Wednesday, December 16, 2015


We had a crazy November, and December has been pretty full too.  I have a few posts I need to do to catch up to where we are now, so I'll start with a food one!

In late November, we started our Winter/Early Spring share from Intervale Community Farm.  Every other week, we drive to ICF (just right outside Burlington) and pick up our share.  We chose this CSA (there are TONS to choose from in Vermont) for a couple of reasons:  

- I like that it's every other week.  That doesn't seem so overwhelming!

- We know one of the farmers there, so that's fun.

- Several friends use this CSA and really enjoy it.

- Most CSA's have a place where you meet them and are handed your basket for the week.  At ICF, you go to their farm and get to choose a lot of your share.  For instance, we get to choose 2 lbs of kale, spinach, or a mix.  This was probably the biggest selling point to me.  I can choose a bushel of sweet potatoes if I want that week.

So here's what we got the first week: mixed greens, brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, bibb lettuce, delicata squash, butternut squash, celeriac, turnips, sweet potatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, purple onions, and cabbage.

I did the math, and our CSA is cost us $35 every other week.  We started pickup late November and will go through until mid May (and then we will probably do the Summer/Fall CSA as well).  Even getting veggies at Trader Joe's (where they price per item and not by weight), I still think we came out ahead. 

Some of these veggies are easy to cook with.  I love squash so that's a no brainer.  But kale, turnips, and celeriac?  Much harder.  

Caveat:  I am not a food blogger and I'm not a photographer.  So these pictures are not very good.  But the food was good, so that's all that matters, right?

I LOVE brussel sprouts!  I didn't eat them last year because breastfeeding moms are supposed to stay away from cruciferous vegetables (e.g. brussel sprouts, broccoli).  I am loving eating them this year!  I roasted these and then topped them with a little lemon zest and fresh parmesan.

My favorite way thus far to use our CSA veggies is to throw them in a curry.  I mix a jar of Trader Joe's red curry simmer sauce with a can of coconut milk and throw in whatever root veggies I have on hand.  This curry has carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and spinach.  Bech used the mixed greens to make a salad with miso ginger dressing.

This is all Bech, and it was SO good.  Bech roasted the celeriac and then sliced it and cooked it a little more.  He then made a garlic dipping sauce.

A parsnip and garlic soup made by Eric, a friend who visited the week of Thanksgiving.  The picture makes it look very unappetizing.  I promise, it was good.  And a great way to use up our parsnips!

I stole this off of Eric's instagram.  Bech made curried potato fritters topped with cranberry chutney.

I use quesadillas the same way I use red curry--throw whatever veggies I want to use on it!  I have made several butternut squash quesadillas, but the other night I added roasted delicata squash.  

The other day, as Bech left for work, he told me to eat more kale.  That's a thing Vermonters say (and put on shirts and bumper stickers) so I thought he was kidding.  I laughed, and he said, "No really, we have a lot of kale; eat some."  

I've never been a kale fan, so I tried to think of creative uses.  We love homemade pizza, so I figured kale would be a good addition.  This is a pesto, mozzarella, and feta pizza with roasted kale added in.  SO good!  I have been roasting the kale and eating it plain lately.  It's really yummy that way. 

Not pictured, but other successful CSA uses: fall themed salad with roasted delicata squash, angel hair pasta with feta, bacon, and butternut squash, and lots of kale chips.

Grossest thing to date: turnip fries.  Never again...

We are loving our CSA!  If you have any recipe suggestions, send them my way.

Friday, December 4, 2015

5 on Friday, Christmas Edition

I took almost the whole month of November of from blogging.  It wasn't intentional, but we had 3 visitors and some traveling of our own plus Thanksgiving.  I want to post on all of that (and I will), but I can't pass up a good opportunity to make a list...

So 5 on Friday it is!  This week we are all about Christmas in the Evans house.  I'm going to share 5 Christmas traditions that we are starting and/or continuing this year!

O     N     E

Christmas Pajamas

I feel like this is a pretty common tradition, at least in the South, and one I grew up with.  But this is really our first year with this tradition.

In my family, we always got our pjs on Christmas Eve; it was the one present we were allowed to open.  But since I chose very specific Christmas themed pajamas for the boys this year, I thought it might be fun to give them to the boys on December 1st, along with a Christmas DVD.

Jack was SO excited.  I'm going to be real with y'all--Jack put those pj's on as soon as he got home from MOPS that day (I let him open them in the morning), wore them that afternoon and night, wore real clothes that next morning for school, and then changed right back into them at lunchtime.  I call that a success.

My boys watching "Charlie Brown Christmas."  

Please note, there are tennis shoes on Gil's feet.  That would be because he wore those pj's out in public.  No shame here.

T     W     O

Advent/Jesse Tree

Last year I bought Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.  Life with two little boys was MORE than a little crazy and the book was a little over Jack's head, so we didn't do it.

This year we are giving the book a try.  It is a Jesse Tree style family devotional.  The readings are a little flowery, but not too long.  I think Jack is enjoying it so far.  

I also got a crazy idea to buy a felt pattern pdf for Jesse on November 30th.  I am slowly working my way through these ornaments.  I want to have them all done before the whole season is over!  As of last night (the 3rd), I had made 5--not too shabby.  They won't turn out perfect, but I think it will be really fun in the years to come to use the ornaments each advent season.

Here's a picture of the first felt ornament.  The one I'm working on today is proving extra hard (Joseph and his coat of many colors)...let's hope it turns out okay!

T     H     R     E     E

Christmas Lights!

We've been driving around and looking at Christmas lights with Jack since he was one.  I absolutely adore Christmas lights, and so does Jack.  In another week or so, we will put the boys in the car in their pj's with some hot cocoa (and warmed milk for Gil) and take in the pretty lights.

This year, we added a new element by going to Church Street (a cobblestone couple of blocks in downtown Burlington) for the annual tree lighting.  

Of course, this picture is not from this year.  We have only seen a few snow flakes, and none on the ground yet!  Where is my White Christmas???

F     O     U     R


My mom always makes the yummiest food at Christmas.  I love getting in the kitchen with her and learning how to make all of the favorites.  We have already decorated sugar cookies and made homemade marshmallows, but I plan on making toffee (my mom makes the BEST toffee!  I am very nervous, though, because the one time she let me be in charge, I burned it), peppermint bark, sunshine crakers, chex mix, and cookies.

Jack loves to be in the kitchen.  Anytime I pull my mixer out, he jumps up and yells, "Let me help."  Honestly, it's more stressful than helpful at this point, but I am trying to be patient and enjoy the time with him.

F     I     V     E

Christmas Music and Movies

I know this one is pretty common, but we are soaking up all the Christmas music and movies we can!

Jack is a big fan of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and my favorites are White Christmas (there's a reason we live up here!) and Love Actually.  Bech wouldn't claim a Christmas movie favorite, but he gets really into any Christmas movie I play.  I love to watch the ABC Family and Lifetime Christmas movies (Netflix has tons!).

As far as music goes, I've got the Pandora playing "Dave Barnes Holiday" at home and Sleeping at Last's Christmas Album on repeat in my car.  I found Sleeping at Last on Noise Trade a couple of years ago and I just love them.

This is my favorite song, "Snow."

So that's what we're doing this Christmas season in the Evans' house!  Have a wonderful weekend.  I'll be burning my Balsam Fir candle and wishing for snow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Advent Season

If you have read this blog for any period of time, you know that I love Christmas, even more than I love fall.  And one of my favorite parts of Christmas is the Advent season.  I love the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve and Day.  I love preparing for Christmas and focusing on what it all means.  I love the Christmas hymns and lighting the candle.

Last year, the Advent season was especially meaningful because that whole time was so hard.  I look back on last fall as a bit of a blur.  I read this article one year ago today, and I just cried.  I was in the midst of so many unknowns.  I was taking Gil in for weight checks and blood tests.  Jack and Bech had pneumonia (and Bech went through 3 rounds of antibiotics to get rid of his!).  Gil was colicky, and I hadn't had a full night of sleep since September.  Bech was in the midst of health issues on top of a super hard year of school.  Last Advent was hard.  

But that only made it more special.  

"Would we be so filled with joy at his arrival if we weren’t so filled with longing already?
If Christmas is for the joy, then Advent is for the longing.
As I learned in particular through our lost babies, one after another after another, the joy born out of suffering and longing is more beautiful for its very complexity. I am learning it again in these days in particular when so many are grieving and angry, sad and wounded from the pain of living in this world as it stands right now. The joy doesn’t erase the longing and the sadness that came before but it does redeem it, it may even stain backwards changing how we look at those days or years. But the joy is made more real, richer and deeper perhaps, because we longed for it with all our hearts for so many days."
"Now that I have wept, now that I have grieved, now that I have lost, now that I have learned to hold space with and for the ones who are hurting, now I have a place for Advent.

Now that I have fallen in step with the man from Nazareth, I want to walk where he walked into the brokenness of this life, and see the Kingdom of God at hand. Now that I have learned how much I need him, I have learned to watch for him.
Advent is for the ones who know longing."
And now we enter into another Advent season.  A month and a half ago, I was rereading my post from last year and thinking about how different things are right now.  My kids and husband are relatively healthy.  While many health questions were never answered, they aren't day to day factors anymore.  My children sleep.  Bech is done with school, and we actually get to see him again!  I don't do bath and bedtimes by myself (with a crying baby) most nights.  I realized I was coming into this Advent season so much more full than last year.

And then my friend's child almost died.  And there were terrorist attacks in Paris.  And I keep reading about the Syrian refugees (and so many hateful responses to them).  And another friend just had a life altering surgery.  

There is so much pain, so many tears, so much LONGING still all around me.

But this is the reality of our fallen world.  Every year, even if it isn't me, I will be surrounded by those who have grieved and who have lost.  I will be, as Sarah Bessey says, "holding space with and for the ones who are hurting."  

But praise God for Advent, because that means that there is HOPE.  During the next 24 days, I get to be reminded of that truth, that "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" (Revelation 21:4).

And Advent will always have a place, every December, until,

"one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy!  The earth will shout out loud!  His fame will fill the whole earth--as the waters cover the sea!  Everything sad will come untrue.  Even death is going to die!  And he will wipe away every tear from every eye.  

Yes, the Rescuer will come.  Look for him.  Watch for him.  Wait for him.  
He will come!"