Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Joy of Perseverance

(You'll probably notice that I'm being vague in this post, and I want you to know that it's intentional.  The issues I'm dealing with aren't public at this time, but that doesn't mean I can't share what I'm learning through them.)

The past seven months have been difficult for me.  I've wanted to say that this struggle has been amazing, and that I see myself being refined in the fire--that I see the purpose in all of this.  But I have had no words.  I have wanted to share the joy of victories and triumph, but that hasn't been my story.

(c) Infrogmation on Wikimedia Commons

But what I do know is this:  the struggles in this life remind me that this world is not my home.

I can find joy in that.  You may say that I should be rejoicing in so many more things; I am so blessed!  But sometimes in the midst of a struggle, you feel like it's all you can do to keep one foot going in front of the other.  Perseverance.

And in the middle of all of my frustrations, doubts, and questions, I hear this:
"When completeness comes, what is in part disappears... for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
1 Corinthians 13:10,12
This is the joy of perseverance.

Today, I'm staring in a foggy mirror and wondering why it has to be this way.  But it won't always be this way, and that's how I can find joy right here, right now.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Recipe: Strawberry/Blackberry Chia Seed Jam (Or How to Dye Your Wooden Spoon in 15 Minutes)

Pinterest is one of the coolest inventions of this century. I find the most interesting things while browsing--things I never would have thought of otherwise! A more recent discovery was Chia seed jam. Now, historically, I have not been a jam person. "I'll take a PB&J, please, hold the J." It's usually very sweet, contains no recognizable fruit, and has a strange consistency (I get freaked out by things that hold their shape when they come out of their container). BUT, this recipe had Chia seeds in it, and if you don't know, they have this strange property where when they're exposed to water, they swell and form a gelatinous outer layer. This makes them incredibly cool (in a science experiment-y kind of way) aaaaaand perfect for instant jam!

Now, as far as I know, you shouldn't try to can this recipe. It's more of a freezer-jam-style recipe (although I haven't frozen it yet, so I don't know how well that would work). Contact your local Extension Agent before you try canning this to make sure it's safe.

I stuck pretty close to the original recipe, but then again, that's easy to do when there's only four ingredients! And it's hard to mess up when there's only four ingredients!  And there's no worry about the perfect sugar/pectin ratio.  I'm pretty sure this jam will set every time.  Every. Time.  (Can I get a Hallelujah?)  Oh yes, aaaaaaaand it tastes like REAL FRUIT!  (Hallelujah!)

Strawberry/Blackberry Chia Seed Jam

By the Spares

Adapted from Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam by Oh She Glows

16 oz. Fresh Strawberries, chopped in 1/4" pieces
12 oz. Fresh Blackberries
1/4 to 1/3 c. Sugar (depending on the sweetness of your berries)
2 T. Chia Seeds

Combine fruit and sugar in a medium pot on medium heat.  Smash berries with a wooden spoon and cook until juice comes to a low boil.

Stir in Chia seeds and simmer for 15 minutes, until jam is thick.

1. Store in an airtight container.  Lasts 1 week in the fridge.
2. I like to enjoy this on buttered toast or stirred into plain Greek yogurt! (Hallelujah!)
3. I found a big bag of Chia seeds at my local organic food supply store.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recipe: Brisket Tacos

The first time I had a Brisket Taco was in Dallas on the recommendation of our friends (I think it was this place).  Handsome and I had never even heard of such a thing (and we consider ourselves pretty well-versed on Mexican/Tex-Mex/Kans-Mex food, since we live in the same town as so many REAL Mexicans).  They.  Were.  Amazing.  It's like all of the things I love about brisket and about Mexican food rolled into one, juicy taco!

We go classic when we eat these at home.  Warm tortillas slathered with sour cream, pile the meat high, scatter chopped cilantro, some salsa or purple onion, squeeze a lime on top and it's go-time.  Honestly, though, this meat's pretty great in a regular sort of taco, too.  It reminds me a lot of Chipotle's Barbacoa, but a little less spicy.  However you decide to eat it, just get-going and make it, because it's tasty!

Brisket Tacos
by The Spares

3-4 lb. Brisket*
6 Chipotle Peppers (from canned Chipotles in Adobo sauce)
1-3 T. Adobo Sauce (from can)
4 c. Beef Broth
6 cloves Garlic, peeled
2 T. Cumin
2 t. Oregano
Salt & Pepper

Optional:  Heat smoker to 250 degrees F with your favorite wood--my husband likes to use Walnut.  Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the brisket and smoke for 2 hours (we're not trying to cook it here, just get some smoke flavor).

Combine peppers, Adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano and 3 T. broth in a food processor.  Process until smooth and set aside.

At this point you can use a slow cooker or your oven.  If using your oven, preheat to 300 degrees F.

Place (smoked) brisket in a slow cooker insert or roasting pan.  Spread Chipotle sauce on top of brisket and pour broth around the sides.  If using oven, cover roasting pan tightly with foil.  For both oven and slow cooker, cook on low for 8-10 hours, until brisket shreds easily with a fork.

Remove brisket from pan onto a large platter or cutting board.  Shred with two forks (be careful, it's hot!).  Moisten the shredded meat with some of the sauce.  You probably need to use at least half of the juices.  For a spicier taco, reduce pan juices by boiling them in a pot on the stove for 10-20 minutes, and use all of the juices to moisten the meat.

Serve on warm tortillas with sour cream, cilantro, diced purple onion, homemade salsa, and a squeeze of lime juice!

*I can usually buy a half brisket (8-12 lb) at the local packing plant and save half for later.  This freezes very well, so don't worry if you can only find a large piece of brisket.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Battling Negativity

Yesterday, I was having a total bummer of a day.  Nothing was going right.  I. was. so. frustrated.  I ugly-cried.  (You know what I mean.)  And you know who wasn't helping me out?


I say the meanest things to myself.  And sometimes I don't even realize it.  So, yesterday I started doing something that did help me out.  (And I thought I'd share it, because maybe you guys are mean to yourselves sometimes, too.)

When I start saying to myself, "This is so frustrating.  I can't do anything right.  What is my problem!?" I rephrase it to sound like someone else is saying it to me.  Like this:

"You are so frustrating.  You can't do anything right.  What is your problem!?"


I wouldn't let someone else say that to me... so why do I say it to myself?  Am-I-right?  Rephrasing my negative self-talk helps me see how mean I really am being to myself, and gives me a chance to look at the issue realistically.  It gives me the chance to say, "Yes, sometimes situations don't go my way and they are frustrating, but I do many things right every day, and some situations are out of my control.  There's no use beating myself up about them."  Yay!  So much better, right?

I hope you found some encouragement in this!

Friday, January 11, 2013


I just heard this song and it blew me away.  I have no idea if Train is cool anymore or not (my dear brother, if you're reading this, I'm sorry), but I think they released an album recently, which means there's a chance.

Words lyrics


I'd give anything but I won't give up on you
I'd say anything, but not goodbye
I will run with your changes and I'm always on your side
And there's not a word I've ever heard that would make me change my mind

Words they'll try to shake you
Don't let them break you
Or stop your world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Like stones in your pocket people try to wear you down
Someone always wants to take the love you've found
So let's runs with these changes and I want you by my side
And there's not a word I've ever heard that would make me change my mind

Words they'll try to shake you
Don't let them break you
Or stop your world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Let them burn
Let them burn
Underneath every word somebody's heart been broken
With or without words we try to forget

Words they'll try to shake us
Don't let them break us
Or stop our world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Words they'll try to shake you
Don't let them break you
Or stop your world, stop your world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Let them burn
Let them burn

© EMI Music Publishing