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2013 January

Creamy Carrot Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

It is probably no secret that I love soup. Who knows how many soup recipes there are on this blog? (Well, I will find out when I finally make my recipe index!) Though I love almost every soup I meet, I am not particularly fond of sweet ones, and that’s why I was so excited when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I just happened to have bought a five-pound bag of carrots, and I feel like such a champion when I can make dinner with what I’ve already got on hand.

The soup is so simple: carrots, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Not even any cream, so you can feel ultra good about it.

And that’s why you will never believe me when I tell you that this soup has enough flavor to knock your socks right off. That Deb, she is a genius, I’m telling you.

Even still, these cumin roasted chickpeas just about steal the show. They are a little bit crispy, and they actually serve as tiny little croutons. Genius, I tell you.

This bread is technically unrelated to this recipe, but fresh bread of some kind is ever so highly recommended. You’re gonna want to soak up every drop of that soup.

Tahini and I are not really friends, but if you do like it, Deb suggests a lemon tahini topping that you should definitely check out. I’m just going to keep making it this way forever, and I’m very happy to have a delicious dinner on file that I’ll mostly likely always have the ingredients for on hand. A happy find!

Creamy Carrot Soup with Roasted Chickpeas
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
2 pounds (905 grams) carrots, peeled, diced or thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 regular or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more if needed
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
4 cups (945 ml) vegetable broth

Roasted chickpeas
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce (425-gram) can, drained, patted dry on paper towels
1 generous tablespoon (15 ml or so) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

-Heat two tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper flakes and sauté until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
-Meanwhile, heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Toss chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt and cumin until they’re all coated. Spread them on a baking sheet or pan and roast them in the oven until they’re browned and crisp. This can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and firmness of your chickpeas. Toss them occasionally to make sure they’re toasting evenly.
-Once vegetables have begun to brown, add broth, using it to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cover pot with lid and simmer until carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
-Puree soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with roasted chickpeas.

A Bracelet for Mom

Now that Christmas is over, I can show you the bead loom bracelet I made for my Mom! I wanted to try a new design for her, and I knew just the colors she’d like best: purple, turquoise, and orange.

I am still really loving the design process (just me and my graph paper!) and the feeling of creating a beaded fabric.

I’m also way more confident in my finishing and closure skills. Huzzah!

Just for fun, here are all of the bracelets I’ve made, with the oldest at the top and the newest at the bottom. On those first ones, my cording was too wide for my beading needle, so I had to just tie it off. But then I found some thinner thread and learned to finish gracefully. I am having way too much fun with this. To whomever gave me my bead loom for Christmas when I was 13 or so: thank you so much. (Bead loom bracelets, previously: here and here).

Currently: January

I usually check in here on the blog about my goals at the beginning and the end of every month, but I also like the idea of pausing on the 15th to record a bit of the flavor of the month. It’s the little everyday things that I really want to celebrate. So, here goes! But a small note first: my Dad painted that picture above. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Still reading Murakami’s 1Q84. Still loving it.

Listening to an awful lot of Of Monsters and Men and Mumford and Sons.

Having so much fun playing with all my new toys.

Knocking out some of my January goals and feeling like a rockstar.

Getting connected to some new communities and feeling thrilled about it.

Enjoying every minute I get to spend with Eric.

Still feeling all the magic glow of a new year.

Loving this cold weather!

Attempting to learn to cross stitch.

Squealing with glee that my dad wrote some guest posts on my mom’s blog!

Missing my family.

Looking forward to the next time we’ll get to visit.

Feeling so grateful for all my loved ones.

One Little Word–January

This year I am taking Ali Edwards’ One Little Word class, and I am so pumped about it. It’s a great way to get inspired and to connect with other people who are doing the same project. There’s a little session for each month, so I hope this will really help me to keep my word at the forefront of my mind. For January, we made a little calendar of sorts, with different ways to think about our word for each month. I love any spatialization of time (nerd alert!), but I’m also excited because I don’t know what’s ahead of me this year and what these phrases will mean to me when I get there. I hope it’s going to be a beautiful mystery, slowly unfolding itself.

There is a card for each month, but also a few extra ones. I love the dictionary and thesaurus ones, since they provide so many different vantage points on one word. I am excited that open functions as both a noun and a verb.

And I loved making the because card–putting into writing a few of the reasons why I felt drawn to this word.

I’m going to tuck this page into my Project Life album, but for now I have it sitting on my desk, reminding me to be open every day. We’re only 13 days into the new year, but so far it has been awesome. Happy new year! (Because I am probably going to keep saying that until March!)

Nashville Highlights

I have Nashville on the brain. We had an awesome time there with family over New Years, and then when we got back we saw this article in the New York Times, declaring Nashville the new “it” city. And then there’s the fact that I’ve sort of been fueling my new obsession through the show Nashville, which is just too much fun. I would watch it for the music alone, but then there’s Connie Britton. I think we’d all watch her fold laundry because she’s just that good. It’s always been funny to me that I haven’t spent more time in Nashville, since I grew up only three hours away. But I think that’s part of why it feels so much like home to me–a river city in the South, full of music and kind people and good food. I am so glad I have family there now, and I plan on getting back as much as I can. It doesn’t hurt that my amazing brother-in-law had these city guides and local chocolates waiting for us when we arrived! (Let me tell you, I need some more Goo Goo Clusters in my life. Sooo good!)

On our first night in town we hit up the impossibly cute Cafe Coco, which provided a cozy shelter from the pouring rain. Also: completely delicious Greek salad.

After dinner we popped over to the Opryland Hotel, which is really a magical place at Christmas. So many lights! The only time I’d been there before was when I was about 10, and I remember being dazzled. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such an enormous Christmas tree. It was so big it had actual presents on it, as ornaments. Word.

It was actually pleasantly humid inside, so I had to take off all my layers.

Winter wonderland!

Also: orchids everywhere!

The next day we went to the beautiful Belmont Mansion, and…it snowed all day! It didn’t stick, but it sure was gorgeous. We Southern girls never get over the excitement of snow.

We also got to hear a little bluegrass. Fun!

I’m not gonna lie and tell you that our little trip to Jeni’s in East Nashville wasn’t a highlight. I have never seen more interesting ice cream flavors in one place! If I lived there, I’d be there every day. Especially since they are so nice and do not at all mind you trying, say, nine flavors before you decide.

Brambleberry crisp and honey pistachio!

On our last day in town, we got a tour of Vanderbilt from Eric’s brother, who is an alum. It was cold, but cool to hear about the university from his perspective. Our impromptu tour was put together for a young lady who was visiting on a day when there were no tour guides available. Andrew to the rescue! I loved the sculptures. I named this one the Giant Peppermint.

But some of my favorite memories are from the time we all spent around this table at the house that Eric’s parents rented for all of us. We had a lot of amazing meals and wonderful conversations, and I even got them all to play Scattergories with me! Best in-laws ever. I miss them so much. Thank goodness for (copious!) pictures!

365 Project Collages

After I finished my 365 project this year, I put all of the images into a collage. I actually got the idea from Eric–when I finished my first year, he painstakingly downloaded all 365 of them and gave me a collage of them for Christmas. So sweet! I love having all three of them. Above is year one.

And here is year two.

And year three! There is so much of our life in these pictures. Cheers to that.


While Eric and I were in Nashville over the holidays, we went to the totally charming town of Franklin, which is just south of the city and full of its own history. There are few things in life I like more than strolling through small towns, so I definitely had an awesome time.

We started with lunch at Puckett’s Grocery, where I had the most delectable fried chicken sandwich, enjoyed mayonnaise for the first time in my life (I know!), and made the questionable decision to eat a gigantic piece of pie (worth it!)

After all that, a stroll was definitely in order!

I was charmed at every turn.

And not least by this amazing bookstore. I adore businesses in old houses, and this one was teeming with all kinds of goodies…

…and was steeped in history as well.

I also really liked their sign.

And I found these two scholarly gentlemen reading inside. 🙂

After we’d seen most of the town, we had our own private tour of Franklin’s civil war history, given by Eric’s brother, who is awesomely knowledgable about it. We stopped by the Carnton House, where he used to give tours, and got a behind the scenes look. Pretty rad. This house served as a field hospital during the war. There are still blood stains on the hardwood floors. Creepy! But it’s fantastic that it’s been so lovingly preserved.

And finally, I didn’t fail to notice that Franklin has really pretty fire hydrants. I am sure these colors have some municipal meaning…

But to me they just add to the beautiful rainbow of Franklin.

Project Life, Weeks 19-20

I put these pages together before we left town, but am just now getting them posted after the flurry of end of year/beginning of year posts (it truly is the most wonderful time of year!) I am still slowly catching up, and loving it.

I am also still really geeking out over the awesome paper and supplies that my friend Michele sent me, and each week I lay it all out and pick some new fun things to use. I especially love the pattern of this paper and the little embellishments for photos.

And I am still loving these stickers Eric’s mom sent me! There were six of them, and I think I am going to use eevry single one!

I was really happy to immortalize the insanely amazing pulled pork Eric made this fall, and the sweet fall package his parents sent us. Happy fall, if only in retrospect!

Plans and Goals for 2013

2013. I like the sound of that. We had a little informal survey this year over which is better: odd years or even years. I am firmly in the odd camp, even if I’m in the minority. And I’m so excited about this year. I’ve been keeping my goals to about 4 for each year, and then a good handful for each month, and I love it. Big yearly goals tend to get lost in the shuffle, so it works best for me if I can count them on one hand. Here goes!

1. Go on a retreat. I haven’t been on one in ages, and it’s calling to me this year. I don’t know yet when or where I’m going, but I am going. Most definitely.

2. Keep up the C & E Book Club. I use the term book club very loosely. Basically, Eric and I really love reading the same book and then discussing it. He reads mostly non-fiction, and I read mostly fiction, so when our reading Venn diagrams overlap, it is always really fun. He’s just absolutely my favorite person to talk to, especially about books, so I want to make sure we get to that this year.

3. Try some completely new crafts. I love making things, if that wasn’t obvious enough already, but I feel like in the last few months I’ve mostly been hopping between knitting and beading, and I want to try some things I’ve never done before. Like quilting. And cross stitching. And whatever else strikes my fancy. So excited!

4. Exercise. As I said before, this will probably be an eternal goal for me because I am not one of those people who just itches to head to the gym every morning. I have to prioritize it, but I always feel so glad I have done it. I know it’s good for me, and it’s wonderful to feel like I’m taking good care of myself.

That’s it for me! What are your goals for 2013?

2012 Goals Recap

I really like the goal system I have in place these days: four big goals for the year, and then a handful of smaller ones for each month. I’ve never felt so positive about new year’s resolutions, and I think maybe it’s because I don’t really think of them as resolutions anymore. These are not “shoulds,” but “wants.” I am really inspired by the idea that it’s a good thing to make positive promises to yourself and then honor those promises. And it’s thrilling to feel that your time is whatever you choose to make of it. This is the first year I’ve done it this way, and I think I will never stop!

And my goals came out pretty well in 2012! I read a good handful of our cookbooks and had a blast doing it. I did much more sewing in 2012 than in 2011. There are still sewing books to be read, patterns to be used, and garments to be altered, but I am definitely getting very comfy with my machine. I am thinking about using some of Christmas money to take a local sewing class. Yay for mastery of skills! (Well, I would settle for competence!). My goal to keep track of my reading in 2012 was a slam dunk. I read 46 books (47 if you count the one I stole from my mom over Christmas break), and I wrote down every single one of them. It’s awesome to be able to look back over that list, and this too I may never stop doing. And then there is exercise. I did some this year, to be sure, and maybe more than I would have if I hadn’t set that goal. My most fun memories are of running and swimming with Eric at the gym. I don’t want to exercise for weight loss, but just to stay healthy, use my muscles, and get some good endorphins. I am not one of those people who itch to get out and run, but I am always so glad I did. So that’s why it’s on my goal list, and it will probably stay there forever, reminding me to do good things for myself. How did your 2012 goals go? I hope that whatever you did, it made you very happy.

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