Saturday Night Soup

AKA “I haven’t gotten groceries in a while and decided to make something with whatever I could find in my kitchen”!

I enjoy watching the show Chopped on the Food Network.  If you’ve never seen the show, it is a competition between four chefs through an appetizer, dinner, and dessert round.  After each course, one chef is “chopped” (eliminated) so that the final round is just two chefs head to head.  The twist is that they have to include all ingredients from a mystery basket in their food.  Sometimes the ingredients are pretty strange, like wheatgrass in a dessert as I saw on an episode today!

So tonight, as I scavenged through my pantry and fridge, I felt a little like those chefs when they pull the mystery items out of their basket.

Okay, maybe not quite like those chefs… I don’t have any wheatgrass in my kitchen.  But I did have fun figuring out what to make with the ingredients I found!

For tonight’s dinner I used…

  • Butter potatoes
  • 1/2 an onion
  • Baby carrots
  • Frozen corn
  • Canadian bacon
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • Milk
  • Sour cream
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

I made a creamy potato soup, or maybe more of a chowder I guess.  I sauteed the onions and one clove minced garlic in a saucepan with butter.  When the onions were softened, I added the vegetable broth, some salt and pepper, and the potatoes (chopped), then covered the pan and let the potatoes cook.  I sliced up the baby carrots and a few pieces of Canadian bacon.  Once the potatoes were soft, I used my immersion blender (love that thing!) to puree them… although I left a few bigger pieces cause I like that extra texture.

Before…

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After…

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I poured in some milk to thin it down a bit, then added the carrots, corn, and Canadian bacon and left it covered on medium heat until everything was cooked through.  At the end I stirred in a spoonful of sour cream.

I had a couple sourdough loaves from Panera, the ones they use as bread bowls, so I sliced them open on top and used those to serve the soup in.

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Oh yeah, and sprinkled a little shredded cheddar on top.  Yum!

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So what do you think?  Could I make it through a round on Chopped?  I’m pretty sure the answer is no, but at least Steve and I enjoyed our dinner which is all that really matters!

Now what for dessert?  Hmmmm… wheatgrass anyone?

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An Unexpected Journey

Check it out… the 2nd official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  I am so looking forward to this movie!  Last December I shared the first trailer and commented that it seemed a bit mean to put out a trailer a year in advance.  It’s still a few months away, but we’re certainly getting closer!

I love the line Gandalf says when Galadriel asks him why he chose Bilbo to join their journey… “Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage”.

I could certainly say that about God.

There are many steps in my journey of life that make me afraid, more so in these days surrounding and following June 15th than ever before, and I am so very thankful that God is with me because He gives me courage.

This week I prayed He would give me courage as I started the next part of my unexpected journey… a new job.

I had been planning to be home with our baby at this point, but plans have changed… instead I am back in the classroom.  I began my new teaching job on Monday and I’ll warn you in advance that the blogs may be a bit sporadic in the coming weeks as I get myself back into the swing of things!  I’ll do my best though.

After working previously as a long term sub, this is my first full time teaching job!  For privacy sake I won’t name the school, but I will give a few details.  This position is in special education, which is different from the past when I was in biology.  Although I will really miss teaching bio, the students I am working with are great so far.

It is a resource room position which will be a learning process for me, but I hope that the smaller setting of my classroom will give me the opportunity to get to know each student better.  I am working with both freshmen and seniors, separately of course!

I am very thankful for the job, especially since it came up at the last minute (the school year already started a couple weeks ago) and is in a wonderful district.  It will be good to be teaching again and getting more experience in the field.

At the same time, it seems strange to be heading off to work when for so long I had pictured myself being at home.  It makes the loss of our baby feel even more official, if that makes any sense at all.  I’m starting a new job because my baby is gone.  Such finality.

And that is the unexpected part of the journey, right?  Easy?  No way.  It is so very hard sometimes.  But I do believe it’s the right thing for me now.

I’m praying and hoping that I can impact these kids in a positive way.  I will be encouraged if I can really make a difference in their lives. Because if Faith had lived, I wouldn’t be in this position… and it will help me to see some good coming (indirectly) from her death if I can make their lives better even in some small way.

I’m tired out already and looking forward to the weekend to regroup from my first week.  I’ll keep trying to take it one step at a time.  And as I walk this unexpected, and at times very difficult, journey I will keep reaching for God… because when I’m afraid, He gives me courage.

Tears in the Theater

Last night Steve and I went out on a date.  We saw the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green and ate dinner at PF Changs.

Back in February I wrote about how we had gone on an impromptu outing to the movie theater.  I wrote then, “Next year at this time we won’t be able to decide on a whim to go out to the movies.  Instead we’ll have to plan ahead and find a babysitter for the evening.”

Turns out I was wrong.

And while I desperately wish we couldn’t just pick up and leave for an evening now, we did have a good time together.

If you’ve seen the previews for The Odd Life of Timothy Green you may wonder why we chose to go see it.  A movie about a couple struggling to have a child might not seem like the most logical pick for a couple whose baby recently died.  And yet I really wanted to see it.  I brought a bunch of tissues, planning to cry, and sat down in the theater with the hope that it would also make me smile.

I definitely cried.  But I also smiled.

I won’t give any spoilers about the plot because I highly recommend you go out and watch this movie.  Sure, it has a bit of a fairytale quality to it.  But the message is no fairytale at all… it is a true and touching look at heartbreak and disappointment, at love and joy and hope.  Imperfect people struggling with real pain and finding that the greatest gifts can come in unexpected ways.

If people saw my tears in the theater, I bet they just assumed I’m overly emotional during movies.

But the truth is, my tears came from the heartbreak over losing our baby.  A grief and pain that cannot be put into words.  My tears came for the disappointment over all the dreams we had for our life together with her that will not be.

And yet, my tears also came from the promise I continue to cling to.  The promise that I will see Faith again.  A part of our family, a part of myself, will always be missing.  Always until Heaven.

And my tears came as comfort.  Comfort because I know that Faith’s life, no matter how short, made an impact on us that will last forever.

We are so incredibly blessed to call her ours.

PS If you haven’t seen the preview but are interested… check it out below!

The Best Kind of Love Stories

If Steve is gone for the evening and I have some free time, I’m in the habit of watching a chick flick.  Not that Steve wouldn’t watch one with me if I asked, but its a fun, girly way to spend some time when he’s gone.  Last night was one of those times.  Steve was on a guys outing this weekend with his dad and brothers to see a Yankees game, so after spending the afternoon out in the beautiful sunshine, I settled down for the evening to watch North and South.

I discovered North and South on Netflix several weeks ago.  Its actually not a movie, but a four part BBC series.  And yes, I had already watched all four episodes a few weeks earlier, but I loved it so much that I couldn’t resist watching it again… in one sitting.  Oh boy!

I am not ashamed to admit that I love the Jane Austen type of movies, or “period dramas” as I think they’re officially called.  Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite movies and North and South has some similar themes, which may be part of the reason I like it.

No, its not a Civil War story as you might guess from the title.  The series is based on a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell and centers around the relationship between Margaret Hale and John Thornton in the setting of an industrial city in 19th century England.

Margaret Hale is forced to leave the home she loves in the south of England when her father chooses to move the family to the northern city of Milton.  It is there they meet Mr. Thornton, a manufacturer who runs a cotton mill.  I won’t try to give much in the way of a synopsis since I would end up either spoiling things for someone who might want to watch this, or boring those people who don’t want to watch it (but you should watch it!!).  I will say that there is a love story, of course, but I also really enjoyed the storyline of both the Hale and Thornton families, as well the historical context of a threatened strike at the cotton mills and the struggles of life at that time.

I loved watching the movie again last night as much as I did the first time.  Today I was thinking about why these kinds of movies stick with me.  Why do I enjoy them so much?

Part of it is the historical setting.  I think it is interesting to imagine life in such a different time…where everything from their clothing to the way they interact with one another is so foreign compared to today.  Another part of it is the suspense of being the outside viewer… knowing both characters’ stories, seeing how those stories have shaped who they are but have also contributed to misunderstandings or struggles between them, and just waiting and hoping they will come to understand each other.

But I think the main reason is that, to me, these are the best kind of love stories.

Culture today is so obsessed with physical things that the word love has become skewed, and is instead wrongly used to describe thoughts and actions of lust.  Take a look at the love stories in (most) movies based in the modern day.  How much of the story is focused on the physical attraction?  How long does it take for the characters to hop into bed together?  And how often is this portrayed as the sign of “love” between them?

Whereas in these, North and South-type movies, a simple touch of the hand is special and a kiss is practically sacred.  By the time the characters actually get together, the sweet innocent kiss they share is a million times more meaningful than any of those modern characters sleeping together (not to mention a much better moral model – see Hebrews 13:4).

In these stories, although there may certainly be physical attraction, the characters come to love one another for who they are as an individual, for their inner traits and the qualities that define them.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that, in coming to love one another, the characters bring out the best in each other.

There is always some initial misunderstanding, some flaw in each individual that the other person clearly sees.  But over time their relationship allows each person to recognize their own faults.  In doing so they not only change for the better, but also become more forgiving and understanding of one another, and more capable of appreciating the good in the other person.  Neither person is perfect, but they love each other anyway, and its the journey to discover this truth that makes their love so much more worthwhile.

If we are honest with ourselves, isn’t this what we all want, and need, in a true love relationship?  I am certainly thankful that in my marriage I am loved for who I am and am challenged through our relationship to become a better person, and to be forgiving of each other when we make mistakes.  Neither of us are perfect, but we love each other through it all!  That is the kind of love that lasts, that is worth pursuing and treasuring.

And that’s why I think stories like North and South stick with me.  I recommend watching it… not just because it is a compelling story, with great acting and a beautiful soundtrack, but because it is truly romantic in the way that many modern stories are missing out.

Because it is an example of the best kind of love story.

“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure”

The trailer for The Hobbit (Part I – An Unexpected Journey) is out and looks great!  One part of me is super excited to see it, another part of me thinks its sorta evil to release the trailer now when the movie doesn’t come out until NEXT December!  Patience is a virtue, haha!

The Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of my favorite movies, and books for that matter, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the prequel is brought to life on the big screen.  Fellow LOTR fans, take a look and tell me what you think!