Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rudolph is a girl

Well, according to my two year old nephew, Rudolph is a girl.


When I visited back in November, Carter decided that I had to read him "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" about 50 times a day. Not kidding. I can't tell you how many times we sang the song. So for Christmas, I decided to send him a stuffed animal Rudolph.

My sister keeps telling me that he takes it EVERYWHERE. He calls it "my baby, my favorite baby". But he also calls it "her" - "Her name Woo-dolf".

Here's proof - cell phone video, so forgive the quality. I do want to point out one thing...after Monica asks him if it's his favorite toy and he says "yes", the next thing he says is "Nana gave me Woo-dolf". Nana. NANA. Kid cannot remember that I am SISSA. Apparently, when Monica corrects him, he agrees with her that Sissa got it for him. Then he says Nana again. Oh well. I find it pretty funny :) And seriously, how cute is he?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ugly food

This is hands down the ugliest food I have ever made.

The recipe was called "Vegetarian cabbage rolls". But it really left a lot to be desired - they said to boil the veggies that go in the filling - gasp - I sautéed them instead (hello, flavor!). I used red quinoa instead of the bulgur (since bulgur has gluten in it) and decided to use the red cabbage I had on hand.

Before cabbage, when boiled, apparently goes all blue-green-mottled purple...not exactly appetizing. Next time, I stick with green cabbage. The filling is zucchini, orange bell pepper, baby portabella mushrooms, garlic, and red quinoa with thyme, basil, and marjoram. I think next time I may try ground turkey in them...

See? Ugly stuffed cabbage rolls...and I do not get how one is supposed to roll cabbage either, so mine are more like cabbage burritos/tacos that I placed strategically in the pan so they would look like rolls for the picture :)

Topped with a tomato/sriracha sauce I came up with...that wasn't bad.

In general, they are pretty tasty, as long as you don't look at them. Not sure if I am a fan of marjoram though...that was a new spice for me. I would try this recipe again, but with some more tweaking.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I've been searching for a mirror for my dining room. Here are a couple that I was eyeing:

This one is from World Market. It has a mercury glass look that I love. But it's $200, which is more than I wanted to spend

Pinned Image
This beauty is from MadeGoods - they only sell their items to home decorating stores. They gave me the stores in Houston where I could order their products, but after all that emailing I still couldn't get a price out of them...home decorating store more than likely equals out of my price range, so this one remained on the "drool over" list.

I happened to go into Marshalls HomeGoods the other day and checked out their mirrors and lo and behold found a perfect mirror, for only $40! How excited was I?

It's got this great mercury/bronze/metal-wirey thing going on.

And here you go (it's actual level, that was a proud moment). Now to find a vintage-y cabinet to sit on the left hand side of the mirror for some dining stuff and to add a few more things on the wall - needs some color pops and blue is what I am going with.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Flourless cupcakes?

I found a recipe for flourless chocolate cupcakes.

I like the simplicity of this recipe - just a handful of ingredients.

Note to self - if I plan to do more of these "flourless" recipes, I really need to invest in a better food processor. My itty bitty black and decker one just about died trying to get the chocolate and almonds to a "consistency of coarse sand"...the mixture ended up more like semi-fine I was a bit worried on how they would bake...

Ready to go in the oven (see the 'gravel' in the center of each cup? - that's why I was worried)

And the result - not bad at all. Even my roomie liked them. They are incredibly rich and definitely didn't need frosting, but thankfully the texture ended up being nice - not too gravelly. I would make these again - maybe in a mini-size, since they are so rich...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Art Project

I'm hooked on Pinterest (a virtual bulletin board where you can pin all sorts of ideas) and I found this artwork on there and decided to make my own.

"It is Well with My Soul" by Horatio G. Spafford is one of my favorite hymns and has come to mean even more to me over the past year and half, so using it in some art is a perfect addition to my home.

I started with a 11 X 14 canvas that I got on sale at Aaron Brothers (2-pack for $7!). All the other supplies I already had (finally a good use for all the sample cans of paint I have!)

All yellow!

Using my Cricut, I cut out the letters and fixed them with temporarily removable adhesive. The blue color I wanted was actually in the form of spray paint. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, I should have just spray painted the canvas, but I wanted brushy strokes on the canvas and for some yellow to show through, hard to achieve when just spraying. So, I sprayed the paint into a plastic container so I could dip the brush in it...

That was messy (my nails are still blue-ish)

But it worked! Although, the temporarily removable adhesive was definitely temporary, and the letters moved with the a lot more blue showed up. Easily fixed by hand brushing some yellow in...

And voila! Finished product. I love it :)

(that nifty metal robot was an awesome Christmas present from my roomie...I named him something, but I don't remember what it was...)

Thank you Pinterest!

Oh here are the words to the hymn in case you are interested:

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.
    • Refrain:
      It is well, with my soul,
      It is well, it is well, with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

Early this morning, my running buddy Lisa and I drove up to downtown Houston to watch the 2012 Olympic marathon trials. I was so excited to all of these amazing runners that I have read about for the past 4 years in person!

We got a great location to watch and the course set up was perfect for spectating. These are amazing athletes. Meb Keflegzighi placed first in the men's race and averaged a 4:55 min mile. ::jaw drop:: That's INSANE. Double that and that's my pace...on a good day! The women's winner, Shalane Falagan averaged5 a 5:33 mile. I am in awe.

Here are a bunch of pictures:

All ready to cheer on the Olympic hopefuls!

As I was trying to take a good picture of the starting line, this really annoying guy leaned into my photo...and then I realized it was my friend Brian (I visited him and his family in India)! I couldn't believe I ran into him and his oldest son, Corbin, in a mass of thousands of people!

The men, just before the gun

The women waiting for the "Set" call

Our Olympian men! I was so thrilled to see Ryan Hall (left) run past several times. He is such an amazing runner and gives God all the glory!

I love this picture - the 3 women Olympians comforting the 4th place woman, who actually led for part of the race. I love the sportsmansship and true camaraderie.

Our Olympian women!

Truly an amazing event to witness! Go USA! :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anoint me

Love this from Susannah Spurgeon's "Free Grace and Dying Love":

(Inspired from Psalm 92:10 "you have poured over me fresh oil")

"Anoint me for service, Lord, in all I do for you, either directly or indirectly, there may be manifested the power of the Holy Spirit, and the wholehearted earnestness which only he can supply.

Anoint me for sacrifice, so that contrary to my sinful nature, self may be overcome, and bound, and crucified, that Christ alone may reign in my mortal body.

Anoint me for suffering, if so it be your will, that I may praise you as I pass through the waters and the fires of affliction.

Anoint me for intercession, Oh my father, that for others, as well as for myself, I may plead with you, and may prevail."

Yes, anoint me Lord.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My new running style

Remember how I said I was going to re-train myself to not subconsciously shorten my stride when I run so my IT band would behave (if not, read here)? (by the way, may I add that it's very difficult to unlearn something you learned subconsciously?...)

I'm pretty sure this is what I look like when I try to lengthen my stride (it's only a 7 second clip and you will still get my point with mute on)

I feel all off balance and floppy and, well...Phoebe-ish.

Good news though, I just got back from a 2.3 mile run, and I just ran and told myself to run natural and the IT band behaved pretty well. A little sore now, but before Christmas, I could only make it about 0.8 miles. That's improvement!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First attempt

First attempt at gluten free baking that is...everything I have baked prior to this has been from a mix. So I chose a simple recipe to start - it had 5 ingredients: almond flour, agave nectar, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt.

I made these for Christmas (hence the snowflake and star shapes). I wouldn't use this recipe for roll-out cookies again - the dough is incredible sticky and fragile. I had to reshape every cut out once I put it on the cookie sheet. I ended up rolling the remaining dough into small balls and flattening with a fork - still tasty! Sprinkled the cookies with powdered sugar. I'm calling them Almond Cookies :).

Ready to begin the tedious process of transferring the cut outs from the parchment paper to the cookie sheet


I made a run to Whole Foods today to get some coconut flour and white rice flour. I have two recipes I want to try: Lemon Yogurt Cake and Flourless Chocolate cupcakes. Oh yum.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review!

Ah the first book review of the new year!

The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge

This book is about how we always think the grass is always greener on the other side. If we can just get out of our situation, things will be better. This is a book that I am reading twice. The first time, I couldn't put it down. I like to underline and make notes in books like these, but I couldn't because I was too anxious to turn the page! The author is hilarious - he writes with a sarcastic, self-effacing voice that shows that he is learning contentment even as he writes the book (truly, he and his wife were house searching during the time the book was written so he adds little "lessons learned" throughout the pages). The meat of this book is centered around this statement:

"The truth is, biblical contentment can't be learned unless something else is unlearned. Contentment can't be put on without first ripping something else out. The only way to grow in contentment is to undergo the process of identifying and destroying the idols in our lives. This always hurts, but the results are wonderful"

And his definition of idols (as side from the ones he says are in Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark :) ), is that the act of idolatry is loving anything more than God.

Throughout the book, Mr. Altrogge addresses contentment in trials, in everyday life, discusses complaining - each smacking you with conviction and a new awareness of the words that come out of your mouth or the thoughts that flit through your mind - and directs you to the only place where true joy can be found - in Jesus Christ. Excellent reading.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I really can't say enough good things about this trilogy. I read almost the entire first book on the plane ride from Houston to Phoenix. I'm a fast reader, but even that's a bit ridiculous. I could not turn the pages fast enough. The writing style is fantastic, told from the main character, Katniss Everdeen's, point of view. Throughout the trilogy, I actually gasped at a couple of points, surprised by some plot twists (oh yeah, and did a little arm pump towards the end when I guessed something correctly :) ). This triology is based on a Dystopian world - i.e. opposite of perfect (Utopian). It's set in the future. The US is no more, but is now a Capitol surrounded by 12 districts. Years ago, the districts rebelled against the Capitol, lost, and now, as a reminder that they should NEVER rebel again, the districts must participate in The Hunger Games. A forced "Olympics" of sorts - 1 girl and 1 boy (aged 12-18) are randomly selected from each district to compete. And it's a battle to the death. There, now you've read pretty much what they tell you in the movie trailer for the first book. If you ever read Anne McCaffery's "Freedom" series, you will enjoy these books. If you haven't, you will enjoy these books. Bottom line, you will enjoy these books. Read them. (please :) ).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gluten free - 1 year

Hard to believe, but it's true. I've been eating gluten free for an entire year.

Now remember, my definition of gluten free does not include sauces that might have vinegar, items with modified food starch, etc - I call these things "minor gluten" and don't try to avoid them. I do avoid major gluten items, like pastas, cookies, crackers, breads, etc that have regular wheat flour/gluten in them. I am thankful that I don't have to be strict gluten free like someone with Celiac would have to be.

Eating gluten free hasn't done what I hoped it would do - I wanted it to help with reducing inflammation in body in hopes that my flares would be less painful. Well, not only were my flares painful this year, but I had my longest one ever since being diagnosed. Disappointing, yes, but there still is a glimmer of gluten free hope.

I have solid evidence now that my G.I issues are gluten related. How do I know? In December, I started slowly reintroducing gluten. I ate a piece of zucchini bread. No problems. I waited a few days, ate another piece of bread. No problems. Then I went a bit crazy while putting a goodie plate together for some friends and ended up eating two pieces of zucchini bread and a piece of poppy seed bread. Oh, did I pay for that. Horrible stomach cramps and let's just call it other G.I. issues. Even days later, I wasn't processing food like I normally do. So, I stopped with the bread experiments. When I got to Arizona, I munched on these awesome non-gluten free crackers my mom makes. They are addicting. And I over did it. Thankfully, the reaction wasn't as violent, but my body definitely wasn't happy. So, the great thing about this discovery, is that I can cheat when it comes to gluten, as long as it is in small amounts. This means, I can have a cookie that someone brings into work... A cookie (not 3). I can have a small piece of cake to celebrate someone's birthday.

So, I plan on smartly implementing the cheating plan and maintaining my gluten free diet because of the benefits that I have seen. I am calling my gluten free experiment a success, despite not getting the desired results.