Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Better Late than Never

Traditionally I like our Thankful Tree up by November 1st, and it is the 13th...One of the exercise class instructors at the gym always says "Yeah, do what you can!"...I'll adopt that motto for this season of life! 

"To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence a gift of grace." -Thomas Merton 

See our Thankful Tree here from last year. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Tis the Season...

...for spaghetti squash! For those of you who may not have heard me rave about this already, I am continually amazed at the variety (in taste, color, smell) of fruits and vegetables that the Lord creates for our nourishment and enjoyment. Spaghetti squash wows me even more...just look at these things...squash that with a touch of a fork literally turn into spaghetti noodles...so fascinating to me!

I used a combination of my grandmother JoJo's recipe, this one from the blog Two Peas and Their Pod, and my own inspiration to create this spaghetti squash dish. 

First cut off the stems of each spaghetti squash and then slice in half lengthwise. I got Cole's help with this part because they are hard to cut. Scoop out the seeds and other messy stuff inside (just like a pumpkin). I would suggest using 1 medium sized spaghetti squash for every 2 people. Brush olive oil, salt, and pepper on the cut sides and then turn over (cut side down) on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes. 

In the meantime, make the sauce. I combined 2 T olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 onion finely diced (with the chopper that I always mention on here), 6 roma tomatoes (or any tomato) also cut with the chopper, and 1 cup mushrooms. Saute until onions become clear and sauce is warm throughout. Reduce heat and let sit on low heat until squash is ready. 

Remove squash from oven and flip over so that the cut side is now facing upwards. Take a fork and run it through the squash to form the "noodles". Spoon into dish, top with sauce, shredded parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs (basil and oregano).

*JoJo combines the squash and sauce to make a casserole dish, adds a little dry white wine, and then bakes it until heated.
*It would also be good with store bought spaghetti sauce if you are in a time crunch.
*Also, I thought it could be fun to serve the dish in the halved spaghetti squash.

So fun, so healthy, and so good! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Around the Sims Household

In October we have...

hopped on a plane to celebrate Cole's cousin Dan tie the knot in Rhode Island! We had a fun weekend with family.  Surprisingly, we found our time on the planes and in the airport RELAXING to be able to sit and read, a rarity for us these days. 
Forgot how EASY it is to fly...we were in Rhode
Island in just a few short hours. 
The cousins enjoying dinner together. Where are you Taylor?
The bride and groom
We squeezed in a long morning run around Narraganset Bay
and the surrounding parks.
Last weekend we had a delightful visit from Cole's grandparents. We appreciate them so much for coming to Charleston for a visit. We played the role of tourists, visiting Fort Moultrie, Charleston Tea Plantation, and Angel Oak, and took them "off the beaten path" to some of our favorite places to eat- Bowen's Island and the Tomato Shed.
Dinner at Bowen's Island
What a sunset!!
Charleston Tea Plantation
Angel Oak
Other happenings lately...

Unfortunately, my debit card information has been stolen for the second time since August. Frustrating and time-consuming to deal with this!

I have finished reading through the Bible. More to come on this later, but PRAISE THE LORD!

Also, Cole has applied for residency in internal medicine and is being invited to interviews at many schools. It is an exciting time for us! I have the month of December "off" from rotation during which we are planning to do an interview trip. The best advice Cole has received, in my opinion, is to choose somewhere where your wife will be happy. Amen! I am thankful to have some time to visit some of the programs with him!  We are seeking the Lord with this decision and for a job/career direction for me wherever we land. We covet your prayers for us.

We decided on a whim to run the Greenville Spinx Half Marathon on Saturday, and are on the 2-week training plan.  It will be his first, and my 12th...I promise to take it easy on him :) Wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sweet Potato Soup

As you may remember reading on a previous post, Cole and I enjoyed this luscious soup at Rooster's in Charlotte. 
I have been craving it ever since, and here is my home recreation. I used this recipe for Creamy Sweet Potato Soup as a base and my version is below.


  • 2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 small celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
  • 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • Marshmallows and spiced pecans for garnish


1 Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and celery and sauté for about 7 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
2 Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
3 Remove cinnamon stick and discard. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot.
4 Add half and half and maple syrup and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool soup slightly. Cover and refrigerate soup and celery leaves separately. Bring soup to simmer before continuing.) Ladle into bowls. Garnish with toasted marshmallows (broil on high for about 2 minutes) and spiced pecans (saute pecans in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon). 

Maybe not as good as Rooster's, but pretty darn close! It was good the first night, but extra yummy the second day, so I would recommend making it a day ahead. Also freezes well!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back at it

As most of you know, although I avoided this fact on my blog, Cole was in Charlotte for the month of September experiencing the internal medicine program at Carolina's. Not ideal to be apart, but we made the most of it! I went to visit him on the weekends as often as I could. While Cole worked, I spend my Saturdays at Starbucks preparing for my Grand Rounds presentation at school (which is now complete, thanks to the good Lord)! I also thoroughly enjoyed running the greenway, "bootie loop", and the Meyer's Park cross country trails. One of my favorite things we did in Charlotte was a visit to the Graham Family Homeplace. What a gem! Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. 

I have long had a love for Thomas Kinkade's work. He was known as 'the painter of light', and this hand-painted mural entitled "The Cross" lives up to his reputation. It sits floor to ceiling in the Billy Graham museum.

We also had a wonderful dinner date at Rooster's. One of the many things we enjoyed was this sweet potato soup with homemade toasted marshmallows and spiced pecans. I will definitely be trying to duplicate this one in my kitchen.  Thank you Grayson for the recommendation!

While Cole was gone, I had fun girl time with Mom, JoJo, and Marian. Mom, Marian, and I saw Beth Moore at the North Charleston Coliseum.  It was so cool to worship and listen to the Word in the midst of all these women! Look at all of us!

JoJo and Mom treated us to dinner at FIG during Restaurant Week in Charleston. FIG was probably the only restaurant not on the list. Oh well, we were craving it! FIG stands for "Food Is Good", and good it was!

Since Cole was gone, there are really no food updates. I reverted back to my college diet of hummus or cereal for dinner :) It was a nice break, but I was anxious to get back in the kitchen! Charlotte was a great experience for Cole, but I am so thankful he is home!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall is in the air!

Fall is my favorite season because I love...
running in the fall
cooking fall-themed foods
pumpkin spice lattes
crisp air
fall foliage
visiting the mountains
my fall wardrobe
quality family time over the holidays
carving pumpkins
and decorating our house...

Inspired from pinterest and supplies from Michael's, this year I made a wreath from burlap that now adorns our door. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Wholesome Breakfast Cookies?

Recently I came across these "Wholesome Breakfast Cookies" in Martha Stewart Living. I am getting up VERY early these days to exercise before work, and this on-the-go breakfast option caught my eye.  

Prior to my grocery run last week, I pulled out the dog-eared page to write down the ingredients. My friends, take a  look at this!

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried mango
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried papaya
  • 1 cup banana chips

Gasp! Not only was there 4 sticks of butter and 3 cups of sugar (and lots of other sugary dried fruits), but this recipe supposedly only makes 8 large or 16 small cookies. Let's do the math...that is 1/2 stick of butter per big cookie (or 1/4 stick of butter for each small one). That doesn't sound very wholesome to me! No wonder the nutrition info was no where to be found...

I wasn't about to make the breakfast cookies above, but I loved the idea of an on-the-go breakfast option and decided to make my own version. I tend to pour more than a serving of my usual breakfast staple, cereal, so I thought portion control would be nice too!

2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpse flour
 1 and 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 eggs
4 t. vanilla extract
4 cups rolled whole grain oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup shredded sweetened dried coconut
1 small bag of dried blueberries 
1/2 cup banana chips
(With these last ingredients, you can add or subtract anything! 
Throw in the pantry kind of thing)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flours, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter and applesauce with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar and mix. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix after each. Add vanilla, and mix. Slowly add flour mixture and beat until well combined. Add oats and remaining ingredients (again, you can use any dried fruits, nuts, oats, etc.) except for banana chips and mix together. Form into balls (about 1/2 cup each) and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Top with banana chips. Bake about 15 min or until done. 
Yield: about 3 dozen!! Plenty for this week (1 is filling enough for breakfast), and plenty to freeze for later! 

They are very tasty! Not too sweet. Not really the consistency of a cookie, but good for breakfast. 
Be careful when recipes claim to be "healthy" or "wholesome"!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Burning the Candle...

At both ends...

Busy bee me is on another ambulatory care rotation. I am also trying to prepare for my Grand Rounds presentation at school next month, squeeze in a little work, keep up my running, and 
finish reading my Bible through (When I finish we are sending my Bible off to be rebound and recovered. Good motivation! This was Cole's gift to me for our anniversary. Leather is the traditional 3rd anniversary gift. So creative!!)

Cole is busy working A TON, applying for residency (can't believe how fast time flies), and ROCKING step 2 of his medical boards. So proud of him! 

Since our third anniversary has come and gone, I have come to grips with the fact that we aren't "newlyweds" anymore. However, I haven't thought of us as an old married couple yet...until this weekend! When do you become an old married couple?? Is it when you close down the gym on a Friday night? Or when you do chores together on a Saturday night? We checked both of those off this weekend! Much needed! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A little crafting

In my month off I squeezed in a little crafting...I had a lot of ideas, but these were the only two that came to fruition. 

Prayer calendars with Brittany and Beth
I often get overwhelmed with everything I want to lift up in prayer. I love this idea of a calendar because sometimes I need a little direction in my prayers. It allows me to pray specifically for things and people throughout the week, but also the freedom skip it altogether and pour out my heart. My college one was a bit dated,  and a new one made for a fun afternoon with sweet friends at Starbucks.

Painted bud vases for Mom

I love clipping flowers and greenery from the yard.  Cole says he can tell when I've gotten the clippers to our rose bushes and black-eyed susans, but I don't believe him!  I get this from my Mom who always uses a little bit of our yard to brighten the inside. We also share a love for little tiny bud vases to put them in. Promised a few months ago, I was happy to finish these for her! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mount Mitchell

Our trip began with brunch at Tupelo Honey
in Asheville. I love this place!
View from the Blue Ridge Parkway
Pit stop at Craggy Gardens
Craggy Pinnacle Trail, best 360 view on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Yay for 3 years!! 
Happy to see this sign after 5 miles of gravel road with no signs!
Our campsite
South Toe River, flowed right beside our campsite

Mount Mitchell summit, highest point East of the Mississippi River 

Wild stargazer lillies
Setrock Creek Falls at the campground 
Cole made some great fires to cook our food on!
HoBo packs...these were our favorite thing we made!
Banana Boats for dessert. We wrapped these in tin foil
and let it all melt over the fire and ate it with a spoon.
Day 2, slept in and then hiked the big mountain
We made it! Exhausted after 6 miles straight uphill!
It was cold up here!
Unfortunately, this rolled in. It made for a wet few minutes 
on the descent...glad it was short-lived!
We should have heeded this advice!
After 12 miles of hiking, this was extra special! 

Apricot-glazed pork chops...
Cole ate 4 of them plus a leftover hobo pack!
The hike must have worked up an appetite! 
Orange Muffins
Surprisingly, the muffin tops rose directly into the
the top half of the orange. 
Probably our least favorite thing we made...orange peels
burned a little in the coals so the muffins had a very
strong orange zesty flavor. Still good to eat, but next
time I will put them on the rack instead of on the coals. 
Day 3, Crabtree Falls
Crabtree Falls
Lunch spot

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