Tag Archives: New Year’s Resolution

Hello, 2016!

Goodbye 2015 and Hello, 2016

I love the feeling a new year brings.  It’s an opportunity for a fresh new start in whatever arena you’d like… not that you can’t make that change any time of year, but there’s a new-ness in January that only seems to be found during this month.  It’s a blank slate before Spring; an empty vessel waiting to be filled.  I want to make a tradition of taking a few minutes to write and reflect on my year in the rear view and a look at the year ahead, so here goes.

Hello 2016 | oysters and pearls

health

Last January, I made some major lifestyle changes, committed to a yoga practice and did a round of Whole30, stepped down from some major obligations and commitments, and completely changed my health and outlook on life.  I am SO thankful that I made a commitment to my health, my sanity, and myself last January, and I’m so proud of myself for sticking with it for an entire year.  I’ve even managed to continue my yoga practice well into my pregnancy (with a few modifications).  In addition to re-committing to taking care of myself physically, last January I began a SheReadsTruth Bible study and re-connected with my faith in a strong way, and for that I’m even more grateful.

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word of the year

Last year, as I reflected on 2014 and set goals and intentions for 2015 (for the first time ever), I gave myself a word of the year: GRACE.  This was a new thing for me, but this “word of the year” gave me something to meditate on, a quick, one-word mantra to pull up when times were tough, and it set the theme for each major and minor decision I made this past year.  I tend to be very hard on myself in every way.  I set my own standards really high, and when I don’t meet them, I beat myself up a lot.  And on top of all that, I tend to hold others to these same high standards.  While it makes me a productive person, it also can make me a very difficult person to be close to, I know.  Each time I held myself or others to an unreasonably high standard in 2015, I practiced giving myself and others GRACE.  The big man upstairs gives me grace every minute of every day.  The least I could do was give that to myself and to those around me!  And the best part of this word-of-the-year concept?  It worked!  I mean, obviously I’m still not perfect, and I still am too hard on myself and others, but it has helped immensely.

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When it came time to sit down and come up with a word of the year for 2016, I struggled more than last year.  Last year, the need for Grace was at the forefront of my heart and mind and the choice was easy.  This year, I’m starting the year out feeling so blessed that I really had to think about what I needed this year.  After a few days of thinking about it and setting an intention in my last yoga practice of 2015, I finally had it.

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In addition to setting my own bar too high, I also have a tendency to push through the present and set finish lines for myself.  “If I can just make it until tomorrow afternoon…”  or “If I can just make it until Christmas Eve…”  I can power through almost anything if I know there’s an end in sight.  However, living from finish line to finish line leaves you wondering where your days have gone and missing the important moments that are fleeting and are what really matter.  So this year, my word of the year is PRESENT.  I don’t want to wish away this year, this pregnancy, this baby’s first moments in this world, no matter how chaotic, how crazy, how stressful, how painful, or how uncomfortable they may be.  I want to be fully present in every little moment.  Feel every little kick, taste every bite, laugh at every joke, feel every ache and pain, enjoy every stitch, every conversation, every sloppy dog kiss, and not miss out on a single thing just because I’m wishing it away until the next milestone, which would be so very easy to do at this point in my life.  2016, I’m ready for you!  Each and every minute of you.

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maiden south

A quick note about the shop:  Although I know I’ll be slowing down soon in a lot of ways, I’m so grateful for the creative outlet and community that we have created and that has evolved with us at Maiden South.  We’ll be kicking off 2016 creatively by hosting Knit Night at One.Two.Three. (our old space next door) from 6 to 8 pm tonight.  If you knit, crochet, embroider, or do anything related to fiber art, come do it with us for a couple of hours tonight.  We do this the first Monday of every single month, so mark it on your calendars, join our Knit Nights Ravelry group, our Knit Night Facebook event, and come join other fiber-lovers for some fellowshippin’ and stitchin’ tonight at six at One.Two.Three.

Knit Nights at Maiden South | oysters and pearls

thank you

Thank you to everyone for all the tips and recommendations for our Asheville babymoon trip!  We leave in a couple of weeks and I literally could NOT be more excited.  Really, I don’t think it’s possible.  It will be the longest I’ve ever taken off of work, the longest vacation Wheat and I have ever taken together, and I cannot wait to get to the mountains to explore and relax.

Thank you, too, for following along with Oysters & Pearls for yet another year.  I’ve been sharing my thoughts, feelings, recipes, knitting, projects, and more for three years in this little corner of the world wide web.  Although the frequency of that sharing has slowed down, I am so grateful to continue to be here when I can and to have met so many wonderful people through it.  Y’all are the very best and I wish I could hug each one of your necks!

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I wish for each of you the gift of being fully present… being all in and being all there and in awe, this year.

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

(Vegan) Quinoa Pilaf

Hallelujah, the cold has gone!

I’m for realz, it has been brutally frigid the past couple days, but thank goodness it’s finally warming up a bit.  I’m all for getting to wear my rarely-used winter gear, but it was starting to get ridiculous.  It was 17 degrees on our covered porch yesterday morning!

And what’d’ya know: we forgot to turn our automatic sprinkler system off, and – just our luck – it went off in the middle of the polar vortex.  It made for some pretty ice, at least!

Cabbage in the Polar Vortex | Oysters & Pearls
The cabbage actually held up okay against it, thank goodness.  The rest of the lettuces… not so much.

The cedar tree by the bird bath in the backyard was covered in ice ornaments, too.  It’s a beauty that we don’t normally see here in Bainbridge, so at least it was a nice change in scenery!Frozen Cedar Tree, January 2014 | Oysters & Pearls

Frozen Cedar Tree in Bainbridge, Georgia during the Polar Vortex of 2014 | Oysters & Pearls

Frozen Cedar Tree and Bird Bath | Oysters & PearlsWhat’s that in the background, behind the frozen-solid bird bath?

Wallace in the SoWeGa Polar Vortex | Oysters & Pearls
Don’t worry, Wallace and Harold followed me out to snap some pictures, but we all went back inside as quickly as possible.

Moving on to the title of this post…

Today’s post perfectly and accidentally coincided with my favorite gluten-free and vegetarian gals’ birthdays!  Happiest of Birthdays to my mother-in-law, Nancy, and future sister-in-law, Sloane!

Now, despite it being their birthdays, when I think of quinoa, all that pops into my head is this Bud Light Commercial:

For the record: this quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) tastes nothing like a dirty old tree branch.  It tastes really, really good.  Wheat even ate the mushrooms.  The mushrooms!!  He hates mushrooms.  Supposedly.

Anyway, I posted a picture of my favorite quinoa dish on Instagram the other night and got lots of folks clamoring for the recipe.  Ask, and you shall receive!  I’ve been meaning to post it for a while, anyway, but Nancy and Sloane’s birthday is pretty perfect timing!

Vegan Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms | Oysters & Pearls

Way back when, I went vegetarian for a while, then vegan for a while.  More so as a cleanse and to expand my food repertoire than anything else.  And it definitely broadened my horizons!  One of the things that I’ve carried over to non-vegan life years later are quite a few recipes (including this one) from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
.  Even if you aren’t vegan, there are still some awesome, healthy, clean-eating recipes in this book that I make to this day.  Most especially, this one.

(^^ Affiliate links, btw!)

I’ve adapted this recipe over the years, and it’s really healthy, really tasty, and completely open for your own interpretation.

Quinoa Pilaf
vegan, gluten free
adapted from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
serves 4 to 6 as a side

ingredients

– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small yellow or vidalia onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1 tablespoon ground coriander
– several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1 cup quinoa (any color will do)
– 1 package baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
– 2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you’re not vegan)

instructions

In a smallish pot over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes.  Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, pepper, and salt, and sauté for another minute or so.  Add the quinoa and sauté for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms and broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat to your lowest setting, cover, and cook for 18 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Rainbow Quinoa for Quinoa Pilau | Oysters & Pearls

Quinoa is pretty awesome.  It’s like a grain, but technically it’s a seed.  It’s gluten-free, and it’s a complete protein, which means it’s a perfect balance of all 9 amino acids that are essential for human nutrition.  That’s basically unheard of in the plant world (it’s a meat thing).  It’s low calorie, high in fiber and iron, and has a texture reminiscent of bubbles, which is, personally, my favorite of its attributes.

I prefer to use rainbow quinoa, as shown in these pictures, because each color has slightly different qualities.  The white quinoa fluffs up a lot, while the black and red quinoa is crunchier and nuttier.  Plus, it’s rainbow quinoa.

Vegan Quinoa Pilau with Mushrooms adapted from Veganomicon | Oysters & Pearls

 I love to add mushrooms to this, but the original recipe called for one (drained) 15 ounce can of chickpeas.  You can really add any veggie you want – it will be good!

Delicious and Flavorful Quinoa Pilaf Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

I had gotten out of the habit of labeling any of my food into neat little categories like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.  I try to just think of it all as food!  I’m totally fine skipping out on meat for a week.  I hope that my diet is well-rounded enough that it doesn’t suffer no matter what I’m in the mood for.  However, as I mentioned earlier, my in-laws are gluten free (see this article on The Grain Brain Diet, or check out Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers
itself for an explanation <– that’s an affiliate link too!) and my future sister-in-law is a vegetarian, so recently it’s been on my mind more when I’m cooking or reading recipes lately.

Vegan Rainbow Quinoa Pilaf | Oysters & Pearls

Fortunately, this falls into the gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and delicious categories all very nicely.

Three cheers for clean, healthy eating and birthdays this new year!  :)

Until Next Time