Retreat Menu Madness

I’ve been excitedly preparing for the upcoming “Peace, Love & Paper Crafts” retreat, from the spiritual theme to the craft projects to the menu. This last part has not been easy. Because I’m a foodie, you see. A true lover of fine foods. Even my mother- and sister-in-law noticed that right away and have since given me cookbooks on most gift-giving occasions to date. (Thank you!!) There are so many pretty pictures in these cookbooks that I will often just curl up on the couch with one and drool slash plan when I’m going to make each lovely recipe I find. Because that’s my other obsession: planning.

I especially realized these things last week, when a colleague asked me what I do for fun. I am sad to say that I paused, panicked. I didn’t know. My first thought was, “Well, I’m married. ‘Nuf said.” (I mean this in the best way. Honey Dude brings so much joy to my life; it doesn’t matter what we do). But in the next second, I thought: Eat. I like to eat. Followed by: Plan. Yes, as in checklists and coordination. Of anything really. I could plan the week’s menu, plan a party, or plan a trip. It’s all the same: Fun. Isn’t that horrendous? I used to like exercising and getting outside. [Which is why I made immediate plans with a friend to go on a big hike this weekend. I must enjoy fall before the snow comes!]

So back to the retreat menu. I haven’t gotten it all figured out. But I have some ideas. The first is inspired by the Aussie brunch, which I luckily experienced most days during my visit this past summer. I fell in love with this meal; just loved it!

Amazing Aussie staple at hipster brunch spots in Melbourne

Amazing Aussie staple at hipster brunch spots in Melbourne

I mean LOVED it. Amy and I both got one. (Isn’t she adorable?)

My adorable friend from Melbourne ("mel-bun")

My adorable friend from Melbourne (“mel-bun”)

So this recipe involves five elements:

  • Corn, pea, feta fritter (or something similar)
  • Smoked salmon lox
  • Greens
  • Smashed avocado
  • Dill creme fraiche

It seems pretty easy to replicate. But I accidentally picked up a plain smoked salmon instead of lox. Oops. I’m sure it’s just as good… right??! Oh gosh, please don’t make me return to Costco. And I’ll have to try to make those fritters this week to test ‘em out. I love tests. So does Honey Dude.

Along the breakie route, I also made these amazing pastries recently, recipe taken from a new cookbook gifted to me by my sister-in-law, natch. These mini berry galettes were such a pain to make that I actually screamed: I hate baking! But then I changed my mind when I tasted them. Best pastry of my life. No joke.

Buy this book. It's good. And adorable.

Buy this book. It’s good. And adorable.

Pastry perfect: flaky and well balanced flavors

Pastry perfect: flaky and well balanced flavors

Then there is the egg frittata and sweet potato hash, my standby brunch combo, served with biscuits, of course. But all of this just covers breakfast. There are still two dinners and one lunch to plan. Plus all the snacking between meals. And the welcome appetizers and mock-tails. And dessert. Oh mercy, the dessert. Too many options there! I have to excuse myself now… there is planning to be done here, folks.

If you have any suggestions on gourmet, minimal fuss dinners to feed a small flock, please comment! xo

Scholarships are coming in!

God is so good. Within this last week, two people have contacted me to sponsor a gal to come on the Women’s Faith Retreat in late October. This is so exciting! Because many people in my region cannot afford to go on a retreat like this. Yet many need it.

I’m convinced that retreats are healing and holistic. Gather a group of Godly women and there is bound to be fun and laughter. There is bound to be good food and hugs to help the tears. Because there is bound to be pain of the heart there, too.

Just because we are Christians does not mean we have it all together. No, oh no. It just means that we recognize our need for Christ. We know who we should put our hope in. But if you’re anything like me, the “should” doesn’t always lead to action. I start to put my hope in me, in what I can do to make a situation better. When I start to shift that power back into God’s hands, when I actually surrender it, I am repeatedly amazed by what comes next. Peace. Wisdom. Direction. I allow God to put the pieces into place, instead of haphazardly trying to duct tape it all together in my limited understanding. After all, He has a big picture that we don’t understand. Why do we even try to figure it out and control it??

Sometimes you just need to get away, like Jesus did when he routinely went up into the mountains to pray. Why did he escape? Probably because there is a better vantage point from afar. There is a change in perspective. Instead of looking inwardly with resentment and anxiety, we begin to look outwardly at the people in our lives who need love, too. And we begin to see that God has it all in His capable, trusting hands.

“Peace, Love & Paper Crafts” retreat is about refreshing our spirit in the Lord. It’s about renewing our heart to love and surrendering our ugly stuff for lasting peace. It also incorporates some fancy card projects for us to take home, plus plenty of pampering, rest and renewal. I have a lovely log home rented with beautiful log beds for as many as 12 women. The fun begins with Happy Hour on Friday, October 24th at 4 PM and doesn’t end until Sunday, October 26th at 10:30 AM. If you know anyone who would like to go, please tell them about it! And consider paying for them as a gift.

Scholarships still welcome. God bless you!

“Peace, Love & Paper Crafts” Faith Retreat for Women

Well it’s been a long time coming, but here it is: my first “open enrollment” women’s retreat in West Glacier, Montana. The vision was born long ago and developed further in the five years I spent working with YD Adventures, where I led teens and college kids on overnight adventures fixed with risky, adrenaline-pumping activities and a focus on Jesus. The results were always the same: massive amounts of fun and laughter, incredible relationships formed in the blink of an eye, plus a new and powerful understanding of scripture and how it applied to one’s life. 

During many of these adventures, it was the women who cried. It was the women who left transformed. They were just there to chaperon the kids. But the Lord spoke to their hearts. He called to them, like the woman at the well. He said, Come, my Beloved. Thirst no more. 

And so it is with great humility that I offer my first women’s retreat in beautiful Montana. It is my first. But it won’t be my last. It’s not a business; it’s just a service of love. I charge only what it costs to run the retreat and any overflow goes into scholarships for inviting women who cannot afford the luxury of going on a retreat. If you would like to sponsor a woman, please contact me (beckyblueeyes@ymail.com) soon so I can start inviting! This retreat is $130 per person. 

“Peace, Love, and Paper Crafts” Faith Retreat for Women

What: A girl’s gathering filled with all the things we love: paper crafts and pampering, savory meals you don’t have to cook, light yoga, and morning devotionals to reset our heart on the Lord. Come with a friend or come alone and make new ones!

Where: A beautiful log home rental in West Glacier, Montana

When: Friday, October 24th (4 pm) to Sunday, October 26th (10:30 am)

Why: To refresh our spirits in the Lord and have a little fun while we’re at it!

Cost: $130 per person (includes 2 nights lodging, meals, yoga, pampering & gift)

What to bring: Not much! Just overnight clothes and toiletries, your yoga mat (if you have one), and your favorite pair of scissors (supplies are provided for a few stamp projects but feel free to bring your own scrapbooking/card projects to work on, too)

Limited spots available! Email Becky for more information or to reserve your spot today!

A cozy space to call home

One of several bedrooms… a cozy space to call home!

Lots of room for lounging, yoga, and crafting, of course!

Lots of room for lounging, yoga, and crafting, of course!

May Health Goals Revisited

I love it when health goals go viral. It is so encouraging to know that you are part of a flock, collectively beating your wings in one direction. So thanks to Valerie at Atlanta Mom of Three, I took on a few health goals for May. Simply because she did. And I like putting lofty goals in front of me. (For instance: tonight I asked Honey Dude how many hiking miles we should log this summer. He said 20. I said 300.)

In a like manner, after one of my besties saw my list, she too took on the challenge and created a list of her own. As it turns out, her successes this week (lots of cardio) were my failures. But who’s counting? This isn’t a competition. It’s a partnership. A team.

And this team is all about accountability. So here’s the report on my week:

1. Spend time with Jesus. Every. Day.

Score: Needs work. I found peace on numerous occasions when I popped open my Bible this week, but I’d like to dedicate more concentrated time to worship and prayer. I’m adding a clarifier: Daily scripture and prayer plus a 20-minute devotional three times per week.

2. Drink water. Lots of water.

Score: Poor. When I work at the restaurant, I drink a ton of water. Other times: not so much. I need to actually start tracking like Valerie (read her post), but I need a bunch of clean hair-ties first! Let’s make “lots” = 4 pints per day.

3. Substitute tea for coffee at least twice per week.

Score: Promising. Instead of heading straight for the french press, I did start off with tea several mornings this week. Sadly, I often switched to coffee later in the morning. Oops!

4. Limit sweets. No more than one treat per day, girl!

Score: Good. I love this “rule”! It helps me say “no” to sweets if I know I had something wonderful earlier in the day… or it helps me say “no” early in the day if I know I’m having a treat later. It’s so brilliant. This way, every day has a little sunshine, and I don’t feel deprived!

5. Take my multi-vitamin and prescribed herbals.

Score: Fail. I don’t think I took one multi-vitamin all week. I just hate taking down those horse pills! And the prescribed herbals come tomorrow. So hopefully I get on that stat.

6. Walk at least twice per week. Hopefully more, but I need to be reasonable here.

Score: Good. I like walking, so this isn’t a chore in the least. Daily would be nice, but I prefer a realistic goal here, so I’ll stick with two days per week.

7. Hike with Honey Dude once per week. At least!

Score: Fail. Our schedules were uber crispy this past week. We hardly even saw each other, let alone had time for a hike. We’ll get it, though. I’m sure of it.

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Even though the snow is deep, spring hiking is lovely (especially with Honey Dude there to capture moments like this!)

8. Light yoga near daily. Nothing too crazy.

Score: Good. This is a trend I’d love to carry for the rest of my life! It just takes morning motivation, but if I can wait a half hour before prepping my caffeine fix, it is a great way to wake-up. And it leaves me feeling fit all day (even though I am not!).

9. Run or do 30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times per week. This is the hard one.

Score: Fail. Yeah, I knew this would happen. It is a hard one. I still want to start running (if it ever stops snowing here), so I’ll reduce it down to one run per week, simply because I neeeeed to start somewhere.

10. Make wise food choices at work, where we all eat dinner together before the rush.

Score: Moderate. I have been extremely cautious of what I consume at work. But it isn’t the healthiest food overall (we’re talking Mexican here). I’ll keep at it.

I hope you’re progressing along in your own goals, friends. It always helps me to know my goals, and share them. So feel free to share! xo

May Health & Fitness Challenge

I needed this. Structure, goals, a glimpse into the life of the self-controlled. The first two are my token traits. I strive for structure and, given a half hour of free time, will often grab a pen and paper to rewrite (again) my week’s schedule.

It’s sick, I know.

But the self-control thing: not a fan. I really only eat fruits and veggies because I love them. I exercise because it feels SO GOOD. I enjoy these things. Don’t for one second think I have an ounce of self-control.

It’s pretty obvious if you spot me at a party. I’m the one loading my plate for seconds, piling the buttery biscuits and chocolate eclairs on my plate, wondering why the hostess always puts out such small plates.


My May Health & Fitness Challenge 

  1. Spend time with Jesus. Every. Day.
  2. Drink water. Lots of water.
  3. Substitute tea for coffee at least twice per week.
  4. Limit sweets. No more than one treat per day, girl!
  5. Take my multi-vitamin and prescribed herbals.
  6. Walk at least twice per week. Hopefully more, but I need to be reasonable here.
  7. Hike with Honey Dude once per week. At least!
  8. Light yoga near daily. Nothing too crazy.
  9. Run or 30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times per week. This is the hard one.
  10. Make wise food choices at work, where we all eat dinner together before the rush.

That is one long list. Too long? Maybe. But this is the ideal. I’ll keep you posted and be honest. Heck, I need the accountability if I’m going to do this whole “self-control” thing. It helps that I’ve been somewhat vague in my challenge list. What’s “a lot of water” anyways??

P.S. Thank you, Atlanta Mom of Three, for the inspiration, motivation, and accountability.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

I’m not the biggest fan of carrot cake. But when I saw these adorable creations, I willfully took up the challenge. And with that little step, I fell in love. Small and petite, yet packed with flavor, these little love bites will forever be in my heart. Make them for a birthday party or luncheon, or gift them to the ladies at Mah Jongg, like I did. 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves (or ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temp 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups carrots, grated

For filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees (high altitude areas: 375-degrees)*
  2. Mix all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  3. In a second bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (4 minutes)
  4. Add eggs to butter mixture; stir in vanilla.
  5. Combine the two bowls and beat until combined (don’t over-mix!)
  6. Fold in carrot shreds.
  7. Chill for one hour.
  8. Line cookie sheet with parchment and drop batter in small, half-spoonfuls.
  9. Bake for 10-11 minutes.
  10. Let sit on warm cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring onto a rack to cool completely. 
  11. Beat frosting, using cream cheese warmed to room temperature.
  12. Once cookies are cooled, make little sandwiches and stack onto a pretty plate or cake stand (these beauties need a pedestal, after all!). 
  13. Enjoy immediately (within the day)… they weren’t nearly as good the next day. I’d probably freeze half next time. 

 

Like where we live, at almost 5,000 ft above sea level!

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration

 

Do you have a movie, a book, or a tale that inspires you? It never fails; every time I sit down to watch Julie and Julia, my heart settles into a puddle. I am inspired to create, to bake and blog. And to eat, with a side of wine in an oversized glass goblet.

True, it is not yet 2pm, but I am happy to say that I did, in fact, settle down mid-movie to a glass of red Zin, some smoked salmon and a few small wedges of Asiago cheese. The perfect late lunch.

Besides this culinary crusade, I am also inspired to write.

One year ago, I embarked on an exciting feat: A month-long detoxing cleanse. I wrote about it here, including recipes and a fair discussion on the challenges of preparing three square meals a day without even a trace of gluten or grains, dairy, corn, potatoes, red meat, pork, and most nuts… not to mention sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

I couldn’t have done it without the daily pressure of my blog. Like Julie, I felt a sense of responsibility to my readers… even if my readers only included my ever-supportive mother and a delightfully dear hubby. Like Julie’s supportive husband in the movie, my own Honey Dude would ask: Do you have to write every day? Will anyone care if you don’t?

Maybe not. But I cared. It was a goal that only I could tend to. Do you have a goal like this? Something only you can choose to conquer? Like not having a glass of wine whenever you feel like it? Or telling your employees how much you appreciate them? Tell me about it! I’d love to hear what inspires you to be great. Or just to be normal, with joy.

Thanks for stopping by! xoxo