Uniquely~Me

A Lifestylye Blog


Permission. To take the hard way...
I've spent weeks. Months. Searching for the words to tell this part of my story. I've written so many variations and drafts with dramatic titles like: "Christian and Pregnant Before Marriage!" And I deleted them all. I want to broaden it out a bit. Because I don't want it to be all about me. There's a bigger picture here. A bigger message to share...



This post has been the cry of my heart in re-connecting with my blog again.

It originated with the non-traditional start of my family. In my own pain, confusion, guilt and disorientation what I found most healing was giving myself permission to not feel like I have to live life according to a formula.


We all have times in our lives where we want to fly. We push the boundaries of our lives and we explore our resilience and the tides of life. Sure, we know the “rules.” We know the laws of nature. But our hearts are searching. To learn. To feel. To experience. To connect.


We all need that space to explore what the world means to us. What our faith means to us. What our values mean to us. This may mean going against the grain. Asking "why?" Trying on a different hat. It is in this space that we truly understand and grow to know ourselves. At our innermost core. We take all that we've been told and all that we've learned and have been taught and we say: Let me see.


We all have a yearning for permission to fly.


To get face-to-face with our Creator and say: "Here I am. Let me see." 
Maybe for some of us it's a: "Let me try."



This isn't about abandoning our conscience. This is about expanding our horizon beyond the confines of what they say is black and white. To shatter the box. To stand in the gray and say: Let me see.


Permission to experience independence. To break from the mold of systematic thought and learn about ourselves in the freedom that comes from thinking individually- out of our own volition.


Will we give ourselves the right to get out of our comfort zone?


I followed all the rules. I did what they told me to do. As a matter of fact, following the rules became a part of my identity. A sort of self-righteousness, honestly. I followed all the rules and hit all the milestones. But 
in living life under that process, I lost a bit of who I was. Or rather, I never had the opportunity to really find myself. In my mid-twenties, there I was floating around feeling like an internally unadjusted and unseasoned teen who had never embraced the opportunity to ask "why" and push the boundaries. On the inside I was crying out for the chance to be able to step out of my tidy world. 

So I did. I finally started to step out. My journey to self-discovery began. 


And ohhhh, what a hell of a journey it has been. It created some friction. Friction in my relationships, friction in how I saw the world and my career. I even dropped everything and traveled the world solo for 30 days. In my journey to giving myself permission, I learned some of the best lessons I've ever learned in life. Some were really hard (pregnant before my wedding) and some amazingly blissful (my daughter is amazing!). And my Creator was with me the whole way through it all. Never letting go. Showering me with grace and kindness. Kinder than I was to myself at times.  


When we feel stuck in our process, no matter how mundane it feels, the time we spend in the plateau is never a waste. When it takes what feels like forever to understand our questions, the pursuit is not all for nothing. The journey is ever moving forward. 
Sometimes it's a tug-of-war with ourselves. Being misunderstood. Sometimes it means stumbling or crawling. Doing whatever it takes to find our way to a place of meaning and peace. It's okay to ask questions! And to not know the answer right away. To be in the gray. But there is hope in remembering that we're not alone as we do. As we learn, as we ask more questions, as we run, as we fall, as we get back up again only to fall once more our Creator never leaves. 

Who do you turn to?

So in all of this, it may mean trying something the hard way, taking that risk with that idea we've been sitting on, giving that person a chance, exploring a new relationship-seeing where it takes you, leaving that job, saying yes to the job, packing up and moving...

The point is that we learn
When we give ourselves permission to fly- sometimes the hard way. And it will be okay. We will come back full circle. Stronger. Wiser. Full of more life.










It's been cloudy and rainy these past few days here in Sacramento. While soups are my usual go-to meals to cook during the winter season, it's nice to have another accompaniment just as soothing and warming, but in a different shape and form. My husband and I like to enjoy a good Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich from the local shop every now and then. I've been interested in learning how to make some of our favorite takeout foods at home and this one was another hit!

What makes this Vietnamese Bahn Mi so warming and soothing are the fermented vegetables with ginger, chopped jalapeños, and fresh mint leaves. Ginger is a known stomach soother and warming herb boasting in many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Probiotics from the fermented vegetables further contribute to helping the gut digest and soothe itself after the meal and even throughout the day.

This sandwich is an all-new winner in our home and very easy to put together. We've also been experimenting with homemade miso soup, which we have been enjoying along with our Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches. See below for more details, a special garlic sriracha sauce recipe along with how to make the sandwich!









Sandwich Ingredients:
sourdough baguette 
chopped jalapeño (decision to keep seeds is optional based on preference for spice/heat)
1/4 cup farmhouse culture orange ginger carrots
1/4 cup farmhouse culture kimchi
fresh cilantro
fresh, chopped mint leaves
protein of choice (we used garlic basil seasoned chicken breast)

Garlic Sriracha Spread:
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1/2 cup mayoniase (we use organic canola oil mayo)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)


Preparation: Bake chicken and slice into thin slices for size of sandwich. Cut sourdough baguette into desired sandwich length. Prepare garlic sriracha spread by combining all ingredients and mixing well.  Adjust vinegar to salt to sriracha ratios depending on taste preference. This is the beauty of home cooking! Adjusting and personalizing flavors to match your individual palate!

Next, spread desired amount of garlic sriracha sauce on bread and begin placing carrot mixture, kimchi, cilantro, mint leaves and jalapeños. Lastly, add meat or protein of choice and the sandwich is good to go! Eat alone or pair with a nice side soup and Enjoy!

Bon Appetit!





per·sist·ence
pərˈsistəns/


noun


  1. firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.


Persistence. Relentless persistence. This is my word. I love setting my mind full of expectation and drive to commit myself and my life's effort to a theme for my year ahead. As I transitioned to a work from home mama this past year my time and lifestyle changed drastically- in the most amazing and beautiful ways. Opportunities opened up for me to be able to organize my time in ways that supported my values like spending time with my daughter, having capacity to plan and cook healthy meals for my family, time for exercise and better sleep, time to pursue personal growth all while still being able to remain in my field of education serving and walking alongside others as they grow to lead the healthy lives they too desire. 

As an introverted and highly sensitive creative, this word will challenge me to my core- but in all the best and hardest ways. It's so easy to hide under the pretense of not having time or resources or energy (especially being a new mama) under the introverted veil, but as I continue to leap into my creative space, persistence is what will be required. It is also the struggle of the artist that brings forth the fruit that reminds you that it is all worth it. 

To be in this space of creating content, pursuing collaboration and sharing vulnerable experiences will mean going beyond my fears of rejection, my expectations of time and things coming or not coming into fruition based on my timeline and completely recalibrating and eliminating any comparisons on image, appeal, aesthetics, etc. To be persistent will mean to keep producing and to keep trying- even when I don't feel like it. I felt this theme creeping into my world when I reignited this space- uniquely-me- and it began as consistency. But pressures amount, fatigue, doubt, discouragement, embarrassment and self-criticism set in and it was not necessarily consistency that I needed, but rather a relentless persistence. To believe that we all have something to offer, to remember that there is power in our story and also to remember that our souls crave an outlet for self-expression. 

So cheers to a New Year! A year of taking more risks, putting ourselves out there and going for that thing that we just can't shake and keeps us up at night wondering: "What If..." Let's do this, and even better... let's do this together. And to keep doing it- even when it gets hard, really hard.








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This time of year comes with so many fun, delicious, and long-time, passed down family recipe traditions. This time of year also comes with an increase in colds, flu, aches and pains from the changing season and cravings for comforts foods. There is nothing like a good homemade soup to help solve all of those needs!

Homemade broth is a fantastic, nutrient dense and inexpensive way to enjoy holiday leftovers in a soothing way. Many vitamins and minerals are released from the bones as they simmer in water for longer periods of time. Gelatin and protein from the bones are also released and help add to the healing properties that many of us crave as our bodies fall with sickness and crave for a warm, soothing soup.

This year for Christmas (and Thanksgiving too), I decided I was tired of buying basic chicken stock from the usual box and enlisted my mom's help to make the most delicious, flavor-bursting bone broth from scratch for our cornbread stuffing. We had so much leftover I knew the perfect use would be for a soup the next day. A few of us are battling colds this week so the soup is serving us so well as we rest up and recover. See below for more details and the recipe!



Recipe:

Broth:
2-3 large turkey drumsticks
3-4 quarts of water
1 tablespoon oregano 
1 tablespoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large chopped yellow onion
2 whole carrots
himalayan pink salt to taste

Soup Contents:
2lbs your meat of choice- chopped (we use chicken thighs or leftover turkey meat)
7 medium sized-chopped carrots
1 cups chopped mushrooms
1 bushel - washed and chopped, fresh dino kale 
1 1/2 cups wild rice
1/2 cup flour


Preparation: 

Broth- Place turkey drumsticks into large pot and add 3 quarts of water or fill pot according to amount of soup broth desired. Add chopped onions, oregano, thyme, bay leaf and 2 teaspoons of salt to start. Add more salt or increase water to taste after meat is fully cooked if staring with raw meat. Add whole carrots and bring broth to a boil. Once broth has reached boiling point, reduce to low and let simmer for 3-4 hours. After 3-4 hours taste broth and adjust seasonings: water ratio to preferred taste. Meat should be falling off the bone at this point and very easy to hand shred once liquid has completely cooled down. Remove or keep whole carrots in broth for final soup according to preference.

Soup- Add chopped carrots and flour to broth. Stir well so that all flour clumps have been dissolved. The flour helps add a nice consistency and texture to the soup. Then add wild rice and bring broth back up to a boil. Once soup has reached boiling point, reduce back down to low and let simmer so that rice can soften for about 30 minutes. Check rice after 30 minutes for softness. Then add kale and mushrooms and left simmer on low for another 20 minutes. Add any other seasonings or salt to taste if broth is still not where you want it. It's not always an exact science. We like to add a little cayenne to our soup for an extra kick. Especially when feeling congested. It really helps clear up the sinuses :) 

The longer the soup simmers, the better it tastes. Once soup has reached desired taste and temperature, serve into your favorite bowl with a side of fresh sourdough bread, french bread or some leftover stuffing and Enjoy!


Bon Appetit!










Tahoe is a place that holds a special spot in our family's hearts. Some of our best memories with people we cherish have been spent here. It's also where we enjoyed our first few married days together after our wedding on our honeymoon. 




Being able to get away and be in the company of such encouraging and laid back friends who have become like family was such a gift. Over this past year as we have transitioned out of the traditional work setting and into a more self-employed status, we have been blessed with getting to know and be supported by some amazing people. While my husband is a bit more accustomed to the entrepreneur life, I have to say for me it has been a little scary jumping into this new world. As we continue to blaze this new trail it has been so less scary knowing that we don't have to do it alone. And that we're not meant to do it alone. So whenever we get a chance to spend a weekend away with hope-filled,  families we don't hesitate to jump on board!

So Chaya enjoyed her first play in the snow on this trip and my mama heart was filled with this unexpected joy seeing her thrill over the little makeshift bunny-hill we visited with our friend's sleds. Hearing her shriek with excitement as she slid down all by herself gave me feels as if she had won the biggest sporting championship ever. Becoming a mama has provided so much happiness in all the cheesiest ways I never expected myself to be moved by and ever since I first experienced how good it feels to see her happy, I wouldn't have it any other way- cheese and all!




















Tahoe as usual was beautiful as ever- it took me a little bit to get over the shock of the cold, but man, once I pushed myself to be okay with being outside, the beauty and fresh air was too much to deny. May we all find ways to enjoy and choose times to build memories with not only our own families but with the friends dear to us who root us on and share in similar vision as we all push forward to build meaning and purpose in our lives.



Looking for a warm, hearty, and comforting dish to cozy in on after a long day of work? This healthy and dairy-free lasagna is a hit! Might I also add that it is really tricky to photograph lasagna? :0 When it's hot it's a big sloppy mess and when it's cold it's stiff and kinda grey looking. Well regardless of the aesthetics that come across in the photos, this dairy-free lasagna is a flavor punch in the mouth and the dairy-free cheeses used in this recipe will have you fooled that there is actually no animal milk in the dish. See below for more photos and the recipe details!


My dairy-free lasagna filling consists of nutritional yeast, fresh cilantro, fresh parsley, Parmela Bakery aged nut cheeses, Kite Hill almond milk ricotta, garlic and Himalayan pink salt. Absolutely fantastic!



Recipe:

1 lb grass fed ground beef
9 sheets whole wheat lasagna noodles
24oz can garlic marinara sauce
2 cups Pamela Creamery shredded mozzarella cheese
6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
4 cups fresh spinach


Preparation: Preheat oven according to lasagna noodle package instructions (usually 425 F). In a skillet, coat pan with preferred cooking oil (we use avocado oil) and brown ground beef with 3 cloves of chopped garlic. Add marinara sauce and set aside. 

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add ricotta, shredded cheese, nutritional yeast, remaining 3 cloves of chopped garlic, salt, cilantro and parsley. Mix well and add a tablespoon of almond milk or water at a time if mixture is too thick. Overall texture of filling should resemble same texture as cottage cheese. 

In a 9x13 in. pan, coat the bottom of pan with a scoop of marinara sauce and ground beef mixture. This should be a thin layer. Next place dry lasagna noodles on top of this layer. Then spread filling mixture on top of lasagna noodles. The entire filling should fit into this one layer. Then add another scoop of marinara sauce mixture on top of the filling layer. Spread evenly. Next add another layer of dry lasagna noodles. On top of this layer of lasagna noodles, add 4 cups fresh spinach. This layer will take up a lot of space, but will soften once another scoop or two of marinara sauce is added. The goal here is to portion out the marinara sauce so that enough is spread out through each layer of the dish. After marinara is placed on top of layer of spinach, add another layer of dry lasagna noodles. This makes for the last of 3 layers of lasagna noodles. On this top layer add the remaining marinara sauce and cover with foil. An age old secret with lasagna is to let the dry lasagna noodles cook in the seasonings of the sauces rather than boiling in water beforehand. This way, the noodles are ensured to be delicious and full of flavor!

Place in oven for about 30-45 min (until noodles are soft when poked with a fork). Once noodles have completely softened, remove foil and add another layer of shredded cheese and let melt on top layer uncovered for another 5-10 minutes. Once finished, let cool and Enjoy!

Bon Appetit!




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