Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hummus is Yummus - Plus The Big Girls



I have a feeling about hummus. 

My feeling is that people have pretty strong feelings about hummus. 

Love it or hate it. Plain or flavored. Thick or thin. Store bought or homemade.

Around here, hummus is a family affair. My girls send me things like this....


and this from Reagan....



The bottom line is this - so much hummus, so little time. 

So let's talk hummus.

I'm pretty particular about what makes a really good hummus. 

I'll eat store bought hummus in a pinch but I really prefer making it myself. Thankfully, it's a quick and easy process so a craving can be satisfied in a snap.

So how do I like my hummus?

Thick, smooth and creamy. Not watery, grainy or pasty.

Now here's where we might part ways - I like my hummus plain, thankyouverymuch.

And here's why:  


Because I'm thinking beyond the pita chip/hummus combo, not that there is one single thing wrong with that.

But when I make homemade hummus, I'm eating it with all these little goodies. And I don't want roasted red pepper or olive tapenade or jalapeƱo or basil pesto or anything else overpowering my tasty little dip combos.

My favorite things to serve with my plain hummus are finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers, kalamata olives, goat cheese, carrot sticks and naan. 

After several average recipes and some downright duds, I finally found Favorite Homemade Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips at Sally's Baking Addiction

Side note here - Sally makes her own pita chips. Woah, Sally. I'm doing good to make the hummus right now. Baby steps. 

Homemade Hummus with Crunchy Spiced Pita Chips. This is my favorite (super simple) homemade hummus recipe, you will make it time and time again!

One more side note here - Sally's food photography is beautiful. Mine is lame. But I have never claimed to be any kind of photographer. So whatever.

A few helpful homemade hummus making tips:

I use no salt added chickpeas simply because I want to control the amount of salt in my hummus. Not because I'm a control freak but simply because it can easily get too salty for me. I buy this brand:


I also peel all those little chickpeas, which sounds a lot harder than it actually is. The skins basically slip right off so it only adds another minute or so to your prep time.

Next, put all the liquids together and make an emulsion. So if you're using the recipe I'm sharing here, you'd first combine the olive oil, lemon juice, chickpea liquid, and tahini, whirring it up until it's smooth and creamy. 

And last, once you add the remaining ingredients to your emulsion, get it super smooth. We're not going for grainy bean dip here. I've discovered that when making humus, my food processor just doesn't get the job done. I use my Ninja Master Prep blender/food processor combo and it works great. I whirl it around several times, pausing every now and then to scrape down the sides with a spatula.

Downright tasty stuff. 

valentine's day card hummus
courtesy of greatest.com 

Now for a little something that has absolutely nothing to do with hummus.

My big girls have always had some slight similarities when it comes to the resemblance department. But no one ever really said how much they looked alike when they were little bitties. 

Actually, what we heard most often was how much Ryley looked like her dad and how much Reagan looked like me.

But the funny thing is... as they have gotten older, they seem to be looking more alike. 

Which I did not really expect.

But then Reagan put these two pictures side by side:



And. Well. Gosh.

I then promptly sent it to Ryan with the caption:

"That moment when you realize they may not wear matching clothes anymore... but they still match."

And my heart melted just a little bit.

Because. Well. 

Gosh. 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Greatest Book to Read to Your Kids - Right Now!

Most of you know that I really, really, really like to read.

And I love sharing great books with you.

But most of the time, the books I recommend are for you to read.

Well, this time, I'm recommending a book for the kids. But I dare any grown-up who reads it to not fall in love with it, just like I know your kids will.

The best way to introduce this book is to let the author himself read a portion of it.

Get ready - because you're going to be smiling in about 1 minute.





As a former elementary school teacher, I can promise you that "Boo Boo Butt" was heard all over that school the next few weeks.

Don't you just love kids?

They can be brutally honest when you wish they wouldn't be.

As in, "Mrs. Rush, I don't like your new hair color."

But they can also be so great for your ego. They can make you feel like you're the funniest person alive, just like in the video up there.

The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak.

So simple. But so, so creative.

I'm kind of furious that I didn't come up with it myself.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Faux-Ship



In preparation for preaching, Ryan will sometimes post a question or comment on Facebook just to get a feel for what people think about certain issues.

So when I came across a blog post that addressed a topic that Ryan and I have been discussing lately, I felt like it was confirmation that we weren't the only ones talking about this issue. A blog post started forming in my mind so, like Ryan, I took to Facebook to get a read on what others thought about it.

Because preparation for a blog post is just as crucial as preparation for a sermon. I mean, let's be real. Lives are changed by the reading of this blog, amiright?

I thought so. Moving along now....

Here is what I posted to Facebook if you want to read the article, which I think you should so that you know what stirred me to write this post.

But in case you're pressed for time, here's a quick summary:

Boy and girl are friends. Boy invites girl to spend time together. Calling and texting back and forth daily, multiple times a day. Much time is spent together - movies, eating, sporting events, shopping... whatever - just together a lot. 5 months pass. No mention of "dating" or "romance" or "relationship" at all. Girl starts to wonder if boy likes her since he seeks her time and attention constantly but will not comment or clarify or address what "this they are doing" is.  Girl is trying not to have expectations for a relationship but is afraid of getting hurt. "This they are doing" continues on indefinitely in ambiguity. Girl is slowly going crazy while boy is not thinking any further than what his next meal will be.

OK. I added that last line myself.

Probably because I am slightly biased since I have daughters.

But how I feel about raising daughters is a conversation for another day.

While the article addresses the concerns of the poor girl slowly losing her mind, I felt like, in a way, Joy (the author) was still basically saying, "Be wise and good luck".

And I certainly don't have the answers to all the questions or the sure-fire solution to this problem but I do have some more thoughts to share.

So here goes....

I believe that it is very common today for guys and gals to engage in something I will henceforth refer to as "the faux-ship".

It's this friendship/constant communication/dating but not dating/uncommitted/just hanging out/not a relationship thing floating out there undefined and often leading to confusion, hurt feelings, anger, and/or just general craziness.

The faux-ship often starts innocently enough.

Let's say a guy and girl meet in a college class. They decide to meet at the library with several other students in the class to study. The guy asks for the girl's number so he can text when and where the library study session will take place. They meet at the library with the group a couple of times. They sit together while studying. Then he starts asking if he can swing by her dorm and they can walk to study group together. He walks her home afterwards. Then the guy asks the girl to go eat before the next study session. He starts asking her to go get coffee after studying. By this time, he's texting her randomly, for reasons that have nothing to do with class or study group. He saw something funny and thought it would make her laugh. He's going for a run and wonders if she wants to join him. He's going off campus to the bookstore and asks if she wants to go, too. He's going to the football game and would she like to sit with him? Girl is responding to the texts and initiating ones of her own as well. She's going to Target and would he like to go? She just made cookies and would he like to have some?

And so it goes.... for months and months.

The faux-ship.

And lest you think I'm holding only the guys responsible for the faux-ship, think again. I know plenty of young ladies only too willing to lead guys on just so they have something to do on the weekends. Everyone plays a part in the faux-ship.

We can talk until we're blue in the face about why these faux-ships are so prevalent today but at the end of the day, they are common, no matter why. So what are we going to do? What are we going to tell our sons and daughters about the pitfalls of the faux-ship?

That's where I want to land today. 

I think after being a part of a faux-ship for several months, it can only go in one of three directions:   
One - moving to a real and authentic relationship,
Two - continuing on as friends, or
Three - going incommunicado and moving on.

But what is required for the faux-ship to head in one of those three directions? To start becoming clear to all parties involved?

An honest conversation. Maybe even a couple of honest conversations.

And at the risk of sounding terribly old-fashioned and out of touch, I believe this conversation should be initiated and led by the young man.

2 Second Time-Out:

Does it stink sometimes to be the guy and have to take the lead? Yes. And I'm sorry about that. 

But it also stinks to be the girl sometimes. Because one word. Childbirth. You should definitely be glad you're a guy, guys.

While I may think the guy should take the lead in clarifying a faux-ship, that thought may not necessarily be shared by today's young men.

So I asked a young man.

And here is what he said:


I think that it is the man's responsibility to:

1. Initiate the talk: Don't wait till she brings it up, or allow it to fall into a realm of unclear issues that never get addressed. Have a direction, an intention, a purpose and then present it to the lady.

2. Lead the talk: Don't just ask her how she feels about you, but clearly explain how you feel, what you feel, why you feel it, and where you would hope to go with that if she were to be interested and willing as well.

3. Assume all risk: Don't ever make her be the one to go out on a limb and ask if there is interest or what "this" is. If ever that is the case, you never belittle, or act surprised, or shoot someone down without hearing them out. You assume the risk by explaining how you feel, not beginning by asking her how she feels. The way to turn this risk into reward is to make this awkward talk into a beneficial dialogue which goes from asking a question of interest into a plan of direction for what it looks like to be interested, or what it looks like to continue forward as friends if mutual interest isn't there. Taking peoples feelings into consideration is a crucial kindness.

4. Do it in a timely fashion: Don't make a girl wait several months to have the talk! Have the talk early in order to save time, energy, emotional wellbeing, money, as well as preventing difficult recovery times for either party by stringing someone along into a messy, unclear, friendship/relationship. Even if the talk is saying that you don't know if you want to date this person yet, but are desiring to take an invested interest in getting to know this person so a wise decision can be made. I believe that's being clear, intentional, and purposeful. Always having timely checkups of course.



Well. That is definitely the way to add clarity to a faux-ship! 

But here's what I especially love, besides this young man, of course: 

He doesn't say that the guy must have all the answers when he initiates the conversation. He just needs to have the conversation! Just let the girl know that you are trying to figure out "what this is", as well. That is a really big deal to a girl. It also allows the guy to find out if the girl is wondering "what this is", too. Maybe she's the one only thinking as far as her next meal and he needs to know that.  

I also like how he says that the man should assume all the risk when having the talk. It's not very "manly" to open the conversation with something like, "Do you like me? I mean, LIKE me, like me?" Kudos for bringing it up but if this is your lead point, then you're still essentially passing all the risk to the girl. Not cool.

I would add that if a guy is bold enough to bring up the conversation and assume all risk, then the girl needs to be respectful, sensitive, and mature about his feelings, even if she doesn't feel the same. Don't make him regret taking a risk by being mean or petty and laughing about it later with all your friends. He deserves better than that.

And another great point he makes? Have the talk in a timely fashion.

The longer it lingers, the more difficult it will be to have the conversation. Because here's what happens:  after months of constant contact, I think it's pretty much a given that the guy and girl enjoy each other's company. So then it becomes this muddy dilemma of being such good friends that you feel like moving towards any kind of clarity might mean the potential loss of a really great friend.

Can we get real for just a minute?

What's the real goal here? Making more really good friends or moving towards meeting the person you might ultimately want to spend the rest of your life with?

I don't mean to sound crass. It's always nice to have good friends and if your goal is to have as many as you can, then more power to you.

But according to a recent Pew Research survey, since about 61% of people, or 6 out of every 10 men and women, say they would like to get married one day (and another 27% are undecided), I would venture to say you don't have a whole lot of time to engage in these long-standing, unclear, low expectation, time consuming faux-ships. Not if the goal is to meet your future spouse.

I'm not saying don't get to know someone. But if your friendship is becoming a faux-ship and no clarity seems to be on the near horizon, then I would start moving on down the road, still being nice but definitely less available.

So moms and dads, are we raising children or adults? Are we raising young men and young ladies who can avoid falling into the trap of the convenient but frustrating faux-ship? Who can have honest and open conversations when clarity is called for, and ultimately engage in mature relationships?

Maybe it's time for an honest and open conversation ourselves.



 courtesy of  http://bitsotruth.blogspot.jp/2013/01/02572.html

Agree? Disagree? Got more to add? I'd love to hear it all.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Alone at Home

It's officially back-to-school time at the Rush house.

The big girls are in Virginia and just started their first week of classes. And Bird went back to school today.


Looking super styley in her first day of school outfit. 


So what does this time of year mean for me?

A little bit more alone time. 

I don't know about you but I am one of those people that is just a little bit nicer to everyone if I can get just a few minutes of alone time every day. (I know. I know. You're finding it hard to believe that I could ever be anything but nice, aren't you??) After being by myself for a little while, I feel refreshed and revitalized and ready to face whatever comes my way. 

And home is the place I most like to be alone. 

So what do I do with my time when I'm home alone?

Well sometimes, I do productive things, in spite of my best efforts to avoid them. I mean, Lily's in school five days a week and Ryan's occasionally going to ask what I did all day, so at least one of those days should be spent doing something constructive, right? 

My more productive home alone days include things like doing laundry, baking treats for school lunches, meal planning, and making grocery store runs that involve lots of label reading.

But setting aside boring chores, let's get to the good stuff. 

The stuff I don't run around telling everyone because it might make me seem lazy or Heaven forbid, like a real-live-human-being-who-sets-aside-her-to-do-list-occasionally-for-no-good-reason-other- than-she-needs-a-break kind of person. Because, who would do that, amiright??

Here we go.....   

For one thing, I read. 

You know how everyone puts out all those fun summer reading lists? I do read in the summer but probably a whole lot less than any other time of the year. Mostly that's because I don't get large chunks of uninterrupted time when Bird's at home. She'll hang with me, lying on the couch for about 30 minutes while I read, and then she's ready for something with a little more action. 

I bookmark all those summer reading lists, pull out my own TBR list (to be read, for those of you not up on all the hip literary lingo like myself), and get to reading. In fact, after dropping Lily off for her first day of school, I went straight to the library so that I'd have a good size stack of books on my nightstand. Because along with some alone time, a good size stack of books on my nightstand makes me a happy girl.

But I do much more than just read when I'm home alone.

I do lots of very interesting stuff, like.... 
  • immediately change into sweats after delivering Bird to school
  • wear no make-up
  • listen to podcasts of This American Life (like reading, another one of my favorite things)
  • watch TV shows that no one else will watch with me, like Call The Midwife and Downton Abbey
  • eat peanut butter foldovers, cereal, and avocado toast - but never sitting at the table
  • take naps (yet another favorite thing)
  • catch up on all my favorite blogs
I told you it was interesting. And unproductive. Unless you count watching Call the Midwife as educational preparation in case I'm ever in a situation where I might be called upon to deliver a baby. 

Now it's your turn. What do you do when you find yourself with a little free time and no one is home with you? Please tell me I'm not the only teensy-bit lazy person out there.... 
"In Search of Identity: Three of 2013's Best Translated Novels" were chosen by Juan Vidal for NPR Books.
This post was inspired by A Cup of Jo, who has cute illustrations to go with her home alone activities, which maybe you could check out right now... I mean, if you just happen to be at home right now.... alone.... you know.  


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Surprise!

I had one of the best things happen to me last week.

But I need to give you just a little back story first....

I don't think I've shared that Ryley decided to stay in Virginia this summer to complete her internship, as well as continuing to work in the club sports office.  The only downside to that plan was it meant that Ryley would more than likely not be back in Texas until December.

Well, Ryan and the big girls decided that was way too long to wait.  Especially since Ryley had not even seen our new house or visited our new church yet.

And that was the start of Operation "Bring Ryley Home Without Mom Knowing".  They kept me completely in the dark for two whole weeks!

So this past Friday morning, we headed out to Lake Conroe to rent a boat and just have some fun family time, minus Ryley.  Ryan informed me that a friend of his from Florida was flying into Houston that morning for a meeting but wondered if Ryan could swing by the airport to pick up some paperwork he'd been needing to hand off to Ryan.

Maybe I'm gullible but I totally believed him.

So we made a slight diversion to the airport where I dropped Ryan at the curb to go get his paperwork. I circled the airport, came back to pick him up and this is what happened:



Can you tell I was just a little bit surprised?

They got me real good.

So off we went to the lake, all five of us, which made a great day even better.

We also discovered that while Lily can take or leave the ocean, she is definitely a "Lake Girl".  She had a blast on the boat and didn't hesitate to get right in the water.



The big girls had a pretty good time, too.


All my girls, together again.


Since I'll soon be delivering yet another daughter to Virginia for college, I'm especially thankful for the times we do have all together.  

So have you had any big surprises lately? Or a fun family adventure?  I'd love to hear about it! 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Makes a House a Home?

If you asked one hundred people what makes a house feel like a home, you'd likely get one hundred different answers.

Homemade bread in the oven.

China dishes from a great-grandmother.

A family picture hanging over the mantel.

Books in the shelves. And nightstands. And coffee table. And end tables. And....

It probably goes without saying that part of what makes a house my house is books.

But with our recent move, I realized that while I was surrounded by books, it still didn't feel like home.

In fact, after being in our house for a month now, it has only truly begun to feel like home in the past few days.

And I was actually pretty surprised at the moment the thought, "this feels like home", first struck me.

It was late evening, just a bit past 8 PM. The sun was just disappearing. Light fading. Lamps glowing. The house was settling in for the night and so were we.

While Ryan tucked Lily in, I started the dishwasher and moved some laundry from the washer to the dryer, added towels and soap to begin yet another load.

Ryan stepped out of Bird's bedroom, singing under his breath, turned on the television and found a Spurs summer league game to watch.

Reagan got on the computer and FaceTimed Ryley in Virginia, showed her the progress on their new shared bedroom.

I opened a kitchen drawer, selected a Mexican hot chocolate, and fired up the Keurig.

And that's the moment when I first thought, "Home. Tonight this house feels like home.".

You know what it was?

Sound. Or rather, sounds.

Lily gibber-jabbering through the baby monitor, Backyardigans on the iPad.

The murmuring voices of Ryley and Reagan on the computer, punctuated with laughter.

Singing.

A basketball game on TV.

Washer, dryer, and dishwasher all busily humming along.

The Keurig noisily spluttering out my yummy drink.

These were the sounds of home.

I paused for a minute, just listening, feeling grateful that such simple sounds could be that powerful, could evoke such warm feelings.

Living in eleven houses in twenty-two years of marriage, you soon learn that a house is just four walls and a roof.  It's what's under the roof that really makes a home.  And hearing those sounds was a nice reminder that this twelfth house will soon feel like a home every day, too.

So what about you?  What makes a house feel like home to you?

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."
Maya Angelou


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