful location, there are rolling hills and trees everywhere.  You’ve got the vines for the winery surrounding all the sides of a nice little grove with picnic tables set up.  (In retrospect, I really should have taken some pictures of the property… gotta get back in the habit.)

We tried a flight.  I personally thought the best beer was the Lunatic Fringe.  A Belgian IPA that was infused with habanero.  Jackie was a fan of the Raspberry Cider, and Connor’s favorite was the Farmers Daughter, a wheat beer.
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Here’s Connor and I just enjoying a moment there on the picnic table.  The beard is so much bigger isn’t it!
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Connor fell asleep with Olive in the car on the way back.  But he woke up in time to show us a rocking backflip off a tree.  After we got a good video we wanted to try to do a boomerang video…Well it didn’t work quite as well, but it’s super funny to watch.  🙂

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The real highlight though was hearing the stories, and challenging each other on what’s going on in our lives.  Connor asked the question as to what our greatest fear is.  I’ll tell you what, it takes a good friendship to get vulnerable and really share that.  It’s been a blessing to have him here as an intern and getting to know him.  Between him and Bethany we’re going to be really sad when this season of life is over and we have to go to remote relationships.

We’re going to end off the night by going to see Despicable Me 3.  I’m excited, Jacks is super excited.  It should be a whole lot of fun.  We’re going to sneak in some Earth Balance White Cheddar Popcorn.  😉

Christmas Break

So I realize I’m a little late in posting this, but whatever. Life happens, blizzards happen. You just never know. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share a few highlights of our Christmas break with you! Nick was able to take the week of Christmas off as my best friend and her family were coming to stay for the week. That meant that Nick had two and a half weeks off! It was awesome. Definitely no complaints from me!

The week before Christmas we were given a really great opportunity to do a tour of the White House with Nick’s alumni association. We had to be into the city about 8:30, but we hopped on the metro, and got there with time to spare. I didn’t really know what to expect, but you get to see some pretty cool things! It was definitely an experience I’ll remember.

These snowmen were out on the lawn How fun are they?!
White House Tour

Lincoln! I loved this portrait.
White House Tour

How many times will you get the opportunity to get your photo taken under the REAL presidential seal??
White House Tour

Our framily (friends that are family) arrived on Sunday afternoon, just in time to relax a bit before heading to church (I love 5:00 service!) The kids had never been to DC, so we headed out on Monday to see ALL THE THINGS. We walked almost 12 miles that day! Needless to say, by the end of the day, we were beat! The weather was great, so we were able to get some great shots at the city’s most iconic spots.

This was taken outside the Lincoln Memorial.
Christmas Break 2015

I had purchased tickets for us ahead of time to go up into the Washington Monument. You can save yourself a couple dollars a person, and wait in line first thing in the morning on the day you want to go, but we didn’t want the hassle of getting 7 people ready, and making it into the city on time to do that. So I sucked it up and paid for the tickets. No biggie. It was actually pretty cool! You take an elevator up to the observatory, and then on the way down, you can see some really intricate stones that were gifted from various states in the U.S.

Here was a great view of the Jefferson Memorial:
Christmas Break 2015

And the back of the White House:
Christmas Break 2015

We were also able to see the National Christmas Tree at night. It was so beautiful!
Christmas Break 2015

Christmas Break 2015<

After Christmas breakfast, gifts, and some full-on lounging about, we all piled in the car to head to Harpers Ferry for a Christmas hike. It was foggy and overcast, but we were able to enjoy a nice, easy hike before the rain hit.
Christmas Break 2015

We had such a fun time with friends, and it was so sad to see them leave. But we definitely made loads of memories together. We also had a family poker tournament on Christmas night, and we all lost to the 17 year old. He was really motivated to win the $20!

What fun things did you do for Christmas?

Day Twenty-Three

Good morning! Yesterday was a great day! It was fun to have friends here – even if they had to leave right after lunch. *sad face* We made both J & M smoothies for breakfast (the same ones we were having) and they were both sold! They stopped at the store on their way home for smoothie stuff so they could make some of them at home! Love it. After dinner Nick and I ran to the new Whole Foods Market that opened up here in town. We had used up a bit with more people in the house and just needed to replenish a few things. Then we came home to prep the salad for day 24. There were a lot of steps, so it was teamwork all the way.

Breakfast: (1 serving = 1 quart)
Mango Madness Green Smoothie
Abundance diet day 23
This one is pretty similar to the spotted smoothie we made a couple of weeks ago. I used flax in my smoothie, and M requested chia in hers. Mangos have an interesting flavor to them – a little woody? – but the sweetness from the banana balanced it out. This one went down very easily and was a hit for all!

Salad:
Curried Brown Rice Salad
Abundance diet day 23
This one definitely tastes like curry, so it’s a little on the sweet side for me. However, the veggies give it great crunch to go along with the soft, brown rice. This would be great for a party or a church potluck. We ate the salad cold from the fridge, but it would also be great served at room temperature.

Soup:
Cheesiest Potato Soup
*ack! I forgot a picture of this, too! I blame being a great hostess! 😉 *
YUM! I love this soup. M had a bowl, too, and she thought it was awesome. Success! I love it when non-vegans love vegan food. There are big chunks of creamy potato, slightly crisp carrots, and a cheesy broth with loads of parsley. Mmmmm. I can’t wait to eat this one again. I left it chunky for texture, but you could easily puree the whole thing to make it smooth. She also says you can swap out the potatoes for broccoli to make a cheesy broccoli soup.

Main:
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna
Abundance diet day 23
Hmmmm. This wasn’t really our favorite. The flavors were good, but the eggplant was such a strong, awkward texture. Also, living in a townhouse doesn’t lend itself to having an outdoor grill, so it took me FOREVER to grill up all the veggies on the stove! Grilling definitely gave the veggies a nice flavor, and the grilled red onion was my favorite. Nick and I liked the overall flavor of the dish, but the eggplant was definitely the downfall. We’re already thinking of ways that we could use the general idea to make it again, but just with different veggies. We did, however, love the sauce that we found at Whole Foods. The recipe calls for an oil free (or low oil) marinara sauce. Whole Foods offers a fat free, organic sauce that’s really delicious! I highly suggest it.

Thoughts on today: dinner took FOREVER, but lasagna IS a labor intensive dish. It was really fun to have friends here who enjoyed our food, and took a few recipes home to try. Nick and I were talking about how we’d have to make our own menu next week. Say what?! It’s definitely been a treat not having to think about what to make.

Have an awesome day!

High Five for Friday

It’s Friday, right? Nick and I have been on vacation for a little over a week and everyday has felt like a Saturday or Sunday! Going back to work next Wednesday is going to be hard! Eh. Such is life. I’ll enjoy my vacation while I can! I’m linking up with Lauren today, just like always.

1. Christmas Eve was a success! Nick and I were both in a sketch at church and they both went really well! Lots of laughs, and they fit well with the true meaning of Christmas. I was a little more nervous than usual – there were 2500+ people (total) at the 3 services. That’s a lot of people! But God is good! We did it!

2. Christmas Day was a great day. Nick and I had a really great, lazy-ish day together. It was wonderful! We spent a lot of time in the kitchen making goodies, and thankfully we could freeze a lot of them. Otherwise, we’d be in big trouble! 🙂
Christmas treats

3. Basil is LOVING the fact that both Nick and I are home. We’ve been taking him for long walks everyday (can I just say brrrr?! negative windchills are NOT my friend), and he’s just enjoying the slowness of everything. He’s such a goof.
Lazy bum

4. Lil Sis‘ birthday was on Wednesday. We got to make her cake. Not only was it super tasty, it was super fun, too!
Mustache cake!

5. Last night we had Christmas with our super great friends that I’ve known for over half of my life now. We went for pizza and then to this crazy Christmas lights display in a park. It was a super fun night to spend with them. And the pizza was great! We had a Mean Green and Thai One On (both sans cheese, natch) and they totally hit the spot. Yum!
Mean Green & Thai One on pizza

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your weekend! Any fun plans for New Year’s Eve? Nick and I can’t decide what to do…