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A Corgi Called Gimli

This is our 11 week old Corgi affectionately called Gimli. We considered adopting a dog for some time now, more so in the past couple of months. Once we found this fluffy, little pup who could only hold one ear up, we knew he was meant to be ours. He is soft and and sweet and relatively silent.

corgiWe’ve had Gimli for just about 2 weeks, and he’s slowly but surely settling in. For now he sleeps throughout the day and overnight in his crate, but when he’s up… he is UP. The Corgi breed are herding dogs. Despite their short stature, they are highly intelligent and require lots of exercise and play. He loves to cuddle, as well as chew toys, blankets, furniture, clothes, rocks, sticks, grass, bugs, food, and anything else under the sun. He is friendly with everyone he meets and other animals.

gimli

Gimli follows some basic commands and is getting used to his leash, but he also chooses when to listen to us. If we don’t keep a watchful eye, he gets into trouble and makes a mess. Look at that face! Yesterday, I had a rough morning trying to manage Gimli’s behavior while attempting to get work done. It was like he forgot everything he learned already, and was becoming a totally different dog. I ended up taking him to a trainer for a consultation that afternoon because of how frustrated I was.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I learned some tips for how to engage with him, and she affirmed that he is a good puppy and well ahead of other dogs. With a young dog, it’s important to keep his experiences positive and focus on rewarding milestones. They don’t know anything about human life, and only have their instincts to rely on. It’s going to be a process for us and him, learning to live together and enjoy each other’s company. He already has brought us so much joy and companionship and a daily reminder of our need for grace! Patience and forgiveness are virtues necessary with pets or other people.

Grilled Kebabs

One of the best things about summer is it’s grilling season! Kebabs (or kabobs) are simple and fun to make. I just love the bright colors and bold flavors with that little bit of char. Chicken, beef, and shrimp (shell-on) are great for grilled skewers. If you’re adventurous or happen to be a hunter, we also used a filet of venison for a couple of these kebabs. Initially, I was weary about eating venison and hadn’t tried more than a couple bites in the past year or so. It takes maturity to be willing to try new foods and not just say you don’t like something if you’ve never had it. I have an appreciation for all food and cuisines, and it’s important for all people and children to experience them. It teaches us about diversity and cultures different than our own. If I’m being totally honest, it tasted really good… like Mongolian beef/barbecue! Anyways, use whichever meats and veggies work for you. Grilled corn and salads could work as sides, any typical bbq dishes.kebabs.jpg

Ingredients
*note: we strive for organics + grass-fed meat/dairy

Chicken kebabs:

  • 16 oz chicken breast (+ any other meat)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 of a bell pepper
  • cherry tomatoes
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil (in a spray bottle/can)

Tzatziki (Cucumber-Dill) dipping sauce:

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 mini cucumber or 1/2 of a regular cucumber
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill
  • 1/2 a lemon or lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

When fresh dill is hard to come by, I’ve used Gourmet Garden dill paste instead and left out seasoning as it’s blended with oils, salts, and sugars already. It’s a delicious substitute!

Preparation

Turn your grill on high heat. Cube chicken breast and marinate with seasonings and olive oil. The venison was cubed and marinated in soy sauce, oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper. Arrange meat and vegetables on skewers. Coat skewers with olive oil as well as the grill. Grill while turning for 10-15 minutes until chicken and veggies are cooked through.

For the sauce:

Shred the cucumber and drain excess water. Chop fresh dill. Mix together with sour cream, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
-or-
Mix cucumber with 2 tbs of dill paste, lemon juice, and s&p.

Serve on the side of the grilled skewers.

 

 

Beef Stew

Is “9 to 5” really a thing anymore? I start work early in the morning already checking e-mails when I wake up and am laying in bed, continuing later towards the evening even after my husband gets home. I have a great amount of flexibility during the day, so that I’m thankful for the most. I’ve gone through phases of using my Crock-Pots, and I have to say it’s possibly one of the greatest inventions of all time. I can get frustrated when I work late and am scrambling to figure out a meal for dinner. I’ve heard people say they just don’t know what to do with slow cookers or the food doesn’t come out the right way. Well, here is a tried and true, simple slow cooker recipe! Beef stew is perfect for comfort food lovers or a rainy day, and this lasts a few meals for the two of us.

Ingredients
*note: we strive for organics + grass-fed meat/dairy

  • 2 lbs beef chuck
  • 1 pound small potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • fresh rosemary, parsley, and thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • Optional: 3 tbs all-purpose flour for gravy

If you do not like to cook with/the flavor of wine, use an extra cup of beef broth.

Preparation

Wash and scrub potatoes in warm water and leave whole or cut as desired. Rinse carrots and cut into chunks. Season beef with salt & pepper to taste. Add vegetables to slow cooker, and place beef on top. Add garlic and fresh herbs. Pour beef broth and red wine over everything. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve the beef in slices or chunks.

crockwine
crockpot
For the au jus gravy:

Remove beef and vegetables from the slow cooker. Strain the au jus into a saucepan. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently until it boils. Reduce to a simmer until thickened. Optional: Add 3 tablespoons of flour.

beef stew

Pair this easy meal with a side salad and a glass of wine and you’re good to go! Other beef stew recipes will suggest additional veggies or browning the meat or cutting it into pieces. My thought for this day was “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I didn’t bother peeling the carrots either. I love the rustic flavor and texture leaving them as is, and cutting uneven chunks. I tossed everything in around 11am for a 7pm dinner time. It looked like everything was done cooking before that (potatoes were soft), but the great thing about slow cooking is more time only makes it better! It was a hearty meal and everything was so tender. All in all, the most important part of using a slow cooker is timing and choosing ingredients that work with cooking on “low and slow”.

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

My husband will tell you that sauces are my specialty. We eat pasta somewhat frequently, but I aim to make sauces that vary in the protein and also include a great portion of veggies. This one features shrimp. I had a heavy pour with the broth, but it thickened up some with reheating. In the past, I’ve struggled a couple times with overcooking, but the shrimp was perfect! Hallelujah!cuttingboard

Ingredients
*note: we strive for organics + grass-fed meat/dairy

  • 16 oz angel hair pasta
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 12 oz broccoli, florets & cuts
  • 5 oz shredded carrot
  • 1 & 1/2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 8 oz chicken broth
  • Cherry tomatoes
  •  Fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese + additional for garnish
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt & pepper to taste

If you leave out the dijon, broth, and extra seasonings, you’ve got a basic alfredo sauce.

Preparation

Boil salted water in a 5 quart or larger pot. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or pan with tall sides. Cook onion until translucent. Stir in dijon mustard, garlic, broccoli, and carrots. Season with salt & pepper.

vegpot
Cook pasta as directed on package when water is boiling. Add chicken broth and heavy cream to the skillet until boiling. Add shrimp and stir a few times until pink/cooked through (should be opaque). Mix in basil and Parmesan cheese and remove from heat. Reserve half of the sauce in a bowl.shrimp
Toss pasta in skillet, and serve with as much reserved sauce on top as you wish. Garnish with cracked black pepper, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and crushed red pepper flakes.

shrimppasta

Vegetable Garden & Herbs

Most of our usable land is shaded by tall trees, so I’ve resorted to creating a garden on our wraparound deck. I have a raised planter and a garden bed. It’s been about 2 months since I planted the seedlings, almost all of them are organic Bonnie Plants in organic potting mix, not soil, to help with drainage.

herbsBasil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley, as well as mint in it’s only pot since it doesn’t do well with other herbs.

veggies

Tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. Honestly, I had no idea how much these plants would grow. In the future, I would keep them all separate or in the ground. Tomatoes are fine for this bed, but the cucumber climbs like crazy and the zucchini needs more room to spread.patiopickers

Japanese Cucumbercucumber

Sweet Million Cherry Tomatoestomatoes

goldenhourcherrytomatoesgoldenhour1Better Boy Tomatoes

betterboy

Zucchinizuc

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Apparently it rained while we were away in Michigan last weekend. My herb planter was totally flooded, so I’m a bit anxious if they’ll survive. We also had a huge storm pass through today, too. I just LOVE the scent of these tomato plants, though, maybe more than the produce itself. So in awe of how these plants are growing with little effort on my part.

Roast Chicken & Vegetables

Summer is in full swing here! I don’t know about you, but I am bbq’ed out. I love spending quality time with friends and family, I just wish the menus at these things varied more. Our calendar is booked most weekends, and this week was even shorter coming back from vacation into the mid-week holiday before heading out on another road trip.

My goal was to avoid grocery shopping at all costs, and continue clearing out our fridge… and cooler. I stock up on family/club size packages of chicken, so this recipe is using both chicken breasts and thighs since I do like a mix of white and dark meat. It’s easy to make, and only requires one pan!

This roast chicken dinner is served with leftovers from a veggie tray I made for a barbecue and added potatoes and onion. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand or prefer. I would’ve thrown in tomatoes, but my husband doesn’t like them. The things you do for love, am I right?

chix

Ingredients
*note: we strive for organics + grass-fed meat/dairy

  • 16 oz / 1 package of chicken breasts (3)
  • 16 oz / 1 package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (6)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 red potatoes or baby potatoes
  • Baby carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh garlic or powder to taste
  • Fresh (or dried) thyme and rosemary – to taste
  • Fresh lemon (juice) – to taste
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Butter to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dice vegetables into bite-size pieces if they aren’t already. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper or other herbs of choice. Arrange the veggies in a roasting pan or baking dish. Put the vegetables in the oven to start baking while you prepare the chicken.

veg

Wash and trim the chicken breasts and thighs. Rub the meat with herbs and salt and pepper. Pull the vegetables out of the oven and add a layer of green beans.

chix1

Arrange the chicken top of the vegetables. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on the chicken and sprinkle (or delicately place) fresh thyme and rosemary on top. Bake in the oven 45 mins to 1 hour or whenever the chicken is cooked through. If you like the chicken to “brown” a bit more, turn the oven up to 450 degrees.

chixdin

After all the portions of bbq meats and junk food, I had a huge craving for vegetables and a lean chicken dish. I admit I did put a pat of butter on my roast veggies ’cause it tastes so good. I’ve seen some roast chicken meals call for topping with butter before baking, but it was honestly juicy and flavorful as is. This hit the spot and required minimal effort, and even better minimal clean up!

Getting Fit

fitbit

It’s been one month since I purchased the FitBit Charge 2. Honestly, I would not have gotten it if my company didn’t create a program around fitness and offer an incentive for employees to get involved (basically paid for half the price). However, I have to admit now that I love it!

I’m actually getting up and moving throughout the day when I used to be completely fine laying around. Unfortunately, that’s not an exaggeration. Working from home is an amazing benefit. You have flexibility and get to work around a schedule that fits your life while saving time and money on commuting. That flexibility can also sometimes look like a laptop literally on your lap while sprawled out on the couch. It’s so important to take a break from sitting at your computer whether at home or at the office. The tracker will send notifications with challenges to get up and move if it’s been too long. I love doing laps around our neighborhood, soaking up the sun and fresh air. It’s been awesome to track my exercise, heart rate, food/water, sleep, etc. The FitBit syncs right to the app on your smart phone and is super easy to use… as long as you remember to wear it and keep it charged. Another cool thing is that it’ll buzz when your phone receives a call or text message. This is an added bonus for those of you who keep your phone on silent 93% of the time or in a bag like I do.

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

neighborhood

I still have to figure out all of the features, but I totally encourage you to get one (wait for a sale/discount or the next holiday). Some people say it’s not worth it, it’s a “glorified pedometer”, but I can tell you that I am absolutely more aware about my health and well-being and making a conscious effort to be active vs. when I did not own one.

Join the FitFam!