Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the great peanut butter caper

Our story begins about a year ago when I decided to give up refined sugar for Lent. It was in everything, I found, even savory things like spaghetti sauce and peanut butter. During that time, I attempted to make everything from scratch since sugar-free was more expensive at the store. But my attempts to make peanut butter were messy, tasteless, watery, and ultimately useless.

Of all the almond, cashew, and other nut butters I tried, none compared to Smart Balance with the yellow lid. It was sweetened with agave, I didn't have to stir or refrigerate it, and the taste was amazing. When Lent was over, I continued buying this peanut butter and returning to it faithfully to flavor my favorite sandwiches, add to savory sauces, and use as dip for finger foods.

A few months ago, I made a pact with myself to start eating oatmeal every morning. I've developed almost a dependence on it for energy and sustenance, and the variety of toppings keeps my palate interested. But one thing is consistent: peanut butter is to oatmeal like mozzarella is to marinara; they can't live without each other.

Until one morning, that is.

That's right. My morning oats were missing an essential building block, but I guess I survived. When The Peanut Butter Caper returned my yellow-lidded peanut butter, however, I had only enough for a few more bowls. So I searched high and low for the yellow-lidded Smart Balance in the meantime, coming up empty-handed at one, two, three, four, FIVE stores. And then it was gone.

That fateful night at my grocery store, I studied each peanut butter diligently. This one had refined sugar. That one had too much sodium. Another was packed with oil. Finally, through the peer pressure of another couple giving me the stink eye for monopolizing the peanut butter, I picked one and went with it, a natural brand called Smooth Operator from Peanut Butter & Co, a company I'd heard good things about. (Yes, research was involved.)

My approval of Smooth Operator only increased with each bowl of oatmeal, each smear on my apple slice. It was so creamy and rich! By this morning, you'd better believe I was excited about this peanut butter, famished because I'd run the night before. I measured my oats carefully, chopped my banana, and squeezed my honey on top of them, and readied my spoon for the main event.

But The Peanut Butter Caper had struck again!

Luckily a kind kind coworker responded to my desperate text and brought me a bit from her home or else my oats would have been naked again, and the special part of me God so specifically created for peanut butter would have been itching all day.

My Dear Peanut Butter Caper, I love you from the bottom of my heart. You are my favorite person in the entire world. What's yours is mine and what's mine is yours, even Smooth Operator peanut butter. But I don't think you want to mess with THIS again. Capiche? Unable to keep a straight face, LB

Sunday, March 28, 2010

dear house,

Dear House,

Things have been bittersweet since we decided to put you on the market. But we knew it would be safest not to depend on a renter and two mortgages, even though we would miss you. I've always loved you as a house. You're the perfect house for a small family -- a quaint white house old on the outside, very updated on the inside, and absolutely full of love.

I will miss your huge kitchen with tons of natural light, track lighting JT installed, and especially your gas oven and stove. Geez will I miss that! I tried to make dinner on my mom's electric stove the other day and I burnt it. Do you know how much cooking magic you've given me? I discovered how to do one of my very favorite things within your walls.

You really are the perfect location. I will miss Saturday morning runs down Main Street on my exactly two mile track to the Veterans Park and back, walks to the Farmer's Market for fresh greens in the spring and summer, and visiting the little chocolate shop owned by the lady from Belgium with the romantic French accent. Trips to the grocery store won't be the same because it won't be my Reasors, laid out in a perfect way with the stocker who makes funny jokes. And how will we know it's time for bed without the 11:00 "Seep-Seep Train" in the distance, every night without fail, loud enough to be our reverse alarm clock, but far enough away that we can't hear him when we're asleep. If only you weren't 50 minutes away from work, you'd be the perfect spot :)

We have loved updating you with new paint, new light fixtures, new driveway, new landscaping, new windows, and so much more JT did before we ever met. Not to mention the best fence I have ever seen which he built by hand, with the help of friends. But a nice young man bought you. We hope and pray he will take great care of you. In one month from today, our boxes will be out, and your key will be in his pocket. But until then, we have lots more memories to make. After all, you are our first house as a married couple, maybe our only other house we'll ever own, and have served me well for two years and JT for almost seven!

Even though our new house is closer to work, newer and bigger, you will always play that special role in our hearts, and we will wonder what your new owner has done to you often and what the whitebud tree we just planted in the front yard will look like in bloom, and if he keeps your spiral staircase that awesome teal, and if he will appreciate your natural light and old house quirks we grew to love. 

Don't be surprised if we drive by, LB

Friday, March 26, 2010

the secret to a happy marriage

I believe a one way ticket to a man's HEART is through his stomach. In all honesty, love is so much more than that, it has so many more layers than that, but we joke that JT didn't fall for me until I fed him my mom's death by chocolate cake. Anyway, along those same lines, tonight, I let the food do the talking for me -- even if I had to point out to JT that there was a heart on his lasagna.

Visit The Undomestic Kitchen for this recipe for KERF's Best Vegetable Lasagna!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

KERF's Best Vegetable Lasagna

I think Kath is right. This is super delicious and pretty easy! If I can make it in the middle of house showing season with no stress, you can, too! My favorite part is that 1) it's fairly inexpensive, 2) it will not get old because you can use whatever vegetables you like/your family will eat/you can't find any other use for in your fridge. I've really been enjoying Kath Eats Real Food, from the different ways she flavors her oatmeal to creative ways to implement healthy habits into life. Plus, as you will discover, she has great recipes!


3 cups pasta sauce
16 ounces 2% cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
Approximately 4 cups mixed vegetables (I used spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, and zucchini)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare your baking dish with cooking spray. Chop your vegetables until they are bite-sized and close to the same shape and size. Combine cottage and parmesan cheeses in a bowl. Place 3 uncooked noodles along the bottom of the pan. Cover with 1 cup of your pasta sauce, making sure to cover all of the noodles with sauce. Next spread on about 1/3 of your cheese mixture, and then layer 1/3 of the chopped vegetables, and sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat this step twice.

Being the quintessential undomestic that I am, I forgot the last step in this process, the mozzarella cheese. I can't wait to make it again with that extra cheesy goodness, though my husband and I were perfectly happy with just the cheese on top this time!

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake one hour, until cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbling. I was out of aluminum foil, and the recipe still turned out great!

And now...
The secret to a happy marriage

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

dear blog readers,

You may have noticed a little "spring cleaning" on this blog -- trying to springify it, if you will, and it's still under construction. But I've added a little about me tab under the headers because, for as much as I've tried to make this blog an open book, I know there are some of you I don't know, or have only recently begun to know better. I want you to know the context behind my day-to-day stories as much as I want to know your stories.

That said, is there anything  you wonder about that I can add to that little corner of my blog? I am working on a new section of "favorites," so how about we make this a little game. You tell me your favorite anything (cheese, color, hairstyle, song, day of the week -- whatever) and I will put mine under that section. For those of you I don't know in real life, feel free to say hi!

Because one of my most 
favorite things 
in the entire world is 
making new friends!

Friday, March 19, 2010

things you MUST know, right now!

  1. My stud of a husband scored not one, but count 'em, TWO goals in his soccer game last night. I'm convinced it was the steak dinner we made that did it for him. It doesn't take a huge event for a steak dinner at Casa Tomlinson; they happen not often but randomly because we always have something to celebrate! Here's wishful thinking that a little love and a lot of extra protein helped fuel his kicking cleat!
  2. Somehow last evening, we worked a full day, sat through inspections at new house, cleaned and showed our current house (cannot call it old house yet because of a psychological block), cooked dinner together, and walked the 3/4 mile to Braum's for soft serve in the sunset -- in shorts and flipflops, praise the Lord -- all before 8:00 p.m. And JT even added an indoor soccer game to the mix! Is this what it's like to keep a house clean for more than a week? A magic concoction that enables us to eat our food before 8:00!?
  3. Is your bracket destroyed? Mine sure is! Especially since my Longhorns lost by one in overtime. So disappointing. I maintain that Rick Barnes should have put in Dexter Pittman, aka Sexy Dexy because he is a BIG boy. In my angst, I texted my dad and brothers, "Should have put in Sexy Dexy. Go big or go home, Barnes!"
  4. This morning, I am wearing a marigold John Brown University t-shirt in honor of my BFF Lindsey J (aka Lelj, Leljie, LelJay, etc.) I am so proud of her because she is WEEKS away from graduating with her master's degree in Counseling and Marriage & Family Therapy! With it, I am wearing flip flops and my signature hairstyle I use when I go to sleep clean but wake up in a feverishly furious sweat and don't have time for more than a sponge bath of sorts. Does anyone else have a hairstyle like this?
  5. I just received a press release (NOT written by me) that had "Tednesday" written in the dateline. For some reason, this tickled me beyond belief and I am still experiencing random outbursts of laughter that I cannot control. 
  6. You have to see this picture I hijacked from my friend, Sarah. Her sweet baby boy, Oliver, had the song, "Son of a Preacher Man" stuck in my head all morning. He is so precious! In her post that went with this picture, she said that preaching time ended when he tried to rip out the book of Genesis. What a boy!

    Happy Friday!!

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Ellie's Cowboy Steak

    JT raved over this simple, delicious recipe. The best part: I bought these steaks on sale from Whole Foods one weekend and they were absolutely perfect. The second best part: this is a healthy recipe. Not an ounce of cream. No butter. Not even any oil. JT found that kind of hard to believe. But this flavor profile is so rich and succulent. Since it's a rub, there's no marinading time. (Ellie Krieger's original recipe found here.)


    • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons coffee
    • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 1/4 pound shoulder center steak (Ranch Steak), or top sirloin, about 1 1/4-inch thick


    Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. In a small bowl combine all the ingredients for the rub. Spray your skillet with cooking spray, but work quickly so it doesn't burn before you get the meat on. Coat the steak well on both sides with the rub. It should stick well to the naturally moist meat if you gently press it on with your fingers. 

    Cook steak for 14 minutes, turning once halfway, for medium to medium-rare. I had some pretty thick steaks and this was the perfect amount of time, but make sure to adjust according to the thickness of your cut. 

    Allow steak to sit for 5 minutes before slicing. I served mine with a Caesar salad and sweet potatoes, but this "healthy" rendition of steak will stand up to steak dinner staples like mashed potatoes and gravy, warm dinner rolls, and veggies. So delicious!

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    highlights from today

    At my office, we go big or go home with our celebrations. Even though there are only seven of us in our particular office, birthdays, holidays, work anniversaries, and even work-related goals are cause for celebrations. Balloons, plates, food, etc. And I think it's made us into a great team. St. Patrick's Day is one of my coworker's favorite days of the year. It's a few days after his birthday, and he celebrates it not because of the tradition, but because he can find anything and everything in his signature favorite color, green. We knew we had to go big since this day is so important to one of our own.

    Highlights from today:
    • Take one look at this green spread: yoda soda (sprite + lime sherbet), Irish soda bread, green cookies, green cupcakes, green dip.
    • Random bursts of Irish accents with co-workers, especially when someone discovered her top two authors had distinctly Irish names. Our favorite things to say were "Kilearney" and "Good marnin'"
    • Getting my work computer and Outlook cleaned up spic and span. I think I went from 500 emails to less than 30 saved ones.
    • Getting caught up on my "hopper" of work -- one of them, anyway!
    • An unexpected 15 minute power nap     
    • Finding out that three of my good friends from college are expecting little ones this fall! (They seem to come in spurts, no?)
    • An amazingly challenging Pilates class. I was sandwiched between two instructors, but I didn't feel nervous at all, even when my muscles shook. I needed this intense resistance strength workout. (See food above.)
    • Getting to sit and relax with my husband after a long day. I sure do like doing that. 

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010


    Dear Spring, Don't be shy. You can come visit us for a few months. We've been cleaning like madpeople preparing for your arrival. Thank you for longer days, warm sunshine, and thunderstorms that wash away the winter and leave a trail of green! Heck, you can stay all year if you want! Kindly, LB

    Dear E. Loerke,
    Thanks to you and Tim for being such a great example of a beautiful, adventurous couple with the love God intended for man and wife, and the zeal God intended for those who know and love Him. I so wish I could sit with you and hear your story over warm mugs of cocoa. Until that day, know that your letters are not only changing your marriage, but they are helping to change mine! Inspired, LB

    Dear Sweet Potatoes,
    Sorry I bought several of you and will never end up using you. You can die a slow death until you end up in the trash and I will be forever ignorant about what happens to you. You see, the other night we went to McNellie's and had their sweet potato fries, and now we are ruined forever. The perfect crunch, the sweet bite, and then a dash of salt strategically placed for that "Mmmmm" factor. Mine will never do you justice. Ruined for Life, LB

    Dear Little White House,
    You've been a great house for our entire marriage and Jef's bachelorhood. But it's time for us to move on to lots of natural light, a five-minute drive to work, and more bedrooms to fill with babies someday. I will miss your spacious kitchen, Saturday morning runs down Main Street, walks for fresh produce at the farmer's market and a treat from the little French chocolate shop, my neighborhood Reasors, and how close you are to the BA Expressway. We've enjoyed putting lots of hard work and memories into you, but I know someone great will see you, buy you, and take care of you when we're gone. In Fond Memory, LB

    Dear JT, 
    This morning when I made my batch of morning oats, I discovered that someone had kidnapped my beloved peanut butter and honey from the cupboard. Do you think that means that someone might like PB&honey sandwiches as much as I do? Could he have wanted to make those sandwiches at work? I think I will have to punish you with kisses, even though my oats felt naked without their main squeezes (ha). Thank you for challenging me every day. Love you more than Carrabba's spicy chicken soup, LB

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    My day was just made

    Let me give you a little context.

    In the midst of all of the hooey that I mentioned in my last post, tomorrow I have a business trip in OKC. To make up for all of the brownies, cookies, smore bars, etc. that our OKC coworkers haven't gotten to consume, I decided to make cinnamon rolls. But not just any cinnamon rolls. They would have to be Pioneer Woman's cinnies, partially because I am ruined and cannot eat any other cinnies anymore. This week, I made some verbal commitments to make them so I wouldn't back out at the last minute.

    Fast forward to tonight, when it was actually time to get to cookin'. My parents invited us to a benefit dinner for clean wells in Africa, and we didn't get home until 10:00 pm. Upon arriving at my house, I discovered that I didn't have whole milk, and my skim milk in the fridge had expired yesterday. I'd just put on my PJs, but a trip to the store was no big. I got home and began the first process. Then I discovered that my second required yeast packet had mysteriously disappeared and my spirits were deflated.

    Deciding it wasn't worth another trip to the store, I sprinkled the packet on my milk mixture and tweeted The Pioneer Woman frantically. I added my flour half-heartedly, breaking the cardinal rule of precise measuring because it wasn't going to rise anyway! JT and I turned on American Idol while I prayed my dough would rise. And when I came back to my computer, I found this:

    I screamed, jumped up and down...and immediately wished I hadn't messed up my dough. JT was excited for me. He has pretty much every recipe in her cookbook bookmarked and knows how big of a deal this was to me, the girl who once (only half seriously) suggested to him that I drive an hour, show up in Pioneer Woman's hometown, and ask her to meet me in a random location to sign my cookbook. I would NEVER do that, now would I?

    Still giving my altered dough time to rise, so we will see how they bake and hope for the best! I will keep you updated.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    What are you working for?

    If you've read my blog, hopefully you know by now that I'm a Christian. My fanny has been planted in a pew most Sundays yet this past Sunday's worship experience resonated with me in a way not many messages have.

    The question: what are you working for? What drives you to work from nine to five, exercise, spend hours cleaning, practice your instrument for hours, or whatever occupies your time and burns your energy between sleeps?

    God didn't rest on the seventh day because He was weary from six days of toil; He rested because He was pleased with what He had done. Can I say that drives my work? Unfortunately, no.

    This message came to me just a few days after a discouraging talk at work that was the pinnacle of stress and frustration. Let's just say that right now, I feel like I'm back in fourth grade doing the presidential physical fitness test and flailing to keep my head above the bar. The bar is constantly being raised and every day has been a struggle to keep up. But the stress is taking a toll on my poor house, my body, my morale, and the white hairs that keep sprouting on my head.

    On weekends, I'm definitely resting because I'm tired and sometimes feel defeated, like I cannot win, at my job, not because I deserve it, am afforded it, or am taking a break to reflect on the good things that I have accomplished that week.

    Luckily this week has been phenomenally better. I am getting a handle on my new increased workload (knock on wood), even if it means working from home a little more. While I still wish we spent two days working for a five day weekend and not the other way around, I'm finding rest in the evidence of God all around me.I am focusing on the good and finding hope in what's to come.

    And I'm really excited about something He's blessed us with that I can't quite mention yet

    Let Hope Rise!

    Friday, March 5, 2010


    After months of deliberation, I've joined the iPhone revolution. Her name is Monique and she is beautiful.

    In fact, I am posting from her right now and she is smart enough to correct my fumbling fingers. This should be the start of a long and fruitful friendship.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    things like this

    Dear Diary: Today, I woke up feeling perfectly refreshed. To top it all off, my boss gave me the day off and JT surprised me with plane tickets to Costa Rica. There we rappelled a rainforest waterfall, munched on plantain chips, waded in the ocean at sunset, and fell asleep under the stars. If Only, LB

    It was not my perfect day today. In fact, it was the kind of day that gave me every indication that God is preparing me for lots of transition. JT and I have gotten settled in this blissful daily tradition, and I think He wants us to change it up a little bit soon. Since it seriously gets better every day, I'm excited to see what the "new normal" has in store for us, if that makes sense. I choose to gladly be excited about the future, submit to God as best as I can (I will need to recommit to this daily), and take the refining fire if it means my heart will be changed and molded through this.

    But I don't need a whirlwind trip to paradise to constitute a perfect day. It's the little things that God provides like sunshine, good food, and deep belly laughter with loved ones that I wouldn't trade for anything. Notice things like minor victories, chance meetings with people I'll probably never see again, and quality conversations can be taken with me anywhere, no matter what the new normal looks like. Things like this don't depend on where you live, how much money you make, or who is president of the United States. Things like this are universal, kind of like The Man Upstairs, which lets me know they are His hugs and kisses to a world that cannot see him.

    And because they're from God, I believe things like this have the power to trump the bad vibes and negative attitudes that come from bad days.
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