soul and body meet in faith, food, and fitness

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Pesto Pizza with Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts Pizza

One of my husband’s favorite meals is his mom’s pesto pizza. I don’t know if there is a real recipe for her version or not, but I dared not try to recreate it….mostly because I had few of the ingredients on hand. So I started from scratch with what I had, which was a pile of fresh basil, a flatbread pizza dough recipe, a ball of fresh mozzarella and went from there.  Upon opening the fridge to grab cheese I discovered leftover bacon from Sunday brunch and Brussels sprouts several days past their prime. So what’s a chef  pregnant lady to do? Pile them on the pizza. And you know what? It was a huge hit. Happy day! Continue reading

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Count me a “people of Walmart”

When I woke with an entire Saturday free of major plans or commitments, with a fiancé out of town, I wanted to run some errands, pick up my CSA at the farmer’s market, chill at the pool with a friend and end the day doing a bit of baking. Delightful, no?

All went well until I returned home from the pool. Still damp and already showing lobster red on my shoulders, I started to unload the day’s pickups when I heard a loud sustained HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Cue pit in the stomach. 

Hearing the air draining out of my tire, I took another load of empty moving boxes into the house while I resigned myself to changing a flat and canceling my plans for tomorrow. It is my Mom’s birthday and I was planning to meet my parents at a halfway point between our homes – a two hour drive. 

Quickly thinking to call Dad, he instructed me to “get thee to the nearest tire store before it goes flat! It will be easier all around.” Dad to the rescue, even when four hours away.

Off I raced, er, drove like a grandma, to my trusty mechanic’s. Confident I made it in under the wire for their daily close time of 7pm, I pulled in the drive at 6:01pm. A solid minute AFTER they closed. 

Now near tears, it seems the Walmart several miles away was the only option on a Saturday evening for tire places open.  

 So here I am, world, in all my glory. Unbathed and smelling of chlorine and BO, hair a frizzy mess, still in a damp swimsuit, I have to say I’m looking worthy of a spot on one of the People of Walmart sites. Here’s hoping someone got my best side for my debut. Make sure you capture the leg that’s half white and half sunburnt in the photo. 


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A few of my favorite things…er recipes that is

A few favorite recipes

A few lovely women in my life recently asked for some “Jennspiration” in the kitchen and since it’s been too too long since I’ve shared a bit over here, I thought I’d pass some of it along to you too – in case you’re feeling a bit blasé about your recent kitchen creations.

In my current state of life – unmarried and childless – I have a lot of freedom in the kitchen. I find great joy spending time cooking and experimenting with ingredients I like or want to try out. Cooking (and eating) is a stress reliever for me, so spending time in the kitchen is not much of a chore.

I do hope as I embark on the adventure that is marriage with my best guy, I hope I will continue to find as much joy in feeding those I love once it’s more of a daily task. You see, right now, part of what keeps me interested, I think, is that I tend to cook a couple times a week and in large enough quantity that I eat leftovers for days.  It’s great, because then I have lunch ready for the work week or enough that I’m not cooking every night of the week. I fear cooking will lose some of it’s luster once I’m cooking to keep a family well fed.  Have any of you had that experience? 

Anywho, back to the matter at hand. Here are a collection of some of my favorite recipes and meals I return to over and over again. You know that scene in Julie and Julia where she takes her first bite of egg and simply says “yum” with a goofy grin? Yeah, well that’s me eating these recipes.  Ask Philip – he says he can handle my audible affection for food so long as the good stuff keeps coming.

Korean Spicy Noodles: Makes a large quantity! Great for taking to a new mom who might be tired of the bountiful pans of  lasagna lovingly prepared for her.


Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussel Sprouts: Amazing any time of year. I prepare with brown rice.


Zucchini Butter: perfection for the high zucchini months of summer. Great on toast, under an egg, on a flatbread and made into pizza.  And tasty on it’s own. Yum.


Grilled Spicy Salmon After a long hiatus, I made this again recently and it’s delicious over a salad!


Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese Fall perfection. Enough said.


Freezer Lamb Meatballs Recently I made these with ground beef instead of lamb and they were equally as wonderful as when I’ve made them with lamb! This time I served it over spiralized cucumber tossed with a bit of plain yogurt, lime juice, cumin, feta, salt & pepper. It was so delightful I could have eaten it for days!


Other things I tend to make over and over again that are easy:
  • Spaghetti squash with sausage, and  sauteed 3 pepper and onion starter blend  (freezer section of Kroger)
  • Pork Chops: thick cut, brined in salt water for a couple hours and then seasoned with some kind of spice blend like Penzy’s Barbeque of the America’s. Never brined a pork chop. It’s a revelation. Try it!
  • Hamburgers – my favorite is to add in cumin and some Worcestershire sauce for a bit of savory.
  • Ground beef with onions, peppers, zucchini and Italian spices. Sometimes I add in spinach if I have it.
If I’m really stuck I tend to return to the blogs I know I can trust for quality and not overly fussy recipes (generally speaking). I get super overwhelmed by all the opinions on site such as allrecipes or other large ones, so that’s why I turn to the blogs I read first and then move on from there if I can’t find what I’m looking for.
Smitten Kitchen (never made a bad recipe here, ok, maybe once)


Dinner A Love Story (great for feeding families with potentially quick and easy recipes or with fussy eaters)


Simply Recipes (a lot of basics on the site, but also some gems I’ve collected over the years).


My love of cooking comes from seeing the joy it brought my mom to feed us growing up and now learning on my own to take quality, flavorful ingredients and eek all the joy out of them that I can. Happy cooking!

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He said / she said: Preparing for more than a wedding

He said - she said

Philip and I had the pleasure of writing blog posts over at I Believe in Love today. Jumping from the same point of “we’re not just planning a wedding, we’re planning a marriage…” it was interesting to see the direction both our posts went. We both touched on how fear plays a role in this period before we get married and how we have to make decisions to try and cut through the jungle of that fear.

You can read both our posts over there today!

She said: How planning a marriage and not just a wedding calms my fears

He said: A wedding and marriage are two different things

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Starting 21 Day Fix Extreme

Today is day 1 of 21 Day Fix Extreme, one of Beachbody’s newest programs. Sitting trying to figure out the container system and meal planning is a tad daunting for me, actually.

I thoroughly enjoy cooking and being creative in the kitchen, but I’ve never been very good at planning in advance. I am more a spontaneous cook based on what is available to me. So trying to look out a week is rough for me. It’s a lot of components to figure out so it is easy to get overwhelmed by it.

That being said, I am giving it a go and going to try it out! Sitting here at day 1 of meal planning, I fully expect to come out the other side thinking that Whole30 was an easier challenge! I promise to keep you updated as I go.

As far as the workouts are concerned, they are great so far!  I’ve done the first two workouts, Plyo and Upper Fix, and boy do I feel it! I’ll try to keep you all updated as I go.


Engagement Sesh

If you want a bit more detail on our engagement story you can find it in my last post.  In this one you’ll simply find the loveliest of photos from our sweet photographer and friend Corynne Hogan at She’s young and creative and talented and we had so much fun exploring the nooks and crannies of the library, the Golden Lamb restaurant, and an old shoe factory in downtown Lebanon, Ohio. Enjoy!





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My most memorable run {our engagement story}

Remember how my last post (which was WAY too long ago) was about being led by my left hand? Well, the gentleman doing the leading is now my fiancé! I know, spoiler alert. Up to this point we’ve been intentional that I don’t mention Philip by name or post about him here, but now I can. So wonderful readers, meet my beloved, Philip, by way of my most memorable run.

A few days before we left to spend Thanksgiving with my parents in my hometown, Syracuse, Indiana and Philip asked if we could go for a run along the lake. I grew up in an area with many lakes and we often run when we have time to, so it was a seemly normal request.  So, on Black Friday, we planned to go for a run after he logged a few hours for work.  My parents don’t have internet at the house so Philip spent the morning working from my Mom’s office in town while I relaxed with my sister’s family and her rolly polly baby.


my niece

Around lunch the pit in my stomach grew. I felt bad enough that Philip had to work the morning, but the project was going long and he wasn’t going to get off for another few hours. I fully expected by the time he returned to the house that he would NOT want to go for a run by the lake and we’d do it another time. So, it was a surprise to me when he said he still wanted to go out after a quick lunch.

Bundled and ready, I suggested we simply run from the house, but he insisted we should park at Oakwood Resort, a waterfront hotel on Lake Wawasee, and run from there.  Philip had been to hotel once for a wedding, so I assumed it was for lack of knowledge of the surrounding area that he suggested that particular location.  Naturally, I suggested we start at a different waterfront park because it made more practical sense.

Having none of it, Philip once again insisted we park at Oakwood and run from there. He’d had a long frustrating morning so I didn’t push it any further. Off to Oakwood we went.

I had a lovely run! It was slick with days old snow and brisk the first mile, but once I warmed up I was jabbering away as Philip grumbled about the cold and how miserable it was to run in winter. Making our way back to where we parked the car, Philip convinced me to walk towards the small lawn and gazebo right on the lakefront. There was a helium balloon tied out front and he wanted to investigate.

Still in my own world, I bumbled on about how funny it was that there was a half deflated balloon tied up at the gazebo – naturally, I thought it was left over from a kid’s birthday party. In a gazebo. In Indiana. In November. Riiiggghhht.

aerial view

Seeing my parents come out of hiding

A sweet couple happened by right as Philip proposed and snapped this picture at the exact moment my family came out of hiding. Little sneaks. They’d helped pull off Philip’s grand heist.


It was not until the moment we arrived at the balloon and I saw it was tied to a tiny covered basket that I knew the reason for our run. The run was never really about the run. It was about the finish line. And at the finish line of that run, I received the best prize I could hope for.


Now, we’ll run the marathon of our lives together and uphold each other as we reach for the eternal finish line in heaven. I am so happy to be yours Philip Frederick.

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On being led by my left hand

I’m starting to post over at I Believe in Love! It’s a great online community of people who believe that love in our current world is still possible. Real stories from real people who have faced struggle and blessing in their relationship journeys.  Here’s a quick excerpt from my first post…

Left to Lead

“We’re both lefties,we are, this dude of mine and me.  And today, as I sat holding his hand, it occurred to me that there’s a lesson in both of us being lefties.  Of course there’s nothing profound about holding hands, my left in his right. But when I slow down, small moments like this tend to stick with me most profoundly.

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If I consider holding hands as a metaphor for our relationship, I see that when my left hand is holding his, I can’t use my dominant hand, while he still can.  He can open doors, swing an ax, write a birthday card, and even chop vegetables because his left hand is free and the other is still holding mine—holding on to our relationship.”

Read it all at:

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Fighting the busyness by bravely choosing trust

It’s been almost a month since I last posted and I have to restrain myself from starting out with “hey, internet, it’s been a little quiet, but I’ve been so busy. Fall is a busy time each year”…yadda yadda yadda. I have to fight saying it because it makes me feel important. It justifies the ways I’ve been spending my time – makes it feel like I’ve been pursuing something noble.

When I examine how I use my time, I tend to be harsh with myself for not getting this done or that to do crossed off, but as I learned from Jennifer Fulwiler earlier this year, I have to be brave in my to dos and know that I’m getting done what God expects of me, so long as I’m not neglecting those I love.

It’s far easier for me to neglect people, neglect those I’ve been asked to serve, for the sake of crossing off my to do list than it is for me to continually set my own priorities aside. So, I’ve tried to practice this year by cutting back on my obligations outside my home. Choose a few focused activities where I feel called most to serve. It certainly has helped me be more present in my home, but somehow I’ve managed to fill that time too. I’ve been reflecting on how it was that I previously had obligations after work 3-4 nights a week and I can’t fathom that now! I’m so grateful a dear friend encouraged me to scale back and pushed me to figure out my priorities.

And although the lesson from Jennifer has been circling in my brain all year and I continue to utter it aloud to myself every so often, I’m still caught.  I’m still caught in the wheel that says I should do more, be more, help more. Some nights it’s all I can do to pull myself away from work and towards bed.

There’s always one more email. One more request. One more person I should try to connect with – whether it’s a friend who I need to reconnect with or inviting someone to join my next challenge group.  There’s always one more. One is enough for the lies of Satan to creep in, saying I’m not enough.

I want to choose trust instead. Maybe Mary can teach me that.  I want to trust that the things I’m getting done and the places I am each week are exactly where I’m asked to serve – if only I live in that, rather than living caught up in the next thing I’m supposed to get done.



What I learned from Whole30

At varying points in my Whole30 journey I felt great, terrible, bloated, like it was the easiest and greatest, and like it was the worst and would never end.  It was a bit of a roller coaster at times, but overall, I’m quite glad I tried it out and think I have a few things I can carry along with me for the long term.

What is Whole30 you ask? In a nutshell, for 30 days you remove all sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains from your diet to hit a reset button in your body and let it heal from years of poor eating.*  There’s a whole science behind it if you care to learn more (it’s quite interesting and even though my Whole30 is over, I still want to finish reading the book).

Sausage veggie goodness

One of my favorite meals of the month

Let me start off by admitting that I didn’t even make it the full 30 days and my Whole30 was far from perfectly compliant.  Eating meals can be so community driven. For example, when I was eating in groups, celebrating with others (weddings! milestones! Yay!), it was hardest to stay compliant. I also slipped on the rules when travel complicated my ability to control my meals.

Doing Whole30 forced me away from my addiction to sugar and away from my reliance on grains to round out a meal.  Prior to Whole30 I felt I ate a fairly balanced diet already and stayed away from most highly processed foods.  However, I would be the first to admit my reliance on sugar.  Not simply as a quick energy source, but also for emotional reasons – rewards, a crutch during stressful times, etc.

breadless sandwich

Trying a breadless sandwich idea from Amazon_Ashley

Whole30 helped me begin to recognize my emotional reliance on food a bit more and try to address it slowly. Thirty days is not long enough for me to completely break out of those habits, but it did highlight for me how closely my eating can be tied to emotions. Instead of not eating at all, I would substitute for something Whole30 approved to munch on.  That’s not exactly the point – but feeding my body something good is a step in the right direction, rather than eating sugar or salty processed foods.

Whole30 also gotten rid of that 3 o’clock haze that I often experience at work.  In feeding my body well with fruits, vegetables, and proteins, I was able to rid myself of that most dreaded part of the afternoon where my mind goes a bit fuzzy after lunch and I hit a slump.  Ding, ding, ding – it’s tied to lunchtime carbs and how I process them.  Cleaner lunches helped me stay more focused at work, and I also wasn’t dipping in energy from a sugar crash – extra bonus points.

My body feels well nourished, my mind is sharp, I know I’m fueling myself well so why quit? Why not make Whole30 a permanent part of my life?

brining pork chops

Brining pork chops is a revelation!

Food is about more than nourishing my body.  Of course that’s the bulk of it, but as I alluded to earlier, the toughest moments of Whole30 were when I was with my community and I couldn’t fully participate because of my chosen diet.  Especially when eating as a guest in someone’s home, I did not always have the option to be compliant. I also had a work trip during my Whole30 that completely derailed my efforts to stay compliant.  Trying to figure out compliance while traveling deserves it’s own full post, to be honest.  I did try my best for the first few days of the trip but there was an emotionally exhausting piece of trying to balance a new work situation, travel in a new locale, and the funky way of eating. Hence the derailment after a while.

All that said and done, I do hope to incorporate what I’ve learned from Whole30 into my every day life going forward.  I hope to keep grains to a minimum still (after going a bit grain and sugar crazy this first weekend off Whole30) and also keep off the addiction to sugar.  Sugar cycles are crazy quick to take hold in my body and I have a major sweet tooth.  So, my goals are to figure out the balance of celebrating and enjoying food, but not letting the hormonal affects of food dictate what I’m putting into my body.  I also have been entirely convinced that long term, to fuel my body well, I may need to take drastic measures (drastic as in Whole30) when I find myself in a season of poor food decisions.  It’s the reset I needed after summer sweets and treats.

I know some of you other Catholic bloggers did Whole30 – what are your reflections now that it’s over? Link in the comments and I’ll be sure to click over too!

*I also modified to continue drinking Shakeology throughout my Whole30 experience, after having followed another Beachbody coach’s experience of going off Shakeology and doing Whole30.