Friday, October 29, 2010

Woe is me

This is me today. All day. And every day after today until these stupid lessons are done.

Anyone feel like writing an essay about party policies and voter participation? I would be forever in your debt.

At least I have an unlimited supply of lattes. Seriously, that little machine was the best Christmas present ever. Thanks Robert and Timo :)

Speaking of Christmas, my playlist today is Christmas music. I couldn't help myself, its only two months away! And it finally got below 60 degrees here in Dallas, for a few short hours this morning.

Where was I? Oh, right... lessons, woe is me, and all that jazz...

Back to it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ethiopian food and old friends

We met up with Stephen Whitson (classmate from Rift Valley Academy in Kenya) and his parents at an Ethiopian restaurant here in Dallas tonight. I don't know what it is about RVA people, but the connection is instant even if you haven't seen each other for years. Our lives may be completely different now, but those friendships forged at RVA... they are tied with knots of deep understanding.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

it's good food, people

This is for all you unbelievers :) Vegan and virtually fat-free food can be really good. I know, it surprised me too.

Ethiopian Berbere stew (lentil stew). It has an amazing deep flavor, with more than 12 different spices in it.
 [Recipe here]*
We ate it over brown rice.

Brocolli, green bean, and mushroom stir-fry... with marinated and baked tofu.
 [Recipe for tofu here]
I used low-sodium soy sauce, some orange juice, plenty of chopped ginger and garlic, and a tiny dash of sesame oil in the stir-fry. Good stuff.

Plum & peach cobbler... deeeeeeelicious. And the best thing about it? No unhealthy processed fats, oils, or dairy. It sure doesn't taste like it's virtually fat-free though. The crust has all kinds of yummy things in it - agave nectar, soy yogurt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla...
 [Recipe here]

Thomas tentatively took a little bite at first. Ten minutes later, the cobbler looked like this:

Nom nom nom.

My resident skeptic [Thomas] liked all of the above foods. The tofu was the only thing he wasn't sure about, just because of the texture. And he looooooooved that cobbler.

*Disclaimer - I didn't follow the recipes that I linked exactly... they just give you an idea. In case you care. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

a few of my favorite things

It's all rainy and thunder-stormy here at the moment, and whenever I hear thunder I think of the Sound of Music and Julie Andrews singing "My Favorite Things". So, while I'm in the mood, I thought I'd share a few of my recent favorite things :)

1. Eat to Live 
I read this book called "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman a few weeks ago, and it changed my whole view on eating. Basically, Dr. Fuhrman proves that if you eat the right things, you can reverse disease, reduce high blood pressure, lose unwanted weight, prevent heart disease, cancer, and things like arthritis and osteoporosis, and improve your overall health without relying on medications or fad-dieting. I guess this isn't a revolutionary idea, but reading through the book really convinced me to be careful what I put into my body. I used to think that I ate pretty healthily, but when I read the book I realized that I really don't.
So I've turned over a new leaf, and I'm embarking on a whole new way of cooking & eating. One thing that surprised me was the fact that animal products from things like meat and dairy are not the best way to get nutrients. Vegetables, beans, and legumes have more protein and nutrients than meat, and in a much better form for our bodies to digest and use. Things like broccoli have far more calcium than milk or cheese, and far less fat. Meat and dairy are also more likely to have things like growth hormones and processing chemicals in them.
When you cut out meat and dairy products you end up with a vegan, mostly fat-free (apart from essential un-processed fats from things like nuts and avocado) diet... so that has been my new challenge. Originally I was like "oh this is going to be terrible and tasteless"... but there are surprisingly lots of very yummy recipes out there. I just have to get used to some new ingredients... soy milk, nutritional yeast, flax seeds etc.

Here's one the first meals I made: asparagus and chickpea casserole with a crispy grated potato topping. It was yummy. I get most of my ideas from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen - Sinlessly Delicious blog, which follows all the Eat to Live guidelines.

Thomas still thinks I've gone a little crazy, but that's just because he hasn't read the book yet :). And he has liked all the food I've cooked so far. Don't worry, hubby, I'll still cook meat once in a while :) I'm not against eating meat & dairy, I just know now that it's not the healthiest way to get nutrients.

I'll be blogging about all the delicious new things I'm going to make, get excited!

* cough cough * getting off my long-winded soapbox now...

2. My new toy
We FINALLY replaced our blender. The one we used to have must have been from the 1970's, not kidding. Whenever I used it, it smelled like burning rubber. It kicked the bucket sometime earlier this year and I've been begging for a new one ever since.

Here's the shiny new one

Yay! I can make smoothies again!
Frozen raspberry and soy milk smoothie... yummy.

3. Africa necklace... and Mercy House.

Isn't it beautiful?

I bought it from The Mercy House, a new ministry that is building a maternity house in Kenya for young pregnant mothers who have nowhere to go, and would otherwise likely get an unsafe abortion. The necklace was hand-made by The Vintage Pearl (a family business that makes beautiful jewelry), who donated 50 of them to the Mercy House to sell in order to raise funds.

4. Krispy Kreme donuts
So... uhhhhh... ummmm... *ahem* about that whole vegan fat-free thing... I was grocery shopping at Central Market last night and there happens to be Krispy Kreme riiiiiiight next door, and they had this big flashing sign that said "Fresh hot donuts now!" 
Who can resist something like that, I mean, really?
So I bought a dozen. Because it was Friday. And I'm not vegan. I'm just mostly vegan. (That's probably like vegan heresy or something). And really, you gotta enjoy the good things in life once in a while, even if they shave off a month or two, right?

5. Thomas Andrew Congdon
And last but certainly not least, my favorite thing (ok, person) in the whole wide world, my wonderful, hard-working, loving, handsome husband :)

Well hey there, good lookin' :)

And I'll end with a little picture collage of our married life so far:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This is Texas

I was going to shorten the title of this post into an acronym (you know, like T.I.A. for "This Is Africa"), but then I realized that might not be such a good idea, with this particular letter combination.

But anyways, I took this picture right in front of our apartment of a Texan police officer patrolling The Village on his horse. Cowboy hat, belt buckle, boots and all. I hear the clippety-clop of a horse and its police officer going by multiple times a day. I was trying to be discreet, so it's not the best picture in the world. But I just think it's funny and completely stereotypical.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Family & a wedding

We went to Lubbock this past weekend for Thomas's cousin Sarah's wedding. Sarah is the oldest of 8 kids, so there were lots of Congdons around!
I didn't do very well with picture-taking. Well, I took plenty of pictures, but when I loaded them onto the computer I could see that they were all blurry. I tried to pick out some of the better ones. The only time I didn't take pictures was during the wedding ceremony, so you'll just have to take my word that it was beautiful. The reception was held out in the country at a farmhouse, with lots of country music, cowboy boots and dancing.

The dancing pavilion

 Sunset behind the buffet area.

The cake cutting (also, sadly, the best picture I managed to get of the beautiful bride Sarah and her groom Jonathan. Silly camera.)

Pretty fall decorations on the tables.

Us, hiding at our table and avoiding the dancing pavilion like the plague.
We really need to learn how to dance.

I think these two pictures of Thomas and Ben are funny, albeit completely washed out.

 Instead of confetti or bubbles, the bride and groom walked out between two lines of people with sparklers... clever idea for an evening wedding!

Ben and Bekah dancing

We got back to our hotel after midnight.

These two little munchkins (and Lydia, not pictured) ended up sleeping on the fold-out sofa bed in our hotel room in their tuxes. Poor things were exhausted, and the rest of the family was still busy cleaning up the reception when we left with the younger kids at midnight!

We had a great weekend. It was so nice to get out of Dallas, and it's always a joy to be with family. 

Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday night sweetness

We just got back from a whirlwind weekend trip to Lubbock for a Congdon cousin's wedding. It was so fun to see everyone, and the wedding was beautiful. Now that we're home we have the pre-Monday blues, which definately warrants the yummy mochas pictured above. We're sitting here in our living room sipping our mochas, catching up on our favorite tv shows, and enjoying the last lingering moments of the weekend.

More about the weekend to come tomorrow (with oodles of pictures).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Texas State Fair

Last weekend Thomas and I went to the Texas State Fair. I don't really know how to describe it to you... other than it was HUGE. There was so much going on, and what I thought would be a 2-hour visit ended up being 7 hours... there was way too much deep fried food to limit to 2 hours!

We started out with the famous Fletcher's corny dog

Then we went to the enormous auto-show, and I got to sit in my [dream] car

The Nissan Murano. Ain't it purdy?

We watched the Marine marching band, and were surprised by a very loud cannon blast. My ears are still ringing.

And here are the obligatory bad pictures of us eating unhealthy fair food:

We watched a really cool bird show. They had huge birds soaring over the audience and landing on people's arms. Right in the middle one of the "volunteers" fell into the on-stage pond because he was surprised by a chicken running out on stage. You can sort of see everyone down on the stage scrambling to help him in the picture. It was really funny and the whole audience gasped... but then later on in the show they told us that the whole thing was staged. Not so funny. It was kind of like being given a big piece of cake and then it being taken away again before you could eat it.

I didn't take anymore pictures because my phone's battery died... but we saw also a big parade, and a fancy light show with music and fountains and dancing lights. And we ate lots more unhealthy yummy food.


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