spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino

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It’s time for another self-tested, self-approved Pinterest recipe. This week’s is spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino. I will admit that the name of this dish makes me feel like a total culinary genius. Not to mention, fluent in Italian. It’s what drew me to this recipe in the first place. And let’s be honest..isn’t the picture to die for?!

I’m beginning to see a theme with the dishes I decide to prepare. There is always a pasta component. I bet you followers think I weigh 2,891 pounds. You’d be wrong and a little hyperbolic. Believe what you will. Pasta is my weakness. Who doesn’t love a good carb-load??

Anyway, on to the review. (You can find the ingredients and directions here —-> http://www.yumsugar.com/Spaghetti-Garlic-Olive-Oil-Chili-Flakes-21398824)

This dish has 6 ingredients, two of which are salt and pepper! It doesn’t get any simpler. I use whole wheat linguine instead of traditional spaghetti noodles. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe. The website even offers pictures if you appreciate that kind of thing. (Although, if you can screw up this dish, you should probably just order take-out.)

I rate this dish a 5 out of 5. I love this recipe! The garlic and olive oil is a perfect combination. And the red pepper flakes add a punch that’s not only necessary but appreciated! If you don’t like spicy food, then we probably can’t be friends. And you should probably read someone else’s blog. There’s more where this came from. The good thing about this recipe is that you can add fewer or more red pepper flakes depending on your level of bravery. We like it HOT in this house! It has few ingredients but I promise it isn’t “one-note”. I added some grated parmesan cheese on top just because I thought it’d be a nice complement. We ate ours with garlic bread, but I don’t see why adding chicken wouldn’t work too. I’ll probably try that next time. You can’t go wrong with this recipe. It’s so simple and delicious. Try it and let me know what you think!

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lincoln log 6 months!

I’m six months old everybody!

I am babbling non-stop. I say words that sound like “ma-ma”, “da-da” and “ny ny”. I smile and laugh more when I’m tired. I love animal noises, especially what Mommy says the chick says: “cheep cheep”. I have a fake cough, and I have learned to pant fast too. I blow raspberries when I’m sleepy. I am sitting up really well. Sometimes I slump over without support, but most of the time I catch myself with my hands. Mommy and Daddy have started giving me solids. My favorite is pears! I hate bananas, and I really hate green beans. (Mommy says I shouldn’t say “hate”.) I roll constantly and would much prefer to be doing something physical (like rolling, sitting, jumping) than being held down. Toys that talk or sing make me cry. I love my duck fleece blanket, and I suck on it when I’m sleepy. I like it when Mommy puts me on the front-pack when we go for a walk. I don’t like the wind or sunshine. But Mommy takes me outside anyway. I always have a smile for my Daddy when he comes home from work. We even had a “Daddy-Lincoln” morning this past Saturday, and it was my favorite. I don’t know how much I weigh, but my rolls tell it all: I love Mommy’s milk. But I could learn to love a piece of buttered toast or blueberry bagel too! I saw snow for the first time last week. I was mesmerized by it when it was falling! I even went out in it too! Mommy says she’s ready for spring, though. So I guess I am too. 🙂

All bundled up with Daddy!

All bundled up with Daddy!

I'm a mess! But I love sweet potatoes!

I’m a mess! But I love sweet potatoes!

I look like my Mommy here!

I look like my Mommy here!

I have the sweetest smile!

I have the sweetest smile!

I love my feet and toes!

I love my feet and toes!

Babbling non-stop!

Babbling non-stop!

Baby yoga :)

Baby yoga 🙂

One more pose before I go!

One more pose before I go!

baked cream cheese spaghetti

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Hello there friends! I thought I would update you with a new Pinterest recipe, and you can decide for yourself whether to make it or not.

This week, I’ve decided to review the Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti recipe. Below is the link:

http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/233887/Baked-Cream-Cheese-Spaghetti-Pasta

I think anytime you add cream cheese to a recipe, you’re bound to have satisfactory results. This recipe called for “light” cream cheese, but I don’t do that. If I’m going to eat cream cheese, it’s going to be the real deal. Who eats “light” anything? What a waste.

I used whole wheat spaghetti because I just prefer it and I feel like that’s a way to be healthier without sacrificing flavor.

I’d love to say that this recipe knocked my socks off. I could only say that if I were wearing socks, and the fact is, I’m not. I probably went in to this recipe with too great of expectations. Don’t get me wrong. It was good. It just wasn’t that much of a variation from regular spaghetti. By adding ingredients and baking time, I wanted it to taste altogether different than the usual spaghetti dish. But, the cream cheese does add some creaminess that is otherwise lacking in traditional spaghetti recipes.
I’d give this meal 3 out of 5 stars. It’s hearty and who can go wrong with spaghetti? Just don’t expect too much, and you won’t be disappointed. (That’s my life’s motto anyway.)

Enjoy! And add lots of salt!

run away.

Have you ever wanted to escape? Run away? Pack up the essentials and leave the rest behind? If you’re anything like me, and I’d venture to guess 99.9% of people, of course you have. When life is overwhelming, sickness overtakes you, pressures and deadlines threaten to suck the life out of you, demanding schedules (even self-induced) leave you no time for rest, relationships are rocky, or children are misbehaving, it’s human to want to throw in the towel.

I’m going to be completely candid with “you” for a moment: when I first moved back to my hometown in Virginia after being gone for six years, I never realized what a difficult transition it would be. I longed for this place when I was far away and feeling alone. I longed to be in this town with these people doing these things. But that was BEFORE the foundation of home and security and friendships began to slowly take root in this new city. This place that I HATED for the first two years. This city that had nothing to offer, and the people were so different than me. But it grew on me. And four years later despite being away from every single family member (even my twin sister!), my husband and I had made THIS city “home”. Saying good-bye and knowing it would be for forever was one of the single hardest things we’ve had to do. You see, when we first left Virginia, we were just babes. We had no identities apart from the ones placed on us in connection with family, church, work or friends. We had no idea how to navigate the world. We didn’t even know what our worldviews were! We had been raised in the same town our whole lives and we thought what everyone else around us thought. We said what they said. Our views were their views.

Fast-forward to our new city. I had to become someone. I had to know what I thought about a particular situation, policy, issue. I had to know where I stood and why I stood there. I had to realize what made me laugh, tick, trigger, smile, cry. I had to find “me.” And I did. For the first time, I was able to find my voice. And much of that voice was in complete opposition to what the people back “home” expected it to be. How dare I love black people and embrace homosexuals! How dare I decide that gossip was a waste of time and energy! How dare I eat this, drink that, say this, believe that! You name it, I found myself in direct contrast to most of those people I had been around my entire life. (Or at least the significant majority.)

Needless to say, this new city was the place in which Matt and I found ourselves. I know that’s so cliché to say, but I don’t know how else to put it. I do know that we made that city our home. We laid down roots. Made lifelong friends. Loved our church. Matt excelled in his residency. I began a cupcake business. We made it. We did it.

So, moving back wasn’t easy. Everyone around us expected it to be. They were wrong. And they still are. It’s been almost two years and we still aren’t “home”. I know it seems ungrateful. People would trade places with us in a heartbeat. And they would probably come to the same conclusion that we have: that once you leave, it’s never the same. We aren’t the same. No one else is the same. Why would we expect them to be? Six years passed. We’ve all changed. Especially me.

When we first got here, I found myself in a sea of invites, obligations, and expectations (most of them were unspoken. awesome). I felt like packing up all of our belongings and screaming at the movers to turn around! I imagined escaping to a much simpler, more fulfilled life. I would legitimately daydream about a one-way airline ticket to nowhere. I actually voiced this desire out loud to my husband. About how nice it would be to get on an airplane and just leave it all behind. The plane could just circle in the air for the next few months. I didn’t care. It wasn’t about where I was going. It was about where I was leaving.

Recently, I read Psalm 55:6-7: “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert”..or in my case, “sky”. How refreshing that David felt the same way I do! And then it hit me. No matter where I go – on an airplane, to the desert, behind closed doors – I’ll never be apart from God. (It doesn’t hurt that Matt and Lincoln are with me always too!) Knowing the He is with me on this journey, that He has equipped me for the STEEP climb, and that He has gone before me gives me peace. The Bible says “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:1-12) Did you just feel the wave of peace cover your soul? I did. Rest assured that on days where you feel like escaping and running away from everything, God knows and understands. And He will give you the grace to overcome.

Let me share another verse that is near and dear to my heart. Not only is it the passage that the Lord led me to read while I was in Boston (you all know that story), but Matt also wrote this down as our “family verse”: (Good man, I tell you. Good man.)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39

When you feel the urge to escape, remember that nothing, no nothing, can separate you from the One who created you. You don’t have to run away. The Author and Creator and Perfecter of Peace is by your side. And in your heart. And comforting your soul. His love and mercy is sufficient in all things. No matter what you face, you never have to contemplate a way out. Bow your head, close your eyes and on bended knee, pour out your feelings to Jesus. He is listening. And He wants to bring you into the folds of His embrace. You just have to let Him.

without words.

By the title, you may think this entry pertains to something for which I’m speechless – that I simply cannot find the right, proper or effective words to say in response to a particular person or situation. You are right. But mostly wrong.

In the context of any relationship, there are guaranteed to be times that you quite honestly have no words. I find that if I’m still talking, there’s hope! 🙂 If I have gone mute, well.. look out! Aren’t we all like that? I find that when a WOMAN can’t form the words in response to a particular issue or to her husband, then she’s either completely resigned, indifferent or deeply hurt.

But the Bible says something completely different. That there IS hope as long as the woman remains SILENT. I’m not talking about being completely passive (have we met?!) or being afraid to let your voice be heard. No. But this isn’t really about what I’M saying. It’s about what God’s word says: “wives, be submissive to your husband..so..they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives..” 1 Peter 1:3

For the past (almost) two years, my husband and I have disagreed on a particular decision. I don’t normally “air my dirty laundry in public”. Or is it “iron”? Whatever the case, I don’t normally carry my laundry out of the house. 🙂 But, it should come as no surprise that a husband and wife disagree about something. Or many things!

I think all marriages have what I like to call: “the untouchables”. There is usually so much history with these topics that opening dialogue could create another world war. (Let’s just hope it doesn’t last as long as the current “war” we’re in right now with Iraq and Afghanistan!) Anyway, young and inexperienced, Matt and I would engage in this one certain “war” (in the last two years, there’s only been one true, yet constant, issue) and it would almost always result in crossing enemy territory. Everything from anger to hurt feelings to raised voices (:::gasp:::) would be strewn over the battlefield. And let’s face it: it almost always escalated because of MY MOUTH. I never knew when to be quiet. I always knew the exact things to say to get the desired reaction that I was seeking.

In confiding with my twin sister (not about Matt’s opinion/thoughts/perspective, but about mine), she referenced the above Bible verse. I’d love to say I heard it, felt pure conviction, and never again engaged in battle with my husband over this “issue”. But that isn’t true. It took months and months for me to finally realize that my words were of no use. My mouth wasn’t getting me anywhere. Instead, it was having the exact opposite result! Finally, I decided to take it to the Lord. There were (still are) times that I don’t feel like praying to God about it. Times that I feel like God isn’t listening or that He doesn’t care. But I decided to never again mention this subject to Matt (AS HARD AS THAT IS!) and pray that God would make Matt and I equally yoked in the decision. That if my feelings are wrong that God would change my heart, but that if Matt is wrong, that God would make that clear. 

Something strange and unexpected happened when I decided to stop talking and start praying. Contentment entered in. No, I am still not happy with the decision. If anything, it still breaks my heart and I ask God daily to change it. But I know that by being quiet and not saying “a word”, I am doing what’s right in the Lord’s eyes. And that is never wrong! “Winning [him] over without a word” does not mean that you get your way. It means that you decide to obey Jesus and He will do the work. It’s not our job to change and control situations when issues arise. It IS our job, as Christian wives, to submit to our husband’s leadership (unless we’re talking about something sinful or abusive. In that case, please seek help immediately). EVEN when we disagree wholeheartedly.

Wives, we can with God’s help, lay to rest our desires and simply pray for HIS will to be done. Winning our husbands over without words should not be used in manipulation. It is not to be confused with the silent treatment either. It means to commit yourself to something greater. Something higher and deeper. Because a wife that wants GOD’s best (and not her own selfish desires!) honors her husband and the Lord. Commit to no longer engaging in discussions about your “untouchables”. Take your fears, anxieties, anger and disappointment straight to Jesus. Your husband will see you in prayer and reading God’s word and, hopefully, he’ll be inspired. He will also be encouraged that you are seeking GOD’s guidance on the issue. And maybe, just maybe, in the process, you’ll find contentment too.  

the sun, the son and a swing

God blessed us with a beautiful weekend, so even though neither Lincoln nor I felt 100%, I thought it’d be a good idea to get some fresh air this past Saturday. Lincoln’s only 5 months old (only?! where did the time go? where’s my teeny baby boy?), but he has always been physically advanced (doesn’t every parent think their child is advanced?!) so I decided to forego the recommendations of waiting until your child is 8-9 months before trying a bucket-seat swing. Not only did I forego the recommendations, I went a step further and placed my son in a quasi-bucket swing with only a chain-link barrier between him and the ground. Go ahead, call CPS.

Anyway, life can be mundane sometimes. REALLY mundane. Some days you just go through motions. Most days, those motions don’t amount to much. Other days, you find true joy. This 10-minute round-trip playground excursion was the highlight of my week. Month maybe?! And after seeing these pictures, you’ll know why.

Here’s Lincoln checking out a swing for the first time:

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I love Daddy’s smile in this one (again, true joy!):

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Lincoln has never loved anything more (besides Mommy..and milk..and mostly a combination of the two):Image 

I’d say he absolutely loved it! (If this one doesn’t make you want to have a child (or another child) just so he/she can turn 5 months old just so you can take him/her swinging, I don’t know what to tell you..it’s all worth it for this right here:)

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Lincoln: the giver of great joy!