Happy Belated President’s Day! I celebrated the under appreciated holiday by attending a Professional Development Day at school. Sitting through seminars isn’t really much of a celebration at all so if you were lucky enough to be off I sure hope you enjoyed it!
Even though my holiday was less than, I have had a pretty enjoyable last couple of weeks. I got to catch up with my girlfriends from graduate school at a speech convention. Then Robert and I attended the lovely wedding of a family friend complete with an Elvis impersonator which was pretty entertaining to say the least.
After that I got to spend a few days in Charleston visiting and volunteering with my Aunt Vanessa. She is my decorating guru and we have very similar interests in cooking and healthy eating so time spent with her is always lots of fun (and tasty!). We shopped, enjoyed a lot of delicious meals out, a few delicious meals in (including these delectable overnight oats topped with agave, fresh fruit and freshly ground nutmeg…drool!)
*Has anyone ever seen a nutmeg grinder? This was new to me and I think I need one…
AND last but not least, milkshakes from a magical milkshake machine!
You choose your flavor, pop the top off and the machine sucks your cup up and returns a perfectly thick milkshake to you. So. Good. Thankfully I don’t know where one of these exists in Hilton Head or otherwise I’d be in trouble.
We did do more than just eat (hard to believe, I know). We also spent Friday evening volunteering at an event at Vanessa’s church called Night to Shine. Night to Shine is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and is an amazing prom night experience for individuals with special needs. There’s dinner, dancing, a red carpet, limo rides, paparazzi photos, make up and shoe shines, literally everything you can imagine to make the attendees feel like Kings and Queens. Vanessa and I were food servers which was wonderful since we got to interact with many of the adults as we served them their meal. It was truly a magical night and I can’t wait to volunteer again next year. If you hear of this event taking place in your area and you have a heart for people with differing abilities I HIGHLY encourage you to find a way to help out. You will not regret it!
I came back from that trip to Charleston with a renewed desire to cook! I love to cook, but after a sad December and thus a few weeks feeling awful mentally and physically and doing minimal cooking, I really hadn’t had a huge drive to get back in the kitchen. It was exciting to finally be feeling like myself again. My immediate thoughts were, ‘Oh hello old friend! I’ve missed you! Let’s make something!’ But then the age old question, what exactly to make?
I turned to a favorite food blog for a little inspiration, Pinch of Yum. Keeping up with the food blogs I read regularly had also fallen by the wayside as I grieved during December, and I vaguely remembered that when I last read POY, Lindsay, the author, had announced her pregnancy with a baby boy. As I pulled up her page and realized that her most recent posts were a 10 part series chronicling the loss of that same sweet baby boy at 23 weeks I felt absolutely devastated. I sobbed as I read through her posts. Her photographs were so beautiful and her words so eloquent and they mirrored so many of those same feelings I had and continue to feel. It was a very surreal moment, sitting on my couch, weeping for someone I’ve never met but suddenly felt very close to. The internet is both weird and wonderful in that way, I suppose.
One of the things that struck me about Lindsay’s writing was how hope permeated her grief. I am a natural worrier, so hope is sometimes… difficult… for me. The anxiety and worry manifests itself differently but lately and predictably it has centered around what if I can’t get pregnant again? Understandable, perhaps, but as of yet unfounded, and although I know this logically I’ve thought about it many, many times over the last few months. A few days after reading Lindsay’s blog I stumbled across a totally unrelated news article. The article was on one of those news sites that is formatted so that you scroll down from one article to the next with no page breaks. As soon as you finish whatever article you’re reading you’re hit with the headline for the next one. I am clearly the intended audience for this strategy as I often find myself still reading 5 articles later after the initial one I clicked on. I finished the unrelated article and was struck by the headline of the one just below it: Mom Stuns Doctors By Beating Deadliest Brain Cancer.
The woman in the article was 6 years cancer free after being diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma. When asked why she thought she was still alive today, her answer was two fold. First, and I would have to agree, she believes God has a bigger plan for her. Second, and this is the part that really struck me, she never thought cancer would kill her. She claims that she never lost hope, that she never once thought she would die from cancer, and she hasn’t. Mind over matter in the most extreme sense. I finished that article (and didn’t scroll down to the next one) and felt like a little light bulb went off. I know my mind is powerful. I have literally worried myself sick before and in the same sense, physical symptoms have sometimes disappeared as my mind has been put at ease. I don’t doubt that believing she would live is one of the main reasons that woman is alive today. I want my mind to have that kind of positive power too.
This past week, I have tried very hard to keep that article in mind, and not to worry quite so much, especially about getting pregnant again. It’s a struggle, but I am trying, and I will continue to. I think worrying less means living in the moment more. So I’m trying to fully enjoy the things that I can do in this moment because I’m not pregnant, like drink champagne, eat sushi and plan a trip somewhere far away. I’m also trying to slow down and enjoy that I am feeling more like myself again, physically and mentally, urge to cook included, because that truly is a blessing in and of itself.
So what did I make? I wanted something comforting (and easy) so soup it was. It was delicious soup, and I do plan to share it, but first things first, the chicken.
When it comes to chicken soup, shredded is the only way to go. I use shredded chicken A LOT, in chicken salads, on salads, in soups, in tacos, the list goes on. After spending way too much of my life shredding chicken with two forks I discovered this brilliant attachment on my food processor:
I believe it’s a dough blade but since I don’t make bread (yet) I use it to shred chicken. Unlike a metal blade which will turn your chicken into mush, this plastic one shreds it perfectly every time. I pop my chicken breasts in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours, and when they are done they go into the food processor where I pulse them about 10 times or until you reach your desired level of shred. I know, two forks are somewhat easier to clean but this literally takes a fraction of the time and is so worth it if you already have the equipment.
How was that for a non-recipe recipe? I’ll share a real recipe (the mysterious soup that chicken went into!) next time, promise. Til then, I’ll be trying my best to think positive thoughts, and sending them your way as well ❤