Listening to the {tulips}

My tulips and I have been conversing lately…

…they’re pretty smart. And no, I haven’t become a crazy naturalist or stopped shaving my legs. Here’s the story:

Until now, there has always been a very logical, planned, and immediate next step in my life: Kindergarten? First grade is around the corner. High school is over? Pick a college. Graduation? Get married, buy a house, find a job, settle in to a new city…

But, what now? Yes, there are children, new hobbies, moves, fresh life seasons somewhere in the future. But, for the first time, the next 10 years aren’t really planned…

Instead of thinking in terms of events and decisions that impact tomorrow, The Husband and I have to think about 15 or 20 or 35 years down the road.

That span of time is scary – ANYTHING could happen. Bad stuff. Hard stuff. I’d rather think about next month. Even New Year’s Eve is always bitter-sweet for me. What will this clean-slate of a year hold? I can barely handle planning dinner a week ahead of time – you really want me to make some investment that won’t come to fruition until I’m 65?! I’ve only been self-aware for like, 15 years!

Can’t. Wrap. My. Head. Around. It.

Enter, my tulips: These bulbs, like 401(k)s, kids, and European vacations, require vision. They are ugly little things that have to be planted in the brisk, late fall to bloom in the fresh, warming spring.

Not a perfect metaphor, but you get the picture.

Every spring for the last few years, I’d pass lovely yards and think to myself, “look at that seasoned, wise woman’s garden with all of those lovely flowers. Someday, I will think ahead enough to plan for that surprising early beauty, too.”

But, I wasn’t in a planting mood in the fall. I was done with mowing and digging and weeds… I wanted new boots, a cardigan and a hot latte. Like, yesterday. So, tulips didn’t happen.

Late last year, however, things changed: I was determined – even though it meant thinking about an uncomfortable amount of time – to make tulips happen. I picked out the bulbs, and stuck them in the ground. And, at the same time, I was slowly becoming aware that life doesn’t always rush at a never-ending pace and present you with an obvious next step with relatively immediate gratification. Sometimes, it requires patience, grown-up vision, and a little faith.

Boy, did that small step pay off:

Like ruffly, fiery, jewel-toned manifestations of my personal growth, my flowers sprang to life many months later in an array of lovely colors that made me smile for weeks on end when I pulled in my driveway. (Another of those “I like what I am becoming” moments!).

In some small way, I had arrived. If I could act in advance and wait for the payoff of planting bulbs, I knew that I was ready to do the same with confidence in other areas of my life too! Discontentment about my situation at a single moment, could be traded for the knowledge that I am investing in a million little ways for a beautiful, surprising, colorful future.

I’m growing up.

I am still grasping this concept of the length of a life. I have to remind myself that I don’t have every friend I will ever have right at this moment. I don’t posses every skill I will die with today. I am not as wise now as I will ever be, and I don’t need to be anxious about my self-actualization goals and level of maturity. I don’t need to do it ALL NOW.

Life is a process. And, life is long. Don’t let people tell you any different. Most of us will have decades to ‘work on’ ourselves, learn how to knit, take up kickboxing and watercolors and make new best friends… Those are the moments that add meaning and color to our journey. Add richness to the lives we touch. Add to our legacy…

So today, put your worries in His hands. Have a little vision. Make a few plans. And watch them bloom…

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Fancy {pants} Frittata

Sometimes I just need something super easy to make for dinner. 

Yet, at the same time, I need it to make me feel good about myself.

And it has to be yummy.

And the Husband has to approve.

And it has to be made of things I have languishing in my fridge.

Arg – Impossible, right? Wrong.

Enter Fancy Pants (and ridiculously, awesomely, embarrassingly easy) Frittata:

Just the word “frittata” feels sophisticated as it roooooolllllsss off the tongue (especially when the Husband says it. He also tried to incorporate it into a Lady Gaga song… another story altogether).

Mmmmm…. cheesy.

But seriously, with that fancy name and cute little triangle shape, you wouldn’t dream that this ‘lady’s brunch dish’ is glorified scrambled eggs. Way easier than an omelet (no flipping required), healthier than quiche, and perfectly customizable (do half-and-half with different ingredients!) this MUST be on your next ‘breakfast for dinner’ list…

Or weekend breakfast list. Or brunch for the parents list. Or pack for lunch to take to the office the next day list.

Again, seriously.

Fancy {Pants} Frittata

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 6 Eggs or 3 eggs and 1 cup of egg whites
  • About 1 Cup of Spinach, chopped
  • About 1 Cup of Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Green Pepper, chopped
  • About 1/2- 1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese of your choice – I used goat cheese on one half, and part skim mozzarella on the other (His & Hers!)
  • Any other vegetables, meats or cheeses your little heart desires (Bacon? Parmesan? Broccoli? Go for it.)
  • About 1 T of Olive oil
Directions:
  • Pre-heat oven to 350.
  • Break eggs into a medium-sized bowl, whisk.
  • Sauté veggies in olive oil in an oven-safe 10″ skillet on medium-high heat until softened (about 5 minutes), add spinach for last minute or so.
  • Pour egg mixture evenly over veggies. Do not stir. Turn burner to low.
  • Sprinkle cheese over eggs – be as generous as you like ;)
  • Let the mixture cook on low for five minutes so the bottom begins to set.
  • Put the entire pan into the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the eggs are set in the middle (no longer jiggly!).
  • Use a hot pad and pull pan from the over (remember not to grab that hot handle!) and let cool for a minute or so before cutting and serving.
  • Serve slices with fresh fruit, toast or yogurt or nutella or bacon…. you get the picture!
 

Enjoy!

Do you have an easy-but-seems-fancy dish that you love to whip up? Tell me about it!

P.S. I got a surprise visit from my college roomie, Chelsea last night! Thanks for the visit, C!

Yes, I am “R”… we also had an “A” and an “L”.

And yes, we were super hip ;) Not.

Easter {Fun}day

I, like many of you, am still recovering from/basking in a weekend of fabulous Easter celebrations. Full of all things wonderful: family, friends, dark chocolate, church, presents, breakfast dates and mashed potatoes, we couldn’t have asked for a more full, refreshing time (or tummies! ;)

(Title~ pun intended)

We started the weekend early with my family’s traditional Passover Seder meal on Thursday evening. Though we are Christians, the symbolism of this night is very special. We do a Messianic version of the readings, and I love reflecting on the history and meaning behind the words. The same ritual has been performed by the Jewish people for thousands of years, and Jesus said the same words at the last supper… amazing to ponder.

{Berry pies, turkey and matzo ball soup… My mother works wonders!}

Good Friday dawned with an intense kickboxing class with my good friend, Steph (and getting Bekah dressed for the a “Cross Walk” event uptown – Isn’t she cute!?) The class. Was. Amazing. And, it totally worked up my appetite for a scrumptious grilled feast that evening. The Husband and the other guys played golf all morning while we hit up Great Harvest (yay for those warm, wonderful samples!), World Market (their little milk frothers make great gifts – I LOVE mine, $2.99!) and the grocery store to get the goodies for dinner. “The Gang” is ALWAYS a blast, and we totally enjoyed their company.

{Sirloin burgers= boys. Homemade ELR black bean burgers = girls. Soooo good!}

On Saturday morning, I had the chance to go to one of my favorite restaurants of all time – Northstar Cafe – with one of my favorite people – Samantha! She and her husband were in town for the holiday, and we managed to carve out some time to catch up (over to-die-for ricotta pancakes, eggs and coffee). Isn’t Sam gorgeous?!

{Wonderful organic, whole foods, wonderful company. Our lives are so fun and crazy right now… We had no idea we’d be ‘here’ when we took Chemistry together 8 years ago!}

The rest of our Saturday was jam-packed with a family Easter-present/candy hunt, and a trip to visit my great-grandma and cousins for yet another great meal, golf in the backyard, baby goat petting, egg hunt and sunny porch sitting. We rounded out the evening back at Samantha’s parents house (her mom, dad and siblings are close friends of my family) for a glass of wine, brie en croute and s’mores… whew!

{Dietsch’s dark chocolate salted caramel, chick cookies, hugs, and hidden surprises…}

Sunday morning was a fun rush of (more) food, the donning of crisp dresses and colorful shirts and a rich celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. The Husband and I we are fortunate enough to have met at church, so both of our families are a part of the same congregation, along with a ton of long-time friends. After church, we headed over to the Husband’s parents’ house to hang out with his siblings, and eat another great meal!

{Fresh strawberry scones, mini-quiche, fruit and bacon for breakfast, and brisket and fixin’s for dinner… along with my sister-in-law’s jaw-dropping cinnamon roll cake *cue angels singing*}

…now see why I’m recovering?

I hope you all had a sweet, fun weekend with your families and friends and favorite dishes :) Did you have any fun eats? Please share!

Boston {carrot cake} Pancakes

Nothing brings back memories for me like the weather. Weird, huh?

…sometimes, it just feels like Christmas, or summer vacation, or camping, or the first day of school outside, you know? You can almost smell it, sense it, in the air…

Lately, Boston has been drifting on the wind.

A year ago, about this time, I visited my best friend Hannah in Massachusetts just before her graduation from college. We’ve known each other for a long time (learn more about our friendship in this post, and the other trip I’m planning to visit her here!), but school and work and travel and a wedding had kept us apart for too long.

So, on a whim, I hopped on a plane.

So worth it… isn’t it always?

It was a wonderful trip full of adventures, reminiscing, historic sights, whispers, hopes, plans and daydreams. Every minute of it was glorious, but one particular thing sticks in my mind more than the rest.

Not an ancient church, or view of the ocean…

It was a pancake.

A carrot cake pancake with maple cream cheese butter from Sugar Magnolia’s in Gloucester, MA, to be exact. Ahhh… a thing of dreams.

When the weather changed this spring, that pancake started haunting me once again. So, I decided to do something about it:

So sit back, grab a copy of the House of the Seven Gables or On Walden Pond, and enjoy.

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Pancakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Food4Fitness

Makes about 8-10 small, 4-5 large pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 Cup of wheat germ
  • 2 T Toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 t Baking powder
  • 1 1/4 t Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t Ginger
  • 1/8 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 2 T Brown sugar
  • 1 -1 1/4 C Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (Start with one cup – add if needed)
  • About 1 1/2 -2 C Finely grated, peeled carrots (Peel to reduce bitterness, grate finely so carrots soften with cooking. Start with 1.5 cups, add as needed. )
  • 1 t Vanilla extract

Maple Cream Cheese Butter

  • 4oz. (1/2 block) Neufchatel Cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 2 T Maple Syrup
  • 2 T Butter, softened

Directions:

  • Combine flour, wheat germ, pecans, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine egg, sugar, milk, oil, carrots and vanilla.
  • Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Use butter or oil to grease a skillet or frying pan, and cook until done (about two min. on each side. I like to watch for bubbles on the first side, then flip!)
  • For topping, mix softened ingredients together and spread, dollop or dip generously. Garnish with real maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon.

These pancakes are dense, hearty, and packed with fiber and other good-for-you-ness. Not too sweet (you can really taste the carrots!), and perfect for an Easter treat, or any time you want to take a trip to Boston in your head…

What are you making for Easter this year? Do you have any special family traditions? Please, share!