Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finally back for a Berry fun summer!

Well, it's been far too long since I last wrote a little ditty. Much has happened...finals ended, we moved into a new home, friends and family came to visit (and offer manual moving labor!), and I started a Maymester class. Whew, I'm tired thinking about it, haha. Our house is a slew of boxes, 10 days after the move, but *no surprise* the kitchen is almost finished.

Thanks to Mom, every cabinet and drawer is filled with fun red and white shelf paper. (Thanks, Mom!) We ended the moving weekend with a fun brunch at Cafe Cappuccino, the downtown location. It's the best breakfast place I've found in Waco, mostly because of their pancakes that amount to plate-sized flat, spongy bits of heaven. My favorite is the gingerbread pancakes, but the blueberry banana pec
an ones are quite tasty, too.

So I realized that "relaxing" and "summer" mean that I still work 45 hours a week and am taking this May class, but it WILL be more time for cooking/baking, hopefully learning how to sew, learning some Espanol, and reading...lots of reading. I have a stack of books to get into, 3 of which I started this week. (Am I nuts? Yes, probably...)

Here are a few
fun things we've been eating here at the new house:

1) Berries, berr
ies, and more berries...Matt's gettin really good at picking out the most perfectly ripe and pretty strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries at the grocery store. I boil them for a sauce to top on vanilla ice cream, add them to oatmeal with raw granola and soybeans for crunch, eat them atop plain yogurt, eat them raw anytime, and basically go nuts for them. They're so tasty and so good for you, it's just so great. (wow, obsessive...)

2) A spinach fettucini pasta with bacon, zucchini, and asparagus on top. Pesto/olive oil light sauce brought it together,
with some fresh basil (from our patio!) and parmigiano/reggiano shavings for a little cheesy punch. Mm, tastio Italiano!

3) Healthy stuff, like this poblano black bean Gardenburger (left), with a whole wheat bun, topped with bean sprouts and edamame. The side was sliced cucumber and Italian dressing for fun. This is about as healthy as I go, but it was SO TASTY! The Gardenburger had some fiery kick, so do be prepared.

So that's all for now. This is starting to look Christmas-y, so I'll stop now. Happy beginning of

Monday, May 3, 2010


It's Finals Week...this is always such a weird week because there are no classes, but you feel a special bond with everyone else in your classes, suffering through studying, all at the same time. I just learned that one of my close buddies in high school is having marital problems. If they end up ending the marriage, this will be my 3rd friend from high school getting a divorce. (And I'm 26!!)

It's sad, really, but this is the one I wasn't sure about. She and her now husband got married our sophomore year of college. Some joked that she wasn't even legal to have a champagne toast at the wedding. I know 20 isn't THAT young, comparatively, to get married, but it was SO MUCH WAY TOO young for us. She really is a wonderful person. I'm not going to go into much detail, but it seems she lost her identity when she married him. It's not like she went from little church girl to axe murderer or anything like that, but I think his strong personality--the one that she found endearing and confident when they were dating, because his dream was to be CEO--became more manipulative when translated to a marriage, more than anything. I don't really know him that well, but all I know is that I wanted my friend back. She has always been "the smart one," with big dreams of editor of a major newspaper or international businesswoman, etc. But those dreams seemed to be put on the back burner, then fizzled out, when they were 20 years old, trying to finish college, with lots of bills and new responsibilities on their plates.

I never want to appear this way to my longtime friends. Matt & I became friends, started dating, and quickly knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. (emphasis on the QUICKLY) The thing is, it just felt right and I knew God was orchestrating it. Now if I was 20 when it all went down, I'd tiptoe very carefully down this life-changing path of falling in love. I was only 24, but I think those 4 years made a big difference (even though I couldn't have the champagned toast at my wedding, either...long story). Anyway, I definitely found a new identity when we got married, moved to Waco so I could go to grad school, and had to figure out a way to survive in a place neither of us was prepared for. (emphasis on SURVIVE) Some of my identity quickly changed, but I NEVER have lost my core. I'm still Laurel--goofy, clumsy, committed to loving people, and always trying to get better. I'll always sing in the car at the top of my lungs, cry when I get angry, and turn bright red at a moment's notice. My core will never change, and I think that's what matters when you go into a marriage. It's been quite a ride. I used to think it was sad when I heard about someone getting separated or a couple getting a divorce; now that I'm married, it's sad and scary. It's like a funeral, a tragedy, and--while I know lots of people truly are better off single than together--it's still really, really sad. I am thankful for each day that Matt & I are together. It is truly a daily decision to wake up, look next to you, and know that you are committing to be the best spouse you can be for your spouse that day. It's a blessing.

OKAY. More recipes next time...I promise...oh, wait!

I whipped up a pasta last night...took 20 minutes to make...move over, Rachael Ray! (haha, yeah, right!)

*This pasta is so quick and healthy, too! Using a can of low fat soup with a little spice gives this meal a little *kick* and the richness of a cream sauce without the artery clogging. The bacon also gives it a little salty crunch.

8 oz Whole wheat penne pasta (or something "I can stick my fork in," as Mom says)
8 oz Bacon, thickly sliced
1 TB Olive oil
1 Bullion cube in 1 cup Hot water (chicken is good, but any kind works)
8 oz Frozen spinach
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 can Cream of Poblano soup (or some soup with peppery POP/zing)

Lay the bacon slices on a cookie sheet and put in the oven, then heat oven to 400 degrees. Simultaneously cook the pasta as directed on the package. While that's going, put 1 TB of olive oil in a wok/pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. At the same time, put the frozen spinach into the bullion water and heat in the microwave for 4 minutes.

Check on the bacon; it will take about 15 minutes to get crispy. Add the can of soup to the mushrooms; if it's condensed soup, pour the spinach/bullion mixture directly into the pan, but if the soup is ready to serve, drain the spinach. Stir and let cook a few minutes while you tear the bacon into bite-sized pieces and add to pan. Pasta should be ready by this time and -voila! The pasta sauce is green from the spinach and creamy from the soup. I literally put NO SPICES in this recipe! Craziness.