Monthly Archives: September 2012

Lean Packing

Infograph from

Here’s a slideshow from the NY Times on how a flight attendant packed for a 10 day trip in a carry-on bag:


I like using a yoga bag (like the Gaiam Everything Fits or Metro Gym Bag) as my carry-on bag and rolling up my Tempur-pedic pillow where the yoga mat usually goes. Then my second carry-on is my purse. It works pretty well for me.

Here’s a great Packing List for Women from Rick Steves. And a Packing List for Men from And another general packing list from

And one more, in case there are children involved–a Travel Kit for Kids from


If you’re flying and checking your luggage, make sure you have one full set of clothes in your carry-on (including under garments). And whatever you do, travel, experience, and enjoy the journey!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Be Still, My Soul

When there are no words and only deep groanings of the heart:

  • Romans 8 – “…sufferings…longings…futility…groaning…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. …Christ Jesus is the one who died…who was raised…who indeed is interceding for us….who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Psalm 46 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble….Be still, and know that I am God…”
  • Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd….You are with me.”
  • Psalm 42 – “…tears…turmoil…cast down…Hope in God…”
  • Matthew 28 – “Jesus said…’behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”

And the Rest of the Summer Reading List…

1-3. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy, including The Hunger Games (384 pages, 2008), Catching Fire (391 pages, 2009), and Mockingjay (400 pages, 2009). Published by Scholastic Books.

I really enjoyed this trilogy. It took me all of one weekend to read all three books! I loved the blatant social commentary on the global dystopia. (The first movie was actually really good too, in my opinion.)

4. Julia Rothman’s Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of Country Life (219 pages. Storey Publishing, 2011).

This book is more of an illustrated guide to life on a farm, with detailed descriptions of parts of a cow, to tractor makes and models, all with beautifully hand drawn artwork. I liked this book so much I bought a copy for my folks to keep on their farm in Tennessee. It’s an excellent resource, especially for hands-on children.

5. Lysa TerKeurst’s Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food (160 pages, published by Zondervan, 2010).

This book is written by the President of the Proverbs 31 Ministries, who publishes the free P31 e-devotionals I get daily. So many people (especially women, it seems) have a hard time finding their comfort in God instead of food. This book is available to help those people change their thinking, and thereby their actions, about what (or Who) to crave first! Easy to read and apply, written by someone who’s “been there, done that.”

Book Review – A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

Molly Wizenberg has as definite a way with words as she does a way with food! As author and creator of the popular Orangette food blog. This book is captivating, free, and written with an excellent style (though a few of her stories contain a little adult content that may be TMI for younger audiences). Regardless, the recipes are fabulous and the auto-biographical content leading up to each recipe is entertaining and heartfelt.

Molly shares the recipes that stood like snapshots in her memories of key events throughout her life, from trips to Paris to her first apartment, from her first boyfriend to meeting her husband, from cooking with her dad to cooking for her dad on his deathbed. She shares recipes that range from sweet cakes to tangy salads, from soups to custard-filled cornbread, and everything in between.

Probably my favorite part was her chapter called “The Change Thing,” in which she shares her fear of change and her intense struggle with it, from each semester at college to bigger life changes. She writes, “I love the concept of routines. For some people, like skydivers and storm chasers, it may sound like torture, but for me, it’s reassuring” (p. 253). I can totally relate to this. And then I laughed as I read her follow up comment on the next page, “I am happy to report, though, that in recent years, I’ve been working on getting friendlier with change, and with its cousin flexibility. Growing up has helped a lot” (p. 254). So true.

This was another one of my “Summer Reading List” books. Personally, I can’t wait to try her “Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Crème Fraîche” on pages 88-89 and her “Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper” on page 222. And the one I’m really looking forward to trying is the “Little Corn Cakes with Bacon, Tomato and Avocado” on page 304.

Published by Simon & Shuster, 2009. 320 pages (plus a “Reading Group Guide” at the end).

Book Review: Francis Chan’s Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Another book I was able to read this summer was Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan (121 pages. Published by DCJacobson, 2008).

If you read the first chapter or two and want to stop, keep reading. It might start a little slowly, but its worth finishing. This book really helped me understand how BIG God is and how great He is! Here’s a little companion video concerning “The Awe Factor of God”:

And here’s one more, featuring the author Francis Chan. It’s about 15 minutes long, but it’s worth watching. This great and awe-filled God loves us so much and we need to stop and think about it more than we do.

Book Review – The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

This was one of the first books I read off of my summer reading list, and it was a fast favorite! Kristin Kimball, Harvard grad and journalist from Manhattan, NYC, falls in love with farming (and farmer Mark) and shares her love story in this charming, autobiographical novel. (The e-book subtitle is “On Farming, Food and Love.”)

Kristin describes her journey from a high-speed city with its high-stress jobs, high heels and high-priced designer clothes to an Upstate New York, ground roots, self-sustaining, organic farm; from being a vegetarian to learning to eat every last piece of the cow they slaughtered themselves. Humorous, romantic, and inspirational.

She goes season by season, sharing the hilarious moments of starting Essex Farm from scratch, the agonizing memories of the morning cow-milking ritual, cold nights, delicious home-grown meals, and planning a wedding and feeding everyone from the animals and produce you’ve raised with your own sweat and tears.

In fact, I loved this book so much, I gave it to my mother to leave on their farm in Tennessee.

Published by Scribner in 2011. 304 pages.

A Recent Weekend Getaway – Beaufort, Savannah, and Charleston

We finally made it down to the Low Country to visit Bryan’s folks, celebrate my and his mom’s birthdays, and get away one last time before he really got busy with school. We drove down Thursday night after work and school and stayed at their lovely little rental in Beaufort, SC.

Common Ground Coffee Shop in Beaufort, SC, was our first stop on Friday morning! Anything from lattés and brevés to organic hot tea, from cinnamon rolls to sandwiches. So quaint and a great view of the coast. (Bryan and his mom)

Lunch at one of my in-laws’ favorite little local gems, Red Rooster Cafe!

Pimento Cheese and Bacon on a Burger with Sweet Potato Fries and Sweet Tea in Mason Jars! What more could you ask for?! (Not exactly a lean meal, but hey, it was my birthday weekend. After all, you don’t turn 31 every day!)

I love the coast! Who needs mulch when you have seashells?!

We checked out all kinds of antique shops and other little local stores around Beaufort and Port Royal, SC, on Friday.

Shrimping Boats, Port Royal, SC

Birthday Dinner at Dockside Restaurant in Port Royal, SC

Baked Scallops, Cajun Rice and Steamed Veggies

Adorable little book shop in Bluffton, SC, on our way to Savannah on Saturday.

The front of The Storybook Shoppe. There were several art galleries and local shops in Bluffton that caught our attention, but this was my favorite.

Welcome to Savannah, home of Joel Chandler Harris, one of my all-time favorite authors and storytellers!

Bryan and his folks in Savannah – don’t you just love those trees and all that Spanish Moss?!

I just loved this old building.

There were all kinds of statues and monuments along the river.

We stopped at a half dozen antique shops and a few art galleries, including this one where Artist Susie Chisholm was sculpting historic figures.

The city market in Savannah was bustling with street musicians, vendors, and tourists. Of course, I bought a couple of bags of Savannah Pecan Coffee Beans!

Sunday, we met up with our good friends Dave & Rachel, who happened to be in Charleston for their anniversary weekend! We had lunch on Johns Island at one of their favorite spots (and now one of ours), Fat Hen! Its only about 10 minutes outside of Charleston, and a must-do if you’re in the area.

BBQ Duck Sandwich with Slaw at Fat Hen

Our final stop before strolling around downtown Charleston and heading home was to one of our favorite coffee houses for a little dessert – East Bay Meeting House. It’s moved across the street from its original location, but still has great atmosphere, decadent desserts, and delicious coffee! (Though, I miss the old, green leather couch.)

Bryan and his favorite Roasted Chestnut Brevé

Dave gets a little intense with his chocolate cake and macchiato – and Rachel just laughs at him.

My favorite part (besides the atmosphere) is that all their products are organic! Yay! And I love supporting local vendors instead of big chains, as often as possible.

One last shot of the delicious organic cake! And that’s a wrap on this Low Country weekend-getaway-to-remember! We’ll be back soon!

Recipe: Italian Beef Stew

Combine 1/4-1/3 c. cornstarch, salt, pepper and garlic powder (to taste). Take 1 lb. of stew meat (or a beef roast cubed into 1-2″ cubes) and roll in cornstarch mixture.

In a large stockpot, melt 1 Tbsp. butter with 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Sear meat in hot oil 2 minutes per side or until browned.

 Meanwhile, roughly chop 1 small red onion, 2 carrots, 4 cloves fresh garlic and 2 unpeeled gold potatoes. Once meat is browned, add chopped vegetables to pot. Cook for 2-5 minutes, then add 1 cup red wine and deglaze pot (I used shiraz).

Add 12-15 oz. of beef broth, a 6 oz. can tomato paste, 1 tsp. crushed rosemary, and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme. Stir to combine. Turn heat to low and simmer for about an hour. When ready to serve, chop about 8 leaves of fresh basil and a large handful of fresh spinach leaves and stir into pot. Serve hot by itself, over rice, or with a nice, crusty loaf of bread.

Serves 4.

Another Week of Healthful Budget Grocery Shopping!

This week’s grocery shopping included four stops, all costing a total of $56.86! I used the “Dirty Dozen” list to make sure I was buying organic on the most important items, and went as all-natural on the rest of the ingredients as possible.

From Trader Joe’s: $36.93

  • 2 dozen all-natural eggs
  • organic plain yogurt
  • organic baby spinach
  • all-natural mozzarella log
  • local cucumber
  • local yellow squash
  • cauliflower
  • organic broccoli
  • uncured bacon ends and pieces
  • all-natural pork roast
  • organic gold potatoes

From Aldi: $9.72

  • dried cranberries
  • lemons
  • limes
  • cabbage
  • artisan lettuce
  • 3 cans of tuna in water

From Bi-Lo: $4.95

  • egg roll wrappers
  • wonton wrappers

From The Best Asian Market: $5.26

  • daikon root
  • bok choy
  • rice wine vinegar
  • mushrooms

Ideas for this week’s menu:


  • Spinach Bacon Quiche
  • Scrambled Eggs and Homemade Hashbrowns
  • We still have oatmeal, cereal, milk and juice from last week’s grocery shopping
  • I plan on attempting to make some artisan bread for toast and sandwiches as well


  • Leafy Green Salads with all the fixin’s
  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salads



  • Yogurt
  • Trail Mix (we have nuts and chocolate, and we’ll add the dried cranberries)
  • cucumber slices
  • Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls
  • Some kind of dessert using lemons and limes – I haven’t decided yet
  • Fresh lemonade

Who Says Eating Healthy Costs More?!

I’m not sure why I don’t shop at Trader Joe’s more often! Probably because it’s a little bit out of the way to get there, but it’s still not that far out of the way. Can you believe I only spent $52.03 on all this, without using one coupon?! And it’s all either organic or at least all-natural and unprocessed! My plan is to shop at Trader Joe’s once a week through the end of the year and see if I can keep our budget to about $50 per week.

Here’s what’s I picked up yesterday (as seen in the picture above):

  • Flour Tortillas
  • Applegate Roast Beef Slices
  • Applegate Herbed Turkey Slices
  • Swiss Cheese Slices
  • Large container of Grape Tomatoes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 bags of Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 1.5 lbs. Ground Turkey
  • Shredded Cheese Blend
  • Red Onions
  • Bananas
  • 3 lbs. Sweet Potatoes
  • Feta Cheese
  • Bok Choy
  • Orange Juice

I also picked up condiments for $1 each at Earthfare (stock-up sale) and got free chips and salsa with my $5 purchase!

And here’s how I plan to use it:

  • Breakfasts:
    • Orange Juice
    • Hard Boiled or Scrambled Eggs (a friend picked up 3 dozen Eggland’s Best Eggs during a buy-one-get-one-free sale, plus coupons for me last week for $1.20 total!)
    • Cereal and Milk (already had on hand)
    • Sweet Potato Hash with Edamame
    • Oatmeal with Raisins and Brown Sugar (already had on hand)
  • Lunches:
    • Roast Beef or Turkey Wraps with Swiss Cheese and Lettuce
    • Salad with Feta, Black Olives (on hand), Roasted Beets (on hand), Carrots, and Tomatoes
    • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (on hand –  make homemade bread)
  • Dinners:
    • Enchiladas with Ground Turkey and Shredded Cheese (top with sour cream and red onion)
    • Baked Potatoes and Broccoli with Cheese
    • Grilled Chicken and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
    • Stir-Fry with Carrots, Bok Choy, Onion, and Mushrooms and Rice
    • Breakfast for Dinner
    • Turkey Burgers and Potato Wedges
    • Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Cheddar, served over Quinoa
  • Snacks:
    • Bananas
    • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
    • Carrot Cupcakes
    • Sweet Potato Fries
    • Chips and Salsa