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The Best of Facebook 2013

(We needed a picture to give our socialworker and didn’t have ANY. I’m not kidding, the last one was in 2011. That handy self timer has been my saving grace.)

I kinda love the whole “Year in Review” thing that happens on Facebook. It makes me laugh all over and then also reflect on how inappropriate I am. (Unapologetically, of course.) For example:

-Joel, “You look so beautiful.” Me, “Stop it, I do not.” Joel, “I know, I just thought it would be funny since you are so disheveled today.” Bonus points for using the word disheveled, couch points for the rest of that sentence.

-I just said to my husband, “do you want In N Out, or do you want to cook dinner?”  It’s a win-win for me.

-You guys. Last week I put in an order to Gap to purchase somethings for Joel before the start of the semester as is my usual custom. The package arrived today, so I asked him to try on everything so I could see how it looked. He started through the items and got to a gray shirt which he put on (complaining loudly about the fit) and then said, “Wow, I mean who would even wear a cut like this?!” It was right at that moment that I realized I WOULD wear a cut like that, and I had just made my husband try on a women’s shirt. If it wasn’t so obscene I would have posted a picture for you to laugh too, but I’m seriously going to need therapy, so I thought we should spare you. (And we both cried we were laughing so hard.) Wife of the year right here.

-Just came across this picture of the beautiful Minster in York. Joel had the brilliant idea to climb all the way to the top of one of those towers to propose to me, but what he didn’t know is that I have claustrophobia. When we got to the hundredth and something step in the tower, I started to panic because there were no windows and literally just about 18 inches of space to climb through on really steep stairs. He had to PUSH me up the rest of the way saying, “Theres no where else to go!” Needless to say, he didn’t propose at the top. 12 years later, I see it as a win! I didn’t have to spend any time convincing him my claustrophobia was real and that has made our marriage a whole lot happier (for me anyway).

I’m dreaming of a BBC Christmas

My husband sang to me last night in his sleep. Ten years ago, I would have been afraid, but ten years ago he would have probably sang in spanish and that is just downright frightening at 2 am.

It feels like summer here instead of Christmas which is abnormally normal for Southern California. Wake up to ice on your plants and grass, and by afternoon it’s about 80 degrees. So, I find the best method for getting dressed is layering a tank top, then sweater, then jacket with jeans. That way you can peel the onion and then layer it back on. But who are we kidding, the past few weeks I’ve just stayed in my pajamas until 11 am, then changed into a tank top, then changed back into my pajamas by dinner time. It’s flu season, so it’s really not worth leaving the house anyway, right? Right.

Aside for the obvious exciting upcoming holidays, I have a few other things to look forward in the coming weeks. Mainly centered around my BBC obsession (I told you before, it’s one of those if-it’s-wrong-I-don’t-wanna-be-right kinda things.)

Midwives. Sighhhhh, I love this show and now that we are past the book it was based off of, I have no idea how this next season will go, but you can be sure I will be watching to find out!

Then, there is the Downton Abbey Christmas special. This will be my Christmas gift this year. If you think I’m exaggerating, then you obviously haven’t seen Season 4 yet, nor do you know that Will and Kate watch this show too, because it’s clearly that respectable and amazing and fit for royalty. Get ready.. I won’t spoil it but I will tell you that if you know who Andrew was from Foyle’s War, then you understand how incredibly perfect it is that Andrew is now a Downton Character. Except he isn’t Andrew, he’s Charles Blake and he is even more darling then Andrew.

And last, but definitely not least (possible one of the best ever if you are as big of a Benedict Cumberpatch fan as I am) is Sherlock. There are just no words to even tell you how much I love John and Sherlock’s dynamic. Or how insane, literally, both their characters are. I have watched nearly every sherlock movie, show, book, you name it, ever made. (When you are homeschooled, and become obsessed with a subject, or in this case a fascination with a character, you have special privileges to do all the “research” you need to do. Thanks Mom.)

 

I’ve almost run out of BBC’s to watch. Actually, I may have already run out, don’t tell!  So if one of my british friends reading this could inform your people to start filming at triple speed I would be grateful. xxoo

Luke Thompson - Ha ha ha, love the fact you’ve got hooked on British TV. There’s a programme called the paradise you might like, not sure if it’s been aired out there though!

Gina Szymanek Anderson - Sherlock!

Talia Bastien - Ashley! You have opened the door to my heart!! :) I love BBC and no matter what anybody says, the British understand drama better than we ever will on this side of the pond. :)

Talia~

Johanna Ceornocut - Wait you didn’t mention Doc Martin! I also love all of the above except I have not seen the Sherlock one..,I’ll get on it!

Fancy Food Thoughts: Gluten + Dairy Free Lemon Bundt Cake

If you are in the mood for Lemon, but not in the typical bar form, this is exactly what you are craving! I snuck about half the bundt and almost didn’t leave any to share with Joel. Apparently Lindsay does the same thing to Adam so I think it’s genetic. xxoo

I always forget how much I like lemon cake until I make it. Then I get obsessed and make it several days in a row or in ridiculously large quantities. It’s the tart and sweet together that gets me. This recipe is moist and fluffy with the perfect amount of icing!

GLUTEN + DAIRY FREE LEMON BUNDT CAKE

2 1/4 cup Sarah’s Gluten Free Flour Mix

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup earth balance soy free spread

1 1/2 cups sugar

Zest of two large lemons

3 large eggs

2/3 cup full fat canned coconut milk

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12-15 drops lemon essential oil (optional – it’s a great addition, but can be made without!)

1 Lemon Simple Syrup (see recipe below)

1 Tart Lemon Icing (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the earth balance and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy about 4-5 minutes. (If using an electric mixer use the paddle attachment).

With the mixer on med

ium speed, add eggs one at a time. Then add lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, lemon juice, vanilla and lemon essential oil (if using) and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix together the gluten free flour, salt, baking powder & baking soda.

Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the flour and coconut milk mixtures alternately to the batter until blended.

Pour batter into greased and floured pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until cake is springy and a toothpick will come out clean.

After 10 minutes, remove

the cake from the pan and set it on a cooling rack over a tray or sheet pan. Spoon the lemon syrup over warm cake.

Wait until the cake has cooled, then drizzle with tart lemon icing.

LEMON SIMPLE SYRUP

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool.

TART LEMON ICING

Combine 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice. If you would like a less tart frosting, use half lemon juice, half non-dairy milk.

My Most Favorite Time Of Year

It’s been all kinds of exciting around here lately. Below are three of our best kept, life changing happenings.

A Baby // The long awaited child:

I would say “finally,” but the truth is that this timing is perfect and everything about it just feels so right! We have all been anticipating Zac and Kat having a beautiful baby and I just had this feeling about 5 weeks back that it was happening. Like now. I texted my brother, “Is Kate pregnant?” To which he replied, “We don’t know yet.” Which is obviously the answer you give when you think you are pregnant, but aren’t telling anyone yet! (I knew it!) When they told the family we were all sworn to secrecy until they had made it official on Thanksgiving Day.

So we of course spent the holiday talking about the baby, name possibilities, and morning sickness which has hit Katie full strength. Our girls wrote out a list of their favorite names for their new little cousin, but in reality Zac and Katie need no help as their name list is already bliss.

Back to school  // Joel’s getting his PhD:

Is it less exciting or more exciting when you finally make it to your PhD? Because it’s been 14 years of school (with some breaks in there) so it’s really more like, “Joel’s in school… AGAIN!” I am obviously so proud that he is at this place in his life, and I know his professors and mentors in this program will love him just as much as all his past teachers. He’s basically the most likable guy ever, and he’s smart, and handsome (speaking of handsome, did you see my instagram of the boys playing football yet?) I think the big (and frequent) question that comes up with an announcement like this is, “So what does he want to do with this degree? What job does he want?” And it’s always said as if it expects to be answered with some dramatic aspiration or fame or fortune. The truth is though, that we are staying right where we are going to keep do exactly what we are doing because he loves what he does. This degree will just better him for what he does!

Adoption // Three years of change:

We are coming up the the three year mark with “this” adoption. It has been bumpy, to say the least, and after a lot of agency difficulties (on their part, not ours) we made the decision to switch programs and attempt to pursue foster care which has been on our hearts for a lonnnnnggg time. The best and the worst part of this decision is that foster care is our last and only option. I love that it’s clearly the route we should take, and I hate that it is the last thing available so if for some reason it doesn’t work out and we don’t get a placement with them, we will never be able to adopt again. (Ouch.)  The consolation is that we will always, always, always find ways to support adoption and there are so many ways to do that even if you aren’t personally adopting a child. That being said, we are holding our breath hoping and praying that this will work out because the number of children in foster care is ungodly and it breaks our hearts to sit through the meetings and hear what these kids go through! (I’d take a dozen children if the state would give them to me.) We will hopefully be able to share more on this in the near future, but for now if you could just pray that it will work out we would be so thankful!

So there it is. Our super crazy huge three things that have been taking up a lot of our time and energy the last few months. xxoo

Fancy Food Thoughts: Dairy Free (Gluten Free & Vegan) Lasagna

 

I all but gave up on lasagna long ago when I stopped eating dairy. It just didn’t seem like it was possible to have a delicious satisfying dish without cheese. I’ve learned over the years to be more content living without, but believe me, after eating this dish, you will not be missing cheese at all because you will fully believe you are eating ricotta!

This lasagna is full of homestyle italia goodness and whenever I make it, everyone begs for the recipe! I also love how diverse this can be. If you’re vegan, just omit the meat. If you’re gluten intolerant, use gluten free lasagna noodles!

FANCY FOOD THOUGHTS DAIRY FREE LASAGNA (WITH GLUTEN AND VEGAN OPTIONS)

2 Tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

1 large brown onion, diced

3-4 assorted baby bell peppers, diced

2 packages crimini mushrooms, cut in slices

3-4 zucchini’s chopped

1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped

1 lb hamburger (omit for Vegan option)

3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 lb can of marinara or your favorite pasta sauce

3  8 oz cans tomato sauce

9-12 lasagna noodles (Or use Gluten Free Option) cooked, drained & rinsed OR use no boil noodles

Salt and pepper to taste

1 recipe vegan ricotta cheese (see recipe below)

First, prepare vegan ricotta cheese. This can be done a day or two in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

In a large pan saute garlic, chopped peppers, and onions in olive or coconut oil until tender.

Add mushrooms & zucchini and cook until juices start flowing.

Add baby spinach and cook a couple of minutes longer until the spinach is wilted.

In another pan brown hamburger (if using meat. You can also add extra garlic & onion to the browning beef if desired) and when it’s finished add the marinara & tomato sauces bringing to a simmer. Add chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble lasagna, the pattern is sauce, noodles, ricotta, then veggies.

First spread a thin layer of pasta sauce in bottom of a 9×12 inch dish. Place lasagna noodles in the bottom of pan. Spread vegan ricotta over each noodle, add a layer of veggies, (drain off liquids from the veggies) then add a layer of sauce. Repeat for 3-4 layers depending on how deep your dish is.

Cover with tin foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or according to the instructions on the box of lasagna noodles used.

VEGAN RICOTTA

1 3/4 cups raw cashews soaked 30 minutes or over night in water just to cover
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
4 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1  teaspoon salt

Pulse garlic in food processor or blender until chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process/blend until thick & smooth. Can be placed in an airtight contained and put in fridge a couple of days before using.

ROSEMARY GARLIC KNOTS

1 package pizza dough (Trader Joe’s or Fresh & Easy both have good variety!)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 overflowing tablespoons olive oil

Place minced garlic, rosemary, salt & olive oil to cover in a small ramekin size bowl. Let set while preparing dough. Cut pizza dough into strips and stretch each piece about 6 inches long, making sure they’re not to thin. You want them to be a pretty good thickness. (I got 12 out of one package of dough.) Tie each piece once so it looks like a knot. Brush a baking sheet with some olive oil. Place the knots on baking sheet & brush with olive oil/garlic/rosemary mixture. Make sure you get all the garlic & rosemary on top and in the crevices.  Bake at 425 for 7-10 minutes or until pale golden brown & cooked through. Serve warm.

Candace Wingo - Looks delicious.