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Thoughts Archive

Sunday

20

November 2016

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COMMENTS

So, This Year Has Been Tough

Written by , Posted in Thoughts, Travel

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A few weeks ago we watched the Cubs win the World Series. One thing that stuck in my mind was at the end of game two they showed some of the guys from the Cubs front office and I couldn’t help but be amazed that they looked to be about my age. I look at the writing staff on some of our favorite shows. They’re my age too. Many of the speakers at this year’s Yellow Conference were my age or younger.

And I have to admit that I feel like a bit like a failure.

I’ve never been super career driven. I always wanted my job to be mom. That didn’t happen. A career didn’t happen. Am I just wasting my time?

Is this a mid(ish) life crisis?

A successful career doesn’t define who I am. For that matter, neither does whether or not I’m ever a mom.

Doesn’t… Shouldn’t… Still kinda does.

One thing that Tim and I have figured out over the years is that we want more than a high paying job. We want life… we want to be together, we want to take a vacation without getting the stink eye from the employer, we want to breathe. Life’s not supposed to be just about work. Is it?

Is it?

Can watching Fixer Upper be a career?

We’re dreaming of a farmhouse on a bazillion acres with a cow and chickens and a horse named Cowboy. Tim’s dreaming of writing a book. I want to preserve food from my huge garden and learn to make cheese. But that’s all we know.

I have a new addiction to the Land and Farm website.

We know that our identity isn’t in what we do. We don’t want to be slaves to a paycheck or what our culture says we should value. So we’re gonna keep searching, trying to figure out what this looks like for us.

Wednesday

26

October 2016

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COMMENTS

Eating on the Road – Nutella Raspberry Shake

Written by , Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Dairy-Free, Drinks, Fruit, Gluten Free, Kid-Friendly, Lunch, Quick and Easy, Thoughts, Travel, Usana, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Life on the road has been great. It’s been filled with adventure and relaxation, smooth highways and bumpy gravel roads, time with people and time alone. It’s been a joy to be on this journey. We’ve loved it all. Part of what’s been fun is getting away from the norms of our everyday life.

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Our normal routine includes a weekly menu, planned so that the grocery shopping is done efficiently and practically, so that there is something planned for all meals. We don’t eat out a lot. Eating out doesn’t agree with our budget or our healthy lifestyle choices. However, life on the road includes a lot more eating out than normal. It’s not the norm-norm, but for a while it’s a bit more so. I thought about menu planning before the trip. I could have figured out exactly what we’d eat and where. But, we wanted to have lots of freedom as we travel. Plus, we had such a short amount of time to plan that it got left off of the to-do list. So we’re doing the best we can with what we have. And it’s been great!

pizzartWhen we’re staying with people and are invited to share a meal, we gladly accept. When we’re asked out to a meal, it’s a fun treat. We’ve had delicious pizza in Boston, fabulous barbecue in Texas, and Philly Cheesesteaks in West Philadelphia.

rudysrtSince about half of our time has been spent in the car, we generally munch on a mix of healthy, homemade foods and of course snacks (with a smattering of DQ and Steak’n Shake stops).

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Before we left I prepped as much as I could. I made granola bars, sourdough bread, and scones. We bought crackers, cheese, and fruit, jerky, chips, and chocolate covered gummy bears (ok, not all that we brought was healthy). We even had a small pantry that included items like canned beans and tomatoes, tuna, olive oil, and a few of my favorite kitchen tools (we totally brought some cast irons). We borrowed a camping stove from some friends so we have options, which means freedom. Nevermind that we have yet to use it – I’m determined that we will before the end of the trip so that it’s worth it to have lugged it all this way. 😉

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Our stays with both sets of parents have been more extended stays (thanks a million moms and dads!). So we’ve had time to unpack and relax. Tim loves English muffins with ham and eggs, so he made those one morning. We’ve also baked quite a bit, using some great recipes from our friend John Park, and made one of my favorite comfort foods, Texas Stuffnutellashake1rtOne thing that we’ve enjoyed while on the road are protein shakes. They’re great for sipping while reading a good book as we listen to the wind rustle the leaves on the fall trees. They’re also a great breakfast to grab when we’re in a rush to get on the road (because let’s be honest, we almost always leave way later than we’d planned). While it’s just fine to use water and a powdered shake mix, I love to add a little more and make a meal that will really keep me full until lunchtime. My favorite shake includes banana and peanut butter. Tim’s includes Nutella. His is the recipe I’ve shared below. I’ll share mine another time.

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We’re exercising moderation, trying to make wise decisions, and showing ourselves grace. All of which has added up to a wonderful trip. Lots of great times together that we will cherish for a long long time.

Nutella Raspberry Shake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C Nutella (or your favorite vegan hazelnut spread)
  • 1/2 C raspberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 5-6 oz milk (any type)
  • 5-6 oz water
  • 2 scoops protein powder (whey, plant, or soy)
  • splash maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a container and blend with a hand blender or regular blender.

Tuesday

11

October 2016

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COMMENTS

Is Canada a Foreign Country?

Written by , Posted in Thoughts, Travel

fallcolorsrtWe left my parents’ place last Tuesday morning. We drove the long way up and around Lake Superior to get to Minnesota. It was probably the prettiest drive we’ve had so far. The leaves as we drove through Ontario and then Michigan were amazing. I love this time of year.

It was a bit weird to cross back into the states again. We realized, on this trip more than others, that Canada really is a foreign country. There are different laws, units of measure, and customs. Words are pronounced differently. They don’t use pennies, but do have loonies and toonies ($1 and $2 coins). And the health care system, I’ll just leave it at I miss the Canadian system terribly. I’ve been asked many times what the differences are between the two countries I’ve lived in. I usually say that they’re not so different really. But, this time, I saw things through a different lens.

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I haven’t lived there for fifteen years. I’ve spent most of my grownup years in the US. I’ve voted in 3 presidential elections and for only one prime minister. Many customs come back naturally. I can still fit in in Canada, but it’s a bit more of a stretch these days. I feel like a foreigner. rstreetbostonrt

I know people change as they grow up and move away from home. They discover more about themselves and who they are at their core. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more comfortable in my skin, with my quirks and imperfections, and with my values, that have become more set in stone. A lot of this happened after I moved away from home. I’m sure that’s common. We grow up, are nurtured by our parents or caregivers, then set free in the world to figure out where we fit. I wonder where Canada fits in with me. Will I always feel a bit like an outsider? Maybe… But, the Canadian part of me will always be there, even if I don’t say “eh” anymore. It was a wonderful place to grow up, boasts one of the most beautiful countrysides, and as it is home to so many that are dear to my heart, will always be one of my favorite places to visit.

Wednesday

7

September 2016

6

COMMENTS

Times Change

Written by , Posted in Thoughts

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It has been a year of changes. I’m not ready to say that they’ve all been for the better. Not yet. But, I have hope that they will someday represent a time of growth and even encouragement.

Change can be confusing. I’ve felt lost through a lot of it. I’d thought one thing for so long, only to discover that it’s not a possibility anymore. Maybe it never was. Maybe it is, but looks different than I thought it would. It changes a person. It’s changed me… Is changing me.

Food, something that I’ve loved for so long, became more of a necessity than a joy for a while. It was thrown together instead of lovingly created. I get why people eat boxed meals and fast food. I was tired at the end of the day. I wanted to eat and relax a bit before going to sleep so I could do it all over again. It brought me a greater understanding of regular folks. It was a luxury, the way I got to cook before. I had a good thing going. I won’t pretend to understand why it ended. I still harbor a bit of frustration and bitterness about that. But there have been lessons learned and maybe someday the bitter will become sweet.

That was one thing that changed.

The rest, either I don’t need to go into detail about, or I’m not ready to. At least not on here. Since it’s been like six months since I last posted, I’m confident there are two people still reading. You’re probably friends of mine and know what’s going on anyways. If you’re still here, thanks for reading. I have hopes and plans for this little corner of the interweb. It might look a little bit different than it used to. But, it will still just be tales from the life of Rachel O.

Wednesday

15

January 2014

7

COMMENTS

#TimAndRachGoToParis2013 – What We Ate

Written by , Posted in Reviews, Thoughts, Travel

Paris-WhatWeAte-2When we talked about the trip before we left, all I could think about was the food. And it didn’t disappoint (with the exception of one calzone and the pâté that I just couldn’t force myself to like). We were blessed by so much more than the food though. But, food is where we will begin.

We spent three weeks in Paris and in that time, I cooked dinner just once. I’ll admit, as much as I love to cook, it was really nice to have a break.

So we ate out a lot.

I won’t bore you with every detail of every single meal (you’re welcome). But, here are a few highlights.

We ate baguettes every day. They might be what I miss the most about Paris. Not joking. I have refused to eat “French bread” since we’ve been home. It is not the same. I was given a kitchen scale for Christmas so I can finally try to make my own baguettes. Wish me luck! They’re harder to make than I’d expected (more about that in the Cooking Classes post).

We ate a lot of butter. (We also walked about 3-5 miles a day…) Amazing, salted, European butter. The best butter is obligatory when eating a French baguette. Our first meal in Paris was at La Chope. We ordered ham sandwiches and got a baguette with butter and ham. Not what I’d expected. It was better. The sandwiches were simple and delicious. I had mine with my first glass of lunchtime wine, a rosé. We ate (trying to convince ourselves that we weren’t exhausted), watching people through the window. There was a man selling oysters in front of the café. People would walk up and get a sample. Most bought some too. It felt like everyone had a baguette in their bag. I knew we’d come to the right place (because of the baguettes, not the oysters… not my favorite).

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We ate a so many little cafés that I’ve lost track. Most were great, a few were just good, some were more touristy. Our preference was to dine at the ones where we felt a little out of place, but got along just fine. (Note: We didn’t experience any of the “French rudeness” that people talk about. I speak French, but Tim doesn’t. However, he tried. The server would come over to take our order and Tim would ask me how to say something, I’d translate it, and he’d repeat it to the server. All the while the server knew what we were both saying, but waited patiently for Tim to finish. My French was corrected and also complimented. We thought the French were incredibly kind people.) Our two favorite restaurants were like this and we ate surrounded by the locals, enjoying real French food.

Our favorite favorite favorite experience was at a little bistrot called Au Bon Coin, located at 49 rue des Cloys, Mairie du 18e, Paris, France. We had been in Paris just two days. We were finally getting over our jet lag and feeling a little more normal. We walked a few minutes from our little rented flat and decided to try it for lunch. It was crowded. We found a table at the back and sat down. We waited, sipping water, for menus that never came. I tried to translate the menu that was scrawled on the wall. But, even after taking 12 years of French (a long time ago), there was a lot missing from my vocabulary. The server came over and we ordered what the guy next to us was eating, with glasses of vin rouge (red wine). It looked like some sort of beef with potatoes and green beans. Seemed safe enough. It was the best meal (we went back 3 more times and ate the same thing). My goal for 2014 is to attempt to duplicate it. They may have other things on their menu, but I don’t care. I only want this. (Tim tried the Boeuf Bourguignon once. It was good too.) The beef was pink, pretty rare, but so tender and delicious. The potatoes were exactly as amazing as they’d looked. Crispy and so piping hot that I burned my mouth in my need to eat them all as quickly as possible. I need to have them in my life on a regular basis. (They might be the thing, food-wise, that I miss the second most about Paris.) The green beans weren’t the star, but they were good enough. I guess you need something to bring the meal back down to earth.

But, the food wasn’t the only reason we loved that meal. The man sitting next to us started talking to us. Eventually ending up at our table (we were at a table for 4 – note, don’t do this if you are only 2, and want to continue your meal just the two of you, they will seat someone beside you). The server said (in French), “Don’t worry. He’s nice.” and plopped his plate down next to Tim. So we continued our conversation, noticing that the older woman, who’d come in with her dog, was paying attention to us. She joined in on the conversation. I think we sat there for an hour with them, with me trying desperately to understand them and remember anything that sounded like French to say in response (while silently cursing my lack of motivation during the hours and hours of French classes that I’d taken in school!). Anytime anyone asks us about our favorite experience in Paris, this is what we tell them. Au Bon Coin is what we consider “our place” in Paris.

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Our second favorite restaurant was another little bistrot‚ just around the corner from home, called Le Brio, located at 216 rue Marcadet, 75018 Paris, France. We made friends here too, this time with the server. A sweet college student who took the time to explain the entire menu to us in English. We ate here a number of times and spent hours at their tables with our books, chatting, watching people, and eating a lot.

Our last, including our last evening in Paris we ate here. I tried the croque monsieur and we finished off the evening with some delicious chocolate cake and champagne. This place that we would see every night as we walked home from the metro felt like home.

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There was another meal that was simply incredible. It was at a café by the marché aux puces (flea market) that we went to. We didn’t have the opportunity to go a second time, but it was one of the best meals that we had in Paris. The café is called Café Le Paul Bert and is located at 20, Rue Paul Bert 93400 Saint Ouen, France. Our entire meal can be seen in that little cast iron pot. It’s chicken with the creamiest, most delicious rice, and the softest carrots imaginable. I need to discover their secret. I may have eaten (almost) the entire serving. You know when something is so good that you really shouldn’t stop even though you know you should? Yeah, that happened here. But, since we would almost always walk again after a meal, I don’t remember feeling overly full. Winner.

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There were a number of other noteworthy meals and experiences that took place around food.

I discovered is that I do not like pâté.

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I do, however, never tire of soupe a l’oignon (French onion soup). I can’t remember how many different places we tried it. Some places make it with dehydrated onions, some put the bread and cheese on the side, some make it with so much cheese there’s a huge plomp of it at the bottom of the bowl. Most were good, one or two were great. I think my favorite was at a café next to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore (although I’ll admit I felt a little sick after, maybe because it was so incredibly rich… but it was worth it).

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We tried many crème brûlées. They were all surprisingly different from one another. Some thick, some more of a crème anglaise, some with a super crunchy layer of brûléed sugar. You almost can’t go wrong here.

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We were told that we had to, at some point, try the nutella crèpes. We were wandering around one evening and found a street vender with this simple treat and ate it for dinner as we strolled down Rue Cler.

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We made coffee at home some mornings and drank it while eating croissants, baguettes with beurre, or pain au chocolate. But, it wasn’t nearly as good as the café‚ crèmes that we drank at the cafés. We never once ordered a regular cup of coffee. I’m not even sure if you can. If you order a café, you get a tiny cup of espresso. Who knows. C’est un mystére.

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I had two burgers in Paris. I’ll admit, I needed a burger and frites. Buuut, they were not from McDonalds. 😉 And, they were very good. In fact, I ate frites quite a few times. The Parisians sure know how to fry a potato.

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I sometimes have a hard time buying something at a restaurant that I can make at home. Since I have successfully made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon twice, I have no need to pay someone else to do it. But, that didn’t stop me. I mean, I was in Paris. What’s more Parisian than that (besides baguettes and many other things)?!

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The one place that we didn’t eat that I was really disappointed to miss out on was Les Deux Magots. I’d read about Julia Child eating there in My Life in France and really wanted to eat there too. It was closed for renovations. Sigh. Oh well, guess we will just have to go back.

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Now that I’m absolutely starving for all the foods I can’t have, I’m going to go make some popcorn for dinner.

Baguettes are on my to do list this week. It’s a must. I need some bread and butter.

Part two of our Paris adventure will continue next week.

Aurevoir.