Monday, February 29, 2016

a recipe, a song, a photo, a quote

Volume 1 - because I hope Anna of The Heart's Overflow will do this link up again soon!

R E C I P E - this one has been around since college! Back then Good Seasons made an Oriental Sesame dressing mix that was the base of the sauce, but my mom, being the resourceful woman that she is, found a sesame dressing recipe in one of her Sunset cookbooks that we have used ever since. The mom in me also appreciates that this change makes everything 100 Days of Real Food compliant (or at least can be if you use all honey as the sweetener).

I will say that I usually only make this meal when we have leftover chicken from a roast chicken - then the only thing to do is make the dressing, boil the noodles and chop/grate the veg. Easy peasy. But adding the cooking chicken part doesn't add too much time to the whole thing - so I would still put this under the "quick and easy" tag.

Print Recipe

Thai Chicken and Sesame Noodles

An Americanized version of chicken satay with noodles that are "pad thai" - ish.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4


  • 1 cup Sesame Dressing divided, see below
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp. chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 12 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz. Whole wheat spaghetti cooked, drained
  • 34 cup carrot grated
  • 12 cup green onions sliced
  • 14 cup cilantro chopped
  • Sesame Dressing
  • 12 cup salad oil divided (I use avocado oil)
  • 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 5 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 Tbsp white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 12 tsp salt


  1. Pour 1/3 cup of the dressing over chicken in medium bowl; toss to coat. Cover. Refrigerate 1 hour to marinate.
  2. Mix remaining dressing, peanut butter, honey and pepper; set aside.
  3. Cook chicken and marinade in large skillet on medium-high heat until cooked through. Mix spaghetti, chicken, carrot, onions and cilantro in large bowl. Add peanut butter mixture; toss to coat. Serve immediately.
  4. For the dressing:
  5. In a small frying pan, combine 1/4 cup of the salad oil and the sesame seeds. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until seeds are golden (about 2 minutes). Let cool. In a 2 cup container, combine the remaining salad oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and salt. Add the seeds and oil once cooled and stir well.

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S O N G - all I really get to listen to these days is kids' music. Fortunately my friends/family (who are the ones who've given us the only CDs in our children's CD collection) have really good taste - so when this particular song goes on repeat, I don't mind too much. (Verse 3 is my personal fav :) )

P H O T O - this one was actually just taken today in my neighbor's yard. I wish I knew what these little flowers were, because their smell was heavenly! My little dude had to toddle over to see why I was sticking my nose in them.

Q U O T E - I haven't written down any good quotes lately, so I had to go back into the archives to find one to share... Here's one from Lauren Winner, in her book Wearing God:

Thanks to Anna for the link up! Head over there for other posts like this one (I'm personally looking forward to seeing other people's recipes!)

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Spitfire Goes to Preschool

Well, in August of this year. Maybe. I'm still a bit on the fence about it. But after receiving a professional's "strong recommendation" the hubs and I are looking into options for our wee girl.

As I was telling my sister-in-law - we are both amazed at just how much it all is...

First, the cost. This wasn't as much of a surprise to me as it was to my husband, who comes from the land of 1-year maternity leave, health care for all, affordable college, oh and FREE preschool. (Why do we live here again? #kiddingnotkidding ) But once I actually sat down to look at the numbers for just 2 half-days a week... wow. Anywhere from $190 to $365 a month. The $190 looked particularly awesome until I read...
"Many parents sign their children up shortly after birth, so planning ahead is advised."
Seriously?! Forget that people. Moving on.

We've now found a few that we're willing to apply for - and again - I'm surprised by some of the things being asked for: 4 emergency contacts? Personal statements? Copies of baptism certificate? (Yeesh. Good thing I kept that one!) Why do I feel like I'm applying for college all over again?  Oh, and a "snapshot of your child".  Well, at least this should be easy enough to complete...

"Ok honey... come stand over here. I'm going to take a quick picture of you."

"Look at the camera honey."

"Ok. Now can you smile please?"

"Honey. You need to look at the camera."

"Look at the CAMERA." 

"Open your eyes please"

"PLEASE. Just open your eyes, look at me and SMILE."

"Ok. Great. Thanks honey. That'll do just fine."

*sigh* Oh, preschool... August can't come soon enough. ;)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Things I'd Share With You On FB (If I was on FB - vol. 2 - Lent edition)

I'd like to think that this is what the little guy was saying all along...

- 1 -

It's like Christmas over here! Opened the door to get the mail, and saw that I had received both the Offer It Up mug from Hatch Prints, and the gorgeous "Falling in Love" handlettering print from Holly Monroe. I had seen it first on Fr Jim Martin's instagram and immediately knew exactly where I wanted it to go in our home.

A photo posted by James Martin SJ (@jamesmartinsj) on

- 2 -

Been toying with the idea of sending the wee girl to preschool... why does this feel like Such. A. Big. Momentous. Thing? Like the rest of her future schooling depends on us making a good choice here? I feel so utterly in the dark about how to go about this; thankfully the preschools I've called thus far have been welcoming and kind - which, I also feel is a good thing. We'll see where this road goes...

- 3 -

One of my favorite blogger-authors wrote this post on egalitarian marriages earlier this week and it made me both excited and filled with dread. Excited because what she talks about is definitely needed, and filled with dread because I fear that mentioning it here, in the Catholic mom blogosphere, will get me kicked out of the club. (Is there such a thing?) Oddly enough, I wouldn't think twice about sharing it on FB, but that's because my FB circle of friends is different than the friends in this circle (haven't quite figured out how to make the 2 overlap). But like I said, this post is all about the things I would share there if I could. So... y'all should read this. (There. I said it. *as she cowers behind her new coffee mug*)

- 4 -

On the flip side, Kelly just wrote this post on "What to do when a friend follows a new path" that I just love and feel "safe" sharing about here - but probably would never post on FB, lest I come across as trying to prescribe to my friends there how they should treat me since leaving my old church for the Catholic church.  And I wouldn't even remotely want things to look that way! (I cringe just thinking about it)  But what I loved about Kelly's post was how she nailed some of my own thoughts and feelings that I've processed as I've watched friends go on new paths. Thoughts like:

"I felt like I was losing a member of my super secret club to a rival club."
"Now, rather than having someone to commiserate with, you feel unfairly left behind."

But even better she had sound advice for what to do:

"Take these feelings first to confession, and work extra hard on #5 for your own sanity"
"Remember now that when you talk about 'those people' who don’t do things exactly like you, you’re now talking about your friend. Perhaps people who choose another path aren’t so bad after all?

True dat. Godspeed to us all, yes?

- 5 -

So, you know when you start to see something pop up over and over again in completely different settings you start to get the feeling God might be trying to tell you something? I had checked out "Wisdom Distilled from the Daily" by Joan Chittister because it was sort of based on a recommendation from another one of Kelly's posts. Actually, she had recommended reading The Rule of St Benedict - but that sounded too old and historical to me, so somehow I had found this and thought it would be easier to do.  But I forgot about reading it, in favor of reading something else (see below)... and then, yesterday when I opened up my email to see Emily P. Freeman's newsletter it was the very first book she shared that she was reading! Maybe Kelly and Emily run in the same circles - but not from my viewpoint. It was a little startling to see the book there in the newsletter... so maybe I should get on reading that, eh?

- 6 -

That other "more interesting" book I mentioned is by another favorite blogger-author, Nadia Bolz-Weber: Accidental Saints - Finding God in All the Wrong People. I love her. And her writing. One might describe her as a Lutheran-more-tatted-up-Anne Lamott-with a slightly "saltier" vocabulary. I  just loved reading her describe her first encounter with Catholics and the BVM:
"I knew Catholics existed, with their saints and candles and rosaries, and all their other exotic ways of being wrong. But now I had Catholic friends. And I couldn't stop staring at their Mary. She seemed luminescent and good and trustworthy and beautiful. And I was secretly jealous they got to have her."
I feel lucky we get to have her and Nadia.

- 7 -

One week of Lent down... how many more to go?  Ha ha. Just kidding. Though I just have to share that since deciding to do the Blessed Is She devotional for Lent with some other women from my church - I'm actually getting daily prayer and Bible time in. Daily! It feels good. Thanks to Blessed Is She for the workbook.

And thanks to Kelly for the link up! See you all around again soon...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On Trespassing

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."
(From Matthew 6)

The first time I attended church with my grandma E, I couldn't believe how similar to a Catholic mass it was. She attended a Lutheran church and since this was well before I had taken any classes in theology or history of the church - I just found the similarities a happy coincidence. But there was one glaring discrepancy (in my mind) on the word choice they used in the Lord's prayer:

"...and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

Reciting the Lord's prayer was the one part in the service where I thought I wouldn't need to read the little book in the pew, so I had put it down, only to get tripped up at that point. In a classic case of teenage insecurity, I actually felt embarrassed that I "goofed up the words" - hence why I even remember it now.  But because I goofed, it got the perfectionist in me wondering, "What does the Bible actually say here?"  Because whether it's trespassing or debts really matters!!  Actually neither were things that I really understood at that age, at least, not beyond their literal meanings. I just wanted an answer to feel justified about my "mistake". My friend had a Living Bible, and it said

"...and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us."

Ah, sin. Now here was something my black-and-white thinking brain could understand. I know what sin is. Sin is breaking the 10 commandments. Sin is someone actively doing something bad to you.

The problem with this definition of sin is how un-nuanced it is. When I defined sin as "something someone actively does wrong" to me, then when my college roommate came back from class angry at something and she stomped around the house making life unbearable for all who lived there - well, then she wasn't "sinning against me." I mean, she wasn't mad at me, right?  She wasn't actively hurting me, so I just needed to work on not letting her anger become my anger... right?

Eh... sure. Except that I didn't do that, I instead let it become a grudge that I held against her. And then I felt guilty about holding a grudge. And then I started to avoid being in the house with her. And then... I moved out. And the whole time, I couldn't see that I needed to acknowledge that she had hurt me and that forgiveness was necessary.

How different would things have been if I had a more nuanced definition of sin, or even better, a more thorough understanding of trespassing?  Trespassing is...

...coming into my area without permission
...stepping on my toes
...getting all up in my space

Trespassing happens daily. And 90% of the time the actions don't fall into the "active doing of bad to me" category.  I just cleaned this kitchen! My people, can we just put dirty dishes in the dishwasher?!? (Oh what? You're 3? Like that's an excuse.) 

Now that I can identify all these little things as "trespassing", I'm learning that I can do two things:

1) I can acknowledge that a part of me has been trespassed against.  I don't have to play the game of whether it's right for me to feel this way or not. I feel trespassed against - it is what it is.  But, now, more importantly...
2) I can ask God for help in forgiving.  Forgiving is...

...letting the other person off the hook.
...not holding it against them
...choosing to say, "No one owes me anything." (Hmm, debts/debtors... sounds familiar...)

Even on these little things, that can be very hard - but I remind myself the alternative to not forgiving is not worth it. I've been down that road, I know where it goes. (Yes, I may have just quoted the Matrix there.)

More importantly, I know my God will take care of me. After all, "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want..."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday (aka "Weird Wednesday")

Today was the first day in I-can't-remember-how-long that I received ashes on my forehead. My mom reminded me to "Wear your ashes proudly." and so, I'm trying. Actually, I'm standing on the corner of 2nd and E Streets trying to decide if I should walk against the light or not. Can people see the smudge on my forehead? If they can, maybe I should stay here - I doubt jaywalking would look favorably on my Christian witness. But if they can't...

Only one person has asked about my ashes - the girl across the street who is my niece's age. Of course, it didn't start out as a question, but as an observation: "Sara, you have a black smudge on your forehead."

"Yes. They're ashes."

"Uh, why?"

"Because today is Ash Wednesday and Catholics get ashes on their forehead to mark the beginning of the 40 days before Easter."

I neglected to mention that this period was called Lent - but I don't know that that would have made any difference as she had already checked out and skipped off. (I guess that also makes it doubtful that I performed a Spiritual Work of Mercy of "Instucting the ignorant". Darn.)

So I'm thinking about this exchange as I continue to walk home (after waiting for the light to change first, of course) and what gets me is both my neighbor's acceptance and "meh"-ness towards my ashes. At first, she was curious, but then she got her answer, it ceased to be a curiosity, and she moved on. Did she not find it bizarre? I feel like if I hadn't grown up Catholic I would find it strange and want to know more.

Or maybe she did find it bizarre - but no less bizarre than any other number of things thrown at her in this day and age. I mean, kittens on the internet is a thing. Slow TV is a thing. Bizarre.

If anything, that should be an encouragement to "Wear your ashes proudly." Life today is so strange that you may not stick out as oddly as you think you will.  But maybe we worry too much about how we look?  The mass the littles and I attended this afternoon was packed. Packed! And of course, it was just one of the many masses that happened today in the 4 parishes in my hometown. Yet, while I was out and about a few hours later, I didn't seem to see anyone else with ashes on their foreheads. Bummer. I would have liked to show some solidarity with my Catholic brothers and sisters. We would have smiled and nodded to each other, "Nice ashes."  "Yours too - they actually looks like a cross! Rock on!"

Oh well, I will just choose to believe that either
1) there weren't any other Catholics to run into where I was downtown or
2) everyone took Jesus's words in Matthew 6:1 to mean that they should clean their ashes off before continuing on with their day.  I suppose that would be legitimate. But I feel like we Christians believe some pretty bizarre things, so it should only make sense that we follow it up with some bizarre actions. We say we believe there is a God, and that we are not God - that we came from dust and to dust we shall return - so why not walk around with that reminder for a day?

When the ashes were placed on my head, the minister spoke these words over me: "Repent and believe the Good News." I confess that sometimes I have a hard time remembering what the Good News is exactly. Today's reminder was that it is Good to do the bizarre: to take wee ones to Mass, to believe that my Savior was present to me in the bread and wine, to wear ashes on my head as a sign of my mortality. This stuff is what's Really Real. These choices have positive impacts that last longer than the moment they happen in... at least, that's also what we believe.

And that's bizarre too.