Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is being served on our table this week...

First off, here is my handsome husband on his way out the door at 10pm last night to the ER to work his first night shift! Even though I am sure this post will embarrass him, I couldn't resist a picture! I am so proud of him for making it to this point in school and excelling at it! Not to brag, but speaking of being proud, I am pretty proud of myself because I stayed alone at our house for the first time last night. Can you believe it?! 2 years and I have been too scared to do it! So, I buckled up, made myself act my age, and did it!

He has been awake for about 38 of the last 40 hours, so it is time for us to call it an early night! 

As of now, this is the weekly menu! After a trip to both Mt Pleasant's new Trader Joe's and my old friend Publix,  I can't wait to get to cooking :) Cole and I have been on-the-go so much that my time in the kitchen has taken a back seat. One of the things I love about vacation is not having to think about meals, so the break was good but missed!

Most of these are recipes that I haven't tried before, so I will have to post an update at the end of the week. Most of you probably know by now that I don't repeat recipes much these days. I am trying out a lot of them and writing down the "keepers". This is the perfect stage of our lives to do this, and Cole is the perfect husband to do it with because he will eat and enjoy most anything.

Tonight-  Basil Pesto Turkey Panini on Ciabatta with Cheese Sauce, leftover butter beans

Monday (Our official anniversary!!)- Baked Grouper (in lemon, parmesan, butter, and panko), Onion Risotto, and sauteed squash and zucchini. Glazed Peaches and Yogurt Ice Cream for dessert :)

Tuesday- Bourbon and Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin with a spinach salad (with a raspberry preserve and mango chutney dressing).

Wednesday- White Bean, Mushroom, and Asparagus Cassoulet

Thursday- Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Pecans and leftovers!! If we have leftover pork (and who knows with Cole!), I plan to slice it and place the pork into a hot biscuit filled with Blackberry Basil Butter.

I am going to make a quick run by the Mount Pleasant farmer's market on Tuesday afternoon since I didn't get to go to the one downtown this weekend.  Anyone is welcome to join me!

I have recently seen a few great recipes for homemade popsicles. If I can put my hands on a pop mold, I will make these healthy and tasty treats. They sound so refreshing in this heat wave! I would prefer to get creative myself, but some starter recipes can be found here, here, and here.

What's on your table this week?

We Recycle,

Yes we do, we recycle, how about you?

This is the chant that Cole and I often sing when we team up to walk our recycling to our apartment's deposit place. Though it is a pox upon the landscape of our porch, we always feel a sense of self-righteousness when we empty our collected recyclable waste. We continue our efforts, despite often questioning the validity of the local program because we don't have to separate anything! Paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, aluminum, all goes into a single place! We often comment...either this isn't being recycled at all or our recycling, along with everyone else's, is creating many a job! This weekend, however, some of our questions were answered with a mailed pamphlet from Charleston County on what is now called "Single Stream Residential Recycling Pilot Program." The name explains it all, and verified that yes, even though we are all dumping various kinds of items together in common recycling containers, our contributions are being recycled. The program is relatively new in the U. S. and Charleston, and is only active in a few parts of our county so far, but is expanding. In fact, recycling participation rates in the new single-stream recycling areas rose from 35% to 70%. Glad to know we are saving the earth, one milk carton at a time!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mountain Getaway

This is a delayed report from our anniversary trip! Earlier in the week, I decided to head to DeBordieu for a few days with my mom. It was so fun and relaxing and I didn't want to turn on the computer.

So, from the beach to the mountains, here is a short recap:
Here we are pulling in! 
The views are breathtaking!
We laughed at how many books and reading material we brought. Can you tell we were planning to relax?!

And we did, just as planned! We also enjoyed a long hike in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area on Saturday. We are able to hike directly from the house, which I love!!
Happy 2 years!!

On Sunday we swam in the pool! It was chilly :)

I have realized that one of the best things to do when we go for a weekend away is to plan our meals ahead. The more we can make beforehand, the less we have to do while on vacation. I pre-made a few things and then we cooked easy meals! Here is a "taste"! The first one is a recipe of Gan-Gan's, Cole's grandmother. It is a delicious and easy White Chicken Chili. I can't imagine soup in this weather here, but it is perfect any evening in the mountains. We added a dollop of sour cream and fresh slices of avocado.

1 package white chicken chili mix (I used McKormick's)
1 8 oz block of cream cheese (I used fat-free)
1 can mild Rotel, undrained
2 cans of chicken broth
2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used 3 cans)
1 rotisserie chicken, pulled apart
Mix together, heat, and viola!!

We also enjoyed wine, adorned in wedding attire! We used these on our honeymoon and I have enjoyed pulling them back out on our anniversaries! (Can't believe that word is plural now!!)

For dessert, I pre-made my cousin Sara Gayle's famous Darn Good Chocolate Cake. And, it is darn good!

1 box reduced-sugar chocolate devil's food cake mix
1 pkg sugar-free chocolate instant pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use the jumbo ones)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease bundt pan. Blend first 6 ingredients with a mixer. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into bundt pan and bake 45-50 minutes (or until cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and starts to pull away from the sides). Remove and cool 20 minutes. Invert to serve.

Breakfast was Duncan Hines blueberry muffins. I added in fresh blueberries before baking.

I am already trying to squeeze in another trip into our schedules!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Poem

As I mentioned before, our group in North Africa had great opportunities to be lights for the gospel with the translators we worked with in the clinic. Unlike the individual patients we saw, we were able to spend time with the same translators each day through our clinic and sharing meals. They were able to not only see a glimpse of our team, but also our motives, attitudes, and personal lives.

At the end of our two weeks in North Africa, one of the our translators labored to write this sweet poem for our team.
This poem was such an encouragement to us!

I want to highlight the part that says, "I was sitting alone, thinking about the pain, the future seems dark, wishing death comes fast..." This is a reflection of life without the hope of heaven. How sad.

But, as you can read above, the poem closes with, "Everyone smiles...they examine me with a big love...the doctor was an angel." What contrast this is! This was our prayer. Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." We continue to pray that our medical work in North Africa wouldn't be seen as good moral deeds, but that it would point the people to Someone Greater than us. Join me in pleading before the Lord for the hearts of the Berber people whose "future seems dark".

Friday, July 22, 2011

See ya!

are on our way here (photo borrowed from google images)
to hike here
to celebrate this!
I have been looking forward to this for so long! Bring on time with my husband, cool weather, mountain trails, rocking chairs, and bottle of wine! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thought for the day

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." -C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Coupon Woes

When I began couponing in late 2009 my goal was to save more money than I spent. In order to motivate myself, I made it a game and kept my totals on excel. It also served as a great reminder of what I had saved, which confirmed that my time clipping and printing coupons was worth it!

My totals last year were:
Spent= $2,261.38
Saved= $2,502.25

I really have no idea if this is a lot to spend on groceries in a year! All I had to compare it to was my family of 5 from home and I believe we spent this much about every month!

After calculating it out, I spent an average of $43.50 a week on food! And, if any of you know my husband, you know that he eats a lot. Woah! I have to say, I was pleased with myself! You may be thinking that we ate out at restaurants a lot, but Cole and I have a rule try to only go out to eat once a week or less.

After doing some experimenting last year, I have come to realize that the best prices to be had are not at big supermarkets like Sam's and Cosco or even in buying store brand items, but in taking advantage of BOGO (Buy One, Get One) deals with brand name coupons! I am a big fan of Publix (and Harris Teeter, only when they do super double deals or I have to make a late night run). When I first started couponing, I was afraid that I would not be able to buy my favorite foods and healthy items. But, quite the opposite is true.

This was one of my biggest purchases. I spent $81.19 and saved $145.66! That means this is $226.85 worth of food for about 1/3 the cost or 75% off.

This year, I haven't been as coupon savvy. In January, I started a clean slate to document the amount I had spent and saved for 2011. This month I have crossed the line, spent more than I have saved, and my numbers after my last few grocery trips have been disappointing. I have spent $64.28 more than I have saved. The totals are still only at about $50 a week, which compared to eating out is still low. However, last year in July I had spent about $100 less overall and had saved $262.67 more than I had spent. I have some catching up to do!! I think I have summer to blame for this, although I am not complaining. Cole and I have been bopping around and enjoying friends and family. I also have been working a lot of evening shifts, which puts a kink into cooking dinner. I have been less inclined to plan out our week in food and more likely to just pop in to the store and buy cravings dinner.

If you are willing to share, how much do you spend on groceries? I always am interested to know if we are being wise with our money on everyday things like food. Any couponing tips to share?

Off to read the weekly grocery inserts, clip my coupons from Sunday, and head to Publix!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My new favorite kitchen tool

A Pineapple Cutter
Cut off the top of the pineapple and twist the cutter down
until it almost reaches the bottom.
Pull it out, leaving the core in place. 
The best part is drinking the fresh juice! It is so sweet this time of year.
Marian loves pineapple, and I do believe this was the
first tool she received for her new kitchen.  
Cut out the core
And fill it with fruit! (looks like we ordered it from Edible Arrangements)
Perfect side for a summer picnic, afternoon snack, cookout, or supper club

Sunday, July 17, 2011

You have to read this book #2

My first post titled "you have to read this book" can be found here

I have just finished reading this book. 
And, you have to read it.

I can't begin to describe the depths of this book and what it has taught me. Platt made a clear distinction of the church in America today and the biblical picture of Jesus, as well as the American dream and our purpose in life. He answers, through pointing you to Scripture, hard questions like...What happens to people who have never heard about Jesus? How do I manage my money specifically? How do I gain more from dying than living? What is God's will for my life? and many more...Most of all, the Holy Spirit uncomfortably targeting me with this convicting statement, "All too often we view heaven as the default eternal state for humankind." I should let go of all my selfishness and make my life about God's redemptive plan. 

The book closes with this statement, which will give you a good sense of the overarching theme of the book. "When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream. We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more tv, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of the world. Instead we will wish we had given more to ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship."

Whew! I will admit that it was very challenging. There were times when my selfish and sinful self did not even want to keep reading because the truths of the gospel were very clear and convicting. So, expect this book to radically change your perspective on life, the future, and the world in which we live. 

It is a short book and an easy read!! Do it!!

Updated Summer Reading List (in no particular order)
1. Heaven is For Real
2. And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
3. Radical by David Platt
4. The Moon and the Mango Tree by Pamela Ewen
5. What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp
6. Desiring God by John Piper
7. Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper
8. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (on book 4 of 7)
9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
11. Peace Child by Don Richardson
12. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
13. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
14. Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
15. Operation World

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tuscan Pasta

My friend Alison introduced me to this very good and easy pasta dish - Southern Living's Tuscan Pasta. It is great for a fast week-night meal or as a crowd pleaser!! It works as a one-course meal or pairs nicely with salad and a white wine. 

The fresh basil in this pasta is a must!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our 10 day vacation

Here we are back to reality after a 10 day vacation. Well, sorta.

I haven't touched a computer since Thursday a week ago. Wow! We have spent time with both Cole's family and mine in both the mountains near Ceasar's Head and the beach at Sullivan's Island. It was a much needed and absolutely wonderful time after all of Cole's studying!

I have 120 unread blog updates and feel out of touch with all of you!!

You may have thought I abandoned blogging altogether. But, I haven't, and here is a "small dose" of our vacation time:

Towards the end of Cole's board studying, he opened a Dove chocolate that I had packed for him for lunch. Here is what his message said:
 Sometimes the Lord just knows what we need to hear!

We did indeed just that...promised ourselves a reward, a night out on the town! Compliments of Cole's parents, we began our vacation here in Charleston with a very nice dinner at Charleston Grill at the Charleston Place Hotel. It is always ranked as the best restaurant in Charleston, and having tried quite a few, we agree! Everything from the service, presentation, food, and live music was first class.

Gotta love self-timer.

On Friday we headed to Cole's family mountain house near Caesar's Head in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. We did a lot of relaxing, reading, looking for blue ghost fireflies, talking, and hiking. The weather was awesome, highs in the 80s and a slight chill at night. Pretty perfect for me...warm enough to wear sandals, but just chilly enough to put on a long sleeve shirt. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we are going up again for our anniversary and I can't wait!

These pictures are from our trail run/hike we squeezed in before dark! It still amazes me that this is just outside the door.

The rest of the weekend I celebrated Lesli's wedding. I wish I had more pictures. Please send them to me if you have some :) She was gorgeous and the wedding was really fun!
Fearsome Foursome (as Cole calls us) at Lesli's rehearsal dinner at High Cotton
For the fourth, we had a cook out in Greer and then headed back to Charleston. We regrouped to stay out at Sullivan's for the week with my family. This week is traditionally vacation week for my dad and our family. I can only think of a few fourth of july celebrations we have been in the state for. This year, since Cole, Marian, and I all had commitments in Charleston, we rented a house on the waterway/marsh on Sullivan's. Dad, Mom, and William came down and we stayed at the house all week and commuted in to work/school.  The house was perfect for us...all wood which my dad loved, dock with water deep enough at all tides for the boat, and big porches for us to eat, read, and play games on.

My mom cooked killer meals for us all week. I believe the diet is going to have to begin today!
Low Country Boil. Yes, we are with our hands on newspapers! 

 We did a lot of this..
Marian catching those fish
Cole and I on the boat
William kayaking
Marian, Stephen, and Syl crabbing
Marian and me on the dock
Watching the race with William, yes my first one ever, and playing card games.
Cole and I got really close to 4 dolphins on one of our kayak rides. It was so fun! We also got to see manatees!! I had no idea that we had manatees in the Charleston waters! Growing up manatees were my favorite animal. I know, weird, but maybe not so surprising when I think back to my favorite animal as a really young child...goats! Still to this day I have no idea why, except that I really liked them. We laughed at memories of me sponsoring numerous manatees in "save the manatee" programs. My favorite one I named "Manny".

I couldn't think of a better 10 days than spending it with family like we did! God had our best interest in mind when he allowed Cole to get an elective rotation first. Cole had wanted to begin on surgery (to get the hardest rotation done first), but instead ended up with an elective. He was disappointed at the time, but now after his boards and being a little burned out, we cannot imagine anything better than starting off this way! He was able to spend time with our families because of this normal work schedule. Not only did the Lord provide this time for us, but also opened up a spot for Cole at Deyten's Shipyard Medical Center and Harvest Free Medical Clinic. This is the same clinic Cole worked in last summer, thanks to the generosity of Loy Stewart and Dr. Freeman. He loves it there - the people, patients, and the Christian mission. We are enjoying every second because in a few short weeks, he will hit the ground running at the MUSC ER.

PS...If some of you are looking for accounts of our trip to North Africa, scroll all the way to the bottom to see my older posts. You can also click on them here: Answered PrayersGreater Things, All Nations, Culture Shock, Brokenhearted, Clinic Days.
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