Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do Something BIG

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This is another one of those thoughts I jotted down on my virtual scrap paper, but this one was months and months ago. One of the college girls in the group we (my DNA group - one of my roomies and two of our besties) organize (or chaotically organize, it's very "roughly" organized), said something that made my brain go 90 to nothing on a thinking trail. 

She was flustered about her first semester of college, experiencing all kinds of existential crisis thoughts all at once, confused about her major, life, and all the like. She said, "people always tell me I'm going to do something big, and I just want to do that, I want to do something BIG." (I mean, it's been a few months so possibly not an exact quote, but something similar.)

We've all been there, right? I know I have. I got lost in thoughts of why I didn't long for my BIG thing as much as I did in college, I still do some days! But it's not an existential crisis sort of thought anymore. And then I realized, I think my philosophy on what's big has changed. 

I think that maybe we really put BIG in a box. 

Maybe big isn't just the flashy things. Maybe big isn't just moving to new countries and writing books or having a famous blog or being a famous speaker or having your own bakery or fill in the blank. (Notice I said JUST - those things are big and brave.) 

But I think, maybe BIG is something else too. Maybe the biggest thing we can do, is live big right where we are, in the everyday. Whether that's in another country, or the little town in Mississippi that we live right now. Whether that's while doing your dream job, or while doing the job God has given you right now.  

We constantly see people do big things all over social media like move to other countries, write books, speak to huge crowds, open new businesses, and a whole bunch of other brave things. It's easy to be envious, and to think our lives aren't as big or that we don't have as much purpose. But the truth behind those big things is that the little steps to get to big things are just as scary as the little steps to living our daily lives in a big way.

For you big-dreamer college student, to live these years not just for yourself, but to believe that God can use you, even at that Christian school. 

For you superhero mom, to believe and live every day like it matters, because it does. And to see every moment with the precious lives you're raising and disciplining like they're important, because they are. 

For you weary post-college 20-something discouraged because you aren't getting to use your degree yet, or don't like the degree you got and the jobs that come with it, to trust that where you are now matters, that one season isn't forever, and that you can love life NOW and don't have to wait until the BIG thing comes. 

For you (ahem, me) single 30-something, to cling to hope against hope that your life is and will be good regardless of your marital status now or in the future and to love your life and believe that this season is HUGE and full of beauty.  

For you griever, to believe God is still there in the midst of your hurt and loss, to believe He can handle it, to let Him comfort you. 

For you redeemed addict, to keep fighting, to never stop fighting, or telling your story. 

For you wandering child of God who feels like she's gone to far and can't come back, to come back, running, walking, or crawling, to just return to the arms of your Savior. 

For you abused woman, to never give up the fight to believe truth, that you are worthy and wonderful and loved and chosen. 

For all of us in the daily mundane of life... 

to live and love life with intention, 

to celebrate every victory, 

to be vulnerable and trust someone with our messes,  

to bring cookies to our neighbors, 

to wake up early for our Savior,  

to pray for our coworkers/roommate/neighbors, 


How can you live big today? 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Real Blessing

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I have this note in my iPhone Notes called "Blog Post Ramblings" full of these thoughts that overwhelm me so much that I have to get on [virtual] paper right then and there. One day, maybe, I'll complete most of the thoughts and share them. Today though, I really really want and need to share the words overwhelmingly flooding over me so much so that I can't even quiet them by typing them into my virtual sheet of scrap paper. 

The topic? 


This morning my pastor said something that shook me to the core, to the point of the overwhelmed happy sort of steady stream of tears flowing for the rest of the morning. 

To briefly summarize the context of the teaching, we're in a series called Disciple Maker, going through what it really means to live like a disciple so we can be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. Today's focus was on loving like a family (previous weeks have been thinking like a missionary and living like a servant). We studied Genesis 12 and talked about Abraham, the father of the Israelites, God's chosen family, the beginning of God's redemptive story to make us all part of His family. 

In Genesis 12: 2 God says to Abraham, "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing." 

And then he (my pastor) said the thing that I CAN NOT stop thinking about. 

The blessing of God wasn't any sort of anything that receives a hashtagblessed declaration on social media (my words, not my pastor's, he doesn't speak in as many hashtags as I do haha). God's blessing wasn't a thing or a feeling or even protection or provision (not that by definition those things don't make us feel blessed). 

God's blessing to His people was this: "I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 

His blessing is His presence! Whether life is good, bad, ugly, messy, in seasons of want or plenty, we are overwhelmingly blessed by His presence. 

God's blessing isn't just the husband or marriage I long for, God's blessing is being aware of His presence and goodness even when I don't have the spouse I long for. 

God's blessing isn't the prefect marriage, God's blessing is being aware of His goodness and presence even when it's really hard AND when it's really good. 

God's blessing isn't a seemingly perfect unbroken family, it's being aware of His presence and goodness even if your family is broken or non existent and recognizing the ways He places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and inviting the lonely into your family, into His family. 

God's blessing isn't life, the lives of loved ones, or our own lives, it's being aware of God's presence and goodness IN life, and being aware of God's presence and goodness in death, in loss, in our weeping and mourning, in pain and sickness. 

I'm so overwhelmed by the beautiful ways God has placed the lonely version of me into family after family after family. I've yet to spend a holiday alone even though I earth shatteringly fear that I will every time. Family after family that has no blood relation to me at all continues to invite me in and allow God to place the lonely in me into family. And that's just one of the many ways His presence is a consistent blessing in my life. 

We are His people. He has blessed us with His presence. But that's not the end. He blesses us so we can bless others (Genesis 12:2). Blessing other isn't just about finances and provisions, though we SHOULD share our resources with others. It's also about recognizing all the ways God has been present in our messes, and loving the people surrounding us like that too. 

I am #blessed. And so are you. May we never keep it to ourselves, may we invite others into the presence of God that we experience, may we bless others the way God blesses us, but inviting others into our lives, into our families, into His family. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Sweet Sausage

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A RECIPE! I promise I'm gonna try ya'll. Last year was full of transition. This year shouldn't be unless God wants to send the bearded, huggable, Jesus loving man I always ask for, and there would be no arguments there! Therefore I should be able to establish some writing, posting, taking pictures of food (oh wait, I never stopped doing that) patterns. Kinda sorta made this dish up for last night's dinner, and it was a hit! The roommates loved it, it's pretty healthy for a creamy pasta dish, it was REALLY filling, and it was EASY! I see a new obsession coming with one pot concoctions.

Inspired by: this recipe, but I changed it/added to it LOTS

Serves: 6 - 8 depending on portion size

Calories per serving: 427 for 8 servings / 570 for 6 servings (via MyFitnessPal)

Let's pause for a MyFitnessPal recipe calculating tip! It's SO easy to put recipes into MyFitnessPal to figure out calories/track them. If you find a recipe anywhere online, you can actually put the link into MFP from the web or from the app. From the web: on your dashboard page click food, then recipes, then copy and paste the link into recipie importer. You can take away the ingredients you aren't using, change ingredients like 2% milk to skim milk, and add ones you are, change serving size, etc. From the app: click more, my recipes and foods, the add symbol in the top right corner, then add from the web. You can do the same adding and changing from the app. You can also start from scratch in both and make your own recipe. In the app you can even scan the barcode of the exact ingredients you are using. Just make sure for all ingredients you select the correct portion size, like for pasta in this one I had to select whole container. IT'S SO EASY! Now back to the recipe.

Ingredients (in order of usage): 

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons of refrigerated minced garlic (or 8 cloves of garlic minced) 
  • 2 packages of chicken apple sausage, sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons light butter (I used light I Can't Believe It's Not Butter) 
  • salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, italian seasoning 
  • 1 lb pasta (I used Barilla Campanelle, but you can use any)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (I used chicken bouillon or chicken base + water to make my chicken broth)
  • 2 cups of skim milk
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat parmesan (this kind, not the fancy kind, it blends better into sauces) 
  • 1 10oz bag of spinach


Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a big stock pot (you'll need it to be high for when you add the spinach). Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add sliced sausage and saute until browning on the edges. Add all seasonings to taste, probably a teaspoon of each is what I did if I had to guess, maybe a little more for the salt and italian seasoning and a little less of the pepper. Add butter and stir until melted. Add pasta and let it get coated in the yummy stuff. Add milk and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes then reduce heat to medium low. Should be softly bubbling just at the surface. Stir frequently and let simmer for 18-20 minutes or until pasta reaches desired al dente consistency and sauce is thickening. Add parmesan and stir until combined. Add spinach and stir until wilted and combined. DONE! Dinner in 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hello, 2015!

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Well, it's only January 10th, but FINALLY posting my 2015 goals. If I didn't want to make them pretty, have them on a printout to post important places that was pretty, and do a 2014 recap post, I could have posted these LONG ago. But it's still closer to January 1st than January 31st so we'll call it a success. 

A quick look at last year's goals
  1. Take accountability deeper. (HAPPENED)
  2. Pay attention to food intake. (So-so, but really started to happen towards the end of the year via MyFitnessPal)
  3. Work out more. (DID NOT happen) 
  4. Read more - blogs and books. (Meh, sorta sometimes but not really)
  5. Connect more: A. In person, initiate hang outs with friends, text, call, respond more, and put away my phone when I'm with people. B. In the world wide web. Comment on blogs I read regularly. Be active in blog forums. Make blog friend connections. (HAPPENED)
  6. Write more - blogging and journal. (Did not happen)
  7. Spend time with Jesus and don't stop. (HAPPENED, few rough patches but always went back)
  8. Pray for my friends, family, and future (job, husband, calling, dreams, etc). (HAPPENED) 
  9. Wear makeup more regularly. (DEFINITELY HAPPENED, thanks Ipsy)
  10. Buy less. (Hard to say, but did manage to save this year, so maybe? Def bought less nail polish)
  11. Tithe more. (HAPPENED, needs more consistency, but for sure happened)
  12. Live UP so I can be thankful for the living IN that increases more and more and be more motivated and prepared to live OUT. (Happened, but ALWAYS room for improvement) 
  13. I prefer even numbers, but if 13 is good enough for Taylor Swift, it's good enough for me! Believe that I have enough of God's grace and the ability to call on the Holy Spirit to make this (being trained to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a more self-controlled, upright, and godly life) happen (In some areas for sure saw growth in this) 

As I mentioned in the Goodbye, 2014 post, IT WAS A GREAT YEAR! And I'm full of confidence that 2015 will be too. 

I've never done a word, or words, for the year, but I saw some friends doing it and REALLY loved the idea. Ya'll know I'm NEVER good at being concise, so obviously I couldn't narrow it down to just one word. My words for this year are FIGHT and LOVE. At first glance the two may seen to be opposites, but for me they aren't at all. 

FIGHT - I want to passionately fight for myself and along with the Holy Spirit for my best life. Not some American dream best life, but a really believing Jesus is better and the better way to live, life that glorifies that Lord, life. I want to fight to live a holy and pure life in every was possible. I want to fight against my human nature, the flesh, like never before. This involves many things, but the biggest for this year is replacing habitual sin with a healthy stress relieving outlet that has proven to be the most effective thing (along with regular intimate time with Jesus) for me consistently resisting temptation- working out. Allow me to add a little note and say, this isn't about rules or law or legalism or shoulds or shouldn'ts. This is about seeing the evidence in my own life that choosing to live a life that glorifies God, isn't captive to sin, and fights to be pure is genuinely a more life-giving and better way to live. FIGHT! 

LOVE - My human nature can be a B-word ya'll. Living with roommates for the first time in four years is refining me like WHOA! At my worst I'm mean, selfish, caddy, snappy, and the list goes on. I want to REALLY strive to love the people I really do love, way better. I also want to love the people I don't love (yet), my neighbors. God's put me in this place for this time and I haven't even met most of my dang neighbors! I also want to love my coworkers well, my friends well, my family well, and my gospel family well. LOVE! 

I want to fight to love and I want to love to fight! 

1. Forgive others and myself quickly. The struggle to harbor bitterness towards others and myself when they/I mess up, like all humans do, is REAL. (love and fight) 

2. React less, think more. There is a beast inside me called snappiness and it is vicious (especially before coffee, when tired after work, and well, often). (love and fight) 

3. Read more. Finish the books I've started. Attempt She Reads Truth Bible in a year plan. Read the blogs I follow more regularly. (fight) 

4. Resist, fight, flee from temptation like never before by being dedicated to cardio as a healthy outlet. From calendar journaling over the last two years I have been able to see there is a major connection for me between working out and resisting temptation and habitual sin. The one time in the last two years they I most consistently resisted some sins that entangle me was when I was in a boot camp. Bring on the intense cardio! (FIGHT)

5. Be more loving and kind (to my roommates, my friends, my family, and my neighbors). (love) 

6. Write more and learn to write at home and not need to be somewhere else. (fight) 

7. Make wise choices with money. Tithe consistently. Save monthly. Buy less. (love and fight?)

8. Give away time, resources, and talents more liberally. Feed people, share with people, bake for people, and more. (love) 

AND this year, I also copied my friend Megan, and added a goal for each month that are more specific ways to achieve my big goals. I love lists ya'll. And I'm motivated by goals. 

January: Workout every day in January and beyond, goal - 66 days, not counting exclusion days. Exclusion(s): work + church Wednesdays and travelling days (for a wedding I'm making cakes for). Finish Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs. 

February: No drinking any sugar or artificial sugar. Exclusion(s): occasional hot cocoa on cold nights with roommates and pink coffee on Valentines Day.  Finish Love Does by Bob Goff. 

March: Bring neighbors and landlord baked goods. Clean out closet. Finish I Want God by Lisa Whittle. 

April: Call a grandparent every Sunday. Finish 1000 Gifts. Make 32 things birthday list. Finish Make It Happen by Laura Casey. 

May: Do 32 things (TBD, but for sure plant things, FINALLY make my fairy garden, and load a Starbucks card to gift Instagram followers with coffee). Finish A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. 

June: Invite a different family from church to dinner every Thursday.

July: Make ice cream in my barely used ice cream maker every Saturday.

August: Write coworkers notes with a new school year survival happy.

September: Memorize a chapter of scripture to cling to for November and the holidays.

October: Bring neighbors and landlord pumpkin bread. Buy a stranger coffee every Monday at Starbucks (favorite month deserves a little cheer spreading!).

November: Master a new baked good and TBD (hard month so will need extra).

December: Send Christmas cards. Bring neighbors cookies.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Goodbye, 2014

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Of course I want to write about my 2015 goals (that's coming next, possibly even today) and the hopefulness of a new year to live, but I couldn't let 2014 go without some reflection. It was a year full of transition and new things, full of growth, and full of beauty. It ended with my all time favorite New Year's Eve I've ever had. Fancy food, sparkly clothes, beautiful friends, sparkly beverages in fancy glasses, a photo booth, packs and packs of sparklers, and a sleepover. At our New Year's Eve sleepover with the lights out, in our pjs, and laying on our floor beds (aka air mattresses, but floor beds sounds more Gossip Girl-esque fancy), we took turns verbally reflecting on 2014 and spoke our focus(es) for 2015 out loud. My short summary for 2014 was it was my best year yet and every year continues to get better. 

Two days later I had to get out of the house to get my 2015 goals on paper and had a moment where I knew with every fiber of my being that 2015 was going to be another best year yet. Spoiler alert: One of my 2015 goals is to work out, like for real. I joined the gym three days before the new year and had been every day since (at the time four, now eight!). The rain, a little soreness in my legs, my cozy bed, more episodes of Gossip Girl to be watched, and my tummy ache all gave pretty convincing arguments to stay in. Once I got the the gym, more cars being there than I'd seen yet also argued for me to go back home. But I didn't. Once upon a time going into a crowded gym would have terrified me. But I went. Then I took myself on a lunch/afternoon reading/writing date to McAlister's during lunch rush hour. As I sat in a booth by myself with my books and journals and pens, excited and happy as can be, I realized that I would have never done that, or gone to a crowded gym by myself, a couple of years ago. 

Jesus changes everything. There is nothing more empowering that to realize you're not who you once were and though you could name a million things you want to work on, you like who you are now enough to confidently walk into a crowded gym by yourself or take yourself on a lunch date during lunch rush hour. The more I accept and embrace Jesus's love for me, the more loving myself feels natural. No self help book or makeover could do that for me, only Jesus's unconditional, relentless, scandalous love for me could. That is why every year since Jesus has captivated my love and affection continues to be the best year yet despite bad days, messy days, hard days, and giving up days. So before I post about my goals, hopes, and dreams for a new year, I want to remember and recap the great year that just ended. 

2014 Things:

I went three months without a car and had to learn to depend on people and let people help me

I jumped on the Downton Abbey train, binge watched, made cute tea sandwiches while I watched, and then realized I could never binge watch a full hour long show with no commercials again and quit Downton Abbey.

I watched Frozen more times that I can even count and meant to write a series of blog posts called "Life Lessons From Frozen" but never finished them.

I wore my hair in the shape of a heart for Valentine's day (and will probably do it again this year).

I saw a vehicle two cars in front of me try to shoot at another vehicle.

In January I notified the job I had worked at for three years that also happened to come with an apartment that I would no longer be working there as of May.

I freaked out a lot about not knowing what job I was going to have in May or where I was going to live or who I was going to live with.

I watched God answer tons of prayers for my fellow coworkers who were also leaving and myself about jobs and places to live.

I baked a lot of cookies and cupcakes for a lot of different things.

I got to pray with a sweet girl named Jasmynn as she decided that following Jesus was the best way to live her life.

I said goodbye to a job and season of life that I loved where I got the mentor some of the most amazing girls I've ever met and watch them grow because I knew God was telling me that it was time to move on.

I started a new job and moved into a HOUSE! 

I turned 31 and had a magical fairy garden birthday party involving fairy snacks and watching Hook on a big sheet stapled to my house in the backyard.

I said "see you later" to people who had truly become my family and some of my best friends (my fellow RDs) as we all parted ways. 

I watched God answer my prayers for roommates who would be like a family and provide accountability in unexpected ways (and get to live with two friends I've know for 10 and 12 years!). 

I fell even more in love with my church family. 

I liked a guy and he kind of maybe sometimes liked me back and we sort of went on dates that weren't really dates and then I got confused and decided I liked being single more than being confused. 

I experienced beautiful, deep, loving accountability.

I came back to Jesus a lot. 

I learned more about living on mission and for the Gospel. 

I met two new friends who are now my besties and I can't imagine life without them. 

I was a jerk, a lot. 

I learned a lot about myself from living with people for the first time in 5ish years, and it was and continues to be a messy and refining journey. 

I stopped being afraid of selfies. 

I started wearing makeup semi-regularly as opposed to only on special occasions. 

My nail polish collection traveled to the 300s and I finally stopped buying so much nail polish. 

I got 5 new tattoos (current total is 9). 

I had a freakish 3 day sickness where my lips and fingers turned blue. 

I braved church on Father's Day for the first time since I lost my dad. 

I finally learned how to save money.  

I started a college girls' group with my roommate and aforementioned new besties to love on and invest in a younger generation of women.

I hosted a Welcome Autumn Party to ring in the first day of fall. 

I acquired a really awesome firepit thanks to my brother and with my roommates created an amazing backyard space. 

I had a lot of dinner dates, coffee dates, and girls' nights with all the amazing ladies in my life. 

I had another magical October 14th, one of the best yet. 

I got asked to be in a fashion show (and chickened out). 

I survived another November, my hard month. 

I got to spend Christmas with another friend's amazing family. 

I WENT TO HARRY POTTER WORLD and took myself on my first real vacation as an adult. 

I realized way more days than I didn't that I love my life even with the hard stuff, even though I screw up, even though I'm single, I LOVE MY LIFE! I love my life because though I still stray from my Savior, I always go back. Though I still am a sinful mess, I don't live in a pit of self-condemnation and shame anymore. I'm free. My life is abundantly full, the hard days make me aware of my need for my Savior, and that makes life beautiful. 

Cheers to you 2014. You were a great year! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday (Week 3)

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It's Friday eve! Being crazy and attempting some more of this consistency with weekly thankfuls recap again (week 1 here, week 2 here). What has you feeling warm fuzzy thankfulness?

November 13th: 

61. cold weather (I really love it!)

62. leggings

63. warm tortillas

64. a swanky new coffee tumbler

65. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS (and the warm fuzzies they give me)

November 14th: 

66. a solo three hour road trip for maximum car singing time

67. Total Woman U (our meeting tonight, our mission, the team aka my family, our goals and dreams, etc)

68. hugs 

69. the Holy Spirit

70. that my phone didn't die when I dropped I in my soup at dinner.

November 15th: 

71. chapstick

72. joggers (trendy name for baggy but somehow cute-ish sweat pants)

73. meeting people who really live for the gospel by doing things like uprooting their comfortable lives to live on mission in an area most people would be fearful of

74. blueberry scones

75. being with non-pretentious amazing friends while encountering pretentious hipsters.

November 16th: 

76. hearing Myles Manuel pray for his future adopted sister and brother at children's church this morning

77. Hazel cuddles

78. help from my roommate in the kitchen for the Thanksgiving dinner for our college girls (as well as company from her and her sister while I did my least favorite chore - hanging clothes)

79. hosting a house full of people (14!)

80. that so many of the college girls we get to hang out with came to Arise this morning and to our Thanksgiving dinner tonight

November 17th: 

81. my red coat

82. She Reads Truth

83. an understanding boss

84. therapeutic tears

85. heated car seats

November 18th: 

(Note: November 18th was the anniversary of my dad's death. I wanted to attempt to be extra thankful on a hard day.)

86. the texts, facebook messages, and prayers of so many friends

87. an amazing department who understands that grief is worthy of a sick day too

88. hot cocoa with peppermint marshmallows (PINK HOT COCOA)

89. a cozy sweatshirt

90. friends who make me plan a dinner to celebrate my dad at the place he always wanted to go when he came to visit me in Clinton, MargaritERs (yep, that's how he said it)

91. how my dad selflessly took care of so many people

92. that my dad gave his life to Jesus and prayed for me and my brother everyday

93. that my dad taught me to save money (even though I just recently put it into practice) and avoid credit cards (I'd be terrible at them)

94. that my dad never gave up on people

95. that I never stop missing my dad regardless of the years that pass by without him

November 19th: 

96. pumpkin donut muffins

97. blogging mojo

98. the warm fuzzies writing provides

99. my new tiny bow necklace, Wednesday nights (Missional community AND friend Nashville watching)

100. unexpected happy mail

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Creamy Kale Dip

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A few "fun" facts: 

1. It's been so long since I've posted a recipe, I had to go in search of the last recipe I posted to remember how I format recipe posts.  

2. (insert dramatic pause with gasps and lots of  exaggerated dot dot dots)...

This is the first recipe I've posted in 2014... 

... (we needed some dramatic extra dot dot dots here)

... IT'S NOVEMBER! And not just November, but November 19th. What the heck?! I AM SORRY!  

3. The last time I even kind of posted a recipe was on September 20th, 2013. Even then, it was just linking to one of my recipes posted somewhere else. 

4. The last real recipe I posted was on July 13th, 2013.

5. That was 1 year and 4 months ago. That was 495 days ago. That was 70 weeks ago. (Who knew the internet had a date calculator to insert dramatic unnecessary facts.) That was several job interviews, another job, another house, hundreds of cupcakes, over a thousand cookies, way too many pictures of food, unimaginable pounds of butter and cartons of eggs, and a feature article in a food magazine ago. 

6. This is a food blog. Apparently food blog is a loose term and doesn't always include food. Or anything. Oops. 

I AM SO SORRY! I know I don't have to apologize to you, but I'm apologizing to me too! I have 16 posts saved in my drafts that I never finished and 500 pictures saved on my phone and on clouds that I never used. Let's call 2014 the year of transition and the year that I got lost. It was a GREAT year, I hope to write more about just how great it was. But it was busy year. A busy busy busy year. A year where I prided myself on not following other people's rules, loved myself more than I ever have, and loved my life more than I ever have. But it was also a year where I felt like blogging had too many rules I thought I had to follow and therefore not enough time to make perfect posts to fit into perfect rules. Not the right backgrounds, not the right lighting, not healthy enough, not decadent enough, not unique enough, too wordy, not enough words, too shallow, too deep, too broad, not broad enough, and so on. 

Today, I just want a recipe. And so I'm going to. 

If you're a post college grad (aka old enough to want to contribute) but still the younger generation in your family like me (aka still the niece/nephew, granddaughter/grandson, daughter/son, etc. and not one of the matriarchs/patriarchs of the family), it's likely all of the staple holiday dishes are claimed with white knuckles and when you ask what you can bring they tell you ice, cups, or canned cranberry sauce. I declare that instead of getting our own white knuckles in a passionate speech about how you're an adult now and want to contribute too (maybe I'm the only one who has such speeches prepared), just bring that ice or those cups, and some non-claimed dish to knock their socks off and do all the talking for you (no speeches required). 

If they assign you cranberry sauce, make your own dang homemade cranberry sauce (I've been using this recipe for years, and now it's MY claimed staple). Bring a seemingly fancy secretly easy fall side dish they've never thought of  (like pumpkin spiced roasted butternut squash or spicy roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries and toasted pecans). Bake a fall flavored dessert that's not pie (I'm bringing pumpkin cobbler this year and giving you a pumpkin spice trifle recipe soon). And my favorite idea, MAKE THE APPS! Appetizers, not to be confused with applications. Appetizers are frequently forgotten for holiday feasts, especially Thanksgiving. But what a great idea! Instead of everyone having to sneak bites of turkey behind Mr. Protector of the Turkey's back while waiting for the Mr. and Mrs. Always Late, be the Miss Thanksgiving Hero with your apps! 


  • 1 16 oz bag chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (the kind in a jar), divided
  • 1 cup fat free may (It exists! Kraft brand with a red cap. If you are a mayo snob, it's in a recipe mixed with other things and is not the main star, so just try it, or go for full fat if you must.)
  • 1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat parmesan cheese (the kind you shake on pizza)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce


Saute kale in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic, distribute around pan, then add half of the kale. Saute for about 3-5 minutes tossing it with tongs until all the leaves are turning a bright green color. Don't overcook! You just want to bring out the brightness of the kale and infuse it with the garlic and olive oil. Set first batch aside on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and repeat with remaining oil, 1 more teaspoon of garlic, and the rest of the kale. Put the second batch on another baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry.

Mix mayo, greek yogurt, sour cream, parmesan, last teaspoon of garlic, seasonings, and spices together in a large bowl. Set aside. With more paper towels, squeeze out any excess natural waters from the kale. Use a food processor (or a good knife and elbow grease) to chop the kale up finely. Mix finely chopped kale with creamy mixture. Add liquid hot sauce to taste, probably about 2 teaspoons to give it a good kick. Let chill for at least an hour. Hollow out a bread bowl to serve it in for extra fun flare. Serve with carrot chips, celery, bell pepper sticks, crackers, or bread cubes. 

Note: I made this for a friend gathering with girls and guys, and everyone loved it and didn't believe it was healthy!