Monday, March 2, 2015

Current Trend I'm Liking

Well, I'm loving the spring fashion trend of wide leg slacks. I'm all about wide legs. The wider the better. Because they look good on tall girls. But, this is not the trend I was thinking of.

I'm loving the trend that I'm seeing in my female peers-the trend of getting help.

Mommy wars and feminism have equated our worth as women, wives and mothers with what we can accomplish. We took a giant step backwards (or maybe a couple giants steps backwards). We became the do all to end all.

We've started fighting back against those unreasonable expectations. We've realized there is no way on God's green earth to do everything. There are no's for every yes.

But, now we are taking it a step farther. We're not just focusing on what we can't or aren't doing. We are getting on board with Newton's Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It's about balance and symmetry.

We have a need. We are getting help.

We are having someone clean, babysit, cook, do laundry, or home-school. Or do any number of other tasks that need doing. Some of us are paying for help. Some of us have people helping gratuitously. Payment is not the point. Getting help is.

And it is good. It is helping the economy. It is helping our sanity. It is helping relationships.

I think we have hesitated to get help because we are often focused on people judging us. So and so will think I am not enough to keep my junk in order. Sometimes these so and so's are a vague idea and sometimes they are actual people in our lives. Peers. Parents. But, we need to remember that this last century was one of the only centuries where communities and families weren't helping each other as much. We became more mobil and more global and we got isolated.

We hesitated because of guilt. Often we aren't battling what we think others think. We are battling our own thoughts. We are our own worst critic. Our heaviest burdens come from our own ideas of what we should be doing, but aren't doing. We are staggering under the burden of our own unrealistic expectations. Or we ourselves are judging someone else about their choices and thus we don't have freedom to get help. Sounds pretty ugly when typed out.

We hesitated because we felt help was a luxury-one we couldn't afford. We can afford smart phones, cable television and eating out, but we can't afford help. I'd say that we are beginning to realize that we can't afford not to get help.

We hesitated to get help because we lacked the courage to be the only one. Yet, someone stood up and said they'd had enough. And someone else. And someone else. And their courage inspired the rest of us. It's a brave thing to say you can't do everything. It's a even more brave thing to do something about it.

I have a babysitter who comes in weekly so I can do She Plans Dinner business. I am contemplating hiring a cleaning service to deep clean every two weeks or so. I have my kids help me with lots of chores around the house. That's the help I'm getting.

What help are you getting? If you aren't getting any help, what help could you use? Is there anything you could give up in order to have that babysitter, tutor, cleaning service, etc?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Helpful Links and Creamy Bacon Mushroom Soup Recipe

We are getting back into the swing of normal life. At least, our brand of normal.

A week of school completed, which means one less to complete before the end of the school year. Good food is being eaten. Exercise is happening. Taxes are being compiled.

I switched working days this week, for the next 2 months. My regular sitter is spending two months in Hawaii with her sister who is having a baby soon. My pinch-hit baby sitter is in college and can only swing Tuesdays. So, I'm switching from Thursdays to Tuesday, working from noon to 5:00. It went so well this week. I was surprised. I got a ton done. I am looking forward to having the ends of my weeks more available than they have been for a year or so.

Since it is Friday, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite links from around the web this week. But, today I want to focus on three helpful links...

Amazon Smile. Shopping Amazon through Amazon Smile allows you to support your favorite charity just by shopping. A percentage of each of your purchases is donated to the charity you pick. It takes about 2 minutes to sign up, and then you simply shop Amazon through Amazon Smile. It works the same as Amazon.

Take Them a Meal. This website provides a convenient way to organize meals and other things (can do cleaning, babysitting, etc) for those in your life who need the help. Think new moms, or shut ins, or people recovering from surgery. This allows a broader audience than a say, a church sign-up sheet. I think it is about the best thing since soft spread butter.

Modern Mrs. Darcy's Daily Kindle Deals. Anne Bogel has this page on her blog, and she updates it every day. Each day she lists anywhere from 10-20 books that are on sale for your Kindle. Most of the books she lists are on sale for free to $3.99. Her list was the primary reason I could travel to Spain with materials to read, but without hauling any big tomes. I'm hooked. I scan her list everyday or so, to see if there is something listed that I'm wanting to read. Check it out.

Well, though I am desperately hoping for spring-just like all of you-I'm still stuck in winter-just like most of you. Which means that I am still filling our menu with soups. I think we are eating three over this period of two weeks.

One of my favorite soup recipes that I have discovered this winter is Creamy Bacon Mushroom Soup. It's pretty self-explanatory, and it's delicious. What's not delicious about mushrooms, bacon and cream? Even if you are dairy free, you must admit it sounds delicious...

It is quick to assemble, and tastes great with fresh rolls, and a salad.

Creamy Bacon Mushroom Soup
20 bacon strips (1-1/4 pounds)
2 pounds sliced fresh mushrooms
2 medium onions
6 garlic cloves
2 quarts heavy whipping cream
4 cups chicken broth
10 oz (2-1/2 cups) shredded swiss cheese
6 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 Tbsp water

-Cut bacon into 1/2” pieces. In a large (4-6 quart) pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until
crisp. Using a slotted Spoon, remove to paper towel, reserving 2 Tbsp of the drippings.
-Meanwhile, chop the onions. Slice the mushrooms (if not sliced). Mince garlic.
-In the reserved drippings, sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic until fragrant and tender. Stir
in the cream and broth. Gradually stir in the cheese until melted.
-In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir into the soup. Bring to a
boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the bacon and serve.

So, what are you predicting for March? In like a lion, out like a lamb?

You'd better eat your soup while the lion is roaring!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spain...The Post You've All Been Waiting For

Before I left, I told you that I may not get anything written while we were gone. I don't know if I'm prescient or practical, but writing didn't happen.

For many reasons.

Primarily though-everything we experienced was so amazing and I was in sensory overload. I find it very hard to write about my experiences as I am going through them. I have to think and process and then I can write and share. So, I did little FB blips but that was about all.

Plus, I was on vacation and writing takes time, and my vacation time needed to be focused on my family and friends and what we were doing. Not on writing, editing and watermarking photos. (in the words of Jack Sparrow) Savvy?

Even now, the idea of telling you the even just the essence of the whole trip is rather daunting. I don't think it will fit into one post. At least, not into a post of coherence and reasonable length.

Here's some thoughts....

-We were gone for 16 days, 3 of which were spent solely in travel. We flew from Chicago to Istanbul and then on to Madrid the first day of travel. We spent one day traveling from Jumilla to Barcelona. And we spent our last day traveling from Barcelona to New York City (first time I've ever been to NYC!!) and then to Chicago. We were supposed to fly back through Istanbul, but our flight got cancelled. It was much shorter flying to NYC, and I think this is the only reason we aren't completely trashed right now. Moral of the takes time, and it is good to figure that in when you are planning trips.

-We planned this trip to visit our friends in Jumilla, but we figured it would be a shame to visit Spain without seeing Madrid and Barcelona. So, we spent our first 4 days in Spain in Madrid-including a day trip to Segovia, then went to Jumilla for a week, and finished up with 2 whole days exploring Barcelona.

-Because our time was limited, we decided to go wide and big picture instead of deep. We did city tours instead of visiting specific sites. I mean, we saw the outside of a whole lot of museums and sites, but only went into a few. This approach gave us a good idea of what exactly each city holds and an overview of the culture and history. It also whetted our appetites. We keep talking in terms of when we go back-not if-and what we will do the next time.

-I was convicted about my lack of Spanish. Sigh. And motivated to get my butt in gear and learn more than gracias, hola, si, haste leugo, and moy bueno. Mr. Hippie has a bit more vocabulary than I do, but I think we both will be hitting the Spanish lessons (more) faithfully. The kids did okay, but I also think they were encouraged to keep applying themselves. Which is the outcome I was hoping for.

-I mentioned before we left that we were packing light, and only packing backpacks. This worked very well. We did laundry in Madrid and Jumilla, and had plenty of clothes to not have to do laundry everyday. I think I did do laundry a lot of the days because the washers take over 2 hours to wash one load, and everything has to dry on the line-which takes plenty of time. But, getting back to the backpacks. Having a limited amount of stuff allowed us to pack and repack quickly as we moved from location to location. And we kept our souvenir purchases to a minimum because we knew we had to carry them on our backs the remainder of the trip.

-Okay, so Madrid...we rented an apartment via AirBnB. It had 3 bedrooms, plus a kitchen, bathroom, living room. It was located in downtown Madrid near one of the hub underground stations, which made getting around very convenient. The apartment was also 1/2 mile from the Prado museum, and the Park De Retiro. We spent our first afternoon at the Prado museum seeing the Goya exhibits. The next day we went on a free walking tour (Sandeman's New Europe tours) of the historical districts of Madrid. We saw churches, castles, walls, monuments, old restaurants, etc.  And we finished up that day at a Flamenco show. People recommended flamenco to us, but I can't say that it was the favorite activity for any of us. I think the music, yodeling and dancing is supposed to tell a story, but I didn't get it. Our last day in Madrid we spent eating a nice lunch at Plaza Major and on another walking tour-this time focusing on the literary and art background of Madrid. A lot of authors lived and wrote there. Several famous artists were from there. We finished up our afternoon wandering the Park de Retiro. We hung out at the fountain, and wandered the pathways. We realized after we got home that we missed the Crystal Palace in the park. Next time... Mr. Hippie also went back to the Prado for another hour or so. We loved Madrid and left wondering why everyone was all about Barcelona.

-Segovia. Segovia is an ancient town, about 100 kilometers from Madrid. It is a doable day trip from Madrid, which is how we decided to play it. There is an iconic aqueduct, cathedral, and castle. It is literally dripping in history. The aqueduct is from Roman times. You can climb up by the aqueduct. You can walk through tunnels under the aqueduct. You can visit the aqueduct museum. We climbed by it. We only did that because we wanted to visit the cathedral and castle too. The castle, Alcazar, is Isabel and Ferdinand's castle. It is where Isabel was crowned, where they were married, and where Christopher Columbus came to ask their permission and funding to go exploring the ocean. The cathedral dates from the 1500s. It's lines are clean on the outside, but it is very ornate on the inside. It was definitely worth seeing.

-Jumilla. This is the town where our friends live. It is rural. A town of olive and grape farmers. They are famous for their wine. In Jumilla we experienced everyday Spanish life. We lived Spanish schedule. Late nights, later mornings, big meal at 3:00. Our kids got to attend school with our friends' kids. LC joined their daughter in her class. The boys joined a class, but also spent at least half of every day teaching English in the English classes. The kids were celebrities, being blond Americanos. We visited the Jumilla market, and the Balneario (volcanic baths) in the nearby town of Archena. We climbed to their castle (twice), plus did some minor mountain climbing to see some ancient cave paintings. We also visited the local monastery. And walked a road that is 4000 years old. Jumilla also had a tapas competition happening. For 2,50 euro, you get a tapas and a drink. We hit the town hard several nights and got to enjoy each restaurant's best offering in the tapas department. It was fun. While in Jumilla we also got to experience some amazing Spanish home cooking. Our friend's mom is a phenomenal cook. Not only that, her sister and aunt also cooked for us. It was all delicious! We had a wonderful time in Jumilla with our friends. We talked and laughed and even cried. We went to church with them and did life with them. It was great.

-Barcelona. Sigh...people told us that you need at least 3 days to experience Barcelona. Alas, we only had two. But, we made the most of our time. We stayed a bit out of Barcelona with some friends of our Jumilla friends. Their apartment was conveniently located near the bus stop though, and from there we were able to get right into Barcelona. We walked our legs off in Barcelona. We did a 3 hour walking tour both days. One was historical (iconic buildings, etc) and one was focused on Gaudi. On our second day we climbed a mountain to see the Olympic stadium and the castle at the top. And to see the view from the castle. I loved Barcelona. It was warm, and the Mediterranean Sea was right there. I feel like we got a good taste of Barcelona, but there is much more to see. I loved the architecture.

-Also-Cataluna. Who knew? Not me. Barcelona is part of Cataluna. It is a region of Spain with its own language and flag, and its own desire for independence. Barcelona is fiercely Catalan. I had no idea. This Catalan thing threw me-especially the language. Some words are similar to their Spanish counterparts. Some are completely different. This made for some confusion.

-A whole bunch of random...The food was amazing. Both the home cooked food and the restaurant food. We loved the bread, and would have fresh baguette and ham sandwiches. Or baguette with olive oil and grated tomato. Also, wine is cheaper than water in Spain. Fun fact. I had hoped Meres would be able to walk, so I left our stroller at home. This proved to be wishful thinking, and we ended up purchasing a stroller in Madrid. Best decision of our trip. Also, Madrid and Barcelona both have lots of little playgrounds all over the place. This was fun for the kids. And, Spain is rather mountainous. I know I said this before, but this was a big surprise to me. Geography isn't my strong suit. Also, there are castles sprinkled around everywhere. All over the place.

We all loved Spain. We felt blessed to be able to visit, and to go as an entire family. Like pinch me, is this real... It is something we will never forget. Mr. Hippie said it may have been his favorite vacation ever. I might agree. We experienced so much, and got to hang out with good friends. That made it very memorable. It was fairly stress free-unlike our trip to Indonesia. We don't feel like we need a vacation from vacation. We just have to get back into real life...

I am ready to be home for a while, but I can't help thinking about the next trip. Where to explore? Italy? Greece? London? France? Scotland? Ireland?

Bon Voyage!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Spain Adventures in a Photographic Nutshell

So, we are back. And I am faced with jet-lag, dirty laundry, a slight stomach bug bothering multiple Barefoot Hippies, no groceries, and over 1000 photos to sort, edit and watermark.


This is my Spain photograph post. My Spain trip thoughts post will come on Wednesday. 

You will be happy to know that I did not put all 1000+ photos in this post. I whittled it down to 67. And, to save you all that scrolling, I combined the 67 into 17 collages. I know. I impressed myself...

But, I'm easily impressed.

By colorful buildings and intricate architecture. By blue skies and wrought iron balconies. By castles and cathedrals. By sheer weight of 4000 years of history.

Segovia, Spain. Alcazar, the castle and throne room of Isabel and Ferdinand. This is where Columbus got permission and funding to sail the ocean blue.

The Roman Aqueduct of Segovia. And the Segovia Cathedral. I loved the clean lines of the outside of this cathedral, with the lesser amount of ornamentation.

Madrid Cathedral, an OLD section of wall, Plaza Major (Madrid)

Entrance to Madrid from the 1800s, random pretty buildings. The castle-like one is the PO

The Royal Castle
(moving on to Jumilla) Cave paintings, climbing to the paintings (freaked me out!!), Ben and Mr. Hippie, Jumilla Castle.
Castles are kind of sprinkled all over Spain on random mountains.
Friends enjoying THE best churros, and the Jumilla Cathedral

I did not realize Spain was so mountainous. What can I say? Geography is not my strong suit. History is.
Mr. Abellan is the father of Loli. He braided a slingshot on the way down the mountain, and then showed us how to use it.
Loli and I. Ana Jo and LC.

Cave house. Olive trees. Jumilla is filled with olive groves, grape vines and wineries. Their wine is amazing.
Also, wine in Spain is cheaper than water. Go figure.

Our kids and their friends...they all had a blast and we miss them a ton.
Paella, Meres and Mercy "her pup"
(moving on to Barcelona) An aqueduct built into a wall, the Barcelona Port, the market which was filled with fruits, vegetables, meat, wine, cheese and flowers. It was awesome. Motifs of Wilfred the Hairy and St. George, patron saint of Catalan. Who even knew Catalan was a thing? Not I. Ignorant no more.
Arc De Triumph, the awesome fountain, a rose window, and my kids...

The Art Museum, Olympic Stadium, Meringues, and the Barcelona Cathedral. (not to be confused with the Sagrada Familia) So, everyone told us we should climb to this castle thing for a good view of Barcelona. We thought they were talking about the Art Museum, but hill went on behind that, which led to the Olympic stadium, and then more hill behind that, which finally led to the castle and some great views.

Gaudi. I can appreciate his talent, but its not my style. Gaudi is rather gaudy. IMHO. Different strokes for different folks.
The Sagrada Familia is amazing and is nowhere near completed. Gaudi's bone house (top right)
Bottom right inspired George Lucas so much that he based Tattoine's buildings on it. at the Barcelona port, the backpacks packed (they worked very well), a cafe bombon,
and old Roman graves.
So, that is a small glimpse of what we saw. I keep thinking of photos I could have included, but then we would be here all day. Congrats on making it to the end....

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

20 (plus) Tips for Traveling Overseas

While you are reading this, I will be winging my way over the Atlantic, heading first to Istanbul (layover) and then on to Spain. Madrid. Segovia. Jumilla. Barcelona. All the places...

I am really excited. Spain oozes history-rather like England. I love history and historical locations. I love seeing with my own eyes places that I have read about. I love then going home and reading even more books set in that location and thinking, I know what that looks like. I've been there! That's the best!

Anyway, this being our second trip with kids overseas, and my fourth trip overseas, I thought I'd pass on a few tips I've found helpful when traveling.

When Planning Your Trip:
-Use a travel agent. A travel agent is the equivalent of a tax preparer. They are both experts at their jobs. and they can do their jobs way faster and more accurately than I can. That expertise costs-but the cost is worth the peace of mind and reduction of stress. You know what I mean. We all are capable of googling flights and hotels, but the information can be overwhelming. A travel agent sorts through the overwhelming and gets the best price or best route or best whatever that you are aiming for.

-Apply for or renew passports. Make sure your passport is up to date and is not within a year of expiring. There are restrictions involved with that. Passports can be expedited, but it costs. Plan ahead and save yourself a bundle.

-Immunizations. So, I understand if immunizations are not your deal, but sometimes they are required for overseas travel. Check that out sooner rather than later.

-Visas. Most European countries do not require a Visa if your stay is less than 90 days. But, this is not always the case. Goggle the country your are planning to visit for what their requirements are.

-Wills. This may seem morbid, but we did our will before our trip to Indo. Now it's done. Just in case.

Getting out the Door:
-Photo copy passports. This is just a good idea in case your passport gets lost or stolen. Keep the copy(-ies) in a different suitcase or bag than the originals.

-Print up itineraries and tickets. In our digital age, this seems redundant. And so not green. But, the hard copies are helpful for when you don't have an internet connection.

-Write down the address and phone number of the location you will be staying, and take it with you on the airplane. You will need this for forms that must be filled out for customs. Make it easy on yourself and have it handy. Btw, can I just mention what a pain in the butt it is to fill out 6 forms for each and every country we visit on our trip?

-Pack light. Obviously this is important enough that I wrote a post on it. But, I have never regretted packing light. I have often regretted packing too much.

-Inform your bank. This is a vital thing if you are hoping to use your bank or credit cards while traveling. If you forget this step, your card with invariably get shut down. All that fraud prevention...

-Hold mail. God bless the USPS, because this is something that takes about 2 minutes to do online.

-Purchase currency. Whether you plan to mainly use credit cards or not, you will still want some currency. Sometimes there are fees directly as you enter the airport for which you must pay cash. It is far better to get a good bank exchange rate, than to pay high airport fees.

-Unlock your phone. And/or purchase some sort of international plan. You will pay through the nose, regardless, but purchasing the plan is infinitely more affordable than racking up fee by fee for individual texts or calls. Btw, if you know me IRL, don't text or call us while we are gone. Email. It's free.

-Load some books onto your person device. It's the less weighty plan. Mr. Hippie is a somewhat slow packing light learner. Every trip we take, he wants to bring these fat books along. I'm telling you-save the weight and buy books for your device. Even if you are a paper and ink, real book acolyte, you will thank me if you follow this tip for books and traveling. I got a couple free books, and a couple 99 centers, and I am ready for my 32 hours of airplane time.

-Forward your itinerary to the important people in your life. So in case an emergency happens, they know how to reach you.

-Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. And a toothbrush. You start to feel yucky after a while. This helps keep the yucky at bay, and gives a back up in case of major spills or sickness.

-Pay bills. If you are going to be gone for more than a week, make sure you pay any bills that will be due while you are gone. Yes, many can be paid online, but wifi access is notoriously sketchy when not at home. And, who wants to have to remember to pay bills while on vacation?

-Turn off water, turn down heater and water heater. There is no reason to heat or cool your home like it is full of people. Keep the temps warm enough so pipes don't freeze, but that is it.

On the Plane
-Stay hydrated. Every time they offer something to drink, take it.

-Move around. Get up and walk the aisles. Stretch your legs.

-Sleep when the lights are dimmed. The goal is to begin acclimating your body to the time change.

-Noise canceling headphones. I don't own any, but people who do, swear by them. They help you sleep and give some personal space in a very tight space.

-Dress in layers. Planes can be cold, then hot, then cold again. Layers will help you spend the time more comfortably on long flights. Also, wear comfortable shoes that have some wiggle room. Feet almost always swell on planes.

-Bring a surprise for any littles among you. Some people do little toys to open every hour. I usually do one thing. I'm a minimalist. And cheap.

Well, those are my top 20 (plus) tips. What would you add? I ask that question with a bit of trepidation. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything vital that will become patently obvious as we are winging our way over oceans.

I am not sure how much I will be posting while away. My goal is to be focused on vacation and my family and the friends we are visiting. Maybe you see a post, maybe you won't. If not, I will be sure to share pictures and such once we get back home.

Until then....

Monday, February 2, 2015

Packing Light

I'm a last minute packer. Not quite the 11th hour. But not very far off either. We leave for Spain tomorrow, and I'm packing today.

Currently my bed is full of 6 backpacks and a whole bunch of stuff to put in them. But, I am being really careful, because whatever makes it into these packs has to be carried on our backs for the next 2-1/2 weeks.

That 1000 page tome for airplane reading fodder? It's not going anywhere.

Something I've learned from many trips is that light is best. Trust me. It is.

"He who would travel happily, must also travel light" 
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In life, if we thought about all the weight we choose to carry day-in and day-out, would we choose to lighten our load?

The heavy load of stress. The overwhelming load of not forgiving. The burden of sin. The never-ending weight of day to day life.

I remember back to when I was a camp cook. The shenanigans campers indulged in....The perennial classic/favorite of piling rocks into fellow campers' bags....

How often do we pile rocks of sin, bitterness, work, guilt, and stress into our own packs or into someone else's? How often do we make our own (or someone else's) burden heavier than it needs to be?

Thankfully there is someone who promises to lighten our load. To carry our burden. To switch out packs with us.

That's so awesome.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. (Psalm 55:22)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

It just makes me hmmmm in contentment and peace.

Jesus bore our burden. He bore our sin. He carried our grief and bore our sorrows. Jesus bore our guilt and our punishment. He wants to carry any other burden we are laying on ourselves.

So, enjoy that thought and pray for me while I get packing.


Friday, January 30, 2015

5 Ingredient Cheesy Chicken Breasts

It's been a great week. Can I say that with a huge sigh?! Looking forward to the week, it was crazy busy with preparation for our trip, plus tax stuff, and lots of SPD stuff. (because we are going on a 2-1/2 week long trip to Spain)

But, God provided. God stretched time and multiplied efforts. God extended grace to let good enough be good.

Freckles got his braces taken off on Wednesday. He is thrilled. I am thrilled. Way less slurping is coming from his corner of the table at meal times.

Our annual winter party is tomorrow night. I reverted back to a Cheese Tasting Party, because it is so sophisticated. And it's easy to pull together. I am really looking forward to connecting with a bunch of our good friends before we leave.

This week marked our fourth weekly date. I think we are making this a habit. We are vacillating between Wednesday nights or Thursday nights-whatever works best for our family and schedule. This week we are picking out cheeses for our party.

Oh, and btw, this is my 800th post here. Wow! I think that is pretty cool!

Some links to make you laugh and think.

The pic my brother posted to my FB wall
when I described one of Meres' recent outfits.
Btw, this is absolutely true of Meres. Every day.

Let's Go Sailing...(America's Funniest Home Videos)

Tell Your Friends How Much Money You Have (Blake Mankin). This article made me think. He has some really good reasons to talk about something we consider very personal-finances. And there is a whole list of great (and practical) questions included.

Cluttered Lies (Becoming Minimalist). 6 lies that keep our homes and lives cluttered.

Use Your Words (Shauna Niequist) The power of the spoken word. Use them to breathe life.

So, today's recipe isn't even sort of healthy. Well. I supposed the chicken is healthy. But,

Do you see that? Chicken wrapped with bacon, dipped in eggs and stuffing crumbs, baked, and then topped with Velveeta.

Big sigh...

So, selling points...

1. Everything is better with bacon.
2. Meres loves to participate by handing me slices of bacon to wrap around the chicken. So, your child can help you too.
3. Everything is better with bacon.
4. The chicken stays super moist on the inside, but has a fantastic crunchy outer layer.
5. Does anything not improve when wrapped in bacon?
6. This recipe is reminiscent of chicken cordon blue, but it's way easier to make. WAY easier.

5 Ingredient Cheesy Chicken Breasts
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 pounds)
8-12 slices bacon
1 egg, beaten
1-1/2 cup herb stuffing crumbs
1/2 lb Velveeta, sliced

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Crush stuffing crumbs with a rolling pin to make finer.
-Place egg in a shallow dish and beat lightly. Place crumbs in another shallow dish or a bag. Lightly grease a 9x13” baking dish.
-Wrap each chicken breast with 2 slices of bacon.
-Dip each piece of chicken in egg and then is stuffing crumbs. Lay each coated piece in the pan without them touching each other.
-Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Top each breast half with a slice of cheese. Continue baking for 10-20 minutes or until the chicken is brown and the cheese has melted.

Nope, I can't think of anything not improved with bacon...including your weekend!