Monday, November 9, 2015

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

Sometimes great things come from potlucks. Like this quinoa salad :) A coworker made it for a work potluck and it was so refreshing and different. The even more amazing thing to me was that it didn't have any dressing or sauce on it (I would have sworn it did...), only cilantro and lime juice. It also seemed pretty healthy so I thought it would be a good addition to our picnic lunches while we were on vacation up north. It turned out great and was so simple to make! We took it with us several days and it was not only very filling but also portable and kept well in the fridge.

The quinoa was a bit expensive but the nice thing is you can get more than one batch out of a package and every batch makes a lot. Also, I have made it with less quinoa and more veggies to decrease the carb ratio and that works fine too. If you have an abundance of cucumbers in your garden this is the perfect use. A second great thing about this is that you end up with everything you need to make guacamole - score! Since I have made this most often for lunches I haven't include the avocado because it tends to get funky. If you were serving it right away I am sure it would be even better with avocado, but it's good without it as well.
Quinoa Chickpea Salad
Adapted slightly from SkinnyTaste
1 cup chopped tomatoes
15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 tbsp chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
a lime or two
Salt and pepper

Combine first six ingredients.  Squeeze lime juice over all and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and store in refridgerator until ready to serve.

21 Day Fix-ers:
Mix garbanzos and quinoa.  In a seperate bowl combine remaining ingredients.  Measure out a yellow of the barbanzo quinoa combo and a green of the veggie combo.  Combined = 1 yellow, 1 green.

Like this Quinoa salad?  Try our Quinoa Taco Bowl for another easy on the go meal! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The children who were not our sons or daughters

I wonder sometimes, wonder what God's plan is.

It's not that He is hiding it from us or that He doesn't want us to know.  It's just that He only shows us a step or two at a time and He often doesn't explain His rationale.

When you are given hope of a little boy and you pray and pray believing that, crazy as the situation is, God could work it out... You fast and pray as the court date comes entreating God to just make His will clear.  And the mother asks the current foster family to adopt him.  Clear direction - he is to be someone else's son.

When the worker emails you that your foster license is approved and then calls a half hour later asking "Do you want this little girl?  They need to know today".  You ask questions and pray pray pray for God to make it clear while you frantically clean sheets and wash sippy cups.  And you wait. Anxiously. Uncertainty changing into excitement which slowly fades to disappointment as the whole day passes in silence.  Clear direction - they already found a place for her.

When the weeks pass in silence, when workers are discouraging or offer false hope, when you just think "Our kids could be out there somewhere.  In someone else's home.  Sleeping in another bed"..... sometimes I wonder.

When you hear out of a blue sky about two boys that may need placement soon and you again ask questions and pray for clear direction.  And wait.  And pray. And wait.  In silence.  Maybe one of these is our son?  Maybe not.  And so we wait, and pray.
And I do wonder - why bring these children across our path if they are not to be our sons and daughters?  Is this a cruel game where God lets us get our hopes up and then dashes them?
No.  Rather,
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
     He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
     He gently leads those that have young.
                                     Isaiah 40:11
And He gently leads those that are waiting for young too.

I do not know His plan for all of this.  But I do know that His understanding no one can fathom (Isaiah 40:28b).  It is beyond me. And while I don't know His plan for this I can know His will in this because He has said Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess 5:18).  Sometimes the giving of thanks is a hard fought discipline, but it is worth the effort and it is changing me.

While I see just slivers of His plan, I do begin to see.  To see that when there is uncertainty He is teaching us to trust.  When we cannot understand we are learning to throw ourselves on His mercy.  When hopes are dashed, He comforts us.
I begin to see that my prayers are more concrete.  For these are not the prayers of "Lord, help the children" because these children have faces and names and are, however briefly, a part of our story.  That night my heart ached for the little girl who might have shared my same initials, knowing that she was uprooted, in a new house, with new people, sleeping in a strange bed.  In these days and weeks she comes to mind... she's in a new school.  Holidays are coming up... will someone dress her up like a fairy princess or a unicorn?  Will they snuggle her up and read her Christmas stories?  Does she know that she is loved?  And this changes my prayers.
And these little boys... I give thanks that God has provided a home, give thanks that the little one has begun to trust, give thanks that there is a family who loves him who is willing to keep him.  And I cry out to God for these other two realizing that both of them will not come to us, and perhaps neither will...realizing how many children there are that we can't adopt... how many still need homes, still need people to love them... and it is overwhelming.
But. for. God.
And that changes my prayers.

So while there are many things I cannot see and do not know I am learning to remember that -
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16).
And that means this day and these hopes and these uncertainties are part of His plan.
So we continue waiting, and praying, and trusting in His unfailing love.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Quinoa Taco Bowl

Before this summer we had never eaten quinoa nor did we even really know what it was.  Our first experience was on our vacation up north when I decided to make a quinoa salad recipe to take with us on our day trips.  It turned out great and was so simple to make!  We took it with us several days and it was not only very filling but also portable and kept well in the fridge.  

Since it turned out so well I was thinking of making a taco version with black beans and this is what I came up with.  It is delicious and I love that it is a whole meal all prepared in one bowl.  When I made this I actually portioned it out into containers as soon as I made it and had several days worth of lunches ready to go.  Definitely makes my life easier. 

I am doing a challenge with some friends and have been watching carbs much more closely, which is why I made this veggie and protein heavy. However, if you wanted to make this more like a traditional pasta type salad you could add more quinoa.  Avocado would also be a great addition to throw in just before serving.
Let me know what you think if you try it.
Hope you enjoy!

Quinoa Taco Bowl

1 cup plain quinoa unprepared
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 can black olives, rinsed, drained and chopped
1/2 to 1 onion depending on preference, chopped
3 bell peppers, chopped
2 large or 4-5 small tomatoes, chopped
4 cups cooked shredded chicken or ground beef (seasoned if desired)
Juice of 1/2 lime

Prepare quinoa according to package directions.  In a large bowl combine vegetables and meat.  Mix in slightly cooled quinoa and juice of half a lime.  Add minced cilantro and salt to taste.

Makes approximately 8 meal sized portions but could also be served as a side dish.

21 Day Fix-ers:  If you substitute additional meat for either the corn OR the beans this would come out to approximately 1 yellow, 1 green, 1 red, and 1/2 blue.  You can obviously measure if you want to be precise.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Garden Update - Winter 2015

Winter has certainly come with snow upon snow and chilly temps that make me want to just curl up with a cup of cocoa and a good book.  Thankfully there have been sunny days that almost blind you with the brilliance of the snow and our slider door has again become a greenhouse to brighten things up.  Perhaps you would like to see this glimpse of spring too?

Christmas cactus - it didn't take kindly to being
moved (we later read and were told that they like to 
stay in one spot) but had some nice flowers and
will hopefully be happier next year when it isn't
re-homed mid bloom.

Amaryllis starting up!

A mini orchid that we found.

The irises that had gotten confused by the weather.
We brought them inside to give them a chance at life
and they ended up blooming after all.  Very exciting :)

The amaryllis had a baby over the summer and
we transplanted it to it's own pot when we 
brought them out of dormancy.
We later learned that it maybe didn't want to be 
separated that early, but so far seems to be doing well.

Finally a bloom!

Some muscari for David... the latest addition to the green house.

I hope that this has brought some sunshine to your day.  One day spring will come!  
What are you enjoying about winter or anticipating about spring?

Monday, January 5, 2015

While I've been away...

Hello again friends :)

If anyone frequents the blog (ok, so mostly our parents!) they will have noticed that I fell off the face of the blog-o-sphere in early November.  Life happens and, while blogging ideas abounded, the time or focus to write about them did not.  David suggested that I could write about everything that's been happening while I haven't been blogging.  So if you were curious, here you go....

School pressed on.  I am burnt out on the program but pushed through the past two classes resulting in a glorious month off before starting my last two.  Almost there.

We carved pumpkins with the Junior Highers. 

The morning glories finally decided to bloom... in October. 

I worked on Thanksgiving but we were able to celebrate with both of our families afterwards.  Winter came early with snow that seemed to just keep falling for days.  Then it decided to leave and the weather seamed unseasonably warm for the month of December. 

On the garden front our bulbs were confused by the odd weather and started sprouting in our garage.  Even the ones left in the large pot on our deck started poking through.  I am afraid they might be done for.  We brought in one pot of mini irises but had to leave most of the others outside as they were mixed in with perennials.  

I accepted two last minute custom orders for Christmas gifts and enjoyed my lack of homework by painting signs while watching season two of Call the Midwife (never mind that I hadn't seen season one... the library only had season two at the time and when else will I have time to watch it?!).  The first order was for a crate with words painted on the sides.  In my eagerness to get it done I forgot to take a picture.  The second was a sign on repurposed wood, which I remembered to take pictures of so that I could post it to Etsy.  However, when I had delivered the sign and went to put the pictures on the computer I found that every picture taken in the month of December had mysteriously vanished :(     
On the up side, David probably won't mind if I have to make snickerdoodle ice cream or cherry almond rolls again before I can post them to the blog.

Due to unexpected trades and call-offs I had the special blessing of being in church every week for more than a month straight.  We got to see our niece and nephew in the Christmas program and ourselves participated in the cantata.  David laughed at me because, for once, I was able to read a whole book without having to renew it or return it to the library partially finished (it was called The Spark and was a very interesting and thought provoking read).  We dreamed and adventured and spent time together - one of the best parts of winter :)

As of now we are watching our amaryllis grow and scheming for when it will be warm enough to plant outside.  It's almost time for school to start again.  And maybe sooner or later winter will come again in ernest.

Hope that you are enjoying wherever it is that the winter finds you!

Friday, January 2, 2015

German style coleslaw

This recipe comes to you at the request of several friends who ate it at our New Year's party.  I often make it in the summer time to go with burgers or brats, but when I heard someone was making pulled barbecue sandwiches for our gathering this seemed like just the thing to go with it... winter or not.  It is simple to put together and the taste is great.  The recipe recommends letting it marinate a few hours before serving and, while we have eaten it after several days, it is best if eaten within one day.  This fact makes a double batch perfect for a potluck because if you use the whole cabbage there will certainly be enough to share.

[Sorry, no picture due to being mostly eaten at the potluck... it was good!]

German Coleslaw

adapted slightly from 

1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp white sugar
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise 

Combine all ingredients except cabbage in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add in sliced cabbage and stir to combine well.  Cover and place in refrigerator for two or three hours.  Stir well before serving.

Notes -
This recipe is quick because I use a mandolin style slicer for chopping the cabbage (I have this one).  You could also use a pre-cut cabbage mix if you wanted to avoid the cutting altogether.   


Monday, November 10, 2014

November is Adoption Month!

It's November already.  The temperatures are dropping and thoughts turning to Thanks and pumpkins and turkeys and family get-togethers.  In the midst of this I am reminded to rejoice with those whose families have grown through the process of adoption - children welcomed and loved as sons and daughters.  I couldn't help but think of this as a family in our church celebrated their first "gotcha day" anniversary this past week.  And I am also reminded to pray for those still waiting for families to call their own.  Some of my friends are in the midst of this process and it reminds me even more to be in prayer for these children and families.
Here are some resources for Adoption Month that you may find helpful regardless of whether or not you, or people you know, are adopting.

This sermon by John Piper is a good reminder of our need to trust in "the all-sufficiency of God's future grace"... and I certainly need that reminder!

Ever go to pray and you're not sure what to say?  Not sure how to pray for orphans?  Here is a Foster Care Prayer Guide with a lot of helpful ideas. 

Considering adoption but not sure where to start?  Jillian, an adoptive mama over at Adding a Burden shares eight ways to get the ball rolling.  See her post here.   

A few weeks ago we talked about the idea of a Blessingway and making a baby shower more meaningful.  I found this description of a toddler adoption shower which describes perfectly a gathering that blessed and encouraged.  So cool to read! 

    Adopted For Life by Russell Moore is a great book recommended by an adoptive mama friend.  I appreciate how he explained and fleshed out our adoption by God!

And lastly, if you don't want to be convicted, you probably shouldn't watch this video...

Consider lifting these little ones (and big ones!) up in prayer this month.  Perhaps think about what you can do to make a difference... be His hands and feet?


p.s. I love families and children and have since long before David and I were a family.  Since I have lots of thoughts in this area I have decided to write about them from time to time... though I realize it could start the rumor weed growing at a fantastic rate.  If you hear any rumors brewing about what's going on in the Brick house, please realize that they are most likely unfounded and do your part to keep the weeds from spreading.  Thank you!