Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Gift of Giving

During this time of year, it is always so easy to get caught up in the Holiday craze, commercialized propaganda, and lure of all things shiny and new. I'll admit, my Christmas list was quite elaborate this year, as there are many high priced tangibles that I would be thrilled to receive. However, in the midst of the merry madness, I also find myself more eager to find ways to give. For me, Christmas is more than a few presents and a plate full of cookies, Christmas symbolizes the most sacred gift to all of mankind and it is extremely important to me that I can find a way to honor and reciprocate the spirit of giving during this time.

For awhile, Toly and I have been discussing the idea of giving a portion of our income to a charitable organization. The only problem we had was deciding which one we wanted to participate in. After doing some research, we finally decided to become Partners of Hope for The St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Each month, we will make a donation that will go directly to the research of terminal illness and funding for medical treatment for these children so that no child is ever denied. We will also receive letters and pictures each month, from children who we have helped.

What a gratifying reward! Toly and I know that we have been blessed well beyond our needs and it is truly the very least we can do to share some of our blessings with others who are in need. If you are able to make any kind of charitable donation this holiday season, I strongly encourage you to give this some thought. It doesn't have to be much; every little penny makes a significant difference to those who have next to nothing. Think of how fortunate you are for the things that you have and see those things as a blessing, not as an expectation. I promise the experience of giving is entirely uplifting and worthwhile.

There are countless ways that you can give and even so many right in our very own blogsphere.

You could help Holly build a well in Cambodia
Or you can support Caitlin as she trains for her first marathon to raise money for the Luekemia and Lymphoma society.

Okay, just had to get that off my chest….

Today was downright COLD! Nope, cold doesn't even describe it, it was more like glacial.

I think I need to start swapping up my usual bowl of cold cereal with warm oats in the morning because I was shivering after I finished breakfast. The only trouble I have with making oats in the morning, is that my oatmeal breakfasts usually take more time, and on work mornings, I don't have that time. Does anyone know if microwave oats taste just as good as stovetop? Or can I microwave rolled oats or do I have to buy those icky instant ones? Maybe I should do some experimenting.

Speaking of experimenting, the lovely little doll Emily over at The Experimentarian was so gracious to send me a bag of her homemade trail mix. Dried apples, chocolate chips, almond, dried cranberries….yep it was pretty unbelievable and made the perfect morning snack. Thank you sweet girl! :)

Lunch was pretty much perfect today. Being that it was sub-zero outside, I knew that a hot bowl of soup would be entirely fitting. I warmed up my leftover homemade Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and added a big handful of baby spinach. I topped the steaming soup with dried cranberries and greek yogurt. So fantastic!
Some nibbles on the side included a slice of pumpkin cranberry bread, carrots and almond butter and fruit.(The cantaloupe was one that my dad picked up for me at the farmers market. I wasn't too sure how it would be, but honestly, this is one of the best cantaloupes I have had all year. Thanks Dad!)

For dessert, a Candy Cane Kiss. LOVE these! Probably my favorite of all kisses. (Well except the ones I get from my hunka hunka burnin love! ;)

Dinner this evening appeared and sounded a bit more upscale; however, undeniably easy. I made

Roasted Vegetable Balsamic Veggie and "Pasta"with Pesto Shrimp in a light Dijon crème sauce

First, I roasted Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and Eggplant with salt pepper and balsamic drizzled with honey at 450* for 10-15 min. I also roasted my "pasta" during this time, which was a spaghetti squash.

While they cooked, I worked on the sauce which started off my sautéing some garlic and evoo in a skillet. Then I added shrimp and let them cook for a min. Remove the shrimp and toss them in a touch of pesto. And to the skillet, add chicken broth, balsamic, Dijon, laughing cow and greek yogurt, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and basil. Let the sauce cook and thicken for a few minutes.

Once the sauce is done, remove the veggies and toss them in the skillet of sauce. Then I layered….
  • Baby Spinach
  • Cooked Spaghetti Squash
  • Roasted Veggies and sauce
  • Pesto Shrimp
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese

Traditionally, Toly had a different style.

Fettucini Alfredo with Garlic Butter Shrimp

Ah-Ma-Zing!!!! Far exceeding anything I have ever ordered at Olive Garden! :) We both LOVED our meals!

My belly is full of veggies and I LOVE it! ;)

Okay, no mas for tonight. TGIF because this has been one loooooonnnnngggg week!

Night loves.


  1. cranberries and butternut squash are such a beautiful and tasty winter combo

  2. NICE job on the donation decision! Josh and I felt the same way, which is why we decided to make the donation to the SPCA.

    Both your lunch and dinner look delicious. There is something so incredible about roasted veggies, isn't there?

    Hooray for almost Friday

  3. I cook my oats (slow cooking) in the microwave whenever I'm in a hurry!! :)
    No difference... and no need for instant oats!! :)

  4. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive :)

  5. That's so awesome that you are able to donate to St. Jude. Since I live in Memphis (where St. Jude is located) and am a nurse I've had the opportunity to take care of some pretty sick St. Jude kids and it is just amazing the hope and strength they get from that hospital.

    As for the oats, I don't think microwave oats taste as good as stove top :( But they are a lot quicker and you can even prepare it the night before, refrigerate, then pop into the microwave. And you can use regular oats in the microwave too, don't have to buy instant!

  6. Hahaha I am on the ground laughing at your hunka hunka burnin' love comment. I did Girl Scouts for 13 years so giving back is in my blood! You and Toly are such amazing people and I'm sure whoever is on the receiving end will thank you forever and ever. I love the dollop of Greek in your soup!!! What a fab idea. I am imagining what it tastes like in my mouth right now.

  7. i love roasted veggies! & that is so true, giving is so important :) we truly are so blessed!!

    i like the instant oats lately with hot water! haha


  8. Shrimp makes everything taste better! :D Totally jealous you munched on some cantaloupe! I miss it so!

  9. We donate monthly to St. Judes as well. It is a wonderful charity. I'm glad you decided on it! Also, the shrimp looks sooo yummy!

  10. You have such a big heart! One of the many reasons I love you :D I agree with you though. We are all very blessed and it's refreshing to think outside of our lives and see how we can help others.

    I want to send you some warmth!!! It's raining over here but it's not cold. Frustrating because I want to get some sun. That's like source of energy lol. Your eats all sound amazing and I love the sound of that pumpkin bread. Yumyumymum. Everytime I'm around any pumpkin or pumpkin type thing I think of you.

    p.s. I have a candy cane kiss too :D

  11. Love your blog!!! I just got the same template!!! I am still trying to figure it out, the menu section, I am clueless!!! I hope you have a great day and Happy Holidays!!!

  12. what a great idea and for such a great cause. i admire your decision! that is awesome! emily is a doll. i am lucky enough to live near her :) haha~your hunka hunka comment was so cute!! youre adorable and i just love you to pieces. both yours and toly's meals look mouth-watering. delish. i hope you have a great weekend!! get some relaxing it :)

  13. make that IN! haha

  14. Glacial - haha, I like that term! Emily's trail mix is crazy delicious, isn't it?! She's a pro trail mix maker! Those balsamic veggies sound absolutely divine!


  15. I think that I vote you the sweetest blogger ever. You always have the nicest posts. And prettiest food!

  16. I think it's great what you're doing to help St. Jude's. And congrats on your promotion!

  17. I love your idea to donate a portion of your income to a charitable organization! My office did a food drive and donated 107 lbs of food today. It feels really good to give back to the community, especially at this time of the year!

    Thanks so much for the comment on my blog. I'm excited to read more of your posts!!