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From the Vine to the Urban Stack
  • January21st

    Here are some of my 2015 go-to recipes as we’ve been living back and forth between Charlotte & Clemson this January. Thomas has taken a job at Clemson and we are in the process of getting our Charlotte house ready to go up for rent. So I’ve needed quick, easy, and as always, healthy meals. Let’s be real, I don’ t have the brain capacity or sanity for anything complicated right now!

    Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole: If you’d like a video of Isaiah gobbling this up, text me. He was yelling for more & I simply couldn’t shovel it in fast enough! Recipe note: I boiled the chicken breast with seasonings and shredded the chicken because I used some of the chicken for chicken salad. I made this ahead of time and baked it right before we were ready to eat.

    Green Smoothie Muffins: I threw in a handful of chocolate chips and my boys loved these for breakfast! I PROMISE you can’t taste the greens. I used a blend of spinach+kale and cut the sugar in half.

    Chili with Kale:  I’m making this recipe again this week because it was such a hit around here and it was very easy. I use 93% lean ground beef. And instead of chicken broth I use beer. Because beer makes everything better.

    Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes:  These are great pancakes! Of course I threw in some chocolate chips for Adam. (Like mother, like son?)

    And I’m obsessed with this 100 Days of Real Food blog because she is so practical, easy to follow and has a holistic approach that I like. It all feels do-able and not cutting out any food groups that are near and dear to my heart. So sue me. I love gluten and sugar and dairy and legumes and I WILL EAT THEM IF I FEEL LIKE IT. I also love that she did this series called 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget to “prove” that you CAN still eat healthy on food stamps. I’ve been trying out a lot of her recipes and reading meal plans for ideas and I’ve found it practical and refreshing.

    Last but not least, here is a pic of Isaiah after a recent food extravaganza. This kid eats. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve loosely done Baby Led Weaning this go-round with introducing him to food. We’ve all loved it and honestly, I’m kind of shocked that the book was right. Now, I didn’t really do BLW with Adam, so maybe it is just that this approach fits Isaiah’s personality better, who knows. But I didn’t feed Isaiah a drop of real food until 6 months, and then I slowly started introducing him to some roasted veggies that he just chewed on. During the first month, I thought this whole thing was crazy and he would never learn to eat. One month in, it started to click. He started learning his pincher grasp and shoveling food into his mouth. Now, the kid will eat anything that we eat. He ate half of a piece of my salmon the other day! He eats more than Adam does! I know he will have his day when he becomes a picky 2 year old, but for now I’m riding the train and feeding him whatever it is that we are eating. I highly recommend buying the book but I don’t think it is necessary to buy the cookbook. Basically, feed your kid off of your own plate. Don’t feel like you have to make or buy a bunch of baby food. I’ve only made him purees once or twice, which I’m thankful for because the whole making your own baby food thing stressed me OUT with Adam. I’d end up angry when he didn’t eat the food that I’d labored over.

  • December22nd

    Thomas surprised me Saturday night and took me to a cooking class at Sur La Table –even though we agreed we weren’t giving each other Christmas presents this year! I think Jeannie helped him out on the idea and it was SO much fun. I tried to register us for a class earlier this fall but our plans fell through. It was the perfect surprise and we had a blast. Thomas is very precise when he cooks so he enjoyed asking the chef a million questions and following the rules. I mostly enjoyed cooking in a state of the art kitchen without anyone crying at my feet. All of the food we helped prepare was incredible, but the Eggnog Ice cream was a dream. I’m drooling remembering it.

    There was a 10 minute break halfway through the class so that the chef could “clean up” but it was really just so we could browse the store and buy things. It worked on me. I’ve been wanting a better bowl to toss salads in so I was thrilled to find these stainless steel mixing bowls WITH LIDS! And they nest for an added space saver which I love. So, if you need a last minute gift idea, give someone the gift of a cooking class! It was such a fun experience, with the added bonus of my new bowls.

  • December18th

    Happy Birthday, Mama!

    On this day you were born, I praise God for giving you life and bringing you into this world.  I thank Him most for the way He has poured out His Spirit into your heart and opened the eyes of your heart.  As you always said, it wasn’t Him reaching down halfway and you reaching up (like you thought at first), it was Him condescending into flesh and pulling you out of the “mud and mire”, something you couldn’t do on your own.  Thank you for always talking about your salvation and sharing with me that Jesus paid it all.

    Thank you for being honest about your struggles.  Ever since I became a Christian as a young girl, I remember feeling like we were in the fight for faith together.  You weren’t handing down doctrine or morality, you were giving me your own life and way of making it through each day on your journey Home.

    Thank you for loving your neighbor as yourself.  You have modeled to me how to serve others more than anyone I will ever know.  You took us along with you into neighborhoods not like ours, to neighbors next door and further away, and into homes of many dying, elderly people.  You taught me how to make jams, cookies, pies and soup that ministered to people.  You seemed tired on days and lacking joy, and you taught me how to stop and ask God to give you more of Himself.  You opened our home to those who didn’t have any other place to go when their marriage fell apart, when their parents wouldn’t listen or when they were lonely.  Most of your service is quiet and behind the scenes, and I thank God for your example.

    Thank you for loving your husband.  As Daddy has gone through his life and his various jobs (and hobbies!) you have supported and cared for him carefully, boldly and with a sense of humor!   Thank you for showing me that marriage is a vibrant partnership with the good of the other in mind.  As I’ve become a wife, thank you for being honest about your struggles and pointing me to Christ, the One in Whom we should place all of our hopes (not our husbands.)

    Thank you for loving me and not holding me too tightly.  You recently said that you can’t believe, as you reflect on past years, that you had the privilege and delight of raising the four of us.  Your voice revealed your real joy that it has been to mold and shape us and go through trials with us.   You pressed hard into knowing Christ and being faithful as a mother, and I see how God has been sustaining you and giving you daily joy.  Thank you for caring for me, writing me notes of encouragement, listening to me, doing countless mundane things for me, and delighting in being my mother.  Yall’s philosophy of holding us all loosely is a gift you’ve given to us.   I see more and more how hard it is to raise children with the understanding that you’re merely stewarding a gift that God has given to you for a time and then sending us out of the home.  Thank you for loving Him so much that you love us less, once again making our hearts hope in Him and not in our family or in your dreams for us.

    When I think back on my time in your home, I don’t think of perfectly organized and balanced meals, Pinterest themes and crafts,  or perfectly executed systems of obedience.  I think of being enveloped into a bustling home of ministry and into your life as you were walking with Jesus where you would cry tears of frustration, beg God to help you enjoy this day, and hear you asking for forgiveness from your husband and us kids.  Your gardening skills, ChexMix, granola, and letter writing skills might be unattainable for the rest of us, but the sum total of you is that you make much of Jesus in your words and in your heart.   And that is something we can all do, by God’s help, and I thank God for your example.

    Happy Birthday, Mama.

    We love that as you get older, you can still read the small print! (with the help of your trusty magnifying glass!)

  • December16th

    Trust His promise remains true

    Posted in: faith | Posted By:

    “We can not always feel the presence of our Father God, but we must trust that His promise remains true: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, the Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid.” 

  • December14th

    Recipes for December

    Posted in: Uncategorized | Posted By:

    We are all dashing around with Christmas plans, presents, traditions and relationship messes (aren’t we all?!)  If you’re like us and needing some recipes during this busy month, here are some of our favorites that we return to this time of year especially:

    A favorite appetizer (I promise the man in your life will love this): VULTURE DIP

    Our mother’s gingerbread dough recipe

    Favorite pancake/waffle recipe (breakfast for dinner?!)

    Hot spiced punch

    Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

    Margaret’s favorite Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe

    A few nights ago, we received a desperate text from dear Lindsey looking for Brownie in a Mug recipe, so I’m posting it here to remind us all.  Maybe tonight this treat will be the wonderful way to end a busy December day?

    We both make this salsa too often to not include.

    A super easy dessert that is awesome with Peppermint Ice Cream on top!



  • December10th

    I feel like it’s hard to find recipes for ground beef these days.  Kale is in.  Ground beef is not!  But we get a quarter of a cow butchered and keep it in our freezer, so I need ground beef recipes!

    This reminded me of ground beef casseroles I had when growing up, but this is a crock pot version and without the can of cream of mushroom soup.  I found the recipe online and adapted it a bit.  Both of my kids ate this (which is saying a lot these days!) and it made for great leftovers in a thermos for lunches.
    1-1/2 pounds ground beef
    3/4 cup chopped onion

    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
    5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
    5 medium carrots, chopped
    3 teaspoons dried basil
    2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain off any grease.  Add minced garlic to beef.  Combine flour and 1 can broth in a separate bowl  and whisk until smooth.   Pour into beef mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
    Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker.   Add the chopped potatoes, carrots, (celery, if you’d like), seasonings and remaining broth.   Cover and cook on low for 6 (or until vegetables are tender.)
    Ladle into bowls and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top!

  • December3rd

    Interesting tidbit about our new community: “Cape Cod is a premier retirement community, with nearly one-third of surveyed households reporting that all adults are ‘retired.’  Assisted living facilities are today a growing industry on the Cape.”
    Here are some signs you’ve moved to a premier retirement community:

    1)  You feel like a celebrity when you move into the neighborhood.  “Oh, you’re the young family with children!!!”

    2)   The local library calls you 5 minutes before an event for children to see if your children can join the discussion on owl feathers.  Personal invitation!

    3)  You are about to put a hold on a book at the library and realize most of them are LARGE PRINT EDITIONS.

    4)  You have to practice major patience as you go 12 mph behind an elderly person driving a small car.  Same speed.  Different drivers.  Every.  Single.  Day.

    5) You arrive at the pilates class at the  local YMCA and feel really young.   Instead of feeling awkward and rushed as you can’t find a place to put your mat 2 minutes before class starts with words like “kale, working overtime, Speaker of the House and gluten-free” being dropped, you instead sit quietly on your mat with a good 20 minutes to spare and hear “bone density, grandchildren, and dentures” as the class instructor leisurely talks with each of his students.

    6)  When your children knock on a door on Halloween, they get the warmest possible welcome along with loads of candy, hugs and a welcome inside around the table where a 90 year old lady correctly identifies SpiderMan.

  • November19th

    In the second best movie of all time, “The Return To Snowy River” (the best movie of all time: you guessed it, “The Man From Snowy River”), Jim Craig returns from his self imposed exile to get his woman and save the mountain.

    Well, The Old Man has returned from exile!   He already has a good woman, The Wife, and there are no mountains to save.

    However, one may ask oneself , “Self, I wonder what The Old Man has been up to for the past 12 months?” The Old Man has been teaching himself to play the violin/fiddle!!!!  They say that old people can stimulate the grey matter (the brain) by learning a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument. “What a great idea!” The Old Man muttered to himself after learning that a grandson across the pasture was taking ukelele lessons.

    So for the past 14 months, The Wife has shut herself in the sleeping room with the door tightly shut as the sound of screeching cats and howling dogs came from the GDEA strings of the student violin being scratched on at the far end of the big house.   In the past year, the Old Man has owned 4 violins, 7 teach yourself fiddle videos, and has suffered from a sore neck. The Wife is now hard of hearing, hates bluegrass music and suffers from lack of sleep because The Old Man gets the strong desire to play a tune (or 2 or 3) right at bedtime each night.

    A few months back, The Old Man, decided to get some human intervention and take some violin lessons. After two lessons with the high brow children’s violin teacher in the nearby college town, The Old Man decided that going at it alone was best for now. During the first lesson, The Old Man tells Mr. High Brow Violinist, “listen to this, this is what I can do”. Mr. High Brow did not seem too impressed with the first two lines of “Come Thou Fount” proceeding from The Old Man’s fiddle.  In fact, his lips were mouthing to himself, “what am I going to do with this 60 year old goofball?”   Thus, after the next lesson, The Old Man keenly picked up on Mr. High Brow’s vibes and ceased this part of his musical instruction.

    Not to be deterred, by this minor discouragement, The Old Man has pressed on and is now reading music, knows a fair amount of hymns and fiddle tunes and is part of a 4 man strings group consisting of: “The Broken Jawed Banjo Player” (he is really good), “The Man of the Cloth Mandolin Player”  (he is really good),  “The Man Who Keeps Your Lights On  Guitar Player” (works for Duke Power and is really good) and The Old Man and his fiddle.  See photo below and yes, the Old Man was missing a front tooth in this photo before a visit to the wonderful dentist.

    With constant urging from the owners of this blog, readers of this blog and The Old Man’s beautiful, creative and sometimes nagging best friend, The Wife, The Old Man hopes to keep you informed of some light-hearted views of life and the world around us.   Remember, “God is good all the time, all the time, God is good.”

  • November18th


    Posted in: home decor | Posted By:

    With this move, I envisioned a clean slate and decorating this home just like I had carefully pinned rooms on Pinterest that caught my eye.   Have you ever done that?  Looked at a magazine or an image on Pinterest then you set about making your own home look similar.  You look back at the image.  You look at your room.  You look at the image again.  Something doesn’t match.  Our own homes rarely look like the magazine, Pinterest or our friend’s.

    Or have you ever had a friend encourage you with a helpful advice about the way they grocery plan, balance work/family, entertain their children on a rainy day or wake up early to spend time reading the Bible?  I have. I’ve been grateful for that.    And then I forget my grocery list all together, feel completely overwhelmed by our family’s schedule, wonder why my kids didn’t act like her kids and I get really angry when my son says “good morning, mommy” at 6:10 a.m.

    This move has revealed a lot of “hopes” (that I think are great & needed to have) but what in the world happens in our hearts when our hopes aren’t realized?  And instead our homes and hearts look more like the “before” pictures in the magazines than the “afters”?

    All I can say is that I think it is truly a daily act of confessing to Him who knows our hearts and remembering that “as we leave behind goals of personal comfort and self-fulfillment, we reach out for Christ.”   As we leave behind the controlling grip on our every changing circumstances, we get more of Him and we will be more prepared for that Place He has gone to prepare for us (which is a way better destination than a home we saw in House Beautiful!)



  • November4th

    This move and our kids.

    Posted in: faith | Posted By:

    I will never forget the moment after our little Miss Margaret was born as Jesse said “It’s a GIRL?!”  We were both stunned.  We knew the baby would either be a girl or boy, but for some reason I thought it would be best to have a firstborn son!  My heart and mind began to spin.  I remember looking at Jesse and saying “a girl?!” I felt completely inadequate at the task ahead of raising a girl who, Lord willing, would grow to be a woman.  I imagined conversations about dresses, acne, eyeliner and flirting.  (None of which I really ever knew how to relate!)   Daunted by the task ahead, I’ve pressed on in this journey of being a girl’s mother.  I’ve made it to nearly 5 1/2 years.   I sum up all of my parental experiences thus far by sharing that my daughter is very emotionally driven (like her mother), I’ve had to read this handout many times, and I know Who made this daughter of ours, so I’m praying that I show Him to her daily.

    A lot of parenting seems daunting and very revealing of my inadequacies and false ideas I have about who God is and what He promises.  There have been countless times when my kids yell from the backseat, “where are we going?” and I say very confidently, “Somewhere really fun!  We’re on an adventure!” all the while not sure if I’m going to Trader Joe’s, a park or just to drive around the neighborhood to get out of our house for a change!  Since we’ve moved our family to from DC to New England, I’ve felt a bit like we’re saying to them “Hold on, kids!  We aren’t sure how this is going to end but we know Who is writing our story.”  This picture captured that feeling of where our family is…the beautiful scenery God has given to us, Margaret’s emphatic hands on her hips stance, David frolicking behind and their fearless father looking ahead.

    “How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home”


    We are very big Dylan fans.  But we love that his lyrics above aren’t ours today.   By the grace of God, we know He knows the direction and Christ has already secured our ultimate Home.  We have been able to talk about that Home more often.  Deaths, goodbyes, and sicknesses are terrible realities of this fallen world, but they are also amazing soil for eternal truths to be planted.

    I thought David would see boats and green grass and never look back.  I was wrong!  David asks to move back to the city at least once a day.  Here are some snippets of conversations I’ve overhead in the past 3 weeks:

    • More than a few times, as we drive down a road here they will exclaim “Are we the only people driving in this city?  There are not many cars on this road?  Are we lost?”
    • “Why are our neighbors’ houses so far away?”
    • “Can we have a party soon and invite all of our DC friends to come?”  (M went so far as to set up the furniture and set up sticks for a fire!)
    • D said “I want to go home to Washington, DC.”  M said in return:  “We can’t.  We moved here to talk about Jesus, David!!”  He did not seem satisfied.
    • D “I think it’s time for us to go back to the city.  That’s where my friends are, right?”  (and yes, I started crying at this point.)

    Some of you have asked us about our new home.  Here is the rendition that Margaret drew.  She’s walking up the verrrrry long staircase while Jesse and I read in our room.

    We are settling in.  I haven’t planted any flowers like the drawing shows above.  But birds are flying overhead and we’re hosting friends this weekend, so I better go make some chocolate chip cookies!

    Oh, and here we are trick or treating for the first time ever.

    Spiderman, Elsa, a fisherman’s wife, and The Fisherman