Pixie Project

Does It Feel Different?

Before we got married I had a lot of friends tell me their experiences of the whole wedding thing (because the wedding is very different than theย marriage and I feel like in this day and age with the wedding business and pinterest we sometimes forget that). I would say that it was about 60-40 on people who told me that they felt different after tying the knot. I was surprised by the friends who said it didn’t feel any different, but yet at the same time I wondered if I would fall into that category. I mean, let’s be real — Michael and I have been together for 6.5 years, we’ve lived together for over 5 of those years. We had a honeymoon phase, we had a rocky phase, we had the “we’ve been together for a long time now” phase. Then it was the wedding phase.

The wedding phase was the planning part (which was 14 months after we got engaged) and the wedding instead. I would have liked a shorter engagement butย C’est la Vie….This was a strange time because it was all very new, it was VERY stressful, there was a lot of anticipation and just a lot of unknowns.

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The wedding day itself was very surreal and mostly a blur of chaos and a roller coaster of emotions (which also surprised me – again, we’ve been together for so long already!). Did I feel any different after we said “I Do”? Nope, not really. I guess I felt calmer and more relaxed. I could stop PLANNING everything. That was a huge relief.

Then we went on our honeymoon. It still didn’t really feel “real.” Basically it was like we were on a really nice, long vacation. A dream vacation, really. But we were so busy splashing in the ocean, laying on the beach, and exploring Maui (and eating A LOT) that I don’t think either of us really put much thought into the fact that we were now married or that anything should feel any differently.

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(He slept on the beach a lot. I read and swam.:) )

Maui was great, don’t get me wrong. But I started to get a little homesick for my fur-babies. We both missed Bella terribly! She was staying with her foster mom and having a great time, especially with her dog Kona, Bella’s BFF. Bella was on a puppy vacation!

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Now that we are home I’ve been kind of taking it easy and trying not to plan or do too much (trying to hold onto that Maui bliss as long as possible). I am starting to ruminate on what I want to do, though. Now that I don’t have to do ANY wedding planning anymore (YAY) I can get a hobby! It was astounding just how much time the wedding planning took. Between meeting vendors and just all the details, any free evening or weekend was booked with that stuff. It really does take over your whole life, even if you try to avoid it.

I’d like to get back to Bella’s training. Sadly we didn’t have tons of extra time to work on tricks and training for her. Now that we have more time I want to get back at that. I especially want to get her to the dog park at least once a week to get more socialized. She’s doing so much better than when we first got her but she still gets skittish and nervous with a lot of other dogs.

I’d like to get into gardening. Specifically I think I want to try growing succulents. I saw so many amazing succulents in Hawaii and that’s something that we CAN actually grow here in Oregon (wish I could grow some plumeria and palm trees but I guess I’ll settle for this…).

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A friend has actually started growing succulents and offered to give me some of her cuttings and I really want to try it. I hope I can make it work. I’m okay with growing vegetables but not really flowers…time will tell!

Another goal for this winter: Michael has agreed to take a dance class! I am super excited about it and will be looking for classes soon. I took a ballroom dancing class ages ago and learned all the basics! I definitely need to re-learn it. I’m more interested in learning maybe salsa dancing or something along those lines.

Yoga. I need to get back into the groove of that and I’d like check out some local studios. I take yoga at my gym and it’s not quite the same experience as doing it at a yoga studio where that’s the only thing they do. I never really get that blissful, enlightened feeling while people are dropping weights and grunting and talking loudly right outside the yoga room at the gym…

Volunteering. I miss it! I used to do it a lot. Before I met Michael, in fact, I volunteered at a cat shelter every weekend. Michael and I volunteered together at The Pixie Project and it was a lot of fun. Now that I have some free time I’m going to start up again.

After being back for a bit I went out with my cousin Anna for a beer. We saw a band at an Irish pub here in Portland and then met up with some of her friends. This was the first time it kind of felt DIFFERENT. I was talking to someone that didn’t know me or Michael and I had a moment of pause when I almost said “my boyfriend Michael” then corrected myself and said “my husband”. And it felt WEIRD. Very weird. I am not used to it yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay married folks, did you feel any different?

Thyme for Fall Food

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good. A mix of fun and low-key. On Saturday Michael and I volunteered for the Pixie Project. It’s been awhile since we’ve volunteered there because they changed the hours they needed dog walkers. ๐Ÿ™ It didn’t work with our work schedules so we stopped. And then we got Bella…but I still wanted to help out when I could. The Pixie Project was having a charity dinner and auction to raise money for the shelter so we spent about three hours Saturday helping them set up at the Left Bank Annex. It was a really cool looking space!

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We folded like 300 napkins and then helped set up all the tables–the cutlery, the plates, etc. It was so much fun and I felt really good that I could help them. It looks gorgeous when we left and I wished we could have afforded to go to the benefit!

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At least we were able to do our part. I hope they raised a lot of money for the puppies and kitties at The Pixie Project.

On Sunday I woke up to blue skies and dry air. The fall leaves were covering the grass and there was a slight wind rustling in the trees. It was warm and cozy inside the house and I was feeling lazy and craving comfort food. I put some Sarah McLachlan on the iPod and set to work making a childhood favorite: Navy Bean Soup.

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The best Navy Bean soup I’ve ever had is my aunt’s. However, she’s the type of cook that just throws things together and the end results is magic, so I didn’t have a recipe to follow. Instead, I combined two recipes I found that sounded as close to what I remember her making. Instead of posting both of those recipes, I’ll just share my adaptation.

Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup with Bacon

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 hours

Category: calories, Cravings, Crockpot, Dinner, Dogs, food, Food Memories, Food update, Low Calorie Recipes, Pixie Project, recipes, volunteering, Weekend Update

Servings: 8-10 servings

Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe and this recipe: http://www.sisboomblog.com/2013/05/slow-cooker-navy-bean-with-bacon-soup/

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of dry navy beans (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 4 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound cooked ham, diced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • Dried thyme, to taste but more is better ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Fresh rosemary springs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse and soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse the next day.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet and add bacon, cooking until lightly crispy. Save some aside for topping later, if desired. Add garlic and onions to the rest of the bacon, cook until golden and soft (about 10 minutes).
  3. Transfer onion-bacon mix to the crockpot.
  4. Add the water, chicken stock, vegetable broth, beans, and spices.
  5. Mix in the diced ham and the carrots and celery.
  6. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until beans are softened all the way through.
  7. Top with some shredded parmesan cheese and the reserved bacon.

Nutrition Facts

Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup with Bacon

Serves

Amount Per Serving
Calories 300-400 calories depending on servings
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Sugars
Protein
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

http://www.110pounds.com/?p=40842

I realized making this recipe that I need a bigger crockpot. I suppose I could have halved the recipe to make less, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a crockpot meal. I wanted enough for dinner, some lunches for the week and I’ll freeze the rest to have later when the craving for navy bean soup returns. But my crockpot was filled to the very brim. I’ve never had it that full before. I checked on it throughout the day and mixed everything around to make sure it was all cooking evenly.

I like soups with vegetables in it so I’m glad I combined the two recipes to include two vegetables I don’t eat very often: celery and carrots. I don’t know why, but it’s hard for me to eat and enjoy celery…

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I sauteed the onions, bacon and added garlic at the very end and then put it all in the crockpot on top of the veggies. The rest of the ingredients went in. Bella was helping me in the kitchen, or rather she was waiting patiently for things I might drop on the floor that she can hoover up as quickly as possible.

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After it was all shoved in the crockpot I took off for the pool. I got in a really nice swim in a mostly empty pool (score!), came home to have lunch, raked some leaves in the yard and then played ball with Bella who had the Puppy Crazies and was doing laps around the yard. Back inside, the kitchen smelled wonderful!

Towards the end of the 9 hour cook time, it was still a little too “brothy” for what I was looking for so I mixed together 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour and 2 tablespoons of water and added that to the pot. That thickened it up nicely!

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The soup was perfect. It wasn’t exactly like my aunt’s soup but it was close and it was delicious, and that’s what matters. I loved that it had the vegetables in it. As I ate it I realized that the bacon wasn’t necessary, and it actually made the dish slightly saltier than I was expecting. When I voiced this to Michael he disagreed. He loved the bacon in there. So to each it’s own. If you make this dish, the bacon isn’t necessary but it’s tasty. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I got about 11 servings out of this recipe, which makes the calories even less than it already was! I was surprised at how low calorie it was. ย I even had seconds because it was so hearty and delectable.

Michael’s mom is remodeling her kitchen and supposedly we are getting her old fridge. As soon as we make room in our garage, we’ll get it. It’s going to be great! We’ve talked about getting a big freezer since our freezer is so tiny. This will work nicely. I expect to have a lot of frozen homemade meals in there for later! I know I have three large tubs of Navy Bean soup ready to go in there!

After dinner Bella and Michael cuddled on the couch, complete with Bella snoring. It’s not very lady-like, but it’s adorable. Usually I try to work on her puppy-training homework in the evening while we chill and watch TV but I decided to give her a night off to nap.

Anyways, this recipe is a winner. If you don’t want soup for a month, half the recipe. ๐Ÿ˜‰