Until we meet again, Nanaw.

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Yesterday we said our goodbyes to Nanaw at her graveside service in Mansfield, MO. Family gathered that hadn't been together in years to say goodbye to this cherished woman. The emotion was somber, but full of hope and peace for someone that we knew didn't have to suffer anymore- no longer lonely after losing her Husband in the 1970's. Her body lay at rest in a silvery blue casket, no longer sickly and broken, and her soul with Jesus.

I have been comforted lately by that very thing, going in and out of sadness and sobbing before old memories I know that we will never experience again on this Earth. But she is with Jesus. With only a few days left, I had never seen anyone so sure of where she was going. She was looking death in the eyes without fear or hesitation- nothing could scare her or shake her confidence. I praise God that she wasn't over taken by confusion and dementia-Gods grace poured over in those last moments we had with her-reassuring peace in our own hearts.

Memories we all had in her home-they stay with us. Cherry picking, running down her backyard hill, swinging on that yellow metal swing, tasting her blackberry cobbler like she made it, playing checkers at her house, listening to her say "I'd better test that chocolate cake to see if it's moist.." when really, I would chuckle at the thought that she just wanted to have dessert before dinner. 

Her garden was full of cabbage, tomatoes, green beans, radishes that my dad would eat whole with just a sprinkle of salt. She would whoop your hiney if you were up to no good, and would always tease you about it, but was the sweetest little lady I've ever known and loved. 

Her presence was still there yesterday, even though we knew she was gone. With told stories of the things she would say, the love letters written between Pappy and her while he was in the war, how all the granddaughters inherited her long locks of hair. 

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I have placed small items of hers around the house, practical and sentimental-the small and clear shot glass on my kitchen window seal, the cream tea kettle that will always warm my heart when it begins to whistle. The few photos I have of her, the bible I placed on my mantle, filled with newspaper clippings, and locks of hair tied with pink ribbon that we may never know whose they are. Her black metal stapler on my desk--all of these things won't keep me from missing her less or replace who she was in my life, but in some way-she will be in my home through these things, and I pray also through the work of my hands, the keeping of our home and serving others in it. 

I woke up thankful this morning for the utmost grace and goodness of The Lord-knowing without hesitancy that she is with Him and with loved ones that have passed over the 93 years she lived. I rejoice in The Lord today, while my heart still weeps of missing her-I know she is better off in the arms of my savior than my own. 

Rest in peace Nanaw and don't forget to tease the others just a little.

I Love you so much.

Until we meet again,

L

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Garlic, orange & thyme roasted whole chicken

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Cooking a big meal is therapeutic for me. Much like painting a project, creating illustrations, or when I'm real stressed and can't sit still..I clean my house. Usually cleaning happens if I'm stressed or we are having guests over. I'm trying to get better at the in between times when I still need to do the dishes and wipe down everything-but for now we just need more guests over and for me to be a stress ball in order for things to be squeaky clean.

As for the recipe-this was a new angle of flavors for the roasted chicken. My lovely in laws family in CA sent us oranges from their farm and I still had thyme left over so I thought, why not? And as for the garlic, well you can't go wrong with fresh garlic in my book. 

 For this chicken roasting adventure you will need:  

-1 whole chicken (mine was 5.5 lbs) 

-1 TBS olive oil  

-1 large white or yellow onion, sliced.  

-4TBS butter  (salted or unsalted-I always go with salted) 

-2 large garlic cloves, minced. ( I love using my microplane tool for this-minces that garlic with charm)

-salt & pepper 

-2 juicy navel oranges  

-a big bunch of thyme (yes, a big ol' bunch)  

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Start by preheating your oven to 475. Slice your onion and toss in the bottom of your Dutch oven or large mouthed pot. Toss in a few sprigs of thyme while you're at it. Then begin prepping your chicken-remove your giblets from the cavity and if you're me...discard them because you don't want to touch them any longer-and set in your Dutch oven over your sliced onion and sprigs of thyme. Pour your olive oil over each side and spread over the chicken- I like this because it keeps the seasoning on the chicken and adds some loving tenderness. Season with salt and pepper each side, generously. Melt the butter in a ramekin. After melted, add the chopped thyme, and your minced garlic. Stir and let it set. 

While your butter sets up a bit, cut into your navel oranges. Slice one thinly, and chop the other in quarters. Set aside. Okay now go back to that buttery garlic goodness. Pour all over your chicken-front and back. Leave a small amount to run underneath the top skin, to really let the flavor sink in and get that skin nice and crispy. You will need to gently lift the skin from the chicken breasts in order to pour it underneath. 

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Now back to your oranges. Squeeze the juice over and around the chicken. Stuff a few of the rinds into the cavity of the chicken. Lay a few slices on top-this just looks pretty. The rest of the sliced rinds can go around the chicken. Add a few more sprigs over and around that chicken-let it know it is loved by thyme and everyone that will want to eat its goodness. 

Place your chicken in the oven for 18 minutes at 475 degrees F.

Afterwards, drop your oven down to 350 and bake 20 mins for each lb. Since my chicken was 5.5 lbs- I cooked mine for 1 hour and 50 minutes following the first 18 mins. Let's just say that's all the math my mind could handle today-hah!

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I hope you all enjoy these new flavors  I tried on the baked chicken. My inspiration for this whole chicken adventure was inspired by the Bowl of Delicious' roasted chicken. 

I'd say for an easy dinner, I would add some garlic roasted potatoes and maybe some greens on the side-then you're set! While the chicken cooks for an hour or two, you've got time to sit back with some wine and a good book ( if you're lucky) or finish cleaning up your house like I do before guests arrive.  

Hope you enjoy!  

Much love, L  

 

Sweet Nanaw

I haven't experienced the loss of a loved one in years. Since my childhood, it's been short glimpses back of my grandfathers passing, the final breaths he drew when I watched him suffer in his final weeks. He always called me Lindsay-Lou, and would sing a little jig about how "Lindsay-lou, lost her shoe-didn't know what to do.." 

The other I remember, was an elderly woman named Marceline, who was my neighbor growing up, along with her Husband Harold, who is in his mid 90's and has still mowed his yard the last few years and creates beautiful wooden furniture. He made our dining table for us, that we will, of course, always cherish.

Marceline fell on her front steps and it resulted in a head injury that took her to meet Jesus a couple weeks later.  

Harold and Marceline would babysit me when I was younger. I'd go over to their home and Marceline would make a homecooked meal, and you could count on her to always have a pie or some sort of dessert too. Harold would light fires in their fireplace and I would watch him build it and enjoy the smokey scent and glowing embers. They harvested green beans, fresh tomatoes and other countless things, including flowers, from their garden. They were truly something special. 

And now the time has come that I've said my goodbyes to my sweet Nanaw. Petite, strong willed woman. She worked every day of her life-whether it was in the old shoe factory or at home, serving her family. She wouldn't let you get her a cup of water if you wanted to and you couldn't make her sit down before everyone else even though she had spent all sunday on her feet cooking a big meal for the family. Truly a servant's heart. 

When I was a little girl, She would let me comb through her hair, as I played as her beautician, or I would play "operation" on her arm, for "surgery" as she'd sit real still and talk to me while I did what my imaginary mind had made up. I would stay with her for a week some Summers. There wasn't much to do in her small town, but before the sun began to set, we would spend time sitting outside together, maybe even the neighbors would join and we would sit in our lawn chairs or on the yellow metal bench swing, watching the hummingbirds zoom in and out of the yard that was filled with a large garden that she had harvested many veggies, and a cherry tree beside it that many pies were filled with its bearings. We would watch the fireflies come out of hiding, blinking, twinkling. It was a simple time with conversation and sweet silence, just sitting and enjoying the cicada's buzzing and birds beginning to find their slumber. 

I have thousands of sweet memories with Nanaw. I'll never forget the time she cried when I was getting ready to marry Matt in a few weeks and packing my things to leave for California. I had never seen her cry like that..and just like her, she tried walking away, but I managed to hold her close. 

And that is what I know I'll be thinking of these next few weeks, if not for a long time. Memories of her, the things she said and how she always made me feel loved and cared for- Important. 

The last few days before she passed, Nanaw told me she was ready to go. She said " I'm ready, are you?" She told my mom that she was just ready to go to heaven. I could not have asked for more peace and clarity that she had-while my mind was occupied with so much, God did that without me asking. The last week after seeing her, I knew in my spirit it was the last time I'd see her. After more complications and circumstances that we're telling us she didn't have much longer to live-the Holy Spirit was with me, giving me peace and understanding. Knowing that she will be better off, in the arms of Jesus. 

My mom called me at 4:30 am yesterday morning, and when I saw I had a voicemail, I knew. I didn't dread it-she passed away peacefully in her sleep and I knew she was with Jesus, just as she had wished for.  

So this Mother's Day, will be a bit hard, knowing my Dad and Mom have lost a caring mother, and that my sister and I lost a very special grandmother. I can only take comfort in knowing that while we lost Nanaw for now, she is in Heaven, rejoicing with others she's lost along the way, and probably cracking a joke or two. We know we will one day be together again. 

I know without a doubt God has linked us all together-He has made us as beings that need one another. With each one passing, there is so much left behind-the impression on others, the compassion that was shared will be passed down, the things they taught us, will remain with us and will transform us into better people. We will leave behind an imprint one day-I pray that we all think of that-while our Spirits will be elsewhere, what will your imprint be to those that you loved and knew? 

I know Nanaws will be here for a long time-shining out love and selflessness. 

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Much Love,  

L

Ramekin baked eggs with spinach, parmesan and thyme.

Yesterday Matt and I had way too much fried food....and okay yes, ice cream too, are you happy? The kind of food you wake up with in the morning because you feel like you've been hit by a truck. Sound familiar? :) I'll just say when I get off track of eating healthy, it's times like these that I finally tell my body-"okay! okay! I'll treat you better!" So today we needed a light lunch. This is one of my favorites lately. I was really inspired a while back by this recipe to create my own. Sometimes the ingredients vary, whether I have spinach or kale, fresh herbs or what kind cheese is in the fridge. But I know one thing, we always have eggs. They're cheap and quick to make. 

For this breakfast or light lunch recipe, you will need: 

2 ceramic ramekins

4 eggs

2 TBS shredded parmesan

Two large handfuls of spinach greens  

1 TBS butter  

A few sprigs of fresh thyme  

salt & pepper to season

 

serves 2

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Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Melt 1/2 a tbs of butter in each ramekin, coating the bottom of each dish. Place a small pot of salted water on top of the stove and bring boil--toss in your spinach for 1-2 minutes, just enough to soften it. 

Once spinach is soft, drain water from the greens and divide in the bottom of each ramekin. Sprinkle half of your shredded Parmesan in each dish over your spinach. Crack two eggs into each dish of spinach and cheese. Top with the remaining cheese. Top with your fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. 

Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Set your timer for 16-18 minutes and wait for the eggs to set! You should have a yoke that is partially soft-not hard but not runny either.

I like to eat this with some fresh fruit or French baguette.  

Hope you enjoy! 

 

Much love, 

L

 

Learning Friendship

 

The best thing about Springfield is that you can meet some really genuine people. A year or more ago I was scared of making friends. Many of mine had moved away or we lost touch. I wanted friends and I wanted to be a friend to others, but it had been so long since I had tried developing new friendships.

I had been through some heartache and I kind of became a recluse. I wasn't ready for others to see my pain. I figured heartache wasn't a pretty thing to see. I figured my smiles weren't genuine enough since my eyes couldn't quite smile along. 

Is it possible to forget how to make a friend? Is it possible to feel a little lost in how in how to do this thing called friendship? That's how it felt for a while. I began to re-learn this language. In order to develop true friendships, I knew I had to stop being so scared of what others thought of me, and be comfortable with myself, comfortable with my story, in my own skin. 

I know that my face is easy to read. I know that when I'm hurt, it shows. I know that when I'm in a season of uncertainty, it shows. I didn't want anyone to see that. I didn't want to have to explain if my smiles weren't convincing enough. 

When you choose to open up and are able to be vulnerable with others around you, they do the same. It's pretty clear if you have a wall up. It's pretty clear that you're scared of reaching below the surface if you dodge it with superficial conversation. And sometimes yes, superficial conversation comes before reaching the deepened roots-the good stuff, the stories that are relatable and the ones that really help us to understand each other's character and volume. Sometimes smiling through it until we are comfortable enough to open up, is okay even if smiling isn't how we are feeling on the inside. On gloomy days, I'll make myself smile in the car, you know.. Just to get those muscles working. Because sometimes you have to wake those guys up and get them moving. Otherwise, your face might be flat all day long. I'll admit that I can really look like a sad puppy certain days. 

Our roots can be ugly, twisted, unappealing to look at. But they give us depth. They sprout us above ground into something beautiful, into something reachable and vulnerable. 

Ive made a lot of friendships through Instagram. I never thought I would, but as I've prayed for deeper relationships, God has used the tools around me to connect with others. And I'm really thankful for that. 

We need to stop being so afraid of each other. We need to take the first step and ask others out for coffee dates and over for dinners. We need fellowship in our lives. People to talk to and grow with. People to laugh with and tell stories to. And sometimes, someone just to listen.  

 

Much Love,  

L

Mussels with tomato basil white wine sauce

This is the second time I've tackled cooking mussels for dinner. It's easier than you think and doesn't take a lot of ingredients or time either. 

Here is what you'll need:

1-2 TBS olive oil

3 TBS butter

Half white/yellow onion, chopped

2-3 large garlic cloves, minced.

2lbs mussels (mine were frozen)

1/2 cup white wine

1 large can diced tomatoes (You can also use fresh if you prefer)

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (optional if you want a gluten free recipe- the sauce will be less thick)

Half package of spaghetti or linguine noodles. (Also optional-You can choose to serve these mussels alone or find a gluten free pasta for a gluten free option. This amount is for 2 people, but you could add pasta for more servings)

Juice from a quarter of a lemon

Salt & pepper

Handful of fresh basil, minced

Start by placing your olive oil and butter in a deep pot. Toss in your chopped onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes on medium heat. Be sure to not over cook your garlic! :) You could now start a separate pot of water to come to boil before adding your pasta.

Make sure you've washed your mussels with cool water thoroughly to rinse any grit or loose shell pieces before adding them into your pot. Biting into grit during your meal isn't exactly appetizing ;D

Add your mussels and white wine--gently toss. Also, you can season with salt/pepper, and your lemon juice. Cover on high and let cook for 5-7 minutes. Your mussels should open up after this time. Once your pot of water is brought to boiling, toss in your pasta and cook until al dente. 

 Next, turn your heat to med-low and gently stir in half of your bread crumbs into the mix. This is going to thicken your sauce and give it some depth. Add your tomatoes, gently tossing them through the mussels. Add your minced basil and let your flavors mix through--cover for another 5-7 minutes. Your pot of mussels should begin to look something like this...

For the remaining of your bread crumbs, you'll toss them in a saute pan just as they are on high and toast them until light brown. This should only take a few minutes, so be sure to toss them in the pan and watch them.

To serve, drain your noodles and toss with extra olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together and minced basil for added flavor. :) Place your noodles first on your plate and serve your mussels with each amounts of the tomato wine sauce. Finish off with your toasted bread crumbs and you're ready! And don't forget you've still got extra white wine to drink. ;)

I was inspired by this mussel dish to create my own spin on it. :) 

 

Enjoy!

Much Love,

L


Wandering Heart.

Yesterday I felt pretty lost. Lost on what to do, think or even where to go. Do you ever have days like that? Where you're just wandering around, as if you were unsure of night from day?   I felt this overwhelming weight of worry, guilt, fear, shame, and uncertainty. And all of it was so heavy, that I was literally wandering around my town, running errands, but not really running them like I normally would. I would think of driving to Target, and then I would find myself at Michaels craft store, for no reason. I went in, wandered around for about an hour and bought nothing. Just looked at everything there and left. 

My mind was doing this too. I was wandering with thoughts of past seasons that were hurtful. My brain felt like it was going to explode any second. I could have cried at the drop of a hat because I was so frustrated with myself and how I couldn't just turn off my grumpiness and displacement. That alone made me more frustrated. More angry. But I couldn't just stay at home. I had to keep moving, keep going to maybe solve this problem of restlessness and lack of contentment. Maybe imbalanced hormones were a part of this to an extent, but I do not take days like this and blame that as a full excuse. This was different. To sum it up, I felt like satan was kicking my butt. He was winning, and I felt like I had no control over my day. I wandered about not only in my mind, but literally, my body was wandering too. I had felt this indifference growing for a few days before, but not to the intensity of this day. I had let it fester up instead of asking the Lord for help and guidance.

If we are wandering in our lives, feeling complacency within ourselves, is it likely, that the depths of our hearts are wandering too? Are they rightly anchored? Maybe we aren't trusting God's word and protection over our lives even if we truly want to claim Christ as our Lord.  The best way for me to explain it is this verse in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do."

Are we distracted daily? Have we taken the time to turn off our phones, or place them in the other room at certain times of the day? I know I don't trust myself to stay off of Instagram unless I set rules and boundaries for myself and have Matt as my partner in crime. Have we more interest in social media heart likes and comments instead of spending time centering ourselves first? I have been guilty of checking IG first thing in the morning before centering myself in God's Word. There is no doubt have I done that and lost about an hour in the morning and who knows how many hours throughout the day. Cell phones are like crack now. Devices that we can't seem to live without. They have taken over a lot of our time during the day and have robbed us of productivity and motivation when we use them purely for entertainment. I will also say they are a great tool, if we use them correctly. I'm not saying I always use it right, and I'm not saying we should delete our IG feeds, but I am trying my best now to change my bad habits because I've learned how much disconnection they have brought to the table. 

Does His word come in 2nd, 3rd, or even last in your day? I know it does a lot in mine. When I'm not being fed His word first, when I haven't taken the time to bow down to Him and say "Jesus, you take the lead, you show me the way.." I am lost. Wandering. Unsure and with no understanding of why. Until I look back to Christ and dissect my actions and what is in my heart.

In Psalm 32:9, it says "Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him."

The other day, my boss was talking to a friend and I remember hearing her say, "God didn't say it would be easy, but He would be faithful." And from seasons of uncertainty and times of heartache, yes. Yes Lord, you have been faithful. You are faithful day in and out. And in those hard times, we learn to praise Him through it, we learn to thank Him for His watchful eye and counseling because He knows us personally, more than we know ourselves. I've learned that when I am in The Word daily, even if it's for 10 minutes, it will set the whole theme of my day. 

With all that happened yesterday, I woke up hopeful this morning that I would choose a different path, a different set of mind, body and spirit. That I would choose the Lord and not anchor myself to past tendencies and insecurities, but that I would wake up, eat breakfast and sit down with truth in my hands to discover a whole new way to live my day with purpose. It makes total sense to me that when we are wandering, something feels wrong. When we've given our hearts to Christ already and we are wandering, whatever the season, there's every reason we should be feeling a pull on our hearts in the other direction because we are His.

He is our anchor!

 When I opened His word, Psalm 32:8-11 was waiting for me. How amazingly it fit into my struggles of yesterday and how amazingly will it help me today to remember the Lord conquered my sin, shame, guilt, and all that is restless, unsure, and all that makes my heart wander. His eyes are upon us, let us follow His lead today and everyday.

Psalm 32:8,11 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you...Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart."

 

Much Love,

L

 

Happy Jack London

Jack was a surprise, and not in the way you think I mean. It was my birthday weekend and we were making stops around town, eating at our favorite bakery, going to music stores to feel out guitars. Well, before we even got inside the music store, I heard dogs barking. If you know me real well, I get way too excited about seeing a dog or puppy. Even if it's just an old man walking down the street with his hound, I can't even help it. So we made a stop at the pet store first, where the rescues are brought out every Saturday morning. 

Walking down the sidewalk, we saw him, the last cage on the end. spotted and colorful. I didn't even look at the other dogs, I was only drawn to Jack. We had Nelson with us already, our 1 year old puppy. So we walked Jack and Nelson together and they seemed not that interested in one another. 

Well, these days...they can't get enough of each other. I can barely separate them-they're only focus is each other when they're a part. 

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I was a little nervous bringing Jack home, knowing I was setting myself up for more training, more hair, less sleep...but double the amount of puppy cuddles? Oh my word, yes. 

 

We are a little crazy for adopting on a whim, but I can't say how thankful I am that Jack is here. Nelson was alone by himself all day when we are at work, but now He's got a lifetime friend. We are slowly training Jack and he's not nearly as smart as Nelson, but his sweetness makes up for it. All he really wants in life is to love on us, and thats all we could ever as for.

I think adding a second dog into a home is a decision that needs to be based solely off of your living situation and not others. Maybe your dog really is better off on it's own. It's easy to get caught up in the cuteness..dang, is it! But the most important thing is evaluating your current dog; what personality type do they have? Will the second dog you pick mesh well with your current one? Be prepared for jealousy of attention, sharing each others bad habits with one another, and maybe a few accidents if your dog isn't potty trained. (I highly recommend training with the bell method.) There can be many obstacles but you can handle them if you have the time to train, a positive attitude, and patience...oh and maybe the need to vacuum more often. Hypoallergenic dogs are a great option..but I'm far past that!

Sincerely, 

L