Monthly Archives: October 2011

My first attempt at home made salsa

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Okay, awesome haul at the farmers market this morning. I almost didn’t go because I had to take both kids by myself but I am so very glad that I did now! Every week once I arrive at the market I always visit our friends Thomas and Lindy  first. They have some of the most amazing produce available (plus goat cheese that is out of this world) and I know how committed they are to sustainable and organic agriculture. This week they brought in all of their tomatoes and peppers to try to save them from the first frost. This meant a lot of green tomatoes (and I love a fried green tomato) and a gorgeous array of sweet and jalapeno peppers for me! I bought as many as I could carry while pushing the jogging stroller… it was a lot.

                     Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil (which you can barely see, but it was a lot).  $15 from Puzzle Peace Farm.

So, I came home and thought, what’s a girl to do with all of this food? Oh yes, the answer is (almost always) make salsa!  We eat a TON of salsa around these parts. Matt likes to take it to work with veggie flax-seed chips from trader joes and more often that not, my lunch choice is a taco salad. I have been wanting to try it for a while now, but wasn’t sure if it would be easy or not. I also never found a recipe that I liked all the ingredients in, so I did what I usually do – read a few recipes, got the feel of it and made my own.

I used our food processor for every step of this, so when I say chop, I mean put it in the processor and pulse it until you like the consistency.

First I put 6 smallish cloves of garlic and one small onion in and chopped it pretty small. I removed that into a waiting bowl.

Next I added 2 red tomatoes and chopped them to almost a liquid. I removed those and added to the bowl.

Next I seeded 1 large jalapeno pepper and 3 sweet peppers. I left those slightly chunky and then added them to the bowl.

Next I added two very firm green tomatoes and left those pretty chunky, too. Once those were in the bowl I stirred everything together and squeezed a bit of lime juice in (to taste.) I added 2 dashes of cumin and I was done! 5 minutes worth of work for 36 oz of fresh, organic salsa. I don’t even want to think about how cheap it was but it was definitely less than $1 total cost. And it’s 100% local, organic food. That’s a deal!

How easy is that?! It’s a little spicy for me (I’m a mild salsa type of girl) but for those of you who like spicy you wouldn’t think that this is. What I love about “cooking” with fresh ingredients in that you really can’t go wrong. If the garlic taste is overwhelming to you, then add more of everything else. If it’s too spicy you can add a little sugar to balance it, too whatever add whatever. There is no going wrong with an easy recipe like this.

Enjoy friends!

On the day you were born

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Jack,

The story of your birth actually begins 11 months before it happened. Your dad and I, we really really wanted a baby. It took us a long time to get pregnant and when we finally did Daddy was so excited that he literally ran to the church to tell our friend Amie. We were in shock and so very happy. About a week later we miscarried, which is a word that adults use to make the death of a child sound easier. We mourned. A lot. I didn’t know if we could ever have another child. My mind couldn’t even begin to imagine you yet, son. We had a lot of healing to do and, fortunately, we were able to turn to God and receive that healing.

When we found out that we were pregnant with you just two months later we were terrified and happy and nervous and confused. I was afraid to acknowledge that you were a real somebody growing in there. It didn’t take me long to love you, though, you have always been special and loveable. People told me when I was pregnant that they already had a sense of who you would be. Adventurous and loving – I just couldn’t wait to meet you.

While you were still growing your Dad and I decided to give birth to you at home. I was scared but I knew that I knew that I knew that this was the right way for you to be born. I have never researched, studied or retained so much information in my life. It was very fun to be pregnant with you. I got VERY LARGE and this made people want to touch me and talk to me all the time. You have my personality and love of people, so you know that I enjoyed this. The people who work at our Target made bets on how big you would be. (They all underguessed.) Friends made bets on how late you would be. (They all underguessed, too.) People prayed for you and for your safe delivery into the world.

You were due on October 1st of 2009, but that day came and went without much hope for your arrival. I knew how late you would be. I tried to reassure the people who loved you and me that it was okay that you were “late.” Some people believed me that it was okay, and some people panicked. I hope that by the time you can read this I will be known for my patience, but let me tell you son, as of this moment I am sorely lacking in that area. I changed the voicemail on my cell phone to say “Hi, this is Meghan. Jack is not here yet. If you want to leave me a message about Jack, please hang up instead. I promise you will know when he comes. Thanks, bye!” I couldn’t handle the pressure anymore.

When I got to be 14 days overdue your Aunt Jordan came to stay with us. She really wanted to be there when I gave birth to you and she lived over 2 hours away. She is a doula which is a fancy word for someone who takes care of everything and knows everything about babies. She pulled out all of her doula tricks to try to get me to go into labor. We tried acupuncture (ouch!), acupressure (nice), visualization (boring), spicy foods (Ay-yi-yi!), natural herbs (nothing), red raspberry tea (nice, but it needed sugar), evening primrose oil (messy and gross), and many more things. NOTHING was working. Finally, at 17 days overdue I got a little desperate and I took castor oil. It didn’t have much effect on me because I accidentally took a pretty small dose. Disappointed, I realized that you were never going to be born and that I was going to be pregnant for the rest of my life.

At 18 days overdue I took a long nap. I woke up and we went to dinner at a mexican restaurant where I decided to spare myself the heartburn of spicy foods and just order what I like – a bean and cheese burrito on rice. We came home at 8:30. At 9pm I was preparing to try castor oil again, except this time I was going for broke and taking a whole bunch. I poured it into a thick glass of juice and said a quick prayer out loud: “God, if I don’t have to take this stuff to get Jack out then please let me know.” I lifted the glass and then set it back down – hard – BAM! The first contraction hit me and I had to double over. That’s God for you, son. He answers prayers. I told Daddy to go to bed incase this was false labor (He had to wake up at 4 am for work) and then Aunt Jordan and I started to time the contractions. The were 9-10 minutes apart and lasting almost a minute.

I started to worry that the midwife or Jordan or Daddy would get hungry while I labored with you so I decided to make some banana bread and chilli. While they were cooking I tried to crochet (I’m really bad at it) and I watched this super cheesy movie called Blades of Glory. By the time the banana bread was done I knew this was for real labor. I called Daddy’s boss to let her know that this was showtime and then crawled into bed next to Daddy to see if I could rest at all before it was too late. That made the contractions even harder, though, and after 10 minutes I was up and pacing. I asked Jordan to call our midwife around 4 am and we also woke Daddy up around then. I started getting irritated and edgy. Daddy’s alarm went off and I said a bad word. Twice. I was quick to apologize though, and as I am sure you know by now, your father is very gracious.

Your Grammy had a 30 hour labor with Uncle Jimmy and I was expecting to labor that long with you. After 10 hours, at about 7 am, I apologized to midwife and let her know how wrong I was about home birth. I told her I needed and epidural because I was too tired to keep doing this for another 20 hours. Do you know what everyone did when I said that? They laughed, Jack! Can you imagine? Apparently they did not think that I would be in labor for another 20 hours. Our midwife checked and said that I was 9 centimeters and 100% effaced. Within minutes I felt I needed to push. This took a while. You were a pretty big guy and if I had been rushed during this process I could have gotten pretty hurt. We took our time. It was team work and it was awesome. (I did not think it was awesome at the time, though.)

During this time, I made a couple of jokes, surprising even myself. It felt good to make these people who loved us and were so focused laugh. After 2.5 hours of pushing you were in my arms, buddy. I swore that you were tiny even as I heard your Aunt Jordan saying “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I have never in my life seen a baby that big! He’s huge!” You were prefect. Covered in dark hair and very content to be in my arms. You weighed 11 lbs and 6 ounces. You were 23 and 1/2 inches long. I couldn’t believe that you were here. Your Dad sobbed and said “Meghan, he’s here. He’s so perfect. Look what you’ve done, Meghan, you’ve done so well.” My heart swelled at his praise and your perfection. You were born on October 20, 2009 – 19 days overdue and worth every single agonizing moment.

Son, the moment I met you I knew that you were different and that you were special. You’re my guy and I love you. Happy birthday.

Love,

Mommy

Jack Fenway Murray

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Jack Fenway Murray

Okay Jack, it’s almost here – your big day, buddy. You are going to be two years old tomorrow! I wish that I could tell you all the things that I have in my heart, but instead I will write them down and hope that one day these words reflect the type of mother you found me to be. I just love you, pal. You are sunshine to my soul. There are so many things about you that delight me, son. Here are a few:

The way that your pretty blue eyes light up when you see me. How you are always looking for an adventure. How interesting you make my life. You love to have fun. You love finding new words and seeing where they fit in a sentence. You talk all the time and you always have. You love to run so much that I can convince you to go anywhere with me if I promise that you can run while we are there. You love art and making art projects. You can eat eggs like no other… it’s gross and awesome at the same time. You love getting dirty, just like I always hoped my little boy would. You love to cuddle, but you’d rather do it while laying in the grass of our front yard in between hitting some baseball around. You love our dog Stanley to distraction and think that throwing food from your plate to the ground (all though forbidden) is  a kindness worth punishment. Your fake cry is the worst! The most sappy grandmother could see through it, but you are so ridiculously cute that it always makes us laugh. You love your sister and call her “Charley /Sister /Baby /Charbaby” interchangeably. Your hugs are very… enthusiastic. You love school and you love telling me who you played with while there. I rarely see you at home without some kind of hat, fireman/police officer/ explorer/ construction worker, you cheerfully run around the house and do whatever work is asked of that profession. You are smart. You are adventurous just like we knew your would be. You love your family.

Jack Fenway Murray, you have forever changed my life. I will never be the same for knowing your sweet spirit. And I love you.

-Mommy

 

California Pizza Kitchen ain’t got nothing on me

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I went to California Pizza Kitchen with my friend Pam and I was blown away by their roasted vegetable salad. So good! I added salmon to mine and it had artichoke and asparagus and eggplant (my favorites). It was served warm with a light Dijon dressing… seriously, wow. After I got home, though, I realized something: I could make this. So tonight that’s just what I did, only I changed things up just a little bit and used my fresh fare from the farmers market to make it a seasonally roasted vegetable salad.

First I chopped eggplant, zucchini, squash, kale, onion and broccoli into bite size pieces and covered it in EVOO, freshly minced garlic, ground pepper and salt (just a pinch of each.) I baked it at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring every 10-15.

While that was roasting I cut up as many different salad greens as I had and mixed them together and set it aside.

Then I mixed together 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, anda little salt and pepper for the dressing.

I poured enough of the dressing over my salmon to lightly cover it and then broiled it for 5-10 minutes on low.

Add all of the ingredients together and you have a banging salad.

Enjoy!

Tell me sweet little lies

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  • It’s Sunday.
  • It’s Sunday and I’ve just come back from church.
  • It’s Sunday and I’ve just come back from church where I heard a sermon.
  • It’s Sunday and I’ve just come back from church where I have heard a sermon directed at me.
  • It’s Sunday and I’ve just come back from church where I have heard a sermon directed at me and I didn’t like it.

This week I heard truths that have penetrated my soul from every angle. In my small group this past week we shared a sacred time of confession and forgiveness. We opened ourselves up to the counsel of our peers. I did not like my counsel, because it was the truth and the truth annoys me when I’m not walking in it. This Sunday I heard a sermon that I would have raved about, if it wasn’t filled with such truth that it penetrated my holy facade. I didn’t like it. I know I need it. It was like water to a part of my soul that I did not know had withered, but I still didn’t like it.

When I hear the truth I know that it requires action, and the actions required from me are going to be difficult. They are going to stretch me in uncomfortable places. I like being comfortable. I like doing what I am good at and calling that being holy. But this business of doing things that I am not good at or naturally inclined toward? How can I call that holy? It’s not easy, that’s for sure. Is God speaking to you about areas where you need stretching, growing, maturing? Are you being lightly tapped by Insistent (and annoying) Truth? I guess there’s only one thing to do… throw up our hands, call “Uncle!” and surrender.

I mixed Santa and God up again

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I mixed Santa and God up again

This week in my Good and Beautiful God study one of the things we were asked to do was conjure up and image of what God looks like when we sin. Do you know what I thought of? God with a list. A list with all of my many and varied “yucks”. And with that one image I realized that I had done it again, mixed God up with Santa. The bible says that God is love, and even if you’ve never read a bible but you have attended a wedding then you have heard 1 Corinthians 13 4:8. Those verses describe what love is and what love isn’t. If God is love (which He is) then these verses describe who God is. God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails. (Ever.)

Also this week at my beautiful church, my pastor  talked about confession and how it leads to true community. It has been heavy on my heart this week as I have prepared myself for this sacred event. Last night the two ideas intermingled and I realized that the sins that I have to confess today are no less deadly than the ones that I had to confess when I was wild. My sins today are more “understandable” and therefore less likely to be looked at as things that separate me from God and my community, but they do. Am I using the word sin too much? Is it causing you to not be able to understand what my heart is? Let’s use the word separator instead. That’s what sin is, after all, something that separates me from you and God.  When I lose my temper because Jack is wild all day and Charlotte is teething and needy and won’t nap – it still takes up room in my heart that belongs to my community and to my God. Sure, you understand, and I’m glad that you do. Being a parent is hard. But please take these separates in your life seriously. I am striving to take mine that way.

I used to be in the habit of re-confessing old sins. The ones that are more “glamorous”, you know that ones from the old days that we brush off for fun when we get to be “good”? The wild drinking, the drugs, the sex, the stealing… whatever it is for you, you know what I mean. Confessing these old sins over and over keeps in time with my image of God with a list. I understood and believed that he forgave me, but I was putting a human definition of forgiveness on God. The kind that I have. The one where if you hurt me, I give you another chance but I remember the way that you hurt me and I try to prevent you from getting too close to me again so that you can’t have access to the raw and vulnerable part of me. This is not how God forgives. He never removed you from His presence, your separated yourself. As soon as we ask to be restored to His presence, He gladly exclaims “yes!” He’s giddy over you. He’s in love with you. He wants to be around you. There is no list. There is only full and beautiful fellowship available to you and me at all times.

Is it good to confess? Yes. Absolutely. And necessary. But once you have confessed and asked for forgiveness it is done. Never to be brought before you again. And unlike with our chubby friend Santa, there is no list. There never was and there never will be.

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” -Psalm 103:12

Gabe and Phoenix or Kids Say the Darndest Things

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My niece and nephew Gabe and Phoenix are two of the smartest, funniest and sweetest kids I have ever known. They have long dominated a large portion of my heart. They spent the night last night and then we went treasure hunting at the Baxter yard sale this morning. Here are some of the quotes I collected from this weekend:

  • Gabe “Public school is illegal”
  • Me “No. What? No it isn’t.”
  • Gabe “yes it is! It’s really illegal!”
  • Me “No, Gabe, if public school was illegal that would mean you could go to jail for attending. It’s not a crime to go to public school.”
  • Gabe “Yeah, like robbing a bank. That’s illegal, too.”
  • Me “No, only robbing a bank is illegal. Again, public school is fine.”
  • Matt “Gabe, I went to public school. And unlike some of my classmates, I never robbed a bank.”
  • Phoenix “Gabe, public school isn’t illegal but it’s illegal to read your Bible in public school. If I went to public school I would sneak and read my Bible. I don’t care if it’s illegal.”
  • Me “Or you could just read it at home.”
  • Phoenix “Yeah, but there you don’t have to sneak it.”

***

  • Phoenix starts listing body parts that are private “Under your arms, down here, your booty- oh yeah! And the NUMBER 1 private place that no one should ever touch – your eye! That is so private”
  • Gabe “Yeah, and the number 2 place – your wiener.”

***

While we are waiting for our pizza Gabe tells me he’s really thirsty. Phoenix chimes in that she, too, is soooooo thirsty. I go and get them a drink to share from the take out counter and bring it back to the table.

  • Phoenix “Um, Aunt Meghan, you really should have gotten us two drinks”
  • Me “Just share. Our pizza will be ready in 5 minutes and I’m not wild about you have a sweet tea in the first place.”
  • Phoenix, with a sad little sigh “Oh man, with one drink we are just going to fight”

***

  •     Gabe “This one kid at after care punched me in the wiener once.”
  • Me “Oh my gosh! Why would he do that?!”
  • Gabe “He went to public school.”