Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Heart: Homemade Pesto

How great is pesto!? I love it because:
1. It's heart-healthy
2. It's easy-as-pie to make a big batch and freeze
3. It whips out of the freezer and plops onto plain noodles or pizza dough (with meat and/or veggies if you want) with panache
4. A little bit goes a long way
5. My hubby likes it a lot

Here's the recipe I used recently:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped
2 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
5 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
a dash of s & p

We had it a few nights ago atop whole wheat spaghetti noodles, alongside chicken pieces, sauteed asparagus, peas, onions, and mushrooms, and topped with feta cheese. Yum!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Antidote for Hard Times: Gratefulness

I'm a new mom. And it's hard. I think it's the hardest thing I've ever done to date.

I'm disappointed that hard times bring out the worst in me. My friend Todd told me once that it's hardest for him to care about others' needs when he's sick or going through a hard time personally. I've noticed the same trend in my life.

I was reminded recently about gratefulness and how important it is to practice being grateful. It might sound weird to practice gratefulness, but I know that for me it doesn't just come naturally. Especially during hard times. But it's exceptionally important for me to be grateful in hard times because it helps me get the focus off myself and on God and other people, which I think is the best place to live. And life could always be worse than it is.

So I've resolved to exercise my grateful-muscle more often. Here's a start:

I'm grateful for a healthy baby Howard who lives at my house and not in the hospital.
I'm grateful for a husband who cares for me and Howard, and that I don't have to care for Howard all by myself.
I'm grateful that Howard is napping right now so that I can even be writing this post.

How have you seen gratefulness change your perspective?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My LifeI just finished Donald Miller's newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It has the usual Donald Miller feel: raw, memoir-esque, easy to read, personal. I was both personally challenged and pleasantly surprised by its relevancy for many 18-35 year old readers. (It is a frequent concern of mine that many current bestsellers - especially Christian bestsellers - are good, but published just one generation too late.)

My husband and I have been having a ton of fun dreaming together lately about all of the possibilities of what our lives might still hold. What might we do? Where might we go? We keep telling God that our lives are His and that He can do whatever He wants with them. In a scary and delightful way we wonder, then, just what might God do?

Thank you, Donald Miller, for affirming those dreams and calling me out to live a bigger story than the safe but extremely boring one my affinity for comfort secures for me.

A few quotables:

"...people are just people even if they are world leaders." 165

"Part of me wonders if our stories aren't being stolen by the easy life." 186

"When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are. And when you stop expecting material possessions to complete you, you'd be surprised at how much pleasure you get in material possessions. And when you stop expecting God to end all your troubles, you'd be surprised how much you like spending time with God." 206

"A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life." 212

Has anyone else read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years recently? What did you like and learn?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yay! and a Giveaway for Three Winners

Yay yay yay! for Carla F. and Janelle R. who went for a run in response to my March 24 post How to Be a Runner Vol 2: Start Now. Carla posted a comment and Janelle "cheated" and texted me. I'm oh-so-happy to be just a smidgen of inspiration to both of you.

As I hinted I might do, I'm sending both of you something scrumptious - a 1/2 dozen each of my very own homemade granola bars made fresh from the recipe on my March 4 post An Easy and Healthy On-the-Go Snack. These ones are blueberry coconut bars made with cashews, macadamia nuts, and (a nut I've never used in this recipe before) soy nuts. The soy nuts gave them a special extra crunchy texture. Carla and Janelle, we'll be in touch so that I can get your addresses and your granola bars can be on their merry way!

You may have noticed that the title of this post suggests three winners. I'd love to send just one more of my runner-wannabe lucky readers a few of my granola bars. Just post a comment for us all to see after you go for your first newly-inspired run.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to Be a Runner. For the run of it: Vol 4. Don't live to run.

Run to live. Don't live to run. My life is better with running in it, but running is not my life.

A word of advice about how to be a runner and stay motivated? Don't let running become your everything. Don't let it become the thing you obsess over or the thing that defines you. I've been there. It's destructive, defeating, and disappointing. And you'll drive your friends crazy.

Let running bring freedom, challenge, discipline, and fun to your life. But don't look to it to bring fulfillment.

I really need to keep different areas of my life in check, in a healthy balance. So, I often ask myself, "What if _______ was taken away from me? Would I just be sad, or would I be devastated? Would I be upset, or would I be beside myself with self-pity? Would life eventually go on, or would I isolate myself, buried in self-destructive thoughts?"

I love running so much that I have to ask myself that question about running from time to time. "What if running was taken away from me?" At any moment, really, I could get really busy at work, break my ankle, or develop a life-threatening illness. I'd be disappointed for sure, but I wouldn't be in despair.

Have you ever been there - looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places?
How do you keep from letting something become your everything?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to Be a Runner. For the run of it: Vol 3. Find a friend.

Finding a running partner is unarguably both the most difficult and most rewarding thing to start and keep you motivated to run.

I'm lucky. I have Megan.

We're a perfect fit. We run at just the right pace. We talk just the right amount and about all kinds of things. We inadvertently take turns challenging each other to run harder, longer, and up steeper hills. We both run to clear our heads, exhaust our bodies, and be away from our beloved but sometimes tiring day jobs.

I love Megan so much. One thing I love about her a lot is that the further she runs, the more she loosens up. We share life together: the wonderful and the difficult. On occasion, we have to stop in the middle of a run because we're both crying over the life we're sharing. We stop and just hold each other and cry and wipe the snot on our sleeves (the only time it is acceptable for adults to do this).

In conclusion, do whatever it takes to find a running friend who is a good fit for you. And when you find one, don't ever leave them and don't let them leave you. Megan and I won't even talk about "What happens if one of us moves away?" I'm hiding in the back of her U-Haul when she moves.

If you want, I'll pray for God to bring you a Megan. Just comment and ask me.