Finish This | Week 42

I’ve been silently following Nicole from Three 31 Blog for a while now, and love reading her “Finish This:” link-up. Each week, Nicole, and three other ladies answer question prompts on their blogs, and encourage others to link up as well! I think it’s such a great link-up, and a wonderful way to get to know other bloggers. 🙂

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This week, I decided to give it a try:

1. It took me a long time to realize: 

It took me a long time to realize that I am becoming my mother. From her crazy hand motions and facial expressions, to the way she answers the phone, I am her.

And you know what? I’m okay with that.

Because she is the most loving, faithful, and God-fearing woman I know. While she’s not perfect, she knows how to pray, and how to seek God with all that she has.

2. I surround myself with: 

Good/interesting food.

My most favorite moments with Caleb revolve around food.

My favorite date was when he took me to China Town & we shared more about each other over pickled jellyfish head & squab (not the greatest meal, but definitely the most memorable). Our one year anniversary was celebrated with Peking Duck, and we grew together as we traveled to South Korea & ate Korean BBQ and kimchi.

Sunday afternoons are spent making soup (we both really love soup), and many a night has been spent eating a loaf of French Bread with brie & prosciutto, and of course, drinking Blood Orange San Pellegrino.

During our dating days, we worked together to win Swagbucks, and won enough to buy a $40 Maggiano’s Gift Card. We relished in our free meal, enjoying every delicious bite of mussels in that amazing white sauce, and took home a tiramisu to share over a travel documentary.

Food really has a way of bringing comfort & connection.

I won’t bore you with more reasons why I love food, haha but I’ll just wrap this up by telling you to go read Nicole’s blog & the others that linked up today!

Happy Wednesday! 🙂

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butternut squash pudding & a peony project dinner

i am kelly

A few weeks ago, my beautiful friend Natalie (from A Tiny Traveler) invited me and a few other girls to a Peony Project Dinner!  

When Natalie asked if anyone could contribute to the dinner, I offered to make a side dish. But as the day came closer, I still had no idea what I was going to make.

After an extensive Google search, I eventually stumbled upon a recipe on Martha Stewart’s website for Butternut Squash Pudding. (It just so happened that I had a butternut squash in my fridge. Naturally, I had to try it.)

I will preface the rest of this post by saying that it turned out really well. I’ve learned to judge the success of my cooking on the number of bowls that Caleb has, and I’m happy to say that he had two.

However, this dish was very time consuming & I used a lot of eggs.

I always seem to forget to read all the directions (like the time I made a custard & forgot to read the part about baking it), and had just enough time to make it before the dinner started.

Once I started, I couldn’t turn back, so my only choice was to press on & hope for the best.

Ingredients: 

(For the Squash): 

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

(For the Bechamel): 

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup Flour
  • Salt & Pepper
(For the Pudding):
  • 1 stick of butter, melted, plus more for dish
  • Italian Style Breadcrumbs, for dish
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese 
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

1. Cut the squash in half (I cut one of my halves in half), seed it, and coat it with olive oil & salt & pepper. Put the halves on a cookie sheet & bake them in the oven at 425 degrees for 45 minutes (or until tender).

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2. While the squash is cooking, prepare the Bechamel sauce.

Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bubbles start popping up around the edges.

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At the same time, in a larger saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.

Once it melts, whisk in the flour until it is mixed completely with the butter. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes more, and then whisk in the milk. Whisk the roux/milk mixture constantly for about 10 minutes until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

(I had some trouble with this because my pan was too hot, so the roux clumped up once I added the milk. I used a fork to break up the clumps as I whisked, and it eventually thickened)

Refrigerate until chilled.

3. Once your squash is done, scoop out the flesh & puree it in a food processor. (Our blender stopped working, so I used our Ninja)

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4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and make the pudding.

Butter a 9X13 baking pan, and coat with breadcrumbs.

Beat the pureed squash, melted butter, eggs, yolks, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg until smooth. Fold in the Bechamel sauce, and season with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the squash mixture into your prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Place in a larger dish and fill with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.

(I didn’t have a dish larger than 9×13, so I stacked the dish with the squash mixture on another 9X13 dish & put enough water in the bottom dish to touch the top baking dish)

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 30 minutes. (Or until the top is golden brown & the center is firm)

Let it stand before serving.

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Looking back, I would have made the Bechamel sauce & the pudding mix the day before. Maybe next time? Maybe…

The Peony Project Dinner in itself was perfect. Natalie, Jess, and Betsy did such a wonderful job decorating & getting things ready for their guests. Even though Natalie & Jess’ apartment is on the smaller side, they made it so welcoming & cozy.

Dessert was also a plus. Isn’t it always though?

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We had soup, chicken salad & croissants, and the butternut squash pudding.Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

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In this season of my life, I thrive on fellowship & friendship. Actually, I don’t think I will ever not thrive on these two things…

However, since getting married and moving off campus, I feel like I have lost a bit of connection with other girls my age This dinner made me feel like I was truly a part of something real and good again.

For more pictures, go visit Betsy’s blog! 🙂

start somewhere

I was so excited when my sweet friend Ashley approached me and asked if I would write a post for the #fireworkpeople blog tour.

Ashley is an amazing lady that has a passion for inspiring other women to follow after their dreams; no matter how big or small.

If you are a dreamer // creative // person in need of encouragement, I would definitely recommend checking out #fireworkpeople.

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The topic of personal growth is so important to me. A few months ago I wrote about the danger of comparisons, and when I thought about what I would write for the blog tour, I decided to keep the conversation going. 

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If you know me (or have read my blog), you know that I have big dreams, and I am so not afraid to talk about them.

When I talk to people about what I truly love & am most passionate about, something wells up from deep inside, and I become more of a talker than a listener – which is rare for me.

Shouldn’t we all be passionate about what we do in this life?

I want to travel the world, teach in foreign lands, and work alongside my husband to open an orphanage and school.

I want to love children that have been abandoned, and maybe even adopt one as my own.

And I want to wait about 6 more years to start a family, which in my mind is an entire feat in itself, and also the key to accomplishing everything I just listed. (Another conversation for another time)

But then I wake up, put on my purple YMCA staff polo shirt, and make yet another turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch.

My life has become a beautiful routine of waking up, working, and eating dinners on the couch. (I’m sure many of you can relate.)

Among the day to day, humdrum of life, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

And it’s easy to despise the ordinary.

Those ordinary things that trip us up and become just another part of the routine.

Ordinary things that make us feel unnoticed and unappreciated.

Things that, if we allow them, begin to stifle our passion.

 It’s easy to forget your worth and purpose when the place where you currently reside seems to be the most insignificant and small.

And it’s easy to give up before you even start, because sometimes simply thinking about reaching that goal proves to be the most difficult of tasks.

Last week, on one particularly ordinary day, I opened my Bible and read Zechariah 4:10

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” 

If I were to be completely honest, I’d have to say that my dreams are too big.

If I woke up tomorrow & tried to start a school, or open an orphanage, or adopt a baby, I would fail.

But that is the beauty of small beginnings.” 

Small beginnings prepare you for the great, and give you the time necessary to become the one person that will carry out all those world-changing ideas.

Small beginnings force you to take a step back and think about where you want to go, who you want to reach, and how you’ll go about doing it.

The anticipation for bigger and better things stokes that fire in your soul, and drives you to keep moving … even when you want to throw in the towel and settle for less.

So, dear one: don’t despise the meager, or the ordinary, or the simple.

Start somewhere

We all start somewhere. 

Your somewhere is here.

It’s now.

It’s right in front of you. 

And it’s time to embrace it.

grateful heart monday: fall break pictures & words (pt. II)

On Saturday, I wrote about my much anticipated weekend home, and a few fall traditions that Caleb and I have with my family.

This morning we had a late breakfast with my parents and then made our way back to Pennsylvania.

As I sit here in our apartment, I am so grateful for the weekend that I was able to share with my family, and that we made it back to Pennsylvania with zero car issues.

My last grateful heart linkup was all about how I couldn’t wait to see my parents, and I’m here to say that it definitely was everything I had hoped for.

  Let me share a little bit more about what made this weekend so wonderful: 

Sunday morning we went to church, and by the time we got home, my dad was awake (he works a long night shift) & was so excited to show off his new motorcycle.

This is a pretty big deal because he has been asking for a motorcycle for years, and was finally able to buy one a few months ago.

I’d like to think that I look pretty tough.
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Because our car had given us trouble on the way up, a good friend of the family said he would check it out. While we were at his house, his wife offered to take us to her mom’s garden to pick veggies. She had so many different kinds of vegetables to pick, but my absolute favorite was picking the carrots.

Look at how cute they are!photo carrots

Her mom is 91 years old, and is still able to garden! She gave me a few great gardening tips, and made it sound so easy. I hope that one day Caleb and I have a plot of land that we can use to grow vegetables, and live off the land.

*sigh* one day…

We also carved the pumpkins that we picked at the apple orchard. Kitty decided to join in on the fun.

(FYI: She’s not as great as Milo)

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I carved Milo into my pumpkin:

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And then, we had to go home.

 It’s always difficult saying goodbye to my family, but seeing the hills and the fall colors made it a little bit easier:photo going home

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Krispy Kreme also helped:

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I’m grateful for these trips because they remind me of how blessed I am to have such supportive and giving parents. They love so unconditionally, and support us even when we talk about moving half-way across the world.

I know that God is preparing my heart for the day when Caleb and I buy two one-way tickets to South Korea …. but for now, I am thankful that we live in the same time-zone, and that we are able to visit them even for short weekend visits.

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fall break 2014: pictures & words

Last night after work, Caleb and I jumped in our car and began what was supposed to be a four-hour car ride to Upstate New York.

About 2 hours in, Caleb noticed that our engine gauge had gone up to the red zone, so we stopped at the nearest gas station. 45 minutes and a $20 bottle of Antifreeze later, we were on our way … and then we hit traffic. However, Jesus was definitely watching over us the whole time, we made it safely to New York, and were welcomed by a warm dinner and even warmer hugs.

Have I mentioned my family is the best?

Today I woke up to this view, right in my parents’ backyard.morningPennsylvania is beautiful, but nothing can compare to Upstate New York in the Fall.

Fall Break Tradition #1: we left the house early to visit a few Estate Sales, and Sophie and I took an obligatory sister selfie. (Am I the only one who hates that word?)
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Fall Break #2: Mr. Chicken came next, and it was just as good as the last time we visited. I almost bought a Mr. Chicken shirt, but couldn’t justify spending $15.50 on a chicken themed t-shirt … so we bought more gravy fries, and a couple slices of pie instead.

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Fall Break Tradition #3: Apple Picking

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Fall Break Tradition #4: Seneca Lake

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The day ended with manicures with my momma, cider doughnuts, a big mug of chai, and currently, as I finish typing this post, we are waiting for our apple chips to finish cooking & are watching Family Feud (let’s be real, you love it too).

The best part?

This weekend isn’t over yet.

I hope your weekend has been as lovely as mine! 🙂

xo

-Kelly

Grateful Heart: tuesday night thoughts posted on a wednesday

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It’s been a while since I linked up with Ember Grey, but tonight as I sit on my couch, listening to the soft endearing wheezes that Milo makes when he sleeps, and the pitter pattering rain drops outside, I can’t help but admit that my heart is grateful.

Would it surprise you if I said I’m tired of school and SO ready to graduate?

Every time I check something off on my to-do list, I add five more “to-do’s.” I haven’t had time to sit down and blog, and while everyone else will be leaving for Fall Break tomorrow, I have two full days of work ahead of me before Caleb and I finally make our way to Upstate New York.

*enter sarcastic thought about how lucky I am*

*then admit that I appreciate my job & the extra hours they give me*

*but also admit that I’d rather go home when everyone else does*

Apple everything, cider doughnuts, and warm Mom hugs, here I come. 

However, how could I not be grateful when I finished all of my assignments due this week (without having to pull an all-nighter), Gilmore Girls is on Netflix, and I finally found a good enough reason to use my laminator.

I’m grateful that I have a cat to keep me company while Caleb is babysitting over-night (does anyone else hate sleeping alone as much as I do?), and for that big cup of coffee that is keeping me awake long enough to finish lesson planning.

And even though I will post these coffee-infused thoughts tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon, I am thankful that I will have a new day to be thankful for.

Even if nothing truly good happens, and I have a horrible day, and I can’t stay awake during field experience, and my small group hates the multiplication game I created (*update: they actually loved it*) …. this will not diminish the goodness of God. 

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Milo has a major crush on Lauren Graham

And I will still have a cat to come home to, and a hard-working husband, and a mom that will be waiting for me on Friday night with open arms.

I hope that you are able to find something to be grateful for today.