Two Things I LOVE. Maybe 3.

First: I am getting sick for the first time this year. Scratchy throat, stuffy nose. It hurts. My elixir? The trusty Neti Pot. Hallelujah!

Second: The feeling I get after flossing and brushing my teeth. It’s like I’ve just had an amazing spa experience and feel like a new person! (Even when I’m sick). Need to give a shout out to the inventors of modern dental floss, paste, and toothbrushes!

Finally, I’ve promised more recipes on my site. Working on it. One should come this week. But to kick us off, for you other Neti-Pot-lovers out there…did you know you can make your own Neti-Pot salt solution? Saves big bucks vs. those individual packets they try to sell you:

Neti Pot Salt Solution

Supplies:

1 small-medium jar or old medicine bottle

1 half tsp. measuring spoon

Free Flowing Salt (preferably the non-iodized kind. just salt people.)

Baking Soda

How to:

Mix the salt and baking soda in a three to one ratio into the jar. That’s three scoops salt to each scoop baking soda (I use a TBSP for this). Shake it! Store with your Neti Pot and the half-tsp. When ready to Neti, use 1/2 tsp. per pot of warm water. Make sure you shake the powder solution before measuring as it can separate.

Violla! An easy breathing dream come true for the price of just a few pennies!

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Wheres the Food?

In my efforts to blog more these past few weeks, I’ve realized I have not blogged about food once. I haven’t blogged about food in a while. And this blog is named after an inspiration I had while cooking (http://tinyurl.com/2c3f4wr). It may be that I was so busy as the semester progressed not to take the time. Or it may be that I still don’t have software on my computer for my camera and have to rely on Matt’s. Or it may just be that I haven’t done much cooking these past weeks.

But today I’ve made my favorite Gluten Free Cornbread from the Gluten Free Girl (http://tinyurl.com/29r86ya). And our dear friends, the Thompsons, sent a big box of gluten free goodies to us last week…with a asian stir fry mix just waiting for me in the cupboard.

My brother in law, Tim, used to live with us and was the biggest fan of my cooking (second to Matt). He’s a vegetarian, a bachelor, and a pretty simple guy. So, whenever I’d be making a meal he could enjoy, he’d stand by the stove and waft in the scent…which resulted in cursing exclamations (and sometimes a bit of grunting) about how good the food smelled. It makes me laugh just to think about it! Such a compliment.

Tim sometimes asks me for new recipes. I haven’t had any in quite a while. But with the semester starting tomorrow and a tired palate, I’ve spent the last 3 days searching out new things to try and organizing my Black Book of recipes. So, this one is for you, Timmy. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m making it this week and I think it suits both our fancies and our budgets:

Chickpea Pasta with Almonds and Parmesan (c/o Real Simple Magazine)

1T olive oil

3 cloves garlic (or 1.5t canned garlic)

7 cups vegetable or chick broth

1/2t crushed red pepper

3/4t salt

1lb pasta

1-15.5oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1c flat leaf parsley, chopped (or a couple T dried parsley)

1/4c roasted almonds, chopped

1/2c grated parmesan

To Prepare:

1. Heat oil in large saucepan on med-high. Add the garlic and cook 1 min.

2. Add the broth, pepper flakes, and 3/4t salt and bring to boil.

3. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally for about 6 min until pasta is al dente. Water should absorb.

4. Stir in chickpeas and parsley. When serving, top with parmesan.

Awakening a Heart of Prayer

The Lord has been awakening my heart these few days. Coming off an indulgent holiday of food, “relaxation,” coffee, sleep, and many other things in excess, I’ve been longing for a new heart. And He’s answering. I’m not one for too much regiment in my relationship with Jesus (which I lament), but he is beginning to awaken a desire for commitment to a couple of things in my heart.

I’m sure having a highly regimented husband helps this. Matt read a few weeks ago about a group of people who are committing to memorizing Philippians (a short but packed book of the Bible) by Easter. He asked me to memorize it with him. I’ve never done anything like this before. We are six verses in.

Perhaps I’m wanting to fight stagnancy (just made that word up). I don’t know what is pushing me, really. But I’ve been hearing about believers in Christ all over the world who are persecuted, arrested, blown to smitherines (not my words). And what am I doing to encourage them? To pray for them? When we ask in faith, He responds to our prayers. So, my heart is moved to pray. To pray for one country a month in 2011. That Jesus would be made known in these places.

First: Iran. No question, this was the first country on my heart. While studying in Germany in college, I had three friends from Iran. In an email a few years later, one of them told me he was glad about my religious fervor and that our faiths are the same. My heart sank…I didn’t know how to tell him “No, my Jesus is unlike any other!” And if I tried, I couldn’t be sure my email would even reach him.

So, in January, I am learning about and praying for Iran. Want to join me? The first thing I learned today: Iran is situated in between Iraq (on the west) and Afghanistan (on the east). I may have known this, but I sure was surprised today…knowing America has been fighting wars all around Iran for the past decade…I will pray for the people in the middle.

ending the binge

SLOW. that’s how i’d describe the last few days. we are home, the holidays are over, and we are moving toward getting back into routine as the semester starts monday. but the late mornings in bed do not want to fade the way i’d like them to…my new flannel sheets entice and bid me not to leave the coziness of the bed when morning comes. if i don’t fight the temptation, monday will bring a rude awakening!

Jesus has also been renewing our hearts these past few days. is it just me (certainly it’s not), but does our relationship and closeness to Christ seem to flounder during the exact season when we are celebrating his birth? perhaps it’s all the traveling and not being at home in our routines, long 3 week vacation (for us students), or all the presents. i know my heart does not feel as distant from God at Easter…so it’s something about the way we celebrate Christmas, i’m sure. i lament this, and i’m not sure how to combat it. do i just hope for the best next year and not develop a plan of attack? that certainly won’t do.

we are in this sunday school class at church for young married people. just got an email saying we are starting a new book/video series on how to be a contagious christian. i must admit, my first reaction was “not too interested.” not because i think being contagious is unimportant, but because i think “i’ve got it down. i’ve arrived.” who am i kidding!? if that were the case, everyone i came in contact with would want to know jesus. i was convicted shortly thereafter, thinking about a relationship where i treat the person just as the world would, rather than welcoming her back with love and acceptance, despite what she’s done and my not knowing the whole story. i am not like jesus, and i’ve got a long way to go.

matt and i have been asking ourselves a lot lately what it means to be jesus to the world. that’s what he’s asked us to do. and christians in our society aren’t looking that different from those who don’t believe. sure, we talk…but how is that language translated into action? we watched a couple of sessions from the Passion conference this week, and the host/emcee got me with this: “Christian does not mean Jesus to our world.” people will continually affirm that yup, god is great. but they often don’t mean God, and rarely mean Jesus.

jesus’ words and life were a lot for people to swallow in his day. he’s not a cozy guy with perfectly parted and combed hair stroking a lamb and holding a staff (think i stole that from john eldridge). today, James 1:26-27 got me:

26If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

i’ve been shaken…i don’t want worthless religion. but will i act? i don’t know. the second part of that verse…to visit orphans, got me too. twice now in two days, my heart has been moved for fostering children in our home. we have several friends who do this and it is beautiful. hard, to be sure. but i was thinking: we have limited pace, are highly mobile (move a lot), and want to go to Chicago for the summer. is this even possible? i just keep thinking if we wait and wait and wait, some children will grow up never having been cared for in a home. can i see if we even ‘qualify’? definitely.

i think that’s all for now…a lot of thoughts for sure. my To Do list is lengthier than i thought. so i better get going…