Brochachos, Valentine’s Day is less than a month away.  Do you have a plan??!

I know what you’re thinking…”I’m dating a practical girl. She’s not into store-bought candy and teddy bears.”  You’re right– she’s totally not.  So how do you show a practical girl she’s loved on V-day?  (This is mostly for comedy, so don’t send your ladies after me if she’s upset you followed my advice!!)

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  1. Cook her dinner.  Restaurants will be busy and noisy…sooo romantic.  Whip up her favorite meal or make something new that you know she’ll love.  Make sure her favorite flowers are on the table and write a sweet note on her napkin.
  2. Run errands for her.  Let her give you a “honey do” list and treat her to some “me” time while you take care of a few responsibilities like running to the post office and grocery store.
  3. Take care of her car.  Oil change, vacuum and wash.  Nothing says love like shiny rims.
  4. Create a stress-free day.  If she’s a girl on-the-go and you won’t be able to spend the day together, get her a gift card for each part of her day — load $5 for a latte in the morning, treat her to a manicure and sandwich at her favorite cafe on her lunch break, and a snack for the drive home after work.  She’ll be thinking about you all day as she cashes in!
  5. Something sweet and sentimental.  Just because she’s practical doesn’t mean she won’t appreciate a little bit of sap.  It’s Valentine’s Day after all, so go ahead and treat her to something unexpected.

Are you a practical girl?  What’s your idea of a great valentine?  Or have you ever received a practical gift for Valentine’s Day?

My friend Sarah got me Gwenyth Paltrow’s cookbook, It’s All Good, for my birthday last year.  I have an interest in eating clean foods, and gluten-free when I can. Fall and Winter were not good seasons for staying on the clean-eating bandwagon, but I’ve tried to jump back on.

January is a good time for starting (or re-starting!) something new and I’ve also been reading Grain Brain which has been an eye-opener on the effects of gluten in our diets.  It’s also put a cause to many of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing lately like sluggishness and regular headaches.  There’s no doubt that what we eat affects how we feel!

Anyway, there are lots of great recipes in It’s All Good, but I wanted to start simple.  When I saw this recipe for sweet potato chipotle soup, I couldn’t resist!

I modified the recipe a little bit and it was SO easy!

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Soup

You need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 6 cups of gluten-free vegetable stock (I used a low-sodium version)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon course sea salt
  • Cayenne to taste

Gwenyth’s recipe calls for chipotle paste and an entire onion.  I chose to use cayenne since I already had it and omit the onion since no one in our house really cares for them.

Drizzle a large pot with the olive oil and sauté the garlic, (and onion if you use it).  Add the cumin, cayenne, and salt.  Add cubed sweet potatoes and stir to combine everything.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil for about 8 minutes.  After it boils, reduce heat and let boil on low for another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft enough to fork.

Transfer to blender (make sure it can handle soup) and puree.  Serve warm.

I also pan-friend a few thin slices of sweet potato as garnish.

Looking for other easy clean-eating recipes? Check out these 5-ingredient homemade LARABARS

In high school, I was dedicated to my career and set down the path to become a journalist.  I volunteered to produce a weekly newscast with college students…in high school!  And when I saw that being a motivated self-learner helped open doors, I knew that it wasn’t enough to just sit back and wait for new opportunities to present themselves.  Doing what I wanted meant taking initiative.

About halfway through college, I felt the Lord calling me to surrender my career to Him.  To some, surrendering a career means entering the work force as a minister, but that wasn’t so for me.

I struggled for a couple of years and hoped that God would show me the path He wanted me to pursue.  It was frustrating; I’m a planner…I like to know what happens next.  I wrestled with the unknown and daily have to surrender.  “Lord, whatever it is you want me to do today…lead, and I’ll follow.”

Now, I work for an amazing ministry business.  We work each day to resource churches so they can make disciples.  We pray at work, we pray for our work, and we work together with a Kingdom-expanding focus.  But we are still a business, and the work I do is still part of my career.

The conversation about women in the workplace seems outdated but it still exists, and with an added pressure to “do it all.”  I feel like this pressure is even more intense for Christian women who want to work and have a family.  We feel like we need to do it all; be on top of our game at work and be a godly wife and mother for our families.  For most of us, the pressure doesn’t begin when Prince Charming slips the ring on our finger, either.  It starts early and may even impact our future decisions at work and home.

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Here are six tips from Glamour magazine (of all places) for women in the work force:

Remember, Wonder Woman doesn’t exist. She is fiction, and you are real. Building a life on fantasy is never a good thing.

Learn from the guys. Men know there’s only so much they can do at once. If the budget report’s due, the lawn goes unmowed. Women try to keep everything going, all the plates spinning. It’s OK to set down a plate. Just choose which one.

Stay close to home. As your life gets more complicated, having family around is a godsend, so live by parents or siblings. Find the right partner. Sheryl Sandberg said it in Lean In, but it bears repeating.

Marry someone you love and like; finding a person who doesn’t care if you’re perfect is a good start.

Banish guilt from your social life. You don’t have to accept every invitation. Before you RSVP, ask yourself: (1) Is it required for work? (2) Will it help you professionally or intellectually? (3) Will you enjoy it? If the answer to all three is no, don’t go.

Commit to a workout regimen. It feels like one more gotta-be- perfect obligation, but exercise is a stress reliever: If I didn’t run, swim, or lift weights, I almost certainly would have killed someone by this point in my life.

Pick a job you love. If your career is satisfying, you’re more likely to stick with it after having kids. Women flee consulting and banking in droves; female doctors, though, tend to stay put, perhaps because no one enters medical school on a whim.

The most crucial thing for women to know today? No one does it all. We each, if we’re lucky, will have our chance to leave a mark on the world, but we are trying too hard to be perfect. So don’t emulate Wonder Woman; think about what’s wonderful to you instead. Then boldly, audaciously, joyfully, leave the rest behind.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a great book for women in the workforce.  I didn’t think women’s issues was actually an issue, but it was a seriously great read that opened my eyes to a lot of things.  I’ll be sharing more about it on the blog soon!

Ladies, what’s your biggest fear about balancing work and family life? 

By now most of you know of my obsession with The Peach Truck; Georgia peaches straight off the Pearson family farm and sold by some of the nicest folks on the planet, right here in the city that has my heart.  You can learn more about their story here.

The Peach Truck - Katie DeCillo - Nashville, TN

Justin’s parents were in town this weekend and we couldn’t wait to share the love with them.  I’ve been dying to throw some of that Georgia gold on the grill and man, did it live up to every expectation.

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We halved and pitted two peaches and threw them on the grill (flesh side down–make sure you spray the grill first) on low for about five minutes.  Top quickly with ice cream and caramel and ENJOY!

What’s your favorite peach recipe?  I’m looking forward to trying some of these!

Murray and Paducah friends, The Peach Truck will be in town on August 1st as part of their Small Town Tour.  Check out times and locations here.

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The tallest tomato in all the land.

As you probably know, our little house got a little garden this summer.  It’s my first go around with vegetables and I’m doing my best to document the progress just incase it never ever happens again.  Also, it’s totally cool to interview yourself, right?

What’s in your garden, Katie?  Heirloom tomatoes, green beans, jalapeños, miniature bell peppers, and cucumbers.

Is it an organic garden?  Errr…not quite.  It was my hope to keep things “clean,” but we have a lot of critters and tiny creatures in South Nashville who love to eat plants.  So I had to resort to using a powdered insecticide.

Do you have vegetables coming out of your ears?  Well, I’ve got a whole bag of green beans in the freezer…if 8 counts as a “whole bag”…  This garden is a lesson in patience, and I’m hoping for a late harvest so I can make pickles and salsa and learn how to can.

Why the heck were you talking about male cucumber flowers on Facebook the other day?  When my cucumber plants first started to bloom, I got really excited.  I had flowers everywhere and hopes of cucumber salad til Kingdom come.  Every day, I go out to the garden hoping to find a baby cuke.  And every day, still nothing but more flowers.

So, I consulted my friend Google and found out that unlike most veggies, cucumber plants produce both male and female flowers.  You need both, plus bees to pollenate before you get a cucumber.  I’ve got pink bows on my shopping list and I’m hoping that’ll encourage the ol’ vine to produce some girlies sometime soon.

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Besides cucumber flower anatomy, what have you learned so far?  Beans don’t always trellis, tomato plants have no shame when it comes to height, and even though the plants grow and change overnight, fruit doesn’t always come quickly.  Gardens need babysitters and encouragers, but they’re worth it, even if only to be a living illustration of God’s character. (Trust me on that one)

Do you have week-by-week pictures of your garden?  Duh…

 How does YOUR garden grow?  What advice would you give to a first-time gardener?

 

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I’ve noticed that a lot of little things have gotten me down lately.  They’re really, really stupid things that don’t have much weight in the grand scheme of life.

And you know what?  They’re preventing me from rejoicing over all the crazy awesome things going on right now.  That’s sad, because there are some seriously awesome things going on (more on that later).

Because I feel it’s my duty to help pull you past whatever might be getting you down and keeping you from seeing the bright shiny things, let’s say it together… Yay anyway.  Catchy, right?

Is there rain on your parade?  Think about all the seeds getting watered.  Yay anyway.  

Did you spill your milk?  Drink a glass of lemonade instead.  Yay anyway.

Don’t let the little things get you down today!

This isn’t a post about gardening.  Mostly.

My vegetable garden has become my pride and joy and has given me a greater understanding of God’s attention to detail that I would ever have imagined.

Have you ever sprouted a seed and watched it come up through the dirt?  It’s nothing short of amazing and happens so fast you swear it grows an inch every time you blink.

I walk out to my garden nearly every day before I leave for work and check it again when I get home. Things happen in that garden.  Something gets new leaves or blooms or produces fruit and I don’t want to miss any part of that.

This morning, I pulled at a small weed and was surprised when it popped right out of the dirt.  The root went straight down and looked like it wasn’t even thinking about heading in any other direction to provide support.

Have you ever planted cucumbers or zucchini?  Those things boast giant leaves and give way to a mighty vine that crawls quickly over anything.  It reaches tendrils out and grabs on to my trellis like it has two eyes and knows exactly where it is going.  If I tried to pull that cucumber plant out of the ground, I’d be doing a LOT of work just to get it off the trellis.

That trellis provides support for the cucumber vine, but also for the fruit.

This morning, these two plants– the weed and the cucumber– served as a reminder of our calling to be part of a community as believers.  We take a risk by putting down roots and reaching out tendrils (groan) when we come alongside someone whose life seems messy and difficult.  We worry our life might become messy and difficult, too… and it probably will. Though none of us can produce good fruit on our own apart from God, saying “I want in on your mess,” allows us to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, (Romans 1:12 HCSB) giving way to good fruit.

Don’t be a weed! 

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