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.  😉

Uruguay 2016

Earlier this month Nick and I had the opportunity to go to Uruguay for about week with Leadership Excursions. We took a team of 10 people from the U.S., and we were there to lead a leadership retreat for missionary women in Uruguay. The property that we staying at is owned by our leader’s family. Her grandparents wanted the property to be used for ministry, and this is the second year that they’ve done the retreat for the missionary women. The first part of the week was freshening up the property, and getting things ready for when the ladies arrived. The second part of the week was serving them; allowing them to relax, rejuvenate, and connect with God on a deeper level, as well as connect with other missionary women in same country they serve in. It was really amazing to see them connect with one another, and forge new friendships with other women who understand the things they face on a daily basis. Uruguay is a very literate country, and it’s not very open to the gospel, so these women face a lot of hardships on a daily basis.

We had 3 flights to Uruguay, and we landed in Montevideo at about 4:00am. We had a lot of things to bring with us – supplies for the week, and special gifts for the women – and so every team member on our flights (there were 7 of us) had two, fifty pound bags. So it was quite an adventure getting those 14 pieces to where they needed to be! We had to take a city bus to the bus station, and then a bus to Colonia Valdense, and then a car ride to the property. When we arrived in Colonia Valdense, there were two cars waiting for us, and it was quite a feat to get all of our luggage packed up to the property. This was one of the cars – the trunk, and roof were packed, and we also managed to fit 5 people in the car!

Uruguay 2016

The property is gorgeous, and backs up right along beach. They call it a river, but it’s really more like the gulf of Mexico. It was massive, and you couldn’t see to the other side! The water looks muddy, but it’s actually quite clean. There is just a lot of sand and rock at the bottom.

Headed out to the beach:
Uruguay 2016

Looking down the beach:
Uruguay 2016

Uruguay 2016

We had a few hours one day (a couple of days before the ladies arrived) to go into the city of Colonia to explore, and have lunch as a team. We walked around Old Town, and it was so beautiful and amazing! It’s right along the ocean, and you could see Buenos Aires on the other side.

Uruguay 2016

Uruguay 2016

Last year only women went as a part of the U.S. team. This year men were invited so they could do some construction jobs around the property. They did so much, and we couldn’t have done it without them! Because of them, the rest of team was able to focus on getting things ready for women. Making beds, getting welcome bags together, planning meals, and organizing a “free store” for them.

This was the building that we used for session times, as well as meal times before:
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And after:
Uruguay 2016

The guys also built this cross that we hung inside as a focal point in our worship times.
Uruguay 2016

There are so many pictures that I’d love to share with you, but I want to respect the privacy of my team members, and the missionary women. There are loads of pictures of me in the kitchen because that’s where I spent the majority of the week. I did so many dishes, that I’m afraid that if I had counted them, it would have shocked me! But it was such a blessing to be able to allow the ladies to not have to do anything, and both Nick and I were more than happy to pitch in anywhere we were needed. We both grew in many ways – not only in our own personal relationships with God – but with our team members. We were a great group, with lots of different personalities, and gifts that all worked so well together. Neither Nick or myself had ever been a part of a mission trip before, but I know that this one will not be our last.

(In case you were wondering, Uruguay is NOT a vegan’s best friend. There are more cows in Uruguay than people, and they eat A LOT of beef. But God is so good, and our chef for the week always made sure that we had something to eat. We ate loads of bread, potatoes, and rice, but it was a good reminder that it wasn’t about us. That being said, Uruguay is a beautiful, beautiful country, but be sure to pack lots of snacks. 😉 )

Staycation – day one

Ever since we’ve moved to the DC area, it feels like we could go on a new adventure every weekend. I love that! While we’ve tried A LOT of new things, and ventured to new places, we definitely have a few favorites that we can’t seem to stay away from. But there were so many neighborhoods and things that we haven’t seen in the city yet, so we took off last Thursday to see some more of our own backyard. Olive went to play at her friend’s house for the night, so Nick and I were free to roam about, and stay out as long as we liked!

After dropping Olive off, we took off for the city, and naturally, got caught in traffic. (there is ALWAYS traffic) Our first top was the metro station so that we could jump on the Silver Line. We got off near the the Eastern Market and walked for a bit before heading to lunch.

Lunch was nothing short of EPIC. We walked to Sticky Rice on H Street. I had found this place online a few weeks ago, and knew it was a place we needed to go. And we’re both SO happy that we did! It was amazing. Naturally, we started with a bucket of tots, and vegan special sauce.
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I mean, don’t YOU think of tots at a sushi place?! Ha! THEY. WERE. AWESOME. Perfectly fried and crisp, and not too greasy. I don’t know what the vegan special sauce is, but it’s nothing short of magical. Mmmmm. So good. I’ve been dreaming of them ever since.

But we knew that man can not live on tots alone, so we ordered three sushi rolls as well. We chose The Hot Hippy (spicy marinated tofu with scallions, peanuts, cucumbers, and carrots), the Santa Fe (tempura fried sweet potato with agave jalapeño and sesame seeds), and the Avocado Tempura with the vegan option (vegan tofutti, cucumbers, avocado, vegan spicy sauce, drizzled with ponzu and scallions).
Sushi Rice
(all three, the Avocado Tempura, The Hot Hippy, and the Santa Fe going clockwise)

Wow. These rolls were so darn tasty, too! I think my favorite was the Avocado Tempura, but I’m a sucker for anything with avocado. It was creamy and crunchy all at the same time. The Santa Fe also had a great crunch from the tempura sweet potato, but it was balanced well with the spice of the agave jalapeño. The Hot Hippy was Nick’s favorite, and it was more a traditional vegetable roll, but the spicy tofu made it a little something different. They were all delicious and we devoured them in no time.

And yes. We ate the entire bucket of tots with NO REGRETS.

After exploring the Adams Morgan neighborhood a bit, we ventured off towards Georgetown. We’ve been to Georgetown a few times now, but we were headed to Baked & Wired for a cupcake. We snagged the “Hell Yeah” which was a vegan & gluten free chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream. While we didn’t snag a picture, and we didn’t eat it until after dinner, I’ll promise you that it was awesome! Nick said he would have never been able to tell you that it was gluten free. That’s always the true test! It was SUPER chocolate-y and not dry and crumbly at all. It was a perfect treat.

And let’s be serious. It’s hard to go to Georgetown and NOT get a cupcake from Sprinkles. I mean, it can, and has been done, but Sprinkles is always worth a trip.
I love Sprinkles!

The vegan red velvet is out of this world and we devoured it right outside the door. It has the perfect texture and just the right amount coconut flavor. And the buttercream?! Heavenly. Silky, smooth, and just the right amount of sweet. Worth every single calorie, for sure.
SPRINKLES!

After a bit more of wandering around Georgetown, we headed back towards home because Nick didn’t want to leave his softball team hanging. They were right on the edge of having enough guys, and he wanted to give them a fair shot! After all of that, we got there and only 5 guys showed up. BUMMER. So after the time was over, and they had to forfeit for real, we took off and tried to decide what to do for dinner. We ended up at Whole Foods (we had a few things to get anyway) and ordered the Mighty Vegan Pizza. They didn’t have any vegan cheese ready, so we opted to skip the cheese and add marinated mushrooms instead. We brought it home, grabbed a drink (I chose the caffeine free Zevia Cola – yum!) and ate while watching a movie. It was kind of weird to be home without Olive around, but it was nice to sit on the couch, watch “Homeland”, and eat without having to say, “Olive, sit! This is not your pizza!”
A lovely Whole Foods Pizza all for us

This pizza was YUMMY! Big, chewy slices with loads of veggies and flavorful sauce. It definitely hit the spot.

What a great day! While it had ended up being way more humid than expected, we had such a great day together. I can’t wait to share the rest of our staycation with you tomorrow!

Midwest Trip Recap

Last week Nick and I headed back to the land of corn for 4 days. Nick had a work training, and so I tagged along to catch up with Lil Sis and my bestie. It was so great to see everyone, and catch up with family and friends, but it felt SO WEIRD to be back. I’m not sure what it was. I guess that everything felt super familiar, and I knew how to get everywhere, but at the same time everything felt unfamiliar. Life in Iowa didn’t stop because we left, I suppose. We packed A LOT into our week, and so we came home exhausted, but it was the good kind of exhausted. But it sure was good to come home and see Olive again. We sure did miss that little goofball!

Speaking of Olive, she stays with a super awesome family that lives about 10 minutes from us. When we first moved here we were scheduled to go on our anniversary trip to Europe for 10 days and we (me) were in a panic to find someone to watch Olive. I am such a softie when it comes to her that I didn’t want to board her for that long (or ever). I want her to play all day with other dogs, and get some love and attention from humans as well. I happened upon DogVacay.com and found THE best family ever! Olive loves to go to their house and every night we get pictures of all of the fun she has during the day. She always makes herself right at home! 😉

Trip to CR

One day I was out with my bestie and my “niece” and it was time for lunch. They opted for a non-vegan option, naturally, so I ran into Chipotle. I was hungry, but I also knew that I probably couldn’t eat an entire bowl and I hate wasting food! Our hotel didn’t have a fridge, so I knew I couldn’t bring any leftovers back. While waiting in line, I was reading the description of the kids meal, and so I thought to myself, “that sounds about right! That’s all I need.” So, I ordered a kids meal. The downside is that you only get 3 toppings, but that didn’t upset me too much. I’m sure you could order extras on the side, if desired. I chose 2 soft corn tortillas – you get a choice of 2 soft corn tortillas, 2 hard corn taco shells, or 2 small flour tortillas – with guacamole, pico de gallo, and pinto beans. You also get THE cutest bag of chips – and the perfect amount! – and a drink. And the kicker? It was only $5! Seriously the best. This will definitely be something I’ll grab again in the future when I just need a little something. This made me love Chipotle even more!

Trip to CR

That same night we went to our favorite Iowa restaurant, the Trumpet Blossom Cafe. So, SO good. We met Lil Sis and her boyfriend there and had SO MUCH FUN. The food tasted extra delicious. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had it for months, or maybe because I was just really excited to be there, but either way, it was great. We had fries (obviously) and nachos to start, and then we all ordered different entrees. I had the flatbread pizza, and Nick opted for the Peanut Pasta. There were happy bellies all around. While we have tons of tasty vegan options here, the Trumpet Blossom will always hold a special place in my heart, and stomach, forever. Yum!

Trip to CR

After dinner we all ventured over to a new natural food store that had opened up within the last few months. Have you ever heard of a Lucky’s Market? I had read about it before moving, but kind of forgot about it. I remembered when Nick and I stopped to play with puppies before dinner. I wanted to put this little girl in my purse and bring her home. Alas, we did not. But look at that face!!

Trip to CR

Back to the market, that place was great! They had all kinds of great vegan and gluten free options that I can’t even find here in DC! We grabbed the Beyond Chicken Feisty Buffalo Poppers. I was able to keep them with Lil Sis to stay frozen, and I knew I could bake them at my bestie’s house the next day as we were going to her place for dinner. I baked them up as an appetizer, and the vegans and non-vegans alike (except for a certain 9 year old) thought they were great! They weren’t very spicy, and I didn’t really taste the buffalo flavor, but they had great texture and baked up in a flash! I would grab them again if given the chance, for sure.

Trip to CR

The best score of the week, though was Hampton Creek’s Just Cookie Dough! Lil Sis had spotted it at Hy-Vee, and so we immediately went and bought some. That stuff is the bomb. It’s great out of the tub, although I prefer Eat Pastry’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip raw, but it’s amazing when it’s baked. WOWZA. I could have eaten a dozen cookies. Now if only they, too, would show up in my neck of the woods! We leave Iowa and they get all the good stuff I’d been looking for for months! If you have access to Just Cookie Dough, GET IT.

Trip to CR

 

We had a great time being back, but it was so great to be home. We’ve had a pretty low-key week, and have spent a lot of time enjoying the beautiful weather. It’s a little steamy during the day, but it gets SO nice at night. We have a friend coming to visit this weekend, so we’re already planning all kind of fun things to do, and yummy things to eat! Happy Wednesday!