Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nanny's Chili

{Now that we're on a plant-strong, vegan diet, I replace the ground turkey with TVP granules}

Growing up, we always ate very healthy. So much so that I had to make up for lost time at my friend's houses when we'd have sleepovers. Chips and dip at midnight? Yes please! Reese's Puff Cereal for breakfast? Of course! Not that my parents forbid us from eating junk, they just tended not to buy it. Jack or Moses will be lamenting this same thing later in life because naturally, I'm a healthy or go home kind of parent myself. Come one come all for organic, all natural snacks. But woe betide you if you offer my child something with high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils in it. However, I won't make them eat brussel sprouts like my mother did. No matter how many times she'd say, "They taste good!" it never resulted in my taste buds changing their minds. I still don't get why we were made to eat them. Ok sure, they're packed with vitamins or something. But so is a gummy vitamin that tastes like candy, so give me that instead and we'll call it even.

Brussel sprouts aside, I loved and still love my mom's cooking. One of my favorite dishes is her chili recipe which is healthy but hearty. I'm pretty sure it's won awards (at the chili cook-off at my parent's church). I'm probably the only one in the family that makes it now, since everyone else is making a veggie chili recipe I introduced them to when I was vegetarian. The last time I used that recipe was when we were first married and I made a giant batch. We ate it for dinner one night and then I gave it to Tim in his lunches for the rest of the week. Seriously. Poor guy. He can't take a bite of that chili now without gagging. I think its the sweet potato.

Anyways, back to the real chili. So it's my mom's recipe but I'm calling it Nanny's Chili because it sounds better than "Mom's Chili" which sounds gross, no? In our family, we call the grandmothers "Nanny" - I think it must be a Canadian thing. So naturally, my mom is Nanny to the grandkids. Unless you're Jack in which case you're "Neena" formally known as "Nee."

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey (for vegan, use TVP)
1 red pepper
1-2 onions
2 garlic cloves
3 TBSP olive oil (for plant strong, just use water or broth)
28 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
15 oz can kidney beans
2 TBSP chili powder + 1/2 TSP black pepper (if you like your chili on the spicier side, double this)
2 TBSP paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Dice red pepper, onions and garlic cloves

Brown the meat. 

Saute the onions, pepper and garlic in olive oil until tender and brown.
Add to meat.

Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

Rinse the beans.

Mash about half of them.

Tend to your child who has been crying the whole time.

Once child is calm, add your spices and stir.

Let simmer on low for 1-2 hours.

Serve with crusty bread. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hello, Canada

We just got back from a 48 hour trip to Canada. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing so it went fast and felt too short. But it was so needed! It felt freeing to get out of Cleveland and have a change of scenery. At first it took some convincing because gas is so expensive. But then Allie and James offered to cover the cost which was such a blessing. James also promised that we'd "eat healthy" if we agreed to travel up. As if junk food was the main reason I was hesitant. "Oh is there going to be unhealthy food involved? Oh well count me out then. I won't be visiting until you've purged all saturated fats from your cupboards." It was a nice thought though. We basically just ate the whole time. Not really, but it felt like it. After a healthy vegetable stir fry Saturday night Allie commented that she felt really "clean" after eating it. I agreed.  It was quickly countered by sifting through a bucket of new and old candy that made me feel sick.

It's funny that when you have kids, your vacation activities always center around what they'd like to do rather than what the adults are interested in. There's never any talk of what the majority (the parents) would prefer but rather what the smaller, pickier, more likely to get bored minority would like to do. So off to Waterloo Park we went to see the animals - most of which were no where to be found because oh, it was about 40 degrees farenheit (4 celsius) and totally freezing.

We did witness a peacock trying to woo a female counterpart.
This is what's happening here:
Male: "I'm amazing"
Female: "Meh"

Since nobody was having fun standing out in the cold, we decided to make our rounds at the Superstore. Now...for those of you who aren't Canadian, Superstore is on par with Target (and in some ways...better. Don't tell me to take it back. It's true.) Superstore isn't called Super for nothing. It's a fully stocked supermarket with not as many home goods as Target but amazing Joe brand clothes. Tim and I agreed that if we lived in Canada we'd probably shop for our wardrobe exclusively at Superstore. We'd be Joe brand models.  That said, $20 for a shirt is still out of our price range so we settled on a clearance pair of slippers for Jack that cost us $4. Worth every penny. Oh, and we got a bag of bulk bin corn nuts because its just what we do.

Hey Tim, if you read this can I just say that the cd you made for the car ride was uh-mazing? Seriously. Good picks babe. Track #76 - Great is Our God by Young Oceans is what we're listening to now (we're on the road, somewhere in Ohio) and its making this whole post feel really epic as a backing soundtrack.

Wow am I ready to be out of the car. Jack has dropped his pacifier and juice down by his feet a thousand times. And I don't think it was always "on accident." So now he's crying because I reached my limit of neck-craning, arm-straining, body-contorting attemps at getting them back. Ahhh car rides.

Anyways,  it was a good trip - despite my still feeling a bit sick from the strange mix of foods we ate. And that nerve racking moment at the border on the way home when I couldn't find my permanent resident card so we pulled over to the side and put on the hazards while I scrambled to locate it and one of the scary border police started moving towards us ready to shoot us for loitering. Not really, but maybe. Don't worry, I found it just in the nick of time. Otherwise I'd be writing this from jail. Not really, but maybe.

We started training Jack to be a Canadian Mountie at an early age.
Our plight continues.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This is Me.

Sometimes I find windows open on my computer with old search engine entries. Like just a few minutes ago I clicked on a window I'd forgotten to close, and there staring at me from the Google search bar was 'Haley Joel Osment.' No joke. Why? Because I swear I saw him in a car commercial last night. I was wrong. For some reason I found this all very funny. I mean... its Haley Joel I-See-Dead-People Osment who hasn't been in a movie in years and I was probably the only person on earth Googling his name. But I'm pretty sure whoever reads this will think, "Why is she wasting my time with this story?"

Here are some other very critical things about me that I thought you should know:

I often get words stuck in my head whose definitions are unknown to me. By stuck I mean I'll be going about my day and the word will pop into my head and keep repeating itself. This has happened twice with the word diatribe. I have yet to ever use it in conversation. If you don't know the meaning of the word diatribe, look it up. I had to.

On the very rare occasion we'd eat at McDonald's growing up, I'd often go for the fries before the rest of the Happy Meal (it's all about the toy, peeps). So my mom would always say "Lauren, eat your hamburger please" because that's the most nutricious part of the meal, right? Twenty years later I watch Super Size Me and realize the fries were probably the safest part.

I hate shoelaces. They are what stand between me and going off and doing what I need to right this instant. I try to avoid shoes that have laces which is why I buy Toms and flats and flip flops. I have a pair of tennis shoes that I love but they have laces so its a bittersweet relationship. If there's an outfit I'm wearing that looks best with the lace-ups I'll stand in front of the shoe rack trying to decide whether I want to exert the effort to untie the laces (because you know I just slipped them off last time I wore them instead of untying them) and then retie them. In the time it takes me to make this decision, I probably could have just done the job.

That is all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Best Black Bean Dip EVAHHHHHH

See that title? If I was reading it to you, I would totally yell the "evahhhh!" part because it's that GOOD. "Holy Moses is it delicious" as my Nan Cresswell would say. I mean, it's so good you should go out and buy some black beans right now, unless you're like me and always get sucked in to Heinen's 10 for $10 on cans of beans and now have thousands of legumes squirreled away.

But I digress. Here's the recipe, complete with pictures! Although if there's one recipe pictures don't do justice to (or any good for that matter) it's this, because it basically just looks like poop.

I'm calling this Judy's Black Bean Dip, because my mom discovered it while she was on a Daniel Fast and I would often show up for lunch at her house (uninvited) in case she happened to have some in the fridge.

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
3 cups of black beans, rinsed (28 oz can)
3/4 cup salsa
Shredded chedder cheese (my mom subbed in nutritional yeast since she was off dairy, so I did the same)
Sea salt to taste (1/2 tsp to start. I ended up using about 1 tsp)
Pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in a little water until tender.

Mash about half of the beans and add to the pan.

Add cumin, salt and pepper.

Stir in the salsa

Stir in shredded cheese. Or, you can use nutritional yeast which looks like fish food but tastes kind of like cheese and cuts down on calories.

Serve warm. Eat with corn chips!
(Thanks to Tim for his fabulous hand modeling)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Normal Day

Some days are tough. Days when I wake up and totally feel like the people on those commercials for anti-depressant medications where the narrator says things like "Do you have a hard time facing the day?" and they cut to a shot of someone lying in their bed in the middle of the afternoon.

Yep, today was one of those days. Except I was up by 7:30 because the boys needed things like food and diaper changes and so...you know, staying in bed all day is not an option. But nevertheless, I was feeling pretty low. Usually I have lots of positive self-talk going on and a very thankful heart to back it up. But today all I could think about was what wasn't going the way I wanted it to in my life.

I don't know where I'm going with this exactly, except to say that today...was a rainy day in my heart. And this is a blog and therefore a picture of my life and "the story of us" as it were and sometimes that story hits a dry spell where it feels like nothing is happening. But on those days, where normal feels dull...I'm reminded of this quote from Mary Jean Iron (whoever that is...)

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Judy!

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday but we celebrated today. I love my mom. I always say that as the boys get older they'll always know that my parents are two of my best friends and two of the greatest people they will ever know.

My mom is special for lots of reasons but I think the thing most people walk away with after meeting her is a sense that they just encountered a very genuine, kind-hearted woman. She's a servant of the rarest kind, the type of person who doesn't think twice about putting others before herself. Always helpful. Always generous. She puts me to shame when it comes to being a mother and she could win awards in the grandmother department. She's one of those people who I feel that no matter how long I live, I will never be able to repay all her kindnesses to me. She's amazing.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shop at my Shop!

I'm dipping my big toe in the waters of selling my artwork online. Visit my "shop"! Let me draw something for you! You'll help pay for Jack and Moses' diapers :)

Click on the birdboxink shop link on the tab bar (above). 
Or click here if you're like me and have a hard time finding things.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Resolution Check-In

I wanted to give resolutions another shot this year after 2011's fell totally flat. This year's list was a bit more realistic (you can find it here) and I'm happy to say that I've made quite a bit of progress considering it's only April. I also seemed to pick goals that are happening naturally rather than as a result of major personal butt-kicking. Although I'm pretty sure personal butt-kicking is the point of a resolution. But whatever. Point is - I'M KICKING BUTT ON GETTIN' IT DONE! Here's the diggity deal:

1} I think I've definitely been more intentional in reaching out to different people and trying to be a blessing in their lives. I have serious social anxiety at times, so this is probably one of the more difficult resolutions I made and definitely the one that requires the most concerted effort. Um, did I just say that it takes concerted effort to be nice to people? That's not how I meant it. But seriously - I think I've been intentional in this area. I also started leading a small group with some young women at my church which is a big step for me. We're going to be reading Loving Your Husband by Cynthia Heald.  Based on the cover of the book it looks totally lame city but its a very solid study.

2} I was "cleared for exercise" just over a month ago (after having the baby) and I've been a little slow on the uptake. When I'm pregnant I'm always like "As soon as I'm allowed to exercise, I'm going to be out there sprinting with a 40 lb backpack on!" In actuality, I tend to use my free time for naps or eating - both tof which don't promote getting down to my pre-pregnancy weight. However, in the past several weeks I've been taking hour long walks with the boys (pushing what feels like a 40 lb double stroller) and doing some more intense workouts in the morning. All that said, I'm also trying to approach "getting in shape" with a healthy, no pressure mindset where its not about looking a certain way but being healthful.

3} This one is (sadly) probably the biggest challenge for me. I tend to read Scripture in small snippets (like a chapter here and there or a Psalm or two) rather than sitting down and reading a book of the Bible from beginning to end. I don't know whether its that I have a short attention span or am just lazy, but either way this is an area that needs improvement. Thank goodness God is still faithful to feed me in other ways - not that it gives me excuse to stop being in the Word!

4} I am so on the ball with this one. I've been drawing a lot more, taking pictures, making bunting for the boys room.... the creativity is just flowing these days. 

5} I'm doing well in this area too. I mean, I still have that horrendous closet to sort out (the one where everything is literally balancing on top of eachother from top to bottom with absolutely no order whatsoever) and a few other areas of the house that have unwanted-unused-unsightly items stuffed into their darker corners, but on a large scale I've simplified quite a bit. There's always room for improvement here, obviously.

So that's me. 
Did you make any resolutions for 2012? 
If so, how are you doing in the follow-through department?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reese Turns 7

My nephew Reese turns 7 tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this). Five things you should know about Reese:

  1. He loves his stuffed lion Judah. They are best friends.
  2. He's a bundle of energy and ideas.
  3. He's an amazing drummer (for a 7 year old).
  4. He loves food (no, but seriously. like to the point that he reads cook books).
  5. He likes reading the Calvin & Hobbes comic books.
Facts 1 and 5 helped me to create a personalized (free!) birthday gift for him that I'm really hoping he loves! I had about an hour's window to draw it (while the kids napped) which is why its not totally precise, but I'm still pretty happy with it.
click to enlarge

Baby News!

Nope, I'm not pregnant. Did you think I was?


Last week our friends James and Danielle came over to take pictures for their baby announcement. So exciting! Tim and I both teared up when they first told us a few months ago and it was an honor to be a part of announcing it to the rest of the world. I love how these shots turned out! They came up with all the conceptual pieces (i.e. the fruit/chalkboard/wording) and I was flattered when they asked me to be the photographer! You can see how I repurposed that chalkboard here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

When Love Sees You

He has a plan for all of us. What's holding you back from discovering His plan for you?

(the still shot on this video makes it looks as if its really cheesy/comedic. it's not. chills at 3:33)

He is Risen!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Barber Shop

Dear Jack,

Yesterday you had your third haircut (fourth really, but we won't count the time I cut it because it was more of a massacre). Nanny wanted to take you to the barber shop to get a trim.

When we got there, we definitely looked out of place because the average age in there was around 60. You sat on a little board across the chair and they put a giant apron over your clothes and you looked very stoic and solemn as the lady began her work. There was an old man getting his hair cut next to you and at times your chairs would face each other but neither of you said anything or even smiled, you just stared at each other. It was strange and cute at the same time. Sorry I didn't have my camera - this whole thing was a spur of the moment idea.

You seemed a little unsure of having to sit still while a razor buzzed in your ear (fair enough) so you kept saying "Done?" and wanting to get down. But we held your patience with the promise of a treat which I knew all along was a Dum Dum sucker and would have to be taken away as soon as we got in the car (choking hazard).  Nanny threw out the promise of a popsicle though and then you were ok.

Afterwards, you liked telling us that you got your hair cut and then you'd clap and yell "yay!" which was weird because no one else cheered about it. But hey, whatever floats your tiny boat. Here's a picture of you eating your popsicle after your hair cut. You were really pumped about it.

And that's the story of the time you went to the Barber Shop. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My life in 4 seconds.

Ok, seriously..seriously. I can't wait any longer. It's almost Easter. It's practically Sunday. I'm breaking my own rule and posting about the everyday because let's be honest, God is in the everyday and it's in the everyday that He meets me. This has been a good exercise for me tho - I needed to take the time to share my faith in a no nonsense way. I hope it encouraged some of you. It served as a good reminder for me.

So what have you missed since I drove off of the regularly scheduled program? Not a whole lot. Just a lot of children raising. Here is a video of what my life feels like at the moment - summed up in exactly 4 seconds.

I didn't even mean to take this. I think my camera must have been accidently switched to movie mode. Or I was just checking to see if the battery was working. Either way, it's a pretty accurate portrayal of what happens in the Myers home most afternoons: Jack standing at the kitchen gate begging for crackers and Moses screaming his tiny head off somewhere in the background.

Jack is serious about his crackers.


All day long he wants a cracker. From the minute he wakes up to the moment he goes to bed. He has my determined spirit - he will keep asking until he gets what he wants. It's effective my son.... your mom knows from experience. But maybe be a little less determined about the frivolous things in life... like crackers. When you're looking for a job? You just keep asking until they give you the top position. You're not even two yet though, so fair enough, I'll cut you some slack.

Speaking of determination, Moses is so onto the whole "cry and they will come" method. Boy does that kid have a set of lungs. He's is a marathon crier. Unless he's being held in which case he promptly falls asleep. Woe betide you who sets him down again though. Because the crying will commence once more. He also has the uncanny ability of falling asleep immediately after the stroller starts moving but will wake up just as quickly as soon as it comes to a complete stop.

Yes, life with boys is nary a quiet one. But they are beyond sweet and completely adorable and I love them.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Daily Reminder

The other day our good friends, James and Danielle, came over so I could take pictures for their baby announcement (I'll post about that next week). They brought a little chalkboard with them as a prop and when we were all done I mentioned how I wanted to get something similar so that it could be an "art piece" around the house. Instead Danielle and I arm wrestled for it and I won so now it's mine. Actually, she left it with me free and clear because she's nice like that.

It didn't take me long to decide what to do with it - use it as a rotating Scripture board! There are little hints around our house that we're livin' for the Lord, but nothing that really serves as a great reminder of Who we serve, why He's so awesome and what we should do in response. The Scripture board (I just made that term up right now) is such a great way to achieve all three - especially since you can keep changing the verse based on what God's speaking to you that day or week or whatever. I placed my board on the coat rack by our front door in our main room where we spend the most time so that it's easily spotted and easily seen when I need some encouragement.

It's such a simple verse but it's been on my brain ever since the Aaron Gillespie worship night we attended where I cried a lot and Tim worshipped like a crazy man and we left wanting more. Anyways, among so many other incredible Truths, Aaron kept saying "God is for us!" and it really resounded with my heart . GOD IS FOR US. He's on our side. That's amazing. What more do we need?

Here's the full paragraph where the verse comes from (Romans 8:31-39) which in its entirety is even more incredible:

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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