Lyman & Ruth

Y’all, my baby brother is getting married. MARRIED. TO A REALLY AMAZING WOMAN.  I still think of him as the little blond boy who had skinny little legs and followed around my older brother and myself, but somewhere along the way he grew into a man. A MAN WHO IS GETTING MARRIED. When he moved to DC a while ago, it was amazing. Family dinners! Road trips! Movie nights! Ruth moved out here this summer, and if I thought I loved her before, it  was confirmed when she was my roomie for the summer. We would watch Dawson’s Creek just to sing along with the song (yep, go ahead and watch it and then come back), consume lots of cheese, and stay up talking. I could not be happier that she is becoming my sister and that our family out here in DC is growing.

Anyway, enough of my sentimental blubbering. Can’t wait to celebrate these two in March!
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5 Things I Love Today.

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This new lipstick for fall. Because lipstick is the cheapest way to revitalize your entire look. Plus, it makes me feel put-together and it acts as a balm while still providing lasting color. For me, every swipe of lipstick is the cosmetic equivalent of Cam grabbing that bat and announcing “It’s go time.”

These jeans. Y’all remember my jeans crisis? You all were so helpful with jean suggestions and now that the weather is getting a little cooler, I have renewed my search. Last week I got a coupon to Ann Taylor in my inbox and I was bold and took the plunge on a pair that some of my fellow tall curvy friends recommended. They came yesterday and I might have teared up a little about how much I love them. Of course, the mail situation in our building is so bad that I basically cry with relief anytime I successfully receive a package.

This quinoa bake recipe. Really I should just say ALL THE QUINOA BAKES because I have been throwing everything in there, but this one started it all. I have adjusted it a little to make it more veggie-packed and added some extra seasonings, but this is the base. You should probably just make this and eat it for lunch everyday for a week like I do. Because ROUTINE, People, it makes life better.

This show on Netflix. Ok, really just Netflix. But I’ve been rewatching Scrubs lately, thanks in large part to watching a bunch of episodes with my brother-in-law this summer. Monday night I finished the finale and I was sobbing the whole time. And yes, I have seen it before. But seriously… this post-finale behind the scenes thing. IT KILLS ME.

This baby boy. Last week my sweet nephew William came into the world and he is perfection. I don’t get to squeeze his squishy little self till Thanksgiving, but I have given his mama strict instructions not to let him grow until then. Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetOk, you know the drill. What are five quick things you are loving today? Leave a note below or blog on your own and feel free to link back. I love reading all your loves!

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Kale Chicken

kalechicken-1 Despite the fact that I spent yesterday afternoon cooking by the pool and gently imploring summer to stay FOREVER, fall is coming. Maybe. Slowly. But coming. And with it we will revel in pumpkin flavored everything, butternut squash, cool days, and all things autumnal. One day fairly soon, we will look up in the grocery story and see that all those gnarly heirloom tomatoes are gone. Golden ears of corn — gone. Fresh peaches and juicy plums — gone. Bright yellow squash – gone. kalechicken-2 We will wonder what we are supposed to get excited about in the kitchen for the next 7 months until the first spring veggies pop up, and then we will remember: kale. It is always there, always lurking at the edge of the produce bins, always reminding us that its tough and bitter self is there, waiting. Kale is eternal, like taxes and bad drivers who don’t use turn signals.kalechicken-3Luckily, for me kale is an eternally good thing. Remember my kale love and recipes over here? I take a slight break in summer, filling my meals with caprese salad, but I never drift too far from my rough green friend. I like it pretty much any way other than humiliated in the form of kale chips (grosssssss), but my current favorite way is disguised as tasty healthy breading in kale chicken. 
kale Y’all, if you hate kale, I encourage you to start here. My friend Christine made it for me once and it has become a staple in our home ever since. Kale chicken is everything you love about dinner, plus kale and its magic nutrients, minus much of the standard bitter taste of kale. Win, win, win. It wins over the kale skeptics I have found around my table, namely that husband of mine, who even requests it when he gets to visit because it is both tasty and packed with veggies. Plus, it’s cheap because kale is basically a weed and even the Hipsters’ love of it hasn’t managed to make it expensive yet. kalechicken-10 Before I get to the recipe, I need to give a disclaimer: this isn’t really a beautiful dish. It is delicious, but it is also just a giant mess of kale, photographed as I was quickly losing light, in my kitchen that is approximately the size of a shoebox. I dragged some kale into the living room for those first shots, but then it just seemed like such a hassle. Plus, you already know this isn’t one of those life-is-perfect blogs, so above I gave you an awkward out-of-focus picture of me trying to both massage kale, and photograph it at the same time. The things I do for you people, all so you can eat chicken coated in buttery kale. kalechicken-12 In the above post you see 10 cups of kale and almost every ounce of counter space in my entire kitchen. Good times. I think I should just stop trying to convince you to eat this and blitzing you with unexciting kale closeups and give you the recipe. Eat up. kalechicken-14 Kale Chicken

***Recipe given per chicken breast. Multiply as needed. In our home we always cut chicken breasts in half because American chickens have insane chests that are just way more than needed for one person. Also, it saves mucho cash-o.***

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3-4 cups kale, stems removed, washed and drained
  • 3 TBS butter (but hey, more is never a bad thing)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or Italian blend cheese
  • 1/8-1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (approximately… I just throw some in but it’s about that.)
  • Garlic salt
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 and butter the bottom of a baking dish.
  2. Tear kale into small chunks and mix with crumbs and cheese. Massage mixture lightly, not so it is all mushy, but just to integrate everything together and break down the kale a little.
  3. Melt the butter and dip the chicken in it before rolling the buttered chicken in the kale mixture. Y’all, you are really just shoving as much kale as possible onto that chicken and then putting it in the pan and pressing any remaining kale around it. I promise that you will be shocked by how much the kale cooks down.
  4. Pour any remaining butter over the chicken and season with the garlic salt. When I say “season,” I really mean shake that garlic until Edward Cullen and all his vampire pals die from its strength. I’m really not sure if you can have too much garlic.
  5. Bake about an hour, or until top is getting golden and crispy.

kale2Happy kale eating.

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Tyler & Katie

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When I’m alone.

tumblr_ljas4nyFf41qzcf69o1_500So, I promise this isn’t as emotional as that title made you think. Seriously y’all, can’t have too many sappy posts in a row.

Instead, this is a post to legitimately confess the deeply strange habits that one acquires when living alone. Society keeps us sane, people, and without it we become quirkier than we were before. When I lived alone in France, this quirkiness masked itself as culture. In my wifi-less state, I would load episodes of This American Life when I had wifi, and then play them in my little room above the city while I prepared well balanced meals. I listened to classical music, sketched flowers, and read a ridiculous amount of good literature.

But now.

Now I have the Internet, and it has robbed me of the chance to become a dignified and sophisticated woman of mystery, retreating to her quiet home to brood and stuff. So here they are, the strange habits I have adopted without the civilizing presence of The Gaze of The Other, as we say in graduate school, and with the added handicap of time-wasting Internet.

I eat really strange combinations of food, usually selected because they happen to be in the proximity where I am hungry. One night this meant a pile of tomatoes and a pile of green beans. Followed by ice-cream. Another night it meant 2 slices of lemon tart and small bowl of pistachios.  But most often, it means a giant pile of leaves (spinach, kale, things pulled from the tree on the sidewalk as I walked into my building…jk… that hasn’t happened… yet), wilted down with some goat cheese and topped with runny eggs. Because if I had a restaurant, it would most likely be called “Just Put an Egg on it” as that is my  food motto. That and, “Eat Nutella directly from the jar because you cut out the calories of whatever you were going to waste time spreading it on.”

I listen to music with the express purpose of crying to it. Y’all, the occasional weepy post aside, I am not actually a sad person. But I sincerely love crying, a convenient affinity as everything makes me cry. Sometimes I cry along to this one, because cellos sound like human voices weeping and it elevates my soul. Other times I crank up this one and cry as if I too survived a Freshman year of college replete with lost faith and soul-crushing anguish. I didn’t, for the record. Mine was full of baked goods, dutiful Bible study attendance, assignments completed on time, and appropriate levels of sleep. Don’t ever let you tell you that being the good kid can’t be fun. It is so fun, and even if it isn’t always, at least you are well rested.

I quickly eschew my actual clothes whenever possible, donning instead these fine pants and whatever t-shirt is nearby. And by pants, yes, those are leggings. With a magical 6 inch elastic waistband that never judges, only affirms. Haters gonna hate, but I prefer affirmative pants. I mean, I haven’t worn them to work or anything (yet) because I know that leggings aren’t actually pants and SHOULD NOT be treated at such, but talk to me again when James has been gone a couple more months.  He already lamented my “deplorable” shower situation (although, let’s be real: DRY SHAMPOO FTW).

I just don’t go to bed. People, this is a problem. I love sleep and I am a total terror who inspires fear and pity in the hearts of ALL when I don’t get it. But when I am home alone, without others going to bed and inspiring me to prudence… I just end up doing mindless things. Like watching this ballet documentary and then trying out some moves in my living room. Or deciding that 1am is the time to develop abdominal muscles hitherto believed extinct. Or rearranging my closet. Or watching one video after another of babies responding poorly to their fathers’ newly shaved faces (Thanks, Sharon). I fall into pits made by Pinterest, end up scrolling through Facebook albums of people I barely know, and will read whole blog archives of blogs I don’t even care about.

But I know I’m not alone. C’mon people, give me your weird. What are some of the quirky things you do when you are living alone?

Image via here, and I mostly just put it there because I love it and it makes me think of my favorite Andrew Wyeth painting

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Everyday Doxology.

tumblr_mjx7yobyPe1s73ly7o1_500Most of the time I am strong enough for all the uncertainty that is lapping at the edges of our lives these days. Most of the time when people ask me how things are going with James gone, I can answer that they are going pretty well and I mean it. As long as I don’t watch the scary shows late at night and remember to do the things he takes care of, things are fine. As long as I use this time wisely to invest in other friendships and to get lots of important things done, my time is full and well spent. Because you get used to things, even bad things, and I am generally one who feels that you might as well make the best of wherever you are, so I am trying to find the positives in this time. Girls’ nights, quiche for lots of meals, no judgement when I binge on Bachelor in Paradise or host Miss America viewing parties, fewer distractions at home – all of these are good things.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

But then a hard day comes, and it takes my breath away, and I find myself fighting back tears in church because that is when I miss him the most, his hand holding mine during hymns and his voice reminding me to stop talking during the service and pay attention. (Yep, I’m totally a church talker.)

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Or he comes to visit and then leaves and it is like ripping off a Band-aid over and over again. Because you can get used to anything, but when you remember how it was before the getting used to it again hurts more every time, even when you think it should get easier.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

And I’ve been thinking about all that lately, about the stress of so many things that I am fighting back these days, about the pain of fresh Band-aid rips that still surprise me, and about singing hymns alone in church. There are so many types of songs we sing. There are the Lenten hymns, the ones of solemn penitence. There are the Advent hymns of waiting and preparation. There are the songs of worship and deliverance and salvation and doctrine.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

And then there’s the Doxology, one that I can’t seem to get out of my head and heart these days. It’s a short song, a simple song, a song of quiet strength and faith. It can come out almost in one breath, one tired, sad, emotional breath. And the next one comes steadier, as does the next, and the next. The Doxology is a song for the everyday, for every minute, for every experience. It’s the one that we can sing when we aren’t eloquent and we have nothing else to say other than acknowledging that God is there and deserves our praise. Sometimes that’s all we can do and it’s enough. We are always strong enough for that.

Amen.03085f3adecf31a0ded89aec58e5bbed

Images via here and here.

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Birthday joy.

birthdayMy birthday is this week and here are a couple highlight of the celebrations we’ve been having around here, because you asked. Except you didn’t. But you’re still reading this, which is basically the same as asking.  Anyways, here it goes:

James is in town for three days, which is the best gift I could ever imagine, even if he managed to show up with more dirty clothes in his carry-on then I knew he owned. When I looked at the mound and back at his tiny suitcase with a quizzical expression, he merely explained that it was like Santa Claus fitting all those gifts in that one tiny sack. Regardless, having him here makes everything feel like a celebration. Setting the table! Binging on Netflix! Going through piles of mail! Life with him is the best.

Also, because he knows my love language, we spent my birthday making sure I got all my favorite foods. Why pick between a macaron and a cupcake when you CAN HAVE BOTH?  We went out to lunch at my current favorite neighborhood spot, mostly so I could have the iced tea, my very favorite sweet tea around. Not too sweet, just a little spice, and comes in a cute jar. Yep, I’m a sucker for branding. What’s that, you want a close up shot of the tea being poured? Sure thing.
Fall2014-2As I’ve said before, one of the perks of only seeing him every never is that that we live up the brief dates we are able to snag. Last night I had a panicked moment thinking he might try to be sweet and cook me dinner on my birthday, but luckily he knows that his wife likes eating out almost as much as she likes baby animals. And that People, is a lot. Also, he can’t cook, so being surprised with dinner when I was looking forward to menu perusing and doggie bags is never really a danger. Thus we were crazy and ate out for lunch and dinner, which meant that I finished the eat-a-thon by begging James to just let me take a nap on the sidewalk until I didn’t feel full anymore, something I imagined happening perhaps by the following birthday.

Tonight after he leaves, some friends are organizing a little backyard cookout for yours truly and because I am actually a benevolent dictator with better hair, I told them to do whatever they wanted, AS LONG AS I HAD PINK CAKE. For me, pink cake (read: boxed strawberry cake mix) IS the taste of birthdays. At least, it is of mine. I’m also pretty excited to continue rocking out parties in the back yard (theirs, not mine) before winter shows up again.

Lest you think that all that was noteworthy in this birthday was edible, please know that I also unwrapped one of the best gifts imaginable from my sweet husband: a clap-adapter for my bedside lamp.

YOU GUYS.

This means that now, instead of having to sit up and lean over to turn off my lamp, I can just clap. Game changer. I have happened to mention I wanted one only about every single night of our marriage and I am thrilled to announce that I spent a solid chunk of time yesterday just clapping that lamp on and off.  I am so excited that I pretty much feel like doing this all the time:
Fall2014-17That my friends, is pure joy. Pure, clap-lamp, cake, sweet-tea, happy to be with husband, birthday joy. The very best kind.

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