It’s been a while since I posted about my favorite Little Golden Book but I recently had an exciting breakthrough in the kitchen and it seemed like a good time to revisit it. Learning to cook isn’t technically one of the golden book rules but it’s in keeping with the theme of trying new things. This week I attempted to make chicken and veggie stir fry and it turned out beautifully. Through a combination of this Broccoli and Chicken Stir-Fry recipe and a few helpful tips from my mom, this was a stunning success!
My last attempt at chicken stir fry was years ago during my days as a poor, starving college student. Having little cooking experience at that time, I dumped in way too much soy sauce to disastrous effect. The dish was so salty it was nearly inedible and I was never brave enough to give it another try. However, I’ve been craving the stuff ever since my mom made it during one of my Colorado visits and I was determined to get it right this time. Here are a few tips for avoiding my early mistakes and cooking up a delicious stir fry that’s bound to hit the spot.
Chop all your ingredients beforehand – Once your chicken is cooked, things will go very quickly. I used a bag of pre-chopped assorted vegetables which included broccoli, carrots and Snow Peas. To this I also added one small sweet onion, half of a red bell pepper for some color and sliced water chestnuts to give it some crunch (stir in the water chestnuts at the end).
Use LITE SOY SAUCE!!! – Trust me on this. Also, never wing it with your soy sauce measurement. Do it right. In this case, ⅔ of a cup was perfect.
Use fresh ginger – I grated a bit into my sauce mixture and also added some shredded ginger to my veggies as they cooked.
Use sesame oil – The recipe calls for vegetable oil but for the best flavor, I recommend cooking your chicken and veggies in sesame oil instead.
Don’t forget your red pepper flakes – They add a nice spice.
Steam your veggies – I cooked my chicken and veggies separately. I added a bit of water to my veggies on medium low heat for a few minutes to allow them to soften. I then added my cooked chicken back to the pot with my sauce mixture.
Serve it up on a pretty plate and you’ll have yourself a gourmet looking feast for four (or dinner for one for the whole week). Enjoy!
Everyone has a preferred local watering hole that they like to frequent on Friday nights with old college roommates or family members visiting for the weekend. From cozy meaderies to polished cocktail lounges, everybody has their own taste. In my case it is in the form of unique craft beers that come from the Goldspot Brewing Company in Arvada, Colorado. This inviting neighborhood brewery is owned and run by a true beer enthusiast and artist. It’s a place where everyone knows you and is happy to lend a hand in helping you choose the perfect beer. You’re bound to find something you’ll love with flavors like Kodiak Brown, Sea of Pears and Radiator American Lager.
An unofficial poll identified some of the top Goldspot beers although the list could go on for days.
Strawberry Imperial Brett Saison
Sudachi Lime Mexican Lager
Rum Red Hefferveisen
Every time I fly into Colorado to visit my family we always have to stop for a beer at the Goldspot. This particular pit stop is non-negotiable. I love my Colorado beer so much that we’ve even resorted to shipping it out to Indiana a few times to be enjoyed on the most special Midwestern occasions. However, I’m hunting for suitable substitutes here in Indiana and I welcome recommendations. What’s your favorite Indiana brewery? Share in the comments.
In contrast with yesterday’s frozen moment, here is one of the bits of sunshine that I’m looking forward to when warm weather does come. On soft summer nights like this one, cheery yellows light up the evening even when the Sun has gone to bed. No matter what happens in life, always remember to stop and smell the flowers.
I can’t wait for Spring to breath color back into the world and shoo away the grayscale of Midwestern winter. I can already imagine the buzz of insects and the chatter of birds echoing through tunnels of brilliant green.
However, even with all this wishful thinking, I couldn’t help snapping a picture of this frosty moment while out for a jog around the neighborhood. No dogs barked from the large decorative front windows of houses and no cars shattered the glassy silence with the sound of their engines. There’s something captivating about moments like those when everything is reduced to shimmering silvers and you feel like you’re the only one in the world.
This weekend I spent the majority of my Saturday eating up the last 100 pages of the third book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy, The Hero of Ages. The previous book concluded amid the messy aftermath of the final showdown between several warring kingdoms and left the reader with a hopeful but dark sense of foreboding for a far greater threat still to come.
In the last stage of the journey, this superior menace finally reveals itself and is every bit the challenge that we all feared. Throughout the story many beloved characters are led to question their ideals, their abilities and even their own memories in an epic struggle against a deific foe. Although this is a fantasy novel written primarily to entertain, the thoughts and doings of one character caught my attention and made me ponder some big questions of my own.
Sazed, a kindly scholar and purveyor of the lost religions of the Final Empire eventually finds himself in a crisis of faith and on a quest for universal Truth. Along the way, he asks questions that I’ve come across in my life and reached similar conclusions.
“It wasn’t the grand doctrines or the sweeping ideals that seemed to make believers out of people. It was the simple magic in the world around them.”
I strive everyday to embrace the small magic of life, although some days, this is more challenging than others. In my experience, people who are not ready to find faith tend to demand extreme and undeniable shows of divinity as proof but, as one character pointed out to Sazed, to seek a religion that requires no faith of its believers is to search for something that cannot be found. A lot of people spend their lives begging for godly signs to put them on the right path and miss all those little, seemingly insignificant moments when the world did exactly that. It is these moments that make believers as Sazed discovered even as the world was crashing down around him.
“He would believe. Not because something had been proven to him beyond his ability to deny. But because he chose to.”
You have to choose to believe. As humans we are by our very nature unable to comprehend and understand the fullness of God. Yet, people believe anyway. They know there will always be questions and that many of us are ill equipped to answer them. But it’s strange how, even at the world’s ending, those who choose to believe can still find proof of faith.
I’ve spent months brainstorming ways to improve my productivity, especially when working from home, and I think I may have finally cracked the code on how to live a happy and fulfilled life. Hobbits have the right idea with their seven daily meals, little celebrations throughout the day to encourage a job well done. Here are my ideas for embracing the Hobbit lifestyle.
Breakfast – 7am
Start the morning off on the right foot. Let in the sunshine, make the bed, get dressed and enjoy a morning coffee before greeting the new day.
Second Breakfast – 9am
By this time everyday I like to have at least two things checked off the To Do list. During the work week this might include following up with work emails or minor projects. On the weekends I prefer to start the day with a morning run and one chapter from my book.
Elevenses – 11am
This is the soup or salad meal. Enjoy something healthy and refreshing. Even on busy days it’s important to walk away from the computer, if only for 15 minutes. Working from home, I like to break up the work day by getting off the screens to accomplish one productive, non-work related task to make full use of the daylight hours. Sometimes that task is as simple as taking a quick nap. Make sure to save a few minutes everyday to do something that’s good for you.
Luncheon – 1pm
After some food and relaxation it’s important to refocus and hit it hard. This is when work is in full swing. There are meetings to attend and larger group projects to get moving on. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by social media or the Youtube rabbit hole. You can do this.
Afternoon Tea – 3pm
Finish strong! Have a designated tea time and actually drink tea (not coffee). The moment I discovered the fresh perspective that a steaming cup of spice tea can bring to even the dullest of days was a huge turning point in my home office experience. This is a highly underrated way to stay focused as the day winds down and coworkers begin to sign off for the evening. I like to follow my work day with a little exercise, whether it be an hour of yoga or a light jog around the block.
Dinner – 6pm
This is the time to celebrate a job well done. Don’t ever skimp on dinner. After all that focused productivity you deserve to treat yourself with a meal fit for a Hobbit. Make something delicious and leave plenty of time to savor it with a pint of ale.
Supper – 9pm
At this point in the evening, the devices should be closed and tucked away. This is a time for reading a book or knitting a sweater or playing the piano all while sipping a glass of your favorite port. Make sure to enjoy and get to bed by 10:30pm so that you’re bright eyed and bushy tailed to do it all over again tomorrow.
Forget casual Friday. I’ve often written of the abundant trials of working from home but today I’d like to shed light on one of the small joys that comes with the experience. You can wear whatever you want!
I’m not talking about the ripped t-shirt and baggy sweats you threw on when you rolled out of bed. True, when there’s no one around to impress, fashion prowess can occasionally go by the wayside. But it goes the other way too. You can sashay around in your fanciest dress and a pair of heels without fear of scandalized looks from your coworkers at being immensely overdressed.
This is exactly how I spent my Tuesday. My bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding arrived in the mail and I couldn’t resist trying it on during a quick lunch break. I’m thrilled to report that this flowing, chiffon, floor length, hunter green gown was the perfect fit. It hugged all the right places with room to move and had an athenian goddess quality that had me strutting around my apartment with a whole new attitude.
I ended up wearing it for the rest of the day, completely overdressed for another day at the office and feeling like a million bucks. I justified this decision with my need to practice walking in the dress. Can’t have the maid of honor tripping over her hem on the day. I will definitely be practicing more over the coming months.
Do you ever have those days or weeks when focusing on a task for more than five minutes feels nearly impossible? You still feel all the passion for everything you wish to accomplish and relish the thrill of checking things off the To Do list but somehow, it still feels like you’re moving through molasses as you begin even the simplest tasks.
On those days I close my eyes and remember the restoring, alpine air and views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where peace and clarity flood my senses. Where better to meditate and clear my head?
January is well under way. The chaos of catching up from a long Christmas vacation is winding down and life is beginning to resume its usual rhythm (albeit a slower one since COVID measures were first put in place). It’s high time I renewed a few promises to myself and started making good on them. I think my previous struggles in this area stem from a combination of poor planning, a lack of discipline and a tendency to be overly optimistic about what I can reasonably accomplish in a day. There just aren’t enough hours to do everything everyday. However, there are some things that I’m confident I can achieve this week.
Read – Whether it be to finish the Mistborn Trilogy or to start Atomic Habits, even if it’s just a few pages between now and Sunday.
Write – Before midnight. Write during daylight hours when the creative juices are still flowing and there’s sun filtering through the windows.
Knit – That striped sweater won’t finish itself. Wouldn’t it be nice to add it to the rotation of warm woolen handknits next winter?
Be tidy – Dirty dishes and a greasy stove top can not be allowed to dominate the kitchen for more than 24 hours after cooking.
Exercise – Yoga, hiking, running, it doesn’t matter. Just do something!
SLEEP!!! – So many problems would be solved with a few more hours of regularly scheduled rest. Break the college habit and get a good night’s sleep.
“Don’t let great be the enemy of good.” – Kelly Williams Brown
Everyone wants to be great at something. Being solidly middle of the pack just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Number One. Everyone has dreams of someday becoming the best at whatever it is that they do. Looking ahead, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. Greatness is rarely something that is handed to you and each little step you take today will determine your greatness tomorrow. What steps will you take today?