Monday, November 14, 2011

Easy Spinach Pasta Soup

This weekend I had dinner with my pal, Michelle, and she made this delicious soup!  I made up a batch this weekend and am enjoying it for lunch this week.  It is so easy, and it's packed with good for you stuff from tomatoes and spinach! 

Spinach Tomato Pasta Soup
(adapted from Food Network)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 (14 oz) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 tsp each - oregano, parsley, basil
9 oz pasta of your choice
10 oz package of fresh or frozen spinach

1.  Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are soft and translucent
2.  Add chicken broth and can of tomatoes (undrained) - bring to a boil.
3.  Stir in spices and pasta, cook pasta according to package directions
4.  Add spinch in last and cook until it wilts (if using fresh)
5.  You can add extra liquid as you see necessary, I used 4 cups of broth and ended up adding about 2 cups of water.

Easy! :-)


Thursday, November 10, 2011

A little celebration...

At the beginning of June, I decided to make a change towards healthier living.  Slowly, but surely, I'm on a downward trend with my weight and today I hit 20 pounds lost!  

I'll tell you the things that have helped me change my mindset - 2 books I read:  Made to Crave and Reshaping it All.  Both books take a similar approach to weight loss:  satisfy your cravings with God, not food.  In Reshaping It All, Candace Cameron Bure says:
 "The basic plan I suggest is to stop abusing yourself with food, start making healthier choices, and get serious with God.  Move more, control your portions, make wise choices, and keep God close by your side.  Stick to that plan, and you'll see some results!"  

And she's exactly right!  That was the plan I decided to go with this time.  No counting points, no counting calories, no obsessive diets or crazy exercise.  It's the basic "eat less, move more" principle with the addition of "seek God".  Eat less...move God.  

A few months of working on this during the summer, and I have the hang of it.  I started taking some Zumba classes in the Spring, and again signed up for them this Fall.  But I wanted to add something more...

Then, my school hosted a "Wellness Fair" and I met Mindy from Phases Fitness.
Mindy and her husband, Brian, own the gym.  It's not "just a gym" though.  At Phases, you sign up for appointments (Tuesdays at 4:30 and Saturdays at 9:00 for me!) and if you don't show up - they call you.  They notice.  There are typically around 5-10 people in the gym working out at a time, and they keep it small on purpose because again, they notice!  There is always a trainer available to ask questions, to say "hey that weight looks a little easy, try the heavier one!", or to help in any way.  

I never thought I'd say this but...I love going to the gym.  It's so refreshing to walk into the gym and be greeted by name, to have someone who checks on my progress and actually cares about how my workouts are going!  Plus, everyone I've worked with at Phases are funny, caring, and just plain nice people!!!

In my first 8 weeks at Phases, I'm down 1 pants size and 6 1/2 inches!  I am stronger, I have more energy, I sleep better, and I FEEL better.  I just started my "2nd Phase" of 8 weeks, so I'll update again in January with my progress!  

My goal?  
Lose 20 more pounds. Keep hitting the gym.  Keep making healthier food choices.  Keep seeking God.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just for Fun...

I've seen this picture around on Pinterest lately:

I don't run, but I do take Zumba I decided to make one of these that pertains to that.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beautiful Things

Isaiah 43:18-19 says "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (NIV)

This verse, especially the "I am doing a new thing" part, has been on my mind a lot in the past week.  It was brought up when a good friend of mine emailed me that a lie she hears from Satan is that she'll turn out just like her own mother.  I won't go into all of that story, because it's not mine to tell, but I replied to her email with this verse thinking "Oh that's perfect for her situation".  

Then, the next day I heard Gungor's song "Beautiful Things" on the radio.  Sometimes God taps you on the shoulder with something, and sometimes He smacks you.  Hearing this song was like the latter.  I realized that this verse that I thought was so perfect for someone else, was also so perfect for me.  

"All this pain.
I wonder if I'll ever find my way.
I wonder if my life could really change at all."

Lately I've been feeling sort...unsettled.  Maybe like I'm ready for something different.  I've written before about my feelings towards being a widow.  Being a widow sometimes makes me feel ugly, abandoned, and alone.  But as I listened to this beautiful song, and reread the words of Isaiah, I realized this feeling of being unsettled is God making something new and something beautiful from the dust of my past.  

"You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us."

I love that the first part of that verse in Isaiah says "Do not dwell on the past".  It's like God saying to me "Enough already! Let it go and let Me use it to make something beautiful."  I don't really know what all that involves, but I know the only way to allow God to do a mighty work like making that dust into something beautiful is to follow hard after Him and let Him do the hard work.  Let Him make the way in the wilderness.  Let Him make me NEW.

"You make me new.
You are making me new."

Linking up with:

Roasted Squash Soup

One of my favorite things about Fall and the cooler weather is that I get to cook lots of SOUP!  I love soup for a few reasons:  it tastes delicious, it's filling with less calories, it's an easy way to get in extra veggies, you cook it one day and can eat it for several!

I adapted this Roasted Squash Soup from a recipe I saw Rachael Ray make on her show recently.  She added honey and some citrus zest to hers, making it a sweeter soup, but I prefer the savory flavors.

Roasted Squash Soup
(adapted from Rachael Ray's Recipe)

1 butternut squash - peeled and chopped
1 acorn squash - peeled and chopped (you could really use any type of squash or pumpkin for these)
2 tbsp butter
1 onion - chopped
2 carrots - peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 stalks of celery - chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
32 ounces chicken stock or water
1/2-1 tsp each: parsley, oregano, tarragon, thyme (I didn't measure these exactly)
1 bay leaf

1.  Toss the squash with EVOO and salt/pepper.  Roast for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
2.  Meanwhile, melt the butter with a drizzle of EVOO in a large soup pot.
3.  Saute the vegetables (including garlic) in the pan until just softened.
4.  Add the stock and spices to the vegetable mixture.
5.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the veggies soften.
6.  Once the squash is roasted, add it to the soup pot.  Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or use an immersion blender.

Sharing with Jen at Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesdays!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Your Heart

I recently downloaded the album "Music Inspired by The Story".  The album is a compilation of songs by a bunch of popular Christian artists (Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, Peter Furler, Michael W. Smith...just to name a few!).  Each song is based on a Biblical story and/or person in the Bible.  There are songs for Moses, Joshua, Mary, Paul...a whole bunch of "famous" Bible folks. 

One of my favorite songs is called "Your Heart", sung by Chris Tomlin, and based on the story of David.  I was stuck by the line At the end of the day, I wanna hear people say that my heart looks like Your heart.  Shouldn't that be the prayer of all believers?  That each and every day we would have a heart that looks more and more like the heart of Jesus? 
It never was about the oil dripping from my head
I never did dream beyond the pastures I could tend
It never was about the praise, not about the street parade
I didn’t really need a crowd when Goliath fell down

I never meant to woo a king with simple shepherd songs
Or hide away inside a cave, safe from danger’s arms
I never meant to wear a crown, or try to bring armies down
It never was about me and who I hoped to be

At the end of the day, I wanna hear people say
My heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
When the world looks at me, let them agree
That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart

I never thought I would be much more than Jesse’s kin
Who would ever dream a king would come from Bethlehem?
Courtesy of
I know that I’ve crashed and burned, lives have been overturned
But You redeem everything, yeah, even me

At the end of the day, I want to hear people say
That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
When the world looks at me, I pray all they see
Is my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart

Five little stones, or a royal robe
Shepherd or king doesn’t mean a thing
Cause at the end of the day...

At the end of the day, I wanna hear people say
That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
Unashamed I will dance, in Your name, lift my hands
‘Til my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart


Thursday, November 3, 2011


Here's a quick/fun blog-tivity (I made that word up.  Combine "activity" and "blog".  I teach Language Arts, I'm allowed to make up words)

Found this printable (and others like it) at Oh Boy 4th Grade!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Busy living...

I have been a terrible blogger lately!!! I have lots of thoughts and ideas to blog about, but no time or energy really. It is every teacher's favorite time of year: end of the marking period. That means lots and lots of papers and grades and report cards to get done!

I have also been busy with my friends at Girlfriend Getaway! Here are a few pics of our weekend event in the Poconos!

Annette, Shari, and Michelle chatting on the porch.
3 out of my 4 girls! (Hilary is missing - she just had a baby boy!)
Showing Cindy some love!

Just doing my thing!

Bethany and Michelle leading worship!