Nov 8, 2013

Friday's with Francesca- Spunky Spaghetti

So this year is the first time I have lived in my own place, a cute little apartment that does the trick for my last year of school (can I get an amen?) :) And one of the things I love the most about living off campus is being able to choose my own food! I love reading books and searching for creative ways to eat the foods I love without all the calories. On a recent trip to the library I found a recipe book called Hungry Girl to the Max!- The Ultimate Guilt Free Cookbook and let me tell you it is pretty much my new favorite thing.

The author of the book takes all of the food you love and makes them into low-calorie treats. And we all know those low-calorie recipes where the serving sizes are literally fit for a baby but these are filling and delicious! I have tried 4 recipes at this point and have plans to try many, many more (or as many as I can before I can't renew the book anymore hehe)

So without further ado here is the recipe, along with the things I learned along the way!

Pepperoni Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash (about 4 1/2 pounds)
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
One 14.5-ounce can creamy tomato soup with 4 grams fat or less per serving
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
30 slices turkey pepperoni, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Optional: salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Second, microwave the spaghetti squash until it is soft enough to cut through-This the first time I have ever cooked or eaten spaghetti squash and found it pretty easy to cut through the middle after about 4 minutes on high. After cutting them in half, scoop out and discard all the seeds. Fill large baking pan with 1/2 inch of water and place squash halves in the pan with cut side down. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes!-I watched them and mine ended up being soft enough around 30 minutes so just keep an eye on them when you're nearing the end.
Use a fork and scrape out the squash in strands. Place them in a strainer to drain the excess water and set aside in a large bowl with a lid to keep them warm.
Bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic, and cook and stir until softened, about 8 minutes- make sure they are softened because I found out the hard way what its like when they're not ;) Then, stir in the soup, sour cream, pepperoni, and basil. Cook and stir until well mixed, about 2 minutes. 
Add the mixture to the squash and there you go- A delicious, filling meal for half the calories! 1 3/4 cups is only 212 calories, yes- 212 calories!! Eat and enjoy! 

What recipe books have you all found to be healthy but delicious? I would love suggestions-I'm always up for trying new things and finding different takes on foods!

Nov 6, 2013

Nov 4, 2013

Halloween Recap

     I hope your Halloween was fun and that you aren't too sick after stuffing yourself with candy. Gray and I didn't participate in the trick or treating festivities, but we did host a Murder Mystery Party with several of the couples from Monday Night Crew.  If you're looking for a fun group event I would highly recommend it, we had soo much fun. Gray was the host (a role he played extremely well!) and I was the character "Royal T" a professional wrestler with a hot temper, loud mouth and jersey accent (?). My character didn't have very many friends and as it turns out I was the victim. Lesson learned: don't get in the way of Australian billionaire's they tend to get what they want. . .

Oct 30, 2013

Riggin's Update.

     This portrait so accurately portrays our puppy. Too much cuteness with a look that says "are you calling me human? That's cool, but unnecessary, because I'm going to stay right here. You aren't the boss of me." Such a stink butt, and I mean that both in jest and literally. His farts are unnaturally pungent. . . Since when did cuteness cover such a multitude of sins? Since Gray and I decided to be push overs, that's when. Ugh!
For your enjoyment I included the video below. 
If we "can't" train him, at least we can laugh at him, happy Wednesday!

Oct 29, 2013

What I'm reading.

     I have the privilege of reading again, "Lies Women Believe," by Nancy Leigh DeMoss with some of the ladies in my life group. In an effort to be prepared for our first meeting, I was reading back though the introduction and came across this passage.
     As you look at your life, would you say you are experiencing the abundant life Jesus came to give? Or do you find yourself just existing, coping, struggling, surviving?
     I'm not asking if you have a trouble-free life. In fact, some of the most radiant, joyful women I know are women who are living in painfully difficult marriages; women who have wept at the graveside of a son or daughter; women who have been diagnosed with cancer or are caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer's. But somehow, in the midst of the problems and the pain, they have discovered a source of life that enables them to walk through the valley with peace, confidence, and wholeness.
     I'm ready to be challenged again. I've gotten too complacent, just existing, I'm ready to live an abundant life and I'm so excited to start this journey with my life group ladies!
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yolk of slavery. 
-Galatians 5:1

Oct 28, 2013

The Overlook.

     Five miles on windy mountain roads can feel more like 100 miles, especially when the driver gets queasy and asks for a cup "just in case" his lunch decides to get the heck out of town. It's never boring with Gray. If I were a better more observant wife/sister, I would have read both Gray and Fran better and noticed their not so subtle message, "the overlook doesn't sound that fun." But I didn't so we took a trip to the mountains and had a semi good time despite anyone's unwillingness or queasiness. I can only imagine what they thought, "you brought us here? it's not that cool Jak . . ." well to be honest, it wasn't that cool the day we went. It was extremely foggy making the view only half decent. I guess you can't win all the time. With that in mind, have you ever planned activities that didn't turn out the way you had envisioned? I'd love to hear your stories!



             
             

Oct 25, 2013

Friday's with Francesca

Welcome to a new segment on the blog Gray & Jak! I'm super excited that Francesca has decided to be a regular contributor. She'll be sharing her thoughts every Friday, everything from fashion to food will be covered. She's super cute and creative so don't worry, you won't be disappointed! So without further ado, take it away Francesca . . .

     Well hello all! I have to say I am pretty excited to offer you "Fridays with Francesca." Jaklyn and I have been attempting to join together on this blogging thing for a while and it looks like we might have finally found a way to make it work. First, just let me say I had an incredible weekend in South Carolina with Jak and Gray. Greenville is so diverting. 
     Second,  it is always a blast being able to brainstorm and dream up new creative ideas. I love Pinterest for that reason. I have been collecting ideas for a few outfits I was hoping to put together over the break and of course to do this a trip to the thrift store was in order. And let me tell you, this thrift store in Greenville was THE best, yes, THE best! I ended up with too many things to choose from (and we all know this rarely happens when shopping!). In the pictures below (c/o Jaklyn) are a few of my favorite finds. The skirt was $4 and the purse was $3 (say what!). These are my first pair of patterned tights and although I was nervous about them, I have to say they ended up being my favorite part of the outfit! So scroll through the pictures and enjoy! I hope they encourage you to go out on a limb and add something new to your wardrobe because I mean everyone could use a little pizzazz in life!
top: c/o kohls
tights: c/o forever 21
skirt: thrifted
leather purse: thrifted
necklace: c/o premier jewelry
bracelet: c/o premier jewelry
earrings: c/o premier jewelry 
infinity scarf: handmade crochet
nail polish: c/o essie 

Oct 21, 2013

Flower Child

     This past week Francesca made the trip down from Ohio to spend the week with us. I cannot tell you just how amazing it was. We did everything from driving winding roads for mountain views, relaxing, reading, coffee dates at Starbucks, shopping/thrifting (I'm currently wearing a sweater I got for $1), baking, eating, laughing and talking. She's such a joy to be around, an instant best friend, the perfect companion. Sisters are good for the soul. Also during her time here she allowed me to dress her up and play photographer. Disclaimer, this whole post was my vision and I did everything short of using physical force to get her to dress up. Francesca you have the patience of a saint thank you for letting me express my artistic vision! In sum, I'm just so glad you chose to spend your fall break with me.


Oct 10, 2013

Sisters.

     Just thinking about my sisters and how much I enjoyed spending time with them this past weekend. It gets harder and harder to leave, especially when I know how many special moments I'm missing (one of the sad parts about growing up). I'm so thankful for them. They are each unique and bring so much joy to my life. Francesca with her sweet spirit and her unwavering friendship, Victoria with her twinkling eyes and her silly humor, and Dominique with her warm hugs and her quick wit. I'm so extremely honored that I get to be their big sister and so extremely proud of who they are all becoming. Love you guys bunches!

Oct 3, 2013

Biltmore

This post is less about Biltmore than it is about our two year anniversary which happened to be two weeks ago on September 17th. I'm just now getting to this post because one I feel like there is so much to say and yet I didn't really know how I wanted to say it. Two, Biltmore was the "formal" celebration of said anniversary, so why not wait till after our trip to write about it.



















     At this time last year Gray and I were sitting across the table from one another at La Parpardella staring out the window at the cobbled streets in Spain. We were thoroughly enjoying our Italian food (because anything that wasn't Mercedes' food was amazing) while reflecting back on everything that had occurred during out first year of marriage. We counted ourselves quite lucky, we were living in Spain, taking every opportunity to enjoy our surroundings and to see other countries and we were finishing school in December. The world lay at our fingertips and our lives were just starting. Even though Spain had it's difficulties, that didn't mean we weren't optimistic about the future. 
     Fast forward to this past weekend as we made our way to Asheville, not quite the celebration trip Gray had imagined, but that in and of itself truly represents out relationship at this point; learning. There's a give and take we are still trying to figure out. We've officially moved past the honeymoon phase and this past year has presented new challenges we have had to learn how to overcome as a couple. 
     We arrived home from Spain and had two weeks with our sweet families before loading up the u-haul and moving all of our crap (which we have too much of ... how did we collect so much in one year or marriage?) to South Carolina. Gray had gotten a job at Summit Church as one of their campus worship pastors so with that taken care of, it was time for me to follow suit. But it wasn't that easy. We knew Gray's income would make due alongside the funds that we had saved up, but it wouldn't cover us forever. For Gray, this knowledge was slightly more stressful than for me, you could say I'm not the most money conscious person. So we made the smart decision to get a dog during that time. [Rabbit trail ...We always knew we wanted a dog, maybe two, so why not get started while one of us was at home? That way it could be quickly crate and potty trained. Eh, it sounds logical but no one tells you how stinking expensive man's best friend can be. We lucked out in that Riggs has a great personality, but jeez the allergies! Those doctor visits really add up.] So with three mouths to feed instead of two we were hoping for something. On Valentines day our stress was eliminated, I started work at a great company. Obstacle one down! 
     Come March we had gotten into the swing of things and we were super excited because our best friends were getting married in Cleveland. It was our first time seeing friends and family since moving. The positive, it was a great refreshing trip, the negative, it made us realize how much we valued and how much we were lacking those types of relationships in Greenville. So we started praying that God would provide people we could connect with. I know you have to give this time, but for someone as socially wired as Gray it can be a hard wait. Little by little through Monday Night Crew and through sheer will power to stick ourselves out there, we are making strides. I wouldn't say we've overcome this obstacle, but we're working on it!
     So moving through to May, the grind and normalcy of adult life finally set in. My heart was in a rough place and I started to grumble and complain. My free spirit felt trapped behind a boring desk at an eight to five job, so I became a constant thorn in Grayson's side. I couldn't say one positive thing about my job, it was all "horrible," I hated everything. I quickly learned if you're always looking for the negative, you will find it (something Gray learned last year). I don't know what it was that finally kicked me in the gut, but slowly I started dying to myself. I realized that God had provided this job for our family and even though if might be for an indefinable season of my life, he was calling me towards more than a life of protest. Cue the apologies. Obstacle three down!
     Around the same time, Gray decided to go back to school. If anyone were to tell Gray more school was in his future I would have laughed. He was so adamantly opposed which is why it came as such a surprise when he decided to get his MDiv. It definitely added a whole new layer to our lives but in thinking about the future and how we plan on supporting ourselves and future kids should we have them, he wanted to make sure we were moving in the right direction. So he learned to manage two jobs, a dog, his sanity and after all that he still finds time for me. Obstacle four down!
     It probably seems like this year has been an endless challenge (I use that word loosely knowing that others have faced way worse), but there have been so many good things in the midst of the muck. Gray and I have continued to grow. Moving away from family was one of the best things for us. It was kinda like spreading our wings for the first time since being married. The decisions we made were our own and the challenges we faced we faced together. We had to have the important discussions without relying on anyone else to carry the weight of  tough decisions but each other. It's made me extremely grateful. I've realized just how selfless Gray can be and just how selfish I can be (and vice verse). I don't think Gray and I went into marriage with fancy illusions, but a realistic attitude doesn't necessarily save you from everything. There will inevitably be issues uncovered and eventually your flaws will be unmasked. So thank goodness for grace!
     I look back over this past year and feel empowered, Christ revealed himself to Gray and I in so many ways. I've continued to learn so much about myself and our relationship and I've continued to grow. I think I'm just as excited if not more excited to continue along this road. I love you Gray, life would look bleak without you in it! Here's to 80 more years (ha, maybe for you, but not for me)!
     This post wasn't meant to be so extremely long, but because so much happens in a year I guess it was unavoidable. 

Oct 1, 2013

On my mind.


So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.