Yogurt and Out

Kayla and I had been looking forward to some time together after being apart almost two whole weeks ~ I was in Texas and then she was in the Dominican Republic.  So, last Tuesday we ventured downtown, got frozen yogurt, and then checked out some books at the library.  There are two frozen yogurt shops less than a block from our downtown library (how wonderful is that?), which is great, because as you can see, we don’t agree on who has the best yogurt. Hers is of the multiple flavors, serve yourself, add-you-own-toppings, pay by weight kind (which comes as a pre-mixed liquid in plastic bags and looks like colored water when it melts), and mine is of the local, grass fed cow, creamy, made in house variety.  I mean, I really thought I was raising a more conscientious, discerning dairy and dessert connoisseur, but neither my clear teaching nor my living example carries any weight in the face of the pull-any-lever-of-any-crazy-flavor-frozen-“yogurt”-you-want option.  And you can even insert “dividers” in your cup if you don’t want all those crazy flavors to mix. What an evil scheme. Sigh…
This Mommy-Daughter date downtown was the last time I left the house last week before some sort of plague took me down and out for the count.  It took Kayla out, too, but she bounced back a bit more quickly than her mama.  It started with Cooper the week before ~ fever, chills, body aches, and then a terrible cough.  Five days later he was still down and out and despairing that it was lasting so long.  I thought there might have been a bit of teenage drama involved in his prolonged illness (and a golden opportunity to take some days off from his online SAT prep program), until I came down with the dreadful thing myself. My goodness. 
I could feel the throat tickle on Sunday.  Monday morning, I still pulled myself out of bed for a morning run, but had to turn around early due to fatigue and lack of strength. That afternoon we attended a Memorial Day cookout from 3-10pm and I wasn’t feeling so great there, but thought I might be escaping with just a touch of what Cooper had.  Tuesday was the promised yogurt date and it was all downhill from there.
I can not remember the last time I was that sick for that long.  This was no carry-on-with-life-even- though-you-have-a-bad-cold illness.  It was a can’t-pull-myself-out-of-bed-for-two-days-illness. Ugh. I did finish a good book, though, so that was a plus, it’s just that I felt miserable the whole time.  And it’s actually not true that I never left the house.  On Thursday, and in complete denial, I thought I would shower, dress, and walk to the grocery store for a few items. “The sunshine and exercise will do me good,” I thought.  It was a bad idea, and I barely made it home. Back to bed I went ~ this time with an actual fever and awful headache.  I caved and had Kory run to CVS and get me some Advil PM.  I know it’s bad when all my “natural” and “homeopathic” ideals and remedies go straight out the window.  I have a lot of willpower when it comes to following those natural health routines, but not this time ~ or not for very long at least.  Whew.
On Sunday ~ nearly a whole week later, I made it to church in order to begin my new small group. I still wasn’t feeling myself, but definitely better.  It was great to meet with a wonderful group of women and start this book.
There were seven of us total, and we’ll complete this really relevant book over the next 6 weeks.  Maybe I’ll share more about why I chose it soon, but if you’re paying attention at all, I’m sure you can see that there’s been a major cultural shift in sexual ideas and values over the last 50 years, and women have paid a great price for it.  I’ve seen the fallout with my own two eyes and heard it with my own two ears and it. is. heartbreaking. I’m excited to share this book with women and encourage them with the timeless truth that they are “a prize in their own right” (quote from the book) since they have been created in God’s image.
On Monday morning my new running app was greeting me with this message: “We had a great workout last week!  Let’s get back out there today!”  Ha! It’s never had to encourage me to get in a workout, because I have literally never (well, since I started years ago) taken off a whole week from running.  Guess I at least get to experience its many encouraging features. 🙂
And that’s exactly what I did.  I hit the trail Monday morning, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I only got in 3.5 miles, but it was a good first day out after being “down and out” for a week, and it was a beautiful morning, too.
So very thankful to being feeling myself again today, and ready to enjoy the summer which seems to have finally arrived today!

Gluten Free Friday ~ MariGold Bars!

My friend, Mari…{Well, she’s really only my Facebook friend, and the cousin of my dear friend and middle school Spanish teacher, Kelly/Miss Riggs…but those things and the fact that she’s from Texas, and makes gluten free treats, make me love her and know that she is a kindred spirit. ☺} Anyway, Mari is a fitness and weight loss specialist who has had great success in helping people turn their health around in significant ways.  In recent years, Mari’s clients began asking her to recommend a healthy protein bar.  After doing some research, and finding the protein bars currently on the market lacking in all-whole and healthy ingredients, she decided to try her hand at making one.

Well, they were an instant success, and those who tried them requested more…and more…and more. What started with the original “Chocolate Praline Bar” has now turned into seven flavors and even more demand!

Problem is, even with their dedicated kitchen, the FDA requires a uniform size with less than a 4% variation, and that requires special cutting and indexing equipment, which is expensive.

This is where WE come in!  These bars are 100% gluten free.  In fact they are free of most of the major allergens.  Mari uses all organic and “whole” ingredients like coconut oil, raw agave, organic dark chocolate, and cold-pressed whey from grass-fed cows.

As people desiring quality gluten free products, and for those of us also interested in health and fitness, I thought you would like an opportunity to help Mari with the equipment needed to produce these bars more easily and to a wider market.

Watch this video to hear the story from Mari herself ~ and her husband Steve. {And notice how fun and cute they are, too!  They ARE from Texas…☺}

I hope you will consider being a “backer” of this  business with a one-time donation toward the needed equipment.  Every dollar counts, and with a donation of just $25, you’ll receive an assortment of MariGold bars for yourself!

I thoroughly enjoyed becoming a donor yesterday, and even in a very small way, helping them reach their goal of $9,800.  Also, I can hardly wait to get my MariGold bars in the mail!  {Too bad they won’t be in time for my triathlon tomorrow!}

Here’s the site that makes it a breeze to help Mari and Steve keep producing this high-quality and delicious product:

Kickstarter ~ MariGold Bars

I hope you’ll click on over and help them reach their goal! {And help a small business!}

And if you’re interested, here’s Mari’s website for her weight loss method!  Good stuff!

Have a great weekend, and if you think of me tomorrow morning, pray for the strength and endurance to swim a mile, bike 25, and run six!  I’m excited, but so nervous!

California Dreamin’ & Veggie Nightmares

 Our family has been dreaming of a California vacation for about eight months now.  Eight months because it was in December that we learned of my brother Stu’s engagement to his girlfriend, Rachel. Stu and Rachel both live in southern California, their wedding is on Saturday, and we could not be happier for this godly couple who’ve been a testimony to so many in their courtship, especially my own kids.  But if the vegetables have their say, I won’t be going anywhere.

The hardest part about having a farm share is DEALING with all those weekly veggies once you get them home!  I knew today would bring lots of time in a steamy hot kitchen {it’s in the 90’s here today, and there’s no air-conditioning in that room of the house}, and a big mess to deal with all on the same day I need to be packing for our week-long venture to Cali!  {We leave at 6am tomorrow morning, and guess who’s the only person not packed?}

Yesterday, I made it out to the farm, in the midst of LOTS of other post-youth-camp-pre-California-trip-errands, during pick-up hours and pick-ing hours. There were baskets of kale, arugula, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, green onions and other things in the barn for filling your bags.  Out in the field, I picked  bags full of basil, cilantro, and green beans.  It was hot and I was drenched by the time I was finished.  {My little farm helpers aren’t quite so little anymore and know exactly that a trip to the farm entails, so they usually find a way to dodge going along with me.} All I could do once I got home was throw some green onions into the chicken salad I was making for dinner, and store the remaining veggies until today ~ the day before departure.

Well, it took almost all day, and the kitchen was like a sauna from the all of the blanching, but the arugula, kale, and basil became pesto. {Frozen into cubes for future use.}

The tomatoes and cilantro became salsa.

And the green beans got blanched, cooled off, and stored in the deep freeze, which seemed like a comfortable place for ME to be stored as well.  It was HOT!

The carrots will wait for our return, and I guess we’ll be having whatever protein I can find in the freezer and sauteed yellow squash for dinner, because I don’t think it freezes very well, and I don’t have time to be creative! 
After dinner I’ll be making some gluten free raspberry, oatmeal, and white chocolate bars for breakfast and traveling snacks, and hopefully getting my suitcase packed before midnight.  {And no veggie nightmares, either, but beach dreams instead ~ hopefully.} 4am is going to arrive very quickly.  Less than 12 hours now ~ yikes!

So worth it, though, to be with family and friends to celebrate Uncle Stu’s and the soon-to-be Aunt Rachel’s special day!  Prayers for a peaceful heart, efficient packing, and safe travel appreciated.  Prayers also for  a wedding ceremony that blesses this special couple and gives glory to the God Who drew them together, as well as a lifetime of deepening friendship and joy in their marriage.

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all…”
Hebrews 13:4
“This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
Ephesians 5:32

Gluten Free Friday ~ 7 Day Dinner Plan

Photo by Derf @ Food.com

Still settling in here after our return from sabbatical.  Only three containers left to unpack!  This afternoon, as I was preparing pizza and salad for dinner, I was dismayed to discover that I left my Pampered Chef pizza stone in the kitchen of our sabbatical rent house in Austin.  Boo Hoo!  No one is renting the house yet, so I think we can still have someone retrieve it for us before long.

I will still post about the rest of our trip to Disney World soon, but thought I would give you the rest of the 7 day meal plan from Health magazine tonight, which are the dinners. Again, these are good-for-the-gut-bloat-reducing meals, with things like parsley which is a natural diuretic. Oh, and these are one serving meals, so if you’re serving a family, you’ll need to multiply.

Day 1: Arugula Salad Pizza
1 GF brown rice wrap
2 tsp pesto (homemade or bottled)
2 cups arugula (or spinach, or a combo of both)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp pine nuts
1/4 cup navy beans
1 tsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Toast or broil the wrap, spread with pesto. Toss together arugula, tomatoes, pine nuts, navy beans, olive oil, and lemon juice/vinegar.  Top the toasted wrap and pesto with the salad.

Day 2: Broiled Salmon, Asparagus, and Quinoa
10 asparagus spears
1 4 oz salmon filet
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Brush salmon and asparagus with olive oil, and broil for 15-20 minutes. Rinse quinoa, and cook in water for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle everything with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Day 3: Grilled Veggie & Herbed Goat Cheese Sandwich
3 slices eggplant
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tsp olive oil
4 Tbsp herbed goat cheese
1 GF roll, or 2 pieces GF sandwich bread

Brush eggplant slices and red pepper with olive oil.  Place on a hot grill pan, skillet, or panini grill, and  cook until tender. Spread goat cheese on GF roll or bread slices, add grilled veggies to make a sandwich.

Day 4: Pesto Pasta
1/2 cup dry GF penne pasta
1 small zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup canned chickpeas
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp pesto, bottled or homemade
1 Tbsp pine nuts
3 Tbsp parsley, chopped

Cook pasta according to directions.  Sauté zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas in olive oil until zucchini is crisp-tender. Toss cooked pasta with pesto, and then toss in the veggies.

Day 5: Chicken with Broccoli & Nutty Brown Rice
1 small chicken breast, chopped or sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 garlic clove
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped almonds
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté chicken and garlic in olive oil for 8-10 minutes.  Add broccoli, and sauté 5-10 minutes more.  Toss rice with parsley and almonds.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Day 6: Steak Salad with Feta & Yogurt Dressing
4 oz grilled sirloin, cut in strips
4 oz plain yogurt
3 Tbsp Feta
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes

Grill steak, and cut in strips.  Whisk together yogurt, feta, and pepper.  Toss together lettuce and tomatoes, pour dressing over, and top with grilled steak.

Day 7: Chicken Fettuccine with Lemon Butter & Peas
3/4 cup dry GF fettuccine
4 oz chicken breast, chopped or sliced
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup frozen peas
juice from 1 lemon

Cook fettuccine according to instructions.  Sauté chicken breast in 2 Tbsp butter until cooked through.  Add  peas and lemon juice.  Cook until peas are thawed.  Serve chicken mixture over pasta.


Now, you can put these dinners together with the breakfast and lunch plans for a whole week of fresh, nutritious, and simple meals.  (I will give you the snack plan soon!) You may lose a few pounds if you stick to the small portion size, and leave out most of your usual sugar intake, and you will almost definitely see an improvement in after meal bloating and indigestion.  Hope you enjoy the plan as much as I have!

Fussing Over Fish and Fuzzy Beans

Dinnertime kitchen conversation tonight with Kayla ~ the eve of Mommy leaving for Oklahoma for a few days…

Kayla:  What are you making making for dinner, Mom?

Me: Fish!  Aren’t you excited!?!

Kayla:  (groan) Why can’t we have the chili?

Me:  The chili is for tomorrow night while I’m gone to Oklahoma.  I also made pizza crusts for you guys for Friday’s movie night.

Kayla:  I wish we could have the chili tonight.

Me:  Nope.  It’s your favorite tonight ~ fish!  (sarcasm)  The chili is for Thursday and the pizza is for Friday.

Kayla: Ooooooookkkaaaaaaaaaayyyy. (more groans)

Me:  That’s right.  We’re having the yucky meal tonight with mom ~ fish, but at least it’s not salmon.  It’s cod.  And the fun meals with Dad when I’m gone. Oh, and for Saturday I got the ingredients for spaghetti ~ one of Dad’s when-mom-is-away specialties!

Kayla:  Yeah, but Dad will probably still pick out a bad movie for movie night on Friday.

  (Last week’s movie was The Mission, and he’s also been known to bring home 
Joshua or Luther. In his defense, this happens mostly when the three young Krums can not agree on a movie ~ and even still they haven’t yet learned to cooperate!)

Me: Well, at least you’ll be eating pizza with your bad movie instead of fish!

Kayla:  Yeah, or kale or kombucha or those fuzzy beans….edam?  edamam?  edamame?

Me:  Exactly!

And this whole conversation reminded me of a video that we’ve watched multiple times, since a friend of mine posted it on Facebook.  We’ve laughed till we’ve cried each time, because it is eerily similar to some things that go on in our house.

This mom is singing the Carpenter’s “On Top of the World”  WHILE making green smoothies, AND has kombucha fermenting in her pantry.  I’ve been searching for the hidden cameras in my kitchen, but to no avail.  All I have to say is that I’m  very comforted by the fact that there are other kindred kombucha spirits out there.  
At least once a day, someone in our house uses the sing-song phrase…
 “I made you guys a smoothie!”

Swim, Bike, Run = Fun!

 3:45 a.m. ~ Wake up and look at alarm clock which will go off in 15 minutes.  Lay there and wonder if I actually got any sleep (I did!), and then turn it off so it doesn’t wake Robert up.  He’s got a big day of preaching, teaching, meeting, and greeting ahead of him!

3:55 a.m. ~ Get out of bed, put on bathing suit and over-clothes, grab prepared backpack, and head downstairs for more packing and breakfast.

4:10 a.m. ~ Open my Bible and read Psalm 106…



Praise the LORD! 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times!Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; Visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance….

Thank the Lord for the grace of a healthy body that is able to exercise ~ it has been such a source of restoration and healing for me ~ a lifter of my heart ~ a tool for transformation of mind and perspective ~ a spark plug for joy.  Thank Him for friends to join with in races and other adventures.  Ask for His strength and help.  Ask for His presence to be known at church and His Word to be powerfully taught through Robert.  Ask that Jessica’s memorial be meaningful testimony of God’s sovereignty…

4:30 a.m. ~ Put toast in toaster, start water for hot tea, grab a couple of bananas. Remind myself not to forget my bike helmet.

(Can not get those lines to STOP being highlighted in white!?!?)



4:45 a.m. ~ Jenna and Jennifer quietly knock at my front door.  They were a bit early, because they were planning to grab some coffee at Dunkin Donuts, but it doesn’t open until 5a.m.  Jenna has already eaten her oatmeal; Jenna is drinking her homemade berry and yogurt smoothie.

4:50 a.m. ~ Make myself 2 fried eggs, butter one piece of GF toast, put tea in to-go mug, and head out to the van with J & J.

5:00 a.m. ~ Drive to pick up Betsy (just a couple of blocks away) and discover on the way that I DID forget my helmet.  Get Betsy loaded up and head back to my house to get my helmet.  Make sure everyone else has helmets, towels, running shoes.

5:05 a.m. ~ Betsy prays for our trip to Connecticut and for our safety and endurance in the race and that the Lord would be glorified in all of it.

5:08 a.m. ~ Be the first customers of the day at Dunkin Donuts for Jenna’s Latte Lite.  Begin the 1 hour and 15 minute drive to Farmington, CT.

6:15 a.m. ~ Arrive at Winding Trails Park in Farmington, CT, park, go get registration packets, and then head to the body marking station! Your bib number is written on your right arm and calf, your AGE is written on the back of your left calf.  There were some in our group less than happy about that last part.  I won’t mention any names, but I will tell you that their names did not start with J’s.
6:25 a.m. ~ Trip to lovely blue porta potties.

 6:30 – 7:00 a.m. ~ Unload van of bikes, helmets, backpacks, water bottles, etc. and head to “transition area” to set up.  Learn a few things by watching the pros: how to hang bike on rack, strategic placement of towel, shoes, socks (one in each shoe ~ not in a ball!), helmet on bike, bowl of water for washing feet?!?! (This must be because it was 30 or so yards from where you exit the lake after swimming to the transition area where your bike it ~ plenty of sand, dirt, and grass between the two.)

7:10 a.m. ~ Another trip to lovely blue porta potties.

7:15 a.m. ~ Gather on beach with all participants. This triathlon was for women only, which I though was especially nice, and it was fun to see all of the different faces, ages, and groups of friends.  Each age group had its own color swim cap!
7:20 a.m. ~ Silently watch a color guard come through the crowd of women with the flag.  They were led by a man playing the bagpipes.  Hear female announcer welcome everyone, recognize the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and lead everyone in a prayer.  (To God!  In New England!)  Listen as a man read a short biography of another man who lost his life on one of the planes that crashed on 9/11 ~ 33 years old, from Sudbury, MA, businessman, college shot put and discus champ.  Hear the bagpipes play Amazing Grace, and join in silent prayer as requested by the female announcer.
7:30 a.m. ~ Final porta potty trip for some of us!

7:40 a.m. ~ Swim waves begin.  Yellow caps first, then pink, green, white, blue, etc. ~ 4 minutes apart.

7: 48 a.m. ~ My swim wave begins.  The water is actually WARM ~ Hurray!  I’m slapping others and getting slapped myself, but it’s not as claustrophobic as I feared.  The sun breaks through the clouds, and I thank the Lord for that gift, as well as the gift of strength without panic.  I actually feel GOOD swimming for the first time! (Every training swim at Puffer’s Pond was cold and dreadful.) It takes me about 23 minutes to complete the 1/2 mile swim.

8:15 a.m.(ish) ~ Jog to transition area to dry off, pull on tights, t-shirt, shoes and socks. Serious triathletes try to accomplish the “transition” in mere seconds.  Mine was more like 5 minutes!  Jenna waited for me, so we could do the bike and run parts together.

8:30 a.m. ~ Biking and enjoying the scenery ~ beautiful homes and farmland.  Passing some, but hearing lots of “On your left!”  I’m behind Jenna on her mountain bike.  She’s pedaling like crazy, but the road bikes just go faster.  The bike ride was 12 miles total.

9:00 a.m. ~ Transition time again!  Hang bike on rack and begin the 3 mile run.  My legs feel like bricks and rubber all at the same time, but Jenna and I finally hit a good pace on the wet, muddy-in-places, rocky, root-y, leaf-y trail through Winding Hills Park.

9:15 a.m. ~ Still running and even passing some of those “On your left”-ers now.  Every time we pass someone, we hear an encouraging “Way to go, ladies!” or “Lookin’ good!” or my favorite ~ “You guys aren’t even breaking a sweat!” from the other runners or walkers.  I loved that the whole atmosphere of the event was so encouraging and supportive.

9:29 a.m. ~ Finish line!  As Jenna and I cross together, Betsy and Jennifer are waiting for us.  Hugs and congratulations all around.  I stand in amazement of my friend Betsy, who started her swim in the wave AFTER me, (which, ahem ~ means she’s older than me) and finished the entire race 22 minutes BEFORE me!  I never even saw her pass me!  (I think she swam underneath me!) That’s Betsy for you ~ she is lightening fast.  I am SO proud of her for finishing 7th in her age group and 74th out of about 500 overall.  
(I was more like #353.  My time was something like 1 hour & 52 minutes.)

9:40 a.m. ~ Food and other freebies time!  We grabbed bananas, bagels (well, for J, J, and B), chips, wraps, chocolate bars, and  Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee.

9:50 a.m. ~ Pick up all gear from transition area and load it into van.  Pack bikes in and on the van.  Change into fresh dry clothes and marvel that it’s not even 10 a.m. yet!

9:55 a.m. ~ Porta Potty!

10:00 a.m. ~ Photo session on the beach as requested by me ~ must have numbers and swim caps!  How can we NOT capture this moment of fluorescent, flat-headed, fun?  Even the buoys are fluorescent orange, but they had already been retrieved from the lake, so you can’t see our swim loop.  It was basically a triangle from one part of the beach, all the way across the lake, back to another part of the beach.   

10:30 a.m. ~ Back to finish line area for more free food ~ Jennifer is ready to eat chips now, and I somehow missed the chocolate the first time around. One more round of iced coffee for everyone, too!  (It was either that or beer, and no one in our group had a craving for THAT at this time of the morning or after the challenging race we’d just finished!)

10:45 a.m. ~ Walk back to the van, but not without stopping for a photo of the famed blue porta potties ~ a necessary evil of every race in which one participates.  Pretty sure Jenna holds the record for number of times visiting the pretty potties!  🙂

1:30 p.m. ~ Arrive back home after one flat tire (yes, really) and dropping Betsy and Jenna and their bikes at their homes.  Jennifer drives herself home from my house ~ bike fastened to roof of car.  Unload bike, backpack, water bottles, etc.

2:00 p.m.  Get a text from Robert who is still at church:  “How did it go?”  I respond, “It was great!  Challenging, but really fun!”

2:05 p.m. Get a phone call from Robert next asking me to pick up my kiddos from church as he has meetings for a while longer.  Thank the Lord for a great triathlon experience and adjust mindset to “Back to real life”  wife, and mommy mode!

5:00 p.m. ~ Robert is finally home and we all head to Goberry to celebrate mom’s triathlon!  Goberry is our new frozen yogurt shop in town.  Local, grass fed cow’s milk yogurt, only lightly sweetened, amazing flavors (chai! coconut! blueberry! java!), and fresh fruit to top ~ or chocolate or toffee or sprinkles…..it’s my current addiction! (Oh ~ and big self-serve bottles of honey or chocolate syrup!)

5:30 p.m.  Let the family know that the yogurt they just ate is going to double as their dinner.  This mama is tired now!

Saturday Love, Veggie Love, Cindy Love

Yesterday was a gorgeous here – about 75 degrees, clear and sunny. (Sorry Texas, Oklahoma, & California.) Robert decided to join me in an early trip to the farm to pick up our weekly share. Good thing he did, or else I would have been there twice as long picking beans. Most things are already picked for you, but some things are PYO. (Pick your own) So….we picked raspberries, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, basil, and BEANS. There were so many beans that you could pick extra and buy them for a bulk rate. We picked exactly three extra pounds for $3. And they were beautiful! Green, purple, and cream and purple swirled. (Don’t know their real scientific names, so I’m making them up.) Also in our share were…onions, corn, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, arugula, Swiss chard, green onions, cucumbers, a gigantic watermelon, and a cantaloupe.

After that we headed downtown for some browsing through our town’s weekly farmer’s market. The only things we bought there were three garlic bulbs, a quart of jalapenos, and get this….some fresh ginger! ($16 per pound! Look in front of the tomatoes.) Oh, and one very gluten-ful pecan sticky bun for the only gluten-eater in our family. Usually, while eating some glutinous goodness, he will say something like…”This is really terrible. Just awful – you are not missing anything.” Which is always a lie, of course – to ease my jealousy, but after devouring this treat, he admitted it was the best sticky bun he had ever eaten. I didn’t mind at all, especially since I was able to indulge in a grass-fed-cow’s milk yogurt and peach smoothie while cruising through all of the absolutely beautiful vegetable displays. (Yes, made fresh, on the spot.)

I was in such veggie heaven, so mesmerized by the colors of our haul, that I carried it all out to our backyard, arranged it all on the picnic table and proceeded with a fruit and veggie photo shoot! I am not sure what this says about me, but it made me very happy.

And then we got busy washing, chopping, and eating!

Kayla had her friend Maddie over, and since the weather couldn’t have been more perfect, Robert worked on a campfire out back, (while simultaneously polishing off his sermon on the laptop) so that we could have campfire meals or “Hobo Meals” which is what we always call them. (Pretty sure I obtained that term from my Girl Scout camping days.)

The kids and parents all loaded up a foil packet with ground beef patties, potatoes, carrots, beans, and squash, lots of butter, and salt and pepper. (Actually, some packets were mysteriously void of squash and beans.) Then we buttered up some corn and wrapped it in its own packet. Onto the coals it all went, and 15-20 minutes later everyone had their own personal meal. Dessert? Roasted marshmallows, of course. Delicious!

We had to get started on this project a bit earlier than our usual dinners, because we had a very special show to attend that evening. Cindy, our beloved church worship leader and friend, was playing at a local cafe. Everyone in Krum family was looking forward to getting a special drink (steamers, root beer, iced tea, americanos – the works!) and hanging out with church friends and listening to Cindy. Yes, we hear her every Sunday morning, but you really can’t ever get enough of this talented lady.

Seriously, I want to give a disclaimer at church each week: Warning! This church has unusually talented musicians. PLEASE do not expect this same level of expertise in other congregations. You are sure to be disappointed.

Familiar worship songs, to James Taylor, to Taylor Swift : ) – she covered it all – and even a few originals. Other friends and worship leaders, Eric and Lois, and even Cindy’s housemate, Kate, joined her for some of the songs. All so gifted….
She played to a full house, (who’s surprised?) and was her usual fun, easy-going, talented self. It was a fun and memorable time for all – thanks, Cindy!

Wonderful day of fun and favorite things…. a needed encouragement.

Up next:
Kayla’s Sermon Interpretation Drawing
Eat, Pray, Love book/movie review
Summer Re-cap
First Days of School

Kombucha, Hot Chocolate, and WATER!

Kombucha:

Well, the kombucha is not doing as I’d hoped. It definitely smells like a fermented drink at this point, but no “mother mushroom” is really forming. Don’t know what went wrong. Maybe I didn’t use enough of the pre-made kombucha in my batch. Maybe it wasn’t a warm enough atmosphere. I searched high and low for our heating pad when I first made the batch, but couldn’t find it. This may have helped, although the cabinet I kept it in is above our frig and stays very warm from the heat given off by the frig. The heating pad has been found now, so maybe I’ll add that to the recipe next time. In the meantime, I’ve spent about $16 buying kombucha at Whole Foods – a little less than one a week. I’d like to not spend ANY money on it at some point! Will give it another go in the the new year!
Hot Chocolate:

We had so much fun participating in the Northampton Hot Chocolate 5K Run this year. Cooper ran this year as part of his “Quest” or the series of activities and tasks we challenged him to meet before he turns 13 in April. He was nervous that he had not trained enough, but he ended up doing great. At the end, he said it was so fun and easy that he’d like to do it again next year “just for kicks.”

Nervous?

(Rocky theme song starts)
Here are Coop and Robert making their way through the streets of Northampton – past the Edwards’ Church, around the back of Smith College, and then back down main street to the finish downtown. This is my third year to run it, and they have changed the course every year. It benefits our local domestic violence shelter called Safe Passage, and this year the race raised $90,000 on its behalf. LOTS of folks from our church ran it as well which made it extra fun.

and WATER!

The very next day, our church held a celebratory baptismal service. Each December and May, those who have received the gift of Christ’s forgiveness and salvation are invited to declare it publicly through baptism. What an amazing gift to the Krum family to have witnessed this over 20 times in the 10 years we’ve been here. In the service, each person who is being baptized has their “story” read to the congregation. Each one always brings me to tears as I listen to the unique ways the Lord has worked in each person’s life. He is redemptive in ALL of His ways, and it is never so evident as on these occasions.
What a privilege to be a part of it.

Congrats to Tabby, Greg, Agya, and Kristen!

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Colossians 2:8-14

Kombucha: Sweet Tea for the Crunchy

Sweet tea is a staple in most Texas/Southern restaurants and homes. When Robert and I were first married, we had a pitcher of it in the frig at all times. Breakfast was the only meal we didn’t drink it with, and that was only because we were drinking hot tea first thing in the morning. You wouldn’t even think of not having sweet iced tea available for dinner guests, but it wasn’t just a mealtime drink. Many an afternoon there would be a trip to Sonic or Bill Miller BBQ drive-thru to order a large sweet tea – a craving and the seemingly perfect relief from those sweltering Texas summer afternoons.

Same thing in Oklahoma where we lived for 4 years prior to our 2000 mile move to New England in 1999. Except I think it was even sweeter there – almost like syrup, if you ask me.

Well, then I started reading up on the stuff that makes tea sweet – white sugar. I suspected it was the culprit in the extreme fatigue I was feeling, and ended up being convinced I should remove it from my diet. That meant the cookies, brownies, etc. we had for dessert almost every day, but it also meant that the sweet tea had to go. (I’ve never been a big soda drinker, but even gave up the occasional Coke.) I began drinking nothing but water at meals and during the day, and using agave or maple syrup in my morning hot tea. (Agave is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less, and it has a lower glycemic index. It does have the same amount of calories, though. Maple syrup is actually the best sweetener nutritionally.) I could tell a huge difference in my energy levels, and without meaning to, I lost about 25 pounds in a fairly short amount of time. (I think this also had to do with my undiagnosed Celiac Disease and malabsorption issues. Sugar, I think, was the only way I was keeping weight on at that time. I certainly wasn’t absorbing much from actual food!)

After all of these discoveries, and more reading, I began to make a lot of changes to my diet – taking out gluten (because of the diagnosis of an intolerance), dairy, a lot of starchy carbs, and most all processed foods. I also began to add a lot of things – nuts and nut butters, fish, lots of salads, and other greens, hummus, fruit and fruit smoothies, eggs, and more veggies. I have never felt better physically, and really enjoy learning more about nutrition and its connection to health.

Two summers ago, our family visited another pastor’s family in Connecticut. The wife is a native Texan, the husband and kids have Celiac Disease, they homeschool, had a bat and rabies shots experience like we did…..just many strange similarities to our family. One of which was that Sandy, the pastor’s wife, had been using the cookbook Nourishing Traditions quite a lot to preserve food from her garden by fermentation. I also had the cookbook, and had become interested in the same type of ideas. She asked me if I had ever made or tried Kombucha, and expressed interest, but some reservation in attempting to make it herself. And the “smelly, rotting, mushroom” she described as being involved in the process definitely lessened my passion to venture into making this “magic elixir.” I pictured a black, hairy, octopus-looking, mushroom in a bowl of its own rotting juices covered in cheesecloth and creating a huge stench in my kitchen. I was becoming “crunchy” for sure, but that was just too much “organic” for me.

A while later, my sister began talking about drinking bottled Kombucha from her Austin, TX Whole Foods store and raving about it. Next, my friend Kim mentioned picking some up at our local Whole Foods and that it drinking it gave her a very healthful feeling. Then, I noticed it for sale at our CSA farm by a local company. OK. Enough exposure and prodding…..time to give it a try. The $3.50 price tag and the initial sour smell upon opening a bottle were worrisome, but the taste was wonderful, and the feeling after drinking it was enough to keep me going back for more. I drank a bottle the day before the half-marathon, and a few sips the morning of – convinced it was going to give my digestive system an extra boost and keep my stomach from getting upset near the end of the run. At dinner the night before, I picked up a magazine introducing a new line of vitamins and supplements, took it back to our hotel, and found it to also include a two-page article on ……Kombucha! Why is this drink so delicious, trendy, and healthful? And is it really the by-product of a rotting mushroom?

The article listed many of the beneficial properties of Kombucha, and while it lamented the price per 2-serving bottle, ($3 – $5) it suggested that it might be worth the investment so that you don’t have to deal with the gross-ness of making it at home. The author described the Kombucha mushroom as “slimey” and “booger-like!”

My interest in making it was not completely squelched, though. Robert was out-of-town for a speaking engagement last weekend, and as is my usual pattern, I stayed up way too late at night doing all sorts of things. One night I spent a couple of hours researching Kombucha recipes online, and watching YouTube videos of multiple Kombucha cult-members making their own – and making it look so easy. Here’s what I found out:

1. Kombucha is nothing but fermented sweet tea – perfect for the Texan turned crunchy! (And the sugar gets “eaten” by the yeast, etc. during the fermentation process.)
2. The ingredients are water, sugar, black and green tea, and a Kombucha culture.
3. The “mushroom” is not a REAL mushroom, but rather a “scoby” or a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” (And it’s white or light brown – not black and hairy!)
4. You can order a pre-formed scoby or make one yourself.
5. Kombucha is really good for you with its probiotic, anti-microbial, and detoxifying properties.

Here’s a photo of the mushroom floating on top of the fermenting Kombucha:

https://i1.wp.com/www.thekombuchadiet.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/kombucha-300x225.jpg?resize=300%2C225

So yesterday, I finished gathering my supplies, and started the Kombucha making process at home. Since I did not order a mushroom to add to my tea solution, I needed to grow my own. This just means that I added a bottle of already made Kombucha to my tea. Over the course of a couple of weeks, one should form on the top of my tea, and I will be able to use it in future batches. The mushroom or scoby is also referred to as the “mother” since every time you use it to make a new brew, it has a “baby.” This can be passed on to your Kombucha making friends (of which I’m sure you have MANY), or kept and added along with its mother to a new batch. They can also be frozen or stored in the refrigerator, which causes them to go dormant, but will revitalize again at room temperature.

So basically, you bring a gallon of water to an almost-boil. Add one cup of….yes, white sugar (can be organic, of course), and 4-6 black and green tea bags. Organic tea is good to use here, too, as conventional teas sometimes contain chemicals that will kill the needed bacterias in the solution. Let the tea steep about 15 minutes, remove tea bags and let sit until the tea is cooled to room temperature – too much heat will also kill those organisms. After it cools, pour into a glass gallon container, add one bottle of pre-made kombucha tea, cover with cloth and secure with a rubberband or tie of some sort. This will need to sit undisturbed, in a fairly warm place for up to 2 weeks. One demonstration I watched had the tea sitting on a heating pad for that duration. The ideal temperature for the process is between 70 and 80 degrees. I placed mine in the cabinet above our refrigerator which always stays warm with the heat given off by the frig. You can tell the tea is ready by its semi-sweet taste, vinegar smell, and effervescence. Bottling it and/or keeping it in the frig for a few days with increase the effervescence.

Another thing that is really important to remember is to sterilize all equipment you use in making the brew – saucepan, spoon, glass container, your own hands, etc. I washed all mine in very hot soapy water, and then rinsed in boiling water, and dried the outsides with a clean dishcloth. If mold happens to form anywhere in the solution, the entire batch needs to be thrown away.

I’ll try and keep you posted on the progress….

One of the most healthful acids produced in this process is glucoronic acid. This is also produced by our own livers as a detoxifying agent in our bodies. It is extremely helpful to have extra amounts of glucoronic acid to combat the many toxins we eat and inhale each day. Kombucha also contains lactic acid and acetic acid which are both responsible for reducing pH and eliminating pathogens in the body. And these are only a few of its amazing properties. I read several accounts of cancer patients using it with success, and the maker of the store bought brand began bottling it because of his mother’s reversal of cancer while drinking it.

It’s good stuff, y’all! Makes my crunchy Texas heart happy and my New England body feeling good!

Stayed tuned for the final result….

In Training

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
I Corinthians 9:24-25
Some of you know that Robert and I have been training to run in a half-marathon in October. I don’t know if I ever would have aspired to such an event. I was pretty content with the occasional 5K and 10K. But when Robert joined me in the whole “running thing” this winter, he brought along his competitive spirit. At first I had trouble just running alongside him – he was throwing off my breathing, my usual pace, and my time alone! And then, adding insult to injury, he starts reading Runners World magazine, looking into training schedules, and searching the internet for every local race he can find! The final straw was when he made an appointment to meet with our friend Patrick who just happens to have “Personal Trainer” on his resume’ and was more than eager to create a personalized and “Patrick-ized” training schedule for the two of us to get ready for the October race.

And we’ve been following it – for the most part. Patrick has us doing a lot of “track work” i.e. sprinting 400’s, 800’s, and 1600’s on the track. Robert has been very faithful to do these workouts, but not me. I have done a few, but they are not my favorite because (a.) I do not like running fast (b.) I do not like running in circles, and (c.) It hurts – especially my hips (and my lungs, and….) Our “long runs” are usually on Sundays, and we have now worked our way up to 11 miles. A half-marathon is 13.2 miles, so we are at least fairly confident that we can finish the thing!

I’ve discovered that there are quite a lot of metaphors in the running world – especially the running-with-your-husband world. It’s not always easy to run alongside of someone – especially when you are used to doing it alone and your own way. But it is a good exercise! Look at me. I am now able to run 11 miles and will more than likely complete a half-marathon next month. I am not sure I would have come to this place on my own. He makes me better. He challenges me to good things and to personal growth and I am thankful. And the “freedom” I felt I was giving up really never left. It was all perception, mentality. I can still be alone with my thoughts and breathe at my own pace while running alongside my husband, but I also have the great option of chatting with him about those thoughts or learning from his running styles and strategies…like picking up the pace on hills to conquer them more quickly. Ugh!

And the spiritual metaphors are there in abundance as well. I have never been driven to trust in the Lord more than in this past year. It has been a marathon in a lot of ways, but at a very slow pace. I just finished working through Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself Bible study which surveys the book of Galations and then highlights each of the fruit of the Spirit. (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control) For so many years I seemed to be able to muster much of this fruit in my own strength by an act of my will (or maybe just an “act”)- which I know wouldn’t really be totally possible without the grace of Christ, but still. I was blessed/cursed with an amazingly strong will….shocking, I know. Anyway, that “will” has GREATLY decreased in the last year. Things I used to be able to gear myself up for, I can’t anymore. They require a total dependence on the Holy Spirit even for the act of my will by faith.

So, increasing our “mileage” each week makes me think of the marathon of life. Beth Moore suggests that self-control is the vehicle for ALL of the rest of the fruit. That was quite a revelation to me at the time, but I agree. When I press on for that extra mile He comes through with the strength and breath I need to finish. When I press on into situations that I want to run from these days, He meets me with love, joy, etc. and then I KNOW it is Him.

We are pretty sure we will not “win” the race in October, but I’m learning to be completely satisfied with the imperishable prize which I know for sure is mine already.