Quinoa Pilaf

The key to healthy eating that I see with most food or fitness experts is meal planning! Making meals that last throughout the week, knowing exactly how to use the ingredients/researching recipies, or specificially setting aside portions for every meal at the beginning of the week. I’ve never been very good at leftovers, but I’m going to try and make larger portions, only eat what I need, and make it last! After having this box of Quinoa for much too long, I decided it was time to actually attempt cooking it, as this supergrain is full of benefits and is a great protein suppliment for me! New food indimidates me… can you tell?!

Well, it turned out alright! I should’ve treated it like pasta and added salt to the boilng water, but other than that it has a lot of potential! Not quite pasta, but a good substitue! Next round, I want to try this parmesean spinach quinoa!

QuinoaQuinoa CupQuinoa CookedVeggiesQuinoa Dinner

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

Salt

Parmesean Cheese

Directions:

Place 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a 1-1/2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). When done, the grain appears soft abd the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain. I added frozen vegetables (peas, corn, lima beans, and yellow squash) to the mix for a quick and easy quinoa pilaf. I did not include salt in my mixture, but I would definitely recommend putting a good dump of it into the water while boiling! For a bit of flavor, I added about a tablespoon of parmesean cheese!

Alternate Directions:

To prepare in a rice cooker, simply treat quinoa like rice. add two parts water to one part quinoa, stir, cover, and when the cooker shuts off, the quinoa is done.

To prepare in the microwave, just add two parts water to one part quinoa in a microwave safe bowl. Cover loosely and heat on high for 8 minutes. Stir and let stand for 8-15 minutes. Heat again for additional 2 minutes. Stir and let stand for 1 minute before eating.

For an energy saving method, combine 1 cup water to each 1/2 cup of quinoa in a pan. Bring to a full boil for 5 minutes, then set aside, covered for 15 minutes.

For additional flavor, substitute chicken broth or vegetable stock for the water.

Advocare

I’m embarking on a new challenge… the Advocare 24-Day Challenge! I have a friend who completed the program, saw results and felt so great that she decided to sell Advocare and make it a lifestyle! As I am preparing for our wedding, I really wanted a jump start to get healthy and wedding dress ready. Also, in January, there is a competition for those who lose the most in weight and inches with a $150 prize for each. Sign me up! With the challenge, there are meal replacement drinks or snack bars you can eat, but mainly it focuses on eating right, which has always been the hardest part for me! It gives you a list of approved foods, so I plan to eat two regular meals with controlled portions and ingredients. You’re required to limit sugar, soda, alcohol, candy, friend foods, creamy sauces, corn syrup, etc. Luckily, my palatte has expanded over the last few years, and there is now a lot of food I eat that never used to peak my interest. I still don’t eat much of any meat, so I will have to find substitues for my protein such as lentils, eggs, hummus, nuts, etc.

I’m motivated, nervous, excited, and ready to do my best to tackle this 24-Day Challenge! Each day, I will walk through the products, foods I eat, and physical activity I acomplish as a way to journal my progress and also let you in on the process! I will be as honest as possible (with the good stuff like burps, toots, and you know those “movements” that really shouldn’t be discussed but what someone like me worries about before starting a new diet, vitamins, or suppliments), so forgive me if it’s TMI.

Stay tuned for the details!

Beloved.

So, I’m engaged! I’m a little behind on posting about this, but it has been such a fun and stressful time making the biggest decisions about our wedding and the start of our life together! We’ve created a joint checking account to start sharing some finances, thought through what we want our wedding to look like and represent, searched and searched and finally found a venue, and have really enjoyed this time with the friends around us!

Let’s rewind, jump back in time, and relive the day! Don’t mind if I do!

With our plan of spending forever together in mind, we began imagining places where we mgiht want to get married when the time came! Dreaming, you know! A family friend of D’s had a barn that they were building as an event space, so we planned to go look at it the next time we were in Knoxville! Over Thanksgiving would be the time to do that.

I met the rest of his extended family on Thanksgiving Day 2013 and was so happy to have a warm welcome and a fun visit! We spent the day on the farm at his grandma’s house, played games, ate lots of food, and had a good time getting to know one another! To wrap up the day, Allison, his sister, asked me if I wanted to eat breakfast the next morning at Tupelo Honey, a place that is known for its biscuits! My visit there had been long-overdue, but here begins the list of ”hmm, that’s suspicious but I’m not saying anything” events! : )

Black Friday arrived and we started the day off eating some delicious food (hello, sweet potato pancakes the size of my face!) and then made a stop at The Chocolate Factory for some of Knoxville’s best sweets. Then, I spent some time with Allison around the house cleaning up. I strangely love tidying up, but also because I’m happy to help out in any way I can! Babies make quite the mess! Since D was “helping his mom with an IT issue at the university” all afternoon, I even got time to take a nap afterwards! It was a relaxing day, but I was excited to get some alone time with D later that evening when we planned to look at the barn!

D got back and rushed to get ready! All day he had been very sweet, easy going, and relaxed. He did a good job of hiding his nerves… maybe too good! ; ) He wanted me to fix his hair, as usual, but made sure to tell me that “[I] make [him] look good!” Speaking of, I had asked him this morning if I should wear my “nice” outfit today as I would be meeting new people and going on an ice-skating date afterwards! So, again add all this to the “suspicion” pile.

We made the 40-or-so minute drive to the barn, and I felt the urge to say something to D about the feelings I had had throughout the day! I didn’t want to ruin any surprise. I didn’t want to assume something was going on when it wasn’t. But, I did want to clue him in just in case he was freaking out! So, I told him ”I feel like today is a special day.” That was true and not too revealing! He wasn’t sure how to respond but did come back a few minutes later to say he felt sick! Haha. He had been working hard all day “at the university” and hadn’t eaten much, so I played along all the while thnking it could very well be nerves!

We arrived at their beautiful land where a wheat feild welcomed us and lead us to their stand alone house and new barn! After saying a quick hello to the Walters, we headed to the barn, making a pit stop to check out the wheat, first! As we were walking down, D refered back to what I said in the car by asking, “So, why did you think today was special?” I respond vaguely, “I don’t know, it just feels different… special!” He confirmed my suspicions and said, “Well, you should probably take off your sunglasses.” Now, don’t ask me why this confirms anything, but I just knew! I started jumping up and down exclaiming, “It is a special day! It is a special day!” With my sunglasses thrown aside, I was ready to listen to him, intently.

He started getting choked up and said things like, “I hated having to keep secrets from you while planning all of this, but it’s going to be worth it!” (I believe you, boy, I do!) Now in on the secret, he intended for me to enjoy every little part. He showed me how he had his phone recording audio in his pocket, told me there are two timelapse cameras set up inside to record our adventure, and began playing the mini bluetooth speaker inside the barn that “he got as an early christmas present from his mom earlier that day!” Such a techie man I have!

The scene was set. He opened the doors to the barn, while I continued hiding behind him trying to prolong the surprise! When I finally saw it, my breath left me and the tears started. He had set up a table for two, a circle of rose petals under the chandelier, which became our dance floor, and turned an empty barn into the perfect setting!

D+E Table

D+E Table

We danced to the first song he had put on our playlist…

“I’ve been beaten down,
I’ve been kicked around,
But she takes it all for me.
————
And I lost my faith,
in my darkest days,
But she makes me want to believe.
————
They call her love, love, love, love, love.
They call her love, love, love, love, love.
She is love, and she is all I need.”
- Parachute, She Is Love

Then, he took a drawer from the table we would later use for dinner, which had been constructed by his great-grandfather years ago. The table is significant as his great-grandfather was deaf and blind, yet his profession was wood working! Pretty neat! Inside, there were many pictures of us spread around a roll of fill, which was ruined earlier this year after taking it to be developed. Memories lost were replaced by new ones in that moment! The negatives circled around the ring!!

D+E Ring

D+E RingHe took it, said very honest and sweet things, slowly dropped to his knee and asked me, Emma Bailey Robertshaw, to marry him. I quickly answered with a, “oh yeah, uh huh!” Haha.
D+E Propose
D+E Knee

We spent the next 20 minutes celebrating with Hollie and Andrew, two of our friends who came from Birmingham to document the event, take pictures in the wheat field and be excited!

D+E Wheat

After they left, we ate dinner with plates, silverware, and napkins he had purchased from Target & World Market (he loves me!), along with wine glasses he had tested in-store in order to find a match with the best ‘clinging’ sound! So much time was put into those items on his part, and we plan to use them each anniversary! Very sweet. Our dinner consisted of  Harby’s pepperoni and mushroom pizza & Rex Cabernet Sauvignon. Dessert followed with red velvet cake and sugar cookies, that we never made it too, from Litton’s, and a Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout beer!!

After a total of about three hours, a full belly, happy dancing feet, and a completed playlist, my little heart was full of joy! I was so thankful. It was apparent that D took me into every thought he had while planning our speacial day! He knew I wanted dedicated, intimate time to enjoy this beginning.

Later, we met up with D’s mom, sister, Hollie and Andrew for some celebration! We did see the ice-skating rink but opted out in order to talk about the night’s goodness. Such a special memory.

D+E Dance

This man has helped me grow in love, understanding, patience, confidence, and an eagerness to know and serve my King. This boy has always made me laugh and will never run out of puns to make me giggle or cute little dance moves to show and tell. This lady feels beautiful, cherished, thankful, and happily said, YES!

++++++++

“We are not perfect
We’ll learn from our mistakes
And as long as it takes
I will prove my love to you
————
I am not scared of the elements
I am under-prepared, but I am willing
And even better I get to be the other half of you
————
Tell the world that we finally got it all right, I choose you.”
- Sara Bareilles

Twenty Fourteen

There is this One Little Word movement that started in the scrapbooking world, has made its way to the blog world, and should make its way to everyone! At the start of each year, one little word with a whole lot of meaning is chosen! I like this exercise because it helps me intentionally focus on the new year ahead. Goal setting, somewhat. And they say that’s a pretty important thing to figure out, you know?!

It’s also a good way to reflect on the past year. I started this excersize in 2013, with the word GRACE. It was a much needed reminder over my past year… grace in receiving, grace in accepting, grace in giving, grace in understanding, grace in learning, grace in loving, unconditionally, and the goodness of God’s grace and restoration. I kept my motto [[ soaked in grace ]] in the info section of my Instagram feed so that it would be a constant in my mind… D knows that’s definitely the place I would see it, everyday, all day. Oops. But, I’m thankful I now live with this knowledge more openly, struggle with it continuously, and will forever be commited to better understanding and tackling the years ahead with it in my back pocket.

In 2014, my word will be:

Potential

“And anyway we know how, we’re gonna get our bellies full. Living on a fault line, are we reaching our potential?”

Those lyrics from A Silent Film’s song, Reaching the Potential, were the first time I thought about the potential of the word… potential! Recently, I have felt a lot of in-between-ness. In-between this stage and the next. In-between new and old friends. In-between contentness and desire. In-between expectations and reality.  Honestly, that’s part of life. We’re made up of our expereicnces, our chagnes, our relationships, our time and how it’s spent. My word for the year will remind me to make the most of those relations, my spiritual growth, ambitions, etc.!

As it’s sung, a fault line is one thing, but “since faults do not usually consist of a single, clean fracture, geologists use the term fault zone.” I don’t want my current fault line (in-between-ness) to become an overwhelming fault zone, where everything collapses because I have not been focused or determined to put effort behind things that deserve my attention. Those little things that make a solid foundation and are usually the hardest to turn into habits… saying “Thank You” when it’s not expected, waking up early to work out, making concious choices to not eat things that aren’t necessary, thinking of others first with your words and actions, staying involved in a Bible study, drinking more water, and the list goes on. Basically, POTENTIAL keeps me out of the past, aware of today, and hopeful for things to come!

As this RELEVANT magazine article states, “We cannot be sincerely grateful for our lives if we are breathing in the anticipation that soon this will wrap up and make way for something more exciting. That doesn’t sound like thankfulness, and it looks nothing like contentment… If we view today as less than tomorrow, we choose to live in the imagined picture of a story that hasn’t happened, sacrificing joy and adventure that could be ours in the present… No matter what you would change about your current circumstances, there are advantages, freedoms and joys that will be gone in life’s next scene. Don’t miss today because you are imagining that tomorrow will be “better…” Life does not begin when you get married, land your dream job or board a plane to travel the world. It is found in the beautiful, powerful love of Christ, which changes us in the midst of all circumstances, especially the ones we find most difficult. We need only be willing.”

Are we reaching our potential?

P.S. D has chosen the word GROWTH (yes, we are growth potential when you combine our powers!) for the new year! Business, relational, and spiritual growth are just a few of the areas where he is eager and hopeful to see his word in action!

P.P.S. A girl I know wrote an article (actually about grace!) for Venture Magazine. While browsing, I found this printable for the new you in 2014! Good lessons and practical ways to look forward to the year ahead.

Image background found here.

Other words, past and present: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Knowledge Nugget // Conflict

I’m a bit of a people pleaser, so it makes sense that conflict is not one of my strongest suits. As for my other half, he doesn’t deal with that fear quite as much! It’s not that D likes it, but he is good at confronting it head on for the sake of peace afterwards. Logical idea, he has. Easier said than done for me.

We both have insecurities when it comes to conflict resolution, though. I am likely to feel bad for not choosing to act on something a certain way. He is likely to feel bad for pushing something too hard or too soon.  Our confrontational styles (not necessarily in a negative way) are just different… but that can be okay! Instead of feeling blamed & guilty (me) or acusatory & insensitive (him)… we have learned these differences help us to become more self-aware. Why do I feel guilty? Potentially, because I am experiencing something that I know I am insecure with, that I know is a problem, or that I don’t like to confront in myself. Why does he feel bad for pushing a subject? Maybe because it’s not the first time he’s had to do it, beause he doesn’t like the confrontational tolls conversations may take, or because they hit a deeper rooted issue that he is protecting.

The good thing about conflict is that we can learn from our tendencies. They are good indicators of things that we can recognize & acknowledge within ourselves and not push off onto someone else. And, when you don’t feel at odds with someone, it is a lot easier to apologize and forgo defensiveness. This light-bulb-moment really was big and still difficult for me.

Look at the confrontations you experience over and over again. They are most likely centered around an issue that is habitual for you. Yes? Look at the type of confrontations you have and the way you handle them. Overall, I’d like to become less forgetful and more proactive, less overwhelmed and more secure in differences, and less wavering and more confident in my awareness of conflict resolution, while resting in the peace that we will always work through things. Becoming sensitive and concious of the differences we all have is healthy, and it helps us to work with our strengths instead.

I was talking with a friend about how difficult relationships really are and how it may not always look like that from the outside. It’s normal and should be expected that everything won’t always be pretty… and that’s hard for someone who “likes things pretty.” D always tells me that we are a team. When you act like you’re on the same side, the game is a lot more fun!

So, in conflict resolution, remember to have grace in your relationship and recognize that “there [is] no malice. There [is] no ill-intent.” How easy it is for us to be thankful for the God’s undeserving grace and not extend the same grace to our loved ones in the hard times! Put your partner/friends/parents/people first. Protect each others insecurities. Pray through conflict. Play. Be happy. 2013 sure has been the beginning of much happienss!

Harships

Broken Pieces