Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Smoothie Tricks

I have a new tradition. Making a smoothie each day as a mid-morning snack or an afternoon treat has become a ritual for me over the last few months, and I don't think I could ever go back to our pre-blender days. (We didn't even buy a fancy one--just this cute, inexpensive, single-serving red blender from Target.) I have a very fast metabolism and snacks are important for me, and I've discovered that smoothies make for an ideal mid-day boost. 

In their most simple form, smoothies are healthy and delicious and cover several of the food groups all at once. I start with a few scoops of plain yogurt, frozen fruit (usually strawberries and blueberries), half of a fresh banana, and orange juice. But the wonderful thing about smoothies is that they can so easily be packed with all kinds of additional good-for-you nutrients and health foods. I've figured out how to turn a basic smoothie into a superfood by throwing in some pretty powerful mix-ins.

Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and I recently discovered that you should try to use ground flax seeds as opposed to whole (which I used to use) because the body can digest these more easily. I add a tablespoon or two. Throwing in a handful of rolled oats is a good way to get additional grains in my diet. I eat steel cut oats when I'm making oatmeal, but rolled oats blend up easily and so they are great for smoothies. I'd heard a lot about chia seeds but only recently bought them and began using them. Unlike flax seeds, they don't need to be ground up for us to digest them properly, and they have sort of a poppy seed-like texture that is quite pleasant. Chia seeds have more antioxidants than blueberries, and are another wonderful source of omega-3s. Additionally, there is some quality about them that causes the smoothie to thicken a little bit when they're blended in.  

Adding grapeseed oil (a tablespoon or two) to my smoothies is a more recent trick. This might seem quite odd or even repulsive to you! But I don't even notice either the taste or the texture of the oil in my smoothies--grapeseed oil is very light in flavor and consistency, so it's totally masked. Grapeseed oil is full of healthy fats and omega-3s and 6s, and is also a very good source of vitamin E. Great for your heart, your skin, and your overall health. 

Another trick I have is to toss in a good-sized handful of raw baby spinach. I do this after the smoothie has been fully blended with everything else. We all know how good spinach is for us, especially when raw, and I had a theory that I wouldn't even taste the spinach because the fruit and its acidity would be over-powering. I was right. I know it seems weird to add vegetables to a fruit smoothie, but it comes at no cost! Only benefit.

That's all there is to it! Would you try any of these mix-ins? Do you have any other ideas?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lasting Love

A few weeks ago I read an essay by Kierkegaard in Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar, a book that I've written about before on Something Ivory. After chatting for a few hours with our newly-engaged friends yesterday, I suppose that marriage is at the forefront of my mind! The essay is called "Lasting Love"--it's short and lovely and I underlined all kinds of things as I read. Here's an excerpt:

Quite true, one does love only once, but with the years woman increases particularly in beauty and is so far from diminishing that the first beauty is somewhat questionable when compared with the later. Indeed, who, unless he is desperately in love, has not looked at a young girl without sensing a certain sadness because the fragility of mortal life shows itself here in its most extreme contrasts: vanity as swift as a dream, beauty as fair as a dream. But however fair that first beauty is, it is still not the truth; it is an envelope, a garment, from which only with the years does the true beauty extricate itself before the husband's grateful eyes.... As a bride, woman is more beautiful than as a maiden; as a mother she is more beautiful than as a bride; as a wife and mother she is a good word in season, and with the years she becomes more beautiful. 

The whole essay is full of gems of wisdom just like this. Kierkegaard sure does present a spectacular picture of what marriage can be, especially if you read the whole essay--love that lasts and grows, wisdom that enriches, beauty that multiplies. That's the kind of marriage I aspire to!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Currently: Volume 14

We had such a joyful Sunday morning! One of our very good friends from college, who was also a groomsman in our wedding, happened to be driving through our neck of the woods so we invited him over for a breakfast of spinach and cheese soufflé, ham, and coffee cake. The best part was that he brought his beautiful new fiancée along with him! I say "new" because they have been engaged for only one week--you can read their adorable proposal story as told by his mother (who has become a dear blog friend of mine) by clicking here.

It was such a pleasure to celebrate with them both at this incredibly special time in their lives. This was our first time meeting our friend's other half, and we think she's absolutely lovely! They are clearly so right for each other. We wish them all the love and joy in the world!

Here's the happy couple along with my goofy husband!

Reading blogs and news this afternoon!

Writing some post ideas for this week.

Listening to the dishwasher running--I created a lot of dirty dishes this morning!

Thinking about how wonderful it is to have friendships that I know will be lifelong.

Smelling nothing at the moment!

Wishing it wasn't so humid here--I can't believe it's only late April and the humidity has already set in. I'm meant to live much farther North, I really am.

Hoping to see more of these particular friends soon. They live in Charlottesville, just about halfway between where my parents live (Washington, D.C.) and where my in-laws live (Lynchburg) so we're thinking a trip sometime soon is in order!

Wearing grey leggings and a chambray top.

Drinking a big glass of water.

Loving love! Being around a happy, newly-engaged couple brings back wonderful memories from that time when I couldn't stop staring at my ring or reading books on becoming a godly wife, and I remember the joy being overwhelming.

Wanting a cat nap this afternoon.

Needing to go on a long walk, after the cat nap! I didn't get any exercise yesterday and I'm feeling itchy to get outside and stretch my legs.

Feeling happy that my mother-in-law will get to see my parents' new houseboat tomorrow when she drives through D.C. on her way home from New York. I only wish I could be there too!

Clicking this article on the Bush Library dedication. My parents were at the events this week in Dallas (my Dad was President Bush's Domestic Policy Advisor for two and a half years) and they had a fantastic time!

I hope you have a blessed and wonderful Sunday. 
Read more Sunday Currently posts by visiting Lauren's blog!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Playing Bach

Playing the music of Bach is one of my therapies (playing, and listening to, Mozart is another one). There is something healing and restorative in sitting down and playing a Bach fugue. It is orderly, yet beauty is at its center, and I find that whatever might be bothering me at the time just melts away. In fact, I find it hard to be consumed by my 21st-century worries when Bach is at my fingertips--there is peace in hundreds-of-years-old music that makes me feel small and insignificant (in a good way). What I'm struggling with today is just a blip. Bach reminds me of this.

I was describing to one of my students a few days ago the power of muscle memory. The subject was scales--I was telling him that with time and practice and repetition, his fingers will get to know the C Major scale so thoroughly that he won't have to think about what finger comes next, or when to cross over or under. His hands will know what to do, and he will be able to focus on subtler points like tone and clarity and evenness when practicing his scales.

I used a Bach fugue as an example. I told him that I worked on this particular piece very hard my senior year of college, but that I hadn't played it very much since then. I explained how complex it is and that I no longer had it memorized. I said that I pulled out the music a few days ago to reacquaint myself with it and very often, my fingers were ahead of my mind. In several very difficult spots, where I thought I would have to pause and remind myself of the notes and how to play them, my hands actually knew what to do. My body remembered when my mind did not.

Obviously, you would never rely solely on muscle memory. It's only one piece of the puzzle. But it's sort of an awesome thing to experience (in the truest sense), and a powerful lesson in just how much our bodies are capable of.

Having my beloved teacher's scribbles to guide me didn't hurt, either.

If a few practice sessions with a Bach fugue can bring on all of these thoughts and experiences, perhaps I should make it a habit to take the advice of Wu Han, a wonderful pianist who I played for once in a master class in grad school. She said in that class that all of us pianists should play Bach every single day, whether or not we're preparing for a recital or performance. She said that it's so good for our fingers, our minds, and our souls, and that Bach should become part of our daily routine--like eating breakfast.

I like that idea. I think I'll try it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lean In To Your Marriage

I really enjoyed reading this lovely take on the ever-hip and ever-controversial subject of Sheryl Sandberg's new book. Here's an excerpt to pique your curiosity:

"I intentionally give my all to my husband and marriage every day because when I retire from the workforce, I want to make sure I’ve created a family that’s built to last.  I want to have a marriage I thoroughly enjoy and a husband who never ceases to make me smile.  I don’t want to wake up in my fifties and realize I’ve got a fat bank account and a skinny relationship.

So if you want to know if I believe in the concept of Lean In, absolutely!  The only difference is I am focused on leaning in to what matters most in the long run: God, family and friends."

Click here to read the rest. And leave your thoughts--I'd love to know what you think!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Homemade Trail Mix

I have an unofficial motto in the kitchen that stems from my childhood and that I try my best to stick with--Don't Buy Anything You Can Make Yourself. This isn't a rigid rule, and I allow myself leeway on plenty of things. Things like tomato sauce, or orange marmalade, or pickles, or pasta noodles. I could make each of these myself, and once in a while I may, but I've found that high quality versions of each of these are not hard to find in stores, and they're usually not too pricey or processed, so I have no problem purchasing them.

But for so many foods, quality and taste and nutrition are all sacrificed when they are store-bought. Time may be saved, but money probably isn't. And while it's typically more convenient to buy, it's usually more fun, healthy, and tasty to make. These are the kinds of trade-offs I like to consider.

Some of the foods I always make, never buy, are basil pesto, granola, salad dressing, almost any dessert (I even made Oreos once), and--the subject of today's post--trail mix. This trail mix is so simple and basic that I don't know if I can even claim to have "made" it--I just combined four delicious ingredients in a bowl. But it's worth sharing precisely because of the simplicity. Sure, there are a million varieties of trail mix available in stores, but when it's so easy, so delicious, so healthful to make your own, why buy?

I started making this trail mix in grad school, when my days started at 6 am and ended at 8 pm, and I needed fuel to keep me going all day. This is a little bit more "grown up" than the traditional trail mix of M&Ms, peanuts, and raisins, and much better for you. 

Raw Almonds
Roasted and Salted Pumpkin Seeds (also called Pepitas)
Dried cranberries or cherries (cherries are especially decadent)
Semi-sweet chocolate chunks

The raw almonds and the salty pumpkin seeds are full of crunch and a good amount of healthy fats. The dried fruit is tangy and chewy, and the chocolate chunks provide a not-too-sweet bit of sugariness. It's also beautiful and colorful, isn't it? I love the pops of green and red, and the chocolate chunks look so rustic. It would make for a lovely gift, too.

What do you love to make homemade?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Music for Babies

Credit: NYTimes

I read this very sweet and touching story in the New York Times a few days ago that I'd like to share.  The article is about how music can soothe and calm babies who were born too early, and how music therapy has become a way for premature babies to begin to acclimate to life outside the womb, a reality they weren't quite ready for. Here's a quote from the piece:

"The researchers concluded that live music, played or sung, helped to slow infants’ heartbeats, calm their breathing, improve sucking behaviors important for feeding, aid sleep and promote states of quiet alertness. Doctors and researchers say that by reducing stress and stabilizing vital signs, music can allow infants to devote more energy to normal development."

This is a really beautiful discovery. As a musician, and a hopeful someday mother, I've always been fascinated by the idea of playing music for babies still in the womb. Remember that lovely scene in Mr. Holland's Opus where Mr. Holland plays music to his pregnant wife's belly? I was also so moved when I learned that pianist Simone Dinnerstein (made famous by her recording of the "Goldberg" Variations) decided to learn this magnificent work to accompany her pregnancy, so that her baby would be surrounded by Bach for the 9 months he was inside her. 

How wonderful that music therapists have discovered just how useful and restorative music can be to these fragile newborns, who are outside of their mother's protective bodies but not yet ready for the real world. 

If you read the article I'd love to know what you think.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Real Beauty Sketches

Remember when I posted about this Dove ad a few weeks ago? Well, I have another video from this same campaign that you must watch. I have to give my Mom credit for this one--she found it through a friend and sent it to me, and I think the message is so beautiful and touching, not at all overdone or "commercial."

I don't want to give anything else away. Do watch it--it's a bit on the long side for a video but I think if you watch it you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ambassadors for Marriage at Vignettes

Us on our wedding day / Photo by Robin Fox Photography

Today, I'm guest posting over at Vignettes, a lovely blog run by my lovely blog friend, Kristin. Kristin was kind enough to ask me to to write a post for her while she's out of town, and I was thrilled to do it! If you'd like, you can read my post on being an ambassador for marriage here.

Thanks for having me Kristin!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Romans 8

A few days ago, I was feeling a little down and so I flipped open my Bible. I don't do this as often as I should--usually I pray in moments when I'm feeling sad or lonely. Or make myself a cup of tea. Both together make for a winning combination.

But I'm trying to read the Bible more often and trying to grow and develop that side of my faith. I don't want the Bible to be reserved for Sundays. So I flipped open to a random page and read:

"Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things, we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
-Romans 8: 31-39

Not only was this a perfect verse to bring my mood up--remembering there is nothing that can separate us from God's love--but it was also one of the readings we had in our wedding. One of my favorite ones, too. And I was pointed right to it on a bad day! A little tear showed up in my eye as I was reading.

Then, just a few days later, something else happened. My husband and I were listening to a Tim Keller sermon and we (again randomly) chose one called "Does God Control Everything?" And guess what scripture passage was at the center of this sermon? The very same one from Romans Chapter 8. I was astonished when the reader began to say these familiar words. How unlikely that the same verse--one that already has so much meaning for me--would show up in my life twice in one week. I think the Holy Spirit must be at work.

Do you have a favorite verse? Or a story that reminds you of God's presence in your life?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Currently: Volume 13

Reading A Severe Mercy, and also planning to read some G.K. Chesterton and the Bible later today with my husband.

Writing this post in bed. Yesterday was gorgeous and sunny but today is rainy, and I love the coziness of being inside, warm and comfortable, while it's raining outside.

Listening to sputtering rain.

Thinking about the next year ahead of us. Since we've been married, we haven't exactly had the kind of life we'd planned. And it looks like it will continue that way for a while (because the Army takes FOREVER to get things done) but I'm working hard to make peace with this.

Smelling coffee. We ran out of black tea (some more is on the way--we're a little bit snobby about tea and so we order it online) and green tea just didn't seem sufficient today. I haven't had coffee in a few months (I informally gave it up for health reasons) and it tastes divine.

Wishing it wasn't so challenging to get together with college friends. My closest friends are completely spread out across the country--San Francisco, Maine, Houston, Upstate New York. And we're here in Alabama, close to....nothing and nobody. At least we have email and texting and phone calls!

Hoping for high health and spirits this week!

Wearing comfy clothes.

Drinking coffee with cream. Such a treat.

Loving all of the goodies my husband brought back from Sam's Club on his way home from his trip last week. Fresh salmon, berries, a leg of lamb for me to roast, a whole pineapple, raw nuts. Yum. He knows me too well.

Wanting a new vacuum cleaner. Isn't it funny how once you're married you get excited about things like that? My parents have a good one they want to give us, but it's in New York and we'd have to wait until we leave here to get it. So we're trying to decide what to do. Hmm.

Needing to soak up husband time. Without going into detail, it's been a rocky road these last 5 or 6 months. Though I haven't written about this on my blog, except perhaps vaguely, my husband and I have been apart for much of this time (it's no fun when the Army gives your soldier "unaccompanied orders") and we've experienced so many unexpected twists and turns. When you're in the Army your life is not your own, and it felt like chaos for a little while. But things have normalized and although we still have a lot of waiting and patience-testing to get through, my husband is here with me and I plan to not let him out of my sight for a very long time.

Feeling grateful. For my husband, for the chance to make this next year a really wonderful one, and, despite all of my grousing, for the Army too. I have to remember that in spite of its inefficiencies and defects and crazy ways of doing things, the Army has taken care of us.

Clicking the sequel to The Business of Being Born--More Business of Being Born! We haven't watched it yet but plan to soon.

I hope you have a blessed and wonderful Sunday. 
Read more Sunday Currently posts by visiting Lauren's blog!

Friday, April 12, 2013


This post is mostly an excuse to showcase yet another of my brother's brilliant photographs. I love the way the light is making the library on his college campus absolutely glow. Isn't creativity just so amazing? There's a true gift in being able to not only capture beauty, but to illuminate it--to take what is real and enhance its loveliness. 

The power of art--writing, music, photography--has been on my mind a lot over the past 24 hours (really, does it ever leave my mind I wonder?). Yesterday, I read the following passage in A Severe Mercy. Davy is the narrator's wife.

On Christmas Eve, when Davy was out of the room, I brought forth an immense photograph of the piers and vaulting of Bourges Cathedral that she had never seen, propping it up at eye level with a single lamp upon it and the others out. Looking at it, one was almost there, gazing up at all that soaring splendour. Then I put the Sanctus from the Mozart 'Requiem Mass' on the record player, ready to go at full volume. Fetching Davy in with her eyes obediently shut, I stood her in front of the picture and touched the switch. As the music swept into the room with grandeur, I put my arms around her from behind and whispered, 'Open your eyes, dearling.' It was a moment of astonishing glory, even to me who had staged it; and Davy had tears in her eyes. Glory and love. I knew I loved Davy more than all the world besides. And she knew it, too.

After reading this passage I listened to the Sanctus from Mozart's Requiem. And I pretty much lost it. This music is enhanced by the words I had just read. The photograph of the cathedral gave profound depth to Mozart's masterful music as Davy and her husband listened and looked. Their love was stirred and raised to new heights as beauty engulfed them. The power of art.

Art captures beauty, it illuminates reality. It enriches my life every single day.

Thanks, Noah, for inspiring this post. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How I Love A Magazine

Magazines are such a thrill to get in your mailbox, don't you think? I've always had a thing for magazines but I'm usually too frugal to buy subscriptions for myself (aside from Verily, which I subscribed to the second I finished the teaser issue--I can't wait for the first print issue!). In the past, I've occasionally bought single issues of favorite magazines in a bookstore, or an airport, and it feels like such a special treat.

Well, thanks to some generous family and friends, along with one much-appreciated (and much-earned, I should say) free alumni magazine subscription, there's no shortage of magazines in our house these days. It's wonderful! Here's a look at what we've been reading.

Cooks Illustrated was a Christmas gift from my parents, and I absolutely love it. Ever since I really got serious about cooking, I'd heard about this magazine. Every recipe is tested to perfection by America's Test Kitchen, and the articles that going along with each recipe are fascinating because they divulge the trial-and-error process. The pages are all black and white, so aesthetically, it's nothing like picking up Cooking Light or Gourmet. But I think that adds to the magazine's charm. The cooking and writing are as solid as it gets, the tips and bits of advice and illustrations are brilliant, and the attention to detail is unmatched. 

This magazine I'm very proud of, as it is the work of my Dad! He works at Philanthropy Roundtable in D.C., and running this magazine is just one of the many things he does. This issue took a look at America's greatest charitable givers--who they were, their philosophies, their lasting legacies. I was especially moved by the stories of St. Katharine Drexel and Oseola McCarty (her story was written by my dad--take a look!).

Do you agree with my assessment that our free copies of Notre Dame Magazine are much-deserved? I'd say that after a collective 7 1/2 years at Notre Dame (and my portion of those years weren't cheap!), my husband and I have definitely earned this subscription. I really look forward to getting ND Magazine 4 times a year. The photography is beautiful and reminds me of my wonderful college years--and how lucky I was to attend such a fantastic university. The articles are quite interesting and it's fun when I recognize a name or two. It's a high-quality publication and one that I'm proud to receive.

Clavier Companion was a gift from my dear friend and piano teacher from my high school years. In fact, the photo on the cover of this issue is her studio. Stunning, isn't it? Her daughter designed the space and it's not only lovely and spacious, but acoustically very good too. I've enjoyed getting this magazine, especially now that I'm teaching professionally. I appreciate the good tips and wisdom and ideas found in its pages.

Forbes was another Christmas gift from my parents--not for me, for my husband. I'm not much of a business girl myself, but I'm very happy that my husband gets his own magazine to read each month!

Do you subscribe to any magazines? Were they gifts or did you treat yourself? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cherry Blossom Pink

In honor of Washington D.C.'s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, my parents have rigged their new houseboat so that it glows pink. How fun and festive is that?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Obey, Bear, Receive, Give Thanks

I've been organizing and going through my virtual sticky notes on my computer over the past few days and have reconnected with some inspiring tidbits that I saved for myself. That's how I use my sticky notes--I type out little ideas, thoughts, special quotes or pieces of advice, lists of pieces I'd someday like to learn, lists of pieces that are on my radar and that I'd like to listen to and study. The sticky notes span about 6 years (the oldest was created in 2007) so all together, even though there are only a dozen or so, they make up an interesting record of my thoughts and experiences and inspirations.

Anyway, this quote above is from C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, which my husband and I gave each other and read together while we were separated by a thousand miles and trying to find ways to stay connected. I don't remember the context of this little snippet, but I do remember reading it a few times and thinking it was a perfect, simple little mantra for everyday life as a Christian.

I've looked at the words and repeated them to myself many times. I really believe these four little directions can be a guide in almost every emotion or struggle or triumph that life offers. A tough decision to make, or a moral choice that seems impossible, an instinct deep in your being? Obey the present voice of conscience. A hard day, an overwhelming job, a tough relationship. Bear the present cross. An unexpected blessing, perhaps undeserved, an answer to prayer. Receive the present grace. A perfect cup of tea on a rainy day, a person in your life who makes you laugh until you cry, good news. Give thanks for the present pleasure.

I love this because it's a reminder to me to not only look for inspiration, beautiful words, healing wisdom--to look heavenward--when things aren't going well. So many mantras are designed for bad days. Well, what about the good days? What about a mantra that works for all kinds of days? Obey, Bear, Receive, Give Thanks. These are my reminders to pray, to reach outside myself, to seek goodness and love, whether I'm feeling kind of blue or doing just fine.

What do you think? I'd love to hear.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Currently: Volume 12

Some wholesome fun with my honey.

Reading A Severe Mercy, still! I'm reading about the couple's conversion to Christianity and how it affected their marriage. There's a lot to think about so I've been reading it slowly and thoughtfully.

Writing some thoughts, notes, and lists.

Listening to an Airborne tablet fizzle in my water glass. I've been feeling under the weather for the past few days.

Thinking about how much better it is to go through life with a companion and best friend always at your side. I've been feeling low lately--emotionally and physically--and my husband has not only put up with me but has gone out of his way to listen to me, encourage and cheer me, and empathize with me.

Smelling my grapefruit Airborne drink. I actually think it tastes good!

Wishing my husband didn't have to travel for the next few days. I'm going to miss him.

Hoping for a great week ahead!

Wearing skinny jeans that are ripped at the knees but too comfortable to throw away, and one of my husband's shirts. I just changed and this outfit feels just right for the day.

Drinking Airborne. I promise, this is the last time I'll mention it.

Loving good, simple, fun at home. Last night, we played a round of Bananagrams before making lasagna together, then we watched a great documentary that inspired a lot of talk. I love nights like that.

Wanting my health to kick back into gear. My body is a bit out of whack these days.

Needing a piano tuning. The tuner is coming in the morning and I'm looking forward to practicing on a freshly tuned piano tomorrow afternoon.

Feeling just ok. But I think that's alright. I'm about to click through some of the other Sunday Currently posts, so maybe that will cheer me up!

Clicking on Netflix (well, last night we were). We watched a documentary called The Business of Being Born and it was both beautiful and fascinating. I loved it. If you're interested in the idea of natural delivery and midwives and home birth, you should definitely watch it. Childbirth is truly miraculous!

(Linking up with Lauren.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Green Sandwiches

I am a vegetable girl. I've always loved vegetables. I can't think of one vegetable that I wouldn't eat happily. Growing up, my Dad had an enormous vegetable garden, and he tended it so beautifully. I have the best memories of picking bright red cherry tomatoes off the vine, warmed from the sun, the skin a little bit prickly and fuzzy. They tasted like the earth. In the summertime, we ate salads every night made with lettuce from the garden, cut with kitchen scissors just minutes before it was dressed and tossed. He grew green beans and asparagus, swiss chard and beets, mint and mesclun. We were so spoiled--there's nothing like having a farmer's market in your backyard!

Recently, I've been experimenting with something that makes the vegetable lover in me sing--all green sandwiches. It started one day when I was in the kitchen making lunch, peering into the fridge, trying to decide what to put on my sandwich. I'm not a huge fan of cold-cuts, typically, and I didn't have any in the fridge anyway. What I did have was tons of green vegetables and herbs, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try something new.

I made the most delicious sandwich that day--sliced cucumbers, green peppers, baby spinach, and fresh basil, with avocado smeared on whole grain toast. The flavors were perfect together, it was filling but refreshing, creamy and so healthful.

Since then, I've been making lots of all-vegetable sandwiches. I make sure to have a glass of milk, or add a slice of cheese, to get some protein. Once, I made a bean puree to spread on the other side of the toast to add flavor and protein.

This is a perfect way to make sure you're consuming a variety of veggies each day. Try mixing and matching any of these green vegetables for a delicious, and nutritious sandwich:

Baby spinach
Jalapeno Peppers
Green peppers
Green beans (cooked or fresh)
Sugar snap peas
Avocado, or guacamole
Kale (cooked would be better)
Asparagus (cooked would be better)

Will you try it?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rules for Writers

When I was in college and began to really discover my love for writing, I came across these six rules for writers from George Orwell's essay, "Politics and the English Language." In addition to the wordy wisdom handed down to me by my writer/editor father, I consider these rules to be the best writing advice I've ever gotten. Each one is simple and straightforward, yet also wide-reaching and timelessly useful. 

I liked these rules so much when I discovered them that I typed them into one of the virtual "sticky notes" that Macs come with (don't you love those?). That way, they would always be nearby whenever I was writing a paper or an article--or now, a blog post. In following these rules, I've found that the kind of writing Orwell encourages is pure, clear, and sensible, never trite or tired or florid--yet his guidelines are not so restrictive that they don't leave room for poetry and artistry. That's why these rules speak to me. They provide just the right amount, and the right kind, of guidance.

Have you come across these rules before? If not, will you use them in your own writing?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cucumber Dill Salad on HWC

Today, my first food post for the Happy Wives Club went live! I'm very excited to be contributing to this wonderful blog.

Here's a sneak peak of the post:

This refreshing salad was inspired by our favorite local German restaurant. We recently went there for lunch and I was craving something fresh to go along with my schnitzel sandwich. I’d never had their cucumber salad, so I tried it, and it was quite tasty!

But when we were done eating, I leaned into my husband and whispered with a mischievous smile, “I bet I could make it better.” 


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